Tag Archives: Football Manager

Crossing the Danube – the story of the inaugural Mitropa Cup

“From the late 19th century and into the 1920s, Vienna became what many writers have called a ‘centre of fermentation’, propagated by the cultural and intellectual elite of the city. Ideas, ideaologies, social movements, progressive medicine, music and literature filled the air of Vienna’s cafés and coffee houses. The Vienna Circle, a group of philosophers hell-bent on bringing scientific enlightenment to people, also emerged from the city. Football also benefitted from this culture of cerebral curiosity. …”
Game of the People
Game of the People – Crossing the Danube – the story of the inaugural Mitropa Cup
W – Mitropa Cup
Nations which participated in the Mitropa Cup (1927–1940)


How Carvajal and Camavinga’s positioning caused problems for Chelsea

“… Real Madrid’s right flank has been central to some tweaking in recent weeks, especially with Rodrygo’s constant movement inside to overload the centre of the pitch or even double up with Vinicius Junior on the left at times. Against Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday, it was more of the same but with a different idea to battle against Frank Lampard’s 5-3-2. Chelsea’s caretaker manager moved away from the back-five system in his first game in charge against Wolverhampton Wanderers, but returned to this shape in this match against Real Madrid. …’
The Athletic
The Athletic – Real Madrid 2 Chelsea 0: Champions in control, Lampard tactics backfire – and poor Joao Felix
The Athletic – As Real Madrid impress again, Carlo Ancelotti is big winner at a critical time

Napoli may have regrets from defeat in Milan – they need to unite for the home leg

“In San Siro’s Curva Sud, a pair of devilish red hands threatened to strangle the Pulcinella, a cowering look of pure terror writ large on the masked face of this figure from Neapolitan folklore. ‘In our hands, our destiny,’ proclaimed the Milan ultras’ pre-match choreography. But once the Champions League quarter-final kicked off, the street-wise Pulcinella cunningly escaped Milan’s clutches and seemed intent on making fun of their hosts on the biggest stage. Napoli did not appear intimidated by the atmosphere or the team that beat them up 4-0 in the league at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona 10 days ago. …”
The Athletic (Video)
Guardian – Milan against the world: five of their greatest nights on the big stage
NY Times: Milan Celebrates Its Revival With a Mighty Roar

Champions League to non-League – how fine are margins between the best and semi-pros?

“The Etihad Stadium. A Champions League quarter-final. Manchester City and Bayern Munich. John Stones is strolling out of central defence into midfield, having spent the last few weeks doing the same but from right-back. It is the latest tactical curiosity from City manager Pep Guardiola’s back catalogue and another string to the bow of one of the most technically gifted defenders of a generation. Stones is named man of the match as City win 3-0. The previous afternoon, about four and a half miles eastwards and eight stops along Manchester’s tram system, Curzon Ashton are hosting Spennymoor Town in the National League North, the sixth tier of English football. …”
The Athletic

Manchester City 3 Bayern Munich 0: Rodri’s stunner, Bayern dishevelled and Dias the Colossus

Manchester City took a huge stride towards a Champions League semi-final with a riotous victory over Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s side will take a three-goal lead into next week’s second leg in Bavaria. Rodri’s stunning goal, curled in from distance beyond a despairing Yann Sommer, prised an initially tight game open before the hosts ran riot to score twice more in six frantic second-half minutes. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic – Pep Guardiola’s tactical evolution: The one constant? Change

Liverpool against Arsenal dispelled a myth – it was proof tactical battles can be fun

“‘Intriguing tactical battles’ are generally considered to be a euphemism for matches that are tight, tense, and uneventful. This is something of a myth, however. Commentators, pundits and presenters refer to games in this manner when nothing else is happening, in an attempt to convince the armchair viewer that sitting through it isn’t a complete waste of their time. But Liverpool’s 2-2 Anfield draw with Arsenal yesterday was one of the most intriguing tactical battles you’ll see all season and one of the best games you’ll see all season. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

Liverpool 2 Arsenal 2: Firmino’s revival, Ramsdale’s rescue and a Premier League classic

