Category Archives: Uncategorized

Unfortunately, It’s That Time of Year

The September international break is universally despised. It inaugurates a new round of boring qualifiers, rooney norwaybrings the daily news cycle to a standstill, and forces fans to wait two weeks to see their teams’ deadline-day signings in action. Moreover, most of the games take place on Monday or Tuesday, so the first weekend of September is almost always devoid of soccer.

During this summer’s World Cup, sports fans stayed glued to the television as star players competed for a prestigious title. Last week, England played Norway in a half-empty Wembley stadium, and virtually no one watched on TV. That’s the great irony of international soccer: for a few weeks every four years, it attracts hundreds of millions of viewers, many of whom aren’t even soccer fans – but the rest of the time, it’s kind of a drag.

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The Great Manchester United Exodus Is Here. And About Time, Too.

Tomorrow is the last day of the summer transfer window, and the Great Manchester United Exodus is finally nani sportinggaining momentum. Last week, Luis Nani returned to Sporting Lisbon – though, thanks to Ed Woodward’s world-class negotiating, United still pays his wages. Earlier today, Shinji Kagawa re-signed for Borussia Dortmund. Javier Hernandez is about to complete a loan move to Real Madrid. Tom Cleverley looks set to join Aston Villa, where, hopefully, his “lack of ability and beady little eyes” won’t provoke quite so much outrage.

Woodward often delays important business until the end of the window. But I kind of doubt Arturo Vidal will leave Italian champions Juventus for a team that recently drew 0-0 with Burnley. So this year, my deadline-eve wish is rather modest. I want the long-overdue GMUE to keep rolling along.

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Someone Should Give Malky Mackay A Stress Ball

Earlier this week, Malky Mackay pulled out of the running for the Crystal Palace job after his former club, mackay phoneCardiff City, told the Football Association about his penchant for racist, sexist and homophobic text messages. The Daily Mail managed to dig up a few especially egregious examples.

But the story doesn’t end there. In an official statement, the League Managers Association, essentially a coaches’ union, insisted that Mackay merely engaged in “friendly text message banter” and that (here’s my favorite part) he “felt under great pressure” at the time.

I suppose different coaches handle stress in different ways. David Moyes jogs around the training ground. Arsene Wenger plays with his zipper. Malky Mackay makes offensive remarks about Jews and South Koreans.

I think Mackay should invest in a malleable toy.

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Surrendering the Moral High Ground

Until recently, Barcelona was not only the most successful team in European soccer; it was also thesuarez barca most virtuous. UNICEF’s logo was emblazoned on its jerseys. Its coach, Pep Guardiola, won admirers simply for not being Jose Mourinho. In 2011, longtime captain Carlos Puyol let his teammate Eric Abidal, who had been treated for cancer, lift the Champions League trophy at Wembley.

But as Barcelona’s dominance has eroded – last season, the team didn’t win a single trophy – the club has gradually surrendered its moral high ground. I don’t need to remind you that Luis Suarez made his Barca debut on Monday. Or that a Qatari airline now sponsors the team’s jerseys. Or that Lionel Messi may have committed tax fraud.

Earlier today, FIFA upheld the two-year transfer ban it imposed on Barcelona in April. Apparently, while we reveled in the talents of homegrown stars like Xavi and Iniesta, Barca was illegally importing underage players to its academy. I am thoroughly disillusioned.

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Maybe David Moyes Wasn’t United’s Only Problem

David Moyes chose a good day to complain about how Manchester United treated him. This morning’s Mail moyes unitedon Sunday quotes Moyes saying, “I don’t feel I was given time to succeed or fail” at Old Trafford. Yesterday, Louis van Gaal’s back-three-ified United lost 2-1 to Swansea in a game depressingly reminiscent of, erm, last season’s home defeat to Swansea. Meanwhile, Ed Woodward, United’s chief executive, has just two weeks to complete 150 million pounds’ worth of transfer deals. We have been here before. It didn’t end well.

Somewhere in Cheshire, Moyes is hooting with laughter.

