Category Archives: Football

Australian Josh Cavallo becomes first openly gay male footballer

Australian midfielder Josh Cavallo has come out as homosexual, making him the first male professional gay footballer.

In a landmark moment for the men’s game, Cavallo made the announcement publicly for the first time on social media.

The 21-year-old released a statement on his official Twitter account and said he was hopeful that by being first, he would encourage others that were ‘hiding’ to come out and be themselves.

Cavallo is a midfielder for the Adelaide Jets and released the statement after stating that he had been living a “double life” and “fighting his sexuality for six years”.

His full statement read;

Today, I’m ready to speak about something personal that I’m finally comfortable to talk about in my life.

I am proud to publicly announce that I am gay.

It’s been a journey to get to this point in my life, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come out. I have been fighting my sexuality for over six years now, and I’m glad I can put that to rest.

For the people that know me personally, you’ll know I’m a private person. Growing up, I always felt the need to hide myself because I was ashamed. Ashamed I would never be able to do what I loved and be gay. Hiding who I truly am, to pursue a dream I always wished for as a kid, to play football and be treated equally never felt like a reality.

Being a gay closeted footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer. Growing up being gay and playing football were just two worlds that hadn’t crossed paths before. I’ve lived my life assuming that this was a topic never to be spoken about.

In football, you only have a small window to achieve greatness, and coming out publicly may have a negative impact on a career. As a gay footballer, I know there are other players living in silence. I want to help change this, to show that everyone is welcome in the game of football, and deserves the right to be their authentic self.

It is astonishing to know that there are currently no gay professional footballers who are out and actively playing, not only in Australia, but around the world. Hopefully this will change in the near future. I hope that in sharing who I am, I can show others who identify as LGBTQ+ that they are welcome in the football community. As the game of football keeps expanding, I want to help evolve the game even further, and let other players in my situation feel that they’re not alone.

Those who already knew this about me have met me with love and support every step of the way. I’m incredibly thankful for this support. To my family and friends – thank you, especially Tommy and David for making it possible for me to proudly and publicly say I’m gay.

To my Adelaide United family, thank you for greeting me with the utmost respect and acceptance. I’m incredibly grateful.

Happy Pride and GO UNITED!”

A true landmark moment for the men’s game. Well done Josh!

Newcastle looking to bring in two huge names following takeover

Newcastle United are keen to bring in both Erik Ten Haag and Ousmane Dembele as they look to make a statement following their takeover.

The Magpies were bought by the Saudi Arabian government last month unofficially, but have now got almost unlimited funds to spend over the next several years to become a major force in football.

After sacking manager Steve Bruce last week, the club have now turned their attentions to incomings and reports are suggesting that there are two huge names they are eyeing up.

According to several reports the new owners are targeting current Ajax boss Erik Ten Haag as their new manager and are willing to offer him £6million-per-year after tax to get him to join the club.

The Dutch boss has overseen a renaissance at the Amsterdam club following their Champions League run a few years ago and they are now back to their free-flowing best, with youngsters shining and lots of goals being scored.

That is something that is appealing to the north-east club, but Ten Haag is reportedly not sold on the idea. He has also been linked with the Manchester United job, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer get the sack after the recent poor run of results.

The amount of cash available in the transfer market could potentially convince him though, especially with the news that Newcastle are planning to splash the cash on trying to persuade Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele to join.

Ousmane Dembele of FC Barcelona waves the fans prior to the Joan Gamper Trophy match between FC Barcelona and Juventus at Estadi Johan Cruyff on...

The French winger joined the Catalan giants in a €145m deal back in August 2017 as Neymar’s replacement after he joined Paris Saint-Germain.

However a string of injury problems and attitude issues in training have seen him fail to really live up to expectations and the club and he is currently in the final year of his contract.

Barcelona are desperate to re-sign him to a new deal but Dembele is reportedly unsure about signing after a lack of game time, leaving Newcastle to believe they could swoop in and bring him to the Premier League.

Newcastle fans are excited and the Premier League is waiting to see what they do first. January is only around the corner, so not long to wait now.

Brentford goalkeeper David Raya ruled out for five months with knee injury

Brentford’s survival hopes have been dealt a huge blow after goalkeeper David Raya was ruled out for five months with a knee injury.

The Spaniard was hurt in a collision with Leicester City forward Ayoze Perez during Sunday’s 2-1 defeat against the Foxes.

The goalkeeper was able to finish the game as James Maddison scored a late winner at the Brentford Community Stadium but the club have now confirmed he will be out of action for a while.

