Top 3 Football Moments of 2013

A year filled with football memories right from cup victories to player and manager departures, here are 3 moments that according to us were the most notable ones in 2013.

Sir Alex last match

1. Sir Alex Ferguson’s Departure

After a career spanning 27 years came to an end as Sir Alex Ferguson decided to finally hang his boots. His emotional speech after his last premier league game summed up his life for almost 3 decades and hence, this has to go down as the greatest moment in the world of football this year. Such manager’s do not come often nor do they stick around for so long. A career spanning 1,500 games with 895 wins, 490 draws and 412 losses came to an end in 2013.

He led Manchester United to 12 Premier League victories, 5 Domestic cups, 4 League cups, 2 Champions League titles, 1 Europa League title, 1 UEFA Cup Winners honor, 1 UEFA Super Cup and 1 FIFA Club World Cup. He is responsible for building careers of some top players like Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and so on. Truly the world will never witness another manager like him.

2. Bayern’s Treble 

Bayern Munich’s dominance over world football came into light with this achievement, the greatest one that a club could achieve. They managed to win their first ever treble. Often being called the champions of a league with 2 top teams, Bayern proved it in the Champion’s league on just how good they were as they knocked out Juventus, Barcelona, Arsenal and Borrussia Dortmund in the finals.

 Franck Ribery too was acknowledged for his performance as he bagged the European Player of the Year award. Jupp Heynckes who led the team to this amazing feat was replaced by Pep Guardiola at the end of this perfect season.

 3. Gareth Bale’s Transfer Saga

 A 100 million euros transfer has to make it to this list. The transfer saga lasted for months and was stressful for everyone. Bale topped his now teammate Ronaldo’s transfer fee by 7 million euros. Known for his dominating performances in the Premier League and often believed that he was single handedly leading his former club Tottenham Hotspur; his transfer did not come as a surprise to many. What was rather astonishing was the fee.

 Since then, Bale has made good of the opportunities at his new club and has also managed scoring a hat-trick. Right from a speculation of 70 million Euro transfer to a massive rise up to a 100 million, Gareth Bale’s transfer saga was quite the talking point for several months.

 Other moments that could have made it to the list included Pep Guardiola’s appointment as Bayern Munich manager, Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea, David Moyes’s appointment at Manchester United and the Mourane Fellaini transfer, Juventus’s dominance in Serie A, AS Monaco signing Radamel Falcao and the tax issue, PSG signing Cavani, and so on. But obviously not everyone could have made the list.

 This has been a great year for football and with several nails biting clashes and new player’s turning into superstars; it just keeps getting better and better.

3 Matches to look forward to on Boxing Day

Boxing Day each year always throws some interesting clashes and it will be no different this time around too! With emergence of new leaders – Liverpool, this week is crucial for them. They would want to begin the next year on top and several other clubs would want to continue their winning run. All teams would compete again on 28th – 29th and thus for manager’s, player management becomes important. Chelsea and Arsenal would consider themselves unlucky since they played last night and would again compete in 3 days. So, here are the 3 matches to look forward to.

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Manchester City vs Liverpool

Now it is time for Liverpool to start facing the big clubs. First up they encounter a ruthless Manchester City side that is in some top form. 1 point separates the two clubs and Pellegrini would want to change that as they play at home. Averaging more than 2 goals per game, Manchester City would want to rout Liverpool at all cost. Not just for points, but also to make a statement. Toure, Silva and Negredo are very important for them. Captain Kompany will have his hands full as he would have to deal with the league’s top scorer – Luis Suarez. Liverpool has not been too good defensively and thus expect them to make their attacking prowess their strength. Coutinho and Henderson would have to ensure that a heavily marked Suarez finds space or they manage to shine themselves. Both sides will score but Manchester City should get the better of Liverpool, purely because they play at home.

Newcastle United vs Stoke City

It has been long believed that Newcastle would eventually crash and stumble on their current position on the League table. This happened to them last season, and it is likely to happen again. This week they face a resilient Stoke City side, which is unbeaten in last 3 games and have conceded only 3 goals. Crouch is back in form and they are playing at their natural, hard defensive best. Newcastle on the other hand has managed to score freely but is very unpredictable. Ben Arfa, Sissoko and Remy must perform once again for the desired result. This will be a good test for witnessing how they respond to a tougher challenge. It looks like a draw but if Newcastle’s frontline is on song again, they could just win at St. James’s Park.

