SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: THE GOOD WORK CARRIED OUT WITHIN FOOTBALL CLUBS

Professional football clubs have an immense following within their local community with increasing influence on a global scale. With their top-tier status in society, this must used to the advantage for the people.

In the last decade, the relationships between football and charities has rapidly grown, and rightfully so. Perhaps the most famous partnership with La Liga highfliers Barcelona who wore the Unicef logo on the front and back of their famous burgundy and navy stripes for over ten years. The connection of the two organisations saw the Spanish club contribute £2 million per year from 2016, in aid of improvement of education through sport and play in countries where the United Nations charity operated. The perennial champions of La Liga successfully support this wonderful charity, but should management of football clubs begin to focus upon taking advantage of their platform to provide social responsibility?

Looking most recently at the disastrous situation down under, the destruction of homes and wildfire life has caused a sad scene for all. With premise of the Australian open being held in Melbourne on the 20th January, elites of the game have subscribed to play in an exhibition match to raise money for those affected by the bush fires in Australia. A simplistic idea but an event which will not only bring enjoyment for spectators to give break from their hardships, with participation of Rodger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal confirmed, but is also an effective money maker for the economic help the country needs.

Looking specifically at professional footballers, their social media platforms could be used as a gateway for good causes. An impeccable example is of Aston Villa man Tyrone Mings. On top of establishing a football academy which targeted those who had been affected by homelessness, just as he had as a youngster, he opened up his executive box for the Christmas game against Southampton. The regular starter at Villa Park used Twitter to announce his opening and his followers may send nominations of inspirational people who perhaps could not make the game in normal circumstances. Social media was full of praise for the kind gesture but most importantly those who spent the day in Aston Villa’s hospitality, courtesy of Ming’s, had a once in a life time experience.

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Growing up in a homeless shelter, Tyrone Ming’s uses his status to help those who descend from a similar background has he did.

Aston Villa as a club, along with many others, have a close relationship with their local hospice. Acorn Children’s Hospice have been the official charity partners of Villa sine 2006 and have quoted on their website the players regularly visit the hospice to show support and awareness for those who use the hospice and those working there. It can be a very humbling experience for the players, but with the stature of their football player title, you can imagine what it will bring to those they are visiting.

Footballers have the status and ability to make these simplistic gestures which has potential to be a once in a life-time experience. It is clear to see many clubs and individual players are aware of the positive effect they can have on wider society and do show social responsibility. There is always room for further improvements and clubs and players should be encouraged to increase and maintain their interaction within society to the upmost.

Coventry City could face Birmingham City at home… in Birmingham

Coventry City have been drawn at home to Birmingham City in the fourth round of the FA Cup, if they beat Bristol Rovers in a replay after they drew 2-2 at the weekend.

Despite being drawn at home, if the Sky Blues beat Bristol, they will have to travel to Birmingham’s home ground, St Andrews, to face the Blues.

If you are confused it will all make sense now…

Coventry City’s temporary home for this season is Birmingham’s, St Andrews Sky Blues actually have a better home record then the Blues this season, which adds to the joys of the FA Cup.

This is due to a row over rent with Ricoh Arena owners, Wasps RFC, the Sky Blues owners, Sisu decided to leave the Ricoh and managed to reach an agreement with Birmingham City to play their home matches at St Andrews, while the issue over rent and possibly a new home is still in negotiations.

It will be confusing surroundings, if Mark Robins’ men reach the fifth round, for both sets of fans as due to FA regulations Birmingham fans would have to sit in the away end and will only be allowed a certain amount of tickets, despite the stadium being their own ground.

The Sky Blues actually have a better home record then the Blues this season and if the two sides face each other, it will definitely be a game no one will want to miss.

Nottingham Forest January Targets

Everyone connected with Nottingham Forest knows they are after a new striker, Lewis Grabban is a top striker at Championship level but he needs someone else to help him. If Grabban were to get injured Forest have nobody else to call upon and it is far too much to ask him to play every single match.

