Wayne Rooney – English Premier League or Chinese Super League?

There has been an intense speculation regarding the future of Wayne Rooney in the past few days, although it should be noted he has come out and said he will not be leaving Old Trafford, as it is an exciting time to be with Manchester United. The question remains, how long will this be the case?

The speculation is that Wayne Rooney, Manchester United and England captain would be leaving our shores for the Chinese Super League before the end of their transfer window on the 28th of February. Indeed, his agent has been out in China to speak with the appropriate representatives regarding this move and, as is usually the case, there is no smoke without fire.

I want to take a bit of time to discuss the career of Wayne Rooney and the way in which he is viewed by sections of the media and football fans across the country. His career has not run without its fair share of controversy, whether it be his personal antics with women of a certain age or berating the England fans that had travelled to South Africa to watch an abject draw with Algeria. That being said, he has often shown fantastic ability and has racked up some phenomenal stats!

In 50 years time, when you look back on the career of Wayne Rooney purely on paper, he will have a claim at having been the most successful career of any England player to have played the beautiful game. He currently has 119 caps to his name, which is second in the all-time list, and only six behind Peter Shilton. Further to this, he has scored more goals than anybody else for his country, having surpassed Bobby Charlton in 2015.

If you add to this the fact he is one of the most decorated club players ever, and has won every club competition possible with Manchester United, again having surpassed Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record, this time for Manchester United, in early 2017, he has had a phenomenal career and it is hard to believe that he is only 31.

However, there are some quarters that do not view Wayne Rooney’s career in the way the stats read, and rightly so. He is a professional footballer, currently earning in the region of £300,000 per week to play for arguably the biggest club in the country, but his performances for them have generally been below par. Add to that, no stand out England performances since Euro 2004, it is difficult to judge the manner in which he should be viewed.

He has never truly shown up for his country, and appears to have stumbled over the line for the records he has achieved, much like a worn out marathon runner, which he may well be, as he debuted what seems like a life time ago and has never had a long period of rest from the game.

Setting my stall out, I believe he is a phenomenal player and I would go as far as saying he is the best footballer that England has ever produced (again this is heavily influenced by his stats). I have wanted him to regain the kind of form that saw him scoring goals such as the volley against Newcastle United just seconds after arguing with the referee. The kind of form that he showed when he burst on to the scene for Everton scoring a fantastic goal against Arsenal, alas that has not yet happened. Fans of Wayne Rooney will probably have to accept this will not happen again, as he is now a different kind of player, one that has to rely on his football intelligence to produce performances but, again, this is yet to materialise fully.

Wayne Rooney is currently in transition, I do think he needs to pick his poison. In a sense that he either needs to try and morph into Zlatan, a man that will be the main striker and whilst they want to win, they also know their place is up front and battling with the centre halves. Or the other option is that he demands to drop deeper, and attempts to become a Steven Gerrard type player, but he might not have defensive mind or ability for that.

Whilst there would be a large amount of suitors for Rooney, they would have to be able to pay his hefty weekly wages and stump up a healthy fee, which Manchester United are likely to want before letting him go. Also, seeing Rooney leave would surely end his international career, as Gareth Southgate cannot continue to pick a player that is plying their trade in a league with such a poor standard.

The stats should speak for themselves, yet they do not. Rooney is full of passion and desire but is marred by poor form and the questionable tactics he used to obtain a bumper contract at Manchester United. I do not feel people will look back upon Wayne Rooney and miss him, in the same way players like Scholes, Gerrard and Beckham will be missed.

It would be the end of an era not only for Rooney himself, but also Manchester United, their fans and the entirety of English football. It could also see the beginning of a shift in world football power, with more and more British players potentially looking to leave to maximise their wealth in what can be such a short footballing career. Whatever happens, the whole of English football should salute his career but this cannot be guaranteed.

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A Dangerous Game of Chicken?

As I have started most of my recent blogs, I am a Burnley fan, and have been for many years! I am 26 years old, and during my time supporting Burnley I have witnessed a shift in the power of football in East Lancashire, from the dominant spell of Rovers to Burnley gradually becoming the bigger team.

The differences between the two clubs are not massive (taking away the ownership), as they are both clubs situated in working class towns that arguably have punched above their weight. Both are traditional clubs, with hard-working fans that simply want to see their team give 100% and have a modicum of success.

By the time the Venky’s bought Blackburn in 2010 for a sum of £23m, Burnley had already achieved their first promotion into the Premier League. The signs were there that Burnley were on the up, granted we were still without a victory against Rovers in over 30 years but the wheels had been set in motion.

