A weekend of the beautiful game put in short.

A weekend of the beautiful game put in ‘short’!

This weekend in football has provided a lot to talk about, a lot to be proud about also. It has ridiculed the ‘top six’ and their idea of the ESL through the use of a cup competition, to some extent, and there have been some pretty shocking results as teenagers have scored for their beloved clubs. I wanted to give my thoughts on what has gone on, as the EFL playoffs loom over for fellow hopefuls in the lower divisions.

It would be only fair to open this article by mentioning Leicester City and their amazing victory against Chelsea, as they won the FA Cup for the first time in their history after four cup final attempts which all ended in defeat. I wanted to doss my hypothetical cap off to Brendan Rodgers, for the work that he has done in Leicestershire as this final was all about making Khun Vichai proud and the Foxes certainly did just that.

How nice was it to see fans in the stadium? I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Wembley on three occasions and it is definitely one of the best places I’ve been to, although it can feel like the earth is swallowing you up when you are on the end of a cruel and bitter blow. 

Which, arguably, Chelsea were as VAR was again called into action to rule out a last minute equaliser for a slight offside on Ben Chilwell’s shoulder. This is where I believe that VAR provides a ‘successful’ purpose though, you can score with your shoulder so in the laws of the game the full-back was offside. Does this mean that the game is losing some of its value because of the emotions technology takes away? I’m not too sure because if you asked those for which it went in favour of, they’d be ecstatic. Something I experienced for myself not too long ago, when Tranmere crawled their way back from a 3-0 deficit at Vicarage Road in the opening days of the last calendar year. 

Talking about that emotion though, how spine tingling was it to hear fans again for some time. Personally, I’ve missed it and the national stadium felt like the 20,000 or so supporters inside it was actually the full capacity. However, that may be saying something about the atmosphere for England games .. which will hopefully change in the summer for the Euros. The scenes for Youri Tielemans goal were phenomenal and so was the Belgium midfielder’s strike, one to remember for sure!

Soon enough, I’ll be writing up an article about Premier League managers and the work that they have done throughout the course of this season. A certain Northern-Irishman will be spoken about, he should’ve been classed as an ‘elite’ manager for a little while now and hopefully that eventful victory on Saturday will turn doubters into believers of the talent and qualities that he has. We shall also remember that he is only 48, time is very much on his side. 

A manager that I would like to put on the opposite spectrum though, a gaffer who is ‘rightly’ classed as the same description that I’d give to Rodgers, is Carlo Ancelotti. Everton fans, or a minority who will come across these words may disagree with my points and they may even point to the lack of quality that his side has. However, the Italian was appointed just before Christmas in 2019 and what has he managed to achieve thus far? The results are spiralling away from anything that can be labelled ‘positive’ as they have lost more league home games since September than 17 other clubs .. the only two who have lost more have been relegated and the style of play is abysmal.

What respectful manager with the success that Carlo has in the game would put five defenders on the pitch, to start with, against a side that is being described as one of the worst in league history? 

Don’t be fooled, Everton does have the players, it’s just about having a manager that is able to get the best out of them. I’ll take a quick glance over to a couple of greatly promising forwards in their ranks, as the Toffees are supposedly deprived of any attacking talent, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to name that couple.

I said before Everton appointed Ancelotti, a man who has the Champions League title to his name, that it would probably have been better if David Moyes came in. To be honest, I stick by my words although West Ham put in a shoddy performance on the South Coast to get a draw at the Amex Stadium. Moyes, for me, would’ve been a great gaffer to turn the tides. Some would’ve argued that he was a finished manager and that the Blues need a progressive leader to take them forwards. I don’t think the work that the Scotsman has done in West London compared to his counterpart would agree with those doubts though.

I’m not saying that Ancelotti was a bad appointment, it could still work out and I hope it does for my Blues supporting mates as they look into the future where they will be greeted with an amazing stadium. However, they will need to up their standards of recruitment in the off season whilst hoping for the very best on the pitch. They could probably do with a commanding central midfielder alongside Max Aarons and a half decent right winger, they could even do with upping the standards of their back ups especially going forwards. 

The Italian with a great understanding of the beautiful game has said all the right words so far, but I fear that there’s a sort of God complex when the fanbase looks at him and that will inevitably lead to blind faith. That’s why next season needs to be the catalyst for the future, acting on a positive recruitment strategy led by Marcel Brands.

I do also want to praise Daniel Jebbison, a Canadian forward who was on loan at Chorley as recently as last season and is only the tender age of 17. The sky may not be the limit, but he definitely has a promisingly successful future ahead of him. I want to wish him all the best as he embarks on that journey with a goal in the greatest league in Europe, feels kinda strange that some pro footballers are younger than me now!

Elsewhere, I wanted to praise Marcelo Bielsa for Leeds’ mesmerizing 4-0 win at Burnley amongst Allison who netted a great header to keep Liverpool’s hopes of UCL Football alive following a sourly emotional few months and the places and coaches involved in the great seven goal thriller in Tyneside on Friday night. 

It would only be fair to leave this article by sending my thoughts to Sam Allardyce who’s men were on the receiving end of a bad VAR decision and to Emma Hayes who’s ladies were on the receiving end of a 4-0 defeat on the cruelest stages of all .. the UCL Final!

There is set to be another action packed week ahead as the Football League playoffs are looming, amongst the nearing end of the Premier League season where the fight for European places stay alive. Finals for other competitions are also coming quick and fast. I’ll be keeping you updated with stories, information and features from all of this and more through ‘www.EthanHoijord.com’! 

Leicester City have won the FA Cup and the Premier League since a beloved Thai family put their money and time into the club. Khun Vichai will be proud!

‘It has been hard to manage this group of players’ – The reasons behind Hill’s dismissal and who do we need to replace him?

The dismissal of Keith Hill and what key attributes must a Tranmere manager have to be successful in their role?

In the past week, Tranmere Rovers have dismissed Keith Hill of his duties ‘despite’ reaching the play offs and the final of the Papa John’s Trophy – where they would lose 1-0 to League One promotion fighters Sunderland. This has sparked, some, controversy as we are in an era that is deemed too harsh on managers. In my opinion, that is probably the right judgement. I’ll use Antonio Conte’s dismissal from Chelsea and plenty of Salford City sackings as examples. However, I thought it was important to delve into the reasons for why Hill was dumped ahead of a playoff semi final against Morecambe. I also wanted to talk about what makes a ‘perfect’ Rovers gaffer, in my eyes, as the Palios’ embark on their journey to making their SIXTH hot-seat appointment since they took over in 2014.

From an outsider’s perspective, those who don’t follow the Whites too closely, Hill being sacked may make no sense. Tranmere were ‘struggling’ when he took over, they got into their first Trophy final since 2000 and finished in the playoffs. However, if you ask the majority of the club’s fan base they will say that they are now more excited than they have been in ages that he has gone. That is because they have had the tough task of living through the past two months, watching dire performances on iFollow whilst watching a heavy defeat away to Cheltenham on Sky Sports. There were even supporters who were contemplating how successful a promotion would’ve been with him at the helm, if a miracle did happen, because that would mean the Mancunian boss would have kept his role. That was how bad it had gotten.

