The Death Penalty Should Stay Dead

One of the more arduous, repetitive and indeed controversial political debates currently is that of the death penalty’s restoration. Having not seen an execution for fifty years, recent high-profile crimes such as the murder of Lee Rigby have sparked some support for reintroduction of capital punishment. In fact, Ukip MEP Louise Bours stoked the discussions last week by hinting that Ukip may be in support of the re-introduction.

With an issue like this, there are always strong feelings on either side. Those in favour of reintroduction say it will mean the worst of criminals pay the ultimate price, the families of the victims will get ‘closure’ and it will stop tax-payers funding criminals’ prison life.

However, it isn’t that simple. How are we supposed to teach lessons to criminals if we kill them for their crimes? They won’t suffer, they’re dead. Is it not the ultimate hypocrisy of the justice system to punish killing by killing? Should we not deter society from killing by never using it to solve problems? It’s also short-sighted to assume that victims’ families want the death penalty reintroduced too, with many speaking out against the penalty.

The death penalty is not even a sufficient deterrent of crime. The UK’s homicide rate is 18 times lower than the United States, where they do utilise execution. It’s not even cost-effective to kill violent criminals either, a common misconception is that the death penalty is cheaper than keeping criminals in prison for life – but it isn’t. In the United States, those sentenced to death can end up costing the tax-payer four times as much as those given lifetime incarceration. Those on death row often appeal and can end up waiting for execution for up to twenty years, which hardly solves the prison overpopulation problem either.

And just what are we to do if a jury reaches an incorrect verdict and innocent man or woman is charged with murder and subsequently put to death? Do we then send the executioner to death for what would be the killing of an innocent person? Do we kill the jury too? These cases, although rare do happen – it only takes one instance for this potential law to be thrown in to disrepute.

As far as Ukip goes, Louise Bours support for this motion’s reintroduction reeks of right-wing populism. She’s probably just testing the waters to see if they can ram this in to their manifesto for later this year. Either that, or they hate the EU that much that they simply cannot stand that the organisation opposes the death penalty too. In reality, the death penalty is expensive, labourious, hypocritical and barbaric. Journeying back to a bygone era where brutality was an acceptable resolution is not the answer, as is shown by the USA’s higher crime rate. I don’t think it’s wrong to feel vengeful in situations like these. Of course, those supporting the death penalty have a point – these people don’t deserve to live whilst their victims don’t. Financially, the death penalty isn’t beneficial – let the criminals suffer in prison, their life can be taken away from them without death.

FAO: Leicester City Supporters

Yesterday, top-flight football finally returned to Filbert Way. An exhilarating game ended 2-2 as a weakened Leicester side more than spurred a quality Everton outfit. An 86th minute equaliser from the Foxes was welcomed by a wall of noise that in truth encapsulated the King Power Stadium for match of the 90 minutes but for some, it still it isn’t enough.

Since the inception of ‘identikit soulless bowls’, of which we’re proud owners, home atmospheres have been routinely slated. Our home atmosphere has been steadily improving for the last few years, it’s still not as good as Filbo’s – it never will be. As a group, we’re probably a little hard on ourselves. Having followed City away for years, I can safely say we’re above average at home. Of course it fluctuates and sometimes the atmosphere is dead but such is the nature of the beast.

Anyway, getting to the point, yesterday’s atmosphere was raucous. Our supporters have received acclaim from other football fans, press, pundits etc. but in turn we’ve also received criticism (mostly from Everton fans).

Firstly for the goal music. Okay, no one wants goal music but this isn’t something we as fans control, like having ‘Hey Jude’ played instead of ‘When You’re Smiling’ and Lee Jobber’s irritating drum. It’s not like our goal music is loud either. I cannot count how many times fans have left the ground asking “did we not play goal music today? I didn’t hear it”. It’s certainly not even close to the deafening sounds of Chelsea Dagger that literally mute the Forest fans at the City Ground.

However, the major complaint was ‘the poznan’. Okay, it’s not ours. It’s not Man City’s either and while we’re on the subject, Crystal Palace did not start the ‘We Love You’ chant they just popularised it here in England. We’ve done that with chants too you know, without being uppity about it. The celebration was only adopted to parody the Citizens during an FA Cup tie three years ago and it probably should have died a death when they showed us how to perform it during last season’s League Cup meeting – but it didn’t.

For the record, I don’t like it. Having watched the poznan on Saturday instead of doing it, I realised it looks a bit naff when the whole ground isn’t joining in but suggestions that it needs to be ‘binned’ or ‘axed’ or ‘banned’ are a bit over the top. You can’t ban a celebration -we would all be moaning more if the celebrations were muted and nobody did anything following a goal. Actually, why are those partaking in it more at fault than those that aren’t? Wouldn’t it be ‘amazing’ if the whole stadium did it?

What’s really embarrassing, is that fans only seem to want to lead a charge against the poznan now because we’re in the Premier League and other fans are criticising our support. Who cares what they think? We should have some self respect and ignore their opinions. It’s great that people are currently so enthusiastic about improving (or maintaining) yesterday’s atmosphere but maybe just sign up and follow the activities of Filbo Spirit rather than attacking fans who are trying to support the team.

 

Football is in Debt to its LGBT Fans

It’s 2014 and there are still no openly LGBT people in English football. Not a manager, a player, nor even a physio. Other sporting organisations in the traditionally more conservative United States such as the NFL and the WWE and even Rugby Union and cricket here are streets ahead of ‘the beautiful game’ when it comes to equality.

Homophobia is still a huge problem in English football. The FA and the 92 league clubs are, in my opinion doing little to combat anti-LGBT perceptions on the pitch and in the stands. When I corresponded with the FA, they were proud to boast of several initiatives they had backed including Opening Doors and Joining In and Football vs. Homophobia. Other than placing their name on a few programs, the visibility of the FA’s work is scarce to say the least. In fact, the campaigns they allegedly support haven’t had much success with England’s top clubs either. Just over a quarter of the ninety-two Premier League and Football League clubs are signed up to the Football vs. Homophobia campaign.

The FA has had numerous opportunities to avow its pledge to opposing homophobia but refuses to comment on the provocative choices of Russia and Qatar for the following two World Cups. Sadly, it seems there was greater tumult in the footballing world, when it was alleged that the decision was the product of a payoff rather than the fact the bribers were from a country that incarcerates homosexuals?

