Archive for April, 2011

With Bob Houghton resigning on Saturday evening,  Indian Football is at a crossroads again as to who will be the next man to try and take the game forward in the country. Sources say that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will again look for a foreign coach to take over but after the fiasco surrounding Houghton’s resignation, will anyone actually come forward?

We take a look at some of the candidates in the running for the job:-

1.) Philippe Troussier

Philippe Troussier

The 56 year old former French footballer nicknamed the,”White Witch Doctor” is known for his astonishing success with African Club teams such as Asec Abidjan and the national teams of Nigeria, South Africa and Bukina Faso. He has experience of coaching in Asia as well as the Head Coach of the Japanese National team from 1998-2002, a period in which they won the 2000 AFC Asia Cup, 2nd in the FIFA Confederations Cup and reached the round of 16 in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Troussier, if appointed, will definitely provide a sense of excitement to both players and fans of the Indian Football team. However, after the controversies surrounding Indian Football in the last year, he might be wary of taking the job.

Troussier was linked with the job after the 2011 Asian Cup when some AFC officials allegedly recommended him to AIFF officials.

2.) Karim Bencherifa

Karim Bencherifa

The ex-Churchill Brothers and Mohun Bagan coach and current Salgaocar SC coach has been extremely successful in the I-League with each club he’s headed. He’s turned I-League struggler’s Salgaocar into Championship contenders and is very highly thought of by the AIFF. His strong connections with players India and familiarity with the facilities available will give him an advantage. He has also unearthed some hidden gems like R.Vashum and Robert Lalthamla who will be future stars for the National team.

3.) Armando Colaco

The current Dempo SC coach is one of the most successful coaches in India. He’s transformed Dempo into the top club in India and has even led them to the AFC Asia Cup Semi-Finals in 2008.

Sunil Chetri and Baichung Bhutia, the two icons of Indian Football, reacted with disappointment and shock to Bob Houghton’s resignation last night. Bhutia was distressed by the news and called Houghton the “best coach he had worked under”. He also stated that the allegations of racism leveled against Bob Houghton were completely baseless.

AFC Challenge Cup Winners

Bhutia believes whoever comes in next to become the Head Coach of the Indian Football team will have a hard time stepping into Bob Houghton’s shoes because of the success enjoyed under him.

Bob Houghton resigned on Saturday evening, ending a 5 year tenure which brought India 3 trophies and put them back on the Asian stage by playing in the AFC Asia Cup after 27 years.

Bob Houghton’s roller coaster ride as Indian football coach came to an abrupt end on Saturday  after a bitter stand—off with the AIFF, which had charged him with racism.

A press release from the AIFF said that the racial abuse charges against Houghton have been dropped due to lack of concrete evidence. The coach has decided to quit due to personal reasons.

Nothing has been said about the compensation due to Mr. Houghton as his contract was due till 2013.

Bob Houghton with Bhutia

Under Bob Houghton, the Indian team has been very successful winning two Nehru Cups, an AFC Challenge Cup but most importantly qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2011 for the first time in 27 years where they showed glimpses of brilliance.

Houghton’s final assignment was a successful one with India qualifying for the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 in style, topping their group.

Houghton was one of the most popular Indian coaches with both fans and players supporting him and his resignation has left them fearing the worst.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) released a press statement today stating that the federation has taken “strong exception” to Sunil Chhetri’s remarks against the National Federation on the issue of Nation Team Coach Bob Houghton via twitter. AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das condemned Chhetri’s statement and said, “The AIFF is extremely perturbed and concerned that National Team players are making such unnecessary comments relating to AIFF’s functioning and on the issue of coach Bob Houghton as well.”“The matter will certainly be discussed at AIFF’s next Executive Committee meeting and action may be taken, if necessary.”

Sunil Chhetri

On Tuesday Sunil Chhetri tweeted:  “thinking and analysing everyt. that bob has done for us,infact football in india, can’t thank him enough!it ll be a shame if he has to leave N even worse,we charge him for racism, havnt seen a gentleman like him,leave behind d world class coaching n vast knowledge…sorry bob!”

Sunil Chhetri has been at the center of the support Bob Houghton enjoys with the National players and staff and his outburst condemning the AIFF has not gone unnoticed by the authorities.

Roy Hodgson’s disastrous 6 month reign came to end in January, after he left the club by mutual consent. The owners, immediately, appointed the 59 year old Liverpool Icon Kenny Dalglish as its Caretaker Manager till the end of season.
Things have gradually improved,both on and off field for the club. Under Dalglish, the club has earned 23 points from 12 games, as compared to 25 points from 20 games under Roy Hodgson. Going by the points per game, if Dalglish had been appointed at the start of the season, Liverpool would be sitting in the Top 4 right now. The fans want Dalglish to be appointed on a permanent basis.