From the start, there were skeptics. Although this was greeted with an impassioned response by the club’s co-owner, Nicola Palios, who stated that she was ‘sickened by some of the comments and was going to sign off Twitter’. I don’t think that this is a campaign that she should be too proud about as some of the comments made have really puzzled the loyal Rovers faithful but considering what her and her husband Mark have done on the whole, I’ll let it slide. There were skeptics because Keith had an affiliation with Bolton, his previous club. There were skeptics because of what they had heard about him from Wanderers fans, there were plenty who said that he didn’t do a great job of building a relationship with supporters and there were skeptics because of the way he looked .. it had gotten that silly in some aspects. However, I was one of those who were happy and excited about what was to come. He had always got into the playoffs when guiding a League Two team, which was described by Nicola Palios as ‘success’ and he could provide managerial experience to those who seemed to need it in the form of Ian Dawes and Andy Parkinson .. the men who were the interims that steered Prenton Park into a place of optimism following a run of fighting wins and displays of sheer quality, beating Port Vale away 4-3 and Grimsby at home 5-0.

The appointment followed that Grimsby game, on 21st November 2020 and the first few months weren’t too bad on the whole. In the FA Cup, we got past Accrington Stanley and Brackley Town before getting knocked out in the 3rd round against Barnsley. However, that defeat in South Yorkshire showed what we were capable of as it finished in a narrow manner .. 2-0. The Tykes eventually finished in the Championship Play Offs. In the Trophy, the ‘Super Whites’ beat so many teams who were expected to go through. You think of the likes of Peterborough United and Oxford United, who Rovers beat 2-1 and 2-0 respectively and ultimately it was much better than the short run of results throughout Mike Jackson’s time in the hot-seat following on from Micky Mellon’s move to the Scottish Premier League. 

In League Two, between 19th January and 2nd March, Rovers won eight out of ten games including victories against Forest Green Rovers, Harrogate Town, Carlisle United and Leyton Orient where three goals were scored by Hill’s men in all. Also, he had beaten Bolton twice relatively comfortably.

So, where has it all gone wrong and are fans expecting too much from their team and whoever is in charge of them considering the high turnover of managers? In my opinion, Hill lost the fanbase after a great performance at Sunderland as what followed showed that he had failed in his role of galvanising a squad and guiding them to where they needed to be considering the level of quality it held. His comments throughout meetings with the press also showed that what previous fan bases had said about him was probably true. He divided the fanbase and the club itself as he used rhetorical questions such as ‘how fickle is that?’ whilst constantly bringing up his family and his relationship with his wife, which had no reflection to what was being shown on the pitch. After plenty of dire performances, we probably aren’t going to care that you ‘didn’t force my wife to marry me’.

He seemed to hold a grudge with club managerial legends such as Micky Mellon, who guided the club from the National League to League One as he stated ‘the club got relegated last season because of how many games they had lost, not because of PPG’ amongst other quotations and the final straw was when he threw his players ‘under the bus’ following a ‘congratulations for reaching the playoffs’ from the interview’s host. Although most of the players had let themselves down, I’ll name the likes of Liam Feeney and Peter Clarke who have both seemed to drop their standards of late, saying that ‘it has been difficult to get the squad of players over the line, it has been hard to manage them’. The relationship with fans had been fractured, all good work from the owners seemed to be dwindling as they seemed to hold blind faith and a level of stubbornness to not do what the fans wanted and Rovers had gone from fighting for an automatic position to clinging on to seventh. It wasn’t good enough and that was of course reflected in awful and boring performances every matchday between mid march to may. Thus, to anyone that doesn’t understand why the dismissal finally came, I have to challenge them to either experience what it is like to have their club being managed by the man himself or to try and watch any Rovers game in the past two months. The final day of the season and 2nd April 2021, both ring a bell.

I, amongst the rest of the fanbase, have now grown in confidence ahead of the playoffs following Tuesday morning’s news. Ian Dawes and Andy Parkinson know how to direct the style of play that fans, of any club, want to see and ultimately the squad holds the standard of players to perform in this manner. You take away James Vaughan, you then have to get the best out of David Nugent and Kaiyne Woolery. You can’t manage them, you have to consider the likes of Keiron Morris and Corey Blackett-Taylor. Why not try Charlie Jolley and Danny Lloyd? There’s more, the list is ultimately endless and it is about time that we have men in charge who can get the best out of their squad. A squad that seems to hold so many professionals with strong mentalities, you look at the backline and there lies the likes of Jay Spearing and Peter Clarke. 

I was ecstatic when the news broke, I had just woken up so that bowl of cornflakes that I poured was the happiest of bowls that I have poured in a while. However, if we look past the upcoming week and the next, possibly three, games we have entered a period of further speculation and rumours. McGreal, Challinor, Barton, Adams and Dawes are just some of the names mentioned .. who may be the sixth appointment? 

This is what I’d like, not who.

For me, there is a Tranmere way. There is a Tranmere tradition and a way that I want to see us play. An attitude that I believe should always be held, an attitude instilled by the likes of Johnny King and Micky Mellon. An attitude instilled and upheld in games that have seen Rovers beat the likes of Everton and Southampton in famous FA Cup games and an attitude that shone throughout the course of 12th May 2018. Those who know, know and however distant you think a tradition is for a lower league club that have won no major honours is .. if you ask fans what they want to see rather than who .. they’d probably reply with someone like Micky Mellon.

A manager that plays on the front foot, whenever possible, a manager who knows what it takes to win and a manager with great man-management skills with everyone involved in the club. We know that we aren’t going to win every game but a quote that whoever comes next needs to adopt is an iconic one used by Mellon. ‘We’re Tranmere Rovers, we’re here to win and not just take part’.

Thus, when considering the next appointment I want someone who wants to be here just as much as we want them.

I’ll be keeping you updated with more stories, information and features about the club throughout the course of the summer and beyond. There are some really interesting times ahead.

Colchester United F.C – ‘meeting the opposition’

Colchester United – ‘Meeting the Opposition’

To finish off an eventful League Two campaign, one which has promised so much and still does with a playoff place at stake, Colchester United will travel to Prenton Park where they will meet Keith Hill’s Rovers. The previous meeting between the two clubs resulted in a 2-2 draw, to earn that playoff place the Whites need at least a point again this time round. Thus, with so much at stake I spoke to United supporter Lisa Ford who informed me about her personal experiences following the club and gave me an insight into the club’s on and off field position amongst other subjects.

How long have you been a Colchester United supporter?

Since 2018. 

Highest and lowest points across that time?

In the past three years, the highest moment has to be the win against Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao cup. However, the lowest has to be not being able to watch them in the stadium since the COVID-19 outbreak apart from a trial run game in December.

Random fact about the U’s?

We have not seen Eddie the Eagle, the club mascot, since December 2019! 

What were your expectations for this campaign and how have they fared with what has actually happened?

I expected us to pick up where we left off last season with a good cup run and at least playoffs. However, we will finish this campaign near relegation which wasn’t exactly what we predicted. 

When United make the long trip up to Merseyside this weekend it will be Hayden Mullins that guides his men from the touchline as he was appointed interim gaffer in late March following the dismissal of fellow interim boss Wayne Brown. However, it was Steve Ball that started the season off as manager. Was it the right time to relieve Brown and Ball of their duties and has Mullins had much of an impact in his role so far?

