It was a boring weekend in the Premiership as snow postponed almost all fixtures with the exception of Blackburn and West Ham struggling through for a draw, and Sunderland eeking out a win at Bolton. For my part, I’d like to give credit to the hearty souls who braved the cold of Blackburn’s winter, little more than 25 miles down the road from the softies in Wigan who had to abandon their match for “freak weather conditions.” Which begs the question, “How do football matches get abandoned in this day and age? And what gives the FA the right to ruin my weekend plan involving the pub, a comfy chair, and a pint?
Call me old fashioned, but I long for the day when they would clear the show off the pitch lines, put out the hi-vis ball, and get on with it. Yes there were injuries, yes the quality of the game suffered, and yes it was an incredibly fun time. Have a look at the images featured in this post, and ask yourself, wouldn’t you love to see Rooney and Van Persie having a go at each other snow, or watching the practiced skills of Van Der Sar mean nothing against a well struck slippery ball off the feet of Kevin Davies? I was looking forward to Chelsea v. Manchester United to see some slip ups, and for once, an unpredictable result. Often, the decision is based on “fan safety,” which another way of saying that the club doesn’t want to be sued by fans who fall on the slippery paths. Honestly, if you’ve gone outside in the ice and snow carrying your small child, or your elderly, I don’t feel too much blame should go the club for you connecting your backside withe the ground. But, sensibilities must be protected, so most games were called off in for the benefit of the few, or a to ensure a long holiday for the club legal departmen
Sadly, I was reduced to the awkward stylings of Club Brugge who seemed to spend most of their match against Anderlecht, who are apparently their rivals, talking to the touchline. they lost 2-0, and deserved it. The best part of the weekend did come when the home supporters began to pelt the Anderlecht players with snowballs as they tried to take a corner, and after there victory on of the Anderlecht players began to playfully hurl them back, then got into a tussle with a steward who tried to stop him. None of it seemed to ill tempered, but it was a joy to see the fans and players having a bit of fun.
Overall a boring weekend of football, hopefully the snow will clear soon, and the Christmas games will be played, if not, I may have to invest in a Club Brugge scarf.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
NO PAPER! JUST PLASTIC!
Will he ever give it up? Former England captain and 35-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham is seeking a loan move to a European club to stay fit and to hopefully earn a call up into the England national squad. Here’s what he had to say:
“I will be going back somewhere as I want to keep myself fit and keep myself in with a chance of getting called up for England again.
“To do that, I have to be somewhere so fingers crossed I can sort something out.
I have always missed playing in the Premier League since I left it almost eight years ago. It is a great league and one of the most competitive in the world. Maybe one day I will come back here but I have always said that it will only be for Manchester United. I am not holding my breath on that one, but we will have to wait and see.”
Ahem? What are you doing, Mr. Beckham? Realistically, his only chance of getting called up for England is to play in a meaningless friendly. Can you imagine Beckham playing in a meaningful European tie with his form as of late? His love for the game and his desire are all admirable traits. However, it’s time for Beckham to look for a spot to hang up his boots. He has already has begun retirement for a few years with the Galaxy with uninspired play (for the majority of fixtures). His set piece mastery is still a valuable resource for most sides but with England’s plethora of younger midfield prospects, does Capello have any incentive to call up the old fart for any reason but nostalgia?
His chance of injury has increased dramatically over the past few season, as evidenced by his torn Achilles in March while on loan to AC Milan. Beckham has already ruled out a return to Milan due to the short nature of his stay (wouldn’t it be short no matter where he goes?), so possible suitors would be few and far between. Inter Milan could give Beckham a deal as really that squad is present this season for everyone to make jokes. I can’t see Beckham returning to Spain and Manchester United will perhaps listen to Beckham’s plea but no more. The squad is too deep for Beckham to fit into any games besides a meaningless cup tie here and there.
Don’t get me wrong: Beckham will be considered one of the greatest Englishmen ever to play the game. But the man is well past his prime. It’s time to let go. I can only hope a European squad does not see his loan plea as a serious acquisition. Beckham would be available to sell jerseys, sign autographs, and occasionally look to play a delicious set piece as a late sub in a meaningless game. Past that, I hope he stays with the Galaxy.
Well it should be another exciting weekend in the Premier League with the men in Chelsea jerseys facing the Red Devils of Manchester United. The Blues are coming in to the match on a bad streak after dropping points in the last five of their matches, and having slipped to fourth in the table. Manchester United haven’t exactly been sparkling of late either. Wayne Rooney may be back playing in the first team, but his form seems to mirror the up and down performance of the team as a whole. His absurd run up to the penalty he skyed over the bar seems to have said it all about the fortunes of United this season, lots of flash, questionable results.
United do have several things going for them going into the match, the first being their tendency to improve in the latter half of the season. Since their dismal display at West Ham a few weeks ago they have improved steadily, and now boast the linked passing and flowing, instinctive play which we have come to love. Beating Chelsea is never easy, especially at home, and the Red Devils have a poor record against them at home, however, they have never had a better chance. Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s center piece in the mid-field will be started for the match, but he only managed a few minutes against Tottenham. His nagging groin injury has plagued him for weeks now, but I think its too soon to see him come back for the whole of the match. Look for him to make it to the 60th minute, but I would expect him to subbed after that. Didier Drogba, who put the silly in his soccer shoes to miss the injury time penalty against Tottenham last week, will start, and I’m looking forward to watching him battle the United defense on both sides for possession, and perhaps sneak a goal.
As for United, they will be without the injured Paul Scholes, but should start their first team as well, but for the most part, they have to overcome their historical weakness playing Chelsea at home. Ferguson must adjust his tactics to take into account the punishing runs of the Chelsea strikers in his defense, and play tow strikers with a high midfield in order to volley in any shots parried by Cech.
It should be a cracking, end to end match with a few bad tempered tackles delivered by both sides. Combined with their standings in the table, and the hunger Chelsea have displayed to get a win at home over a big club to reignite their title hopes, I’m very optimistic. I’m predicting Chelsea 2-1 Man Utd
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
Every now and again, while tending to Ye Olde SoccerPro Shoppe, I look at the wall of soccer balls and think, “man, what if those were Texas sized?” Then I remember, we have a Texas sized ball right in the shop with the Select Grande Trainer ball! I bet three full size 5 balls could fit inside this bad boy, so long as you cut one ball in half and distribute it properly. When parents and kids come in the shop, both take notice of the ball. Kids think it’s cool because it’s awesomely huge, and parents dig it because it’s awesomely goofy. For me, it falls somewhere along that spectrum.
For the technical stuff, the ball has a PU casing and latex bladder construction and blahbity blahbity—it’s just as well constructed as any other ball, but Select had the cojones to make a ball brilliantly huge. Speaking of brilliant, the visual design of this ball is the same as the rest of Select’s Brilliant Super line. Each hexagonal plate is stitched together and is outlined by shapes that I can only describe as “Asteroid ships.” I mean the game, not the ship from the truly epic Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck cinematic masterpiece.
Do I think this ball would be great for dodgeball? Nope. Kids would be visiting the hospital too often. Is it great for four-square? I doubt it. It doesn’t bounce high enough or lend itself to being slapped very much. What do I suggest you do with this ball? Get a few friends together, and take it to the park. Spread really far apart, and then bomb this sucker to one another. You’ll definitely impress some fellow park-goers. Who knows, this soccer ball could be a soccer version of taking your puppy to the park. Sure, it’s $43.99 per ball, but can you really put a price on impressing people and potentially snagging a date? I don’t think so.
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com
Mexico has been one of my favorite national teams for as long as I can remember, which just so happens to be the 1994 world cup. Originally my affinity for the squad stemmed from the national colors and their sweet jerseys. I mean, who doesn’t remember the totem jersey design from 1998? As time goes on, though, I find myself digging the squad for their players. Javier Hernández, Giovani dos Santos, and Guillermo Ochoa are exciting to watch and are definitely on the rise. However, the order of business today is not to discuss the future of Mexico’s national team, but it is instead to talk about the Adidas Mexico Goalkeeper Jersey.
