English Football League Predictions

The big kick-off is upon us again and those experts in the know from the world of TV and press have been busy telling us how it all ends, even before it has begun! As usual fixed odds in focus have joined in via their e-zine service Tipped at the Post.

In the Premiership, although Liverpool have spent big, they are not quite there yet and consequently are likely to fall short of Man Utd and Chelsea again. The Blues will be keen to regain their crown, but United still appear to have the edge. Arsenal are perhaps, one season away from being genuine challengers again; however, in Van Persie they do have a player capable giving the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo, Gerrard and Drogba a run for their money, with regards to player of the season. Spurs are getting closer to the big 4, but they are still not close enough and are more likely to be battling for the UEFA spots with Portsmouth, Villa, West Ham and Newcastle.

The likes of Reading, Everton, Sunderland and maybe surprisingly Derby can all make mid-table finishes. Most people will have the Rams as certainties to make an instant return to the Championship, but in Billy Davies they have a talented manager capable of keeping their heads above water. At the bottom Blackburn and Man City can stay out of trouble – just; with the rest in a real battle. Wigan have signed a lot of players, but too many of them have a lot to prove and Middlesbrough – with some un-inspiring signings – could join them in the bottom two. Of the remaining 3 teams, Bolton might struggle to cope post Allardyce and slip out at the death, leaving Birmingham and Fulham breathing huge sighs of relief.

Charlton, with a good manager and plenty of cash, are more than capable of jumping straight back up from the Championship and taking Wolves along with them. Last season will have been a good experience for the black country outfit. Sheff U have an impressive forward line, but defence is a worry and the play-off’s look a more likely option together with Watford, Cardiff and one from Norwich, Coventry and Southampton. West Brom may well suffer a Wembley hang over and just miss out. Mid-table is probably the best Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Palace; with Leicester, Hull and QPR improving on last term, but not significantly. Colchester did remarkably well in their first year up, but are likely to find it a great deal tougher second time around and Preston are likely to suffer from the loss of David Nugent. Bristol City and Blackpool are more than capable of consolidating, but the others look vulnerable. Barnsley can just about survive, likewise Plymouth; leaving Stoke Burnley and Scunthorpe fighting the drop.

In League One, Forest are everybody’s tip for promotion, but they look destined to miss out again. They have brought in Neil Lennon, but it’s a very tough division and you have to wonder about his legs. Tipped at the Post’s two for automatic promotion are Doncaster and Millwall. The Yorkshire club are very ambitious and James Hayter is a cracking signing at that level. The Lions young side finished well and Willie Donachie will have them spot on. Huddersfield, Oldham and Luton are taken to fill the play-off places with Forest; just ahead of Carlisle, Swansea, Yeovil and Southend. Bristol Rovers can have a brighter season than many are suggesting, as can Hartlepool and Walsall, all 3 coming up together. Brighton, Tranmere, Crewe and Port Vale seem set for pretty uninspiring seasons; and Gillingham and Leyton Orient look certain to be bottom half material. Leeds need some luck with their appeal against the 15 point penalty, otherwise they could slip straight through. Swindon can stay up at their expense, but Bournemouth, Northampton and Cheltenham look to have it all on to avoid the drop.

In League Two Paul Ince can get one over Fergie – Darren that is! MKD can just pip Peterborough at the top, with Shrewsbury joining them. Notts County, Darlington and Rotherham are taken to make the play-off’s along with surprise packages Bury. Chesterfield, Bradford and Rochdale should all go close; with Hereford, Wycombe and Mansfield not too far behind. Lincoln have probably missed their chances over the past 5 years and Terry Butcher will not find life easy at Brentford. The two newcomers can hold their own, but the rest might struggle with Chester and Accrington Stanley making way for the return of Torquay and Oxford, who are taken to make their League comebacks.

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Calcio – A History of Corruption and Scandal

Italy, a country associated with fine wine, exquisite cuisine, beautiful women, and above all Calcio. The Italians are very passionate when it comes to the latter, but unfortunately their beloved game has a stark history of corruption, and scandal.

