It’s true, Americans really like to watch soccer on TV.
Via Gilt Edge Soccer.
QPR midfielder Stéphane Mbia speaking some sense, pretty rare for a Premier League player. The rest of his interview is well worth reading for some insight into his background in Cameroon and sensible take on adjusting to life in the glitz of England’s top division. (via pitchinvasion)
Very good read indeed.
If you’re reading this, congratulations: it’s 2013 and you’re still alive. However, the next month might be hazardous to your health if you insist upon being swept up in the vagaries and hysteria of the transfer window.
Much prose has been spilled about the window itself, but I thought it useful to offer some advice on how to exist with good health and spirit well into February, 2013. And maybe, if you’re lucky, until the summer transfer window!
1. YOUR TEAM IS NOT SIGNING LIONEL MESSI
This is fairly obvious but also important to remember: whoever your team needs most, it likely won’t sign. If the incredible does happen and Falcao/Gary Lineker jr/Neymar/Pele’s ghost does turn up, sign up and score 20 goals next weekend, it’s also important to consider that it might not be enough. Teams are, in theory, carefully curated collections of talent that complement one another and work selflessly in pursuit of shared goals, all while being overseen by managers that might resemble equal parts tactician, psychologist and effortless dictator. Yet that rarely ever happens, leaving us with 24 overfed scoundrels and a world-class talent keeping the illusion of progress on track.
2. CONSIDER THE SOURCE
The hyper-information era makes for lots of misinformation. Twitter accounts with “ITK” in the name are a cursory red flag. Equally, your friend’s uncle’s best man’s wife’s colleague’s paperboy might be slightly inaccurate when “spotting” Edinson Cavani at a North London Pret a Manger, if that elusive observer is even a real person.
While there are lots of “hacks” in the world working hard to fill your face with footballing stuff, few truly hack it when it comes to accurate reporting of rumors-that-will-soon-become-actual-things. When steadily fantasizing over all the amazing stars that are landing at the local airport — right now! I promise! — bear in mind the above point. Your team is not signing Lionel Messi, even if you’re run by a shadowy fossil fuel magnate from far, far away.
3. THE SECOND TAKE COUNTS
This is a note that applies to a lot of analysis. The rush to be first isn’t always wise — though it’s not always unproductive, either — and as such, the more measured opinion will almost always resonate longer and more deeply.
Analysis of what a player *might* do at a new club is a decent start point; how they actually perform at that new club clearly holds more weight. That and most scouting reports blur together eventually. Every player invariably ends up with superb passing range, excellent vision, divine ball skill and amazing instincts around goal.
Whether any of it is true ceases to matter though if you’re Charlie Wyett, the bold, knee-jerk reactions end up being hilarious.
So when judging players in their new environs, it might be best (though not smart from a career, look-at-what-I-know point of view) to wait a while before giving that strong evaluation — in some cases, a year might do it, but the long game is fast becoming anachronism. EXCEPT if the player is Fernando Torres. Because he’s irreparably rubbish.
4. USING “X PLAYER IS THE NEXT Y” MUST STOP — UNLESS YOU’RE JOKING
Every player cannot be the next other player because every player is the next that player. Oscar isn’t the next Kaka; he’s the first Oscar. Individualism still counts in this world. The rush to forcibly lump a player in with one of a prior generation is great but only if you’re making a funny.
5. MAINTAIN PERSPECTIVE
This is a good life rule but one that’s never easy to self-apply. I can never quite manage it, but the act of grappling it daily is fulfillment enough. I think.
In the transfer window, it matters most of all. The above four things are merely guides to surviving a period that can be every bit as traumatizing — and ultimately, not permanently scarring — as your worst Christmas. You know, the one where you wanted a new bike but got socks. Yeah, that holiday really wasn’t awful — you still got gift cards, dinner was nice and you didn’t have to do homework — but it felt it at the time.
Few players genuinely have the ball under complete control during a sinuous run. Unless you are Maradona or Lionel Messi (you aren’t), it is 61% control, 20% adrenaline, 15% luck and 4% “I’m faster than the wind, I’m the greatest” going through your head.
Coaches are aware of this. To them dribbling presents a high chance of losing possession. Would you expect the gaffer to champion something offering opponents the possibility to nick the ball?"
“Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don’t play can be more important than what you do.”
Pair with some tips on how to listen to music.
Grantland takes plenty of shots for its self-indulgent prose and insulated appeal, but the documentary about NBA prospect Royce White on draft day was absorbing from start to finish.
Athletes are expected to be perfect. All flaws, when shown, are derided or praised on a case-by-case basis. Where Mario Balotelli grows his appeal with prankish behavior, Joey Barton is marginalized as a faux-intellectual lout.
But most of that is showmanship or personality. More serious things like suicidal tendencies or more deep-seated psychological issues are rare in the sporting world. Which makes White’s openness about his generalized anxiety disorder so laudable. These things don’t get easier by being shut away or hidden. His honesty shines through.
For Howler’s debut issue, Matthew Doyle (MLSsoccer.com’s Armchair Analyst) watched more than 50 hours of USMNT tape (going all the way back to Italia ‘90) to discern what—if anything—characterizes the American style of play. With tomorrow night’s WCQ against Jamaica looming, we thought…
VERY EXCITED for this release (and not just because I know one of its editors and had the privilege of contributing a piece to the debut issue).
1. Counting Crows still tours? A fleeting look at their Wikipedia page shows they’ve recorded three albums since 1998, the most recent being all covers. Aka, the reason they’re probably touring. Covers of Teenage Fanclub, Dawes, Fairport Convention, Bob Dylan (of course), Gram Parsons and Travis.
2. Since when did Counting Crows become a seven-piece band? Must be the Wilco Rule: the more gracefully you age, the more multi-instrument performers you add to fill out the sound.
3. Are those perhaps the worst opening act band names in history? One evoking a tween-lit book title, the other inspiring thoughts of other emotions that could be paired with bodies of water. Irritated Brook. Melancholic Estuary. Coy Pond.