Three questions with Dick Advocaat’s first American fan

Associated Press
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It took less than one game in charge of Sunderland for us to take a liking to Dick Advocaat. Strong scarf game. The ability to grow roses in the desert that is/was his bald head. And the propensity to forget which wrist he wears his watch on. But we weren’t Advocaat’s first fans in America. Far from it. Shortly after his Sunderland debut, we received a Raven from GFOP Jim Sanchez of Tucson, Ariz.

Jim’s affinity for “The Little General” dates back to Advocaat’s days playing with the NASL’s Chicago Sting. Jim, who grew up playing soccer in Portage, Ind., didn’t just admire Advocaat from the stands. He watched him pitchside, thanks to an Ocean’s Eleven-style plot hatched by his mate, who called the Sting’s front office and requested media passes for the fictitious “Portage Soccer Journal.” Almost immediately, he was granted two field passes in perpetuity. For the Sting’s remaining years, Sanchez and his friend patrolled the sidelines of Wrigley and Comiskey with impunity, using the pseudonyms “Brian English” and “James Idle” (a tip of the cap to Eric Idle). In this edition of Three Questions, we talk to a man who wisely hopped on the Dick Advocaat bandwagon early in the game.

MiB: Describe what it was like to attend a NASL game as a “journalist?”

JS: At the games I either stood on the sidelines with a pad and pencil or borrowed an SLR camera. Friends only had family photo cameras so I stood there trying to take photos with a tiny family photo lens next to the pros with professional equipment. Despite being 18 years old and unequipped as a real journalist, the team seemed happy to have anyone on the sideline they could get. Having fieldside access to players and coaches was fantastic. It was also amazing to be on the fields of those hallowed baseball stadiums.

MiB: Give us your best story from your Wrigley/Comiskey days.

JS: In 1981 when the Sting played the Cosmos, a true international star was on the field: Giorgio Chinaglia! I was so star-struck and excited to be close to a true global superstar, it was all I could do to keep fan worship in check. The game went down to penalty kicks after an exciting last minute draw. Giorgio took the last kick and had it saved by the Chicago keeper. All game I was focused on the superstar and decided that I HAD to have his autograph, paying little attention to the end of the exciting game. As soon as the penalty was missed, I sprinted onto the field press pass and pen in hand, reached Giorgio first and shoved both under his nose and asked for his autograph. The look I got was understandably incredulous and venomous.  “We just lose,” is all he said and he stared at me for a second sweat dripping off his long curly hair. I turned and sheepishly slunk over to the Sting celebration to meet my friend pen and empty press pass in hand. Defeated.

MiB: What did you think of Dick Advocaat at the time, and what did you think when you heard he was hired at Sunderland?

JS: Since sidelines were so quiet we could hear all of the team banter. Advocaat was always referred to by the team members and the local media as Dicky. Dicky was quiet, being the only Netherlander on the team. The core of that team was German and they spoke a lot of German on and off the field. The other group of players was the English speakers and young Americans who hung out. I remember Dicky sitting by himself a lot which is how I was able to get his picture as he would sit and tolerate me with my tiny camera getting in close enough to take his picture.  He was also one of my favorites because he was shorter than my 5’8” size.  In later years people got tired of me following his exploits and discussing them as if he was a personal friend.

MiB: What is your greatest Chicago Sting memory?

JS: In 1981 The sting won their conference to go to Soccer Bowl 1981 to play the mighty Cosmos for the championship.  As it was held in Toronto at a neutral field we believed we had no chance of getting our ill gotten field passes.  The game was at night so after spending the day in the park with a case of “Canadian Golden Courage” we decided to go for it.  Thirty minutes from kickoff we crashed will call and demanded our photo field passes giving our phony names. When the attendant couldn’t find our names we increased our volume and demands: What, we came all the way from Chicago for this??  The stern looking official called the press box and got the Sting VP of PR.  He recognized our fake names and apologized to the official that he must have forgotten to put us on the list.  Bingo we were in. Wow, national television, real media, a foreign country, it was incredible.  After we won, of course we crashed the locker room.

MiB: How much football do you watch now? Who do you support?

