It’s been months since Jeremy and D.J. haven’t had a full plate of football to chat about on a podcast. But with just Premier League and MLS action going down in the last week, this week’s line up seemed comparatively bare… before hand, anyway. In England, the discussion included Liverpool’s title hopes being boosted, the relegation race tightening up, promotion from the Championship and the magical displays of Jason Puncheon. Domestically, we touch on the Crew’s dramatic draw, a new club being gifted to Atlanta, and a baseball stadium being the home for the league’s supposed marquee franchise. We also had a few listener questions to tackle at the end, so prepare yourself for a surprisingly full Episode 36 of the Wrong Side of the Pond Podcast.
No matter what your cup of tea is when it comes to world football, odds are there’s a segment in Episode 35 of the podcast that will tickle your fancy. You like the Premier League? We’ve got thoughts on Liverpool’s title surge and the growing scrap at the bottom of the table — plus Spurs and Chelsea thoughts, per normal. If you prefer continental football? We chatted about the Champions League semifinal draw, paying special attention to highlighting the “Courtois Conundrum” between Atlético and Chelsea. Should you desire domestic soccer, we’ve got musings on Major League Soccer and the rumors that the Copa América will be coming to the States. So grab a pint (unless your driving) or a coffee, sit back and strap yourself in for the latest edition of the WSOTP Pod.
January: the month where a million writers, bloggers, newspapers and websites get more eyeballs on their works than any other.
Thanks to its winter transfer window, and the plethora of the rumors of potential player moves that come with it, January is a writer’s best friend. Pick up the scent of a rumor without a credible source, spin it however you like, publish, and then sit back and let it run. It’s no secret that fans, desperate for a turn in fortunes or a continuation of success, will read anything that gives them hope. Knowing that gives publishers the impetus to pump out as much rubbish each January as your average American couch potato produces in a year.
But as the case is with many rumors, there’s often a little truth in each supposition. It might not be anything too concrete. However, that doesn’t mean that a club didn’t make an inquiry, an agent didn’t talk to potential suitors, or a player isn’t slightly unsettled.
So when I read rumors of Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge potentially moving to Liverpool in a few weeks’ time, I knew I should take it with a massive grain of salt. After all, Sturridge represents exactly one half of Chelsea’s strike force. And though the £50 million Fernando Torres’ impotence isn’t as bad as advertised, the club selling of their only other option up front seems an incredibly risky move. Not even trigger-happy Roman Abramovich would pull off that kind of move without some kind of back up plan.
And it’s that backup plan which I find to be the most fascinating aspect of the January transfer window: the domino effect a single transfer can have on the rest of the professional game’s clubs across the world.
Let’s assume for a second that Liverpool do end up buying Sturridge from Chelsea, leaving the Blues short-changed and necessitating the purchase of another forward. Conveniently, Chelsea have been consistently linked to Radamel Falcao, the Colombian scoring machine currently pouring in the goals for Atlético Madrid. But just as Chelsea would be left shorthanded after Sturridge’s departure, Atlético would also need to fill Falcao’s sizable shoes if he’s shipped out. But where would Los Rojiblancos turn?
The rumor mill keeps on churning, hypothesizing that Atlético would look to buy names like Manchester United’s Chicharito, Napoli’s Edison Cavani, or even Liverpool’s Luis Suárez. Whether there’s any truth in any of those rumors is a bit beyond my reach. But at the same time, if any of those moves did come to fruition, the dominoes would begin to fall all over again.
In the case of Napoli, Cavani has long seemed destined for a move abroad. But the Uruguayan’s departure would mean the Neapolitans‘ would be left with only two recognized strikers in their squad. Manchester United could stomach Chicharito’s departure, but you would have to imagine that Sir Alex wouldn’t be happy to rely on just Danny Wellbeck, an untested Ángelo Henríquez, and an unfancied Federico Macheda to back up his dynamic duo. And Liverpool, where this entire domino effect started, would again be down to two strikers if they let Luis depart for pastures anew. Meaning they would again be fored to dip into the transfer market or be faced with the same issue that’s troubled them in the first half of this season.
