What’s in a Name?

November 18, 2009

“This is a guest post from Ben Woolhead, co-founder of the esteemed Newcastle United Blog, Black and White and Read All Over. Ben turns his attention to the ongoing furore surrounding the naming rights to St. James’ Park.” (thetwounfortunates)


The return of an old-world power

November 18, 2009

“A step away from reaching the 2010 World Cup, two-time champion Uruguay has the opportunity to return to the elite of world soccer. After beating Costa Rica 1-0 in San José in the first leg of their playoff last Saturday, la Celeste knows it’s more than capable of getting the job done when the teams meet again in the return leg in Montevideo on Wednesday.” (SI)


World Cup 2010

November 18, 2009

ESPN – Nov 18


The final qualifiers

November 18, 2009


“As we reach the end of World Cup qualifying in Europe, Africa and the intercontinental play-offs, we look at each of the qualified teams and how they got there. France v Ireland | Ukraine v Greece | Bosnia v Portugal | Slovenia v Russia | Algeria v Egypt | Uruguay v Costa Rica” (ESPN)


For Swiss Youth, the World Calls

November 17, 2009


“When the Swiss boys returned home from Africa on Tuesday as the champions of world youth soccer, they were met with civic pride and major questions about how many of them the nation can hold on to. It was the first time that Switzerland had qualified for the Under-17 World Cup. The boys won it. It was also the first time Switzerland had won a global trophy in its 104-year soccer history.” (NYT)


Great And…Not Great – Frank Rijkaard

November 17, 2009

“Calm. Composed. Cool. Classy. It seems that every possible adjective for Frank Rijkaard begins with a hard consonant, fitting for a holding midfielder that turned a successful playing career into an equally trophy-laden managerial spell. But after running up the video-goal tab, the time has come for “Great And…Not Great” to focus on the ticking clock master in the midfield, the tireless worker, the precision-passer. Enjoy this photo-laden take on the Milan maestro.” (futfanatico)


A North African Battle for World Cup Glory

November 17, 2009

“In Sudan, there is a love-hate relationship with Egypt, and there will be a huge number of Algerian supporters on hand Wednesday for the World Cup playoff game between the Pharaohs and the Desert Foxes. You have to wonder why Egypt chose this country to host the game, with a place in South Africa on the line.” (NYT)


The Day I Made a Difference

November 17, 2009

“Like many, many fans, I suffer from a ridiculous superstitiousness on match days. Whether it’s which part of my wallet I keep my ticket in, or making sure that every last possession in my house is lined up at strict 90-degree angles, I’m on it. I’ve gone through several phases with pants, and this particular “irrational” fear has led to a quite farcical situation whereby I have to cover my eyes before choosing which pair to go for. The logic being that it’s preferable to leave it in the hands of the Gods than to sully another pair of perfectly serviceable boxers with the stigma of being loser’s pants. All of a sudden those bobbles become so much more noticeable.” (thetwounfortunates)


Play 7 Classic Football Management Computer Games Online

November 17, 2009

“Many of the regular readers of EPL Talk will know that I’m a massive fan of retro football computer games, so I was pleased to come across a video showing what the original Football Manager game, made in 1982, looked like when played on a Sinclair Spectrum computer. The video painstakingly goes through step-by-step of how to play Football Manager, which was the classic computer game that started the football management game craze. Designed and programmed by Kevin Toms, you can see how simplistic but addictive the game is. And, if you’re feeling up to it, you can play an online version of Football Manager thanks to an emulator from World of Spectrum.” (EPL Talk)


The continuing saga of Scottish football

November 17, 2009


Casper’s 1930-era
“About a week or so ago, I wrote two articles on this site about the perilous state the Scottish game finds itself in. Back then, I bemoaned the fact that the game north of the border was being haunted by events on and off the field, from financial troubles to crowd troubles, from declining standards to declining credibility, and from a lack of competition to a lack of crowds.” (Inside Left)


Duo keen on Scotland manager role

November 17, 2009

“‘Any Scottish manager would see it as a wonderful challenge,’ former Aberdeen and Dunfermline boss Calderwood told BBC Radio Scotland. A star midfielder for Scotland in his day, Collins said: “I’d be interested in managing the national team. But it’s not for me to put my name forward. ‘But let’s make no mistake about it, it’s a very tough job.’ The 41-year-old played for his country at the 1998 World Cup and has been out of management since leaving Belgian side Charleroi at the end of last season.” (BBC)


