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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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   801. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4685336)
My oh my oh my!

Wow.

Just wow.
   802. jmurph Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4685337)
I want a ####### gambling inquiry on Kompany. This is the worst performance I've ever seen.
   803. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4685338)
WAHOOO!

3-2! COME ON YOU REDS!
   804. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4685339)
UnFUCKINGreal.

What a half.
   805. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4685340)
Goalkeeping question: Was Hart a little flat-footed there? There was only one place Coutinho could put that and Hart seemed glued to his spot in the middle of the goal instead of cheating to the side Coutinho had to shoot for.

Also, alas Vincent Kompany, alas... Crazy game!
   806. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4685341)
I want a ####### gambling inquiry on Kompany. This is the worst performance I've ever seen.


I don't think Kompany could have ###### up that hard if he tried, but also full credit to Coutinho for an excellent finish.
   807. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4685342)
Coutinho has been pretty magnificent this half, but Sterling has vanished from the game.
   808. jmurph Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4685343)
It wasn't just that assist from Kompany, he's layed it off nicely for Liverpool a few other times, they just didn't convert.

Mignolet is the real match-winner, I think. He's been great.
   809. jmurph Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:27 AM (#4685344)
Mother of god, Kompany. Honestly.
   810. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4685345)
Straight red for Henderson. Ouch. He did go in studs up.
   811. I am going to be Frank Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4685346)
Wow straight red - even if it doesn't affect this game, Henderson missing a couple games and depending on Sturridge's injury its going to be a big deal.
   812. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4685347)
Two more ####### minutes of this?!
   813. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4685348)
Surely Henderson's red and the subsequent substitution took up at least a minute, yet that didn't get added on beyond the original 5.
   814. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4685349)
Wow straight red - even if it doesn't affect this game, Henderson missing a couple games and depending on Sturridge's injury its going to be a big deal.


Yeah, this one might be a little pyrrhic for Liverpool ...
   815. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:32 AM (#4685350)
Hah! I called it dead on! 3-2!
   816. jmurph Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4685352)
That one is gonna sting for a while. Full 90 from Aguerro and Yaya would have been huge. Dzeko maybe playing like a professional athlete. Kompany remembering which team he played for. Etc.
   817. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:38 AM (#4685353)
Great match ... that one's going in the keep file.
   818. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4685362)
Ugh.

####### Chelsea.

You just can't give a 2nd Yellow on that play.

Brutal decision.
   819. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4685366)
WHAT A RESPONSE FROM SHEFFIELD UNITED!!!
   820. I am going to be Frank Posted: April 13, 2014 at 12:14 PM (#4685373)
Hull ties it up. I forgot this was on TV (Fox Sports 1).
   821. frannyzoo Posted: April 13, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4685376)
I know it was Championship level slo-mo compared to EPL brilliance, but Huddlestone looked very good there. Wonder if Spurs might like to have him back.
   822. I am going to be Frank Posted: April 13, 2014 at 12:35 PM (#4685379)
Chelsea goes up. Looks like its Hull-Arsenal in the final. I believe Bruce was the manager when Birmingham beat Arsenal in that League Cup final.
   823. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4685382)
BAh for Chelski.

Swansea deserved at least a point for the dreadful decision to send Flores off.

Ugh.
   824. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4685392)
See [823].
   825. JuanGone..except1game Posted: April 13, 2014 at 01:21 PM (#4685404)
It was a pretty poor decision to send of Flores. Another game where the lack of a class striker shows, as the finishing was just poor throughout. Good results for Chelsea overall. That match at Anfield should be fun.
   826. ursus arctos Posted: April 14, 2014 at 11:19 PM (#4686293)
NYCFC to play in Yankee Stadium for three years.

I dislike it for baseball, but is materially worse for soccer. This will hurt the club's development.
   827. zack Posted: April 14, 2014 at 11:43 PM (#4686303)
What were the realistic alternatives?

Also, I'm confused, NYCFC is unrelated to the USL team FC NY, right? And there is also a NASL Cosmos team that was trying to get into MLS that is now playing on LI?
   828. I am going to be Frank Posted: April 15, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4686361)
Even as a Yankee fan I despise Yankee stadium. MLS season overlaps MLB season a lot. I guess the only alternatives would be where Fordham or Columbia (which is named after Robert Kraft) football fields. Randalls Island maybe? This seems like such poor planning. I could understand a year or so, but three whole seasons?
   829. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 15, 2014 at 10:57 AM (#4686386)
The rumors of Man U or Tottenham going after Klopp have begun. Man, the Tottenham manager rumors are already creeping up on Modric and Bale levels of tiresome. I have no idea why Klopp would go to Spurs and I think Moyes gets another year at Man U.

