When They Mattered: Ajax and its failed chance at a second dynasty

July 27, 2015

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“The high point was also the tipping point. The slow and torturous decline began almost at the very moment 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert’s 84th-minute toe-poke skittered past Sebastiano Rossi and into AC Milan’s net to win the 1994-95 Champions League, whereupon the teenaged striker wheeled away as he twisted his jersey around on his torso so everybody could see real well.” Fusion (Video)


England Rules: Four Questions That Explain the Summer Transfer Window

July 27, 2015

“While there’s still more than a month remaining, something about the current transfer window just seems … off. Most of the big clubs — Chelsea, PSG, Arsenal, Barcelona, and Real Madrid — have been relatively quiet, and the star we all expected to leave looks like he might stay put in Italy for another year. Now, there’s been plenty of movement in Munich, Manchester, and everywhere else, but even those transactions have been underpriced, overpriced, or seemingly out of nowhere. In short, the silly season’s gotten weird. Here are four questions to sort through all the mayhem.” Grantland


Mexico is the most talented team in CONCACAF and finally showed it in the Gold Cup final

July 27, 2015

“Mexico is the champion of the 2015 Gold Cup. Well, Mexico and the refs. Some spectacularly bad refereeing helped El Tri make it to the final, but once there, it finally put on a show, beating Jamaica 3-1. This was the tournament in which Mexico proved itself. More than booking its spot in the Confederations Cup playoff, the Gold Cup was a showcase for El Tri’s absurd amount of talent. There’s no longer any doubt which team in CONCACAF is the most talented. In fact, the gulf between Mexico and the rest of the region may be even bigger than we previously thought.” Fusion


USA, still confident, knows there’s work to be done after Gold Cup finish

July 27, 2015

“The U.S. national team was well past writing a storybook ending to this disastrous CONCACAF Gold Cup when DaMarcus Beasley, 33 and a veteran of four World Cups, stepped to the penalty spot hoping to keep his side alive in Saturday’s bronze medal game. Even victory over Panama would not have obscured the disappointment of the Americans’ two-year decline from unbeaten regional champion to this consolation match played at half-empty PPL Park. But a Beasley miss, on what was probably the last touch of his historic international career, would be cruel salt in the wound. It would have been too much.” SI


Alessio Romagnoli: Why The Man Being Compared to Alessandro Nesta is Such Hot Property

July 27, 2015

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“It seems perplexing that Roma are willing to entertain offers for their tremendously talented central defender, Alessio Romagnoli. At 20, Romagnoli is brilliant for his age, in a position where experience and maturity are considered huge benefits. Further time to develop into the completely finished article is most definitely on his side. While it’s no secret he’s prone to the odd lapse in concentration, like the positional error that kept Raheem Sterling onside, and allowed him to score, in Roma’s recent friendly against Manchester City, that’s somewhat to be expected for a player of his position at his age. It’s not easy being a mistake free defender at 20, let alone 30. Just look at 29-year-old Vincent Kompany, who, despite his quality, still has more than his fair share of slip-ups.” Licence to Roam


Reggae Boy Blues: A Guide to Worrying About the USMNT’s Disappointing Gold Cup Exit

July 27, 2015

“Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen. The United States men’s national team, which had reached the last five CONCACAF Gold Cup finals, fell, 2-1, to an active and inspired Jamaican team in last night’s semifinal in Atlanta. Their first home loss to the Reggae Boyz sends the Americans into Saturday’s sad third-place match against Panama, while Jamaica moves through to its first final against Mexico. Not winning the whole thing — let alone crashing out before the championship game — is an utter failure for the Red, White, and Blue. So, how worried should you, USMNT-adjacent person, be? Well, it depends who you are …” Grantland


Tactical Philosophy: Andre Villas-Boas

July 27, 2015

“André Villas-Boas is still only 37, but it feels like he’s been a football manager for a very long time. Indeed, the 25th of October, 2015 will only be the 6th anniversary of Villas-Boas’ first game in charge of a senior, professional football team, discounting a brief stint as Technical Director of the British Virgin Islands at the age of 21. Villas-Boas has taken first team management roles in Portugal, with Académica de Coimbra and his beloved FC Porto, then in London, with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, and he is now currently working for Zenit St. Petersburg, in Russia.” Outside of the Boot


Samir Nasri talks to ESPN FC about Man City, Manuel Pellegrini, Marseille

July 27, 2015

“Manchester City’s Samir Nasri is highly unusual among modern footballers, for two very different reasons. First, he’s forthcoming with opinions. This is a player who, for example, who was confronted by paparazzi while on holiday in Los Angeles this summer and ended up having a discussion about the FIFA crisis, one in which he welcomed FBI intervention. Few other footballers dared utter a word about the saga. Second, Nasri is a relentless football watcher. One of the notable things about professional footballers is how few enjoy watching the game; they love playing, they love the dressing room banter, some enjoy the fame, but in general, they’re not great spectators. Nasri, however, spends most of his free time watching football.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Mexico advances to Gold Cup final after chaotic, ugly semifinal show

July 25, 2015

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“Mexico is heading to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final, but not exactly in the most glory-filled manner. Despite having a man advantage from the 25th minute on, Mexico needed another late, controversial penalty call to force extra time, where it ultimately prevailed over Panama 2–1 at the Georgia Dome to set up a final against Jamaica on Sunday at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. Andres Guardado, just like he did in the quarterfinals against Costa Rica, converted the late penalty and then another one in extra time to keep El Tri alive.” SI

Undesired third-place game still serves a purpose for United States
“There are two ways to look at Saturday’s Gold Cup consolation game between the United States and Panama. On one hand, it can be viewed as little more than an inconvenience, a match the players and coaches on both teams — having fallen short of reaching Sunday’s final in nearby Philadelphia — would just as soon not play at all. On the other, it’s still a chance for the sides to represent their countries, make a little bit of appearance money and, for the team that is victorious (after all, there must be a winner), an opportunity to end a disappointing, unfulfilling and ultimately unsuccessful tournament with heads held high.” ESPN


What should be expected from Liverpool?

