Remembering Eudy, KwaThema’s brightest, killed on its darkest night

August 31, 2009

“At dusk in early winter, smoke from coal fires shrouds this bustling black township in a persistent haze resembling volcanic ash. Among slag heaps of the heavily mined East Rand, temperatures are certain to dip below freezing on a clear night toward the end of June. The corrugated-tin dwellings of KwaThema, established in 1951 to house blacks relocated from white areas southeast of Johannesburg, lack heat and electricity. So outdoor fires already have started.” (The Global Game)

Girlie “S’Gelane” Nkosi, Eudy Simelane’s teammate and a lesbian activist, murdered.
“Please read John Turnbull’s story about Eudy Simelane. Turnbull digs a little deeper into the crime reported in The Guardian’s story about the wave of violent attacks on black lesbians in South Africa (these are often referred to as ‘corrective rapes’).” (From A Left Wing)

Daggers and Diamonds do battle

August 31, 2009

After just missing out on last season’s play-offs Dagenham & Redbridge have had a great start to the season and are top of League Two. As with Rushden & Diamonds, the merger of clubs can lead to success. In WSC 242 (April 2007) David Stubbs witnessed the meeting of the mergees in the Conference.” (WSC)

World Soccer Daily Reborn As World Football Daily: Will It Survive This Time?

August 31, 2009

“Last Friday, August 21st, 2009 was in my opinion a small step back for football in this country. The controversial day marked the end of World Soccer Daily, the only daily football talk show in America. The sense of community that I & so many other American European football fans found at WSD will truly be missed.” (EPL Talk)

Nothing succeeds like excess

August 31, 2009

“Hello there. Nice to be back from the deserts of Arabia, although mentally speaking the whole La Liga thing never really went away. You can attempt a de-tox from Spanish football, but I’m not really sure that it works. Then again, I could have been returning sluggishly to another season in which the image and status of Spanish football had taken another slide backwards, in thrall to the Premier League and even beginning to worry about the Italians. Not a hope of that, thanks largely to Barcelona’s superhuman deeds last season and Florentino Pérez’s one-man mission to re-focus the world’s attention directly onto the Bernabéu and indirectly onto the league in which his latest set of toys are about to play.” (ESPN)

Real Madrid’s new galáctico era has arrived. Well, sort of …
“It didn’t have a whore for a mother, golden goolies or the Almighty in a loincloth, but it would do. For now. For everyone. Two months and over €250m later, Real Madrid’s new galácticos finally made their grand entrance, defeating Deportivo de La Coruña 3-2 at the Santiago Bernabéu. The Second Coming at last came, to a backdrop of cigar smoke and sweltering heat, Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo, satisfying everyone and satisfying no one.” (Guardian)

Cypriots Find Way Into the Richest of Candy Stores
“The great and the good, the richest of the rich of the global game were gathering in this tax haven on Thursday. They came to honor Lionel Messi. He and his Barcelona pals, who won almost everything in Europe and Spain last season, will play here Friday when they take on Shakhtar Donetsk, winner of the UEFA Cup, to decide the European Super Cup.” (NYT)

A taste of Palmeiras

August 31, 2009

“Flávio walks into the noisy cantina. It’s Sunday afternoon and the restaurant, located in the centre of one the most traditional Italian neighbourhoods in São Paulo, is absolutely packed. Throughout the month of August, the Bixiga quarter celebrates its Virgin, Our Lady of Achiropita. Every single weekend of this month its trattorias and shops attract a large crowd of Italian descendents and tourists alike.” (ESPN)

Maradona turns to fans for helping hand

August 31, 2009

“I recall an English club chairman indignantly saying some 20 years ago that the fans were mad if they believed their ticket money paid the players’ wages. It was a classic case of someone knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. True, in cold, economic terms he might have been correct. Money pours in from other sources – TV rights, sponsorship deals, corporate boxes and so on, but take the fans away from the stadium and all those other revenue streams instantly dry up.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

What should be done about Scottish football?

August 30, 2009

Albion Rovers vs. Celtic XI
“The question in the title was one that was asked in The Observer this weekend. It is something I’ve blogged about numerous times before. Scotland has done fairly dismally in terms of large tournament qualification and, Old Firm aside, the European qualifiers have consistently shamed the country and denigrated its co-efficient. The endless list of quality players that seemed to come through Scotland came to an end towards 1980.” (Left Back In The Changing Room)

“What Should Be Done About Scottish Football?” – James Hamilton
“This is really a placeholder from which you are to go to Rob Marrs’ post on the failures of Scottish football and their potential futures. But I have four thoughts to add.” (More Than Mind Games)

Brian Little – Slow Decline Or Varied Career?

