Friday, 19 December 2008

Reflections on Online Project module

When we started this module, my expectations weren't too high. Using the Internet day-in and day-out, I just thought there wasn't anything new to learn about really. I thought I would get bored with it. So, I wasn't too thrilled to start off with.

How wrong I was! I heard of blogging before, but finally getting the chance and being given and shown the initiative how to do it, was great! There is a difference between hearing of features and then actually actively using them yourself! I think I haven't written more text in six weeks or at least haven't enjoyed it as much ever before. I guess, that is because we were able to choose our own topics of interest with our own opinions in contrast to the other modules where we have to write essays on topics that are given to us, we don't necessarily have much of a clue of, and have to do much more research and have to provide a load of references with it. 

I especially enjoyed writing the Football Features as I explained in my Reflections on it. I could write 100 blogs on the sport but had to keep control of myself. It was difficult for me to make my mind up, what to post and what to leave out, as we obviously had a limit of how much to post. For example with the match report, I had originally planned to write it all in one but when I noticed how much material I had, I made two blogs of it, the Match Summary and Match Report

The opposite it was though with the summary of the weekend's action. I originally thought of making two separate blogs, one with my predictions and reactions to the results and one with the best and worst bits. But when I came to think of it, I thought that to do four out of the five features we had to do all on football, it would be too much on the weekend's action, with hardly any room left for any other features. So, I compromised and put them both in one Weekend Summary feature.

Another part of the Online Project that surprised me, was the Group Project. As I said in my Reflections on it, I was positively surprised in this case, too. Beforehand, I just didn't have a clue about what to do and who would join me on it. But, with Amy's idea my day was saved and I really enjoyed writing about different comedy features and ideas. So, sometimes you are given the ideas and can do more with them than you would have thought previously.

The module also made me realise that my interest and passion in writing and sports has never been stronger. Not all modules do that. That's why this module is definitely one of my favourites, making this semester the best so far for me.

All in all, it was good fun and I learnt more with it than I expected beforehand. It just underlined and confirmed that you never know everything. I am aware now how naive I was, thinking I knew something just to realise and have my eyes opened that this was not the case. But, I guess, as long as you still have those moments of realisation, you are learning and making progress. And that is always good. 

(image provided by the Wedding Dimension website)

Reflecting on the Football Feature

I enjoyed this Football Feature project the most because I could concentrate on a topic that interests me most, that is my passion.

With football, you never run out of material, be it coverage of individual teams or matches, individual players or managers, depending on what is the latest breaking news. Week-in, week-out, there are new matches and clashes, new headlines and material to work with. You can never run out of material to cover! 

And as I always say about sports news in general, it is the only news that isn't dominated by bad news (latest abuse and murder cases, explosions and death tolls in conflict areas, job losses and poverty stats in effect of the credit crunch, etc. etc.). 

As I mentioned in my Feature Idea blog, too, I am a regular follower of football blogs written by various former players and pundits on the Sky Sports Opinion page and was led by their example with my ideas and how to realise them.

There is a short personal background story to this passion of mine: 
I have enjoyed football all my life and started writing about it at a young age. When I was about nine, I had an infection to my brain and lost my memory temporarily. Especially my long-term memory was affected. I started writing down the weekly Premiership results, stats and facts about the top league's teams and especially focused on my beloved Liverpool. I collected everything about them. I started writing down the stats and facts of every match I got to see live of my holy Reds with a little personal match summary at the end of each of them, too. I just always wanted to be up to date and remember the state of the football affairs. 

Now, over ten years later, I could fill a little football library with the stuff that has accumulated over the years. But I still haven't lost my passion for the sports nor to write about it, quite the opposite. That has brought me on onto the career path of becoming a journalist. I want to turn my passion into my job. That is why I am sitting here, doing the course, trying to get my foot in the door. 

So, I hope this explains why I have enjoyed this week's feature blogs the most and can't wait to take it over as my job!

(images taken from: top left:; bottom right:

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Football Feature: Man Utd in Japan for Club World Cup

Not a season goes by without Sir Alex Ferguson complaining about the tight fixture list, especially over Christmas and New Year. With 20 teams in the league, two domestic cup competitions and a selection of European cup competitions, the English Premier League is everything else but lacking in action. Depending on their progress, one team can play up to double the matches a team of the German Bundesliga plays for example.

That's why, it was quite a surprise to see Man Utd take part in this year's Club World Cup. Not only are those extra matches, but they have to fly to the other side of the world - Japan - and back, too. That can't be good for the players, especially at this crucial time of the domestic season. They will come back as wrecks!

Today, Man Utd looked everything else but out of form and thrashed their Japanese League opposition Gamba Osaka 5 : 3 in the semi-final which sees them into Sunday's Club World Cup final against Equadorian side Liga de Quito. 