At first glance, this goalkeeper jersey is a little deceiving visually—it seems to be a plain white jersey with the Adidas logo and the Mexican team crest. However, a closer look reveals a lot more going on with this jersey. The sleeves, for example, are sectioned off into three parts. The shoulders are a black background with a red 3-stripe design on top, which is of course a nice contrast with the white jersey. From the shoulder to the elbow, the jersey is indeed just white. After the elbow comes a return of the 3-stripes, although this time in green with a white background. The back of the elbow/forearm also has the necessary padding outlined by green. The sleeves are a simple, classic design that perfectly complements the front of the jersey.
At the top center of the jersey is a green stitched Adidas logo. On the left chest is a stitched Mexican team crest, which is classic in its own right. The two sides of the abdomen are a plain and simple white area fenced in by the same green fabric lines that border the elbow pads. Sounds pretty ordinary and mundane, right? Well, that’s where the subtle design on the front comes into play. The subtle design is a stylized bas-relief pattern that resembles feathers laid out in a shingle-like form. This of course makes sense by following the Eagle sitting proudly atop the team crest. Adidas made a smart move by making it a simple relief design rather than opting for a separate color altogether. The subtleness communicates that something is there when viewed from a distance, and when viewed up close, presents a classy, somewhat reserved design. On the other hand, one could see the design as being multiple spearheads, which I suppose lets opponents know that the keeper is “in it to win it” as they say and won’t be taking any guff.
As for comfort, this jersey is just as comfortable as any other on the market. It has the standard Adidas CLIMACOOL technology, and the elbow/forearm pads ensure that the jersey can be played in for quite some time. At the moment, these bad boys are on sale at SoccerPro.com for $59.99, which I’d say is a fair price. It’s high time these keeper jerseys get the attention they deserve.
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com
Let’s get things straight first: I think the FIFA Club World Cup is a phenomenal idea. The world is getting smaller and smaller everyday with advent of new technologies and FIFA is right on board with this notion. Idea: Hold a contest between the best teams from all six continental confederations to crown a champion of the world. Problem: Formatting of the tournament makes the contest largely a competition between the UEFA Champions League Winner and a team from Brazil or Argentina.
Hold up, you say. Aren’t these the two best teams from their respective confederations and did they not prove their worth over other continental confederation champions? To answer this, let me paint a picture for you: imagine a restructured UEFA Champions League, one of the most exciting competitions in all of soccer. The new format pits only champions of domestic leagues in a knockout round, seeding the teams based off of prestige of the league (in essence, the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and Bundesliga champions all get byes and will never be pitted against one another until at least the semi-finals). No more group play. Do you want to live in that world? Didn’t think so.
Transport this same concept to a world tournament. Welcome to the Club World Cup. UEFA and CONMEBOL champions automatically get a bye to the semi-finals of a supposedly prestigious competition. Play two games and a squad has a new trophy to add to the case. I want to kick soccer balls directly into that case and steal that trophy, maybe sell it? I’d hope to get no more than $5 with how worthless the intrigue is of the competition. As an American, maybe I’m a bit bitter not to have a chance to prove MLS’s worth comparatively to other leagues around the world. Really, I’m crying out for another relaunch of a competition that could rival the UEFA Champions league, given the right nurturing and care.
Here’s the proposal so we don’t have any more quotes from Inter president Massimo Moratti hailing the importance of the competition:
1). 4 teams from each of the six continental confederations for a total of 24 teams. 6 groups of 4 teams, no more than 2 teams from the same confederation in each group. 3 group games for each team
2). Top 2 from each group advance. Top 4 point earners get a bye into the next round. Home and home knockout at each step in the knockout round with a one time seeding process to pit teams against one another.
3). Winner of Club World Cup automatically qualifies for next years tournament. Span tournament between 1-2 months smack dab in the middle of winner.
Really, this system would just steal the best elements from other established competitions instead of implementing its own ridiculous system. Imagine Inter Milan playing the Colorado Rapids in a game that actually mattered? I’m already grinning from ear to ear. Sure, there are the complications of fitting this type of competition into a footballer’s busy schedule. Logistics can be taken care of over time. Have faith.
The tribe has spoken. Let the debate begin over a currently utterly worthless tournament.
