Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Real Talk Football News – 24/11/2010

Since so much has happened in the past week, here’s a little update of what had been happening in the Football World.

We start with Arsenal, who went on to lose to Sporting Braga last night after they collapsed against Tottenham at the weekend. However Arsenal like to make things difficult for themselves in the Champions League, but should qualify from the group. Also they are just one win off the top spot, so all this negativity surrounding Wenger needs to be eased. A few players need to pull their weight more, but it’s not the end of the World.

Onto everyone’s favourite trouble maker; Luis Suarez. The talented Uruguayan has received a seven match ban for biting opposition PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal. The video of which can be seen below.

Wayne Rooney made his long awaited return for Manchester United, in a dull 2-0 win against Wigan. The striker apparently returned a stone lighter. Interesting to see how the England striker performs from now on.

Also Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey played 45minutes for the reserves on Tuesday afternoon against Wolves. The 19 year old broke his leg against Stoke in February. The first big step on the road to recovery which is welcome sign from many football fans.

In relegation battle news, West Ham have mutually terminated (if you will) the contract of Avram Grant’s assistant Zeljko Petrovic after he was branded out of touch and arrogant. His influence on the squad must have been a negative one, and his role was ended following the 3-0 defeat this Sunday.

He came out today though, with some heavy criticism of his own stating that; "Everybody has great words for the Premier League but it is a myth. The Premier League is a c*** league, it is nothing.” He went on to add "In truth the level is shocking. Every team has just three good players. If you take those players out of the teams then there are only players left who would not be playing in the bottom team in Holland. The Bundesliga is far better."

To be honest, no one even really knew this guy was here so I don’t think anyone cares he left, or what his opinion is.

Finally, FIFA have posted their 10 nominees for “FIFA Puskas Award 2010” which celebrates the best goal from last season. There are ten wonder goals on the FIFA website, which can be viewed here; but this is my favourite. Take a bow son!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Mancini: One Year at Eastlands

Roberto Mancini was recently asked;

It’s nearly a year since you became manager (of Manchester City) and the man you replaced is managing the opposition team (Mark Hughes of Fulham), do you feel this team has improved in the year that you’ve been here?

The 45 year old took his time to reply and stated simple that they “have improved”, and continued to defend his corner when being pushed by the journalist stating that “by the end of the season, we will be in the Champions League and (we) will win something”.

Confident words and a confidence response, the video of which can be seen here. However the real question to ask is; with their millions of pound twined with the calibre of players in the Manchester City squad, is there any real substance to Mancini’s claims?

Under former boss Mark Hughes, it was clear that being at the helm before the new owners took charge; ultimately meant his time in charge would be limited, however during his spell at the Eastlands club, he had amassed a number of great victories, including two big wins over Arsenal, a win over Chelsea and thrilling encounters in matches against local rivals Manchester United.

But most importantly was the sense that under his guidance, and with his free flowing attacking Manchester City side, it would not be such a silly statement to believe that they would make it into the Champions League sooner rather than later, establishing them as a serious threat to other teams at the top of the division.

It would now be argued, that with following his poorly handled dismissal, Man City’s signing’s are a step forward and those which should have any football fan drooling, but football wise, the club has taken a step backwards.

Under Mark Hughes, the club were scoring goals, their strong-arm tactics were ruffling feathers and many clubs couldn’t handle this new found City side and their new found ability to outplay sides, making them look a certainty for that elusive fourth spot.

Mark Hughes Favourite Line-up

However Mancini was drafted in, boasting three Serie A titles in the bag, and the experience of working with high calibre names. His first few months in charge saw a slowdown in Man City’s free flowing attacking prowess and saw a more resolute and compact side emerge, one that in the end cost them the much craved 4th spot, losing out to Tottenham.

