Tushar Diwan


20 Premier League/League Division One Cups, 11 FA Cups, 4 English League Cup, 3 European Cups, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 European’s Cup Winner Cup and 1 FIFA World Cup. The Manchester United’s trophy room looks nothing short of a crowded wall of fame. Seeing the array of trophies sitting in the cabinet, Manchester United has certainly been one of the Goliaths of the football world.

However, the fall in United’s performances for the last two years has been tremendous and almost bewildering for fans. The 2014/15 campaign of the English Premier League opened with a disastrous start as United lost to Swansea on the opening day. The shock defeat to MK Dons in the Capitol One Cup was extremely humiliating.


Adapting To A New System

Louis Van Gaal’s introduction as the manager of the club after a short spell by David Moyes was well received by all the stakeholders of the club. The man’s curriculum vita is flooded with success at some of the best clubs of the world. The club’s pre-season added to that excitement as United remained without defeat and won against Real Madrid, Liverpool, Inter and Roma to claim the Guinness International Cup. Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation has not been effective yet and might not in the future, given the fact that the team’s centre backs are devoid of experience and the team lacks wing-backs who can move up and down the entire wing. In order to regain their former glory, here Manchester United needs more than just a bunch of praying fans.


Underperforming Players

In a recent interview, Louis Van Gaal disclosed that he has found two types of players at the club, players who are not performing at the level he wants them to and players who do not want to perform at the required level. Mutiny from United players has been quite evident over the past season even under David Moyes’ reign. Shinji Kagawa was late for a flight for a match and Welbeck and Smalling were caught creating havoc in bars. Discipline, a virtue that was strictly followed by Sir Alex Ferguson in his own draconian way, seems to be lost at the moment. Tom Cleverley’s flimsy passes and Ashley Young’s inability to get past players has been infuriating fans. Anderson, Fletcher, Evans and Smalling have all been under-performing and face the scrutiny of fans over social media platforms wanting them to be offloaded.


Depth of Squad

The club has suffered some bad transfer windows over the past few years. Refusing to spend too much money and other clubs hijacking United’s bids for players have been two key elements for the failures. Therefore, the club lacks depth in its squad. The club faces a huge dearth of quality centre-midfield players and centre-backs. The team facing MK Dons over the past week had 3 strikers, 3 wingers and 2 midfielders playing a 3-5-2 formation. Van Gaal also revealed that the squad lacks balance with 4 no. 10s in the team.

As a reality check for every United fan, the rebuilding of the club will take time. The squad has been infused with 4 players until now including Angel Di Maria. Patience is what United fans need to hold onto for now.

(That said, it is inevitable for me to say that my respect for Sir Alex Ferguson has grown exponentially after realizing that the man won the EPL with the current squad)




The man famously referred to as “Super Frank” retired from international football yesterday. Frank Lampard decided to pull the plug on his international career at the age of 36 with 106 caps for the national side.


The Englishman debuted internationally  against Belgium in 1999, which the English won 2-1. He scored his first goal for the national side in 2003, cruising past Croatia 3-1. He was also the top scorer for England in the World Cup qualifiers in 2006, the campaign which unfortunately ended in the quarter-finals against Portugal.

Lampard was involved in a huge controversy at the South Africa World Cup of 2010 which saw his team crash out of the tournament in the Last-16 round. England played Germany in the first knockout round and being 2-1 behind, Lampard’s shot hit the underside of the crossbar and clearly bounced behind the goal line. However, the goal was not given and England was eliminated with the final score as 4-1. Many believe that this was the final straw in the goal-line technology debate.

Lampard surpassed David Platt in March 2014 to become the highest scoring midfielder ever for the English side with 28 goals in his kitty. He was given the final farewell in the 2014 World Cup as he captained the side in a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica in the group stage.

Lampard’s collection of trophies at the club level outshines his contribution to the English side. The man won three Premier League titles, the Champions League, Europa League, four FA Cups and two League Cups for Chelsea. Lampard made his debut at the club level for West Ham United but moved to Chelsea in 2001 and burst onto the scene in Mourinho’s reign.

