If you don’t buy a ticket…

I’m still on a little break from writing 90 second posts, but great writers keep coming forward. This time Alessandro Amasanti writes about penalties, and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s rather excellent. Read then follow @agamasanti on twitter.

When it comes to football, I’ve always been uneasy with the clichéd use of the word ‘technically’.

‘He’s technically excellent with the ball’, ‘Brazil are much more technically advanced than their opposition’, ‘Stuart Downing is technically useless’.
Take out the ‘t’ word from each of those sentiments and they all mean exactly the same thing as when the offending eleven letters are included.

However, I’m about to instantly contradict myself. Spain and Italy in last Thursday’s Confeds (Get with it, granddad) semi-final demonstrated their technical superiority over England. The Three Lion’s continental cousins, bar one Leonardo Bonucci, gave a masterclass in executing spot kicks, consistently foxing the two best goalkeepers in the world to find the corners.

Penalty shoot outs are widely acknowledged as nothing more than a lottery, so going by that reckoning, England’s numbers must surely be due to come up. Either that, or the theory that converting a ball from twelve yards is pot luck must be balderdash.

A penalty is football in its truest form. A player trying to put the ball past a goalkeeper. I’ll take your point that pressure plays a part. I’ll take your point that it doesn’t always result in the best team progressing. Yet, to horribly misquote Brian Clough, you can take all these points and stick them in the biggest dustbin you can find.

A penalty shoot-out is no more a lottery than having a thirty yard shot is. If your team gets a pen in the 90 minutes, you’re so damn convinced you’re going to score you instantly celebrate regardless of the fact that anyone who’s anyone will tell you successful conversion is akin to the random selection of forty-nine coloured, numbered spheres from a plastic dome.

England can’t take penalties because the likes of Darius Vassell and Gareth Southgate are inferior to Xavi and Andrea Pirlo. If you’re good enough, you’ll score.

I think anyone with a modicum of sense would admit that of the fourteen that stepped up in Fortaleza, Bonucci was the least able with a ball at his feet. Spain’s biggest attacking threats, necessarily, didn’t all take one (Jesus Navas’ numbers last season show him to be little more than a glorified Adam Johnson) yet they’ve all got the ability to demonstrate a skill they’ve clearly honed by repetition when required.

If England want to win shoot-outs in future tournaments they need to start producing technically better players.

If England want to produce technically better players, they need to produce better players. Because in today’s modern game, technically means nothing, yet technique means everything.


The Day of a Dutchman

Once again by busy schedule (sitting on the sofa in my pants) has got in the way so I offer you this rather brilliant post by @krlhnsen

Wilfried Bony from Vitesse is being tracked by almost every single Premier League team. And why not? He is tall, physically strong and heads like a rhinoceros. The stereotypical ideal striker for most English clubs. The following Premier League teams are linked to Bony:
Arsenal, Aston Villa, Cardiff City, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United (source: WZV). Quite a bunch, to be honest. The latest rumours said Bony will be off to Swansea, but an official statement of Vitesse denied these reports. He’ll probably be signed by Swansea in a couple of days.

Meanwhile PSV are looking to replace their current defence, just because they have the pace and agility of a pair of invalid chairs, with another scrappy defender: Jeffrey Bruma. He is your average boy-wonder goes to a high end club way too soon with the universal currency sign in his eyes, fails, and, with a few sidesteps, returns to his home league. All the while not improving a bit. It has even gone worse: while playing for HSV, he was being replaced with Rajkovic, a player who wasn’t good enough for Vitesse, Twente and the aforementioned PSV. Bruma will be officially signed this coming Monday.

The Scottish team Ross County is, like the writer, into Dutch football, seen from the fact that they have already signed four players from the Eredivsie this summer alone. One of those players is Darren Maatsen, former player of Excelsior. According to the player, a little movie was made from his tricks and shots and next thing he knew, he had an traineeship at Ross County. We’ve seen this before with Ajax and Iván Gabrich. The striker made 10 appearances, no goals and is considered as one of the worst acquisitions of Ajax. Rumours go he even was a cabdriver instead of a professional footballer in Argentine.

The rest of the world is watching the Confederations Cup. The most exciting thing in football, after all regular competitions ended this season.

Chelsea is full of daddies

It’s great when other people offer to write posts for your blog, it’s even better when they are as truly excellent as Michiel Jongsma. Read this then follow him @jongsmajongsma Enjoy

Young Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel has been the subject of some transfer speculation recently. The 20 year old of Vitesse wants to join Ajax, but Vitesse have rejected their 7 million euros bid. However, it came to light today that they have accepted a 5 million euros offer of Chelsea. Why accept a lower offer? Well, because Ajax is direct competition, says Vitesse. No, it’s because dealing with Vitesse is indirectly dealing with Chelsea says Karel Jansen, the agent of Marco van Ginkel.
In short, Vitesse is Merab Jordania, Chelsea is Abramovich and Abramovich is Jordania’s daddy.

