Friday, June 03, 2011

Good Day!

Good Day SSNers!!

Sid Lowe in Spain with The Sids, previews for the weekend's Euro 2012 qualifiers, the U.S. host Spain in Foxboro tomorrow, more on FIFA, Jonathan Wilson in Eastern Europe, Friedel goes to Spurs, Mark Hughes leaves Fulham but does not go to Villa, Dale Johnson is Off The Ball, Barcelona sign 10-year-old American and much more!!


Sir Alex Ferguson banks on Michael Owen to pass on wealth of experience to Manchester United young guns

Eyebrows were raised at Manchester United’s decision to hand Michael Owen a new one-year contract earlier this week, but the former England forward can credit Sir Alex Ferguson’s admiration of AC Milan for his extended stay at Old Trafford.

Sid Lowe in Spain

From an amazing managerial achievement to perhaps the greatest assist ever, it's time for the annual end-of-season Spanish football awards.

It's the Sids 2011! The complete review of the past La Liga season.

International Friendly Previews: United States vs. Spain

Gillette Stadium; Foxborough, MA.

June 4, 2011, 4:30 p.m. EDT

U.S. TV:
ESPN & Univision

Reigning World Cup champions Spain will bring a star-studded squad that includes six players from Champions League winners Barcelona into a Saturday friendly against the United States.

Nearly 58,000 tickets have been sold for what will serve as a top-flight tuneup for the Americans ahead of the Gold Cup, the North American championship tournament that begins on Sunday. The host US men open Tuesday against Canada.


U.S. vs. Spain Friendly May Not Be the Best Warm-Up for the Gold Cup

UEFA Euro 2012 Qualifying Previews

Germany will need to stay cool under pressure when they make an end-of-season push for a perfect six wins out of six in Euro 2012 qualifying against Austria on Friday. Runners-up to Spain in 2008, the Germans are one of several heavyweight teams in action following the season finale in major domestic leagues. In Group G, joint leaders England and Montenegro have home matches on Saturday against Switzerland and Bulgaria, while in Group D France are looking to avenge September's 1-0 home defeat by Belarus in Minsk on Friday.


Belarus vs. France: Preview
England vs. Switzerland: Preview
Macedonia vs. Ireland: Preview
Italy vs. Estonia: Preview

Three pivotal Euro 2012 clashes

Jonathan Wilson in Eastern Europe

Having been suspended from international competition in April, Bosnia-Herzegovina are back and stronger than before.

Bosnia-Herzegovina's united return to international football.

The Mill +

Friday's Rumours


Mark Hughes leaves Fulham but Aston Villa do not want him as manager

Mark Hughes will not be the new Aston Villa manager and has been left without a club after walking out on Fulham on Thursday night. The Welshman had been the favourite to succeed Gérard Houllier but Villa, unimpressed with the course of events that culminated in Hughes activating a break clause in his contract and leaving Fulham, have turned their attention elsewhere. Martin Jol and Steve McClaren are at the top of Villa's shortlist.

Phil McNulty: Hughes must prove staying power

Mark Hughes was the victim of Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook's infamous "trajectory of results" when he was shown the door at Eastlands and replaced within a matter of minutes by Roberto Mancini.

Hughes nursed an acute sense of injustice, shared by many observers inside and outside City, and public humiliation when he took charge of the 4-3 win against Sunderland in December 2009 with the word already out that his time was up as soon as the final whistle sounded.

The 47-year-old is walking away from Fulham with that same trajectory on an upward curve after a season in which he heard demands for his dismissal at Craven Cottage before a strong conclusion rebuilt his reputation and earned a place in the Europa League via the Fair Play standings.

Hughes, in a statement met with heavy cynicism, insisted his decision to activate a break clause in his two-year contract had not been prompted by the intervention of "an outside party" after Gerard Houllier left Aston Villa on health grounds only 24 hours earlier.

Goalkeeper Brad Friedel agrees to Tottenham switch

United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel has agreed to join Tottenham.

It is understood that the 40-year-old, whose contract with Aston Villa was due to expire at the end of this month, has signed a two-year contract.

10 things you need to know about outspoken FIFA senior vice-president Julio Grondona

8) His mouth has a habit of getting Grondona in trouble. He courted controversy when, in response to question about referee standards in Argentina, he stated, "I do not believe a Jew can ever be a referee at this level. It's hard work and, you know, Jews don't like hard work."

Dale Johnson: Off The Ball

Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Jack Wilshere wants to get in the face of the referees, Mario Balotelli takes the scenic route, a suicidal koala helps a Spanish club sell season tickets, Barca shake that booty and we preview the Dr Nicolas Leoz Cup.

Barcelona signs 10-year-old American prodigy to academy

According to a variety of sources (but first reported by the website BarcaLoco and soccer blog 3four3), Southern Californian Ben Lederman -- a 10-year-old who visited and worked out at the club's La Masia training complex in April -- signed a two-year development contract with the club's youth academy.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Good Day!

Good Day SSNers!!