The recent Calciopli scandal that shock the football world in the summer of 2006, is just one incident in a long list of problems which has rocked Italian football (and in particular Serie A) since the English introduced the game to the Peninsula. Too many followers of Calcio, this recent scandal did not come as a shock, and in particular to Italians who have become accustomed to corruption, and scandal within their beloved game.

If you look as far back as 1926-27 (the Torino missing Scudetto incident), you will find that each proceeding decade contained at least one event that was surrounded in corruption or scandal. The majority of Italian fans have grown accustomed to this, and are generally not shocked when a new story hits the headlines. It is as though it has become part of Calcio in the peninsula.

There is a theory in Italy that players, officials (and similar) do not fix matches, but rather twist the concept of match fixing – and this is seen as the norm by everyone involved in Calcio. It is hard to explain what I mean when I state they twist the concept of match fixing, but I will try and explain it with a few examples.

It is not easy to fix a soccer match, as all of the games are public events, played in front of crowds (and sometimes TV cameras); with at least three match officials, twenty-two players, two managers, coaching staff etc. There are various ways of getting around fixing a particular result, and it is kind of a tacit agreement over a result. The lower echelon of Italian soccer is renowned for this kind of agreement, and it is also common place at the end of season in Serie A. So what is this agreement? In essence it is ‘settling for a draw’.

Deliberately settling for a draw where the result ensures some mutual benefit to both parties is common in Italy, and since nothing has officially been agreed, nothing can ever be proved. Various bookmakers are aware of this, and you will generally see very short odds on a 0-0 result, or a straight draw.

An alleged recent example can be seen on the last matchday of the 2006/07 Serie B season, when third placed Genoa entertained second placed Napoli. Napoli just needed a point for automatic promotion, and Genoa would join them if they finished 10 points above fourth placed Piacenza. A goalless draw between the pair followed, and was enough to guarantee them both promotion to Serie A.

Towards the end of the 2004/05 Serie A season, both clubs from Rome were facing a relegation battle. At the start of the derby match, both clubs appeared to try, before several conversations took place on the pitch. The result? Only six shots were managed in the entire match, and the game ended 0-0 (a result which helped both clubs).

Even though the Italians accept this as part and parcel of Calcio, they were on the brunt end of a similar alleged result in Euro 2004. Due to UEFA taking head-to-head into consideration (before overall goal difference when ranking teams level on points), a situation arose in Group C where Sweden and Denmark only needed a high scoring draw in order for them both to progress. The match surprisingly finished 2-2, which was a sufficiently high score line to eliminate the Italians (who had lower-scoring draws with both the Swedes and Danes). It was quite ironic that the Italian fans contended the result, stating that the FIFA tie-breaker should have been used, as it would have stopped the Scandinavians half-heartedly playing out the match after the score became 2-2.

Another example of alleged match fixing can generally be seen (again) on the last matchday of the season. Generally a ‘big club’ (with nothing to play for), is playing a ‘small club’ (fighting a relegation battle), and the ‘small club’ usually get a favourable result (one which they normally would not achieve during the course of the season). Inevitably this leads to accusations of match fixing, but this is usually not the case, and it is another form of twisting the original concept.

So why is this not classed as match fixing? The answer is simple – no one expects the ‘big club’ to try to hard (especially in a match that is meaningless). This is worrying, but followers of Calcio have come to accept this.

On the last matchday in Serie A for the 2006/07 season, Reggina needed a victory to be certain of avoiding relegation, and they faced an AC Milan side guaranteed Champions League football. The result? A 2-0 home win for Reggina which guaranteed their safety.

Same season, but this time the example comes from Serie B. Spezia need a victory to be certain of avoiding relegation, and they faced a daunting away trip to Juventus, who had not lost at home all season (but were already guaranteed promotion). The result? A 3-2 win for Spezia which guaranteed their safety. The theory behind the above examples is simple – why try so hard, especially when you have nothing to play for?

