Thursday, 12 June 2014

A Definitive Guide To The Top 5 Football Tunes

The sun has been streaming through the windows here at Hoof House and we've all been hit by a sudden bout of World Cup fever! On the day that the world’s greatest footballing showpiece gets underway, it inevitably wasn’t long before talk turned to the disappointment of the Official Fifa song which was was chosen to be performed by the self-proclaimed "Mr Worldwide" Pitbull, along with Jennifer Lopez & Claudia Leitte - We Are One (Ole Ola) - This song has received lots of criticism in host country Brazil for its bland lyrics and lack of any Portuguese and there are worries it might be booed when he performs it live at the opening ceremony in Sao Paulo. However, it does have a carnivale vibe very very popular on YouTube. We then turned our thoughts to one of the most imperative questions that arises every four years and one of the most hotly debated whether in pubs, offices and schools around the world, just what is the best football anthem of all time?
Here is our definitive top 5 – *Warning may induce nostalgia*


5.       Fat Les – Vindaloo

The English typically tend to be rather modest when it comes to patriotism compared to their European neighbors and American cousins but this can all be changed in 3 minutes 54 seconds of audible nationalism. Fat les were composed of Blur bassist, Alex James, Damien Hirst and the lyrics were written by comedian Keith Allen the record was first released for France ‘98. Who can forget such classic lines such as "We're England; we're gonna score one more than you" and "we all like vindaloo". This cult classic remains the song of choice for the diehard England Fan.

4.       Shakira – Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)

The first World Cup to be held on the African continent required a fitting soundtrack, no not the vuvuzela but Shakira and South African band Freshleyground produced the most successful world cup song to date. The Colombian has also released a track for Brazil 2014 “La La La”, despite the video featuring the best football stars in the world awkwardly dancing topless, it’s certainly no Waka Waka.

 3.       Dario G – Carnival De Paris
The World Cup of 1998 was lit up by the best football team France has ever produced and the best Official Fifa World Cup song! Even Beckham's red card that led to England's downfall over their arch-rival Argentina and Croatia easing to victory over Germany in the quarters, could not distract from the achievements by Zinedine Zidane and his team, who swept aside all before them on home soil, all of which was sound tracked by the various national elements (not forgetting the bagpipes) and now iconic NAA NAA, NAA NAA, NANARNANAR NANANAA.

2.       WORLD IN MOTION – ENGLAND NEW ORDER (Feat. John Barnes)

The Italia ’90's Fifa Concert on the evening before the final saw Pavarotti belt out Nessun Dorma(which narrowly missed out on a spot in the top 5) the tournament also saw England produced their best performance in a World Cup since 1966 and a genuinely good song, new wave heavyweights New Order and co-writing again from Keith Allen, the song is most notable for that rap by star winger John Barnes. Absolute classic.

1.      Three Lions – Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds


It’s 1996 Britpop phenomenon is at its peak, enter the dream team of Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds to combine with one of England's most famous sporting summers.
Terry Venables' side which of course featured the legends of Shearer, Lineker and Gareth Southgate, and the iconic Gazza specular solo strike and ‘dentist chair‘ celebration to sink Scotland. Only then for the lyrics to ring oh so true in the semi-finals, as Germany, once again, ended the England dream - but only after a truly special encounter. So popular was the tune that it reached number one in the UK chart, even other teams liked it, Jürgen Klinsmann Germany admitted they sung it on their way to the to the semi-final and eventually adopted it as there own anthem for the World cup in 2006, thus securing its place at number 1.
According to John Motson, "As football songs go, Three Lions is certainly the best", and who would we to disagree with Motty.

Read more ...

Friday, 28 February 2014

Gibraltar – Rock Solid or Monkey Business?

