Torres nets at the death

December 31, 2009


Andrea Mantegna, The Adoration of the Shepherds
“Fernando Torres scored an injury-time 50th Premier League goal for Liverpool to give his side a Champions League lifeline against Aston Villa. The Spaniard drilled a low shot across Villa keeper Brad Friedel in the 93rd minute to become the fastest player in Reds history to score a half century of league goals. It means Rafael Benitez’s side are only two points behind Villa and three adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham in the race for European places.” (ESPN)

Football transfer rumours: Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard to Man City?
“It’s that time of year again, when the Mill dresses up in its windproof cagoule and sturdiest front-zip chunky fleece boots and and heads off Up West with its fishing stool and its salvaged Ben10 play tent, plus a sense of new term excitement stuffed into its polyester bumbag alongside the Pork Farms savoury breakfast slice. Taking up its spot on the pavement outside Big Transfer Talk Stores the Mill will spend the night twitching and shivering and occasionally awaking from fevered dreams of snatching the last Jason Roberts from the shelves after a wheezing 30-yard sprint and a series of eye-gouging hand-offs, or snatching a knockdown Honduran under-21 international left-winger from the claws of Steve Bruce in a sweaty, rabbit-punching clinch in the Central-American-reduced-to-clear aisle.” (Guardian –
Barney Ronay
)

Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano catch the eye as Italian giants line up raid on Liverpool
“Italian vultures are ready to swoop on Merseyside as Liverpool struggle to maintain their Big Four status. The Reds face a fight to hold on to star players Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano if they fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League. AC Milan are keen to make Torres their next star signing after failing to replace Kaka, Jose Mourinho dreams of having Steven Gerrard at Inter Milan and Juventus are ready to renew their interest in Javier Mascherano next summer.” (Daily Mail)

Liverpool Ends 2009 on a Positive
“Tuesday, Liverpool met Aston Villa at Villa Park, where the Reds won 1-0. The match winning goal came in the third minute of stoppage time of the second half, when a defensive error gave the ball away to Fernando Torres. The game was as messy as the snowy weather, with both sides giving away the ball easily. Liverpool dominated possession except for a short spell in the second half.” (Bleacher Report)


World Cup Moments: Zaire’s Ilunga Mwepu Deals With a Brazilian Free Kick in 1974

December 31, 2009

“You might not know the name Ilunga Mwepu. But you’ve probably seen him in action. Mwepu is the famous Zaire right back who cleared a Brazilian free kick in a 1974 World Cup group game by lashing it up the field. Before the Brazilians had chance to take it. Obviously you can’t do that. So obviously Mwepu was booked (much to his surprise, apparently). In some ways you have to credit Mwepu for his quick thinking. In other ways you have to despair at his lack of football knowledge.” (World Cup Blog)


Eastern clubs are still the poor relations in Germany

December 31, 2009


Dynamo Berlin – Vorwärts Berlin 1-1
“Twenty years after the Berlin Wall crumbled and heralded German reunification, most football clubs from the former DDR have the look of flowers in the desert. Energie Cottbus’ play-off defeat by Nurnberg in May removed the last trace of eastern representation in the Bundesliga and all the ex-Oberliga giants – Dynamo Dresden, Carl Zeiss Jena, 1.FC Magdeburg, Lokomotiv Leipzig, et al – now live a hand-to-mouth existence in the third, fourth and fifth tiers of the domestic system.” (World Soccer – Nick Bidwell)


Time for a winter break in the Bundesliga

December 31, 2009

“Fears that the Bundesliga would struggle this year to match last season’s nail-biting conclusion already seem misplaced. At the winter break only five points separate the top five clubs – and the top two are old hands at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The unofficial ‘autumn champions’ are Bayer Leverkusen, who were cruelly rechristened ‘Never-kusen’ after four second-place finishes between 1997 and 2002.” (WSC)


Decade In Review: The Top 15 Liverpool Matches of the Noughties

December 31, 2009

“Just seven days remain of this decade, and it has been another historic one for Liverpool. It feels just like yesterday that we were heralding the new millenium. This was to be the decade that Gerard Houllier led Liverpool to the Premier League title, and made them challenge on all fronts. He came close, guiding the club to second place and six trophies before he left in May 2004. Rafael Benitez took over the Frenchman’s mantle and has since made the club a force to be reckoned with once again. These two Liverpool managers of the noughties have treated us to some legends of the club (the likes of Fowler, Gerrard, Owen, and Carragher), some unforgettable moments, and some thrilling matches.” (Bleacher Report)


