Classic11 Football Blog

by Ross Jacobs - @riddley82

Hello!! Now didn’t we all enjoy the period without football. No BS from papers on who is coming and who is leaving. No awful intros from clubs on twitter unveiling their new signing. (if you haven’t seen the Rudiger one, don’t!)

So, like the first day back at school, I’m doing a sort of summer holiday report on the things I learnt so far about the transfer madness.

 

Undisclosed Fees

I hate these, I mean what are not being able to see? I’ve worked out its two things. One: the selling club don’t want to piss there fans off by revealing the meagre fee they have let a player go for, or Two: the buying club don’t want to piss their fans off telling them how much they have over payed for a player. It’s pointless anyway, 9 times out of ten we can work it out.

Maybe next time I’m in Tesco’s I don’t want how much I’ve spent shown on my receipt, and just put undisclosed on it.

 

Chelsea’s and Man City’s scouting system

How easy is it to be a scout at these clubs? Just turn Football Manager on and go ‘Oooh I see this player looks good, I’ll email Pep’

Not much thinking goes into it, another club goes in for a player and then one of these just out bid them. Back in 2013 with Bale’s fee still burning a hole on their pockets. Spurs went for Willian and more or less has sown up. Chelsea, not happy that another club may sign a player, came in and just bid a load more. Simple see.

City on the other hand just wait for other clubs to bring players through the ranks and splash the cash. Don’t agree? Walker, Jesus, Mendy, Silva and Danilo. Looking at all these one must wonder what the point of their academy is. I’ll come on to that a bit later.

 

Boring Transfers

Every summer two or three ‘transfers’ are mentioned so much by either Sky Sports news or the papers that by the end of it we barely care less.

Why can’t the buying club put a bid in, the selling club says yes or no and we move on.

For some reason, we have to be put through about 4-5 weeks of ‘you go first’ ‘no you go first’.

Now I know some gossip is just journalists bored, but there isn’t anything wrong in a manager just saying ‘no’ if a player is mentioned during a press conference. For the sake of twitter sanity this would help.

 

Genius Managers

Pep, Jose and Conte. Three managers put on the pedestal of Greatness. They Guarantee trophies…

Yes, as long as they spend.

With this in mind this puts my wife in that category. She can spend blind like no one.

I’m sure it must take years of training to spend around £300 million every season. And how must their respective Youth Mangers feel?

YM: Hey Antonio, I’ve this cracking young striker in the youth team. Scored 30 in just 25 last season.

Conte: Loan him.

YM: Yeah but he has done everything you asked for,

Conte: Loan him.

YM: But his pace is up...

Conte: Loan him.

Its pulling your hair out type stuff.

 

Neymar

Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. So while I shoo him out of my house. (How he got in I’ll never know) lets go over the biggest transfer ever.

Is it the end of the world? No

Is it due to being in Messi’s Shadow? Yes

Did it help PSG play in the same colours as Barcelona? Probably.

And lets not forget that PSG will have to balance to books somehow. Thou selling a Neymar for £140 a pop should help.

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 by Hal Walker - @HalWalker

In a summer where many argue that new head coach Ernesto Valverde must spend big to return the Catalonian giants to former glories; some would point out that Barcelona have already ticked off the most essential and pragmatic of signings to repair the most obvious of last season’s squad faculties.

In the same week that PSG unveiled Dani Alves, Barcelona have identified their replacement for Alves, a year on from the Brazilian’s departure from the Camp Nou. Alves is the contemporary yardstick by which all future Barca right-backs are to be judged, such was his legacy in his 8-year period at the club.

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The right side of defence was one of the key areas that was repeatedly exposed in an inconsistent season by Barcelona’s standards; with Alex Vidal falling out of favour with Luis Enrique and then being sidelined by a significant ankle injury; forcing Enrique to use Sergi Roberto as a makeshift right-back.

After many reports of a return for former Barcelona youth player Hector Bellerin, 23-year old Nelson Semedo has been acquired for €30m from Benfica.

