From the Press box

Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

Archive for February 2010

The Good and the Bad for Ryan Shawcross

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Ryan Shawcross has been news for the right and wrong reasons today.

Following the horror injury on Aaron Ramsey, the England 24 man squad was announced with the inclusion of Shawcross.

Obviously all of football wishes Aaron Ramsey well, and in the case of Eduardo, it will be a great day when we see Ramsey back playing on the pitch. In the mean time however, there is more than a good chance of a media onslaught against Shawcross.

The injury has eerily echoed the injury suffered by Eduardo after a mis-timed challenge from Martin Taylor. Following the match, Arsene Wenger called for Taylor to be banned from football, which he later retracted, and the press both in this country and abroad stuck the boot into Taylor through the written work. The extremes of this lead to Taylor receiving death threats and his family feeling threatened.

In the modern game, we expect there to be a level of contact which keeps the game exciting and is part of the reason why we have, arguably, the best top league in the world. Following serious injuries to players such as Eduardo and Ramsey, it’s easy to call for less contact and less physical presence on the field.

Nobody is saying that we want bad injuries to happen, far from it. None the less, in a game which has a direct level of physical contact, there should always be an expectation for injuries, big and small.

Ryan Shawcross didn’t go out to injure the player, far from it. His reaction of sobbing as he walked off the pitch said enough as to how he felt about the whole affair, and an England call up isn’t going to stop him feeling terrible about what has happened today, and will definitely shake his game over the next few weeks.

At 22 he is one of the countries best young defenders. An assault from the media is not going to change what has happened on the pitch, and it was quite plain to see Shawcross’ reaction to the incident. We’ll discover more on the condition of Ramsey over the next few days, but the best that Shawcross can do is apologise to Ramsey and hold his head up and ride the media storm.

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Written by Nicole Carroll

February 27, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Someone speaking sense about Bridgegate

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Someone finally talks some sense about the whole Terry/Bridge saga which overshadowed Manchester City’s massive win over Chelsea today

Sometimes funny things happen in football. Todays unbelieveable notion of the day is Craig Bellamy talking sense. Barmy. It’s a funny old game!

Written by Nicole Carroll

February 27, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Chester City: Relegated to Football History

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It seems like all the latest posts on From the Press box lately have surrounded football finances, but with this being a key issue which is almost eating away at the game, there seems to be more to come.

Today’s biggest casualty are Chester, who today were thrown out of the Football Conference, and are facing a winding up order on March 10th over an unpaid tax bill of £26,125.

Although Portsmouth’s administration was the big news of the day due to it never happening in Premier League history, Chester’s story is almost more news worthy for the depths they have plunged to.

This is a club who have failed to fulfil their fixtures, such as the Forest Green match where players refused to get onto the coach because they’d gone unpaid, or against local rivals Wrexham where the police refused to perform their duties at the Deva stadium due to an outstanding bill.

Although this story hasn’t been given the air time of fellow strugglers Portsmouth, they do have something in common: a problem in getting any real investment.

Portsmouth this season have had four owners this season, but they have failed to fund the club sufficiently to try and steer them away from relegation. Chester themselves have been put up for sale for the princely sum of £1, and have failed to attract any interest of a hero to take up their cause.

What is interesting though, is the fact that Chester is possibly one of the most affluent areas in the country, yet there is still nobody willing to take a gamble on what is essentially a very small local club. The local area is inhabited by famous footballers and their wives, yet no one wants a slice in the small club who seem to be in more trouble than they are worth.

The future for Chester City Football club and its fans looks incredibly bleak. With their results now expunged from the league, and all first team fixtures cancelled, there is no way for Chester to bring in a regular income to try and pay back the money owed. It’s looking increasingly likely that Chester’s lasting legacy will be in a history book of clubs that once were.

Written by Nicole Carroll

February 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

Match of the Day

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The one to watch today has to be Bolton vs. Wolves.

Is it the most attractive match of all time? Far from it. What it is, however, is a tasty 6 pointer between two of the leagues strugglers. A win for either team doesn’t change a massive amount at the bottom of the table, but a draw between the pair will be a killer blow in the race to climb out of the relegation black hole.

Written by Nicole Carroll

February 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

Financial shoots of growth?

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On the day where Portsmouth are expected to go into administration, it is not doom and gloom for all the Premier League clubs.

Arsenal have posted numbers today that show that they have made a pre-tax profit of £35.2 million, and have reduced their net debt by a whopping £129.2m, down from £332.8m to £203.6m.

