Monthly Archives: August 2016

Mythbusters: Why Critics of Robbie Keane Were Wrong

Robbie Keane will call time on his 18-year Ireland career having made a record 145 senior appearances for his country
“While Ireland basked in the love-in of an almost year-long Brian O’Driscoll farewell, his counterpart on the national football team hasn’t always enjoyed 100% support. But when the history of the Irish game is written, Robbie Keane will rightly be spoken of in the same breath as our retired rugby icon. After 18 years, Keane has decided to hang up his international boots and it’s only when he’s gone will we realise what we’ve missed.” Pom Mo Goal

The Blood of the Impure

“The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, is, if you think about it, a pretty nasty song. It dreams, in one of its more memorable verses, that the “blood of the impure” will “irrigate our fields.” It’s a rousing anthem, to be sure, and I myself can frequently be heard humming it to myself in advance of a match being played by Les Bleus, or as I ride my bike or do the dishes. I’ve found that it’s sometimes hard to find a French person (at least if you hang out, as I do, with too many intellectuals), who can actually sing it without irony. ” MARCH 20, 2013 by  – Africa’s a Country

The Incredible Stats Behind Joe Hart’s Uber-Consistent Manchester City Career

“Joe Hart is off to Torino on a season-long loan. It could be a good move for the England keeper, though my personal hope would be that it opens up the opportunity for Fraser Forster to cement his place as England’s starting custodian; regular football, and a move away from the swirl of Pep’s brave new City where his options were all but exhausted and his omission would only be a story in itself, should reinvigorate a player who, should we not forget, has been a mix of sublime and infuriating for fans of England and Manchester City alike.” umaxit

2016–17 UEFA Champions League

“The 2016–17 UEFA Champions League is the 62nd season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 25th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup to the UEFA Champions League. The 2017 UEFA Champions League Final will be played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. The winners of the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League will qualify as the UEFA representative at the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, and also earn the right to play against the winners of the 2016–17 UEFA Europa League in the 2017 UEFA Super Cup. Real Madrid are the defending champions.” Wikipedia

After lengthy USMNT layoff, expect Copa continuity as World Cup qualifying resumes

“If it feels like it’s been a while since we heard from the U.S. national team, that’s in part because it has been—Jurgen Klinsmann and Co. rarely go more than two months without a game or camp—and in part because so much has happened in the meantime. The American men aren’t often so far from the spotlight for this long. Since the whistle blew at the conclusion of the Copa América Centenario bronze medal game on June 25, Lionel Messi missed a penalty kick, retired, then unretired from international football. Cristiano Ronaldo coached Portugal to the European crown, and Neymar kept his composure while Hope Solo lost hers.” SI

2016-2017 Season Preview: For Bayer Leverkusen, the Time is Now

“There are a few on Bayer’s squad who warrant close attention: 1. Kevin Volland, because he’s the team’s most expensive ever signing, 2. Jonathan Tah, because he’s going to be the future of the CB position in Germany, or 3. Benny Henrichs, because the youngster seems to have the talent to play almost anywhere on the pitch and has only impressed during his time with the first team. That said, if you watched the Olympics you know that there’s really one player set to steal the spotlight this season, and that is Julian Brandt. If the Games were any indication, he has added a new dimension to his game to go with his speed and technical ability.” Bundesliga Fanatic

The Question: How long will Liverpool keep faith with Jürgen Klopp?

“How long should it be before it’s reasonable to lose faith with a manager? How soon should improvement be seen? It’s not a question that has any easy answer – and it’s one to which the answer seems to be very dependent on context. Take Liverpool. On Saturday, Jürgen Klopp returns to White Hart Lane, the ground at which, last October, he managed his first Premier League game. The sense then was that Liverpool had pulled off a major coup to land one of the most exciting managers in Europe.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

The Fractious History Of Guardiola and Mourinho

“Ferguson never got on with Rafa, Clough didn’t see eye to eye with Revie and Mark Hughes doesn’t like anybody. Football is a game of intense passions, managers have let their emotions get the better of them on numerous occasions and feuds are commonplace; but you would struggle to uncover a conflict as enduring as that between Jose Mourinho and Josep Guardiola. The games’ two most highly rated managers will meet for the 17th time on September the 10th as they take their new sides into a Premier league season, both expected to bring glory to their respective ends of greater Manchester. Mourinho is expected to rebuild the Red Devils’ reputation as one of the powerhouses of European football, something that has been up in the air since the retirement of Alex Ferguson.” Football Pink

Neymar the hero of a nation as Brazil fans look for villains

“There were real grounds for concern when the final of the men’s Olympic football tournament went to penalties. How often do the Germans lose a shootout? Winning the gold medal was much more important for Brazil – they were in front of their own fans in the Maracana stadium, this was the only title they had never won and their game badly needed a boost.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Driving A Different Route: From Hearts, To Houston ang Holland

“It was during a recent run-of-the-mill conversation with a mate that our minds revisited one of the most glorious days in the 142-year history of Scottish club, Heart of Midlothian, which, consequently, was also among the most bitter and painful occasions for their Edinburgh rivals, Hibernian. We were, of course, recalling the 2012 Scottish Cup final when the Jambos put the Hibees to the sword in the Hampden Park sun, to record a heavy 5-1 win. Now, given that neither my friend nor I have an affiliation to either Edinburgh team, it was a somewhat peculiar topic to enter our rambling.” Football Pink

James Horncastle: A guide to Inter’s mess

“It was 3:45 in the morning in Nanjing when Inter kicked off their Serie A campaign on Sunday. The club’s new owner Jindong Zhang had promised to stay awake for it. ‘I will watch the game on television as will all the Suning staff as one big family,’ he wrote in a message wishing the team good luck for the new season. By 5am Zhang and his 13,000 employees could be forgiven for thinking they were asleep and in the grips of a nightmare. Except the nightmare was all too real.” calciomercato

Fallen Idols or Charm of the Championship?

