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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blog Stats: Thank You Readers & Now Your Chance To Write For Us!


It's around 5 months & 6 days since I started this blog, back in October. It was on a whim, a totally spontaneous decision, founded on the need to express my thoughts, my opinions, my views (alright, they are all the same thing!) on the Wayne Rooney saga. I wasn't even a guest author on some established blog, so it seemed the only way to do that. So I started this blog, which was first called 'Traffordshire.com' - a name I had in mind way back since 9th grade. Then one friend told me (like Justin Timberlake tells Jesse Eisenberg in 'The Social Network') that cut the 'dot com' part in the name, coz in the end I'd confuse the handful of readers, who would type in the name as the URL next time only to get the 'Error. Page Not Found' result. Since the name Traffordshire alone did not suffice for me, Traffordshire County was born.

I know I haven't been able to write more of late, as regular readers (if there are any!) might have observed the decline in the frequency of posts as every month passed. But then, my schedule doesn't allow me either to write as frequently as the best guys in the business, say Republik of Mancunia, The Busby Way, United Latest or someone like them. Honestly, I would've written more had my current routine not been so exhausting. But then, everytime I get down to write something on the blog, it's always felt great!

Now as the headline may have indicated, this post relates to the stats of the blog. Ideally, I would've written this when I'd have completed 6 months, but my super-occupied pre-exam time during the next one & a half months will probably stop me from writing much, or anything to be precise. So I present to you, the readership results of Traffordshire County, at the end of 5 months!


I'm pleased to say that Traffordshire County achieved 5500+ visits (courtesy Blogger Stats) as on 20th March 2011, with a substantial rise in readership from late December 2010. The first 2 months had some 900+ visits, but the last 3 months have recorded 1500+ visits each time to propel the figure beyond the mark of 1100+ readers every month! Thank you so much all of you readers!

The readership of my blog is highest in the United Kingdom (900+), followed by the United States (650+) and my native India coming third (500+) on the list. Also, notable mentions to our readers from Indonesia, Denmark, Singapore & Malaysia (250+ each). I'll say I'm not surprised by the highest numbers coming from the UK, given the fact it's the birthplace of football. But India coming below the US? That's not something I anticipated. Where are you my dear Indian readers? I need my countrymen to read my blog! Looks like I'll have to fare much better in reaching out to more United fans in India. Maybe Sid of 'Bangalore To Old Trafford' (read his awesome blog) gobbled up all of them before I even started writing!

The most popular post has been the one which reported the fact that Man United was the most supported club in India. The post was liked so much that it even got a reckon from 'EPL Talk' (listen to their weekly podcast, it's simply awesome!), which actually helped push further traffic onto the site! Only a small bunch bunch of Scousers came out denouncing this, as expected. Apart from that, I'm pleased to tell that the unique (yes, I can claim it) blog feature 'EPL Weekly Round-Up' has been very popular, alongside other blog features 'Rival Rendezvous' & the club transfers special 'In & Out'. I plan to convert the buzzing weekly feature 'In A Nutshell' into a sort of newsletter soon, given the fact that it's been attracting readers in recent times. It's my promise that Traffordshire County will keep bringing new & innovative features to all the readers of our blog!

This blog has also helped me gain some standing on other blogs. I first got an opportunity to write a guest column for the blog 'Bangalore To Old Trafford', and then I was given the chance to co-write the United section of the excellent football blog 'BigFourZa' on a regular basis! And all of this because of you, readers. Had the readership of the blog dwindled, I would've left writing out here long time back. But since you guys kept coming back, it gave me great encouragement to continue my passion for writing. Thank you so very much!

As to the feedback part, it's not very often that I get comments on my blog. I've written over 45 blogposts, but the total number of comments till date is just 13. I've always held that readership is important, but if a reader tells the writer how good or bad he is, the writer can only go on to become a better one. So it's my humble request to you, if you feel like commenting, please do comment! It's a gesture I believe even the most popular blogger in the world would appreciate.

As I told you before, I've been busy of recent. So I think I won't mind having another writer on my blog, either a regular one or even as a guest author. I know there are many guys out there who have it in them to write, but for some reason haven't done it yet. So if you got something to say to the world (including non-United fans), you can write in to me anytime at abhinav.c.208@gmail.com & I'll see to it that it gets published to the modest readership of Traffordshire County.

