Over the weekend Chelsea fell to a shocking defeat at the hands of minnows, Birmingham. Now I’m not one to dissect every kick of the match, nor do I believe in the false god of play statistics as they both seek to reduce the world to terms no one can understand. In my view, Chelsea lost for three reasons:
First of all, Birmingham gave an inspired performance particularly at the back as Ben Foster parried shot after shot from the likes of Drogba, Malouda, and Alex. There formation was near perfect as they held on for the majority of the match despite being outplayed across most of the pitch. Overall, it was a fantastic rearguard, edge of your seat action by the bluenoses.
Second, Chelsea defensive play allows for hole that you could drive a bus through. This simple mistake made by the Chelsea defense during there 3-0 hammering by Sunderland two weeks ago once again bared their ugly head as Lee Bowyer ran on to a header put over the head of the Chelsea defense and stuck in the back of the net. After all, Bowyer, 33, only played as Craig Gardner had injured his ankle, normally has no business scoring against Chelsea. they need to tighten up there lines in the back, Alex can steady the ship, but someone else will have to take the wheel if they are to be competitive with top flight teams.
Third, Roman Abromovic is meddling with the managerial staff and allowing the players to dictate to the manager. As for the fallout from Ray Wlikins’ sacking continues to dog the misguided tenure of Carlo Ancelotti its has become clear that two groups of people control the destiny of, the players, and peopled named Abromovic. The fact that an assistant manager seems to have been sacked as some of the first team player weren’t confident in his abilities to hold his job is both shocking and bizarre at the same time. What’s even more bizarre is that Ancelotti didn’t stand in the way, and tacitly gave control to the players to sack their manager.
Now Ancelotti may have wanted to see the back of Wilkins as much as the players, we’ll probably never know, but I can’t understand why he would allow himself to be undermined in this way, then gripe about ti the morning papers. Of course he’s lost control, and its his own fault for not standing by his own staff. As for Abromovic, it seems likely that the first team players who were dissenting took their concerns to him directly, and the order came down from the top to put Wilkins out on the curb like so much rubbish, but this is also a bizarre turn of events. While few managers have the imperial control over the fate of the club Alex Ferguson does at Manchester United, I think this is the first time that a managers staff has been sacked instead of him by the owner.
It may be my own personal conceptions getting the better of me, but it seems Abromovic is the only one who acted entirely according to character in this comedy of errors. Following the great tradition of all Russians in positions of power, Abromovic has decided to engage in purge of his own ranks on the dubious advice of trusted underlings, in this case the first team players. The result has been predictably disastrous as it now looks like he will lose the manager in a case of putting the baby out with the bathwater. But, if he can stop channeling his inner Stalin; leave the team and staff alone to recover from their recent results, then perhaps there is still a chance they can win it all this season. Any more purges, and I think the Chelsea jersey will be the only piece of the organization that still functions properly.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
Wayne Rooney is due to make his return to Manchester United’s first team next week when they play Glasgow Rangers in the Champions League. I know there is speculation he will play for a few minutes against Wigan with the hope of him getting a few soft goals to rebuild his confidence. For my part, I don’t think he’ll play Saturday, but the fact his mental fitness is such a subject of discussion brings up the point I have made before, Rooney may have gone off the same cliff as Paul Gascoigne.
Now its a fact Rooney hasn’t been physically fit for some time, and the trip to Nike HQ up in Oregon to rebuild his battered body was needed. The question is, why did he have to go all the way to Oregon to do it? It seem to me, that the answer is easily apparent, he couldn’t stand the glares of the media and his wife anymore; he needed to get away. But one has to ask, how much psychological treatment did he receive while he was there? Hopefully, all that he needed, but no will know if whatever regiment of therapy he was on has been successful until he plays in a Champions League match against a team whose fans are known for their creative chants and songs, honed against the men in Celtic jerseys for generations. For my part, I think he has mostly recovered, and here’s my reason why. This video was recently released of Rooney working on the set of the “Boom” campaign Nike are using to flog their Pro Combat line.
