Women's 2019 Ball d'Or Nominees

Photo credit : France Football
Last Monday saw the announcement for this years Ballon d'Or trophy nominees so today we are going to take a look at the female nominees this year. Last year's award was picked up by Ada Hegerberg however, after a fantastic World Cup year I really do believe we could see a new winner crowned. So here are this years nominees....
Lucy Bronze (Lyon) - Bronze is becoming a bit of a household name lately and was in the top 3 for the FIFA Best awards. She had a fantastic season with Lyon last season but in terms of playing for England I don't think we fully saw the best out of her, not through any fault of her own but the fact Neville seems to be desperate for her to move into midfield. She is definitely more suited to that right back role.
Ellen White (Manchester City) - If we are going just off World Cup performance's White definitely deserves to be top of this list, she had a fantastic tournament scoring goals for the fun of it helping England do really well and progress through the tournament.
Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars) - Kerr is one of those players who is absolutely fantastic but for some reason never gets the recognition she deserves. Kerr is a record breaker and seems like breaking the scoring records for fun, she has proved crucial for Chicago lately and since signing for them has helped them progress in league positions and she had a pretty good World Cup too. She is lethal in front of goal.
Nilla Fischer (Linköpings) - To be completely honest I haven't seen many games with Fischer playing but in the ones I have she has been a standout, even at 35 year old she is going strong. 
Amandine Henry (Lyon) - Henry is a fantastic player, she did brilliant at Portland and only seems to have gotten better since going to Lyon. She seems to run every game she plays and if she is in a game you will know she is playing as she always seems to be involved in plays bagging herself goals in the process.
Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) - I still aren't sure about this one. She had a pretty good World Cup but honestly it wasn't that great, yeah she scored a lot of goals but where was she the rest of the 90 minutes? As for her season with Orlando did it actually exist? In the games she did play I wouldn't say she made that much of an impact.
Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal) - Like Kerr, Miedema is another player constantly overlooked, at just 22 year old she is her countries record scorer, and last season she broke the record for the most WSL goals scored in a season. Yet she rarely gets the recognition she deserves, Miedema would definitely be one of those players you want on your team not against you.
Dzenifer Marozsan (Lyon) - Another great talent who plays for Lyon, they really do have some of the best players in the world on the team. Marozsán is one of those players you wouldn't want to face as she can be a real threat when on top of her game.
Pernille Harder (VfL Wolfsburg) - The Danish forward is another player you wouldn't want to face especially in front of goal. She is an absolutely brilliant player especially for her club team and she is a stand out for her Danish side. I do believe that she is going to really help get that Danish side up and fighting for those top spots in tournaments, particularly the Euro's
Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon) -  The French keeper played a brilliantly in the season for Lyon and did quite well in the World Cup but can she beat the rest of these nominees? For me there are others who should definitely come above her in these awards.
Marta (Orlando Pride) - Yet another player I can't understand being on the list. Orlando had a terrible year and in the games she played for them I don't believe Marta played as well as she could have. She did have a pretty good World Cup though so maybe that is what has edged her to this nomination? She may not have had her best year and probably won't win this award but honestly she will always be one of the greatest female players of all time to me.
Ada Hegerberg (Lyon) -  Is Hegerberg a great player of course she is, should she be up to for this award? Honestly I aren't 100% sold. She plays for one of the greatest teams and puts in a great performance especially in the games I have watched her play in. But with her lack of International appearances over the years I just don't see how she can be up for this award again, there are players who play a lot more games than her throughout the year and some of those put in better performances in my opinion.
Kosovare Asllani (CD Tacon) - A player who I hugely miss at Man City, Asllani is one of those players you always need to keep an eye of as she is a huge influence in the games she plays. Need a decent tackle putting in, she can make them. Need a decent strike on goal she is more than capable. Sometimes you forget she is playing but then she pops up and pulls off a spectacular tackle. This is definitely a deserved nomination. 
Sofia Jakobsson (CD Tacon) - Jakobsson is another player that always seems to slip under the radar for me maybe because I haven't paid much attention to the teams she has played for in the past. But now she is with CD Tacon alongside Asllani I think I will be seeing more of her play when possible. But she is definitely one who grabs your attention when she plays for Sweden. Plus at just 29 years old she has plenty of playing time left and will hopefully only keep on improving.
Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) - Finally Tobin is getting recognition she deserves. For some reason Heath normally gets overlooked for these sort of things but honestly she is possibly one of the most deserving players. She has the skill and the flair and can get her teams in great positions. She tracks back and defends, gets plenty of assists and even grabs herself some goals. When she is injured teams definitely miss her and I can easily say I wouldn't like to come up against her in a game.
Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC) - Well 90% of people probably won't agree with what I am about to say but here it goes anyway... I think Rapinoe can be a good player sometimes but honestly I think there are players who are much better who get over looked. For me Rapinoe is hit and miss I don't particularly think she had a good World Cup, yes she was top scorer but a lot of those were penalties. Plus she spent most of Reign's season out injured so you can't really judge her on that one. 
Lieke Martens (Barcelona) - Lieke is definitely a fantastic player, although she definitely seemed missing for the Netherlands at points in the World Cup yet when she plays for Barcelona she is absolutely fantastic. Did she do enough to make this years nominees though? I aren't too sure with some of the names are missing.
Sari van Veenendaal (Atletico Madrid) - An absolutely fantastic 'keeper in fact Sari is definitely one of the greatest in the world currently for me. Some of the saves she pulls off are absolutely unbelievable, even some of the male 'keepers would be surprised if they pulled them off. If it had to be a 'keeper who won this award she would definitely be my pick.
Wendie Renard (Lyon) - Another Lyon player surprise, surprise. To me Renard wasn't looking her best through the World Cup although she did still play really well, just to me not as well as she could have. But she has been an absolutely solid defender in that Lyon back line.
Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) - Lavelle has definitely become a bit of a stand out for the USWNT, even scoring in the World Cup final. In my opinion she 100% deserves this nomination. She is a great player already in terms of both attack and defence which really helps out both her club team and national team. To say she is so good now I can't wait to see how she progresses in the future, she could definitely be a household name in the near future.
My personal top 3 picks for this year after seeing the nominees would be Tobin Heath, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema however, I honestly believe it is going to be the same top 3 that was seen at the FIFA Best awards Lucy Bronze, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan as they seem to be the big names lately. I really do believe though there is one huge name missing from this list, Julie Ertz. Ertz has had yet another fantastic season with Chicago and had a fantastic World Cup with the USWNT but for some reason she is constantly being over looked.

