It’s Lucky for Spurs


Tottenham won the FA cup in 1991

For many of us, a new year brings with it the promise of new beginnings. Fresh challenges are there to be overcome. Old habits are consigned to the receding memory of the year that has gone as we try to re-mould and re-shape our personalities and foibles in the hope that the coming year will make us better people in some capacity. It just so happens that this particular year ends in a ‘one’. Fans of Tottenham Hotspur are particularly well-versed in the significance of that number and over the coming months, commentators and pundits will take every available opportunity to remind us all that whenever the year ends in a one, ‘it’s lucky for Spurs’. Watch out everybody, I can
already hear the conversation taking place as Chas gives Dave a ring and says “Let’s get the band back together, for old time’s sake”.

Here’s a quick history lesson. Pay attention. By May, you’ll know this off by heart. During the twentieth century, years
ending in the number one garnered two League Championships, five FA Cups and one League Cup for the north London club. Not only that but they also produced moments in the club’s folklore which have become mythological in their re-telling over the years: the only non-league side ever to win the FA Cup in 1901, the first club in the twentieth century to achieve the League and Cup Double in 1961, Ricky Villa’s stupendously outrageous dribble in the 1981 Cup Final and in 1991, Gazza, simply Gazza. -read on>

Rafael Van Der Vaart: the Big Fish Little Pond Effect


 

Rafael Van der Vaart and the Big Fish Little Pond Effect - Image Courtesy of Gregory Rodriguez Bott

We are working with These Are Utopias Who Never Happen to bring you a brand new Illustrations section to upper90magazine. If you are interested in having your artwork published by us please email us at upper90magazine@googlemail.com

Follow upper90magazine on Facebook or Twitter -read article aswell>

Window of Opportunity


Arshavin signed for Arsenal in the January transfer window in 2009

Sky Sports News doesn’t like to admit it, but often the January Transfer Window turns out to be a bit of a damp squib. Whilst there have been some notable signings such as Arshavin, Vidic and the loan of Mascherano, ultimately it can be disappointingly quiet. Teams prefer stability, and many don’t wish to lose key players halfway through a season. This in turn creates an inflated market for potential buyers. However, the top half of the Premier League appears to have more pretenders and contenders than expected this season.

After a disrupted winter schedule there are definitely four, possibly five, teams still with ambitions to fight for the title. Below them though are still a number of teams, including a couple of surprise packages amongst some underachievers, which still feel that they can push into the European places. With the league so close and the outcomes of this season still so uncertain, could the hype be justified as managers look to spend to try and gain every possible advantage and climb the table? The radio, papers and internet sites are already full of rumours. So what can we expect? -read on>

Wally with the Brolly


Wolfsburg taunt McLaren, the Wally with the Brolly

It’s the time of year that underperforming managers dread…Christmas. By now you have had your chance to prove what you can do and if it’s not working out the vultures will start circling. In recent weeks we have seen Chris Hughton, Sam Allardyce and Rafa Benitez (read Benitez joins the Italian Job…less) all lose their jobs and it looks like Steve McLaren’s time as manager of VFL Wolfsburg is hanging by a thread! -read on>

Qatar 2022: Winter wonderland or summer scorcher?


Sepp Blatter 'sheiks' hands with Qatar Qatar Football Association president Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed al-Thani

In 2022 the world will be watching with baited breath as Qatar try to host the world’s biggest event, the World Cup.  The Qatar bid has been a controversial one ever since it was announced it would host the competition by FIFA president Sepp Blatter in November.