Although Arsenal have sold big name players during this time, such as Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure to Manchester City, for a combined fee of around £29 million, the side also signed Ajax’s Thomas Vermaelen for £10m.

Although one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs seem to be gaining a grip on their debts, another club have been hit by a winding up order.

League two side Bournemouth have been given the order over a £314,000 unpaid tax bill, and they have been given until March 31st to pay this.

Although Bournemouth claim they have £100,000 to pay immediately, it leaves them four weeks to raise the outstanding £214,000.

Bournemouth have been struggling financially for around a year now, and have survived going into administration once in 2008.

Written by Nicole Carroll

February 26, 2010 at 11:00 am

Bruce’s Battle

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“Everyone’s behind the manager” came the rallying cry from Lee Cattermole when talking about Steve Bruce’s job at Sunderland.

When any team is failing to win for any period of time, all eyes turn to the manager to try and steady the ship. 13 games have passed since Sunderland last registered a win, and Steve Bruce will see their position of 14th, but only 3 points above the relegation zone, as precarious.

Although the bottom of the league is looking incredibly tight, one more loss for Sunderland will leave them increasingly vulnerable, and staring atleast a season in the Championship square in the face.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Bruce has tasted relegation, after relegation with Birmingham after four seasons in the Premier League. He did however seem to have the answers when he got them promotion at the first time of asking with promotion in 2006.

It seems as if history is repeating itself though. With a struggling team and a slide down the Premier League, everyone at Tyneside is looking towards Bruce to inspire these players to drag them out of the relegation struggle and to lead them to a comfortable mid table finish.

Looking at their squad, you would not immediately believe them to be relegation contenders. Players of the calibre of Darren Bent do not scream relegation fodder. With the league as tight as it is though, especially at the bottom, it doesn’t matter who your players are when you are trying to desperately grind out results and keep one foot out of the championship.

This weekend Sunderland face Fulham this weekend. Fulham beat Birmingham last weekend, and are on an outside push for a European place once again this season. The test of Sunderland will be in their next 3 matches, Fulham at home, Villa away and then Bolton and home. Fulham and Villa are gunning for all the points they can, but a win against either of them would boost Sunderland’s morale and push them for a top half finish. A loss against these two teams would leave Sunderland under massive pressure to beat fellow strugglers Bolton, and whenever there is greater pressure placed on a match, there always seems more of a likely hood to lose.

Bruce has 3 weekends to decide Sunderland’s season. Pick up four points and I’d assume they’d probably be ok and looking at another season in the Premier League. If not, they’ll be swapping places with their fierce rivals Newcastle, and looking at battling in any ever increasingly competitive Championship.

Written by Nicole Carroll

February 26, 2010 at 12:54 am

How to solve the problem of a left back

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Following Wayne Bridge’s withdrawal from England selection, and the injury of first choice Ashley Cole, Capello is going to need to think long and hard about who he takes in his squad to South Africa this summer.

Ashley Cole is currently looking at a 3 month lay off, leaving him potentially unfit for when England face their first opponents on June 12th. Capello needs options in his squad for this eventuality, and there are a few players who could fit into this mould.

Evertons Leighton Baines has already been tipped for an England call up at some point. David Moyes has called him one of Everton’s “most consistent performers”. Although not the quickest player on the park, Baines is reliable, and his ability on freekicks and penalties gives him a reasonable shout for a call up.

Ex-Everton player Joleon Lescott, who is currently at Manchester City, has had a difficult season and is returning from his own injury woes. Although he usually plays in the centre back position, he has been picked for England before and could be used as emergency back up.

Other contenders include Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock. This former Blackburn player is currently coming back from an injury, but has been previously selected for England in the 2008 friendly against Trinidad and Tobago. He’s less creative than Cole and his style of football may not suit against the continental styles on display at the World Cup.

Aston Villa also have the multi-talented James Milner, who is more adept playing the attacking role, but could also do a job in the full back role.

Another option is to play someone out of position. Gareth Barry is regarded as a regular in the England squad, but finds it difficult to disloge the preferred partnership of Gerrard and Lampard. Barry has played at left back before, but the main worry here would be whether it would be worth risking playing someone out of position at such a major tournament, and leave them to be exposed by some of the World’s best forwards.

If anything, looking at these options gives the impression that Capello has two options. He either brings in an option who is relatively untested in the England squad, such as Leighton Baines or Stephen Warnock, and hope they can handle the pressure of the tournament. Otherwise, Capello is looking at using somebody he already knows the merits of, but placing them in out of position could be a huge gamble that England are unwilling to take.

Written by Nicole Carroll

February 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm