WSOTP world cup 2014 XI

WSOTP World Cup XI.fwWithout a doubt, this was the best World Cup I had the privilege of watching.

An impetus for attacking was shared by nearly every team at the tournament, with a record-tying 171 goals tallied in Brazil. The biggest stars of the game all turned up, notching important goals and providing key moments. Goalkeepers were in fine form as well, producing spectacular save after spectacular save. And there was ample drama, from the refereeing to player theatrics on the pitch.

Honestly, it’s hard to accept that it’s now over.

But now that I’ve had ample time to reflect back on the tournament — like everyone else in the world — I think it’s high time I get down to selecting my team of the tournament.

While there were some shoe-ins in there that just about everyone selected, I may as well dump out one spoiler at this point: I didn’t select Messi. That may seem a little unfair given that how influential he was in Argentina’s run to the final in Rio, there was such stiff competition in the areas of the pitch he could be deployed, I just couldn’t find room in my eleven for arguably the world’s best player. Crucify me in the comments for the decision if you like.

So who did make the WSOTP World Cup Best XI and bumped the Argentine Flea from contention? Read on to find out.

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cause and effect

Brazil's Neymar lies injured during the World Cup quarterfinal against Colombia

neymar’s injury can be blamed on more than just one colombian.

For a tournament that has arguably been the most entertaining World Cup in recent memory, this should be a time of celebration.

Four international heavy weights — Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands and Argentina — compose the semifinalists. Together they’ve already made 18 appearances in the final, and 30 appearances at this stage in total if you include this year’s tournament. A mind-boggling ten world championships have been hoisted between them, twice as many as the 2010 edition offered. To me at least, we haven’t seen a final foursome this sexy since Italia ’90.

But because the host nation have been robbed of their greatest talent, the dynamic Neymar Junior, it feels as if a bit of the air has been let out of the closing stages of this World Cup’s balloon.

Without a doubt, Neymar’s loss is a tragedy as far as the tournament is concerned. It’s a particularly devastating absence for Brazil given the lack of bite the rest of their attack has offered so far. And the manner in which it occurred was wholeheartedly brutal; just how Juan Zuñiga’s flying knee to the back went unpunished is a complete a head scratcher.

But I want to make sure of something important here: if Brazil crash out in the semis or don’t manage to lift the Cup on Sunday, don’t go blaming the entire failure on Colombia’s Zuñiga.  Continue reading

WSOTP x cincinnati enquirer

WSOTP x Enquirer

It is with great joy that I am finally able to share this short excerpt from my first post for the Cincinnati Enquirer/Cincinnati.com, my hometown newspaper. This series of ‘World Cup 2014 Top 5 Lists’ will also be featured alongside a longer article introducing the World Cup in this Sunday print edition of the Enquirer. To read it in it’s entirety, please click here or click the link at the end of the post.

Top 5 Teams to Watch at Brazil 2014
All the traditional powers will be in attendance, but not all of them are favorites to win the tournament.Wrong Side of the Pond’s D.J. Switzer gives us a rundown on five nations to keep an eye on in Brazil.

5) England: Home to the wildly popular Premier League, England is full of names familiar to the casual soccer fan like Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. However, the Three Lions have struggled to make any real impact on the big stage for a quarter century. A class of new faces will hope to make a splash in Brazil and put them back on the map.

4) Argentina: The two-time winners in the famous light blue and white stripes feature a vaunted attack with three of the games’ most prolific forwards: Gonzalo Higuaín, Sergio Agüero and Lionel Messi. Whether they can get the most out of them remains to be seen.

3) Belgium: Never a winner of the World Cup — their best finish was 4th in 1986 — 2014 might be Belgium’s best chance to do so. With a team chock full of young talent, the Belgians are considered the dark horse at this year’s finals.

2) Spain: With La Furia Roja the current World Cup holders and reigning back-to-back European champions, you might think they’re shoe-ins to be favorites this summer. And while that’s not totally wrong, the core of their team is getting on in years and no team has repeated as champions since Brazil did it in 1962.

