Monthly Archives: May 2016

Copa America 2016 shirts: Ranked

The Copa America 2016 is upon us, only a year after the last one to celebrate the centenary since the first. It’s a special occasion, and so it is more important than ever to judge how each team will be dressing. Disclaimer, football shirts can be dramatically affected by the combination with the entire kit, or front-of-the-shirt shirt numbers, but we go on what we have.

16 – USA Continue reading

Liverpool’s centre-back rebuilding job is one I do not envy

Liverpool are in a tricky spot regarding centre-backs. Skrtel’s agent has said that he’s 90% sure to be leaving, Kolo Touré seems like he might be going too, and Mamadou Sakho is awaiting a ban which may lead to the club Sakhing him (sorry).

That leaves Dejan Lovren, unpredictable under Rodgers but more solid under Klopp, and Joel Matip as the players on the board for next season. At the least, Liverpool will have to bring two more central defenders into the first team squad.

This would be a difficult task at the best of times, but this season will perhaps be the all-time peak in terms of centre-back transfers among the top clubs. Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea will all definitely be in the market around Liverpool’s level, and Everton may be too depending on how they choose to reinvest what seems sure to be a large amount of money they receive for John Stones. Arsenal might want to bring someone in as Koscielny and Mertesacker age. Leicester might want to upgrade their centre-halves and, hell, there’s a slim chance Spurs might want to bring in another young back-up to Alderweireld and Vertonghen as well. Continue reading

England’s centre-backs: vs Turkey

The match against Turkey, for Cahill and Stones, was generally a quiet affair. You could probably count the times they had to tax themselves to deal with the opposition on your fingers.

Turkey’s goal, in the 13th minute, was one of these, although really it should only count as a half-example. It was more a case of running and basic positioning than reading the game in a more advanced way.

Continue reading

Pick a number, any number… The End – a random number generated FM save

For this save, to SAVE (heh heh) me from feeling totally inadequate at football management, a random number generator (random.org, known on these pages as RANDOM) will be picking my formation before each match from the below list:

  1. 2-5-3
  2. 3-4-3
  3. 3-5-2
  4. 4-2-4
  5. 4-4-2
  6. 4-5-1
  7. 5-4-1
  8. 5-3-2

Part One, taking charge for pre-season at DC United, is here.
Part Two, the first ten games of the season, is here.

So. This isn’t the end of my save, but I’m into the second season friendlies and the interest in the gimmick of the save is wearing off, so summing up the first season seems like a good end point to writing about this save. It’s the idea that I think people will care most about, after all. Continue reading

Liverpool vs Sevilla – Europa League final match report

From the start, this Europa League final had been a disappointing affair for Liverpool Football Club. The 10,000 tickets for their fans, and these fans being warned that accommodation in Basel was all sold out, can now be re-written as signs from the footballing gods. The comeback against Dortmund too, defying all reasonable odds and expectations. “You weren’t meant to be here”, they whisper through the fabric of time, “You weren’t meant to be here”.

At half-time, though, Liverpool will have felt like they were exactly where they belonged, winning a European final. Oh, how the gods like to toy with us.

The first period of the match, until Sturridge’s fantastic strike, was a fairly even affair. Neither side had really clicked, and there had been very few real chances. Sevilla seemed to want to play direct, but ran into the Liverpool defence and midfield, who were also counter-pressing whenever they lost the ball. Continue reading

Pick a number, any number… TWO – a random number generated FM save

For this save, to SAVE (heh heh) me from feeling totally inadequate at football management, a random number generator (random.org, known on these pages as RANDOM) will be picking my formation before each match from the below list:

  1. 2-5-3
  2. 3-4-3
  3. 3-5-2
  4. 4-2-4
  5. 4-4-2
  6. 4-5-1
  7. 5-4-1
  8. 5-3-2

Part One, taking charge for pre-season at DC United, is here.

Coming off my 7 friendlies and the few signings I’d made (Juan Niño, Perry Kitchen, and Tyler Adams*), I made a couple more free signings around the start of the MLS regular season. Chris Schuling, a 27-year old centre-back, was brought in to bolster the squad in case RANDOM made me play with 3 CBs a lot. Gabino Velasco, a central midfielder, was also signed. He’s 31, which doesn’t exactly fit my goal of reducing the age of the side, but he’s been fantastic for us so far at ten games in. [*My mistake on Tyler Adams in the first instalment of this; Tyler Adams was drafted in the March waiver draft, not the MLS SuperDraft]. Continue reading

Manchester United squad – Chuck, Stand-by, Keep

Due to some, to put it simply, twat and their hoax bomb, Manchester United’s 2015/16 (Premier League) season looks like it will be prolonged for a little while longer. However, thoughts have been turning to the next campaign for a while, and now seems a good time to consider the current squad, who should be moved on, and where can be improved. Who should be chucked outright? Who should be left hanging around on stand-by as a decent back-up or prospect? Who should be kept as a starter? Chuck, Stand-by, Keep.

Goalkeepers:

David de Gea – Keep: This time, let’s just smash up the fax machine and call it an accident. Dave saves, Dave stays.

Sergio Romero – Stand-by: Was pretty decent when he was started at the beginning of the season, under the cloud of De Gea’s then-imminent departure. Definitely a decent back-up.

Victor Valdes – Stand-by: I don’t know if he’s still at the club. He’s on the club website’s squad page but doesn’t have a number, so who knows, but I’d keep him around if he wants to stay.

Centre-backs:

Chris Smalling – Keep: Though there are faults in his game, he is a decent enough centre-back, although I think he needs stronger communicators around him than he has this season. Also, you’d be a fool to let him go with what little else we have in terms of defensive quality.

Daley Blind – Stand-by: Ideally, Smalling would be United’s second-best centre-back in the starting XI; that’s the kind of level I think he’s at. Blind is clearly not better than Smalling, but is a very useful back-up to have available, and his versatility also makes him a great player to have on the bench. Continue reading