The 10 Most Common Football Cliches – #5

By Jon Langford

#5 – Parking the bus

This phrase, widely credited to Chelsea boss José Mourinho circa 2008, simply means to play very defensively.

As metaphors go, it’s hardly Shakespearean, but in the limited vocabulary world of football, it’s actually not bad. And people seem to be running with it, too. Last season, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers accused Mourinho of “parking two buses” during Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Anfield. Furthermore, the tactic has worked its way so deeply into football folklore that there’s even a ‘park the bus’ strategy on the latest version of the FIFA video game.

The 10 Most Common Football Cliches – #6

By Jon Langford

#6 - A good touch for a big man

This cliché is almost always uttered with a sense of incredulity, as if the big man in question is so gangly and ungraceful that it’s a miracle he can trap a football without collapsing in a heap and exploding.

The poster boy for this phrase has to be lanky smashing lad Peter Crouch, whose dainty footwork despite his daddy longlegs has been impressing commentators the world over for a decade-and-a-half, and once led Crouch’s former England strike partner Michael Owen to observe, “He’s fantastic on the ground but he’s obviously really tall.”

Cosmos Sign El Salvador Captain Andres Flores

flores-aug-23-minnesota-carousel_lovay8x4weie16aei7rl188v8The New York Cosmos announced today that the team has acquired El Salvadoran international Andrés Flores from Turín-FESA Fútbol Clube (El Salvador), with the midfielder signing a multi-year contract. As per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“I really enjoyed my stay with the team last season,” Flores said. “It’s a great coaching staff with an attacking philosophy and I had very good chemistry with my teammates. Coming back to New York permanently was something that I was always wanted to do.”

Flores, 24, spent the 2014 NASL Fall Season with the Cosmos on loan from Turín. He appeared in 8 league games, recording one goal and one assist and helping the team to its second consecutive postseason appearance.

A San Salvador native, Flores has also made 39 appearances for the El Salvador senior national team. He also serves as captain for the national team, most recently during the 2014 Copa Centroamericana tournament. Flores originally made his debut for El Salvador in 2008 against Trinidad & Tobago.

Flores began his youth career with Academia Chelona and moved to Argentina’s River Plate in 2006, where he spent three years. In 2009, Flores returned to El Salvador with A.D. Isidro Metapán where he made over 60 appearances and led the club to multiple Primera Division titles. In 2012, he joined Viborg FF in Denmark for one year on loan before returning to Metapán.

“We’re delighted to bring back Andrés to our squad,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “He’s a key player for the El Salvador national team and his pace and ability provides us with another attacking threat.”

The New York Cosmos also announced that the team has signed fullback Jimmy Mulligan to a contract extension. As per club policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Mulligan, 23, made two starts in the 2014 Fall Season, making his professional debut on October 25, 2014 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He’s a Medford, N.Y. native who played at St. John’s University from 2009-2013. Mulligan finished his Red Storm career by earning both third team NSCAA All-Northeast Region accolades and second team All-BIG EAST honors.

The team also announced that it did not reach a new agreement with Diomar Diaz and that the Venezuelan midfielder will not return for the 2015 season.

The 10 Most Common Football Cliches – #7

By Jon Langford

7 – 2-0 is a dangerous lead

Why do co-commentators persist in saying this? 2-0 is a pretty comfortable lead. It’s certainly more comfortable than a 1-0 lead. And if you score again then you’re 3-0 up and cruising. I’m not buying it.

A dangerous lead is 4-3 at home in the last five minutes of two-legged cup tie after the first leg finished goalless. The only time 2-0 might’ve been considered dangerous is if you were playing at Old Trafford during Fergie’s tenure because without doubt United would be awarded a controversial penalty in the last minute and then you’d have ten minutes of injury time to contend with.

Cosmos End 2014 On Positive Note

image1By Cesar Trelles

There is no question that the unveiling of Raul by the New York Cosmos will go down as an historic moment in the team’s history, akin to the buzz generated by the likes of  Giorgio Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto and Pele when they wore the green and white. 

