As It Stands- England, really?

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Roy Hodgson’s England side are this week’s #1

# UP/DOWN The Culprit As It Stands
10 Jack Wilshere Back in training…again. And still in contention to be part of the England squad-how?! The midfielder is rarely fit and certainly won’t be at the physical levels required for the European Championship.
9 Remi Garde It’s a shame that  a man with such a reputation for attractive attacking football and youth development chose to dive into the viper’s nest that is Aston Villa. The club have been on the slide ever since the departure of Martin O’Neill and look set to be playing in the second tier next season. That being said, Garde did himself no favours during his short stint at the club, with it looking as though he’s given up before ever really getting started.
8 Ronny Deila With Rangers nearing promotion back to the Scottish top flight, Ronny Deila’s perceived underperformance at Celtic could see him leave at the end of the season. This is in spite of winning a Scottish Premiership and League Cup double last year and leading the table this season. The real gauge of his success will be the Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers at Hampden Park in a few weeks time.
7 Benoît Assou-Ekotto The man who admitted that football is just a job has gone one step further, saying that he buys his boots on eBay- saying that he would “rather be free than prostitute myself for a sponsor“.
6 FIFA, UEFA and Gianni Infantino The man that is meant to usher in a new era of transparency for FIFA has a lot of explaining to do. Amongst the 11 million documents leaked in the Panama Papers scandal, contains some regional broadcasting contracts signed off by Mr.Infantino while he was at UEFA. The problem is that the rights were sold to two men currently wanted for extradition to the United States as part of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in football. If any evidence comes out against the new FIFA president, it could be the final nail in the coffin for the governing body.
5 Non-League Another gem plucked out of obscurity is Freddie Ladapo, signed by Crystal Palace from Margate. The 23-year-old had scored 10 goals this season before his dream move and will now have to step up a level and force his way into Alan Pardew’s matchday 18.
4 The FA Cup The spirit of the cup is alive and well. With teams like Crystal Palace, Watford and (potentially) West Ham reaching the semi-finals, the Cup can almost claim to match this year’s Premier League for entertainment.
3 US Women’s National Team Equal pay should be a given in the modern game, but the US WNT have filed a complaint against the US Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to gain parity with their male peers and have the backing of many in the Women’s Super League on these shores.
2 Johan Cruyff It seems strange to be ranking Cruyff in this table, but there is a reason he gets an upvote- sometimes you cannot truly appreciate something until it is gone. The impact that the Dutchman had around the world can be measured in the worldwide outpouring of emotion and gratitude for one of the greats of the game.
1 England A scintillating finish to the friendly against Germany and a burgeoning crop of bright young players…are you sure this is England? The usual hype surrounding major tournaments could actually be justified for the first time since the ‘golden generation’ under Sven Goran Eriksson. We however, are keeping our powder dry…it’s better to be surprised than disappointed- just ask Leicester City fans.
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As It Stands- FA People’s Cup

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Gianni Infantino became the new president of FIFA this week.