We will just have to wait and see how this fixture-overload affects them in the next couple of weeks. But if they taste defeat in that time, I can bet a fiver on what Ferguson will blame it on....

(image taken from the Daily Mail)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Football Feature: Reflections

What would Christmas time be without football?!

Having grown up in Germany where football takes time out over Christmas and New Year since the 1986/87 season (yes, it’s true!!!), I know there are actually places where they celebrate the holidays without a single game! 

Thank god my parents have Sky Plus! I could not even try to imagine what Boxing Day and the New Year would be without the main meals and matches of the season! It is the most decisive period of the season! Whoever ends up top of the Christmas tree/table and has a happy New Year ends up the happiest end of the season, too, nine times out of ten!

When the Germans blow their final whistles of the year, the English season just kicks off to its peak time with big - if not the biggest and most decisive - matches like title defenders Man Utd against contenders Chelsea (11/01/2009) and Arsenal versus top-of-the-table Liverpool (21/12/2008, can’t wait!). 

Other juicy delights from the current top seven: Seventh place Everton against second Chelsea who keep the chase close at the top with only one point separating them from top Liverpool at the moment (22/12/2008); Champions League place face-off between Aston Villa and low-in-form Arsenal (26/12/2008); high flyers Hull against Aston Villa who want to consolidate their chances of competing in Europe next season (30/12/2008).

These amongst many other fixtures may, and most probably will as always, prove the most decisive of the season – at the top and bottom of the table.

As a Liverpool fan, I obviously have the Reds on my Christmas and New Year wish list for glory and as champions, but apart from that, I wish all teams and fans a juicy, festive and happy Christmas and New Year! Christmas and football forever!

(image taken from lakenheath old boys blog)

Monday, 15 December 2008

Football Feature: Weekend summary

My predictions - actual results

Aston Villa 2 : 2 Bolton - 4 : 2

Chelsea 2 : 0 West Ham - 1 : 1

Liverpool 2 : 1 Hull City - 2 : 2

Man City 0 : 1 Everton - 0 : 1

Middlesborough 1 : 1 Arsenal - 1 : 1

Portsmouth 1 : 1 Newcastle - 0 : 3

Stoke 1 : 0 Fulham - 0 : 0

Sunderland 2 : 1 West Brom - 4 : 0

Tottenham 2 : 2 Man Utd - 0 : 0

Wigan 0 : 2 Blackburn - 3 : 0

Best Bits - to keep the replay button pressed on:

Goal: Danny Guthrie's swerving smasher gave David James no chance whatsoever to avoid the 3 : 0.

Shot: David Bentley's 25-yard left-foot volley was saved brilliantly by Edwin van der Sar.

Save: Four crucial saves by Gomes in the last ten minutes of the match denied Man Utd's Giggs and Park one of the Red Devil's typical last-gasp winners.

Player: After all the stick against him in previous weeks: Heurelho Gomes got rightly voted man of the match for Tottenham against Man Utd with Edwin van der Sar performing strong on the other side though, too.

Team: Sunderland and Newcastle after their first wins - home since Roy Keane's departure and away respectively and both of them convincingly. Makes a nice change with a lot of nice goals, seven between the two.

Match: Tottenham 0 : 0 Man Utd - just don't know how it stayed 0 : 0, the result doesn't reflect the match in the slightest! But thanks to the goalies, it stayed that way past the 90 minutes.

Worst Bits - you'ld rather forget:

Goal: Jamie Carragher's own goal - ouch! When one of the top-defenders of the league has a flap-out, he just puts the ball in his own net with no opposing player even near him. Why???

Shot: Van Persie missed a golden chance when he let the ball from Adebayor's pass through his legs right in front of goal. How???

Player: Fulham's John Pantsil for his theatrical collapse to the ground after being headbutted by Stoke's Ricardo Fuller. Why???

Team: Blackburn - with ten defeats and three draws since their last win against Newcastle back on 27th September, Paul Ince is standing on very thin, cracking ice!

Moment: Two penalties that weren't given, that would have undoubtedly changed the course of the match and with it the result: Portsmouth penalty for Nicky Butt's blatant handball in front of his goal; Middlesbrough penalty for Clichy's fowl on Johnson - he put his hands up immediately and thereby gave himself away.

Match: Stoke 0 : 0 Fulham, just because it was the match with the least action apart from Pantsil's drama antique.

(Heading image provided by

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Football Feature: MOTD vs Football First

BBC's Match of the Day versus Sky Sports' Football First

I grew up with that intro music of Match of the Day making or breaking my weekend - depending on the results of course. Since 1964, it was the only chance for football fans to see the action of the weekend - the goals, the fowls, the decisive bloopers and 
errors that make you cringe and the darn refs that can't do their job right to save their lives. 