The club announced that Raul will be coming to play for a minimum of two years, and will also be an integral part of helping to build the academy program.

The signing marks a bold statement by a club detirmined to become the leading local professional soccer team. Along with Raul, Marcos Senna will be looking to bounce back from an injury ridden 2014 to duplicate the form he showed in his first year playing for the Cosmos

The announcement came at the start of an off season that has already seen big movement in the other local clubs, albeit in the opposite direction as Thierry Henry waved goodby to the NY Red Bulls and announced his retirement this week. Red Bulls fans are now waiting on news of the possible departure of their other star signing Tim Cahill, who may or may not return from his current winter commitment in Australia.

NYCFC may have to start life in the MLS and Yankee Stadium in March without star attraction Frank Lampard who’s services may be required at the mother club a while longer.

Turning our attention back to the Cosmos, their roster will also feature Mads Stokkelien who returns to the team for 2015. He not only led the team in goals in 2014 but also was instrumental in scoring two huge goals for the Cosmos as part of a 3-0 triumph against the Red Bulls during the US Open Cup.

So at this early stage in the off-season, and without any further significant changes, it appears that the Cosmos could boast the most star power on any of the three rosters. There  are also challenges off the field for the Cosmos however, as they have not been able to match up with their two local rivals when it comes to marketing dollars spent. Should the Cosmos find a way to close that gap and create more interest among local soccer fans, then they may just be able to hog some limelight in the coming year.

Raul himself could be instrumental in preaching the Cosmos gospel to area fans, after displaying a natural ability for public engagements during his press conference last week where he expressed to the media his excitement to be moving here.

“The project convinced me because I was looking forward to coming to the United States, and there’s no better city than New York to be in”, commented Raul.

“There’s a very important word for me which is passion – this word has been transmitted to me….I know that this is going to be a challenge, professionally and personally, as well as at a family level. But I think it’s going to be great, and I’m ready to move forward with this.”

As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words. The Cosmos look to have made a shrewd investment by bringing in Raul to play alongside Marcos Senna as well as contributing in other areas of club development.

At least for now the Cosmos fans can go into the holiday in good spirits, having already enjoyed some early season gifts.

• The Cosmos announced the dates for their 2015 spring home schedule. Those dates and opponents are as follows. Times are still to be determined.

Cosmos vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies 

(Saturday, April 18)

Cosmos vs. Ottawa Fury (Sat, May 2)

Cosmos vs. FC Edmonton (Sun, May 10)

Cosmos vs. San Antonio Scorpions 

(Saturday, May 23)

Cosmos vs. Jacksonville Armada FC 

(Saturday, June 13)

• Supporters Scarves are available Cross Island Crew Supporters Scarves are available for sale for $20. For information email crossislandcrew@gmail.com or visit

www.crossislandcrew.com

Virginia Claim 7th National College Title

uvaBy Pat Glodkowski

The Men’s College Cup concluded this past weekend at the WakeMed Soccer Park in suburban Raleigh in front of 8000 fans with UCLA, Providence, Virginia, and UMBC squaring off to claim the title of National Champions.

MEN’S COLLEGE SEMI FINALS

Virginia 1 UMBC 0

Virginia took on the dark horses of the tournament UMBC in the semifinals this past Friday. The Cavaliers were looking to make it to the finals for the 8th time in their history, and over the weekend they did just that. It was an end to UMBC’s impressive run this season, and marked their first appearance in the College Cup (final four).

Within the first five minutes of the game, Darius Madison took the ball to the left corner of the 18 and slotted home a goal.

Nonetheless, as it happens time and time again, UMBC had a glorious opportunity to equalize from a wonderful curler by Malcolm Harris, but it was held well by UVA’s Calle Brown. Madison almost got his brace in the second half after he found a wonderful cross, only to head it wide.

UMBC did all they could to salvage the match, but were held off by the superb defense we have seen from Virginia this year. The game ended 1-0, and saw UVA into the finals.