July 25, 2015

“Liverpool have been shrewd in this transfer window (as much as I can regret these words in 2016). The fact that they’ve got most of the transfers done before the pre-season because Rodgers wanted the players to be together and train for a month before the season began, unlike last season, signifies that the Northern Irishman has some sort of a plan in his head. There has been a clear improvement in the squad and unlike last season, the focus is not merely on increasing the squad but also on quality. Roberto Firmino has been the pick of the signings for most people who cry for ‘marquee’ players, and the swiftness in which the Reds got that done was massively impressive. Not to forget, there has been a change in the backroom staff.” Outside of the Boot


The genius of Ghiggia will forever be remembered

July 25, 2015

“On 16 July 1950, he scored the decisive goal as Uruguay came from behind to beat Brazil 2-1 and win the fourth edition of the World Cup. The crowd gathered in Rio de Janeiro’s newly opened Maracana stadium may well have been one of the biggest ever assembled to watch a game of football. And Ghiggia, as he liked to say, along with the Pope and Frank Sinatra, was one of just three men to silence the giant stadium. The most important man on that fateful day was the final one to leave the scene. All the other 21 players who took the field that day have already passed on. Ghiggia was the last of the gang to die.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Tactical Philosophy: Thomas Tuchel

July 25, 2015

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“Thomas Tuchel is one of these new up and coming coaches who never played at the highest level. He grew up in a tiny Bavarian town named Krumbach near Augsburg. At the age of 15, he joined FC Augsburg where he won the German youth cup twice in 1991 and 1992. Finishing his youth career, Tuchel signed for the second-tier side Stuttgarter Kickers. However, having made 8 appearances during his first professional season, the second season at Stuttgart was a disappointment, as he was dropped from the first team. Afterwards, he joined the Ralf Rangnick-coached SSV Ulm in the third division where he played in 69 matches for the Swabians in 4 years before ending his active career due to a chronic cartilage injury in 1998.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Philosophy: Unai Emery
“Unai Emery’s father, grandfather and uncle were professional football players and it was in Emery’s genes to follow their footsteps. But the journey was not an easy one for the Basque. After representing Real Sociedad five times at the senior level, Emery was booted out. He spent most of his time playing for lower division clubs until an injury put an end to his playing career during his time at Lorca Deportiva.” Outside of the Boot


How UEFA can fix Financial Fair Play

July 25, 2015

“It has been five years since Michel Platini promised to save European football from financial ruin. The introduction of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules gave fans hope that success in football would no longer be decided by how much money a Russian oil tycoon or Middle Eastern sheikh could throw at a club. But the rules in their current format are not stopping super rich clubs from spending eye watering amounts of money. Seven of the top ten transfers of all time have occurred in the last two years and financial experts warned against ‘reckless wage spending last summer, four years after the introduction of FFP. The rule make no attempt to improve the chances of well run clubs who see no benefit from living within their means.” backpagefootball


Adriano – A virtual cult hero

July 25, 2015

“Of all the international tournaments at which a player can make their mark, take by storm and forever be associated with, perhaps there is none more underwhelming than the Confederations Cup. But perhaps there is no more fitting a match than the Confederations Cup and Adriano Leite Riberio, the player who will forever be associated with the 2005 edition of the official ‘year before the World Cup dry run’. At the time of the tournament, Adriano was one of the most fearsome strikers in world football, part of a Brazilian side that had sold its samba soul to Dunga.” backpagefootball


Russian Premier League beauty contest winner stripped of crown over racist postings

July 22, 2015

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“Anti-racism campaigner Piara Powar has attacked Russian football’s record on racsim after it emerged that a winner of the official Russian Premier League annual beauty pageant had posted neo-Nazi messages on social media. The latest racism story to emerge from the 2018 World Cup hosts comes days Emmanuel Frimpong was sent off for gesturing towards abusive Spartak Moscow fans. The Russian Football Union later ruled there was no evidence to prove that Frimpong had been targeted by racists and the player’s two-match ban for being sent off was upheld.” World Soccer

The soccer world continues to condone Russia’s racism
“With all the outrage surrounding the 2022 Qatar World Cup, it’s easy to forget that, in just three years, Russia will be hosting the 2018 World Cup. Yes, the same Russia where players regularly get racially abused at Russian Premier League games for sport. That should be comforting to players and fans, particularly those who may be of a similar hue to those who get abused on a weekly basis. I mean, welcome to Russia 2018, amirite? Save up for your bananas. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Brazilian striker Hulk said yesterday that he faces racial abuse in ‘almost every game’ in the Russian league. That’s a hell of a statement and, to be fair, a remarkable level of consistency and dedication from Russian fans.” Fusion

Red Star and the land of great knights
“As an English football fan, I’m surprisingly comfortable with the notion of congregating into the symbolic centre of a town far away from where I live and belting out messy, off-key renditions of self-written songs. Those obnoxious little ditties glorifying my own roots at the expense of others are usually characterised by puerile language and an awkward cocktail of self-deprecating humour mixed with the most ridiculously aggrandising boasting.” Football Pink


In defence of Claudio Ranieri

July 22, 2015

‘An uninspired choice’. This was how Leicester’s favourite son Gary Lineker reacted to the news that his hometown club had appointed 63 year-old Claudio Ranieri as their new manager. Lineker is not the only person to be less than impressed with Nigel Pearson’s successor at the King Power stadium. Numerous columns and articles have appeared in recent weeks opposing Leicester’s decision to employ the Tinkerman’s services after his 11 year absence from English football.” Outside of the Boot


Can Bayern Munich cope with the loss of Kroos and Schweinsteiger within the gap of 12 months?

