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Sunday, March 02, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014

Lots of great games this month and a lot of good mid-week action. Make or break time for Arsenal, Barcelona and Napoli.

March 5th: Ukraine vs USA
March 8th: Seattle vs Sporting KC as MLS gets started, Chelsea vs Tottenham, Arsenal vs Everton in the Cup
March 9th: Man City vs Wigan in the Cup and in Italy Juventus begin have the first of their three battles in the span of two weeks and Napoli host Roma
March 10th: CONCACAF CL begins with Alajuense taking on Arabe Unido. Feel the excitement!
March 11th: Bayern v Arsenal and Atleti v Milan
March 12th: Barca v Man City and Rangers v Airdrie United
March 13th: Spurs v Benfica, Napoli v Porto and Juventus v Fiorentina in some good looking EL matchups.
March 15th: Seattle v Toronto in the battle of American stars, the battle of the Borussias in Germany, Bayern v Leverkusen
March 16th: Derby Day! Liverpool vs Man U and Spurs vs Arsenal
March 17th: Torino v Napoli
March 18th: Chelsea v Galatasaray and Crawley Town v Wolverhampton
March 19th: Borussia Dortmund vs Zenit and Man U vs Olympiacos
March 20th: Europa League return legs
March 21: Freiburng vs Werder Bremen
March 22: Chelsea v Arsenal, Monaco v Lille
March 23: Spurs v Southampton, Real Madrid v Barca, Napoli v Fiornetina
March 25: Manchester Derby, Roma v Torino
March 26: Liverpool v Sunderland, Sevilla v Real Madrid
March 27: Inter v Udinese
March 29: Arsenal v Man City
March 30: Liverpool v Spurs, Barcelona Derby, Athletic v Atletico, Napoli v Juventus

 

 

 

Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 02, 2014 at 11:12 AM | 1404 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   201. frannyzoo Posted: March 14, 2014 at 08:14 AM (#4671317)
Flip. I thought I might wake up to a story about Sherwood and "mutual agreement," but I guess that will wait until Summer.
   202. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 14, 2014 at 09:27 AM (#4671350)
I didn't see the game yesterday--Fox didn't show these yesterday so I couldn't tape it--but nothing in the headlines today makes me think Sherwood will get the sack soon. Unless they go on some kind of miracle run I think he'll be replaced in the summer, though. Vertonghen and Lloris are sure to leave, too, unless Van Gaal comes in and says they can't. What are they going to do, argue with Van Gaal? Of course, I'm not convinced Van Gaal will be the guy. Prandelli is more like the guy Levy falls for in the Ramos and AVB mold. My personal preference would be to give Everton whatever they want and get Martinez but I'm not sure that's a starter.

And hey, the North London Derby is a couple of days away. Fantastic! Never have Spurs been more prepared...
   203. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 14, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4671433)
I believe the new rumors on Prandelli have him staying with the Italy job past the World Cup and possibly waiting on one of the big Serie A jobs.

Based on the twitters, the new hip pick for an upcoming manager is Roger Schmidt of SV Salzburg. He has his club running away with the Austrian Bundesliga (currently on 64 points with 2nd and 3rd on 39 and 38 respectively), and they stomped Ajax 6-1 on aggregate in the first round of the Europa knockouts. The adjusted +/- system Goal Impact rates Salzburg even with Juve and Porto as the best clubs remaining in the Europa League.

Here's a two-hour youtube video of Salzburg beating Bayern 3-0 in preseason. And here's a (German) tactical analysis by Rene Maric. They play a very high-effort pressing style, so I can see worries about the translation to a much longer league schedule outside of Austria, but the organization is incredible.
   204. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 14, 2014 at 10:51 AM (#4671465)
Thanks Matt. I don't know, I'm twice bitten three times shy when it comes to tactical geniuses from the continent. Whether the fault was the managers or the support system, it just hasn't worked. Who is tweeting stuff about Schmidt and Spurs? A google search comes up with zilch on that connection.
   205. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 14, 2014 at 11:20 AM (#4671494)
Oh, no actual connection. Just some people saying, hey, this guy looks cool!

But I think "from the continent" is way too broad a category to generalize off for any purpose.
   206. jmurph Posted: March 14, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4671498)
MCoA: I think I missed this somewhere, but where are you posting your soccer stuff?
   207. jmurph Posted: March 14, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4671502)
So what's the take on Soldado? I was convinced he just wasn't cut out for the Premier League, but I haven't seen him in a few weeks. I would think a minimum of one striker would be on the shopping list, considering you also can't exactly count on Adebayor to do this consistently.
   208. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 14, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4671534)
But I think "from the continent" is way too broad a category to generalize off for any purpose.

Sure, but I'm becoming skeptical the support system is in place at the club to support a foreign manager's tactical system. It takes patience and 100% confidence that the long term goal is worth the early hiccups. Spurs are 0 for 2 in this regard now. It's not so much I think a continental manager would fail Spurs but that Spurs will fail the manager (the whispers always seem to begin early that this ain't the Spurs way and what's this flashy foreign genius on about). I'm of two minds on Van Gaal--who is the platonic ideal of a continental manager--but I do think if he's hired it won't be the half measures we've seen with Ramos and AVB and would likely get with a guy like Schmidt's profile. I think Van Gaal is constitutionally unable to be anything other than in charge and is why I wonder if Levy has the balls to hire him and stay in the background and let him work.
   209. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 14, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4671540)
So what's the take on Soldado?

