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Archive for May, 2011

WHY DOES DICTATOR BLATTER THINK HE IS GOOD FOR THE GAME? IT IS TIME TO BOOT HIM OUT

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Crisis? What crisis? asks Sepp Blatter

Crisis? What crisis? asks Sepp Blatter

BY JOHN GUBBA

What a staggering show of defiance by FIFA President Sepp Blatter who has shrugged off the crisis surrounding his governing body at a remarkable press conference in Zurich.

And how sad that this FIFA farce should take the spotlight away from the Champions League Final that represented everything good about The Beautiful Game.

Blatter has dismissed all allegations of corruption from all quarters including his own vice President Jack Warner who says “Blatter must be stopped”

Like all dictators Blatter refuses to accept criticism. He insists his organisation is “not in crisis just facing difficulties” and dismisses all allegations of corruption

Despite growing calls for him to resign and corruption allegations over the vote that awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup, Blatter is determined he will be reappointed FIFA President for another four years on Wednesday (June 1).

It will take a revolution within FIFA to stop Blatter extending his 14 years in power. And sadly that is unlikely to happen despite Warner’s opposition.

Blatter says he is good for the game. But ask anyone outside FIFA and you would struggle to fill a small room who agree with him.

The truth is the FIFA President has brought The Beautiful Game into disrepute. And the time has come for Blatter and his chronies to step aside or for a new governing body to take control of the world game.

THE REAL WORLD CUP SCANDAL      

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SWANS DESERVE TO BE FIRST WELSH DRAGONS TO PLAY IN THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

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Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

BY JOHN GUBBA

Congratulations to Swansea on becoming the first team from Wales to win a place in the English Premier League. And well done to dignified manager Brendan Rodgers for leading his team to a thrilling 4-2 win over his former club Reading in the Play-Off Final at Wembley. It has been a traumatic year for Rodgers who lost his mother Christina in 2010 and his father Malachy is suffering terminal cancer. It is good to see one of football’s genuine nice guys finally enjoy the sweet taste of success. The former Manchester United youth team player was tipped for the top as a manager by Jose Mourinho back in 2004 when he invited Rodgers to join his backroom staff at Chelsea.

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‘SIR BOBBY ROBSON WAS THE GREATEST’ SAYS BOYS OF 81 HERO: UEFA CUP WINNERS REUNITED 30 YEARS AFTER EURO TRIUMPH

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Sir Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town conquered Europe 30 years ago this month

Sir Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town conquered Europe 30 years ago this month

BY JOHN GUBBA

On the weekend that Sir Alex Ferguson was denied a third Champions League triumph by Barcelona, it is worth remembering one of British football’s other great knights who did achieve one of his greatest feats thirty years ago this month.

The late Sir Bobby Robson always said that his best ever team was the Boys of 81 side that won the UEFA Cup for unfashionable Ipswich Town in May 1981.

Tomorrow (May 30) most of Sir Bobby’s triumphant squad – including Mick Mills, George Burley, Frans Thijssen and John Wark -  will will be re-united  when they join fans for a gala dinner at the Town Hall in Ipswich.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Town’s historic achievement VISIONSPORT.TV have produced a commemorative DVD that includes full highlights from the 80/81 season and a special tribute to Sir Bobby.

“Bobby Robson was the greatest football manager I ever played for,” says former Ipswich Town, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Scotland midfield legend John Wark.

 

Commemorative 30th anniversary edition of the Boys of 81 DVD

Commemorative 30th anniversary edition of the Boys of 81 DVD

The official Boys of 81 DVD include all the highlights from an epic 1980/81 season when Ipswich Town were on for an unprecedented Treble. Bobby’s Boys had to settle for the UEFA Cup after finishing runners-up to Aston Villa in the title race and being knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City.

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BRILLIANT BARCELONA HAVE RAISED THE BAR AND MAGICAL MESSI IS ALREADY ARGUABLY THE GREATEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME

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Messi mesmerised United when he made it 2-1 before David Villa added the third

Messi mesmerised United when he made it 2-1 before David Villa added the third

BY JOHN GUBBA

If there was any doubt before Barcelona’s intoxicating Champions League Final triumph over Manchester United, surely there is no argument now. Barcelona boast the best football team in the world – and their talisman Lionel Messi is the best player on the planet.

