Remember this ad that Manchester City put up when Tevez had just crossed over ..?
Here's a reply from Manchester United after the latest Tevez Mancini rumble...
The Guardian really wants RVP to go to Man City. It's not enough for City to deal with the Carlos Tevez affair, they want Arsenal to suffer for his sins. According to Daniel Taylor. Let me say this RVP's contract is not up for the next two years but it will become the newest saga that will consume all the space in its self perpetuation.
I think Arsene Wenger will take a machete to Roberto Mancini's head before that happens. So let me get this straight RVP gets to Etihad and then Edin Dzeko refuses to exit the pitch when Mancini wants to sub him. You see where this is going.
Arsene Wenger's summer signing of Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain did not go down very well with a number of fans. Here we were in the midst of a midfield crisis that could see all the quality sucked out in one fell swoop and Wenger was blowing £12m extremely valuable ones on an untested talent. Where was the priority? I admit to a uneasy feeling of skepticism sitting deep in my bowels in dire need of a good colonic cleansing.
Well, two months later that feeling has eased after seeing what Alex O.C can do on the pitch. Arsenal need someone who has a muscular presence and a composed finish. He showed both against Bolton and Olympiakos. One has to admire the way he swept the ball between the legs of a veteran defender like Olof Mellberg for the first goal. Great first touch and an even better first scoring instinct.
O.C's first CL goal at 18 years and 44 days broke a record for Arsenal. This achievement is all the more impressive given he's been pressed into first team action without an apprenticeship period. This is an emergency situation with the team all bloodied and battered and missing a number of crucial parts. That learning curve has to be an extremely steep. So far, O.C., has shown to be a quick study.
He will be in the spotlight after these matches. Here is where mental fortitude becomes absolutely essential in keeping from succumbing to that pressure. Even an accomplished veteran like Cesc Fabregas showed the wear and tear of an unwelcome burden placed on him. Some of O.C.'s peers in the squad have flirted with promise, yet not entirely living up to potential. There is opportunity waiting to be grabbed.
Soka Afrika is probably the first documentary that really tackles the problem of trafficking of young footballers from Africa to the European leagues through the story of two aspiring footballers who set out to find their fame and fortune and end up taking very different journeys. It won the best film at the Kicking and Screening film festival in NYC and London this year.
As this Soccernet article points out that one of the big motivations for Simon Laub, the producer of Soka Afrika was to draw attention to the yeoman work done by organizations like Foot Solidaire set up so to protect these youngsters from unscrupulous agents. Many poor families end up going bankrupt paying fees and airfares for their son on the promise of lucrative contracts from clubs which never materialize. One of the big projects is to develop some sort of database on legitimate agents who can be trusted to do what is right for those seeking to move overseas.
The organization also rehabilitates those end up stranded in Europe. Many of them become demoralized and lose interest in pursuing a football career. The stigma of being labeled a failure also prevents them from returning home. Playing football at a local club boosts self esteem. The family is counseled to accept the player back after months or years spend in an alienating place.
All this requires funding and so far Foot Solidaire has had to scrape by through donations. The founder, Jean-Claude Mbvoumin, a former Cameroonian international, is hopeful that increased exposure to their work will spark an interest from FIFA or UNICEF who should rightly be concerned by this form of human trafficking.
Juan Mata's homecoming did not go as planned. He received a yellow card for his efforts right at the end for some argy bargy with the referee. Chelsea were better for most part of the match and really cranked it up in the second half but the heroics of goalkeeper Diego Alves kept them out. It took old man Frank Lampard showing he still had the touch when he swept in a cross from Florent Maloda darting down the right flank to break the resistance.
All was undone in the 86th minute when Lampard's substitute Salomon Kalou handled the ball following a corner. Roberto Soldado dispatched the spot kick with ease.
Seattle mounted a stirring fightback through Osvaldo Alonso who scored a dramatic equalizer in the 89th minute to battle Comunicaciones to a 2-2 draw in Guatemala City. An uncharacteristic mistake by Kasey Keller following a corner allowed Rafael Morales to latch onto a loose ball and give the lead to the Guatemalan side. Alonso had earlier neutralized an early Comunicaciones lead by blasting an open field goal which took a fortuitous deflection off a defender and past goalkeeper Paredes.
Alonso before this had only scored three goals so this was a huge occasion for him and his team.
With this result the Sounders enter the quarterfinals of the Champions League with a match left in hand against defending champions Monterey to be played on October 18th.
Carlos Tevez faces the maximum allowable punishment under league rules plus docked two weeks of pay which amounts to £500,000. Pocket change for the league's most well paid player. Stiffer penalties are being contemplated including banning Tevez from any further participation in the sport.
The more savoury outcome for Tevez will be a January transfer at a bargain basement price to a club who look on themselves as halfway houses for disturbed players. He might be welcomed at Newcastle.
The pendulum is now swinging the other way. This may end the years of untrammeled player rights. Bad economic times coupled with bad behaviour might result in a zero tolerance policy.
Alex -Oxlade Chamberlain gave the Gunners the perfect start scoring his CL debut goal with a composed finish. The 18 year old brings a speedy presence and a cannonball shot to make an impressive presence up front.
Minutes later, Andre Santos racing down the left flank centers the ball to Marouane Chamakh who was denied by a sliding defender. The ball rolls free to Santos who cuts around the defender and slots the ball into the near post. Two up and Arsenal have this in the bag.
This being Arsenal they do not have it in the bag. Because there is a reason why this side has given up 14 goals in the Premiership. Once again, the defense goes to sleep as Olympiakos take a short corner and the ball is recycled to Ariel Ibizaga who launches a cross and David Fuster rises above unmolested to close the gap. It is now not a sickness as much as a pandemic that afflicts everyone and anyone that comes to Arsenal. Even previously reliable defenders like Per Mertesacker are showing signs of these inexplicable lapses of concentration.
The best piece of defending came from Mikel Arteta with a fabulous goal line save to deny Rafik Djebbour on a previous occasion. Arsenal faded after the Fuster goal and were pushed back by an energized Olympiakos. The second half started more brightly with Arsenal missing out a number of chances with about half involving Chamakh who continues to frustrate. The best chance fell for the Greek side who were unlucky to see Vassilis Torosidis angled left footer hit the crossbar in the closing minutes. By match end everyone included Wenger had been reduced to a nervous wreck. Watching Arsenal is not good for health and should come with a statutory warning.
In the other match, Marseilles dispatched Dortmund, 3-0 which was a result in favour of Arsenal. They now meet the Ligue side in two weeks.
With two goals scored in the 38th and 56th minute against FC Bate Borisov, the little maestro joins Hungarian born Czech legend Laszlo Kubala, with 194 goals as second highest goalscorer in Barca's history.
Kubala took 256 appearances while Messi played 23 matches more on his way to joint second position. He now has Cesar Rodriguez's record of 235 goals firmly in his sights. Which could be overtaken (gulp!) this season. Oh! By the way, Bate got hammered 0-5 with an own goal, the Messi brace, goals from Pedro and David Villa doing the damage.
Napoli continue their resurgence with a 2-0 win over Villareal in their Group A Champions League encounter. Their victory shows how difficult it could be for City to qualify from that group. Marek Hamsik opens the account and Edinson Cavani finishes with a penalty.
The dust has barely settled but Carlos Tevez is already getting offers. This one from Limavady United in the second division of the Northern Ireland league.
The raison d'etre for this one goes something like this, " We are sure you will appreciate our efforts to keep Tevez from getting fat prior to his sale. But please keep paying him his £250,000 per week wages so that he doesn't get too bored listening to Danny Boy."
A cheeky reference to being cup tied in the Champions League in the letter written by David Brewster, the vice chairman of Limavady United shows a delectable understanding of City's dilemma of just how difficult it would be to ship Tevez out to the handful of big clubs who could afford him.
The people's player is getting a bit of a earful back home. Pablo Ramon for Ole:
" At Man Utd, Carlos Tevez enjoyed an idolatry that fell apart when the two parted company. Now he is ending in the other half of the city by ruining his reputation."
" What Tevez seems to forget, to rebel is one thing, to confuse rights with obligations is yet another."
What does one say? You can take Tevez out of Fuerte Apache but you can never take Fuerte Apache out of him. He will fall out within a couple of years with every club. The act of mutiny he staged at the Allianz Arena is a variation of what transpired in Boca, Corinthians, West Ham, and Utd.
Real Madrid produced this classic counter attack against Ajax .13 seconds of free flowing passing culminating in a goal from C Ron.Brilliant stuff
szólj hozzá: Rm 1-0 Ajx
Tell me whose jaw did not drop seeing Roberto Mancini sub Edin Dzeko with Nigel De Jong with City two goals down? Which manager does that? There is enough attacking talent left on the City bench to launch a third world war and Mancini goes for a holding midfielder. From what unfolded De Jong was ineffective in enforcement because Bayern were able to boss the ball around till the very end.
His rationalization that he was going to introduce Carlos Tevez, three to four minutes later does not hold water. I am not a supporter of Tevez, in fact, he should have been shipped out months ago, with City ending its association with the odious Kia Joorabchian, his agent. But in these circumstances which £50m valued striker would not take offense?
Let me step into Tevez's shoes for a moment. He sees Dzeko being pulled by an manager unhappy at a poor performance by his frontline striker. It's a singular opportunity for him to step in and turn the game around and he anticipates his manager's beck and call. He has turned in some remarkable game changing performances in similar circumstances. Time for that old Tevez to emerge and once again capture the imagination of the fans and bask in a manager's gratitude. That like for like substitution never happens. Instead, he sees De Jong trot out.
In that instant there was enough out there to fill a few weeks of psychotherapy sessions. Was Mancini signaling that his attack was incapable of coming back and his introduction of De Jong was based on damage limitation? Was he punishing Tevez by relegating him to a placeholder for past infractions? Tevez must have also internalized Dzeko's unhappiness at being subbed for a defensive player.
The media and the fans are in an uproar for Tevez's refusal to bow to Mancini when he finally came knocking. The knee jerk reaction is that he will never play for City again. In this brouhaha no one thought to question Mancini's man management that set this snowball in motion. Yes, its Mancini's prerogative to sub whomever he likes but this does nothing to enhance the image of a manager whose default mode is to play it safe at the first sign of trouble.
There is one more thing as there always is. City's history is not a winning one, unlike Real, where high priced players do no favours playing for that side. It's not an assemblage of mercenaries. It's a bit telling when Mancini turns to James Milner, a player who is fast becoming an abstraction in City's cash on steroids infusion, as a salve to the litany of bad behaviours wounding the club. Milner will still find minutes because of his positive work ethic and devotion to the club. A consideration that will see the owners change their tune next season should Mancini fail to get the best out of his players.
