Sunday, 24 October 2010

"They Will Be Rioting In The Streets of Rotterdam!"

Feyenoord coach Mario Been described Sunday's events in Eindhoven as a "black page in the history of Feyenoord" after they were crushed 10-0 by PSV. Frank Rutten's PSV side put in an explosive performance to extend their lead at the top of the Eredivisie and increase their goal difference to a staggering +27 after just 10 league matches.

After holding out for 22 minutes, PSV's talented wide-man Jonathan Reis cut in from the right and fired in a stunning left-foot shot which nestled into the corner of the net. Feyenoord full-back Kevin Leerdam was shown a red-card on 34 minutes and the home side doubled their advantage just four minutes later when Afellay's shot was turned into his own net by 18-year-old Bruno Martins Indi who came on as a substitute just a few minutes before.

Jonathan Reis headed home his second on 47 minutes which was the catalyst for an awful second-half capitulation from Feyenoord. Talented Swedish striker Ola Toivonen nodded home the fourth just two mintues later from another Afellay cross. Jeremain Lens added the fifth goal on 52 minutes and PSV Skipper Ibrahim Afellay created another goal just before the hour-mark when he supplied a neat pass to Jonathan Reis who netted his hat-trick.

Six was made seven on 62 minutes when Hungarian winger Balázs Dzsudzsák fired in a thunderous left-foot strike from 25 yards which left the Feyenoord keeper helpless. It was made 8-0 on 69 minutes when Engelaar headed home from a corner kick at the near post and Dzsudzsák made it nine from the penalty spot. Jeremain Lens pounced on poor defending at the back-post to score the tenth goal of the afternoon in what was a memorable performance from PSV.

Coach Mario Been was unsurprisingly hurt by the defeat and said: "Here is a coach who is very ashamed. It is scandalous how we defended. We just lost 10-0. This pain is enormous, not only as a club coach but also as a supporter. This is a huge black page in the history of Feyenoord and that gives me tremendous pain."

It's a shocking state of affairs for, historically, one of Holland's major clubs. From a 41-year-old goalkeeper and 6 players being under the age of 20, it is clear that Feyenoord are no longer a title-challenging club and the balance of power has shifted rapidly in recent years with FC Twente and AZ Alkmaar claiming recent successes. Granted, it does not help when Jon Dahl Tomasson and Skipper Ron Vlaar are missing from the side. But it does not excuse a shocking result at PSV which leaves De club aan de Maas on just 8 points.

Tonight's journey back to Rotterdam certainly will not be an enjoyable one and their demanding fans will be asking a few questions of the manager and directors.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Legends Hagi and Tugay Gear Up For Heated Intro

In the week leading up to Turkey's fiery Istanbul derby, Galatasaray president Adnan Polat found himself hunting a new manager after terminating the contract of under-fire Dutchman Frank Rijkaard who orchestrated a less than impressive start to the season. Polat turned to two familiar faces in Romanian legend Gheorghe Hagi, voted the greatest ever foreign player for Galatasaray, and ex-player Tugay Kermioglu to turn around the club's dire domestic fortunes.

Rijkaard's stuttering start in the Galatasaray hot seat has left Cim Bom in 9th position with just 4 wins from 8 games and left the Galatasaray President no choice but terminate his contract after over a year in the position.

Just 48 hours before the crunch derby which brings Istanbul to a stand-still, the legendary Romanian Gheorghe Hagi signed a 2-and-a-half year deal with the club he made 150 appearances for. It's a sensible approach considering Hagi played in a number of Istanbul derbies over 5 years and that he has already managed the club in 2004-2005 in which he led Cim Bom to the Turkish Cup with a stunning 5-1 win over Fenerbahce.

Hagi, who also had spells at Barcelona and Real Madrid, was introduced to the media on Friday and said: “Galatasaray’s philosophy is always about winning. So, when Galatasaray is playing against Fenerbahçe, it will play for nothing less than a win. That is what Galatasaray’s history and Galatasaray’s philosophy is all about.” His appointment gives him just 2 days to prepare for Cim Bom's trip to Fenerbahce - a venue they have not won in since 2000.

The new coach also added: "I know a lot of problems here. My philosophy is straight forward. It is a collective good will try to create harmony. The players confidence is endless. But they always want to play for the team. A true team, the team exits the field, will play the champion. Organized, disciplined, I want to build a team. I want to set up a number of field work in the best way. All you have to go to win the match. I always believe that we will be successful together."

Hagi and Tugay's appointment might just galvanise Cim Bom against a Fenerbahce side who have not been doing too well themselves. Both Istanbul sides saw early European elimination and Fenerbahce are in 4th with just 5 wins from 8 games but the tightness and unpredictability of the Turkish SuperLig sees Trabzonspor - one of the 4 SuperLig winners in history, Kayserispor - led by Shota Arveladze and reigning Turkish champions Bursaspor leading the way on 17 points with the 'Yellow Canaries' a point behind.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Hungary Eager To Re-Join Elite

When you think of Hungarian football, the great Ferenc Puskas comes to mind and probably their hammering of England at Wembley as the 'golden-team' went a world record 32 games unbeaten at International level.