Hull City vs Manchester United

The champions have managed to win the last few games and are on a decent run. Minus Van Persie, they do lack the clinical finishing but Wellbeck’s form has been the saving grace. For Hull City, it is more about making a statement that they belong here, in top flight football. With 3 draws in the last 3 games against Premier League regular sides, Graham, Elmohmady and Livermore have proved just how good they are. Since they play at home, they must play defensively strong. Manchester United has no choice but to go for a victory from the very first whistle. Rooney, Wellbeck, Valencia and De Gea are very crucial in this clash. Januzaj has come handy in the last couple of games and expect him to start too. Overall, Manchester United should win this match but Hull City will not make this easy.

English Premier League Preview – 2013/14

A new season begins today and with it will begin the dreams of millions of fans and the hundreds of players that will compete for the highly coveted title of the Barclay’s Premier League Champions. This time around we see several new managers with a different mindset and approach towards winning the league and competing in other cups too. It will be all about the managers and their master playbooks for this season. Here is what lies in store for the top clubs, their challengers and of course my predictions for the season.

EPL trophy

Manchester United

The current champions of England face their greatest test in the last 26 years. Being led by David Moyes, nostalgia will prevail at the “Theater of Dreams” as Sir Alex Ferguson will be missed. With inclusion of Zaha, it does provide another winger to the club but they still lack a quality midfielder. No notable signings have been made by Moyes so far and with the unending Rooney saga, it all looks shaky at the Man Utd camp. With tough fixtures one must expect a slow start from the red devils. But traditionally, they always lift their season post December, but that was under SAF.

Chelsea

With “The Special One” taking charge of the London club, it all looks good at Chelsea. They have a near perfect team and with inclusion of Schrulle, they have one of the best midfield in the EPL. Will Torres have a good season or not still remains a big question, but what will be interesting is how does he manages his squad. Lukaku’s return too helps them bolster their attack.

Manchester City

With 4 more power players – Fernandinho, Jovetic, Navas and Negredo added to their squad, they once again have the best team in the premier league. With Mancini’s departure and Manuel Pelligrini taking charge, things will change for the better for this club. He is known to bring out the best out of underachievers and this side does have several talented players.

Tottenham Hotspurs

AVB has managed to sign some fantastic players like Paulinho and Soldado to strengthen his London team. This could just be the season where he works wonders for the club. Just like Man Utd and Liverpool, they too face an unending fiasco over a player’s departure – Gareth Bale. If he stays back, this will be the strongest Tottenham team we have witnessed over the years. If he goes, it brings in lot of money to buy atleast 3 new players. They will surely pose a great challenge for the top 4 spot.

Arsenal

With departure of more than a dozen players, Arsene Wenger once again has had a depressing transfer season. They still have immense quality in their squad but now they lack the depth. A lot will depend upon the club’s icon players like Walcott, Wilshere, Podolski and others. Winning the league seems a distant dream for them winning a single piece of silverware should be the focus. Arsene Wenger has to make some signings or Arsenal will have a tormented season.

Liverpool

This Merseyside team needs to stamp its domination quickly come start of the league. They look more balanced than the last season with few good players being added to the squad to replace few others that have been sold. Mignolet will be the man in between the sticks for the side this season and that could just be the difference between the Liverpool this season and the one we have seen for several years. They should aim for the Champions League spot this time around.

My Predictions for this season

EPL Winners: Manchester United or Chelsea

FA Cup Winners: Manchester United or Manchester City

League Cup: Manchester City or Chelsea

Champions League: Real Madrid

Europa League: A Champions League dropout

Top Goalscorer: Robin Van Persie

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Classroom Tales – I

This has been a longtime coming, and after a lot of motivation and persuasion from a particular (pushy) friend I am penning down things that I learn every weekend. These so called “learning’s” are courtesy of my move to sacrifice my weekends, in a bid to earn a master’s degree (honestly, it’s nothing more than an overrated MBA). Blessed with some fantastic teachers this semester, who love talking about modern day issues (read: crisis) around our country, each week (no promises here), I will write all that I learn back at MET. I will not use complete names of people or organizations that are listed (controversially of course!).

