Champions League: Arsenal’s draw underlines need to spend

“If Arsenal’s deadline-beating transfer activity is once again going to be unflatteringly compared to a trolley dash, there is every chance the wheels picked up speed after the Champions League group-stage draw in Monaco.” BBC


No, NBC’s Premier League Deal Doesn’t Mean America Loves Soccer Now

“Last weekend, on August 17, NBC launched its new coverage of the English Premier League, after paying $250 million for the television rights to every soccer match played in the EPL over the next three years. Fox had been paying a third of that price to air a much smaller slate of games than NBC will. NBC’s execs seemed to have made a big gamble, betting that flooding the American market with English soccer would draw casual viewers in, boost NBC’s ratings, and increase the sport’s exposure in the U.S. The reward was the highest overnight rating in U.S. history for a Premier League season opener.” The Atlantic

Tactical Analysis: Is Michael Carrick key for Manchester United against Liverpool?

“Michael Carrick has emerged as a key player for Manchester United in recent seasons. The English man has often failed to get the recognition he deserves as he has become the mainstay in what can at times be a thread bare United midfield. Against Liverpool though he’ll have a tough job on his hands as he sits deep against three mobile and possession based midfielders.” Think Football

German teams to face tough oppositions in the Europa League

“Today’s Europa League draw in Monaco ended in disappointment for VfB Stuttgart. The Swabians had a chance to be drawn as the team replacing Fenerbace Istanbul, but were unlucky. The two German teams were also handed tough oppositions in the group stage, but both Eintracht Frankfurt and SC Freiburg are in with a good shout of surviving the group stages. Christian Streich’s Breisgau Brazilians have probably been handed the toughest draw out of the two German teams. Freiburg are going to face off against two-time Uefa Cup winners FC Sevilla, three-time Czech champions Slovan Liberec and GD Estoril. Frankfurt on the other hand side are facing 6 times French champions and Uefa Cup finalists Girondins Bordeaux, 2012 Champions League quarter finalists APOEL Nicosia and Maccabi Tel Aviv.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Top Tenner: Violent derbies

10 — Liverpool v Manchester United — Premier League, 2009: While the two sendings off in this 2-0 win for Liverpool happened in the 89th and 90th minutes, thus rendering them slightly irrelevant to the result of the game, the recipients of those red cards are worth noting. Something about this fixture clearly makes the blood of Nemanja Vidic and Javier Mascherano rise, for the pair managed to get themselves sent off five times between them, and in this Anfield encounter they both received their marching orders. One pictures them standing together in the tunnel, glancing at each other with a couple of ‘One of those days’ looks on their faces.” ESPN

Statistical Analysis: How badly do Manchester United need to sign a new winger?

“Manchester United are a side that has traditionally played with a lot of width. From George Best, to David Beckham, through to Cristiano Ronaldo and even the ever present Ryan Giggs, the club have always possessed quality wingers in abundance. That however has not been the case in the last two seasons or so. United’s wingers have gone from being a primary strength to arguably their greatest weakness. So does David Moyes need to sign a new winger for United?” Think Football

Premier League fans have been put out of the picture by 3D cameras

“The joy of such enthusiastically delivered news might be lost on some of those fans actually present. Sixty season ticketholders have been moved from their favoured habitat. This new £3 billion Premier League television deal comes at a cost for the match goer. Caring clubs are seeking to accommodate them in other parts of the stadium but fans are creatures of habit, wanting the same familiar routes, gangways, characters, seats, neighbours. It is like breaking up a good party, or even family. Television grows ever more powerful and demanding. More games are being screened in more countries with more cameras, some of them of the bulky, space-commanding 3D variety.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Manchester United, Chelsea play to a defensive stalemate

“After a couple of years of harum-scarum goalfests between the big sides, Monday’s meeting between Manchester United and Chelsea was a return to attrition. It’s dangerous always to read too much into one game, but the indications are that defending is back at the top level of the English game — and it may be that that leads to improved performances in the Champions League. Many will suggest that is the influence of the return of Jose Mourinho, and it is true that he has no qualms about playing reactive football, but the stalemate at Old Trafford was just as much to do with the approach of David Moyes.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea- Tactical Analysis
“A game between United and Chelsea is always monumental. This particular fixture, the first big game of the season, was further intensifying, as it marked David Moyes debut as United boss at the Old Trafford. Mourinho returned to the scene of some of his greatest successes, and with all the speculation surrounding Wayne Rooney (involving the two clubs), the game was further spiced up. The final score of Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea seemed a fair result, a scoreline that both sides played for and will be content with. Neither would particularly like to drop too many points this early in the Premier League season.” Outside of the Boot

