Is Manchester United in meltdown?
Manchester United have lost 11 times under manager David Moyes this season.
February 26th, 2014
01:08 PM ET

Is Manchester United in meltdown?

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.”

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How not to appoint a football manager
David Moyes has had a challenging start to his career as Manchester United manager.
January 23rd, 2014
12:30 PM ET

How not to appoint a football manager

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.

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Big data and football’s search for the Holy Grail
Luis Suarez's transfer value has doubled since the striker joined Liverpool from Dutch club Ajax in 2011.
November 6th, 2013
12:35 PM ET

Big data and football’s search for the Holy Grail

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

AC Milan focuses on brain power to develop young players
Has the brain been overlooked in relation to improving footballers' performances? (Getty Images)
October 22nd, 2013
12:07 PM ET

AC Milan focuses on brain power to develop young players

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

Adnan Januzaj and Diego Costa: 'Your country needs YOU! But which country?'
Diego Costa could play for Spain at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the country of his birth. (Getty Images)
October 8th, 2013
11:59 AM ET

Adnan Januzaj and Diego Costa: 'Your country needs YOU! But which country?'

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

Luis Suarez returns: Demon or genius?
Suarez scored 23 goals in 33 English Premier League games for Liverpool last season. (Getty Images)
September 24th, 2013
09:26 AM ET

Luis Suarez returns: Demon or genius?

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

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Will Belgium win the World Cup?
Belgium are unbeaten in World Cup qualifying having won seven of their eight group games. (Getty Images)
September 10th, 2013
10:54 AM ET

Will Belgium win the World Cup?

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

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August 22nd, 2013
03:03 PM ET

August 16th, 2013
11:55 AM ET

Et tu Brutus? Football’s loyal lieutenants
Paul Clement has worked under Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, PSG and now Real Madrid. (Getty Images).
July 5th, 2013
11:02 AM ET

Et tu Brutus? Football’s loyal lieutenants

“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

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