Manchester City

Dear Jurgen, a letter from The Sports Buff

Dear Jurgen,

Hi, you don’t know me but we need to talk. My name is Ayyaz Malik, Aka The Sports Buff. I am a sports writer and talk about sport too (for those who are kind enough to listen). As a Man United fan, it’s hard to say this, but congratulations on becoming Premier League champions.

Four and a half years ago, many of us United fans were no doubt jealous you chose Anfield over Old Trafford.

Purely from a sporting point of view, the move seems to be justified.

A Club World Cup, Super Cup, Champions League and now Premier League trophy shows you’re a great manager.

You might look like you should have been in the Bee Gees, but football fans make no mistake about it you have achieved greatness.

One of the best teams in the Premier League era, Manchester City were conquered this year with ease.

This is the English Premier League, you will say but the records your Liverpool team have broken speaks volumes in itself.

This isn’t me just being a bitter Manchester United fan here, but I express caution. Look at my team Manchester United.

Their manager from 1986-2013 was Sir Alex Ferguson, arguably one of the greatest, if not greatest club managers in the British game.

Sir Alex was a master of building teams for four, maybe five seasons and then making subtle delicate changes to it.

Jurgen please look at the example of Fergie. If you think this is blatant appraisal of the former United manager, that’s not the case.

Ferguson was the master of being steps ahead of his rivals when his United teams would be crowned champions.

Sir Alex Ferguson, would always be on the prowl for talent that could help better his team for many seasons to come and not just for the short term.

That changed in what would be now known as the last season of his reign.

Where players for the now and future were bought, Robin Van Persie a 29-year old from Arsenal who was in the peak of his years was signed in Sir Alex’s last season, which proved to be a title-winning one.

It was a testament to Ferguson, that he was able to win the League with a squad that was really past its sell-by date in his final year before retiring.

To prove the point I am trying to make, the following season The Red Devils needed two managers to finish the season, and they finished in seventh!

That was seven years ago, and it’s only now that Manchester United are looking in a respectable position of rebuilding.

It took Liverpool 30 years and over £1 billion spent in players transfers, you have done the hard work, as a football fan be smart and invest in playing talent.

Your Liverpool team isn’t getting younger. Jurgen, please don’t make the mistakes that Manchester United did.

If you do, it will be a long wait for title number 20, I don’t think Liverpool fans will have the same patience as they did this time.

Yours sincerely

The sports buff

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Thank you

No More years of hurt for Liverpool, praise the Lord!

Being a football fan of England and certain English clubs can be painful. Three Lions on a shirt song, being an Arsenal fan (not talking about myself here) – I think you can see where I am going with this.

With England, we the fans and mainly the “experts”, would bring England up and then knock them down. In recent years, thankfully the powers that be at the top of the game, have been more humble and started from scratch.

A centre of excellence was built and talent was brought through this centre of excellence in Burton. As a result of this, England’s under 17’s and 19’s tasted success on the global stage.

It seemed that process was that stringent of finding young talent, that scouts would be watching kids in the parks almost, when kids go for a kick around.

Watching kids playing in the park is usually a sign for the alarm bells to ring, but if this did happen, thankfully there would be some players who would become young stars for their country.

As a result of that England, in turn, got to the semi-finals of a world cup for the first time since 1990.

They even won a penalty shoot-out in the last world cup, waa hay! O how I cried in France 98 when David Batty missed his spot-kick on that fateful night in St Etienne against Argentina  , thus giving more penalty shootout heartache.

Arsenal, sadly for their fans are still making their team suffer mentally and emotionally. You know Gunners fans, you can stop at this stop and support another team, just think about your mental health, please!

After 16 seasons regularly featuring in the top four and having a monopoly on the FA Cup for a five year period towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign, it’s got even worse for Arsenal.

A top-half finish looks an achievement at this rate, thought the George Graham days and Bruce Rioch era was a thing of the past? Obviously not.

Another club that likes to make their fans suffer has been Liverpool. Now, this might be harsh on the face of it, considering that Liverpool have won the Champions League twice in the last 15 seasons along with the Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup.