Named And Shamed

“‘Hi Uli,’ Michael wrote. ‘I came across SC Westfalia Herne, the first team of Hans Tilkowski. That was quite surprising. I consider myself very knowledgeable on German football, but never heard about this club before.’ He added: ‘Checked the internet and found out that you, most probably, have never written about it. So here is an idea — maybe you should. I’d like to know more about them.'” ESPN

Kolo Touré shows signs of recovery at Liverpool after decline

Kolo Toure
“Usually when players decline it is a process so slow that at first it is almost imperceptible: a fraction slow to react here, slightly late to a challenge there, occasionally outmuscled or outpaced in a way they never used to be. Sometimes it is to do with age, sometimes with injury, sometimes form and confidence is eroded and never returns. With Kolo Touré, though, you can pinpoint the moment of crisis absolutely.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Will Hughes: A Derby Fan On Liverpool’s Next Great Attacking Midfielder

“Will Hughes takes little spotting on the pitch. He stands out with his blonde hair as you would expect. You can use the word ‘shock’ if you like. He’s got hair that stands out on the football pitch like Robbie Savage or Jason Roberts used to do. He wears bright boots (but then again don’t all footballers these days?) but the days of plain black unless you were a real star (step forward Alan Hinton and Alan Ball) are long, distant memories…” Sabotage Times

Celtic’s fightback against Inverness shows we can beat Shakhter Karagandy, says Scott Brown

“Unless Celtic’s players produce their best performance of the campaign to dislodge Shakhter Karagandy from their 2-0 advantage at the halfway stage of the Champions League play-offs, it looks as though inspiration will have to come from another capacity crowd in the east end of Glasgow when the Kazakhs arrive for the return on Wednesday.” Telegraph

Marek Hamsik’s creativity ideal for Rafa Benitez’s Napoli revolution

Marek Hamsik
“It has been an exciting summer of coaching changes across Europe: The top seven favourites for the Champions League, the top three in England, the top two in Spain, plus the champions of France, Germany and Portugal all started 2013-14 with a new manager. In Italy, somewhat surprisingly, it’s been quieter. Of last season’s top four, Juventus’ Antonio Conte, Milan’s Max Allegri and Fiorentina’s Vincenzo Montella remain in their positions having performed extremely impressively, albeit in different ways, last season.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)

Coping with Caspian winds of change: How are Anzhi Makhachkala evolving this season?

“When Suleyman Kerimov took over Anzhi in January 2011, there was little immediate interest from the wider footballing world. When Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos made his way to the Makhachkala club just a month later, the deal made the sports pages in a number of nations, but largely for the same reasons – Carlos was long past his best, looking for one last pay-day, and abuse received at Corinthians was the perfect excuse for him to move to Russia for comfortable semi-retirement.” Think Football

A Sardinian Summer: The Forgotten Story Of the Chicago Mustangs

“Cagliari Calcio are an altogether unremarkable football club. For much of their existence they have been a yo-yo team, alternating between promotion and relegation and oftentimes languishing in the rustic depths of the Serie C, the third tier of Italian football. In their 93 years of existence they have conquered just one piece of silverware, a lone Scudetto won in 1970. In those brief glory years they were led by the inspirational Gigi Riva, the all-time leading goalscorer of the Italian National team. Since their latest promotion to the top flight in 2004 they have managed to stave off relegation but have been in a perpetual state of purgatory; too far off the top to the table to harbor realistic European ambitions, yet too far from the bottom to risk a return to Serie B. Their record is, for the most part, unexceptional. Yet in a curious episode long forgotten in the annals of football history, for a brief period of time they were known as the Chicago Mustangs. For one fleeting summer, Cagliari Calcio, the team from the picturesque Mediterranean island of Sardinia, used Comiskey Park on the South Side of Chicago as their home ground. This is their story.” In Bed With Maradona

Trautmann and Germany

City’s Bert Trautmann is knocked out during their FA Cup final in 1956
“After the passing of Bernhard ‘Bert’ Trautmann mid-July the obituaries appeared to reduce his life to 2 facts: the re-education of a former Nazi simply by the kindness and humility of the British people and the 1956 FA Cup Final. For Trautmann himself, this was not very particularly pleasing as he stated repeatedly.” Do not mention the war

The pratfalls of moving abroad

“In a couple of weeks, when Australia travels to meet Brazil, Mile Jedinak may well be locked in midfield battle with Paulinho – just as the two were last Sunday at Selhurst Park. I was in the crowd for the opening weekend of the season clash between newly promoted Crystal Palace and a Tottenham team rebuilt in a bid to make into next year’s Champions League. On his competitive debut Paulinho had a solid enough game as Tottenham won by the only goal. But in an outgunned side, Jedinak was a candidate for man of the match. The Socceroos’ central midfielder had an excellent game shielding the Palace centre backs. He was so quick to spot any danger to his side, allowing him to snuff out any number of Tottenham attacks. In possession he did his best to knit the side together with safe, crisp distribution.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Bundesliga turns 50: Konietzka will never be forgotten

