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  • George, Emma and Farhat discuss the week that was in the world of football. They talk the three-way battle at the top, the even bigger fight at the bottom and all the big stories in the world of football, both domestic and international. and OH HEY THERE 50TH PODCAST!

  • When Maxi Lopez refused to shake Mauro Icardi’s hand before the match between Sampdoria and Internazionale, the football community began to buzz, eager to see the next event in what has been a growing public scandal. It was the kind of drama, built on the shameless behaviour of public figures, which can bring almost anyone to the television screen. But despite this allure, many fans of Italian football simply shrugged their shoulders at the incident.

  • When Stade Rennais scraped past a struggling Valenciennes side in their first outing in this year’s Coupe de France, few would have seen them walking out on May 3rd in their third cup final in five seasons. Their league form was anything other than encouraging, and there were even question-marks over new boss Philippe Montanier’s ability to transform the fortunes of the Breton side from mid-table also-rans into the competitive side who – with the exception of the previous season - had regularly been there or thereabouts when it came to the European places shakedown in the past seven years. 

  • It may be one of the easiest leagues to slip into but the Championship is a bloody hard league to come out of. You get your runaway Champions and the teams that fight valiantly to steal away the second automatic promotion spot, but it’s the play-offs at the end of the season that add an extra dimension to a hard fought season.

  • The day after briefing the media that the end was nigh, Manchester United finally brought David Moyes' 11-month stint as manager to an end yesterday morning. Ed Woodward, United's executive vice-chairman informed Moyes that his time was up and soon after a succinct statement was released thanking Moyes for his "honesty, integrity and hard work". Some people have suggested so few words betray how United really feel about his work - but unlike Mark Twain, United did have an awful lot of time to keep it short. United should have handled this far better. Moyes was left waiting on the gallows for far too long, and the least he deserved was a cleaner break. 
  • In the clamour caused by the red half of Manchester, certain things have been glossed over. The fact that we've still got a title race to decide; the fact that Mourinho is a massive hypocrite; and, most importantly (to me, anyway) the fact that that Louis Van Gaal, the odds-on favourite for the Tottenham job this summer is now the odds-on favourite for the Manchester United job.

    You'd think being looked over (again) would invoke some sort of negative response from me, but all that can be mustered is a shrug; such is the apathy that Tim Sherwood inspires. But Van Gaal, as crazy/awesome as he would be, is not the only option...

  • Athletic Bilbao visited the Camp Nou this weekend, and Barcelona had to win in order to have at least a slim chance of catching Atletico Madrid at the top of the table. Athletic Bilbao also had to get a result, otherwise Sevilla would have approached them within three points on the table. In this case, next week's game between the two teams would be crucial in the race for fourth spot.

  • With Sir Alex Ferguson announcing in 2013 that he would be retiring from the role he had held for the previous 27 years, the legacy he left behind made filling his boots an almost impossible task for any manager. Most United fans would have been disappointed that Pep Guardiola had already committed his future to Bayern Munich, but the likes of Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti were all possibilities. Instead, Sir Alex recommended David Moyes of Everton - the worst and most damaging decision the legendary manager made in his quarter-century stretch at United.

  • Matty, Lizzi, Emma and George discuss a busy long weekend in the world of football. We look at Liverpool's ever increasing title hopes, the bottom fours ever decreasing chances of survival, promotions, cup victories, how fans showed their displeasure through fishy means and Lizzi's ever eternal struggle to hide her middle class tendencies. Oh, and we lift the lid on why Colin Murray and George aren't the best of pals. Strap in troops.

  • There has been an awful lot of fanfare emanating from the Etihad recently regarding the newly re-launched Manchester City Women side – and rightly so. As a proud City fan, a passionate supporter of female sport and a woman, investing in the women’s game is exactly what I believe my club, with all its financial and marketing clout, should be doing. After a pre-season signing spree which lured the likes of England internationals Jill Scott, Steph Houghton and Toni Duggan to East Manchester, the time finally came for the girls to make history and actually participate in England’s elite women’s league. Needless to say, two games into the 2014 FA Women’s Super League 1 season, things haven’t gone exactly according to plan; losing to both Liverpool and Bristol Academy without scoring a single goal was not the sort of impact City Women were hoping to make. But this season, this side and this whole project is very much a work in progress – for the fans, the players and the club itself.