Beppe Signori among those arrested in Italian match-fixing probe, Alan Smith picks a World XI to beat Barcelona, Top 10 UEFA Champions League goals ever, The Big Interview is Darren Bent, Tim Vickery provides some perspective on the FIFA situation, Yank Abroad Marcus Hahnemann let go by Wolves, Jon Carter rewinds to 1985 and the post-Heysel reforms, Fabregas and Van Persie go see the Mets, The Mill is working around the clock on transfer rumors and much more!!


Italian players arrested in match-fixing probe

The spectre of corruption returned to haunt Italian football yesterday when former star World Cup striker Beppe Signori was among 16 people arrested after investigators busted a football match-fixing operation that was so big police dubbed it a "proper criminal organisation".

Prosecutors said they had "important and irrefutable" evidence that the 16 were involved in manipulating results in 18 mostly Serie B (second division) and lower league matches in the season that has just come to an end, adding that Atalanta and Siena's promotion to the top flight may be in danger.

The Top 10 UEFA Champions League Goals Ever

Arsène Wenger targets tall players to boost Arsenal's title challenge

For years Arsène Wenger has been saying that size does not matter, but it appears that six seasons without a trophy may have changed his mind as he on Wednesday admitted that one of his priorities this summer will be to sign tall players.

Alan Smith: My world XI to take on the might of Barcelona

The impossible job, stopping Barcelona? Well, not quite seeing as they’ve been beaten six times this season. But what you do have to say is that if Pep Guardiola’s side play like they did on Saturday evening, you must do everything perfectly.

Luka gets the call...

Lads on tour! Arsenal pair Van Persie and Fabregas go large in the Big Apple

Does Robin van Persie know something we don't? The Arsenal striker has just come off the back of a gruelling and emotionally draining season with the club and could be forgiven for wanting to get away from it all.

Well, in a way he has, with a trip to New York. But despite spending all season together and working in close quarters every day of the week, the Dutchman has decided to take his captain Cesc Fabregas on holiday with him.

Tim Vickery: FIFA's controversial roots date back to England five decades ago

Brazilian journalists who flew to London for the Champions League final were struck by the importance given in the English press to the recent scandals surrounding FIFA. The story is not playing anything like as big back home.

European cynics might argue that this has something to do with a certain South American tolerance of corruption. South American cynics, meanwhile, put the whole frenzy down to an infantile English reaction at not being awarded the 2018 World Cup.

But the fault line goes deeper.

The Mill +

Thursday's Rumours


The Big Interview: Darren Bent

It has taken five years but Darren Bent has gone from feeling out of place with England to becoming the focal point of the attack.

'I remember Beckham coming up to me. I was shaking'

Americans in the UK: Wolves Let Hahnemann Go

Mick McCarthy has praised the 'fantastic' Marcus Hahnemann after confirming Wolves will not be offering the goalkeeper a new contract.

"With his enthusiasm and personality, not to mention some very different hobbies and interests, Marcus was a great character to have around the place and hugely influential in the dressing room."

Jon Carter: Rewind to 1985

On June 2, 1985, UEFA took action against English clubs, banning them from European competition after the riot at Brussels' Heysel stadium during the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus in which 39 people died. The repercussions of the tragedy saw stringent changes in the way hooligans were dealt with and formed the basis for a framework of measures to ensure nothing similar would ever happen again.

Norman Hubbard: Norman Hubbard: Allardyce and West Ham a match made in heaven or hell?

There is a temptation to think that some people are suckers for punishment. Having been dismissed by such luminaries as the unpredictable Mike Ashley and the much-ridiculed Venky's, Sam Allardyce has forsaken the frying pan in favour of the fire by accepting the West Ham job.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Jürgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund side may have run away with the title, but there was plenty of the weird and wonderful worth revisiting in the German league this season.

The Honigsteins 2011: Bundesliga end-of-season awards

Thierry Henry Interview

Thierry Henry 'suffering' watching Arsenal collapse but hopes Arsene Wenger stays in charge.

In an exclusive interview with US Latino, the Gunners' record goalscorer is unsure whether he'll move into coaching, and targets winning titles with the Red Bulls.

Steve Davis: Adu gets another chance with U.S.

Bob Bradley isn't known for throwing curve balls. The U.S. national team coach is pretty much a fire 'em down the middle type guy. Too much so for some supporters.

But this Freddy Adu matter -- now that was one wicked curve ball. Heck, even Bradley said so. As the coach discussed his Gold Cup roster last week, someone asked what he considered the biggest shocker. Even Bradley seemed amused, laughing a little and immediately naming Adu's selection. You'd swear the man surprised even himself.

Georgina Turner: Change of Pace for New EPL Trio

With the conclusion of the Championship playoffs at Wembley on Monday, we now know the three teams promoted to the Premier League for the 2011-12 season. It's a return for Queens Park Rangers and Norwich City, which were both involved in the first three seasons of the re-branded Premier League in the 1990s, while Swansea will get its first taste at the Liberty Stadium.