July 22, 2015

“July 13th 2014 – Germany v Argentina, the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The ever efficient German side was facing an Argentina team who banked heavily on Messi and his magic. This German side had 7 players in the squad who were regulars of FC Bayern Munich. Majority of these 7 members played crucial roles in the starting line-up for Germany throughout the World Cup, especially in midfield led by then vice-captain, Bastian Schweinsteiger and young Toni Kroos. The 2 had formed a formidable partnership in the World Cup and also at club level. Their chemistry was unbelievable, which made people think about why Bayern would even contemplate selling Kroos when he fits Pep’s system. Not even a month after Germany had won the world cup, news broke out that the German domestic champions had agreed a 25M deal with Real Madrid for the transfer of Toni Kroos.” Outside of the Boot


Hull City – What’s My Name?

July 22, 2015

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“Hull City started the 2014/15 season with much optimism after the previous year’s exploits, when they had comfortably retained their Premier League status and reached the FA Cup final for the first time in their history, only losing 3-2 to Arsenal after extra time in a thrilling match. It was therefore particularly disappointing the way things turned out, as their Europa League adventure ended almost before it had started and, most painfully, they were relegated on the last day of the season.” The Swiss Ramble


What Do You Think of it So Far?

July 22, 2015

“I went into this summer hoping that we wouldn’t try to do too much in the transfer window. Last season suggests that one player can make a difference (in this case, Suarez) – whereas multiple additions can move a team back into transition. I was very much hoping that we’d focus on doing one thing well in the window, rather than trying to solve every problem in the squad. The priority in my opinion was clear – we scored roughly half as many goals compared to the previous season (whilst conceding roughly the same amount). That needs to improve.” Tomkins Times


Diplomatic Relations: The USMNT and Cuba Play Soccer in a Changing World

July 22, 2015

“Ah, the golden summer of American footie rolls on. First, the women’s national team rampages across Canada, shutting out the world and ending up with individual covers of the same magazine. And now, the men are cruising through the CONCACAF Gold Cup competition — a tournament that, I will grant you, had eluded me for most of my career. However, it seems to be such a big-deal pile of initials that 40,000 people will show up in Baltimore on a day halfway between Gobi Desert and blast furnace to watch the United States dismantle Cuba, 6-0, in a game that ended for all practical purposes in its first two minutes. (The absence of any side from Central America in the doubleheader was said to have held attendance down.) No game seems as much like a mismatch as one that has the winning coach still warning his team about overconfidence a half-hour after the game is over.” Grantland


Rafeal van der Vaart needs Real Betis; Real Betis needs Rafael van der Vaart

July 22, 2015

“Dolores travelled 80 miles up the E-5 autovia from Chiclana de la Frontera to Seville. She wanted to be at Real Betis’s Bentio Villamarín stadium when it presented its new signing. She wasn’t the only one, either. Around 4,000 fans, either without jobs, on their lunch break or skipping work, also made their way towards Avenida de Heliópolis, clad in green and white and looking forward to catching a glimpse of Rafael van der Vaart. Van der Vaart’s road to Betis has seen stops at Ajax, Hamburg, Real Madrid and Tottenham. The midfielder who has made 109 appearances for the Netherlands’ national team describes himself as a street fighter, someone desperate to enjoy himself on the pitch and entertain fans.” Fusion


Scottish Premiership ins and outs – Summer 2015

July 20, 2015

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“With Celtic, Aberdeen, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and St Johnstone all involved in European competition qualifying, several Scottish Premiership managers have a particularly short close season during which to reshape their squads. Champions Celtic are the only club with the financial muscle to splash significant amounts of cash in the transfer market and started their summer recruitment by paying £1.5m to Manchester City for central defender Dedryck Boyata. However, it is Dundee who have had the most significant turnover of playing staff so far.” BBC


Tactical Philosophy: Besnik Hasi

July 20, 2015

“Born in Gjakovë, Kosovo on 25th December 1971, Besnik Hasi started his football career at Liria Prizren (then a team playing in the Superliga of Kosovo), before moving to many different clubs in Balkan leagues, and then in 1994, found as he recalls his 2nd home: Belgium. In 1994 he signed for the KRC Genk, where he played 141 games, winning the Belgian Pro League and Belgian Cup once each.” Outside of the Boot


Fifa: New taskforce announced to tackle corruption

July 20, 2015

“Fifa is to set up a taskforce of 11 people to look at reforming football’s scandal-hit world governing body. Proposals for reform will include term limits for presidents and integrity checks for top officials, president Sepp Blatter announced. Fifa will hold an extraordinary congress to elect its new president on 26 February 2016, he added. Blatter, 79, announced he would stand down in June – just four days after being re-elected president. Blatter’s resignation on 2 June followed the arrest of seven Fifa officials as part of a United States investigation that saw 14 people in total indicted on corruption charges.” BBC


New Season Means New Start for these Eleven?

