SPORT - STOCKI SURMISING

JOSH ADAMS - OUTSTANDING MOMENT OF SPORTSMANSHIP

Josh Adams

As if the result wasn’t enough. Italy beating Six Nations Champions Wales 22-21…

It was the unbelievable manner of the win. Leading for almost an hour it looked like Italy had ran out of steam. Wales began to dominate and as the time reached 78 minutes there was really only one team who would score any more points - Wales.

And then… then Ange Capuozzo picks it up well inside his own half and starts running. It seems that he has taken a wrong option and was running right into an army of Welsh defenders BUT a brilliant side step and he is away. A pass to Edoardo Padovani and he runs in under the posts.

Italy are within a point with a conversion under the post. Paolo Garbisi duly obliges and it has to be said that whatever happens in the rest of the evening, perhaps an Irish Triple Crown, and then maybe a close call between Ireland and France to win the Championship, this moment will probably be the definitive historic moment of the 2022 Six nations. 

Italy without a win in 36 games win. In such drama. With such genius.

As if all that is not enough commentator Jonathan Davies had given Welsh winger Josh Adams the Man of the Match award for what seemed to be his own moment of genius and try that seemed to win the match for Wales.

Just a second too late to give it to the iconic player of the match, perhaps Championship Ange Capuozzo.

Well on a day when genius had one over drama that had one over historic result… there is more…

After the final whistle when Italians are weeping tears of utter joy and Welsh players are hanging their heads in utter dejection, a beautiful moment of sportsmanship. 

Having been presented with his Man Of The Match medal Josh Adams immediately seeks out  Italian hero Ange Capuozzo and hands it to him. That is utter class and is to be celebrated. 


FOOTBALL SCHIZOPHRENIA - REAL LIFE AND OR JUST FANTASY

FL team

"Is this the real life/Or is this just fantasy" - Queen

 

“I suppose you’ll be happy if Brighton score twice in the second half and beat Liverpool?” says my father-in-law at lunch.

Bryan was 86 this week and like many of his age new tricks don’t come easily. I don’t think he can fathom at all my football fandom schizophrenia when I answer that 

I would like that Bryan because it would give City that extra wee gap at the top of the league but on the other hand I wouldn’t because I would like clean sheets for Van Dijk and Trent Alexander for my Fantasy League. A goal from Salah would help too!

Isn’t that what Fantasy League does for you in these last 10 games of the Premiership season. It is a sporting schizophrenia. In the real world you want this. In Fantasy League you want this.

Can I suggest that it is more difficult as a Manchester City fan. Pep’s squad rotation in the latter stages of the Champions League play havoc with your Fantasy League head and eventually after De Bruyne is rested for more games than you can afford you have to look elsewhere for Fantasy League consistency. As it stands I only have one City player in my Fantasy League team.

Jurgen plays a more consistent game although that is starting to change. Jota and Diaz seem interchangeable just now so Jota had to go. Salah though is in every team sheet. He is also the highest scoring player in Fantasy League and you never have to ask questions about who to captain as he rarely lets you down. He’s scored while I have been typing!

In the old days I would never have had a United player in my Fantasy team. I didn’t want to want Rooney to score a hat-trick to win my Fantasy League head to head. Now that I would sign them there is nobody worth signing!

As it was with United it should now be with City’s main rivals Liverpool but I take my Fantasy League more seriously now and need their points! I probably also like Liverpool more than I ever would United.

It all leaves me with a football schizophrenia. Football is a love that is deeply embedded at an early age. I do not remember a time that I didn’t have a ball at my feet and wasn’t watching football and working out the best players. 

Subbuteo was my first Fantasy League as my mate Frank Kelly and I choose our favourite players across clubs and indeed countries. Frank’s Peter Lorimer to my Colin Bell.   

As a result football results can effect my mood. City win I am a happy boy for days. They lose. Oh my. Don’t look at me. Janice suffers that mood! It is almost the same with Fantasy League. My captain scores, adds an assist and I have a clean sheet or two. Good times. On a week that no one making an impression… Unhappy.