Much worse than the idea of Burnley beating Blackburn Rovers for first time in 30 plus years, was the morbid reality of what was to come for Rovers fans.

The Venky’s epitomise everything that is wrong with modern football.  They saw an opportunity to buy a decent sized Premier League club with illusions of grandeur that they could syphon a large amount of money from the TV revenue, without a care in the world for the fans or any knowledge of English football.

I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed one pathetic decision after another, in terms of managerial and boardroom changes, and the unravelling of the club that had once dominated East Lancashire, it is now happening at an even more alarming rate. It’d be reticent of me to disclose my initial enjoyment and how much I have enjoyed the recent games we have played, not just because of the victories for Burnley but mainly because of the atmosphere the games create. I don’t just mean in the stadium or around the ground on match day, but throughout the weeks prior to the game and then in countless workplaces afterwards.

It is really for that reason that I feel an element of sympathy towards Blackburn fans, alongside the poor ownership that has led them down this route. There is nothing that can be done regarding the owners of the club, luckily Burnley have had level-headed and stable ownership and this has resulted in a huge upward curve.

There has been much “banter” from Burnley fans, namely at the expense of ‘Agent Coyle‘ but can he really be blamed? The club have announced that annual losses have been reduced but that overall club debt sits at an unnerving £106m, which for a Championship side is extremely worrying. The sacking of Coyle is the latest in a long line of short term and often short sighted decisions.

Subsequently, I cannot help but feel the appointment of Tony Mowbray is the Venky’s playing a dangerous game of chicken, so to speak, as it also shows no long-term plan (which I suppose has been missing since the initial purchase), as Mowbray and Coyle have generally played similar styles of football and that has not been getting results for Blackburn this term.

Additionally, the appointment of Tony Mowbray will surely do very little to appease Blackburn fans, as he really does not have the most successful of records after his initial spell in England with West Brom. He also has a very similar career path to Coyle, in that he did very well initially in Scotland before travelling south of the border and continuing his success.

Also like Coyle; Mowbray could not sustain this once he left his first full-time club in England and has since bounced around clubs failing to meet the long-term objectives set.

Again, I would like to reiterate, there will always be an element of enjoyment in seeing your bitter rivals struggling, but this for me can only come through performances on the pitch. It should not stem from distant and idiotic ownership. It is a distinct possibility that something of this nature could happen to Burnley, one or two false promises and flashing a little bit of cash can always seem appealing.

I trust we will not befall the same fate as Blackburn have done, but if we did, I would hope that we do not attempt to boycott ownership during certain games and ignore this shortly afterwards, I am of course referring to the recent FA Cup games against Blackpool and Manchester United respectively. Although, I would have to reserve judgement until such a time that I was living through that scenario.

I do hope that the slide of Blackburn Rovers is not terminal, as a prolonged slide could see the demise of the East Lancashire derby and that would be such an awful thought.

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FA Cup Glory? No thanks, I’d rather have a pie.

The Sun and controversy have never really been too far away from one another. That has struck once again, with Wayne Shaw (now ex-Sutton United) at the middle of a media frenzy regarding an 8/1 bet for him to eat a pie during the fifth round FA Cup game.

I think it is important to really start with the fact that Wayne Shaw has now resigned from his position at Sutton United, which is a great shame as he would have been a true part of FA Cup folklore, being a 45-year-old goalkeeper that is the antithesis of the modern-day professional footballer.

Upon seeing the original tweet from Sun Bets, my initial reaction was that of the club being underhanded and having set the stunt up for extra money and in an attempt to garner as much attention as possible! My view has slightly changed since the story initially broke and more information has come to light regarding the situation.

Wayne Shaw, I believe, did not feel he was doing anything wrong by partaking in this possible light-hearted action, but in the strict world of football that is not the case. It may have been naivety on Shaw’s part or maybe he was egged on by the club or their new part-time sponsor, to ensure that there would be a continued interest in the club.

It is extremely disheartening that a club would go to such levels to try to progress their stature within the game, when they had already done so well on the plastic pitch. You would also hope that a man partly living his dream, and lining up (albeit on the bench) against one of the biggest sides in Europe would not risk his position by helping a few mates gain an extra bob or two but you cannot rule it out. That would lead me to be most suspicious of The Sun or Sun Bets more specifically, as this was most likely a PR stunt orchestrated by them.

All of this has taken a much more serious turn, at Shaw’s expense, as he now finds himself without a club. At the age of 45, he will not find himself another club but he will find himself a huge amount of support from the various Social Media websites. The Sun have a HUGE amount of responsibility for this, as the market they offered was frankly disgraceful. The market was offered purely on the basis that Wayne Shaw is an average bloke with a bit of excess weight, on that front, they deserve all of the extra negativity this will bring! The Sun needs to take a lot of steps now to help Wayne Shaw to move forward, whether they will or not, is a different matter.

