Lest Toronto FC hog up all the snark and concern allocated to pro soccer in Canada today, let’s circle back to yesterday’s managerial hire at Montreal.
TSN’s Luke Wileman takes a good, balanced look at Montreal’s choice, Marco Schallibaum. That move was announced yesterday, as the longtime Swiss player and coach crosses continents to tackle a completely new challenge.
Wileman points out in his piece that Montreal president Joey Saputo wanted more of a teacher, and that Schallibaum fits the bill. And the club president wanted a coach who had mad language skills. So, check that box, too.
All of which is well and good, because those are certainly desirable qualities.
But as Wileman ticked off the general list of Saputo requirements, one was missing: MLS experience!
Does Saputo (pictured, left) have so little respect for his own league that some kind of working knowledge deserves “afterthought” status?
Does he not think that some degree of education on the special travel challenges (which almost every new player or manager mentions after coming aboard MLS) would be nice to have? Or that the unique player acquisition mechanisms are worth knowing? Or that some cultural knowledge of the American professional athlete would help in the psychology of it all?
The ultimate validation of Saputo’s choice will be in the win-loss record, I suppose. But this does raise alarm bells for me, at least.
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Norwich City’s record transfer at the time of his purchase from Sporting CP in 2013, is moving on after a largely unsuccessful four-year stint with the Canaries.
The 27-year-old has returned to his home country, moving to Vitesse Arnham – the club he went professional with as a 19-year-old. Van Wolfswinkel made his professional debut in April of 2008 with Vitesse, and now returns for an undisclosed fee.
Van Wolfswinkel came to Norwich in 2013 with much fanfare, signing for a reported fee of $11 million – a club record signing at the time.
He proceeded to score just a single goal in 25 appearances during his first season in the Premier League, with Norwich finding itself relegated. He moved to Ligue 1 on loan with Norwich in the Championship, but still managed just five goals in 28 league appearances with St. Etienne. He never made another appearance for the Canaries, instead moving on loan again Real Betis last season, but flopped there too, scoring just once in 16 league appearances.
“I debuted in professional football on behalf of Vitesse and that is something you never forget,” van Wolfswinkel said upon signing. “After several foreign adventures I look forward to returning to the Dutch fields. I hope to find my niche and want to play well and add many goals and assists for Vitesse.”
According to Friday’s edition of French publication L’Equipe, Arsenal is set to table yet another improved bid for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette should the current one of $44 million be rejected.
The Gunners have spent little this transfer window, with the capture of Granit Xhaka their only incoming purchase thus far, and it has unsettled many supporters. The club has looked to calm those fears, going so far as to claim they are unable to spend big like many others across England, but on the inside they appear ready to spend for the French frontman.
Should Arsenal submit yet another bid for Lacazette, it would be their third. An initial bid for $39 million was rejected earlier this week, the Ligue 1 side announced on Wednesday.
“The reality is that the Arsenal made an offer of £30m,” the club confirmed in a statement, “which Olympique Lyonnais did not respond to for one reason only: OL wishes to keep Alexandre Lacazette because he is irreplaceable and one of the major leaders of Bruno Genesio’s group.”
The Frenchman scored 21 goals last season in Ligue 1 play, including 11 goals in the season’s final 10 games. His total haul was second in the league behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s whopping 38.
It seems that, with this report out in public, Lyon would be silly to accept the new bid, given that Arsenal is likely to have another improved one soon to follow.
In what is often described as more of a distraction than anything for English teams, the Europa League third qualification round is under way, and a Premier League club is in danger of crashing out of the competition prior to the group stage for the third straight season.
West Ham fell 2-1 at NK Domzale, the third-placed finishers in the Slovenian league last season. Mark Noble grabbed an 18th-minute penalty, the only takeaway from an otherwise depressing road result. On the other side, 24-year-old Matic Crnic scored twice to put Domzale through.
Last season, the Hammers also dropped out of the competition in the third qualification round, to Romanian club Astra Giurgiu, although they had wins in the first and second rounds after entering the competition via fair play. In addition, Southampton also crashed out of last year’s Europa League in the playoff round to Danish side FC Mitdjylland. Hull City dropped out of the tournament two seasons ago in the playoff round.
West Ham has the opportunity to turn things around at home in a week as they host Domzale at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday, August 4 in what will be West Ham’s first competitive game in their new home.
Other notable scores from Europa League qualification include:
- Lille 1-1 Gabala FC
- Panathinaikos 1-0 AIK
- Genk 1-0 Cork
- Pandurii Targu Jiu 0-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv
- Videoton 0-1 Midtjylland
- Hertha BSC 1-0 Bronby
- AZ Alkmaar 1-0 Giannina
Gonzalo Higuain’s summer move to Juventus has not come without bad blood.
When the 28-year-old striker moved from Naples to Turin thanks to Juventus activating his release clause, it left Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis with a sour taste in his mouth. “There are those who say that talk of betrayal is an exaggeration, but I think the opposite,” De Laurentiis told Corierre dello Sport. “Because, in this decision, there is the full sense of betrayal, which also includes ingratitude.”
“We never seriously thought he would leave. Nor that he would have erased in a flash the memories of his three years in Naples.”
That didn’t sit well with Higuain, who fired back that it was de Laurentiis who drove him out of his former club.
“It was my decision to leave, but it was [De Laurentiis] who pushed me into making it,” Higuain told the media at his Juventus unveiling. “I’d like to thank the fans and my teammates, but not De Laurentiis. I no longer had a relationship with him; I couldn’t stand another minute with him.”
Higuain was more celebratory about his time at Stadio San Paulo. “These have been three amazing years,” Higuain said, “and I can only say thanks for all the love I was given, but this was a decision I took for my own reasons. I can understand that they are angry with me and I’ve seen the insults, but it is something I had to do and I’m happy about it.”
Napoli visits Turin in Serie A play on October 30, while Juventus will not travel to Naples for the return fixture until early April of 2017.