Well, I'm not prepared to pass judgment on him yet since no striker Spurs had thrived under AVB and Sherwood hasn't given him a run of games. Yesterday would have been the perfect time to play him and give Adebayor a breather but...nope!
   210. Swedish Chef Posted: March 14, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4671553)
It's very unlikely that a club with Tottenham's pedigree would look for a manager in a two-bit league like Austria. Even more so for Spurs specifically after their Christian Gross experience.
   211. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4671644)
LFC took around an 18 mp bath on Carroll but it was the right thing to do. Anything over 15 mp and I think they should dump Soldado because of his age. I would assume Vertonghen and Lloris are gone. Adebayor is not trustworthy. The club has a lot of talent but they are going to have to nail the managerial appointment and stick with it. As an outsider I would say bring in a centerback to pair with Chiriches, pick up a left back, pick up a veteran keeper, and drop some pretty serious money on a PL striker. With what they already have and a quality manager that is a really good team and I think it is realistic as Vertonghen and Lloris are valuable properties and should bring in good money. I would be reluctant to move Lamela unless he is completely unsuited to adapting. I would also consider moving a mid in favor of one that better complements Paulinho and have Eriksen pulling the strings. I truly think the managerial flux has hurt them. I admire Levy, but it has become a legitimate mark against him.
   212. JuanGone..except1game Posted: March 14, 2014 at 02:15 PM (#4671714)
A lot of Chelsea fans were dissapointed in not picking up a striker, but after our Torres adventure, I'm of the mind that if you are going to pay a good deal of money for one either go really good and young, or go elite and fit. Soldado, who didn't even make the Euro squad for Spain, is just in the middle class that was likely to wind up being poor money spent.

I'm praying that the Torres to Inter rumours are true. He's turned himself into a serviceable striker, but Chelsea needs to take that Carroll type bath and move on if they can.

   213. Randy Jones Posted: March 14, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4671757)
A lot of Chelsea fans were dissapointed in not picking up a striker


Chelsea already has a solution at striker. It's called don't loan out Lukaku.
   214. frannyzoo Posted: March 14, 2014 at 04:01 PM (#4671817)
AVB to Zenit looks done. And in the Bundesliga, Augsburg is already up on Schalke. That stout Schalke defense held out until the fifth minute.
   215. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 14, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4671845)
It's very unlikely that a club with Tottenham's pedigree would look for a manager in a two-bit league like Austria. Even more so for Spurs specifically after their Christian Gross experience.

Arsenal grabbed a guy from Japan and Man U got a guy from Scotland. Granted that was a long time ago.
   216. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 14, 2014 at 07:46 PM (#4671928)
MCoA: I think I missed this somewhere, but where are you posting your soccer stuff?
So, I took this and ran with it. Sorry in advance for the self-promotion.

Most of my stuff is published at Cartilage Free Captain, under Michael Caley. I wrote a couple pieces at other locations around SB Nation (on the New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers and Borussia Dortmund) and I'll hopefully be doing some more of that, especially as the World Cup approaches. My stat pages for EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A are all published at CFC (EPL, Europe), and my MLS stat page is on the SBNation/MLS site. You can follow me on the twitters, if you're interested, I link to new articles there.
   217. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 14, 2014 at 07:49 PM (#4671930)
So what's the take on Soldado? I was convinced he just wasn't cut out for the Premier League, but I haven't seen him in a few weeks. I would think a minimum of one striker would be on the shopping list, considering you also can't exactly count on Adebayor to do this consistently.
Soldado's got the yips. His combination play is very good, and he's been a more creative passer than I expected. Reasonably consistently this year he's gotten into good positions and then shot yards wide. The guy just loses it in front of goal. I'm hopeful that the yips will pass, as they usually do, and he can be a capable EPL striker.
   218. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 14, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4671937)
I remain unconvinced that Soldado is the type of player that Spurs should have dropped as much money on as they did (age, his physical qualities, their lack of technical quality), but he's certainly much better than he's shown so far. Spurs' dreadful, inconsistent "service" is at large part to blame, because he's not the type that creates his own shot and only getting one or two half-chances a match will take any poacher type off the boil and then, what it mostly is, is a terrible lack of confidence from lack of scoring feeding a vicious cycle ...

Which is why I'm so glad Sherwood figured that right after Soldado broke his goal drought to huge applause and might have a chance to start building something back up again, he decided to sit Soldado in favor of Harry Kane.
   219. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 15, 2014 at 09:02 AM (#4672029)
Hmmm ... I'm gonna say Jelavic [sic?] probably deserved a whistle for the winning of the ball, but Kompany has to know better than to mug* the guy once that had happened ...

*It was more clumsy than violent, but when you pull a guy's jersey a couple of feet away from his body, when you're the last man, in direct view of the ref, you're going to get pinched (even if the other guy took the opportunity to go to ground).
   220. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 15, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4672032)
Silva with a moment of clear, brilliant class on that strike.

Game on.
   221. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 15, 2014 at 09:17 AM (#4672033)
What's amazing is how much better City have been since the sending off. It's like they needed a wake up call and they got it.

For what it's worth I thought the sending off was correct. Komoany was beaten and Jelavic was through if he didn't get tugged.
   222. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 15, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4672036)
It's like City need an added "degree of difficulty" to start playing ...
   223. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 15, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4672044)
Won't happen but I'd love to see Boyd suspended for that dive. It was a blatant attempt to get a penalty and maybe another red to City so turn it around on him. It's not just the throwing himself to the ground. But then the raising if the hands bullshit that just needs to stop being rewarded.