In a statement released by the club on Tuesday evening, the club confirmed the 26-year-old suffered the injury as he rushed at the feet of Perez late on to make a save.

The club’s head of medical Neil Greig said of the injury;

“David has unfortunately sustained an injury to the Posterior Cruciate Ligament in his left knee. The issue will require a prolonged period of time to heal and for David to then regain function and strength around the joint.

Ayoze Perez of Leicester City collides with David Raya of Brentford during the Premier League match between Brentford and Leicester City at Brentford...

“Positively, this type of injury usually heals well without the need for surgery. David has already begun using a brace specifically designed to aid this process. We anticipate the recovery period for an injury like this to be somewhere between four and five months, which will enable David to be back to his previous high levels well before the end of the season.”

Raya had been enjoying a fine start to the campaign, conceding just nine goals in the first nine games of the season as a newly promoted side as Brentford earned three wins and three draws from those games. He kept three clean sheets also.

Brentford currently sit in 12th place in the Premier League in their first season in England’s top flight.

Barcelona to play Boca Juniors in first ever ‘Maradona Cup’ match

Barcelona and Boca Juniors will face off against each other in the inaugral Diego Maradona Cup match in the legendary forward’s honour.

Maradona, who passed away on November 25th 2020 after years of troubles with substance abuse and alcoholism, was regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all-time.

He represented six club sides during his illustrious career, including two spells with the Argentine club and two seasons with the Catalan giants.

Now almost a year after his passing the two clubs announced that they will face off against each other in a one-off encounter on December 14th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in his honour.

Barcelona announced the fixture in a statement on the official club website, which read;

“On December 14, FC Barcelona and Club Atlético Boca Juniors will be meeting in what is being called the Maradona Cup, a friendly to honour the memory of the great Diego Armando Maradona just over a year after his death.

“The venue is Mrsool Park, in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, which holds 25,000 spectators. Barça and Boca are, of course, two of the clubs that enjoyed the services of Maradona, regarded as one of the greatest players ever to grace the game, who passed away last 25 November 2020. The game will be screened both on Barça TV and via the club’s Barça TV+ streaming service (also on-demand).

The two sides previously met in the 2018 Joan Camper Cup final, a pre-season friendly hosted by Barcelona. The La Liga side came out 3-0 winners on that occasion thanks to goals from Malcolm, Lionel Messi and Rafinha.

Since Maradona passed away he has also been honoured by another former side Napoli, who renamed their stadium “Diego Maradona Armando Stadium” in his honour following his sudden death.

Why Antonio Conte isn’t a good fit for the Manchester United job

If one thing is sure right now at Manchester United, it’s that there needs to be a change of manager as soon as possible.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is, as of this writing, currently still the manager at Old Trafford despite the embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.

But there are reports doing the rounds now that the club hierarchy are considering his position as manager of the club, and some even state that Antonio Conte has been included on the shortlist of potential replacements.

Now lets get this clear, Conte would 100 per cent be an upgrade on Solskjaer.

He is a brilliant coach, with a track record for success at club level and even internationally with Italy where he kickstarted the journey that has led to them becoming European champions under Roberto Mancini.

He led Juventus to three successive Serie A titles before leaving after a fall-out with the board. He took Italy to the quarter-finals with wins over number 1 ranked Belgium and reigning champions Spain, before a penalty-shootout defeat to Germany at Euro 2016.

He then came to the Premier League with Chelsea and won the Premier League in his first season, before winning the FA Cup the following year and leaving following another bust up with the board.

Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea poses with the Premier League Trophy after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford...

Then at Inter Milan, he missed out on the Serie A title by just one point in his first season before then waltzing to the club’s first championship since the days of Jose Mourinho in 2011. He left Inter in the summer after the club informed him of their plans to sell a key player to make money.

There is no doubting his ability to coach, but one thing all those teams have in common in addition to their success is the profile of the squad and the players he brought in. It goes totally against what Manchester United currently have and have been doing in the market.

Conte is a big advocate of a three-at-the-back formation and the truth is that United’s defenders aren’t good. So it’s a positive that they’d get extra help, but United don’t have great full-backs either.

United’s biggest strength is their wingers and attackers, who play at pace and are all a great goal threat. So limiting the amount of attackers that can play in the team because of the need for an extra defender seems counter productive to the team.

Inter Milan's Italian coach Antonio Conte reacts during the UEFA Champions League first round first leg, group B, football match between Inter Milan...

Conte is also an incredibly opinionated manager which would be great for fans who are sick of the board making footballing decisions based on no experience. However despite that, the likelihood of the Glazers appointing a manager at this stage who won’t support them publicly is unlikely.

