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Saturday, March 03, 2012

OT: The Soccer Thread: March

Come ‘round our virtual local, pull up a stool and talk about all the best football has to offer!

RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 03, 2012 at 08:39 AM | 696 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. frannyzoo Posted: March 03, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4073272)
Big day for Leverkusen, beating Bayern while all drop points around them on the table. And then there's Dortmund...up seven if they beat Mainz at home. Good times.

Edit: Oh yeah..it's March. For those who are not schoolteachers, "it's March" is a solemn statement that "maybe I will actually survive this school year without being killed or killing someone."
   2. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 03, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4073276)
Big day for Leverkusen, beating Bayern while all drop points around them on the table. And then there's Dortmund...up seven if they beat Mainz at home. Good times.

*still not counting any chickens*
   3. frannyzoo Posted: March 03, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4073282)
Rafa officially at Chelsea in 5....4.....3....
   4. Swedish Chef Posted: March 03, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4073283)
That has to be it for AVB, right?
   5. Spivey Posted: March 03, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4073284)
I've only seen the second half, but I haven't been impressed by Tim Ream in this game. Granted, he's going up against Man City, but I just don't see much from him.
   6. DA Baracus Posted: March 03, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4073304)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns from his suspension with a first half hat trick. Damn.
   7. frannyzoo Posted: March 03, 2012 at 02:02 PM (#4073312)
I haven't seen any combined km traveled stats, but Dortmund might have the highest team work rate in Europe. Too bad about the CL, but there will most definitely be a next year. More importantly, why would any of these guys leave (except to Real or Barca)?
   8. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 03, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4073318)
Kuba! Kuba! Kuba!


BTW Paolo Guerrero is the early favourite for the "stupidist red card of 2012" award. Cut down the opposing GK from behind. No chance at getting the ball. Studs up, knee high. Just awful.

OTOH, the two penalties they had conceded at that point were what I would call the dictionary definition of 'soft'.
   9. frannyzoo Posted: March 03, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4073321)
Handball on Kagawa just prior to goal...uh, maybe.

And Palermo might be hiring AVB by the end of the day. Complete defensive capitulation in progress v. Milan at home. Balzaretti doing quite the Peyton Manning impersonation today on suspension.
   10. Swedish Chef Posted: March 03, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4073330)
More importantly, why would any of these guys leave (except to Real or Barca)?

Because there is much more money to be had in Prem. Or at Bayern, they have never been shy about looting the Bundesliga.

   11. Swedish Chef Posted: March 03, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4073332)
And Palermo might be hiring AVB by the end of the day.

They already have half a dozen or so previously fired managers under contract. Expect a retread.
   12. frannyzoo Posted: March 03, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4073338)
I was kidding about AVB at Palermo. Most likely Palermo will have three new managers before AVB gets fired at Chelsea. Meanwhile, back at Signal Iduna...oops.
   13. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 03, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4073341)
Meanwhile, back at Signal Iduna...oops.

I do not know this place of which you speak.
   14. frannyzoo Posted: March 03, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4073347)
Watching Kagawa is fun...even at Signal Iduna. I know...harsh.

Hey, my early afternoon Messi fix is missing. Whine. Beer and whine. The good news, however, is that Xavi looks much more fit...dancing around nicely.
   15. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 03, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4073356)
Watching Kagawa is fun...even at Signal Iduna.

Why would you want to watch him at an insurance company? I'll stick to watching him at the Westfalenstadion.
   16. frannyzoo Posted: March 03, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4073359)
I dunno...he could dribble through a few adjusters and scoop an actuarial finish over Edward G. Robinson (obscure film reference). Bottom line: Dortmund is up seven pending Gladbach's game tomorrow. That is very, very cool.
   17. DA Baracus Posted: March 03, 2012 at 03:43 PM (#4073370)
Michael Bradley and his shiny bald dome vs undefeated Juventus on ESPN3 now. Maybe he can beat Buffon twice in one week.
   18. Mefisto Posted: March 03, 2012 at 04:41 PM (#4073385)
I've only seen the second half, but I haven't been impressed by Tim Ream in this game. Granted, he's going up against Man City, but I just don't see much from him.


I watched him carefully in the first half. He was playing out of position (holding mid, just above the central two) and obviously had been told to mark YaYa Toure. I'd have to say that's got to be an incredibly difficult job. He actually held his position well and challenged Toure. When he got the ball, he distributed it well. The one mark against him was that Toure isolated him in the midfield twice and beat him for pace. That was, shall we say, undesireable, but could happen to most players. Neither occasion ended in a goal.

