Latest Event Updates
Sam Allardyce is the new manager of England. He had his first press conference in the role yesterday. His announcement has evoked a range of reactions.
Robbie is not that impressed at all by the appointment.
Spencer offers an alternative perspective. Take a look. I shall have my own say on the matter very soon indeed.
C. L. J. Dryden
I really enjoy watching videos on the Ball Street channel. This debate is one of the reasons why – it’s good fan-led content. The subject matter itself is something I might come back to in the run up to the start of the season. Until then, however, I recommend you check them out. Enjoy.
C. L. J. Dryden
The European Championship has come to a close following last night’s victory by the Portuguese over the French. Here are my initial thoughts.
- Though some have complained that it’s been boring, I don’t agree, especially comparing it to other international tournaments in the last 30 years. It won’t go down as the best or most memorable international tournament, but it was an average one.
- The format for this tournament overall was good … if you like to see minnows reach the knock out stages. Personally I think it drags out the tournament unnecessarily and does not promote exciting attacking football.
- It’s strange to view a tournament where there are no stand out individuals. There were some who did well for themselves especially like Payet in the first part of the tournament, but overall no individual made this his tournament. Indeed most of the bigger players were underwhelming – that includes Bale who did well with the occasional set-piece, but didn’t take the tournament by the scruff of the neck as a player of his calibre could have.
- While no individual particularly made it his tournament, the focus of the team came to the fore. Some really solid team formations and displays decorated affairs. Iceland, Wales, Italy and in the final Portugal were great examples of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. That did not always make for ‘exciting’ football as those conditioned on the Premier League would observe, but it made for good viewing if your football tastes are a lot more European.
- Italy had a very good tournament despite getting knocked out by Germany. Especially in the light of what was expected of them. Their pacing through the tournament was exemplary. Their game management was exemplary. It was disciplined, tight, functioning properly and great to watch.
- A number of teams can be very disappointed with their performance in the tournament. The level of disappointment is fair considering the talent and quality available. As Italy knew how to make good use of their resources to manage a tournament well, these teams were poor in the use of their resources in capitulating at the earlier stages.
- The level of refereeing overall was good. The point of the guys on the goal-line remains questionable, but the officiating otherwise was fine.
- Portugal winning the tournament is a bit odd, but highlights the way you play tournament football. It’s not about playing the best football, it’s about doing what matters most at the key stages. In the final, as it turned out, losing Ronaldo to injury worked in their favour. They were solid defensively, the pressure was off them, they had a very positive and eager outlet in Nani. The winning goal was worthy of winning a game of football, scored at the right time of the game and thus deserving of winning the game.
- Meanwhile the hosts have only themselves to blame. All their major opponents had been eliminated, Portugal should hardly have posed a greater threat. Yet when it mattered most they were left wanting. Their key men in Pogba and Griezman did not produce good performances. Their game lacked dynamism and they left it too late to make the necessary changes. It’s a big missed opportunity too, because they really made the most of the home support up to that game, but it goes to show that in tournament football it’s what you do when it matters most that makes all the difference.
- One good thing that should also come out of this tournament is that with the possible exception of a player or two, this tournament will not lead to a rush of clubs splurging on players on the basis of their performances at this tournament. Hopefully clubs will have the sense to see that it was the team as a unit that impressed. To get the same outcome would require clubs to have managers who can create systems to fit those players – that will not always be the case. Thus clubs will be far more sensible in their transfer dealings this summer … Who am I kidding, right?
There is a nation I have not mentioned by name in this blog – that is deliberate. I will deal with England soon! Meanwhile I am grateful for the Euros this year. I enjoyed it more than I did four years ago. The anthems were a source of enjoyment. I felt the BBC edged it in terms of television presentation, though Slaven Bilic is a hero of punditry following his ITV appearances.
The Euros are good as well, because they are football in what would otherwise be an arid wilderness bereft of the game I love. With August thankfully being just round the corner, it won’t be long before the season starts and there is a lot to be fascinated about for what we are about to receive.
