Friday, January 13, 2012

Avi Creditor: Montreal chooses safe option by taking Duke's Wenger at No. 1

After a whirlwind day in which Montreal made Duke standout Andrew Wenger the No. 1 overall pick and a veteran MLS forward changed addresses, here are five thoughts from Thursday's MLS SuperDraft.

Barney Ronay: Andy Carroll's misery at Liverpool has left him the king of pain

A year on from the striker's £35m transfer from Newcastle it seems a very public death has been played out.

Harry Pearson: Why Sir Alex Ferguson's rejects are tickled pink to be leaving

Cross the Manchester United manager and he can set a player on the road to untold riches and a much more luxuriant lifestyle.

England: Three Horse Race

For the first time in years it looks as though the Premier League title race will involve three clubs. We assess the respective merits of Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham and invite you to send in your own conclusions.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

With the league leaders not in action until Monday, Manchester United and Tottenham could pull level with Manchester City at the Premier League summit. Queens Park Rangers will begin life under a new manager, Robbie Keane could make his Premier League return and the scrap for a top-four finish intensifies with Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle all in the mix.


Premier League Spotlight

Team News

Paul Merson's Previews

Lawro's Previews

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Real Madrid will look to extend their lead at the top of La Liga when they travel to face Mallorca, while Barcelona host Real Betis.


Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Inter Milan's struggles at the beginning of the season are a fast-fading memory as they go into Sunday's derby against AC Milan. A few months ago Inter were on the verge of falling into the relegation zone, but the Nerazzurri have hit back with a vengeance and last weekend's 5-0 triumph over Parma was their seventh win in the last eight league games. Unbeaten Juventus are level with Milan on 37 points and could take over sole possession of first place if they beat Cagliari in Sardinia on Sunday and Milan fail to take all three points. Lazio, who are fourth, were awful in a 4-0 hammering at Siena last week and will be looking to show a huge improvement in Sunday's game against Atalanta. Fiorentina finally ended their dismal run on the road with a 3-0 triumph at Novara last time out. The result was the Viola's first win away from home in the league since April 23 and they host bottom side Lecce on Sunday.


Amy Lawrence: Carlos Tevez and Alexandre Pato transfer tales divide Milan and fans

The unresolved futures of the Argentinian Tevez and the Brazilian Pato add further intrigue to the impending Milan derby.

U.S. TV: Sunday on FSC at 2:45pm EST

Amy Lawrence: Scholes, Henry and Keane returns mask the window's transfer drought

If important clubs are employing veterans who had seemingly bade farewell to the Premier League's intensity, it suggests there is a shortage of quality players for managers to buy.

The Mill +

Friday's Rumours


Andy Brassell: Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid love affair could be on the wane

No celebration for you!
Jose Mourinho couldn't have asked for a much better weekend. His Real Madrid side enjoyed a comprehensive home win last Saturday night - and Barcelona's concession of a late equaliser in Sunday's derby against Espanyol left them five points behind the capital club. Even if they were bested in El Clasico, Los Merengues are looking good to wrest back La Liga for the first time since 2008. Yet there is one cloud on the horizon. Even after two goals from the rejuvenated Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo was the main subject of post-game chatter.

Andy Brassell: Reyes Return Sets Sevilla Puzzle

January transfers are usually scrambled affairs, but the re-appearance of Thierry Henry and Paul Scholes in the Premier League have proven that desperation doesn't have to be so ugly. If this is the winter window to melt the coldest heart, then few returns have been as warmly received as that of Jose Antonio Reyes to Sevilla. For a prodigiously gifted player who has rarely felt at home outside la sartén de España ('the frying pan of Spain'), the feeling is entirely mutual.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jon Carter: Rewind to 2007

Some transfers fly under the radar while others are remembered long after the player has retired or moved on to pastures new. On January 12, 2007, the world's most marketable footballer, Real Madrid's David Beckham, opted to join MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy and sparked bedlam. For a 31-year-old, it was a real gamble when he could have joined one of Europe's elite, but his desire to seek a new challenge and bring football (or soccer) to a new audience saw him make giant strides for the game.

Richard Williams: Andy Carroll and Glen Johnson fly into Kompany tackle debate

Unpunished 'reckless' challenges raise question of refereeing consistency following City captain's red card.

The Mill +

Thursday's Rumours


Steve Davis: MLS SuperDraft: First-round mock draft, Mattocks to go No. 1?

2. Vancouver -- Andrew Wenger, D, Duke: New Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie could use a little more defensive cover and, assuming Mattocks has already been plucked, the Blue Devil utility knife is everybody's next best choice. The Hermann Trophy winner and two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year looks like this year's Perry Kitchen, who excelled in multiple positions as a rookie last year for D.C. United. Wenger appears to be professional stock already, someone who can play center back or right back, although he may eventually land at holding midfielder.