Look at him, he looks crushed, broken, and tired at first. But count how many times he smiles, not awkwardly, but genuinely, when he talks about scoring goals and I think you’ll understand why I think he has the hunger to score back in his belly. Look for a gola or two in his near future.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
By now, you may have heard the 17 year old kid named Juan Agudelo who became the youngest scorer in USMNT history. Below is his impressive goal that certainly had an element of luck behind the strike.
Impressed? You should be. But let’s not look into this too much. South Africa is not exactly the most quality opponent. He looked to bring an energy amongst essentially a US “JV” squad as soon as he stepped on the pitch in the second half as a substitute and he certainly accomplished that. The US is notorious for over-hyping young talent across all sports and soccer is no different. Tell me where you can find Freddy Adu (without looking it up on Wikipedia) and I’ll give you a high five. Show me a time when Jozy Altidore plays in a relevant game AND scores a goal as a starter. Luckily for us, the hype will die down a bit for Agudelo. There is a long break until the next USMNT friendly and the MLS season (for him) is over. There was hardly a season for Agudelo anyway, getting only 2 appearances for the New York Red Bulls and playing only 14 minutes in total. Yes, he’s 17. Yes, he’s a forward, something which the USMNT is desperately seeking from any and all directions. I fully expect the kid to get more chances with his squads, both international and club. Let me know in a year how he’s doing and we’ll talk. For now, everybody calm down. Because we may have already seen Agudelo’s happiest day in his career (crossing my fingers this is not true).
Written By Chris Behrens, writer for SoccerProse.com
The January transfer period is fast approaching and many teams are looking to offload and cash in on some dead weight in their squads or purchase like mad (see Manchester City for all these inquiries). At any rate, some extremely intriguing players will be on the market for teams to bid on, such as :
Emmanuel Adebayor: The Togolese international has been limited to mostly Europa League appearances for Manchester City and Roberto Mancini has said himself if Adebayor sees fit, he can leave the club in the January transfer period. The 26-year-old striker has not played particularly bad, notching 15 goals in 32 appearances for the Citizens. However, the influx of money and strikers coupled with Mancini’s preference of playing Tevez as a long striker and implementing two speedy wingers will see Adebayor fit into a target striker system well. Juventus are looking likely to offer a value bid for the out-of-favor striker, but many other teams would be wise to look into the still talented striker’s services.
Gareth Bale: The most exciting player in all of Europe in the past several weeks, the Tottenham winger has been coveted by the top clubs in Europe. Youth, absurd pace, and virtually limitless stamina, Bale has all the tools to terrorize outside backs for years and years. Many are already calling him the new Ryan Giggs and honestly, it is hard to argue. His transfer value will be at an all time high come January and in reality, Tottenham should cash in now while they can. Just make sure not to sell him to an English team and they’ll be fine without him.
Javier Pastore: The little Argentinean playmaker has put together a good string of performances lately and is once again linked to Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Barcelona. Palermo has slapped an absurd €70 million price tag on the 21-year-old, which amazingly hasn’t deterred clubs from showing interest in the player. I wouldn’t ever pay that much for Pastore, but he definitely will be making one team much better off with his creative play. Palermo can and will cash in on the starlet at some point soon.
Pepe Reina: The talented Spanish international keeper’s days at Anfield look to be more numbered by the week, as Liverpool begin to show promise and then throw all the hope away (see 2-0 win over Chelsea, then 2-0 loss to Stoke City). Reina deserves to be at a top club (Liverpool no longer is a top club) and the Reds need to secure their financial future soon. Cashing in on Reina is a quick way to balance the books and build for the future, especially if Torres and Gerrard head out this summer like many rumors claim they will.
