ProSoccerTalk daily soccer re-set


Soccer birthdays:

Fabrizio Ravanelli turns 44 on Tuesday. The Italian striker, capped 22 times by his country, spent the best part of his career at Juventus from 1992 to 1996, but in the English-language world, he is known for the year-plus he spent at Middlesbrough after leaving Turin.

Lured to northeast England by a £7 million transfer fee from Bobby Robson, Ravenelli went on to score 16 goals in 33 league games including a debut hat trick against Liverpool. Despite leading the team to two cup finals (losing both), Ravenelli couldn’t help keep the team in the Premier League, moving on to Marseille after Boro was relegated.

Big Important Stories of the Day:

Though we have mid-week action in England and France, Tuesday looks like slow news day. Keep your ears open for anything regarding a Rafa Marquez move. Andy Najar’s situation could be clarified, or we could be more re-signings ahead of Friday’s Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft (like LA Galaxy’s new deal with goalkeeper Brian Perk, confirmed Monday).

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day):

Steve Shak

Twitter daps:

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What you should watch on TV today:

Now trailing by five points in Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain has already dug themselves a small hole in France. Today, they visit upstart Valenciennes (fifth place) hoping to make it three wins in four. With Lyon hosting Nancy on Wednesday, PSG can expect to lose ground if they can’t take full points. Check your local listings for the 1:00 p.m. Eastern kickoff.

Background noise while blogging: 

It’s been too long since we’ve had a new episode of Community. Thankfully, the first three seasons are archived on Hulu, allowing me to go back and figure out how Jeff ended up kissing Annie at the end of Season 1 after Britta and Slater professed their love for him. Two years later, it still doesn’t make sense.

We’ll leave you with this:

We’ve been keeping tabs on it on the blog, but it doesn’t look like the Club World Cup has gotten any more traction this time around.

People always spitball ideas on how to make this tournament relevant, but it’s difficult to get many people excited about a tournament that has so few teams and games. It would have been interesting to see how 2001’s FIFA World Club Championship would have worked with 12 teams, but that competition never took place.

I can’t help but wonder if a similar structure, with more countries represented, would help grow the popularity (and significance) of the tournament.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.