Blackpool deserved more against a fortunate City

October 19, 2010

“This afternoon I had the pleasure of sitting down to watch a full Blackpool match for the first time this season: I did not think that it would an enjoyable experience, but it was. A thoroughly entertaining match, very open, packed full of chances and (controversial) incidents. Blackpool have exceeded the expectations of many this season; fully expected to be the whipping boys of the league, they currently sit in a commendable 10th position and have more than held their own over the course of the opening eight games.” (Football Express)


Possible Tactical Alternatives for Ireland

October 19, 2010

“With a chance to experiment in next month’s friendly against Norway, and the 2011 Nations Cup next year, there could be a few new faces in the Irish team. Here we look at some possible formations and starting lineups Ireland could field in next year’s Euro 2012 qualifiers, as well as our take on the future Republic of Ireland starting eleven, and even an outlandish go-for-broke set-piece tactic.” (Green Scene)


Luis Zubeldía — The Rising Star of Coaches

October 19, 2010

“Argentinian football coaches, it must be said, are a weird mob. Like artists or rock stars or politicians, it takes a certain type of person; a certain type of ego and a particular temperament, to be a successful coach, especially in Argentina. ‘Eccentric’ could be one word to describe the typical Primera Division coach. ‘Nutjob’ sounds better and is probably more accurate, even if Microsoft Word doesn’t acknowledge it as a real word.” (Argentina Football World)


For an Anniversary

October 18, 2010


Wayne Rooney
“It was five years ago today. Five years, a long time. A lot of water under the bridge since then. A lot of Johnnie under the old soft palate. Why, I’ll tell you, Ryan Giggs was a wee lad of 47, back then. Nani wasn’t even a gleam in Anderson’s eye. We’d all heard the rumours, of course. An 18-year-old boy with the instep of Kylie Minogue and the brow of a young Jack Nicholson. So much natural spark it was as if Mr Tommy Taylor had been crossed with Guy Fawkes. Apparently he’d played rather well for Everton over the past two seasons and had starred for England in Euro 2004. Now, like all true United fans, we were excited to see him for the first time.” (Run of Play)

Declining Rooney’s relationship with United in critical condition
“It’s not hard to pinpoint where it all started to go wrong. On March 30, Wayne Rooney put Manchester United ahead in the second minute of a Champions League quarterfinal match at Bayern Munich, a controlled, eminently accomplished finish from a Nani cross. It was exactly what everybody had come to expect from a player who had already scored 33 goals for his club that season and nine more for England.” (SI)


Can Ronaldo prove us wrong again?

October 18, 2010

“It is one of the ancient battles of sport, the struggle between talent and the ravages of time. And it’s being fought out as the Brazilian Championship reaches a thrilling finale. With eight rounds to go – and at least four clubs still in contention – one of the big questions is this: Can he really do it again? Is Ronaldo capable of staging yet another extraordinary comeback?” (BBC – Tim Vickery)


‘Crisis?’ Conclusion: Costly Times.

October 18, 2010

“In ‘Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era’, one of the forms of assessment we use to judge the performance of a manager and his team is ‘cost per point’. That way, if you have a relatively low budget, and you don’t get lots of points, it’s still possible that you did a good job. In other words, you are judged by your resources, and compared against others with similar resources. If you were to get relegated with a team that cost pennies, but still won 30 points, you did well.” (Tomkins Times)


Glasgow. Birthplace Of Argentine Football

October 18, 2010

“Messi, Tevez, Maradona, Kempes. They owe it all to Scotland. Had it not been for a Glaswegian spark, football would not have been graced by Argentina. Dan Brennan has a history lesson.” (In Bed with Maradona)


England Manager Flowchart

October 18, 2010


“This is brilliant. You can check out more laugh out loud football comics on the excellent Things Fall Apart by C. Anderson.” (Footysphere)


Good Day, Bad Day – Round 7

October 18, 2010

“The best and worst of the weekend’s Spanish football, in handy tapas-sized dishes…” (Four Four Two)


Sampdoria 2-1 Fiorentina: Mihajlovic’s woes continue as Fiorentina go bottom of the table

October 18, 2010

“Fiorentina were ahead for the majority of the game, but two Sampdoria goals within 60 seconds sealed a remarkable turnaround. Sampdoria started with more of a classic 4-4-2 from last season rather than the 4-3-1-2 they’ve often sported this campaign. Fernando Tissone started in the centre of midfield, whilst Franco Semioli and Stefano Guberti were on the wings.” (Zonal Marking)


Groningen 1 – 0 Heerenveen: ‘The Derby of the North’ springs to life in the second half

