Posts Tagged ‘Mourinho’

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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Archive.

Weekly Photoshop – Joe Cole

27/07/2010

This week’s theme was new Liverpool signing Joe Cole. After weeks of speculation over where he would sign, Cole surprisingly chose to leave London and head north. I’m sure Harry Redknapp must be gutted.

I never quite understood the clamour to sign him; he hasn’t consistently performed for several seasons now. Of course injuries have taken their toll but if he was that good, Chelsea wouldn’t be letting him go. A decent signing considering he’s free but I bet Benayoun has more impact as his replacement at Chelsea.

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joe cole liverpool

It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but I worry for the future of this relationship...

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More here.

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Archive.

Weekly Photoshop – Neil Warnock

16/03/2010

Football’s second biggest mouth (after Jose Mourinho) and what seems like the 45th person to manage QPR this season. Yes, Neil Warnock is this week’s theme.

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neil warnock qpr

Chatter chatter chatter. Just wind him up and watch him go on ... and on ... and on ...

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Oh this got second place by the way. Huzzah! An Eric Cantona book will be winging its way to me. Might be quite good given it’s written by Philippe Auclair. The rest of the gallery is here.

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T.

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Archive.

The Six Pointer – The new Fulham, Arsh power & more…

14/12/2009

1. Amazing what effect a good old-fashioned rollicking can have on players. Arsenal were dreadful in the first half against Liverpool yesterday and were lucky to go into the break only 1-0 down. Torres should have buried what was essentially a one on one chance while Gerrard probably paid the price for his recent diving by not being awarded a penalty for a clear foul by Gallas in the box. As it happened Liverpool were gifted the lead after another error by Almunia, who flapped at a routine crossed free kick and palmed into Kuyt’s path to score.

It has been hinted that Wenger told his young charges “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” (something many of us Arsenal fans have thought in recent times) and it had the desired result, in part helped by Liverpool’s terrible second half. First Glen Johnson got his footing all wrong to score an own goal with Carragher slipping and Walcott lurking. Then within ten minutes Andrey Arshavin (who had done little until then) scored a great goal taking one touch to control, one to step past Glen Johnson and one to rifle the ball in the net before Reina even saw it. Another memorable Anfield moment for the little Russian who at that point had five goals from five shots in his two games in Liverpool (he would later ruin it with a shot that didn’t score!).

Andrey Arshavin Arsenal Liverpool Anfield

So tiny yet so much shooting power.

So where does this leave both teams? Arsenal look to be back in the title mix after everyone else around them dropped points and will be just three behind Chelsea if they win their game in hand against Bolton in January. Arshavin up front is working in the sense they have two straight wins but he was much quieter against Liverpool than Stoke. A striker is still needed in January.

Liverpool meanwhile are bereft of ideas, form and confidence. They are still only five points off a Champions League spot but it’s becoming more apparent that something is fundamentally wrong at Anfield.  I’m still unsure why Aquilani isn’t starting league games, especially when the first XI aren’t doing much. Gerrard is playing poorly and petulantly while I feel Torres isn’t at full fitness. I’m not convinced Rafa has lost the dressing room but I do think he has the resigned look of someone who already is just playing out the season. Life under Hicks and Gillett has become ridiculous and to be honest I’ll be surprised to see him at Anfield next year.

rafael-benitez liverpool

Something on your mind Rafa?

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2. No team with Champions League ambitions loses at home to Stoke and Wolves and doesn’t score in either game. As always with Spurs as soon as expectation rises, performances fall; which is ironic given that they play better against the big sides. Robbie Keane being captain is becoming an issue due to his poor play, as was obvious it would a year ago, while Defoe isn’t as consistent a scorer as Darren Bent – he’s only scored in six games compared to Bent’s nine. With no money to spend in January it will be interesting to see how Harry Redknapp does going forward.

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3. Any team which beats Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd certainly should have Champions League ambitions. Aston Villa got their first league win at Old Trafford in some 26 years and it was thoroughly deserved. Having been in a Champions League spot for two-thirds of last season before falling away, they looked better placed to stick it out this season.

richard-dunne-aston villa

Solid as a rock.

