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Sunday, January 05, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread January, 2014

With no Champions League or international matches of note, it’s all about the clubs an cup competitions this month:

January 6th: Lazio vs Inter
January 7th: Sunderland vs Man U in the League Cup, Valencia vs Atleti in Copa del Rey
January 8th: West Ham vs Man City in the League Cup
January 10th: Leicester City vs Derby in an important promotion game, Montpelier vs Monaco in Ligue Uhn.
January 11th: Cardiff vs West Ham in a relegation 6 pointer, will Man U lose to Swansea at home again?, but the day’s HUGE game is Barcelona hosting Atletico Madrid. This could decide La Liga.
January 12th: Newcastle vs Man City
January 13th: Aston Villa vs Arsenal
January 14th: FA Cup replays featuring Fulham vs Norwich, second leg of Valencia and Atleti in the Copa del Rey
January 15th: Man City host Blackburn in an FA Cup replay, Lyon vs Marseilles in the French Cup
January 17th: St. Etienne vs Lille
January 18th: Lots of games, no real standouts
January 19th: Swansea vs Spurs, Chelsea vs Man U
January 20th: West Brom vs Everton
January 21st: West Ham vs Man City in the League Cup
January 22nd: Man U vs Sunderland in the League Cup
January 24th: Monchengladbach vs Bayern Munich, not that it really matters
January 25th: FA Cup 4th round featuring Chelsea vs Stoke, Lazio vs Juventus, Monaco vs Marseilles
January 26th: Barca vs Malaga
January 28th: Liverpool vs Everton, Southampton vs Arsenal
January 29th: Tottenahm Hotspur FC vs Man City, Stuttgart vs Bayern
January 31st: Feyenoord vs Chelsea B in Holland, Braunschweig vs Borussia Dortmund

I’d say that Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid is the game of the month and declare it the BBTF Off Topic Game of the Month! Be there!

Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 05, 2014 at 05:16 PM | 1016 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   1. Dale Sams Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:18 AM (#4631098)
Ahem. Relegation battle.

Saturday, Jan 25 , 2014 10:00 AM ET St. Mirren VS Partick Thistle St. Mirren Park
   2. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4631195)
West Ham have signed Roger Johnson from Wolves. I think that's the definition of PANIC!!!!


Saturday, Jan 25 , 2014 10:00 AM ET St. Mirren VS Partick Thistle St. Mirren Park

Watch it, you!
   3. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4631235)
Damn West Ham is bad... only a point ahead of Sunderland bad. It would be pretty funny if three London teams went down this year.

Going back to last month's thread, defense has been a problem for United since Vidic got injured/old. If Coentrao is indeed being shopped for 12M pounds, United have to get him. Baines is older and carries the English player premium plus Everton are going to extract all that extra money out of Moyes and Woodward - so that will probably happen.

I think its time to put Ferdinand out to pasture. That first goal yesterday wasn't his fault, but I'm trying to remember the last time he was that aggressive in chasing a forward. He's almost always the covering guy. Now that Fletcher seems to be healthy, once he's determined to be fully back, United should just play Jones, Smalling and Evans at CB, with a sprinkling of Vidic. If they aren't good enough its time to find another CB.
   4. jmurph Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4631241)
I understand that, long-term, left back is a concern, but I don't think Evra is even in the top 5 on United's list of problems for this year. When is Rafael coming back? Because a back-up RB might be pretty close to the top of my list for them. Smalling is awful. Then you've got the midfield issue, I don't know, going all in on Baines seems like crazy town to me.
   5. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:31 AM (#4631250)
If Man U are going to spend stupid money for a LB, it should be Luke Shaw. I think he's going to be a great one.
   6. Mefisto Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:42 AM (#4631256)
Yeah, Shaw seems like the obvious candidate for United, though I agree that left back is far from their biggest problem.

As for the rest, missing Van Persie and Rooney obviously takes a whole lot of goals out of the United attack. Welbeck has been in good form lately, but for his career he's not much of a scorer. Kagawa continues to be poor, which I don't understand. Fletcher still looks rusty, and he and Cleverly are IMO too similar to make a good midfield pairing. Smalling is poor at right back; he's probably better at CB, but the winning goal yesterday was arguably his fault. Moyes seems more tactically limited than I would have expected -- Utd. get no pressure up the middle and depend far too much on wing play and crosses.

For all that, Utd probably would have eked out a draw if Fabio hadn't been trying too hard to prove himself.
   7. jmurph Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4631262)
I absolutely agree that CM is a huge issue for them, but it's worth pointing out that SAF won the league last year with a similarly terrible midfield. Granted, as I believe MCoA pointed out, SAF was probably a wizard.
   8. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4631269)
I absolutely agree that CM is a huge issue for them, but it's worth pointing out that SAF won the league last year with a similarly terrible midfield. Granted, as I believe MCoA pointed out, SAF was probably a wizard.