Still only 23, Messi is the already arguably the greatest player the world has ever seen.

Before the Argentinian adopted son of Catalonia came on the scene Pele and Maradona were the undisputed masters of The Beautiful Game. Now the pint-sized genius – around whom Barcelona have built probably the greatest football team ever assembled – is staking his claim to be the No.1

It is frightening to think just how great the magical Messi can become when you consider that footballers rarely hit their peak before they reach their 27th birthday. In a world increasingly dominated by giants it is reassuring and refreshing to see that small can be beautiful. At 5 ft 61⁄2 in Messi is dwarfed by Cristiano Ronaldo at 6ft 1. But Messi stands tall as the undisputed king of football.

20th century greats Pele and Maradona

20th century greats Pele and Maradona

Manchester United entered the record books and became English football’s most successful side by winning their 19th League title, finishing a runaway nine points clear of Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. In the Champions League Sir Alex Ferguson’s men hadn’t even conceded a goal away from Old Trafford until Barca’s crushing 3-1 win in the Final.

But Barca were simply too good for United at Wembley – repeating their win two years earlier in the 2009 Final – and showed the rest of the world why they are simply the best. There is absolutely no disgrace, only pride for the cream of Manchester, who can rightly calm to be the second best team on the planet after reaching their third Champions League Final in four years. And yet the gulf between the top two has never been bigger. Wayne Rooney gave United short-lived hope with an outstanding strike that levelled Pedero’s equally brilliant opener. But Messi with a long-range effort and David Villa with an exquisite finish blew the English champions away in the second half with football from another planet.

United’s beaten boss Ferguson honestly summed it up when he said: “In my time as a manager it is the best team we have faced. I think everyone acknowledges that. I accept that. It’s not easy when you have been well beaten like that to think any other way.

A global TV audience of up to 400 million viewers were treated to a spectacular exhibtion of The Beautiful Game at Wembley

A global TV audience of up to 400 million viewers were treated to a spectacular exhibtion of The Beautiful Game at Wembley

“No one has given us a hiding like that. It’s a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and they enjoy their football.

“They mesmerise you with their passing and we never really controlled Messi. When we got the lifeline of Wayne Rooney I expected us to do better in the second half but it wasn’t to be.”

Barcelona have set the bar at a new level of excellence and it will take much more than money for any club to match their brilliance because the Catalans have mastered a new way of playing the game and they have created a team, the nucleus of which has grown up together playing their own brand of carousel football.

Barca embarked on a long term plan that has taken a nearly a decade to evolve when they persuaded Messi to commit his career to their dream for fantasy football.  Andres Iniesta and Xavi are the other mini maestros who complete the most devastating trio that is the heartbeat of this majestic side. But this is a team where every player has an important role and they are all 100  per cent comfortable with playing their stylish brand of total football.

Whether or not Barcelona have hit their peak remains to be seen. This was not a heavyweight showdown that hung in the balance beyond the first half because Pep Guardiola’s men were untouchable in the final 45 minutes. All their star men hit the top of their form in a breathtaking display that was as close to perfection as you will ever see.

Maybe this was the best Barca will ever play. God help us all if they are to raise the bar any higher.  

Barcelona the undisputed champions celebrate their fourth European Cup triumph in 2011

Barcelona the undisputed champions celebrate their fourth European Cup triumph in 2011

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THE CLOCK IS TICKING . . . LET’S SEE WHAT YOU GOT!

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FIFA FARCE! IS THIS THE END OF THE ODIOUS SEPP BLATTER WHO MUST DEFEND HIMSELF AGAINST CORRUPTION CHARGES?

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President Blatter facing corruption charges

President Blatter facing corruption charges

BY JOHN GUBBAHow ironic that after years of covering up alleged corruption at FIFA, the dictatorial leader of the governing body of world football is facing the humiliation of having to defend himself against allegations of corruption. The farce engulfing FIFA scaled new heights with the news that president Sepp Blatter will face the body’s ethics committee on Sunday (May 29) to answer charges that he knew about alleged bribes made by other senior figures in the organisation, who were trying to topple him. He will join Mohamed Bin Hammam, his rival in the forthcoming presidential election, and controversial FIFA vice-president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago at the hearing where they will all face claims of corruption and bribery.

