Monthly Archives: January 2011

Are Soccer Fans the Unsung Heroes of Egypt’s Uprising?

“Everyone from the Muslim Brotherhood, to labor unions, to Wikileaks are being credited for contributing to Egypt’s uprising. But what about hardcore soccer fans? These guys are better at tangling with cops than just about anyone. When asked about the role of political groups in organizing protests, prominent Egyptian blogger Alaa abd El-Fatah told Al Jazeera today: ‘The ultras – the football fan associations – have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground at this moment.'” Gawker

Soccer clubs central to ending Egypt’s ‘Dictatorship of Fear’
“Over the decades that have marked the tenure of Egypt’s “President for Life” Hosni Mubarak, there has been one consistent nexus for anger, organization, and practical experience in the ancient art of street fighting: the country’s soccer clubs. Over the past week, the most organized, militant fan clubs, also known as the “ultras,” have put those years of experience to ample use.” SI

Egypt’s Soccer Revolution
“He was wearing a soccer replica-uniform but he was not on his way to watch a game but to Tahrir Square in Cairo to tackle Mubarak and his regime. Some reports from the region suggest that Egypt’s soccer fan organizations, known as Ultras, have been on the vanguard of the country’s revolution. An Egyptian blogger, Alaa Abd El Fattah, was quoted on Al Jazeera, – ‘the Ultras have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground.'” SFGate

‘Ultra’ soccer fans at heart of Egyptian protests
“‘Ultra’ soccer fans in Cairo long have had a reputation for street fighting. This past week, they’ve turned their fury from rival clubs and countries to the government. Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent Egyptian blogger, said in an interview seen on Al Jazeera, ‘The ultras – the football fan associations – have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground at this moment.'” SFGate


Non-League Videos of the Week

“It’s time, then, to wind down with our weekly selections of non-league highlights from the last seven days. Our first match this evening comes from Twerton Park, and it’s the Blue Square Premier match between Bath City and Wimbledon. Wimbledon are still chasing a place in the Football League and needed three points from their trip to the west country from this match. Bath, however, may still harbour hopes of a place in the play-offs at the end of the season and provided a stiff test for the team that has spent much of the last few months at the top of the table.” twohundredpercent

Inter 3-2 Palermo: a game of two halves

“2-0 down at half-time, Leonardo gave Giampaolo Pazzini his Inter debut and the game changed dramatically. Leonardo made various changes to his side, but kept the 4-3-1-2 shape he’s used since taking over as manager. Diego Milito returned upfront, Coutinho started as a trequartista. Delio Rossi used his usual 4-3-2-1 system with his expected eleven players – there can’t be many more consistent starting XIs in Europe than Palermo’s.” Zonal Marking

Heerenveen 1 –4 Groningen: A tale of the centre-backs
“Groningen beat Heerenveen for the second time this season. Not only does this mean a second victory over their main rivals after previously beating them 1-0 at home, it also means a second victory of Pieter Huistra over his predecessor Ron Jans. Three important points for Groningen as they maintain their current fourth spot in the Eredivisie which would guarantee Europa League football next season.” 11 tegen 11

Southampton 1-2 Manchester United: Ferguson’s switch back to a system with width turns game
“Manchester United yet again came back from an awful first half display to take the win. Nigel Adkins was without key playmaker Adam Lallana, so went for a fluid 4-3-1-2 / 4-3-3 system. Sir Alex Ferguson made numerous changes, and he also lined up with a 4-3-1-2.” Zonal Marking

Torres, Carroll, Suarez, Adam: Transfer Chaos.

