Sunday, 31 January 2010

Footy Club Limelight.....Coming to a team near you!!

I know, the anticipation of the upcoming new series is nearly to much to take, but your patience is soon to be richly rewarded, and the excruciating wait, almost over. Starting next week I am pleased to announce, I will be writing a new weekly series called "Footy Club Limelight." Each article will be a concise, but devoted critique delving in to the inner sanctum of each of the 92 clubs in England. The journey will be starting from the lowest division in the Football League, League Two, marching all the way to mecca and the promised land of Football that is, the Premier League.

The purpose of this selfless act, will be to explore each and every club, shedding some light on some of the lesser known teams in England, dimming it on the bigger, and weighing up their credentials as potential suitors to be the chosen one.

Sure, sometimes the decision on which club to support is made for you, either by shear proximity, a dictatorial parent or sibling, or a combination of both. Though, other times, the thought of following your local team is about as appealing as resigning yourself to a life of perpetual stagnation. Or, perhaps, the role model in your life has worryingly poor taste, that you refuse to indulge. For example, my Brother supports Manchester United.

As the game has now truly become global, their is also the proposition that the nearest local team could be several thousands of miles away. And, as this global market continues to grow, how and who exactly is scooping up these millions of devotees, eager to swear their allegiance.

Often supporting a club is compared to following a religion, and for me personally, my faith has been brought seriously in to question of late, given the perils that Liverpool's season now finds its self in. But, as with religion, my blind faith for Liverpool continues unrelenting. The very idea of ever switching the club one supports, or "converting", is a perverse one, that would severely undermine the years of building a superior integrity among your fellow peers. It would also immediately prompt them to have you checked in to the Priory. Indefinitely.

However, these testing times, have made me think about why I support my chosen team, and would the solution of lowering one's expectation when choosing their beloved club, have a direct impact on the correlation of their mood and the results on Saturday afternoon?? Could this thesis be the answer to seemingly unprovoked acts of domestic violence?

Probably not. Even if I were to do the proper, civilized thing, which is to surpress mood swings and support my local team, Worcester City, and not glory hunt in the ripples of the Mersey, I am sure I would still be able to justify the importance of a 3-2 defeat in a preseason friendly at the hands of Stourport Swift. This, in itself is the very nature of the football supporter.

However, despite this tribal like behavior, by the end of this epic journey I will hope to have complied a comprehensive, if not encyclopedic guide to all the clubs in England. Concluding with which team is the best team to support and why. Surely their is a definitive answer?

As there is a local theme to this series, I am making one exception to the rule of only exploring the 92 teams included in the Football League and the Premier League. Unfortunetely, as I am sure this series will no doubt explain in scathing elicit details, my local team is not in a high enough tier of English football to qualify for the series. So, therefore I will start the series with my home town team Worcester City FC, then jump from the glamours of the Blue Square South Division, to League Two. The reason for including Worcester then bypassing the rest of the teams in the division is partly because Worcester holds obvious sentimental value which makes it a logical place to begin, but mostly because I really can not be bothered to add a further 45 clubs to an already intimidating list.

After Worcester has been warmly perceived as the best team to support in all of England, I will then, just as a many teams have done before, climb my way up the divisions until I reach the Premier league, where I will finish with the team I support, Liverpool.

For obvious reasons I am looking forward to writing about Everton and Manchester United, but the other personal highlight will be Norwich City. Not quite so obvious, but those who know me well enough will understand why.

This will be a long and arduous task, and I will need all the help I can get. If there are some palpable reason why the club you so dearly love, simply is "By far the greatest team the World has ever seen" be sure to let me know. I will endeavour to keep the phone lines unjammed and the inbox well monitored, as the building plethora of anticipation has you salivating at this monumental challenge. Although, realistically, the salivating could just be down to being rendered gormless by the prospects of a fruitless task. Until next week, control yourself.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

5 Steps to save Liverpool's plummeting reputation

Originally this was going to be a simple guide that Rafael Benitez could thumb through at his leisure, possibly while nonchalantly grooming his goatee, on how Liverpool's season could be saved from the human misery that it is now inflicted on everyone of its supporter. However, following last nights FA Cup defeat at the hands of a plucky Reading side that is languishing one place above the relegation zone in the Championship, its has become obvious with crystal clear clarity, that its far too late to save the season.

Yes, I have finally awaken from a self inflicted solitary confinement of denial, and have come to terms with that the only prize being offered now, is the glimmer of holding on to a rapidly fading Liverpool reputation. I have mourned the Champions League, and have accepted that the Premier League will probably haven taken an early retirement by the time Liverpool ever get back into the reckoning.

So with out further delay, here is my simple 5 step plan on how Liverpool can salvage its ailing reputation.

1. Kidnap Xabi Alsono from Real Madrid
Given that Benitez was responsible for Alonso's exit following a baffling campaign to bring Gareth Barry to Anfield, I would task Benitez -accompanied by the aide of a crafty scouser sidekick, with a covert operation to smuggle Alonso back. Once returned back to his rightful home of Anfield, to avoid suspicion, Alsono would then have to adorn a wavy black wig that bounces with volume, and wear the shirt of his supposed replacement, Alberto Aqualani. With Aqualani absent most of the time due to his insatiable affection with the injury table, its the perfect guise, and a win win solution for all parties.

2. Hire Glenn Hoddle's faith healer
Having faith, albeit blind faith at times, is integral to any successful side, and is something that is sorely lacking, currently among the Liverpool ranks. The drastic inclusion of a faith healer in the dressing room might alienate Liverpool from their supporters, and cause a media frenzy, but a least this might detract from misfortunes on the pitch. It would also further cement the sentiment, "In Rafa we trust."

3. Re-brand the Europa League (again)
And shamelessly call it the Champions Division, where only champions past and present are eligible to qualify every year to the exclusive club. If your name doesn't have the word "Champion" inscribed after it on the prestigious list, then you aint getting in.

4. Expand the "Big four" to the "Big Six"

I am tired of the same old "big four" predictably shuffling themselves in an orderly queue for a dollop of nauseating Champions League dinner. An exhaustion that has nothing to do with the fact that Liverpool are in danger of inadvertently dropping out of the dinner line for the first time in years. No, I just feel its time that more Premier League clubs got the chance to participate in an already English dominated arena. Although, perhaps I am being overly ambitious and presumptuous to think that a top 6 finish for Liverpool is within reach.

5. Clone Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres
Dolly the sheep was cloned in the last century and Sam Rockwell was being duplicated for corporate convenience in the sci-fi thriller Moon, then surely cloning Liverpool's two star players must be a technological possibility? Sure, there would be a few minor ethical hurdles that would need to be navigated and maybe a couple of rule changes that FIFA would have to tweak, but nothing too major. For extra measure, I would also infuse the clones with horse placenta in a cocktail of equine-star athlete scientific mastery.

If for some inexplicable reason Benitez chooses to ignore all of the above recommendations thus further risking imminent failure, and, if you happen to be a Liverpool supporter reading this then you may wish to consider lowering the bar of expectation by beginning to support a team that already has a lower reputation. The only question being, with your faith so delicately poised, is which team has the right level of ability to carry your expectation? Which conveniently leads me to announce that I will be providing all the answers in a new series called "Club Limelight" in which I have given my self the epic task of critiquing all the prospective candidates starting from League 2 all the way to the Premier League. Quite a sacrifice you might say. Stay tuned for more details to follow next week.......
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