Does ‘Potterball’ exist?: Searching for patterns to how Chelsea’s manager plays


“In the 32nd minute at the Red Bull Arena, Chelsea’s possession game caught fire. On the right of defence, Trevoh Chalobah played a short pass to Christian Pulisic. Retreating under pressure, the American laid it off to Jorginho, who directed it towards the halfway line. There it found Raheem Sterling. Drawing a Red Bull Salzburg player with him into the Chelsea half, Sterling laid the ball off to Mateo Kovacic, who whipped a pass to the left where Kai Havertz was in a sea of space. The Germany international advanced into the final third and drew the final Salzburg defender, Bernardo, before squaring it to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. …”
The Athletic

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World Cup Dreams, Gone in an Instant

“LEEDS, England — For a second, Aleksandar Mitrovic looked panicked. He slumped onto his back on the Elland Road turf, his face a grimace, his hands covering his eyes. It was not immediately apparent what had happened: Perhaps his ankle had jarred, or his knee twisted, or a hamstring popped. Fulham’s medical team rushed onto the field. Marco Silva, the club’s coach, has been ‘managing’ his striker’s fitness for weeks, ever since Mitrovic picked up an injury while away on international duty with Serbia. He was taken off early in a defeat against Newcastle. He missed a game with Bournemouth altogether. He has admitted to playing in ‘a lot of pain.’ …”
NY Times

‘When you’re a referee of colour, you stand out more. But things are changing’

“On August 23, 1997, Uriah Rennie became the first black man to referee a Premier League match. Rennie, who made his bow overseeing a game between Leeds United and Crystal Palace, had a career that lasted 11 seasons and more than 170 games, until his final game on May 11, 2008, where he officiated a 2-0 victory for Liverpool over Tottenham. Rennie’s final appearance remains the last time a black man was the lead match official in a Premier League fixture. …”
The Athletic

The Instant Legend of Kvaradona


“BATUMI, Georgia — They used to worry that the Adjarabet Arena, with its sinuous arches and illuminated exterior, would turn into something of a white elephant. Batumi, after all, is a quaint resort town; it had little need for a 20,000-capacity stadium. Dinamo, the soccer team that was to call it home, generally required seating for only half that number. And then, at the start of April, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia arrived. …”
NY Times

The 92 Club: Morecambe, the Completely-Suzuki Stadium and the finale… for now

“There is an exclusive group called the Ninety-Two Club, whose members have watched a competitive first-team match at every Premier League and EFL stadium. Our Richard Sutcliffe has wanted to join for 40 years but his quest has proved less than straightforward. He started 2022-23 with eight grounds to tick off. After visiting AFC Wimbledon and Oxford United during the opening 10 days of the new season, making two trips to Forest Green Rovers and taking in a midweek journey to Salford, he is ready to cross the finish line…”
The Athletic

Emotional Moments in Football

Football is much more than a game. It has the power to bring us together. It has the power to bring joy, and great sadness. It has the power to divide, and it has the power to bring unity. There are many moments when football has caused an outpouring of emotion. Seb Stafford-Bloor charts some of the biggest and most impactful moments. Illustrated by Henry Cooke.
YouTube

The Exhilarating, Confounding Genius of Johan Cruyff


“The Ringer’s 22 Goals: The Story of the World Cup, a podcast by Brian Phillips, tells the story of some of the most iconic goals and players in the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves Johan Cruyff and the greatest team to not win a World Cup. …”
The Ringer (Video)

Copa Libertadores: Another all-Brazilian affair

“For the third successive season, two teams from Brazil will contest the Copa Libertadores final. This time, it is Flamengo against surprise package Athletico Paranaense, who happen to be managed by Luiz Felipe Scolari, a man who knows how to win the competition. Scolari won in 1995 and 1999 with Grêmio and Palmeiras respectively, and of course, he also won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. At 73, he’s approaching the end of his marvellous career – he has hinted this may be his last year – and his side go into the final in Ecuador as underdogs although nobody is writing them off. …”
Game of the People

