FIFA’s Dirty Wars

December 21, 2017


“Toward the end of the 2010 World Cup, Julio Grondona made a prediction, or perhaps it was a promise, to a group of journalists in the gilded lobby of Johannesburg’s Michelangelo hotel, the five-star Italian-marble palace where FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, had established its tournament headquarters. Argentina had just been humiliated, 4-0, by the Germans, but Grondona wasn’t worried about the backlash. In 31 years as president of the Argentina’s national soccer association, he’d endured personal scandal, government turmoil, economic collapse, and the ardent passions of the beautiful game’s fans. ‘Todo Pasa,’ read the inscription on his big gold ring. All things pass—all things except, of course, Julio Grondona. ‘No one is kicking me out until I die,’ he told the reporters. …” New Republic

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Arsène Wenger’s efforts to counter the counter cause Arsenal confusion

December 21, 2017

“Three weeks ago, before Arsenal lost to Manchester United, Arsène Wenger suggested playing a back three had helped his side combat the counterattack which, of all their many weaknesses over the past decade, has probably been their biggest. It was a claim that prodded interest at the time and has become more intriguing only in the days since. The truth of it will be severely tested on Friday as Arsenal face Liverpool who at the moment are one of the most dangerous counterattacking sides in the world. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Tactical Analysis: Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur | Guardiola extends winning run to 16

December 21, 2017

“Pep Guardiola guided his Manchester City side to their sixteenth consecutive victory in the Premier League with a dominant victory over Tottenham Hotspur. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were seen by many as the league’s best hope of ending City’s dominant run, but Spurs ended up leaving the Etihad Stadium on Saturday on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline, having been totally outclassed across all four phases of the game. …” Outside of the Boot


Milan misery intensifies amid defeats, finance questions and ‘moral violence’

December 21, 2017

“You could not blame Milan fans for enjoying a moment of schadenfreude. They had endured abundant humiliations already this season, from the 4-1 mauling at Lazio through to the last-gasp draw against pointless Benevento. It was time for somebody else to suffer. Better yet that it should be their neighbours, Inter, who had begun the weekend top of the table. …” Guardian


Celtic: Hearts deliver ‘boot up the rear’ to Rodgers’ ‘invincibles’

December 21, 2017


“Had you ventured into the Tynecastle Arms on Saturday night and asked every last Hearts fan in the place for their most optimistic scenario for the meeting with Celtic the day after, the chances are that none of their boozy dreams would have been as big and as fanciful as the trippy reality. Harry Cochrane was 10 years old the last time Hearts beat Celtic. Fellow midfielder Anthony McDonald was 11. For 20 games going back five-and-a-half years, Celtic had lorded it over them to a painful degree. Eighteen victories and two draws; 62 goals scored and nine conceded. …” BBC (Video)


In an Unforgiving Sport, They Minister to Hearts and Souls

December 21, 2017

“The work is done over a quiet cup of coffee, in the privacy of the physiotherapist’s room, or through a brief chat on the touchline after training. It might be no more than a quick text message or email, asking if everything is O.K. It is supposed to take just one day a week, but in reality it means being on call, 24/7, even years after the work has supposedly ended. It is entirely voluntary, and wholly unpaid. It can be sad and troubling: dealing with addictions and pain, fear and death. But it can be joyous, too: helping with births and marriages, healing wounds and building relationships. Most often, though, it is simply being there: a shoulder to cry on and an ear to bend, the one person in the relentless, ruthless environment of professional soccer who is not concerned with how well you are playing or how many goals you have scored. It is why many players, and so many teams, treasure the discreet presence of a club chaplain. …” NY Times


FM18 Project: Scouting Guide

December 21, 2017

“No matter what level you start at on Football Manager 2018, it’s imperative that you get your recruitment right. The best way to achieve this is to ensure that your scouting department is working effectively to provide you with accurate reports on potential targets. Here are a few ways to get the most out of scouting on FM18… Upon joining a new club on FM18 one of your first priorities should be to evaluate the staff you’ve inherited and decide who to keep and who to get rid of. It’s a cruel world, football. …” The Set Pieces