I'm not talking about Cristiano Ronaldo.Â Not talking about Kaka.Â Not Benzema and not about
Raul Albiol and Xabi Alonso.
I'm talking about Arsene Wenger.Â Scratch that, I'm actually talking about Manuel
Throughout Florentino Perez' epic reign last time out, and at the very top of his hit list when
he got reinstated to the role of Real Madrid president, he has coveted the Arsenal godfather more
than any other.
Instructions, mentality: attacking, passing style: short, tempo: quick. Ohh hang on a second, I
can do this for real now.
Last weekend I completed my Football Federation Australia junior coaching license, so am now a
'proper' football manager. Sure I'll be coaching under 12's, but thats not what counts, I can
pretend to be educated about the game, shout at my young winger to take more shots, and go to
official FFA conferences.
US soccer has progressed to the level where like the rest of the world, MLS clubs should
considering paying modest youth transfer fees to local clubs that develop the young players they
select for their U16 and U18 academy teams.
Reimbursement in the form of scholarships would encourage local clubs to develop complete
players instead of focusing on wins and also to invest in low-income players, further improving the
vision of youth player development in the US.
"Seeing these smiling faces is the greatest pleasure. They have been magnificent all season.
They have been our 12th man. I have always said our fans are the best in England. Now I know they
are the best in Europe too." (Rafa Benitez)
Yes indeed, Rafa Benitez may be many things but naiive he most definitely is not!
Did you read this column last week? If not, then you should have. It could have made you some
money. Nine out of ten outcomes correct, five out of ten results spot on, I should be backing my
Of course last week was a one-off, a fluke. Or was it? Here are my predictions for this week's
round of matches, tell me if you agree, and feel free to add your own.
Seven goals, seven minutes of added time, seven players from the Big Four in the team of the
week. Yes, the big boys claimed back their rightful place at the top of the Premier League table
last week, the pretenders of Manchester City & Tottenham slotted firmly into their place. Wins for
Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool & Arsenal meant it was a good week for the star names, as
well as a few lesser ones too.
First they appoint a former England manager as their Director of Football, then they go and sign
a former England international, surely this is any clubs dream, but evidently not in the case of
We all thought it was too good to be true when the news broke of Sven Goran Eriksson appointment
as the new Director of Football at League Two club, but then we heardÂ money was involved, so, it
wasn't such a shock anymore.
Back in June, as Major League Soccer was finding its stride on the other side of the Atlantic,
Michel Platini and UEFA confirmed that this year's Europa League would be the testing ground for a
new officiating structure.
By adding an 'additional assistant referee' behind each goal line, Platini hopes to do away with
the cheating which occurs in the penalty area, from a playful tug on the shirt at a corner to the
game's crime of the moment, diving.
Hello and welcome to episode 21 of the world famous Soccerlens Podcast. Join ex-footballer
Adrian Clarke and esteemed sports journalist Iain Spragg as they chew over all things football.
This week Clarkey and Spraggy produce a livelyÂ verbal kickaboutÂ that includesÂ European
football debate, a case for the FA's defence, a peek inside the mind of Sol Campbell,Â a frankÂ
assessmentÂ of Platini's latest brainchild, previews ofÂ the biggest games across Europe, answers
to YOUR questionsÂ and a special bonus feature on what it's really like inside Sepp Blatter's FIFA
Roger Milla burst onto the big stage at the grand old age of 38 when he scored four
never-to-be-forgotten goals for Cameroon at the 1990 FIFA World Cup Finals in Italy. Capturing
headlines all over the globe for his impressive displays en route to a memorable quarter-final
defeat to Sir Bobby Robson's England, Milla captured the hearts of the public with his spontaneous
corner flag dancing routine in celebration of each of his goals.
Michael Owen has been a polemic figure throughout his career. At 29 years of age many critics
claim that he is already past his prime; that his workrate has slowed, his injuries have multiplied
and his goal scoring has come to a shuddering halt. Others believe that his best is yet to come;
that he has plenty of energy left, that his injuries mostly come down to bad luck and that he is
still, statistically speaking, one of the most lethal English strikers around.
Tonight I made the short trip from my house to watch Nottingham Forest v Blackburn in one of the
Carling Cup games many had identified to have the potential for a cup upset, the game itself was
patchy with one of two niggly injury periods of two or three minutes, during one ofÂ these breaks
in play I looked up to check the time and confirm my count of the score ( I made it 0-0 after 20
Â A large number of good results this round, including an interesting match in Brisbane, with
two disappointing defensive errors gifting a win to a deserving Perth Glory. Central Coast won the
first ever Battle of the Coasts, in magnificent fashion. Sydney FC won by a narrow margin, but that
seems to be a trend for the Sky Blues.
Goals galore!Â Football is really back with a bang now!
