Premier League: The most unpredictable season?

December 8, 2015

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“It is the Premier League season that has everyone scratching their heads. Champions Chelsea are down in 14th. Leicester, bottom at Christmas last year, are top less than 12 months later. In fact, as this image below shows, the old cliche that anyone can beat anyone has never been more apt. Undoubtedly, there have been some strange results.” BBC


Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink: Heir to the Dutch coaching throne?

December 8, 2015

“Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink is a managerial rarity. He is, all at once, a young Dutch football manager (aged just forty-three), currently employed, and in the midst of a coaching career on an upward trajectory. As loveable Jimmy rocked up at Burton Albion in just over a year ago, he added his name to a diverse, and only sometimes illustrious list of names. From the collected wisdom, trophy cabinet and philosophies of Louis Van Gaal, to the plucky sojourners such as Marinius Dijkhuizen at Brentford, all of whom carry something seductively attractive to club owners and directors the world over; the DNA of a Dutch football coach.” Football Pink


UEFA Champions League: Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs FC Barcelona: Match Preview

December 8, 2015

“FC Barcelona will be looking to end their UEFA Champions League group stage on a high tomorrow evening, when they travel south of Cologne to Leverkusen to take on Bayer 04 at the BayArena. While Barcelona have utterly dominated the group to seal top spot, the second berth for the knockout stages remains entirely up for grabs; all three sides could yet join the Blaugrana in the Round of 16, depending on results in Matchday 6.” Barca Blaugranes


Quiet faith and kind patience – the deserved success of Watford

December 8, 2015

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“Watford’s success has been nothing if not understated. Like waking up to find the sun bright outside one’s window in the middle of winter, Watford’s success invites a slight smile but no small amount of bemusement. For a team whose solid consistency and durable success belied the extent to which they by no means set the Championship alight last season, à la Bournemouth, the Hornets could perhaps have been expected to struggle. Yet in a Premier League reminiscent of the End of Days, where Jamie Vardy scores for fun and Chelsea sit just two points clear of the relegation zone, Watford have proven a balm of consistency.” backpagefootball


Team of the Week: Matchday 15

December 8, 2015

“The Bundesliga often gets a reputation as a two-team league, and while it would be unfair to take away from the accolades of Bayern and Dortmund, that kin of characterization is equally unfair to the other teams. Leverkusen have played some of the most exciting and creative attacking football in Europe. Hertha seem rejuvenated under coach Pál Dárdai. Wolfsburg more or less dominated Manchester United in their two UCL matchups. Schalke 04 used to have the most exciting young core, with talents like Leroy Sane that is until Borussia Mönchengladbach burst onto the scene last year. With youngsters, like Andreas Christensen, Mahmoud Dahoud, and Nico Elvedi, they started 3 players in the center of the defense and midfield who are each 19 years old! So, the pre-match banter about not being afraid of Bayern looks to have been just confidence, as Gladbach, as a result of that youthful infusion coupled with outstanding performances from veterans, such as Granit Xhaka, Fabian Johnson, Oscar Wendt and Raffael emerged with a shocking 3-1 victory, extending their run of unbeaten games to 10, while handing the  Bavarians their first loss of the season! You can read an excellent breakdown of the game here.” Bundesliga Fanatic (Video)


Dick Forshaw – a Waterford pioneer and troubled soul

December 8, 2015

“Waterford has had its share of visitors over the centuries, ever since the Vikings first set up shop there back in the 9th Century. The football team have been no different, whether it was former World Cup winner Bobby Charlton, Polish international Piotr Suski or the Coventry born duo of Johnny Matthews and Peter Thomas who would enjoy great success down on the south coast, all playing in the blue of the city at one stage or other. In his recent, meticulously researched history of soccer in Munster, David Toms goes into some detail in the development of the sport in the southern province and he focuses especially on developments in urban centres like Cork, Limerick and Waterford.”backpagefootball