By John Sinnott
It was a side that thrilled the English Premier League.
From the glut of goals provided by Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, to the speed of Raheem Sterling and the guile of Philippe Coutinho, as well as the deployment of Steven Gerrard as football's answer to the quarterback, Liverpool's re-emergence last season was the arguably the biggest surprise in the race for the title.
If Liverpool ultimately fell short in finishing second, some compensation came in the form of player awards for Suarez and a manager of the year award for Brendan Rodgers.
But one man’s name was never mentioned in despatches in discussions as to why a team that had finished seventh the previous season gave eventual winners Manchester City the fright of their lives.
That man was Ian Graham, a Cambridge graduate, who holds a PhD in theoretical physics. FULL POST
When former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson steps up to the lectern to deliver the first of his Harvard Business School lectures in May, he won’t be short of material.
He knows all about the art of building winning teams, how to deal with the pressure of the media and, of course, the secrets of time management, more commonly known in football circles as "Fergie Time."
Ferguson retired last May after claiming a 13th English Premier League title with United - the 49th and final trophy of an illustrious 39-year career in football management.
It’s a record of unparalleled achievement, but barely a year after the Scot stepped down it appears there is one gaping hole in the Ferguson management repertoire - successful succession planning. FULL POST
The jokes came thick and fast on Twitter after Manchester United’s 2-0 first leg Champions League defeat by Olympiakos in Athens: “The greatest Hellenic triumph since George Michael’s Careless Whisper.”
Former footballers were equally unforgiving: "MUFC have had the odd bad day over the years, but I cannot recall such an abject, hopeless, forlorn performance,” tweeted ex-England international Gary Lineker. “And against such mediocrity."
Then there were the photoshopped pictures of Manchester United’s tactical shape joined together by a thick red line spelling out “LOL.”
Wednesday’s media headlines tightened the tourniquet.
Tabloid newspaper the Sun went for full punning scorn: “Pitta-ful Utd in Greek tragedy as fans demand … MOUSACKA MOYES.”
For most job vacancies, a role is advertised, interested parties apply, interviews are held and an appointment is made.
It's a method Manchester United is currently using to fill a number of roles, such as a relationship manager and staffing manager, with the help of a recruitment website that describes itself as “executive career service for high caliber professionals.”
But the process of appointing a football manager remains rather ad hoc, none more so than in the case of David Moyes, who has had –- as baptisms of fire go - quite a grilling since succeeding Alex Ferguson at the helm of one of the world's biggest clubs.
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