Jesus Navas on Sevilla return, beating anxiety at Man City & life under Guardiola

February 22, 2018

“Jesus Navas had been away for four years. After returning to Seville, he was walking down the street, reacquainting himself with his home town. Suddenly, two men snuck up on him from behind, threw a sack over his head and bundled him into the boot of a waiting BMW. From there he was driven to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, then thrust out of the car, blinking into the Andalusian sun. …” The Set Pieces

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From Marseille to Leeds United, what’s the future for football’s fallen giants?

February 13, 2018


Leeds take on Bayern Munich in the 1975 European Cup final
“‘Give your blood!’ demands a banner behind a goal. But on a chilly Mediterranean winter night, Olympique Marseille’s Stade Velodrome (capacity: 67,000) is scarcely half-full for the game against Troyes. ‘OM’, as Marseille are popularly known, were European champions in 1993. (Their triumph was later tarnished when they were stripped of their French league title that year because of match-fixing, but few locals worry about that.) These days, though, OM have been left behind by their hated rivals, Qatari-funded Paris Saint-Germain. This month, while PSG meet Real Madrid in the Champions League, Marseille face little Braga of Portugal in the unglamorous Europa League. …” FT – Simon Kuper


Mourinho’s Pogba problem deepens after Benítez overcomes his old foe

February 13, 2018

“The end was chaotic, Newcastle camped in their box with every block and clearance being roared to the rafters, but the tension of that final minute of injury time, and the similarly desperate scramble at around 80 minutes, should not allow the narrative to take hold that Manchester United were unlucky to lose. Rather they were desperately drab, short of inspiration, their forward line a strange bodge job of sparkly parts that do not really go together. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Graham Potter: ‘I’ve shown there’s another path for English managers’

February 13, 2018

“‘It’s a different kind of cold,’ Graham Potter says as darkness spreads across Östersund and the temperature plummets to -20C. The inspirational manager of Östersund, who will reach the next stage of an incredible story when they host Arsenal in the first leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday, laughs when I say it’s hard to believe. I’ve felt colder on a wet February afternoon in Birmingham, not far from his old home in Solihull, than I do in this small town in remote northern Sweden. …” Guardian


Massimiliano Allegri, Mauricio Pochettino and an Italian tale that has taken Juventus to new heights

February 13, 2018


“Shortly after a power struggle at AC Milan between Barbara Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani ended with his dismissal, Massimiliano Allegri boarded a plane to London. He took in some Premier League games, ate at Novikov, learned a bit of English. It was time to broaden his horizons. Prepare for the next chapter of his career.  …” Independent


Gute Woche/ Schlechte Woche Matchday 22 Edition

February 13, 2018

“After the midweek DFB Pokal quarter-finals were decided, it was back to Bundesliga action this weekend with nine mouth-watering clashes to savour. Bayern overcame Schalke in the big game on Saturday, but there was disappointment for Leverkusen. The usual suspects at the bottom continued to struggle. We had a triple-Doppelpack, more goalkeeping chaos, the return of a legend, soaring eagles and goals aplenty. So just who were the winners and losers of matchday 22? …” Bundesliga Fanatic


Haifa – A tale of two clubs

February 13, 2018

“It’s a cold Saturday afternoon in the Northern Israel city of Haifa, a passing Mediterranean storm has just drenched those who were braving the elements with a stroll on the windswept boardwalk. The beachfront is deserted at this time of year, the cafes and restaurants that are alive during summer have the hatches well and truly battened down and save for a few surfers who are reveling in the rough conditions it is safe to assume that the city’s population have stayed indoors thinking of the upcoming spring. …” backpagefootball