Category Archives: Editorials
Arsenal have been receiving much press of recent, mostly in the headlines amid fears their season can crumble if they fail to secure the services of a top striker. With Olivier Giroud missing last weekends FA Cup clash against North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur it was up to Theo Walcott to lead the line upfront as the lone striker. Doing a decent enough job as the backup until he had to be stretchered off at the end of the game – leaving his team down to just 10-men to close out the 2-0 victory.
Yet nobody expected to hear the news of a 6 month layoff, which was revealed at the start of the week. Since Arsene Wenger has been forced to step up his plans of bringing in a striker to help his injury stricken, paper-thin squad with back-up striker Nicklas Bendtner also out injured, main man Giroud said to be ill and Lukas Podolski still recovering from his own injury spell.
It’s been the reverse for Arsenal this time though with young gunner Serge Gnabry making headlines on the front page of German newspaper Bild. The headline read “Dortmund hat Gnabry schon beobchtet – Klopp heiß auf Arsenals Super-Bubi” (“Dortmund have scouted Gnabry – Klopp hot on Arsenal’s Super Bubi”).
As unlikely as this seems, it’s still a huge bomb in the middle of a January transfer window in which the Arsenal manager recently branded a “distraction”. The last thing the Gunners need at the moment is to lose another forward thinking player. Although the German is still young, he has proven his worth to the club in the recent derby victory over Spurs.
The January Transfer window is always hell to find any top players and Arsene is never one to make a rash decision. Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata still seems to top the long wish-list, which includes Fulham’s 32 year-old Bulgarian Dimitar Berbatov along with Julian Draxler (initially reported last year). Even Demba Ba and Alexandre Pato are in the mix.
With the current injury list piling up, for Arsenal reinforcing is no longer just an option it has now become a priority.
Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)
Basketball superstar LeBron James has confirmed that he is in talks with David Beckham about investing in the former England captain’s planned Miami MLS franchise. James, 28, won back-to-back NBA titles in Miami with the Heat and his consideration comes from the belief that a football team would be very popular in the city.
“David has become a good friend of mine. There’s interest on both sides” he told South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Beckham, 38, has the right to buy an expansion MLS team for a discounted price of just $25 million as part of his previous contract to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy. An investment in a Miami expansion team at a $25 million valuation would mean James is getting a huge discount. Also, all three MLS television deals expire at the end of 2014 and given the competition for live sports programming the league will reap considerably more than the $28 million a year it currently averages from the three networks.
It’s no surprise LeBron James and Jay Z are such good friends because as influential an entrepreneur Jay is to his Hip-Hop peers, LeBron is as much the equivalent in the NBA. Aside from his lucrative sponsorship deals, such as Nike, LeBron is quite the businessman.
New information for me was the revelation that this wouldn’t be his first dabble into sports investment. LeBron already has a minority stake in the Premier League at Liverpool Football Club as part of a partnership with the club’s owners Fenway Sports Group. FSG paid $476 million for Liverpool in 2010 and this April Forbes valued them at $651 million.
“I think this is a great town for soccer,” James said of Beckham’s preferred base for his team. “There’s a lot of soccer players, there’s great youth soccer players here and people love the city as well. That definitely would help.” James added that he had learned more about football since becoming associated with Liverpool. “I’ve grown to the point where I know exactly what’s going on when I’m watching the game,” he said.
Although the MLS has previously failed with Florida based franchises, with the assistance of star power like LeBron and Beckham, coupled with the league’s next television deal, the next incarnation in Miami should make a winning investment, especially given the discounted expansion fee!
Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)
What is Hip-Hop? Since his College Dropout debut in 2004, Kanye West has driven you to ask yourself this question. Kanye manages to stay relevant with his unpredictable nature. From Jesus Walks to his choice of fashion to 808 & Heartbreak’s, he is forever reinventing himself. And with an array of talent on his record label he continues to push the envelope.