August 30, 2009

“If you watch a match this afternoon, take a moment if possible to look into the eyes of your manager. If your team is winning you may think that you see happiness, but it’s not. It’s relief and respite. If your team is losing or drawing you may just get to see a haunted soul. Ironically, given that it is statistically likely that most managers will lose as many games as they win, the life of the football manager is one of surviving from one match to the next. In the most extreme circumstances, one match can lose a manager his job and, in select cases, destroy his reputation.” (twohundredpercent)

La Liga Preview: Malaga CF

August 30, 2009

We’ve done England. We’ve done Germany. We’ve done France, Holland, Scotland, and even Azerbaijan. Now that all the money and headline-grabbing starlets are moving to Spain, we are too– in our comprehensive guide to all things La Liga. Apologies to Sid Lowe, who wishes he could be as knowledgeable as we are. Without further ado… viva España!” (unprofessionalfoul)

Retro – Not always the “In” thing

August 30, 2009

“Fashion writers like to think that they have their fingers on the ever-changing pulse of the British nation, that they are armed with an intricate understanding and perception of what is hot, not, and what could well turn out to be in the future. And listening to most seasoned observers of said industry, it is fair to say that one trend tends to be permanently listed under the ‘In’ banner. Retro.” (Soccer Lens)

Scenic Soccer Stadiums

August 30, 2009

NK Rijeka – Kantrida Stadium, Rijeka, Croatia
“Here is a picture list of soccer stadiums that are located in scenic locations around the world. Click the pictures to enlarge.” (The Best Eleven), (The Best Eleven)

Who are Liverpool missing most?

August 30, 2009

“Liverpool have had, by any stretch of the imagination, a lethargic start to the Premiership season. Already, they’ve lost two games out of the first three and, as every media source has said, that is as many as they lost throughout the last season (although, no bright spark has pointed out that United lost 5 last season and still won the league fairly comfortably. Liverpool’s problem wasn’t losses it was the 11 draws that meant 22 dropped points…).” (Left Back In The Changing Room)

Principalities, Rocky Outcrops and Tax Shelters

August 30, 2009

“Thirteen European nations will materialize in South Africa in 2010. Many deservedly so. Only five African nations will join them. We’ll never know what other African qualifiers could have contributed, though I expect after the performances of Africa’s five representatives, demand for a fairer proportion of places in future World Cups will be irresistible and undeniable.” (the other football)

Don’t get caught cheating

August 30, 2009

“‘Conscience,’ the great but notably sceptical critic HL Mencken once wrote, “is the inner voice that warns us that someone might be looking.” Yet the thought that someone, or rather several cameras and a global audience, might be looking didn’t seem to disturb Arsenal’s Eduardo this week when he went down (or, in the words of Arsène Wenger, ‘got out the way of the keeper’) against Celtic and won a penalty that effectively killed Wednesday’s Champions League play-off tie.” (WSC)

Gerrard rescues Reds

August 29, 2009

“Steven Gerrard responded perfectly to having his early season form questioned by boss Rafael Benitez when he belted Liverpool’s winner at the Reebok. But the visitors were made to fight desperately hard by a Bolton side who were down to 10 men for much of the second period.” (ESPN)

Bolton 2-3 Liverpool FC: Full Time Match Report
“STEVEN Gerrard responded perfectly to having his early season form questioned by boss Rafael Benitez when he belted Liverpool’s winner at the Reebok. But the visitors were made to fight desperately hard by a Bolton side who were down to 10 men for much of the second period. In fact, Gary Megson’s men had been ahead twice through Kevin Davies and Tamir Cohen, and Liverpool only really got on top when Sean Davis was dismissed for a second bookable offence.” (Liverpool Daily Post)

Rafa Benitez may move Steven Gerrard back into midfield to kick-start Liverpool FC’s season
“RAFAEL BENITEZ is considering moving Steven Gerrard back into central midfield as he strives to kickstart both Liverpool and their skipper’s season this afternoon. Benitez’s side travel to pointless Bolton Wanderers aiming to bounce back from the shock 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa on Monday night.” (Liverpool Daily Post)

Liverpool FC at the ‘must win’ stage already
“IT sounds daft to say it so early in the season but today’s match at Bolton really is a must win game. Two defeats in the first three games isn’t the start any of us were expecting and the players have to put things right. Teams have won the league despite losing five games in recent years but there is now little room for error if we are going to challenge at the top.” (Liverpool Banter)

My Liverpool FC players will show true colours – Rafa Benitez
“THERE has been plenty of soul searching going on at Melwood this week. Manager Rafa Benitez didn’t need to tell his players that they let themselves down during Monday’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa.” (Liverpool Echo)

Bolton 2 – 3 Liverpool
“Liverpool twice came from behind to beat a stubborn Bolton side, who had Sean Davis harshly sent off. Kevin Davies put the hosts in front when he tapped in from a corner only for Glen Johnson to equalise with a low shot into the bottom corner.” (BBC)

VIDEO: Bolton 2 – 3 Liverpool
“All the goals from Liverpool’s hard fought victory against ten-man Bolton earlier today.” (Liverpool Kop)