Nevertheless, ‘Piegate‘ will rumble on for a few more weeks and really does highlight a potential issue in the novelty betting market. Gary Lineker has posted a tweet saying that we would all be on the gravy train if we were in a position of being subject to an 8/1 betting market.

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Great pun aside, I genuinely think this is an inappropriate tweet to send out, Gary also nonchalantly goes on to dismiss that this situation is comparable to arranging cards & throw-ins, which is possibly fair but it isn’t a huge jump to make.

Of course, the above has detracted from the magnificent story of Sutton United, the Vanarama National League and could somewhat impact the achievements of Lincoln City. The differences between each respective story should not be so vast, as prior to this weekend the players have achieved the same feat, however the people behind the scenes have now highlighted the huge differences in the professionalism at each club.

Luckily for the Vanarama National League, Lincoln City are flying the flag for non-league sides and will do so against the same side that knocked Sutton United out last night.

Whichever side you take, whether it is the fault of The Sun, Sutton United or Wayne Shaw himself, it really serves to show the FA needs to work extremely hard to explain the issues this scenario can create and to educate anybody that may be subject to this sort of “opportunity” in future.

FA Cup Glory? No thanks, I’d rather have a pie.

The Sun and controversy have never really been too far away from one another. That has struck once again, with Wayne Shaw (now ex-Sutton United) at the middle of a media frenzy regarding an 8/1 bet for him to eat a pie during the fifth round FA Cup game.

I think it is important to really start with the fact that Wayne Shaw has now resigned from his position at Sutton United, which is a great shame as he would have been a true part of FA Cup folklore, being a 45-year-old goalkeeper that is the antithesis of the modern-day professional footballer.

Upon seeing the original tweet from Sun Bets, my initial reaction was that of the club being underhanded and having set the stunt up for extra money and in an attempt to garner as much attention as possible! My view has slightly changed since the story initially broke and more information has come to light regarding the situation.

Wayne Shaw, I believe, did not feel he was doing anything wrong by partaking in this possible light-hearted action, but in the strict world of football that is not the case. It may have been naivety on Shaw’s part or maybe he was egged on by the club or their new part-time sponsor, to ensure that there would be a continued interest in the club.

It is extremely disheartening that a club would go to such levels to try to progress their stature within the game, when they had already done so well on the plastic pitch. You would also hope that a man partly living his dream, and lining up (albeit on the bench) against one of the biggest sides in Europe would not risk his position by helping a few mates gain an extra bob or two but you cannot rule it out. That would lead me to be most suspicious of The Sun or Sun Bets more specifically, as this was most likely a PR stunt orchestrated by them.

All of this has taken a much more serious turn, at Shaw’s expense, as he now finds himself without a club. At the age of 45, he will not find himself another club but he will find himself a huge amount of support from the various Social Media websites. The Sun have a HUGE amount of responsibility for this, as the market they offered was frankly disgraceful. The market was offered purely on the basis that Wayne Shaw is an average bloke with a bit of excess weight, on that front, they deserve all of the extra negativity this will bring! The Sun needs to take a lot of steps now to help Wayne Shaw to move forward, whether they will or not, is a different matter.

Nevertheless, ‘Piegate‘ will rumble on for a few more weeks and really does highlight a potential issue in the novelty betting market. Gary Lineker has posted a tweet saying that we would all be on the gravy train if we were in a position of being subject to an 8/1 betting market.

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Great pun aside, I genuinely think this is an inappropriate tweet to send out, Gary also nonchalantly goes on to dismiss that this situation is comparable to arranging cards & throw-ins, which is possibly fair but it isn’t a huge jump to make.

Of course, the above has detracted from the magnificent story of Sutton United, the Vanarama National League and could somewhat impact the achievements of Lincoln City. The differences between each respective story should not be so vast, as prior to this weekend the players have achieved the same feat, however the people behind the scenes have now highlighted the huge differences in the professionalism at each club.

Luckily for the Vanarama National League, Lincoln City are flying the flag for non-league sides and will do so against the same side that knocked Sutton United out last night.

Whichever side you take, whether it is the fault of The Sun, Sutton United or Wayne Shaw himself, it really serves to show the FA needs to work extremely hard to explain the issues this scenario can create and to educate anybody that may be subject to this sort of “opportunity” in future.

It’s no nay never…

This is my first Burnley specific blog piece, I have written a couple of others regarding other bits of football but thought that I would start writing articles on the club I love the most!

