Saturday, 20 February 2010

Are Wolves going "Back, To The Future?"

Mick McCarthy shows his shock at finding out Wolves have been fined for fielding an understrength team.

Luckily he, just jumped into the delorean, sped the flux capictor up to 88mph and jumped back and changed his team selection.

Well done Doc, erm I mean Mick.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Soccer Savvy- Rob McCourt

We are proud and delighted to welcome Monmouth Men's Head Coach to TrickyLeftWinger for our second Soccer Savvy Interview.
Coach McCourt took the time out after his most successful season with his Monmouth program to answer some questions.

TLW-Now that your season has ended, how pleased are you with the season, what was your personal highlight, and what next for Monmouth?

Finally getting to look back I have to be proud.  Proud, yet disappointed.  Losing to Harvard was tough.  Having played 4 games in 8 days compared to their 2 was always going to be difficult.  When you look back though...National ranked for 11 straight weeks, conference regular season for 5th straight time, and conference tourney.... wow.  Truly amazing.  When I got the job people always asked if we were D3.  Final regular season ranked #5.  Makes you keep it in perspective.
Personally the atmosphere at the NEC final and the UConn game were particularly gratifying moments for me and the program.  It is scary to think the crowds we could get if we had lights.  Next for MU is hopefully more championships and an extended run in NCAA's. 

TLW-Which seniors this year will be the one to look for in the pros? Or which young Americans oversees do you see becoming the next stars of the U.S national team?

There is no real marquee name player in college soccer this year.  Personally I'd like to see Big Boz (Monmouth Captain Dan Bostock) get a shot.  Young players overseas...Michael Bradley is young and playing regularly.  It is important that players get games when they sign for overseas clubs.  He is performing well on a regular basis in the Bundesliga. 

TLW-Do you think college coaches have to be 'smarter' than pro coaches (pro coaches pick a team, you guys have to deal with all of the rules of NCAA, eligibility, clearinghouse, academics), and do you think that as an extension of this, this is why foreign coaches fail in the MLS, they just don't know how to work with all the rules?

Smarter is a tough adjective.  Most successful MLS coaches from USA have been college coaches.  The amount of paperwork we do as college coaches is ridiculous.  In general understanding the psyche of the American player is the most important part of the job at both levels.  MLS like college has some awkward rules.  Like the rest of the world.... recognizing talent is not so difficult.  It’s the managing of that talent and the psychological aspect of the game that makes coaches successful. 

TLW-What do you think could improve collegiate soccer, if you had the ability to bring in 3 rules tomorrow, what would they be?

Going to Fifa rules on substitutions or closer to FIFA rules.  Too many college coaches take short cuts and manipulate the game due to the substitution rules.  The number of games needs to be spread out.  Every game can make or break your season.  Success or failure often at times depends upon the mentality of a 17-22 year old and their ability to give 100 percent in 18 cup finals in 2 months.  More points for away wins.  Bigger conference teams rarely play away in non-conference matches.  Incentives need to be put in place for teams to travel and win games on the road. 

TLW-I know you have coached all over the world with select and National teams and the US compete with the best of the best at youth level, what is the problem that hinders the players from taking 'the next step'? Is it college? Is it a lack of Professional exposure at a young age? Is it the MLS?

College for some hinders progression, but can help late bloomers.  I feel that there are not enough quality games that have ramifications.  Meaning there are too many games that equal playing time happens because kids pay to play.  There are also too many games that do not matter.  Each loss can be met with.... Ah well I have another game tomorrow or next week.  No matter what age kids need high level games that matter.... if you lose there are ramifications. 

TLS-What has been your proudest moment in soccer, as a player and as a coach?

As a player......hmm hard to say.  Last year I slipped some guy a meg in a over 30 league and hit a bomb upper 90 from 30.  Being 20 lbs overweight...cant think of a better moment. 

As a coach...any time you win a trophy it’s a big moment.  I have been fortunate enough to win quite a one seems more important than the other. 

 TLW-I know you admire Alex Ferguson, any other managers or teams that you try to emulate?

Sir Alex, Jose, Guus all come to mind.  Jock Stein from older days.  I have a particular place in my heart for David Moyes as he always seems to do more with less...I feel like at my level I have a lot of the same obstacles and experiences.

TLW-Messi or Ronaldo? Gimme your top 5 All Time

Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo of Brazil Ronaldinho (before night clubs ruined him) and CR7

 TLW-Best player you have coached? Best player you have played with? 

I played with Paul Mariner...he was a madman.  Harksey (Former U.S Captain and close friend of McCourt, John Harkes) was tireless 18 to 18.  Tab Ramos may have been most gifted though.  In coaching I have coaches Freddy Adu, Eddie Gavin and a bunch others in the league.  They were all young at the time. 

