April Round up – Goals, Gaffs and Guardiola

A Newcastle fan punches a horse (Image from Getty)May is the one of the most exciting months in domestic football. As the season draws to close, fans are poised on the edge of their seats waiting to see if their team is successful in winning the league, avoiding the drop or lifting the cup. For the first time since their famous win in 1997, Borussia Dortmund are looking forward to the Champions League final at Wembley on the 25th May, where they will face either Barcelona or fierce rivals Bayern Munich. The odds are firmly stacked against the Spanish side who trail 4-0 from the first leg but miracles do happen. Back in the Premiership, the fight for the title is over with Manchester United beating Manchester City to the post and picking up their 20th title, an english record. All eyes are now focused on the bottom of the table to see who will join QPR and Reading in the Championship next year. Newcastle, Wigan, Aston Villa and Sunderland are in a vicious dog fight with all four clubs desperate to avoid the drop.

On the Move - Mario Gotze  (Image from Reuters)

Champions League Final bound – Mario Gotze
(Image from Reuters)

Last month we took at look at two of those teams – Sunderland and Newcastle, focusing on two key stories, Sunderland’s appointment of controversal manager Paolo Di Canio and Newcastle’s recent slump which has left them dangling in the bottom half of the table. Di Canio got off to a flyer with unexpected wins against Everton and Newcastle before being cruelly brought back to earth with a bump by a rampant Aston Villa. Newcastle, who lost the Tyne Wear derby 3-0 have had a bad month, both on the pitch and off it. On the pitch, they crashed out of a winnable Europa League after defeat against Benfica then saw their domestic form slump as well picking up only 5 points out of a possible 15 during April. Off the pitch, the Tyne Wear derby was marred by the return of the english hooligan with Newcastle fans rioting after the match and one fan even punching a police horse. They were not alone in a month to forget for English football followers as fans of Millwall, Stoke, Bradford and Portsmouth all contributed to tarnishing the beautiful game’s reputation.

New Sunderland Boss Di Canio  (Image from Getty)

New Sunderland Boss Di Canio
(Image from Getty)

Also leading the charge in setting a bad example was Liverpool’s Luis Suarez who was banned for 10 games following an incident against Chelsea where he appeared to bite the arm of Branislav Ivanovic. The striker was slammed by his manager and the club for his actions before dramatically performing a U-turn and defending his actions, insisting it wasn’t worth a ten match ban. Very strange indeed. It could have been a lot worse for Liverpool, just look at AEK Athens who are now having to fight for survival without influential young midfielder Giorgos Katidis, now serving a ban for performing a nazi salute as a celebration. The incident which happened in March has not help AEK’s plight as they desperately tried to avoid the drop. However Sunday’s defeat in the final game, and a three-point deduction handed down for fan violence has resulted in AEK being relegated and dropping out of the Greek Super League for the first time in their history.

Suarez sinks his teeth in  (Image from SkySports)

Suarez sinks his teeth in
(Image from SkySports)

As AEK dismiss their manager following relegation, other teams across Europe are gearing up to follow suit. In a piece we called the six degrees of managerial separation, we predicted a chain of events that would start with Real Madrid and exiting manager Jose Mourinho and end back at Real with their new potential coach. See if you agree with us on our predictions. One manager who has already been confirmed is Bayern Munich’s new head coach, Pep Guardiola who has already started his revolution by signing Borussia Dortmund winger Mario Gotze. The player arrives for a record german transfer fee and kicks off what is sure to be a transformational time for the Bavarian club. Another club preparing for a transformational season is Cardiff City who led by Scot Malky Mackay celebrated last month with promotion to the Premiership. Cardiff will want to avoid the same fate as many promoted teams who find the move to difficult and end up back in the Championship after only a year. We looked at what Cardiff need to do to avoid the drop in their first season in England’s top division.

Going in the right direction - Cardiff win promotion  (Image from BBC)

Going in the right direction – Cardiff win promotion
(Image from BBC)

Also making the news last month was the never aging story of Nigerian footballer Taribo West, who Serbian officials are now pursuing over allegations that he lied about his age to gain a contract with Partizan Belgrade. It would appear that he is not the only player to have done this with other players from the same region reported to have done this. Two players who don’t need to do this just yet are Esbjerg’s Youssef Toutouh and Utrecht’s Mike van der Hoorn who made the news in April but for different reasons. Toutouh took the plaudits in April with a stunning effort against high-flying Randers whilst Van Der Hoorn felt the heat due to a clumsy error in Utrechts 6-0 defeat at the hands of AZ Alkmaar. Both players have exciting careers ahead of them so we are sure this won’t be the last time we hear from them. Also featured a crazy Bulgarian coach ripping up a referees cards, a goal from a goalkeeper, Bebeto’s resignation from the CBF and a look at Hamburg’s tactical woes in what proved to be a busy month. May is likely to throw up more interesting stories so please keep checking the blog and enjoy!

