Vulnerable channels and 20 zones: the tactics behind Guardiola’s title win

April 25, 2018

“Ottmar Hitzfeld, the former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich manager, used to speak of the red zone, a central area of the pitch just outside the penalty box. Control that, he believed, and you controlled the game. If in your half you denied the opposition the ball in that space, they were forced wide and while crosses can be dangerous they are a low percentage route to goal. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

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Tottenham’s staying power in question as economic gravity pulls hard

December 14, 2017

“Gravity can be annoyingly persistent. Mauricio Pochettino, as so often, said all the right things after Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday. He is looking forward to the challenge of taking on Manchester City. He is ‘positive’. He promised Tottenham will ‘enjoy it’. They will go to the Etihad Stadium to win. Which is all well and good. Perhaps Tottenham will end both Manchester City’s run of 15 successive league wins and their own miserable record in away games against other top-six sides. Perhaps they will, at least temporarily, return a flicker of excitement to a title race that seems all but run. However, there is a lurking sense that none of it really matters. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Harry Kane shows clubs should not discard players too early

March 16, 2015

“Many magic numbers are being thrown around about Harry Kane, adding up to why the Tottenham Hotspur striker is being feted as such a strong candidate for the players’ Player of the Year and the writers’ Footballer of the Year. Numbers like four. Kane has just become only the fourth man to win back-to-back Premier League Player of the Month awards, joining such illustrious names as Robbie Fowler, Dennis Bergkamp and Cristiano Ronaldo.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson backed by peers after fan with row: ‘You said what rest us want to say’

December 12, 2014

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“Nigel Pearson is one of the most measured, thoughtful managers in the country so it was a warning sign of the pressures his profession is under when even he snapped at an abusive fan, an offence that brought a Football Association charge on Thursday. The Leicester City manager remained phlegmatic when being alerted of the FA’s decision in the afternoon, just as he stayed calm earlier in the day despite the deep frustration after one of his best players this season, Kasper Schmeichel, broke a metatarsal in training. Leicester’s goalkeeper undergoes an operation today and will be out for ‘four to six weeks’, according to his manager.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Wayne Rooney can take England’s goals record but not the glory of his predecessors

October 8, 2014

“The Sir Bobby Charlton suite is the most luxurious room in the hotel currently occupied by England at St George’s Park albeit hardly the Ritz. The Gary Lineker pitch (No 11) is, contrary to expectation, more than two six-yard boxes. Yet nowhere at England’s training base is there any room or pitch named in tribute to Jimmy Greaves, the distinguished international lying third behind Lineker and Charlton as his country’s all-time goalscorer. Greaves’s photograph does hang alongside those of Lineker and Charlton on the walls of the corridors that Wayne Rooney will walk along on this morning, heading off out to Pitch 6, the main England practice area. Rooney will soon pass the fabled trio in the record books as well as the corridor, starting with Greaves possibly this week. His elevation will stir sadness as well as admiration. Rooney can equal the maths but not the history.” Telegraph . Henry Winter


Manchester City 1 Chelsea 1: Frank Lampard comes off the bench to upset former club and save the champions

September 21, 2014

“Frank Lampard holds a special place in the Chelsea record books and in the hearts of their fans. Even when their club’s all-time leading scorer, ‘Super’ Frank Lampard, equalised for Manchester City here, Chelsea supporters continued to sing his name. He cost them two points but had given them 13 unforgettable years. Lampard will always be in credit in their ledger of loyalty. At the end of a contentious, slightly surreal encounter, Lampard walked over to thank the away fans, who waved banners and chorused his name again in return. Little sportsmanship resides in football in the cynical modern era so it was an impressive reaction by the Chelsea contingent.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Tottenham Hotspur 0 Liverpool 3: Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard and Alberto Moreno secure victory

September 1, 2014

“Brendan Rodgers celebrated his 100th game in charge of Liverpool with a good win against Tottenham Hotspur and a very good joke about Raheem Sterling’s astonishing second-half miss: ‘Raheem ran into the box like Ricky Villa and finished it like Ricky Gervais.’ This was more than another day at the office for Liverpool. This was Rodgers’s side back in business. After Liverpool’s defeat at Man­chester City last Monday, a few dark clouds of doubt scurried across the Melwood skyline. But Rodgers calmly trained his players well all week, setting them up tactically to outwit Spurs and particularly expose their high-pressing tactics. Liverpool moved the ball quickly, occasionally over the top, catching Spurs out.” Telegraph – Henry Winter