Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Flight of the Owls IV

Fuck me! Just fuck...me! Sheffield Wednesday have managed to secure a playoff place in Chansiri’s first year at the club, we could be having a day out in Wembley and of course the big one, a chance at playing Premier League football next season.

I really don’t know what to say other than I’m so fucking happy! Some fans will be looking at this and thinking “settle down son, it’s only a 6th place finish in the Championship” but for me it’s so much more than that. It’s the change in the tide of a club that’s been on its arse well before I was watching football.

I’ve said this in the previous three Flight of the Owls posts that the highest I’ve seen us finish is 12th in the Championship. 11th would’ve made me happy but to finish in a playoff spot has made this season such a special one (to be fair this seasons been pretty special anyway with “little Leicester” winning the Prem).

At times it seemed to me that we only tried to reach the playoffs. Whenever we dropped out we suddenly went on a nice run of form to get us back to sixth whereas when we were sixth we just seemed happy to stay there when fifth, fourth and, at one point I think even third was a just a win away. I’d be dick if I said I was disappointed by this and I don’t want to dwell on what ifs cause who cares, we’re in the fucking playoffs!
~ I normally don’t swear this much in my posts...honest ~

I’m hoping to talk a little about our squad. It’s gone through a huge change since last season. The fact that arguably our best midfielder from last season, Lewis McGugan, has hardly featured this season. He has been forced out the squad by some class talent who have been going through some fine form. Nice to see him score at the weekend too, penalty or not it still needed scoring.

For me Barry Bannan has be unbelievable this season. The fact that our passing style of play looks weaker without him in the side just shows how important he is to us. I didn’t expect much from him but after the season he’s had I can’t understand why any Premier League sides had let him go...I’m gonna assume it’s because he’s about 4ft2.

Lucas Joao is another player I wanted to talk about. This player at the beginning of the season was class; incredibly strong, good touch, nice flair and he scored goals. The 22 year old got a call up to the Portuguese national side and looked like he was going to be a big player for us this season. He dropped off a bit but for me, if this flight is going to continue we need to tie this lad down.
~ For me Joao’s goals were what separated him from Nuhiu and stopped him being “just another donkey.” That won’t go down well with a lot of Owls fans but I sometimes feel if I striker is over 6ft and doesn’t score, he’s just labelled a donkey…~

The three players I want to talk about next are players we had from last season. Keiren Westwood, Keiran Lee and Tom Lees were important parts of our spine last season, playing vital roles in getting us to a respectable mid-table finish. One of the reasons I love Carlos Carvalhal is because he didn’t replace our good players from last season.

Tom Lees has turned into a reliable captain. I was unsure of his leadership skills as he seems quiet to me but I’m so glad I’ve been proven wrong. An absolute rock at the back who is consistent and the heartbeat of the defence. I just hope he doesn’t leave us for someone like Sunderland. The allure of Premier League football might be tempting but you’ll just find yourself in the same situation year on year.

Keiren Westwood was our player of the year last year (literally anyone who doesn’t know about this kid, just search Keiren Westwood saves on YouTube.) He was and still is unbelievable, how we got him for free I do not know. Loud from the back, rarely makes a mistake and when he’s called upon, makes the best saves seen in a Owls shirt since Ron Springett.

The third player from last season is my favourite Wednesday player currently playing for us, Keiran Lee. Top tip: don’t Google Keiran Lee, otherwise you get the Wikipedia page of a gay porn star...unless you’re into that kind of thing, I don’t judge. Lee (the footballer) is quality, the only player I’ve seen who can win a tackle in his own box to start the attack and then find himself in the opposition box ready to finish it. Quality player #Leeee’sElectric.

The last player I want to talk about is who I think will win player of the year, Fernando Forestieri. We’ve built our team around this guy, when he doesn’t play, we don’t play. He’s scored 15 goals this season in the league, closely rivalled by Gary Hooper on 13, and boy were those goals needed. Fessi is going to be very important for us in these playoff games but you can guarantee that he’ll get sent off 2 minutes into the first leg for diving...again…

Now onto the playoff games themselves. Since we finished sixth we have to play the team that finished third. It was a toss up between Brighton or Middlesborough and we got put with the Seagulls. We’ve drawn 0-0 with these twice this season and one of those games was without Forestieri which is quite impressive in my opinion.

