Six degrees of Louis van Gaal: How Jose Mourinho and Europe’s other top coaches descend from Manchester United’s Dutch coach

October 24, 2014

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“You will doubtless be familiar with the game ‘Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon’. The central premise runs thus: so formidable is Bacon’s influence on the last generation of American cinema that virtually any Hollywood actor, living or dead, can somehow be linked to Bacon in no more than six steps. If you were to play a similar game in the world of football, there are a number of names you could start with. You could look at Johan Cruyff or Rinus Michels, architects of the Dutch school in the 1970s.” Telegraph


Slovan Bratislava 0-3 Sparta Prague: Old rivalries return

October 24, 2014

“The last time Slovan Bratislava and Sparta Prague met in a competitive environment Czechoslovakia was at the end of the mutual and peaceful divorce known as ‘The Velvet Revolution’. Then it was a cold February day in 1993 when the Czech Republic and Slovakia had just formally broken ties, this time it was a slightly chilly October evening in 2014. During the days of the CSSR both Czech and Slovak clubs competed against each other on a weekly basis. Despite Sparta Prague having their Czech rivals and Slovan Bratislava their Slovak adversaries, there was always a special place reserved for meetings between the two clubs. Their contests would be known as the ‘Federal Derby’; a game which pitted the biggest clubs of Prague and Bratislava against each other and a fixture which took on some nationalist significance. Despite the peaceful divorce between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and the dissolution of the First Czechoslovak League into the Gambrinus and Corgon Ligas, the events at the Stadion Pasienky tonight were anything but friendly.” CZEFootball


The Vagaries of Managerial Fashion

October 24, 2014

“Sat behind the dug out at Deep Dale recently my eye was constantly drawn, despite the entertaining football, to the sight of Paul Cook the Chesterfield Manager prowling the touchline. He was as animated and vocal as you’d expect from a former player-turned-manager, but what stood out most of all was his attire. Here was a 47-year old man whose job it is to inspire and direct his players, dressed in the kind of ridiculously baggy shorts more commonly seen on boxers, basketball players and hanging up on Nora Batty’s washing line.” The False Nine


Manchester United v Chelsea: Jonathan Wilson’s Tactical Preview

October 24, 2014

“Both sides have injury issues. Jose Mourinho has continued to maintain that Diego Costa will miss out with his mysterious hamstrings/groins and a bug, while Loic Remy is a major doubt after limping out of Tuesday’s 6-0 Champions League win over Maribor clutching his groin. That could mean Didier Drogba starting as the one forward – a concern, given how off the pace he looked against Schalke 04 in the Champions League, the only other game he has started this season – or Chelsea could perhaps go with a false nine. They did that last season in the stultifying 0-0 at Old Trafford last season, but Andre Schurrle, who occupied the role then, is a doubt with illness. Chelsea are also without Ramires and Mikel John Obi.” Bet – Jonathan Wilson


Luis Suarez: Do sporting suspensions work?

October 24, 2014

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“Although he’s vowed to keep his famous chops to himself, the world will soon find out if Luis Suarez can keep bagging goals without literally leaving his mark on defenders. This weekend, the 27-year-old forward will complete his four-month ban for a third on-pitch biting offense, and could make his Barcelona debut in the battle known as ‘El Clasico’ against Real Madrid on Saturday. ‘Don’t worry, I won’t do that again,’ the gifted Uruguayan promised, soon after arriving at his new club. But will he?” CNN


Angel Di Maria and Juan Mata set for reunion with Mourinho

October 24, 2014

“Manchester United have broken their record transfer fee twice in 2014, with vastly different levels of success. Juan Mata has rarely sparkled since his 37.1 million-pound move from Chelsea in January, but Angel Di Maria has been in impressive form, having been signed for 59.7 million pounds in the summer. Jose Mourinho, who visits Old Trafford with Chelsea this weekend, might have predicted how things would go.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Harry Catterick – the straight man

October 24, 2014

“They say one of the key ingredients to many great double acts is the combination of different stage personas; every Morecambe needs his Wise, every Costello needs his Abbott, every Ball needs his Cannon – OK, maybe not that last one. The same principal can easily be applied to footballing spheres; striking partnerships with one flamboyant, crowd-pleasing protagonist and the other who does the hard, thankless yards or the managerial duo who often assume the good cop/bad cop roles for their players and the media – the obvious example being Peter Taylor’s straight man complimenting the often volatile, always charismatic Brian Clough.” The Football Pink


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