It’s football’s eternal search for the transfer market’s Holy Grail.
To discover a way where the numbers add up - and just as importantly to correctly interpret those numbers - and cheaply sign a player who goes on to become a star for your team, or someone you sell for a lot of money.
Many have tried and many have failed in trying to bring precision to this imprecise science. FULL POST
While Italian football club Internazionale acquired new owners last week, there were also profound changes going on at city rival AC Milan.
The club that has won the Italian league 18 times and the European Champions League seven times is rethinking its youth structure’s organization - in future, Milan officials hope to tap in to the power of the brain.
For cerebral help, they have turned to a couple of Belgians - former Standard Liege coach Jose Riga and pioneering youth coach Michel Bruyninckx - to help influence the way the club develops its young players.
Milan has long had a reputation as a club that leaves nothing to chance in the pursuit of excellence. This after all is the team with its very own science establishment - the MilanLab - which it describes as a “high tech interdisciplinary scientific research center” to provide “the best possible management of individual well being and health” for its players. FULL POST
It is arguably World War I's most iconic image - Lord Kitchener’s handlebar-mustached face, with his pointing finger almost coming out of the poster, above the slogan: “Your country needs YOU.”
Now superimpose Kitchener’s face with that of England manager Roy Hodgson or Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, with their pointing fingers above the slogan: “I’m a bit short of players: Your country needs YOU.”
Long gone are the days when a manager would pick his international squad from a collection of players born in their homeland. War, ethnic conflict and the relentless march of globalization have changed all that. FULL POST
It has been a long five-month wait for Luis Suarez but football’s enfant terrible is back.
It is hard to think of another player who splits opinion as much Suarez. Loved by Liverpool fans, though their affection was severely tested during the recent transfer window as the Uruguayan sought a move away from Anfield in search of Champions League football, he is equally loathed by many other supporters and neutrals.
Suarez is eligible to play for Liverpool in the League Cup - England’s third tier competition - against Manchester United on Wednesday after completing a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanonic.
Given Suarez’s history with United –- his eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra and then his refusal to shake the French international defender’s hand on his eventual return to action –- the Liverpool striker, if he plays at Old Trafford, is guaranteed a hostile reception. He probably wouldn’t want it any other way. FULL POST
No. But the fact that a nation with a population of just 11 million people is being mentioned as World Cup dark horses is nothing short of remarkable given Belgium have failed to qualify for their last five major tournaments.
Marc Wilmots’ side top their European qualifying group and even if they lose to Croatia in the next game, victory in their final game –- at home to Wales –- will take Belgium to the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
The assorted talents of Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Simon Mignolet, Thomas Vermaelen, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and Christian Benteke are players well known to English Premier League watchers. FULL POST
“We are a family, and the loyalty of the family must come before anything and everyone else. For if we honor that commitment, we will never be vanquished, but if we falter in that loyalty we will all be condemned," wrote Mario Puzo, the author of the GodFather.
Like night follows day, whenever a football manager joins a new club, their loyal lieutenants inevitably follow.
After all, when you are a footballing Caesar the last thing you want is a Brutus knifing you in the back.
So after Carlo Ancelotti moved from Saint-Germain to Real Madrid his long-time assistant Paul Clement was by his side. A wise move given the huge pressure the Italian will be under managing the Spanish club.
Over in Bavaria, when Pep Guardiola recently started work at Bayern Munich he brought with him not one, not two, not three, but four members of his support staff from old club Barcelona - Manuel Estiarte, assistant coach Domenec Torrent, scout and video analyst Carles Planchart and fitness coach Lorenzo Buenaventura. FULL POST
No pressure then for the current wearers of the famed yellow shirt as they prepare to meet current World Cup champions Spain in the Confederations Cup final on Sunday in Rio de Janiero's Maracana Stadium.
Brazil's captain Carlos Alberto scored the final goal in the 4-1 destruction of Italy in the 1970 World Cup final - arguably the most perfect epitaph to a team that had captivated millions of people watching across the globe who were not lucky enough to be in the Azteca Stadium on that June 21 day.
Encompassing wonderful individual skill within the framework of a team that seemed to have an almost telepathic understanding, the move that led to the goal started with Tostao deep in his own half.
By the time Alberto had crashed the ball into the net the majority of the team's outfield players had been involved in the build up to its devastating denouement.
There was midfielder Clodoaldo bewitching a quartet of Italian players, with Rivelino and Jairzinho also linking up.
Jairzinho then passed to Pele, who was standing just outside the penalty box's "D". Time seemed to stop as Pele assessed his options - before sensing Alberto’s run to his right - he nonchalantly flicked the ball into the path of his captain. The rest is history. FULL POST
The final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil’s Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro is just over a year away, but already it’s difficult to look any further than Spain as tournament winners.
That’s a statement likely to provoke guffaws from hosts Brazil, who hope home advantage will propel the South American side to a record-extending sixth title.
Argentina, who have the world’s best player Lionel Messi in their team, might also have something to say about that prediction. FULL POST