wrong side XI: offensive center mid

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.

this collection of mighty mites will do battle for the honor of my starting offensive midfield spot.

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.

Continue reading

ten words or less #38

sadly, this is how i probably appear to anyone from europe.

Between the Euro qualifiers, friendlies, the League matches and the Champions/Europa League qualifiers, I have to admit that I’m having a hard time following this season. Everything feels so… disjointed.

If it weren’t for Rooney being an idiot and Tottenham throwing away a winnable match, I wouldn’t feel like I know what’s going on this season at all.

Assou-Ekotto always tells it like it is. – mirror.co.uk

Another game for the soccer bar I’ll probably never own. – theoriginalwinger.com

The science is in: football is good for men. – independent.ie

The Brasileirão’s in danger of becoming a two-horse race. – theelastico.com

Ever wanted to know why random strangers wear certain jerseys? – footballists.wordpress.com

Today I Learned: Liverpool’s Pepe Reina has OCD. – dirty tackle @ yahoo.com

Paying Modrić what he deserves could be very dangerous. – telegraph.co.uk

wrong side XI: goalkeeper

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.

reina, casillas, hart, lloris and howard all make my shortlist.

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.

Continue reading

round up #5

time for another quick glance around the world’s football landscape.

the reds poor start to the season has pepe feeling less than optimistic

the reds' poor start to the season has pepe feeling less than optimistic

reina plays down liverpool’s title chances – soccernet.com
i honestly would love to see liverpool finally end their 20 year wait for their 19th english top flight championship, for two reasons: 1) it would put an end to this mundane run of manchester united and chelsea titles , and 2) it would finally shut up all of the liverpool faithful and their whining and bitching. but sorry ‘pool fans, this doesn’t look to be your year either. especially when you’re starting keeper doesn’t think it’s “realistic” to talk of titles with the current squad. ouch.

political football – times.co.uk

the debate about tapping up youth players continues, and this piece argues against the ideology that fifa and uefa are using in their approach to prevent another kakuta incident from happening. the author argues against michel platini and sepp blatter’s “french socialist model of football,” which looks to prevent young players from leaving their small clubs for europe’s elite level clubs. not exactly defending the european powers’ policies, the articleshows the danger of preventing those very policies might pose for the game.

brown admits tigers strikers could depart on loan – soccernet.com
the biggest assh**e of a coach in england, hull city manager phil brown, has admitted that he will likely loan out some of his strikers after some successful summer signings, including american starlet jozy altidore. good news for jozy. those rumored for loan moves include club record signing daniel cousin and caleb folan. i’ll admit that this isn’t even really that big of news, so why did i include it? the story includes the quote of the season so far from brown:

if you look around most clubs are rounding their squads out to about 25. you can only play 11 so that means 14 unhappy bunnies.

thierry henry pulls the strings of france’s puppet leader domenech – guardian.co.uk
an interesting theory that i think accurately describes the current atmosphere in the french national team camp. seriously, domenech has to be a moron. to have a group of players so talented and be so unsuccessful seems impossible (although, i think we can all remember steve mcleran and his england squad). i mean to have only scored 11 goals in world cup qualifying with the following attacking players seems even treasonous: henry, benzema, ribery, gourcuff, trezuguet, etc. it’s a miracle really that he hasn’t been fired yet. so i can’t really blame henry for criticizing him and taking control of the team one bit.

inside the nike boot room – youtube/nike
though this video is a year old, it’s still gives a really an awesome insight into how nike hand-makes the custom boots of the world’s best players. a few years back nike made the intelligent decision to hand-make all of their top-end shoes in italy, and though i’m not getting custom boots, i can attest that it’s made a world of a difference. a very interesting clip.