Written by Danny Higginson
On the 23rd of February 2014 footballing history was made. The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar was drawn out of the hat and placed alongside Germany, Scotland, The Republic of Ireland, Poland and Georgia in group D for the 2016 European Championship Qualifiers for the first time in the nation’s history. But, can this tiny nation of just under 30,000 people, UEFA’s smallest member in terms of population behind San Marino (32,000) on the southern tip of Spain have a ‘rock’ solid impact on their group or is it just a load of monkey business? (Barbary Macaque’s to be precise!)
A wonderful backdrop but do the Gibraltarians have the skill to match?
Previous Fixtures
Since being confirmed as an official UEFA member, Gibraltar have participated in one friendly so far against Slovakia, but have a home tie against the Faroe Islands on the 1st of March, followed by the first fixture of a home and away friendly double header against Estonia, before beginning their Euro qualifying campaign at ‘home’ against Poland.  The match against Slovakia was held as a ‘home’ match for the tiny nation, but was played at the Estadio Algarve near Faro in Portugal due to the Victoria Stadium on the island, not being up to UEFA’s requirements. The match ended all square at 0-0 with Slovakia having the better of the chances, whilst also choosing to rest key men such as Marek Hamsik, but this was still a credible result for Gibraltar which begs the question, how far can this team go?
 Hoof! Investigates the island nation’s chances.
The Stadium
Throughout the qualifying campaign it is expected that Gibraltar will host their games at the Estadio Algarve near the city of Faro in Portugal, four hours away from the micro nations border. This is due to the political tension between Gibraltar and their neighbours Spain, who claim ownership of the Rock. Britain disputes this claim and a referendum was held in in 1967 which declared that the Gibraltarians rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty, thus remaining an independent nation, albeit closely monitored by Great Britain. For this reason, Gibraltar is unable to stage games in its disgruntled neighbors’ territory, hence why Portugal was seen as the logical choice. The stadium itself has a capacity of 30,000 which is more than the population of the entire state. Against Slovakia, three hundred football fanatics made the journey to watch their heroes make their international bow after official recognition and it remains to be seen how many more would make the trip for an official qualifier, therefore it is debatable whether Gibraltar could depend upon a ‘home advantage’ when playing games. 
The Squad
Possibly the position that Gibraltar’s more experienced players occupy, in terms of professional appearances is their defence. The Gibraltarians can count Preston North End utility man Scott Wiseman, former Manchester United and Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham and English lower league journeyman David Artell amongst their own. In midfield can be found another professional player in the shape of Liam Walker, who currently plays for Bnei Yehuda in Israel.  Walker joined ‘The Golden’s’ under recommendation from Israeli footballing icon Yossi Benayoun and is described as a ‘tricky winger with an eye for goal’.  Other players deserving of a mention are Farsley Celtic’s international superstar Adam Priestley and Reece Styche who is currently on loan at Wycombe Wanderers from footballing giants Forest Green Rovers. These current and ex professionals (Higginbotham has recently retired from club football) will be key to maintaining discipline among the defensive ranks when the pressure is on against footballing powerhouse Germany and qualifying hopefuls The Republic of Ireland, Scotland and a Robert Lewandowski inspired Poland.
35 year old ex Manchester United defender Danny Higginbotham will be crucial to Gibraltar’s hopes.
The Manager
A more optimistic man than those of us here at Hoof! Coach Allen Bula after the draw for the qualifiers was made stated that he believed his team could at least secure a place in the knockouts by finishing third in the group, which begs the question of which three teams in group D will finish with less points than this optimistic (If not slightly deluded?) manager suggests his team will get? 
The Verdict
It is hard to see Gibraltar being anything more than a team that is just there to ‘make up the numbers’, as the lack of quality throughout the team is plain for everyone to see. This coupled with a lack of a ground within the borders of the micro-nation all adds up to ultimately a qualifying round full of pride, but with perhaps only a couple of points to show for it. Hoof!’s prediction for the Mediterranean minnows is last place with two points, after ‘home’ draws against Georgia and Scotland.      
For ‘highlights’ of Gibraltar’s 0-0 draw with Slovakia, follow the link below:
Read more ...

Ignorance is Strength

Dieudonne M'bala M'bala and Nicolas Anelka
Anelka and M'bala M'bala performing the 'quenelle'

For those of you who have read 1984 by George Orwell, the following refrain should echo soundly:

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.

