Category Archives: Saturday Night Links

Saturday Night Links: Comeback edition

Arsène Wenger

Arsène Wenger thinks the new rules on Premiership teams (25 players registered, 8 of which must be homegrown) will be “disastrous.” To quote the man himself, “I am not a big fan of it because it puts, first of all, many players without clubs. Secondly it puts the clubs in a weak position most of the time in the transfer market because when you already have 25 players and you buy another one, you know you have 26 and now have to get rid of one. So when you buy a player, you have to integrate into the transfer how much it will also cost to get rid of a player because you are not sure if you will be capable after of selling the player.”

MLS is considering a 34-game schedule next season (2 games against each team). But that will only work for one year since Montreal is joining in 2012 (though logic dictates that they should just go to a 36-game schedule). In any event, this is a good thing. Balanced schedules always are.

In other MLS news, Seattle traded Freddie Ljungberg to Chicago for a draft pick. I was surprised by this move but apparently the Sounders decided to cash in on their designated player.

The Freddy Adu saga continues and, once again, he fails to latch on with a club. This time, Swiss club Sion decided against signing the American international. I’m not sure where Adu goes from here since he’s clearly not in Benfica’s plans. Perhaps a return to MLS is in order, at least so he gets some playing time.

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Saturday Night Links: anonymous edition

Thierry Henry's handball v. Ireland (AFP/Getty Images)

Ireland has given up its quixotic quest to become the 33rd team in the 2010 World Cup. Well, I’m glad that’s settled. I was getting worried that the Irish FA might embarrass itself.

Arsène Wenger says he’ll spend money in January to replace Robin van Persie, who’s out, apparently, forever. The kicker is that Wenger will only spend “at the right price.” Of course he will. So don’t get your hopes up, Arsenal fans.

Amid speculation that Sergio “Kun” Agüero is off to Chelsea in January (ahead, apparently, of the transfer ban that was supposed to be in effect), even AS.com says ESPN is responsible for that rumor. When AS disavows a rumor, you know it can’t be true.

Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or. Like anyone is surprised by that.

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Saturday Night Links: fans’ protest edition

st james park protest

Fans protest at St. James' Park

Mike Ashley is an idiot. He renamed St. James’ Park “sportsdirect.com @ St. James’ Park Stadium” which is way, way worse than Citi Field or any corporately named stadium in North America or, really, anywhere else in the world. It should be protested on principle. Of course, Mike Ashley is an idiot so that doesn’t help.

Well, Arsenal are making me look like a dumbass. They won today, rising to second in the league, just ahead of idle Manchester United and just behind idle Chelsea (United and Chelsea play tomorrow). The point is that the Arse are playing well lately.

The MLS playoffs are in full swing. Did you notice? No? Shame on you! Fortunately, you still have time to catch LA Galaxy v. Chivas (tomorrow at 7.30pm EST) and Seattle v. Houston (tomorrow at 3pm EST).

Finally, the big game tomorrow is Manchester United v. Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Both managers are busy scheming but I expect a fast-paced game and I expect everyone to be excited for it.

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ESPN gets one right: A review of Kings Ransom

August 9, 1988 is the day my heart was broken for the first time. As a kid growing up in Canada, I lived and breathed hockey for 10 months a year. Wayne Gretzky was my idol. When he was traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles, it felt like a personal betrayal. It would not be an understatement to say that I hated Peter Pocklington, really hated him, for what he did to me.

Peter Berg’s Kings Ransom, part of ESPN’s new documentary series 30 for 30, goes into great detail about what was called, in Canada, at least, the Trade of the Century. In interviews with everyone who took part – Pocklington, Glen Sather, Bruce McNall, and, of course, Wayne Gretzky – Berg goes through the beginning, the consummation, and the aftermath.

Wayne Gretzky traded on August 9, 1988

Wayne Gretzky traded on August 9, 1988

I really liked how Berg dug into the trade’s mechanics. How Jerry Buss planted the seed in Pocklington’s mind as early as 1985; how Bruce McNall picked up on it; how Sather was adamantly opposed to the deal; how both Pocklington and Gretzky reconciled themselves to the deal. It was like they both had to convince themselves over and over that it was happening. After August 9, the film really caught the hysteria that followed the trade. How Canadians lashed out at Pocklington, who deserved it, and Janet Gretzky, who didn’t deserve it. The media overreaction was, in retrospect, asinine. Eventually, even some fans in Edmonton turned on Gretzky.

