Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Luis Suárez Crime Sheet!

Liverpool's £22.8 million forward Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz hasn't won over many fans outside of Merseyside since his move to the English Premier League in January 2011. Last season he spent nearly as many games suspended as he did score goals. The Uruguayan undoubtedly has talent, but he's spent more of his time rolling around on the grass than he has dribbling the football.

The Liverpool striker found himself in hot water again last Sunday when his bite on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic (right) sparked universal condemnation and resulted in the Football Association slapping a ten game ban on the tempestuous Uruguayan.

Luiz Suárez first gave a glimpse of his dark side aged 15, when he was sent off for head-butting a referee and breaking the official’s nose.

Since then, the striker, nicknamed "El Pistolero" meaning "The Gunman" has scored goals and courted controversy wherever he has played.

Here is a list of the the life and crimes of football's serial offender!

February 2007 - Suárez makes his senior international debut for Uruguay on 8th February 2007 in a 3–1 win against Colombia. He is sent off in the eighty-fifth minute after receiving a second yellow card for dissent.

November 2007 - Internal suspension at Ajax for half-time bust-up with team-mate Albert Luque over a free-kick.

July 2010 - During the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, Suárez (right centre) prevents Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah from scoring in the final minute with a deliberate handball on the goal-line and is subsequently sent off. A penalty was awarded but missed by Asamoah Gyan and footage showed Suarez celebrating on the sidelines. Uruguay eventually went through to the last four on penalties.

July 2010 - In a match for Ajax against FC Twente with the game approaching half-time Suárez loses possession on the edge of Twente's box and tries to win back the ball with a 'shocking' tackle on Cheick Tiote, and in the process feigns injury himself. The referee didn't hesitate in showing the Ajax skipper a straight red card.

November 2010 - Playing for Ajax versus title contenders PSV Eindhoven in November 2010, team mate Rasmus Lindgren had been shown a red card for a reckless tackle on Ibrahim Afellay. A scrap ensued and Suárez decided to bite Otman Bakkal on his shoulder (below). A subsequent seven game ban followed.

October 2011 - Everton's Jack Rodwell is shown a red card for a 'fair tackle' on Luis Suárez. However, the Liverpool player goes down like he'd been shot and the Everton midfielder sees red, which was later overturned on appeal.

October 2011 - Suárez racially abuses Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a Premier League match at Anfield on 15th October. Suárez is later found guilty by the FA and is banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 ($60,000).

December 2011 - After a 1-0 defeat at Fulham in December 2011, Luis Suárez is seen making an offensive gesture (raising his middle finger) in the direction of the home fans as he walks off the pitch. During the match the Uruguay international was subjected to chants of "cheat" after referee, Kevin Friend, turned down a penalty appeal when he went down following a challenge on him by Brede Hangeland.
Suárez is subsequently given a one match ban, immediately prior to his FA suspension for racial abuse coming into effect.

February 2012 - In Suárez's first game back following his eight game suspension for racially abusing Evra he clashes with Tottenham defender Michael Dawson. Dawson beats Luis Suárez to a ball down the line and concedes a throw in. As Dawson falls over in making the clearance, Suárez decides to go over to the defender and kick him whilst on the ground. If kicking Michael Dawson wasn't enough, Luis Suárez also puts his boot into Scott Parker's stomach in the same game.

February 2012 - Manchester United and Liverpool meet in the first match between the two clubs since the Suárez/Evra racial abuse incident, and much hype surrounds the game. With the chance to put the racism row behind him ahead of the big match Luis Suárez decides not to shake hands with Patrice Evra and he make the headlines for all the wrong reasons once more. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says: "For a club with their history, I'd get rid of him, I really would." 

October 2012 - Suárez dives in front of David Moyes to celebrate a goal after the Everton manager had accused him of diving.

January 2013 - Suárez is involved in controversy when his handball directly leads to him scoring the decisive goal in Liverpool's 2–1 win over Mansfield Town in the FA Cup third round tie at Mansfield on the 6th January 2013.

