Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Say ‘NO’ To The International Break

By Lee Jaundrell   4/10/11
I love football, I love Premier League football and I really love Liverpool fc, and I have to wait 2 weeks for our next game. Liverpool have just won their last 2 games, against Wolves and away to Everton, our form is decent and maybe we could go on a run. Our next game is at home to our biggest rivals Man Utd. This International break is an inconvenience to the players and an inconvenience to us fans.
Why can’t all international football be played at the end of the season?
Surely this would benefit everyone, and for a number of reasons. Firstly, from an England point of view, since the poor performance in the World Cup last year, numerous fans have fallen out of love with the national team. Capello’s tactics along with several key players underperforming have left fans disaffected. A qualifying tournament every odd numbered year, with 6 to 8 games played over a 4 to 5 week period in May/June would bring international football to the forefront of everyone’s minds. It would allow managers time to get their players to gel as a team, and hopefully produce better football.
Secondly, injuries would affect the national teams and not their clubs. Liverpool over the years have suffered more than most. I remember John Barnes rupturing his achilles in 1992 playing for England, and was out for 6 months, Jamie Redknapp always seemed to get injured playing for England, Steven Gerrard recently messed up his groin in an England game which he is just coming back from, and Fernando Torres got injured 3 or 4 times while away with Spain. Obviously major injuries affect everyone, but the odd strained calf or pulled hamstring would not affect the clubs paying the players wages. There's nothing more annoying than your star player or players coming back from international duty injured.
Thirdly, and most importantly, the Premier League season would not be interrupted. I don’t know about you but I’m bored and it’s only Tuesday. I’ll have to watch rugby and other sports at the weekend and I may even have to talk to the wife.
While we’re changing international football, we should change the European Qualifying format. There are just too many games. Too many pointless games. What do Andorra, San Marino etc. gain from being thrashed every match? A 2-0 defeat for San Marino against, say, Austria would be treated as a victory. Surely, San Marino would gain more from a ‘competitive’ match against Andorra, than 8 games losing 5-0 in each. San Marino’s current record in qualifying for 2012 Euro is played 9, lost 9, scored 0, conceded 49.
24 teams will take part in the 2016 European Championship, bear with me while I explain how I think the qualifying should work;-
The hosts France qualify, well as hosts.
Leaving 23 places. There are 52 teams wanting to qualify, and I propose breaking this up into 11 groups of 4, with 8 teams missing out. Therefore, first and second in each group qualifies and the best third place. The teams that finish forth (last) in each group would have to enter a preliminary qualifying round against the 8 teams who missed out to gain entry to the qualifying for the next major tournament.
The 8 teams missing out will be the worst performing teams in the previous qualifying tournament, currently the 8 worst teams are;- Andorra, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Malta, San Marino and (sorry) Wales.
This leaves every team a 6 match qualifying tournament, which should be played in a 4/5 week period at the end of the season after a couple of friendlies as preparation.
The Premier League season wouldn’t be interrupted, and interest at the end of the season for international football would be immense compared with fans reaction towards the current qualifying tournament.

'Football is a simple game complicated by people who should know better' Bill Shankly

Monday, 3 October 2011

Four Four F*****g Two

By Lee Jaundrell   3/10/11
Before I start rambling about football tactics, I would just like say that I am not really qualified to write about tactics, I am not Jonathan Wilson of the Guardian and author of various books nor am I Zonal Marking of ZonalMarking.net. In fact, the following analysis will most likely be a load of tosh not worth the paper err Internet thingy it’s written on. And now that I have lowered your expectations, I shall begin;-
4-4-2 used to be the default tactic of pretty much every team in England, nowadays the most common formation is 4-2-3-1, but are we heading back to the old fashioned 4-4-2? A number of Premier League sides have played 4-4-2 this season, from Man Utd at the top of the league to Bolton at the bottom. 
Man Utd have obviously done well so far this season, playing Young & Nani either side of Anderson & Fletcher/Cleveley in a 4 man midfield with Rooney up front with either Hernandez or Wellbeck. Going forward it has been very successful but defensively they haven’t been as strong as recent years, although this could have something to do with Vidic being missing and Ferdinand coming to the end of his playing days. 
Liverpool have varied their tactics and formation this season and last, but with Carroll and Suarez so expensively put together, it looks likely that 4-4-2 will be the future of this reds team. Liverpool’s form has been indifferent, so far, with a poor second half against (a 4-4-2) Wolves and also a shocking performance away to (a 4-4-2) Tottenham, but they are currently on target to finish in the top 4.
Also playing 4-4-2 is Tottenham who now they have Parker and Adebayor in their team have performed very well and look very likely to carry on this way having beaten their two main rivals (Arsenal and Liverpool) for a Champions League spot. 
But Bolton, accepting their difficult start, have underperformed, and West Brom having played very well with a 5 man midfield and 1 up front under Hodgson (and Di Matteo) last season, have struggled this season with the addition of, the very good, Shane Long playing Hodgson’s two banks of 4 and 2 up top.
Will this be the norm as this season goes on? Man Utd have given up plenty of chances to the opposition, but have the players to change their tactics. Liverpool haven’t dominated games as they would of liked, and also have a strong squad this year with options to revert back to 4-2-3-1. Bolton and West Brom don’t have as many options to change things. Once the excellent Stuart Holden comes back from his injuries Bolton’s midfield is strengthened, while West Brom have tried Odemwingie wide in a midfield 5 away to Everton in the Carling Cup and probably played some of their best football so far this season.
It would appear that 4-4-2 isn’t dead just yet......