Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Weekly Photoshop – Scottish Referees

30/11/2010

Quick one this evening, as I’ve got a Carling Cup game to go to in a mo.

You may have heard about the referees in Scotland going on strike after their integrity was questioned. It all seemed like a massive storm in a teacup but basically stemmed from Celtic getting a penalty overturned in a  game against Dundee Utd. A good explanation from the Beeb is here.

Anyway, it was a quite a random topic but what can you do…

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'The evil pigs sat there in their castle, smug at having stolen the referees' integrity. It was time to strike back...

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More can be found here.

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T.

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Archive.

Weekly Photoshop – Sam Allardyce

28/09/2010

You may have heard Sam Allardyce spouting lots of rubbish recently. Apparently he could win the double at Real Madrid or Inter every season, easy. In his saved game on Football Manager perhaps. Somehow in real life I don’t think lumping it forward to emergency striker Chris Samba is quite going to cut it at the Bernabeu. Naturally he was this week’s Photoshop them in the Guardian.

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Sam Allardyce is always going on about his use of the latest football trends and innovations. One has to assume he would start taking C-Ron's beachwear advice too...

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More here. An easy target really.

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T.

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Archive.

Dear Barcelona

06/07/2010

So you today say you won’t wait much longer for Cesc Fabregas. Is that a promise? Will you just piss off if Arsenal continue their refusal to sell? That would be nice.

The daily ‘negotiating’ tactics are pretty hilarious, and it seems the more silent Arsenal remain, the more desperate Barcelona start to sound.

Barcelona won’t pay over the odds. Of course,why should they? Arsenal should just accept the opening offer and sell their captain and one of the best midfielders in Europe for little more than the Catalans received for Yaya bloody Toure. Oh wait… Also, if they want to move on to Mascherano or Robben please be my guest. It’s not like they lack enough diving players already.

Sandro Rosell also regrets the topic being public as it “increases the selling club’s expectations”. And whose fault is that exactly? Arsenal have made all of about two statements on the matter; I think he needs to be looking closer to home. They will never pay 50 or 60 million euros? They won’t even get to negotiate let alone buy if they don’t.

Because he's worth it.

Is saying you won’t wait meant to be a threat? Let’s not forget which club is in the position of power here. Arsenal have no need, and no desire to sell. Yes, Fabregas may want to join Barcelona but he is also Arsenal club captain and last time I checked he still has four years left on his contract. If it came down to a war of stubbornness Arsenal can simply hold him to it.

Oh and getting your whole squad to day by day comment that Cesc’s heart belongs to/is already in Barca does not reduce the fee. It just makes you sound like twats.

I could hazard a guess at what the FC in FC Barcelona stands for but this is a family blog...

If you want to buy Cesc Fabregas, offer a proper transfer fee. Like you did for David Villa. Like you did for Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Arsenal should really call Inter for some tips on how to screw Barcelona over).

Arsenal will then say no, and you can be on your merry way. At least until next summer. Thanks.

T.

Season Predictions 09/10 – How They Turned Out

31/05/2010

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’m still in two minds about whether to do season reviews for each club – to be honest I’m in World Cup mode now. Perhaps I’ll still get round to it though.

Back in August I played a mug’s game and tried to predict how everyone would finish. Here’s what actually happened:

'Expert' predictions...

Looking at the results showed I got just three clubs spot on: Man City in 5th and basement dwellers Hull and Pompey taking the bottom two places. In my defence I was only one place out with six other clubs but really this table looks like what it is, rubbish punditry.

I think if Gareth Southgate and Garth Crooks had a bastard lovechild it would look something like this predictions table (enjoy those nightmare thoughts kids).

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In terms of the thinking, I had found it really tricky to split the top three when writing pre-season predictions. My loyalties to Arsenal may have played a part in placing them second while I couldn’t bear to predict Chelsea as Champions even though deep down I knew they had retained the most strength over the summer.

A similar scenario led to placing Spurs 7th – I was hardly going to predict them a Champions League spot was I?! I underestimated Liverpool’s decline and overestimated Sunderland’s improvement.

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The biggest mistake was Birmingham, a full nine places out, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who had them down to struggle. Fair play to Alex McLeish (who I had as first sacking!), he brilliantly led them to a top half finish.

The bottom half was slightly better predicted clubs wise, if not positions wise. The dearth of quality is such that it’s pot luck as to where the likes of Bolton and Wigan finish. I got three of the bottom four right and on another day would have predicted Burnley to come in 18th not 17th.

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In terms of the cups and other stuff it went like this:

And I thought the league prediction was bad...