Let us start off with the most competitive Manchester derby that has occured since football
officially began in 1992.Â A lot of Red Devils out there have been begrudging the blue half of
Manchester's new endless pot of resourses, and why not?
We've all been there. It's the last minute and your team is clinging on to a vital, undeserved
win away from home. You stand and bellow support for your lads with their backs against the walls,
frantically throwing themselves in front of every ball headed toward the goal to break your
Thanks to Eduardo, diving has once again risen to the summit of football's trendy topic
Whatever the rights or wrongs of the UEFA charge and its subsequent overturning on appeal, the
majority view was Eduardo purposely exaggerated the challenge and the ensuing penalty was harsh on
Celtic (even Arsene Wenger admitted as such).
The clock is ticking down to the start of the most talked about Manchester derby in years.
A resurgent city have emerged like a phoenix from the flames when compared to the club of five
years ago that looked as if fate would retire the blue half of Manchester to a Leeds like
spiralling demise into the lower divisions.
It feels like the season has really begun now, the international break is well behind us, the
Champions League & the Europa League are in full swing, and the big clashes are starting to come
thick and fast.
Here are my predictions for this weekend's Premier League fixtures - make sure you add yours to
the mix and check out the podcast crew's predictions for this weekend's big matches across Europe
What will be a very tough encounter, on the basis of revenge. Adelaide losing in the finals of
last season hurt, and will be out to challenge for the title this year. Adelaide so far have been
underperforming, but only just however their performances are deserving of a better placing.
Adelaide finally won a match, their first since round 1, and in great style in front of ten
thousand fans at Hindmarsh Stadium. Travis Dodd was back from injury, making some quick zippy runs
in the midfield.
Hello and welcome to episode 20 of the world famous â€˜new look' Soccerlens Podcast. Join
ex-footballer Adrian Clarke and esteemed sports journalist Iain Spragg as they chew over all things
What a week it's been! We've seen UEFA give the green light for players to dive, Emmanuel
Adebayor do his best to cause a riot, Chelsea supremo Peter Kenyon finally doing the honourable
thing, all 4 English clubs producing narrow Champions League victories and radical new Premier
League and UEFA rulebooks have been revealed.
Andy Reid, Jason Roberts, David Dunn. What do they all have in common?
No, it isn't that at regular intervals, their respective managers have prefixed the mentioning
of their names with a string of expletives, bemoaning their inconsistency/fitness/existence. It
isn't even that they have, at some stage of their careers, been signed for a sum that made most
people remark "how much?
Soccerlens Podcast duo Adrian Clarke and Iain Spragg make ten big match predictions each and
every Thursday and competing against one another throughout the season to discover once and for all
who the best tipster is! As well as a large slice of pride being at stake, Clarkey and Spraggy also
have copious amounts of beer riding on the outcome.
Dirk Kuyt's first half effort handed Liverpool an unconvincing 1 â€“ 0 win over battling
Debrecen at Anfield.
Boss Rafa Benitez, celebrating his 300th game in charge of Liverpool, named an unchanged side to
the one that beat Burnley 4 â€“ 0 on Saturday â€“ but it was the Hungarian champions that came
closest to taking a shock lead, Peter Czvitkovics testing Pepe Reina with a stinging drive.
With the upcoming opening round of Champions League fixtures imminent, perhaps the most mouth
watering tie will see Inter Milan face the current Champions Barcelona. An intriguing contest on so
many levels, not least to assess how the contrasting styles of both teams will fare, nor how the
cross Mourinho seems to carry from his days with Chelsea will manifest itself when it comes to
facing the Catalans once again in European Competition.
â€˜If in doubt, get it out!' It's a cry heard from many a parent and even coaches every weekend
around the country at junior football games.
It's a cry that can sum up in a nutshell the attitude English football has carried for many
years. And looking at some of England's attempts to win major championships since 1966, it's a
slogan that the national team should have had stitched to their shirts at times.
Emmanuel Adebayor evokes some interesting emotions wherever he goes. From his goal-scoring
exploits for Arsenal to back-to-back interviews where he pledged allegiance to Arsenal before
flirting with Barcelona, to his quite obvious Milan fantasy to his bumper contract at Arsenal to a
move to Manchester the next summer, Adebayor had already entertained and infuriated Arsenal
Am I the only one who seems to think everyone in the country is missing something? At Eastlands
on Sunday a steward was struck by missiles thrown by Arsenal's fans, and left unconscious by the
pitch-side for five minutes. A disgraceful act that none of us want to see in football I'm sure
you'll all agree.
The season so far has had its ups and downs for the Reds. A shock defeat to Burnley certainly
wasn't in the script, as the world looks on intently to see how the reigning Premiership Champions
set about life after Ronaldo and â€˜that' final in Rome, to defending their domestic crown to make
it four League titles in a row and surpass the record of their long time Merseyside rivals
As I write this I'm watching Everton lose to Fulham at Craven Cottage and as a Liverpool fan it
puts absolute delight in my heart to see Everton in the bottom three.
