Forget the soundbites and sniggers, Brendan Rodgers deserved better

October 5, 2015

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“Farewell, then, Brendan Rodgers. ‘It was a wonderful show of character and resilience.’ That was your catchphrase. Also: ‘Anyone can ask a team to just sit back and defend on the edge of the box.’ That was another. By the end it felt as if the final year and a half of Rodgers’ time at Liverpool – in total 40 months, 166 games (one fewer than Graeme Souness) and no trophies (also one fewer than Souness) – was measured out above all in soundbites and noises off, a constant bickering rehash of errors made, political missteps and arithmetically robust transfer denunciations. This was perhaps the oddest thing about Rodgers at Liverpool. Six glorious title-chasing months aside, a modestly engaging team punched at occasionally below and only rarely above their own weight. For the manager, however, it has been a bizarrely fraught and angry ride, a rollercoaster of pointless enmity and oddly personal rage.” Guardian

Brendan Rodgers’s sacking by Liverpool is inherently sad if you care about British football
“First David Moyes. Now Brendan Rodgers. Maybe neither manager was right for Manchester United and Liverpool but their sackings are significant blows for the hopes of British coaches to land the top jobs in this country. No-one is mentioning a British manager for Anfield and, given the field, probably understandably so. Ryan Giggs represents the best hope of one eventually taking over at Old Trafford again but he is a bit of a special case given his association and current role at the club. Chelsea will not go British if Jose Mourinho departs – they never have done under Roman Abramovich so are unlikely to break that trend. Manchester City and Arsenal are also unlikely to think a British manager is the way ahead for them either when Manuel Pellegrini and Arsene Wenger eventually leave.” Telegraph

Liverpool in crisis: the problems facing the next manager at Anfield
“Whoever takes over – such as Jürgen Klopp, should he accept the invitation – inherits a playing pool of shallow quality. Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino were absent from Rodgers’ final game due to injury but, even if they had been fit, Liverpool’s squad at Everton on Sunday would not have looked equipped to deliver on the club’s top-four ambition. Philippe Coutinho brings creative class, albeit inconsistently, Daniel Sturridge scores goals but is frequently injured, and the young potential that Rodgers was tasked to develop is there in Joe Gomez. Yet there is no outstanding core to this Liverpool team and the owners’ conviction that Champions League qualification is a realistic aim is at odds with the talent at the new man’s disposal. Rodgers had to contend with several seismic losses during his 40-month reign – add Jamie Carragher’s retirement to the departures of Suárez, Gerrard and Sterling. All were inadequately replaced. Before what proved Rodgers’ final home league game and win as Liverpool manager, an unnecessarily nervous 3-2 defeat of Aston Villa, he was asked whether mediocre results are inevitable considering his best players had been replaced by mediocre ones.” Guardian


Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-0 Sevilla | Allegri innovation keeps Sevilla at an arm’s length

October 5, 2015

“Juventus played a typical European game, taking control of the proceedings from the start and never allowed Sevilla a sniff at goal. The Old Lady ran out comfortable 2-0 winners on the night, and signalled their serious intent in the competition. Sevilla, meanwhile, were never in the game, and were overrun by the Bianconeri from the first minute to the last. Massimiliano Allegri did not repeat the mistakes that led to their loss to Napoli last weekend, and set his team up in the strongest way possible. Allegri showed his tactical nous in a European game once again, as he set his side up in a way that nullified the absence of a specialist right-back in the absence of the injured Stephan Lichtsteiner.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical choices in the center key to USA-Mexico CONCACAF Cup playoff

October 5, 2015

“Neither the United States nor Mexico heads into the CONCACAF Cup match in an ideal situation. Unrest has been the theme since the Gold Cup, with Mexico battling–yet appearing to narrowly avoid–key injuries sans a full-time manager and Jurgen Klinsmann still with some calls to make in regard to his first-choice lineup. Through the chaos in each camp, the key on Oct. 10 will likely be each team’s defensive approach. The finer details—player selection and formations—could change, but the broad strokes should remain the same because coaches don’t have time to drastically change now.” SI


Success Is No Longer Foreign to East Timor, but the Players Are

October 5, 2015

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“With so little to cheer in their nation’s brief soccer history, fans of East Timor’s national team would be correct to consider this the squad’s golden era. East Timor, which did not play a World Cup qualifying match until 2007 and did not win one until this year, has advanced to the second round of World Cup qualifying for the first time. Under normal circumstances, the team would be warmly received when it assembles in Dili, the capital, next week for its next two matches. But instead of cheering, infuriated fans in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony off Australia’s north coast, are raising questions about how the team was put together: Apparently the national federation went on a shopping spree for players in the world’s richest marketplace — Brazil — and came back with more than enough to reshape its team.” NY Times


Forever delayed: Theo Walcott, the prodigy who just will not come of age

October 5, 2015

“Amid all the conspicuous consumption of Baden-Baden in 2006, the dancing on tables and the parades of personal trainers, there was an incongruous constant, a small shaft of sanity in a mad, mad world. Most nights, Don Walcott would take his seat outside the small curry house. He was amenable, approachable and seemed a little bemused by the circus he and his son had suddenly found themselves a part of. It’s startling now to think that was over nine years ago, that that’s how long Theo Walcott has been a promising footballer. Everybody’s still waiting for Theo.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Are we seeing a Norwegian Renaissance in Europe?

October 5, 2015

“The Norwegian Eliteserien is not considered a top league in Europe, but recently it has shown that the league is still strong despite the nation’s relatively small population. This season has seen two Norwegian sides reach the group stages of the Europa League, while another fell at the last hurdle. In addition the national team is also showing a renewed strength in its attempts to reach next year’s European Championships.” backpagefootball