However, there has been no clear response from the owners to this demand. Tom Werner,chairman, said that Dalglish is certainly one of the candidates. In this article, we attempt to look at and analyse the possible candidates for the post of Liverpool Manager.

1.) Kenneth Dalglish

Dalglish

He used to be the best striker of the League in the 80s. He became
Liverpool’s first(and currently,only) player-manager in 1985. In his
tenure as manager, he won 10 titles for the club. He has also had
successful stints with Blackburn Rovers (1995) and somewhat less successful stints with Newcastle (1997-98) amd Celtic (1999-2000).

According to critics,Kenny is more of a motivator rather than a tactician. However, after Liverpool’s recent revival. one cannot question his methods. His age can act as a drawback as he won’t fulfill the owners’ “long term” criteria, he is still the crowd favourite and the best bet to takeover as permanent manager of Liverpool. His infusion of players from the Academy into the senior set up will also aid the club in its long term objectives.

2.) Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho

The self proclaimed “Special One” has won 2 UEFA Champions League titles with two different clubs. Since 2002, Mourinho has not gone a full season or a calendar year without winning at least one trophy. Mourinho has been a successful manager at FC Porto,Chelsea and Inter Milan. He has yet to win a title with his current club Real Madrid, but is in the final of the Copa del Ray and the Semi Final’s of the Champions League (Both ties against Barcelona).
However, after reports of a fallout between Mourinho and the Real Madrid Board, Mourinho stated that he is open to the idea of a possible Premier League return. Mourinho is a smart tactician and a brilliant strategist. He is 48 and
hence,quite young. However, his tendency to spend and his controversial nature might act as a deterrent to his appointment by theLiverpool board.

3). Andre Villas Boas

A former significant member of Mourinho’s coaching staff, Andre Villas Boas did wonders with a relegation battling side Academica. Under him, the weak side went to the semis of the Portugese League Cup in 2009-2010. He is currently the

André Villas Boas

manager of F.C Porto,once managed by his mentor Jose Mourinho. With an impressive win record at both-Domestic and Europe- Boas is tipped to be the biggest competition to Dalglish.  He’s beaten Mourinho’s record at Porto by going 36 matches unbeaten in all competitions (33 under Mourinho)
The current owners of Liverpool,FSG, are known to give opportunities to young and relatively unknown faces. They appointed an inexperienced and young Theo Epstein as the General Manager of Boston Red Sox
Baseball Club. The Red Sox have,since performed exceptionally well. With rival clubs like Manchester United,Real Madrid and Machester City already eying him, the owners will really have to think over this 33
year old “boy genius”.

4.) Martin O’Neill

He was the bookies’ favourite to succeed Gerard Houllier and then Rafa Benitez One of the best motivators in the game, he is known to bring out the best in his players. He is an economical manager and is best known for his 5 years with

Martin ONeil

Aston Villa. Under him,Villa became the most consistent team in the Premier League and one of the “dark
horses”. Though,his chances are very less, the owners will definitely consider him.

Other potential candidates could be Guus Hiddink,Owen Coyle,Didier Deschamps,Louis van Gaal,Frank Rijkaard and a possible return of Rafael Benitez, who still remains a fan’s favourite.

NOTE:- We’d like to thank Indroneil Biswas for writing this article for TheFootballGig.

Ji Sung Park might possibly be Sir Alex Ferguson’s best signing in the last 6 years. The former South Korean Captain has always been overshadowed by his marquee teammates Cristiano Ronaldo (Now at Real Madrid) and Wayne Rooney, but he embodies the spirit that drives the Red Devils towards becoming the most successful club in England. Singled out for his big game goals, what often escapes the media’s glance is how integral Park is tactically to Manchester United.  Park has an uncanny habit of scoring in the big games, a look at his record against Arsenal only confirms this. Add to that important goals against Chelsea, Liverpool and even Wolves this season, help keep the momentum firmly with Manchester United in the title race.

Ji Sung Park

A workhorse with exceptional skill and versatility across the midfield, Park has earned praise and respect from everyone of the Clubs staff, signified by him being made captain against Lille in a Champions League game in 2005, the first Asian to do so.

Having already helped Manchester United to 3 league titles, Park’s desire and dedication to doing his best for the Red Devil’s will only increase the size of the trophy cabinet at Old Trafford and underline his status as a Manchester United Legend.

