ten words or less #32

potential corinthians signing bing chang bao

i'm fairly certain bing chang bao's potential signing by corinthians is not what's kept the club from being able to buy tevez.

While it’s often times more fun to squabble and make a fuss about all of the (likely) false transfer rumors that abound this time of year in the soccer blogosphere, I find it interesting that this particular TWOL posting get’s half of it’s links from mainstream media outlets. They’re not usually known for diving into the transfer drivel, so you’ll get some interesting reads this time around.

And since it’s not very often that the likes of CNN, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports get to grace the hallowed spaces on my blog, I’m sure their editors are rushing to publicize their distinguished appearances on today’s quick update.

Ronaldo, Coentrão and Mourinho… you dirty dogs. – dirty tackle @ yahoo.com

How I feel during every USMNT “home” match.” – cnn.com

Ooooh… that burns, doesn’t it Messi? Doesn’t it!?!? - whoateallthepies.co.uk

Signing a rubbish player probably won’t catch the Chinese market. – ojogobonito.com

Nobody on the FIFA executive committee gets dirty money. – nytimes.com

The typical American soccer fan? I hope not. – reddit.com/user/devineman

Yet nobody wondered when decent-named players signed in Turkey. – si.com

A brilliant piece on the state of the women’s game. – foxsports.com

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wrong side XI: holding center mid

this is part VII in the “wrong side XI” series, where i’ll be selecting my very own starting eleven, assuming of course that i could choose any player from any team in the world. you can read the rules i’ll be following to make my team selection, and what formation i’ll be squeezing them into, on the first post in the series.

three spaniards, a turk and an italian battle it out for my midfield maestro role.

Since we’ve already talked about the two positions I’ve played for most of my life (wing back and center back), I figured it would be best to start off the midfield lists with the position I always wanted to play growing up: holding central midfield.

Why did I want to be the holding mid? Because that player always seemed to be involved. Whether my team had the ball or not, they looked like they were in the run of play. I jokingly labeled the position “rover” because whoever played there appeared to be allowed to rove the entire pitch. I was always so jealous of that freedom and responsibility.

And though I classified this player as a “defensive” central midfielder in my initial post in this series, it’s important to note that the holding center mid is at times a very offensively minded player. Ignoring his defensive responsibilities for the moment, this player’s sole purpose on the pitch is the crucial role of linking the play between the forwards and the defenders. Of course this means that he must be extremely strong in possession as well as a tactically adept passer.

And to be completely honest, in the system I’ve chosen to implement in this team, this player is much more of an offensive player than a defensive.

But the defense role isn’t to be completely ignored with this position, and I’ve left offensively solid holding mids off this list because they’re defensive skills are lacking (Joey Barton or Jack Wilshire for example). Clogging up the passing lanes and stifling counterattacks before they start in the offensive third are typical tasks that this player will be assigned.

So who’s good enough going both directions to lay claim to this spot? Read on…

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wrong side XI: center back

this is part VI in the “wrong side XI” series, where i’ll be selecting my very own starting eleven, assuming of course that i could choose any player from any team in the world. you can read the rules i’ll be following to make my team selection, and what formation i’ll be squeezing them into, on the first post in the series.

gerard pique, ledley king, neven subotic, nemanja vidic, and giorgio chiellini

one of these big men will anchor my defensive line.

After what’s seemed like about ten years, I figured it might be worth getting back to making my picks for my wrong side of the pond XI. It’s been at least a month since my last post in this series, which didn’t seem that horrible until I remembered that I was trying to make this a weekly ritual. So it’s without saying that it’s time to get back on track… no promises of increased frequency quite yet though.

Diving in to the task at hand, let’s pick back up by selecting the last of the defenders in my starting line up: the other centerback. Unlike his libero counterpart from the last post, this centerback tends to be the defensive linchpin of his side. Rarely straying from his back line, he’s the rock on which the rest of the team is built. In most cases, he’s like a general that leads by example.

