Joe Tweeds of Plains of Almería profiles Willian’s encouraging debut season in English football…
The twists and turns of Willian’s Chelsea career despite its tender age have been quite magnificent this season. The circumstances of his transfer have now become a point of notoriety in the eternal jousting between Chelsea and Tottenham. Paying for his flights, his hotel and everything else in between Willian left his medical at Spurs Lodge and signed for Chelsea hours later. It spawned a song that was fuelled by Czech beer in Prague and the Brazilian’s own acknowledgement of it cemented him as a cult hero before he had even kicked a ball.
This leads us to a historical debate – can a cult hero actually be a decent footballer? Belletti was beloved at Chelsea for his passion, long range goals and general demeanour. Paulo Ferreira was once a top class full-back but evolved into the consummate squad player, wheeled out occasionally to put Gareth Bale in his pocket. Willian might well go and redefine this definition. Continue reading →
The False Nine return to the Old Red Lion for another live pubcast, this time with Alex Stewart of Put Niels In Goal and Dutch football expert Elko Born.
Talk soon talks to the merits of Jose Mourinho, Louis Van Gaal’s Netherlands and what he could bring to Manchester United, the secrets behind Southampton’s successes of late, and the lesser known link between Kevin Strootman and a certain type of sweet Dutch snack.
Adroit footballers operating in several positions throughout their career is not a modern phenomenon. John Charles, arguably the finest dual-threat player ever, was both a world class centre forward and centre back; often during the same game. Likewise, players have historically operated across a back four, in midfield or attack in several defined roles. However, recent developments from both a technical and tactical perspective have seemingly taken this versatility one step further. Multifunctional players are determining European Cups and league titles and the trend looks set to continue.
Looking back at Claude Makélélé’s time with Chelsea provides the perfect juxtaposition to the modern holding midfielder. The man who is the only footballer to have an actual position named after him was the perfect defensive midfielder. Makélélé possessed a positional sense that few have ever matched, married with superlative defensive instincts. He was the battery in an expensive watch and naturally the ‘Makélélé Role’ was coined.
In a time where teams were still largely operating on a 4-4-2 basis Makélélé provided the platform for José Mourinho’s devastating counterattacking football. His role was simple and overlooked by those who ran Madrid. Their loss was undoubtedly Mourinho’s gain and Makélélé enabled Chelsea to dominate the Premier League for a two-year period. As the game evolved the requirements of the midfield anchor man deviated from those of a purely defensive failsafe. The birth of the regista (at least in the consciousness of mainstream football) gave prominence to artistic brilliance and the passing acumen of Andrea Pirlo. It even led to a domestic clamour for the conversion of David Beckham into a ‘quarterback’. Continue reading →
The editor’s column returns.James Dutton discusses whether David Moyes is learning as a manager, Jose Mourinho’s sale of Juan Mata and Liverpool’s continuing transfer problems…
The semi finals of the League Cup have been the setting for the confirmation of a number of narratives in recent years.
In 2010 Manchester United proved to be a bridge too far, too soon for Roberto Mancini’s upstarts. In 2011 Birmingham City and West Ham United played out an interminable struggle, a dogfight that reflected their relegation credentials. A year later Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool proved their mettle as that season’s cup specialists by seeing off champions-elect Manchester City over two legs.
In years gone by a 9-0 aggregate result between Manchester City and West Ham United would have plumbed the depths of fantasy, but few have batted an eyelid given the obvious gulf in class between the top and bottom of the Premier League in 2013-14.
That one-sided massacre contrasted greatly with the other semi; a titanic struggle between Sunderland and Manchester United, who appeared to be going to great lengths to avoid humiliation against City at Wembley, even at one point struggling to comprehend the point of penalties.
With Juan Mata’s arrival imminent,Jon Wilmore speculates on Wayne Rooney’s future at Old Trafford…
It’s happening – it’s actually happening. But when the initial ecstasy over Juan Mata’s arrival at Manchester United dies down, Moyes and the boys are going to face another question entirely – where on earth do they actually play him?
The question has been raised throughout the media, with nobody quite certain enough to reach a general consensus. United have recent experience of purchasing a star player from a rival whose position was ostensibly not their weakest – a purchase that basically won them the league.
After reluctantly relinquishing the role of star centre forward to Robin van Persie last year, Wayne Rooney has seemed a man renewed in the Dutchman’s absence, thriving up top and again as a number 10 in behind Danny Welbeck. But now, it must happen again. Continue reading →
Piers Barber reminisces on some of the most peculiar injury setbacks to have befallen footballers in recent years.
The news that Jose Mourinho somehow managed to sustain a fracture to his elbow after Chelsea’s game with Manchester United last weekend is the latest in a long line of mysteriously bizarre footballing injuries. Indeed, the Beautiful Game is filled with a great canon of weird and wonderful physical misfortunes. Here is our top 10…
10. Phillipe Mexes
Pretty-boy Mexes clearly cares a lot about his appearance, although was clearly guilty of taking the obsession a bit too far last year after he was forced to sit out a game against Celtic after spending too long on a sun bed. His price for a creepy fake bronzed torso was a rather serious eye condition known as central serous retinopathy. Continue reading →
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 →