Arsenal withstood a blistering second-half barrage from Liverpool to salvage what could yet prove a crucial draw in their pursuit of a first Premier League title since 2004. Aaron Ramsdale conjured two stunning late saves deep into stoppage time to ensure Arsenal left Anfield with a point for the first time in seven seasons after blowing a 2-0 lead. Their advantage at the top of the table now stands at six points, with second-placed Manchester City — who host the leaders later this month — holding a game in hand. …”
The Athletic

‘I can’t live without it’: grassroots referees on passion in face of abuse

“Let’s be honest, Paolo Di Canio pushing over Paul Alcock; Manchester United players hunting a backpedalling Andy D’Urso; Aleksandar Mitrovic’s tantrum at Old Trafford, punished by an eight-game ban: not the least hilarious things we have seen. And why shouldn’t we laugh? … Greg Cruttwell’s new film, In the Middle, introduces us to a diverse range of officials at a variety of levels, all of whom know two things: player behaviour in the Premier League inspires player behaviour through the pyramid, and grassroots referees are absolutely not safe. …”

Frank Lampard Returning to Chelsea Epitomizes the Chaos of the Club’s Season

“When Chelsea square off against Wolves on Saturday, the fourth manager of the current Premier League campaign will lead the team out of the tunnel, though it won’t exactly be an unfamiliar face. Last seen in January after dragging Everton into the relegation zone, Frank Lampard has been appointed as Chelsea’s caretaker manager for the remainder of the season, just over two years after he was sacked by the club. Chelsea bringing Lampard back is the cherry on top of the schadenfreude sundae—the team sits in 11th place and is struggling to score goals, but at least it’s the breakaway leader in xB (expected banter). …”
The Ringer

Game of Numbers #14 – Ilkay Gündoğan’s Movement Masterclass

“It’s spectacular to think that even within a midfield of Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Rodri, that İlkay Gündoğan remains one of City’s most important players when it matters most. He’s guaranteed a selection for 20-30 games in any given season, despite all the magnificent options operating around him. In fact, when fit, he’s often the team captain – even when more vocal players like Dias or De Bruyne remain available. This is all down to the German’s intelligence and magnificence when it comes to off-the-ball movement. …”
The Mastermindsite (Video)

Liverpool shouldn’t sack Klopp – but it is right questions are being asked of him

“Imagine, for a second, that Liverpool hadn’t appointed Jurgen Klopp in late 2015 and were instead forced to settle for an inferior manager who only marginally improved the club. In that world, the past few years in English football would have been very dull. Rather than Manchester City winning four of the last five titles — already a huge level of dominance, although two of them were only clinched on the final day ahead of Liverpool — they would presumably have coasted to five in a row without any serious challenge. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: Liverpool’s whole defensive structure is struggling – it’s not just Virgil van Dijk

Sackings spate shows who matters now: welcome to football’s age of the executive

Patrick Vieira gone! Antonio Conte gone! Brendan Rodgers gone! Graham Potter gone! More managers have left Premier League clubs in the past four weeks than in the entire 2005-06, 2003-04 or 1995-96 seasons. The past month has not quite matched the chaos of November 1994, when Ossie Ardiles, Mike Walker, Ron Atkinson, Gerry Francis and Brian Little left their jobs, but for managers this has been the most turbulent season in Premier League history, with 13 leaving mid‑campaign. It may not be over yet. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Real Madrid’s gamble may have cost them La Liga — here, it dismantled Barcelona

“The simple concept of risk and reward is a major part of football tactics, and seems to be particularly crucial in contests between Barcelona and Real Madrid. When the two sides met last month in a crucial La Liga encounter, Carlo Ancelotti boldly pushed Dani Carvajal forward from right-back into an advanced position where he caused Barcelona serious problems in the second half. At one point, it appeared he had crossed for Marco Asensio to turn home a winner, but the goal was disallowed by the VAR. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox
The Athletic: Barcelona will still win La Liga – but 4-0 Clasico defeat is going to hurt