Semedo fits the mould of a young Dani Alves, being a pacey, strong, attacking full-back with excellent defensive awareness. However, the young Brazilian’s career progression has been gradual and somewhat slow-burning rather than a rapid rise to stardom.

Having begun his career aged 17 at Sport Uniao Sintrense, the third division side based north west of Lisbon; Semedo earned himself a move to Portuguese giants Benfica only a year later in 2012, signing a five-year deal in the process.

After two years (with one season being spent on loan at Fatima), Semedo progressed to the first-team picture at the Estadio Da Luz by the age of 21 after Maxi Pereira’s move to Porto in the summer of 2015.

The young Brazilian has not looked back in the last two years, being an ever-present in the Benfica side of 2015/16 and receiving his first senior call-up to the Portugal team in October 2015 after a string of impressive early-season performances.

Helder Cristovao, who coached Semedo in Benfica’s B team, believes Semedo is the best long-term replacement for Dani Alves; “I think of all the players they were talking about, maybe Semedo is closest to Alves than the others…He is very fast and Barca play with a high structure and a very high defensive line…He’s very strong on the wing and he’s able to get good contributions with the players infield and on the outside”.

It must also be said that Semedo’s eye for goal is another understated quality in his game. His exceptional left-foot strike in Benifca’s away Champions League group-stage fixture at Besiktas last season is a perfect example of this.

Earning a move to the Camp Nou aged 23 years old is no mean feat for Semedo, but he must continue to develop his game at the pinnacle of the global football stage to ensure a problem area of the pitch is now one of stability, consistency and more for Ernesto Valverde and Barcelona.

As the European mass media will deservedly accolade the top European performers around the continent this season; that of Antonio Conte’s revolution at Chelsea, Monaco’s outstanding title win and Champions League efforts and even RB Leipzig’s extraordinary first top-flight season; there is another success story from the Bundesliga that has not received the same widespread coverage.

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Meet Julian Naglesmann (29), appointed as 1899 Hoffenheim coach on a permanent basis in February 2016; the youngest ever Bundesliga managerial appointment (aged 28 at the time). A truly animated touchline figure; routinely fist-clenching and arm-waving his way through every 90 minute period at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, willing his team on so.

At the time of his appointment Hoffenheim were in dire straits domestically. 17th in the table and seven points from safety, few would have criticised him at the time for making plans for life the following season in the 2. Bundesliga. Quite the opposite. A remarkable turn of form gleamed 7 wins from the final 14 games, finishing a point above the relegation play-off.

A year on and the club has been transformed. After a 0-0 home draw on the final day to FC Augsburg, Hoffenheim have finished in 4th place; just 2 points behind Borussia Dortmund and will contest a Champions League qualification play-off in August to qualify for Europe’s ultimate competition.

Naglesmann has certainly had limited financial resources to work with since his arrival. In fact, one of the key attributes to the club’s success this season has been his ability to get the best out his arguably average Bundesliga squad, particularly the likes of Kerem Demirbay and Sandro Wagner.

Naglesmann’s most lavish purchase last summer was Andrej Kramaric (£8.5m); the forgotten man of Leicester City, managed of course at the time by Claudio Ranieri.

A fringe player at best at the King Power Stadium, the Croatian made only two appearances in the Foxes’ title-winning season last year. Since his move to the Bundesliga, Kramaric has been instrumental behind Hoffenheim’s success this season with 15 league goals and 8 assists to his name.

Naglesmann should be hailed as one of the coaches of the season; not only for Hoffenheim’s impressive domestic performance but for his ability to get inside of the heads of certain first team individuals. Take Wagner as a case in point; an individual who has certainly been around the block in Germany having appeared for Duisburg, Werder Bremen (II & first team), Kaiserslautern, Hertha Berlin (II & first team) and Darmstadt since graduating from the Bayern Munich academy in 2007/08. Barely four months younger than Naglesmann, Wagner has flourished under his coach this season, having longed throughout his career for

a manager that believed in his ability. Wagner has now received a call-up to the German national side squad for the 2017 Confederations Cup this summer.