It is ludicrous that FIFA won't use video evidence for retroactive punishment. Each game should be reviewed and bush league stuff like that needs to be hammered.
   224. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 15, 2014 at 11:03 AM (#4672056)
Won't happen but I'd love to see Boyd suspended for that dive. It was a blatant attempt to get a penalty and maybe another red to City so turn it around on him. It's not just the throwing himself to the ground. But then the raising if the hands ######## that just needs to stop being rewarded.


Well, it was certainly embellishment, but I don't think I'd so far as to call it a dive. So I wouldn't give him even a yellow. I'd give Hart a yellow, though, for a late tackle with clear contact ... and not with the ball. NO PENALTY, though, because the ball was already, clearly beyond play and just on the edge of completely out of it. I think Mason sorted it out more-or-less rightly (or at least justly, since I'm not sure what FA law says in these situations), all things considered ...
   225. frannyzoo Posted: March 15, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4672062)
Gladbach up 0-2 at Dortmund (HT). I'm certain the Franny Kiss o' Death will make it about 5-2 BVB by full time.
   226. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 15, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4672075)
This Sunderland - Palace match is terrible, but it has a "train wreck" appeal. This is really a bad slate of games today in the Premier League.
   227. frannyzoo Posted: March 15, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4672077)
I like relegation six-pointers bunches, and bad play is to be expected. It's kinda like watching "Plan Nine From Outer Space," another one of my favorites.

And Norwich might be "Plan Nine" here...that Fulham lead has me even more worried.
   228. madvillain Posted: March 15, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4672081)

This Sunderland - Palace match is terrible, but it has a "train wreck" appeal. This is really a bad slate of games today in the Premier League.


Yep, it's awful. If you told me it was MLS I'd believe you.
   229. frannyzoo Posted: March 15, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4672144)
Drogba and Co. for an encore would be delightful, but I'll take my Jose schadenfreude as I can get it. Chelsea '14 sure do make it easy to root for City, or 'Pool, or whomever. Good times today.
   230. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 15, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4672159)

Well, it was certainly embellishment, but I don't think I'd so far as to call it a dive. So I wouldn't give him even a yellow. I'd give Hart a yellow, though, for a late tackle with clear contact ... and not with the ball.


I didn't see any contact, unless there was some contact after Boyd intentionally threw himself to the ground. The stupid thing is that, with where Hart's leg was, if Boyd just continued his run as normal, he would have actually been tripped.
   231. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 15, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4672196)
Seattle v TFC has been surprisingly entertaining.
   232. Spivey Posted: March 15, 2014 at 06:41 PM (#4672200)
How many years are we away from the MLS being a league on the caliber of the Portugal or Dutch top leagues? Ever?
   233. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 15, 2014 at 07:25 PM (#4672202)
How many years are we away from the MLS being a league on the caliber of the Portugal or Dutch top leagues? Ever?


I think 'ever' is a bit long. But it really comes down to money and structure. If the money in the league keeps growing, the wages will keep growing, which will allow them to bring in better and better talent, eventually, hopefully, that means top-tier talent that isn't past its prime. Eventually, though, I think the structure has to change if the league is ever going to challenge for a place among the elite, because the stifling nature of the league-owned, salary-caped structure will keep it from competing with the top-flight leagues in Europe (or around the world).
   234. Spivey Posted: March 15, 2014 at 09:29 PM (#4672235)
That Chelsea loss opened the league right up. Not just for city, but for Arsenal and Liverpool as well. There are some big games tomorrow.
   235. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 16, 2014 at 10:09 AM (#4672310)
Well - Rafael should be off. United still look like crap. Defense still vulnerable and going forward they look punchless.

If the official thought that was an elbow (Gerrard led with an elbow but seemed to make contact with his shoulder) shouldn't he be off too?
   236. Swedish Chef Posted: March 16, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4672342)
I don't know what is the best thing about winning against Chelsea, the sweet, sweet points or working up Mourinho into a lather like that.
   237. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 16, 2014 at 12:02 PM (#4672350)
That's about right. At least Spurs were kind enough to dash any hopes only a minute after the game started.
   238. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 16, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4672360)
Typical Spurs half. Generically 'good', but they didn't score, gave up a goal, and gave up the best chance of the half (the Oxlade-Chamberlain miss).
   239. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 16, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4672365)
Wow Chesney gets bailed out twice.
   240. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 16, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4672366)
So Spursy it's unreal.
   241. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 16, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4672381)
When is the last time there was a legit four team race for the title? It's really amazing but the way this season is playing out I wouldn't be shocked by any of the top four winning the title at this point.
   242. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 16, 2014 at 01:58 PM (#4672389)
Some of this is sour grapes, but I'd be very shocked if Arsenal won the title.
   243. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 16, 2014 at 09:50 PM (#4672581)
Of all this season's drubbings, I think MUFC 0 - LFC 3 might just be my favorite. I can't remember LFC conceding any clear-cut chances (Opta had MUFC with one). That Rodgers has both Allen and Flannagan playing key roles is pretty amazing.

