Posts Tagged ‘ Soccer ’

As the Toon Army Marches into the Valley of Death…

-by M

a handsome Irish singer by the name of Ronan Keating once sang, “life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it.” and that is the fate of Newcastle fans around the world. Relegated as recently as 2009, the Magpies now suddenly find themselves in the top 4 spots of the Premier League with the season almost half way through. They have been impressive thus far against somewhat lesser opposition and they now face a daunting run of matches against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Yet, such is the dramatic ups and downs in the recent history of the Magpies that one can forgive the optimism currently surrounding the Tyneside club. Chris Hughton, the man who led Newcastle to promotion from the Championship was sacked barely a year ago and was replaced by Alan Pardew, a decision many deemed to be foolish. However, under Pardew’s charge, Newcastle has transformed themselves over the year through astute acquisitions and a change in footballing and man management philosophy and are now one of the exciting teams to watch this season.

The bigwigs and players who the manager felt could be “bigger than the team” were shipped off to other clubs who were willing to accommodate their egos for their footballing talents (Barton, Nolan, Enrique) while industrious (& mostly French) players with a point to prove were recruited and drilled to play for the collective, rather than for the individual.

Out of all of Pardew’s recent purchases, the one that stands out has to be Yohan Cabaye. the French international has stood out in the black and white of Newcastle this season and has been the conductor of the flowing symphony that is Newcastle’s new style of possession football. His partnership with hardman, Chieck Tiote is one of the key reasons for Newcastle’s outstanding run of results this season.

Undoubtedly, most of the credit has to be attributed to the man many deemed to be unfit for the job. Afterall, here was a man who had a poor reputation in the Premier League after contributing to West Ham’s worst run of results in their history in 2007.  Also, despite his selfish antics, some credit has to be given to owner Mike Ashley. As much as Newcastle fans love to hate him, he has shown his support for the club through good times and bad times and despite his poor taste and shameless advertisement of his company (Sports Direct Arena < St. James Park), Ashley has brought stability to a team that was on the brink of sinking into oblivion after being relegated.

The next few weeks will shape Newcastle’s current season and seasons to come. Many may not give Newcastle a chance against the likes of City, United and Chelsea, but if they continue to play the way they have been playing all season, I would not be surprised if they could steal a win or two against the top 3 teams in England at the moment.

More importantly, it is crucial that Pardew endeavours in the philosophy he has inculcated in the club and keep hold of key personnel such as Tiote and Cabaye. The likes of United and City are already circling around these players but if Pardew can keep these lynchpins in his team, he could be the one to awake one of football’s sleeping giants.

Advertisements

Top 10 Transfer-Deadline Deals

Lille's newly recruit Joe Cole poses with his new shirt

-by M

Deadline days are always hectic and full of drama. Its the day where months of speculation are finally put to an end. Its the day where fans become realistically optimistic about their team’s prospects for the next 9 months, when new players are snapped up at either bargains or hugely-inflated prices. Last season we saw Redknapp make arguably the buy of the season in the form of Rafael Van der Vaart for 8 million pounds. What drama unfolded this season? While this season was considerably mellow considering the madness that took place the last few seasons, we have compiled a list of what we feel are the top 10 transfer-deadline deals of 2011/12.

Craig Bellamy (Manchester City —-> Liverpool)

Bellamy, much like Barton, is one who polarizes opinions. Its either you love him, or you hate him. And Liverpool fans do love him. While he’s not the guy with the best temperament or PR skills, his pace and ability is apparent to all and Liverpool fans will not forget the night he scored against Barcelona and celebrated with a golf club swing in mockery of his bust up with ex-colleague John Arne Riise. Frozen out at City, there were rumours that he wanted to go back to his native Wales to play for Cardiff. However, when Liverpool came knocking, there was no way Bellamy would have settled for any other club. The question now is, with such a mobile attack in the form of Suarez, Kuyt and Bellamy, where will Carroll fit in amongst all of this?