This idea, put forward by the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's book, comes to represent the Ministry's ability to change historical facts and rely on the populaces' ignorance to make them true. Ignorance of the past is central to the Ministry's program. Whether Orwell meant it or not, this profound ignorance of the population of Oceania can be seen as an interesting social commentary on the general population. This includes just accepting certain facts that one hears through mass media outlets, the ignorance of blindly supporting a public figure and many other applications for ignorance in society. This leads us to one Nicolas Anelka and his defense for his 'quenelle gesture' after scoring against West Ham.

The gesture itself is anti-Semitic. Developed by French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala as a, in his opinion, "anti-establishment gesture,' it has been used as an inverted Nazi salute and been seen at sites such as Auschwitz and the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. What's interesting here, as both M'bala M'bala and Anelka claim, as previously stated, that it is just an 'anti-establishment gesture,' the French government is currently trying to ban M'bala M'bala's shows over the gesture, according to the BBC. There is a profound amount of ignorance on Anelka's part about the significance of the gesture and how it is seen as anti-Semitic. However, this ignorance should not preclude him from punishment.

Yesterday, the FA agreed, banning Anelka for five matches and fined him £80,000 for it's use and stating "that the gesture was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, and that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief." Furthermore, the commission stated that "we did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle."

How are these two views even reconciled? The fact that ignorance of a fact cannot be used as an excuse. While Anekla very well could be telling the truth in what he sees as purely an 'anti-establishment gesture,' it is much more than that. It is a anti-Semitic gesture that is abusive and insulting.

Racism has no place in football, sport or in society. The FA did the right thing in banning Anelka. However, the FA should have sent a stronger message by banning him for longer, showing that the consequences of racism outweigh those of say, biting another player. However, had the FA not banned him at all, it would have sent a dangerous precedent in that any perceived ignorance to the laws of the game could be used as a defense against a ban.

In the end, what Anekla thought was his greatest strength, turned out to be his biggest weakness.
Read more ...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

If Premier League teams were WWE superstars....

After recent rumours began circulating that WWE supremo Vince McMahon was going to take over as chairman of Newcastle United, Hoof! Football decided to create our very own WWE / Premier League mash up!

Man United - The Undertaker

United have dominated the PL the last two decades just as the Undertaker has the WWE. In the 90's United rode the wave of the globalisation of the EPL only to come out on top and become one of the biggest clubs in World football much like the Undertaker was integral to the booming popularity of the RAW era of the mid 90's. Under the tutelage of Sir Alex, United were able to adapt and emerge as a constant force as each generation of players subsided, akin to the Undertaker's ability to rebrand (deadman to American bad ass then back to deadman) and reign supreme. Neither know when they're beaten, who can forget the Undertaker's come back against Triple H at wrestlemania 28, or of course United's two last minute 'chokeslams' to win the champions league in 1999. Still all things must come to an end and with a retirement home in hell surely not far around the corner for the Undertaker, and with Sir Alex already there since retiring last season is their time at the top over for these two heavyweights?

Liverpool - Ric Flair

Its all about the history with these two. Delve back into the archives and you are looking at arguably the most successful club in the history of English football and the most successful superstar in the history of the WWE. However in recent years the limp attempts of either to recapture past glories has been as unsuccessful as it was embarrassing. Although as Liverpool are showing this season, there is always potential to reach those giddy heights once more, who's seriously discounting a Ric Flair appearance at wrestlemania 30? Woooooooo!

Chelsea - CM Punk

To their fans they are the anti-hero, the upstart taking on the best and winning, to everyone else they are the villain, conniving and complaining of foul play and ridiculously prone to self destructive overconfidence. Still whichever camp you sit in, its undeniable the both Chelsea and Punk are amongst the 'Best in the World'.

Arsenal - Dolph Ziggler

Technically superb, but are either of them ever going to be fancied enough to be considered real contenders and to lead the pack?
Read more ...

The Curious Case of Southampton FC

Former Oilers coach Krueger is joining Southampton FC
Southampton have been an interesting team to watch this season. Not just because of their on-the-field success with Mauricio Pochettino, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert, but also because of their off-the-field front office troubles. In January, chairman Nicola Cortese resigned due to a "irreconcilable rift" with owner Katharina Liebherr due to how the two of them saw the team's development. Now, with Cortese gone, Liebherr has decided to take it upon herself to restructure the management team for the Saints. One of the new personalities to grace Southampton FC is Ralph Krueger.