UCLA 3 Providence 2 aet

UCLA took on unlikely candidates, Providence, in the other semi final match up. This year marks UCLA’s 14th appearance in the College Cup, and Providence’s first.

Yet, it turned out to be an incredibly entertaining game with both sides finding chances early on. Then just before the half, UCLA found the back of the net thanks to Larry Ndjock who capitalized on some poor keeping and a bad block.

Providence were not down and out, though. Half way through the second half Thomas Ballentin made a run down the left wing to cross to Mac Steeve who’s powerful header hit the back of the net. Five minutes later an identical situation occurred to give the Friars a shock lead over UCLA. Then with time running out for UCLA, Ndjock managed to find himself in a beautiful position to head the ball past the keeper.

The game ended 2-2 in regulation, and was forced into overtime. After an uneventful first round of overtime UCLA was gifted a goal thanks to a bad clearance by Brandon Adler. UCLA won 3-2 to give them their first appearance in the final since 2006.

MEN’S COLLEGE FINAL 2014

 UCLA 0 Virginia 0 

Virginia win on penalties

The final of this year’s College Cup to decide the National Champions presented one of the more interesting match ups in recent memory. UVA and UCLA are among the most decorated teams in college soccer, where legends have come through both programs to carry on prestigious professional careers.

UCLA played their usual controlling game, maintaining the pace and testing UVA’s defense. It took them 15 minutes to finally find space for Chase Gasper to shoot, only to see the ball cruise over the net.

The Bruins were persistent as Leo Stolz shot then produced a corner. Nonetheless, Brown quashed any hopes of a chance coming from that set piece. Brian Iloski then tried to work some magic, sending a free kick towards Edgar Contreras, but the player only managed to head the ball directly at the keeper.

UVA chose to sit and defend, only rarely moving forward. The best chance the Cavaliers had all game was a free kick launch by Todd Wharton that went straight in the hands of Earl Edwards Jr.

At the start of the second half, Stolz found  his way deep into the attacking third, to cross the ball to Ndjock, where he was unable to convert.

UVA then had another opportunity off a set piece to score, but the ball was well held by UCLA keeper Edwards. Regular time as well as overtime concluded without any significant actions or plays coming from either outfit, bringing the game to penalties.

Both teams started off shaky, both missing their second spot kick. UVA scored their third, but UCLA missed theirs and went on to lose 4-2.

UVA has now won seven national champions following this historic victory. Congratulations to all the teams this year after fine displays all around. Now all these players can look forward to a restful off season, and the seniors to the Superdraft to take place in Philadelphia on January 15th.  

Don’t Believe The Hype

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal (left) shakes hands with Southampton manager Ronald Koeman (right) before the match.

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal (left) shakes hands with Southampton manager Ronald Koeman (right) before the match.

By Bill Thomas

Tis the season to be jolly, goodwill to all men, that kind of thing. It’s in precious short supply in football though isn’t it?

The media really isn’t helping much though is it? Football, rather than being treated as a noble sporting spectacle, is now subjected to the same over the top hype that has for years attended boxing matches.

You might expect it from a few pundits who are looking to make their reputation in the ‘shock jock’ field, taking Howard Stern as their guide though if you’re going to go that way, you’d best be able to take it as well as you dish it out. Not all can.

These people can be safely ignored as a sideshow, like a dog that can stand on its hind legs and walk – it doesn’t do it well, but you’re amazed it can do it at all.

What is more disturbing is when more august institutions such as the BBC start buying into this drivel. Last week, prior to the Southampton game against Manchester United, we were treated to ten minutes of debate as to whether or not Louis van Gaal and Ronald Koeman would shake hands, and if so, what degree of warmth it would register on the pleasantry barometer, simply because they didn’t get on too well at Ajax. We were even treated to an interview with a Dutch journalist on the issue, though he seemed to be bewildered by the inane line of questioning.