Out of the nine World Cup bids aiming to win either the 2018 or the 2022 event, only Qatar’s bid was deemed “high risk” by FIFA officials, who evaluated all the bids.  Despite their own representatives coming to this conclusion, the FIFA voters didn’t listen, and Qatar was awarded the competition, beating the USA in the 4th round by 14 votes to 8, and FIFA citing the reason of “trying to expand the game around the World” as to why they come to this decision. read on

FC Copenhagen: A European Adventure


FC Copenhagen starting line up at the Nou Camp

For many this season FC Copenhagen were an unknown quantity, most observers from outside of Denmark knew little about them or how they would fair. The majority of the football world having seen their Champions League group would have expected them to at best make it only to the Europa League. A group containing Barcelona, Rubin Kazan (Russian champions) and Panathinaikos (Greek champions), looked a hard one for Copenhagen to get out of. Copenhagen have no great stars unlike the other three teams, they have a fairly small transfer budget and have never previously got past the group-stages. -read on>

Benitez joins the Italian Job…less


Benitez waving goodbye

After just 6 months into his managerial role Rafael Benitez has been sacked by his club Inter Milan. This comes after days of speculation from the media regarding Benitez’s position.  On Monday morning many of the tabloid papers in Italy printed headlines saying that the Spaniard had been sacked, and it was only when Benitez spoke with a Spanish radio station saying, “I have not been fired” that the situation was cleared up, well sort of. It looks like this was only delaying the inevitable, with his departure expected to be officially announced within the next 48 hours.

It seems very strange to me that any manager should have to deny that his Club has sacked him. But that is exactly the circumstances Rafael Benitez found himself in on Monday concerning his position at Inter Milan. When Inter President Massimo Morrati was asked about Benitez’s future he refused to comment, which can’t have filled the manager with much confidence. I thought that it would have been fairly simple for Morrati to say he has, or he hasn’t fired Benitez. It is this ambiguous reaction from the President of Inter that clearly showed there was trouble at’ mill. -read on>

David Beckham – The Legacy


A teary eyed man stands in front of a 12,000 strong audience receiving a 2 minute standing ovation after receiving a lifetime achievement award for his sport. A man who is greatly admired and idolised, a man who has been at the top of his profession for some time. That man is David Beckham.

Some may be thinking how can a man of just 35 years be given a lifetime achievement award? The award previously has been given to the likes of Pele, Mohammed Ali and Sir Bobby Robson, people who have spent their whole lives in their chosen sport and taking that sport forward in many ways. How can a man of so few years in comparison be standing alongside them? Well I believe it is down to what people can see in the future. The foundations are already set but David, in the future, can change the face of football and sport as a whole. -read on>

Identity Theft


Arsenal moved from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium

A sign of the ever-increasing financial pressure upon the modern game is the fact that many of England’s biggest clubs are in the process of arranging moves away from the sites they have called home for many generations. This isn’t new, in the last decade Manchester City moved away from Maine Road, their home of eighty years, and Arsenal departed Highbury, which had hosted the club since 1913. Arsenal were easily filling their relatively small capacity of 38,419 and were therefore operating with a huge financial disadvantage to their main competitor Manchester United who were hosted at the significantly larger Old Trafford. They took the opportunity to move out of Highbury to the Emirates which itself has been a financial success. But to what extent has it affected the identity and soul of the club? Surely there must be a negative side effect of leaving the home that for them had been the setting of countless triumphs? With Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, Everton and Liverpool all planning on leaving their stadia for larger and more modern versions, fans will naturally be wary of the transition. All avenues should be pursued to ascertain what could be done to increase capacity whilst retaining the heart and soul of the club. Whilst for the business money and successes are key, the issue is a vital illustration of how for real fans nothing can replace the characteristics and traditions of the club that make it theirs. -read on>

The Champions League last 16


Messi and Fabregas

The Champions League is the biggest club competition in the World. If given the choice, many Managers and owners of the big European sides will often prefer to succeed in the Champions League as opposed to winning their respective league. In the past English teams have been a dominant force, but over the last couple of years they’ve taken a backseat, with no English team making the semi-final last year.

This years’ Champions League has past the group stage, with all four English teams qualifying from their group. Yesterdays 1st knockout round draw has set up a lot of interesting ties, with the biggest being between favourites Barcelona and 2006 runners-up Arsenal, who have paid the price for finishing second in their group.

