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Bleacher Report confusingly proclaims simultaneous decline and rise of Liverpool, City December 29, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer, Media.
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According to Bleacher Report, Liverpool and Manchester City will fade in 2012. Also according to Bleacher Report, both teams will surge ahead in 2012. I don’t know how that’s possible, but there it is.

The site has released a list of “7 Teams Who Will Fade in 2012” and a list of “10 Sleeper Soccer Teams That Will Explode in 2012,” and the two English teams are on both. Just to be clear, the distinction is not the “bang vs. whimper” dichotomy, but between teams that will improve and teams that will get worse in the new year.

To be fair to the site, though the headline for the second list reads “Will Explode,” the individual summaries of Liverpool and City only say that the teams have the potential for improvement (City could bounce back from being eliminated from the Champions League, while Liverpool can push on if a few more players return to form). The other list, meanwhile, only makes the case that both clubs will lose their most important player (Luis Suarez for Liverpool, Yaya Toure for City) for a month that also includes dangerous fixtures. It should also be stated that the lists were written by different columnists with different opinions.

Still, though, it’s kind of embarrassing.



I’ll root for the favorite October 24, 2011

Posted by michaeltomlinson in English soccer, European soccer.
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lulz cold!

Manchester City has more talent at more positions than any team in the English Premier League and did it by systematically buying the best players in the world over the past two seasons. As a Barcelona fan and a large proponent of a strong youth system, this conflicts a bit with what my ideal franchise looks like. But fuck it! I am under the impression that cute little quips like nearly setting your house on fire and acting like a 14 year old are adorable and lead to more goals in derby games.  Also David Silva and Kun Aguero are  some of the most visually stunning soccer players when the ball is at their feet. I’d like to think I’m not usually a bandwagon jumper but ever since City signed my beloved Yaya I have had a thing for the boys in baby blue. To have a team other than the Red Devils or the Blues win the title would be pretty exciting, void of who wins it, but hey Man City is up 5 points so might as well roll with them.

Yaya Toure was a worse defensive midfielder than de Jong against Aston Villa because he wasn’t playing as one. October 17, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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To hear whoever is behind FourFourTwo’s Stats Zone analysis column tell it, the following chart shows that Yaya Toure struggled against Aston Villa because Nigel de Jong was playing:

“The 4-1 win indicates that City thrived, and De Jong made the most completed passes for the home side (86), but Toure didn’t. Substituted after 65 minutes, the Ivorian had only completed 22 passes, easily his lowest of the season so far,” the columnist writes.

But Nigel de Jong was playing as a defensive midfielder. His job is to stay in place and receive the ball, then send it along. Yaya Toure was playing as a number 10. His job is to find space to move into and play telling passes. De Jong played zero passes in the final third, while Toure did. Does that mean he played worse? No. It’s irrelevant, because that’s not what’s expected of players in his position. Toure spent a lot of time getting behind the defense and, for heaven’s sake, he got an assist.

FC Barcelona doesn’t care about black people July 18, 2010

Posted by michaeltomlinson in European soccer, Spanish soccer.
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First George W Bush and now the authority on beautiful football, FC Barcelona may catch the weary eye of one, hip-hop fashionista Kanye West. Over the last two years they have for one reason or another let go of their three most prominent African descended footballers (Touré, Henry, Eto’o). French National Eric Abidal is the lone ranger who sees consistent starting time at left back, and made clear by this striking photo he apparently doesn’t like you, sorry.

I’m not trying to portray Juan La Porta as xenophobic or anything, I’m just saying he fears foreigners for generally unfounded preconceptions, its different. I am willing to accept that his MAY be an absurd and unjust claim, but really it is too easy to blame Spain and their people for cute little instances of racial insensitivity, its just so casual!

One of the more recent exits of Yaya Touré felt personally the worst and from a footballing stand point made the least sense. Thierry Henry’s voyage to the new world was no shock, The retirement home for former European greats, errrr The MLS had been keen on him for a while and shouldn’t leave Camp Nou in any sort of dire position. But Touré at times did for Barcelona what Cesc is heavily relied on doing for Arsenal and arguably Spain in his substitute stints, and that is break down the center of the pitch with timely and calculated runs. I’m ready aware that Cesc plays an attacking role while Yaya generally holds down the defensive side of things but what they share is an innate ability to find gaps in the center of defense for runs off the ball, and both players do this for teams who at times control possession without much vigor to push forward.

On another note Xavi and Iniesta are often coined by many as the little magicians and what they do, they do it superbly, but that certainly isn’t being 6’2 and large bodied. Where as Xavi and Iniesta together use more outside of the foot touches and turns to frustrate defenders Touré literally boxes them out a la Charles Barkley. Size in soccer probably means less than any major sport especially in The United States but that isn’t to say that it is unimportant. Between Xavi, Iniesta and Messi they barely have 15 and a half feet between them and calling Sergio Busquets frail may be an understatement. Sometimes you need a large body out there just to keep defenses honest.

Whether you find it absurd or not their is a Reason (outside of spending money on pretty much anything) that Manchester City made Touré the highest paid player in the Premiership. Being able to hold down the fort with stellar positioning and smart passing coupled with the ability to ward off defenders to maintain possession and create through the center of the pitch is something any team in the world would love to model a holding midfielder after.

It’s been made fairly obvious with the disgraceful departure of Chygrynskiy that at times even with the touted youth system and scouting prowess Barcelona has at their finger tips they dig a bit too deep. If it aint’ broke don’t fix it, and yet with Samuel Eto’o  a year prior and with Yaya recently the Catalan giants seem content with dealing away talent in search of the next best thing.  An analogy can be made to your neighborhood heroin addict and his inherent need for more but I think the xenophobia reference was quite enough for everyone.