1) Brazil: Since hosts don’t have to qualify, there are question marks over how prepared Brazil are to claim their record sixth title on home soil. And considering they lost the title in the championship match the last time they hosted in 1950, the pressure is on for a country that considers itself to be the spiritual home of the soccer.

Other lists in this post on Cincinnati.com include:

  • Top 5 Players to Watch at Brazil 2014
  • Top 5 Matches to Watch in the World Cup’s First Round
  • Top 5 Places to Watch the World Cup in Cincinnati

Continue reading “FIFA World Cup 2014 Top 5 lists” on Cincinnati.com →

ten words or less #90

Columbus Crew forward Dominic Oduro and his pizza hair

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.

Dani Alves eating the banana that was thrown at him. – vine.com

Call me boring, but I’d pick to be Philipp Lahm. – youtube.com/nikesoccer

Financial Fair Play’s true intent? Wage and fee inflation control. – thescore.com

Dear Atlanta: do NOT use any of these names. – bizjournals.com

Yes, Barcelona have developed some great players, but…  – bleacherreport.com

My birthday is in June, in case anyone was wondering. – camporetro.com

Dr. Evil’s boardroom or FIFA Executive Committee boardroom? – dirtytackle.net

This should please the Everton faithful. – metro.co.uk

Choosing the right league at launch: easier said than done. – mlssoccer.com

All things considered, Ryan Giggs’ dad seems like a prick. – bleacherreport.com

pic of the week 2/3-2/9

Image

A pitch invader gets a very Brazilian celebration

Like the increasing trend of students rushing the court in college basketball, invading the pitch is becoming incredibly cliché. It used to be a unique event, but it happens so often anymore it hardly warrants attention. No longer reserved for just the obnoxiously inebriated supporter — though those guys still show up on occasion — we’ve seen pitch invaders ranging from political activists to thrill seeking streakers in recent years. And when it comes to celebrating supporters rushing out en masse, it sure seems like the standard for justifying the rushing the playing surface has diluted tremendously. The television cameras at the stadium have even been instructed to ignore them, so as to not promote more banal tomfoolery.

But last week, one pitch invader managed to transcend the cliché nature of the action and captured the world’s attention in the process. Seven year old Ayo Dosumu slipped away from his father and down onto the field in the immediate aftermath of the Brazil’s 5-0 dismantling of hosts South Africa. But before security was able to whisk him away, hat-trick hero Neymar scooped up the youngster, carried him over to his teammates who then proceeded to hoist the youngster up on their shoulders. And the world ate it up, despite the fact that little guy totally broke a bunch of rules in the process.

Cuteness counts for something, right? Let’s just hope this doesn’t provoke a rash of pitch invasions this summer with fans from around the world trying to recreate Ayo’s picturesque moment for themselves.

el clásico tranquilo

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.

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ten words or less #74

we check back in with dribble 4 toledo, who now find themselves in paulding, ohio.

we check back in with dribble 4 toledo, who now find themselves in sherwood, ohio.

It seems like everyone is hitting the road these days. Premier League clubs are playing one another in Yankee Stadium. Or how about Neyamar, who’s packing his bags and leaving Brazil for greener (potentially) pastures in Barcelona. Better yet, remember the guys I wrote about back in early February? You know, the band of four dudes from my hometown who were making an epic trip across the state with only a soccer ball at their feet and the goal of raising money and awareness for the poor of Toledo in their minds?

Well at the close of the ninth day of Dribble4Toledo‘s 250 mile route, I’m happy to report the guys already find themselves well over halfway through their journey from Monroe to Toledo. Along the way, they’ve had some interesting detours along the route, so be sure to check out their Facebook page to chart their progress and see what they’re getting themselves into. And congrats and safe travels again to the boys as they continue their path across Ohio!