The above examples have all been accepted as part and parcel of Calcio, but in some cases the authorities have clamped down, and punished the various parties involved in the scandal. Some of the most famous scandals have made world headlines in the soccer world, and the first of these dates back to the late 1920s.

The 1927 scudetto was taken away from Torino, after an alleged scandal involving their bitter rivals, Juventus. An enquiry found that Juventus defender, Luigi Allemandi, had been bribed by a Torino official, before the derby (for a sum of 50,000 lire). Torino were stripped of their first title, and surprisingly no one was awarded the 1927 scudetto.

In the summer of 2006, an alleged match fixing scandal hit the headlines, named Moggiopoli, after the Juventus general manager. The scandal was uncovered by the Italian police, implicating league champions Juventus, and other major teams including AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Reggina;when a number of telephone interceptions showed a thick network of relations between team managers and referee organisations. The teams involved in the scandal had been accused of rigging games, by selecting favourable referees. Juvetus were stripped of their scudetto, relegated, and docked points, whilst the other clubs involved had various points deducted.

To the majority of followers of Calcio, this did not come as a major shock, as many fans regard the referee as corrupt (unless proven otherwise). There are various (well known) examples of refereeing decisions which fans class as corrupt, as they decided key matches, or decided a scudetto: Maurizio Turone’s disallowed goal for Roma against Juventus in 1981; Fiorentina’s loss in the 1982 scudetto; Inter and Ronaldo’s lost penalty, against Juventus, in 1998.

There are hundreds of examples of alleged match fixing, throughout the history of Calcio, and there are various scandals which have come to light, which have been uncovered by the authorities. It seems that followers of Calcio have come to accept this over the years, and it is part of the mentality of the nation to accept corruption.

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How To Determine If A Moving Company Is Trustworthy

There are many household and commercial movers in the United States and they all try to lure you with extremely cheap prices, promising high quality services. But not all of them are honest and you can be deceived if you do not know how to choose a competent mover. We want to present you the main factors to consider when looking for reliable moving companies. Check the following guide!

– Experience. For a new company it is hard to pretend that they offer high quality services at lowest price. They do not have the experience and tools to do an effective operation in minimum of time, thus consuming less fuel and working hours that must be paid to the employees by the company. On the opposite, if you find a company that has many years of experience, it likely that they have developed strategies and effective planning and human resource management. Always go with a well-established mover.

– Tools. Again, a high quality company has an arsenal consisting of modern tools and vehicles. They usually talk about these tools on their website, sometimes even presenting them in a photo gallery. Reliable companies like to advertise their brand on their moving vehicles. If you find a company that tells you that it offers the lowest price, but it does not mention a word about their equipment, chances are that it does not have a modern one or it has a few tools. It would be wise to ask about equipment before signing any paper.

– Public Image. Reputable movers want to have a clean public image and they want to make them known through various marketing campaigns. You will know that a company is good if you hear about of them more often than other companies. Usually they can offer cheap prices because they want to be ahead their competitors by providing promotional prices while they promote their image through marketing campaigns.

– Feedbacks. Positive feedbacks are also a good sign for quality results. If you find a company that has affordable prices and has good ratings and testimonials, you should check them closer. Nowadays it is easier than ever to check for ratings and general customer satisfaction. Besides checking the complaint ratio, you can access several websites and see what current and former customers have to say about the company. Naturally, a mover with numerous positive reviews should be your top priority.

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Glasgow Rangers – Fantastic Football Facts!

If you’re a football fan, no doubt you’ll know lots about Glasgow Rangers FC, but I’m sure there’s loads more you don’t know about this Scottish Premier League team! Get to know the Gers better with these footie facts!

Did you know?:

Rangers were first established in 1873 by the Moses brothers, William McBeath, Peter Campbell and Peter McNeil.

Their team name was copied from an English rugby club by the same name after they found it in a book.

The first match Rangers ever played was against Callander FC on Glasgow Green. It was a friendly and no goals were scored by either side.