And it’s those qualities that make this pick such an important one. A player without the adequate skill, intelligence, conviction or personality can cause the rest of the team to crumble around him, like removing a keystone from an arch. Witness Arsenal, a side rich with attacking talent, but unable to scale the highest heights because they lack the strong presence in the heart of defense. Conversely, part of the reason that Manchester United and Chelsea have had such success over the half decade is due to the strong leadership that comes from their primary centerback (Rio and Terry respectively). It’s hardly surprising to see this player wearing the armband for most sides.

So who’s the man I chose to lead my team from the back? Read on…

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ten words or less #29

martin palermo of boca juniors

martin palermo prepares for his post-retirement gig as the superhero, "boca man".

blah blah blah, this is the introduction paragraph. i know you don’t really care what i say in this space at all. all you care about is getting to the links below. if i were to write something really important or interesting in this area, like “ke$ha is the lovechild of ryan giggs and julia roberts”, you probably wouldn’t even notice.

or would you?

getafe decided to spend their first dubai money on this!? – theoffside.com

a beginner’s guide to the transfer window. – offthepost.info

64% sure nobody from norwich has ever been to italy. – youtube.com

so, supporting tottenham means i shouldn’t trust my wife? – inbedwithmaradona.com

and now i’m a fan of the german women’s team (NSFW) – bild.de

amazed that neville doesn’t throw like a girl. – dirty tackle @ yahoo.com

lol. but seriously, enough with the 1999 talk. – theonion.com

love truly is blind: modrić got hitched this weekend. – jutarnji.ha

man whore all-stars

Even though I’m still knee-deep into a very drawn out series of posts to select my very own wrong side XI, I feel I have to name another very important all-star squad from the world of football.

ryan giggs on the cover of the sunday herald

maybe giggs will learn that in the age of the internet, nothing is secret.

With the near constant stream of super injunctions and confirmed tabloid stories about footballers having affairs and shagging ladies of the night, it’s only right that we give these men of such “quality” morals the credit they truly deserve… a man whore XI if you will.

Now in the spirit of fairness, I do want to make sure that I’m not unfairly labeling anyone as a cheater. And since it can also be hard to confirm who has actually committed such sinfulness, we’re also going to include players who are known for the playboy lifestyles.

So without further adieu, let’s get on to the dirtiest team in football:

Goalkeeper – Allan McGregor (Rangers)
Apparently the most faithful position on the pitch, I had to dig hard to find a current goalkeeper that plays the field… figuratively of course. After an hour of searching, I almost settled on this half-story from the South African second division. Luckily, a little extra dilligence yielded McGregor’s indiscretions. The most famous of those saw the Scotland keeper dating a series of young ladies, this despite the fact he had a live in girlfiend at the time. He later cheated on his mobster-linked ex-fiancée with that same live in girlfriend.

Left Back – Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
When not shooting club staff members, Ca$hley likes to spend the remainder of his free time either sexting pictures of his junk to American women or shagging with ladies of varying attractiveness. Apparently this became such a frequent issue that his supremely hot (yet infinitely annoying) wife decided to call off their marriage by text message. If he keeps this kind of behavior up, Cole could quite possibly be the most lonely man on the planet.

Center Back – John Terry (Chelsea)
Probably the worst teammate and friend you could possibly have in a squad, unless it’s this squad I suppose. It is never advisable to leave one’s WAG/daughter/mom around Mr. Chelsea. Just ask Wayne Bridge. And I don’t care that The News of the World have since said that the rumors were untrue. Something obviously happened because Bridge still refuses to play with his former best friend. Your 2009 Dad of the Year!

Right Back – Alon Harazi (retired)
I couldn’t find any mention of any other right backs involved in sex scandals, so we’ll have to turn our attention to the recently retired Israel defender. Hazari, who made over 600 apperances for Maccabi Haifa, was one of the contingent of Israeli players that had an all-night sex party full of prostitutes and alcohol prior to the country’s biggest ever match. Despite losing 0-5 to the Danes in the first leg of the Euro 2000 qualifier, Harazi and his teammates repeated the incident in denmark and lost 0-3. Didn’t exactly learn their lessons, did they?

cristiano ronaldo with a lovely lady

ronaldo may be a womanizer, but at least he never marries them.