So the next couple of months will know tensions inside of me, between my City fandom and Fantasy League interest. You might understand. Empathise. If you don’t, don’t laugh at me. Pray for Janice!


MY TRIBUTE TO SERGIO AGUERO

Sergio

So, Sergio Aguero has had to retire for health reasons. A sad day.

I was on holiday in Spain in 2011 when I read about City signing an Athletico Madrid player called Aguero. In the restaurant where we had our meal that evening the waiter was English. He’d been living in Spain for a number of years. He was a United fan! Near the end of the meal I asked him about this new signing, Aguero? He looked serious for a moment and said that he was gutted that he had gone to City. He’s fantastic, he added.

Not much more than a month later and I knew what he was talking about. Coming on for his debut as a 59th minute substitute Aguero scored a tap in and a 25 yarder and in between assisted another goal for David Silva. I like him already!

I had of course no idea how much I would like him! Without doubt over the next few years Aguero was a reason that City won trophies. He had this ability to kick a football at any height and from any angle. His balance. His agility. His eye for the ball and the goal. He scored every kind of goal, as that debut suggested he would. 260 goals in 390 games for City. Amazing. 

Yet of course 259 of those goals pale into insignificance when we remember that one of his goals is the most iconic goal in City’s history and maybe Premier League history. 

I of course missed it as it happened. I stopped watching after 87 minutes and took myself off to the garden where I stood heartbroken waiting for the inevitable. One up any half time, only City could contrive to lose the title on the last day of the season, against ten man team struggling to survive relegation. 

From the garden, I heard a cheer and felt sure it was the United fans down the road. As I slouched my shoulders to go back inside and face the misery my mate Monty is at the back door with a smile as wide as the height of him. What had I missed? Dzeko’s equaliser in jury time and and then 20 seconds into the 94th minute - AGUEROOOOOO! City had won the League for the first time in 44 years!

Having missed it live I watched it back every single day for a week and wept every single time. The build up, Balotelli’s outstretched leg, his only assist of the season, Aguero’s touch and shot and then that running away with his shirt swinging like a windmill! Wonderful. 

And if you watched as the news trickled through to Manchester United who thought they’d won it. Seeing the smirk wipe off Sir Alex’s little face as he comes to terms with the impossible and his chewing of gum slowing down to an almost choke. Wonderful.

It is ten years since that first title. 93.20 is on City shirts this season as a reminder and celebration. The Aguero moment!

Last season I could see that Sergio was struggling. Not only did he seem to be getting a lot of injuries but he was finding it hard to get his fitness back after each one. I suggested to my City supporting friends that it was over. Aguero didn’t have the physique to be a Ronaldo. 

It is a shame that he retired in Barcelona. The injuries that I had feared meant that he only scored one goal in just four games for Barcelona. It would have been a much more meaningful send off if had happened at the Etihad. That is where his life’s work was played out. That is where is legacy is.

It is a sad day but a good decision to put health over football. Hopefully very soon he can step out into that pitch in Manchester where he created his legend and get the ovation that his career deserves. I wonder what that United supporting Spanish waiter is thinking a decade on. 


EMMA RADUCANU - STOCKI SURMISES

Skynews-emma-raducanu-wins-us-open_5509678

Emma Raducanu? What? How? Extraordinary.

I think on this side of the US Open it might be easy to downplay what 18 year old Emma Raducanu just did. Tim Henman kept saying, “it’s a joke”. He didn’t mean funny haha. He meant weird and bizarre and unbelievable. 

Tim knows. Years and years of trying and he never won that elusive Major. Andy Murray knows because of how long it took him to break Britains 70 plus years without a Men’s Wimbledon title. British tennis fans know because it was 44 years since Virginia Wade won Britain’s last women’s Major.

Yet, here is Emma. Doing her A levels in June. Getting to the second week of Wimbledon where she wasn’t beaten on the court but by something physical and had to retire. 