Of course, I know that they will not stay there because they are a fantastic team with a
fantastic manager, butÂ with five games of the Premier League season in the books (for most teams
anyways), someÂ people are already beginning to turn up their panic dials whileÂ others are
beginning early celebrations.
It's one of the most tiresome cliches in football these days, yet one that most in the public
eye can unilaterally agree on. Liverpool, they say, are a team of two players. No argument. G&T,
Stevie & Nando, Gerrard & Torres.
Like the zonal marking debate, no conversation about Liverpool is complete without it.
In a season which has already produced its fair share of talking points, the Premier League once
more exploded into life after the two week recess, with a flurry of goals and a controversy set to
dominate the back pages long after the match reports have faded.
On the up:
Let us forget for a moment the behaviour of Emmanuel Adebayor (more on which to follow) and
focus upon an otherwise scintillating display of counter attacking football from Mark Hughes'
The latest Serie A season is now three games in and although it is of course too early to make
any firm predictions, some clear markers have already been laid down. Before the close of the
window it was Juventus who took the lead as the big spenders in Italy, bringing in a number of
players to strengthen the squad, not least of all the Brazilian Diego from Werder Bremen for
Despite conceding a goal in the first minute Manchester United rallied back through Giggs and
Anderson (yes, Anderson!) to make it 2-1 at half-time. A second yellow to Paul Scholes put their
position under pressure but some smart defensive work and a superb goal (all the goals in this game
were quite good) by Wayne Rooney meant that United took the three points - and set up next week's
Manchester derby quite nicely.
Today's City v Arsenal game confirmed what we already knew about certain players and, in context
of the starts made by the two sides this season, gave us a fair prediction of the title / top 4
chances for both teams.
Adebayor is a c*nt. His tackles on Fabregas and RVP, his celebrations in front of the Arsenal
fans, his general attitude towards the club that made him into what he is today, is quite
disappointing (to say the least).
England qualifications are not used to happen this way. Where was the last-gasp heroic goal, the
nervous, stuttering qualification that went down to the wire, the sharpening of knives for the
manager? Where was the unconvincing qualification, overlooked as assorted players and journalists
chest-thumped that, having qualified, England could go onto win it, fooling nobody in the
Without wishing to pre-empt the entire article, Jermaine Defoe is a very good football player,
not a world-class football player.
There is much empirical evidence to substantiate this, but what is most striking is that he has
never scored more than 13 Premier League goals in a season (a record topped by more players than I
care to list).
After an international induced Premier League hiatus, England's top tier returns with some
standout games for spread punters to look forward to, featuring mouth-watering ties between North
London and Manchester's finest.
As Tottenham Hotspur host Manchester United and Arsenal make the opposite journey to face
Manchester City at Eastlands, one side from each game goes into the weekend with a 100% winning
start â€“ but probably not the two teams that most spread bettors would have anticipated.
DC United is Major League Soccer's most storied and most successful club. Since becoming a
founder member of MLS in 1996, United have piled no fewer than twelve pieces of silverware into the
RFK Stadium trophy cabinet, including four MLS Cups.
Many of United's finest players are still in the team, from habitual record breaker Jaime Moreno
and creative ace Christian Gomez to legendary midfielder Ben Olsen.
The unadulterated thrill of witnessing a magical moment of attacking inspiration is what keeps
many of us hooked on the beautiful game but let us never forget that at the heart of every great
football team is always a truly world-class central defender.
Red Rants interviewee and Manchester United â€˜rock' Nemanja Vidic unquestionably falls into
that category, so I thought it was the perfect excuse to examine the world of defending in search
of the best centre-backs around today.
Join former Arsenal player Adrian Clarke and co-host Iain Spragg every Thursday on the new-look
These two highly experienced journalists love to debate all the hottest football topics with
their own unique style of banter, make spot on (or otherwise!) predictions for upcoming matches,
while also providing insightful interviews with a whole host of leading football experts.
Today a four year legal battle that has dominated the national and international news has come
to an end, Michael Shields has been pardoned by the British government following his conviction for
attempted murder in a Bulgarian court. After serving time in both Bulgarian and British prisons
Michael Shields will be freed in the coming days a thought that must have seemed a long way off
following his conviction and 10 year sentence four years ago.
Unless one has been in a coma for the past two weeks, they would have noticed the controversy
surrounding the (just about) Croatian Eduardo's attempt to "deceive the referee" in Arsenal's
Champions League Qualifier against Celtic and his subsequent two match ban by UEFA.
After the entire British Isles bar the red side of North London cried "cheat" at Eduardo, UEFA
handed out a two match ban to Eduardo and one would have thought that justice has been served and
the world can move on to other football controversies like Gael Kakuta and APOEL FC's presence in
the Champions League.
