Posted by Richard Whittall under Arsene Wenger on May 22, 2013
Posted by Richard Whittall under Uefa Champions League on May 22, 2013
Too often these kinds of posts dissolve into “fun facts and trivia” for the unknowing non-soccer person at a European Cup viewing party, where the author expects the CL newbie to memorize a set of disjointed tidbits in order to try and pretend they know about football when they don’t. This is useless, unless you’re David Mitchell in Peep Show.
That doesn’t mean these guides are entirely useless, however. Here instead are some conversation-starting questions you can throw out there once in a while during the game to goad those who do care into conversation, whereby you might be able to pick up some interesting facts about the two finalists to recycle on Monday at work. They don’t require you to pretend you know something that you don’t, but they give you a means to demonstrate you’re at least paying attention, and to prompt conversations to distract people in the room from the fact you’ve spent the entire game plus extra time playing Minesweeper for iPhone.
“So, I heard that Juergen Klopp is really crazy, like he once took out his entire team on a crazy camping trip, and they like, love the team forever and when one guy leaves, they all like cry and stuff.”
Just read and study this entire Klopp interview. It’s a gold mine of leading questions for the one or two people in the room who read it and desperately want to talk about it, and Klopp is basically football’s man hero of the moment. If an advertiser managed to get Klopp and Pirlo to do an Apple vs PC style ad, the Internet’s face would collectively explode out clouds of messy red goo.
“So how much money do team’s get for winning the Champions League? I heard it’s a lot but not really enough to rely on to run a club better and buy better players.”
This is a bit of a weird one and possibly a conversation stopper so maybe hold off on it a bit. In any case, the answer is that the winner of the final gets €10,500,000 in addition to earnings from previous rounds, the loser €6,500,000 in addition to earnings from previous rounds, and both get a share of the TV rights revenues as determined by the relative strengths of their domestic TV markets in something called “the market pool.”
The point is here: people will start making wild guesses about how much they win, at which point you say, “I think I read somewhere that…” and fill in the above figures. Once they double check you on wikipedia or whatever, you’re good.
“Do you guys know about the Mario Gomez button?”
Pray that they don’t. This one will get you a free pass out of the conversational loop for ages and make everyone else very, very happy.
“I heard Jupp Heynckes is like, crazy good. And he’s leaving Bayern? He must be regretting that, eh?”
Now while Heynckes is almost certainly set to leave Bayern Munich, and has been in the game for fifty years, and has claimed he’s retiring, you can pivot off this reaching BR post to start speculating over whether Heynckes will go to another club and not retire after all. Don’t worry about guess over possible destinations. Everyone around you will speculomasturbate on this idea for at least the next ten minutes.
“So if all these guys like that Goetze guy and the Polish striker are leaving Dortmund, who’s going to replace them?”
Risky. Someone will venture dumb guesses at a host of international stars that Dortmund could not possibly afford. At which point you might add, “But can Dortmund afford to just go out and buy whatever player? Aren’t they not that rich by soccer standards?” At which point you will be the smartest person in the room, and you can drink the extra beer guilt-free. If someone says, “They can use the CL pot money!”, then pull out the big guns in the question above.
Ideally, someone somewhere will say, “I don’t know. Good question. The youth team?” And relax.
“Wait, if some players are good because they give that extra bit of effort and raise their skill for the big final, aren’t they underperforming the rest of the time?”
This question courtesy of James Grayson, will hopefully blow some minds, or start an interesting debate among you and your friends. It should.
“I’ve watched Barcelona a few times, and Bayern are awesome but they play completely differently. I heard that Pep Guardiola has only really ever managed at Barcelona. And Bayern are so good this season, no doubt in part down to luck as well as skill, that chances are they’ll not be as good next year. So he’s pretty much going to have a bad time next year, no?”
Yeah, you might not want to use this one. I like it though. And again, if some person goes on about Pep taking players with him from Barcelona to Bayern, just mention that while Bayern is pretty wealthy by German standards, there’s no way they’ll be able to match Barcelona’s staggering wage bill, even if only for one or two players. Is this getting too inside baseball? Probably. So…
“Ha ha, Robben. Not even Robben’s team-mates like Robben.”
Everyone will laugh and nod. You now have permission to check your phone for the next 45 minutes.
Posted by Richard Whittall under Manchester City, MLS, New York City FC on May 22, 2013
So the new director of football operations at New York City FC is American playing legend Claudio Reyna:
Reyna, 39, has strong ties to both MLS and Manchester City, and is one of the most decorated figures in American soccer history. He spent four seasons playing for Manchester City from 2003-07 before returning to MLS, where he joined the New York Red Bulls as the franchise’s first Designated Player. He appeared in 29 matches for the club before injuries forced him to retire midway through the 2008 season.
Reyna is leaving his position with the US Soccer Federation as Youth Technical director. This is as pitch-perfect appointment as Man City and MLS could envision. An former American international who featured in four World Cups, an ex-City midfielder, and a person with experience in youth development. That’s the appearance of course, and MLS has staged managed this with consummate professionalism.
Politically though, it was also an intelligent way to ingratiate City with the local football scene. I’m still waiting to see the chips starting to fall with regard to City’s owners, once the cable news cabal gets wind of it. But until then, smiles all around!
