Charles Pulling profiles Nenê, West Ham’s already forgotten Brazilian from the 2014-15 season…
In 2011, workmen expanding a road in eastern China discovered the mummified remains of a woman dating back 700 years. It was, in terms of the quality of the find and its location one of the most stunning Ming-era discoveries in recent times, a perfectly preserved echo of a long fallen dynasty.
Also in 2011, another altogether less lauded dynasty began in east London. The Allardyce-era at West Ham United may not have stretched over centuries, but for many of the Upton Park faithful the all-too-often turgid, grinding performances may have felt something close to a lifetime in length. And so, with the ominous boos reverberating around Upton Park, ‘Big Sam’ was afforded no reward for securing West Ham’s Premier League status for a third season running and the sun came down on the Allardyce dynasty.
Now, with optimism, a new manager, an impending move to a fancy new stadium and Europa League sojourns West Ham seems a happier, more contented place, despite a ball barely being kicked in anger. But what of the relics of the past four years? What do they tell us?
One of the more rarer finds whilst sifting through the wreckage is the name Nenê, a name that stands out in contrast to the more ‘meat and potato’ Allardyce players such as Nolan or Downing. The name is barely a footnote. Understandable considering the man from São Paulo spent little over three months parking his car at the ‘Academy of Football.’ Continue reading →
Joe Devine returns to discuss five things that may or may not have happened in the Premier League this weekend…
1. Nigel Pearson Looked After Himself
Unconfirmed reports on Saturday afternoon that Nigel Pearson was – at times – unattended over the weekend. As panic swept the nation, thousands flocked towards Leicester in what is now being described as the ‘Pearson Pilgrimage’. A spokesperson for National Rail described the event as a crisis after several trains were cancelled due to overcrowding. Witnesses described the crowds as “hoards of sensible adults” all terrified for the safety of the Leicester City boss. A new theory emerging this morning suggests that Pearson’s supposed firing was a board-organised rouse to deter worried adults from the doors of the training grounds. Nigel Pearson is scheduled to appear at a news conference on Monday at 2pm and the early word is that he will be hand-holding with another adult. The nation can relax at last. Continue reading →
Joe Devinelooks back at the Premier League matchweek that was…
1. Brendan Rodgers lost grip on reality
Sadly for Liverpool fans, it seems that paragon Brendan Rodgers finally lost his grip on reality. A giddy mess at the end of last season, Rodgers’ “couldn’t believe his luck” attitude quickly evaporated as the team got off to a bad start in the 2014/15 season. With an ever increasing run of bad results, Rodgers’ traditional gritty realism has been replaced with a dejected, fancicful spool. Most recently Rogers began discussing folklore at a press conference then reportedly ran off into the woods and hasn’t been seen since. Fingers crossed he gets back in time for Sunday’s United game, as it looks like they’ll be needing all kinds of fairytale luck to get anything from that.
2. Man City opened new ‘Bond villain’ complex
Billed as a ‘training complex’, Manchester City owner Sheik Mansour this week opened the club’s new ‘Bond Villain’ like headquarters in Manchester. Built on a site previously housing a chemical plant, the complex includes a state of the art armoury, a handful of wild sharks and a whole office dedicated to skirting financial fair play rules. Alongside a number of useful facilities, the first team players also have access to a new simulator designed to aid their bid for better contracts. The bill for this centre came to £200m, but it’s already paying dividends. Manchester City Council haven’t been this happy John Lennon died. Continue reading →
James Dutton looks at Sam Allardyce’s return to form and the struggle of other Premier League managers to adapt…
“There are two types of coaches. There’s coaches like me who weigh up the opposition and ask the team to adjust. Fergie was similar. Jose is similar. Then there’s Arsène, who won’t adjust. There’s Brendan, who looks like he won’t adjust. There’s Manuel Pellegrini, who looks like he won’t adjust, even in the Champions League.
“Their philosophy is different to ours. Ours is more about who are we playing against. Their philosophy is more, ‘We always play this way’, and they won’t change, they carry doing on the same thing. That’s why you can beat them.”
Sam Allardyce, October 2014
Sam Allardyce is no stranger to talking up his own abilities; in a fairer world where ‘good football men’ are rewarded for their determination, passion and persistence he would be the man sending Cristiano Ronaldo out every week to break record after record in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
Instead he’s leading the Andy Carroll renaissance and has propelled West Ham United to third place in the league amidst their best ever start to a Premier League season. Continue reading →
The False Nine’s tactics aficionado Simon Smith discusses the varying uses of strikerless formations…
Watching AS Roma destroy Internazionale last week was one of my highlights of the season, because it felt like a win for the underdog. I’m not saying that I prefer the Romans to Inter, or even that I wanted them to win, but seeing a team who sold their best defender and forward reborn through a collective strategy is hard not to enjoy. If the experiment with Zemen ended in tears, Garcia has been refreshingly simplistic in the way he makes attacking football look natural, instead of requiring a season long revolution. The most obvious change to the attack has been the reintroduction of Totti to centre forward after a season as the trequartista.
Just two days earlier, Sam Allerdici grabbed the headlines by adopting a similar strategy to demolish hot favourites Tottenham Hotspur 3-0. Are we to believe that this is because he was influenced by Serie A, or is the more cynical view that this was a desperate throw of the dice born out of Andy Carroll’s injury more accurate? Increasingly, and perhaps unsurprisingly following Barcelona’s success, the false nine is being used to describe systems in football matches in all the major European leagues. The real question is whether this is because the formation is more commonly used, or whether the term is: and to answer this, we need to look at strikerless formations in the pre Guardiola world. Continue reading →