Naglesmann had worked for Hoffenheim for 5 years prior to being named as head coach of the first team. He first joined the club as an assistant coach in the academy after having his playing career cut short by chronic injuries problems. His innovative and meticulous coaching methods are reflected not only by the club’s upturn in domestic performance but by the close bond he has with his players.

Naglesmann still underlines the importance behind preserving Hoffenheim as a stable top- flight Bundesliga side and he will realise the need to keeping his young players in check. But there can be no denying the fact he is only one qualifying play-off away from leading the club into their most prominent moment of their history.

 

by Hal Walker - @HalWalker

On Monday 12th September 1994, my brother Kyle took me to my first game at White Hart Lane. Sadly, we lost 1-2 but I got to see Teddy Sheringham, Jürgen Klinsmann and others. Also, I saw the stadium to which most of my footballing hopes and dreams would normally be trampled on and laughed at by neighbours from across north London.

And for that reason, among many others, I love that place. It’s not the biggest nor the most modern, the toilets we’re never great, but it felt like a proper stadium. I remember during my first few visits to the lane I was hypnotised by the pitch. It looked perfect, the different shades of green, the pattern of criss-cross squares was something I’d only seen on TV.

Chanting was also something I loved. Laughing at the funny ones, and learning words (some very rude) that my ears had never heard before. To me White Hart Lane was perfect. Fast forward 5 years and I went to my first and sadly only north London derby. We won 2-1 and for the next 48 hours I could barely speak as my throat was to sore from shouting and saying those rude words at arsenal fans.

Below is a pic of how I dressed that day. Sadly the jester hat is lost.

That evening will stay with me forever.

I don’t get to really these days, a young family is my excuse, though my wife says I’m free to go. So, to get a more updated version of memories I asked friends and family to give me their memories of visits to the lane.

Kyle (my brother): ‘My first game was home to Man Utd in 89. I was 15 and couldn’t wait to Gazza. Typically, he got sent off and we lost. The ref that day was Vic Callow, and I’ll never forgive him. I sat in the east stand upper and sang my heart out. Years later mum said I had to take you and that took the fun out it, ha-ha’.

Nick: ‘My first game,23rd October 1982. A rite of passage, a birthday treat. A day out before my dad started chemotherapy for his first battle with the C. East Upper with the wooden seats & surrounded by skinheads who kindly sang 'happy birthday' to me when my visit was announced on the tannoy. The train journey, the small club shop, chips & the shivers. The awe. The walk to the ground, the climb up the steps, the first sighting of the pitch. Celebrating goals from Crooks, Mabbutt & Brookes. My dads on his 3rd battle with cancer, little chance he'll go again. Will be weird without him. Through the years we've had many battles & ills but we've always had one conversation breaker, one mutual love, Tottenham Hotspur, White Hart Lane’.

 

Shelley: ‘Remember being sat in the shelf upper when Teddy got sent off against Ipswich is my earliest memory. Favourite memories are: The 5-1 against arsenal, 2-1 win against

Chelsea in 2006, 4-4 vs Chelsea, 9-1 vs Wigan, the first Champions League game against FC Twente, the 3-1 over Inter in the same competition and of course Ledley’s testimonial. Also, Chris Gunter waved at me. An odd game I always remember, a league cup game against Arsenal in 2010, it was 1-1 at the end of normal time and by the end of it we had lost 1-4. About 90% of the fans had gone, but some of us stayed till the end, rolling out chant after chant after chant. Crap result, but a nice moment’.

Amanda: ‘All I can say about that place is ... it still gives me Goosebumps when I see the pitch plus I've made some of the best friends there! I'm so proud to call myself a Tottenham Hotspur supporter’.

Steve: ‘My mum worked there from the 80's. Family club. Gazza used to superglue her phone to the cradle then ring it she worked there 33 years. I got to meet many players. Gazza stabbed a biro in my back when he signed my shirt when I was 11 at a spurs party for winning the FA Cup in 1991.

My first game was when I was 6 months old, apparently, we drew 1-1 with City.’

