Archive for September, 2010

For The Youngsters: Vinnie Jones

Jones as "Bullet-Tooth Tony" in Guy Ritchie's Snatch...

For some of you who read TSG, you probably only know Vinnie Jones as a gangster in Guy Richie flicks like “Lock, Stock…” and “Snatch.” He’ll soon also be appearing in the much anticipated “The Irishman” about a thug working in Cleveland in the ’70s.

Before that, Jones ate nails for breakfast as a midfielder for Leeds, Chelsea, and Sheffield United among others. He also featured for the Welsh national team nine times.

But Jones is best known for his “tough guy” act on the field (that he then parlayed into his tough guy acting career).

For those of you new to Jones, the picture below is an infamous one when VJ played for Wimbledon United and sought to intimidate Newcastle opponent Paul Gascoigne by grabbing his jewel basket.

Below that Jones featured in the notorious ’90s documentary, “Soccer’s Hard Men.”

Vinnie Jones

Jones in stereo…

An addition from Shaun…

Concluding Our EPL Roundtable

A huge thank you to the participants of our EPL Jumble.

We finish up our EPL Jumble with: What’s something you didn’t expect OR what’s something we should expect as the year progresses?

Big changes at Villa

Eric, AFR: Signing Gerard Houllier was a massive coup for Aston Villa.

However, the Frenchman likes to form his own “football family,” so don’t be surprised to see the English style of play that Martin O’Neill worked so hard to create replaced.

At Liverpool, Houllier masterfully balanced bringing in talent while also developing Liverpool youth like Gerrard and Owen. Villa have promsing youth in Lichaj, Bannan, and Chris Albrighton, and should continue to be a Europa League-caliber presence.

Corey, CoS: Unexpected? It’s a tie between Berbatov’s Renaissance, Alex Song’s hair, and Chelsea’s goal differential.

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Klinsmann & Gulati Should Stop Dancing

While Jurgen Klinsmann was busy giving interviews on Sunday, I was home arranging the diapers underneath the changing table in our nursery.

Enough...

That’s an appropriate juxtaposition as Klinsmann’s antics in the fallout of his inability–apparently– to reach an accord to be the next coach of the US Men’s Soccer team border on infantile.

Per my comments a few weeks ago, it was always “the process” to coach selection even more so than the candidates, that irked me after the World Cup. To this writer, revelations now–allegedly–about how the selection, negotiations, and confirmations went down are no surprise given the lead-up.

In simpleton’s language (See Dick Run.)

Gulati: Silence will have to be broken...

“Gulati says U.S. underperformed at World Cup” followed by “Gulati names Bob Bradley to second term without qualification.” is the mother of all non-sequiturs. Fans and media have every right to question.

Those questions are still outstanding, but let’s move forward with two more:

(1) How is it that Jurgen Klinsmann has only held two coaching roles since his official retirement in 1998 from the game. One that he walked away from and another that he was shoved away from?

Why is the United States job so special to Klinsmann? Is it merely for the lifestyle…a shorter amount of games and ability to “scout” all over the world. Here’s a question? If Klinsmann wants to coach Americans so bad, why not take a run at an MLS team to showcase his wares?

Something seems fishy here and Klinsmann’s continued comments this week smack of an immature child who couldn’t get what we wanted and he’s going to let everyone know about it.

Mark this statement: Unless some “promise” was made to Klinsmann by USSF about the US Coaching role post-World Cup 2010 and then reneged on, the comments are merely unprofessional and that’s it.

(2) Continually, why go on record here after failing–apparently–to reach an agreement with US Soccer. What good does it do?

Many writers suggest that Klinsmann is being allowed to “control the message.”

Here’s the thing: Who cares?

Why would US Soccer respond to Klinsmann at this point (and frankly only continue to tarnish and undermine Bob Bradley is his next turn?) What could would it do from a brand and media awareness standpoint? Nothing. Zero.

How precisely does Gulati “control the message” at this point if he is even invoking Klinsmann’s name?

And how do fans desire for a coach that comes off as more immature than my one-week old?