On the road to Euro 2012, Hungary have racked up an impressive 9 points from 4 games in a group alongside Holland and Sweden. Head Coach Sándor Egervári has led Hungary to an excellent start to the campaign and the Hungarian FA's long-term vision is reaping its rewards.

From the most recent squad which played San Marino and Finland, 7 of the 21-man squad still play in the Hungarian League and have held their own amongst players from England, Germany, Italy and Spain. With a wealth of younger players, there is a sprinkling of real international experience which has blended into an ideal mix that will lock horns with Holland in the next set of fixtures.

Goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly(1860 Munchen) has notched up 78 caps, their central-defensive pairing of Roland Juhasz(Anderlecht) and Vilmos Vanczak(Sion) have a combined total of 109 caps and both are just 27 years of age. Captain Zoltan Gera is the Hungarian's household name and at 31 years of age has 68 caps and 19 goals. Two of Hungary's other midfielders, Krisztián Vadócz(Osasuna) and Balázs Dzsudzsák(PSV), both have over 30 caps each. Tamas Priskin of Watford has 29 caps and Gergely Rudolf of Genoa has 16 caps.

In total, the spine of the Hungarian side has over 300 International caps.

Not one player in the rest of the squad reaches 30 years of age. Here is a quick list of the players and ages from the team which beat San Marino 8-0, outwith the central spine:

Left back - Zsolt Laczkó(Debrecen) - Aged 23
Right back - Krisztián Vermes(Ujpest) - Aged 25 - Made debut at 19
Midfielder - Ákos Elek(Videoton) - Aged 22
Right Midfielder - Vladimir Koman(Sampdoria) - Aged 21
Left Midfielder - Balázs Dzsudzsák(PSV) - Aged 23 - Made debut at 19
Strikers - Gergely Rudolf(Genoa) & Ádám Szalai(Mainz) - Ages 25 & 22

The Hungarians have reached a major finals since 1986 but have an impressive record at Youth level which has seen them qualify for a number of competitions. Other recent capped players include another 5 that fall under 25 years of age and another 7 players that have over 20 International Caps.

After 24 years of failure, Euro 2012 might just appear to be in reach of Hungary who have been starved of proper football since 'the mighty magyars' back in the 1950s in which Ferenc Puskas shone on the world stage.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Scotland Can Shove Euro 2012 After 4-6-0 Horror

We are well accustomed to Scottish sides shutting up shop when it comes to European or International football and their formations would usually be a 4-5-1, or the 5-4-1 successfully employed by Walter Smith so far, but nobody expected a 4-6-0 to be rolled out when the Scottish national side went to the Czech Republic on Friday.

I'm not sure what Levein was planning with such a formation. Lithuania went to the Prague and won 1-0 on the same night we toiled against Leichenstein. The defence picked itself from the previous games but the decisions afterwards were quite frankly baffling. Jamie Mackie, the in-form QPR striker, made his international debut for Scotland on the right-side of a 6 in midfield with Fletcher, Caldwell, Naismith, Morrison and Dorrans alongside him.

It was fairly obvious in the first 10-20 minutes that Scotland were taking nothing from this game. There were several occasions when the ball was punted forward by McManus or Weir and there would not be one Scottish player in the opposing half. Quite simply, it was a line of 6 and a line of 4 trying to block out any Czech attacks - and unsurprisingly, the Czechs struggled to breakthrough with what they had which is not a patch on previous international squads.

Levein defended his tactics afterwards: "It's difficult to say it worked as planned because we didn't get something from the match, But I am happy that the players for long spells in the game did exactly what I was looking for. The fact we lost a goal is a huge disappointment. But I would not ever rule out any system. It's about selecting the best system to win a match."

"I have no regrets about the way we went about it at all,"

"When the game opened up the Czechs were far more dangerous. That system was the best way to contain the opposition. We didn't contain them at one set-piece and it cost us. But I thought the game plan was good in general. It was good to see the players follow instructions. They did everything they could."

Levein has made it clear that he, apparently, had been watching the Czechs for some time. In their last qualifier, Lithuania went to Prague and won 1-0. In March, we actually beat them 1-0 in Levein's first game and before that they had lost to Azerbaijan and the United Arab Emirates. Results would show, apart from a stunning 4-1 home win over Latvia, that the Czechs are an average side and were clearly there for the taking.

As for other baffling decisions, how Darren Fletcher remained on the pitch for 90 minutes is quite hilarious. Fletcher has not turned up for Scotland in a long time so you could easily argue that he should not have been anywhere near the starting 11. His night, and Scotland career, was summed up towards the end when he was in acres of space on the right-side and just had to put in a simple cross but somehow hit the Czech player 10 yards away with no pressure on him at all. Such an over-rated footballer.

As for Gary Caldwell, playing his first game of the season in central midfield was quite embarrassing.

And then Kenny Miller on the bench? - Laughable.

Levein got exactly what he deserved last night. I'm not going to start this 'anti-football' nonsense but any team playing 4-6-0 against the Czech Republic deserve to be absolutely hammered. Levein's farcical tactics and our lack of ambition and technical ability was shown up yet again - but people still think it's okay and we should get behind the team?