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Rafa for England…
Let’s assume that England want the best possible candidate as manager but they don’t want to buy someone out of a contract. Rafa Benitez is probably the perfect international manager, assuming Newcastle do still go down and he walks away in the summer.
He has painstaking attention to detail; his organisational work before a big game is second to none. He drills players so intently. It’s why Liverpool were so effective in the European Cup under him.
He’s a tactical genius for single games. Not many managers can outsmart him, his record in big games is amazing. Has he ever lost a cup final other than Athens?
His weakness of poor man management is negated because as an international manager he doesn’t have to put his arm around the guy struggling for form; he just picks the best players he can.
He lives in Liverpool anyway. So no relocation hassle for him. Everyone is happy. Now to work out who would be the equivalent of Djimi Traore when England win the World Cup under Rafa in 2018…
Only one Englishman for the job…
In response to where are all the British managers for the England job. There is only really one man for it and that’s Eddie Howe.
The FA are heavily promoting England DNA, grassroots coaching, etc etc to anyone who will listen…which is basically wannabe coaches like me who go on coaching badge courses. Eddie Howe may as well be the poster child to what any English coach can achieve.
Start from the bottom and get to the top by playing football the right way and developing players as you go. Not only is he everything the FA would want to promote in a coach he is well mannered and an all round good chap. The likes you can hang your hat on for any organisation.
Only question is how will they go about it? Will they demand he leave his outstanding work at Bournemouth and take the top job or will they go rogue and allow him to stay on with Bournemouth and be England manager as well.
I personally can’t see why not. He is based in the South and I think having someone of his youth, hard work ethic and pretty much obsession for the game to only work on each international break is a crime. Plus he wont like it.
We all take the England job on Football Manager and Fifa as well as stay on at our respective clubs. Why cant this be achieved in the real world.
People brand English Football as being constantly behind the times. Having the best English manager work week in week out and also take his country could be the future.
Why not start a trend all countries may take on for years to come?
ToonBano (Good luck Ed)
Was Rodgers thinking of his statue?
This is something that I first considered when Brendan Rodgers was at the peak of his Liverpool career during the ‘almost season’ when Liverpool, in the second half of the season were sweeping all aside in glorious fashion. Whenever Liverpool scored a goal Brendan would adopt two rather profound celebratory poses; firstly the one handed, closed fist, arm raise and the second, the two-armed raise with a serious, fixed stare on his face. The second one, you chose to put as the title picture to yesterday’s mailbox and it’s a pose that I always felt was rather contrived and gave a little clue away as to Brendan’s rather narcissistic nature. You see I think that the pose/celebration was forced in such a way that he thought if he was to win the league that season and on top of all his pseudo-philosophy babble that he would be honoured in the same way as the great Bill Shankly and have a statue erected outside Anfield of the said pose. I believe that he thought after delivering (but ultimately not) the much sought after Premier League Amber nectar that he would be immediately sized up for a bronze cast and so thought that it was necessary to adopt a number of ‘iconic’ poses.
This is something that always struck me as true about Rodgers. I’ve always thought he seemed like a decent bloke but always under the surface there was a degree of selfishness and ‘staged behaviour’ about him that didn’t sit well with me. I always had a feeling that his celebrations were more about him and his ‘legacy’ rather than being genuinely pleased that the team had just scored and secured another three points.
Mark (Ranieri on the other hand is cool!) LFC
Glorious failure on its way…
Prediction for rest of Arsenal’s season: We play really well tonight, get a draw or even a narrow win and just miss out on going through. Wenger praises the team’s spirit and bravery. We go on a six-game winning streak, get ourselves back in the title race but then drop points against Sunderland and Villa. Finish third, Wenger talks about his disappointment about missing out on the title but says he’s very encouraged by our progress. He keeps his job, and the cycle continues.
Atmosphere at Etihad is embarrassing
I can’t help but be bemused by the atmosphere in the Etihad last night. Yes City played awful and Kyiv posed no problems but this should have been a festival to the progress that City have made over the last number of years.
This is what City wanted, to be among Europe’s elite! You didn’t see Bayern and gheir fans go weakly into the night towards the end of the season before Guardiola arrived. There’s a bizarre atmosphere around that team and club at the moment. I suppose this is a chicken and egg position as to whether fans feed players or vice versa but I find no excuse for that pathetic atmosphere last night.
Royston (Mangala is comically poor at football) Queen
What about Denayer for City?
With Vincent Kompany suffering another calf injury and fast becoming the Daniel Sturridge of City, I wanted to know what City fans hope Pep will do to resolve the lack of defence without their captain? Are you wanting him to throw money at it and hope it works or for me (Clive) I would like to see him give a chance to Jason Denayer. He was phenomenal at Celtic last season, just look at the struggles they have had in defence without him this season.
Not to mention he would also make the quota for homegrown players.
