City Undone by Lack of Ambition


Tevez, Silva and Balotelli - all possess enormous talent

Manchester City have soared to new Premier League heights this season on the back of an impressive away record that is second only to Manchester United’s. On Saturday however, facing a resilient Villa side, the dour uni-dimensionalism of City’s style was stripped naked to its ugly core.

Roberto Mancini’s structured approach to building a top-four team has made many a dull 90 minutes seem like 180. The Mancini method is as follows: make a strong and disciplined base and decorate with flair and creativity later on. Judging by the evidence of Saturday’s game, he is still a long way from putting the cherry on top. -read on>

Hegemony and Football: Forcing the Celebration upon Mario Balotelli


Robbie Keane Celebrates

With a glint in his eye, Robbie Keane launches himself into a fluid cartwheel-followed-by-forward-roll movement, finished with the customary gun slinging projection to the crowd. Meanwhile, Filippo Inzaghi hurtles with no inclination as to where he is heading, hands sporadic, with his mouth contorted in the image of Munch’s The Scream. Perhaps the crème de le crème though, is the Klinsmann dive – considered de rigueur within celebration etiquette.

What, though, is to be said for the arrogant glare or the refusal to acknowledge anything having happened. Of late, Balotelli has taken to declining the flamboyant nature of the celebration and rebuking the hedonistic divulgences of his piers, favouring a more minimalist approach. In turn, a slight moral panic materialised, the likes of which Britain had not seen since the snood threatened to effeminate the world. -read on>

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>

Has the English Premier League become a ‘Selling Division’?


When Henry left Arsenal in 2007 for Barcelona (at a bargainous £16.5 Million), he stated that ‘Barcelona would be the only club I’d leave Arsenal for’. Or something like that. Christiano Ronaldo said something similar when leaving Man U for Real Madrid (at a ridiculous £80 Million). ‘It’s everyone’s dream to play for Madrid’, he stated to a Spanish paper after a Utd match. These two are the highest profile cases in recent years, but there have been countless transfers away from English clubs to “bigger” European clubs, often for crazy wonga. Namely, Flamini to Milan, Hleb to Barca, Vieira to Juve, Robbie Keane to Inter, McManaman to Madrid, Owen to Madrid, Beckham to Madrid, Graveson to Madrid (no comment), Lassana Diarra to Madrid, and even Mourinho to Madrid (fair enough that was from Inter), let alone Bale to Madrid (Oh sorry, not yet…).

In the last decade to fifteen years, a culture has emerged of English Clubs selling (or being forced to give up) their prize assets to European Heavyweights. Henry and Ronaldo’s statements about Barca and Madrid representing a peak for a footballer’s career, as well as Mourinho’s hype of Madrid, highlighted a weakness in the power of English football. -take a peak>

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