July 20, 2015

“While fans are wondering what’s been cooking with their Bundesliga clubs before the season start, teams are getting up to speed with their pre-season preparations. With the exception of those who represented their national team over the summer, players have returned to their clubs to get ready for the new campaign. In addition to the new boys arrived in the summer transfer market, clubs also eagerly anticipate the return of players recovered from long-term injuries. And we should also consider players looking for fresh opportunities, as the new season marks a new chapter in their careers. Whether they just arrived to a new surrounding to change their fortunes or determined to get more playing times at their current club, we, at Bundesliga Fanatic, compiled a dream team of players looking for a fresh start in the 2015-16 season.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Players swap a Greek tragedy for desert bounty

July 20, 2015

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“Whilst the rest of Europe anxiously awaits the decision on Greece’s financial future, the nation’s football clubs are trying their best to prepare for another league campaign. Unfortunately, it is becoming harder to entice players to head to southern Europe, such is the uncertainty that surrounds both the country and its football, meaning more stars are looking east rather than risk the financial uncertainty in southern Europe. Last season saw Greek football reach its lowest point. There was a surge in crowd violence, including wild scenes before February’s Panathinaikos-Olympiakos derby as visiting coach Vitor Pereira, formally of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli, was chased from the pitch by angry PAO ultras, whilst one fan was killed before a derby game in Crete.” Football Pink


Social media and a new wave of football hooliganism

July 20, 2015

“British football has a prolonged and uncomfortable history with hooliganism. From 1960 to the 1990s, that destructive culture of criminal behaviour spread dramatically to the extent where violence, fights and rioting became common both outside and in stadiums. Reducing it required a massive operation involving the deployment of more policemen, identifying and banning culprits and restructuring stadiums.” backpagefootball


A leader, a mentor, a teacher…a captain is the manager’s right hand man

July 20, 2015

“How to sum up Tottenham Hotspur’s last season in words – Harry Kane, 5-3 win over Chelsea, runners-up, fifth again or maybe even young talent. However you look at it, it’s been interesting. But what’s lacking? It’s not a goalscorer that’s for sure and it definitely wasn’t a lack of depth, yet something was missing. Now I could write and write, making you read a big anti-climaxing paragraph of what Tottenham need but instead I’m just going to come out and say it…they need a captain.” backpagefootball


CONCACAF powers USA, Mexico find frustration in Gold Cup group play

July 17, 2015

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“With the United States’ recent success against big-name international competition, the team and its fans could be forgiven for thinking the CONCACAF Gold Cup would be a breeze. The U.S. did win the toughest group of the competition, but the results were far from comfortable. A draw with Panama in the meaningless group finale followed one-goal wins over Honduras and Haiti that secured Group A, but the U.S. never looked entirely comfortable in its trio of matches. After smash-and-grab victories over the Netherlands and Germany in June, the Americans continued a troubling pattern of inability to dictate matches when opponents sit back.” SI

Altidore off of USA’s Gold Cup roster; Beasley among Klinsmann’s adds
“Time has run out on Jozy Altidore, whose recovery from a hamstring injury didn’t progress fast enough to warrant an extended place on the U.S. national team squad that will make a run at a second consecutive CONCACAF Gold Cup title. Altidore was among three players cut Tuesday by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who had the option of making up to six changes to his 23-man tournament roster following the conclusion of the group stage. Altidore will depart along with defender Greg Garza and midfielder Alfredo Morales. They’ll be replaced by veteran defender DaMarcus Beasley—who’s coming out of international retirement—forward Alan Gordon and midfielder Joe Corona.” SI


Can Louis van Gaal Get the Best out of Bastian Schweinsteiger for a Second Time?

July 17, 2015

“In the midst of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s departure, there has been a sense of disappointment amongst the Bayern Munich fans. As a much-loved figure in the Bavarian capital, Schweinsteiger’s exit leaves a somewhat sour taste for them. And yet for all of his achievements at Bayern, and all of the trophies he has inspired, manager Pep Guardiola could no longer guarantee his continual place in the side. A therefore disgruntled ‘Basti’ may have needed to content himself with a place on the bench, and as an instigator of accomplishment and an icon amongst the Bayern faithful, that, clearly, wasn’t an option he entertained.”> Licence to Roam


Tactical Philosophy: Besnik Hasi

July 17, 2015

“Born in Gjakovë, Kosovo on 25th December 1971, Besnik Hasi started his football career at Liria Prizren (then a team playing in the Superliga of Kosovo), before moving to many different clubs in Balkan leagues, and then in 1994, found as he recalls his 2nd home: Belgium. In 1994 he signed for the KRC Genk, where he played 141 games, winning the Belgian Pro League and Belgian Cup once each.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Philosophy: Andre Breitenreiter
“Andre Breitenreiter, the footballer, was horribly unlucky. His luck started out undeniably positive as at only 17 years old, he lifted the Deutscher Pokal in 1992 with Hannover 96. Then plying his wares in the second tier, Breitenreiter became an overnight sensation. ‘The Lightning Bomber’ as he was known in Germany, made the jump to the Hamburger SV in 1994 and at 19 years of age, scored a 19 minute hat-trick in the now defunct Inter-Toto Cup against Danish side Ikast FS. His Bundesliga debut came against, of all the sides, Bayern München. His brace helped Hamburger SV to the victory. Andre Breitenreiter, the footballer, had arrived and tragically his luck decided to strike two days after that momentous victory over Bayern when he broke his cheekbone and jaw and was sidelined for the rest of the season.” Outside of the Boot


Lionel Messi’s idol just retired

July 17, 2015

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“Pablo Aimar, the curly-froed magician, and the one player who could make even the great Lionel Messi blush, has retired at 35 after a series of debilitating injuries. Aimar recently penned a farewell letter to his River Plate teammates after he was left off of the team’s Copa Libertadores squad by coach Marcelo Gallardo. The past few seasons had been torrid for Aimar as he underwent three ankle surgeries, a sadly recurring theme in what’s been a career hampered by injuries. Though younger fans of the game may not be know him well, it’s not hard to see why Messi idolized Aimar, an effortless player who seemed born to dance on the field. An entertainer rightfully nicknamed ‘El Payasito’ (the clown) for his effortless ability, Aimar was a fan favorite everywhere he went.” Fusion (Video)