How does one go about measuring greatness in football? I mean real, obvious, blatant greatness;
that rarest of qualities. Today "greatness" is such a woolly, over-used term that sometimes we lose
its meaning and start labeling all sorts of mundane, workaday things as "great". The evolution of
language has distilled its meaning, reduced its potency, but we still know greatness when we see
International press conferences at the best of times tend to be mundane, by the numbers affairs
filled with platitudes by the key figures within the national side. Not much changes when it comes
to conferences prior to World Cup qualifiers, or even the finals itself, but within the words
always lies a common train of thought: There are few, if any greater honours in football than
representing your country at the World Cup.
With Grays Athletics' Chief Executive Mick Woodward standing down from his role at the club
after a 10 year stint, which has seen Woodward taking over as manger twice and splitting fan
opinion of his general running of the club. A new regime has been promised to take over the reigns
of the Essex side, but with Woodward still having an invested interest, more questions than answers
remain at the club with the seemingly revolving door.
It was Mark Lawrenson who once said that he didn't concern himself with the League Table until
10 or 12 games into the new season. Until then, Lawro suggested, no pattern has formed, as teams
are finding their feet early on, often facing the challenge of introducing new players, managers or
...so for FIFA to get tough on them, especially in wake of recent UEFA efforts to make a public
display of intent to stamp out diving by banning Eduardo (which, incidentally, sets a nice
precedent for post-match video reviews), is understandable, if not always 'fair'.
Studs Up by Chris Toy "Chelsea have been caught tapping up several times in the last few years" was
originally published at Soccerlens.
Speaking to the press on Thursday at UEFA's elite coaches forum, Alex Ferguson agreed that
something has to be done to eradicate diving from the game and that UEFA took the decision on
Eduardo to set a marker for the rest of the season.
But while the Beeb would have you believe (along with a fantastic photo) that Ferguson was
backing UEFA's ban on Eduardo, what was far more interesting and relevant were his comments about
Wenger's reactions to the ban.
Walking into my room on a chilly Sunday morning, I sighed heavily, yet I was happy. I had
correctly tipped Burnley to beat United. Who knew. I didn't get it all right; I had a few problems
especially my A-League tipping. Mariners and Jets drew, so I only had 2 points from this round.
Forgetting about that, I walked over to my desk, before clomping down on to my seat.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post examining the prospects of the most likely challengers for MLS
Cup. By not mentioning New England Revolution, I had quietly written the off - quite logical, given
their poor start and the continued absence of Taylor Twellman - and condemned them to a season of
disappointment and introspection.
OnÂ episode 18 of the Soccerlens Podcast, Stephen Darwin is joined byÂ Pitch Invasion's Tom
Dunmore and Jason Davis from MatchFitUSAÂ to discuss US soccer consumption.
The show willÂ be looking specifically at how soccer fans in the States receive their domestic
and European/Worldwide soccer fix and there's also a discussion on whether David Beckham really is
on a different galaxy with his desire to play in Europe.
FIFA have banned Chelsea from signing new players for the next two transfer periods (that is,
the January 2010 and Summer 2010 transfer windows). This comes as part of a decision by FIFA's
Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) on a contractual dispute regarding Gael Kakuta between Lens and
As the transfer deadline drew to a close it seems French Side Monaco may have stolen the show
with the move of the summer. While the big money moved the likes of Robben, CR7 and Kaka, it was
the shock signing of Icelander Eidur Gudjohnsen for a measly amount of 2M Euros that may turn out
to be the biggest return on investment
Yes 2M Euros, it's not a lot of money for a player of this pedigree.
I may as well get this out in the open straight away: I'm a York City fan. One who is aiming to
get to every single one of our Conference league matches next season, starting on Saturday. Those
two sickening revelations out of the way, it's only fair to tell you that I'm planning to do the
whole thing on my pushbike.
Every club has one. That vital cog that keeps the team wheels turning. With the season in its
infancy, supporters up and down the land are still harbouring dreams of glory (or at the very least
over achievement, given that short of a billionaire Sheikh turning up on your doorstep, thoughts of
the title are confined to a privileged few these days).
The England squad for the international break (a friendly against Slovenia on Saturday,
September 5 and the World Cup qualifier against Croatia on Wednesday, September 9) sees Rio
Ferdinand, Theo Walcott and David James miss out due to injury while Peter Crouch, Wes Brown and
Aaron Lennon return to the fold.
Soccerlens has brought you extensive transfer window coverage for several years now - and this
year we're asking you to join us in compiling the most comprehensive transfer news database on the
Like before you'll have Eddie's excellent daily roundup of the latest transfer rumours and
confirmed transfers plus regular updates to our transfer lists for 9 European leagues from