I'm not a Ream fan, but in my view he was perfectly cromulent, as the saying goes, in the first half. If I get to the second half, I'll see if I change my mind.
   19. frannyzoo Posted: March 03, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4073403)
I didn't see 100% of the match, but it looks like one could argue that Bradley's great tackle was the impetus for Chievo's outplaying of Juve in the 2nd half. 1-1. That's gotta hurt the Old Lady.
   20. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: March 03, 2012 at 09:58 PM (#4073457)
Shinji Kagawa might be my favorite player to watch in all of soccer. His work with the ball is just amazing. He had some great runs today, including one that led to a goal (Kuba!). Lewandowski-Grobkreutz-Kuba-Kagawa are so in sync now it's ridiculous.

More importantly, why would any of these guys leave (except to Real or Barca)?


There's a bit of a logjam at midfield once Gotze returns. You've got Gotze, Shinji, Kuba, Grobkreutz, and Perisic; IMO all are capable of starting for good Bundesliga/EPL/La Liga/Serie A teams. From what I remember B?aszczykowski was *very* close to leaving the club because of lack of playing time while Gotze was healthy; he's more than justified his starting role since Gotze went down.

Barrios might want to move to get more playing time with another club, but I wouldn't consider him an important member of the team.

There were rumors of Lewy going to Liverpool over the winter but seeing as though L'Pool seems to be the place where strikers go to die (Carroll, Torres) or become racists (Suarez) I don't want that to happen.
   21. ursus arctos Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4073560)
   22. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4073566)
AVB gone.

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

OTOH, with Roberto di Matteo taking over as caretaker manager, my FM oracle AVB-Wenger swap for next season is still on!

Criminal assault by Guerrero against Stuttgart's keeper.

Just brutal, as I said. No idea what the hell he was thinking. Are they actually charging him with anything though? I haven't read that anywhere...
   23. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4073567)
Player power strikes again. Roman fired the wrong 30-something(s).
   24. Swedish Chef Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4073570)
Player power strikes again. Roman fired the wrong 30-something(s).

He just didn't do a thorough enough job, I think AVB deserved what he got but they also really need to arrange a public flogging of the old guard before bundling them off to Leeds.
   25. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4073572)
He just didn't do a thorough enough job, I think AVB deserved what he got but they also really need to arrange a public flogging of the old guard before bundling them off to Leeds.

If only the players had celebrated with AVB after goals, all would be well in the land! Can you not see that?!
   26. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4073576)
I guess since DiMatteo is taking over until the summer that Mourinho back to Chelsea seems likely.

Pogrevnyak has a couple of more goals for Fulham.
   27. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:50 AM (#4073579)
Abramovich should never have hired the guy if he wasn't prepared to suffer some growing pains while AVB eased the old guard off into the sunset. A bit naive by both owner and (former) manager, I feel.
   28. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4073580)
I love how the Guardian has a MLS preview (which I didn't read). I wonder how many US papers will have a MLS preview.
   29. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4073581)
Abramovich should never have hired the guy if he wasn't prepared to suffer some growing pains while AVB eased the old guard off into the sunset. A bit naive by both owner and (former) manager, I feel.

I thought they'd give him a full summer transfer window to rework the squad. Chelsea have some work to do to get in line with FFP and throwing tens of millions of pounds at managers isn't going to help them. The next manager has a tough job ahead--the players they want to cast off don't have much sell value and the players they'll need to replace them with will be expensive. I can easily see them going into the purgatory Liverpool have been in the last few years.
   30. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4073582)
I love how the Guardian has a MLS preview (which I didn't read). I wonder how many US papers will have a MLS preview.

They're doing more and more articles on the MLS. I guess they want to be to go-to site for American soccer fans which isn't a bad plan, really.
   31. Mefisto Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:11 AM (#4073588)
The rebuilding at Liverpool and Chelsea (and to some extent Arsenal) really enhances my respect for SAF. He's done it repeatedly over the space of 20 years with no drop-off. Pretty amazing whether you're a fan or not.
   32. frannyzoo Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:26 AM (#4073591)
Well, it's only 4-0...so far. Wolves say bring on Derby County!
   33. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4073598)
   34. frannyzoo Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:35 AM (#4073601)
Well, when you're playing an offensive force as potent and unstoppable as Fulham FC...
   35. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4073611)
Fulham is 4th in the league in scoring at home.
   36. frannyzoo Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4073613)
They were 6th before today. Give them another 3 or 4 home games against Wolverhampton and they might pass Man City.
   37. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4073615)
Tottenham's lineup is not filling me with confidence.

