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So, yeah, Luis Suarez. There is no doubting his ability and his worth to the football team I love. BUT he can be a bit of a burden at times. Sorry, Luis. Ben, Liverpool. But one thing that stands out for me is how dominant the top two seem. Having said that, I thoroughly recommend topflight German football to all that are reading this.

Stephen Byrne's seasonal reviews. - The Pirate revisited

Patrick, Norwich. The highlights packages are great, of course, but the punditry in the studio afterwards is just dire. Marcus, London. Is the Bundesliga in danger of becoming a duoply? Gareth needs players like Sandro, Scott Parker and Moussa Dembele to win the ball for him and initiate attacks. Lastly, there are our strikers. We all know Spurs need a number nine to replace the disappointing Emmanuel Adebayor, as Jermain Defoe is quite injury prone.

Steve, Islington. We agree, Steve. We then leave the thread open for two weeks to see what delights await. If you squint really hard. Lee Bramley For more lookalike action, head over to our official Facebook page: www.


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Hot topic 23 29 Luckily for you, dear reader, we here at Academy have compiled a few intriguing facts and figures to help you decide for yourself. Tin hats at the ready! All facts and figures correct at the time of going to print, April Formed in as a youth team, Keroche have benefitted profusely from the goodwill of the people of Wearside and now their remarkable story is to be told in a feature film by three University of Sunderland students.

With not even a penny to their name, the African club were established with the aim of keeping young people from taking drugs and committing minor crimes. Since finding more about Keroche on the internet, a number of Wearside businessmen, including Gary Lamb, have donated money, kit and equipment.

In the end they sent nearly 10 to 15 crates. Some even play barefoot on hard, stony pitches devoid of grass. Everyone can join in. Because, although the University will allow us to take some equipment over, we want to step up the quality of gear that we take with us. This is all so that we can make the documentary as good as it can possibly be and do the story justice.

Completing another fundraising walk the following year, he racked up a further miles by marching from Wrexham up to York and then all the way down to Wembley Stadium. We caught up with him a week after the walk So Jez, tell us about this latest fund-raising walk It was a fundraiser but also a unique way of repaying the fans for their fantastic support by giving them an opportunity to own part of their football club.

So, how did it all go? It was horrible! I walked 26 miles on the Saturday night, had four hours kip and then walked 52 miles Sunday without sleep. The last 22 miles on Monday were really tough. But if the mind tells the body to do something it tends to follow. Somehow I got through it. Were there any particular highlights? Yeah, getting to the outskirts of Lincoln and seeing the stadium was pretty good, having limped around for eight hours on Monday and not walking very quickly.

How much training did you have to do in order to prepare for this? How much I did do versus how much I should have done are probably two different things! But there was nothing that could quite compare to the 26 miles and then the 52 miles the next day. This so intense that the job was only just done just in time.

So what has the reaction been like? I know the players have donated a bit of money Yeah and the fans have donated a lot. The fans have been tremendous. Are there any plans to do any more walks in the future? My ankles were twice the size and every little imbalance I found in my body was magnified. I was literally struggling to walk. Eventually I got the swelling down with lots of anti inflammatories, ice buckets and swimming — I was good as new! Well, Sam Bowen caught up with Cambridge United's former manager and current Director Of Football Jez George, who can say he's gone pretty far for his beloved U's, having now walked an incredible miles for the club.

Huge things were expected of him, as made evident by Mr. This was seven years ago and the Gunners, celebrating their last ever season at Highbury, were the holders of the FA Cup; their most recent major honour to date. The young lad in question, Theo James Walcott, kept a slight frame; thin and short, much like his hair. Joining one of the best clubs in the land just seemed the next natural step in his career. He was still a boy then — the most. Leaving Highbury for the grandeur of the Emirates Stadium that awaited them just down the road would strike a curse on what was a great Arsenal team.

A team with high hopes of possibly conquering Europe in a brand new 70, all-seater temple. It turned out to be a false dawn. Well, at least, it has thus far. Theo Walcott, on the other hand, admitted that day, beaming. This was a team that would go on to be denied, rather cruelly, by Barcelona in the Champions Issue One 25 May Having said that, he is often described as a player who does not have a footballing brain and his critics have, over the years, targeted a whole host of things.