FC Barcelona Wins UEFA Super Cup

August 29, 2009

Francesco Guardi
“FC Barcelona won the UEFA Super cup for the third time in history with a 1-0 victory over Shaktar at the Louis II stadium in Monaco. A late Pedro Rodriguez strike in the second half o the extra time was the difference between the two sides.” (All About FC Barcelona)

How Significant is Barca’s Super Cup Victories? “FC Barcelona has added two more silverware with the victories at domestic and European super cup. Some claim this as two more trophies to an already silverware packed last season, whereas some sees this as two more trophies to a bright looking this season; It all depends on how you view it. Last season FC Barcelona comfortably won the Champions League, La Liga and Copa Del Rey title.” (All About FC Barcelona

Pedro, Prince of Monaco (1-0)
“A goal in the nick of time from the Canary Islander in the second half of extra time has handed Barça their third European Super Cup. Now we can talk of a brand new Barça of the Five Cups. 57 years later, Barça can once again boast a ‘Team of the Five Cups’. Like that legendary side led by the great Ladislau Kubala in 1952, Guardiola’s team has won all five tournaments possible in 2009. The Cup, the League, the Champions League and the Super Cups of both Spain and Europe.” (FC Barcelona)

Barcelona 1 – 0 Shakhtar Donetsk (ESPN)

UEFA Champions League 2009-10 Group Stage Draw Released

August 28, 2009

“The UEFA Champions League group stage draw was released on Thursday with a few intriguing matchups. Group C contains Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Marseiile while Group F has defending champions Barcelona and Internazionale (Inter Milan).” (The 90th Minute)

Who will survive Champs League?
“Finally, the 2009-10 UEFA Champions League draw is done and we know who’s playing who and when. I really don’t like predicting who’s going to advance from the group stage, if only because I often get it wrong. (The last time I did this, for the 2007-08 season, I got 11 out of 16, marginally better than a blind monkey picking out of a hat might do).” (SI)

Champions League: Euro dreams will impact home front for Premier League clubs
“Manchester United, who were handed the most awkward draw of the English four, have important domestic fixtures, including collisions with Liverpool and City, following long flights in Europe. Although the English champions missed major opponents like Real Madrid and Inter Milan, Sir Alex Ferguson will not be too amused when casting his eye over the fixture schedule.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

Winds of gauge

August 28, 2009

“Is it too early in the Premier League season for a signpost weekend? By the end of Sunday everyone will have played three games and some four, which metes out to eight percent and 10 percent of the entire 38-game schedule. In the same vein, the average point total to win the league over the last five seasons is 90.4.” (That’s On Point)

Violent Episode Shocks British Soccer, Sparks Debate

August 28, 2009

“When West Ham drew Millwall in the second round of the Carling Cup, England’s secondary cup competition, there were audible gasps in the Sky Sports studio. Separated by two divisions, West Ham and Millwall rarely come head to head, but their historic rivalry is one of the fiercest in global soccer.” (NYT)

Argentina’s soccer season on hold due to massive debts

August 28, 2009

“This is the week Argentine soccer fans usually relish – the days leading to the start of the season. Not this time. It seems that one of the world’s most fanatical soccer countries will have to live without its game. For a few days, a week, a month. Nobody knows. Massive debt, estimated at $182-million (all figures US) for the 20 top-tier clubs, has forced the Argentine Football Association to scrap the Aug. 14 start of the season for all divisions. AFA officials have been scrambling for more than a week for an answer to the crisis.” (National Post)

Goals give hope to troubled UK town

August 28, 2009

“As part of Al Jazeera’s Downtown series, our correspondent went back to Luton, north of London, to see how football is giving hope to the community and its economy. Al Jazeera first visited Luton in March. Since then, there has been only bad news for the town known for its international airport and long manufacturing history.” (Al Jazeera)

RPT-FEATURE-Soccer-Durban’s ambition exceeds World Cup

August 28, 2009

“Durban’s stadium will be one of the most dazzling in the 2010 World Cup but the brash port’s ambition soars even higher, like the spectacular arch spanning the arena with a view across the Indian Ocean. Intensely competitive with the more famous tourist mecca of Cape Town along the coast, Durban is pulling out all the stops to ensure nobody forgets it when the soccer World Cup is over.” (Reuters)

Sylvain Distin: Distinctly Average?

August 28, 2009

“Isn’t it exciting when your club makes a new signing? That’s pretty much what the summer transfer window is about – especially in a year like this one when there are no major tournaments. Unfortunately, as an Everton fan, I’ve become used to getting a bit frustrated as we struggle to compete financially with our Premier League rivals and don’t usually manage to bring in any players until late in the window.” (They think it’s all over)

Did You Blink?