Abramovich’s Pitch: Frugality

December 31, 2009

“Michel Platini has found an unlikely ally in his plan for financial reform of European club football: free-spending Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Mr. Platini, president of UEFA, European football’s governing body, has introduced a new set of rules aimed at curbing the expenditure of Europe’s top clubs by barring teams from spending more than their revenues. The rules, called ‘financial fair play,’ will come into force in 2012 and would ban teams from the Champions League unless they break even on football-related business. This is to prevent clubs running up huge debts in the pursuit of success.” (WSJ)


Quotes of the decade

December 30, 2009


A Constellation Chart of Ingenious Design
“The last decade saw the final years of Brian Clough and George Best, the emergence of Jose Mourinho and the return of Diego Maradona. That quartet, along with the likes of Jens Lehmann, Sepp Blatter and, of course, Roy Keane, ensured the noughties enjoyed an array of memorable quotes throughout the years. Here is a selection of some of the most memorable, most shocking and most amusing.” (ESPN)


A Personal Look Back at 2009’s Top XI Soccer Memories

December 30, 2009

“In another effort to churn out a weekly column using a tired, formulaic method, I present for your consideration XI personal highlights from my year in soccer…” (Pitch Invasion)


Football Weekly: Is this the craziest Premier League season yet?

December 30, 2009

“It’s the final Football Weekly of the year – indeed the decade – so we’ve rolled out the big guns for our end of the noughties extravaganza. James Richardson is joined by Barry Glendenning, Raphael Honigstein, and Fernando Duarte to take stock of the Premier League at the halfway point of the season. Can Chelsea keep setting the pace? Have Arsenal got what it takes to go the distance? Will Liverpool finally get their act together? And are Birmingham City or Fulham going to nudge past Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur into the Champions League spots?” (Guardian – James Richardson)


Roy Keane Reflects on Fernando Torres, Etc…

December 30, 2009

“Very few people realize that in addition to walking his dogs, managing lower tier English teams, and glaring at reporters, Roy Keane follows the Premiership avidly and is a keen reader of classic literature. Recently, he was impressed by a robust and tenacious Fernando Torres and shared a few thoughts with us on ‘el nino’ and a few others…” (futfanatico)


January Transfers May Save Players’ World Cup Ambitions

December 30, 2009


Fernando Torres
“Speculation about which players would move where and for how much in the January transfer period began back on Sept. 1, the day after the last window closed. A midseason transfer or loan can considerably boost a team’s second-half fortunes, or help alleviate the burden on players struggling to balance a championship run with cup competitions and the UEFA Champions League campaign.” (NYT)


VIDEO Preview: Liverpool v Arsenal – Hat-trick heroes

December 30, 2009

“No other fixture in Premier League history has produced more hat-tricks than Liverpool v Arsenal, and in continuing our build-up to Sunday’s clash at Anfield, ExtraFootie looks back at five classic trebles. Just to note that Liverpool were last season’s top scorers in the top-flight with 77 goals, whilst the Gunners were joint second alongside Chelsea and champions Manchester United on 68.” (Extra Footie)


Top 15 Podcast Episodes Of 2009

December 30, 2009

“During 2009, EPL Talk made some big changes in the podcast department by moving the weekly show to a daily format, promoting Kartik Krishnaiyer to host and adding new guests and analysts such as Laurence McKenna and Alex Caulfield. In 2010, we have even bigger plans and some major celebrities lined up to be interviewed, but before we get too far ahead of ourselves, I want to share with you the top 15 most download EPL Talk Podcasts of 2009.” (EPL Talk)


Premier League “Team of the Noughties”

December 30, 2009

“Ever had a hospital pass? The one with the red cross marked on it that you know is going to end with a large amount of personal grief – if you are very lucky? This is mine. Namely the request to name the Premier League team of “The Noughties”. The job that will please no-one and will have plenty of you waving your fist in fury at the laptop. So apologies in advance. My only excuse for leaving out your own personal favourite or club legend is that I can only pick 11 players and there could have been so many more – and this might be the best substitutes’ bench in history.” Z(BBC – Phil McNulty)


