Your spot for what's kicking in the world of soccer.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Demands of an American Soccer fan! Jurgen take note...

After half a decade as U.S. Men's National Team Bob Bradley is out! After coaching his gang of Patriots to the round of 16 in last years World Cup and the Gold Cup final, he has been rewarded with a pat on the back and cold shower, by American soccer officials.  Opinions on Bradley's tenure seem to be about 50-50, split between him being an inept, one-dimensional coach, and the best option in bad system. I side with the latter. The player's at his disposal-in terms of U.S. teams of the past- are decent. With this said the  squad has notable holes where the talent is non existent, most striking is the lack of forwards in the U.S. set-up.  I often thought Bradley received to much criticism for working with what he had, and is used as the scapegoat for are faults as a soccer nation. Are these critics' expectations too high, or are they justified? We're not going to win the World Cup, so winning our group  in South Africa was a tremendous feat, even if our strongest opponents were a mediocre England Team.  

Bradley was  seen as a coach who always' played it safe. Stubborn in his plight to play 4-4-2, even when the game called for a more attacking formation, he often failed to change tactic's. Selecting players who where out of form, and seemingly hesitant to inject new faces into the set-up, It could be said that Bradley had the motto, " if it ain't broke don't fix it," motto tattooed on his chest. The system isn't broke, but needs an oil change every now and again. This stance could be down to the extreme pressure he was under.  Pressure is a given for all national team managers, and Bradley had his fair share as as the USMNT coach. This may not be blatantly apparent due to our countries' seemingly disinterested stance on soccer, but I would argue that he has more than most. The only time this nation comes together in the sense of soccer is during the World Cup, seen in video clips of bars across the nation exploding in fanfare when Donovan scored the stoppage time goal against Algeria. Even for the casual fan who supports the USMNT only during the World Cup, expectations are high, because we are American and we expect  success. Taking a gamble was not in his nature for many possible reasons, but as a fan I felt that a stale team was often selected, lacking youth, invention and ingenuity.  

With the 2014 World Cup some years away, US Soccer President Sunil Gulati, has chosen this opportune monument to make a change in management, implementing  Jurgen Klinsmann as  the USMNT head coach. The German, who lives in Los Angeles has a mixed record as a player and manger, coaching Germany to the Semi's in the 2006 World Cup, but failing to make any sort of impact at Bayern Munich. With Bradley out, the pleas were split once again 50-50, for the installment of a  European coach Vs. a  domestic one. Klinsmann is what you would call a hybrid.  Has European pedigree, blended with knowledge of American soccer and culture. Although I am slightly saddened to see Bradley go, I am not opposed to see what Klinsmann can do with the team. 

To help the lad out , I outlined a few guide-lines to insure maximum success:

1.) Give younger/ new players' more of a chance in the first team:   Eric Lichaj, Timothy Chandler, Brek Shea, Justin Braun. Often times Bradley was too set-on his player's "Jozy Altidore," when they weren't necessarily fit or on form. Take some gambles Jurgen, it's pays off sometimes. 

2.) Play Justin Braun.  Refer to piece I wrote  about him my blog;  Is a good talent who's of age, strong and could be an answer to the striker predicament. Altidore is no longer the answer, maybe he will be in the future, but he should not start until he gets so games at new club AZ Alkmaar.

3.) Michael Bradley has to play farther up the field.  Klinsmann needs to push Bradley's son higher up the pitch. Michael has been very much a holding midfielder, but has looked brilliant when he gallops forward. With the introduction of Jermaine Jones to the defensive midfield role, there is lessor a need for Michael to be the second man in the hole; which leads to my next point.

4.) Think beyond 4-4-2. Oddly enough in Bradley's last game against Mexico in the Gold Cup Final, he was able to change to a more attacking style. We needed to see this more during his tenure, and the fact that we didn't paints him as a one dimensional tactician. Klinsmann should learn from this and think of playing a 4-1-3-2.

5.) Freddy Adu gets the benefit of the doubt and plays. After one-time American Soccer golden boy has fallen by the way side, a resurgence of form has seen him enter the frame again. In Bradley's last 2 game's as coach- ironically enough, shuffled the pack a bit and brought on Freddy Adu, playing him as a #10. He looked good in flashes, still very capable of beating 1 or 2 players, though looking slightly out of touch. This promising re-entry should see this still youthful star get more call-ups.

