Will Jack Wilshere ever come good?

With all the recent rumours about Manchester City’s interest in the 23 year old midfielder, i have found myself in the rather strange position of not really caring. Traditionally a massive supporter of Jack i’m now not sure on whether i’d keep him. Wilshere has been under massive criticism for a number of years, with many supporting Paul Scholes belief that he hasn’t improved since he put in that man of the match performance against Barcelona in 2011. In truth I hate to say it but he’s probably right. Jack has been seriously hampered with injuries but ultimately he’s a midfielder who is given quite a lot of attacking freedom and has scored just 6 goals in over 100 arsenal appearances. So I am left wondering whether we should really be giving a new bumper contract to a player who has serious injury problems, and a guy who is not always a starter, rather than cashing in now.

Many doubt Wilshere has shown any progress since he first broke into the side.

Many doubt Wilshere has shown any progress since he first broke into the side.

Anyone who watches Jack week in week out (when he isn’t injured) will understand that he comes with a certain level of baggage. Jack has always suffered with temperament and his disciplinary record is fairly poor, he argues with referees and often lets opposition players wind him up to his own disadvantage. He is also a very combative and competitive player, often going in for challenges most would not, as much as this can be seen as passion it can also lead to injuries and it has. These problems can be seen in many players and often written off as maturity issues but good players can change like Wayne Rooney has shown, going on to be a shining example as captain of Manchester United. There is additionally the problem of whether he is worth the hype, he did incredibly well as a young boy and had the clubs hopes put on his shoulders at a young age, but he hasn’t really delivered. He has big holes in his game around his positioning and he leaves gaps when he goes on marauding runs, often to get tackled and give the opposition the opportunity to counter, the off field troubles such as smoking don’t even come into it in my mind. These are all more significant problems that make me wonder why Arsenal are so averse to at least entertain interest from wealthy sides who would pay big money for the playmaker.

Wilshere has always had trouble keeping his cool.

Wilshere has always had trouble keeping his cool.

However i then remember how tough fans are on Jack. This is a guy that was touted as the next big prodigy who would replace Fabregas, he was even on the cover of Fifa 12. It was seen as a given that he would be a future Arsenal captain and all that pressure has definitely taken its toll. I feel that people measure him against the best, but just because he isn’t world class doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable. He performs a great box to box role for Arsenal and is part of why they have such a great depth in midfield, he doesn’t have to be the star. People knock his competitive edge but its damn entertaining, few players have the capacity to perform such mazy runs and to unlock a defence like Wilshere can, just think about that goal against Norwich.

He’s also one hell of a tackler, in fact I’d say the only issue is he was born too late, with many of his tackles being too tough for the modern game. He can tackle just as well as any defensive midfielder including Coquelin, and thats the key I feel to him unlocking his potential. Jack is a good all rounder, he can do everything these days, which isn’t something you could have said about him a few years ago. Just think of those long shots he pulled off against Slovenia and that drive against West Brom. His role in England’s squad as a deep lying playmaker is proof he can do it. I know he was ‘destined to be a number 10’ but thats a dream. There are far better number 10’s at arsenal and all the big clubs, but there are few better all round midfielders. If Jack can learn to position himself, use some discipline he could be a perfect midfielder. Though this completely depends on whether Wenger uses him in the deeper role he needs to thrive. This is how he can come good, and coming from deep is the only way he can keep doing things like this anyway.

He’ll never be the future Paul Gascoigne he was meant to be, but he can sure be a great something else.

Advertisements

How long left for the Premier League?

The Premier league has been at the top for a while lets be honest. We are told every match by Sky that this is “the best season yet” in “the greatest league on earth” and do you know what, I really think they’ve convinced nearly everyone that this is a fact without question. It’s the most fast paced, it has the best players, it’s only going to get bigger. Well, as much as it probably is the most fast paced, these other claims floated about are most definitely false, and I’m afraid the bubble might soon burst.

The Premier league was built in 1992 on the reasoning that the clubs of England were giants, and the product they had to sell was worth a huge amount more than what they were getting. For too long Serie A had always been the most attractive league, yet the attendances in England were always humungous. Driven by businessmen like David Dein and Alan Sugar, the league was founded in 1992 and the original Sky agreement of £304 million over five seasons flooded the league with money. Leaving even “smaller”clubs were with money to spend. This saw the quickest influx of talent to a league probably ever seen with players from all over the world suddenly being attracted by the huge wages on offer. It seemed every club was getting their own exotic players from far and wide bringing in ever larger crowds. Just look at Juninho at Middlesborough. This was a match made in heaven and the deals with Sky have been (depending on your perspectives) incredibly beneficial. Getting to the point where now entry to the premier league from the championship is worth £120 million.