October 18, 2010

“The first half of this season’s first ‘Derby of the North’ was a tame affair, as reflected by the 0-0 half-time score. In the second half the game came to life, with Heerenveen passionately chasing the game after conceding the opening goal immediately after half-time.” (11 tegen 11)


Notes on Nigerian Football Scandals & the Amazing Falconets

October 18, 2010

“Today Naija Football 247 reposted a Sahara Reporters story about journalist Olukayode Thomas’s struggle with the Nigerial football/sporting executive Amos Adamu (FIFA and CAF executive board member). ‘How a David Defeated Goliath in a Nigerian Court’ is well worth reading, as is a more recent story on the same site about the place of that scandal in FIFA’s delay of the 2018 World Cup bid (‘Nigeria’s Amos Adamu Offers to Sell FIFA Hosting Rights for 500,000’).” (From A Left Wing)


Everton 2-0 Liverpool: scrappy Merseyside derby won by the side with more creativity

October 17, 2010


Franceso Guardi
“New owners, but a familiar poor performance for Liverpool, as Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta’s goals won the match. Everton started with a 4-4-1-1 formation – Johnny Heitinga in midfield alongside Arteta, with Seamus Coleman on the right and Leon Osman across on the left. Phil Jagielka was declared fit, and Yakubu started upfront.” (Zonal Marking)

Match of the Week: Everton 2-0 Liverpool
“For all of the talk of the modernisation of football, there remain some outposts of the game that are defiantly of another age. Everton’s Goodison Park is one of them, not that it hasn’t been for a want of trying to leave their home of almost 120 years in recent seasons. There is also something of the old school about the pre-match here as well.” (twohundredpercent)

Derby despair for struggling Liverpool
“Liverpool’s new owners were left with no doubt about the size of the task ahead as Everton emerged with a 2-0 victory from the 214th Merseyside derby. John Henry, head of New England Sports Ventures, was at Goodison Park to witness first-hand a fiery encounter which Everton dominated for long periods and deservedly won.” (ESPN)

Everton v Liverpool: Anfield club fired up after running Texans out of town
“Liverpool’s focus switches from Slaughter and May to slaughter and mayhem. It’s derby time. The match that showcases the Premier League at its visceral best, all high stakes and high tempo, probably a few high tackles as well.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

Liverpool takeover: Hollywood ending for John W Henry now requires trophies
“Now that English football has leapt into bed with American sports owners it is worth recalling the fit and proper person’s test in the classic film Diner. Elyse, the fiancée of Steve Guttenberg’s character Eddie, must prove her marital credentials by submitting to a quiz about his beloved Baltimore Colts. Elyse needs 65 points otherwise the dress goes back, the cake gets thrown to the ducks and two young lives are wrecked.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter

The Truth on Hicks & Benítez’s Spending
“Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by Tom Hicks blaming Rafa Benítez for the Reds losing money; after all, he’s after scapegoats, following his scandalously disruptive time as Liverpool’s owner. But people like Mark Lawrenson, Alan Hansen, Robbie Savage and Harry Redknapp should know better. (Okay, most of these aren’t intellectual titans, but even so.)(The Tomkins Times)

Everton 2-0 Liverpool – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL
(The 90th Minute)


Aston Villa 0-0 Chelsea: lack of finishing quality

October 17, 2010

“Chelsea dominated more as the game went on, but it was a game of missed chances. Aston Villa were without Emile Heskey, so started with John Carew upfront. Stephen Ireland came in just behind, so Ashley Young moved back to the left. Habib Beye made his first start of the season.” (Zonal Marking)


‘New Ronaldinho’ has trick up his sleeve for Arsenal

October 17, 2010

“The Brazilian enclave in Ukraine keeps getting bigger. When the naturalised Croatian Eduardo arrived from Arsenal in the summer, he became the seventh Brazil-born player at Shakhtar Donetsk. The policy of the coach, Mircea Lucescu, is simple: eastern Europeans at the back, Brazilians at the front. The effectiveness of the plan is hard to dispute: Shakhtar won the Uefa Cup in 2009 and stand five points clear at the top of their domestic table.” (Independent)


Loïc Rémy saves Blanc’s Blushes

October 17, 2010

“Amidst an aura of optimism and calls of ‘reincarnation’, Romania were close to ruining Laurent Blanc’s quietly-impressive start to his reign as Les Bleus’ national coach this week. Instead of opting for the 4-3-3 that got the French a formidable win against a Bosnia side, M. Blanc preferred the 4-2-3-1 system with the fleet-footed Samir Nasri picked for the role behind Karim Benzema, leaving Yoann Gourcuff, who, it has to be said, is lacking form of any definition at the moment, on the bench. France won this game two to nothing, which at first glance, is an adequate and expected result, but it was only through late goals and some much-needed changes late in the day.” (Talking About Football)