“Lothar Emmerich throws his hands in the air. SV Werder Bremen ‘keeper Klaus Lambertz, his head towards the goal-line, has been beaten by Friedhelm ‘Timo’ Konietzka, who turns away celebrating. A Bremen player is down on the ground, shocked. The old stadium clock at Bremen’s Weserstadion still shows 5pm. It is August 24, 1963. Konietzka, born on August 2, 1938, in Lunen, a small town north of Dortmund, has scored the first ever Bundesliga goal.” ESPN (Video)

Marek Hamsik’s creativity ideal for Rafa Benitez’s Napoli revolution

“It has been an exciting summer of coaching changes across Europe: The top seven favourites for the Champions League, the top three in England, the top two in Spain, plus the champions of France, Germany and Portugal all started 2013-14 with a new manager. In Italy, somewhat surprisingly, it’s been quieter. Of last season’s top four, Juventus’ Antonio Conte, Milan’s Max Allegri and Fiorentina’s Vincenzo Montella remain in their positions having performed extremely impressively, albeit in different ways, last season.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)

Manchester City’s tactical shifts make for a brilliant performance

“Holistic has been the buzzword at Manchester City since Roberto Mancini was dismissed as manager at the end of last season. It was much derided at the time, but City’s 4-0 demolition of Newcastle United on Monday evening was a demonstration of what holistic football can look like. If City continues to play as well as it did in its Premier League opener, new manager Manuel Pellegrini won’t have to worry about his job security. The statement City probably regretted releasing when showing Mancini the door referred, of course, to more than just team selection and style of play, but it was evident from City’s four signings this summer than there was a clear system of play in mind, with at least one alternative.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Dynamo Moscow Season Preview

Dan Petrescu
“From occupying the bottom of the table to nearly finishing 3rd, Dynamo Moscow had one of last season’s biggest comebacks. The introduction of Dan Petrescu as manager led to a series of impressive results, including a whopping 5-1 win over Spartak in the oldest Russian derby and a 14-match unbeaten run. The former ended in the sacking of Unai Emery as Spartak manager. The latter ended in a humiliating 1-0 loss for the Muscovites to the later-relegated Alania. The team disappointed at the end of the season, their scoreless draw against Volga leaving them short of a Europa League spot.” Russian Football News

Bilbao Tactics: Post Bielsa Era

“It was just over a year ago that Marcelo Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao were the envy of most European clubs. With a squad assembled mostly of youth products and clever signings in-keeping with their Basque region-only philosophy, Bilbao reached the finals of both the Copa Del Rey and the Europa League by virtue of their high-pressing, slick passing football that saw Bielsa become one of the in-demand coaches on the continent. They lost both finals but after finishing a solid tenth in La Liga and disposing both Manchester United and Schalke with a young squad drilled brilliantly into Bielsa’s meticulous approach, there was high optimism that Bilbao could push on to challenge the higher reaches of the Primera.” Outside of the Boot

Counting the cost of a dream ticket to Brazil

“Sales of 2014 World Cup tickets got off to a brisk start Tuesday. According to FIFA, the 1 million applications received in seven hours included plenty from host nation Brazil, from neighbours Chile and Argentina, and also from the USA and England — a testimony to the strength of Anglo-Saxon fan culture, especially as there is no guarantee that Roy Hodgson’s men will even qualify for the competition. For non-Brazilians the cheapest tickets start at $90. A number of tickets are available to locals at knockdown prices — part of a PR offensive to win Brazilian hearts and minds in the run-up to a tournament that may be a focal point for vociferous protests.” ESPN – Tim Vickery

Not Afraid Of Repetition: David Peace’s Red Or Dead Reviewed

“David Peace is not afraid of repetition. Repetition underpins and underscores all of his work: names and phrases, sentence constructions, entire paragraphs, they loop and swirl, come back and back and back again. It is repetition that gives his books their staccato rhythms, their hypnotic, insistent force. He uses repetition better than any other writer currently at work. But in the wake of The Damned Utd – Peace’s bestselling novel, and later successful film, of Brian Clough’s catastrophic time as manager of Leeds United Football Club – Red or Dead could seem a repetition in itself. It is, after all, another novel about football. It is another novel set in that nostalgia honey-trap between the nineteen-fifties and nineteen-eighties. And it is another novel to focus on an iconic football manager – Bill Shankly, a figure perhaps even more beloved than the mercurial Clough.” The Quietus

