On Losing

July 20, 2010

Paolo Uccello, The Battle of San Romano
“Now that the World Cup is over and the Spaniards and everyone else who admired their elegant way of playing soccer is happy, and the few nations whose teams either exceeded expectations or did okay in the month-long tournament have returned to their normal lives, the fans in underachieving countries are still fuming, many of them destined to recall for the rest of their days how their side either disgraced themselves, or were the victims of gross injustice. For those of them that have been following their national team for years, they’ve most likely already suffered more than any holy martyr in the history of the church, and yet it’s doubtful that even one of them will go to heaven, because they cursed and swore till they were blue in the face each time their team lost.” (NYR – Charles Simic)


Learning curves

July 20, 2010

“Giancarlo Rinaldi on how the big four in Serie A – Inter, Milan, Juventus and Roma – are preparing for the new campaign. Every pre-season is always packed with clubs getting used to new Coaches, players and tactics. Between friendly matches and training sessions there is an awful lot to be taken on board. This year, perhaps more than any other, the whole of Serie A seems to be on a crash course just to be ready for when the real hostilities begin.” (Football Italia)

New FIFA Rankings

July 20, 2010

“No surprise — Spain is the new No. 1 in the world rankings released by FIFA only days after the completion of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Brazil, ousted in South Africa by the Netherlands, was replaced by the Dutch as the No. 2 team in the world. The rest of the top five: Brazil, Germany and Argentina.” (NYT)

Top ten managers of the World Cup

July 20, 2010

Milovan Rajevac
“Sometimes in-depth tactical analysis can overcomplicate the fairly basic job of a manager – to get the best out of his players. Here are the ten managers who did that well at this World Cup.” (Zonal Marking)

US World Cup Cycle Report Cards: Goalies Edition

July 20, 2010

“This is the first of a four-part Series of Report Cards for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s Four Year World Cup Cycle, 2007-2010. While we are not issuing grades for all 92 players capped by Bob Bradley during the cycle, we will feature players not on the World Cup roster who either figured prominently in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup. We will issue grades of A-F, rather than player-rankings style grades of 1-10. We’ll also account for players who will surely be on the USMNT radar as they prepare to find 23 good men to travel to Brazil. We begin with goalkeepers.” (Yanks are coming)

Trying To Unwrap The Joe Cole

July 20, 2010

Joe Cole
“At first glance, the signing of Joe Cole by Liverpool might seem like madness. Cole will be twenty-nine years old later on this year and has had a wretched time of it with injuries over the last year or so. He remains a player whose best position remains something of a mystery after ten years of professional football. His four year contract will be worth almost £19m, and his physical condition is, if anything, more likely to slip further rather than improve as he turns thirty. This could turn out to be wrong, but in terms of signing footballers, as in the buying and selling of all other commodities, it’s a matter of balancing probabilities.” (twohundredpercent)

Jamie Redknapp: Joe Cole was right to choose Liverpool over Tottenham and Arsenal
“Joe Cole has made the right decision. Going to Anfield to play for Liverpool is the right move.
I know my dad, Harry, tried to take him to Tottenham and I can see why. He’s a clever footballer, who unlocks defences and who still has so much to offer, an old fashioned dribbler.” (Daily Mail)

For Hodgson, success won’t come easy in his step up to Liverpool
“Roy Hodgson arrived at Fulham in 2007 without much fanfare. He was regarded, probably largely because of an unhappy spell at Blackburn Rovers, as a moderate manager who’d had reasonable success abroad with a string of mid-ranked countries — Finland, Switzerland, Sweden — but who couldn’t really cut it at the highest level. His two years of rebuilding work at Internazionale in the 1990s, in which the Italian club finished seventh and third and reached the final of the UEFA Cup, was broadly ignored.” (SI)

The W-W formation: the future?!

July 20, 2010

“It is hard to envisage how formations will evolve in response to the current formational hegemony 4-2-3-1. It is an adaptable format which matches up well against other approaches. Two defensive midfielders provide a shield for the back four, which allows the full-backs to advance. The attacking midfielder has the freedom in behind the centre-forward to influence forward play without being mired in the opposition’s central defence – and they also prevent the team from being outnumbered in midfield.” (World Cup College)