February - 2013 Luis Suárez's indiscipline again sullied another excellent individual performance in Liverpool's Europa League win against Zenit St.Petersburg, as the Uruguayan stamps on Zenit defender Tomáš Hubočan (below).
Neither the referee nor the official beside the goal apparently saw the incident, and UEFA decided to take no further action, despite having the option of reviewing the incident on video after the game.

March 2013 - In a heated battle with Manchester United, Liverpool's Jamie Carragher attempted a nasty challenge on Rafael only for the Brazilian to commit a terrible foul on Lucas just seconds later. This resulted in a scrap between both sets of players in which Luis Suárez did something commonly associated with girls, and pulls Rafael's hair.

March 2013 - Suárez appears to punch Chile defender Gonzalo Jara on the chin during a World Cup qualifier. The Liverpool striker was jostling with defender Jara during his country’s 2-0 defeat in Chile when he struck out with his fist. Argentine referee Nestor Pitana took no action at the time, but Suárez could still face a lengthy ban should any retrospective action be taken by FIFA. be continued!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Who would want to own a Palace?

With Crystal Palace Football Club’s on field performances stuttering badly of late it seems everyone associated with the South London Club is in the firing line. There is a definite divide amongst the fans of the the club as to who and/or where the significant blame lies – is it with with the players, the management, the owners.......or perhaps, although far less likely with the Kayla the Eagle, The Crystal Cheerleaders or the guy in the Palace scarf who walks his dog around Ashburton Park at 7am every weekday morning - everybody is ostensibly a potential scapegoat!

As a write on the back of another ‘pointless’ trip to Ipswich on Tuesday night and previous docile displays against the likes of Brighton, Birmingham, Blackpool and Barnsley it was interesting to study the Club's financial accounts that were published this week.

For the period July 2011 to June 2012, the accounts show a net loss of £2.2m, but that figure is down by more than £7m on 2010/2011 and that the Eagles' turnover has risen by £2.3m, and this does not include monies from the sale of Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United. Wages for players, managers, coaches, administration and commercial staff are up by nearly £3m, but directors Steve Parish, Steve Browett and Martin Long (pictured above) took no salary.

Although it is fair to say that the financial accounts of a football club are far more complicated than they appear above, it is a credit to the business acumen of the consortium ‘CPFC2010’ who purchased Crystal Palace FC three years ago, when the club was on its knees. They are carefully managing the club's finances and are indeed reducing the debt, so as not to put the club in any kind of financial risk, unlike some of the other Championship clubs.

To put it into perspective, in the last financial year Palace spent 78 per cent of their turnover on wages, Middlesbrough 119 per cent, Nottingham Forest 119 per cent, Leicester City 130 per cent and at the other end of the table, relegated Bristol City were quite literally flushing money away, as they spent an incredible 157 per cent of their turnover on wages.

I want to get away from discussing our current ownership situation and for the purposes of this article focus on some histrionics that came about not once, but twice in the last ten years regarding ‘rumoured takeovers’ that actually made the front pages of some newspapers.

Daily Star - 23/3/2011 - 7 months before his death!
Back in the summer of 2004 Colonel Gaddafi, known as 'The Mad Dog of Tripoli' was reportedly contemplating purchasing Crystal Palace, who had just been promoted to the Premier League. Gaddafi was increasingly keen to join a growing cosmopolitan group of club proprietors in the Premiership at the time, including Mohamed Al Fayed at Fulham and Russian oil baron, Roman Abramovich at Chelsea.

The offer at the time was expected to come through the state-owned Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company, (Lafico) the body that was used by Gaddafi to buy a 5.31 per cent share in Juventus, the  Turin-based football club.

The then chairman of Palace Simon Jordan was was making no secret of the fact that he wanted to sell the club saying – "I don't enjoy football anymore" and declared to reporters "I have been told that Gaddafi and his son are interested in acquiring Palace. If Gaddafi's money was able to progress Palace and allow them to be a successful football club then one would have to take that under consideration”

It is interesting to note that a year earlier one of Gadaffi’s seven sons was signed as a player by the Italian club Perugia. The 30-year-old managed only 15 minutes of first-team action however, before he was suspended for failing a drugs test. Also when his son was playing for the Libyan national side, his team-mates had to allow him to take all the free-kicks and corners he wanted, under the orders of the manager!