Lee (Arsenal fan): ‘Memories as an Arsenal fan obviously when we won the league was one that sticks in the memory. From a football point of view some amazing players have graced the pitch, Hoddle was a great player but always liked Gascoigne wow he was class and even from an Arsenal fan watching him perform at white hart lane was something else’.

After the final whistle against Manchester United the bulldozers come in and knock the old stadium down. But ask any of these fans, probably not the Arsenal fan ha, and the memories of watching their heroes in the flesh. The cheesy thing now would to do some

‘Greatest ever 11’ but I’d need another 3-4 months to come up with a team built around Gazza.

I want to thank the people above who gave me their stories and shared pictures. And leave the last bit to Steve, who sent me this:

About the stadium. It doesn't matter who you’re sitting next to during a game. Race religion country, if you're spurs you're Spurs. When you score: miss. Whatever. He's feeling the same as you. And you end up hugging and celebrating together. We are more than just a club

It has been a testing season for the fans of West Ham United. After bidding farewell to their beloved Upton Park in a campaign where the Hammers almost earnt a Champions League qualification berth, their fans have this year had to become accustomed to new, contrasting and somewhat alien surroundings at their new home at The London Stadium.

Whilst that was never going to be an easy transition, the fruition of their football played in Slaven Bilic’s second season has become the more alarming agenda in East London in recent months. Questionable tactical decisions, an alarming rate of losing games from winning positions, lack of attacking outlets in the team and a very disjointed look to West Ham’s first x11 has resulted in this season proving every bit as uninspiring and anticlimactic as last year’s was exhilarating.

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Sitting in 15th place in the Premier League on 39 points, the Hammers appear to have just about secured safety for next year, any other outcome would simply have been a financial calamity with serious implications for the club to ponder in the new stadium. However, one win in the last eleven games doesn’t signify progress for a side that were riding the crest of a wave last year and claimed the scalps of Man Utd, Tottenham, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool (the last three away from home).

There is a considerable degree of sympathy to be had for Bilic in this difficult season of transition; particularly the 2016 summer transfer window which significantly highlighted the somewhat haphazard recruitment policy at the club. 9 incomings were signed last summer (to improve the squad size in preparation for the Europa League); from 5 different European leagues with only Andre Ayew and a 34-year old Alvaro Arbeloa boasting any Premier League experience. Not only have the majority of the recruits failed to settle, the squad chemistry and unity has been affected, so much so that last season’s star-man Dimitri Payet saw fit to demand a transfer back to his previous club Marseille; a mutiny which the club could only make way for, receiving £25m in January for Payet in the process.

Another cause for bemusement among West Ham fans is the tactical choices in most of Bilic’s squad selections; frequently opting to play experienced players out of position such as the likes of Havard Nordtveid and Jonathan Calleri rather than playing younger squad members like Sam Byram and Ashley Fletcher in their natural positions. Only last Saturday in their 0-0 away draw at Stoke, West Ham’s main attacking threat Andre Ayew was withdrawn on 69 minutes with no signs whatsoever of any injury for Mark Noble. Ayew’s clear bemusement at the substitution verified this.

It must be pointed out that this isn’t the first time a Slaven Bilic side has waned in the final furlong of a season. In 2014/15 at Istanbul club Besiktas, the Black Eagles had spent much of the campaign at the top of the table, but flagged badly in the final third of the season and eventually finished third (eight points behind the eventual champions Galatasaray). Besiktas

have in fact gone from strength-to-strength since his exit, currently on course for a second straight Super Lig title in Turkey.

West Ham have three ominous looking fixtures before the owners will review Bilic’s position at the end of season; Tottenham and Liverpool to visit the London Stadium on the 5th and 14th May respectively along with a tough final-day away fixture at Turf Moor. Three fixtures that despite not being so domestically crucial given West Ham’s virtually assured safety, will do so much to shape their future and direction from the dugout. Much to ponder for David Gold & Sullivan.

So, it’s now back to 4 points and with 4 to play. Twitter has gone mad and both Chelsea and Tottenham fans are in overload. Many will come up with their own formulas on how the season will end. But for this piece I want to focus more on my beloved Spurs.

