Lucas Piazón – Chelsea’s ‘New Kaka’ finding his feet in Holland


Joe Tweeds of Plains of Almería and Michiel Jongsma of Opta Johan and BeNeFoot profile Chelsea’s Lucas Piazón…

So far Lucas Piazón has struggled to establish himself at Chelsea, as Joe Tweeds writes…

Lucas Piazón must be kicking himself. At the time of signing him in the summer of 2011, Chelsea had an extremely talented teenager who was destroying fellow U18 sides in the academy on a regular basis. He had briefly sampled the delights of first team football and while not wholeheartedly impressing, he certainly played okay given his opportunities.

Two years later and Chelsea boast one of the best collection of attacking midfielders in Europe, while Piazón spent half a season on loan at Málaga playing second fiddle to Isco. Continue reading

Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool’s no. 10 from Brazil


The Anfield Wrap writer Karl Coppack profiles Liverpool’s current no. 10, Philippe Coutinho…

His name is Philippe Coutinho and he’s the next one.

Liverpool have had Scottish, English, Welsh and Spanish super heroes of late but this is new ground. Even our greatest sides never had the magnificent mix of three fantastic footballing ingredients. Brazilian. Number ten. Stupid haircut. Excellent.

Personally, I love rough players. Give me Carragher the granite over Agger the artisan, give me Sissoko over little, dainty Joe Allen, the hulking Toshack over powder puff Owen but this is different. Little Phil could be taken away by the lightest breeze but I don’t care this time. He’s a pixie, a sprite and an irritant to all but his team mates. Continue reading

Rafael da Silva—Manchester United’s world-class whippet


Chris Clarke of Manchester United fan site and podcast Can They Score? profiles the fuzzy ball of energy and enthusiasm who brought a Samba beat to United’s right-back position…

Spotted by Les Kershaw at the 2005 Nike Premier Cup in Hong Kong, the da Silva twins have brought a sense of Brazilian brilliance to United’s defence over the past five years. After signing from Fluminise the “two little whippets” have excelled in the first team since making the big move from Brazil.

Rafael made his league debut against Newcastle United at the start of the 2008-09 season but he really made his first impressions during his friendly debut against Peterborough; bombing up and down the right wing and drawing comparisons with the likes of Cafu and Roberto Carlos.

Playing without fear or hesitation, Rafael da Silva became an immediate fan favourite with his bubbly personality, infectious energy and attacking intent. Continue reading

Fabio da Silva—Manchester United’s Sacrificial Lahm?


TFN editor Greg Johnson on Fabio Pereira da Silva the right-footed left-back at risk of fading away into his brother’s shadow…

Long before the sight of Marouane Fellaini and his infamous barnet in a Manchester United shirt inspired afro wigs in the stands, the curly mops of the da Silva twins led them to become the club’s first microphone-headed mascots-cum-players.

Having arrived fresh from captaining Brazil in the U-17 World Cup in 2007, Fabio da Silva was initially considered to be the more naturally talented brother; a right-footed, marauding left back who enjoyed terrorising defences and scoring goals when cutting inside onto his stronger foot.

United hadn’t snapped up the next Cafu or Roberto Carlos—that was a lineage for his sibling Rafael to chase—but a more unorthodox prospect half-jokingly referred to as Brazil’s answer to Philipp Lahm in more than one online discussion. Continue reading

Six Memorable League Cup Matches


Piers Barber defends the League Cup and reminds us of the competition’s best ever games…

The poor old League Cup. Everyone’s least favourite English football competition has been on the receiving end of all sorts of abuse in recent years, consistently blamed for causing pesky fixture congestion and derided for only featuring the reserve squads of the nation’s leading teams.

Yet the tournament, which was founded (for some reason or another) in 1960, has far more to offer than this conventional ‘narrative’ tends to suggest. In fact, in recent years it has arguable staged far more entertaining and attacking fixtures than much of what the FA Cup, it’s older and more respected sibling, has had to offer. It’s also repeatedly proved vital to kick-starting a manager’s tenure or getting one out of a barren spell – just ask Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson. And, as Birmingham City and Swansea City have proved in recent years, it can bring glory to supporters normally unaccustomed to winning anything.

So in honour of this weird and wonderful trophy, here are some of the best games the competition has hosted in recent years. Warning: very bad defending features throughout. Continue reading

Andre Santos – Arsenal’s cuddly maverick who loved fish and chips


John Guillem looks back on one Andre Santos’ time in England…

‘Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.’

― Friedrich Nietzsche, Der Wille zur Macht

There are certain sad moments in our lives where the congenial veneer of our world peels back a little, revealing a brief, harrowing glimpse of limitation. All too often it is a realisation of transience or mortality: the moment when you can see white hairs on your mother’s head (or is it just that she can’t be bothered to dye anymore?), when your old form teacher retires, when the first creaks in the beloved sports pro’s game emerge.

In football, we tend not to encounter such moments of bathos, as everything is slathered with a thick layer of drama and hyperbole. Things are always one way or another, often both at the same time or interchanging so rapidly as to create a resonance effect: grey areas are scarce. Surprises are always hugely surprising or something we knew all along … so it’s surprising that I was surprised in just that way I mentioned before (the one about death and all that – that is, an unsurprising but nonetheless very much a surprise surprise) some eleven months ago, with a mildly but not hugely surprising individual at the centre of it all: Andre Santos.

The news in question was just a scrap of transfer gossip (arising, as they tend to, in a manner which is entirely logical if you work back to first principles, and as such is likely to have been made up by some journo, and unlikely to ever happen): given Nacho Monreal’s signing for Arsenal, and the fact that the Turkish transfer window was still open (he played there before, you know!), inevitably Andre would be moving out sharpish, Kieran Gibb’s six week plus injury notwithstanding.

Leaving that piece of bollocks aside for a moment, the simple realisation which accompanied it was that his days were very clearly numbered at Arsenal. In many ways, this was already pretty obvious (given that he plays like a horny bumblebee, only lacking much sting), but the gossip-giblet shifted my relationship to it from the cognitive realm to the emotional one – I realised that old uncle Andre wouldn’t be in the team again come summerfall, whether he would spend years on loan like Denilson or does us a favour and bugger off the wage bill (which – thankfully I suppose– is what did happen). He is, to return to the life and death bit, a gonner now, rather than a Gooner (if you’ll excuse the shitty pun). And now, indeed, he is gone. Continue reading

Sylvinho and his Forgotten Spell at Manchester City


Todd Pemberton looks back on Sylvinho’s second stint in English football and his season-long stay at Eastlands…

My club, Manchester City, has always been full of stark contrasts and juxtaposition. Never has this been more summed up than when we signed Brazilian Sylvinho on a free transfer from Barcelona. His final game for the Catalan giants was a victorious Champions League final where he played a full 90 minutes; his first game for Manchester City was against Scunthorpe in the League Cup, as Wayne Bridge’s understudy. A fall from grace or merely a neat anecdote surmising the sometimes strange nature of life in the Blue half of Manchester? Continue reading