Category Archives: Football Manager

Active vs passive centre-backs: What the data tells us about different roles


“For those coming to this article to discover who is the ‘best’ Premier League centre-back statistically, you are going to be disappointed. The truth is, evaluating any defender based on the data will rarely show one is better than another, but will instead give you an indication of a player’s — or team’s — style. We could compare players in high-pressing sides with those in low-pressing ones; we could contrast ball-playing defenders with those who have a more no-nonsense approach; we could even identify centre-back partnerships by cat or dog-like behaviours. On this occasion, we ask: What does the data tell us about active and passive centre-backs in the league? …”
The Athletic (Video)

Juventus and Allegri struggles go on as Spalletti and Gasperini take centre stage


“A different coach has won Serie A in each of the past four years. A different team has been crowned champions in each of the past three seasons. On the one hand, this serves as a reminder of Italy’s strength in depth in the technical area. On the other, it highlights a renewed domestic competitiveness. Serie A went down to the final day in May and looking at the table now I can’t be the only one scratching my head, musing on who will be celebrating the Scudetto come June. …”
The Athletic

Bruno Fernandes exclusive: Manchester United’s ‘ghosts of the past’ and marking the referee

“Thirty-five minutes into the second assignment of the Premier League season and the scoreboard reads Brentford 4-0 Manchester United. An optimistic pre-season tour under new manager Erik ten Hag has given way to a season-opening defeat by Brighton at Old Trafford and then comes United’s most dismal half of football in recent memory in west London. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Bruno Fernandes

Kalvin Phillips’ rare skill set means his shoulder injury is a big problem for England


“Before every World Cup, we are struck with the unfortunate news of an injury to an important player. In 2018, it was Dani Alves for Brazil. Four years before that, it was the unlucky Marco Reus, who this weekend was stretched off against Schalke, with fears that he may also miss the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. And in 2010, it was Michael Ballack who sustained an ankle injury in the FA Cup final against Portsmouth. …”
The Athletic (Video)

The crisis baton passes to Leicester City and Brendan Rodgers


“LEICESTER CITY’s latest defeat, at Tottenham Hotspur by six goals to two, underlines the crisis that is unfolding at the club. It also highlights the plight of their manager, Brendan Rodgers, who will be only too aware that he has a big hole to quickly dig himself out of. In the Premier League, there is always a ‘crisis club’ and this season, the baton has passed from Manchester United to Liverpool to Chelsea to Leicester City. The moment a club dips into the crisis zone, they are rarely left alone to work themselves out. …”
Game of the People

Using StatsBomb 360 Data As A Performance Analyst

“Ever since the release of StatsBomb 360, we’ve shown how this new dataset is the ultimate upgrade on traditional event data. 360 allows you to detect deeper insights, such as players who receive the ball in space, the positioning of defenders around each event, whether a pass was line-breaking and how many defenders it bypassed, and plenty more. On top of this, we’ve shown you practical use cases for the data in finding new insights into football and creating bespoke visualisations which display this. …”
Stats Bomb

England squad: Toney selected on form but others rely on Southgate’s loyalty


Marcus Rashford has not kicked a ball for England since that fateful penalty shootout in the European Championship final against Italy last July. Jadon Sancho has appeared just once. And after being left out of Gareth Southgate’s latest squad today (Thursday), the Manchester United duo really are running out of time to force their way into his World Cup plans. …”
The Athletic (Video)

How to win the World Cup – Chris Evans (2022)


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
amazon

Analysing Bayern Munich 2 Barcelona 0: Xavi’s Alonso gamble, misfiring Lewandowski and ruthless Sane


“A ruthless 10-minute spell immediately after half-time helped Bayern Munich beat Barcelona at the Allianz Arena, with goals from Lucas Hernandez and Leroy Sane sealing three points for Julian Nagelsmann’s side. Barcelona dominated the first half but Robert Lewandowski failed to make Bayern pay on his return to Munich. Whatever the Bayern head coach Nagelsmann said at the break did the trick — by the 54th minute they were two goals ahead, first a header by Hernandez and then a neat finish from Sane. …”
The Athletic

The transfer window stories we heard but could not report Illustration of an agent on the phone


“The transfer window is a weird and wonderful place. … So much that happens during the window, which was officially open for 83 days between June 10 and September 1 in England but in reality is an ongoing conversation throughout the year, can’t always be written down. The majority of the activity involving agents, players, managers, sporting directors, recruitment staff and owners exists in the margins. It’s neither official nor unofficial, but somewhere in between. The task of journalists is to try to pull information from these grey areas, comprehensively source it and ‘stand it up’, to get to the point of being able to press publish. …”
The Athletic

