Prospects of Newcastle in the 2007-2008 English Premier League

Without a doubt, the appointment of Sam Allarydce, Big Sam, as the new gaffer or manager for Newcastle for the 2007-2008 season had been greeted with cheers by the Toon Army. With his growing reputation of grooming of Bolton Wanderers that were challenging for Europe and giving the Big Four of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, it is widely expected that Newcastle would finally challenge for Europe at least.

In the off season, Big Sam has radically transformed his Newcastle squad; making wholesale changes to his team and moulding it into his own image. Let take a closer view on the 2007-2008 squad below.

At the back, with Irish Number 1 Shay Given in goal, Newcastle is usually in safe hands. In front of him, there are the ever improving England U21 Steven Taylor and new recruit the Czech David Rozehnal, Newcastle has improved a previous weakness. Another indicator was the release of Craig Moore, Oliver Bernard, Alan O’brian and Titus Bramble from defence shows his determination to cut the dead wood from the team. Plus the transfer of or the addition of Geremi from Chelsea, Claudio Cacapa from Lyon, Jose Enrique from Villarreal and Habbib Beye from Marseille to the likes of Steve Carr, Peter Ramage and Celestine Babayaro , Big Sam has rebuilt up the defence and his options at the back.

As for midfield interestingly enough, Allardyce has allowed the likes of Kieran Dyer, Scott Parker and Nobby Solano to leave St James Park. These three players have been the main stay of previous Newcastle midfield. In came Joey Barton from Manchester City and Faye from Sam’s old club Bolton. Looking at it, it could be a wise move on Big Sam’s part as Dyer had his injuries, Solano is getting older in age and Parker may not be in his mould of a player. Furthermore, with exciting youngsters such James Milner and Charles N’Zogbia added with the experience of Nicky Butt, Emre and Damien Duff, Big Sam has a strong midfield to choose from for every match. Only concern is the addition of Barton may test his abilities to the fullest as he had been a problem player at City.

Up front, what more can be said of a front line of Micheal Owens, Mark Viduka from Boro, Alan Smith from Manchester United, Obafemi Martins and Shola Ameobi. A combination of youth and experience. The major concern of Allarydce would be the health of his strikers at his disposal especially Owen’s. Without a doubt, with Viduka and Ameobi, Sam may be trying to play a big-small combination up front if Owen is fit.

So far the performance have been encouraging though the recent defeat to Derby away is a wrong step down. Newcastle is current in 10th position, winning 2, drawing 2 and losing 1. At the moment, Newcastle is a team in transition as Big Sam is still moulding his teams to his ideals and playing styles. It can be strongly concluded once the team is consolidated to the playing style of Big Sam and gotten used to each other, performance should improve.

It can safely be concluded that Newcastle should be strongly challenging for a European Spot come end May 2008 with the current team and Big Sam’s abilities.

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FC Barcelona Facts – History of Spanish Giants

FC Barcelona, one of the world’s richest and most successful clubs, has a rich history and a culture that is synonymous with the Catalonian part of Spain. Founded in 1899 by a group of English, Swiss and Spanish footballers led by Joan Gamper, the club has grown in stature with every passing day since its inception and managed to achieve the highest stature in club football by winning all the trophies that is possible by the side to win. Here are a few more interesting FC Barcelona facts for the readers’ digest.

Since its inception, the club has won many trophies in both domestic and big competitions. Barcelona has been a club with arguably the best forward line in modern football. Back in 1910 when the club was relatively new and was full of players unknown and no fan following, they used to play matches with local clubs. It was back in the same year when they participated in the first ever UEFA competition. This was followed by a collaboration with the Football Association of Spain. Barton along with a host of other clubs propounded the theory of inventing and creating a new league for the top tier of Spanish football where teams would participate and the ultimate winner would be the best club of Spain.