Pretty seismic change in the title odds this weekend, too -- both MCofA and the bookies now have LFC at about 25-30% to win the league.
   244. Spivey Posted: March 16, 2014 at 11:25 PM (#4672612)
I think Aguero getting hurt changed the complexion of the league - I thought Man City was the clear favorite with him healthy and in form. Right now Liverpool seems to be the most exciting team, and because of how insanely good their offense and Suarez are. But I still worry about their central defense including midfield. They're who I'm rooting for, with Arsenal second.
   245. J. Sosa Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:39 AM (#4672622)
It has been a really odd, unexpected, and thrilling season Keith. Perhaps the strangest aspect of the whole thing has been the change in press coverage. LFC were perhaps the butt of the most jokes the last few seasons. Carroll, the Evra fiasco, the t shirt fiasco, Rodgers being Rodgers, the biting fiasco, etc. etc. but Liverpool have become the sentimental favorite. Journo types enjoy the style Liverpool play, enjoy the Gerrard going for the title in the twilight of his career angle, and as much as some of them might be reluctant to admit it, they like that a Northern Irishman is having success as a manager at a big domestic club. There were a lot of eyes being rolled (including mine) when Rodgers would go on one of his "you educate players, you train a dog" monologues, but credit to him. The man has turned the likes of Jordan Henderson (JORDAN HENDERSON!) into a back heeling, chip passing, all around excellent midfielder. Jordan Henderson!

Now Man U and Moyes are the butt of the most jokes. The turnaround in terms of the points gap between Man U and Liverpool in one season has been astounding. As for my favorite win this season, the Spurs road win remains number one to me. That was the first time I allowed myself in my heart to think LFC were for real. I would place the Arsenal win second just for for the sheer level LFC played at those first twenty minutes. If you listen to the commentary, histrionics aside, the announcers were genuinely astounded at what they were seeing.

As for LFC winning the title, it won't happen. But Gerrard can smell it, you can see it on his face. I thought he was going to collapse after that first pen. He can absolutely smell it, and he's quit trying to make himself be rational. You can see it, and it is gripping to watch. There are a lot of things I like about sports, but perhaps my favorite narrative is a veteran athlete turning back the clock to go for the brass ring one last time. I don't even follow the NBA any more, but I was crushed when Duncan lost game six last year and ultimately the finals. It's that kind of thing that keeps me interested in sports.
   246. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 17, 2014 at 08:49 AM (#4672660)
I think City and Chelsea are still the favorites. I don't think Liverpool can sustain this - although not being in any other competitions helps immensely. Schedules will play an important part. I don't know how many games they have left with each other. Liverpool are able to beat bad and mediocre teams but will struggle against the good ones, but that is one way to a title.

United's season is over (well its been over but that was some extra nails put into the coffin). I hope the Glazers grow a set and kick Moyes' ass to the curb. I would not trust that man with 100M pounds to spend on players. Qualifying for Europe wouldn't be the worst thing. Hopefully the manager would use it to play young players.
   247. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 17, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4672668)
I think Liverpool has a better than punchers chance at the title. I don't think they're favorites, City have to be that from where I'm standing, and if not them Chelsea. But they do have a real shot. It'd probably require not screwing up any of the easier matches and taking at least four points from City/Chelsea, but it's possible. I think Liverpool may have the easiest remaining schedule. They've got Chelsea and Man City, but those are both home games. They have Tottenham at home, and Newcastle as well. But I don't know that any of the other three's schedules look any better- at least Liverpool is home for their toughest opponents.

Quickly compiled, and possibly erroneous, schedules for the 4 title contenders below. I'm pretty sure I'm missing a City match.

Liverpool
Mar 22: @Cardiff
Mar 26: Sunderland
Mar 30: Tottenham
Apr 6: @West Ham
Apr 13: Man City
Apr 20: @Norwich
Apr 27: Chelsea
May 3: @Palace
May 11: Newcastle

Chelsea
Mar 22: Arsenal
Mar 29: @Crystal Palace
Apr 5: Stoke
Apr 13: @Swans
Apr 20: Sunderland
Apr 27: @Liverpool
May 3: Norwich
May 11: @Cardiff

Man City
Mar 22: Fulham
Mar 25: @ManU
Mar 29: @Arsenal
Apr 5: Southampton
Apr 13: @Liverpool
April 21: West Brom
Apr 27: @Crystal Palace
May 3: @Everton
May 11: @West Ham
???: Aston Villa
???

Arsenal
Mar 22: @Chelsea
Mar 25: Swans
Mar 29: Man City
Apr 6: Everton
Apr 19: @Hull
Apr 28: Newcastle
May 3: West Brom
May 11: @Norwich
???: West Ham
   248. J. Sosa Posted: March 17, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4672705)
No, it is impossible for Liverpool to win the title Scott. Impossible. Will never happen. *

Stating the obvious here, but Liverpool need to be within striking distance for the City and Chelsea home matches. I was excited when Kompany got sent off but that was just like City took a hit of No Doz. Man U is going to get rolled by City. Basically I'm hoping for Arsenal to draw with Chelsea and City. The Aston Villa loss was huge for a lot of reasons for Chelsea. If LFC get to those two huge home matches within three points, all bets are off for me. At Anfield with the title within reach, I think the team blows the roof off of Anfield. But they have to get to that point first and it wouldn't hurt to start by putting 8 past Cardiff for a goal difference edge with City. But I'm afraid they will draw. Cardiff are dismal, but still.

