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The Milan Derby & Tokyo Blogging Contest

Sat, 28 Oct 06

Well what a Milan Derby it was. AC Milan losing 4-3 at "home" to Internazionale. Inter went 3-0 up with goals from Crespo, Stankovic and Ibrahimovic, before Seedorf pulled one back. Materazzi then scored to make it 4-1, before Gilardino narrowed the gap to 2 with 15 minutes left to play, and then Kaka scored at the death to make it a tense finish. But Inter prevailed, and they deserved their victory. In a moment of controversy, Materazzi was sent off for a second bookable offence for "over-celebrating his goal". Now although Materazzi is one of the dirtier characters around, and has done enough in his career to be sent off a million times, giving him a second yellow card for this was very harsh. He didn't even take his shirt fully off, and you'd expect the referee to shown a little bit of understanding considering that it was such a big event.

On a side note, it's very disappointing that the guilty Italian sides have had their penalties reduced. Especially Juve, who have been cheating for years. They've only got caught recently, but they've been at it for very very long, and who knows how much of that success of theirs is legitimate. No backbone or courage has been shown in dealing with these teams, and it's an absolute let down. They should have been banned from Europe as well, but I think we all know now that FIFA and EUFA and everyone else is more interested in just worrying about the money and maintaining the status quo.

Teams like Inter and Roma have suffered for years, and I hope they really do well this season, because who knows what it will be like next year with Juve (probably) back in Serie A. Italian fans are amongst the most passionate in the world, and surely they should be creating more opposition to the spinelessness of the Italian FA and their pathetic attempts at dealing with match fixers. On the one hand we have billionaires like Roman Abramovich destroying the game by throwing money at everything, but you still hope that on any given day, the magic of football will prevail, and that anything could happen (and all the other cliches), because it's stil eleven versus eleven in a fair contest. But if you can't even guarantee the opposition being given a fair chance, then what is the point of it all?

Sigh. Well on a more upbeat note, we've enjoyed a very positive response to our first day or two of being up and running. Lots of visitors, and we hope there's lots more to come. If you're visting, Join up or leave us suggestions or comments. We'd love to have people on board and blogging with us, and getting involved in our community. AND, don't forget to enter our contest for you to go blog in Tokyo, it's a great opportunity to get involved with our organisation, and get involved with the world of football.

Posted by SM on Sat, 28 Oct 06
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The End Is The Beginning Is The End

Fri, 27 Oct 06

Or something like that.

Well what a day it is... I'm another year older and wiser (I wish), and the site has finally launched! Congratulations to everyone who put so much work in, and we hope this is the start of something very special. We're hoping to bring you unmatched features and content, and to really go a few levels above what the mainstream football sites have on offer, and we'd love to have your support and enthusiasm as the site builds and unfolds. And don't forget about our contest that gives 2 bloggers the chance to go to Tokyo, Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup this December. It's the first time that football bloggers will have the chance to be elevated to full press status for an event like this, and it's something that we're all very excited about, and we hope you are too. Just click the contest banner above this entry.

We hope that our blog network will cover the world (get in touch on the left hand panel if you'd like to blog for us), and that our European Super League fantasy game will really provide some of the best fantasy football entertainment on the web. And there's lots more to come, but we don't want to let out all of our secrets straight away though ;o)

As for this weekend's Premiership football, well the fixtures of note will be Liverpool v Aston Villa, Arsenal v Everton, and Bolton v Manchester United. I also think Charlton can cause an upset against Newcastle, and if West Ham mess up against Blackburn at home, changes could be underway.

Liverpool are struggling horribly, and with the quality (Alonso and Gerrard) they have, their struggle at the moment is inexplicable. Last season Arsenal struggled, but they had just lost Vieira and Edu, and only signed Hleb, and it took them a while to find their feet. But this season Liverpool have signed Kuyt, Bellamy, Pennant, Mark Gonzalez, Palletta, Agger and Fabio Aurelio, and not lose anyone of note, so their poor form really is a kick in the teeth to the management. I expect they'll find their way and manage to steer themselves into the top 4 much like Arsenal did last season, but really with them being the favourite to challenge Chelsea, their season is essentially already a disappointment.

