Craven Cottage

ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set


Birthdays of note: Longtime Liverpool marksman Robbie Fowler, who kicked around at some other addresses around his two stints at Anfield, turns 37. And Devin Barclay, the rare Major League Soccer player to go backward on the college athletic track, following his MLS career by kicking successfully for the Ohio State Buckeyes, turns 29.

Ahead on the blog today*:  Where Roberto Mancini lost the bid to unseat Manchester United; More talk on Clint Dempsey and his future address; Which teams are in line for Champions League in 2012-13, and: MLS Team of the Week and Player of the Week.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day):  Ezra Hendrickson

What we should all be watching on TV:  Chelsea vs. Fulham from Craven Cottage is Clint Dempsey’s next chance to ring the goal bell once again on his landmark season (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Big Important Story of the Day: Not that it matters anymore, but the English FA will rule soon on whether Mario “Why Always Me” Balotelli will be suspended for Sunday’s terrible tackle on Alex Song. The upshot here is this: Depending upon the length of a suspension (if one comes to pass) and whether manager Roberto Mancini is just done with it all, Balotelli could already have played his last minutes at Manchester City.

Twitter dap: Sporting Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong (@BigAfrika88), responding to followers who love the team’s creative goal celebrations: “We try :)

PST background noise while blogging today: A little sports radio, to hear what everyone is saying about Bubba Watson’s emotional Masters win.

We’ll leave you with this: Maybe it’s just me, but this practice (that so many professional teams have adopted) of shooting off little rockets on the “rockets red glare” line of the national anthem – it’s kind of cheesy, and it just never feels right. Personally, I wish everyone would cut it out.

*Always subject to change; you know how it is –

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
Leave a comment

Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
Leave a comment

Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.