The biggest problem is the non-existence of ‘out’ footballing personnel – and the absence of transparency. In recent years, high-profile names such as Thomas Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers have come out as gay. The former waited until he was retired to do so and the latter felt he’d be safer from abuse and judgement in the United States, where social conservatism is almost sacred. If that doesn’t highlight the problem then I don’t know what will.

Just this week Malky Mackay and Iain Moody were accused of sending homophobic texts as well as racist and sexist ones, using phrases such as ‘independently minded young homo’ and ‘gay snake’. Imagine being a young gay footballer working under people with those views. In a truly appalling follow-up the League Manager’s Association dismissed Mackay’s and Moody’s heinous behaviour as ‘banter’ and the pair ‘blowing off steam’. Football doesn’t take the issue seriously. Last season, footballers and managers were given the opportunity to showcase their support for LGBT people in football by supporting Paddy Power and Stonewall’s Right Behind Gay Footballers rainbow laces campaign but most didn’t lace up. Only one player from my club did so, which is demoralising – every player in the top six divisions received the laces for free.

It’s important that fans, players and footballing bodies alike make LGBT players feel comfortable to not hide who they are. A recent poll found that 73% of English fans would accept a gay player in either their club or national team, even when we account for demand characteristics and social desirability bias; we can be nigh on certain that the majority of football fans would embrace or at least tolerate more LGBT personnel in the English game. So, we need to ask ourselves why players are still so petrified.

It’s time for football to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. It’s not enough to say you’re anti-homophobia but do nothing about it. The FA, the Premier League and the Football League need to introduce high visibility initiatives to make gay footballers feel safe enough to ‘come out’ and hopefully soon – that’s the best way to rid the game of homophobia. For too long, football fans have put banter ahead of equality, shoddily made Richard Keys vines ahead of an all-encompassing environment. Seriously, it’s 2014. There are more openly gay active NFL players and WWE wrestlers than there are openly gay players in English football. Our sport may be the world’s best but when it comes to a Premier League for equality; football is doing a Derby County.

Leicester is better than Nottingham

The title says it all. Leicester is better than Nottingham and that’s all there is to it. Today, the Leicester Mercury published an opinion piece from budding journalist Catherine Hancock (who I’m sure is lovely by the way) detailing why she thought that Nottingham was the top city in the East Midlands. Of course, you can’t expect me to read that and not respond, so let’s travel through Catherine’s arguments and unhinge them bit by bit.

Like Catherine, we’ll start with sport. Leicester has a Premier League football team. Nottingham doesn’t. Those are the facts. Actually, our northern neighbours haven’t graced the top-flight since 1999, a time when S Club 7 and Steps were still dominating the charts. Forest fans, as we all know, love a good history lesson but their triumphs under Brian Clough are not really relevant now. Not only does Leicester boast a Premier League football team, we’re also the home of the Rugby Union’s most successful ever club, the Leicester Tigers, with ten Premiership titles to their name. Add the only cricket club to have won the Twenty20 Cup more than once and the country’s oldest basketball club (and current cup champions) in to the mix and you’ve got a true sporting city,unlike the underachieving Nottingham.

And if we’re simply talking sporting icons, how can you look further than England legends Gary Lineker and Peter Shilton, who both hail from the city? And who can forget the Jester from Leicester Mark Selby who won 2014’s World Snooker Championship?

When we’re talking music, Leicester once again reigns supreme. How can you argue with Showaddywaddy, Mark Morrison, Engelbert Humperdinck, X Factor champ Sam Bailey and of course, the crème de la crème; Kasabian? Are we to submit all of these music icons to that miserable Jake Bugg? I don’t think so.

Let’s not forget that Leicester was also the city that brought up the legendary Attenborough brothers – you’re welcome, Earth.

Apparently, Nottingham is also ‘the city of history’ too, because it’s the ‘home’ of Robin Hood, who could well be fictional. Leicester’s local Maryland Chicken chains have more history than that. Leicester can boast to be one of the country’s oldest settlements, as well as one of it’s most populated (more than Nottingham). It was also, the place Richard III met his maker, and was discovered some 530 years after he died – he wasn’t fictional.

Catherine also said that Quentin Tarantino chose Nottingham to be the location of one of Pulp Fiction’s premières – which I admit is quite cool. However, it doesn’t quite have the same honour as Queen Elizabeth II hand-picking Leicester as the first stop on her Diamond jubilee tour in 2012.

In fact if the cities were to go head-to-head Nottingham would be knocked out in the second round. Nottingham is the country’s singleton, bad breath and crime capital – quite a resumé, I know. We could stretch even further and call Nottingham the obese capital, if we were to include Bassetlaw in north Notts.  There’s actually such a gap in quality between the two cities that your life expectancy increases five years if you travel 30 miles south via the A46.

Let’s face it Nottingham cannot compare. How can you stand a few good ice skaters against the city responsible for Walkers crisps, the largest outdoor market in Europe, being Britain’s first environment city, the birth of local BBC radio and more importantly than anything else, the modern English language, and expect to win?

Neither are bad-looking cities by the way, not particularly beautiful but not ugly either. For me, Leicester edges that too but I’m sure others will disagree. In truth, there are several thousand reasons why Leicester is better than Nottingham, maybe the most relevant one is that nobody from Leicester would ever write in a Nottingham newspaper just about how great our city is. There you go, add humility to the list of things we do better too!

If you’re keeping score, don’t bother. It’s game, set and match to Leicester.

(P.S. – You can read Catherine’s blog at http://www.catherinescolumn.com)

2014-15 Predictions

I thought I might as well have a go at predicting the final tables for the upcoming 2014-15 season in England’s top five divisions. If nothing else, this will be good for a laugh in 9 months time.

Premier League

The usual suspects will compete once more for English football’s crown with Chelsea’s manoeuvring in the transfer market making them best placed to steal the glory. Defending champions Manchester City will challenge all the way in a more competitive race that should see both Arsenal and Manchester United more involved than last season. Despite their performance last season, the loss of Suarez could seriously hinder Liverpool’s progression.