Collective goals: multi-club ownership is changing world football’s landscape

““’We don’t have a hierarchy of clubs – this is not a pyramid-type model,’ Joshua Wander insisted after 777 Partners completed its purchase of a 64.7% majority stake in Hertha Berlin last month. ‘This is really about preserving the independence and the deep and rich histories of the individual clubs. We want to provide our clubs with the tools so that they can all be the best.’ …”

How Pep Guardiola turned John Stones into Manchester City’s midfield maestro

“John Stones’ performance against Liverpool on Saturday was a masterclass. In recent weeks, Stones has been Pep Guardiola’s inverted full-back, moving from right-back to central midfield seamlessly and helping Manchester City dominate games. While Stones has less impact in the final third compared to his predecessor Joao Cancelo, who used to move into midfield from left-back, the England international’s own style has allowed City to thrive in other ways. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: Jurgen Klopp seems bullet-proof but Liverpool’s patience is not limitless

Joe Willock will score more Newcastle goals thanks to exceptional runs

“Off-ball movement usually goes unnoticed. With 20 outfield players running around, and the focus on the ball, it’s hard to grasp everything happening on the pitch upon first viewing. That’s why team analysts and coaches go over the tape again and again and again, and why they know their players better than anyone else. Joe Willock’s off-ball movement might not have resulted in a bucket load of goals and assists this season for Newcastle United, but the smart runs the 23-year-old has been making meant Eddie Howe knew it was only a matter of time. …”
The Athletic

Chelsea’s next manager: Nagelsmann? Ancelotti? Pochettino? Our experts’ verdicts

“It is not even a year since Chelsea’s new owners, the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital consortium, took charge at Stamford Bridge and they are already searching for their second new manager. Graham Potter’s sacking on Sunday, just seven months after he succeeded Thomas Tuchel, suggested the ownership’s stated aim of being different to the ruthless hire-and-fire culture of Roman Abramovich is a long way from being realised. …”
The Athletic (Video)

AC Milan toyed with Napoli in 4-0 win – roll on their Champions League rematch

“There is an old theatrical tradition that a bad dress rehearsal is followed by a successful first night of a show. Napoli will have to hope that is true. Sunday’s Serie A game against AC Milan was the first of three meetings between the sides in 17 days. The other two are in a Champions League quarter-final, with the first leg at San Siro next Wednesday and the return in Naples the following Tuesday. …”
The Athletic

Stone Island, cravats and rollnecks: Does it matter what managers wear?

“‘It is very methodical. I am a very methodical, routine person.’ Mikel Arteta could be talking about any number of things there. What formation should Arsenal play? Is this the time to rest key players? How should he mix up training this week? It was none of those. He was, instead, talking about his choice of touchline clothing. …”
The Athletic

Does xG tell the whole truth?

‘Expected goals’ is a metric that was developed to give a better sense of how good a football team’s performances are beyond simply looking at the score lines they produce. But do the numbers always accurately show what is going on? And does xG always tell the whole truth? Jon Mackenzie explains. Philippe Fenner illustrates.”

Premier League predictions: Arsenal to edge title race but Manchester City to lift the Champions League?

“Will Arsenal hold on? Can Thomas Tuchel turn Bayern Munich into Champions League winners? Who will finish top four in the Premier League? And who will go down? And just how many league goals will Erling Haaland finish on in his first season at Manchester City? Oliver Kay, Daniel Taylor, Sarah Shephard, Nick Miller and Dan Sheldon assess the Premier League run-in and pick their Champions League and Europa League champions. …”
The Athletic

Thriving in Transition: A Scouting Report on Folarin Balogun

“When big clubs loan their youngsters out, it doesn’t always work out that well. A common outcome is a loaned-out player sitting on the bench at a relegation-battling side that plays in a style diametrically opposite to their parent club’s, and it can cost the player a year of their development at a crucial stage. Folarin Balogun’s spell at Stade Reims might be an example on the other end of the spectrum. …”
The Analyst (Video)

James Maddison’s full England debut assessed: Does he offer something unique?