And to keep the trend going, I’ll also be hitting the road this week… albeit in significantly more lazy fashion, as I’ll be in a car and not hoofing it like the boys from D4T. First, I’ll be heading North to watch the US Men as they take on a Spurs-rich Belgium side in Cleveland. Then at the weekend, I’ll be sliding over to Chicago’s Toyota Park to watch the Fire battle DC United and kick off the next big project here at WSOTP. All told, it will be over a 1000 miles worth of driving just so I can fill these pages with content and keep your prying eyes coming back for more. Don’t worry, you can thank me later.

In the mean time, enjoy these excellent links from around the interwebs.

NYCFC’s logo won’t look like this; and that’s a shame. – mwillis.com

A brilliant breakdown of the reasons behind Falcao to Monaco. – reddit.com/u/nikcub

But will Monaco even be allowed to play in France? – guardian.co.uk

Neymar will either prove he belongs or crash and burn. – espnfc.com

The end of a beautiful friendship: Cosmos switch to Nike. – footballshirtculture.com

Trying to get into the Champions League Final… for free.
- supportersnotcustomers.com

Americanisms vs Britishisms. Funny thing: there is no right answer. – bbc.co.uk

Cesc on a mission to play for everyone I hate. – foxsports.com

This one is for mi amiga colombiana… crazy Colombian hair! – thebeautifulgear.com

Everton redesign their kit: fans hate it. Club’s response: surprising. – evertonfc.com

ten words or less #64

christmas soccer

what… this isn’t how you celebrate your christmas every year?

No matter what your beliefs, as the oft-played song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. But while most might label it as such because of the presents, the family gatherings or the excessive amount of eating and drinking that often accompanies the holiday season, my reasoning is a little different: football, football and more football. Between three full sets of match days in a fortnight and the upcoming January transfer window, there’s enough soccer on tap to feed the needs of even the most ardent footie fanatic.

So to help kick things off, I’ve prepared my latest TWOL posts to help get you in the mood for the insanity.

Most leagues put up nets to protect fans, not players. – bbc.co.uk

Should we start sounding the death knell for GolTV? – philly.com

Lone Udinese fan travels to Sampdoria, shown excellent time. – football-italia.net

“The oldest extant professional U.S. soccer footage.” – freebeermovement.com

Apparently, Neymar has a thing for Disney princesses. – dirtytackle.net

The reasons behind Timmy Chandler’s USMNT indecision. – inbedwithmaradona.com

This might explain some of the shit writing on Goal.com. – guardian.co.uk

Get me this, and I might start drinking hard liquor. – theoriginalwinger.com

Who’s better: EPL or La Liga? It’s not even close. – blog.paddypower.com

This kid is… what’s the word… deluded. – reddit.com/soccer

sell by date

Sometimes, I find it amazing how factors outside the world of football can so profoundly affect the game.

Brazil's Lucas Moura

lucas moura’s £35 million capture by PSG is a sign of the times with young brazilian talents.

For instance, a nation’s culture often influences its traditional style of play. England’s fast-paced, direct style can very much be linked to the importance of bravery, determination and a “do it for the Queen” mentality in the country’s cultural values. Germany’s traditionally disciplined outlook might have given way to a more creative one in recent years, but that was due in large part to refocusing their efforts on technical development — a prowess for which the German’s are well-known. Even in the US, our wear our heart on our sleeves, work harder than anyone else attitude shines through in our national side’s tendency to have extremely fit, industrious players.

Political fighting and revolution has seen club football in Egypt suspended since March 2011. The Pacific Northwest’s fondness for the alternative scene made it the perfect location to become soccer’s American hotbed, as they’ve embraced America’s most-bagged upon sport like true hipsters that they are. It’s even been postured that the main reason the World Cup has been hustled about to so many far-flung locations is so Sepp Blatter can win himself a Noble Peace Prize.

Of course, the biggest outside factor that I’ve neglected to mention so far is also the most obvious: money.

Most of the time when thinking about the influence that the influx of money into the game displays, most would be quick to point out one of a few key examples. The success seen with Roman Abramovich’s propping up of Chelsea, the Qatari’s pumping up Paris Saint-Germain, or Sheik Mansour pouring nearly a billion into Manchester City serve as the archetype for money’s impact on the game. But billionaires investing in various individual clubs isn’t the only way that money helps to shape the current state of the game.