As things stand, Chelsea will transfer an amount of 5 million euros to Vitesse before the 1st of July, even though Marco van Ginkel is not sure where he wants to go. There has been no agreement between the player and the club. Van Ginkel is in some kind of limbo, with the only possible out at the moment being a contract at Chelsea. At Chelsea, he’d be bossed around by José Mourinho. The Portuguese wants him and by the looks of things, he will get what he wants. No wonder, because Abramovich may be a daddy, so is Mourinho. Ask Mickael Essien, he said so himself. Even with the clear lack of resemblance between the Ghanaian midfielder and the success coach. ‘Congratulations to ‘daddy’ Jose for securing your new job’, is what Essien tweeted.

André Villas-Boas is quite clearly not a daddy so it was no wonder that the former assistant of Daddy Mourinho couldn’t last at the London club for too long. Sacked after eight months and mainly, it is rumoured, because of the involvement of Frank Lampard, who wasn’t too happy with the handsome and tiny Portuguese fella. Frank Lampard is a daddy. He says stuff and people listen. And now, a 20 year old midfielder is about to be signed and Frank knows he has to nurture him.

Van Ginkel. A babyfaced assassin in midfield. He will soon be forced to man up, as he’s about to join a ‘Daddy’s Club’.

What happened today in football? Hayden Shaw edition

As I’m really busy/lazy tonight I sent out the call for a guest writer. Much like the average chat show host who lets a guest present whilst he’s on holiday, only to discover he’s been replaced on his return, I’ve been completely trumped by the superior writer this evening.

All credit must go to Hayden Shaw for this excellent post. Follow him on twitter now @elhaydo

In a move that hasn’t actually been news for weeks, Chelsea have secured the signing of Andre Schurrle – a player that depending on the commentator’s pronunciation could cause as much confusion to radio listeners as Nicky Butt (“Cole, Lampard, Schurrle” “Surely WHAT?”) and for Naked Gun fans provoke spontaneous bouts of “Don’t call me Shirley”. In other news he’s young, talented, German and a wide forward, something that Chelsea are currently short of.

Juventus are the latest club to be linked with the humanitarian move of freeing Carlos Tevez from his oppressive £6m per year salary at City, with the striker rumoured to be willing to take a pay cut if it gets him to a city with some sun and more than two restaurants. Talk of Wayne Rooney being reunited with Tevez in Turin turned out to be a misunderstanding as the club’s nickname is The Old Lady.

Real Madrid have replaced an ego-maniac with a Bond Villain look-a-like in the form of Carlo Ancelotti, who is in turn replaced by Laurent Blanc. Blanc’s appointment appears to have been the hold up in Ancelotti joining up with Madrid, with PSG wanting a replacement in place first. Rumours that Blanc was not first choice for the job suggest that their HR department took more time than expected to see through the deception and slightly racist “foreign spelling” in “Sam Allardycé’s covering letter.

Gerrard Kinsella has been banned for two years after testing positive for anabolic steroids. The fact that he took performance enhancing drugs and still played for Fleetwood Town is one of the more depressing things this blog has heard, but it at least suggests that technique is ever so slightly more important than raw physicality – someone should probably tell Stuart Pearce.

What happened today in football? 24/6/18

I’ll be honest I’m already wavering on these daily posts. Nobody is reading them, but I will persevere as I don’t want to give up so easily.

Another stellar day in football. Maybe that’s the reason nobody is reading these, because nothing of note is actually happening. Can’t be that, people trawl the Internet to find a tenuous link, that they then use to convince themselves a player is signing for their club.

David Dunn, of chicken advert fame, has signed a new deal at Blackburn Rovers.

Kasper Schmeichel insists he’s not asked to leave Leicester, which means he almost definitely has asked to leave.

Huddersfield completed the double signing of Jon Stead & Adam Hammill, meaning we’ll only sign players who used to play for us. I personally can’t wait to see David May back in defence & Ben Thornley on the wing.

Doncaster have signed a former Real Madrid player, I’ve not done the research so I’m guessing it’s Luis Figo.

They’ve also given Brian Horton a job, which is good as I saw him in a press room recently and he looked terribly lost.

See you tomorrow

Finding our level: the return of Jon Stead

About 10 years ago Huddersfield Town found themselves in the forth tier of English football, and around this time Jon Stead started to shine.

He’d previously been a terrible, gangly striker with a penchant for rare but always deflected goals, but suddenly it clicked for him.

Now at this point 2 things became clear: Huddersfield Town were at their lowest ebb and Jon Stead was clearly too good for them.

Stead left to play in the Premier League, and although he made an immediate impact, it swiftly became clear that this was not his level.

He looked out of his depth in the top flight, and eventually became a journeyman striker. He never really got a run of games, but impressed people enough to earn contracts with championship clubs.