Fabio and Van Persie, who were pretty great for them last year, have been injured a lot so far. Vidic and Ferdinand are a little older, Carrick is a little older...etc. They knew they needed to refresh the squad but they kept coming up with unrealistic target after unrealistic target. You don't raid Barcelona, Bilbao and take on Real Madrid when it comes to transfer targets. But, you know, we're beating a dead horse now. I still think Moyes will right the ship, just not to the degree they need to salvage the season.
   9. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4631272)
Did both SAF and Moyes not realize the next manager after SAF would have an impossible job? I mean, Moyes is basically SAF's protege, despite not ever actually working for him (?). SAF himself was the protege of Moyes's father. If he really loves Moyes and believes in him, he should have let the team bring in someone else for the inevitably doomed Bill Guthridge era, and then Moyes could take over a year later.
   10. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4631275)
Fabio should be a good backup for Rafael, but Moyes has barely used him and as Mefisto said he was overenthusiastic once given a chance. Evra is out of contract at the end of season and has said he has personal reasons to not signing a new deal. Is Luke Shaw "worth" 20M or 30M? United isn't going to outbid Mourinho who may or may not be interested, but seems to want someone else besides Cole. If crazy money is to be spent it needs to be on a CM. Woodward should offer 50M for Vidal and see if Juve says no. If that doesn't work, move on to Gundogan. Use that money advantage and buy some world class players, instead playing around the margins of very good players.

   11. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4631279)
Is Luke Shaw "worth" 20M or 30M?

I think he is. I think he'll be better than Ashley Cole and would you hesitate to drop 25 million on a prime Ashley Cole? United can EASILY afford to drop 25 million on Shaw and still drop another 50 million on the CM spots. Hell, they offered 100 million for Bale in the summer. They have the cash.
   12. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4631284)
Ian Holloway is the new manager at...Millwall! Heh!
   13. jmurph Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4631288)
Interesting point, Crispix. But I would suggest that in the current international soccer world, I'm not sure you can afford the Guthridge era. I think we're used to thinking about United like they're a permanent, irremovable fixture in the world's elite, but look at what happened to Liverpool. I'm not suggesting Liverpool are irrelevant or anything, far from it, but they're just another big side now, arguably not even one of the biggest 3 or 4 in England. And that would have been pretty hard to believe not too long ago. I think United are pretty clearly on that path, too. It seems to me that elite players make a decision based on some combination of A. money B. manager C. "I cheered for this team as a boy." No offense to the guy, but literally no one came up as a youngster dreaming of playing for David Moyes. And considering how few elite players are being developed in England, "the team I cheered for as a boy" is far more likely to be located in Spain, Italy, or Germany at this point. Then you've got money. United can definitely still play near the highest financial level, but they're just one of 4 or 5 in England, and they're pretty far below Chelsea, City, the Spanish giants, the French teams, and Bayern.

   14. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4631291)
I've only watched a couple of Southampton games this year but he looks like he belongs on the field which obviously is a big deal for someone so young. I'd much rather United pay 25M for Shaw than Baines but I don't know if he's "worth" it but in this day and age a blogger's valuation can have as much relevancy as someone in the "know." I agree that United has the money to spend at least 100M, but don't know if Moyes can use that money effectively. Plus Woodward seems like an executive who wants to use that money efficiently, which in the irrational transfer market means losing out on good players.

   15. jmurph Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4631295)
Oh so I forgot to make an actual point. I think United thought Moyes could continue SAF's run without a blip, not that he was the guy for some kind of short-term "rebuilding era." Because I don't think you can have a rebuilding era. Here's a sort of worst-case, but not implausible scenario: they finish 5th or 6th, and RVP and Rooney bolt because they want Champions League football. You're now looking for upgrades in the backline, midfield, wing, and you're now out a couple of world class strikers. You do great in the market but you don't hit a homerun on every transfer, so you finish out of the Champions League spots again. You're now looking at an entirely different class of player that is going to come play for you, setting you back even further.
   16. Mefisto Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4631311)
Fabio and Van Persie, who were pretty great for them last year, have been injured a lot so far.