To illustrate this point, consider Brazil. Long recognized as the world’s pre-eminent and largest factory of footballing talent, clubs around the world have long sought to unearth their own Brazilian and take advantage of the jogo bonito that spews from their feet. It was a relatively easy task for most European sides to cherry pick, too. Dangle a carrot of substantially higher wages than what their Brasileiro clubs could afford to pay, offer their clubs a tidy fee, and you’d have yourself a Brazilian. For instance, take a look at how much it set back European sides to purchase some of Brazil’s most famous exports over the last fifteen years:

Player Brazilian Club Buying Club Year Age Transfer Fee
Rivaldo Palmeiras Deportivo la Coruña 1994 24 £10.5m
Ronaldo Cruziero PSV Eindhoven 1994 17 £4.8m
Cafu São Paulo Real Zaragoza 1995 25 £1.3m
Ronaldinho Grêmio Paris Saint-Germain 2001 21 £4.5m
Lúcio Internacional Bayer Leverkusen 2001 24 £7.4m

First, notice that all of the purchasing clubs aren’t exactly European heavyweights — well, PSG weren’t at the time anyway. For the Brazilians, that was a good thing. Each player moved to a side that they were all but guaranteed playing time, which allowed them to develop and improve their games before they could progress to bigger and better clubs. Second, notice too how low the transfer fees paid for each of them was. With the clubs not demanding ridiculous buyouts for their players, it wasn’t a massive risk for a European side to take a gamble on a player that wouldn’t be a guarantee to pan out. And when it did work out, it did ensure a rather large profit for the club that was willing to take that risk.

But that trend soon changed, and as you might expect, it was sparked primarily by a financial boom born outside the realm of football.

While the world economy has suffered through the largest recession since the Great Depression over the last decade, Brazil’s economy has been one of the few that’s bucked the trend. Thanks to a liberalization of their foreign investment policies, combined with an emerging technology sector and the growing importance off their off-shore gas and oil holdings, Brazil’s GDP has averaged over 5% growth over the last five years and will soon become the world’s 5th largest economy. And though there are still vast amounts of people living in the slums in the country, the rapidly growth of the middle class is a sign that things are moving in the right direction.

neymar being mobbed by the masses

as neymar’s star has risen, so has his asking price.

Predictably, the nation’s national pastime was quick to see the benefits of such economic stimulation. Third party investment in the star players at Brazilian clubs — which provides the investor a large cut of each player’s image rights and shirt sales — skyrocketed, allowing Brazilian sides to offer considerably higher wages than they previously could. These higher wage offerings have allowed sides like Santos to hang on to highly sought after talents like Neymar far longer than they would have been able to in the past. Additionally, it’s also helped sides like São Paulo attract veteran players such as Luís Fabiano and get them come back a few years earlier than they previously would (I penned an entire post about this last season). All of which has helped to make the Brazilian leagues much more competitive, not to mention more appealing to the all-important foreign TV market.

So all seems honky dory, right? Well, not quite.

On the surface, Neymar and others of his generation are reaping the benefits of the country’s new-found wealth. They’re getting paid as much as they would if they had moved on to Europe, but without the risk of having to move an ocean away from home and try to adapt to a new culture. All your friends and family are close, and you’re one of the best players in the country. The average player still get’s to leave behind the life of poverty, yet doesn’t have to go a half world away to make it happen. Win-win.

But like everything else in life, there’s always a flip side to the coin. And in the case of Brazilian footballers, there are several elements to other side of the coin.

Sure, Brazilians might not need Europe for its riches any longer. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t need it’s leagues either. Look at Neymar performance in the Olympic final, where the golden boy was once again exposed. Mexico’s high pressure defense didn’t provide him the time and space for his standard flash and panache. El Trí were able to force into bad positions on the pitch, rushed passes and a handful of turnovers. So for a player that many have claimed to be one of the best players in the world, why wasn’t he able to assert himself better?