# UP/DOWN The Culprit As It Stands
10 The Sun And the Oscar for worst front page of the year goes to…you guessed it…The Sun. The “Paedo in his Speedos” headline the day after the verdict was delivered in the Adam Johnson sex abuse trial has already drawn scathing criticism from all quarters.
9 the ‘Big Five’ In a season where the ‘big’ clubs have bemoaned the amount of fixtures they have to face compared to shock-title-contenders Leicester, you have to question their motive behind the proposed ICC ‘Big Five’ tournament over the summer months.
8 Galatasaray Banned from participating in European football for a a year after breaching financial fair play regulations. This to be honest is not entirely unexpected after a season where Turkish league rules on foreign players have been relaxed allowing more investment. But the real question is how are clubs like PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City getting away with a slap on the wrist while Gala get punished?
7 Paok Fans It’s all Greek to me. Over and over again, there is Greek crowd trouble. Whether its at home or in Europe. It seems no punishment deters those bringing the game into disrepute. Perhaps something more drastic is needed- a season of games played behind closed doors perhaps? It ,may be harsh, but it would ensure it never happens again.
6 Arsenal Yet again Arsenal are falling away as the pressure increases towards the end of the season. Yet again Arsene Wenger blames referees and injuries for their post-Christmas dip in form. Jack Whitehall’s opinion of Robin van Persie is humourous, but at this rate RVP is looking like the clever one after leaving the Gunners to win titles elsewhere.
5 Women’s Football Eight months on from the hugely successful Women’s World Cup, the SheBelieves Cup provides the sport with the opportunity to take another step forward. England are not competing in the Summer Olympics in Rio so will look to Mark Sampson-Women’s World Coach of the Year- to give them a plan for success.
4 FIFA (maybe) Gianni Infantino is the new President of FIFA, and says he is looking to push through major reforms- some of which have already been implemented. The Legends match (in which he also played) was a slick bit of PR. But we have our reservations about a man who grew up a stones throw from Sepp Blatter and was  one of Michel Platini’s closest allies…
3 Sport Relief- 5-a-side Watching former footballers pull their boots back on is a real treat. Seeing Robbie Savage get nutmegged by someone half his age is even better. The memories that are conjured up as Alan Shearer performs his trademark celebration after scoring a goal, brilliant. But the best thing is that it’s all in a good cause. Sport Relief seems to be getting bigger and better every year and AIS applauds them for their good work.
2 Liverpool After capitulating against Manchester City in the League Cup Final penalty shootout at Wembley, Liverpool were able to regain some pride by beating the Citizens 3-0 on Wednesday night. it was particularly memorable for Jon Flanagan’s full blooded tackle on former red Raheem Sterling.
1 FA People’s Cup This is real all-inclusive football. no racism, sexism, or prejudice of any kind. Men against women, amputees against the able bodied. A fantastic initiative from the FA to open football up to everyone and anyone- football as it should be.

As It Stands- Messi

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Lionel Messi is this week’s #1.

# UP/DOWN The Culprit As It Stands
10 Adam Johnson Dropped by Adidas, sacked by Sunderland, and now he’s in court…the less said the better.
9 Edin Dzeko After submitting his entry for most shocking miss of all time, Edin Dezko did eventually manage to stick the ball into the back of the net- twice- which keeps him off the bottom of the table for now.
8 Louis van Gaal The FA Cup Fith Round win over League One Shrewsbury provided a stay of execution for the not-so-flying Dutchman, but he did manage to stab himself in the face with a pencil. How do you manage that gaffer?
7 West Bromwich Albion It’s not been the best of times for Baggies fans recently, with rumours circulating about the possible departure of their manager, Tony Pulis, and the ongoing Saido Berahino saga. But after one pathetic fan (and AIS uses that term in the loosest possible sense)threw a coin at club captain Chris Brunt following the 3-1 defeat to Reading, the club moved swiftly to assist the authorities in catching the ‘fan’ and repairing the relationship between their skipper and “true supporters” of the team.
6 Manuel Pellegrini After showing some cojones by announcing his summer departure, forcing Manchester City’s hand in confirming the arrival of Pep Guardiola, Pellegrini has, well, mierda all over his reputation by fielding a vastly inexperienced team against the recently revitalised Chelsea in the FA Cup. City have a squad with enough strength in depth capable of challenging on four fronts…what a cop out.
5 Juventus If you believe the rumours, Massimiliano Allegri may be on his way to Stamford Bridge in the summer. At half time, 2-0 down to Bayern Munich at home, that move looked to be in doubt. But three brilliant substitutions and 45 minutes later, Juventus had clawed their way back into the tie to draw 2-2. If he can do that with Juve against Bayern, can he do it with Chelsea against Manchester City?
4 PSG Yes they have an embarrassment of riches, yes their subs bench probably makes more than most Ligue 1 starting elevens, but Paris Saint Germain are still unbeaten in the French top-flight and that has to be commended. When you are quite simply that much better than your contemporaries, it can be all too easy to become complacent, we should applaud them for not doing so.
3 Gary Neville The tan looks a little out of place on the former England full-back, but the 6-0 result against Rapid Vienna in the Europa League will surely have him feeling more at home in Valencia. Two wins on the bounce sees the Englishman abroad shoot straight up the AIS table.
2 Cheltenham Town If you haven’t seen the worst free-kick routine so far this year…you really should. A friend told AIS that Cheltenham have the best goal difference in the country, and have only lost two league games all season. They must be getting cocky after attempting this clusterf**k. What were they doing? You ask, we don’t know either.
1 Lionel Messi Who else could possibly be number one? There is little left unsaid about the diminutive Argentine wizard, but he still continues to dazzle and delight in equal measure- finally beating Petr Cech- much to the disappointment of Arsenal fans.