2013
09.13

Tyson Fury

When he’s not destroying opponents in the ring, boxer Tyson Fury is a massive Manchester United fan.

Ahead of his September 28th British heavyweight title fight with David Haye, Kicked Upstairs grabbed a few moments of Fury’s time and talked football.

When and why did you start supporting Manchester United?

When I was kid, because I’m from Manchester.

Who’s your favourite player?

Eric Cantona

Do you get the chance to go to many United games?

Not really, because I’m very busy at the moment but I’ve been a few times.

Was David Moyes the right choice to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson?

I think Moyes was the right choice but I’d like to see Becks become the manager at some point.

Wayne Rooney: keep him or sell him?

It’s up to the player whether he wants to go or stay!

If you were United manager, who’s the first player you’d buy?

I’d buy Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Which Manchester United player, past or present, would have the best chance of making it as a boxer?

Rooney, because he boxed.

Which boxer would have the best chance of making it as a footballer?

Not me!

Are you a better footballer than Usain Bolt?

Yes, I’d say so! Hard tackles!

Man City fans say United fans all come from outside Manchester. Is that true?

I’m not sure but there might be a point to what they say.

Our colleague James reckons he could beat you in a fight. What do you say to that?

Tell him to come spar with me then!

The David Haye-Tyson Fury fight takes place on Saturday, September 28th at the Phones 4U Arena, Manchester, with a full undercard. The event starts at 8pm and will be shown live on Sky Sports Box Office, Sky Sports HD Box Office and Sky 3D. See the Sky Sports website for details.

• Tyson’s cousin, Hughie Fury, takes on Shane McPhilbin on Saturday night, live on Channel 5 from 8pm

2013
08.15

old-trafford-600

Not only do I not think the Old Trafford side will win the league this season, they won’t even come second. David Moyes will have his best-ever season in the Premier League, finishing third, but Manchester United will have their worst season since 2005. If you think I’m wrong, bet against me.

Here’s why:

Read More >>

2013
08.14
There'll be blue ribbon on the Premier League trophy again by the season's end.

There’ll be blue ribbon on the Premier League trophy again by the season’s end.

Prepare to be schooled: BuddyBet editor Sam Beckwith hands down his predictions for the new Premier League season.

Bale to Madrid? Rooney to Chelsea? Suarez to Arsenal?

With so much wheeling and dealing still to be done, it’s a foolish man that offers his Premier League predictions at this stage of the season. I am that man.

Read More >>

2013
08.13

Our CEO loses a bet and gives the streets of Tel Aviv an unexpected treat.

2013
08.09
A photograph of a ball almost crossing the goal line

Over the line – Goal Line Technology is finally here

 

Terry O’Connor gives his thoughts on the introduction of goal line technology.

When Liverpool and Stoke kick off the season at 12:45 on August 17th it will be the first top flight league match to use Goal Line Technology, but how long will we have to wait to see a sphere travel over a line?

So how will this new-fangled system affect games? The immediate hope is that it will not be needed, it is there as a back-up, an aid to the man in the middle, for those occasional situations when due to whatever reasons, he is unable to clearly see that the whole of the ball has crossed the line.

The Premier league has opted to use the British based Hawkeye system, one well known to cricket and tennis fans. The involvement of the technology and its impact on those sports has left fans, officials and athletes divided. At least until the current ashes’ series, which has brought everyone together, in vocally criticising the role of technology in the game. Hawkeye is one aspect of the DRS (Decision Review System) that has caused constant controversy; however, the main cause of the problems has been the human element. The person interpreting the tech, the use of it by players, and it’s unavailability at crucial times.

Fortunately the system that will be utilised by the Premier League removes us pesky people from the process. There will be fourteen cameras positioned around the ground 7 focussed on each of the goals, while this does mean that it is possible for any of the cameras’ angles to be obscured by a player, the system can still make a 100% accurate call with only 2 of the cameras. Within one second of the system detecting that the ball has crossed the line, a signal is sent to the Referee’s watch informing him.

Computer generated images of the incidents will be made available to TV stations and in-stadium screens, despite FIFA’s instructions not to, allowing fans to marvel at the pong like graphics that will redefine football. And if like Sepp Blatter you think this will remove controversy from the world game, then fear not, because the man with the whistle is actually allowed to ignore a signal from Hawkeye informing him the ball has crossed the line, if he so wishes.