Everyone knows what the Merseyside club wanted though, and that’s the Premier League trophy. There’s been many near misses.

A “fact rant” by Rafa Benitez who no longer manages in England (fact).

There was a time where Liverpool games replaced bedtime stories. I am convinced this must be true they were that boring.

The Reds in that era under Gerrard Houllier, would without fail, make my brother sleepy whenever he saw them on the TV.

They were dark times, but then Liverpool changed tact and hired an Irish coach who’s team’s played football so joyful to watch on the eye.

Brendan Rodgers was his name, his teams to play attractive football was his game.

With Steven Gerrard as commander and chief on the pitch, along with forwards Louis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, the then 18-time champions of England Liverpool came within a whisker of winning the title.

You could say, they missed out by the skin of their teeth, sorry Louis that might not have been funny … please don’t bite me! The title seemed in Liverpool’s grasp, but then they would slip up .. watch your self Steve (caution wet floor!)

Mockery was a plenty of that slip, Uruguayan Suarez’s eating habits and Daniel Sturridge’s injury record. A true story, I did see Daniel whilst I was walking – I saw him walking his got.

I must say I have never been so nervous seeing someone walk a dog, as I was convinced he would get injured, such was his injury record at one stage.

Putting the mockery to one side, Liverpool replaced Rodgers with German coach Jurgen Klopp. Former Dortmund manager Klopp had won the Bundesliga twice with Ballspielverein.

Liverpool were hoping the former Mainz manager could help bring what was becoming the increasingly elusive first Premier League trophy.

Careful planning ensued and a loss to Sevilla in the Europa League final and Real Madrid in the Champions League final, were painful but only demonstrated the progress the German manager Klopp was making with The Reds.

Further heartbreak would further occur, this time domestically in the Premier League. Jurgen’s Liverpool last year would painfully lose the Premier League by one point. This was made all the more painful, considering The Anfield side had only lost one game and accumulated 91 points!

This season, Liverpool seemed in no mood to mess around. The 3-1 win against Manchester City, was a signal of their intent. The Citizens who fought back last year to win the title from Liverpool’s grasp, by their high standards were poor this year.

Defeats to Manchester United (twice), Norwich and Wolves twice only emphasizes my point. Liverpool it is then who are Premier League champions after 30 years. Congrats to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool for their title win

Woolworths, Blockbuster, BHS and petrol for under £1 were the things of those days. A lot has changed since then, (as none of those now remain).

Football can breathe a sigh of relief, we don’t have to hear “this is our year”. Thankfully one of those years has been their year. Now here’s to hoping England win the world cup, so we don’t have to keep hearing “we won it 66”.

If you want to help support project bearded captain/ the sports buff and help me grow, visit the following link;

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After 100 days, the Premier League is back!

Football, after 100 days off our TV screens has returned!

After courageously serving our nation’s health workers, bosses at McDonalds decided to close their stores across the globe as England and the rest of the world embarked in unchartered territory (the corona virus Covid 19)

After going into lockdown, England has slowly but surely ground to a halt. The nations favourite high street shops closed for an indefinite period, and so did famous restaurant chains such as McDonalds and Nando’s (that’s cheeky Nando’s).

One should work from home, unless they can’t was the order of the day from the powers the be at 10 Downing street. Everything that is well loved, cherished was getting taken away from us (all be it temporarily, but for how long?)

Gyms are closed till 4th July , hairdressers are still closed but McDonalds and other fast food chains slowly make the steps to open fully and return back to normal. But what about the beautiful game from our TV screens?

BBC, did try to compensate the loss by showing some old classic games, but how many times can I see Euro 96 re-runs and more depressingly Colin Hendry’s barnet?

TV fans, some of them were deprived of shows like love Island, so were hoping for some form of boost to the TV listings.

After 100 days, several meetings and several Coronavirus tests to ensure all are healthy – the Premier League is back on our screens! Waa hay! In even more good news, there will be many games on BBC, Pick TV and Sky Sports who will be showing free games too.

