London – VIJAY SHAH via WIL JONES, Joe and other sources
While yesterday’s 2-0 win by England over Sweden in Samara for the World Cup 2018 was a perfect example of largely orderly and civil sportsmanship, a group of the England team’s supporters have come in for heavy criticism for behaving quite the opposite, after they invaded an IKEA store in London and partied in a show bedroom, with several men jumping on a double bed meant for display to customers visiting the Swedish-owned homeware and furniture store.
In videos that has gone viral on social media, a group of half-naked men, swigging beer and in an exuberant mood after the victory that advanced England to the quarter-finals, can be seen converging just inside the entrance of an IKEA store in the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, London. Chanting the football song “It’s Coming Home”, the men, largely in their twenties and thirties, are shown jumping up and down on the bed, while throwing around cushions and other items on display. In one clip a member of staff pleads with one of the fans to get down from the bed, while another, behind a till, shakes her head in disbelief.
While many on social media expressed surprise at the impromptu celebration-turned-vandalism/store invasion, others have condemned the fans in the IKEA store. One called for them to be named and shamed, and their identities turned over to IKEA and the city’s Metropolitan Police for civil damages and prosecution. They were also accused of bringing both England and football into disrepute and exhibiting hooligan-like behaviour. A small number of commentators however said that the men were merely having fun and that the negative reaction was overkill.
As of the time of publishing, IKEA’s UK retail division appeared to take the incident in their stride, commenting on one of the videos: “We are aware of a small group of fans celebrating the match result in one of our stores. Being both British and Swedish, we were on the edge of our seats during the game and we would like to say ‘grattis!’ (congratulations)”
Ilford – VIJAY SHAH via ELLENA CRUSE and Ilford Recorder
A shop owner of Indian heritage, who was allegedly abused by racists and warned off his show of support by a fellow Indian after adorning his business with the flag of St. George in support of the England World Cup football team has vowed to fight back against the prejudice he suffered by increasing the number of flags flying at his shop, the Ilford Recorder newspaper reported today.
The unnamed owner of GMS Heating & Plumbing Spares, Ilford Lane, in the London-Essex town of Ilford, a Sikh Punjabi, declared his backing of the ‘Three Lions’ team by placing the distinctive red-and-white cross of England around the outside of his store, as well as a string of smaller flags of all the national teams in the World Cup across the shopfront.
The decorations riled some locals, who did not understand why a person of Indian origin was supporting England, even though he had lived in the country for forty years and had been supporting the national team for twenty years. Staff at GMS began receiving hate mail and letters criticising their manager’s allegiances. One handwritten missive accused the manager of forgetting his heritage and disavowing his culture and skin colour. The rambling letter went on to say that if National Front racists had seen the flags, the shop owner would have been ” [kicked] back to Indian with out (sic) your trousers on and give you flower (sic) to take”
The note, written anonymously and addressing the GMS owner as ‘Uncle’, annoyed the man and he has vowed to now add more England flags to his football display.
The manager told the Recorder that the letters would not stop him supporting his favourite side, but that it had cast a shadow over the store’s World Cup celebrations.
“It is shocking how backward minded people think that by supporting the country you live in you will be dishonouring our religion or insulting India,” he added.
“These are the wrong people, not the ones who enjoy being part of the English culture.”
David Landau, a senior caseworker at the local people relations charity Redbridge Equalities and Community Council, said abuse in any form should not be tolerated and needs to be reported.
“This is a rather unusual situation but abuse is abuse and if someone is abused for putting up England flags this is wrong,” he said.
“It shouldn’t be happening and racism needs to be condemned.”
Another South Asian-owned business on the same Ilford road, which runs through the far west of the town along the border with Newham, also reported receiving similar letters after they also flew English flags outside their premises.
London – VIJAY SHAH and TOM HORTON via Newham Recorder
East London is to lose another long-time landmark after a business that specialises in selling the area’s traditional delicacy of jellied eels alongside hot football match snacks announced it would be calling time after eighty years in business, according to a report by the local newspaper, the Newham Recorder.
Nathan’s Pies and Eels, based in Barking Road, Upton Park, near the former Boleyn Stadium of the football club West Ham United, is a ‘pie and mash’ shop, a restaurant selling traditional London food such as steak and kidney pies and mashed potato It has been run by the Nathan family since it first opened eighty years ago, with forty of those years spent at the same Barking Road site. The shop was very popular with football fans travelling in to watch West Ham play, with its traditional East London fare a highly sought after introduction to local cuisine.