I thought now would be a good time to start because we are two thirds of the way through the season and have performed remarkably in the Premier League, but we are now coming off an extremely embarrassing result.

Having been at the FA Cup game against Lincoln City, I am an extremely disappointed fan, our players have fed off the amazing Turf Moor atmosphere since Sean Dyche has been in charge. This has been most evident this season where ‘Sean Dyche’s Claret and Blue Army‘ have one of the best home records in the Premier League, however it was distinctly lacking during the recent FA Cup game.

The away fans were by far the louder and created an amazing atmosphere, and their team played magnificently and as James Tarkowski said in his post match interview, Lincoln City are currently playing far above their current league position. This shift from the usual atmosphere appeared to create doubt amongst the players, and to an extent bred a nervousness when it came to taking the chances we had.

I don’t want to waste too much time discussing the Joey Barton debacle, or the referee, as this has received the most discussion since the game from both sets of fans. I will say Barton was pathetic, but I do not believe his actions were as bad as made out. Matt Rhead (Lincoln’s best player during the game) put himself about a bit and played much like Ashley Barnes does for us against other Premier League teams. There was good old fashioned bite in the fixture and whilst this may have contributed to our downfall, it should not be the main focus point.

We were out battled during this game and further to our League Cup exit away at Accrington Stanley earlier in the season, it does make me question our players’ attitude against sides from the lower leagues (this may also play a part when we play away from home). Whilst we have made a conscious effort to have the minimum requirement as maximum effort, this is something that has failed to translate in the two cup games I have mentioned and in away league games at West Brom and Southampton, where we were comprehensively beaten.

Although the cup game was an embarrassment and we now form an unwanted part of history that could well stand for another 100 years or so, we need to take stock of the whole season.

The players and club have completely surpassed all expectations (well my personal ones anyway). We are currently 10 points above the relegation zone, with 13 games to go, and that is massively impressive. In addition to this, we have broken our transfer record on three separate occasions this season, really strengthening the squad as a whole. We are making massive steps forward as a club, and it is extremely important to remember that.

I have heard excuses that our Premier League games are much more important than the recent cup game (I assume as a poor justification for the loss), and to an extent this is the truth. Obtaining survival in the Premier League has to be our number one target and if we win three of our next four away games, the feat will all but be guaranteed, we will then be able to continue growing as a football club and move forward to start ensuring we become the next Stoke City or West Brom, and that we are a Premier League mainstay.

Whilst the cup game was a huge disappointment, and the idea that it would have been better to lose and play one or two less games is nonsensical, we are still moving forward as a club and doing so brilliantly!

Let’s do the same thing as we did with the Accrington Stanley result and put this behind us, dust ourselves off and kick on by winning our first away game of the season and securing Premier League survival!

Come on Sean Dyche’s Claret and Blue army. UP THE CLARETS.img_6635

Help, we’ve been Impvaded!

Well, as the dust settles following a quite frankly hectic day of FA Cup football that saw not only one massive upset but three. My earlier blog said that I thought Burnley would beat Lincoln, which in theory was a very logical statement.

I would like to start by saying congratulations to Lincoln City, having been a Burnley fan for some time, I have experienced big cup upsets (on the right side) in the League Cup where we got to the semi final and narrowly missed out on Wembley!

I mentioned the Cricket Field stand created one hell of an atmosphere, and today, it felt as though the entire stand was bouncing! The fans were fantastic, usually Turf Moor is one of the most hostile grounds an away team can face (hence the fantastic record this term), however the FA Cup does not have the same fans in the same places and meant the home support paled in comparison to the ‘Impvasion‘.

The goal we conceded was disappointing and very basic, it was a perfectly executed set piece though and entirely deserved! Burnley were outdone in every aspect today, the performance was full of lethargy, but today is not a day to discuss Burnley but a day to celebrate Lincoln City!

A game with little true quality, Muldoon’s touch shone through in the first half and although Burnley had one guilt edged chance in the second half, it wasn’t enough. Until the goal, the main talking point was a number of altercations between players. It would have been a shame if they were the MAIN issues being discussed after this historic occasion for Lincoln City.

This leads me to the pantomime villain for the day, step forward Joey Barton. I will set my stall out now and say that he has been one of the best Burnley players since he has been with us, he virtually carried our midfield to the Championship title last season. Today was the first time I had seen his well publicised idiocy on the football pitch. Joey Barton lowered the tone of the tie, but probably tried to get amongst it to try and spur Burnley players on to start performing.

