Votes of confidence aside, how much more can Frank Klopas take in Chicago?

Leave a comment

I believe club presidents and owners when they say, in whatever various form it takes, “My coach ain’t going anywhere. He is my guy.”

I generally believe they are earnest in those sentiments – although I do personally know of exceptions, when an owner or GM was publicly spewing frothy support while already in double top-secret negotiations with a successor. Still, laying all my valuable journalistic cynicism aside, I do generally believe the deciders when they insist that axes are not being sharpened and that severance packages are not being assembled for managers who are obviously struggling.

BUT … I also know things change. Weight, being what it is, tends to increase exponentially. So not only do things change, they tend to shift in a hurry.

So we turn to the Chicago Fire, where things are just plain awful.

Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon told MLSSoccer that he still has tremendous faith in Frank Klopas and continues to value the manager’s deep attachments with Chicago’s 15-year-old Major League Soccer club.

I strongly believe in having a coach — and I think the ownership feels that way too — that has so much invested in the city. Believe me, nobody feels worse than Frank in terms of the results thus far. He has so much invested in the city, and he has so much invested in the team, being part of the team, having the history that he had. From that standpoint, clearly he’s focused on making the right adjustments in order to get us on the right path.”

We’re getting a lot of this these days in MLS. Mike Petke was selected for New York because, at the risk of oversimplification, Petke is New York soccer.

Still, deep connections only get you so far. Klopas cannot possibly survive much more of what we’ve seen around Toyota Park.

Chicago, idle in league play, meets Minnesota in a weekend friendly. Next up for official competition is an April 4 meeting with New York. If Klopas’ and Co. cannot get all three points in that one, his team will be winless in three matches at Toyota Park to begin the year – a season where most pundits picked the Fire to make the playoffs and perhaps to make some noise once there. (I raise a humble hand here.)

It’s difficult to see a change not forthcoming if such a thing comes to pass.

Errors down, penalty kicks up after introduction of VAR in Italy

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The implementation of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in Italy has been controversial, but according to a look at the statistics, it has for the most part done its job to fix clear and obvious errors.

Italian sports paper Gazzetta Dello Sport compiled all the times VAR has been used through 346 matches, 330 in Serie A and 16 in the Coppa Italia. There were 1,736 checks (916 goals, 464 penalties and 356 red cards) with 105 corrections and just 17 errors where the referee and assistant made the wrong decision. Eight of those errors did affect the result, which is an issue that will surely be addressed by the Italian officiating organization.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

But overall, Gazzetta found that in the VAR era, referee errors only amounted to 0.98 percent during a match, as opposed to 6.03 percent in the past. In addition, fouls are down 8.8 percent, red cards are down 6.4 percent, and yellow cards are down 14.7 percent. On the flip side, penalty kicks are called 4.3 more percent of the time.

The Premier League voted recently not to add VAR to its league matches next season, while top leagues in Germany, Italy and in Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League continue to use it.

Report: New Arsenal manager will have small budget to re-shape squad

Getty Images
1 Comment

Whoever takes the helm as Arsenal’s next manager will have to do some math gymnastics this summer to stretch every penny available.

According to a report from The Telegraph, Arsenal is giving Arsene Wenger‘s successor a little less than $70 million to work with in this summer’s transfer market, citing back-to-back transfer windows with club-record signings (Alexandre Lacazette last summer and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January) and three raises given to players. Arsenal paid around $78 million alone to sign Aubameyang and around $65 million for Lacazette.

[READ: UCL Preview: Liverpool vs. Roma]

That means whoever comes in next to lead Arsenal will likely have to sell one or two players this summer to raise additional money for world-class signings.

For the last decade, Arsenal has been crying out for a new pair of centerbacks and a holding midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira. In addition, with Petr Cech getting older, the prospect of needing a new goalkeeper is also on the horizon.

Luckily for Arsenal, they seem to be just fine up front. From Aubameyang and Lacazette to Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey, the club has the talent to challenge for a title next season in that department.

A dozen different names have been bandied about as to who will be Arsenal’s next manager, with out-of-contract and former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique reportedly on the shortlist. Vieira, former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, Germany National Team coach Joachim Low, Juventus boss Max Allegri and Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsman have all also been linked with the job.

Tunisian player who collapsed in Spain regains consciousness

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Spanish third-division club Toledo says a Tunisian player who collapsed from heart failure during practice 10 days ago has regained consciousness.

The club says doctors removed sedative medication and Lassad Nouioui was responding well to treatment on Monday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

They will consider removing the 32-year-old Nouioui from the intensive care unit if his condition keeps improving. Nouioui has played for a number of clubs during his 14-year professional career, notably a four-year stay at Deportivo La Coruna and a one-year spell with Celtic.

Nouioui collapsed on April 14.

The game against Real Madrid B the following day was postponed because of the problem with Nouioui.

FIFA force pace on $25B Club World Cup, global league plan

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
1 Comment

GENEVA (AP) FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.

FIFA says President Gianni Infantino hosted a meeting last Friday with invited officials from some top European clubs.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Walcott strike ]

The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.

UEFA has also proposed a Global Nations League. A similar project is tied to the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia and China.

FIFA says it’s holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”

Infantino is set to meet confederation presidents and general secretaries “in the near future,” FIFA says.