A Tale of Two Transfers: The Divergent Perception of Raheem Sterling and Morgan Schneiderlin

July 17, 2015

“Earlier this week, a long-rumored transfer finally reached completion, as one of the best young players in the English Premier League ended the impasse with his former club and forced his way to a top-four team. And really, who could blame him? For the past couple of seasons, due to his relative youth and inexperience at the top level, he’d been making a weekly salary of less than £40,000 — well below market value. Rather than accepting a significant raise, he refused to extend his contract in order to pressure his then-current team into selling him to a bigger club. With the clock ticking on a contract that had only two years left to run, an agreement came about … and Morgan Schneiderlin officially moved to Manchester United. In other transfer news, Raheem Sterling moved from Liverpool to Manchester City.” Grantland


West Bromwich Albion – Like Clockwork

July 17, 2015

“As West Bromwich Albion prepare for their sixth consecutive season in the Premier League, it’s fair to say that they have managed to have rid themselves of the unwanted tag of being a “yo-yo” club that constantly bounces between the Championship and the top flight. However, the fight to retain their Premier League status has not been without problems in the last two years. They narrowly avoided relegation in 2013/14 when they finished in 17th place, while Albion looked in some danger last season before the Tony Pulis effect kicked in with the results under the experienced manager enough to guide the team to mid-table security. Chairman Jeremy Peace said that this was ‘testament to the relentless intensity that (Pulis) brings to the challenge’ and the team’s improvement fully justified his decision to bring in the Welshman in January.” The Swiss Ramble


Tactical Philosophy: Hamza Hamzaoğlu

July 14, 2015

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“Hamzaoğlu was born in in Greece but after spending 7 years on the west side of the Aegean sea, Hamzaoğlu had to move to Turkey with his family due to problems caused by the Cyprus dispute. The family moved to İzmir following a few traumatic weeks of uncertainty on the road and young Hamza managed to settle quickly in his new city. At the age of 14, he put together a team in his neighborhood and coached the team for local matches. This got him noticed by various local football men. Hamza Hamzaoğlu was always crazy about football, and he played for 8 different clubs including boyhood love Galatasaray.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Philosophy: Garry Monk
“Garry Monk’s Swansea journey began back in 2004 where the team was playing in League Two, the fourth tier of English football. His first season saw the Welsh side get promoted and the rise to the Premier League followed. Playing under the likes of Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup, Monk played through times of possession based success and his own management style was only going to go one way. Having played during Swansea’s first major trophy under Laudrup, Monk witnessed how to bring success to a mid-table side, and this high-pressing, possession based game came be heavily seen in Monk’s Swansea side.” Outside of the Boot


Gold Cup minnows swim in uncertain waters

July 14, 2015

“CONCACAF is Mexico, the United States, and everyone else. This is a line that is used quite frequently when one is searching for things to talk about CONCACAF. Whether at a bar, a match, or in a studio the following thoughts are almost always expressed when talking about the region during the Gold Cup, the top international competition in North and Central America, ‘Two big teams, a bunch of small ones, and hey isn’t Canada terrible? Next question.’” backpagefootball


A guide to formations: The 4-3-3

July 14, 2015

“The 4-3-3 formation is designed to both gain control of the central midfield whilst also allowing for variety in attack. It is common for one of the three midfielders to operate as a defensive midfielder whilst the two remaining midfielders have more responsibility in attack. The 3 attackers are often split into two wingers (LW and RW) and 1 striker; the wingers do have some defensive responsibility though and if they are ignored then it can cause plenty of problems when out of possession.” Outside of the Boot


Phoenix from the flames: How do you resurrect a football club?

July 14, 2015

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Bradford Park Avenue in action during a Division Three North match against Wrexham in 1955
“The lower reaches of English football are littered with clubs reborn from the ashes of previous incarnations. Maidstone, Bradford Park Avenue, Scarborough, Halifax, Chester, Darlington and Rushden & Diamonds are among those to have risen, phoenix-like, from the flames of their earlier demise. Hereford – responsible for one of the great FA Cup giant-killing acts, but wound up last December – are the latest former Football League club to begin the journey back from oblivion. Five months after they set alarm bells ringing – literally – when they were handed the keys to their ground, Hereford return home to Edgar Street on Saturday with a pre-season friendly against celebrated fan-owned non-league outfit FC United of Manchester.” BBC (Video)


Manchester United’s transfer strategy has been shockingly sensible

July 14, 2015

“If you have a midfielder, you’d be best advised to keep him under lock and key for the next six weeks. Manchester United has a taste for blood, and no midfielder is safe. While most of us were either out boozing or finally watching those documentaries in our Netflix queue, United went out and signed two of the best midfielders on the market – former Bayern Munich linchpin Bastian Schweinsteiger and Southampton’s previously Arsenal or Tottenham-bound distributor, Morgan Schneiderlin. Only a few years removed from Sir Alex Ferguson playing strikers, defenders, wingers, and literally one of the coaching staff in midfield, United is finally properly addressing what was a glaring weakness.” Fusion


Raheem Sterling and the transfer everyone hates

July 14, 2015

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“Depending on who you talk to, Raheem Sterling is either a naïve puppet, an avaricious sell-sword or a plain old traitor. It’s been several years since a player’s desire to leave a Premier League club has become so acrid. All departing players can expect to be booed on their return. Sterling can expect the bilious depths of a football fan’s considerable ire, nothing less. But, however distasteful the whole affair has been, Sterling has perhaps been cast too lightly as the villain. By any measurement of decency and professionalism (even by the Premier League’s own stunted morality) Sterling has not behaved well. ‘Phoning in sick’ for training is grubby and juvenile but not, I expect, uncommon.” Football Pink


