What Fabinho and Liverpool’s defensive line do when the team press


“If we asked you to think about Liverpool’s pressing under Jurgen Klopp, what picture would spring to mind? I’ll hazard a guess that it’s one of their attacking players chasing down an opposition defender or a goalkeeper — think Sadio Mane on Zack Steffen in last season’s FA Cup semi-final or Ederson’s composure under pressure from Diogo Jota in the league game at the Etihad. …”
The Athletic

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Salah and Núñez seal Community Shield glory as Liverpool sink Manchester City

“As an augury of the 2022-23 season Liverpool will be the happier as Jürgen Klopp’s side already appear a slick team ready for serious combat. Manchester City do not. Pep Guardiola was hardly concerned about losing this first ever Community Shield staged in July but may scrutinise how Erling Haaland was near-anonymous throughout as this, despite the manager’s post-defeat protestations, disrupted the side’s rhythm. …”
Guardian

Coming This Season: Pep Guardiola 3.0

“Two months on, the euphoria has not yet faded. A few days ago, with the rich promise of a new season drifting into view, Manchester City released ‘Together: Champions Again,’ an official documentary detailing the thrilling, triumphant journey that culminated in Pep Guardiola’s team lifting yet another Premier League trophy last May. …”
NY Times

Arsenal’s US tour: What I learned – daily table plans, transfer clauses and staff changes


“In the lobby of Arsenal’s Orlando hotel lodge, there was evidence of footballers at rest: a table tennis table, a pool table, and — plugged into the widescreen television — the ubiquitous PlayStation. Even in their downtime, competition continues. A tour is a very particular experience for a footballer — the training is intense and the regime relatively strict. There are media commitments and matches. The fans come to party; the players are there to work. …”
The Athletic

25 Years On: Ronaldo’s Inter Debut After His Painful Barcelona Break-Up

“Ronaldo and his agent looked across at each other, gave a nod of the head and shook hands with Barcelona president Josep Nunez and vice-president Joan Gaspart. The Brazilian’s new contract would keep him at Camp Nou into the new millennium, and the paperwork was being printed out ready to sign within minutes. It was 3pm in the afternoon on a sunny summer’s day in 1997. The two parties agreed that now would be a good time to nip out, have a bite to eat and a glass of cava to celebrate the new agreement, before returning to put pen to paper and wrap up the day’s business. …”
The Sportsman

The ‘Pasty Pirlo’: Ange Postecoglou’s first Aussie signing at Celtic

“Despite the reported strong interest from a couple of English Championship clubs, Aaron Mooy has become Celtic’s latest summer signing, linking up with his former Australia coach Ange Postecoglou at Parkhead. Mooy, who has been living in Glasgow for the last six months, recently terminated his contract with Shanghai Port following a mutual agreement between the player and the club. The former Brighton star spent the last two years in China where he played only 31 games out of 60 available, due to a myriad of reasons like family issues, multiple COVID isolations, and lack of match fitness. …”
Football Paradise

Premier League owners: Who is in charge of your club?


“With the 2022-23 campaign quickly coming into focus and the summer transfer window in full flow, many Premier League owners are in the spotlight once again. Following the Chelsea takeover and the promotion of Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, there will be some new faces at the table this season. So, who owns your lot? See below for a breakdown of the ownership structure and board make-up of all 20 Premier League clubs…”
The Athletic

StatsBomb 360: Analysing Line-Breaking Passes in Liga MX

“As you might have detected from our recent content, we have a variety of new metrics derived from the StatsBomb 360 dataset that will shortly be available in data and via our analysis platform StatsBomb IQ for all 360 customers. Sharper minds like James Yorke and Thom Lawrence have already poked and prodded at the Premier League data to unveil actionable insights, so I’ve instead elected to widen the geographical focus and concentrate on one of the other 38 competitions around the world for which 360 data is currently available: Mexico’s Liga MX. …”
StatsBomb

2022-23 EFL League Two [4th division] – Location-map, with 2021-22 attendance…

“… The map here is a new template, one which I will have for the top 4 divisions in England this year. The map is a basic location-map, with inset maps of both Greater London and Greater Manchester. Also shown are small labels which point out the two promoted clubs (Stockport County, and Grimsby Town). And here is the part that makes this a new template: there is an attendance chart. The attendance chart shows 5 things for each of the 24 current League Two clubs. …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2022–23 EFL League Two

Best Premier League performances: No 16, Mohamed Salah for Liverpool v Manchester City