Who would your top 3 picks be?

Are times changing for Bradford City?

Are things finally changing at Bradford City? After an appalling season last season Gary Bowyer has finally got a team who can play together. Last season we had players in the squad who you would have expected to run away with the league, instead we were relegated. Josh Wright kicked off the season then disappeared until the last few games, there were a few players noticeably missing which really didn't help plus there was a huge lack of communication between the team and stupid mistakes been made. This led to fans turning on the players and managers booing them off the pitch, along with trying to get joint chairman Rahic out, which eventually worked.

Bowyer was seemingly given chance to put his opinion out there to the board when it came to signings this summer and he has definitely made some good choices. One of the main ones is the signing of Paudie O'Connor from Leeds, although he is only a young player he is showing what it takes to be a great defender and I can see him only improving in the future. He somehow even managed to sign James Vaughan, why he chose City I still don't know. Bowyer has also managed to get players from last season back on track, Hope Akpan didn't really have a fantastic season last season but honestly I believe that had a lot to do with those around him not playing as they should and giving him options but this season he has been great, making runs forward getting back defending, even grabbing a few goals in the process. Another player who seems to be doing a lot better is 'keeper Richard O'Donnell, he has been pulling off some fantastic saves lately which have kept City in the game but he also looks a lot more confident and seems happier to play it out from the back rather than just kick it up field. I really do believe this may be down to how much stronger his back line is now looking and he can trust them in not messing it up. Even Anthony O'Connor seems to be doing a bit better this season but I think that may be down to actually having some competition for his spot now. 

