musical chairs

WSOTP - Blog - Musical Chairs.fw

If someone asks one to think of soccer, most people will envision the actual acts of players running about a field and kicking around of a ball. Some, too, might envisage the electric atmospheres that supporters often bring to games. But I’d wager few immediately visualize the managers standing on the touchlines when you ask them to think about the sport.

Unless you’re talking about the 2015/16 season, that is.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but managers are all the rage these days. Open up the papers or glance at your website of choice, and you’re likely to find just as likely to see the man who picks the team each weekend staring back at you as you are the star names they’re picking.

Not that managers getting attention is a particularly new thing. For those bosses steering their clubs in the wrong direction, there’s always the sack watch to keep an eye on. Sir Alex has been making headlines of his own for ages. And there was a great little spell a few years back where Mourinho, Ferguson, Wenger and Benitez were regularly exchanging barbs with one another in the press.

But unlike in most years past, of what’s transpired of the 2015/16 season so far, the spotlight has been most brightly shone on the managers.

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pic of the week 12/28-1/3

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WSOTP-JamesRodriguezPolice

That Real Madrid’s Colombian midfielder James RodrÍguez was pulled over for speeding on his way to training isn’t really news in itself. Plenty of professional footballers have been busted for driving their multi-million dollar vehicles at or around the sound barrier — James himself was reportedly pulled over for driving upwards of 125 mph — in fact, it seems like it happens in Spain more than anywhere else.

What does make James’ incident from the weekend so different is that he led Spanish authorities on a mini-high speed chase in the process. The police followed the Colombian for nearly 4 miles with lights flashing and sirens blaring, but Ha-Mes insisted he didn’t notice them or hear them. Sure you didn’t. But if you think that’s bad, listen to James’ explanation for why he was driving so fast to begin with. Initially, he explained he was simply late for training. But realizing that was a pretty crap excuse, he changed his mind to say it was because he feared he was being chased by kidnappers. Umm, this is Madrid dude… not Bogotá.

Not that his bogus excuses will really affect anything. At worst, James will end up with his license suspended for a year and have to pay a paltry fine. And when you’re a millionaire athlete playing for one of the world’s wealthiest clubs, that’s like the least inconvenient thing ever. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if club sponsor Audi paid James to get them some prime back page exposure.

ten words or less #115

WSOTP - Van Gaal Toast

It’s the final day of 2015, and is my yearly tradition, I can’t help but feel a bit of melancholy. Looking back over the previous 12 months, it’s hard not to feel that way: 2015 was another great year for us here at WSOTP.

Our podcast traffic has doubled in the last year. We helped to host more events than ever before, including another successful World Cup watch party on Cincinnati’s Fountain Square. I was lucky enough to attend the MLS All-Star Game in Denver, which had the added bonus of also featuring my beloved Tottenham Hotspur. I also had the privilege of not only getting to work my first ever MLS Cup Final as media, but also attend my first ever MLS Cup Final — though I was admittedly a bit bummed to see my Columbus Crew side stumble at the finish line. I also nabbed two of my biggest ever scoops during 2015, both pertaining to the arrival of a new well-backed USL franchise in my hometown of Cincinnati. And even more mind-blowing, I had the honor of getting to help resurrect a professional team I supported as a kid by designing it’s crest.

Those are just a few of the highlights — there was a lot I left out. And when you get to experience that much in a single calendar year, there’s always the concern that the next year won’t live up to this one.

Rest assured, we’re doing our damnedest to make sure that doesn’t happen. More guests are being planned for the Pondcast. We’re plotting some further interviews for the website to bring even deeper insight into the American game, some new merch could be going up in the store in the near future… and we might even have a few more surprises in the works, too.

But as always, thanks to all of you who stopped by throughout 2015. We never would have been able to achieve so much without your eyes, ears and friendships. Cheers.