Hope you liked the new 'RED' look of the blog. Even if you didn't, feel free to tell me that by leaving your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away! And don't forget to check out the new poll question on the blog!!!

In case you want to read the best football insight ever (including mine!), you can check out my writings on the excellent football blog 'BigFourZa' by clicking here.

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Champions League Preview: Manchester United vs. Olympique Marseille

Hey everyone! Great to be back out here after a space of around two weeks. Must confess that I've got a college exam tomorrow, but just felt like writing, you know? So, here I am...

Like every other Manchester United fan, the 2-0 victory over Arsenal on Saturday provided great relief to me, given the way we lost 2 consecutive away games at Chelsea & Liverpool. More striking was the manner we beat the Gunners - with a team of 7 conventional defenders in the starting line-up! Good news also in the event of Luis Antonio Valencia making his first appearance since injuring his right ankle back in September. And then, a mouth-watering FA Cup semi-final clash versus Man City at Wembley awaits us in mid-April!


Now onto the game on hand. Tomorrow, Manchester United play French side Marseille in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 at Old Trafford. The first leg, as you will possibly know, ended in a dull 0-0 draw, with neither side able to find the back of the net. United especially were guilty of not making most of their chances. Tomorrow's game stands as an opportunity to make amends & advance to the last eight of the European competition.

On the injury front, United have quite a no. of players missing. Ferdinand & Jonny Evans are out, which means that the young (and brilliant, of course) Chris Smalling will again partner skipper Nemanja Vidic in the heart of the defence. Given Sir Alex's reservations about playing Rafael in crucial European encounters, I think John O'shea will take his place at right-back. Given the fact that Fletcher & Carrick both are injured & will not return till the weekend, Ferguson will probably play a 4-4-2 formation despite his preference for the 4-5-1 in Europe. Scholes & Gibson will man the central midfield, with Giggs & Valencia taking up the flanks. Manchester Evening News reported that Nani may play some part in tomorrow's game, however it is unlikely that he will start since Sir Alex won't risk rushing him back & aggravating his injury. Berbatov & Rooney will be paired upfront, with Rooney playing that free-roaming role he executed to such good effect against Arsenal. I expect Michael Owen to make an appearance from the bench - it's been sometime that he has spent time on the pitch.

Marseille are undoubtedly stronger than they were in Marseille, with two of their main offensive players back in the form of Mathieu Valbuena (see pic) & Andre-Pierre Gignac. Gabriel Heinze, for whom it will be an emotional return to one of his former clubs, will play in central defence rather than as a full-back coz of his obvious lack of pace against speedy wingers. It will be interesting to see how the Old Trafford faithful welcome him back, given the manner he left the club back in 2007.

The Red Devils need to win at all costs to go through, as a draw won't do. As Sir Alex Ferguson rightly put it - “The name of the game is to win and I’d be quite happy if it’s 4-3 or 1-0. We defended well in Marseille and that will be the key again. That’s going to be the main element in all of the big games now.

My Starting XI: Van der Sar, Evra, Vidic, Smalling, O'shea, Giggs, Scholes, Gibson, Valencia, Rooney, Berbatov.

Scoreline predictions??? I'm going for a comfortable 2-0 win for United - perhaps Berbatov ending his barren run in Europe with a brace?

Tell me your pre-game thoughts by leaving your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

In case you want to read the best football insight (including mine!), you can check out the excellent football blog 'BigFourZa' - the one-stop for all die-hard football fans! If you want to read my columns out there, you can click here.

Red Devils Reign, United Again!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rival Rendezvous: Devils At The Bridge


Welcome to another edition of the special blog feature 'Rival Rendezvous'! Today, we talked to Chelsea FC fan Mukesh Kini ahead of tonight's game at Stamford Bridge, where Manchester United will attempt to win their first game at West London since 2002. Mukesh was frank with his opinion as we discussed about the game, what's going on at the club & the fans' perspective...


1. Starting off this conversation, what are your thoughts on the game at Stamford Bridge?

Mukesh: A huge huge game for Chelsea FC. We definitely are out of the title race but we can definitely put pressure on United by scoring 3 points as we are not under pressure as United are. 

