When we look back on the 2011-2012 Premier League season, we’re going to realize that these past few fixtures of games separated the men from the boys. Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have pulled away from the pack in England, leaving Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal fighting for the final spot in Champions League football.
Manchester United easily took down Wigan Athletic 5-0 this week even with Wayne Rooney starting on the bench. That’s the same Wigan squad that drew with Liverpool 0-0 last week and drew 1-1 with Chelsea the week before. While the Reds squandered two points against Wigan, United lay waste to Fulham by a 5-0 scoreline. Guess who played Fulham this week? Chelsea. The Blues took just a point in a 1-1 draw while playing at Stamford Bridge while the Red Devils were able to take the full three points at Craven Cottage.
Manchester City mustered just a weak draw at West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day. However, City defeated Arsenal in a pivotal showdown the previous week that kept them at the top of the league. They are now tied with United (ahead on goal-differential) after this week’s draw and United’s victory. Read more…
Like many American soccer fans, I’m very excited with Juergen Klinsmann taking over the reigns of the U.S. national team. I was never a fan of Bob Bradley and am very happy to see Klinsmann agree to the job.
But this gets to a point I’ve always been a bit iffy on in soccer: Should national team coaches be allowed to come from a different country as the one they coach?
Klinsmann is German born, played for the German national team and coached the team as well. If all U.S. players must be Americans in order to play, shouldn’t Klinsmann have to be American in order to coach? Sure, FIFA has rules that allow teams to switch national teams (Jermaine Jones has dual-citizenship for the U.S. and Germany and chose the U.S. after playing three friendlies for Germany), but those rules don’t even exist for coaching.
Klinsmann doesn’t need to have American citizenship and doesn’t need to have any connection to the United States even. U.S. soccer president Sunil Gulati could hire Maradona tomorrow and under FIFA rules, that’s entirely acceptable.
Right now, England’s manager is Fabio Capello, an Italian. When he was introduced in 2010, FIFA president Sepp Blatter criticized the move, saying “I would say it is a little surprising that the motherland of football has ignored a sacrosanct law or belief that the national team manager should be from the same country as the players.”
Well Sepp, why isn’t it a rule? Why shouldn’t each soccer federation be comprised entirely of people born in that country – or at least with citizenship from that country? From players to trainers to coaches to scouts, everyone should be equal.
So while I am certainly excited about Klinsmann taking the job, it is tainted with a slight bad taste of a non-American coaching the team. Even so, that’s a rule Blatter should change and until then, I’m looking forward to Klinsmann bringing this team to its full potential.
The MLS All-Stars lost to Manchester United 4-0 last night in a scoreline that doesn’t reflect how the game went. The MLS’s stars played well in the first half, sticking with the Red Devils for the full 45 minutes but found themselves down 2-0 at the break. In the second half, United took control and outplayed the MLS, leading to a 4-0 final scoreline.
But my issue isn’t with the final score. Yes, the MLS deserved better, but that’s how soccer – and sports – work. United took their chances very well and the MLS missed a couple of golden opportunities. What is a problem is that this game is seen as a referendum on the state of soccer in America.
The MLS All-Stars get to practice for a couple of days and then are tossed on the field together and expected to compete with the top teams in the world. You can compare individual players at each position around the field and Manchester United will generally have the better players, but the gap is closing.
However, if you just look at the scoreline or even watch the game, you wouldn’t notice that. Many of United’s players have been playing with each other for years and the team has been playing friendlies around the U.S. for the past month. They are in preseason mode, but are finding their form. And they are used to playing with each other.
Rooney and Berbatov play off each other well. The defense holds the backline and communication around the field is significantly greater for the Red Devils. Read more…