Author Archives: mirsinho

Leicester Still Keen on Juventus’ Merih Demiral With Foxes Unlikely to Sign Ryan Bennett Permanently

​Leicester City remain keen on signing Juventus defender Merih Demiral, with Ryan Bennett ‘not expected’ to make his loan move to the King Power Stadium permanent. 

Bennett joined the Foxes on deadline day in the January transfer window on a short-term loan deal from Wolves to provide cover for first choice defensive pairing Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans. However, since his arrival, he has failed to make a single appearance for the Foxes. 

Ryan Bennett

​The Leicester Mercury now report that Bennett was brought in so that Filip Benkovic could leave on loan. And at this moment in time, it is not expected that Leicester will take up their chance to sign Bennett on a permanent basis. 

Instead, the Foxes will be in the market (whenever it opens) for a younger central defender to challenge Soyuncu for a starting spot. And the report claims that ​Juventus centre-back Demiral is ‘definitely’ on a shortlist of targets.

​Leicester’s interest in Demiral isn’t new. The Foxes were keen on his services before the January transfer window and although they saw ​two sizeable bids rejected by the Serie A outfit, they were still keen on pursuing a deal. As for the player, he was ​said to be ‘excited’ by the prospect of making the switch. However, ultimately, a deal failed to materialise and Demiral stayed put. 

Merih Demiral

The 22-year-old had struggled for minutes under Maurizio Sarri at Juventus in the first half of this season. But he forced his way into the side in the middle of December, and went on to start four league games in a row before suffering a serious knee injury.

As a result, the Mercury do claim that this could impact any potential deal. 

Elsewhere, the report adds that there are alternatives. The Foxes enquired about both ​Burnley’s James Tarkowski and Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake after Harry Maguire left to join ​Manchester United, but they both proved to be too expensive. However, should Bournemouth be relegated, Ake’s price could drop.  

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Chris Deeley’s Draft XI: FK Cheboslovakia and the Glory of Beautiful Failure

​So this is how it ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. The sound a kicked dog makes when it sees its owner load up another rib-tickler. A third-placed finish, in a tournament of seven. 

The team was good. The fundamentals were solid. The defence? Simultaneously solid and exciting. The midfield? Silky, and strong. The forwards? Lights out, forget about it. 

But I forgot about one thing. One small, simple, stupid mistake. The voting public don’t care about any of that, or that your left-winger was born in a town called Cheb. They care about players they’ve seen play live in the last 15 years. Idiot. 

Without further ado: FK Cheboslovakia.


Goalkeeper and Defenders

Lev Yashin,Jimmy Greaves

Lev Yashin (GK): FIFA’s best goalkeeper of the 21st century? A man who’s meant to have saved about 150 penalties? European and Olympic champion? The man who leapt into the third person to say: “There have only been two world-class goalkeepers. One was Lev Yashin, the other was the German boy who played for Manchester City”? Available with the last pick of the tenth round? On. The. Plane. 

Pros: Arguably the best goalkeeper who ever lived. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.

Lilian Thuram (RB): Ah, look. I love Dani Alves as much as the next man. More, probably. Carlos Alberto? Staggeringly good. But with Roberto Carlos already flying down the left, it was time for somebody a little more…cultured. 

Pros: Impossible to beat at the back, underrated going forward. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.

Daniel Passarella (CB): Need a goalscoring defender but have to watch as Ronald Koeman gets picked just before you have the chance? No worries, Daniel ‘134 goals in 451 games’ Passarella’s still on the board. And he’s one of the hardest men ever to play the game. And he captained Argentina to their World Cup win in 1978.

Pros: Goals from the back, terrifying. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.

Roberto Baggio of Juventus and Franco Baresi of AC Milan

Franco Baresi (CB): Do you know how good you have to be for AC Milan to retire your shirt number? It has literally only happened for Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini. Baresi’s one of the two or three best defenders of all time, at any club, anywhere across the back line. Picking him 14th overall was an absolute steal. 

Pros: Literally just amazing at football. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.

Roberto Carlos (LB): Yeah, making Roberto Carlos my fifth pick felt weird. Not that he wasn’t amazing with his thighs the size of the average person’s torso, his marauding runs and all that, but he was still the kind of full-back who only arrives into his own box to ask what happened. On the other hand, sweet jesus there aren’t many all-time left-backs. Had to get the position nailed down. 

Pros: Massive quads. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.


Midfielders

Diego Maradona

Lothar Matthaus (CM): Diego Maradona called him the ‘best rival I ever had’. Really not sure anything needs to be added to that. 

Pros: Positionally aware, hard tackler. Cons: Spaceship ego, not born in the town of Cheb.