August 28, 2009

“So we are 3 weeks into the football season. It was a long summer and we were all waiting patiently, and to coin a famous Jimmy Greaves phrase ‘it’s a funny old game’, the first 3 weeks have had EVERYTHING. I cannot remember a more surprising and memorable start to a season.” (unprofessional foul)

It’s make or break for Argentina

August 27, 2009

“In a little more than a week, we’ll likely know if Argentina is a contender for the 2010 World Cup or a pretender, and a serious risk to miss out on South Africa altogether. Diego Maradona’s squad has little option but to claim all three points on Sept. 5 when it takes on archrival Brazil in a decisive South American qualifier.” (SI)

The summer was all about Real Madrid. The new La Liga season will be too
“Fifty-seven channels and there’s only one thing on: Real Madrid. This summer, Álvaro Negredo became the most expensive footballer in Sevilla’s history, Nilmar became the most expensive player in Villarreal’s history and somehow David Villa didn’t become the most expensive Spanish player in anyone’s history. Instead, Valencia busied themselves getting taken over by a company that got its logo from a kiddies’ colouring-in book and its ‘money’ from a fairytale, ditched them, got rid of the man who sunk them, issued €95m (£83m) worth of new shares and grabbed a lifeline. But no one seemed to notice.” (Guardian)

With Their Minds Possibly on the Fires at Home, Greeks Lose Tamely
“When your home, or that of friends and neighbors is burning, it puts a different perspective on playing sport, even in the Champions League. As Panathinaikos went down 2-0, and without much of a fight in Madrid on Tuesday, the television cameras focused on the extremes. Once again, Atletico Madrid’s victory was adorned with a goal of magical quality from Sergio Agüero.” (NYT)

Platini Wants Teams to Balance the Books or Else
“For at least as long as the global financial crisis has been wreaking havoc on economies and firms around the world, soccer clubs have been struggling with financial problems, many self-inflicted. And now Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, has had enough. European soccer’s governing body has warned teams to get their balance sheets, well, balanced or face a ban from the Champions League. Platini is not just targeting small clubs struggling with debt, but he also appears determined to get big clubs with deep-pocketed owners to operate in the black without incurring obscene debt.” (NYT)

English Premier League: Altidore, ESPN, Liverpool and Spector
“I’ve had multiple column ideas bouncing in my head the last couple days but haven’t been able to focus on one thing. So, to solve this, I’m just going to write about everything.” (Intelligent Soccer)

Pro Vercelli: Comets on Commas
“I spent €125,000,000 on one player during the January transfer window. Meet Alessandro Polenta, 23-year-old Italy left winger, ex of Barcelona, and in my estimation, The Best Player In The World. Here’s Alessandro Polenta’s transfer history, just to give you a sense of the shape his career has taken. He started as a 15-year-old at the youth academy of Novara (technically one of our fiercest rivals, though as they play in Serie C1 it’s been a while since we thought about them).” (Run of Play)

Law makers need to kick this hooligan scum out of football for good

August 27, 2009

“The police will be standing there, arriving to arrest those caught on CCTV cameras causing mayhem at Upton Park. So now it is down to the magistrates. Only by properly punishing Tuesday’s trouble-makers, and that means with custodial sentences, can an enduring cancer, albeit one that has been largely undetected in recent years, begin to be excised.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

British Soccer’s Hooligan Violence Stokes Old Fears
“Hooliganism was a staple of British soccer from the 1960s through the ’80s. Marauding fans wreaked havoc on cities and stadiums across Europe, sometimes with fatal consequences. The Hillsborough Disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died in 1989, was the nadir of this period, and all of British soccer.” (WSJ)

Football should not beat itself up over violence
“Say what you like about football; at least the blood is real. And concern about last night’s riots at Upton Park will be authentic too, not just in the corridors of the FA’s new Wembley headquarters but in Downing Street, for the Government are firmly behind England’s bid for the 2018 (or, if that fails, 2022) World Cup.” (Times)

Everyone knew West Ham game was going to kick off
“A certain element smiled when West Ham and Millwall were drawn together, while the rest of football held its head in its hands. When those two teams meet it goes beyond football and the game should not be punching itself on the nose over what happened.”> (Guardian)

Why It’s OK to Say “EPL”

August 26, 2009

“The phrase ‘EPL’ (short for English Premier League) was very nearly included in this post earlier today, because I know English fans often laugh at Americans (or other foreigners) who refer to the Premier League as such. But after thinking it over, I changed my mind. And I want to explain why. So if you’re one of those English fans who snickers when they hear those three letters, then please keep reading.” (The Offside)

Fixtures in the Faroe Islands
“The Faroe Islands have no chance of qualification, but they have as always given a good account of themselves. They may have only secured 1 point in a draw against Austria, but in conceding only 8 goals, they have proven to be viable opposition.” (the other football)

Kenya Wasting a Huge Opportunity Ahead of the 2010 World Cup?
“Kenya needs to get their act together. The country’s had an abundance of problems the past few years. From two competing football leagues to a FIFA suspension, the people running Kenyan football can’t seem to figure out how to make football work in their country. It’s a pity, too. The 2010 World Cup is an economic bonanza waiting to happen. The East African nation could gain financially from teams planning to come to the country to acclimate themselves before proceeding to South Africa for the 2010 finals.” (road to 2010 final)