Adoration of the Golden Calf, Jacopo Robusti
“For the first couple of seasons at Liverpool, Fernando Torres was the most complete striker I’d ever seen at the club; Ian Rush’s pace and finishing prowess, but with the ability to also beat defenders with skill and hit a wider variety of strikes. He seemed humble, hard-working and devoted to the club. He was perfect. While his goalscoring remained impressive last season, in spite of injuries and the team’s struggles, his attitude had changed from that of someone grateful to be at the club to that of someone who often looked moody and disinterested, and far too concerned with getting into verbal spats with opposition players. He’d explode into life, but also descend into sulks, as was noted many times. Being managed by Roy Hodgson only deepened his visible depression.” Tomkins Times

Football Weekly podcast: The Torres transfer and a bad romance
“Barry Glendenning makes his return to the Football Weekly pod as AC Jimbo and co look back on the all the action from the FA Cup and speculate wildly on the future of Fernando Torres and various other comings and goings on the last day of the transfer window.” Guardian – James Richardson

Liverpool cannot afford to lose the battle to keep Fernando Torres

“In the space of six months, all three of English football’s historical triumvirate – as well as its future force – have seen those idols their fans treasure above all others threaten to reject that devotion. Fabregas asked Arsène Wenger to allow him to move to Barcelona; Rooney informed Manchester United he would not sign a new contract; Tévez pleaded with Manchester City to release him from his £160,000-a-week bondage at Eastlands. And now Torres, first “verbally intimating” to Liverpool that he wishes to join Chelsea, then handing in a transfer request.” Telegraph

Liverpool selling Fernando Torres would be a sign of self-confidence
“Football’s most powerful clubs prosper by expelling those who no longer want to work there. The institution asserts its power over the individual. These partings can be painful, and appear calamitous, but there is always another talent out there to be hired. The club renews itself, the departing star is doomed one morning to retire.” Guardian

Everton 1-1 Chelsea: Kalou strike forces replay

“Everton and Chelsea drew 1-1 for the second game running. David Moyes used Jack Rodwell behind Louis Saha, in a 4-4-1-1 system. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov replaced Leon Osman on the left of midfield. Carlo Ancelotti welcomed Frank Lampard back into the side, dropping Jon Obi Mikel and using Michael Essien as the holder. The rest of the side was as expected.” Zonal Marking

Japan 1-0 Australia: late extra time winner
“Tadanari Lee scored a superb volley – his first ever international goal – to win the 2011 Asian Cup. Alberto Zaccheroni made two changes to the side which beat South Korea on penalties. Shinji Kagawa was out injured, so Jungo Fujimoto started and Shinji Okazaki moved to the left. At the back, Maya Yoshida was available again after suspension, and replaced Daiki Iwamasa.” Zonal Marking

Inside the Egyptian revolution

“Recorded shortly before Friday prayers (yesterday), this discussion with three Egyptian political activists in Cairo reveals more about the passions that are driving the Egyptian revolution than any amount of analysis from outside observers. The political power now unleashed across Egypt will topple the Mubarak regime not in spite of being leaderless but because it is leaderless — because it has no ideological or social bias but truly represents the will of the people. …. ‘The ultras — the football fan associations — have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground at this moment,’ Alaa said. ‘Maybe we should get the ultras to rule the country,’ he joked.” War in Context

Arminia Bielefeld 1-3 Hertha BSC

“Hertha comfortably beat Arminia to notch up their 13th win of a professionally conducted 2. Bundesliga campaign. The home side created a nervy last few minutes when Josip Tadić scored in the 85th minute after their first incisive through-ball of the match (Christian Müller). But the away side fully deserved the win, and will go into next week’s derby against Union on top of the league and feeling on top of the world.” Defensive Midfielder

AZ 6-1 VVV
“Kolbeinn Sigþórsson grabbed a quintuple as Gertjan Verbeek’s side grabbed their first win at home since November. Graziano Pellè got an 89th-minute winner when these sides met at De Koel earlier this season, but there was never any danger of AZ needing a late match-clincher this time. The game was sealed just shy of the quarter-hour mark, but perhaps that was unsurprising – Venlo have been on a torrid run of form in the league recently, with no win since November 5, and now 25 goals leaked in the last eight games.” Defensive Midfielder

Super rich at the Super Cup in Super Monaco

“One of the must see places in Europe during your lifetime has to be Monte Carlo, or Monaco to give it its true name. Essentially Monte Carlo is the main town within the principality of Monaco, but as the place is so small there isn’t really room for any other habitats and so the names tend to be interchangeable. The fact still remains though that it ranks up there as one of THE places to be seen in. However, whilst other high class spots such as Marbella, Cannes and Portofino are definitely the playground of the rich, Monaco is actually a place of work.” The Ball Is Round

The adventures of a Motor Man

“It is not often you walk away from a football match counting how much money you have left in your wallet and thinking that you must have had a hidden £20 in there. Admission, programme, beer, plate (yes PLATE) of chips and still change from a tenner (almost) is a bargain in anyone’s book irrespective of the twenty two players running around a muddy pitch.” The Ball Is Round

Suárez & Torres: Dream Team?