Blatter and most of his FIFA cohorts were unequivocal up until 3 years ago, in stating that this type of technology would never be used. But a flurry of high profile incidents, especially Lampard’s effort in South Africa, resulted in a 180 that Tony Hawk would be proud of.

FIFA have found a way to overcome their distaste for Goal Line Tech, by requiring any ground fitting it to pay a £15,000 accreditation fee to the governing body. A major reason that other leagues around the globe have opted to not adopt the system, citing the cost as far too exorbitant.

With the kick off to the season just around the corner, the wait can begin to see who will be the first player to score a goal given by technology, a pub quiz question in the making. Being a believer in Murphy’s Law I predict that there won’t be a single incident in the Premier league requiring a ruling from Hawkeye this season, but there will be a crucial one in a cup game, at a non-Premier League ground, say Brentford being denied a goal to knock Liverpool out of the third round of the FA Cup, as like all grounds not belonging to a top flight club, they don’t have the system installed.

 

2013
08.05
Photograph of Hull City manager Steve Bruce

Hull City manager Steve Bruce will have his work cut out keeping his team up this season.

 

This week, Terry O’Connor looks at the clubs promoted from the Championship and hoping to make an impression on the Premier League. But should they be looking beyond mere survival?

Cardiff City

Compared to the other newly promoted sides Cardiff have some financial clout, although, the cashed up club are finding that being able to offer lots of money is not always enough to attract players, sometimes it helps if the prospective acquisition has actually heard of you before. But promising defender John Brayford and very promising striker Andreas Cornelius have certainly bolstered the Welsh side.

However, unless they start off loading some of their excess strikers, they will probably be limited to only 3 additional signings, and the quality of those players will be reduced by having to say no, we aren’t the Welsh club managed by Michael Laudrup, we have Malky Mackay.

I like Malky, but let’s be honest here, he’s not exactly a household name amongst European footballers. I do think the Bluebirds, sorry Red Dragons, have a chance of staying up but it all depends on how crap Newcastle and/or Stoke are.

Crystal Palace

Wondering who this year’s Michu could be? Look no further than José Campaña from Sevilla, probably won’t score the same number of goals, as he really is a midfielder, but being Spain’s U-19 Captain last year means he knows what he is doing.

Other than a Spanish wonder kid, they have a woefully thin squad. Relying on youngster Dwight Gayle and dinosaur Kevin Phillips for goals won’t be keeping any of the league’s defenders awake at night. They don’t have much cash to splash and Ian Holloway has so far focussed on bringing in creative, attacking players, so strengthening at the back is required if they are to have any chance.

The real strength of Palace is their manager. With Mourihno putting on his serious face and sticking to boring fact based press conferences, journalists will at least have the wit and word play of Holloway to keep them entertained. What the fans at Selhurst Park will really want from their gaffer though is a miracle.

Hull City

A good, experienced keeper who can marshal your defence is essential for a newly promoted club and Hull will have the added bonus of having two of them fight it out for the number one jersey. Allan McGregor and Steve Harper will go a long way to providing some backbone, but there is a serious lack of quality to the rest of the side.

A slow, old or inexperienced group of defenders who will be providing whichever keeper is between the sticks with more work than they would want, a championship quality midfield and a strike force that will struggle to get 10 goals between them, means that Hull are more likely to compete with Derby for the lowest points total than to be in contention to stay up.

If all of that wasn’t enough of a burden the poor tigers have to put up with having one of the world’s worst novelists as a manager, their sponsor Cash Converters wouldn’t even give you 5p for one of his shitty paperbacks, so why would you expect him to get you three points?

 

2013
08.02
Photograph of Mark Hughes, the new Stoke City manager. Can he keep them in the Premier League?

Can Mark Hughes keep Stoke City up?

Mark Smith argues that Mark Hughes may just have found the right club at last. He’s backing Stoke City getting more than 42 points. Match his bet if you disagree!