Jack Warner accused of offering bribes to Caribbean delegates in return for votes at Wednesday’s FIFA presidential election.

Jack Warner accused of offering bribes to Caribbean delegates in return for votes at Wednesday’s FIFA presidential election.

Absurdly, it means that the three most powerful men in world football must appear before the ethics committee three days before the organisation must pick one of them as its president.

Bin Hammam and Jack Warner, a Fifa vice-president, have been accused of offering bribes to Caribbean delegates in return for votes at Wednesday’s FIFA presidential election. But Bin Hammam has responded by demanding that an investigation into the matter be extended to include Blatter.
Bin Hammam’s statement came hours after Blatter had dismissed claims that he had orchestrated a smear campaign against both his rival and Warner, who has long been considered the kingmaker in the presidential election, with his control of the 40 Concacaf votes the key to either candidate’s success.
Blatter dismissed the accusation as “ludicruous” and “completely reprehensible” but a spokesman for Bin Hammam said: “As the recent accusations also mention incumbent Fifa president Joseph Blatter, Mohammed Bin Hammam has requested that the investigation be extended to include Mr Blatter.” Surely FIFA must immediately postpone their presidential election. And the world of football must think long and hard about whether or not FIFA retains the authority to run the world’s biggest sport.

THE REAL WORLD CUP SCANDAL TIME TO GIVE BLATTER BOOT http://www.visionsport.tv/

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Who do you trust? Rivals Mohamed Bin Hammam and Sepp Blatter

Who do you trust? Rivals Mohamed Bin Hammam and Sepp Blatter

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FIRST IT WAS DAVID BECKHAM NOW IT’S RYAN GIGGS: WHY MANCHESTER UNITED FANS HATE CHEATING MAX CLIFFORD

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Imogen Thomas haImogen Thomas has already hit the jackpot with bookmakers Paddy Power who boast:s already hit the jackpot with bookmakers Paddy Power who boast:

Imogen Thomas has already hit the jackpot with bookmakers Paddy Power who boast:

BY JOHN GUBBA

Whatever you think of the Ryan Giggs affair, do not make the mistake of believing self-publicist Max Clifford when he says Imogen Thomas never had any intention of selling her story to the press.

That is complete and utter bunkum from the self-confessed liar and cheat who has spent weeks peddling the Reality TV star’s story of her alleged relationship with Giggs, hitherto the nation’s favourite football role model.

It is over 20 years since my first dealings with Clifford who has made himself rich by selling stories based on half-truths and never letting the facts get in the way of the fiction.

He has never looked back since conning a gullible newspaper editor into running the made up headline ‘Freddie Starr ate my Hamster’. He even cashed in on his own adultery in his autobiography a few years ago.

For his latest client to be able to dish the dirt on one of Manchester United’s biggest stars is another giant windfall for the ruthless spin doctor who told me only a few days ago that he does not represent anyone for less than an initial fee of £45,000.

Max Clifford made a fortune out of David Beckham's alleged affair - and now it's the turn of Ryan Giggs

Max Clifford made a fortune out of David Beckham

It is not the first time of course that Clifford has made a fortune out of selling stories about one of Manchester United’s biggest stars. It was the London PR guru who brokered the story on David Beckham’s alleged affair with Rebecca Loos shortly after he joined Real Madrid.

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Beckham and Giggs have both been trashed by Clifford's kiss-and-tell clients

Beckham and Giggs have both been trashed by Clifford

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Max Clifford has never let the facts get in the way of the fiction

Max Clifford has never let the facts get in the way of the fiction

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL: WHY BARCA AGAINST MAN UNITED IS DESTINED TO BE ULTIMATE SHOWPIECE FOR BEAUTIFUL GAME

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How will United deal with the mejestic football played by Iniesta, Messi and Xavi?