As for Bolton v Manchester United, the Red Devils have always struggled against Bolton. They've lost twice at home to them, and drawn away on a few occasions, including when Solskjaer equalised in the last minute a few seasons ago. United's midfield, their traditional strength, have been poor this season, but Scholes and Carrick are slowly finding their form. However form books generally tend to go out the window as far as Bolton are concerned, because their no nonsense, kick-and-shove, long-ball approach often means that it's a battle more than a football match. It will be tough to score against Bolton, and if Anelka is up for it he could easily pinch a goal. Fat Sam and Sir Alex are good friends, and these games are generally good-natured encounters as a result.

Arsenal v Everton will be a tough game. Everton have finally showed some sort of consistency this season, and are very tough to breakdown, and quite physical. For Arsenal, this is a game in which Adebayor would be important to give them an option against Everton's direct approach, but he is injured for 3 weeks after going off early on in the Carling Cup. Forgotten man Jeremie Aliadiere should win a spot on the bench. Arsenal have been in good for home, and will be looking to continue it at home so they can turn Ashburton Grove into a real fortress. However, Everton games of late have shown quite polarised results - either they are on the end of a drubbing, or they pull of a 1-0 or 2-1 victory, but that is also due to their inconsistency which seems to have been eliminated this season. Theo Walcott is expect to make a start on the wings with the other attacking options of Ljungberg, Adebayor and Baptista still being injured. Everton are affected by the loss of David Weir for 3 weeks, but they have enough quality in Yobo and Lescott to make up for it. Fabregas will really have to take charge of what will be a very busy midfield, but with Rosicky and Hleb buzzing around him, expect a good midfield contest.

In Italy, the Milan derby will take on extra significance today. It's AC Milan v Inter Milan, and Inter really must win the Scudetto this year. AC Milan have been shamed, and very "lucky" to avoid relegation and larger points deduction, and Inter who've suffered so much over the years from dodgy refereeing decisions and not being one of the "big clubs" must really deliver a clear message with a convincing victory. Adriano's personal life is not helping anything, but with Crespo, Cruz, Ibrahimovic and company up front, they have arguably more quality than Gilardino, Inzaghi and Ricardo Oliveira.

The following day, Fiorentina take on Palermo at home in what should be an entertaining encounter. Luca Toni will come up against the club where he did so well, and both teams play positive football. Palermo will want to show their title credentials, and Fiorentina are still fighting to regain some credibility after their involvement in the match-fixing scandals. The Palermo chief rightly said that Serie A results were much more interesting now, and that it probably has a lot to do with Luciano Moggi no longer being able to handpick the referees, and Juventus rotting in Serie B.

Posted by SM on Fri, 27 Oct 06
Tags: Arsenal Liverpool Manchester United New Ideas Website Launch 

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2-1,1-2

Wed, 25 Oct 06

Well there were two exciting David vs Goliath games in the Carling Cup over the last few days.

First, on Tuesday, Alan Pardew's West Ham went down 2-1 away to Chesterfield, and then today at Gresty Road, Crewe Alexandra lost to an agonisingly late winner from Manchester United in the last minute of extra-time, 2-1 to the Red Devils.

Pardew's situation now becomes more precarious than ever before. Not only have his side just lost to a team two divisions below them, but by all accounts they played very very poorly. Marlon Harewood grabbed his early goal against the run of play, and Chesterfield were in control for large parts of the match and deserved their win. Pardew has very few excuses to fall back on at the moment, and even though he said after the loss to Tottenham that the Carling Cup game was a bit too soon for them, he has more than enough quality in his squad in players like Benayoun, Reo-Coker, Zamora, Harewood and even the aged Sheringham. There was speculation after the Hammers' recent wonderful form in the Premiership, that the addition of Tevez and Mascherano had disrupted the team, but neither was included in the squad against Chesterfield, and one would be hard pressed to find a way of explaining the loss. But well done to the Spireites!