For all you Hope Solo fans. Here she is in DWTS with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. She lost it a few times with her routine but on the pitch she rarely loses it and that's where it counts. Great to see her have some fun while she carries on with a full plate with the national team. Its a pretty grueling schedule. Landon Donovan sighting at 4:23.
To vote for Hope and Maks, you can call that number on the screen or follow them here.
What a comeback from both FC Basel and Man Utd! Full marks to the Swiss team for not getting overawed by Utd's overwhelming Champions League record at Old Trafford.
Danny Welbeck's consecutive finishes a minute apart from each off Ryan Giggs's visionary passing and it appeared a cool winning result would be in the bag. Basel so attractive going forward was stymied by a series of frustrating misses with both Alexander Frei and Marco Streller off target even as opportunities came on an assembly line. The first half ended with both sides even on goal attempts with Utd leading in the critical stat of goals scored.
Basel seemed to have found another gear in the second half as Utd began to look a bit ragged in defense from the constant forays of Streller and Alexander Frei fed by the overactive midfield of Granit Xhaka and Fabian Frei. On the right Markus Steinhofer was an indefatigable presence. Utd conceded the first goal after David De Gea managed to keep Streller out from a corner but the ball came invitingly to Fabian Frei who smashed a half volley onto the post and into goal.
Minutes later the Frei show continued through Alexander Frei, coolly nodding in a header of Steinhofer's delectably floated cross as the Utd defense were sliced open again. Old Trafford looked a bit like a giant morgue after the equalizer. More was to follow as Basel completed a stunning comeback when Streller was brought down by Antonio Valencia and Frei converted from the spot. 3-2 and the grim, drawn faces of the Utd faithful told the tale.
This is Utd and it is rarely that they throw in the towel. Basel predictably went into a defensive shell withdrawing Streller and both Freis. Wrong move. Sir Alex introduced Nani. Right move. Utd regained a lot of fervour but going down the middle proved frustrating as Basel held firm. It was once again down the wings that Utd found the answer as from the right Nani whipped in a beautiful ball which found Ashley Young on the dime and past Yann Sommer.
Great match. Thorsten Fink, Basel's coach must have had some flashbacks to the 1999 CL final when coming in for Bayern in the waning minutes he sliced his clearance straight to Ryan Giggs who found Teddy Sheringham for the winning goal. Utd scored twice in extra time to beat Bayern after it looked like the German club had sealed victory. Utd have hit a bit of a wrinkle with draws against Benfica, Stoke, and now Basel.
Theyab Awana one of the UAE's brightest stars died on Sunday, tragically killed in a car accident. He was just 21. Awana was returning from a training camp held at Al Ain ahead of the team's qualifier with South Korea on October 11 when his car struck a road repair lorry. Awana passed away in the hospital. His brother driving with him is in critical condition.
Awana became an internet sensation in July this year with his cheeky backheel penalty kick in a friendly against Lebanon which the UAE won 6-2. The YouTube video clip went viral gathering more than 2 million views. Mostly from fans who delight in novel ways to hoodwink a goalkeeper. It was not exactly the most graceful execution of a backheel but it had the effect of bemusing the Lebanese goalie into a stupor.
The national coach Srecko Katanec took a dimmer view substituting Awana immediately for disrespecting the opposition. Probably not so much on the grounds of the backheel as much as showing his backside.
The incident brought him instant fame but he was much more than that as a player. As a 18 year old he caught the eye in the 2009 U20 World Cup where the UAE entered the quarterfinals. Earlier, Awana's bright play was a factor in the national team winning the 2008 U18 Asian Football Championships. He would have been an important part of the senior squad at the 2012 London Olympics. There is enough to suggest he would have invited comparison to Nasir Khamees who represented the UAE in the 1990 World Cup.
Jorvan Vieira, the coach for Baniyas, the club that Awana played for had just returned from the funeral of Saeed al Nooby, a player for second league Al Dhafra also killed in a car accident when he was informed of Awana's accident. Before he got to the hospital Awana had passed away. The second death in as many days has the UAE calling for changing the culture of speeding on roads.
Over the weekend, 27 year old Carl-Erik Torp, a midfielder for SK Brann, suffered a dramatic collapse on the pitch and was immediately stretchered off by the medical staff. He was treated with a cardiac de-fibrillator unit in the locker room to get his heart beating again. Torp had come in as a 70th minute sub in the match against Sogndal, another Bergen side, in a domestic league game.
That timely intervention might have saved his life. He was then taken by air ambulance to Haukeland hospital in Bergen where according to the latest reports, he's recuperating well from heart failure which could have led to fatal cardiac arrhythmias. A genetic condition called hypertrophic cardio-myopathy, the so called "silent killer" which leads to a thickening of heart muscle and its eventual replacement by fibrous tissue has been implicated in the deaths of a number of young footballers. Amongst them Mark Vivien Foe, Miklos Feher, Dani Jarque, and Naoki Matsuda. In the USA, the ARVD Center at Johns Hopkins is the premier research institution investigating hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Will Torp ever get back on the pitch? In October 2008, Ruben de la Red, 23 years old, and a Real Madrid midfielder, collapsed on the pitch in similar fashion, against Real Union. A previously undiagnosed heart condition was discovered and de la Red missed all off the 2009-10 season with Real following up with a cardiac work up every two months.
He was never declared medically fit to resume playing and was forced to retire in November 2010 at the age of 25. Real never gave him his wages owed from the two years left in his contract and after a protracted struggle, de la Red had to settle for a monthly €1,500 disability benefit. Norway which has some of the best disability benefits in the world will ensure that Torp is well compensated if he cannot return to the pitch.
" I still have almost two years left, so for the moment that's fine. I'm happy with my contract. I can't look into the future. I can't see us talking now because we are so busy. "
What exactly in these words sets off the exit alarm? Arsenal's centurion maker has put himself in the spotlight but his statement is nothing more than standard negotiating procedure. And it's all true. A welcome Bolton win is the first time Arsenal have looked a semblance of their brand of football. The players need all their powers of concentration to try and finish fourth. It's not exactly time to distract themselves from a hard road ahead. Yes, there are plenty of clubs who would love to have Van Persie, including one that has benefited heavily from Arsenal's talent investment. These words could be construed as an invitation to come and get him. But it also leaves the door open for Arsenal to meet certain requirements, whether through an improved contract, or a title winning commitment.
The one thing we've learned so far is that the board will put Wenger under no pressure. He is pretty much free to define what success is, in fact, he's shown a willingness to move the goalposts quite expediently. Absent any real threat to job security, the only way to get his attention, is through the fans and players. Wenger has dispatched the former with a dismissive tone saving his discomfiture for the ongoing trope of a club forced to see its best players head for more salubrious climes. It's harder to employ that approach with players because they ahem ... have more weapons in their arsenal and the hindsight gifted by a number of departed colleagues.
Wenger defends his choice of RVP as captain but he has made this post at best a placeholder; at worst, highly political. The captaincy has been offered as a sop for five years running as a way of assuaging dissatisfaction and not as reward for real leadership qualities. Van Persie knows its a game. It's not much different from the ambiguity that Wenger has employed in the past with regard to transfers. Keep them guessing pays off big time.
Real Betis last won the Spanish Title back in 1934 - 35.They are currently on top of the La Liga looking down at Barcelona and Real Madrid. They beat Real Zaragoza in a 7 goal thriller which made it the first time ever that they won the opening four matches of a season.
They are also currently the only club in the 20-team top division with a perfect record.
Man Utd played their first game without Rooney. Chicharito was taken off early on.
Nani produced another bit of brilliance to give Man Utd the lead late in the first half. However seven mintues after half time Peter Crouch scored his first goal for Stoke and that's the way the scoreline stayed till the final whistle. United thought that they should have been given a penalty at the end for a Ryan Shawcross foul but the ref had other ideas.
Chelsea beat Swansea 4 - 1. The game saw the return of Drogba, a goal from Drogba, a goal from Torres, and a red card for Torres - but not in that order.
szólj hozzá: C4-1S
Jack Wilshere's ankle fracture is nowhere close to healing after months of wearing a CAM boot. Now, he will undergo ankle surgery this Monday which will put him out of commission for another 2-3 months.
The present squad have now lost almost 5 years in playing time devoted to recuperation from ankle injuries with RVP and Thomas Vermaelen accounting for two years of that time. A single anatomical part has significantly impacted Arsenal's fortunes over the years.
Stuart Holden got back into the mix this Tuesday playing for Bolton in a 2-0 win over Aston Villa in a Carling Cup fixture. It was his first competitive start in six months after a Jonny Evans tackle tore his knee ligaments.
Holden had to undergo reconstructive surgery and subsequent rehabilitation for his injured knee. He was quite impressive in his return and after the match Owen Coyle declared he was glad that Holden was back. The US midfielder also had a recent visitor in Juergen Klinsmann checking on him and assuring him he would be an important part of the US squad but at present would not rush him back.
Bolton play Arsenal tomorrow at the Emirates which could see Owen Coyle risking Holden off the bench. The Wanderers have been struggling and a win over an equally ragged Arsenal squad enduring a nightmare start will be just what the doctor ordered.
Through Arsenal's worst start since 1953, it has become de rigueur for opposing managers to heap Arsene Wenger with a constant stream of encomiums.
"For me, Arsene Wenger has been fantastic for the football club. When they were in a bit of trouble, he guided them through it." Kenny Dalglish, after Arsenal lost at the Emirates, 0-2 to Liverpool.
"I would like to know who is going to replace him? The work he has done in the 15 years he has been at the club is the best in Arsenal's history." Sir Alex Ferguson, basking in the after glow of the worst hiding in Arsenal's history, a 0-8 loss at Old Trafford
"What that man has done for the game and what he's done for Arsenal is sensational," said the Rovers boss. "The way he's kept his philosophy is fantastic." Steve Kean, a beleaguered manager himself, following Arsenal's implosion through two own goals in a 3-4 loss at Ewood Park.
This time, Owen Coyle decided to get into the act much before their weekend match at the Emirates.
"It is absolutely ridiculous," stated the Scot. "Arsène Wenger is one of the best managers in world football, and always will be."
All very true and then some. But a more mischievous mind would see this as a well oiled conspiracy to keep things the way they are without reality darkening the eternal sunshine of Wenger's spotless mind.