Mikel Arteta (Everton —-> Arsenal) 

It wasn’t a good day for Everton fans as they lost Jermaine Beckford to Leicester (see below) and talismanic midfielder Arteta to Arsenal, leaving them with a substantially thin squad. For Arsenal, who were the most active team yesterday, this will go some way to soften the blow of Fabregas’ departure. While Arteta is not quite as good as Cesc Fabregas, he brings the same kind of awareness and vision to the team. We’ve already seen Nasri and Young move up a higher level after moving to a stronger team, could Arteta prove to be the next revelation this season? Or will he be the 12million pound failure that  Wenger bought out of desperation? Arsenal fans will certainly hope he will be the former.

Owen Hargreaves (Free Agent —-> Manchester City)

You’ve absolutely no idea how much man love I have for Hargreaves and his curly hair. As a United fan, it sickens me to see one of England’s best midfielders (on his day and injury-free) leave our club and join City. Yet, this is an important transfer for both club and player. By signing Hargreaves, they now have substantial cover in the defensive-midfield role occupied by Barry and De Jong. With De Jong’s propensity to get cautioned in almost every game and Barry, being Barry, to be able to call upon Hargreaves as backup is a huge boost. As for Hargreaves, a player of his calibre should be playing for a team playing European football. City is undoubtedly a team who will be challenging on all fronts this season and he will be able to get several games under his belt to aid his fitness. For all you know, he may be pushing for a first-team place this time next season. Of course, the key is his fitness. If he is as fit as he claims to be, he will be an absolute monster in midfield for them. If not, he might just fade away like a certain Michael Johnson (remember him?).

Raul Meireles (Liverpool —-> Chelsea)

This was one I that struck me out of the blue despite the fact that he was no longer first choice in midfield for Liverpool after the summer arrivals of Downing, Henderson and Adam. Meireles had a fantastic second half of the season for Liverpool last year and scored against Chelsea. In Meireles, Chelsea have bought a proven midfielder who can play alongside Lampard in midfield, with Ramires as the holding midfielder. While he might not be as good as Ballack or Deco, he brings much-needed creativity to a Chelsea side that is evidently in need of some.

Joe Cole (Liverpool —-> Lille)

We all expected Joe Cole to leave Liverpool in this transfer window but it is his destination that has surprised many. Most expected the Englishman to leave Liverpool for a mid-table BPL team like West Bromwich or Aston Villa, however he has signed for French champions, Lille on a season-long loan. The absolute kicker: He’s the only Liverpool player who will be playing in the Champions League this season.

Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid —-> Inter Milan)

With Samuel Eto’o leaving the club to play football where money grows on trees (thats the only reason he’s being paid 300,000 pounds per week), Inter have swooped for Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan, who has consistently been within the top few goalscorers in La Liga. With no disrespect to Atletico, Forlan can now move on to greater things and rightfully challenge for European honours, considering his ability. It will also be interesting to see how Forlan adapts to Serie A, having not played there before.

Scott Parker (West Ham —->Tottenham Hotspur)

Scotty Parker must have a penchant for London clubs, having spent a large portion of his career with Charlton, Chelsea, West Ham and now, Tottenham. For Spurs, the arrival of Parker brings much needed steel into a fragile midfield spine. With Palacios shipped off to Stoke and Sandro the only defensive midfielder in the team, Parker brings quality into the squad and will probably walk straight into the starting XI, such is the man’s quality and Spurs’ lack of in the centre of the park. A midfield trio of Parker, Modric and Van der Vaart is good enough to mix with the best of English football.

Bryan Ruiz (FC Twente —-> Fulham)

We here at FP will be the first to put our hands up and acknowledge that we have no idea who this fella is. But looking at Fulham’s situation, a striker is exactly what Martin Jol needs. 1 goal in 3 games in which they have won the square root of bugger all is not good enough for Fulham’s standards. Bryan Ruiz’s 6 goals in the 2011 Gold Cup suggests he is capable of delivering the goods and he was part of McClaren’s title-winning FC Twente side, starting 20 times and scoring 7 goals. Fulham fans will be hoping he will improve on that record.

