Friday, July 13, 2012

Daniel Taylor: John Terry is cleared, but football's reputation takes a battering

Details that emerged in court of the Chelsea captain's exchange with Anton Ferdinand leave the sport looking tawdry and juvenile.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast previews Timbers interim boss Gavin Wilkinson's first match in charge against Los Angeles and surveys the rest of the weekend's encounters.

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Friday's Rumours



Transfer Updates

Liverpool agree fee to buy striker Fabio Borini from Roma

Tottenham Hotspur have agreed an undisclosed fee to sign Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's big-money move from AC Milan to Paris Saint-Germain is far from being completed

John Terry cleared of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

Chief magistrate finds Chelsea captain not guilty of racially aggravated public order offence, but praises 'brave' Ferdinand.

US Open Cup - Semi final round-ups and reactions

So, after improbable USL Pro team runs, last minute Chivas heroics and Cal FC fairytales, the US Open Cup went back to the script. Seattle Sounders made their fourth consecutive US Open Cup Final, having won the previous three, where they will face a Sporting Kansas City side so determined to land some silverware of their own that they have outbid perennial Cup Final hosts, Seattle, for the right to home field advantage on August 8th.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

London Olympics 2012: Spain and Other Teams That Will Destroy Their Groups

Olympic football doesn't bring the same level of intensity as World Cup or European Championship competition, but the 2012 London Olympics will still boast some intriguing football matchups.

While the Olympics may seem second-rate, international competition is international competition, and entire nations still care deeply about the outcome.

There are 16 teams that will be vying for a medal this summer. All but three will come away disappointed.

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Thursday's Rumours


Rewind to 2001: Veron Moves to Manchester

On July 12, 2001, Manchester United paid £28.1 million for Lazio midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron to make him the most expensive player in British football history. The move was hailed as a transfer coup for the club, but he failed to settle and was unable to live up to his considerable hype before moving to Chelsea just two years later.

Pele delivered pizzas for a Santos marketing campaign

For the purposes of an ad campaign concocted by Santos' marketing department, Pele dressed in the uniform of a local pizza shop and spent a night making deliveries to unsuspecting customers.

John Terry Trial: final speeches pit sarcasm against 'straight racial abuse'

Accused footballer maintains he was sarcastically repeating a racist slur rather than abusing QPR player Anton Ferdinand.

FIFA leaders 'knew millions of pounds had been paid to officials'

Fifa's leaders knew senior officials had been paid millions of pounds in bribes, according to a court document. Former president Joao Havelange and executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira were named on Wednesday as having been paid huge sums by Fifa's former marketing partner ISL.

Neither were disciplined by Fifa. Instead, Fifa paid £1.64m (2.5million Swiss francs) compensation to a Swiss court on the condition criminal proceedings were dropped.

Jonathan Wilson: Emerson Leão knows the difficulties Ney Franco may face at São Paulo

Emerson Leão is notoriously cantankerous and dismissive of journalists, so I confess I was a little apprehensive when I went to interview him in Brazil in February. He was the coach of São Paulo at the time, so we met before training one morning at the club's leafy training complex. He talked, forcefully but agreeably enough, about his experiences playing in goal for Brazil in the 1974 and 1978 World Cups and seemed genuinely interested in the book I was researching on the history of goalkeeping (it should come out later this year).

He even referred to it in a press conference later that day, although he referred to me as "an American journalist".

The club's media officer, evidently happy with how things were progressing, wandered off, at which Leão's tone abruptly changed. The flow of anecdotes ended. He stopped talking up how great he had been, how he'd bought a training video for goalkeepers in West Germany and found that he was used in 70% of the clips, how he'd been the first goalkeeper to captain Brazil at the World Cup. He suddenly became a man fighting desperately against a changing world, a coach who, frankly, could see his end coming.

Norman Hubbard: Championship clubs aim for jackpot

The sale of the Premier League's broadcast rights for £1 billion a year from 2013 to BT and Sky means a 70% rise in television revenue for top-flight clubs. Meanwhile, last season's was the first featuring increased parachute payments for clubs demoted to the Championship, worth £16 million a year for the first two campaigns and £48 million in total.

The impact was immediate. Whereas previous refugees from the Premier League have made a swift descent into the division's lower reaches, West Ham, Birmingham and Blackpool all reached the play-offs. But for the financial problems caused by Carson Yeung's disastrous ownership and the complications of their cup runs, Blues would probably have secured automatic promotion. West Ham, with the division's largest wage bill, went up at Wembley.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

England: 10 players who will feel they need to impress in the Premier League this season

We are just a few weeks away from the start of the Premier League season and all eyes will be on how the new managers and summer signings get on. But it is also a fresh start for those who may have struggled to command regular starting places in the past, as well as players keen to show they can perform in the top flight after winning promotion from the Championship. Others may have been written off as past their best or criticised for some below-par performances last term, and the new campaign represents the perfect opportunity to turn a corner. Sky Sports here counts down 10 players who will be especially motivated to show what they are capable of.

