International fandom is often looked down upon, not surprisingly. For centuries, we’ve clung to the nation-states based on geography as the cornerstone of individual and collective identity. We were born in X place. We are citizens of X place. We belong to, and praise, X place. For the last century, sports followed society and ergo fans followed teams based on geography.
Enter the 21st century. Technology, such as cable TV and the internet, has allowed individuals to follow and love clubs regardless of geographic location. Soccer has grown in the US thanks to a solid domestic league but also the exposure of the top European teams. Yet, there’s still a problem: the top games, Champions League fixtures, are played on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons at about 2:00 central time in the US. They are played on work-days. Even worse, the timing means a fan can’t take a super long lunch.
Oddly, and purely coincidentally, these fixtures have started to coincide with a unique strain of illnesses causing fans to miss work on said dates and at said times. Here’s a helpful list of these emerging illnesses: Continue reading “Top Ten Mysterious Illnesses that Afflict American Fans During Champions League Fixtures” »
Millions spent on players. A new successful South American coach. A club not far removed from trophy-filled seasons. In 2004, Real Madrid believed they’d found perfect mix and hired the right man, Brazilian Vanderlei Luxemburgo. He arrived with fresh ideas for a talented but aging roster. Among them, the “magical boxes.” After the team’s strong finish to 2004, the team collapsed in the first half of 2005. The tactical revolution was a retrogression. Vanderlei got fired.
Flash forward a decade. A petro-dollar team in the EPL hires a South American coach famous for….magical boxes. In many ways, Pellegrini’s tactical ideas eerily mirror Vanderlei’s tactics at Madrid. Why did one collapse, while the other is thriving?
A close look shows that players can be shifted to fit tactics, but it’s not always for the best. Continue reading “Tactics Talk: Roster and Roles in the 4-2-2-2” »
Recently, Manchester City played Chelsea in a battle to top the Premier League and best characterized as a catfight involving Louie V handbags filled with diamonds. Ironically, Jose Mourinho complained that Manchester City were spending loads of money, and then stated that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play just may not dole out severe enough punishments. Two years ago, a handsome young chap who pens posts at unheralded (but award winning) soccer blog Futfanatico said about Financial Fair Play:
There [is one] simple fact: FFP needs teeth.
As FFP begins to take effect, we’ll see just how sharp those teeth can be. I, for one, am cynical. I see three possible outcomes from Financial Fair Play. None of them are pleasant. Continue reading “Financial Fair Play: Blogger Predicted Easily Predictable Outcome” »
Remember that lovely soccer magazine you and I Kickstarted not so long ago? Well, gasp, a year has passed. During that time, they, Howler magazine (remember!), have reached 5,000 subscribers and published four glorious issues. One of the best parts of Howler Mag is the timeline, which is a chronology of a major club that is a delicious mix of eccentric and essential facts, cool pictures, and some seriously mad design skillz.
In Issue 4, guess who wrote the Real Madrid timeline? Continue reading “A Howling Good Time” »
If the clasico could be trademarked, it’d be worth millions. If it was publicly traded (like Manchester United), I’d buy some shares. Why? Well, in the past few months, Microsoft talked about buying nonexistent “naming rights” to the Bernabeu, Barca wants to expand or move out of the Camp Nou, and they recently signed an “inside the shirt” deal with Intel. The club called this deal “innovative.” In sum, both the Spanish clubs are great at soccer, but also money-making machines.
Technically, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are both owned by socios, but, in reality, they are multinational corporations. They are heavily in debt, but have enough total annual revenue to not sweat it. Still, many can remember a time when Barca refused to even sell the front of their shirt, let alone the inside liner. Here’s a trip down memory lane as we mark the emergence and eventual dominance of the “sponsorship” model in soccer. Continue reading “The Classic Co. – How Did We Get Here?” »
For a sought after manager paid millions per year, Jose Mourinho has a bad rap. In sum: many think he’s a shortsighted taskmaster. They point to Inter Milan’s fall from grace as proof that, despite a treble-winning season, he ran the team into the ground. Some claim he picks a Starting XI, will make good subs, but rails to properly rotate and blood young talent. Of course, another interpretation is that Mou at Inter got the best out of a veteran squad even if his signings (Mancini, Quaresma?) did not blossom. His Chelsea squad also won the EPL title, UEFA Cup and Champions League after he left.
Let’s look closer at Mou and, with this knowledge, reflect upon Real’s current travails. Continue reading “The Dreaded Post-Jose Mourinho Hangover” »
You follow the news. You know that somebody took a picture of Jack Wilshere holding a cigarette outside a nightclub. I won’t bore you with the trite “Athletes are role models/I like to watch cocky, irresponsible assholes” debate. We lampooned it before. Rather, another angle to the Wilshere story caught my eye.
In response to Wenger’s criticisms, Jack Wilshere’s representative claimed that he was holding the cigarette as part of a prank and did not in fact smoke. Presumably, his representative said this because Jack couldn’t say such bs with a straight-face during a presser. Aside from being a lie, this excuse tramples over the intellectual property of former US President Bill Clinton, who famously “put a joint to this lips but didn’t inhale.”
Yawn. Here are some much better excuses Wilshere’s rep could have cooked up. Continue reading “Arsenal Player Jack Wilshere Steals Page from Bill Clinton Playbook” »
Puns make the world go ’round. Or at least fill the front pages of the British sports dailies. Still, puns often come to as in very ad hoc fashion – to date, no scientific categorization or organization of puns, at least in football matters, has been completed or even attempted. As the self-appointed guardian of universal knowledge, I aim to rectify this deficiency.
With a mad assist to the excellent Fisted Away, I now present a breathtaking analysis of puns involving England’s goaltender Joe Hart. Continue reading “The Obligatory Joe Hart Error Post In Which I Exhaust Every Conceivble Pun Involving His Last Name” »
Real Madrid has finally purchased Gareth Bale for a world record 100 million euros. Of course, to finance the deal they had to sell fan favorite Mesut Ozil to Arsenal for 42 million euros. Thus, at Bale’s presentation, more than a few Real Madrid fans whistled in disapproval. Of course, this colossal sum for a goalscoring winger with a wicked burst of pace is similar to the CRon deal, but also reminds me of some other past deals.
Looking at past Galacticos (and some non-Galacticos) and with cynical madrileno fans in mind, I’ve concocted a list of other transfers/deals we could have done with that money. Continue reading “The Top Ten Transfers Real Madrid Could Have Made with the Bale Money” »
UEFA is a big deal. They organize a somewhat well-known club competition and even a few national team tournaments from time to time. A few years ago, I blogged about my soccer playing toddler. The premise was simple: he would someday star for Real Madrid. I created and uploaded to YouTube a nifty video of his highlights interspersed with highlights of slightly more well known Real Madrid players.
The video was live for a glorious two weeks before the copyright trolls came knocking…. Continue reading “UEFA Cowers Before Might of Amateur Soccer Blogger” »