The reality is that Klinsmann and USSF didn’t reach agreement–that much is known and that this should be the end for Gulati’s and Klinsmann’s continued infatuation affair.

The damage from going public–and undermining the next coach–is irreparable. The issues of “Jurgen Klinsmann” and “the US Soccer coaching selection process” are mutually exclusive. The latter should be dropped while the former should still be investigated.

There are two things that fans should want from US Soccer just as soon as Sunil Gulati returns to the country. One, “Jurgen Klinsmann will no longer be a candidate for a US Soccer coaching role” and two, some, even if murky or gray, transparency, “Here’s how we went about the process….”

Adding commentary from TSG reader Ben here as it is succinct:

I think the entire USSF structure should be criticized. For now let’s just focus on the hiring process for a second.

It was totally botched. Looks like we agree on that. As far as I know, it was between BB and Klinsmann and that in itself is a little pathetic, no? There are only two people in the world capable of coaching this team? No wayyyy! No, these were the two candidates that USSF could see themselves working with (in the end, obviously, they could only work with/control one).

So my problem with USSF is deeper. As a fan – as an American! – my focus and wish is to become one of the best soccer countries in the world. Is that theirs? How does BB push that forward? He comes from the same system as everyone else. He promotes a conservative and measured approach not only to tactics (oy) but to youth policy. He happens to be a great guy in person, but he IS the status quo. All that’s very safe and suburban and good for Gulati and the fans who are too scared to try something new, who are pumped when we squeak through a piss group and lose in the round of 16 – but it doesn’t satisfy me at all. I’m not content, really, I’m sort of pissed!

- Ben

Jumble: How Will The Wengers Fare?

With injuries, what's the target for the Gunners?

The question: What do you make of the Arsenal situation? How will they cope with all the injuries?

Shaun: Arsenal will regret not pursuing a top notch keeper in the off season, but Wenger is top class and will have Arsenal challenging in all games. Sadly they will drop points until the likes of Vermaelen are back in the starting 11.

Eric, AFR: Arsene Wenger, to me, tries to emulate Platonist ideology using football as a means of sustenance. Arsenal’s philosophy is perfection or nothing. In reality this is impossible throughout a season when you have to encounter the likes of Michael Essien and Titus Bramble.

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Quick Thoughts: DeMerit, Roque

Thanks and apologies.

Thanks to the stellar crew of writers that have helped keep the site streaming with good content while (apologies) I’ve been taking care of my newest product, a baby girl.

"Any of you Euro leagues have a kit for me?"

The other night I tweeted that I can’t see Jay DeMerit headed to the Vancouver Whitecaps (at least not yet by far) and I can’t see Roque Santa Cruz–as one wild rumor suggested–heading to DC United.

Thought I’d quickly follow-up:

DeMerit

I find the Jay DeMerit situation rather puzzling. Here’s a player (and his agent) who knew they were playing out their Watford contract last year and rolling the dice on a solid World Cup to pump his value.

In essence DeMerit’s agent could begin negotiating with teams–or at the very least–selling his agent’s wares to clubs way back in January 2010!

That DeMerit, a noted good teammate and battle-tested veteran, is still without home is mind-boggling and for him must be concerning.

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Jumble: American Werewolf in London

(Quick aside: “American Werewolf in London” was the predecessor to “American Werewolf in Paris”)

The question: Based on the early going, which American is going to have the best year?

Is Timmy rested enough to be the best?

GeorgeCross: Perhaps it might not be too much of a surprise, but I really find hard to look past Tim Howard, especially with Dempsey, Guzan, Lichaj not commanding a regular berth in the starting XI, and Spector just not being a great EPL-level player.  I think Holden will be solid in The Trotters’ midfield but it’s a big ask to outperform Howard over a course of a *whole* season.  What I will find surprising is if Howard is still with Everton next season.

Shaun: Deuce will continue to play well and will be very important to Fulham. EJ too will hopefully make an impact coming off the bench, but it will be Holden who will have the most impact on his team by an American. He’s playing the centralized midfield role and he’s doing it well. Currently at mid-table, Bolton are playing better football than last year and a lot has to do with their hard-working engine room.

