Friday, 31 May 2013

A discussion on Luis Suarez

First of all, I'd like to state that no negative comments on Luis Suarez stem from being a Manchester United fan. I have grown up respecting Liverpool as a rival club and I have never disliked or hated a player from the club, until now. However I will try to make this discussion as objective as possible *fingers crossed*

The Player

As a footballer, it has to be said that Luis Suarez is a phenomenal football player. His spell at Liverpool and actions for Uruguay have often conveyed passion and desire and he has won many football matches on his own for both La Celeste and The Reds. I have at times, doubted his ability to finish when through on goal, as I have seen him on numerous occasions spurn 'easy' chances. However, having scored 38 goals in 51 league games for the struggling Merseyside club I can hardly doubt his ability to score goals in a truly convincing manner. However, from a personal perspective, I'd still not class him as a striker, and I believe he's best either behind a main striker, or to the left. The early signs of his link-up play with Daniel Sturridge perhaps showed this, and if he were to move to a 'bigger' club, then his chances of consistently playing upfront may be slim. With no disrespect to Liverpool, we don't know Suarez's full footballing mentality at this stage of his career as he's been the 'Big fish in a small pond' as Liverpool FC have been slowly declining over the last three or four years. If Suarez were to move to Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, would he be just as influential? It would indeed, be very interesting to see.

The Man

We all know that there have been many incidents during his spell in England that have negatively affected Luis Suarez's image that he discussed at a press conference recently. However, my main problem with his worry about his image is that at no point did Liverpool FC or the footballing world accuse the man of doing anything that he hadn't allegedly done. 

The Handball incident v Ghana 

Arguably, this is the one 'bad' incident in Luis Suarez's career that can be justified. Playing for your country should be the pinnacle of any footballer's career, and Suarez did his country proud with his infamous handball v Ghana in the 2010 World Cup. This was a footballing incident and any player would have reacted in the way he did whilst on the pitch. Yet, when sent off I would criticise the man's decision to celebrate in the manner that he did. Obviously, euphoria would have taken over and it would be unfair to criticise the passion he showed. I will ask however, was declaring "The Hand of God belongs to me" a clever statement to make? No, he could have cost his country its place in the World Cup, however fate was on his side. I would have preferred for him to have kept quiet, realised he was very fortunate and to move on from this fortunate (well, not for Ghana) turn of events.

The racial 'incident' with Patrice Evra

This is where it gets tricky for me, as a Manchester United fan, a sociologist studying race, ethnicity & exclusion and an experienced member of the Hispanic culture. I have spent perhaps, a quarter of my life around the Spanish language and I have heard the alleged 'Negrito' word used on hundreds of occasions, not as a racist insult, but as a general complaint, in the same way that some of us may say 'retard'. From my views, Luis Suarez is not a racist person, however his intentions to wind up and hurt Patrice Evra as an individual used racist acts and therefore his actions were wrong. The man is supposed to be a role model for every young Liverpool FC fan and to act in the way he did originally and to follow it up by declining to shake the 'victims' hand, is something I just can't process in any way, shape or form. A handshake takes three seconds, it is a gesture in society that shows respect, good will and common courtesy. However, in football it is not the same as shaking an acquaintance's hand, it is a practice that is watched by millions of people around the world and for Suarez not to get it over and done with, meant that he wanted to further instigate the problematic event. May I ask, who else but Luis Suarez is to blame if he chooses not to shake Patrice Evra's hand? I'd be mortified to think that Kenny Dalglish instructed him not to do it, and I highly doubt it was the case.


Luis Suarez, this season further added to the controversy that his mouth has caused during his footballing career, however this time it wasn't from speaking. For the second time in his career, he chose to bite a fellow professional footballer. In 2011, whilst playing for Ajax, the man bit Otman Bakkal during  a scruff between PSV and Ajax players and was handed a seven game ban. First of all, biting in itself is a peculiar tactic. We've seen punches, kicks, elbows and headbutts whilst watching our beloved game, all of which may be linked to the hegemonic masculine display of being a footballer. Yet, there is something vulgar and animalistic about a bite. I've witnessed Suarez bite two footballers, grabbing the hair (and lower extremities) of Rafael Da Silva and it makes me wonder how the man hasn't been psychologically tested.

