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.
The ax now fallen on Mourinho at Chelsea, we spend a sizable chunk of this week’s #Pondcast talking about the chain reaction of hirings and firings that we’ll possibly see around the upper echelons of European football that José’s firing will spark. A few of England’s other top clubs struggled this past weekend as well, and we were sure to discuss that detail in our Premier League whiparound. And too, the guys tackled the trouble in the upper reaches of FIFA as well, as Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were given heft bans for their nefarious activities. Plus, the normal weekly segments were still there to help fill in the gaps.
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Normally, the “I Want” series I run on the blog catalogs a list of the items throughout the course of the year I personally want. And judging at the cost, diversity and frequency of the items I identified in 2015, it’s clear I’m a very greedy person.
But with us up to our necks in the annual holiday season, my WSOTP Podcast co-host Jeremy Lance, reminded me that we should probably be a little more outwardly focused. And as such, we shared our ideas on the last podcast about what we would suggest — and maybe not suggest, too — to get for your soccer loving friends this year. If you want to listen in to the full audio for the segment, forward ahead the 25:10 mark to hear our full explanations for our inclusions in this year’s list.
GIFTS WE WOULD ACTUALLY WANT
SHIRTS BY WORLD FC DJ: Ohio is not only home to great soccer writing, but also some pretty fresh soccer clothing, too. Case in point: the Columbus-based World FC make an excellent collection of original tee designs for a plethora of European clubs, from my Spurs to Jeremy’s Chelsea, Barcelona, Juventus and more. CLICK IF YOU WANT WORLD FC
MATCHDAY PROGRAM SUBSCRIPTIONSJEREMY: Many of us on this side of the pond have a European team that we passionately follow, but few of us get to experience the perks of actually crossing the pond to watch our team in person. But you can get a piece of the typical fan experience shipped directly to your home — albeit a few weeks later — by subscribing to your favorite team’s matchday programs. Many English teams offer it as a service, and they offer a unique look at each club from an insider’s perspective. CLICK IF YOU WANT MATCH PROGRAMS FOR CHELSEA, LIVERPOOL OR TOTTENHAM
SOCCER PERIODICAL SUBSCRIPTIONS DJ: There are lots of great places to read about soccer online (ahem). But if you’re not reading some of the stuff available in print, you’re missing out. Subscriptions to quarterlies like the American-based Howler or 8×8 are great options. If you’re looking for some international flair, try out the always excellent Blizzard. Each offers long form writing, incredible works of art, and delvings into the corners of our soccer world that rarely get the limelight they deserve. CLICK IF YOU WANT HOWLER OR EIGHT BY EIGHT
ANYTHING FROM ART OF FOOTBALL JEREMY: Whether you’re looking to add a unique piece of soccer clothing to your wardrobe, or a sharp looking piece of soccer art to hang on the wall outside your wardrobe, Art of Football has you covered. They create beautiful prints and t-shirts of iconic football moments. CLICK IF YOU WANT ART OF FOOTBALL
PRINTS BY STEVE WELSH DJ: Having been commissioned by the likes of Adidas, FIFA and even the FA, English artist Steve Welsh has long been one of my favorite soccer-focused artists. Much of his work can be found on shirts, but I’ve been eyeing this “S is for Socrates” print from his F is for Football series on Miniboro.com site for my home office for ages. CLICK IF YOU WANT MINIBORO PRINTS
SOCCER PLAYING CARDS Not all soccer gifts need be expensive, and there’s nothing better to stuff in a soccer fan’s stocking than playing cards. If you want to go the more traditional route for most of the world, you can get Panini stickers and fill up collection albums. However, if you want to stick to more American traditions, Topps makes sets just like they do for Major League Baseball. CLICK IF YOU WANT TOPPS OR PANINI
Most of the gifts below aren’t so awful, but you would definitely laugh at a friend or colleague if they received any of them. And as such, you probably shouldn’t want any of these.
GIFTS THAT SHOULD ONLY BE USED FOR WHITE ELEPHANT EXCHANGES
UGLY SOCCER CHRISTMAS SWEATERS DJ: Ugly Christmas sweater parties are pervasive during the holiday season these days, but don’t be tempted to take the easy way out by buying one of those printed t-shirt/sweatshirt versions that are popping up all over the place. Why? 1) It’s cheating and 2) they’re really not that ironic anymore. I’ve even seen a few clubs starting to hawk their own printed ugly christmas shirts, and when you see them doing something so trendy… you know a trend is a bit past it. CLICK IF YOU WANT UGLY SOCCER SWEATERS
JOSÉ MOURINHO MASK JEREMY: Amazingly still available for purchase in the Chelsea Mega Store when we recorded the podcast last Monday, with Mourinho sacked this week, they finally took it down by the time I got around to publishing this today. Luckily, if you want to have your Mourinho Mask ready ahead of the next job he inevitably takes, I was able to find it on an alternative website. CLICK IF YOU WANT MOURINHO MASK
WALLBANGERS DJ: If you grew up watching Fox Soccer Channel during its heyday, you’ll remember Wallbangers as the life-size player and team logo posters that ran as every third commercial for on the now defunct channel. I’m not sure they even really make these anymore for pro players, but you can totally order custom ones for yourself. And that’s a million times more dorky than the originals. CLICK TO BUY WALLBANGERS
LUIS SUÁREZ PILLOW JEREMY: You know what really helps me to relax while I’m sitting around on the couch or laying in bed? Resting my head down on a pillow featuring the toothy mug of the soccer world’s most prominent vampire, Luis Suarez. No word on whether it will leave any teeth marks on you, though. CLICK IF YOU WANT SUAREZ PILLOW
VARDY CRISPS DJ: I’m a big fan of chips. Like an addict, even. I’m also a pretty big fan of soccer, and the Premier League in particular. But there is no part of me that wants to try “Vardy Salted” chips. There’s no part of me that doesn’t think the salt is scraped off of Vardy after every performance. BUY THEM IN A STORE IN THE UK
CRYSTAL PALACE EAGLE PERFUME JEREMY: Have you ever wanted to smell like Alan Pardew does after a day at the office? Now you can, thanks to Eagle Perfume available in the Crystal Palace team store. It may or may not be made with the musk of the actual eagle that is flown around Selhurst Park before every home match. CLICK IF YOU WANT EAGLE PERFUME
You’ll hear about it when you listen in, but I may as well give you a heads up here, too: we unknowingly experienced some technical difficulties on this week’s #Pondcast that will have an impact on the audio quality. About 5 minutes into recording, the guys heard a loud pop but couldn’t ascertain what it was and recorded as normal — apparently that was a mic, and it put a nice grainy noise over top of the recording. Jeremy did his best to clean it up, but it’s definitely not our best sounding pod. Which is a shame, because the content on this week’s episode is excellent.