C. L. J. Dryden
Wowsers, it’s been a while since I last wrote about football – the game I love. There has been tons I could have written. That Leicester City story. That whole thing at Arsenal again. That Tottenham collapse. That mediocre season by Manchester City. That shambles at Chelsea. That inevitably disappointing season from Liverpool. As for England at the Euros … maybe I will write on that at some point.
Of all the fascinating aspects to write about, however, I was tickled to write about Mourinho at Manchester United. What a story. Oh the things I could write. This crops up particularly in the light of his first press conference recently. I watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it.
For the benefit of this article, let me set the record straight here and now. I am a big fan of Jose Mourinho. I acknowledge the aspects of his character and his career that rub people the wrong way. He is not a saint and I don’t agree with everything he has ever done. I am a fan of his, however, for the same reason I became a fan of Liverpool Football Club. I became a fan because at the time (1986) I was not bothered about local team, I wanted to follow the best team. Liverpool didn’t play the prettiest football or have the most glamorous players, but they did the one thing that attracted me to them – they won.
There have been managers who won before. Brian Clough made a habit of it for a few years. Don Revie gained a reputation for getting Leeds United into the habit for a few years too. However, with the exception of George Graham, the next guy to get greedy for trophies was Sir Alex Ferguson. For obvious reasons I was unlikely to start a fan club to that guy, although I readily acknowledge him to be the best in English football. Now the next contender for being into the trophy winning thing as a manager was Wenger. His football was refreshing, competing with United was great and the winning thing garnered my admiration.
Then came Mourinho. He had done it at Porto, he said he could do it at Chelsea, so he did it at Chelsea, he said he could do it at Inter Milan, so he did it at Inter Milan. By that time he had my attention. However he left Chelsea the first time, he was a winner and established Chelsea as a side that now expected to win. He took the winning mentality to Inter, Real Madrid and then back to Chelsea. Criticise all you like and sometimes justifiably, what is undeniable is that more than most of his peers, the man is a winner. I love that. That’s why I am a big fan of his.
There is no denying either that his second stint at Chelsea ended up worse than his first stint. Yet he still emerged with the reputation of a winner. He is a winner.
Manchester United used to win. They used to win the trophies that mattered. They competed for the trophies that mattered. They were a side that were set up to win like no English club before them. Success was intrinsic to their make up. So when Moyes didn’t get the memo, he was rightfully dismissed. Louis Van Gaal talked a better talk and had the bombast and bravado to suggest he could make the change, but essentially he himself failed. The FA Cup win was a noble gesture that came far too late. The season by United standards in performance and position was just not good enough.
The talk of the manager’s position for the best part of the season highlighted just how far the club had declined from its previous imperious position at the top of English football. They relieved LvG of his duties and looked for his replacement. Guardiola was committed to City. That left them with the man who apparently had been desirous to get the job for years. You can’t blame him either, in many ways they are made for each other. They are both committed to winning. United were stubborn and stupid not to have appointed him when Sir Alex retired, but it’s all turned out the better especially for Mourinho. They need each other, but Mourinho has won something significant in the last three years whereas United can hardly crow over winning the FA Cup even if it is a trophy they had forgotten how to win for the best part of a decade.
Mourinho’s first press conference was just the tonic for a club designed to win. Not for him the talk of making the top four. Not for him the conservative and cautious approach of just doing your best and hoping that was enough. He was clear in his desire to aggressively pursue everything there was to win. That sounded more like the Manchester United way that Ferguson had written into the fabric of the club far greater than even Busby had managed in his time at the club.
The petty types looking for their scraps to feed the feuds of Mourinho can talk about his digs at others. Yet the bigger picture is that the man has set himself the challenge of doing at United what he has consistently done in his career – win.
Whether he can do it is the issue, but I much prefer watching this unfold than the mediocre efforts of his two predecessors. It makes for more compelling viewing of the game I love to watch.
C. L. J. Dryden
I came across this and was duly intrigued by it. Thus it is worth sharing.
C. L. J. Dryden
I watched the film yesterday and I was suitably impressed. I went into the film with high expectations and it exceeded them. I could go on and do my own review, but to be fair Chris Stuckmann has done a review that shares my own thoughts on the matter very well. He absolutely nails it.
C. L. J. Dryden
Is he a great? No question. Are these his greatest? That’s a good question. What do you think?
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden