Song

Getty Images

Tottenham ready to laud ‘born winner’ Mourinho

Leave a comment

LONDON — Jose Mourinho isn’t a hero at Tottenham Hotspur yet. But the fans want him to be.

Before the game the lyrics of a Tom Greenan’s Song “found what I’ve been looking for” blasted out over the PA system. Spurs and their Chairman Daniel Levy feel like the have, generally.

All the chatter before, during and after the game was about Jose Mourinho. The “born winner” who has won trophies at FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Spurs fans hope Mourinho adds Spurs next to his list and keeps his incredible record going of winning silverware wherever he’s gone.

The former Chelsea and Man United manager has now won his first two games as Tottenham’s manager, beating rivals West Ham 3-2 on Saturday and securing a spot in the UEFA Champions League last 16 by beating Olympiacos 4-2 in dramatic fashion.

It was box office Mourinho to be 2-0 down early, make a tactical substitute after 30 minutes, then rally to win 4-2 and spark wild celebrations on the sidelines and in the stands. It was quite surprising just how positive Tottenham’s fans were towards Mourinho.

Asked by ProSoccerTalk after the game about the reaction from home fans and what he made of his home debut for Spurs, Mourinho made it all about the team, but mostly about himself.

“It is not about me, it is about the team. I just want to help. The fans helped, I helped, the ballboy helped. Everybody that loves Spurs helped the players. The players are the most important thing,” Mourinho said. “My feeling was great, especially because it was one of these matches where I had to play. Some of the matches you play before the match, the way you prepare the team, you work, you train and your action during the game isn’t very important. In other matches you have to play. But today I had to play. “I think that was my 80th victory in the Champions League. Let’s go for 81.”

He is always focused on one thing: Winning above everything else.

Speaking to Spurs fans before the game, they are keen to forget Mourinho’s allegiance to rivals Chelsea (but were also keen to also mention they couldn’t forget former manager George Graham for his links to Arsenal) provided he does one thing: Win.

“If you’re going to go get someone, this club needs someone who is going to win, so you can go on and win. It has been so long. He is a winning manager,” Danny Hood said, smiling, as he stood next to his daughter with his flat cap on. “To get a couple of trophies would be great and then hopefully even if he does go, hopefully they will have it in them to do it again.”

Mourinho is all about the final step for Tottenham.

Under Mauricio Pochettino they came so close to winning silverware but just came up short. That ruthless edge wasn’t there. Firing Pochettino and hiring Mourinho came out of necessity.

“When it happened I was shocked. In terms of Pochettino, I thought he had a little bit of time left. And Mourinho, well, I thought it was quite an extreme appointment,” Duncan Capp, a lifelong Spurs fans from Uxbridge, explained. “At the same time you could see the sense as well. A proven winner of trophies and it is sort of a marriage of convenience for both parties. Tottenham want to get back to the top four and Mourinho wants to get back to the Champions League and hopefully win it, again.”

There was a spring in the step of fans and staff members at Spurs before and after the game, as the new manager bump has arrived big time under Mourinho. For a manager who divides opinion, there is still a sense of hesitation to laud him from Tottenham’s fans.

His name was not sung by the home fans on Tuesday against Olympiacos.

“I don’t think we will be singing his name just yet and any response will be more for the team who are playing in the Champions League tonight,” Capp said. “I don’t think there will be a negative response for Mourinho. He has a chance, especially if he keeps winning. We aren’t going to win every single game under Mourinho, we know that, but the Champions League is a good platform for him. It is his competition, or so he thinks. If we can have a good run in the Champions League and get in the top four, it would be a good season.”

Other were more keen to go all-in on Mourinho: “If we start winning every week then we will start singing his name!” Hood added.

Fans broke down his hiring time and time again amongst themselves, with many admitting he’s probably be gone inside three seasons but if he left with a few more trophies under his arm, who cares? They want to win, any way, any how. One fan belted out that 38 1-0 victories with boring football would do the job.

Somewhere Mourinho’s ears must have pricked up.

“You have the third most successful manager in history now,” one fan explained to another. “Exactly. We sacked one world class manager and replaced him with another,” replied another.

Mourinho was apparently the “best appointment we could have made” but some admitted they were a “little worried about the reaction he will get.”

They know the Portuguese coach is playing the same game he has time and time again to get fans onside early and believe they can succeed. He’s a master at it.