As for NYS...I'm surprised Mansour doesn't just buy the Yankees, rename the stadium after NYCFC and then take on the Yankees as a tenant.
   830. Flynn Posted: April 15, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4686390)
Icahn Stadium would seem to be the best idea of a bad lot.
   831. Swedish Chef Posted: April 15, 2014 at 06:40 PM (#4686593)
Berlusconi has been sentenced to a year's community service. That community better lock up their daughters.
   832. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:48 AM (#4686760)
30 for 30?

i'm not a soccer fan and i knew nothing about hillsborough before the film was announced. i heard it was supposed to be good, so i skimmed the wikipedia article a couple weeks ago.

i did not think it was great. it was interesting and it was watchable, but it was probably 30 minutes too long and i think the directors lack of objectivity hurt the end product. it did not seem like he challenged any of the people he interviewed on camera, and while i completely get why you wouldn't want to make survivors and surviving family members break down in hysterics reliving the worst moment of their lives on camera, that is kind of what a documentary is supposed to do.

also, i get that the coverup was a large part of the story, but it also carried on way too long.

also, (this is more of a question than a statement) while i can see why it might not matter whether the deceased were drunk, did anyone address whether the crowd behind them had been drinking? if the people who got to the stadium late and who were pushing their way into the pens (and thus into the crowd crushed at the front of them) were inebriated, that seems like a potential contributing factor that i don't think was addressed in the film.

also, since this was kind of a sports-documentary, maybe they could have done a minute or two on its continuing impact on stadiums and crowd management and emergency medical response, instead of just writing those things off at the end with a couple of sentences.
   833. Rob_Wood Posted: April 16, 2014 at 05:10 AM (#4686761)

I agree with those sentiments. But, it seems very clear, the government response (i.e. coverup) is the big story for English folks. To me here in the US (where this type of disaster is beyond belief) the big story was the disaster itself. Of course, I knew very little of the incident before the doc whereas everyone in England is very aware of it. So I put it down to being the wrong audience.
   834. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 16, 2014 at 06:50 AM (#4686764)
I found the 30 for 30 very interesting. I knew bare bones about it but some of the stuff that went on (like printing BAC of the 96 in the newspaper) was stunning to me. I wish they had given a but more time to the report of the independent panel at the end.
   835. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: April 16, 2014 at 07:01 AM (#4686765)
also, i get that the coverup was a large part of the story, but it also carried on way too long.
Weird sentence. I'm assuming that you mean they spent too much of the documentary covering it, but the reason it was such a big part of the story is that the cover up itself carried on for way, way too long.
   836. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 09:25 AM (#4686789)
I watched the 30 for 30, it was interesting. What happened was beyond belief, but I do think they could have done a better job setting up events leading to the tragedy. This is a sensitive topic, but those of you who were in the country at the time or even followed the sport at the time, how much do you think that Heysel and the ban from Europe influenced the coverage of Hillsborough? I felt that there was a rather glaring lack of focus on those two factors in the documentary. There were brief references to hooliganism in the feature, but I do not recall much attention given if any at all that the club was banned from Europe at the time due to fan hooliganism that led to the death of many Juventus fans. Basically, I get what Steagles is saying. The families suffered terribly and that was (as it should be) the central theme, but very little attention was given to why it was so easy for the authorities to hang the blame on the fans.

It is not really a question one can ask at RAWK or other Liverpool sites, but as outsiders does the lack of focus on Heysel in general strike people as odd? Hillsbourgh was horrendous, and the coverup made it even moreso, but Heysel was just as horrendous and Liverpool supporters were culpable. I've noticed Liverpool fans tend to be offended if this point is raised. I know friends and family died at Hillsborough, which makes it more personal for those involved, but as an outsider I find the lack of emphasis on Heysel kind of shameful. That's just my perspective as an outsider who came to club soccer late as a fan, that may be way off base, but it does strike me as really odd. Perhaps the Hillsborough coverup explains a lot of it, but I've never found that to be entirely sufficient to explain the disparity.
   837. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 16, 2014 at 09:33 AM (#4686798)
but as outsiders does the lack of focus on Heysel in general strike people as odd?

