Valencia & the Spanish Art of War: the Ambush

“Not all Spanish tribes suffocate their prey like the constricting Catalans. A fierce and respected tribe to the South, Valencia, sits back and springs traps. The Valencians are led by the shifty spy Villa who lives in the enemy’s shadows, and they are a force to be reckoned with… The ambush, like the entrapment of Barcelona, seeks to defeat prey while conserving energy. The ambush requires extensive planning, organization, and coordination. To successfully capture their prey, each and every part must move with precision and in sync. And, of course, the predator must deceive the prey.” (futfanatico)


Ultras in Britain are wrongly persecuted

“For many, the word “ultra” conjures up images of violence on the terraces or on the streets around the stadiums in countries such as Italy or Greece and in some parts of South America. Incessant chanting, mass crowd participation, choreographed displays and fireworks are all integral parts of the ultra culture throughout the world. But ultras and hooligans are different things and eventually the authorities here will come to realise that. The first group to endorse the phenomenon in the UK were Aberdeen fans, the Red Ultras. Formed over a decade ago, the group announced recently that they would be disbanding with immediate effect.” (WSC)

Teams of the Decade #2: Barcelona, 2008/09

“What more can you say about this Barcelona side? European champions, La Liga champions and Copa Del Rey winners, all in the first season under the charge of Pep Guardiola. And they didn’t do it by merely winning games, they did it by winning in style, making them perhaps the most universally respected side of the decade. The most astonishing thing about their La Liga performance was how utterly convincing they were in defeating the sides around them at the top of the table.” (Zonal Marking)

How Pep Guardiola is looking to improve on perfection
“Just how does Pep Guardiola improve on the most successful club side in a calendar year? We detail the tactical changes the Barcelona coach has made to his side to make them even better. After Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Estudiantes in the Club World Cup in which the Catalan side recorded a never before paralleled, six cup wins in a calendar year, manager Pep Guardiola turned to his assistant Tito Vilanova, with bleary eyed with tears of joy, seemingly asking ‘where do we go from here?’ Just how does Pep Guardiola possibly improve upon perfection?” (Arsenal Column)

Tactics: Wigan’s Martínez learns Premier League pragmatism

“When Roberto Martínez arrived at Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2009, he made it clear from the outset that he wanted to do things his way. ‘We’ve introduced a completely different style of play to the team,’ he said in August. ‘We’re allowing the players to think more about their own decisions during the game’.” (Football Further)

For Liverpool, the Great Unraveling Must Now Begin

“Somewhere deep in the bowels of Anfield there is a timer ticking down. That timer shows about 100 days on it now, and tomorrow it will show about 99, and sometime this July the timer will hit zero. At that point, a bell will ring and Liverpool Football Club will have to begin a massive process of undoing the horrendous financial mistakes of the Rafa Benitez era. Sometime this July a $100 million loan payment will come due, and with no Champions League money coming in for the 2010/11 season, no cache of funds sitting in the bank and no prospect of future earnings to be found, Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will have to start selling their big names.” (EPL Talk)

Tony Mowbray was foolish to think he could rebuild Celtic at leisure

Tony Mowbray
“In Scottish football parlance, Wednesday night in Paisley marked Tony Mowbray’s George Burley moment. As Steven Thomson slammed home a fourth St Mirren goal against Mowbray’s Celtic, the manager’s job finally became untenable. Just, indeed, as did that of Burley as Scotland fell to a shambolic friendly 3-0 defeat in Wales last November.” (Guardian)

Stop this illicit trade in bullshit stories

“David Beckham might not be going to the World Cup in South Africa this year, but 40,000 hookers will be. That is literally what a headline on the NBC sports website claims: ‘40,000 hookers making their way to South Africa for World Cup.’ Other media outlets have been a bit more PC: ‘40,000 prostitutes to enter South Africa’, says the UK Daily Telegraph; ‘40,000 prostitutes bound for South Africa’, says the New York Daily News. Apparently many of these hookers will be trafficked into South Africa against their will, forced into a life of grimy prostitution for the satisfaction of drunken football fans.” (Spiked), (Must Read Soccer)