“Mourinho is saying all the right things, Pochettino was saying all the wrong things,” said one man leaning on the edge of corporate box inside the stadium. He and his friends had a theory, if Spurs didn’t hire Mourinho, Arsenal would have. And they believed Pochettino would never go to the Gunners.

The next guy came along and wasn’t happy with Mourinho being the new manager but quipped “he could be a great manager and I hope it works out, but…”

The retort arrived: “But how good will it be for the youngsters, to have a winner like that around the team!?”

It all goes back to winning. It always does with Mourinho.

Winning means Spurs will try to become nasty again, as they try every trick in the box Mourinho wrote to get success.

He was the first person to celebrate with the ball boy who hurried to get the ball to Serge Aurier for Spurs’ second goal. The master of the dark arts approved.

“We want somebody who is nasty and pushing people and mixing it up. When Pochettino took over we were the youngest, fittest team and the most aggressive team,” Danny Hood added. “People talked about us being the hardest team in the league to play against. Dele used to dive, wind people up, Poch told him to stop that and knocked the confidence out of him. I want that nasty team again, that team who fought everyone. I hope that comes back.”

There is still a reluctance to get too excited by Mourinho.

“My initial reaction was shock but once you break it all down, here some of the details and rumors, then you sort of understand it a bit more. You can accept it a little more,” Capp added.

The acceptance at Spurs is that Mourinho isn’t perfect, but he’s a winner.

“He’s proven he can win everywhere, so let’s hope Spurs aren’t the odd ones out,” Daisy Hood laughed. “I nearly fell asleep during the Newcastle game! I want trophies. So it is Mourinho. As long as he’s running up the touchline at Stamford Bridge celebrating for Tottenham, I’m happy.”

Bundesliga wrap: Tight at the top (again) as Gladbach loses

Photo by Federico Gambarini/picture alliance via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Borussia Monchengladbach arrived to the 12th match day of the Bundesliga season with a 4-point table lead and a witty little PR Song about being back on top.

It promptly lost to a newly-promoted team and saw its lead shrink to one.

This is what the Bundesliga does to its top teams this season.

[ MORE: Grading Pulisic’s day at the Etihad ]


Union Berlin 2-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Anthony Ujah and Sven Andersson delivered the goods, as the hosts rode Ujah’s 15th minute opener deep into stoppage time before his Swedish teammate put the result to bed.

Gladbach had a slim edge in shot attempts and a 63-37 edge in possession, but Union was the more dangerous side and deserved the three points. Freiburg is next for Gladbach before a visit from Bayern on Dec. 7.

Union is now seven points clear of the relegation picture, and five ahead of city rivals Hertha.

Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-4 Bayern Munich

USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen was under siege at home, with four different Bayern goal scorers dotting the score sheet. Robert Lewandowski had an assist but saw his insane 11-match league scoring streak snapped in Dusseldorf.

Philippe Coutinho, Serge Gnabry, Corentin Tolisso, and Benjamin Pavard scored, with Gnabry also getting an assist for Bayern, who joins RB Leipzig one point back of first.

Steffen did have a possession error (below), which won’t be enjoyed by loan boss Pep Guardiola, but the other goals were not on him.

Werder Bremen 1-2 Schalke

Benito Raman had a goal and an assist, with Amine Harit also scoring as Schalke moved to within three points of the top of the table. USMNT forward Josh Sargent was an unused sub for Bremen, while Weston McKennie came off the bench for an effective and disruptive 17 minutes for Schalke.