It’s probably fair to say that European football superpowers dominate much of the attention across the globe. That isn’t to say the attention is necessarily undeserved, but I still think clubs from leagues aside from La Liga, the EPL, Bundesliga, etc. should get some attention as well. With that said, let’s talk about a jersey from one of the premier Mexican league teams, Club América.
The team’s colors are navy and yellow, so of course those were the colors Nike used to create this Club America jersey. The collar, for the most part, is a plain yellow with a strip of red fabric running across the front of the neck. The sleeves are also simply yellow without any particular design, with a navy cuff. What really strikes me about this jersey is the design on the abdomen and the alignment of the sponsor logos and team crest. Starting from just below the neckline, we get a stitched Club América team crest pretty much where the sternum is. While we’re on the crest, I have to say, this team crest is definitely underrated. It’s slick and classy, I think, with silhouetted North and South America continents sitting between a capital “C” and “A” and a old style football playing background to it all. Very cool.
Anyway, just below the crest is the obligatory Nike swoosh in yellow. Beneath the swoosh is the “Bimbo” logo, which fits in very well with the shirt, and below that, is the Powerade logo, just for good measure. Normally, the team crest and production company are on either side of the chest, but I like what Nike did here. It kind of brings a unity to the shirt whereas the regular design style would have looked a little too chaotic. The other element tying it all together is the stylized abdomen. Starting from the armpit, there are wide diagonal bands, designed to simulate the abdomen muscles, I suppose. There’s also a vertical yellow band that begins about mid rib level and spans the stylized abdomen while gradually thinning out at the bottom. Oh, and there’s also a Corona logo printed across the shoulder blades on the back of the soccer jersey, because eh, what’s one more sponsor?
As for the feel of the shirt, I’d say the inside feels pretty much like a basketball jersey. It’s 100% polyester and made with Nike Dri-FIT technology, so it’s comfortable. The price tag is $63.99 at SoccerPro.com, which is definitely a fair price for this jersey. It’s a standard Nike jersey with some pretty cool design aspects, and it’s for a team in a lesser known professional league. What’s not to like?
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com
“You’ve got Di Canio, we’ve got your stereo,” was a song once sung by the Anfield faithful, but now a days the snarky criticism is often turned inward, and less creative. The repeated chants of “Kenny Daglish,” and the reception shown to Gerard Houllier show that Roy Hodgson is all but settled in his new post at the club. Granted, he has a very little time in which to make an impact, but his record on the pitch has not endeared him to many fans.
The men in Liverpool jersey were always in for a hard season of ups and downs, especially once the power struggle between the now infamous American ownership of Hicks and Gillett and the club administration spilled first into the papers and then onto the streets. But even then, the resurgence of form that has seen Liverpool move up into the top 10 can hardly be regarded as a stunning success by Hodgson. His signings seem to have been equally uninspired and more targeted for a club like Fulham than one with the top flight ambitions of Liverpool. No offense intended to the Fulham faithful of course, but one question….Does you butler know your reading this?
Anyway, the real question is how long can the embattled manager hold on to his job, and do the new owners at New England Sports Ventures truly support him for the long term. He may have defended himself with strong words today saying he believes in his ability, but the look on his face spoke of desperation, and frustration. Hodgson is right about one thing, nothing with the team will change until the new owners decide to invest some money in new players. If the display tonight at Utecht is any measure of the squads future, then an injection of new blood is desperately needed. It seemed most of the Reds were asleep during one of the most boring matches in the history of the club. The BBC live text commentators took to making puns at each other they were so fed up with the match. At times, I felt like I might need a defibrillator to stay awake.
As the performances of the first team continue to stink of mediocrity, Hodgson days will begin to be numbered. If this woute is any indication, we may not be seing him on the touchline for much longer indeed,
Hodgson: “It doesn’t bother me because I can’t do more than I am doing, I can’t work harder, I can’t work better,” added Hodgson, whose team play his former club Fulham at home in the league on Saturday evening.
“I have great confidence in my ability, I don’t think there is any reason not to have.
“I know the players are working as hard as they can to win matches for Liverpool and therefore me as manager.”
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com