2. Chelsea have been misfiring quite throughout the season, except for a blitzkrieg start. What has gone wrong this time?

M: Yes, Chelsea FC have clearly been off the hook this season. I feel the sacking of the first team coach Ray Wilkins has brought a drastic change. The sacking was surely due to some internal bleeding. The likes of Drogba, Lampard, Malouda all need to up their game which they haven't till now. We need it in the final half of the season.

3. How do you see Ancelotti's position at the club right now? Do you see him at the club next season?

M: Carlo's position according to me isn't in danger. All Roman Abrahamovich needs is the UCL crown which he has been longing to get. Carlo in his first season at Chelsea FC has done wonders by winning the League as well as the FA Cup. He definitely has the capability in him to get UCL crown to the Bridge. Only thing he needs is time and Roman's support which I feel he definitely will have as you can see, two huge signings already done during this January transfer to strengthen the squad. He will definitely stay as the Chelsea FC manager next season as well.

4. Torres & David Luiz for a total outlay of £75 million in the January transfer window. How optimistic are you about those two new signings?

M: Torres and Luiz are really big signings for Chelsea FC. When Torres gets going any kind of defense trembles, we all know it. He is just top notch at the demolition act. He needs time to settle down at his new club. We have definitely seen instances of his top class playing style against Coppenhagen when teamed with Anelka. When teamed with the deadliest Drogba and when both are in top form then it's going to be a DREAM combination up front which we surely will witness in the days ahead. And David Luiz the young Brazilian center back. With most of the Chelsea squad's players on the final stage of their career, Luiz who is just 23 years old and who has the capability to fill in the CB role alongside JT was indeed a class signing for the present as well as keeping the future in mind.

5. The investment this January makes us believe that there is more to come. Do you think that senior players, say Drogba, Anelka will be shown the door similar to last summer?

M: Yes, definitely there will be more players making their way into the Chelsea FC squad this summer. And its obvious, you don't play your best football you don't stay a chance to be in the top 11. Drogba according to me might last not more than one more season at Chelsea, as he is 33 already. Anelka has been playing some great football off late. But again age is the crucial factor. But there will definitely be a huge shuffle in the squad this summer.

6. Given the fact that Chelsea is competing only for the Champions League (regardless of what Terry says), do you think the Blues have a realistic chance to winning it this time?

M: Yes, I feel we can win it (UCL), IF AND ONLY IF the players up their game drastically so that we stand a chance to win the huge throne. We need the likes of football Chelsea showed against Sunderland recently.

7. Tell us something about those new kids coming out of the Chelsea academy.

M: Youth players are definitely not playing a huge role in the main team, but there is definitely a huge chance for some of them next season during the re-shuffle to make it into the main team.

8. What d'you think of United's form this season?

M: United's main reason to be up there leading Chelsea by 15 points is that, they are playing it together as a team. Every time they are on the break they look threatening. The likes of Berbatov, Nani, Vidic, Rafael, Giggs all have played a crucial role to bring the team to this stage.

9. Who will win the Barclays Premier League title 2010-11?

M: As of now its clear cut that Sir Alex Ferguson will get United their 19th title unless and until a MISHAP occurs which I don't see it happening.

10. On a ending note, what's your scoreline prediction for the Stamford Bridge game?

M: I go for a 2-1 win for Chelsea with Torres scoring his first :)

I'd like to express my heartiest thanks to Mukesh for talking to Traffordshire County. In case you wanna know him better, you can check him out on Twitter @mukeshkini.

So what are your pre-match thoughts on the game tonight? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

Today, do spare a thought for our evergreen Ryan Giggs, who has completed 20 YEARS as a professional footballer for Manchester United! The Living Legend will also equal Sir Bobby Charlton's record of most league appearances (606 appearances), when he plays against Chelsea on Tuesday. Hope he goes on and on and on for the Red Devils...!!!


Daniel Taylor, of the British daily 'The Guardian' has published an excellent piece on Ryan Giggs as he celebrates 20 years in the Premier League. You can read it here.

As I wrap this up, I'd like to give a special mention to the excellent football blog 'BigFourZa' - the ultimate one-stop for the best articles for all die-hard football fans!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

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