Since I’m completely adept at predictions, here goes a few more…wait a second….anyone else having a hard
time believing or understanding why ‘Arry Rednapp would want David Beckham at Tottenham? (I had commented that this had the same chance of happening as the World Cup coming to the US in 2022…anywho…)
I don’t understand it. Game after game Gareth Bale launches curling crosses from the left–or right–flank and game after game either Roman Pavlyuchenko or Peter Crouch (we’ll get back to Crouch) flail and flail and flail. And now Tottenham wants Beckham? To do precisely what? Heave more balls into the 18′ that get missed instead of employing Lennon to drive the wing?
Rely exclusively on Luka Modric for the steel in your midfield? Someone….Anyone?!
Okay, let’s move on with predictions that are guaranteed (not) to come true in 2011 or otherwise known as the Year Of The Shin Guardian (kidding):
• Michael Bradley goes to the Premiership
Let’s start with a lay-up. Well not really, but one for this column.
Borussia Monchengladbach–or Bo’Munchen as we call it around TSG country–is flailing in the Bundesliga right now and Junior’s contract is up in the summer of 2012 (correction). They’ll want to get value for Bradley….plus the Bundesliga outfit just brought in youngster Håvard Nordtveit, a promising 6’2” Norwegian defender despite washing out of Arsenal’s system. Nordtveit plays defense but has also spent time in the midfield.
Junior has always expressed his desire to play for a top team. While Bradley The Senior was a student of the Italian side Inter, Serie A and Italian football are now squarely focused on home-grown players in the way of their World Cup 2010 collapse I just can’t see Junior heading to Bootville–though I do favor Roma as the best destination. Anyone remember how Jose Mourinho was condemned last year because his Inter squad consisted of mostly foreign-born players?
Back to Junior….
Arsenal….specifically Arsene Wenger was rumored to be tailing the Junior Bradley around South Africa–though the report was never corroborated. Would a move to Manchester United where Bob Bradley has a relationship with Sir Alex be beyond the scope of possibility.
Who knows, but Premiership bound at the least we can see.
• Clubs focus on making their product offensive
While the World Cup might have brought us the likes of Nigel DeJong and Mark Van Bommel hammering opponents at the very edge of the yellow card line, that international soccer trend will not be one that overtakes the club game.
Sure you can point to Barcelona and Real Madrid already showing lookers what offensive football is all about, but there is a sweeping notions that will drive offensive focus and employment in leagues around the world.
…and it starts with a wider dispersion of the scrilla, the dead presidents….money. With more teams in the Premiership (Manchester City), in MLS (NYRB) opening up budgets there is cash out there for a wider swath of teams to compete for championship level football across leagues and to have the depth that’s needed to do it.
Combine that with a wider net cast by talent developers at clubs and the result is multiple options for the big payday for multiple players.
Therefore further is needed beyond cash to entice a player in many cases.
In fact, in an odd example, Ryan Smith of the Kansas City Wizards (and formerly of Arsenal) commented this past year to TSG that he had a number of offers when Arsenal cut him loose but it was Peter Vermes commitment to attacking football that was a major variable in Smith’s decision to sign with then the Kansas City Wizards. Was there a more unlikely first timers in MLS last year than they heavily accented Londoner Ryan Smith who hails from one of the busy part of London going to play in Kansas City?
And the manifestation obviously comes on the playing field as well.
When a team (like Blackpool under Ian Holloway or Bolton under Owen Coyle) get attack-minded, players remain more focused and put in a hard effort on the defensive end. The best way to get a player involved on defense is get that player on involved offense.
While a team like Holloway’s Seasiders may get a beatdown from time to time, the notion of the “attack” gives player the excitement to come to field and challenge teams with more talent.
Beyond this chain reaction, we haven’t yet talked about the MLS’s Index to improve scoring or the need to improve scoring to improve ratings–can you say….Jabulani!
• USMNT: Tim Ream’s grooming for 2014 will begin.
Ask TSG a few months ago an Omar Gonzalez would have been the mortal lock for 2014 starter. We’re still in Gonzalez’s camp despite Gonzalez’s late season swoon–both he and Ream had shockers in their team’s final playoff games–but we’re a little concerned about Gonzalez’s ability to turn and stick with quicker attackers.
Gonzalez will receive challenges for his playing time on the right from the likes of Gale Agbossoumonde Chad Marshall, Ike Opara and perhaps Oguchi Onyewu.
Meanwhile, there is no other leftie in the Yank’s youth farm system beyond Brek Shea, who received raved reviews in central defense recently overseas, but never has been employed there for club and country. Sure there is Clarence Goodson, but he appears to have a ceiling as an understudy under Bob Bradley.