Marco Tardelli (CM): Another talented two-way player, Tardelli could play just about anywhere in any midfield setup – good on the ball but also absolutely terrifying off it. As the last man picked on this team, The Times’ tenth hardest footballer ever has a point to prove. 

Pros: Best celebration of all time. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.

Diego Maradona (AM): First overall pick, because he’s the best player of all time. 

Pros: The best player of all time. Cons: People actually drug test now, not born in the town of Cheb.


Forwards

Juventus Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved s

Jairzinho (RW): A tactical error, but not in terms of how good this team would actually be. Picking him when Luis Figo, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham were still on the board was the right choice for the team (the man scored in all seven of Brazil’s games when they won the 1970 World Cup) but the wrong choice for the braying sentient scrotums on Twitter, who were doing the voting. 

Pros: Fantastic body, great goalscorer from the wing. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.

Pavel Nedved (LW): Nedved. Pick 43 in the draft, my seventh player off the board. Sergio Ramos was still there, so were Clarence Seedorf, Thierry Henry, Marco van Basten and Bobby Moore. But none of those players matter, because Pavel Nedved was born in the picturesque town of Cheb in Czechoslovakia, and they weren’t. 

Pros: Born in the town of Cheb. Cons: Alright, Ferenc Puskas played inside left and was definitely a better player. And didn’t get picked. By anyone. 

Franco Baresi,Roberto Mussi

Romario (ST): Throw a dart, hit an amazing Brazilian forward. But Romario scored more goals in official matches than Pele. Diego Maradona called him one of the two best players he ever saw. Johan Cruyff called him the best player he ever coached. He was ice cold, hated training and partied like an absolute animal. 

Pros: Maybe the best finisher of all time, shagger, legend. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.

Chris Deeley (Manager): Got lumbered with this one, really. Couldn’t do anything about it. 

Pros: Great selfie game, good with jokes. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb. 


For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!


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On This Day in Football History – April 6: Messi Destroys Arsenal, Real Madrid’s Struggles & More

Anyone remember what football is? 

If you need a refresher, looking back at what April 6 has offered us in the past is a good place to start. We’ve had goals, drama and one team who are seemingly cursed by the date. There’s something for everyone.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and remember some of the best moments on April 6 in history.


1988 – PSV Snatch Draw With Real Madrid


April 6 has not been kind to ​Real Madrid. Starting back in 1988, they were held to a 1-1 draw by Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of their 1987/88 European Cup semi-final.

The two sides played out a 0-0 in the return fixture which saw PSV advance on away goals, and the Dutch side went on to beat Benfica on penalties in the final.


1994 – Kanu Struts His Stuff for Ajax


Ajax dismantled NAC Breda to pick up a 5-0 win in 1994, and Nwankwo Kanu stole the show with this stunning moment of brilliance to bag his side’s fourth goal.

A brief spell with ​Inter soon followed for Kanu, before the Nigerian headed to ​Arsenal to establish himself as a ​Premier League icon.


1997 – Juventus Tear AC Milan Apart


​Juventus rocked up to San Siro to meet ​AC Milan in 1997, but nobody saw the result coming. I Bianconeri were obviously good, but they stunned the world by picking up a 6-1 win.

Zinedine Zidane, Lorenzo Amoruso, Christian Vieri and Vladimir Jugović all got themselves on the score sheet, dancing through Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi with terrifying ease.


2004 – Wayne Bridge Steers Chelsea to Champions League Semi-Final

Late in the second leg of ​Chelsea’s ​Champions League quarter-final with Arsenal in 2004, the two sides were tied at 2-2 on aggregate and on track for extra time. Enter Wayne Bridge.

The left-back flew forward and fired past Jens Lehmann with just three minutes remaining, sending the Blues through and ending a streak of 17 consecutive games without a win against Arsenal.


2004 – Fernando Morientes Knocks Out Real Madrid

Back with Real again. This time, they ended up crashing out of Europe at the hands of Monaco, who were buoyed by the goals of Fernando Morientes. The most painful thing? The Spaniard was on loan from Los Blancos.

Real were confident after a 4-2 win in the first leg (in which Morientes scored as well), but they collapsed in the return fixture and fell to a 3-1 loss. 


2005 – Frank Lampard Scores Favourite European Goal

Chelsea romped to a 4-2 win over ​Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final in 2005, in which Frank Lampard netted a beautiful volley which he would later describe as his favourite European goal ever.

​The game also saw Bastian Schweinsteiger net his first goal in the competition, and he was also the first German to ever score a Champions League goal at Stamford Bridge.


2010 – Lionel Messi Knocks Arsenal for 4


Here we go. This is the highlight on this day in football history, and of course it was going to be ​Lionel Messi who provided it.

