The management factor

September 8, 2009

Vicente del Bosque
“All quiet on the Spanish league front this week, with the traditional stop-start beginning to the season dictated by the September wave of World Cup qualifiers. Spain thrashed Belgium 5-0, but that’s hardly news. Nobody expected anything else, but the blip at the hands of the USA back in June seems to have had the desired effect, and the team is looking even more awesome than before. Belgium made their contribution to this, and Spain will have harder games to contemplate in the future, but the balance of the side seemed nigh-on perfect.” (ESPN)


Exclusive Interview With Barney Ronay

September 8, 2009

“Barney Ronay of The Guardian is the latest guest on the EPL Talk Podcast to discuss his newest book, The Manager: The Absurd Ascent Of The Most Important Man In Football. Ronay is best known for his appearances on the The Guardian’s Football Weekly Podcast as well as the top writers at the newspaper.” (EPL Talk)

A Velvet Draw for Two Divorcées of European Soccer

September 8, 2009

“‘Are you seeing the beaches of South Africa for us?’ a reporter asked Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss after Slovakia’s 2-2 draw in a World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic on Saturday night. Weiss smiled tightly and said, ‘Not yet.’ The reporter may have been a tad misguided about the attraction of the beach in South Africa next June – it will be winter there – but his question was illustrative of the country’s focus on qualify for its first World Cup. Weiss’s answer was realistic. But he, like all of Slovakia, can be more than cautiously optimistic. All Slovakia has to do now is avoid defeat and this tiny nation of 5.5 million, long over-shadowed in everything by former partners the Czechs, can make its World Cup debut.” (NYT)

Hope, Fear, and Youth Academies: African Players and the Changing Demographics of European Soccer

September 8, 2009

France/ Roman Empire
“The BBC’s recent pre-season analysis of “Where the Premier League’s players come from” offered a striking picture of the dramatic demographic changes in European soccer over recent decades. Comparing the EPL’s 2009-2010 rosters with the same clubs’ 1989-1990 rosters, I was particularly struck by the influx of African players. The same clubs that today include 44 players born in Africa only included four African born players in 1989—and those four were all white players with family ties to England (Bruce Grobbelaar at Liverpool, Iain Hesford at Hull, Gavin Nebbeling at Fulham, and John Paskin with Wolves). On the surface, this is a tremendous success story for African soccer—but stories of globalization and soccer are always more complicated than what’s on the surface.” (Pitch Invasion)

The Monday Miscellany – World Cup Special

September 8, 2009

“There were two Scotland teams on Saturday. In the first half, we saw the befuddled and talentless side that floundered so badly in Amsterdam and Oslo, with Macedonia creating the better chances – such as there were any – before half time. Then, in the 56th minute, a low, awkward cross from Steven Fletcher was headed in, quite brilliantly, by Scotland’s best player, the Celtic midfielder Scott Brown. In an instant, the team were transformed. Once Scotland began playing, they were clearly better than the visitors, their superiority neatly summed up by comparing two similar chances.” (Footballing World)

Best player U.S. has ever produced comes through when it counts

September 8, 2009

“So who has been the standout for U.S. Soccer this past year? That’s the question I need to answer, as my ballot arrived just this past week for the Honda Player of Year, voted on annually by the American soccer media. If you had asked me Saturday afternoon, I would’ve said my vote probably was going to U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu, whose dominant performances in World Cup qualifying and, especially, the Confederations Cup, have made him the standout of 2009 and earned him high-profile transfer to AC Milan. I mean, how often does an American land himself a gig at Milan? (Answer: never, before Gooch.)” (SI)

Altidore, Dempsey rally U.S. to comeback win
“The United States is getting good at coming from behind in World Cup qualifiers. The Americans rallied from an early deficit and beat El Salvador 2-1 on Saturday night, moving into prime position to qualify for its sixth straight World Cup.” (SI)