Every player on the face of the planet has his detractors but few divide opinion quite as drastically as Theo. Search any forum or any Twitter page and you will surely find both sides of the argument. Some will say he needs to come inside and play as a centre forward, others will disagree. But this season, without Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas — and, to a certain extent, without Jack Wilshere either — Walcott has thrived.

Or maybe, just maybe, Walcott benefitted from a Wayne Rooneyesque contract furore earlier in the season. It was tough through the negotiations.

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For a while it almost looked inevitable that he would leave, becoming the latest in a string of top names that have moved on to pastures new. After Cesc Fabregas left for warmer climes in , he almost immediately had his hands on silverware. Samir Nasri was another, departing the Emirates for Manchester City in the same year and winning the Premier League title just a year later.

Robin van Persie is the latest in this trend and it looks like he too will have a Premier League winners medal at the end of the season. So can you really blame Walcott for wanting out? During negotiations, one of the points that appeared to be slowing the progress was his wish to feature in a more central role on the pitch. He has been a chance there, but a couple of average performances in the central attacking position have left Arsene Wenger unconvinced that he is capable of doing a better Left-winger, right-winger or centre-forward?

Surely only Theo can know the answer? Dejected: Theo cuts a glum figure on the Emirates Stadium turf during a draw. Issue One 27 May job than the woefully out of form Lukas Podolski. Dominating possession and pinning the opposition into their own half is the preferred method chosen by Arsene Wenger and this system is useless for a striker who lacks the technical ability and strength to hold the ball up and trouble opposition defenders. The man himself has always said he can and will play anywhere. I actually started out as a goalkeeper but got so bored and frustrated seeing all the other lads scoring goals and having all the fun that I decided to come out on pitch.

He is more mature in his finishing. When he arrived [from Southampton], in front of goal the ball could go anywhere. His 31 caps for England speak for themselves and he has matured as a result of his experiences with the nation team. But, despite all the attention, Walcott has always maintained a professional and disciplined character. He was really Iactuallystartedoutasa goalkeeperbutgot soboredandfrustratedseeingalltheother ladsscoringgoalsandhavingallthefun. Theo puts pen to paper to seal a threeand-a-half year contract.

Forever maturing as a person, it seems the young winger is now a staple of the England set-up and will be a part of the national team for many years to come. It was a performance that harked back to , when he set the world alight with an incredible hat trick against Croatia. This is what Theo Walcott is like at his very peak; fast, agile and devastating. Was signing the contract he quibbled over for many weeks actually the right decision for Theo?

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If he had accepted a move elsewhere he may have guaranteed himself Champions League football next season — something still very much in the balance for Arsenal. With that, he would be playing for trophies, too, something Arsenal promise but have failed to deliver for nearly a decade now.

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He is having his best season in an Arsenal shirt, yes. And the facts and figures back that up, too. But there may well be more question marks that ever looming over that balanced head of his. If the Gunners do miss out on the Champions League, Walcott may well be questioning his decision to stay with his beloved Arsenal.

Even if the club do finish in the top four, it will be next season that really determines whether Theo really has made the right decision or not. The year-old is still yet to win a trophy in his career. The Gunners will need to spend big this summer, this much is evident. Helooked fast,skillful andutterly devastating.

Issue One 33 May We here at Academy have always wondered how football stadiums just rise up out of the ground. What happens at this very first stage? In sport there are many different types of organizations that might want to build a stadium; governments, sporting associations, clubs and even individuals. But that does mean that you never get the same thing twice. Am I right in thinking that is the first stage of the process for you? It would tend to be. Again, it varies very much. But again, these competitions vary in type.

You were project director, in charge of the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium — so how were you approached for that job? Wembley had been thinking for a while — and the government and FA agreed — that Wembley Stadium needed upgrading and updating. So, for some years they had been looking their options. But finally the lottery fund put in some money, which became the seeds of complete development. The FA then approached different architects. The competition, in this case, was purely an interview.

They selected us with Fosters. Was it at that point that you started sketching designs? When we were appointed we then started designing. There was an outline of a brief that we wrote talking about numbers of seats, pitch grown in place, convertibility for athletics, usability for rugby and concerts, plus as much money-making items attached to it as possible. So you come up with ides based on that.