In what was one of the most dominant individual performances of all time, the Argentine bagged four goals in a 4-1 win over Arsenal, including perfecting the impressive ‘one-two with an opposition defender’ skill.


2013 – Cesc Fàbregas Scores First Career Hat Trick

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fàbregas is known for creating goals, not scoring them, but that didn’t stop him from stealing the show in a 5-0 win over Real Mallorca in 2013.

The Spaniard bagged the first hat trick of his career to move ​Barcelona one step closer to the league title, and he even chimed in with two assists for good measure.​


2013 – Eric Abidal Returns From Cancer Battle

Eric Abidal,Gerard Pique

Fàbregas’ goals were good, but they meant nothing on that day. The only thing anyone cared about was seeing club legend Eric Abidal back on the pitch after winning his battle against liver cancer.

He had missed over a year and was unsure whether he would ever be able to play football again, so fans were on their feet to celebrate his return to the game.


2013 – Matt Lowton Scores a Screamer


​The best worldies are those which you simply don’t see coming, and that’s what made Matt Lowton’s strike against ​Stoke City in 2013 so great.

The then-​Aston Villa man chested the ball and unleashed a crashing volley which flew into the top corner. You won’t see many better than that.


2016 – Real Madrid Fall to Wolfsburg


Where better to end than with Real struggling again? This time, it was Wolfsburg who put them to the sword, storming to a hugely surprising 2-0 win in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

This time, Real did come back and win 3-0 in the return fixture, but that’s not the point. April 6 is not a good day for Los Blancos.​


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Valencia Star Tipped to Replace Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi at Juventus

​Juventus forwards Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi could be on their way out of Turin to make room for Valencia star Ferran Torres, with the Spanish youngster said to be high up on the Bianconeri’s wishlist.

Inheriting the current squad, former Napoli and Chelsea boss Marurizio Sarri has been on the lookout for players to fit his 4-3-3 ‘Sarriball’ style of play, with a helping hand from chief football officer Fabio Paratici. 

Douglas Costa,Federico Bernardeschi

Trying to fit in all the big names – ​Cristiano Ronaldo, ​Paulo Dybala and ​Gonzalo Higuain among others – into the starting XI has proved a difficult task for Sarri, while the club’s wingers have struggled; possibly as a result.

Costa should be in his footballing prime at 29 years old, but the bosses of Turin feel that the Brazilian international is too injury-prone and not consistent enough. 

Italy international Bernardeschi is in a similar situation, having been bought for £35m on a five-year deal back in 2017. The general consensus at Juventus is that, flashes of genuine quality aside, there has been little improvement in performances over the last three years. 

Federico Bernardeschi

In the January transfer window, Juve failed to flog Bernardeschi to ​Barcelona while a part-exchange offer from​ AC Milan – including Lucas Paqueta – was turned down rather quickly. If it wasn’t clear that Juve only want money towards their hunt for a replacement winger, a part-exchange deal for Costa from ​Bayern Munich was also rejected in January. 

Torres has turned down two contract extensions at Valencia so far as Juventus and Barcelona look to get their man – and he’s unlikely to be bought for his full release clause of €100m, with just over a year left on his contract.

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7 of the Best Players to Have Become Terrible Managers

Football is a sport where certain fads and trends suddenly appear in the public consciousness before fading out of the spotlight for the next vapour rub or nose strips to come along. 

The last few seasons have seen clubs, often when scrambling around for a replacement on short notice, turn to former ‘legends’ of the game as their new manager. 

However, unlike snoods, this idea that former greats will be able to replicate their success on the field from the technical area has been going on for decades, but recently a slew of clubs have turned to those who ‘know the club’ in quick succession. 

Yet, it’s by no means a foregone conclusion that these brilliant players become successful managers, in fact, often it’s quite the opposite. So, let’s take a look at some the game’s greats who haven’t quite made the transition smoothly.


Pippo Inzaghi

Filippo Inzaghi

Inzaghi may have lacked some of the technical qualities most professionals take for granted, but the Italian striker had an innate ability to score goals. Whether they flew in off his knee while he was looking the other way or cannoned in off his backside, Inzaghi, more often than not, found the back of the net. 

Unfortunately, that goalscoring touch didn’t exactly translate to his last managerial stint in ​Serie A

After 21 games of the 2018/19 season Bologna parted ways with Inzaghi as the club sat in the relegation zone. They had scored just 16 goals and picked up 14 points. The incoming Siniša Mihajlović saved them from the drop as they netted 32 in their final 17 games. 