What can we expect from each?

The Mill + ++

Wednesday's Rumours



Sam Allardyce appointed West Ham United manager

Sam Allardyce has taken over as manager of West Ham, following the club's relegation to the Championship.

The ex-Blackburn, Newcastle and Bolton boss replaces Avram Grant, who was sacked after the Hammers' relegation.

Twat. Have fun in the Championship...

FIFA Mayhem Update

Sepp Blatter has announced that all 208 FIFA member associations will vote on World Cup hosts in the future after it was confirmed he would continue as the president of world football's governing body.

John Brewin:
Reform the only way forward

Delegates Attack England

David Conn: Even Grace Jones struggles to make executive committee members get up and dance at their congress

James Lawton: Money is Blatter's oxygen and only sponsors can cut supply

Roberto Gotta in Italy

Genoa owner Enrico Preziosi is a sometimes abrasive character who has frequently fallen foul of football's authorities and his own fans. You wouldn't trust him to be gracious to losers, but he was - and it was not just any loser. It was Sampdoria, Genoa's local rivals and the subject of much scorn, grief and disbelief across the nation after their unexpected plunge to Serie B just 12 months after qualifying for the Champions League preliminary round. "Those of us on the other side of town can't really celebrate in a situation like this," Preziosi said. "I am happy Genoa are above Samp, but I don't like this."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

UEFA Champions League: Team of the Season

After watching Barcelona dismantle Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday, it would be easy to name the team of the season as Pep Guardiola's Wembley first XI. The Catalan giants still rightly dominate after sweeping all before them this term, but six other individuals have managed to force their way into the reckoning for a line-up bristling with attacking talent.

Spain: Guillem Balague's Team of the Season

It's been another vintage La Liga season.

Throughout the campaign, which ended with Barcelona securing a third straight league title, Spanish football expert Guillem Balague has been on hand to answer your queries and questions.

The time has now come for Guillem to select his team of the season.

Shakira Gets Gerard Piqué and Teammates Onstage in Barcelona

Americans in the UK: Season Review Part 1

The first chapter explores the exploits of the lower league American players, including the Championship, League One, and League Two.

Jack Wilshere Interview

Arsenal fans craving hope for the future need only listen to the words of Jack Wilshere, their tough, skilful midfielder.

Wilshere believes Arsenal need to become “more aware and more aggressive on the pitch’’. Always mindful of showing respect to referees, Wilshere wants the players to get their point over to officials if they feel aggrieved.

“Not so much keep going on at the ref, but just let them know,’’ he explains. “You see the players at Man United and they are great at it. They are round the ref.”

Crisis? What crisis? Blatter tries to rise above corruption claims

In an extraordinary piece of theatre that broke up amid farcical scenes, Sepp Blatter last night denied that Fifa was in crisis despite another of day of escalating scandal swirling around senior figures in football's governing body.

During an at times fractious press conference at Fifa's Zurich headquarters, Blatter said: "Crisis? What is a crisis? Football is not in a crisis. We are not in a crisis, we are only in some difficulties and these will be solved within our family."

The conference, that followed a meeting of Fifa's Executive Committee, ended with an angry Blatter exiting the room as a German journalist shouted questions after the 75-year-old Swiss.

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


Paolo Bandini in Italy

From misses to moonwalks, the best games and the worst gaffes, it's our end-of-season Italian football awards.

The Bandinis 2011: An utterly exhaustive review of the Serie A season.

MLS: What are the Fire getting with new head coach Frank Klopas?

Carlos de los Cobos has been flirting with conflagration for a while now, and this afternoon it all finally happened. The Chicago Fire has parted ways with CDLC and the big question for Fire fans is now what?

The former man in charge didn’t exactly get the job done. With only one league win in 2011, running a nine game winless streak, and a current record of 1-4-6, he was bound to get the boot.

Per today’s official announced club statement, local fan-favorite and technical director, Frank Klopas will serve as an interim head coach.

What’s so special about Klopas?

England (Wales): Swansea City Win Promotion to Premier League

Reading 2 - 4 Swansea City

Henry Winter at Wembley
Richard Jolly at Wembley

Paul Scholes Tribute

Paul Scholes Announces Retirement

Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has retired from playing professional football at the age of 36, but will join the club's coaching staff. Scholes, who has spent his entire career at Old Trafford, becomes the latest of Fergie's Fledglings to call it a day after Gary Neville hung up his boots in February.

Scholes lauded by players and coaches around the world.

Jon Carter: Who Can Replace Scholes?

Phil McNulty: Scholes will be sadly missed.

Phil Ball in Spain

Where shall we start? With a touch of French perhaps? Déjà vu? Plus ça change? Sir Alex Ferguson had claimed before the final at Wembley that his team were more mature, more versatile than the one so rudely pushed aside in Rome two years ago, but the reality that unfolded in London was that Barcelona's self-assurance and faith in their own approach was a step too far for any improvements that Manchester United might claim to have made.