The Great Net Spend Rope Trick (And More Moneyballs)

August 30, 2011


“BACK in the dark days, when a Texan tyrant roamed free in the 2nd city of Empire, debt was the new black, and Liverpool football club was hurtling towards a never imagined abyss, its chief financier and ultimate unlikely knight in shining armour, the Royal Bank of Scotland, imposed upon the club the first in a series of double agents.” The Anfield Wrap

Money talks in the Premier League
“We are only three matches into the Premier League season, but already we’ve learned a fair bit about the teams and players. Here’s a look at how things are taking shape so far in the EPL.” ESPN


Barca and Futbol: A Widely Diverse People’s Passion

August 30, 2011

“I have always been envious of cigarette smokers – Not for the addiction and host of medical problems – no, my envy of smokers comes from a much more superficial and ridiculous place: parties. How often I’d sit at parties and want to start up a conversation with some strangers only to have absolutely nothing to break the ice with. What did I have in common with these strangers? “Nothing,” I thought, and alcohol can only lubricate a social situation so much.” In Bed With Maradona


Grantland Network: 8/30

August 30, 2011

“Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, the ‘Men in Blazers,’ make their Grantland Network debut breaking down the English Premier League.” ESPN


Premier League will test talented Coates

August 30, 2011

“On the verge of joining Liverpool, Uruguay centre back Sebastian Coates was last seen on the pitch in Buenos Aires celebrating victory in the Copa America, and then accepting an award for the best young player of the tournament. These are impressive credentials for a player who is not 21 until October. Coates is shaping up as a potential future captain of his country but, assuming the deal goes through, the challenge he now faces at club level is very different, and is surely going to stretch the youngster with the gangling frame.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Why Harry Redknapp is no longer the manager to take Spurs forward

August 30, 2011


“Let me preface this by saying that this blog post is not knee-jerk, it is not based purely off the back of two heavy defeats to the best two teams the English Premier League has to offer. These concerns have lingered and grown across the course of the last year, and this blog post is born out of the frustration that the issues I will discuss are rarely reported or deliberated in mainstream media. While one North London manager is pilloried in the press, another – whose team sits bottom of the league – sees his managerial ability remain unquestioned. Arsene Wenger has been heavily criticised in the wake of Arsenal’s 8-2 loss to Manchester United, and there have been calls for the “humiliated” manager’s head. But Harry Redknapp, who has guided his side to an 8-1 aggregate loss against the Manchester clubs, has received no such treatment.” One In The Hole


Good Day, Bad Day: Ronaldo’s Ben Stiller face & Soldado’s sexy Saturday

August 30, 2011

La Liga Loca can count at least seven reasons for an enormous smug cloud hanging above Barcelona after Monday night’s 5-0 win over Villarreal – a cloud so dense and orifice-clogging it may lead to mass evacuations.” FourFourTwo


Why PSV is better off with an offensive 4-3-3 formation

August 30, 2011

“Only six games into the season, PSV manager Fred Rutten has seen his side transform from a toothless bunch to a free scoring title contender. This post will first glance over the match tactics involved, in order to identify the positive changes made by Rutten, before taking a dive into some detailed match stats to illustrate the effects of Rutten’s tactical changes.” 11 tegen 11


The Blue & Whith: The Making of a Fanzine

August 30, 2011

“It’s funny how these things start off. A casual conversation with Neil, my brother, after a Chester game and a few months later there we were, fanzines in hand, selling as hard as we could. It had taken us around four months to launch the first issue of The Blue & White and after all the work we had put into it, we were desperate for it to be a success. It all came down to a few hours of standing outside the Exacta, hoping it stayed dry and that people would be interested enough to buy it.” In Bed With Maradona


Serie A Strikes (Back)

August 29, 2011


Saint Sébastien, Pietro Vannucci
“And so it has come to pass. The first week of Serie A 2011/2012 will not be played this weekend. An emergency meeting between the footballers and their trade union (AIC) leader Damiano Tommasi on one side and on the other, the presidents of the clubs, represented by Lega Serie A president Massimo Beretta and Cagliari’s Massimo Cellino (the League’s other representative Lazio’s Claudio Lotito couldn’t participate because of a ban until September over insulting the Italian Olympic Committee) was held on Wednesday, convened by Giancarlo Abete, president of the Italian football federation (FIGC).” In Bed With Maradona

Players’ strike delays the start of Serie A
“It has been in the air for some time but now it’s official. Italy’s Serie A will not start until the weekend of September 10 at the earliest as a result of an impasse involving the League, the clubs and the players’ union. (The other divisions will not be affected as yet, and Serie B has already started.) The issue revolves around a collective contract without which, according to the union, the season cannot start. There are two sticking points. One involves the recent austerity measures proposed by the government. They include additional taxes to be imposed on those earning more than €90,000 and €150,000 (£80k and £133k). The clubs say that the players should pay the tax.” WSC