Anyone else struggling with FSC in HD? My normal def channel is fine, but all the Fox and Gol TV hi def channels are all ###### up.
   38. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4073619)
So? 6th is pretty good for a perennial mid-table team.
   39. Textbook Editor Posted: March 04, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4073620)
No Bale, huh. So which report was correct? The "unnamed sources" one that said he would be out 10-21 days, or 'arry saying no, no, move along, nothing to see here...?
   40. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 04, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4073627)
I'm amazed that both the teams have decided to play with two up top.
   41. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4073644)
Dear Louis Saha,

Please stop shooting at your teammates standing on the goal line and try the rest of the net instead.

Much obliged,
Spurs fans
   42. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4073647)
Classic Spurs. Classic United. Utter shite for 40 minutes and then get a sucker punch completely against the run of play.
   43. Textbook Editor Posted: March 04, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4073649)
poop
   44. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4073653)
What really sucks is that now United can go to three in midfield and keep Tottenham at arms length for the next 45 minutes.
   45. Textbook Editor Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4073669)
bloody hell
   46. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4073670)
Classic Spurs. Classic United. Utter shite for 40 minutes and then get a sucker punch completely against the run of play.

Utter shite for another 20 minutes and then another sucker punch completely against the run of play. Nice ####### defense from Spurs for another week.
   47. Spivey Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4073672)
Nice defense from Modric on that throw in.
   48. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4073673)
Smash and grab.
   49. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4073674)
Forgot dos Santos still played football.
   50. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4073675)
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea's AVB sacking statement is essentially the one they used with Scolari.

Scolari

AVB
   51. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4073676)
I like how United score every time they manage to get in Spurs half of the field.
   52. Swedish Chef Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4073678)
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea's AVB sacking statement is essentially the one they used with Scolari.

They probably have a template in Word for that.
   53. Tike Redman's Shattered Dreams Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4073683)
So Livermore has technically been on the field, right? Has he touched the ball in the past half hour?
   54. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4073694)
Awful defending on all three goals. What a shocker.
   55. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 04, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4073695)
I liked it better when Spurs were in the title race as opposed to desperately clinging to third.
   56. Mattbert Posted: March 04, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4073697)
If they get their #### together, they can go on a run again in April and May. Their run-in is very soft after Everton and Chelsea the next two weeks.
   57. Spivey Posted: March 04, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4073713)
Pavel Pogrebnyak had a hat trick, and Dempsey scored another 2 goals as Fulham wins 5-0 against Wolves. Fulham has been in pretty good form lately and is actually getting good play from their forwards. Dempsey has been in the form of his life the last 16 months. What a goal scorer.
   58. frannyzoo Posted: March 04, 2012 at 03:29 PM (#4073719)
Pavel Pogrebnyak had a hat trick, and Dempsey scored another 2 goals as Fulham wins 5-0 against Wolves.


Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln (noted Wolves fan), how was...?
   59. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 04, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4073722)
A few random comments:

- Ursus - going back to the last thread, I'm inclined to take your word on the Cavani vs Lavezzi debate. Admittedly, the majority of Napoli games I've seen this year and last have been either their Champions League ties or bigger Serie A fixtures, where Napoli are mostly content playing on the counter. I haven't seen them in many games where they're playing 'lesser' sides and are forced to take the game to the opposition. Given their relative lack of success in these games, I'd guess it's here where the inconsistency comes into play.

- Is Benitez the replacement for AVB? Certainly appears that way. Ugh. I was kind of holding out hope that Rafa would somehow make his way back to Liverpool -- KD bows out gracefully after a season or two, in my more-than-optimistic dream -- but I can't really blame him for jumping at the Chelsea job.

- Fernando Torres didn't die at Liverpool. He was arguably the best striker in the world from 2007-2010 -- a great combination of pace, power, technical skill and finishing ability. From the start of calendar year 2010, though, he hasn't been the same, so the demise definitely started while he was still wearing red.