Jermaine Beckford (Everton —-> Leicester City)

A man fast-tracked into the Premier League, moving from Leeds United to Everton last season. He has now moved back down to the Championship level to join Leicester City to aid them in their bid for promotion. Quite why Everton were willing to let Beckford go is something only Moyes knows. A squad already ravaged by injuries and plagued with injury-prone strikers, Beckford would have played a big part in the current campaign. He has already shown he has quality to cut it at the very top, with the strike against Bolton and his solitary effort against Chelsea last season stand out goals for him(see here and here). If he is capable of reproducing such quality on a regular basis, Leicester City may be playing with the big boys come August 2012.

Manchester United Tear Arsenal A New One

-by M with help from D

As Howard Webb blew his whistle to signal the end of the game,  there were no wild scenes of celebration by Manchester United players. Despite beating arch-rivals Arsenal by a record scoreline of 8-2.

It was almost as if the dire situation Arsenal F.C are currently in dampened the celebratory mood amongst the players. Somber handshakes were interchanged and consolatory pats on the back of Arsenal players were dished out by the United players. One wonders what kind words Wayne Rooney offered to Wojciech Szczensy then.

The bigger question however, still persists- how does Arsene Wenger lift his team up from such a terrible, morale-sucking defeat? It was not as if Arsenal were expected to come away with a result against a United side who were so rampant against Tottenham last weekend.

Devastated by injuries and suspensions to key players, coming away from Old Trafford with a point would still have been realistic after a confidence-boosting mid-week win over Udinese that secured the North London’s side entry to the Champions League group stages.

However, even the most pessimistic Arsenal fans would not have been able to imagine the kind of punishment United were about to dish out on their side. Rihanna’s “S&M” comes to mind for Arsenal fans looking for a song to accompany the repeat telecast.

The gulf in class was encapsulated by the polarizing benches both teams set out. United’s bench oozed of quality and experience. Being able to call upon a substitutes such as Dimitar Berbatov, Rio Ferdinand, Park Ji Sung, Fabio, Javier Hernandez and Anders Lindegaard was simply frightening.

On the opposite end, Arsenal’s bench of Lukasz Fabianski, Marouane Chamakh, Henri Lansbry, Gilles Sunu, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ignasi Miquel and Oguzhan Ozyajup was frightening as well; for the Arsenal fan that is.

And as the match began, the gulf in class became a chasm.

The tone of the match was set in the first 10-15 minutes as United were clearly the dominant force in the game. Despite being outnumbered in the engine room, the energetic duo of Cleverley and Anderson completely outran the patched-up midfield trio of Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Francis Coquelin.

After Welbeck nodded in the opening goal after Arsenal’s backline failed to clear their lines quick enough, Arsenal fans knew that they were in for a long night.

Having said that, Arsenal had their chances. After Walcott was felled in the box by Jonny Evans, Van Persie had the chance to level the scoreline only for his dreadful penalty to be saved by David De Gea. Had the Dutchman levelled the proceedings then, the game may not have slipped away as drastically as it did.

And if you don’t take your chances at Old Trafford, the Red Devils will punish you. The irrepressible Ashley Young trotted up the pitch soon after and unleashed a screamer from 20 yards out that bent past Szczesny and into the top left hand corner.

From then on, the flood gates were well and truly opened. Rooney made it 3-0 with a delightful freekick in to the top corner before Walcott somehow managed to squeeze a shot through De Gea’s legs to make it 3-1 before the break.

The Spanish goalkeeper had a decent game in goal but was once again culpable for conceding Arsenal’s first goal. If there was a chink in United’s armour, De Gea has to be it.

Arsenal threatened United in the first few minutes of the second half, prompting optimistic Arsenal fans to hope for what would have been an amazing comeback. However, Rooney dashed the Gunners’ hopes with another brilliantly executed free kick. Whatever Wenger said in the dressing room at half-time became irrelevant.

In a 6 minute blitz thereafter, Nani produced a cheeky dink over Szczesny to make it 5-1 before Park, who was barely on the pitch for 5 minutes, tucked the ball into the bottom of the net with a left foot finish.