“… Greatness, despite what you may have heard, is not the same thing as being very good. In a way, they’re almost opposites. To be good is to be safe, smart, successful, all the usual stuff we admire. But to be sloppy or reckless and get the job done because you didn’t do it the usual way? That’s true greatness. The distinction is important here because Mohamed Salah appears on our list of the greatest performances in Premier League history for a game in which, by his standards at least, he wasn’t very good. …”
The Athletic

Mafia Madness and ‘The Miracle of Castel di Sangro’

“Stay with me here: You need  to read a 400-page nonfiction book about an inconsequential Italian club you’ve never heard of, from an inconsequential area you’ve never heard of, with inconsequential players you’ve never heard of, under an inconsequential manager you’ve never heard of, that had one improbably inconsequential season in Serie B from the 1990s. …”
Football Paradise
amazon

Transferspeak: The 22 stages of a transfer saga

“Transfer sagas are dead. Well, the classic, perfectly-sized sagas of the golden era, anyway. Bit of tapping-up, some balking at the asking price, a cheeky transfer request being slapped in, an 11th-hour hijacking, done deal, ‘as soon as I heard they were interested, there was no other place I wanted to go’. But something weird has happened. Transfers are now taking ages. Or are they? It’s the transfer window’s Muller-Lyer illusion: maybe transfers are just as long as they always were, but something is making them seem more drawn-out. …”
The Athletic

Iran’s World Cup hopes fading amid botched sacking and squad acrimony


“‘Azmoun and Taremi get Iranians dreaming,’ was the headline for an article on Fifa’s website after ‘Team Melli’ were drawn to face England in their first match of the 2022 World Cup. Just a few months on and with the team’s star strikers at loggerheads over the future of coach, Dragan Skocic, however, it’s not exactly been the preparation Iran supporters had hoped for as the squad attempt to make history by progressing past the group stage in Qatar. …”
Guardian
W – Dragan Skočić

Sensible Transfers: Liverpool

“Liverpool are good at Sensible Transfers. They identify gaps in the squad and make moves on soon to be available players that fit their system. A new striker was needed with something different to what they had, so they went out and bought Darwin Nunez. Salah and Mane’s contracts were coming to an end, so they bought Luis Diaz. So who you Liverpool sign to futureproof any potential departures. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Henry Cooke.”
YouTube

The Long Revolution of the Ultras Ahlawy

“CAIRO, Egypt — On Sunday, as Ahmed Abdel Zaher turned to celebrate scoring his side’s second goal in the final of the African champions league, he did something strange with his outstretched right hand. He extended his four fingers, and tucked his thumb over his palm. The goal itself was significant—it ensured that Cairo’s mighty Al-Ahly team would beat South Africa’s Orlando Pirates for its eighth champions league title. But in Egypt, it was Abdel Zaher’s celebration that later stole the limelight. For his four-fingered salute has over the past three months become a potent and divisive sign of opposition to the overthrow of Egypt’s former president, Mohamed Morsi. …”
Road & Kingdoms (2013)
Reading List: Ronnie Close
In Conversation with Ronnie Close about Cairo’s Ultras (Audio)
amazon

Thirty years of the backpass ban: The story of modern football’s best rule change


“… This summer marks the 30th anniversary of the backpass law being introduced, following FIFA’s successful experiment in Italy a year earlier. It is arguably the most significant — and the best — rule change in the modern game. The mindnumbing sight of goalkeepers rolling the ball out to defenders, receiving it back, picking it up and holding it in their hands to kill games, was gone. …”
The Athletic
W – Back-pass rule

The art of international football management – by those who’ve done it

“The pinnacle of the game. A job reserved only for the very best. That was how an international manager’s role was viewed for decades. The World Cup was where the globe’s top coaches would meet in the dugout, just as the best players were doing so on the pitch. While the growing importance of domestic leagues and the Champions League has curbed international football’s reputation in the 21st century, there remains a special enchantment to leading a national team to glory. No other job in football gives a manager the chance to bring such unbridled joy to so many people. …”
Guardian

England (including Wales, and Isle of Man) – map of all football clubs drawing above 1,000 game (2021-22 attendance figures): 143 clubs, including 51 non-League clubs.