In Milner, Downing, Young and Agbonlahor they have a quartet of attacking players who can cause problems against any team; Agbonlahor in particular consistently scoring in big matches. At the back Richard Dunne proves every week that Mark Hughes made an error in selling him. A lot depends on whether the core players stay fit but of the pretenders for 4th, Villa look by the far the most impressive at the moment. They may even be aiming higher…

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4. Are Birmingham this season’s Fulham? The points they’re gaining with the few goals they’re scoring suggests so. Their fifth 1-0 victory this season has got them up to 24 points and eighth place. A far cry from the fools who thought they’d be going down this season.

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5. Somewhere in Milan a certain J. Mourinho must be laughing at Chelsea’s recent defensive problems. Who would have thought that a team with a least eight players over six-foot including a giant 6’6″ keeper would be so vulnerable on set pieces? Cech has been far below the heights (no pun intended) of 2004-06 and in recent weeks has made a number of errors. The problem with him being so far ahead of Hilario and Ross Turnbull is that you just have to hope he works his way through it. You have to think that Chelsea wouldn’t have conceded three if Essien was playing either. It’s too early to say if he’ll be badly missed, I would say the true test will be once Drogba is out too.

Jose Mourinho Chelsea Inter

They conceded how many goals in one match?!

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6. Just five points from seven games for Sunderland. Portsmouth at home was about as good a game as you could have hoped for if you wanted to find some form. Maybe Steve Bruce needs a bit more time (read next season) to truly make them a contender for a Europa League spot.

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Carlo Ancelotti

24/09/2009

Right then, after all my confusion last week it turns out it’s still Tuesday deadlines for Thursday Photoshops. This week our theme is Chelsea’s new Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti. A strange cross looks wise between Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink (couldn’t work out how to make that into an idea), Chelsea will hope that he is the one to lead them back to the top of the pile.

You might remember this Cornetto ad from the 80s/90s which completed murdered an opera piece named O Sole Mio. I was going to change the words to “Just one scudetto, give it to me.” but then Carlo’s all about the Champions League. It’s Man Utd’s infinite injury time credit next week which should be good. In the mean time have some Fat Frank and ice cream – always a winning combination.

"Just one Cornetto, give it to me." Carlo and Frank realise they're going to have a good working relationship.

"Just one Cornetto, give it to me." Carlo and Frank realise they're going to have a good working relationship.

This week’s gallery here.

T.

Archive.

Season Previews 09/10 – Chelsea

12/08/2009

chelsea

Last Season: 3rd plus an FA Cup win and a Champions League semi final.

Say hello to your new teammates: Yuri Zhirkov, Ross Turnbull, Daniel Sturridge.

Close the door on your way out: Ben Sahar, Franco Di Santo (loan).

Predicted star: If the rumoured diamond formation works out then Frank Lampard will be even better than last season, with more goals and assists. Even if it doesn’t he’ll still find his usual way of being effective. Yuri Zhirkov could have a positive impact, he seems like a left footed Dani Alves – someone who can play anywhere down the flank.

Needs a big year: Joe Cole faces a battle to both get fit and then find a place on the left or behind the front two. When fit and motivated Didier Drogba is still one of the best strikers around, a physical menace who’s a nightmare to play against – it’s just a shame that he picks and chooses the periods where he’s fit and motivated.

Which Drog will show up?

Which Drog will show up?

One to watch: Despite Shevchenko and Pizarro still being on Chelsea’s book, Daniel Sturridge is effectively first option should Drogba or Anelka get injured. Considering he wanted mega bucks from Man City to stay at Eastlands, it will be intriguing to see if he’s as good as he clearly thinks he is.

What they want to happen: Regaining the title would be great but as ever it’s the Champions League they want, hence the appointment of Ancelotti.

Nightmare scenario: Ancelotti proves more Scolari then Hiddink.

Plan A: Power and skill across the pitch. Ancelotti seems to fancy a diamond formation which would place Lampard behind Drogba and Anelka. Use the full backs to provide overlapping width and rely on Terry to keep things tight at the back.

Plan B, just in case: Use Drogba as a battering ram up front and get Lampard to shoot at defenders and hope for deflections.

Predicted finish: 3rd.

