Author: keithfitz

PlayStation 4 – Year One

That year fairly flew in didn’t it? It seems like only a couple of months ago I was waiting anxiously outside Gamestop in Bray at the midnight launch of Sony’s long-awaited PlayStation 4 console. Both the Xbox One and PS4 hit the shelves within a fortnight of each other and heralded in the ‘next gen’ of gaming. But that was a year ago and with that it’s time to look back and see just how much of its promise did the PS4 fulfill. Where has it fallen short? Why has it completely obliterated the Xbox One in sales? What were the best games? And is there enough about the console to justify spending north of €400 when you probably already own a PS3 or Xbox 360?

What the PS4 has done right

The Navigation

The best thing about the PlayStation 4 is that it simply works well. Compared to the cluttered navigation of the Xbox One and the broken and slow PS3, the PS4 is incredibly intuitive and easy to use and navigate. It’s so simplified and just puts the focus completely on your games and apps. Your homepage is just a queue of your most recently used apps, meaning you’re one click away from returning to your last game. It’s intuitive, it’s simple, it works.

PlayStation Plus

Probably the best part about owning a PS4 is that if you’re a subscriber to PlayStation Plus (€50 a year) then you’re given at least two free indie games a month to download and play to your heart’s content. Considering how steep a ‘next gen’ game costs (around €69) then this is a great deal. And it’s not just indie games now too, next month will be the first time PS4 gamers get a full ‘AAA’ title for free, with last year’s launch title Injustice: Gods Among Us up for grabs. The only problem lies in finding space on the relatively small 500GB HDD.

Sharing is Caring

Just scored an absolute worldie in FIFA 15 and want your Facebook and Twitter friends to see? Just press the ‘share’ button and select the clip and upload. Just got a super rare Exotic auto rifle in Destiny want to show it off to your friends? Again, just press ‘share’, and upload the screenshot straight away to your social media platform of choice. Better again, you even live stream your gaming session to an audience on either Twitch.tv or YouTube. And a new addition allows gamers to actually remotely join your gaming session without having to even own the game. This is called ‘Share Play’ and it is a game changer.

Destiny - It has many flaws, but you won't put it down.

Destiny – It has many flaws, but you won’t put it down.

Some of the Games Are Great

The first year of any video games console is always a breaking in period where it’s hard to justify forking out so much dough for a machine that has barely any stand-out games to play. This was the case last November for the PS4, where many of us ended up paying €70 for games we wouldn’t normally buy but did just because we needed something to play on our shiny new consoles. A year on though, and the PS4’s library has improved quite a bit, but not MASSIVELY. Here’s a run-down of some of the PS4’s best games (bare in mind I haven’t played EVERY PS4 game).