Frank Lampard’s decision to quit international football comes after a number of veteran footballers quit their respective national sides. Andrea Pirlo, Miroslav Klose, Steven Gerrard and David Villa are among many others who decided to end their international career.

Lampard is currently at rival club, Manchester City on a loan from New York FC after leaving Chelsea in the 2014 summer transfer window.


The Grand Slam of the Big Apple is back! The US Open starts on Monday, 25th August in New York. This is the last major of the 2014 season and is played on synthetic grounds. Stars from all around the world have arrived to the Flushing Meadows during this two-week long tournament.

Looking at the men’s roster, it is equally star-studded as before. However, last year’s champion Rafael Nadal has been ruled out of the tournament due to a wrist injury. This might just mean an opportunity for a rising star to bank on this chance. The youngsters, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic might put up quite a show at this year’s competition after strong performances from each of them this season. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray still remain the top guns that exude high chances of featuring in the last two rounds of the tournament. However, Djokovic’s performances have been dropping this year as he went out in the early stages of the Rogers Cup and Western & Southern Cup. Andy Murray too, has been rustic after his surgery. Roger Federer is said to be in top form at the moment however, it might be difficult for him to cope with the high energy action considering his age. Federer was close to winning his record-breaking 18th Slam at the Wimbledon this year but was defeated at the last hurdle by Djokovic.

The woman’s competition can be full of surprises after the last year’s champion and the usually dominant; Serena Williams is showing signs of sluggish form this season. Serena has not even made it to the quarterfinals of any major this year. Ana Ivanovic, who many people forgot after a short spell of good tennis, is showing strong performances again. Maria Sharapova won the French Open this year while Li Na conquered the heat at the Australian Open. Romanian, Simona Halep has been the talk of the season as she was ranked no. 2 in the WTA rankings and is sure to be a big threat. Eugenie Bouchard can also come out on top as the Canadian has entered the semis of every major this season.

The tournament ends on the 8th of September. Ten Sports is the official broadcasting partner of the tournament for the Indian subcontinent.

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The English Premier League kicked off this weekend. The 2014/15 season began as Manchester United and Swansea City went head-to-head in the first game.

With all the top sides improving their squads over the transfer season, the new season can be tipped as the most competitive since 1991, the year of inception of the Premier League.

With a shuffle in teams, many big-name players have joined the most viewed league in the world. Chelsea has rebuffed their squad by splashing millions in the transfer market. Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have arrived from the La Liga. The club has also re-signed the club legend, Didier Drogba.  Manchester City, on the other hand, has signed the French defender, Mangala. Also, Spanish midfielder, David Silva signing a new 5-year deal can be a huge boost for the team. Liverpool has lost their biggest asset/liability, Luis Suarez, who moved to Barcelona right after the World Cup. The club’s replacements have been Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, all from Southampton FC. Manchester United has again been quite silent on the transfer front with only two signings, Luke Shaw and Anders Herrera bringing harsh criticism towards the CEO Ed Woodwards. The club has been linked with numerous players, like Angel Di Maria, Arturo Vidal and Cuadrado. However, deals are yet to materialise. The club’s manager still stands by his claim of buying when he feels it’s right.

Arsenal come from a early trophy-haul after winning the FA Community Shield against Man City last weekend while Manchester United come from winning the Guinness International Champions Cup held in the USA and winning all of their matches while doing so. Getting Louis Van Gaal has seen a very positive response from all stakeholders of the club, be it the player, fans or the management. The tactics-master is sure to bring an extra edge to United’s gameplay, as shown in the pre-season. Chelsea has also performed well, with both Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas netting goals. A match between Chelsea and Man United will be closely watched this season (if it wasn’t already) since Louis Van Gaal has previously trained Jose Mourinho and it will be interesting to see the apprentice go against his master.

However, the teams come from big pre-seasons and the World Cup which ended in July. Fatigue can be a major concern for many players as well as coaches in the early stages of the season. Regardless, the season is expected to be extremely competitive.