Now after a summer of activity, which has seen them spend money like its heading out of fashion, saw the likes of the talented yet temperamental Italian/Ghanaian Mario Balotelli (£24 million), Midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure (£28 million), attacking midfielder David Silva (£24 million), left back Aleksander Kolarov (£16 million), versatile defender Jerome Boateng (£11 million) and exciting midfielder James Milner (£24 million) all join the club, saw a team with an array of players good enough to contend for the Champions League crown let alone the Premiership title.

But with this in mind, despite Man City progressing as they should with the quality on show, they are still not meeting their full potential and for me these boils down to one sole entity; and that is that of boss Roberto Mancini.

Despite beating a few of the big teams on the odd occasion, Mancini seems to be satisfied just to match these "big teams" rather than play to win (the Manchester United 0-0 draw comes to mind). The defensive minded 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 formation, may just about overpower some of the “smaller” teams, but Manchester City fans “revolution” seems to have stalled, with them and pundits alike not really too impressed.

Fair enough Mancini’s player need time to gel, but I feel that when you pay a lot of money for these kinds of players, and you have a mix of players who have Premiership experience (Such Bridge, Richards, Hart, Given, Barry, Adebayor, Tevez) you don’t need as much time to adapt to the Premiership, as the bunch coming in from overseas.

Also Mancini may state that his side are now “playing as a team” and “doesn’t concede a lot of goals” and so on, but the potential of Man City to be World beater is that which cannot be ignored.

In the Premiership, it’s known for its fast paced, all action, highly committed open football. Not defensive minded tactics, no nonsense “stop at all means necessary” defending and holding midfielders.

Roberto Mancini's Favourite Line-up

Mancini needs to consider toning down the defensiveness and adapting a more expansive approach in order to ascertain the heights Man City are capable of reaching, as the Sheiks patience may be shorter than it seems.

Allow De Jong to anchor the midfield, while Yaya Toure runs the midfield. Play Milner on the right wing, with Adam Johnson on the left, allowing for them to switch sides and get forward. With Yaya and De Jong in the middle, the freedom going forward will be greater as the two central players have great engines and are just as comfortable tackling as they are passing.

In defence, keep the Kompany and Toure partnership as they create the foundation for the side. Kolo Toure has great experience, while Kompany is a highly skilled individual with an eye for the game. Lescott, Boateng and the young Boyata are more than admirable deputies.

Full backs are the area’s whereby the side could definitely need strengthening, I’m not one for rumours, but Dani Alves of Barcelona is a name being touted around. For now Richards is a capable right back, while Boateng’s versatility allows for him to cover at right back.

Left back, is another problem area, while Kolarov had a budding reputation in Italy, injury has hampered his start to life in England. Also Wayne Bridge still warms the treatment room, and never seems able to string more than a few games together before reinjuring himself. The versatile Argentine Pablo Zabaleta has been playing left back most recently, and will continue to do so until a greater option comes in.

The frontline is the most intriguing part of the Man City’s line-up, with a combined value of £122.5 million; the options available are the envy of any club in the World. With the disruptive influence of Emmanuel Adebayor, he would have no place in my team, and Mancini seems to feel the same.

J ô seems to be favoured by Mancini and must be impressing in training as after previous spells away from the club on loan, he has been given his chance in the team, all be it from the subs bench. Roque Santa Cruz pretty much has no future at the club, and is expected to leave this January. With his injury prone nature and lack of goals, he is expendable.

Finally we come the final three strikers, two of which need to slot into the starting eleven. For me, Tevez is one of the best players in the World, hence for that reason, he has to start. Supporting him; the highly creative and technically gifted David Silva would be an excellent link between midfield and the strikers; however I feel Balotelli’s ability, value for his worth would make him a starter and be capable of forming an excellent partnership with Tevez upfront.

This, of course is just my opinion, and my feelings to what I would do if I was under as much scrutiny as Mancini is. Manchester City has an abundance of riches as well as an abundance of talent, however with these great expectations come great responsibility. Champions League qualification, and some form of silverware is the benchmark for this season, and unless Mancini start delivering on his promises, he could be on his way out sooner rather than later.

