A weekend of outrageous goals on both sides of the pond has me feeling a little like I have a football hangover. While there’s no doubt that I enjoyed myself and all of the breathtaking strikes, I definitely over indulged this weekend, too. Attempting to sit down and write last night, my mind felt like it was stuffed so full that I couldn’t even crank out coherent sentences. I’m not even sure that what I’m writing right now is readable — it seems like it is, right now anyway. So while I’m waiting for my brain to gain back some of its halfway decent writing ability, I present to you a sampling of other people’s works that I found enjoyable over the last week or so.
And stay tuned later today, as we’ll have the latest Pondcast up for your listening enjoyment, too.
For those who have followed Wrong Side of Pond for any length of time longer than a week or two, you’re probably well aware of my deep love for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Longer-time followers are probably also familiar with my obsession with former Lillywhites star and current Real Madrid galáctico Gareth Bale.
Admittedly, it was pretty rough watching Bale depart for the Spanish capital two seasons ago. Okay, it downright sucked. But given time, it’s at least been a pill that could swallow.
I understand Bale’s ambition to play for arguably the greatest club of all time. He “dreamed” of playing for them as a schoolboy. Since his move to Iberia, he’s achieved tremendous success too. Those successes have ranged from seemingly less impressive feats such as holding down a spot in their starting XI — a much harder task at Madrid than it might seem — to scoring the winning goal to help Madrid lift their long-sought tenth Champions League trophy. Too, it’s not like he went to a direct rival and Spurs did receive a pleasant sum of Euros for parting ways with him. So for all of those reasons, I’ve been able to accept his successes even though he’s not been enjoying them while wearing a Spurs’ shirt.
However, with rumors of Bale moving on to Manchester United refusing to go away, I’ll admit that’s a pill I’m less inclined to take.
Despite most of Europe in the midst of a winter break and MLS being in a bit of dull period during its off season, the last podcast of 2014 still has plenty to offer. D.J. and Jeremy do their best to recall all of the Premier League action from Boxing Day and the past weekend’s double dose of fixtures, including hashing out the surprise managerial moves expected from Crystal Palace (#PardewIN!) and yet to be made by (Coloccini?). The guys also take a look back at the best and worst of world football from 2014, as well as making a few bold predictions for 2015. And as is normally the case, you’ll get your normal weekly servings of Fantasy Update, Fulham Watch and everyone’s favorite, Winners & Wankers.
Don’t forget that we will still want to answer your questions and talk about the topics that interest you in the “Pondcasts” coming in 2015. So send them to us via email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]comorhit us up on the social media links on the bottom of the page.
As 2014 winds down to a close, the world of soccer continues on at a torrid pace. And since you’ll probably have ample downtime to fill as you suffer through the annual family gatherings, the latest episode of the “Pondcast” is a perfect way to keep yourself entertained. Listen in as the guys talk about a throng of world-class finishes from last weekend’s highly interesting slate of Premier League matches, offer up a review of the Champions League Round of 16 draw, and chat about an MLS offseason that continues to throw news at us at an almost breakneck pace — among other things. You’ll also find weekly Winners & Wankers, Fulham Watch and Fantasy League Update segments, per usual. So find a secluded corner at Grandma’s house and grab your headphones, as we provide you a solid 80 minutes of soccer listening.
If you happen to think of question or topic you want us to cover on next week’s episode — yes, we’ll be offering you up one more before 2015 — send it our way via email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]comorhit us up on the social media links on the bottom of the page.
If I asked a group of fans to name the top active manager in football today, what names would you expect to see picked?
I’d expect we would see an avalanche of responses for José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. And rightly so: both managers have produced incredible results over the last five or so years. I’d hope Atlético’s Diego Simeone would get a few votes. And I’d wager Dortmund’s Jürgen Klopp would get a few too — though given his side’s disastrous form, probably not as many as a year or two ago. Jogi Löw or Vicente Del Bosque? Ok. Manuel Pelligrini or Louis Van Gaal? Maybe. Hell, a few naive Arsenal supporters might even still be willing to throw Arsène Wenger out there, but that number is likely dwindling too. Jürgen Klinsmann? I kid, I kid.
But there’s one name I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he received little to no votes: current Real Madrid supremo, Carlo Ancelotti.