*Since this interview took place Coach McCourt has turned down job offers from several programs in order to complete the project he started at Monmouth.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Best Player of the Naughties

From 2000-2010 who has been your favorite player?

For me it is a tough call, Giggs for consistency, Ronaldhino for flair, Henry for trophies won (Henry has won at international level unlike Giggs)? The list goes on and on. I want to know who you think has been the stand out player of the previous decade. Let me know and let me know your reasons for thinking that. It may be a goal, a turn, he may have fixed your flat tire at 2am, who knows? If you want to, include a clip.

Look forward to seeing your results.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Weekend Review (ish)

Liverpool v Everton

 I set my alarm for 7:30 am on Saturday to get up to watch the Merseyside derby. I wish I hadn't. It was a very poor derby game settled by Kuyt's flick from Gerrard's well-whipped corner. People may blame Howard but to defend a cross like that is almost impossible. I think that most people's gripe would be that Howard should be throwing his weight around more in the 6 yard box and not letting Kuyt get his feet planted in front of him.

Derby games are not known for their flowing football, more blood and snotters, than tricks and nutmegs. The tone was set for this by Carragher's thumping tackle on Pienaar, which rocked not only the South African but got the stadium cranked up another notch. And that was as good as the game got. Rash tackles and no composure.

If Phil Neville hit one more diagonal ball from the right back position I'm sure Roy Castle and Magnus Magnusson, would have stopped the game to present him with a 'Record Breakers' award from beyond the grave. It was shocking.

Landon Donovan again showed that question will always remain about his appetite for physical encounters; he was a non-factor in the game. Another disappointing performer was Steven Gerrard, who must be having his worse season in recent memory. Yes, his quality showed at the corner, but his tackle on Pienaar showed that ugly side of him. Again.

Felliani was lucky to stay on, as were a host of players, Mascherano, Gerrard, Pienaar (before he walked) and Anichebe. It was just a throw back to times when people kicked lumps out of each other, and got up and got on with it. Which in all honesty, I'm not too sure how I feel about that. It was refreshing to see full-blooded tackles, but it took away from the creative aspect of the game.

I think that Moyes hit the nail on the head when he stated that he didn't think Everton deserved to lose the game, but they also didn't deserve to win it either.


Chelsea vArsenal

OK here goes, Chelsea win comfortably probably ending Arsenal's chance at the title. Real story. Wait I need to clear my throat for this.

*Switching 1000 megaphone on


We know you can play cute little one-twos, we know that if the Premiership title was handed out for best 5 v 2 team, you would win every time. BUT IT IS NOT. Arsene, please for the love of god, take you players this week and make them train on a pitch that is 500 yards long and 250 wide. And make the kick the ball, hard. Very, very hard. Perhaps very, very, very hard in the direction of the goal. Anyone who passes it less than 25 yards, or does not shoot on sight of goal gets electrocuted, or worse shoved into a closet with Susan Boyle.

 I don't care for either team, but Nasri yesterday had me screaming "FUCKING SHOOOOOOOOT" I can only imagine the pain that Arsenal fans must be feeling. Two TOOTHLESS displays against their most bitter of rivals (Spurs excluded) have seen them limp out of the title race with their tale between their legs. Unless a miracle resurgence or Man Utd and Chelsea do a 'no after you, no no no, after you" job, that allows Arsenal to mount a late challenge.

Drogba looks fantastic, he is everything that Arsenal desire, pace, composure, brute strength, and most importantly clinical. I was never the biggest of Drogba fans but on form like that; he is clearly the best line leader out there. Which brings me to another point, while watching the game yesterday, I was struck with a thought that had I thought a few years ago, I would have been locked up in a loony bin. That of how happy and unselfish Nicholas Anelka looked. He seems to have found himself and most importantly seems to enjoy football, his run for Drogba's second goal was class, without it Drogba doesn't score, and the pattern of the game changes. On such little details titles are won.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Catch Up

So as you may or may not have noticed, there has been little or no activity over the past few months on Tricky Left Winger. The reasons? Moving to a new city, new apartment, new school, new computer, blah blah, basically a whole lot of adjusting and life 'housekeeping' had to be done.

But now we are back, so, relax, read, please comment, and enjoy.

The hot topic at the moment seems to be the John Terry sleeping with Wayne Bridge's girl. I am probably in the minority here but for me it does not take away from what he does on the field. Men and women will always cheat, it is human nature, monogomy is a task that humans have always had some difficulties with, for or against it, that unfortunately is the case.

The thing that annoys me is the polarizing affect that this has on people, especially the media. The media pack are often whipped up into a frenzy at the first smell of blood, so I can only imagine that the wolves of fleet street were dizzy with euphoria when the Terry story broke. Yes he is the England captain, yes he is seen as a role model for children, a family man, the leader of Chelsea, but he is a man. And I have yet to hear of a man who is flawless, even Jesus turned water in to wine much to the chagrin of the people at the wedding who were choking for a pint of Stella.