For the uninitiated, Krueger is the former coach of the Swiss Men's National Hockey Team. Between 1997 and 2010, Krueger led the Swiss men at three Olympic Winter Games (2002, 2006 and 2010) that included a 2-0 victory over Canada in Turin in 2006. Krueger also became coach of the Edmonton Oilers in 2012, before getting unceremoniously sacked less than a year later. Most recently, he was an advisor to the Canadian team that won the gold medal in Sochi. With Liebherr turning to a hockey coach to help with the new management structure, one has to ask how he will fit in.

Well the truth is that no one really knows. According to the BBC, "at this stage, Krueger's exact job description remains unclear but it is understood he has acted as an advisor to Liebherr for some time." What Liebherr likes however is Krueger's experience as a motivational speaker. Additionally, Krueger's work at the highest levels of professional hockey offers a lot of experience (both tangible and intangible) that has the potential to radically change Southampton for the good.

Sport should be a place for an exchange of ideas. You should be constantly be trying to reinvent yourself in order to be consistently competitive at the highest levels. With a move for Krueger, Southampton is showing that they are not scared to think outside the box in a league where winning is everything.
Read more ...

Plight of The Pompey

On a night when most of the footballing world turned its eyes towards the Champions League to see Manchester United woes continue. Meanwhile, another club looked to end theirs. Portsmouth against Accrington Stanley, an unlikely fixture until a few years ago. It wasn’t so long ago that Pompey played in two FA Cup finals in three years and went on to face Kaka’s AC Milan in the Europa League in 2008, taking a 2-0 lead at Fratton Park before Ronaldinho came on to help rescue a 2-2 draw. Portsmouth FA Cup win ended a 58-year wait for major silverware. Now almost six years ago, it may well seem like a lifetime ago for many fans since the superstar names graced the hallowed turf.

Shortly after lifting the cup the club were plunged into a much documented financial meltdown. Sacha Gaydamak’s glory days were abruptly ended by the global financial crash; owners have since included a tycoon from Dubai without proper funds, a shady Malaysian money lender, a Russian who has since been charged with a £400m fraud. Oh and not forgetting a Saudi businessman no one ever met, and is still disputed to this day whether he actually exists – just where were the so called ‘fit and proper persons’ tests when this calamity was occurring.

As a result of the off the field problems, which eventually saw them become the first Premier League club to enter administration in February of the 09-10 season and leading to relegation after the subsequent 9-point penalty, as well as a hefty transfer embargo emplaced. The following campaign saw them relegated to League One due to another 10-point deduction, due to re-entering administration. This was swiftly followed by a mass exodus of players and staff, with only seven wins over the course of a 46-game campaign combined with a 10-point deduction due to failing to pay footballing creditors Pompey were relegated to League Two, before being rescued from insolvency by their own fans last April.
The Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust (PST) are formed of eleven wealthy supporters, who raised £1.7m, and a remarkable £2.4m was put up by 2,400 less well-off fans each pledging £1,000. After an expensive year-long legal battle (that investors had to fund) to the sum of £1m and settling a claim brought by another former owner, Balram Chainra the club was finally out of administration and in doing so becoming the largest community-owned football club in the country.

Pompey has seen more than their fair share of managers come and go over the past few years. The latest, Richie Barker, along with Director of Football, Steve Coppell inherits a team some great young talent such as Jed Wallace and Jake Jervis but, with same defensive fragilities. They have a lot of work to do to protect Portsmouth from their fourth relegation in five seasons. The club, who had started the season as favourites to win the division are now locked in a survival battle, flirting with the possibility of losing their Football League status altogether!
However, all is not doom and gloom on the South Coast, the club still draws an average crowd attendance of 15,379 a figure that wouldn’t be out of place in the Championship! The dark days seem to be over and the club are now very much in control of their own destiny. History has shown that it’s possible for clubs to bounce from financial crises, with the correct financial backing and strategy in place; such as neighbours Southampton and Swansea's rise from obscurity. Pompey’s plummet has undeniably influenced UEFA new ‘Financial Fair Play’ regulations that aim to prevent these tragic incidences from being so frequent. Pompey went on to gain an invaluable 3-points against Accrington and climb to 18th in the league and 7-points off the drop in a tightly-fought league.