I assume you mean Raphael. Yeah, but it's not like he has a history of Giggsian durability (neither does Van Persie). It's up to the manager to plan for that problem. Still, CM has been a problem for years. They won under SAF despite that, but that's like saying Dorian Grey stayed young for a while. Eventually that problem had to be addressed and nobody has done it.
   17. Randy Jones Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4631319)
As soon as they knew SAF was retiring, United should have gone after Mourinho. He probably would have looked at following SAF as an opportunity to prove his own greatness and you know he is only there for 2 to 3 years before he either wears out his welcome or just wants to leave. Take those couple years to improve the squad, hope Mourinho does well in that time(he probably would), and then get the guy you look at as the long term replacement for SAF.
   18. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 06, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4631324)
I think Mourinho would have looked at United's roster and asked for 200M to "reshape" it, plus there was no way the Glazers were going to go against SAF's recommendation.
   19. Textbook Editor Posted: January 06, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4631345)
I still think there's a 20% chance SAF comes back next year (or the year after). If they kick Moyes to the curb what's the plan B other than SAF v2.0? I can't see one. Martinez? Wouldn't he be smart enough to know better and stay at Everton? Would the fans even accept yet another Everton guy taking over? Laudrup? Throw buckets of money at Pep to try to lure him away?

I think United's in pretty deep trouble. There are no guarantees of top-4 finishes or of great players dying to play there...
   20. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4631351)
If they kick Moyes to the curb what's the plan B other than SAF v2.0?

I think the manager in case of emergency is Quieroz.

I think it's very easy to overstate Man U's problems. They have twice the turnover as Liverpool and Liverpool are one of Europe's wealthiest clubs. If they need to reinvent themselves this summer, they'll have the cash to do it.
   21. jmurph Posted: January 06, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4631373)
I think it's very easy to overstate Man U's problems. They have twice the turnover as Liverpool and Liverpool are one of Europe's wealthiest clubs. If they need to reinvent themselves this summer, they'll have the cash to do it.


Sure, but they had that cash this past summer, too, and by all accounts behaved like bumbling idiots in the transfer market.
   22. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 06, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4631377)
One of the few actual moments of insight on Guardian Football Weekly was when some guy (Sean Ingle?) pointed out Moyes's various decisions to replace a bunch of other longtime MUFC coaches and scouts and trainers (e.g. Rene Meulensteen) with new people (e.g. Phil Neville). I want to read a longish article about that.
   23. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 06, 2014 at 02:21 PM (#4631405)
pointed out Moyes's various decisions to replace a bunch of other longtime MUFC coaches and scouts and trainers (e.g. Rene Meulensteen) with new people (e.g. Phil Neville).

I'll defend Moyes on that. Either he is the man in charge or not. He needs to bring in people he's comfortable with.
   24. JuanGone..except1game Posted: January 06, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4631407)
Is Luke Shaw "worth" 20M or 30M?

I'm with Shooty on Shaw. I think he's well worth the price as he continually shows the pace and skill-sets to be in the top LB discussion. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be suprised to see him make the Bale conversion to winger if a manager so desired. Unfortunately for ManU, Chelsea's at the front of the line on him and have been for about 2 years, as Shaw has repeatedly talked about his desire to play for them.

I think United's in pretty deep trouble. There are no guarantees of top-4 finishes or of great players dying to play there...

I still think that second part is the scariest. Unfortunately, Moyes is not the type of manager who is going to draw top candidates and I think playes are now smart enough to realize that this isn't the ManU that they might have wanted to jump through fire without SAF. Cesc and Pogba ain't walking through that door.
   25. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 02:30 PM (#4631415)
Oh no, my favorite Serie A player is retiring! Happy trails to Antonio Di Natale. Here's what we'll be missing.
   26. Jeffo has an El Camino full of Rampage Posted: January 06, 2014 at 02:33 PM (#4631420)
Saw on Twitter that Walcott is out for "at least" 6 months, meaning he would also miss the World Cup.
   27. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4631422)
Saw on Twitter that Walcott is out for "at least" 6 months, meaning he would also miss the World Cup.

Karma!

Naw, I kid. I hate when players get injured. Time for Arsenal to open up the checkbook again.
   28. Textbook Editor Posted: January 06, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4631432)
Saw on Twitter that Walcott is out for "at least" 6 months, meaning he would also miss the World Cup.

Karma!


First word that popped into my head too.
   29. Jeffo has an El Camino full of Rampage Posted: January 06, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4631440)
I was going to make the snarky comment, but figured I could trust you all to do it...

I guess for Arsenal, better now than after the window shuts.
   30. jmurph Posted: January 06, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4631444)
Wasn't his 2-0 gesture clearly a response to the fans heckling him? That's what roughly all of the reports have indicated.
   31. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4631448)
Wasn't his 2-0 gesture clearly a response to the fans heckling him? That's what roughly all of the reports have indicated.

Is he the first player to ever get heckled in an NLD? I just assume every player on the pitch is getting heckled.
   32. jmurph Posted: January 06, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4631462)
I'm just saying flashing up a 2-0 while smiling seems like a pretty tame response to fan heckling, probably not worth the coin shower he received.
   33. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4631464)
I'm just saying flashing up a 2-0 while smiling seems like a pretty tame response to fan heckling, probably not worth the coin shower he received.