Why? Unlike any of their big four rivals, Chelsea are the only ones not to have weakened with no big names leaving the club. Pretty much everyone is fit and some useful squad players have been added. So why only third? My main reason is Ancelotti himself. He’s a top manager but his skills are suited to the Champions League rather than domestic issues. He’s only won Serie A once in his managerial career with Juve and Milan and that was in 2003/04. This is quite remarkable given the players he’s had at his disposal in that time and I just worry that it will take him a while to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League.

He doesn't always win it you know.

He doesn't always win it you know.

Though Chelsea haven’t lost a Ronaldo/Alonso/Adebayor, the feted ‘marquee’ signing hasn’t arrived and a relatively old squad has another year on the clock. Too many players had poor seasons last time round and they showed their true colours by not being bothered when Scolari was there before suddenly improving once he left. Perhaps Ancelotti’s biggest challenge will be keeping John ‘Mr Chelsea even though it took me a month to say so when Man City came calling’ Terry onside. Despite one of the best squads around, you wonder about the depth in the striking department. They will be there or thereabouts but the priority is the Champions League, always has been.

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T.

The Curious Transfer of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

18/07/2009

Here’s a transfer that’s got me a bit confused. Barcelona are set to give Inter Samuel Eto’o, Alex Hleb on loan for a year AND a fee in the region of £35 million in exchange for the services of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Now I don’t really understand the thinking behind this for many reasons. Not least the valuation. This sees Inter getting around €60 million worth for Zlatan putting him on a par with Kaka in terms of fee.

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Now I know Eto’o is seen as a bit of a disruptive influence and shows no signs of extending the one year remaining on his contract but surely Barca could do better than giving both him and €40m for Zlatan. Famously called “the most overrated player in world football” by Martin O’Neill during the last World Cup, I’ve never understood why he is valued so highly. Yes he makes for a great Youtube compilation (see below) due to his capability for the ridiculous and admittedly he scored 29 goals last year (25 in Serie A), but he has always struck me as something of a flat-track bully who doesn’t do it in the big Champions League games or international tournaments.

Barcelona’s attack hardly needs strengthening after last seasons 158 goals in all comps though I imagine Zlatan (or indeed the rumoured David Villa) would give them more of a hold up option for Henry and Messi to play off. They would be better off getting a new goalkeeper and perhaps some defensive help. I can’t help thinking that having seen Real Madrid break two world records in buying Kaka and Ronaldo, Barcelona feel they have to make a similar statement. The reason that Real had to buy so much was that they were crap last season and even with this new forward line I reckon they’re still a top deep lying midfielder away from being a side that can win things (explains the Alonso interest then).

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It will be quite amusing to see how Eto’o and Mourinho work together too, given the latter’s numerous run ins with Zlatan. Eto’o is not afraid of throwing his toys out of the pram and I can imagine more than one confrontation this coming season. That said he will no doubt still score plenty of goals but it will be an entertaining 09/10 at the San Siro. Hleb as well (funny how quickly he’s become irrelevant) doesn’t strike me a Mourinho player and given that Guardiola didn’t trust him by the season’s end I can’t think Jose will either.

crazy-eto'o

Crazy Eto'o

All in all Inter will be laughing all the way to the bank, while Barcelona will wonder at some point next April why they are on the wrong end of a Champions League exit thanks to an overrated striker who couldn’t score in a big game.

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T.

Champions League Quarter Final, Second Leg Preview – Porto vs Man Utd

15/04/2009

If I was a Man Utd fan I’d be a little concerned about tonight’s game at Estadio do Dragao against Porto. Following a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford, Fergie’s side have somewhat of an uphill battle tonight in my opinion. Consider the following:


  • In eleven home games against English opposition Porto have never lost.
  • Of their nine Champions League games this season Man Utd have only actually won three matches Aalborg away and Celtic and Inter at home. Only one of those teams are any good.
  • If Porto score, United need two goals which given they are the joint lowest scorers of teams remaining might prove difficult.
  • Ronaldo has one solitary goal in Europe this year, in the last round against Inter.

 

I’m not completely writing United off, there are plenty of stats that work in their favour too but essentially it’s win or bust as I don’t see a high scoring draw. Porto do have the worst defence of any quarter finalist, with just two clean sheets thus far against Arsenal and Atletico. Ferdinand will be back to play alongside Vidic at the back, thus greatly improving their chances of a clean sheet. Up front Ferguson will have both Rooney and Berbatov available, important given they both have four Champions League goals this season. Tevez will be available from the bench as well as Macheda who has won two consecutive league games. I reckon much will depend on Michael Carrick’s ability to control things from midfield. I’m a bit undecided about him truth be told. He seems like the kind of player who plays well when United win convincingly but is rarely the guy who drives them to a gritty victory away from home. I’m willing to stand corrected by any Man Utd fans, it’s just the impression I’ve got from watching him.


