FBL-EUR-C1-MALAGA-PORTO

Sunday headlines is back as people around the world celebrate the biggest comeback of all time. J.C was not that kind of player.

Martin O’Neill leaves Sunderland knowing his magic touch deserted him

The obituaries for Martin O’Neill’s career  have come out in full force. A man once known for his infectious energy ran out of magic with the black cats, who teeter on the edge of disaster as the relegation race kicks into high gear. O’Neill enjoyed major success at Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa. The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor outlines how bad it had gotten in Northeast England.

“O’Neill approached his first anniversary on a run of two wins from the last 21 league games going back to last season. At one point, Opta’s statistics showed that only one other team, Fortuna Düsseldorf, had managed fewer shots on target throughout the top five leagues in Europe. Their current run, no wins in eight games, has seen them fall to 16th position, having played a game more than the clubs below them, Wigan and Villa, both a point behind.”

An inability to adapt tactically coupled with a slew of poor signings–Adam Johnson needs no introduction–ultimately did O’Neill in. January signing Danny Graham hasn’t registered a goal and James McClean and Stéphane Sessègnon haven’t performed at the required level. Aside from Danny Rose and keeper Simon Mignolet, the players haven’t been good enough.Multiple outlets report Paolo Di Canio is on his way to meet with owner Ellis Short and could be named the new manager within 24 hours.

 Freed of a Secret’s Burden, a Soccer Player Looks Ahead

Sam Borden’s article on Robbie Rogers, featured in Friday’s edition of the New York Times, is required reading. After typing up a document entitled ‘LetterOfLife’, Rogers left it on his laptop for more than two months, debating whether or not to make it public. Eventually, the 25-year old posted the letter on his website. The question now, for some at least, is whether Rogers will resume his career after coming out. Friends and family don’t recall seeing Rogers this happy, this at ease with himself after the post went live on February 25th. Former U.S national teammate  Sacha Kljestan came to visit Rogers in London and urged him to keep playing.

“I want to keep him playing because I think he’d be a huge role model,” Kljestan said in an interview last week. “But I also want him to be happy and do it for himself, not because it’s something for other people.”

In the interview with Borden, Rogers talks about an interesting dichotomy. After he came out, a number of his teammates in England reached out in support, however, it was those same people who used language in the locker room that Rogers described as awful. Pack mentality will maintain its place in professional sports forever. The hope is that this mentality can be changed.

 ”We marked the wrong boxes”

The Macedonian Football Federation is going to take the dive in box gate. Allegations of fraud in the 2012 FIFA Coach of the Year voting were made by Macedonian captain Goran Pandev. Pandev said he voted for Jose Mourinho yet his voting slip indicated the Napoli striker had given his vote to Vincente Del Bosque.

Now the MFF says that a ‘technical error’ in completion of the slip led to the votes being switched. Zlatko Andonovski, a representative of the MFF, told Marca to back off when they continued to press:

“Don’t look for something that isn’t there. The person responsible for filling in the ballot made a mistake when ticking the boxes. He should have marked Mourinho and he marked Del Bosque. It’s as simple as that.”

Sure it is Zlatko. Sure it is.

 Could Futsal help produce an English Lionel Messi?

The BBC probably could’ve left Lionel Messi out of the title,  but as someone who is also tasked with whoring for page views I understand where they’re coming from. The latest edition of the ‘Future Game’ –the FA’s technical guide for young player development– will include a recommendation for Futsal, the sport that Ronaldo and Messi grew up on.

Gary Rose highlights the greats who considered Futsal a key part of their development as a player, including Pele. An estimated 30 million play it worldwide,170 of the 2009 FIFA member associations play Futsal and 24 countries participated in last year’sWorld Cup. England’s reliance on physicality over technical prowess has long been fingered as the reason for poor international performances. Rose mentions Will Hughes, the 17-year old midfielder that is drawing interest from a number of Premier League clubs. Hughes played Futsal as a youth.

“Look at what people say after England go out of a major tournament, talking about technique. Physicality is important but I think technique has overcome that – look at the current Barcelona team and they are more technically developed than we are.”

Champions League quarter-final sees Málaga looking to make history

For most of us, dreams of Champions League glory have fizzled. We’re left to the worst of the worst — cheering for teams out of spite. With some of the giants still left, I’d like to suggest an alternative pick for the final eight. Malaga features a mix of the promising–Isco– and crest fallen–Roque Santa Cruz. After an utterly forgettable stint in England, RSC has found new life with Malaga, scoring the goal that lifted Los Boquerones past Porto.

Malaga advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals after selling Joris Mathijsen, Solomón Rondón and Santi Cazorla in the summer. Sid Lowe describes the post games scenes of euphoria after Porto was vanquished:

“Supporters were delirious. TV cameras kept focusing on Antonio Banderas draped in a Málaga scarf, crying. Yet it is only five years since Málaga were in Spain’s Second Division and they were as low as the regionalised, Tercera division in 1995 after the original Málaga had gone out of business in 1992 before being effectively re-founded through their reserve team Atlético Malagueño.”

Juventus-Bayern Munich should be a classic, Barcelona-PSG as well. But here is hoping Malaga gives Dortmund all they can handle on Wednesday.

Comments (4)

  1. “Pack mentality will maintain its place in professional sports forever. The hope is that this mentality can be changed.”

    How do you suggest changing something that will last forever?

  2. Malaga ? Never actually heard about them before. Well, gonna be an interesting Champions League for sure ;)

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