Since we’re into a lot of U.S. national team talk today (with our updated series on the U.S. roster outlook for Brazil … and if you haven’t taken a look, well, let’s get right on that, eh?) may as well extend the conversation a bit.
Because the call is going out from learned voices that Michael Bradley should captain the U.S. team that arrives in Brazil.
Seriously, is there a more obvious choice?
Yes, Landon Donovan seems to perform better as captain. And history has shown us that a highly motivate Landon Donovan is worth having. You could argue that a guy like that shouldn’t need peripheral elements to goose his motivational mojo, but he’s 31 years old, so he is what he is at this point.
Clint Dempsey’s has been Jurgen Klinsmann go-to as captain for the last few months. But that always looked like an ill fit (even before Dempsey began to struggle somewhat as a goal scorer). It was like a great suit handed to a good looking gentleman – and yet the suit just didn’t seem to fit.
Best guess: It was Klinsmann’s way of encouraging Dempsey to broaden his voice around the locker room. Dempsey is more of a “lead by example” type, and nothing wrong with that. But maybe the U.S. coach hoped to goose a little something more.
Either way, Bradley always seemed like the natural choice. Even more so than Tim Howard, a pro’s pro himself, but not as important to the overall enterprise as Bradley. (Only because Howard can be replaced; Brad Guzan is more like a 1A than a 2nd choice. But there isn’t a player in the pool who can replace Bradley, the midfield brain and easily the team’s top passer.)
There is no one more introspective around the U.S. team than Bradley. There is no one who “thinks” his way around the game more than he does. I still remember listening to the U.S midfielder answer questions thoughtfully about 18 months ago after a match in Kansas City, always with something quite wise to say. And I thought then: this guy is the next U.S. captain.
I haven’t changed my mind.
Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)
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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.
That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.
One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.
[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]
Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.
Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.
Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:
Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.
I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.
Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.
I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.
I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.