Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Top Three Football Media Developments of 2013

NBC’s Premier League coverage: It’s hard to say whether NBC’s Premier League coverage has nbc premier leagueearned such widespread adulation because of Rebecca Lowe’s slick transitions between games and Robbie Earle’s clever studio analysis, or merely because the network decided not to recruit Warren Barton. I honestly don’t know, but I’m pretty certain that NBC won over a lot of doubters simply by not hiring the superhumanly stupid former defender.

The Ted Lasso video helped, too.

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Ferguson’s Mistake

Flipping through FourFourTwo’s Top 100 Players list, I kept thinking about Manchester United’s pogbamidfield. The list is pretty much a catalogue of players United should have signed or shouldn’t have sold. It was hard not to notice that Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini hadn’t made the cut. And that Michael Carrick languished in the mid-70s. And that in 64th place, making his first appearance on the annual list, was Paul Pogba.

Here’s the thing about Pogba: People knew he was going to be good. It’s not as if he flopped, Zoran Tosic-style; left Old Trafford; and then suddenly turned into the best midfielder in Serie A. United sold Pogba because he had started to believe his own hype, or at least his agent had, and Alex Ferguson wouldn’t meet his salary demands. Unlike Ravel Morrison, who has played brilliantly for West Ham this season, Pogba wasn’t lazy, or volatile, or even an alleged sex offender. He just happened to consider himself the next Patrick Vieira. Pogba signed for Juventus about a year and a half ago and has since proved that a) he may well be better than Vieira; and b) Ferguson shouldn’t have been so stingy.

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Why The Ballon d’Or Rumors Matter

Nothing better epitomizes the current state of end-of-season football awards than the trophy presented blatter picto UEFA’s Best Player in Europe. I can’t decide whether it looks more like the remains of a long-dead scoliosis victim, or a three-dimensional rendition of Rembrandt’s “Carcass of Beef.”

In a sane world, the UEFA Best Player in Europe award wouldn’t even exist. In the past, football’s two most prestigious individual awards – the Ballon d’Or, created by France Football magazine; and the official FIFA World Player of the Year title – occasionally went to different players, which most people preferred to a boring consensus. But FIFA viewed those periodic discrepancies as a disruption in the Force, and in 2010, FIFA president Sepp Blatter merged the two awards to form a new, 100 percent definitive title: the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Just a year later, however, as part of an “initiative…aimed at reviving the spirit” of the old Ballon d’Or, UEFA launched its own award, undermining the merger’s objective.

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