This evening there were two games, with surprise package Sheffield United taking on Aston Villa, who seem doomed for relegation. In a game that was understandably not the best (due the player’s time off), there was still some drama.

Before the season being brought to a halt, VAR was the hot topic of conversation in most games, this game has also suffered the same fate. The Aston Villa goalkeeper appeared to fumble the ball into his own net.

Thankfully for The Villains, with the officials being of similar quality to the one’s used at the 1966 World Cup final, Dean Smith’s men have potentially picked up a very valuable point in their quest to beat the drop.

In the other game, on paper it promised to be a good one. Former Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta went back to former employers Man City as manager of Arsenal.

This fixture in recent games gone by between the sides has usually been a foregone conclusion with City trouncing Arsenal .

Sorry Gunners fans, there would be no surprise here as Raheem Sterling, a Kevin DeBruyne penalty and a Phil Foden strike at the stroke of full-time, would ensure City got their restarted season off to a winning start.

3-0 it would finish to The Citizens Manchester City.

The win for City meant that Liverpool can’t win the Premier League title at bitter rivals Everton, when the two face off on Sunday.

In what was an already tough task for the North Londoners, the sending off of David “side show Bob” Luiz, made a tough task to near impossible. With defending that arguably did replicate the Simpsons character, maybe the Brazilian’s days at The Emirates are numbered.

Talking of the Simpson’s if you believe in the Simpsons theories, maybe they saw this coming from many years ago, like they did with everything else. That brings an end to our round up of today’s matches.

Entertaining matches, these might not have been but come on, you have watched all the box sets on Netflix … It’s time to allow the real entertaining TV back into your lives.

What ever football serves up, you know it will always be better than watching love Island!

The Sports Buff sports round up: Manchester City face two year ban

By Ayyaz Malik (The Sports Buff)

Football 

Premier League champions Manchester City, have sensationally been banned from European football for two seasons, after being found guilty of breaching financial fair play. The Citizens, who have also been handed a £30 million fine on top, join top clubs such as Paris Saint Germain (fined £30 million) and AC Milan (banned for one season) in being punished for similar breaches.

In the case of Italian giants Milan, they are serving their ban this season, but with the former six-time Champions League winners, enduring a difficult season domestically, it appears like that AC Milan, will be absent from European football for two years at least.

Manchester City, have been given 10 days by the footballing governing bodies to appeal, if not the ban will stand. This landmark decision will send shock waves across the game, and serve as a warning to other teams like recent big spending Barcelona, to name just some clubs.

On the pitch, City’s rivals Liverpool continued their relentless pursuit of this year’s Premier League with yet another win, this time against relegation-threatened Norwich.

The Canaries, who boast a very youthful squad, gave the champions-elect a scare, but Sadio Mane, with another late goal, helped The Reds on their to opening a 25 point lead at the top.

Defending champions Manchester City face West Ham on Wednesday. The last two weekends of fixtures have been halved of course, and that’s been due to this season being the first season that the winter break is getting trialled.

With the Premier League arguably won by Liverpool, the race for second and the race for fourth spot, couldn’t be tighter. Leicester City, this year’s surprise package are just a point behind City (but they have played a game more).

Chelsea, who faced Manchester United at home on Monday, are just one point above Tottenham overcame Aston Villa 3-2, in what was an entertaining game at Villa Park. The Blues going into their game against The Red Devils, knew that only a win would suffice as Jose’s Spurs, look to make an assault on the top four.

North London rivals, Arsenal racked up an impressive 4-0 win against Newcastle, to give manager Mikel Arteta his biggest win since he took charge at The Emirates Stadium. That win took The Gunners into the top half of the table, and it will be hoped by Arteta, that this win, will signify a European push.

Cricket

England’s cricketers after beating South Africa 3-1 in the test series, also came out on top in the T20 series winning 2-1, after winning a thrilling match decider. After winning the toss, new South Africa captain Quinton De Kock elected to bat.

