Category - England

Boxing Day A New American Tradition?

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Boxing Day, a secular Holiday that takes place the day after Christmas traditionally celebrated in the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth’s is not just for Britons anymore. Many Americans are also turning their eyes to December 26th and not for a “Christmas Box” that is given to those in public service (postmen and the like) for a job well done during the year. No, the United States the most sports hungry country in the world has caught on to Premier League football and most importantly the football that is held on Boxing Day.

The beginnings of football on Boxing Day can be traced back to 1860 when Sheffield FC and Hallam FC played a match that was won 2-0 by Sheffield. The presence of football on Boxing Day was further cemented in 1888 when Preston North End defeated Derby County 5-0 in the first season of the Football League. From 1888 to 1957 football was featured on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day and the 1957/58 season was the last one to feature a complete set of league fixtures on Christmas Day. The last English League match that was played on Christmas Day took place in 1965 that saw Blackpool defeat Blackburn 4-2. From then on Boxing Day has stolen the show with a full set of fixtures taking place almost every year since.

As I get older Christmas becomes less and less something that I look forward to. This is due in part to the commercialized version of Christmas in our modern society is aimed at children and unfortunately for me I am an adult who has to pay the bills and the like (doh!). Like most people I enjoy spending time with my extended family, exchanging gifts and gorging out on ham or turkey but that’s all secondary now. The real Christmas time attraction that I look forward to and circle the calendar for, is the hours of football I can enjoy on Boxing Day. There’s nothing better than waking up early on December 26th with the anticipation of 10 EPL matches on the same day. NBC Sports is set to cash in with wall to wall coverage of the football with a mixture of live games, highlight shows and match replays for the majority of the day on the network.

We really are spoiled as a country to have the access we do because not even in England will they have the opportunity to watch as much Premier League football on Boxing Day as us Americans will. It will be interesting to see how the TV ratings shake out, they will most certainly beat out MLS (low hanging fruit, I know) and if it is widely successful NBC may be well on their way to helping establish Boxing Day as a new American Tradition.

 

2015 Boxing Day Fixtures 

December 26, 2015
Stoke City 12:45 PM Manchester United
Swansea City 3:00 PM West Bromwich Albion
Aston Villa 3:00 PM West Ham United
Chelsea 3:00 PM Watford
Liverpool 3:00 PM Leicester City
AFC Bournemouth 3:00 PM Crystal Palace
Tottenham Hotspur 3:00 PM Norwich City
Manchester City 3:00 PM Sunderland
Newcastle United 5:30 PM Everton
Southampton 7:45 PM Arsenal

All Times GMT

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Slaven Bilic (Not Leading) West Ham Into Europa League

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UPDATE: Slaven Bilic WILL NOT be leading West Ham into this opening Europa League tie according to the BBC. The information in the post still applies in the long-term though.

 

West Ham’s season will get off to an early start with the east London club beginning their European adventure in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, July 2nd. New manager and former West Ham player Slaven Bilic will make his Upton Park managerial debut with the Hammers hosting Andorran outfit FC Lusitans in the first leg of a Europa league qualifier that West Ham qualified for through the fair play table. This is West Ham’s first appearance in a European cup competition since 2006 where they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup in the first round by Palermo. If West Ham are to reach the group stages they will have to contest 8 games in total with 6 of those coming before the Premier League season kicks-off in early August. The question is, will these early competitive games against lower competition aid or hinder Bilic in his early days as the West Ham boss?

These early matches could give Bilic the opportunity to teach and install his system to his new squad which may help the former Besiktas manager hit the ground running once the domestic season starts up. West Ham has already been training as a group in Ireland where they have been put through the paces in preparation for these rare early July competitive fixtures. On the other hand the Europa League could potentially impede Bilic in reaching his domestic objectives at Upton Park due to the high number of games it takes to progress through the competition. It is rumored the West Ham board has made his task to achieve a top 10 finish in the league (while also playing more attractive football than former manager Sam Allardyce) a feat West Ham has only achieved 4 times in their last 10 Premier League campaigns.

In order to meet this objective the club has already secured the transfer of two prominent players to deal with a potentially long European campaign. The first was 23 year old Spanish defensive midfielder Pedro Obiang from Sampdoria in Spain who should bring an added defensive presence to the middle of the pitch. Most recently, French 28 year old attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet was brought in to provide a creative spark to the Hammers attack. The former Marseille man contributed 8 goals and 17 assists last season and West Ham would probably be happy with half that production in his first season in England.

Does West Ham have the squad depth to handle this European adventure? We will find out sooner than later because while most teams around Europe will be focused on fitness and training the Hammers will be in results mode trying to get to the group stage of the Europa League. If they get to the group stage and there is a decent chance they will because they will be a seeded side all the way up to the final playoff draw. The club will certainly be active late in the transfer window to add squad depth in order to deal with those dreaded Thursday to Sunday Europa League turnarounds. Fortunately for West Ham, Bilic has experience navigating the Europa league leading Besiktas to of the round of 16 last season.

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Interview With John Curtis Of Next Gen USA

One Daft Yank (Chad) had the chance to interview former Manchester United player John Curtis who is now a youth development professional in the United States with Next Gen USA. This was a wide ranging interview that included:

  • Next Gen USA’s efforts to develop American soccer talent
  • The differences between the American and European youth development systems
  • John’s time as a scout for West Brom in Italy
  • The Manchester United way
  • Quality of play in England
  • And More!

Listen to/download the podcast below or listen on your mobile device via StitcherTuneIn or iTunes

Interview With John Curtis Of Next Gen USA

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