Michael M (Aberdonian in Glasgow)
The sourest of grapes here
If Leicester do it, hats off to them. There remaining fixtures read: Palace, Soton, Sunderland, West Ham, Man Utd, Everton, Chelsea. For this reason I think Arsenal and City are far from out of it. Plenty of banana skins their, certain things do need to regress to the mean for this to happen though.
I’ve personally given up on any Leicester (or Tottenham for that matter) players getting injured. Yesterday’s mailboxes said they’ve wisely bought big, robust players. More importantly they have few established internationals. The biggest names in the top tier have all had patchy form and fitness. Especially for South Americans, who have had ridiculous international schedules. Considering all the Italian and Spanish experience help by Ranieri and Pochettino, there is another more sinister possibility too.
I have also been wondering if the fortunes of the referee’s whistles might regress to the mean. No one expected Wes Morgan’s blatant handball in the area late on against Newcastle to be given. Like Rashford’s against Arsenal, it would be too narrative busting to even talk about. Then when Leicester players spent 90 seconds of the three minutes added on in that game time wasting off the pitch the ref just couldn’t bring himself to do anything about it. Five seconds added on to the three minutes. I genuinely think only the contrarian stylings of Mike Dean might be capable of making a big call against them.
The complete my drift into the pre-emptive sour grapes, we will also wonder what sort of a performance Chelsea are going to give against Leicester on the final day. On the other hand, their game against West Ham might end up being the gamer of the season. Bitterly yours.
…I happen to think Leicester deserve more credit than Citizen Smike gave them. They’re very good and would deserve the title if they win it. But, as a friend of mine mentioned to me, they are good the way Italy are, in that they leave you feeling you were better than them, even though they were more effective than you.
The real reasons to dislike them are that incessant clapping and the likelihood that they will reduce England’s coefficient to the point that we will only have three CL teams.
To be fair, we have Arsenal and the Manchester clubs to blame for that. Mostly Arsenal.
Michael K, NY Spurs
Ranieri has out-Pulised Pulis
Really interesting article there about Leicester and their highly ‘effective’ style of play.
On close inspection, with Leicester second only to West Brom in many respects, it seems to say that Ranieri has Pulis-ed Leicester to the top of the league!
British managers aren’t even the best at clogging anymore…
Chris (please, please, please let it happen), Manc
Leicester > Everton
I can say that Leicester’s plan A is much better than my Everton’s plan A.
And while I haven’t seen their plan B, it’s better than Everton’s too.
TX Bill (I’d take Plan Z if it meant us stopping goals from going into the net) EFC
Who wins aerial duels?
Doing my usual stats-obsessed thing, I’ve been looking at a stat that doesn’t get much attention: percentage of aerial duels won. It’s a good stat, because it’s relatively clean. You’re either good in the air or you’re not, and the team you play for shouldn’t make much difference, as near as I can tell. Anyway, here are some interesting nuggets from this season:
* League-wide, central defenders win about 64% of their aerial duels. Among those who have played at least 1350 minutes (half the season), the leader, much to my surprise, is Dejan Lovren, at 81%. Two years ago at Southampton he was a below-average 60%, last year a very good 72.5%. Looks like he’s improving every year — but might he be concentrating on aerial play to the detriment of the rest of his game?
* Another CB with surprisingly high numbers is Sebastian Bassong (73%). Compare this to acknowledged strong aerial players like Virgil van Dijk (72%), Jonas Olsson (74%), and Per Mertesacker (76%). At the bottom of the table are the Newcastle pair of Fabrizio Coloccini (49%) and Chancel Mbemba (47%). Surprisingly low are Ashley Williams (57%) and Robert Huth (60%).
* Among strikers, the average league-wide is around 38%, and the leaders are Graziano Pelle (56%), Olivier Giroud (53%), and Troy Deeney (51%). Rudy Gestede (57%) and Christian Benteke (56%) would be up there if they’d played a few more minutes.
* Bottom of the pile among strikers? The Leicester City pair of Shinji Okazaki (27%) and Jamie Vardy (29%). Remarkable, because Kasper Schmeichel delivers a very large number of long balls. Ranieri has evidently decided that it doesn’t matter if you win the first ball, if you’re close enough to get the second.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
If we ever do a ten of square footballers…
Only just read your top ten of fat footballers.
Does Shaqiri not merit a mention? The man is as tall as he is wide. Mind you he’s more like one giant (but somehow diminutive) muscle. I’m worried if he pulls someone’s shirt he’ll tear the fabric of reality.
Oh bloody hell BT
That’s it, I’ve had to turn the sound down forever on BT Sport.
Rio Ferdinand, twice before kick off City v Kiev, “The first goal is absolutely crucial.”
Fact, at 3-1 Kiev need to score three goals to win. If City score first, Kiev still need to score three goals. It changes nothing.
Robbie Savage’s commentary is beyond description.
And with Michael Owen believing that “City hardly ever win when they don’t score”, I just can’t take any more.
Surely people earning good money displaying that sort of stupidity and mal-comprehension of the subject they are being paid to describe shouldn’t be employed? I would survive in my day job given that level of incompetence.
Steve MCFC, South of France