Friday, September 03, 2010

Grant Wahl: Maintaining status quo won't be enough for Bradley in second act

Is a second World Cup cycle one too many for a national-team coach?

Gabriele Marcotti: Splashy moves restore Milan's buzz

Six weeks can be an eternity in soccer and in politics. On July 20, AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi showed up at the opening of the club's training camp and made one blunder after the other. For a man who is usually such a natural and effective communicator, it was an all-out debacle. Witness his pronouncements:

Javier Mascherano's move mocked the ideals behind freedom of contract

Charles N'Zogbia's failed transfer and Robinho's departure show that players have all the power.

The Joy of Six: Footballers who have overcome humble beginnings

Following the rise of Bébé from the streets of Portugal to Old Trafford, here are six other rags-to-riches stories.

Euro 2012

Ireland vs. Armenia: Preview

France vs. Belarus: Preview

England vs. Bulgaria: Preview
Same Old England

Belgium vs. Germany: Preview

The Best European Championship XI Of All Time

With another Euro campaign set to kick off in full, Carlo Garganese runs down the greatest European Championship XI of all time...

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast discusses a rugby star's stint in Colorado before evaluating the Week 23 fixtures.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Löw keeps the peace for now by naming Ballack captain of Germany.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Martin Tyler Column

Martin Tyler's stats and facts column is back for the new season.

Every week he will be here to offer you statistical gems to make your day, impress your mates and, on occasion, to settle the odd bet.

Sky Sports' voice of football and his back-up team of experts are here to answer your questions and queries on all things statistical and historical from the beautiful game.

The hopes and fears of football's free agents

The Professional Footballers' Association's comprehensive list of free agents is as lengthy as it is depressing. There are the hundreds of players who are still in their teens - footballers I have never heard of but ones whose professional careers could be set to end in their infancy.

Then there are the likes of Liam Rosenior, Jeremie Aliadiere, Lee Hendrie, Francis Jeffers, Keith Gillespie, Russell Hoult, Gavin Mahon, Jay DeMerit, Barry Hayles - all experienced performers at a variety of levels, all united by the fact they are without a club.

Russia World Cup bid chief defends racism track record

Alexei Sorokin denies Russian football has a problem with racist fans, despite recent controversy in a league game.

Lokomotiv Moscow fans celebrated Peter Odemwingie's sale in the transfer window with a banner showing a banana and the message: "Thanks West Brom".

Lokomotiv escaped sanction, but Sorokin told BBC Sport: "The RFU doesn't accept any demonstrations of racism."

The eight most influential European transfers of the summer

The transfer window might have closed with something of an anticlimax in England after what, Manchester City aside, has been a pretty slow summer. Still, there has been plenty of action among the big clubs on the continent. Here’s a look at the eight deals I think could prove most influential in the coming season.

Seattle Sounders FC 3-1 Chivas USA: Sounders To Play Columbus In U.S. Open Cup Final

Nate Jaqua scored twice and Steve Zakuani notched two assists in leading the Sounders to an impressive win over Chivas USA.

Laurent Blanc starts the process of resurrecting respect for the France shirt

Yet while the latest England squad was announced with breath of stale air (Shaun. Wright. Phillips.) the French are doing a rather better job of starting over. They have their first home game since the World Cup in Paris tomorrow night, against Belarus, and it is being approached with a sense of optimism.

That is pretty much all down to Laurent Blanc. He has approached his first few weeks in the job with an uncompromising candour and made it his mission not just to make his side play better football but also to restore a bit of mutual respect.

Norman Hubbard: Beg, Borrow and Deal

It is the fastest growing group in football. The loan rangers, for want of a less cliched term, appear to increase in numbers with every transfer window. Much of the activity on Tuesday's deadline day concerned borrowings, rather than buying.

Rafael van der Vaart leaves no place for Jonathan Woodgate at Tottenham

The 29-year-old Woodgate has played once in two years for the senior team. His exclusion will fuel speculation that his career may be under serious threat due to a chronic groin problem. Redknapp said last month of the injury: "It's so sad for Jonathan. He's such a good player and a great lad as well. He's been all round the world really, trying to find a cure for this groin problem. He's seen two specialists and he's going to get one more opinion but they seem to be of the opinion that the only chance is an operation."

Mid-Season Signings

Transfer deadline day left Soccernet hankering for the halcyon days when clubs could do deals right through until March. Here, we present a list of some of the most interesting mid-season transfers in English football - successful or otherwise - prior to the introduction of the current system in 2001-02.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Question Of The Week

When's the last time both Barcelona and Real Madrid have been without Dutch players?

Submitted by SSN loyalist Brandy from Carrboro...

Summer 2010 Transfer Window Closes Across The World

The summer's transfer window has closed and, despite the ongoing economic turmoil around the globe, some high-profile players have been on the move. The English Premier League's stringent new legislation on squad size has seen some of the league's top performers switch clubs while Italian teams were the busiest of any nation's during the summer. The top two in Spain continued to flex their financial muscles while the German Bundesliga welcomed, and waved goodbye to, a fair few star names.