“So, one of the world’s best strikers signs, on the day that we’re told one of the world’s best strikers is supposedly intent on leaving. Nothing is ever simple as a Liverpool fan these days, is it? But while Suárez has signed, Torres has yet to go anywhere. In theory, they look like a perfectly balanced front pairing. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to find out.” Tomkins Times

Hakoah Vienna: The triumph and the tragedy

“Few football clubs can lay claim to a history as successful and yet ultimately tragic as that of Hakoah Vienna. An exclusively Jewish team which enjoyed global fame for a short time before being unsentimentally dissolved by Nazi invaders, Hakoah’s history now stands as a monument to the Jewish culture which blossomed in Central Europe during the first decades of the twentieth century, only to be abominably stamped out by the forces of the Third Reich.” The Equaliser

2011 African Nations Championship: A Preview

African Nations Championship – Uganda
“While the Asian Cup may be drawing to a conclusion with Japan facing Australia in the final on Saturday, keen observers of international football don’t have long to wait until their next fix. The second African Nations Championship (CHAN) gets underway on 4th February in Sudan, a tournament similar to the Africa Cup on Nations but with the fundamental difference that it is open only to players who play their football in their domestic leagues.” The Equaliser

Liverpool 1 – 0 Fulham

“Liverpool’s renaissance under Kenny Dalglish continued as victory over Fulham lifted them into their highest Barclays Premier League position of the season. It was not the most notable of performances, although there were plenty of spells of good football from the hosts, as John Pantsil’s second-half own goal divided the teams.” ESPN

Liverpool 1-0 Fulham – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL
The 90th Minute

Future stars on display in the South American U-20 Championships

“Here’s a date for your diary. On Sunday Feb. 6 I can’t believe there’s anything more fascinating taking place in the world of soccer than the clash between Argentina and Brazil in the South American U-20 Championships. Whatever might be happening in England, Spain or anywhere else, this is the date when the city of Arequipa in the south of Peru can claim to be, for 90 minutes at least, the capital of the global game.” SI – Tim Vickery

U.S. talent pool suits a 4-2-3-1

Bob Bradley
“The secret is out on Bob Bradley: The U.S. coach has some tactical wanderlust in him, after all. We all raised a curious brow at that dalliance with the 4-2-3-1 formation late last year, a walk on the wild side for a man previously tied to a 4-4-2. Fans wondered if it was just a brief fling. Now they may be nodding with approval at something that looks more like a steady thing.” SI

FIFA’s Evolution : A Football Marketing Revolution

“Rather luckily for FIFA, there seems to be no way of measuring how much the phrase ‘FIFA’ has come to refer to the video game as opposed to world football’s governing body. And yet the story of FIFA the video game franchise is in many ways a celebration of the power of social marketing and the tremendous rewards it can bring to those who dare to innovate. And spend. It is a story that spans two decades.” The Oval Log

MSV Duisburg 2-0 Kaiserslautern

“Duisburg beat Kaiserslautern in the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal as Milan Šašić got one over his former employers. Goals from Branimir Bajić and Goran Šukalo in either half saw the second division side beat their top-flight visitors comfortably at the noisy Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena. They’ll now join fellow 2. Bundesliga side Energie Cottbus in the last-four of Germany’s premier cup competition.” Defensive Midfielder