“You can be friendly, comfortable, have the cheapest tea in the league, the best beer and the nicest pies, and make everyone involved — but you know what?” said Iain McInnes, chairman of the Portsmouth trust “If you don’t do it on the pitch, no one gives a toss.” A message that Hoof! fully approve.

Remember to follow us on Twitter - @HoofFootball

Read more ...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

So it goes...the story of Toronto FC and Kevin Payne

Former TFC president Kevin Payne
In Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Billy Pilgrim, the book's main character consistently repeats the phrase " it goes." Vonnegut uses this phrase as a transition, coming after plot points where it might be used to explain the unexplained, such as with deaths. This concept can be immediately be applied to Toronto FC and its revolving door of management, players and staff.

The Kevin Payne era at TFC started nearly 10 months ago and impressively is also one of the shortest eras at the club. Mo Johnston, John Carver, Preki and the ill fated Aron Winter experiment all lasted longer. While Paul Mariner was let go only seven months into his managerial reign, he had been hired at the same time as Winter. This leaves Chris Cummins and Nick Dasovic as TFC's shortest term holders, however they were both interm.

What can be seen from this however is the constant turnover at the club. It is a club that has had more managers (including Ryan Nelsen) than it has years of existence. It is a club that trusted former German international and current US coach Juergen Klinsmann to make decisions for it, instead of from inside the organization. Finally, it is a club that has consistently failed on the pitch (outside of a run to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League).

Wrapped up in this story is the fans. Of whom, I count myself as one of them. Having to endure the constant failure on the field, the constant promises of success from management, want-away players, and an ownership group who initially at least, had no idea what they were doing, there is still a base (albeit slightly crazy) that would do anything for the club. This is where we come back to the man that is Kevin Payne.

His "get used to it" answer to Jason DeVos' question about whether or not the supporters should expect more international friendlies was the final 'fu*k you' to the supporters. The ones who have stuck around since the beginning. Payne's backed words (such as not bringing in an overage European type of player) and his 'outgoing' (for lack of a better word) personality, brought about his demise when new MLSE president Tim Leiweke came to town.

In a way, TFC supporters have come to expect this. Someone new comes to town, tries to do things his way and eventually gets fired. As Billy Pilgrim would say, " it goes."

Follow Hoof! Football on Twitter at @hooffootball

Read more ...

Moyes' Transfer Disaster

Moyes' had much trouble in his first window as United boss.

David Moyes' first transfer window with Manchester United doesn’t seem terrible on the surface. He managed to keep Chelsea away from Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini should shore up the midfield with a physical presence. However, when you factor in how the transfer for Fellaini happened (and the failed bid for Everton’s Leighton Baines), the saga around Ander Herrera in Spain, the failed bid for Fabio Coentrao and having Arsenal sign Mesut Özil, Manchester United can be seen as one of the biggest losers in the summer transfer window.

The double bid for Everton duo Fellaini and Baines went through many phases, with an initial £15m bid rejected, then later a £36m bid rejected. United finally split the bid up, offering £15m for Baines (which was again rejected) and £27.5m for Fellaini (which was accepted). While the multiple bids for the two players that were rejected may seem embarrassing enough, it gets worse. Fellaini had a buy-out clause in his contract that had expired earlier in the transfer window. Had United bought their man then, they would have saved £4m. It’s not like they had the man instrumental in signing Fellaini at Everton helping to sign him at United or anything. It's not like he would know those details of his contract.

The window got worse for United when they tried to sign Herrera from Athletic Bilbao. So the story goes, the three men who were conducting transfer negotiations with Herrera were not associated with the club in anyway. They then decided against the transfer and walked away from the table when they balked at Herrera’s buyout clause (£30.5m). It now appears that these men were sport lawyers who had previously worked on football transfers (such as Javi Martinez to Bayern Munich).

