Carlo Ancelotti Could Be Best Manager In Modern Era

People always have their favourites and football fans always love a good debate.

Who is better Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

When discussing this era’s best manager some will claim it’s Jurgen Klopp, others will be adamant it’s Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte will have his backers, Zinedine Zidane will get a shout, Diego Simeone’s work doesn’t go unnoticed and Jose Mourinho will still have people screaming out his name.

There’s obviously no definitive answer and different metrics will be used to support certain arguments but saying that I will make a case for Carlo Ancelotti.

As a player he played for that famous AC Milan side of the late 80s and early 90s, working under great coaches Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello.

The Italian boss has just returned the La Liga title back into the hands of Real Madrid. That was that last league crown that the sixty-two year old needed to complete the managerial ‘Grand Slam’ in Europe.

By ‘Grand Slam’ I mean he has managed a club in each of the top five leagues (Serie A, Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga and La Liga) and secured a top tier title in each of those nations.

That shows us that Carlo can coach anywhere.

In terms of the Champions League, Only Zidane can say he has won the same amount of winners medals as a gaffer in that illustrious competition (each winning it three times). Unlike Zidane though Ancelotti has won it with more than one club, only Mourinho and Jupp Heynckes can say the same since 1993.

Nor can we say that Carlo can only gain limited success before moving on. At Milan he was there for over 400 games in charge. In that time he expertly managed an ageing team and won various trophies.

At Chelsea, the Emilia-Romagna native was the first boss to gain domestic success in the Premier League since the departure of Jose Mourinho in 2007.

He helped PSG win their first title in almost twenty years. Ancelotti was the man who helped give the Ligue 1 giants a sense of respectability amongst the game’s elite, convincing the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to join him in Paris.

When Bayern Munich lost the formidable force that is Pep Guardiola as their manager in 2016, it was Carlo who they turned to and he delivered the Bundesliga in his only full season in Bavaria.

During his career at the eleven clubs he’s bossed at; Carlo Ancelotti’s winning percent rate has only dipped under 50% three times and just once since 1999.

In truth I don’t think Ancelotti gets the credit he deserves.

He’s not as outspoken as a Mourinho and he isn’t as trendy with his tactics/philosophy as a Klopp or a Pep. But his ability to walk into a dressing room and adapt to that situation rather than expect everyone to change for him is admirable in this era.

The Real Madrid boss is a dignified character who commands respect. He’s also loyal and willing to listen to his players.

In his book ‘Quiet Leadership’, Ancelotti states his job is just about managing the team and treating his players like humans. He doesn’t worry about the politics and those that pay his wages as he knows he can’t control those situations.

When you look at the players that he’s worked with and their opinion of him, you’ll see he is loved by those he has guided throughout the years:

He’s like a big teddy bear, he’s really sensitive and is a great guy. He would speak with us every day, but not just with me, with all of the players. He had great fun with us. He’s a great person and my only wish is that every player gets the chance to work with him because he’s such a great guy and a fantastic coach.

Cristiano Ronaldo via Bleacher Report

“He is the only coach I have had who has such an excellent rapport with his players, even more so than Jose Mourinho.”

Zlatan Ibranimovic via Planet Football

“He’s a great coach who likes to play good football and his teams play with real style,”

“He has a good footballing philosophy. I have nothing but good things to say about him, Carlo is a friend, a great person. He’s an outstanding coach, who treats his players well and is well-liked inside the dressing room.”

Andrea Pirlo via Sky Sports

Even now that he has won the La Liga title, Carlo Ancelotti’s job isn’t safe. They have a huge clash with Manchester City in the Champions League to deal with but rumours suggest his time at the Bernabeu could be coming to an end – again! (Source – Sport Bible).

I’d like to think that won’t happen but you can never really know with football these days but if were to be relieved of his duties he should be top of the list of any club or nation worth their salt looking for a world class football manager!

Scottish Football Helping Ukraine

This weekend I filmed a video for Supporters Direct Scotland at Hampden in Glasgow.

We talked with Clark Gillies (The Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal) about various ways Scottish football is helping Ukraine during this difficult time and his love for the country.

Please help if you can!

All Of Europe’s Top Club’s Will Be Watching Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka

CopyrightEnglandFootball.Com

Arsenal have had to endure a few nervy contract sagas in recent times and they could find themselves in the same mess again unless they quickly tie down Bukayo Saka to a new long-term deal in the coming months.

The young English international is a superb talent. He’s a player who can play consistently well in a variety of positions; pretty much anywhere on the lefthand side, central midfield and he’s also an attacking threat on the right flank too.

The twenty year old is already becoming a talismanic figure for The Gunners. This term Saka has contributed to his team’s Premier League cause with six goals and four assists.

In total the youngster has just made eighty league appearances and in that time he’s scored twelve goals and created twelve assists.

Nobody in the current Arsenal squad averages more than Saka’s 2.2 shots per game. Only Martin Odegaard beats Bukayo on key passing stats.