  • Atlanta, Georgia is being added to the map of Major League Soccer in the next three years, as MLS announced last week that the new Atlanta team will join the league in 2017, making the league expand to 22 teams. 

  • Matty, George, Lizzi and Jamie talk about this week in the world of football. We look at Liverpool and Fulham's huge league wins, the FA Cup semi-finals, and all the big stories across Europe and beyond.All to the sounds of a certain 1997 number one hit.

  • Floating towards the Championship, Norwich City are slowly being suffocated by the threat of relegation as they hang on to their Premier League status by a thread. The Canaries have lost their last three games – all of which included opposition against fellow relegation candidates. It's just not clicked for them this season and the panic decision to sack Chris Hughton with just five games to go doesn't inspire me – and I'd assume most neutrals – with much hope of a survival. And yes, out of the top five European leagues, Norwich City have the second worst strike force, scoring just twice more than Serie A's Catania, who are also rock bottom.

  • On the advent of Real Madrid facing up to a number of key fixtures without Cristiano Ronaldo while beginning to slip in the league, I made jokes about the core of their team having Tottenham DNA. But yesterday, words were dined upon as Real Madrid faced down their mortal enemies in both a Cup Final and (yet another) El Clasico and walked away with a trophy. But how, you might ask? How did they manage to prevail against the might of tiki-taka, heavy-pressing and The Best Player of Our Generation™ without their talismanic #7?

    Bottom line? They got Baled out.

  • As the season enters its final stages, there is still a lot to play for in the Bundesliga. The battle to qualify for the Champions League and Europa League has been tensely fought, and has been littered with twists and turns throughout the campaign. The race has seen some surprise contenders, as well as some big-name absentees. 

    Without further ado, here is Ballsy Banter's run-down of the main contenders.

  • Oh lord, this might actually happen.
    90 nerve-wracking minutes later, Fulham are now on a winning streak (two in a row is a streak for Fulham), and are two points from safety after being the team that we are trying to overtake. Fulham, you let me get away only so far before you drag me back in.

  • For any football fan watching their team in the FA Cup Semi Final, emotions and tensions run high. It’s the same from the top of the Premier League to the bottom of League One, but when your team has floundered the second half of the season and hasn’t won a trophy in 9 years, every kick of the ball is like a kick in the ribs.

    Saturday’s game against Wigan for me was like fighting a war; we had correctly estimated our opponent and knew it was going to be a tough game, but still entered the battlefield with an arrogance that very nearly cost us the game and would have ensured the trophy drought dragged into a 10th year. But like with most wars, with more luck than judgement, we soldiered through to our first FA Cup final since winning the trophy in 2005. 

  • "Here we are talking about solutions for the club and maybe my way is not right. If I am the problem, it would be nice if somebody told me. I have got no problem with that", so said Gus Poyet, Sunderland manager.

    “Well, bog off then”, so said me, disgruntled Sunderland fan.

    That’s basically how I feel at this point.

    Welcome to ten and out, a series in which I look at Sunderland’s last ten games of the season. I really mean out as well.

  • Fairytale stories are commonplace in football, given the competitive and unpredictable nature of the sport. The FA Cup is still heralded as the competition in which players and managers can etch their names into the annals of football history, and avoiding relegation is depicted as a monstrous struggle, almost to replicate some sort of Greek myth that resides on the dustiest of shelves on the very top floor of your local library. So, it is of some surprise to me, at least, that Bournemouth’s remarkable rise from the most remote of football lands to within a cherry’s stem of the Premier League has not demanded more coverage.

  • It's been a failure. Vicent Tan's bold and, in hindsight, reckless decision to relieve Malky Mackay of his managerial duties earlier in the season - replacing him with novice Ole Gunnar Solskjær - was a mistake. The Norweigan managerial rookie has secured just eight points from a possible 39 - a very poor return given he even had a transfer window to restructure some of the squad. He's not the man for the job, but unfortunately for the Bluebirds, another managerial change this late in the season will achieve little, they just have to stick with. Unless Solskjær pulls off a Roberto Martinez-style late season charge, Cardiff are gone and potentially, his job is, too.