JS: After the demise of our great hopes for professional soccer died in the 80s I lost touch with professional soccer for at least a decade except for the World Cup.  All the predictions that soccer was the game of the future we had spouted with friends had collapsed in a heap. In the last decade or so with good television coverage I have picked up a Manchester City habit. I loved watching the Kompany, Toure, Silva, Aguero machine. I also had to pick a team that was not the dominant Man U. Since MLS spring training has come here to Tucson I have picked up the MLS habit as well and am following RSL as the nearest team.

Ever Wonder why Manchester United is nicknamed The Red Devils?

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Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

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Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

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This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.


How did Manchester United become known around the world as the Red Devils?

It is one of the most famous nicknames in the sporting world: but how did Manchester United become known as The Red Devils?

Previously they were known as ‘The Busby Babes’ as legendary manager Sir Matt Busby created one of the greatest teams the football world has ever seen.

United had so many incredibly talented and extremely young players and the Busby Babes were a revelation.

Why a new nickname was needed

However, tragedy struck in 1958 as the Munich Air Disaster occurred.

A plane carrying Manchester United’s players and staff back from a European Cup game in Belgrade crashed in heavy snow after a refueling stop in Munich. 23 were killed, including eight players, and the Busby Babes nickname became a painful reminder of the awful tragedy which rocked the club and the entire world.

In the aftermath of the disaster, Sir Matt Busby rebuilt the club and decided to look for a new nickname as Manchester United wanted to become more intimidating to opponents and they now had a squad of more experienced players and the Busby Babes nickname needed to be replaced.

The answer for that new nickname?

Well, it came from a local rugby club from Greater Manchester, who had played in France. Because of course that is the answer.

Rugby? South of France? Les Diables Rouges?

Salford, who are based just 4 miles away from Old Trafford, were known as the Devils and they played in red. The rugby club went to play in the South of France for two months in 1934 to help grow the popularity of the game.

Salford made such an impression that locals referred to them as ‘Les Diables Rouges.’ In English that is: ‘The Red Devils.’

It is said that Busby liked the nickname of Salford rugby club and the aura it created and as he planned for United to now be a more physical, defensive and tough-tackling side, he decided United’s new nickname would be The Red Devils too.

In 1973 the Red Devil appeared on United’s official club badge for the first time and it has been there ever since.

Enzo Fernandez impresses as Chelsea secure point vs Fulham

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$360 million later, and mid-table Chelsea were able to secure a point in a 0-0 draw with European hopefuls Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Friday.

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Chelsea’s spending spree saw them sign eight new players to swell Graham Potter’s first-team squad to 30 players, including Enzo Fernandez, who arrived in west London as the most expensive signing in British football history ($129 million) on Tuesday. The Argentine midfield wasted no time and looked a cut above everyone else on the field as he made his Premier League debut with precious little time to train with his new club.

The result sends Fulham (32 points) up to 6th in the PL table, now one point ahead of Brighton, though the Seagulls have played three fewer games now. Chelsea (30 points), meanwhile, climb past fellow strugglers Liverpool, into 9th.

Chelsea went inches from opening the scoring in the 45th minute, when Kai Havertz lifted the ball over the out-rushing Bernd Leno. As a pair of Fulham defenders made late recovery runs into the box, the ball struck the front of the near post and and bounced back into play to be cleared away.

Aleksandar Mitrovic was next to nearly break the deadlock in the 71st minute, when he went for goal just one or two steps inside the halfway line. Perhaps the ball was headed for the crossbar or just over, but it was close enough that Kepa Arrizabalaga had to quickly backpedal and palm the ball away from his goal line.

Not even a minute later, Fernandez nearly marked his Chelsea debut with a sensational goal from nearly 30 yards out. The ball fell to Fernandez and the 22-year-old World Cup winner uncorked a shot that narrowly tailed away away from the far post.

The oh-so-nearly-goals theme continued as the second half wore on, and it was Tim Ream who saved the day for the Cottagers in the 79th minute. Noni Madueke also made his Chelsea debut as he replaced another January signing, Mykhailo Mudryk, at halftime. Madueke’s first real involvement came as he rounded Leno outside the penalty area and scooted past with an eye toward goal, only for Ream be in the right place at the right time to boot the ball clear as the last line of defense.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY


How to watch Chelsea vs Fulham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Friday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Watch out for Chelsea, because the crew is getting healthier. To be fair, it’s difficult to have more injuries than Chelsea has had this year, but we digress. Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Raheem Sterling, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are all ready to go, though Graham Potter said none of them are ready for 90 minutes. Wesley Fofana is close to a return, but should miss out, while Joao Felix could make his return. So, yeah, we could see Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk, and Raheem Sterling on the pitch at the same time. Zoom, zoom, Fulham.