The two sides met last year at the Quarter-Finals stage, with Arsenal managing to gain a creditable draw at the Emirates after being 2-0 down and outplayed for much of the 90 minutes. The second leg at the Camp Nou was a footballing masterclass however, with Barca cutting Arsenals backline open at will and Messi scoring all four goals to give his side a 6-3 aggregate win. -read on>

Umbrellas for Goal Post


This is England

Big Sam is renowned for taking a dogged approach to the game, his style often described as ‘dirty’ or ‘hit and run’. So would it surprise you that I would call Sam Allardyce innovative? Allardyce has had more ideas than Stuart Baggs, remember when the FA decided to change the offside rule so that you have to effect play to be offside….so Sam put two players on the line from a free kick. And what about his training techniques…according to Michael Owen, he had his Newcastle squad on morning bike rides and pilate’s (quite a contrast from the usual football training regime’s).

Despite being sacked from Blackburn in the week, Big Sam didn’t go down without leaving one of his latest ideas with us…’Youth Football should be played in the Summer!’

Well should it? -read on>

Roy Hodgson: How to Lose Games and Alienate People


Roy Hodgson after signing for Liverpool

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Liverpool Football Club doesn’t sack managers. Well not very often anyway. The fans at Anfield are normally pretty loyal and it is because of this loyalty that the current climate surrounding the club feels so peculiar. There is an uncomfortable atmosphere surrounding all things Liverpool this Christmas. Even in the darkest days of the post-operation Houllier reign, fans never universally called for his head. After two dire seasons it was clear his time was up and it was obvious that the club had stopped progressing and instead was heading painfully backwards. It still wasn’t nice seeing him go. Even last season, whilst there was a share of Andy Gray worshipers venting their anger on 606, there was a considerable section of the fan base still 100% behind Rafa Benitez. These managers had their places in Liverpool fans’ hearts and minds and when they parted, it was with a sense of regret. However, when Roy Hodgson clears his desk at Melwood there won’t be that feeling. It is sad to admit it, but we all liked Roy more when he wasn’t our manager.

There’s something about Roy that seems to suggest he doesn’t quite get Liverpool football club. -read on>

Blatter And The Money Making Factory!


Sepp Blatter Silences the Football World

Sepp Blatter the Swiss born FIFA president has been in the eye of the media for several weeks. The weeks approaching the important World Cup meetings where it would be announced where the next two tournaments would take place where filled with positivity and great hope for the World Cup to return to its routes and Sepp Blatter was one of many councils who hinted at its return over competitors such as Russia and Spain-Portugal. Therfore as usual our media jumped on the bandwagon and played on these hints and rumors of a return which in my opinion where right to do so. However the media was first to hit out at the FIFA organization when the shock selection of Russia was pulled out of the envelope which would shatter David Beckham and co.’s hopes. I for one am not the greatest FIFA fan although whilst the debating was taking place I choose to take a seat at the back of the raging football fanatics. However I think the time has come for me to hit out at such critics! -read on>

A Tale of Two Cities


Steve Coppell and Keith Millen

Bristol City could argue that they had one of the worst starts in the Football League this season, after just two matches, both losses, new manager Steve Coppell had resigned with immediate effect; not only this but he had also left behind a disjointed team with an impressive injury list, which included many of the signings he had made. Many fans felt angered and betrayed by Coppell’s sudden departure, especially since so many of them had put their faith in him. Keith Millen, who was caretaker manager for the later part of the 09/10 season, was announced as the new manager on three-year deal soon after Coppell’s had left.

Keith Millen had an impressive record while being assistant manager at City since 2004, he also had been successful in his various roles as caretaker manger at the club over the years. But many fans understandably were worried about his lack of experience as an out and out manager. These worries continued as City only managed to win two out of their first 10 league games, something that was not helped by the numerous injury problems at the club. Notably that of last seasons top goal scorer Nicky Maynard, who is still yet to make an appearance this season. -read on>

Car‘lost’ Tevez: Why are the Premier League’s best players looking to leave?


Tevez welcome's you to Manchester-sourced from http://www.footy-boots.com

What a picture… the image that rubs salt in to the wounds of bitter rivals Manchester United…Carlos Tevez is a blue, ‘Welcome to Manchester’.

How United fans will smile at that billboard picture now… just a season and a half later and Tevez looks like he is ready to turn his back on the blue side of Manchester. Despite City claiming Tevez will not be leaving Eastlands, Tevez has claimed he will quit if he isn’t allowed to leave.

