Tag Archives: Roy Hodgson

Will the presence of fans in some stadiums affect results?

March 9, 2020 was the last game that involved fans watching their team live.  The match was Leicester City vs Aston Villa and resulted in a 4-0 victory for The Foxes. 

Who would have thought though that it would have taken until December to see fans to witness competitive sports in some of the lands most famous stadiums again? 

Well, if you’re a supporter of a team living in COVID-19 Tier One or Two areas some fans will be able to watch their side live for the first time in almost nine months. This means 51 of the 104 clubs across the Premier League, EFL and Women’s Super League able to host a maximum of 2,000 supporters.

Which teams can have fans in stadiums again?

This means good news for Premier League’s London clubs: Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Fulham. While also on the list are South Coast clubs Southampton and Brighton as well as the Premier League Champions Liverpool and their rivals Everton. 

The other ten sides in the top flight, however, will have to wait to welcome back supporters.  Being in Tier three areas such as Manchester and Yorkshire they will continue to play games behind closed doors.  This means: Manchester United, Manchester City, Burnley, Sheffield United, Leeds United and Newcastle United .  While midlands clubs Leicester City, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton and West Brom will also have to play games without their fans. 

In addition, away fans from tier three areas will be unable to travel to games in tier two stadiums. 

Indeed, on Thursday Arsenal will have the honour of being the first English team to play a competitive match, a Europa League tie against Austrian side Rapid Vienna.  Being in a Tier 2 area, the Gunners will be able to play in front of 2,000 of their own supporters for the first time in nearly nine months. 

Unsurprisingly, however, the 2,000 tickets were sold out within 20 minutes of going on sale.  The first Premier League games, meanwhile, to take place in front of fans are set to be West Ham United’s encounter with Manchester United and Chelsea’s home game with Leeds United. 

Will allowing supporters in certain grounds be fair?

The awkward question remains. Will having supporters back in certain grounds affect the outcome of the match? 

Crystal Palace Manager and former England Coach, Roy Hodgson said:

“It will make a bit of a difference at Selhurst Park than it will do at some other stadiums, where the capacity is so much higher. 

“But I don’t think it is a question really of what difference the fans are going to make, I think it is more of how nice it is going to be for those fans who are selected to be one of those who gets a ticket to see a match live again.”

While Fulham boss Scott Parker said: 

“It’s a breath of fresh air, it’s what we all want. It’s what the fans want and what we want as a team.”

Understandably not everyone is in agreement.  Leeds United Manager Marcelo Bielsa, whose side falls into the category of a tier three area, meaning supporters will have to wait a little longer to see their side live, said:

“It shouldn’t be about the category, or the consequences of being in a category, it should be about trying to maintain the competition as equal as possible with things that are controllable. 

“I am just looking at common sense, which perhaps doesn’t go.  The presence of fans has an effect on the results.” 

Boton Wanders boss Ian Evatt, whose side play in League One and will also have to continue playing without the support of fans in stadiums, said:

“Without getting into a big political debate I just cannot believe the way (it has gone).  For me, we’re a country and we should all be together, regardless.  It should be one for all and all for one.”

What do you think?

It must come, therefore, as no surprise to see the football world split down the middle following this government announcement. There certainly is a compelling case for both arguments, on the one hand watching football without fans in the stadiums is not the same as stated by former Manchester United Manager, Sir Matt Busby. 

Busby was once famously quoted as saying:

“Football is nothing without fans.”

There is, however, the legitimate question of fairness and equal competition when it comes to competitive sport.  How do you create a level playing field?

Personally, however, I can’t wait to see to see fans bring the atmosphere and magic back to the sport again, no matter whom they support! 

Feel free to share your views in the comments below. 

Interview with former England and Crystal Palace player John Salako

John Salako has had a successful playing career over a spell of 19 years. He featured for eight clubs as well as earning the right to play for England.

With the Premier League returning just over a week ago, Salako believes it was the right time to come back:

“We’ve longed for it. I was very much an advocate of getting football back.