Videos of the Week: Non-League Special

“It’s time for a bit of a non-league round-up (as is our wont at this time of the week), with highlights of three matches from the last couple of weekend’s worth of matches. First up, we’re taking the opportunity to catch up with one of the matches from the weekend of the 15th of January, with the FA Trophy Second Round match between Blyth Spartans. To people of a certain edge, hearing these two names together will send a shiver down the spine. Blyth Spartans, of course, made the Fifth Round of the FA Cup in 1978 and the Quarter-Finals of the FA Trophy in 1980 and 1983 (beating Altrincham on the way).” twohundredpercent

Hope Springs Eternal At Roma

Francesco Totti
“While football fans were purring in appreciation at the dazzling dribbling skills exhibited by French international Jérémy Menez that sealed Roma’s comprehensive 3-0 victory against Cagliari at the weekend, it may have escaped their attention that the giallorossi had stealthily moved into third place in Serie A after winning five of their last six games, which is some comeback after their indifferent start to the season. In fact, it’s beginning to look like this year could be a repeat of last year’s heroics, when Claudio Ranieri’s team staged a remarkable recovery to finish as runners-up to José Mourinho’s all-conquering Inter team, guided by their charismatic captain, Francesco Totti.” Swiss Ramble

Soccer Fans Bid Farewell to the ‘Lion of Vienna’

“Nat Lofthouse, the Lion of Vienna, will be laid to rest in Bolton, England, his hometown, on Wednesday. Thousands will line the streets, just as 23,000 inside the Bolton Wanderers’ stadium Monday night observed a silence in which you could almost hear a heartbeat. People too young to have seen Lofthouse play sobbed during the silence. It was as if he had been a grandfather to all of them — and folks who dismiss history as bunk, or who shy away from sentiment in sports or in life, had no place there.” NYT

1930s Month: Scottish football in review

“It would be wonderful to look back at Scottish football in the 1930’s and tell tales of Hearts and Hibs domination or Aberdeen and Motherwell winning the treble, but that’s just not the case. The final table from 1931 looks very much like the table today, Rangers winning the league by two points over their Glasgow rivals. It’s interesting to note, however, that the third team in Scotland’s second city, Partick Thistle, came fourth that year.” The Equaliser

Review: Revie – Revered and Reviled; the Authorised Biography by Richard Sutcliffe

“Say this for David Pearce’s novel The Damned Utd – it was the first really unembarrassed cultural treatment that the national game has ever had. Fever Pitch broke the ground. But Fever Pitch was gauche, blushing, unsure of its reception. It was essentially uncontroversial, and that is what has set The Damned Utd apart: the real hurt and confusion the novel caused, the bad memories it revived, the losses it refreshed. It may have helped cement Brian Clough in his full and proper place in the public life of the country, but The Damned Utd exhumed Don Revie and Revie’s Leeds along the way, and didn’t do the same for them at all.” More Than Mind Games

When you run out of people to interview…..

FCK v Brondby
“For those of you who know both Danny Last and I you can confirm that we are not one and the same person. There has been talk on certain online forums that we are actually multiple personalities of a northern chap called John, who goes to watch Vauxhall Motors with a Tesco carrier bag and a flask of Campbell’s Vegetable broth. But we are not. We are often seen in the same place at the same time, standing on “The Jungle” at the Dripping Pan, or propping up the bar in the Rook Inn. But we do share some of the same philosophies in life and both have a passion to write about it.” The Ball Is Round

Australia 6-0 Uzbekistan: Australian counter-attacking tears apart terrible Uzbekistan defence

“Australia were excellent early on, before a crazy second half saw Uzbekistan collapse completely. Australia coach Holger Osieck named an unchanged side from the one which defeated Iraq in the quarter-finals. Vadim Abramov made various changes to his side, including leaving out Alexander Geynrikh, who didn’t even appear as a substitute. He set his side out in a 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1 shape, although with some unusual modifications.” Zonal Marking

Barcelona’s Piqué is enjoying life

“It may seem rather obvious to point this out, but in January 2011 it’s good to be Gerard Piqué. Still just 23 years old, the stylish Spanish center back has won the World Cup, two Champions League titles (with Barcelona and Manchester United) and three league crowns in Spain and England. He was recently named one of the world’s top four defenders in the 2010 FIFA/FIFPro World XI, and his Barcelona team is on course for a historic season in European soccer. Piqué is the rare central defender who has the chance to become a breakout global sports star. He’s good at what he does. He wins. He even scores a few goals. And away from the field he’s a handsome guy who gives interesting interviews in Spanish, Catalan and, yes, English, as I found out when we spoke for half an hour on Tuesday.” SI