The first leg is at home which isn’t ideal for me. I’d rather us know what we need to do in the second leg and have a packed house playing its part in pushing us over the line. Hopefully though we can build up enough of a lead in the home tie and see it out in the away one. Probably the best I’m hoping for at this point.

I don’t want to talk about the final because we’re far from that as of yet. The semifinals is a big achievement and is a giant leap forward on what the Wednesday have been accustomed to in recent years. Long may this fucking run continue. WAWAW. UTO.

~ Anyone who enjoyed this please follow me on Twitter @ThePenaltyKing1 or like me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~

Cheers for reading.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Liverpool Through to Europa League Final

Liverpool have managed to defy the odds and book their place in the Europa League final in Switzerland after an impressive 3-0 home win against Villarreal, winning 3-1 on aggregate. The Reds will face Sevilla in the final on May 18th and will be looking to secure their first European success since their 2005 Champions League win.

Liverpool took the lead (and made it level on aggregate) after 6 minutes. A dangerous ball was whipped across the face of goal by Clyne only to be tipped into the path of Firmino who played it back across for Llido to tap into his own net. Lallana, Can and Lovren all had chances to extend the lead but the score was 1-0 at the break.

Daniel Sturridge had some decent chances in the second half to extend the home side's lead but was denied by some good saves from Areola. But the Valencia keeper couldn’t stop Sturridge’s first of the night after a defence splitting pass from Firmino put the England international one-on-one. Sturridge gobbled up the chance with an expert finish through the goalies legs.
~ Side note: the passion from Sturridge’s celebration was amazing to see as well. I must say I’d have never expected that reaction from him. ~

I wanted to talk about a piece of skill from Roberto Firmino that sent Soldado back to Spain. Spinning on the ball and flicking it past the Villarreal striker before having his cross deflected into the path of Moreno. Moreno’s shot went wide and made Klopp’s face look like he’d just finished his third bag of Charlie…

In the 70th minute things went from bad to worse for the Spanish side as Ruiz received a second yellow for stepping on Adam Lallana’s toe. For me the England international made a meal of it but I don’t think the result would’ve been any different even if Villarreal had 12 men…

The game was then fully put to bed in the 81st minute when Firmino again tore apart the opposition defence and played in a low ball to Sturridge who sliced his shot into the path of Lallana. The former Southampton man made no mistake flicking it into the net and sending the Reds into The Europa League final.

It was an impressive performance with Liverpool having it all to do after their away leg, going 1-0 down after a late Adrian Lopez tap in. Klopp stating after the Spanish side's dramatic celebrations that he didn’t understand why they were so happy; they still had to play at Anfield. You can see why the German said this...

Now I’m beginning to become a bit of a fan of Klopp, I’ve said in the past that it seems he can do no wrong as a win is his brilliance whereas a loss is Rodgers’ fault. But this statement did annoy me a little, as it came from a man who celebrated a 1-1 home draw with West Brom...but that’s not the point of this post.

I want to talk about how Klopp is doing at Liverpool. The man is bringing back that passion and fire that Liverpool have lacked in a manager in so long. Bill Shankly was well known for his passion and his influence over the Liverpool fan base and it does seem that Klopp is trying to recreate that.

Now I’m not saying that Klopp is as good as Shankly, he’s a long way off that. But for me Liverpool is a club that rewards passion and commitment main reason they loved Gerrard and Carragher and why so much hate was put on Sterling when he left.

For me Raheem Sterling could have potentially become a legend for Liverpool. A youth academy product, was a good player, the fans loved him but at the end of the day if you leave at the first sniff of money you were always go down in the bad books...but I digress again…

For me if Klopp gets Liverpool to a respectable position in the league and wins the Europa League I think the German will be able to keep his job for a long time yet. Like I said, Liverpool fans love passion and commitment, so if he cheers every goal as if it were a Champions League winner and stay with them for the next few years he’ll go down as a legend.

Consistency is one thing that has gone right out the game in recent years, managers being given the boot on average less than two years after being hired. With Klopp’s ability he could take the scousers far but if my previous prediction is anything to go by he won’t last too long...

