Andy Carroll’s misery at Liverpool has left him the king of pain

January 13, 2012

“One of the most terrifying things about the internet is the way in which it draws you inexorably towards what you really, secretly, actually want, offering somewhere in its great boiling unfenced farrago an absolute match for whatever half-realised desire might flicker across your networked lobes. You cannot escape. The allure of endless choice will find you out, whether it is the simple urge to argue about cricket or a powerful carnal attraction to certain breeds of Pacific starfish. For me the internet has recently provided some troubling revelations in its capacity as a universal jukebox that offers access to any musical genre unfettered by conventions of taste or fashion. It has been a bit of a shock. But in quiet moments at home I have found myself increasingly drawn to the music of Sting.” Guardian

Ten questions for 2012

January 11, 2012

Borussia Dortmund celebrate
“As the major continental leagues resume following the winter break – Serie A and La Liga returned to action over the weekend, with Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga set to follow suit in the next fortnight – Pitchside Europe looks at ten issues that will help determine the balance of power across Europe in the 12 months ahead.” Eurosport

Are We Tackling Racism In Football The Right Way?

January 11, 2012

“In the autumn of 2003 I was in the press box at Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea host Lazio. It was the Blues’ first season with Roman Abramovich cutting the cheques, while the opponents were, by that stage, a spent force. A few minutes into the game, Simone Inzaghi was tackled by John Terry. The referee waved play on, as the Italian striker continued to roll around and writhe in agony, real or imagined. Demetrio Albertini won it back and, seeing his teammate still on the ground, booted it out of play to allow the physios on. After a minute or so, Inzaghi was on his feet and Glen Johnson ambled over to take the throw-in. Angelo Peruzzi, the Lazio keeper, advanced to the corner of his penalty box with one hand in the air. Pretty unmistakeable. Lazio had put the ball out of play because Inzaghi was down; now they expected it back.” Sabotage Times

FA Cup struggles for relevancy

January 11, 2012

“The FA Cup would be nothing without its traditions. Every third-round weekend the regular old rituals are trotted through: the grainy shots of finals past, the semi-knowing talk of the romance of it all, the hand-wringing about how the luster can best be restored to “the oldest cup competition in the world.” The FA Cup is a peculiarly English event, not just because it stretches back to 1871-72 and the prehistory of the game, but because it is something that is never as good as it used to be.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Speaking out on the Internet: Present Status and Future Prospects

January 11, 2012

“One of this website’s latest followers on Twitter, Simeon F. W. Pickup states his interests as ‘Reading FC, Atheism, Labour. In that order.’ Although Ed Miliband’s negligible impact on the polls may have something to do with his party being relegated behind Brian McDermott and Richard Dawkins in Simeon’s thinking, I did read this as tongue in cheek. Nonetheless, therein lies a message.” thetwounfortunates

A Fragmented Future? English Football Broadcast Rights and the Challenge of Google and Apple

January 11, 2012

“Google and Apple may not exactly be the first names that spring to mind when looking for alternatives to challenge Sky’s dominance of sports broadcasting in Britain, but it should be no surprise that two of the giants of the tech and online world are eyeing up sport as a way to lure consumers into their new offerings. It was, after all, a key part of Rupert Murdoch’s strategy as he battled to establish his satellite broadcasting operation in Britain at the start of the 1990s.” Pitch Invasion

Messi: The best is yet to come

January 11, 2012

“Seven years ago, at the start of 2005, I was covering the South American Under-20 Championships in Colombia’s coffee-growing region when I came across something that gave me a far bigger buzz than the local produce. It was a short, shambling 17-year-old with the air of the pigeon-toed runt of the litter. His name was Lionel Messi.” BBC – Tim Vickery

The Top 100 Footballers in the World – the Complete List including 10-1

January 9, 2012

“It has come down to this. The final installment is here. Numbers 10-1 in The Footy Blog’s top 100 footballers. Three months ago I came up with this project and thanks to the help of the panelists and you, the Footy Show fans, it has grown into something bigger than I ever could have imagined. I was absolutely delighted with the respected minds who agreed to be apart of this project. If you are still not aware of them or are not following them on twitter I suggest that you do so. The game is better for having these guys covering it” The Score

6 points on Manchester City 2-3 Manchester Utd

January 9, 2012

“The stereotypical game of two halves… 1. Roberto Mancini went with a midfield triangle featuring Nigel de Jong at the base, with James Milner and Samir Nasri ahead. This is a change from the usual system City play, which features two deeper midfielders with a more creative player at the tip. A major reason for that was the unavailability of both Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry, and Mancini clearly feels de Jong is better as a sole holding player, rather than in a double pivot – a judgement difficult to argue with.” Zonal Marking

