The Premier League Is Back – Football Banter Podcast

It’s back and it’s better than ever! The team review the first weekend’s action of the 2012/13 season…

Does The Signing Of Robin Van Persie Shift The Power

Manchester United’s recent acquisition of Dutch striker Robin Van Persie has been cited by many as the signing that shifts the power back in United’s favour and out of Manchester City’s hands.

Van Persie is a good player, no doubt about that but I’m not sure he’s what United have been missing. At times United have looked a bit light at the back – possibly due to a bit of bad luck with injuries to defenders last season, and very light in midfield. Van Persie of course may push Rooney back to playing more like an attacking midfielder, but the good start to the season from Shinji Kagawa suggests that he’s set on claiming that position as his own.

United have bought well over the summer, they strengthened where they needed to but whether they have the squad to compete with City remains to be seen. Many would suggest that what United really needed was a successor to Paul Scholes. Easier said than done. Ferguson has tried unsuccessfully for years to find a successor to Scholes, players of that calibre are few and far between and perhaps more importantly, out of United’s price range. If City, Madrid or Barcelona want a player badly enough, they find the money. United have to be a little more cautious.

Perhaps Van Persie could be the difference between the Manchester clubs this season, but he will need to stay fit, something which he struggled with during his Arsenal career. Van Persie averaged just 24 league games a season during his time in London. United will need a lot more from the Dutchman.

Business As Usual On Opening Weekend

The first day of the 2012/13 Premier League season was supposed to show us what we’d been missing, new faces were on show, particularly in the dug-outs where AVB took charge of Spurs and Brendan Rodgers oversaw Liverpool.

Unsurprisingly, Arsenal without talismanic striker Robin Van Persie who will be wearing the red of Manchester United this season struggled to score in their opening match against Sunderland. Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud will be even more aware of the pressures they face after failing to hit the net.

Elsewhere Spurs’ gamble on Andre Villas-Boas could really prove to be the talking point of the season. Spurs were beaten by Alan Pardew’s Newcastle who have started the new season where they left the last.

Liverpool took an absolute pasting at the hands of West Brom, perhaps it could have been a different story had Luis Suarez not have been so wasteful in front of goal in the first half (déjà vu anyone?). Brendan Rodgers is a man with a big challenge ahead of him.

It would be stupid to draw conclusions from the opening day’s games, particularly as we haven’t seen a lot of the teams yet but that’s exactly what we’re going to do…

Liverpool won’t make the top 4 this season, nor will Spurs. Manchester City will win the league with Manchester United running them close, Robin Van Persie will become injured at a crucial time. Newcastle will once again narrowly miss out on the top 4. Somehow Arsenal will make it however with Chelsea finishing third.

Feel free to mock us in the comments when we are proved completely wrong. Or just do it now, either way is good.

The Baron would be shaking his head

“Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on The joy of effort, the educational value of a good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.” Baron De Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics.
Quite what the Baron would make of the super yachts, led by Roman and George Clooney, moored by a beach on the Thames is anyone’s guess but I suspect it was not his first thought when creating the Olympic ideal.
Before we all nod in agreement, the Premier League will begin with more than half of its teams foreign owned and half a dozen more in the Championship. Those without such an owner crave it each season as they battle to compete. Any Everton fans out there shouting no if Sheikh Mega Wad comes calling? Of course not. The ship has already sailed (terrible pun) in terms of corporate ownership but allow me to still bristle when managers, owners and even players talk about “projects” and the “business model” when they mean rebuilding because they aren’t very good.

We will stick with it because we love it and cannot walk away. However, in the week when Nottingham Forest join the foreign barmy army, I still yearn for the old days when Cloughie could clip a pitch invader around the ear and be applauded rather than landed with a litigation claim.

Off now to get my knee blanket and a Horlicks…

John Terry Is Not A Racist

Contrary to popular belief current Chelsea captain John Terry is actually not a racist and he even has a badge to prove it (that’s what they give people who win their court cases isn’t it?).

Terry who was stripped of the England captaincy as a result of his involvement with the case will be a relieved man today as he was found not guilty of racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.

Terry celebrated by removing his pale grey suit to reveal a full Chelsea kit plus shin pads and was met outside the court by good friend Liverpool’s Luis Suarez. Terry punched the air as the best friends strolled off in the sunset in the direction of Kenny Dalglish’s house.

Balotelli to Become a Father?

Manchester City and Italy striker Mario Balotelli is set to become a father, ex-girlfriend Raffaella Fico has revealed.

KIEV, UKRAINE - JULY 01:  Mario Balotelli of I...

KIEV, UKRAINE - JULY 01: Mario Balotelli of Italy cries as he shows his dejection following defeat in the UEFA EURO 2012 final match between Spain and Italy at the Olympic Stadium on July 1, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

“I phoned him before the Germany game and told him I was expecting his child,” Fico told Chi magazine. “After a brief moment of silence, he told me that I had given him the best news in the world.”

Balotelli and Fico had been in a relationship until they separated on April 29. “I found out in mid-May,” she added.

“I went to a chemist outside of Milan and bought a pregnancy test. I found out that I was expecting, but I only told my mother and brother.”

Given the news, the couple are set to try to patch up their relationship. “Mario and I are rebuilding,” she continued.

“Mario has never stopped loving me. He’ll be a playful father and a sweet, loving and kind partner.

“Those who think that I would have wanted to trap a rich footballer will have to think again. I do not need the money.

“The truth is that we both wanted this child. He told me at Christmas that he wanted to marry me and have kids – I accepted.

“What happened then happened, but one thing is for certain – the child will have the Balotelli surname with pride.”

Mario Balotelli has released a statement confirming he has split up from Raffaella Fico and will “take responsibility when I have proof of paternity.”

The showgirl told newspapers on Monday that she was expecting Mario’s child and they would be giving their relationship another try, but the Italy and Manchester City striker has now released a statement.

“Even if I would’ve preferred not to talk about my private life in public, I find myself forced to intervene in order to clarify, once and for all, my relationship with Raffaella Fico.

“Our relationship concluded at the end of April and since then we have not seen each other nor had contact.

“I have no longer had anything to do with her life and Raffaella has no longer had anything to do with my life. Raffaella knows full well that from the moment we split up, I did not have and do not have any intention of getting back together with her.

“In any case, out of respect for everything we had together, I never wanted to talk about her, not even when false things were said and written.

“A few days ago I heard from a third party that Raffaella was pregnant. Because of this, I decided to contact her and only after my question asking if she was pregnant did she confirm it was true.

“I am very disappointed, as I don’t think it’s normal to not let someone know until the fourth month. I don’t understand why she didn’t contact me immediately to tell me something so important.

“I will take responsibility when I have proof of my paternity. I am very irritated that this matter has been monetised by selling photographs and interviews.

“I think Raffaella is famous enough that she doesn’t have to use this story for publicity purposes too. This is the first and last time I will talk about this in public and so I have no intention of giving a response, regardless of what Raffaella says or writes.”

Is this the beginning of the new Balotelli? Becoming a father may be just what Mario needs to finally settle down and stop his crazy antics. With a more mature Balotelli on the field we may finally see him reach his full potential and that is what all football fans will want to see.