  • inFAMOUS: Second Son – The first, real, “true” next-gen title on the PlayStation 4, Sucker Punch’s open world superhero-ish action game saw you take control of ‘Conduit’ Delsin Rowe as he sought to cleanse his beloved Seattle of the evil forces that occupy it. The best part of this game though? You could either be a hero to the masses or be and evil bastard and kill who you want. Every major decision had a consequence which ensured there was every reason to replay the game again and having ten times more fun playing as a bastard looking for evil karma. 9/10
  • Destiny – The most expensive video game of all time (cost around $500 million to make), Destiny’s launch was one of the most celebrated in gaming history and most expected it to be revolutionary. Reviews were not so kind though, as the game lacked a decent story, lacked the “proper” open world-ness it promised and locked away the best content in the game (The Vault of Glass 6-player raid) for people beyond level 26 which takes a long time to achieve. Still though, I can’t put the game down and have invested over six days of game time thus far, and expect to invest days more once the new DLC ‘The Dark Below’ arrives next month with a new raid, new strikes, new rare weapons and gear and new story content. 9/10
  • Resogun – One of those brilliant free PlayStation Plus game, Resogun was a launch game and is easily one of the most fun, best looking and best playing arcade space shooters I’ve ever played. Exceedingly difficult, the game’s crux is to beat your own and your friends’ high scores. It remains the highest rated PS4 to date on many websites such as IGN.com. 9.5/10
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes – This might seem a controversial choice, but it shouldn’t be. Short it might be, but this prologue to next year’s highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a wonderful sandbox stealth game that pushes the PS4’s graphical capabilities further than any other game on the console thus far (well, along with inFAMOUS: Second Son). It’s very hard, and takes a lot of getting used to, but that’s the whole point of this game, it gives you a great taste of what’s to come next year. 8/10
  • Velocity 2X – Here’s one a lot you won’t have played but let me tell you, you’re missing out. Like Resogun before it, Velocity 2x is a brilliant arcade space-based shooter that is relentless in its pace and chock-full of upgradeable greatness whether you’re blasting through hordes of enemies in your ship or speeding through the brilliant side-scrolling levels on foot. Again, this one was free for all PS Plus subscribers. 8/10
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – Like Velocity 2X, many won’t have played this, but for simple reason that this game is a subscription-based MMORPG in the ilk of World of Warcraft. At a steep €12 a month for multiple characters, the game is a financial burden but it is an absolute joy to play, with an endless amount of quests to undertake and all taking place within the legendary lore of the Final Fantasy universe. It’s primal bosses, raids and scope and beauty, plus intuitiveness on a PS4 controller when it has no right to work so well, make it well worth a look. Just make sure you have that overdraft activated. 9/10
  • Killzone: Shadow Fall – Another launch title, many bought this game just because they had little other real choice. But like many others, I was pleasantly surprised at how much better this Killzone game was compared to its predecessors. The story campaign was beautiful without being revolutionary, but the game’s competitive multiplayer was outstanding, and this is coming from someone who rarely ventures into the mean world of PvP gaming. 8/10
  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Like a few of the games on this list, ‘Black Flag’ was also available on the PS3 but it was unrivalled on the PS4 in terms of graphics, scope and gameplay. Taking the usual Assassin’s Creed formula and throwing it in the bin, ‘Black Flag’ saw you sail the seven seas as a feckin’ pirate with a fully upgradeable pirate ship and crew with sea battles and sea shanties. It was an outstanding game and all the more annoying to see that Assassin’s Creed Unity is reviewing so poorly with so many technical flaws. ‘Black Flag’ was the best in the series behind Assassin’s Creed II. 9/10
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn - A beautiful, deep, joyful, expensive game

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – A beautiful, deep, joyful, expensive game

What the PS4 hasn’t done right

It hasn’t got nearly as many extras as PS3 did

The PS4 so far doesn’t allow for USB connectivity in terms of video playback, and only recently added MP4 music playback for custom playlists. The PlayStation 3, while flawed, at least allowed you to watch and store all of your downloaded movie and TV shows on your console allowing you to watch everything easily on your big screen. PS4 doesn’t allow this, yet. While it’s refreshing that Sony are pushing the console as a true gamer’s console as opposed to Xbox’s all-in-one entertainment system strategy, you don’t have to neglect the multimedia aspect completely. Here’s hoping we see this functionality return in 2015.

Not enough apps

This only applies to Europe, but the PS4 currently only has a handful of apps, most of which are completely unused. Netflix is fantastic, but other than that all we Europeans get is the IGN app, VidZone, and lest we forget, the YouTube app that was only added earlier this month. Here’s hoping we get the excellent WWE Network, UFC Fight Pass, RTÉ Player, 4OD apps next year.

The controller 

As I mentioned earlier, the controller feels great, plays great and just works better than it’s predecessor. But man, a four hour batter life? Really? The DualShock 3 on a full charge lasted over 20 hours. There’s no excuse for the DualShock 4’s battery being so awful. It’s not so bad for people like me who got two controllers with the console, but for most others, it’s very annoying to see your controller cut out in the middle of an online multiplayer game. Aside from that, the thumbsticks on the controller don’t last very long and simply aren’t durable enough to last the distance for any binge gamers out there. I’ve had one controller’s left stick’s axis messed up and another’s rubber grip completely peel off from friction. Once again, PlayStation’s controllers just don’t match up to Xbox’s masterpieces.

