Tag Archives: trinity

Manchester United squad among best in English football history

Marching towards history: Fergie's United have more points now than Shankly's Liverpool, Wenger's Invincibles and Clough's Forest… and they are on course to become the greatest EVER team

-1355Projected: 95

NB: In seasons when two points were awarded
for a win points tallies have been converted into today’s equivalent

*42-game season

The Busby Babes, featuring Duncan Edwards and Dennis Viollet, had the equivalent of 49 points from the opening 22 games of their 1956 championship-winning campaign while Sir Matt Busby’s next famous side, starring the ‘Holy Trinity’ of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, secured just 44 points from their first 22 games of the 1966-67 season – the year before they won the European Cup by defeating Benfica 4-1 at Wembley.

But it is not just the great United sides that Ferguson’s squad is seeing off in their seemingly unstoppable pursuit of a 20th Premier League title. They have equalled the points haul amassed by a Jack Walker-funded Blackburn in 1994-95 and are three points better off than the Arsenal Invincibles were at this stage of the 2003-04 season.

However, Jose Mourinho’s 2005-06 Chelsea team – who share the record with United’s 1999-2000 side for the highest final points tally over the course a 38-game Premier League season with 91 points – are the only side in the Premier League era to better the standards being set by this United team, having gained 61 points from their first 22 league games.

But should United continue to gather up the points at the same rate as they have done so far this season they will be on course to beat that record for the most points gained during a Premier League campaign, with a projected 95 points at a ratio of 2.5 per game.

When we delve further back in time it is revealed that United’s haul of 18 wins from the opening 22 games has only been matched or bettered on four occasions – by Preston in 1888-89, Sunderland in 1891-92, Tottenham in 1960-61 and Chelsea in 2005-06. Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool only secured 17 wins from their first 22 games of the 1987-88 season, but five draws saw them on to 57, two points better off than United today.

Record-breakers: Chelsea amassed 91 points in 2005-06

Record-breakers: Chelsea amassed 91 points in 2005-06

This places this much-maligned United squad in a better position than all but one of Liverpool’s championship-winning sides, and comfortably sees off the points hauls secured after 22 games by Don Revie’s title winning teams at Leeds and Brian Clough’s league winners at Forest.

Teams to have won at least 18 of their opening 22 games of the season:

Team
Season
Won
Drawn
Lost
Points
Chelsea
2005-06
20
1
1
61
Tottenham
1960-61
1921
59
Preston
1888-89
18
4
0
58
Sunderland
1891-92
19
0
3
57
Man United
2012-13
18
1
3
55

It seems difficult to believe that this United side is comfortably seeing off competition from some of the most celebrated sides in the history of English football.

United have already conceded 29 goals, leaving them on track to break the club’s worst defensive record in a single season in the Premier League era – the 45 goals conceded in the 1999-2000 title-winning campaign.

Class of 2000: Ferguson's sixth title was won at a canter

Class of 2000: Ferguson's sixth title was won at a canter

Doubts remain over the goalkeeping position, with David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard being rotated once again this season, while question marks hang over the defensive capabilities of full backs Rafael and Patrice Evra with Nemanja Vidic still being eased back in after long-term knee injury.

Further forward, many spectators still believe United to be short of a player with the drive and determination of a Roy Keane or Bryan Robson in the centre of midfield, while on the wing, Nani has fallen out of favour and Antonio Valencia has failed to produce anything like his best form for some time now.

Man Utd v the best teams in history (all points totals are three for a win):

Team
Season
Points after 22 games
Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man Utd
2012-13
55
Don Revie’s Leeds United
1973-74
54
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal
2003-04
52
Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest
1977-78
49
Bill Shankly’s Liverpool
1963-64
47
Brian Clough’s Derby
1971-72
40

Injury and sluggish showings have hindered Wayne Rooney’s season this time around, with the striker having scored just eight goals, compared with the seventeen he had this time last year. Fellow England forward Danny Welbeck may have impressed with his work rate and pace against Liverpool on Sunday but he must improve on his solitary United goal so far this term.

