Manchester City 4 Manchester United 1: match report

September 22, 2013

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“As Manchester City fans staged a party, a search party was scrambled for Manchester United’s defence. The champions were so disorganised and lacking in resilience for 50 minutes as City ripped them apart through swift counters and set-pieces. Sergio Aguero took the headlines with his brace but there were superb performances throughout the City ranks. Samir Nasri, a weak link in previous Derbies, was outstanding here, tracking back, creating and scoring and deservedly being named man of the match. Yaya Toure controlled central midfield, totally eclipsing Marouane Fellaini, and popping up to score at a corner.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United: Tactical Analysis
“The Manchester derby is a game that is always filled with drama and excitement. In recent times owing to City’s new found wealth, it’s become a fixture about more than bragging rights and 3 points alone. With both sides battling it out in the upper echelons of the Premier League, the fixture has taken on even more significance. Both Moyes and Pellegrini experienced their first taste of the rivalry and had an early chance to lay down that much talked about early marker.” Outside of the Boot

Manchester City’s success built on Samir Nasri and Aleksandar Kolarov
“Samir Nasri was the villain in this fixture last season, when his half-hearted attempt at blocking a Robin van Persie free-kick sent the ball spinning past Joe Hart to seal a Manchester United victory, but the Frenchman was one of the key performers in this superb City display. Both sides were not far off playing a simple 4-4-2, but whereas United were rigid and unimaginative throughout Nasri was the only player who varied his positioning intelligently.” Guardian

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Premier League fans have been put out of the picture by 3D cameras

August 27, 2013

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“The joy of such enthusiastically delivered news might be lost on some of those fans actually present. Sixty season ticketholders have been moved from their favoured habitat. This new £3 billion Premier League television deal comes at a cost for the match goer. Caring clubs are seeking to accommodate them in other parts of the stadium but fans are creatures of habit, wanting the same familiar routes, gangways, characters, seats, neighbours. It is like breaking up a good party, or even family. Television grows ever more powerful and demanding. More games are being screened in more countries with more cameras, some of them of the bulky, space-commanding 3D variety.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund: Dortmund take control with good pressing, but Robben moves upfront to make the difference

May 26, 2013

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“Bayern initially struggled to get into the game, but eventually emerged victorious after a strong second half performance. Jupp Heynckes selected Jerome Boateng rather than Daniel van Buyten at the back – the only real selection decision either manager had to make. Jurgen Klopp named his expected XI. Dortmund started the game excellently, pinning Bayern back and attempting six shots before Bayern had managed one – but eventually their pressing dropped, and Bayern continually exploited the space in behind the Dortmund defence.” Zonal Marking

Champion Bayern Munich sets magnificent yet troubling standard
“For Bayern as a whole, this was a story of redemption. For Arjen Robben, in particular, it was a story of redemption. And for Jupp Heynckes it was, a story of vindication, of proving his point so that he can leave, having been forcibly retired, having proved he is a winner and having become only the fourth coach — after Ernst Happel, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Jose Mourinho — to win the European Cup with two different teams. Bayern had lost in the final in 2010 and 2012. It had been defeated at the last in 1999. It had lost surprisingly in 1987 and 1982. It had come to look guilty of that least German of attributes: choking. There was a moment at Wembley when it looked as though it might once again falter at the last: after an awkward opening half hour it had dominated and had taken the lead, before conceding an equalizer with a wholly needless penalty.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: Thomas Müller simply refused to be denied in Champions League final
” On the eve of this visit to Wembley, and reflecting on chastening nights in Madrid and Munich, Müller had observed: “If you lose three finals in four years, you are going to be labelled chokers.’’ Not here. Not on Müller’s watch. He would not let it happen. Bayern would not be called chokers. Müller and his team-mates wanted this too much. They were too fit, a reminder of the exceptional medical conditioning of the celebrated physician Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt. Bayern were too hungry, particularly as a compelling game wore on and the lactic acid ganged up on Borussia Dortmund.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Dortmund 1-2 Bayern- Tactical Analysis
“A full house and an electric atmosphere greeted the two top teams of Germany and Europe in the UEFA Champions League Final. Bayern came into the game as favourites to win the game,and won a wonderful end-to-end contest. A weakened Dortmund team started without their talisman and future Bayern player, Mario Gotze. Weidenfeller started at the back, with the usual back 4 of Pisczcek, Schmelzer, Subotic and Hummels in front of him. In midfield, Bender and Gundogan were the deeper pair, and Grosskreutz, Reus and Kuba were in the advanced roles. Up front, it was the Pole, Robert Lewandowski.” Outside of the Boot