Bukayo Saka has also broken into the England team and has fourteen caps and four goals to his name.

Both his international and club managers trust him and think he’s a wonderful player:

“We have been super impressed with Bukayo Saka throughout the month. He was excellent up at Middlesbrough and we have liked him with and without the ball. His receiving tonight under pressure was fantastic.”

Gareth Southgate via Football365.com

“He’s a really humble boy who’s willing to learn every single day.

“He works really hard and he has an incredible talent. It’s a combination of everything you need to be successful”.

Mikel Arteta via Arseblog

Even though he’s still young, the player has no issues with demanding the ball from teammates and directly attacking opponents with the ball at his feet. He’s such a creative force and always seems to get into dangerous positions inside the opposition’s half. He has that great ability to receive the ball in space in-between the lines on the half turn and can then quickly get up to top speed as he heads to the line or goal.

His close control and dribbling skills will often get the Arsenal faithful up onto their feet in excitement. He’s a very strong player technically and has wonderful vision to create defence splitting passes to unlock tight defences.

From the outside looking in, Saka has a terrific attitude. He seems happy to let his football performances do the talking. He’ll help his side wherever he’s needed but has usually been used on the right under Gunners boss Mikel Arteta. I’d like to see more of him the left and linking up with Kieran Tierney but as he’s so comfortable on either flank, it makes sense to play him on the right as that allows Arteta to play scoring threat Gabriel Martinelli out on the left.

So it goes without saying that Arsenal will want to hang onto Saka for as long as possible as he has the ability and time to develop into a truly world class talent.

They signed him to a new four year deal in 2020 (Source BBC Sport) but that will leave them with a decision to make in the summer if he hasn’t signed a new contract by that time as he’ll be just two years away from that deal running out.

In normal circumstances you’d imagine that the club would gauge if the player is willing to sign a new offer and if he’s not then you’d sell him with two years left on his current deal to get a hefty fee. It becomes more of an option for clubs when you look at the current climate of players actually sitting back and allowing their contracts to run down.

But for Arsenal this is a top performing star player and one who has the potential to become even better in the future. Bukayo has come up through the youth ranks at the club, debuted at seventeen and is loved by the home support. So you’d imagine they’ll do everything within their power to keep him in North London.

The difficulty comes with what the player wants.

A higher wage? Probably, who doesn’t want to be paid more? Especially when you merit that wage increase. But I don’t believe wages will be a motivating factor when it comes to Saka. He’d get a great deal in that regard at The Emirates.

It could come down to what he wants to do in terms of challenging for trophies and fulfilling a dream to play Champions League football.

Arsenal haven’t finished inside the top four in their last six attempts!

The run-in between now and the end of season could be vital in their attempts to keep Buyako Saka at the club. They look like they’ve turned a corner under Arteta but we’ve all thought that before when it comes to The Gunners.

They currently lie in sixth spot but have games in hand over the two sides who are ahead of them in the league table. Win those games in hand and they will be sitting in fourth spot but will probably have Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and West Ham United in hot pursuit. It will be a real test for the squad but it could prove to be make or break when it comes to keeping their talented England star at the club.

Be in no doubt every top European superpower will be watching on and will be considering Buyako Saka as a potential signing as he’s really that good.

It will add even more pressure onto Arsenal’s season but the best teams thrive under pressure and Saka will want to playing with the best and challenging for top honours!

West Ham United Should Have Dropped Kurt Zouma

West Ham United were quick to come out yesterday and condemn (BBC Sport) their centre-half Kurt Zouma after a video emerged showing the defender violently hitting his pet cat.

In the club’s statement they said:

“We have spoken to Kurt and will be dealing with the matter internally, but we would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals.”

Via Sky Sports News

So it was surprising to see Zouma announced in the Hammers team to face Watford that same evening in a Premier League clash.

Playing him that night, without explaining what if any punishments had been served on the player seemed inappropriate given what they had said earlier in their statement.

Manager David Moyes came out afterwards and defended his decision to play the French internationalist:

“It’s something we’re all disappointed with and something we can’t understand.

“He’ll learn from it [but] today I had to pick a football team that gave me the best chance of winning the game as manager of West Ham.”

“I know how people feel, but I’m also a football manager here.”

Via BBC Sport

In some ways I do actually understand where Moyes is coming from. He’s right it’s a results driven industry and if results falter then it’s usually the manager who has to deal with the harsh consequences.

That being said it’s also the gaffer’s job to make sure that players know that they’re representing the club’s badge and name at all times, even in their own kitchens! If your behaviour doesn’t meet up to the standards expected by the club then you’ll be punished.

It may have been easier on the Hammers boss had fellow central defender Issa Diop not endured a torrid time against Kidderminster Harries in last weekend’s FA Cup tie.

