Daily Archives: January 7, 2015

The modern day “sweeper-keeper”

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“Manuel Neuer, the Bayern Munich and Germany international shot-stopper, is currently the world’s best goalkeeper. Forget Spain’s Iker Casillas, Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois or even USA’s bearded Tim Howard: Neuer, the Germany number one, is in a whole bracket above his closest rivals. In fact, he was recently named on the final, three-man shortlist for the 2015 edition of FIFA’s Ballon D’Or alongside outfield players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. This is no mean feat, particularly for a goalkeeper. But, you see, Neuer is so much more than just a goalkeeper. He is a footballer, too. Ever since he emerged from the youth setup of his hometown club, Schalke 04, in 2006, Neuer has adopted a unique playing style that has truly captivated fans, managers and pundits around the world.” backpagefootball (Video)

Three 2014 World Cup moments etched in my memory

“With South American football currently slumbering through its high summer siesta, I hope I might be forgiven for glancing backwards at what has just become last year’s World Cup. The tournament was well worth remembering – for the protests it engendered beforehand, for the spectacle it provided us with during and for the memories that linger afterwards. These are some of mine.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Analysis: Intelligent Enzo Perez Impresses on Debut for Valencia

“In amongst a slew of yellow cards and all-action tackles from the likes of Lucas Orban and Nicolas Otamendi, not to mention the rampaging forward runs of wingbacks José Gaya and Antonio Barragan, you could be forgiven for viewing Enzo Perez’s Valencia debut as somewhat underwhelming. Indeed, in his first ever showing for the club, a famous 2-1 win over Real Madrid, the Argentine’s statistical output was decidedly ordinary. Playing at the base of midfield in Valencia’s 3-5-2 formation, Perez delivered only one tackle and one interception on the night, while simultaneously committing four fouls. In attack, too, his return was fairly meagre, and although he completed his passes with a solid 91% accuracy, not too many of them were overly significant.” Licence to Roam

Football fans need to stop expecting the unexpected in the FA Cup

“The FA Cup third round is frequently considered to be all about giant killing, whereas it’s actually all about the possibility of giants losing. It might be a pedantic distinction, but it explains a great deal about the negativity surrounding the competition in recent years. The ideal FA Cup tie is, inevitably, a nonleague side at home against a high-flying Premier League club. The third-round draw didn’t quite provide that this time around, although Yeovil (bottom of League One) and AFC Wimbledon (League Two) were handed ties against Manchester United and Liverpool, while nonleague Dover faced more modest Premier League opposition, in Crystal Palace.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Crisis brewing at Barcelona as club’s foundation is put to the test

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“With each passing day, each passing season, FC Barcelona, perhaps the greatest passing team the world has known, moves further from the glories of the Pep Guardiola days. First there was drift, then there was decline, now a sense of chaos seems to be engulfing the club. These have been a turbulent few days at the club, bringing problems to such a head that there will be an emergency board meeting on Wednesday to discuss the future of coach Luis Enrique, although his position is not thought to be under immediate threat.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

The myth of the Crazy Gang is an entertaining story, but the truth is even better

“The former Manchester United and Aston Villa coach Ron Atkinson had a term for when a player put in a particularly vigorous tackle early in the match – ‘early doors’ as he put it – in order to let his opponent know what awaited him for the remainder of the game: A reducer. Roy Keane was a master of the art this side of the Irish sea, while Graham Kavanagh executed one particularly memorable example on Gilberto Silva in a friendly with Brazil at Lansdowne Road, but the undisputed king of the reducer in the late 80s was Wimbledon’s own Vinnie Jones.” backpagefootball (Video)

Football Manager meets the X-men

“There’s a fine little series of Marvel stories called The New X-men, written by the wonderful Grant Morrison and illustrated, among others but best, by Igor Kordey. In one of the episodes, #120, the X-men’s training school stands threatened by a host of mutant/human hybriuds who want to harvest the genetic material of the X-men and only the irascible, beautiful Jean Grey and a host of trainee, child X-ettes stand in their way. While it is Grey who finally dispatches the thugs, the little ones do a fine job along the way. Why do I mention this? Well, we all know the ‘You’ll Win Nothing With Kids’ saves on Football Manager, the ones where you cannot buy anyone and must make do with your youth system to build a team. It’s an engaging challenge, to be sure, and if you’re Atalanta or Barcelona, well worth doing. But, what if you assembled your own New X-men? Or, in Football Manager terms, bought as many wonderkids and super prospects as possible and then put them all in one team? I know, right?” Put Niels In Goal