Add to that the fact that Conte would require further huge investment in a squad to overhaul it to fit in with his style and moniker, before likely leaving a couple of years later after a bust up with the board then it makes you question whether it’s worth risking a Jose Mourinho v2 appointment.

Another big concern of mine is his tendency not to use young players. While at Chelsea he had access to one of the best academies in the land and yet opted to experienced signings and shuffling players into new positions.

Players like Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho are in the first-team currently but could find their position under threat or forced to perform roles that are far from their best.

Manchester United's English striker Mason Greenwood celebrates scoring the opening goal with Manchester United's English striker Jadon Sancho during...

Youngsters such as Hannibal Mejbri, Shola Shoretire, Anthony Elanga, Teden Mengi, James Garner and Ethan Galbraith could quickly find their path to the first-team blocked and United would be throwing away bags of talent.

The best way for United to ensure a successful appointment for their next manager is to decide on a playing style and personality type they want in charge and then appoint based on that. Not pick a big name or pick someone who doesn’t align with those processes.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich will appoint a nobody so long as they align with the thoughts of the board, because they’re not scared to wave the axe if necessary.

If Manchester United want to be considered a top club again, then they need to start acting like one. All this talk of ‘United DNA’ or ‘the United way of playing’ is nonsense if you don’t appoint staff that adhere to it.

Ole tried and failed. Conte wouldn’t even try, just like Mourinho didn’t. That’s not what the club needs and why United should stay away from Conte.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must go after 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool

It was arguably the most embarrassing performance in Manchester United’s Premier League history on Sunday, as Liverpool came to Old Trafford and thumped them 5-0.

A hat-trick from Mo Salah and goals from Naby Keita and Diogo Jota put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to the sword, as Jurgen Klopp’s men rushed to a 4-0 lead at half-time.

Salah added a fifth just after the break to round-up his monumental day, before substitute Paul Pogba was sent off for a two-footed tackle on Keita.

It was a straight up humiliation from United’s fiercest rivals as they came to town and cut through the Reds defence like a hot knife through butter.

United adopted that strange high-but-not-so-high press with a low block midfield and defence, meaning there was about 40 yards of space for the Liverpool defence to play into the halfway line and then be right at the team.

It was the exact same approach that has seen United win just three of their last nine games, getting cut open constantly because there is no shape or structure to the team.

Paul Scholes warned the team following the midweek 3-2 comeback win against Atalanta.

Do that against Liverpool and see what happens. The game will be gone.”

He was absolutely spot on. The game was over inside half an hour and United were completely helpless to stop anything.

It’s as clear as day now that Solskjaer has hit his ceiling with the job. He did a great job in rebuilding the squad, bringing in top talent, getting rid of deadwood and improving the morale of the squad after a torrid few years.

But now, when it comes to making the step up to becoming contenders and competing with Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Thomas Tuchel and the like, he isn’t and never will be up for it.

Any top side would react to a run of three wins in nine games, especially with the manner of the performances and a thumping to your most fierce rivals at home with a change.

Manchester United like to push the narrative that they’re still a top club, so they need to act.

If they don’t, it summarises where they are as a club. Mediocrity is a term thrown around quite a lot in football, but with one title in the last decade and no trophy for almost five years now United are entering that territory.

Not sacking Solskjaer now sends a message out that the current form and performances are acceptable, which would just confirm to all that the club aren’t interested in success on the pitch anymore.

The squad is strong enough that there is still time to save this season if action is taken quickly, but contrary to what Solskjaer said yesterday it can still get worse.

Arsenal Women are a force to be reckoned with and serious title contenders

Last season Arsenal fell below their usual standards and found themselves uncharacteristically in a battle for the third and final Champions League spot with the ever-improving Manchester United.

However this summer the club had arguably it’s best transfer in recent history and that has resulted in them having both an elite first and second-string team.

Their supreme transfer window is just one of many reasons why they’re currently looking so dangerous; coupled with their managerial change, squad depth, and debatably the presence of one of the world’s best midfielders – Kim Little.

Don’t be mistaken, Arsenal already had an extremely good squad filled with internationals prior to this window. Their spine has been secure and for the past few years and they found a way to dominate teams due to their great balance of physical and technical ability.

Most notably, there always seemed to be an overload in midfield from Arsenal which was often hard for the opposition to deal with.

This summer they lost key members of their midfield in Jill Roord and Danielle Van De Donk. However, their response to this has been a mark of title contenders.

The combination of midfield signings that they made speaks volumes about both the short and long-term goals of the club.

Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord of Arsenal during the Arsenal Women's training session at Arsenal Academy on March 25, 2021 in Walthamstow,...