Match Of The Midweek: West Ham United 3-1 Millwall
“The League Cup Second Round is probably the least inspiring week of the early part of the new season. In front of swathes of empty tip-up seats, youth and reserve team players half-heartedly play out matches that no-one really wants to be involved in. On the pitch tonight, West Ham United won this match. After falling behind to a first half goal, West Ham took until three minutes from what should have been the end of normal time before finding an equaliser before winning the match with two goals in extra time.” (twohundredpercent)

Damn It, United…
“Last season Manchester United rarely looked their team-devouring best. They often struggled against the stubborn brick walls put up by sides they used to rout. They didn’t dominate so much as scrape out the clutch wins. Loads of late goals in tight matches. Loads of slim margins. It wasn’t a season of pure stellar performance, yet points are points and United still won the league.” (EPL Talk)

Can There Be a “Big Four” in the Spanish La Liga?

August 26, 2009

A Scene from Roman History, c. 1645. Sebastien Bourdon
“Over the years, Spanish La Liga has been one of the top three professional soccer leagues in Europe. It currently stands at a second spot in the UEFA League rankings this year, losing first place to Premier League for next year’s Champions League qualifications. La Liga has also secured 12 Champions League titles, more than any other European league and 12 teams from La Liga have so far participated in the Champions League, higher number than any other European League.” (bleacher report)

Zlatan eyes greatness at Barcelona

August 25, 2009

“It’s decided: Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s new nickname is ‘Elite Status.’ Is it because he’s one of the most prolific strikers in the world, with 29 goals in 46 games last season, and can do jaw-dropping things like this? Sure, that makes sense. Is it because at a reported $17 million a year, he’s one of soccer’s best-paid players? That, too. Maybe it’s his reputation for an ego befitting his towering 6-foot-5 frame? Why not.” (SI)

You’re Saying it Wrong! Sporting Lisbon, Inter Milan, and Other Incorrect Names That Drive Football Fans Crazy

August 25, 2009

“Football is a global sport. Which is one of the reasons we love it so much. But that international appeal is also the reason for many many misunderstandings, leading to football teams being incorrectly labeled outside their native land. And this can drive fans of those teams crazy. I’ve been on both ends of this. I’ve been the fool that irritated both sides of a city by saying ‘Inter Milan’ and AC Milan’, and I’ve been the angry man looking for something to punch when an ESPN commentator referred to my team as ‘the Wolverhampton Wolves’.” (The Offside)

Bayern’s poor start to the season puts the spotlight on Louis van Gaal

August 25, 2009

“Bayern Munich boss Louis van Gaal must be regretting a recent interview with top German sports magazine Kicker in which he claimed he felt completely at home in his new workplace: “This club and this city suits me like a warm coat,” went the unusually laid-back line from the ex-Ajax and Barcelona coach.” (WorldSoccer)

After Two Big Victories, Burnley Has More in Its Sights

August 25, 2009

“Burnley, playing in its first season in the English Premier League, has already stunned two elite teams. The Clarets, from Lancashire, defeated mighty Manchester United 1-0 last week and followed it with an almost identical victory over struggling Everton over the weekend.” (NYT)

Anfield stunned by Villa win

August 25, 2009

Francesco Guardi , Capriccio con piramide
“Liverpool slumped to their second Premier League defeat in nine days as they lost 3-1 to Aston Villa to put their title credentials firmly on the line. Villa produced a defiant, organised display and deserved their first win at Anfield since 2001. The result also ended Liverpool’s 31-match unbeaten home league record stretching back to December 2007, when Manchester United were the last winners at Anfield.” (ESPN)

Trio of mistakes cost Liverpool dear
“And to think Liverpool had come to the conclusion that the problem was drawing at Anfield. They were held at home seven times last season, a series of frustrations that served as an explanation why the title eluded them. Yet this was altogether costlier than the stalemates with Stoke, Fulham and West Ham. Given Aston Villa’s subdued start to the season, it was equally unexpected.” (ESPN)

Liverpool 1 – 3 Aston Villa
“Aston Villa produced an outstanding defensive display to secure their first win against Liverpool in eight years as Rafael Benitez’s side continued their stuttering start to the new Premier League campaign. Villa had been heavily criticised after losing their opening home game to Wigan Athletic and slumping to defeat in the Europa League against Rapid Vienna – but they answered all the questions in emphatic fashion at Anfield.” (BBC)

Red Crash To Anfield Defeat
“Fernando Torres’ late goal was not enough as Liverpool slumped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa. The Spaniard’s 72nd minute strike gave the hosts hope after first-half goals from Lucas Leiva (og) and Curtis Davies had put Martin O’Neill’s men in control. But Ashley Young’s penalty just three minutes later dashed any thoughts of a fight back as the visitors condemned the Reds to their second defeat in just three league games.” (Liverpool FC)