Ball was always going to be given a chance at some point but unfortunately for him I think it was too big a job. Maybe the board saw how Brown had been for Maldon and Tiptree and believed he was better suited but again the results just didn’t find for him it seems that Mullins with Tisdale seem to have clicked and we are seeing better performances and results. 

Robbie Cowling is owner of the U’s and put a statement out recently to dismiss rumours of the club being on the verge of entering administration. What are your thoughts and the general consensus from the fanbase of Cowling and what was the initial reaction to the administration rumours? 

Cowling is very much a business man and his prime thoughts are making sure the club stays afloat. It’s his money that went into the club and he uses money from his other businesses so I genuinely don’t think he would allow the club to go under. As for the fan base, all fans like to blame someone for results and he seems to be the one that takes it.

Your danger men?

I’ve always rated Frank Nouble and Callum Harriott. My youngest loves Harry Pell but I think he has a short fuse when frustrated and teams know this and my eldest is a defender so it’s Thomas Eastman for him and he is a constant in that team. 

The last time the two clubs came head-to-head was in late March, it resulted in a 2-2 draw, Danny Lloyd and Jay Spearing being on the scoresheet for the visitors. What were your thoughts on that game and did you think that a draw was a fair result?

Another game where we gave away a lead to end in a draw. It was a dirty game Harry Pell was hot headed and got booked but then scored so all was forgiven.

How do you see the upcoming game panning out? (Score prediction and how both playing styles may look like etc) and why, if you do, do you think the upcoming meeting will pose more questions than the previous encounter in Essex?

I’m not confident with any game we’re playing at the minute. I feel a few of the players don’t play in natural positions and also it could potentially be dirty again. I would go with a draw so either 0-0 or 1-1. 

What eleven do you think will be chosen by the visiting interim gaffer?

Shamal George, Tommy Smith, Omar Sowunmi, Thomas Eastman, Miles Welch-Hayes, Harry Pell,  Noah Chilvers, Brendan Wiredu, Jevani Brown, Frank Nouble and Michael Folivi. However, I would like to see more of Joshua Bohui. 

Thoughts on Tranmere? The club in general.

I don’t know the club too well but my thoughts on the team were that they can be quite dirty.

What are your thoughts on Colchester United’s January transfer business? Did it have much of an impact with what happened in the remaining months of the season and would you be interested in keeping any of the new recruits for longer? Who is the one player, that may have been a January recruit or not, that the club have to keep hold of in the summer?

Folivi only now seems to be making his mark with a few much needed goals he maybe should have played more from when he came through. Having Wiredu and Nouble back was the god send for my two. I really really hope Nouble comes back permanently. I feel the club needs to give him some reassurance that the managerial and the close relegation battle was just a unique one off this season. Hopefully we keep Mullins and Tisdale and start afresh next season with the same oomph we seemed to have found with these last remaining games.

One player in particular may come up against his former club this weekend, in young goalkeeper Shamal George. The Liverpool academy graduate played a part in Tranmere’s 2018/19 promotion to League One, has he had much of an impact at the JobServe Community Stadium?

I believe so! He made some outstanding saves against Cheltenham a few weeks back. I think it takes a while for any player to find their feet with a new club and start shining. I think he’s had an impact, an impact which means Dean Gerken may be on the bench for a while.

Colchester United goalkeeper Shamal George during his time at Tranmere. ‘He made some outstanding saves against Cheltenham a few weeks back. I’d say he’s had an impact’

Grimsby Town F.C, it’s time for change!

Grimsby Town, a football club with a proud EFL history heading back to the National League again due to the poorly run state John Fenty and Ian Holloway have left them in.

Following the Mariners’ relegation to the National League, which was announced after a 3-2 away defeat at Exeter City, I spoke to their long serving matchgoing supporter Aaron Rattray who told me about the mismanagement of those in a high power at the club. It has been a campaign to remember, for all the wrong reasons. However, the future has every chance of being successful with a good change of ownership throughout the second reign of Paul Hurst at Blundell Park.

In 2010, Grimsby were relegated to the Conference (Now the ‘National League’) meaning they would be out of the Football League for the first time in 100 years. This was confirmed with a 3-0 defeat against Burton Albion. What do you think were the main reasons behind that particular campaign’s fate?

The dreadful 2009-10 season started off with Mike Newell as manager and he assembled a squad literally full of drunks and of course our board allowed it to happen, it is a well known fact that striker Barry Conlon at times actually reported for games drunk, and Paul Linwood who was a Grimsby player at the time recently said in a podcast which is available to find online that the players and management used to get drunk in pubs after training, he openly admitted that the players “tossed it off” Newell was sacked and was replaced by academy manager Neil Woods who tried to instil some professionalism and Paul Linwood in the podcast again openly said that the players did not like that as they only cared about getting drunk so they revolted and stopped playing for Woods, Woods did his best but was clearly let down by the most unprofessional bunch of players ever, these revelations are all admitted by Paul Linwood himself in a podcast which can be found online.

Former centre half Paul Linwood, he was at Blundell Park for season 2009/10 and he has recently revealed exactly what the squad he played alongside was like.

The Mariners would spend six years at that level, achieving promotion via the play-offs in 2016. Although no fan of a club with the stature of Grimsby’s should enjoy playing below the Football League. What were your experiences of supporting the club between those six years like? Were there any positives or games that stand out, other than the play off final, for great reasons and memories? 

For much of the non league days we were always at the top end of the table which is to be expected so we certainly won a lot more games than lost, whilst it was good to be winning games regularly, it was also frustrating to struggle to break down part time teams who come and park the bus! many notable games but Braintree away in the play off semi final 2nd leg where we overcome a defeat in the first leg to make it to Wembley which subsequently led to our promotion was a highlight for obvious reasons, also as Marcus Marshall who had hardly played all season surprisingly come off the bench and totally changed the game for us! nobody knew he was capable of that!

In the summer of 2016, following a great season under the managerial leadership of Paul Hurst, Grimsby went to Wembley twice to play in the final of the National League play offs and the FA Trophy. Although the Mariners would lose the Trophy final against Halifax, what were your thoughts on that season and why do you think it was as successful as it was?

One of Paul Hurst’s greatest strength is that given time he can and does create a really close, tight knit squad which would run through brick walls for each other and squads like that will always create a good bond with the supporters, I think that underpinned and helped create good things on the pitch which obviously led to our promotion, hopefully he can do this again.

In terms of the greatest feelings you’ve experienced whilst supporting the club, just how special were the emotions that followed the final whistle of the victory against Forest Green?

Under Fenty it has all been a sh*tshow so it was finally a relief to have some success, I will talk about Fenty later.

‘It was finally a relief to have some success under the ownership of Fenty, as it has been an absolute sh*tshow with him in charge’

It has been five years since that emotional summer, what would your description of the past five years be? Would you have liked a lot to have been done differently and have the Mariners done anything that you are proud of during their time back in the EFL? How would you describe the past five years with what has happened on and off the pitch?

Everything since we have been back in the football league has been done on the cheap which is typical Fenty, and indeed it is a well known fact that Hurst left us last time because Fenty kept breaking promises and Hurst didn’t trust him, Hurst has always been very critical about the way the club has been run by him, Hurst has recently said that we are at least 15 years behind other clubs in terms of facilities and infrastructure, he has also said his 14 year old son trains on a better training ground than we have got! The new impending owners have a lot of work to do, Hurst has also said he has a massive long list that he thinks needs to change so a lot of work to be done!