  • Don’t you give me hope. Don’t you dare give me hope.
    Fulham got a rare but vital away win this past weekend against Aston Villa, thanks to goals from two players that I have derided all season. Kieran Richardson. who seemingly only turns it on when I mention how rubbish he has been since he signed (I maintain the worst 45 minutes I’ve seen a football player was his debut vs West Ham), and Hugo Rodallega, who is far from consistent enough to still be in the first team plans. The whole team battled superbly to not do the Fulham thing, and balls up a 1-0 lead, like we’ve done almost every week since the season began. Lewis Holtby was immense once again, and should have had our third if it wasn’t for blasted goal line technology deeming that because one inch of the ball hadn’t gone over the whole white line, it wasn’t a goal. Regardless, those two goals – in between a Grant Holt reply, ensured three points, and with Norwich, Cardiff and Sunderland all losing – it makes the league table somewhat bearable reading.

  • Could they actually do it? Every week, Everton seem to be determined to make me believe. Did I believe at the start of the season? No. Did I believe it mid-season after another strong run? No. Did I believe it before we beat Arsenal? No. OK, enough with the questions ending in 'no'. Here’s one that I can answer 'yes' to – will Arsenal drop points before the season ends? Call me cowardly, but that’s as far as I’ll go. In my previous article, I predicted that Arsenal would take fourth place on 76 points, one point above Everton. However, in these predictions, I had Everton drawing their game against Arsenal.

  • We’re at that time of year again; the time that has everybody salivating at the prospect of the ‘most exciting finish ever’ in Premier League history, an annual declaration that merely emphasises our reluctance to accept La Liga and the Bundesliga are just as compelling. We may be convinced by our bias that the Premier League remains the bastion for all footballing greatness, but this season truly is a cliff-hanger of unrivalled proportions.

  • Matty, Lizzi and George look through the past weekends football, as we discuss Everton's resurgence and Arsenal's downfall, poor refereeing decisions, England womens dominant game at the weekend and everything that matters from the Prem, Championship and Europe.

  • Southampton have been a breath of fresh air to The Premier League. The side have won hearts playing a fearless, cavalier football clearly inspired by Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund, and by utilising a high press matched with blistering passing football, one that for periods has left teams like Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool nonplussed. At the end of November, they were well in contention for a top four spot, and in this crazy, transitional season for the Premier League, there was no reason they couldn’t have mounted a challenge.

  • Having wrapped up the Bundesliga title with a record six games to spare, any doubts over Bayern Munich's

    credentials as Europe and the world's top club side have surely been put to bed. The Bavarians have lost just one game across four competitions this season and are the runaway favourites to retain their Champions League crown in addition to their domestic triumph.

  • The MLS season is starting to pick up as we approach the fifth week of games; Columbus Crew are suprisingly still undefeated, and Real Salt lake are making the most of their new players. On the other side of things, David Beckham is getting into the swing of things with prospects of a new stadium, and the rumors of Kaka joining MLS in the summer have started up once again. 

  • At the start of February, I wrote a piece about whether Everton could finish fourth in the league in this year. This piece was written before the Toffees had played Tottenham and Chelsea. At this stage, Tottenham looked a serious threat for fourth place, and Chelsea a serious threat for the league title. Since then, both London clubs have had drops in form. It speaks volumes of the current state of the league this season that within the space of two months, Everton have gone from having an outside chance at fourth, to being out of it completely, to then return to being outsiders again.

  • Apologises for the silence on this piece, I will aim to broadcast what has been an up and down few weeks in Fulham’s battle for relegation. Off the back of a morale-boosting win against Newcastle, followed two crushing defeats; one hammering against a resurgent Manchester City and one collapse against an Everton side we could have got three points against. But bizarrely, all isn’t lost just yet compared to my first piece. Five points away from safety with six games to go and teams around us seemingly in capitulation – it’s not a hopeless cause…yet. Talk to me again after the Aston Villa game.

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