City have played 14 games so far won 8, drawn 3 and lost 3 which is definitely a whole lot better than last season. They are currently 5 games without a loss and on their 3rd consecutive win, can they make it 4 tonight? It is nice seeing them 2nd in the table and not sitting at the bottom. The winning ways has brought the atmosphere back to Valley Parade too, so many times last season it was far too quiet as results weren't going our way, the chant you heard most was 'we want Edin out' whereas now the chants are back for the 90 minutes and K block are back on top form, you can just tell things are going back to the good old ways for the club and I am loving it. Let's just hope we can keep this up for the rest of the season and gain automatic promotion, I don't think I could go through Wembley again.

Keep an eye on here as very soon I will be doing a post all about my current favourite City players.

10 Football Facts About Me

So for today's post with the blog being new I thought I would give you a little bit more information on me and how I got into loving the beautiful game so much. It hasn't always been this way though and I think some facts may intrigue you all a little bit. So here we go here are 10 footballing facts about me...

1. I started playing at a young age as my best friend at the time wanted to join, that is why I made the switch from Rugby. Before this I had been to a lot of football matches but I preferred going to Rugby ones with my grandad. If only I knew how hooked I would get on the game.

2. I have played for a few teams over the years and even got put through a few trials for Centre of Excellences. The teams that I had the trials for were Man Utd, Leeds and Bradford City unfortunately nothing ever came of these though.

3. Kelley O'Hara has always been my favourite USWNT player, more so in recent years she has cemented herself in the number 1 spot due to how she has bounced back from injury and has claimed her spot as one of the best defenders in the world. As someone who has struggled with injury she has taught me never to give up and keep going. Plus she is absolutely hilarious.

4. Believe it or not I didn't properly get into the women's game until 2014/15. I went to an Arsenal vs Leeds game with my club when I was younger but that was it other than dipping in and out of the game. It just didn't hook me and give me the same enjoyment the men's game did but lately it is the opposite and it has been going that way for a while now sooner or later both games will be on an equal level for me.

5. I have a few signed items hanging around the house including images, books but most importantly shirts, I have a Darby training top signed by the whole Bradford City team which was to raise money for MND, at the side of that I have a signed Lucy Bronze shirt from when I met her, I actually got her to sign my phone too. 

6. Over the years I have met a lot of players and teams mainly due to my dad being head steward at City whilst I was growing up. One memory though that will always stand out to me is when Fiorentina came to Valley Parade, their players were amazing and spent a lot of time chatting to my dad and even give me a lot of badges and sausage rolls, as a little kid this was the highlight of my day.

7. I actually support the USWNT more that I support England. There is just something about that team that drew me in. So in this years world cup when it came down to the USWNT vs England I was laughed at by my family for wearing the shirt I made in the image above and cheering when Press scored. 

8. I may support Bradford City but I have always had a soft spot for Man Utd, growing up I would always get a Man Utd shirt for my birthday and I would go to games whenever I could. The most recent game was the Treble reunion.

9. From a young age every holiday me or the family went on abroad I would get a football kit (we knew they were fake it was pretty obvious) whether that was me personally picking it out or them bringing it back for me. Even to this day at 25 years old my Auntie still brings home a shirt for me, it seems to have become a tradition.

10. I will literally watch any game as football just because it is football I aren't just one of these people who will only watch 1 team. This has led me to follow plenty of teams from all around the world in both the men's and women's game along with making some friends and meeting new people along the way. The game has always been an escape for me and long may the love of the game continue for me.

So there you have it that is a little bit more about me, the person behind the blog.

Carli Lloyd : When Nobody Was Watching

I have been absolutely terrible at reading ever since I left school, YouTube and TV just slowly took over.One way I have found brilliant to ease myself back in is to read the autobiographies of some of my favourite women's football stars. To get me back into reading I decided  to tackle Carli Lloyds book When Nobody Was Watching and I am so glad I did. 

For those of you who don't know Carli Lloyd is one of the top players in the Women's football world, with her performance in the 2015 World Cup just cementing her position as one of the greatest players, I mean how many players do you know score a hattrick in a World Cup final with one of those goals coming from half way, she is just spectacular. Carli is currently playing for the NWSL side Sky Blue FC along with the USWNT but has previously played at Houston Dash and my favourite English team Manchester City on loan, in fact I am still devastated that I never made it to a game whilst she played over here.  

This book is a couple of years old now but is still full of a great timeline of Carli's forever growing time as a player. You follow her story through various Olympics, World Cups and Algarve cups and follow the highs and lows of her career up to the date of the end of the book which is just after winning the 2015 World Cup.