Yes and no. I understand WHY there's a lack of focus on it but I still find it odd. My guess is that Heysel doesn't fit into the mythos LFC has built around itself so I think it's an inconvenient truth for places like RAWK. A lot of clubs have a lot of dirty laundry from that time, Tottenham included. Spurs fan hooliganism in Europe is thought to be one of the factors that led to Bill Nicholson's retirement, as an example.
   838. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4686803)
I agree Shooty, to me it diminishes honoring the 96. The Heysel victims should be remembered too. I understand why it is uncomfortable, but Liverpool fans native to the city tend to get really angry if this is pointed out by rival fans. The 30 for 30 struck me as much too one sided. The fans involved were totally innocent, and outrage is warranted, but a person not familiar with the sport watching the film would be ignorant of the club's involvement with Heysel. That is a shame, as the Juventus fans never returned home to their friends or families either.
   839. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 09:48 AM (#4686809)
As for the Liverpool vs City match, that was a spectacle. I was thrilled with the win of course, and the scenes with Gerrard were incredible, but a part of me just couldn't help but think that they ultimately lost the title in that game. The club is being coy regarding Sturridge, but to me that isn't even the primary concern. I know what the club looks like without Sturridge. I don't know how much the club is going to miss Henderson. I'm not sure how Henderson's contributions can be measured, but in dabbling with pressing stats and watching his improvement with helping create offense, I'm going to go with an initial estimate of "a lot."

Hopefully Suarez can do what he does against Norwich and then it is all hands on deck against Chelsea. I know what the odds say, but my head says they are not going to be able to pull it off without Sturridge and Henderson. We will see.
   840. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 16, 2014 at 09:52 AM (#4686812)
The thing about including Heysel is that it puts more heat on the police and the planning. The fact that something so similar had happened just four years prior makes it jarring that the police seemed to be so unprepared. I thought the fact that the Chief of Police (Duckenfield, not sure of his actual title) had just taken the job a few weeks earlier because of a controversy and had never been involved with a game of this magnitude at Hillsborough before was stunning.
   841. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 09:57 AM (#4686817)
Agreed Jose. They included a bit on Spurs vs Wolverhampton in a similar circumstance at the ground but not Heysel. That is... I am not sure what the word is. Yes obviously the Spurs match was pertinent but might not one also want to include you know, the similar event involving LFC that led to dozens of actual deaths?
   842. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM (#4686819)
One of the cops talked about the meeting prior to the game where someone (might've been Duckenfield) said "right, we've planned for everything" and I found myself wondering "didn't anyone raise their hand and ask what happens if Heysel happens?"
   843. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4686826)
They included a bit on Spurs vs Wolverhampton in a similar circumstance at the ground

This is what really blows my mind. That place was a time bomb and they just ignored it.
   844. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: April 16, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4686828)
Strangely enough, my impression is that the Heysel tragedy didn't even get a lot of coverage in Italy (relative to the magnitude of the event). That's at least what I got from reading John Foot's chapters on the subject. Anecdotally, it seems I hear a lot more about the tragedy at Superga than Heysel.
   845. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 16, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4686832)
it seems I hear a lot more about the tragedy at Superga

We recently had an IT consultant here in my office who was from Italy and a big Juventus fan. He made sure to let me know about the chants Juventini had to make fun of the Superga crash. Ah, Juventus. Never change! Anyway, maybe in Italy they figure the Juventus fans had it coming...

(Too soon?)
   846. Richard Posted: April 16, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4686877)
There is no doubt that what happened at Heysel influenced media coverage after Hillsborough, and the reaction of the police on the day, more pertinently.

English clubs were banned from Europe because of Heysel, hooliganism was on the wane but still existed, supporters were treated like cattle, and facilities were primitive. When there was a problem at a football ground, the supporters were always going to be blamed unless it was something like , say, the Bradford fire.

I was in Sheffield on the day of the disaster. I remember the news of what was happening spreading around the town centre. Everyone assumed it was a riot again - but it wasn't.
   847. DA Baracus Posted: April 16, 2014 at 11:44 AM (#4686906)
The 30 for 30 was excellent. Usually they're just okay. The only major criticism I had was they should have talked about Heysel early on to explain why blaming Liverpool fans was an easy scapegoat the police quickly pounced on.

also, i get that the coverup was a large part of the story, but it also carried on way too long.


The police not only covered up the death of 96 innocent people due to their incompetence, but smeared them in the media, and the government hand waved away anything to the contrary for over 20 years. It's a huge part of the story.

did anyone address whether the crowd behind them had been drinking?


Drunks weren't the problem. Massive overcrowding due to police negligence was.
   848. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 16, 2014 at 02:10 PM (#4687056)
I was in Sheffield on the day of the disaster. I remember the news of what was happening spreading around the town centre. Everyone assumed it was a riot again - but it wasn't.