These two stories help to play into the failed loan bid for Coentrao and having Özil taken from right underneath United’s nose. One feels that if Sir Alex Ferguson was still manager at United, none of this would have happened. Instead, Coentrao, Özil and Baines might count themselves as Manchester United players and Fellaini would have moved earlier and for less.

Follow Hoof! Football on twitter @hooffootball
Read more ...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Bristol Derby and England's latest Striking Sensation

Tomorrow marks what is sure to be a momentous week for Bristol Rovers fans. John Ward takes his Rovers team to Ashton Gate, home of city rivals Bristol City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. In one of English football’s most fiercely contested derbies the Gas will be hoping to replicate their famous victory over City in the same competition 6 years ago.

On that night a certain Rickie Lambert scored the winner at the Memorial Ground to send Rovers through and the former Blackthorn End hero has delighted ‘Gasheads’ by once more being included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad to face Moldova and Ukraine in England’s forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

I can’t think of a better way to mark the derby tomorrow night and celebrate Lambert’s second England cap than by revisiting that glorious strike way back in 2007. Come on Rovers!
Read more ...

Levy’s Bailout Plan

As the clichéd riddled transfer window is slammed shut once more, here at Hoof! we are very excited about the hottest new imports to the league!

Now that the inevitable has happened, one team is left with a bizarre shaped Bale hole. Levy’s solution; get rid of the old, Caulker (Cardiff, £8m), Dempsey (Seattle Sounders, £6m), Huddlestone (Hull, £5m) and Parker (Fulham, £2m) and well as the release of seven players, including Gallas and Bentley. Then go on to spend £106.4 million building a new squad on somewhat unknown players.

First to come in was Brazilian Paulinho add energy to their midfield for £17M. Swiftly followed by Valencia’s superstar Roberto Soldado, for a weighty fee of £26 million, having scored 30 goals in 46 appearances for the La Liga club last season. Soldado has got up and running quickly (from the penalty spot), might he prove the striker they’ve lacked for years.

The direct replacement for bale comes in the form of 21-year-old Erik Lamela who came through the ranks at Argentine side River Plate, providing pace, assists, and goals. Although he is a different player to Bale, he’s definitely an exceptional talent. Fellow 21-year-old Christian Eriksen joined from Ajax Splits opinion but is generally very highly rated. This pair will no doubt entertain and provide some flair and elegance and might be the answer to that missing creative outlet.

Spurs will certainly miss Bale, however is he worth more than a Lamela/Soldado/Eriksen/ /Capoue/Paulinho combined, no. Levy and Spurs made the very best of a bad situation in selling the prized asset and injecting it into players who might gel and will have an impact on the league table this year.
Arsene Wenger predicted that Tottenham’s clutch of new signings may make them ‘unbalanced’, which was seen Arsenals 1-0 win at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenals much criticized lack of summer signings was ended with the arrival club-record smashing £42.5m midfielder Mesut Ozil. Arsenals defence once again looked strong against spurs (despite the opening day blip) but having failed in high-profile attempts to sign Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain lacking in the striker department may prove to be there breakdown.

Undoubtedly the battle for fourth spot shall be a great watch this year!

Wenger has been left scratching his head after a difficult transfer window

Keep an eye out for the much anticipated first Pilchard's Premiership Predictions of the season…

Follow us on Twitter @HoofFootball

Read more ...

Who's Ozil-y boy Arsene

So with the transfer window firmly slam shut it’s now time to kick back and take in what the hell just happened in the last 24 hours.

By far the biggest deal of the day on every level was the transfer of Mesut Ozil who moved from Real Madrid to Arsenal for a staggering £42.5million. Arsene finally splashed the cash (it must have been burning a hole in his pocket) but is this transfer going to propel the gunners this into title contention this season?

Ozil is undoubtedly one of the finest playmakers in world football, a magnificent 72 assists in his last five seasons, the highest in Europe in the same period, shows the calibre of the player Arsenal have picked up. He is also sure to fit in with the quick passing, fluid football that Arsene has indoctrinated his players to play, yet is this really an area the gunners needed to improve? We all know Arsenal can play most teams off the park but what has let them down season after season is resilience; a doggedness to get the result and scrap to victory. Even the most ardent Arsenal fan would admit the priority for signings lay in a combative midfielder as well as defensive reinforcements. Yet in came Ozil.