Not only does the book focus on Carli's rise to the top of the game but it also focuses on her family and how the effects of her decisions ultimately lead to a family rift where she ended up not seeing family for years. In the book Carli says she opted not to use a family member to act as an agent to help protect the family from any future fall outs however, this didn't go to plan and ultimately led to a family fall out and eventually Carli ended up being kicked out. Now I wouldn't have known anything in regards to this if it wasn't for the book and I would never have known how much Carli's parents were actually involved with her playing. I love how she goes on to say how family don't come to games as she doesn't really want the distraction of getting into sorting tickets and making sure they are settled, she just wants to get on and play the game. One of the main people in the whole book is James Galanis, a coach who Carli ends up teaming up with to improve on aspects of her game. Carli is super dedicated to the game, she gives it her all no matter what and she couldn't speak any higher of James. He helps her improve, makes sure she is reassured during competitions and doesn't let her beat herself up, he just motivates her to keep on pushing. Carli says in the acknowledgement the James and his family become a second family to her and you can honestly see why, with all the time they spend training together it is obvious they are going to share a special bond.

 Carli also doesn't hold back when it comes to her old team mates, how she feels like an outcast on her first call up to the National team, although she never names specific players you really get the feel the veterans on the team don't like newcomers and will do anything but make them feel welcome. She also talks about the time Hope Solo speaks out about being dropped for a veteran keeper in a game they lost, I didn't realise that as she stuck up for Hope tension grew with in the camp and she was actually told to watch her back. She refers to how her and Abby Wambach were never close due to the whole tension when she was first called up but eventually that tension disappeared and you could tell that when Abby was getting closer to retiring as they linked up well on the field together. I can't imagine how Carli would feel when players went out of their way not to make a pass to her, especially when she was more than capable of getting the team in a threatening position and scoring a goal, I know I would have gone mad not only are you effecting team play by doing that but you are making someone who can provide so much feel like they aren't needed on that pitch, if you do that to the wrong player they could really take it to heart and could put them off playing all together.

She also goes through her National team coaches, the ones who would criticise her play and go out of their way to put her down, the ones who would let her play in her own style and those who would say one thing to Carli and later on say something totally different to the media. Carli says in the book coaches would say she was difficult, but honestly from the points she makes I can see why she would be, if they went out of their way to make me feel like I was no good I would keep pushing to prove them wrong too. If they told me I trained too much I would prove to them it was the perfect amount and show just how dedicated to the cause I was. It is nice to see how as the years went on and Carli found what worked best for her certain coaches would listen to her and let her adjust training in the gym to her specific workouts. If weights don't work for some players why make them all do it, each player knows what is best for their body at the end of the day and what is best to get their best performance out of them. After reading this I really do realise why Carli plays the way she does and just why she is as good as she is. I mean she reference after the World Cup during celebrations she had a burger and chips which she usually allows herself once a year, now that is dedication in itself and proof that a legendary player doesn't just work during the season and camps but they are constantly on top of their training regime 365 days a year. I hope one day I can find that dedication Carli has and apply it to my own aspects of my life as this book has really inspired me. I also hope I can see Carli play one day so fingers crossed the USWNT come to England for a game sometime soon.

At 37 years old I am worried that Carli is coming to the end of her career but honestly I feel she still has so much to give to the footballing world. I can't see her slowing down too much and I think in the future with her leadership she will go on to great things in terms of management if she decides to take that route. I just hope when the time does come and she retires there is another book brought out filling in the blanks between the 2015 World Cup and that day as it will be great to fill in the career blanks. Plus this book is absolutely brilliant, if you like the Women's game and want a better insight into one of it's biggest names make sure you give it a read. Carli is definitely a Women's soccer legend already in my eyes and for so long I have wondered why.... now thanks to this book I totally understand.

Bradford City Women vs Brighouse Town AFC Women

How did I spend a cold and windy Thursday night? Well of course I spent it at the West Yorkshire derby. It was actually quite a surprise to me that it was going ahead as the rain barely let up all day and as kick off approached it just got worse.  It was always going to be an interesting game as Brighouse's leading scorer recently left for Barnsley and City were coming in on the back of consecutive losses and are still without a manager so how was each team going to do? Surprisingly the conditions didn't exactly effect the game either although a few players from either side slipped a few times that was it not much else was effected by the rain or wind.