Obviously nothing came of Gadaffi’s apparent interest, and only a few days after the story broke Mr Gaddafi denied knowing anything about the rumours linking him to the purchase of Crystal Palace. However it is a pretty frightening thought when you sit back and try and envisage with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at the helm, how he along with his family and his Libyan 'representatives' might have gone about running the South London Club, had a deal gone ahead!

Gadaffi may have been the most controversial suitor to show an interest in acquiring ‘The Eagles’ but he is not the only high profile public figure to do so in the last ten years.

Back in March 2010 with the the bankrupt club in chaos, Rap mogul P Diddy (right) was planning to splash some of his reported £360million on the Selhurst Park side. As mad as it seemed, the multi-millionaire American wanted to invest in an English football club, and it was Palace that caught his bling-obsessed eye.
Why Palace you may well ask? Well according to insiders he 'liked the name,' which could be considered an innovative if not bizarre reason to throw your money at a football club in administration.

Brendan Guilfoyle, administrator of the bankrupt Championship side, said at the time he "would willingly fly to New York to meet him to discuss a purchase".

Mr Guilfoyle, of The P&A Partnership financial firm, said he was "a big hip-hop fan" and would be "delighted if P Diddy wanted to buy Crystal Palace."

Diddy it is reported actually sat down and had a meeting in London to discuss a possible swoop for the then beleaguered London club. With the finance in place, it was just left for him to decide whether or not to go ahead with the deal!

A few months later P Diddy, real name Sean Combs confirmed that somebody "had looked at it" for him, but "it just wasn't the right business move for me at the time."

Perhaps P Diddy thought he was buying an actual Palace made out of Crystal, and with P Diddy in charge the Palace fans’ might have been 'treated' to a rap version of 'Glad All Over,' the song adopted by the fans of the club as their anthem in the 1960's.

When you think of what might have been as a Palace fan, are you not relieved that the club is now owned by ‘CPFC2010’ and in a safe pair of hands, or would you rather the Club had been bought by a ‘terrorist’ or a ‘rapper?'

As former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan entitled his recent book, ‘Be Careful What you Wish For’ – never has a phrase been more apt in the rollercoaster that is Crystal Palace Football Club, both on and off the field!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Dindane Dong – Could Aruna hold the key to the Palace!

The 2012/13 football season is reaching its climax and now it’s time for Crystal Palace Football Club to pull one final rabbit out of the hat!

Crystal Palace’s recent form has dipped with 'The Eagles' taking just 2 points from their last five Championship fixtures, conceding 10 goals and scoring just twice in the process. Palace and hitman Glenn Murray have not scored since our 2-2 draw with Leeds at Selhurst Park back on the 9th March.

A month on and this poor run of form threatens to destabilise Palace’s promotion push. It looks very much like Palace will have to settle for a play-off place at best, but I think the Club still need another seven points from their remaining five games to be sure.

So what can the boys from London SE25 do to make sure that this nine month long season ends with a bang and at least the opportunity to compete for a place in the financial promise land that is the Premier League!
A new TV deal coming into play next season will see the bottom placed top flight side still receive around £60million in TV cash.

Enter Mr Aruna Dindane.......!

Dindane is an experienced 32 year-old Ivory Coast international, who plyed his trade with RSC Anderlecht in the Belgium league between 2000 and 2005, helping the club win two league titles and winning the Belgium League Player of the Year award in 2003. He then joined French Ligue 1 club RC Lens in 2005, where he spent five years which also included a loan spell with then Premier League outfit Portsmouth during the 2009/10 season, where he scored 10 goals in 24 Premier League appearances and helped the Fratton Park club to the 2010 FA Cup Final. He left Pompey at the end of the 2010 season and spent two-and-a-half years in the Middle East, before being released by Qatari side Al-Sailiya Sport Club in December 2012.

