England Training and Press Conference - Group D: UEFA EURO 2012

Talking England, Brazil and … yes, central midfielders

Leave a comment

When it comes to England, how long have we been talking about a crowded central midfield and how best to arrange it? Since wee Stevie Gerrard was such a young figure at Anfield.

This certainly does go back to the Fabio Capello days of trying to shoehorn Frank Lampard and Gerrard (Steven Gerrard, of course) into the Three Lions midfield, or asking Gerrard to play wide on the right. Yes, that happened.

Now it’s Roy Hodgson’s job to shoehorn all the central midfielders into some kind of balanced, workable assembly. His next chance comes Wednesday in one of the high-profile friendlies – perhaps even the highest of profile friendlies – among a bunch of them around the world.

England meets Brazil on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium as part of the country’s Football Association’s 150-year anniversary celebrations.

And in the run-up to the match … yes, we will talk about England and central midfielders. Scott Parker and Gareth Barry apparently will not be part of the plan.

So Gerrard, Lampard, Jack Wilshere and Michael Carrick will be in some arrangement against the powerful Brazilians.  Says Hodgson:

You must balance your team out. You get as many of your best players in the team but if you are really very fortunate and have got four exceptional players, who play in the same position and they are all fit and ready to play, I’m afraid you have to make the choice. The mistake can be to try and include them all. But I’m not going to ask Jack Wilshere, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard or Michael Carrick to play on the right wing.”

Ferguson still being asked about Moyes: “We chose a good football man”

David Moyes Alex Ferguson
AP Photo/Martin Rickett/PA
Leave a comment

In some ways absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it seems Sir Alex Ferguson‘s life after Manchester United has been filled with second guessing.

Whether the sales of Paul Pogba and Gerard Pique or the appointment of David Moyes, “Fergie” apparently can’t rest on his title-winning laurels.

[ MORE: Tax evasion charges dropped against Messi, but not his father ]

One thing that seems to bug him more than anything, though, is the idea that he hand-picked David Moyes to be his successor, and should be responsible for his failings.

In a new documentary, Ferguson both defends the appointment of Moyes and explains the process behind his choice.

From the BBC:

“I don’t think we made a mistake at all. I think we chose a good football man,” Ferguson says. “Unfortunately it didn’t work for David.

“Jose Mourinho was going back to Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti was going to Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp had signed a contract with Dortmund, Louis Van Gaal was staying with Holland for the World Cup.”

The article also makes another key point, according to Ferguson: the manager claims he only gave United a few months notice that he’d be stepping down. That certainly didn’t provide a lot of lead time to secure a big boss.

What do you make it of it? If your answer is, “When can we stop talking about Moyes and United?” I tend to be with you, but it’s a talking point.

Tax evasion charges against Messi dropped; Case vs father continues

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2013 file photo, Barcelona F.C. star Lionel Messi, left, arrives at a court to answer questions in a tax fraud case in Gava, near Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona prosecutors are calling for the arrest of Messi's father in a tax fraud case. Prosecutors have cleared Messi of wrongdoing but are seeking an 18-month prison sentence for his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, for allegedly defrauding Spain's tax office of 4 million euros ($4.5 million) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
Leave a comment

Lionel Messi will not face charges that he and his father defrauded the government in millions of unpaid taxes, though his father is not so lucky.

Messi’s father, Jorge, could face 18 months in jail and an approximate $2.25 million fine despite a voluntary payment of $5.5 million in 2013 to “correct” the missed taxes.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

The Barcleona star had plead ignorance to the charges, something that failed to impress prosecutors. But, it apparently worked out in his favor on Tuesday.

From the BBC:

Prosecutors allege that Jorge avoiding paying tax on his son’s earnings by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay between 2007 and 2009.

Messi’s lawyers argued that the player had “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” the contracts, El Pais newspaper reported.