The Rest

Sid Lowe: Ballon d'Or voting perhaps better served by using a secret ballot

They say the Ballon d'Or is democratic but it's not. Not really. A proper democratic vote surely relies on a universal, secret ballot. By contrast, one of the things that makes the Ballon d'Or vote so interesting to pick over is the fact that you can pick over it. The real fun comes after Messi and Xavi have stepped down from the podium and the list of voters and votes is handed out. Captains and coaches of the world's national teams vote, alongside a selection of journalists from across the planet. They chose their top three and just like the former FIFA award that proceeded it -- now merged with the more traditional France Football Ballon d'Or (chosen solely by journalists) - the vote is public. You know exactly who everyone voted for. What you don't know is why. And the why matters -- or seems to. 

Jim White: Steven Gerrard times return perfectly to help Liverpool forget Luis Suarez's absence and Andy Carroll's failings

After a period of unhappy relations with the wider footballing world, it has been a terrific few days for Liverpool FC. First they win easily in the FA Cup and set themselves up for a tie with Manchester United.

England: Wednesday's Carling Cup Semifinal First-Leg Reports

Manchester City 0 - 1 Liverpool
Henry Winter at Etihad Stadium
Richard Jolly at Etihad Stadium
Daniel Taylor at Etihad Stadium
Andy Hunter at Etihad Stadium

Manchester City's Samir Nasri berated by Liverpool fans while driving home

After being told "You've got a better chance of winning the Champions League with Arsenal than you have with Man City," Nasri responds by telling them "I am top of the league," then speeding away.

England: Wednesday's Premier League Reports

Tottenham 2 - 0 Everton
Jamie Jackson at White Hart Lane
Kevin Palmer at White Hart Lane

USA winger Rogers signs for Leeds

Leeds United have agreed a deal to sign USA international Robbie Rogers, subject to the winger being granted a work permit. Rogers is not automatically eligible for a work permit because he has not played at least 75% of competitive matches for USA over the last two years, but Leeds are confident of acquiring the relevant paperwork.

Villa land Galaxy star Keane

Aston Villa have signed LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane on a short-term loan, subject to FIFA clearance. Keane will remain at Villa Park until February 25, taking in six Premier League games, and will then return to LA for the start of the Major League Soccer season in March.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


England: Wednesday's Premier League Preview

Tottenham vs. Everton

U.S. TV: FSC at 2:45pm EST

England: Wednesday's Carling Cup Semifinal First-Leg Preview

Manchester City vs. Liverpool

U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Plus at 2:45pm EST

Drugs police find 29 bags of cannabis hidden in locker at Rio Ferdinand's restaurant


A chef from Rio Ferdinand's restaurant in Manchester has been cautioned after police said they discovered of 29 bags of cannabis in a staff locker. The 55-year-old was cautioned by police after they went to the footballer's city centre Italian, Rosso. Sources said that three officers arrived at the restaurant on Friday afternoon and searched the chef's locker following a raid on his house.

Argentina and Brazil to clash in New Jersey in June

Former world champions Brazil and Argentina will face each other in a friendly in New Jersey on June 9, the Argentina Football Association announced on Tuesday.

Taiwanese news report on Suarez and Terry racism allegations

This is simply bizarre...

Paul Wilson: Tottenham's durable Brad Friedel has proved the shrewdest of signings


Today's subject is the daddy of all Premier League goalkeepers, the one who has been around so long he can remember the back-pass rule being introduced, has been so consistent he shattered all records for consecutive games, and is actually older than Ryan Giggs as well as Scholes and Henry. But for work permit problems, Brad Friedel would have signed for Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough in 1993, which would have put him in England right at the start of the Premier League era. As it was, he had to stay in the United States and ended up contracted to the national team as his country prepared to host the 1994 World Cup, but Friedel was 22 in 1993, knew his future lay in England, and was only forced to wait until 1997, when he finally got a move to Liverpool, by red tape.

Cup replay between Ajax and Alkmaar to be watched by children only

The last-16 match was abandoned on 21 December when a fan invaded the pitch and attacked Alkmaar's goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado, who immediately retaliated and was sent off – though his red card was later rescinded.

England: Tuesday's Carling Cup Semifinal First-Leg Report

Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Cardiff City
Mark Lomas at Selhurst Park

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

England: FA Cup Fourth Round Draw

Brighton or Wrexham v Newcastle 
Sunderland v Middlesbrough 
Dagenham & Redbridge or Millwall v Southampton 
Hull City v Crawley 
MK Dons or QPR v Chelsea 
West Brom v Norwich 
Blackpool v Sheffield Wednesday 
Arsenal v Aston Villa 
Stevenage v Notts County 
Watford v Tottenham 
Liverpool v Manchester United 
Derby v Stoke 
Everton v Fulham 
Macclesfield Town or Bolton v Swansea 
Sheffield United v Birmingham or Wolves 
Nottingham Forest or Leicester v Swindon 

Ties to take place on the weekend of 28/29 January.

Sid Lowe in Spain

In a league where draws are the new defeats, the Spanish title is no longer in Barcelona's hands.