Looks like Don Diego made his best move since the 1986 World Cup leaving a footprint on a fan's hand. That man had it coming. The banner read, "Grandfather, I'm with you, love you, Benja" (referring to Benjamin, Maradona's grandson through daughter Giannina and Sergio Aguero).
Even better news, Maradona celebrated his first win as Al Wasl's coach.
The former USMNT coach signs a two year contract that will see him coach Egypt till the end of the 2014 World Cup.
Hassan Shehata who had coached The Pharaohs to three consecutive Africa Cup of Nations titles departed after the team was unable to qualify for next year's ACN. Egypt's 2010 World Cup dreams were also shattered after Algeria qualified at their expense in a series of bloody encounters that finally ended in a decider played in Khartoum.
Despite their stellar continental record, the Pharoahs have had a very underwhelming record at the World Cup having last qualified in 1990 with a very early exit in the group stage.
Bradley will be hoping to reverse that record bringing discipline and fitness to a team that has some great talent but have often in the past shot themselves in the foot with their inability to play 90 minutes.
In a country where football and politics are sometimes hard to tell apart, Bradley could also play the part of an unwitting goodwill ambassador. The stock of the USA is sure to fall quite precipitously with their predictable opposition (no thinking out of the box on that one and absolutely in line with AIPAC's memo) to Palestine's UN aspirations. The Egyptian interim government reversing years of deference to Israel under Hosni Mubarak explicitly endorsed Palestine statehood earlier this year.
This month the Israeli embassy in Cairo was attacked by demonstrators led by Al Ahly and Zamalek ultras in retaliation for the deaths of five Egyptian policeman shot close to Rafah near the Gaza strip by Israeli security forces. The ultras were also front and centre in the massive demonstrations at Tahrir Square that ultimately brought down the Mubarak regime. There are no two ways about it. Capture the hearts and minds of the hardcore football fans and you have your hand on the political pulse of the country.
Bradley, distinctly apolitical, might inadvertently be limiting major political damage, if he can lead Egypt to the World Cup and do well. It may all come down to a future USA vs Egypt match loaded with personal and political implications.
On the day the Arsenal board came out swinging at Arsene Wenger's critics virtually promising a lifetime guarantee of employment, Inter's president Massimo Moratti was showing the door to Gian Paolo Gasperini after just five matches.
Today, Inter named his successor and it is Claudio Rainieri who in a twist was Jose Mourinho's predecessor at Chelsea before getting fired. He now steps into a vacuum left behind by Mourinho which has claimed Leonardo and Gasperini.
Rainieri found time to praise Gasperini.
"Gasperini didn't make a mistake and we have to say well done because he tried everything to make his ideas work."
Moratti is hoping that Rainieri can work the same magic that lifted Roma two years ago from relegation zone all the way to finish runners up to Inter.
The prediction that La Liga was going to end up as a two horse race (with Barcelona and Real Madrid being the horses in question) has not worked out that way so far. Barcelona only managed a draw against Valencia. They came close to losing the match as well. Roberto Soldado could have scored the winner for Valencia but instead ended up doing a Torres in front of an empty goal. Fabregas scored his equaliser in the last 15 minutes of the game.This is Barca's 3rd draw in four games.
Real dropped further points as they followed up their shock defeat to Levante last weekend by being held 0-0 by modest Racing Santander.
So more horses seem to be joining the race.
szólj hozzá: Val 2-2 Bar
The Turkish Football Federation launches its "broadside" against male supporters
In Iran, women are banned from watching football matches. Jafar Panahi's "Offside" tells the story of several young women who dress up as boys and try and sneak into a 2006 World Cup match between Iran and Bahrain. It is a heartwarming and often comical tale of Iran's youth chafing at the heavy handed social mores skewed against women which are laid down by the orthodox clergy.
Yesterday, 41,000 women and children poured into Fenerbahce's stadium to watch their team take on Manisaspor after the Turkish Football Federation decided to ban males above 12 years of age from attending the match. The decision to do so was in response to a pitch invasion following a pre-season friendly against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Rather than the routine punishment of playing two matches in an empty stadium, the football association employing a rather out of the box solution decided to open up the match to women and children, thereby, ensuring the home team got to play in front of a cheering, and more importantly, well behaved audience. None of the players seem to mind and the TFF could not have asked for a better way to send a message. They have indicated that they would not hesitate to do so again for similar violations. Kudos to them. Women power indeed.
Is this just a novelty or can this approach be adopted elsewhere? There are substantial numbers of women supporters in many football leagues. One would think down in the Argentine Liga where there are numerous breeches of pitch etiquette and violence this could be considered.
Guess who said this in 2009?
"It is not often that a boy of five or six is always living with adults in a little village. I learned about tactics and selection from the people talking about football in the pub - who plays on the left wing and who should be in the team."
Guess who would have told them to eff off in 2011?
Arsene Wenger with this prickly response, "I've just completed 32 years of coaching - I don't want to answer this kind of question." This was his reply to the suggestion he consider bringing in Tony Adams or Martin Keown to bolster Arsenal's beleaguered defense.
Yes, the young Wenger who learned his football listening to what ordinary pub folk drinking bier had to say about a player or tactics is now above any advice. The friends of his father, those still alive, might right now be discussing how an Adams could improve the Arsenal defense but this Wenger decades later would have dismissed them as no nothings.
" I can understand that people are unhappy and criticize but you know as well as I know people are very quick to go overboard."
Actually, I have to say Arsenal fans have been remarkably patient with the majority still fiercely supporting Wenger but wishing he would pay more attention to improving the defense or spending a bit more freely on a quality player. Even the most impartial observer of the sport would agree an attitude adjustment is needed. But any such justified criticism is seen as an attack on the system or the manager. The flag is unfurled, "I have kept them 14 years in the Champions League."
Ivan Gazidis goes even further, bordering on paranoia, when he says, "You don't throw something like that away easily, or if you do, you're a fool." The mushroom cloud scenario if Wenger were to leave. On one end is sweetness and light, on the other the Stygian depths of Hell. This is as close to deification as one can get. It's a bit rich when you think of Arsenal as a club founded by munition workers in far more humble circumstances more than a century ago.
But here is Wenger again:
" When it goes well we must not completely believe what people say and when it does not go as well, we must not completely believe it."
It was Wenger who crowed about the "quadruple" after winning the first leg against Barca last season. Most fans were far more realistic dreading the ides of March. Now, that we are 4 points from five matches and fallen into a -8 goal differential hole, we're not to believe its a bad start. He's tricksy, that Wenger!
More in context, Arsenal have garnered just 16 points from its last 16 matches. If one were to extrapolate it to a full season then expect 33 more points and we're looking at relegation zone. To challenge for fourth place this season, Arsenal need 66 more points from 33 matches. For that to happen, they need to win at least 19 matches (last season's figure) or from the current 20% win rate to increase it to 55% of the remaining 33 matches. Each loss increases the pressure by 4%. We're are already on our third loss and need to limit it to about eight.
Someone tell Wenger that reality is still not knocking on his door. He is a great manager but he has feet of clay and Arsenal could get stuck in that mud if it continues to pour on that defense.
Soufian is a 10-year-old Moroccan boy, who has Laurin-Sandrow disease, a rare syndrome that has caused him to lose both of his legs.Messi met Soufian last January and then again last Friday, Messi promised that his first goal would be dedicated to him.
Soufian said that whilst Messi normally points to the sky after scoring a goal, he would also touch his legs if he scored against Osasuna
....which is exactly what Messi did after scoring his first goal.
It took just five matches but Massimo Moratti decided he had had seen enough. Its Rolodex time once again at the San Siro as Gian Piero Gasperini was given his marching orders after Inter lost 1-3 against newly promoted Novara.
Gasperini after the news of his sacking:
"In the end, the results are the ones that determine everything. I am very disappointed. It's a pity that our relationship had to be interrupted."
Who will his successor be? Carlo Ancelotti, Claudio Rainieri, and Guus Hiddink are probably on top of the shortlist.
Debut goals by Kieran Gibbs, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, and Yossi Benayoun guided the Gunners to a 3-1 win over Shrewsbury Town, a side who showed a fair bit of skill and fighting spirit.
Arsene Wenger went to his crop of promising youngsters and new signings to trot out Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson, Ignasi Miquel, Yossi Benayoun, Park Chu Young, and Francis Coquelin. He also dusted off Lukasz Fabianski.
Pat Rice and Boro Primorac did very little to justify Wenger's faith in them as once again Arsenal looked jittery and disorganized on the occasions when Shrewsbury went forward.
A series of missed tackles by Frimpong, Djourou, and Young allowed Nicky Wroe to run down the left and then return the ball to Mark Wright who broke free from a woefully out of position MIquel and a backpedaling Jenkinson. On both occasions Wright could have been headed off but both defenders showed little anticipation. Wright dragged his shot
just wide to hit the post. The ball ricocheted to James Collins and with Fabianski out of position one would have expected Gibbs and Miquel to take up positions on the goal line. But we were treated to a display of clueless defending.
Tragedy befell in a familiar way as Marvin Morgan floated the ball into the box and Collins untouched rose above to head the ball home. Djourou did not even bother to look back probably expecting Fabianski to come forward and deal with the ball. Miquel was out of position. Once again Arsenal's absolutely shoddy and inept defending of a set piece cost them.
Arsenal got back on track through Kieran Gibbs after a misdirected cross found him and his header trickled under Joe Smith. Then sticking to script, Chamakh gave the ball away, and with Arsenal running helter skelter once again, more damage was forthcoming. Fortunately, Collins was just off the mark with his deflection from Ainsworth's blistering shot across goal.
Chamberlain working his way into the match showed he has some awesome power when a swerving long range strike beat the Shrewsbury goalie to put Arsenal ahead. Benayoun, the pick of the evening, showed some clever footwork and deservedly got his first Arsenal goal after a lot of spadework done by substitute Oguzhan Ozyakup. New signing Young also showed some nifty speed and a nose for goal.
If I were Wenger I would be making sure Rice and Primorac sweat out every minute of their coaching careers till they make sure these 101's are drummed into every Arsenal player. Call out Djourou, Fabianski, and Chamakh by name. These players are part of the senior team and should not be making such basic mistakes. Chamakh seems to be getting good looks at goal but he still lacks conviction with his shots and headers.
Finally, the Arsenal board responds. And in a positive way. This should be a huge shot in the arm for Arsene Wenger. However, there are some words that Ivan Gazidis uses that seem such obvious deflections of the blame game.