In Big Sean, Pusha T and himself he caters to all aspects of the genre. Having a back-packer and street rapper on your label seems to be the perfect formula for success which Kanye has executed perfectly. Along with the likes of Common, Travi$ Scott, Teyana Taylor, CyHi The Prynce, etc. – Ye seems to have the full package on his roster.
From listening to Maybach Music’s boss Ricky Rozay on the Juan Epstein podcast, I realised just how hard Kanye’s grind has been. He had been behind the scenes for years architecting some of the genres biggest hits and not to forget, along with Just Blaze, the majority of the Roc-A-Fella catalogue. Jay Z’s most notable work to date came with his assistance. This was the times way before he would even be credited for his beat production, choruses or feint adlibs.
When Jay-Z said “I turned a man to a GOAT” he really wasn’t lying. With Ye’s none stop work-rate, he almost single handedly forced himself into the upper echelon of artists. Although always witty, in my opinion, Kanye has never been the best lyricist but his greatness is undeniable. No one in the genre has pushed the boundaries more than Mr. West. Even by naming his daughter North West.
And as for his most recent media coverage – i.e. Paparazzi, Jimmy Kimmel, Justin Timberlake – Kanye West has been ranting for his whole career, it’s just that now with the platform he’s on you can’t help but acknowledge his presence.
Late last year we were finally granted the gift of a G.O.O.D music compilation in Cruel Summer, then into the new year we get a surprise drop from the label head himself in the critically acclaimed Yeezus then his protege Big Sean releases a solid sophomore project for the summer with Hall Of Fame, so what more could we really need? Some King Push!
Executive producing Pusha T’s debut solo studio album means that Mr. West’s hustle truly never stops. He puts his heart into his projects which he made clear in his recent interview with Zane Lowe. Whether it be music, fashion or Kim Kardashian – Kanye’s passion and dedication always shines through.
Now in my opinion, Yeezus is still my favourite album to drop in 2013 – which has to be the greatest year in Hip-Hop to date – but Pusha isn’t far off with his “album of the year” claims. It’s no coincidence that Yeezy’s had his hand in some of the best music this year. He strives for greatness and it’s evident from the outcome of his work.
With his new album cover designs (or lack thereof) and 10 song policy, the concept is clear… Less is more!
An unapologetic cadence in his memoirs of luxury living funded by the streets. Often labelled ‘the last street rapper’ to me Pusha T is much more than that. His impeccable lyricism has allowed him to be about the only rapper to get away with rapping solely on one topic for 10+ years. But in this album you hear a maturity in Pusha’s voice, although he’ll never stray away from his tales of ‘Blow’, he has certainly graduated from a drug dealer to Mr. Trick Bag as he often refers to himself.
Now although he would be referred to as a ‘street rapper’, his fan-base far exceeds that of just a street rapper. He has his loyal street followers but since his Star Trak days with The Neptunes he’s had some that would be more unlikely like university students and hipsters (maybe with assistance from Tyler, The Creator). “Who else could put the hipsters with felons and thugs!”
The length of delay that surrounded My Name Is My Name never dampened my anticipation. Being pushed back several times only made my hunger for Pusha’s first album post-Clipse heighten. But My skepticism over the quality was put to bed once I watched the King Push video along with hearing that infectious beat. More importantly, as the intro to the album, the opening words are “This is my time!”.
His Clipse partner was always the more moral of the two, finally giving in to his conscience and turning to a more positive style of rap. Even stating in an interview “My brother gives you what you want, I give you what you need”. But King Push was unrelenting with shying away from his dark past. His wordplay on the topic often gives it an ulterior meaning, none more intricate than the Pharrell assisted album outro ‘S.N.I.T.C.H’ about a childhood friend.
On the album, Pusha T plays with multiple styles and flows reminiscent of the classic Clipse album Hell Hath No Fury. On that album it was his elder brother
Malice No Malice who switched sounds repetitively throughout. It was stated that there was a 1994-99 influence on the album, none more evident than on the Kelly Rowland featured Let Me Love You where I was almost certain it was Ma$e and not Pusha T on the track. This almost felt like a Part 2 of Ma, I Don’t Love Her from the Clipse 2002 album Lord Willin’.
