Month: April 2014

Premier League Best XI 13/14

Goalkeeper: DAVID DE GEA (Manchester United)

“What?! You’re putting a United player in here and this season?!” Why yes, yes I am. Sure, the majority of the Manchester United squad have left a lot to be desired this season and there are few if any that will come out of this (their worst in Premier League history) with any credit. But one player that certainly does is their young Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea. He has been superb all season and become the finest keeper in the country and one of the best in Europe now too.

Right-back: SEAMUS COLEMAN (Everton)

Ah now isn’t it great to have a truly top class Irish footballer plying his trade in the Premier League again? The generation of Roy and Robbie Keane, Shay Given and Damien Duff a thing of the past, Coleman has emerged as truly Ireland’s finest footballer. He has had a wonderful season thus far for Everton, to the point where Roberto Martinez’s side are within a shout of a Champions League place. Seven goals scored from right back is nothing to baulk at.

Centre-half: MARTIN SKRTEL (Liverpool)

It pains me to include Martin Skrtel in this list, not because he is a Liverpool player. No, it’s because he is one of the sneakiest and downright cheating defenders in the Premier League. Never have we seen a player blatantly drag opposition players to the ground by the scruff of their neck on such a consistent basis and pretty much get away with it all the time. The absolute gall of the man. But in fairness, he has contributed not just fine performances but goal in what has been an incredible season for Merseyside Red so far.

Centre-half: JOHN TERRY (Chelsea)

Another defender I include against my every morsel of contention. Nobody likes John Terry, except for Chelsea fans who even then must question themselves in the way you sometimes think “how could I have been so thick to fall for the idea of Santa or the Easter Bunny?”. But alas, he’s had one of his finest seasons in years, notching a few goals, doing his whole ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ spiel on overdrive. His retirement from the England set-up has clearly been a blessing.

Left-back: LEIGHTON BAINES (Everton)

The one position on the pitch where England have an embarrassment of riches is at left full-back. There’s Ashley Cole, who hasn’t really featured much for Chelsea this season but is clearly still top class. Then there’s been the emergence of Southampton’s 18-year old Luke Shaw who is being tipped for a World Cup place and a big money move to Manchester United. But ahead of both of them this season has been the mercurial Leighton Baines. For years now Baines has been the league’s best full back, usurping previous kings Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole.

Central Midfield: STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool)

Last season was not one to remember for Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard. Brendan Rodgers’ first full season at the club was clearly one of transition and nobody more than Gerrard epitomised this is as he struggled to adapt to his new deep-lying midfield role. This season however, we’ve seen just why Gerrard is considered one of the best midfielders of the last decade. He has pulled the strings all season for his Liverpool side to the point where they are on the brink of their first Premier League title in 25 years. And for good measure, he’s notched 13 goals from midfield. Not bad.

Central Midfield: YAYA TOURÉ (Manchester City)

This guy is one of those Rolls Royce midfielders. A man that was wasted at defensive midfield at Barcelona has become the best all-round midfield player not just in England but arguably in world football. This season has arguably been his most impressive, at least scoring wise, seeing the Ivorian notch an astonishing 18 goals from central midfield. Only Luis Suarez (30) and Daniel Sturridge (20) have scored more. His importance is such to Manchester City that his recent injury has put a massive dent in any hopes City have left of regaining the Premier League title.

Right Side: RAHEEM STERLING (Liverpool)

This one was a toss-up between Sterling and Southampton’s Adam Lallana. Sterling just about shades it thanks his STERLING form (see what I did there?.. I’m ashamed of myself) in the run-in to Liverpool’s would-be title winning season. He has scored vital goals in the last few weeks, most notably his well-beyond-his-years composure-filled goal against Manchester City in Liverpool’s 3-2 win at Anfield. He then scored two against Norwich in another 3-2 win. Where Suarez, Gerrard and Sturridge have mostly been getting the plaudits, Sterling’s form is finally getting attention. So much so that almost everyone has forgotten he beat up the mother of his child a while back. Probably the PFA Young Player of the Year.

Left-ish Side: EDEN HAZARD (Chelsea)

I’m not at all confident that Eden Hazard deserves to be in this eleven. It should probably be Adam Lallana or Ashley Young (that’s not even remotely funny) but in fairness to Hazard he was outstanding in the first half of the season and has arguably been Chelsea’s best player this season. He has certainly been their best attacking option in a frontline consisting of the neutered Fernando Torres and geriatric Samuel Eto’o, who’s only contribution this season was a hat-trick against David Moyes’ Manchester United. Without him Chelsea are even more toothless, which is probably the best compliment you can give the man. Speculation is rife however that he may be off the Paris St-Germain this Summer, which would leave Chelsea well and truly fecked.