James Maddison may have had to wait over three years for his second England cap, but his performance against Ukraine as he made his full debut yesterday should ensure he won’t wait as long for his third. Many people have been scratching their heads as to why England manager Gareth Southgate had been so reluctant to give Maddison another go after his substitute appearance against Montenegro in November 2019. …”
The Athletic

Where is the best fit for Nagelsmann after Bayern: Tottenham, PSG, Real Madrid, Chelsea?

“It’s amazing to think Julian Nagelsmann is still only 35. It’s a testament to his talent that he is more established than someone of his age may otherwise be, and feels like he’s been around forever. He was the Bundesliga’s youngest permanent head coach when he took charge of Hoffenheim aged 28, and was still just 33 when he arrived at Bayern Munich. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Bayern Munich, Julian Nagelsmann and a very surprising sacking (Video)

How to move off the ball like a world class winger

“In the modern era, wingers can be as vital to scoring goals and creating chances as any other position on the pitch. Elite superstars like Mohamed Salah and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia have illustrated this to a tee this year, for both their goal scoring prowess and chance creation supremacy. But most young players aspiring to be the world’s best struggle to see the finer details of exactly how the likes of Salah and Kvara find themselves in those scoring positions. With that, we break down how to move off the ball like a world class winger, with real examples from the likes mentioned above, in addition to Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Alex Morgan. …”
The Mastermindsite (Video)

Italy 1-2 England: Record-breaking Kane fires Gareth Southgate’s men to victory in Naples

Harry Kane will always remember Naples. Six months on from their last meeting in the group stages of the Nations League, the Euro 2020 finalists locked horns again in a Euro 2024 qualifier at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Declan Rice pounced to give England the lead before Kane fired home the goal that makes him his country’s all-time record men’s goalscorer — his 54th in a Three Lions shirt — from the penalty spot after Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s handball. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: England have been blessed with goalscoring centre-forwards for 40 years. Has anyone else?
Guardian: Harry Kane becomes England’s all-time record scorer in qualifier win over Italy
The Analyst – 53 and Counting: Harry Kane on the Cusp of Becoming England Men’s Record Goalscorer

The 10 best corner routines of the Premier League season… so far

“… Increased focus has led to more innovation, and corners are one aspect of the game to have benefited from this. Gone are the days of just putting it in the mixer. Now pre-planned moves are showing their effectiveness. In this piece, The Athletic breaks down the 10 most innovative corners this season. To narrow down the selection from more than two and half thousand so far this season to just over a hundred, only those that resulted in a goal were in contention. Additionally, the idea of the corner alone doesn’t put it into the top 10, its execution also factors into the equation. Let’s begin… …”
The Athletic (Video)

Are Bayern Munich really progressing under Julian Nagelsmann?

“Julian Nagelsmann might have imagined this stage of the season in many different guises when he resumed work after the World Cup. He almost certainly did not envisage this. His team will begin April with more games to shape the remainder of their campaign than they normally would at this stage, a legacy of the aforementioned break for the tournament in Qatar, but they will also make their way onto that road in an unfamiliar position of second place. Bayern Munich did not lose everything in Leverkusen, but any misapprehension under which they might have laboured under that this is a regular Bayern season is gone. …”
W – Julian Nagelsmann

The strange career of Dele Alli

Dele Alli burst onto the scene as a 16 year old for MK Dons, by the age of 19 he was playing in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur and scoring goals for England. Twice voted PFA Young Player of the Year he would become one of Spurs’ most important players. Yet at the age of just 26 he is in the Turkish league struggling to make an impact at Besiktas. What went wrong for Dele Alli? Seb Stafford-Bloor writes, Craig Silcock illustrates.”
W – Dele Alli

Liverpool must pull off the impossible at Real Madrid – this is how they do it

“The odds will be stacked against Liverpool when they walk out at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. Real Madrid’s 5-2 win in the first leg at Anfield three weeks ago — Liverpool’s heaviest defeat at home in the Champions League — left Jurgen Klopp’s side on the brink of elimination. The champions of Europe, three goals up in their own stadium, against a team beaten by lowly Bournemouth last weekend. Logic suggests the tie is already done and dusted. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic – Real Madrid 1 Liverpool 0: Klopp’s team limp out – who can stop the champions?