The bottom end of the table will again be ridiculously congested. New boys Leicester should have enough about them to secure Premier League safety. There are still doubts over Burnleys staying power, given their lack of funding but spirit and team ethic may be enough for the Clarets. QPR’s squad greatly underachieved last season and there’s little to suggest their flawed transfer policy has improved – the Hoops will probably struggle. Both Sunderland and Swansea have looked to improve, though there is still some doubt over the ability of Garry Monk. Last season’s mid-table stalwarts Newcastle and Southampton will be more involved in the survival scrap but should each have enough. West Midlands duo West Brom and Aston Villa are widely tipped to drop below the dreaded dotted line and Hull City may struggle to balance the commitments of domestic and continental football.

1 Chelsea
2 Manchester City
3 Manchester United
4 Arsenal
5 Liverpool
6 Everton
7 Tottenham Hotspur
8 Stoke City
9 Newcastle United
10 Southampton
11 Swansea City
12 Sunderland
13 Leicester City
14 West Ham United
15 Crystal Palace
16 Hull City
17 Burnley
18 Aston Villa
19 Queens Park Rangers
20 West Bromwich Albion

 Championship

The most competitive division in football is once again the hardest to call. Derby’s play-off heartbreak could help them emulate local rivals Leicester by reaching the title this time around. Brighton will miss both Ulloa and Upson immensely and could find the top six out of their reach. Wigan looked a lot stronger under Uwe Rosler and could give promotion a better go this season. The relegated trio Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff all possess enough quality to be there or thereabouts next season but as we’ve seen in previous years immediate returns to the Premier League are hard to come by.

Wolves and Brentford should have enough to secure survival at the very least. Rotherham look to be the most in danger of the three former League One clubs with Birmingham, Millwall, Charlton and the disastrous Blackpool set to be looking over their shoulders once more.

1 Derby County
2 Wigan Athletic
3 Norwich City
4 Fulham
5 Blackburn Rovers
6 Cardiff City
7 Brighton & Hove Albion
8 Reading
9 Watford
10 Middlesbrough
11 Ipswich Town
12 Nottingham Forest
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers
14 Bournemouth
15 Bolton Wanderers
16 Sheffield Wednesday
17 Brentford
18 Leeds United
19 Charlton Athletic
20 Huddersfield Town
21 Rotherham United
22 Millwall
23 Birmingham City
24 Blackpool

 

****************************************************************************

From this point on, I don’t know an awful lot so please excuse my inferior knowledge

****************************************************************************

League One

1 Sheffield United
2 Preston North End
3 Leyton Orient
4 Barnsley
5 Bristol City
6 Doncaster Rovers
7 Peterborough United
8 Yeovil Town
9 Swindon Town
10 Milton Keynes Dons
11 Coventry City
12 Notts County
13 Chesterfield
14 Bradford City
15 Crawley Town
16 Walsall
17 Oldham Athletic
18 Scunthorpe United
19 Fleetwood Town
20 Port Vale
21 Colchester United
22 Crewe Alexandra
23 Rochdale
24 Gillingham

League Two

1 Shrewsbury Town
2 Bury
3 York City
4 Southend United
5 Carlisle United
6 Burton Albion
7 Luton Town
8 Portsmouth
9 Stevenage
10 Tranmere Rovers
11 Plymouth Argyle
12 Northampton Town
13 Oxford United
14 Newport County
15 Cheltenham Town
16 Hartlepool United
17 Mansfield Town
18 Accrington Stanley
19 Cambridge United
20 Exeter City
21 Dagenham & Redbridge
22 AFC Wimbledon
23 Morecambe
24 Wycombe Wanderers

Conference Premier

1 Grimsby Town
2 Bristol Rovers
3 Gateshead
4 Kidderminster Harriers
5 Wrexham
6 Forest Green Rovers
7 Barnet
8 Lincoln City
9 Torquay United
10 FC Halifax Town
11 Eastleigh
12 Aldershot Town
13 Braintree Town
14 Woking
15 Alfreton Town
16 Macclesfield Town
17 Chester
18 Dover Athletic
19 Nuneaton Town
20 AFC Telford United
21 Welling United
22 Altrincham
23 Southport
24 Dartford

Leicester’s Thai Owners are NOT Vincent Tan

One of the things that annoys me more than most things is not receiving credit for the good work you do. This summer, I, among many other fans, have been eagerly anticipating Leicester City’s first match back in the top-flight of English football. Having stormed the Championship last season racking up a monumental 31 wins and 102 points.

Despite, last season’s dominance, Leicester, as well as being plugged as potential dark horses for next season have been slated for an immediate return to the second tier too. I would be lying if it didn’t irritate me that my team has been written off by some (mostly Forest fans) before they’ve even really been assessed.

It’s fair to say that the Premier League can be a self-appreciating, internal, self-obsessed division. Fans of the division may not know an awful not about a rejuvenated, well-prepared Leicester side that is entering the division with a century of points, a circumstance that has never ended in immediate relegation. That’s probably why, when asked why many think Leicester will go down they can’t really give a reason – I’m certainly yet to hear or read a compelling one.

It baffles me that pre-season predictions have seen us placed below both Burnley and Queens Park Rangers who failed catastrophically to keep pace with City last season – nine and twenty-two points below respectively. I could forgive this view point, if either club had blown the division out of the water with their transfer dealings but you would be hard-pressed to argue that was the case. These people have written us off simply because we’ve just come up, and even we don’t have the spending power of the hooped West Londoners (even though it hasn’t helped them much thus far). Our dominance last season makes it much less likely that we’ll go down next season, statistically at least. But many fans choose to overlook that.

However, the most annoying critique of City heading in to the 2014-15 campaign has got to be the comparisons of owners Vichai and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha with Cardiff City’s egomaniac boss Vincent Tan. Simply put they’re nothing alike. Leicester manager Nigel Pearson has been awarded with great leniency and faith from his Thai bosses during the Foxes horrendous slump in the 2012-13 season despite intense media pressure to give him the axe. Vincent Tan changes managers more than he changes his clothes. Too, the owners of Leicester City have invested in every aspect of the club, they don’t spend frivolously now like the did in Sven’s era, despite the media’s best attempts to paint Vichai’s comments to suggest such at a press conference in May. More importantly, the Foxes chairman and vice-chairman respect the culture of the club, vowing never to change the club’s crest, colours or identity unlike Mr. Tan who seems more interested in goading his club’s fans in to fisticuffs than rewarding their support like the Srivaddhanaprabhas.