I made a prediction that Klopp would gain some quality striker (maybe a European or South American wonderkid) who will score 30, get them to second in the league, be sold for £100 million and then Liverpool will drop to 7th. Klopp will then get the sack due to this hefty drop in the same way that Rafa and Rodgers were. I swear if this happens I’m gonna go mental because I don’t often bet but quite a few of my predictions have come true haha.

I do hope now though that he can mould Liverpool back into a European powerhouse again. I’m sure Liverpool fans wouldn’t mind any trophy though to be fair, I think the last trophy they won was the League cup against Cardiff...not exactly the glitz and glamour of a Champions League but at least it’s something to cheer about.

~ Anyone who enjoyed this please follow me on Twitter @ThePenaltyKing1 or like me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~

Cheers for reading.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Arsenal's Protest

Arsenal, the club that just keeps on giving. If it’s not lackluster performances on the pitch, it’s lackluster performances off the pitch. A much smaller minority than I expected decided to protest that their current boss Arsene Wenger should be given the boot. Wenger even came out to the press and admitted he expected worse. He should have come out to the press and told the protesters to fuck off.

Wenger has been accused of making the same mistakes year on year and has stagnated the club in doing so. Whereas in my eyes he has built a side that has achieved Champions League football year on year and will continue to achieve it after he has gone (unlike Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side from the 2012/13 season).

For me this is just a perfect example of a group of fans who haven’t known anything other than what they’re getting now. They seem to think that finishing in a top four position year on year and making half arsed challenges for the title is boring and ruining the club…?

You want to try being 18th in League One with an on loan Neil Mellor as your top goalscorer! You wanna try coping with a manager who takes off a striker for a defender when the opposition have had a man sent off and you’re 1-0 down! You wanna try Alan fucking Irvine!

What would these Arsenal fans prefer? Wenger is managing to do something incredible, he’s built about about seven different Arsenal teams in his time, replacing some top draw players season on season, without spending hundreds of millions of pounds each season and is still bringing the goods.

Would you rather a manager like Mourinho? A manager who will win the league each year but replace no one, and then when the going gets tough quits, leaving behind him an aging squad and a style of football which will take time to get out of the players systems...time that the aging players don’t have…

Which moves me onto another point; Wenger’s style of play. I understand at times that Arsene Wenger does on occasion sacrifice the result in order to give the fans a show with his style of play. In the past I’ve criticised him for not looking to play dirty and see out a result. After all it is a results business.

I’m sure Arsenal fans would much rather watch 80 minutes of pizazz followed by 10 minutes of time wasting and holding it in the corners as long as they get three points out of it. But then again the style of play is Arsenal’s only excuse to charge so much for their tickets.

For me, ticket prices at Arsenal are a real thing to protest about. If you’re going to be disappointed each season at least make it a little less painful for the fans and drop the prices. I know things are normally more expensive in that London but £27 for a shit seat in a category C fixture?

Football is meant to be the sport for the working classes. How many people do you know on minimum wage can afford £27 a week to watch Arsenal somehow get outclassed by Swansea or Watford? Admittedly it’s not just Arsenal, I think there is a serious issue with ticket prices in all levels of the English game but that is a rant for another day…

Back to my main topic, I want to make it abundantly clear that I respect the fans’ decision to complain at Wenger, but if you want him out you can’t change your minds. The amount of Arsenal fans I have on Twitter who were ranting last season they wanted rid of the Frenchman, only to lick his froggy arse when they were top of the league this season and now want him out again is staggering…

At the end of the day this is why other clubs take the piss out of you so much and it’s embarrassing for the fans who stick to their opinions and don’t let things like ‘being top of the league in October’ change their minds.

Last word I want to say about this is well done to the Arsenal fans who have stuck to Wenger. I’m glad that some fans realise that this out-and-out Arsenal legend deserves a little more fucking respect. Everything he’s done for the Gunners deserves so much more than a statue outside the ground or a stand named after him.

I’m sure all his doubters will come to realise how good he was after he leaves and they have to deal with Tim Sherwood or Brendan Rodgers as manager...

~ Anyone who enjoyed this please follow me on Twitter @ThePenaltyKing1 or like me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~

Cheers for reading.