Essentially with all that said whether it be Yeezus, Pusha T’s, Jay Z’s or even Drake’s, J. Cole’s or Wale’s as album of the year candidate, Kanye’s imprint on the Hip-Hop genre is sure to be somewhere – subtly or outright – influencing our decisions.
Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)
The Pep Guardiola era is well under way at Bayern Munich, picking up from where Juup Heynckes left off may prove to be a harder feat for some but then again, challenges such as this is what puts Pep Guardiola higher than most on the managerial spectrum. His signing of Mario Gotze from closest adversaries Borussia Dortmund seemed to signify a no remorse attitude at Bayern Munich, taking away his closest rivals most valuable asset. And the Spaniard has struck gold again by signing yet another of Jurgen Klopp’s star men, this time Robert Lewandowski, arguably the most clinical number 9 in world football today.
The Pole whose contract runs out at the end of the season confirmed the move yesterday after being questioned if the inevitable was taking place, as to which he responded “Yes, because then I can officially sign a contract. Officially, I can only say something in January. At this moment it is too early. We still have to wait a bit”.
Early reports are suggesting that Lewandowski will indeed complete his controversial transfer in January, however a realistic thought on the matter would have most believing that the man who hit four past Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final in April and was also linked with both Manchester clubs and Chelsea, will move on a free next season to avoid being cup-tied in both cup competitions, furthermore meaning being excluded from the Champions League.
Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)
In a rather dull opening to Manchester United’s season under new manager David Moyes it could be argued that there has been only two things to have kept fans content so far. The impressive form and work rate of Wayne Rooney, following months and months of paper talk and speculation surrounding the England striker’s future at Old Trafford.
The second is the emergence of youngster Adnan Januzaj who looks to be quite a formidable talent. The technically gifted Brussel’s born playmaker has all the fundamental qualities to be a success under David Moyes, should the Scotsman choose to use him efficiently. The Albanian-Kosovan teen has pace, is heavily composed on the ball for someone of his age, is more than confident and courageous enough to take players on and can pick out a pinpoint pass, with his cultured left-foot.
As a United fan I am so intrigued and excited to see what the future holds for United’s most exciting young talent. With the likes of Juventus, Barcelona and Manchester City observing Januzaj’s development, with an option of signing the 18 year old through the bosman ruling, United need to act fast to ensure that one of Europe’s finest talents remains at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future before his contract runs out at the end of the season. And with the side lacking some sort of creativity in the midfield, now is a better time than any to exploit the world to the talent that is Adnan Januzaj.
Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)
Watching the Ukraine vs England game was virtually like watching paint dry, a very dull coloured paint in fact. If I’m being perfectly honest I could barely bring myself to watch the full 90 mins, instead I opted to grab something to eat, grab a drink or two, check out the timeline on Twitter, everything and anything to divert and less engage myself to the bore draw that took place on Tuesday night. Now let’s not fault Ukraine they gave it their all, vying to get those vital three points to put themselves in contention for an automatic qualification spot, at the expense of their Tuesday night rivals.
For England however, the plot was simple on Hodgson’s behalf, scupper out any goalscoring opportunites created by Ukraine and hang on for 90mins. Ok Ukraine rarely threatened Joe Hart and gave English fans heart attacks but there was really only one team looking to get the three points. With a midfield trio of Jack Wilshere, Steven Gerrard and newly established centurion Frank Lampard, England on paper should have been able to create something for the forward players, Theo Walcott and Ricky Lambert.
But typically of England they struggled to string three passes together, instead the tendencies to go long seemed to have lured every English player on the field, a trait that we have all become too familiar with. With no Wayne Rooney or Danny Welbeck to stretch the defence all focus was towards England’s latest target man Lambert. Despite the talk of England needing to alternate their playing style and adapting to the modern day forms of actually playing attractive football, Hodgson still relied on his tried and tested formula.