Classroom Tales 1

The Great Commonwealth Gotala

So, when we hear about this one, we are up in arms against Kalmadi. But, here is when my teacher highlighted about another big fish that existed. So, the guy had the contract of building the entire commonwealth games village. He is a builder and the son-in-law of Mrs. Gandhi. So, Mr. Robert’s family (most of them) have passed away due to several questionable reasons (father committed suicide) and the man went on to become a billionaire within a span of 10 years.

Robert’s company bagged the contract to build the games village with ease. The doubt was never about his company’s architectural abilities; mind you they are very good with their work. But, what is questionable is HOW and WHY they were the only ones to bag it. Obviously the lad made loads of money and the hungry Indian, poor Indian (including Me) sat back and clapped all through the event.

Greece and their entry into European Union

This was the probably the biggest mistake European Union could have ever made! The inclusion of Greece not only has cost them dearly, but now it is like the child they never wanted. It all happened when Goldmann tweaked the bank records of the Greek economy, thus helping them meet the requirements to become a part of EU. So now Greece is officially the responsibility of all member nations of EU. Now here is where it all gets interesting.

The Greek economy in reality has barely any money. Unemployment rates are high and since all citizens are now members of EU, they can freely travel across Europe in pursuit of jobs. Thus, begins the process of manpower being dumped into other European nations. The Greek currency’s before joining the EU was quite weak and since now it has to be converted into Euro’s, all of a sudden most Greek billionaires are now millionaires, upper middle class is now simply middle class, you get the point.

The crisis that came along had to be dealt with too. These were not just manmade like a crumbling economy but natural too. Greece once experienced a forest fire, which went on for days on end. Obviously the cost of carrying out an operation to put out such a wildfire is quite steep. So, they sat back and prayed it would rain. But, the EU could not wait back as the effects of a forest fire (environmental degradation, pollution, etc) were humongous. So, they had to take care of it and bear the costs of such heavy operations.

The cases of illegal immigrants are also high in Greece. Turkey, being a neighbor of Greece is the most conveniently available country to cross borders and enter Greece. Since most borders are porous (via fields, forests, etc) this is the easiest way for a person to enter a country belonging to the European Union, seek citizenship and open doors of working anywhere across Europe. Here is a tale of a Pakistani lad that my teacher narrated to us. They bumped into this person on a train at one of the islands in Greece when they were on a holiday. He narrated the story by saying that from Pakistan he went to Iraq, from Iraq to Turkey and from Turkey he entered Greece by being shipped in export containers. Now remember, Turkey has been an important trade route from ages for most European countries. So, he sat inside a container for several days (maybe weeks, not too sure), all his bodily needs were met in there and he finally was at Greece. Here he started a business of pirated CD’s (think of the sellers at our local stations). Since, the corruption is rampant there amongst governmental machinery, he managed to survive and would get his EU citizenship soon. Once, that’s done he would head to France for a better life! Monetarily, the lad made a living for himself and would send 1,000 Euro’s back home. Since, the exchange rates are fluctuating, the family back home received 1,00,000 Pakistani Rupees each month. His father bought a car within the first year and now plans to build a bungalow. Try linking all of it together, try and figure out the number of immigrants who would be doing this and why shouldn’t they? After all, every man strives to be a provider for his family and sustain himself.

 

Maybe, I will learn something new next week and will share the same. Until then spare some thought for these two corrupt nations. One of which I am a citizen of, and honestly I am a lazy Indian, I will not pick a fight unless provoked or cheated.  Godspeed!

Smaaashing Away To Glory!


photoSituated in the heart of Mumbai (Kamala Mills, Lower Parel), is this virtual gaming pit stop for those who eat, sleep, digest, burp and pretty much do most natural and unnatural processes through sports. So there is something for each fanatic who loves cricket, football, car racing or just likes to indulge in some gaming. The USP of this place is the fact that it has taken virtual gaming to a whole new level. To feel what pressure their favorite players feel while on field is the what the place possesses.

So, with my bunch of lads (and a lady) we headed to Smaaash. We had to, after all the hype and the fact that we could face a machine that can swing a ball like Akram, who would give it a miss? So the rush is crazy, we were all set and here is what followed:

Football (Penalties)

When you enter the area all you see is a metal goalkeeper, a sensor above and a funny orange coloured ball you got to put past the keeper. The first thought that crosses your mind is, “How hard could this be?” So, I step up, bring most of my footy knowledge of placing a ball in either of the corners and I shoot. To my surprise, this metal “monster” goes on to make a fine save. Amongst all the tries we took, the lady accompanying us put one past keeper thanks to her immaculate “toe” technique.