Robbie Savage has been at it from a different perspective too. Concerned that there’s insufficient blood dripping out of the Premier League to feed the phone-ins and that the division has created a new record for sanity by failing to sack any managers yet, he conjured up the ghost of Tony Pulis – is he Christmas Past, Present or Future? – as hovering above a whole host of managers, ready to scare them out of town.

Then less than a week ago, after Liverpool had bowed out of the Champions League, the phone-ins and the online click baiters were at it again. “Who is to blame?” they bellowed, the subtext of “Please let us have enough responses to help us heap enough pressure on Brendan Rodgers to get him sacked so we’ll have something new to write about.”

You know, it is perfectly possible that nobody is to blame. That over the course of a group section of just six games, other teams were simply better. It may be that luck did not favour them.

It might even be that, at some stage, we’ll recall that given football is essentially a competition. And you know what happens in a competition? Most people lose, often through no fault of their own. That’s the real law of the jungle.

Serie A Prepares For Shorter Winter Break

serieA_172x121By Michael Ottolenghi

The Serie A Christmas break does not mark the half way point of the season. There will still be three games to play in the new year before either Juventus or Roma are crowned campione d’inverno, or “winter champions” a meaningless title perhaps unique to Italy.

But the two week break has traditionally been a point for teams to take stock, adapt to any managerial changes and prepare for the arrival of new  players in the transfer window.

This year’s break starts after this weekend’s round of games and will be shorter than usual, as the Italian Supercoppa, traditionally played in August between the winner of lasts season’s title and the winner of the Coppa Italia, will see Juve face Napoli in Doha on 22 December.  And then Serie A will return immediately, with an unusual round of games played on Tuesday the 6th of January.

But before the players go off and clubs start plotting their transfer strategies, Serie A will exit 2014 with a bang, with a round of games featuring two tasty clashes between teams from Rome and Milan, while Juventus kick things off on Thursday evening with a trip to Cagliari to face Zdenek Zeman’s Cagliari.

There has never been any love lost between Zeman and the bianconeri, as the Czech coach famously voiced his suspicions about the Turin club’s use of drugs in the 1990s. Despite some spectacular results under Zeman (including a famous win at San Siro against Inter), Cagliari are now in freefall and find themselves in the relegation zone, one point from safety.  With nearly a week to prepare for the game, Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri will hope that the trip to Sardinia will end his team’s run of three consecutive draws and set down a marker for Roma before Juve start 2015 against Inter at the Juventus Stadium.

On the Rome-Milan axis, the more interesting of the two games will see Roma face Milan at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.  Having closed the gap at the top of the table to one point following their 1-0 win against Genoa and Juventus’ 1-1 draw with Sampdoria, Roma cannot afford to let Juve distance them again.  So with the break around the corner and the Champions League gone, manager Rudi Garcia is likely to field his strongest side and will no doubt use the speed of Gervinho and Adem Ljajic  to target Milan’s static defense.

Roma’s success may depend on which Milan side turn up, as Filippo Inzaghi’s rossoneri have been plagued by inconsistency this season.  The Milan side that lost drearily to Genoa two weeks ago would likely be overrun by Roma, but the team that produced superb counter-attacking moves to defeat Napoli 2-0 last Sunday may give Roma something to think about. Much will likely depend on the mood of Jeremy Menez, who seems to embody the stereotype of the moody Frenchman. He scored the first goal against Napoli and has 8 in total this season, including some stunning efforts, but he drifts in and out of games and Inzaghi does not have enough other strong players to compensate for the Frenchman’s bad days.

In Milan, form suggests that surging Lazio will continue Inter’s troubled start to life under Roberto Mancini. Lazio are coming off a 3-0 win against Atalanta, their second win in a row after a mini-dip in form in late November.  But even with that dip, Lazio are in third place alongside the teams from Genoa. All the noise about Genoa and Sampdoria has allowed Lazio to be practically under the radar, as new manager Stefano Pioli has revitalised the squad, courtesy notably of the 6 Serie A goals scored by new Serbian striker Filip Djordjevic.

