I’m still in shock that Newcastle are searching for a new manager with the way they’ve been performing this campaign. The Magpies sit in a comfortable 12th position after just coming off a promotion from the Championship, yet manager Chris Hughton got the sack, as the board
“Chris is such a lovely guy. Top man. This will hit the players hard. The players admired him, and liked him, and won’t be happy now he’s gone like this.”
The former England, Arsenal and Tottenham centre-back added: “You have got to ask yourself why this has happened because it makes no sense. Here is a guy who has done an unbelievable job. He got the club back into the Premier league and any manager would have been rewarded for that with a new contract – but Chris wasn’t.
“The players are sure to be asking themselves ‘what the hell is going on?’, that is only natural.
“We all had a good relationship with the players, and when we left training this morning none of the players had a clue this was coming.
“But word started to spread that the bookies had stopped taking bets and the players started texting each other with the news.
“Yes, it has come as a shock, and it will affect the dressing room there is no doubt about that.”
Regardless, the men in the Newcastle jersey have to move on. The Newcastle board wants to move forward with someone else, but Martin Jol is not the man. Why, you ask? Jol is a quitter. What makes you think he won’t quit if things go badly in the first couple months at Newcastle? He quit out of thin air when the Amsterdam giants Ajax were five points off the pace in the league this campaign, citing high expectations the ultimate demise of his job. What? Does Jol or the board really expect that he won’t have high expectations on him in England, especially considering his resume?
The only choice I see as a viable option is former Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill. O’Neill is just 4 months removed from his resignation at Villa Park and overall has a better grasp on the English game than Jol. Plus, O’Neill main reason for resignation only supports a look from the Newcastle board: he resigned because of lack of resources. In his tenure for the Villains, O’Neill made boys out of men, carrying the squad on his back to the club’s first cup final in 10 years and an extremely respectable 6th place finish in the league and a spot in Europe. What more can he do when the clubs above him are spending truckloads of cash each transfer period other than quit? O’Neill is the logical choice for the Magpies. Maybe a Jol hater because I can’t stand quitters. You tell me.
Written by Chris Behrens
The new White & Cyan Adidas F50 Adizeros finally came to the shop recently, and I’ve been waiting to talk about them ever since I heard of their impending arrival. The F50 Adizero line is no secret to players and fans—they’re the lightest boot on the market and used by world class strikers, most notably Lionel Messi. Let’s harp on that quality for a second. Before I tried a pair on for myself, I thought, “Ok, yeah they’re super light, but is it worth it?” Then I finally put a pair on and walked around the shop. Holy bejeezus, it was as if I hadn’t put shoes on at all. I obviously didn’t get a chance to use them to their full capacity, but the little personal demo offered a solid amount of incite to the ability of these boots.
You get a supreme touch on the ball with the added bonus of swift movement and acceleration. There’s also a great balance between stability and quickness, owing to the chassis structure and cleat design. The geometric triangle/diamond shape design of the studs keeps your feet from digging too far into the playing surface, and Adidas kept the number of studs to a minimum. You’ll get enough support in key areas like the heel and such, but Adidas kept the amount of studs at the front of the foot low. I think it’s a good move because it will reduce friction with the playing surface and give a little nudge forward with acceleration and top speed. The chassis of the shoe is also sturdy enough to allow quick turning and planting of the foot while also being flexible enough for comfortable movement.
My only issue with the F50 adizero line is the lack of protection on the top of the foot. I do understand that this boot is a striker boot and has to cater to that particular position which especially demands quick and free foot movement, so obviously protection isn’t on the top of the priority list. However, I would have liked to see some sort of security for the top of your foot—it’s hard to score goals with a broken metatarsal. All in all, though, I suppose this is less of a worry for those who rarely get their foot stomped on. The occasional wayward kick will always happen, and, in that scenario, I think a player wearing these boots will only end up with a pain or bruise.
Alright, now for the part everybody’s been waiting for—the white on white with cyan cleats color scheme! Let’s do an exercise real quick. Check out soccerpro.com and look at the white/cyan adizeros. Now look at your shoes. Now look at the adizeros. DIAMONDS. (Thanks Old Spice. Always wanted to do that.) This boot is basically the antithesis to the leopard print Ronaldo boots of, shall we say, debatable likability. It’s slick, clean and simple. The shoe is all around a reflective white color, and even the trademark 3-stripes are white. With the cleats being cyan, the overall effect of the shoe is a somewhat futuristic look. If spacemen played footy, they’d wear a shoe that looked like these boots. At $179.99, I’d look out for these boots in the market. If you decide to sit and wait on it, you might find yourself out of luck. Overall, I like the direction Adidas took with these soccer shoes’ color scheme. It gives a fresh perspective in the market that has seen highlighter and neon colors flourish; I for one welcome this fresh perspective!