Of course the coin throwing is embarrassing. There's a reason why the FA has rules against inciting fan behavior, though. The English are nuts!
   34. jmurph Posted: January 06, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4631469)
Now Adebayor sprinting the length of the field to slide on his knees in celebration in front of the Arsenal fans, that's inciting the fans. I was actually hoping he'd score on Saturday, that would have been fun.
   35. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 06, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4631473)
I'm not sure how its karma when he was hurt before he did the gesture. Oxlade-Chamberlain is coming back soon and Gnabry looks useful on the right. It doesn't seem to change that Arsenal could use another forward, a defensive midfielder and a CB for depth.
   36. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 06, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4631476)
I'm not sure how its karma when he was hurt before he did the gesture.

We're just joking.
   37. The Marksist Posted: January 06, 2014 at 03:58 PM (#4631518)
Holy crap, those Di Natale goals. So many perfect strikes.
   38. Textbook Editor Posted: January 06, 2014 at 04:03 PM (#4631529)
I suppose you could argue the injury might hurt England more than Arsenal... That's if you thought England had a snowball's chance in hell of doing anything in the WC.
   39. JuanGone..except1game Posted: January 06, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4631615)
I suppose you could argue the injury might hurt England more than Arsenal

Speaking of English WC chances, what the hell happened to Townsend? I don't remember him being hurt, but he just seems to have disappeared.
   40. AuntBea Posted: January 06, 2014 at 05:44 PM (#4631669)
Holy crap, those Di Natale goals. So many perfect strikes.


Agreed. Very impressive.

Let me take this opportunity to make a request that no doubt all the youtube soccer video highlight compilers are sure to take very seriously: please remove 90% of the goal celebrations from such videos. The entire highlight stream becomes unwatchable after the 20th Di Natale airplane celebration marring the beauty of his precision strikes. For example, on this video I could not make it past minute 3, despite the excellence of Di Natale's on-field vision and creativity, which unfortunately do not extend to his performance of post-goal celebrations. I like watching a player's on-field celebration in real time after a goal is scored as much as the next serious soccer fan (in other words, it's ok but not nearly as exciting or interesting as the goal itself), and I am not one to begrudge a player a moment of pure joy. In fact, it is with true sadness that I bemoan the day those players with the need to offer trite religious and political messages ruined the possibility that an ecstatic athlete would share with the world his shirtless torso upon finding the back of the net. That being said, I really don't have the fortitude to watch recurring recorded celebrations repeatedly, each virtually identical to the last.

And I know this next request will be an overreach in today's sporting climate, but nonetheless I wish there were some soccer sporting outlet, some channel or highlight feed possibly, that would refrain from following each and every highlight of a goal with the consequent celebration, with the exception for any celebration that due to the particular circumstances was notable in its own right.
   41. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 06, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4631682)
Oh man, I love the soccer celebrations. Soccer players celebrate their goals better than any other athletes celebrate anything (well, except Jeter celebrating a conquest, love those gift baskets).

On a separate issue ManU have problems but they have the resources to deal with them. Would anyone be shocked if they rebounded similar to the way the Red Sox did? I think that's more likely than them going down the tubes.
   42. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 06, 2014 at 06:16 PM (#4631725)
Long term, United is fine. Money will eventually overcome all ills. Even Chelsea and City can't keep spending the amounts of money they've been spending and United still has a decent advantage over them revenue-rise. FFP has to slow down the spending somewhat.

Short term is a mess. A player or two needs to be brought in this window. Bringing in four or five rotation/starters in one window is too problematic and they need time to gel. I think if Moyes doesn't have United in position for Champions League a year from March he gets the boot. As been mentioned above, you can't recruit players if you're out of Champions League.
   43. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 06, 2014 at 06:23 PM (#4631735)
Speaking of English WC chances, what the hell happened to Townsend? I don't remember him being hurt, but he just seems to have disappeared.
Townsend pulled his hamstring in Sherwood's first game in charge (League Cup vs. West Ham). He's back in training now, and might be ready for Palace on Saturday.

On United, there are reports from Spain that Coentrao has agreed terms with United, but Real may be unwilling to sell. It looks to me like the Guardian is being a little credulous with Ancelotti's statement that Madrid won't sell anyone in the window, but who knows. He's certainly be a good addition, though one who doesn't actually solve the squad's problems. Without a quality CM and a fit Van Persie, United aren't making it into the top four. (And they probably wouldn't with them, either.

I do think that United's resources mean they almost certainly won't stay in the wilderness long. Finances are just too important in modern football.
   44. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 06, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4631748)
If anyone's interested, I wrote a piece on statistics for managers, looking at Chelsea and Spurs before and after AVB. It's striking how clearly some managerial tendencies come through in the stats. I though it was interesting that AVB had his Chelsea club looking to get crosses in at very high rates, while with Spurs despite much more congenial personnel he didn't push crosses into the box much at all.
   45. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: January 06, 2014 at 09:41 PM (#4631894)
Great piece MCOA. The through-ball/cross/quality-of-shot stats you're playing with now seem like a real beginning in statistically coming to grasp with the effectiveness of different styles of play.