ANALYSIS: Chelsea FC 3-1 Norwich City

August 29, 2011

“Chelsea weren’t particularly impressive against West Bromwich Albion in week two, but picked up the points regardless. The same went for their game against newly-promoted Norwich City on Saturday, which saw the Blues get off to a blistering start only to see woefully incompetent defending allow the Canaries back into the game before a late surge inspired by debutant Juan Mata allowed Chelsea to grab three points in what ultimately ended up being a comfortable 3-1 victory.” SB Nation


Sticking With Schaaf

August 29, 2011

“They say loyalty is a thing of the past in football. For example, VfL Wolfsburg have had five coaches in the past two seasons and are back with Felix Magath in charge for his first full season with the club since leaving just over two years ago. Everyone’s favourite short-term coach Armin Veh has coached six clubs in ten years and now finds himself in Bundesliga 2 with Eintracht Frankfurt. On the other hand, SV Werder Bremen are one club that can proudly claim to have stuck by a number of coaches in their recent history.” In Bed With Maradona


Expect the Unexpected – A Shock For All New Fans Of Ligue 1

August 29, 2011

“Ligue 1 is often forgotten behind Europe’s more illustrious leagues, but following this summer’s takeover by QSI at Paris Saint-Germain, the competition has been attracting more than its fair share of attention. With many European football fans now eager to see if there is a new power on the rise in France, PSG’s situation has brought in a number of French football debutants. With the league having been underway for three weeks now, first timers will have been struck by the fact that it is a surprising set of teams doing well so far.” the elastico


Weighted Eredivisie top scorers after four matches: Bony, Mulenga and Musa

August 29, 2011

“With four rounds of Eredivisie matches gone, and last season’s top three teams neatly topping the table already, it’s time to fill in one of the pre-season promises. At the end of last season a weighted top scorer metric was introduced, a metric that computes the amount of points each goal is expected to add to the team’s total, rather than simply valuing each goal equally.” 11 tegen 11


The Love Song Anthony Barton

August 29, 2011

“Let us go then, the reserves and I,
When the afternoon is spread out against the sky
Like Newcastle etherised upon the league table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted stands,
The muttering fans
Of Amsterdam…”
Run of Play


Barcelona 2 – 0 FC Porto

August 28, 2011


“Cesc Fabregas scored a brilliant volley to keep Barcelona’s non-stop victory parade going with a UEFA Super Cup triumph over Porto. Fabregas, on the bench until the last 10 minutes, took Lionel Messi’s pass on his chest before rifling home to spark scenes of wild celebration from his team-mates.” ESPN

Guardiola ends the European Super Cup final with six central midfielders
“Usually ZM looks at sides’ starting line-ups for matches, before assessing how the shape changed as the game went on. This is slightly different, however, because the interesting thing about Barcelona’s Super Cup win over Porto on Friday was the way they finished the game, with six central midfielders amongst the ten outfield players.” Zonal Marking


World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, August 26th

August 28, 2011

“Champions League draw. All eyes were on Monaco yesterday as the draw for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League took place. The annual ritual whereby Europe’s elite discover the identity of the fodder they will consume throughout the autumn months, has long since lost its lustre. However, big spending Manchester City ‘s entry into the competition for the first time, did at least offer the unusual prospect of one or two interesting group matches.” World Soccer (Video)


Tottenham 1-5 Manchester City: Dzeko scores four but City impressive across the pitch

August 28, 2011

“Manchester City produced an excellent performance to maintain their 100% start to the season. Harry Redknapp was forced to use Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric in the centre of midfield, whilst Peter Crouch got a start upfront. Roberto Mancini gave Samir Nasri his debut in place of James Milner, whilst Nigel de Jong missed out through injury. City were better in every department throughout this game.” Zonal Marking

Tottenham 1 – 5 Man City
“Edin Dzeko scored four times as he and debutant Samir Nasri helped Manchester City put Tottenham to the sword with a ruthless display of attacking football that secured a 5-1 win at White Hart Lane. Nasri supplied the crosses for Dzeko to score his first two goals and he also played his part in the run-up to Sergio Aguero’s strike, which made it 4-0 with half an hour to go.” ESPN


Liverpool 3 – 1 Bolton Wanderers

August 28, 2011

“Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam scored their first Liverpool goals as the Reds crushed Bolton 3-1 to move top of the Premier League. The summer signings struck either side of a powerful Martin Skrtel header as the hosts, inspired by the outstanding Luis Suarez, produced an electrifying performance at Anfield.” ESPN

