Songs of the Year 2011 – An Eclectic Bunch.

2011 is arguably the year that defines plenty of artists career up to now – Rihanna, Adele, KatyPerry and Cee Lo Green just to name a few. We Found Love, from Rihanna and Calvin Harris in September, was one of the biggest hits of the year – combining big pumping beats with lyrics that went down an absolute storm on every dance floor around the globe. Adele’s Someone Like You in late January became one of the fastest-selling downloads of all-time – stripped down vocals and melodic piano meant this ballad became one that helped depict plenty of memories. 

Katy Perry has had plenty of hits too – Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) and Firework made up elements of the Top 20 bestselling hits of the year, mixing classic pop tones with a cracking beat, and two genius videos to match too. And Cee Lo… Well well well. Fuck You!, despite being released in August 2010, continued to sell, and is still found in the Top 50 singles on the iTunes Chart as we speak. He also gave us I Want You and Bright Lights Bigger City – by far and away some of the best music around this year.

But what about the other big hits? The likes of Moves Like Jagger from Maroon 5 and Christina, or Super Bass from Nicki Minaj? Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People was massive on both sides of the Atlantic, likewise Grenade and Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars. Jessie J has launched big-time Stateside with the brilliant Domino, and we also can’t overlook Gaga, and the might of Born This Way, Judas, and Marry The Night.

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But what about those songs that haven’t had such big commerical success? The likes of Drake’s Headlines – arguably one of the best hip-hop records of the last decade, has to be in there – with its catchy beats and repetitive rhythms, it was a sure-fire winner. Kanye and Jay-Z released one of the biggest and best albums of the year, and the lead single Otis was massive – a masterclass in how to feature a track without upstaging it.

Jumping on the dance floor hasn’t been easier than this year, either. Avicii’s piece of genius that is Levels has been a late bloomer this year, gaining more and more airtime on radio stations and becoming a proper floorfiller. Katy B has been a massive, massive hit here in the UK this year, and her album On A Mission has been a big success. But her track Katy On A Mission was heard everywhere this summer. And who can forget the might of the song that is Party Rock Anthem, from LMFAO? Need I say more….

There have been some great tracks that have remained very under the radar too – Glen Campbell’s final recording gave us A Better Place – two minutes of pure joy in a song. There was also Let England Shake, from PJ Harvey, and her Mercury Prize-winning album – bringing folk and rock together into a wonderful hybrid of happiness. Or what about Elbow’s The Birds, featuring one of the most beautiful instrumentals I’ve ever heard? We also can’t overlook Mary J. Blige’s autobiographical song Need Someone – a soft, unbelievably beautiful ballad that makes you feel every single syllable of every word.

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Jamie Woon’s Lady Luck was a song that got stuck in your head for weeks, let alone days, and was everything that was expected from him this time last year. Likewise James Blake, with The Wilhelm Scream being by far and away one of my favourite records of the year. Aloe Blacc also fired his way up there with I Need A Dollar – a song felt by every student up and down the country as student fees went up and up and up.

And you can’t overlook a good country record, either – Zac Brown Band’s amazingly-paced Whiskey’s Gone has you dancing for every second of the 2:47 it’s on. Or, for further comedic value and a video to match, Toby Keith’s moment of genius with Red Solo Cup is an absolute must – despite its rather ghastly cover on Glee. And if you drop the tempo even further, insert some synthesised beats and put it in a film, and you’ll end up with Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose’s collaboration with Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song featured in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Now that’s how to re-record a classic.

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The sad passing of Amy Winehouse in July led to a posthumous album released in early December, which spawned the rather beautiful Our Day Will Come, alongside a rather spine-chilling version of A Song For You. And, I know I shall be ridiculed beyond belief for this, but One Direction’s Gotta Be You is one of the best pieced-together pop records of the year by a living mile. Genius use of an orchestra, too. And sticking on the teen pop vibe, a wonderful record from the US was Love You Like A Love Song, from Selena Gomez & The Scene. That’s Mrs Bieber, to you and me…