That must have been a hell of a thing, Richard. Unfortunately, I can imagine just what kind of shock and disbelief you must have been surrounded by that day. It's a surreal experience when the unthinkable happens.
   849. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 16, 2014 at 02:24 PM (#4687071)
I don't know if there are any MLS fans here, but the league is officially announcing the expansion to Atlanta today. Team will play in 2017, share the new Falcons stadium, with the upper deck partitioned for a 31,000-seat stadium. The surface will be artificial.

I'm not optimistic that will work out well.
   850. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4687082)
Thanks for the response Richard. I can't imagine what that must have been like.
   851. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4687088)
The only thing worse than an artificial baseball diamond is an artificial pitch. I would like for the emphasis to be on soccer only stadia with natural pitches, but maybe the money isn't there.

I'm not a money guy, but I don't get MLS expansion if it means playing in Yankee stadium for several seasons or sharing an NFL stadium. I wasn't a fan of concrete multipurpose stadiums and this seems to be the modern version.
   852. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 16, 2014 at 02:52 PM (#4687100)
I think MLS is expanding to take advantage of what should be a World Cup bounce. The league has ebbed and flowed over the years but seems to have found a pretty good equilibrium at this point.

I'm not any kind of a soccer purist so I can tolerate the artificial turf. It's not my favorite thing but it creates a different game and I like the concept that the home team might benefit. The big gigantic football stadium (see: New England Revolution) is just a lousy idea though. The problem is I think MLS doesn't want to be playing at some 25,000 seat division 2 college stadium, they want the cache of playing in the Georgia Dome. The Revs have the worst atmosphere in the league for a reason (well, a couple of reasons if you include recent performance).
   853. I am going to be Frank Posted: April 16, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4687118)
The football (NFL) stadium works fine if you have a big enough crowd. Unfortunately, right now only Seattle justifies that.

Not a fan of the artificial turf but the economics have to dictate it. If a community (or even rarer, an owner) builds a stadium then they need to use it as much as possible to recoup the costs. Keeping a pristine natural surface is very difficult in cold-weather states and its just not feasible in a dome over the course of a whole season.

Just a reminder to everyone that the El Clasico Copa Del Rey final is on 3:30 on ESPN. I may try to watch a bit on my phone, but have it recording. No Ronaldo, so this may be the Bale show if Madrid goes down early.
   854. jmurph Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4687208)
#### #### ####. City. Unbelievable.
   855. Swedish Chef Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4687213)
Is Pulis the greatest manager ever or what? Bet Barcelona is kicking themselves that they didn't take my advice and hire him last summer.

A draw won't help neither City nor Sunderland. It's a perfect result.
   856. Swedish Chef Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:29 PM (#4687217)
Bad, bad Wickham!
   857. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4687223)
Bad for Everton today too.
   858. jmurph Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4687225)
Well, congrats to, let's say... Chelsea. Good lord.
   859. jmurph Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4687228)
Oh, how adorable, City remembered they're playing a #### team now that it's too late to salvage their season.
   860. DA Baracus Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4687234)
I don't know if there are any MLS fans here, but the league is officially announcing the expansion to Atlanta today.


Really looking forward to Arthur Blank being Bob Kraft 2.0.

Way to #### the bed Everton.
   861. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:46 PM (#4687240)
Mourinho is going to win this isn't he?
   862. Swedish Chef Posted: April 16, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4687243)
Mourinho is going to win this isn't he?

Of course he is. How could it possibly go any other way?
   863. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: April 16, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4687264)
Dortmund v. Bayern in the German Cup finals, because of course. I haven't caught Dortmund's semifinal win against Wolfsburg (yet), but they had a nice little run last week, beating arguably the two best teams in the world by a combined 5-0. And Lewandowski didn't even play for most of the match against Bayern.
   864. JuanGone..except1game Posted: April 16, 2014 at 05:32 PM (#4687287)
#### #### ####. City. Unbelievable.

Just saw the score. Looks like Chelsea holds its fate in its hands again, though I have serious doubts about winning out. That game at Anfield just got that much more intense.

Always a fan of Connor Wickham in FM. He's always a good option for a young 3rd striker.
   865. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 16, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4687293)
Hahahaha @ City. I feel really bad for Everton, though.
   866. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4687304)
Bale is an android.
   867. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4687307)
Yeah, Mark it appears rumors of Dortmund's demise were greatly exaggerated. Given all the injuries they have had I think it has been a pretty remarkable season for them.

edit to add: Yeah, Chef, I've had that feeling for awhile especially since Henderson got the red and Chelsea survived Swansea.
   868. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: April 16, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4687310)
I was tempted last night to hedge my emotions and throw some cash on Chelsea. I still might do so, but I couldn't go through with it as of yesterday.