But that’s not what irritated me, with the option of making changes to offer something different to the table, Hodgson decided to bring on Ashley Young in a defensive role and was later joined by Tom Cleverley, whose job was to sit back and offer some support and energy to the tired defensive legs of England’s midfield. But that’s where the main problem lies for England, 80mins into the game Ukraine are bound to be a bit wary, bring on some quicker and exciting legs to give the Ukrainians something to think about. Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend were two of England’s most in-form players going into both qualifiers but were hardly given a look in when they could have been so valuable to England’s chances.
England are still failing to take risks, we constantly hear of pundits speaking of an array of new talent rising through the ranks, Ross Barkley is a clear example of that, but how is he going to develop successfully by one not getting valuable international experience and two not playing his style of football. Players like Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere, Andros Townsend and Raheem Sterling are hardly going to compliment England’s style of play with Gary Cahill and Big Phil Jagielka constantly playing Stoke City type football.
Ukraine are not a top 10 nation and should not have been given as much respect as England gave them. England had match winners in that game but were never utilised. Frank Lampard nearly made his centurion cap a day to remember but even a winning goal would not have saved England from a dismal performance, yet a dismal performance that would leave Hodgson ecstatic.
If England are to make anything of themselves in Rio next year, assuming that they will qualify of course, then they have to start taking risks. Players like Ross Barkley, Andros Townsend, Raheem Sterling are seen as hidden treasures to other nations, they will provide something new and refreshed to the table, if used properly and efficiently, until then England may as well prepare for further shortcomings on the international stage.
Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)
The Chosen One has played a safe game since joining Manchester United, yet what made Sir Alex Ferguson so successful was his risk taking, abandoning the norm, disregarding the stereotype of how to run a football club. David Moyes before taking the United hot seat must have made a checklist of what to do and what not to do in his opening months as a United manager. His transfer targets were probably already identified through Sir Alex and David Gill, the tactics was quite simple, continue the simplicity, why change a winning formula, stick to the traditional 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1. And that is what Moyes has done, ok let’s try and stay away from Manchester United’s transfer disappointments and obvious embarrassment because I will start to ramble on, thus becoming further disgruntled with proceedings during the summer.
So I am going to look to the future and take away the many positives that Moyes has at his disposal. The loss to Liverpool on Sunday, sorry I couldn’t help but refer to the immediate past, should have shown what United have been lacking for years a midfielder, a holding midfielder. Fans all over social networking sites, criticised United for not having any creative players within their ranks and stupidly referred back to their inability to sign a playmaker. Not to much of my displeasure, being a United fan myself.
But United do have a playmaker and his name is Shinji Kagawa, not to mention Wayne Rooney can also provide some valuable amount of creativity. But Moyes sticking to his early season checklist kept things simple and utilised what he thought was the best formula to nullify a much stronger and organised Liverpool midfield. Hence the defensive inclusion of Ryan Giggs. Giggs since the departure of Park Ji-Sung has now become the tireless worker and the grafter of United’s flanks in important games. We saw that against Real Madrid and we saw similar attempts against Liverpool. Had Rafael been fit, it would have Phil Jones partnering Carrick in the midfield with United using two out and out wingers against Liverpool, but injuries took its toll on what should have been a straight forward tactical shift. So therefore Giggs was Moyes’s ideal fit.
What United needed was a Roy Keane, 2008 Owen Hargreaves or Darren Fletcher to add a bit of aggression and bite to the midfield, which would have maybe allowed Kagawa to play a role on Sunday. They now have that in Marouane Fellaini, who made his deadline day move from Everton. A fundamental but versatile defensive midfielder, the hairy Belgian should be a great match with Carrick, who will be allowed to expose his passing qualities to a greater extent, once Fellaini wins those aerial duels. Typically of a deep lying playmaker, which Carrick is, he would then be the one who supplies the balls to the more creative players which is where Rooney and Kagawa may come in, without feeling too exposed at the back. United should soon turn into what Real Madrid were under Jose Mourinho, a counter attacking team capable of producing flashes of brilliance, they have quick minded players to do so and with RVP leading the line they should be more than capable of being clinical.