In spite of all the frailties, there is
no doubting the integral contribution being performed by Michael Carrick
in midfield and Van Persie, of course, up front – while Tom Cleverley
and Javier Hernandez have also been in sparkling form.

More to come: Rooney (centre) has been far from his best this season

More to come: Rooney (centre) has been far from his best this season

And whatever this United squad may lack in quality, they make up for with their strength of character and determination to win – a trait undoubtedly drilled into the squad by Ferguson. United have beaten Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea away from home and Liverpool and Arsenal at Old Trafford – edging all five games by the odd goal – demonstrating their ability to find a way to win a match.

United’s intensity will surely have been heightened after the heartbreak of losing the title to Manchester City last season – and it is a testament to Ferguson’s management that he is driving this squad to such record-breaking heights.

Everton to finish above Liverpool again? MERSEY BEAT

Has the first major shift in power since 1937 happened on Merseyside

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UPDATED:

11:53 GMT, 24 August 2012

It was the year when George VI became king and Neville Chamberlain was elected Prime Minister; it was also the year Dame Shirley Bassey was born and 999 was introduced ats the emergency telephone number.

1937 was a significant year in British history and it was also a notable one in the narrative of Merseyside football – it was the last time Everton finished ahead of Liverpool in the top flight league table for two consecutive seasons.

That is an extraordinary statistic, particularly when you consider some of the fabulous sides from Everton's past, such as the one that contained the Holy Trinity of Ball, Kendall and Harvey in the 1960s, and the mid-1980s vintage that won two league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup Winners Cup.

Been a while: Everton last finished above Liverpool in successive top flight seasons in 1936 (Dixie Dean, pictured) and 1937

Been a while: Everton last finished above Liverpool in successive top flight seasons in 1936 (Dixie Dean, pictured) and 1937

But, as strange though it may be, not since Everton’s respective finishes of 16th (1936) and 17th (1937) under Theo Kelly bettered Liverpool’s placing of 17th and 18th has Blue been the successively dominant colour on Merseyside.

Which begs the question: is that sequence about to end

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After Liverpool spent 100million last
summer, Everton boss David Moyes harboured no expectations that his side
would outperform their neighbours over 38 matches but, despite losing
both derby games and the FA Cup semi-final, that is precisely what they
did.

Liverpool’s implosion in the second half of the campaign coincided with Everton finding their form and the impact of January arrivals Nikica Jelavic and Darron Gibson, as well as loanees Steven Pienaar and Landon Donovan, created significant momentum.

Now, following wildly different results for both teams on the opening weekend, there is a quiet belief amongst Evertonians that the immediate advantage they have opened up over Liverpool thanks to a striking win over Manchester United will remain come May 19.

It is not hard to see where confidence comes from. If Everton’s fortunes in the transfer market last summer were dispiriting, this time around they have been assured, and the return of Pienaar, coupled with the additions of Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas, augur well.

Ideally, Moyes will make another addition before the window closes – he needs to bolster his midfield and is pursuing different options – and if he can do that, Everton will be well equipped for the battles that lie ahead.

'We want to keep progressing,' said Moyes. 'I see clubs who are supposed to be skint still spending money. Everyone here is still feeling good after the way we finished last season and we have still got the same group of players.

Different days: Everton made a flying start to the Premier League campaign, while Liverpool were humiliated at West Brom

Different days: Everton made a flying start to the Premier League campaign, while Liverpool were humiliated at West Brom

Different days: Everton made a flying start to the Premier League campaign, while Liverpool were humiliated at West Brom

'I think that we have got quite a good
team, one that can compete. We are a little short of numbers but we have
got good young players coming into the team and we will continue to
promote them when we can. I hope that we can continue to build.'

Moyes may have sold Jack Rodwell to Manchester City but the fact he managed to keep hold of Marouane Fellaini, who was a target for Chelsea and Paris St Germain, and Leighton Baines in this window was noteworthy.