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com
Manchester United face Valencia tomorrow in a clash that will decide who will finish top of their Group. While both teams have already secured their passage on to the next round, there is still a lot to play for tomorrow as whoever finishes second will have to face tougher opposition in the coming rounds. “We may be through now but we want to get to first spot to avoid any of the big teams in the earlier rounds,” said United keeper Edwin van der Sar.
Look for Manchester United to play a classic 4-4-2 formation with Chicharito, Berbatov, and Nani up near the top. I think Sir Alex will leave Rooney on the bench for the start of this, not so much because he needs more time to recover, but he hasn’t earned his place back yet. Berbatov and Nani have been brilliant and Ferguson will seek to acknowledge and encourage their success as Rooney will not be around forever. the men in Manchester United jerseys will also need to stay tight in the back as Valencia tend to grind down opponents, gradually whittling them away until they can grab a goal on the sly. Without Paul Scholes, who is out with a groin injury, United will have to look to the slippery feet of John O’Shea to hold back the attacks. As for tactics, so long as they can keep it together at the back their standard hard attack should work over Valencia nicely.
As for Valencia, they need to move the ball forward and often in order to take the steam out of United’s attack. Some old fashioned possession football combined with no stupid gifts off the soccer shoes on the feet of Chicharito should do the trick. Valencia may not have as many big name players as Real Madrid or Barcelona, but they area threat and cannot be discounted. Real Madrid learned a harsh lesson during this years “El Classico”, or more to the point “La Masarce,” you must play as a team to have a chance. Cobbling together a bunch of whinny millionaires is not enough to compete at the highest levels of soccer. Should be a cracking match with lots of action, but not many goals as the defenses hold strong at both ends.
I’m predicting Man Utd 1-0 Valencia
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
Just got word from SoccerPro that they are giving out a 10% coupon (use “holidaycheer”) to celebrate their nomination for “Best Football Gear Site” at SoccerLens for this year. You can vote for those cool cats here. The deal lasts only today so get your swag on before the deal is up. Note: Only valid with coupon code. Get an additional 10% off everything except items in the Clearance section, gift certificates, and Copa Mundials. Valid only on December 6, 2010. Discount is not valid on previous orders.
Embarrassed. Appalled. Downtrodden. All feelings Los Blancos are feelings after Barcelona delivered an annihilation that Jose Mourinho could have never seen coming. Recovering from such a thumping will be tough but if anyone can handle the adversity, it’s Mourinho. I’m trying to think of which player in a Real Madrid jersey had a good game and it’s tough to come up with one. Surprisingly, Casillas had a decent game, thanks to a couple of great instinct saves. Even after all the madness, El Clasico is only one fixture in a long campaign and Real Madrid sit only two points behind the Blaugrana. Sure, the loss is perplexing to most fans of the game. Sergio Ramos and Ricardo Carvalho picked up suspensions so they won’t be available for the contest and Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo are both doubtful for upcoming match, so it’ll be interesting to see who gets the starting nod. Expect often-criticized to Benzema to navigate the lone striker position, which is a tough pill for Mourinho to swallow.
Valencia have had a solid start to the campaign but still sit 10 points off the lead. No one is expecting the team to contend for a league title, especially with the lost of their two talisman David Villa and David Silva in the summer. However, the strike force should be motivated to get a result at the Santiago Bernabéu with former “Blanco” Roberto Soldado returning to his old stomping grounds (4 goals in the last 2 games). Aritz Aduriz has also had a decent start to the season thus far, notching 4 goals in 11 appearances for the club. Juan Mata will also be eager to get back to his old stomping grounds, where he grew up in the Real Madrid youth ranks. Mata has been on fire as of late and is starting to turn into the team’s leader with his blinding pace and recent knack for getting a goal or two. It’s as good a time as any to get a win at the Bernabéu with Madrid potentially still reeling from the devastation at Camp Nou and the injuries and suspensions piling up for the fixture.
I’m seeing Madrid dropping points here, but not the full 3. The side still has too much quality to lose at home to any team but Barcelona.
Written by Chris Behrens, writer for SoccerProse.com
The time has finally come for Arsene Wenger to win a trophy again. With a victory over lowly Wigan Athletic with his young Gunners, Wenger and the crew advanced to the semi-finals of the long-forgotten and mostly inconsequential Carling Cup. Comfortable victories over Tottenham, Newcastle, and Wigan place have led Arsenal to a simple match against lowly Championship side Ipswich Town, who currently sit 17th in the league standings. To put it into further perspective, Ipswich have struggled mightily to get to this point in the cup, having to win in extra time or penalties against Exeter City (that’s a team I use in FIFA when I really want to challenge myself with the worst players in England) and Crewe Alexandra (this is a real team?). Ipswich Town have also knocked out tough competition in Milwall and Northampton Town. They actually did earn a somewhat respectable win last round against West Bromwich Albion. But let’s face it: if men in an Arsenal jersey can’t beat Ipswich in a home and home contest, they do not deserve to win silverware.
