Editors Blogs

2k17.

2k17.

Harry became Sports Editor in September 2016.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

New year, new us…? Sorry. You’re going to have to make do with what you’ve got. But with the Sports Show now being an hour longer, possible FM status looming and a thriller set of sporting treats in store, we’re looking pretty well set for global domination…

Well maybe…

Anywayyyy! A lot happened over the Festive period. Sackings, questionable red cards, scorpion kicks, transfers, injuries, sulks, two footed tackles but let’s not dwell on 2016. It’s so last year.

Besides, we’ve got an awful lot to look forward to.

Locally we’ve got the FA Cup 3rd Round replay at Kingsmeadow on Tuesday after Sutton Utd and AFC Wimbledon served up a goalless yet tasty encounter last weekend with the winner facing an in form Leeds Utd side.

On the topic of the FA Cup, The 4th Round draw has served up a tasty West London derby between Chelsea and Brentford at Stamford Bridge, I know the mighty Zetter will be looking forward to that one, as will the rest of us!

Sir Andy Murray fresh from another Sports Personality of the Year award is looking for his first Australian Open Crown, surely it’s his year?

This weekend brings us the Manchester v Merseyside fixtures with Everton at home to Man City and Jose’s boys are at home to Liverpool which I expect will be an absolute cracker – See Dougie’s column for a proper preview of that one.

James DeGale faces Badou Jack in the early hours of Sunday Morning in New York in a Super Middleweight World Title Unification Bout.

Boxing. There’s lots of Boxing. Joshua vs Klitschko in surely what will be the super fight of the year. Haye v Bellew in one of the biggest grudge matches to ever grace the UK and then James Degale fights to unify the super middleweight division with Badou Jack in the early hours of Sunday morning. This year is going to be huge. And I can see there being a number of super fights involving our boys in 2017. See Chris’s column for our 2017 Big Fight wishlist.

The 6 Nations are only 3 weeks away with the resurgent Ireland looking to knock the England boys off their perch and end their unbeaten run under Eddie Jones.

Don’t forget that the Lions tour is only 5 months away…! I certainly won’t!

Lewis Hamilton vies to regain the Formula 1 World Championship after his teammate and 2016 champ Nico Rosberg retired. See Henner’s F1 2017 preview for more in depth chat about what we’ve got to look forward to.

Ian Holloway’s QPR side have finally found there rhythm and have won 3 league games in a row.

QPR have finally found some form under Ian Holloway with 3 straight wins on the bounce, I mean, who knows where they’ll end up. Fulham’s unbeaten festive period has brought them within 6 points of the play off places with a game in hand and Brentford are moseying along in the mid table like they have for most of the season but hope to hold onto top goalscorer Scott Hogan in this January window if they stand a chance of a late serge towards the play off fight. AFC Wimbledon have fell off the pace somewhat in December and it now looks like their play off challenge is all but over. Despite being only midway through the yea, a cup run and mid table finish is not a bad way to continue to start life in League One.

England look to restore their Cricketing pride after the 3 lions ended up on the wrong end of a Test series hammering in India with the one day series which kicks off tomorrow. Root and co will be looking to build some sort of momentum after a poor 2016 in the build up to the Ashes at the end of the year, whether Captain Cook will be there, only he knows really.

I know there’s much more to look forward to that I’ve failed to mention but I’ve gotta save something for future blogs haven’t I…!

 

Chris became Assistant Sports Editor this January.

Five fights I want to see in 2017 by Chris Reidy – Assistant Sports Editor

What a year it was for British boxing in 2016.

Great Britain currently has 13 world champions ranging from Khalid Yafai at super-flyweight to the man of the moment Anthony Joshua at heavyweight.

Joshua’s fight with Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley is an occasion that will transcend the sport.

Folks who have never watched a boxing bout in their life will tune in and the result, especially if Joshua prevails, will fill the front and back pages of our newspapers.

However, 2017 has more to offer than that spectacle at Wembley and here are five fights that I want to see take place.

Amir Khan v Kell Brook

Let us start with the most obvious one. It will be a crime if Khan v Brook does not take place. All the ingredients are there.

Khan has had fame since his silver medal for Great Britain in the 2004 Olympics while Brook had gone under the radar to the general sporting public until his IBF title win over Shawn Porter in 2014. Even so, it would be debateable to call Brook a household name and for that reason, Khan has always stated his reluctance to take the fight.

However, Brook’s gallant effort against Gennady Golovkin changed all that. Although he came out with a loss, it showcased Brook against one of the world’s elite fighters.

Khan and Brook genuinely do not like each other. This has to happen.

Carl Frampton v Lee Selby

What a year it was for Carl Frampton. The win against Scott Quigg showcased his class and skill but then to go to the USA, move up a weight class and defeat undefeated Mexican Leo Santa Cruz elevated Frampton to near living legend.