Van Persie’s goal was scant consolation for the Gunners as Carl Jenkinson, who is clearly not ready to play week in week out for Arsenal yet, was sent off for hauling down Hernandez. Rooney sealed his hat-trick from the penalty spot before Young, who must surely be United’s man of the match despite Rooney’s hat-trick, finished the scoring with another sublime curler from the edge of the box.

So where do both teams go from here now?

For Manchester United, the skies, or Barcelona, seem to be the limit. Ruthless, free-flowing and intricate passing football played at a breakneck pace characterizes United’s play while promising youngsters in Welbeck, Cleverly, Jones and Smalling continue to shine.

For Arsenal, the pressure just keeps mounting. Lying 17th in the table with eight senior players out due to injuries and suspensions, a beckoning international week is not what they need as there is as good as a chance as any that key players such as Robin van Persie will return injured.

Furthermore, two wins from the last 14 matches since their Carling Cup meltdown suggest that their slump started way before the season begun.

Having said that, it is still early days and the footballing fratenity’s propensity to celebrate and panic is irrationally high. Time will tell if United’s class of 2011 is the greatest of them all but Wenger may not be able to stay that long to see that.

10 Conclusions: Arsenal vs Liverpool

Raul Meireles and Luis Suarez Share a Moment Together After Combining for Liverpool's Second. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images

-by D

1)      Liverpool were disciplined as they held their shape well and cut off Arsenal’s supply from the flanks, thus isolating a frustrated Robin Van Persie. Although Samir Nasri made a few dangerous forays through the middle, Reina was not really tested throughout. It was telling that a moment of ill-discipline cost Arsenal the game.

 

2)      Anyway, if anyone would like to know how M plays football, one does not have to look further than Jose Enrique.

 

Boasting a similarly muscular physique, the former Newcastle left-back put in an solid display- comfortably dealing with the threat of the swift but woeful Theo Walcott and consistently providing an attacking threat down the left flank. Liverpool’s left-back woes appear to be over.

 

You’re welcome M

 

3)      Shameless displays of guy love and back scratching aside, Liverpool were admittedly lucky to come away with the win.

 

Up till Frimpong’s unnecessary challenge, a makeshift Arsenal side matched Liverpool in every department. Whatever they lacked in experience certainly was not evident as Liverpool were restricted to futilely lumping the ball towards the direction of Andy Carroll.

 

If Van Persie had converted from 6 yards out and Balotelli’s twin did not lunge into Lucas (sounds wrong doesn’t it), Arsenal could have very well won the game. Still, discipline counts and pays off.

 

4)      And if they did, Thomas Vermaelen would have been the man-of-the-match. The Belgium international was bloody immense for the Gunners- snuffing out the much bigger Andy Carroll while guiding his makeshift backline that featured two 19-year-olds making their Barclays Premier League debuts.

 

Perhaps they biggest compliment one could pay him for his remarkable performance is that he suddenly made Arsenal ballsy. Who would have known.

 

5)      Speaking of ballsy-ness, Emmanuel Frimpong, Carl Jenkinson and Ignasi Miquel have lots of it. In Frimpong’s case, perhaps a bit too much.

 

Nevertheless the three 19-year-olds acquitted themselves well, putting up solid performances in their virgin Barclays Premier League game ( well frimpong played 30 minutes against Newcastle but let’s just take it as it’s his “first” time for a flowing sentence). Yes, Frimpong was brash. And yes Jenkinson played Suarez onside for the first goal. But we tend to forget how young these players are and their respective displays play testament to their undeniable talent.

 

Most importantly, they make us feel bad about ourselves. What were you doing at 19?

 

6)      And while we are on the topic of youngsters, Martin Kelly did pretty well didn’t he. Replacing the still slightly raw John Flanagan, Kelly carried on where he left off last season, when a hamstring injury curtailed his impressive run.

He kept Andrei Arshavin and Bacary Sagna quiet throughout while giving Liverpool attacking thrust on the right flank with surging runs. More importantly, he appears to be a better defender than Glen Johnson. The England international right-back should be worried for his spot in both the Liverpool and national team.