With cricket being synonymous with every Indian, we take a look at some other sports going for the big in this country.


The sport which is considered for the well elite is gaining immense popularity in India. Over the past few years, golf has been growing annually at around 25 percent. The country boasts of approximately 5,00,000 players, a number which continues to grow. Golf, which is usually associated with middle-aged and senior citizens, is gaining popularity among the youth of the country. With new golf courses popping up, the future for the game looks bright. Anirban Lehri, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Jeev Singh Milkha are some famous golfers of India. The Hero Indian Open, one of the flagship open of India which is held at the Delhi Golf Club every year has started to attract crowds in thousands.


With emerging shuttlers such as Saina Nehwal and Jwala Gutta coming up, the Indian badminton paradigm has completely changed. In the recent years, we have had an Olympic bronze- medalist and a world number 2 from India. This growing potential of the sport has also caught the eye of corporate world which led to the inception of Indian Badminton League (IBL) in an inter-state competitive format similar to the Indian Premier league (IPL). The first edition was quite successful and the tournament gathered a cumulative viewership of about 21.7 million according to a Deloitte report. The tournament offered a winning prize of $1 million, the highest for a badminton tournament ever in the world.


The sport, known to many as the “national sport of India”, has seen some dark days in the past few decades. Inadequate investment in the sport led to India’s inability to adapt to the modern game which ultimately has caused this sport’s decline since the 1970s. However in the recent years, big companies have started to invest in the sport and channels have started to take initiatives to bring the sport to the masses. Hockey India League was a small but a significant step taken in this direction. This year, Star Sports planned to spend Rs.100 crore on advertising and promoting the event, which was four times the budget allocated for the year 2012. “We want to create a multi-sport culture in India. Cricket is already big and we want to grow other sports like hockey as well,” said Nitin Kukreja, head of sports business for Star India to a leading Indian daily. “To do that production and how it looks on the screen is very important.” This year, the tournament calculated a viewership of 41.4 million.


Of all the sports excluding cricket, the one which follows a huge fan-following in this nation is football. Since the broadcasting of the English Premier League (EPL) in India, the sport has grown exponentially over the years. The 90 minute play-time is perfect for our reducing attention span and the match times fit perfectly for the people.  All big clubs like Manchester united, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Liverpool have set up academies in India and see India as a potential hotspot for talent. An EPL-like tournament, Indian Super League is also set to kickoff this year. It is an initiative of one of the biggest companies of India, Reliance together with IMG and has team owners like Ranbir Kapoor, Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. The league has also roped in veteran players such as Andy Cole and Diego Forlan coming in as coaches. For the Indian football, these sure seem to be exciting times.

The FIFA World Cup 2014 kicked off on 12th June in the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paolo with Brazil defeating Croatia 3-1 in the opening game of the tournament.

The event began with a 25-minute long opening ceremony in front of guests like the Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter. The ceremony was held in front of 62,600 fans, largely dominated by the home crowd. The opening ceremony saw performances from more than 600 artists, including acrobatic gymnasts, trampoline artists, martial arts-style capoeira performers and stilt walkers. The highlight of the event was the performance by Jennifer Lopez, Claudia Leitte and rapper, Pitbull who performed the World Cup’s official song this year, ‘We are One’.

The match began 75 minutes later and the host nation was subjected to early shocks as Brazil conceded the first goal of this World Cup through their own player, Marcelo Viera in the 11th minute. However, Brazil quickly came back with a goal from Neymar in the 29th minute. Brazil scored again via Neymar who converted the penalty after Fred was controversially awarded a penalty. The game was sealed by the host nation in the extra-time as Oscar scored a beautiful goal after beating two Croatian men. Brazil’s pace was the deciding factor in the end.

It was a good start for the host nation, considered to be a highly potential contender for this year’s World Cup.

The 113th edition of French Open, ‘French Open 2014’ held at Stade Roland Garros in Paris concluded on Sunday with Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal taking the championship home in their respective categories of women’s and men’s singles.