- Ibrahimovic ruined my chance to get a good look at Miccoli (kind of an oddly shaped fellow -- almost like a younger Cuauhtemoc Blanco). I'm using "ruined" facetiously, of course -- that was a pretty neat hat-trick from Ibra. His second goal was brilliant -- defenders backed off leaving Ibra a few yards of space, and he's able to curl it into the far corner, with Palermo's GK not moving an inch.

- Not sure what's left to say about this Liverpool team. I've been waiting the whole season for this hitting posts thing to 'even itself out', but it hasn't. Two more yesterday, plus a missed penalty, plus a missed tap-in after the penalty, plus a whiff from Martin Kelly from three yards out... I don't know what more to say. All of the players that Comolli and FSG have brought in look like squad players at best, save for Suarez and Enrique(*). This was the year to grab that fourth CL spot -- Chelsea's imploding, and Arsenal don't really strike fear into you -- and they've fallen on their face in the league. I'm curious to see how much money Comolli gets to make changes this summer -- they've got the new kit deal with Warrior, but I can see FSG being a bit gun-shy after seeing so much spent on mediocrity last summer.

(*)This is a bit of a simplification. Henderson is young and useful; Adam didn't cost a whole lot, and is probably a useful player if he's got a couple of midfielders flanking him who can cover for his lack of athleticism/defensive skills.
   60. BFFB Posted: March 04, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4073732)
Fernando Torres didn't die at Liverpool. He was arguably the best striker in the world from 2007-2010 -- a great combination of pace, power, technical skill and finishing ability. From the start of calendar year 2010, though, he hasn't been the same, so the demise definitely started while he was still wearing red.


It was being continually rushed back for Liverpool, then the 2010 World Cup and injury which killed him off. It just didn't become 100% apparent until he signed for Chelsea.
   61. frannyzoo Posted: March 04, 2012 at 04:08 PM (#4073733)
While we're asking opinions of Ursus....Dear Bear...what do you make of Inter?

I'm watching them play a very mediocre road team, and they certainly seem utterly broken. Zanetti is one of my favorite players to watch. Forlan seems enthused to kickstart things. Still, they just don't got it.

Insights?

Edit: I just saw an "attacking" bit of play in which Lucio was playing trequartista. Really. Hard to remember that game against Bayern way back when...

   62. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 04, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4073750)
Inter are just comical at this point. Maybe they'll lose every game for the rest of the season!
   63. Baldrick Posted: March 04, 2012 at 05:08 PM (#4073754)
I'm not right all that often, but I definitely called this one.
441. Baldrick Posted: February 14, 2011 at 09:39 PM (#3750146)
Torres terrible yet again. At a certain point you have to start thinking he might be done as a world-class player.

I also called Carroll to Liverpool as an epic failure, but that's not really that surprising so I don't think I can claim all that much credit there.
   64. puck Posted: March 04, 2012 at 06:19 PM (#4073776)
Inter came back to tie. And they did have that winning streak in between the two horrible streaks.

They're very old, and seem oddly out of synch on top of it. I guess it's obvious they could be playing better, but they have a tough rebuilding project ahead of them.
   65. Mefisto Posted: March 04, 2012 at 06:43 PM (#4073782)
Nobody mentioned Barca yet, but I think it would make La Liga much more interesting if Barca had to play every game 10 v. 11 and with no Messi. Same rule for Madrid, no Ronaldo.
   66. puck Posted: March 04, 2012 at 06:43 PM (#4073783)
I love how the Guardian has a MLS preview (which I didn't read). I wonder how many US papers will have a MLS preview.


I haven't had a chance to look at all of it, and certainly don't know all the teams in MLS, but at first glance it looks pretty decent...the Colorado section is more accurate than most US articles. Even the mlssoccer.com Rapids preview had position and spelling errors.

They're doing more and more articles on the MLS. I guess they want to be to go-to site for American soccer fans which isn't a bad plan, really.


With the NYTimes going partial pay-site, the Guardian might be the go-to site for lots of other stuff, too.
   67. JuanGone..except1game Posted: March 04, 2012 at 08:39 PM (#4073814)
AVB gone.


What a ####-show this has become. Anyone who watched that West Brom match can see that the players dishonorably gave up on AVB, and thus ended his reign. I'm not usually one for clearing the decks, but I don't see how you can allow the old crew of Lampard, Cole, Malouda, Terry and Drogba to lead this club.