FIFA to Iraq: Don’t Make Us Come Down There

November 17, 2009

“When it comes to pissing off FIFA, there’s no surer way to do it than to announce that there’s an outside influence on your country’s football association. FIFA may be behind on video replay, soaring transfer prices, and the expansion of the game into Africa, but they’re cutting edge when it comes to vigorously defending their statutes. Peru and Poland have previously run afoul of this particular rule, which basically states that the government can’t come in and run your football association; it has to be an independent organization.” (Avoiding the Drop)


The secret of managerial success

November 16, 2009

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Harry Redknapp
“For just £275+VAT you can spend the evening of November 17, courtesy of the League Managers Association (LMA), in the company of the 14 living managers who have totted up at least 1000 matches in England. For the majority a key characteristic is persistence.” (WSC)


Football Weekly Extra: World Cup play-offs preview

November 16, 2009

“James Richardson is joined by Sean Ingle, Rob Smyth and Paul Doyle. On the pod this week: • The team are joined on the phone by Raphael Honigstein to reflect on the death of Robert Enke. • A full World Cup play-off preview. • Brian Oliver drops by to discuss the African World Cup qualifiers and reminisce about the infamous Egypt v Algeria game from 1989. • And Sid Lowe is on the line to preview Spain’s friendly against Argentina.” (Guardian)


Football Weekly: England and Brazil disappoint but New Zealand make it to South Africa

November 16, 2009

“First up, Fernando Duarte reports from the mountains of Oman to look back on the clash between World Cup favourites Brazil and a depleted England. What lessons, if any, will Dunga and Fabio Capello have learnt from this encounter? We also look ahead to the second leg of Ireland’s World Cup play-off with France, and the other battles in the quest to get to South Africa – not all of them as dramatic as Algeria’s fiery tussle with Egypt.” (Guardian)


With World at Stake, Far More Than a Game

November 16, 2009

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The U.S. men’s soccer team heads out onto the field.
“The penultimate lap of the marathon of World Cup qualifying left little decided with just three certainties: Cameroon, Nigeria and New Zealand advanced to the last 32 in South Africa. For 12 other nations, vying for six remaining places, it goes down to the wire across three continents on Wednesday. And of those, it will be a blessed relief when Egypt and Algeria settle their differences on neutral soil in Sudan because the encounter Saturday in Cairo fired nationalistic enmity that forced huge police mobilization, not just in their lands but also in Marseille. Soccer is more than just a game. Its contrasts were writ large on the Sunday morning front pages.” (NYT)


Rising Stars of African Football 14th Nov 09

November 16, 2009

“The Legendino, Tim Vickery, and the Top Brass, Andy Brassell are joined by Mark Gleeson to discuss the rising stars of African football, amongst other things.” (BBC)


Adventures Of The Football-Curious: No Football, Religion, Politics At Work

November 16, 2009

“My co-worker Doug has become Football-Curious. Between me talking about Liverpool every week (lately: moaning about Liverpool most every week) and an article he read about Clive Owen talking about being a Liverpool supporter, he has taken an interest in the Reds. He asks me tons of questions whenever we work together, everything from “What’s a Scouser?” to “What’s the offside trap?” He catches what matches and highlights he can on TV (limited to what’s on CSN since he doesn’t have Fox or Setanta). And he pores over every football book he can find at Barnes and Noble as well as FourFourTwo and the Premier League highlights in The Irish Emigrant.” (EPL Talk)


World Cup 2010: Top 50 World Cup moments

November 15, 2009

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“Maradona, Pele, Cruyff… Celebrate the greatest moments and greatest players in World Cup history with our definitive list, complete with YouTube clips.” (Telegraph)


Diego Maradona receives two-month ban for World Cup qualifier outburst

November 15, 2009

“A Fifa disciplinary committee has given the Argentina coach Diego Maradona a two-month ban “from all football related activity” and a 25,000 Swiss francs (£14,815) fine following his outburst at the end of his side’s World Cup qualifier against Uruguay last month.” (Guardian)