Juninho went to Middlesborough ahead of Real Madrid and AC Milan.

Juninho chose Middlesborough ahead of Real Madrid and AC Milan due to the attraction of the league.

This is what has fuelled the BPL’s rise to being ‘the best league in the world’ and to be fair there is a good lot to shout about. England always produces passionate large crowds which come through the gates week in week out. There is also the fact that England has the oldest and largest football tradition possessing 92 professional clubs, more than anywhere else in the world. Conveniently for sky the whole nation lives and breathes football, everyone has a team, half the country watches. There is also the fast paced Gung-ho approach which english players seem so eager to embrace, unlike in Italy where traditionally players learn to defend and be astute tactically. Also, most significantly for the attraction of the Premier league is the players that are bought for astronomical prices. A league that is full of talent is surely the greatest around right.

But i think people are too quick to just gobble it all up, I mean in reality are the best players really in the Premier league? The Ballon D’or shortlists are only ever made up of La Liga and Bundesliga Players in recent years. Ronaldo and Messi, the world’s two best players play in Spain, the likes of Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben, and Franck Ribery all play for Bayern Munich. These players are rarely touted as coming to the Premier league. Whereas 10 years ago the Premier league was the only place to be, possessing the best talent like Fernando Torres, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo, players now leave for bigger clubs when they win an award or two. It has become the common path for Players of the year to take the short flight to Madrid or Barcelona. Just look at the likes of Ronaldo, Henry, Michael Owen, Fabregas and most recently Bale who have all gone to play in the Clasico and have a chance at winning the Champions league every year. The reality is the standard has dropped, the big clubs in England now buy players who are on the fringes at the worlds biggest clubs and sell them off as world beaters, but they don’t go for the very best out there. Neymar was never coming to the Premier league and I doubt Pogba will either. In recent years, Arsenal have bought Sanchez and first team/sub player at Barcelona, and Mesut Ozil a sub form Real Madrid. Even Angel Di Maria at Real Madrid wasn’t always in the Madrid team. These are great players but they aren’t the very very best, and I think this is the biggest sign that things are changing. In 2005 Patrick Viera rejected the chance to leave for Real Madrid as he didn’t believe they were necessarily a ‘step up’. However, fast forward to now and everyone wants to be playing at the Nou Camp and Bernabeu. This is why I worry, and wonder how long can the BPL honestly claim to be the best.

Gareth Bale was drawn to Real Madrid over Manchester United

Gareth Bale was drawn to Real Madrid over top premier league teams in 2013.

There is also the fact that the big English clubs never do well in Europe anymore. Between 2005 and 2012 English clubs were involved in 7 of the 8 champions league finals, now most don’t even reach the quarters. Man City are perennial failures, Arsenal are going to soon lose their pot 1 place having not passed the last 16 in 5 years, and Manchester United and Liverpool have fallen away altogether. Only Chelsea remain a potential winner and they only reached the Quarters.

This is the sad truth that nothing lasts forever, and everything is replaceable. People may think the league will only get bigger but they thought that of Serie A in the 90’s and looked how thats turned out. Many easily forget that the Serie A was the worlds best league just 20 years ago, sucking in all the talent. Yet now their major clubs such as AC and Inter are crumbling under weak club infrastructure, and the leagues best teams are having to sell off their assets like Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic a few years ago. Now it is slowly becoming a once sided league dominated by Juventus and I fear the BPL collapsing in the same way, it’s happened before, and those who think no one could replace it are naive. If La Liga’s legal case to equalise the TV rights works, the league will change dramatically and once more teams like Valencia can weigh in at the big time. They will close the wage gap with the BPL, and the likes of Getafe and Sociedad will be no longer out gunned for money by the likes of their English equivalents Aston Villa and Southampton. This could see a drastic shift and thats just in the short term. The long term could see something even more fatal for the Premier league and that is the MLS. Often seen as the retirement place of BPL veterans the league is growing at a rate no one anticipated. With the signings of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo possibly following them to join David Villa and Kaka this league is no longer just for those who used to play in big leagues. This year sees the incredible statistic found by the daily mail that more US schoolchildren are now playing Soccer than American football and with 24 million viewing the US strong showing in the 2014 world cup it is only growing. Even club attendances are growing and the Seattle Sounders now bring in more fans than Chelsea on match days. America has money, it has more than the BPL, and if the MLS really gets going it may start using it. This could be catastrophic for the Premier League and if that selling point of offering the most money is taken away, I don’t think the worlds best players aren’t going to stay for the history and atmosphere. Some do, as Italy shows, but not the very best. It’s true the Champions league is the big draw but with the world only getting smaller I could see the MLS joining in some capacity, and they already have enough players coming through themselves with their sporting infrastructure.