Most sides that he faces in South America adopt a very deep back line to leave room for their favored counter attacking style. Coupled with the respect his talent deserves, and Neymar tends to have loads of time for his theatrics. But when forced where he was forced to face a high pressure defense, that space and time evaporated. The same thing happened to him in the Club World Cup last year, where he was in over his head against Barcelona. Just like his time playing in this summer’s Olympics, he had his moments of brilliance, but they were few and fleeting against the top-notch competition.

Oscar of Brazil

oscar shown for team brazil during the olympics, but will he be given the same opportunity at stamford bridge?

So while going to Europe won’t necessarily provide young Brazilians with the fatter wallet it used to, the old continent is still unrivaled when it comes to providing top class competition. Everyone in your side is a good player, and the day-in-day-out training and stiffer competition for both your place on the pitch and the results of the match will undoubtedly push a special talent to reach their full potential. As long as Neymar continues to stay in Brazil, it’s highly probably that he could potentially never reach that potential… and that would be a shame, especially considering the country’s sky-high ambitions.

So now that we’ve established why the young starlets of Brazil need to move on to Europe at one point or another, how does this tie back in to the country’s finances?

With these young players staying longer and getting paid on par with their European counterparts, they’ve become infinitely more valuable assets to their current Brazilian clubs. When they sell on a star player, Flamengo or Grêmio or Fluminense don’t just lose a hard to replace member of their starting eleven, but also a possibly impossible to replace income stream from advertising dollars and shirt sales. So if some club from Europe really wants to pry away one of their most prized resources, they’re going to have to shell out a handsome sum to do so. That’s why we’re seeing a young 19-year old starlet like Lucas Moura requiring nearly a £35 million transfer fee, an outrageous fee that only a super-rich side like PSG can afford. In fact, this has been a developing trend for quite a while now:

Player Brazilian Club Buying Club Year Age Transfer Fee
Robinho Santos Real Madrid 2005 21 £18.8m
Pato Internacional A.C. Milan 2007 18 £18.8m
Oscar São Paulo Chelsea 2012 20 £20.0m
Lucas Moura São Paulo Paris Saint-Germain 2012 19 £34.8m

That’s silly money, the kind that only a few teams in the world can pay. And with Internacional president Giovanni Luigi claiming Tottenham or any other suitors will need to meet the £47m buyout clause for Leandro Damião, and Santos saying Neymar is now “priceless”, it certainly looks a trend that will continue. Which would be fine, if it weren’t for just one more niggling factor.

When a 20-year Oscar arrived in West London — with the weight of expectation from his £20m pricetag hanging around his neck — there are a half dozen other players that can play in his favored central creator role: Mata, Hazard, Ramires, Essien, Benayoun and McEachran. And like we’ve seen from players that don’t get regular minutes at this pivotal point in their lives, they don’t continue to develop. Every emerging talent moving to a European power should expect a dog fight to climb into the first eleven, and understand it’s a risk.

Now compare those clubs to those of the players mentioned in the first list, and notice the size difference. If a player goes earlier to a smaller club, they might not get the pay day, but they’re given a much more realistic chance of establishing themselves in the side. The pay off for which can mean the difference between success abroad, establishing one’s place in the national team, and eventually reaching their maximum potential.

It’s almost as if young Brazilians are gallons of milk at the grocery: if they’re held onto too long, they go past their sell by dates.

One would hope that CBF officials are taking note of these kinds of trends, too. If they have any hope of Brazil lifting the World Cup trophy in the Maracanã in two year’s time, they’ll have to break the stranglehold of Spain’s mile deep talent pool, beat the German’s in the race to redevelopment, and maybe find a way to beat Mexico! And they’ll need this extremely talented crop of youngsters to reach their full potentials to do that. Yet if their starlets waste away on the benches of European giants for the next few years, I don’t know if that will be possible.

