Arsène’s austerity

January 26, 2013

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“‘Spend some f****** money!’ Arsenal fans chanted as their team lost again last Sunday at Chelsea. The cry echoed around the world on Twitter. Its target, Arsenal’s manager Arsène Wenger, had heard the argument before. Wenger, now 63, arrived at Arsenal in 1996 and led the club for eight glorious seasons. He has since led them for eight inglorious ones. Arsenal have won no trophies since 2005, and now stand a miserable sixth in the Premier League. The Frenchman is becoming a figure of derision. Many fans complain that Wenger refuses to buy the expensive players who could compete with Chelsea, Manchester United, or Barcelona, even though Arsenal have £153.6m in cash, an unheard-of sum for a football club. (Management firm Deloitte estimated last year that Premier League clubs had cumulative debts of £2.4bn.) Supporters are urging him to buy before the winter ‘transfer window’ closes on Thursday. He stands accused of practising football’s version of austerity – at a club that looks a model of financial good health.” FT – Simon Kuper


‘Mourinho or us’ report raises issues about Real Madrid, media

January 26, 2013

” Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez walked into the room at 1:01 p.m., looked up at the hundred-strong pack of journalists, the TV cameras pointing his way, and positioned himself behind the microphone. Then he made an announcement: ‘I am,’ he said, ‘going to break my own rule.’ The story was about to become the story. And as it unraveled, there was a brief glimpse of power and politics; the entente cordial was broken, and a battle began.” SI


Goalkeeper scores spot-kick to save Zambia

January 26, 2013

“Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene netted a late penalty after Nigeria missed one against him in the first half to rescue the defending champions from defeat at the Africa Cup of Nations on Friday. The 1-1 draw at the Mbombela Stadium between the two heavyweights in Group C leaves both teams perilously placed without a win but still with a chance to grab a quarter-final place early next week.” Four Four Two

Dropping Drogba pays off on dark day for the continent
“Drastic changes have yielded dramatic results in the tournament so far and the Ivory Coast were the latest team to benefit from that. Sabrui Lamouchi took a massive gamble when he decided to drop the talismanic Didier Drogba to the bench and replace him with Lacina Troare, but his team now sit on the cusp of the quarterfinals as a result.” ESPN

Highlights: Zambia 1-1 Nigeria
ESPN – Highlights: Zambia 1-1 Nigeria (Video)


The Soaring Blue and Black Lions

January 26, 2013

“A short drive south of Rome is a rather curious city, so very Italian and yet in all of Italy there exists no other city like it. It is a city whose football club has never before gone beyond the third division and yet which has produced one of Italy’s greatest ever goalscorers and one of the jewels in Maradona’s Napoli. But if you haven’t heard of Latina and its blue and black lions, perhaps you soon will. The team is within touching distance of playing in Serie B for the very first time. Latina lies less than an hour south of Rome along the historic Via Appia and is a very atypical city; rich in history and yet less than 100 years old. Founded by the Benito Mussolini-led Fascist regime in 1932, it was first named Littoria (after the fascio littorio) and was a grand symbol of the regime’s nation building program.” In Bed With Maradona


Can Pep Guardiola transfer his tika-taka style of play to Bayern Munich?

January 26, 2013

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“Bayern Munich officially announced last week that they had hired Pep Guardiola to manage the illustrious club next season. Bayern’s interest in Guardiola wasn’t a secret. Last June Sport-Bild cited news of a meeting between then-sporting director Christian Nerlinger and Pep’s brother and agent, Pere Guardiola. But the news has shocked many pundits in the UK, who believed (somewhat arrogantly)that Pep was destined for a job in the Premier League.” Think Football


Riots kill 27 after fans sentenced to death

January 26, 2013

“CAIRO — At least 27 people, including two soccer players and two policemen, are dead after angry relatives and residents rampaged through an Egyptian port city Saturday after a judge sentenced nearly two dozen soccer fans to death for involvement in deadly violence after a game last year. The violence in Port Said erupted after a judge sentenced 21 people to death in connection with the Feb. 1 soccer melee that killed 74 fans of the Cairo-based Al-Ahly team.” ESPN (Video)


An Ayre of confidence at Liverpool

January 26, 2013

“Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre is a man who believes slow and steady wins the race. His club have recently emerged as one of the Premier League’s form teams. Only the Manchester sides and Chelsea have gained more points since the beginning of December. Buoyed by the extra gear Daniel Sturridge has provided alongside the effervescent Luis Suarez, Liverpool has shaken off an inconsistent start to the season and are now just seven points off the Champions League places. Yet the lifelong Liverpool fan was reluctant to dream about the possibility.” ESPN