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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ The highs and lows of English football ]

The highs and lows of English football

MANCHESTER United’s nervy win over Barcelona on Tuesday night guarantees an all-English Champions League final for the first time, with the Red Devils taking on the winner of last night’s Chelsea v Liverpool match.

In achieving the feat, England joins Spain (Real Madrid v Valencia in 2001) and Italy (AC Milan V Juventus in 2003) in having two of its teams in the final of the world’s most prestigious club competition.

English teams, for so long belittled for inferior technical ability, have improved over the past several years, combining traditional never-say-die bulldog spirit with silky skills.

This has been achieved thanks to a massive influx of money into the Premier League, allowing the top sides to plunder some of the world’s best players and pay them astronomical wages.

Amazingly, nearly half of Premiership clubs are now foreign-owned, including three of the top four.

The top clubs, particularly Arsenal and Liverpool, have been widely-criticised in the past for fielding teams almost entirely comprised of foreigners, which their detractors claim limits the opportunities for home-grown players.

However, we must not forget that there are still very good English players on show.

On Tuesday night, Manchester United’s winning goal was scored by local lad Paul Scholes, with Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown at the heart of United’s defence producing towering performances.

Throw in Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick and United’s team was nearly 50 per cent English.

Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005 and made the final last year, with Arsenal losing to Barcelona in 2006.

So with England having a representative in the final for a fourth successive season, it seems amazing that the national team will not be in Switzerland and Austria for this summer’s European Championship after their failure to qualify for the tournament from a seemingly easy group.

English sides have won Europe’s premier club competition on ten occasions, but the national side has only ever won one international tournament, the 1966 World Cup.

The football authorities, clubs and government have attempted to address this discrepancy in success between club and country on numerous occasions but it seems that the gulf is actually widening, with English clubs getting stronger and the England team weaker.

Hooligan challenge

An all-English showpiece will provide a serious challenge for the Russian authorities and for UEFA, European football’s governing body, which was widely criticised for the security and ticketing arrangements at last season’s final in Athens. The clubs and UEFA will hope to prevent any fans travelling without tickets, at least on their official trips, but the prospect of thousands of ticketless supporters roaming around Moscow on the day of the match seems inevitable.

With it comes the threat of hooliganism rearing its ugly head. Several callers to BBC Radio 5 Live’s football phone-in, living in Russia, echoed a frightening theme.

“As soon as the Russian fans learn we are English, they ask if we’re hooligans and demand a fight,” they said. The authorities better take note.


(Source: Cyprus Mail)



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