Throughout the game both teams were working the ball around well but Brighouse seemed to be quicker at making decisions and getting the ball away without pressure, whereas City seemed to take a little too long at times and by the time they had made a decision on who to get the ball to, the Brighouse players had already closed them down and either they won the ball back or they were under that much pressure they ended up making a sloppy pass. Even though this was the case City did seem the stronger side in the first 15 minutes or so but it didn't last much longer.

For both me and Liam though we believed City definitely looked stronger than they did at the Stockport game we went to recently. This was mainly down to the defence and midfield looking a lot stronger and coming together to stop Brighouse's chances. It just seems as though as much as City try get a goal their final 3rd is lacking and opportunities are getting wasted. Two of the City players who really stood out to me were Roberts and Norde, their attacking runs were brilliant and they managed to beat quite a few Brighouse players to put the team in some great positions but again that play in the final 3rd was lacking unfortunately.

It took until the 25th minute for Brighouse to break the deadlock and that came through a penalty converted by Cass. It seemed as though one of the City players slid in and the possible momentum of the wet surface lead her to take down the Brighouse player. It was an unfortunate one for City as they had played really well and didn't really deserve to go a goal down.

Both before and after the penalty both teams seemed to be taking their chances with long range efforts but to be honest only a few of them looked threatening. Throughout the 90 minutes Brighouse definitely had the most chances and the scoreline definitely reflected that.

Brighouse claimed their second goal in the 29th minute a bit of a snap shot around the City defence from Beresford went straight into the bottom corner although it did look as though it took a little bit of a deflection. A 3rd came just a few minutes later as Brighouse rocketed the ball into the top corner to make it 3-0. City did try to claw one back not long after as the ball was worked around the pitch well and a break that featured both White and Norse saw Norde's low driven shot saved by the Brighouse keeper. Maxted also tried to get in on the action as she hit a long range shot that looked to have had the keeper beaten but unfortunately the ball rattled off the cross bar and unfortunately bounced back into play.

City may have started off well but once Brighouse got the penalty the game seemed to shift and fell into Brighouse's rhythm as they seemed fired up and at half time the score was 3-0 to the home side, a score line that honestly represented how the first half went.

Not long after the restart City had another chance as Stube took another long range shot that looked promising but the Brighouse keeper pulled off a brilliant save and pushed the ball around the goal for a corner, although the Brighouse keeper didn't have much to do last night she did really well when actually called into action.

Throughout the 2nd half City made all 3 off their substitutes which saw White, Sales and Roberts taken off and respectively replaced by Sumaili, Prothero and Donna but unfortunately none of the replacements could really make an impact in the time they were given.

City keeper Routledge pulled off some absolutely fantastic saves throughout the game but unfortunately Brighouse did score a 4th, but to be completely honest I do believe that if City didn't have Routledge the score line could have been a lot worse as at time she was willing to put her body on the line when needed and saving some shots that could have very easily found themselves in the back of the net. 

Unfortunately though the 4th goal did come and confirmed Brighouse's win it was a nice finish but was quite questionable as there could have easily been ruled out as the ball seemed to strike a Brighouse players hand in the build up play, there were plenty of appeals from the City players but the goal stood. 

Roberts had one final chance before being substituted off when Sumaili was fouled on the edge of the box. Roberts stepped up to take the resulting free kick and although it looked good and beat the keeper it unfortunately beat the goal too and went over for a goal kick. I think the fact that was so close just summed up City's night, just being unable to find the back of the net.

City did play a lot better in the 2nd half but there were just no breakthrough for them and the game finished 4-0 to Brighouse which was a deserved win as they capitalised on the chances given and just looked an overall more organised side. Rob Mitchell their manager has done really well with picking his team and getting them working together I think they are going to do really well this season and are definitely league winner contenders. As for City fingers crossed when they bring in their new manager that manager can hopefully get the team to where they should be, winning games. Once they get better in that final 3rd I really do believe they could end up picking 3 points in their games as they have the defence and the threats already in place, it is just a case of making the most of what happens on the edge of the area.