Starting today we’ll be featuring teams from all over Europe and India, discussing their “ideal” transfer activities in the upcoming Summer Transfer window.

Kicking this feature off is Arsenal Football Club who have been under the microscope for the past few seasons due to their failure to perform under pressure and always fading at the last hurdle.

                                                                        ARSENAL

Arsenal Football Club is on track for their 6th trophy less season due to at times comical goalkeeping and the teams inability to perform under pressure. Although this season was a big improvement over the last, with the immense talent at their disposal the club should be ending this season on a high with at least one piece of silverware (Mathematically their still in the running for the title but at the moment it’s Manchester United’s to lose).  The primary reason for their failings this season is the lack of leadership and determination in the team. Compared to the “Invincibles” side of 2003-2004, the character of the current squad falls short by a considerable margin. A defence marshaled expertly by Sol Cambell, assisted by Lauren,  Kolo Toure and Ashley Cole and with Martin Keown in the wings to add experience, a midfield consisting of Viera, Ljunberg, Gilberto and Pires and the exceptionally talented duo of Bergkamp and Henry up front, this Arsenal Squad terrorised teams throughout the Premier League.

The Invincibles

A lack of local talent (with the exception of Wilshere) has probably lessened the desire and determination to win for Arsenal. English players provide you with a sense of passion which cannot be replaced by a foreign player. The obvious need for a competent Goalkeeper apart, Wenger should look at signing English talent to inject some passion into the squad.

Goalkeeper

Buying a world class goalkeeper is a top priority for Arsenal as every Championship winning team has a keeper they can depend on day in day out (Van Der Sar at Manchester United, Cesar at Inter, Casillas at Madrid). Szczęsny, while performing exceptionally in the games he has played, is still young and Wenger may consider loaning him to a fellow Premier League club to speed up his development.

Shay Given would be an ideal signing for the club as he is one of the best shot stoppers in the Premier League and is unlucky to be on the bench at Manchester City. Due to his obvious unhappiness at City, he shouldn’t cost above £7 million and would be a steal.

Shay Given

Hugo Lloris is undoubtedly one of the best young keepers in the world at the moment but his price tag (Above £20 million) might scupper the deal.

Other options available to Arsene Wenger include Carlos Kameni(Espanyol), Pepe Reina and David De Gea, with the latter two deals being unlikely due to their high price tags.

Defence

Gary Cahill

The lack of a leader in defence is apparent to everyone. The Gunners need a young center back who can dominate striker’s and compliment Vermaelen as his partner.

Gary Cahill (25) and Phil Jagielka (28) have been exceptional at the back for their respective clubs and will probably be targeted by a lot of big clubs this summer. However, due to the inflation in prices of British players, Arsenal may turn their attention to young European talent such as Mamadou Sakho (21) who has been linked with every major club this season.


Midfield

While Wilshere and Fabregas are two of the best central midfielder’s around in the world today, asking Wilshere to protect the defence to accommodate Fabregas does not bring out the best in this team. Diaby, Denilson and Song although talented are not consistent in their performances.

Scott Parker

Scott Parker has been a revelation for West Ham United in the past 2 seasons and would be an excellent signing for the Gunners, providing steel to the midfield and enabling Wilshere and Fabregas to overrun the opposition’s midfield. An excellent distributor of the ball, strong tackler and an eye for the odd spectacular strike, Scott Parker would definitely improve the Arsenal midfield but his age (30) might act as a stumbling block.

Another option is the young French player Yann M’vila, who has been earning rave reviews from the critics for his performances this season. He will probably be an ideal signing for Wenger as he is only 20 and will be able to mould his game according to Wenger’s preference.

Keeping Fabregas from Barcelona’s clutches is also a priority for the club.

A striker shouldn’t be a priority for Arsenal as Van Persie, Chamakh, Walcott and Arshavin can trouble any defence in the world on their day.

Ideal Formation for next season:-

------------------------------------------- Van Persie----------------------------------------------
Nasri-------------------Wilshere-----------------------------Fabregas---------------Walcott
-------------------------------------------Parker--------------------------------------------------
Clichy------------------Vermaelen--------------------------------Cahill--------------Sagna
--------------------------------------------Given--------------------------------------------------

Keeping Fabregas a priority

Players to be sold:-

Diaby- Looks disinterested on the field

Almunia- It’s tough to pick out one reason…

Denilson- Surplus in a packed midfield

Let us know who you think Arsenal should sign!

NOTE:- We’d like to thank Anmol Chowdhry, a massive football enthusiast for writing this feature for us.