This may simply sound like the bitter ramblings of a big-headed fan of a newly-promoted Premier League side but it shouldn’t be perceived as such. In spite of my staunch belief that Leicester will offer more than survival next season, I concede that there is a chance we could go down and people thinking it is not ludicrous at all. However, all I ask is, if you want to write us off – at least have a bloody good reason.

2014-15 Premier League: Fans’ Preview (Part II)

With English’s top-flight once again relevant now the famous Leicester City F.C. have bounced back, there are just four weeks to go until the football season starts up once more.

 

Manchester United

@Edward_Walsh96

Last season: 7th
Manager: Louis Van Gaal
Rivals: Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal
Odds: 11/2

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
A top four finish in the PL. After the poor finish last season, we need to quickly recover to play in the top tier of European football.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
My greatest fear is the lack of experience with a winning team. In addition, the adaptation to a new manager could be a struggle.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
The back four needs to be strengthened for next season. Bringing in Luke Shaw as LB was a good decision but with his big price tag and his young age it’s a gamble,

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
I want to beat Liverpool the most next season. Our biggest and oldest rivals in the football history for Man Utd. After their impressive season last year, it made them perk up!

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Herrera will be a player to look out for in the midfield. I’ve seen him play and he is a very talented midfielder with a lot to bring to Manchester. RVP will be another player to look out for next season. Finally Luke Shaw will bring some freshness to the LB position.

6. Who will win the league?
I think Chelsea will win the league. They have brought in two very good players and have come close to winning the title, I feel it’s time they won it.

7. Who will go down?
Burnley, West Ham and Sunderland. I think Leicester City will finish a close 17th.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I think QPR will be surprise a few with a mid-table finish. Other than that I think everything will be as expected.

9. Where will you finish?
I believe we will finish a close third, which will be a massive improvement on last season under David Moyes.

Newcastle United

@nufc4me

Last season: 10th
Manager: Alan Pardew
Rivals: Sunderland, Manchester United, Middlesbrough
Odds: 1000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Mike Ashley to sell and leave

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Two strikers

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
I want to beat Sunderland

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Caldwell

6. Who will win the league?
Chelsea

7. Who will go down?
Sunderland

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Newcastle

9. Where will you finish?
8th

Queens Park Rangers

@DazzerQPR

Last season: 4th (Championship)
Manager: Harry Redknapp
Rivals: Fulham, Chelsea, Watford
Odds: 7500/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
QPR to stay up.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
QPR to go down.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
All over. 1 LB as cover, 1 RB as cover, 2 CB’s, 2 CM’s, 1 Winger & a striker as well as keep Loic Remy.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Chelsea (and everyone around us who’ll be fighting for relegation)

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Joey Barton, Matty Philips and Charlie Austin are my dark horses

6. Who will win the league?
Man City

7. Who will go down?
Burnley, West Brom and Aston Villa

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Everton pushing on, Southampton could struggle big time!

9. Where will you finish?
Hopefully 17th or above!

 

Southampton

@ConnorArmstrong

Last season: 8th
Manager: Ronald Koeman
Rivals: Portsmouth, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bournemouth
Odds: 1250/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
I hope that this season ahead provides us with signs of improvement as it progresses, as it seems pretty obvious that Ronald Koeman is going to have to rebuild. It’d be great if we could have a good cup run along the way.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
That Koeman’s new side can’t adapt quickly enough and we end up playing catch up, possibly leading to relegation.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
I think the only place we don’t actually need to strengthen is central midfield. We’ve had players plucked from defence and attack, and we still need a goalkeeper to compete with Artur Boruc.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
For obvious player/manager related reasons from this summer, I most want to beat Liverpool and Tottenham. West Ham is another big one for me personally, living in Essex – there’s a lot of Hammers about!

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
A bit difficult to say right now, seeing as the key men seem to be leaving, with new faces arriving. Dušan Tadić looks an exciting acquisition, though.

6. Who will win the league?
Chelsea

7. Who will go down?
Burnley, West Brom and Aston Villa

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Leicester – I can’t see them flirting with relegation in the slightest and I think they’ll causes some upsets.

9. Where will you finish?
Somewhere between 10th and 15th. I’ll be happy so long as we stay up with a few games to go and show progression as the new manager builds his own Saints team. 

Stoke City

@JessySCFC

Last season: 9th
Manager: Mark Hughes 
Rivals: Port Vale, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Odds: 2500/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
My greatest hope is that we’ll finish higher than our current highest finish (9th). 

2.What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is injuries to our best players! 

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We really need to strengthen our strike force, it’s what lets us down the most.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
As per with every season, I’d most want to beat Arsenal and West Brom. 

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Arnautovic. His pace is unbelievable and this season he’ll be better than he was in the previous because he’s finally started to get used to our playing style and the league itself. 

6. Who will win the league?
Chelsea.

7. Who will go down?
Burnley, QPR, West Brom

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Leicester, I hope. (You’re welcome Chris)

9. Where will you finish?
I hope that we’ll finish 7th or 8th, which may be optimistic to say the least. 

Sunderland

@TonySAFC1973

Last season: 14th
Manager: Gus Poyet
Rivals: Newcastle United, Middlesbrough, Leeds United
Odds: 5000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
A solid consistent season

2.What’s your biggest fear?
A relegation battle

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
A right-back and left-back

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Hull City

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Jordi Gomez and Giaccherini

6. Who will win the league?
Arsenal

7. Who will go down?
West Brom, Aston Villa and Burnley

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Swansea or Leicester

9. Where will you finish?
10th

Swansea City

@luseax

Last season: 12th
Manager: Garry Monk
Rivals: Cardiff City, Bristol City. Bristol Rovers
Odds: 4000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
For Garry Monk to have a great first season in charge of us.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
I’d say with the signings we’ve already made we’re okay. Although I would like to see us bring in a central defender and right back. Feel like we need stronger cover for Rangel if he can’t play some games.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
I’d like to see us beat everyone naturally. Although a win against Everton would be nice as it’s never happened before. Not that I hate Everton, it just would be nice to beat them once. 

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Bafetimbi Gomis. Great signing for us, and could be lethal combining with Bony, providing he stays. 