Can Rochdale avoid the drop?

Rochdale AFC’s Crown Oil Arena
“In the days when clubs at the bottom of the Football League had to seek re-election, Rochdale often had to rely on their old pals to maintain their status. Since automatic promotion and relegation began, Rochdale have not faced the ignominy of relegation to the National League, but if their present situation does not improve, a club with over 100 years of Football League heritage could find itself playing in the non-league game. Rochdale are currently bottom of League Two and six points from safety and they are five behind 23rd-placed Hartlepool United. There’s nine games to go, five of which are away from home for the ‘The Dale’. …”
Game of the People

Which Premier League club are best at penalty shootouts?

“Whether Arsenal and their fans are actually disappointed to have exited the Europa League or not, it happened. Of course, Mikel Arteta’s team didn’t lose to Sporting Lisbon in the competition’s round of 16 this week, they drew 3-3 on aggregate. As a result, the tie was decided by that classic invention of the 1970s, the penalty shootout. Shootouts are one of those elements of football where fans might have a reasonable grasp of their team’s record, and can usually recall some infamous moments from elsewhere — John Terry slipping in the rain in Moscow 2008, perhaps — but other than that, it’s a fairly nebulous concept. …”
The Athletic

Alan Shearer on Wrexham’s Paul Mullin: ‘The ideal balance of selfless and selfish’

Paul Mullin is a star courtesy of Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney and a brilliant documentary series that has transported Hollywood to north Wales. The 28-year-old centre-forward’s career had been low-key and he was something of a journeyman-in-waiting. Mullin graduated from Huddersfield Town’s academy but, after a brief spell on loan at sixth-tier Vauxhall Motors aged 20, left without playing a game for their senior side. He was picked up by Morecambe, then moved to Swindon Town, Tranmere Rovers and Cambridge United, where he finally made a name for himself. …”
The Athletic (Video)

The Europa Conference League: an unlikely stroke of genius?

“When UEFA announced the introduction of a tertiary continental club competition, it’s fair to say that the idea received a lukewarm reception at best. While some, for various reasons, did instantly herald the UEFA Europa Conference League as a welcome addition to the European calendar, for the majority it appeared to be another maverick UEFA project – a concept formulated by a governing body seemingly more concerned with validating its own role against a backdrop of rising ‘super’ club power than adding real value to the game. Clearly, there were also financial motivations involved, with UEFA looking to eke out every ounce of commercial potential from its lucrative estate. …”
Football Paradise

Liverpool’s elite status under threat after timid exit from the Champions League

“‘Where’s the final next year? Istanbul? Book the hotel,’ declared a bullish Jurgen Klopp after last season’s Champions League final defeat in Paris. Let’s hope those rooms are refundable. Klopp expected the good times to keep rolling, but over the course of this troubled season, Liverpool have been repeatedly exposed as a fading force. This limp last-16 exit at the hands of Real Madrid simply confirmed it. …”
The Athletic

Why Arsenal and Zinchenko make so much sense

When Arsenal signed Manchester City pair Gabriel Jesus and Oleksander Zinchenko Arsenal fans hoped they would take them to the next level. Jesus would provide goals from the central forward position, but it was unclear what difference Zinchenko would make. Jon Mackenzie explains that Zinchenko’s unique tactical profile has given Arsenal a level of control they wouldn’t have otherwise. Illustrated by Philippe Fenner.

Will the Champions League stay in Europe?