Fixture fatigue: What happens to players when the games pile up

“… It was early August when Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp revealed his concern over the potential impact this winter’s World Cup could have on international players. Fixture congestion is nothing new (nor are managers’ complaints about it) but adding a major tournament into the mix mid-season, with only brief pauses before and after it, certainly is. ‘… Clubs competing in Europe have no free midweek until the turn of the year, so this round of fixtures will likely be added to the list for early 2023, further complicating life for teams who progress in cup competitions domestically and in Europe. …”
The Athletic

Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea sacking – the inside story told from both sides


“Chelsea’s sombre players shunned most of their non-mandatory media duties as they made their way out of Stadion Maksimir after Champions League humiliation at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday evening, only to find their discomfort was far from over. Boarding the plane that would take them back to England from the Croatian capital meant filing awkwardly past the front rows of seats containing head coach Thomas Tuchel and his staff, as well as co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali. …”
The Athletic
Guardian – Style, central midfield and strikers: Potter’s key Chelsea issues to tackle

Why Leroy Sane’s late runs into the Inter box were so crucial for Bayern Munich

“On Tuesday evening, an Italian side playing 3-5-2 were defeated by the runs of a speedy attacker — starting deeper and narrower than you’d expect, but going in behind. Kylian Mbappe scored the opener for Paris Saint-Germain against Juventus and got the second goal, too. On Wednesday evening, an Italian side playing 3-5-2 were defeated by the runs of a speedy attacker — starting deeper and narrower than you’d expect, but going in behind. Leroy Sane scored the opener for Bayern Munich against Inter Milan and forced the own goal that was their second. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

This Shoe Changed Football Forever

The Adidas Predator, one of the most iconic football boots in the game. Worn by true legends, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Xavi Hernandez. But before it became popular it was regarded as controversial. This is the story of how an Australian footballer had an idea, stuck some rubber to an old boot, and convinced one of the biggest sportswear brands in the world to make his boot. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Craig Silcock.
YouTube

How Sandro Tonali’s shifting roles helped decide a rollercoaster Milan derby


“If you are riding a rollercoaster, there are always ups and downs. And that was certainly the case in this weekend’s Derby della Madonnina between AC Milan and Inter Milan. Inter took the lead, Milan equalised, then dominated and scored twice to go 3-1 ahead. Then Inter hit back and, but for some miraculous goalkeeping by Mike Maignan and a tactical tweak by Stefano Pioli, could well have salvaged a point. … In this piece, The Athletic breaks down the key tactical battles from the game…”
The Athletic

Lee Mason not selected as VAR for this weekend’s Premier League fixtures

“Lee Mason has not been selected as a video assistant referee for any Premier League match at the weekend, following a controversial disallowed goal for Newcastle against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Mason, who became a dedicated VAR at the start of last season after retiring as an on-field referee, was in the booth for the match. The on-field referee, Michael Salisbury, initially awarded an own goal by Tyrick Mitchell but was recommended to review the incident by Mason. …”
Guardian

Manchester United showed why passing backwards to go forwards is so valuable

Manchester United’s opening goal against Arsenal was a thing of beauty. It wasn’t simply that the goal featured all 11 players, or the fact United cut through Arsenal’s lines smoothly. It was about how they created the situation — playing four backwards passes and going from level with the opposition penalty area right back to their goalkeeper. It was a perfect demonstration of the value of going backwards. …”
The Athletic: Michael Cox

The backpass rule changed 30 years ago. Is it time to look at going to the corner?

“I was watching old football matches on YouTube the other day, and a striker was standing in front of the opposing goalkeeper and waving his arms. The goalkeeper had calmly taken a pass from a teammate on the halfway line and then carried it around for 20 seconds. I know, of course, that this was allowed in the past, but at first I was irritated. The sight was so unfamiliar. …”
Guardian

Tata Martino on ‘pessimism’ surrounding Mexico national team before World Cup


“At club level, Martino is revered in Atlanta, the city where he led Atlanta United to an MLS Cup championship in 2018. But on Wednesday night, wearing a red Adidas Mexico national team tracksuit, Martino was booed and jeered by the over 50,000 Mexican supporters that attended El Tri’s friendly against Paraguay at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Fuera Tata chant was heard throughout the match. Mexico lost 1-0 in a non-FIFA sanctioned scrimmage that featured only Liga MX-based players, but even a loss in the low stake games are enough to rankle Mexico’s rabid fanbase. …”
The Athletic
W – Gerardo Martino