And regardless of which guy ends up replacing whatever player eventually leaves any club, the dominos will keep up on falling all the way down the line. A perfect representation of the butterfly effect, if I’ve ever seen one.
Of course, all of this is dependent upon what player moves where. And it’s quite possible that none of the above will hold true. But rest assured, players will move this January, and the media will spin out more rumors than any of us could ever take in. Just don’t go placing your hopes on any of them until you see a new player holding your team’s shirt and smiling wide for the cameras. Otherwise, your sanity will likely be the last domino to fall.
As the dust settles after another underwhelming transfer deadline day, I’m sure all of you readers are fed up with transfer news and gossip. I am, at least. In an effort to stray away from that topic of conversation, and to give your brain a break from digesting it all, I’ve put together this TWOL that contains absolutely zero transfer news. Except for the mocking picture above. So if you’ve come here look to catch up on yesterday’s “madness”, you might want to navigate elsewhere.
Barça’s kits next year: taking Blaugrana to literal the extreme. - football-shirts.co.uk
Milan disrespecting a man to whom they owe so much. – foxsports.com
The perfect artwork for me: one part nerd, one part Spurs. – onasixpence.bigcartel.com
FIFA’s looking into allowing four subs… only in injury time. – guardian.co.uk
Trolling Atlético fans, Spanish press, and knock-off kit manufacturers. - reddit.com/user/coolinwithcosta
Pushing your best player out the door, Philly? Bad idea. – delcotimes.com
Don’t click this unless you have a lot of time. – si.com
courtesy of an old high school frenemy, @Ryan7Hurley
Someone needs to make Twellman and Wynalda watch this. – youtube.com
It’s happy times at wrong side of the pond these days. Spurs are still sitting in a lofty position in the table at fairly advanced stage of the season, even despite dropping points on a cold wet night in Stoke.
Speaking of cold nights, I’m also looking forward to the winter weather that’s finally descending upon the Midwest. I means finally allowed to starting thinking about the only other hobby besides soccer-obsession that I really take part in… snow riding. However, I’m not foolish enough to think that all of you are as equally pleased about the arrival of Old Man Winter as I am. Don’t worry though, you’re not the only ones: Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli also hates the cold, and is apparently hoping that his knowledge of the ancient art of the ninja will keep him warmer through the frigid Northern English winter.
If looks could kill, Ronaldo would be a murderer… – dirtytackle.net
…so you better give him more of your money! – androidcentral.com
Fulham to redevelop Craven Cottage and still keep the cottage. – stadiumporn.com
This documentary makes me wish I understood Russian. – theoffside.com
Someone actually thinks Harkes was “getting better” at commentating? – socceramerica.com
Messi comes to his senses, ditches PES for FIFA. – kckrs.com
The Timbers never cease to amaze me with awesomeness. – theoriginalwinger.com
this is part IX 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.
Off all the positional choices for the wrong side XI series that I compiled since the beginning of the summer, my offensive mid selection has probably fluctuated more than any of the others. Of the five “lucky” men that managed to make this shortlist, all of them have occupied the top spot at least once or twice since I began work on this project. So as you might have guessed, making my final selection has been very, very difficult.
Complicating the issue is that all five of these players has been in phenomenal form over the last 18 months. They’re often one of the first names on their respective club’s teamsheets each match day, and are by far some of the most visible players on the field during those matches. Each is the central creative force for their club, and their play often dictates the fate of the outcome of the matches in which they take part.
Part of me wishes I could just pick them all. Hell, if I were to abandon the game plan I lined out in the first post in this series, and instead replaced it with a system akin to Barcelona’s interchangeable top four, I almost could have.
Unfortunately for no one but me, that’s not how I want to run my imaginary team. so we’ll have to narrow this down to just one midfield wizard… follow my thought process after the jump.
I’m not having a panic attack. I swear… I think. Maybe I am having one. Well, wait… no I’m probably not having a panic attack.
But with just a few days remaining until the Spurs’ delayed official start to the Premier League’s 2011-2012 season, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is officially making me lose sleep.