Scotand And Rangers – Developing The ‘Anti-Cryuff’

October 16, 2010


Walter Smith
“When you don’t have the players you once had, do you go for cutting cloth accordingly or biting the bullet and tackling the root of the problem. Rangers have made a choice, and the Scottish national side are following suit. Robin Cowan despairs at Scottish ‘anti-football’.” (In Bed With Maradona)


Glossary

October 16, 2010

“This website assumes a basic understanding of established football positions and roles – if not, this summary should help provide an introduction. However, it also uses terms that may be less familiar. Many of these are foreign phrases because, in the same way English football has traditionally lagged behind the rest of Europe tactically, it also lacks the the wide range of tactical phrases used in other countries. Many of these are Italian; where there are, for example, four or five phrases for different types of players that the English would group as ‘forwards’ – see here and here for more detailed explanations. Similarly, English lacks any equivalent of the term ‘carilleros’, the wider players in a diamond midfield, so it is often useful to venture into Italian or Spanish to precisely describe players and positions.” (Zonal Marking)


Player Profile – Balazs Dzsudzsak

October 16, 2010

“Since the days of Puskas’ Mighty Magyars, who dominated the international football scene during the early 1950s, I doubt many would contest the argument that Hungarian football has undoubtedly failed to live up to the enormously high standards that this legendary “Golden Team “created. 1986 was the last time we were graced with Hungary’s presence at the World Cup finals, and it has largely been a downward spiral ever since.” (6 Pointer)


On Second Thoughts: Italia 90

October 15, 2010


Toto Schillaci
“As a footballing show it left a bit to be desired – but as a dramatic spectacle the World Cup of Schillaci, Milla, Gazza, Pavarotti and the rest was nothing short of immense” (The Sport Blog)


Tactics: Were Holland 1974 the last true innovators?

October 15, 2010

“The words are those of Carlos Alberto, captain of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning team, and they come from an interview published in the 50th anniversary issue of World Soccer magazine. The former Santos right-back is one of a number of greats – including Pelé, Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer and Diego Maradona – to have granted interviews to the magazine about the changes in the game over the last 50 years and their answers repeatedly return to the same complaints: that in becoming faster and more athletic, football has lost some of the artistry that was once central to its raison d’être.” (Football Further)


Football and the Far-right

October 15, 2010

“Sometimes The Beautiful Game isn’t so beautiful. Waking up to pictures of Ivan Bogdanov, the Serbian ‘fan’ fingered by the Italians as the mastermind behind yesterday’s Serbia/Italy riot in Genoa, sure was unsettling. He looks like the prototypical eastern bloc fascist, complete with grenade tattoo and everything. The Spanish newspaper, El País, described the scene outside the stadium, prior to kickoff, as a ‘real pitched battle.’ The scene inside the stadium didn’t look much different, and the game was called off after only six minutes.” (Touch and Tactics)


The tall tale of Peter Crouch’s aerial abilities

October 15, 2010


“Peter Crouch is a strange footballer in many ways. Chiefly, he simply looks very strange. His gangly nature makes him stick out like a sore thumb – he looks awkward when merely running onto the pitch, and at a time when a club like Barcelona are packing their side with quick, mobile, 5′7 players upfront, with other clubs around Europe seeking to move in that direction, the sight of 6′7 Crouch battling with defenders seems somewhat bizarre.” (Zonal Marking)


The Liverpool Crisis: Where Are the Lords and Masters?

October 15, 2010

“As the week has worn on, the situation concerning the ownership of Liverpool Football Club has descended into chaos. With each passing day, the tug of war for the ownership of the club has passed through low comedy, drama and bathos to the point that has started to feel exhausting. There is too much information. There are too many conflicting opinions. And with this exhaustion comes a feeling of profound depression and the feeling that, for all that we could have told the world – indeed, have tried to tell the world for several years – that it was always likely to end up like this, this situation has spiralled out of all control. If football supporters in England hadn’t had the extent to which their game has been taken away from them spelled out in plain enough language over the last twenty years or so, they surely have over the last week or so.” (twohundredpercent)

