TFN’s Alex Stewart returns with a column on football’s dreaded “narrative”…
Football is confusing, isn’t it? I mean, take Arsenal. Arsenal are shit, aren’t they? We all know that. They’ve a porous defence, weak full-backs who can’t head the ball, injury problems galore, and Arsene Wenger is so confused about who to buy he’s actually taking suggestions by text. Sure, they’re probably top six this season, but only because everyone else is so woeful. And Manchester City are fantastic, right? They’ve qualified for the next round of the Champions League at long last, they’ve got the best striker in the Premier League and they’ve just bought another really, really good one. Vincent Kompany is more than a footballer, he’s a heroic saviour of all that is good and decent in this world, as well as being an elegant, handsome man to boot.
And then Arsenal go and beat City at home and suddenly, aren’t City shit? The Vincent Kompany rare error is becoming the Pepe Reina rare error, according to someone on Twitter. Forget the strikers: City are a one-man team who always lose when Yaya is away on duty with his national side. They have no plan B and no way of rousing themselves from their indolent, slightly apathetic superiority complex and when pushed, often fall over. And aren’t Arsenal amazing? I mean, Alexis Sanchez is the best player in the league, and Wenger was absolutely right to stick with Francis Coquelin and Olivier Giroud and bring in David Ospina; the man is a genius. And Santi’s Cazorla’s not lazy; he’s just been saving himself for the big occasions. Continue reading
TFN regular Elko Born remembers the infamous Andy van der Meyde…
Most of the boys in the Ajax academy are from Amsterdam or the area surrounding the Dutch capital. Boys from other parts of the country usually get picked up by other clubs. PSV Eindhoven, for example, rules the South of the country. Clubs like Heerenveen and FC Groningen rule the North.
Andy van der Meyde was born and bred in Arnhem, a medium sized town in the centre of the Netherlands. Yet it wasn’t Vitesse, his home town side, or any of the other clubs in the Arnhem area who spotted his talent when he was a boy. By some twist of faith, it was an Ajax scout. 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.
George Roberts remember’s Jo’s two loan spells at Everton…
Everton’s previous forays into the world of Brazilian football had been unmemorable. Ask fans about Rodrigo or Anderson da Silva, and you’ll most likely be met with blank expressions. The loan signing of Jô in February 2009 hinted at better prospects, however. Here was a striker with a reputation: Manchester City had paid some £18 million the previous summer to sign him from CSKA Moscow. Jô himself admitted he hadn’t settled well at City and had struggled to adapt to the pace and physicality of the English game.
The early signs were certainly encouraging. Making his debut against Bolton, the striker scored a brace; three more goals followed before the season was out. David Moyes turned down the option of a £10 million permanent move over the summer, but happily took Jô back on loan when he again found himself once again surplus to requirements at City.
However, Jô’s lack of physical presence and shoddy first touch became obvious. If Everton had been a side with a genuine passing game, this may not have been such an issue. Continue reading
In the first of a two part special, Tim Stillman of Vital Arsenal and Arseblog takes a look at how some of the Seleção have fared when they returned to Brazil…
Much has been written in the past around the ability of Brazilian players to adapt to life in the Premier League. It’s difficult to pontificate on the subject without lapsing into cliché – a challenge Rob Brown met manfully at the outset of this series. Rob was correct to point out cultural differences between the two countries. The punctuality of the Premier League training regime is at odds for a country for whom ‘antes tarda do que nunca‘ (‘better late than never’) is an ingrained cliché. I attended a graduation ball in Minas Gerais back in July and I was already yawning by the time we arrived at the event shortly before 1am.
Football is more of an art than a science in Brazil and its national league, Brasileirão, bears those traits for better and for worse. The league is temperamental to say the least. Not simply because of the amount of yellow and red cards you can expect to see, but the league table is capable of turning itself upside down from season to season. Most clubs are basket cases financially, which prevents any one team from dominating. Teams are generally very evenly matched; one or two astute signings can see you leap up the table. Cruzeiro, who have ostensibly fought relegation in the last 3 seasons, currently lead Serie A by 12 points.
The appointment of Marcelo de Oliveira Santos as coach and canny additions such as Dede and Everton Ribeiro has been enough to catapult them to champions elect. Yet it’s likely that Cruzeiro’s promising players will be picked off soon enough and they will have to start again. Meanwhile, Fluminense (1st in 2012) and Vasco da Gama (5th) are all in a relegation battle in 2013 due to tumultuous club politics. Again, without wishing to stereotype, the Brazilian game tends to be honed ‘na rua’ (‘in the street’) which isn’t necessarily conducive to the tactical rigidity often required in the Premier League.
Consequently, Brasileirão contains a fair sample of players who have tried their hand in the Premier League. It’s far too simplistic to say that Brazilians don’t “do” tactics, this is a nation with five World Cups after all. In truth, Brazil’s last two World Cup triumphs, in 1994 and 2002, weren’t achieved with anything close to the flair of the 1970 squad, who still leave a deep imprint on the popular perception of Seleção. Brazil has always been renowned for the flair that they have given the game. “Futebol art” and “jogo bonito” are football clichés applied to the nation. Yet Brazil are not as renowned as they ought to be for the quality of their “volantes” the Brazilian term for defensive midfielders. “O volante” literally means “the steering wheel.” Continue reading
George Roberts tries to make sense of Anderson de Silva, who made just one Premier League appearance for Everton…
Unusually for a Brazilian, the defensive midfielder Anderson de Silva started out his career overseas in Uruguay with Nacional, but came to Everton’s attention while playing for Racing Santander in Spain.
The saga of Anderson’s transfer to Everton in the summer of 2005 attracted far more column inches than his brief playing career at Goodison. Despite entering into an agreement with Racing, Everton found that the move was complicated by the fact that Nacional still held Anderson’s “commercial and federative rights.” The move was further complicated when it was found that Anderson did not possess an EU passport and, with no international track record, there was no chance of him receiving a work permit to play in England. Continue reading
Everton fan George Roberts tries to get to the bottom of Rodrigo’s short-lived Toffees career…
Not the most fashionable outfit in the Premier League (not that it ever stopped Middlesbrough), Everton’s first foray into the Brazilian transfer market was an unmitigated failure. Rodrigo Juliano arrived from Botafogo in the summer of 2002 on a curious £1.25 million temporary deal with an option for a permanent move at another £3 million.
The author, despite being a Blues fan himself, can remember nothing about Rodrigo. Internet sources on Rodrigo are equally sketchy. But for his brief Wikipedia page, you could be forgiven for doubting his existence. A bit of Googling brings us to a fansite, Everton-Mad. Austin Rathe, musing about a preseason game against Wrexham in August 2002, wrote:
‘My betting is that it will be Gravesen and Rodrigo as our two central midfielders, but it is as of yet unclear exactly how fit the Brazilian is.’
This would soon become very clear. Continue reading