" It's nonsense based on the need to always create a mini-crisis ..."
The mini-crisis is not the making of the media, blogs, or the fans. The first goalless start in two consecutive matches since 1943, Liverpool's first win since 2001 away to Arsenal, the worst shellacking in 115 years, and the League's most porous back line is not a nightmare invented by some outside agency. Only a fool would say everything is right as rain when we seem to be making the same basic mistakes. And it does put Wenger firmly in the spotlight because his responses seem to lack assurance or a grasp of the game.
It's not just a matter of a couple of games. Nor should this be about six years without a trophy. This team is playing without any degree of self confidence and unable to last 90 minutes. To question whether players have stopped responding to Wenger is therefore quite appropriate and indeed warranted.
The other part is Gazidis does mention is that keeping up with the likes of City and Chelsea in the amounts spent will prove counter-productive. Very few have asked Arsenal to match those levels of spending. Most fans want the side to open up the checkbook in areas where quality will make the difference. There is not one amongst us who question Arsenal is doing what it needs to do to inject a dose of reality in this sport. But that has little to do with what is happening on the pitch. A side like Arsenal has dwindling margins to play with and it needs to win matches that really should be won.
...and then calmly shifts it on to Sami Khedira's lack of "sufficient intelligence."
"My player knows about these situations and fell for the trap.That's why I make him partly responsible for the defeat and I don't have a problem doing so. It is also our fault, mine and my players.An important part of the meeting I had with my players today covered similar situations to those of Khedira's red card. I didn't think one of my players could fall for such a trap. You prepare for games as best as you can and this is the response you get."Players have to be sufficiently intelligent to know how to react and to avoid these situations. You also have to feel it in your gut if the ref will allow it.''
Then he also blamed the negative tactics of the opposition.
"I congratulate them for being clever. They know how to waste time and how to not give the ball back. They know this because it's also part of football. Our players don't feel comfortable in this sort of habitat and Levante know it.'
A classic case of the kettle calling the pot black.
Five matches into the season and a perfect record. An outpouring of 21 goals with just four conceded. And the latest, a win over arch rivals Chelsea by a 3-1 margin. Utd are already separating themselves by their intimidating performances.
His side's effervescent start is still not enough to make Sir Alex happy. After the Chelsea match he was critical of his players "making things hard for ourselves by giving the ball away so many times in attacking areas."He was particularly hard on Wayne Rooney for "a terrible pass, a really bad pass" to Dimitar Berbatov that took the Bulgarian further away from goal giving time to Ashley Cole to slide in and prevent Utd from increasing their tally.
This is a manager who was unafraid to publicly shame his best player singling out a specific instance when he could have done better. Contrast this with Arsene Wenger's mumbo jumbo about "players showing spirit" and "lack of focus". In parallel with Sir Alex, he could have pulled up Gervinho for a low percentage shot instead of passing to an open RVP for what could have been a sure goal. Another early strike would have changed the outcome of the Blackburn match.
Wenger's problem is that he treats every player like they have fragile egos that will surely shatter if he uses the public forum to chastise them. Players feel less pressured to improve and mistakes are repeated ad infinitum. One need not go back too far with Denilson, Mikel Silvestre, Lukasz Fabianski, Laurent Koscielny, Sebastian Squillaci, and Theo Walcott being treated with kid gloves after some very egregious blunders.
Sir Alex's use of "tough love" effectively channels his intensely competitive spirit into his players forcing them to respond to his challenges. Wayne Rooney whose passing skills are already a formidable part of his repertoire is being told he was not good enough. He was unimpressed by Utd's complacency in the attacking third that allowed Chelsea back into the game in spells during the second half. In both instances the bar is being raised even before the first self congratulatory high five. Who doesn't believe that Rooney finding himself in a similar position in the future will remember these words vividly and ensure better control?
By all accounts Wenger is equally fierce in his desire to win but somehow this gets lost in translation when it comes to his players. The Arsenal manager's protective instincts is costing them that edge. He was very prickly in his defense of Lukasz Fabianski, whereas, Sir Alex had no problems shipping out Ben Foster for his lesser trespasses. A carrot and stick policy if used effectively can get the best out of your players. Naming specific instances where players commit obvious mistakes is not character assassination. These are professionals who command excellent salaries and with that should come taking responsibility for their performances. It is time to start calling them out. "Koscielny made a costly mistake playing Yakubu onside". Words to that effect can spur better discipline at the back. You have to make a direct appeal to their ego, to their sense of pride, to improve themselves. The danger is that after taking so many bullets for them they will stop responding.
The miss of the ages. A clever through ball by Ramires, a streaking Fernando Torres latches onto it, cleverly sidesteps David De Gea, and with an open, inviting goal at his disposal, completely misses!
This will really be the epitaph of his career. Chelsea were looking quite threatening and Fernando Torres was playing probably his best game in a long, long time. Takes the spotlight completely off Wayne Rooney's embarrassing gaffe from the penalty spot.
That is the adage. On the ropes, manager a drink short of delirium tremens, disgruntled fans baying for the management's blood. No matter. Mother Nature has the cure. Play Arsenal and everything will be right as rain. For Steve McKean, the positive result against a Champions League level club is a lifesaver. Other managers face a more obvious quandary. How much further can one claim victory against Arsenal as a lustrous event as they become all too frequent?
The mind numbing tedium of Arsenal's defensive woes copy and pasted for the nth time pushed to the backdrop the uplifting spectacle of a Marouane Chamakh goal. In the real world this would have been enough for a round of toasts. But every little nugget of good news we hold onto seems to make stronger the currents of dysfunctionality threatening to submerge the season. Arsene Wenger after the match:
"It is terrible, it is just not good enough. Of course we are very frustrated, the spirit in the team is quite willing but if you look at the number of goals we have conceded that is not good enough."
" Overall we created many chances, even in the second half but we had a lack of focus on what we knew they were strong at - corners, free-kicks."
This is the analysis of a manager paid excellent money! On the defensive front, we've now gone through a lack of height, the inability to predict a ball's trajectory, settling on a lack of focus to account for our haplessness. We've now have height, zonal marking should allow us to follow the ball, and yet again we're back to square one. This is Blackburn. Set piece central. Not one year ago, Lukasz Fabianski was panicked into flailing and flopping at every corner after Chris Samba and Co. deliberately set about painting him into the goal line. We whined about foul play but it set off a copy cat rash of the same tactics. Why abandon a strategy that works like a charm?
Arsenal is being run increasingly like some Harvard Business Review accolade on financial stewardship. Away from that ivory tower and onto the pitch there is a huge disconnect. We've been impoverished by a reactive mindset that has been caught short from Fabregas to the actual tactics that dictate the game. There is no forward thinking anymore. It's something to chew on that a manager famous for using Moneyball like stats to squeeze every ounce of quality from his players is being forced repeatedly into concession speeches. There was no mystery to what Blackburn would do so why was there a lack of focus?
Without Thomas Vermaelen and Bakary Sagna there is very little organization at the back. Arsenal's has to play the margins with such a high line when a counterattack is launched. There is every danger of losing defensive shape when forced to cover such large swathes of exposed territory. Both Johan Djourou and Laurent Kosicielny have not shown the necessary anticipation or discipline. Per Mertesacker and Andre Dos Santos are still learning the ropes in a new system. Much of the second half damage was done by defensive speculation and lack of composure.
At this point playing a two holding midfielder set could be explored. A deeper line might help Arsenal afford more time to rebut counterattacks. Whatever it is giving up four goals to Blackburn and adding to a burgeoning negative goal differential is grievously wounding our chances of staying competitive. This is turning out to be Wenger's most difficult season but a large part of it is his own doing.
That's what what Fabregas is saying sounds like.
The report in the "Sports" magazine where he said that it was "hard to see" Arsenal winning the Barclays Premier League or Champions League "in the near future".
That's fabricated he says.
It was almost a dream debut for the Hand of God in his latest incarnation as coach of Al Wasl. His team came back from being from 3-1 down at halftime to 3-3 as Argentinian striker Mariano Donda netted a hat-trick. Maradona strode around the touchline like a colossus and roared like a bear when that equaliser went in. However Jeder Volnei spoiled things by scoring a late winner for the opposition.
There's bound to be more action from the Hand of God on the touchline in the weeks to come.
Pardon the ghastly pun.
The vain one is Cristiano Ronaldo.
Dinamo Zagreb supporters gave him a good booing on Wednesday night. Ronaldo's explanation for their attitude towards him was that they were jealous because he was "rich, handsome and a great player".
So according to that logic people who are poor,ugly and bad at football are the ones who don't get booed.
Mirror,mirror on the wall,
Who's the greatest of them all....
Ryan Giggs scored his 27th Champions League goal, at the age of 37 years and 289 days.That officially made him the oldest Golden Oldie to ever score a goal at this level of competition. It also made it a goal in each season for 16 successive seasons which is better than the earlier record held by Raul. His equalizer took United to level terms with Benefica who had taken the lead through a superb goal from Oscar Cardoza
szólj hozzá: Ben 1-1 Mu
Pato scored the 5th fastest goal in Champion's League history(23 seconds).Barca drew level through Pedro after Messi did one of his unstoppable runs.Villa put Barca ahead with a brilliant free kick but AC Milan found an equaliser in the dying seconds through a Thiago Silva header.
szólj hozzá: sfdnsfdsdfa
Gian Piero Gasperini had a very inauspicious start to his stint as coach of Inter Milan.They lost 4-3 to Palermo.
In Inter's first match since Samuel Eto'o transferred to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, it was the first time Inter allowed four goals in a league match in more than seven years, since falling 4-1 to Roma in March, 2004.
There are two ways of looking at this victory. The first and most practical one is that three points have been secured. However the perspective that this was not a victory as much as it was a gift is equally valid. That being said, Arsenal is a club in desperate need of cashing in those gift cards.
The fact that our peers were mauling the opposition does not help and if both Manchester clubs keep up this pace then cue the Sevilla style grumblings about a "joke" of a league. What we have in our club is a shortage of confidence. Very few wins in the last 15 matches (just the third) and now a goalscoring crisis has created a fragile eggshell mind. We are also looking at an Arsenal that has enormous difficulties adding to their tally which always makes for nervy second halves when the push back occurs. It is not pretty and if three goals in 4 matches is any indication then Wenger's brand of attacking football is in serious jeopardy. Arsenal were a shadow of their fluid and fluent selves.
But here is the thing. Winning ugly, winning lucky is also part of it. Utd have had their share of manna from heaven winning games when they looked like they were barely registering a pulse. Lets look at some of the more positive aspects of this match.
