The much loved — and maligned — summer transfer window will be slamming shut over the weekend, which means we’ll see a bevy of rumors either materialize into reality or fail to come to fruition. And for that reason, supporters around the globe will either be praising the arrivals of new saviors or end up cursing the chairmen for their supposedly penny-pinching ways. Rule number one over the next few days: don’t believe everything you read. Or at bare minimum, be sure to take them with a sizable grain of salt.
So with all of the stress that’s sure to come to pass over the next few days, I’m going to do my best to avoid transfer stories in this latest links round up. Keen observers will notice I did slip one in there, though we can blame its presence on me opting to take a dig at my favorite club’s rival supporters.
In the madness, dont’ forget that there’s also a full slate of European and domestic action on the docket this weekend, too. So there should be more than enough to distract you from dealings of your favorite club.
Things haven’t gone according to plan in the red half of Manchester the last couple seasons.
Sir Alex Ferguson sealed his legendary career two seasons ago with one last title before sailing off into the sunset that is the Old Trafford’s directors box. From there, the intensity of his gaze seemed to blind and break his hand-picked successor of David Moyes. Despite performing admirably with limited resources at Everton for a decade, Moyes was only able to guide more or less the same side Ferguson had guided to a title just the year before to an unthinkable seventh place finish.
Perhaps that’s a sign that Ferguson was the glue that held things together in that final season. He managed to eke out what might have been just enough to paper over the sizable cracks in the foundation, like an aging Rio Ferdinand and fading Nemanja Vidić, a weak midfield and a complete lack of depth.
Since then though, fans of the Red Devils and much of the punditry has been quick to point a thousand fingers at Moyes and the Glazers for ruining the house that Ferguson built. They provided explanations such as “Moyes wasn’t up for the stress of the job” or the “Glazers aren’t investing in the proper type of talent”.
While the first could very well be true, the second one seems a little far fetched. Looking at 2014 alone, the Glazers have approved the purchases of Juan Mata (£37.5m), Ander Herrera (£28.8m), Luke Shaw (£27m), Marcos Rojo (£16m) and now Di Maria (£63.9m). And that’s not including the £28m they authorized being spent last season on Marouane Fellaini.
So with at least one of those two common complaints now debunked, there could be another theory for explaining United’s demise that nobody seems willing to consider.
Transfers were on our minds as we recorded the third episode of the season of the WSOTP Podcast. Big names on the move, both domestically and abroad, dominated our conversation this week. And Jeremy and D.J. not only pontificate on the merits of quite a few those big ones, but also on who should and shouldn’t be making some last minute moves before the European window slams shut next week. That being in addition to the usual thoughts on the weekend action in England and America. Too, they once again nominated their Winners and Wankers from the past week and answered some questions from some of our faithful listeners. So grab a drink and saddle up for another edition of your favorite podcast.
For many MLS sides, qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League is one of the ultimate goals each season. The competition provides a chance to test themselves against the best sides in the region, play in some of the most storied venues in North and Central America and — if they can actually win the whole shebang, a feat no American club has yet managed — an opportunity to play in the yearly Club World Cup. But it’s important to remember that not every ground and opponent an MLS side might be drawn to face is exactly worth all of the hype.
Take for example Portland Timbers’ first round opponents in this season’s CCL: Guyana’s Alpha United FC. Already an oddity in CONCACAF due to the fact that the country is technically in South America, Guyana is also a country where cricket is the first love. And despite Alpha being the three-time reigning champion of the Guyana National Football League, they play their matches in the Bourda Cricket Ground.
However, the stadium itself didn’t meet CONCACAF standards, and thus they have to play their matches at the newer, larger and more modern Providence Stadium. Which is pretty ironic, considering Portland play their home matches Providence Park. Yet despite the upgrade, it still featured a humongous dirt patch — used as the cricket’s bowling and batting area — smack dab in the middle of the pitch. And as the picture tweeted out by Portland owner Merritt Paulson shows, it made for quite the rough playing surface. Luckily, the Timbers still managed to pull off a 4-1 victory in spite of the sub par surface they were forced to make their CCL debut upon.
As a Spurs fan, the last few years have been difficult.
The raised expectations over the last two to three seasons as we’ve watched Spurs try and fail to qualify again for the Champions League has been frustrating. We all got a taste of the good stuff in the 2010/11 quarterfinal run, and ever since then we — the supporters and the club — seem to have settled for nothing less. Two seasons ago, we nearly made it back but missed out thanks to Chelsea pulling off the impossible. The near miss saw Gareth Bale depart for Spain and Champions League glory last season, as we struggled to swallow the initial failure of the whole “selling Elvis to buy The Beatles” experiment.
And while there were some enjoyable moments in those almost-achievements, I have to admit the ride along wasn’t an entirely enjoyable one. It was stressful. Every match seemed do-or-die. Every dropped point seemed to sting a little more than it should.