The shop was opened by the great-grandfather of current owner Richard Nathan. However, since West Ham United moved to the former Olympic Stadium in nearby Stratford in 2016, Nathan’s steadily lost business and, in addition to many of its staff nearing retirement age, forcing the shop to reconsider its future. Richard plans to keep it business as usual until the 26th of May this year when Nathan’s will serve its last pie. In its heyday, the small shop was frequented by even the giants of the West Ham locker room, such as Rio Ferdinand and Julian Dicks, during the glory days of the 1990s and 2000s
Speaking with the Newham Recorder, Nathan said the closure of the café would be a ‘sad day’ for the Nathan family, the shop staff and fans of it’s hunger-busting pies and mash, and that the closure was ‘the end of an era’.
“It’s a bit cheesy, but we are like a big family”, Nathan said of his close-knit staff, many of whom have worked at the café for years.
The owner of Nathan’s Pies and Eels himself plans to retrain as a handyman after the shop ceases trading in less than two weeks, the Recorder said. The café has been inundated with condolences and cards from well-wishers.
The BBC reported yesterday that 17 people have been killed after a stampede at a football stadium in the town of Uíge in Angola, according to local officials.
Hundreds of injuries, of which five people were seriously injured, from the crush have also been reported, after fans rushed the stadium entrance after they were prevented from entering. Many of the deaths resulted from people falling to the ground or being trapped, then suffocated, according to a medic on the scene.
The stadium, in the north of Angola was hosting a match between Santa Rita de Cassia, the home team and visiting side Recreativo do Libolo. The match was so sought after that the venue quickly filled to its 8,000 seat capacity, when more fans began to show up at the gates demanding entry. They were prevented from entering the stadium as it was full. As people began to storm the gates, fatalities started mounting.
Ernesto Luis, the general director of Uíge’s main hospital, told the Reuters news agency that “Some people had to walk on top of other people. There were 76 casualties, of whom 17 died,”
Recreativo do Libolo released a statement regarding the incident on their website, stating that it was “a tragedy without precedent in the history of Angolan football”.
One eyewitness, named by the BBC as Domingos Vika, reported that the stadium’s entrance was already overcrowded, when more fans began ‘pouring in’ sparking the crush.
“When they gave the opportunity for everyone to come in, we were all packed at the gate,” said Mr Vika, who left the venue with a broken hand.
Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ordered an investigation into the incident, local media have reported.
Current caretaker England football team manager and former international star Gareth Southgate has said he will undergo an interview for the manager’s job this Monday, ESPN FC reported via PA Sports yesterday.
Southgate has been the interim manager after previous incumbent Sam Allardyce was expelled from the role last September after becoming embroiled in a corruption scandal concerning players, their agents and FIFA. According to the FA (Football Association, the governing body of English football) chief executive Martin Glenn, Southgate has said he wants to make the role permanent and the two will hold further talks on the matter at the start of next week, ESPN reports.
Before taking over from the disgraced Allardyce, Southgate was head of the England under-21s side. He quickly assumed managerial position after Allardyce was caught on camera telling an undercover reporter from the Daily Telegraph newspaper ‘controversial comments’ about overriding FIFA rules concerning player purchases.
So far, Southgate has shown some promise in the role. In addition to his many years of experience at the top end of English football, Southgate has now overseen two wins and two draws of the four matches under his guidance.
It is not known if anyone else is also been interviewed for the manager’s post. Glenn refused to be drawn into naming other candidates, citing confidentiality in the FA’s interviewing processes. He only went as far as saying that Southgate was one of their stronger choices.
He added: “Not just [because] the facts of the last four games have shown a lot of signs of encouragement but the fact he’s worked in the FA for the last couple of years.
”He’s run the Under-21s well, he understands how the international set-up works so we’re going to be having discussions with him in the coming weeks to really understand what his learnings are, what his ambition for the England team is and really, really understand that well and then we’ll take a considered view.”
Gareth Southgate was born in Watford, a commuter town north of London in 1970 and began his playing career at London side Crystal Palace as a central midfielder. His prowess on the pitch soon led him to captain the side and saw them win the 1993/1994 First Division cup. He later transferred to Aston Villa before eventually becoming manager of Middlesbrough in 2006, after joining them five years earlier. He also made appearances internationally starting with Euro 1996, the 1998 World Cup and then again at Euro 2000. In 2013 he began his first national position as head of the youth side for England.
New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who watched his team steer to an impressive 2-0 victory over Southampton FC at home yesterday, revealed today how he convinced star Belgian international Marouane Fellaini to shine since the beginning of this season and the first matches of the ex-Chelsea manager’s tenure at the Red Devils.
So far, under the ‘Special One’s ‘ leadership, Manchester United have successfully held against both Southampton and Bournemouth. Fellaini, famed for his impressive skills and height, not to mention his distinctive golden Afro hairstyle had put in much effort in the central attack in both Premier League wins this past week alongside Ander Herrera and new £40 million signing Paul Pogba. The manager said a phone call he made to the Belgian helped bring about a ‘change in the relationship’ between him and Fellaini, he told Manchester United’s football news team.