But in truth the decision should’ve been taken out of David Moyes hands. The West Ham board should have suspended the player while a disciplinary meeting was being set up.

Now theoretically you could’ve probably held that disciplinary yesterday afternoon as the player was clearly guilty of bringing the club into disrepute. He was filmed committing the heinous act and he had already admitted his guilt. The PFA have also come out and stated “this type of behaviour is not acceptable” (Source Daily Express). It would then be down to the club to punish Zouma.

Now let’s say they wanted more time to evaluate the case and speak to their lawyers. Really in any other profession, you’d expect the person in question to be suspended from their workplace whilst that deliberation process was taking place.

Personally I’d was expecting West Ham to ban Zouma for at least one game (The one against Watford), fine him a few weeks wages and give that as a donation to an animal charity and order him to take some sort of anger management classes.

By playing the centre-back, I fear the football club have misread the tone of the situation and the reaction to Zouma’s cowardly actions. Fans and the wider community are upset and angry by what’s happened and by the fact he hasn’t been suitably punished (as yet).

Now some people will demand that the twenty-seven year old be sacked. I don’t think West Ham will or should go that far but I do think the RSPCA should definitely investigate the issue and take matters further. In an ideal world I’d also suggest that social services should question the household and make sure that it isn’t a violent environment for the player’s kids.

West Ham United owe it to their fans and their sponsors to show that they understand the feeling of the situation when events like these happen. They should have acted swiftly by punishing the player and by taking him out of the team last night it would’ve shown that club has their finger on the pulse, unfortunately they didn’t do that and they now look uncaring and/or incompetent.

Picture Blog: London Stadium – West Ham United


I popped down to London last week and during my visited I got the chance to visit West Ham United’s home – The London Stadium.

As with all my picture blogs the pictures here are free for anyone to use as long as you ask for permission via email which you can find on the contacts page or via Twitter.

Postecoglou Brings Excitement Times Back To Celtic

It’s funny to look back and think Eddie Howe was the Celtic board’s number one choice to become their new manager last summer.

A lot of time was wasted as The Hoops chased and ultimately failed to persuade the Englishman to move to Glasgow.

Yet after that particular rebuff the club’s hierarchy quickly put their Plan B into place and brought Aussie gaffer Ange Postecoglu to Celtic Park from Japan.

Not much was known about the new boss. He’d had a successful stint in his homeland, he’d done a decent job managing his national side and tasted glory in the J-League with Yokohama F. Marinos.

Upon Ange’s arrival in Scotland, I asked Aussie journalist Dan Colasimone to tell me more about the fifty-six year old.

Dan stated that Postecoglu would come in and insist on his new team playing to his system no matter what and that will get mixed results initially. But if Celtic were to stick with it, then it should bear fruit.

Now my reply was that Ange would be given a shorter honeymoon period at Celtic than at previous clubs, so he’d need to gain positive performances even during that initial bedding in period.

We are now twenty-five games into the Scottish Premiership season and it’s uncanny that everything has kind of worked to the most positive scenario Dan and myself discussed in early June.

Celtic did have some missteps early on in the campaign but they looked an exciting outfit when pushing forward. They’re always pressing whenever they don’t have the ball, they don’t give up and they play an energetic brand of football.

That attacking style is one that the fans in the east end of Glasgow have always appreciated. They watched as their team dropped points and believed that they were on a different path and that things would come good.

Last season under Neil Lennon, Celtic often looked sluggish and void of any creative ideas. There was simply no passion!

Under Ange: Celtic now look fitter, brighter and efficient in every department.

Celtic’s signing policy since Ange’s first day has been pretty on point too. The new signings from Japan; Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate, Daizem Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi have all impressed thus far.

Kyogo has been in Scotland since the summer and has been fantastic thus far. He makes extremely intelligent runs and he scores clever goals. The forward has scored eight goals in his fourteen league outings.

Hatate has been superb in his first five outings. He’s brought a new energy to the midfield. He has bagged himself three goals and two assists.

Portuguese loanee Jota has been one of the players of the season. He can play on either side and he’s a constant threat. It was a very smart move for Celtic to insert a clause in the deal to sign the twenty-two year old on a permanent basis in the summer (Source The Scotsman).

Celtic have been vastly improved on the flanks. Liel Abada made be more raw than Jota but his stats have been fantastic. scoring nine league goals and creating six assists.

Joe Hart, Cameron Carter-Vicker and Josip Juranovic have all come in and improved the backline.

Matt O’Riley is another talent that has impressed since his January move. He’s got a keen eye for a defence splitting pass and has no issue running his socks off for the team’s cause.

Question marks surrounded Carl Starfelt and Giorgos Giakoumakis early on in their Celtic careers. I’m not sure they’ve totally dispelled those doubts but they’ve certainly started to improve.

The one signing that’s been the biggest let down for me has been that of James McCarthy. The Irish midfielder has never gained true full fitness and that’s hampered his ability to bed into the current team. Although looking at all the signings McCarthy and Hart are the ones I’d suggest Ange had less say when they were being brought to Glasgow.

