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And we're back! 2015-16 Season Preview

by Alistair 9. August 2015 10:30

Ladies and gentlemen, we did it. We got through the summer break. It was tough, sure, but it’s over now. You can put down those barbeque tongs, stick the sun lounger back in the shed and forget all about that fence you probably weren’t going to paint anyway. Because this weekend, in stadiums across the country and around Europe, the football – the proper football – returns. And this season, like almost every season before it, threatens to be one of unmissable drama.

With Premier League legends Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Robin van Persie all parting ways with the English topflight, there’s never been a better time for new icons to emerge and big summer moves aplenty at the Etihad, Old Trafford and Anfield mean there are no shortage of fresh faces among the familiar stars. 

At Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea – with leading lights in Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas – bid to become the first team since 2009 to defend their Premier League crown. But they face a strong challenge from a reinvigorated Arsenal, perennial contenders Man City and a much-strengthened Man United, who have added over £83million of talent over the summer.

Meanwhile, a Gerrard-less Liverpool have flashed their cash and captured Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne, among others, while Tottenham will be hoping for more of the same from frontman Harry Kane, who emerged as one of English football’s most exciting young strikers following a frenzy of goals last term.

Newly promoted Watford return to the topflight after an eight year exile while Norwich City look promising after their swift return and there’s more than a sense of intrigue about Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, who were excellent as they romped to the Championship title.

On the continent, there’s more glory expected for Barcelona, led by the irresistible and seemingly unstoppable ‘MSN’ trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. As ever, Luis Enrique’s side will need to see off Clasico rivals Real Madrid but with Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale at his disposal, new boss Rafa Benitez must feel confident of a strong challenge.

The German title race, as in France and Italy, is decidedly less open. With the additions of Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa, Bayern will be incredibly hard to catch, though Kevin de Bruyne’s Wolfsburg and Dortmund – with hipsters’ choice Thomas Tuchel taking over from former hipsters’ choice Jurgen Klopp – will try their level best to keep up.

Paris Saint-Germain look certain to retain their Ligue 1 crown, as Angel Di Maria joins Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and David Luiz – a deep run into the latter stages of the Champions League is the aim.

Juventus will start clear favourites in Italy but the Old Lady has lost some of her favourite sons over the summer with Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Vidal heading away to varying corners of Planet Football. Rudi Garcia’s Roma have been improving season-on-season and could challenge Juve’s dominance should their squad stay healthy throughout the season.

Beside the Premier League, we should look then to the Champions League for competitiveness, where any number of around five or six teams could feasibly triumph. Though MSN make Barcelona the hot favourites, a lack of domestic challenge could help the likes of Bayern, Juventus and PSG, who’ll each be looking to improve on the continent. Whoever wins, we’re doubtless in for a treat as the best in the world vie for the ultimate prize.


Follow Icons on Twitter for all the latest football news, chat and competitions: @icons_football.

Ryan Giggs: farewell to a living legend

by Dan 20. May 2014 10:55

Imagine a life without Ryan Giggs. It is impossible. He was just always there, like Coronation Street and the BBC.

Yesterday he announced his retirement from professional football. After 23 years playing for Manchester United and 34 trophies he decided he had enough. But it is not only the number of trophies and the longevity that makes this man special. It is his skill of reinvention.

The old & new Giggs
Just after his debut, the 17-year-old was dubbed as 'the new George Best'. Giggs was a beguiling mix of ruthlessness and grace. The way he ran, the way he passed, the way he moved was balletic but it was also wholly damaging to opponents. But those inelastic hamstrings panged once too often. No more could he play with the same wild abandon. Top speed wasn't an option as pragmatism crept in where once was unadulterated joy.

He needed to change his way of play and evolved in the elder statesman we know today. The new Giggs got wise; he went from not being able to cross properly to playing slide-rule passes at will. Travelling with the ball became less belting down the flank and more subtle feigns and shifts of balance. It helped him win everything more times than anyone ever.

Great guy to work with
As a person Giggs never changed. We have a long standing work relationship with him, and he is still the nice guy we met for the first time more than 15 years ago. He embarks upon a new and exciting chapter in his life, as assistant manager of Manchester United. And we, we will always remember his contribution to the game with a fantastic range of authentic autographed Giggs memorabilia.

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Icons' 2013-14 Season Predictions

by Al 14. August 2013 08:03

It's that time again. After a summer of European grounds empty but for the odd testimonial match, the new football season returns at last this Saturday (17 August). And not a minute too soon - between Jose Mourinho's surprise Chelsea return, David Moyes' new era at Manchester United and a busy transfer window for Europe's big guns there's a sense that 2013-14 will be the most open and exhilirating campaign in years. But who'll come out on top? Here's the Icons team's tips to succeed.

