Friday, June 10, 2011

Cosmic Renaissance

It is a football club with no players and no stadium, and it hasn't played a match for more than 25 years. But the New York Cosmos – the team once described as "the nexus of soccer and showbiz" – has announced its first fixture since 1984, at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium on 5 August.

Stars join NY Cosmos relaunch

U21 Euro Previews

This past week has shown the ever-increasing trend of paying big money for young talent. So competitions such as the U21 Euros, which start this weekend, have become more and more important to the top clubs. Understandably so, as there will be a fair amount of quality on show. Dane Christian Eriksson will go into the tournament as the star player - he plays for Ajax, has has seven senior caps, and is the target of most top teams. But Spain will start as favourites with a squad boasting Mata, Krkic, Capel and Jeffren. ManU fans could see the future defensive mainstay of their team if Alex Ferguson signs David De Gea, as Phil Jones and Chris Smalling will be lining up for England. Personally, I think Dean Sturridge will do some damage.

Sky's U21 Euros preview pt1
Sky's U21 Euros preview pt2
The Daily Mail's preview

Mama Mia!

Goalkeeper Celebrates Too Early

Goalkeeper makes a daft penalty blunder in the Italian seventh tier. No big deal, it only cost his team promotion.


Henderson aims to follow Gerrard

Jordan Henderson is determined to emulate Steven Gerrard after Liverpool finally completed his £20 million signing. Top of his list is Gerrard's excellence for causing bar fights for which others take the blame while he gets away scott free.

Henderson: I can learn from Gerrard at Liverpol.

Terrifying images from Chicago

Those with a heart conditions should perhaps move on to the next article. Seeing Gary Neville at a Chicago White Sox game is painful enough, seeing his first pitch only rubs salt into the wounds.

Red Nev was in the US to prmote ManU's pre-season tour where the team will take on MLS club Chicago Fire. SSN blogger Bobbie BS already has his front row tickets and is working tirelessly on the abuse he will throw at Fergie, Giggs and Fred the Red, the club's mascot.

Off pitch! Neville's ceremonial throw at Sox game

More FIFA Bribe Allegations

More allegations of cash delivered for votes in the FIFA election scandal emerged today, this time from Surinam. Meanwhile CONCACAF super villain Jack Warner is laying face down on his bed with his fingers in his ears prenending that he can't hear the bribery investigators knocking on his door.

The Rumor Mill

Friday's Rumors
Martinez to Stay at Wigan

Bojan Nearing Unhappy Ending at Barca

Having dropped to fifth choice in the striking rotation and with Barca actively shopping for reinforcements at the front it appears that former future superstar Bojan Krkic is headed for the exit at the Nou Camp. Presumably this means that if he has success further afield we can expect to hear Xavi and Pique dribbling on about his Barcelona DNA in 12 months time.

A love story with an unhappy ending - why it all went wrong for Bojan Krkic at Barcelona

Wizards Victorious in Livestrong Wizard Park Opening

The Wizz managed to survive the sending off of their albino lab rat keeper Jimmy Nielsen to hang on to a 0-0 victory. Yes I know 0-0 is normally considered a draw but as the Fire now have 8 draws and haven't won since their home opener I'm now counting any non-win outcome as a defeat. Besides Lance Armstrong was at Livestrong and made it through the whole match without being arrested for massive doping fraud so this one officially goes down as a PR victory despite not taking all of the points.

Livestrong Sporting Park Debut in Pictures

Gold Cup Scuttlebutt

Lots going on in the Gold Cup yesterday- Chuck Blazar's nefarious plotting continued unabated as Mexico lost 5 players to a doping scandal and then scored a goal to honor each of them against El Salvador, while Costa Rica kept pace with a 5 goal win of their own. Surely the suspended Mexico players will be vindicated as they've turned to the classic "tainted meat" excuse which Alberto Contador successfully used while appealing his recent doping ban to the Spanish cycling federation.

Five test positive, cut from Mexico Gold Cup team
Cuba 0-5 Mexico
Costa Rica 5-0 Cuba

What's going on at Arsenal?

When Arsene Wenger promised to be busy in the transfer market fans thought it'd be buying players, not battling against the dismemberment of their team. While top clubs have been snapping up top young talent, including Gunners target Phil Jones, Wenger has been trying to stop the departures of Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy. His supporters may argue the off-season is only two weeks old, giving a club renowned for doing things quietly plenty of time to reinforce. Maybe, but why has the club allowed this situation come about? How the hell did they let Clichy and above all Nasri run into the last year of their contracts? With Fabregas leaving for Barca at some stage, the one piece of knowledge comforting Gooners was that they had a replacement in Nasri.