It’s not just the new boys that have flourished under Ange.

Captain Callum McGregor has found a new lease of life at Parkhead. He’s a player that leads by example!

Anthony Ralston has reinvented himself and Greg Taylor now looks the part too. Celtic accepted a bid for Tom Rogic in 2020, yet he has become a talisman again. While David Turnbull is fast becoming a top class midfielder.

These players just need a new vision to follow and clearly Postecoglu is the Wizard of Oz that can get a tune out of his players.

That nervy initial period seems to be gone now. Celtic have claimed the first piece of silverware this term, they’re currently on a seven game winning streak and have overhauled rivals Rangers and climbed to the Premiership’s summit.

They are playing like champions. A few weeks ago they were struggling to breakdown Dundee United, yet they didn’t give up and grabbed a winner inside injury time.

They dismantled Rangers this midweek in what was being billed as tight affair. It didn’t live up to the billing as Celtic blew the current champions away (BBC Match Report).

I often think that the game after a derby encounter can be a vital one. It’s important for victors to continue on the path of momentum. They need to have the brains to out fox opponents, the courage to keep a good run going and the heart to run all day and break the hearts of opponents. Celtic showed all that and more as they swept into Motherwell and crushed them.

The Celtic faithful have been overjoyed with the exciting football and the positive results that Ange Postecoglu has brought with him to Parkhead.

The manager also understands the support. His words after that triumph over Rangers showed that he gets it:

“We had 60,000 in here. I’m sure a lot walked in with some problems in their lives and for 95 minutes we made them forget that and feel good – and that’s something special.”

Via BBC Sport

Rangers showed today that they’re not ready to give up on their title. This current Celtic side still need to prove that they can handle the pressures of being the league leaders.

But from what we’ve seen do far, I don’t think Ange Postecoglou is a manager that will allow his players to take their foot off the gas or drop their levels. That’s why it’s understandable to see so many Celtic fans optimistic about their club’s future.

Manchester United And The Summer of 2003

The summer of 2003 was a big one for transfer stories and Manchester United were caught up in the three biggest tales of that period.

David Beckham had been a Red Devil his entire career at that point. Having been a success with the club’s youth team, Beckham would make his senior United debut in September 1992.

By the end of May 2003, Becks had made just short of 400 competitive appearances for the English giants. He’d helped the side claim six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League.

Yet his time was now up at Old Trafford.

Beckham’s relationship with United manager and his mentor Sir Alex Ferguson had deteriorated to a point that it was obvious that the two couldn’t co-exist together in Manchester. As Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Jaap Stam could testify no player would last long at the club after clashing with Fergie.

A rumoured move to Real Madrid had been talked about for pretty much the whole of the Premier League title run-in during that 2002-03 season. The two clubs would meet in that year’s Champions League with the tie becoming an instant classic!

In the second leg (United trailing 3-1 from the first), Ferguson who was already missing Paul Scholes from his midfield decided to bench Beckham and play attacker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer instead.

A wonderful hat-trick by Ronaldo was enough to finally put Real through but England star Beckham climbed off the bench to grab a brace and give United a 4-3 win on the night.

The fact was that David Beckham had by this time become a global superstar. As well as being a great footballer, he had also become a major celebrity and this clearly annoyed Ferguson, a manager who didn’t want distractions to enter his dressing room.

Earlier in the campaign, after losing an FA Cup tie to Arsenal, Fergie in a rage lashed out and kicked a football boot. The object would fly across the changing room and hit his famous right winger above his left eye. The England international would then appear in most of the tabloids sporting stitches over the wound caused by that fiery incident.

On June 18th 2003, David Beckham was announced as Real Madrid’s new Galactio after penning a four year deal for a fee of £24.5m (Source BBC Sport).

With that transfer done, Manchester United were on the lookout for someone to come in and wow the Old Trafford faithful.

It soon became apparent that Brazilian international forward Ronaldinho was high up on Ferguson’s list of targets.

The gifted player had just completed his second season in Europe, starring for Ligue 1 side PSG. He clearly had talent and was ready to showcase that talent to a wider audience in one of the continent’s bigger leagues.

Those in England had already witnessed Ronaldinho’s brilliance as it was his free-kick that looped over David Seaman and ended England’s hopes at the 2002 World Cup.

With Real purchasing Becks, it seemed they were out of the race for Ronaldinho but that was never a certainty. FC Barcelona were making a lot of noises but had to await the election results of their presidency before making any moves.

The path seemed clear for Man United to swoop in and get the talismanic Ronaldinho.

Weeks of negotiating then ensued as the Red Devils tried to tie the player down:

United would then release a statement:

“Negotiations between Manchester United and Paris St Germain and representatives of Ronaldinho have been ongoing for several weeks. 