Look, it’s great that Brazil’s economy is expanding and lifting millions out of poverty. And it’s equally great that Brazilian players don’t have to seek pastures anew to achieve their dreams. But if the trickle down effect of all this money into Brazilian football continues on its current trajectory, I worry that the expectations of the entire country might be a bit too high… the victims of their own success.

new year’s resolutions

As 2011 winds to a close and the dawn of a new year is upon us, I imagine many of you are in the final stages of planning for the annual — and often eventually pointless — ritual called “New Year’s Resolutions”. Every year, millions around the world make commitments to achieve personal goals over the next year such as losing a set amount of weight, breaking bad habits or forming good new ones.

times square soccer ball

now that a very soccer ball-ish times square ball has dropped, it's time to think about what we want to have happen in 2012

However, despite these resolutions generally being made with the best of intentions, for one reason or another, we normally have a hard time keeping them. Scientists tell us that only 12% of all of New Year’s Resolutions are actually met by year’s end, a rate poor enough to make you wonder why we even make them in the first place.

Personally, I like to take the easy way out by not botering to make resolutions, period. By taking this approach, it prevents me from feeling disappointed when I don’t meet the overly ambitious targets I always end up setting for myself. After all, the easiest goals to achieve are the one’s you never make… or something like that.

But just because I don’t set my own resolutions, that doesn’t mean that I can’t make empty promises for other people instead.

Why pass up soaking in all of the instant gratification of setting ambitious goals, especially when I’m not responsible for any of the work that goes into turning dreams into reality?!

With that in mind, I present to you my idealistic 2012 World Football New Year’s Resolutions list:

For Mario Balotelli to keep being… Mario Balotelli

 balotelli why always me

i don't know why, mario... but let's hope it stays that way.

To say that the young Manchester City starlet has endured a roller coaster 2011 might just be the understatement of the year. From the highs of driving around Manchester’s city centre in a convertible giving fans high fives, to the lows of lighting his own bathroom on fire with fireworks, the Italian starlet has been nothing short of a machine at producing ridiculous headlines. He seems more at home in a made-up comic strip than in the life of a real, live professional athlete. And that’s just the way we like it, especially since he tends to make my job writing significantly easier. So please, Super Mario, don’t go changing anything. Just keep being you: it’s what you do best.

For Jürgen Klinsmann to show his grand USMNT experiment is actually working.

Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I’m all for Klinsmann’s efforts to reshape the national team and build it a new identity, and I know that this transformation won’t happen overnight. It needs some time to set in, like any master plan, and I feel like a pretty patient guy. However, it’s hard to stomach loses and ties against sides that we had been — and should still be — beating. I’m not asking for us to start rolling over Mexico like the Spanish would Andorra, but I would prefer to see us start stringing together some positive results sooner rather than later. A continued run of bad showings could, after all, have a devastating impact on the team’s moral and confidence. And that’s definitely not something we need heading into World Cup qualifying.

For John Terry to finally get what’s coming to him.

I’ve made no secret for my distaste for Terry in this space, so it’s not surprising that I would want for fate to finally catch up with the bastard in 2012. And even though I don’t need to recant all of his sins since most of them have played out publicly, I still want to. So, here’s why John’s karma is long overdue to bite Mr. Chelsea: 2001) drunkenly taunts American tourists at Heathrow airport immediately after 9/11, 2002) charged with assault for an altercation with a nightclub bouncer, 2009) takes cash bribes to give unauthorized tours of Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, 2010) may or may not have had an affair with a former teammate/friend’s baby mama, 2011) racially abuses the younger brother of international teammate during a match. Even though he’s been “cleared” in a majority of those cases, how can one guy be investigated for so many claims and they all be false? Oh yeah, they can’t. Cue the Law & Order dun-dun!

For Jose Mourinho to finally to overhaul Barcelona as the best side in Spain.

mourinho eye poke

if mourinho doesn't come out on top soon, i fear for eyes the world over.

I know it’s pretty unrealistic to think this could happen in the 2012 calendar year, despite the fact that Real are currently three points clear of rivals Barça going into the Winter Break. Pep Guardiola and his men definitely still have a death-grip like hold over Mourinho and his charges’ confidence, as is evident with their impressive strings of results in the multitude of Clásicos in 2011. And while I’d love to see Los Blancos regain the edge in the rivalry for reasons that include restoring “parity” to Spain (and I very loosely use the word parity considering it’s a league where only two teams ever win) and being a fan, my main reason for wanting to see Mourinho finally overcome his demons is much, much more important. You see, I fear that if the Special One’s galácticos don’t take over the crown as Spain’s best soon, I think he’s going to poke out EVERYONE’s eyes.