La Liga legacy

“You’ll forgive me if I ramble a little this week, or even if I fail to tickle your interests, but I’ll try. I’ve been in England all week, and have only just come back. I missed the Valencia versus Malaga game on Saturday night (4-3) which sounded like a cracker, but I did manage to take in the Villarreal versus Real Sociedad game on Sunday evening (2-1), which was also very entertaining fare. In midweek, whilst Betis were doing the unthinkable and beating Barcelona, I was eating my takeaway curry and watching the FA Cup replay of Leeds v Arsenal on the hotel telly.” ESPN

2011 Copa Libertadores, map of the 38 clubs in the competition.

“From BBC/football/blogs, Tim Vickery’s Blog, from 24 Jan., ‘Crunch time for Ronaldo and Corinthians‘. The map page shows the 38 clubs’ locations on the map. Flanking the map, grouped by their countries, are the clubs’ profile boxes. Each club’s profile box includes…home kit; crest; city location; stadium(s), and capacity; how the club qualified; national professional titles (with year of last title); total Copa Libertadores appearances (and how the club fared in their last Copa Liberrtadores appearance); and Copa Libertadores titles (with year of last title).” bill sports maps

Crunch time for Ronaldo and Corinthians

“More than eight years after combining to such good effect in South Korea and Japan, the 3 Rs of Brazil’s last World Cup win are now all back at home playing for major clubs. As discussed in this space last week, Ronaldinho has joined Flamengo. On Saturday, Rivaldo was snapped up by Sao Paulo. And, of course, there is Ronaldo at Corinthians.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Dancing with U.S. Soccer: A Gentleman’s History of Bogling and Boon-Boo-Ree featuring Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury & Pablo Ramirez

“And so it began with A Gentleman’s History of the Stanky Legg. An opportunity to use goal celebration dances to learn about ourselves and share some of what we are with our friends around the world. I know, it’s just a game, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be just a game.” Nutmeg Radio

Why The January Transfer Window Is Utterly Pointless

“Before the introduction into European football of ‘registration periods,’ more commonly known as ‘transfer windows,’ you may remember that players could pretty much come and go as they please, right up until the closing weeks of the season. However, times have changed and now, in England specifically, the summer window runs from the last day of the season right up until the 1st September. That’s all well and good; a long summer break to tamper with your squad and attempt, admittedly sometimes in vain, to improve upon the previous season. However, now is January. January in England and across Europe has it’s own mid-season transfer window. The question is why?” EPL Take

For he’s a Jolly good fellow

“Over Christmas we finally managed to get a game in after the weather decimated the fixture programme. The one game we managed to get to was the local derby between Carshalton Athletic and Sutton United. This wasn’t just a game of local pride, nor was it the chance for the home team to get one over on the league leaders, but it was also the first return to Colston Avenue for a previous legend for the Robins – striker Richard Jolly.” The Ball Is Round

Arsenal turn up the style and add tactical steel as well

“Arsenal are winning over their doubters – and they are doing it in typical style. Match of the Day pundit and former Liverpool defender, Alan Hansen, has perennially shrugged off Arsenal’s title chances but now sees them as Manchester United’s closest challengers.” Arsenal Column

A is for Arbitragem

“António Silva Campos, recently re-elected as President of Rio Ave Futebol Clube, has had a tough season. The loss of Sílvio to Braga and Fábio Faria to Benfica during the summer transfer window left a hole in his back line, one which coach Carlos Brito has largely been unable to plug. Despite possessing plenty of creative threat in Bruno Gama and Yazalde, as well as the Liga’s second most prolific forward (Cahiers du Sport favourite João Tomás), Rio Ave have spent much of 2010/11 hovering in and around the relegation zone.” cahiers du sport

