The off season of uncertainty

The big man himself, Sir Alex, has bid farewell and will be replaced by Everton’s David Moyes. Talk about big shoes….

‘Tis the summer of discontent’, words made famous by William Shakesphere many a year ago. These words could easily be applied to this summers European football off season as many of the world’s top clubs find themselves either searching for a new manager or adjusting themselves to a new appointee to their respective hotseat. The list itself is impressive. In England we see Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton all on the lookout for someone to lead them while Manchester United has famously bid farewell to longterm king Sir Alex Ferguson, appointing another angry Scotsman in Everton’s longterm manager David Moyes. In Spain Real Madrid have said both a fond and somewhat bitter goodbye to Jose Mourinho after an eventful but ultimately disappointing few years and are rumoured to have set their sights on the eminently reliable Carlos Anchelotti to replace him. Should this occur the position at PSG will become available for someone who prefers to take care of a club with virtually limitless transfer funds and a wealth of world class talent. Just down the road on the peninsula Italian runner up Napoli are confirmed to be on the lookout for a new manager (Rafa Benitez has been signed up) while perennial underachievers Roma currently only have confirmed theirs as interim undoubtebly leaving them to scour the market for someone more permament. Then there was Serie A disaster package Inter who in classic fashion confirmed the security of their manager Andrea Stramaccioni over and over and over before getting cold feet and sacking him, but only after signing several players at his behest. Finally, in Germany, Bayern Munich will be changing manager, drawing in the much desired Pep Guardiola who must have thought his Christmas’ had come twice after managing a team containing Lionel Messi for several seasons then taking over perhaps the most complete squad on world football. Surprisingly enough Bayern had told all who would listen that current manager Jupp Heynckes would be retiring only for the man himself to advise the world that he was actually only retiring from German football and he would be available should Real Madrid come knocking. One almost feels that despite having the best squad in the world Pep might be in for a rough ride trying to replicate the most successful season in Bayern’s history. Continue reading

The struggles of Strama

At the start of the season everything appeared so easy for the youngster.

Prior to Sunday’s 0-0 bore draw against Genoa, a match about as interesting as the incessant ego driven controversies and scandals that litter the Italian game,  Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni outlined a number of points relating to the clubs future transfer policy and tactics. It was almost as if the Nerazzurri coach realises that, after setting the all time record number of single season losses with the club, in only his first full season, he really needed to convince the fans that he can provide more than strange team selections, off the cuff tactics that change more than Silvio Burlesconi’s stripper selection, and the oft-repeated line that he is young and hey, he is still learning! While the novelty of having a young whipper snapper as the coach allowed the fans to dream that they had unveiled their own Pep, a man who would suddenly reveal that Inter’s youth department, unlike every other department in the club, is actually well run and contained a plethora of world-class talent just waiting to be released on the world stage, the reality stung a little harder. Where previous managers relied on the tried on true, the so-called ‘senators’ of the club, Stramaccioni, the blinding light of youth promotion went for……well the senators, but don’t forget he did blood a host of new talent in the, wait for it, Europa League, Europe’s version of the Coppa Italia where most clubs either send out lineups chock full of young blood or come from countries such as Hungary and have awesome names such as Videoton. Continue reading

It is the inevitability that hurts the most.

Fiorentina’s players celebrate another goal in their 1-5 win over Pescara, it would not be enough

As the Fiorentina players finished off their stunning 5-1 win over Pescara which gave them the best possible opportunity to secure third place and the elusive final Champions League spot, word came through that Milan, in the 84th minute of their match against Siena, had scored to tie the game 1-1. Fiorentina were still in the final spot but there was a sense of resignation about the turn of events. Moments later and Milan scored the winner to secure a remarkable, almost unbelievable turnaround to secure the final cherished spot. For Fiorentina’s players there was an obvious disappointment but also a strange resignation. When word of how the first Milan goal was scored it was even more pronounced. The first vital goal had come from a foul on Mario Balotelli. A ball had been floated into the box from the left. It was a poor ball some ten metres too far in front of the Milan strikers and clearly going out for a goal kick. Balotelli was entering the box under some pressure from the Siena defender, the pressure was no more than you would see on virtually every other occasion with this type of cross, a little tussling as one man moved forward while the other tried to stay with him. Seeing he had absolutely no chance to get to the ball, Balotelli took a chance, falling rather theatrically to the floor. There was no way, NO WAY, that it was a penalty. He was nowhere near the ball, the contact was nothing more than two players tussling through close marking, it was just ridiculous. But it was given, Milan scored and they went on to win. Continue reading

Martinez to Man City?

Pellegrini is the media’s big favourite to take the City roll, but their are doubters within the club.

It seems that there will be some rather important clubs looking for managers at the end of this season with Chelsea, Man City, Everton from England all confirmed as manager less at this point in time in England; Inter Milan, Milan and Napoli in Italy all appearing to have managers whose positions are in some doubt; and Real Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga in Spain all having question marks over the men who will lead them next season. With this state of affairs it is not surprising that virtually every manager who has ever won anything is being link with not just one but several clubs across the continent.  Personally I cannot recall a time when so many of the continents biggest clubs have been searching for a manager at the same time. With these names flying around it is easy enough to throw wild speculation around and watch to see if anything comes of it. My contribution to this is an interesting piece of information I garnered from two of my sources (who unfortunately must remain anonymous as they have been sworn to secrecy on threat of legal action) inside Man City. Continue reading

Real fail to repair the damage done

It is highly unlikely that Mourinho will grace the Madrid bench next season.

Despite scoring two late goals to give themselves a 2-0 win on the night it was not enough for Mourinho’s men to steal the tie from a tenacious, vibrant young Dortmund team who now proceed to the Champions League final 4-3 on aggregate. On the basis of the two legs it was undoubtably the German side who deserved to go through after dominating the first leg and spurning several good opportunities in the second. That is not to say that Real Madrid did not have their chances. Had their misfiring strikers been a little more accurate or actually offered anything more than a few lazy runs and sloppy passes things might have been different. In the end it was a Benzema tap in and a Sergio Ramos beauty that won them the game but several tactical and personnel errors that cost them the tie. Continue reading