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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June 28th, 2013
02:40 PM ET

Do Brazil still play the beautiful game?

Neymar has scored three superb goals during the Confederations Cup. (Getty Images).
Neymar has scored three superb goals during the Confederations Cup. (Getty Images).

While Brazil’s World Cup winning team in 1970 entranced the world it ensured that that golden generation became the benchmark by which every subsequent Brazilian coach and player would be measured.

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

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June 18th, 2013
02:21 PM ET

Can anyone stop Spain at 2014 World Cup?

Andres Iniesta was outstanding for Spain in the 2-1 Confederations Cup win over Uruguay. (Getty Images).
Andres Iniesta was outstanding for Spain in the 2-1 Confederations Cup win over Uruguay. (Getty Images).

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

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December 12th, 2012
10:58 AM ET

Is Barca boss Vilanova coach of the year?

Master and the apprentice: Vilanova assumed Guardiola's mantle in June. (Getty Images)
Master and the apprentice: Vilanova assumed Guardiola's mantle in June. (Getty Images)

Amid all the hyperbole that surrounded Lionel Messi’s record breaking achievements in surpassing Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old landmark for the most goals in a calendar year, one man has been seemingly forgotten - Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova.

Which is probably just the way Vilanova likes it.

When he took over from Pep Guardiola in June after his former boss decided to take a sabbatical from the game, Vilanova looked like he was on a hiding to nothing. In much the same way that Bob Paisley must have felt when he took over from legendary Liverpool coach Bill Shankly.

Over four years Guardiola - with Vilanova as his assistant - had won 14 trophies as Barcelona steamrollered the opposition both at home and abroad.

From the anonymity of the Barca boot room, suddenly all the pressure was on a 43-year-old man who had arguably only once come to the attention of the world’s media after being poked in the eye by Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho during a Spanish SuperCup game in 2011. FULL POST

September 18th, 2012
10:54 AM ET

Whatever happened to Rafa Benitez?

Rafael Benitez has been out of work since being sacked by Inter Milan in December 2010.
Rafael Benitez has been out of work since being sacked by Inter Milan in December 2010.

This December Spanish coach Rafael Benitez will have been out of work for two years. He has his website, plus plenty of media commitments to keep him busy, but for a coach that has been working as a manager since 1986 that must be like a living purgatory.

Like the majority of managers, Benitez gives the impression that he thinks and breathes football every minute, every hour, every day of his life.

In his new book “Champions League Dreams ”  with Times journalist Rory Smith, the Spaniard, who was Liverpool’s manager for six years between 2004 and 2010, provides a glimpse into the quest for perfection by describing the layout of his Melwood office at the club’s training ground. FULL POST

July 5th, 2012
06:23 PM ET

Will FIFA regret opening technology can of worms?

England have been involved in three notable goal-line technology controversies since 1966.
England have been involved in three notable goal-line technology controversies since 1966.

Good enough for American Football, basketball, baseball, tennis, rugby league, rugby union and cricket; good enough even for the Professional Bull Riders organization; and now finally, good enough for association football.

Following the countless pleadings of managers, players, the media and the fans after some horrendously embarrassing examples of goals that have not been given despite the ball crossing the line, FIFA is to allow the use of technology in the sport.

After years of opposition Sepp Blatter, through FIFA’s law-making body the International Football Association Board has given the thumbs up, even if UEFA president Michel Platini’s digit remains fiercely down as he continues to oppose this new development. FULL POST

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