Spain’s Xabi Alonso has last word
“TWO penalties, seven yellow cards. This was a friendly with a bit of a grimace on its face at times, and for a capacity audience at the home of Atletico Madrid, it was all the more enjoyable for its hard edge. Diego Maradona’s Argentina finished second best to the champions of Europe, but made a game of it by making good on their best spell of football early in the second half, after Xabi Alonso had given Spain the lead. The same player won the match by converting a late penalty.” (TimesOnline)


Last-ditch Moteab goal forces play-off

November 15, 2009

“Egypt and Algeria will return to the pitch on Wednesday to settle the last of Africa’s qualifying berths for the 2010 World Cup after a dramatic late goal gave the home side a 2-0 win in their last group game on Saturday. Substitute Emad Moteab’s header five minutes into stoppage time gave Egypt the winning margin they needed over Algeria in a tense encounter in front of just over 74,000 fans in the capital and ensured they finished level at the top of Group C.” (ESPN)


France win as Nigeria, Cameroon qualify

November 15, 2009

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Francois Boucher, Diana Leaving the Bath
“A header by Bruno Alves gave Portugal a valuable 1-0 win over Bosnia in their first-leg encounter but Carlos Queiroz’s side missed a host of chances to put the tie beyond doubt. Portugal dominated the first half-hour, with Nani exploiting space on the right wing to give Emir Spahic a torrid time. The hosts took a deserved lead after 31 minutes when Nani crossed for Alves to head in unchallenged at the far post.” (ESPN)

“Find out who will be playing alongside hosts South Africa at the 2010 World Cup with BBC Sport’s definitive guide to who has qualified and when they wrapped up their place at the finals…” (BBC)


Proud skipper Rooney admits Brazil the better side

November 15, 2009

“England’s stand-in captain Wayne Rooney conceded Brazil were the better team in their 1-0 friendly defeat in Qatar but admitted the defeat still hurt. The Manchester United striker was handed the armband in the absence of the injured John Terry but could not inspire Fabio Capello’s injury-hit side against the five-time World Cup winners.”
(ESPN)

Boys from Brazil prove Fabio’s understudies have lot to learn
“Unused to playing to a largely shirt-sleeved crowd on a mid-November night, a depleted England got what was coming and set off on the seven-hour flight home grateful the damage was no worse. It would have been, but for a shocking penalty miss by Luis Fabiano after Ben Foster, playing in goal in preference to Robert Green, should have been sent off. Brazil, joint favourites with Spain to win the World Cup, may claim to have gained a psychological advantage over a side the bookmakers rate not far behind them, but for all their fluid play it would be wrong to read too much into what was probably the most low-key of the 23 meetings between the countries.” (Independent)

The ten best England v Brazil matches
“England take on Brazil in Qatar this weekend in a mouth-watering fixture between two of the world’s most football crazy nations. Over the years there have been some classic matches between the sides and moments that have since become legend.” (Independent)

Captain Rooney unable to lift inexperienced, uninspired England
“Wayne Rooney seldom suffers from apathy on a football pitch. The opportunity to be captain in Doha seemed to make him particularly animated, although frustration then gripped him even more quickly than usual. He had a craving to leave his mark on a game where the play was sometimes perfunctory, but this was one of his weaker outings for England.” (Guardian)


Anelka’s deflected strike hurts Irish

November 15, 2009

“Nicolas Anelka fired France a step closer to next summer’s World Cup finals as the Republic of Ireland’s brave resistance finally wilted. Anelka’s 72nd-minute strike, which was deflected past Shay Given by the unwitting Sean St Ledger, was enough to condemn Giovanni Trapattoni’s side to their first defeat of the qualifying campaign and send the French into Wednesday night’s return with a lead and a precious away goal.” (ESPN)

Pluck of the Irish is deflated by Anelka
“What a pity. This was arguably Ireland’s best performance under Giovanni Trapattoni but it earned them absolutely nothing bar an incredibly steep hill to climb in Paris on Wednesday. Nicolas Anelka’s deflected goal on 72 minutes was the difference between the teams on the night and the result means that Ireland have to score once at the Stade de France to stay in the tie, or twice if they want to win it without recourse to a penalty shoot-out. Which is a shame because Ireland’s efforts last night were worthy of a 0-0 draw, or with some better finishing – particularly from Liam Lawrence in the first half – a single goal advantage.” (Independent)