In days gone by hearing the news that the best player of one of the top Premier League clubs wants to leave, would have been shocking news. But not now, not in 2010! Tevez’s desire to leave City just reiterates the thoughts of other top players in the Premier League. He joins a long list of players who have sounded their unhappiness at England’s top clubs; Fabregas, Rooney, Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Mascherano. -read on>

Love is in the air… Lucas Leiva…


Lucas Leiva..Liverpools unsung hero

It’s the ninetieth minute of the derby. The club’s legendary captain and best player has already been hauled off in a brave but controversial decision to hand a league debut to a young, 20 year old midfielder. However, in the last minute the young lad pounces and secures a late, great, famous victory for his side against their biggest rivals. As you can imagine the lad becomes an instant hero and would go on to great things naturally being a fan favourite from the off and remaining one for years to come. Roy of the Rovers stuff, eh? read on

Man United v Arsenal: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


Giggs celebrates his 'wonder goal' vs Arsenal in 1999 - sourced from http://img.dailymail.co.uk

Arsenal are back on top of the Premier league, the place their fans will hope they will be come the end of the season. With Manchester United in second the match between the two on Monday, has been described as the most highly anticipated encounter between the two in recent years!

In previous seasons, the winners of the clash have often gone on to win the title, so what is it that we have seen in previous meetings that will re-appear in Monday’s clash?

Well one thing is for sure, when the two meet there is always; the good, the bad and the ugly. Just look at the pre match build up to Monday’s game, there has been Ferguson calling on United fans to get off Wenger’s back (the good),  Evra’s random outburst claiming ‘Arsenal won’t win the league’ (the bad) and the on-going who will/ who won’t be wearing a snood (the ugly). -read on>

Will FIFA Change Because of the English Reaction?


Sepp Blatter announces Russia to host the 2018 World Cup - http://images.planetf1.com

After a disastrous World Cup this year English football fans looked forward to the possibility of ending 2010 on a high note by winning the right to host the World Cup in 2018. This however was not to be the case, England lost out to Russia after going out in the first round only managing to gain two votes, one of which being from our own English representative Geoff Thompson. Another surprise was that the ‘great’ footballing nation of Qatar would be hosts for the 2022 World Cup.

Many fans, myself included, thought that England was almost guaranteed the privilege to host the World Cup when it was announced we would be putting a bid in. So last weeks announcement came as a huge shock, not only that but it has also angered and bewildered many people. This has been brought about by the way FIFA seems to have conducted the bidding process. The British media recently exposed elements of corruption and bribery within FIFA, most notably coming from investigations conducted by the Sunday Times and BBC’s Panorama. -read on>

What has happened to Chelsea?


 

John Terry - sourced from http://i.telegraph.co.uk

What is the form of Champions? Scintillating football without losing a game? well only one team has ever done that in the Premier League, but most champions hit that ‘bad patch’, the part of the season where wins are a distant memory! If Chelsea are to be the 2010/2011 Premier League champions then November/December will certainly be remembered as their ‘bad patch’! Read more of this post

Newcastle and the Managerial Circus


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With Newcastle United sitting nicely in mid table after 16 games, now ex-manager Chris Hughton might have thought “I’ve done a good job here” after big wins against Aston villa and Sunderland as well as decent results against Chelsea and Arsenal. But owner Mike Ashley had seemingly different ideas.

Two seasons ago the unthinkable happened for Newcastle; they were relegated. After a long hard season with former club heroes and ex-managers trying to keep them afloat, a final day 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa saw the Toon Army relegated for the first time in 16 years. But had the writing been on the wall for a while?

During the five year reign of Sir Bobby Robson, between 1999 and 2004, Newcastle finally started to fulfil their potential. A Premier League high finish of third seemed to finally start paying back the fans of the club who had been so famously loyal. But at the start of the 2004-2005 season, the Magpies had a couple of poor results and the club legend and fans favourite was forced out in just August of that season. All of this after taking Newcastle to the Champions league and F.A. Cup final. This was surely the beginning of Newcastle’s downfall.  

-read on>

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