As for who will come in, there are many options from proven goal scorers to hungry youngsters. If Forest try to bring in another top-class striker then there will be stumbling blocks. Dwight Gayle, for example, has been the name on many fans lips, but would he be willing to join knowing he will still have to fight off competition from Grabban for a starting place?

Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle

Would Forest be willing to pay what would be a hefty transfer fee (Reports claim only bids above £15m would tempt Newcastle United into doing business) and wages? and finally, Are Newcastle willing to sell? Another player who the same questions can be asked about is Che Adams. Both these players have the undoubted quality and are not getting the game time they want at their Premiership clubs, therefore if the above questions can be positively answered then Forest would have excellent options upfront.

Southampton Striker Che Adams

Another option and the perhaps more realistic one is for someone that can do a job as a clear second choice striker who understands Grabban is the main man. They won’t have the same quality as Gayle or Adams but be of sufficient quality to take some of the pressure off him. Lukas Jutkiewicz is someone that falls into this category and would give Forest a different sort of striker to Grabban. Glenn Murray is another name being mentioned, but will there be any substance to these rumours?

A 3rd option would be to look at Youngsters from the premier league, with Eddie Nketiah a name that stands out. He has been on loan at Leeds from Arsenal and impressed when appeared but has found game time-limited and the loan cut short. The 20-year-old is said to be wanted by a host of clubs and the Reds are ranked as second favourites to capture him with Sky Bet (3/1), behind Bristol City (5/2).

Leeds United loanee Eddie Nketiah

Rhian Brewster from Liverpool would be another good option. Forest are said to have been eyeing up promising Chelsea youngster Billy Gilmour. According to London Football News, the Reds and Championship rivals Leeds “have been tracking the best players in Chelsea’s development side, for which Gilmour has caught the eye since being signed from Glasgow Rangers”. Forest do have their own youngsters including one who has done well on loan in League 1 and 2 in Tyler Walker. If Forest fail to bring in their number 1 targets then Walker has to be considered.

Tyler Walker has had several loans across the football leagues

Lyle Taylor has been in fine form for Charlton since their return to the Championship, bagging five goals in his seven appearances so far this season. Taylor’s contract at Charlton expires at the end of the season, and the Addicks are hoping they can convince their star striker to remain at the club to fend off interest from elsewhere. Forest are joined by Premier League trio Burnley, Sheffield United and Norwich City to show an interest in the striker, along with Championship duo Brentford and Bristol City.

Forest are set to rekindle their interest in long-term transfer target Lawrence Shankland, according to reports. The Reds were extensively linked with the striker in the summer before he joined Dundee United.

Given that Forest’s Owner Evangelos Marinakis also owns Olympiacos there is bound to be speculation of business between the two clubs. Belgian striker Hugo Cuypers the 22-year-old is on loan at French second division club Ajaccio from Olympiacos. According to Greek media outlet SDNA, the Reds have been impressed by the Under-19 international’s blistering start to the French league season, and are considering a move in January.

Olympiacos Striker Hugo Cuypers

A player linked with a move in the opposite direction is Joao Carvalho, Forest’s record signing was a key player under previous manager Aitor Karanka providing many assists and the odd goal and became a fans favourite. Since Karanka’s departure, he has not been the same player, bar one outstanding performance against Middlesbrough. Martin O’Neil and Sabri Lamouchi have both opted to play 3 deeper midfielders with no room for a proper number 10 such as Carvalho. This has led to speculation that the reds will cash in, however, they should keep their record signing as he still has massive potential and not forgetting he missed all of pre-season which is massively important.

Joao Carvalho has been linked with a move away from Forest

Will Liverpool make it unbeaten?

As of their recent fixture against Sheffield United, Liverpool completed a full calendar year unbeaten in the Premier League and with performances like Thursday’s, their run looks set to continue.

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A fimilar image; Liverpool’s front three celebrate another Premier League goal.