World Cup Moments: Alcides Ghiggia Silences the Maracana in 1950

December 29, 2009


Alcides Ghiggia
“Before there was Pele, there was Alcides Ghiggia. Before there was Brazil, there was Uruguay. And before Brazil became champions, there was heartache. The heartache felt was in 1950, directly after the final. A final held on home soil, in Rio de Janiero, at the mecca known as the Maracana, and a final they lost despite being heavy favorites. They became the first team to lose a World Cup final on its home soil, Italy and Uruguay had won their home finals previously, and are only the second ever. (A blow so crushing they forced Sweden to feel their pain in 1958 under the same circumstances.)” (World Cup Blog)


Haifa’s domestic dominance useless in Europe

December 29, 2009

“Maccabi Haifa became the worst team ever in the group stages of the Champions League this season, losing all six games without scoring. Four days after their last group match, they faced Hapoel Petach Tikva in the Israeli Premier League. The club’s owner, Yaakov Shachar, gathered the players for a motivational chat beforehand and urged them to win. ‘Our future as a club depends on the consequences of this game,’ he said.” (WSC)


Free Kicks

December 29, 2009

“Jings, cribbens and help me boab. We can’t even go away for a couple of days without the proverbial hitting the fan. Our betting slip, the one that said Laszlo will be the first to walk (after a gentle push), has been thrown into the bin along with the other Xmas crappery we got. Gannon? Sacked? Like, whit?! And they where doing so well. Motherwell, to be precise (djing boom).” (Inside Left)


Argentina’s hooligans are being offered trips to the World Cup

December 29, 2009


River Plate Stadium
“When Diego Maradona took charge of Argentina’s national team last March, his training staff – lead by general manager Carlos Bilardo – enlisted a ‘gang’ to support the team, with promises that they would be taken to the World Cup in South Africa. This group consisted mainly of past and present Boca Juniors and Estudiantes de La Plata hooligans, most of who had lengthy police records.” (World Soccer)


Half a Season in the Championship

December 29, 2009

“With half a season or so now completed in the Championship, my fellow blogger Lloyd and I have taken the opportunity to assess events thus far, in the wake of a bracing walk along Plymouth Hoe. Here are the results…” (thetwounfortunates)


Mixed News On The Club Ownership Front

December 29, 2009

“The festive period may have come and gone, but the confusing world of the ownership of football clubs continues to rumble on. The recent break has seen developments involving two names that have graced these pages before, Morell Maison and John Batchelor. with mixed results. Maison came to our attention because of his time in charge at Southern League club Halesowen Town, but has now resurfaced at, of all places, Chester City, where he was announced as their new Director of Football on Boxing Day.” (twohundredpercent)


Pandev Freed From Box Over Lazio Contract

December 29, 2009

“Over the past two seasons, Lazio’s Macedonian striker Goran Pandev scored 34 goals in all competitions, yet has not played a single minute for the Roman club this season. The only times he has stepped on the pitch has been for his country, where he acquitted himself exceptionally well, scoring six times in six appearances (including two goals against mighty Spain). Mr. Pandev has not been injured, nor has he been suspended; rather he has been locked in an unusual dispute with his employer, one which highlights the peculiarities of soccer’s free-agency system and the way clubs are dealing with it.” (WSJ)


A South American team for the Noughties

December 28, 2009


Agustin Delgado
“Last week Phil Minshull picked his European team of the decade – so I was asked to do the same for South America. But what would be the criteria? Obviously in this globalised age the top South Americans play their club football on the other side of the Atlantic. But European football is not my beat, and I don’t watch enough of it to supply an authoritative opinion. So if anyone wants to suggest a South American side based on club form, then use the space below – and let a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)


Boxing Day 2009: “City!” Malcolm Allison’s Televised Downfall

December 28, 2009

“In 1981, Manchester City, a club in Salford whose big spending hadn’t brought results, allowed in the television cameras. Not entirely by coincidence, he chose the same period to sack championship-winning City coach Malcolm Allison in favour of John Bond, who’d take them to the FA Cup Final. Twenty years earlier, Bond had been a disciple of Allison’s, part of a group including Bobby Moore and Noel Cantwell who grew up in Big Mal’s exuberant shadow at West Ham. It’s all here. Compelling, saddening, and embarrassing all at once…” (More Than Mind Games)


The Month of Pear-Shaped

December 28, 2009

“What a month December has been in the Smog household. Christmas preparations have dominated, obviously, from the sheer difficulty of buying a decent tree once you reach the fifteenth of the month (I see no reason why we can’t buy an artificial, but noooooo) through to the traditional illnesses that we have all suffered since finishing work and school. Physically, I’m in the best shape of the Smog family, but spiritually I’m not doing too well. Boro’s form has seen to that.” (Smog-Blog)