Celtic & Rangers Frozen Out Of The Premier League

November 14, 2009

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Scott McDonald
“Phil Gartside’s plan to revolutionise the Premier League (any personal gain from which to him or his club Bolton Wanderers would, of course, be entirely coincidental) has failed, for now. The issue of relegation from Premier League Two can be stored away for another day (in December 2010, to be precise), and Bolton Wanderers can get on with the small matter of avoiding the relegation that Gartside is so scared of. It was not this aspect of his proposals, however, that attracted the most attention in the media. It was the proposal to invite Celtic and Rangers to join the league that invited the most comment from the fourth estate.” (twohundredpercent)


It’s Not A Funny Old Game, It’s A Funny Old World

November 14, 2009

“Firstly there was the tragedy of German goalkeeper Robert Enke committing suicide under the strain of depression, then there has been Liverpool’s confusing struggle for a victory even against lowly opposition and once again the Old Firm duo of Rangers and Celtic being refused entry into a proposed British Premier League. While these stories have all contained elements of interest, tragedy and intrigue, there have been two other stories that have occupied my mind to a greater extent this week. They are Carlo Cudicini’s motorcycle accident, which has left him with two broken wrists and an injured pelvis and Aston Villa defender Like Young’s decision to retire from international football.” (Three Match Ban)


Egypt – Algeria preview: SHOWTIME!!

November 14, 2009

“This is it, it’s now or never, it’s all or nothing; after almost one year of fighting in the African jungles and North African deserts, the grudge match has come. The sleepless city of Cairo will witness a historical day when the Egyptian team, backed by 80 million fan hosts Algeria for the world cup qualification ticket. Stakes?….everything is at stake; we have went through many ups and downs in this world cup qualification campaign, emerging from a successful African cup of nations In 2008, expectations were high from us but we stumbled and we had to fight back for the ticket and had to live some nervous killing moments waiting for very crucial goals in order to reach this day.” (World Cup Blog)


The Friday Five: World Cup Play-Offs

November 14, 2009

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Iran v Australia November 22nd and 29th
“As the eyes of the footballing world switch to the glittering international events, no not the friendlies, that are the World Cup Play-offs to see just who will take final spots in the world’s biggest football tournament, so we take a look back over some of the finest play-offs in World Cup history. (SoccerLens)


World Cup 2010 Playoffs: Pick Your Six Winners

November 14, 2009

“With 23 nations already qualified for World Cup 2010, there are just nine places in South Africa still up for grabs. Three of those will be decided when African qualifying concludes tomorrow. But that’s a separate post. The six other qualifiers will be decided by playoffs, starting tomorrow. There are eight European teams competing for four places. They’ll play two legs over the next five days (Saturday, November 14th and Wednesday, November 18th) and the four winners go to South Africa. Second prize is watching World Cup 2010 on television.” (World Cup Blog)


Performance related pay in Brazil

November 14, 2009

“This year’s thrilling run-in to Brazil’s national championship has been punctuated by traditional gripes at referees like Carlos Eugenio Simon. He has officiated at a World Cup but has been asked to sit out the rest of the championship after making a major error last Sunday in disallowing an apparently legitimate goal for title contenders Palmeiras during their 1-0 defeat at Fluminense. Simon is threatening legal action against Palmeiras president Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo who described the FIFA referee as “a conman who is in someone’s pocket”. In recent weeks, however, another complaint has emerged to accompany the endless quibbles over refs” (WSC)


2010 World Cup finals draw

November 14, 2009

ESPN – Nov 14
ESPN – Nov 18


No love lost between Egypt and Algeria

November 13, 2009

Afghan anti-riot police secure a protest in front of the parliament building in Kabul October 25, 2009_
“The bid to represent Africa at the continent’s first World Cup finals reaches its climax this weekend, with six teams harbouring hopes of taking the last three available places. Yet threats of violence in the Egyptian capital Cairo are overshadowing Africa’s final round of qualifiers as the Pharaohs host Algeria in an explosive encounter on Saturday. The bitter North African rivals are fighting for Group C’s World Cup ticket – while Group A’s will be decided by Cameroon or Gabon, and Group B’s by Tunisia or Nigeria.” (ESPN)


