Paris Saint-Germain: Wenger the wanted man as PSG draw Blancs


Hugo Greenhalgh believes that PSG’s most recent managerial appointment is proof they have some way to go before they can dine out with Europe’s football elite…

The second half of last season was defined to a certain degree by a series of well-publicised open secrets that quickly unravelled to become common knowledge. Jose Mourinho would be leaving Real Madrid and his position would be taken by PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti. Roberto Mancini was to be shown the door at Manchester City and replaced by Manuel Pellegrini. A managerial merry-go-round of sorts was about to be set in motion. Continue reading

Manchester City: Why is David Silva Immune from Criticism?


In the autumn of 2011 David Silva was regarded as the best footballer in the Premier League. James Dutton asks why the stall in his career since has gone largely unnoticed…

Cast your minds back to October 2011 and Manchester City’s 6-1 drubbing of Manchester United; a result that looks less era-defining now, 20 months on, but which momentarily confirmed City’s unrivaled ascendance in English football.

The performance was as virtuoso as the result was seismic; central to it all was the dynamism of David Silva. It confirmed his status, in autumn 2011, as the best player in the Premier League.

The Spaniard was instrumental in the first two goals, scored by Mario Balotelli, combining with James Milner to devastating effect, and struck late on himself. He wove a tapestry across the Old Trafford pitch with every swish of his magical left boot, constantly twisting and turning, drifting into space and always with an innate awareness of those around him.

He provided City’s coup de grace for the final goal; an instinctive, 40-yard volleyed through-ball from inside his own half to set Edin Dzeko racing clear. It remains one of the greatest assists in Premier League history. Continue reading

David Villa – Lost in the Wilderness


Guest writer Rob Brown looks at what happened to David Villa, as El Guaje enters a career crossroads…

The date is November 29, 2010. Camp Nou is full to capacity and Barcelona lead Real Madrid by three goals to nil. Nearly 100,000 Culés plus a global audience of millions are enthralled by one of the greatest team displays ever.

David Villa, assister of Barça’s second goal and scorer of their third, stands in front of his team’s left-back, Éric Abidal, as Madrid keep the ball on the opposite flank and try desperately to find a way back into the game. Possession eventually turns over and Villa begins to run forward.

On the opposite side of the pitch, Lionel Messi receives the ball from Sergio Busquets. He immediately turns and drives at Ricardo Carvalho and Sami Khedira. As Messi reaches them he darts to his left, skipping past the German midfielder, and Villa sprints through the blind spot of the Madrid right-back, Sergio Ramos.

Right on cue, Messi pings a perfect diagonal through-ball between Pepe and Ramos, leaving El Guaje one-on-one with Iker Casillas for the second time in three minutes. He lets the ball roll for what seems like a millisecond too many and then stabs it under the onrushing Casillas for 4-0. Continue reading

Match Journal #3: Spain v Tahiti

After the colossal mis-match that was Spain 10-0 Tahiti, David Wild pays tribute to the Pacific Islanders who gave their all…

“Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell, Rode the six hundred.”– Alfred, Lord Tennyson

One of football’s most timeless and appealing virtues is its egalitarian nature; its ability to give the underdog their own glorious day in the sun. USA 1-0 England World cup 1950. Wimbledon’s 1988 FA cup final victory, North Korea’s glorious late consolation against Brazil in World Cup 2010. To the delight of fans worldwide history is replete with the unexpected upsetting of the odds.

Last night in the Confederations Cup the World Cup winners and European champions Spain, their sparkling contingent laden with universal honours, accolades and a perception of true sporting greatness lining up against a team with one professional player, and of whom nine are technically unemployed; Tahiti. Continue reading

Match Journal Entry #2: Italy v Japan


James Dutton rejoices in the spectacle of last night’s 4-3 tussle between Italy and Japan in the Confederations Cup…

A month ago we couldn’t wait for the season to finish. The Premier League season spiraled into unconfined misery as it dragged on and on and on and on.

But the Confederations Cup, in that footballing nirvana of Brazil, has brought unbridled joy to the unsuspecting, average footballing Joe thus far.

Last night it reached its zenith as Italy and Japan played out an absolute humdinger in Recife. It caught us all slightly unawares after Brazil’s rather subdued and functional 2-0 win over Mexico, which, were it not for the fleeting flashiness of Neymar (and the fact that Jô is the second top goal scorer of the tournament so far with just 17 minutes under his belt), would not have lived long in the memory. Continue reading

Brand Bale Cranks it up to 11

Tottenham Hotspur's Bale celebrates after scoring during their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester City in Manchester

As Gareth Bale develops his iconic celebration into a brand, David Wild discusses the evolution of footballers and image rights…

The image has become synonymous with perhaps the Premier League’s current best player. Now Gareth Bale has bound his infamous heart celebration even closer to him and ‘Brand Bale’ by trade marking his own ‘Eleven of Hearts’ logo and factoring it into his image rights. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now and say that he didn’t notice that the negative space in the picture makes it look like Bale’s hands are gently clasping two small testicles (Thanks to my friend Pat McKenna for pointing this out.)

The Tottenham midfielder is applying for use of the logo on clothing, jewellery, headgear, and of course, being a footballer, footwear. According to the IPO website, he has also applied to use the logo on “animal skins, hides; trunks and travelling bags; umbrellas, parasols and walking sticks; whips, harness and saddlery.” Quite the range. Continue reading

Murdoch’s Sky Dream League Ushers in the Age of the Super Club


With the news that Rupert Murdoch wants to create a super league of 16 elite teams, Greg Johnson looks at what the establishment of a new top-tier could mean for football’s long-term health…

The age of the super-club is upon us. Across Europe, a cabal of elite teams have risen to dominate their respective leagues. Most of the major top divisions already reduced to year-on-year duopolies ruled by a select clique of clubs – a plutocracy that stretches from Manchester to Munich. Beyond their mega rich pretenders, racing to outrun and out-spend the retracting ladder of Financial Fair Play regulations, there is little challenge to their competitive stranglehold.

Although the Qatar Dream Football League proposal proved to be a hoax, arch-opportunist Rupert Murdoch is reportedly “exploring” the very real prospect of establishing an exclusive 16 club super league to take place during the post-season summers of the future. Though initially touted as an after-thought exhibition tournament, the quality of opposition and opportunity for exposure would eventually come to threaten the standing of the regular championship run-ins and cup finals.

Described as the “Formula One-isation of football”, matches would be staged across the world in the stadiums of the highest bidders. With such an opportunity to service the enormous, flourishing markets of East Asia and the USA with competitive, high-glamour fixtures, the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona may find that continuing to persist with traditional domestic leagues would no longer make business sense. It’s unlikely even the riches of the Premier League or La Liga would be able to match the benefits and opportunities afforded by a global division of super clubs. Continue reading