I've squared up to Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira in my time but I've never done anything quite as scary as Derby's team bonding session yesterday. Our boss Nigel Clough took us to Swanage, where we were led down a path to a cliff ledge 40 feet above the sea. Then we had to plunge into the water below.
Friday, July 23, 2010
For Roma, though, who came so close to landing the title last season, spending a lot of money on a salary for a player as unpredictable as Adriano is undoubtedly a risk.
If you consider that Germany is the biggest, wealthiest nation in Europe and that professional football is strongly linked to economic power, the Bundesliga has been punching well below its weight in recent years.
The East London club has submitted a bid to take over the stadium in conjunction with Newham Council as part of a process being overseen by the Olympic Park Legacy Company. AEG, the operator of the O2, was also one of more than 100 parties to register an interest.
Soon to be vacant...?
Compared to the Euros, Fifa's global cash-cow keeps big teams apart and encourages negative football - it's time to make it a 16-team tournament again.
Thierry Henry introduced himself to New York with a flourish.
All it took was one moment and one goal to reveal Henry's class in Thursday night's 2-1 defeat to Tottenham at Red Bull Arena.
Thierry Henry scored his first goal in a New York Red Bulls jersey against his old rivals Tottenham Hotspur, but the North London club capitalized on some poor defending in the second half through The rest of the game played like an exhibition and the Red Bulls reserves struggled in attack and Tottenham was content to play defense.
The new season is nearly upon us and Off The Ball will be scratching around the underbelly of professional football for some bizarre and often inexplicable revelations every step of the way.
This week we have Xavi's latest efforts for the Barcelona PR machine, an Index that has nothing at all to do with Fabio Capello, the invasion of the vuvuzela into the Premier League and some new kits to gawp at.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Referees will be assisted by two linesmen and two further officials in each penalty area.
The 18-year-old is the youngest player to have donned the colours of the Dragons. He featured in a cup game against Sertanense at the tail end of 2009 and impressed. He has since signed a professional deal for the Portuguese side with a buy-out clause set at €30m. Has been known, already, to indulge in bouts of histrionics on the field despite his talent.
Roberto Mancini has admitted that the premium price Manchester City are expected to pay for players because of their vast wealth is posing a problem as he tries to build a side capable of challenging for the Premier League title.
The 27-year-old admits it was wrench parting company with the Premier League outfit, especially after they helped to nurse him back to full health following a horrific injury.
Eduardo suffered a badly broken leg during a meeting with Birmingham in February 2008, halting him in his tracks and preventing him from making the most of his time in England.
Rio's mayor is convinced that visitors will have nothing but a great time in his city. "Rio de Janeiro will be ready for the World Cup. People should come, because if they don't they will be missing a great party", Mr Paes says.
Harry Redknapp believes Tottenham Hotspur have a realistic chance of challenging for the Premier League title this season.
Fulham had been optimistic of securing Jol's services as the replacement for Roy Hodgson, who has joined Liverpool, and they were so far down the line with the deal for the Dutchman that he had even agreed personal terms on a three-year contract at Craven Cottage.
Liverpool made a low-key start to life under Roy Hodgson, with new signing Joe Cole looking on from the sidelines as his team-mates drew 0-0 in the friendly with Grasshoppers in Zurich.
Thierry Henry has spoken of the frustration he felt during France's ill-fated World Cup campaign. Appearing as a guest on ESPNSoccernet Press Pass, the 32-year-old said he felt "powerless" during the tournament, which ended at the group stage for les Bleus.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
During the 13 months Jones was out injured, he switched international allegiances from Germany, which he represented at the youth level, to the United States, where his father is from. However, the tough-tackling midfielder could not recover from his shin injury in time to represent the USA before the 2010 World Cup.
When asked to name his heroes, rather than opting for Brazilian footballers such as Pele and Garrincha, he picked John Lennon and Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara - like Socrates, a trained doctor.
In his retirement, he has added a doctorate in philosophy and fathered six children, and he continues to practice medicine in the town of Ribeirao Preto in addition to being a commentator on both football and cultural issues. He is currently writing a novel.
After years of frustration the free-transfer signing of the summer is aching to prove himself once again.
Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema, both of whom deny any wrongdoing, face up to three years in prison if convicted.
Ribéry is married and has two children. He has admitted having sex with Dehar, but insists he was unaware of her age.
Xavi exclusively told the Daily Express: “We know where Cesc wants to be this coming season, but perhaps there is not enough time for Barcelona and Arsenal to agree a deal.
