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A Horse Named Stranger

Football: pool in to the Final Spur of the season

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Just now, Philokles said:

Shame Union didn’t make it. Hopefully they become the first 2. Liga side to win in the playoff for what seems an eternity.

For the record. Last second tier team to win their play-off game.

Düsseldorf 2013 against (Hertha) Berlin.

But honestly speaking neither Union nor Paderborn actually deserved to win promotion. The race for promotion alongside Köln has been so utterly pathetic this year, this was really a lower quality version of the EPL race for the CL spots (alongside Liverpool and City).

I am just happy mordor did not luck out and have to stay down for another year. Hopefully they'll feel the cuts to their budget.

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Matt Law is also reporting that Chelsea won't stand in the way of Sarri joining Juventus so long as a £5m compensation can be agreed. If the Juve links are accurate then that would be a great move and a step up for Sarri.

Romano has reported  that Conte is favourite to take over at Inter. 

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Posted (edited)

Mkhitaryan not participating in the Europa League final due to security concerns for himself and the Arsenal delegation. So fucking stupid.

Edited by Mexal

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Fun fact. In Chess they had to move a candidates tournament a few years ago (2010 I think), because Levon Aronian had similar concerns and said he would not play there. So they moved it to Kazan.

Ofc Lev has paritcipated in other tournaments there since (2015 World Cup).

Put it down as trivia, or as Mkhitaryan not really wanting to go there for security being not really surprising.

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2010 Lev did have a lot of star power, though. Those were the years where he was clear second in the rating lists.

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19 hours ago, Consigliere said:

Matt Law is also reporting that Chelsea won't stand in the way of Sarri joining Juventus so long as a £5m compensation can be agreed. If the Juve links are accurate then that would be a great move and a step up for Sarri.

After working his way through the Italian league system, it would be quite an achievement for Sarri to be called upon by the biggest club in Italy.

As for Chelsea, it would be a strange situation in which we actually get money for a manager moving on, rather than having to pay them out millions despite no longer being at Chelsea.

I can see why some rival fans look at the idea of Chelsea wanting to sack Sarri or being happy to see Juve take him as strange; I would probably think the same if I didn't support Chelsea, considering they had finished third in the league, lost the League Cup final on penalties to Man City, having knocked out Liverpool and Tottenham on the way, and reached the Europa League final. But I see it similar in the way that I looked at Louis van Gaal at Man United.

In his first season, they finished fourth, second they finished fifth, but won the FA Cup, so he had something of a success in both seasons, yet he was sacked just after winning the FA Cup. It seemed harsh from an outside perspective, but most Man United fans wanted him out. The football just didn't appeal to the fans (not that Moyes', Jose's and Ole's does). 

Apparently Chelsea haven't sent another appeal for the transfer ban. In recent weeks, we have given Giroud a new contract and David Luiz a new two year contract (despite our rule of only giving out one year deals to players over 30). It looks like the club may be accepting the transfer ban and planning for the season ahead with that in mind. 

With our current squad, we are unable to play 'Sarriball'. For 'his football' to work, we need more players that suit what he wants to do, which means signing players. If we can't do that, we aren't going to progress under Sarri. If anything, we will be worse next season, as we won't have Hazard, whose goals and assists this season added up to practically half our total (31/63).

I think the ban could be good for Chelsea. There are rumours that Petr Cech is coming in as our sporting director, but he has no experience of that. It would be beneficial, I think, if he had a year doing that job where he could only plan potential signings for the start of the 2020/2021 season rather than actually make them next season. The ban would also force Chelsea to use some of the brilliant young players we have in the loan army, but that depends on having a manager that trusts youth and will base his footballing ideas on what players he has at his disposal, as opposed to having one that has only one way of playing, and needs very specific players to play that way.

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The issue is that in getting rid of Sarri, Chelsea won't be addressing their main problem - that too many of the players are massive wankers who go on strike at the drop of a hat because they know they're likely to outlast the manager.

And what's the plan anyway, to bring in their own OGS, Fat Frank, and play The Chelsea Way? Idiotic.

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23 minutes ago, Soylent Brown said:

The issue is that in getting rid of Sarri, Chelsea won't be addressing their main problem - that too many of the players are massive wankers who go on strike at the drop of a hat because they know they're likely to outlast the manager.

And what's the plan anyway, to bring in their own OGS, Fat Frank, and play The Chelsea Way? Idiotic.

Sarri isn't the main problem, but nor are the players. The main problem is a poor management / board structure which makes it difficult for most managers to succeed for long at Chelsea.

Ideally, after last season, Chelsea would have brought in a new technical director, set out a long term plan and hired someone they could see at the club for several years. Perhaps they could have also lowered the expectations and demands for a manager with the realisation that Man City were going to be very difficult to topple and that finishing in the top four was going to be difficult given there are six strong teams trying to get into four places.

