TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh believes Manchester City’s squad needs freshening up…
Somewhat unusually, The Sunday Times ran a front page on the day of the Manchester Derby claiming that City were to fight Liverpool for the signature of Steven Gerrard’s next contract. While there may be little truth to this rumour, it would fit in with City’s recent trend of signing experienced players well beyond their peak years. The main reason for this policy is Financial Fair Play; they are a club continually at odds with the homegrown rule that requires a minimum of five “homegrown” players in their Champions League squad, while any free transfers are a bonus.
It will come as little surprise that Manchester City possess the oldest average squad age in the Premier League at 28. This is not necessarily a bad thing. They are, after all, the champions and that age brings experience. Key players such as Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Pablo Zabeleta and Fernandinho are all 28 or over. The concern is that time and time again, City have failed to integrate younger players into their squad. Indeed, there are very few who appear to be challenging for places. Continue reading →
In just a few hours, Andrea Pirlo will join an illustrious group of Italian legends as he earns his 100th cap for the Azzurri. Kyle Hulme takes a look back over his career and achievements so far…
Of all the places for a footballer to earn his 100th cap for his country, few are as fitting as the Estadio do Maracano; a stadium that once hosted a World Cup Final, saw Pele’s 1000th goal and has witnessed countless world-class players grace its surface. It seems a perfect place for Andrea Pirlo to celebrate this own landmark occasion.
Yet, considering his present status as one of the world’s most cultured and effective playmakers, it’s strange to think that in the past there were many who never imagined he would get this far.
Regardless of where he would eventually end up, Pirlo achieved immortality early on in the football canon for his role in Roberto Baggio’s wondergoal whilst playing for Brescia – perhaps the first glimpse the world saw of his long, sculpted passes. Having impressed during his time in Lombardy, he was spotted by Internazionale who signed him in 1998.
During his first stint in Milan with Inter, Pirlo struggled to cement his place, playing further up the field in a role just behind the front man. Though he struggled at club level in this more advanced role, he won the U-21 European Championship with Italy, finishing the tournament as the top scorer in his role as a #10. Loans to Reggina and a return to Brescia followed before he was signed by cross-city rivals AC Milan in 2001 – the club where he became the player we know today. Continue reading →
With David Beckham calling an end to his 20 year career, Greg Johnson looks at the player behind the hype, and asks whether more footballers should follow his example…
Over the past few years, David Beckham has toured the world like an aging rock band, determined to wring a final few golden years out of his former glory in emerging markets and foreign lands still seduced by the nostalgic allure of his status and shirt sales. Now his greatest hits tour is coming to an end, with the world’s most famous footballer turning down an extension to stay at his latest European cameo at Paris Saint-Germain in order to bow out of the game at “the highest level”.
While many may scoff at his reasoning, along with the self-indulgence of his later career moves, it is important to separate the past achievements of Beckham the footballer from Beckham the brand, especially since his reputation as a player is more often than not harmed by the association.
Ignoring his ubiquitous presence across billboards and TV, pushing everything from soft drinks to under pants while skirting the borders of ridicule with his outlandish fixation on fashion and hairstyles, David Beckham was a fine footballer and an upstanding professional athlete. Continue reading →
David Dodds profiles Italian World Cup winner Gennaro Gattuso, and his late career move to Switzerland…
Even the Italian government recognised Gennaro Gattuso’s ample contributions to football when they awarded him the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic–one of the highest decorations an Italian citizen can be given. An industrious defensive midfielder and dextrous (although sometimes overly-zealous) tackler, he served as the anchor for Milan’s midfield for over a decade.
In a career spanning thirteen years for the Italian giants, the inveterate defensive midfielder played alongside the many legends who were part of the revolving carousel of world-class players at Milan throughout the 00s. During his time at the club he helped them to two Serie A titles, a domestic cup and two Champions League trophies. Known for his temerarious tackling and sometimes-belligerent attitude, Rino also has a World Cup under his belt and in the year when Italy became campione del mondo was voted one of the top ten players of the tournament. Continue reading →
Scott Jenkins assesses Barcelona’s European prospects in the wake of their midweek defeat in Milan…
On Wednesday night AC Milan defeated Barcelona in the first leg of the super 16 stage of the Champions League. They take a 2 nil advantage going into the reverse fixture at the Camp Nou and there can be no mistaking that it is deservedly so.
The Rossoneri were the better team on the night. They defended well to reduce space and angles for Barca to offer many meaningful interchanges in and around their penalty area to threaten their goal. And when the opportunity presented itself, they stole possession and burst forward to attack with a bravery rarely seen against Barcelona. Continue reading →
As the Champions League returns for the knockout stage, James Dutton looks at some of the names ready to light up the competition…
It is an old adage in the football world that has been popularized over time; if you lay any claim to be amongst the best in world football, either at present or through the ages, then you have to prove it on the greatest stage of all – the World Cup.