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Italy Can’t Kick Racism Out of FIGC Presidency, Let Alone Football

Racism is a major problem in Italian football – just ask Mario Balotelli, who fled Italy the first chance Carlo Tavecchiohe got, only to return three years later to escape the not-racist-but-still-pretty-awful English press.

That problem just got a whole lot worse: Earlier today, Carlo Tavecchio, a bona fide racist, was appointed president of the Italian Football Federation. In July, Tavecchio said he hopes to strengthen the rules governing non-EU players, so that Africans “who previously ate bananas” can’t insinuate themselves into Serie A.

Tavecchio won 63 percent of the vote. I think it’s time for Balotelli to move back to England.

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Pep Guardiola Gets Mad, Commits Crime of Century

Soccer fans get really upset when players and coaches don’t shake hands with the other team. Remember the guadiola wagWayne Bridge-John Terry incident, when romantic intrigue spilled onto the playing field? Remember the Rio Ferdinand-John Terry incident, when brotherly solidarity compelled Rio to eschew the traditional pre-match greeting? (It’s amazing how many players have spurned Terry’s outstretched hand.) And remember the days when, every time Manchester United played Liverpool, Fox would skip a commercial break in case Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez started slugging each other?

The first #handshakegate of the new season comes from a surprising source: Pep Guardiola, the anti-Mourinho, the guy widely regarded as the classiest manager in European soccer. At the end of Wednesday’s MLS All-Star game, Guardiola refused to shake hands with MLS coach Caleb Porter, because he resented the All-Stars’ aggressive tackling.

Cue the usual sanctimony. “Poor form from the Bayern coaching staff,” Grant Wahl tweeted. “You don’t deserve a Champions League,” added another user. Before long, #disgrace was trending.

In other news, the Premier League’s new concussion protocol does not empower independent doctors to decide whether injured players should reenter the game. It’s time we started complaining about an actual disgrace.

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We Are The Champions (Of A Meaningless Pre-Season Tournament)

Last night, Manchester United won the Guinness International Champions Cup – or the Guinness Cup, asguinness cup television commentators are instructed to call it – even though the team isn’t actually a champion. Liverpool, which lost 3-1 to United in the ICC final, isn’t a champion either. In fact, of the eight teams that entered the tournament, only three won trophies last season.

This obvious inconsistency left Fox, the network that broadcast yesterday’s final, with a difficult task: to convince viewers that the game really meant something, that it was more than just an excuse for a pre-season fireworks show. JP Dellacamera pointed out that as the players lined up in the tunnel, they eschewed pre-match greetings and instead stared straight ahead, focussed on the job at hand. Keith Costigan kept insisting that the match represented Javier Hernandez’s last chance to impress Louis van Gaal before next week’s cuts. And Warren Barton touched on the same themes – bravery, spirit, intensity – that animate his analysis (if “animate” and “analysis” are even the right words) of the Champions League.

It was both kind of sad and kind of funny. It was, in short, vintage Fox.

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Join In For The Hat Trick’s FPL Mini-League

Last month, in an article about the return of the official Fantasy Premier League game, I promised an In For fantasy plThe Hat Trick mini-league.

Well, here you go: Log onto the Premier League website, type in the mini-league code 831717-201538, and join me for a season of frustration.

Let’s all be mediocre together.

 

Cristiano vs. Dude from RI: Who Is The True CR7?

Cristiano Ronaldo has spent the last decade speeding past international defenders. But now, according to cr7Reuters, he may finally have encountered an insurmountable obstacle: United States trademark law. Rhode Island-based entrepreneur Christopher Renzi says he trademarked Ronaldo’s CR7 moniker in 2009, and he’s suing in federal court to prevent JBS Textile Group, the company that manufactures Ronaldo’s clothing line, from selling CR7-branded underwear in the US.

Renzi also has a clothing line, but he’s best known for his exercise app, the “CR7 Workout,” which he promises will get you in shape in just a matter of weeks – so that “when your friends challenge you to do 50 push-ups, you can say…‘No sweat!’”

Interesting. I know of a different Ronaldo who might benefit from Renzi’s fitness regime…

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