Inter, by contrast, have had a distinctly underwhelming start to life under their new manager. They recorded their first win on Monday night away to Chievo, but even in that 2-0 victory the defense seemed suspect and captain Andrea Ranocchia and co will have their task cut out for them against the marauding Lazio frontline (who have the third best attack in the league).  It promises to be a tasty end to 2014. See you next year for more Serie A action.

Thierry Henry – A Tribute

Thierry Henry. Photo by Jason Joseph

Thierry Henry. Photo by Jason Joseph

Tim Hall’s View From 101

Thierry Henry announced his retirement from football on Tuesday. His list of accomplishments read like something out of a video game, so staggering the breadth as to seem unlikely one player could possibly achieve all of it in one lifetime. 

Just to touch on the major notes: World Cup, European Championship, Confederations Cup, Ligue 1 winner, two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two La Liga crowns, UEFA Champions League, Club World Cup, MLS Supporters Shield, four Premier League Golden Boots, and on and on and on. More awards and trophies than can possibly be listed and still fully appreciated. To read the entire list in one sitting is folly as it eventually just becomes a sea of words and numbers.

And yet they don’t even do the man justice. Henry was one of the last players of the satellite television era where not every game was available all the time and his greatness was something often just whispered about. In this day and age, to hear about a player the brilliance of a Messi or a Ronaldo and not immediately be able to switch the TV to their game or pull up their highlights on Youtube seems like sacrilege, a denial of joy that we will have to explain to our confused, sympathetic and likely aghast children.

Henry of course did play long enough – 20 years – to be a part of the digital age as well, and we as fans were able to see what all the fuss was about, and it was of course well earned. The adjectives we use to describe him are cliché, but for a reason, because our language naturally limits the words we have to describe greatness and beauty so eventually when they are all used up we are forced to stand silently and simply witness what is before our eyes.

Obviously Henry was good, great, among the greatest. Any conversation beyond that is meaningless, because if you want to say that Best or Pele or whoever is better than Henry, that’s a fine argument to have on a barstool, just so long as you realize that the argument is incomplete without mentioning the Frenchman. He is one of that pantheon, floating in the rarest of rarified air.

While he may be universally respected, he was not universally loved, and that duality underlies the qualities that make him among the best. Henry is among the quintessential examples of a player that you adored when he was in your colors and despised as an opponent. Why? Well, it’s because Thierry Henry was not consistent as a player, and here the discussion veers necessarily away from the statistical side and towards the ethereal. While like any player of any caliber, he had his hot streaks and his cold streaks, peaks and valleys, Henry was always consistently good, and always consistently able of getting out of one of those valleys with an individual moment of brilliance at any time.

Henry’s greater “inconsistency” if you will allow the term is that it was never clear which Thierry Henry would show up until the game was well underway. There was the standard model Henry we were treated to most of the time, Stock Henry, a fluid player capable of working as a target striker, winger or central midfielder, brilliant passer and shooter of the ball, capable with both feet and in the air. If this version of Henry was all you ever saw as an opponent, depending on the rest of the team, you were in with a chance of winning and you were lucky.

But there was that other Henry. Upgraded, After-Market Henry. There was never one set of circumstances that seemed to bring this Incredible Hulk version out of Titi Banner. Perhaps the game was more important in the standings, or a trophy was on the line, or it was the local derby, or it was televised to more homes, or he was fouled hard early on, or he simply didn’t like the defender’s haircut. Whatever caused it, Henry had the remarkable ability to elevate his game to 15, and when he did he was untouchable. He seemed to literally grow in size and speed, and that flash in his eyes must have made more than one defender sleep with their lights on.

Henry always knew he was better than you, even on his off days. Some call it cockiness, some call it confidence, both are correct and yet inadequate. But when he was on, when he flipped that switch, it wasn’t enough just for everyone to know he was dominant. He had that rare trait that only the greats have where he wanted to tell his opponent about his greatness, smile that devil’s grin, laugh at how woefully inadequate your attempts to stop him were, and grind his superiority into your face. Take your lunch money, and punch you in the gut for good measure. At his very best, Thierry Henry was a contemptible bully, and at times the only saving grace you could have as a fan was to shrug your shoulders and say “Yeah, but at least he’s our bully.”