Robben gets redemption as Bayern Munich wins Champions League
“… Arjen Robben, a winger but always in the center of things. We saw by turns the worst, the best, the worst and finally the best again of the brilliant Dutch midfielder. It is ever thus with Robben. In the first half, he had golden chances on two occasions but failed to convert as Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller stoned Robben twice, bringing back memories of similar Robben chances in the 2010 World Cup final.” SI


Alex Ferguson was as adept at evolving tactically as any manager in history

May 9, 2013

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“Perhaps Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest gift, certainly the one that has maintained him at the top of the British game for 35 years, has been his ability to evolve. No side he has managed has ever been good enough to satisfy him; he has always been willing to cut and adapt. Probably the most shocking change came in 2000. United had won the Treble the previous season and they were 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League when they met Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. No game since the Premier League came into being has arguably had such tactical ramifications.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

End of an era as Ferguson calls it quits
“One of the most momentous eras in world club football is about to draw to a close with the retirement, in 11 days’ time, of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United. United confirmed his departure – to become a director and club ambassador – after a rush of sudden overnight speculation.” World Soccer

Alex Ferguson retires: Manchester United prepare for life with David Moyes but aura of a ‘mad man’ will remain
” All that drive, all that competitiveness, all those early starts to get on with plotting campaigns and all those late nights to keep on plotting triumphant campaigns. All the teams built and rebuilt, all those rivals seen off and trophies claimed. Ferguson slept little and won loads. Year after year, season after season. And now it is over. English football will seem so different in the post-Ferguson era. It will feel like Trafalgar Square without Nelson. As a manager, Ferguson was inimitable. David Moyes, a sound appointment as his successor, must be himself when assuming control of Manchester United, not seeking to replicate his more illustrious compatriot.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

A Few Thoughts on Ferguson
“We’ve been preoccupied with term papers the last few weeks, but this is important. Alex Ferguson retired this morning, meaning that the long summer we’ve grown accustomed to slipped into Winter before we even had a chance to catch up on Doomsday Preppers. Ferguson, austerity embodied, was never the type to arouse any sort of intense passion. Besides a few Chicharito-induced flirtations, notable for being as fervent as they were fleeting, I had no relationship with Manchester United, nor any practical concern for their well-being. To a certain extent, that’s a result of the indifference that follows unattached fans, but perhaps more so, evidence of my casual disdain for successful clubs.” Futbol Intellect

Sir Alex Ferguson’s highs and lows
“Even when reaching the standards that Sir Alex Ferguson has maintained at Manchester United, there have been moments of crashing disappointment that match the crazed highs. Ferguson, though, has used the failures as fuel to fire his successes.” ESPN (Video)

David Moyes a safe choice for Manchester United but comes with risk
“There is a paradox in the employment market, something anybody who has ever applied for a first job, or tried to step up to the next level in their chosen career will have experienced — and that is the issue of experience. It’s understandable that employers want employees who have experience, but if you haven’t got it, how are you supposed to get it if nobody will give you a job without it?” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Man United Alex Ferguson retiring at end of season
“Alex Ferguson is retiring at the end of the season, bringing a close to a trophy-filled career of more than 26 years at Manchester United that established him as the most successful coach in British football history.” SI (Video)


The Question: How is interpretation of the playmaker role changing?

