giovedì 27 marzo 2014

Questions on Green

Julian Green’s decision to play for the USA and Jurgen Klinsmann’s move to include him into the USMNT roster for next week’s friendly versus Mexico raised some concerns. It was one of the most coveted and pivotal decision of the Klinsmann era. Barring his technical skills, with Bayern Munich’s manager Pepe Guardiola quoted as saying he can wide and upfront, left and right,” the big question for Klinsmann is if Green presence will have an impact on coach 23-man list, as Green is widely expected to be on German’s final roster. But while Green’s commitment to USA will have effect on field, with Chris Wondolowski, veteran forward Eddie Johnson and Herculez Gomez’s, if he never had one, chances to make the final 23-man roster seriously in jeopardy, the 18-year-old German-American forward arrival could also produce results off field. Will Green’s arrival have a bad effect on team chemistry? From 1990 to 2010 the number of immigrants who contributed to US teams increased. The 1990 USMNT roster were filled of immigrant players. Tony Meola, Paul Caligiuri, Tab Ramos, the captain Mike Windischmann all had a foreign heritage. The 1994 team too had a lot of immigrants in Thomas Dooley, Earnie Stewart, Roy Wegerle, Frank Klopas, Fernando Clavijo, Claudio Reyna and Alexi Lalas. This is normal. Is part of the particular relationship USA have with immigrants and soccer made no exception. It has never been a problem as team spirit and self confidence remained high enough. At least until the infamous 1998 disaster occurred, when the coach Steve Sampson cut John Harkes and filled his void with highly touted David Regis, contributing to rub a troubled locker room. Team’s dressing rooms are difficult to manage but a rule does exist: players can handle egocentric egos or not respected guys as they can demonstrate that they can contribute to that business. The French quickly naturalized American Regis can’t. The team lost all the group games and went three and out. So Green will highly scrutinized outside and inside the team and he will need of a spectacularly good performance to impress his new compatriots and to persuade them he deserves to make the team.

martedì 18 marzo 2014

Andre Villas-Boas get another chance

Former Tottenham and Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas signed a two-year deal as the new coach of Zenit St Petersburg, replacing the axed Luciano Spalletti. He inherit a difficult situation after the turmoil that  surrounded Spalletti's regime. Villas-Boas is known for setting his teams up with a high defensive line, which should allow his team to press further up the pitch. However it can leave his team weak to opposite fast break and it didn't work at Chelsea or with Spurs where he never replied the level of success he enjoyed at Porto as both his English Premier League experiences ended prematurely. He tried to made Tottenham playing deeper this season but after a good 2-2 draw with Manchester United he quickly turned back to his preferred high defensive line strategy with bad results. From isolating Soldado to criticising Tottenham fans, Villas-Boas made a lot of errors this season showing he didn't take advantage of his failure at Stamford Bridge. The task to replace Gareth Bale's impact on his team was never easy. The likes of Erik Lamela, Paulinho and Christian Eriksen excited fans, but struggled to make an impact and AVB struggled to deal with his squad. In taking the Zenit job, Villas-Boas needs to show he can adapt his tactics according to different personnel and opponents. He get Hulk once again and it could help AVB to refresh his career. AVB will have to made Hulk, Konstantin Zyryanov, Roman Shirokov and Danny working in his favoured 4-3-3.

venerdì 14 marzo 2014

Gabriel Paletta, the latest Oriundo

Fans were astonished when Mauro Camoranesi, then Juventus winger, get his first cap for the Italian national team in 2003. But fielding players switching their nationality to play for Italy isn’t a news for the Azzurri. While Ermanno Aebi was the first one and Luisito Orsi became the most famous, the list of Oriundi to play for Italy is very long. An Oriundo is a footballer born and raised overseas but with Italian descent and an Italian heritage, that made him qualified to play for his adopted country. Raimundo Orsi, Omar Sivori and Jose Altafini all played for ther Azzurri and was part of a bunch of players including recent additions such as Mauro Camoranesi, Thiago Motta and Pablo Osvaldo. Often they played for both countries, the old and the new one. So did Monti, who played for Argentina in the 1930 World Cup. José Altafini played in Brazil's first games in the 1958 winning side. Thiago Motta, two appearances for Brazil at the Gold Cup in 2003. Other time, they started their international career immediately with the new country, as Camoranesi or Ezequiel Schelotto. FIGC gave Cesare Prandelli every freedom to pick oriundi for Italy during his regime. And he did it. He brought on Motta, Osvaldo, Cristian Ledesma and Amauri. Neither had a great impact. The argument in support of the utilise of oriundi was that they are part of the 'new Italians' category. Also, utilize an oriundo became easier with first and youth teams loaded with foreign players. Teams like Inter, Napoli, Lazio or Fiorentina usually field 10 or 11 foreign players in their starting line up. With other set to the increase the rank of foreign-born players, starting with Napoli midfielder Jorginho, the latest man to reach the crop of Oriundi is Parma defender Gabriel Paletta. Prandelli thinks Paletta could be a nice addition to a talentless defensive line. Originally signed with Palermo, Paletta switched to Parma after Sicilian side doubted of his knee health. At Tardini, Paletta became one of the best centre-backs in Serie A during the last four seasons. Rarely wasteful in possession, with an average of 85% of pass success, comfortable under pressure, Paletta emerged as one of the revelation of this term. Parma was established as a surprising team mainly thanks to a good defense lead by this centre back who posted 0 defensive errors with an average of 7 defensive actions per game. After this impressive seasons, isn’t surprising that he get the call-up for the friendly game against Spain. He can be lined up as centre-back in a three-man but also in a flat four back line. Paletta became the 42nd Oriundo to play for Italy. The debate about if is correct for Prandelli to select the Oriundi could never be answered. That we know is there is a plethora of South American players with Italian roots ready to contribute. Their call-ups are an evidence of a crisis in Italy about certain roles. This country seems unable to produce some great defenders as Italy did in the past with Franco Baresi and Gaetano Scirea or with Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro  in the recent days. While some switch of allegiance raised eyebrows, as it was for Motta, Ledesma or Amauri, other was less of a surprise. They are not players such as Mario Balotelli, Giuseppe Rossi, Angelo Ogbonna or Stephan El Shaarawy, i.e. players with a foreign heritage but born and raised as Italian in Italy. With Paletta we are talking of players which status as Italians is questionable. They are layers born and raised overseas, never capped by their home country,  to which Italy asked to change nationality in the way to support Prandelli’s team. With a lack of options in some key roles, isn’t strange for Prandelli to pick them. The question is if this lack of options is enough to justify it.