Here’s her second Major. She had to qualify. So, in three weeks she played ten matches. Won them all and didn’t lose a set. Not one set. 

We do remember she is only 18. Yet, from nowhere this young girl arrives in the international tennis world as a complete package. She has all the shots, a tactical mind, a mature choice of shots and a composure of cool. She’s an athlete too.

So without all the years of work she just goes right to the top of her sport. In a few weeks. It is indeed a joke. A ridiculous idea. Almost unbelievable if we hadn’t watched it with our own eyes and her name hadn’t been inscribed onto the trophy.

It was quite the final. If Raducanu is a teenage wonder, she isn’t the only one. Her opponent Leylah Fernandes is a Philippine fighter out of Canada who has heralded her arrival on the same world scene. Tennis could do with these teenagers becoming the Federer and Djokovic of their era. More finals like last night’s would not go amiss!

Both players showed a maturity beyond their years. Yet, at the crucial and controversial moment Raducanu had a little more. An unfortunate cut with blood running down her leg at 30-40 as she served for history might have been seen as a blessing in disguise as a time out gave her a chance to compose herself. As she said though she had to get back up and serve a break point down. Fernandez unfortunately let her disappointment cause her to lose composure. Mental win for Raducanu… and the match… and championship.

It was a Fairytale in New York, She was so astounding at Wimbledon that I wondered against my own rationale that she might actually win it. In New York she has. What happens now is going to be interesting. 

If she keeps her head and doesn’t get injured the tennis world and every possible record is at her feet. It is hard though to keep her intensity for 10 years never mind 15. She’s also a millionaire overnight and her talent and title and smile are a sponsor’s dream. She’s is going to have to deal with the money and fame - fast. Let us hope that she can.

Finally, her teacher. You know they old story. “Emma you need to knuckle down and get grades. Tennis is not a secure career.” With no British Women’s Majors finalist in 44 years who’d blame the teacher. Well Madam… or sir… she just earned twice as much money in three glorious record breaking tennis weeks than you will make in your entire life. At least you have a story to share at parties!


TRIBUTE TO BRIAN KIDD - A CITY & UNITED HERO

KIDDO

It is a sad day for Manchester City fans. It should however be a day of celebration and thanks yous.

Brian Kidd has stepped down from the coaching staff after 12 years at City. They have been, of course, the most glorious 12 years in City history. 

It is much bigger than that for me personally. As a kid (see what I did!) I was a Manchester United fan. The first match I remember watching all 120 minutes of was the 1968 European Cup Final. Manchester United beat Benfica 4-1. My hero George Best scored one… Bobby Charlton scored two… and on his 19th birthday, Brian Kidd scored the other.

That night he helped fulfil Sir Matt Busby dream for a European Cup.

53 years later he was on the coaching staff, this time for the sky blue side of his home city, this time on his 72nd birthday to help City fulfil the same dream. Sadly City let him down. What bookends those would have been.

In between Brian Kidd has led an amazing career criss crossing the city. He played for United 67-74, then, after two years at Arsenal, starred in a very good City team 77-79, scoring 44 goals in 98 games!

Later he went red again and was Sir Alex’s right hand man 91-98 before arriving back at the sky blue side in 2009.

Something makes him unique and I believe gives him a most special part in the history of Manchester City’s two football teams.

He was there beside Ferguson in 1993 when United won the league title for the first time in 26 years. Iconic pictures of both of them on the pitch. He was also there 19 years later beside Roberto Mancini when City won the title for the first time in 44 years. Iconic pictures of him and Mancini after the Aguero moment!

I’ll miss him. He was that link between my childhood and now, between my old heroes and now. He’s been the one permanent since I started watching football. Some memories. Some career. Some man. Brian Kidd, a Manchester hero.