The media will give him the space he needs, as long as that involves having paparazzi with massive lenses follow him and his wife and kids around for the next few years until they have had their feed of human suffering. He will not be allowed to move on from this. Just ask John Harkes, the former USA captain, because of the Terry scandal Harkes been forced to answer questions about his alleged involvement with the wife of former team mate Eric Wynalda. An allegation that Harkes has long denied. But it was not enough to save his spot in the World Cup, and cause massive trauma for him and his family. But the press do not care for the feeling of the people in the public spotlight. I think that they believe that if you earn x amount of dollars per year then you automatically become infallible. A claim that is so absurd, it beggars belief.

What Terry did was wrong, but I recall the British Prime Minister admitting to a four year affair, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth was less than the Terry affair. Well after all he was a British politician, maybe we should be more surprised that he was not not found with a bag over his head and a pair of stockings on. That unfortunately may be a horrible reflection of how elevated sports starts have become in our society, and how far they people we trust to run our countries have fallen.

Football and sports fans in general are so forgiving that it borders on lunacy. A well executed press conference of forgiveness, full of PR gold, perhaps some tears normally does the trick. The fans will forgive as long as Terry is doing the business on the field, the press I feel will not.


Why I love football...sublime from Guti.

Why I love football...a beautiful little video.

Again apologies for being posted missing, but deal with it ;)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The Curse of Speed

Firstly read this before you proceed, READ ME

OK now we can carry on.

Every footballer on earth wishes that they were quicker. Trust me. Even Ronaldo. Having speed is the one thing that can not (when  used correctly) be defended against. Speed is so important in the modern game that it is almost the first thing that coaches look for. If a coach sees a fast kid, I'm pretty sure they will feel that he is worth taking a chance on rather than the 10 year old Jan Molby who sits and sprays it. You can coach, the basics, but you can't coach speed.

Or can you? I have played with and coached numerous guys who were faster than Usain Bolt with diarrhea, but at the end of the day they just couldn't play. You see, speed is the number one talent in football, no not physical speed, but speed of thought!

Players who play the game (think Xavi) will always be the heart beat, the conductor, the lynchpin. The speed merchants (Shaun Wright-Phillips, Babel, Walcott?) will be cast outside to the flanks no matter the level. The quick athletes use their speed to get them out of difficult situations, they are often running in their head before they have control of the ball. They ignore the basics of control and awareness because they can always blast the thrusters. The players (Scholes, Fabregas,) use their superior brain speed to almost never allow these difficult situations to arise.

Sometimes speed and touch combine, and this is the Holy Grail of coaches all over. Messi and Ronaldo are the two obvious picks. But they are the exception to the rule. Normal rule is: Fast = No Brain. Meaning yes, they are athletic but when it comes to knowledge of space, team mates movement, a little tactical nounce,  then they are sadly lacking. Good touch, simplicity and guile in the correct area, these traits will always, always trump brute speed.

I hope that the marriage of athleticism and soccer knowledge continue to combine and produce more Ronaldo's of this world, if not I won't worry, I'll be the guy paying to watch the Robert Prosinecki's of the game.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Liverpool- The Truth

Rafa must go. 5 wins in 18 matches is not good. For  a club like Liverpool it is horrifically bad. Man Utd aside, Wolves, Wigan, Everton and Debrecen are not exactly difficult opponents. These are who the 5 wins have came against. Not inspiring to say the least.

Rafa is clutching at straws, "our season starts..." has been thrown around lately. I can understand his thinking, 12 points behind in the league is not an insurmountable gap. With no Champions League, Rafa is thinking he can sneak points when the others are involved in big midweek encounters. But to do that you need a good enough squad, and well, he doesn't have it. Today against Wolves they looked devoid of ideas until the sending off. This led to a swell in confidence, coupled with a rash dive in from Wolves' right back and some typical Gerrard bravery/desire brought the opener.

"Is this the springboard for Liverpools season" I have heard this time and again from media pundits, springboard to what exactly? 7th at Christmas, out of the Champions League, 5 wins in 18. They are where they are for a reason. Which is 2 points infront of Birmingham. Face it, Liverpool are poor.

Also,  Alonso is becoming a better player with every game he does not play for Liverpool, I think he may be in the running for player of the year in England.

Alonso apart, Rafa has shopped pathetically, years of poor buys and a stubborn refusal to admit that, now weigh him down with the poor squad that will be  the end of him. Gerrard and Torres deserve to have a better supporting cast, especially in this, the most open of recent Premier League chases.  Rafa's massive contract is the only thing keeping him in a job, I believe he would have been sacked a few games ago, if they could have afforded to do it. He is living on borrowed time, or maybe until Jose gets kicked out of Italy.

I think it will be very interesting to see who is offered the job when Rafa goes. Any thoughts?
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