6.) Jonathan Bornstein never walks onto a pitch wearing a U.S. jersey again. Simple as that.

7.) Work with Claudio Renya on the youth level. KilnsmannBayern Munich- but this should be welcomed by the US. Development is key, and what we need to develop is an U.S. soccer Identity, emphasize youth development, and bring new faces into the first team.

If Klinsmann follows these 7 golden rules (Demands) he should be fantastich. What Klinsmann brings to the USMNT is International recognition, but does that matter? Apparently to American soccer fans. They have been yearning for a big name coach to come in and take the helm as USMNT coach.  But does America need an American coach? I think Sunil Gulati was wondering this himself, that's why Klinsmann has been selected,  a coach who may not be the best, but works for our current state of affairs, and tick's both boxes. I'm not necessarily  happy with the selection, but I am excited for the change.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

MLS: The Football Star's Retirement Home.

With a increased influx of European  players migrating to the MLS, it makes me wonder... where is the attraction? Former Arsenal starlet Thierry Henry, Freddy Ljungberg, Frank Rost , German bull- dog Torsten Frings and last but not least David Beckham. These elder statesmen can no longer compete at the highest level (Ryan Giggs Excluded), due to miles on the engine. When you reach this point of your career it seems second nature now to follow the trend of becoming a Designated Player (DP) in the MLS. Forgive me but let me compare this to a similar event occurring in Baseball. The position, appropriately named (DH) or Designated Hitter is becoming obsolete.  A team in the American League must have this position in the team, a position reserved for the meaty-ist of sluggers;  big burly fore-armed men, who cannot field. Their sole purpose in the team is to hit.  These player's can play for  a longer duration of time due to the lack for action they see, somewhat akin to the lengthly careers of goalkeepers'. Once procurers' of high salaries the DH's now face a predicament as they age, and their value as a member of the team decreases. They suffer financially, as they they seem to hop annually in search of games. A role once valued has been left with it's star patrons  receiving 1 year deals, for far less money, instead of long well payed contracts. Only If they had a league that  equates to the MLS in Baseball to flock to. The DP isn't becoming obsolete, clearly seen by the growing number of them, but their situation coalesces with the DH, in that DPs have to seek out new pastures in lower profile leagues to play.

The fore-mentiond talent of Thierry Henry and company,  saw it harder to be picked at their respective club's, so in response they fashioned moves to the MLS and in return practically where guaranteed  first team football.  These marquee name players seem to be highly cultivated by MLS managers, but what attracts the player to MLS? Do they do it because the think it will be a cake-walk? Is it the pay? Surly not because of the salary-cap. The location? What's the attraction for these aging stars? When David Beckham signed for the LA Galaxy in 2007, it was HUGE deal! American soccer fans thought it was going to be the second coming having an international star of Beckham's stature playing soccer in the U.S.  Reasons for this astronomic move was due to Beckham wanting to market his worldwide brand more so than him wanting to be integral part of Soccer's growth in this country. Now, I am not sure if this is down to him, but ever since his arrival I have noticed that the game's popularity has come on leaps-an-bounds in this country. Moving to the MLS is a sure-fire way of  stars who have faded slightly to regain the spotlight. The excitement of a player of Torsten Frings or Thierry Henry playing in the United States get's endless attention, and American soccer fans eat that shit right up. It's a doubled edged sword sort-of situation, but not in the negative way it usually connotes. The player's get their spotlight, and the game get's publicity. Such big news end's up gracing ESPN Sports Center type shows that the non-soccer fans watch, leading to my non-soccer supporting friends to say   " Hey, I heard that a big name soccer star is coming to the MLS."This exposure helps the game for the simple fact that the American public becomes aware, hopefully sparking interest.

I see the interest, feeling it myself when I catch wind of a  player I admire showing interest in wanting to come play in my country. We as fans of the game want to view the top names, even if their older and slower. The influx of such players can only help the game, and the media coverage may be a tad excessive, but that's needed for a game that still needs to be sold to the American public. Look at what the NY Cosmos has done. A team that won't even be relevant till after 2012 has ripped a page out of the fire-strom marketing handbook with advertising of their uniforms. The Cosmos are a perfect example to use as reference to how soccer clubs in America have always been a destination for aging stars, such as Pele.  Back in its NASL days it attracted  top world talents who were getting on a bit,and this still holds true today. 