Bradley scores, but Dempsey still the difference in USA’s draw vs. Panama

July 14, 2015

“The indefatigable Michael Bradley scored early in the second half on Monday night in Kansas City to lift the struggling U.S. national team to a 1-1 draw against Panama in the final game of the CONCACAF Gold Cup’s group stage. The Americans entered the match having already sealed passage to Saturday’s quarterfinal, while Panama was desperate for a good result (the U.S.’s next opponent and Panama’s fate will be determined over the next two days). Fittingly, Los Canaleros started the game with vigor and took a deserved first-half lead. Although the U.S. demonstrated very little of the cohesion and chemistry it hoped to establish before the knockout rounds, it did pull level thanks to a few reliable qualities—resilience, good goalkeeping and the inventiveness of Clint Dempsey.” SI


7 strikers that need to be upgraded on FIFA 16

July 14, 2015

“In FIFA, as in football generally, goals are the key to every single match, as long as you get one more goal than your opponent you’ll be fine. In FIFA 15 the outrageous goal was king thanks to some dodgy goalkeeping mechanics. In FIFA 16 we think that problem should be fixed so we expect poachers to become the focal point of a lot of teams. We’ve picked out seven of them who need upgrading in FIFA 16.” Squawka


A land that time forgot – Steaua Bucharest and the 1986 European Cup

July 14, 2015

“Way back in the mists of time that was 1986, it was possible for an Eastern European team to become kings of the continent. Everyone remembers the great Red Star Belgrade team of 1991, of course, but five years before that, in 1986, the Ros-Albastrii ( the Red & Blues) of Bucharest became the first club from the East to claim the ultimate prize in European club football.” backpagefootball


U.S. advances to Gold Cup quarters, but doesn’t impress in win over Haiti

July 11, 2015

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“The record will show that the U.S. national team won its CONCACAF Gold Cup group after only two games. But the scoreboard doesn’t begin to show how difficult it was to do so. Three days after struggling to beat Honduras, the Americans squeaked by a dangerous Haitian squad, 1-0, before 46,720 fans on a temporary grass field at Gillette Stadium. Clint Dempsey scored his third goal of the tournament—he’s the only American to find the net so far—and goalkeeper Brad Guzan made a spectacular second-half save to rob Haiti (0-1-1) of a draw it probably deserved. The U.S. (2-0-0) will move on (not before playing Panama on Monday) but has plenty of work to do to find its championship form.” SI

2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup
“The 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup is the 13th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup competition and the 23rd CONCACAF regional championship overall in CONCACAF’s fifty years of existence. It is currently being held in the United States, with two matches being played in Canada, marking the first time the CONCACAF Gold Cup is played in that country. …” Wikipedia

2015 concacaf Gold Cup – Schedule & Results


A guide to formations: The 4-1-2-1-2

July 11, 2015

“The 4-1-2-1-2 formation is a variation of the standard 4-4-2 and there are two versions of this formation. In both versions, the back 4, central defensive midfielder, the central attacking midfielder and the two strikers stay the same. The main difference is the role of the two extra midfielders. In one variation, they play as wide midfielders and in the other, as central midfielders. This slight difference in positions has a large impact on the roles of the other players and the team’s overall style of play.” Outside of the Boot


Copa America 2015: Team of the Tournament

July 11, 2015

“Chile ended their near century drought with a penalty shoot-out victory over Argentina in front of a sea of red in Santiago on Saturday to claim their first ever Copa America. It was a triumph of the collective over the individual and fittingly rewarded the country’s best ever generation with victory on home soil. Yes, there had been some kind refereeing decisions that had gone their way but that shouldn’t take anything away from a fantastic team performance by Sampaoli’s men. For Argentina, it was so close but yet so far as they fell at the final hurdle for the second year in a row. For them the wait continues. After a memorable tournament, now comes the time for reflection and a chance to recognise some of the best performers from Chile 2015. Playing in a 4-2-3-1, here are the players that stood out for me over the course of the last few weeks.” Outside of the Boot


Lyon – All The Young Punks

July 11, 2015

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“At the beginning of the 2014/15 season very few analysts expected Lyon to be among the front-runners in Ligue 1, given that they had just changed their manager, replacing Rémi Garde with Hubert Fournier, and spent virtually no money. However, their exciting young side led the table for a lengthy period before finishing in a highly creditable second place behind the expensively assembled Paris Saint-Germain, thus qualifying for the Champions League. Expectations were on the low side, as Les Gones had endured much disappointment in the previous two seasons, failing to reach their previous heights by only finishing 3rd and 5th in the league.” The Swiss Ramble


Sergio Busquets – the underrated key of Barcelona’s success?