One of the biggest records of the year came from relatively unknown American Lana Del Rey, and the incredible Video Games – a really quite beautiful track. Now the shock value that came with her ‘story’ at the start has been diluted a wee bit, but that doesn’t take away from the fact this is a massive, massive record. A really ‘underground’ record was ‘Rome’, from Danger Mouse and Daniele Lucci – an album recorded in homage to Italian film soundtracks. This gave us Season’s Trees, featuring Norah Jones, and you just lose yourself in the song. Metronomy released ‘An English Riviera’ – an album that combines the wonderful folk sounds we have grown accustom to, with some electronic vibes that give them such a unique sound. The Look was the best song off the album – and is a piece of genius. There was also the UK’s first major talent show winner, Will Young, and his remarkable new album, which gave us Come On – a high-tempo, happy, fun record. Very different to our Lana…

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And we most certainly can’t go through a review of big songs without considering some of the biggest albums released this year – Coldplay brought us Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall, Hurts Like Heaven, and M.M.I.X., all from their number-one album ‘Mylo Xyloto’. Now this was met by Beyonce’s acclaimed ‘4’ album, which arrived with Countdown, I Care, Party and Run The World (Girls). And that was eventually trumped at the end of this year with ‘Christmas’, from Michael Buble – Jingle Bells, Blue Christmas and  Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) are sure-fire favourites to become Christmas classics in years to come.

But like us all, I have my favourites… This year, it’s a Top 5. And there’s no order, cos they’re all bloody brilliant in their own special, and very unique way.

Florence + the Machine returned this year with a great album – ‘Ceremonials’ – and the second single released was Shake It Out. Fast, story-based, wonderful lyrics and that voice that made us all fall in love with her first time around just got bigger. Great record.

Big dance hit of the year, as many music critics have agreed, was that from Joe Goddard and Valentina, with Gabriel. A big house vibe, with secluded vocals and a wonderful rising repetition, and this record gained a lot of love. Coldplay did something very similar with repetition, and Charlie Brown was invented. A great intro, topped with a wonderful ending that took it right back to the roots of the song. Great idea.

A name you’re not likely to know – Michael Kiwanuka. But you wait till this time next year, and everyone will be all over him. This guy is talented, and the EP he released earlier in the year gave us a piece of music that gives me goosebumps every time – I Need You By My Side. A very, very special young talent, and a wonderful record.

But my song of the year? It’s another revisit… Katy Perry’s The One That Got Away. Melodic, beautiful, unreserved and there’s some great elements that makes a perfect pop song – key change, strings, cracking video, and the ability to speed it up for remixes, and strip it down for concerts. It was, and is, a masterpiece.

So that’s it for another year. Some massive music this year, and there’ll be plenty more next year. Will try and give you a sneak peak into the music world of 2012 at some stage over the next week – keep your eyes peeled…

I’ve pieced together a playlist of all the above tracks on Spotify, if that takes your fancy…

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All I Want For Christmas Is The Destruction and Annihilation of International Friendlies…

Originally posted on Sport Witness.

It’s been a long time coming has this post. It’s been brewing for a long, long time, and like a rather good gassy blow-out, it’s about to appear and make you all run like hell.

I’m going to talk international football.

For those of you still with me, thankyou. I know how dull it is, and that’s my point really. International football used to be the highlight of every footballer’s career, and the dream of every young boy up and down the land. Now it’s just an excuse for the mad nutters called ‘football fans’ to come and cause havoc, whilst the players don’t sing the national anthem and have a bit of time off from their club. There’s no dignity in internationals anymore.

And that’s why I’d like to see friendlies scrapped.

As a football fan, as I expect you are, I’m a firm believer in continuity. I like seeing my team play week in, week out – preferably on a Saturday afternoon, and midweek football is even better. I don’t like seeing us play one week, then not the next as Capello has decided to request a three-month friendly break with the whole of West Africa. It just seems pointless.

Calling it a ‘friendly’ is already the kiss of death – an excuse for the players to have a bit of a jolly on the pitch, and gain another cap for their brand-new ‘cap museum’ they’ve just built onto the back of their £46m 928-bedroom house. There’s no passion anymore, because it’s all too predictable.

I’m sure the majority of us could pick a typical England squad that Capello would choose on a regular basis. He supposedly rewards form and raw potential, but I’m yet to see a genuine choice in his squads that would pleasantly surprise me. And that annoys me a bit, to be honest with you.

