All-out attack for Man City? As Stevan Jovetic joins Pellegrini’s revolution

Leave a comment

Manchester City are going for it.

They aren’t happy with coming second in the Premier League, as they did last season, giving up their crown to bitter rivals Manchester United.

And as Will Ferrell’s fictional character Ricky Bobby famously said in the film Talladega Nights, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

It seems as if Manchester City’s directors and new manager Manuel Pellegrini are steadfastly upholding Ricky Bobby’s mantra.

This morning bullish striker Alvaro Negredo joined from Sevilla for $30 million. This afternoon Montenegrin attacker Stevan Jovetic signed from Fiorentina.

Like I said, City aren’t going to leave anything to chance this season.

This summer they’ve already spent $70 million on Brazilian holding midfielder Fernandinho and Spanish winger Jesus Navas. Today they spent $63 million. They’re going for it.

But will the additions of Negredo, Fernandinho, Navas and Jovetic further clog up City’s mammoth squad?

Nope. Those four will be regulars.

The additions of Negredo and Jovetic were essential and City have waited to make sure they could grab the right men. Pellegrini previously spoke about playing attractive soccer and how they need to attack and score goals. Previously I’ve spoken about City’s poor showing in front goal last season, they scored just 66, the joint-sixth best in the Premier League.

(MORE: Manuel Pellegrini to change Man City’s style, how can “The Engineer” fix it?)

Last week Pellegrini outlined the new attacking, win at all costs, philosophy that will be prevalent at the Eithad this year.

“One of the reasons I am here is for the way we play. Man City fans will see a different way of playing than they have seen in other years. I’m sure we will play an attractive team. We will try to be an attractive team.”

Make of that what you will.

But adding Negredo is a huge coup. He’s a powerhouse forward who can score all types of goals and work the channels superbly. Jovetic is a manager’s dream. He pops up in space, right on cue to score or set up others and he’s extremely flexible, so Pellegrini can use him anywhere in City’s attack.

That’s something City didn’t have last season. A plan B. If Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero or Mario Balotelli didn’t deliver the goods, then they were out of ideas.

With Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Negredo and Jovetic spearheading their Premier League title charge this season Pellegrini, known as “The Engineer”, has the perfect mixture of power, pace and creativity to help calibrate the beautiful soccer machine he wants to create.

Can this mixture of recently assembled players from the far-flung corners of Europe do the business? Only time will tell. But it seems as though City’s fans are going to have a lot of fun, and see a lot of goals, one way or another.

Change is in the air at the Etihad. And I believe these signings could be the start of something special.

Remember, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Leave a comment

Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.

Whitecaps defender Tim Parker being tracked by several teams from East

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

Tim Parker’s next destination could very well be closer to his hometown, however, other MLS sides are in hot pursuit of the U.S. Men’s National Team defender.

[ MORE: CCL recap — FC Dallas falls, Club America struts its stuff ]

The Vancouver Whitecaps center back has been the subject of trade speculation recently, and Pro Soccer Talk has learned that Parker has turned down a new contract with the Cascadia side that would have kept the 24-year-old in Canada for at least three more seasons.

Multiple sources have told PST that the deal Parker rejected was worth over $1.4 million in totality. Metro New York’s Kristian Dyer was the first to report the story.

Parker was subject to make roughly $99,000 in 2017, according to the MLS Players Union, although he’s expected to receive a significant increase with any new deal that he signs. On an average basis, Parker would have made over $400,000 annually had he signed a new contract with the Whitecaps.

A New York-native, Parker has been looking to return to the East Coast after spending three seasons with the Whitecaps. The former Saint John’s University standout was selected in the first round by the Whitecaps in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, after spending all four years with the Red Storm on the collegiate level.

Sources can also confirm that D.C. United and the Montreal Impact have emerged as the leaders to obtain Parker’s services if a deal is struck with the defender, although a move to the New York Red Bulls hasn’t been ruled out.

The Red Bulls have shown interest in the young defender for some time — and would be the preferred destination for the player — given Parker’s New York roots. A combination of allocation money and a player would likely be needed from the Red Bulls if the Eastern Conference side proved to be serious about pursuing Parker.

D.C. has managed to acquire significant allocation money over recent years, particularly GAM, which would prove to be essential in signing Parker. Ben Olsen’s defense has been built around USMNT center back Steve Birnbaum — who arrived in 2014 — but an addition of Parker would surely benefit a D.C. back line that conceded 60 goals in 34 regular season matches a season ago.

Meanwhile, a move for the Impact would be logical given the fact that the Canadian side lost center back Laurent Ciman this offseason when the Belgian international was traded to expansion side Los Angeles FC.

Police officer dies after fan violence before Bilbao-Spartak Moscow

AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos
1 Comment

BILBAO, Spain (AP) A Spanish riot police officer died of cardiac arrest after clashes involving Russian soccer fans before a Europa League match on Thursday between hosts Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow, raising concerns less than four months before the World Cup in Russia.

Basque Country authorities in northern Spain said the officer died in hospital after the confrontations outside San Mames Stadium in the city of Bilbao, which will host matches in the 2020 European Championship.

Police also said a Russian man was injured but the extent of his injuries was not immediately disclosed. Five people were arrested – three Russian nationals and two Spaniards.

The identity of the dead officer was not immediately disclosed.

Spartak won the match 2-1 but Athletic advanced 4-3 on aggregate.

Earlier Thursday, German police arrested a Russian suspected of seriously injuring a British soccer fan during the European Championship in France two years ago.

The trouble in Spain erupted ahead of the round-of-32 match in the second-tiered European club competition.

Police were escorting some Spartak fans into the stadium but a stray group allegedly started igniting fireworks and throwing flares and objects toward Athletic supporters and police officers.

The fighting spread onto the streets near the stadium and police struggled to restore order. Many fans were seen trying to run away from the trouble as fireworks exploded all around.

There was concern ahead of the match because of the reported presence of `Ultra’ Russian fans in Bilbao, and a large police force was deployed to try to prevent fan trouble.

Six year ago a fan died in Bilbao in clashes after a match between Athletic and German club Schalke.