Ream’s got the height, the athleticism and most importantly the main trait the US is lacking at the back–difference-making ball distribution–to nail the spot.
Usher in…the era of Tim Ream?
• Two Javiers will join the world’s elite.
At different times last year, Lionel Messi, Ronaldo, Arjen Robben, Wayne Rooney (certainly in the English speaking press), Wesley Sneijder and Xavi were considered the best in class in global soccer.
2011 won’t bring the outright demise of any of those players–indeed Lionel Messi and Ronaldo as we wrote earlier last week seem to be hitting their Bird-Magic moment–but will see Rooney and Robben begin to slip.
In their place, two stars will join the elite class and if you’ve been paying attention to TSG, you’ve probably already have an idea of one of them.
21-year-old Argentine Javier Pastore–or simply Pastore–will continue to dazzle at Palermo and–added prediction–end up, in our opinion, either Barcelona or Chelsea when the 2011 winds down.
And Mexican flairmeister, Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez–who has shoved our questions of whether his nickname of “Little Pea” was driving his hype down our throat–will force his way on to the starting eleven at Manchester United and drive Mexico to greater heights in international play.
The current super sub already has one of the best headers in the game and is nightmare to track off the ball.
Is it any wonder that Federico Macheda sees the writing on the wall at Old Trafford and wants out?
• Speaking of Manchester, a Special SomeOne will be rumored to take up residence there.
Hedging our 2011 bet here a little.
Does Jose Mourinho stay in La Liga with Real Madrid for one or two years. We know it’s no more than two reasons max with Ronaldo. I mean, who could?
Post-Bernebeu, Mourniho will head back to the Premiership (either in 2011 or ’12) likely as the skipper of the Citizens, but perhaps, depending on Sir Alex Ferguson’s desire, across town at the home of the Red Devils.
Bet on Manchester City if you have to. Now the question is will Mourinho don his own style scarf….or a snood?
• Andy Carroll will transform the English national team.
England, you have Kevin Nolan to thank, we think.
Bad boy striker Carroll has been involved in many a melee, and as part of a bail condition for a trial that resumes this month, Carroll was ordered to live with Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan.
The hope of the Three Lions rests on Carroll’s ability to stay out of trouble.
Not since Michael Owen graced the pitch with full fitness has England had a true striker that could really damage a central defense. You might contend Wayne Roo-ins fit that bill, but the Shrekster prefers to play more of a false nine and meander about the field.
In Carroll, England have a big body to stay upfield for the deep ball who can also deposit the marble in the netting from outside the eighteen, a true step-up at the international level from a slow and misfiring Emile Heskey. Peter Crouch, not your international solution either.
More so, with Carroll occupying defenders, Wayne Rooney can comfortably work the space behind him. Add in Adam Johnson on the wing–who bewilderingly is not a regular starter at Manchester City, and things are looking up for the Queen’s squad.
• Who’s left without a chair in LA Galaxy musical chairs.
Would that be Landon Donovan? But only if he doesn’t want one.
Here’s what we came up with last week:
Conspiracy theory: Donovan tells Bababooey..I mean Bruce Arena…that he wants to push for a move to Everton. Arena reminds him that he hasn’t won an MLS Cup in Los Angeles (since 2005) and that he shortchanged his club team by having a World Cup focus in 2010.
Donovan agrees to defer for a year and tells Bruce he’ll give him the year. Arena stockpiles all his national team cronies for one last hurrah as he sunsets to the shuffleboard pavement up in Santa Barbara.
End result? Ronaldinho finds with way to Los Angeles this year if and only if Landon Donovan has intimated to MLS that he wants to head to Goodison after this year.
So deductively, if you see Ronaldinho out at Koi…I mean out on the pitch at HDC, start peppering Landon with questions on Twitter.
• Freddy Adu won’t come back to MLS
• Arsenal won’t pick up a 1st string goalkeeper.
• The USWNT will not win the World Cup….but they’ll be entertaining and welcome the era of Heath and Alex Morgan.
• John Henry & Company will introduce a “Moneyball” strategy to player development and acquisition at Liverpool that will vaunt “Sabermetrics”-type analysis into the mainstream media in soccer. (Not that it didn’t exist before, just now folks will take notice.)
• Houston will sign David Suazo as their designated player once attempts to lure Giovanni Dos Santos from Tottenham’s doghouse fall through.
• Freddie Montero will win the Golden Boot in MLS; Omar Cummings will prove he belongs in the EPL.
• Sepp Blatter will win the FIFA election in a bigger landslide than Reagan beat Mondale.
• Danny Mwanga will declare that he will play for the United States, Andy Najar will not.