Ryan Nelsen

A nice, balanced approach for TFC’s Ryan Nelsen

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No one should question whether rookie Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen will have the requisite fire and desire to head up an MLS club. His leadership as a player at D.C. United a bunch of years ago, in England subsequently and all along for New Zealand internationally speaks for itself.

Now carrying the coach’s whistle, the man will surely insert a boot up someone’s backside when the situation says so.

That’s why I like the reasoned, balanced approach Nelsen presented after Saturday’s disappointing result against the Galaxy. It wasn’t “disappointing” because it was a draw, a 2-2 result at BMO Field. The bummer was in the way things unfolded, with a defensive mistake for Nelsen’s club abetting a Galaxy stoppage-time equalizer. Thus, a potential three points against the two-time defending champs, a moment to celebrate and build upon, splintered in an instance into single point.

It would have been easy for Nelsen, in the emotional post-game aftermath, to make an example of all this, to blow his Kiwi top like some cartoon figure, stacking the rants about how this is unacceptable and how such things won’t happen on his watch … you know, all the usual stops along the Coaching Platitude Express.

Rather, Nelsen said the following when asked about something that looked way too familiar around BMO, the inability to close out a match. He took the bigger view of a young team growing into something rather than the narrow look at a moment in time in March, the first month of a long eight-month regular season.

Is it déjà vu when you draw with the MLS Champs? I don’t even think about last year. Late goals happen. They throw numbers in the box and balls go in. It’s not an indictment of this team. Nobody is blaming anybody, definitely not me. When you play against really good teams, sometimes that is what is going to happen.”

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

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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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
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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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.