Left Midfield – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
While Ronnie has a “long-term” girlfriend at the moment, and there haven’t been any rumors of infidelity in the relationship, the oily-skinned icon makes this team more for the ridiculous list of tramps/supermodels that he’s managed to bed over the last few years. Entire websites are devoted to cataloging his sexual conquests, which includes rumored hook-ups with American media whores celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. And when you have to pay-off an American waitress in South Beach to take the love-child you created with her, you probably know you probably deserve your spot here.

Center Midfield – Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
The man whose name we should not say is a late and surprising addition to the squad. Long revered as a model professional, the old Welsh wizard was tricking us all after it was revealed that he was a cheating bastard. And now rumors are spurting out that Giggsy has spent the last 8 years having occasional frolics with his brother’s wife. With all of the stress of sneaking around, it’s no wonder that we’re seeing his hair quickly turn grey. I’ll now spare you some poor viagra jokes.

Offensive Midfield – David Beckham (L.A. Galaxy)
A serial offender deserves to be on this list, even if some of that series are only claims. The world’s most popular footballer certainly has no shortage of admirers, though he has an inkling for the help apparently. Either way, i can empathize with Becks though: I wouldn’t want to have sex with a crazed, plastic Barbie doll like Posh either.

Defensive Midfield – Paul Terry (Darlington)
The older brother to the captain of England, it seems as if adultery runs in the blood of the Terry family. Though Paul has never been able to reach the playing heights of his younger sibling, he has had just as much success in destroying people’s lives. Back in 2010, Paul managed to carry on affair with the fiancée of his Rusheden & Diamonds teammate Dale Roberts, despite already being married to Paul Konchesky’s sister. Roberts was so troubled by the betrayal of his teammate that he soon committed suicide. Those Terry boys are just stand-up individuals, aren’t they?

Right Midfield – Frank Ribery (Bayern Munich)
All the money in the world sometimes isn’t enough to find yourself a quality WAG, as the unfriendly-on-the-eye yet tremendously talented Ribery knows all too well. Maybe that’s the reason Frank felt it necessary to fly in the forbidden fruit of an underage prostitute from Paris in 2010. The then 17-year-old Zahia Dehar is also rumored to have, ahem, worked with other French internationals such as Karim Benzema and Sidney Govou… so he’s not alone in his desires at least.

Forward – Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
While by no means saying he was right to sleep with an insanely pricey hooker, or a cheaper but older one for that matter, I can sort of see why Wazza might be prone to infidelity. He’s married to the same girl he’s been dating since he was a schoolboy, and it’s hardly imaginable that a young egotistic star on the rise could resist the lure of reaping the rewards of his talents. He probably felt a need to soil his wild oats. However, why he didn’t just head to the club to pick up some young pretty thing instead of paying for an overpriced romp in the sheets is simply beyond me.

peter crouch and abbey clancy

can someone please explain to me how crouch cheated on clancey?

Forward – Peter Crouch (Tottenham Hotspur)
Someone needs to pull Pete aside and have him look in a mirror: there’s no way he won’t recognize while staring back at his pasty, gangly reflection that he is not that attractive of a man. That same person should then show him a picture of his fiancée: there’s no way he won’t recognize that she is smoking hot and that he should have no business marrying a woman so attractive. Then that person should tell him that spending thousands of quid for expensive prostitutes is a giant waste of the very money that has allowed him to bag a girl as hot as Abbey Clancy.

Manager – Sven-Goran Eriksson
Even the managers can use their fame and fortunes to feed their sexual appetites! The former manager of every team ever has twice been caught being unfaithful to his wife. The first time was with a decently attractive Swedish TV commentator, the second with an English FA secretary. He apparently also heavily influenced his successor, as Steve McClaren must have felt the need to live up to the bar set by Sven.

Also, I would rue the opportunity if I didn’t give a nod to these other legends of the game with an additction to the nookie:

  • George Best: The England legend is the original football playboy, famously once saying, “I used to go missing a lot… Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World.” baller.
  • Garrincha: The former samba star is the Wilt Chamberlain of world football, having a confirmed 14 children and the possibility of another twenty-freaking-four around the world. Dads fret not, your daughters are safe: Garrincha passed away in 1983.
  • Jean-François Larios: The former French international famously had a fling with the wife of current-UEFA president Michel Platini in the lead up to the 1982 World Cup. I actually like him a little bit for it.
  • Ronaldo: Il Fenomeno tagged bunches of ladies in his time, and possibly even some transvestites.
  • John Harkes: The American version of Larios, Johnny boy was dismissed from the USMNT shortly before the 1998 World Cup for having a quickie with teammate Eric Wynalda’s wife instead of attending a team meeting.

