Celtic: Hearts deliver ‘boot up the rear’ to Rodgers’ ‘invincibles’

December 21, 2017


“Had you ventured into the Tynecastle Arms on Saturday night and asked every last Hearts fan in the place for their most optimistic scenario for the meeting with Celtic the day after, the chances are that none of their boozy dreams would have been as big and as fanciful as the trippy reality. Harry Cochrane was 10 years old the last time Hearts beat Celtic. Fellow midfielder Anthony McDonald was 11. For 20 games going back five-and-a-half years, Celtic had lorded it over them to a painful degree. Eighteen victories and two draws; 62 goals scored and nine conceded. …” BBC (Video)

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In an Unforgiving Sport, They Minister to Hearts and Souls

December 21, 2017

“The work is done over a quiet cup of coffee, in the privacy of the physiotherapist’s room, or through a brief chat on the touchline after training. It might be no more than a quick text message or email, asking if everything is O.K. It is supposed to take just one day a week, but in reality it means being on call, 24/7, even years after the work has supposedly ended. It is entirely voluntary, and wholly unpaid. It can be sad and troubling: dealing with addictions and pain, fear and death. But it can be joyous, too: helping with births and marriages, healing wounds and building relationships. Most often, though, it is simply being there: a shoulder to cry on and an ear to bend, the one person in the relentless, ruthless environment of professional soccer who is not concerned with how well you are playing or how many goals you have scored. It is why many players, and so many teams, treasure the discreet presence of a club chaplain. …” NY Times


FM18 Project: Scouting Guide

December 21, 2017

“No matter what level you start at on Football Manager 2018, it’s imperative that you get your recruitment right. The best way to achieve this is to ensure that your scouting department is working effectively to provide you with accurate reports on potential targets. Here are a few ways to get the most out of scouting on FM18… Upon joining a new club on FM18 one of your first priorities should be to evaluate the staff you’ve inherited and decide who to keep and who to get rid of. It’s a cruel world, football. …” The Set Pieces


Lokomotiv Moscow on track for unlikely Russian Premier League title

December 21, 2017

“Should Lokomotiv Moscow make good on the lead they have taken into the long Russian winter break then they will be the fourth different Premier League winner in that country in the last four seasons. Russian football might not be of the highest quality, but it’s certainly up there when it comes to intrigue. …” Back Page Football


The Three Epic, Early Champions League Showdowns

December 14, 2017


“The draw for the Champions League round of 16 is set, and even though the first games will not be played for two months, we already know that at least one true European power will be eliminated before the quarterfinals kick off, and a couple more elite clubs could be in trouble. This is because the Champions League draw pitted some of the best teams in the world against each other in early clashes. According to Soccer Power Index, six of the nine best teams to make the knockouts have been drawn against each other. These three matchups — each of which consists of two games, one at each club’s home grounds — should give the Round of 16 a new level of drama. … ” fivethirtyeight, NY Times: Real-P.S.G. and Barcelona-Chelsea in the Champions League, YouTube: The Three Epic, Early Champions League Showdowns


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


Liverpool 0 West Brom 0: Jurgen Klopp’s side fire blanks after Dominic Solanke ‘goal’ is cancelled out

December 14, 2017

“The full-time march from the touchline to referee is becoming frustratingly familiar to Jurgen Klopp. If a contentious penalty decision irked him after Sunday’s Merseyside derby, a handball ruling to deny Dominic Solanke his first Liverpool goal left him cursing another home draw. It is difficult to know who had most trepidation at the final whistle at Anfield: referee Paul Tierney as the Liverpool manager sought his attention; or TV interviewers seeking Klopp’s assessment. In fairness to West Bromwich Albion, they were deserving of their point and would have been considered unlucky had Solanke’s 83rd- minute strike stood. …” Telegraph