Fellaini will provide that stability for the back line, discipline should hardly be an issue for the Belgian, despite his history in the referees book, how many times do we see United players lose their heads, very rarely. Look at Wayne Rooney’s transformation. His presence is something that has been needed for a while, Cleverley is fairly good against weaker sides, but against the top 5, you need a bully in the middle of the park, City have Toure, Spurs have Sandro and Dembele Liverpool have Gerrard and Lucas and now we have Fellaini. Let’s be honest we didn’t need to make too many changes after a more than impressive campaign last season and by keeping near enough the same squad, the mental toughness should remain. We had a winning formula, so why change it; a minor tweak was all that was necessary and in Fellaini, a focused Rooney and an improved Kagawa, who are both eager to right their wrongs of last season, we should be hopeful of retaining the league title and providing David Moyes with a reason to celebrate this season.
Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)
For his past 28 fights Deontay Wilder has annihilated his opponents with his ferocious right hand and his latest bout against his 29th opponent, former WBO champion, Siarhei Liakhovich was no different. All of his victories thus far have come by way of knockout, with none even passing the fourth round.
“I don’t like to stick around because I’m not getting paid for overtime,” Wilder said. “That being said, I wasn’t surprised, but I didn’t think it would be that short either, to beat a former world champion and against a guy known for going rounds.”
“I’m blessed with power, I’m blessed with tremendous power. I don’t even know the measure of my own power. I see why they should register my hands. When I hit someone, it’s a felony.”
When Wilder caught Liakhovich with that right hook that landed on his temple, I knew the outcome was inevitable watching him drop like a ton of bricks. Liakhovich was out cold and the referee didn’t even need to count. The worst part was Liakhovich’s seizure-like-spasms immediately after the Bronze Bomber’s powerful knockout punch.
Although he’s never officially fought them, I’m sure Wilder is confident enough in himself when it comes to Heavyweight’s current most dominating family, the Klitschko brothers. In November the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Bronze Bomber, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, traveled to Wladimir Klitschko’s camp in Austria and put in a serious shift sparring with the champion.
Boxing’s Heavyweight division has been lacking that thump for the past 10+ years, is Deontay Wilder the Heavyweight prospect that American’s have been waiting for to replicate the 90s big boys and finally challenge the Klitschko brothers?
Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)
I’m not going to lie, I hated Clint Dempsey. It’s well documented that Clint didn’t leave Fulham in the right way refusing to play for the club again in a hope to force a move to Liverpool that he was convinced was a certainty. As it happened the move to Merseyside was far from a forgone conclusion with the move dragging onto a full blown transfer saga with Fulham threatening to take the Reds to court over allegedly tapping up Clint. In the end Clint did manage to force his move from Fulham, not to a Champions League club but one with huge aspirations of getting there Tottenham Hotspur. After a decent season with the Lillywhites, Clint has bid farewell to England to return to the MLS. The move back to the MLS in what is Clint’s prime is for me a sad end to a groundbreaking spell in England where if things were handled in a different fashion last summer he could have become a true club legend.
But let’s not dwell on the negatives, Clint Dempsey for me should be remembered as a Fulham legend and probably the best Yank to ever grace the Premiership (Sorry Brian!)
I remember feeling very excited by the prospect of getting Clint Dempsey, this was a player who for me stood out in World Cup 2006,where he scored for America Vs Ghana. When we eventually did pick up ‘Duce’ after months of negotiations with the MLS 2007 I was chuffed. The signs were there from the very start with regards to Clint. Flashes of skill, step-overs and flicks, a tackle on then Fulham’s most hated Steed Malbranque also helped! In the brief 15 minutes against Tottenham I realised what all the hype was about and why he was voted as a player to watch by 4-4-2 magazine.
It was at the end of Clint’s first season where the man from Texas wrote his name into Fulham history. Dempsey scored the goal that secured Fulham’s safety in our first real relegation dog fight. A classy first half finish against Liverpool gained 3 massive points against a under strength Liverpool side,a result Neil ‘Colin Wanker’ Warnock harks on about to this day.