Much has been made about the stamp and the dive of Barton, which is what it was, but there was a moment much earlier in the game than that where Rhead planted an elbow squarely into the side of his head. There was a lot of bite between the two for the entire game and it would be the wrong thing to focus on either way!

I am so glad that there was no controversial moment that lead to the result and it was an old fashioned goal that earned victory for the Imps. There is much to be lamented about the lacklustre performance from the Clarets, but so much more to be enjoyed in looking back at a thoroughly professional performance displayed by Lincoln City today!

Danny Cowley has compared Lincoln City to Burnley and I can see why, we won our league last year based on a 4-4-2 formation, which is what we were up against today. A solid base, with 4 attacking players (Hawkridge, Arnold, Rhead & Muldoon) giving the main threat and two players providing extra defensive protection. Lincoln played us at our own game and won! Fair play for that.

Fingers crossed this will help the Imps kick on even further and will not have a detrimental impact on Burnley’s season. Although, I really REALLY hope that Lincoln City get a home draw (or Manchester United away) in the next round so I don’t see any more posts about ticket allocation!

GOOD LUCK IMPS, GET YOURSELVES TO WEMBLEY!

Oh and for those that might have an interest, my daughter wants to go back and watch football (despite the result)!

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The Magic of the FA Cup!

It seems an eternity ago that the fifth round of the FA Cup was drawn, of course on BBC’s ‘The One Show’. Personally, this draw represented a magical occasion! I in no way believe that you can support two teams, however I do believe you can have a soft spot for a number of clubs based on various different factors.

One such factor is having been to university. I attended the ‘University of Lincoln‘ and this resulted in me having an affiliation to Lincoln City Football Club. I am, however, a Burnley Football Club fan and prior to attending university, I had held a season ticket at the club for a number of years. As I have mentioned previously, the magical draw occurred and was first out of the ‘hat‘ and saw balls 12 (Burnley) and 7 (Lincoln City) drawn against each other. I was ecstatic! I vocalised my happiness much to the displeasure of my significant other.

Anyway, before long, my joy quickly turned to disappointment. Due to my affiliation with both clubs, I am a member of various Facebook fan pages and the discussion quickly turned to ticket allocation for the away fans. For people who do not know, the FA states that the home team have to provide 15% of the stadium capacity to the away team.

As Lincoln City have already played away at Ipswich Town in the FA Cup this season and took circa 5,000 fans under their aptly named ‘Impvasion‘ this draw would cause a huge problem! For those that are unaware, over the past few seasons Burnley FC have put home fans into the previously designated Away End and it should be noted the Cricket Field stand creates one hell of an atmosphere! With that in mind, Burnley FC were never going to agree to the request of giving this whole stand to Lincoln City (who have had a fantastic following since the Cowley brothers have taken the reins).

img_6203It was a huge disappointment for all Imp fans to learn of the allocation being 3,210 tickets and boy, was this vocalised on the Facebook pages! Names such as ‘tinpot‘ were thrown around, and Lincoln fans accused Burnley of being all sorts of things that were truly without merit! Once certain Burnley related pages got wind of this disdain, posts were made about Lincoln City not being able to sell any additional allocation the club might have given them!

I know both of the statements are incorrect! Lincoln City could easily have sold double their allocation, especially at the bargain price of £10 per ticket for an adult! I also know that the only reason Burnley FC would have taken the decision they did would have been to ensure the best chance of securing a sixth round!

I must stress, this game is almost as big for Burnley as it is for Lincoln City. Many will strongly disagree with this point, however, Burnley have not featured in the sixth round since 2003, when the current manager Sean Dyche lined up against the Clarets (albeit on the substitutes bench). Additionally, Burnley are going superbly in the league and have the best opportunity for Premier League survival in our three attempts thus far! Therefore, it is arguable that progressing the cup will help carry on the momentum to sustain the survival push, in just the same way this dream FA Cup run has helped propel Lincoln City to the top of the Vanarama National League.

Personally, I feel there was an initial gap of opinion between fans that has been greatly diminished by the superb media work by not only Sean Dyche (who is arguably much more accustomed to a fan fare) but also Danny Cowley. There are many likenesses between the two bosses, and I tip both of them to go on and achieve managerial greatness. It would not surprise me if both eventually had a spell as England manager within the next ten or fifteen years!

Today also marks a truly magical day for me, as I will be taking my four-year old daughter to her first ever football match. Good luck to Lincoln City, whilst I normally root for you, I cannot today but I hope you go on to achieve promotion back to the Football League and also keep cracking on in the FA Trophy!

To all my fellow Clarets, and the wonderful Imps, have a great day and enjoy whatever comes next!