How will United deal with the mejestic football played by Iniesta, Messi and Xavi?

BY JOHN GUBBA

Forget the FIFA World Cup Final. This is the big one. The Champions League Final. The biggest game on the planet bar none. And never has a game been more eagerly anticipated. The 2011 Final at Wembley on Saturday (May 28) could be the ultimate showpiece for The Beautiful Game. It will certainly draw one of the biggest TV audiences of all time – and my prediction is that this time we will be treated to a contest to match the hype and delight the purists.

There is no doubt it is absolutely the dream final. Between the two most exciting teams in world football, whose history and fans demand entertainment as well as glory. Fortune favours the bold and with both sides committed to goals and glamour the recipe for a classic is surely guaranteed.

Two years ago Barca triumphed when Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi scored the goals in a 2-0 win against a Manchester United side weighed down by a shocking contribution by Cristiano Ronaldo – playing his final game in a red shirt before his £80 million move to Real Madrid.

Hernandez and Rooney - United's unstoppable force up front

Hernandez and Rooney - United

But this time the Catalans know they face a much tougher challenge to their status as the World’s top ranked club. United have got better and better all season making the critics – who keep telling us this is not an outstanding team – look more and more ridiculous.

At times this season United have hit extraordinary heights to match any in the epic 25 year resign of the world’s greatest football manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The twin threat of a Wayne Rooney back to his glorious best and Mexican sensation Javier Hernandez is as good as it gets. Edwin Van Der Sar will be retiring as the world’s best goalkeeper and skipper Nemanja Vidic is an absolute rock alongside the elegance of Rio Ferdinand.

Sir Alex Ferguson aiming to get his hands on the Champions League trophy for a third time

Sir Alex Ferguson aiming to get his hands on the Champions League trophy for a third time

Ryan Giggs has never played better and his reinvention as a central midfield playmaker gives United an extra creative dimension that at times this season has mirrored the famous Barca carousel orchestrated by Andres Iniesta, Xavi and the incomparable Lionel Messi.

As David Beckham said earlier this week: “If anyone can beat Barcelona at their peak Man United can.” With the width offered by any combination of Antonio Valencia, Ji Sung Park, Nani, Patrice Evra and the Da Silva twins this United team has the ammunition to hit Barca where it hurts.

Barca are certainly not underestimating the Red Devils. “This Manchester United team is much more unpredictable without Cristiano Ronaldo,” says wing-back Davi Alves “They have formed a more balanced group and they are stronger than they were two years ago.” Striker David Villa added: “Ronaldo’s departure has liberated them. Many great players come and go and that has allowed them to remain at the top for so long.” Andres Iniesta belives United have “grown as a team”.

Pep Guardiola admires the strength of Man Utd

Pep Guardiola admires the strength of Man Utd

And coach Pep Guardiola – who watched in awe as United’s second string completed a staggering 6-1 aggregate win over Schalke in the semi-final – admits: “We have been looking at the 2009 game and they were better than us in the first half.

“The level is equal, they are strong, competitive and they can play with four or five different formations and they stay competitive. They are one of the best teams in the world, and not just this year. We are proud to be playing them.”

As Steve Bruce, a European Cup Winners’ Cup winner with the Red Devils against Barcelona 20 years ago, says, Sir Alex will “want to win the trophy the Manchester United way.” And Bruce predicts the Boss has a master plan that will confirm why he is the greatest: “If anyone can get it right on the night the great man can.”

Whoever lifts the trophy The Beautiful Game will be the winner if both sides come out without inhibition and a determination to show the world just how good they really are.

1999 – THE GREATEST FINISH EVER TO A CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL

http://www.visionsport.tv/          ROAD TO WEMBLEY: HERNANDEZ THE HERO – VALENCIA 0-1 MAN UTD

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2-goal hero Mark Hughes lifts the European Cup Winners' Cup after United's 2-1 win over Barcelona in 1991

2-goal hero Mark Hughes lifts the European Cup Winners

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CITY CAN CELEBRATE REPLACING CHELSEA AS UNITED’S BIGGEST CHALLENGERS AS MANCHESTER PUTS LONDON IN THE SHADE

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Roberto Mancini promises a bright future at City's victory parade to celebrate FA Cup triumph

Roberto Mancini promises a bright future at City's victory parade to celebrate FA Cup triumph

BY JOHN GUBBA

On the day Chelsea announced their ridiculous decision to sack manager Carlo Ancelotti for coming second,  it was poetic that Manchester City celebrated their arrival as a major force in English football by parading the FA Cup through the streets of Manchester.