Elsewhere
Borussia Dortmund 3-3 Paderborn — Friday | RECAP
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-2 Wolfsburg
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Freiburg
RB Leipzig 4-1 Koln
Augsburg v. Hertha Berlin — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Hoffenheim v. Mainz — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Mönchengladbach 12 8 1 3 24 13 11 4-1-1 4-0-2 25
 RB Leipzig 12 7 3 2 33 13 20 3-2-1 4-1-1 24
 Bayern Munich 12 7 3 2 33 16 17 4-1-1 3-2-1 24
 SC Freiburg 12 6 4 2 21 13 8 3-2-1 3-2-1 22
 FC Schalke 04 12 6 4 2 22 15 7 2-3-1 4-1-1 22
 Borussia Dortmund 12 5 5 2 26 18 8 4-2-0 1-3-2 20
 VfL Wolfsburg 12 5 5 2 13 10 3 2-3-1 3-2-1 20
 1899 Hoffenheim 11 6 2 3 16 14 2 3-0-2 3-2-1 20
 Bayer Leverkusen 12 5 4 3 18 16 2 2-4-1 3-0-2 19
 Eintracht Frankfurt 12 5 2 5 21 18 3 4-2-1 1-0-4 17
 1. FC Union Berlin 12 5 1 6 15 17 -2 4-0-3 1-1-3 16
 Hertha BSC Berlin 11 3 2 6 17 21 -4 2-0-3 1-2-3 11
 Werder Bremen 12 2 5 5 19 26 -7 1-2-3 1-3-2 11
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 12 3 2 7 15 23 -8 2-1-3 1-1-4 11
 FC Augsburg 11 2 4 5 13 24 -11 1-2-2 1-2-3 10
 FSV Mainz 05 11 3 0 8 12 30 -18 2-0-3 1-0-5 9
 1. FC Köln 12 2 1 9 11 27 -16 1-0-4 1-1-5 7
 SC Paderborn 12 1 2 9 14 29 -15 1-0-5 0-2-4 5

Bale in hot water at Madrid over Wales banner

Getty Images
1 Comment

What Gareth Bale thought was a funny joke, Real Madrid is not finding so amusing.

After Wales secured qualification to the Euro 2020 finals, the squad – with Bale front and center – posed with a banner that read “Wales, golf, Madrid. In that order.”

The phrase was made famous by former Real Madrid striker and director of football Pedja Mijatovic, who jokingly said the phrase on the radio referencing Bale’s assumed priorities in his career. It blew up and Wales fans began to sing songs and make signs. Bale was asked about it in the media and laughed it off as “a good bit of fun.”

So, after defeating Hungary on Tuesday, the squad posed with one of the flags, laughing while holding it up in front of the Real Madrid star.

The Spaniards have not taken it well. Real Madrid supporters have long been touchy about Bale’s perceived love for golf and the notion that he puts it before his club responsibilities. There has been a perceived media agenda against Bale in Spain, and the headlines ran with the image, claiming Bale was intentionally “mocking” Madrid while posing for the picture with the flag. A poll that ran in Spanish publication MARCA saw a majority of fans claim the photo displayed “a lack of respect for the club and fans” as Bale poked fun at the notion he dislikes playing for his club.

Previous comments of Bale’s only fed the beast, as he attempted to explain why playing for Wales was “different” than playing for his club, but the quotes were picked apart out of context, with the media looking to paint Bale as playing favorites. Fans in Spain have been insulted that Bale seems to enjoy playing for his country more, and Bale’s return from injury to play for Wales before Madrid has been salt in the wound.

This all certainly has the feel of a means to an end in Spain.

Kevin Walker closing in on Swedish “Idol,” league title double

Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images
Leave a comment

STOCKHOLM (AP) Winning Sweden’s biggest reality talent show has opened up plenty of opportunities in Kevin Walker’s burgeoning music career.

He has worked with some of the country’s top songwriters, written and performed his own singles which have been played millions of times on Spotify, and would be a good bet to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest sometime in the not-so-distant future.

He dreams of one day singing at Madison Square Garden in New York, or Wembley Stadium in London.

Walker isn’t forgetting about his day job, though.

When he’s not in a studio or making music videos, the 30-year-old Walker is a soccer player with Djurgarden, which is in contention to win the Swedish league title for the first time in 14 years.

A professional since 2006, he has played for Sweden’s national youth teams and won domestic cup competitions. But this would be his first league title, the crowning achievement of his soccer career.

And, heading into the final pressure-filled three weeks of the season, Walker is using his experience in “Idol” – the singing competition that thrust him into the national consciousness six years ago – as something of a lesson.

“I went out of my comfort zone, did something in front of millions of people that I wasn’t trained to do,” the central midfielder told The Associated Press in an interview on a chilly afternoon before Djurgarden’s practice session in central Stockholm.

“I got through that, and really learned about how I work under immense pressure and when I get nervous. It was developing for me as a person, and I’ll carry that with me for the rest of my life.”

Somewhat accidentally, Walker became one of the most famous soccer players in Sweden despite never having played for the national team at senior level.

In 2013, he was playing for Sundsvall in Sweden’s second division. A teammate was due to perform at an open mic night at the city’s casino but couldn’t find a babysitter, so he asked Walker if he wanted to stand in.