Other clubs don't let this happen. When contracts drift into their last year clubs lose their position of strength. Arsenal should have either tied up Nasri's contract or reluctantly sold him on for a very high figure. He may now go to rivals ManU for a little as £8 million, or be simply flirting in order to increase his wages - either way, Arsenal lose.

All this reaffirms the impression that the motto 'In Arsene We Trust' has gone a little too far. Since David Dein left the club there's been no counterpoint to the manager. Many would argue he too readily surrounds himself with yes men. Arsenal's known weakness is at the back, but defensive coach Pat Rice's contract was renewed recently. In fairness, board members have been in a difficult situation because Wenger brings so much to a club, especially one going through a transitional phase. But perhaps they were a touch too preoccupied with selling their shares.

Fans will be hoping Kroenke's arrival will sort things out. But it remains to be seen if they've sold to the right guy. When Wenger finally leaves, or even before then, the club may regret not going for the dodgy guy with mountains of cash to spend.

United move in for Nasri
Liverpool offer Arsenal £5m for Clichy
Pique: Fabregas must quit Arsenal

Playboy Promotes Women's World Cup

Hot on the heals of the Donny Dog affair comes more boob-related scandal in the world of football. To celebrate this month's FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany, the country's version of Playboy decided to help promote Frauenfussball with a photo shoot of some of the national team's younger players. Unsurprisingly they aren't wearing much, and the Deutscher Fussball Bund, who had no knowledge of it, isn't best pleased. ' We didn't ask the DFB - we went direct to the ladies,' said Playboy event manager Nina van Splunter [no, I didn't make up her name]. According to model Kristina Gessat, who plays for Gütersloh, 'the message is, look, we are normal - and lovely - girls'. Sepp Blatter, who once stated women should wear 'more feminine uniforms', is probably over the moon.

The video link is in German, but everything is pretty self-explanatory:
So sexy sind unsere Nationalspielerinnen

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Dogged Donny Dog bites back

This heady story of dogs, boobs and soccer has not just caused a storm in the usually peaceful world of Doncaster football, but also, unknown to avid SSN readers, wreaked havoc on this very blog. The mascot sought to tear the down the very fabric of your beloved soccer journal. Fortunately the blog's controller was on hand to make mincemeat of the pesky blighter and the devastation she brought with her.

Anyway, it seems mother-of-three Tracy Chandler will be reinstated as Donny Dog after she was sacked by the Championship side for posing in her underwear in a racy photo-shoot.

Donny Dog is back! The saucy football mascot gets her job back

CONCACAF Gold Cup: Thursday's Previews

Costa Rica vs. El Salvador:

Cuba vs. Mexico:

The Mill +

Thursday's Rumours


KC unveils $200 million new soccer stadium

Kansas City's $200 million state-of-the-art soccer stadium is set to open Thursday night, and before Livestrong Sporting Park even welcomes fans the team is defending its relationship with Lance Armstrong's cancer-fighting Livestrong Foundation.

Eager to partner with Livestrong, which funds cancer research and supports cancer survivors such as Armstrong himself, Sporting Kansas City agreed in March to donate $7.5 million to the foundation over the next six years.

That was before a report on "60 Minutes'' last month that again raised allegations of performance-enhancing drug use against the seven-time Tour de France winner. Former teammate Tyler Hamilton, like Floyd Landis a year before, accused Armstrong's U.S. Postal teams of systematic drug use.

To the city and the team, the accusations hardly seem fair.

Sid Lowe in Spain

And so it starts. There hasn't even been much of a break for the national team. No sooner had the season finished -- even before the season had finished -- than they were talking about the new signings. In doing so they confirmed a basic and ultimately destructive trend: Madrid and Barcelona not only have the most voracious appetites in Spain, but they are the only ones with the wallets to satisfy those appetites. Sometimes there is not even much of a plan, just an attitude that says: he's good, let's get him before anyone else does.

Norwich City launch new Errea Premier League kit with Italian football spoof

To a soundtrack of classical opera squad members spare no lazy national stereotype bar pinching the posterior of a local waitress and eating mama's homemade pizza.

The 50 greatest European club sides

It is genuinely futile to try and argue whether one historic side would beat another. The rules, trends and even fitness techniques have all changed far too much. But one thing never changes: how fully a team dominated their own era. Since any individual side can only ever be the best in their own time, it is actually possible to compare and contrast how completely they dominated it.

28. Nottingham Forest 1977-80

Points: 965

In separate interviews around Forest’s two victorious European Cup finals, Brian Clough called winning scorers Trevor Francis and John Robertson a “cunt” and a “little fat lad” respectively. It was that very unique management that brought the very unique achievement of taking a provincial club from the second division to the top of the first and successive European Cups in four years.