Haaland, Aubameyang, Silva & Haller: Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt’s goalscoring graduates

“From Erling Haaland and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Andre Silva and Sebastien Haller, Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt share a history of developing some of the most feared goalscorers in the business. Ahead of Saturday’s top-six clash between the two clubs, bundesliga.com takes a closer look at some of the prolific forwards the pair have seen plunder goals for them across the decades. …”
Bundesliga (Video)

John Bramley-Moore, slavery and the site of Everton’s new stadium

“Mary Anne Kinloch was a Beatles fan, and when she visited Liverpool from Canada in 1970, the place she really wanted to see was Mathew Street’s Cavern nightclub. Yet she also had family connections with the city. One-hundred and thirty years earlier, John Bramley-Moore, her great, great grandfather, was a major player in Liverpool politics. He became the Lord Mayor after campaigning for the northward extension of the docks, a decision which ensured Liverpool remained a global port for more than a century. …”
The Athletic

World Cup provisional squads explained: What are the rules and will they be made public?


“A month from today, it all begins. The World Cup in Qatar looms ever larger on the horizon and the countdown is on to the first of 64 games that will crown a winner at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday, December 18. Doubts persist over the suitability of Qatar to host this World Cup, as well as its readiness to welcome more than one million visitors, but the biggest names in football are about to descend on a tiny Gulf nation that’s half the size of Wales and roughly as big as the US state of Connecticut. …”
The Athletic
The Analyst: World Cup 2022 Guide to Each Group

Has the World Cup really improved workers’ rights in Qatar? Five experts give their verdict

“Global criticism of the treatment of hundreds of thousands of workers from countries such as Nepal, India and Bangladesh who have been building Qatar’s World Cup dream led to the Gulf state introducing a range of labour policy changes that it says have improved the lives of the migrant workforce. Have those changes worked and how likely are they to be sustained after the tournament? A panel of experts give their view. …”
Guardian

Italy’s northern dominance and why it could be broken this season

“Italians often describe their country as being split in two, north and south. Outsiders find it hard to believe that a country can have such contrasting customs and values depending what end of the ‘stivale’ one finds themselves in, but the origin of this cultural divide dates back centuries. For a country so rich in history, it won’t come as a surprise that past events are still defining elements of Italy’s present society. Unification only occurred in the 19th century, and a glance at a map of Italy before this date shows a striking resemblance with what the average Italian would describe their country as now. …”
Backpage Football

Ali Sami Yen: the iconic founding father of Galatasaray


“As the ball is played through, Colin Kâzım-Richards bears down on both his opponent’s goal and history. In rounding Şekerspor goalkeeper Önder Tiryaki and slotting into an empty net, the London-born striker scores the insurance goal in a 3-1 cup victory for Galatasaray. Simultaneously, it is one of the most significant strikes in the club’s 106-year existence, being the last ever at their iconic Ali Sami Yen Stadium. The home of Galatasaray since 1964, and known to western fans as ‘hell’, the stadium served as the stage for so many greats of Turkish football. The goals of Metin Oktay, the flair of Gheorghe Hagi, the fighting spirit of Bülent Korkmaz; qualities that epitomise the nation’s most successful club. …”
These Football Times

Premier League managers and referees: ‘What sort of message does this send?’