Then throughout the 90s, Sky established itself in the sports and football world, showing more and more live games. Since 1992, Gillette Soccer Saturday is always a fun to watch, with Jeff Stelling reeling off the facts and stats of the matches and the other experts on the panel - consisting of former players like Phil Thompson, Chris Kamara, Matt Le Tissier and Charlie Nicholas - discussing, analysing and reporting on the matches and goals and their reactions keeping the viewers entertained as well as updated. 

But BBC was still the only one to show highlights of the action on the same day - until Sky Sports News was launched in 1998 and they showed highlights on the same day, after ten pm, too. Then, with the start of the 2004/2005 season, Sky Sports introduced Football First. The programme goes on air Saturday nights from 8.25pm showing the full 90 minutes of selected matches from that afternoon. That gave fans and views the chance for the first time to see the full action and complete match on the fixture day. It was the first time it wasn't BBC who showed the action highlights of the day.

So, more and more, Match of the Day drifted into the background of all the full and live action on Sky. For a couple of years, from 2001 to 2004, BBC lost its rights to show Premiership action, but it wasn't successful and didn't last long with ITV. Now again, it's strong as ever.

I love Sky just as much as I do BBC. As a student, the only chance I get to watch Sky Sports is at my parents. Obviously, my holy freeview box gives me the opportunity to watch Sky Sports News and I love it for that. But I still appreciate and enjoy Match of the Day just as much. At the end of the day, when I come back from work, it's the perfect summary of all the day's action. Football First I probably couldn't sit through end of a long day anyway, I just want the main parts, the juicy bits of the action of all the matches, not just one, then I'm happy. And for its history, I feel, Match of the Day belongs to every football fan's diary. It is the mother of all football programmes, if Sky like it or not.

(Match of the Day picture taken from BBC website)
(Sky Sports picture taken from truelovemusic website)

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Football Feature: Match Report

Middlesbrough 1 : 1 Arsenal

Arsene Wenger's record-700th match at Arsenal ended up a disappointment as too many matches have already this season.

Middlesbrough started the brighter of the two, enjoying more possession and creating more chances. They were strong winds in Arsenal's back in the opening ten minutes until - against run of play - Arsenal warned Boro with a good chance in the 11th minute.

Soon after that Diaby went close again from the left, winning a corner for the Gunners. From that set-piece, Middlesbrough showed some disappointing defending, Robert Huth being drawn away by Diaby leaving Adebayor free to score an easy goal from a Fabregas cross (see picture, right).

Both clubs enjoyed good chances after that but not challenging the goalkeepers too much and Arsenal the more dominant of the two - until an equaliser came like out of the blue. Arsenal seemed settled 1:0 in the lead until they gave away the ball near the box to Tuncay Sanli who crossed it to ex-Gunner Aliadiere who smashed it into the net giving Almunia no chance to stop it (see picture, below left).

The equaliser transformed the atmosphere and run of the match with Middlesbrough keeping the pressure on Arsenal and having a penalty appeal denied just minutes later. Clichy looked guilty fowling Johnson and putting his hands up immediately, but the referee showed no interest.

Moments later, van Persie, who had a quiet match, missed a golden chance to take the lead back just before half time, letting the ball drift through his legs to go out for a goal kick.

At half time, Middlesbrough had to be the happier with Arsenal looking more and more frustrated. This hardly changed in the second half. Middlesbrough learnt from the defensive snooze that gave away the goal in the first half and stayed solid in the back, blocking shot after shot that came from the Gunners. Downing pulled a great save out of Almunia on the hour mark but apart from that most of the chances fell to Arsenal - with no prevail.

It stayed 1 : 1 which was a fair result in the end after Middlesbrough's defence didn't falter and fail against all the late pressure Arsenal put them under. With only three wins in the last eight games, the Gunners stay 4th - but Aston Villa can overtake them if they win against Bolton later this afternoon. Boro go up one spot for the time-being to 11th, but haven't won in the last five matches.

Both teams will have enough to contemplate about what has to be done to change their forms.