The shocking part was that during this game versus Chelsea, the incident came out of nowhere, there was barely even a tangle between the pair moments before the bite happened and Suarez voluntarily chose to run towards Branislav Ivanovic, grab and lift his hand and then chose to sink his teeth in. The bite in Holland was perhaps more subtle and less forceful, and you could see by Ivanovic's reaction that he was not angry, he was bewildered by such an act. 

The Man versus The Player

In the 90th minute of the game that Suarez was the villain, he also became the hero by scoring at the death to equalise for Liverpool, and it briefly reminded us all, that the man is still a fantastic footballer. I completely understand that as a person, he may want to leave the country in order to protect his family, and that is a wise and sensible choice if he does not want his family to be hurt. However he needs to take a long, hard look at himself in the mirror and question whether he is the victim or the perpetrator. If Suarez had not been involved in a high number of controversial events, could he be a better player now? Would Liverpool's image and therefore reputation be more respected and would he be classed by all as a 'World Class' footballer? I honestly cannot see how a footballer with such a bad image who has made such choices can be seen as a World Class professional athlete. The man is 26 years old and is entering his peak, he still has time in his career and I hope he chooses the right path, for the sake of his footballing legacy and his family.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Ronny's Return: Homecoming King?

First of all, I would like to state that these are my views on the matters I will be discussing, and I have no intention of condemning other Manchester United fans, as everyone has their own opinions.

Manchester United v Real Madrid ... a tie so mouthwatering that Old Trafford and the Santiago Bernabeu may be labelled with flood warnings on the 13th of February and the 5th of March. However, this match made in heaven, will not be focussing on two teams of such glorious history.. but it will be focussed on one man, and one man only..

Every single football fan in the world knows this name, Cristiano Ronaldo. The man deserves recognition as one of the finest footballers to ever grace the beautiful game.. 

Ronaldo left Old Trafford in 2009, becoming the most expensive player ever after a fantastic stint at Manchester United, as he switched from Salford to Santiago. I, as a Manchester United fan, adored Cristiano whilst he was at our club.. yet despite his absence from the United team-sheet for now over 3 years, I feel that some fans love him so much, that they have forgotten the true meaning of Manchester United v Real Madrid.

Here is the head to head record between these two clubs, and there have been some memorable games at both grounds. There has always been a respect between Manchester United and Real Madrid, yet the current generation of Manchester United fans, in my opinion may have a fondness for Real, for the 'wrong' reason.
 Viva Ronaldo Viva Ronaldo 
Running down the wing. 
Hear United sing. 
Viva Ronaldo

This chant is still bellowed out on match days at Old Trafford, and the reason for doing so is understandable, Ronaldo has become a Manchester United legend. My question however, is, should United fans like Real Madrid just because their beloved Cristiano is their main man? When I was in Madrid last summer, I visited the club shop and purchased a training top, yet I witnessed a few United fans, buying official club shirts with Ronaldo on the back. The man is no longer a Manchester United player.. so why?

The reason that Manchester United and Real Madrid are two clubs with respect for each other.. was the aftermath of the Munich Air Disaster. Sir Matt Busby discussed how Real Madrid offered pre-season friendlies to United, with the fee being less than half of their usual rate.. they also offered survivors free holidays to Madrid AND offered the great Alfredo Di Stefano plus Ferenc Puskas on loan to the club. 

If a Manchester United fan has a special fondness of Real Madrid, I believe it should be for this reason, as Real Madrid acted with honour and class.

As a Twitter user (@MisterJPrice) .. I saw, as the draw was unveiled, other Manchester United fans tweeting about a Ronaldo homecoming, and how excited they were to see Ronny back at Old Trafford. Obviously, it will be fantastic to see him again, however United fans must realise that he is the enemy over these two legs and he is contractually and morally obligated to try his very best to knock us out of the competition. I for one, am not a #TeamRonaldo man.. I will be a Team Rafael/Evra fan for these games, as I wish them the very best of luck, and I would like nothing more than for Cristiano Ronaldo to fall into our full-back's pockets. 