The big thing with today's result is LFC can now drop points in one of the three non-Chelsea games and still win the league. Argh -- four games left? If the White Sox' 2005 run took a few years off my life, this run will almost certainly drop me below 75 in life expectancy.
   869. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 16, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4687314)
Mark--

For what it's worth, Dortmund's underlying stats have been elite all season, basically on the same level as the best sides in Europe (Bayern, Barca, Real and Atletico). I wrote a piece on Dortmund about two months ago. They deserved to go through against Real, I thought. They converted just 2/7 big chances between the two legs.
   870. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 06:03 PM (#4687318)
At this point I have no idea what to expect. Norwich should be a win, but who thought Sunderland would take two points off of City on the road. The Chelsea game petrifies me. I keep having visions of Webb getting that match again and shaking his finger sternly at Liverpool players as Suarez gets torn to pieces by Jose's hatchet men.

The Palace game I have down as a draw, I think they are going to drop points there. Newcastle, hey...

Nothing will ever top the 2004 Red Sox in terms of fan stress for me, but that Chelsea match is going to come fairly close if both clubs win this weekend.

edit to add: It always seemed like Liverpool struggled mightily against Pulis. I was curious and looked it up, as best I can tell they lost 3 drew 5 and won 4 against him. Playing Palace at Selhurst Park against Pulis is going to be no joke.
   871. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: April 16, 2014 at 06:40 PM (#4687351)
For what it's worth, Dortmund's underlying stats have been elite all season, basically on the same level as the best sides in Europe (Bayern, Barca, Real and Atletico). I wrote a piece on Dortmund about two months ago. They deserved to go through against Real, I thought. They converted just 2/7 big chances between the two legs.


I've read the piece. Thanks for posting it, it's very good.

Not capitalizing on quality scoring chances has been Dortmund's problem all season (that, and the injuries of course); Mkhitaryan's been especially poor at finishing this year despite his otherwise fantastic play. Reus and Aubameyang have had similar issues at points during this season as well. I hate saying "well they're just unlucky" but I'm not sure what else I could attest it to.

Very concerned about losing Lewandowski this season. Of course he's basically irreplaceable, but they've signed Adrian Ramos who is a bit on the old side and doesn't really play Lewandowski's game. So it'll be interesting to see how he fits in with the team.

Also interesting to see what happens with Gundogan in the off-season. IIRC his contract is up in 2015. Would a team spend big transfer bucks on a guy who basically hasn't played soccer in a year with a significant back injury? He was arguably Dortmund's best player last season but he's got some massive health issues.
   872. J. Sosa Posted: April 16, 2014 at 06:47 PM (#4687358)
It doesn't mean for sure he'll stay, but Gundogan signed:

Link

Zorc's comments were interesting.
   873. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 17, 2014 at 08:19 AM (#4687564)
So, I guess the question now is does Pellegrini keep his job? The rational answer is yes, but Man City are demanding 2 trophies a year and I think the League Cup only counts as a half of one. And, as usual, Arsenal keep their CL Qualification trophy. Very disappointed for Everton but, in the back of my mind, I admit to hoping that if Everton don't make CL Spurs might be able to poach Roberto Martinez. The rumor is Van Gaal is lined up but now he might back out as he thinks the Man U job will open up. I'm of two minds about Van Gaal, but I'm unequivocal about Martinez. Martinez will be in charge of Barcelona one day, of that I'm convinced.
   874. DA Baracus Posted: April 17, 2014 at 08:39 AM (#4687568)
Martinez isn't leaving Everton after one year for Spurs.
   875. jmurph Posted: April 17, 2014 at 08:48 AM (#4687572)
I can't imagine they fire Pellegrini, and I think their impatience is exaggerated. Since this ownership group has been in place they've had 3 managers, the first of which was a mediocrity that they inherited. In that time Liverpool have had 4 managers, Chelsea have had 7 (that is awesome), Spurs have had 3, Madrid have had 5, Barcelona have had 3, Bayern have had 4, and I'm not even going to bother with Italy. They're really not out of step with the other big clubs.
   876. jmurph Posted: April 17, 2014 at 08:59 AM (#4687578)
Two conflicting Arsenal thoughts:
1. I think more than any other team their lows are exaggerated in the media and elsewhere, so it's funny that they're on pace to safely finish in the top 4 yet again.
2. On the other hand, damn if Arsene Wenger isn't a PR genius for once again convincing people that finishing in 4th place is a great result for a team that should be competing for titles every year.
   877. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 17, 2014 at 09:04 AM (#4687581)
Martinez isn't leaving Everton after one year for Spurs.