I believe that having DP's in the MLS is necessary. This, with a mixture of youth development is a large stride in the right direction. Our goal, in the long run is to make the MLS a top league, produce talent who are starting for teams such as Manchester United, Barcelona, and Inter Milan, and to get more people in this country interested in the world's game. The DP's help in terms of notoriety, and the fact that they basically come to MLS because it's an easier league doesn't bother me. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Excerpt from Interview with Nigel Reo-Coker.

The Bolton bound man spits some truth and some P-O-litics

(4-4-2 Interviewer)Who would be your Fantasy Uncle, Nige? 

(Nigel) I’m going to say Tupac Shakur. He was a great artist and a really educated guy – and he came up from absolutely nothing. You could have a good chat to him – he uplifted a generation. Although I also think Bill Clinton would make a great uncle. He was a funny guy. He plays sax, he smokes dope in the Whitehouse, he had an affair, that guy did some real gangster (spelling) s-h-i-t. But he was a realist, a real president. I’m not a fan of Bush.


Transfer Talk 7/26/11

Fiorentina look set to swoop for want-away Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani, as he is now seen as excess, with their growing depth in midfield . Once Rafa Benitez's 20 million pound signing, Aquilani's stock has dropped significantly, due to injury and lack of performance at Liverpool. Though, after a successful loan spell at Juventus, he has his desires set on playing in his home country of Italy. Juventus had the option of buying him when his loan expired for the price of 8 million Euro's, but they declined. A decision in which then coach Luigi Del Neri ended up rooing. If Aqulani is not bought by the viola, he looks set to join the team on loan, a move which will be vastly welcomed by both sides involved.

Wigan play-maker Charles N'zogbia looks set to finalise his move to Aston Villa this week, seeing the Birmingham side beat suitors, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland to land Wigan's most instrumental player last season. The fee is rumored to be around 9.5 million pounds, a decent sum for a player that will bolster the ranks at Villa, and replace recent departure's Ashley Young, and Stewart Downing.

Spain's newest super club Malaga continue to sign quality players with their quest in securing Villarreal's midfielder-winger hybrid Santi Carzola. The Spanish International, who also is being tracked by Arsenal, has been valued by Villarreal at a fee of 30 million Euros, but  he looks like he will be bought for 20 million + bonuses. Carzola could be fantastic at Arsenal,  working well in their system, with his skill, his pace and adaptability. He will be the newest addition at the Spanish Man City (Malaga), joining a team, based off recent signings, emphasizing width and experience.

Lastly, Sergio"Kun" Aguero's transfer prayers might be answered, not by a magic genie, but by the big spending Man City. Besides City, El Kun is being chased by Spanish giants Real Madrid, but Mourinho seems to have given some slack to that pursuit, with his pleading cries for Santos' Neymar.  The Manchester spenders  have accepted  a 60 million pound price tag, for the Argentinian who scored 20 goals in 32 appearances last season for Athletico. The speedy forward would be a serious loss for the Madrid outfit, and on top of that, co-striker Diego Forlan has reiterated that he would like to leave as well. The forlorn Forlan and the want-to-go Aguero both might be heading to the Premier League, with Tottenham in for Forlan. It has been reported that Aguero will travel to London on Wednesday to meet with Man City's representatives.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Is Javier Pastore worth 50 million Euros?

With Chelsea's continual  frustration in securing Luka Modric from Tottenham, they have turned their efforts to Argentinean midfielder and Palermo maestro, Javier Pastore. A plight that looks not to be in vein, as Pastore looks to move to a bigger club, with west London looking the destination. With the recent injury to Michael Essien, rendering him out of commission till mid-season, the Blues are looking to add some steel to their midfield. In Pastore's case it's silk. Chelsea's new boss AVB (AndreVillas- Boas) insisting he wants to work with the players already at his disposal, though some new blood in their aging midfield might help in their challenge for the title. 50 Million Euros is a heavy sum for a player that is only 22, and a player that just in the Copa America struggled to get into Argentina's first team. To answer this question you just have to look at Liverpool's signing of Andy Carroll.