Good business: David Moyes has made all the right noises this summer

Good business: David Moyes has made all the right noises this summer

Their influence in this team is crucial and the widespread feeling around Goodison is that this will be the campaign when Fellaini really blossoms. His start against Manchester United, scoring and dominating, could hardly have been more impressive.

Similar sentiments apply to the team. If Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is expecting a campaign of transition at Anfield, as he tries to establish his philosophy, Moyes – who has entered the final year of his contract – will be looking for Everton to make familiarity pay.

His is a settled side, one that knows how to fight, plays good football and never fails to rattle the big teams when they come up against them. Should they build up a head of steam in the first few weeks, Liverpool could find it difficult to peg them back.

'If Liverpool have had a stranglehold over Everton in the past, it won't go on forever,’ Moyes said before a Goodison Park derby in April 2003. ‘Whether we are yet ready to turn it round, I don't know, but I hope we will be at some stage.’

He, more than anyone, will be hoping that stage has now finally arrived.

Wakefield get go ahead for new stadium

New home for Wildcats: Wakefield get go ahead for new stadium

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UPDATED:

12:43 GMT, 21 June 2012

Wakefield have received the go-ahead for a new stadium.

The Wildcats were told that the Secretary of State has given his blessing for the development at Newmarket, which will include a 12,000-capacity community stadium.

The 19million development, on the site of an old colliery just off junction 30 of the M62, was the subject of a two-week public inquiry in December following objections from residents and Leeds City Council.

On the move: The Wakefield Wildcats hope to be in their new stadium by 2015

On the move: The Wakefield Wildcats hope to be in their new stadium by 2015

The stadium will be owned by the Wakefield & District Community Trust but the Wildcats will become anchor tenants.

It is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2015 season and before the start of the new Super League licensing period.

Wakefield will be hoping today's announcement brings to an end a long-running saga that threatened their future in Super League.

'This is fantastic news and is a decision that provides security for the club's long-term future, which now looks even brighter,' said chief executive James Elston.'

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box said: 'We welcome the Secretary of State's initial decision which supports what our planning committee was minded to do when we received this application.

'This step forward is excellent news for the regeneration of the district.

'Wakefield Trinity has long battled for a new stadium and this proposed decision gives the club a way forward and a more secure footing in the Super League.”

Darts legend Jocky Wilson dies at 62

Farewell Jocky of the oche: Darts mourns the loss of two-time world champion Wilson

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UPDATED:

22:08 GMT, 25 March 2012

Jocky. Those who transcend sport and life require just one name. If they are loved by all, their Christian name suffices.

So it was with a wee man from Kirkcaldy who came to symbolise darts and stand as a 1980s beacon of endearing simplicity.

Darts was in its terrestrial television heyday and Jocky Wilson was one of the holy trinity alongside Eric Bristow and John Lowe. Bristow won more world titles — five to his Scottish rival’s two (in 1982 and 1989) — but Jocky won more hearts.

VIDEO: Scroll down to see footage of Wilson's two world titles

Champion: Jocky Wilson, who won two world titles, has died aged 62

Champion: Jocky Wilson, who won two world titles, has died aged 62

After all, not only did he represent every ordinary bloke who toed the oche in a pub over a pint, he couldn’t even throw properly, lurching to one side as his arm was flung in the opposite direction. The difference was, when Jock did it, the dart still hit its target.

‘He would need double top with his last dart,’ Bristow recalled yesterday, smiling. ‘I wouldn’t look at the dart board, I’d just watch him. He’d jump with his last dart and in that split second I’d think “I’ve got another shot”.

‘Then you’d hear the announcer shout “Game” and you’d look up and it was right in the middle of double top. That was Jocky. The first five sets he took off me in the 1989 World Championship final, he could have thrown them over his shoulder and hit a 180.’