Stranger things have happened. I do agree the odds are very low, but I'm a dreamer.

1. I think more than any other team their lows are exaggerated in the media and elsewhere, so it's funny that they're on pace to safely finish in the top 4 yet again.
2. On the other hand, damn if Arsene Wenger isn't a PR genius for once again convincing people that finishing in 4th place is a great result for a team that should be competing for titles every year.


Agreed on both points.
   878. Swedish Chef Posted: April 17, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4687685)
Stranger things have happened. I do agree the odds are very low, but I'm a dreamer.

I don't see why you would want a guy who can't handle Tony Pulis and his makeshift team.
   879. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 17, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4687697)
I don't see why you would want a guy who can't handle Tony Pulis and his makeshift team.

Heh. The only response I have for that is "Have you seen Tottenham this season?"
   880. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 17, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4688001)
If yall fancy something a little different this Easter Sunday, Paderborn is taking on Greuther Fürth in the 2. BL, in a game that could well decide the last automatic promotion spot. FCP currently in third, one point behind Fürth (who also have a decent edge in GD). Loser will likely face some serious pressure from Lautern for the relegation spot as well, so it's a big match.

Of course if my Paderborn actually somehow make the BL, they will be even odds for the fewest points of any team ever, but hey.
   881. Swedish Chef Posted: April 18, 2014 at 08:04 AM (#4688334)
Corrierre dello Sport says that Spurs is going to sign Allegri as the new manager and that its Baldini's idea.
   882. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 18, 2014 at 09:06 AM (#4688348)
The Allegri rumors are a weird one. Leeds fans are convinced he's going there which seems nuts on the face of it except that Allegri has ties to Leeds' new chairman through his time at Cagliari. Spurs ITK sources have heard nothing about Allegri and are still convinced plan A is Van Gaal and plan B is Pochettino. So I'm not saying Allegri isn't going to Spurs but this may be a case that a reporter found out Allegri is in London studying English and put two and two together. If Allegri is the man I can't complain too much. He has a decent pedigree and it was pretty clear he was in the middle of a power struggle at AC Milan between the director and Berlusconi's daughter. It was always going to be tough for him this year as a lame duck. He's not the sexy choice, but he's a functional one and that alone would be a big improvement. I imagine he would be a fine choice to try to rescue Erik Lamela from whatever dungeon he's in now.
   883. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 18, 2014 at 09:16 AM (#4688354)
Tim Howard signed a new 2 year deal at Everton. It's nice to see he's impressed Roberto Martinez and makes me all the more sad Everton are probably out of the CL places. Would have been fun to see Howard in the competition. Also, Aston Villa may or may not be for sale. What's the consensus here about Lambert? Good job or poor job? I think he's done well keeping them up as they attempt clean up the mess O'Neill left. My guess is they start climbing the table next season as their wage bill is being reduced to reasonable levels and their academy is starting to pump out good players. I think they'd be short-sighted to sack Lambert now.
   884. Swedish Chef Posted: April 18, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4688369)
What's the consensus here about Lambert? Good job or poor job?

They're horribly inconsistent. It was never going to be an easy job, but it's strange that they have a harder time playing relegation fodder than the top teams.

I think they'd be short-sighted to sack Lambert now.

That depends on what the alternatives are, it's not like I would want to discard him and then get Big Sam. And it's not like Aston Villa can hope to get a world-beater like Tony Pulis.

Then, who the hell knows what is happening with the suspension of those two guys?
   885. Spivey Posted: April 18, 2014 at 09:52 AM (#4688376)
Am I missing something with the Everton doom and gloom around here? Yeah, Arsenal is now in the lead over Everton in the battle for 4th. But despite the result of the last game, Everton is still in much better form than Arsenal and has been for the last half season. I'd still say it's wide open.
   886. Mefisto Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:16 AM (#4688395)
Everton still has Chelsea and City to play, IIRC, while Arsenal gets a run at the bottom of the table.
   887. DA Baracus Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4688422)
Remaining schedules:

