Louis van Gaal says he changed the Netherlands’ tactics at the water break


For the first time this World Cup, we got an official water break in the searing heat of Fortaleza.

It ended up burning Mexico.

According to Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, he took advantage of the stoppage in play with 15 minutes to go in the match by changing tactics to what he called “Plan B.”

Speaking in the post-match press conference, van Gaal told reporters he instructed his strikers to push farther up the pitch and take long-balls from the back.  That’s exactly what happened:

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As you can see, there were plenty more balls hoofed forward from the midfield and back in the final 15 minutes after the water break. Van Gaal used the break in the action to dramatically change how his team was playing, and there’s no arguing that fact.

But is that really a big deal? Opinions seem to be split on the idea.  On one hand, tactic changes happen all the time during the course of a match. Look no further than the United States squad, where Jurgen Klinsmann told the media he hates talking about formations because he changes shape and tactics multiple times during a match.

However, it’s hard to argue with the value of being able to essentially hold a timeout during play, allowing a manager to collect his team and speak to them all at once in a huddle.

The media was split on the issue:

The other point here that’s lost is that Miguel Herrera had equal time to speak with his team, and he also changed tactics.  He had brought off Giovani dos Santos just 10 minutes earlier for a defensive midfielder in Javier Aquino, and after the water break Mexico sat back and looked to cling to its 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, that decision backfired when the Netherlands began heaving passes and players forward.  So, despite the ability for Van Gaal to swap his tactics, it’s not exactly an advantage for the Netherlands given both teams had the same opportunity.  However, it became a talking point when the Netherlands made a positive change and Mexico incorrectly sat back.

In that way, Miguel Herrera was simply outcoached by Van Gaal, a matter that is inescapable, but complicated by the ability for the Dutchman to make the switch.

Do you believe water breaks are a dangerous change to how managers approach the game? Or do you think they’re a necessary switch to keep the players safe?

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“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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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.