‘Everything has been done on the cheap since we were promoted back to the Football League, which is typical of how the club has been running under the ownership of John Fenty’

What is the difference between being a Football League and National League club to you? You’re a loyal match going supporter and have been for many years.

For me the biggest difference is pride, pride always should be present but pride of being in the football league!

I first thought that the club was in some trouble when the Mariners came to Prenton Park and were defeated 5-0. It was an awful performance and Ian Holloway lay into the journalists in the post-match briefing. What are your thoughts on Ian Holloway’s reign and did you ever think that Grimsby may finish in the bottom two? I’ve also seen the largest shareholder, John Fenty, take some of the blame for the way this season has gone. Is that fair?

I will answer this in two parts,

Holloway assembled an absolutely horrendous squad, the club went down the quantity over quality route and Holloway was on the board so we can’t say the board let him down when he had a say over it all, we come back to pre season later than anybody else and we only had one pre season friendly so we was already playing catch up before the season even started! Holloway insisted on a Barcelona approach and every game goals were being conceded because we are league 2, we can not play like Barcelona, many many many points were lost because of this approach but Holloway insisted on it, I know it is good to pass the ball but this approach was to pass every team to death just like Barcelona so it was more than just passing football! Holloway’s interviews became more erratic, I remember after Harrogate at home he refused to answer any questions about the game as he wanted to give us all a 10 minute lecture on suicide awareness, of course suicide is a very emotive and important topic to talk about…  but a post match interview is not really the time to be talking about it! his interviews soon turned aggressive and confrontational and at times he did bully the journalists purely because they are a journalist and indeed after the 5-0 defeat to Tranmere he made it quite clear that he blamed the journalist who was asking the questions, how a journalist can be blamed for a defeat i don’t know!

I just need to correct you on that point that John Fenty takes some blame, Fenty has taken no blame at all and he never will, he should do, but he never does! the fact remains in his 18 years in charge of the club he has taken us from the championship to non league not once but twice! and Fenty genuinely thinks that is a success and he always blames somebody else, mainly the fans but he has also blamed relegation this season on the soon to be new owners, how it is their fault when they don’t even own the club I have no idea! but that’s the nerve of Fenty for you.

I have attached here a thread on twitter which highlights perfectly what this season has been about and it certainly does show the incompetence of Fenty! it is 43 tweets in total and can be found here https://twitter.com/DN35GTFC/status/1387139076692840454

The Mariners thought that they had struck gold when they appointed a manager with Premier League experience in Ian Holloway. It didn’t pan out in a manner that anyone would’ve expected …

What are your thoughts on the Winter transfer window? Grimsby brought in players such as former Tranmere striker Stefan Payne who was soon caught and sent off for headbutting his team mate. What were your thoughts on that incident and are you happy with the players that came in and were shipped out?

Hurst in January decided the only option was a total rebuild, in January! and I don’t think he had much of an option, the signings in January were underwhelming in truth but you can’t blame Hurst for that as think about it, which good player wants to sign for a club in the relegation zone? We had a limited budget, even Exeter City manager has come out recently to say he struggled to recruit players in January and they were in the playoffs at the time so what chance did Hurst have at the bottom of the league with a tiny budget???? Hurst has since come out and said he still maintains he had to attempt a total rebuild in January and I do agree with him.

On Tuesday night, the club’s fate was sealed and they were doomed to another relegation to the National League with a 3-2 defeat on the road against Exeter City. What are your, rather raw, emotions on that? Can you see any positives about being a club in that league again or is your mind full of negativity whilst it comes to terms with the doomed news?

Relegation confirmed but a takeover is happening, and we need to remember Hurst has led us to promotion before out of the national league with Fenty hindering him so why can’t he do the same now he won’t have Fenty hindering him? Fresh starts on and off the pitch.

If you held a position of power at the club and was capable of making key decisions. What would you, realistically, like to be done this summer and are you positive about the club’s chances of promotion next season? After spending time at clubs such as Ipswich Town and Scunthorpe United, Paul Hurst came back to Blundell Park following Holloway’s dismissal. Is that appointment one which leaves you with high hopes of a promotion in the near future? If you could describe Hurst’s time back at the Mariners with one sentence, how would you describe it?

I have part answered this question in my answer above, if I had power at the club and could make decisions I would basically do what Paul Hurst wants, Hurst has said he has a long long list of things he wants to see happen on and off the pitch so let him get on with it and do whatever he wants which would give him the best chance of success!

Paul Hurst came back to the club halfway through a season of upset which resulted in relegation. However, it’s time for a new owner to give him everything he wants!

Thank you very much for reading,

All the very best,

Ethan Hoijord.

Meeting the opposition – Forest Green Rovers.

Meeting the opposition – Forest Green Rovers F.C

This upcoming Saturday afternoon, Keith Hill’s Tranmere Rovers will travel to Gloucestershire to face an outfit who they may come up against in the nearby playoffs, Forest Green. This League Two encounter will pose many questions as both sides are steeped in quality at this level, even though they have both struggled somewhat in recent times. There is also a niche rivalry, stemming from playoff games and the Green’s former gaffer in Mark Cooper, that is set to be rekindled.

I spoke to @FGR_Alfie who gave his thoughts on the hosts’ on and off field positions, the upcoming league meeting and his personal experiences as a fan of the club titled the ‘greenest football club’ amongst other subjects.

How long have you been a FGR supporter?

I’ve been a Forest Green supporter for around 6 years.

Highest and lowest points across that time?

The promotion from the National League certainly has to be one of the highs of my time supporting FGR. As for lows, maybe falling out of the playoffs to Tranmere or winning 3 in 22 last season.

Random fact about The Green?

Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin is an investor into the club.

What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now the campaign’s coming to an end?

I had imagined this season we would finish high in the mid table, towards the playoffs and my prediction is near enough right now the season is coming to a close.

After five years at the club Mark Cooper was sacked in mid-April, he had taken the club to the Football League from the Vanarama National League before guiding them up to be a promotion chasing League Two side. What are your thoughts on Cooper’s departure and what are your thoughts on the current interim gaffers? Who would you like to see appointed in the hot-seat next?

I can agree with the sacking of Mark Cooper on the basis that he had lost the backing of the fans a while ago and he certainly wasn’t the man to take us up. I’ve been fairly proud of what Jimmy Ball has done over his short tenure at the club. The ideal signing for the next manager would be Richie Wellens.

Dale Vince is chairman of Forest Green and has been since 2010, what are your thoughts on him?

I don’t mind Dale vince, albeit some of his views are certainly interesting. It’s good to see the club breaking some new ground.

Your danger men?

Jamille Matt, if he wasn’t injured, Ebou Adams and Odin Bailey.

The last time Rovers played against The Green Devils, was in late January at Prenton Park and the League Two encounter resulted in a 3-2 victory for the hosts. What were your thoughts on that game?

I didn’t think we particularly played that well last time out at Prenton Park. There was certainly room for improvement. 