“After Jurgen Klopp was sent off in Liverpool’s ill-tempered 1-0 win over Manchester City last weekend, Dr Tom Webb posted an image on Twitter similar to the one above of the Liverpool manager screaming at assistant referee Gary Beswick. ‘What sort of message does this send to people watching?’ wrote Webb, who co-ordinates the Referee and Match Official Research Network. ‘It’s images like this that make people think #referees are fair game… ‘if coaches and players in the Premier League are doing it, then it must be OK’… it isn’t and it certainly won’t help the trend of referee #abuse.’ …”
The Athletic

About That Game: Uruguay 1-1 Ghana (2010)

“Uruguay 1930, Italy 1934, South Korea/Japan 2002. One instance on its own could be dismissed as a coincidence, but these three examples expose a strange trend in the World Cup – the first time the tournament is played on a continent, the host country goes deep into the competition. So, when Africa finally landed the World Cup in 2010, all eyes were on the hosts South Africa. Connoisseurs of African football were sneaking glances at Cameroon, who were ranked 19th in the world. Hardly anyone gave Ghana a second look. The Black Stars had only qualified for their second-ever World Cup. …”
The Analyst

Liverpool vs Manchester City deconstructed: The bitterness, the briefings ⁠– and what’s next

“At 27 minutes past six on Sunday evening, Anthony Taylor blew his whistle at Anfield to bring the curtain down on Liverpool’s thrilling and tempestuous 1-0 victory over the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. But the drama was only just beginning. The game itself was action-packed. Jurgen Klopp was sent to the stands after exploding in fury at the non-award of a foul and Pep Guardiola said members of the Anfield crowd threw coins at him while he was watching the game from the touchline. …”
The Athletic

Scottish Premiership: Celtic edge Hearts in thriller, Rangers held by Livingston

“Scottish football witnessed major VAR controversy in the system’s second game in use as Celtic edged a seven-goal thriller at Tynecastle. Hearts substitute Lawrence Shankland hit a hat-trick but was upstaged by the cinch Premiership leaders, who secured a 4-3 victory thanks to Greg Taylor’s 76th-minute winner. James Forrest, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda also netted as the lead changed hands several times. A pulsating match was also overshadowed by some hotly debated decisions involving the newly introduced video technology. …”
Guardian

Qatar timeline: From winning the World Cup bid in 2010 to now

“In 2010, Qatar was awarded the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The country would become the first in the Middle East to host the world’s biggest sporting event, beating stiff competition from the United States and Australia. Since then, a flurry of corruption allegations and claims of Qatar ‘buying the World Cup’ have surfaced while the country’s treatment of migrant workers has also been in the spotlight. Here is a timeline of events and landmarks since Qatar won the World Cup bid. …”
Al jazeera

Cristiano Ronaldo – banished from a United squad ready to leave him behind


Cristiano Ronaldo is the one Manchester United player who knows how it looks and how it feels inside the dressing room when a legendary player burns his bridges. He was there, as a 20-year-old, when Roy Keane eviscerated several of his team-mates, assistant manager Carlos Queiroz and, finally, Sir Alex Ferguson before the captain’s contract was terminated in November 2005. … And, on both occasions, the young Ronaldo breathed a huge sigh of relief — just as several of his team-mates will, along with Erik ten Hag, when the Portugal forward’s unhappy second spell in Manchester comes to end. …”
The Athletic
NY Times: Cristiano Ronaldo and the Long Walk
Guardian: Traits that made Cristiano Ronaldo great now hasten his painful decline

Football has elevated time-wasting into a sophisticated art form

“As a pastime, or indeed lifestyle, time-wasting is undervalued. To do nothing takes real imagination; to produce nothing requires a strong moral core. The idle person does not, among other things, perform unnecessary cosmetic surgery or release an album of swing covers. The most courageous way of experiencing time is through inaction – to remain quite still and feel the minutes crawl across the face. Time-wasting in football, however, is the preserve of knaves and shysters. …”
Guardian

How Manchester United dominated Tottenham by stifling their three-man midfield

“On August 21, 2008, Metallica released The Day That Never Comes, the lead single from their ninth studio album, Death Magnetic. The music video for that song depicts soldiers in a hostile situation, but the song itself is about forgiveness and redemption, as drummer Lars Ulrich later explained. … Watching Manchester United throughout the last decade, it has always felt like they are waiting for the day that never comes — the one where they once more win football games with complete, dominant performances, even against the top sides in the Premier League. …”
The Athletic