“In April last year, the Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi provided a window into the backroom discussions of European football. Al-Khelaifi is best known as the Qatari face of PSG but his footprint is all over the sport. He is on the executive committee of UEFA (the European football governing body and organiser of the Champions League) and he is the chair of the European Club Association (which represents the interests of clubs who compete in European club competitions). Not only that, but he is also running the Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports (which holds the largest portfolio of broadcast rights in the sporting world, screening major sporting events across the Middle East, France, New Zealand, Turkey and the United States). …”
The Athletic

La Liga analysed: A record-breaking weekend but Rodrygo’s wait goes on

“You’ll never guess what score the Barcelona game finished on… For the eighth time in all competitions in 2023 — and the 11th this season — Xavi’s side ground out a 1-0 win as their seemingly inevitable march to the Spanish league title continues. From late, late goals to finishing woes, The Athletic’s Thom Harris takes you through some of the standout stats from another weekend of La Liga action. …”
The Athletic

P.S.G.’s Star System Has Run Its Course

“Nobody at Paris St.-Germain seemed particularly upset at being knocked out of the Champions League. Christophe Galtier, the coach, made all the right noises, of course. It was a terrible disappointment, he said. A great shame, because this is a competition that really means a lot to the club. Very sad for all concerned. Kylian Mbappé, meanwhile, came across so phlegmatic that he seemed almost detached, as if the whole thing had happened only in the abstract. …”
NY Times

Union Berlin still dreaming after a night of snow and St Gilloise sucker-punches

“Eisern Union! Eisern Union!” — Iron Union.
“It’s one of the biggest nights in Union Berlin’s history and everyone’s here. On the train out of the city centre down to the Kopenick district, the carriages are full of the young and old, men and women, the loud, the quiet and the wild-eyed. Opposite me, an elderly woman wrapped in a red and white scarf stares out of the window and watches Berlin’s outskirts go by. Behind her, by the doors, three young men all in black, each with a dash of red somewhere, bang the glass and echo chants down the carriage. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Premier League relegation predictions – according to the data

“Things are getting serious at the bottom of the Premier League table. Just eight points separate Southampton (20th) and Crystal Palace (12th), with clubs so desperate to avoid the drop that six of the bottom ten sides have changed managers this season — and Southampton doing so twice. The financial incentive to stay in the division is huge, but with 15 games to go, who looks most likely to be playing Championship football next season? …”
The Athletic (Video)

Carlo Ancelotti: Football’s Greatest Unsung Coach?

“The stare. The brow. The outfit. Everything about Carlo Ancelotti is iconic to its core. He is a man that exemplifies class, and his accolades as both player and coach take him to a stratosphere that even the most revered in the game would struggle to contemplate. He is, in many ways, an enigma that manages to evade the adoration and relentless discussion that his talent deserves. Why is it, after so many years in the game and so many trophies won, that we fail to place Ancelotti in the category that so many managers with less success are put in with ease? …”
Football Paradise
W – Carlo Ancelotti

Why Italian football has no money

Clubs in Serie A are struggling to spend money. In January 2023 transfer window when the Premier League spent a combined total of 800m Euros, Serie A spent just 33m. But why? What is holding Italian clubs back from competing with their European counterparts? What are the main revenue streams, and why aren’t they fruitful? James Horncastle writes, Henry Cooke illustrates.

Can Barcelona’s Alarcon and Torre follow in the footsteps of Gavi and Pedri?

“October 7, 2021. It was the international break, but it was far from a quiet day at La Masia. Barcelona’s renowned academy was still abuzz with the events of the previous night: one of their graduates who still lived in the club’s facilities had become the youngest player to feature for Spain at the age of 17. Gavi had been handed his international debut by then-Spain manager Luis Enrique in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals against Italy, in which La Roja came out 2-1 winners. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic – La Liga analysed: Barcelona’s binary scores and peerless Griezmann
Guardian: Sevilla dragged back into La Liga’s Sarlacc pit after Atlético annihilation

Bury, Macclesfield, Derby and whether a regulator would have saved crisis clubs

“English football has problems it cannot hope to solve by itself. Or so concluded the UK government last week, with the publication of a white paper that promises to reshape the national sport. A new era of independent regulation and tighter financial controls is coming and, under new proposals, no professional club can expect to escape the heightened scrutiny. Too many have been left damaged and hurt by financial mismanagement, too many are or were run by unsuitable owners. Reform was as necessary as it was unavoidable. …”
The Athletic