“If anyone could do it safely I knew it was us, the Premier League, the Championship. We have got great staff and people in and around the grounds. The clubs are really well run now with the doctors and physiotherapists, the way it has been organised has been tremendous.

“The games have been fantastic, much better than I thought they would be. The crowd sound, they have put a lot into that and I think that has been a massive plus and at times when you are watching it on the television you forget that there isn’t a crowd there.”

There is understandably concerns for Premier League players returning back so quickly, but Salako recognises that circumstances have chanced since his playing days:

“In our day we would finish the season and we would have three to four weeks off. You would come back pre-season and you would need to build up a six-week programme to be fit enough to start playing.

“ These guys, however, a lot of them have gyms at home, tread machines and bikes, which would have kept them fit.  You are going to see a lot of muscular injuries that won’t be able to be prevented, as well as the heat and going straight back into that intensity of playing is part and parcel of the game.

“They are really at a level where they are proper athletes. The diet, nutrition and the psychological side of it and the training programme are fantastic and second to none. Overall, I’m delighted that they decided to go ahead and play it, and it’s going really well.”

Salako joined Crystal Palace at a young age, and has never looked back:

“It was fantastic, growing up and coming through the ranks at Palace then getting into the first team, getting to the cup final and then we finished third in the Premier League and you look back and think wow, that team was a damn good side.”

Salako also represented England and won five caps in his playing days.

“I got into the England side and went off to Australasia and unfortunately came back that winter and I ruptured my knee. I had two years of three major operations. I’ve managed to play 600 games and to have a half decent career, barring those injuries, I would have liked to have achieved a lot more, but life sometimes doesn’t work out that way.”

Apart from playing for Palace, Salako went on to manage the club for a season:

“I joined Palace just before my 14th birthday, and I was there until I was 26. I absolutely loved the club, it’s in my heart, that’s home for me and I coached at the under 13’s and 16’s level. Then, I ended up as first team coach, which once again was just incredible as having been out of the game for so long applying for loads of jobs and not even getting an interview.

“I was very motivated and ambitious as I wanted to be a manager. I done my coaching badges and having that opportunity to go back in and be first team manager was incredible. We stayed up, got to the cup final, then I ended up being squeezed out, as they thought they could improve in different areas.”

Palace are thriving at the moment under Roy Hodgson, and has nothing but praise for the former England manager:

“We saw Roy bow out of the England job and we sort of thought well maybe that’s the end for Roy.

“He’s been an incredible coach around the world and has done so much. Roy came in at a time when everyone had written Palace off. He managed to keep them up and then every season he has added and built on pretty much a shoestring budget and it’s been actually incredible, and so I couldn’t give Roy enough praise of what he has done with the tools he has had.”

Black Lives Matter has been a very important message in our lives at the moment. This is also something Salako feels very strongly about:

“It’s so disgusting what’s been happening to black people for so long and they’ve been persecuted and abused and the way that the police force do target and kill black people is disgusting and there is that racial bias through England, Europe and it’s disgusting in America, it really is so bad.

“What we saw with George Floyd is just beyond disgraceful and I think enough is enough, and that plane that flew over the Burnley game the other night saying white lives matter.

“I’ve heard that said a few times and really it’s quiet disheartening and heart-breaking, because it’s just missing the point as there is so much brutality and there is so much hype perpetrated towards black people just because of the colour of their skin and they really are racially down trotters. I’ve been lucky not to get massive amounts of it[racial abuse], but I can imagine people like Ian Wright and people who come from Inner London and I know they have a lot more and have to deal with it on a daily basis. Finally, I am hoping that we are all going to deal with it and take a big step forward and what the Premier League now are doing is hopefully going to have a massive impact.”

Listen to full interview with John Salako by clicking link below: 

https://soundcloud.com/user-365414754/john-solako-football

 

What have we learnt since the Premier League resumption?

After the return of Premiership football to our screens, have we really learnt much about the League since the resumption?

Well, the wait has certainly been worth it some pundits have said but has it really been worth the build-up of over 100 days?

