Tag Archives: everton

Saying Goodbye To English Soccer’s Long-Serving Scotsmen

On Wednesday evening, when Aston Villa finally sacked manager Paul Lambert, the Paul Lambert Aston VillaPremier League lost its one remaining Scottish coach. Since the 1950s, gruff Scottish geniuses have been a fixture in English soccer, engineering memorable league campaigns and delivering pithy sound bites. Lambert, a mediocre coach with all the charisma of a wrinkled warm-up bib, has little in common with Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and Sir Alex Ferguson. But his sacking, the inevitable result of one of the longest goalless streaks in Villa’s history, carries symbolic weight. Over the last few years, as long-serving coaches like Shankly and Ferguson have become increasingly rare, what might be termed the “Scottish model” of sustained team-building, in which a visionary manager molds a squad over the course of several seasons, has given way to a new reality: a cutthroat league in which players and coaches never stay at one club for very long.

The Premier League’s growing volatility is especially pronounced at Manchester United, once a bastion of stability in the rapidly changing landscape of English soccer. In 2013, after 25 years in the Old Trafford dugout, Ferguson retired from coaching, and his final act as United manager was to anoint fellow Scotsman David Moyes as his successor. Ferguson, who saw traces of his own Glaswegian toughness in Moyes’ no-nonsense coaching philosophy, naively assumed that fans and journalists would wait patiently for the ex-Everton manager to blossom into Sir Alex 2.0. They didn’t, and less than a year later, Moyes was fired.

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How Will The FA Respond To The Hugo Lloris Controversy?

Last Sunday, at the end of Tottenham’s 0-0 draw with Everton, Romelu Lukaku’s knee – which, for the Hugo Lloris Tottenham Hotspurrecord, is just as big as the rest of his body – crashed into Hugo Lloris’ head. (Despite Andre Villas-Boas’ complaints and Roberto Martinez’s suspicious attempts to change the subject , the collision was almost certainly accidental.) Lloris was knocked out, Spurs medics rushed onto the field to treat him, second-string goalkeeper Brad Friedel prepared to enter the game…and then, somehow, Lloris recovered. He got up and played the final ten minutes, sealing his seventh clean sheet of the season. On the sidelines, Friedel started to chuckle  – that French bastard is so frickin’ tough!

Villas-Boas insists that Lloris felt fine and that the Spurs medical team, the same doctors who saved Fabrice Muamba’s life, decided there was no reason he shouldn’t continue playing. FIFPRO, the world players’ union; the PFA; and even the House of Commons quickly denounced the episode, however, and on Thursday Labour MP Chris Bryant called for “an urgent debate as soon as possible on the dangers of concussion in sport.”

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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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Age of the Deuce

The usual line on Clint Dempsey is that he’s underappreciated in his home country – that, in the United States, it’s Clint DempseyLandon Donovan, not Dempsey, who symbolizes a sport many Americans don’t take very seriously. There’s certainly something to that. Donovan’s on-and-off relationship with reality TV star Bianca Kajlich cemented his place in the wider world of American pop culture; Dempsey is an “avid fisherman.” Donovan feuded with David Beckham, then made up with him, then won a couple of trophies; during his last year at Fulham, Dempsey meshed well with Belgian midfielder Moussa Dembele.

In England, it’s another story entirely. Dempsey, regarded as one of the Premier League’s most dangerous attackers, regularly scores goals for Tottenham Hotspur. By contrast, Donovan’s forays into European football have rarely convinced – he performed well during his first loan spell at Everton, but Major League Soccer’s ridiculous transfer rules precluded a permanent move, and Tim Howard is way more fun.

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Where Will Tim Cahill Fit In?

A quick piece on Tim Cahill’s move to the New York Red Bulls…

The guy who punches corner flags is coming to MLS. That may be a reductive way to present Tim Cahill’s underrated talent, but it’s the line that New York Red Bulls fans have immediately latched onto. The LA Galaxy have a cartwheeling, machine-gun-blasting Irishman up front. Now the New York faithful, too, can enjoy an unorthodox celebration.

The Red Bulls, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference, have already done a lot of celebrating this season: they’re Major League Soccer’s second-most prolific team behind the San Jose Earthquakes, and, in Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper, they boast two of the league’s most efficient marksmen. New York are famous for their attack-oriented style, a zesty playing philosophy that ignores one of the fundamentals of modern football – defending. They’ve conceded 29 goals this season, more than any other team in the Eastern Conference’s top six. Nevertheless, the Red Bulls remain one of the favorites for this year’s MLS Cup.

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What’s Next For Andy Carroll?

Brendan Rodgers is one of an ever-increasing number of football managers devoted to the mystical Barcelona Way, the aesthetically pleasing football method that, after a couple of years of obscurity, suddenly popped into our collective consciousness in 2008. The Barcelona Way got Rodgers where he is now. Without the inspiration of Cruyff, Guardiola and company, he would never have succeeded in teaching a Swansea team composed of honest, lower-league professionals to “play football the right way.” And had Swansea employed traditional kick-and-run tactics, they would probably have been relegated. And had they been relegated, Rodgers almost certainly wouldn’t have been hired by Liverpool.

It’s a bummer for Andy Carroll that Barcelona exist.

The really frustrating thing about Andy Carroll is that he fooled us all. That six-foot something bludgeon of a center forward, that Anfield flop, that money-grubbing drunk: he had us. All of us. When he scored ten goals during the first half of the 2010/11 Premier League season, when he routinely scared the bejesus out of real-life European defenders, we all thought he was good. Not just good; good. Future-of-English-football good. Gonna-bring-home-the-2018-World-Cup good.

These days, the best you can say about Carroll is that he probably didn’t do it on purpose. No footballer can control tabloid hype. Carroll didn’t decide to have his potential international future elevated from “maybe decent” to “certainly brilliant,” The Sun decided for him. Even in his glory moment – and moment is certainly the right word — Carroll probably knew that the press was only praising him to the heavens in preparation for a precipitous trip back down.

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