Red or Dead by David Peace: From football to the battle against age, the war against death
“Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. They’re the first three words of Red or Dead and repetition is soon established as both a theme and a style. The first scene depicts an unnamed man entering an office and confessing to ‘a voice from the shadows’ that ‘the strain had proved too much’. In context, it seems clear that the man is Phil Taylor, the manager whose resignation in 1959 led to the appointment of Bill Shankly as manager of Liverpool and the transformation of the football club over the next 15 years from second-flight also-rans into giants. Yet the archetypal nature of the description suggests that this is something universal, that as one man feels the strain another rises to take his place, that the cycle turns as inevitably as one season follows another.” New Statesman – Jonathan Wilson

A matter of life and death
“Here is David Peace, on his publisher’s website, explaining why he wrote his new novel Red or Dead: ‘I have written about corruption, I’ve written about crime, I’ve written about bad men and I’ve written about the demons. But now I’ve had enough of the bad men and the demons. Now I want to write about a good man. And a saint. A Red Saint. Bill Shankly was not just a great football manager. Bill Shankly was one of the greatest men who ever lived.’ This fictional biography, written in that same repetitive prose for more than 700 pages, does indeed portray the legendary Liverpool manager as a saint. More’s the pity for the long-suffering reader. … Red or Dead seems intended as his magnum opus – the kind of big book a big novelist produces mid-career. It tackles a great figure, Shankly, who has been fading into myth.” FT – Simon Kuper

Review: Red or Dead, By David Peace
“Every time I finish a David Peace novel I feel like I’ve gone a few rounds in the ring with a title contender. I can’t think of another British novelist who writes with as much conviction, dedication and sheer bloody-mindedness as Peace, whether it’s the Red Riding Quartet based on the Yorkshire Ripper, his miners’ strike novel GB84, his Japan-set fiction, or his best known work, The Damned United, detailing Brian Clough’s time at Leeds United.” Independent

amazon: Red or Dead, David Peace

Channel4: Peace on Shankly’s ‘love affair’ with Liverpool (Video)

YouTube: Red or Dead by David Peace – An extract

Javier Mascherano must keep his cool for Argentina to thrive in Brazil

“The start of the Spanish campaign could hardly have been more gentle for Javier Mascherano, watching from the other half as his Barcelona team-mates ran in seven goals against Levante. But come the end of the season he is likely to be right in the thick of the battle with a crucial role to play. The spotlight inevitably settles on Lionel Messi in Argentina’s quest to win next year’s World Cup. But last week’s friendly win in Italy reinforced the view that, in his own very different way, Mascherano is every bit as important to his team’s chances. The stereotype is of Mascherano the warrior, the little enforcer who stomps through matches at the limit of emotional intensity.” BBC

Hipsters take note: Shakhter Karagandy and Pacos de Ferreira

“The Champions League is no longer the hallowed turf for the heavyweight’s of Europe, with a number of lesser known clubs making their way up to the final thirty two, after coming through the play off rounds. This season, two clubs are on the verge of making history after reaching the so called pearly gates of footballing heaven, the play-off’s. Shakhter Karagandy of Kazakhstan and Pacos de Ferreira of Portugal. While Karagandy have become the first team from Kazakhstan to ever take part in any European competition, discounting any appearances during the Soviet era, Pacos de Ferreira are no less of a surprise package from the Liga Sagres. The almost unknown Portuguese side have made their mark in Europe after staving off competition for qualification from former Portuguese underdogs, SC Braga, who themselves made it to the Champions League a few years ago, punching well above their weight.” Outside of the Boot

America’s Most Important Soccer Player Conquers The Old World

“By the time I arrived at the Stadio Olimpico for the Rome Derby this April, ultras had already knifed four people, cracked open someone’s head with a bottle, and terrorized an ambulance with rocks and explosives. Uprooted flagstones lay strewn about the foot of a lonely obelisk dedicated to Mussolini. Copies of Corriere dello Sport scurried in the wind like tumbleweeds in a spaghetti Western. Clearly, this was a showdown that mattered. Inside the stadium, over 50,000 AS Roma and Lazio fans were in full throat. Their teams were battling for Serie A’s final Europa League spot, not to mention local ascendancy. The Derby della Capitale promised to be one of those high-stakes contests that make Europe a crucible for the world’s best talent. It was the kind of match in which Americans appear too infrequently. And that was why I’d come: to watch the American.” deadspin – Howler Magazine (Video)

Team Focus: Arsenal’s Transfer Failings Exposed

“Imagine you hadn’t heard the final score. You pick up the basic match facts and you see that Arsenal had 64% of possession on Saturday. You look at the pass completion rates and see that while Arsenal’s was 87%, Aston Villa’s was only 70%. At first glance it seems like a fairly standard Arsenal home performance. Not too much to worry about there. But then you look at the number of shots each side had: Arsenal had 15 to Villa’s 11. The picture begins to emerge of Arsenal being watchful in possession, Villa more direct. The really telling stat, though, is that Villa had six efforts on target to Arsenal’s four. Villa, in other words, were far more efficient with the ball.” WhoScored