“In order to bring talks to a conclusion the club has spoken again to Paris St Germain and the players’ representatives and following our final written offer submitted on Friday morning, we have notified all parties that unless an agreement is reached by 1900CET, Manchester United will withdraw from the process.”

Via SKY Sports

That deadline would come and go without a glimpse of Ronnie in a United jersey.

According to the then twenty-three year old Brazilian a deal was pretty much agreed with United before a last minute call from Barca changed history:

“It almost happened with United,”

“It was a matter of 48 hours, but Sandro Rosell had told me way before I got the offer: ‘If I become Barca president, will you come?’ I said yes.”

“It was only a matter of details with United when Rosell called to say he was going to win the elections there.”

“And I had promised to him that I’d play for Barca. It was a quick negotiation. I told the English I had chosen Barca.”

Source Four Four Two via Joe.co.uk

On the 20th of July 2003, Ronaldinho became the player who got away as he signed on at the Camp Nou.

David Beckham would become the start of the end of that Galaticos era. While he didn’t win much in the way of silverware; his desire and determination won over the Real Madrid support.

David would stay in Spain for four years and he’d help them to the La Liga title in his final season with the club.

Ronaldinho would become one of the world’s very best players at Barcelona. He changed the clubs fortunes with his skill, assists and goals. He stayed at a year longer than Beckham in Spain but won two league titles, a Champions League and was voted the world’s best player in 2005.

But what of Man United in 2003?

They’d lost a significant first team star in Beckham and had failed in securing top target Ronaldinho. That failed deal to bring in Ronaldinho lasted until mid to late July.

Did United and Sir Alex panic?

Nope. Fergie did what Fergie did best and secured a top prospect and made that prospect a superstar!

Man Utd would travel to Lisbon on August 9th 2003, still void of a new creative spark, to play in a preseason friendly. Boasting a strong line-up that included Fabien Barthez, Nicky Butt, Mikael Silvestre, Paul Scholes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, John O’Shea and Rio Ferdinand United would slump to a 3-1 defeat to Sporting CP.

During that loss, a talented eighteen year old stood out for the Portuguese giants. A kid called Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Red Devils a torrid time, especially O’Shea.

The story goes that the United players trotted into their dressing room and demanded Ferguson sign the wonderkid on the spot.

Just three days after that friendly and United announced that they had indeed purchased the young Ronaldo in a £12.25m move (Source – BBC Sport).

Fans around Europe were left scratching their head.

Was Ferguson going to hand this kid the prestigious Number Seven shirt and have him as Beckham’s replacement?

Well we all know what happened next. Cristiano Ronaldo would go on and become a footballing legend. Alongside Lionel Messi (Ronaldinho’s successor at Barca), Cristiano is now considered an all-time great.

He might have been a bit precocious and raw in his debut season at United but everyone could see that there was a superb player in making dancing down the right wing at Old Trafford.

He would learn to do more by doing less as his career progressed. He didn’t need to keep hold of the ball for longer than was needed and he didn’t need to do trick after trick. It was better for him to set his sights on goal and create and score as many goals as possible.

Ronaldo would spend six years in Manchester. He’d play 292 games and score 118 goals. Three Premier League titles, two League Cups, an FA Cup, a Champions League winners medal and a World Club Cup followed. He’d also bag himself his first Ballon d’Or.

A huge move to Real Madrid followed, he’d spend nine years there and winning everything with Los Blancos. He would then join Juventus and win two Serie A titles in Italy.

Last summer Cristiano Ronaldo re-signed for Man United, to much greater fanfare than in 2003. He’s rejoined the club that are once again in transition just as it was back in his debut year.

Now will United see the best of Ronaldo this time around probably not, but if he can inspire the next generation then it could help the club get back to their glory years.

It’s funny how so many things lead back to that summer of 2003!

Big Game Performer Scott Brown Never Changes

Copyright – AFC.co.uk

I remember talking about Scott Brown about twelve years ago and looking at his game. He was a midfielder who couldn’t really pass the ball, who couldn’t really run with the ball, wasn’t the master of a tackle nor was he going to score lots of goals.

Now I think that review is somewhat over-exaggerated, he’s been one of the very best midfielders in Scotland’s top flight for the last fifteen years (if not longer). He possesses a war-chest full of medals and even at thirty-six years of age he can still help boss midfield battles. He’s quite clearly a good footballer.

Brown has an absolute desire to win. He knows his strengths and he plays to them.

He’s a player that the opposition players, as well as their support, hate. Scott can spot a weakness in an opponent and will exploit it. He’s a wind up merchant, he get’s into people’s faces and he brings out mistakes in others.

Plenty of Aberdeen fans were suspicious of Scott Brown’s arrival in the summer as a player/coach. Was he coming up to Pittodrie to wind down his career and not give his all?