July 11, 2015

“When you think of Barcelona’s successes from 2008 onwards the three players who immediately come to mind are Lionel Messi, Andreas Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. There’s another player though who is rarely spoken about that should receive equal praise in relation to how Barcelona perform. His name is Sergio Busquets.” backpagefootball


An Intimate Portrait of a Professional Footballer’s Last Match An Intimate Portrait of a Professional Footballer’s Last Match

July 11, 2015

“When Milad Ahmadvand, the team photographer of Swiss club FC Winterthur, learned that former fan favorite Sawwas Exouzidis would play his final game as a professional footballer against his one-time club, it was an opportunity he couldn’t resist. The result is an heart-wrenching, intimate portrait of a man coming to terms with the end of his career. Eight by Eight spoke with Ahmadvand about the photo series, titled “My Last Game,” and he agreed to share a truncated version of the essay.” 8 by 8


O, Louis: In Search of Louis van Gaal

July 9, 2015

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“… The book, translated by David Doherty, is very good but it is as much about its author, Hugo Borst, as it is about Van Gaal. Its success is largely dependent on whether the reader can find Borst as interesting – as engaging, as irritating, as quotable, brilliant, monstrous and human – as his subject. The answer to that changes from page to page – yes, no, maybe, no, yes, maybe, no, no, Jesus no, no, maybe. It’s like reading about a match that goes into extra time and endless mucky replays, between Borst and Van Gaal or, more accurately, Borst and Borst. Borst, the Van Gaal lover versus Borst, the Van Gaal hater; Borst, the man who wants to be Van Gaal’s best friend versus Borst, the man who wants to annihilate Van Gaal; Borst, the gobshite, versus Borst, the astute, passionate, sometimes brilliant, football writer. It’s a great game for the neutral. But those of us who love our football know that there is no such thing as neutrality.” Guardian

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and… err, the poet
“He finds enemies when they are not there. There was a falling out between Louis van Gaal and his biographer, Hugo Borst, seven years ago when the former was coach at AZ Alkmaar. Van Gaal accused Borst of giving away his mobile phone number. Borst took exception. Things were never the same between the pair, who had been close, and Borst’s highly entertaining work is not flattering.” Independent

amazon – O, Louis: In Search of Louis van Gaal


Football Italia – Italian Football in an Age of Globalization

July 9, 2015

“Football has undergone a period of transformation over the last thirty years. Despite these global processes, different national leagues have adapted in different ways. After an initial period of success directly after Italia ’90, Italian football has gone through a period of sustained crisis. It has been blighted by financial mismanagement, corruption scandals and fan violence. This has impacted Italy’s ability to compete on a global stage. Football Italia accounts for the development of Italian football in relation to the wider global transformations impacting football and addresses the reasons for Serie A’s initial success and current malaise.” Bloomsbury


Tactical Philosophy: Brendan Rodgers

July 9, 2015

“While this website has made it’s name focusing on the lesser known youth of this beautiful sport, and combined it with a tinge of tactical flavour meant for the football enthusiast, we found a large gap to be exploited in terms of combining the two. This mini-series thus focuses on young managers (below the age of 45) and their tactical philosophies, deriving what got them here and where they could go. In this piece, Shubham Ahuja takes a look at what makes Brendan Rodgers, the man who divides so much opinion, worth the fuss.” Outside of the Boot


From the Back Page to the Front Room

July 9, 2015

“It’s funny how just an idea for a book can make you think differently. In this one, Roger Domeneghetti looks at how the media and football are now almost always intertwined and linked and how they can both dominate our lives. We all remember the Prime Minister talking about David Beckham’s metatarsal, right? Of course we do, it was reported as huge news! I’ve read many a football book, I love reading about different aspects of our beloved game. Yet no book has sent me nostalgically back to the classroom like this one. That is in no way a criticism, I adored my history lessons and this book is a bit like learning from a wonderful historian that can get you thinking of ancient times and relating it to the present day. In the opening chapter it dispels the myth that football was born in England, nope instead it origins probably started in China around 225BC, not many football books will take you to the Tsin Dynasty.” The Footy Blog

amazon


The Ugly Game – How football lost its magic and what it could learn from the NFL

July 9, 2015

“Martin Calladine is a disillusioned football fan who is going over to the ugly game that is American football. On his way out he offers observations on the differences between the two sports in 20 loosely connected short essays. He is an intelligent consumer of the sports, rather than a business insider or supporter activist, and brings some interesting perspectives to bear on the current failings of football. But The Ugly Game is not even a wish list, let alone a manifesto for change. There is no rigour in the 
comparisons; he uses the Premier League, English football and football in general interchangeably. The hugely differing structures and contexts that surround the NFL and Premier League are ignored. Calladine has a desirable destination in mind but no means of direction towards it.” WSC

Piece for TheSecretFootballer.com: Five lessons the Premier League could learn from the NFL
“In the United States, you can buy almost anything. Anything that is but the Super Bowl. Because, remarkably, the National Football League (NFL) is a sport where the worst team still gets the first pick of the best players. A sport where the amount that clubs can spend is tightly controlled to prevent billionaires buying success. A sport where TV income is shared equally, where there’s no prize money for winning the Super Bowl and where smaller clubs can hold on to their star players. For the growing band of British NFL fans, then, the game offers not just an exhilarating sporting spectacle but a vivid reminder of where English football has gone wrong. Here’s five lessons – of many – that the Premier League could learn from the NFL …” The Ugly Game

amazon – The Ugly Game


The Great Escape: a wake-up call for Hamburg

July 9, 2015

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“In 1987, the city of Berlin (although still divided at the time) celebrated its 750th anniversary. In its famous Olympic Stadium, Thomas von Heesen led the victorious players of Hamburger SV up the steps to be presented with the DFB Pokal (the German Cup) on June 20th of that notable year. Bearing in mind the club’s long and proud heritage and its recent successful history, no one could have foreseen that this – up to now – would be the last significant honour won by German football’s Dinosaur.” Football Pink


Golazo! The Beautiful Game from the Aztecs to the World Cup: The Complete History of How Soccer Shaped Latin America.