As for Pardew, he's a good character, and really took West Ham far beyond people's expectations last season. Perhaps they are suffering somewhat from the burden of increased expectations this term, but with the murky signings of Tevez and Mascherano, and Kia Joorabchian's continued takeover attempts, there is probably a lot more going on behind the scenes that we don't know about. I would hope that he doesn't get sacked - West Ham are a good side, have a great fan base, and he's done very well for them. They play some good football, and managed to get results against some of the big teams last season, which is what a lot of teams aren't willing to try and do these days, dampening the whole competition of the Premiership. West Ham have previously had a very stable managerial history - just 6 managers in the last 42 years (and Glenn Roeder's time was cut short by illness), but the Premiership has turned into such a media circus of late, that I wouldn't be surprised to see Alan Pardew's position in some real jeopardy. They have a tough test facing them on Sunday against Blackburn, a team which they might have considered themselves to be equal to by the end of last season, and then an even tougher match against Arsene Wenger's Arsenal the following weekend, where I think a drubbing at the hands of the Gunners might truly signal the midst of a "crisis".

As for Crewe, well done to them, and condolences for a heartbreaking loss. United had some experienced players out there, and despite the results, I think the fans at Gresty Road will have enjoyed the contest and seeing their team do so well. A upset would have been a great reward for Dario Gradi and his commitment to the Alex and their youth program, but it was not to be - United youngster Kieran Lee scored his first senior goal in the 119th minute to give the longest serving manager in the Premiership, Alex Ferguson, a victory over the longest serving manager in the Football League. 20 years and 23 years respectively.

That's all for now! The site should officially be launching this Friday, the 27th of October (which is the same birthday as me, some coincidence that!), and as you can imagine we at OleOle are all very excited about the start of something that could be very, very big.

Posted by SM on Wed, 25 Oct 06
Tags: Manchester United Website Launch 

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Exciting Offers! (And a Roundup)

Tue, 24 Oct 06

Well, the site is progressing well, and part of this is a great contest that we are running to send the best bloggers that enter, to cover the Toyota Cup (World Club Competition) in Tokyo this December. It will be the usual mix of magicians and minnows, but with Barcelona, Club America of Mexico, and Brazil's Internacional in the mix, there should be some quality football on show. More details as things progress, but keep checking in if you think you have what it takes to write for us and go to Tokyo!

As for the football of late, well Arsenal were superlative in taking Reading apart over the weekend; 4-0 with goals from Henry, Hleb, Van Persie and Henry again. They could have had 5 or 6, with Rosicky in particular missing wide open goals on two occassions. Their football looks to be getting closer to where it was a couple of years ago, and it's just fantastic to watch, especially with Cesc Fabregas running the show the way he does. Remember that this Reading side drew 1-1 with Manchester United, and lost 1-0 to Chelsea to a horribly deflected goal from Frank Lampard which changed directions first off Ingimarsson and then Sonko before going in, and Kevin Doyle struck the inside of the post as well early on.

The great thing about Reading is that they're positive and they like to have a go. People wrote them off early on because of their lack of signings (and certainly if they manage to stave off relegation, it will affect them in their second season), but in a tough league like the Premiership it helps to have a unified group of players who have excellent teamwork, rather than a sprinkling of new "Premiership" signings who may or may not work out. Go with what you know. And recent years have also shown that playing positively is the way to beat relegation - Ipswich, Wigan and now Reading have all tried to play football and attack, and they've all done well as a result.