Liverpool 3-1 Bolton
“Fluid attacking, solid defending, intense pressuring and high-scoring. It was a sublime performance from Liverpool. Kelly’s injury and Klasnic’s late consolation goal for Bolton were slight annoyance’s in an otherwise perfect day. Suarez was up to his usual mischief, running Bolton’s defenders ragged and creating some great chances. The beautiful cross with the outside of his foot eventually lead to Henderson’s first Liverpool goal, which was expertly finished.” Joshua Kearney


1990s Month: CIS and the Transformation of Eastern Europe

August 28, 2011

“The Commonwealth of Independent States came into existence as a direct result of the break up of the Soviet Union and the consequent state of confusion that such a grand occasion caused. When the newly appointed leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus convened to discuss where the newly sovereign nations of eastern Europe should turn next, the idea of an alliance between them began to take shape.” The Equaliser


Celtic’s Prince of Goalkeepers

August 26, 2011


“In early September, a theatre in Glasgow will host a production which focuses on the life of a former footballer who most of the audience will never have seen play. Their knowledge of John Thomson will have been gleaned from the occasional grainy piece of newsreel, anecdotes passed down through the generations, and media articles – they all tell the tale of a young man whose life was tragically cut short due to his bravery on the football field.” In Bed With Maradona


Serie A 2011-12 season preview

August 26, 2011

“And so the new Serie A season is upon us. Or rather it isn’t. After the league’s owners and its players failed to reach an agreement, it was confirmed on Friday morning that the scheduled first weekend of the season will be lost to strike action. How far things could go is anybody’s guess.” Guardian


Has the sun finally set on Javier Zanetti?

August 26, 2011

“Has Javier Zanetti’s international career finally come to an end? New Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella paid tribute to him last week – and then left him out of the squad to face Venezuela and Nigeria. He has forced his way back before after being dropped but at the age of 38 can he really come back again?” BBC – Tim Vickery


Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football

August 26, 2011


“From the war-ravaged streets of Sarajevo, where turning up for training involved dodging snipers’ bullets, to the crumbling splendor of Budapest’s Bozsik Stadium, where the likes of Puskas and Kocsis masterminded the fall of England, the landscape of Eastern Europe has changed immeasurably since the fall of communism. Jonathan Wilson has traveled extensively behind the old Iron Curtain, viewing life beyond the fall of the Berlin Wall through the lens of soccer. Where once the state-controlled teams of the Eastern bloc passed their way with crisp efficiency—a sort of communist version of total soccer—to considerable success on the European and international stages, today the beautiful game in the East has been opened up to the free market, and throughout the region a sense of chaos pervades.” amazon


Dirk Kuyt – Right for the Right?

August 26, 2011

“We all love the player that scores and gets assists. Those guys whose moments of genius at the end of an attacking move directly create the goals that get our teams to glory. And why not? The professionals, however – the coaches, the directors, the scouts, and so on – are capable of seeing things outside the box. Or, rather, inside the box. The large technical box of cogs and gears which power the team and allow those creative players to shine.” Tomkins Times


Hannover 1-1 Hertha BSC

August 26, 2011

“Hannover returned to the top of the Bundesliga table after drawing 1-1 with Hertha Berlin, but the Lower Saxony side will feel aggrieved that they dropped two points after referee Robert Hartmann ruled out a late winner. Negative Hertha deserved to go in at the interval 1-0 down, although Hannover lacked the creative spark that would have seen them put more goals past their lacklustre opponents in the opening 45 minutes. The visitors changed systems three times during a rejuvenated second half performance, and despite still not looking overly convincing, they did start to create chances thanks to a more positive mentality against a home side who tired after Thursday night’s 2-1 win over Sevilla in the Europa League.” Defensive Midfielder


The Under-20 World Cup: A Football League Perspective

August 26, 2011

“In June, Ben Piggott ran the rule over the fortunes of Football League players in that month’s European Under-21 Championship, with Aron Gunnarsson and Mikkel Andersen in particular enjoying less than fruitful campaigns. Now, the man behind the illustrations that adorn this website turns his attention to the recent Under-20 World Cup, a tournanment that has been covered expertly by Two Hundred Percent and ended up with a somewhat Lusophone finale…” thetwounfortunates


North of the Border

August 24, 2011


“Until his death in 2008 after a long illness, Eddie Thompson ensured Dundee United were competitive at the top of the group of teams below the Old Firm in the SPL. A supporter of the club, financially as well as in the stands of Tannadice even before he took control, he used his personal fortune to stretch the budget of United. It is a model of ownership and investment that relates to dozens of club in UK football and hundreds around the world.” ESPN