The signing of Norway starlet Frieda Maanum, who is still only 22 and has already shown such great maturity in her play, as well as Japanese international star Mana Iwabuchi who already took the WSL by storm last season after her short stint at Aston Villa.

In those two, they’ve added dynamic midfielders who not only replace the skills lost but add a different direction of balance for the team going forward long-term.

This alongside with the singings of Tobin Heath and Nikita Parris who also bring experience and tenacity in the forward areas has given Arsenal another dimension to dominate this season and really compete for the title at the end of it.

Heath recently referred to the Scottish magician Kim Little as ‘the best player she has ever played with’ – which is an extremely high compliment coming from one of the most decorated athletes in the sport.

Kim Little of Arsenal before the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona and Arsenal WFC at Estadi Johan Cruyff on October...

Nonetheless, this seems like a fitting method of expression for the midfielder who seems to have no major flaw. Her understanding of the game is evident on the pitch, both regarding the spaces she picks up and also her anticipation of her movement as well as her teammates.

The best way to describe Little (outside of her small stature), is controlled. Everything she does in midfield seems to be completely intentional and calculated, whether that be providing the final ball or driving with the ball to free up space for other attackers.

Her presence gives the team stability and a clear tactical-nous – which is a major reason why head coach Jonas Eidevall has consistently relied on her. Her game intelligence has aided him so much in his adaptation period to the club because she is able to pick up the team’s game-plan with ease, allowing him to focus on the finer details when preparing.

Little’s capabilities have also meant that she has undertaken numerous roles in the midfield this year – more recently closer to the goalscorer as seen against Everton, and Little’s versatility and ability have proven pivotal to the team as they have dominated every team in the league so far.

Arsenal Women Head Coach Jonas Eidevall during the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between Arsenal WFC and 1899 Hoffenheim at Meadow Park...

Having the stability that Little provides has also given Arsenal a basis to build their attacks outside of wing-play which has given them another dimension, which could prove decisive come the end of the season.

Finally, the managerial change could be another turning point towards Arsenal reclaiming the league that they last won in the 2018-19 season.

Following the departure of Joe Montemurro, the club replaced him with Eidevall who was previously at Champions League club FC Rosengard.

He has already boasted huge victories against both Chelsea and Man City so far this season, but what has garnered the most attention is his ability to be tactically perceptive – both of opponents and formation shapes.

He also has figured out how to best utilise his squad, even in abstract ways. We have seen him go into depth about how he views the importance of formation shapes and being able to change this formation mid-game.

Kim Little of Arsenal Women celebrates scoring her teams first goal during the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between Arsenal WFC and...

His ability to rotate to do this shows that the club is already well drilled in how he wants to play, despite not being at the club for long. This bodes well for not only his ability to play against the rest of the league but more importantly his aptitude for going toe-to-toe with the other title challengers.

All in all, Arsenal’s early form is giving more excitement and buzz to fans of the sport as well as neutrals who just enjoy watching good football. Last season, we saw a title race that went down to the final day, and if Arsenal keeps up this early form, we could see the same happen again.

Vinicius Jr is having his Real Madrid breakthrough

A little bit under a year ago, Vinicius was in the headlines at Real Madrid for all the wrong reasons.

During a Champions League group game against Borussia Moenchengladbach while 1-0 down at half-time, Vinicius had been struggling.

Then the cameras picked up Karim Benzema telling Ferland Mendy not to pass him the ball because he was “playing against us” and all hell broke loose.

Benzema was forced to apologise publicly, while Vinicius’ form and confidence took a hit in the Madrid side that eventually finished as runners-up in La Liga and were eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals.

Zinedine Zidane left and Carlo Ancelotti came in and now fast forward to today, a year on from that incident, and Vinicius has grown into one of the most important members of the Real Madrid attack.

With seven goals and three assists in 11 appearances this season, he’s become far more productive than he has been in previous seasons. But his influence on the team is growing too.

He has become the regular starter on the left wing ahead of big money man Eden Hazard and his relationship with Benzema has improved to the point where they are both having the best start to a season they have ever had.

It’s a breakthrough campaign for the Brazilian, who is now into his fourth season at the Bernabeu despite only being 21-years-old.

He has already surpassed his goal tally for every other season at the club before Novemeber and with Hazard’s future at the club in doubt, he is making the spot his own.

From the depths of ‘Binicius’ and his own teammates not wanting to give him the ball, he’s now the go-to man along with Benzema and with the fans backing him the sky is the limit.

Streets Won’t Forget – Adel Taarabt

In every generation of football there is a selection of players that while they may not see the greatest level of success, are never forgotten by the fans.