Football Club Accounts: Explained

Football clubs have historically been sources of entertainment and symbols of unity in local communities. Today, they are also businesses – and as businesses, they release accounts or financial statements once every year. But financial statements can be hard to read, so we’ll show you how. Written by Abhishek Raj. Illustrated by Henry Cooke.
YouTube

Football’s ‘bomb squads’ could be breaking employment law

“It is a strategy as old as it is effective. No longer have use for a first-team player and want to see him leave? Instruct them to train with the under-23s and let the nature of football take its course. The problem, more often than not, will soon resolve itself with a separation. This common practice has been seen across the Premier League and English Football League again this summer. Dozens of faces that no longer fit have been marginalised and demoted to train at a level that ought to be beneath them or, in some cases, all alone. …”
The Athletic

Is it time to analyse attacking data differently?


“The genie is well and truly out of the bottle when it comes to data in football, but there is still plenty of scope to maximise its utility. In today’s thought experiment, The Athletic asks… should we adjust all on-ball player metrics? Let’s clarify what that would mean with an example. In a busy summer transfer window, your team’s recruitment staff are looking for a clinical striker who is quick to get a shot away and will score something out of nothing. Using data as a filter, is it more impressive for a striker to score 10 goals for a team battling relegation than a striker scoring 25 goals for the inevitable title winners? When adjusted for opportunity to score, the gap between the players’ output might not be as big as first thought. This is a simple example, but let’s dig deeper. …”
The Athletic

The Earliest Premier League Sackings

“News broke just before 9am on Tuesday morning that Bournemouth had fired their manager Scott Parker, only four games into the 2022-23 season. The man who had stylishly guided the club back into the top-flight saw his side lose 9-0 at Liverpool on Saturday and, unlike Ralph Hasenhüttl, who has survived not one but two 9-0 defeats as Southampton boss, Parker has been dispensed with before September, reportedly more because of differing views on Bournemouth’s transfer strategy than the Anfield shellacking. Either way, Parker’s departure is one of the earliest in Premier League history, but which unfortunate managers have been sacked even earlier into the season? Read on to find out. …”

Real Madrid & the Role of Tactics at Elite Teams

Does a team need a complex tactical structure to be elite? In recent times we have seen complex tactical approaches from managers and clubs like Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and even Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich. But does a club need one to be successful? Real Madrid would argue not. Jon Mackenzie explains, Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.
YouTube

Milner vs Van Dijk: Who was to blame for Manchester United’s opener against Liverpool


Jadon Sancho’s composed opener had only just hit the back of the net, but the inquest had already begun. As he rolled the ball past James Milner, Sancho only had Virgil van Dijk between him and the goal. Van Dijk held his ground, hands behind his back as he looked to cover the space, before Sancho slotted in the bottom-left corner. … The question is, who was right? Could Van Dijk have done any more, or did Milner have a point? …”
The Athletic (Video)

Alan Shearer on Alexander Isak: The pace, the playing style and embracing that record fee

Newcastle United’s purchase of the Sweden striker Alexander Isak is an exciting signing that will capture the imagination of the Geordies. Eddie Howe needed to get a forward in, and Isak is someone who can play either with Callum Wilson, or instead of him. Isak’s going to have to do both because of Wilson’s current hamstring injury, and he might have to hit the ground running. …”
The Athletic

Manchester United Powers Through in Win Over Liverpool Amid Transfer Chaos, Protests


“Football has a remarkable habit of making fools of us all. When it was pointed out after Liverpool’s surprise draw against Crystal Palace last Monday that Manchester United could go above Liverpool if it beat Jürgen Klopp’s side, it was with a smirk. Even after Liverpool’s patchy start to the season, such a thing seemed implausible. After all, United had beaten Liverpool only once in the last 12 league meetings, Liverpool had lost only one game—the Champions League final—all year and United had produced probably its worst performance in half a century at Brentford last Saturday. And yet United was good value for its 2–1 win. …”
SI – Jonathan Wilson
Guardian: Why have Liverpool made such a slow start to the Premier League season?
Liverpool’s Biggest Rival in 2022-23 is Father Time

‘22 Goals’: Kylian Mbappé, 2018 World Cup in Russia

“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 Kylian Mbappé announcing himself as a global superstar at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. …”
The Ringer (Video)