(pictures taken from News of the World)

Football Feature: Match Summary

Result: Middlesbrough 1 : 1 Arsenal (HT 1 : 1)
My Prediction: 1 : 1

Middlesbrough Goals: 1: 28:17 min Jeremie Aliadiere (10)

Arsenal Goals: 1: 16:16 min Emmanuel Adebayor (25)

Middlesbrough Bookings: -

Arsenal Bookings: 47. min Vassiriki Diaby (2)

Middlesbrough Changes: 1. 90.min: On: Mohamed Shawky (15) Off: Didier Digard (8)
2. 93.min: On: Marvin Emnes (11) Off: Adam Johnson (28)

Arsenal Changes: 1. 82.min: On: Nicklas Bendtner (26) Off: Abou Diaby (2)

1st half + 2nd half stats = total

Middlesbrough Attempts: 4 + 2 = 6
Arsenal Attempts: 6 + 6 = 12

Middlesbrough On target: 2 + 1 = 3
Arsenal On target: 3 + 2 = 5

Middlesbrough Offsides: 0 + 1 = 1
Arsenal Offsides: 2 + 0 = 2

Middlesbrough Corners: 2 + 1 = 3
Arsenal Corners: 3 + 5 = 8

Middlesbrough Free kicks: 2 + 7 = 9
Arsenal Free kicks: 3 + 3 = 6

Middlesbrough 55% + 41% = 48%
Arsenal 45% + 59% = 52%
(*taken from BBC Live match stats)

**Passing Success: Middlesbrough 71.3% : 81.5% Arsenal
**Tackles/Success: Middlesbrough 19/89.5% : 21/90.5% Arsenal
**Territorial Advantage: Middlesbrough 48.3% : 51.7% Arsenal
(**taken from Sky Sports' match report)

Middlesbrough Lineup: 21 Ross Turnbull, 29 Tony McMahon, 5 Chris Riggott, 4 Robert Huth, 6 Emanuel Pogatetz, 28 Adam Johnson, 8 Didier Digard, 20 Julio Arca, 19 Stewart Downing, 17 Tuncay Sanli, 10 Jeremie Aliadiere

Arsenal Lineup: 1 Manuel Almunia, 3 Bacary Sagna, 10 William Gallas, 20 Johan Djourou, 22 Gael Clichy, 15 Neves Denilson, 17 Alexandre Billong Song, 4 Francesc Fabregas, 11 Robin van Persie, 25 Emmanuel Adebayor

Man of the Match: Jeremie Aliadiere

Referee: Peter Walton

Monday, 1 December 2008

Billionaires or fans? Who is more important, who counts more in modern football?

Chelsea were the first and set the example with Roman Abramovich which many Premier League teams have followed since (in no specific order): Manchester United with Malcolm Glazer, Man City with Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan who took over from former Thailand PM Thaksin Shinawatra, Newcastle with Mike Ashley, West Ham with Björgólfur Guðmundsson, Aston Villa with Randy Lerner, Fulham with Mohamed Al Fayed, Portsmouth with Alexandre Gaydamak, Tottenham with Joseph Lewis and last but not least my beloved Liverpool with George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

There is one thing that jumps out; one thing that comes to mind listing those takeover clubs, names and owners; to me anyway: All the negative headlines that have come with them throughout the period they have been with their clubs (with only a couple of exceptions).

The day my Merseyside Reds were taken over, I was full of expectations and asperations on the one hand, just as the club, staff and players themselves, I'm sure. But on the other hand, the other side of me cried, feeling like my team had lost its soul (David Moores and his family having been at the heart of the club for over half a century before). A club with all its history and legends can't be put into the hands of one or two individuals, I think that goes against the whole team spirit and principle of the team sport. What would Chelsea be without Abramovich?

Nowhere near where they are now and were the last couple of seasons, that's for sure! All the big names, managers and players wouldn't have come into question (UEFA president Michel Platini went as far as calling them 'cheats').

But, what's so bad about that, I hear you ask. All the glamour and glory, is only one side of the coin, as Nick Harris pointed out well in his article for the Independent. It would be naïve to just see that. The other side has especially come to light with the credit crunch, with the debts and clashes of plans, opinions and what decisions are to be made on the business side and with it the sports side, all dominating the headlines.

All this has in the past had its consequences: Jose Mourinho's and Kevin Keegan's departures at Chelsea and Newcastle respectively are two primary examples; West Ham and the near-on liquidation of their Icelandic owner with the credit crunch; George Gillett's and Tom Hicks' conflict which never let the rumours of a sale of their stake settle, the Credit Crunch just adding more spice to it.

So, what else, what can be done, I hear you ask. Barcelona have shown it, so have Real Madrid and I hope Liverpool can follow such elite examples: Where fan groups have taken over. They are the heart and soul of their teams, they make out the game(s) outside and around the pitch just as much as the staff and players do on the pitch. Without them the teams couldn't exist, full stop.

The Spirit of Shankly Group has made a clear statement of their members' intentions and announced their plans of putting a takeover bid in for their club Liverpool FC next year, addressing letters to the club and their owners (=> Thanks but No Yanks, just one strong example). I don't know and have my doubts about if they are going to succeed. But I hope, one fine day, it will work out somehow and they will be able to stabilise the club and give the team and game back its identity, heart and soul.

(picture source: