Monthly Archives: July 2013

Cliches about Cliches: The Wrong Way to Cover the Summer Transfer Window

Last month, Rory Smith, a writer for ESPNFC, published an article titled “Cracking the Transfer Window Code.” higuainSmith bills the piece as “a public service announcement” that will “help us pick our way through the endless night of summer,” then makes a few tired jokes about British tabloids (don’t believe everything you read, kids) and the transfer-window vernacular (United remains hopeful, despite rumors that want-away striker Wayne Rooney has set his heart on a move to Chelsea).

The football media comprises two main groups: the mischievous news outlets that report transfer gossip as if it were fact, and the “serious” sites that run Jonathan Wilson articles and care about things like, you know, ethics. Most of the year, the serious sites are the only ones worth visiting: they feature stories about tactical trends and neurotic South American coaches, while the tabloids explore the minutiae of Cristiano Ronaldo’s love life.

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In For The Hat Trick Elsewhere

Check out my latest articles:wayne rooney ugly

World Soccer Talk:

Red Flag Flying High:

Pride of all Europe:

(Right: An unflattering picture of Wayne “I’m angry and confused” Rooney.)

Barcelona is the Best and You Know It: Graham Hunter’s 400-page Fanzine

FC Barcelona’s world-famous academy is no longer based at “La Masia,” the endearingly decrepit farmhouse in which Lionel Messi of Barcelonamany of Barca’s homegrown players spent their formative years. In 2011, the club moved its training complex to the shiny, modern Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, which contains, among other things, an enormous sauna.

Over the last decade, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas have graduated from the old, La Masia-based academy, where they learned drills like rondo, a kind of monkey-in-the-middle game that promotes quick passing and intelligent pressing. The place was legendary; as Graham Hunter explains in Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World, it had become a byword for Barcelona’s unique philosophy, its more-than-a-club-ness.

In another era, the relocation might have provoked an angry backlash. But in early 2011 – a couple of months away from its second Champions League title in three seasons, cruising in La Liga, scoring brilliant goals just about every game – Barca could do no wrong. Twenty-eleven was also the year newly elected president Sandro Rosell decided that the club’s long-standing refusal to negotiate a jersey sponsorship constituted financial suicide, and quickly struck a deal with a Qatari airline – but not many people complained about that decision, either.

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Daniel Yeo on The Perils of Youth Football

This is a guest piece by Daniel Yeo.

In the last two decades, youth football has changed dramatically. It was always competitive, but football’s liverpool academyfinancial growth has made it positively ruthless.

In an interview with the BBC’s Sport Academy, Roger Skyrme claimed that it’s “ultra-competitive out there, and very few players make it at the top level.”

This brutal competitiveness has driven academies to neglect other aspects of their young players’ lives. Typically, when a 16-year-old signs up as a scholar, he spends one day during the week receiving some sort of educational support from the club and the rest either training or playing matches. This sounds promising. It’s not.

According to the PFA, of the initial intake of academy scholars, only around forty percent receive full-time contracts after two years. Even more shockingly, by the age of 21, just twenty percent play professional football at any level. Suddenly, with four out of five scholars ultimately failing to make a breakthrough in the footballing world, one school day per week seems pretty measly.

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Moments Series: Andre Smith on Tottenham vs. Young Boys

This is a guest piece by Andre Smith.

As a Tottenham fan, I have experienced many highs and lows. But one of my favourite match-day experiences has crouch young boysto be the Champions League qualifier against Young Boys at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham had finally finished in the top four, and Spurs fans like myself could finally dream about taking on the big boys in the Champions League. All we had to do was get through a qualifier against a Swiss team with a funny name – no problem, right?

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First Day of School

What do Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and Stoke have in common? New coaches.moyes

David Moyes (Manchester United): Over the past 20 years, Manchester United has consistently won domestic trophies, consistently filled stadiums, consistently scored stoppage-time goals, consistently mounted amazing comebacks, and consistently reached the Champions League elimination rounds. In short, United is awesomely predictable: both the best and the least interesting team in the Premier League.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement threatened that status quo. Jose Mourinho, the antithesis of everything that United supposedly stands for, was briefly rumored to be in line for Ferguson’s job, as was Jurgen Klopp, the up-and-coming German coach/rebel. But once it became clear that David Moyes – whose Everton team consistently finished in the top eight, consistently made the best of a meager transfer budget, and consistently caused United problems at Goodison Park – would succeed Sir Alex, Phil-Neville-to-United rumors began to outnumber Mourinho-to-United rumors and the dream of a genuinely chaotic season died.

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