A rematch against Santa Cruz takes place on January 28 and if he comes through that, IBF featherweight champion and Welshman Lee Selby will be lying in wait.

The atmosphere would be electric in a Welsh or Irish football stadium to witness a Celtic clash to unify the world titles.

James De Gale v George Groves

If you are bored one day at home and need something to get you going, type into Youtube: James De Gale v George Groves ringside.

Hailing from the same boxing gym, Dale Youth Boxing Club, these two fighters grew up boxing together but never got on.

George Groves is steadily rebuilding his career following 3 defeats in world title fights and will battle again for a world belt later this year.

De Gales’s one blemish on his boxing record comes from a defeat to Groves, but after many highs and lows (De Gale had a professional bout in a shopping centre in 2014) De Gale is world champion and could be unified world champion by the time you read this.

After rebuilding his career in 2016, Groves has his own world title shot against Russia’s Fedor Chudinov.

Although De Gale says he has no interest in Groves he admits he is at the stage of his career where it is all about taking the big money fights and then getting out. Groves can sell a fight and if there are three world titles on the line this one will be huge.

Gennady Golovkin v Canelo Alavarez

This has a danger of turning into a Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquaio.

Are the promoters dragging it out so it can sell huge? Does Alvarez want the fight?

Golovkin will turn 35 this year. Although unquestionably a devastating fighter, one feels he still lacks the big name win on his record. The Kell Brook fight exposed him to a British audience but in reality, Brook is never a middleweight and Golovkin could fight at higher weight classes.

Alvarez turned professional at 15. 15! Again, his fight with Amir Khan was a complete mismatch and really did make you wonder how these things happen in boxing.

Hopefully sense will prevail in 2017 to provide one of the most explosive fights in modern times.

Will Tyson Fury make his comeback this year?? We hope so.

Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury

I could probably leave this section blank to be honest.

All one has to do is sit back and imagine the first press conference between these two to get excited.

Love him or loathe him, Tyson Fury is the best heavyweight on the planet. He beat the best, easily.

Problems outside the ring means we do not know when we will, or if we will ever see Fury in a boxing ring again.

But if he does make a comeback, this could be the one of the biggest heavyweight clashes in history.

It would make a fantastic story, build up and a fight that is incredibly hard to call.

Roll on 2017.

 

Phil joined the Sports Team in September 2016.

Un/lucky for some..? by Phil Aizlewood – Football Reporter

As much as I’d like to ignore The Premier League after its arctic two-week absence & wax-lyrical about the returning ‘magic’ of The FA Cup, this Freaky-Friday 13th has thrown up two stories that demand some attention..

Firstly, Paul Labile Pogba. On the pitch, seemingly settling into his favoured position [to the left of a midfield three], with Carrick & Herrera doing similar work to Pirlo & Vidal did at Juventus – where their dual poise & aggression enabled the creation of an apparent £89million player. Even as a United fan (shocking, I know), I was disappointed with his early season form, mainly because of his lack of strength in 50/50s. His height & strength were not being exerted, whether out of fear of a yellow or just genuine unfamiliarity, but he’s now hitting his straps and slowly becoming the giant general-type that Vieira was, 2000-2005 & Yaya was, 2010-2015. However, it’s OFF the pitch that I want to pass more colourful comment..

Paul Pogba seems to have finally settled into the Premier League and has been in great form of late.

Today, 13/01/2017, saw Pogba become the first footballer to be given his own emoji on twitter – type #POGBA, and his little cheeky face with customary flash hair, pops up within your tweet. Yes, I’ve tried it already. Now on the face [pun alert] of it, this is merely another millennial-move by a multimillionaire. An anti-football action of a guy who’s as interested if not more interested in branding himself as celebrity than bettering himself as an athlete. Journalists & opposition fans alike have naturally attacked, suggesting that he should concentrate entirely on his game which is far from perfect. Not perfect, no. But let’s consider a few things here: the guy is 23, let’s say he has 13 more years at the very top-level of the game. Isn’t he just striking while his iron is red-hot? His #POGBACK return to Manchester last summer was the first true cross-multi-media-platform transfer of these giddy modern times. It was carefully choreographed to coincide with rush-hours in China, United released a moody Hollywood-style trailer & there was even a rap-song chucked in for good urban measure.