African football stars' exodus to China

After Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba left newly-crowned European champions Chelsea for Shanghai Shenhua last month, a number of other seasoned African internationals have quickly followed suit.
Nigeria striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni departed English side Blackburn Rovers for Guangzhou R&F on a three-year deal, swiftly followed by Mali's Frederic Kanoute, who signed a two-year contract with Beijing Guoan, having left Spanish side Sevilla. They have now been joined by Kanoute's compatriot, Seydou Keita, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Dalian Aerbin, after winning 14 trophies with Spanish giants Barcelona. So, what is attracting some of Africa's biggest names to China, besides the obvious lure of higher wages?

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Wednesday's Rumours


Pre-season globe-trotting is tour of duty for Premier League clubs

Top-flight has become a global brand via TV – but nothing builds fan bases – or swells the coffers – like a 17,000-mile summer tour.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas vows to learn lessons from Chelsea failure

New Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas insists he learned lessons from his short time at Chelsea but believes bringing silverware to Spurs is more important than his own reputation. Villas-Boas arrived at Stamford Bridge last summer amid huge fanfare but his intended revolution of the club hit the rocks and he was sacked in March after a string of disappointing results.

Maradona sacked by United Arab Emirates club Al-Wasl

Diego Maradona has been dismissed from his role as manager of United Arab Emirates club Al-Wasl following a trophyless season.

Tim Vickery in South America

Melo and Silva: Not silky smooth...
Spain's Euro 2012 triumph - their third consecutive international title - has prompted many to reach for comparisons with Brazilian sides of old in the quest to answer the bar-room question: Which is the world's best-ever international team? Fun stuff, but given the difficulties of comparing teams from different eras, it may be more worthwhile to peer in the other direction, looking forward rather than backward when making Brazil/Spain comparisons. The specific question is this: What impact might the success of Spain have on future Brazil sides?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2012 Olympics: Brazil Squad

Rafael Cabral (Santos), Neto (Fiorentina)

Marcelo (Real Madrid), Rafael (Manchester United), Danilo (Porto), Alex Sandro (Porto), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Juan (Inter Milan), Bruno Uvini (Sao Paulo)

Romulo (Vasco da Gama), Ganso (Santos), Oscar (Internacional), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur), Lucas (Sao Paulo)

Neymar (Santos), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Hulk (Porto)

Bad Lads: The pleasures of hating English football

IT IS TEMPTING to interpret the recurring delusion of the English national team’s unfulfilled potential by relating it to the delusion of the bottomless pool of British greatness, which is, of course, a mutation of imperial nostalgia. But the more prosaic, and reasonable, interpretation is that the establishment of the Premiership and its economic structure in 1992—which resulted in rivers of money flowing from TV rights and increased ticket prices—brought about a transformation of soccer from working-class pastime to front-page-friendly entertainment, made available to the affluent middle class and the sorry remnants of the working class by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

John Duerden: Keen Park Ranger

"It's finished, the party is over," said Guus Hiddink last Thursday evening as he sat next to Park Ji-sung at a Seoul press conference. The two had been reunited after a special ten-year anniversary game to mark the exploits of the 2002 World Cup team. Is it hindsight kicking in or did the Dutchman give a knowing look sideways to the South Korean? "Now it's time to look to the future. If you look to the past too much then you start to go downhill rapidly." None of the journalists in the room knew it at the time but Mark Hughes was also in Seoul and persuading the man who played over 200 games for Manchester United and won all kinds of medals, that the future was Queens Park Rangers.

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Tuesday's Rumours


MLS Week 18 Power Rankings

Three stars make their long-awaited returns, a host of scoreless draws occur and MLS' 2012 All-Stars are initially unveiled. That and more from MLS Week 18:

John Terry Case: Football, racism and a four-letter word

Chelsea player finally comes face-to-face with Anton Ferdinand over the incident that led to England losing their manager.

Ganso The Fallen Star

It's August 2010 and the Meninos da Vila (Kids of the Vila) are in full swing. Santos are crowned Copa do Brasil champions, their first national title in six years, and the back pages of the country's newspapers are dominated by the team's young stars. The Meninos of Robinho, Ganso, Neymar and Andre have amassed 27 goals between them in just ten games. An 18-year-old Neymar is the tournament's top-scorer and Ganso, just two years his senior, its best player. This was a tantalising glimpse of Brazil's future - Neymar and Ganso in tandem, leading club and country to glory.