Liverpool 7 Manchester United 0: Gakpo, Nunez and Salah run riot as Ten Hag’s men wilt

“Two goals each from Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah helped Liverpool power to a record win over Manchester United. Gakpo, the Netherlands forward signed from PSV Eindhoven in January, produced his best performance for Jurgen Klopp’s team, scoring two exquisite goals either side of Nunez’s 47th-minute header. Salah got in on the act with a fourth before Nunez got his second and the Egypt star completed his own double. Roberto Firmino, who confirmed this week he will be leaving at the end of the season, came off the bench to complete the rout. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Ten Hag has used ruthlessness and running but this Man Utd humbling needs a new response (Video)
Guardian: Ten Hag accuses Manchester United of being ‘unprofessional’ in Liverpool rout
BBC: Bruno Fernandes a ‘disgrace’ & Manchester United ‘eaten alive’ in Liverpool thrashing
Guardian: Salah and Liverpool make history with seven-goal rout of Manchester United

Explaining Borussia Dortmund’s best start to a year – and it’s Chelsea up next

Borussia Dortmund’s title charge is well and truly on. They held on to beat visitors RB Leipzig 2-1 on Friday and temporarily go three points clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga. Bayern reclaimed top spot by beating Stuttgart on Saturday but the data company FiveThirtyEight measured the win over Leipzig as increasing Dortmund’s title chances from 14 to 19 per cent. Bayern (76 per cent) might be clear favourites to secure an 11th straight German championship, but Edin Terzic’s side are pushing them. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Nelson’s winner for Arsenal was ludicrous – and may prove to be 2023’s Ulloa equivalent

“Mikel Arteta was at the Emirates Stadium for five years as a player, and has now been here for three more as a manager, and he hasn’t experienced anything like that. ‘That’s probably the loudest and the most emotional moment we’ve had here,’ he said after his Arsenal side turned a 2-0 deficit against Bournemouth with half an hour to play into a momentous 3-2 last-gasp win. …”
The Athletic

Liverpool, Napoli and the Problem With Systems

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool has lost its edge.
“There is no such thing as a 4-3-3. The same goes for all those pithy threads of numbers that are hard-wired into soccer’s vernacular, the communal, universal drop-down list of legitimate patterns in which a team might be arrayed: 3-5-2 and 4-2-3-1 and even the fabled, fading 4-4-2. They are familiar, reflexive. But none of them exist. Not really. …”
NY Times

Grimsby Town: How community spirit (and blow-up haddocks) created an FA Cup fairytale

“Paul Hurst has got his priorities right. After his Grimsby Town team stunned Southampton to book an FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton & Hove Albion, he was apologising to the town’s school teachers who may have had sparse classrooms on Wednesday — and bleary-eyed pupils today. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Barcelona and Real Madrid, hated rivals who need each other more than ever

“It’s a frosty December morning in Madrid. But inside its swish Hotel Ritz, there is the warm buzz of money and power. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Barcelona counterpart Joan Laporta enter together, just as the breakfast event at which they are the star guests is about to begin. … Over recent decades, Perez and Laporta had so often been on opposite sides as Madrid and Barca battled for domination of La Liga — and regularly for control of the Champions League trophy, too. But events have driven them together, and these two historic rivals have become intertwined in a new love story which has huge consequences for the future of Spanish and European football. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: Xavi’s side edge tight Copa Clasico (part one)
The Athletic – El Clasico: Can’t beat them? Join them. How Barca turned tables on Real Madrid
The Athletic: How Real Madrid’s versatile quartet shows Carlo Ancelotti at his experimental best (Video)
The Athletic – Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: A Copa del Rey Clasico defined by ugly moments

Inside the Bundesliga’s VAR centre and the possibility of virtual reality

“Video assistant referee — rarely have three words elicited such controversy in football. The spotlight has been placed firmly back on VAR in the Premier League in recent weeks, after Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) chief refereeing officer Howard Webb apologised to Arsenal and Brighton over “significant errors” made in fixtures last month, followed by Lee Mason leaving his role as a Premier League VAR official following the high-profile error. …”
The Athletic