Instead, they waited until pre-season had begun to sack Conte and bring in another flavour of the month manager to come in on a short term deal (two years with an option of a third) with the remit to totally overhaul our style of play, with a group of players that don't suit that style.

Despite finishing third, our league campaign hasn’t been an enjoyable one, having suffered massive defeats such as the 4-0 away to Bournemouth and the 6-0 away to Man City. Over the course of the season, we were helped in large by Tottenham, Arsenal and Man United's poor form in the run in and having Hazard, arguably the best footballer in the Premier League. With four games to play, we were fifth, behind Arsenal on goal difference and a point behind Spurs, both of whom had played one game less than Chelsea. From there, we drew three games and won one game (6 points from 12), yet managed to finish third.

If Chelsea are okay with letting Sarri go, it isn't because he hasn't achieved his targets. As I said, the league targets should have been lowered to finishing in the top four, which we did. If Chelsea didn't have a transfer ban, we could look at it that Sarri has got us back into the Champions League with a squad that largely isn't his, so with three or four more signings suited to his style, we can try to do better next season. We can't make those signings, though, as we have a two window transfer ban. Instead, we are going to lose our best player, be able to sign no new players, leading to us having a weaker squad than we had last season, that is no better suited to 'Sarriball' than it was last season. 

If Juve want Sarri and Sarri wants to go to Juve, that may be best for both Sarri and Chelsea. Sarri gets to move onto a better club, who are able to sign players to play his style of football; Chelsea will be able to look for a manager who wouldn't mind having no new signings for all of next season and is able to integrate some of our successful loan players into the squad, which is probably why Lampard is being looked at as an option. Sarri did end up using Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi more often, but fans had been calling for him to include them regularly into the Premier League team long before he finally did.

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I think Chelsea not appealing to CAS is a sign that the board does not back Sarri. Although I do find it quite baffling that Chelsea haven't launched an appeal yet - even if Sarri leaves, the next manager is going to start off with a major disadvantage if Hazard leaves + Loftus-Cheek is out with a serious injury with some reports saying that he could miss most, if not all, of next season. An appeal is almost certain to result in the ban being delayed (this has been the result for every other club that appealed).

According to some reports, Chelsea would still be able to complete the signings of Higuain and Kovacic but there's been other reports saying that Higuain is set to return to Juve after the EL final. As for Kovacic, who knows what Real Madrid will demand - he could very well be deemed to be too expensive. Really if the worst happens and Hazard leaves + one or both of Kovacic and Higuain not signed, that would leave the new manager facing an uphill battle just to get into the top 4. 

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Meanwhile Dortmund have completed a few high profile signings.

Brandt (Leverkusen) joins for 25m € or so (release fee), N. Schulz (Hoffenheim) is also confirmed, T. Hazard (Gladbach) has also been confirmed now, fee is rumoredly way closer to 30m (or even below, kicker claims 25.5m+add-ons) than the 40m Gladbach wanted. They also signed 19 y.o. Mateus Morey from Barca on a free. The latter could be a pretty sweet bit of business for them. Morey is really immensely talented, but the left back has quite an injury history.

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9 hours ago, Rorshach said:

2010 Lev did have a lot of star power, though. Those were the years where he was clear second in the rating lists.

A bit besides the point I was trying to make, that Mkhitaryan not wanting to go there shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Other sports (for lack of a better term here) suffer the same problem, that Armenians really do not want to go and play in Azerbaijan for safety/security reasons.

That's also the very reason why it's made sure that Azerbaijan and Armenia do not meet at UEFA or FIFA qualifiers for the major tournaments.

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1 hour ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

A bit besides the point I was trying to make, that Mkhitaryan not wanting to go there shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Other sports (for lack of a better term here) suffer the same problem, that Armenians really do not want to go and play in Azerbaijan for safety/security reasons.

That's also the very reason why it's made sure that Azerbaijan and Armenia do not meet at UEFA or FIFA qualifiers for the major tournaments.

I got that point. 

I merely pointed to one possible reason why 2010 Lev made changes, while later Lev (and not-quite-holding-down-a-starting-place-at-Arsenal-Mhiki) do not. Call it a tangent.

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6 hours ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

Meanwhile Dortmund have completed a few high profile signings.

Brandt (Leverkusen) joins for 25m € or so (release fee), N. Schulz (Hoffenheim) is also confirmed, T. Hazard (Gladbach) has also been confirmed now, fee is rumoredly way closer to 30m (or even below, kicker claims 25.5m+add-ons) than the 40m Gladbach wanted. They also signed 19 y.o. Mateus Morey from Barca on a free. The latter could be a pretty sweet bit of business for them. Morey is really immensely talented, but the left back has quite an injury history.

I think the prices for Brandt and T. Hazard show that the speculation of interest by Liverpool, Spurs, etc was just an attempt to pump up the price and/or wages via the appearance of a bidding war with deeper pockets in the PL.  If PL clubs were seriously interested in either player then those prices would have lured them to participate.