Yes, the Gunners would have to still go through West Ham or Birmingham City in the final. It’s time for these “young” Gunners to grow up and prove their worth. Fans have waited 5 long years since the last time they smelled a trophy. Not many people put worth in the Carling Cup. Wenger is even dismissing some of the allure of the cup win, at least publicly, claiming the team will focus on the league fixtures and a contest such as the Carling Cup will take a backseat in the fight for a league title. However, I think Wenger should be and is on the same page as midfielder Denilson. “If you win the Carling Cup, then after will come the FA Cup, then after the Premier League and the Champions League”, Denilson claimed. While I don’t think an EPL title or Champions League title is in the books this season, an FA Cup is a realistic goal. Using the Carling Cup as a springboard confidence booster may be just the thing this squad needs.
For as young as the team is, the Gunners have loads of experience. Wenger needs to stop using youth as an argument for failure. Even other managers are taking note of this. Jose Mourinho is absolutely right:
“He should especially explain to Arsenal supporters how he can’t win one single little trophy since 2005.
Instead of speaking about Real Madrid, Mr Wenger should speak about Arsenal and explain how he lost 2-0 against a team in the Champions League for the first time.
The history about the young kids is getting old now.
[Bacary] Sagna, [Gael] Clichy, [Theo] Walcott, [Cesc] Fabregas, [Alex] Song, [Samir] Nasri, [Robin] Van Persie, [Andrey] Arshavin are not kids. They are all top players.”
Mourinho is correct. The time is now, Mr. Wenger. Focus for three games and bring home a trophy for yourself, the squad, and Gunner nation. Time to validate yourself.
Just when I think FIFA can’t sink any lower in my estimation, they have found a way to shock me yet again by awarding World Cup bids to Russia and Qatar. Now I’ve got nothing against the Russian people, they seem a sad lot at first, cast in the mold of a cold wintry environment marked by economic stagnation, a failed empire, and decades of despotism. But just get to know them, and they become great company. Unfortunately, their national football culture is sorely lacking in involvement, and what stadiums they do have are falling down.
Russia, as a country is massive, but do its location near the top of the world most of the landmass is a unpopulated wasteland that more resembles the ice planet Hoth from Star Wars. Most of its stadiums were built during the “good old days” of the Soviet Union and haven’t really been upgraded since then. This also goes for the road network, rail network (what little there is), and the airports which outside of Moscow resemble something form a Mad Max film. The potholed runways are match only by the rickety planes that fly between them, which are also converted from the Soviet era. Overall, not a great prescription for fans travelling two and from events and I’d predict at least one plane crash.
Another concern in Russia is the fact that the government is completely corrupt and tied to the mafia. The recent leaks from Wikileaks on Vladimir Putin being complicit in organized crime along with his top deputies suggest that event will be marked by nepotism, along with any construction initiatives. FIFA may hope that by awarding the World Cup to Russia they will open a new market with new stadiums for themselves, but in reality all they will end up doing is further enriching the criminal syndicates that are the real power there, especially in the construction industry. And then there are the terrorism fears. It doesn’t get much press these days, but Russia is also fighting a war in the Caucasus and the militants there have attacked Moscow before.
As for Qatar, where to begin? The fact that FIFA, an organization dedicated to women’s soccer as well as men’s, has decided to host the World Cup in a country that is completely opposed to any form of equality for women is reprehensible. Furthermore the system of “sponsorship” for foreign workers in Qatar is akin to modern slavery. Essentially, these people move to Qatar for the promises of high paying jobs, but once they arrive find they have no rights what-so-ever and are forced to except low or no pay in exchange for housing, and if they refuse they are beaten. It should be interesting to see how FIFA get around the fact many of the stadium workers and the people how built the buildings themselves were neither payed and often beaten if they tried to quit.
Also, the sale of alcohol in Qatar is only allowed in side high priced hotels, and it remains illegal to be posses or be drunk in public. I can only imagine the problems this will cause during the competition. The heat also has to be a concern for the players coming to any competition held there. It may be possible to mitigate the effects of 120F weather with sideline hydration over the course of the game, it may not. The fact is no one has ever tried to play a world cup match in the middle of the desert, probably for good reason, and the health of the players and the fans in the stand may require all the games to be played in the cooler evenings or very late at night.