Looking at the Year Ahead

It’s been a massive first year for PlayStation 4 in terms of sales at least. It’s approaching Nintendo Wii levels of sales which is outrageous in the context. For most of the year the console flattered to deceive but the arrival of YouTube integration, Share Play, customisable dashboard and USB connectivity means that Sony is on the right track. Add to that the amount of incredible games (and particularly exclusive titles) coming next year such as The Order 1888, Bloodborne, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and then multi-platform titles such as Batman: Arkham Knight and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and 2015 may truly be the PlayStation 4’s coming out year. Grab one in the January sales and be ready for 2015.

How do you solve a problem like Di Maria?

First off, let me stress that the imminent signing of Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria by Manchester United is not a problem; this headline was just too tempting not to go with.

And B), the idea of this piece is to discuss the many ways that Louis van Gaal may look to fit the world class Argentine into his until now beleaguered and win-less United side.

The argument amongst football fans, of the Manchester United inclined mostly, has been how does this winger fit into a formation that doesn’t use proper wingers? We’re talking about van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation here, the one that utilises two wing-backs, two central midfielders, and then a ‘number 10’ behind two main strikers. 

Therein lies the first problem, and it’s nothing to do with where di Maria fits in, it’s that most people don’t realise that di Maria’s best season at Real Madrid (last season) saw him play in central midfield beside Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso. Not unlike when Alex Ferguson shifted Ryan Giggs into central midfield after Paul Scholes’ career was threatened through an eye injury, Carlo Ancelotti moved Angel di Maria central and gave Real a lot more vigour and pace in central areas. This of course was Ancelotti’s answer to accommodating three wingers into the side in Ronaldo, di Maria and new signing Gareth Bale.

While Giggs ‘did a job’ for United there when necessary, di Maria made the position his own and was arguably Real Madrid’s second best player behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the last two seasons, and certainly last season. In the Champions League Final in Lisbon in May, when Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema didn’t show up, it was di Maria that took the game by the scruff of the neck, causing panic in the Atléti defence.

‘Versatility’ can be a dirty word in football these days, but di Maria’s Real tenure showed that the player didn’t just “do a job” in each position he occupied, á la an ageing Ryan Giggs, but he showed he was world class in each position, whether it be on the right wing, from the left, playing off the striker or playing deeper in a central midfield role.

At Manchester United, he will absolutely be occupying these same positions whenever necessary. 

Louis van Gaal, while utilising this 3-5-2 formation since the beginning of the World Cup, has always favoured 4-3-3 whenever he has the personnel at his disposal. At United, having so many capable strikers and few top class wingers, he has started the season with the former formation, though, as he suggested a month ago, he would use the latter formation should he have “a world class winger like Ronaldo or di Maria”.

Will he start di Maria wide right, with promising youngster and heir to Ryan Giggs’ iconic number 11 shirt, Adnan Januzaj, playing wide left? This would seem a very sensible option, but then what about the problem or picking Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie? Surely van Gaal must play both? Rooney, the player dividing opinion most amongst United fans, is now the club captain and dropping him would seem a surprising decision. Dropping van Persie? Not a chance. Not only is the flying Dutchman LVG’s pet but he’s Manchester United’s only true world class player, at least he was before Angel di Maria signed.

If a 4-3-3 is to be utilised, I can see van Gaal trying to use Wayne Rooney in a deep-lying attacking midfielder role just ahead of Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick or Darren Fletcher (assuming United don’t sign up Arturo Vidal or Nigel de Jong late in the window). But what about Juan Mata? Mata can’t be played on the wing, and can’t be played in a deep midfield role as some have suggested. His only position, unless his immense talents are to be wasted is behind the striker or ‘in the hole’, where Rooney could play also. It will end up being one or the other in terms of either Rooney or van Persie, or Rooney or Mata, should LVG decided to go 4-3-3.

formation

Possible 4-3-3 formation?