Seattle Sounders have some attendances reaching over 50,000

Seattle Sounders have some attendances reaching over 50,000.

I’m not saying this will happen straight away and it won’t. Serie A didn’t die overnight, but those who think the BPL is any different are kidding themselves.

The BPL may not be forever guys, and I think it’s changing already.

As much as Cech is a brilliant signing, have Arsenal’s goalkeeper options really been that bad?

As suggested in the title, I don’t actually think Arsenal were suffering that badly in the goalkeeping position last season. In fact i thought having two fairly good goalkeepers was great for the competition between them, driving each of them onto better things and David Ospina really coming into his own by the end of the season.

Rumours are circulating today that Cech has finally completed his £11 million move to Arsenal. Which don’t get me wrong is probably going to be one of the signings Arsenal have ever made. He is in my opinion still in the top 5 keepers in the world, but those who claim there was a crisis in the goalkeeping position are naive. This isn’t me arguing against the purchase of Cech, simply questioning those who have been criticising our keepers all season. Have Arsenal fans so easily forgotten the years and years of complete ineptitude delivered to us by Manuel Almunia? In my eyes the worst keeper to ever pull on the Arsenal shirt.

David Ospina despite all the odds was last season the best keeper in the league going by stats. I wouldn’t say he was by any means the most talented, and stats can often lie, but there has got to be something in the fact that he pulled off the most clean sheets, highest percentage of shots saved, and the least goals conceded per game of any goalkeeper playing more than 10 games. (Funnily enough Petr Cech is the only one with a better overall better performance over 5 games) So I question anyone saying Arsenal have particularly ‘needed’ a keeper. Especially when on the bench despite all his issues is a relatively young Woijciech Sczcesny who was actually a fairly good No.1 for a couple of seasons. Equally Arsenal have not had a stronger group of Goalkeepers at any time in the last decade, arguably even since David Seaman. Jens Lehmann was a very good keeper but later in his career his form waned and since him the likes of Almunia, Fabianski, and Mannone were never up to the standard of a club trying to win trophies. So now we have two international keepers on the books i ask what crisis?

David Ospina Stats

My only actual issue with the purchase of Cech will be the all but inevitable sale of Ospina. Sadly given Sczcesny’s homegrown status the Columbian shot stopper is likely to be shown the door ahead of the Pole, who i would much rather see the back of in his place. The sale of Ospina is definitely something that i think may hurt Arsenal in the long run, as even though Sczcesny is ok, i doubt he’ll ever grow into the No. 1 Arsenal demand, and though Cech still has a few years in him it wont be long till Arsenal will be seeking a long term replacement. A position i feel Ospina would make his own, bearing in mind this guy has been in England for just one year and has been sensational. He could grow into a real cult hero, and it is rare to find a good keeper who seems to be ok fighting to the No. 1 jersey from No. 2. You cant buy that, and i think the gunners could regret it.

However, i should emphasise that the purchase of Cech is sensational and a real game changer. Even better when you consider that he only cost £11 million. Despite all my appreciation for Ospina, obviously Petr Cech is in another league, and it wasn’t too far of John Terry to say this morning that he is worth 15 points a year. Mourinho didn’t want to sell for a reason, and this buy can take arsenal to the next level. Not to mention the fact the Cech has won it all and can bring that winning attitude to an already positive dressing room. If Cech can use his chance at Arsenal to get back to his best and prove to Chelsea he never lost his talent, I think he could go as far as being the key piece in the puzzle for Arsenal’s title bid… after all this guy has been a thorn in our side for years, so it’ll be great to have him in our end for a change.