Huddersfield Town were clearly too big for the bottom division & with a lot of investment, patience, and some luck, outgrew league one.

So Huddersfield Town and John Stead are reunited at a perfect time for both. The Terriers have found themselves as a lower level Championship Club, and Stead is a lower level Championship striker.

Stead probably won’t push the club on to the next level, but at this moment in time it’s a match made in heaven.

What happened today in football? 23/6/13

Now I’m not privy to the goings on at Brighton & Hove Albion football club, but I think you’ll be hard pressed to find anybody who thinks announcing the dismissal of a manager, whilst he’s on TV is utterly classless.

This couldn’t have been much worse for Poyet, unless he’d actually farted live on air, or suffered a complete falling down style meltdown.

Now I’m no great fan of Poyet, but he’s done a good job at Brighton. He’s been successful but more significantly enforced a style of play and laid down solid foundations at the club.

Whether he deserved to be sacked or not, and it certainly cannot be justified on football terms, the club will look utterly ridiculous and have undone a lot of good work that they’d done in the last few years.

Liverpool continued their recruitment drive by picking up another Spaniard, this time Iago Aspas.

Now I don’t wish to anger any Liverpool fan, but they so far appear to be buying squad players, and although rumours suggest this won’t entirely be the case, I suspect their fans will expect better.

No funny little lines during this edition, but as nobody reads it yet, I’m sure there’ll be no objections.

See you tomorrow all

What happened today in football? 22/6/13

It is on Saturday where you really start to feel the absence of football in your life. So I’d like to say that a lot of great things happened today. Unfortunately, very little did, and once again I’m left to discuss the trivial in a lighthearted way.

Liverpool continue to make steady progress in the transfer market. Adding some youth in Luis Alberto, possibly to cancel out the fact they signed Kolo Toure a while ago, and he was in the same crèche as Taribo West. No idea if he’s a good player, but young and Spanish is usually a pretty good start in modern football.

Bret Holman has left Aston Villa, which would be a surprise to many, as most didn’t know he was there in the first place, or in fact who he is.

And finally the team sheet from Alex Ferguson’s first game in charge of Manchester United sold for £19,000 at auction. Such greats as Peter Davenport & Graeme Hogg were included, but Kolo Toure had to settle for a place on the bench, as he was struggling to play 2 games in a week at his age.

So that was today, another classic. I’m taking a rest on Sunday, not because I’m a Christian, I just fancy a break. See you Monday

A window of delusion

Every year, around this time, football fans become desperate. As a result of this desperation they decide to follow Fourfourtom or an ITK account in the hope that they’ll reveal the identity of the big signing, who they’ve all been clamouring to see.

The pointlessness and stupidity involved in these actions cannot be overstated, but that’s another blog for another day. However it’s when these type writing monkeys inadvertently write Shakespeare, that the fans delusion kicks in.

ITK moron: “Your club to definitely sign this player”

Deluded fan: “Oh fuck off, he only scored 98 goals last week, he’s patently not good enough for my provincial club”

Suddenly no player on earth is right for their club. The football fan always has an idea of who they want (usually someone who was on loan at the club last season, whether they were good or not) and nobody else will suffice.

Ignoring the fact that big name signings have invariably flopped at their club, and loanees who sign permanently tend to look half the player now they’ve got a fat three year contract, fans persist with these names, and hide their disappointment about as well as a kid who asked for a playstation, but got a toothbrush instead.

Reality is a kick in the teeth sometimes, but no signing on earth is guaranteed to be a success. Ambition is a good quality but don’t be surprised to see your club sign Marlon Harewood, when you were hoping for Ronaldo.

The transfer window, like the window at a drive thru, rarely delivers anything that even closely resembles what you thought you were going to get.

What happened today in football? 21/6/13

In writing this post on a daily basis I’ve started to realise that not much does happen in football during June.

I am tempted to start a lawn tennis blog for the months of November to February every year, just to really keep my finger firmly on the pulse.

However I’m committed to this now, and my reader won’t forgive me if I don’t persevere with it.

Reading laid down a marker to the rest of the Championship by signing Royston Drenthe. Now this will inevitably lead to “he’ll tear up the Championship” comments, and maybe he will. However, he might also be disappointingly terrible & a considerable waste of money.

Newcastle continued to focus on the important stuff by changing the name of “Shearer’s” bar to “nine” which will make a lot of difference. Whether the number 9 would make a more interesting pundit is a question yet to be asked, probably because the answer is clear to all.

And that’s it really. A lot of clubs keep saying they’re “close” to signing someone. And that’s a problem if you ask me. Shut up about it until they’re stood in the stadium holding the scarf above their head.

I like signings to be a complete surprise, not something we all knew 2 months ago.

Here’s hoping the weekend delivers some real football news, and not just that Charles N’Zogbia has had some surgery.

All the best