It was that killer instinct, that demand of himself and, soccer being a team sport, his teammates that made Thierry Henry both a hero and a villain, a misunderstood genius, a locker room cancer and the consummate leader. It is also the quality that the sport will miss the most now that Henry is moving to punditry. As we scan the landscape, who among the stars has that teeth-on-jugular mindset tempered just so? Not Messi, too shy. Not Ronaldo, too self-absorbed. Not Suarez, too unstable.

Henry was a holdover from another time. Yes, he was glossy. Yes, the advertisements were there globally. But even though he was mindful of his image, he never took it too seriously and could laugh at himself, and above all else it was always substance over style. You never once had the sense, among all those goals, that he had spent a millisecond practicing his goal celebrations, or prioritizing which model to date to get the best press, or anything other than the game, and putting the ball over the line.

With a few possible exceptions: the stories of him staying late on the practice field to work with a young player. The video of him putting an arm around a teammate’s shoulders and explaining some bit of wisdom. The times he grabbed a teammate, got into their face and got them refocused on the challenge ahead, not the yellow card challenge behind.

There is a right way to play. Can we ever say that anyone, 100% of the time, embodies that? No. But if you want to get close, you could do much worse than study Thierry Henry. It has been a pleasure, an honor and a privilege to watch him up close.

A Feast Of Festive Footie For Championship Fans

Reading unveil their new manager, Steve Clarke

Reading unveil their new manager, Steve Clarke

By Paula Marcus

Decorations up, presents wrapped, a warm feeling inside and Premier League managers moaning about the number of games means only one thing; it’s Christmas. The Christmas period offers fans a rare chance to completely overdose on games that come through thick and fast.

While top flight managers whinge about the excessive number of games their players are forced to play, it is very much business as usual in the Championship. So what are the Championship stand out games of this festive season? We have top of the table clashes, local derbies and relegation six-pointers aplenty to distract from awkward family time.

First up over the festive period comes the final game before Christmas and we begin with a bottom of the table fight between Bolton, who are unbeaten in six, and a Millwall side hoping to have turned the corner after a 5-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in their last home game. Friday night Championship games usually come complete with extra atmosphere and Millwall will be desperate to give their home fans something to cheer about.

Saturday features another relegation six pointer as Rotherham travel to Wigan, who are still looking for their first points under Malky Mackay. At the other end of the table, two teams fighting for the automatic promotion places go head to head. Ipswich Town are the lowest scoring side in the playoff places and it will be interesting to see how they fare against a Middlesbrough defence that is the best in the division (and has only let in an impressive 15 goals). Meanwhile Reading FC (now under the management of Steve Clarke) face king of the draws Charlton Athletic, in a game that has 0-0 written all over it.

Whilst Christmas day may be meant for family, Boxing Day means football. With limited travel options, Boxing Day is also a time for fans to enjoy a nice local non-derby game. Unfortunately for Millwall they won the yearly booby prize that involves being one of the teams closest to Norwich that isn’t Ipswich. Their reward is a trip to one of the most inaccessible parts of the country. That said anyone who braves the journey may see an entertaining game. Norwich have been struggling over the last month or so for any kind of consistency while Millwall have played better away from the Den and may be able to grab a point or three.

As Millwall head to East Anglia, Ipswich Town fans will be heading the opposite direction as they face Brentford FC in what is shaping up to be one of the stand out games of the day. The game features not only two playoff contenders, but also two of the form sides in the division. Brentford have surprised many with their rapid rise up the table, largely through a potent attacking threat compensating for a defence that lets in a few goals. Ipswich on the other hand have scored and conceded fewer than the Bees, but they do come complete with 13-goal Daryl Murphy. How Brentford cope with him could define the game.