Oh dear. Only Bayern Munich correct and I suppose West Brom for promotion. If the Premier League table was the Southgate/Crooks lovechild then this is the resulting mess when said lovechild had a threesome with Alan Shearer and Jamie Redknapp. I literally couldn’t do any worse at being a pundit. Like I said at the beginning, it’s time for the World Cup…

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Steve McClaren

11/05/2010

Remember the wally with the brolly? Steve McClaren’s England reign came to an inglorious end when losing to Croatia at Wembley and he ensured plenty of puntastic headlines when standing under an umbrella without a clue how to save the game.

Anyway, seeing as he was unemployable in England, he decided to try his luck in Holland with FC Twente. Some dodgy accents aside, it turns out he’s actually not bad. Second place last year was followed by the Eredivisie title this time round. Steve McClaren a good manager? Surely not…

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steve mcclaren twente twilight zone

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension where Steve McClaren is a good manager. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone...

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More here.

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T.

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Archive.

Weekly Photoshop – Beckham vs Man Utd

16/02/2010

The business end of the Champions League starts this week and one of the best ties will be Man Utd vs Milan and the return of David Beckham to Old Trafford. Perfect excuse for this week’s Guardian Photoshop theme then.

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beckham milan man utd

Ever the faithful lieutenant, the Neviller knew exactly what to do when Sir Alex said 'Give Becks a nice welcome back'.

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Lots more to be found here, it seems everyone likes to have a go when Becks is involved.

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T.

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Archive.

Child Snatchers

09/09/2009

What do Gael Kakuta, Paul Pogba, Jeremy Helan and Max Clayton all have in common? Apart from being unknown they are all under scrutiny this week as part of alleged systematic tapping up and inducing of young players to join bigger clubs.

After Chelsea were banned from signing players for two transfer windows last week, a bunch of other clubs have now started making claims. Le Harve have accused Man United of luring Paul Pogba, Rennes reckon Man City stole Jeremy Helan, and Crewe are not best pleased with Liverpool for allegedly trying to tap up Max Clayton.

I can understand all this stuff coming out now. If Lens got Fifa to ban Chelsea for the signing of Gael Kakuta, it gives hope to other clubs who previously felt they couldn’t do anything about a big club enticing their star player.

Gael Kakuta

Gael Kakuta

It’s an interesting situation and it appears to be clear that it happens all the time, despite the various denials that have come out. A top club will see a player with great potential, and as you only pay nominal fees for players under 17 or compensate for training and development, will then attempt to persuade them to leave for pastures new. If you think that you can get a potential world beater for the price of a house or a £100,000 payment to a representative, it’s no wonder clubs try to steal players at 16 rather than have to pay £25million when they’re 23.

Jeremy Helan

Jeremy Helan

It‘s not a new situation either. Although it was all above board, I remember the likes of PSG and Barcelona complaining bitterly when Arsene Wenger picked up Nicolas Anelka and Cesc Fabregas for a hundred grand here or a quarter of a million there. You can’t blame Wenger for exploiting the rules, but it must be frustrating that you can’t sign a player to a pro contract before 17 even if they’ve been at your club for years.

Leeds have proposed points deductions but I think a transfer ban is more appropriate in cases where rules have been broken. A ban on improving your squad for a year and a half certainly impacts more than a three point deduction for example. Chelsea especially have an experience squad so could do with an injection of youth.

The one problem with ­the transfer window ban is that you can appeal it, and whilst the appeal is heard you’re allowed to buy players. This is understandable if you turn out to be innocent but stupid if they subsequently get found guilty as they can speculate and buy with the assumption they will get banned.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

Another idea of under 18s not being allowed to move has been floated too. I quite like this as it would level out the playing field a bit and ensure small clubs get more money for the talent they produce. The small matter of having the freedom to work anywhere in the European Union might scupper that rather quickly unfortunately.

So what can be done? I think the distinction needs to be made between offering a player a better opportunity at a bigger club (let’s not forget players change academies all the time) and attempting to reward their family by buying houses/giving money etc. In instances of the latter, transfer bans seem like a good way to go, though it might be difficult to prove wrongdoing a lot of the time. That said, Lens told Chelsea what they were doing was illegal and that they would be banned yet it was no deterrent. Now though, Chelsea’s ban will at least make clubs think twice before trying to poach a player for peanuts. It’s a start if nothing else.

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T.

Champions League Draw Reaction

28/08/2009

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa.
Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg.
Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich.
Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, APOEL Nicosia.
Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni.
Group F: Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan.
Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni.
Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Big ears

Big ears

Quite an interesting draw yesterday, and the British clubs on the whole will be happy with the groups they have landed in. No obvious group of death but certainly quite a few where three teams will be competing to qualify.

Group A is quite tough to call. You have the traditional heavyweights of Bayern and Juventus joined by the Ligue 1 Champions Bordeaux. The Germans have made a shoddy start under Van Gaal this year and it remains to be seen if they are preparing to sell Ribery following the arrival of Robben, Juve have bought well this summer and should be strong while it will be interesting to see if Bordeaux have the players to compete at this level. We can safely say Maccabi will be bottom.