Spain: 2013-14 preview

“If there was a button marked ‘not Mourinho’, Carlo Ancelotti pressed it repeatedly. Real Madrid finally presented the Italian as their new coach, beginning a new era at the Santiago Bernabeu and another model too. They were heading in a different direction again. It had been 37 days since the president, Florentino Perez, announced Mourinho would be leaving; now they had the man they wanted to replace him.” World Soccer

The Shape of the Premier League to Come

“A survey of the players, managers, ideas, tactical developments, and themes to watch out for in the 2013-14 Premier League season. Chris Ryan: The above video is of William Gallas scoring a game-winning goal for Chelsea, against Tottenham, back in 2006. Chelsea won the league that season, finishing eight points clear of Manchester United. Spurs keeper Paul Robinson likely spent three months in a room, by himself, with a roast beef platter and a copy of The Queen Is Dead after this goal, but it’s not the goal that Gallas scored that interests me, it’s who he celebrated it with. …” Grantland (Video)

Premier League 2013-14: Phil McNulty’s predictions
“The Premier League’s top three – along with Everton and Stoke – are under new management, star players at Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool are under a cloud and Cardiff, Hull and Crystal Palace will all be experiencing the anticipation and trepidation of newcomers. The new season starts on Saturday. Can Manchester United win their 21st title? Can Manchester City wrestle it back from Old Trafford? Can Jose Mourinho recreate former glories at Chelsea?” BBC

Bayern Munich 3-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach: evolution rather than revolution for Guardiola

“Bayern Munich appeared comfortable towards the end of the contest, but they endured some nervous moments during Pep Guardiola’s Bundesliga debut. Guardiola was unable to call upon Bayern’s major two summer arrivals, Thiago Alcantara or Mario Gotze, so there was a familiar feel to the home side’s starting XI. Lucien Favre’s back four was also very familiar from last season, although there were changes ahead – Christophe Kramer has signed from Bochum, Brazilian Raffael played in the central attacking role, while Max Kruse’s impressive season at Freiburg means he’s started this campaign as the first-choice striker, with last season’s flop Luuk de Jong only on the bench. As expected, Bayern dominated – but things didn’t go entirely swimmingly.” Zonal Marking

Loving Arsenal, Away From the Numbers

“I spent the weekend in the most pleasant way an Arsenal fan can spend a weekend that falls within the summer transfer window: perusing YouTube for a contact high off the fumes of past glories. The complete Invincibles season. The wizardry of Dennis Bergkamp. Legends of the Premier League: Thierry Henry. Cesc Fábregas ‘Pass Master’ compilations. Michael Thomas’s stoppage-time goal-into-breakdance-windmill/caterpillar-celebration as Arsenal win the league over Liverpool at Anfield on the final day — the final seconds! — of the 1988-89 season.” Grantland

No more bickering as Supercoppa awaits

“The Italian Supercoppa is traditionally a competitive curtain-raiser to the Italian season, although the actual scheduling of the event this year roused more resentment between its two protagonists than can be expected at the Stadio Olimpico this Sunday. When Juventus and Lazio take to the field in Rome, most of the battle will have already been won and lost after months of off-field debating. The Italian Football League, Lega Calcio, stipulated an agreement with China in 2010 that formalised plans for three of the subsequent four editions of the Supercoppa to be staged in Beijing.” ESPN

The Book of Luis

“At the beginning of time, Luis Suarez bit God, and God was like, ‘ouch,’ and God’s ‘ouch’ became the universe. And God convened a three-person disciplinary committee to review the incident. And Luis Suarez said unto the disciplinary committee that he would accept a 1-million-year ban, but 10 million years seemed like overkill just for accidentally creating the universe. But God rolled up his sleeve, and the disciplinary committee gazed upon the bite marks, and they were fairly wroth.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

Mignolet is Reds’ hero

“Striker Daniel Sturridge got Liverpool’s season off to a winning start but it was new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet who was the hero with a late penalty save. The hosts had dominated throughout but had only the one goal to show for their efforts when Daniel Agger handled former Reds midfielder Charlie Adam’s free-kick three minutes from time.” ESPN

Arsenal – Money Don’t Matter 2 Night

“Arsenal’s transfer strategy this summer has left the vast majority of their fans perplexed. While the seemingly interminable Luis Suarez saga has grabbed most of the attention, allied with the failure to secure Gonzalo Higuain when the deal appeared done and dusted, the stark reality is that Arsenal have not bought anybody yet, let alone the marquee signing that the supporters crave. Yes, they have acquired the services of French U20 international, Yaya Sanogo, but he arrived on a free transfer from Auxerre in the French second division.” Swiss Ramble