There were no self inflicted wounds for the first time in a long time. No red card, no own goal, no defensive howler that caused an Obafemi Martins killer stroke. Small potatoes you might say but these are the characterizations of recent Arsenal outings. It has become a dominant trope. In fact, Michael Vorm was Almuniaesque in his moment of madness. A mistake of epic proportions and it was not the Gunners for once! Surely, Hades lurking around the club has been banished to the underworld with a prod to his chest. Luck was still on Arsenal's side when the final whistle blew after Danny Graham came within a whisker of sending fans into purgatory once again. Instead what we have is a debate. We can live with that.
Mikel Arteta had some deft touches in the first half and his nose for a through pass created a couple of scoring opportunities but they were left unconverted. Andrei Arshavin had a fine match proving that the path to goal is not always the shortest line. Of course, this being Arshavin he was promptly upbraided for his lackadaisical tracking by Frimpong following which he was subbed off. Per Mertesacker was solid in his debut except for the moment where he was bailed out by Wojciech Szczesny's brilliant save denying Graham in his first scoring chance. The Polish goalie kept up his eye catching form. Marouane Chamakh with two weeks of timely nutrition sustaining him actually saw the sight of goal. Who thinks its time for a Marouane Fellaini type of makeover instead of the greasy slicked down look that's a drag on his goal stats?
Arsenal climb to 11th with their first win of this season. With that monkey of their back they can look towards finishing September on a positive note. There is that gaping -7 goal differential that needs some serious work. Now, they regroup for the Champions League this Tuesday against Borussia Dortmund with its stable of Arsenal like talent in Mario Gotze, Ilkay Gündogan, and Shinji Kagawa. The Bundesliga side are having a few problems of their own getting off to a less than assured start to their season.
6 February 1958 was the darkest day in Man Utd's history when 23 members of its football team were killed after their plane crashed trying to take off a runaway at Munich airport. Amongst them their best and brightest talent including the prodigious Duncan Edwards. The club in its aftermath faced desperate times including the possibility of folding up.
Matt Busby, the genius behind the Busby Babes was severely injured and spent the next two months recuperating and then fighting waves of crippling depression. He, nevertheless, came back next season, and under him a new generation of Busby Babes, legends like Denis Law and George Best, flourished. Ten years later, Utd won the European Cup beating Benfica.
7 September 2011 was the darkest day in ice hockey history as a horrific plane crash killed 40 members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team. Amongst them coach Brad McCrimmon and assistant coach, Alexander Karpovtsev, a former member of the 1994 Stanley Cup winning NY Rangers team. Other former Rangers included Jan Marek and Karel Rachůnek. Amongst them too, Josef Vašíček and Alexander Vasyunov formerly affiliated with local area clubs NY Islanders and NJ Devils.
In a classy gesture of solidarity, Utd CEO David McGill wrote them a letter expressing his club's deepest sympathies for the befallen and expressing their hope that they too would be able to overcome this tragedy and rebuild.
"I hope that you can take strength from the knowledge that with time, support and the collective determination of those who are left at the club and colleagues throughout your sport and further afield, Lokomotiv will recover from this and rebuild itself in the memory of those who died."
Perhaps, Yaroslavl, too can take comfort from the tragedy closer to home that befell a now defunct club of the former Soviet Union that killed 19 members of the VVS Moscow team in an air crash in 1950. That team managed to recruit players from other teams and won the league next year. The fact it was Joseph Stalin's son Vasily who ran the club probably explains the accelerated re-building.
In his first ever press conference after transfer deadline day, Arsene Wenger disputed the perception the 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Man Utd triggered the desperate last minute signing spree.
Instead the process was more deliberative in the like for like calibration for departing players. Andre Santos and Park Chu-Young taking over Armand Traore and Nicklas Bendtner. The injury to Thomas Vermaelen led to a search for a suitable replacement which resulted in Per Mertesacker's arrival. In Jack Wilshere's absence, Arsenal's creative spark needed to be replenished. Mikel Arteta fills that void.
A week earlier, Wenger was not thinking of transfers.
" I know that in England when you lose a game the signings are always the solution but we have first to get our players back."
Wenger's first reaction to that crushing defeat showed he was still not convinced he had to strengthen the side. Maybe he was on the defensive downplaying the fact that they were no closer to signing anyone in the transfer market at that time. In the four days after, Arsenal went chasing the dragon to bring in as many players before the close of the transfer period. The truth lies somewhere in between. In some instances, the homework seems to have been done, in others, it appears to be pin the tail on the donkey. We risked Yossi Benayoun's loan move without a medical which tells you that things were getting a bit hairy.
A few points here. Who thinks this desperation thing is all that bad?
After such a massacre, if you didn't need a stomach transplant, you would have to be a subspecies of protozoa. If by a miracle Utd had been pegged to the 3-1 halftime score, what bets Wenger would have been claiming victory and touting his players brass balls. My gut feeling: Wenger was hoping to wing it but the Utd result just blew away all pretense.
This is not an isolated event. There is every indication Wenger fully cognizant Vermaelen was not going to be back chose not to go the transfer market last winter. Perhaps Djourou's performance had buoyed his hopes but in retrospect it was an extremely shortsighted decision. This time confronted by deja vu and in the face of such overwhelming evidence of Arsenal's defensive disarray, he was forced to remedy the situation.
The club suffers from an alarming lack of alacrity as observed on a number of occasions in the last two seasons. There have crucial matches when Arsenal would have done well to play with a bonfire lit up their collective arses. Instead they came off looking like the inhabitants of the kingdom of Bovinia. We're not advocating freewheeling panic, the sort of undecipherable stock market paroxysms that happens every time some potentate says something undecipherable about the debt crisis. No, its desperation, the cause and effect sort, that says if you don't get an A+ you can kiss that Cannondale goodbye. Desperation is good. Desperation is clarifying.
Quite the plot. Someone in the middle of the night sometime last year managed to hack into City CEO Garry Cook's email, to send a highly offensive reply to Nedum Onuoha's mother, who has cancer, ridiculing her illness. The reaction was predictably one of outrage.
The reply was addressed to Brian Marwood, City's director of football operations but the hacker clicked on reply all and the damage was done. At least that is what Cook claimed but an investigation launched by City found the CEO, a Prince Phillip clone when it comes to gaffes and bad taste, guilty. Cook was left with no choice but to resign.
If there is a controversy can Kia Joorabchian be far behind? It's amazing how this man, not even an approved agent, continues to wreak havoc on every club he does business with. There is every reason to believe that this news makes him one happy man.
Robbie Savage, genius and clairvoyant extraordinaire, gets Arsenal new signing, Per Mertesacker, all confused with national team mate Christoph Metzelder. This happened a week ago in his BBC show 606 and many have pointed out the howler but it still holds good because Savage cannot be savaged enough.
Metzelder was the centre back who after an unimpressive three year stint at Real was shipped off to FC Schalke. Yet, Savage as a TV pundit slimes Mertesacker on this mistaken assumption. Never let facts get in the way of a good story, eh?
Juventus inaugurated their new stadium with a visual smorgasbord. In one of the classiest gestures in living memory, they invited Notts County who gifted the Old Lady their signature black and white pinstripes in 1903 after responding to a sartorial emergency which would have doomed the Turin club to wearing pink and being confused for Palermo. Richard Williams has more.
The first goal was scored by Luca Toni after a penalty kick saved by Robert Burch rebounded back into line of play. Notts to their everlasting credit did not roll over with Lee Hughes scoring the equalizer.
The 2022 World Cup will set the Qatar government back by $221bn in development and infrastructure costs according to an analyst who does this for a living. Small change for the richest country in the world even as they stand to lose billions without recouping but a small fraction. FIFA by the way will have made out with its billions in TV and merchandising revenue with all its earnings non-taxable because of its non-profit status.
To put this in perspective, the 2006 World Cup in Germany cost $8.5bn to host. South Africa spent $4bn for the 2010 World Cup. The business generated from these events boosted the GDP by about .5% in both countries.
The projected costs of the 2014 edition runs to $15bn with about 50% devoted to developing transportation (rail, road, and air) because Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world. The World Cup will boost Brazil's GDP by 1.5% according to a bank estimate.
That escalates to about $65bn to $115bn by the 2018 World Cup where the estimates to carpet Russia with high speed rail covering a surface area of 6,601,668 sq miles (the largest country in the world) will itself entail an expenditure of $35bn to $85bn, depending on the source. Without that additional burden, the figures plummet to a more sedate $25bn to $30bn.
This is eclipsed by Qatar where traversing its miniscule 4,473sq miles (164th in surace area) is not the really the problem but building stadia, training facilities, and accomodation that is air-conditioned will cost them $171billion. A new port and expansion to the Doha International Airport adds another $50bn.
There will be no hard feelings between Qatar and FIFA even if the 2022 World Cup is underwritten as a comprehensive loss because by that year the oil and gas earnings generated will more than make up for it (FY 2011 $80.8bn). Government revenues are projected to rise on an average $50bn a year because of increased demand in the energy sector. The 2022 World Cup is more of a vanity project than a economic fillip to a country that really does not need one.
There is no one in this England team save Wayne Rooney who'll make a World XI. And he relies on service. The best European teams have a midfield that have all five bars of connectivity when on the pitch while England stumble around looking for a signal. Sometimes they get it, most times they don't.
Fabio Capello may or may not be the right coach for the job - the continued inclusion of Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry says a lot for lessons learned from the World Cup. But this is really down to the quality of players in the English side. Capello is looking for a philosopher's stone but weeding out perceived "weak minded" players will accomplish very little. The French were "weak minded" in their World Cup but they did not lack for technical ability. Laurent Blanc made the necessary changes and now they are back on track.
The solution is more basic. England has to take a bottom up approach and develop technically gifted players. It requires patience and a long term vision to build a system where talents like Glenn Hoddle or Paul Gascoigne are unearthed as rather more than outliers. The U21 team has some notables who should be fast tracked into the national squad. Expediency and a weak qualifying group will get England to the Euro but they might be setting themselves once again for a WTF happened moment. The Wales performance has the manager already dialing down expectations.
Just thinking aloud. What chances Samir Nasri who broke a metacarpal bone in his hand while playing for France would have suffered a more serious ankle injury if he was at Arsenal. As it stands, he's good to go for City with a protective cast and should see his home debut against Wigan this weekend.
Remember FC Stjarnan, the Icelandic club that came up with the innovative goal celebrations that went viral last year.