What price Bordeaux breaking it up?

What price Bordeaux breaking it up?

Man Utd have a slightly trickier task then usual in Group B but should still comfortably qualify. The long distance trips to CSKA and Besiktas might be a drag, and they drew the one fourth pot team no one wanted in German champs Wolfsburg. Wolsburg have kept the team that took them to the title last season (bar the manager) and Edin Dzeko will look to continue impressing scouts across Europe. Fergie’s side should come top and it will be between Wolfsburg and CSKA for second.

Group C sees Kaka go back to Milan with his new side Real Madrid but they should both be qualifying. Marseille might cause a shock or two at home but will likely fall short in third place.

Chelsea face away tricky ties at Atletico and Porto in Group D as well quite a long trip to Nicosia but their experience should see them qualify. After all wasn’t Ancelotti hired to win this? Porto and Atletico will tear strips off each other and I think that the latter’s superior strike force of Forlan and Aguero will see them join the Blues in the second round.

Group E will be scrappy and I can see both Lyon and Fiorentina causing Liverpool some problems. It could be very tight between these three even though on paper Liverpool are easily the strongest side. They seem to find compact technical teams quite difficult to break down in the group stages and it wouldn’t surprise me if they went through in second.

Group F sees Zlatan and Eto’o return to their respective former clubs with Barcelona playing Inter at the San Siro on matchday 1. Both teams should comfortably qualify though Barcelona’s away games against Rubin Kazan and Kiev are not until November onwards so the weather could play a factor. In particular Guardiola’s side will not want to go to Kiev in December needing something from their last game. I’m sure that won’t be the case though.

Swapsies

Swapsies

Rangers have a fair chance at qualifying from Group G as they’ve been paired with one of the weaker top seeds in Sevilla as well as Stuttgart and Unirea. I think it will be between them and the German side for second with Sevilla’s experience at this level seeing them through in first.

The last group (H) sees Arsenal get quite a gentle draw alongside Standard Liege, AZ Alkmaar and Olympiakos. None will be easy to beat, but all should be beaten. Liege will look to Steven Defour to try and help them get second ahead of Alkmaar but I suspect it will be the Dutch champions who end up nabbing it behind the Gunners in first.

I suspect there won’t be too many shocks overall but I’m sure one or two clubs will manage to mess things up. It all starts on September 14th, can’t wait!

T.

Player Rivalries – Part Two

22/07/2009

A few more I thought of:

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Frank Rijkaard vs Rudi Voller. Or rather the case of Rijkaard’s spit vs Voller’s hair. A World Cup game in 1990, things get rather feisty after a bad tackle by the Dutchman. Things continue to flare up. He then proceeds to spit at him. Classy…

He thought Voller wouldn't feel it through the perm.

He thought Voller wouldn't feel it through the perm.

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Robinho vs Tommy Gravesen. Robinho does strike me as someone who keeps trying to push people’s buttons. He’s probably learnt that you don’t try and do it to Thomas Gravesen.

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Ian Wright vs Peter SchmeichelIan Wright accuses the Dane of being racist after a game in 1996 but doesn’t complain officially. Chooses to take his own action in the fiery return match (was there ever any other kind during the late 90s/early 00s?) between Arsenal and Man Utd in 1997. I can’t find a photo but there was a filthy tackle by Wright on the goalkeeper and there was previous as he had also never scored a league goal against him (just one nice lob in the 1993 Charity Shield). Following the game the allegation came out again but Schmeichel got cleared.

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Neil Lennon vs Alan Shearer’s boot. Silly Lennon, he should have known Shearer’s foot would be there, instead of carelessly trying to headbutt it. Mary Poppins then threatened the FA with international retirement meaning they couldn’t charge him as they needed him for France ’98.

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John Arne Riise vs Craig Bellamy and the golf club. All credit to Bellamy for being creative and introducing a weapon into proceedings. Clearly his fists or his feet weren’t deemed adequate enough. I love how the incident occurred on what was meant to be a bonding session! The best thing was they both scored to beat Barcelona a few days later.

Fore!

Fore!

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Landon Donovan vs David Beckham. A new one but it seems Landon doesn’t like being number two to Beckham’s queen bee status. More on this one in this week’s Photoshop post.

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T.

Blast From The Past – Sinisa Mihajlovic

21/07/2009

Ex Yugoslavian/Serbian left back Sinisa Mihajlovic this time round. He spent most of his career in Italy and probably only really came to prominence in the Lazio side that won Serie A and the Coppa Italia in 1999-00.

Having said that he did also win a European Cup with Red Star Belgrade in 1991 (he scored one of the penalties in the shootout) which was probably a greater achievement. He was a little bit racist truth be told but he sure did take a mean free kick…

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T.


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