Petr Cech may be the missing piece to Arsenal's title challenge

Petr Cech may be the missing piece to Arsenal’s title challenge.

State of the Home Nations

Home nations football is traditionally pretty shocking. But with the increased size of Euro 2016 many have a chance of qualification which they could previously only dream of, and it looks like the Home nations are now stepping up their game.

England are almost always guaranteed a spot at major tournaments and rarely fail, equally Ireland often make up the numbers at world cups and european championships, but Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland rarely ever make it. Wales have made only one appearance at a World Cup, Northern Ireland three, and Scotland though previously a fairly successful side have struggled since the early 90’s. These are countries who have frequently boasted very good players but cannot muster good performances on a team level. Until what i’m hoping a stupid amount is now as quite frankly i’m bored of the the England national team, and i want someone else to shout for. So this is how they’re doing.

WALES

With Wales’ win against Belgium there is now a very real chance of qualification to get to their first major tournament since 1958. Chris Coleman’s side now top their group by 3 points, and with some tricky games out of the way, and a game against Cyprus to come, the Welsh can finally be optimistic. This is not however a sudden rise, Wales have been slowly progressing for a while and i feel that had Gary Speed’s tragic death not occurred his side would have done very well long before now. This team has been playing together for a while with many of the players like Aaron Ramsey and Gareth bale already being seasoned internationals, even less heard of players such as Chris Gunter have 55 games of international experience. This is the reason for the sudden change in fortune of Wales, and it shouldn’t be put down to a ‘golden generation’. After all the previous Welsh side that competed in the early 00’s contained far more premier league experience and was littered with big names. The likes of Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage, John Hartson and Daniel Gaddidon played in the Millenium stadium along with others like even Craig Bellamy. So those saying its because of Bale don’t know what their talking about. This team is doing well because its had time to gel, not because of a few good players. With some luck though, they are going to make it to France.

If anything the Welsh team of the early 2000's had more talent, but the current crop have been gaining experience for years.

If anything the Welsh team of the early 2000’s had more talent, but the current crop have been gaining experience for years.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Wales aren’t the only team doing well either, the traditionally worst side in the British isles also have a chance of getting to their first ever European championship. Rarely having anything to shout about, Northern Ireland actually now stand more of a chance of reaching Euro 2016 than their southern neighbours in the Republic. Under the careful stewardship of Michael O’Neill and 5 goals from Kyle Lafferty, Northern Ireland FINALLY have a realistic shot at getting there. Kyle Lafferty somehow has scored in each victory, becoming the emblem of the new Northern Ireland in the process. Despite having scored just one club goal in turkey all season, a man not wanted by Palermo or Norwich Lafferty seems to become a different man when he gets going for his country, and with a game against the Faroe islands coming up in september they can get even closer to qualification. Though they will have to probably fight to the very end with Hungary just behind, its nice to finally be able to be positive about the national side of a country so devoted to football.

Kyle Lafferty has fired Northern Ireland to second in Group F

Kyle Lafferty has fired Northern Ireland to second in Group F

ENGLAND

Next obviously, England. There is less to say to be honest about England given the fact they are expected to breeze through qualifying maybe even with a 100% record. They don’t tend to struggle in the early stages (cough cough 2008) and they should be fine this time round as well. With games against San marino and Lithuania still to play, they will almost definitely top their group and Wilshere’s two goals against Slovenia bode well for his future in the team, and as a group they seem to be doing really well. I think Hodgson is actually a really good coach and i think with the expanded tournament in 2016 they may stand more of a chance of getting further than previously, but i’d still deem making the semi’s a big success.

SCOTLAND

Scotland are an enigma, people almost unanimously say they are rubbish yet they always come really close to qualifying, like in 2008 when they beat Italy and France, or now with them being just 3 points behind Germany. But yet again it seems they probably wont get through with Poland doing well and Lewandowski leading the tournament goals tally, along with World cup winners Germany ahead of them in the group. One would hope they can grab third and get through in a play off, but its a free for all in the play offs and nothing is guaranteed, but then again that could work in their favour. Gordon Strachan has definitely got them improving though and having beaten Ireland and drawn with them in the second game, they will probably get 3rd.