In other news, Ronaldo's latest hat-trick takes him to 400 career goals. Di Maria was booed by RM fans as he was subbed off and responded by grabbing his crotch, prompting Sid Lowe to opine that it was the only decent ball control he saw from Di Maria all day.

And Lewandowski's agent says that they turned down an "immoral" last minute offer from Real Madrid. I think that just means that it would have required breaking a verbal commitment to Bayern, but I hope he means that there were hookers and goats involved.
   46. JH (in DC) Posted: January 06, 2014 at 11:27 PM (#4631977)
West Ham have signed Roger Johnson from Wolves. I think that's the definition of PANIC!!!!


Johnson was clearly worried that since Wolves are good, he wouldn't have the chance to be relegated again this year.
   47. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: January 07, 2014 at 07:55 AM (#4632069)
Chelsea needs to clean house. Essien is cooked. Cole is cooked. Lampard is nearing cooked. Eto'o is cooked. Terry will decline like Ferdinand very soon. Cech's decline is coming. Demba Ba will never get the chance to unF!@# himself. I like Schurrle but he's a squad player. I really like the new industrious Torres but he will never be prolific.
   48. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4632168)
Any interest in an NYC meetup Saturday to watch the Barcelona vs Atleti match?
   49. Spivey Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:14 PM (#4632175)
How much house cleaning does Chelsea *really* need to do? When they get Lukaku back they'll have Torres and Lukaku up front. Willian, Oscar, Hazard for attacking midfielders, Ramires for a defensive mid, Luiz wherever they play him. Their bench is really old, and I agree it needs to become younger. But their best players are already young.
   50. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4632178)
How much house cleaning does Chelsea *really* need to do?

Chelsea FC always needs to spend spend spend spend. Roman's money is no object. Really, they can just recall some of the players they have stashed around Europe if they need some new blood.
   51. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4632188)
Clean house? Chelsea have the fifth best striker in the Premier League on loan at Everton. If they're worried about Cech, they have Courtois, the keeper for arguably the second-best club in Europe right now. Cole is looking done, but Mourinho has already replaced him with Azpilicueta in the league. They need another CM or two, certainly, although Van Ginkel was looking good before he went down.

Chelsea turned Vitesse Arnheim into a AAA club, and Vitesse are tied for first in the Eredivisie.

The thing that annoys me the most in English football is how far ahead of the curve Chelsea currently are in player development. They're basically everything the Yankees should have become in the 90s, using their huge financial advantage to buy up all the best young, post-academy talent they can find and develop them. Having a great academy is great, but Chelsea can just buy the kids that other academies have developed. Way cheaper, and it's not like they don't have a solid academy of their own right.
   52. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4632190)
They have Van Ginkel too in central midfield, who granted, would be returning off an injury. Ivanovic really is a center back so even though Mourinho doesn't trust Luiz that leaves Terry (who I think still has a couple years left at the highest level), Cahill and Ivanovic. Its obviously Cole is out of favor, but Bertrand is still around, and if he's not good enough they can buy someone. Lampard is already being phased out and Essien and Eto'o are gone at the end of the season. Courtois is around if Cech shows any decline with all those other players out on loan. They probably have the deepest squad in the Premier League.
   53. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4632192)
Jermain Defoe is supposed to be pretty close to a transfer to Toronto FC. I'm surprised he'd move that far from home. It's a weird one for Toronto but I guess they know what they're doing. They must think he can replicate what Robbie Keane has done in LA but I don't think Defoe is as well-rounded as Keane. I guess I'm happy Spurs have found a lucrative elephant's graveyard for their out of favor strikers, though. It's nice to flip through the channels and get a glimpse of Keane so I look forward to being able to do the same with Defoe.
   54. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4632199)
I'm surprised he'd move that far from home. It's a weird one for Toronto but I guess they know what they're doing.
I think money explains 90% of it. Defoe's going to be able to keep his EPL wage roughly the same with Toronto, which he wouldn't have pretty much anywhere in Europe. MLS is currently awash in cash and have a new tv deal coming up, and Toronto need to do *something* to get the fans in. Defoe doesn't need to be a Keane-level MLS superstar to be worth the money for TFC.

I am wondering about how Spurs plan to deal with roster depth if they keep playing Sherwood's two-striker system. Adebayor is really fragile and they're running him into the ground right now. I guess Sherwood won't be afraid to use Harrykane, and maybe Lamela would work in that withdrawn second striker role in Sherwood's system.
   55. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:38 PM (#4632208)
Defoe doesn't need to be a Keane-level MLS superstar to be worth the money for TFC.