The decision by the new Proteas skipper, seemed to be the correct one as the home side racked up 222-6. England were facing a difficult task, but not impossible and so it proved.

After the early loss of Jason Roy, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow were able to hit half-centuries (57&64 respectively) to help the England run-chase to get back on track. When Jos Buttler was out for a well constructed 57, this sparked a mini-collapse.

Bairstow (64), who would end up top-scoring for the tourists, fell as well as Dawid Malan which meant England had a mini-collapse and were in danger of a mini-collapse, but captain Eoin Morgan (57 not out) and Ben Stokes (22), helped England win a thrilling run chase by five wickets.

There is more cricket to come, especially in the way of T20. The Pakistan Super League returns for another year. Unlike last year, this year’s tournament will be in Pakistan, unlike last year where the latter stages of the tournament was held in Pakistan and the earlier stages in Qatar.

Here, I Ayyaz Malik (The Sports Buff) will give you a weekly insight into the world of sport, every week. Do look out for my videos The Sports Buff sports round up: Manchester City face two year ban see you next week for more!

 

ayyazmalik.com Talks Tactics

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They say in music the 2nd album is the hardest album to make,such an analogy could be used with Manchester City. The Citizens were last seasons premier league champions, their title was fully deserved with a near flawless home record and the fact that City scored over 100 goals in the season always helps.

The Blues though have come into this season a shadow of the side of last season- a bit harsh you may argue as the season is still very young where there are a lot of twists and turns still to go. It maybe harsh to say but the reigning champions don’t seem as solid this year than they were last year, a case of ‘finding the 2nd album difficult to make’. Manchester City suffered the same fate when they won the title with Roberto Mancini, the next season as defending champions they surrounded their title with a real wimper losing the title to bitter rivals Manchester United by some 11 points.

This season The Blues are 8 points behind Chelsea already, and unfortunately for City the West London club don’t seem keen to let their lead slip- which must be a worrying sign for reigning premier league champions.

Lack of personnel is one reason The Blues are struggling, City just didn’t do enough in the transfer market, they must have known the other sides will strengthen, but Man City still failed to strengthen. The main issue I want to talk about here though is the tactics of Manuel Pelegrini. The Chilean manager who is known as the engineer due to his qualification as wait for it…. an engineer, is clearly a clever man- but I can’t seem to get to grips with why he doesn’t play David Silva further up the pitch in a ‘free role’.

The Spaniard is a ‘magician’ on the ball and Silva showed us that he has a lethal left foot- just ask Adrian the West Ham goal keeper. In the 1st half of the game against West Ham David Silva was put out wide and looked like a lost sheep, when Pelegrini changed his formation and put David Silva further up the pitch it was clear to see that the 28 year old seemed at ease with his game.

Defending isn’t a part of David Silva’s game, nor should it have to be. I know what you’re thinking- the modern players need to defend and attack, people will look at Jose Mouriniho’s sides as an example- but David Silva won’t be the same player if he has defending to worry about. Look at Real Madrid for example and Christiano Ronaldo, the 29 year old isn’t in the Real team for his defensive work lets just say.

Manchester City if they are to succeed they need to put their best players in the best positions ( I know it’s stating the obvious but Manuel Pelegrini has stubbornly put the Spaniard out wide). Silva’s predicament reminds me so much of Mesut Ozil of Arsenal who is another player in the wrong position. The 28 year old needs to be behind the lone striker,Manchester City need to be better numbered in midfield. More numbers in midfield would mean dropping a striker which would regrettably have to be Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian has played pretty well- but at a club like City someone is bound to miss out and be sacrificed as part of tactics .

The player to fill that hole on the left should be James Milner, Milner is such a work ahollic and could look after the defensive side of matters while Silva can do what he does best and that’s making clever passes to the centre forward. Cesc Fabregas links well with Diego Costa and if David Silva can create a similar relationship with Sergio Aguerro, than maybe City might well just claw this deficit back. With the modern day full back ‘bombing forward’ at any given opportunity, it’s important that there is some one there to cover, James Milner in my opinion is one of the best players in the premier league to do that job.