July 9, 2015

“THERE has been perhaps no better fullback in the history of football than Domingos da Guia (pictured). The strong and elegant defender, known as the ‘Fortress’, guarded Brazil’s flank in the 1930s and 1940s. Yet as a boy he was afraid to play until his brother prodded him: ‘Aren’t you any good at dancing?’ Domingos was and he brought his samba skills to the pitch, swinging his hips and evading opponents, a precursor to the joga bonito (‘play beautifully’) style of recent Brazilian stars.” Economist

Golazo! by Andreas Campomar and Futebol Nation by David Goldblatt: the football myth behind Brazil’s World Cup
“On 12 June, the World Cup will kick off in São Paulo. Until recently, there’s been an assumption that, certainly by comparison with the two World Cups to follow, in Russia and Qatar, this would be a fun tournament, a month-long carnival in the home of Pelé and “the beautiful game”. What, after all, is Brazil other than football, and who has ever played the game better? Then came the Confederations Cup, the eight-team warm-up event for the tournament, last summer. Matches came to be preceded by a familiar ritual of street protest – sparked by a proposed increase in bus fares in São Paulo, but soon encompassing a range of issues, from corruption to fury that so much has been spent on the World Cup when so many public services are in disrepair. With a sense of shock, the world realised that Brazil is not universally supportive of the tournament and there is a very real prospect of chaos. As these two books demonstrate, though, Brazil’s relationship with football has never been the easy romance of stereotype.” <a href=”

amazon – Golazo! The Beautiful Game from the Aztecs to the World Cup


Real Madrid has finally kicked out Iker Casillas, the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the club

July 9, 2015

“Iker Casillas, who has been at Real Madrid since he joined in 1990 at the tender age of nine, will leave the club to join FC Porto. It hasn’t been made official, but at this point, it is only a matter of time. This puts an end to a complicated stand-off between the player and the club that you can read all about here. In the end, it looks like Madrid was so desperate to get rid of Casillas that it agreed to pay him 15 million euros to leave. Casillas is, without a doubt, one of the three most important Madridistas of all time, so if his exit makes little or no sense to you, I wouldn’t blame you.” Fusion


Podolski and Beck transfers continue legacy of Germans playing in Turkey

July 9, 2015

“Turkish footballers playing in the Bundesliga is a fairly common sight, which, when you consider the history of Turks in post-war Germany, shouldn’t be too surprising. In the midst of the West German economic upturn of the 1960’s, the country was suffering from a severe lack of labourers to meet demand. To rectify this, the West German government, through various arrangements and agreements with various other European nations, began to admit large amounts of guest workers into the country; the vast majority of these workers came from Turkey. Many of these Turkish migrant workers ended up staying in West Germany and eventually would bring their families over and eventually become permanent residents. It is the offspring of these initial migrant workers that we see lining up for Bundesliga sides week in and week out.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Hosts Chile stun Argentina to claim first Copa América title on penalties

July 5, 2015

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“After 99 years, it came down to Alexis Sánchez against Sergio Romero from 12 yards. The Arsenal forward attempted a Panenka, scuffed it badly, and scored anyway as the goalkeeper dived to his left. Misses from Gonzalo Higuaín and Éver Banega in the shootout proved decisive and, finally, Chile, one of the four participants at the inaugural Copa América, had a first international trophy. For Argentina the drought goes on: 22 years since their last trophy and an increasing sense that this gifted generation of players will remain unfulfilled.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Argentina’s painful title drought continues with loss in Copa final
“As the last penalty of this Copa America final was taken, Lionel Messi stood slightly apart from the rest of the Argentina team, hands clasped tightly behind his back. When Alexis Sanchez’s shot hit the back of the net and the sea of red-clad fans inside the Estadio Nacional here erupted, Messi remained motionless for a few long, poignant seconds, staring straight ahead, before walking away. There was just time enough for a slow gaze over his shoulder at the wildly cavorting Chilean players near the corner flag before he was embraced by a supportive teammate.” SI

Chile beats Argentina on penalties in Copa America to win first major title
“A nation could barely watch, but Alexis Sanchez, given his third chance to win the Copa America, accepted it, scuffing an attempted Panenka but deceiving goalkeeper Sergio Romero anyway to give Chile a 4–1 win on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw. For Chile, the 99-year wait for a first-ever international trophy was over; for Argentina, the 22-year drought goes on. It had been a game that, after a bright start, had degenerated into a bruising, physical encounter in which fluent play was at a premium. Chances were rare—there were a couple of snap-shots from Sanchez and Ezequiel Lavezzi squandered a break with an overhit cross, but essentially this was an ugly midfield scrap.” SI – Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa América final: Messi stands in way of Chile’s inspired realists
“The training field echoes with laughter. Someone makes a joke about Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Garay and their shared love of Newell’s Old Boys. The players are, demonstrably, having fun: talk of splits and the destabilising presence of Carlos Tevez seems a long way in the past. Inside, Animal Planet still plays silently on the television in the corner and the technical staff still analyse their data, but they are no longer mumbling darkly about Louis van Gaal giving them a ‘ruined’ Ángel Di María, short on game-time and confidence. Argentina’s mood is noticeably relaxed.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa America 2015 Final | Key Battles: How to stop Messi, midfield battle and more
“60 years after these two sides met in the South American Football Championship final, they face up against each other in the modern version of the tournament. While Argentina may be favourites for the 2015 Copa America final, hosts Chile will prove to be a difficult opponent. Tom Robinson has a look at the key battles for the clash at the Estadio Nacional.”


Tactical Analysis: Chile 2-1 Peru | Vargas brace sinks spirited Incas

July 5, 2015

“Relations between neighbouring countries Chile and Peru have been fraught with difficulties and tension since as far back as 1880, so a semi-final Clasico del Pacifico was always likely to be hotly disputed contest.  And so it proved, with a contentious early red card and a couple of debatable decisions which eventually saw hosts Chile emerge victorious to book a place in Saturday’s final.  Argentina await them in Santiago as La Roja look to finally end their 99-year Copa America drought.” Outside of the Boot