I know that last season was a bit of a mixed bag for Spurs and their fans. We were all enthralled by our magical European adventure, but also all rightly disappointed that the team couldn’t consistently put in the type of domestic performances that were earning them worthy praise on the continent.
As this post clearly points out, Tottenham were a team that could hang with the big boys. But on the flip side of the coin, they were decidedly average against team’s they should have been beating. The rigors of the Premier League, regardless of the competition faced each weekend, were too much to heap on players who were already being asked to carry heavy Champions League loads.
One thing that is certain is that the lack of activity in the January transfer window played a decently-sized part in the club’s eventual shortcomings.
The squad clearly needed reinforcements (in particular at the front end of the pitch) to continue battling on multiple fronts, and yet the only area they reinforced was the one area of the pitch that didn’t need that much help (although, a midfielder like Pienaar was a deal at the price we landed him for). Long story short, thin as the squad was, it couldn’t cope with a multi-competition battle.
So when Tottenham relinquished their short hold on a top four position back in the spring, both Levy and Redknapp admitted that big signings would be necessary to get the club back on track with their grand aspirations.
Initially, long-term “dream” targets came back to the forefront. Forlán, Falcao, and Rossi were all floated in the deep pool of summer transfer rumors. But for various reasons (too old, too expensive, and too not for sale) none were realistic solutions to the Spurs’ striking woes. It appeared that Tottenham would either have to pony up and spend like the club has a super-rich foreign owner, or unearth a diamond in the rough.
Fellow Ohioan Brad Friedel was the first signing of the window, and though he was also a bargain-buy that addressed a weak spot in the team, his arrival was hardly the “big time” signing that we all wanted and the team needed.
But I remained optimistic; perhaps Friedel’s signing was the beginning of a torrid of transfer activity at White Hart Lane. After all, we don’t just need to buy at Tottenham: we also need to trim. With one of the largest squads in the Premier League last season, Levy remained (rightly) insistent that arrivals at the club would necessitate cash from sales.
Yet Friedel, to this point, remains the only transfer dealing of this extremely crucial off-season. One free signing, and only two paltry sums coming in after the Lillywhites finally disposed of serial-loanees Jamie O’Hara (to Wolves for £3.5m) and Robbie Keane (to LA Galaxy for £3m)… nothing official about Jenas, Hutton, Dos Santos, Bassong and Palacios being sold off to raise the all important cash.
So while Tottenham Hotspur seem to be twiddling their thumbs, all of their direct competitors have been busy strengthening their squads.
Manchester City, the club that’s recently been Tottenham’s biggest rival (as far as league places are concerned) over the last few years, have continued to spend astronomical sums on players they may (Stefan Savić) or may not (Clichy) need (Agüero could be unneeded if Tévez doesn’t leave). Sadly, additional devastating signings this window seem imminent. If they’re not competing for silverware on all fronts this season with the talent in that squad, then Mancini will have proven himself a moron of a manager.
Liverpool, the club that Tottenham displaced in the Champions League last season, look to have finally gotten back on track with new owner John Henry and new (and old) manager Kenny Dalglish aiming to return to their rightful place as an English power. The signings of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, and José Enrique on top of the January signings of Suarez and Carroll, mean that the Reds have dropped a reported £94 million on getting themselves back in the top four.
Manchester United, the club that doesn’t ever have a down year, also look primed to continue their run of dominance over English football after finally dolling out a big chunk of the Ronaldo-sale money. Ashley Young, David de Gea and Phil Jones have arrived on the back of £50 million, plus there is emergence of Tom Cleverly and the possible arrival of Wesley Sneijder from Inter to further bolster their ranks. When Sir Alex said Tottenham could compete for the title this season, he must have forgotten that his team were competing in England this season.
Then there’s Chelsea, the club that’s played the part of Luka Modrić-stalker all summer long. To be honest, they’ve not spent much on players so far this summer (Lukaku and Romelu)… most of their outbound cash was to pry away
Mourinho-lite Andre Villas-Boas from Porto as their new temporary manager. Their lack of player spending has definitely been surprising, as the club’s senior citizen squad looked in the most need of reinforcements. However, I fret that they might not quite be finished for understandable reasons.