Their second ever match scored a momentous win, with Rangers beating Clyde (not the current Clyde team) 11-0.

Rangers were one of the first ten teams to join the Scottish Football League in the 1890-91 season. Their first league match was played on 16th August in 1890.

Their stadium is the Ibrox and it has a seating capacity to hold more than 50,000 rowdy football fans.

Rangers won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1972 when they thrashed Dynamo Moscow 3-2.

The most capped played Rangers has managed to turn out was Ally McCoist who collected 57 caps for Scotland.

Ally McCoist was also the highest goal scorer in Rangers’ history, clocking up a spectacular 335 goals.

Glasgow Rangers is not to be confused with Glasgow Celtic, formed in 1888 by Brother Walfrid Kerins who were set up to give something back to Irish immigrants in the community.

The average home attendance at a Rangers match is around 49,000 fans.

Rangers’ team mascot is Broxi Bear, a brown teddy bear with blue ears and nose.

Sir Alex Ferguson played for Glasgow Rangers between 1967 and 1969, where he scored 44 goals.

The Rangers stadium was the location of the Ibrox disaster on 5th April 1902 when the West Tribune Stand collapsed due to heavy rainfall and killed 25 people and injured over 500.

From the 1988-89 season to the 1996-7 season Rangers won the league title every year, with a staggering nine in a row by the end. The team was managed by Graham Souness and Walter Smith.

Rangers’ strip is light blue and white.

The current chairman of Rangers FC Glasgow offices is David Murray.

Famous Rangers supporters include chef Gordon Ramsey, Ultravox star Midge Ure, news presenter Kirsty Young, golfer Colin Montgomerie and actors Kenneth Branagh and Robert Carlyle.

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A Short Biography of Famous Soccer Player – Steven Gerrard

His full name is Steven George Gerrard. He is also called as Stevie G. He was born in Whiston, Merseyside on 30 May 1980. He is a professional soccer player who currently plays for his national team of England and captains for English Premier League club Liverpool. His playing position in the field is as a centre midfielder. But, since in 2007 after the appearance of Torres at Liverpool, Gerrad has been played primarily as a second striker for his club squad, and played as a winger for his national team since 2006.

Gerrard is the current vice-captain of the England national soccer side. Nevertheless, he became a captain for his national at the 2010 World Cup in the nonattendance of Rio Ferdinand who missed the event because of injury.

Gerrard spent his whole career at Anfield. In 1998, he made his first appearance in a competition against Blackburn Rovers. Gerrard made his 100th appearance in European club tournament for Liverpool on 10 March 2009 in opposition to Real Madrid and made two goals in a 4-0 win.

In international level, he made his first appearance in 2000 in opposition to Ukraine. In September 2001, he made his first international goal in the well-known 5-1 victory over Germany in a 2002 World Cup qualifier. Gerrard took part in his first World Cup in 2006, and he was England’s top scorer in the competition.

He has many honors for a professional soccer player. With Liverpool club, he won FA Cup (2000-2001, 2005-2006), League Cup (2000-2001, 2002-2003), FA Community Shield (2001, 2006), UEFA Champions League (2004-2005), UEFA Cup (2000-2001), UEFA Super Cup (2001-2002, 2005-2006).

As an individual player, he won FWA Footballer of the Year (2008-2009), PFA Players’ Player of the Year (2005-2006, PFA Young Player of the Year (2000-2001), PFA Fans’ Player of the Year (2000-2001, 2008-2009), PFA Team of the Year (2003-2004, 2004-2005, 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009), FA Premier League Player of the Month (March 2001, March 2003, December 2004, April 2006, March 2009), UEFA Club Footballer of the Year (2004-2005), UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match (2004-2005), UEFA Team of the Year (2005, 2006, 2007), FIFA/FIFPro World XI (2007, 2008, 2009), FA Cup Final Man of the Match (2005-2006), Goal of the Season (2005-2006), and England Player of the Year (2007). Gerrard has been proposed on many occasions for the FIFA World Player of the Year Award and the Ballon d’Or.