1990s Month: World Cup ’94 and the Footprint of the World’s Game

August 24, 2011

“Humans naturally grasp for simplicity and certainty. In the case of soccer in the United States, for the last decade, fans have held their breath, waiting for a watershed moment to shout exuberantly “Soccer has arrived!” Yet nobody feels tectonic plates shift. You just wake up one day and you live in South America, not Africa. The 1994 World Cup was wholly unremarkable in the sporting sense, yet indelibly left a footprint stateside. And that footprint led to a trail far removed from the “pick off-American football-fans” of the collapsed NASL.” The Equaliser


Andy Carroll grabs Liverpool’s third to cap routine win at Exeter City

August 24, 2011

“This was another of those occasions that confirmed how much more comfortable life is under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool succeeding where they failed last year by overcoming lower-league opposition to progress to the next round of the Carling Cup with the minimum of fuss. Daniel Nardiello scored a late penalty for Exeter City but Liverpool were strolling by that stage, following an outstanding display by Luis Suárez, who left the field to applause from all sides of the ground.” Guardian


Garrido uses Bruno Soriano at the back to help guide Villarreal through

August 24, 2011


Bruno Soriano
“Villarreal qualified for the Champions League last night with a 3-0 victory over Odense, sending them through 3-1 on aggregate. Pre-match teamsheets suggested that Villarreal would be lining up in a 3-4-3 shape, with Juan Oriol, Mateo Musacchio and new signing Cristian Zapata in a three-man defence. That seemed unlikely, since Oriol is an attacking left-back, but it was difficult to see quite how Juan Carlo Garrido was going to play.” Zonal Marking


Mata transfer to Chelsea doesn’t bode well for La Liga’s future

August 24, 2011

“Every time they say goodbye, La Liga dies a little. Now Juan Mata has signed for Chelsea from Valencia, just as Sergio Aguero signed for Manchester City from Atlético Madrid. For fans of City and Chelsea, the transfers are fantastically exciting, two great additions to two teams aspiring to win the Premier League. For the Spanish league, they are frightening. Despite the injection of around 75 million euros, the transfers are confirmation of a worrisome trend.” SI


The greatest disallowed goal of all time?

August 24, 2011

“Barcelona defeated Napoli 5-0 in the pre-season Joan Gamper Trophy at Camp Nou on Monday, Cesc Fábregas opening the scoring and Leo Messi knocking in a 15-minute second-half hat-trick. But it could all have been so different for the Italians.” Guardian


The changing of the guard

August 24, 2011

“Should reports in the blogosphere be believed, Netherlands will climb to the top of the new FIFA World Ranking when it is released on Wednesday. This changing of the guard comes as current leaders Spain have lost three friendlies since they were crowned world champions last summer, while the Dutch have been undefeated since. Obviously, it is just statistics, but it is an indication of the progress the team has made since the appointment of coach Bert van Marwijk after Euro 2008.” ESPN


The Day We Went To Belgrade

August 22, 2011


“Stefano peers out at the sparsely-populated stadium from under his disapproving brow. To our left and right stand two entirely empty curve, where the hardcore home and away ultras would normally be. In front of us is the tiny posh stand where OFK Beograd’s directors and WAGs gather, while most of the couple of hundred fans who have bothered to show up are sat alongside us in the main stand, which is set into a hill and towers over the rest of the ground.” In Bed With Maradona


Tactical observations from Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool

August 22, 2011

“With his feet up and tapas in convenient reach, Cesc Fábregas would have been watching Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat to Liverpool with more than a bit of familiarity about it. While a makeshift and inexperienced team performed admirably, they always looked like they needed something special – someone special – to lift them. That burden often fell on Fábregas but on Saturday, he was able to sit back at home safe in the knowledge that he had chewed out of the bear trap that had began to stagnate him.” Arsenal Column

Pass, Move, Goal – Victory Over Arsenal
“Strangely, there seemed to be a fair amount of negativity from a fair few fans after Liverpool’s victory over Arsenal. Perhaps the Gunners’ problems had been overplayed to the point where there was a sense that the Reds were going to face some mid-table side.” Tomkins Times

Arsene Wenger & the Complex Current Frailty of Arsenal
“Pathetic fallacy is the use, by a writer, of words that give human feelings or qualities to objects or in nature. It reached, perhaps, the zenith of its usage in the gothic novels of the late eighteenth century, and one cannot help but wonder whether the likes of Bram Stoker or Mary Shelley might have been looking down approvingly on Saturday lunchtime as the heavens opened, both literally and metaphorically, upon Arsenal’s season. As London was washed by an unseasonable shower of rain, so were Arsenal swept aside by Liverpool, and in doing so, a trickle of criticism has become a torrent, to the extent that it is possible that the club’s season may evencome sliding to a halt before it has had the chance to build any momentum.” twohundredpercent