Monday, 13 August 2012

"Please Sir (Alex), can we have some Moura?"

Over the last month or so, Manchester United fans have gone through another Transfer Saga Hell, the likes of Lucas Moura and Robin Van Persie, seem to be a case of Sneijder 2.0.Despite fans thinking that Moura would be on his way to Manchester, the boy decided (maybe his agent more than he..) to join PSG. If Twitter rumours are to be believed (which they normally shouldn’t be..), his contract seems astronomical for a player of such a tender age.  

I do try to be as objective as possible when writing, however in this specific entry, I must use my Manchester United supporting cap, as I have had *many* arguments over United’s interest in Lucas Moura, and I thought that now this particular saga has been put to bed, I’d give my light on the subject.

I am not the typical Glazer hating United fan, I mainly focus on the football rather than behind the scenes, as in my eyes, with Sir Alex at the helm, this club will always be stable, and I am no business-savvy lad who is able to go into the finances and debts of Manchester United. Over the last decade, the transfer window really has gone crazy, and it seems that as so many clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Anzhi and PSG have been bought out by tycoons .. they will empty their pockets and give the club all the money they want to win, win and win. Despite Manchester United's dominance in this period, various fans (from all walks of life) have started to believe United are no longer in the financial state to compete in this market. As United have not made a huge signing in recent years, a certain amount of fans have become restless, and have suggested we throw our money at either the best players in Europe, or the biggest new thing. Some fans felt that Lucas Moura was this, but my concern is that a lot of these fans would not have seen Moura play at Sao Paulo. 

I will admit myself, I have never sat down and watched a Brazilian football league match in which Lucas Moura has played in, so my view on him is rather limited, yet I, as a guy who spends most of his waking hours discussing, playing and reading about football am surprised at this deal. The reported fee was €43m for a player who has never played in Europe, or in any sort of *major* tournament (to my belief). I am sure that Manchester United fans want the best for this club, and is risking this amount of money on a nineteen year old winger (whilst we have Valencia, Nani and Young), when there are other parts of this pitch where the club needs strengthening?

The club has already purchased Shinji Kagawa for £12m, a player who has won two Bundesliga titles and other accolades in Europe. I am sure Manchester United had been scouting Lucas Moura for a number of years and would have been willing to pay a substantial amount to the Brazilian club, yet I doubt Fergie would have gone any further, and PSG.. a club with drive, passion, and a pool of money would give the club ANYTHING for a potential world class talent.

I am not doubting the talent of Lucas Moura, and if the lad becomes the next best thing, I will join my fellow fans in our bitchy "F*ck sake Fergie, you should have signed him!" .. like there will be, but I feel that right now, the club does not need such a player, and if we sign a new centre midfielder and left back (probably for the amount Moura would have cost), we will be in a much stronger position. I wish nothing but good luck to Mister Moura in his pastures new a la Paris, but I feel United not signing him.. isn't a *loss*. Perhaps by the 1st September 2012, we may have signed one or two class players.. I hope so, but it won't be Lucas!  

Monday, 9 July 2012

Why Video Games are not evil.

Throughout my life I have been a video games / console connoisseur. I have played MMORPGs on the internet, childhood beauties such as Pokémon on the game boy, Mario-marvels on the Nintendo and so on. I have always been a middle of the row student, mainly getting Bs et al in my exams/coursework and my parents always said that I had “wasted my time”, on these “stupid games”. Perhaps your parents have said this to you also, I have decided to step away from the sports world and attempt to argue the Holy Grail of parenting excuses. There are a number of aspects which can help develop a person through the art of gaming and I shall discuss them ..right now!

1.)    Competition – The majority of video games (mostly on consoles), be that FIFA, Call of Duty, etc not only allow you a fun time, but lay down a challenge, be that outwitting the computer/story mode, or taking on your fellow gamers online. The satisfaction of winning gives you a perk and the anger/frustration of losing gives you that drive to do better next time.