“Since the inception of the English Football pyramid as we currently know it in 1992, English football has always operated within a very rigid, very strict hierarchy of power and quality. At the very top is the international behemoth, the commercial powerhouse and footballing nirvana coveted worldwide that is the Premier League. Dominated by the best of the best, from all corners of the world it is a league of ferocious intensity, some of the most passionate and famous fans and stadiums in the world, and an unequivocal and unapologetic influx of foreign talent both on the pitch and off it. The Premier League has grown into the world’s greatest domestic showpiece for the sport that we love, full of drama, pedigree, tradition and some of the most memorable moments in the history of the sport.” Outside of the Boot

Over/Under: European club, season predictions for 2016-17

“With the new top-flight seasons set to kick off in Italy and Spain this weekend–and Germany one week later–and the Premier League just underway, there are lots of predictions to be made and questions to be answered. Will the competitive imbalance in France, Germany and Italy continue to be a problem? Will we see a surprise winner in any league? Will there be an outsider who cracks the Champions League elite? And just who will Jose Mourinho fall out with next? With all of those questions–and more!–in mind, we take a look at the European club landscape in the over/under prism to provide as much clarity as possible entering a nine-month quest for trophies and championships…” SI

Low crowds and chaotic La Liga fixture list cannot deter from guarantee of drama

“Spain’s football stadiums will be full this season – and that’s an order. Well, they’ll look full, anyway. The Spanish league will fine clubs whose grounds aren’t at 75% capacity, double for those who don’t reach 50%. The part of their grounds that are visible on TV screens, that is. There will be someone there whose job it is to count and sanctions will apply to the stand and the corners opposite the master camera – the televisual U, it’s called. The bit that can be seen. As for the bit that can’t be seen, well, that bit can’t be seen.” Guardian

The Question: can De Bruyne and Silva prosper in their ‘free No8’ roles?

“These are, it must be stressed, very early days. Things will change, things will develop and besides, one of Pep Guardiola’s greatest skills is his protean nature, his capacity and willingness to change approach game by game – something that will be tested by the flood of matches an English season brings. But two games in to his competitive tenure as manager of Manchester City, certain patterns have already begun to emerge.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Burnley 2 Liverpool 0: Andre Gray terrorises Klopp’s defence as hosts show they’re not prepared to be relegation fodder

“Jürgen Klopp may have a vision for heavy metal football, but his defence is currently more like Spinal Tap. The deficiencies so glaring at Arsenal a week ago were more embarrassingly exposed as Burnley deservedly secured their first win since returning to the Premier League. For Sean Dyche, who argued English football is beguiled by overseas coaches to the detriment of home grown talent, there could have been no more satisfying scalp. Tactically and physically his side was superior to the visitors.” Telegraph

Five Bundesliga Players Who Are Facing A Critical Season In 2016/17

“Now that the Bundesliga season is finally upon us, we can look back on all that happened in this summer’s international tournaments and transfer window to see what teams and players look ready for the grind that is the Bundesliga season. From new look teams to players donning new shirts, the upcoming season is important for a lot of the teams that spent money this summer. But besides the teams, there are plenty of players who need to step up this term for a variety of reasons. Either their club future or international future might be on the line, and since this is the case, a lot of players, especially the five listed, have a critical season upcoming.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Tactical Analysis: Manchester City 2-1 Sunderland | Guardiola already implementing Juego de Posición

“With Manchester City now a couple of months into the Guardiola reign, while Sunderland barely a month into Moyes spell as manager, the ambitions but also issues of these teams going into the 2016/17 couldn’t be any more different. Pep Guardiola’s City have already begun successful implementation of his favoured Juego de Posición with the Catalonian coach being provided with both the players and funds he needs to succeed in his role as manager. The arrivals of Stones, Gundogan and Sane, without even mentioning the other £55m spent this summer, show the ambitions of both the club and everyone surrounding it. David Moyes, brought in quickly following the departure of Sam Allardyce isn’t blessed with nearly as strong a squad as he’d like, though the signings of Paddy McNair, Donald Love and Adnan Januzaj (the latter on loan), do suggest that Sunderland do have some sort of ambition ahead of next term. In the opening fixture of both sides season’s, it was Guardiola versus Moyes at the Etihad.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Analysis: Everton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur | Everton stay compact and frustrate Spurs

“Coming on the back of Euro 2016, which has caused disruption for many squads across the continent, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur are no different. These two sides have had a number of players representing their country at the tournament, leading to an incomplete pre-season prior to the Premier League season kicking off this weekend. Two men who have previously managed Southampton, Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino, have chosen not to over invest so far this summer, preferring to make just a couple of strong, yet not overly expensive signings. The pair met as managers of their respective sides, hoping to pick up their first three points of their 16/17 campaigns.” Outside of the Boot

Issue three of Póg Mo Goal’s magazine is available now (for free!)

“Irish website Póg Mo Goal has launched another edition of its superbly put together magazine, with contributions covering a wide variety of topics. The third issue of the magazine is available free in selected stores and online for a fee to cover shipping. It features 40 pages of excellent feature writing and beautiful photography and illustrations including an interview with the team behind YouTube channel COPA90.” backpagefootball, €5.99 – On Sale