Then there are a few options that we discuss with the client and we see which ones they prefer and which ones are within their budget and all that sort of stuff. Finally, you zero in on a final design. The arch has a very important role of course — it holds the roof in place — but it is also very iconic. Was the idea something that was always planned or did it comes as a flash of inspiration? Well, there is much controversy over who came up with the idea for the arch. Originally, when we were doing the original sketch designs, we had drawn out plans for a series of masts.

They had problems associated with them in terms of the space they took up on the site. That sort of stuff. So we rethought that. Out of various discussions between the architects and engineers came the idea for the arch. What can we do here? And obviously a very good engineer is going to be key to that type of discussions. Wembley has an enormous number of restaurants and hospitality spaces attached to the Club Tier and the other tiers.

It can host 10, people for seated meals on a matchday. But, for a Champions League final you do need that kind of hospitality. In other venues, people are out in tents in the car park but at Wembley they can host all that stuff inside. I think that makes for a very pleasant experience for the people at the Champions League final. Back to the process then. Budget is very important. We have to make sure at every stage of the process, our ideas are within the budget the client has. Anyone for a prawn sandwich? Stadiums are big public buildings so the paperwork tends to be very hefty.

Some clients need to borrow money. They certainly did for Wembley! Yes, the client is the captain of the ship and underneath that you have operations people, security people, the fire brigade, police, the caterers — who are very important people — maintenance people. Everyone has an opinion and they have their input into the design.

All these people need to be consulted and kept happy with what we come up with. They end up getting quite involved, as stadiums are quite complicated buildings. What are the most challenging aspects of your job and what do you find most fun about what you do? The job we do is problem solving and all of it is a problem. It was more to do with the builders. But what was the most challenging part? In your experience, have your clients always been quite co-operative? So, yes, some clients are easier to get on with that others.

Some respond more than others. You have to be adaptable and polite to make sure that you — whoever they are — you get on with them well enough to get the job done. In that case, can you remember any notably good or bad experiences with clients? Any times a client has been particularly uncooperative? Well, Ken Bates is pretty hard to get on with on Wembley. But, I would say, in the end, it was Ken Bates that got Wembley going because he had the strength of character to blast through the nonsense.

And that character on Wembley was Ken Bates at the beginning. He had the strength of character to get stuff done. He got the project moving. So, when construction begins, what kind of role are you taking on? Sorting out changes, sorting out construction on site. A lot of work goes into assisting the contractor with putting stuff together.

There are still things that need to be chosen, right up to the last night. For example, when you might be choosing different types of seats quite late in the process. You might have lots of different discussions with clients about the best options for stuff like that. What colours do they want, those types of thing. That can happen right up to the last minute some times. Then at the end of construction you need to sign the building off and check everything.

If you go onto the French rugby website www. Well, congratulations! Thank you! Just going back to Wembley again, you say you worked on it for nine years; when it finally starts to take shape and come to life in front of you, what does that feel like? A little bit of both, really. You do like to see the building coming together and seeing people play football in it and all that sort of stuff. But, as things develop you do start to see some problems and you think about the things you might have done differently.

I wish put that there and I done that there. What kind of modern problems do architects and designers face these days? New designs have come along. New technologies have come along. The social position of stadiums has changed a bit. So, definitely, the world of stadiums is continuing to change. Ideas are moving on a pace.

Things like sponsorship, is changing as well. Sponsors like to get a bit more involved as well. In the way they put across their products. So lots of different strands of change. People are starting to expect more, too. Why should people put up with the stadiums of old. The game is staying the same, but how you view the match and what goes on around that are moving on at a great rate. Keeping up with it is another thing. What do you make of the West Ham situation and what do you make of the complaints about the running track negatively impacting viewing of football?

Well, the thing here is working on the conversion of the stadium for the purpose of configuration. There will still be athletics events on there. The planning application for the conversion will be submitted in a couple of months. Ben, thank you for your time and best of luck with the Grande Stade! Thank you very much. Fresh from Diego Corner, Luke Moore spent some time answering our questions From pretty humble origins, The Ramble has come a long way.

When you started off, did you see it coming this far? Podcasts, blogs and things like that. We went from there, really. It was only when it started to become popular that we adjusted ourselves accordingly. I get the impression now that people start things up for instant success and want you to give them a leg up. I think the first month we did our show we got about 10 downloads! You want to get comfortable with your own voice, your own ideas and be yourself, rather than trying to ape anyone else.