It would be unfair to brand Inzaghi a terrible manager solely for his performance at Bologna and while he has had success with clubs in the lower leagues, it seems that his six months in Emilia-Romagna prove you can’t teach a player to be in the right place at the right time. Or, at least, Inzaghi couldn’t. 


Jürgen Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann

As a World Cup and European Championship winner, not to mention runner-up in the 1995 Ballon d’Or, Jürgen Klinsmann’s status as a great player isn’t in doubt. 

How he’ll be remembered as a manager is less clear cut. 

Admittedly, he led Germany to a third-placed finish at the 2006 World Cup but the influence of his assistant Joachim Löw (who would win the trophy eight years later as the main man) in that run casts some doubt over Klinsmann’s importance. 

He didn’t last a full season at ​Bayern Munich as the club finished third in 2009, with captain Philip Lahm brandishing Klinsmann’s time in Bavaria a ‘failure’ and revealing the players had to have additional tactical meetings in the coach’s absence. 

Then, after ten games (which brought three wins) in charge of Hertha BSC in 2019/20, Klinsmann spent almost £70m in the January transfer window before surprising everyone (including the club’s board) by resigning via Facebook Live. Quite the managerial CV. 


Thierry Henry


As a player, Thierry Henry charmed England with his elegance on the pitch, gliding across the grass with ease as he went some way to defining the modern forward. 

However, his time has a manager has been anything but easy. During his three months at Monaco, Henry oversaw just four victories in 20 games, with two of those coming in cup competitions they subsequently exited. 

But his managerial spell in the principality will be remembered most for the scolding he gave Benoît Badiashile when the 17-year-old forgot to tuck in his chair. 

From the toast of the ​Premier League who could actually pull off a catchphrase as laughable as ‘va va voom’ to the role of a pernickety teacher, this is what management can do to the game’s greats.


Gary Neville

Gary Neville

While Gary Neville himself will be the first to admit he perhaps wasn’t the nation’s most technically gifted player in his prime, eight Premier League trophies, three FA Cups and two Champions Leagues are nothing to be sniffed at. 

After four successful years as a TV pundit Neville swapped the studio for the dugout when he joined his brother Phil to become manager of Valencia in December 2015. 

This surreal move soon turned into a nightmare and after four months at the Mestalla, Neville parted ways with Valencia before returning to punditry. 

The former England international managed three wins in 16 league games and while the Copa del Rey had acted as some light relief, Barcelona soon made sure Valencia’s cup run was swiftly ended with a 7-0 rout in the stadium Neville had completed the 1999 treble with ​Manchester United. 


Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Tony Adams was one of the greatest captains ​Arsenal have ever had and the skipper who led England to the semi-final of the 1996 Euros, the furthest the country has ever gone at any major tournament since 1966. 

Adams couldn’t replicate the leadership he possessed wearing the captain’s armband from the touchline. His year at Wycombe Wanderers saw them relegated to the fourth tier, but was arguably his most successful managerial spell. 

He won four of 22 matches at Portsmouth and despite taking them over in seventh place, he was sacked with the club a single point above the drop. 

His final managerial spell came at the helm of Granada, when Adams took over the ​La Liga side on the brink of relegation with seven games to go. He lost all seven by an aggregate margin of 17-3 and against Real Madrid, Isco was caught likening the Premier League winner to a waiter whilst chuckling on the bench. 


Bobby Charlton

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-EVERTON

One of the greatest players to have turned out for Manchester United or England, Bobby Charlton defined his era as one of the game’s greatest goalscoring midfielders (fittingly his first two goals for United came against Charlton Athletic). 

After two decades at Old Trafford ​Charlton left to become manager of Preston North End in the second tier. His single season at the helm saw the club relegated, the same year Manchester United would drop a division and his brother Jack would get promoted as manager of Middlesbrough. 


Diego Maradona

FBL-ARGENTINA-SUPERLIGA-BOCA-GIMNASIA

There is perhaps no greater example of a someone doing the best to ruin their extraordinary legacy as player with their managerial career. 

Arguably the ​greatest the game has ever seen, Maradona’s itinerant career after football has taken him from Mexico to Saudi Arabia, although he seemed to have found his ideal position as chairman of Belarusian club Dynamo Brest. 

His time as Argentina’s national manager saw them qualify for the 2010 World Cup (just) with an unbelievable squad including the likes of a 22-year-old ​Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero. 

Yet, they flattered to deceive and, after training had been moved to midday to accommodate Maradona’s nightlife, crashed out of the quarter-finals following a 4-0 battering from Germany. 

A recent stint at Argentinian club side Gimnasia de La Plata saw them assigned to relegation and when football eventually returns, the Maradona roadshow will undoubtedly take the former great to another corner of the globe.


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