As far as the technical side of this gaming element is concerned, the keeper manages to save most shots. You need to be inch perfect to slot it in the top corner or else you are doomed. Yeah, they would not give away a Harley just like that! But, honestly it is over priced. 500 bucks for 10 shots is way too much. For someone who does not drink, the free beer per goal was not really an incentive either.

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All set to conquer the blaster

 Virtual Cricket (Blaster)

This was the activity I loved the most at Smaaash. So, like most Indians, we too were like “Ha, dekh lenge,” “Akram, Chakram sabki bowling ko maarenge” (Hindi connotations for ripping apart bowlers). Obviously, we underestimated the technology and what it lied in store for us. Trust me, this game is an addiction. Session after session, we did not stop. One can choose from various difficulty levels like Amateur, County and International. We opted for county and these bowlers did remind me of my ancestors.

The array of bowlers I faced included Akram, Lee, Malinga, Sachin, Murli, Kumble and Warne. Amongst pacers, I got the better of Lee (back at ya Aussie!) and spinners I pretty much smacked Warne all over the park (Hurle(y)d Ya). Oh yes, how can I forget, the ball does swing, spin and deceive you in most ways. It is actually like facing the men for real. It’s tough, it really is. You feel the fear of protecting your toe against Malinga and your private parts against Murli. You are bound to lose your wicket against Sachin because he will bowl every possible delivery in the book, even Yorkers, which are faster than Akram’s. International level is way worse (difficult). Almost had my head taken off.

The technology is Sachin biased, at least I feel so. Apart from that, the fielding simulations and shot distance calculator could have been better. I learnt that boundaries are calculated basis the bat speed. In my knowledge and experience of playing the game (which is more than 15 years) I have surely learnt that a simple clever flick too can fetch a six. 500 – 600 bucks for a 15 minute/7 over session is quite decent. Value for money without a doubt.

Bowling

The bowling alley has got to be one of the best in Mumbai (very few exist currently). The UV lights add some great appeal to the whole experience. The technology is one of the best in the world (Brunswick) and the length of the lanes is fairly decent. So the rest of the jing bang pretty much got competing, as far as I was concerned it was more about the outing than anything else (4 sessions of cricket did tire me down).

Overall, it is a good fun experience. Something that I had been missing since 6 months now. Rs. 350 per game is actually very decent.

F1 Simulator

So I don’t drive but who doesn’t want to know what it feels like to be Hamilton or a Webber. The F1 Simulator does look as good as an actual Formula 1 car. So all set I enter the car and the moment I sat I realized this is not going to be easy (not like your other gaming places for sure). The light goes green, the steering wheel becomes stiff and the revving engine pushes several decibel levels around you.

There are three screens around you to provide a spectacular view of all that is around you. I am not an F1 enthusiast, but yes it was a lot of fun. Again, the hole it burnt in my pocket seemed quite a bomb.

Others

The food at Smaaash is very good, Lot’s of options to choose from and great variety of cuisines. For all those who love drinking, they have a well stocked bar with several cocktails. Yes, there are happy hours too. I was not the one into the alcohol but yeah, my boozy friends were more than happy to chug! There are lots of mini games all around the area for kids and even adults. I am only writing about those I played there.

Overall, an experience worth cherishing. Since then I have made it a point to visit Smaaash at least once a month and never have I felt I did not get value for my money. Yes, it is such an addiction that you will splurge, but at the end of the day how many places in Mumbai offer a facility like this. Since, it is other side of the town, I don’t get the opportunity to visit it that ofen (my mom is glad I don’t blow up my entire salary!). But, Smaaash if you ever opened an outlet in the suburbs, you have your first weekly member right here!

Overall Ratings

Facility and Ambience – 4.5/5

Technology – 4/5

Food and Drinks – 4/5

Value for Money – 4/5

Happiness Quotient – Smiles Galore! :)

Common Android smartphone issues and the fastest way to resolve them.