But hey, in ANY industry in this era, isn’t selling oneself part and parcel of being a professional? If you’re not on twitter, you’re probably on linkedIN – & I KNOW you’re either on Facebook or Instagram, selling yourself and/or your life to garner interest and/or push your personal profile. In my humble armchair opinion, Monsieur Pogba is simply doing likewise, albeit on a stratospheric level. From all accounts, he’s a hard-working chap, articulate and streetwise, fun, friendly & fiercely passionate. I saw that myself live at the Euro 2016 final when France failed to deliver. He was visibly distraught – maybe because he cares about his craft, his legacy and the game itself. Maybe his online presence is a little extravagant, but it matches his Gallic flair and I guarantee others will follow very soon. A potential pioneer? Undoubtedly. And with 7 goals, 4 assists and 7 hits of the woodwork so far, a potential powerhouse is indeed emerging at Old Trafford.

Diego Costa is subject of a massive bid from China in an attempt to lure him away from the Premier League leaders.

Another powerhouse of a player, Diego Costa, has had a rather different end to the week, but newsworthy nonetheless. Transfer windows themselves are riddled with danger & drama because of that precarious combination of timing + time-constraint: everyone is hunting for a bargain to bring them out of malaise or galvanise them [close] to glory – think Christophe Dugarry, Nemanja Vidic & that guy Suarez. Chelsea have had a fabulous first half of the season, not much tinkering required at all..so how deliciously ironic that their biggest win of the window could be keeping their tenacious,  talismanic target-man. 14 goals of brutal, bullish nature have spearheaded their charge to the top – the pantomime villain of the piece. Yet rumours last year of his fall-out with José and his subsequent ‘downing of tools’ seems somewhat more believable again after his five months of best behaviour. Noises coming out of The Bridge suggest his head has been turned by the Chinese Super League, an offer of £575,000/week, followed by fights with physios. I mean, how do you solve a problem like Diego?

Like Pogba of course, his career is limited by his agility as a player and marketability as a public persona. He is a box-office character, a snarling anti-hero of ambiguous age. Can we truly blame a 28-year-old bloke for considering such riches at the peak of his powers? Would I turn down a few fat-cheques for fisticuffs & frolics on Geordie Shore? Probably, yes – but my gosh, I’d sure consider it over a Flat White or two. So look, let’s go easy on these two shall we? Both brilliant footballers, both pushing the buttons of boardrooms and bloggers, but essentially looking out for Number 1 [or 6 & 19]. Just because they do it under the social media-microscope, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to do what they want within their world. Costa fired them to the title two years ago & Pogba has the ability to swagger for seasons to come – so if they want to squeeze every penny or yuan out of their relatively short shelf-lives, best of luck to them. I get the impression there’s maybe a bit of jealousy flying around this dry January..

 

Steve hopes to fair better at ‘Better than Zetter’ in 2017 after a poor 2016.

WWE Name Change: Is WWE Really Sports or Entertainment? By Steve Zetter – Deputy Sports Editor

As you now know, Vince McMahon and the corporate heads at World Wrestling Entertainment have gone through with their plans and changed the company’s name to the simple moniker “WWE.”

This is to illustrate the change the company experienced from being a simple wrestling organization to a global phenomenon for over 50 years. Whether it be in-ring combat, to movies, to publications, WWE has taken a step forward into the future to deliver onto us the best value in entertainment.

Did it sacrifice its pro-wrestling roots? Not at all. I say WWE is all about sports AND entertainment…a very groovy time (thank you Austin Powers).

You can’t stay with the same formula year after year and expect beyond the stars results. You need to broaden, expand your horizons especially when you are a gifted visionary like Vince McMahon.

We have advanced so much in the last decades. The advent of the Internet, 3D movies, virtual magazines and games, all untapped resources that had to be exploited. America is a land of opportunity, so WWE moved forward and touched gold.

What about sports?

Triple H being helped out of the arena after being seriously injured in action.

If you watched WrestleMania XXVII this year you just had to notice how much the whole thing was grandiose. It was breath-taking really.  A long ramp with giant screens and a monumental cube floating above the ring straight are from the mind of a genius. I loved the setting. However, despite all this glamour, you needed the core players, the athletes that performed wonderful stunts and delivered magnificent performances all night long.

We have to remind ourselves and skeptics that this business should be seen as theater. It is not fake. The superstars and divas are athletic performers, wrestlers and talented individuals. These reasons alone account for WWE being a SPORTS company. It is not only about sports anymore but it the lasting legacy and its trademark.

The talents take risks, defy gravity and play out a strict role that enable them to make us “OOh!” “AHh!” and “OHh!” You cannot say to Evan Bourne he is not a great performer after seeing the “Shooting-Star press” or better yet, go tell Triple H he was faking when his quadriceps rolled up his leg. Sports are dangerous.

You need to have courage, determination and drive to make it out the curtain every time. Not only that, they do it for us because every jaw-dropping moment we experience has just made their job even more magical.

So it is entertainment?

