The Vagaries of Managerial Fashion

Alastair Naysmith assesses the virtues of managerial attire…

Sat behind the dug out at Deep Dale recently my eye was constantly drawn, despite the entertaining football, to the sight of Paul Cook the Chesterfield Manager prowling the touchline. He was as animated and vocal as you’d expect from a former player-turned-manager, but what stood out most of all was his attire. Here was a 47-year old man whose job it is to inspire and direct his players, dressed in the kind of ridiculously baggy shorts more commonly seen on boxers, basketball players and hanging up on Nora Batty’s washing line.

As the teams went in at half time I wondered what kind of team talk he’d have to come up with not only to inspire his team to turn around the 3-1 scoreline but also to distract them from the fact that he looked like an over-competitive Dad on Sports Day. This is the bit where I eat my words; Chesterfield came out after half time and got a commendable 3-3 draw. While it is conceivable that the comeback had as much to do with Preston’s defence showing all the resistance of a FIFA delegate being offered a bribe, as it did with their inspirational management/fashion guru, their form this season does suggests that Cook is having a good effect on his team. Continue reading

Willian – a Chelsea cult hero… and a decent footballer


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

Editor’s Column: Moyes his own worst enemy, Mourinho the puppet master and Liverpool’s transfer woes


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.

Continue reading

Why Mata’s United arrival spells the end for Wayne Rooney


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

Maicon – from world-class to world-weary at Manchester City


Anis Bazza looks back at Maicon’s inglorious stay at Eastlands…

Maicon’s arrival in Manchester was certainly an odd one. City already boasted arguably the two best right-backs in the league at the time while Maicon’s career was dwindling towards an inevitable return to Brazil. Inter Milan’s desire to get his huge salary off the wage bill meant Mancini couped the ageing Brazilian for as little as £3m. City supporters weren’t without their doubts though as Maicon signed on deadline day.

Maicon started plenty of games for supposedly a third choice right back, including both Champions League clashes against Real Madrid. He was even drafted into his first game against Stoke. It didn’t take long for Blues to realize why Inter had sold him so cheaply. I guess it’s fair to say Mancini, who was familiar with Maicon during his time at Inter, underestimated the effect age had on the Brazilian’s power and pace, two attributes that are so typical of his game. Continue reading

Ramires – Chelsea’s Big-Game Brazilian


Daily Mail journalist Rik Sharma profiles Ramires, Chelsea’s big-game Brazilian…

Ramires is a divisive midfielder. While all of us appreciate his willingness to run through walls for the shirt, others chastise him for his erratic passing and errant decision making.

For every glorious vignette – and who could forget that chip which sailed mere centimetres over the outstretched arm of Victor Valdes, before nestling sweetly in Barcelona’s net? – there is a head-in-hands moment waiting to happen.

Ramires’s entire performance against Aston Villa away last season (all 44 minutes of it before he was sent off) verged on unwatchable. Late tackles, high feet, being dispossessed too easily, it highlighted his worst traits. Indeed, for months after his arrival many Chelsea fans were unsure of him. His passing in particular stood out as weak for a centre-midfielder, and even his energy seemed dampened by the weight of trying to adjust to the English game.

The question is: Does Jose Mourinho believe Ramires’s strengths outweigh his weaknesses? Continue reading

David Luiz – From Playstation Defender to Stamford Bridge Icon


Once mocked for being controlled by a 10-year old on his playstation, David Luiz grew into a central part of Chelsea’s European conquerors. Ramon Isaac looks back at his three years on English soil, and what the future may hold under Jose Mourinho…

The Untouchables are long gone, Mourinho has, if anything, made that abundantly clear to the new squad. Nonetheless, in the case of David Luiz, the new (and old) Chelsea manager has highlighted the swashbuckling Brazilian as a player with exceptional ability, a judgement that anyone who has seen Luiz play won’t take him long to deduce.

Perhaps more importantly, Mourinho has highlighted what the three previous Chelsea managers have – David Luiz is a centre back and that is the position he has the potential to become one of the very best at.

Since he arrived in the January transfer window in 2010, Luiz has first and foremost, provided an exceptional amount of entertainment. His first start against Fulham was the epitome of what was to follow. A marauding defender that looked more comfortable up front than most of the Chelsea front men as he hit an overhead kick cross into the box after finding himself doubling up as a left winger. In a season of little joy, David Luiz lifted the crowd with his enthusiasm and passion on the field; a trait that no one can deny the Brazilian international. Continue reading