English Premier League, Week 8 Preview: EPL Talk Podcast
“Did you miss us? Kartik Krisnaiyer, Laurence McKenna and I missed yo during out near-two week break, with the EPL Talk podcast going silent during the international break. With players returning to their clubs, the show is back to look ahead to the eighth match day in the English Premier League. There is, however, this small news story to discuss first, with Liverpool on the verge of being sold to a different set of American owners. For the first half of the show, we talk about the slow and merciless end to the Tom Hicks, George Gillett era at Anfield.” (EPL Talk)


Football’s Greatest Managers: #3 Rinus Michels

October 15, 2010

“Rinus Michels’ association with Ajax was a truly lifelong one. Born in February 1928 just a stone’s throw from the Olympisch Stadion, Michels began playing in the club’s junior ranks in 1940 aged 12 and quickly marked himself out as an industrious young forward. Having had his career put on hold by the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War Two, Michels eventually broke into the Ajax first team in 1946.” (Equaliser Football)


Antonetti has his cake and eats it at Rennes

October 15, 2010


“Frédéric Antonetti should really be watching the game. After all, the silver-tongued Corsican tactician is on the brink of a momentous achievement. Rennes are playing early pace setters Toulouse in Ligue 1 and if the Breton outfit win, they will go top of the table for the first time in 40 years.” (FourFourTwo)


Apertura: half-term reports from Argentina

October 15, 2010

“Since we’re now halfway (and a bit) through the 2010 Torneo Apertura, I thought I’d compile a very brief ‘report’ on each team so far, and how they’re doing in relation to what they’d have hoped/expected at the start of the season. I’m aiming for a short summation of each side, so don’t expect a big essay. And I’ll be starting at the top of the table and working down. I do this after having had a few pints to drink on Thursday evening, so bear with me if I’m a bit blunter with your team than you’d have liked. Here goes…” (Hasta El Gol Siempre)


Barça Look To Cure Camp Nou Crisis

October 15, 2010

“The footballing floater that the Spanish team have been trying to flush down the U-bend is a now a problem that Barcelona are suffering from too – the inability to finish games off. It eventually took a late Fernando Llorente winner against Scotland to pick up the three points for Vicente Del Bosque’s men after Spain trotted to an easy 2-0 lead. However, the Barça side which contributes the bulk of La Selección’s stars have not been so lucky this season.” (Football 365)


Darkeness Before Dawn

October 14, 2010


“I was thinking about a huge post on English and American soccer culture, ESPN, Ian Darke, Hicks and Gillett, the Red Sox, barristers in powdered wigs, Steve McQueen in a Mini Cooper, teenaged Beatles, and Bristol Rovers fans lying down in Leadbelly’s graveyard, but the concept got too unwieldy: Make a list of the places where American culture and English culture intersect, even one that includes only the most striking or the weirdest or the most iconic vertices, and pretty soon you wind up with a galaxy instead of a blog post, and you spend an hour debating whether Edmund Burke gets photographic sidebar representation.11 He would, but only as a representative of paleo-Whigdom in general. So now I’m thinking about a medium-sized post on all that stuff, and Steve McQueen waits for another day.” (Run of Play)

Liverpools Day of Reckoning
“So, farewell then, Thomas O Hicks and George Gillett Junior (H&G) – pending appeal. And what have we learned this last week? Well, to misquote Kipling, ‘if you can keep your head, while all around are losing theirs… you haven’t assessed the situation properly.’ And there was plenty of that in and around Liverpool Football Club lately. There was future-ex-owner, pending appeal, Hicks ‘sacking the electorate’ in boardroom vote-rigging that would have made Elbridge Gerry himself blanch. There was the execrable Piers Morgan in the Mail on Sunday to ask ‘what have Hicks and Gillett actually done wrong?’ Oh yes he did.” (twohundredpercent)

Liverpool FC – Nothing Behind the Curtain
“In a decade, a fresh off the print MBA textbook will be opened to a chapter on ‘International Mergers & Acquisitions: Case Studies in Futility.’ The opening section? Hicks, Gillete, and Liverpool – The Importance of Due Diligence & Cultural Understanding.” (futfanatico)


Scotland 2-3 Spain: Scotland come back from two down, but plan B Llorente grabs winner

October 14, 2010

“Scotland scored two goals against the World Champions, but that still wasn’t enough to take any points from an exciting encounter. Craig Levein abandoned his midweek 4-6-0 formation in favour of a slightly more traditional 4-1-4-1 system, with Lee McCulloch between the lines of defence and attack, and the two wide players tucked in level with the midfield. Kenny Miller came in upfront.” (Zonal Marking)