April 4, 2013

“Perhaps no position is undergoing such evolution so rapidly as the playmaker – or, as it is probably more accurate to call him in his present guise, the creative midfielder. This week, the Champions League quarter-finals seemed almost to showcase the changing interpretations of the position – albeit in the most modern case in unfortunately truncated form.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Montenegro 1-1 England: Montenegro start timidly but introduce attackers effectively

March 28, 2013

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“Branko Brnovic surprisingly started with a lone forward, but ended up with four outright attackers as Montenegro deservedly claimed a point. Brnovic’s selection was hampered by injuries and suspensions – Miodrag Dzudovic, Mitar Novakovic and Simon Vukcevic all came into the side. Roy Hodgson made significant changes from the side that comfortably defeated San Marino on Friday evening, with Danny Welbeck, Steven Gerrard, Michael Carrick, James Milner, Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson returning. A game of two halves – England dominated against an oddly passive Montenegro, but were unable to deal with the increased attacking threat after half-time.” Zonal Marking

England manager Roy Hodgson needs to wake up to some harsh realities as spectre of World Cup play-offs looms
” England are in a dark place, a potentially damaging and hugely expensive place. They trail to bullish Montenegro in the race for automatic qualification, face the possibility of a play-off against France and risk losing out on the 2014 Brazilian bonanza of £26m to the FA and £100m to the nation’s economy. Hodgson is confident of overtaking Montenegro, who lead Group H by two points, but the spectre of the play-offs should really focus his thoughts sharply. November’s two-legged examination of psychological, tactical and technical strengths must be avoided. Hodgson needs to stop clutching at draws and start winning, instilling a more assertive culture in his players and his own response to difficulties.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Manchester United 1-2 Real Madrid: red card allows Real to take control

March 6, 2013

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“Manchester United’s starting strategy nullified Real Madrid’s main threats, but Jose Mourinho reacted quickly after United went down to ten. Sir Alex Ferguson left out Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa, favouring Nani and Ryan Giggs on the flanks. Tom Cleverley started in place of Phil Jones, while Jonny Evans dropped to the bench as Ferguson favoured the old-school Ferdinand-Vidic partnership. Jose Mourinho named his expected side. Gonzalo Higuain was upfront rather than Karim Benzema, Raphael Varane continued at centre-back. Sadly, we were denied a chance to see how the 11 v 11 game would play out – Real had looked impotent until Nani’s red card, and it would have been fascinating to see how they tried to break down United in the final half hour.” Zonal Marking

Controversial red card changed complexion of Madrid-United tilt
“There was no doubt about the moment that changed the game. Manchester United had been leading 1-0 on Tuesday night, 2-1 on aggregate, and was winning the tactical battle when, 11 minutes into the second half, Nani leapt to try to take down a dropping clearance from Rafael. His raised foot caught Alvaro Arbeloa in the stomach, and Turkish referee Cunet Cakir decided, to widespread surprise, that he was guilty of serious foul play and showed a red card.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Manchester United red with rage after referee wrecks Champions League dream with Nani red card against Real
“When Manchester United’s devastated players finally emerged from the dressing room, they would not, probably could not talk. The club had advised them to stay silent over Cuneyt Cakir’s unspeakable decision to send off Nani. Their inner fury, the anger in the eyes said it all.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Wins over Man. United and Barcelona give Mourinho an exit strategy
“There is a phrase, borrowed from bullfighting, which the Spanish use a lot: por la puerta grande. Out through the main door, triumphantly. Maybe even on the shoulders of supporters while a crowd gathers at your feet, holding the trophy in the air — a bloodied bull’s ear, in this case, the cup with the big ears if we’re talking football. There are different ways to depart after the fight, many ways to leave, and departing victorious is always best.” SI (Video)

Newsstand: British Tabloids Aflare After Man United’s Controversial Loss To Real Madrid
“Real Madrid eliminated Manchester United from the Champions League today with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. The English champions led 1-0 after an own goal by Sergio Ramos, but the turning point came when Turkish referee Cuynet Cakir sent off Nani for a studs-high challenge.” SI (Video)