There seems to be a small touch of revisionist history in that Gretzky portrays himself as at ease with the deal. I think he’s more at ease with it now than he was two decades ago. Perhaps the most honest moment is when Gretzky admits that he accepted the trade, in part, out of spite. Pocklington’s stance has softened, realizing that he, in all likelihood, made a mistake. With that said, Berg’s documentary was excellent.

As an aside, this idea – 30 for 30 – is a great idea. Too often ESPN shows useless programs – too many World Series of Pokers, off-season NFL Lives, or schlock like E:60 – but this has potential. I wish the documentary had lasted 2 hours but I can live with what was an entertaining, informative 1 hour. Keep it up, ESPN, and you might just win me back.

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Saturday Night Links: No name edition

I’m glad The Limey, over at SI, has jumped on the Ryan Giggs bandwagon. That makes me happy. The best part is Sir Alex’s quote: “It is not a matter of him defying his age. It is more a case that there is no discernible deterioration in his game at all. It is remarkable.”

Sad news about the upcoming US World Cup Qualifier against Honduras on 14 October: apparently there will be no national converage, only, for some reason, closed-circuit television. How can this happen? How can FIFA let this happen? Why isn’t there a standard package for World Cup Qualifiers for a given country. For example, FSC and ESPN would bid on that package here in the US for the English-language rights. Perhaps the Spanish-langauge rights could be separate. Whatever. This needs to be fixed because every single World Cup Qualifying match should be on TV.

Potentially massive problems at Portsmouth: apparently, the team can’t make payroll and had to take out an emergency loan from what I can only assume was a shady character (since he doesn’t run a bank or anything). So who’s to blame for all that? According to F365, everyone involved. I can live with that analysis.

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Saturday Night Links: But it’s Tuesday edition

Bassett hound or Vicente del Bosque? (Getty Images)

Bassett hound or Vicente del Bosque? (Getty Images)

Fascinating article here by Phil Ball about the rise of the “guru” manager in Spain, perhaps because Spain has been more open to foreign influences. Well worth a read.

Robinho apparently wants to join Barcelona sometime in the near-ish future despite a good run of form with Manchester City. Of course, he is prone to disappearing for distressingly long periods of time and Los culés just signed a fella by the name of Zlatan Ibrahimović for about a bazillion euros. But let’s not let that get in the way of the fun.

The ultra-fascinating Paul Pogba saga continues. Now David Gill is saying that he never intimidated Le Havre and that they’re free to take whatever action they want. Everyone needs to take a step back and get the whole thing sorted out, sharpish.

Stateside, David Beckham’s quest to be chosen for England’s 2010 team in South Africa continues, with a hint at a Premiership return. I think that’s just hyperbole and he’s going back to AC Milan. But I’ve been wrong many, many times before.

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Saturday Night Links: college football edition

Gael Kakuta

Gael Kakuta

Where else to start but with FIFA handing Chelsea a 1-year ban on signing new players for illegally signing Gael Kakuta, a French striker formerly attached to Lens, a French club? Wow. Just wow. FIFA really laid the hammer down on Chelsea, which is great, if the precedent stands. They also have to ensure that this new precedent is applied to all clubs fairly, from the biggest to the smallest. Apparently, something similar happened to AS Roma when it signed Philippe Mexès from Auxerre in 2005. In that case, the penalty was reduced to 1 transfer window (rather than 2) and a €7 million fine. On another note, how come the victims are always French?

Not surprisingly, Chelsea has filed the “strongest possible appeal” to the ban. Perhaps that appeal will carry more weight than just a regular-strength appeal. Or it’s just hyperbole. I expect Chelsea to get at least the same punishment as Roma, even with their strong appeal. Manchester United might be in for the same problem when FIFA gets around to ruling on its signing of Paul Pogba (yet another Frenchman… seriously, what’s up with that?).

Speaking of appeals… Arsenal are going to appeal Eduardo’s 2-match ban for diving. It says here that the appeal will be rejected and he’ll be gone for 2 matches.

Silly season update: how the hell did Hull get Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink? And why did Celtic release him? What’s going on there? I’m thoroughly confused by all of this. Though he’ll make a good partner for Jozy Altidore.

Hype from CONMEBOL in that Dunga doesn’t like Diego Maradona. Does anyone really like Maradona, though?

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