We were never supposed to be in this position, our squad relied heavily on Kane to score and a lack of quality signings meant a top 5 or 6 position would mean at least we kept in touch with the power houses. Pep was in town and Man City would be playing the sort of football only witnessed in those Barcelona hey days. Jose would turn United into a winning machine and Chelsea and Liverpool would fight Arsenal, thou in slight decline, for the other champions League spots.

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Yet at White Hart Lane the relatively young Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino knew he had assembled a tight knit 15-16 players. Rumours were back in July Son was on his way, I hoped this wasn’t true as he had an engine and the knack of scoring the odd important goal.

Luckily no one major left in the summer of ’16 and gave me hope for a push for the top 4. Fast forward to today’s win against Arsenal in the north London derby and we have shown what can happen on trusting players who have potential and some shrewdness from board level.

Never have we had a budget to compete with the likes of Chelsea, United and Manchester City. Yet nor can Spurs expect to continue at this pace of spending and expect to stay at this level. But the flip side is you can’t just go throwing money at the problem. A chink in the armour of Poch came on deadline day in September when Sissoko of Newcastle became available and on route to Everton. Should have let him go there, as we got sucked in to his performances at Euro 2016 for France. Luckily, we had Harry Winks on hand to provide some midfield cover and more youth to a young team.

My feelings are that not enough trust in put in young English players. Nothing brings a crown together than seeing a local lad give his all on the pitch. When Winks scored against West Ham at the Lane this season, the joy on everyone’s face was great. Whether it directly had a bearing Kane scoring the winner late late on I very much doubt. But it still gave the crowd a lift in an unique way.

I have no doubt the other clubs will spend heavy in the summer like someone who has gone edit crazy on Football Manager. Names already mentioned James Rodriguez, Morata, Lukaku, Griezmann and Matuidi. Yet all this proves is that they haven’t learned from previous years.

Paul Pogba, Ozil and Claudio Bravo should all be warnings that thou having the players name on papers may make others stand up, it can take a while to get used to the style and pace of the English game.

But again, this could be Tottenham’s undoing. I tweeted foreign football reporter Mina Rzouki to see if European players were uneducated about Spurs and therefore would choose to go elsewhere, cos the money was more and the status of the club was perceived to be bigger. She said yes.

Tottenham need a good run in next seasons champions league. This should help their stature in attracting higher level of player. Even to pad out a squad high in effort and skill but low on what the England rugby team call ‘finishers of the bench’.

But to call a semi-final in the FA cup, second in the league (I hope), and a first season back in the champions league a failure, then I can’t wait for what a successful season looks like.

I asked two mates, one a Newcastle fan the other a Liverpool fan three questions. Best thing about your club? Worst thing? And would they swap their season for Spurs’. Both said the passion of their club’s fans and atmosphere of both Anfield and St James’ Park was top. And the worst was pretty much the frustration of not winning silver wear and other ‘smaller’ clubs were running away with trophies. Neither mentioned the amount of their highest transfer fees but their teams’ inability to string results together.

Both these teams I chose because the local area should mean more to them like at spurs. And I really do hope Mr Klopp and Mr Benitez can bring some success for these guys to cheer.

Going forward I hope that the move to Wembley for one season doesn’t ruin us. It will be different, but we should enjoy it. Get the pitch size to our specifications and go from there.

Two top four finishes in a row is a foundation to build on, and any Spurs fan reading this should back the team and not celebrate what we have done. It’s only just started.

It’s the day of the year where everyone’s encouraged to wear their football shirts to work – and donate £2 to help beat bowel cancer, the illness which ended World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore’s life at just 51.

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All you have to do is simply wear your football shirt to work, and donate £2 to Cancer Research - that's it!

“No matter who you support, our only opposition on this day is bowel cancer,” says FA chief executive Martin Glenn. “Bowel cancer is the second biggest killing cancer and 44 people every day die of bowel cancer in the UK, the equivalent to four football teams.

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