Strachan has given Scotland a chance of reaching their first major tournament since 1998

Strachan has given Scotland a chance of reaching their first major tournament since 1998

IRELAND

Ireland are a good team normally, and frequently make major tournaments. Having irish family i tend to support them even ahead of England sometimes, but they haven’t done well and i don’t reckon they’ll get to France in 2016. Even Kevin Kilbane who won 110 caps with the Irish National side stated that he was pessimistic after the Scotland draw. Its quite a sad story for Ireland. Having arguably one of the best managers around in Martin O’Neill and an experienced back room team including the likes of Roy Keane has led to something of a disappointment as they have failed to stop something of a rot which set in after their dismal Euro 2012 performance. Having previously featured in the last Euro’s most had expected the Irish to make it again given there were 8 more slots than in 2012. However with an ageing side the Irish team seems to lack bite and the presence of (with respect) David McGoldrick in the team which played England shows the teams recent decline. Ireland have had to deal with the retirement of previous stars like Robbie Keane, Shay Given, Damien Duff and Richard Dunne in the past four years. Sadly it seems even a manager of O’Neill’s calibre hasn’t been able to halt the slide and the Irish seem to have declined quite sharply.

Ireland have struggled with the loss of Stalwarts like Duff and Keane

Ireland have struggled with the loss of Stalwarts   like Duff and Keane.

Overall though, the Home nation’s fortunes seem to be looking up.

The curious case of Newcastle Utd

Will Newcastle ever return to the big time

Will Newcastle ever return to the big time

For those reading this who are 20 or over it doesn’t need to be said, but to those who were born after 1995, Newcastle Utd actually used to be quite a big side. With this weeks appointment of Steve McLaren and Mike ashley’s interview on the last day of the season, many are wondering if this sleeping giant from the North East can return to what many see as their natural place, in the upper echelons of the Premier league.

Just 20 years ago Kevin Keegan was managing a Newcastle Utd side that was leading the title race. Skip to the modern day, and after a relegation in 2009 Newcastle have yet again been involved in another relegation battle. Though the strange thing about newcastle is that next year could well be a very different story. The curious state of affairs at newcastle is that every so often they seem really quite good. For example in the race for the top four in 2012, or even the start of this season where Alan Pardew had them winning game after game, few would have predicted a relegation scrap come the end of the season, but out of nowhere they collapsed again. Its the story of a group of players who are very talented, but who just don’t seem to gel. Whether its due to manager’s like John Carver, or something else, something just isn’t working. This isn’t something new either, this has been going on since Bobby Robson left the club, and consequent managers have not been able to get them going. The likes of Graham Souness and Sam Allardyce with great players like Michael Owen, Fabricio Coloccini, and Obafemi Martins all at their disposal have produced nothing, and it begs the question on whether the problem comes from the top. Specifically Mike Ashley.

Mike Ashley bought Newcastle in 2007, he is a newcastle fan, he wanted to do it well, on paper he seems like the ideal owner. However things haven’t quite gone to plan. Since Mike Ashley has taken over many fans have grown progressively distant, and in the past season it hit breaking point, with games being boycotted due to the owner’s supposed lack of investment. As shown below, fans are bored.

Newcastle protest

But i cant help but feel they are maybe a bit out of touch. I get that its important to entertain the fans, but Newcastle’s golden era of Alan Shearer playing with the likes of Bellamy and Laurent Robert was built on debt. The club invested millions in the time of endless money, but then it slowed up, look at Portsmouth, and i think Newcastle fans need to ask what would they rather? Have won the 2008 FA cup and now be in league 2, or be in their current state as a mid table premier league side. I think most would not choose the former, and those who argue Newcastle are too big for that, just look at leeds. Mike Ashley has balanced the books and this era of mediocrity is sadly the product of an over investment to make a go at the big time, it didn’t work, and now Newcastle are paying the price.

It may seem harsh, but there is little to suggest Newcastle are more than a provincial club. The club has a huge following, but its not a brand like the other big clubs, there are very few fans out of the north and foreign players dont grow up wanting to play there. This is a club that has won the same number of trophies as Wolves and \nottingham forest so realistically i hink they need to aim for cups. Mike Ashley has finally balanced the books and with his claim that they can win a trophy are we likely to see some long awaited investment? His appointment of Steve McLaren is a signal of intent, and he will surely give him some money to bring in his own players. Also his incredibly bold statement of going for a champions league place (no matter how unlikely) means they are surely going to give it a go. Maybe Newcastle will finally come out of their shell and have something to shout about. It’s a weird club, few have a whole city behind them like newcastle do, but then again few who have such large stadiums yet don’t win things. With some good buys and good management they could do alright this year and push for the europa league in the future.

