Our European guru educates and enlightens
There’ll be no more "Gnomes of Zurich" gags after matchday two of the UEFA Champions League, a round of games which also saw Rubin’s Argentine striker Alejandro Dominguez score his 11th goal in 10 games, making you wonder what Dick Advocaat didn’t see in him.
While Stevan Jovetic gave the best performance by a Montenegrin in this tournament since Dejan Savicevic hung up his boots.
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The perils of Silvio
That faint whirring noise you hear is the sound of Silvio Berlusconi back-pedalling as his campaign to make Leonardo the new Guardiola runs into trouble.
It's ludicrously early to judge the Brazilian’s coaching prowess but a meltdown at Milan could do more to undermine Berlusconi’s premiership of Italy than the scandals that have titillated the foreign press.
Berlusconi’s bedrock support in Italy doesn’t pay a great deal of attention to the outside world and would probably reject any aspersions cast on Berlusconi by foreign journalists just out of indignant patriotic pride.
But in a country that takes football more seriously than politics, if the vaunted Rossoneri do crumble the damage to Berlusconi’s image as a "can do" kind of guy could be immense.
Hence the feverish speculation that Marco van Basten may take over. But even the Dutchman would struggle to get the best out of Ronaldinho.
That task, as Gabriele Marcotti noted on ITV, can only be performed by someone with a time machine at the bottom of their garden.
Morris, Baldini and Anderson
Franco Baldini, probably the best football scout in Europe, says the only way you can truly judge a footballer is to watch him in person – to watch their team-mates’ body language and understand what they really think of him.
You didn’t have to be Desmond Morris to decipher the signals Anderson was being sent by team-mates when Manchester United played Wolfsburg, especially when he passed to an offside Rooney in the box with Giggs, onside, out wide.
The Brazilian’s inconsistent decision-making left United misfiring in midfield.
On Wednesday, United were sparked into life by Berbatov, whose speed of thought and passing put his Brazilian team-mate to shame.
Kings of contrariness
Dutch coaches can be funny buggers. Dominguez has now scored in his last 10 games for Rubin.
The grace, skill and speed with which he took his goal against Inter deepens the mystery about his marginalisation at Zenit St Petersburg by Dick Advocaat, the coach who had campaigned for his signing.
Such a quixotic approach is reminiscent of the Dutch coach’s treatment of Gennaro Gattuso. The Italian left Rangers in 1998 because, he says, “Advocaat told me I was just a kiddie and had to play at right-back.”
How Rangers could do with Gattuso’s classy tenacity in midfield.
The misuse of Gattuso recalls Johan Cruyff’s stubborn determination to play Gary Lineker, the Inzaghi of the '80s, on the wing at Barcelona.
Because Lineker couldn’t do everything well but could do one thing – score goals – very well, Cruyff exiled him to the flanks in sheer disgust.
But the king of Dutch coaching contrariness is Co Adriaanse.
The manager known affectionately as Psycho Co because of his idiosyncratic approach to training – he once notoriously ordered AZ players to hunt for Easter eggs before revealing that he hadn’t actually hidden any – ignored playmaker Diego at Porto.
The Brazilian left for Werder Bremen, was voted player of the Bundesliga in his first season and moved to Juve for four times the fee Porto received.
Diego wasn't the only Brazilian to leave Porto under Adriaanse's watch.
It probably made sense to get £1.9m for a striker who, distracted by the kidnapping of his mother, had only scored three goals in 22 games in 2004/05. But Sevilla must be glad they took a risk on Luis Fabiano.
Adriaanse didn’t coach Ajax for very long, but his reign in 2000/01 is best remembered for hardly playing the young Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mind you, any coach who can call a club chairman a “talking lampshade” can’t be all bad.
Stuttgart’s stuttering helps Rangers
On matchday one, Stuttgart had a hatful of chances against Rangers, went 1-0 up and snatched a draw from the jaws of victory.
They did the same in Bucharest against Unirea. Their 1-1 draw was the only good news on a dismal night for Rangers who didn’t have the luck or, in the second half, the quality to deny Sevilla.
Four points from back-to-back games against Unirea is the minimum if Walter Smith’s team are to make the last 16.
Still, with Sevilla in such imperious form the runners-up in Group G could progress with as few as seven points.
Liverpool were undone by the Montenegrin Messi (Stevan Jovetic) while Dynamo Kyiv could console themselves with the thought that they were beaten by the original.
Sadly, the Greek Messi – Vasilios Koutsianikoulis – hasn’t featured in this tournament yet because he plays for PAOK, not Olympiacos.
And the Italian Messi, Sebastian Giovinco, is having the “pressure taken off him” with a spell on the Juve bench.
The English Messi hasn’t lit up the Champions League because there isn’t one. (Though you might, like Sir Alex Ferguson, believe Wayne Rooney can grow into that role.)
This seems a tad unfair as Barcelona have two: Leo, the European Footballer of the Year in waiting and Gai Assulin, the 18-year-old Israeli attacking midfielder who has scoring freely for Barcelona B.
In a few years, Spain could house three Messis, with Leo, Gai and Marko Marin, Werder Bremen’s 20-year-old attacking midfielder – aka the German Messi – who has already indicated, as footballers do these days, that he’d like to play for Real Madrid one day.
A Google search suggests that there may be some national typecasting here.
New Messis usually hail from Latin countries. I have yet to unearth a Messi from Scandinavia (feel free to tell me otherwise).
Even the German Messi, Marin, is of Bosnian Serb descent. So it seems unlikely a player will ever be dubbed the Icelandic Messi.
Just as, sadly, I have never yet heard of a player being dubbed the Brazilian Norman Hunter.
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It's amazing that you know Koutsianikoulis :) Bravo from Greece
<a href="http://www.antiopap.com">pame stoixima</a>
The English Messi? Why, Jack Wilshere of course. And I was convinced Hleb was going to become our current Messi at Arsenal before he left to scrub Messi's boots at Barca. Shame.
Scandinavia houses few midgets, so we'll probably never get a Messi here - unless its an immigrant, of course.
What a pointless blog, why are people so obsessed with 'the next whoever'?! Grow up and deliver something worth reading.
Icelandic Messi? I'm still waiting for the Fijian Messi to emerge...
how do you rate muller of baern munich, and oezil of werder?
how do you rate mesut ozil of werder bremen
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