9 January Transfer Window 2010 Players on the Move (including Spurs, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid etc)

December 28, 2009


Ruud Van Nistelrooy
“The January sales. No sooner is Christmas over and the presents unwrapped than people are off out shopping for bargains in the winter sales. The same applies to football. With the 2010 World Cup but a few months away, the upcoming January transfer window is the last available chance for players out of favour at their current clubs to secure a move and revive their dreams of a trip to South Africa.” (Just Football)


Ten Scottish (*) Football Books Worth Reading, In No Particular Order

December 28, 2009

“(*) ‘Scottish Football Books’ are defined under the ‘FIFA granny rule’ – even if they’re not Scottish but they mention Scotland, they qualify. (I ignore the fact that Fever Pitch would almost certainly choose to play for England if it had the choice.)” (First Touch Online)


Premier League Predictions: Champions and Contenders to Break the Top Four

December 28, 2009

“As we move towards the new year, five teams are fighting it out for third and fourth in the Premier League. Arsenal, Aston Villa, Spurs, Manchester City, and Liverpool are striving to lay claim to those coveted Champions League positions and only two will prevail. But who? The season has hit it’s halfway mark, and truth be told, the top three has a predictable ring about it. The only real surprise, position wise, has been Liverpool’s disastrous start to the season, which see’s them floundering in seventh, out of title contention, and with their manager under severe pressure to finish fourth.” (Bleacher Report)


Liverpool 2 – 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

December 27, 2009


Hans Memling
“Liverpool scrambled their way to a much-needed 2-0 win over Wolves as the pressure lifted from the club. But it was never going to be simple against an organised Wolves side, with the points only being secured after the Midlanders were reduced to ten men when defender Stephen Ward was sent-off. Even that was a bizarre decision, with referee Andre Marriner at first getting the wrong man, booking Christophe Berra before his error was pointed out by a pack of Liverpool players who made sure that Ward was punished for a second bookable offence.” (ESPN)

Steven Gerrard takes his chance but Liverpool look less than masterful
“Liverpool were insulted by having to face a full-strength Wolves team, but the deepest grievance at Anfield belonged to Mick McCarthy. His team were intensifying Rafael Benítez’s problems before an agitated home crowd when, after a touch of theatrics, a case of mistaken identity and various influences in the dug-out, they were fatally reduced to 10 men. ‘They needed a break and they got it,’ said McCarthy. Liverpool had been reprieved.” (Guardian)

Gerrard finds his form to feast on Wolves
“Liverpool had to wait until Wolves were down to 10 men before they could convert their dominance into a lead but it will take small steps like this to get their season back on track. The final score is all that matters but it should not mask just how hard Liverpool found it to break down their opponents, who were reduced to 10 men just after the restart when Stephen Ward was eventually given a second caution. Referee Andre Marriner originally wrongly showed Christophe Berra a yellow card.” (Independent)

Liverpool 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0: match report
“When you have endured a start to the campaign like Liverpool’s, even this will do. Wins are wins, particularly if you have recorded just four in your previous 17 matches, but Rafael Benítez’s side had to wait until Wolverhampton Wanderers were reduced to 10 men for the goals to flow. Steven Gerrard’s performance was symptomatic of the team that he captains. Hardly back to his best, Gerrard struggled for the first hour before Stephen Ward was sent off, after referee Andre Marriner initially cautioned the wrong player, and the England midfielder scored his first goal since Nov 9, before Yossi Benayoun added a second.” (Telegraph)


Twitter Trends and the Football World: From 2009 to 2010

December 27, 2009

“The English football season started off with Steve Bruce wondering what the hell Twitter was when a media storm broke following Darren Bent’s expression of frustration on his then-stalled move to Sunderland from Spurs in the summer. ‘Someone says Darren has been Twittering,’ Bruce told the Sunderland Echo. ‘I don’t even know what that is, but I have seen a few things in the papers about it.’” (Pitch Invasion)


A Tale of Two Strikers

December 27, 2009

“While most people will be keeping an eye on the QPR of the north, some of us are wondering whether two of the Championship’s in-form strikers can extend their spicy scoring streak over the next three days. Peter Whittingham, Michael Chopra and Matty Fryatt all started the season like it was their last and still figure at the head of the charts, but a quick look at results and scorers from recent weeks suggests that there’s some real competition for the Pichichi.” (thetwounfortunates)