Dave Bautista has made the transition from WWE to Hollywood, much like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Yes. For all that happens inside the ring it is like theater, but it doesn’t stop there. WWE has studios where they make movies. They publish books, appear on talk shows and give their time to charity events like “Make-A-Wish” foundation. I reiterate that it is a global phenomenon. So what can you do if a talent isn’t performing well in the ring? Have him or her playing a starring role in a movie or publish a cookbook for all I know.

The possibilities are endless and now nobody can say WWE is a wrestling company. It is beyond that. There was even a football and body-building division at one point. It failed. What do you do when you fail? Pick yourself up by your chackras and move forward with a fire that cannot be quenched.

There will always be that sport: in-ring wrestling action by the superstars and divas we love giving their all to entertain us, the millions worldwide watching. If you don’t like the wrestler, you can always watch the dancer or the chef or even the telethon host or famous movie star he or she has become. Take your pick, the phenomenon has spread to every corner of the extravagant and overwhelming world we live in.

Because you see…

That’s the power of WWE…without limits.

 

Dougie joined the team in October 2016.

The English El Classico by Dougie Critchley – Football Correspondent

I don’t care whether you support Chelsea, Manchester City or Arsenal, this Sunday it’s the English El Clasico the biggest game in English football.  The one everyone looks forward to worldwide, Manchester United vs Liverpool. 
I am incredibly excited, for the first time since 2009 we have both teams at the top end of the Premier League in direct competition for Champions League spots and maybe even the title. Oligarchs, Oil Tycoons, Sheikhs and even Chicken Factory owners have entered the Premier League with their endless pots of cash ready to spend their way to the top, however no teams can match the immense history and tradition steeped in both these sides. 

Jurgen Klopp is hoping that a win at Old Trafford will help his side push on with their title challenge.

Form wise, they look incredibly evenly matched. Manchester United after that sloppy start to the season have now gone unbeaten since October in the League. While Liverpool are becoming everyones second favourite team with their brand of high intensity, relentless, all out attacking football where players interchange at speed and at will. I am aware that Klopp vs Mourinho round 1 turned out to be the dampest of damp squibs, with a 0-0 result at Anfield, and Mourinho parking every bus he could find on the 34 mile stretch of the M62. But with United’s tails up, Pogba, Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan in irresistible form and Saido Mane at the Africa Cup of Nations, Matip and Coutinho not at full fitness, it seems like the perfect time for United to show their credentials. 

My prediction, 2-1 United, strap yourselves in people. 

 

Henners joined the Sports Team in Summer 2016

A preview to the F1 season 2017 by Henry Thomas-Aldridge – Sports Reporter

There are many changes for this year’s Formula One season! For the first time in over two decades, the reigning champion will not be racing and there are numerous changes to the rules to make this year’s Championship more competitive and more importantly, more attractive to watch. Around 2008, the popularity of Formula One in Britain increased massively because of the emergence of Lewis Hamilton’s success and only increased further because of Jenson Button’s miraculous Championship season in 2009. In my opinion, the sport is not as captivating as it once was, ever since Sebastian Vettel won by the huge margin of 122 points in 2011 and by a whopping 155 points two years later. Even I became slightly disinterested and did not watch every single race during the season, only really watching in 2012 because the Championship went right down to the wire.

 

Max Verstappen is arguably the most exciting driver in F1 right now but will he be able to mount a credible title challenge?

One thing that I noticed when talking to my friends was that crashes were extremely exciting, but only if the driver walked away, partnered with other thrilling moments like courageous overtakes. Ever since the 90s, F1 has worked tirelessly to increase driver safety but it appears that fans find the racing far more enjoyable when there isn’t much between the drivers, leading to more drama during races throughout the year. This is where the new rule changes come into play. The new rules appear to be designed to end the dominance of Mercedes. Larger cars with larger tyres are supposed to go between 2-5 seconds a lap faster.

There are a few concerns that the new cars may make overtaking more difficult but there is one thing that is certain, cornering speeds will be faster and the daredevils in this year’s Formula One season will aim to capitalise on their new-found speed in the corners. Hopefully it will make a better spectacle for the common viewer and with attacking drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, daring overtaking manoeuvres will become far more frequent. I for one enjoy watching attacking driving and brilliant overtakes, tracks like Spa in Belgium give the fans much to cheer about, but there is a difference between attacking driving and dangerous driving. Although the 1980s and 1990s were an amazing spectacle, it is almost certain that it’s a good thing that we criticise the cars for not being too close too the line. These drivers ultimately risk their lives for sport, it is sensible that the cars are no longer potential death traps. Formula One is a dangerous sport and because of new rules, we will hopefully never again have to witness tragic deaths akin to Jules Bianchi’s but will also be supplied with enthralling races for many seasons to come.

January 14th, 2017

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