Two World Cup Goals, and the Question of the Individual Versus the Collective


“The Ringer’s 22 Goals: The Story of the World Cup, a podcast by Brian Phillips, tells the story of some of the most iconic goals and players in the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves two goals scored by two different players in two different World Cups. …”
The Ringer (Video)

France: 2022-23 Ligue 1 – Location-map with 3 Charts

“The map shows the twenty clubs in the current season of the French Ligue 1 [2022-23].
The map features the locations and crests of the 20 current Ligue Un clubs, plus the recently-promoted and -relegated teams are noted. (Promoted in 2022: Toulouse, Ajaccio, Auxerre; relegated in 2022: Saint-Étienne, Metz, Bordeaux.) Also shown on the map are the 10 largest French cities, and the 13 Regions of Metropolitan France (aka European France). {Largest French cities’ metropolitan area populations from 2016 census, here}. The major French rivers are also shown on the map, and at the foot of the map the 10 longest rivers in France are listed (with brief descriptions). …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2022–23 Ligue 1
Get Football News France

How a Heading Ban Would Change Football

Studies have discovered a link between heading a football and dementia in later life. It has been suggested that heading could be removed from the sport. But if heading a football was banned, what would the game look like? How would goals be scored? How would they be defended? What would a football player look like? Seb Stafford-Bloor explores this idea. Illustrated by Henry Cooke.
YouTube

Liverpool’s unmovable Van Dijk shows Haaland is a stoppable force


Virgil van Dijk puffed out his cheeks and wrapped his arms around Joe Gomez. Mohamed Salah may have been Liverpool’s match-winner but this enthralling 1-0 triumph over Manchester City was built on firm foundations. Van Dijk has found himself in uncharted territory this season. His crown as the most complete centre-back in world football has slipped. As Liverpool’s defensive vulnerability has been repeatedly exposed, his form has been held up as a symptom of the team’s decline. There have been uncharacteristic errors and accusing fingers pointing in his direction. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Liverpool vs Manchester City and a dearth of proper wide options

Barça go knocking on wrong doors after clásico defeat that was too easy

When at last it was all over, Joan Laporta stood up, shook hands with Florentino Pérez and slipped out. For the second time in five days Barcelona’s president had sat front row centre watching things fall apart. He had listened to the Real Madrid supporters he had been so looking forward to seeing again launch into olés, laugh their way through ironic pleas for his coach to stay and invite him to enjoy Thursday nights in the Europa League, and now it was time to leave. He went down the stairs, past the statue of Sotero Aranguren and Alberto Machimbarrena cast in bronze and to the referee’s dressing room. There, according to José María Sánchez Martínez’s report, he ‘repeatedly asked for an explanation’. He had come to the wrong place. …”
Guardian

Football and Politics in South America

“Published in 1995 as part of Verso’s series of Critical Studies in Latin American and Iberian Culture, Tony Mason’s Passion of the People? Football in South America examines the centrality of the game to cultural life in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay over the course of the twentieth century. In the excerpt below, Mason reviews the points of contact between professional football and the state, with a particular emphasis on Argentina and Brazil. …”
Verso

Salah shines as Klopp earns tactical triumph amid his touchline theatrics


“Towards the end of this thrilling, slightly wild afternoon at Anfield, Jürgen Klopp could be seen with his arms outspread, a tableau of pathos, disbelief, astonishment, bewildered to find himself handed a red card by Anthony Taylor and sent from his touchline. As Klopp whirled away, almost sprinting from pitchside, air‑guitaring wildly, still barking and yelping and pointing, it was hard to disagree with his look of stunned surprise. This made no sense at all. How exactly had Klopp managed to last 85 minutes out there? …”
Guardian (Video)
SI: Liverpool Proves It Has Plenty of Fight Left in Drama-Filled Win Over Man City – Jonathan Wilson
BBC – Liverpool 1-0 Man City: ‘Why Liverpool had to wait for Joe Gomez to get back to his best’ – Martin Keown analysis
Liverpool 1-0 Man City: Player ratings as magic Salah fires Reds to win
Liverpool vs. Manchester City score: Mohamed Salah nets winner at Anfield as Jurgen Klopp sees red (Video)
Guardian: Klopp’s reliance on the undroppables reveals Liverpool’s soft underbelly