Karim Benzema: Jose Mourinho has tried hard to encourage the French international into inspiring form, but his performances have just not been great since transferring from Lyon. Real Madrid may look to offload the 22-year-old hitman as a loan deal, since they paid a ludicrous sum for the striker (€35 Million upwards with incentives). English clubs with a lack of striker depth (see Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea, or Arsenal) will be looking to take advantage of Benzema’s poor form since joining Los Blancos. Mourinho seems to be content with letting him come off the bench in substitute appearances late in the game. He could and should be a starter somewhere once he regains some confidence
Neymar: The young Brazilian starlet has been constantly linked with Chelsea and will inevitably be linked to the Blues again come January. It’s only a matter of time before the ridiculously talented striker goes overseas and clubs (Juventus, Arsenal, Manchester United) are trying to do everything they can to convince him not to go to Chelsea. However, his quote begs to differ that he is considering other clubs: “Everything they have to offer is attractive to me. They have big players, they are in big competitions, they have a strong squad and I like the way they play. Top players want to be a part of something like that. It wasn’t the right time for me in the summer but I will be much better prepared by next year”. Chelsea will be most likely very fortunate to get a young talented player.
Luis Suarez: The Uruguayan international and Ajax captain has had an amazing tenure with the Dutch giants thus far (81 goals in 108 appearances) and will be one of the hottest targets for the big European clubs. Ajax will only be able to hold onto Suarez for so long considering the likely bids of about €35 to come their way. Power, pace, and deadly finishing, Suarez has it all. He can be a legend if/when he becomes a part of one of the classic European powers, whether that be in England, Italy, or Spain. Any team would be fortunate to grab a hold of the prolific attacker’s services.
Jan Vertonghen: Many of you may be thinking, “Who is this guy and why is he on this list?”. I’ll tell you why. The 23-year-old Belgian center back leads the Ajax defense following the departure of Thomas Vermaelen from the back line and he hasn’t stumbled often. Arsenal are interested in Vertonghen for several reasons: he’s versatile (can play as a defensive midfielder and often plays up in attack from center back), he’s young and talented, and he is great friends with currently injured Arsenal center back Vermaelen. Plus, he plays a similar style to Vermaelen, who has thrived in the EPL when healthy. English clubs would be wise to take a look at him.
Romelu Lukaku: Touted as “The Next Didier Drogba”, Lukaku is surprisingly a relative unknown, but at 17 (and playing with Belgian side Anderlecht), this is understandable. Notching 48 appearances with 22 goals to his name at this ridiculously young age is incredibly impressive and top European sides will soon take notice. “The day I sign with Chelsea, that will be the only time my parents will see me cry.”, Lakaku exclaimed, suggesting that his dream move would be to London. Chelsea will be giddy to hear this, as they desperately need to decrease the age of their squad. With Drogba getting old, securing the next Didier Drogba would only make sense for the Blues.
Ronaldinho: Why would AC Milan sell the magical Brazilian? SoccerProse has reason to believe that his transfer to the LA Galaxy is imminent and really, it makes sense. Milan have stopped sellers from receiving more Ronaldinho namesets, which typically only happens when a transfer is about to occur. The 30-year-old magician is getting up there in age and the MLS retirement home mantra certainly fits him perfectly with his previously criticized lazy work ethic and party-first attitude. You may be laughing now, but Ronaldinho is gaining back a bit of the magic he had in his Barca days, so he may become a hot ticket item. Just wait.
Written by Chris Behrens, writer for SoccerProse.com
So England are playing France at Wembley today in a friendly and I’m predicting the French will win the day. The team that England are going to field against France are once again defined by the whims of Fabio Capello, not any real data or performance by the players in the team. Andy Carrol from Newcastle, Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson, and Arsenal’s 21-year-old left-back Kieran Gibbs all make their first, and in all likelyhood their last, England start as the veritable smorgassboard of selection continues.