2.)    Community – Ever since my first online game, back in the days of Runescape during Primary School, I made a conscious effort to talk to people and make friends over certain games. You cannot go outside and talk to somebody from the other side of the globe, however I have developed a good rapport with a number of people over the globe… and as a budding sociologist, understanding different cultures can be achieved in this way.. be that understanding that my German friends cannot take sarcasm and also understanding whatever happens.. you will never beat an Asian person at levelling up on an MMORPG.

3.)    Typing – This may sound preposterous, but I feel that computer games helped my ability to type over 80 words a minute more than anything I have done in my life. Whilst I was in Year 4 of Primary School, I was introduced to the infamous “Multi-player monkey you cannot get off your back” named Runescape. I would sit on my computer and fail to find keys and I would rant, saying that “THE X KEY ISN’T ON THIS KEYBOARD!” .. until someone showed me. Playing this game for as long as I am ashamed to have played for, helped me develop very quick typing skills.

4.)    Imagination – My parents would always say to me that time spent on video games can be spent “reading a book” or playing outside, and I will not deny, the many books I have read have really helped my imagination to blossom, but the challenges and aspects of video games, right there on the screen can help you think more.. which leads onto my final aspect..

5.)    Challenges – Anyone who takes an IQ test of some kind will find many puzzles and such like events, and the art of playing video games can help stimulate cognitive processes, which can help increase your IQ .. take a look here -

I am not condoning a ridiculous amount of game playing here, I would like anyone who reads this, not to use it as an excuse to be on their games 24/7 .. I feel I did not balance gaming with other hobbies enough, and I would take this time to remind you that everything should be taken in moderation. I hope you enjoyed this blog just as much as my sports ones..  

Saturday, 7 July 2012

What makes a footballer “World Class”??

Throughout my time on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, questions have been asked and debates have been formed in regards to World Class footballers: Are they World Class? Are they Over-rated? Are they Under-Rated, I have got into trouble once or twice by answering these questions “wrongly” in the general eye of the public. I thought for my latest blog entry I would share my personal opinion on how I define this concept and how I operationalise it.
        If I were to source the Cambridge Dictionary it would define this concept as the following –
Someone or something world-class is one of the best that there are of that type in the world
One thing in world football today that really grinds my gears is the fact that when we say “World Class”, there is a sense of ownership on our own clubs players. By this I mean a Liverpool supporter may claim that Luis Suarez, Lucas Leiva et al are “World Class” and a Manchester United fan like myself, could argue that… (Actually there aren’t any MUFC players who are not World Class..) -  This in my eyes, leads to a case where we in 2012 could have as many as 10 or 15 world class players. Please tell me how 10 or 15 individuals can be all level or close to the pinnacle of success?
  I shall identify an objective and subjective approach to deeming a player as “World Class”, starting with the objective manner. Objectively, you can identify a world class player or players by their trophy cabinet for club, country and/or personal accomplishments. 

If I were to pick two players at random, I believe (..and hope for the sake of humanity) that we would all agree on the idea that Ryan Giggs and Ronaldo (of the Brazilian persuasion) are/were "World Class". Objectively this can be identified by the achievements that both footballers have earned over their long careers, as well as scintillating performances shown time after time after time. (I would like to add that I would list the respective trophies and accolades both men have earned, but I doubt I would have enough room to finish this entry if I were to do so!). It is all good and easy by identifying a footballer as "World Class" objectively as there is no real room for debate, however subjectively, we all have our opinions on which footballers in this day and age can wear this tag with pride. The likes of the England captain, Steven Gerrard has been a credit to this Liverpool side for so long and yet his trophy cabinet isn't one that would necessarily showcase his beautiful career, does this mean that he cannot be considered "World Class"? Of course not, and this is why I shall identify my views on the subjective etymology of the term. 