The veteran dismissed those fears about twenty minutes into his debut. As much as opposing supporters hate Brown, those faithful that watch him play for their club week in and week out absolutely adore him as Hibs, Celtic and Dons fans will testify to. He shows a determination on the football field that is rarely matched. He can also start a fight in an empty room and usually escape from the melee unscathed.

His chief victim in his mind-game battles has undoubtedly been Rangers. The history of him winding up Gers players and fans runs deep.

Last night, he managed to gain an upper-hand once again. He was in faces, winning free-kicks and just being a pain in the arse. You can see his antics from a mile away and yet it will usually still spark a reaction. You saw him jostling with Rangers players, laughing at them and trying to help officiate the game with the referee much like a certain Barry Ferguson used to do at Ibrox back in the day.

It’s these tactics that have worked in Brown’s favour for years. He drew Ryan Kent into fouling him and then sparked a reaction, which in turn creates a buzz from Aberdeen fans in the stands and urges on his own teammates. Showing us that he does all these things for a reason or various reasons. Basically to create reactions.

On the playing side, he can take a more unassuming role in terms of sitting in front of the defence and protecting them. His real value to his team is his leadership, his determination to succeed and the experience he brings with him.

Dons boss Stephen Glass is slightly worried that his players are becoming to reliant on Brown:

“I’m almost asking the boys is the glaring omission that they need Scott to push them on, kick them and poke them and make them do it? Professionally they need to be better.”

Via Press & Journal

Don’t get me wrong, if things go against him then Scott Brown has to accept that he’ll be targeted by opponents in the same way he dishes it out. It happened more often than not during his last year at Celtic Park.

But the fact that he can still perform and succeed at this level at the age of thirty-six is testament that he is indeed a great player. A player who will happily accept that some will adore him, while others will always hate him!

Remembering AS Roma’s 2001 Scudetto Triumph

When you look at the history, the size and the players that have played for the club – you’d expect AS Roma to have won more than the three Serie A titles that they’ve won in their ninety-four year history!

Their last Scudetto came in the 2000-01 season and it seemed to happen because the stars in the sky aligned themselves perfectly that year.

They had a squad full of top players and a world class manager at the helm guiding them to that championship.

Various other clubs in Italy that year could’ve thought fate would be on their side.

AC Milan had a championship winning coach in Alberto Zaccheroni, Internazionale had the legendary Marcello Lippi as their boss, Turkish great Faith Terim (who had just won the UEFA Cup with Galatasaray) was Fiorentina’s gaffer, Juventus had a well respected upstart in Carlo Ancelotti and Roman rivals Lazio had Sven-Goran Ericsson, the man who had brought them the league title the season before.

The current champions Lazio had a squad that boasted the likes of Pavel Nedved, Juan Sebastian Veron and Hernan Crespo. Juve had winners like Edwin van der Sar, Antonio Conte, Alessandro Del Piero and Zinedine Zidane. Over at Inter there was Ronaldo, Christian Vieri, Clarence Seedorf and World Cup winner Laurent Blanc. AC Milan counted on Paolo Maldini, Leonardo and a prolific Andriy Shevchenko in their ranks. Parma also had a list of who’s who that included Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram and Fabio Cannavaro.

Yet it was consistent bridesmaids Roma who would hold their nerve that season and end up with the main piece of silverware.

The Giallorossi had such a strong squad. They had majestic forwards and prolific goalscorers. Yet they also had experienced winners, gladiators and intelligent thinkers too.

Keeper Francesco Antonioli was always a bit under-appreciated in my opinion. He always seemed to be in the right place that year and showed real desire to help his team’s cause.

World class fullback Cafu was hitting his peak years (he had a lot of them). The rest of the defence was made up from the likes of the experienced Aldair, uncompromising new boy Walter Samuel, veteran Brazilian internationalist Antonio Carlos Zago and Jonathan Zebina who was a resilient player who would fill in gaps that year. French World Cup winner Vincent Candela would often give a rich balance to the defence as he’d compliment Cafu on the opposite side of the field.

In midfield, there were players in the engine-room that could be described as smart and hard-working. Damiano Tommasi and Cristiano Zanetti were two such talents. They’d give their absolute all for AS Roma and cover every blade of grass. The energetic Emerson arrived from Brazil in the summer of 2000 but had to wait until early 2001 to play in his debut. He only made fourteen league appearances in that title winning season but they came as the club looked to hold onto their lead and secure that league trophy. Then there was the versatile Uruguayan Gianni Guigou who could come in and work too.

Although midfield was often reserved for the industrious and for those that could win the ball back, you also had players in there that could change things going forward. Hidetoshi Nakata and Marcos Assunção might not have started as many games as they’d have wished that season but they’d get used at important times when Roma needed some extra creativity to turn things around. Nakata would have the vision needed to unlock defences, while Assunção could provide an extra threat from set-pieces.

In the final third, The Wolves were certainly spoiled for choice. No team would better Roma’s sixty-eight goals in that 2001 season.