Carroll was bought primarily on potential, and was over-payed for immensely, for being a British home-grown player. Carroll went for 35 million pounds making him one of the most expensive English player's of all time. Given that he is somewhat unproven, and the price payed, Chelsea's bid for Pastore seems quite a sensible one. If Chelsea secure  his John Hancock, they will be receiving a young, yet vastly more proven player than Carroll. On the other hand I often feel that Pastore is better suited to the Italian game, with a slower build up and being generally less bullish that the EPL. This also applies to the Spanish game, as Real Madrid had been linked with the player this summer, but then again who hasn't? According to Palermo's vice president Guglielmo Micciche, their are only three teams that are contending for his signature, Chelsea being the front-runners.

With Chelsea's renewed midfield pursuit, they terminate the charade they have been put through trying to sign Luka Modric. Pastore is the better option of the two, who are similar in many ways, not in stature, but play. Both silky midfielders who can really ping a pass, who like to come deep and gather the ball from the back and distribute. Both make darting runs into the box, playing others in or scoring themselves. Modric's goal return last year was not close to Pastore's, yet he makes Tottenham's engine run. Harry Redknapp has stayed firm on not selling Modric, but maybe that's to Chelsea's benefit?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Balotelli Hotdog's, gets benched.

Mario Balotelli's attempt at a audacious back-heel represents what's wrong with these friendlies.

In The World Football Challenge match of Manchester City vs. LA Galaxy, misunderstood Italian International Mario Balotelli attempts a circus-like kick, in which he fails miserably, ending in him being subbed and scolded for his actions. Akin to the reaction's of his team mates I am astounded at his decision making??? Ever since he has emerged as an Internationally known player, Balotelli has evoked many emotions among fans, players and managers, most of all shock. Their is NO denying, he has incredible natural talent especially for his age, but the same couldn't be said about his behavior. No one seems to understand him. Is it a troubled life, I couldn't say? But what he has exposed today is that these friendlies aren't helping anyone. 

European teams flock to the US summer training, the pay-out and for global brand expansion.  For the MLS: teams get to lock horns with the best in the world, hopefully gaining invaluable experience, not to mention selling large amounts of tickets in the process. Good deal? in theory...but what Balotelli has exposed, in combination with Man United's 7 goals against the Sounders, serves the question: Are these friendlies helping or hindering the game in this this country.

Attracting these world powerhouses puts American butts in seats, but when fans see their team get annihilated  7-0, what is that doing to progress the game. Results like this makes me wonder (if I was a new fan), why should I waste my time watching a mediocre league, supporting a mediocre team, in that mediocre league, when the talent elsewhere operates on a totally different level. The talent gap is made apparent, and today it turned disrespectful with Balotelli besmirching the competition, then shrugging his shoulders. Do the math.

Uruguay take Copa America final in Argentina beating Paraguay 3:0

A brace from Michael Bolton look-a-like Diego Forlan, and one from Luis Suarez seals the Copa America Final for the La Celeste. Uruguay have continued their international run of success from the World Cup, beating Paraguay 3-0, winning a recored 15th Copa America title. An outfit playing fantastic football and looking at the moment like giving any team they face a hiding.

Check out the highlights and the praise the commentator gives to Diego Forlan, and Diego Suarez???? hello...

Who Ever Said "Brain's Is Better Than Braun?"

I believe the USA have finally found an answer to their center forward woes! After the Altidore experiment has failed due to his lack of pace, touch and general prowess in front of goal, it is apparent there needs to be a new central striker to spearhead the attack, accompanying Juan Agudelo. A player who can hold the ball up, combined well with fellow attackers, and most importantly take his chances. Enter: Justin Braun, forward for Chivas USA and hottest American prospect in the MLS. This season he has supplied 7 goals for the Los Angeles outfit, including 2 hat trick's, including one tonight against Houston Dynamo. He played fantastic tonight, strong in his hold-up play,  continuously split Houston's  back-line with his runs, and finished his second with a  deft chip. 