*Was that convincing? I'm going for the Ray jinx. It has powers beyond any man's ken.
   249. Mefisto Posted: March 17, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4672710)
I was excited when Kompany got sent off


No doubt you're eagerly anticipating the suspension Sturridge gets for that disgraceful dive yesterday.
   250. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 17, 2014 at 10:55 AM (#4672717)
I think the comment asserting Liverpool struggle against the good teams deserves some nuance. You're essentially talking about a sample of four games, as their record against the non-Champions-League European contenders (Everton, MUFC, Spurs) is quite good. In those four games, the only one where they were comprehensively outplayed was at the Emirates. At City, Liverpool played well and on another day could have had a result. At Chelsea lies somewhere in the middle -- the result was about fair, although Howard Webb allowing Eto'o to kick Suarez up-and-down didn't help. Further, the City and Chelsea games were played four days apart with both Sturridge and Gerrard out due to injury.

Sosa - Rodgers' schtick is very easy to bag on when things aren't going well, particularly for opposing fans. He speaks in very romantic terms about Liverpool as an institution; he exposed himself big-time on Being Liverpool, including the big portrait of himself hanging in his home. Further, he didn't come in with that foreign aura like AVB -- you need not project with Rodgers, as he's willing to open his mouth so much. Strangely enough, Rodgers' tactical nous seems to be a bit understated -- he started the season with three-at-the-back and a "get one goal and sit on it" attitude. Upon Suarez' return, they seemingly transitioned to the team that creates chances and scores goals for fun. The second half at S'Ampton and the United game have been a nice middle ground -- fewer chances created but more solidity at the back.
   251. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4672722)
Players dive, film at 11:00. When you see Fellaini kick the crap out of Suarez not once but twice on the same dribble in the box, with a result of Clattenburg staring blankly at Suarez, you can understand why players are wont to exaggerate contact (or lack thereof in Sturridge's case - although Vidic's tackle attempt was terribly mistimed).
   252. jmurph Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4672723)
City have to technically be the favorites, with the 3 games in hand, but I think I'd prefer to be in Chelsea's shoes. That run-in is much easier, minus the Liverpool match (I expect Chelsea to handle Arsenal pretty comfortably). City will be up for United, Arsenal, and Liverpool, but at this point I'm tired of watching them need a kick in the arse to get going against the bottom half teams. I half wish they would start a man down in all of those games, given how well they played once Kompany got sent off.

And it's also worth noting that City continues to have a striker problem, which is amazing considering the resources they've devoted to the position. Negredo is hurt/in a rut, Aguero can't stay on the field for more than a month at a time, and Dzeko needs roughly infinity chances to convert one goal.
   253. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4672729)
I don't see any reason Liverpool can't take it all. Maybe they're flawed relative to recent EPL champs, but for this season they seem no more flawed than Chelsea or Man City. I'd like to see a Daniel Sturridge goal on the last game of the season clinch it for them. Chelsea's casting off of Sturridge doesn't get as much criticism as their loaning out Lukaku for some reason but it's blown up on them just as spectacularly.

As for Spurs...they played well but not quite well enough. At least they didn't capitulate when they went down a goal this time. I thought Adebayor, in particular, played with as much drive as I've ever seen him. I was impressed by Naughton, too. He's playing much better now that he's been given a run of games at RB. He's a popular whipping boy for Spurs fans so I'm glad to see him proving he's a perfectly fine squad player for the club. It's actually kind of a relief now that the season is all over but the crying. I can just enjoy the unfolding of the PL season in general now.

Elsewhere in Shooty FC land...Torino is safely mid-table, Partick Thistle are currently safe and the worst they'll do is a playoff to stay in the SPL and SC Freibrug are currently in a relegation playoff spot but only one point away from safety. I think they'll make it.
   254. J. Sosa Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4672733)
I will be upfront in saying I thought Rodgers was a fool. But I can't argue with the man's player development skills. He has a big ego (see his comments regarding Moyes' situation which may have set a new standard for blowing one's horn) and that hasn't changed, but that's true of many high level coaches and players. I'm glad to have him. There are not many coaches I would rather have. That he annoys opposition fans is a bonus.

Mefisto as an ex defensive player this pains me to admit but in my dotage I've come to sympathize with offensive players a bit. If an opponent dived against me he could count on a gift later, but Suarez and Sturridge get kicked all over the pitch. Sturridge should have had a pen against Carrick and Suarez should have gone to ground earlier in the match. Its not good, but I can see why offensive players do it. I have very little sympathy for Vidic, he launched himself and put himself in a bad spot. Sturridge is a diver. Suarez's rep as a diver is overblown at this point, although he still does dive.

Scott, I have been meaning to ask. Do you consider yourself a Liverpool fan at this point? Keith and I have been going door to door and I would hate to think all our efforts were in vain. We had pamphlets printed and everything.
   255. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4672736)
That he annoys opposition fans is a bonus.

Does he annoy people? I think his schtick is hilarious. I guess he's gone from hilarious to annoying for a lot of opposing fans now that LFC are in the title hunt.
   256. jmurph Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4672739)
I'm a totally biased City fan, but I don't understand what the affirmative argument is for keeping Moyes after this season. "United don't fire managers after one year." Is that pretty much it?

Also, just to complete this round of concern trolling, at first I thought United would be in trouble when a Champions League team came calling for Van Persie this summer. But now I'm thinking they might be in trouble if someone doesn't come calling for him.
   257. Mefisto Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:42 AM (#4672761)
Mefisto as an ex defensive player this pains me to admit but in my dotage I've come to sympathize with offensive players a bit. If an opponent dived against me he could count on a gift later, but Suarez and Sturridge get kicked all over the pitch. Sturridge should have had a pen against Carrick and Suarez should have gone to ground earlier in the match. Its not good, but I can see why offensive players do it. I have very little sympathy for Vidic, he launched himself and put himself in a bad spot. Sturridge is a diver. Suarez's rep as a diver is overblown at this point, although he still does dive.