“… The map shows all clubs in the English football system which drew above 1,000 per game in 2021-22 (home domestic league matches): 143 clubs, including 51 non-League clubs.
Also, there is an inset-map for all the clubs from Greater London-plus-the-immediate surrounding area (18 clubs from Greater London + 4 clubs from surrounding areas of the Home Counties). On the left-hand side of the map-page, the clubs are listed by average attendance, along with a column showing 3 things: league-level; 2021-22 league-finish; and promotion-or-relegation (green for promotion/red for relegation. …”
billsportsmaps

Shakhtar Donetsk seek €50m of damages from FIFA over lost transfer fees


Shakhtar’s chief executive Sergei Palkin is scathing of FIFA’s conduct
“Ukrainian football club Shakhtar Donetsk are seeking €50million worth of damages from football’s world governing body and the club has filed papers in the Court of Arbitration for Sport appealing against a ruling by FIFA that allows foreign players to unilaterally suspend their contracts in the war-torn country. The Athletic can exclusively reveal that Shakhtar, who have won the Ukrainian championship 13 times in the post-Soviet independence era since 1992, filed the documents to Matthieu Reeb, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) director general in Switzerland, in July. …”
The Athletic

Roc Nation’s Michael Yormark on Romelu Lukaku: ‘You have to play to his strengths … I don’t think that happened’

“Michael Yormark initially sounds like an American sports agent straight out of central casting as, having started his day as usual at 3.30am because ‘greatness is a process’ which requires dedication, the head of Roc Nation Sports slips into a smooth overview of how it feels to represent a roster of famous athletes including Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Siya Kolisi. …”
Guardian

Barcelona’s incompetence should be celebrated in an age of gross inequality


“The winner of the 2022 Football Book of the Year award is Barca by Simon Kuper, which was originally intended to be about how Barcelona became the world’s most revered football club. During Kuper’s research, however, the situation changed. Barcelona were no longer the world’s most revered club. Rather, they were being roundly mocked for their haplessness at board level. The book was published just before the departure of Lionel Messi on a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain last summer, which occurred because the club were in such a ridiculous state they weren’t able to register him as a player, despite them wanting to keep Messi and Messi wanting to stay. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Season of the Pitch

“‘The mindset was predisposed to be negative,’ the writer Pete Davies said not long ago. We were discussing English attitudes in the run-up to the 1990 World Cup—Italia ’90—the subject of his elating travelogue, All Played Out, often described as the greatest book about soccer. The national game had been in a bad way—the playing style primitive, the supporters feral. An article by Brian Glanville, a prominent reporter, carried the headline ‘England Abroad: Shame and Mediocrity.’ …”
BOOKFORUM
amazon: All Played Out: The Full Story of Italia ’90

Jack Kerouac and the Childish Art of Fantasy Football

“I have always had an uneasy and uncomfortable relationship with the work of Jack Kerouac. Even when I was what observers would have identified and described as an ‘impressionable’ youth prone to literary fads, carrying a battered copy of ‘On The Road’ in my limp, milky pale hand around with me, a battered copy that gained more visible prominence if it could be brandished within the promiscuous radius of half-closed, dreamy and cannabis occluded New Age girls’ eyes. I forced Kerouac’s faux hipster psychodramas and irresponsible frat boy antics down my throat, baulking on fayre that was trying too hard to be hip. …”
Football Paradise

Moment of Truth: What does it take to be a football manager?


Karl Robinson and Paul Warne let us into the emotional life of a professional football manager
“Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a football manager? Beyond simulation computer games, that is. A new podcast on BBC Sounds takes listeners into a world of sleepless nights, imposter syndrome and the obsessive behaviours of two managers in League One – the third tier of English men’s football. Moment of Truth follows Oxford United’s Karl Robinson and Rotherham United’s Paul Warne, who both agreed to wear microphones for the final stages of the 2021-22 season. …”
BBC (Video)

El Dorado: When Colombia Learned Money Talks In Football

“It’s hard to picture a time when being a professional footballer at the highest level did not mean astronomical wealth and lavish lifestyles. Yet, that was the reality for many of the world’s biggest stars in the early days of organised, professional football. There are bountiful stories of some of England’s biggest stars having to take summer jobs just to pay their bills in the early days as the Football Association and FIFA kept a tight lid on pay. Disgruntlement over finances was a common theme amongst players. It wasn’t exclusive to England either as Argentina was having its own issues with player wages in 1949. … They would soon find a home in, of all places, Colombia. …”
Longball Football