New man, new strategies

“In a world in which the rich are getting even richer and success seems increasingly the preserve of a select handful of clubs, this season’s Premier League promises a rare openness, with the big three of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all changing manager. It is an instability that could just open the door for Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and, with a couple more signings, perhaps Liverpool.” World Soccer – Jonathan Wilson

They Are They, We Are We: The Forgotten Genius Of Vujadin Boskov

“If during the eighties you followed Italian football with any degree of interest, then those words (that, incidentally, mean ‘penalty is when referee gives it’) should sound familiar. As should ‘se vinciamo siamo vincitori se perdiamo siamo perditori’ (if we win we are winners, if we lose we are losers) and ‘loro sono loro, noi siamo noi’ (they are they, we are we). Those were the words of Vujadin Boskov and those were the kind of soundbites that made him popular with the waiting journalists after games. It was through such aphorisms that Vujadin Boskov entered Italian society’s public consciousness and it is for them that he remains most widely known.” In Bed With Maradona

Anzhi chaos could send Samuel Eto’o falling into José Mourinho’s arms

“There were two big stories in Belarus in the last week of July. On the plus side, their premier, Alexander Lukashenko caught a catfish bigger than the pike Vladimir Putin had landed in Siberia a few days earlier. More difficult to comprehend, though, was the news that Uralkali, a Russian firm run by Suleiman Kerimov, had broken off a business agreement with a Belarusian company that effectively fixed global potash prices. It’s hard to say precisely what the consequences will be, but pressure has already been placed on the Belarusian rouble, while a surge in the supply of potash should lead to a decrease in the cost of fertiliser (and thus perhaps food). It could also lead to the sale of Samuel Eto’o to Chelsea.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

David Moyes And Glasgow Football

“In the last winter of the second world war, a British soldier named Matt Busby received a letter from Manchester United’s chief scout Louis Rocca. It said, vaguely: ‘I have a great job for you if you are willing to take it on.’ The job turned out to be manager of Manchester United. On February 19, 1945, Busby showed up in Manchester in his army uniform and signed his contract. It wasn’t really a ‘great job.’ United hadn’t won a trophy since 1911, the club was penniless, and the German Luftwaffe had blitzed Old Trafford. But Busby rebuilt United. In 1968, his team won the European Cup. Later, Alex Ferguson took the club back to the heights. And this season, David Moyes is charged with the mission Busby took on in 1945. There’s something these three men have in common: They are all from the poor city of Glasgow, or its surroundings.” AskMen

‘For The Liverpool Fans Who Think Deeper’

“As a football mad lad growing up in Dublin in the 1970s and 80s, I looked forward to every Saturday evening when my Dad or brother would come in with the now defunct Evening Press newspaper. Back then, buried in the middle of the paper was a page given over to syndicated football writing from some of the best in the business at the time. Special features, interviews, opinions and tales from not just the English leagues, but from Scotland, Europe and even beyond. As a Liverpool fan, I scanned the page for news and comment on the club, but recall often a sense of frustration that Liverpool in its pomp often seemed to be ignored. Perhaps writing about the most successful formula in football had become boring – and it tended to be the troubles of others that drew more column inches.” Football365

Grazie Ambro: A Tribute

“And so it ends. After 18 seasons of running around, snarling and tackling all whilst sporting a flurry of long blonde hair with a band, come August, MASSIMO AMBROSINI will be a Milan player no more. Football has changed over the years and with changing times, even the clubs have changed their systems and policies. Milan too has changed its approach as they have decided to take a different path now, focusing on youth and ‘building stars instead of buying them’. The new campaign was labelled as ‘Year Zero’ as they wanted to start a fresh cycle and concentrate on youth. This year, once again the Rossoneri fans bid farewell to another long lasting servant, Massimo Ambrosini. After the mass exodus last season when Alessandro Nesta, Pippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf, Rino Gattuso ,Gianluca Zambrotta and Flavio Roma decided to jump off the Milanese train, this year it’s the club captain who will not be with the side in the coming campaign.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Analysis: How will Bayern Munich set up under Pep Guardiola?