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Young Players Learn From Goals And Gaffs

Beckham scores his famous goal against Wimbledon (Image from Getty)The easiest way for you to make a name for yourself in football is to do something incredible on the pitch. Scoring a spectacular goal, doing some fancy dribbling or worst case scoring a horror own goal can all bring the media attention firmly to your door. It’s likely that both Wayne Rooney, Neymar and David Beckham would have eventually grabbed the spotlight soon after making their competitive debuts but scoring a wonder goal or a howler in their first few matches certainly helped to speed up the process.

Wayne Rooney made an impact by scoring a wonder goal for Everton against Arsenal  (image from PA)

Wayne Rooney made an impact by scoring a wonder goal for Everton against Arsenal
(image from PA)

The latest players to attract the media glare, for opposite reasons are Esbjerg’s Youssef Toutouh and Utrecht’s Mike van der Hoorn. Both hit the headlines after hitting the back of the net this past week but for Van der Hoorn he is wishing he hadn’t. The powerful young centre back has been in fine form this season and has attracted the interest of some other teams both at home in Holland and abroad. But in the game against AZ Alkmaar at the weekend, Van der Hoorn scored a comical own goal that has made him a media sensation. Trailing 3-0, with only injury time left in the first half, Ulrecht’s left back Dave Bulthuis failed to clear a nothing cross and was disposed on the edge of the 6 yard line by AZ winger Roy Beerens. Beerens brought the ball under control before unleashing a hard shot from an acute angle at Jeroen Verhoeven in the Utrecht goal. The former Ajax stopper managed to get a hand to the ball and pushed it away from goal into the path of Van Der Hoorn. With no one near by and the ball dead at his feet, Van Der Hoorn tried to adjust his feet and clear the ball out of danger but instead swiped the ball into the empty net to give AZ a 4-0 lead. Consoled by opposition players and the referee, the player looked devastated by what he had just done before quietly walking in at the half time whistle.

Van Der Hoorn looks for the ground to open up after his goal  (Image from Getty)

Van Der Hoorn looks for the ground to open up after his goal
(Image from Getty)

Over in Denmark, Esbjerg took on a high-flying Randers team, needing a win to keep their push for the top half alive. Within 33 minutes, Esbjerg had the lead and in some fashion. Twenty year old Youssef Toutouh was only making his 17th start for the club following his loan move from Copenhagen earlier this year. The young winger, who scored his first goal for the club (ironically also on the 33rd minute) last month in the 1-1 draw with Brondby, took up possession of a bouncing ball some 25 yards from the Randers goal. With his back to goal, he cleverly flicked the ball up and over his head, leaving Randers defender Johnny Thomsen routed to the spot. As he swiveled round, he connected perfectly with the ball firing it over the head of goalkeeper David Ousted and into the net. A stunning goal made and executed by a rising star in Danish football. TouTouh’s goal set the pace for the game and Esbjerg went on to win the match comfortably by 4-0, continuing their recent good run.

Toutouh and his teammates celebrate his wonder strike  (Image from Getty)

Toutouh and his teammates celebrate his wonder strike
(Image from Getty)

Whilst Toutouh will take confidence from his strike, the unfortunate goal that Van Der Hoorn scored may affect his, resulting in a dip in form. It is his managers responsibility and his more senior teammates duty to help pick him up from this and explain to him that everyone had a bad day in the office that day (Utrecht lost 6-0 in the end) and to move on. Similarly teammates and the management of Esbjerg need to make sure that Toutouh does not become too over-confident and remind him to continue playing his natural game and not live on past glories. Van der Hoorn and Toutouh are talented youngsters who are just beginning their footballing careers so need to be nurtured appropriately through these situations by their respective managers. Both players can learn a lot from these experiences that will make them better players and hopefully one day turn them into stars like Beckham, Neymar and Rooney have become.

To see Van Der Hoorn’s howler, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA9Z5J2yb5g

To see Toutouh’s goal, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2vObJnOQYU

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