Two Cultures Coming Together

October 14, 2010

“Brian ‘Buster’ Phillips of Run of Play has a new post up extrapolating some of the ‘cultural shadow’ (my phrase) discussion on Ian Darke and the influence the English have on American soccer into a wider musing on cultural cross-pollination. The thrust of his piece is that perhaps English and American soccer cultures are beginning to blend and fuse as a greater number of Americans throw themselves into the game, English outfits looks to learn American marketing techniques, clubs are passing into American hands and the Internet puts us all into a rolling shared-language conversation on all of the preceding and more. Brian reasons that as time moves along, the language and the growing involvement of Americans will only pull us closer to our cousins across the pond when it comes to this game. That’s the nature of globalization, and soccer isn’t immune.” (Match Fit USA)


October Friendlies: Final Thoughts, US-Colombia Player Ratings

October 14, 2010

“Three thoughts from the October set of friendlies and then player ratings from last night’s nil-nil snoozer against Colombia. Keep in mind the thoughts are from both games, not just last evening.” (Yanks are coming)


Recommended reading

October 14, 2010


“The rain comes thick and fast, hurling itself towards the pavement as though seeking a penalty to be given against its cloud. My pace quickens. Short, sharp steps clattering against the grey concrete slabs. It is also cold. Bitterly so. There is sporadic warmth under the glow of each passing street lamp overhead. Shop signs arrive into and quickly disappear from my peripheral vision.” (The Seventy Two)


Italian media shocked by Serbian crowd trouble

October 14, 2010

” As well as scenes you would hope never to see at a football match, Tuesday’s Italy-Serbia Euro 2012 qualifier in Genoa also gave viewers some moments of inadvertent comedy, courtesy of UEFA’s obtuse reluctance to announce the match had been abandoned. This meant Italian state broadcaster RAI had reporters scrambling around seeking confirmation long after the stands had emptied, with Italy players changed out of their kit and on the way out of the ground with bags packed.” (WSC)


Scrabble, Princess Diana and Armenia

October 14, 2010

“For Europe’s football giants, qualifying for the finals of Euro 2012 is almost a formality. For many smaller countries, such as Armenia, ambitions are more modest. Earning more points than last time, doing well enough to move up to the next pot in the seedings. These are not the kind of aims to inspire a nation, so if they are accompanied by the occasional night of unexpected glory – like Armenia’s 3-1 win over Slovakia last Friday – so much the better.” (FourFourTwo)


Holland 4 – 1 Sweden: Lessons of a high defensive line

October 14, 2010

“A clear victory in a match that Holland dominated. By exploiting Sweden’s high defensive line ‘Oranje’ managed to score an early goal and an in-form Afellay and Huntelaar built upon this to achieve a comfortable 4-1 margin.” (11 tegen 11)


Streetball – Trailer

October 14, 2010

“Meet the soccer players of South Africa’s 2008 Homeless World Cup team and their leaders in the Cape Town community.” (Streetball)


Moral Culpability and Hooliganism in European Football

October 13, 2010


“Incidents like yesterday’s fan violence at the Italy Serbia Euro qualifier in Genoa follow a similar pattern. Journalists and bloggers await the match while discussing the usual tidbits about injured players and group tables and previous encounters and betting odds, when suddenly something happens that goes beyond the meeting of two footballing nations, like fans throwing flares on the pitch while systematically destroying crowd barriers.” (A More Splendid Life)

Violent Fans Force Italy-Serbia Match to Be Suspended
“UEFA, soccer’s governing body in Europe, announced ‘it has immediately opened a full and thorough disciplinary investigation into the incidents of serious disorder witnessed at the match and the circumstances surrounding it.’ The statement, posted on the UEFA Web site, said that a report will be issued to the Control and Disciplinary Body and a meeting is set for Oct. 28. The punishments, under UEFA regulations, “range from a reprimand or fine, up to a stadium closure or ‘disqualification from competitions in progress and/or exclusion from future competitions.'” (NYT)

Serbian thugs are the toys of nationalist and neo-fascist leaders
“For the second time in three days Serbian thugs have laid waste to a European city in riots that have combined wanton and random violence with organisational talent and political backing. Yesterday in Genoa, the Scottish referee Craig Thomson had first to delay the kick-off for the Euro 2012 qualifier between Italy and Serbia by 45 minutes because of fans’ rioting, and then call the game off after seven minutes. Earlier the angry young men from Belgrade went on the rampage in the Mediterranean port and Uefa have opened a ‘full and thorough’ investigation into the incidents.” (Guardian)


