Friday, 16 August 2013

Players as mercenaries & A jaded SSLJA

It's been somewhat of an odd weekend in some ways but it's been enjoyable in every way. The reason why i'd say its been odd is because from Friday night (August 2nd 2013) to the small hours of Sunday morning on the 4th of August one thing has come into my mind, well 2. The first one is, am I jaded these days & by jaded I mean, has football lost it's magic in terms of the premier league where nothing is really a surprise for me any more? This train of thought was started by catching a bit of the Premier League years in a pub (1996/97 for those interested in the year) with my co-host Da Gman & I asked him the question 'is it me or is football just not the same anymore? In 96/97 & 95/96 (both of which are tied for 1st place in my favourite season's I've watched) I felt an enchantment with football, specifically the premier league and part of that I think was down to the fact that I didn't have sky sports as a youngster (my family didn't get that until April 2001) so I had to rely on Match of the Day as my main source of football and I relied on it religiously and when I got to watch sky sports I took advantage of it, but as me and Gav watched the Premier League years it was like going back in time, remembering the matches and what happened next took me back to a time where all I knew of football was what I saw on TV and what I heard from pundits & read in the Mirror football pullouts & Match magazine.

But now we have the internet, we can watch any games we want whenever we want and any 2 bit jabroni with an opinion on the social networks can add his/her 2 cents to an issue and make wild accusations with no rationale or factual basis and others are moronic enough to believe it or take it seriously which infuriates me. But I digress, my thought is that I have become jaded to the point of being cynical due to the previously mentioned points and I actually can't help it, my mindset is definitely to question everything and try & know anything but to paraphrase the words of Jim Cornette on a 2005 shoot interview with Paul Bearer, 'the more you know about something, the less fun you get out of it because nothing's a surprise any more' and I think those sentiments, are true for me.
The 2nd point I wanted to address relates in part to player loyalty & especially Steven Gerrard's testimonial. After watching that as I went to bed I thought to myself, at my club when Gerrard retires, (Carragher has already hung his boots up) Stevie G will basically be one of very few players in the Premier League, let alone my beloved Liverpool FC who came up/grew up in the 90s and has stayed at 1 club for his whole career and it kind of scares me that it's almost a changing of the guard from loyal soldiers in an army, to basically 'hired guns' who will follow the money instead of their hearts and pledge allegiance to those who pay the most at any given time.

For me, yes the mercenaries issue with players is nothing new but with a lot of players they'll be a 'fly by night/flash in the pan' kind of player who'll pledge allegiance one day, but turn tail and run when times get tough and for me as a fan/supporter I've just found this wholesale shift disturbing. For me, football is about playing where you're happiest, and I'm talking about where you've made friends, where you feel comfortable. Playing for Ibis FC in the Southern Amateur leagues has been a pleasure and maybe getting the captaincy of the 4's side after playing for them for 5/6 years has made me think a bit differently, but I see it as I'll stay at a club for a long time if I feel happy & comfortable. We don't get paid to play at our level, we pay to play & help run the club but I feel that the more I've learnt about the game as a whole, the more jaded I've become & I can't switch that off and just watch a game & not be analyzing it, same with transfer situations/stories, always looking at it cynically & for me the modern game & the modern breeds this cynicism in me.

It'll be a sad day when the last of the loyal soldiers retires from their respective teams, guys such as Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Ryan Giggs etc, these men who have been 1 club players because for me it'll be the last of the loyal footballers, who will be passing torches to people who'll be here today & gone tomorrow.

I'm Straight Shootin' LJA & that's my opinion

Thursday, 18 July 2013

England's disappointing football summer

I feel it's always best to blog when the feelings are raw and fresh but watching all 3 England games in the Women's Euro 2013 made me sit back & think. But hasn't make me rethink my support for Women's football (as i've enjoyed the group stage of the Euros), because in my view, the women's game is still very much in a developmental phase and when you're in that stage you need support rather than chastisement. There will be other tournaments for our Lionesses to thrive at but this tournament showed me that England's lack of quality (especially in depth) knows no gender or age bounds.

Changes are needed at all levels but especially at Under 21's level with Glenn Hoddle's recent comments it seems like all some people want to do is talk rather than commit to actions, and yes that comment is aimed at Glenn Hoddle himself. The more we talk, the more we fall behind and for me actions do speak louder than words and we need to eradicate the greed & short termism that plagues our game and start focusing on the future of our game, forget copying other nations, we need to stamp our own authority onto the game we love and the game we arguably brought to the world. Women's football is getting more exposure and I for one am and will continue to be an advocate of that but development, rather than the pursuit of money needs to be our focus. Women's football needs our support instead of the FA making borderline moronic decisions & hampering the game and on the mens side, from youth all the way up we need to be looking long term, not at the money that can be made, new television deals and clubs raising ticket prices, but how our youngsters are developing. Something is missing from our youngsters and in general from English footballers and most would say it's technique, which in my view it is, but mental prowess is another glaringly obvious attribute our players seem to be missing and the chasm is getting bigger as each year goes by.

St. Georges park is a great idea & concept but as the powerful 'Football's Suicide Secret' documentary hosted by PFA Chairman Clarke Carlisle showed, the mental side is horribly under recognised & under utilised. To me it looks like players are badly advised and used by unscrupulous agents and clubs as money making machines that are to be discarded after they've outlived their usefulness which for me is borderline disgraceful. As a wrestling fan and as I have done on a recent Pitch Talk Live show i'd like to paraphrase Gordon Solie and say 'Football is half physical & half mental' and England are lagging behind the top countries in the world in both areas. Support, development, technique should be the key words & key aims to improve, not money and revenue as every area of the game needs help, Youth, Women and; especially the full Men's squad or the future won't be bright, it will be bleak & teams getting dumped out early is what we'll continue to see.

I'm Straight Shootin' LJA & that's my opinion

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Hillsborough Monday

For some the pain may never subside, but we the football family are on your side,
Hold you heads up with much pride, we the football family put all rivalry aside,
Justice must forever be sought, so that the 96 deaths aren't for naught,
Those who perished will always be cherished,
And their memories will never be diminished,
Every April, the glass is half full, justice is coming so keep being hopeful,
Tears and prayers are shared by family & friends,
This ensures the journey for justice will never end,
Liverpool FC are forever in my heart, Hillsborough will forever be a part of the collective LFC heart,
Honour & dignity is what the families have displayed, masking broken hearts that are still dismayed,
No matter how many games our played, the memories of the 96 will forever remain,
In our minds, our spirit & our souls, as we try to reach the goal,
Of justice for the 96, JUSTICE FOR THE 96!!!

By Liam Angell aka Straight Shootin' LJA