Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Goalkeeper

“We all know it: goalkeepers are different. And good thing, too. They prompt a special affection or loathing from fans, and even their nicknames—a solid indicator of devotion—carry a yearning that other players struggle to match. The Iron Curtain (Rinat Dasaev), the Always-Standing Little Hercules (Aldo Olivieri), the Elastic Wonder (Ángel Bossio) the Ballet Dancer with the Hands of Steel (Vladimir Beara). Even at their most obscure or unimaginative —the Cat of Prague (Frantisek Planicka), the Cat of the Maracanã (Antoni Ramallets), the Black Panther (Lev Yashin), the Black Spider (Lev Yashin), the Black Octopus (Lev Yashin) —these alter egos suggest a mythical quality not easily dismissed. Our fascination with the position—and the oddballs and iconoclasts it attracts—has spawned a small library of books, ranging from how-to manuals, histories, and manifestos to novels and memoirs. A survey of the literature takes us deep into the soul of the game and reveals the onlookers as much as it does the keepers themselves.” Howler Magazine


Monumental Rivalry

“Summer is a hellish time to be in Buenos Aires. First, because the temperatures are enough to wilt even the strongest constitution – I type this whilst sitting in the living room in my pants, with the air conditioning on, and thanks to the 40 degrees Celsius outside, I’m still sweating. But for the football fan, there’s a more prosaic reason: from mid-December until early February, the Argentine league shuts down, and with clubs relocating to coastal resorts or holiday towns far from the capital to undergo ‘pre-season’ (I use inverted commas because technically, we’re actually halfway through the season), there’s no competitive football to enjoy. Still, this is Argentina. And so it is that, amongst the phalanx of meaningless kickabouts involving the likes of Argentinos Juniors against a Uruguayan second division side playing two halves of 35 minutes each way in front of a crowd of ten people, we also have some equally meaningless – but far more famous – fixtures. Saturday night will bring the first of three (three!) pre-season friendlies between River Plate and Boca Juniors.” In Bed With Maradona

Chelsea v Man Utd: What if United had chosen Jose Mourinho?

“When Manchester United were plotting the line of succession to Sir Alex Ferguson, it was the Scot himself who had the casting vote. The two men touted – albeit briefly – were managers who find themselves in opposition at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when United meet Chelsea. Ferguson went in favour of his fellow Scot David Moyes when many thought United might go for the more combustible, but also far more successful, Jose Mourinho.” BBC

Juary enjoying hero status in Avellino and Porto

“Back in the early eighties Italy was the centre of the world of football and would remain such for the best part of a decade. The richest clubs in the world played in the Serie A and, in turn, these attracted the best players. Juventus had Platini and Boniek, Napoli played to the tune set by Maradona whilst Milan had the trio of Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard. Even a small club like Udinese could attract a player like Zico.” Worad Soccer

The Crucifixion Of David Moyes

“The floodlights are blinding. This is after all, a stadium of light and its illumination is searing. There is no place for me to hide my nakedness from its hostile radiance. Beads of sweat weep down my furrowed brow but I cannot mop them. My hands have been nailed. Flesh sandwiched between metal and wood. Bones shattered, blood spattered, a mortal man broken and left to slowly rot on this very public cross as spectators, both faithful and non, jeer my every pained movement. I stretch every sinew to delay the inevitable feasting of the scavengers on my still-beating heart.” Dispatches From A Football Sofa

Defensive woes continue to hinder Rodgers and Liverpool

“It is a concept their watching owner ought to find easy to understand. Liverpool are a team of two halves. John W. Henry comes from a sport in baseball where the division between offence and defence is clearer than it usually is in football. Not at Liverpool, however. Even if the nuances of the beautiful game are lost on a businessman with a greater grounding as the owner of the Boston Red Sox, it should be obvious his other sporting investment are terrific going forward and threaten to be terrible at the back.” ESPN