How do you see the upcoming encounter panning out? (Score prediction etc) and why, if you do, do you think this game will pose more questions than the previous meeting?

I think we’ll win this one 1-0 because we are desperate to win to keep ourselves in the playoffs.

What eleven do you think will be selected for the hosts this time round?

Luke Mcgee, Udoka Godwin-Malife, Chris Stokes, Baily Cargill, Kane Wilson, Jordan Moore-Taylor, Dom Bernard, Odin Bailey, Scott Wagstaff, Jake Young, Ebou Adams.

Thoughts on Tranmere? The club in general.

I personally think that Tranmere are a decent club. Some fans might disagree with that, given the past history of both clubs, but you’re a fairly well run club.

What are your thoughts on Forest Green’s January transfer business? More often than not, this plays a vital part in whether the club is successful in achieving their late found ambitions.

I think the January transfer window was okay, but I do think we could’ve done with another proven striker due to the fact that Matt got injured. 

Two men that may come up against their former side this weekend are full-back Kane Wilson and forward Aaron Collins. The young defender made just upwards of ten appearances after making a loan move to Merseyside from West Brom, the latter made a couple of National League appearances for Micky Mellon’s Whites. What are your thoughts on them both? 

Kane Wilson is a proper good quality right back that I rate really highly, didn’t start off too well and picked up a couple of injuries but has come good. Collins, I thought was decent but missed some really really easy chances. For example, he missed an open goal against Crawley Town away (‘Yesterday afternoon’, at the time of writing). 

21-year-old full-back Kane Wilson during his time at Tranmere. In the above picture, he’s playing against Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup at Prenton Park. The youngster, a product of West Brom’s academy system has seen past a tricky start which was hampered with injuries to now ‘come good’.

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Barrow A.F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Barrow A.F.C

On Saturday afternoon, Keith Hill’s Tranmere Rovers played host to Barrow A.F.C in a League Two encounter. The last time the two clubs met the game finished in a dull 1-1 draw, to give Rovers any chance of an automatic promotion place come the end of the season they will need to win this time round. The visitors will have plans of their own, as they look to get a win that pushes them further away from the relegation zone. To get an in-depth insight into the Bluebirds’ on and off field position, as well as much more, I spoke to my creative media teacher Stephen Fallows who starts by telling me what his time as a fan has been like.

How long have you been a Barrow supporter and when/how did you first come across the club? 

The first games I remember going to would be back in 1987 / 88. Possibly Enfield at home with friends from school. Can’t remember too much about it, but it was towards the end of the season and just remember loving the atmosphere and seeing Cowps (see question 3) score at the goal we were standing behind and it got me hooked. 

Highest and lowest points across that time? 

There have been plenty of highs. The two wins at Wembley were obviously special, more so 2010 when we were up against Stevenage, who had already won the league and were huge favourites for the game. To see Jason Walker (a Barrow born player) scoring a cup final winner at Wembley in extra time from outside the area was amazing (quality goal too). The FA Cup 3rd Rd trips were good as well. 7 / 8 thousand fans going over to Middlesbrough (2009) and Sunderland (2010) were great days out too. 

One of the lows lead to a lot of those highs. In 2007/8 were in the bottom three of the National League North and looking dead certs for relegation. We were really struggling and there was no sign of anything changing. One particular game, I think it was Hyde United at home and we were 3-0 down at half time and it was raining, absolutely awful day and terrible game. Hyde wasn’t even that good, they just took the many chances we gave them. One of those days when you almost reconsider your life choices. Then, when the board decided a change was needed, they appointed Dave Bayliss and Darren Sheridan to be joint player managers. They took us on a 24-game unbeaten run and took us into the playoffs where we beat Stalybridge Celtic and got back into the National League. From there we had three or four amazing years in league and cups. 

Random fact about the Bluebirds? 

Legendary striker Colin Cowperthwaite (or ‘God’ to give him his rightful title) holds the record for the fastest goal in English football. He scored in 3.5 seconds against Kettering Town in 1979. 

What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now the campaign’s coming to an end? 

Obviously moving into League Two was going to be a big step up for a team that weren’t expected to challenge for the National League title last year. I said right from the start that I would be happy with 22nd (which is where we are now) and I would still be happy with that. Stay up and prepare for next season, which will hopefully be less chaotic. 

Rob Kelly is currently the caretaker manager of Barrow and has been since the sacking of Michael Jolley in late February. However, David Dunn was the one that started the season. What are your thoughts on the departures of Jolley and Dunn and what has Kelly brought to the club so far?  

I thought that it was maybe too early to get rid of David Dunn. We were losing games, but only by the odd goal, and despite being down the wrong end of the table, we still haven’t been heavily beaten yet. We had a new manager and a lot of new players and starting in a new division. It was going to take time to adjust to all of them, so I was sorry to see Dunn leave so early. He was very magnanimous about it all too and has remained on good terms with fans on social media, being very supportive when Michael Jolley was sacked. The whole Jolley situation seems like it was a desperate grab to move out of trouble. We signed a lot of players and again had to take time adapting to new players and management style again, and there wasn’t a chance for that to happen as he was gone really quickly, So Rob Kelly has done an excellent job in getting us to where we are. Whether he stays on is up to him, but I think most fans and the board would love him to stay longer. 

Who owns the club and what are your thoughts on them?  

We have a board that for the first time in a long time, looks like they can take the club places without being too reckless. We recovered from an awful financial position back in the early 2000’s and at the time Brian Keen did a great job over the next ten years, but the finances weren’t there to take us to the next level after the cup runs. Then we had a Barrow born millionaire living in Texas for a while who promised a lot, but nothing really came of that. Then current boss Paul Hornby came on board and everything you hear from the club since then is positive. Even bad news is delivered in an open and optimistic way, so the fans know what the club is going through and where we are. When they have needed a cash input, such as during the pandemic, they have said what they need and why they need and have told us what they have estimated to lose during this last year and how they are trying to limit those losses, so the fans have been very supportive and raised a fair amount of money when needed. They obviously care about the club and the fans, and as we have seen with all the Super League talk, owners like that are hard to find. 

Your danger men? 

It’s hard to look past Scott Quigley as the main threat. He has found it hard at times this year, especially after losing players around like John Rooney him that made us such a potent attacking threat last season, but he is a handful and one of those forwards you wouldn’t enjoy playing against. Lewis Hardcastle would have been a definite name to mention, but he recently had to retire after taking ill during a game and discovering he had a heart problem. At the moment, it is a team effort and we have a few players capable of getting goals, so it’s not all dependent on Quigley. 

The last time the two clubs came head-to-head was the final game of 2020 and it finished in a 1-1 draw. What were your thoughts on that game? 

It was a difficult game. We were on a poor run and a new manager (It was Michael Jolley’s first game I think) had come in, so was happy to get the point and we could have got a late winner if I remember rightly. One of those games we have had a lot of this year, could so easily have won, and also have lost as well.  

How do you see the upcoming game panning out? (Score prediction etc) and why, if you do, do you think this game will pose more questions than the previous meeting? 

I think it will be close. Just by going through Barrow’s season so far. To be that low in the table and have a goal difference of –6 is pretty good going. If we keep up our recent form we have a chance, but we must be careful not to leave too many opportunities for Tranmere. It’s going to be a tough game with Tranmere going for promotion, but I reckon we can get something from the game. Every point counts for us now so I would be happy with a draw but can see Barrow grabbing a win too if we play to our strengths. 