A fascinating story on East Germany’s final match. – bbc.com

I’d be willing to bring back Blatter for this. – sportingintelligence.com

And you think your boss is an ass… – skysports.com

Doubt I’d be this cool if in his situation. – whoateallthepies.tv
(Courtesy of Lippadona) 

Sadly, this isn’t that unrealistic of a response for FIFA. – theonion.com

MLS exodus to LigaMX a good thing? Maybe. – goal.com

“Though we play him constantly, we don’t really want him.” – football-italia.net

Be right back, spending next two hours in the driveway. – youtube.com

Indeed, geography can dictate philosophy. – mirror.co.uk

I’m devastated for Canales, but take a hint and retire. – espnfc.com

ten words or less #114

The words have again slowed to a trickle here at WSOTP recently, and as I usually do, I’m plugging the hole with another links round up. It’s not that there isn’t plenty to write about — I have a really long list of items that I’d like to get to — I just haven’t had the time  to do so lately. But trust that I have still been hard at work on a number of projects behind the scenes that will hopefully see the light of day in the near future. And new #Pondcasts are still dropping regularly on Tuesdays, so we’re not leaving you totally deprived of WSOTP’s perspective — check back tomorrow for our latest episode!

In the mean time, I hope you feel satisfied with these interesting links from around the world of soccer.

Why haven’t you signed up for our FIFA Tournament yet? – wrongsideofthepond.com

Sepp Blatter is clearly an old, delusional man. – tass.ru

While awesome in theory, can the players take it on? – bloomberg.com

Could MLS be over doing it on social media? – helltownbeer.com

And you thought your last match’s referee was a prick. – mirror.co.uk

Are Getafe about to get Wimbledon-ed? – as.com

The American lower leagues are experiencing some growing pains.
– theouterdrive.wordpress.com (FYI: audio Link)

You rarely hear about player’s fandom these days. – theguardian.com

Zlatan to Miami in 2017? The team start in 2018… – nbcsports.com

A deeper (historical) look at MLS’ new salary data. – philly.com

ten words of less #108

A weekend of outrageous goals on both sides of the pond has me feeling a little like I have a football hangover. While there’s no doubt that I enjoyed myself and all of the breathtaking strikes, I definitely over indulged this weekend, too. Attempting to sit down and write last night, my mind felt like it was stuffed so full that I couldn’t even crank out coherent sentences. I’m not even sure that what I’m writing right now is readable — it seems like it is, right now anyway. So while I’m waiting for my brain to gain back some of its halfway decent writing ability, I present to you a sampling of other people’s works that I found enjoyable over the last week or so.

And stay tuned later today, as we’ll have the latest Pondcast up for your listening enjoyment, too.

The enigma that was Guti. Fantastic read. – thesefootballtimes.net

Who leaves first their club first: Sterling or Kane? – telegraph.co.uk

Cardiff City get another makeover their fans will gladly take. – designfootball.com

Time lapse video of San Jose’s Avaya Stadium being built. – theoriginalwinger.com

Box prices at Old Trafford are actually pretty reasonable. – reddit.com/r/soccer
Courtesy of user ‘Requiem01’

A unique perspective on Klinsmann’s approach. –  fusion.net

From no starts until November, to captain by April. – nbcsports.com

Photographic evidence of football’s awkward past. – guardian.com
Props to my cousin, Hunter, for sharing.

Digging the design of this new site. – whereisfootball.com

All in on FC Instagram in the Social Network League. – juanfootball.com

ten words or less #106

ClintDempsey

If you haven’t noticed, things have been pretty busy around these parts lately. Podcats have been coming out rather frequently. There’s been an uptick in original written pieces lately, too. We’ve gotten back into hosting events as well, as was evident with our Derby Saturday watch parties at our favorite soccer bar — Rhinehaus — here in Cincinnati. And believe it or not, the results of our WSOTP Promotion & Relegation Survey should start filtering out here soon too.

We hope to keep the content continuing to stream out here on a more regular basis, but as you might expect, we can’t give you original stuff quite every day. So to keep you entertained in the mean time — as if the numerous league, cup and preseason matches going on right now around the globe and a new US kit to complain about weren’t enough — here’s another sampling of our favorite stories from around the web over the last week or so.

WSOTP tabbed as “MLS blog to read ahead 2015 season”. – dranandvora.com

The Premier League TV deal forcing others to take action. – espnfc.com

USL has that ambition bug. – americansoccernow.com

Spurs rightfully made to pay for a prior sin. – bbc.com

Deuce is too old, but Dom Dwyer could work… – theoriginalwinger.com

There’s a lot to the Arrigo Sacchi racism comments. – theguardian.com

So does Barça like Cincinnati for it’s talent… or money? – cincinnati.com

 Cue Catalunyan outrage. – football-shirts.co.uk

Free agency is inevitable. The league needs it. – prostamerika.com

David Bentley is still playing… just not as you’d think. – independent.ie

the reasons for my nightmares

WSOTP - Blog - Balei Close Up.fw

For those who have followed Wrong Side of Pond for any length of time longer than a week or two, you’re probably well aware of my deep love for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Longer-time followers are probably also familiar with my obsession with former Lillywhites star and current Real Madrid galáctico Gareth Bale.