Every 2022-23 Premier League third kit rated

“Yes, we’re into the second half of October but only now can The Athletic rate the good, the bad and the ugly of this season’s Premier League third kits, as it’s taken this long for them all to finally be unveiled. Bizarre colour schemes, tributes to bridges and digital front-graphic panels, third kits are usually a heady cocktail of the experimental and the sublime, and this year is no different. …”
The Athletic

Countdown to Qatar: How Prepared Is the USMNT for the World Cup?

“Gregg Berhalter’s World Cup plan exists in many fragments across several mediums. There are whiteboards at the U.S. Soccer Federation headquarters containing tactical outlines and depth charts, as well as spreadsheets with detailed roster breakdowns. An internal database hosts all of the U.S. men’s national team’s logistics, and then there are the details constantly swirling in his own mind. …”
The Ringer

Martín Zubimendi: The Real Sociedad Midfielder Finding Stardom in Simplicity

“… Of course, we all see Busquets when he’s receiving a pass 30 metres from goal with a marker draped on him, before ridding them with a drag back to shift them off balance. What Del Bosque refers to is the 90-minute experience of the lone defensive midfielder, to whom so much of the team’s equilibrium is tied, and whose many acts are almost too subtle to detect in the moment. While the team machine keeps functioning, the pivote can become a hostage to recognition. And when it breaks down, they’re among the first to hear about it. In current times, this process is fresher in the mind of Martín Zubimendi than anyone else in La Liga. …”
The Analyst

Kylian Mbappé’s tantrums and feuds a fresh twist in tiresome PSG pantomime

Was there a moment, back in August, when Christophe Galtier wondered what the fuss had been? Did he watch his Paris Saint-Germain team smacking in 21 goals in their first four games of the season and think how easy this all was? Take what is probably the starriest forward line in the history of the game, let them play and watch the brilliant goals stack up. Lionel Messi, after a disappointing first season in Paris, was re-energised. Neymar, playing alongside his mate, was thriving. And Kylian Mbappé …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Barcelona’s financial mess: Champions League exit, more levers, Coutinho debt


“Around Camp Nou, it was mostly an eerie silence on the final whistle of Barcelona’s 3-3 draw with Inter Milan, as it dawned on the home fans that their club are now almost certainly eliminated from the 2022-23 Champions League already, with two group games still to play. As Inter’s players, coaches and fans celebrated in their small pockets, most of the 92,302 crowd were stunned and exhausted — as were the Barcelona team, their coach Xavi Hernandez and the club’s president Joan Laporta. …”
The Athletic (Video)

U.S. Soccer approaches Qatar World Cup with a focus on human rights issues

“Nearly two years before the U.S. men’s national team took the field for its first World Cup qualifier, officials at U.S. Soccer began planning for a tournament in Qatar they knew would bring significant challenges, and raise important issues, should the U.S. make it there. FIFA’s decision to select Qatar as a World Cup host has been under great scrutiny due to several issues regarding the country’s human rights record, including: workers’ rights and the country’s use of the kafala system for migrant workers; the reported deaths of hundreds of migrant workers tied to the building of soccer stadiums; women’s rights; and laws that criminalize homosexuality. …”
The Athletic
Guardian – Forget ‘sportswashing’: Qatar 2022 is about military might and hard sports power

Premier League is asked if it has investigated Manchester City owner over Russia allegations