Forward: LUIS SUÁREZ (Liverpool)

Most people hate him, and justifiably so, but you cannot deny the world class talent of the man who is without question the best player in the Premier League at the moment. His stats are just astonishing. He has scored 30 goals in 30 appearances, with 12 assists to boot. He has been the key player in Liverpool’s astonishing season and return to prominence. Considering he wanted to leave the club in the Summer it’s incredible to see not just his form but where he has helped put Liverpool this season. How different it all could have been. A shoe-in for the PFA and FWA Player of the Year.

Forward: DANIEL STURRIDGE (Liverpool)

You can’t have Batman without Robin can you? Oh, wait, you can? You know what I mean. Daniel Sturridge’s strike partnership with Luis Suárez at Liverpool has been one of the most effective of its type since Manchester United’s Treble-winning duo of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. Sturridge has notched 20 league goals, bringing the tally of the ‘SAS’ duo to an incredible 5o in the league so far. Just like Suárez, he is quite difficult to like, not because he is a cheat, but because of that horrible celebration that only belongs on a dancefloor after too many sambucas. He’s good though.

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What an insufferable pleb

 

Substitutes:

DAVID MARSHALL (Cardiff City)

PABLO ZABALETA (Manchester City)

GARY CAHILL (Chelsea)

FERNANDINHO (Manchester City)

ADAM LALLANA (Southampton)

WAYNE ROONEY (Manchester United)

SERGIO AGUERO (Manchester City)

About Keith Fitzpatrick

My name is Keith Fitzpatrick and I’m currently finishing up my BA in Journalism in Dublin Business School. I’m targeting a career in writing, in whatever code I can get. I’ve found myself primarily focusing on sports and entertainment writing and have contributed to a number of online publications over the last two years including:

  • TalkingBrawlsMMA.com – Reporting/feature writing on UFC and mixed martial arts in general
  • CollegeTimes.com – Sport Editor and also video game reviewer
  • CagedInsider.com – Irish mixed martial arts reporter
  • PrideofallEurope.com – Feature writing on this Manchester United fans site

I was also a a part of a podcast, affiliated to Radio DBS called ‘Off The M.R.K.’ which has (so far) produced eight 40-55 minute episodes.

Below you can find not only links to my Twitter and LinkedIn pages, but also to some of the articles I’ve written over the last couple of years for these various websites.

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WWE Wrestling Legend ‘The Ultimate Warrior’ Has Died, Aged 54

One of the most charismatic and popular professional wrestlers in the history of the business, The Ultimate Warrior, has died at aged 54, just four days after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Jim Helwig (legal name “Warrior”) allegedly collapsed when walking to his car with his wife on Tuesday night, clutching his chest, before being taken to hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival.

The WWE made this statement on his passing:

WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior began his WWE career in 1987 and quickly went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history. Warrior became WWE Champion at WrestleMania VI, defeating Hulk Hogan in an epic encounter. We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans. WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans. Warrior was 54 and is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters.”

Not only was this four days removed from his long-awaited Hall Of Fame induction and return to the WWE, but only a day after the Warrior appeared on WWE’s Monday Night Raw show in New Orleans, where he made a very heartfelt and foreboding promo, thanking the fans for everything and urging them to create new legends.

warrior promo

 

The Ultimate Warrior debuted in the WWE (then known as the WWF) back in the mid-80’s and quickly became one of the most charismatic and popular wrestlers of all time thanks to his intense persona, superhero physique, warrior face paint and relentless in-ring style and strength.

His matches against the likes of Hulk Hogan and “The Macho Man” Randy Savage were legendary, with his match against Hogan at WrestleMania VI where he became the WWF World Champion going down in history as one of the most memorable occasions in professional wrestling history.

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Since the early 90’s though, when Warrior left the WWE, he has had a very tumultuous and poisonous relationship with the company, many of its former wrestlers and in particular with long-time owner Vince McMahon.

The WWE even went to great lengths to destroy the reputation of Warrior by releasing a DVD entitle ‘The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior’. You would have thought that this would have ruined any possibility of bridges being mended but thankfully this wasn’t the case.

Last year Warrior was officially unveiled as being a playable character in the new WWE 2K14 video game, before the inevitable of being announced as being the star inductee in the WWE Hall Of Fame Class of 2014. Fans clamoured for this for years and a jubilant Warrior finally got to come back home to thank them for everything last Friday night.