Liverpool 1 – 3 Aston Villa: That Was Anfield
“What a piggish little game this was. You might have assumed that Liverpool’s first league defeat at home since 2007 would have been an exhibition of high drama, or at least of reasonable intensity, but the Kop was languid, the crowd left early, and the Liverpool players were fierce only in their complaints.” (Run of Play)

Football’s international language

August 24, 2009

“A few month’s back on Radio 5’s World Football Phone-In (Friday night/Saturday morning, normally between 2.30 am and 4am if you care to join us), the excellent analyst of European football, Andy Brassell, was talking about the first Champions League game he attended in Italy. He had a shock. An English team was involved, but the match stewards could not speak English. In my wanderings around South America, however, I would get a similar shock if I saw such a thing as a steward.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

Africa and the English Premier League: A Love Story

August 24, 2009

“‘Who do you support?’ For your average American that question, particularly without any context, is almost impossible to make sense of. But as I learned on a tour of Uganda and Kenya with a group of American educators in the summer of 2008, for a surprising number of Africans (particularly the teenage students we met) it is among the first questions a Western visitor will be asked. And, to the further confusion of American visitors, the right answer is almost always one of the ‘big four’: Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, or Arsenal.” (Pitch Invasion)

And they are back!

August 24, 2009

“Well, there we are. The Ashes are back in Andrew ‘Blazer’ Strauss’s and England’s hands. An astonishing Test Match which saw England fans chewing their knuckles even if cricketing history, common sense and the evidence of the previous few day’s play suggested that we couldn’t possibly lose.” (Left Back In The Changing Room)

Fan Diary #3: The Delayed Broadcast

August 24, 2009

“When I first started watching English football, I rarely got to watch the league matches live. I worked in a bar with no TVs. My friends George and Noel would bring us VHS tapes of the weekend matches. George taped the Setanta matches and my Noel taped the FSC matches (often tacking on Sopranos episodes from HBO after each match). The matchdays I wasn’t working were days I had to find a place to watch since I had neither football channel at home. The English pub in town would always have the games on but they didn’t open until noon on weekends. So I learned to love Liverpool on a delay. Watching tapes some 12 hours after the match was over or catching the repeat airings at the pub.” (EPL Talk)

Weekend Wrapup: A Very Busy and Amazing Second Week

August 24, 2009

“The past week has certainly given us our fair share of games to watch, ponder, pull our hair out over, or just genuinely enjoy. Just about every English team has played three games in the last nine days, Serie A just kicked off this weekend, and France and Germany are well into their seasons. Next weekend sees the start of the race to the title between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain which should be a very interesting one indeed, though it may cause international interest to the other 18 teams in Spain to dwindle slightly.” (Avoiding the Drop)

SuperCup Postgame aka: 1 down 5 to go

August 24, 2009

“Our lineup of starters came out and proved why they start and the Gamper was just a result of playing the B-team. We dominated from the very first moment and Xavi and Yaya quickly became the lords of the tempo of play. Maxwell and Alves gave the team width and Messi had all the time that he could have hoped for with the ball at his feet. Considering all of this was happening it might seem strange that our first goal didn’t come until the 50th minute.” (The Offside)

Spanish Supercup Result: FC Barcelona wins 3-0 (5-1 AGG)
“Barça are playing the Best Football of the continent (possibly the World) & it’s a spectacle to watch them play & see how the new incorporations of Ibrahimovic & Maxwell have settled in nicely into the scheme of things.” (Spanish Football)

FC Barcelona Wins Spanish Super Cup
(All About FC Barcelona)

Tactical revolution? How the Big Four have changed

August 23, 2009

“Much has been made of the many comings and goings at the ‘Big Four’ clubs throughout a summer full of signings and speculation. The Premier League title is destined, however, for the team which makes the most of their resources, whether massive or relatively meagre. Personnel, motivation – and luck – are all important factors, of course, but countless points will be won and lost on the pre-game chalkboard.” (Footballing World)

Changing Lanes
“As Real Madrid embarked on a typically senseless transfer rampage, Barcelona stood still. Nothing broken, nothing needing fixin’, was their attitude. Winning the treble last season dictates that the current squad possesses something special, but nevertheless, a leading supermarket can never afford to sit back with a contented smile because the competition will not, and will never, give up the chase for supremacy. Yet Barcelona did just this at the beginning of the summer. And so, with the less successful competitor having snapped up the best locations and offering the best prices, the leading brand responded in a frenzy in order to, somehow, hold onto its dominant market position.” (Footballing World)

Ukrainian will, Carpathian pride and the summer of ’69

August 23, 2009

“Some 30,000 interlopers from the western extremity of the Soviet Union descended on Moscow on 17 Aug 1969 and, in a spontaneous assertion of nationalism, sang Ukrainian folk songs in the heart of the Soviet empire. Following a 20-hour train journey, supporters of FC Karpaty celebrated the temerity of a regional second-division club in making Soviet soccer history. The team known as the Carpathians, from L’viv, defeated SKA Rostov-on-Don, a top-flight Russian side, to become the only Soviet Cup winners from outside the first division.” (The Global Game)