 

“But could they do it on a wet and windy night at Stoke?” was one of the phrases peddled out by Andy Gray and his chums at Sky Sports when assessing how battle hardened teams are. It’s all fair and well playing tippy-tappy football and making pretty triangles but could your team’s porcelain-framed number 10 hack an old fashioned leveler from Robert Huth and leave the Britannia with three points? That was the true barometer of success.

 

However, as time has worn on this clichéd phrase has stagnated and become tiresome, much like Stoke City had under Tony Pulis. The club needed new leadership and a new manager to freshen things up, Pulis had tried and failed to evolve Stoke from a physical, one dimensional side to a modern day Premier League club.

 

But the locals were underwhelmed when Mark Hughes was given the keys to the manager’s office at the Britannia. On the surface it was hardly the marquee name the Stoke fans craved.

 

To draw a comparison, newly promoted Southampton managed to attract the delightfully named former Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino to instill their own brand of tika-taka-lite and Stoke looked towards Mark Hughes – a manager who had assembled a squad of more hangers on than a Mike Tyson entourage at QPR and a win percentage that not even Jose Mourinho could talk his way out of. (It was 23.53% to be precise).

 

More to the point, I may be in the minority here but I believe the Hughes/Stoke partnership could prove to be a very fruitful one. And the early signs are encouraging too – a 1-0 friendly win over FC Dallas at the weekend was well received by Stoke fans “I watched the whole game and thought it was very refreshing to see Stoke play a passing game. In fact I can’t remember one ball being ‘hoofed’ throughout.” read one Stoke message board.

 

Stoke’s activity in the transfer market has been just as clever as it’s been frugal. PSV left back and Dutch International Erik Pieters has joined on a 3.3m deal, along with, what could prove one of the most under-rated signings of the summer as 21 year-old defender Marc Muniesa has signed on a free from Barcelona. Woof.

 

Hughes struggles when he is given bags of money and license to roam in the transfer market but this doesn’t make him a bad or any less of a well respected coach. Hughes took a Blackburn side from the brink of relegation in 2004 to a top six finish, regular flaunts in the UEFA Cup and multiple FA Cup semi finals. His record in the transfer market wasn’t bad either at Blackburn – Ryan Nelsen (free) Chris Samba (400k) David Bentley (500k) to name a few.

 

So there is a top manager lurking in there somewhere, he just needs to find right club. Man City, Fulham and QPR were, in hindsight, the wrong moves at the wrong time. But you just get the sense that Hughes and Stoke could be the perfect fit for all involved.

 

2013
07.24

A picture of Wayne Rooney with long hair

 

What is really going on with this Rooney business? Is he really on his way out of Old Trafford? Terry O’Connor gives his view.

With most of the big names in world football opting to not go to the Premier league, the media has been bereft of juicy transfers and transfer rumours to get wound up about. With one distinct exception, last week the back pages of England parted for Wayne Rooney. The press coverage has thinned over the weekend, but it has returned with a flourish.

The moment David Moyes was announced as Fergie’s replacement, the speculation about Wayne’s future began. Due to the pair’s history, it seemed inevitable there would be no way they would be able to work together. Manchester United put on a brave face insisting Rooney would remain with the club, but this was only to prevent the price from dropping by removing any suggestion that they had to sell.

There were the conflicting ideas that if they sold him it would only be to a continental club, no point boosting your direct opposition, but the idea of Shrek living in a non-English speaking country seems about as likely as Allan Pardew still being Newcastle manager next May. If he’s confused by the fact that he is not as good as RvP how will he react to someone informing him in French he’s behind Cavani and Ibrahimović, or a Spaniard explaining that Messi, Neymar, Xavi, Jordi Alba, Iniesta, Dani Alves and let’s face it most of the Barcelona team are in front of him.

With Jose Mourinho requiring a striker, Chelsea stepped up to test the resolve of their North West rivals, the story that was initially circulated was that they had offered Juan Mata or David Luiz plus 10 Million pounds. Whoever made this load of garbage up was either deliberately making an unbelievable scenario just to see how gullible we all are or is an idiot. In a swap of Mata for Rooney it would be Man U who would have to add tens of millions to the deal to make it equitable.

In reality they offered 20M, which was swiftly rejected. And as such the Chelsea PR machine went into overdrive, with both the manager and keeper Petr Cech talking publicly about their admiration for the England striker and how well he would fit in at Stamford Bridge. Jose went so far as to state that Rooney is his only transfer target, a statement that will have more effect than his comments about second string players being unlikely to be selected for their country.