Is Benitez the replacement for AVB? Certainly appears that way. Ugh. I was kind of holding out hope that Rafa would somehow make his way back to Liverpool -- KD bows out gracefully after a season or two, in my more-than-optimistic dream -- but I can't really blame him for jumping at the Chelsea job.


Rafa wouldn't be a bad choice. I've always loved his tactics, though not the most exciting. I actually think his 4-2-3-1 would have worked much better for this Chelsea squad as currently constructed. AVB played with it a few times, but ultimately was too tied to his 4-3-3 to try something new.

Also, Capello is one of the rumored. We know that he has one fan on the team.
   68. Mefisto Posted: March 04, 2012 at 08:48 PM (#4073818)
Capello would be a HUGE mistake. The source of the problem at Chelsea is the same as on the England team: Lampard, Terry, and Cole. All of them need to go.

I actually admire Stuart Pearce for his selection in the Holland game. He (mostly) cleaned out the dead wood. Whoever the new England boss is will need to do the same.
   69. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2012 at 09:21 PM (#4073826)
Haven't seen Capello's name in the mix.

Who even wants that job? If you win a title you're only delaying getting fired until when you fail to win another one. Plus you have to put up with a core group of players that are noted ########, and aging ones at that. There is nothing appealing about managing Chelsea except the paycheck.
   70. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 04, 2012 at 09:39 PM (#4073835)
There is nothing appealing about managing Chelsea except the paycheck.

That seems like a pretty big appeal.
   71. DA Baracus Posted: March 04, 2012 at 09:52 PM (#4073836)
That seems like a pretty big appeal.


Depends. For Rafa Benitez, yes. For the other two names being tossed around, Guardiola and Mourinho, is it really worth it? I don't think so. They'll get paid whoever they go.
   72. Spivey Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:26 PM (#4073852)
Why would Guardiola or Mourinho go there? That would be a huge step back. Those are far and away the 2 best and most prestigious teams in the world right now. It would be like Redknapp quitting Tottenham at the end of the season to go coach at Fulham.
   73. A Random 8-Year-Old Eskimo Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:45 PM (#4073867)
Why would Guardiola or Mourinho go there?

Guardiola may go there because he feels like he's accomplished all he can at Barcelona and wants a fresh challenge. Mourinho may go there because he wants to return to manage in the Premier League and live in England. I don't think that either of those are particularly compelling reasons and I don't expect either of them to be Chelsea's manager in July, but there are conceivable reasons for either of them may wind up at Stamford Bridge.
   74. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:47 PM (#4073885)
I have never said a bad word about Roman until today. When the players act like #####, you GET RID OF THE PLAYERS instead of GETTING RID OF THE MANAGER. This team needs CONTINUITY, and if the "old guard" is clearly trying to run the manager out of town both on and off the pitch, you get rid of the player.

Btw, now that AVB has been fired, Benitez would be an even bigger disaster. At least AVB looks good in that suit.

What a ####-show this has become. Anyone who watched that West Brom match can see that the players dishonorably gave up on AVB, and thus ended his reign. I'm not usually one for clearing the decks, but I don't see how you can allow the old crew of Lampard, Cole, Malouda, Terry and Drogba to lead this club.


The players just quit. It was pathetic. Out of that list, I would consider Terry staying (for continuity) to lead a "second group" of Chelsea players, but it's probably impossible for the players to get an idea of on-pitch quit/revolt without Terry's quiet approval.

The next manager has to come in, and clean house. Get rid of anybody who blows, and/or malcontent. I can live with 4-5 years of Thursday Night Channel Five. I can't live with the inmates running the asylum.
   75. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:52 PM (#4073892)
Forgot to mention: even though Torres has been crappy, at least he's trying and running, as opposed to the rest of the team. We may be Chelsea scum, but we never really turned on Shevy, and we haven't turned on Torres. Because at least as opposed to the rest of the legion of #############, he's at least moving his feet.
   76. Juan V Posted: March 05, 2012 at 12:56 AM (#4073916)
AVB linked to the Inter job. I guess he'll move on to Madrid after Jose wins the Champions League this year or the next.
   77. Juan V Posted: March 05, 2012 at 04:18 AM (#4073958)
Of the old Chelsea core, I think I'd save Cashley. The others can go.
   78. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: March 05, 2012 at 06:09 AM (#4073965)
Absolutely needs to go: Malouda, Kalou, Mikel, Bosingwa
Somewhat sad to see go: Drogba, Meireles
Can't believe I own your shirt you gutless pricks: JT, Lampard
Undecided: Ashley Cole (He's not actually intellectually capable of leading a rebellion)
You were garbage but I still love you: Torres, Paulo Ferriera
   79. ursus arctos Posted: March 05, 2012 at 08:41 AM (#4073973)
Couple of things:

FWIW, Lavezzi was Napoli's best player in Parma yesterday, even if his winner was tainted by offside.

