Finding your New Year less than inspiring? That’s not what we want to hear! January is a time for new beginnings for you and your club. After all there’s a reason they put a transfer window in January. It’s time for a fresh outlook! Take some advice from a few of football's greatest, maybe these words of wisdom will inspire a renewed perspective.
"If you’re attacking,
you don’t get as tired as when you’re chasing." -Kyle Rote, Jr.
“I’ve never played for a draw in my life.” -Sir Alex Ferguson
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”-Bill Shankly
"In football, the worst blindness is only seeing the ball." -Nelson Falcão Rodrigues
"Success is no accident.
It is hard work, perseverance, learning,
studying, sacrifice and most of all,
love of what you are doing or learning to do." -Pele
"Every disadvantage has its advantage."-Hendrik Johannes Cruijff
Tomorrow the flood gates open. The New Year means the January transfer window officially opens for the month, and it is going to be chaos! Of course rumors have been flying literally since the second the summer transfer window closed, but injuries, unexpected results, poor player performance, and a variety of other factors has turned the league on its head, and the rumors change daily. Now with a clearer vision of the season’s possibilities and weaknesses in their rosters, clubs will be fighting to find the player’s best fit to fill their current voids. At this point rumors are just rumors, but there are definitely a few that have caught our eye… No matter what happens this transfer window is sure to thrill.
Who's turning heads?
Jamie Vardy- Leicester City
It’s the name that is on everybody’s tongue: Jamie Vardy. Leicester has shocked the League going from the bottom of the table last season to celebrating Christmas as league leaders, and a great deal of that success has to be attributed to Vardy’s outstanding season. His efforts have clearly not gone unnoticed, big names like Chelsea and Manchester United, who are desperately lacking strike force, will be jumping at the chance to sign a striker who has managed to net in 11 consecutive Premier League matches. Leicester however are not looking to hand over their superstar and will likely do whatever they can to tie him down for as long as possible.
Lionel Messi- Barcelona
Okay we have to throw this one out there, partially because it’s so far fetched its almost comical to include, but partially because it would be so crazy awesome if it did happen that its worth at least mentioning. First off the money required for Barcelona to even foster the idea of letting Messi leave is more than most clubs have in their entire budget. His transfer fee would shatter all previous records by a long shot. We are talking a minimum of £200 million and that is before player wages. It really only leaves a teeny-tiny handful of clubs that could even afford the move (PSG, Manchester United, Man. City, Chelsea). But rumors have it he isn't completely happy with his club, though whether he would ever leave the club that has elevated him to football god status is hard to say. Money does talk...
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- Borussia Dortmound
Lets move on from a transfer that is most definitely not happening to one that is just reeeeeally really unlikely. At 26 years old Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is at the prime of his playing career, and with 24 goals in 23 matches played there is no one doubting that he is in peak form and he has many admirers. Jurgen Klopp, former Dortmund coach now head of Liverpool has not been shy about expressing his fancy for his former player. Unfortunately Aubameyang has also been public about his satisfaction in his current team. He also has made an apparent pact with teammate Marco Reus that if they are exiting they pair will exit at the same time.
Marco Reus- Borussia Dortmund
Perhaps the time to make good on his pact with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now. Reus had signed and extension last February extending his contract through 2019, but the new contract removed his previous release clause, and the 26 year old winger has reportedly said he'd be keen to find himself playing once again under the coaching of Jurgen Klopp. Still the transfer will come with a hefty price tag.
How about some fresh meat???
Amwar El Ghazi- Ajax
Though just 20 yrs old, Amwar El Ghazi has show huge potential and raw talent on the pitch. That talent got him promoted to play for the Netherlands first team this year and there is no doubt he will have many more caps for the Dutch. He has shown creativity and poise beyond his years, and energy that comes with the freshness of youth. Given the chance to prove himself in a top tier league, we have no doubt he would rise to the occasion. Rumors suggest Southampton, Stoke, and others may be interested in giving him that chance.
Adrien Rabiot- PSG
Paris Saint-Germain is an elite squad and to see play time, especially as such a young player is a difficult task. Adrien Rabiot has made his time on the pitch with PSG count, proving himself as an obvious asset in the midfield, but unfortunately has not found himself a sure spot in the starting XI. Though he has expressed his love for the city and team, he is not content with the lack of play time and has asked PSG president for a loan this coming January. This could be a huge pickup for teams like Arsenal who have been suffering in the midfield and are ready for an enthusiastic addition to breath life into their attack.