As a US Men's National Team supporter I have been crying out for a forward who can first and formost score goals! Focusing on a forward who will be present for Brazil 2014, one that can grow into the system and develop.  Bob Bradley has tried everything from Robbie Findley, who has pace, but nothing else. To throwing Donovan and or Dempsey up top. Duce and Don don't make much of an impact, as their usual and most effective positions are on the wings or sitting behind the striker. Braun is that powerful center forward the US needs. He's 6 foot 3, and a powerful presence that Agudelo, (surly a player that will be in the mix come 2014) can play off of. Agudelo doesn't work best when he has to bear all the attacking responsibility on his young shoulders, so with the introduction of  Braun Agudelo's load will be lightened. Think of it as a Crouch,  Vander Vaart combination of big man-small man. Along with his talent, Braun is also young. He's 24 so come the World Cup he will be sitting pretty at 27. If he continues in his current vein of form, he should be a shoe-in, with our limited options. 

Braun was  invited to train in December of 2009 with the USMNT, instigating a call up for a match with Honduras, but didn't feature. He received a second call up, but was suffering from a achilles injury, not leaving him enough time to make his first international appearance. Braun could answer this question for the USMNT, and with the way he's playing at Chivas Bob Bradley would be hard pressed to find a more suiting candidate for his CF. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gervinho scores a brace as Arsenal beat Cologne 2:1

The newly signed Ivorian scored twice in the first 15 minutes before being withdrawn in the 29th. Not a bad debut.

Friday, July 22, 2011

2011-12 Bayern Munich Team Preview.

Bayern Munich's 3rd kit

After Bayern Munich finished 3rd last term behind Bayer Leverkusen and Dortmund,  the German powerhouse will look to re-establish themselves as the nummer ein team in Deutschland. In a quiet transfer window so far for the Munich giant's, I wonder if their current squad of players can take them to domestic and Champions League glory? The Bundesliga seems to be the league with the most parity, and in any given season, a new champion can emerge. After playing second fiddle, they want the spotlight and after last season, improving the squad seemed a must The first step in building a successful club starts from the back, and they have got themselves one fantastic keeper. 

Germany's no.1 Manuel Neuer signed amid speculation of a move to Manchester United, will don the gloves, making for an awfully tough obstacle to circumnavigate  between the sticks next season.

Bayern commandeered Schalke's Brazilian right back Rafinha, who will provide back-up to captain Phillip Lahm.

Jerome Boateng, the towering bother of Kevin-Prince has sealed his move from Manchester City giving Bayern fans some insurance in their back line, after Demichelis took them to the end of their sanity. Boateng will play in the center of defense, his preferred position vs. right back which he played for City. With his towering presence, Herculean strength and composed demeanor, Bayern fans can sleep a little bit easier at night.

Notable departures:

Miroslav Klose left to join Italian side Lazio, Hamit Altintop is heading for Real Madrid and goalkeeper Thomas Kraft to Hertha Berlin. 

There's a core of a really strong side in Munich, not to mention young. On a whole the first team squad is solid but beyond that it's mediocre at best.  Bayern's success  come's from their dynamic wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, in collaboration  know as "Robbery. The torment that Robben causes to European defenses by cutting onto his left, from the right  is Bayern's bread and butter. To keep this butter churning, Robben must be kept fit!!! The worlds best one-trick pony has been known to have bones of glass and Bayern can ill-afford a season with Robben not being fit. 

 Germany's former golden boy Bastian Schweinsteiger, will be accompanied by Germany's new golden boy Toni Kroos, who will haft to have big season this year. When on loan at  Leverkusen he was a mainstay in the starting line-up scoring 10 goals in his 43 appearances, who was voted player of the month for december in Kicker Sports Magazine. Kroos will maybe play a more advanced role than Schweinsteiger, and could torment some defenses if he is given a chance.

Mario Gomez was the Bundesliga's top scorer last season with 28, and if he is still on song come fall, Munich will have something to say and sprechen they will.

My prediction: Bundesliga: 1st
                        Champions League: Quarterfinal

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Transfer Talk 7/21/11

American Midfield Alejandro Bedoya  completes his move to Scottish side Rangers, pending a work permit, announced via twitter. Bedoya will join fellow American Maurice Edu at Ibrox come January of 2012, once the swedish season has ended. Ranger's are a team always in contention for a Scottish title, so if Bedoya establishes himself in the team, he will maybe get a taste of silver ware.

Reports today: Alexis Sanchez has signed for Barcelona pending official announcement. Once the most talked about transfer of the summer, it had hit the back-burner the last couple of weeks, until  current club Udinese announced  that the Chilean international is on his way to the Camp Nou, for a reported 26 million euro's, cash + 11 million in bonuses. 