I'm the parent of a defender and I sympathize with the offense too after watching what she got away with. If I were a running the EPL, I'd tell the refs to call far more penalties than they do just to limit the crap that goes on in the box. I was just taking a little shot at your glee over Kompany. Anyway, United have no cause for complaint -- Vidic didn't deserve to be sent off, but Rafael did. Twice.
   258. J. Sosa Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4672765)
Its ok Mefisto, I knew where you were coming from. It is difficult to be a good defender and not be dirty. I mean, there is a reason they put me on defense in the first place right? If I were pacy and had mad dribbling skilz I wouldn't be at DM.

   259. J. Sosa Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4672771)
Shooty, I think that's about right. Rodgers was an easy target, but it isn't funny anymore to fans of teams like Man U. I found his comments about Moyes astounding and frankly Special One worthy.

Jmurph, I also don't really get an argument for keeping Moyes. I don't think they will fire him before next winter, but I can see a scenario where he steps down. With a gentle push or not, eh... RVP has looked a little cooked lately. I think you are right they would do well to dump him. As a fan of the opposition, I was actually happy at the Rooney extension. I think that was a commercially driven move rather than a football move. Also, fair play to a lot of the Man U fans I've run across on various boards. Many of them are level headed people and have shown an admirable ability to laugh at their own foibles. There was one guy on red cafe that posted a pic of Rodgers and Moyes that made me laugh. There are the usual internet nutters, but for the most part I think the way Man U's fan base has handled Moyes' struggles has been admirable.
   260. Mefisto Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4672775)
It is difficult to be a good defender and not be dirty. I mean, there is a reason they put me on defense in the first place right? If I were pacy and had mad dribbling skilz I wouldn't be at DM.


Heh. My daughter was a world class actor. I can't tell you how many times she committed the foul but got it called the other way because she made it look so good.
   261. J. Sosa Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4672780)
Oh, there are lots of them. I always get a laugh out of the Kolo low bridge on corners. I couldn't jump, so that was in the bag. Stamping, shirt pulling, barging. I was also good at that move Rodman used to do where he would make it look like he was getting fouled but he was really clamping the other player.

All defenders are going to hell, let's be honest.
   262. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4672782)
Jan Vertonghen is a master of the dark arts on defense. If he weren't Tottenham, I'd probably hate him.
   263. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4672785)
Players dive, film at 11:00. When you see Fellaini kick the crap out of Suarez not once but twice on the same dribble in the box, with a result of Clattenburg staring blankly at Suarez, you can understand why players are wont to exaggerate contact

Eh. The reason Suarez no longer gets many calls that he would actually deserve to get, is precisely because he has a long and distinguished history of diving (and other douchebaggery). Refs don't like looking like fools after the game, when everyone can see them give a pen for an obvious dive. So they are giving defenders against Suarez all the benefit of doubt, if they aren't sure.
   264. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4672786)
Isn't Rodgers the argument for keeping Moyes? Bit if a rough first year but hope that it will improve as time goes on? (Not to mention SAF's history).

Having said that I'd lose Moyes in a heartbeat. The thing that strikes me is that United week to be regressing more than anything else. There is no aspect of the game where you look at United and say "yeah, I see it coming together now" and I think you could do that last year with Rodgers/Liverpool and back in he day with Fergie/United (FA Cup).
   265. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4672791)
I don't disagree with that. I'm just highlighting the fact that there's not much benefit to fighting through a tackle and staying on your feet when you either receive or anticipate contact, save for things like pride and dignity. I can't recall seeing a ref award a penalty to a player who stayed on his feet despite a mistimed tackle.

RE: 264, I don't think the situations are comparable. Even during the first half of last season, Rodgers had LFC playing reasonably well. Not sure if MCofA has the metrics to back that up, but I remember LFC playing very well against both City and United and only coming away with one point. Further, as Sosa has pointed out, the team changed pretty dramatically once Sturridge and Coutinho were brought in.

There's also no comparison between the strength of the squads. United yesterday had Mata, RVP and Rooney up top with Fellaini and Carrick in the midfield. These are international players. Rodgers, OTOH, was using Joe Cole as an impact option in the first half of last season, such was the sorry state of LFC's squad.
   266. J. Sosa Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4672794)
Jose LFC fans generally compare Moyes to Hodgson. Sad to say, I think that is about right. If you compare sound bites from Hodgson (everton, wolves) to Moyes (lfc, fulham) it is kind of jarring.

Edit to add: yes I hate Verts. I'd also drive him to Melwood in a heart beat.
   267. jmurph Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4672810)
It just occurred to me that I really should have waited until after the 2nd Manchester derby before all of this foolish trash talk about United. Oops.

To Jose's point: Rodgers was there to clean up for Hodgson/Daglish, so it was easier to make the case that he deserved more time. Moyes needed to maintain what was already in place, albeit with some amount of backsliding being understandable. Instead he looks helpless.
   268. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 17, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4672822)
I do consider myself a Liverpool fan, though I'm a bit embarrassed that they've returned to such form in the very first season I've followed closely. They're a blast to watch, and I'm a happy bandwagoneer.
   269. J. Sosa Posted: March 17, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4672847)
Excellent!