Gabriel Batistuta had become a legendary Serie A scorer during his nine years at Fiorentina. But he left Tuscany for Italy’s capital in 2000 in search of the big title and he made an instant impact, scoring an impressive twenty league goals.

‘The Little Airplane’ Vincenzo Montella was another prolific forward. He’d often start on the bench to make way for Batistuta but he’d still chip in with important goals at important times.

Marco Delvecchio didn’t quite have the nose for goals that Gabriel and Vincenzo possessed but Marco was hardworking. That extra work-rate gave his side a balance up-top and that’s why he was used so often in the 2000-01 season.

Then you had ‘Il Capitano’ Francesco Totti. The talismanic leader of the team that had came up through the club’s youth set-up and who’d play over 600 times for AS Roma, he’d spend his entire career with the Giallorossi. Totti was one of the world’s best performers of this generation. He could grab vital goals, skip beyond opponents, battle warrior like defenders and provide bellissimo assists for teammates.

The glue that held all these superb talents together was gifted coach Fabio Capello. The serial winning boss changed to a 3-4-1-2 tactic, which allowed him to get the most from his attacking wing-backs and it gave Totti a license to play in the free, creative role in behind the strikers.

To get the best out of that talented squad and to get Roma over the line, you needed a determined manager who had tasted the greatest success before. Capello had all the tools to create that masterpiece of a squad and have them battling for every point possible.

Roma even looked the part. The 2000-01 kit was a super tight number made by Kappa. With an imperial red primary colour and golden yellow trims, the uniforms would have looked the part for any glorious Roman legion from the days of the empire.

La Lupa would go through that thirty-four game campaign and only lose three league games. They wouldn’t suffer two defeats in a row. They didn’t lose at home during that campaign and followed up two of those losses with victories.

Before Christmas, they’d secure a valuable 1-0 win over city rivals Lazio. In March, Roma broke Inter hearts with Montella scoring a late winner in a 3-2 home win.

As the season was climaxing, Juve were breathing down Capello and his team’s necks. The Roman’s had to travel to Turin. The home side were two goals up after just six minutes. It looked as though AS Roma were throwing in the towel. But that was never the Giallorossi way that year. Fabio decided to do the unthinkable and bring off captain Totti and replace him with Nakata. The Japanese superstar soon started to boss the game and take it by the scruff of the neck. He would capitalise on a Juventus mistake, heading towards the opposition’s goal before firing a fierce long distanced shot into the back of the net on the 79th minute. Then in injury time, Van der Sar again couldn’t cope with a right footed strike from Nakata and Montella grabbed an important last gasp equaliser from the resulting rebound.

When the final game of the season arrived, Roma had drawn their last two encounters and that meant to secure their first top flight title since the early eighties they had to beat fourth placed Parma at the Stadio Olimpico on the 17th of June 2001.

Over 74,000 fans were crammed into Roma’s boiling casa waving flags and cheering on their heroes, hoping to see them secure this historic Scudetto.

An extremely talented Parma side were all that stood between the Giallorosso gladiators and their destiny!

If the players were nervous, then they didn’t show it as Il Capitano led his team out to a cacophony of noise and colour. The golden sun was shining down on them!

Montella came close in the seventh minute, after neat play by Candela on the left, but the striker’s shot when inches wide.

Then just as the twentieth minute approached the ball ended up at the feet of Vincent Candela on the left side, just at the edge of Parma’s box. The French fullback passes the ball towards the edge of the area, Montella leaves it and an on rushing Francesco Totti hammers the ball home with a fearsome shot that threatened to takeaway the goal net.

The stadium erupts, the pressure is released!

Totti runs toward the home crowd, taking off his top and he’s soon engulfed under bodies. As he reemerges, the captain looks to the crowd and indicates that it’s all for them.

The home side then double their lead on the thirty-eighth minute. Batistuta was released on the right and he headed towards goal. As he entered Parma’s penalty area, the Argentine fired a low shot in at goal. The keeper gets down to it but he can only parry the ball into the path of Roma number nine Montella. The Italian hitman redirects the ball back towards goal with a first time finish and he takes off like an aeroplane as he celebrates going one step closer to becoming a champion.

Any attack from the opposition in that first half was thwarted by Antonioli and his backline.

As Parma start to chase the game in the second period, Roma start to pick a few holes with their counter attack play. This culminates with twelve minutes left on the clock. A long ball forward by Montella reaches Batigol, he cuts back inside the opponent’s box and he evades his marker. Gabriel then hits a low left-footed strike that beats the goalie and nestles in at the near post.

Pandemonium ensues as ultras and team officials invade the pitch to celebrate with the winning team.

Marco Di Vaio then struck a consolation for the visitors but nothing can dampen the glorious mood that has now surrounded the pitch and the terraces.

