KOSOVO head into their first competitive fixture on Monday evening, still waiting to hear whether players of Kosovar roots who have represented other countries will be eligible to play. Continue reading Confusion clouds Kosovo debut
Leicester City’s unexpected Premier League title bid is a “natural consequence” of the ban on fox hunting according to a leading pro-hunt figure.
Claudio Ranieri’s men have upset the odds this season, coming from 5000-1 outsiders to Premier League favourites, in a title campaign which has forced pundits and fans alike to challenge everything they thought they knew about football.
But Mike Hunt, 69, of the Highbury & Islington Hunt, has a theory to explain the Foxes’ audacious title bid:
“Leicester City’s title bid is a natural consequence of the ban on fox hunting.”
“Since the Hunting Ban came into force in 2005, we have seen a proliferation of foxes in our towns and cities. They have become less fearful of humans and more confident in their environment.”
“Last season we began to see a more confident Leicester City, though at the time, their focus was on survival. Yes they hunted well but mainly in Leicestershire,” Hunt continued.
“This season, the Foxes have become more confident in urban environments making successful raids into Manchester and London. It is the sheer audacity of these Foxes which has surprised most people.”
“It’s as if they do not know their place in the food chain.”
In a season of unprecedented unpredictability, the Foxes have so far out-foxed Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and with just 8 games to go, they are 5 points clear of the chasing pack.
The emergence of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kanté have been obvious factors in the Foxes’ rise to the top, but much credit must be given to Ranieri and predecessor Nigel Pearson for moulding a squad of players hungrier than their more fancied opponents.
In contrast to his “tinker-man” reputation, Ranieri has kept a settled team throughout the season allowing players to form instinctive partnerships and foster a team spirit which has translated itself to the stands where the King Power Stadium has become a fortress for the Foxes.
Leicester have played to their strengths, utilising the pace and power of Vardy and Mahrez in a counter attacking 4-4-2 formation, these days a rarity in Premier League football.
Whether Leicester City can win the title remains to be seen but this season will be remembered as the year the hunters became the hunted.
It’s the stuff of boyhood dreams.
Whilst mere mortals pretend to be their idols on PlayStation or Xbox, Norwegian wonder-kid Martin Ødegaard has joined them for real.
At sixteen years of age and already a full international, the teenage prodigy had his choice of Europe’s top clubs before agreeing a £40,000 per week deal to join Ronaldo, Rodriguez, Ramos, Bale and Benzema at European champions Real Madrid.
Forget the WAG, Bentley or Ballon D’or, the must have accessory for today’s footballer is a Twitter account with more followers than the Pope or the Dalai Llama.
From Wembley, to Old Trafford, to the Emirates, every weekend, tens of thousands of fans choose to stand in front of their seats in English football’s all-seater stadiums; prompting calls for the introduction of “safe-standing” sections in Premier League and Championship stadia.
In August, the Liberal Democrats made a pledge that they would allow clubs to introduce standing sections to English stadia in their 2015 General Election manifesto. Rather than a return to the vast expanses of terracing seen in the 1980s, the party proposes the adoption of the “rail seating” system already in operation in top European leagues such as Germany’s Bundesliga.
The much-anticipated Hero Indian Super League kicks-off tomorrow (Sunday) with the 8 team, 10 week tournament seeing Atlético de Kolkata host Mumbai City FC at the beginning of an exciting new chapter for sport on the sub-continent.
Atlético de Kolkata, co-owned by La Liga champions Atlético Madrid and cricketing super-star Sourav Ganguly, must seek to unite a city usually divided by the East Bengal v Mohun Bagan “Kolkata derby.” Continue reading Ready to Launch: Indian football set for lift-off
Football in India may finally emerge from cricket’s shadow with the launch of the Hero Indian Super League, an attempt to bring the game to hundreds of millions of fans and ultimately capitalise on the potential for the game’s development in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
With a young, aspirant population comprising 25% of the world’s under-25s and an economy forecast to be the world’s 3rd largest by 2030; backers of the league know that football on the sub-continent has enormous potential.
The new league’s 8 team franchise format draws inspiration domestically from the success of cricket’s IPL Twenty20 tournament, which brought genuine international stars to Indian stadiums. The inaugural season will kick-off in October
Continue reading India: Football’s next emerging market
Tony Pulis’ departure from Crystal Palace just 2 days before the start of the new season, began football’s annual managerial merry-go-round; illustrating the precarious nature of a football manager’s position in England’s professional leagues. Continue reading Roll up for the Premier League sack race
The term “false 9” refers to a player playing in a lone-striker position who drops deep to search for the ball. The intention is to draw opposing central defenders with him and create a diversion for team-mates to move into space behind the defensive line and exploit chances to score. Continue reading The False 9: Explained
Tiki-Taka is a set of tactics and style of play which aims to make the best use of space on a football pitch though precise, patient passing and the fluid movement of players between positions.
The aim is to monopolise position and possession of the ball, thus limiting chances for the opposition and creating regular chances for players to score.
When played well, it can lead to some of the most beautifully exhilarating scenes in sport, yet when plans go awry; it can also bring some of the most frustrating.
Continue reading Tiki-Taka: Explained