Now before any of you readers jump all over my back for glorifying assholes that treat women like the property, I don’t condone the behavior of any of the men listed above… unless they’re single. If that’s the case, my advice to those boys is: get it out of your systems before you decide to settle down. No one really needs a super injunction, right?

conclusive evidence

we really don’t know how lucky we all are yet. it may be too early for most to even recognize the significance of the result of saturday’s champions league final between manchester united and f.c. barcelona.

wembley stadium before the 2011 champions league final

something big was determined at wembley on saturday, and it was bigger than just determining the european champions.

many of the debates that rage within the game are purely philosophical in nature. who is better: messi or ronaldo? is joey barton crazy? should there be homegrown player quotas? what’s more important: your club or your country? we can all offer our opinions, but no definitive answers can be drawn from those questions. and we can’t really answer any of those questions because there is no right answer to any of those questions. well, except that it is fact that joey barton is certifiably insane.

so what made saturday night’s champions league final so special that many can’t even realize it’s importance? perhaps it’s because the match actually answered one of those hypothetical questions for us. namely, who has been the best team of this era? (i am not even going to attempt to tackle the “best team ever” question. it is definitely not answerable.)

what gives this game the right to answer a supposedly unanswerable question? let’s start with a few obvious qualifications.

this final was a match up between the two most dominant clubs in europe over the last decade. it was united’s third champions league final in the last five years, and barça’s third in the last seven. domestically, both are staggeringly dominant. and since la liga and the premier league have been the undisputed best two leagues in europe during this time frame, it’s even easier to call them both the best when barça have won five and united have won six of the last ten titles in their respective leagues. together, they’ve won four of the last seven european championships, and it would have been five of the last seven if inter hadn’t found a way to sneak past the catalonians in last year’s semifinal.

now i know i haven’t been the biggest barcelona supporter in this space. in fact, i’ve been outright harsh on them. but regardless of my complaints about them (mainly the excessive and unneeded diving), i’ve always said that they’re the team to beat. and when they’re running on full cylinders, as they clearly were on saturday evening, they’re impossible to beat. i’ll never claim otherwise.

and while we’ve questioned united’s credentials all season, they proved to be nearly unbeatable themselves in the end. despite an AWOL rooney at the beginning of the campaign, a major injury to valencia, an aging squad and the looming retirement of van der sar, they ended up on the top of the heap in england again this season. champions for a record 19th time. so let’s give credit where credit is due: it took a historically amazing barcelona side to knock down champions of this calibre. so…

top tier clubs: check

messi splits giggs and carrick in the champions league final

another brilliant messi performance might have helped to cement barça's place in history.

the wembley final also had some other key ingredients to answer a question such as which is the best team of this generation. messi, almost unarguably the best player on the planet, logged another inspired performance in a big match. and while much of the spotlight was on the tiny 2-time defending world player of the year, let us not forget that he also had the help of the first and second runners up to the 2010 prize. none of the triumvirate let us down, as all performed breathtakingly.

on the other side of the ball, you saw england’s most mercurial striker in rooney finally make his presence felt on the biggest stage. admittedly though, expectations proved to heavy for the legendary ryan giggs and up-and-comer javier hernandez. either way…

top tier players: check.

additionally, two of the three best managers in the world were on the benches at wembley stadium. on one side of the ring you have the seasoned and legendary sir alex ferguson (12 premier league titles, two european cups, five FA cups). on the other, the young hotshot pep guardiola (3 la liga titles, and now two european cups).

top tier managers: check.

another thing that made this such a key, question-answering event: the american sports audience finally paid attention to the champions league final. people at work were asking me about the match, wanting to know what makes that “zavi” guy so good. hell, the american castle of conservativism, fox, decided broadcasting a proper football match live on their flagship network for the first time was worth the risk of exposing their fans to socialism.

aiding the hype was the massive amount of “support” both teams have stateside. barça is today’s bandwagoned side of the moment, while the mancs held that spot for much of the late 90′s and early noughties. who those american fans support at the moment is clearly visible in my not so scientific pole on the WSOTP facebook page from a few weeks back to see who everyone thought would win the match:

of the 40 responses received on the WSOT facebook page, only 9 selected the mancunians to win.