6. Who will win the league?
Man City

7. Who will go down?
Argh, I hate this question. West Brom, Villa and Burnley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Dark horses hmm.. Have a feeling Leicester might surprise a few this coming season.

9. Where will you finish?
Mid table again, going for 11th.

Tottenham Hotspur

@samhyde97

Last season: 6th
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino
Rivals: Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham United
Odds: 66/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Mauricio Pochettino taking us back to the Champions League, or perhaps even better, some silverware: the Europa League.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Losing Lloris before the season and/or losing Eriksen after the season.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Left Back, Centre Back; Rose and Dawson are worse than useless.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
As usual, Arsenal, of course.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Bentaleb and Tom Carroll, as well as the usuals; Eriksen, Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen etc.

6. Who will win the league?
City; no one can compete with that much money except Chelsea but I still don’t think they’ve got a good enough striker in Diego Costa.

7. Who will go down?
QPR (they’ll spend too much trying to create a whole new team again), West Brom, and Burnley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Leicester City; great squad and the money to keep it together and improve it, and Southampton; they may have lost their stars but with Koeman as manager and Tadic, Fonte and Rodriguez they can still do well.

9. Where will you finish?
Unfortunately and rather pessimistically, I think, without a solid defence it will be another 5th or 6th place finish.

West Bromwich Albion

@TheDelaney24

Last season: 17th
Manager: Alan Irvine 
Rivals: Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa, Stoke City
Odds: 5000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Mid table mediocrity. Sounds uninspiring but there’s a rebuilding job going on at the Hawthorns this summer, having lost a few players in the close season. I’m sure most Baggies would take safety & continue good progress we had made. 

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation. I think it would be very hard for us to come back if we were relegated. Financially, we’d be fine, but we’d lose a lot of very good, established players.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Defence & attack. The signing of Lescott was a major statement, & it looks like the club are addressing our lack of full backs. We really need one top striker and a winger though.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Would have to be Villa again. Midlands derbies are few & far between these days, with Wolves & Birmingham in the Championship. Beating one of the big boys is always pleasing. 

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Everyone knows about Lescott and he will be a great addition to our squad. On his day, Stephane Sessegnon is a joy to watch, & Mulumbu has been courted by bigger clubs for a while. Squad is a bit thin at the moment but hopefully we can add a couple of the new lads to that list in time. 

6. Who will win the league?
Chelsea. If Costa transfers his La Liga form to the PL Chelsea will be a formidable outfit. They’ve been crying out for a goalscorer. Cesc was an excellent addition too.

7. Who will go down?
I think Villa will struggle with Lerner having put the block on any major expenditure until they’re sold. Burnley will find it tough, but the last one could come from anywhere. Southampton? Interesting to see how they cope after the firesale. 

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
If they continue the progress from last season, then Palace will surprise a few people. Think Leicester will do ok too, they have a few £ to spend and have a good set up in Pearson and his team.

9. Where will you finish?
I think it’ll be tight but I think we’ll stop up. Anywhere between 10th and 17th would be deemed a reasonable season for us. 

West Ham United

@IAmKieranA

Last season: 13th
Manager: Sam Allardyce
Rivals: Tottenham Hotspur, Millwall, Arsenal
Odds: 5000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
My greatest hope is for us to have a very solid finish around mid-table.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear of the new season is that we will struggle again due to the lack of funds but hopefully Lambert can find a few cheap gems.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need more depth in defence as in a new centre back and right back

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Spurs, of course!

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Aaron Cresswell and Ravel Morrison can shine and also Kouyate

6. Who will win the league?
Manchester City

7. Who will go down?
Burnley, Leicester and West Brom

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Everton.

9. Where will you finish?
I’ll go for 8th

The Profound Beauty of the World Cup

There is something profoundly beautiful about the World Cup. I don’t spend a lot of time following international football – forgive me, I’m English. Of course, I, like everyone else in my home nation pay attention only to the big events. We watch the European Championships, the World Cup, the qualifiers and even England friendlies, if only the latter two to moan about how dismal and uninspiring we are whilst we await Stoke vs. Hull on next week’s Super Sunday. Anyway, I always found the big international tournaments enjoyable, maybe the novelty of not paying much notice in the intermittent years made them more special, who knows? But it wasn’t until this year’s tournament in Brazil that I realised just how special the World Cup really is.

It’s a simple concept really. 32 nations sending 23 players to one country to kick a ball around a patch of grass for four weeks. We all watch, we all enjoy then we go back to the sustenance of league football straight after. However, when this basic idea is pulled together, it sparks off something quite unbelievable.

One billion. That is the estimated viewership for this year’s final. It’s prodigious that so many people are encapsulated by the spectacle of it all. Of course, the World Cup isn’t the only sporting event to do such things. The Olympics, as a prime example, too captures a worldwide audience, but this is different. There are few instances of simultaneousness in the World Cup, meaning for ninety minutes, Honduras and Ecuador and Croatia and Cameroon are the centre of the world, and with the greatest of respect, these four nations don’t always carry the greatest global presence.

What too is special about the World Cup’s engulfing appeal is its ability to transcend virtually everything. People of all races, genders, ethnicities, sexualities, religions and backgrounds come together to enjoy this four week footballing festival. Plenty of people I know don’t give a thought about football except for these four weeks where they’re actually fairly engrossed in the action too. You’ll find non-football fans just as entranced by Tim Cahill’s wonder-strike or Neuer’s sweeper-keeper spectacular as an away day regular.

The World Cup is like the best drama on television, chock full of underdog stories, upsets and moments of brilliance. Who foresaw Spain and Brazil getting pasted by the Netherlands and Germany? Who predicted Costa Rica to shame three former world champions in the ‘group of death’? Who predicted the USA to teach the rest of the footballing world a lesson in passion?

What’s really beautiful about the World Cup is it’s communal embrace. When England bowed out, after such a lacklustre display, my interest in the tournament never waned. I found Colombia’s infectious rhythm endearing, Chile’s gut and style seductive and Argentina’s conservatism exhausting – and I ‘rooted’ based on that. That’s the funny thing about the World Cup, you don’t even need to be involved or even invited to enjoy it – just ask the Welsh or the Scots. It’s a very special four week window for the world’s greatest sport, the world’s most passionate fans and some of the world’s proudest nations to put it all on the line for glory – and if yours doesn’t, you simply sit back and enjoy the profoundly beautiful ride.