Carlos Tevez's transfer to Corinthians has fallen through, with the Brazilian club announcing they cannot sign the bullish forward, deeming it "impossible." This leaves Tevez stuck at City until another offer comes in. At this point in proceedings the Argentine has to go. If he stay's at Manchester, when he clearly doesn't want to be there the potential for boiling points with club and manager increases 10 -fold.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Uruguay Reach Final After Defeating Peru 2-0 In Copa America

A brace from Luis Suarez saw Uruguay defeat Peru advancing them to the Copa America Final. After heavy-hitters Brazil, Chile and hosts Argentina get eliminated, the tournament surely seems Uruguay's to lose. They will face the winners of the Venezuela vs. Paraguay semi, that will play today. I am happy to see Uruguay continue their International success from the World Cup last year. One of my greatest sporting predictions was that Uruguay would do well in the South Africa. I had them getting third place, but the Germans claimed that. They were my dark-horse and I continue to want to see them do well in world football, so I will be urging them to claim ultimate glory on rival's soil.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Villains Need To Find Some Steals.

Aston Villa's new manager Alex Mcleish completes his first signing of the summer after securing Manchester City keeper Shay Given. A fantastic keeper who lost his spot to rising star Joe Hart after an injury kept him out of the squad for an extended period of time. The Irish International No.1, before his injury looked one of the best in the Premier League, but a along spell on the bench has made it apparent that he would move at some point. Given is the  first player to join Villa this sumer as they have been more of a selling club, than a buying one. The losses of Ashley Young to Manchester United and Stewart Downing  to Liverpool, create some difficulties for Mcleish, forcing him to secure some attacking players able to fill the void. Villa have been linked with former player James Milner, who left the club in 2010, joining Man City for 20 million pounds. A move back to Villa might inspire him in recapturing form, form that has been non-existent at City. He was tremendous at Villa, and he is a player Villa could use. He is handy in the middle, can play wide, and works all day. Wonder if it would be a welcomed return at Villa Park, if he where to make the move? Villa have also been linked with troubled Liverpool player Joe Cole. Since his move from Chelsea to Liverpool, Cole has struggled to make an impact with the chance he has been given. He was sent off in his debut game against Arsenal, and never seemed to come back to form. Cole, like Milner can be use in the center channel, or out wide, but in the case of Cole...I am not sure if he still has the confidence or the hunger to compete at a top level. Villa could probably get him for cheap, and if that's the case I would say, "go for him." Villa have a notoriously small squad which has hurt them in years past when it comes to the end of the season, so adding numbers is needed. In addition to numbers, they need players to fill the gaps left by the recent big-name departures. If  I where Mcleish I would spring for Man City winger Adam Johnson. Last year Johnson, even though playing well, didn't really get much playing time at City. Manager Mancini couldn't seem to fit him into the team, often bringing him on as an impact sub. If he stays at City, I could see a Ryan Babel situation happening. Villa should use the money from Young and Downing to go out and get Johnson from city and make him a top priority. He's a dynamo on the wing, who is direct, taking players on cutting in or swinging-in crosses. Villa still have the spin of a good team with Given in goal, Jean Makoun in Midfield, and Darren Bent up top. The most disappointing event this summer for me is the fact that Michael Bradley will not be given a chance next year for the villains. Mcleish has rendered his services as un-needed, and now his future is un-clear. They could have used the USA international's composure and steel in the middle of park, as captain Stylian Petrov is getting on in years. The casting out of Bradley will be a regret by Mcleish when all is said and done,  and you can bet your bottom dollar on that.  A little quality is needed to ensure they will be fighting for a Europa League spot next season, and spending his money right this summer is key.

2011-12 Arsenal Home Jersey+Launch Video

I like how Alex Song says " I think Arsenal are the best club in the world."hmmmm...maybe you'll get a bonus out of that one. Maybe using elements from crest's of the past will help them re-kindle that winning mentality they had once??? Looks nice tho.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Man City agrees to a 45 million pound offer from Corinthians for Carlos Tevez.