The women’s singles final was held on Saturday where the Russian Maria Sharapova emerged as the winner beating the Romanian Simona Halep in a three-set match. This was the 27 year-old Sharapova’s second French Open title and her 50th match overall that she had won in the Roland Garros, more than in any other Grand Slam.

Sharapova claimed that it was the toughest final she had ever played after the match, which ended with the score 6-4 6-7 6-4. Sharapova was the favourite for the title after Serena Williams and Li Na both made early exits from the competition. However, her path was not easy as she had to come back after losing a set in successive matches to beat Sam Stosur, Garbine Muguraza and Eugenie Bouchard.

Russian Maria Sharapova lifts the French Open 2014 trophy in Women’s Singles category defeating Romanian Simona Halep.

In the men’s singles final, it was the Spaniard, Rafael Nadal who, once again, took away the title in a match worthy of a final. Nadal lost the first set to Novak Djokovic and then won straight sets 7-5 6-2 6-4. This was Nadal’s ninth French Open title in ten years, safe to say he was a born clay-court player.

Rafael Nadal will take over the World No. 1 spot as well in the WTA rankings after the win. Rafael Nadal overcame Andy Murray in the semi-finals while Novak Djokovic had to defeat the 18th seeded Ernsts Gulbis.

Rafael Nadal becomes the only person to win a Grand Slam 9 times in lawn tennis history!


Images Courtesy: The Guardian,

Real Madrid finally ended their long wait for a tenth European Cup in the club’s history. The popularly-known, ‘La Decima’ came on the night of 24th May, Saturday at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal as Madrid beat their city rivals, Atletico 4-1 in a thrilling final.

It was the second all-Spanish final and the first in the history of the competition to feature two teams from the same city. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale both started for the Los Blancos while Diego Costa was seen in the starting line-up for Atletico despite suffering an injury from the last week’s match with FC Barcelona. Rafael Varane came in for Pepe and Sami Khedira started for Xabi Alonso, who was suspended after taking a yellow card in the semi-final against Bayern Munich.

The match kicked off with a nervy start for Atletico as Real Madrid looked more comfortable on the ball. However, the hardworking team of Diego Simeone, Atletico’s Manager, started growing into the match as they left no ball uncontested and putting pressure on the Madrid players. The first goal came in the 36th minute for Atletico as Diego Godin headed the ball into the Madrid net from a rebounded corner into an empty net as Iker Casillas was caught in no-man’s land. Diego Godin had also scored in last week’s draw against Barcelona which eventually led the Atletico team to win the Spanish La Liga.

The match continued in the second half with the match being mostly contested in the midfield. The match looked set for a win by the men in red and white but their celebrations were spoilt by the long-serving Madrid man, Sergio Ramos as he headed the ball into the net in the 93rd minute. It was heartbreaking for the Atletico fans as they saw the trophy being stolen from them during the next 30 minutes.

The first period of extra-time saw a majority of the ball with the men in white. But the breakthrough came in the second half of the extra-time period with a clinical run from Angel Di Maria whose shot was saved by Courtois but rebounded in by the world’s most expensive player, Gareth Bale.  This was followed by a goal from Marcelo who ensured that the title was going to the Spanish giants. However, Atletico conceded a penalty in the dying minutes of the match to allow Cristano Ronaldo to score on his homeland. This was followed by a scuffle between Diego Simeone and Rafael Varane which eventually led to Simeone being sent off from the grounds but not for long, as shortly afterwards, the final whistle was blown.

Real Madrid ended their 12 year wait for the coveted title and Angel Di Maria was named the Man of The Match. Take a look at the highlights of the match below!

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The night of 6th April saw the repeat of the 2011 Cricket World Cup final in the Twenty20 format as India met Sri Lanka in an all-Asian final. The game was highly anticipated what with the huge fan-following the game enjoys, especially in the Indian subcontinent.