Admittedly, it was pretty rough watching Bale depart for the Spanish capital two seasons ago. Okay, it downright sucked. But given time, it’s at least been a pill that could swallow.

I understand Bale’s ambition to play for arguably the greatest club of all time. He “dreamed” of playing for them as a schoolboy. Since his move to Iberia, he’s achieved tremendous success too. Those successes have ranged from seemingly less impressive feats such as holding down a spot in their starting XI — a much harder task at Madrid than it might seem — to scoring the winning goal to help Madrid lift their long-sought tenth Champions League trophy. Too, it’s not like he went to a direct rival and Spurs did receive a pleasant sum of Euros for parting ways with him. So for all of those reasons, I’ve been able to accept his successes even though he’s not been enjoying them while wearing a Spurs’ shirt.

However, with rumors of Bale moving on to Manchester United refusing to go away, I’ll admit that’s a pill I’m less inclined to take.

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pic of the week 12/29-1/4

Fernando Torres Unveiled

Look at that picture. Just look at it for a second longer, too.

That is a man unburdened. That is a player who has long felt pain, but is feeling the warmth of the sun for the first time in ages. That is the reaction of a man who’s scaled unbelievable heights, then suffered through unbelievable lows before eventually finding his way home into the open arms of some 45,000 who love him unconditionally.

Fernando Torres has been the butt of many jokes in this space and countless others. Some of it may well have been deserved, but much of it probably wasn’t. Injuries, bad luck and mismanagement could have easily shouldered some of the scorn he’s received — but they rarely do. Yet it’s still easy to forget that Torres was likely the finest striker on the planet in 2007/2008. Even during the next two injury-hit campaigns, he was still putting up ridiculous numbers despite limited showings. And though he’s been far off that form since, I can’t help but feel like there’s never been a player more deserving of that kind of support. To get a fresh start where you’re already adored? To go home? He built his name there. He rescued them from La Segunda. And, in a small way, he actually helped set Atlético Madrid on the path to being the reigning Spanish champions that they are today too.

This particular quote from /r/soccer user AtletiCampeon captured the emotion best: “Torres brought us back, we will bring him back as well.”

If nothing else, for Fernando’s sake, I hope they do.

mr. invisible

WSOTP - Blog - Ancelotti Close Up.fw

If I asked a group of fans to name the top active manager in football today, what names would you expect to see picked?

I’d expect we would see an avalanche of responses for José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. And rightly so: both managers have produced incredible results over the last five or so years. I’d hope Atlético’s Diego Simeone would get a few votes. And I’d wager Dortmund’s Jürgen Klopp would get a few too — though given his side’s disastrous form, probably not as many as a year or two ago. Jogi Löw or Vicente Del Bosque? Ok. Manuel Pelligrini or Louis Van Gaal? Maybe. Hell, a few naive Arsenal supporters might even still be willing to throw Arsène Wenger out there, but that number is likely dwindling too. Jürgen Klinsmann? I kid, I kid.

But there’s one name I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he received little to no votes: current Real Madrid supremo, Carlo Ancelotti.

My reasons for believing that aren’t just anecdotal either. I’ve had literally had the hypothetical discussion above several times before. And rarely ever does Ancelotti’s name come up. Which is odd, because the guy’s track record is pretty damn impressive.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 11

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 11

We go around the world in 68 minutes on the latest edition of the podcast, as there was football aplenty to chat about. The Premier League was there to keep us busy as usual — in particular a surprise West Ham side and an unpredictably entertaining Chelsea-Manchester United match. El Clásico also got a run out, as did the Champions League fixtures from last week. Of course we had to make room to talk about the MLS Playoffs and end of season fixtures, too. And we even still had time to fit in our normal ‘Winners & Wankers’, ‘Fulham Watch’ and listener question segments. So buckle up and hang on… there’s a lot to football to digest in this week’s pod.

Also, don’t forget that if YOU have questions or topics you want us to touch on in future recordings, drop us an email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, tweet us or write it on our Facebook wall using the links at the bottom of the page.

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