If van Gaal decides to stick with 3-5-2, and it’s highly likely given current personnel, especially in defensive positions, then I would think it comes down to di Maria and Mata vying for that key central position. Again, neither can play in the base two central midfield roles, and while di Maria played deeper at times for Real Madrid, he did so with two other world class central midfielders never far away to cover him. 

The ‘5’ in the 3-5-2 would most likely, at least in my mind, be Antonio Valencia, Ander Herrera, Darren Fletcher, Angel di Maria and Luke Shaw, with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie up front. Di Maria could also be utilised up front beside a front man in this formation, the way in which Arjen Robben did so effectively for Holland during the World Cup. 

formation2

Possible 3-5-2 formation with everyone fit.

And let’s be honest, the likelihood of Manchester United having the luxury of picking from Angel di Maria, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Adnan Januzaj all at once on a regular basis is slim. Before Sunday’s draw at Sunderland for instance, you had to go back to March for the last time Rooney and van Persie last started a game together. Just look at Manchester City’s current attacking options in Aguero, Jovetic, Negredo and Dzeko up front. It’s rare that they are always fit at the same time, but whenever City line up, they always look a threat because they have top class players replacing top class players. 

What happens often with van Gaal’s teams is he will freely change formations when one isn’t working and a player like di Maria is perfect for this. He can seamlessly switch from playing wide in a 4-3-3 to playing more centrally and being more of a creative influence in the 3-5-2 formation. You see, there is no problem. United need pace in attack. Badly. Januzaj is very good, but they need world class ability. Juan Mata is top class and keeps play moving but while his passing is quick his movement isn’t. Wayne Rooney rarely runs past people any more. The last player United had that could ‘make things happen’ like di Maria can was Cristiano Ronaldo. 

So as I said, there’s no “problem” here with the di Maria signing. He’s a player United need and simply could not afford to pass up, despite the British record transfer fee of £59.6 million (around €75 million). United certainly need more, especially in the centre of midfield, and that position may yet be filled with the rumoured arrival of Arturo Vidal, but for now, it’s okay to get excited. 

World Cup Brasil 2014 Half-way Point – Golden Boot Frontrunners

It is with such sweet sorrow that we bid adieu and obrigado to the most wonderful of World Cup group stages, at least in my time watching the tournament. We witnessed some of the most incredible goals you’re likely to see in a World Cup and in total, just the 139 goals were scored, a modern day record. But what has been the most amazing aspect of the tournament so far has been that almost every one of the so-called “big players” has delivered for their respective nations. So I’ve gone an compiled a list of some of the best of the World Cup so far.

 

Arjen Robben – Netherlands

The Bayern Munich man has probably been the most impressive player in the World Cup so far. His link-up play with with his Dutch compatriots Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and others like Danny Blind and Nigel de Jong has been outstanding. In three games, he has the best player in two of them, and in the game he wasn’t he still managed to score one of the finest goals in the tournament. He has notched three goals so far and assisted a few more too. At 30-years old he’s still clocking up speeds that are rivalling if not besting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. It’s either the ‘Van Gaal Effect’ or it’s EPO. Either way it’s working.

Lionel Messi – Argentina

Coming into this tournament the best player of all time had a heap of pressure on his still quite young shoulders. This idiocy that he has to win the World Cup to be considered as good as, if not better, than Diego Maradona or Pelé has caused this. Argentina were most people’s favourites to win the tournament and while they haven’t been all that impressive in their three group games, they did win all three. But most importantly, Lionel Messi, captain fantastic, lead by example, winning the Man of the Match award in all three games and scoring four goals in the process. He’s the joint-leading goalscorer in the World Cup now after only scoring once in his previous two Copa Mundials. He’s getting better and you would have to fear for Switzerland in the Round of 16.