Good Day, Bad Day: Barça blow, cry baby Cristiano & barking Bielsa

January 9, 2012

“While one doesn’t want to talk about counting chickens before the fat lady sings, she’s certainly tucking into a second helping of brownies and custard when it comes to Barcelona’s title chances. A combination of poor away form, the tendency to switch off during games, a bad recent record against Espanyol and a last minute penalty decision going against the Dream Boys left Barça five points behind Real Madrid after a 1-1 draw in Cornella.” FourFourTwo (Video)

Juventus – Black Night, White Light

January 9, 2012

“As the Italian league entered its winter break, Juventus could look back on a highly successful campaign so far. Not only were they were joint leaders along with Milan, but they were the division’s only undefeated team, having won nine and drawn seven of their matches. In their best start for many years, the bianconeri have beaten both of their rivals from Milan and look poised for a return to their former glories.” Swiss Ramble

On This Day: Ajax 6-0 Milan, European Super Cup, 1974

January 9, 2012

“With the football authorities having made an unforgivable and irrevocable mess of European competition these days, there is currently little chance of any side from a smaller nation taking the continent by storm. Since Porto and Monaco reached the Champions League final in 2004 – an unusually weak year, in all honesty – the likes of Napoli, Porto and Dortmund find themselves pilfered by the big clubs as soon as they threaten to ransack a closed shop.” FCF (Video)

Denilson: Portait of a Fallen Idol

January 9, 2012

“In 1998 he became the world’s most expensive footballer. A mere ten years later, not even Turkish Süper Lig club Vestel Manisaspor wanted to sign him on a free transfer. Aleks Klosok recounts the rapid rise to and dramatic fall from grace of one of Brazilian football’s great underachievers: Denílson.” In Bed With Maradoma

Does English Football Need a Winter Break?

January 9, 2012

“It has long been known that the absence of a winter break reduces quality and increases injuries in the final part of the season, but the counter argument from English football fans has always been about protecting the spectacle, excitement and tradition of football over the Christmas period. Actually, playing so many matches in such a short period of time may reduce the quality on display, but most importantly reduce the fairness of the league when TV scheduling is taken into account.” Footballistically

Soccer Men by Simon Kuper: Book Review

January 5, 2012

“Simon Kuper is the preeminent intellectual football author of our time. His works such as Football Against the Enemy, and Soccernomics (aka Why England Lose) need no introduction to many fans of the beautiful game. His columns in publications such as The Financial Times are indispensable reading for those who want to keep a sharp edge on the developments throughout the world of football.” EPL Talk

Soccer Men (ESPN)
“Parallels between football and religion are unbounded. The stadium as a place of worship, the passion of its followers, and the celestial reverence of its most prominent figures – namely Pele and Maradona – are just a few examples that suggest football has penetrated global culture more effectively than any religion in the past century. Yet football, like so many faiths upon their arrival on the world stage, has recently been forced under the microscope.” ESPN

Soccer Men
“Soccer Men goes behind the scenes with soccer’s greatest players and coaches. Inquiring into the genius and hubris of the modern game, Kuper details the lives of giants such as Arsène Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Jorge Valdano, Lionel Messi, Kaká, and Didier Drogba, describing their upbringings, the soccer cultures they grew up in, the way they play, and the baggage they bring to their relationships at work. From one of the great sportswriters of our time, Soccer Men is a penetrating and surprising anatomy of the figures that define modern soccer.” amazon: Soccer Men

Manchester City 3-0 Liverpool: Liverpool dominate possession but City score all the goals

January 5, 2012

“Liverpool completed twice as many passes, but City were more creative and ruthless in the final third. Roberto Mancini was without Mario Balotelli, who often features against big sides, so went with Edin Dzeko upfront with Sergio Aguero behind. Kenny Dalglish didn’t use either Craig Bellamy or Steven Gerrard despite good performances against Newcastle, whilst Luis Suarez was banned. Andy Carroll started upfront alone, with Dirk Kuyt out on the right. A combination of little creativity plus mistakes at the back meant Liverpool couldn’t turn their dominance of the ball into a positive result.” Zonal Marking

Manchester City 3 – 0 Liverpool
“Normal service was resumed for 10-man Manchester City as they once again put daylight between themselves and rivals Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table with victory over Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium. After just one point and no goals from two matches, they were given an easy ride on their way to opening up a three-point cushion over their neighbours, who will try to reduce the gap again at Newcastle tomorrow.” ESPN

Newcastle United 3-0 Manchester United: Newcastle combine high pressure and long balls