After the Red Devils’ fast-paced triumph yesterday evening, Mourinho was quick to praise Fellaini and revealed the phone call, made earlier this summer as Mourinho was easing into his new role and anxious to prove his worth in the eyes of his players.
“Fellaini is playing well,” Mourinho told reporters after the final whistle at Old Trafford. “It’s a complete change in the relationship and I am happy with the result. Maybe a simple phone call can make a difference to a player who was feeling he was not loved, to a player who when the [transfer] market opened everyone was saying he was leaving. Everyone was saying he wasn’t for me.
“Maybe a simple phone call then, after my presentation as Manchester United manager, changed a lot. I said to him, ‘Forget everything you read. With me you don’t leave, for sure’,” he continued.
“Maybe that confidence in him was unexpected. The more organised the team is, the easier it is for players to feel confident. He has played will with Michael Carrick, he has played well with Ander Herrera, he has played well with Paul [Pogba].”
Mourinho also had praises for the strong support of the team’s fans, who came out in force yesterday to see the Devils steam ahead with two impressive goals from the formidable Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He also further emphasised the improved relationships and strength of his squad.
“I am very happy,” he said. “The crowd was magnificent and they are creating a good relationship with the team, with the players. Even players who in previous years I could feel the relationship wasn’t the best.
“I’m happy with the result and the performance [against Southampton]. It’s difficult for us to be better in this moment. The opponents are good, they have good quality. You have to be mentally strong to cope with it but then we score goals and we are always in control.
“I think Pogba and Ibrahimovic were very, very good, but I could say the same about Mkhitaryan in the last 20 minutes when he showed his quality. What pleases me more is the others rising to a different level like Valencia and Blind, and I’ve already mentioned Marouane.”
Manchester will next face Hull City away at the KC Stadium on Saturday 27th August 2016 at 5.30pm.
One of the biggest transfer rumours of this new football season is the talk of the town. Reports are coming in of a possible sale of the Bayern Munich forward and German national squad member Thomas Müller to English club Manchester United where he could potentially pocket a hefty £1 million per week. The Red Devils apparently want to put up £60 million for Müller as they seek to capitalise on a recent run of good fortune under the patronage of former Bayern Munich manager Louis van Gaal. They hope by offering him a significant increase on his current £135,000-a-week wages plus the fact that his former teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger had already moved to Old Trafford, it might be an incentive for him to come over, even if it means Müller making a formal request to leave Bayern and break his contract.
A United source quoted in the Daily Star said: “He is the one the club wants more than anyone else.
“With him in the side, United could genuinely challenge for major honours again and they are willing to break the bank to get him.
“But he will have to force the issue himself and make it clear he wants to leave Bayern. It is all down to him now.”
The Daily Mirrorreported on Thursday (20 August) that Müller’s agent had expressed an interest in sending his player over to Old Trafford, who recently signed up new star Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven. Depay, who was bought for a cool £25 million, has already made his money’s worth by scoring two stunning goals in his first match of play versus Club Brugge in a 3-1 Champions’ League playoff.
According to theDaily Mailhowever, Bayern are keen to retain their superstar, having previously deflected an offer from Arsenal to acquire the formidable forward, one of the most invincible elements of the German top flight team’s attack formation. Müller, according to the Mail, has said that he has a ‘special relationship‘ with Man. Utd’s boss Louis van Gaal, something which will inevitably make any transition to the red shirt much easier on the 25-year-old, who currently commands a yearly salary of nearly five million euros. Likewise, another report in the Mail’s football section stated that van Gaal is a ‘keen admirer’ of the striker. Van Gaal once managed the player at Bayern and made him a key part of the team during his spell in charge at the club between 2009 and 2011, with Kicker magazine previously describing Müller as Van Gaal’s ‘star pupil’.
More confusingly, van Gaal himself has said that buying another forward is not his priority right now, with two good forwards already in the bag. New signing Depay and Adnan Januzaj are currently holding the fort and their impressive forms could mean there is no need to add more muscle at least this season.
Meanwhile back at Bayern, the rumours are being quashed by the club’s chief executive officer Karl-Heinze Rummenigge. In a message to Bayern’s supporters, Rummenigge stated that he “will not let another player leave for Manchester United” after losing Bastian Schweinsteiger to them recently. Rummenigge and other top Bayern officials have also stated that the striker has ‘no price tag’, possibly meaning they are not looking to value him for any possible sale to Man. Utd. or any other team. Müller has in any case still a contract running until 2017 or 2019, depending on the source, and there is no word on whether he has a get-out-early clause in that document.