2014-15 Premier League: Fans’ Preview (Part I)

With English’s top-flight once again relevant now the famous Leicester City F.C. have bounced back, there are just four weeks to go until the football season starts up once more.

 

Arsenal

@DanFromahier

Last season: 4th 
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Rivals: Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Manchester United
Odds: 9/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To have a consistent injury free season and win the Premiership and the FA cup

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Another injury plagued season ending in failure, and the sale of a couple of big players to top it off

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
I would say another keeper to make sure there is completion for the #1 spot and a quality holding midfielder

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Chelsea purely because of the whole Fabregas situation and I hate Jose Mourinho

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Definitely the Ox providing he stays injury free can see him being one of arsenals star performers this upcoming season. I also think a young player to look out for is S.Gnabry , although the arrival of Sanchez will make it hard for him to break into the team

6. Who will win the league?
Hopefully Arsenal, but being realistic the signings that Chelsea have made has to make them favourites.

7. Who will go down?
Newcastle , Sunderland and QPR (if they can’t keep hold of Remy) if they can then Burnley will go down

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Stuck between Leicester and Stoke for dark horses, both will achieve way more than expected this season 

9. Where will you finish?
With the signings that are being made I would like to say 2nd or 3rd, not having to qualify for Champions League would be nice.

Aston Villa

@totteyvilla07

Last season: 15th
Manager: Paul Lambert
Rivals: Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Odds: 4000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
My greatest hope is for us to have a very solid finish around mid-table.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear of the new season is that we will struggle again due to the lack of funds but hopefully lambert can find a few cheap gems

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
In my opinion our main priority is getting a left back that is solid and consistent.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Every season the teams I most want to beat are the teams that finished top 6 the previous season.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
I think the main player in our squad to look out for is someone who we saw very little of last season and that is jores okore think he can come in to the team and really tighten up the defence and form a solid partnership with Ron Vlaar

6. Who will win the league?
Personally I can see Chelsea winning the league this season and with the 2 signings already made Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa they can be an absolute force next season

7. Who will go down?
I think Burnley will go down due to just not having a good enough squad to cope in the Premier League also I can see Sunderland going down the last team going down might be a surprise but I think Swansea

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
This season’s darkhorses will be either Queens Park Rangers or Leicester City because I think both teams will improve alot in the transfer window

9. Where will you finish?
I think we will finish 13th/14th as long as we don’t lose any of our key players through injury or even selling them.

Burnley

@NorAmClarets

Last season: 2nd (Championship)
Manager: Sean Dyche
Rivals: Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End, Bolton Wanderers
Odds: 10000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
I hope the side plays well, we’re competitive in every game we play and Sean Dyche shows that a side built around a strong team work ethic and players who passionately want to play for the shirt can survive and prosper in today’s Premier League.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
That it’ll be 2009-10 all over again. We’ll show promise, do well, and then some fundamental part of the side will leave and it will all fall apart. This time it might not be the manager; it might be the sale of a key player or even an injury.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We have a relatively small squad, so Sean Dyche needs to bring in some depth, which he’s started to do. The core of our squad is quality but lacks experience in the Premier League, and so Dyche is adding that too. Most supporters agree that we need another, faster, central defender to pair with Jason Shackell, another central midfielder and a striker to partner with Danny Ings.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Being a small, unfashionable club taking the scalp of a big money club is very satisfying.  We host Chelsea and Man Utd. at Turf Moor for our first two home games so either one of those would get us off to a great start. The last time we played Man City at home they pasted us 6-1, so it’d be nice to gain some revenge by beating the reigning champions. And of course we’d love to beat Blackburn Rovers again, but sadly they’re in the division below us.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Danny Ings was Championship Player of the Year last year ahead of Ross McCormack and Danny Drinkwater, and we’re looking forward to seeing him take his game to the next level. Right back Keiran Trippier was named in the PFA Championship team for the last two years and seems poised to to become England’s best right back. Michael Kightly, who was on loan from Stoke last season, has now joined us permanently and seems ready to star. 

6. Who will win the league?
As much as I’d like to see someone new push for the title I think it will come down to one of Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea or Arsenal with Liverpool as a bit of a dark horse. If pushed I’d have to go with City.

7. Who will go down?
Interesting that the three promoted teams are the favourites to go down.  I’m going to be optimistic and choose Hull, Crystal Palace and West Brom to go down.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I’ve already said that I think Liverpool have an outsiders chance of winning the league. I also think Southampton will do well in spite of how the bigger clubs are plundering their young talent.

9. Where will you finish?
I’m predicting we’ll finish in 14th place. I think we’ll get enough points to be out of the danger zone and give ourselves another year to continue to establish ourselves in the Premier League. Unfortunately, that’ll mean another year without an East Lancs Derby, but it’ll be worth it.

Chelsea

@JonathanCDavies

Last season: 3rd
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Rivals: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool
Odds: 2/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Last season was strong despite falling at the final hurdles. My greatest hope is that we can push on and go further in the league and Champions League.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
That’s a really tough one. I suppose the biggest fears probably aren’t realistic- getting relegated, not qualifying for the Champions League etc. I suppose it would have to be finishing fourth and having a poor Champions League (don’t think it’ll happen though!)

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?

We all knew where Chelsea needed to strengthen, and they have with the signing of Diego Costa.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Probably Manchester City. The two wins last year were probably our best performances of the season – it would be great to do it again at the Etihad after a few rough years there.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
I’d say Andre Schurrle. He had an okay first year, not bad not great, but he had a brilliant World Cup and will be coming back with the added boost of being a World Champion.

6. Who will win the league?
Chelsea.

7. Who will go down?
West Brom, Burnley and QPR (in no particular order)

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I’m not sure there will be a dark horse this year. I don’t think Liverpool will compete to the same extent this year, and United will be closer. Arsenal are always there or thereabouts but you wouldn’t consider them dark horses.

9. Where will you finish?
Top of the pile!

 

Crystal Palace

@russell2103

Last season: 11th
Manager: Tony Pulis
Rivals: Brighton & Hove Albion, Millwall, Charlton Athletic
Odds: 10000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Survival is still the biggest priority. Same as last year is good enough for me

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation & losing Pulis

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Left back. We don’t have one.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
We don’t really have a rival in the Premier league. So a big scalp like Chelsea/Man U is more appealing than London rivals like West Ham

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Gayle was very impressive in the last few games and could really step up this season.