What about the loan-ers?
Gokhan Inler- Leicester City
Leicester has had a phenomenal season due in great part to the sensational work in the midfield by N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater. But, because the duo has done so well holding down center field, Swiss captain has not seen much time on the pitch. As EURO 2016 approaches players will be looking to be in peak form for their countries, this will only come from active participation in competition, which currently Inler is not seeing. A temporary loan could be a very real solution and mutually beneficial for a club that is looking to add experience to their midfield.
Simone Zaza- Juventus
Similar to the struggles of many young strikers, Simone Zaza has found himself without a secured position on Juventes first team. Leaving Juve on loan to gain some valuable experience with a top tier team in another league could be a great move for Zaza.
If reports are true this January will result in more transfers and money spent than any in Premier League history. What players would you like to see make moves this transfer window? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Today the French national team will return to the pitch for their second international friendly in less than a week, but tonight it’s not about football. Just four days ago, while thousands gathered in Paris at Stade de France for the classic rivalry match; France vs Germany, a horrific scene unfolded just outside the stadium walls. Attacks around the city would claim the lives of over 125 individuals with many more critically injured, and leave the country in disbelief, shock, and fear.
In the wake of these horrific events, postponing football related activity would be an easy and understandable thing to do. The FA in Belgium in fact has done just that, cancelling today’s friendly with Spain due to the elevated threat of terror. The French team however has chosen to stand strong for their country, and as an act of defiance will take to the pitch, refusing to let terror win.
Tonight’s meeting will be so much more than a football match. It will serve as a symbol to the world that France will not be paralyzed by fear. That through mourning and pain the French people will immerge stronger. And it is testament to the power of community and solidarity in the footballing world.
As supporters, as players, as coaches we are connected by our love for the game. Rivalries only matter in so much that we have someone to play opposite of us. At the end of the day we are a footballing community. Clubs, boarders, even oceans cannot sever that bond. We play together, we learn together, and we mourn together. Tonight the footballing world stands strong with France.
Think you know a thing or two about football history? We'll see about that. Take our History quiz to test your knowledge and maybe learn a thing or two about the game you love.
In '99 Mia Hamm scored the final goal, breaking the tie during the shootout, and winning the World Cup for the US Women's national team. In a moment of pure ecstasy she tore off her shirt and dropped to her knees. The image of this celebration is one of the most famous soccer moments in history, and luckily for you its super easy to create! Here's what you'll need:
Additional Optional accessories:
Current Barcelona striker, Luis Suarez has made a name for himself as the "Dracula of football," after multiple biting incidents. Most recently he was banned from finishing the 2014 World Cup after taking a chomp out of Italy's defender. The internet blew up with memes, which provide a perfect Halloween costume opportunity. Here's what you'll need:
Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is known for taking his shirt of almost as much as he is for being a world class striker. In his down time he models underwear, works on his tan, and shows off his abs. The best part about this Halloween costume is there's not a lot of clothes to buy. Here's what you'll need:
English football star David Beckham and his former pop star wife Victoria (Posh) are pop culture icons. The couple are instantly recognizable, which makes them an easy option for a last minute Halloween outing. Here's what you'll need:
Saturday morning I settled into the the couch and flipped on the West Ham v Man City match. Just as the players were leaving the tunnel, heading out to the pitch, my boyfriend entered the room. “Why are those guys holding hands with little kids?”
I couldn’t help but laugh at his genuine concern and bewilderment. He has only recently been enlightened to the joy that is being a football supporter and apparently doesn’t pay much attention to the beginning of a match. When I told him players walk out with children at almost every match, and in basically every league all he could muster through his confusion was, “but why?”
Good question. I never really put much thought into it. I mean, I’ve been watching football since I myself was a child. I guess I had always just assumed it was a tradition of some sort. Kids from the local youth teams or underprivileged backgrounds, getting a chance to walk next to their would-be heroes. A sentimental “live your dreams, this could be you one day” type bit, but to be honest, I wasn’t really sure.
As it turns out, I’m not the only who doesn’t really know who, why or how these kids ended up standing out on the pitch. When I searched Google there were several blogs and forum conversations asking the same question, each with a different answer. Here is what I’ve deduced.
The kids are mascots, “match mascots.” And, as you’ve seen in nearly any football match, their job is to awkwardly escort a player or official out onto the field before the match. Simple enough. Most teams have certain criteria for the kids to qualify including age restrictions and even height.