Then things became extremely chaotic as the Romans charged onto the field mistakenly believing that the full-time whistle had been blown. Players were swamped and they even had some of their Kappa gear taken off them as supporters claimed historic souvenirs. It was bizarre to see some of the club’s stars looking on bewildered in just their underwear!

That pitch invasion caused a further ten minute wait before the referee could officially blow the final whistle, finish the 2000-01 season and confirm AS Roma as that term’s rightful champs.

Francesco Totti would sum up his emotions years later:

‘There were many tears in the curva, of love and euphoria: the same ones that I saw many years later, on the Sunday of my retirement, when they were tinged with melancholy. I didn’t win much in my career. But the intensity of those few days of triumph, especially that 17 June 2001, more than makes up for any deficit. Happiness can’t be counted, it’s felt. The Roman and Romanista captain who leads Roma to the title is a concept that transcends pure sporting joy.’

Via Football Italia

Italian cuisine can be sublime. It can be made up of some basic ingredients and strong flavours. A nice dish can become a wonderful one with a touch of something special like a dash of local olive oil. You then have an experienced chef that brings it all together and the locals will flock to his place to enjoy the best of meals. I think that is an analogy that sits well with that consistent and sublime AS Roma side.

They never let anyone down, they had a squad full of hard-work, passion and intelligence. It also possessed the flamboyant game-changers that gave that something special to make the ultimate difference in big encounters. All the while they were bossed by one of the very best in Fabio Capello.

It was a year that would define a generation for The Romanista. It gave them and their great leader Francesco Totti that bit of silverware that they so craved. It showed what a strong team with a great work-ethic could do. It also vindicated Fabio Capello’s standing in world football.

BRAVO ROMA! CAMPIONI 2001.

Nathan Patterson: Rangers To Everton Makes Sense For All Involved

According to media reports Nathan Patterson is on the verge of sealing a move from Rangers to Everton (Source – Liverpool Echo).

It could end up being a transfer that suits every party.

Rangers look set to get a record fee of around £12m plus possible add-ons. That’s for a young player with plenty of potential but who has yet to establish himself as a regular first team starter at Ibrox.

Unfortunately for Patterson, Gers club captain James Tavernier has been ahead of the youngster in the queue to start as the team’s first choice right-back.

Tavernier is been a consistently fine performer in both domestic and European games for Rangers since his arrival in 2015. He provides plenty of assists and goals, he’s also become much better defensively too.

Now the thirty year old has been integral in getting Rangers back to the top of Scottish football and his performances haven’t been in any sort of decline. I doubt he’d get the same fee as Patterson but he’s already proven his worth to Gers both on and off the park. So it makes sense in the Scottish Premiership champions cashing in on the younger talent who will bring in more money.

That income will also put Rangers in a better position when it comes to facing deals regarding first team stars like Alfredo Morelos, Joe Aribo, Ryan Kent and Glen Kamara. The Nathan Patterson move won’t quell the interest in such talent but it should allow Rangers to get a price they want for those players.

Rangers as a business model will look to be bit more selling club. I believe they’ll want to bring in players and promote youth, get the best out of those players and then sell them on for a nice profit.

Everton will be getting an exciting talent and one who is extremely eager to prove himself on a regular basis.

While Patterson hasn’t made a huge amount of first team appearances, he has shown up well in European competition for Rangers and on the international stage with Scotland.

Seamus Coleman has been a terrific servant for The Toffees but the thirty-three year old hasn’t had the best of campaigns for his club this term. Patterson’s arrival would give Everton a new option for the right side of their defence.

Nathan is a player that loves to get forward and help in attack whenever possible. He’s tenacious and has plenty of energy. He has scored a few goals in his few appearances for club and country, he loves an overlap and seems to remain fairly calm when he gets hold of the ball inside the opponent’s penalty area. In that regard, the young full-back has more attacking potential than Andrew Robertson at Liverpool.

While he’s probably better when bursting forward, Patterson is capable when in defensive positions and he also brings height into the backline.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke, a former Premier League right-back himself, recently praised Nathan after a fine showing against Moldova:

“It was the performance of a young player who is going to develop into a really good player.” 

“A great finish for the goal, with good hold-up play from John, a good ball in from Billy and a nice finish with his left foot which, as a former right-back myself, I can recognise is something right-backs don’t always do!”

Via Daily Record

For the player the move makes plenty of sense too.

Most young British players have an urge to prove themselves in the Premier League and I bet Nathan Patterson wants to do the same.

At Goodison, given Coleman’s age and form, Patterson will see a clear route into the Toffees first team as long as he adapts quickly to his new surroundings. He might actually get more first team minutes earlier in Merseyside compare to Govan.

There are quite a few Scottish internationals shining in England’s top flight, again I can only see Nathan being ambitious enough to continue that recent trend.

In Everton, he’ll be joining a big club and one with plenty of tradition much like his current employers.

So all in all, I think it’s an all win scenario with Nathan Patterson leaving Rangers for Everton during this transfer window.