A Tale of Two Cities

By Greg Hudson

Liverpool and Manchester United both made headlines this summer as the two English giants completed several majors moves, signing and selling big names throughout the pre-season. But looking at each club’s outlook for the future, it is indeed a tale of two cities.

Let’s start in Liverpool, where things look to be heading for the best of times. The club handled the departure of volatile striker Luis Suarez with class, and considered it wiser to invest the over $100 million revenue from his sale into strengthening the squad as a whole, particularly the defense, and to do so primarily by signing young talent.

Defenders Dejan Lovren, Javier Manquillo, and Alberto Moreno all joined the club in the summer, while midfielder Adam Lallana and winger Lazar Markovic also arrived at Melwood to complete their transfers. Lovren and Lallana are already established and highly-rated in the Premier League after success at Southampton last season, while Manquillo, Markovic, and Moreno all arrive from the Iberian Peninsula – Manquillo and Moreno from Spain and Markovic from Benfica in Portugal – and none of the trio is over the age of 21.

Meanwhile Manchester United look headed for the worst of times, and the desperate moves they made this summer show the fear at the heart of the once-great club. Three of last year’s starting four defenders are gone, as Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra have all sought pastures new. Meanwhile strikers Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck have left the club, and veteran leader Ryan Giggs has announced his formal retirement. It left the Devils with many holes to fill and they generally did a poor job of it.

They did sign big names. Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera join as positive attacking midfield options and Daley Blind could serve useful as a holding midfielder. But they did not sign any quality defenders. Fullback Luke Shaw, the 20-year-old Southampton prodigy, was pried from Saints for a handy $45 million, but no other moves were made to shore up a back line which was porous at best last season when Vidic and company were still around.

They made a desperation move on the transfer deadline day, signing Monaco striker Radamel Falcao on loan. Not only is the deal temporary, it doesn’t solve the problem. An already top-heavy side with great attacking options and a shaky defense now sits even more precariously balanced, with such a plethora of attackers that new maager Louis van Gaal will have difficulty finding a way to use them all, and such a blight of quality defenders that he’ll need his 3-5-2 system to work to avoid fielding four defenders when only three are really worthy of a shirt.

United have stated that their goal is to finish in the top four, to secure Champions’ League action next season after missing out for this year. But the simple fact is that there’s no balance at Old Trafford and the Devils are doomed to stumble and fall short of those ambitions until they can create a squad that’s top-rate from front to back. Until they can, they’ll fall behind their northwest rivals Liverpool, who have made a move to strengthen the club for the present AND the future.

For the two biggest clubs in the history of English football, the summers were very similar, as players joined and departed with regular frequency. But for these two neighbor clubs who play just 35 miles apart, it was indeed a tale of two cities.

For the two biggest clubs in the history of English football, the summers were very similar, as players joined and departed with regular frequency. But for these two neighbor clubs who play just 35 miles apart, it was indeed a tale of two cities.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

nfl dramaBy Stefan Anderson

The past few years have some given the National Football League has experienced its fair share of controversy including BountyGate, rule changes, concussion settlements, have all put a damper on one of America’s favorite sports.

This past week has been no different, as the soap opera continues to overshadow the league. Everything that has occurred of the week should result in necessary change for the NFL.

Fans and players of the NFL have witnessed more storylines then we have seen games played. In only the 2nd week of the season, Ray Rice was on the brink of serving his final week of suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident between him and his wife earlier in the year.

A video of the incident by TMZ, a “credible” news source, and given to was given to various media outlets worldwide and making the situation even worse. The Baltimore Ravens then cut Ray Rice was suspended by the NFL indefinitely.

The league’s Commissioner Roger Goodell had “no idea” that had the actions were that brutal and only seen the video once TMZ released.  This makes absolutely no sense to most including myself when weeks previously Goodell and the NFL brass implemented a new policy on domestic abuse which gives a six-game suspension without pay for the first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense.

The NFL is now being investigated for its poor handling of the situation and can result in appeal for Rice or some serious actions the hierarchy of National Football League.

That was only the beginning of the week, on Friday; Adrian Peterson was indicted on charges of endangerment of child welfare after he reportedly struck his son with a switch leaving many lacerations. Peterson is who is currently inactive, is facing charges and could possibly face jail time based on the action in court.

Regardless of the fact the players have many irresponble actions, their choice indulge in what they choose, is simply their decision. Not justifying any of their situations as a human being, but the scrutiny that these athletes have faced recently is simply outrageous. I understand that get paid millions of dollars and should have sound judgment on most situations but at the end of the day they are football players.

I do not believe it’s solely on the players why these actions are happening, I believe it comes from Roger Goodell and his staff for not having control of the league.  The actions of the NFL’s head honcho has created a league in which more concern has been what happens outside of the field then what happens on the field.

The league that grosses nearly 9 billion a year has put its focus on the wrong things and have taken away from the integrity of the game. Ultimately it should lead to a new commissioner and new leadership to give the league a better outlook and fresh perspective.

We have now seen great athletes like Wes Walker, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Josh Gordon and Ray Rice just to name few all sideline not due to injury but to extra-curricular activities. If It continues the way things are we will end up missing many more great talent of the game.