Now, it is Hangö IK, a Finnish third division club, part of the Kolmonen that is going places with their after parties. They involve costume changes and burlesque. Here are Bruno Gomes, Alysson Soares and Marcelo Matrone, the three Brazilians at HIK bringing their flair to Shakira's Waka Waka with a Gerard Pique cameo. But can they drink Salmiakki and watch Leningrad Cowboys without flinching?
The Arab Spring seems to have have had a liberating effect on penalty taking. This is Amir Sayoud's PK for Egyptian side Al Ahly which looks like he was attempting a Paradinha (a Brazilian stutter step) but instead falls flat on his face. To add insult he received a yellow card and lots of counseling from opposing side Kima Aswan who were losing 0-4. Worst penalty ever?? You be the judge.
Update: The Paradinha is not illegal. It is the perception of it being illegal that has largely prevented the acceptance of the paradinha outside of Brazil where it first originated. Pele was the first practitioner. His hand picked successor Neymar has perfected the technique. FIFA has not outright banned it but has given directives to referees to consider a more general guideline under the "unsporting behavior" category to treat it as a punishable offense.
The longstanding FC Dallas man for all seasons and play by play announcer passed away on Monday evening. The public face of FCD he was a much beloved figure amongst fans showing an unsurpassed humility and love for the game and club. From all accounts he was the sort of unspoiled figure one dreams off in an age of diminishing loyalties.
Rhine spent 10 years at FCD making 212 appearances scoring 23 goals and recording 34 assists in a variety of positions. His sudden death at just 35 years of age is shocking. Too young, too soon. RIP, Bobby Rhine, you shall be missed.
The news that Jack Wilshere could be out for another 8 weeks started the usual he said she said between Fabio Capello and the club. From a fan's perspective it really makes no difference.
The fact is Wilshere is not coming back till early November at the earliest with the caveat that these predictions are not exact science so his return could be delayed even further. Exhale then a huge sigh of relief at Mikel Arteta's signing. However, allow yourself the smallest modicum of introspection while high fiving his arrival.
Given that Wilshere's return was pushed further back, a possibility that required no flight of imagination; contemplate then the board's haggling over Arteta's personal terms which almost torpedoed the whole deal. The only reason it got back on track was Arteta's personal initiative seeking Champions League participation which softened his almost £20,000 per week cut in salary. Let this thought percolate slowly till its a dark viscous sludge of coarse invective. Whether Arteta signed at the 11th hour or the day before is immaterial, the board obviously thought it was worth taking a risk to do what they considered a good bit of business aka cut corners. Leaving the midfield short was not a priority while saving about £1m a year was clearly of concern. Yossi Benayoun till then was considered the big prize move. A 31 year old journeyman midfielder coming off injury was to be our insurance policy.
We pride ourselves as a big club, one of the biggest in the world in fact, but our conduct sometimes are governed by matters so provincial, one wonders whether this is really true. Pointing fingers at Barca for being graceless after getting Fabregas is warranted but we do not cover ourselves with glory when our opening bid for Arteta is £5m. Both approaches show a lack of respect. I suspect "derisory" has not run its course when we come knocking with our cringeworthy bids.
Emmanuel Frimpong who has emerged as a very reliable deputy to Alexander Song in anchoring the midfield is seriously contemplating switching national allegiance to Ghana. The Arsenal midfielder has long flirted with the idea but it appears he's come to a decision after meeting with Ghanaian FA officials earlier this week. On Tuesday, Frimpong tweeted.
"I have Done My Part For the Love of The country Now Lets Wait and See The Outcome......"
The implications for Arsenal are enormous as Frimpong could potentially be away from the side for as long as three weeks in January on Africa Cup of Nations duty. In addition, Arsenal will miss Gervinho, representing Cote D'Ivoire. Further damage was limited when Cameroon failed to qualify for the ACN which means Arsenal can breathe easier knowing Alexander Song is in the line up.
The long term could see three key players flitting in and out on qualifications and the final event itself further unsettling a newly cobbled together Arsenal. The holding midfielder role has never assumed greater significance in a season punctuated by periods of less sure footed possession. Francis Coquelin thrown to the lions at Old Trafford did as well as he could in an emergency but the absence of both Song and Frimpong saw Utd running riot in a vacant parking lot.
Very few have traversed a steep trajectory in so short a time as Frimpong who shows he has the goods to contend with the best. He was very impressive in his Liverpool performance till his momentary lapse of reason got him sent off. His display offered the best rationalization for Wenger's failure to pursue Yann M"Villa. Now, the equation has changed with both holding midfielders likely to be away for chunks of time at crucial intervals. There is also the fact that Frimpong although very good has shown a rawness and unnecessary impetuousness.
There are other considerations at play given that Song has his streaks of adventurism and a candidate like Yann M'Villa could provide the backbone in a two holding midfielder set. Arsenal need to stop leaking goals and close that yawning goal differential. It could prove crucial in keeping out a horde jostling for that fourth spot.
This has become a priority area to strengthen in the January transfer window.
The Spain Supremacy is the title of a book that Ludlum has still got to get around to writing.It the meantime Spain are living up to the title of that yet to be written book by continuing to reign supreme over all and sundry.
This time it was the sundry that they reigned over.Alvaro Negredo(2) David Villa (2) Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Ramos scored to take Spain to a 6 - 0 win over lowly Liechtenstein.Spain are on top of group 1 and are going to try to become first European nation to defend the title after winning the World Cup.
So thats their plan while we wait for Ludlum to think up a story to go with the title ....!
szólj hozzá: Spa 6-0 Lie
This match will always be remembered for Robert Earnshaw's point blank miss and a blinding fingertip save from Joe Hart that kept Chris Gunter out. As it stands Ashley Young's goal sweeping Stuart Downing's cross past Wayne Hennessey made the difference and kept England rolling towards Euro 2012 qualification. Wales were however the better team and Aaron Ramsey had a superb game.
The Belgians have never lacked for individual talent and the present side have a number of names that are already established international stars like Vincent Kompany, Maroaune Fellaini, and Thomas Vermaelen.
Others like Eden Hazard, the winger strongly linked to Arsenal, Alex Witsel, Moussa Dembele, Steven Defour, and Dries Mertens are stars in the making. Romelu Lukaku, the 19 year old striker compared most to Didier Drogba has already made the move to Chelsea. They are looking to recreate the golden period of the 80s when they had luminaries like Michel Preudhomme, Enzo Scifo, Jan Ceulemans, Franky Van der Elst, Eric Gerets, and Marc Wilmots. They are in the midst of a tough Euro 2012 qualifying campaign where their chances hang by a thread with the Turks ahead and a tough match coming up against already qualified Germany.
US coach Juergen Klinsmann does not have to contend with such practicalities. He is trying to change an entrenched philosophy which he has to introduce piecemeal and by making several personnel changes. The short passing game that the USA failed to develop in the Bob Bradley era for a counterattacking thrust is getting a very good look. Assistant coaches Martin Vasquez and Thomas Dooley brought to the MNT by Klinsmann have vast experience with the possession game favoured by the Bundesliga and the Mannschaft.
Against Belgium, Klinsmann shifted Chandler down to the left while Steve Cherundolo occupied his usual right back position. The switch made for increased pace down the the left flank and Chandler playing out of position did very well containing the threat of the ever dangerous Mertens. He was a bit more hesitant coming up and his touch was not the best. The drop off was picked up by Brek Shea providing some clever interlinking play with Clint Dempsey and Juan Agudelo. The DC United winger was quite the livewire stretching the Belgian defense and making a nuisance of himself with his ability to cut in.
One of those forays led to Clint Dempsey leaving Simone Mignolet exposed with some excellent footwork but the Fulham man made a poor choice by passing up the chance to relay the ball to Agudelo in a better position to score. His weak effort was easily saved by Mignolet.
Other than that one occasion the US were quite undistinguished in the box running out of ideas. The Belgians at the other end were able to capitalize on a set piece error after a throw found Fellaini who headed the ball into the path of Nicholas Lombaerts. The defender let loose a half volley before the US could close down and it found its way past Tim Howard who till then had a superb game. The US goalie made two fabulous saves palming a sizzler by Timmy Simons and then a volley by Everton team mate Fellaini.
The USA came on strong in the final 10 minutes and they thought they had scored the equalizer when Maurice Edu powered in a header from a free kick but the goal was disallowed for what appeared to be a dubious offside. Once again Edu was denied by a refereeing decision. How many times does that happen in internationals? The final minute of play was bizarre as the US building up on a last throw of the dice fizzled out in no man's land.
Klinsmann kept his faith in Jose Francisco Torres which is the right thing to do. The midfielder may not be the quickest in the world but clearly he has an eye for a pass. The one thing Torres must do better is to engage more fully in the final 3rd recycling the attack with more alacrity. With three holding midfielders and a deep seated playmaker, the connection between midfield and the attack was not easy to come by and it was only Shea's endeavour that kept it from getting completely lost.
On that track, the US coach should also give Mikkel Diskerud, a much quicker and more attacking player with a creative edge, a shout at the MNT. Stuart Holden's match fitness will be on display as Klinsmann leaves in the next few days to see the Bolton midfielder take on a reserve game. It will be a welcome relief to get back him back because Robbie Rogers maybe quick but that is about all one can say in his defense.
Jonathan Bornstein was one of the first soccer players in the USA to undergo Platelet Rich Plasma therapy, now known commonly as PRP. Blood was drawn from the Chivas player and then centrifuged leaving mostly platelets. These cell bodies are instrumental in blood clotting but also appear to contain growth factors that help repair damaged tissue. The serum was then injected back into his injured knee.
Bornstein who feared out being with a ligament tear for six weeks to ten weeks was able to speed up his recovery and was back to match fitness in about five weeks. He had halved the time which could make all the difference to a player with national ambitions and a coach under pressure to deliver success to his side.
Spain has been a pioneer in this promising new therapy having established its used in the early 90s. A group from Barcelona led by Ramon Cugat and Oscar Ares have been using PRP to accelerate the healing of soccer injuries. Cugat, the head of Mutualidad de Futbolistas Catalanes cited the platelet's regenerative factors as responsible for the miraculous recovery in the case of Xavi after an Achilles tendon grade 2 tear threatened to sideline the midfield maestro for the 2010 season. He was able to come back to the pitch two months later.
In the two years since Bornstein's return, PRP, has moved from the realm of professional athletes to the recreational sportsman who suffers a hamstring injury. The technique has been fueled by the endorsements of celebrity athletes like Tiger Woods who used platelet rich injections after knee surgery and was back on the greens earlier than expected.