(tangent warning: while both clubs have certainly earned their followings, the size of their supporters might be ballooned by the fact that most american fans aren’t able to name another team besides united or barcelona. i’d be willing to wager that only one in five yanks that identify themselves as united fans would know anything about the bubsy babes. likewise with american barça fans, i’m sure the mention of “cruyff” would result in nothing but looks of confusion. end tangent)

and as expected, the media firestorm before the final was priming the question to be answered. it seemed like everyone was ready to crown this barcelona side as the best in history (an insanely more difficult question to answer than to name one for just an era) before the match was over. and that means…

top tier interest: check.

so with the world’s best clubs, players, managers and a massive wave of interest behind it, the table was adequately set to decide who was truly the best side of this era.

let’s be honest though. it would have taken a massive victory by manchester united to get any of the punditry to hand them the title of “era’s best”. this isn’t the best squad that united have fielded under sir alex (the 1999 treble winners probably were), and the red devils would have had to turn in an epic like an 8-0 win to sway anyone into believing the title of the era’s best belongs to in manchester.

but lucky we were again, as barcelona emphatic victory made it all the more easy for us to hand them the crown instead.

statistically, the blaugrana were so dominant that it made any chance of a united payback victory impossible:

  • 68% possesion to united’s 32%.
  • 22 shots to united’s 4, 12 and 1 on frame respectively.
  • 6 corners to united’s 0.
  • 719 completed passes to united’s 301.

unusually for me though, it wasn’t the statistics that really drove home the point. instead, it was the way that barcelona won the match: they did it without all of the theatrics.

gone were the ridiculous antics that plagued their semifinal match ups with real madrid, and instead we were left with solely the beautiful game that this team is always lauded for. in fact the only time i even saw busquets grab his face is when he was actually hit in it. it’s just that  i feel much better about deeming a team worthy to be called the best of an era when i don’t think they earned it by any form of cheating. and beat united they did without it.

simply put, barcelona beat the other best team in europe with style, skill and class. my highly unscientific facebook poll showed that most of us expected that outcome, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t all get more than we expected.

barça proved themselves again, and thanks to it, have written themselves a special chapter in the history of football. and as many generations go by without the opportunity to say that they had watched a truly dominant side. what’s becoming ever more apparent, though, is that saturday… we did.

wrong side XI: center back (libero)

this is part V in the “wrong side XI” series, where i’ll be selecting my very own starting eleven, assuming of course that i could choose any player from any team in the world. you can read the rules i’ll be following to make my team selection, and what formation i’ll be squeezing them into, on the first post in the series.

david luiz, per mertesacker, thiago silva, daniel agger and thomas vermaelen

the libero: the defenders who can't quite give up their aspirations to be offensive stars.

Once upon a time, in between stints of playing in my favored left back spot, I often took up residence as a centerback. I was never particularly fond of it, much because playing the position made me feel like i had a leash around my neck that was tied to the penalty box. But as often as possible, I would break my invisible chain and make forays into the attack. Much to the chagrin of my coach, of course.

And though I didn’t know it at the time, the style with which I played the position actually had a name: libero. When I first learned that factoid, the defensive volleyball position of the same name came to mind. And for those familiar with both sports, it’s a perfect description for this type of player: a player who defense starts the offense. However, let’s also keep in mind what I wrote in the first post about this position:

“the more offensive oriented back will be free to occasionally make a run into the attack”

Generally though, these occasional flights into the offensive half should coincide with the launch of counter attacks. That’s not to say that the libero can’t join in an offensive passing movement from time to time, but his primary concern regardless of how the attack is flowing is to make sure if he goes forward that someone is stepping in to plug his hole (quit laughing).

Defensively, the role of the libero and the normal center back is practically indistinguishable. Organize the defense, keep an eye on the striker(s) and prevent the other team from scoring. Simple as pie, right?