Italy preview: the usual suspects of debt, match-fixing, scandal

August 22, 2011

“As we set off for the new season, it is again a case of rounding up a number of the usual suspects in the shape of polemics, a betting scandal and hardy annuals such as Totti and Juve’s Alessandro Del Piero. One new element in the Italian firmament this season, however, will be an American-owned Roma for which Baldini has been recruited as an experienced guide. As he assesses his return to an Italian football world he left six years ago, Baldini underlines some uncomfortable home truths about the contemporary Italian scene.” World Soccer


Spain preview: chasing clubs paying the price

August 22, 2011


“Like two immense superpowers, Real Madrid and Barcelona keep on piling up the arms in the race to outdo each other. Football may never have seen two squads like this head-to-head before and the battle looks set to be fascinating. It may also turn downright nasty again.” World Soccer


Bodies of Evidence

August 22, 2011

“The human mania for classification manifests itself in countless ways, and one of the more peculiar is somatotyping: organizing people by body shape, usually with the belief that there’s some correlation between body shape and personality. These types tend to come in threes.” Run of Play


La Révision: Lyon and Bordeaux held, Lille and PSG victorious

August 22, 2011

“Indiscipline seemed to be the theme of the week in Ligue 1, with no less than five red cards shown over the course of the weekend. There were some strong challenges but thankfully they were balanced out by some superb goals.” stv


Arsenal 0 – 2 Liverpool

August 20, 2011


“Liverpool recorded their first away win over Arsenal since 2000 to heap more misery on the Gunners – who saw Emmanuel Frimpong sent off and lost injured centre-back Laurent Koscielny in a 2-0 defeat at Emirates Stadium. Samir Nasri impressed for the Gunners, despite being expected to join Manchester City, but Arsenal’s luck was out after Aaron Ramsey’s own goal and a last-minute strike from substitute Luis Suarez handed the visitors victory.” ESPN

Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool: Frimpong red card and Liverpool substitutions change the game
“An Aaron Ramsey own goal and Luis Suarez’s tap-in gave Liverpool their first league win of the season. Arsene Wenger was forced to play Samir Nasri despite his imminent transfer. Emmanuel Frimpong replaced the suspended Alex Song, and various injuries in defence meant that Carl Jenkinson started at right-back, with Bacary Sagna on the left. Kenny Dalglish left out Luis Suarez for fitness reasons, so Dirk Kuyt started on the right. Behind him was Martin Kelly, chosen over John Flanagan.” Zonal Marking

Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2: More woe for Wenger as Dalglish’s men strike late to grab victory

“Liverpool recorded their first away win over Arsenal since 2000 to heap more misery on the Gunners – who saw Emmanuel Frimpong sent off and lost injured centre-back Laurent Koscielny in a 2-0 defeat at Emirates Stadium. Samir Nasri impressed for the Gunners, despite being expected to join Manchester City, but Arsenal’s luck was out after Aaron Ramsey’s own goal and a last-minute strike from substitute Luis Suarez handed the visitors victory.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2028181/Arsenal-0-Liverpool-2-More-woe-Wenger-Dalglishs-men-strike-late-grab-victory.html”>DailyMail

Frugal proves folly for Wenger
“It took just a 20-minute cameo from super-sub Luis Suarez to show Arsenal’s increasingly disillusioned fans and their under-fire manager exactly what sort of tangible result can be produced when a heavy investment is made. After watching Suarez’s telling contribution as a 71st-minute substitute in leading Liverpool to a 2-0 win, even the prudent Arsene Wenger must surely be willing to admit that, at £22.5 million, the Uruguayan represents the sort of ‘value in the market’ that he regularly claims is so elusive.” ESPN

Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger appeals for calm after Liverpool defeat
“Appealing for calm, Arsène Wenger said: “We live in circumstances where every defeat is absolutely a disgrace – an earthquake.” But there was no mistaking the tremors after Liverpool’s 2-0 victory as the Arsenal manager’s troubled team face the second leg of a Champions League qualifier against Udinese on Wednesday and a visit to Manchester United at the weekend.” Guardian


Heaps of Woe

August 20, 2011

“The ancient Greeks were a wonderful people, whose reliance on slaves and women to do all the actual work meant they could devote themselves to increasing the size of their brains, and then devote those gigantic brains to the asking of brilliantly pointless questions, many of which still entertain and irritate philosophy students today.” Run of Play