Dan Jamieson, Managing Director

Premier League top 4:

1) Chelsea 2) Manchester City 3) Manchester United 4) Liverpool

Premier League top scorer: Sergio Aguero

La Liga winners: Barcelona

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

FA Cup: Everton

League Cup: Cardiff

Premier League bottom 3:

18) Stoke City 19) Hull 20) Crystal Palace

Championship teams to come up:

1) QPR 2) Watford 3) Wigan

Surprise packages: Club - Cardiff City, Player – Coutinho, Kagawa both after taking a season to settle in

Random predictions: Coutinho to be player of the year, Wenger to not be Arsenal manager this time next year, World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina 


Kyle Diller, US Marketing

Premier League top 4: 

1) Manchester United 2) Chelsea 3) Manchester City 4) Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League top scorer: Robin van Persie

La Liga winners: Real Madrid

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

FA Cup: Manchester United

League Cup: Arsenal

Premier League bottom 3:

18) Aston Villa 19) Stoke City 20) Crystal Palace

Championship teams to come up: 

1)Watford 2) Notingham Forest 3) Wigan

Surprise packages: Club - Cardiff City, Player - Wilfried Zaha 

Random predictions: Southampton to finish in the top half of the table


Ben Soley, Marketing and Sales Manager

Premier League top 4:

1) Chelsea 2) Man City 3) Man Utd 4) Spurs

Premier League top scorer:  RVP / Aguero

La Liga winners: Real Madrid

Champions League winners: PSG

FA Cup: Man City

League Cup: Arsenal

Premier League bottom 3:

18) Sunderland 19) Palace 20) Hull

Championship teams to come up:

1) QPR 2) Watford 3) Wigan

Surprise packages: Wilfred Bony, Victor Wanyama and Norwich

Random predictions: Steven Caulker to score on his debut, Liverpool fans to spend next summer worrying who will steal Phillipe Coutinho from them, Ben Soley to win the Icons Fantasy League title in April


Scott Hutchinson, US Partner

Premier League top 4:

1) Chelsea 2) Man United 3) Man City 4) Arsenal

Premier League top scorer: Aguero

La Liga winners: Real Madrid

Champions League winners: Chelsea

FA Cup: Chelsea

League Cup: Millwall 

Premier League bottom 3:

18) West Brom 19) Palace 20) Hull

Championship teams to come up:

1) QPR 2) Blackpool 3) Leeds

Surprise packages: Luke Shaw, Romelu Lukaku

Random predictions: Rooney scores more goals than RVP in 13-14, Liverpool fans to spend next summer wondering if anyone will (please) buy Phillipe Coutinho from them, AVB gets canned from Spurs


Edward Freedman, Chairman

Premier League top 4:

1) Chelsea 2) Man Utd 3) Man City 4) Arsenal

Premier League top scorer: RVP

La Liga winners: Barcelona

Champions League winners: Bayern

FA Cup: Arsenal

League Cup: Swansea

Premier League bottom 3:

18) Hull 19) Cardiff 20) Crystal Palace

Championship teams to come up:

1) Reading 2) Derby 3) Wigan

Surprise packages: Premier League manager sacked within 4 weeks

Random predictions: Rooney transfer to Chelsea


Al Horner, Editorial

Premier League top 4:

1) Chelsea 2) Man City 3) Man United 4) Tottenham

Premier League top scorer: Robin van Persie

La Liga winners: Real Madrid

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

FA Cup: Tottenham

League Cup: West Ham

Premier League bottom 3:

18) Sunderland 19) Cardiff 20) Hull City "Tigers" (Ugh)

Championship teams to come up:

1) Reading 2) Wigan 3) Brighton

Surprise packages: Zaha, Coutinho, Navas

Random predictions: England to miss out on World Cup qualification


Follow Icons on Twitter for all the latest football news, chat and competitions: @icons_football

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Icons' 2012-13 Goal of the Season award: Robin van Persie

by Al 11. June 2013 12:49

It was just meant to be. Who better to secure the goal that would confirm Manchester United as champions of England once more than Robin van Persie, scorer of so many vital goals in the 2012-13 campaign? And what better way to score it? Thirteen minutes had passed in a April 23 game where victory would land the Reds their 20th Premier League title when the Dutchman, already with one goal to his name, darted across a helpless Aston Villa back line to meet a stunning 50-yard Wayne Rooney pass, thumping it first time from the edge of the area past Brad Guzan.

By the time he completed an astonishing first half hat trick in the 33rd minute, the Old Trafford faithful were still in a state of shock. In terms of technique, precision and power, it was up there with anything witnessed at the ground in recent years - which with Manchester United, a team whose attacking football breeds all kinds of breathtaking moments, is really saying something. Not since Rooney's famous bicycle kick against Manchester City in 2011 had a United player scored a goal as both meaningful and spectacular. Sir Alex Ferguson called it "the goal of the century".

"It was a great pass from Wayne for a start. He had to spot my run because I went in front of Ron Vlaar," the 29-year-old told MUTV after the final whistle. "It was straight into my path. I was counting my steps. The only thing I had to do was time it right and keep my body straight, level with the ball. You need to be a bit lucky with those goals because most of them go over or wide. That didn't, which was a big relief."

The goal ended any realistic chance of Aston Villa stopping United in their tracks on their march to a title, and Manchester City fans - hoping Ferguson's side would slip up, as they did a year previous with several points in hand over their rivals - let out a final sigh of defeat. Robin van Persie, United's number 20, had delivered United title number 20.


Follow Icons on Twitter for all the latest football news, chat and competitions: @icons_football

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Manchester United are champions again! Their Premier League titles in photos...

by Al 23. April 2013 10:41

A Robin van Persie first half hat-trick gave Manchester United victory last night against Aston Villa - not to mention the small matter of the Reds' 20th ever league title. As English football applauds a historic achievement, here's their 13 Premier League trophy wins in photos. Altogether now United fans: "glory, glory Man United..."