Not only did we get to continue ragging on Jeremy for Chelsea’s woes on top of D.J. celebrating a solid point in the North London Derby, but there was also an absolutely stunning round of MLS Cup Playoffs to discuss. Plus, there’s an excellent chat about the latest USMNT roster, and the rest of the weekly segments.
Want to contribute to the show? Hit us up via the social media links at the bottom of the page or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your questions and topics and we’ll include them. And don’t forget to subscribe to automatically receive the newest podcast each Tuesday.
You don’t need a description to entice you to listen to this week’s #Pondcast — and I don’t really have time to write one anyway. But you should listen. Because Mourinho, if nothing else.
If you want to get your own question or topic discussed on the next edition of the #Pondcast, be sure to drop us a line at email@example.com or by getting at us on social media. Plus, you need to subscribe using the links below to get new episodes automatically delivered to your device of choice.
This past weekend had it all: an Arsenal-United smackdown, a five-goal masterclass from Sergio Agüero, yet another Chelsea trip up, one manager quitting despite a positive result, and another manager losing his job after a somewhat positive result. Oh yeah, and there was USA-Mexico roster release that’s inspiring loads of questions of yet another manager, and MLS playoffs creeping up on us. You listeners also piled on the questions/topics enough to warrant a mini-mailbag. And all of that comes on top of our weekly Fantasy Update, League 2 Watch and Winners & Wankers segments.
Whether you have new questions/topics for us next week, or if you want to contribute to the show for the first time, hit us up via the social media links at the bottom of the page or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to subscribe to automatically receive the newest podcast each Tuesday.
After a nearly two weeks off — you can thank the stupid international break for that — the boys return to bring you another action packed episode of the #Pondcast. And with two weeks’ worth of content to choose from, you can bet D.J. and Jeremy had plenty to say. There was USMNT drama to discuss, a plethora of international soccer to digest, and some truly breathtaking moments in MLS. Oh yeah, and the Premier League was back after a two week hiatus too, with plenty of drama of it’s own in tow. And of course, the normal weekly segments get their playtime, as well.
Want to contribute to the show? Then be sure to send us your questions or topics for next week’s podcast. Hit us up via the social media links at the bottom of the page or shoot an email to email@example.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to automatically receive the newest podcast each Tuesday.
Suffice to say, it’s been a crazy week here in Cincinnati. The launch of a new USL franchise — which we helped to break — and the arrival of an American soccer legend — also something we told you about first — has made for a very interesting week here on the banks of the Ohio River. I’ve whisked around town for press conferences (seen above… Hi, Mom!) events and to speak on a few different media outlets, not to mention written a few articles on it all, too.
But even though I’ve been a tad busy, still wanted to share some of my favorite points of interest from around the soccer interwebz that I’ve managed to stumble across over the last two weeks. For those of you who are new to these parts — greetings! Hopefully we won’t scare you off.
Congratulations listeners: you’ve survived another season of the WSOTP Podcast! With the conclusion of the Premier League season this past weekend, this week’s episode will serve as the “finale” of Season 2 of the #Pondcast. Though worry not, we’ll be back sporadically throughout the summer to provide updates on the Champions League, Women’s World Cup, MLS and who knows what else.
So now that your fears have been allayed, what’s on deck for the pseudo-last pod of the year? Plenty.
In addition to picking our Winners & Wankers of the season and anointing our Fantasy EPL Champion — the indomitable Jay Slack and #WarPig United — the guys reviewed their pre-season predictions and named their own superlative winners for the 2014/2015 campaign. A team by team breakdowns for all 20 of the Premier League sides are also included, and we enlisted the help of our listeners to help eulogize their clubs’ seasons too. A big thanks to the following listeners for their contributions:
David Keim (Arsenal) Bill May (Manchester United)
Reeves Thompson (Everton) Josh Patterson (Southampton)
Melissa Briski (Liverpool) Christopher Boyd (Swansea)
Jared Hale (Manchester City)
And of course, don’t forget to subscribe below to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device when we drop new episodes of the summer and at the start of Season 3 in August!.
Since we last recorded, league champions have been crowned in the upper two levels of the English pyramid, and we took time in this week’s episode of the #Pondcast to discuss the incredible seasons by both favorites’ Chelsea and the underdogs’ AFC Bournemouth. But while the tops of the tables were interesting, the bottoms of them are even more fascinating. And while the bottom three may be locked in the Championship, there’s a lot left to be settled in the Premier League. There was, of course, still plenty of time left for the domestic side of things too — including a Crew collapse on the road, Montreal’s collapse in the CONCACAF Champions League — and our usual weekly segments.
Have a question that you want to ask on next week’s podcast, reach out to us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And subscribe below to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.