Sensible Transfers: Bayern Munich

“Domestically Bayern Munich are still dominant, having won another Bundesliga title in 2021/22. But elsewhere they are stuttering. They have made early wise signings with Mazraoui and Gravenberch from Ajax, but the big transfer news is that Lewandowski wants to leave. So how do you begin to replace the record-breaking-Pole? Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Marco Bevilacqua.”
YouTube

Blood, sweat and speeding plastic: 48 hours at the foosball World Cup


“In his 1928 novel Nadja, French surrealism ace Andre Breton described the city of Nantes as ‘perhaps with Paris the only city in France where I have the impression that something worthwhile may happen to me’. To think that he was still a good 94 years away from having the chance to wander around the bowels of his local sports arena in a vain attempt to track down the anti-doping officials at the foosball World Cup. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Belgium’s Next Noa Lang: Three Breakout Stars

“Noa Lang is a sort of commodity who has lit up the league in his stint with the champions of Belgium. He formed dangerous partnerships with the likes of Bas Dost and Charles De Ketelaere and has become unplayable on his day. I think he knew that this season was himself ‘closing the curtain’ on his time in the Belgian Pro League, an utterly underrated first division which has been dominated by Club Brugge in recent years. It was primarily Noa Lang, not the managers — Ivan Leko, Philippe Clement and most recently Alfred Schreuder —  who stole the show and made the key interventions on the way to another championship. …”
Football Paradise

Prepare to fail: the transfer survival plan for new Premier League teams

“To this day Tony Khan thinks Fulham had a good transfer window in the summer of 2018. Which is sweet. The untrained eye might be tempted to regard the £100m spent on Jean Michaël Seri, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Alfie Mawson, Andre Schürrle and at least half a dozen others as one of the great spending failures of the modern Premier League era. Particularly when you consider what happened next: relegation with 26 points, three separate managers and a full-blown fistfight between Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara that apparently began during meditation in a team yoga session. …”
Guardian

Best Premier League Performances: No 24, Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool v Leicester


“… It is a reflection of modern football that a full-back’s performance is spoken about in a purely attacking perspective — but Trent Alexander-Arnold gave a masterclass on the role on Boxing Day 2019 against Leicester City. December was the busiest month of Liverpool’s title-winning season. They played nine games across four competitions. Despite the schedule, Alexander-Arnold showed no signs of fatigue at the King Power Stadium. …”
The Athletic

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini Acquitted of Fraud

“Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, and his onetime ally Michel Platini were acquitted of fraud on Friday in the latest attempt by Swiss prosecutors to win a conviction in a sprawling, seven-year investigation into corruption at the highest levels of world soccer. The trial, held in the southern Swiss city of Bellinzona, was related to a $2 million payment arranged in 2011 by Blatter, who led world soccer’s governing body for 17 years, to Platini, a former France player who was at the time the president of European soccer’s governing body and a potential heir to Blatter as the most powerful executive in the sport. …”
NY Times

Noussair Mazraoui: Football’s Glorious Nonconformist

“Ajax full-back Noussair Mazraoui recently signed with Bayern Munich on a free transfer. He encapsulates everything we love about Ajax: determination against all odds, a pension for highwire-like acts on the sideline, and confidence to throw everything at the opponent. Nous will be missed in Amsterdam and his unique style will add something special to the German champions. …”
Football Paradise
W – Noussair Mazraoui

The Biggest Serie A Wins


“The biggest win in Serie A history remains Torino’s 10-0 destruction of Alessandria in May 1948. This was the era of the Grande Torino – the five-time champions of Italy (in successive seasons) and the backbone of the Italian national team. This legendary team scored 125 goals in Serie A 1947-48 – 49 more than any other team, while they won the league title by a massive 16 points despite playing in the two points for a win era. The 10-0 victory against Alessandria saw Ezio Loik score a hat-trick. …”
The Analyst

For Manchester City, Selling to Big Six Foes Is of Little Concern

Gabriel Jesus has signed for Arsenal and Raheem Sterling is almost certain to complete his anticipated move to Chelsea in the coming days. Both are intriguing transfers in and of themselves but, together, they represent something very unusual: players rarely move between Big Six Premier League clubs with all parties relatively satisfied with the deal. So what is Manchester City doing in allowing two regular first-team forwards to move to clubs that are, at least to an extent, direct rivals? …”
SI