Eventually, Thomas Müller himself came to the media to talk about the rumours, which have been neither denied or confirmed by Manchester United senior figures. In a report by the Daily Mirror, Müller rubbished reports that United are prepared to spend €100 million on him as ‘crazy’. The claim has originally been reported in the sensationalist German tabloid Bild.
“It’s basically crazy the numbers which are currently kicking around in football – that’s just business,” Muller told German broadcaster Sport1.
Müller also saw the funny side of the endless speculation in the UK tabloids and sports media on this past Monday, when he played in a testimonial match against Dynamo Dresden.
“In Dresden, a fan addressed me with a megaphone: ‘Hey €100m man, what is your playing shirt worth?’ That made me smile,” Müller added.
The keen interest in Thomas Müller from Manchester United has not gone unnoticed by his Bayern teammates. Dutch national Arjen Robben told ESPN sports news channel that he could understand why Müller would be flattered by the attention and could easily be tempted. Robben himself was also a Manchester target by van Gaal, but did not make good on the move.
“First of all, I am not sure if it really is true that Thomas Müller receives such an offer but in general it is always nice for a player when such a big club is interested,” the Netherlands international told reporters. “We’re all human and have feelings.
“Receiving such an offer is flattering but it doesn’t automatically mean that you are leaving the club. I think the players like it here and Bayern is one of the biggest clubs in the world. I love it here.
“But it is always nice when other big clubs are interested — you feel honoured. Sometimes then you choose to go, but sometimes you stay.”
If Müller did decide to move to Manchester United, then what would he bring to the team and to the field? Number-crunching journalists at the Trinity Mirror Data Unit decided to look at his vital stats to see if he would become one of van Gaal’s ‘golden boys’. Since the start of the 2012/2013 season, Müller has scored an impressive 41 league goals for Bayern, which makes him the Bundesliga’s fourth highest goalscorer of the past four seasons, behind Robert Lewandowski (62 goals), Stefan Kießling (50) and Alexander Meier (43). He has netted fifteen per cent of the 277 goals Bayern have scored in that time, so a fairly hefty percentage. Eight of those goals have been against sides that finished in the top six of the Bundesliga.
Since the 2012/2013 season, Müller has also set up a further 31 goals, the same as French superstar Franck Ribéry. The figures therefore speak for themselves. Though Manchester have a strong team of world-class players who are doing better and better under Louis van Gaal’s experienced leadership, Müller could well prove to be a valuable asset and a useful tool in the box for United to rise to glory again. His maturity, technique and unorthodox approach to setting up and delivering goals has made him a cult figure in German football and he could well make that magic work cohesively in United’s game formulation.
Thomas Müller was born on the 13th of September 1989 in Weilheim in Oberbayern. He has been praised for his positioning, team work and stamina, and has shown consistency in scoring and creating goals. He has been with Bayern through almost all of his footballing career and came up through their youth team, and became established in the main side when Louis van Gaal was manager in the 2009/2010 season, the same time as he was called up for the German national team where he scored five goals in six appearances. Only two years ago, he had pledged his career to Bayern saying that “there is no club to step up from when you leave FC Bayern … there almost is no better club.“
Most of this article was written at Informa’s Knect House in Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia, London with additional writing, formatting and layout done at HEM HQ in Plaistow, London.
New Year’s Day may have been a time of happiness for most, but for the Scottish football club Rangers FC, their fans and for many in Scotland, New Year’s Day 2011 was a time for remembrance for 66 fans who perished in a stampede at the club’s ground in Glasgow forty years ago at the time of the memorial service, which took place in January. The Ibrox disaster of 1971 also saw 200 people injured in the darkest day of the team’s history.
Thousands of people gathered at the Rangers FC home ground in Glasgow in January 2011 to remember one of the darkest chapters in Glaswegian and Scottish football history, reported The Scotsman newspaper today in a past New Year’s events commemoration. Four years ago, the special service was attended by relatives, families and friends of those who died. Many survivors of the Ibrox disaster, despite the onset of old age, also attended to pay their respects to their fallen friends. At the time of the disaster, a match between Rangers and their rivals Celtic was taking place and players from both teams also honoured those who died at the service.
They made a vow to always remember those who perished in the disaster, in which fans attempting to leave the stadium were crushed to death as they tried to leave through overcrowded gates after the conclusion of the game. The incident occurred on the Stairway 13 part of the Old Firm’s Ibrox Stadium, then called Ibrox Park. At that time, 80,000 fans were on the stalls for the Rangers vs. Celtic clash and safety concerns had been raised about the standard of Ibrox’s passageways after two fans died in an earlier stampede. Among the dead in the 1971 disaster included several children, including five school friends from the town of Markinch in Fife. Rangers FC admitted responsibility for the disaster and were later sued by several families of victims.