I believe we can now turn our efforts to Spivey (leans Fulham correct?). With Fulham going down you will need a secondary club for next season. We are fresh out of pamphlets at the mo, but can add you to the spammer.
   270. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 17, 2014 at 02:01 PM (#4672883)
As a fan of the opposition, I was actually happy at the Rooney extension. I think that was a commercially driven move rather than a football move.

Yea, RVP is a better goal scorer than Rooney. Mata and a Dortmund-era Kagawa are both better central playmakers than Rooney, but Moyes and United have made the commitment to Rooney and are stuck with him. Is it bad mojo to say that I'm hoping for an ugly loss to Olympiacos to seal his fate? There is no way this United team is pulling a Chelsea and winning Champions League.
   271. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 17, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4672932)
I'd rather have Liverpool win the title than Man City, Chelsea, or Arsenal. Does that make me an honorary fan until the end of the season?
   272. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 17, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4672943)
I'd rather have Liverpool win the title than Man City, Chelsea, or Arsenal. Does that make me an honorary fan until the end of the season?

I think they're definitely the neutrals' choice, no? Just to have a new champion if nothing else. Suarez is a chump, but all of the top teams have chumps on them so what can you do? Plus I can't wait to see the Brendan Rodgers version of this.
   273. J. Sosa Posted: March 17, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4672993)
Absolutely Biff!

As for the Stalinesque tifo banners of past LFC managers, I have to admit, despite the creepiness factor I get chills when they do that.

On a side note, the Liverpool Legends of the boot room aren't a very photogenic lot are they? I've always thought Rodgers' mug fit right in with the likes of Paisley.
   274. ursus arctos Posted: March 17, 2014 at 06:24 PM (#4673072)
An old BTF favorite is back in the news.

A senior Fifa official and his family were paid almost $2?million from a Qatari firm linked to the country’s successful bid for the 2022 World Cup, The Telegraph discloses.

Jack Warner, the former vice-president of Fifa, appears to have been personally paid $1.2?million (£720,000) from a company controlled by a former Qatari football official shortly after the decision to award the country the tournament.
Payments totalling almost $750,000 were made to Mr Warner’s sons, documents show. A further $400,000 was paid to one of his employees.

It is understood that the FBI is now investigating Trinidad-based Mr Warner and his alleged links to the Qatari bid, and that the former Fifa official’s eldest son, who lives in Miami, has been helping the inquiry as a co-operating witness.
   275. frannyzoo Posted: March 17, 2014 at 08:16 PM (#4673111)
So what's Tipping Point on the Qatari bid for 2022? How obvious and egregious does this sham have to be before some entity calls Bullsh*t on the whole enterprise?

Yeah, it's a rhetorical question. We all know the answer is that there is zero Tipping Point. None. A paper trail of payoffs and free hookers from the Al Jazeera studios all the way to Sepp Blatter's "Dr. No" island fortress wouldn't mean squat. Dr. Jack and some other hoodlums might face time, at worst, but the rest of us are stuck with Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022. I'd kinda feel better about it if I got a decent cut from the deal myself. $100k and I'd shut up about it, no question.
   276. ursus arctos Posted: March 17, 2014 at 09:31 PM (#4673126)
If major sponsors and/or television companies refuse to play ball over the shift to the winter and/or torrent of sleaze, they will move the tournament.

Short of that, I don't see it happening. There has to be a direct and material financial hit to FIFA and its constituent federations.
   277. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 18, 2014 at 01:49 AM (#4673165)
What makes it even more hilarious/infuriating is that they disguised some of the bribes as payments for help defending Bin Hammam against bribery allegations.
   278. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 18, 2014 at 04:06 AM (#4673173)
I believe we can now turn our efforts to Spivey (leans Fulham correct?). With Fulham going down you will need a secondary club for next season. We are fresh out of pamphlets at the mo, but can add you to the spammer.


Since neither Sheffield Wednesday or Blackpool (the teams I follow) are in the PL, I'm rooting for Liverpool to win the title, too. I love their attacking style, and my cousin in Blackpool is a huge Liverpool supporter, so I'd like to see her team win the League. So count me in on the bandwagon...
   279. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 18, 2014 at 05:03 AM (#4673174)
Suarez is a chump


Suarez is such an awful person, but that creep can roll. I can't help but like his play, even while I realize that I shouldn't like him at all. And it's not just a Barry Bonds style "he's a jerk, and he's almost certainly cheating" minor abrasive personality stuff, it's in your face racism.
   280. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 18, 2014 at 07:49 AM (#4673183)
I don't think they can take the Cup away from Qatar because it would expose all the corruption in FIFA. I just find it sad that the thousand dead workers hasn't been enough yet. The whole thing is beyond criminal and makes me depressed about our species at this point. Who in good conscience can be involved in that tournament at all at this point? I am 100% in favor of Gulati pulling the US out of the 2022 Cup right now. We can just host a tourney of friendlies with whatever other countries don't go/don't qualify. I realize this will never happen.

If major sponsors and/or television companies refuse to play ball over the shift to the winter and/or torrent of sleaze, they will move the tournament.

They've already started signing up for the 2022 Cup. Relying on the likes of Adidas, Visa, InBev and so on to give a fuck about anything but "growing the brand" is sucker's game. Again, if slave labor and hundred of dead immigrant workers doesn't make a ripple, envelopes full of money won't either.
   281. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 18, 2014 at 10:09 AM (#4673243)
I've already decided I'm going to skip (as in, completely ignore) the 2022 World Cup if it isn't moved and not just the Cup itself, but the entire cycle, including all USMNT qualifiers.