6. Who will win the league?
Chelsea

7. Who will go down?
Burnley – Ings could be off & he’s being replaced by Marvin Sordell
QPR – another season of players there for the money not the club with the same outcome as before
Hull – strains of Europe will take their toll despise big signings

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Leicester. A very strong squad in the championship and money to spend they could really surprise people & finish top 10 

9. Where will you finish?
14th, comfortably mid table but stability instead of progression in our second season

Everton

@AdamRathe

Last season: 5th
Manager: Roberto Martinez
Rivals: Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City
Odds: 150/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To achieve the Champion’s League. With other sides strengthening yet again, it’ll be another battle, but with Martinez surpassing everyone’s expectations we’re the most optimistic we’ve been.
.
2.What’s your biggest fear?
To not spend the money we all know we have. Martinez MUST be backed.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Up front – Lukaku will be a miss and we’ll need a reliable goal-scorer if we want to achieve our aspirations.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Liverpool – After we should have beat them at Goodison and their mauling of us at Anfield last season – in addition to our higher league finishes from 11-13 – we want to show the gulf isn’t what it seems. It’ll be a huge marker to put down for our aspirations too.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
John Stones – a potential England captain. The expected defensive attributes and the composure and technique to accompany it, all in a 20-year old.
Ross Barkley – Vital player and he’s honing his decision-making, which has always an issue before last season.
Aiden McGeady – could be really important next season. Showed glimpses of his Celtic form and he should find himself a starter at the beginning of the season.

6. Who will win the league?
Chelsea – Mourinho has got the type of striker that is conducive to Chelsea’s style. On paper, he should grab them the goals they lacked last season.

7. Who will go down?
Burnley, West Brom and Swansea

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Tricky one, but if I had to choose I’d go with Sunderland. I can’t work out whether Poyet’s a bit of a gem or just incredibly fortuitous, but I’d say you don’t see that run that kept them up if you’re the latter. I think with a full season to have a crack at the PL, Poyet will put them in the top half. Now watch them go down…

9. Where will you finish?
6th – I hate to say it, but I’d be lying if I expected us to finish above one of Liverpool, United, City, Chelsea or Arsenal. Then again, we’ve not spend significantly yet, so I’d say that answer isn’t quite set in stone.

Hull City

@scottfarrow88

Last season: 16th
Manager: Steve Bruce
Rivals: Leeds United, Scunthorpe United, Grimsby Town
Odds: 5000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
On the pitch, improving on our points tally and position of last season. Off the pitch, the club to stop forcing the Hull Tigers issue

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation. Bruce and the owner are starting to assemble a potentially brilliant side, but god only knows the financial state the club will be in if we go down.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Maynor Figueroa showed signs of promise at the beginning of the season, but it was easily the most vulnerable position last season. Saying that, Robbie Brady will be like a new signing for us this season and Joe Dudgeon will be returning from injury to provide some options in this position.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Most fans would say Leicester and Nigel Pearson, but a repeat feeling of Arsenal in 2008 would be nice.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Curtis Davies. He was solid in the centre of defence for us last year. Robbie Brady was starting to show his worth too before his injury, so keep an eye on him.

6. Who will win the league?
On current signings, I can’t see Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool winning it, and Manchester United I think will struggle to get close to the top 4, so I would have to say Manchester City.

7. Who will go down?
I think it will be a tight one in the bottom half again this season. But I’d go for Burnley, QPR and West Brom.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Leicester. Really liked the work Pearson did when he was at Hull, made some great signings too. They’ve been threatening promotion now for a couple of seasons and I think they’ll surprise a few people. 

9. Where will you finish?
I’d be delighted to make an improvement on last season’s position of 16th. But, if (and hopefully we will) we progress to the group stages in the Europa League, then I’ll be happy if we stay up!

 

Leicester City

@beckytlcfc

Last season: 1st (Championship)
Manager: Nigel Pearson
Rivals: Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Coventry City
Odds: 5000/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Staying comfortably in the Premier League with minimal stress (yeah right on the latter)
.
2.What’s your biggest fear?
Getting less points than Derby THAT season.

 

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
RB- Although RDL is very good and I think will be effective in the prem we need comfortable back up in that position.
Striker – linked with Ulloa & Wickham, think either would be ideal. People are really worried about this but I’m happy we have Nuge, Wood and Vardy who are capable
CB is questionable; we do have, Morgan, Wasyl, Moore & Upson, but considering the age and speed of Wasyl & Upson think we could do with another to strengthen, I think Morgan May struggle a bit.

 

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Everton at home first game. Going into our first game back into the Premier League with a win would be the most incredible thing, other than that I’ll take any wins, no particular massive hate for any Premier League teams.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Matty James – not only one of most promising young players of our squad who was vital for our success last year, but you should look out for him for his pretty face.
Riyad Mahrez – fresh from brilliant experience at the World Cup with Algeria, only getting better, think his trickery and class could be vital for us to catch teams out.
Jeff Schlupp – honestly believe he’ll flourish at new position of LB. Full pre season of training and learning in that position, speed and power he’s got going forward could be a real asset.
Chris Wood – unlucky with injury last year has been a bit off the radar on our success of last year, think will play a bigger part than people would imagine for next season. 

6. Who will win the league?
Chelsea. I think if the imminent signings of Diego Costa, Fabregas and a few others succeed ‘The Special One’ will have a team too strong for the rest of the league, will be a close one think Man City, United & possibly Arsenal could be pushing; providing transfers go through. 

7. Who will go down?
Villa, West Brom/Burnley & QPR – QPR looking to continue with marquee signings they’ll be another team of individuals, think they were lucky to come up last year so think (& hope) they’ll head back down.
Villa were lucky it was a poor league down the bottom last year, haven’t had many inspiring signings which make me feel like they’ll be any better next year.
Then West Brom/ Burnley – didn’t want to say Burnley as think & wanted them to stay up, but their recent signing of Marvin Sordell didn’t show much ambition imo, West Brom just seem uninspiring and haven’t been down in a while. They’ll be scrapping I reckon. 