But then again its Newcastle, so i’m pretty sure no one knows how they’ll do.

The rise of Francis Coquelin is nothing new

Lets just get one thing straight, and that is that Francis Coquelin has always been a great player. He was never Charlton quality, and he has always been every bit as tenacious and astute in the tackle as he is today. All he was missing was an opportunity. The pundits on sky sports acting like he’s a man reborn clearly never watched him as a 21 year old, being Arsenal’s best player against tottenham in 2012, or being the only guy who had a good game when we lost 8-2 that time. Coquelin has always been a good player, and I have a good feeling that he will be for a very long time.

Francis Coquelin has a gift which very few have at the top level, and that is an innate aggression in the way he plays. Just look at this vine of how quickly he snaps at Stephen Quinn. He’s terrifying.

He clearly isn’t a teddy bear but then again you don’t want him to be. In a way Francis Coquelin is just like Lee Cattermole, but luckily he can kick a football significantly better. Arsenal have been accused of lacking steel for years and I think they finally have it. In fact Coquelin in some ways is almost an exact replica of the Mathieu Flamini that arsenal so foolishly let go in 2008. Not the one that is a shadow of him former self still at the club, but the one that gave Arsenal a title challenge before he left, and I think Coquelin will do exactly the same. With Coquelin at the base of their midfield Arsenal’s attacking players can have a license to roam, and unlike the ageing Arteta, or Flamini,Coquelin has plenty of pace to make up ground. Something that can give him the edge over other more traditional defensive midfielders who arsenal may be trying to sign.

I wouldn’t say that arsenal don’t need a defensive midfielder as they do, but with Coquelin there I don’t think this Arsenal side are necessarily as weak as some would believe.

Coquelin was playing for Charlton in the championship. But just 6 months later has won an FA Cup medal.

Coquelin was playing for Charlton in the championship. But just 6 months later has won an FA Cup medal.

Is there any way back for the SPL?

When I was growing up, there was a league in Scotland that was respectable, it was pretty great in my mind i used to wake up on saturdays and watch the highlights from the week and i loved every minute. The clubs would buy premier league players and it wouldn’t be that out of the ordinary. The likes of Tore Andre Flo who scored 50 goals for Chelsea in the late 90’s was bought for £12 million in 2000 by Rangers, the equivalent of which would be around the £25 million mark, and the fact that this is so unimaginable now shows the leagues decline. It wasn’t even just at Rangers where there was an abundance of talent. The likes of Motherwell had young stars like James McFadden. Strikers such as Henrik Larsson, Mark Viduka, and Paolo Di Canio populated the dressing room of Celtic, and around the turn of the millennium there were midfielders like Gennaro Gattuso, Mikel Arteta and Barry Ferguson at Rangers. These players moved to clubs where they could compete for the highest of honours and champions league sides.

Craig Gordon sold for £11 Million from Hearts

Craig Gordon sold for £11 Million from Hearts

Fast forward to now, and what has happened?! The same players who are successful in Scotland move to the championship, and even then some don’t make it. The likes of Kris Boyd, the 2010 SPL’s top scorer moved to Middlesborough and flopped. How has the league, which produced such great sides as the 1967 European cup winners, the Aberdeen side which won the Cup winners cup under Ferguson, and produced the Old Firm derbies dropped so low. As recently as 2003 Scotland had a team in a major European cup final. So what has happened and how can it be brought back to its Hay day.

The issue many quote is the money, put simply the money left Scotland. When there were big money moves and players with flair who were coveted by Europe’s finest, TV revenues were high. However in an era where with all due respect Kris Commons is the most exciting player, Sky sports aren’t going to pay up. This has left clubs struggling for funds so much that even Celtic, a club with a 60,000 seater stadium has the equivalent spending power of a good championship side. The wages of a Celtic regular are now roughly 20,000 a week with key players reaching 30-40,000 but in Modern day football this simply isn’t enough, and at the smaller clubs the situation is far more dire. Celtic now rely on signing promising youth prospects and developing them such as Virgil Van Dijk and previously Fraser Forster, but such a large club is better than this.

