I travelled with Spirit of Soccer's founder, Scott Lee, and his five talented coaches to Poipet, located on the Thai-Cambodian border. As we rumbled up the narrow road, flying past huts squatting on stilts above stagnant swamps, and old ladies selling rice stuffed into roasted bamboo straws, he tells me that this region sits in the middle of the 'T5 mine belt'.
Though it had generally lagged behind the traditional 'Big Four' sports in terms of popularity, professional soccer wasn't by any means new to America. In the late 1970s, the North American Soccer League (NASL) had all the razzmatazz that one would normally associate with professional sports in the US.
It's fair to say that Bayern Munich are romping to the title once again in the Bundesliga, in Pep Guardiola's first season in charge. It's not great news for the league as a spectacle, with closest rivals Leverkusen and Dortmund both faltering in recent months, but there is one other team that are making light work of the league of late.
In the last five seasons, going back to 2008/09, five clubs have escaped relegation after being in the bottom three at the end of the transfer window. It would be very easy to assume that the sides which threw around the most money mid-season would be the ones to make the leap to safety, but that's not necessarily the case.
Vela never lived up to the hype during his time in north London and was loaned to Real Sociedad in 2011 before signing permanently 12 months later. In Spain though, the 24-year old has exhibited the qualities that saw him garner such a reputation at his tender age and his form has helped push the Txuri-urdin towards the Champions League places.
The modern day full-back is tasked with pressing forward and overlapping the attack-minded players as a means of providing an offensive outlet to his team, but also having the fitness levels to return to their starting position to perform defensive duties. Mathieu Debuchy and Ricardo Rodriguez, of Newcastle and Woflsburg respectively, have exhibited these qualities this season and are two prime examples of how a right or left-back should operate.
It speaks volumes about the strength of Arsenal's midfield that recent injuries to Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey have not been enough to generate much in the way of serious transfer speculation regarding replacement midfielders. Widespread rumours have continued, though, surrounding the lack of depth in the Gunners' striker department...
The funfair that is the football season is more than halfway done, and everyone's favourite attraction, the managerial merry-go-round, is in full swing, playing its merry tune and flinging gaffers of its slippery, cash-driven horses, as others take their turn to try and stay in the saddle, hanging on to the greasy pole.
Late last year Assam Allam, the erstwhile owner of Hull City FC, applied to the FA for clearance to change his new plaything's name to the far more exotic Hull Tigers. Rawr. I started to consider what would be the funniest names for football clubs if they all took the Hull approach and tacked their nickname onto their official name. Here's the potential ten I like the most
While Costel Pantilimon didn't necessarily underperform during his spell in between the sticks, it was little surprise to see Hart reinstated after the Romanian shipped three during City's win over Arsenal. Yet, with the focus on the goalkeeping situation at the Etihad, much of the shine was taken off who should be the starting left-back for the one-time Premier League champions
I like Andre Villas-Boas because he's just some guy, like me. He isn't your usual model of seasoned ex-pro, having already enjoyed a playing career unobtainable to us footballing incompetent hoi-polloi, then becoming doubly enviable with their next career move upstairs. He is just some guy who managed to become a football manager.
Directors of football are the norm in Europe and are as much a part of the game as the manager. However, in the Premier League it simply doesn't work. Directors of football aren't in the Premier League thought process, and the thought 'oh he would make a great Director of Football', would never cross any Premier League fans' mind.
A team's 'number 10', also known as a playmaker, has become a more and more important figure for most sides in the modern game. They have the freedom to float around the pitch and express their creativity in assisting their teammates to score and often create goals from nothing. It raises the question, however, whether one could actually lead their side to any titles?