We don’t need friendlies clogging up the footballing calendar. This season, we’ve already seen five England internationals played, causing three breaks to a regular league season. They’ll be a break at the end of February next year for another friendly, and I’ll be damned if we don’t see another one before Euro 2012, too.

International football as a whole is a bit of a joke, currently. Never mind FIFA and their ludicrous and lethargic manner, we’ve got our own problems closer to home. Players who have such big egos that playing for their country is just a chore. A manager who has already said he doesn’t wish to manage beyond next summer. A stadium riddled with debt that we need as many games there as possible. Club academies that develop world-class potential, and clubs that aren’t willing to use them enough. A lack of funding in grassroots football that is beginning to affect not just the short-term future of our football, but the long-term too.

We need to be encouraging healthy competition, and a drive and hunger instilled in every single player that represents their country. We shouldn’t be taking short, constant international breaks for friendlies. We should be calling for two fortnight breaks, one in the winter and one in the spring, for the three or four games each country plays during the season.

We should also be calling for a bi-annual tournament, between the years of the European Championships and the World Cup. That way, we’ll be looking at a competition every season, and specific rules should be installed in order to ensure players are given an opportunity at every level.

Until that point, however, we’ll just be stuck with this drab, dull, lifeless thing we call international football…

Agree with me? Want to add your tuppence worth? Follow me on Twitter – I’m @Adam9309 – or find me on my own blog!

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Inspiration Invitations: Grace Dent

Originally posted on General Musings of an Idiot.

Having sunk a glass or two of the rather lovely dark variety of wine, this could be a very strange piece. I apologise in advance, but equally, this could be the best blog you’ve ever read. So keep your eyes peeled.

This is the third and final instalment of my series, known as ‘Inspiration Invitiations’. As explained before, this is a set of posts that depict and display the people who inspire me, and it’s me inviting you to be inspired by them too. Simple.

Today, it’s the turn of the lovely Grace Dent. Now there’s not a lot to say, to be quite honest with you, other than the fact she is the reason I want to be a journalist.

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There’s hundreds and thousands of journalists around the globe, all reporting on different things. But nobody can get away with the tone and the language Grace uses, and still make it funny, interesting, and make you looking forward to the next article.

Her TV OD series for the Guardian has me in stiches every week – because she says what she thinks, and what we all think. It’s a remarkable gift to have, and she most certainly has it.

I have wanted to be a journalist since the age of 11, and at about 14 I found her works for the first time. And that’s the reason I decided that was my life ambition, and that’s what I want to do for a career. She made that decision for me by becoming my role model.

I want to be able to write what I want, when I want to, with the same tone she does. I want to be able to speak my mind, and have that accepted by the vast majority of my readers. I want to be as successful as she is, and become the most wonderful person she is.

I met her at Twight Night at the turn of the month, and was so unbelievably starstruck by her that I couldn’t even say two words to her. The fact she was sat in a chair with Caitlin Moran made it all the better, and I had to ask isobel to keep me sane.

If it weren’t for Grace, her wonderful writing, and her brilliant personality, I wouldn’t want to be a journalist. I’d be a travel agent, or an assistant in Asda, or a cotton weaver in the 1860’s. But it is thanks to her that my life has a plan and an ultimate goal, and I’m very very proud to say she has influenced that.

If you get a chance, go find her writing – you won’t be disappointed. Likewise with her most recent book, ‘How To Leave Twitter’ – one of the best pieces of writing released this year.

Thankyou Grace – from the very very bottom of my heart. You have helped make my dreams become a reality.

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F1 2016: Bigger, Slower, and Hated

Originally posted on Sport Witness.

In five years’ time, we will see a very different Formula 1 to the one we witness now. If the constant reports and speculation are to be believed, anyway.

Good ol’ Bernie is trying his very best to make F1 the sport of the globe – reaching out to every corner of our world in order to make the global audience as big as physically possible. It’s a very, very clever business model – one that has never been seen in this modern era of sport before. And a lot of sports around the world are following suit now, and tapping in to the ‘New World’, and more importantly, Asia.