Arsenal
@ Hull
v Newcastle
v West Brom
@ Norwich

Everton
v Man U
@ Southampton
v Man City
@ Hull

Losing to Crystal Palace eliminated their safety net. Now they have to be perfect. Still, 5th is a fantastic season.
   888. Mefisto Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4688435)
Eh, Chelsea, United ... who can tell them apart anyway?
   889. DA Baracus Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4688445)
Ha. Your point still stands though, United is better than anyone Arsenal faces, and they're only the second best team that Everton faces.
   890. Grunthos Posted: April 18, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4688564)
RE: Lambert... like Swedish Chef, I'm not convinced that he is the man for the job, but it's unlikely that anyone better is going to just walk in the door. He's no tactical genius, and given some of the performances this year you can't call him a great motivator either. His record at Norwich was built on his ability to find diamonds in the rough for cheap; that hasn't translated particularly well at Villa once you get past the massive success of Christian Benteke. I would shake down his acquisitions this way:

Benteke - huge win
---
Vlaar - solid
Bacuna - versatile and energetic, excellent value for the money
Okore - jury out due to major injury
---
Kozak - expensive, but looked solid enough before getting injured
Lowton - briefly looked like a steal, now settled into more of a pieces part role
Westwood - too small and slight for his job in the PL, but a good bench player
Bertrand - good loan pickup to temporarily cover for the other (ineffective) left back acquisitions
---
El Ahmadi - one of the legions of players who were good in the Dutch league and couldn't step up, a bad buy
Holt - desperation loan move to cover all the injuries up front, clearly past his prime although he still tries hard
Luna - fail
Bennett - fail
Tonev - fail
Bowery - fail
Sylla - fail
Helenius - apparent fail, although he's had so little playing time nobody really knows

It doesn't look to me like the record of a guy who actually has a better idea of who is a good top flight player than any generic EPL manager, which means that Lambert pretty much is a generic EPL manager. Albeit one who can have two assistants in key roles for years, pay real money to pry them away from his former club, and never clue in to the fact that they're temperamentally unsuited to their jobs.

I'm not sanguine about the club's ability to climb the table, because the current talent base really is as bad as it looks, Lerner is tapped out after investing so much in the club's infrastructure and running all the losses from Martin O'Neill's tenure, and the youth system hasn't actually shown itself to be very productive in recent years, unless supplying generic bench filler counts toward it being "productive". Even if we assume that Benteke comes back by January and is fully effective, the team has, right now, five starter-grade EPL players (Guzan, Vlaar, Delph, Benteke, Agbonlahor), a few other useful helpers (Bacuna, Kozak, Westwood, Lowton, perhaps Weimann and Albrighton), Okore, and a pile of chaff. So to climb the table, you're talking about getting 6-8 good new players in, probably on no money because Benteke can't be sold while he's crocked.

More broadly, Aston Villa is in perhaps the most frustrating and dispiriting position a team can be in given the current state of European football finances: they're the largest team in one of the largest metro areas in England, they have a fan base that could easily fill a 50k stadium regularly, their current stadium seats over 40k and is wholly owned, their owner is a billionare, and they have a lot of tradition and a European championship to their name... and none of it matters, because petrodollars. Which is why Lerner is almost certainly in the market to sell, despite the pro forma denials. When he bought in, he could conceive of challenging for silverware. A year later, Man City laid waste to that dream and salted the earth on which it stood. He has become Deadly Doug part deux, a wealthy man who has to run his club with extreme parsimony because the financial environment has passed him by. It's only a matter of time now before he capitulates.






   891. J. Sosa Posted: April 18, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4688591)
Are there any solid links as to who the prospective buyers might be? Grunthos and Chef, do you think Lerner gave the order to cut the wage bill a season or two ago with an eye towards a sale, or was it purely because he was losing money?

Villa are in a bad spot at the moment, but they are a big club. Newcastle are run by circus clowns (with the exception of Graham Carr) and almost got into the top four not too long ago. I wanted Lambert over Rodgers and Martinez and have been surprised how much he's struggled. It is hard to tell how much of it is down to financial restrictions and how much of it is Lambert himself.

This is my inexact ranking of PL clubs in terms of present resources, I'd be interested in other people's rankings:

1. City
2. Chelsea
3. Man U (Bigger club than the two ahead of them, but, you know, Glazers)
4. Arsenal (Bigger club historically than City or Chelsea, but you know, Arsenal)
5. Liverpool (On the up swing, but no petro dollars, Russian mob, massive stadium, or new stadium)

And then basically a three way tie between Everton, Villa, and Spurs. I would give Villa an edge on history and Spurs a slight edge on finances.