The late featured game sees two more playoff contenders meet, as Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to Watford. A few weeks ago, both teams seemed to be in prime place to secure at the very least a playoff place, however both have suffered dramatic downturns in form, with Watford losing four in a row and Wolves going one better. With both teams winning their last game, this could be a great advert for Championship football featuring two teams really battling it out.

Other Boxing Day games to watch out for include the duel of the crazy owners (Leeds United v Wigan Athletic) and a South Yorkshire/West Yorkshire Derby (Rotherham United v Huddersfield Town). Neither Rotherham or Huddersfield are on the best run of form, and I predict a scrappy game. That said, Huddersfield’s poor defensive record (only Fulham have conceded more) could give the low scoring Millers a chance to get a goal or two.

Boxing Day also represents the half way point in the season, and the last round of games in 2014 features the quick turnover, where two teams meet for the second time in a month. First up on TV are Nottingham Forest at home to Birmingham City. The sides previously met after Gary Rowett was appointed Blues boss, and a 2-1 win for the home side marked his fifth successive game without defeat. Looking at current form, it’s hard to see a Forest side on decline getting anything from this game.

Another key matchup sees bottom of the table Blackpool face Rotherham at home in a vital game for both sides. Blackpool will be really hoping they can build on their second win of the season and continue their almost impossible task of staying in the division. A 1-1 draw was the score the last time these teams met, and a repeat of that result will be little help to either side.

The final Championship game of 2014 features two teams who have had very different years. Whilst Derby County are no longer top of the table, they have still had a great year and will be really pushing to finish 2014 in one of the automatic promotion places. Leeds United on the other hand have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, largely due to their eccentric owner and his tax/ manager problems. When these two sides faced each other last month, Leeds came away shock winners and Derby will be keen to avoid the double.

With that I would like to wish everyone a happy and football filled Christmas.

Listen to Paula’s latest Championship podcast.paula_02

The 10 Most Common Football Cliches – #9

By Jon Langford

#9 – A game of two halves

Another phrase widely acknowledged to have been coined by Jimmy Greaves. And so far as stating the bleeding obvious goes, football clichés don’t come much more literal than this.

Problems arise with this expression when a game goes into extra time. When this happens football’s no longer a game of two halves (or even four quarters). If we want to get technical about it, a game that goes into extra time is a game of two three eighths and two one eighths. But that doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it?

The 10 Most Common Football Cliches – #10

By Jon Langford

Footballers aren’t exactly known for their oral eloquence. Some prefer to let their football do the talking while others go straight for the clichés. Over the coming days we’ll look at the most common/ridiculous/nonsensical/irritating clichés that get branded about willy-nilly every game day.

#10 – At the end of the day… 

As comedian Michael McIntyre once pointed out, everything happens to footballers at the end of the day, even if they’re talking about something that happened in the morning. “At the end of day, I woke up…”

Coming tomorrow..#9

Europa League Draw

351px-Europa_league.svgEuropa League last 32 draw in full:
Young Boys v Everton
Torino v Athletic Bilbao
Sevilla v Borussia M’gladbach
Wolfsburg v Sporting
Ajax v Legia Warsaw
AaB v Club Brugge
Anderlecht v Dinamo Moscow
Dnipro v Olympiacos
Trabzonspor v Napoli
Guingamp v Dynamo Kiev
Villarreal v SV Red Bull Salzburg
Roma v Feyenoord
PSV v Zenit St Petersburg
Liverpool v Besiktas
Tottenham Hotspur v Fiorentina
Celtic v Inter Milan

Champions League Draw

champions-league-trophyUEFA Champions League Last-16 Draw

February 17 and March 11:

Paris St Germain v Chelsea

Shakhtar Donetsk v Bayern Munich

 

February 18 and March 10:

Schalke v Real Madrid

Basle v Porto

 

February 24 and March 18:

Manchester City v Barcelona

Juventus v Borussia Dortmund

 

February 25 and March 17:

Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid

Arsenal v Monaco