When Florentino Perez hired Zinedine Zidane as manager, the prevailing narrative was simple: he had messed up the hiring of Rafa Benitez in the summer, and Zizou would play the part of the Di Stefano “player-coach” who filled in coaching gaps. Instead, he’s showed a touch of Del Bosque: a manager with a gift for managing egos and clear tactical ideas plus a bit of game-planning.
Which is why he will be fired much too soon by Real Madrid. Continue reading “Requiem for a Team” »
I really loved the year 2013. It was a great time for me. My wife got her papers and could finally come to the US and live with me. She also brought along my two stepchildren who have grown into beautiful, amazing, brilliant individuals who inspire me every day.
MORE IMPORTANTLY, I successfully Kickstarted a nonfiction book on the history of Real Madrid & Barcelona. A year before the Kickstarter, I acted as my own literary agent and “queried” the idea to some publishers in the US and even the UK. I actually got some decent responses and one face-to-face meeting. However, nobody pulled the trigger. I kinda sorta felt like a conspiracy: I was “liked” to death. Like, why are people so kind but then unwilling to pay me? My sister, a recovering TV producer (and mother), explained being “liked to death” is uber common in both LA and elsewhere. It happens. A lot.
Thus, one full (wasted) year after my idea, we Kickstarted, you supported me, you got your rewards, you were elated, and, two months later, I found out that Sid “Mother Fucking” Lowe was writing on the same topic. Understand that I write “Mother Fucking” as a compliment – Sid is boss. He is badass. He researches like an academic and interviews in that classic bipolar Oprah fashion that is 50% your best friend and 50% jaded civil rights attorney in a deposition. He gets access without selling out. He churns out more columns AND match recaps in a single day than I do in a month. I found out about Lowe’s project on a WSC forum, and thought: fuck me. Fuck me hard. Continue reading “Friends, enemies, shifting alliances – please give me your money. Right now.” »
Junito, aka the chele chulo, who you have watched on this blog grow and learn to walk and kick a ball, is on the cusp of finally getting his US passport. And we know what that means: he is only nine years old, but will be eligible for the US youth national teams and maybe someday the senior team. Junito has now lived in the US for four years (almost), speaks fluent English, and is addicted to Minecraft but still finds time for Lego Star Wars. The inside joke around these parts was that I was crafting and molding Junito to be the savior of Real Madrid, the Nica-Mexi-American Messi who would restore balance to the force.
Now that he’s on the cusp of official Americanness, though, there’s one major problem: he has quit soccer. Continue reading “Junito: the Dreaded “Deboot” Edition” »
The above picture recently surfaced of now retired Juan Roman Riquelme with Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano and Riquelme’s son. Arguably, Riquelme was one of the last enganches to excel in Europe and possibly the world. Of course, you ask, what exactly is an enganche?
Allow me to explain. Continue reading “Where have all the Enganches gone?” »
I still play FIFA 13 while sipping a fine glass of red wine, a melancholic gloom hanging over my head as my thumbs grow numb from the iPad slide-rule pass finger motions. I always play what is either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-1-1: Higuain gets the nod ahead of Benzema with Ozil underneath, Di Maria wide right, Ronaldo on the left, and Khedira and Alonso shielding the back four. I know that this team didn’t win the coveted Decima, but they did reach numerous Champions League semifinals and enjoy the best La Liga season for Madrid ever.
And they are no more. Continue reading “Watching Mou’s Madrid Unraveled From Afar” »
No, I won’t bother you with another “lynx” “links” pun. I do like that picture though. The holidays fast approach, which means my annual winter hibernation. I know, I know, I just got back in the three-posts-per-week swing of things, and Christmas comes around. I will miss writing for you as much as you will miss reading my writing, but there are cookies to bake, presents to wrap, and elves on shelves whose every nocturnal movement must be painstakingly planned and coordinated.
Fear not, though, because two great sites will entertain you and, of course, I will plug my two books. Continue reading “Some Serious Monday Morning Linkery” »
Haley’s comet passing. Blood moons. Summer solstice. For some incredibly momentous happenings, the usual currency of days, weeks, and months is an ineffective measure of time. Time is and always has been relative. Our own values and prejudices taint it. For example, the ancient Aztec calendar, known colloquially as the “Eagle Stone”, measured years in 18 months of 20 days. By that measure, Gareth Bale would have gone over four months between goals for Real Madrid, not three.
But I’m not here to mock. I’m here to celebrate. Continue reading “And on the 90th Day God said: “Bale Shall Score”….” »
I have no agenda against Rafa Benitez. Yes, I have pointed fun at his website, one dollar eBook, and zonal marking system and he did coach Liverpool, but I also recall his successful years at Valencia and think he’s a decent man. Still, a 0-4 loss at home in El Clasico to Barcelona is a pretty bad start to his tenure: not quite 0-5 at the Camp Nou, but pretty bad.
And more than a few things stand out. Continue reading “The Benitez Bad Aftertaste Clasico Recap” »
Sigh. The last five years have been pretty dreamy. No, not in the sense Real Madrid has won title after title. Rather, we’ve at least been close to winning title after title. We’ve been a respectable second place. After the depths of the Galactico era, this was a nice relief. Capello, Schuster and Mou coached teams to titles. More importantly, under Mou, Madrid started to sign and field coherent teams with strong player at every position. The Zidane y Pavon policy was discarded.
Then Carlo took over, let the horses run wild, and things got really fun. Continue reading “The Not Looking So Clasico Clasico” »