F1, certainly in the UK, has grown nearly three-fold since the big re-brand and re-shuffle onto the BBC back in 2009. It’s an interesting concept to watch, as other countries around the world have also seen bigger audiences tuning in to watch the races, and the whole racing weekend. The leaps have been in Europe and western Asia, and this has been backed up by the increase in races and commercial ventures within these areas.

Nobody is really quite sure why, though. The introduction of KERS and the DRS system has allowed for an increase in overtaking, and the new tracks and races that have been brought in, with circuits designed by Hermann Tilke, have made Formula One racing much more exciting. I’m a recent convert myself to all this – and love every minute of the races. It’s so unpredictable.

Unless Vettel is leading from the front. Again.

But where will Formula One be in a few years’ time? Well, if you believe everything you read, we could have 30 cars on the grid, with 25 races on the calendar, with much smaller TV audiences. And it’s all for cash, too.

There is talk of Honda, BMW, and Toyota all making a comeback to the sport in the near future. The introduction of the slightly smaller, 1.6L turbo-charged V6 engines in 2014, with new technology and innovations to boot, could entice the three big engine manufacturers back to the sport. This would be great news – allowing for teams steeped in history to return to the grid, and race alongside the new, cost-effective teams, and making racing a little bit more interesting. But 30 cars setting off with the wave of the black-and-white flag could be absolute chaos.

The only conceivable way I can see it happening is to move towards a four-session qualifying. Six cars go out in the first session, and are not allowed to race in the weekend’s GP. A slight take on the 107% rule, re-introduced this season, but with a motive in order to get on that grid. None of this ‘steward’s discretion’ malarkey – what a waste of time that is.

This would still leave 24 cars racing in Sunday’s finale to the weekend, yet would still add a different dimension to the way the sport is run. However, we would still lose the same cars every single weekend if we’re not careful. As we’ve seen since the introduction of the new teams at the start of 2010, the six cars from these teams are always the first cars to be leaving qualifying. It gets a little tedious.

Bernie’s global conquest will continue, too. In 2012, we see the United States GP return, in Austin, Texas, and in 2013, there will be a second race, titled ‘Circuit of the Americas’, in New Jersey. 2014 will see the introduction of the Russian GP, in Sochi, near the Winter Olympics site, and there are whispers that we may see a South African GP, a Croatian GP, or even the Vietnamese GP. If all these races are submitted, without any leaving the calendar, the season would be 25 races long. That would make it the longest ever seen. And a very good one, as well.

There’s also all sorts of TV deals and media rights that are up for renewal. We saw earlier this year that Sky and the BBC have entered a joint venture, until 2018, to broadcast the races together. Sky will broadcast all three practices, qualifying and the race, whilst the BBC will have the rights to broadcast 10 of the season’s races, with highlights for the remainder. This has been seen as the way of making F1 even more commercially viable than it is currently, but has jeopardised the fans’ perception of how they view Formula One.

The movement to pay-per-view will save the BBC around £25m – a contributing factor to the £640m savings they will be making by 2016. However, the chemistry seen between Jake Humphrey, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard, alongside the commentary of Martin Brundle, is second-to-none. It is no wonder four or five of the major nations who broadcast F1 use the BBC’s coverage and commentary. The changes will streamline the sport’s audience, and will suddenly make it quite elitist. And if this is the trend across Europe, and the rest of the world, then money will suddenly dry up very quickly…

We’ll have to see what happens, but it will be very different come 2016. Very different indeed.

Agree with me? Want to add your tuppence worth? Follow me on Twitter – I’m @Adam9309 – or find me on my own blog!

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Inspiration Invitations: Lewis Wiltshire

Originally posted on General Musings of an Idiot.
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I’m slacking already, and for that I apologise profusely. But today brings about the second in my ‘Inspiration Invitations’ series.

To explain the concept of Inspiration Invitations is a pretty easy thing to do. These posts are the people that have inspired me, and therefore I’m inviting you to let them inspire you too. Hence the name.

And the penny drops….

There’s one man that I feel is very deserved of a post with the Inspiration Invitations tag. He’s been a big influence for me, yet hardly any of you will know who he is. But I bet you’ve used his website.

Lewis Wiltshire is the former Editor of the BBC Sport website, and is now the Digital Olympics Editor, alongside Social Media Editor, both still for BBC Sport. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Lewis, and getting to know him via social networks. And if I do say so, he’s bloody brilliant.