Carlos Tevez has been linked with move away from Eastland's for sometime now, but this offer marks the only to surface so far this summer. If he were to leave, it would be to some City supporter's chagrin, but on a whole it would probably be better for the club, and player. There is no doubting Tevez's talent, scoring 43 goals in 63 appearances for City, scoring 20 last year crowning him joint top scorer. He's a bulldog on the field continuously working hard for the team, always giving 110%. On the flip-side he has a bit of a attitude and is renowned as a mercenary, willing to play for any club, kiss any badge, if the price is right. Personally I don't think he will move to Corinthians, and If he did  I would be disappointed. Call me selfish, but I would like to see Tevez mucking it up in one of the top European leagues, not in the Brazilian league which is rather hard to view. My wish may come true as  I have heard reports Tevez has also been linked with a move down to the  south of Spain, with Malaga reportedly  offering 50 million euro's for the Argentine. Moving to a club like Malaga would be a perfect fit for Tevez, It's a club starting a new dynasty with a bundle of new signings, someplace where Tevez could make his mark on a club that's in transition, and possibly take them to a Europa League spot next year. A move to Spain could possibly make Tevez feel more comfortable, in a nation that speaks his native Spanish, an issue during his time in England. Tevez has also been linked with a move to Italy, as Juventus  being possible suitors. It is pretty clear that he will leave Manchester this summer but to unsure? All I can say is that his impact at City will be missed next year but with the talent like Edin Dzeko, and David Silva, I am sure they can cope.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why An Italian Team Won't Win The Champions League In A Decade.

Inter Milan's Champion's League Win 2010.

          It hasn't been that long since a team from the Italian Serie A won the Champion's League. Inter Milan won it in 2010 after defeating the mighty Barcelona in the semi's and  Bayern Munich in the final.  Inter had a fantastic team that year, and an even more fantastic coach Jose Mourinho. This was a great year for Italian soccer in that aspect, but I don't see this happening again for a while.  This isn't due to the fact that there's not a stand- out team in Italy capable of dominating other teams in Europe, but in truth their isn't. This decline is due more to the internal workings of their domestic game. For one: the domestic game is rank with corruption and scandal. John Tague from the Independent explained it best by saying," This is a nation where the largest selling daily newspaper is dedicated almost entirely to football; where its former ruling party is named after a football chant; and where its former Prime Minister owns one of the league's most famous clubs." In my life time my knowledge of this corruption dates back  to the forced-relegation of Juventus in 2006, but I have read that it dates back to the 1920's. This scandal involving Juve was know as Calciopoli. This word is a spin off on the saying "Tangentopoli" or "Bribesville," often used to describe Italy's corrupt government. The "Calcio " in Calciopoli means football in Italian, pertaining it to recorded telephone conversations linking managers from Juventus and other Italian clubs to referee organizations, suggesting the clubs where  rigging matches. The  punishments in result of this varied between the teams implicated, but Juventus, the league winners, ended up the worst with the stripping of their title. 
You may wonder why this would impact a one-off game when any team, Italian or not could win on the day. True, off the field matters may not effect players in a game but, can have serious effects on how a club is run and is set up. This could be do to a lack of tactical nonce, philosophy of play or cases when official's of a club,  who know nothing of playing football, only running a club force managers into making decisions that see them profit in someway. Anyone of these reasons can explain why Italian teams have been performing poorly in the Europe. Don't get me wrong there're strong Italian teams, capable of beating any world powerhouse, but the chances of this happening are slimming. This is because Italy lost their  fourth Champions League spot, due to German teams performing better in the latter stages of the Champion's League competition.  This goes into effect for the 2012-13 season insuring only the top 3 teams in Italy will qualify for the competition.