January 5, 2012

“Newcastle gave an excellent performance to overpower Manchester United, and inflict their second straight defeat. Alan Pardew gave Shola Ameobi a start upfront, which hinted that Newcastle would play more direct than usual. He also used Ryan Taylor in an unusual narrow right-sided midfield role, with Davide Santon at left-back.” Zonal Marking

Get Rich Quick: The Peril of the Champions League

January 5, 2012

“It may sound weird, but the facts are there to see: most small clubs that managed to have some success in Europe’s top competition are now facing a wide variety of problems. Some of them are actually on the brink of a financial meltdown. How to justify such a strange phenomenon? Is it a curse? Maybe just bad manegement.” In Bed With Maradoma

Calcio: A History of Italian Football by John Foot

January 5, 2012

“Fittingly, for a nation that has given the world the Renaissance, grand opera and Machiavelli, a history of Italian football reveals a beguiling mixture of the artistic, the overblown and the scheming. Unlike football played in Spain, Germany or France, say, Italian football possesses a uniquely seductive quality that often amounts to more than the sum of its parts. This is because, as Foot’s admirable survey of the game makes clear, football in Italy is not as it is in other countries: this is a nation where the largest selling daily newspaper is dedicated almost entirely to football; where its former ruling party is named after a football chant; and where its former Prime Minister owns one of the league’s most famous clubs. Football, it seems, is Italy, and Italy is football, and so, inevitably, a narrative about the game can’t help but be a narrative about the country as a whole – its dynamics, its preoccupations, its outlook and its problems.” Independent

Calcio: A History of Italian Football
“The first history of Italian football to be written in English, ‘Calcio’ is a mix of serious analysis and comic storytelling, with vivid descriptions of games, goals, dives, missed penalties, riots and scandals in the richest and toughest league in the world. ‘Calcio’ tells the story of Italian football from its origins in the 1890’s to the present day. It takes us through a history of great players and teams, of style, passion and success, but also of violence, cynicism, catenaccio tactics and corruption.” amazon

Transfer window could prove quiet for Americans playing overseas

January 5, 2012

“With the European transfer window back open, there’s no better time for the annual tradition of taking inventory of which Americans could be on the move over the next month. The only thing is, there’s not really that many that need to go anywhere at all. In contrast to last year at this time, most top-tier American players find themselves situated in favorable and productive club situations, and instead of using the winter months to plot moves for more playing time, they’re preparing for the next phase of their respective seasons.” SI

Sorry still seems to be the hardest word for Liverpool in Luis Suarez affair

January 5, 2012

“Kenny Dalglish and the club have done the right thing, electing not to appeal against Luis Suárez’s eight-game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, the real victim in all this. There was little chance of winning any reprieve for their Uruguayan for directing the word ‘negro’ at Evra.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Match Review: FC Barcelona 4 – CA Osasuna 0

January 5, 2012

“Did you know that last night’s match was Barça’s 1000th win at the Camp Nou? No, neither did I until I read it somewhere this morning. Anyway, their 1000th win at the Camp Nou came from a 4-0 defeat of Osasuna…yes, the team they won 8-0 against back in September. Isn’t it funny that no-one has noticed that the scoreline was halved since the last time Barça faced them? Are Barça in crisis again? …No.” The Offside

Rebuilding Anfield: Loss of Suarez and Lucas Opens Gateway to Liverpool’s Future

January 3, 2012

“The Football Association recently banned prized Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for eight matches on the grounds that he made derogatory comments toward Patrice Evra during the club’s fixture against Manchester United. While the Anfield outfit may appeal the ban, the Uruguayan’s lengthy suspension is all but a done deal especially after the FA released the evidence on which they based their decision. In addition, the Reds will have to cope with the loss of Lucas Leiva, who has been brilliant for the club in cohesion with Charlie Adam.” EPL Talk

The Suarez Report: The FA’s Commission Finally Has Its Say
“At one hundred and fifteen pages and a little over forty-four thousand words – getting on, for the purposes of comparison, for two and a half times the size of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto – at least no-one can argue that the Football Associations independent commission into the allegations of racist language levied against Luis Suarez wasn’t thorough. It is now twenty-four hours since the full report was released by the FA, and the new year means that rigorous analysis it in the mainstream press may be delayed by a couple of days.” twohundredpercent

Liverpool statement in full
It is our strongly held conviction that the Football Association and the panel it selected constructed a highly subjective case against Luis Suarez based on an accusation that was ultimately unsubstantiated.ESPN

Blackburn’s form improves but many questions remain off the field

January 3, 2012

“In the midst of Blackburn Rovers’ defeat to Bolton Wanderers last week, a tall unkempt man strode along the front of the stand toward the home dugout. Steve Kean, wisely, was standing at the front of his technical area, barking instructions and waving his arms to offer a simulacrum of control, as far from the fans as is possible under Premier League regulations. The man stood, unmolested by stewards, just behind the perimeter advertising hoarding. Slowly, he raised his left arm and, with a dramatic flourish, pointed off to his left.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Top ten Ligue 1 transfer targets

