About La Liga UK
Like most of my friends and 90% of the male population, my interest in football started from a very young age; both playing and watching. My first love was, and still is, Liverpool Football Club. On that fateful day in April 1989, at the age of 8, I can still remember the newspaper and television coverage of the event. Seeing all the scarves, the support and uniting together of the fans in a time of pain was something that would have a profound effect on my life. I didn't know where Liverpool was, I barely knew where the Midlands was, but when the FA Cup Final was played a few weeks later I knew which team I wanted to win and they were wearing red. I desperately wanted Liverpool to win that match; it felt right as a tribute to the 96 people that lost their lives and it has felt right ever since.
I have always had an interest in football from different countries, since the Channel 4 days of "Gazzetta Football Italia" - watching James Richardson on a Saturday morning was a must see. There was less football on television in those days, so I watched any that I could to get my fix. To this day I try to watch as much football from different leagues as possible - I don't subscribe to the Andy Gray view that there is only one league that matters or even two (or any of his other opinions on women for that matter).
In 2004 it was announced that Rafa Benitez would be the new manager of Liverpool. What did I know of him? Very little if I'm honest, other than he was a successful manager at Valencia, who had managed to topple the big two in Spain. I had watched the Galactico era at Real Madrid unfold, Super Depor, the Spanish sides taking on Europe and the national team which in those days seemed to be similar to that of England's (or so we thought). For all the Spanish football I had seen to that date, I didn't have a depth of knowledge and hadn't taken the time to analyse what I was watching to the extent that I have for the last seven years.
As Liverpool started to make signings from Spain, I made it my aim to learn as much as possible about the country, the league and the players that were in it. It has been an absolute joy to watch, as the technique of the players and tactics of the managers have helped me understand Rafa's ways. I'm sure it will be the same now for the fans of AS Roma.
As a whole, the last 7 years have been something special for Spanish football; the national side becoming both European and World Champions. I don't support a side in Spain, which means I am unbiased in my writing - LFC will always remain my team, but I do have a fondness for all sides in the league for various reasons. Regularly watching one of the best club sides ever to play football in Barcelona, English players attempting to make a go of things outside their comfort zones, world-class players and the second coming of the Galactico era, have been just a few things that have stood out for me.
I'm not a trained journalist; I don't have a degree or A-levels. But I do have an understanding of football which isn't learnt in schools and universities. Football is ever-changing and as a fan and a writer it's important to move with the times. With Financial Fair Play regulations, net and gross spend of clubs and managers and a greater emphasis on tactics, it's not the same game that we watched 15-20 years ago. My aim was to write about things that I would like to read, using facts and statistics to back up my viewpoints, when and where possible. There are so many viewpoints in football whether it's the Players, Managers, Chairman, Support Staff, Owners, Conditioning Coaches, Youth Team Coaches, Directors of Football, Board Members, Medical Staff, Agents, Scouts, Journalists, Pundits and so on. It can often be impossible to know what's really happening and yet, everyone's an expert - whether it's your best friend, boss, doctor, mom or butcher. It's fine to have an opinion but that needs to be weighed up against the facts and the best sources of information. I'm no expert and neither do I claim to have inside information (if I ever do then I will let you know). My opinions are from studying the game, research, listening to the right people, speaking to the right people - knowing which journalists and pundits are good and bad is a big help. How many times have you been in a pub where you have heard lines like "Rafa spent loads of money at Liverpool" or "Zonal Marking is rubbish"? It's easy to believe the pundits' cliches but the smart people will find out for themselves.