1990s Month: Remembering Euro ’96

August 20, 2011

“Euro ’96. It’s easy to look back with fondness on the tournament which was billed as “Football comes home”, a slogan paraphrased in David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds’ huge anthem “Three Lions”. I was fifteen at the time, and being over six feet tall and the proud owner of both a fake ID and a bum fluff beard, it was the first tournament that I watched in the pub.” The Equaliser


Mourinho tries to counter Messi’s false nine role by pushing Carvalho up the pitch

August 18, 2011


David Villa
“One of the notable features from the second leg of the Spanish Supercopa was the positioning of Ricardo Carvalho, and his response to Lionel Messi’s movement into deep, slightly right-sided positions. Messi tore Real apart in the 5-0 win last season, despite it being a rare occasion where he didn’t end up on the scoresheet. Real tried to play high up the pitch, but Messi played so deep that Jose Mourinho didn’t know how to deal with him – the two centre-backs stayed in position, but holding a high line. Therefore, Messi could receive the ball in space, turn, then send a ball through to one of the wide forwards coming inside. His two assists for David Villa’s goals were perfect, displaying exactly why Pep Guardiola wants to play Messi in that role.” Zonal Marking

Cesc Fábregas starts with a night to remember at Barcelona
“Cesc Fábregas’s first big night out since returning to his home town ended in a fight but it also ended in celebration. The former Arsenal captain has collected his first trophy as a Barcelona player, just two days after joining the club. It was 1am when he was parading round the Camp Nou pitch with new team-mates and old friends carrying the Spanish Super Cup, snatched from Real Madrid’s grasp in dramatic fashion. At last the clásicos were something approaching a classic – some way from the four games in 18 days that these teams played last season.” Guardian

José Mourinho describes Barcelona as ‘a small team’ in post-match rant
“Real Madrid’s manager, José Mourinho, has continued his verbal attack on Barcelona, labelling the European champions “a small team” after Wednesday night’s Supercopa second-leg defeat at Camp Nou. Another fantastic spectacle between the two Spanish sides was again overshadowed by the antics of Mourinho, who thrust a finger in the eye of Barça’s assistant coach, Tito Vilanova, in a melee in the closing stages.” Guardian – (Video)

José Mourinho turned to violence against Barça to mask his own failure
“Barcelona’s vision has been a problem for José Mourinho ever since he took the Real Madrid job, so gouging the eye of a Barça coach in the latest melee between the two clubs was a Shakespearian act of desperation by a manager now working outside the laws and spirit of the game.” Guardian


Brazil fail to rediscover winning formula

August 18, 2011

“One of my favourite pieces of football writing is by the splendid Argentine coach Angel Cappa, a romantic of the old school, reflecting on his good fortune at being in Spain to watch Brazil’s midfield in the 1982 World Cup.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Romanov’s Battle For Hearts And Minds

August 18, 2011


“Oscar Wilde, the famous Irish playwright, was not known for his love of sport, but his warning “to expect the unexpected” could certainly apply to the world of football, not least at Heart of Midlothian, where the colourful owner Vladimir Romanov continues to resist the path of predictability. Just two games into the Scottish Premier League (SPL), the volatile Lithuanian decided to sack the club’s manager Jim Jefferies, replacing him with the former Sporting Lisbon manager Paulo Sérgio. The popular Jefferies was in his second spell as Hearts manager after a ten-year absence, retaining much goodwill for delivering the Scottish Cup in 1998, ending 36 years without a trophy.” Swiss Ramble


Arsenal 1-0 Udinese: Early Walcott goal gives Arsenal the advantage

August 18, 2011

“Udinese constantly threatened on the counter-attack but failed to beat Wojciech Szczesny. Arsene Wenger brought in Theo Walcott and Maroune Chamakh for Andrei Arshavin and the suspended Robin van Persie. Francesco Guidolin ditched last season’s 3-5-1-1 for a more conventional 4-1-4-1 shape, with plenty of midfield runners trying to link up with Antonio Di Natale. This was open and exciting, yet tense and nervous at the same time. It would have been interesting to see Udinese really go for it in the second half, but with the comfort of a second leg back in Udine, they never really committed enough men forward to overload Arsenal at the back.” Zonal Marking


La Liga 2011-12 season preview

August 18, 2011

“You can tell the season is about to start when it might not be about to start after all. With barely a fortnight to go, the Spanish players’ union called a strike over more than €50m of unpaid wages and on Wednesday morning another meeting between the league and the players’ union, the AFE, broke down. According to the AFE president José Luis Rubiales, in the last two years alone 200 players have been affected by salaries that have gone unpaid. So, here we are: three days to go and there’s no football.” Guardian