SURMISING CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN'S COLLAPSE

Denmark fans

I have never been so glad that I fell asleep during a football match. I woke up to texts and social media messages. Was I watching? We cannot believe what we are seeing. I quickly found out that footballer Christian Eriksen had almost died on the pitch, having been taken seriously ill during the European Championship match while he was playing for Denmark against Finland. 

I missed the near tragedy and the trauma that millions had to go through live on their TV screens. I was delighted and relieved to know that he was awake. My heart also went out… to millions.

When people are struck with illness as Christian Eriksen it is usually private and quiet. Has it ever been so public? 

It did not surprise me that it was Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel who got his team to make a circle of protection and privacy around his team mate. 

For me, Schmeichel is a hero. It is not the first time he has raced to a tragedy. He was first on the scene when the Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's helicopter crashed on take off  just a few years ago. He is then seen consoling Christian’s wife Sabrina during last night’s tragedy. What a human?

Yet, nothing could cover up the trauma going on in that football pitch.  I pray for those players. The team mates who stood surrounding their friend as the paramedics fought for his life. I cannot imagine what emotions they were suffering. 

Or Christian’s wife in the crowd. Or the Finish team. Or the match officials and managers and crowd in the stadium and watching on TV. I pray for everyone who went through the trauma.

For sure the match should not have restarted. There was no way that Eriksen’s team mates could have been in any state to give their best. They should have given a nil-nil and moved on. However, that is now gone.

I continue to pray for Christian himself and his family. Please God may he be back to health and strength very soon. I pray too for everyone still struggling with the events they were caught up in.

I also found it fascinating how when thrown into such events, people start talking about sending “best wishes” “positive thoughts” “all my best thoughts”. They seem to have reached out in their desperation for something beyond themselves.

It sounds like prayer to me. Atheists might suggest that this is why people created God in the first place. A crutch? Somewhere to go for help when they had nothing left in themselves. 

I surmise that it might be the other way around. Maybe there is a spiritual soul within us that is aware of something, someone, somewhere. Maybe it is our natural instinctive reaction to pray because it is part of our human DNA.

Whatever… as Sam Smith sang a year or two go:

 

Maybe I'll pray, pray
Maybe I'll pray
I have never believed in you, no
But I'm gonna pray

 

 Join me with whatever you define your good wishes. Get well soon Christian Eriksen.

 


CITY LOSING TO CHELSEA AND MY COINING THE PERFECT TEBLE

Stocki and City

“How is he? Is he alright?”

I think more people asked Janice how I was than actually asked me. I was thankful for the gentle sporting engagements people gave me. I believe that good sportsmanship is a value of following Jesus. I have no time for acerbic bipartisan football “banter”. 

Anyway, I am fine. Football is a funny thing. It is all about 90 minutes on one evening. The ecstasy of winning is intense and then quickly disperses. The heartache too. Also, it was a one off game. Anything can happen. We lost a recent Cup Final to Wigan. I had grieved all day, preparing for the worst. 

In those 90 minutes Chelsea were the better team for most of it. Their back 4 and defensive midfielders were superb. Kante, James, Chilwell and Rudiger - excellent! 

City were beaten by their starting line up. Everyone but Pep knows that. No defensive midfielders and players had no idea where they were playing (think De Bruyne!). Pep talked all week about City needing to play like themselves then put a team out that couldn’t be ourselves. The Champions League has Pep’s head and two years in a row his over thinking cost us. We might win more domestically with Pep but Champions League? I am not sure.

As many of you know I am more up for more Premierships than Champions League anyway. So many of you try to convince me about how wonderful it is and how much we need it but for me it is just another Cup. 

It is about 90 minutes. You don’t need to be the best team in your country to win it. Indeed Liverpool and Chelsea have won it in recent years without even making the English top 4! The Premiership is the best league in the world and you win it over 38 games. Give me that any day.

BUT… I will make you a concession. There is a way that I would love to win the The Champions League that might eclipse simply the money and prestige. I introduce you to The Perfect Treble. I have never ever heard it mentioned. It is, in my opinion, the Holy Grail of football.

