Your Handy World Cup Qualifier Preview

October 8, 2009

“The interlull is the bane of the club soccer fan; it’s like an early bye week, a rained out game, and a west coast road trip all rolled into one. The potential for player injury is still there, the benefit for the club that’s actually paying the player is not, and international managers still need players in order to get results. On top of that, many of the matches are lopsided. Take Malta in Group 1 of the UEFA qualifiers; nine games in, they still have yet to score a goal, their goal differential is -22, and their best result is a scoreless draw with Albania. This is not always riveting stuff.” (Avoiding the Drop)


The Tuesday Ballbag

October 8, 2009

“Ok, so we didn’t quite break our eye socket blowing our noses but I bet it hurts just as much. As befitting a site the critics prefer above all others, Inside Left injured itself while out doing a wonderfully middle-class pursuit, namely skiing. On a green slope. On the last run. On the last day. Two years ago. Yes, as the evenings draw in and the weather gets colder, Inside Left’s old skiing injury is flaring up again. A particularly hard fall on the last day of our holiday has taken care of our tendons, leaving them inflamed and very, very sore. We’ve not slept for two weeks and we’re in constant pain, making typing a very painful and unpleasant experience. There’s no action in the SPL this weekend, so over at The Scottish Football Blog they have a very good ‘report card‘ on the season so far, thankfully – given our injury – saving us the effort of having to write it.” (Inside Left)

Top 10 Merseyside Derbies

October 8, 2009

“It might not live up to the halcyon days of the 1980s but the Merseyside derby still has the ability captivate a wider audience. The recent triple bill ending with Everton�s dramatic, late victory in the cup demonstrated this despite the efforts of ITV technicians. The sides first met in the League in 1894 with Liverpool triumphing 3-0 at Goodison Park. There have been 206 matches between the sides with Liverpool leading 79-65 in victories. The derby also holds the record as the most played FA Cup tie (22). The derby was at its greatest during the 1980s.” (midfielddynamo)

Being Brian Clough: Interview With Michael Sheen

October 8, 2009

“Brian Clough was one of British football’s most controversial characters. Brash, outspoken, and fiercely ambitious, the former Forest, Derby, and Leeds manager is one of the game’s great cult figures. Loved by fans but loathed by the football authorities, Clough was one of the biggest stars in seventies and eighties Britain. One of the first people to realize the link between football and celebrity, the opinionated North-easterner quickly became the television face of football, never missing an opportunity to pontificate, or even better, to needle his enemies.” (First Touch)

Actor Michael Sheen Talks English Football and “The Damned United”
“Michael Sheen is building a film career out of playing characters from British popular culture. First it was Tony Blair in ‘The Queen.’ Then came David Frost in ‘Frost/Nixon.’ Now in ‘The Damned United,’ which opens tomorrow in new York and Los Angeles, he’s taken on the role of one of the most charismatic characters in English soccer history: Brian Clough, the legendary coach at Derby County, Nottingham Forest, and briefly, Leeds United, where his tumultuous tenure forms the premise for the film.” (WSJ)

In ‘The Damned United,’ A Cocky Coach Is Doomed
“The bloody, bruising, take-no-prisoners world of English soccer in the 1960s and early 1970s is the backdrop for the new feature film The Damned United. But viewers don’t need to know a thing about soccer — or like it — to appreciate the remarkable man at the center of the movie: Brian Clough. Clough was the manager of a terrible team from Derby County in the basement of England’s professional soccer league. But Clough did two miraculous things.” (NPR)

Trapattoni Slams FIFA For ‘Killing Football’ With Playoff Decision

October 8, 2009

“The timing was definitely odd. Usually in professional sport, the norm is that you have the rules of the competition laid out for everybody before it begins. That way all involved know exactly where they stand and any room for misunderstandings is minimised. Pretty basic stuff, right? Well, if you are FIFA apparently not. Because, rather than get all the rules and criteria for World Cup qualification established early, Sepp Blatter and co waited until only two games of the European World Cup qualification group stages were left to announce that they will be using a seeding system for the European play-offs.” (Just Football)

How Old Is Too Old For A Footballer?

October 8, 2009

“I find myself asking it all the time: how old is that player? My last such quandary was over Arshavin (older than I would have guessed). Before that it was over Jovetic (younger than I would have guessed). When I’ m looking up a player’s age for an article or to settle a bet or for the hell of it and a date before 1980 pops up, my initial reaction is: ‘Wow, he’s getting old…’ But wait… I was born before 1980 (by nine months). I’m not getting old. Am I??” (EPL Talk)

50 Years of Bill Shankly

October 8, 2009

“For my money, the lesser of the great ’60s tranche of managers, but the better man of the lot of them. He reminds me of my Uncle John RIP.” (James Hamilton)