As you all know, I wish to become a sports journalist, and my dream from about the age of 12 is to worth for the BBC Sport online team. Therefore, the person I needed to learn from, and to aspire to, was Lewis. A quick Google, a few clicks, and I was following him on Twitter. And that’s where this story sort of begins and ends.

I won’t bore you with Tweets and conversations, but Lewis has been a massive help. He’s advised and helped, and in a way, become a role model for me to aspire to. But most of all, he’s inspired me.

There was a point around Christmas last year that I has ‘writer’s block,’ and I did consider giving up on my dream, and just looking for another. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, so I could do that. And I like advertising and marketing, too, so there’s another avenue to explore. But it was one solitary email from Lewis that got everything back on track, and since then I’ve been more focused and determined than ever.

I hate rejection – it’s the worst feeling in the world by a living mile. Nobody likes being told they’re not good enough, or that what they’ve spent so long working towards isn’t going to happen. And that’s why I can’t be beaten on this one. Lewis has been someone to look up to, not only in a professional capacity, but in a personal one too.

I have a few dreams in life. I’d like to open a patisserie in a suburb in the States. I’d like to visit China, and go to Beijing. I’d quite like to own a gastropub, and pick the menu. I’d like my kids to grow up and be whoever they want to be. I’d like to work for the BBC, and I’d love to work in TV Centre.

With the Sport department moving to the new MediaCity:UK complex in Salford, and TV Centre slated to close completely in 2017, that dream is seemingly just that – a dream. I would, one day, love to work for Lewis, in whatever role he currently has at that point in time. There’s just something exciting and current about his thoughts, ideas, and his team – and it would be (literally) a dream come true to be part of that. Cue cheesy music, awkward glances, and a ‘Happily Ever After’ sign on the screen.

In all seriousness, Lewis has made me realise a dream, and made me crave it even more. If you’re at all interested in writing, journalism, or sport-based media, you have to get in touch with him. I promise you, you won’t regret it at all.

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Who Will Replace The Irreplaceable?

Originally posted on Sport Witness.

Since 2002, very little has been spoken of who will fill the biggest shoes in club football. The occasional name has popped up, and the odd piece or two written about where the club will go. Until this month, when suddenly every media outlet in the world wanted to see if they could get Mystic Meg on board in order to predict the future. But the question is still there.

Just who will replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United?

Luckily, we have a few years to consider it. Fergie has said he reckons he has three or four more years left before hanging up his coat, and walking away from the Manger’s Office at Old Trafford for the final time. And until that day, nothing will be known of who will become the first new manager of Manchester United in nearly 30 years.

Many have said that Jose Mourinho will be the preferred choice of the board and the fans to take over the tenure. He himself has said that he would like a return to England ‘one day’, and it is believed there may be some form of release clause in his contract at Real Madrid. His tactical awareness and continued success across Europe has led to him becoming the front-runner in order to fill Fergie’s shoes, and Sir Alex’s admiration for the ‘Special One’ alone makes him a worthy candidate. However, his tendencies to stay at a club for a relatively short period of time, and also his outspoken nature and criticism of how the game is run could be factors in a decision not to appoint him.

Another name constantly mentioned is that of David Moyes. Fergie is reportedly a big fan of the Scot, who has managed both Preston, and currently Everton. He is the third longest-serving manager in the Premier League, after Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. His success on a shoestring budget has led to him becoming a prominent candidate, and reports last year said that Fergie himself had endorsed Moyes as the future United boss. Again though, his lack of a big club on his CV could prove a problem, alongside the fact he has never had money at his disposal – which could lead to failed buys and adverse effects in the transfer market.

It looks to be a two-horse race for the manager’s post, but until that fateful day we have no idea what is going on. Other names have been linked, such as Mark Hughes, Martin O’Neill, and most notably, Pep Guardiola, but the latter looks likely to stay at Barcelona for as long as they are successful. We could also consider ex-United players under Ferguson as candidates, such as the aforementioned Hughes, Roy Keane, and Steve Bruce, or even Laurent Blanc, manager of the French national team.