Tottenham’s Harry Redknapp rewarded for his faith in Jermain Defoe

August 23, 2009

“Invariably, Jermain Defoe is in the thick of it, cracking jokes and volleys, startling apprentice keepers with the power of his shooting. Exuberance reigns. A natural finisher, Defoe’s knack of finding the target has been further honed through hard work. Having the popular Ferdinand around adds to the enjoyment of the session – and the expertise. Ferdinand understands what it is like to fight for an England place, knows how forwards like Defoe are creatures of confidence.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

Honey Baked Tottenham
“For today, at least, it’s good to be Steve Nash (even more so than usual), Jeff Beck, (suddenly) Bill Simmons, my buddy Suppe and yes, even according to this website Andrew Ridgley. Granted it’s a mere two games into the marathon that is the 2009-10 Premier League season, but there is reason to be excited about the heady days at White Hart Lane as Tottenham — the classic tease if there ever was one — is 2-0-0 with six points in the bank with seven goals scored in those matches.” (That’s on Point)

Academy for Brazilians on the Fields of Italy

August 23, 2009

brazilians home state map
“Before a ball was kicked in the Serie A season, the national coach, Marcello Lippi, expressed the wish that the Italian league would make the world sit up and notice its quality before the World Cup in 2010. Maybe it will. But it might not be the Italians doing it. The eye-catching performances in AC Milan’s 2-1 victory in Siena on Saturday night were Alexandre Pato and Ronaldinho in the attack and Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva in defense. Three of the four are Brazilians who are hoping the Italian league makes their national coach, Carlos Dunga, sit up and notice them.” (NYT)

Zola eyes bright future at Upton Park

August 23, 2009

“Gianfranco Zola is doing his best to dispel the myth that good guys cannot succeed in the harsh world of Premier League management. It is hard to find anyone who has a bad word to say about the little Italian, whose cheeky smile and boyish enthusiasm for the sport he mastered as a player looks set to continue into what may soon be hailed as a successful coaching career.” (ESPN)

SOS Scotland: is there a way back for a once-great footballing nation?

August 23, 2009

“During his halcyon days at Aberdeen, Alex Ferguson made a pronouncement to a gathering of football writers, a number of them visitors from England, which had a startling impact. Responding to the question of how he had restructured the club, with particular emphasis on scouting, he said: ‘Let me put it this way: no Denis Law will ever be allowed to leave Aberdeen again.'” (Guardian)

Luís Figo

August 22, 2009

“Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo (born 4 November 1972 in Almada) is a former Portuguese footballer who played as a midfielder for Sporting Clube de Portugal, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Internazionale during a career which spans over 20 years. He retired from football on 31 May 2009. He won 127 caps for the Portuguese national football team.” Wikipedia, Guardian, YouTube, (1)

James Lawton: Moyes’ predicament shows why a salary cap is not such a mad idea

August 22, 2009

“The idea may cause a certain amount of outrage inside these football borders but there is someone willing to give us the definitive analysis of the strange and disturbing case of Joleon Lescott. He is the much reviled, former football genius Michael Platini. He might just be able to draw a practical line between the rage of Everton manager David Moyes that his season has perhaps been irreparably sabotaged by the Manchester City belief that they can merely reach for their chequebook and summon a key player of a less wealthy rival – and the player’s legitimate belief that, like most everyone else in the land, he has the right to accept the best available offer for skills he will enjoy only for a relatively brief phase of his life.” (Independent)

Italy: new season previewed by Paddy Agnew

August 22, 2009

“What do the following have in common: keeper Vincenzo Fiorillo (Sampdoria), full-back Francesco Renzetti (Genoa), centre-half Giuseppe Bellusci (Catania), midfielders Fabio Sciacca (Catania) and Andrea Poli (Sampdoria), and strikers Abel Hernandez (Palermo), Guido Marilungo (Sampdoria) and Alberto Paloschi (Parma)? Well, apart from being under-20, these multinational young talents will all struggle to hold down a permanent Serie A starting place next season.” (World Soccer)

La Liga 09/10 Preview: Will Real Madrid and Barcelona live up to expectations?