These players are usually the ones that kept the fans on the edge of their seats during games, provided memorable moments and played the beautiful game in a beautiful way.

This series is dedicated to celebrating those players and giving them their flowers now, before they fade into the distance and it’s too late.

Arguably the first player that comes to mind in the English game with that description is former QPR and Tottenham playmaker Adel Taarabt.

The Moroccan currently plies his trade at Benfica at the Estadio Da Luz as a deep lying playmaker, with a far more conservative style. But the player that many remember earlier in his career was breathtaking.

Joining Tottenham as a 17-year-old, Taarabt was seen as a star of the future at the club. But a falling out with manager Juande Ramos meant he was excluded from the squad and training ground for a short period of time.

He was allowed back in after Harry Redknapp took over, but after limited playing time he joined Queens Park Rangers on loan for an initial three-month period. A knee injury cut the spell short, but he re-joined the following season for the full campaign.

In that season, he performed really well and earned himself a permanent move to the club where he then became a household name and a player capable of viral moments and match-winning performances.

His first season after signing the permanent deal was stunning. He racked up 19 goals and 21 assists in 44 appearances in the Championship, but it was the style in which he did things that was even more impressive.

The cheeky nutmegs, the mazy dribbles, the stunning passes, the ability to put defenders on their bum and the willingness to carry the entire load on his back for a team chasing promotion.

Some of the greatest individual goals in the Premier League in that time were scored by Taarabt too.

His wonder goal against Fulham will forever be remembered not only by QPR fans, but by football fans.

He collected the ball on the half way line, before forcing a nutmeg through Brede Hangelaand’s legs. He then ran straight through the heart of the Fulham defence with feints, before a delicate ball roll and a shot with the outside of his right boot which never left the ground but curled into the far corner.

That wasn’t even his best. Down in the Championship against Preston during his brilliant QPR season, Taarabt received the ball from a teammate out wide.

He did a fancy trick pass before receiving the ball back from him. He’s then fronted by a defender who he casually nutmegs with ease, leaving the defender walking off in embarrassment and his teammate putting his head in his hands.

Taarabt then takes the ball another stride and curls a strike into the far corner, that can’t be kept out by the goalkeeper’s hand he gets to it. It’s a sensational strike and just typifies what he was about as a player during that moment of his career.

If you ever get bored or have some time to kill, just go on YouTube and watch highlights. You will be entertained for hours and ultimately, that’s what football is all about.

History may forget him one day, but the streets never will.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must be brave in team selection against Atalanta

Manchester United play host to Serie A’s free-scoring machines Atalanta in the Champions League group stages tonight knowing that they must win to put their future in the tournament back in their hands.

After an opening day defeat to Young Boys and an injury-time win over Villarreal so far, United come into this game in third place in the group with Atalanta yet to taste defeat in their two games.

But for United, their form is horrible. Two wins in seven games, with those wins coming thanks to a last minute penalty save against West Ham and Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike against Villarreal on match-day two in the 95th minute.

But a 4-2 defeat at Leicester at the weekend has been blamed on a ‘lack of balance’ in Solskjaer’s starting lineup where he started with all of Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba.

According to many, including pundit Jamie Carragher, the reason for the poor defending and defeat was because Solskjaer selected too many attacking players in his lineup.

In fact however, the defeat was just simply down to poor performances and a lack of a plan. What Solskjaer must not do now, is revert to type and go with a defensive lineup in a game he must win.

It’s almost guaranteed that the Norwegian will go back to his favoured ‘McFred’ partnership in midfield with Scott McTominay and Fred coming in for Nemanja Matic and one of the attacking players.

Fred and Scott McTominay of Manchester United run out to warm up prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old...

Based on current form, it’ll be Jadon Sancho that drops out of the team with Pogba moving to the wing but that is a move that no United fan wants to see.

I don’t tend to agree with what Gary Neville says when it comes to Manchester United, because as he said on Monday Night Football, he is biased because Solskjaer is his friend and former teammate. But one thing he said in the most recent episode was absolutely correct.

Solskjaer must find a way to make the team work with the extra attacking players in the team. He has too many options and too much talent to leave them out in favour of a more defensive and pragmatic approach.

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrates scoring their second goal during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester...

United aren’t exactly bulletproof when he goes with two defensive midfielders playing in central midfield anyway, so you may as well have more firepower at your disposal from the start to frighten the opposition too.

He must be brave in sticking with the team selection despite it not working against Leicester and go for an attacking side once again. If he can’t make it work, then he’s the wrong man for the job.