There isn’t one definitive reason as to why this tradition started, but multiple benefits. Like I had assumed before, one positive to having match day mascots is that it is obvious quite the experience for the youngster. The feeling of walking out alongside a famous footballer in front of scores of cheering fans would no doubt be an unforgettable experience for anyone, but especially for a child who will grow up with a deeply instill enthusiasm for the game. It serves as a symbol of sorts, these football greats passing on their passion to the youth that will eventually take it over. How very touching… and sort of brilliant from a twisted marketing stance, because no doubt these experiences will impact the impressionable minds of youth greatly and foster a commitment to football unlike any other.
The moment you realize your favorite footballer is behind you.
Passing along love for the game is the sweeter side of keeping match day mascots, but there are other indirect benefits. Waiting in the same tunnel as your biggest rival, before you play the most important match of your life sounds like a sure way to cause a scuffle. But add a child to the scenario, and everyone stays on their best behavior. It is much more difficult to participate in lude, unsportsmanlike antics with the prying eyes of a child watching your every move.
So how does your kid become a mascot? It all depends on what club you’re supporting. For most teams a certain number of slots a year are reserved for the official youth league associated with that team. Many other mascot roles are filled by raffles, drawing, and sweepstakes. Then there are the clubs that fill those spots with those willing to pay a hefty price. Last December several British Premier League clubs came under fire over the excessive price tags attached to their matchday mascot packages. West Ham the guiltiest culprit reportedly charging £600 for its top mascot experience. Swansea, Leicester, and Crystal Palace are among a lengthy list of others that charge a significant fee to participate, while Manchester United, City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Aston Villa, and a few more offer the experience for free.
MLS teams have similar practices as those in Premier League offering various raffles, sweepstakes, and partnering with local youth teams and organizations. Here are a few links to different teams and their mascot requirements:
If you support football, aka soccer, in the U.S. you have been without a doubt harassed heavily for calling the sport the wrong name. Whether you refer to it as soccer, and get scoffed at by those who prefer the traditional name and are quick to lay out all the reasons why “American football” has nothing to do with feet. Or you choose to call it football, like the majority of rest of the world, and are instantly heckled for being a snob; there really is no way to win. Even in writing the first sentence of this commentary I struggled trying to decide which term to use first. As a soccer, yes soccer supporter in the US, I have been scrutinized heavily for use of both terms and am always a bit puzzled by the hostility.
I personally refer to the sport based off the culture I am surrounded by, which means soccer it is. If I were to move to England I would call it football. Not because I’m faking it, but because more people would understand me and we could carry on from there as friends discussing things that matter.
After all we are talking about the same game right? No matter what you or I call it, we both like the same game. So long as we know what each other is talking about I don’t see why it makes any difference to me if you call it what you wish. Tomato, tomato? I mean we call deep fried potato wedges fries in the U.S., in Great Britain they would be call chips, and what we refer to as chips would be referred to as crisps. Yes initially that might cause a touch of confusion, but as long as we get sorted on which of these we are actually talking about there is no need to riot.
Looking up the definition of football in the dictionary doesn’t necessarily draw a straight conclusion to help sort this out either:
Football: referring to a number of sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot to score points. Unqualified, the term football is understood to refer to whichever form of football most popular in regional context of where the word is used: Association Football (aka soccer), American/Canadian Football (aka Gridiron), Australian Rules Football, Gaelic Football, or Rugby.
With so many sports falling under the "football code" it's no wonder Americans call it something else. In fact according to a paper published by sports economist Stephan Szymanski at University of Michigan, the confusion between differentiating multiple sports that were all being called football is exactly where the term soccer came about. And sorry England, but you are mostly to blame for the name's origin. Sometime dating back to the early 1900's Rugby Football was shortened to "rugger" at the same time Associated Football was reduced to "soccer," and for some time all these terms were used interchangeably. By the 1980's the U.S. had really clung to the term soccer, and Britain distanced itself from it. Essentially soccer is a British slang term for associated football that got adopted by they're annoying younger brother and is no longer cool to say.
There is no doubt heads will continue to butt over this one. This score will likely ever be settled, even if Americans do start calling it football. Because in reality no one wants it to be settled. It is fun to have conflict. It's fun to have rivals. If everyone is on the same team then there is no one to play against and that's no fun at all.