There has been an emerging two-tier market for football players.  If Barca, Real, PSG, City, United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal or Spurs enquire about a player, then the price is suddenly double what would be asked of Dortmund, Juve (other than Ronaldo), Atletico, Bayern, Ajax, etc.  Even though they are all all in the same pool of CL contenders. 

If Pulisic had moved to another German team, I expect his fee would have been much lower than what Chelsea paid.  Even Bayern would not have been charged that much.  Same with Jadon Sancho: he's doing really well after his first full season.  If Bayern tried to swoop for him the price would be say 50 million.  But because he's English and appealing to PL clubs, his price would be 100 million if United, City or Liverpool made an enquiry.  If Fekir leaves Lyon this summer, will his price be as much as Liverpool was going to pay?

I guess you can say that is just effective price discrimination (in the economic sense), but it does suggest the PL teams have room to negotiate harder.

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Just now, Iskaral Pust said:

I think the prices for Brandt and T. Hazard show that the speculation of interest by Liverpool, Spurs, etc was just an attempt to pump up the price and/or wages via the appearance of a bidding war with deeper pockets in the PL.  If PL clubs were seriously interested in either player then those prices would have lured them to participate.

Not true wrt Brandt. He simply had a release fee clause in his contract that kicked in. So no matter where Brandt was heading, Leverkusen were not gonna get paid more than that. Which is way below market value.

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Posted (edited)

Brandt going to Dortmund's an interesting one. I don't follow German football particularly closely at all but I'd sort of assumed with Dortmund not winning the title this year people would think they'd missed their window. Brandt's the kind of player I'd think would be looking to make the step up to one of the really big European sides or if he doesn't see that happening this year Leverkusen qualified for the Champions League so he could just stick with them. That he's chosen to go to Dortmund's a bit of a vote of confidence in how good they're going to be next season.

ETA:

15 minutes ago, Iskaral Pust said:

If Fekir leaves Lyon this summer, will his price be as much as Liverpool was going to pay?

Well he's down to his last year of his contract with Lyon and there was all the talk of Liverpool pulling out of the deal because they weren't happy with his medical so even with all other things being equal you'd expect his price to have gone down fairly significantly.

Edited by ljkeane

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6 hours ago, Consigliere said:

A nice little piece by Ken Early in The Irish Times.

City’s domination has been bought – and they’re paying the price

Good article.  Ken Early is an insightful writer.  "more of a transaction than a triumph" pretty well sums it up, as does the weaponized angry fanbase supporting the sportswashing desired by the owners.

There have been similar comparisons lately to Gaelic football in Ireland.  For those unfamiliar: the highest tier of the sport is played at an inter-county level, but one county in particular (Dublin) has a vast and growing advantage in population and resources.  As more and more of the population, and especially young people, gets concentrated in the Dublin metro region through urbanization, the notion of inter-county competition has become ridiculous.  Dublin has won the last four championships in a row, and six of the last eight.  Prior to that they had won just once in thirty years.  Now they look invincible and getting stronger.  There's no sportswashing of a sordid regime going on, but there is a sense that there is no longer anything close to a level playing field and the competition has been ruined.  Viewership is in decline and interest is waning.  Most people watch hurling now instead because it is much more competitive (because Dublin does not have a strong culture of playing hurling, which is typically played more in the south and west).

Although I'm a football/soccer fan through and through, having playing it competitively for most of my life in addition to my unfortunate brainwashing toward Liverpool at a young age, I honestly find the NFL a more enjoyable league to follow because of the in-built parity and mean reversion.  Results of individual games are less predictable.  Any team can be a contender within a couple of years.  Reaching play-offs or winning a championship brings a headwind rather than a virtuous cycle of advantage, and every champion must innovate and find a new path to success if they want to be competitive again.  Perhaps payroll caps should be tried in football too.

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Posted (edited)

@ljkeane

Partly true. I think the point is, that Dortmund is more or less guaranteed CL football each year. I also thought Bayern would try to sign him. Anyway... Dortmund being guaranteed CL football, and Leverkusen being just "guaranteed EL with the possibility of CL" is a step up. He went from a top 4-6 club, to a top two club. That is a step up. With Leverkusen there's also some rumour about an impending exodus over the next few years. Havertz is on the shortlist of a few bigger clubs (Bayern obviously among them), and Tah is also not guaranteed to stick around there. He is a really talented centerback, who also has played top level football for a few years now and is just 23 y.o.

Edited by A Horse Named Stranger

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25 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

Not true wrt Brandt. He simply had a release fee clause in his contract that kicked in. So no matter where Brandt was heading, Leverkusen were not gonna get paid more than that. Which is way below market value.

That's why I said "and/or wages".  The player can increase his negotiating power on wages from Dortmund if they think he has a competing offer from a PL team.  Sometimes it's the selling club trying to create an auction, other times it's the player's agent.

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