It has only been done twice by English Clubs. Liverpool in 1984 and Manchester United in 2008. This Perfect Treble is qualifying for the Champions League as English Champions and being English Champions again in the season that you win it. That is the only way since UEFA allowed non Champions to play in the Champions League that makes it a real achievement for me. 

That even Liverpool and United have only done this once makes me suspicious in the modern era that you can have a tilt at both. City were close but winning and keeping the mental intensity to win another Premiership and get through all the rounds of the Champions League - it is a big ask. And Pep if you have to compromise, concentrate on the Premiership!

Until we do the Perfect Treble the Champions League remains like the other cups in a domestic double or treble. Oh of course I’d rather have a Champions League than a League Cup but…

Who knows, it might happen next season. However Tommy Tuchel is the real deal and Liverpool will be mentally strong again. That Perfect Treble is a long way off.

Twenty two years ago I watched in horror as City were 2 down going into extra time in a Division 2 Play-off Final. Thankfully we, for the first but not the last time, scored twice to turn it around. Today, we are Premier league Champions for the third year in four, fifth in a decade. We have also 2 FA Cups and 6 League Cups. In 2011 I would have taken one of each. 

Even without a Champions League, consider me spoiled beyond my dreams. Tell them I am fine Janice. Very, very fine!


PERSONAL SURMISE ON SERGIO AGUERO

Aguero QPR

In the summer of 2011 we were holidaying in Spain. One evening we found ourselves in the little town square of Los Montesinos for an evening meal. The waiter was a young Englishman who had lived in Spain for some years. We got talking football, that universal language. I had read something on the internet that day about Manchester City buying some guy called Aguero. 

I asked the waiter who would have seen Aguero playing for Atletico Madrid what he thought of him. He was not at all happy. He was a United fan and thought that Aguero was going to be a hit. He waxed lyrical about him and I have to say that I went back to our house that night quite encouraged about this guy Aguero.

A decade later and Sergio Aguero is an all time footballing hero of mine, up there with Colin Bell, Johan Cruyff, George Best and more recently Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and David Silva.

I remember Aguero’s first game. He came off the bench with 30 minutes left and scored twice and added an assist. It seems fitting that in his last game, this weekend against Everton, that he also came off the bench with around the same half hour remaining and scored twice. That sent City fans back at the Etihad for the first time in a while, there to cheer a 5th Premier League Trophy presentation in Aguero’s ten years. An Aguero double. What a bonus. It was perfectly scripted and deeply emotional.

In a career bookended by those two substitute appearances Sergio Aguero scored more Premier League goals than any other player has ever done for one club. He was a goal machine.

For me his brilliance was his ability to score half chances and goals out of nothing. You felt that if the midfielders, wingers or overlapping full backs could get the ball anywhere near him in the penalty area that he could do magic things.

He had this awesome balance, could swivel and swing. He could conjure volleys from ridiculous angles, his pièce de résistance. In seven of his ten seasons he scored 28 goals or more. When you have a player who can create something from nothing or finish what is not even a half chance you can go far. City did.

Add to the ability the humility and sense of the collective and you have an even better player. Sergio never seemed selfish, always seemed loved by his team mates and even in a final season when he could have been complaining about not getting games he simply got on with and was ready when he was needed. Phil Foden speaks about how much he has learned from Aguero. Mentor too!

His last season hasn't been his best. In his early 30s Sergio seemed more prone to injuries but worse for him he seems to take longer to get back to fitness after an injury. This must have caused some doubt in Pep's mind about how much he could depend on Aguero at this stage.

The English game is the most demanding. He might have a couple of good years left in Spain. Barcelona! When Messi didn't join him at City last season I thought it might go the other way round. Let us hope we don't meet in the Champions League next spring!

Of course the reason he will always have legendary status at City is that moment that is perhaps the most iconic memory in the English game. City needing a goal with less than two minutes of injury time left in the last game of the season to over haul Manchester United already winners at Sunderland. Somehow Mario Balotelli lying on the ground touches the ball to Aguero on the edge of the box. Aguero takes it past a QPR defender, stays on his feet and smashes it into the back of the net. City have won their first title in 44 years.