August 21, 2009

Juande Ramos and Pep Guardiola
“Last season Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona thrilled Europe with their fluid, vivacious, irrepressible brand of football. Led by the combined talents of Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Messi and Eto’o, Barca surged to an exceptional treble which established the Catalan club as the most formidable on the planet.” (SoccerLens)

Wildebeest, the Alamo & Dudu’s voodoo

August 21, 2009

“The cliché coaches like to use when their teams win the first leg of a cup tie is that their team has a foot in the next round. After their 5-1 demolition of Anderlecht, Lyon have both feet inside the door and are just about to close it behind them. Even on television, the atmosphere in the Gerland felt like a carnival – unless, of course, you were an Anderlecht fan for whom it felt more like a burial.” (FourFourTwo)

Pro Vercelli: No Title, No Leash

August 21, 2009

“I’m not going to spend a lot of time crying about what a tragedy last season was. We won the European Cup. Yes, we lost our streak of consecutive Serie A titles and got blown out by A.C. Milan, but we still finished second in the league, won the Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup, and ended the season as champions of Europe. That’s not a bad year, even if it doesn’t live up to all our (unearthly, outsize, hyperinflated) expectations.” (Run of Play), Pro Vercelli: The 3-4-3 in Action – (Run of Play)

Serie A’s ‘Year Zero’ may not be as dire as the doom-mongers suggest

August 21, 2009

Jose Mourinho
“First came denial, then anger, bargaining and depression. Now, at last, acceptance: Serie A has reached the end of an era. No Italian sides reached the quarter-finals of last year’s Champions League, and there is a strong possibility that one of the country’s four places in that competition will soon be lost to Germany. More troubling still, Serie A’s 20 teams now boast a collective debt of close to €2bn. More painful still, two of the league’s most gifted players – Ricky Kakà and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – have left for Spain’s La Liga. Three of its most iconic – Paolo Maldini, Pavel Nedved and Luis Figo – have retired.” (Guardian)

Q. & A. With A.C. Milan’s Oguchi Onyewu
“Oguchi Onyewu joined his new team, A.C. Milan, during the club’s preseason tour of the United States last month. After a day of training and promotional events in the Boston area, Onyewu and his teammates enjoyed a team dinner at the Four Seasons downtown. After dinner, he sat down with The New York Times for an interview about his new team and his experience playing soccer overseas. What follows is a partial transcript of my interview with Onyewu.” (NYT)

The Joy of Six: underrated footballers

August 21, 2009

“From Irish predators to a Danish maestro, we look at six players who didn’t get the credit they deserved” (Guardian)

Review of the week

August 21, 2009

“When Man Utd toured the Far East this summer, Dimitar Berbatov said he felt like a Beatle. On Wednesday night the striker and his team-mates looked more like Bez – dazed and confused. United’s defeat by Burnley was the biggest shock since Robert Smith first discovered hairspray, as a thumping effort from Robbie Blake (or ‘Blobbie Rake’ as he’s known in the trade) earned the striker the freedom of the city.” (BBC)

Hitting reset on the World Rankings

August 20, 2009

“Like a recurring ulcer, we’re back after a summer of excess and decadence. When we last checked in, Cristiano Ronaldo was still a Red Devil, AC Milan looked competitive and the U.S. national team looked like it could beat Spain, no problem. Honest. In any case, we’re getting the Rankings machine going again after a blistering summer of some serious cash moving around, despite the supposedly slow economy.” (SI)

Corruption Allegations Make The Maltese Cross

August 20, 2009

“Days before the Maltese football season is due to start and still the future of Marsaxlokk FC and Vittoriosa Stars, the two clubs at the centre of corruption charges, is unknown after hearings were repeatedly postponed. For years, rumours of corruption have undermined the credibility of local football but when these were brought up the official reply always was that unless someone stepped forward with proof nothing could be done.” (twohundredpercent)

Premiership Conclusions

August 20, 2009

“Well we’ve now had two rounds of Premier League fixtures and gosh, hasn’t it been interesting!? It’s fair to say there have been some major shocks already, so what have you made of the season so far? What are your first impressions? I’m going to give my two cents worth with three conclusions below, but please leave a comment and let me know what your reaction to the start of the ‘09/’10 season has been.” (They think it’s all over…)

Steve Heighway

August 20, 2009

“Stephen Derek Heighway (born 25 November 1947) is a former footballer who was part of the hugely successful Liverpool team of the 1970s.” Wikipedia, LFC History, All Experts, MySpace

Champions League Qualifying: No Room For Cinderella

August 20, 2009

“What is the official name of this new round anyway? Fourth round? ‘Playoff bracket’? How about “the mere formality”, because that’s what it turned out to be yesterday. While all were hoping for a big upset and a Champions League Cinderella, the big clubs went quietly about taking care of business, disposing of the riff raff before the the second leg.” (The Offside), Champions League Qualifying: Home Sweet Nothing – The Offside

Portugal’s World Cup hopes lie in the balance, writes Pedro Pinto

August 20, 2009

“It’s injury time in Tirana and, with the score at 1-1, Portugal know that they are effectively on the brink of elimination from the 2010 World Cup. Another long ball is floated into the Albanian area and, as the home goalkeeper fails to hold the ball, Porto centre-back Bruno Alves appears at the back post to head the ball in. Cue wild celebrations on the Portugal bench. It’s as if they have just beaten Brazil in the World Cup Final.” (World Soccer)