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.
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.
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.
After getting a reprieve during the World Cup, the WSOTP Pic of the Week series makes its return in grand fashion. In fact, its resurrection is so grand that you could even call it a black tie affair. Well, that’s at least what Spanish Segunda B side Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa thought, as they debuted their brand new “tuxedo kit” to be worn for the 2014/2015 campaign last week.
Such was the excitement at the club for the new shirt, you can practically feel the disdain on the faces of Cultural staff forced to make an appearance at the press conference announcing the kit. From the forced smile of the player wearing the kit, to the complete lack of elation from anyone else in the picture, you could imagine the only person happy to see this kit debut is the fashion naive sucker who designed it — and I would imagine that’s the dude in red in the middle.
Fans of Cultural can take heart in knowing they’re not the only side in Spain that’s been stricken with a horrendous kit in recent times. In fact, fellow Segunda B side La Hoya Lorca made an appearance last year in this space for their god awful broccoli kit. Though in a country where this was considered fashionable, none of us should really be that surprised.
after taking a week off for vacation, i’m diving back into the blog with the latest stop on the WSOTP stadium guide tour: DC’s RFK stadium.
Ah vacation… you were much needed. After a month of World Cup to digest, my brain and Twitter feed certainly needed the rest. So after spending a week with my family on an isolated lake in South Carolina, I’m now back and ready to dip my foot into the pools of world football once again.
But instead of just easing back into things, I’m kicking things off with a bang. Tonight I’ll be making my next WSOTP MLS Stadium Guide stop by the above pictured RFK stadium in our nation’s capital to watch the Eastern Conference leading DC United take on a surprise Chivas USA side that’s punching well above expectations. You can expect a full detailed write-up to visiting the league’s oldest — and possibly most historic — stadium later this week.
In the mean time, here are a collection of some of my favorite links from the last few weeks to tide you over.
This week’s edition of Pic of the Week comes a day later than normal thanks to a much needed break away from the internet during the Memorial Day holiday here in the US, but picking it couldn’t have been any easier for me. And the reason for selecting a shot of Gareth Bale scoring the game-winning, Champions League-title-clenching goal are many.
For one, despite his sale to Real Madrid last summer, the former Tottenham fullback/winger/attacking menace remains my favorite player. Stomaching his sale — and his seven “replacements” fumbling along at White Hart Lane — has been tough for sure, but my joy in seeing him score such an important goal on such a grand stage couldn’t have been any more intense. I tweeted at the time “I know he doesn’t play for us anymore, but as far as I’m concerned, Bale scored that goal for #Spurs too”… to which a mountain of Arsenal fans latched on to and laughed at. But with Tottenham playing such a vital roll in his development, and me following his career since his days at Southampton, it sure felt that way. Furthermore, I’m also a quiet Real Madrid fan, and was happy to see the club finally clinch their long-awaited 10th European Cup — La Décima. Oh, and the Welshman’s headed finish might possibly be the most perfectly placed upper-90 shot I’ve ever seen — almost exactly the same distance from the post and crossbar.
Anyway, congratulations to Gareth. You might not be at Spurs any longer, but you’ll forever be draped in lillywhite to me.
yes, that is pizza shaved into dominic oduro’s head.
I have to admit that I have been a really lousy writer lately. The last full length article I wrote was published over two weeks ago, and it was nearly a fortnight in between that one and the article previous to it. Yeah, I’ve been giving you guys semi-regular Pic of the Week posts, the occasional Ten Words or Less, and a smattering of new shirts and other posts bloggings — not to mention Jeremy and I have continued to deliver our weekly podcast — but I’ve really gotten away from what this site was originally all about: the writing. For those of you who come here for that, I’ll aim to deliver in the near future and thanks for your patience.
That said, I have been working behind the scenes on some really big projects. Need some proof? How about the just-released 2014 NPSL and WPSL schedule posters for the Cincinnati Saints, which I had the privilege of designing. And tomorrow, the Saints and I will also be revealing an even bigger announcement that has been in the works for some time now. It’s seriously huge, so be sure to stay tuned.
In the mean time, below is a choice selection of my favorite links from the past week or so to hold you over.
As a dedicated fan of the beautiful game, no matter who you support, there are a number of dates each year that just about all of us circles on our calendars as “can’t miss” matches.
while normally a really exciting affair, the lead up to the first of this year’s clasicos has been unusually quiet… and even boring if you ask san iker.
The obvious ones are the dates of major international finals, Europe’s Champions League final, and South America’s Copa Libertadores. There are also a number of club rivalry matches — the so called “derbies” — that get the same treatment. Even if you don’t support the teams battling it out, the history and passion wrapped up in the matches often make them extremely entertaining affairs. Notable examples are the Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter, the Superclásico contested between River Plate and Boca Juniors, the currently-muted Old Firm Derby between Rangers and Celtic, and more recently the Manchester Derby between United and City.
However, the crown jewel of rivalries has to be Spain’s El Clásico.
With apologies to a very excellent Atlético Madrid side, Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two best sides on the Iberian peninsula in both a historical and modern context. Between them, the two European giants have won 53 La Liga titles, 44 Copa del Reys, and 13 European Cups. That said, the rivalry runs far deeper than just bulging trophy cabinets. It also has deep roots in the highly charged cultural and political tug of war between the Catalonia and Castile regions of the country.
And this weekend, we all have the privilege of watching the first Clásico of the season as Real visits Barça’s cavernous Camp Nou. Oddly though, the hype in the lead up to this match seems dull in comparison to years past.
Often times, picking a “Pic of the Week” is a snap: one ridiculous picture will go viral in the previous week, making it the obvious choice. But occasionally, there are several pictures that I’d be more than happy to see take the prize. Such was the case this week, as I nearly went with a picture of Luis Suárez thinking it was a good idea to bring his 10-day old son out onto the pitch at Anfield for warm ups on Saturday. A narrow loss for Luis, but I’d bank on him being back here sooner rather than later.
Instead, I opted for this pre-match team picture from Spanish Segunda B side La Hoya Lorca, as they debuted their brand new broccoli-themed away kits this weekend. Yes, you read that correctly. Broccoli. And believe it or not, this is actually their second savoy-flavored uniform, as they trotted out in one several times last term.
Sure, it’s nice that the club are paying homage to the local Murcia region’s agricultural heritage and primary export. And they’ve earned a solid nickname of El Brócoli Mecánico – or “the Clockwork Broccoli” — from rocking them, too. But I can’t imagine their hue makes finding teammates on the pitch any easier. And I’d also guess they’ve had a serious drop off in the number of children attending matches, too.
this is what it looks like when £166 million pounds worth of footballers get together.
I’ve been a little USA-Mexico heavy in this space for the last week or so, and understandably so. And predictably, a little bit of that spills over into this weeks TWOL posting. If you’re feeling a little burnt out on the subject, don’t worry… there’s still a further six links below that aren’t related to that match in any way. So the #USAvMEX talk is slowly dying down, if nothing else. And don’t worry, there’s more coming on the blog tomorrow that doesn’t have anything to do with it either.
However, if you’re wanting even more of the US Soccer coverage, be sure to check out Episode 5 of the WSOTP Pod — a.k.a. the “Dos A Cero Special” — and you can hear all my thoughts on all of the festivities that surrounded the epic match in Columbus.