I am quite stubborn in my beliefs in who is World Class and who isn't and I believe there is a glass ceiling, in which a player cannot reach these heights unless they perform admirably on the pitch and off of it. Of course we cannot completely understand the full life of the every day footballer off of the pitch as we must respect their privacy (unless we are journalists..). Yet, I believe that good nature off of the pitch will boost your reputation just as much as on, lest we forget, these men should be role models to the future generation. Many fans of the football world on Twitter believe that I lash into one Luis Suarez because of the badge that he wears, oh contraire, I have always said that Steven Gerrard is a model professional and that all children should look up to him.. (do I sound like a typical Manc now..?). The reason I argue Mister Suarez's potential World Class description is due to his antics on the pitch (and I am not hinting to the Evra situation). A history of biting, "cheating", pulling of hair, whining and complaining does not bode well in the eyes of the media, spectators or potential role modelling. An argument I once got myself into was that once a Liverpool fan commented on Roy Keane's infamous "behaviour" on and off of the pitch. Keano may have had some psychological *problems*, and some clashes with fellow professionals and fans alike have tainted his standings, yet I would say that this man wore the armband of an illustrious club, gave everything for his team and on one rainy night in Turin gave one of the world's best performances. Once Luis bucks his ideas up and starts to lead Liverpool by an example, I may re-think my beliefs on his potential tag. 

Both players I shall mention now are indeed World Class .. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are so good that if we are dubbing so many players as this concept, we may as well label CR7 and Messi as Inter-galactic super stars.. yet the debate stiill roars on, who is better?! One of the reasons in my eyes, as to why Leo Messi may be seen as "better" than Ronaldo is not only his dominance for Barcelona, but the fact that off the pitch, all we hear about is work for Unicef and his God Like status back in Argentina. No doubt Cristiano has his fangirls (most of these being men..) .. but a career filled with shopping, designers clothes and women does look a bit iffy. Of course Ronaldo has done so many caring things, and I may be sounding like a journalist at this point, unfairly pointing out only Ronaldo's flaws,  but the reason I am Team Messi, is that as of yet, there has been very little controversy during his career. 

Will we ever get a footballer who scores 50 goals a season, that donates his time and money to charity, is loved by everyone and can be a role model to so many children? Perhaps the closest we can wish for is Mister Messi .. perhaps somebody else will come along .. or perhaps I am being just so damn unrealistic that there is no point in even wondering. However, we must remember, the art of football is much more than just kicking a ball around, so to become world class, you must succeed in every walk of life within this culture. 

PS. Sorry for the lack of posts, I have been rather lazy so far this summer, but I shall be updating more in the not too distant future. .. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A Beautiful Challenge In Bavaria

Montpellier is the fastest growing city in France, it is a city of culture, proud academia and a rich history, however in sports, the most exciting time is now. As you will know from my first entry, Montepellier’s main sports team – MHSC are STILL top of the French Ligue 1 (with only two games to go!) 

If you recall, I identified two key players whom I believed embodied the success of MHSC, these being Olivier Giroud and Younès Belhanda. Olivier still tops the Ligue 1 goal scoring charts, and I have to say, I do not think there are many more strikers I like to scout over at this time. He is a graceful player and a poacher, much like a certain someone I shall be mentioning further in this entry..


21 goals in 36 matches is a more than reasonable return, and this is why he is highly sought after across Europe. Clubs such as Liverpool FC, Newcastle United and Arsenal FC have all been linked with the striker, however one club in particular seem to have made a galloping start in order to sign this talented player, who may be close to his prime years. The club seemed to be making this headway are the Bundesliga runners-up and Champions League finalists this year… Bayern Munich.

Most rumours you hear on the internet these days.. as a sports fan, you look at with a certain amount of disbelief, unless a credible source has been used. Apparent quotes were printed by Sportbild of Germany, directly from the man Giroud himself on such a move

"Personally I had no direct talks with Bayern Munich, but my agent. Yes. Bayern Munich, due to the positive experiences of other French players in Munich, is in my focus a lot more than other clubs. All Players have always said how friendly they have been welcomed, how happy they were there and how they got treated there" - Giroud

People who are knowledgeable about  European football may think .. "hang on a minute, Bayern Munich already have a poacher" .. and yes they do! Mario Gomez.. the German international (with a Spanish mother if any of you were wondering about such a name like Mario Gómez García). For those of you who are not familiar, I can assure you, he's German.. having notched up 21 goals in 51 games for his national side. His goalscoring record this season has made the likes of Giroud look average, as the German international has racked up 26 league goals this season and an even more alarming statistic is that he has hit 40 goals in 42 appearances overall. 