 

7)       Which is really a testament to Liverpool’s new-found squad depth. Even without Steven Gerrard, Fabio Aurelio and Glen Johnson, Dalglish was still able to put up a strong starting line-up and send on Raul Meireles and Luis Suarez off the bench, who proceeded to set up both goals.

 

Juxtaposed with last season when Liverpool could only muster Joe Cole and David Ngog to turn the tide, it’s a far, far cry in terms of quality. A pity that Alberto Aquilani was not given a chance though.

 

8)      It’s very presumptuous and premature but Andy Carroll doesn’t seem to fit in with Dalglish’s pass and move philosophy, which calls for Liverpool to play a high-tempo game with plenty of quick passes and swift movement.

 

Just like how the more mobile Hernandez and Welbeck are preferred over Berbatov over at Manchester United, Carroll may not be the man for Dalglish’s revolution. However, like I said, it’s very early and as such, I’d love to be proven wrong as the season goes by and Carroll gets fitter.

 

9)      My rage at Carroll stems from his pithy returns for my fantasy football league. No goals and assists and a bloody yellow card in two games for 10million pounds is really costing me. So forgive me if I do sound irrational.

 

10)  Back to the rational stuff. Without Luis Suarez, the Merseyside club appear to lack invention and penetration in the final third. An over-reliance on the Uruguay international to win them games may prove to be an issue.

 

While Steven Gerrard’s return may ease Liverpool’s dependence on Suarez to clinch matches, big money buys such as Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson must alleviate the burden. A two-man team, as we all know, brings you no where.

 

11)And it is not all gloom and doom for Arsenal. The Gunners were unlucky to leave the Emirates without a single point as a patched up side matched an expensively assembled Liverpool side blow for blow throughout. If not for Frimpong’s brashness and Aaron Ramsey’s terribly unfortunate own-goal, the result may have gone Arsenal’s way.

 

If Vermalean, Szczesny, Wilshere, Ramsey, Sagna, Song and Van Persie manage to stay fit while starlets such as Frimpong, Jenkinson and Miquel continue to develop Arsenal still could get something out of this season. It is still early days mind you.

 

12) Which is why Liverpool fans should not start to hail this game as the second coming. Again. Let’s take it one game at a time guys.

 

13) Does anyone else miss Linda Pizzutti?

 

10 Conclusions: Sunderland vs Newcastle

-by M

  • In a game that started off so promisingly for Sunderland, they must be left kicking themselves for not capitalizing on what was a whirlwind start for them. They were out of the blocks faster and were quicker to every ball and winning most of the challenges against Newcastle who appeared to be stunned.
  • Definitely a Newcastle penalty. Larsson may not have intentionally handled the ball but the reality of the matter was he denied what would have been a Newcastle goal. How the linesman missed that is one question only he can answer. Could it be because Sunderland were the home team? Or just maybe he had Larsson on his fantasy team.
  • It’s funny how quickly a game of football can be changed after one single event. It seemed as if Sunderland were a little rattled after nearly conceding a penalty that they backed off a little and allowed Newcastle into the game. From then on, it was a keenly contested game right to the final whistle.
  • Did anyone else catch a glimpse of that awkward moment when Sessegnon was kneeling in front of Pardew and Pardew had both his hands on his head? (you will, it will definitely be on one of the leading sports websites)
  • Ryan Taylor is a lucky, lucky boy. If he had connected with his elbow on Gyan in the first half, he would have undoubtedly been sent off. However, he escaped punishment and scored the winning goal. Newcastle fans must be silently relieved that Taylor did not make contact on Gyan with his flailing elbow and that Webb did not catch the Newcastle man red-handed.
  • How Cabaye got away with his challenge on Phil Bardsley I will never know. His studs were showing, he was going at speed and caught the Sunderland full-back. The only probable reason was that Webb did not want to send a player off so early in the game given the game was a derby.  That challenge anywhere else might have seen a straight red for the Frenchman.
  • So in a sense, Phil Bardsley’s second yellow was somewhat fortuitous. It was a similar challenge as Cabaye’s on Gutierrez. Studs showing, foot high, sliding in at speed. Bardsley should consider himself lucky it was not a straight red.
  • Mignolet’s positioning has to be questioned for Newcastle goal. He was caught in no man’s land and misjudged the flight of the ball completely. While it was a good delivery by Ryan Taylor, Mignolet should have done better.
  • What is Lee Cattermole’s purpose on the field? It seems as if his sole aim in the game is to hack down as many opposition players as possible. The ‘Makelele’ role has gained some prominence in recent years but Cattermole is no Makelele. How some England fans can call for Cattermole to be in their team is beyond belief.
  • That said, was waiting for something to happen with Cattermole and Barton on the pitch. Afterall, what’s a derby without a little scrap?

