UEFA’s internal politics woes Sahin speaks, Conte is appalled, admirable CCM, farewell Michael, Puliser prised?
This report in the Daily Mail suggests Tony Pulis is considering leaving Stoke City at the end of the season. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2295475/Tony-Pulis-quit-Stoke.html Some may suggest it’s media speculation due to Pulis receiving criticism from fans. However, the story does appear to have more than an inkling of credibility. There were a few mutterings of frustration after the transfer deadline indicating the manager was frustrated not to have done more business. He’s also implied previously a sense of exasperation at the size of Stoke City’s youth academy. The academy is a huge asset for the future of the football club. Chairman Peter Coates has said the club must become self sufficient. A thriving academy is a big step towards achieving that but would Tony Pulis benefit? At this stage Pulis has only played two players below the age of 24 throughout the current season, (Brek Shea and Ryan Shotton) one of which isn’t a first team regular, and one of whom (Shotton) turned 24 on October 30th. This suggests youth development isn’t a priority for Pulis. All things borne in mind the story may well be entirely feasible but we probably won’t know for several months if Pulis will be with us for the start of the 2013/14 season. If he was to leave, all things borne in mind, he should be spared the indignity of a mid season departure.
Turkish international Nuri Sahin has spoken of his relief at leaving Liverpool. He has said “I did not fail with Liverpool. Brendan Rogers wanted me to play as a ten, but I don’t play behind the strikers. I spoke to him and asked him why he wanted me to play there since it’s not my real position. The Mister couldn’t answer me” He went on to say how pleased he is to be back at Borussia Dortmund and added “For what it’s worth, I’m happy. I’ve left Brendan Rogers, thank God”. This can be seen as a classless bitter tirade but is that entirely fair? Players often come out with glib soundbites to avoid controversy. Sahin is fully entitled to explain why he feels it didn’t work out at Liverpool. It’s also refreshing to hear a footballer prepared to state a strong opinion. It’s a pity more players aren’t so forthright.
Juventus manager Antonio Conte has said he may leave Italy. After his teams 2-0 victory over Bologna Conte made it clear he was increasingly distressed by the abuse his team suffers. On arriving in Bologna the Juve team bus was bombarded with rocks sticks and spit. Conte was particularly disturbed by the sight of people carrying young children in their arms screaming vicious abuse and hurling missiles. Only time will tell if Conte’s threat to leave is genuine or a heat of the moment outburst. Meanwhile, Paris Saint Germain, Chelsea and Real Madrid will have taken note!
Central Coast Mariners players weren’t paid last week. Their ongoing financial wrangling continues to cast a dark shadow over their on field success. They played well and beat an admittedly lethargic Brisbane Roar team on Sunday. To be able to stay focused on the job in hand is testament to the players commitment to their job and the motivational ability of manager Graham Arnold.
The draw for the 2016 European Championship qualifiers is to be made in March 2016. By then UEFA could have a new member… Gibraltar. In May member nations will vote to decide on Gibralter’s inclusion. Gibraltar’s Football Association are bidding to join the international football community but for many years were stifled by a UEFA rule that states the ruling body will only acknowledge nations that are recognised by the United Nations. However, this changed in October when the court of arbitration for sport instructed UEFA to award the British colony provisional member status. The Spanish FA once stated rather fancifully they would boycott any tournament that involved Gibraltar. When the draw was made for the 2014 Futsal European championships, UEFA ensured that even if Gibraltar progressed from their group there would be no possibility of an explosive clash with Spain. Should the vote fall in favour of the GFA it could open a period of political mayhem with Jersey, Kosovo and Greenland all eager to dine at one of football’s most lucrative tables.
When 17 year old Michael Owen burst onto the scene in 1997 it taught me a vital lesson…. football supporters can maintain wondrous childlike fascinations other people can’t! Despite being 28 years of age and carrying battle hardened cynicism like a medal, I immediately idolised Owen. He was a very special player. Talented, fast and exciting, with an ability to create a yard of space for himself and score goals from odd angles. Michael Owen had the lot. I hoped for the boy wonder’s inclusion in Glenn Hoddle’s World Cup squad and my wish was granted. In St Etienne he scored his brilliant solo goal against Argentina my prodigy, rightly, became a global superstar. On his return to club football he scored a brilliant hat trick against Newcastle. As the plaudits rolled in the cap size remained the same. The archetypal mature head on young shoulders. One of my dearest wishes was for Owen to beat Bobby Charlton’s England scoring record…. for Owen to make history, and to finally shed one of the ghosts of 1966. Ongoing injuries scuppered that possibility but 40 goals in 89 international appearances is an impressive record for any player. Hampered by injuries his appearances have been intermittent in recent years an his decision to retire from playing isn’t a huge shock. In Michael Owen can reflect on English football’s great goalscorers.