Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Affluent European soccer team comes agonizingly close to winning two major trophies but falls just short! Equally affluent rival claims both! Oh soccer, you bizarrely wonderful world. Sport has always been torn in two directions: the idealists and the pragmatists. Some care about how a team plays, does it attack, will it win, while others care only about results. The two often come together, but not always.
Thus, when a team plays well but doesn’t win, what’s a club to do? If you’re Real Madrid, the answer is simple: sharpen your axes. Continue reading “The Perpetual Midlevel Management Crisis at Real Madrid” »
Bayern Munich has enjoyed a wonderful Bundesliga season to date. They’re top of the league despite an embarrassing loss to 2nd place Wolfsburg. They are also favorites to advance in their Champions League tie, despite tying the first-leg 0-0. However, for fans of beautiful soccer, not all is well in Munich. Why? Because of midfield. That’s why. And what hurts the most is that the players at fault are beloved, world-class veterans.
I speak, of course, of the Spaniard and the pig farmer. Continue reading “How Old is Too Old?” »
In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been pretty busy. I have a wife and two kids. I have a full time job. Thus, due to time constraints, Futfanatico is now officially a once-a-week blog. I say this because I hate it when a blog or site just disappears with no explanation. I also refuse to alter the long-ish style and oddness of my posts here – I could try and write two-paragraph, snappy, sarcastic responses to the daily news, but that’s what Dirty Tackle is for. Another pet peeve for me is when a crazy good site just turns into a link mini-post mill. Thus, for the record, I will be writing here once a week original posts not found elsewhere.
However, the biggest factor in my drop in time is that I have been writing elsewhere. Therefore, about once a month, I will post links to that writing. If you want to know about my writing elsewhere a bit quicker, follow me on twitter. Continue reading “Find my writing at these great sites……” »
In the darkest of places, in an abandoned mine well below the depths of Moria, in a hole so deep you can hear the echoes from past Chinese New Year celebrations, lurks the cave…and the “committee.” Kinda. In truth, the cave is not a cave, but rather a series of caves, a maze of blackness so black it sucks in light, chews it up, and doesn’t bother to spit it out. If you’ve ever been lost in an IKEA around closing time, you know the full scale of absolute terror felt in a seemingly never ending labyrinth. You could fit at least two and a half IKEAs in this cave complex, if not 3.
And In this vast expanse of cold air, stalagmites, stalactites, mineral water and leather chairs, a table sits. And at this table sits the committee. Continue reading “Top Secret Meeting of the Liverpool FC Transfer Committee” »
Free Darko. The Run of Play. The list of blogs worth reading shrinks every year. For six glorious years, Brooks Peck wrote irreverent and clever posts for the “Dirty Tackle” blog at Yahoo. In fact, I can recall the time before it was a Yahoo sports blog. I was very jealous of Brook’s neat WordPress theme and ability to digest and publish obscure soccer news before anybody else.
I was honored to write for Dirty Tackle about the bleak, last year of Raul Gonzalez’s career while in Germany at Schalke. As per DT style, the narrative form was a satirical diary, an exaggerated take on the possible inner person and workings of a player who we will never personally know, but upon whom we project certain characteristics and traits based on brief moments in time. Continue reading “The Dirty Tackle Blog is No More….” »
Oh, hello there. Dearest reader, I am going to write this post in first to second person. Why? Intimacy. Or at least the feeling of intimacy. You see, sometimes this cold, cold world of soccer journalism can feel foreign, icy, chilly, remote. Writers sometimes without a name or credit pen words where subjects precede verbs that are then followed by objects, with an adverb or adjective here or there. They talk about clubs and you ask yourself whether plural groups should be represented by singular or plural conjugations of verbs but it just gets a little stale. A bit old. A little not spicy. A bit trite.
But not today, Dearest reader (may I call you “Dearie”?). Today, just you and me, share a secret. Continue reading “Struggles of EPL teams in Europe are wholly unprecedented and lead to thoughtful root-and-branch analyses” »
For those who missed it, Francesco Totti scored a lovely goal vs. Manchester City in the Champions League. He ran onto a beautifully waited through-ball and delicately chipped the ball over Joe Hart. In Spanish, there are several terms for “chip.” Many say cucharita, which literally means “little spoon.” I’ve been told the Italian term is the same. In Mexico, it’s common to say picadita, which means “to chip” with a shovel. Others use the term globito, which means little balloon. Totti’s goal is a great example, and also a ray of light for every player over 35 – don’t sign up for that AARP membership just yet.
Elliott’s eBook, An Illustrated Guide to Soccer & Spanish, is available for $3.99 at Amazon, iTunes, & Barnes & Noble.
David Conn of the Guardian is a pretty sharp character. He’s written about financial irregularities in football for several years with clear prose and often original research. Still, I’m always intrigued at how different countries and people view “third party ownership.” In affluent Western European nations, clubs don’t lack for access to credit or cash or revenue, so there’s no need to pinch pennies. In less well-to-do places, though, like Portugal and Brazil, clubs often struggle to get cash to cover basic daily expenses. Many can’t even make payroll on a regular basis. That’s why when Nani got loaned back to Sporting, he insisted United cover his wages.
David recently wrote about Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes and here’s the bottom line: Mendes is an agent for players and often is an adviser and/or investor in firms who own a part of the player’s playing rights (which is legal in Portugal). The major criticism in David’s piece is that this is a possible “conflict of interest.” However, upon closer inspection, this claim falls apart. Continue reading “Jorge Mendes and Confusion about Conflicts of Interest” »
Several months ago, Awful Announcing had a great post about the “code words” used to describe most white NBA players. What’s most interesting about these terms is not that they are per se inaccurate, but rather that they gloss over and take for granted societal perceptions and assumptions. One has to ask: why do we focus on certain traits as exhibited by one race of athlete and ignore others? When Mario Balotelli first moved to England with Manchester City, I wrote a diatribe about “black athlete fetishism.” My basic point was that when a black athlete is a little bit quirky off the field or inconsistent on it, we invent these bizarrely complex and probably unfounded “mental issues” narratives much quicker than with, say, Kirk Hinrich.
Sadly, Super Mario is not alone. Yaya Toure has played beautiful soccer for Manchester City for years – Silva and Aguero and Nasri may provide the flash and goals, but City looks limp and lifeless without Yaya. Here’s the problem: Yaya is a fucking brilliant soccer player. Yes, he’s a fine specimen of an athlete. Yes, we watch sports to see and gawk and fawn over displays of athleticism. But what I love most about Yaya’s game is his snap and impeccable decision-making, his two-footedness (not a word….yet), his technique in both passing and shooting, and his awareness of teammates.
Others see something else. Continue reading “Yaya Toure and the Typecast Roles of Soccer” »
As you may have guessed, I live in Houston. The commute to work each day is brutal. I can feel a part of my soul die with each passing hour as I sit in my car, and not in the “Voldemort-hiding-his-soul-in-horicuxes” way – this is much more sinister and nefarious.
Luckily, there is quality audio entertainment. These fine talks talk pretty about futbol. Me talk pretty one day. Continue reading “Soccer Pod Links” »