World Cup Playoff: France-Ireland Preview

November 13, 2009

“This playoff matchup of World Cup finalist and one of Europe’s feisty minnows promises high tension, few goals, but an intriguing contest. It’s about the managers, mostly. With failure, one is on the brink of being the laughingstock of Europe, known for being charge of a team of talents he has led to disaster. The other is a winner no matter what happens.” (NYT)

Gourcuff and Benzema fear play-off date with Ireland
“France stars Yoann Gourcuff and Karim Benzema give off the impression that they have been pinned back on the ropes for a little too long as they prepare for Saturday’s World Cup play-off against the Republic of Ireland.” (ESPN)


Brazil, Campeonato Série A: attendance map for 2009 season, up to 12th November (17-18 home matches per club).

November 13, 2009

“From Pitaco do Gringo’s Brazilian football blog, ‘São Paulo are the new leaders in the Brasileiro’, from 8 November, by Jon Cotteril {click here}. Campeonato Série A table {click here (SoccerStats.com)}. Although Palmeiras regained the lead Wednesday night, with a come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Sport Club do Recife, São Paulo FC look well positioned to grab their fourth consecutive Brazilian title. There are 4 four rounds to go, and all of São Paulo’s matches are against clubs lower than 9th place.” (billsportsmaps)


Borges Comments on the USMNT, Etc.

November 13, 2009

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Jorge Luis Borges
“The USMNT has qualified for the World Cup, yet questions remain. Under the reign of Bob Bradley, the US has registered important and impressive away victories in both rounds of qualifying, and also made the finals of three tournaments. But two finalist appearances mask disappointing returns – a 5-0 drubbing on homesoil and a 3 goal second half collapse.” (futfanatico)


Zinedine Zidane

November 13, 2009

“There is a debate raging over at Football365 who is the best player of the Noughties? The answer is Zidane obviously. Henry and (Fat Ronaldo) 2nd and 3rd. Zidane still has it. He, like Cruijff, had a move named after him (The Zidane Roulette). (Left Back In the Changing Room)


Pregame Tidbits: Slovakia vs. U.S.

November 13, 2009

“One of the best things about an obsession with international soccer is the window it opens to the world. After all, how many Americans even knew where Slovakia was located before the announcement of the friendly match against the United States, which will be played in Bratislava on Saturday (10 a.m., Eastern, live on Fox Soccer Channel)?” (NYT)


Squad Numbers – Are They Important?

November 12, 2009

squad-numbers-RodMonkey-Just-Football
“Ever since I became an addict of football management simulations on the computer I have always taken great pleasure in assigning the appropriate numbers to the players of my inherited team. This unhealthy obsession has unsurprisingly transferred itself over to real life. I find myself getting worked up when a defender is given a number that should be allocated to a forward player or when a player is given a squad number in the high eighties when there are only twenty or so professionals on the wage bill. Perhaps the real reason I am devoting this column space to such a subject is to try and find out if I am alone in the football supporting world or not.” (Just Football)


Football Weekly Extra: World Cup play-offs preview

November 12, 2009

“James Richardson is joined by Sean Ingle, Rob Smyth and Paul Doyle. On the pod this week: • The team are joined on the phone by Raphael Honigstein to reflect on the death of Robert Enke. • A full World Cup play-off preview. • Brian Oliver drops by to discuss the African World Cup qualifiers and reminisce about the infamous Egypt v Algeria game from 1989. • And Sid Lowe is on the line to preview Spain’s friendly against Argentina.” (Guardian)


The truth behind Benitez

November 12, 2009

“He has won the Champions League, but only one of his last nine fixtures. He still appears adored by many on the Kop, but is derided by still more on messageboards and phone-ins. He is one of the most divisive figures in football. But how many of the criticisms commonly levelled at Rafa Benitez stand up to analysis?” (ESPN)


Why are there so few black football managers?