Surprisingly, what I came to find when it was time to decide who would be considered for my libero spot, is that there really aren’t that many players that are solely classified as liberos. Everyone is just classified as center backs, center halves, or sweepers. Ultimately, that means that I have the freedom to go out and choose whomever I want, because no one is really classified as one.

So who did I classify as a libero? Read on my friends…

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round up #33

diego forlán of atlético madrid

the form of former tottenham target diego forlán has fallen off steeply; harry’s wheeling and dealing sensors must be tingling.

I admit that I’m really trying to steer clear of transfer rumors stories in my latest Round-Up and TWOL posts, mainly because I’ll need something to write for the rest of the summer. That said, there are some stories below that do mention the possibilities of transfers, so don’t skewer me when you come across it.

As we enter the final weekend of matches in the 2010-2011 Premier League season, it’s all pins and needles for no less than five clubs at the foot of the table, and Tottenham have a chance to keep a tiny trickle of European relevancy running through White Hart Lane. So needless to say, I’m on pins and needles a bit too.

So moving along to today’s round-up, we’ll start off on this side of the pond…

The New York Cosmos take to the field this summer – totalfootballblog.com
And so it begins. Even though the “Zombie Cosmos” will begin their climb up the American professional soccer ladder at the lowest rung, the u-23 Premier Development League (PDL), I think it’s fantastic first step for an organization trying to earn what’s likely to be the 20th and last MLS franchise. This will give the club a great avenue for continuing to identify talent from their already established youth academy, a major pillar of the club’s philosophy.

The author of this article did fail to mention one of the other major benefits that this news will provide for the cosmos: a revenue stream. Aside from the revenue that have been generated by the club’s bad ass Umbro apparel, they really didn’t have another major source of income. By fielding a PDL side, it allows the club to charge fans to come and watch potential future Cosmos stars and pour some money into their coughers. It’s not a cheap to fund a campaign to join MLS, and the club is going to need some source of income to help them reach their eventual goal.

A perfect transition from the States back to Europe, a story about a player that used to play on this side of the pond:

Rohan Ricketts’ Moldovan nightmare – column10.com
With the big dogs in Europe trying to right their financial ships before UEFA’s financial fair play rules come into effect (well, some of them aren’t), it’s a little bemusing that UEFA don’t seem to be taking much interest in how finances are playing out in the lower tiers of the European football too. For example, consider this linked article about former Arsenal, Tottenham, Wolves, Barnsley, and Toronto FC winger Rohan Ricketts.

While ricketts is a textbook journeyman footballer, crisscrossing the glob in search of glory/paychecks, the hardships he’s endured at Moldovan side Dacia Chişinău are a far cry from what any professional should expect. While the big clubs are always getting the headlines about the dirty tricks their owners play when trying to screw over players, little clubs are often times just as guilty, if not worse. The problem is without the financial gain of European competition to hold over their heads, the smaller clubs often go unpunished for such actions.

Though to be fair, Ricketts probably should have assumed that something retarded would go down when signing up for squad in Moldova.

Speaking of a player that should have made a move elsewhere last transfer window…

Forlán’s relationship with Atlético seems damaged beyond repair – si.com
Football is a rollercoaster, ain’t it? I’m sure if you were to ask Diego Forlán that question, the Uruguayan would probably agree right about now. Last summer he was named the best player at the World Cup, fresh after winning the European golden boot for Atlético Madrid. Now, just nine months after Los Rojiblancos were demanding £20 million for the 30-year-old striker, they appear to be trying to give him away.

The article states that Forlán’s difficult personality has strained his relationship with Atlético’s likely-to-be-departing manager Quique Sánchez Flores. But I do wonder if that’s really enough to have forced him out of a mid-table starting XI despite being in the running for the Ballon d’Or just a few months ago. Maybe Diego is trying to engineer a move away from the capital club because they wouldn’t let him leave last summer? All I can say is that with the kind of season that he’s had, I’m really glad Harry Redknapp didn’t convince Levy to dump a ton of money into some empty Spanish bank account for his services.