Cheerful Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes has last laugh on critics

December 26, 2009


Heurelho Gomes
“Heading towards a potentially momentous 2010, Tottenham’s Brazil international certainly has plenty to smile about. Gomes is going to the World Cup in South Africa and is definitely going places with Harry Redknapp’s Spurs, who lie fifth in the Premier League table, even though they face a tricky Boxing Day trip to Fulham.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)


1938 World Cup, held in France

December 26, 2009

“A Austria, one of the great football powers of the era, was now no longer a country, swallowed up by the Anschluss. They qualified in October, but by April the FA ceased to exsist. So some of the Austrian squad was added to the Germans. Not Matthias Sindelar though, who now had to wear the Star of David on his clothing. B The first player that played on his birthday at the finals was Emile Veinante – on his 31st. C Coach Vittorio Pozzo was again the Italian manager, and the only one to win 2 World Cups back to back. He also sent his team out v France in an all black fascist kit. …” (midfielddynamo)


A Decade In The Premier League

December 26, 2009

“As we approach the end of a decade which has seen the popularity of world football and the Premier League increase ten-fold, we look back upon what an incredible past ten years it’s been with appreciation and maybe even a little bit of nostalgia. As I’m sure we’ll say again in ten years time, the Noughties have been an incredibly important decade for the growth of the world’s game in America. The potential remains endless.” (EPL Take)


U.S., England back at it

December 26, 2009


“The World Cup has not been kind to the Americans. They’ve never been past the semifinals – and that was 80 years ago – and they have losing records against Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy and Germany. But there was that one moment, long ago, when the U.S. team knocked off a major soccer power: mighty England. Next June, get set for the rematch.” (Boston Herald)


Pick of 2009

December 26, 2009

“In the uefa.com Magazine’s final edition of the year we look back over a memorable 12 months in European football and take our pick of some of the highlights from previous episodes.” (UEFA)


Video Of The Week: Brighton vs Liverpool – 1984

December 26, 2009

“This week’s ‘Video Of The Week’ is one that we have done goes back to the 1982/83 season for a complete episode of “The Big Match Live”. The previous season, Brighton had beaten Liverpool at Anfield on their way to an FA Cup final defeat at Wembley against Manchester United. The following season, they drew the English champions again, this time at The Goldstone Ground, although this time they were a Second Division team, having contrived to get themselves relegated at the same time as getting to the cup final.” (twohundredpercent)


A footballer’s Christmas

December 25, 2009


“It’s been another frustrating week for me leading into Christmas. I couldn’t train much last week because I had a slight hamstring strain and my family was sharing around a virus so I had to keep away from the training ground anyway. I’ve still got a bit of a sore throat but I’ve been itching to get out there on the training ground this week and get a full week’s work done in preparation for our big match on Boxing Day. On the whole I am feeling much better and I am raring to go again.” (BBC)


World Cup 2010 Update: South Africa’s Airports Prepare For World Cup Fan Influx

December 25, 2009

“In the run up to the World Cup in South Africa next year, hundreds of thousands of fans will be welcomed to the country in new and improved airports for a 30 day celebration of football. To make sure that South Africa can handle the influx, the country’s airports have been receiving a facelift ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and with only six months until kick-off, the last few touches are being applied.” (Goal)


Football Clubs of Greater London, 2009-10 season

December 25, 2009

“Once you click to get on to the main map page, the map of Greater London is viewable in full screen when you click near the center of the map…right on the rectangular Millwall crest. Besides showing the ceremonial counties which ring Greater London, I added surrounding towns. I did this with Google Earth, and then I checked town populations; sorry if I missed any significant towns. I added a few details in central London…Hyde Park, Regents Park, Parliament, and the boundaries of The City of London.” (billsportsmaps)


I’m an African

December 24, 2009


“The wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst Premier League bosses over the loss of players to the upcoming African Nations Cup in Angola is a sight to behold. Players were signed in full knowledge of their nationalities, and there have been the typical range of myopic comments about the competition’s timing fail to take into account the impact of rainy seasons and heightened temperatures in the summer months (although Angola, south of the Equator as it is, might be little steamy this January).” (thetwounfortunates)


Hints of a New Order in the World’s Favorite Sport

December 24, 2009

“The first decade of soccer in the new millennium was one of awakenings and departures, of arrivals and goodbyes, some moving and affecting, at least one moment stunning in its transgression. Until the 2002 World Cup, the co-host South Korea had never won a match in soccer’s world championship. Then it won its opening game, 2-0 over Poland, and eventually became the first Asian country to reach the semifinals. An insecure country became transformed and self-confident. You could see the collective chest swelling.” (NYT)


The Biggest Losers of 2009: Ranieri, Referees, Ireland and More!