NFL safety Troy Polamalu, he off the bounteous dreads and flying tackles along with wide receiver Hines Ward also underwent PRP and was back in time for the 2009 Super Bowl to lead the Steelers to victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Both players feared sitting out the most important game in an NFL player's career with knee and calf injuries.
In Takashi Saito's case PRP obviated the need for a Tommy John procedure to replace a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow joint. The LA Dodger closer was able to get back to pitching in weeks instead of spending the year recuperating from such an invasive surgical intervention.
Athletes like Woods and Polamalu are not the only ones benefiting from this technique. The NYT reports that these celebrity endorsements have proved a boon for sports medicine specialists and orthopedic surgeons who are now catering to a growing demand for PRP by consumers who see no permanent cure to their own string of similar ailments.The attraction behind PRP appears to be the fact that it is the body that is providing its own antidote, i.e., it is natural. The problem is that in this stampede the obvious rigorous peer research that validates the efficacy of this procedure is either being eschewed or overlooked.
A much cited study looking at Achilles tendon injuries conducted by researchers in Netherlands concluded no obvious benefits after observing no significant differences between subjects who were injected with PRP and normal saline. Another study investigating tennis elbow showed some improvement with PRP but the results seem to have been confounded by the control group receiving steroids which has obvious short term relief but ultimately leads to the destruction of cellular tissue. A more recent study looking into rotator cuff surgeries used PRP to diffuse locally for a more concentrated effect but found no improvement over a placebo. The efforts are complicated by the fact tendons and ligaments factors have different levels of vascularization (blood supply), there are four different variations in preparation, and the choice of randomized, double blind trials can make a difference.
The editor of the newsletter published by the American Orthopedics Association, Dr. S. Terry Canale, recently attempted to link these conflicting results while acknowledging the anecdotal efficacy of PRP but was forced into ambivalence. "It went on and on," Dr. Canale said. "There was no obvious conclusion." The lack of scientific evidence means PRP continues to come out of pocket.
In the meantime sports medicine has moved onto the next best thing which is PRP enhanced autologous stem cells which underpins the same attractive qualities of the body providing its own cure. The driver behind this new approach is MLS pitcher Bartolo Colon who spent all of 2010 nursing a torn rotator cuff and elbow damage to stage a remarkable recovery after his MD, Joseph Purita administered PRP packing Colon's shoulder and elbow beforehand with his own fat and bone marrow cells. The science behind this sounds intuitive as growth factors maybe less influential on structures that lack cells but "stem cells" provide a target rich environment which might regenerate into intact tendons and ligaments. However, these are but assumptions, clearly circumstantial, and research once again might have to play catch up with a burgeoning demand for a magic bullet.
When does one go from saying that a single instance is happenstance, two is a coincidence, to three or more is a bloody epidemic? Add ankle injury to the list of eventualities an Arsenal player must face including taxes, lack of titles, departure, and death. Or so it would appear. Throw in a gratuitous red card too.
Thomas Vermaelen is out for six weeks after undergoing surgery for a achilles tendon injury of his left ankle. This is the rather optimistic picture presented by his father. In reality, it could be three months or even more.
Last season a similar injury to his right ankle required surgical intervention after his return dragged out eight months. Vermaelen showed no after effects back on the pitch. He had three stellar outings before the Udinese second leg where he suffered the present injury problem diagnosed as an ankle tendinopathy. Which is better than a tear but could become a chronic problem.
He joins Craig Eastmond, Abou Diaby, and Jack Wilshere in the foot and ankle injury list. Arsenal lead the list in injuries afflicting this anatomical structure. In the present side, seven other players have spent considerable periods of time out with ankle problems. Aaron Ramsey, Andrey Arshavin, Robin Van Persie, Johan Djourou, Alexander Song, Tomas Rosicky, and Kieran Gibbs. These are not squad players. They are the line up. At this point, these injuries are not a matter of conjecture as much as a parliamentary inquiry or the subject of medical research.
Our best centre back is out which means Per Mertesacker given his experience has to assume the mantle of organizer in chief before we can say schnell. He will partner Johan Djourou or Laurent Koscielny in another rendition of defensive refurbishment. A further prolongation of our long standing defensive banes of never having the luxury of a settled pair in the heart of defense.
What does this mean for Vermaelen? For the uninitiated the achilles tendon is the vital bio-mechanical link between the calf muscles and the foot. The tendon helps in "pushing off" the ground when we walk, run, or jump. Any event that compromises the integrity of the tendon or its attachments results in disruption in these cornerstones of physical functioning. A centre back like Vermaelen relies on intact ankle and foot structures to generate the explosive power to elevate himself above or around to deal with a Christopher Samba setpiece threat. It allows him to accelerate into a sliding tackle that would take the ball away from Luis Suarez. Or help an unsighted, out of position Sczeszny with a last minute goal saving toe poke.
David Beckham who suffered a complete tear of the achilles tendon but came back after 7 months to fit right into the Galaxy attack shows no ill effects. He's the high profile set piece man in the lower gear MLS which is just what the doctor ordered. Vermaelen has no option but to go back to the grinding wear and tear of his job responsibilities and the unflagging pace of the Premiership. Unfortunately, this is looking to be a recurring pattern of injury time outs that further compromises Arsenal's shaky back line. A winter transfer would be the obvious remedial action but this is Arsenal where such considerations are secondary to the bottomline.
Portugal beat Cyprus 4 - 0 in their Euro 2012 qualifier on Friday night. C Ron had to put up with some heckling from Cyprus fans.To his credit he scored two goals.On the other hand to his discredit he went down in the penalty area with minimal contact.
The Libyan team, wearing the colors of the rebel flag defeated Mozambique 1- 0 in an African Cup of Nations qualifying match.For security reasons the game was played in Cairo under closed doors but many fans turned up nonetheless.
Humam Abu Rawi, a football fan from Tripoli, struggled to put his feelings into words.
"I am very glad - I don't know how to say this in English, but we finish our revolution.In Libya, they all love football.If we win and if we get to play in the finals, I think almost all Libyans would forget everything about the past and focus on the games for this is our passion, our love - football"
...and since there doesn't seem to be any video coverage of the game going around here instead is a video showing the lyrics and sound of the Rebel Libyan National Anthem - which used to be the National Anthem of Libya from 1951 to 1969...
Coleraine beat Portadown 4 - 3 recently and the second goal of the 7 goal thriller was this beyond the half line free kick by Johnny Black for Coleraine...
Lots more excitement in this friendly than the one between Venuzuela and Argentina in Kolkata last night.Mauricio Isla scored a superb goal for Chile inside the first 10 minutes. Incredibly Eduardo Vargas scored another 10 minutes or so later. Goals from Andres Iniesta and Fabregas made things all square in the second half.A red card for Chile,a penalty for Spain and a fight between some players at the end gave the friendly an unfriendly feel at the end.
Let us not get wedded to the result against Costa Rica which on the face registers a disappointing loss. That is the refuge of the impatient and those who seek instant gratification.
The focus should be on the first 40 minutes of the first half which saw a USA in absolute command and control using a short passing game to push and probe the Costa Ricans to the maximum. Jose Francisco Torres was the architect of these lateral shape shifting passing triangles which had fans salivating at the prospect of an early goal which would have been just reward. The best chance fell to Landon Donovan after Torres and Brek Shea laid the spadework but the USA's top goalscorer finishing touch let him down. Shea especially was a handful down the left with his speed and ability to improvise.
If today's display is any indication then Klinsmann is laying down a template to wean the US away from a one dimensional and predictable counterattacking style. It is unclear where Donovan and Michael Bradley fit into this more deliberative and patient system as they have been the faces of a more direct approach. Donovan after that one moment failed to provide that vital link between Torres, a more deep seated playmaker and Jozy Altidore or Juan Agudelo, his second half replacement.
The short passing game which requires constant overlapping also demands extra-ordinary levels of fitness. The USA prides itself as one of the fittest teams and Klinsmann is a known martinet when it comes to conditioning. But the second half showed a rapidly tiring USA team losing 50-50 challenges and the compact shape of its passing game. The Costa Ricans who had put more emphasis on a confrontational and aggressive approach (they committed five times as many fouls) sensed the shifting winds.
The USA ceded ground in the midfield as Maurice Edu abdicated his enforcer role, piling up pressure on a backpedaling defense. Daniel Colindres, introduced in the second half proved too strong for Edgar Castillo, the weakest link in the back four. The right flank was exposed when Rodney Wallace, another potential US prospect but now with the Costa Ricans, bulled his way into the box for his game winning header after Tim Howard's rebuff of Michael Barrantes's shot. A scuffle broke out at the end with Shea receiving a yellow card. That sums up the level of frustration for a match the US thought it should have had in the bag. But lets be calm.
This is just the sort of match for an experiment and one has to be heartened by the first half display. Klinsmann is feeling his way through and a Barca type approach carries with it a learning curve which has its ups and downs. In 6 months we will have a team that pleases the eye and scores at the same time.
Joahim Low did not have to dig his nose to strike gold. Mario Gotze serves notice that he might be the next best thing to Mesut Oezil who is already the best thing since Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Then there is the small matter of Thomas Muller and Andre Schurrle. The Germans did not even play in form striker Mario Gomez. They did not need to with so many weapons in hand.
Klose got them started, Oezil inveigled a brace, Podolski chipped in. The Austrians fought back through goals from Marko Arnautovic and Martin Harnik but Gotze and Schurrle coming on as late substitutions buried the hatchet.
Germany have been flawless scoring 22 goals in 7 matches for a full 21 points. They are head and shoulders above Turkey and Belgium in Group A who are in an interesting dogfight for second.
Nicholas Otamendi might have gotten Argentina the win with the match's only goal. But it was Leo Messi all the way and by some distance. He whipped in the corner that led to the centre back's first goal for the Albiceleste. This was Alejandro Sabella's debut and he must have been glad the little maestro was at hand to pull the strings. The match was played in Kolkata and its soccer mad inhabitants loved every moment. Messi mania indeed!
Messi with his abhorrence for diving would be the perfect poster boy for Anna Hazare's anti-corruption crusade. I can see the ad- a multitude of legs trying to scythe him down and yet he does not tumble staying on his feet on the path to scoring a goal. Splice that with images of an India crippled by scandal after injurious scandal of kickbacks, bribery, and graft as a sonorous voice makes the connection.