When you were starting out, did it help to think no one was listening? Well, nowadays we have to think very carefully about the things we say. For the first few shows — and maybe even for the first few years — we were free to do whatever we wanted. Other people invest a lot of time into listening to it and they care about it, so we have to really think before we introduce new things or decide not to do things.

I would never change that. But it does change the dynamic of how you go about what you do. You mentioned there being more football media about nowadays, why do you think the Ramble sticks out as one of the more popular shows? How did it all begin for the Ramble? How did you meet? He played for the thirds and I played for the seconds in the Uni football team and we met on a social thing on a Wednesday night. Make sure. I met him through that. We replaced the first Chris with Jim and the second with Pete. Take me through a typical Ramble recording. What goes on behind the scenes?

Then we sit down and go through the running order really quickly. Then spend about 45 minutes watching videos on YouTube — cats falling off mantelpieces… Like, a big game before a recording. Before, we were recording in a proper commercial studio so there were time constraints and it cost a lot of money sometimes.

But yeah, we just get together; chat, laugh, have a bit of food suggest you do something else. What advice would you give to people who want to start a podcast? All I do is say what I think about football once a week. I think so — but that could go for any club. So it makes sense on a logical level more than maybe — like I say, we mess around for ages.

I think we do have a lot of other things in common. A lot of podcasters put in lots of effort and make little to no money. Do you ever feel that way with the Ramble? I guess it depends on your motivations for doing it. But Portsmouth is a funny one. If that happens, Pompey will be in trouble. The only problem is, it depends what kind of fans they are and how many are involved. But they can be a good influence. If you could pick any song for Pompey to run out to, what would it be? Still on the subject of music at football, is goal celebration music a no-no with you, as it is with many other fans?

I can understand that it ticks off a lot of people because fans themselves should create the atmosphere and most groups of them are perfectly capable of being able to do that. And when you factor in that the main reason many people go to football is to see goals, it steals the moment from them and makes it sort of unnatural in a way.

So yeah, it annoys me a little bit. There are other things that are more pressing! He tells you that you can go back in time and watch just one match from the past. Which game do you go to? It changes day-to-day but I think at the moment I would go back to when Hungary beat England at Wembley in The world is much smaller these days and there are fewer surprises. I would have loved to see the United v Benfica European Cup final. I would have loved to see Best play.

Nice choice. Had any more thoughts on that entrance music? They already play sea shanty music at Fratton Park! Other than that, anything to do with generally having no money. Maybe Bank Robber band, something like that. Messi or Ronaldo? Zlatan or Mario? Gigi Becali or El Diego?

I can believe that. Club or country? IfIcouldgobackintimeandwatchanygameIwould gobacktowhenhungarybeatEnglandin What I do think is important is that people have the choice. I think you can have safe standing areas; if you police it properly, it can work. But the choice would be great. Thing is, if you asked He dropped it.

He had to pick one up to fulfil the contract and he broke it by accident. Another quick-fire for you: if you could have dinner with anyone in football right now, who would it be? Do you have any big plans?


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  • I dunno, really. Lovejoy did Soccer AM for 12 years and is known for little else. Especially in those comfy seats you get at Wembley when you go do work there. Well… maybe not, no. So, at half time do you pop off for a pint or are you more of a programme quiz sort of guy?

    To A Match of 42 May www. Email us At Subscriptions academymag. All this at your front door Issue One 47 May 46 May www. The only way to get Score! We strongly suggest you choose the former. With all that extra cash you can head down to the bookies and lump on a team accumulator. Or just buy yourself a pint at the pub. Handy for those squeakybum-time weeks leading up to student loan day. Trial offers are limited to two trials per title within a month period and we reserve the right to refuse any orders over this limit.

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    You can opt-out at any time by emailing the datacontroller academymag. Leaving Highbury for the grandeur of the Emirates Stadium that waited for them just down the road, would strike a curse on what was a great Arsenal team with hopes of conquering Europe in their new 70, all-seater temple. It turned out to be a false dawn; at least, it has so far.

    Theo Walcott, on the other hand, did not. However you judge the admitted that day, beaming. This was a team that would go on to be denied, rather cruelly, by Barcelona in the Champions Issue One 25 May 24 May www. Joining one of the best clubs in the land just seemed next natural step in his career.