Liverpool FC sale: live coverage

October 13, 2010

“7.36pm: Jon Saraceno of USA Today has been on Sky Sports News, and he says the concern for sports fans in the US will be whether John W Henry’s use of funds at Liverpool will have implications for the Boston Red Sox. However, Saraceno said, Henry is a shrewd businessman and there should be no prospect of that happening.” (Guardian)

Martin Broughton comes out roaring after quiet man saves Liverpool
“Throughout the grim course since the 1990s of English football clubs being bought by ‘owners’ for personal enrichment, contrary to the game’s time-honoured tradition that directors should be “custodians”, none have been served with the wallop meted out today to Tom Hicks and George Gillett.” (Guardian)

Liverpool sale: Fans have new heroes after victory in the high court
“Liverpool is littered with heroes and this morning, a few minutes after 11 o’clock, their supporters greeted some more. As Martin Broughton, the club’s chairman, stepped out of Court 18 of the Royal Courts of Justice, followed by his fellow directors Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre, and the trio’s legal team, they were met by roars of approval from waiting men carrying Liverpool scarves and shirts emblazoned with Liverbirds. It was a curious sight but a wholly appropriate one given the momentous victory that had just been achieved.” (Guardian)


U.S. experiments in dour draw

October 13, 2010

“Here’s the important thing to remember when it comes to experiments in soccer, or anywhere else for that matter: sometimes the results are gonna stink. Testing a different tactical arrangement was certainly worth a look-see. And who has enough imagination to say what Tuesday’s new formation would have looked like with Landon Donovan in one of the wide spots? U.S. coach Bob Bradley arranged his team in (ostensibly) a 4-3-3 for Tuesday’s friendly with Colombia outside Philadelphia.” (SI)

USA 0-0 Colombia – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Friendly
(The 90th Minute)


England 0-0 Montenegro: England outnumbered in the centre and too predictable on the flanks

October 13, 2010


Bonaparte Visiting the Plague Victims of Jaffa, Antoine-Jean Gros
“Roughly a 50:50 split between a lack of English creativity and some good Montenegrin defending produced a goalless game at Wembley. England went with their expected side – Peter Crouch and Wayne Rooney upfront, with Adam Johnson on the right and Ashley Young on the left, both cutting inside onto their stronger feet. Aside from that, Capello had few options and the choices were straightforward.” (Zonal Marking)

Match of the Midweek: England 0 – 0 Montenegro
“In all honesty, the excitement that surrounding England’s two opening wins against Bulgaria and Switzerland passed very quickly indeed. The post-South Africa combination of jitters and lethargy seems to be lingering over the national team like an unwanted smell and even the press build-up to this match – Look! Rio’s Back! – doesn’t seem to lift the feeling of torpor surrounding a European Championship qualifying group that feels more like a chore. The only thing worse than qualifying would be not qualifying. In the tunnel before the match, Steven Gerrard appears to be holding a Wham! bar and, during the national anthems, Wayne Rooney maintains the facial expression of a man that could quite do with a roll-up. It’s that sort of evening.” (twohundredpercent)

England 0-0 Montenegro – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Euro 2012 Qualifying
(The 90th Minute)


“The Referee” by Mattias Low

October 13, 2010

“Swedish director Mattias Löw, of the production company Freedom From Choice, shared with me a short documentary called “The Referee,” about the unfortunate Martin Hannson, who officiated the France-Ireland qualifier last fall and failed to call Thierry Henry’s decisive handball.” (Soccer Politics)


Scotland 2 – 3 Spain

October 13, 2010

“Steven Naismith scored a goal he will never forget – but it was not enough to secure a point against Spain at Hampden. Naismith sparked an impressive comeback after Scotland had fallen behind to David Villa’s penalty and strike from Andres Iniesta, before a Gerard Pique own goal set the home side on course for a precious point.” (ESPN)

Scotland 2-3 Spain – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Euro 2012 Qualifying
(The 90th Minute)


New Cycle, New Tactics: Thoughts on USA-Poland

October 12, 2010


Landon Donovan
“I found the Poland match yesterday incredibly interesting tactically. No intro required for this one. Let’s get right into what I saw: As I’ve written several times, one of my biggest problems with Bob Bradley as a coach is his reliance (until now) on elementary-style tactical decisions. One of my biggest arguments for hiring someone else instead of Bradley was that after the Charlie Davies injury, Bradley’s inability to adjust his 4-4-2 boot-and-run tactical/lineup decisions was inexcusable. Although the boot-and-run, sideline drill, flag drill techniques served us pretty well at the Confed. Cup, I have always maintained that it took a miracle against Egypt to even put us in position to play Spain.” (The Yanks Are Coming)