After the Spaniard, It Could Be the Croat…

-by M

“You either sell him, go out and bring three or four players in and have a better team, probably, in all honesty, or you keep him,” was Redknapp’s frank reply when quizzed about the future of his classy playmaker Luka Modric, who has been pursued by Chelsea this whole summer..

Modric himself has already clarified that he wants the move to Stamford Bridge.

“I would like to go to Chelsea. A lot of players would like to go there and play for Chelsea because it is one of the best clubs in the world, and so do I. I would like to play there.” 

He has made it quite clear hasn’t he?

Citing the allure of the Champions League and a desire to win trophies, his preference of Chelsea may not go down well with Spurs fans who are fierce London rivals with Andre Villas-Boas’ side.

Redknapp himself has been adamant that Modric was going “nowhere” during pre-season but his recent statement suggests a weakening of the club’s stance.

It is no wonder that Redknapp does not want to lose Modric, who has to be the strongest skinny fella in the Premier League (much like Messi in La Liga). He has an exceptional first-touch, keen spatial awareness, deft dribbling abilities and remarkable strength on and off the ball. Quite a spectacular player really( D’s personal favourite).

While Tottenham fans would undoubtedly be upset with losing a fan favourite and one of the classiest playmakers the club and Premier League have seen in recent times, it will not be all doom and gloom at White Hart Lane.

Unlike their London rivals Arsenal, Redknapp has shown that he is not shy to splash the cash on players if the need or opportunity arises.

Modric will certainly fetch a fee in the region of 30m and upwards given his reputation in the Premier League and also including the fact that they are selling to one of their rivals. This money should and will be reinvested in players that could see Tottenham challenge for a top 4 spot again.

Assou-Ekotto may have impressed last season but his defending has always been suspect. A quality left-back such as Leighton Baines may be exactly what Spurs need to reinforce their backline. Given Everton’s inability to generate funds, a generous offer may tempt Everton to offload their player of the year and arguably England’s best left-back to Spurs.

Redknapp has also revealed that the team is in the process of bringing in Emmanuel Adebayor and Lassana Diarra. As unlikeable as both characters are given their affiliations to Spurs’ London rivals Arsenal, the duo boast quality and experience at the top level.

Spurs desperately need some steel in their midfield and a reliable 15-20 goals a season target man who is able to lead the line. Diarra and Adebayor fit the bill.

Also, Redknapp has hardly tapped into the transfer market this off-season, he could very well bring in a couple of new faces to add depth to his squad, especially since some of his players are frequent visitors to the treatment table (see Ledley King, Tom Huddlestone and last season, Van der Vaart).

More importantly, you know your squad needs a revamp when Jermaine Jenas is near the first-team.

Another key consideration for Spurs would be to ensure that if any deal is to be done, it should be done with enough time for Redknapp to reinforce his team. A repeat of the Berbatov saga should not occur, no matter how much the price may inflate. Redknapp himself has insisted that chairman Daniel Levy would not let that happen. “He won’t do that, no chance,” the Spurs manager stated.

With all that said and done, it still seems more likely that Modric would be at White Hart Lane at least till the January transfer window. As the transfer deadline approaches, it will be make or break time for Chelsea within the next few days if they are to snap up the highly rated Croat.

Either way, Spurs fans should still have reason for optimism for the upcoming season. If Bale is able to replicate his early season form of 2010/11 and Van der Vaart maintains his fitness, Tottenham will be right up there with the big boys come May 2012.