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Football As a Popular Sport

Football, or Soccer, as it is known in many parts of the world is a sport or game that is played between two teams, each containing eleven players. A rectangular field with goal posts at either end into which opposing teams must kick goals into forms the outline of the game. There are a set of rules governing the game, although much has changed in the way the game is played now.

It is easily the world’s most popular sport considering that over 300 million players from over 200 countries around the world are involved in the sport.

The origin or invention of modern-day football throws up interesting and sometimes controversial details. It was largely believed that Britain or England is where the game was first played in the medieval period and it gradually spread throughout Europe. A game involving a ‘party of boys playing a ball’ was first observed in the 19th century in England. However, the Chinese claim that the sport in England is largely drawn from a similar game played in China several centuries earlier. Unlike most other sports of that time, this was played on ‘foot’ and not on horseback, hence the name ‘football’. But there are vast dissimilarities between the two versions.

The rise and popularity of the game cannot be questioned and several hugely prestigious events and tournaments are held throughout the year in various countries. Professional football has seen the rise of several athletes playing the game at the highest levels with huge fan followings for the numerous teams. The English Premier League football season is a highly awaited even and has football lovers thronging stadiums to witness between their favorite teams manned by professional football players from many nations.

‘Soccer’ is the term associated with football in the US and it is claimed to have been coined from the English shortened slang for its formal name, Association Football or ‘assoc’.

Like many other sports and games where vast amounts of money and authority are involved, football has seen its share of infamy and scandals in recent years. The likes of former FIFA President Sepp Blatter and superstar Michel Platini have been accused of corruption and are facing suspensions and total bans. Several aspects like code of conduct, loyalty, conflict of interest and accepting gifts and commissions are part of the charges leveled against the highest ranked officials in the game.

Over the years, the dominance of South American players in the game has slowly been replaced by several European players but the game continues to be extremely popular even as a street sport as it does not require much equipment or infrastructure.

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Indian Premier League – A Sport Or Just Business?

The recently concluded IPL has seen a lot of ups and downs in the past three years of its existence. It has always had some controversy or the other associated to it, be the bidding of players, exclusion of Pakistani players by the owners, slapping of a fielder by another on the field, owners walking out on their team, rumors of love affairs starting off the field, match fixing, people twitting about IPL secrets, so on and so forth… The list is quite big.

Lalit Modi, the brain behind the ever so popular IPL, has been in limelight ever since IPL came into existence until his latest stunts and expulsion as the IPL supremo. As soon as he was shown the door, the new IPL chief Chirayu Amin started changing the very face of IPL and making declarations about what will happen and what will not happen from IPL season 4 onwards.

Whatever said and done IPL has no doubt brought the Twenty-twenty format of this game to the foreground and though an Indian initiative it has managed to get global success and fan-fare. Reasons for IPL being so popular could be any of these, the humongous amount of involvement of money, bidding of cricket players, support from local celebrities and business tycoons, media coverage, non-stop off the field controversies, cheer-leaders, or maybe the game itself.

IPL managed to bring in the sort of fame and name to Lalit Modi that nothing else could have possibly done, he says he has seen many ups and downs in his life and the recent showdown is nothing but a passing phase. But credit must be given to him for all the effort he has put in the past three years to bring IPL to a stage where it currently is. Only this man had the guts to get IPL moved out to South Africa and get all the arrangements done in such a short notice, when players from abroad showed apprehensions about security in India after 26/11. Only this man had the guts to bring business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani & Vijay Mallaya opposite each other fighting to win the bids for cricket players and still support him wholeheartedly when the entire BCCI crowd turned their back on him.

Many hard core cricket fans call IPL a mockery of cricket, a circus, just a mere business where some people are minting money cuz one nation is so crazy about this one game. But you may say whatever; IPL has provided some good cricketing action, mindblowing entertainment to all hardcore fans of cricket in India, where cricket is nothing less than a religion and Sachin Tendulkar a God.

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