November 12, 2009

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John Barnes
“An interesting piece here from Matt Slater. Sadly, this isn’t a new piece. In 2004, the BBC wrote a similar piece. The piece said then that one in four football professionals was black yet there were only three black managers. Since the breakthrough players of Viv Anderson, Cyrille Regis, Lawrie Cunningham and so on there have been a number of generations of black players come through the ranks.” (Left Back In the Changing Room)

What we can learn from Rooney, Dan Rooney
“Perhaps the worst row I’ve had in my scribbling career came when a press officer at a Premier League club accused me of racism. We had written a story about whatever issue everybody was talking about that week and buried the launch of an anti-racism rap that had been recorded by a couple of the team’s players. To give that story secondary importance was racist, the PR man claimed. I disagreed and tempers flared.” (BBC)

Super San Siro primed and ready for All Blacks
“San Siro. Or, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, if you prefer. As it looms into view along Via Patroclo, it makes famed rugby grounds like Ellis Park or Millennium Stadium look more like the local town domain. Eleven concrete towers, all 50m high, loom above the third tier of seating to prop up the distinctive roof of red girders which ominously cuts the skyline.” (NZHerald)


England’s World Cup Qualifiers

November 12, 2009

“It often ends in tears and it’s never, ever, easy. Yes, we’re talking about England’s World Cup qualifying campaigns, and we kick off the list with our efforts to get to Spain in 1982…” (midfielddynamo)


Memories Of Football Ground Spotting In The UK

November 12, 2009

“After viewing photographs in The Guardian last week about the greatest number of league grounds that can be seen on a single train trip in Great Britain, the feature got me thinking about my life growing up in Wales.” (EPL Talk)


France are favoured to win their World Cup play-offs

November 11, 2009

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“France justifiably head into their World Cup qualification play-off against the Republic Of Ireland as favourites, especially given that the second of the two legs takes place in Paris at the Stade de France. But if any supporters of ‘Les Bleus’ who believe that qualification against Giovanni Trapattoni’s side is a foregone conclusion are surely mistaken. And they clearly haven’t paid enough attention to the Republic’s qualifying campaign so far.” (WorldSoccer)


FC Barcelona beats Cultural Leonesa 5-0 (7-0 on aggregate) – Recap and Video Highlights

November 11, 2009

“FC Barcelona hosted Cultural Leonesa on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 in the second leg of the round of 32 of the Spanish Copa del Rey. Barcelona had a 2-0 lead after the first leg and are the overwhelming favorites to advance. Here’s a recap of the match along with video highlights.” (The 90th Minute)


Cutting Edge lost. If found, please return to Mr G Strachan…

November 11, 2009

“Apologies for not updating since before the Crystal Palace defeat. Those of you who regularly peer into the bowels of this blog will understand why. As the news of our loss filtered through, following various desperate attempts to find some way to listen to the match without having to subscribe to the decidedly hit and miss service offered by Boro World (like our forwards, it’s frequently unavailable when you really need it), I was at a genuine loss to find anything new to say. I mean, you’ve heard all this stuff before, haven’t you? We lack cutting edge in attack and we struggle to dominate midfield and possession.” (Smog Blog)


Robert Enke and Depression in Professional Sportsmen

November 11, 2009

enke_elfmeter_468x345“This week the football world was shocked by the suicide of Hannover 96 goalkeeper Robert Enke. Seemingly at the top of his career Enke was firmly established as the first choice stopper at one of Germany’s most respected clubs, and looked the favorite to be his country’s number one heading into the World Cup next summer in South Africa. That was before depression claimed his life after just thirty-two years.” (Pitch Invasion)


A Portrait of the Arsenalist as a Young Man

November 11, 2009

“I went down to see young Robin’s art class today. Had to get away from ‘er indoors; she was having another one of her happenings: feminist reclamation of craft, and all that gubbins. Anyway I get down to see Robin and let me tell you, he doesn’t take after his old man! He was really floundering out there, I mean, it’s hard for me to admit this but the boy just isn’t cut out for a life in art.” (The Run of Play)


