November 19 links – ending the week on a quiet noteBy Alberta Gooner | November 18th, 2010 | Category: Daily Links, Featured Posts, Lead Article, Soccer | 41 comments
Buried at the bottom of When Saturday Comes’ round-up of the press reaction in France to the friendly win was this little gem.
“If you wondered where Blanc’s widely ridiculed predecessor was on the day of the game, L’Equipe provided the answer. They tracked down Raymond Domenech to a small town south-west of Paris, where he spent Wednesday afternoon coaching a local Under-11 side. “It’s not easy to go back to working with kids when you’ve been at the top,” said Jacques Migaud, president of the football division of Athletic Club de Boulogne-Billancourt. “He’s here every Wednesday. He does it for free.” You might say he’s found his level.”
Well done to James Eastham.
Piers Edwards wonders why west Africa seems to dominate the rest of the continent when it comes to individual gongs as well as performances in international tournaments.
It’s a pretty strong field for African Player of the Year but Didier Drogba edges for me over Samuel Eto’o. Asamoah Gyan and Dede Ayew both had fine World Cups but are eclipsed at the club level by the big Chelsea frontman and pacy Inter hitman, both of whom have credible claims as the best striker in world football.
And finally Daniel Taylor wonders what kind of reception awaits Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford?
Despite the prescence of several new faces in the starting XI, the Three Lions performed with the same old comic ineptitude that marked their exit from South Africa.
Oh for the days of Sven-Goran Eriksson, with his stodgy tactics and reliable quarterfinal exits that masked the technical deficiencies of his players, eh? Rather than the glorious blood-splattered failures of Sir Bobby Robson’s sides, England have regressed to the Turnip Taylor “Do I not like that” era of hopeful, aimless punts up the park towards Carlton Palmer and serial bottling.
Fleet Street’s postmortems, as always, provided a good deal more entertainment than England’s brand of hoofball, sounding an awful lot like a post-traumatic stress support group, with a little primal scream therapy thrown in. Richard Williams’ bleak assessment of Capello’s tactics was echoed through the blogosphere and fishwraps.
As for France, James Horncastle cast the performance as a promising sign of the progress made under Laurent Blanc. With oppponents as incompetent as England, though, it’s hard to see Wednesday’s result as a reliable barometer any more seeing a tonking the Faroe Islands as an omen for future success.
As for the future, well, Phillip Cornwall — who paid to sit in the drizzle and watch that mess and thus merits a link — suggests the calls for Capello’s ouster are misplaced because he doesn’t have much to work with.
Some quick observations:
1. Many of the has-beens and never-weres in the press box slated the performance of Kieran Gibbs, who has made all of four appearances with his club this season (the last one being 19 minutes in a Carling Cup match before getting injured nearly a month ago). How about reserving judgment chaps? And while we are on the subject, who was offering that kid any protection from Bacary Sagna bombing down the pitch. (and — GASP — delivering decent balls into box — WTF!?!?!!?!) The slow-footed, slow-witted Gareth Barry? James Milner? Yes, the England midfield put in its usual gormless shift, wandering aimlessly around the pitch when they weren’t gifting possession back to the French.
2. If you are going to bring players into the team, why play them out of position? Jordan Henderson and Phil Jagielka were badly miscast so it’s impossible to make judgments about them.
3. There were as many Arsenal players starting for England as France. And Jack Wilshere would have been in the XI when healthy. So it’s now time to retire the notion that Arsene Wenger doesn’t like England players. He just needed to find them young enough to teach them proper technique. Oh and Emmanuel Frimpong might be a better holding option than anything currently available to Capello. Doing his ACL in the pre-season might have hurt England more than Arsenal.
4. The only club with more England players than Arsenal was Manchester City, who spent more than 60 pounds on the trio of James Milner, Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott. And based on last night’s performances, it’s hard to imagine that either the slow-footed, slow-witted Barry or Lescott (on whom Sparky Hughes spent 24 million quid — just stop and ponder that for one second) will ever represent England again.
5. Any club who needs a striker may find Karim Benzema quite useful.
6. While Liverpool will — quite justifiably — rage about Steven Gerrard picking up a needless injury in a pointless friendly that was already lost, they can take comfort in the performance of reported Comolli target Yann M’Vila. The 20-year-old Rennes midfielder was everything that his English counterparts weren’t: composed on the ball, disciplined in his positioning, polished technically and a sound distributor of the ball. With all of these qualities leaving Anfield this summer following the sale of Javier Mascherano sold and Alberto Aquilani’s loan deal with Juventus, M’Vila will be a welcome addition. Perhaps they can pick up Benzema on the cheap as well.
7. For those who bemoan the lack of top players in England, two of the most accomplished performers on Wednesday — Florent Malouda and Samir Nasri — play in England. That they can’t play FOR England says a good deal more about the problems at the youth level than the presence of foreign stars in the Premier League limiting the development of domestic players.
8. It shouldn’t be a stretch for this tactically witless group to adapt to ‘arry Redknapp’s no-whiteboard coaching style after the FA releases Capello from his misery.
A tip of the hat to blog regular EverWonTheTreble for the delightful link to Rafael Van Der Vaart’s interview about the tactical, erm, nuances of ‘arry Redknapp. After reading the piece three times, I’m still not sure whether VDV was trying to compliment or subtly critique his gaffer. It certainly reinforces some stereotypes about Fleet Street’s loose-lipped wheeler-dealer with the other notable one being (PARAGRAPH DELETED BY SOFABALL’S OVERLY SENSITIVE LEGAL DEPARTMENT) which is why Pompey supporters always called the striker Bung-ani.