What eleven do you think will be selected for Barrow and what game plan do you think your interim gaffer will choose to play with? 

Since Rob Kelly took over, we have been pretty decent at the back, soaked up a lot of pressure and never given up looking for a goal. We had a lot of games where we lost late goals and dropped a lot of points, but Kelly has turned that around with a fair amount of late goals picking points up for us. As for the team, Dixon, Eardley, Brough, Thomas, Taylor and Quigley should be there, but we seem to be building a decent squad so whoever plays seems to fit into the system well. 

Thoughts on Tranmere? The club in general. 

I like them. They seem to be very well run and building on what they have without risking the club, which a lot of lower and non-league teams seem to do. Great ground (it did seem very strange going there for the FA Trophy and National League games) and seems like a very community lead club, and the fans seem cool too. Have shared a few pints with some over the games I’ve seen at Prenton Park, and hopefully will enjoy a few more trips there as it’s my local ground now.

What are your thoughts on Barrow’s January transfer business? More often than not this plays a vital role in determining whether the club can achieve their late found ambitions. 

I think it was all a bit rushed with a new manager coming in and adding to a squad that was already adapting to the previous influx of players from the summer. We brought in eight in the summer, then another seven I think in January, so when Rob Kelly took over, he had a group of players that weren’t settled and were having to adapt to their third managers tactics and training in just a matter of months. 

One player that may face his former club this weekend is former Rovers midfielder and promotion winner, Ollie Banks. What are your thoughts on his time at the club thus far and what does he bring to the team? 

It’s early days, but he does look useful. He has had a couple of rough games early on, but this has been part of a side that has been struggling but seems to be coming good just at the right time. I heard good things about him from Tranmere fans when he signed, and if he turns out to be as good as they said, we could have ourselves a great player. 

Creative midfielder, Ollie Banks during his time at Tranmere Rovers. In this picture, Rovers are playing against Leicester City U21s in the Papa John’s Trophy. The 28-year-old became a Bluebird in January, after playing a vital part in the Whites’ promotion to League One in 2019.

Ryan Eades’ viewpoint on the ESL.

Ryan Eades’ viewpoint on the ESL

I spoke to an Irish Liverpool supporter in the form of Ryan Eades. He spoke about the importance of a level playing field in football and how the ESL proposals went against anything he thought that the game should’ve been about. Like many others, he dismissed the belief that football fans have won as the clubs withdrawn following a backlash as ticket prices and other situations need to improve.

‘I support Liverpool and have done so for the last 12 years. Rather reluctantly under the Hodgson and Rodgers years.’

‘I felt the ESL proposal was an insult to the fans, players and staff of all 20 premier league clubs. It was clearly a money grab that honestly has baffled any fan as to how these owners thought fans would agree to this and there would be no backlash. I completely understand why the other 14 clubs became outraged as these clubs felt they were too good to be in the presence of the other 14 which could be acceptable when you consider the top 6 do attract the most fans but this is no excuse for jeopardising the meaning of competition.’

‘I think a level playing field is more important than personal greed and success. I personally want football to be competitive. The beauty of the premier league is every club can beat everyone at any given time. I think dropping out of the English system just to gain financially was pointless as you would make people lose interest very quickly.’

‘The only positive I saw from the proposals was the financial gain for the clubs. From a business standpoint the ESL made perfect sense and was a perfect thing to do but from a morality point of view it was highly offensive to the players and supporters. I don’t think it will ever happen however if these crooks are still in charge of the 6 clubs in 10 years you can almost guarantee that they will try again but with more planning and better PR to manipulate fans into agreeing’.

‘I don’t think that the Premier League would’ve kicked them out but if the 6 teams were still in the league still and also in the ESL the league would become meaningless and stale. I think if they had kicked the 6 clubs out the premier league would severely struggle as the interest would no longer be there from sponsors and revenue would be decreased massively as a result. The 6 clubs are prime examples of supply and demand. The big companies like Cadbury pay big money to the premier league to sponsor the league and be associated with the massive clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United. Without these clubs also the fans wouldn’t show an interest in the league which would mean the massive television money from sky and BT would eventually stop coming in as there’s less eyes on the league’.

‘I felt Florentino Perez’s comments were an incredibly ignorant assumption to make and was a prime example of him just clutching at straws to fit his narrative. Being a 19 year old I am addicted to football and I know millions of 16-24 year olds worldwide also feel the same. Perez’s comments on Monday night was solely all arrogance from a man who felt he was undefeatable’.

‘I really enjoy the English pyramid. I feel the whole fairy tale of teams going from nothing to something is key to the romance in the game. For example, Bournemouth going from league 2 to the premier league in 6 seasons was something you just don’t get in other countries. These success stories would ultimately be no more if the ESL did happen as the resources of English football would take a massive hit’.

‘My initial response was anger. I was livid at the proposals. I felt it was a massive teller from the owners as to how they view the fans. If it wasn’t evident before that FSG viewed fans as consumers instead of actual fans then its set in stone now. I was upset like I presume every fan was that the sport we love so much was ultimately being snatched away to line these people’s pockets’.

‘I personally don’t think they listened to the fans. I honestly think the owners were apologetic that they got called out on their bluff. I think players like Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford speaking out really put pressure on these owners. As a football fan I want all clubs to be punished but as a Liverpool fan I hope there’s no punishment or if there is it’s a punishment imposed on these owners’.

‘I think ticket prices have to decrease. Fans have been priced out of following their teams. I think the game has to be given back to the fans and ticket prices should be capped at £30. I’d like to see more control in decisions given to the fans like in Germany with the 50+1 model. I’d like the greed to be taken out of football. I’ve no issues with the players’ wages if it’s sustainable for the club as at the end of the day these players are in demand as entertainers and are probably being paid fairly for what they generate financially even if it is ridiculous money’.

Thomas Whewell’s viewpoint on the ESL.

THOMAS WHEWELL

I spoke to a supporter of League Two, Tranmere Rovers, who completely opposed the European Super League proposals and who the League would’ve benefitted the most. He believes that issues such as ticket prices need addressing and that sporting integrity must be kept intact.

‘I support Tranmere and been interested in football my whole life’  

‘My thoughts, about the ESL, were that it could put the whole pyramid in jeopardy’ 

‘It’s important that all clubs hold the same values and positions, we need to keep sporting integrity so no one is entitled to anything’. 

‘The only ones it benefited were those glory hunters in other countries and the owners behind it. I think the reaction it received was deserved and definitely an eye opener to prove no one can just come and franchise our game’.  

‘I think the Premier League should punish them in every way possible for even having the audacity to propose such a ridiculous idea that could ruin football forever, never mind actually agreeing to it. They’re no different from Wigan, Bolton, Bury Birmingham etc. If they’re not punished it only reinforces their view of being untouchable and something similar will happen again. With them out of the PL it will obviously bring less money but I think it would be refreshing and more competitive’. 

‘Perez is absolutely deluded for coming out with such a ridiculous statement, the reason 16-24yr olds don’t ‘have an interest’ is because we can’t pay the ridiculous subscription fees in order to watch it never mind the ridiculous ticket prices of those in the PL, I’m quite lucky  ticket prices are reasonable in LG2’. 