Kjetil Knutsen: Norwegian star manager writing Bodo Glimt’s fairytale…

“In the entire Premier League history, only two Norwegians have managed a team in the English top-flight history, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Egil Roger Olsen. While Solskjaer was sacked last season as Manchester United manager after a string of poor results, Olsen’s one-season tenure in the league led to Wimbledon’s relegation. Now a third Norwegian manager may be on his way to the league. According to reports, several Premier League clubs are looking to sign Kjetil Knutsen. …”
foottheball (Video)

Cox: United played like Solskjaer’s underdogs — but Sancho goal was typical Ten Hag


“They say the form book goes out of the window in big matches like Manchester United versus Liverpool, but if anything, it was Erik ten Hag’s coaching handbook that went out of the window. Last night, we learnt very little about Manchester United’s future direction under the Dutchman but learnt a lot about Ten Hag himself. This was a deeply pragmatic tactical approach from Ten Hag, designed with the opposition and United’s previous performances in mind. Overall statistics can be misleading considering United led from the 16th minute and the onus was on Liverpool to dominate. …”
The Athletic

Premier League @30 – how different the world is today

“It wasn’t  just football in Britain that dramatically changed over the past 30 years, the world also shifted and became a far more uncertain, darker place. People lost faith in trusted institutions such as banks, regulators, law firms and political systems and we started to see the creation of digital society. In Britain, indeed much of the world, some of the truly basic requirements of life; our security, our finances and basic healthcare were all severely tested. No longer could we take anything for granted, but football was still there for us in some shape or form. …”
Game of the People

Manchester United fallout: Running, strained relations and Ten Hag changing mind on Ronaldo


“On Wednesday morning, Manchester United’s players reported for training and began work on a tactical plan devised by manager Erik ten Hag for the weekend trip to Brentford. Ten Hag’s first fixture in charge, a 2-1 home defeat by Brighton the previous Sunday, had constituted a major setback and he informed his players of two substantial tweaks to his line-up. The first was to restore ageing superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to the starting line-up after only being on the bench against Brighton, which in turn facilitated the second alteration, which would see new signing Christian Eriksen end his brief, befuddling spell as a false nine and instead operate far deeper as a defensive midfielder. As such, two positions were tweaked but only one player dropped out of the side beaten at Old Trafford — midfielder Scott McTominay. …”
The Athletic (Video)

The Evolution of Goalkeeper Passing in 30 Years of the Premier League

“The Premier League kicked off 30 years ago today and Manchester United’s only goal in their infamous 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United was assisted by goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. The iconic Dane would end that season having created as many goals as Ian Rush and Paul Ince, and in the first top-flight season to contain the new back-pass rule, nearly every goalkeeper concentrated his efforts on getting rid of the ball as hard and fast as possible; the nation echoed to the sound of pumped and thumped Mitre Deltas. 30 years on and David De Gea’s ongoing issues with playing short passes to his defenders was one of the main factors behind Manchester United suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Brentford on Saturday. No position has evolved more than the goalkeeper in these transformative three decades and here are some illustrations to show how. …”
The Analyst

Has Nottingham Forest’s sudden ascent led to too many changes?

“When was it that alarm bells began to ring? Was it when Omar Richards arrived from Bayern Munich for £8.5m to become Nottingham Forest’s sixth summer signing? Was it Lewis O’Brien’s £6m switch from Huddersfield? Or perhaps Remo Freuler, signed this past week from Atalanta for £7.6m, was one signing too many – and that was before a £20m fee was agreed for Emmanuel Dennis. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Why the through ball is becoming a dying art in European football


“The number of through balls in the UEFA Champions League dropped 50 per cent between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons. In Europe’s top five leagues, the number of through balls dropped on average 30 per cent over the same period. In the Europa League, it dropped 24 per cent. The through ball is not extinct, but it is endangered.Before examining why, we need to define the term. FBref data define a through ball as a: ‘Completed pass sent between the back defenders into open space.’ It is a complex pass to complete, hence the number of through balls is never particularly high and is in fact lower than the goals-per-game total in Europe’s top divisions. …”
The Athletic (Video)

The Adrien Rabiot paradox: What exactly would Manchester United be getting?