The other key reason is the collapse of the big clubs, there is the obvious case of Rangers but also the Edinburgh clubs decline is a tragedy for the Scottish game. When Rangers went down, fans flocked to see Hearts play Hibernian in the absence of the Old Firm, but now even that is gone. With these clubs in the first division Scottish attendances have plummeted, particularly due to Rangers who still despite 3 years in the wilderness bring in more than anyone else bar Celtic, and who’s return is the first step on a road to improvement. The league needs its traditional powerhouses, and though i wouldn’t normally support it, i do wish someone would come in and financially dope one of the teams. For too long Celtic and Rangers have dominated, and despite Romanov’s attempts to get Hearts going there hasn’t been a winner other than these two since 1985. Maybe a wealthy owner could help spice things up and get the league going.

I would love to say this could be a low point of the newly formed SPFL, but I cant see it being so. Despite Celtic’s strong showings in the champions league in 2013, and the chance for some smaller sides to grow like Inverness recently winning their first trophy. Scotland needs money, it needs its big clubs back at the top, Celtic needs Rangers and that means Scotland do too. There is no money because there is no TV, and there is no TV because it’s not exciting. The clubs need to unanimously adopt a policy of finding good young players and they need to ignite their famous rivalries once again.

If the SPFL fails to do this, and keeps its course, it may decline indefinitely.

Turn of the century saw real talent at celtic

Turn of the century saw real talent at celtic

What happened to the one and only Adriano

Former Brazil star's fall from grace shows problems with getting in with the wrong crowd.

Former Brazil star’s fall from grace shows problems with getting in with the wrong crowd.

Adriano Leite Ribeiro. I loved this guy. This was a name that once had defences all over Europe worrying, but where did it all go wrong?

A powerful, fast, striker with an incredible left foot, the big man was making waves in the early 2000’s having just come across from Brazil. Signing for Internazionale, Adriano was moved out for the 02/03 season where he formed a great partnership with a certain Adrian Mutu at Parma, a place where he scored an impressive 23 goals. The young Brazilian with speed not matching his large frame had the world taking notice.

Taken back to his original club, by the end of 2005 he had become Inter Milan’s star man. Being signed onto a bumper 5-year contract, Adriano had scored 40 goals in both domestic and international competition in just under a year, and as a result was tipped to be the future of Serie A and even Brazil. Adriano won the Copa America golden shoe and was seen as the natural heir to Ronaldo, the sky was the limit.

However everything began to slowly go downhill. This was a guy that was being courted by Chelsea, but amid what the club described as some off the field issues, his form dropped. Adriano was allowed to take leave numerous times between 2006 and 2009 with what was reported as minor alcoholism. This didn’t hurt Adriano’s reputation straight away, and was seen as just something of a blip, with a number of clubs including premier league sides Man City & West Ham still reportedly taking an interest in the striker.

But this blip became a rot and Inter began to question whether the youthful Adriano would fulfil the potential in which they had so heavily invested. Ultimately the Striker ended up returning to Brazil with Sao Paulo on loan and it was a move that many thought would reignite his career, scoring an admirable 11 goals in 19 appearances. This spell earned him a permanent move to Flamengo in 2009 after Inter terminated his contract, and it was here that it finally seemed his career was getting back on track. Scoring his second hat trick for the club in the Fluminense derby Adriano was once again in the running for Brazil’s international squad and Europe once again came calling. Adriano took the move and in 2010 the target man was back in Serie A. Linking up with Francesco Totti at Roma he was greeted with some fanfare, with many  expecting the Adriano that won 4 Scudetto’s with Inter. It sadly wasn’t. Adriano seemed like a lost cause once again, shying away from the work ethic expected of him and producing lacklustre displays, Roma quickly dumped him. He returned to Brazil with Corinthians, another spell with Flamengo followed, both went badly.

 

Adriano Roma.jpeg

It is a truly sad story of a man who came out of poverty through his incredible talent. A man tipped to be the next Ronaldo, with incredibly deft feet for a man his size.

However it is just another story of a man who got caught in the limelight. He had constant issues with obesity, alcoholism, and depression late in his career, and Jose Mourinho when asked in 2010 said he “feared for the man”. The latest news on Adriano is that he’s been cleared of a bizarre drug trafficking case back in Brazil, and his last movements in the footballing world were a collapsed move to French side Le Havre.

This is a story of a talented guy, caught in the wrong circles, who saw a dramatic fall. Adriano is currently 34, he should still be playing. But his career died a long time ago, and he doesn’t seem to have much of a future in the game either.