I know I wasn’t the only one who was feeling it; even the crowd at White Hart Lane seemed to be experiencing the same nervousness. A ground that used to be known for its boisterous support suffered from an anxious hush, finger biting and fans turning on one another when things didn’t play out like any of us would have liked.
When Liverpool’s mercurial striker and leading man Luis Suárez departed for greener Catalunyan pastures this summer, it left a massive hole on the club’s squad.
Not only would they need to fill the void of the league leading goal tally that Suárez provided, but for those of us who aren’t fans of the Mereysiders, we all needed a new player to mock Liverpool supporters about. And who better to give them grief about than Mario Balotelli?
If the rumors are to be believed, Super Mario will be leaving Italy and returning to England to be the new leading man in Liverpool’s attack. I for one love this idea, because the Italian front man is a non-stop bag of laughs. Not that I want to see Liverpool sign a player of his class, but I’ll at least be guaranteed a few moments of brilliance and ridiculousness for my troubles.
And below, I narrowed down my top five reasons for why I’m looking forward to Balotelli’s return.
louis van gaal’s first match in charge of manchester united may have had him wondering, “what did i get myself into?”
The first weekend of the Premier League now in the books, Episode 2 of the season sees the guys offer their thoughts on the results and some of the surprises that worked their way in. We also take some time to pick our favorite and least favorite kits for the season — though we didn’t have time to read the entirety of listener Mel B’s epic rundown of her thoughts on the top 6 sides’ kits. Also on tap: the bounty of goals provided by the weekend MLS action, a few listeners questions answered sprinkled within, this week’s Winners and Wankers and Jeremy and D.J. fessing up to their Fantasy failures.
Back in 1994, twelve-year-old me was fascinated with all things World Cup. My parents were awesome throughout the tournament: driving us up north from Ohio to Detroit, purchasing tickets to the games, letting me watch way more TV than I was normally allowed so I could watch the others we didn’t attend. They were even cool enough to purchase me the now infamous denim kit so I could look like my hero Cobi Jones. The one thing they refused to spoil me? The amazingly futuristic boots that had their own tent at the games and were being trod about on the pitch by some of the game’s biggest names: the original Adidas Predators. And rightly so, as no 12-year-old needed a pair of boots that cost $150 — which in 2014 dollars is a now “normal” $240. But that didn’t change the fact I wanted them, and badly.
Fast forward to 2014 though, and the folks at Adidas have given me a chance fulfill my childhood dream by releasing the Predator Instinct 94. One of three retro-inspired boots released by the German athletic giants to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Predator line, all of are built on the line’s latest incarnation, the Predator Instinct. I like them all, but these stand out from the pack if for no other reason than my inner 12-year-old is screaming at me to pick them up.
It’s not an infrequent occurrence to hear someone describe soccer as their life.
For many that I know — myself included — that’s a fairly accurate statement. I run a soccer website and spend a majority of my free time watching and taking in the beautiful game. My sister and her husband are both college soccer coaches. A fair few of my friends make their livings training and working for youth clubs. And a privileged few of my acquaintances actually pay their bills by playing the beautiful game.
But it’s a rarity that you ever hear someone talk about how soccer has saved their life. Unless, that is, your name is Lawrence Cann.
Lawrence Cann is president and founder of Street Soccer USA, a non-profit that aims to “improve health, education, and employment outcomes for the most disadvantaged Americans by using sports”. Working most frequently with homeless youth and adults, the program currently operates soccer-based programs in sixteen cities around the country.
Probably best known for the team they send to the annual Homeless World Cup, SSUSA’s biggest project every year is actually the domestic Street Soccer USA Cup. At that, all sixteen cities in the program send a representative squad of program participants to take part in a national tournament.
And as it just so happens, the 2014 edition of the Street Soccer USA Cup kicks off this weekend in San Francisco.
So to help get a better understanding of everything that the SSUSA program and their annual big event does to help the disadvantaged across the country, I spoke with the Lawrence Cann to get the low down on how they’ve managed to use soccer as a vehicle for social change.
come watch the premier league with WSOTP in cincinnati.
Have you fully recovered from the World Cup yet? With the weekend marking the return of the Premier League, you better be.
Though I’ve not really had much of a break this summer thanks to the World Cup and MLS and working the TV broadcasts for the Cincinnati Saints, I’m surprisingly still amped up for the return of the world’s most popular club competition. No burnout for this guy. Yet anyway. If you need to get a preview of the season still, be sure to check out the Season 2 opening episode of the WSOTP Podcast — we’ll be sure to help get you in the mood.
As is normally the case, WSOTP will once again be helping to host an opening day watch party at Cincinnati’s Rhinehaus. Be sure to come and join us on Saturday morning, when we’ll be joined by the Lyric: Food that Rocks food truck for some delicious brunch to pair with your beer and footie.
And before I forget, here are ten of my favorite links from the last week.