I'm skeptical of this. Is Defoe the kind of "star" that will fill the seats? We love the little man, of course, but he's not a household name like Ronaldinho or someone. It's possible Spurs are a bigger presence in Toronto than they are in the States, though. I try to know as little about Canada as possible...
   56. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:42 PM (#4632216)
Does Keane really fill seats for the Galaxy? I know he's played well for them but is he that big of a draw?
   57. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4632221)
Does Keane really draw people in with his star power? I assumed he mostly drew fans because he was a big part of the reason that LA were so good. Defoe should be a star in MLS, and that will improve TFC, who suck. If TFC don't suck, there's a huge audience to be tapped in Toronto. I believe they were among the early leaders in attendance in MLS before fans gave up on them.
   58. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4632223)
I know he's played well for them but is he that big of a draw?

Probably not. I imagine the Galaxy's draw is more Donovan, the fading Beckham hype and being a good team. Keane does have that roguish Irish charm that I bet plays well in the media.
   59. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4632229)
Does Keane really draw people in with his star power?

I was comparing Keane to Defoe as a player, not so much as a draw which I think neither are. I'm not sure how Toronto lines up, but they'll need to pair Jermain with another striker if they want to get the best of him. I hope he makes a go of it if he actually makes the move. I bet he spends some time with Hodgson today on the phone and I suspect Hodgson will tell him to go or not go, he's not going to Brazil anyway.
   60. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4632232)
Ach, this Defoe to MLS digression is taking away from what's really important--beer and the La Liga game of the year Saturday. Anyone?
   61. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4632268)
This could be interesting.

Will FIFA be deflated by their own arrogance?
   62. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4632542)
Man U played pretty well but still losing at half time. 1-0. Either Bardsley or a Giggs own goal. Hard to tell.
   63. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4632552)
Transfer news!

Jay Bothroyd--remember him?--is signing for a club in Thailand of all places. In slightly bigger news, ter Stegen looks set to sign a pre-contract with Barcelona.
   64. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: January 07, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4632626)
MCoA, have you taken a look at how ManU's underlying stats look this year compared to last? I realize that's not really a CFC post, but (in line with your AVB post) quantifying the difference between Ferguson and Moyes would be interesting.
   65. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 07, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4632636)
Wow - I following the Guardian gamecast for a bit and then got distracted by work. God - 2-1 loss to Sunderland? I know there is a return leg but when is the last time Sunderland won at Old Trafford?
   66. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 07, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4632656)
MCoA, have you taken a look at how ManU's underlying stats look this year compared to last? I realize that's not really a CFC post, but (in line with your AVB post) quantifying the difference between Ferguson and Moyes would be interesting.
I'm gonna do Moyes next, in the same fashion as the AVB post, looking at Everton and United. (And I guess Wigan with Martinez.)

From an initial look at the numbers, the main difference is that United are just worse. They are playing more crosses than under Ferguson, but mostly it's just shot volume down, shot volume allowed up.
   67. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 07, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4632660)
Man U losing today is funny but it doesn't really mean much in the grand scheme of things. Sunderland have now beaten Chelsea, Man U and Man City this year. I wish Spurs could pull off something like that!
   68. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 07, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4632663)
Awesome - it would be nice to have actual data prove that Valencia, Smalling, Evra, Nani and Young are terrible crossers and giving them more opportunities to do so is a recipe for a lot of losing.
   69. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 07, 2014 at 06:30 PM (#4632682)
My subjective reading is that the problem is less that they're bad at crossing and more than United have two primary attacking plans. 1) Have those guys cross and 2) Have Wayne Rooney or RVP do something cool. With Rooney unfit and RVP out, they're doing nothing but (1). Tim Sherwood sussed that out in the New Years' Day game—he assigned Capoue to man-mark Rooney and funneled play to the flanks, while packing bodies into the box on defense. It wasn't the most ingenious plan, but it worked wonderfully until Capoue had to come off.

Sunderland under Poyet have been really good defensively at forcing opponents into long shots or crosses, so this was another bad matchup for United. Of course, Moyes should have more than enough talent in the squad to devise plan (3), but he doesn't seem to have so far.
   70. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: January 07, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4632711)
I'm gonna do Moyes next, in the same fashion as the AVB post, looking at Everton and United. (And I guess Wigan with Martinez.)
Neat, I look forward to it.
   71. Mefisto Posted: January 07, 2014 at 06:58 PM (#4632722)
I haven't seen that many United games this year, but the problem is not the quality of the crosses, the problem is that the players they have up front aren't really the type to do that much with them. What's Kagawa supposed to do with a cross?
   72. JuanGone..except1game Posted: January 07, 2014 at 07:03 PM (#4632732)
Chelsea turned Vitesse Arnheim into a AAA club, and Vitesse are tied for first in the Eredivisie.