Barcelona along with Atletic Bilbao and arch rivals Real Madrid remain the only 3 teams till date to have never been relegated from the top tier of Spanish football. Barcelona always has a political history as the club considered to be the heart of Catalonia, which had been an area of disturbance in Spain as the region openly resisted the policies set by the Capital of Spain, Madrid. Catalonia has always been a part of Spain and it was during the late 2000 when the Spanish government allowed Catalonia to break away from Spain and create their own state. Barcelona, till date, has won a sextet and ten Champions League trophies which is in itself a big feat.

Barcelona saw real progress back in 1978 when Nunez was appointed as the president of the club. His main objective was to make Barcelona a world-class team and a brand throughout the world. He remained at the club for 22 years and had set stringent wage policies to make sure that no Ayer becomes bigger than the club itself. He let go of star players likes of Romario, Ronaldo and Maradona just because he would not meet the unrealistic demands set by them back then. The team became invincible under the leadership of Johan Cruyff as he built a dream team consisting of a core of Spanish and English players like Pep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman.

The Barcelona team became a dream team and Cruyff’s tactics was highly appreciated as he would bring the ideology of introducing total foot for the first team in the game. After the resignation of Nunez as president, the La Porter saw the club decline further. They won back their lost glory in 2008 when the club came back to the mainframe with the signing of Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho who decimated Real Madrid single-handedly. What followed after being the exponential meteoric rise of Lionel Messi through the amateur ranks at the club and it went on to win the Champions League along with La Liga and the Copa del Ray.

The club is ranked among the richest club in the world with a net property of nearly 2 billion pounds. Barcelona is a club to be feared and continues to hold the legendary status.

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The Most Popular Liverpool FC Merchandise

There is no doubt that Liverpool FC is one of the truly great soccer clubs of the world. Admittedly in recent years they may not have dominated the game in the way they did in the 1970s but the truth is that they have always made their impact felt at the highest level of European soccer.

And so it is hardly surprising that Liverpool has thousands of ardent fans scattered all over the world. Many of these fans never lose a single opportunity to feel closer to their club. One way of doing this is by getting hold player’s shirts and other playing kits and memorabilia that can easily be found in stores selling Liverpool merchandise.

Actually there is a very wide range of different stuff that you can buy. Even with the team shirts you will have to choose between the shirts the boys usually wear for their home games and what they would ordinary don for away matches. Or if you are a really serious fan you can make sure that you get both the strips.

As is the case with other soccer clubs, Liverpool FC player’s shirts are amongst the most popular merchandise that fans look to own so as to identify themselves with this great soccer club. There are even fans who purchase the complete team set right up to the goalkeeper.

Liverpool merchandise can also be a great idea if you need to get a gift for somebody whom you already know is a fan of the club. However it may be a good idea to start by finding out what memorabilia they already have so that you do not end up getting them something that they got a long time ago.

Another Liverpool item that is wildly popular are the hats if you have watched Liverpool games on TV you may have noticed what most fans like wearing. The most popular hats are called the beanies and will usually be decorated with the Liverpool colours and may sometimes even have the names of players and shirt numbers they usually wear.

Fans usually prefer to have the names of Liverpool legends on these hats. One such Liverpool soccer player who is a true legend is Steve Gerard. Although at a tender age he even had a trial with Manchester United, Gerard ended up signing his first professional soccer contract with Liverpool. The amazing thing is that in his first season he always looked pretty nervous and not the kind of player who would make any impact at Anfield. But in the 2000-2001 season Gerard exploded. Not only did he score 10 goals but he was clearly a very key member of the team that ended up winning both the FA cup and were also UEFA champions.

Who can forget Gerard’s enormous contribution to that sensational Champions league victory where Liverpool came from behind having conceded 3 goals by half time and ended up winning. This determined player won man of the match then.

And so you will understand when Liverpool fans seem to be crazy about Gerard wearing all kinds of team memorabilia and Liverpool merchandise that has his name or shirt number on it.

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