But the scale of Clough’s achievement shouldn’t be confused with Forest’s exact quality though. Clough created a winning team but not a wondrous one. Like many of the great teams who had come from relatively moderate clubs, they were necessarily disciplined and driven to the Nth degree. Their defence, underpinned by Peter Shilton, was statistically the fourth best in English history and one of the meanest in Europe. That did result in some resounding performances – most of all the 2-0 win over defending champions Liverpool in the 1978-79 opening round and the 3-1 victory away to Dynamo Berlin.

But the success did take its toll on the team. In 1980, they finished as low as fifth in the English league. And, within months, that unique style of Clough’s had seen him fall out with co-manager Peter Taylor to call time on a pragmatic but prized team.

Trophies won: European Cup 1979, 1980; English league 1978; English league cup 1978, 1979
Managers: Brian Clough
Best XI: Shilton, Anderson, Clark, Lloyd, Burns; McGovern, Francis, Gemmill, Robertson, Woodcock, Birtles

The Rest

Manchester United leave rivals trailing with £16m bid for Phil Jones

Manchester United accelerated what promises to be a hectic summer of transfer business when they gazumped Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal with a £16m deal for Phil Jones of Blackburn Rovers and set about recouping the money by accepting a £12m bid from Sunderland for John O'Shea, Darron Gibson and Wes Brown.

On the way out...

Jon Carter: Rewind to 1993

Every so often a moment occurs in football that breaks down an existing barrier. In 1993, such a moment occurred when England midfielder Paul Ince became the first black captain of his country on June 9, in a US Cup match against the USA.

First XI: Most Influential Chelsea Managers

With rumours that Turkey national team boss Guus Hiddink may soon be making a return to Stamford Bridge, we have selected our First XI most influential Chelsea managers.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Dog's Dinner

Doncaster Rovers have sacked the woman who plays their mascot after she posed in her underwear for a Sunday newspaper. She had, they claim, 'disgraced the club'.

Ronaldo Takes His Final Bow

Last night Brazil gave Ronaldo a final runout in the national strip. Not surprisingly Nike's sleek performance cut was less than flattering.

Robbo Does It Again

Bryan Robson's managerial career is a case study in doing things backwards. Rather than following the time-honored tradition of starting at a small club and working up towards the big jobs he started out in charge of Middlesbrough in the Premier League and each subsequent job has been a step down the ladder. His latest reverse-triumph sees him resigning from the Thailand job.

Rio's Rudimentary Readin'n Ritin'

Ferdinand comes bottom in vocab study
An analysis of footballers' vocabulary on social networking site Twitter has revealed Manchester United Rio Ferdinand to have an overwhelmingly 'basic' command of the English language.

Gold Cup Wrap

USA Tops Canada 2-0

The conspiracies are coming thick and fast here in North America. First Chuck Blazer, Lyndon Larouche and the Knights of Malta have conspired to make FIFA's corrupt, bribe-taking members to look bad. But more importantly Nike has forced CONCACAF to again stage a farce of a cup competition in order to sell Mexico shirts and force American soccer consumers to feign interest in a seemingly endless clash of the minnows. Why not just let Mexico play the US in a one off instead of wasting a month of everyone's time? Tuesday's action saw another chapter in the continent's most one-sided rivalry and a classic Gold Cup yawner between a French colony (in 2011!!!) and two tiny strips of land on either side of a canal.

U.S. scores convincing win over Canada
Canada's top playmakers did not show up against the U.S. team in Detroit

Panama 3-2 Guadeloupe: Jovial brace not enough as the Marea Roja claim three points

Keeping Up With The Jones

While Liverpool's attention was elsewhere, Manchester United have got in first by snapping up the very highly rated Phil Jones from Blackburn. Chelsea have taken time off looking for a manager and moved closer to replacing Drogba with Anderlecht teenager Lukaka. Meanwhile Arsenal, not wanting to be left behind, and determined to back up their claims of doing things differently this summer by spending some money, have, er, bought some unknown Finnish teenager.

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


Everyone's Going Dutch in West London

Charismatic Hiddick's successful spell at Chelsea in 2009 convinced Abramovich that he is the man who can finally bring European glory to SW6. But the Russian will have to pay a fair amount to get him. Al-fayed however, has already got his man, but Arnie thinks he needs a bit of assistance from an old mucker.

Why Chelsea are so keen to get Hiddink?
Hiddink pursuit comes down to money
Flatterer Fayed gets his man at last as Jol takes over at Fulham
Jol wants Hughton's help