But I digress. It was the world's best best footballer turning up to show how the beautiful game is played to a multitude of Indians starved of good football in their own land. To extrapolate it into a turning point is ridiculous. Can an Indian do a sliding tackle? The day he can then and only then will Indian football have turned it around.
Sabella shows already that he knows more about the game than Diego Maradona and Sergio Batista combined allowing Messi in his free role and introducing Javier Pastore at the right time.
Wayne Rooney scores a brace and Gary Cahill opens his national account. The Bulgarian defense was shambolic although they did better in the ball possession department without really mounting a threat.
England are sitting pretty in Group G against some real wallflowers. Montenegro is second but the big story is Switzerland so bright in its U21 appearances with just five points after 5 appearances.
If football disparity could be measured by economic indicators like the GINI co-efficient, then La Liga would score a .8. Or should we call it despair-ity. The fact is that there is no chance any club can compete with Barca and Real. The chasm has become a continental drift and every indication is that it will get worse.
Jorge Valdano, the former managing director of Real who was forced out because of his differences with Jose Mourinho (who would have thought!) predicts both clubs will severe their La Liga links and throw their weight behind a European Super League which will allow it to compete with the best of Europe.
This is not exactly revelatory because this is exactly what Karl Heinz Rummenigge, the president of the ECA proposes as an alternative to an UEFA run Champions League whilst ensuring maximum profitability. Rummenigge is doing the spadework so that his elite constituents are in a position to sign up once UEFA's MOU with the clubs expires in 2014.
Valdano reinforces the perception of Barca and Real as self serving Brobdingnagians longing to snap their irritating linkages to a Lilliputian Liga. But it is the rest of the league that will have a say in this as much as these two clubs. The growing disparity is partly due to the massive amounts of cash these two giants rake in with their individual TV deals without the income re-distribution that leavens the Premiership's economic landscape. Banks associated with these two clubs have distributed soft virtually interest free loans for the acquisition of high priced players as favours. Once proud clubs like Valencia and Sevilla have no such beneficiaries and have been forced to raise money by selling players. The proceeds are plowed back into writing down debt and paying wages.
La Liga is not so much an amalgam of football clubs as much as a political collective with each club a metonym for regional autonomy from Madrid. They form a political bulwark, the equivalent of a civil war without bullets flying, to keep from being swallowed by Nationalist fascism. During the Spanish Civil War, the Liga was suspended and clubs formed regional alliances and installed committees to resist confiscation from Francisco Franco's hordes. Franco's onslaught also ignited a cultural tinderbox when he purged all non-Spanish language names and symbols. Athletic Bilbao and Athletic Madrid were renamed Atletico Madrid and Atletico Bilbao. The Catalunyan flag adorning Barca's emblem was removed and the language banned.
If a club such as Sevilla or Valencia should fall victim to a Liga attrition it leaves a potential political vacuum which could be filled with hardliners who see these changes as increasing encroachment on their autonomy. Barca's part in creating an economic imbalance would erode its image as a countervail to Madrid. There needs to be reform in the way the Liga conducts business with an introduction of a safety net as a priority to negotiate these turbulent times. The sceptre of more strikes and shrinking clubs is a very real existential threat. The question of leaving the Liga may not be the point. The question may very well be will there be a Liga to leave behind?
Nicklas Bendtner: "I will never go back to Arsenal," he is quoted as saying in The Sun. "If I can have it my way, I will never play for them again."
OK. Part of this lashing out is Arsene Wenger's fault for sticking Bendtner out in the wings, in areas, where he was ineffectual. Part of the problem is Arsenal's micro-managing passing game where a striker becomes a bystander. But Bendtner when he had his chances never really capitalized on them. I still have nightmares of the Barca second leg where he could have cemented his place in the pantheons of heroes if his first touch had been more deft with just Victor Valdes to beat. That is Bendtner's gestalt. A striker with clogs for feet.
Confidence is a wonderful quality to have especially in strikers but it is much better when matched with the requisite technical ability. There is no point being a legend in your mind. I'm sure Bendtner's negativity will make those Stoke fixtures which has never lacked for grudges just a lot edgier.
Juergen Klinsmann raised a whole lot of eyebrows on August 25th when he announced 23 year old Fabian Johnson would be included in the 23 man squad to play Costa Rica. Who is Fabian Johnson?
He's a holding midfielder/ central defender for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and his US national switch is possible because of his parentage; father is American while his mother is German. Johnson represented Germany in the U21 Euro team that won their maiden title in 2009. His team mates included Manuel Neuer, Mesut Oezil, and Sami Khedira, stars in their present national side. Johnson broke into the German youth ranks playing for TSV 1860 Munchen. His national rise plateaued when he joined Volkswagen backed VfL Wolfsburg in 2009.
The Mannschaft meanwhile gained strength in the centre back pairing of Mats Hummels and Benedikt Howedes while the midfield role has up and coming Sven Bender and İlkay Gündoğan challenging Sami Khedira. The chances of Johnson making the national team are very limited. He follows in the footsteps of Jermaine Jones and Timothy Chandler, two other German born Americans embracing pragmatism as a virtue.
Johnson will not play today in the Costa Rica friendly as his paperwork to transition to the US squad is incomplete. This begs the question why did Klinsmann then include him in the squad? Bob Bradley did not call on Jones till FIFA approved his switch months later and his inclusion was further delayed by an ankle injury as time wound down for last year's World Cup. He was finally not included because of match fitness concerns.
Nice buzz, impractical move, Juergen. There are others who can benefit from more exposure.
A few things have shaken out this summer. The inability of Arsenal to hold onto their marquee players who overtly cite the lack of titles as their reason for moving on while also negotiating better personal terms with their new owners seems to be the new reality. Arsenal's restrictive wage structure in this free market economy is seen as a liability as they bleed players to clubs who pony up without ceilings.
Arsenal could have rebuilt the squad with players of equal quality dipping into the deep pool of talent in the French and Spanish leagues by paying market prices.
Signings like Yann M'Villa, Eden Hazard, Marvin Martin would provide an instant imprimatur from the sales of Fabregas and Samir Nasri but as yet remain figments in the fan's imagination. In other instances Arsenal under bid seriously to take them out of contention as in Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill's case. There is enough evidence to suggest that Arsenal blinked in the race to acquire Phil Jones and Juan Mata ceding to sides with more appetite and cash. Such examples show that Arsenal have scaled even further back in their frugality.
These two forces are shaping the way for a change in the way Arsenal remain competitive.
Arsene Wenger's efforts to augment from the reserves has led to the advent of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, and Emmanuel Frimpong. He has added to that list some raw and untested talent in Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain, Ryo Miyaichi, and Carl Jenkinson. These are time tested Wenger moves and in any other summer would not have raised eyebrows but given the duress that Arsenal find themselves in have been recruited straight to the first team. Martin Keown's thoughtful opinion piece laments Wenger's unwelcome trend towards spurning loans seen as essential to a young player's development which formed a bulwark of Arsenal's past success. The reliance on greenhorns some of it unavoidable resulted in Arsenal's most humiliating defeat in 115 years at the hands of Utd last weekend.
The big talking point was how Arsenal conducted business in the last days of the transfer period. It is clear the signings of players who would at best be third or fourth choices if that show a club in damage control mode.
The frenetic last minute nature is geared up for a classic run at fourth spot for Champions League purposes after a disastrous start to their season. What is less obvious is these signings are also a tacit sign of Arsenal's exploration into the market for cut rate off their prime players who might be looking for a move. They find a sanctuary in the transfer deadline.
Under Wenger this end has received scant and fitful attention confined to defensive personnel but the deliberate nature of these spate of signings reflect the hand of the board. The MLS is well represented in Arsenal in the form of Ivan Gazidis, the managing director and Stan Kroenke, majority owner of the club.
Gazidis a former MLS deputy commissioner and Kroenke, is the owner of the Colorado Rapids, last years league champions are well versed in how the MLS operates. Gazidis served under Don Gerber, the present MLS commissioner whose endeavours to stop the perception of the MLS as retirement haven include introducing marketing measures such as the DP status which works around the salary cap to pay for still competitive players. It paved the way for a steady trickle of marquees like David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg, Rafa Marquez, Guillermo Baretto Schelotto, Torsten Frings and Robbie Keane.
Arsenal have their own self imposed salary cap which rarely exceeds £90,000 per week (Fabregas, RVP, and Song are exceptions). Nasri came up against this glass ceiling where he would be limited to earning £4.7m per annum which is what Beckham is being paid at the Galaxy. The difference is Nasri and Fabregas are contemporaneous peers of the game while Beckham older by 10 years can no longer compete at that level. Nasri was earning £60,000/week at Arsenal before moving to City for triple that amount.
The more representative salary for an Arsenal player falls between £30,000/week and £60,000/week which is what Landon Donovan (29 years) and Rafa Marquez (31 years) receive at the MLS. Donovan not two years ago was an Everton prospect and Marquez was part of the Barca back four till injury and loss of form capped his Catalunyan career. One can argue that playing for Arsenal brings rewards that should have little to do with salary but if 4th place is its self described pinnacle then there is less to distinguish it from a less aspirational league.
There are parallels to Arsenal's last day spree. We can argue that Mikel Arteta at 29 years of age still represents very good value for £10m and his signing came as a great relief but he's about 5 years beyond having a side built around him. In fact, Arsenal are paying Arteta £20,000 less than he was getting at cash strapped Everton. The Spaniard's decision was driven by his first ever chance at Champions League representation.
Yossi Benayoun at 31 years, undoubtedly clever and creative, has been slowed by injury and age. Per Mertesacker (26 years), Park Chu Young (26 years), and Andre Dos Santos (28 years) came to Arsenal virtually uncontested for their signatures as younger rivals push for their spots at their former abodes. For some of them Arsenal represents the final stop.
The fact is that City, Barca, Utd, Real, and Chelsea will continue to steal the cream of the crop with their title aspirations and wage on steroids. Wenger will hope his emphasis on talent pays off but a transition to an Ivan Campo type of graying demographic might be in the cards for Arsenal as pragmatic concerns rule the day.
A great video of street football in Kolkata as the city waits with bated breath for the Argentina Venezuela friendly tomorrow.
...and more footage of Messi mania in one of the most soccer crazy cities in India.
About 120,000 people are expected at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Salt Lake tomorrow and they will all turn up to see Messi play
Bhaswar Goswami, chief executive of the celebrity management group staging the match, has highlighted the importance of Messi's arrival: "Pele came here at the end of his career - Diego Maradona came but did not play. Messi is coming at his prime. This match will inspire a whole generation of young Indians and their parents."