Inter are a shambles. Yesterday's first half seemed to be dedicated to creating as many ridiculously good chances in front of Julio Cesar as possible, and the second half comeback against a very limited Catania side didn't fool anyone. The largest single problem is Sneijder's abrupt and shocking loss of form, which has created a giant hole in midfield, but the entire team is underperforming and time is very much not on their side. The parallels to Chelsea on the field (i.e., without the revolt of the old guard, but likely with the same undermining of the current administration by the ex-manager in Madrid) are rather striking. They need to rebuild, but patience has never been one of Moratti's virtues.

The Guardian's online focus on US content goes well beyond football. They are trying to do for "quality" Anglophone journalism what the Daily Mail has done for gossip. It's made the Mail the most popular on-line newspaper in the world, and could work for the Grauniad, particularly given the paywall at the New York Times.
   80. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 05, 2012 at 09:50 AM (#4073986)
I'm going to focus on the good news from the weekend. Freiburg beat Schalke, Torino won on the road and Chelsea are a shambles. I think the first mistake AVB made was trying to implement his system while the old guard were still around. He needed to be conservative and then chop heads in the summer when it was clear the old guard had nothing left to give. That said, those guys won a lot of silverware for Chelsea. The end was always going to be messy but those guys brought a lot of glory to the club, too.

The largest single problem is Sneijder's abrupt and shocking loss of form, which has created a giant hole in midfield, but the entire team is underperforming and time is very much not on their side.

Gasperini has said he was all set to sell Sneijder with Moratti's approval but it was vetoed by someone in the hierarchy. How does that happen if the coach and owner are on the same page? But yeah, it was clear from early on Inter didn't have the players to compete this year. One advantage for Mourinho's reputation is he doesn't stick around long enough to have to do a tear down of any of his team's, I guess.
   81. Mattbert Posted: March 05, 2012 at 10:16 AM (#4074007)
Question for the bear: Beyond 'it sounds funny' is there any other reason you call it the Grauniad?
   82. Ron J Posted: March 05, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4074025)
#74 I'd say there's roughly zero chance of a full house-cleaning. Even though the core of the team is old/in decline players as good as or better than them are not what you'd call freely available.

I'm thinking it's far more likely that they'll try to rebuild on the run. I don't see a reality check from ownership as being at all likely.

Don't get me wrong, I see it likely to end in tears. But that seems likely no matter what. It's not like there's a great next generation being blocked by the old guard. Do they actually have any elite young talent? I don't see it.

I think I'd look for a coach with good soft skills to get what they can from the old guard and plan for a year or two down the road. But then there would be a real temptation to bring in some expensive veterans and while that might "work" (as in keep them on the fringe of the title/CL race) it will certainly hold back Chelsea 2.0

The next couple of years looks like a lousy time for Chealsea fans no matter what.
   83. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 05, 2012 at 11:31 AM (#4074070)
The next couple of years looks like a lousy time for Chealsea fans no matter what.

It's hard to feel sorry for them. A couple of years in Europa while re-loading for another dynasty? Boo freaking hoo.
   84. Richard Posted: March 05, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4074075)
Question for the bear: Beyond 'it sounds funny' is there any other reason you call it the Grauniad?

It comes from the satirical magazine Private eye. The Guardian was once notorious for spelling errors (eg Brazilian star Socrates described as "50 crates").

The Guardian is losing tens of millions of pounds a year, is sacking journalists by the boatload, and its content on the internet remains free. It's nuts.

Very few English football fans would weep for Chelsea. They are the poster boys of what people who remember the pre EPL days dislike about the modern game.
   85. ursus arctos Posted: March 05, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4074079)
Shooty, one of the many dysfunctional aspects of the House of Inter is that there are multiple individuals beyond the coach and owner with a certain degree of power, but next to no accountability (again, there are parallels with Chelsea, though the situation at Inter is worse in this respect).