“Arsenal need to understand they are only delaying the inevitable. If we don’t manage to get his signature this season then Arsenal only really have him on loan for a year – because there is nothing they can do to stop him joining next summer.”
If you are wondering what the fuss is all about over Mario Balotelli, you probably have not been paying too much attention to Italian soccer in the past three seasons. Despite being left out - no, make that ignored - by Marcello Lippi for the World Cup, Balotelli is probably Italy's most exciting young talent at the moment and a certain member of new Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli's squads for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers.
"Freddie is a great player and he brings energy onto the field. Every time he plays on the field he plays with energy. For us as a team, you have to judge how we play with him or without him"
A return to modeling...??!!
On Thursday, Henry, wearing his familiar No. 14 jersey, will make his debut for the Red Bulls against Spurs at Red Bull Arena in the first match of the New York Football Challenge. Manchester City plays Sporting Lisbon on Friday night, then there is a doubleheader Sunday when the Red Bulls play City and Tottenham faces Sporting.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Football clubs have been proudly unveiling their new strips for the forthcoming season - but among them are a few horror shows.
Here The Independent picks out a few of this season's worst offenders and look back at some of the ugliest kits in living memory.
The Freddie Ljungberg situation has been another real distraction. The former Swedish international hasn't seemed like the happiest of campers this year, and now he's practically disappeared with little explanation. Schmid's claims of a mysterious ankle injury don't wash when follow-up questions about Ljungberg's whereabouts and status elicit a "no comment."
And while the Ljungberg drama plays out, management must answer for another choice that now looks awful: leaving Sebastien Le Toux exposed in last November's expansion draft.
Widespread reports on Monday said Eduardo would move to Shakhtar in a £6 million deal, and Bilic has now backed the Brazil-born Croatia international to succeed in the Ukraine.
Spain or Barcelona? No contest. Week in, week out, Barcelona combine the midfield interplay of Xavi and Iniesta with the cutting edge of Lionel Messi, Daniel Alves and co.
The comparison serves to confirm the impression that these days club football is of a much higher standard than international - as long as we restrict the debate to the major European leagues.
Steven Gerrard has all but confirmed he is to remain at Liverpool by expressing his delight at the prospect of playing alongside Joe Cole at Anfield next season and with the plans of Roy Hodgson, the new manager.
As the memory of the World Cup slowly fades away, thoughts of the new season begin to creep into the consciousness, almost despite oneself. Over here in Spain, all the top-flight teams are back in training, minus their World Cup heroes, of course, and the pre-season transfer tittle-tattle is starting to occupy the sports pages.
Monday, July 19, 2010
The 28-year-old England international has moved on a free transfer after his contract with Chelsea expired at the end of June. He had also been linked with Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, who will both compete in the Champions League next season, but has chosen instead to move to Anfield where he becomes the second signing of the summer after Milan Jovanovic, the Serbian winger who joined from Standard Liège earlier this month, also on a free transfer.
Chicago needed to shake up its squad to reverse the course of its increasingly disappointing 2010 campaign.
Nery Castillo should adequately address that desire after he joined the Fire as a Designated Player on Saturday. Whether he can also perform well enough to push the Fire back on course remains an open question.
Martin Jol, the former Tottenham manager, is on the verge of filling the vacancy left by Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson at Fulham after just one season at Dutch league runners-up Ajax.
The league average attendance this season is roughly 16,000 people per game and ticket sales have grown by almost 10% compared to the 2009 figures. Given that the MLS was founded in 1993, the growth of the league is impressive.
Avram Grant continued his rebuilding programme at West Ham United with the signing of the French striker Frédéric Piquionne and the Mexico winger Pablo Barrera.
Piquionne, 31, spent last season playing for the new Hammers manager while on loan at Portsmouth. He has joined for an undisclosed fee from Lyon on a three-year deal. Barrera arrives in a £4m deal from Pumas after the 23-year-old received his work permit yesterday.
Throughout the first half of Arsenal's traditional pre-season opener against Barnet on Saturday, a prominent banner in the away end bore the simple, blunt and unsubtle legend of "Barca f**k u". Though naturally far more articulate in his post-match huddle with the press, Arsene Wenger adopted a similarly defiant tone when attempting to bring to an end Barcelona's interest in Cesc Fabregas.
The message ‘Il calcio è un divertimento,’ (football is entertainment), has been added to promote fair play and replaces the club’s previous shirt sponsor Toyota for the upcoming season.