Rooney is feeling rejected at Old Trafford, dropped for the Champion League semi-final, Sir Alex’ claim he had put in a transfer request and being behind van Persie in the pecking order, has left him so angry and confused he returned home instead of accompanying his teammates around Asia. So being sent words of love and devotion from “The Special One” could be enough to tempt Wayne to London, the icing on the cake will come when Mourinho lets Wayne in on the fact that the hair clinics in the capital are better than up North.

Chelsea look to be ready to up their offer by 4 or 5 Million, I think Moyes will want more, especially if the paper talk of him trying to get Gareth Bale for £60M is in anyway accurate. Even better would be if Arsenal give up on Suarez and get involved in a bidding war for the follicly challenged forward.

The Chelsea players are being rolled out on a daily basis telling Wayne how great it will be for him to go south, Ashley Cole and Lukaku have had a go, we know things are really coming to a head when Fat frank and the despicable one lend their voices to the save Wayne campaign.

 

 

 

2013
07.17
A photograph of Jesus Navas

New Manchester City signing Jesus Navas

Terry O’Connor has a look at the summer’s Premier League transfer activity and asks where everyone’s coming from.

 

We are a month away from the kick-off of the new Premier League season, time to run the ruler over the acquisitions that have occurred so far.

 

Since the close of last season some Premier league clubs have been busy reshaping, reinforcing and replacing their teams. But where are these new signings coming from?

 

The majority of purchases so far this summer have come from La Liga clubs, 12 players in all including the likes of Liverpool strikers Luis Alberto (Sevilla, £6.8m) and Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo, £7m), Manchester City’s new Right Midfielder Jesus Navas (Sevilla, £15m) and Fernando Amorebieta (Athletic Bilbao, free) who will be appearing in the centre of defence for Fulham.

 

As it stands only ten transfers between Premier League clubs have been completed, surprisingly eight players have moved from Championship Clubs to the top flight, with Birmingham City being the most popular 2nd tier teams to raid.

 

The next league to provide the most new talent to the Premier League is the Dutch Eredivisie, 6 players have swapped clogs for hobnobs, Vitesse Arnham have picked up 20 Million alone due to the sales of Marco van Ginkel (Central midfielder, £8m) to Chelsea and Wilfried Bony (Striker, £12m) to Swansea. The most surprising league to appear as a departure point is not the Brazilian, Uruguayan or Swiss leagues, although all three have contributed a player each, it isn’t even League One, where 2 former Peterborough players were to be playing this season, it is in fact the Conference North, the 6th tier of English football, West Ham have plucked Danny Whitehead an Attacking Mid from Stockport County for an undisclosed fee.

 

However, there are three clubs who have said farewell to more players than Vitesse, who now call the Premier League home, Real Betis, Sevilla and Wigan, or remain at home in the Prem in the case of the ex-Wigan players, Arouna Kone (Striker, £6m), Antolin Alcaraz (CD, free), who have re-joined their former boss at Everton and Maynor Figueroa (CD, free) who has headed to Hull City.

 

Forwards (14), Central Defenders (11) and Goalkeepers (9) have been the most sought after positions at this point in proceedings. While the right side of the pitch has seen the least number of new additions with only one Right Back, a single Right Midfielder and one solitary out and out Right winger.

 

Half of the leagues clubs have added between 2 and 4 names to their squads, with four others only picking up the one addition, three teams have dipped their toes in the market on 6 occasions and Aston Villa have made five new purchases. If you’re adding up as you go, you will know that leaves us with two remaining clubs, Sunderland who have made the most new signings so far with seven and Newcastle who are yet to attract any one to Geordie Heaven. Whether this is due to a lack of funds, missing out on their targets or potential players being put off by the addition of Joe Kinnear to the staff I will leave up to you.