I hope you’re not afraid of being spied on if you like to attend sporting events…

Wembley 360 – thesun.co.uk
I’m going to go out on a limb and make the assumption that you have yet to see every single person who attended the FA cup final between Manchester City and Stoke City this past weekend, nor am I guessing that you actually wanted to. But in the off-chance that you do want to see that, thanks to big brother The Sun, you can now look at and Facebook tag every single person sitting in England’s hallowed national stadium at somewhere between the 19:52 and 21:27 marks of the match.

While I can see the appeal of such a unique feature — and also impressed by the technology the oft-dubious tabloid used — I’m not convinced that I actually like the idea of a high-def stadium wide panoramic. It comes off as extremely Orwellian, especially with the paper imploring it’s readers to self-identify themselves and rat out their friends. Wembley 360 tastes of invasion of privacy. I mean, tell me there weren’t some blokes there playing hookie from work to go watch the Final. Now they’ve been made by the sun‘s all-seeing eye. Not cool.

Sometimes clubs need all-knowing presence floating behind the scenes to make things tick.

zidane still involved at real madrid

zizou is often greasing the wheels behind the scenes in madrid.

Real Madrid still benefiting from Zinedine Zidane’s presence. – si.com
Not sure how I missed this from about a month back, but this piece does an excellent job of answering a question I’ve been contemplating for a while: what exactly does Zizou do at Real Madrid? Author Ben Lyttleton paints an excellent picture of Zidane’s role at his former club, where he’s serving as the club’s “special advisor to the president and first team”… quite the title.

Not only does it explain that the French legend takes time to work with the players and provide welcomed insight from Mourinho, but he also smooths over the political rifts within the club (Ex: Valdano vs. Mourinho) and is in tight with the president too. In a nutshell, he’s the glue that keeps the modern Real held together. Until he head butts Ronaldo.

ten words or less #25

a linesman smoking

linesman in the norwegian 5th division can multi-task.

Wow, we’ve already reached the quarter century mark for the Ten Words or Less series? What a momentous occasion.

I thought about doing some sort of theme for this special milestone post — only links to video of players tripping during training, links to pictures of footballers eating with their families, etc. — but it turns out that such a task would be a lot more work than I’m usually willing to devote posts that are supposed to be “short and easy.”

So basically, I’m saying you that you need to thank me for sparing you a stupid post. Because this one isn’t one.

Barcelona’s La Masia training video? – youtube.com

How do you not love the Timbers fanbase? – brentdiskin.com

“If all shots off the bars had gone in” table. – whoateallthepies.tv

Well no wonder he finally put one in. – reddit.com/user/yflmd

Find out if you make more than any MLS player. – mlsplayers.com

Harsh those Blackpool fans are. – thespoiler.co.uk

Reality checks feel like a stomach punch. – afootballreport.com

Calm down Noel Gallagher. We all hate Gary Neville. – kickette.com

wrong side XI: right back

this is part IV in the “wrong side XI” series, where i’ll be selecting my very own starting eleven, assuming of course that i could choose any player from any team in the world. you can read the rules i’ll be following to make my team selection, and what formation i’ll be squeezing them into, on the first post in the series.

best XI right back: rafael, sergio ramos, dani alves, maicon and lahm

rafael, sergio ramos, dani alves, maicon and lahm do battle for my starting right back slot.

Welcome back to the very exciting selection of my imaginary team! In today’s part IV of the wrong side XI series, we’ll be picking the back on right flank.

If you read my last post, you got to hear all about my love for my favorite position, left back. And though today’s position is essentially the exact same position, my afinity for it is not near as high. Maybe it’s because I’m left footed, maybe it’s because I rarely played there growing up (though as i’ve played it more, I do enjoy getting to cut inside to my left). But I just don’t feel the same way that I do about right back as I do with it’s left sided counterpart.

Regardless, picking a right back wasn’t actually a very difficult task. Strategically, I’m looking for the same type of player that would play on the left. He will need to be an attacking style wing back, who will get forward and provide offensive support and service, as well as being able to shut down the other team’s offensive threats. So, lucky me, there’s no need to go into specifics again.

So perhaps we should get into it, right? And just as a preliminary F.Y.I.: Alan Hutton will definitively not be allowed within 30 feet of this list.

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