It was a good day for browsing Guardian Football this Friday. I should’ve done a screen-grab, but here’s a link roundup:
The top headline was Mourinho’s latest war of words with Wenger, with supplementary commentary on Mourinho’s saying and slayings and a listicle on his various spats (“Jose Mourinho is no stranger to managerial spats having been embroiled in rows with Arsène Wenger, Rafa Benítez, Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Manuel Pellegrini over the years”)
Lower down on the page, the Guardian’s cerebral hipster football journalists do a Spurs brace: Sid Lowe interviews former Spurs manager Juande Ramos (who is also a former Rayo Vallecano, Espanyol, Real Betis, Sevilla, Malaga, Real Madrid, and CSKA Moscow manager) Juande Ramos, ahead of his return to White Hart Lane next week with current club Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk for a Europa League tie; while brain-in-a-vat Jonathan Wilson trains his historically inclined tactical eye on “supreme sweeper-keeper” Hugo Lloris:
Lloris stands as the modern exponent of a strand of goalkeeping stretching back into the great Hungarian Gyula Grosics. After the Football Association restricted goalkeepers to handling in their own box (as opposed to their own half) in 1912, goalkeepers tended to hang back, coming off their lines to narrow the angle but little more. Grosics, the keeper when Hungary beat England 6-3 at Wembley in 1953, began to change that – at one point in that game, he kicks a ball clear right on the 18-yard line, something that drew gasps of astonishment from the commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme.
(He goes on for a few more paragraphs in this fashion on the historical evolution of this “theory” of goalkeeping, getting in a plug for his latest book along the way: “There is far more on this and other theories of goalkeeping in The Outsider.”)
But Barney Ronay, ever the contrarian, prevents a hat-trick of hipster Spurs columns, and instead trains his wry eye on on Manchester United–the headline indicates where this one goes: “Why David Moyes has many crosses to bear at Manchester United.” It’s always a challenging trying to find the most Ronayian paragraph from any given column to excerpt–one tends to keep start with just one, but then the shift key stays depressed and the scroll down keeps going. But here is just one (ok, two) from this one:
Being a manager is by definition a transient occupation. Football managers are basically born to be fired, cast from the earliest days as patsies and fall-guys, shoved out front to draw the ire of the crowd from failings higher up, and retaining even in the good times an air of the sanatorium patient, lurking palely on the touchline, pyjamas sticking out the bottom of their trousers, twitching and fretting and whirling around at the first clank of the scythe in the shadows. This probably explains why so much effort is expended on looking for signs: the first sneeze, the first shiver of weakness, the detail that will harden up into some decisive managerial murder weapon.
For Moyes, in the wake of the home draw with Fulham last weekend, there is a new front-runner: crosses, or specifically the 81 crosses United delivered at Old Trafford. It is a statistic Moyes was still being asked to defend in midweek, and which for many observers has seemed to codify something – that lingering air of tactical bluntness, the sense that this is a man who has come to a light sabre-battle-waving a baguette, a manager handed the keys to one of Europe’s high-spec luxury footballing saloons who seems intent on padding his way around the track with the engine stalled and his great pale furry feet poking down between the pedals.
Though beyond these verbal pyrotechnics he says less about Moyes and more about the cross as the historical and conceptual idée fixe of English football
Finally, I met up with Edhino for a few minutes Friday afternoon at the Brooklyn Museum, and as we walked our toddlers through the Egyptian collection, he suggested we start a soccer school based on this Dutch concept of 10,000 touches per day (a post which the Guardian republished from this rather nice-looking site These Football Times (via their “Guardian Sport Network“). Looks like a nice site. The home page currently has, in addition to the 10K post, articles on the UEFA Euro Futsal 2014 tourney, Mourinho 2.0, Cryuff’s impact as a manager, and “the Sherwood conundrum.” They also have a “Futuro series” of posts profiling young up and coming talents (and a bunch more interesting-looking links listed on this page).