Corruption, Murder, and the Beautiful Game

August 16, 2011


“On December 2, 2010, FIFA president Sepp Blatter stood before a giant blue screen at his organization’s headquarters in Zurich and announced the two countries that had won the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. After hours of presentations and last-ditch lobbying efforts from Prince William, David Beckham, Morgan Freeman, and Bill Clinton, FIFA’s 24-man executive committee — down to 22 after two members were caught trying to sell their votes to undercover journalists — had elected Russia and Qatar to follow Brazil as the next hosts of soccer’s biggest tournament.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

Today in Low-Altitude Eroticism
“I already posted this on Twitter, but some things need to be enshrined for posterity. Like my favorite page from FIFA’s 2009 Financial Report…” Run of Play

FIFA President Urged to Start Process of Radical Governance Reforms
“Anti-corruption organisation Transparency International is urging FIFA president Sepp Blatter to scrap his plans to reform football’s governing body from within and appoint a multi-stakeholder group to oversee comprehensive governance reforms.” World Football INSIDER

Sepp Blatter
“Joseph S. Blatter[1] (born 10 March 1936), commonly known as Sepp Blatter, is a Swiss football administrator, who serves as the 8th and current President of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). He was elected on 8 June 1998, succeeding João Havelange. He was re-elected as President in 2002, 2007, and 2011. Despite winning four terms as President, Blatter has often been dogged by controversy and allegations of corruption.” Wikipedia


Eight points on Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona

August 16, 2011

“The 2011/12 Spanish season started with an open, exciting Supercopa first leg between Barcelona and Real. Like the Community Shield, a full-scale analysis of a semi-competitive fixture would be a little much, so here are eight talking points from the game…” Zonal Marking


Serie A clubs build to take on champions AC Milan

August 16, 2011

“Italian football has experienced a summer of new and old scandals, of threatened player strikes (again) and a transfer market so far more notable for its departures than arrivals. Champions Milan have enjoyed a happier pre-season than in recent years: coach Massimiliano Allegri has just signed an improved contract and, while vice-president Adriano Galliani’s constant talk suggesting the imminent arrival of a ‘Mr X’ has been somewhat self-defeating, reinforcements for the back four (Philippe Mexès in the centre, Taye Taiwo on the left) bode well.” WSC


EPL clubs must rethink preseason

August 16, 2011

“After a long summer, the start to the Premier League season was a slight anticlimax. It was good to have football back, of course, but in terms of action, things were rather disappointing; few goals, a lack of shots on target and three 0-0s. Maybe that is normal. Players were naturally rusty after a couple of months off. Except this wasn’t normal, because the weekend saw fewer goals than any previous opening weekend in the Premier League’s 20-year history.” ESPN


Mineirão, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

August 16, 2011

“One of the 2014 World Cup stadiums in Brazil, the Mineirão (official name Governor Magalhães Pinto Stadium), is undergoing a drastic renovation to bring the historic venue in Belo Horizonte up to modern standards. First opened in 1965, it has been closed since June 2010 and is expected to be ready by mid-2013. Here’s the rendering of the new look…” Stadium Porn


1990s Month: Reminiscences of a Scot in the Nineties

August 15, 2011


“I am in my mid twenties, my earliest football memories are from the middle of that decade, of ‘cool Britannia’ and of ‘Britpop’. In 1994, Raith Rovers beat the mighty Celtic in the final of the Coca-Cola Cup. I have no recollection of the game itself, only a picture in my head of people clad in dark blue, celebrating wildly. I remember the contrasting emotions, of joy on one side, of despair on the other, only disbelief uniting blue and green.” The Equaliser


Big Box United

August 15, 2011

“Of all the people on the train, the one I wanted to talk to the most was the middle-aged man with the graying goatee, traveling with wife and two children. He and his son were wearing Chelsea jerseys. It’s not rare to see folks around Chicago in soccer gear, but considering this train and most of its occupants were heading toward Soldier Field, where Manchester United were to take on the Chicago Fire, those two made out of Amazon boxesbold blue shirts stuck out. I tried to catch up with them as we disembarked, but couldn’t weave through the crowd quickly enough without them or someone else.” Run of Play


The Wasps Searching For Their Sting

August 15, 2011

“It was November 21st, 1999. The setting for The Bell’s Scottish Challenge Cup Final was Airdrie United’s Excelsior Stadium, which was only opened a year before. The freezing cold North Lanarkshire air was spiced with anticipation. There was a slaughtering wind and a furious rain accompanying the night but Terry Christie’s Alloa Athletic and Steve Paterson’s Inverness Caledonian Thistle were in no mood to let the ghastly weather conditions ruin the momentous occasion.” In Bed With Maradona