Once all the celebrating and furore brought on by this marquee signing fades and the dust settles Arsenal may just realise that the same vulnerabilities remain. A goalkeeper has been brought in to put pressure on Szczesny, yet Emiliano Viviano is a player rebuilding his career after a fragmented few seasons disrupted by injury. As German football writer Mark Lovell put it “Mesut Ozil is a luxury signing. Alas trophy winners are built on sound defence and goalkeeper and Arsene Wenger has neglected these key areas. Arsenal will still get bullied.”

 Arsenal’s defensive frailties could still be prevalent. At least with Ozil in the team they will be even more attractive to watch in the face of defeat. 
Read more ...

Monday, 2 September 2013

On Yer ‘Ead Son! - Week 1

Classic route one hoof play...

Welcome to the first edition of the weekly ‘On Yer ‘head Son’ blog. Each week three videos will be uploaded that show goals that have been scored through passages of classic hoof play.

Football purists and Arsenal supporters look away now!

Goal Number 1 – Franck Queudrue v Uhhh... His own team RC Lens. 

Hig’s Hoof rating: 7/10. Words fail to describe how good this goal would be if it was scored against the opposition and not your own teammates. Franck clearly had a ‘Have it’ moment and volleyed the goal over his goalkeeper and into his own net. It’s hard not to laugh whilst watching this clip but unfortunately with it being scored in the wrong goal, this has prevented it from scoring higher.
Goal Number 2- Maynor Figueroa v Stoke.

Hig’s Hoof rating: 9/10. This has to be an almost textbook edition of a hoofed goal. As Scott Sinclair is fouled just inside his own half, up steps Maynor Figueroa to launch the resulting free kick over Thomas Sorensen and into the top right hand corner of the net. Did he mean it? Or was he looking for the run of Hugo Rodellega? I’ll leave that up to you to decide!
Goal Number 3 – Tim Howard v Bolton.

Hig’s Hoof rating 10/10. One of my personal favourites for two reasons. Firstly the fact that Tim Howard scored from his own penalty area is always an impressive achievement and secondly, is that Tim clearly had the right idea on how the game should be played, whereby you can bypass 90% of the pitch and land the ball on your strikers head for him to head the ball in, but if you miss and it bounces over the opposition goalkeeper (embarrassing moment eh Mr Bogdan?) then it’s just as effective! This goal gets the Big Sam seal of approval. 
Thank you for reading.
Hooffootball would like to hear your hoof ratings for the above goals, please comment below.

Read more ...

Rotherham United's Leap into League 1

2013 saw Rotherham United return into league 1 after a 6 year absence. After a rough ride over recent years which saw Rotherham have around 4 managers, a loss in the play off final and ever expectant fans waiting to be re established as a league 1 team, a combination of a move back to Rotherham to the brand new, New York Stadium and the appointment of Steve Evans in 2012 gave the fans some hope that Rotherham could finally be promoted after years of disappointment. 

Steve Evans did what he promised to do in getting Rotherham promoted by finishing second in league 2 after winning the final 5 games of the season. The big question that surrounded Rotherham was to be whether they could cut it at a higher level with a manager who has never managed at this level before and with a host of more established clubs facing Rotherham throughout the season. 

However after the first 5 games of the season, Rotherham remain unbeaten in the league and lie 5th in the playoff places. The pinnacle of the season so far coming from a 2-1 home win against championship local rivals Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, Rotherham are showing that they are no pushovers and prospects are looking promising for the forthcoming season. After being favourited for relegation by a number of bookmakers can Rotherham upset all odds and gain a double promotion like 10 years ago. Stranger things in football have happened and could this be Rotherham's time to get back into the big leagues. 

Rotherham's strongest test is approaching this weekend as they take on Sheffield United who will prove to be a stern test in the fierce local derby. A win for Rotherham would show that they are a force to be reckoned with and the likes of Wolves, Peterborough and Brentford should all be looking over there shoulders as the minnows from Rotherham could cause a big shock this year! 

Read more ...