Gomez and Giroud are both similar types of players (as you may see when watching the videos above of each player), it shall be intriguing to see (even if this deal does go through..), whether or not they can play together. They are both aged 26, so it is not as if Giroud is a young talent waiting to replace him, so I wonder if Jupp Heynckes will be able to fit them into a system. I am no tactical expert, my footballing knowledge comes more from a scout's perspective.. but here is a line up I would certainly be envious of. 

Giroud himself has discussed the idea of playing with Gomez, this is what he had to say 

         " We both have about the same size and a similar profile, even if there are differences. Mario Gomez is very clever in front of goal, very strong in the box. But I can also score from outside the penalty area, Gomez is stronger inside it. I am a type that, apart from that, takes more part in build up play than Mario Gomez"

I do hope now, that this deal does go ahead.. even if it costs the Bavarians a lot of money, not only because I believe it will strengthen their team even more, but it will also save my face and give reason to my decision to create a blog entry on the possible transfer. Thank-you and good night!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A monumental season for Montpellier HSC

A monumental season for Montpellier HSC

         In England, we are spoiled with the glamour of the Barclays Premier League and so the knowledge of various European leagues may be lacking for the every day English football fan. When I ask people what they imagine when thinking of Ligue 1, they mention the dominance of Olympic Lyonnais as well as it being the league that an ex England favourite in Joe Cole has escaped to after his horror season at Liverpool.
                           Yet, despite the belief that such teams as Olympic Lyonnais and Marseille are the two powerhouses of French football, as of 2012, this claim would be wrong, as in the last three years, Bordeaux and Lille have taken the title (as well as a first win for Marseille in a number of years after finishing second best on many occasions). We must also not forget the newly confirmed “oil rich” Paris Saint German after appointing previous Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti as manager, and splashing the cash on various stars such as Javier Pastore.  Yet despite the challenge of clubs such as Lille and PSG, in one of the strangest Ligue 1 seasons I can remember, a new club is on everyones lips, this club being Montpellier Herault Sporting Club.
                           The South Eastern City club are sitting on the summit of Ligue 1, holding off the incredibly rich PSG, and yet they have not spent masses on a new squad in attempt to improve on their last season, finishing 14th in the League and a valiant cup run, ending runners up to Marseille.  They sit on 66 points from 32 games, and yet despite the gap between them and PSG being closed to 3 points, the achievements of the team managed by the ex France u21 manager René Girard have been astronomical.

                           I recently watched Montpellier dispatch of Marseille at the Stade Vélodrome in a 3-1 victory, in which I witnessed one of the goals of the season (a wonderfully executed scissor kick). The goal scorers in this game arguably epitomise the clubs amazing season, as they have also rose from nowhere to become two players on many clubs shortlists for the summer. These players being Younès Belhanda, a 22 year old Moroccan, who Girard himself compared to the legendary Robert Pirès as well as the current Ligue 1 top goal scorer Olivier Giroud, a 25 year old striker who has notched up no less than 20 goals this season in the league. A brace from Belhanda (the latter being a strike of real quality, as you can see from the highlights below) and an equally exquisite finish from Giroud were what saw off the newly crowned Coupe de la Ligue champion, and they are goals that any football fan would applaud.
         Highlights Marseille 1-3 MHSC

If this team can fend off supposedly “bigger” clubs for their star players, I see no reason why they cannot have a real go in the Champions League next year, also, as we can see by looking at financial statistics, this teams performances have been based on chemistry and passion, not a cheque book, so I wish the best of luck to Montpellier for the final stage of the Ligue 1 campaign