Android maybe one of the highest selling technology when it comes to smartphone’s but is it bug free? The answer is NO. Devices that run on Android operating software are mightier than its Symbian counterparts and on par with it’s iOS pals. Any issue with a smartphone could be tackled, but one has to admit it can be very irritating at times. Let us not forget that one has paid a very high amount of money to acquire this technology.

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So what are the Common issues with Android Smartphone’s and what is the fastest way to resolve them?

  • Phone Lagging and Crashing issues

This is one of the most common concerns on an Android phone. it either lags too much i.e. the phone works at a snail’s speed, multi-tasking between apps is tougher than decoding a Morse code or the phone simply switches off. Some of the reasons why this happens are either due to less storage space, excessive app cache, incompatibility with other apps, etc.

There are several different ways to resolve this one. Simply opt for a soft reset i.e. switch off the phone completely and then restart it. This usually works, as it; reset’s all apps and decreases the load on the phone’s hardware. One can use App Cache Cleaner software to delete cache from time to time. If neither of this works, then one can try re-installing the phone software or updating it to the latest version to acquire fixes to minor bugs.

  • Poor Battery Life

This is a major issue for those who do not find the time to charge the phone or are simply on the move at all times. Imagine being in a boring 3-hour bus journey and the phone just conks off! It could be quiet a bummer isn’t it? Reduction in usage is not the solution to this, one would want to keep their usage the same and expect a better battery life.

Now simply save battery by doing the following things. Firstly, inculcate the habit of quitting apps completely when done using them, especially games. Secondly, avoid using too many widgets at once. It looks fancy to have a weather update, a world clock, and such widgets on the home screen, but it consumes some massive battery life. Thirdly, turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on only when required. Finally, when experiencing a low battery, just decrease the screen brightness.

  • Low Internal Memory

Many low-end Android phones do not possess an extensive internal memory also referred to as RAM. Thus, one experiences a “Low Memory” error while trying to install new apps or update old ones.

The only way to deal with this is by transferring apps, which can be transferred on to the memory card. This works is some cases but not all. Other option is one must keep deleting apps that they do not use on a daily basis.

These are some of the common Android Smartphone issues and easy ways to deal with it. Next time you encounter any of these issues, just opt for these simple solutions, and use your smartphone effortlessly.

Use Social Networking to your advantage – Here’s How

“We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!” These words from the film “The Social Network” clearly make you believe that now our lives are viral, our businesses are viral, and everything is available at the click of a button. Social Networking has witnessed a boom much greater than any other industry in the last few years. What most of us understand by Social Networking is sending updates to our friends and the rest of the world via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, etc.

Creativity is the main factor when you are dealing with the Internet. Short and Sweet texts, to the point messages and out of the box imagery is what works. Social Networking is all about creating something that has not been witnessed yet. Gangnam style went viral because it was funny and Kolveri Di went viral because it was catchy. What is common between the two? No one had ever seen anything like them before!

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So how can one use Social Networking for their Advantage?

  • For Individuals

If you are individual, Social Networking can be one of the most effective tools in your armoury. One can not only look for recruiters over these websites but also build some mighty connections and send a message across to some well-known personalities. Yes, you can truly send a tweet to your favourite actor; he/she responds or not is another question.

For an individual, Social Networking can be quiet like a viral flu. You can truly spread anything to the world within no time! So if you are an artist, treat the web like your canvas and paint it with your talent. If it is truly worth taking notice of, the world will. Anything worthy travels across like wild fire over the web. Once it goes viral, there is nothing stopping it.

  • For Businesses

Presence over Social Networking platforms is necessary for every business house these days. It goes back to the same horde mentality people had years ago, “Out of Sight, are Out of Mind.” Social Networking enables businesses to stay connected with their audiences, constantly take feedback, and consider the same and more importantly promote products and offers. A business may not want to miss an opportunity to be listed where its competitors are placed.

If you are a restaurant, add pictures of your delicious delicacies. If you have an electronic store, list those festive schemes. Any form of business can use Social Networking to their advantage to not only gain visibility but also to sell. Advertising can get one the viewers and clicks they need but generating re-visits is in the hands of the business.

Social Networking has a negative side to it too. Any folly committed like a heated conversation or a controversial post can damage one’s reputation beyond repair. One has to be careful about this. The interesting thing about the web is that, “One shoots it, the world sees it,” use this to your advantage and you will be guiding social networking platforms for your benefit.

A writer by interest, a detractor by choice!

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