Three Tales From the Transfer Market

“Let’s try something different in this week’s newsletter: A journey through modern soccer in three (vaguely related) stories. … 2. Lessons Do Not Get Learned. … Nobody watched Manchester United flailing in the Premier League and said: Yes, the issue here is the in-form left back. Nonetheless, the first signing of Manager Erik ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford was a left-back: Tyrell Malacia, to be exact, drafted in from the Dutch club Feyenoord. He will soon be joined, it seems, by Lisandro Martínez, an Argentine defender, and Christian Eriksen, a Danish midfielder, and Frenkie de Jong, currently with Barcelona, and possibly even the Brazilian forward Antony. …”
NY Times

Inside Monaco: Paul Mitchell, their revamped talent factory and a team that runs and runs


“Inside the auditorium of Monaco’s €55 million training base, the club’s sporting director Paul Mitchell reflects on his first days in the job in June 2020. This was amid the COVID-19 crisis that handicapped European football’s capacity to spend in the transfer market, as commercial, broadcasting and ticketing income all took a nosedive. Owing to the pandemic, building work had slowed down on the expensive regeneration of the club’s training facility and the perception, at least externally, was that Monaco had lost their way since lifting the Ligue 1 title in 2017, when they also reached the Champions League semi-finals during the same season under coach Leonardo Jardim. …”
The Athletic

Sensible Transfers: Tottenham Hotspur


Antonio Conte has improved Tottenham Hotspur enormously, so much so that they finished in the Champions League places. With that comes the allure of better players. Conte improved each player individually, and Spurs have already made moves in this transfer window. So whilst more new signings aren’t necessary, there are some sensible ones. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Marco Bevilacqua.
YouTube

Best Premier League performances: No 38, Steven Gerrard for Liverpool v Manchester United


“… Close your eyes and think of Steven Gerrard at his irrepressible, indomitable best. It’s a European night, isn’t it? If it’s not Anfield under the floodlights, it’s probably May 2005 in the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul. Or it’s the FA Cup final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium a year later, lashing home two equalisers, one of them in stoppage time from 30 yards out. …”
The Athletic

A.C. Monza


Associazione Calcio Monza is a professional football club that is based in Monza, Lombardy, Italy. The team plays in the Serie A, the first tier of Italian football, following promotion in the 2021–22 Serie B season. The club was founded in 1912 as Monza F.B.C. and on multiple occasions in the 1970s came close to promotion to the Serie A. Between the 2000s and 2010s, they faced financial issues and were declared bankrupt twice, in 2004 and 2015. Following Silvio Berlusconi‘s 2018 takeover of the club, Monza returned to the Serie B in 2020 after a 19-year absence and reached promotion to Serie A for the first time in 2022. …”
Wikipedia

Why Chelsea want to sign Raphinha and what Leeds star would bring to Tuchel’s side


“As far as statements of intent go, it’s hard to beat splashing out on a fast, skilful Brazilian winger to get the juices of a fanbase flowing. Todd Boehly has taken a remarkable amount of responsibility upon his own shoulders in Chelsea’s first transfer window under his joint ownership with Clearlake Capital, liaising directly with head coach Thomas Tuchel to draw up a list of priority targets and leading negotiations himself. Winning the race to sign Raphinha — although Barcelona appeared to be making moves yesterday — would be an eye-catching start. …”
The Athletic

Auxerre – Are They Worth Replacing Saint-Ètienne in Ligue 1?


“The second most successful French team of all time seemed set to stay in Ligue 1 next year, after a late goal nabbed a draw against Nantes on the final day of the season. However, in the relegation playoff, Saint Etienne fell on penalties in the second leg to Auxerre, a team who themselves have historical success to boot. They may have resided in the second tier since 2012, but this is still a side that got into the Champions League group stage in 2010. With one league title to their name, coming in 1996 with Laurent Blanc in defence, Auxerre have waited 10 years to return to their rightful home. The political nightmare of legendary coach Guy Roux warring with Jean-Pierre Papin is behind them, and 64-year-old Jean-Marc Furlan is at the helm. …”
Breaking the Lines (Video)

Concerns, Complaints and a Suicide Shake Chelsea F.C.


“Month after stressful month, the problems mounted inside Chelsea F.C. Almost a dozen employees of the club’s marketing department said they had come to expect being berated by their boss in front of colleagues. Others said they had faced his wrath in more humiliating ways, ordered to stand up and leave staff meetings on a single man’s word. The pressure took its toll. By last year, multiple Chelsea employees had vanished for weeks, or sometimes months, of medical leave. At least 10 staff members — from a department that employs about 50 people — had left the club altogether, one employee said. Then, in early January, a well-liked former staff member killed himself. …”
NY Times