Jocky Wilson

Jocky Wilson

Popular: Wilson entered the sport as its appeal with the public began to grow

And unorthodox. When the pair played each other at the World Team Cup in Livingston, Jocky resorted to odd tactics.

Bristow added: ‘He kicked me before we went on stage. Took about four inches of skin off my shin. Luckily, the England team wore red trousers so even though my leg was bleeding, nobody could see it. Then I had to hobble on stage, shake his hand and play him. He won. We had a drink after. I said “What was all that about” He said “I’ve got to try to beat you somehow”.’

Born in Kirkcaldy, where he died on Saturday night aged 62, Wilson began his working life as a miner. He had a weakness for sweets and rarely brushed his teeth because his grandmother told him ‘the English poison the water’. /03/25/article-2120039-1253107B000005DC-651_468x337.jpg” width=”468″ height=”337″ alt=”Legends: Wilson with fellow darts player Bobby George (right)” class=”blkBorder” />

Legends: Wilson with fellow darts player Bobby George (right)

Fifteen-time world champion Phil Taylor said: ‘Jocky had false teeth. I remember playing snooker with him. He asked someone to clean the white ball and took his teeth out to mark the ball with a great little grin on his face. His smile will stay with me forever.’

When his toothless grin beamed out as a backdrop to Dexys Midnight Runners on Top of the Pops as they performed Jackie Wilson Said no-one had to be told his name. We all knew and we all laughed along.

It is a smile which had not been seen by the world, save for his wife Malvina, since 1996 when he suddenly walked away from darts.

Glory: Wilson twice won the world title

Jocky Wilson

Back in the day: Wilson returned to his home town after retiring from the sport

‘At that time, it was generally accepted among the players that they needed a drink to feel comfortable,’ said Tommy Cox, Jocky’s former manager.

‘Although he never drank away from darts, Jocky did on stage. When he was diagnosed with diabetes, he couldn’t drink. He’d have three pints and he’d be sick for three days. He battled on for six months drinking water at events but he was a shadow of himself. He was embarrassed. He walked away and didn’t tell anyone, not even me.’

Wilson retreated to the Kirkcaldy estate on which he was raised — a recluse who, it is believed, never set foot outside his flat again. For Bristow, his passing was a release.

‘It was sad but it’s nice to see him out of his misery. I’ve been smiling all morning. Mind you, the little sod’s always cost me money and he will now because I’ve got to go out and have a drink for him, haven’t I’

Farewell, Jocky.

Wilson v John Lowe – 1982 Embassy Final

Wilson v Eric Bristow – 1989 Embassy Final

SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Dexy's Midnight Runners famously used a picture of Jocky during a Top of the Pops performance of their hit song Jackie Wilson Said

Aston Villa want safe-standing area at Villa Park

Ambitious Villa hope to open safe-standing area for 2013/14 season

Aston Villa have launched plans to open a safe-standing area at their Villa Park ground.

The club hope to put forward their proposal at a meeting of the Premier League later this season.

But even if their bold proposal was given the green light, Villa would require a change in law to open the stand.

Pioneers: Aston Villa could introduce a safe-standing area

Pioneers: Aston Villa could introduce a safe-standing area

Chief executive Paul Faulkner has provisionally earmarked the corner of Villa Park, where the Holte End meets the Trinity Road stand, for a test area, according to the Birmingham Mail.

But even if they are given the go-ahead, it would be the 2013/14 season at least before the stand was open.

Villa have held discussions with the Football Supporters’ Federation and Faulkner floated the idea to the club’s fans for the first time before Saturday’s draw with Everton at Villa Park.

Precedent: Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund have standing areas

Precedent: Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund have standing areas

Villa are examining the introduction of ‘rail seats’, which have been used effectively at German club Borussia Dortmund and across Europe.

These are flip-up seats which are UEFA compliant and can accommodate seated supporters during designated all-seater matches or be stowed away to create a standing area at other times.

The Scottish Premier League last month gave its clubs permission to have safe-standing areas within their stadiums.