32 For 2010: Chile

November 11, 2009

“The FIFA World Cup 2010 welcomes Chile to South Africa after they qualified in an impressive second place. This will be the first time they have qualified for the finals since 1998 (they were banned from qualifying for 1990 and 1994 after their ‘keeper feigned injury during a qualification match against Brazil). While they have made seven appearances at the World Cup (including the first in 1930) the Chileans have never fared too well. Their best performance was as hosts in 1962 when they made it as far as the semi finals only to be knocked out by the eventual winners Brazil.” (spaotp)


Taxing times in Spain

November 11, 2009

“In recent years, generous tax breaks have been a key factor in encouraging players to move to Spain. But that may be about to change. In 2004, the Spanish government passed a law to lower the tax bracket for high-level ‘foreign executives’ working in the country in an attempt to attract multinational corporations. This law was specifically applicable to non-Spanish residents earning an annual salary of €600,000 (£537,000) or more and therefore included footballers.” (WSC)


The Count: ESPN’s New Soccer Rankings

November 11, 2009

“Nate Silver, the baseball analyst-turned-political analyst, has now turned his numerical acumen to soccer, producing a ranking of national teams for ESPN.com. The Soccer Power Index, which is meant to be used to predict match outcomes and will be put to the test at the next World Cup, differs markedly from its competition. Rankings by FIFA, the world soccer governing body, have England seventh in the world, Chile 17th and Uruguay 25th. Silver ranks them at third, eighth, and 10th, respectively. Meanwhile, Italy drops from fourth to 12th in his system, and Croatia from eighth to 19th.” (WSJ)


Liverpool 2 – 2 Birmingham

November 10, 2009

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Ingres, Vergil Reciting from the Aeneid, 1812
“Steven Gerrard’s hotly-disputed second-half penalty rescued a point for Liverpool but did little to lift the pressure on boss Rafael Benitez. It is just one win now in nine matches for the Reds and they must be grateful for the two-week international break which will allow the dust to settle on their faltering season. It had started so well for the hosts with youngster David Ngog firing them into an early lead. But Ecuadorian Christian Benitez’s nodded equaliser and Cameron Jerome’s thunderous 30-yarder had Birmingham ahead at the break.” (ESPN)

Injury problems mount for troubled boss Benitez
“Rafael Benitez will be a relieved man that the international break has finally arrived, hopeful that some of his injured players will return to fitness ahead of a crucial clash against Manchester City at Anfield on November 21.” (ESPN)

Liverpool ride their luck but remain stuck in the mire
“There is no obvious route out of the mire for Liverpool and Rafael Benítez. Even the latest rescue act involving Steven Gerrard was tinged with regret and no shortage of controversy. The Liverpool captain answered his manager’s call and his club’s prayers to return from the groin problem that had sidelined him for the previous four matches and donned his familiar talisman cloak within 25 minutes of his return.” (Guardian)

David Ngog’s ’embarrassing case of cheating’ gets Liverpool a draw
“The Liverpool striker David Ngog was accused of indulging in ‘an embarrassing case of cheating’ last night as a controversial penalty salvaged a draw against Birmingham City but left Rafael Benítez’s team seventh in the Premier League and 11 points behind leaders, Chelsea.” (Guardian)

Benitez calls for ‘realism’ at Liverpool
“Rafael Benitez has for the first time played down Liverpool’s title dreams and asked for “realism” as the club fight to end a run of disastrous results. Liverpool are 11 points behind leaders Chelsea following last night’s 2-2 home draw with Birmingham.” (Independent)

Liverpool striker David Ngog cheated to win penalty, says Birmingham’s Lee Carsley
“Even his manager, Rafael Benitez, admitted referee Peter Walton was “maybe” wrong to award the hosts a spot-kick, which Steven Gerrard converted to cancel out goals from Christian Benitez and Cameron Jerome, while his counterpart, Alex McLeish, and Carsley were left seething by Ngog’s deception.” (Telegraph)


New Mexico/BYU’s Bitchslap

November 10, 2009

“ESPN ran a story about a recent match between BYU and New Mexico’s women’s teams which has become infamous for the elbows-to-the-ribs and ponytail-yank antics of New Mexico player Elizabeth Lambert. Fans of the sport are groaning, because this is what it takes to get a non-Olympics/World Cup/WPS Final into headlines – replays of bitchslap.” (From a left wing)