Liverpool continued their brililant form against Manchester United, losing 2-0, with goals from Scholes and Ferdinand. Ferdinand's goal was especially nice, showing fantastic touch to bring down a high ball with his right foot, before stroking it home with his left. Liverpool look completely disjointed of late. At the start of the season they were the ones expected to really step up and challenge Chelsea, but really the players they've brought in are not good enough. Dirk Kuyt is industrious, but limited, and Jermaine Pennant couldn't hack it at Arsenal and got relegated at Birmingham. Aurelio has looked decent, but not up to speed yet, and Bellamy is a good player, but in a team that struggles to score goals, he is not the answer. The jury is still out on Agger and Palletta, despite the former's wonder goal from a month ago. For the title race to be exciting, it's really crucial that the big teams show up and challenge each other, but Liverpool already look like they're too far behind. Playing 4-5-1, but leaving Crouch on the bench was inexplicable. As for Gerrard, well he is always trying to be a one-man team, and Liverpool often suffer as a result of that. Perhaps Chelsea might come knocking once again in the summer?

It's the Carling Cup today, and the most interesting of the matchups is Leicester vs Aston Villa, which for a change will probably be a quite good-natured Midlands derby given that it is Martin O'Neill's return. They have no small amount of love for him in Leicester where in his five years in charge he gave them top ten finishes in the Premiership every season, and a decent standard of football. O'Neill himself has tremendous affection for the club from his time there, and is looking forward to visiting the Walkers Stadium for the first time; under O'Neill they played at Filbert Street, but moved to their new home a few years after his departure.

Arsenal take on West Brom in the Carling Cup as well, and it should be a good test for the new Baggies manager Tony Mowbray after his fine start with a 3-0 win over Midlands rivals Wolves. It will be interesting as well, to see the next batch from the conveyor belt of young talent that keeps rolling out exciting times at Arsenal. The one to watch is the 18 year old Denilson, the Brazilian youth team captain who arrived from Sao Paulo this summer. Arsene Wenger himself said that he's an exciting player, who is a little bit Gilberto, and a little bit Rosicky; what a combination!

And last but not least, spare a thought for poor Javier Mascherano, who Jermain Defoe decided to take a bite out of. Khalid Boulahrouz was known as "Khalid the Cannibal" in his Hamburg days, but it seems like he will have to battle Defore for that title in the Premiership:





Posted by SM on Tue, 24 Oct 06
Tags: Arsenal New Ideas 

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Up & Running!

Tue, 17 Oct 06

Well the version 1.0 of OleOle is finally up and running, and is the start of what should be some very exciting times!

Give us a buzz if you're interested in writing for or representing your favourite club or league on the website.

Yesterday in the champions league... well, some very dodgy refereeing in the Arsenal vs CSKA Moscow game. Granted, Arsenal didn't show up to well in terms of overall play, but they were denied a brilliant (and perfectly legitimate) equaliser near the end for an alleged "handball" by Thierry Henry. I'm not sure why the referee called it, he wasn't in a good position at all to see it, and his response (the whistle and yellow card) was so quick that it seemed almost predetermined.



I've heard conflicting reports, but one said that the linesman flagged to show that it was a goal, and the referee ignored this. If anyone was in a position to see whether it was a goal, it was the linesman. Another strange factor was the lack of any replays. They showed umpteen slow motion shots of the CSKA attacker Dudu having his shots and headers blocked, but in this one defining incident of the match, the broadcasters failed to show anything other than a single slow motion of the original camera angle, when in fact there were angles available from the other side where the replays would have been far more telling. On Setanta Sports, in the post game show, the pundits were in the midst of discussing how bad of a refereeing decision it was, when the replay began. Then the host suddenly cut in, said goodbye, and they switched over to the Manchester United v FC Copenhagen game. FIFA trying to save face? Or Roman Abramovich's dodgy billions? Well either way, Thierry Henry was clearly unhappy...



Posted by SM on Tue, 17 Oct 06
Tags: Arsenal New Ideas Website Launch 

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