I really don’t know who the United board, alongside Sir Alex, will choose, but I know who I want in my heart. And it would involve a dream team involving a certain Eric Cantona…..

Agree with me? Want to add your tuppence worth? Follow me on Twitter – I’m @Adam9309 – or find me on my own blog!

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25 Years of Sir Alex, and 18 Years of Me

Originally posted on Sport Witness.

To begin with, I apologise profusely – this is going to be quite a personal, thought-felt post, that I hope can help become part of a much bigger story.

As an 18 year-old Man United fan, I’ve never know any different than the current sign on the manager’s door – Alex Ferguson has been, and currently is, the only United boss I’ve ever known. The only difference has been the addition of a ‘Sir’ on the front of his name.

This weekend sees him celebrate 25 years at the helm of the United team. His guidance, genius and his ability to change games with shrewd tactics and manoeuvres has led to him winning near-on everything, and becoming the longest-serving manager in British football.

37 trophies in those 25 years – a truly incredible fact, especially considering his United career has outlived over 1,000 managers in English football. He has won 836 of the 1,409 games since November 1986, won the Champions League twice in exceptional circumstances, led the club to an unprecedented Treble, and won the Premier League 12 times out of 19 instances. The man is a genius.

There are some who will completely disagree with me, and that’s fine by me, but I genuinely believe Sir Alex Ferguson is the greatest manager of all time. Yes, there is the likes of Bill Shankly, Sir Matt Busby, Bob Paisley and Brian Clough to consider, but Fergie trumps them all. He really does.

All these managers have been in different situations, but I don’t believe any of them have done what Sir Alex has. We are currently in the midst of his sixth regeneration of a squad still capable of winning countless trophies, and his combination of skill and experience with youth, energy and pace is lethal to even the best of teams. The sheer destruction these teams have unleashed on their opposition is down to his fiery Scottish personality, and he builds a team around a core of players, as opposed to just the one great player.

His 1992 Premier League winning squad. His 1996 Golden Generation Double-winning team. The 1999 Treble-winning squad. The 2003 comeback squad. His 2008 Champions League winning team. And now this, the Class of 2011-12, that Fergie himself believes could define his career.

Sir Alex has always remained a firm believer that no-one is bigger than the club itself. His short fuse and ‘hairdryer’ treatment tends to lead to big impact from the players, and his management techniques are acclaimed the world over – even his biggest critics now rate him as one of the best ever.

His squad awareness is completely unique in the modern game. We see the likes of Man City and Chelsea spending millions upon millions of pounds in order to buy the best players available. Fergie doesn’t do that – he adds to the squad where he feels United need strength, and encourages the youth being brought through the academy and the reserves in order to keep building upon the continued success bestowed to the club.

There are countless quotes and honours written and spoken about Sir Alex, but some completely stand out. Eric Cantona, arguably Fergie’s best signing at the club, at just £1.2m from Leeds in 1992, said that he ‘…found the perfect manager and the perfect club. He’s one of the greatest managers in the world.’ When the recognition you receive is from your fellow professionals, you know the job you are doing is certainly a good one.

I remember back in 2002, when Sir Alex was going to retire, that I didn’t really want that to happen. I had just turned nine at the time, and was besotted with football. Ruud van Nistelrooy was my new favourite United player, and Diego Forlan had long blonde hair – something I hadn’t seen on a man before. I remember crying after hearing about the semi-final loss to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, and I also remember that first time I felt that terrible pain of forfeiting a trophy to a rival – the Premier League title. Even back then, you recognise the power a manager has on a team, and quite how legendary he has become. Fergie couldn’t go down beaten, and decided to turn his back on retirement, and ensure United were left in good stead. And here we are today, in the same position we were – with Sir Alex at the top of the game, and still winning trophies.

To say Sir Alex is talented is a massive, massive understatement. Football fans across the globe recognise his achievements, and even rivalries are tucked into a corner in order to admit the man’s legendary status. It’s a beautiful thing.

Saturday’s pre-match presentation was truly quite brilliant. It showed Fergie in the light we don’t get to see very often. A guard of honour, followed by the dedication of the North Stand, which is now known as the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand. A statue to be erected for the start of next season. And not to mention the countless former players spotted in the crowd, all there to honour the great man.