Barcelona: The Airbnb-ification of a once-unique style

“Barcelona — the city, like the club — is a victim of its own success. About a decade ago, still reeling from the global recession and high unemployment, Catalonia’s capital threw open its doors and a whole world of tourists poured in. Even if you weren’t there, you probably saw enough of the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell on Instagram to feel like you were. The open doors weren’t just a figure of speech: thanks to the app economy, millions of visitors spilt out of Barcelona’s hotels and into its chamfered apartment blocks, renting rooms and whole homes through companies such as Airbnb. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: Barcelona slump again after European defeat. How bad will it be this year?
Guardian: Barcelona crumble ‘with no soul’ to anger Xavi and ‘give Real Madrid life’

Chelsea can add corners to the list of things going badly

“When there are nine minutes to play in a London derby, and you haven’t threatened all game, conceding the second goal practically ends it — especially when you have only scored four goals in 2023. Chelsea’s rotten run continues with another game without scoring and another loss. Tottenham’s 2-0 victory over Graham Potter’s side leaves Chelsea in 10th place, 14 points off the Champions League spots. …”
The Athletic

The Fastest Premier League Sacking Ever

Patience with managers has long been a hot topic in football, especially in the demanding world of the Premier League. But in 2006 Charlton Athletic’s patience was wearing very thin as they stared relegation to the Championship down the barrel. Managers came and went, none quicker than Les Reed. This is the story of the quickest Premier League sacking ever. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Craig Silcock.

How Arsenal control games

Goals win games, and defences win titles, as Sir Alex Ferguson once said. But when a team concedes, or scores is just as important as conceding in the first place. In the first half of the season, during Arsenal’s ascent to the top of the Premier League, there has been a distinct pattern to when their goals have been scored. Jon Mackenzie analyses the data and suggests why Arsenal are so good at managing their games. Written by Henry Cooke.

The five reasons Liverpool have a broken defence

“For all the talk about Liverpool’s impending midfield rebuild this summer, it is becoming increasingly clear they need to strengthen their backline, too. Defensive errors heavily contributed to Tuesday night’s chastening Champions League thrashing at the hands of Real Madrid. “I think we gave all five goals away and that means we could have done better,” admitted Jurgen Klopp. The sight of Liverpool capitulating wasn’t a one-off. Alarmingly, it was the eighth time in all competitions this season they have conceded three times or more. …”
The Athletic (Video)
NY Times: Real Madrid Leaves Liverpool Chasing Shadows of Itself
Guardian: Liverpool and Klopp face big task to limit fallout from Real Madrid fiasco

The Football Sustainability Index: How well run is your club?

“The coming days and weeks will bring the moment that sees English football forced to embrace change. The government’s white paper is expected imminently, crystallizing the key recommendations proposed by the exhaustive fan-led review of the national sport’s governance. Those in power have now concluded that football cannot carry on as it was. Too many clubs have been allowed to unravel. Some irretrievably so. Increased regulation, despite the Premier League’s lobbying, will finally be introduced in 2023. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Napoli attack space. So how did they adapt when Eintracht Frankfurt didn’t leave them any?

“… Glasner does not set Frankfurt up to dominate European games but Napoli had 70 per cent possession, outshot the hosts 18 to five and created three big chances — a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score — (including a penalty) without conceding any. This extends Napoli’s run to six straight wins, scoring at least twice in each and conceded just once. How did Napoli adapt their approach away to Frankfurt? …”
The Athletic

How goalkeepers react to high-profile mistakes – according to the goalkeepers’ union

Loris Karius is set to make his first appearance in nearly two years in the Carabao Cup final for Newcastle this weekend. It comes in the same week Thibaut Courtois and Alisson both made high profile and uncharacteristic mistakes during Real Madrid’s Champions League win over Liverpool. So how will Karius, whose career has been defined by the errors he made against Real in the Champions League final in 2018, be preparing for a game he didn’t expect to be playing in? …”
The Athletic