The tragedy was described by Martin Bain, Rangers’ chief executive, as a “tragedy beyond belief“, according to The Scotsman.
The service was attended by around 5,000 people, including past and present Rangers players, including John Greig, the team captain at the time of the disaster, whose statue forms part of a memorial to the victims of both the 1971 tragedy and a similar incident that occurred at the turn of last century. The Celtic side were represented by manager Neil Lennon, chairman John Reid and chief executive Peter Lawwell.
Victims’ relatives and the footballers placed bouquets of blue and white flowers, the team colours of Rangers at the stand as the current manager Walter Smith, a survivor of the tragedy, and Greig solemnly read out the names of the fans who did not return home that fateful day. As the act of commemoration, several relatives were reported to have turned and saluted to the stand where their loved ones watched the game.
The Celtic chairman then also laid a wreath in his team’s colours of green and white before the crowd, who had gathered at the Govan East Corner area of the stadium, fell silent for two minutes as an act of remembrance. Following this, the Rangers chief executive addressed the mourners, describing the events of January 1971 as an “unimaginable horror“.
He said “January 2, 1971, is a date that will be forever etched deeply into the soul of the Rangers family. Each year we remember with the heaviest of hearts and wish for all the world that the fate of those on Stairway 13 had been so different.
“Forty years may now have passed, but as Willie Waddell said at the time, the scar is deep. It still is, and always will be.”
Martin Bain then went on to recollect to the gathered how Rangers and Celtic put aside their sporting rivalry to rally together and support each other, both fans and officials.
“Rivalries do run deep – sometimes too deep – but at the core of it all is a common bond, and that is a love of football,” he explained. “A game of football should and does bring joy, happiness, frustration and disappointment in different measure, but it should never bring tragedy and disaster.“
To the relatives and friends of those lost, and those who survived Stairway 13, his message was a simple one of remembrance.
“We cannot fully comprehend your grief, your anguish, your torment, or your suffering, but we can come together today to offer you our comfort,” he vowed. “There is a heartfelt desire among all of us to remember and never forget.“
The service was presided over by local Christian clergy, in particular the Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie, who himself was a survivor who was watching the match from the Copland Road terracing at the time the crush occurred. Rev. MacQuarrie described the tragic events as a “personal tragedy” for the families left behind.
After the Reverend’s address, a lifelong Rangers fan, Ian Loch, another survivor, read an extract from a speech famous among the club’s fans. Entitled ‘To Be a Ranger‘, it was originally delivered by past manager, Bill Struth.
“No matter the days of anxiety that come our way, we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome,” he told the crowd. “That has been the philosophy of the Rangers since the days of the gallant pioneers.”
There was also a musical element to the memorial service as the Glasgow Philharmonic Male Voice Choir and the Salvation Army and Govan Citadel band led the crowd in the hymns The Lord is My Shepherd, Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah and Follow On. A large banner was seen suspended from the Bill Struth Stand, which stated: ‘In our hearts forever’. Several Scottish figureheads of government and religion also paid their respects along with fans, including the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Bob Winter, Nicola Sturgeon, then the country’s Deputy First Minister, the Right Rev John Christie, the moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, and the Most Rev Mario Conti, Glasgow’s archbishop.
I grew up playing both wrestling and footballvideo gamesmyself. I and my younger brothers are all great football and wrestling fans and we would supplement watching intense battles of the ring and the pitch with battles against each other on our PS2 console. Whether it wasReal MadridagainstManchester Unitedon FIFA 2012, finessing our bicycle kick skills onPro Evolution Soccer, we had the time of our lives in front of the big screen. I still remember my brothers Azzy and Suraj creating wrestlers based on family members on theSmackdownrelease from probably around 2009 and then setting them up in duels against the Bigshow orBrock Lesnar. Nowadays both Azzy and Suraj regularly tussle for bragging rights onFIFA 14, while my youngest Arjun has found his calling as a football manager with some top names on his team and a very busy inbox thanks to the agents constantly negotiating player transfers with his alter ego, ‘Buju Banton’.