December 24, 2009

“There are winners and there are losers in football and it’s time to weed out those who suffered in 2009. But losing is not a simple concept. Some are major contributors to their own downfall and deserve the brick bats that come their way, while others are victims of circumstances and probably deserve better…..and in our 2009 review we’ll look at both, some with sympathy, others without.” (Soccer Lens)


Remember When… (pt.III): Premier League Decade in Review

December 24, 2009


Javier Zanetti
“In Part 1 & Part 2 of our Remember When… retrospective look at the decade we dipped into the past ten years of international football to bring you some of the game’s most memorable moments on the world stage. Now for Part 3 we turn our attentions to domestic football, with our English Premier League decade in review…” (Just Football – Part III), Remember When… (part IV): starring Chelsea, Arsenal, Leeds, West Brom, Manchester United & The Special One – Premier League Decade in Review


Christmas Eve 2009: Tom Finney and Duncan Edwards

December 24, 2009

“In a better world, this could be described as the Host of Football Past handing over to the Host of Football Future. Finney and Edwards, together for England. But we don’t live in a better world, and this is what’s left. As you read this, I’m enjoying Wigilia in the Galloway Forest. A glass of krupnik with you, everyone, and I hope you like the clip.” (More Than Mind Games)


Craig Levein

December 24, 2009

“It is not a done deal that Craig Levein will be confirmed as Scotland manager but it looks as though it is almost certain. Now, we can all guffaw at Gordon Smith’s claim that some of the biggest names in world football were interested and, having reviewed the applications from Ferguson, Mourinho, Hiddink et al, they picked the bookies favourite. This is more than a little harsh.” (Left Back in the Changing Room)


Political Football

December 23, 2009


Riyas Komu, “Stadium I,” oil on canvas, 2007
“Iraq’s victory over Saudi Arabia in the 2007 Asia Cup final is likely to hold up as one the decade’s most significant wins. The team’s victory represented a complex distillation of resistance and anger. The torture and murder of Iraqi athletes is frequently cited in the litany of horrors suffered by the Iraqi people at the hands of Saddam Hussein (see this 2003 Sports Illustrated story). Responding to allegations of torture in the country’s soccer program, in 1997, FIFA investigated the architect of Iraq’s athletics program,” (art 21), (From A Left Wing)


Football Weekly: Mancini in at Manchester City

December 23, 2009

“James Richardson’s joined by Barry Glendenning, Paul Doyle, and Jonathan Wilson for the latest Football Weekly – and what a weekend it was in the Premier League. We start, of course, with the big sheik-up at Eastlands, where Manchester City have dumped Mark Hughes and replaced him with Roberto Mancini. Can the Italian get the Blues into the top four? Or should they have been looking a little closer to home – Roy Hodgson perhaps, after his Fulham side embarrassed Manchester United 3-0?” (Guardian – James Richardson)


The Scottish Football Christmas Alphabet

December 23, 2009

“It’s time again for Inside Left to take a wee break, so updates will be a little sporadic between now our return in January. But in keeping with tradition, we like to round off the year with our Christmas alphabet. A is for …” (Inside Left)


Dollars vs. Sense: A Sign of the Times…

December 23, 2009


“What did you want for Chrismas? A new Ipod? A new laptop? Well, the mid and lower table sides in the Premiership, nay, the world, really wanted something much simpler – a coherent enforcement mechanism to punish guilty parties. If Justice without Power is impotence, then power without justice is tyranny. And this Christmas, the Chelsea ‘appeal’ that overturned their transfer ban shows once again that justice for some is not the same justice for all.” (futfanatico)


Ian Rush: Reds must retain faith in Rafa Benitez

December 23, 2009

“These are dark days for Liverpool. A club so accustomed to success are out of the Champions League before Christmas, have just four wins in 17 games in all competitions and sit eight points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa. There is no doubt that this is the most crucial juncture of Rafael Benitez’s career at Anfield. Even amongst the staunchly loyal cabal that is ex-Liverpool players, cracks have appeared. Graeme Souness recently angered Benitez by voicing fears about a potential ‘meltdown’ while Ronnie Whelan delivered a very personal attack on the Spaniard, culminating in the declaration that ‘his days have got to be numbered’.” (ESPN)