He had always liked a “sing-song” from when he was a small child and he used to go to Ireland – the birthplace of his father, Pat, a former soccer player and coach – to visit family. So Walker took the plunge.

Someone filmed him singing four songs alongside a piano player, and the video was shown to a producer of “Idol” when the show was in town looking for contestants. Walker ended up applying, passing the auditions, and winning the whole thing – earning a contract with Universal Music in the process.

“I was standing there singing with Robbie Williams in The Globe,” Walker said, referring to his duet with the world-famous pop singer in the arena in Stockholm that staged “Idol.” “It was pretty surreal.”

During “Idol,” he became front-page news. Commercial flights from Sundsvall to Stockholm were held back to allow Walker to get to the airport after soccer practice and fly down to the capital to perform live on stage. Swedish TV rearranged the time of a Sundsvall game to accommodate Walker’s appearance on the show.

His debut album – “Belong” – went platinum. His popularity was soaring. So it gave Walker a dilemma: Stick with soccer or become a full-time musician?

Still in his mid-20s, he chose soccer.

“They have a saying in Sweden, `While the iron is hot,’ – but I felt differently,” Walker said. “I thought, `This is great, now I have a platform which, if I play my cards right, I can develop and have a product after football.'”

So he has intermittently released singles off his own back, having ended his contract with Universal to allow him to write his own songs and dictate the pace of his music career.

“The Wind” was released in 2016 without a record label and has been his most popular song on Spotify, with more than 2.5 million plays. His latest single – “Maybe I” – was released in August and Walker said it had 120,000 streams in a month and a half. He plans to release an EP soon.

He has worked with producer Per Gessle, the male half of pop duo Roxette, and collaborated with Jorgen Elofsson, who has co-written songs for the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Britney Spears.

But Walker, now a father of two, doesn’t see himself as having a “rock-star lifestyle.” He simply wants to stay relevant in music until his days as a soccer player are over, when he can really go hard at his new career.

That’s something he still sees as being a few years off.

“When I start thinking that my next football contract should be pegged up for my music, then maybe I shouldn’t be signing that contract,” said Walker, who has one year left on his deal with Djurgarden.

“I’m in a good place now. Probably in my prime, football-wise, for the next two, three years. So I think football will dictate the next contract. But I’d have to think of the bigger picture as well.”

Walker started playing for Djurgarden in 2015, was soon made captain, and helped the team win the Swedish Cup last year. He has had to battle for his place in the team this season but is still a key member of a squad that is tied on points with Malmo with three matches remaining.

“For my personal record, this is 14 or 15 years in the works,” said Walker, whose Irish heritage comes out when he talks. “There’s a lot that has been leading up to this point.”

Walker was at AIK, another Stockholm-based soccer team, when it won the league in 2009 but he didn’t get a winner’s medal because he missed the whole season with a blood-poisoning illness.

It was during that year he bought a guitar and keyboard, and started writing songs at home to kill some time.

A decade later, Walker – a musician, rather improbably, in his own right – could finally become a soccer champion, too.

Aston Villa ‘disgusted and appalled’ by fans’ racist chant

Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images
3 Comments

Aston Villa has released a statement regarding a racist Song sung by the club’s fans, saying they are “disgusted and appalled” that two of the club’s players were targeted during Villa’s 5-1 victory away to Norwich City on Saturday.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic reacts to assist, being back in Chelsea team ]

Video of a number of away fans signing the racist song about Villa midfielder Marvelous Nakamba was posted on social media, prompting the club to denounce the racist abuse in a statement on Monday.

“Aston Villa is disgusted and appalled by footage circulating on social media of supporters chanting a racist song which makes reference to two of our first team players.

“The club wholly condemns the chant and urges other supporters to help us identify those responsible. Chants of this nature besmirch the good name of Aston Villa Football Club and our fans.

“If the perpetrators are identified they will be dealt with in the strongest manner by the club and be reported to the police immediately. Our security staff will be vigilant at forthcoming games to ensure that anybody attempting repetition of this chant will be dealt with severely.

“We know we can rely on the assistance of the majority of our fans to eradicate this toxic behavior immediately.”

Villa defender Ezri Konsa, who made his PL debut on Saturday, was also targeted by racist chanting by his own fans earlier this season. The Aston Villa Supporters Trust released their own statement, saying, “Racist stereotypes are never acceptable.”