Is this the world’s dirtiest female footballer?
“The hair-pulling defender has become an internet sensation after being seen hitting, kicking and, in one instance, pulling an opponent down by her hair during a game against Brigham Young University. When questioned about Lambert’s actions, team coach Kit Vela said: ‘Her actions clearly crossed the line of fair play and good sportsmanship’.” (Telegraph)

ESPN does an ACTUAL story about the New Mexico/BYU match
“Watch this interview with a local reporter (Jared Lloyd/Desert News) who covered this match. He points out that the “refs allowed” for a “physical game” – and offers a well informed perspective on the tone of the game (explaining New Mexico’s use of a physical style of play to break up BYU’s movement up and down the field).” (From a left wing)


Portugal: 2009-2010 Liga season: Map, with 2008-09 attendances.

November 10, 2009

“Reigning champions are FC Porto, who have now won four straight Portuguese titles. Porto have won 24 Portuguese championships overall, second only to the 31 titles won by Benfica. This season, Sporting Braga are the surprise club so far, though the northern club just lost ground Monday to Portuguese giants Benfica, who beat Naval 1 May 1-0, to go even on points with Braga. Braga had defeated Benfica 2-0 on 31st October, so they remain in first, because tie-breakers in Portugal are head-to-head results, not goal difference (like in Spain’s La Liga)….” (billsportsmaps)


Football revolution?

November 9, 2009

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“One of the men in charge of European football when the Berlin Wall came down has told World Football the international game suffered as a result. Gerhard Aigner – a German himself – was General Secretary of UEFA on 9 November 1989. He was speaking on World Football’s special programme on Football and the fall of the Berlin Wall.” (BBC)


Is This the Future of Football? Part Two

November 9, 2009

“Today we present the second in a multipart series of articles focused on some of the financial problems facing football leagues across the world- especially those in smaller countries. By the end of the series it will become clear that many of these financial problems are the result of a century and a half old organizational model that simply cannot cope with the realities of the modern football and the modern financial world. Having highlighted the ways in which this model has increasingly come up short when faced with the unique problems presented by the sporting and financial landscape of the twenty-first century, we will offer a number of possible solutions which will help to ensure the future stability of the game, both on and off the pitch. As always, we here at Avoiding the Drop look forward to your comments, questions, and criticisms.” (Avoiding the Drop)


Video Of The Week: The Big Match – April 1979

November 9, 2009

“This week’s Video Of The Week takes us back to the race for the Second Division title from the 1978/79 season and features three matches from an episode of London Weekend Television’s ‘The Big Match’, presented as ever by Brian Moore. The first match is between from Selhurst Park and is between Crystal Palace and Notts County, the second match is from The Goldstone Ground and is between Brighton & Hove Albion and Blackburn Rovers (about whom Moore says, ‘they’ve already been relegated to the Third Division, so at least they’ll be relaxed) and the final match is from Roker Park, and is between Sunderland and Cardiff City’.” (twohundredpercent)


Football’s obligations on Remembrance Sunday

November 9, 2009

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“It is not difficult to find fault with some of the decisions made in the boardrooms of Manchester United and Liverpool. But the haranguing the clubs have faced for not joining the rest of the Premier League in displaying poppies on their shirts for the weekend fixtures is more disingenuous than the supposed offence. The Daily Mail’s Charles Sale has been applying “poppy pressure” on Premier League clubs this week after only 12 of the division’s 20 clubs announced plans to attach a poppy onto their kits.” (WSC)


The spectre of match-fixing haunts the game

November 9, 2009

“The integrity of football is under severe threat. What other conclusion can be drawn from news revealed by UEFA that it is investigating 40 separate cases of suspected match fixing in the Champions League and the UEFA Cup, its two elite competitions?” (WorldSoccer – Jim Holden)


Brazil’s new breed of guard dog

November 9, 2009

“Brazil coach Dunga is fiercely loyal to his group of players – which is hardly surprising. When he was appointed after the last World Cup, this novice coach was widely seen as a short-term solution, a poor man’s Luiz Felipe Scolari keeping the seat warm while the real thing was unavailable. Instead of which, Dunga and his band of men have, bar last year’s Olympics, won everything in their path – they have claimed the Copa America, Confederations Cup and finished top of South America’s World Cup qualification table.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)