FIFA 15 is published byEA Sports, a subdivision of the Electronic Arts (EA) game developer. A football simulation game, it is in the final stages of development byEA’sCanadian arm and is scheduled for public release on the 23 September 2014 inNorth America, before being released in mainland Europe on the 25th and inthe United Kingdomon the 26th. FIFA 15 will be available for the PlayStation 3 and 4, PlayStation Vita,Xbox One,Xbox 360,Microsoft Windows,IOSandAndroid. On PC, this game runs on EA’sIgniteengine and boasts the same features as the PS4 and Xbox One editions. The front cover will featureLionel Messiof FC Barcelona. Posed as though he was charging around the pitch, Mr. Messi has been a hallmark of the game’s cover since FIFA 13, when he replaced Wayne Rooney of Manchester United. There will be regional variations on the covers though, so for example for Swiss fans, Xherdan Shaqiri of that country’s national side will appear alongside Messi. There will also be two versions of the title, the Standard edition and an Ultimate Team edition which will cost fans more but comes with limited edition goodies, both in and outside the game.
According to British tabloidMetro, EA Sports have promised that FIFA 15 will be their most realistic football game yet, with some observers saying that it will revolutionise gameplay for the 21st century completely, although some supporters of the Arsenal football team who have seen pre-released screenshot of their players, Mesut Ozil, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere on Twitter claim that the appearance of the players on FIFA 15 is far from accurate, with one wag claiming that Ozil resembled a ‘zombie or some kind of monster’. Despite the inevitable complications that come from rendering player’s looks in computer pixels, the pre-release hype for FIFA fans has been kept ablaze with special releases of screenshots, tidbits and rumours about what the game will feature and what exactly the improvements will be. There have been reports that a pre-issue demo of the game is in circulation, with Martin Robinsonof Eurogamer claiming as such, according to theBleacher Report.TheBleacher Reportalso claims that there are ‘rumblings’ from an organisation called the FIFAU Teamthat the demo will consist ofeight teams, two game modes and will appear on September 9. These rumours are of course, just that and nothing concrete has been confirmed by EA Sports or the licenser FIFA.
According to the developers, FIFA 15 will be the first game of the series to feature ’emotional intelligence’. A new and advanced AI machine means that your players will have their own memories of previous matches and will display emotion based on the outcome of the match. So if Balotelli gets sent off yet again, you will know he won’t look too pleased about it, and if you lift the cup, the players look as happy as you would be if you earned their massive salaries. This is a massive improvement on both previous titles and other rival football gaming titles, as there the players usually are expressionless and game developers were more interested in creating footballers with skills and the package to deliver on the hallowed turf rather than the niceties of a few facial expressions. Each player now possesses over 600 emotional states, responding with gusto to bad tackles, near-misses on goal and the spectacular epic goals. They probably won’t swear at the camera or flip a bird at a red-faced coach but FIFA 15 guarantees to make gameplay almost as convincing as watching a match yourself.
The fans too will be more responsive and realistic, with actual chants and crowd behaviours tailored to each individual team or national side. The game also has advanced bench reactions, side-line character animations, ten-man goal celebrations and more to keep you firmly interested in the progress of the match. Those matches against your friends are about to get that little bit more emotional.
You can create and manage your own teams far more easily. You can customise up to six different team sheets per club and adapt your formations, tactics and star players based on the opponent, which will make FIFA 15 perfect for aspiring managers and those who really look for the finer details in formulating that winning eleven. Goalkeepers have also been upgraded, with fifty new save animations and improved goalsaving AI. Witness breath-stopping and improved save reactions at the last second supplemented with realistic tips and deflections. You will learn to fear this goalie’s fingertips. Outside the goal, team members will react convincingly to changing play, just like real-life players. New team tactics, such as ‘Park the Bus‘ and ‘In The Mixer’ will be some cool team play features on offer in FIFA 15.
The graphics are far more advanced too. Gone are the stiff, wooden and slightly pixelated player of old, and say hello to players with fluid movement and painstaking detail in their appearance and kit. Shadows and shirt creases are reproduced faithfully, which shows that FIFA 15 really does have its eye on the ball…and on the little details. The players will look and feel powerful and athletic, and even the kits will flutter realistically as your strikers charge down towards that quick-as-lightning goalkeeper. Indeed such is the attention to detail, that even small things such as debris on the pitch, skid marks from footballers’ boots, LED advertisement hoardings and the fluttering of corner flags are there in glorious lifelike three dimensions. They have really done their research here.
The players tackle in style, with shirt-pulling and shoulder barges something to contend with when getting that ball off your opponent. Once you have won the ball, prepare to be amazed as your dribbling and touches of boot on ball are more realistic and believable. Footwork, spin and general ball control will have better accuracy and trajectories as the ball is passed on from player to player.
FIFA 15 also introduces the all new ‘Match Day Live’ feature. Powered by authoritative football site Goal.com, fans can keep updated and on the ball with their club’s latest matches, news and action using an internet connection while they make history with their FIFA 15 version. For budding managers, FIFA 15 builds upon the team management capabilities and career mode of last year’s predecessor with new ways to play, manage the squad and decide on transfers to boost up your side.