Bolton 0-4 Chelsea: easy win for Chelsea

“Chelsea cruised past Bolton with goals from all of their front three, and Ramires’ first for the club. Owen Coyle made two changes. Gretar Steinsson replaced Sam Ricketts at right-back, whilst Martin Petrov came in for Mark Davies. Petrov played on the left, with Matthew Taylor switching to the right.” Zonal Marking

Wolves 0-3 Liverpool: midfield runs not tracked

The Martyrdom of St Stephen, Annibale Carracci
“Kenny Dalglish picked up his first win in his second spell as Liverpool manager. Mick McCarthy made one change from the side that lost 4-3 to Manchester City last weekend – Karl Henry replaced David Jones in the centre of midfield. Kenny Dalglish also switched one midfielder – out went Jay Spearing, in came Christian Poulsen.” Zonal Marking

Wolves 0 – 3 Liverpool
“Liverpool’s revival under Kenny Dalglish is officially under way after he secured his first win since returning for his second spell as Reds boss with Wolves beaten 3-0 at Molineux.” ESPN

Dalglish reign begins in earnest
“‘It is a massive team,’ the newest convert to Kenny Dalglish’s cause said. Managers invariably appear defensive on the subject of their own signings and Rafa Benitez is no exception. While conceding there were “some mistakes” in his later recruitment, Liverpool’s last-but-one leader conformed to type, suggesting he left an enviable legacy.” ESPN

Liverpool FC Alive Again
“It took Kenny Dalglish just two away games to do what Roy Hodgson failed to achieve in ten: win convincingly away from home in the Premier League. Indeed, as is well known, the Reds only managed a single away victory under Hodgson in the league, and that was via a barely-deserved late winner at Bolton.” Tomkinst Tmes

Three quick thoughts: U.S.-Chile

“Three thoughts after the U.S.’s 1-1 tie against Chile in a matchup of two B-squads in Carson, Calif., on Saturday night…” SI

U.S. vs. Chile instant analysis
“Join staff and writers (Grant Wahl, Jen Chang, Steve Davis, George Dorhmann and Avi Creditor) for live analysis and discussion of the’s national team game against Chile on Saturday.” SI

Thoughts On USA’s 1-1 Draw With Chile On January 22, 2011
“The United States played their first international in several months and here’s a few of my thoughts on it. It was a 1-1 draw with Chile and as usual consisted of young players who have little experience with the National Team.” The 90th Minute

Udinese 3-1 Inter: 3-5-1-1 beats 4-3-1-2

“Leonardo suffered his first defeat as Inter manager as Udinese dominated the majority of the game. Francesco Guidolin made one change from last week’s side which defeated Genoa. Andrea Coda was left out, with Maurizio Domizzi coming in on the left of defence. Leonardo replaced Marco Materazzi with Ivan Cordoba, and Diego Milito’s absence meant Goran Pandev pushed forward, as did Dejan Stankovic, with Thiago Motta returning on the left of the midfield.” Zonal Marking

Aston Villa 1-0 Man City: Bent strikes on debut

“Manchester City dominated the game but somehow managed to come away with nothing. Gerard Houllier named a very attack-minded side – Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Marc Albrighton and Gabriel Agbonlahor all played behind Darren Bent, who made his first start for the club. Carlos Cuellar returned at right-back.” Zonal Marking

La semaine en France: Week 20

“There were few signs of post-Christmas hangovers as Ligue 1 resumed after the winter break, with wins for all the serious title contenders. Leaders Lille immediately hit their stride with a 2-0 win at Nice, before Eden Hazard and Gervinho inspired Rudi Garcia’s side to a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Nancy in their re-arranged home game on Wednesday to send them four points clear of their title rivals.” Football Further

Daggers Diary

“Let’s Kick Racism out of Football – January 2011. December was a really good month for us. We had a 100% win record for the month, and the fact that we only played once is not going to take that away from us. Going up to Carlisle for our longest journey of the season and winning meant that it was a great day out.” The Ball Is Round