“After the much talked-about, controversial acquisition of rising Spanish star Thiago- which many deem unnecessary and ‘a waste’- Bayern Munich arguably possess the best midfield, if not the strongest squad in Europe. What’s more, they have frightening strength in depth in virtually every position on the field. A consensus could easily be reached regarding the Bavarians’ brilliant pre- season as well, where they cruelly dispatched their opponents with immaculate and impeccable perfection. Considering this, it would be fair to say that Bayern are well on course to win the Bundesliga again, for their second successive league title. Having said that, there seems to be a lingering doubt in every fan’s mind about the core composition of the playing eleven: what formation could the industrious Guardiola implement and who would make it to the starting line-up on a regular basis?” Think Football

Premier League 2013-14 season: Club-by-club guide

“The 2013-14 Premier League season could be one of the most unpredictable to date with so many changes at the top. This will be the first Premier League campaign without Sir Alex Ferguson in charge of Manchester United and there are at least four teams hoping to take advantage of David Moyes’s inexperience of winning trophies. Manchester City and Chelsea, both also under new management, and Tottenham have all spent big this summer, while Arsenal have kept hold of their key players and still have money to spend.” BBC

New man, new strategies

“In a world in which the rich are getting even richer and success seems increasingly the preserve of a select handful of clubs, this season’s Premier League promises a rare openness, with the big three of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all changing manager. It is an instability that could just open the door for Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and, with a couple more signings, perhaps Liverpool.” World Soccer

Seedorf thriving in Brazil

Clarence Seedorf
“When Clarence Seedorf went to play in Brazil last year I was sceptical. So were wiser heads than mine. Oswaldo de Oliveira, his coach at Botafogo, was unsure how he could fit the veteran Dutchman into the wide-open spaces of the Brazilian midfield. Twelve months on our fears look ludicrous. The move has been a triumph. Going into the weekend’s 13th round of the Brazilian Championship, Botafogo is only denied top spot on goal difference, and Seedorf is proving the undoubted star turn.” The World – Tim Vickery (Video)

Last Rites For The Myth Of Loyalty In Football

“There is a reasonably good chance that the summer of 2013, should it come to be remembered for any one thing, will be recalled as The Summer of Hate. From female journalists receiving death threats for having the sheer temerity to point out to an audience that we might have thought would be old enough to know better that being a vile misogynist online is, well, vile through to the English Defence League, whose idea of the defence of this country from Islam – whatever the hell that means – is to drink seventeen pints of cheap, fizzy beer and try and fight the police on Saturday afternoons, this has felt like a period during which Britain has, somehow, lost its mind.” twohundredpercent

England v Scotland: after 141 years of rivalry, clash must rediscover its edge

“When you start at the very top, the only way to go is down. And the famous England-Scotland football fixture has been slowly but steadily losing its cachet for, ooh, nearly 141 years now. The first match between the countries – a goalless draw at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick in November 1872 – was also the first international in football history, so by definition it was a summit meeting between the best teams in the world. Stovepipe hats off, everyone.” Guardian

During transfer windows, managers matter most

“On learning that rivals Bayern Munich had activated Mario Goetze’s buyout clause and would be signing him ahead of this season — the news broke just one day after the first leg of Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League quarterfinal first leg versus Malaga back in April — coach Juergen Klopp compared how he felt to suffering ‘a heart attack.'” ESPN -James Horncastle

Boris Arkadyev – The Soviet Genius Behind Total Football and Tiki-Taka

Around 100,000 turned up to see Chelsea vs Dynamo at Stamford Bridge
“Boris Arkadyev was born on September 21, 1899, in St. Petersburg. He had a playing career, appearing as a midfielder for Russkabel Moscow, Sakharniki Moscow, RkimA and Metallurg Moscow, between 1920 – 1936. Yet Arkadyev was to influence football to this day with his footballing ideas, from his time as a manager. Before the Russian revolution, football in Russia was widespread, with nearly 200 teams competing in czarist Russia in 1914. After the 1917 revolution, interest in football continued to rise, thanks to the RSFSR Championships. However, the Championships were of a poor quality and standard. In 1936, Russia finally installed a national football league, called the Soviet Top League. While the league was organised better than the RSFSR Championships, it was soon exposed that the change had come too late.” Russian Football News

Four burning questions for 2013-14 Bundesliga season

“1. Will Pep Guardiola bring in continuity or dressing room upheaval at Bayern Munich? Pep Guardiola’s fans have hailed him for the building of the world’s greatest team (Barcelona), while his detractors have dismissed him as an extremely lucky manager who found himself in charge of the best player of his generation in Lionel Messi as well as an equally superb supporting cast (Xavi and Iniesta) on his first day at work. …” ESPN

Germany: 2013-14 season preview
“At each and every step of the forthcoming season, the fortunes of new Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola are guaranteed to be the number one narrative, with the twists and turns of the ex-Barcelona boss’s Bavarian adventure chronicled and examined in the minutest detail.” World Soccer

How can we interpret and ‘handle’ the current hand ball rules?