While Roman Abramovich acts like a spoilt rich kid who throws his toys out the pram when he does not get his own way, there is a growing realisation that Chelsea is a club in decline and Roberto Mancini’s men are not only emerging as the strongest challengers to the mighty Manchester United . . . City have already arrived at the top table,  and Chelsea’s seat is no longer to be taken for granted.

City have eclipsed the fat cats from Stamford Bridge by winning their first silverware in 35 years and matching Chelsea’s points tally in the Premier League – nine  behind United – in the process. The Blue Moon is rising and it’s not Chelsea’s dreams that are taking off. But the club that replaced them as the richest club in the world. And the difference is that City are building for the future.

The Mirror rightly poked fun at Abramovich's disgraceful decision to sack Ancelotti

The Mirror rightly poked fun at Abramovich's disgraceful decision to sack Ancelotti

With Arsenal disappearing into fourth place it can already be argued that the City of Manchester now boasts the two best teams in England. And with a summer of unprecedented spending by the Arab funded Blues about to begin, it will be no surprise to see both Chelsea and Arsenal battling it out with Spurs and Liverpool for the third and fourth spots next season while the vManchester rivals battle it out for the top prize.

Not since a brief spell at the end of the 60s has the City of Manchester dominated English football and shared the major trophies. But there is a growing feeling that history is set to repeat itself with a new era that could last a lot longer this time around. Mancini has proved himself as a manager who can deliver and if he is given the chance to build his own dynasty at Eastlands there is no doubt the noisy neighbour is the biggest challenge yet to Sir Alex Ferguson’s empire.

Chelsea, meanwhile, must start again with a new manager, an ageing team and the puzzle of how to build a new one around their crazy £50 million punt on Fernando Torres. Sacking Ancelotti 12 months after he won the League and Cup double is a disgrace. And if the new man does not provide a quick fix, the problems at Stamford Bridge may get a lot worse next season.

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IF ANYONE CAN BEAT BARCELONA AT THEIR PEAK IT IS MAN UTD SAYS 1999 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNER DAVID BECKHAM

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David Beckham lifts the 1999 Champions League trophy

David Beckham lifts the 1999 Champions League trophy

BY JOHN GUBBA

It was good to hear David Beckham pay tribute to Manchester United’s record-breaking feat of winning their 19th League title and hit back at the critics who have questioned the quality of Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest trophy winning side.

“People have criticised the team this season but you can’t ask much more than winning the Premier League and getting to the Champions League final. They are up there with the best United teams of all time,” says United’s former hero.

And Becks has no doubt that Sir Alex has the team to beat Barcelona in Saturday’s Champions League final at Wembley and is clearly 100 per cent behind his former boss. “As a manager he can’t get any better than he already is. But I’m sure it will be an unbelievable moment if he picks up that cup by beating Barcelona who have been talked about as one of the greatest teams ever. If any team can beat Barcelona at their peak it is Man United.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere, especially being at Wembley. And I just hope United can do it.”

Beckham is back at Old Trafford for Gary Neville's testimonial

Beckham is back at Old Trafford for Gary Neville

Meanwhile, Beckham is back at Old Trafford on Tuesday night to play in the testimonial for his old pal Gary Neville and clearly relishes the chance to pull on the famous red shirt again. “It’s always amazing wearing a Manchester United shirt. Just talking about it gives me goose bumps. Man Utd have always been my team. It’s going to be emotional and an amazing night for Gary.”

The Testimonial against Juventus will reunite members of the famous Class of 92 including Beckham, Neville Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt. And Fergie urges United fans to support the occasion declaring: “When a player like Neville gives you 20 years of his life I think we should show our appreciation.”

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