Espanyol haunt Catalan rivals again as Barcelona fear end of an era.

Americans Abroad

Check in on the top U.S. players in leagues around the world with's running coverage of Americans abroad.

MLS SuperDraft high on attacking talent, risk-reward selections

There are two traits prevalent among the top prospects available in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft: finishing and creating. Even with two of the country's best young attacking players, North Carolina forward Billy Schuler and Virginia winger Brian Span, going after professional offers in Sweden, there is still plenty of attacking talent to be had in Thursday's two-round affair, and that should be reflected by the majority of early selections in the draft. The depth chart is not as extensive on the defensive end of the field, but the top tier of defending prospects, especially central defenders, can certainly step in to the right situation and plug holes across the back of MLS lineups. Here are 30 of the top collegiate players available, sorted by position. (Generation adidas players -- underclassmen who left school early to sign with the league and whose salaries will not count against their teams' salary cap -- are noted):

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


Mark Hughes confirmed as new Queens Park Rangers manager

Hughes, who has has previously managed Wales, Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City, left Fulham in June citing his desire "to further my experiences" as "a young, ambitious manager".

Sid Lowe: To compare Lionel Messi to anybody else is unfair – on them

Props on the purple velvet action, Leo...

After winning the Ballon d'Or for the third time running the Barcelona forward's brilliance has made the incredible routine.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

He looks like a manager eater...

Palermo's president Maurizio Zamparini is known as the 'manager-eater' so a first home defeat against Napoli for 43 years is bad news for new incumbent Bortolo Mutti.

The last thing Palermo's Bortolo Mutti needed? To be beaten by Napoli.

England: Monday's FA Cup Reports & Analyses

Arsenal 1 - 0 Leeds United
Kevin McCarra at the Emirates Stadium
John Brewin at the Emirates Stadium
Henry Winter at the Emirates Stadium
Dominic Fifield at the Emirates Stadium

Jeremy Wilson: Henry's comeback makes perfect sense for Wenger's depleted Arsenal
Phil McNulty: Return of the King

The Trawler: Di Canio: The Movie, Leeds vs legend

Welcome to a special FA Cup edition of The Trawler, bringing you a smattering of the best storylines emerging from the weekend's third round action involving teams from the Championship, League One and League Two, plus a dose of your usual league fare for good measure.

Phil Ball in Spain

I found this photo of Diego on a site entitled, "Soccer Players in Underwear."
The word 'carácter' in Spanish is called a 'cognate' in linguistics, or a 'false friend' in less formal terms. It's one of those words which doesn't mean what you think it's going to mean, just because it looks like its English equivalent. Nevertheless, whether friend or foe, the word is particularly resonant in Spanish culture, almost to an annoying degree. Parents use it here to describe their young children, as if it were a badge of honour. 'Tiene mucho carácter' is often used as an excuse for unruly infant behaviour of the loud-mouthed type, where 'carácter' would mean 'bad temper' in English. Fathers are particularly fond of using the term to praise their offspring, as if by condoning pushy behaviour they are implying that their child will get on well in the dog-eat-dog world, and they may be right.

Monday, January 09, 2012

England: FA Cup Weekend Review, Reports, Analyses & Team of the Weekend

Liverpool eased into the fourth round on Saturday with a 5-1 win over lowly Oldham at Anfield. But the game was marred when Oldham player Tom Adeyemi was allegedly the subject of racist abuse from a spectator as the game drew to a close. Tottenham have booked their place in the next round with a 3-0 win over Cheltenham Town. And Premier League new boys QPR battled to a 1-1 draw courtesy of a last minute equalizer against lowly MK Dons. That result proved to be the last straw for QPR manager Neil Warnock who was dismissed from his post late on Sunday evening. Undoubtedly, the tie of the round was at the Etihad Stadium where Manchester City played hosts to cross-city rivals Manchester United. In a thrilling third round tie, United raced into a 3-0 lead by half-time courtesy of a double from Wayne Rooney and a fine strike from young forward Danny Welbeck. To add to City's travails, they had influential skipper Vincent Kompany sent off early in the match. However a brave performance in the second half from Roberto Mancini's ten men very nearly saw them pull off a miraculous fightback against the reigning Premier League champions.


Manchester City 2 - 3 Manchester United
Henry Winter at Etihad Stadium
Kevin McCarra at Etihad Stadium
Richard Williams at Etihad Stadium
Daniel Taylor at Etihad Stadium (Five Talking Points)
Player Ratings

Fulham 4 - 0 Charlton
Mark Tallentire at Craven Cottage

Five Things We Learned

Team of the Week

Neil Warnock sacked as QPR manager with Mark Hughes early favourite to take over

Neil Warnock has lost his job as manager of Queens Park Rangers after the club’s owners decided he was not the right man to keep them in the Premier League, it is understood.

Michael Hann: Warnock loved but limited

The Fifth Official

Few of us like Mondays but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a week brimming with potential victims.