U.S. changes expected vs. Colombia
“Change was in vogue as the United States tied Poland on Saturday to open a pair of fall friendlies. And there will surely be more as coach Bob Bradley’s Americans complete the back end of the set Tuesday against Colombia at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Colombia will have an extra day to rest following a 1-0 win over Ecuador at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., on Friday. It was the latest promising result for the South American mid-tier side, which narrowly missed a berth for South Africa 2010. Mexico had to work hard for a 1-0 win over Los Cafeteros last month, and the Colombians had defeated Venezuela 2-0 four days earlier.” (SI)


Video Of The Week: Match Of The 80s – 1982/83

October 12, 2010

“We’ve got something a little different for you tonight, with the launch of our very own Tumblr page. We’ll be putting videos, MP3s and links up on this site, hopefully on a very regular basis. This is starting off with this week’s Video Of The Week, which is the third in the BBC’s “Match Of The Eighties” series. This week’s episode looks at the 1982/83 season. It was the oddest of seasons. Liverpool ran away with the First Division championship, but Watford, in their first ever season in the First Division, finished in second. Their local rivals Luton Town managed to survive relegation on the last day of the season, relegating Manchester City instead Brighton & Hove Albion came within one kick of winning the FA Cup Final, against Manchester United. This video comes in four parts, and our thanks go to the original uploader.” (twohundredpercent), (twohundredpercent – 1)


United We Stand, Divided We Fall

October 12, 2010

“Pity the average Manchester United fan trying to make sense of the club’s annual financial results announced last week. On the one hand, they look great with record turnover of £286 million, operating profits climbing above £100 million for the first time and £164 million cash in the bank, but on the other hand they look terrible with a record loss of £84 million, disappointing revenue growth and a mountain of debt. No wonder chief executive David Gill admitted that the figures could be confusing, ‘These are very good results for the club with records here, there and everywhere, but they are complicated with non-cash items and exceptional once-off hits.'” (The Swiss Ramble)


Liverpool FC sale: High court hearing live coverage

October 12, 2010


“12.42pm: The secondary offer that H&G’s representatives refer to is from Mill Financial. The offer includes repaying all debts and putting £100m towards the new stadium. Mill Financial took over some of Gillett’s stake. Mill Financial were meant to meet Broughton last Thursday to discuss a possible takeover but it was cancelled. Hicks and Gillett’s representative wants to know why this meeting was cancelled. Mill Financial remain interested in buying Liverpool.” (Guardian)


Montenegro look a well-balanced team with explosive attacking potential

October 12, 2010

“Ask Montenegro’s players what has changed since the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and all reply with a combination of the same three factors: luck, experience and balance. For a new country, drawn from the pot of minnows, they performed creditably in World Cup qualifying, but there is a sense that they did not quite get the results they deserved: 2-2 draws against Bulgaria and Cyprus probably should have been wins; the 4-1 defeat in Bulgaria looked far worse than it really was. Soft penalties were given against them, there were unfortunate ricochets, and perhaps a lack of conviction at the back. A team packed with talented forwards either defended en masse, or poured forwards in numbers, and so were alternately involved in either tedious 0-0s or high-scoring thrillers, with little in between.” (Guardian – Jonathan Wilson)


Eastern European countries looking good for Euro 2012

October 12, 2010

” An interesting trend has emerged from the first three rounds of European Championship qualifying games. Several countries from eastern Europe, which has struggled in both sporting and economic terms since emerging from Communism over the past two decades, are showing signs of life. And while there’s not exactly a replication of the almost all-conquering 1950s Hungarian team, a number of new nations have at least a sniff of making second spot in their groups and going on to qualify for a major tournament for the first time.” (WSC)


Scotland embarrassed by Tartan Army and Gaelic socks

October 11, 2010


“‘Oben am jungen Rhein’ (Up above the young Rhine) is played to the same tune as ‘God Save The Queen’, still the official national ditty of anyone living in Scotland. When Sky Sports News replayed the booing which permeated Liechtenstein’s anthem during their visit to Hampden last month, many a little Englander no doubt bemoaned the anti-British impudence of ‘the sweaties’. The Sweaty Socks. The Jocks. Yet that pejorative rhyming slang provides a clue to the whole problem.” (WSC)


Removing the Romanticism from an Unexpected Victory: Denmark – Euro ’92.