I'm not sure many, outside of Chelsea supporters, have paid attention to this storyline. Piazon (AM) and Van Aanholdt (RB) would start for about half of the teams in the Prem, and their are 4 other Chelsea players far behind. I'm not going to defend the spending levels of Chelsea, but as MCOA says, I think they deserve credit for being ahead of the curve in England. Think where ManU might be if they had shipped Pogba, Zaha, Jones, Cleverley and Smalling to a finishing school, as every day starters, in the lower part of the table or in another division over the past couple of years. I'd rather players get experience rather than rot on the bench any day.
   73. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 07, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4632806)
I haven't seen that many United games this year, but the problem is not the quality of the crosses, the problem is that the players they have up front aren't really the type to do that much with them. What's Kagawa supposed to do with a cross?

No doubt United's strikers don't have the physical presence of Negredo, Dzeko or Giroud, so why continue to funnel balls out wide for crosses? Chicharito and Rooney are actually pretty good headers of the ball, but they're not out-jumping any CB.
   74. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 08:33 AM (#4633048)
Thomas Hitzlsperger has come out of the closet. I remember him!

I think David Moyes needs to stop attacking the refs after a loss. I know that was SOP for Fergie but Fergie had the weight of reputation and achievement behind him to get away with that stuff while Moyes just comes across as desperate and whiny.
   75. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 08, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4633076)
In fairness I suspect Moyes IS desperate and a bit whiny at this point. If he's not, he should be.
   76. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 08, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4633078)
Leeds is being sold again. I thought the people who bought it from Ken Bates were going to wait until they got promoted and then sell again. I guess its taken longer and more expensive than they thought to get them up.

Hitzlsperger had 52 caps for Germany. He's got to be the most prominent/successful male team athlete to come out.
   77. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 09:58 AM (#4633086)
In fairness I suspect Moyes IS desperate and a bit whiny at this point. If he's not, he should be.

It kind of bums me out that a team 3 points behind Spurs is in their worst crisis in a quarter century.
   78. DA Baracus Posted: January 08, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4633095)
Fergie came across as whiny too. Just not desperate.
   79. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 08, 2014 at 10:35 AM (#4633117)
Fergles sounded pretty desperate when he was claiming that Ashley Williams tried to kill Robin Van Persie by kicking a ball at him.

Unless he was making a joke about RVP's noted fragility.
   80. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 10:41 AM (#4633126)
Transfer news!

Aiden McGeady to Everton.

Some bad news about Michael Bradley--he could be leaving Roma for Hellas Verona or Bologna. This hasn't been a good window for Yanks with Jermaine Jones out at Schalke and Juan Agudelo in work permit purgatory.

Fergles sounded pretty desperate when he was claiming that Ashley Williams tried to kill Robin Van Persie by kicking a ball at him.

Ha! Fergles! My larger point was that Fergie's hysterics were seen as "mind games" or whatever because of his great success. The eccentricity of a mad genius, so to speak, or the entitlement of a wanker used to winning all the time. Moyes' complaining is making him look out of depth.
   81. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 08, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4633131)
This hasn't been a good window for Yanks with Jermaine Jones out at Schalke and Juan Agudelo in work permit purgatory.

And Wilfred Bony suddenly scoring goals, leaving Altidore all alone as this year's "Don't buy strikers from the Dutch league" example.
   82. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 10:49 AM (#4633136)
And Wilfred Bony suddenly scoring goals, leaving Altidore all alone as this year's "Don't buy strikers from the Dutch league" example.

Heh. On the plus side, Stoke are rumored to be after Aron Johansson. They will get an American striker or die trying. I'm really surprised Graham Zusi is getting some feelers from Europe. I think he's ready for it and he's the only MLS based Nat (besides Donovan or Dempsey, of course) I'd say that about. I think he'd be West Ham's best winger right now, for example.
   83. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 08, 2014 at 10:55 AM (#4633143)
Bradley needs to be playing every match and he's not going to at Roma who just "loaned" another midfielder. Maybe he comes back to England?

Any worry about Lamela's dad's statement? I'm guessing Levy wouldn't sell, but a loan would have to be considered.
   84. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4633149)
Any worry about Lamela's dad's statement? I'm guessing Levy wouldn't sell, but a loan would have to be considered.

Naw, not really. Of course he's not happy--he's not playing! This is probably the first real struggle in his life as a footballer, but I think the club is committed to him. A loan to Inter wouldn't shock me, but whoever is advising him should tell him to keep his nose down and he'll be fine. His talent will win out soon enough. I do think AVB screwed up with him. He should have been playing regularly from Day 1.
   85. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: January 08, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4633190)
I don't think Bradley going to Hellas would be a bad thing. Roma have no Europa League, so he's looking at five months of sporadic bench appearances if he stays there.

