After nearly 400 games, and over 300 goals, is Lionel Messi suffering from burn out?
I first met and interviewed Messi in December 2005, almost eight years ago.
I recall thinking, if reports of his phenomenal talent are even half true, this teenager could go on to enjoy a top-flight career spanning the best part of twenty years.
And so it’s transpired. Messi has scored an awful lot of goals.
But is that still the case? FULL POST
His detractors likely won't want to hear this but reports of David Moyes' Old Trafford demise are extremely premature. In fact, those expecting the Scot to fall flat on his face while occupying arguably one of the biggest jobs in club football are in for a rather long wait!
On Saturday I watched first hand as the reigning English Premier League champions recorded their first home league win – a 2-0 victory over newly promoted Crystal Palace – under their new head coach. It wasn't pretty but it didn't need to be.
As the legendary Alex Ferguson himself looked on from the Directors' box, Moyes spoke of his "relief" that three points had been secured with relative ease. He was also presumably very happy indeed to move on from the ridiculous over-reaction to his team's first and only defeat of the new season so far, a narrow one-nil reversal at arch -rival Liverpool. FULL POST
There was a time when Tiger Woods would never have described a year without a major as "great." Maybe he knew what was to come at Oak Hill.
Woods is a four-time PGA champion, but never once threatened to make it five in New York at this season's final major.
When he won so easily in Ohio the previous week, I began to fear for him. As analysts up and down the country declared his 15th major title a formality, I urged caution. FULL POST
Major League Soccer prides itself on its rapid expansion. And with good reason. Just eight years ago, there were only 10 MLS teams alive and kicking.
That tally will now rise to 20 with the all-new Nycfc set to debut in 2015. But does their arrival on the scene spell double-trouble for the league and are MLS fans as a whole being short-changed by it all?
There’s no doubt that relatively-speaking these are boom times for the soccer scene in the States. Attendances overall are up. Just go to any Portland or Seattle home game and you’ll witness a vibrant, passionate crowd that would put a lot of their European counterparts to shame.
MLS is a sound business model and very much on the right track but I just can’t help wondering to what extent the proposed New York City FC multi-million dollar deal might be risky business.
Sound financial planning has always been key to the league and its mantra but the rule-book went out the window to some degree when David Beckham signed on with the L-A Galaxy seven years ago.
The stringent salary cap was relaxed and in came the three-designated players rule. Now think about it for just a moment. Would that really be enough for the new franchise’s owners? Remember who they are after all! Manchester City belong to Sheikh Mansour and as a club – in terms of spending prowess- money is truly no object - and he will demand success.
And what should we make of the Yankees involvement in all this? I still recall their marketing tie- in with Manchester’s “other” club United back in the early 2000s. It didn’t last and there always seemed to be a lack of clarity over how it all worked?
Will things be different this time around? It would appear so and that can only be good news for City who’ll be benefit from the Yanks’ stature and local clout.
As I understand it- the most famous brand in baseball will be part-owners and will certainly have a huge say in vital issues like where in fact the new club will play but again we're left wanting to learn more about what exactly their role will be.
I have to conclude this is a great news for footy fans in the New York City area but what about the rest of the country?
The Red Bulls' average home attendance already falls well short of its 25,000 capacity and the Big Apple also has the reformed New York Cosmos on the scene too.
Is this potentially soccer over- saturation New York style? I realize it's the allure of the lucrative Nyc market and all that but has the league missed a great opportunity to truly put new meaning into the word " expansion"?
For example- take the huge area of land known as the Southeastern USA. Not an MLS franchise in sight.
Why? Where I live in Atlanta I'd have to travel some nine hours by car to go and watch my "local" team- DC United in Washington!
Having grown up in North West England- the City fans I know would never have dreamed of seeing the day their club would launch a spin-off franchise in the United States - with the added benefit of being able to loan out players to the MLS side.
Most I'm quite sure would rather the club be fully focused on prioritizing the search for a new manager or improving their woeful recent Champions League record.
In fact- they might even be wondering if they'll possibly even get to see Yankees baseball at the Etihad some day!
I have no doubt the MLS' newest franchise will soon become the league's undisputed super-power backed by the world-wide might of City and the Yankees.
I'm left with this nagging doubt though. Will the other 19 be able to seriously compete? If so, how? The MLS landscape has changed rather dramatically now and it all seems to have happened quicker than a New York minute.
The decision late last year by Augusta National to break with tradition and allow its first ever female members has been widely applauded with the general consensus being " about time too!"
Current world No.1 Tiger Woods described the news as "fantastic" while three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson said Condoleezza Rice is one of his favourite people to spend time with.
"Lefty" even played an Augusta practice round with the former U-S Secretary of State who impressed all watching by reportedly sinking a huge 40 foot putt on the very last hole!
Rice - along with South Carolina financier Darla Moore - remain the only female members at the private Augusta National Golf Club - as far as we're aware - and ahead of this year's Masters, club chairman Billy Payne described their joining as a joyous occasion adding "it's just awesome". He added he feels his club is a "beacon in the world of golf".
There's certainly no question that after years of intense focus on the club and its all-male policies –the admittance of two women is very much a step in the right direction but is it enough and will it indeed trigger other iconic venues to see the light of the Augusta beacon and follow suit?
This year's British Open championship venue Muirfield in Scotland for example still doesn't allow women members.
At a packed media press conference on Wednesday I asked Chairman Payne if he felt other clubs should now follow Augusta's lead. He responded that any such move would have to be their own decision while Mickelson declared he doesn't get involved in the "politics" of the game.
Here at Augusta fans out on the course are known as patrons. In truth, while the majority do fully agree it's high time to move on and adapt to the times, I did find a couple of female voices united in their belief that membership issues are down to each individual club.
That said, it's certainly not going to change the growing pressure of that majority to change. In addition to Muirfield - the world governing body of the game outside the USA - The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at Saint Andrews - is also male only.
Since its beginning in 1754, it's simply never had a female member! After almost 260 years - and following the recent example of Augusta - is the time now right for us to even dare to dream of change?
So did the "Beckham experiment" work?
In my book it was always going to be unfair to charge him with the near impossible burden of becoming America's soccer saviour.
It was simply never going to happen in a land where the beautiful game is routinely forced to play second fiddle to its more established alternatives - and I'm sure deep down Beckham himself knew this.
Realistically- his inner goal when he signed for the Galaxy would have been to make an impact and there's no question he's certainly achieved that.
Strikers Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane were both likely influenced by Beckham's move to the U.S. Other stars will follow too, with Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard already being linked with a high-profile move to LA. FULL POST