From the Golden Ball to the Golden Bin

December 23, 2009

“Contrary to all the glamour and the media hype that surrounds the Ballon d’Or award for the European Footballer of the Year, you will have to search carefully through the sports pages to find out who captured the Bidone d’Oro award (‘The Golden Bin’) prize. The award is given to the worst player of the season in the Italian Serie A by Italian radio station Radio 2.” (ESPN)


Overrated England Sure to Disappoint in 2010

December 23, 2009

“As we head into the festive season, English fans are wrapping the present they give themselves before every World Cup – the gift of unbridled confidence in their national football team. And yet, as they have for the past 40+ years, those English fans are likely to stick their thumb in the Christmas pudding and pull out something far less enjoyable than the plum.” (EPL Take)


Brazil eyes change from bottom up

December 22, 2009


“The most exciting climax the Brazilian Championship has seen in years was marred by two incidents of crowd trouble. One was in the line to buy tickets for Flamengo’s crunch game against Grêmio earlier this month, where the police used tear gas, batons and rubber bullets to maintain order. The other came after Coritiba had been relegated to the second division, and some of its fans staged a full-scale riot on the pitch.” (SI – Tim Vickery)


Robert Enke’s death brought forth an outpouring of grief

December 22, 2009

“The tears of national team general manager Oliver Bierhoff; the 35,000 sorrow-stained faces at the memorial service; the numerous volumes of the book of condolence; and the sea of candles, flowers and shirts left at the gates of his home ground.” (World Soccer)


Defensive frailties…again

December 22, 2009

“This weekend has seen yet another example of the defensive frailties plaguing Celtic this year. Firstly, we go three nil down after a mere quarter of an hour in our Europa League game, and then the lack of communication between Gary Caldwell and Glenn Loovens saw us fall to yet another league defeat. Simply put, it isn’t good enough.” (The Great Footballing Circus)


Behind the buzz: who invented the vuvuzela?

December 22, 2009


“It will be the big noise at next year’s football World Cup. The vuvuzela, a metre-long plastic horn blown by South African football fans, is loved and hated in equal measure for emulating a herd of elephants or hive of angry bees. But while manufacturers are hoping to cash in on the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sell the instrument to hundreds of thousands of visiting supporters, the man who claims he invented the vuvuzela says he will receive nothing.” (Guardian)


Spanish Primera Division (La Liga) Mid-Season Recap: Barcelona and Real Madrid in a tight race

December 22, 2009

“The Spanish Primera Division or La Liga has its commonly known has reached its winter break with Real Madrid and Barcelona in a tight race at the top of the table. On the opposite end, newly promoted Xerez is last with 7 points and a lot of work to do.” (The 90th Minute)


Might The Fab Four Become The Super Seven?

December 22, 2009

As the Premier League reaches the half-way point in its season, Mark Siglioccolo takes a look into his crystal ball and wonders whether the days of Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea might be coming to an end. Sixteen games into the season and it is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested championships in recent history. What is even more exciting and nail-biting for the fans is that it does not look as if there will be a runaway leader, or possibly even a two-horse race for the title.” (twohundredpercent)


Christmas party season

December 22, 2009

In WSC 251 (January 2008) Jon Spurling braced himself for a festive football hangover. Along with communal baths, a crafty drag on a cigarette in the toilets, and swigging a bottle of brown ale with the lads, Christmas parties are entwined in the fabric of English football. ‘The players have talked of little else for weeks,’ confided Ian Rush – dressed in Beefeater garb for Liverpool’s bash – to a BBC reporter in 1992. ‘All the lads have made the effort to dress up,’ added Rushie, as Bruce ‘The Joker’ Grobbelaar and John ‘Dick Turpin’ Barnes staggered past clutching empty Grolsch bottles.” (WSC)


Remember When… A Decade of International Football in Retrospect (Part I)

December 21, 2009


“The end of a decade. It doesn’t really mean anything does it? Do people actually still bother to organise decades into smart, distinctive categories with catch-all phrases like the ‘swinging 60s’ anymore? If they do I’ve no idea how the noughties will be remembered; an abundance of technological advancements and some pretty major international crises, any got a witty adjective to capture the mood?” (Just Fooball – (Part I), (Just Football – (Part II)