Capello, for better, or in my opinion mostly for worse, has decided to experiment with relatively young players mixed in with the older guard instead of forming a coherent team at the top level with the players who failed at the World Cup. Apparently, its simply to hard to get the likes of Rooney, Scholes, Ferdinand, and Gerrard to work together in a cohesive unit, so instead of examining his methods for flaws, he is looking for players to fit his method. Furthermore, he is choosing to abrogate the England youth teams by picking players seemingly at random who have never represented England at any level internationally, than those who have worked their way up through the under age system. This sort of thing will most likely hobble the England youth sides for years to come, and place further importance on the development of players by clubs, and their demands over the national teams.
Capeelo is not an introspective man, and his own flaws are sure to bring more shame on England tonight as they are beaten by the reinvigorated French side featuring mostly youngsters, but youngsters who play as a team. I just can’t see England winning this one.
England 0-2 France
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
I’ve never really noticed Manchester City much until they spent a purported 6.3 bajillion dollars this past season on the likes of players such as Carlos Tevez. No big deal. It stands to reason, then, that the squad would require jerseys fitting for Champion hopefuls. Umbro delivered.
With this year’s Manchester City jersey, I really think Umbro nailed it. It’s classic and reserved in design, yet it still has that edge that looks like the jersey of a contender. The powder blue color of the home jersey is great, and I think that the polyester/spandex fabric is perfect for the color. It isn’t shiny or dull—in fact, it looks pretty natural. Oh, it’s super comfortable, too. It feels like the kind of shirt you’d wear to lounge around on a Sunday, so I can imagine how comfortable it is to play in. The collar/shoulder/sleeve design of this home jersey is also well done. The collar has a little style so that it looks like it dips inside the shirt when it comes around the front of the neck. It has a look that the shoulder, torso and collar fabric are all pieced together in a smooth puzzle. As for the shoulders and sleeve, I like the fact that Umbro kept it super simple with a little homage to jersey style from 20 or so years ago. The ends of the sleeves sport a stitched, thick white cuff to mix it up a little. The sleeves are also set apart from the torso as a kind of overlay, stitched on top of the torso. As for the torso, all I can say is what I’ve been saying. It’s sleek, classic and simple.
The Man City crest is stitched into the left chest and the Umbro logo is stitched into the right. I’m lovin’ the Etihad Airways logo on the front as well. It doesn’t stick out like a sore them and present itself as the reason for the soccer jersey; instead, the logo works with the jersey to send a message that is power, especially with that font. Yowza. Aside from the logos and crests, I like the simplicity in the vertical lines in the fabric. They’re unimposing, but still noticeable. The side of the abdomen carries on the same idea as the sleeves, sans white cuff.
Overall, there isn’t a thing I dislike about the jersey. Sure, there are things that I could have disliked had they been executed wrong, but Umbro did a superb job. Kudos to the company! A jersey will run you the standard $79.99, but, for a jersey of this quality and style, I think it’s worth every penny. I have to wonder how many United fans saw this City jersey and thought, “Man, that’s slick. Too bad I can’t pick one up!”
Written by: Kris Dyer, columnist, soccerprose.com
I can remember back in the day when I was a little soccer dude, and I distinctly recall thinking my Adidas indoor shoes were just the coolest, which of course made me cool by association. Though I rocked the Sambas, I think the Adidas Predito Youth Turf shoes will provide the same level of amazement and coolness for a young dude or dudette. Shoe design has certainly come a long way since I fit into youth sizes. These bad boys share a lot of the same design qualities as their cousin, the firm ground Predito cleats. They’re made from synthetic leather, like pretty much every youth shoe, but they also come with the TRAXION outsole to give the little tikes some added grip and comfort on turf and hard ground surfaces.
Striking surface probably isn’t that important to little kids, but they still built the shoe with a pretty solid striking area just like the Adidas Predator. Kinetic energy is designed to travel along the base of your foot to the ball through the Powerspine so it might offer a physics lesson too. Aside from the technical stuff, this shoe is pretty sweet lookin’. The regular 3-stripe design has been stylized, both on the inside and outside of the foot. The inside changes it up and turns each stripe into a set of 4 thinner navy stripes, and the outside keeps the stripes a solid navy with thinner royal blue lines running through each stripe. Pretty cool.