Dindane has represented his country at the 2006 African Cup of Nations held in Egypt. He was also selected for the Ivorian squad for the 2008 African Cup of Nations hosted by Ghana.
He currently has 67 international caps to his name and has scored 11 goals for his country, where he often partners Didier Drogba (right) in attack.
He also participated in the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups, in Germany and South Africa respectively.

On 23rd March 2013, Dindane signed for Crystal Palace until the end of this season, after eventually receiving international clearance from the Middle East. On joining he clearly lacked match fitness and only made his first outing in a Palace shirt as an over-age player in the Under-21 development match versus Stoke City at Tooting and Mitcham's Imperial Fields last night, but he did play 70 minutes and more importantly got on the score sheet!

Ipswich Town at Portman Road is our next league game on Tuesday 16th   April, so the Ivorian has another 10 days to improve on his fitness. The Crystal Palace gaffer Ian Holloway is a student of the game and a deep thinker, and although I do not claim for one moment to be his eyes or ears I expect Dindane to play a part in this crucial fixture. I think Holloway sees something in Dindane that is lacking in the side at the moment. Dindane boasts a wealth of experience but that is not an area where I feel the squad is lacking with the likes of Phillips, Murray, Ramage, Delaney, Jedinak, Wilbraham, Dobbie and Speroni on the books!

It may be just as a goal threat, but equally ‘Ollie’ may feel Dindane can provide us with some 'fresh guile' or possibly something different tactically.

Dindane was training with Palace before he was officially signed. Holloway has been trying hard to get his fitness levels up. He may have featured against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Easter Monday if it had not been for an issue with red tape. There are only five league games to go and I cannot see why the gaffer would exert the amount of time and energy into Dindane, if he did not have a game plan that involved the Ivorian striker!

Whether he starts in place of Glenn Murray who is struggling with a hip injury as I speak, plays him alongside Murray in a 4-4-2 formation or behind Murray in a 4-4-1-1 formation that we have used frequently and fruitfully this season remains to be seen. He may alternatively be used as an impact substitute, particularly if we need a goal with the clock ticking down.

So what can the Palace fans truly expect from Aruna Dindane?
Well realistically and honestly, absolutely nothing! He has only played 14 competitive games since January 2012, and none since December 2012, that was before last night.

However now and then when you least expect it you can be holding the key to the ignition! Palace need a spark from somewhere right now, and in Dindane perhaps this skillfull, powerful and experienced striker can be dusted off and a like sparkling gem and be subsequently restored to its former glory.

Dindane (right) has nothing to lose and everything to gain! At present he only has a two-month contract. Could he inject that flash of brilliance, a magical on-field moment or two that could ignite the tail end of what has so far been a wonderful season for a Club, that were one of the favourites for relegation at the start of the season.

If Dindane can prove himself and help guide the Londoner’s to the Premier League I am pretty sure he could secure himself a lucrative deal with Palace next season, and perhaps become a fans’ favourite.

'Roy of the Rovers' material it may sound, but that’s what football dreams are all let’s just wait and see!

As Oscar Hammerstein once famously said: “If you don't have a dream, how are you going to make a dream come true?”

Monday, April 01, 2013

Babe of the Month - Sexy Laura Robson

Laura Robson in action at Wimbledon, London, England - 5th July 2012

Laura Robson was born 21st January 1994 in Melbourne, Australia. The Australian born British tennis player is the no.2 ranked female player in Britain. Laura and her family moved from Melbourne to Singapore when she was 18 months old, and then to the United Kingdom when she was six.

Laura entered a junior tennis academy at the age of seven. She signed with management company Octagon when she was 10, with Adidas at age 11, and also signed a racket deal with Wilson Sporting Goods.

Robson's first tournament on the junior International Tennis Federation (ITF) tour was in May 2007, where she went from the qualifying draw of the tournament to the quarter-finals. She reached the final of two other tournaments in 2007, and won her first tournament in October.