That other big game for virtual sports fans, WWE 2K15, is also a must-have for the Christmas stocking. Like FIFA 15, the wrestling version also promises to bring fans of sport entertainment a more realistic and relatable configuration of gameplay, as the virtual becomes more like the reality.
WWE 2K15 is being published by 2K Sports, with in-game development by Visual Concepts&Yuke’s – the second title being released from the well-receivedWWE 2Kseries. The plans in the works are for this title to be released sometime late October this year on Xbox 360andPlayStation 3, and will be the first WWE game to be released onPlayStation 4andXbox One. Its North American release is scheduled for October 28, 2014 and in Europe on October 31. The cover features WWE Superstar and king of the invisible John Cenaand is also the first to use the new WWE logo, which was introduced at the launch of theWWE Networkin February 2014. Unlike Cena, fans will hopefully be able to see this latest WWE video game appearing in their local superstore in only a month’s time.
The game’s designers claim that 2K15 will usher in a new era of WWE video gaming, delivering the experience fans have been searching for generations. It aims to be the most authentic, comprehensive and action-packed WWE video game experience to date. The ‘Next-Gen Superstars’ will have more realistic movements and mannerisms, with improvements to body, attire and facial features of individual wrestlers, resulting in a highly life-like and natural look. There will also be improvements to stage lighting featured in the sets on the game and better all-in-ring sound effects and acoustics.
The roster featured in the game will be one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen in a WWE game, including Hall of Famers, current favourites such as Cena, Bigshow, the Usos, Dolph Ziggler, Batista, Randy Orton and the Undertaker. There also good representations by the WWE Divas, including big names like Brie Bella, Natalya and Summer Rae. Full details of the complete roster will soon be announced on the WWE 2K website. It is believed up to sixty superstars may feature in the game as new modes are dribbled out to fans and gaming media.
Unlike FIFA, a collector’s edition of the game has already been released earlier this month. It features a copy of the game pre-released with special premium packaging, a collectible wrestling promo card signed by Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, exclusiveFunko“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vinyl figure, an actual piece of the ring canvas from Hogan’s appearance onWWE Rawon March 10, 2014, two playable pre-order launch exclusive Hulk Hogan characters, and two playable pre-order launch exclusiveStingcharacters. There are only 25,000 collector’s editions being made at the time of release, according to a Wikipedia article dedicated to the game.
The game has been blazing fires underneath the backsides of critics, with many applauding its faithful homage to the dramatism of the WWE’s infamous storylines, the ‘soap opera with stunners’ as giant of the ring The Bigshow once described it. Review Darryn Bonthuys described WWE 2K15 as a game which heralded the entrance into an age of wrestling games that captured both the attitude and nostalgia of sports entertainment, in a way never really touched on before. Even the detail afforded to some wrestler’s beards is astonishing, amazing even the superstars themselves. On a recent scanning for his character in the game, Yes-Man Daniel Bryansaid to Sports Illustrated “When I went for my scans, 2K had so much machinery in their studio, it’s like being in the future,”
“I get weirded-out just being around that much technology. I was like, ‘These things won’t give me cancer, right?”
The article by Bonthuys delves deeper into WWE 2K15’s obsession with detail, aided by the better graphics handling of the latest consoles, such as the PS4:
“It’s incredible what they can do now. The detail they capture is amazing. My beard looks perfect in the game. It looks exactly how it does in real life. But they also have small details like the scar on the top of Randy Orton’s head. He has this small little knick, and it’s detailed perfectly. I know when I was playing the game, when I saw the little things like Randy’s scar, when I saw how my beard looked, I was blown away.”
Grappling and other moves are more like what you would expect in a wrestling match than running up and just hitting the analogue stick. The game, despite its many visual and gameplay improvements and tweaks, is still easy for first-time and casual gamers to pick up the skills needed to lift the championship belt, while keeping seasoned gamers and wrestling fans hooked and impressed with the new 2K way of chokeslamming things. The ratio of ring to wrestler sizes is more believable and you can no longer take the easy route out by simply running around the squared circle.
The game will also feature a match history mode, tailored to be just like the bad blood and storylines of the Smackdown and Raw shows as seen on TV. The mode will pick up on past rivalries between superstars and is provisionally being called the ‘2K Showcase’. In comparison to the previous older sibling of the WWE 2K family, the story mode will be similar toWWE 2K14‘s30 Years of WrestleManiamode in that it focuses on historical events, but will be more like the Attitude Era mode where it focuses on specifics rather than generalities. The two main feuds highlighted in 2K15 are John Cena vs. CM Punk which took place between 2011 and 2013, and the Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels rivalry which began in 2002. Players will be able to relive a total of 33 matches across the feuds, where key historical objectives must be completed in order to progress further in the mode. As with last year’s game, high-quality documentary packages will accompany each rivalry. This emphasis on the nitty-gritty will also make gameplay just that more believable for diehard wrestling fans who want the perfect story of hatred in the locker room. Players will also have access to a self-operated ‘MyCareer’ mode which sees them take on the Lycra mantle of a superstar and gives them the chance to develop his or her career via the Creative Suite and to evolve and take on challenges for title belts. This mode will be exclusive to the XBox One and PS4 versions of WWE 2K15 though.