The fact that Jose has never torn down one of his teams is what makes the idea of him going back to the Bridge so intriguing. He is reported to have repeatedly told both Lampard and Terry that they were "the best player in the world" during his first tenure. The spectre of his "betraying" them appeals to the opera fan in me (Jose would be a baritone, like Scarpia in Tosca).
   86. Swedish Chef Posted: March 05, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4074101)
Why would Guardiola or Mourinho go there? That would be a huge step back.

Everywhere is going to be a step back in some sense, but this is as big job as there is available, City and United are set and all the other clubs have equal status with Chelsea at best. I would assume that either of those guys would be given a pretty large transfer kitty as an inducement to join.
   87. ursus arctos Posted: March 05, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4074157)
   88. BFFB Posted: March 05, 2012 at 01:08 PM (#4074158)
Guardiola will probably sit around for a couple of years doing nothing and attempt to stop looking like death warmed over.
   89. ursus arctos Posted: March 05, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4074172)
Guardiola is on record as saying that he wants to live and work in England at some point (in large part for his kids' benefit), but I don't think he's ready to leave Barcelona, nor would he be attracted by a club with such a weird history when it comes to decision making. He's become used to having a great deal of control, and would expect the same wherever he went.

In my view, he's much more likely to end up at Arsenal or Tottenham, should he go to England.
   90. Mefisto Posted: March 05, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4074182)
Pep is so Barca that it's hard to imagine him anywhere else, but I could see him replacing SAF.
   91. DA Baracus Posted: March 05, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4074184)
Why would Guardiola or Mourinho go there?


Ego. Where ever they go they'll get paid, they'll get a stack of cash for transfers on an already talented team and they'll be in Champions League so that stuff doesn't matter. But winning at Chelsea, turning that team around would stroke their egos like no other job right now, for different reasons for each man. Yes, it seems absurd on it's face that those two would need their egos stroked, but never underestimate a coach's desire to make himself even bigger than he already is. The history of sport is littered with coaches taking huge missteps in attempts to bolster themselves.

The next manager has to come in, and clean house.


The only way that will happen is if it's a manager with clout, because if someone with out tries to do that, they'll lose all the rope they had. After all, Villas-Boas benched Lampard and it contributed to him losing his job. But no one with clout will (at least, should) take that job, so it's not going to fix itself.

I don't care either way for Villas-Boas, but I hope that Chelsea re-insert the old guard into the starting lineup with regularity and continue to lose.
   92. ursus arctos Posted: March 05, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4074202)
The thing about Guardiola at Man Utd is that Manchester is seriously less attractive to Europeans looking to expose their kids to English culture than London is. This actually matters to a certain group of people, of whom Guardiola is one.
   93. Mefisto Posted: March 05, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4074277)
Fair point ursus.
   94. Textbook Editor Posted: March 05, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4074300)
Man, if Spurs could somehow wind up with Guardiola... that would be great. I mean, it seems like a pipe dream, to be honest. But if it would come to pass, it would be great.
   95. PepTech Posted: March 05, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4074352)
Not that I care much, but for consistency's sake it might be nice to start using a convention like "...the_soccer_thread_[month]12" now that we have to use numbers at all...

Just saying.
   96. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 05, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4074358)
I'll admit I have no clue how to evaluate Guardiola as a manager. Yeah, Barca has been great... but it's Barca. I feel like my mother could coach that team, and with that squat, they'd still be great...
   97. PepTech Posted: March 05, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4074363)
I feel like my mother could coach that team, and with that squat


Must... resist...
   98. DA Baracus Posted: March 05, 2012 at 04:18 PM (#4074367)
I'll admit I have no clue how to evaluate Guardiola as a manager. Yeah, Barca has been great... but it's Barca. I feel like my mother could coach that team, and with that squat, they'd still be great...


Agreed. On the other hand, Mourinho has just as talented a squad and Guardiola has, head to head, dominated Mourinho. That's worth something.
   99. Randy Jones Posted: March 05, 2012 at 04:28 PM (#4074375)
Mourinho has just as talented a squad and Guardiola has, head to head, dominated Mourinho. That's worth something.


Talent isn't everything. Most of the Barca players have been playing together, in the same system in both club and international play, since they were all teenagers. That is a huge, huge advantage.
   100. Grunthos Posted: March 05, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4074376)
The only way that will happen is if it's a manager with clout


It's a pity Felix Magath is currently employed. I can't think of a clearer way for Abramovich to say "nyet" to the old guard.
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