The commentator’s AGUEROOOOOOOOOO is minted. As memorable as “They think it’s all over, it is now” in the 1966 World Cup Final. When you hear the word you see Aguero running away, shirt off, swinging it like a windmill, before the entire team fall on top of him.

I’ll never forget where I was. I had left disconsolate, disbelieving depressed as City trailed 2-1 with a minute left of normal time. That most iconic moment in my team’s history and I was in my back garden sulking.

BUT… I have watched that goal more times than any other and every time I do I burst into tears. Every single time.

Yet that was only one goal. There have been 260 other goals in all competitions - volleys, thunderbolts, headers, tap ins. Everyone a moment of joy for supporters bereft of joy for almost 40 years before he arrived. 

I am sure as he has been a blessing to us, he has been a curse to the red side of Manchester. I wonder about my waiter in Spain. He knew his football. He knew the quality of this this 23 year old Argentinian who was heading to City. The rest is history. 

Thank you so much Sergio Aguero for writing that history with your genius. We love you. We will miss you. May you keep on scoring as long as it is not against us!


WE NEED MORE GARY NEVILLES

Neville

Gary Neville was a red. I was never a fan. I actually thought he was overrated too. One of the many players that Sir Alex Ferguson made look  a lot better than he was! I know. It is probably my City bias. I did love seeing him getting sent off in a Manchester derby!

As a pundit I have liked him more. I love the way that Sky have made their pundits a little partisan as well as having a general sense of fairness in their post match comments. Neville and maybe Jamie Carragher led that delicate balance.

Tonight though I declare Gary Neville a hero. A mere 48 hours into the setting up of a European Super League Manchester City and Chelsea are already opting out and Neville’s contribution in that cannot be underestimated.

Make no mistake that this is a sensational turn around. Even the commentators tonight are disbelieving at the early unravelling, thinking that these Super Rich teams would have seen out the storm. 

For me this has been about wealth and big business and I have seen very little that has ever suggested that protesting ever works when the the rich get greedy enough. I wasn’t sure that the owners of these clubs had anything on their mind but a rise in the share price. Not much a poor customer has been able to do in the face of that over the last 100 years.

Yet, it seems that fans and players and managers have done just that. They have threatened the owners of their clubs with becoming socially reprehensible, like drunk drivers. They have made them think again. It is an extraordinary victory that should be cheered by every fan in every stadium much more than their team’s next goal, win or trophy.

Gary Neville’s contribution has beens seismic. On Sunday afternoon, a very short time after news of this Super League broke, Neville made a pundit speech that was up there with any political speech we have heard in recent years. He was articulate, argued well, nailed everything that needed said. It was emotional. It was angry. It was clear.

Tonight I have no doubt that that outrage and how it was shared set in motion an impetus that was picked up and run with by everyone who loves the English game. It set a tone. It shone a bright light. It was a depth charge hurled and ripples became  waves that crashed against the big soccer liners and sent them back to port.

We need more of the Gary Neville model in soccer. This war is not done if the victory in the battle can be heralded. More reform is needed. The game and the fans need to be more important than big business. 

We need more of the Gary Neville model across the wider society. Where the greedy ride roughshod over the common man and woman we must vent our anger with articulate words and a joined up outrage. 

We need more Gary Nevilles. We are seeing before our eyes that they can make a difference.


STOCKI SURMISES THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE

European Super League

The European Super League. What a reaction that created. How articulate was Gary Neville on Sky Sports yesterday in the midst of his anger? 

It seems that the world of football and outside of football are against this daring elitism… until a Manchester United fan on the BBC Northern Ireland news showed the sad and inevitable chink, “I am sorry but I will support them wherever they are playing.” That might be the most honest response. We’ll come back to it.