For Alex Morgan to increase the number of shoots she books like this one.

So what if I’m married? I’m allowed to have internet crushes on attractive celebrities just like anyone else. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with desiring to see more scantily clad pictures of my chosen crush. I mean as far as the picture shown, it underlines her ability to look attractive in both classy and sporty attire, not to mention her ability to knock the balls around… knock balls around the pitch you dirty perverts. And thanks to the WUSA WPS getting a renewed lease on life from US Soccer, Miss Morgan should stay in the limelight just a little bit more.

For Daniel Levy to not only continue sticking to his guns on not selling, but also pull the trigger on some big buys too.

Look, I’m stoked that the Tottenham chairman told Chelsea to shove their £40 million for Modrić where the sun doesn’t shine over the summer. It showed ambition, and sent a message to the rest of the growing egos in the locker room that nobody was bigger than the club. But aside from the last minute swoop for Rafa van der Vaart two summers ago and the bargain buying of Scott Parker from a desperate-for-cash West Ham, Levy hasn’t exactly shown any willingness to spend to match the club’s ambition. Though the free signing of Brad Friedel and the short-term solution of Adebayor up top have proven to be shrewd bits of business, the club desperately need to make a statement buy. Otherwise, can Spurs really consider themselves title challengers if we’re the only side that’s not continuously bringing in world class, young talent? I don’t think so.

For Neymar to finally move to a team in Europe, and for said team, to make him cut his hair.

neymar and his hair

hey, rufio. leave your hair in brazil once you leave for europe.

It might just be me, but I’ve grown extremely tired of the weekly Neymar transfer rumors. At this point, I’m not sure if the constant stream of “done deal” rumors to Real Madrid/Barcelona are actually true, or if it’s just an elaborate ruse by Santos to raise their asking price for the extremely talented young starlet. And if anything was learned from Barcelona wiping the floor with Santos at the Club World Cup final, it’s that Neymar needs to move on to a club where he’ll be pushed to raise the level of his game… and that clearly can’t happen in Brazil. And let’s be honest, a classier club will actually make the kid cut off his stupid rooster hair so he looks like a proper footballer.

For Blackburn Rovers owners Venkeys to finally put their manager out of his misery.

Don’t let yesterday’s upset win away at Old Trafford fool you: even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time. Said plainly, Rovers boss Steve Keane is not a Premier League caliber manager. The rumors of his impending sacking have been circulating since at least the tail end of last season. And to be completely honest with you, I have no clue how he’s still in his job. The Ewood Park outfit have struggled in nearly every department on field this season, and the fans have stood in unison for months saying that want the poor guy out. Maybe the Venkeys think they can save themselves from the drop if they just stick it out with the same manager all season, who knows. But regardless of whether you have a shit manager or not, if you don’t end up spending a significant amount of money to bring in fresh blood this January, you are going down.

For Carlos Tévez to end up at A.C. Milan.

With the dispute between Carlitos and City having now extended an entire half of a season, the Citizens are finally ready to rid themselves of this headache permanently. And luckily, they’ve lowered their asking price enough that a few other clubs are at least considering the thought of making a move for the temperamental striker. Though Corinthians have renewed their interest, the club making the most noise about signing Tévez are the Rosaneri. So why do I want him to end up there? Well, if Carlos is signed permanently, Milan will have the undisputed craziest front line in the world: Robinho (the brat), Pato (the indifferent), Cassano (the mad hatter), Ibrahimović (the bully) and Tévez (the ego). And with Silvio Berlusconi resuming his duties as club chairman, I’m really hoping he forces Allegri to play all five of them at once.

And lastly, for Fernando Torres to keep looking like this:

sulking torres on chelsea bench