What was notable too was Warrior making amends with many of the men he fell out with over the years including McMahon, Hulk Hogan (who hosted WrestleMania XXX on Sunday night), fellow inductees Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall (also known as Razor Ramon).

The Ultimate Warrior Jim Helwig leaves behind a wife, Dana and two daughters.

Manchester United Begin Champions League Hiatus After Defeat in Germany

David Moyes’ Manchester United side are set to begin an exile of sorts from Champions League football after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of European champions Bayern Munich last night in the Allianz Arena.

While United certainly weren’t disgraced in their 4-2 aggregate defeat in the quarter finals, the fact that they lie 7th in the Premier League means they won’t have any Champions League football to look forward to next season now either.

Coming into last night’s game, Bayern had the advantage having secured a precious away goal at Old Trafford last week in a 1-1 draw. The first half saw Bayern once again retain all of the possession but United actually have the better of the chances, with Rooney botching an attempt and Antonio Valencia having a goal being disallowed for being marginally offside. The second half then saw Manchester United take the lead when left-back Patrice Evra scored a thunderbolt, handing control of the tie to the Red Devils temporarily.

Unfortunately for them though, Bayern equalised almost instantly through Mario Mandzukic two minutes later in the 59th minute. Then only eight minutes later they took the lead through German international Thomas Muller. A quick turnaround and a despondent United were now struggling to come to terms.

A 2-1 lead and 3-2 aggregate lead meant Bayern now had their tails well up, and they capitalised on their dominance once again when Arjen Robben did what he always does, though somehow the United defenders couldn’t stop him. He cut in from the right onto his left foot, beating three players before smashing the ball into the back of David De Gea’s net. Game over. After the game, David Moyes admitted that this was likely to be United’s last game in the Champions League for some time:

“That’s how it looks,” Moyes told Sky Sports after the 3-1 defeat. “But I believe it’s not far away. Hopefully it will only be one year where we have to rebuild.

“My focus now is on getting this team back in the competition. It’s a great competition and we’ve really enjoyed it.

“There’s no shame going out to Bayern Munich – they are a good side. The players have played really well. We’ll show the quality we’ve got, re-group and start building towards being back in the competition.”

Midfielder Darren Fletcher doesn’t think the players will find it difficult to have motivation in the remaining Premier League fixtures, despite having little to play for.

“Players have got to play well to stay in the manager’s thoughts for next season – it’s as simple as that,” Fletcher told MUTV. “There’s talk of a lot of changes and who knows? If you get an opportunity to play you’ve got to go out there and perform, and show the manager that you want to be at United.

“A lot of people will say there’s nothing to play for in terms of league position or winning anything but there’s a lot to play for in terms of personal pride and to be in the squad next season.”

Next up for United incidentally is David Moyes’ first trip back to Goodison Park since taking over at Old Trafford when Everton host the champions on Sunday April 20th.

Bob Geldof’s Daughter Peaches Dead at 25

Peaches Geldof, the daughter of Boomtown Rats front man Bob Geldof has been found dead at the age of 25. She leaves behind a husband and two sons.

Police are treating the death as “unexplained and sudden”. It was on Monday at lunchtime that they were called to Geldof’s Kent address.

Her father said this in a statement:

We are beyond pain. She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us.

How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable?

We loved her and will cherish her forever. How sad that sentence is.

Kent Police also made their own statement on the matter:

Police were called at 13:35 BST on 7 April, 2014 to an address near Wrotham following a report of concern for the welfare of a woman.

A woman aged 25 was pronounced dead by South East Coast Ambulance Service.

Officers are working to establish the circumstances around the death.

Peaches Geldof, who was herself a TV presenter and writer, is survived by her husband Thomas Cohen, a musician. He had this to say:

My beloved Peaches was adored by myself and her two sons. I shall bring them up with their mother in their hearts every day. We shall love her forever.

The Ongoing Saga of Minister for “Justice” Alan Shatter

The Minister for Justice in Ireland, Alan Shatter has survived a vote of no confidence tabled by Fianna Fáil late yesterday by a vote of 95-51.

The motion was tabled after a string of controversial incidents under Shatter’s watchful eye including the Garda station tapings and the subsequent resignation of Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin criticised Shatter for his recent mistakes and blamed him for causing damage to morale in An Garda Síochána.

“From his first days in office he has been incredibly dismissive,” said Martin.

One of Shatter’s cabinet colleagues, Francis Fitzgerald, defended him however, saying “he’s the most reforming Minister for Justice we’ve ever had” and added: “He’s had a huge agenda which he has dealt with very assiduously, terrific reforms in Justice that have been lying around waiting to happen for 30 years in my view.”