And then there’s the terrorism issue. It seems England’s bid likely went out in the first round due to David Cameron’s idiotic assertion that there was a better than 50% chance that any event would be attacked. Granted, there is probably a 100% chance someone will try to attack the world cup, that doesn’t mean they will succeed or even come close. But in Qatar, it seems so much easier too. The proximity to Iraq and Saudi Arabia makes it so close to trouble, you can literally see it across the border. Overall, I think both awards a are a disaster, both for FIFA and the international soccer community, and I hope they see the light before its too late to change things to another location.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
After bagging their first league victory in a month (an amazingly “ugly” 5-2 win over struggling Parma), the men in the Inter Milan jersey and manager Rafael Benitez are under more pressure than ever to earn a result against Lazio this week. Just six months removed from an amazing treble under “The Special One”, the team is in absolute shambles, sitting in 5th place already 7 points off of league leader’s AC Milan’s pace. Last campaign, Mourinho’s men were sitting pretty in 1st place.
The defense has been atrocious thus far, with Maicon virtually losing all motivation and respect for playing the game after being torn apart in the Champions League by Gareth Bale and company. Lucio has been equally as awful. The replacements for these men have been no better, as Marco Materazzi at center back and Ivan Cordoba manning the right side have yielded nothing of substance. The team is also starting to show its age up top, with Diego Milito looking far removed from a 22-goal campaign of a years past. On the other side of the coin, Lazio seem to be flourishing. The team currently sits in second in Serie A, only 3 points behind AC Milan. What a difference a year makes (a vast improvement over last season’s 12th place finish in the league). Lazio is really grinding out the results, strangely the trademark of the Mourinho-led Inter squad last season. The Biancazzurri have only notched 17 goals in 14 matches and conceding a respectable 11.
Despite Inter finally getting a win in league play, the side is still looking hapless. 3 of the 5 goals scored were off of deflections and the defense should have been punished by former Inter-man Hernan Crespo much more than they were, as he missed a couple of sitters. The match easily could have gone the other way, despite the score-line not looking that way. The defensive woes are too easily exploitable. I don’t see how this squad doesn’t get taken advantage of on at least a few occasions on in this fixture, as Lazio will be motivated and in front of their own fans. By Inter’s standards, Benitez should have been fired after the embarrassment at White Hart Lane. Now, he’s on a game-by-game evaluation and a Lazio victory will seal his fate. Benitez has changed the winning Inter tactics drastically since his arrival for no apparent reason. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Expect it to happen.
Lazio win 3-1 over Inter Milan. Rafa gets the nix.
I’ve previously reviewed the Adidas Bayern Munich home jersey with great delight (that’s right, delight), and the same goes for the Adidas AC Milan home jersey. In my humble opinion, Adidas nailed it this season with their jersey design. But first, let’s pause for a quick aside about AC Milan’s team—Oguchi Onyewu is on the roster. That’s a pretty prestigious squad to find an American on. I mean, sure he hasn’t necessarily played, which is more of a detriment to his international play, but eh, at least he can say he was on the squad, right?
Alright, now that I got that Onyewu business out of my system, let’s talk about AC Milan Jersey. In my Bayern review, the only drawback to the jersey was the gaudy sponsor logo—this is not the case with the Milan jersey. “Fly Emirates” is printed across the chest, but it doesn’t have a giant white rectangular background to it, so the text isn’t obnoxious in the least. It fits well in the jersey (“Fly” even fits neatly into one vertical stripe, oh my). As with every other professional jersey out there, the team crest is up on the left chest and the Adidas logo is on the right chest. Staying true to the AC Milan colors, the vertical stripes composing the shirt are alternating red and black. The sleeve pattern keeps in line with the other Adidas jerseys this season with the shoulder designed with the three Adidas stripes (red with a black background) which eventually give way to the stripe pattern prevalent on the rest of the jersey. Another sweet feature about this jersey is the side abdomen. This is basically what makes the stripe pattern work for the rest of the jersey. Two stitched gold borders stretch from both sides of the armpit and down to the hip, and they provide the border for a solid black area of the abdomen. It adds a touch of class and a touch of a fortitudinous image for any player rockin’ this jersey on the pitch. I’m glad the makers of the jersey chose to keep the gold elements limited, so the jersey doesn’t reach into the garish echelon. From my memory, which may or may not be faulty, AC Milan has always had this kind of jersey pattern with the vertical stripes, but it was missing something to make it stand out. I think Adidas changed that this year. The golden curves on either side of the abdomen really stick out as a finishing touch on the jersey. As opposed to the Bayern Munich jersey, the back of the AC Milan jersey is blank and continues the stripe pattern. I think that works because the colors are red and black; any other colors, and I think it gets a little obnoxious. Overall, this is definitely a solid jersey in design and execution. It’s also made of 100% polyester with Adidas CLIMACOOL technology, which is pretty much standard for Adidas jerseys. The $69.99 price tag is also pretty standard for an Adidas jersey, so I’ll say what I usually say in this situation: It’s worth it, especially if you’re a fan of AC Milan or know a fan and need a holiday gift idea!
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com