Sri Lanka reached the finals with the Rain Gods turning in their favour as the semi-final between West Indies and Sri Lanka was abandoned due to rain and the Lankans were judged the winners by the Duckworth-Lewis Method. India had had a very strong run in the competition with a hundred percent winning record in the tournament this year. The Indian side overcame a massive total of 172 runs set up South Africa in the Semi-final to win the game with 5 balls to spare. Virat Kohli shined through the game knocking an unbeaten 72 runs off 44 balls to clinch the match.

If Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team went on to win the final, it would be the first team ever in the history of the sport to hold all the major titles in its trophy cabinet, having won the One-Day World Cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy last year. The odds appeared to be in favour of the Indian side as Sri Lanka had faced a cursed streak in major trophy finals in the past, losing the One-Day World Cup finals in 2007 and 2011 and the Twenty20 World Cup final in 2009 and 2012.

Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bowl first. Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane were the openers for the Indian side. Rahane once again took an early exit to the dressing room with 3 runs off 8 balls. Virat Kohli delivered a note worthy performance yet again, again knocking 77 runs off 58 balls. The disappointment for the Indian side turned out to be the usually reliable, Yuvraj Singh, whose hard-hitting style is world renowned. He was only able to gather 11 runs off 21 balls much to the frustration of Indian fans, pretty evident from the scenes in the stadium. Overall, India put up a below-par total of 130 runs for 4 wickets.

Sri Lanka’s innings was a perfect example of the saying, “Slow and steady wins the race” as Kumar Sangakkara hit 52 runs for 32 balls remaining unbeaten to clinch the title for the Lankans and to conclude his T20 career in a perfect way. Sri Lanka won the match by 6 wickets.

The Lankans finally broke their curse in the finals much to the disappointment of the 1 billion supporters in India. Sangakkara was named the Man of The Match for match-winning innings while Virat Kohli got a well-deserved Player of the Series award for his batting prowess.

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The 5th edition of the fast-paced and exhilarating ICC Twenty20 World Cup kicked off in Bangladesh on the 16th of March with the inaugural match between the host country and the young cricketing country of Afghanistan. This is the first time that the World Cup consists of 16 nations competing for the ultimate prize in Twenty20 cricket. This move was scheduled to take place in the last World Cup held in West Indies; however, the decision was reverted back to 12 teams.

The reformatting of the tournament has raised questions from people of how the structure of the tournament is going to look like. The tournament this year consists of all the 10 full-member of the ICC International teams. The 6 remaining teams have qualified from the ICC World Twenty20 Cup qualifiers held in October 2013. These teams include Afghanistan, Nepal, Hong Kong, Ireland, Netherlands and United Arab Emirates (UAE). These teams were first divided into two groups of four – Bangladesh and Zimbabwe included. Two teams qualified from these two respective groups to the round of Super 10. These teams were Bangladesh and Netherlands. The Super 10 round consists of two groups of five team each. Group A consisted of Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Netherlands. Group B consisted of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia and West Indies. Two teams that qualify from each group will play the semi-finals and ultimately, the finals.

The tournament up till now has had some cracking matches. At the top of the list of cracking matches shall always be the nail-biting rivalry of India and Pakistan. The match this time as well, did not seize to disappoint with India winning by 7 wickets in 18.3 overs. The fairly new team of Hong Kong also registered a surprising victory over Bangladesh with 2 wickets remaining however in vain, as it was too late to stop Bangladesh from entering the Super 10 round. The tournament also saw the lowest total ever scored in a Twenty20 world Cup with Netherlands scoring only 39 runs against the veterans, Sri Lanka.

The finals of the Men’s World cup take place on April 6th at Sher-E-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.

With the international media covering only the Men’s World Cup, a lot of people do not know that the Women’s World Cup is also being held in Bangladesh. Only 10 teams are a part of the tournament with the defending Champions, Australia as the favourites. The Aussie women look to complete their hat trick of titles by winning this tournament.

The finals for the Women’s tournament also take place on the same day and at the same venue as the Men’s Final but with a time difference as the Women’s match takes place earlier.