I'm unconvinced about Zusi. He possesses neither blistering pace nor superb dribbling skills. He can send in a good cross, but seems to me a lot of EPL guys can do that. I doubt he's better than Downing. Perhaps I'm underrating him, but I'd be very concerned about him making a move to the EPL only to go the way of Brek Shea.
   86. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4633192)
I doubt he's better than Downing.

That's just mean! I like Zusi and think he has a well grounded game. He can take on a defender, he's a good passer, he gets into good positions and is an able defender for a winger. He can cross well, but I see that as more of a bonus to his game than the sum total.
   87. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 08, 2014 at 11:42 AM (#4633203)
I would take Downing over Zusi too. Downing can do all of the things you said Zusi can do, and he's a step more athletic. Downing became a joke due to the ridiculous fee, but he's an above average EPL player, especially so long as you don't have him shoot much.

Colin Trainor at Stats Bomb had a really good piece on Downing making the argument that his lack of assists is much more an issue of poor finishing and bad fortune than poor passing.
   88. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 11:44 AM (#4633209)
Self loathing Americans, all of you!
   89. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4633331)
NBC Sports is completely making up a Michael Bradley and Spurs link! Awesome! I'd love Captain America, but there's no room in the midfield for him with Sandro, Dembele, Capoue, Paulinho, etc on the books. He'd be great in the PL, though. Hell, Man U could do a lot worse than replacing Cleverley with him (which of course doesn't mean that's the best Man U could do there--I just would really like to see Bradley in England).

   90. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4633343)
I think it's the Mail making it up originally. Looks like pure speculation building off Lamela's dad's comments. Obviously makes less than no sense. Spurs are like the one club in England full up with Bradley types. Otherwise he'd be a good addition as a squad player to United, Chelsea, or Liverpool, or as a regular to basically anyone lower in the table.
   91. Textbook Editor Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4633351)
Aiden McGeady to Everton.


Hmmm... An interesting move if it's happening. McGeady has for a while now been a very poor man's Bale for Ireland--a winger with "blistering" pace who (in theory) can unlock a back four, put in a cross, etc... But I've been watching him for a few years now (admittedly in only RoI games) and I just don't see how he'd be in the starting XI for anyone other than a country like RoI. He's not rubbish, but he's never struck me as anything special or anything like the hype I've heard.

Of course, this could be because he's been in the hinterlands for years; playing EPL football on a semi-regular basis might improve things--and I hope it does for the RoI's sake going forward.
   92. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4633357)
It's interesting about McGeady because Moyes was chasing him, too. I believe he's out of contract in the summer so Spartak may let him go and I know he wants a move to the PL. I'd be surprised if they don't work something out.
   93. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4633361)
Well, Everton don't really have any wingers of that sort. Mirallas and Deulofeu are wide forwards, and Pienaar prefers to tuck into midfield. Oviedo has been pushed up to the wing a few times for want of depth. I don't know much about McGeady, but as an abstract player-type he makes sense in the Everton squad.
   94. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4633387)
Toronto fans have been told to expect a big announcement next Monday. Defoe could be maddening but I'll have a lot of good memories of him in the lilywhite.
   95. Textbook Editor Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4633415)
I don't know much about McGeady, but as an abstract player-type he makes sense in the Everton squad.


Well, he does tend to run on the outside of the box up the wing, so he's got that going for him, I guess...

I'm just not even sure he's any kind of crossing machine you can count on to provide width. I've never thought him "speedy" (other than in comparison to other RoI plodders), and can't say he gets these amazing crosses off you never thought he'd be able to bang into the box... I suppose he'll do a job (and if your roster currently has no one capable of doing that job, it's a good thing), but were I an Everton fan I'd hope to hell the price was insanely cheap, as I don't think you're getting any kind of budding superstar or even above-average play out of him at this point.

Although merely not sucking does--as you point out--have some value, given Everton's current situation.
   96. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 08, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4633485)
Bradley to Fulham makes a lot of sense.

Old fashioned, line hugging wing play is great in a vacuum, but which good team really uses that any more? Barcelona, Madrid and Bayern don't use them. Other than Navas with Man City and Blaszczykowski with Dortmund, do any other of the top clubs in the world use them any more?
   97. Mefisto Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4633554)
United with Valencia.
   98. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4633563)
United with Valencia.

He said a good team.

::Drops mic, walks off stage::
   99. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4633604)
Taylor Twellman tweeting that Michael Bradley will be joining Defoe at TFC.

Edit: I'd like to see it sourced elsewhere. You'd think ESPN's lead color guy wouldn't tweet in on a whim, but...
   100. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4633645)
Taylor Twellman tweeting that Michael Bradley will be joining Defoe at TFC.


NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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