What we have learned already is that Liverpool are a step closer to their title dream. We are all having to get used to the sight of very few people inside stadiums. VAR certainly won’t go away and even technology has the odd blip, which leads to more controversy up and down the land.

As we are all getting used to viewing football as we have never seen before. One good talking point has been welcomed around the country. The sight of both sets of players, officials and team personal taking the knee in solidarity together. Such a welcome sight and fully applauded. It’s is so good to see the Premier League sending out a message to the rest of the footballing and sporting world that Black Lifes Matter.

Aside from Liverpool edging towards lifting the title, on just the first day back since the resumption, controversy reared its ugly head once again when Sheffield United were denied a certain goal when technology failed. Admittedly it’s the first time this has unfortunately happened for over 9,000 times the system has been in place. What a time for this to happen, as the Premiership was taking centre stage.

One has to feel sorry for Michael Oliver- England’s top referee- as he was trying to explaining to surrounding players that his watch didn’t make a noise to indicate that the ball had crossed the line. Not his fault but wouldn’t it have been more sensible that somebody in the truck watching pictures of the match would have seen that clearly the ball was over the line? That person in the VAR room could then have communicated with Oliver to say to him to check the monitor at the ground and make his own mind up about the decision. If he was allowed to do this, then make no mistakes Sheffield Utd would have been awarded the goal.

We also learnt since the resumption that Arsenal players are certainly struggling with fitness levels, having already seen a handful of players taken off through picking up injuries. Clearly the three-month break has affected them, which is a big concern of their fitness levels. Yes, every team has looked leggy at times which is understandable due to not playing competitive football for over three months but for some sides including Arsenal it begs the question, what instructions were the players given to do for training during lockdown and resuming back into training? Something definitely isn’t right there.

However, nothing has changed with the Gunners defence, which still looks as fragile as before the enforced break. Arsenal need leaders, now they haven’t got any. Oh, for the leadership chiefs such as Tony Adams and Martin Keown- who must be shaking their heads every time they watch Arsenal play- who must begin to wonder will this problem ever be rectified.

We also learn in the past few days how good a player Bruno Fernandes is and the return of a hungry Paul Pogba. I didn’t think I would ever be saying that for a long time.

Despite appearing to not be worrying about a haircut- Yes Roy there are mobile hairdressers around who will be queuing up to cut your hair- Hodgson is building a very dogged and tenacious side in Crystal Palace. Looking a very well-oiled unit, especially at the back, having not conceded a goal in almost six hours of football. Palace could be outsiders to possibly sneak into a Europa League spot come the end of the campaign.

The two W’s after the restart, Wolves and West Ham appear to be going in different directions. The Hammers are in a relegation dogfight, while Wolves are flying thanks to the brilliant duo of Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez – 23 goals this season and counting.

Another interesting point would be that since the resumption the sides struggling at the bottom of the table have really struggled since the restart. A fact that could be put down to playing home games with no crowd behind them to raise morale. However, you would have felt that with eight games to go, crowd or no crowd wouldn’t need to lift players, who know they have a massive battle on their hands to stay up.

To finish, although in most games playing with no fans present it is no material advantage to both sides, over the weekend in both Premiership and Championship games there were only five home wins out of 22 games played. When it comes to a derby match, it clearly will benefit both teams to have fans in the stadium. Take the weekend’s Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool. A game that was played with no passion and at times looked similar to a practice game. A lukewarm encounter which hardly got going. Not much commitment from both sides aside from a couple of late chances. This game desperately needed a full house at Goodison Park, which I’m sure would have given the game more of a feisty contest that normally happens in derby matches.

We must, however, remember that for the foreseeable future this is the way that football will be for a while. We will get used to it, with fan noise or not, carboard cut outs or not and drink breaks, which so far are amounting to a managers team talk on the pitch.

It is either this or nothing. I know what alternative I would rather have. Even if it means watching Mike Dean with that amazing grey beard and listening to Roy Keane bemoaning about Manchester United’s crop of current players. Welcome back Premiership, we really have missed you!