It’s fair to say Clint was always forced to prove his worth to the team. The first manger to not utilise Clint effectively was Chris Coleman who signed the American. After he lost his job, Lawrie Sanchez then interim manger nearly made the same mistake until that goal against Liverpool. Sanchez made the mistake of under estimating Dempsey the next season signing the likes of Bouazza to replace him. Clint kept his nose to the ground and played a role in securing Fulham’s safety, in a season where Sanchez was replaced by Hodgson. Dempsey finished Fulham’s top scorer in a turbulent season with 6 goals. The signs where there for all to see that Dempsey should be a key player in Fulham’s future.
Despite finishing ‘The Great Escape’ as Fulham’s top scorer, Clint was again forced to prove his worth to the team. Prove his worth Clint did, despite only playing a bit part role again. Dempsey finished Fulham’s top scorer on 7 including that brace against the scum, who can forget that bullet header? Clint’s contribution though mainly from the bench saw Fulham clinch a record 7th position and automatic qualification for the Europa league.
The 09-10 season which included the Europa League campaign as a Fulham fan is a season I doubt will ever be topped. It was though again a season that Clint Dempsey was never really trusted as a true starter more a man who could produce a moment of magic or a vital goal. This season saw the goal that possibly acts as a microcosm for his whole time at Fulham. Not selected to start against Juventus preferred ahead of him was the sublime Zoltan Gera and the more positionally astute Davies and Duff. Dempsey was introduced on the 71st minute and just 11 minutes later scored possibly the greatest goal Craven Cottage has ever seen to see Fulham (yes little Fulham) beat Juventus ( Italy’s most successful clubs) 5-4 on aggregate and 4-1 on the night.
Clint’s bit part role was illustrated by the fact he failed to gain a starting place in Fulham’s starting line up for the final. It seemed no matter what Clint did it wasn’t good enough to nail down a starting berth in Fulham’s plans.
When Mark Hughes arrived at Fulham Clint after 4 season managed to break into the side regularly and repaid the faith shown in him by hitting 12 Premier League goals. This saw the Texan again becoming Fulham’s top scorer in the league and also become Fulham’s all time top Premier Leagues marksman with 33 goals.
When Hughes decided to leave, Martin Jol was in no doubt of Dempsey’s a ability choosing to utilise the American as a key player. Clint repaid Jol’s faith by scoring 17 premier league goals from midfield, which saw him voted 4th in the PFA player of the year.
Clint’s record for Fulham is put simply unbelievable and despite his legacy being tarnished by his move away from the Cottage his impact should never be forgotten. 3 times fans player of the year, 4 times top scorer, all time Fulham Premier league scorer, All time American top scorer in the EPL. To achieve all of these feats from midfield and also a rare starter (due to no manger really being able to nail down a position for Demps), that boy Clint Dempsey was pretty damn good!
Good luck in the MLS. And thanks for teaching me one thing as you said it in your interview VS Juventus ‘You never give up man’
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)
Since taking over from the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, David Moyes has made no secret of his desires of signing a new playmaker preferably to partner Michael Carrick in the heart of the midfield.
With one player having already rejected a move in favour of Champions League winners Bayern Munich, of course I am speaking of Thiago Alcantara, Moyes’ desperation has stepped up a gear or two.
Next target Thiago’s teammate Cesc Fabregas, the former Arsenal skipper. In an optimistic bid to lure the Barcelona maestro to Old Trafford, United have already had a bid turned down. But recent reports have suggested that United will not be put off that easily and have made a second audacious bid.
The former Arsenal talisman, who is at the moment behind Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez in the pecking order, would relish a return to the Premier League and more importantly first team football.
Whether that will be at Manchester United come next season remains to be seen. And not to mention that Arsenal have a first refusal clause in Fabregas’ contract which indicates that if Wenger so wishes to match the Premier League champions bid then they too would be in line to sign the 26 year-old.
These are anxious times ahead for both Premier League clubs and FC Barcelona who are also manager-less following the unfortunate resignation of Tito Villanova, as he hopes to make a steady recovery from cancer.
Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)