05 Jul Planning Ahead From Stateside To The EPL
EPL Soccer Tours This Tour Should Be Top Of Your Soccer Bucket List!
Like everyone across the world, we are excited to see the major European Leagues return to action. While it may not be the same without the fans, the sheer sight of your favourite club competing for the first time in 3 months has the footballing world feeling like things are slowly but surely getting back to normal. Many people have had trips and holidays cancelled or postponed, many of those being soccer clubs travelling with us to a variety of destinations across Europe. If you are like myself and those who have seen their trip postponed, you may be already rescheduling or even planning a new trip. If it is the latter, then there is only one place to go.
The North-West of England is home to 4 of the Premier Leagues biggest clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton. Between the four clubs, they have won 53 league title, 30 FA Cups, 7 Cup Winners Cup/Europa Leagues and 9 European Cups/ Champions Leagues. Each club has a long, diverse history containing historic moments, famous players and memorable matches. They also have a history of American players who have played for them with many of America’s greatest players featuring – DaMarcus Beasley, Joe Max-Moore, former national captain Claudio Reyna, legendary goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Friedel and joint all time US goalscorer Landon Donovan have all represented the four clubs during their stellar careers.
The history behind each of the clubs makes each of their stadium tours interesting and flooding with football knowledge and nostalgia. From the Busby Babes of the 60s, Liverpools conquering side of the 70s, Everton’s rise in the 80s to Manchester City’s topsy – turvy history, each ground provides a unique insight into the rich history of each club.
Each stadium is unique in its own right – Everton’s Goodison Park is the smallest of the four but while it may not be as structurally impressive as the other 3, it holds just as much history as them and is one of the most intimidating stadiums in the Premier League. It has historically proven to be a nightmare for the top clubs – Liverpool have only won 2 of their last 10 at Goodison, Manchester City have only won 6 out of their last 20 visits while Manchester United have only won 3 of their last 12 games there and it not just the top clubs who struggle – Jose Mourihno has only won 3 times in his 9 visits while Jurgen Klopp has only won once in his 4 visits.
The Etihad Stadium is the most modern of the four with Manchester City moving into the ground in 2003. The stadium is part of the Etihad Campus which contains a 7,000-capacity mini-stadium, fifteen additional outdoor football pitches, six swimming pools and three gyms. The stadium itself is impressive with a state of the art warm up area, lavish corporate boxes including the Tunnel Club and the famous dressing room, altered by current manager Pep Guardiola. The stadium and the campus are a prime example of the riches and fortunes that Manchester City have and having visited the campus myself, it is safe to say it is a fantastic investment.
While Old Trafford is not as modern as The Etihad, the stature and size of the ground will have you in awe from the moment you lay eyes on it, as was the reaction of FC Dallas when they visited the stadium in 2019 as part of their UK & Ireland tour. The largest club stadium in the UK, Old Trafford has a 76,000 capacity stadium, over 10,000 more than the second largest (West Hams Olympic Stadium) and is rich in history. From walking out of the tunnel at the Stretford End to the dugouts which are built on the original tunnel that was mostly destroyed in WWII, the stadium is iconic and has a unique sense of culture and history that very few stadiums can match. The same can be said for their museum containing memorabilia dating back to the days of Newton Heath, jerseys from some of the legendary players to have graced the Old Trafford surface and all of the trophies and medals the club has won over the years and there have been quite a few.
Finally, Anfield is placed in the heart of Merseyside, surrounded by its local population, so close to their homes they almost feel like part of the club and it is that togetherness of Liverpool that makes Anfield such a special ground. Home to one of the most famous stands in football, The Kop, Anfield boasts a glorious history stemming back to 1884, the ground has seen many famous nights and even more famous players. The ground has become a fortress with the side having not lost a league game here in two seasons. Only Chelsea and Atletico Madrid have picked up wins there in that time in the Carabao Cup and Champions League respectively. The stadium is engulfed in history and is a must see for all football fans.
But are the aforementioned clubs the only ones in the north west? Of course not!
Burnley FC have been in the Premier League for the past 4 seasons have had considerable success, qualifying for Europe in 2018 after a 7th place finish. Their stadium, Turf Moor, is one of the best football trips in the Premier League. Having experienced a Premier League game there, the atmosphere is electric as the fans rally behind the team to make it intimidating for away players, the stadium is enclosed meaning you can be literally metres away from the action and you get to view the play up close just like Dunshaughlin Youths did when they attended the Burnley vs Spurs match! Other clubs such as 1995 Premier League Champions Blackburn Rovers and 2013 FA Cup Winners Wigan Athletic also frequent the area and the four big guns are not the only clubs to have had USA internationals play for their club.
Stuart Holden and Tim Ream starred for Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League while Roy Wegerle, Brad Friedel and Jermaine Jones featured for Blackburn Rovers. Jermaine was the second member of his family to feature in the premier league after his brother, and all time US appearance holder, Cobi Jones who signed for Coventry City in 1995.
Even if you are one of the few die hard fans who could never step into another ground bar match day, the north west has one of the best footballing attractions in the country: The National Football Museum. The 3 – story museum is home to memorabilia going back as far as the 19th century and is a must visit for football fans of all clubs.
The North West has a diverse culture and has been the home of some of the world most famous musicians and bands such as Oasis, The Beatles, Take That, Harry Styles and Stone Roses but despite the level of musical talent that has come from the region, it is football that dominates it. If you are planning a soccer trip to England, the North West must be at the top of your list and if you are planning making the trip, just like Titans FC from Texas did, then there is only one place to look to begin your next journey.