But on a day where the tactical nous of England’s future manager (well subject to being cleared of those pesky allegations made by Her Majesty’s tax collectors in an open courtroom), much of the press attention was focused on the lame-duck manager, a Johnny Foreigner whose obsession with issues such as “lifestyle”, “tactics” and other Continental oddities have been roundly condemned for the Three Lions insipid display in South Africa. Having failed to coax any inspiration out of England’s golden (cough) generation, Fabio Capello has turned to the best and brightest produced by football’s mother country. And Andy Carroll. However, Isidore Lewis questions whether Capello’s newfound youth movement is the right approach to cure the malaise of the Three Lions.
Meanwhile, Paul Doyle suggests Capello’s French counterpart Laurent Blanc — also known as Larry White in the GMA — is well ahead of Capello in rehabilitating South Africa 2010’s other overhyped train wreck.
One of the new faces is 20-year-old Mamadou Sakho from Paris Saint-Germain, a club enjoying a revival of sorts this season. James Horncastle discusses the reasons behind it.
Not to belabour a point, but Paolo Bandini lauds Alberto Aquilani’s polished performance against his old club and his mixed feelings about it.
After Gerard Houllier’s underwhelming start at Villa Park, I questioned whether he was the right man to oversee the necessary cost-cutting measures while blooding youth players into the team. Marc Albrightson’s progress was expected — he looked quite bright in his cameos last year but Barry Bannan’s assured performance against United suggests Houllier understands what he’s doing. I’d bracket Bobby Pires’ signing in this category. According to Arsene Wenger, Pires — who has been training with Arsenal’s first team — can still play Premier League football. He’s a clever veteran who lives right and should help on and off the pitch. It’s exactly the type of signing that Villa needed — an inexpensive graybeard who adds some experience and depth to a very thin, young squad. Well done, Gerard. Now for the sake of my boy, please don’t buy Michael Owen. Far better to give young Nathan Delfouneso some PT. And please don’t re-sign that greedy twat Nigel Reo-Coker for 40k per week. If he doesn’t accept 30k (still too much IMHO), sell him and turn to Fabian Delph. There’s far too many O’Neill signings on big wages who didn’t produce.
Enough free advice and let’s move to the links, where the ever-excellent Swiss Ramble chronicles the falling fortunes of Ajax Amsterdam off the pitch.
Zonal Marking’s Michael Cox documents how Sunderland turned over Chelsea.
Note the tackling stats — Chelsea clearly missed Michael Essien’s bite in midfield.
After watching the loss to Stoke, Ian Macintosh pities Liverpool supporters forced to watch Roy Hodgson’s hoofball. Macintosh’s call for change is backed by Paul Tomkins and Dan Kennett, whose statistical analysis of the first 13 games is almost as brutal as Macintosh’s prose. Almost.
Tactics guru Michael Cox dissects the weekend’s action in the Premier League, focusing on Joe Hart’s longball distribution, Steven Pienaar’s failure to track back, Stewart Downing’s dangerous crosses and Kieran Richarson’s stifling of Ashley Cole.
Some general notes from the games I watched this weekend:
Aston Villa were the better side and a little unlucky to only draw but United’s comeback was impressive and a sure sign they will be around right to the bitter end. I was very surprised Vidic stayed on the pitch after his celebration after his goal, which should have earned a second yellow card but sometimes you need a little luck. David Pleat rightly highlights the potential of Marc Albrightson.
Rather than punishing myself by watching City’s draw with Brum, I should have simply read gorn’s analysis of their problems and cleaned the garage.
Arsenal’s win at Everton was deserved and a good omen, but there’s a few caveats. First, Fabregas continues to give away the ball. I’ll bet at least 10 passes wound up with blue shirts. Two, they completely took their foot off the gas for the last 20 minutes and it wound up nearly costing them dearly. Three, Fabianski and Djourou, two oft-maligned figures, were their MOTM. Four, it’s frustrating, no, it’s infuriating, to cast their gritty away performances this season against flaccid home form displayed against two promoted clubs. Perhaps clubs are more willing to play a little more openly against the Gunners at their home grounds but I saw a lot more bottle against Everton than some Arsenal players displayed against WBA or Newcastle. Let’s see how they respond against Spurs at the Emirates this weekend.
I’m going to spare the blog’s Liverpool contingent my analysis of the Stoke City match. The less said, the better. One curious thing, though. Roy Hodgson was apparently at the Stade Rennes match scouting Yann M’vila, a highly rated 15-million-pound central midfielder who is 19 or 20. Wouldn’t it make sense to look at getting some help up top for Torres or another winger rather than another central midfielder when you’ve got enough players already at that position and you are playing Raul Meireles out of position? The second point is given the respective performances of Alberto Aquilani, who is having a stormer with Juve, and Christian Poulsen, who can kindly be called wretched, is it fair to suggeset that shipping off the Italian and bringing in the Dane to Anfield can be called mistakes?
I also watched the Milan derby and was shocked by the results. So, too, was Paolo Bandini. Michael Cox also gives an interesting breakdown of this match. Inter look very jaded and highly reliant on Samuel Eto’o or Wesley Sneijder to conjure up something from nothing.
Finally, Gabriele Marcotti explains why Russia remains in the second-tier of European leagues despite spending a lot of money to bring in high-profile foreign stars.