Eric, AFR: Stu Holden. Bolton are playing a beautiful brand of football, and credit to Owen Coyle for constructing a perfect mix of youth and experience in his squad. Bob Bradley has told Stuart Holden that he should conserve his energy throughout the 90 minutes. Nope, that’s not the plan in the Premier League. Stu’s endurance is second to none, and his constant pressure provides a presence that has the tone for Bolton’s mentality. With hard work will come class…

Chamo, CO: This is tough, because quite frankly almost all of them have had some early struggles. Friedel wasn’t at fault for the 6-0 drubbing Villa got, but he only recently seemed to regain the form we are so used to seeing from him. Dempsey seems to be getting weened back into the Fulham squad, though with the injury to Zamora Deuce might be expected to fill the void. That said, I think Tim Howard will have the best year, even if Everton doesn’t. Everton would have 0 points instead of 2 if it wasn’t for Timmy.

Holden, bounding forward in the EPL...

Corey, CoS: He who gets more playing time, Stu Holden or Clint Dempsey. It’s a long season. Holden has to prove he’s ready to shine from autumn to spring. Dempsey, the pride of Nacogdoches and guardian of Craven Cottage, has to stay healthy. What Fulham lost in Roy Hodgson they retained in a cohesive, gritty squad. Advantage Dempsey.

Matthew, TSG: Stu Holden was our first requested and completed interview here at TSG. In short, we’re big fans. His speed is top 10% for midfielders in the EPL. He maintains possession, but can threaten himself.

Holden may not show up often in the stat sheet this year for Bolton as he plays a linking midfield role more than attacking, but in terms of importance to their team and quality year, Holden will just edge Howard.

Note, TSG is on record as saying that Stu Holden will be the next American to play in the semifinals of the Champions’ League (that of course, necessitates a club move). Let’s see if that one happens.

Surprise: Kicking Off An EPL Jumble!

…and we’re back with another of our Jumble Series.

Our EPL Roundtable crew matches wits with the best...

With the EPL revving up and even more coverage of the games on stateside networks, we go with our first Premiership Jumble of the season.

And now for our round table crew:

• The Martin Tyler of the Web and one of the editors of The Shin Guardian. The World Cup marathon man, Shaun Webb.

• Founder of the highly cerebral “A Football Report” and also a player on the Emory University team, Eric Beard.

• From soccer blog ConstantlyOffsides, your either with Scott Parker or against him. And he is Chamo.

• Thou shalt not call Dimitar Berbatov the anti-christ, the co-founder of The Church of Soccer, Corey Bennett.

• And never bringing up the rear, your favorite TSG England fanatic, GeorgeCross.

We start of with…this year’s surprises:

Who’s your surprise team of the year thus far? (Positively or negatively)

Corey, CoS: Everton. The Toffees will turn the season around, but taking two points from five matches makes qualifying for Europe slightly more likely than Mikel Arteta playing for England. One month into the season, a mid-table finish is the best possible outcome.

Malouda and Chelsea are cookin'!

Eric, AFR: The easy answer here is Blackpool, who have been tremendous under Ian Holloway and deserve to be sitting in 4th. But I have to go with Chelsea. After a preseason that included losses to Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Ajax, and of course Manchester United, I expected troubles in the Ancelotti camp, not back-to-back 6-nil victories. Didier Drogba is the form of his life, but the efficiency of the attack as a whole is FIFA 10-esque. Even Carlo Ancelotti said managing his team was like playing PlayStation…

Chamo, CO:The obvious choice here would be Blackpool bursting out of the gates, but I’m more surprised by Everton’s inability to win. Losing away to Blackburn and Villa is somewhat understandable, but they haven’t shown up to play against the “must-win” teams like Wolves, even when they are at Goodison Park. The incredible comeback against Man United was commendable, but so far its the only bright spot in Everton’s season, since they should be challenging for European places and currently find themselves in the relegation zone.

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