You can have your personal opinions on Sir Alex, but you cannot doubt his wisdom, his genius and his talent. Manchester band Elbow have a song on their third album, titled ‘My Very Best’, and it contains a line that perfectly sums up every United fan’s feelings for Sir Alex.

‘You’ve gone and made a beautiful hole in my heart.’

A big, purple-nosed, Scottish-blooded, Sir Alex hole. A hole that can never, and will never be filled. And long may it continue.

Agree with me? Want to add your tuppence worth? Follow me on Twitter – I’m @Adam9309 – or find me on my own blog!

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WARNING: Cheating is STRICTLY Prohibited.

Originally posted on Sport Witness.

The events of the Pakistani cricketers, found guilty of spot fixing, have been unravelled in public and in the media, to the point where even more allegations have been made today during the sentencing. It is a disgraceful story – cheating sportsmen at the top of their game who put a quick buck ahead of an illustrious career. What they’ll get now is a loss of job and a jail term. Lovely stuff, boys….

But it does make you wonder about other sports too. The ICC have caught these cheats with the help of the News of the World and the British media, which is great. Buyt what do we do about other suspected cheats in other sports?

Channel 4 and Dispatches uncovered the ring of Thai businessmen, including former England international Bryan Robson, that allowed for rich foreign investors to buy different Football League clubs. This was, and still is, illegal within British sport, and the FA should be enforcing this. Why not?

What about the racist allegations made against John Terry last week? These have been picked up the the Metropolitan Police, and the FA will then conduct their own investigation, but what happens if he is found guilty? Racism and disturbing the peace is a criminal offence, and therefore should be treated as one – not a slap on the wrists because he’s the England captain on £200,000 a week. Sod that – he is still a human being insulting a human being. If proven guilty, obviously.

We’ve seen it in rugby, too. Back in 2009, ‘Bloodgate’ occurred, with Harlequins winger Tom Richards using fake blood capsules in order to gain a stop in play to get an extra man back on the field. He was banned for twelve months, later reduced to four, and Harlequins were fined £259,000 for the incident. They were punished, but this is still a form of cheating, and should be met by harder actions.

There was the Renault incident in F1 as well, back in 2008. Nelson Piquet Jr. was instructed to crash out the race in order to help team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race, as a safety car was deployed. It led to bans for team boss Flavio Briatore, yet no action against Piquet Jr., as he ‘fully co-operated in uncovering’ the story. Does this mean he should have got away scot free, despite having his own mind and the ability to still say ‘no’?

Cheating should not be condoned in any sport. It should be met with lifetime bans, massive fines, and criminal action if needs be. If we don’t, there is a risk that the future sportsmen and sportswomen of this world will consider cheating okay, and that sporting competition is corrupt, and that’s normal. We need to stamp out the cheats before it’s far, far too late.

Agree with me? Want to add your tuppence worth? Follow me on Twitter – I’m @Adam9309 – or find me on my own blog!

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Inspiration Invitations: Poppy Dinsey

Originally posted on General Musings of an Idiot.

In the lead-up to Christmas, I always start some form of ‘blog sets’, as I call them – posts with a shared meaning. This year, or certainly to start off with, I want to write about the people who inspire me, and who have made me do something, achieve something, or aspire to something. It’s called ‘Inspiration Invitations’ – cos I want them to inspire you, too.

Back at the start of 2010, I discovered a blog that I had been told about via the means of Twitter, and immediately followed it. It was so different to anything I’d seen before – new, interesting, a genius idea, a great back story, and a woman wonderfully outspoken, but with dignity, integrity, and with that bit of grit you really want to see from every blogger.

That was Poppy Dinsey, and the blog was What I Wore Today.

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If you’re an avid reader of GMOAI, you’ll know I have a bit of an obsession with What I Wore Today, and I tell you all every so often quite how brilliant it is. This may be a tiny blog in a tiny part of the internet, but if I can just make one person have a look and enjoy it, then even better.