Marco Silva’s Cottagers have cooled off, at least in terms of results, since beating Chelsea at Craven Cottage on Jan. 12, the game in which Felix earned his red card. 1-0 losses to Newcastle and Spurs, forgivable, were followed up with a FA Cup draw with Sunderland. If Fulham can get through this, there’s a more forgiving run of fixtures ahead with a Sunderland replay, Forest, Brighton, Wolves, and Brentford. But is anything forgiving any more in the Premier League? Aleksandar Mitrovic, as usual, looms as a key piece of Fulham’s hopes.


Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Christian Pulisic (knee), Wesley Fofana (knee), Edouard Mendy (shoulder), Armando Broja (knee), Denis Zakaria (thigh)

Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Neeskens Kebano (achilles)

Brighton vs Bournemouth: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Brighton will continue their chase for European qualification, while Bournemouth try to climb out of the relegation zone, when the two sides meet at Amex Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 10 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE BRIGHTON vs BOURNEMOUTH

Graham Potter and Roberto De Zerbi have, between them, guided Brighton (31 points) all the way up to 6th place in the Premier League table. The gap to 5th-place Tottenham is five points; the gap to Manchester United in 4th in eight. Bournemouth, meanwhile, are in the bottom-three for the first time this season after picking up just one point from their last five PL games.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Brighton vs Bournemouth

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How to watch Brighton vs Bournemouth live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Alexis Mac Allister (suspension), Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (undisclosed), Levi Colwill (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Facundo Buonanette (head), Evan Ferguson (ankle)

Bournemouth team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: David Brooks (thigh), Lewis Cook (knee), Neto (thigh), Dominic Solanke (knee), Marcus Tavernier (thigh), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed), Junior Stanislas (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Philip Billing (undisclosed)

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Brentford vs Southampton: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Brentford will try to extend their unbeaten run, which began all the way back in October, when they host bottom-of-the-table Southampton at Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 10 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE BRENTFORD vs SOUTHAMPTON

The Bees’ (30 points) eight-game unbeaten run (4W-4D-0L) has taken them up to 8th in the Premier League table, now closer to the top-four (nine points) than the relegation zone (13 points) in their second-ever season in the PL. Saints (15 points), meanwhile, are living dangerously at the bottom, though the gap between themselves and safety in 17th place is just two points.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Brentford vs Southampton

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How to watch Brentford vs Southampton live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Last time out, Brentford settled for a frustrating 0-0 draw with Leeds, but before that they rattled off successive wins over West Ham, Liverpool and Bournemouth with just one goal conceded in three games. Ivan Toney is 3rd in the Premier League with 13 goals, trailing only Harry Kane (16) and Erling Haaland (an absurd 25). After initially struggling to replace the creativity of Christian Eriksen (4 assists in 11 appearances last season), Thomas Frank’s side is firing once again thanks to Mathias Jensen (4 in 20), Toney (3) and Josh Dasilva (2) picking up the slack.

After losing 3-1 to Newcastle over two legs in the League Cup semifinals, Southampton return their attention to the ongoing relegation battle. Having won just one of their last nine Premier League fixtures (1W-1D-7L), Saints made four first-team signings to strengthen the midfield and attack. They brought in some experience (30-year-old midfielder Mislav Orsic from Dinamo Zagreb and 28-year-old forward Paul Onuachu from Genk) along with some youth and potential (a pair of 20-year-olds, midfielder Carlos Alcaraz from Racing Club and winger Kamadeen Selumana from Rennes).


Brentford team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Pontus Jansson (thigh), Frank Onyeka (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Shandon Baptiste (adductor)

Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Kyle Walker-Peters (hamstring), Juan Larios (adductor) | QUESTIONABLE: Moussa Djenepo (head), Alex McArthy (ankle)

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