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Leicester have the potential to be dark horses for success but I’m a massive pessimist when it comes to us, so I can’t choose us.
So, if they complete their potential signings they’ve been linked with I’d say Palace could do very well, considering they were bottom by a long way last Xmas they’re on the up. – not dark horses for the league, but higher than imagined.

9. Where will you finish?
16th, I really believe we have the right backbone of the club and squad to survive and establish ourselves as a Premier League club, but I am scared and think it will be more of a struggle than some people are thinking, but I’m always pessimistic about LCFC.

 

Liverpool

@AcresOfSeven

Last season: 2nd
Manager: Brendan Rogers
Rivals: Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea
Odds: 10/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Mignolet to come into his own, the back four to exude efficiency, Lallana to hit the ground running and Sturridge to build on his form of last season and edge towards ‘World Class’ territory. A trophy would be nice, too.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Squandering the money garnered from the sale of one of the world’s best players on mediocre talent, otherwise known as ‘doing a Spurs’.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Full Back – Johnson, Flanagan, Enrique doesn’t quite cut it at Champions League level – Centre Back, and now of course striker. There are some who think Sturridge is capable of being our lone striker and predominant goal scorer. 24 strikes last season speaks for itself, but his bouts of inconsistency worry me, as does his ability to replicate last season’s form without Suarez. 

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
I don’t think I’m alone in saying Chelsea would be a particularly gratifying win. They took 6 points off of us last year, and essentially destroyed our title aspirations. 

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
 Jordon Ibe, merely 18, a pacy winger of the Sterling Ilk though arguably a more clinical finisher. Expect him to light up pre-season and receive opportunities in the first team before Christmas. Additionally, Jordan Henderson should improve on his Goal Scoring/Assisting from last season. 

6. Who will win the league?
Chelsea, though City will run them Close. I see 4 teams still competing for the title well into April.

7. Who will go down?
West Ham, West Brom and QPR stand out as potential candidates. 

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Burnley to finish top 12, Sunderland in the top 10

9. Where will you finish?
3rd if we make accomplished signings that flourish early, 5th if not. An Fa Cup win is due as well…

 

Manchester City

@mcfc_kyle_nyr

Last season: 1st
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
Rivals: Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea
Odds: 21/10

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
At least one trophy and improve in European competitions.
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2.What’s your biggest fear?
No trophies.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Centre back, but it is a minor concern.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Man Utd.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Fernando Reges and Stefan Jovetic.

6. Who will win the league?
One of Chelsea, Liverpool or Man City.

7. Who will go down?
QPR, Burnley, and Sunderland.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Leicester

9. Where will you finish?
Top 3

 

Let’s Get One Thing Straight: Why “Heterosexual Pride” Marches Don’t Happen

This weekend, thousands rejoiced and celebrated gay pride events held in the cosmopolitan cities of London and New York. LGBT pride events as they’re perhaps more appropriately named take place across many cities every year, and in turn they produce the painfully offensive and irritating question from many; “why isn’t there a ‘straight pride’?”

On the surface, it almost seems an equitable question. We have gay or LGBT pride movements so why not a heterosexual one? After all, those movements’ sole aim is to establish equality for all regardless of sexual orientation. But when you spend more than half a second considering why no such events take place it becomes glaringly obvious why the question itself is just a little bit stupid.

Quite simply put, there isn’t ‘straight pride’ because nobody has ever tried to quash the mass pride of heterosexuals. The LGBT community has suffered and still suffers discrimination and persecution from all walks of life for the sole reason of being a part of that community.A straight female holding hands with her partner as she walks down the street would be unlikely to draw any attention. A lesbian woman doing the same with her girlfriend is far more likely to be met with negativity or abuse. Heterosexuality is outlawed in a total of zero countries, homosexuality is still illegal in 81. And even now is punishable by death in seven of them.

Death.

People are still legally killed for being gay in 2014.

Shameful… The countries in red show where homosexuality is a crime.

Of course, things aren’t as barbaric and oppressive here. In most parts of the UK and indeed many parts of the US, homosexuality is legal and the right to change legal gender is allowed too, but these changes only came in to place as recently as 30 years ago, and same-sex marriage was only approbated last year. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that homophobia is a myth in the Western world. Let’s not forget that two of the three highest polling political parties in the UK possess a significant proportion of members who still oppose the strive for sexual orientation equality.

LGBT youth are still prone to discrimination in the UK, some will be ostracised by their friends and family for the simple crime of being who they are; the same can thankfully not be said for straight people. This year, a BBC Newsbeat survey found that 42% of LGBT though have sought help for depression and anxiety and 52% have reported self-harm at some point in their lives, considerably higher rates than found in heterosexual youths. Stonewall found that in 2012, 55% of LGBT workers experienced bullying in the workplace and 99% ceaselessly heard homophobic phrases. In fact, in the last week alone, nohomophobes.com have tallied 290,754 tweets referencing such homophobic phrases as ‘faggot’, ‘dyke’ and ‘so gay’ – this is just on Twitter, just of English speakers and just one week’s worth of data.

Still wondering when ‘straight pride’ day is? It’s every day. It’s being able to kiss your partner in public without fear of being heckled, segregated or vilified. What would a ‘straight pride’ event even consist of? Shared memories of that time when everyone of the like was free to love who they wanted? Or maybe a fond reflection on the hard-work heterosexuals have put in to win the basic rights they were never traditionally afforded? Maybe, it’s that ‘pride’ is the wrong word – or perhaps the concept itself is misinterpreted. LGBT pride is not about boasting about sexuality, it’s not about showing off or self worship. It is to commemorate the progress made towards triumphing over the legal and societal oppression of the minority, a time to celebrate and feel safe in an all-encompassing environment (including heterosexuals) to be your whole self, for just one or two days a year.

It doesn’t make you homophobic to have ever wondered why ‘straight pride’ doesn’t exist. But when you look at why LGBT pride events are held and indeed needed, it should answer the question. It’s not about revoking the equal right of straight people to celebrate their sexuality. In truth, heterosexuals should be thankful that ‘straight pride’ isn’t required. After all, LGBT pride events are not state-run initiatives, so if you still think an event to bask in the adversity-free existence of the majority as some oddly coveted equivalent to the celebration of a minority’s push for victory over injustice should occur, then organise it yourself.