Mario Goetze to miss out on politically awkward Champions League final, zoo animals say it won’t affect Dortmund
Posted by Richard Whittall under Mario Goetze, Uefa Champions League on May 22, 2013
Yeah, so the idea of a player attempting to prevent its future employer from winning a European Cup is out the window unfortunately:
— GOAL! Bundesliga (@Bundesliga_GOAL) May 22, 2013
So Dortmund will have to cope without the midfield creator for the final. Still, Klopp isn’t exactly begging for options:
Klopp on replacing Gotze : “If I am relaxed the fans should be too. Other mothers also have handsome sons who can kick a ball around.”
— Sir Jenkinson (@theEpicGooner) May 22, 2013
Surely Marco Reus and the excellent Ilkay Guendogan will fill in that unfortunate blank. Still, not having Goetze is kind of worse than having Goetze. And it’s not exactly fortuitous as Dortmund haven’t won a match since Goetze walked off the pitch in the 14th minute of their second leg 2-0 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League. They’ve managed two draws and another loss, to Hoffenheim.
Beware mistaking cause and correlation of course. And besides, the animals have figured it all out anyway and everything’s coming up Dortmund:
Walter the orangutan, based in Dortmund’s zoo, backed his hometown club to claim a second European crown after local paper Ruhr Nachrichten had asked zookeeper Eddie Laudert to place two hessian sacks containing the two sides’ shirts on Walter’s high seat.
After initially moving towards the Bayern shirt, Walter favoured the Dortmund jersey, although his attempts to slip it on were unsuccessful.
Football is so stupid sometimes. Awesome, but stupid.
Posted by Richard Whittall under Counter Attack Podcast on May 22, 2013
Yep! Thursday is fast approaching and we’ve got a Champions League final to talk about in our Rapid Fire edition, entirely scripted by your good self. Send us your questions on anything football related either by leaving a comment here, or sending an electronic mail letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tweeting using the hashtag #counterattackquestion.
Posted by Richard Whittall under The Story So Far on May 22, 2013
Andy Carroll is a good striker. I repeat: Andy Carroll is a good striker. He’s still scoring at a good rate, his career-average goals per game is 0.33, he’s would be a valuable addition to any decent, mid-level football club. He could even be an asset at a bigger team with the right coaching in the right system.
The one enormous blemish on his career, oddly, is that £35 million transfer fee Liverpool FC paid Newcastle United on the 31st of January, 2011. This fee, which was double transfermarkt’s estimated top end value at £17.5, had all the hallmarks of a last-minute, inflated deal. Liverpool wanted to buy, Newcastle were reluctant to sell, a deadline was fast approaching, LFC needed to replace Fernando Torres.
Now Carroll may have had a strong hand in this, but likely this was an arrangement strictly between clubs. By the standards of the loss of value, it was a terrible deal for Liverpool, and in some ways just as bad for Carroll, who, despite the evidence he’s still a very good player, must wear the “flop” albatross for the rest of his career.
Particularly as he now has another ignoble number stapled to his career: £20 million. That’s the total decline in value on Carroll’s transfer fee in the past two and a half years, as Liverpool are reportedly working to sell Carroll to his loanee club West Ham for 15 million.
It’s hard to believe football people would be dull enough to spend that kind of money on appearances alone, and to some extent the situation isn’t as simple as it seems. Liverpool’s former director of football Damian Comolli defended the Carroll deal this way:
“The way we looked at it, we were selling two players – Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel – and we were bringing two in – Suarez and Carroll – and we were making a profit and the wage bill was coming down considerably as well. It was a four-player deal.
“Chelsea kept bidding higher and higher for Torres. The difference between their first and final bid is double.
“They [FSG] asked me what the risks were and I said if things don’t go well you’ll lose something on Andy, but it is difficult to measure whether you will make money if things go well because Liverpool aren’t a selling club and he could be here for the next 10 years.”
So at least in relative terms, the deal came off well. And in picking up Suarez for substantially less money, a player whose personality issues haven’t affected his ability to score, LFC’s gamble worked at least in part.
But it’s hard to believe that, despite humming and hawing about hidden “key performance indicators” that made Carroll worth that pile of cash, Liverpool wasn’t fooled by something as simple as means regression. That the season-and-a-half of goals Carroll enjoyed at Newcastle before his move may have been boosted a bit by luck, that it was from a relatively small sample, 2/3rds of which came while Newcastle was playing out of the Championship, an ostensibly easier league in which to score goals.
That misread wasn’t Carroll’s fault, and yet the 24 year-old will pay for it the rest of his career.
Posted by Richard Whittall under Manchester City, MLS, New York City FC on May 21, 2013
This is of interest to Counter Attack as we’ve been tracking Don Garber and Dan Courtemanche’s movements in choreographing a stadium deal in Queens for a while now. There is staunch community opposition there to developing the park in Flushing, and the group in question–the Fairness Coalition of Queens–put out a statement today on the development:
“We welcome Major League Soccer to New York City. We are pleased with their new willingness to consider other sites in New York. The proposal for a stadium inside the heart of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is deeply flawed and would irrevocably damage a vital community resource.
We look forward to finding a more appropriate home for the team that does not sacrifice public parkland and that does not giveaway parkland to a documented human rights abuser. Lets make this a development that all New Yorkers can be excited about.”
As you can see, the group isn’t hesitant to draw attention to Manchester City’s owners and the human rights record of the United Arab Emirates, which is not a battle MLS, City and the Yankees will want to countenance. Despite the work of MLS in lobbying to develop the area, New York Yankees president Randy Levine said the team could start playing in Yankee Stadium:
Levine acknowledges that Yankee Stadium could serve as interim site for NYCFC in 2015″We haven’t made any decision, but it is a possibility”
— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) May 21, 2013
Guardian US writer Graham Parker has a great summary of the timeline here.