martedì 11 marzo 2014

Chris Powell sacked as manager of Charlton

After they lost five league games of six, being dead at the bottom of the division and out of the FA Cup, Charlton Athletic fired Chris Powell. The firing of their manager was question of time since club's new Belgian owner Roland Duchatelet brought the south Londoners. Powell has been sacked despite leading the club into the Championship and a ninth-place finish last season. Powell's sacking leaves just eight managers of the 92 League clubs with more than three seasons in charge of the same club under their belt. There has been too much disagreements between him and Duchatelet over the control of player recruitment and the strategy to improve the club. There are rumors that Powell’s sacking has a lot to do with the fact he doesn’t lined into his starting XI the players Duchatelet brought in January. In fact, Duchatelet owns a network of football club and it influenced Charlton’s transfer strategy as five of team's six signings in the January window came from other clubs in the owner's pocket and were not suggested by the manager. The club’s owner immediately confirmed the appointment of his compatriot José Riga as Powell's replacement. Riga, a former assistant manager at Standard Liege and currently on the staff at Milan, will be assisted by another Karel Fraeye, head coach of the Belgian club Eendracht Zele. Riga, the new manager, had a gig as scout and analyst for the Belgium national team and also spent week at Real Madrid in November 2011 invited by José Mourinho to study the first-team’s training methods. Riga has also studied the training methods of Gerard Houllier, Eric Gerets and Trond Sollied. He holds a UEFA Pro Licence and teaches coaching courses for the Belgian FA. Whether that will work in the way to avoid a relegation remains to be seen. Riga will have few days to learn about a division he has no previous knowledge. The task to retain Charlton at Championship level will be tough but he probably fit well owner's long-term strategy of the club so this is the main reason about why Riga has taken over at Charlton.

venerdì 7 marzo 2014

The Eddie Johnson - scenario

Eddie Johnson has flourished under Jurgen Klinsmann, but it will be enough to make the World Cup squad? He has been a huge part of World Cup qualifying but there are doubts about he will go to Brazil. Does Jurgen take a fourth forward to Brazil? He has Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan providing enough as offensive threat as they can be lined up front. Jozy Altidore is probably going to be the starter up top with Dempsey and Donovan alongside. Aron Johannsson is an almost sure backup but there are not sure things beyond them. Juan Agudelo and Terrence Boyd both are hard to find their way onto the 23-man World Cup roster while Chris Wondolowski has to prove he can step on the field and score at international-level.So, the option-Johnson remains. The 6-feet, 180 pound Johnson was painted as the American Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a skillful but troubled attacker, not easy to manage. He has a strong personality and a big ego. Johnson wasn’t on the same page as the Sounders last season and was forced out. He criticized coaches, teammates and front-office staff in Seattle, leading to a divorce. He showed on the field his frustration seeking a raise in Seattle where his salary of $150,000 was low compared to his scoring production. Johnson's attitude could obviously be questioned, but he’s a prolific scorer, one of the best USMNT never had. Since debuting in 2004, Johnson scored 19 goals out from 59 caps. His speed would have been a valuable asset this summer. He had a troubled gig in Europe, where he netted just seven goals playing for Fulham, Cardiff, Prestong North End and Aris (Greece). But he’s reborn back in Major League Soccer. Johnson scored 25 goals in two seasons with the Sounders. Johnson was cut from the U.S. team before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. But since Jurgen Klinsmann took over as coach of the USMNT, Johnson has been a fixture in the lineup scoring seven goals in 20 games. There are also concerns as well about his locker room presence but Klinsmann could be able to deal with it for a short period of time and the same forward said he wants “turn the volume way down" during his time with the USMNT. If he will be scoring consistently  this season, write his name off from the World Cup list will be hard.