Amongst the hate mail Shatter has been receiving as of late was a package containing a white powder, with a Nazi photograph and Swastika emblem attached.

The bomb disposal team was called to the home before the powder was identified as merely baking powder, though the sinister tone of the Nazi photograph, depicting soldiers at a Nazi rally.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny condemned the anti-semitic package, and deplored such actions just because Alan Shatter is Jewish.

“This morning at the home of the Minister for Justice, an item arrived by post, which contained anti-Semitic material and a substance which analysed turned out to be harmless.

The minister is in the house a long time. Members of the Jewish faith have been members of the Fianna Fail party, the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party. This has sunk to a new low,” he said.

“Irrespective of the normal rough and tumble here in politics, we can all deplore that. It is not in order that anti-Semitic material is being received by the minister who just happens to be a member of a particular faith,” finished the Taoiseach.

 

Garda Commissioner Resigns

On March 25th, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigned after massive pressure over the last two months due to his controversial appearance at the Public Accounts Committee.

His comments there sparked outrage when he called the actions of whistleblowers who disseminated sensitive date downloaded from the Pulse system “disgusting”.

In a statement Mr. Callinan said:  “I felt that recent developments were proving to be a distraction from the important work that is carried out by An Garda Síochána on a daily basis for the citizens of the State in an independent and impartial manner.”

The under-fire Minister for Justice Alan Shatter praised the work Callinan has done during his 40 years in the force saying:

“I wish to pay tribute to the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, on his retirement from An Garda Síochána.

“As Commissioner and throughout his very distinguished service in the Force he has made an enormous contribution to fighting crime and I believe that this contribution will be seen as a legacy of which he can be very proud and for which the community he served are in his debt.

“The high reputation of An Garda Síochána has been gained down through the years through people’s experience of dealing with members like Martin Callinan, often at times of great difficulty.

“I believe, at these challenging times for the Force, the men and women who serve in it will continue to enjoy the respect of the community they serve, often at great risk to themselves.

“I extend to him my sincere thanks for his dedication and service to the State throughout his long and distinguished career.”

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin T.D.s were in unison in calling for Shatter to follow Callinan in stepping down also.

The government has also published a letter which was written by then commissioner Callinan, written on March 10th, where he reveals and details the controversial phone recordings at certain Garda stations to the Department of Justice.

WrestleMania XXX Pre-blog!

It’s finally here! Arguably the biggest weekend in the history of professional wrestling, and almost certainly in the history of Vince McMahon’s wrestling empire, brings the biggest WrestleMania show of all time (yes, they say this every year, but this actually is!).

For so long so many had massive expectations of this event, dreaming up all manner of fantasy matches from CM Punk versus “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, to The Undertaker versus Sting, to The Rock versus Brock Lesnar and many more besides. Then once the ‘Road to WrestleMania’ began in earnest back in January, fans were subjected to some of the most worrying and unsatisfying decisions WWE’s Creative could have mustered.

The furore all surrounded the treatment of Daniel Bryan, who is currently the most ‘over’ (popular) WWE superstar since the likes of The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Beating John Cena back at SummerSlam for the WWE Championship only to lose it immediately to Randy Orton after a screw job by Triple H preceded a win over Randy Orton to retain the title only to be forced to hand the title back to Triple H and ‘The Authority’, allowing Orton to regain it. Bryan would then be moved out of the title picture altogether.

Then came one of the most controversial and downright disappointing Royal Rumble pay-per-views in recent memory. Randy Orton defeated John Cena to keep his belt before Batista, someone the fans really don’t care for, won the Rumble match to ensure he’d be facing Orton in the main event at WrestleMania XXX. To confound the fans misery, Bryan didn’t even feature in the match. Cue fan outrage.

With two of the fans’s favourite wrestlers in CM Punk and Daniel Bryan being horrendously booked in feuds with the likes of Kane and The Wyatt Family, something had to give. And it did. After the Rumble, Punk literally left the company. He took his ball and went home. He was burnt out and disillusioned with how he was being used. Daniel Bryan stuck it out though, and is now reaping the rewards of filling the void that CM Punk has left, hopefully only temporarily.

So onto the event itself.

Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan (Winner added to WWE title match)

The big draw of the card is definitely Daniel Bryan, as he faces Triple H with the winner being added to the WWE World Heavyweight title match against Orton and Batista. This feud has had a decent enough build-up, with Triple H beating seven shades of shite out of Bryan with a batshit mental Stephanie McMahon ushering him on. This week on Raw though, Bryan got his own back, taking out not just Triple H but also Orton and Batista. So who wins? It’s almost a certainty that Bryan wins this match. Anything else just makes zero sense. It won’t be straightforward though. Triple H will probably get the sledgehammer out after being pinned and add doubt to whether Bryan can make the main event.

cena wyatt

John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

This feud could have been done a lot more thoroughly and started earlier but sure here it is. The WWE’s biggest star being so low on the card might seem a strange move especially for the biggest show the company has ever held, but there’s a method to this madness. Most signs suggest Bray Wyatt will get the win and receive an almighty heel push by beating the face of the company at WrestleMania, but I personally think Cena takes this. Expect Wyatt to take Cena to the limits with Cena eventually pulling the win out of nowhere, and the feud continuing on to Extreme Rules, where Wyatt then wins.

The Shield vs. Kane & The New Age Outlaws

This match really should be a showcase of how awesome Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins are as a team, but there are continuing doubts about whether the WWE plan to split the trio up. All signs suggest that this will happen. For one, The Shield have recently done a face-turn, becoming fan favourites, which might suggest an almost immediate reverse turn is imminent. Eventually, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins will form a heel tag team with Roman Reigns going solo as a babyface, but hopefully this doesn’t happen on Sunday. I expect The Shield to dismantle their ageing opponents with consummate ease. Believe that.

The Vickie Guerrero Divas Invitational

Whatever predictions I make won’t matter as I’ll be using this match as a cue to hit the bar and/or the toilets. No offence ladies. But while I’m here, let’s hope the keep the belt on AJ Lee.

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Thirty WWE superstars vying to win a five foot bronze Andre The Giant trophy statue. This will most likely be quite fun and you can only be curious to see who the three ‘mystery’ entrants to the match are. The bookies’ favourite happens to be Alexander Rusev, who would be one of the ‘mystery’ entrants. One can dream that the other two entrants are genuine off-your-seat names, but will actually end up being WWE legends like Roddy Piper or Sgt. Slaughter. Personally, I’d love Dolph Ziggler or Big E to take this but it will probably be someone ‘meh’ like Rusev or Sheamus.

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The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (….to end The Streak?)

This one needs no prediction really. The Streak simply will not end, at least not this weekend. Why not? Because Brock Lesnar is only a part-timer and if The Undertaker ever was to actually lose at WrestleMania it would have to be against someone you were aiming to catapult to super-stardom almost immediately. The push of all pushes. Somebody like Roman Reigns perhaps. But don’t fret, this match will most likely be absolutely fantastic. Taker has stolen the show at the last five or so ‘Manias and Lesnar generally adds something special to a match that only he can add. This match will most likely see Lesnar demolishing Taker for the duration, before the Deadman makes a comeback and wins, probably by the Hell’s Gate gogoplata submission. In fact, this match could become somewhat of a pseudo MMA-pro wrestling match, with both men incidentally wearing MMA gloves and Brock also having using a kimura submission hold that comes from his MMA background. Taker to win all day long though. 22-0.

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Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan/Triple H (WWE World Heavyweight Championship match)

Everyone, including the bookies, has Daniel Bryan to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion by the end of Sunday night. In my experience of watching WWE PPVs though, getting your hopes up is a surefire way of having your WWE world come crashing down around you. It happens all the time. They love to piss off the fans to get heat, but will they really drop the ball so massively by giving to the belt to someone like Batista? Even in my most pessimistic of views, I STILL can’t see anything other than Daniel Bryan winning the big one. It has to be far too tempting for WWE. Imagine the scene: Bryan overcoming all the odds after two gruelling matches, beating three men and FINALLY getting the belt after all his hardship, and WrestleMania ends with tens of thousands of people in the New Orleans SuperDome chanting “YES! YES! YES!” at the top of their lungs with their hero finally the champion. It will be amazing.

As for how the match itself will go down, it most likely won’t be a straighforward shoot. Triple H will no doubt be involved either before or during trying to sabotage Bryan’s win. Dream scenario? Triple H interferes to try and cost Bryan the title, only for CM Punk’s music to hit to one of the all-time biggest pops and he Second City Saint returning from exile to help his old friend. Bryan then hits the running knee to pin Orton. Or else something involving Steve Austin. We’re gonna get something awesome. Either way, Daniel Bryan will finally become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

 

Predictions in brief:

8-man Tag Team Pre-Show Match: The Usos

John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt: John Cena

Divas Invitational: AJ Lee

Andre The Giant Battle Royal: Dolph Ziggler

Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan: Daniel Bryan

6-man Tag Team Match: The Shield

The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar: The Undertaker

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Daniel Bryan