The heel of the shoe has the same look as the outdoor cleats with a silver band horizontally along the heel and some cool little stitching patterns. Overall, I think this would be the shoe that could be used as both a playing shoe and a recreational shoe. Any kid walking into their 2nd or 3rd (or whatever grade they’re in) will definitely be stylin’ and profilin’ when they get to school in these puppies. They’re comfortable, so your kid will want to wear them. They’re durable, so one pair will last quite some time even if used for more than one purpose. They’re only $31.49 per pair, so they’re super affordable and make a great gift idea!
Written by: Kristopher Dyer, shoe dude for soccerprose.com
The other week, when I loaded up the SoccePro website, I noticed a certain banner with a certain photo of Arjen Robben wearing this year’s Bayern Munich home jersey. I immediately thought, “That’s a fine lookin’ jersey on a goofy lookin’ dude.” I mean, if it even looks good on the Dutch winger, then you know there’s something special about the jersey.
First, let me tell you what I don’t like about the jersey because there isn’t much. In fact, it’s not even that I don’t like it, but rather that it seems out of place. I’m talking about the T-Mobile logo sitting in the middle of the shirt. It’s not that I hate sponsors and their logos; I just think a smaller white banner would’ve sufficed. Alright, with that said, everything else about the jersey is pure win. The vertical stripe pattern with alternating red and white stripes (plus, every other stripe is mesh) just does it for me. Usually I find this kind of stripe pattern a little obnoxious, but man, Adidas really came through for Munich this season. The sleeves have the 3-stripe pattern in white on a solid red background that covers the shoulders while the main vertical stripe pattern of the jersey finishes off the rest of the sleeve. Munich’s crest is of course stitched into the left chest with a gold border, which adds a, dare I say, exquisite touch.
That’s right folks. I busted out a three dollar word. Anyway, another reason the stripes work for me is because they’re broken up by the side abdomen design of the jersey. It has a thin black outline on both front & back that starts from beneath the arm and curves around to the hip, and it basically fences in a completely red section. Combine this with the shoulder design, and you, my friend, have a sensational jersey. The back of the shirt has “Bayern München” stretched across the shoulder blades in big white letters, and, sitting just below the collar, are the letters F.C.B. It’s hard to say what kind of style those letters are stitched with—Matt and I came to the decision that it’s either Old English style, or Old German, if there is such a thing. Either way, it’s definitely intricate and definitely awesome. As you can tell, I love everything about this item. This jersey will run you about $69.99 a piece, which is pretty standard for this kind of quality Adidas clothing. It has all the standard construction and fabric of an Adidas replica jersey, which includes CLIMACOOL and all that jazz. You know the drill; it’s a quality made and designed shirt, and a surefire way to get in the good graces of a Bayern München fan.
Written by: Kristopher Dyer, columnist at soccerpro.com
Well the billionaire babies of Serie A have decided to go on strike after the 30th November unless their demands for a new collective contract are met. Now I don’t intend to get into the details of the contract they are requesting or the one they are being offered, but it seems absurd that men who make $20,000 plus a week would ever go on strike for the right to refuse to be transfered.
Now call me cold, but I just don’t see where the sympathy for the potential strikers or the league is going come from. I understand supporters love their clubs, and want to watch them play, but more than that they want the clubs to succeed and endure. A strike by these players would remove the funding for the clubs from the lucrative Champions League, television, and other dependent revenue sources. One of the main casualties will be Juventus jersey sales as the club are languishing in sixth, and don’t have the same level of backing as you’d find behind clubs like AC Milan. In the end, this loss of revenue won’t hurt the players as they will still be able to command the same price following a resumption of work. The question is, how will the financially weakened clubs manage to pay them their wages. The obvious answer is through taking on more debt, and perhaps a long slide down a slippery slope to the junkyard populated by the Sheffield Wednesday’s of the world.
For the sake of the league, I hope this insanity is over soon.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com