 

Will it be something akin to this?

Will it be something akin to this?

 

 

Porto will do well to take heed from Chelsea’s performance last night. Though they don’t have a commanding 3-1 lead from the first leg, the advantage is with them and they won’t want to sit back and invite United forward. A goal from Lisandro or Hulk would make things very difficult for Fergie, as I’m sure he’s looking to play for a 1-0 victory. This game goes one of two ways; either United produce one their memorable European nights and are defensively solid whilst nicking the goal they need OR they are frustrated by Porto who score early and control the game whilst riling Rooney and Ronaldo into bookings and tetchy performances. If C-Ron turns it on tonight against his former rivals than I think United will sneak it. But, given how he hasn’t really performed in Europe this season (big game bottler? ahem…) I think the Portugeezer will be beaten by the Portugeezers.

  

Or more like this? (I couldn't find a decent pic of Leverkusen '02)

Or more like this? (I couldn't find a decent pic of Leverkusen '02)

 

 

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Champions League Quarter Final Preview – Man Utd vs FC Porto

07/04/2009

Preamble

When this draw was made a couple of weeks ago it seemed like Man Utd were clear favourites to progress against the Portuguese champions. Indeed that is still very much the case – you get 10/1 on a Porto win tomorrow night and 9/2 on Porto getting through full stop. Now I know United are a force to be reckoned with at home in Europe but 10/1 is an absolutely ridiculous price in a Champions League quarter final and is worth £2 of anyone’s money on Betfair. I think the bookies are underestimating Porto, especially in light of Man Utd’s somewhat dubious recent form. 

Fergie - much to ponder

Fergie - much to ponder

 

Squeaky bums

Whilst domestic form doesn’t necessarily always translate into European form, Fergie will be wary of being over confident. Recent defeats to Liverpool and Fulham were followed by a less than convincing win over Aston Villa at the weekend. Considering six weeks ago this side looked like they could never concede, the defence is quite shaky at the moment. This is not helped when Ferguson decides in his infinite wisdom that it’s a good idea to play Gary Neville at centre back against John Carew. The mistake was rectified in game, but not before Neville was given a torrid half hour. Rio is still out so Evans will look to form a solid base with Vidic. A clean sheet would be much appreciated, given ten have been conceded in the last five games. Further forward you’re likely to see the usual suspects in midfield and attack with Tevez likely to partner Rooney up front while in midfield you could maybe expect Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo and Park. 

 

Jose’s shadow

The last time Porto got this far, they went and won the whole tournament and the world was introduced to the Special One AKA Jose Mourinho. Indeed it was at this same stage in 2004 that they faced Man Utd and proceeded to knock them out with 1-1 draw at Old Trafford after winning the first leg. Cue Jose’s jig down the Old Trafford touchline.

Anyway, that’s all history now but Porto haven’t managed to reach the same heights since, despite winning the league three years running. They currently have a solid, counter-attacking team that has a pair of very effective strikers in Lisandro and Hulk. Both have the ability to cause the United defence some problems – Lisandro has six European goals already this campaign while Hulk is like a good version of Julio Baptista (not saying much I know). In midfield Rodriguez will pull the strings centrally and will be supported by Meireles and Gonzalez. 

Hulk - Is that him angry or happy?

Hulk - Is that him angry or happy?

 

Prediction

It will be interesting to see which Porto turn up, the one brushed aside 4-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates in the group stages or the one that classily won the return leg 2-0 (though against an understrength Gunners). In the last round Atletico were knocked out on away goals in a tight affair, but I remember from the highlights that Porto missed enough chances to have put the tie long beyond doubt. Man Utd will be hoping that following his double against Villa, Ronaldo has come into some form. He always makes sure he noticed in big games, but not always for the quality of his play. They will target the Porto keeper Helton who isn’t the most convincing and hope too that Rooney has one of his nights where everything comes off. I do think the price on Porto is too big but at the same United are justifiably favourites and will hope to take a clean sheet into the second leg, ideally topped off with two goals of their own.