“Veronique Rabiot believed her son, Adrien, would have made a fine fencer. It’s a discipline the French have a strong tradition in, going back to the 1896 Athens Olympics, and it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see a tall white-jacketed figure advancing up the piste, a balestra here, a fleche there, ready to pull off his mask at the end of a bout to reveal Adrien and those long, wavy locks. Unfortunately for sabre-rattlers, he chose football instead. …”
The Athletic

How Manchester City used their narrow full-backs to control midfield against West Ham

“‘They were so good. Tactically, they completely outdid us today.’ West Ham United manager David Moyes was so impressed with Manchester City’s performance against his club yesterday that he spent half of his post-match press conference talking about Pep Guardiola’s side. Specifically, their narrow full-backs. …”
The Athletic

What’s the best Premier League transfer?

“Quantifying the Premier League’s greatest transfer can be difficult. But we’ve given it a go. There are many factors to consider, including but not limited to, sell-on profit, impact on the squad, or likelihood of winning a trophy. Abhishek Raj, has defined what a ‘good transfer’ should look like, and has decided the best transfer in Premier League history. Illustrated by Craig Silcock.”
YouTube

‘Free eights’, ‘low blocks’ and ‘pockets’: Your Premier League glossary for the new season


“The new Premier League season is fast approaching and for those who follow it, this will mean once again being exposed to a language that can at times feel daunting. There are so many terms and expressions used in commentary, analysis and tactical talks by managers, players, pundits and journalists, some of which we nod dutifully along with even though we don’t really know what they mean. Here, The Athletic explains some of these words and phrases, and offers examples of how they can be correctly used. This is our 2022-23 Premier League glossary. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Investigation: Barcelona’s financial crisis and what the rest of football thinks of it


“As the football industry shuddered from the reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bright minds in the Barcelona boardroom concocted a plan. With the club beset by financial angst, one of their executives approached UEFA, the organiser of the Champions League, with a proposal. Barcelona required loans to ease the pain caused by years of poor decision-making in the transfer market and extravagance on player salaries, all of which was exacerbated by a pandemic that shattered commercial and matchday income.  The idea, therefore, was to apply for a loan from a bank and use anticipated future broadcast revenues from playing in the Champions League as the security for the loan. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Predicting the transfer market: Nunez, Haaland and league exchange rates


“It was hardly surprising that at least three of the Premier League’s leading clubs were interested and, ultimately, that one of them ended up taking the plunge. The striker had scored freely in his domestic league, was a good age and, on the face of it, had all the attributes — physical in particular but technical too — to succeed in England. … Either way, it is interesting to cast your eye down the table below and wonder what the numbers will look like for Manchester City’s Erland Haaland and Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez — the Premier League’s two biggest imports this summer — at the end of their first season in England. Nunez came off the bench to score in Saturday’s Community Shield victory whereas Haaland missed a sitter late on, but how will their contribution be viewed in May next year? …”
The Athletic (Video)

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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)

Fred Pentland: Athletic Bilbao’s English coach who changed the face of Spanish football


Fred Pentland was invited back to Athletic when they hosted Chelsea in his honour at San Mames in 1959
“It may be 100 years since he first set foot in the city, but mention the name Fred Pentland and Athletic Bilbao fans will fondly recall the legend of the Englishman with a trademark bowler hat and cigars. ‘El Bombin’ wasn’t the first English coach to lead the Basque club but he did leave an unprecedented mark on their history and can also claim to have played a key role in the evolution of Spanish football. …”
BBC
W – Fred Pentland
1930s Month: Pentland’s Lions of Bilbao

“Nothing short of the end of the earth will prevent this from going through…”


In the 1980s Oxford United and Reading FC of the English Football League almost became the same club. Robert Maxwell, one-time editor of The Daily Mirror, was the owner of Oxford and had the ill-conceived idea to merge the two rivals. This is the story of how it wouldn’t work out. Written by David Goldblatt, illustrated by Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube

Paulo Dybala and the Problem With Italy



“Paulo Dybala did not, particularly, look as if he were ready to say goodbye. As the lights at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, his home for the last seven years, flashed and flickered, and Tina Turner’s ‘The Best’ began its crescendo, he started to cry. Not in the sense of a single, elegant tear rolling down the cheek. He sobbed. He racked. His chest heaved as he gulped for air. …”
NY Times

What is the secret to man-management in football?


“The Portsmouth team that Harry Redknapp led to the Premier League in 2003 was a curious beast.”
“Managers devise training sessions, draw up complex tactical plans, manage multimillion-pound budgets, field challenging questions from the world’s press, shoulder the pressure of the club’s fanbase – and yet, when it comes to managing human beings, some of them struggle. Why? Because relationships are complicated. Players have distinct personalities, shaped by their unique upbringings, and they have egos and entourages. The best managers find the right balance between being tough on players and sensitive to their needs. …”
Guardian