October 11, 2010

“Denmark’s victory in the Euro Championships in 1992 had all the ingredients of a unforgetful footballing fairytale. It is the story of a team who didn’t qualify for the finals who went onto win the thing, beating the World Champions, the French and the Dutch; surely this would be a story that was woven into the tapestry of footballing folklore?” (Talking About Football)


Brazil happy to experiment

October 11, 2010

“Brazil will expect another commanding performance from Thiago Silva when they take on Ukraine at Derby’s Pride Park in an international friendly on Monday. The 26-year-old Milan defender was in fine form in last Thursday’s 3-0 win over Iran – especially important as his centre-back partner David Luiz had a poor game, obliging Thiago Silva to show off his excellent sense of cover.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)


Bibliography

October 11, 2010


Futebol, Alex Bellos. The best book around about the most successful footballing nation in the world. As with many of these books, the obvious line is that it is ‘not just a book about Brazilian football, but also one about Brazilian culture’. But as interesting as some of the more general parts of the book are, it is at its best when discussing the actual football, after all, Brazil has probably the most distinctive way of playing the game of any national side. The parts about some of the great characters (the likes of Pele and Zico) and the great games, like the 1950 and 1970 World Cup finals – are excellent.” (Zonal Marking)


Archibald: Scots must capitalise on Xavi’s absence

October 11, 2010

“Reigning World and European champions Spain have an unblemished qualification record in Group I following consecutive victories over Liechtenstein and Lithuania, and former Scotland striker and La Liga aficionado Steve Archibald says his countrymen should count themselves lucky they’ll at least be spared the task of trying to stop two of the world’s best when the two sides clash on Tuesday.” (ESPN)


RBS obtains injunction against Hicks and Gillett

October 11, 2010

“Royal Bank of Scotland has secured an injunction preventing Tom Hicks and George Gillett from removing independent chairman Martin Broughton or any other Liverpool board members ahead of Tuesday’s court case.” (ESPN)


Moldova 0 – 1 Holland: Is the deep-lying playmaker the way forward?

October 11, 2010

“The runners up of the past World Cup have started their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign well. Holland is grouped with Sweden, Hungary, Finland and Moldova, San Marino. The Dutch and the Swedes were expected to battle for first place, and indeed so far these two team managed to win all of their matches. Compared to the team that finished second in the past World Cup, Holland has been changed on several positions. In discussing the 0-5 away victory at San Marino, the positional changes have been explained in detail. Of the team playing the final against Spain three months ago, seven players featured again in the match against Moldova.” (11 tegen 11)


Laurent Blanc’s ‘coaching’ wins it for France

October 11, 2010


Laurent Blanc
“October 14th 2009, that was the last time France had won in front of their home fans when they beat Austria in World Cup qualifiers. A win at the Stade de France was long overdue and the three points against Romania will do the greatest of good to Laurent Blanc and his men, now top of Group D. Les Bleus dominated the play for most of the match, creating many chances, but could not find a way past a clinical Costel Pantilimon. The decisive factor ended up coming from Laurent Blanc’s inspired coaching as substitutes Loïc Remy and Yoann Gourcuff secured a second consecutive win for France.” (Match Centre)


Portugal 3-1 Denmark: Everything Turned Bento

October 11, 2010

“‘Everything turned Bento.’ That brief but illustrative phrase (it’s a rough translation, thanks to one of my Twitter followers for an explanation here, here and here) appeared as a headline in the Saturday edition of Record, who, along with their peers in Portugal’s sporting press, were left scrambling on Friday evening for original ways of saying: ‘wow, that was actually quite good wasn’t it?’ Answer: yes, yes it was. Portugal’s 3-1 victory over a fairly listless Denmark outfit might not herald a return to the golden generation, but considering what had recently gone before, it was a much-needed return to form. Here’s a few disconnected thoughts on Friday’s display.” (cahiers du sport)


Spain’s ugliness a problem for Scotland

October 11, 2010

“It was the kind of game Harry Redknapp would have loved had he been a national team manager and widely successful at the job to boot. ‘I woz daaahn to the bare bones,” he would have tooted. “Eight of the lads wot were in the squad wot won the World Cup wasn’t abaaaht. But we dug deep, stuck the big lad up front with that kid that looks like an ‘amster aaaht wide and they done the business.'” (FourFourTwo)


Wrap Wilshere In Cotton Wool, But Dont Give Him A Make-Over

October 11, 2010

“Imagine, if you will, that England are a goal down to Montenegro with thirty minutes to play on Tuesday night. It’s not such a far-fetched proposition. The team from the tiny nation that borders the Adriatic have so far gained three straight single-goal victories and currently top Group G. Fabio Capello’s side might have enjoyed two comfortable wins themselves too at the beginning of their qualification campaign for Euro 2012, but a win at Wembley this week should not be taken for granted.” (twohundredpercent)