“The Premier League has been asked to confirm whether it has investigated the billionaire owner of Manchester City Football Club under its ‘fit and proper’ owners’ test, over allegations of helping Russian oligarchs avoid western sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of the UAE and a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, has been accused in media reports of helping to allow rich Russians to evade sanctions by moving their assets, including superyachts and private jets, to the Emirates. …”
Guardian

Steven Gerrard was a free spirit as a player but his management style is repetitive – it leaves fans cold


“Towards the end of Steven Gerrard’s time at Rangers there was a distinct feeling that things had gone stale. It was the fourth season of playing the same way, with largely the same group of players. They had lost to Malmo in the Champions League qualifiers, the Europa League group was a drag and domestic games had long become like carbon copies of each other, regardless of the opposition. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Andrés Escobar, an Own Goal, and Tragedy at the 1994 World Cup

“The Ringer’s 22 Goals: The Story of the World Cup, a podcast by Brian Phillips, tells the story of some of the most iconic goals and players in the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves Andrés Escobar, an own goal, and tragedy in 1994. …”
The Ringer (Video)

La Liga Chief’s Feud With P.S.G. President Veers Into Court

“For months, it seemed, the feud between the leader of Spain’s top soccer league and the president of the Qatar-owned French team Paris St.-Germain has played out noisily, and in public. Javier Tebas, the outspoken president of La Liga, would regularly criticize Paris St.-Germain and its Qatari leaders, accusing them of flagrantly breaking European soccer’s financial rules. And occasionally, the P.S.G. president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, would respond to Tebas with his own accusations, questioning the health of Spanish soccer, or trade barbs with him in the news media and in speeches. The more high-stakes fight, it turns out, was taking place behind the scenes. …”
NY Times

Will Qatar really produce ‘the first carbon-neutral World Cup in history’?

“Has there ever been a more contentious World Cup finals than Qatar 2022? Probably the last one, which allowed the football community to happily tickle the tummy of Russia’s bear in advance of it rearing up viciously to slice a bloody ‘Z’ across the face of its neighbour Ukraine. Since being unveiled in December 2010 as the future host of this most coveted sporting event, the upcoming tournament has been beset by issues and allegations that have centred on anti-LGBTIQ+ laws and the treatment of migrant workers. …”
Guardian

Italy: Serie A, 2022-23 season


“The map page has a location-map of 2022-23 Serie A, along with 3 charts. The location-map features each club’s home kit [2022-23]. The map also shows the 20 Regions of Italy. And the map also shows the 11 largest cities in Italy (2020 metropolitan-area figures) {Metropolitan cities of Italy}. The cities’ population figures can be seen at the top of the location-map. Also, the map shows the locations of both the 3 promoted clubs and the 3 relegated clubs from 2022…Promoted to Serie A for 2022-23: Lecce, Cremonese, Monza; relegated to Serie B for 2022-23: Cagliari, Genoa, Venezia. …”
billsportsmaps
Guardian: Milan bounce back against Juventus to give Allegri a slap in the face
The Analyst: Italian Serie A 2022-23 Season Stats

It Is What It Is: How the Oxford English Dictionary parked the bus against the language of football

“Welcome to the latest instalment of It Is What It Is, the sister column to Adam Hurrey’s Football Cliches podcast, a parallel mission into the heart of the tiny things in football you never thought really mattered… until you were offered a closer look. The dictionary supremos finally open their footballing floodgates. There are some cast-iron guarantees in the annual UK news cycle, the hardy slow-news-day perennials that keep the wheel turning. … See also: some words that will infuriate your parents, let alone your grandparents, have made their way into the Oxford English Dictionary. …”
The Athletic

Liverpool have lost balance and confidence. Regaining both is not easy

“It’s never just one thing. Football, whatever the cliche may say, is not a simple game. A team is a hugely complex organism: a malfunction in one area can have profound consequences elsewhere. Everything is connected and contingent; nothing is independent. Jürgen Klopp must feel at the moment as though he is engaged in a game of Whac-A-Mole, bashing at problems here and there, and yet also knowing that these moles are related, that a mole in one corner is breeding moles elsewhere. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Business decisions that changed Football forever