 

T.

The Six Pointer – Champions League Second Round Edition

12/03/2009

Midweek European action satisfaction.

 

1. Alex Ferguson will be pleased with his side’s victory last night, given the chances Inter created. A lot of pre-game talk was about the Mourinho factor but for all his ability, he needs to have the right players as well. At Chelsea he had people like Lampard and Drogba, who you know will always produce on the big stage. Zlatan may be a wonderful player on Youtube clips who’s capable of great goals and flicks, but at the very highest level I think he falls slightly short. He had several excellent chances over the two legs and failed to take any of them. It may be a season or two before Mourinho has made the squad completely his own. United took advantage of some sloppy defending to score two headed goals and rode their luck to see out the game. They are currently favourites with the bookies but that may all change once the draw for the quarters and semis are made. 

Vieira does a great job of 'marking' Vidic...

Vieira does a great job of 'marking' Vidic...

 

2. Liverpool got lucky with refereeing decisions for the first two goals in my opinion but used it to full advantage and certainly played well enough to warrant victory. Real were shockingly bad and lack both pace and power, something Liverpool (and all the English sides for that matter) have in abundance. Ramos has done very well since coming in but he has a squad of mainly one paced players and the only one who is quick (Robben) was anonymous on Tuesday. Rafa has had a bit of a moan about his European record isn’t respected. I think it is, everyone knows that tactically he’s one of the best in Europe and in Gerrard and Torres he has two gladiators who keep going and going. Once more their title challenge has faded but I imagine they’ll come close in Europe again.

 

3. Arsenal were pretty poor against Roma, who themselves weren’t great. Juan’s early goal made for a very tense night but neither side had the quality to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Roma had a very good shout for a penalty when Clichy fouled Motta at the end of the first half, and Julio Baptista missed an absolute sitter late in the second. It soon became clear that the match was destined for penalties and the shootout was quite strange. For the first time in a long time there wasn’t a single player I was fully confident of scoring, not even RVP. Thankfully only Eduardo missed for Arsenal and series of average penalties (interspersed with quality ones from Totti and the Beast) were taken before Tonetto blasted the deciding one over the bar. Wenger will be thankful that Fabregas and Adebayor will be back for the quarter finals, providing much needed guile in midfield and presence up front. They’ll want to take more of their chances at home too, as the next opponents are unlikely to be as forgiving as Roma.

We have lift off...

We have lift off...

 

4. Barcelona were efficient in taking apart a Lyon side who have never managed to turn French dominance into European success. Seven successive league titles have yet to produce a Champions League campaign that went beyond the quarter finals and you wonder if they can even manage that in coming seasons with Juninho getting older and Benzema likely to leave in the next year or two. Barca meanwhile seem to have rediscovered their form following a little domestic blip. Their defence is a lot better this season and they have the firepower to score against anyone, Henry in particular showing he still has it with his 50th Champions League goal. The one question mark that remains is goalkeeper Victor Valdes, a player I’m amazed is first choice for them. He’s the kind of player that is never far away from a mistake and I suspect if Barcelona get knocked out, he will have something to do with it. Just imagine if someone of the caliber of Casillas played for them instead… 

 

5. Despite Bayern racking up a record 12-1 aggregate victory over Sporting, I don’t think they’re a team to be feared in the quarter finals. They’ve been inconsistent all season and rely too much on star player Franck Ribery. I’m not convinced Klinsmann has the tactical nous to take on the wiser heads remaining in the quarter finals, let alone the players.

 

6. Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have both been going on record about how it’s bad that English clubs are dominating at the moment. That is true to an extent but it’s no different to when Italian and Spanish teams both had periods of dominance and English clubs failed each year. Let’s not forget that even with Man United and Liverpool’s recent victories, English clubs have only won the tournament three times since the Champions League format was introduced in 1992/3. That’s one behind Spanish and Italian teams. Bearing in mind no one has retained the trophy since the new format came in, I think that as long as you’re getting different winners every year then there isn’t too much of an issue. I’m sure next week’s draw will see at least one all English pairing in the quarter finals anyway.

Remember these guys?

Remember these guys?

 

There’s more analysis to follow from P.

 

T.


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