James Rodriguez – Colombia

“Hamez” Rodriguez, as the correct pronunciation of his name actually goes, is probably just behind Arjen Robben for me in the race for the Golden Boot. He has been the best player for the best team in the tournament so far in Colombia. Winning all three games, including trouncing Greece (3-0) and Japan (4-1), the young Monaco maestro has seen his stock rise drastically this June ensuring he is to be linked with any big team with one of those so-called ‘war chest’ transfer kitties. Rodriguez has scored three goals in three games so far, with one of them being one of the finest efforts of the tournament so far when dinked past the Japanese keeper in their final group game. A true world class star in the making and I fully expect another big performance when he and Colombia knock out Uruguay in the Round of 16.

Neymar – Brazil

Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney maybe have had unnecessary pressure on their shoulders, but none of those three have had it nearly as bad as young Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior. Simply put, anything but a Brazilian triumph on Brazilian soil is a disaster and the 22-year old is being tasked with more or less being the difference between failure and hysteria. Most 22-year olds would likely wilt under such pressure, but thankfully for not just Brazilians but those of us watching around the world, he has delivered. Boy has he delivered. In three games, Neymar Jr. has scored four goals and is the leading goal scorer in the tournament beside his idol and Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi. Brazil have motored along and look to be improving, but from minute one it is Neymar that has been their get out. He is a class act and I expect him to shine once again when Brazil beat Chile this Saturday. Dream scenario? Brazil versus Argentina in the World Cup Final. Neymar versus Messi for the Golden Boot and Golden Ball.

Robin van Persie – Netherlands

For me, the flying Dutchman has the goal of the tournament so far. That salmon-leap header from Danny Blind’s fantastic long-ball past a hapless Iker Casillas during the Netherlands’ 5-1 thrashing of Spain will linger long in the memory. He scored again in that game and then another – a typical RVP blast into the roof of the net – in their 3-2 win over Australia. Missing the Netherlands’ final group game against Chile, which the Dutch won 2-0, his absence was noted. Three goals in two games and his awesome partnership with Robben will ensure Mexico struggle to overcome van Gaal’s team in the Round of 16. I expect them to go through and van Persie to be right up there in the running for at least the Golden Boot.

Karim Benzema – France

France has been one of the surprise packages of the tournament so far. After a below-par qualifying campaign and not really doing anything of merit on the world stage since Zidane headbutted Materazzi in 2006, they came in with low expectations in terms of those of us looking in. What we’ve seen though is, at least in two of the games, and exciting France side brimming with talent that are actually gelling. Leading the line is Real Madrid’s oft-maligned Karim Benzema who has notched three goals in three games and been outstanding for Les Bleus. A second round match against Nigeria shouldn’t be too difficult to navigate but it’s the potential of a quarter final against Germany that could see them come unstuck. Benzema probably won’t end up with either the Golden Boot or Ball but he has been the star in a resurgent France side that were disgraced at the last World Cup.

Alexis Sanchez – Chile

Barcelona look likely to lose this little genius this Summer but whoever gets him signed up will be getting a legitimate star. Lost in the chasm of Barcelona’s dearth of talent, he has flourished in a Chile side that is centred around Arturo Vidal, Eduardo Vargas and himself. He’s exciting to watch and is at the heart of everything great about this class Chilean side. A big test comes next for him in the shape of Brazil’s defensive partnership of Thiago Silva and David Luiz and a Brazil side Chile haven’t fared well against in the recent past. They were knocked out of the World Cup in this exact fixture four years ago in South Africa. If they can navigate Brazil it sets up a game against Colombia most likely in the quarter finals and then either Germany or France in the semis. And then, who knows? Big problem facing Chile is that Eamon Dunphy has tipped them to win it all. So for that, I’m going with Brazil to knock them out. But in the meanwhile, let’s enjoy Sanchez, the best Alexis since Ms. Texas.

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.

sturridge1

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.

twitter

linkedin  snip

pendred

redser

 

parke

 

united

 

game

 

seery

thor

ps4

 

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.

hulk-hogan-ultimate-warrior

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.