Robson competed in her first junior grand slam at the Wimbledon girls' event in 2008, as an unseeded player, aged just 14. As the youngest player in the tournament, she beat first seed Melanie Oudin on her way to the finals, where she defeated third seed Noppawan Lertcheewakarn. Her victory made her the first British player to win the girls' event since Annabel Croft in 1984. Robson then went on and turned professional in 2008.

Her first match on the WTA tour was courtesy of a wildcard into the 2008 Fortis Championships in Luxembourg City.

Robson returned to the junior tour for the first half of 2009. On 9th June, Wimbledon announced that Robson received a wildcard for the Ladies' Singles event at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships. She faced former World No.5 and 2002 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Daniela Hantuchová in the first round but lost.

Robson began 2010 playing with Andy Murray in the Hopman Cup, as part of Great Britain's first team in the tournament since 1992. Robson and Murray made it to the final of the tournament, but narrowly lost to Spain's Martinez Sánchez and Tommy Robredo.

On 21st September 2010 Robson announced that she was to split with her coach Martijn Bok. In 2011 Robson hired a new coach, Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou, and moved her working base to Paris, but her season was disrupted by injury.

Robson has appeared at least once in the main draw of every Grand Slam, with her biggest success coming at the 2012 US Open where she made the fourth round. In doing so, she became the first British woman since Samantha Smith at Wimbledon in 1998 to reach the fourth round of a major tournament. At the 2012 Guangzhou Women's Open, Robson became the first British woman since Jo Durie, in 1990, to reach a WTA main-tour final, before losing to Hsieh Su-wei in three sets.

Laura Robson - Fed Cup Europe/Africa Group One - Previews
Laura Robson of Great Britain posing for a picture before the official team dinner on 5th February 2013 at the Sport Hotel in Eilat, Israelahead of their Fed Cup Group B matches.  

Laura won a silver medal playing with Andy Murray in the mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics.

In August 2012 Robson changed coaches once more. Željko Krajan a Croatian tennis coach and former professional tennis player began coaching Laura.

She was named WTA Newcomer of the Year for 2012 and along with Heather Watson, won 'Young Sportswoman of the Year' at the 2012 Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards. She was also nominated for Sports Journalists' Association 'Sportswoman of the Year' and the William Hill 'Sportswoman of the Year.

At the start of 2013 Robson reached the top 50 for the first time in her career. She followed this with her first victory at the 2013 Australian Open with a convincing straight sets victory over Melanie Oudin. In the second round she played former Wimbledon champion, and fellow left-hander, Petra Kvitová. Robson came back after losing the first set to beat Kvitová in a three-hour match, to set up a third-round meeting with Sloane Stephens. After stopping for several shoulder treatments, Robson was eventually beaten in two sets.

Last week at Miami in the singles Robson reached the second round before losing to Alizé Cornet. In the doubles Laura Robson was given a wildcard to play with American Lisa Raymond. The pair reached the Sony Open Women's doubles final, beating the World No. 1 pairing of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in straight sets in the semi-finals, before losing to Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik in yesterday's final.

The results as this tournament saw Robson reach career-high singles and doubles rankings of 42 and 90 respectively.
Laura Robson - Burberry Spring Summer 2012 Womenswear Show - Arrivals
Laura Robson attends the Burberry Spring Summer 2012 Womenswear Show at Kensington Gardens on 19th September 2011 in London, England.

Laura Robson - Biography
Born: 21st January 1994 (Melbourne, Australia)
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Plays: Left-handed
Coach: Zeljko Krajan (since September 2012)
Fitness trainer: Dejan Vojnovic (since November 2012)
Trains at: National Tennis Centre, Roehampton, 
UK Highest Singles Ranking: Highest ranking: No. 42 (1st April 2013)
Highest Doubles Ranking: No. 90 (1st April 2013)
Racket: WilsonBrand partners: Wilson, adidas, Virgin Active
Prize money to date: $634,872.

You can follow Laura Robson on twitter and facebook