Beyond the scandal and shrinking European prowess what's killing Italian football the most is the stadiums. They're simply not good enough. They are outdated, in need of renovation since the last time they hosted a major tournament, the World Cup in 1990. Many have running tracks around the pitch, putting fans farther away from the action than stadiums without. Attendance's are among the worst in Europe, clearly seen on t.v. with numerous empty seats, creating a flat atmosphere. Imagine introducing someone to Serie A, who is new to the game, sitting them down and having them see a vacated stadium. They want to see passion and atmosphere, that's what gets fans into the game and increases growth and interest, but if fans in Italy don't show up to games why should you make the effort? Building of new/ renovating and expanding old ones would increase attendances and atmosphere.
Italy flounders at the World Cup South Africa 2010.
In such a corrupt country,where everyone is just looking for the payoff, it makes me wonder how they can focus on growing the game internally. The answer can be seen at youth levels and the National team. It hasn't been so long since Italy won a World Cup which was in 2006, same year as the Calciopoli scandal. This was a high for Italian soccer but since then the team has struggled to bring up young talent, relying too heavily on the old guard of Pirlo, Del Piero, Cannavaro and Iaquinta. All fantastic players, but their time has come and past.  These players have been in the International set-up for years and have done well, but new talent is needed. This was most apparent last summer at the World Cup in South Africa where they absolutely capitulated not even progressing form their group. Recently coach Cesare Prandelli  has brought new faces into the mix like  Domenico Criscito, Claudio Marchisio, Giampaolo Pazzini and American born forward Giuseppe Rossi. Players who will be  integral in the success of the  Italian National Team for years to come, but I still ask for more. The fact is the youth in Italy don't get a shot at the senior squad. According to report on, their are only 18 players playing in Serie A that are getting regular first team action, after going through all the youth levels with that team. That's astounding! The best example of how the system seems to function in Italy can be seen in the case of Sebastian Giovinco. Giovinco known as the "Atomic Ant, for his short stature (5'4) and his sublime dribbling skills,is considered by myself and other pundits to be the future of Italian football. As an attacking midfielder he has been billed as a replacement for Andrea Pirlo, occupying the same play-making role, pinging passes and controlling the tempo. Not given a shot a Juve he was loaned out to Empoli and then Parma, who he signed for permanently just last year. It is not abnormal for a young player, Giovinco now 24, to be loaned out to another club to gain first team experience, but when  Alberto Aquilani was called back to Liverpool it left Juve with one less attacking midfielder. In response they go out and sign another player, instead of having kept a promising, youthful player that they could slot right into the first team. The player they signed is oddly enough Andrea Pirlo. The youth doesn't get a chance to play the game at the highest level, therefore their development suffers.
If you combined all these reasons you have why I don't think we will have a Italian Club Champion for 10 or so years.1.) Game embroiled in scandal  2.) Have one less Champions League spot, so one less team competing in the competition. 3.) Being seemingly opposed  to giving youth a chance, poor transfer policies, outdated style of play and set up, suffering national team 4.)Partly-filled stadiums possibly due to an uninterested public, making for poor, growth debilitating spectacles. 5.) Mediocre teams preforming poorly in Europe. Growing the footballing philosophy takes a while, and Italy's is crying out for renovations. What the future will hold,,, I don't know, but I will bet you on my nana's life that an italian team will not be lifting the trophy with the big ears any time soon.

LA Galaxy 1:4 Real Madrid, World Football Challenge

                   Some highlights from Real Madrid's intergalactic performance over LA.
On Cristiano's goal, keeper should not be beaten at that angle. Making him look better than he is.
Nifty footwork tho.

Friday, July 15, 2011

This Man U fan can't use the colorblind excuse.

This is what happens when you wear a Man U jersey to a Liverpool game in Malaysia. 
 You get called a BOOGA! Let this be a lesson to all you fans who wear jerseys of a teams not playing, to a game. For example a fan who wears a Porto jersey to a San Jose Earthquakes game against the NY Redbulls. Risky Business... and I am not talking about the Tom Cruise movie.

Luka Modric's Transfer Request.

Luka Modric want's out of Tottenham, with Chelsea seeming to be his desired destination. Uncle Arry aint havin nun o dat! But nonetheless the little Croatian submitted this piece of literature in the hopes he would get his way. Makes a strong case...doesn't it!?    

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What you looking at... Whitbread?

Only if Norwich City was Sandwich City because they would have a defender with a fitting name supporting the meat of their team. This man is American defender Zak Whitbread, playing for newly promoted EPL side Norwich City. I must claim I am ignorant in my knowledge of him and his skill set, but the fact he plays abroad rings a bell and makes me he National Team potential? He is a former Liverpool youth and US under 20 defender who has been trudging around the lower leagues of England for a while playing at Millwall and Norwich. On 16 March 2011, he was called to the USMNT camp prior to there friendly with Argentina but he was sustaining a niggeling an injury, preventing him from making the squad. So keep your eye on him for next year, which won't be to hard considering he will be gracing the Premier League. Everyone likes a little Whitbread...especially with some tunafish.

Here's a promotional video of Norwich City showcasing their new kit, and their Italian stile(style).