‘The brilliance of the English pyramid is that you can have Leicester go and win the league, you have West Ham pushing for the champions league, I know they’ve been relegated but last season Sheffield United pushed for Europe. That’s what it’s all about’. 

‘I thought the super league was a complete insult to what sport is about and an absolute money grab by owners who clearly have no idea about what football means to us and don’t care to understand our culture. After watching Neville’s and Carragher’s reaction among the uproar of fans I knew it wouldn’t be long before the plans caved’. 

‘Owners gave an apology but not that they meant it otherwise they wouldn’t have proposed it in the first place. If they cared about the fans’ views then why was it schemed in private behind the scenes? They need to be punished and punished heavily to ensure this doesn’t happen again’.

‘Ticket prices especially in the PL need reducing massively, it’s no longer the working man’s sport, we need to take power off billionaires and give it to the people that care, the fans, finally racism needs to be taken more seriously give lifetime bans to anyone found guilty of racism, you’re not accidentally racist and you get more punishment if you put a bet on’. 

Joe Roberto’s view on the ESL

Joe Roberto

I spoke to Evertonian Joe Roberto about his thoughts on the European Super League and what he values the most about football and his club. He believes that the club’s involved in the ESL need to be heavily punished and that the people in charge of clubs and organisations need to do more to improve their relationship with supporters.

What football team do you support and how long have you been interested in football?

‘I support Everton and have been interested in the game since I can remember. I went to my first game in 2004 and still regularly go to games’.

What were your thoughts on the proposals and how did you feel for the 14 clubs who weren’t involved?

‘Luckily, Everton weren’t involved with these proposals. I felt disgusted that the owners of the club’s involved thought they could secretly conspire to ditch the other 14 clubs for personal gain’.

Obviously, we would all like our teams to be successful, but would you mind if the values of the sport were adjusted for personal gain?

‘While winning silverware is something you will always want your club to do, supporting a club with decent values is massive for me. While I’m not oblivious to the fact Everton are a well-established Premier League club and who are very wealthy, we do a lot of work off the pitch. The club’s ongoing support for the Fans Supporting Food Banks campaign, Everton Free School and Everton in the Community are things I’m very proud of’.

‘I take a lot of interest in the German club St Pauli who are a club that are built on principles that tackles problems such discrimination, homophobia and racism. If more clubs were willing to follow their path, then football would be miles better’.

What were your thoughts on the ESL proposals? Did you see any positives about the League? Can you see it working one day? Do you think it, or something similar, will happen one day regardless of the fans viewpoint?

‘From what I have read, I can’t see anything I can agree on. I don’t think this will be the end of it though. Depending on punishments, more ideas will be floated and when they do happen, I hope fans remember this situation and once again use their power to stop it’.

The proposals went against rule L9 in the Premier League handbook, saying that clubs shouldn’t play for anything outside the stated competitions. There were rumours circulating that the Premier League would kick them out if they went against their wishes, do you think that they would’ve actually kicked them out and what do you think the league would’ve been like without the six clubs?

‘I don’t think they’ll be kicked out. While the Premier League’s image would be given a boost as they would be seen to be tackling these clubs, they would be losing a lot of money in the long-term which they can’t afford to do’.

‘This can be seen when one of the ‘big six’ play each other, there’s a lot of fanfare pre-match and TV revenue is sky high. If you compare this to a game against two mid-table teams, the same attention isn’t there’.

‘While you have to admit that the teams who proposed this league are the best clubs in the Premier League, the league still has plenty of quality. Leicester are starting to cement themselves as regularly challenging for Europe, West Ham have been great this season and Everton are showing glimpses of being able to challenge anyone on their day. While the quality would drop in parts, the drop wouldn’t be that massive’.

What were your thoughts on Florentino Perez’s comments? Perez is the director of Real Madrid and was going to be the chairman of the proposed ESL, he said that ‘football needed to change and that 16–24-year-olds had lost all interest’.

‘Funnily enough, I think that football needs to change, but my reasons for this are completely different to Perez’s. The greed of the big clubs – including Perez’s Real Madrid – is disgusting. Just look at the amount of wealth they have and compare it to teams in their league, never mind lower leagues, and you’ll realise something has to change.

He was quoted in an interview saying that: “Young people say the game is too long. If young people don’t watch an entire game, it is because it is not interesting enough, we will have to shorten the games.” I don’t know about you but I’ve never heard that view before. If he wants shorter games then he should try and bring back masters football!

While there will always be a massive demand for youngsters playing football, look at how many are involved in grassroots, I think some youngers have lost interest. But like before, not for Perez’s reasons.

Due to the rise in ticket prices, some younger fans can’t go to games because it isn’t financially possible, they have to depend on streams to watch their games. While it is still watching the game, it will never give you the same experience as being at the game, they see the game as a weekly TV show. When you look at it like that, I think it’s pretty obvious to see why some have lost interest’.

Do you like the English game, at the moment, and the values of the English pyramid? For me, anything can happen and that is what makes the game loved by so many.

‘I think most of my love for the game comes from stuff off the pitch. There’s a lot of fan activism which is great to see such as clubs like FC United of Manchester, fans helping out with charities and how Shrewsbury Town fought to get a safe standing area – I love that type of stuff.

But there’s good stuff on the pitch. I think the Premier League is very entertaining and has some of the best players in the world playing in it. The Championship is very unpredictive, which from a natural point of view is great, and League One and League Two teams always have the odd cup shock in them.

But I know that many fans of clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two fans aren’t happy with how the English Football League is run which is something that needs to be changed’.

What were your initial reactions to the EFL’s statement about the ESL proposals? 

‘I think the statement was strong and made a lot of sense. A strong pyramid based on promotion, relegation and ultimately European qualification, is fundamental to our game’s continued success.

I also hope the ESL club’s view of the League Cup changes. While many see it as a burden, which I completely understand why, it provides vital income to many EFL Clubs’.

Ultimately, they were overturned and John W.Henry gave a speech to Liverpool fans. Did you think that the owners/people involved with withdrawing did pay an interest to the fans reaction? Also, I’d like to see them punished still so it doesn’t happen again. Do you think they should be punished?

‘I feel like the reaction from fans played a massive part in clubs withdrawing from it. While I knew this was always going to be the reaction, if fans didn’t kick up a fuss, I’m confident it would’ve happened.

Just look at the reaction to ‘Project Big Picture’ a few months ago. While that proposal was welcomed by a lot more than the ESL, the overall view was against it. So why did they think this would be any different?

A points deduction and a one season European ban has to be seriously considered. The authorities have to make a strong statement and make sure the clubs know that what they did was wrong and can’t happen again. If they are too lenient in their punishments, I fear the conspirators will be able to learn from their mistakes and try this again.

I understand fans of the club’s who took part in this proposal will argue that a points deduction or a European ban will be seen as punishing the fans – but something has to be done. It’s been repeated many times across social media for the past 48 hours, but fans of Sheffield Wednesday, Macclesfield and Leeds weren’t taken into consideration when they had points taken off them and the general consensus was that the right thing had been done. What’s the difference now? Is it because it’s the ‘big six’ involved? It has to be.