Ronaldinho – Chelsea vs Barcelona – 2005

“Barcelona need a goal. Oleguer, that rare Marxist of a utility player, lumps the ball forward. It drops harmlessly onto the head of Ricardo Carv…actually, no; John Terry’s perennial sense of defensive propriety kicks in, and Barça are back in possession. Our protagonist can’t (yet) bring the ball under his spell, but Andrés Iniesta, a spritely 20-year-old with the hair to prove it, keeps his cool; tempting Terry out of the backline like an anaemic pied piper. A simple pass to Ronaldinho, and the scene is set.” Ghost Goal

UEFA Financial Fair Play On Radio 5: An Idoits Guidance

“There are times when it dawns on you just how dirt cheap the BBC licence is. It dawned on me most recently when I tried to calculate how much of a refund I would be due for 26 minutes, the length of the Radio 5 Live ‘Monday Night Club’ debate on Uefa’s ‘Financial Fair Play’ (FFP) regulations. To be fair to the BBC, any proper debate on Uefa’s complex but largely common sense regulations would need a full hour at least. However, even in thirty minutes – less the news and travel – I feel I had a right to expect more than this wretched, miserable attempt to address the issues involved. I’d equate the discussion produced by Steve Claridge, Ian McGarry and John Motson on January 17th with a closing time pub discourse but that would do a disservice to the quality of drunken debate.” twohundredpercent

Indefensible: Liverpool’s Defensive Woes.

Jamie Carragher
“Following the first two league games of the second Dalglish managerial era, something worrying occurred to me: in both games we had taken the lead, only to subsequently conceded twice and go behind. Don’t panic, this is not a rabid, foaming mouthed ‘DALGLISH OUT’ rant; rather a look at how Liverpool’s defensive record has shifted for the worse overall this season. I don’t profess to have all of the answers as to why, but I’ll share some relevant statistics I have in the aim of encouraging smarter people than me to get to the bottom of it. (While, at the same time, Liverpool’s new coaching and management structure work on addressing the problem.)” Tomkins Times

Baggio – Italy vs Czechoslovakia – 1990

“In this feature for the ‘My Favourite Goal’ series I’m going to bring you back to an era before the exotic world of Italian football was brought to our screens by James Richardson and the wonderful Football Italia on Channel 4. Italia 90 is widely regarded as the launchpad to the international stage of ‘Calcio’ and my favourite goal catapulted a young Italian with a rather dodgy mullet to worldwide stardom. The 23-year-old Roberto Baggio, who had remained on the sidelines for Italy’s two opening games of the group stages, made his World Cup debut against Czechoslovakia at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome – and, in the 77th minute, with one exquisite display of his talents, he scored a goal that Italian commentator Bruno Pizzul described as ‘a piece of art.’” Ghost Goal

Daniel Alves: more than a right-back

“Out for two weeks with a calf injury and locked in contract negotiations with Barcelona, now seems like a good time to assess the value of Daniel Alves. It’s long been a standard joke – or cliche, if you like – to say that an attacking full-back is “more of a winger than a full-back.” That’s particularly been true of Brazilian full-backs down the years – in recent times, most notably the combination of Cafu and Roberto Carlos, who started the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups in the full-back positions for Brazil.” Zonal Marking

The most famous Swede of the lot

“Ask 100 non Swedes who they think the most famous Swede is and you will get a variety of answers including Bjorn Borg, Abba, Britt Ekland and Alfred Nobel….ask the same question to Swedes and you will almost certainly get one name cropping up that you would not expect – Henrik Larsson. The striker who for so long was a fixture in the Celtic first eleven is idolised in the country, even more so announcing he would spend two seasons with his boyhood club Helsingborgs before he retired.” The Ball Is Round

What do we want? Transfers! When do we want them? NOW!!!

“The past week has been dominated with rumours of ongoing negotiations for the transfer of Ajax’s Luis Suarez to the Reds. The response to the rumours from fans, whilst generally positive about the prospects of the player joining, has seen a surprising number of demands for the club to pay whatever it takes, seemingly with little or no regard to the value placed upon the player by the club or any potential alternatives which may exist but of which we are not aware.” The Out of Towner