But with the right management I don't see why Villa can't be amongst the clubs contending for a Champions league place. Spurs did it and Everton and Newcastle have come really close in the City era. Europa is a more attractive prospect now as well given that a win gives a CL place.
   892. Swedish Chef Posted: April 18, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4688682)
Atletico puts pressure on Real Barcelona by beating Elche.

I looked at the schedule, Real has a cakewalk the rest of the way. Maybe Barcelona can help them win the league in the last game?
   893. Swedish Chef Posted: April 18, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4688686)
Barcelona are trying to cut a deal with FIFA over the transfer ban. They are proposing a ban that expires in the middle of August, giving them "only" 15 days to buy players. That would be the lamest punishment ever, so I guess it's a pretty likely outcome.
   894. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: April 18, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4688687)
Barcelona would at least think about throwing the game against Atletico if it would cost Real the title, right? While that would sort of suck from the standpoint of fair competition/spectacle/etc, it would be incredibly entertaining on another level.
   895. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: April 18, 2014 at 04:38 PM (#4688689)
How does that deal make any sense? Wouldn't that just mean that they would do all their business as usual and then just announce the deals at the end of the window?
   896. Swedish Chef Posted: April 18, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4688694)
Barcelona would at least think about throwing the game against Atletico if it would cost Real the title, right?

Rationally they shouldn't. Giving Atletico a hand in establishing them as a new top team wouldn't be in Barcelona's interest. What they should do is to destroy Atletico in that game and then hire Simeone and Costa.
   897. Grunthos Posted: April 18, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4688702)
I would give Villa an edge on history and Spurs a slight edge on finances. But with the right management I don't see why Villa can't be amongst the clubs contending for a Champions league place.

Spurs' financial edge is more than slight. Turnover for Villa tends to be in the 90-100M range (pounds), while Spurs are more like 150M. This is how a 90M wage bill is (perhaps barely) sustainable for Spurs, but an 80M wage bill has Lerner forking cash out of pocket to cover the expenses. Thus, even with a manager who gets more out of less than O'Neill did when the team was placing 6th, Villa would have to get a sugar daddy to set up FFP-evasive special income streams in order to sustainably compete for the CL. Lerner doesn't have those kind of resources, so he had to pull back or pull a Leeds.

The other point to consider is the degree to which the imbalances are now self-reinforcing. I would argue that the gap between your top 5 and the rest of the league is widening, that the rate of change is itself accelerating, that FFP isn't going to curb this in any meaningful way, and that the culture of the game is rapidly evolving in the direction of making the distinction permanent in every league in Europe.* Under these conditions, even a young Sir Alex would have severe difficulty trying to get Villa to qualify for, let alone sustainably stay in for several years, the CL.

* Because the players themselves understand that the Newcastles/Aston Villas/Evertons/Hamburgs/Stuttgarts/Fiorentinas/Atleticos/Valencias/etc. of the world are AAA clubs at this point, stepping stones on the way to joining a team that can pay them a top wage and put them in big tournaments.
   898. Grunthos Posted: April 18, 2014 at 04:58 PM (#4688711)
Oh, and to answer your other question:
do you think Lerner gave the order to cut the wage bill a season or two ago with an eye towards a sale, or was it purely because he was losing money?

I think Lerner has been gradually evolving on this front. The initial post-MON wage slashing was mostly about avoiding a swan dive into the lower divisions, but the sensibility of selling has undoubtedly been growing on his mind ever since. His financial situation isn't the same as it was five years ago, either (remember he had to sell the Browns in the middle of this period), so he may be finding himself less capable of sustaining the club even as the expense required to keep up with the super-rich is skyrocketing.

   899. J. Sosa Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:11 PM (#4688970)
Thanks Grunthos.

FFP is something I've been thinking about for awhile. Clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal are gung ho for it of course for the stated reason of curbing the Citys and PSGS of the world. Liverpool and Arsenal are run by smart people, so I've often wondered why they are naive enough to think FFP is actually going to be enforced. I think the true reason they are for FFP is to keep the teams below them in terms of revenue in their place. I think FFP may well have the opposite impact of the stated goal. I don't really see FFP being enforced for the big clubs, but I can see them making an example of a smaller club with a benevolent owner.
   900. Grunthos Posted: April 19, 2014 at 12:48 AM (#4689014)
Yes, I agree completely. It is extremely important for clubs in that second tier (in a Europe-wide sense) to prevent new challengers from rising, because they need to guarantee their place at the table when the (to my mind, inevitable) European superleague forms.
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