If the fans can be rewarded when the owners make ‘good’ decisions then obviously the opposite has to be true’.

People are now saying that the fans have ‘won’. However, I don’t agree with this as there are still so many problems within the game. What are three of the biggest subject topics that you want tackling within the sport?

‘While it’s great that fans were able to throw their allegiances out the window to unite, the game is far from ‘won’. The list of topics that have to change is endless. But my three main issues are the ever-increasing ticket prices that are pricing fans out of the game, crazy kick-off times that stop fans from going to games and sorting out the sport’s relationship with the gambling industry’.

Sam Morris’ view on the ESL.

SAM MORRIS’ VIEW ON THE ESL.

I spoke to an Irish Liverpool supporter, who also has a great interest in Tranmere Rovers, in Sam Morris. He believes that the game, in general, is great as dreams are captured throughout being awarded and punished through promotions and relegations etc and that Florentino Perez has no understanding of how young football fans view the sport. We also spoke about other subjects, including how Sam would like to see the game change for the better.

‘I support Liverpool, I always have done’.

‘When I heard the news about the ESL, my reaction was no different to anyone else. I was shocked and embarrassed that the owners of my beloved football club would go without consulting the fans or members of the club and put our club into a breakaway league. When I saw the details of this Super League and how it would guarantee european football every season without the competitive nature of the sport made me think that this decision was made solely because of money’.

‘I felt sorry for the other 14 clubs in the league because it’s completely unfair to them. The ESL would apparently have taken the place of the Champions League and the whole underdog story. As of this season we have seen teams like Leicester and West Ham be in with a chance of getting Champions League football based on merit and their performances over the season and the ESL discredits those teams efforts over the course of the season because one of the traditional top 6 would miss out. I also know the impact it would have on the teams in the EFL because I have been to a lot of Tranmere Rovers games and there is a world of difference between clubs further down the leagues and clubs in the Premier League and it’s refreshing to see. The ESL would destroy the football pyramid and essentially divide the rich from the poorer teams’. 

‘Every football fan wants their club to be successful. For me as a fan I value success but I would rather achieve that success without adjusting the already values of the game. So you can take Liverpool as an example, we achieved our success differently to clubs like Chelsea and Man City. They in ways bought their success overtime because before their takeovers they had history but very little success and their struggles with FFP. Even lower down the leagues, clubs like Salford and Forest Green barely had any success until they had massive injections of money. So I do value core values and would rather not have the already values of the sport adjusted just so my club can be successful’.

‘I never liked the idea of a non competitive league and the fact you would play the same teams every year. For me the ESL ruins the magic of the Champions League. One of my biggest dreams is to go to watch Liverpool in the Champions League under the lights at Anfield. That is an experience in itself nevermind the game. Famous nights like the 4-0 vs Madrid, the Man City game and the Barcelona game come to mind, just to experience that once in my life would be a dream come true. The Super League would destroy that dream and the memories attached to the Champions League by playing pointless games against the huge european giants. The beauty about the Champions League is, the rare occasions you face teams like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich make it even more special on european nights and the Super League would just kill them games. Another reason is it kills the underdog story. You wouldn’t get great unexpected runs from teams like AS Monaco, Ajax and even Leicester a few years ago and major upsets like when Red Star Belgrade beat Liverpool. It also ruins the dreams of the smaller teams who have made long journeys through the qualifying rounds to play one of Europe’s elite clubs. Personally, I can’t see it ever working and I don’t see any positives apart from the financial aspect but I believe that The Super League idea isn’t dead in the water just yet. I reckon it will be brought back up in a few years again with revised plans and they will try to force it  through’. 

‘No, I couldn’t see the Premier League kicking them out of the league. Lets not forget that without the “Sly Six” the popularity of the league and financially would be a lot less. Those 6 clubs are the money makers when it comes to revenue, brand deals etc, so wherever those 6 go the attention and money goes with them. If they did relegate them, you would see the likes of Sky and BT lose a lot of money and would have minimal interest in the remaining 14 teams and the 6 newly promoted sides. I think if they kicked them out and the Super League went ahead, you would see the destruction of the Premier League. The big 6 have the most power when it comes to English Football and whatever they do has a ripple effect on the football pyramid’. 

‘I wouldn’t believe a word that Perez says. I don’t think he even knows what he is saying half the time. His statement about young people not interested in football anymore was mad. He has definitely never seen football twitter before. I think the main reason people would fall out of love for the game is because of VAR. From ages 16-24 you start to develop your own opinions about players and the game itself so I don’t think he even thought about what he said at all. I still engage in arguments with my mates about football all the time even if we support the same team. He started the league to save his name and try to get Real Madrid out of serious debt.  He is a clown, he’s a businessman who knows nothing about today’s game’.

‘I like the way the English game is. I love the Fa cup. I wish Liverpool took the domestic cups more seriously. You can’t beat the unpredictability of the cups and the leagues. I feel like the top 6 sides shouldn’t be involved in the league cup. The league cup gets won by Man City every year and not many teams take it seriously. They should consider changing the league cup into an all Island Cup to add more excitement. So scottish league teams would be added to the cup and it would include the 14 remaining Premier League sides, Championship, League 1&2 and Scottish League teams. Keep the same format’.

‘I didn’t like the format of the Super League at all. It’s very similar to how the MLS is run. They have theirs split into western and eastern for travel reasons and they have a semi final and final. It’s very weird. The owners of these clubs and the main ones backing Perez are American so they would be used to this type of format because that’s how most sports are played over there. It would never work in Europe, hence why there was massive outrage as well. The no relegation gave the Super League a massive disadvantage as the league then became non competitive. The Super League had more cons than pros and that’s why it failed’. 

‘The owners should 100% be punished with some hefty fines. I don’t think for one minute that the owners thought of the fans while making the decision to pull out. They were offered big money from UEFA to back out and the threats that they would be banned from all competitions. The owners showed their true colours with that decision and ultimately burned bridges with fans and staff of the club. I’m expecting big punishments from the Premier League and UEFA for these owners. I reckon there will be a points deduction at the start of next season and a possible ban from European competitions for a season’.

‘I don’t believe that the fans have won to be quite honest. UEFA and Sky Sports and all the big TV companies are tricking the working class people into thinking that we were the ones who stopped the Super League. What are we benefiting from the end of the Super League? Nothing has changed for the fans. Sky and BT subscriptions are still too high, ticket prices haven’t gone down, the price of club jerseys are a joke. Further action against these things have to be taken if we ever want to “win” but unfortunately I cannot see anything changing. The 2019 Champions League final was held in a  64,000 seater stadium. Liverpool and Spurs were given 16,613 tickets each and all the other tickets were corporate. If that doesn’t say something about how little UEFA care about the fans then I don’t know what does. 

The biggest issue right now is racism. Everyone would like to see that kicked out of the sport and the only way to do that is by handing out long punishments and big fines. UEFA and the FA will have to almost scaremonger people so they know it’s a serious offence. The other issue I would like to see ironed out is  VAR. Personally I am not a big fan. They have to change the rules around VAR because the small offsides they give are a joke. They have to change the rules around offsides with VAR, we are seeing perfectly good goals chalked off because of referees opinions. That and the referees in English football especially in the Premier League are appalling. There’s a reason not many of them go to world cups and Euros’.