And then there’s our North London rivals, Arsenal, the club that… well, thank god at least one of our rivals is looking to be in worse shape than us. Serves them right, that scum.
I sit and watch world-class players arriving at those clubs, and I think to myself: “Those are the types of players we need.” But then I remember, the reality of it is, we can’t afford those players.
Stuck in an undersized stadium that’s unable to generate the necessary revenues to truly invest in a squad, Harry and Daniel have openly admitted that we can’t compete with the big boys when it comes to wages and transfer funds. So, now we’re having to make do with less ambitious targets.
Blackburn sweeper/striker Chris Samba‘s name keeps coming up, though improving the back four isn’t and shouldn’t be near the top of the club’s priority list. There have been links to another central midfielder in Real Madrid’s Lassana Diarra, which would make some sense if Palacios leaves. I’d love to see Twente’s Costa Rican striker/shampoo-commercial model Bryan Ruiz get bought, but with so little time left in the window, a deal like that would be tough. Maybe a loan move for everyone’s favorite mercenary, Emmanuel Adebayor, seems the most likely, but do we really want a player that nobody else wants?
And that’s not even touching on the possibility of Modrić leaving and how that could blow everything to hell. Levy seems to have the kid in a vice grip at the moment, but who knows what Chelsea’s millions could persuade the chairmen to do.
Look, my club’s biggest adversaries have spent over a combined £185 million pounds to solidify and/or improve their places in the league. Tottenham have spent zero. Everyone knew that Spurs needed to improve if they wanted to achieve their dream of becoming one of the big boys, and yet the club has done practically nothing to this point to show any of that necessary transfer ambition.
Sure, Harry Houdini could have another late-breaking, wheeling-and-dealing transfer that he’ll pull out of his sleeve like he did with van der Vaart. Maybe he’ll deliver the striker we so desperately need at 11:59pm on August 30th. But if he’ goes that long without a signing, I’d be more willing to bet that it will be another midfielder than a striker… ‘Arry seems to love those center of the park ballers.
And if that’s the case, someone call me a doctor… I’m going to need a prescription for Xanax that will last much longer than just through the remainder of this transfer window.
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.
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.
this is part II 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.
There was a position that I didn’t address in my first post, but let’s be honest… it’s the only position on the pitch that is never really affected by formation changes. I’m talking about the man at the back guarding the sticks: the goalkeeper.
When I first started the project of picking my first XI, I thought that picking a goalkeeper would be one of the hardest spots in my line up to fill. It’s not like picking for your marking backs, where if you like two players about the same, you can pretty much start them both. After all, only one keeper plays at a time.
On top of the difficult task of selecting a single man to fill this spot, you also have to be cognizant of the reliability and mental strength of the player you end up selecting. Keepers face monumental amounts of pressure, often facing complete blame for conceded goals that should rightly be blamed on the poor defending in front of them. And while everyone makes mistakes from time to time (england will forgive you, Robert Green), your goalie should be able to bounce back from his mistakes and learn from them.
So who makes the cut? Listed below are the candidates that i considered to fill my number one.
i hate mondays. if you’re anything like me, it’s so hard to focus on one’s responsibilities as we struggle to recover from a weekend full of debauchery (a.k.a. a hangover), laziness (which requires me to turn my brain back on), and/or f.a. cup events (which, due to spurs’ early exit, has me less than invested). to help ease you back into the work week, below are some good links to use as you slack when you’re not quite productive enough.
if i designed my sunday league kits, they’d be this. – footballshirtculture.com
the forgotten barça starlet: bojan krkic. – therunofplay.com
this is brilliantly simple plan. – totalsoccershow.com
high fashion. – beautifulgear.com
soccer porn (that’s safe for work). – theguardian.co.uk
if he chooses terek gronzy over spurs, i will hate. – theoffside.com
fc borne bid for messi, bend everyone out of shape. – guardian.co.uk