Poppy is a massive inspiration for me. The blog was originally a post a day from Poppy’s wardrobe – a New Years’ Resolution in order to wear more clothes accumulated over the years stashed in her wardrobe. The blog grew and grew, becoming more and more functional, with more and more people getting interested and having a look each and every day, and earlier this year, it became a social network for fashion lovers everywhere. A photo is uploaded, tagged with the items you are wearing, and starred by people if they like it. You can then be directed straight to the top, or pair of jeans, or shoes, or whatever, and buy it straight from the site. She even has a bloody iPhone app, for God’s sake.

It wasn’t what her blog became though – it was how she did it. She didn’t let it all go to her head – she was still very true to herself, and the blog grew around her, rather than her growing around the blog. Obviously, there was an element of that, but you know what I mean…. No big-hitting ego, no monstrous claims, no selling-out to the big boys of the online world. It’s still the same old Poppy that we know and love – the sweary, interesting, no qualms, brilliant Poppy.

So why has she inspired me?! For exactly that. Her vision for her blog has made it such a monumental hit, and that’s what is so interesting about it all. There’s no doubting who Poppy is, because she’s the same across everything. It’s really been quite brilliant watching the blog grow, seeing her gain the fame the blog deserves, and I’m really excited about where the future takes it all too.

If it weren’t for Poppy, I’d certainly never have started My Food Revolution, and posted 365 different meals on a blog. And then the domino effect begins – other blogs wouldn’t be where they are, I wouldn’t have gained the work experience I got, I wouldn’t have met the people I did and I wouldn’t have been anywhere near the person and blogger I am now. So in some ways I have Poppy to thank for everything my blogs have led me to so far.

This coming Thursday, I’ll finally meet Poppy at the 140 Characters exhibition, hopefully have a photo taken and be able to tag it and upload it to WIWT. Knowing me, mind you, and the way I get so bloody starstruck, I’ll just cower in a corner and wave politely.

She will have gained better, more acclaimed praise elsewhere – through her numerous newspaper and magazine interviews, the comments people leave all over the net, and also through her Twitter feed. I dunno if she’ll ever find this, but I hope eventually it appears on her Google Alerts and she’ll smile that she actually helped change someone’s life.

Poppy really has inspired me, What I Wore Today has inspired my blogs, and I hope that both will now inspire you. I really do.

To follow Poppy on Twitter, click here, or to find out what all the fuss about, click here to go to What I Wore Today.

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Tantrums, Papers & A Bit Of Trash Talk: MUFC September 2011 – Present

Originally posted on Stretty News.

There are all sorts of reports in the press this morning of potential moves and transfers that we could see at Old Trafford in both January and next summer. It’s something we haven’t seen in a while, and talks of a ‘crisis’ are now everywhere since the 6-1 loss to Manchester City.

Many are saying that there could be an exodus over the next couple of transfer windows in order to trim back the deadwood, slash the wage bill and give Sir Alex an opportunity to revitalise and reignite the squad. Anderson, Owen, Rio Ferdinand, Macheda, Diouf, Gibson and Kuszczak could all be shown the door, with Eden Hazard linked to join the club in a £22m deal next summer to spearhead the new-look midfield. There’s also talk of Milos Krasic joining from Juventus, or even a big-money move for Napoli playmaker Marek Hamsik – linked to the club since he burst onto the scene in Serie A in 2008.

We haven’t even mentioned whispers of a move for Philipp Lahm to plug the hole at right-back, or talk of triggering the buy-back clause in Ryan Shawcross’ contract at Stoke. It could be a big summer in order to play catch-up with City.

We’ve seen from the last few games that an off-form Rooney can be pivotal in the team, and affects everyone. A big hole in midfield is there for all to see, with there being a large void where Paul Scholes used to be. We can’t blame everything on a lack of midfield, and we can’t moan that the poor performances have nothing to do with it, but at the end of the day, we still have absolutely no chance of filling that midfield with the current crop we have in our squad.

There was also a report this afternoon that Ferguson is ‘past it’. The man who has been in charge for 25 years, overseen several transformations in his time, won 37 trophies and titles, and he still isn’t good enough anymore… Funnily enough, this report has been utterly ripped into and destroyed by not only United fans, but football fans too. It’s ridiculous that it was even written about and considered.

We’ve seen a great start of the season surpassed by a dominant City side, and a few injuries and egos causing issues in the dressing room. We need to sort this as soon as possible, before this season is remembered as the one City became the dominant side.

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