The Re-Education or Miseducation of Pep Guardiola?

Pizza. Pizza was the key. For all the smart and well thought-out words about Leicester City’s run to an unlikely EPL title, only one fact was undeniable: Italian manager Claudio Ranieri treated his players to pizza parties. If the team got a clean sheet, then Ranieri would take his players to Peter Pizzeria – and he obliged them to make their own pizza.

The EPL is a cruel, intense dog-eat-dog world, and a place where only player-eats-pizza tactics can work. The strong devour the weak, along with some pasta and plenty of Olive oil.

So how come nobody told Pep Guardiola? Continue reading “The Re-Education or Miseducation of Pep Guardiola?” »

In the News and What Not…

I remind you that I am technically on a “blogger break“, but spoiled you with some cutting and amusing blog posts as an early summer treat.Thus, this is a link post when I usually hate link posts, but, hey, gotta spread that PageRank love before Facebook trending renders all this hard “work” obsolete.

To that end, VICE Sports published my reported feature that looked up close at the Olympic Stadium deal in London. Basically, it was bad (the deal, not my reporting), and, after a thorough examination, may be worse than reported. What’s funny for me is the fact-checking brigade: as someone who sent FOI requests to lots of places in London, I am well aware of the complex web of legal entities behind the stadium. I also aware that “London” can mean many different things because I hounded police departments all over that town/area/region/metropolis.

Basically, writing a reported feature for a savvy and sophisticated audience in London (the metropolitan area) and also general interest Americans is tough because we speak a similar language with nuanced differences. When I reported on the stadium scandal in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, I faced the same deal: lots of sub-municipalities and local governments were also involved, but I said “Monterrey” because the layreader will get it and I wanted my cousins to slide into my DMs and send me angry emails. Which they did. Continue reading “In the News and What Not…” »

What if Donald Trump Bought Your Soccer Club?

Lots of people hate Americans. As an American, I always like to think that, like, Americans are a diverse group of people with different tastes, political beliefs, and values (to an extent). Thus, you can hate some of us, but not all of us. Still, people hate Americans. And I can kinda understand why.

Look at what Hicks & Gillett did to Liverpool. Or the Glazers to United. Sadly, the American businessmen who go abroad and look to personally profit off a nice, juicy, large business with big revenue streams are precisely the last person you would ever want anywhere near anything you care about in anyway. I would not let the Glazers dogsit my dog for two hours. A lot of bad things can happen in 120 minutes, after all.

And then I thought of an absolute nightmare. Continue reading “What if Donald Trump Bought Your Soccer Club?” »

The Champions League Final and the Boy Who Would Be King

Many years ago, I wrote this piece on Dirk Kuyt for this odd thing called a “soccer blog” and that many people named “the Run of Play.” The premise was simple: Dirk Kuyt, then at Liverpool, was really slow, but worked really hard, and scored ugly goals from time to time. This was back in 2009. Kuyt was a stark contrast to Liverpool’s other striker at the time, Fernando “El Nino” Torres, who ran like the wind and scored goals with the same ease as you and I blink.

Yet seven years later, things have flipped. Continue reading “The Champions League Final and the Boy Who Would Be King” »

A Little Bit of a Peptalk

Everybody is writing about the Champions League, but I still have my two cents to give. In particular, Pep Guardiola, my arch nemesis (as a Madrid fan), has come under criticism that is both unjust and kinda ridiculous. Of course, Pep does not get along with every single player ever, insists on a certain aesthetic to his teams, and has not won every single trophy ever.

Still, despite his flaws, he’s a damn good manager. But let’s go past the hot hair in written form you’ve read (skimmed) elsewhere, and look at the issues a bit closer. Continue reading “A Little Bit of a Peptalk” »

Extended Dialogue Trying to Make Sense of a Team Winning a Trophy

Q: Are you trying to tell me that a soccer club based in England recently won a trophy that is awarded based on a points total after a 38 game season? Surely this has never happened before and cannot possibly be true.

A: Yes

Q: So, unlike, say, our perfectly meritocratic BCS Championship Series for college football, those zany Brits have a regular season but don’t have any playoff at the end or something similar? What is wrong with those mofos?

A: That is correct.

Q: So, if I am to take what you have said as true and then take what I read on the internet at face value – a dangerous proposition – this Leicester (mispronounced) City has accumulated a sum of points from both drawing and winning games for the prior nine months.

A: Yes. Continue reading “Extended Dialogue Trying to Make Sense of a Team Winning a Trophy” »

A Scientific Inquiry into the EPL Fandom of one Rapper “Drake”

Good evening, good sir or madam. As the foremost expert on North American celebrities who are also fans of teams in the EPL, I face a quandary. As you know, Leicester City sit atop the EPL standings to the delight of many and largely because their Italian coach throws the team pizza parties when not ordering the striker to not practice finishing.  You rightly ask: if this team is successful, then why has Drake, the Canadian rapper who constantly gets unexpectedly sexually assaulted (twerked upon sans consent) in music videos, not yet taken a picture with them?

Luckily, in pouring over results from a prior study, I believe that I have found the answer to said question. And learned quite a bit about Drake’s true allegiances. Continue reading “A Scientific Inquiry into the EPL Fandom of one Rapper “Drake”” »

The Flaws of a Fallen Angel Narrative

Sporps writing today. Bloody hell. In February, SB Nation published and then deleted a detailed feature on Brian Holtzclaw, the cop convicted of several counts of rape. The story suffered from a fatal flaw: the desire to humanize a serial rapist and abuser of public trust by detailing the convicted rapist’s past sporting accomplishments. The attempts to a) possibly explain his atrocious actions and/or b) cast doubt on his guilty were less than half-hearted – they were insulting to anyone with a brain. Of course his family doesn’t think he’s guilty. Lots of athletes suffer injuries, and concussions, and don’t get drafted by the NFL, and don’t prey sexually on the weak under the color of law.

Yet this got me thinking more generally about sports writing, reporting, and a recent feature on Adam Johnson. Continue reading “The Flaws of a Fallen Angel Narrative” »

When We Knew that LVG had just Kissed Death as United Coach

It’s sad when a relationship ends, even when you’ve been with a defensive rooster of a man who seemed iconoclastic at first but has withered in conviction with age. A serious late season charge could still save Louis Van Gaal’s job at United, but with Mou lurking and Woodward silent, the writing seems to be on the wall.

Or, rather, in the British dailies. Continue reading “When We Knew that LVG had just Kissed Death as United Coach” »

Manchester United Comfortably Beats a Decent Team

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Yesterday, Manchester United played at Old Trafford and went head-to-head with the Pep Guardiola castaway player reclamation project aka Barney Ronay’s beautiful dark twisted fantasy aka Stoke City. Manchester United score goals and won.

This surprised many. Continue reading “Manchester United Comfortably Beats a Decent Team” »