Monday, July 09, 2012

2012 Olympics: Great Britain and Uruguay Squads

Great Britain

Jack Butland (Birmingham), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough)

Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea), Steven Caulker (Tottenham), Craig Dawson (West Brom), Micah Richards (Manchester City), Neil Taylor (Swansea), James Tomkins (West Ham)

Joe Allen (Swansea), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Jack Cork (Southampton), Ryan Giggs (Manchester United), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Scott Sinclair (Swansea)

Craig Bellamy (Liverpool), Marvin Sordell (Bolton), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea)


Martin Campana (Cerro Largo), Leandro Gelpi (Penarol)

Sebastian Coates (Liverpool), Diego Polenta (Genoa), Ramon Arias (Defensor Sporting), Alexis Rolin (Nacional), Emiliano Albin (Penarol).

Egidio Arevalo Rios (Palermo), Nicolas Lodeiro (Ajax), Matias Aguirregaray (Palermo), Gaston Ramirez (Bologna), Maximiliano Calzada (Nacional), Diego Rodriguez (Defensor Sporting)

Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Edinson Cavani (Napoli), Abel Hernandez (Palermo), Jonathan Urretaviscaya (Vitoria Guimaraes), Tabare Viudez (Nacional)

Rangers in crisis: Carlos Bocanegra to explore options with prospect of Ibrox club in Third Division

"A lot of the fans now are starting to turn on the players because that's all they have left to get angry at," said Bocanegra, the U.S. captain. "It's just a tough situation, an unfortunate situation. Anybody who's leaving or staying, it's just a personal decision for those guys. You can't blame anybody."

During his vacation at home in California, Bocanegra has spoken with his agent, Lyle Yorks, and said he will contact him after speaking with McCoist. He's played for Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire (2000-04), England's Fulham (2004-08), France's Rennes (2008-10) and Saint-Etienne (2010-11) and could see himself returning to MLS. He attended Kansas City's game Saturday night against Houston at Livestrong Sporting Park.

Stuart Holden striving for fitness in order to help Bolton's promotion hopes

The former Houston Dynamo midfielder is working in Delaware to recover from his knee injuries that have prevented him from playing over the past year.

In the 14 months since Stuart Holden ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Bolton Wanderers have gone from a team that challenged for a Europa League spot to one suffering relegation.

It's clear that Bolton misses the American international, but Holden hopes that he can return this season to help drag the English club back into the Premier League.

Monday MLS Breakdown: New York leans on its depth and waits for its stars to return

Red Bulls coach Hans Backe continues to coax performances out of his depth players as he attempts to cull his lengthy injury list.


MLS midseason awards ... and some second-half questions

MLS has hit the midway point of the 2012 season, with almost all teams playing at least 17 of their 34 matches (only Philadelphia and Columbus will have yet to hit that point by the end of the weekend). This season has been marked by retroactive punishments, massive disappointments (Los Angeles, FC Dallas, Portland, Philadelphia and Toronto FC for starters), a pair of coaching changes, intensified rivalries, another expansion team, another new soccer-specific stadium and another class of big-name international talent -- both young and old -- making waves in North America. Here is a look at our midseason award winners and three emerging storylines to keep an eye on for the final half of the season:

Tom Vickery in South America

Spain's win at Euro 2012 - their third consecutive major tournament win - has sparked off all kinds of comparisons in the bar room debate over the best international team of all time.

Of course, such conversations have a strong subjective component, but it is hard to formulate arguments against the facts - and a fourth consecutive trophy will surely tip the balance in Spain's favour.

But title number four looks set to be the hardest of the lot. It entails doing what no European team has ever done - winning the World Cup on South American soil when the world come to Brazil in 2014.

John Terry 'used racist obscenity in response to affair taunts'

Opening the prosecution, Duncan Penny said: "The crown alleges that the words he used demonstrated hostility based on Mr Ferdinand's membership or presumed membership of a racial group."

The court heard that Terry maintains he was only sarcastically repeating words that Ferdinand wrongly thought he had used.

Terry faces a maximum fine of £2,500 if convicted.

Didier Deschamps is new France coach, replacing Laurent Blanc

France's 1998 World Cup-winning captain left Marseille almost a week ago and replaces Laurent Blanc, who quit after the national side's Euro 2012 quarter-final defeat by Spain, the eventual winners.

Deschamps' first job will be to unite an often fractious squad as they attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil via a difficult group, including Spain, who are also world champions.

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Monday's Rumours



The Trawler

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.