I can definitely say this about my best friend and I can say this for myself and my games-mad siblings as well. Playing these two games will be an experience that will blow away all the memories I had of previous playing PlayStation and XBox games on the sacred subjects of football and wrestling entertainment. Just the detail and dedication the designers have spent on the graphics and kinetics of the FIFA footballers and WWE wrestlers alone will be mind-blowing. Even though I do not own a games console, and am what nowadays you could convincingly call a ‘casual gamer’, a part-timer in the world of video games, I can appreciate the way these two titles will change my whole viewpoint of gaming for 2015. Just the thought of being able to play and control something that is so very near the real deal is itself a moment I look forward to experiencing. The thrills, the spills, the crossfaces and the cross-kicks. Whether slamming an opponent into the ringside or booting a ball into the net, I think FIFA 15 and WWE 2K15 are the ones to watch for sports games on the PS and others. Let’s hope my brothers have put in their pre-orders.
The English and ex-ChelseafootballerFrank Lampard has announced this past Friday that he is planning to sign up with rivals Manchester City in a short-term contract, reports the Guardian newspaper. The ‘shock’ move could occur within the next week or so and will mean that Lampard could end facing the Blues (Chelsea, his old team) twice while playing in City’s kit. Lampard will then switch nations to play for an American team being developed by the Mancunians. City will be squaring off against Chelsea, and Lampard’s former teammates, at their Etihad Stadium on the 21st September, which he may well feature in if his contract is signed and stamped.
Manchester City currently has an investment in the US soccer leagues, running a team, New York City, who will appear for fixtures in the new Major League Soccer tournaments. However the New Yorker eleven, which will begin kicking about in March next year, may well have Lampard back on their team sheet once his temporary contract with owners City is rolled-up, meaning they can transfer him to their MLS franchise. Lampard signed a two-year contract previously with NYC FC, after vacating Chelsea and English football earlier this year. The former Chelsea midfielder had previously turned down an opportunity to appear in Melbourne, Australia for another of City’s international club ventures, while also becoming a signing priority for Queen’s Park Rangers, who he also declined. The 36-year-old has now made it clear that he favours a spell with Manuel Pellegrini’s side. According to Metro,Lampard has rejected the prospect of playing football in Australia as he had expressed a desire to remain in England,which will seem confusing for many as Lampard will be flying across the Atlantic once his stint in Manchester has run its course. He had also previously stated that he would not want to appear for any other Premier League team apart from the Blues after leaving Stamford Bridge.
The move to New York will see Lampard keeping his levels of fitness up as he nears the end of his active career and will also benefit Manchester City in making him free and available for their Premier League and Champions League squads. He is likely to sign a six-month contract which will run until he begins pre-season training with New York. The Lampard signing also means that City can increase the number of English players on their teams to counteract criticism that English clubs are too reliant on foreign players and not making enough use of home-grown talent. For Lampard, who is only a handful of years from making his retirement from the game, it will also keep him fresh in the eyes of England national team manager Roy Hodgson, who has considered him one of his star players. City hopes to have Lampard on the training field with them before their Community Shield clash against Arsenal, on Sunday 10th August.
Frank Lampard recently spoke about the importance of keeping fit ahead of making his debut in MLS, scheduled for March 2015 at the earliest.
“I will have to keep fit. I’ll have to train at the very top level, whether that’s on my own or with a club somewhere, I’ll have to see,’ he said at his New York City unveiling.
‘Of course I’ll keep fit and make sure my levels don’t drop too much. When we come here for pre-season I want to be ready to go. I want to fly out of the blocks. I don’t want to come out sluggish.“
The ‘shock move’ by Lampard is bound to raise eyebrows among many in the Premier League, especially at his old side Chelsea, where he became a legend of the team affectionately known as ‘Chelski‘ after thirteen trophy-packed years with them. The move may well be even more of a shock for Chelsea’s fans, who worshipped him in his days playing for the south London side at their hallowed home in Stamford Bridge. Many may well see his joining of one of their biggest Premiership rivals as a Judas move and a betrayal, while others have described it as a chance for Lampard to make his last few years playing professionally a success and an guiding inspiration for the young and fresh-faced American footballers he will encounter in the ‘Big Apple’.