Nothing but admiration is what has to been given to Liverpool’s perfomances of late, whether it has been a goal fest as such against Mersyside neighbours Everton or a 1-0 against a valiant Wolverhampton. Liverpool’s football has been mature and is evidence of 4 years of Jurgen Klopp’s management and timely building of what can be suggested to be a world class team.

The front three of Mane, Firmino and Salah have been poignant to the Red’s success in front of goal but this season, but its been clear the rest of the team are just as important. Working from the back, Virgil Van Dijk has been at the heart of their defence. Advantageous to the team, Van Dijk’s height to reach defensive headers and composure when passing out from the back under pressure, is a massive part of his game and why he is a world renowned defender.

What is particular about the Liverpool team is their knowledge of spatial awareness with passes and even clearances nearly always find man in red helping to maximise possession. Aswell, as passing their way through teams, Liverpool boast the talent of their two first choice full backs in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. Their crosses into the penalty area have become staple to the team’s goal scoring opportunities with both players continuing to rack up their personal assists.

It can be argued Liverpool’s success has been formulated from all aspects of their play and management and a new culture brought in by Klopp since his arrival. This season has also seen them be able to cope with absentees of Lovren and Matip in defence due quality in the depths of their sqaud. Which can be contrasted to league rivals Manchester City who have not had an as simple season as reigning champions. Aymeric Laporte’s injury early in the season has made him exempt for the majority of City’s games and their results show they have not been able to cope as well as the City fans would have wanted. Consequently seeing them fall further and further behind League leaders Liverpool.

There is a feeling this is already Liverpool’s year and 13 points ahead it is difficult to see where 4 defeats would come from, even if Liverpool are prevented of an invincible title its hard to see them not lifting the Premier League trophy come spring.

Club legends: a new era of managers?

The past year has seen an increase of past player managerial appointments, with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and most recently Mikel Arteta at Arsenal. But how big is the risk to appoint a club legend?

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Frank Lampard is well under way in his first season in charge of Chelsea

Frank Lampard is possibly the best example of a club legend taking charge of a former club. Lampard spent 13 playing seasons at Chelsea where he totalled 648 appearances for the South London club. Lampard took charge of Derby County during the 2018/19 before returning to the capital where he was appointed as Head Coach.

At the time it was seen as a gamble as it was only Lampard’s second season in a managerial position but with England teammate Steven Gerrard taking the same role at Rangers, Chelsea were not alone in their method of appointing a new generation of managers. Lampard got off to a respectable start with their first league loss of the season coming against reigning champions Manchester City at the Ethiad. Since then, the club has seen its fair share of mixed results. Some have been reasoned poor results, such as a 3-1 loss to struggling Everton, due to the youth of the team but and possible naivety.

But can it be argued that the lines of managerial blame become blurred when the manager in question has already such an intense relationship with the club? If the team isn’t performing to a standard expected, an element of the blame is usually passed onto the manager and the way in which the manager reacts is generally a determiner of their future. As with any manager, previous club relations or not, it is up to the powers above how long they are in charge at club. It can be suggested bias may come into play if the manager is affiliated with the club, with a possible unconscious hope of wanting him to do well. Equally, it may cause discrepancy amongst fans, some may want him to do well but if a group believe he is only keeping his places due to his club history, it could cause a divide in the support.

On the other hand with some clubs of late sacking managers as if it was going out of fashion, could it be a good thing to appoint more club favourites to coaching positions? Affiliation with the club could lead to longer managerial spells if the club want the individual to succeed in a coaching role. Former players could have the opportunity to reignite old passions within the club which would reinforce its culture. This would be advantageous also because they know and understand the club and could potentially reinforce its older traditions of play which will be reason as to why a large majority of the fans have such strong connections to the club.

Respectively it is a risk to appoint a club legend, especially for a ‘big’ successful club, who could easily attract a ‘safe’ option of an experienced man. However, the risk could be beneficial if the manager is able to recreate the passion they once had for playing for the club in the form of management.

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