The Silver Lining of Football

-by D

Football is a major part of most of our lives. After all, if you are reading this article, you are probably a football fan.

And like a good number of football fans, the Barclays Premier League is likely to be the league that one follows.

While top European leagues such as the Bundesliga and La Liga may arguably be superior to the Barclays Premier League in terms of competitiveness and technical ability respectively, England’s top-flight football still commands the greatest worldwide following.

Therefore, a palpable sense of disappointment could be felt after the release of the following statement from the Premier League and Football League with regards to the horrendous riots in London and several parts of England.

“We are in ongoing discussions with our London-based clubs, the Metropolitan Police and statutory authorities in regard to the staging of the coming weekend’s fixtures in the capital.

“The Metropolitan Police has conveyed to us the dynamic nature of the current situation and with that in mind all parties will review the situation on Thursday and make a further public statement at that time.

And following the postponement of the Everton-Tottenham game, where does that leave us poor souls? How will our fantasy teams survive? Will we face yet another weekend of replaying YouTube videos of last season’s best goals?

It has been 76 days since that cracking Champions League final in Wembley and whilst international-football tournaments, pre-season games and transfer gossip have occupied us since, nothing is quite the same as the Barclays Premier League is it?

Owner of QPR, Bernie Ecclestone, is equally disappointed as most fans.

“It [the postponement] sends a terrible message to the rest of the world,” Ecclestone told the BBC.

“Would we want to take a risk? It’s a difficult decision to make.”

Ecclestone’s worries are understandable; partially given that his London based club would be raring to kick-off their first top flight appearance in 15 years. It is exciting as much as it is lucrative for the club.

While more disappointment may ensue for club owners and fans alike, there is a slight measure of comfort that one can feel from the disruption- a display of societal awareness and maturity by a few footballing figures.

The England defender is an active participant on Twitter

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand deserves praise for measured remarks made on Twitter following the cancellation of a scheduled international friendly.

“England vs Holland game is off, good call. Who wants to see a game of football when our country is in turmoil,” the former England captain tweeted.

“I can’t tell the youths exactly what to do but stealing tv’s + trainers+burning innocent peoples houses+shops aint solving nothing at all.”

In juxtaposition, footballers have used Twitter in petulant and irresponsible manners before -Ryan Babel’s photo of Howard Webb in a Manchester United Jersey and Joey Barton’s public lashing of the Newcastle management come to mind.

Of course, the ridiculous amounts of money they earn perpetuate the general impression of Barclays Premier League footballers as, well, twits.

Which is why “rioferdy5’s” comments are refreshing because they give some hope that they are levelheaded individuals around in top-flight football.

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, whose comments about referees and injuries are sometimes construed as whining, portrayed a similar level of class.

“I hope it won’t affect this first fixture, but we’ll be governed by the authorities,” Bruce told Sky Sports News.

“It’s a problem which society has got and I’ll echo what everybody else thinks who’s seen this outrage.”

“It’s sad and disappointing to see people on the rampage like that. I hope the Premier League can start and bring a bit of peace and normality to it, because you don’t want to see these scenes we’ve witnessed.

There is a sense of respect and understanding that the tumult in England is way bigger than football. Regardless of how massive English football is, this shared acceptance of what takes precedence in such trying times is pretty commendable.

Cynics may dismiss the reactions as PR-friendly statements or simply remarks that any civic-minded citizen would echo. In fact, they very well might be.

Rather, such sensibility stands in stark contrast with summer incidents such as Mario Balotelli’s puerile bottle-throwing following his substitution that was induced by an audacious but failed back-flick, the ridiculous post-match brawl following the Venezuela-Peru Copa America semi-final, the FIFA bribery allegations and of course, overly self-indulgent transfer sagas.

Eventually, Barclays Premier League games will go on and the childishness will return. Yet, it is warming to know that there are plenty of mature heads and humility in football still.

For many of the innocent individuals whose lives have been tarnished by acts of sheer irresponsibility and mindlessness, football will not fill the voids in their lives.

However, for English football fans and more importantly, for those affected, football will soon return and provide a welcome distraction.

And that is a silver lining we can all look towards to.