My reasons for believing that aren’t just anecdotal either. I’ve had literally had the hypothetical discussion above several times before. And rarely ever does Ancelotti’s name come up. Which is odd, because the guy’s track record is pretty damn impressive.
With a big match on the horizon this weekend in domestic football — you know, the MLS Cup Final — we thought it high time to gather the local readers/supporters together again with another watch party at our favorite local pub, Rhinehaus in Over-the-Rhine. So if you happen to be in Cincinnati this coming Sunday (12/7), be sure to swing by to have a pint with the #Pondcast team and watch as Landon does battle with Jones in the former’s last ever professional soccer match. In fact, if you are going to be in town, let us know you’re attending by RSVPing here.
In the mean time, entertain yourselves by following any of the ten links below that I dug up from around the wide world web over the last week.
This week’s admittedly blurry “Pic of the Week” comes to us from La Liga, where Spanish giants Real Madrid visited minnows Granada at the weekend. The match itself went about how you might expect, with Real securing a 4-0 win and Ronaldo tallying his ridiculous 17th goal in the league despite only having featured in 9 matches. But that goal tally wasn’t the most ridiculous moment of the game, as that honor belongs to his fellow Portuguese teammate Pepe. The defender is a player well known for his rash challenges and quick-to-boil demeanor. We’ve all gotten used to him headbutting, hacking and even assaulting opposing players for years now. But I never expected him to try to murder a player on his own team. Until this weekend, that is.
Captured in the image above and in the video linked here, Pepe nearly impaled teammate and fellow mad man Sergio Ramos in straight Nigel De Jong fashion in the match. Admittedly, both players were attempting to clear a ball rather than challenge one another. But it just goes to show that no matter what team you play for, you need to be wary of stepping on the same field as Pepe… else it might be the last time you ever do.
We go around the world in 68 minutes on the latest edition of the podcast, as there was football aplenty to chat about. The Premier League was there to keep us busy as usual — in particular a surprise West Ham side and an unpredictably entertaining Chelsea-Manchester United match. El Clásico also got a run out, as did the Champions League fixtures from last week. Of course we had to make room to talk about the MLS Playoffs and end of season fixtures, too. And we even still had time to fit in our normal ‘Winners & Wankers’, ‘Fulham Watch’ and listener question segments. So buckle up and hang on… there’s a lot to football to digest in this week’s pod.
Also, don’t forget that if YOU have questions or topics you want us to touch on in future recordings, drop us an email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, tweet us or write it on our Facebook wall using the links at the bottom of the page.
Premier League weekend recap: check. Champions League rundown: check. #MLSNEXT and MLS playoff hunt thoughts: double check. This week’s WSOTP Podcast has football discussion in ample supply. Listen in as D.J. and Jeremy pontificate on Özil’s resurrection, Manchester United’s capitulation, and Leicester City’s adulation. The guys also share their thoughts on the new MLS Logo — which D.J. wrote extensively about — and how things are shaping up in the MLS Cup Playoffs race. There was still time to discuss the first round of Champions League group action at the end, too. And believe it or not, all that and more can be found in a package significantly shorter than last week’s epic pod.
This week’s edition of Pic of the Week comes a day later than normal thanks to a much needed break away from the internet during the Memorial Day holiday here in the US, but picking it couldn’t have been any easier for me. And the reason for selecting a shot of Gareth Bale scoring the game-winning, Champions League-title-clenching goal are many.
For one, despite his sale to Real Madrid last summer, the former Tottenham fullback/winger/attacking menace remains my favorite player. Stomaching his sale — and his seven “replacements” fumbling along at White Hart Lane — has been tough for sure, but my joy in seeing him score such an important goal on such a grand stage couldn’t have been any more intense. I tweeted at the time “I know he doesn’t play for us anymore, but as far as I’m concerned, Bale scored that goal for #Spurs too”… to which a mountain of Arsenal fans latched on to and laughed at. But with Tottenham playing such a vital roll in his development, and me following his career since his days at Southampton, it sure felt that way. Furthermore, I’m also a quiet Real Madrid fan, and was happy to see the club finally clinch their long-awaited 10th European Cup — La Décima. Oh, and the Welshman’s headed finish might possibly be the most perfectly placed upper-90 shot I’ve ever seen — almost exactly the same distance from the post and crossbar.
Anyway, congratulations to Gareth. You might not be at Spurs any longer, but you’ll forever be draped in lillywhite to me.