Premier League Transfers: Summer 2010

Read all the Premier League football transfers as they happen, club by club, updated throughout the summer 2010 transfer window.

Tottenham complete signing of Real Madrid's Rafael van der Vaart

Tottenham have completed the £8 million signing of Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid after the Premier League gave them the green light to add the Holland midfielder to their squad.

Martin Rogers Column

Los Angeles Galaxy fans can breathe easy after the European transfer window closed without a big-money move for Landon Donovan.

Donovan was the subject of repeated interest from several European teams. English Premier League club Everton was determined to bring him back following a successful loan spell earlier in the year.

According to a source close to the EPL team, Everton came back with a final bid on deadline day despite earlier rejections. The Toffees were rebuffed once more by Major League Soccer.

Georgina Turner: Moyes, Everton look to boost stock after sluggish start to season

Three games into the Premier League season, Everton has scored a single goal and notched a single point. That return amounts to the club's worst start since 1999, but the biggest worry for Everton is that it has been unable to convert possession, often in dangerous areas, into goals.

Spurs hit Van der Vaart hitch

Sky Sports News understands Tottenham Hotspur missed the deadline to finalise the paperwork for the signing of Rafael van der Vaart.

Spurs made a late bid to bring in Holland international Van der Vaart and tried to complete the deal before Tuesday's 6pm cut-off.

However, it is understood that technical issues prevented the necessary paperwork from being completed and Spurs have now requested special dispensation from the Premier League to add the midfielder to their squad.

He's No Harry Potter

Sometimes the blizzard of sound bites and tidal wave of trophies obscure the fact that it was Jose Mourinho who decided to christen himself "The Special One" when he is, in fact, flesh and blood like you and me.

Occasionally foolhardy, often fallible -- Mourinho is certainly not invincible.

Sure, the Portuguese possess immense talent. He also works so exhaustively hard that if it is a competition between him and the next guy to win a match, an argument or even the Champions League, the odds tilt in his favor. But, as Michael Laudrup -- the man whose Mallorca side spoiled Mourinho's La Liga debut on Sunday -- has observed, coaching Real Madrid represents Mourinho's biggest challenge yet.

Even Mourinho has admitted as much, telling his team's fans not to expect any amazing results because he's "a coach" and "not Harry Potter."

Kevin McCarra: Theo Walcott is showing the maturity off the field and potency on it that can make him a vital asset for England

It was curious to see the swift Theo Walcott left standing. England set off without him for the World Cup finals earlier this summer and that must have been particularly galling since it had probably been the impetus of his hat-trick against Croatia in September 2008 that swept the side to South Africa.

If there is any feeling that he deserved better, the Arsenal attacker conceals it well.

Manchester City pay for their expensive taste and excessive waste

Those Eastlands spendthrifts break the trend of a new realism as the Premier League transfer window closes.

Carlisle: And now for the really tough part

Who says history doesn't repeat itself? It did on Monday with the announcement that Bob Bradley has signed on for another four years as head coach of the U.S. men's national team.

The sense of déjà vu is almost overpowering. In 2006, U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati went after Jurgen Klinsmann to be the U.S. manager, only to be rebuffed at the last minute. Instead, Gulati was forced to settle for Bradley.

Four years later, the situation is eerily similar.

UEFA ban vuvuzelas from European competitions

UEFA have banned the controversial vuvuzela trumpets from all European competitions, including the Champions League, Europa League and the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Americans On The Continent: Keeping Up With The Jones

In a hard-fought battle over the weekend, Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04 fell to Steve Cherundolo’s Hannover 96. Despite playing 89 minutes and scoring for Schalke, Jones was unable to lead his side past a determined and organized Hannover side.

The Rest

Americans In The UK: Clint Dempsey Opens Account

Clint Dempsey scored his first goal of the season on Wednesday as Fulham pummeled Port Vale 6-0.

The Rest

Sid Lowe in Spain

After all the spending, bickering, name-calling and posturing, Barça have got David Villa – and offloaded Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Zlat's all folks: Barcelona finally get their man ... but at a price.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Even a 3-0 lead at home is sometimes not enough to avoid defeat, as Steve McClaren found out to his cost.

Wolfsburg show their Mr Hyde side as Tuchel inspires Mainz magic.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Serie A returned to action with a big new arrival, harsh treatment in Bologna and a Hulk-like Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Ghost goals, grand unveilings and a sacking before the season even begins.

DaMarcus Beasley Signs With Hannover 96

DaMarcus Beasley has joined Germany's Hannover 96, his fourth club in four different countries since he left the Chicago Fire for the Netherlands PSV Eindhoven in 2004. After he enjoyed a stellar start in Europe, the tricky dribbler's career went into an injury-plagued decline and we saw only 10 minutes of him 2010 World Cup, where the brilliance he displayed in his early years was sorely missed.

