“Bob Marley balancing and bouncing a football on his thighs; dribbling in a spray of dust through some anonymous Jamaican dirt yard; knocking a ball down with his chest, trapping it with his inside foot, hammering it into the net with a flick of the toe. Not the archetypal image of the reggae legend but apt nonetheless. Marley loved music and ganja and Rasta. And he loved football. As a boy in Nine Mile, in the central Jamaican highlands, he was content kicking a dried-up watermelon around the lopsided waste ground scraped out of the hillside. His passion for the game stayed with him throughout his life. Indeed, there were times he seriously considered forgoing a musician’s life for a professional footballer’s.” 8by8
“A footballer, says the great Argentine coach Cesar Luis Menotti, is ‘a privileged interpreter of the dreams of many people.’ It is a wise and beautiful line. Not so beautiful, though, are those situations when many of the crowd would rather not have their dreams interpreted by a particular player. One of the most ugly things in football is when fans turn against a member of their own team. In Brazil this is a depressingly common occurrence, and one that can follow bizarre criteria. Many, I’m sure, will remember the Belo Horizonte crowd turning against Fred – indeed forcing his substitution – during that crushing World Cup semi final defeat to Germany last year. One might have thought that, with the team losing 7-1, the defenders might be a more obvious target than the centre forward. I, for one, was delighted when Fred responded by finishing last year’s Brazilian Championship as top scorer.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)
“History warns us to be skeptical of foreign ownership in Spanish soccer. One minute we’re being told Racing Santander ‘could compete with Real Madrid and Barcelona,’ and then the man that told us that, Ashan Ali Syed, disappears off the face of the earth, wanted by Interpol. Racing is now in the second division. Malaga’s tale isn’t as dramatic, but neither did it have the happy ending Sheikh Abdulla Al-Thani had promised us. Once in the Champions League, he decided to asset strip the squad, flogging the likes of Santi Cazorla and eventually Isco, and instead let the team rebuild itself through youth. At least it’s still in the top flight.” Fusion
“As Newcastle United’s passionate supporters endure yet another frustrating season, it all seems a far cry from the days when they were known as “The Entertainers”. Mid-table mediocrity appears to be the pinnacle of the club’s ambition, while a cup run is to be frowned on, as it might weaken the chances of remaining in the top flight, where they can continue to benefit from the lucrative Premier League TV deal. Most of the fans’ displeasure is aimed at owner Mike Ashley, a highly successful businessman who has turned around the club financially, but who clearly favours profit over performance. He has made a series of strange choices, such as hiring his mates Dennis Wise and Joe Kinnear, that have slowly drained the supporters’ spirits, leading to widespread protests and even an organised match boycott.’ The Swiss Ramble
“Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was close to landing the Premier League title this time last year, a 3-2 win at Norwich leaving the Reds five points clear at the top of the table with three games remaining. Fast forward 12 months and Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat by Aston Villa means Rodgers has become the first Anfield boss since the 1950s not to win a trophy in his first three seasons in charge. So why have things gone so poorly after such a spirited challenge for the title last season? And as a result of this season’s labours, will Rodgers still be on Merseyside next season? Here, former Liverpool players, an ex-manager, fans and pundits tell BBC Sport what’s gone wrong – and what should happen next.” BBC
“It was: The Week That Shook German Football (RealD 3D). First, late on Tuesday night, Bruno Labbadia was appointed manager of the bottom team, Hamburger SV. The former Kaiserslautern striker and inventor of the fist-pump goal celebration had already graced (?) the AOL/Nordbank/Imtech/Kühne-Palace/Whatever-Arena bench five years ago and the sporting director, Dietmar Beiersdorfer, had no choice but to go back to a familiar face in the club’s hour of need: HSV had run out of the German-speaking coaches that had not yet been hired at some point over the last two decades. Within a few hours, however, the new/old messiah’s wings – messiahs do have wings, don’t they? – were already clipped when Beiersdorfer involuntarily dispensed with the charade that the hot contender Thomas Tuchel had been turned down by the club the night before.” Guardian
“It is often said a great player doesn’t always make a good manager, which neatly brings us to events in Eindhoven where Phillip Cocu – widely regarded as one of Europe’s brightest young coaching talents – is proving the old adage wrong and more importantly starting to realise his potential. Guiding PSV to their 22nd championship – their first since 2008 and secured with three games remaining – has been emphatic as any of those won during the halcyon days of Guus Hiddink, who must be proud of his protégé. Getting there, when you consider the resources at his disposal, was only a matter of time, however it shouldn’t reduce his coaching prowess to a mere afterthought. He is every part the reason behind their resurgence.” Who Scored?