AC Milan’s ultimate anti-hero

November 29, 2012


Riccardo Montolivo
“At no other point in the previous two decades would a player like Riccardo Montolivo be captaining AC Milan. This is the club of Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, among the most celebrated captains in the history of European football. Montolivo leading out Milan for the match against Juventus on Sunday felt like a perfect example of Milan’s decline in quality and character.” ESPN – Michael Cox

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The Question: is Cristiano Ronaldo a strength or a weakness to a team?

November 29, 2012

“Real Madrid stand 11 points behind Barcelona in the league only 13 games into the season. They looked distinctly second best in taking just one point from two games in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund. Pressure is mounting, it seems, on José Mourinho: six previous Real Madrid managers have found themselves more than six points off the lead at this stage of the season; none have made it until May. Yet it may be that the criticism is being directed at the wrong Portuguese.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Mourinho’s future at center of coaching issues spanning Europe

November 29, 2012

“Coaches have been dominating the agenda across Europe this week, whether they are under pressure, like Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, or on sabbatical, like Pep Guardiola. Two Premier League clubs sacked their coaches last week, with their replacements receiving markedly different reactions. Here is a round-up of the latest from the managerial merry-go-round.” SI


Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea, plus more Premier League thoughts

November 27, 2012


“1. It’s all about Chelsea. This was a lively weekend in the Premier League. Manchester United came from behind to win again, beating Queens Park Rangers, 3-1, to regain first place. In another entertaining game, West Brom won 4-2 at Sunderland to climb to the oxygen-deprived heights of third. Arsenal followed emphatic victories over Tottenham and Montpellier with an utterly insipid performance at Aston Villa. The Gunners managed just one shot on target in a 0-0 draw. On Sunday, Clint Dempsey finally began to look comfortable with his new teammates, helping to set up two goals as Spurs rediscovered their mojo with a 3-1 home victory over a woeful West Ham. But none of these matches can alter the fact that this week has been all about one club: Chelsea.” SI


The Role of a Central Midfielder in a Possession Based Team

November 27, 2012

“Researching or studying football tactics can seem like an overwhelming task, simply because aside from the basic framework provided by the rulebook, so much else is left fluid. Formations, player roles, player positions, they all mean something different depending on the context and meaning of the speaker. Is a striker always a striker? What about when he’s a false nine? Is a midfielder always a midfielder? If his main job is to tackle and shield, wouldn’t that make him a defender? Football’s most loved characters and teams have been the ones that transcended the duties of their positions, rising to a higher plane. Franz Beckenbauer scoffed at the idea that a defender should be confined to a third of the pitch. Total Football placed players anywhere they could be useful. Positions are changing constantly, and by extension so are the players that fill them.” EPL Talk


Cameroon’s Théophile Abega was so intelligent they called him the doctor

November 27, 2012

“Some time towards the end of January, Théophile Abega stopped replying to my calls. I was in Equatorial Guinea, heading on to Cameroon, and was keen to meet him, partly to talk about the rivalry between Thomas N’kono and Joseph-Antoine Bell for my book on goalkeeping but mainly because, well, because he was Théophile Abega, one of the most skilful African midfielders of all time, the man who led Cameroon in 1984 to their first Cup of Nations triumph, scoring a brilliant goal in the final.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Tactical Analysis: What is going wrong at Newcastle?

November 27, 2012

“Newcastle finished in a very impressive fifth place finish last season, drawing plaudits from across the footballing World. After a recent dip in form and expectations, Pardew appeared to have brought Newcastle back to the upper echelons of the footballing elites, with one eye on potential Champions League spot. Memorable victories last season included an impressive 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge as well as a big 3-0 win at home to United.” Think Football