What are your thoughts on Roberto Mancini’s reign? How long do you guys think it will last? What does the future hold for Man City? Let us know what you think

Friday, 19 November 2010

Real Talk Football Update

Hi guys, I had a few issue's regarding the multimedia and content on the site, as well as a few maintenance problems, however it has all now been resolved.
We have a new layout, so let me know what you think. Also we have some new polls, so make sure you guys vote!

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I appreciate at the support, the blog has got more recognition then I could of ever imagined, so I thank you all for that. Lets enjoy the rest of the year and look forward to an exciting 2011.

Real Talk Football

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Damien Comolli: The New Face at Anfield

An intriguing football move occurred this week, but unlike any unceremonious free transfers, or players threatening to walk out in January due to a “lack of ambition”, it was a return to English football for a man with some unfinished business to attend to in the Premiership. This man being; Damien Comolli.

Comolli, now 38 years old, previously spent 7 years at Arsenal, after joining from the AS Monaco coaching staff, and while working amongst one of the best scouting teams in the World he was credited with finding the likes of Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Eboue.

He then spent a year back in France with Saint-Etienne, before returning to English football as Director of football at Tottenham Hotspur, where he stayed at the club for three years, before returning to Saint-Etienne in 2008, leaving amongst harsh criticism due his role in signing certain players, along with the underperforming coach Juande Ramos.

Now, two years later, he has signed up to the mini-revolution occurring at Anfield. With the new owners NESV in charge, they stated that Comolli’s appointment as Director of Football Strategy, will not only require him oversee the pursuing new young talent, but also add quality players to the club. He is also expected to work closely with boss Roy Hodgson.

His track record is very good, in his time he has brought in the likes of Luka Modric, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Dimitar Berbatov, Gareth Bale, and Gomes to Tottenham. Players who have all proved their worth at the club and are now first team regulars, while Berbatov saw the club make a £20million profit.

On the subject of Gareth Bale, the Weslshman was brought to the club as a 17 year old and has is now showcasing his fantastic potential and is a player who has impressed and improved in this past year, with his excellent performances in the Premiership against the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as his sensational performances against Inter Milan, in Spurs first ever Champions League campaign.

Camolli spoke to the BBC Sport website, and he recalls his first memories of scouting the him as a 17 year old explaining “When I watched him for the first time I was gobsmacked"

"He was already showing the strength, the technical ability, the confidence to take people on, the pace, the quality left foot, the work-rate. He had it all.

He then went on to add one of the greatest comparisons a football could receive, let alone a left back, stating that “I remember coming back from scouting him and thinking 'I've seen the new Paolo Maldini.

As any scout, there have been a few misses. These include the likes of Ricardo Rocha; who had a poor spell at Spurs, along with Kevin Prince Boateng, who found more success on loan at Portsmouth and on International duty then at White Hart Lane, and Darren Bent who also underperformed at Spurs but has displayed his goal scoring ability and prowess at Sunderland. More names include David Bentley, Gilberto, Pascal Chimbonda, Hossam Ghaly and Giovani Dos Santos.

As stated before, it will be intriguing to see how his role impacts the club. It could be beneficial in the sense of bring some much need composer and common sense to Liverpool’s somewhat hit and miss transfer record in the last 5 years.

On the other hand it could be disruptive to the club, as during his time at Tottenham he was give a sufficient amount of time, but the club wasn’t performing on the pitch, which saw him leave the club.

His signings however have definitely been value for money, but they needed time to prove their worth. This again highlights the importance for Liverpool fans to be patient, and will be needed once Comolli gives the go ahead for certain transfers.

This new presence amongst the club should give a greater understanding to some of the finer details regarding players already in the Premiership, and help Hodgson to be more tactically astute and help churn out the victories on the pitch, with the club being a lot more fruitful in the transfer market. Some much needed knowledge and knowhow on Anfield aimed at getting Liverpool back on track, so more promising things to come for Liverpool fans as the club finally look like they’re getting their act together.