“In the modern footballing era there have been many criticisms of refereeing performance and the clarity of the laws by which our players are to abide by whilst playing the game we all love. One rule that will always come into the spotlight is that relating to the law against handling the ball. ‘That was never deliberate’ or ‘he never meant that’ are two phrases used on countless occasions where a decision has been made where it is deemed a player has handled the ball. But the pain does not end there, when in similar situations, sometimes in the same match, the same decision has not been given. The modern approach seems to accept that referees make mistakes and that is an inherent part of the game, but can more be done to make this problem simpler? We can try to understand the root of this issue by looking at the wording of the relevant law set out by FIFA in their Laws of the Game.” Think Football

Anzhi shy away from the overpriced spotlight

“When Suleiman Kerimov purchased Anzhi Makhachkala and thrust the club onto the back pages of newspapers across Europe, thanks to their extravagant transfer budget, the world was led to believe that this was the birth of a team that could propel itself to domestic and European success. The signings of Samuel Eto’o, Roberto Carlos and Yuri Zhirkov proved to be a minor flurry, before the likes of Willian, Igor Denisov and Aleksandr Kokorin followed suit for equally impressive sums. But like any fairytale, there are always a few bumps along the way and over the past 24 hours the club has been thrown into turmoil.” Slavic Football Union

Anzhi Makhachkala: Why are big-spending Russians cutting back?
“When news broke that Anzhi Makhachkala, the billionaire-backed Russian Premier League club, were cutting their budget and selling their top players, many journalists – myself included – thought it was a late April fool. But this was no joke. In the hours that followed a series of announcements, each more puzzling than the other, confirmed “The Anzhi Project”, at least as we previously knew it, was coming to an end. Suleyman Kerimov, Anzhi’s billionaire backer since January 2011, was no longer happy to finance a gravy train. The club’s budget, officially quoted at an extravagant £116m per season (second only to Zenit St Petersburg in Russia), was to be reduced to between £32m and £45m.” BBC

The sad truth the Luis Suarez saga reveals about modern soccer

“This has been the two-speed summer. At the start there were the deals done smoothly and swiftly — Fernandinho joining Manchester City, Simon Mignolet going to Liverpool, Emanuele Giaccherini signing for Sunderland — and now, with a little under four weeks of the transfer window still to go, there are the deals that feel as though they have already been going on for ever: the eternal and increasingly tedious trinity of Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Tactical Analysis: What’s the solution to Barcelona’s defensive frailties?

“With less than two weeks before Barcelona kick off the 2013-14 season the Catalans have made just one signing, Neymar, for €57m. Many fans had expected a more proactive transfer market for Barca this summer, with the defence in particular need of strengthening. Last year Barca conceded 40 league goals in comparison to 29, 21 and 24 in their three previous campaigns and it was particularly noticeable how badly they struggled at defending set plays and crosses into the box. They also conceded 17 times in their 12 Champions League matches including twice to Celtic and Spartak Moscow.” Think Football

Invisible Men? Racism in Honduran Soccer

“… In the United States we hear a lot about racism in soccer, but it is always in the context of events in Europe. Most people who follow the sport know about the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand affair, for which Terry was stripped of the England captaincy. And many are familiar with the more recent cases involving fans making monkey sounds at Kevin Prince Boateng and Mario Balotelli. Even when a Latin American player is involved–such as in the Luis Suárez-Patrice Evra incident–the question of whether or not something qualifies as racism is interpreted through a European (not to mention a U.S.) lens.” Soccer Politics

Can Neymar and Messi co-exist? and four other things to look out for this season

“Every one of Europe’s top five leagues has the potential to have a thrilling title race this season. Sam Thompson, of TTTFootball, takes a closer look at who will be challenging at the top in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France…” Think Football

Is the Premier League providing corporate cover for ‘corrupt’ foreign owners and regimes?

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Liverpool - City of Manchester Stadium
“‘In this meeting of a desperate UK economy with Abu Dhabi’s fortunes’ wrote David Conn in the Guardian this week, ‘there is a limit to the UK government’s disapproval over allegations of torture and flaws in the UAE legal system.’ But then domestic attitudes have always been a little on the liberal side when it comes to owners of Manchester City. Six years ago nobody in a position of much authority had anything very accusing to say about Thaksin Shinawatra after his £81million take-over of the club, save for the Thai authorities who spent a couple of years frantically posting out arrest warrants like junk mail over a catalogue of offences against the state.” Think Football

Jury remains out on Michel Platini’s financial fair play project
“For all of Michel Platini’s tough talk, conspicuous consumption has once again been the order of the day this summer from the gilded boulevards of Monaco to the fast-changing post-industrial landscape of east Manchester. Arsène Wenger has labelled the situation ‘a joke’. As Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur haggle over just how much the Spanish giants will pay for Gareth Bale and in how many instalments, the likely world record fee will add further to the volume of disgruntled muttering surrounding the implementation of the Uefa president’s financial fair play project.” Guardian