If This Is a Fan

August 15, 2011

“On a busy London street, two Ancient Greek philosophers from 1980s Brazil happen upon one another. They are dressed in particularly fetching togas, with yellow tops and blue bottoms. It’s confusing, but not in a bad way.” Run of Play


Montpellier smash and grab leaves Lille wanting to leave August behind

August 15, 2011

“Lille’s record for August matches against French teams under coach Rudi Garcia now stands at 11 games without a win, after the Ligue 1 champions were beaten 1-0 at home to Montpellier on Sunday night. What was a quirky stat is fast becoming an issue, and Garcia’s pre-match joke that his team would be underdogs – ‘Montpellier are the team that always wins in August while we always lose in August’ – does not sound so funny now.” Guardian


Liverpool 1 – 1 Sunderland

August 14, 2011


“Striker Luis Suarez gave Liverpool the perfect start to their season but they wasted the opportunity to press home their advantage as they were pegged back by Sunderland. With £49 million worth of new signings on the pitch there was a feeling of optimism around Anfield and it was therefore fitting Suarez, the January acquisition who ignited the second half of last season, should score the first goal of the new Premier League campaign.” ESPN

Henry Winter: Liverpool’s new boys appear ready for the Anfield revolution
“Sometimes it can take time for new players to settle. In that feted Liverpool side, Peter Beardsley really shone only after Christmas. As Aldridge looked down from the radio box yesterday, and Dalglish attempted to marshal his resources from the dug-out, Liverpool’s new boys sought to live up to a famous tradition. Unlike in 1987-88, it will not happen overnight. Time, gentlemen, please.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Downing on the right? Meirelles on the left? The spirit of Rafa Benitez lives on…
“One of the most maddening things about Liverpool under Rafa Benitez was his frustrating penchant for playing square pegs in round holes (Peter Crouch on the left-wing, anyone?). After today’s disappointing draw with Sunderland, let’s hope history is not going to repeat itself under Kenny Dalglish. I grew up idolising Dalglish so I wouldn’t presume to question the King’s tactics; however, I just can’t understand the decision to move Downing to the right and play Raul Meirelles on the left wing for the last part of the game.” Liverpool Kop

Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland: Suarez Penalty Miss Proves Costly
“It’s the start of a new season, and for a soccer fan in America, it means setting the alarm extra early (or waking up on your own two hours early, shaking with excitement), putting on a pot of coffee, playing the appropriate tunes, and participating in rabid Twitter discussions on the coming match. The first one of the season is always special, as it seems to se the tone for at least the first half of the season.” EPL Talk

Andy Carroll still looking to let out his inner monster for Liverpool
“In January’s great striker sale, £85m worth of goalscoring talent passed through Anfield. Fernando Torres went out for £50m and Andy Carroll came in to break the record fee for an English footballer. There is no certainty of a return on either splurge. Starting a new campaign in the No9 jersey, Carroll was sometimes lumbering, off-target with his heading and often loose in his distribution of the ball. This is not to say that the £35m bank-transferred from Liverpool to Newcastle United is already burning around the edges. Plenty of good judges say this giant pony-tailed bruiser is England’s next top-class centre-forward.” Guardian

Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland
“Liverpool started off with an excellent first half performance – dominating possession, attacking and defending at a high tempo which Sunderland couldn’t cope with. Suarez missed a penalty he himself had won – Richardson brought him down – before heading in Adam’s freekick. The second half was not good enough – Liverpool were too deep and couldn’t keep the ball. Maybe due to the first half effort, the high tempo tired the players out, resulting in a much slower second half. It could have been a very different outcome had Richardson been sent off and if Carroll’s goal had stood in the first half.” Footy Room – Video


Fabregas’ move to Barcelona is best for all parties concerned

August 14, 2011

“Mid-August and Cesc Fabregas still hasn’t left the building. He didn’t leave it for Malaysia, he didn’t leave it for China and he didn’t leave it for Germany. Most importantly of all, he hasn’t yet left it for Barcelona. Just two days until the start of the Premier League season, four days until yet another clásico is upon us, and we wait for a final resolution. The good news is that there has been progress — this looks set to be finally over soon. Very soon.” SI


Man United still the favorite as Premier League readies for kickoff

August 14, 2011

“The new Barclays Premier League season is upon us and the teams are jockeying for position on the starting line. Here are my thoughts on how the pack is likely to break up this season: the top six, the bottom five, and the tight bunch in the middle. The clubs are not necessarily listed in order but I’m tipping Manchester United to take the title…” SI