Spain: La Liga Team of the Week

Team of the Week

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


Schaerlaeckens & Wahl: Bradley to Remain U.S. Coach for Four More Years

If you listen carefully, you can hear soccer fans around the country emit noises ranging from expletives to guttural grunts. Bob Bradley, the man unappreciated by many and thought wrong for the job by even more, has signed a contract extension to remain the coach of the U.S. men's national soccer team through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

And that’s a good thing.

While hiring a coach such as Jurgen Klinsmann might have been the sexier choice, the U.S. Soccer Federation got this one right. Here are six reasons why:

Grant Wahl: Three Thoughts

Owen Hargreaves facing his own Black Wednesday at Manchester United

There is a worrying prospect that the endgame on Owen Hargreaves’ Manchester United career will kick into play on Wednesday.

If Sir Alex Ferguson opts against naming the midfielder in his 25-man Premier League squad on Sept 1, the 29-year-old will be ineligible for league games until January and faced with the prospect of reserve fixtures and Carling Cup ties between now and New Years’ Day.

Italy: Monday's Serie A Report

0 - 0
Internazionale Milan

Rafael Benitez suffered a disappointing debut on the Inter bench in Serie A as his side were held to a 0-0 draw by Bologna on Monday night.

Tim Vickery in South America

In March 2003, Blatter decreed that South America's turn would come in 2014 and a few days later the South American Confederation announced that Brazil was its only candidate and although Colombia briefly broke ranks, they had no serious expectations of success.

Brazil, then, has known for over seven years that the circus would be coming to town and Fifa's official announcement in October 2007 only confirmed the obvious.

But the host cities had not even been chosen - that only happened last May, with the decisions taken by Fifa rather than, as usual, by the local organisers - and it was only last Friday that Sao Paulo, the country's biggest city, finally decided which stadium it would use.

Taking so long to sort out such basic issues comes across as gross incompetence.

Ernst Bouwes on Arjen Robben

Robben then went for a two-week holiday to Curacao, where he did not kick anything more than a beach ball. Returning home fresh and fit, he went through a routine pre-season test and was diagnosed with a 5cm "hole" in his thigh muscle, forcing him to miss training for at least two months.

"It's irresponsible this was not diagnosed accurately and he has played with it," the Bayern doctor said. "I offered several times to help with the diagnosis but did not receive a call." Shocked by the unexpected setback of having to miss one of their star players for an extended period, the club made clear they would contact the Dutch FA to settle the matter financially.

Phil Ball Not in Spain

Hope you had a good summer, and can enjoy what's left of it - or depending on your hemisphere, I hope the early spring´s all green and gambolling. The World Cup seems strangely distant, and I've just got back from California where I took the family on holiday and where football (I mean soccer) was never far away.

I missed Real Madrid by a day in Los Angeles and then by a day again in San Francisco, but never mind because I'll be seeing them again very soon in Anoeta. Real Sociedad´s stadium is once again host to the top flight, but I've just missed out on their 1-0 win over an allegedly poor Villarreal because I'm still in England, where it's predictably blowing a gale as I write.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Gabriele Marcotti: Expensive Divorce for Barcelona, Ibrahimovic

When you've made the second-biggest deal in the history of soccer and, 12 months later, you're not getting the kind of return you expect, sometimes it's best to bite the bullet and cut your losses.

Barcelona's sale of Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to AC Milan in an unusual deal whereby the Italian club takes him on loan for the 2010-11 season (meaning he plays for and is paid by Milan but he technically remains a Barcelona player) and then pays €24 million ($31 million) to acquire him outright next summer is a textbook case of the above.

Arsenal and England star Jack Wilshere arrested after woman left with broken arm during night out in London

The 18-year-old, who is teetotal, is believed to have acted as a peacemaker when an alcohol-fuelled row erupted between members of his party and another group made up of four men and a woman.

The Mill +

Monday's Rumours


U.S. Soccer, Juergen Klinsmann talking

U.S. Soccer has met with former German team coach Juergen Klinsmann about the national team coaching job, currently held by Bob Bradley, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

The source indicated Klinsmann, who turned down the Yanks' job after the 2006 World Cup, met with U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and said Klinsmann is interested in the position, but gave no other details.

Real blow as Ronaldo ruled out for three weeks

Though losing Ronaldo is an undoubted blow to Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho - he has an embarassment at riches at his disposal when it comes to bringing in a replacement, with both Karim Benzema and new signing Mesut Ozil available to step into the breach.

Five things we learned from watching football this weekend

Agile Habsi, time-wasting Tevez, Blackpool make vital point, Barton hounded by Wolves, Blake's right-footed retribution.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

Alexandre Pato scored twice in AC Milan's 4-0 win opening weekend win over Lecce. Bari shocked Juventus with a 1-0 win at the Stadio San Nicola. Fiorentina drew 1-1 with Napoli in a match that saw sendings off for Juan Manuel Vargas and Manuele Blasi, while Palermo and Cagliari endured a goalless 90 minutes.

The Diving Twat is back...

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

Jose Mourinho had to settle for a point in his first game in charge of Real Madrid after drawing a blank at Real Mallorca.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Review

Hoffenheim notched a second straight win while rivals Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich stumbled and Leverkusen were thrashed at home.