 

MONEY RUNNING THE GAME IS NOT NEW

Sadly, this didn’t happen overnight. Money has been ruining the game for decades. I remember my father pointing a finger at United trying to buy the League back in 1972 when they spent a fortune on Ian Storey-Moore. Comedian Mike Yarwood put it better - “We didn’t need Ian Moore, we needed nine more.”

Chelsea and more recently City have been accused of buying success. Who can doubt that it has helped. Not me. Money has pretty much limited the potential winners of the Premier League to three teams. It is why we were so excited when Leicester City won it without all the money in 2016. Having said that there was an injection of money into Leicester after 2009 when they were two divisions down.

Let us make no mistake that the big money in football argument was lost decades ago. Leicester City was a blip. I long for the 70s when a QPR or Burnley or Derby could have given it a good go but in 2021 for most teams to compete for Premiership titles they need big money investment. 

 

FOOTBALL IS ONLY A MICROCOSM OF CAPITALISM THAT NEEDS TO BE MORE ACCOUNTABLE

This is no different than what is happening in our wider society. Super Markets have been putting butchers and bakers and candlestick makers out of business for 50 years. 

As Bob Dylan sang “Money doesn’t talk it swears.” The Mafia don’t use guns any more they use the Stock Exchange. The rich have been getting richer and the poor poorer for a long time. 

The Bible has warned against such greed for millennia. I am simply amazed that a Super League and not Super Markets caused the most reaction!

 

IT IS NO LONGER AN ENGLISH GAME

Most of the talk in the past 24 hours has been very England-centric. It has all been about the damage done to the long history of the game and the tier system and finances dripping down to the grass roots.

I agree with all that and the damage that will be done BUT the owners of our big soccer clubs do not come from or live in England. It is not only the system that they do not get; it is the tradition.

The European Super League seems to me to be very much a model taken from all American Sport. American Football, Baseball, Ice Hockey and Basketball, even Soccer are based on Super Leagues. It is a different tradition and very much a different economic model. That is what the owners are used to and honed by.

They also see that the TV viewing numbers are bigger than the numbers at stadiums. If they lost the local Manchester fan base who all went off to support Stockport County they could get millions more in China or wherever. It is a world game, not an English game.

Finally, on this one. The Premier League is the only interesting league in the world. Ask Rangers and Celtic fans about a European Super League and how they would love it. Italy, Spain and France too. They didn’t have the same fascination and competition as the English Premiership. Then if English teams don’t enter how will they entice the top players to England. That is a dilemma!

 

THE FANS NEED TO PUT THEIR ACTIONS WHERE THEIR MOUTHS ARE

The fans have spouted enough opposition. The action will be much more difficult. Will these angry disgusted fans, myself included, follow through or end up like our Northern Irish United supporter and cave in to whatever?

It is very difficult to change allegiances after 50 years of grief and joy, reading and memory collecting. When that club is in your own city, even harder.

Yet, fans need to act. Is that boycotting? Maybe not watching on TV and stop buying shirts. Or literally changing clubs. It will very difficult. 

 

THE PLAYERS AND MANAGERS HAVE DECISIONS TO MAKE TOO

We haven’t yet heard from players and managers. Certainly they have been thrown into it and it is not their fault. There are all kinds of wild suggestions about them being banned from World Cups etc. 

Whatever, they have decisions to make. When it is your financial future and career that is tricky but maybe showing the intention of not re-signing after contracts end would make a point. Would they then be willing to take a pay cut and play for Everton, West Ham or Leeds? Players and managers are being unfairly tested too.

 

It will be interesting to see what happens. I suggest that this needs more thought than just whether this Super League goes ahead or not. Soccer needs to look at itself and into its soul and ask some questions that have been ignored for too long but have now rumbled up and exploded in the sport’s face. 

Me too. The League Cup on Sunday has lost its shine, the Premier league too and as for that European thing… Can I really at 59 after… 52 years… fall deeply in love with another club. I have also, for over 50 years, followed Plymouth Argyle though!