Frankly, I'm not certain that won't happen at this point with the 2018 Cup.
   282. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 18, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4673245)
I've already decided I'm going to skip (as in, completely ignore) the 2022 World Cup if it isn't moved and not just the Cup itself, but the entire cycle, including all USMNT qualifiers.

It's going to be hard, but I will as well. Naturally, we'll have a world class team by then...
   283. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 18, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4673277)
"Club sources" telling ESPN FC that the prospect of Moyes being sacked have been "properly raised for the first time" and that "key Manchester United boardroom figures" have now turned against Moyes.
   284. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 18, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4673280)
"Club sources" telling ESPN FC that the prospect of Moyes being sacked have been "properly raised for the first time" and that "key Manchester United boardroom figures" have now turned against Moyes.

uh oh. The horde of Glazers is getting restless...I'm torn since if Moyes gets sacked they might hire van Gaal before Spurs can. I honestly can't tell if that's a blessing or a curse.
   285. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 18, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4673285)
Heh, that's raised in the last paragraph of the article ...
   286. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 18, 2014 at 11:07 AM (#4673289)
Van Gaal would be fun in the British media. All the arrogance of Mourinho but without the funny quotes. They'll have the knives out for him by the end of August.
   287. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 18, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4673415)
Do the Glazers run it by SAF, or do you think at this point, he sees Moyes as hopeless too?
   288. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 18, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4673425)
Background on Spalletti's sacking

This account doesn't make me want him managing Spurs.
   289. Baldrick Posted: March 18, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4673530)
Chelsea already have a goal. Bleh. Of all the English teams, they're the ones I least wanted to see advance, and they'll likely be the only one that does.

Here's hoping they get Bayern in the quarterfinals.
   290. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 18, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4673594)
Klinsmann tweet: "We are absolutely thrilled that Julian Green has chosen to be a part of the U.S. National Team Programs!"
   291. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 18, 2014 at 07:10 PM (#4673638)
So what happens if Chelsea goes all the way in the CL (shudder) and finishes top 4 in the PL? Does everyone underneath their PL spot move up 1 (in terms of CL qualification)? Would 5th become 4th?
   292. Baldrick Posted: March 18, 2014 at 07:20 PM (#4673640)
So what happens if Chelsea goes all the way in the CL (shudder) and finishes top 4 in the PL? Does everyone underneath their PL spot move up 1 (in terms of CL qualification)? Would 5th become 4th?

Nope. It has very little effect. The only thing it does is free up a spot to directly enter the group stages, which will save one team from needing to play in the final qualifying round. I think this year Copenhagen were the beneficiaries of that rule.

I believe that in 2015-2016 they're changing the Europa League to give the winners automatic qualification for the Champions League the following year - which will make it possible for 5 teams from one country to reach. But as of right now the limit is 4.
   293. JuanGone..except1game Posted: March 18, 2014 at 09:34 PM (#4673670)
Would Spurs consider Mancini? He looked absolutely miserable (he almost always does) on the touchline today vs Chelsea and the rumor is that he wants to come back to England. He's not one of the very top managers in the world, but you could do far worse than him.

Loved the reception that Drogba got. He was such an amazing servant of the club and an absolute class human being. One of the few top players on any of my teams who always made me feel good about supporting him at my club (I'm looking at you and your father, JT).
   294. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 19, 2014 at 07:52 AM (#4673746)
Klinsmann tweet: "We are absolutely thrilled that Julian Green has chosen to be a part of the U.S. National Team Programs!"


This seems like a big get. From what little I've read Green's already played some CL games for Bayern.
   295. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 19, 2014 at 08:39 AM (#4673774)
This seems like a big get.

I think it definitely is. With Green and Johannson we could have quite a pair of forward for 2018, not to mention Jozy should still be in his prime and hopefully Stoke can develop Agudelo. We might even be able to dabble in a 4-3-3 with Jozy or Agudelo up top flanked by Johannson and Green.

Would Spurs consider Mancini?

Ick. I hope not.
   296. ursus arctos Posted: March 19, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4673886)
He's definitely promising, but let's not get carried away with what he has done.

Green's entire "career" with Bayern's first team consists of two minutes as a sub against CSKA in a dead Champions League fixture. He has, on the other hand, scored pretty regularly for Bayern's reserve team.
   297. J. Sosa Posted: March 19, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4673906)
Spurs in for Pochettino? If true, that would be a great hire. I had been hoping for LVG for the comedic value. They need to hire a guy like Pochettino and stick with him. I'd assume he would get the best out of a guy like Lamela as well. So, here's to hoping it doesn't happen.

Overall I'd have to say I'm pretty happy with Klinsmann. My Outlaws brethren are losing their !@#$ about Green, but I agree it is too early to get super excited.

That said, my initial reaction (and current feelings) to be honest are JULIAN !@#$%^& GREEN! U-S-A U-S-A U-S-A!!!
   298. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 19, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4673912)
Spurs in for Pochettino?

Rumors...just rumors...I'm starting to think LVG ends up at United, though. He's available and he has the pedigree for the job. The one name that is intriguing but hasn't been mentioned in conjunction with Spurs is Bielsa. If we can't be the champs maybe we can be the hipsters' favorite team!
   299. DA Baracus Posted: March 19, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4673937)
Steve Cherundolo is retiring.
   300. ursus arctos Posted: March 19, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4673939)
Mancini is reportedly on 14 million euros a year at Galatasaray. No way that Tottenham is going to shell out that kind of money for a manager.
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