Football today is big business. Not only do the best teams have to be great on the pitch, but they have to be great in the board room too. But what makes a great decision in the football business? And what are the best decisions ever made in football? From player transfers, to sponsorship deals, to club structure, Abhishek Raj writes about some of the best decisions, Philippe Fenner illustrates.
YouTube

Children went to a football match and didn’t come home. The story of the Kanjuruhan Stadium tragedy


“Enshrined behind the gates that claimed so many lives at the Kanjuruhan Stadium is a chilling sight. Once they catch your eye, everything changes. The shoes, left by the dead. They sit alongside the twisted, contorted blue iron railings which have been forced from their concrete mountings. Walking in those shoes — the Adidas trainer, the flip-flop, the child’s red Croc — during those final moments came with fear, indescribable pain and, for so many, no way out. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Julen Lopetegui’s Golden Era at Sevilla is Over

“Julen Lopetegui’s golden era at Sevilla is over. The man who took the club into the Champions League knockout stage and won a Europa League title, beating Manchester United and Inter Milan along the way, has been relieved of his duties. For a brief, wonderful moment, Lopetegui let the Sevilla fans dream of a LaLiga title challenge. His sacking shouldn’t be viewed as a failure though. Sevilla flew too close to the sun under Lopetegui and given their strict economic policy and wage structure, they have to retreat now and think about the longer term future of the club. …”
The Analyst

Manchester United top the table (in paying off departed managers)

“The relentless pursuit of success comes at a cost. For Manchester United, the cost is an estimated £60million spent on sacking managers and their backroom staff since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick all received compensation. This financial outlay is more than Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have spent changing their manager in the same 10-year timeframe. …”
The Athletic

Home Office bans 1,300 ‘violent and abusive’ fans from travelling to the World Cup in Qatar

“More than 1,300 ‘violent and abusive’ football fans in England and Wales will be banned from travelling to the World Cup in Qatar next month following a season disfigured by a dramatic surge in disorder at matches. Measures will come into force this Friday requiring 1,308 people with a history of football-related violence or disorder to surrender their passports, preventing them travelling to the Gulf state or neighbouring countries from where they could commute to games. …”
Guardian

Read this if you want to understand the Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool v England ‘debate’


“Whenever there’s an England squad, especially with the World Cup on the horizon, the eternal debate rises: should Trent Alexander-Arnold start for England? Critics will point out his defensive frailties, others will argue that Alexander-Arnold’s game shouldn’t be judged on those weaknesses and Jurgen Klopp will explain why his No 66 is so vital to Liverpool. And round we go again. But what if everyone is right? And what if that is OK? …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Faltering Liverpool are at a crossroads and Klopp is hard-pressed to find answers – Jonathan Wilson

How Arsenal Found Its Voice

“LONDON — On the night before the biggest game of Arsenal’s season so far, the fans slipped inside the Emirates Stadium to make sure everything was in place. Their leader and a handful of friends had spent weeks drawing up their plans: raising money, contacting suppliers, brainstorming themes, designing images, cutting out stencils, spray-painting letters. Now, late on a Friday night, there was just one job left to do. They had to check that every seat in Block 25 of the stadium’s Clock End contained a flag, either red or white, for the culmination of the display. …”
NY Times

Football corruption and the remarkable road to Qatar’s World Cup

“With the surrounding noise on human rights, worker deaths, image laundering and the rest, it is easy to forget what Qatar 2022 is really all about, the founding message at the very heart of this global festival of football. Which is, of course, corruption. Committee members living high on someone else’s hog. Development money that never developed. The fat, wet handshake wrapped up in a TV rights deal. It is time, six weeks away from Fifa’s winter World Cup, to consider the base note of this thing. …”
Guardian

Anthony Modeste snatches last-gasp Klassiker draw for Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich

“Anthony Modeste came off the bench to provide a goal and an assist, including a 95th-minute equaliser, to salvage a 2-2 draw for Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker against Bayern Munich. … In the build-up to the game, Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl commented that, ‘Experience tells us that these direct match-ups have an impact on the standings come the end of the season.’ …”
Bundesliga (Video)

Newcastle United’s transfer, stadium and investment plans one year after takeover


“This is the first of three articles this week to mark the one-year anniversary of Newcastle United’s controversial takeover by a Saudi-backed consortium. Today George Caulkin and Chris Waugh explain how the club has changed in 12 months. Tomorrow Oliver Kay visits Saudi Arabia to ask questions about how the takeover is perceived there, football’s role in the country and allegations of sportswashing. On Friday Matt Slater examines the degree of Saudi involvement and influence at the Premier League club. …”
The Athletic , Newcastle’s takeover: In Saudi Arabia, exploring how the club fits a country’s vision, Newcastle United’s takeover: How strong is Saudi Arabia’s influence one year on?

Sticker Shock


“BUENOS AIRES — As prices continued to rise, Argentina’s commerce department decided something had to be done. Shop owners were worried about shortages. A key supplier was struggling to meet the demand. Desperate customers were standing in blocklong lines. So, two weeks ago, Matías Tombolini, the country’s commerce secretary, and a group of other government officials gathered interested parties around a large conference table in a downtown office building for a seemingly solemn discussion to ‘seek out possible solutions.’ Argentina was facing a crisis: It did not have enough World Cup stickers to go around. …”
NY Times

Wissam Ben Yedder’s hat-trick shows Didier Deschamps what he is missing

“Wissam Ben Yedder’s hat-trick for Monaco against Nantes on Sunday evening at the Stade-Louis II was a brilliant repudiation of Didier Deschamps’ decision to drop him from the France squad last month. A regular for two years, the diminutive Ben Yedder has won 19 caps under Deschamps and, while he’s only scored three goals for his country, his imperious form in Ligue 1 and the fact that he offers France a different type of attacking option made him a likely member of the World Cup squad. …”
Guardian

Manchester United’s flawed press made life far too easy for City

Manchester City were irresistible in attack throughout their 6-3 victory over Manchester United on Sunday afternoon. They constantly showcased the patterns we’ve come to expect: Kevin De Bruyne overlapping and then crossing, Bernardo Silva dropping deep in midfield and then pushing into the channel, Phil Foden drifting inside from the right, Jack Grealish storming forward from the left, and Erling Haaland banging in the goals. When City work the ball into the final third, they sometimes feel unstoppable. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

Joe Gaetjens, and America’s Accidental Emergence on the World Cup Stage

“The Ringer’s 22 Goals: The Story of the World Cup, a podcast by Brian Phillips, tells the story of some of the most iconic goals and players in the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves Joe Gaetjens and an assembly of amateur American players making history in 1950. …”
The Ringer (Video)

Watching three Premier League derbies in three days


Arsenal fans make their way to the Emirates from Gillespie Road on derby day
“Super League proposals, globalisation, games potentially being played abroad, the hunger for European football… it’s felt for a while that this might be the future of the game. Ask your typical English football supporter which fixture they first look for in June and chances are they’ll say their team’s local derby. …”
The Athletic

Rangers’ only comfort comes from history in unequal ‘Battle of Britain’

“For Rangers Wednesday 4 November 1992 was as good as it got in movies such as this. As Mark Hateley smashed the Scottish champions in front inside five minutes at Elland Road, cross‑border needle which had extended to the press box morphed into outright celebration. Rangers and their fans felt they were not sufficiently praised for a first‑leg victory in this Champions League clash with Leeds United. Hateley’s goal, later backed up by an Ally McCoist strike before Eric Cantona claimed a Leeds consolation, secured the tie for Walter Smith’s side – a side, that is, which was dominated by Scottish players. …”
Guardian