 

Most expensive signing

Manchester City – Fernandinho (Midfielder, Shakhtar Donetsk, £30m)

Most exciting signing

Tottenham Hotspur – Paulinho (Centre Mid, Corinthians, £17m)

Most promising signings

Arsenal – Yaya Sanogo (Stiker, Auxerre, Free)

Swasea – Wilfried Bony (Striker, Vitesse Arnhem, £12m)

Sunderland – Cabral (midfielder, Basel, free)

Best name

Norwich – Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Striker, Sporting, undisclosed)

I only bought them because I know their names and/or I want to get relegated with the oldest squad or I’ll be sacked by Christmas or I’m Steve Bruce and I’m only managing this team so that my son can play Professional football

Hull – Maynor Figueroa (CD, Wigan, free)

Hull – Curtis Davies (CD, Birmingham, undisclosed)

Hull – Ahmed Elmohamady (Winger, Sunderland, £2m)

Hull – Allan McGregor (Goalkeeper, Besiktas, £1.5m)

Hull – Steve Harper (Goalkeeper, Newcastle, free)

Most likely to fail

Sunderland – Jozy Altidore (Striker, AZ Alkmaar, undisclosed) for the simple reason that he did last time he was in this league.

One more and I equal Andy Cole

West Bromwich Albion – Nicolas Anelka (Striker, Juventus, free)

 

2013
07.10
Photograph of Wayne Rooney

Hair today: will David Moyes be able to hang on to Wayne Rooney?

 

Since the final day of last season’s Premier League there have been 5 managerial changes. Terry O’Connor gives a rundown of the expectations, implications and permutations of what lies ahead for the new boys.

Jose Mourinho

Football is littered with players and managers who have returned to a club for a second spell, sometimes it works out, most of the time it doesn’t. And it is made even more daunting with such a sack happy boss.

But Mourinho seems to be the only one who can adequately deal with, not only Abramovich but also John Terry, two of the most disruptive elements, not merely at Chelsea, but in world football.

Having already sent three players out on long loans expect more to be looking for the exit signs, including one or two that played under him. He’s already picked up a couple of midfielders and a backup keeper now a striker is apparently top of the shopping list. But it is silverware that he really needs to acquire.

David Moyes

Forget about trying to fill Fergie’s boots, that will never be possible, the single biggest issue facing the new Manchester United manager is Wayne Rooney. It’s not that things might be a little awkward after Rooney’s transfer from Everton to Man U back in 2004; it’s that the striker was sued by Moyes for libel, was forced to apologies and pay damages.

Moyes has appointed Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville to his backroom, he’s desperate to pry Leighton Baines from his former club, but otherwise there is a lack of transfer activity. He claims Rooney is going nowhere, but paper talk of a transplant, sorry transfer, is sure to continue right up until deadline day.

Roberto Martinez

Much praised for his efforts in keeping Wigan up 3 years running, and also for bringing in a number of previously unknown talented players, Martinez now has a much tougher job on his hands.

While he will have to get used to being at a club that has ambition, history and fans, he will still have to work within a very tight budget. And just to make sure he doesn’t feel too out of place, he has brought in four of his backroom staff from Wigan and Arouna Kone.

Finishing 17th will not be good enough for Everton, and the toughest task for the new boss will be keeping the majority of the squad he has inherited.

Mark Hughes

Stoke fans will be regretting their decision to run Tony Pulis out of town, his mid-table mediocrity will look like heaven compared to the relegation battle they will be stuck in this season.

Hughes is the definition of a manager who sets out trying not to lose rather than to win. He couples this negativity with an incredible level of arrogance, which saw him quit Fulham because he felt he was too good for the club; apparently he was too good for any club because he spent the following 6 months unemployed, a break that was only ended by joining footballing giants QPR.

Even at Blackburn, the one club he did well at results wise, he had them playing the dirtiest, most physical, cheating riddled football since Don Revie’s bunch of thugs at Leeds.

Manuel Pellegrini

The real new boy of the bunch, he’s the only manager for the upcoming season who hasn’t previously managed or played in the Prem.

His greatest achievements in European football have been with teams that are not expected to be able to compete with the big boys. But if the City owners don’t interfere and don’t over react if there is a lack of silverware in his first season, he may get a chance to show that what happened at Real Madrid was not his fault.

Having spent a combined 200 Million Pounds on Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema and Xabi Alonso at Madrid, he finished second in la Liga, was knocked out of the Copa del Ray by a third division team and only managed the round of 16 in the Champions League, and was therefore sacked.