January 3, 2012

“Ligue 1 has proved a fertile hunting ground for Premier League sides in recent years – not least for Newcastle United – and as the January transfer window opens, several names from the French top flight find themselves linked with clubs from the English elite. Football Further runs the rule over the players making the headlines and identifies which of them are likely to be on the move.” Football Further

Ten Ligue 1 players who could move in January transfer window
“Ten Ligue 1 players who could move in the January transfer window…” SI

Hakuna Matata #12: Italy-France ’98 – Di Biagio and the trembling crossbar

January 3, 2012

“On 3rd July 1998 in Stade de France in Saint Denis, the first World Cup ’98 quarter final was played between the hosts, France, and Italy. It was an encounter that would be ultimately be remembered for the Luigi Di Biagio penalty that smashed against the bar to end Italy’s campaign.” The Football Express (Video)

Soccer Cities: Istanbul

January 3, 2012

“Although the passion and fervour of match day can occasionally spill over into hostility, and the casual spectator may need to keep their wits about them at times, the atmosphere at big games in Turkey’s capital is unlike anything anywhere else in Europe, with a memorable show of colour and noise being whipped up inside the stadia several hours before kick-off.” World Soccer

Vargas and Neymar battle for player of the year accolade

January 3, 2012

“In the last competitive game of the South American season, Eduardo Vargas scored a goal that made sure Universidad de Chile won the domestic title, and also highlighted why Napoli are taking him across the Atlantic. Vargas broke from the halfway line. Cobreloa defender Sebastian Roco, worried about his pace, kept backing off. Vargas’ control of the ball at pace was so good that he was able to do two things.” BBC – Tim Vickery

El Bielsa De Los Pobres

January 2, 2012

“In the presence of more illustrious South American nations – Brazil’s financial strength allowing clubs to compete with their European counterparts, Argentina’s continued production of the world’s most sought after forwards and Uruguay’s successful national team, reaching the World Cup semi-final and winning the Copa America in the last 18 months with a population similar to Wales – Chilean football is silently flourishing. Or it was, until Universidad de Chile, known as La U, decided to attract attention to the west coast of South America by creating history and breaking records, all while playing some of the most exciting football in world football.” In Bed With Maradoma

The Angel With Bow Legs

January 2, 2012

“A serial adulterer, a volatile character, an incurable alcoholic and yet undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary entertainers the game is ever likely to see. The controversial, colourful and captivating life of a man many consider to be the forgotten hero of Brazilian Football: Garrincha. On 20th January 1983 at the age of just 49 – a mere 21 years after he was hailed as the greatest footballer on the planet – A Alegria do Povo (The Joy of the People) passed away in Rio de Janeiro penniless and unable to conquer the demon that had blighted his life: alcohol. This is the extraordinary story of an idol who, against all the odds, reached the dazzling heights of success but whose excesses led to a spectacular downfall.” In Bed With Maradona

Young players to watch in 2012

January 2, 2012

“They have given notice of their talent already in 2011, but this coming year could be a big one for some of the world’s top young stars. With Euro 2012 on the horizon and some of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers having already begun, there will be plenty of Under-21 players looking to make the step up, while the prospect of a lucrative transfer may be a driving force for some of those who impress most in the New Year.” ESPN

A Few Random Arsenal Thoughts At Year’s End

January 2, 2012

“A few quick comments as the minutes tick closer to midnight. Robin rules. It would be impossible to heap too many superlatives on his form this season. He finally got to show what he could do when he remained injury-free. Long may it continue. He’s shown himself to be a great captain so far and hopefully he sees his future with the Arsenal going forward. Welcome back, Henry! But this does not mean we don’t need another striker… Repeat, this does not mean we don’t need another striker.” Cult Football

Liverpool 3 – 1 Newcastle United

January 2, 2012

“Liverpool’s record signing Andy Carroll may have not made his mark against his former club but ex-Newcastle striker Craig Bellamy more than made up for it with two goals at Anfield. Another for Steven Gerrard on only his second appearance after two months out with an ankle infection ensured the Reds’ struggles at home were banished. Kenny Dalglish’s side had drawn four of the last five at Anfield, where they have dropped 12 points so far this season, and for an hour it appeared that run would continue.” ESPN

Biggest soccer stories in 2011

January 2, 2012

“It’s that time of year again where we look back on a selection from the standout soccer stories in the year just passed. Here’s the best of 2011…” SI


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