Assad’s Propaganda: Summer, Palmyra, and Mourinho

What do Jose Mourinho, ancient artefacts, and tourism have in common?

At first glance, not much, but on investigation we find that they all play a role in the continuous, if somewhat confused, campaign of propaganda by the Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad.

A story that emerged recently, that immediately jumped out at me as somewhat strange, was the news that Jose Mourinho – of Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid fame – had been targeted as the next manager for the Syrian football team.

Not one to shy away from controversy, Mourinho was said to be “honoured” at the approach, but ultimately rejected the job offer.

And whilst the audacious bid to land the “special one” came as a shock, in reality, we should not be too surprised when we see this move in the wider context of Assad’s propaganda machine.

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The Rebirth of 4-4-2

If Leicester City’s irresistible charge towards the title tells us anything, it is that 4-4-2 is back.

Despite Claudio Ranieri downplaying the chances of his team ending the season as champions, they are certainly in the driving seat now. A win against Arsenal will only further enhance their credentials, and would surely see them become favourites.

Playing a brand of football that the Premier League has rarely seen in the last decade, Ranieri and co have been propelled to the top of the table, a position even more extraordinary considering that just 12-months before they were battling relegation.

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Fergie’s Toxic Legacy

Like many people on Tuesday night, I couldn’t quite believe what I was witnessing. It was not just the defeat of Manchester United, but it was the total collapse of everything that they once represented.

Following the woeful performance by The Red Devils, which resulted in a 4-0 defeat to MK Dons, it is becoming more and more obvious what the problem is. It is a deep, inherent issue that runs through almost the entire Manchester United squad. The problem is quality.

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The Corporate Future of the Beautiful Game

“These training camps in the modern game are decided for commercial reasons and because of the extent of popularity of the club.” This is what Arsene Wenger had to say recently when he was asked about Arsenal’s pre-season trip to the United States. For him, the decision to travel across the Atlantic was  money-motivated, rather than football-motivated.

Wenger is a man of great financial understanding. He holds a degree in economics and he realises that football is just as concerned with the balance sheet, as it is with the trophy cabinet. His tenure at Arsenal is proof of this, having done an outstanding job for the London club since arriving 18 years ago. Though the last decade has brought little in the way of silverware, he has guided Arsenal through a period of relative financial austerity, whilst keeping them competitive. If the bank balance had not as been as healthy as it was over the last 10 years, Wenger would probably have lost his job.

The training camps which Wenger has taken such a dislike to, are just one of a number of bricks in the house of corporate football. Since the introduction of the Premier League, with its multi-million pound TV rights, this house has been extended year after year, and I believe that now we are beginning to see what the complete project shall look like.

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From Gower To Gaza

The beach is a wonderful natural location to enjoy all manner of activities. There are those of us that surf, those of us who sunbathe, and those of us who play football. Whether you need peace and quiet, a good location for a barbecue, or a long flat stretch of land to play sport on, mother nature provides it for us.

Until I am full time writer, I have to do as everyone else and work a stereotypical office job for a living. The unfortunate business who is graced with my presence is a football academy based in South Wales. This weekend the football academy that I work for, The Champion’s Soccer Academy, were one of the leading figures in organising Swansea’s first ever Beach Soccer Festival.

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