Friday, February 17, 2006

He is Everywhere

While many people might think I live a double life(Feyenoord being my alter-ego), rest assured, he does exist. Who else would keep me in check, help me break down the news, and keep me humble as the press and the hottest groupies in Europe keep texting me at all hours of the day? And last night as I sat tirelessly in bed staring at my ceiling and wondering, why o' why, have they not called to schedule my interview for the Newcastle position, I was reminded just how similar a wart and the Swedish-Savant are; neither goes away simply, and it just stays with you. Always. As if omnipresent. You want it to leave but it just does not easily. Not knowing what to make of today's news, how about I simply report it.

The English FA want Juventus head coach Fabio Capello and have lured him with a £19M offer as well as a villa. Lets see, Fabio Capello or one of the English Stiffs being mentioned for this impossible job? I can see it right now, Capello benching David Bechkam and the drama that would insist. Compelling, ok I am convinced, on the merits alone(of this fantasy of mine) that Capello is a bold coach, willing to make hard decisions when necessary(unlike someone you know), he is a great candidate. Now the problem is that like every other melo-drama in Italian culture, this will one will spiral out of control. And you guessed it, who is linked with the 'potential' Juventus job..Drum roll please....................the Swedish-Savant, as well as Roberto Donadoni and Gianluca Vialli.

To assume Fabio Capello, at 59 is not going to be at Juventus for ever is the easy part. And with the English media jumping on the fact that both in November and January he publicly stated his desire to coach abroad(read between the lines, Manchester United or the Spanish National Team) this is one is not over just yet. Dave Richards, Brian Barwick, and Noel White are representing the FA properly when they look outside their national media pressures and look at one of the finest coaches to potentially coach England to the World Cup in 2010. The compensation package offered to Capello is twice what he makes annually at Juventus. Should he win the Champions League this year, I think this decision will be very easy for him. The only thing that annoys me is that somewhere the Swedish-Savant is thinking, I never would have thought that getting fired would be so rewarding(noting that he is already linked with this job). I can only imagine what is going through his mind, already thinking of all the beautiful Italian women that are in his potential new employer's offices in Torino. Then again, that is why this site will be down from 1-3 pm today as I addresss this and many other issues in therapy.
Azzurri Dreams

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dutch Coaching Carousel

As I sat back in the cush Azzurri Dreams offices on Sunday, I was wishing Feyenoord had allowed me to expense that 44' Samsung LCD television that I had mysteriously delivered the preceding Friday. The anticipation of watching the Italian Derby made me get the perfect television for the big match. I wanted to see the look of panic settle in the faces of the Inter Milan management as they watched just how far behind Juventus they are. But no, I had to settle for my 1994 29' Toshiba(it does not even have picture-in-picture) as Feyenoord had me send it back while emphasizing that I were to pay the re-stocking fees. But two days after that great match, the real panic has settled in at Inter. Quite possibly, as I have mentioned time and time again on Azzurri Dreams, Inter Milan is just as dysfunctional as Newcastle but unlike their English counterparts, they can still claim to be an elite team and attract top talent.

So get the rumors started because here it goes and I think this will reverberate all the way to Spain. Inter Milan have finally recognized they need more offense after their fab two strike-force of Adrianno and Martins(who was just back from the African Cup of Nations) did not do anything. So the latest is this, they want AC Milan's Pippo Inzaghi during the summer transfer market and are willing to ship Marco Matterazzi to their city rivals. This moves makes sense for AC Milan who need to shore-up their central defense going into next season and while they would be getting rid of albeit a stud in Inzaghi(who is 33) but for Inter, well lets just say they are so dam predictable. What this has to do with between the lines, they have just acknowledged that no one is safe. Here we go again with the Ronaldo-Adrianno rumor mill, tiring as it must be to be a hamster on that dam wheel, but this will re-surface shortly.
Keeping with the Milan angle today, as we have been reporting, Frank Rijkaard could leave to join AC Milan. It is never good when your president says he will not stand in your way if you want to go to another team. And if anyone mentions the Swedish-Savant as a potential replacement for a Rijkaard, I will gag as I do not believe a team like Barcelona should reward mediocrity(see the Swedish-Savant's coaching record) by even inquiring for his services.

Now this is where it gets interesting, AC Milan are supposedly also looking at Marco van Basten as well as replacement for a coach who is not said to be leaving anytime soon in Carlo Ancelotti. Hmm, could there be any more Dutch news today. How about the fact that Guss Hiddink is going to be announced as the new coach for Russia sometime this week. Ok, Feyenoord, that is all the news that concerns the Dutch today, I hope you are happy as long as I do not lose you as well to anyone else's coaching staff.

Azzurri Dreams

Monday, February 13, 2006

Stop The Rumors

It is not true. The rumors floating around the European media right now that I have been taking time off to recuperate from accidentally being shot by Feyenoord while quail hunting are just not true. I am just soo bored that I have decided to hibernate until the next significant soccer milestone, the re-start of the Champions League next week. Lets face it. Chelsea's lead dwindling down to 12 points just pails in comparison to the significance of the Winter Olympics right now. Yet I must report something or else my sponsors will say I am getting lax on the job and we cannot stand for that at Azzurri Dreams. The same can be said for Barcelona who now leads Valencia by only 6 points. But lets face it, besides giving thanks for surviving another Mido breakdown the pulse of European soccer right now is not that these two teams are being challenged in their domestic leagues; is it that we are only eight days away from the Champions League, and some teams are in better form heading into the Quarterfinals then others.

Juventus, on fire, enough said. Team is co-existing nicely and with the great Alex coming off the bench and a proven defense, they might just steal it this year. Watching yesterday's Italian Derby, gave me a renewed belief that Juventus are serious about winning(besides their typical 1-0 results). Bayern Munich, on fire and with a flying Dutchmen scoring(oh, to have Marco van Basten's problems right now) at will are playing well and their domestic leagues rapped up, they were my early season pick to win it. AC Milan has decided to play for second in the Serie A, yet Kaka is not convinced. Already the nightmares of him playing in Canary yellow have started. Make them stop. Lyon, well this just might be there year if Gérard Huoullier does not screw this up, they can win this(I know, it pains me to complaint the French, but I have found this new 'objective' gene in my soccer analysis). PSV will not be easy, ask AC Milan but we should see some goals in these matches.

And as for everyone else, well, lets just say...its going to be very tough. What I have noticed in the last few Champions League seasons, is teams underachieving in their domestic league and coming in strong to contend in the Champions League; Liverpool last year, and Chelsea and Monaco the year before come to mind. This year it might well be Arsenal and lets face it, they must like their chances with Thierry Henry going against Madrid, even 1-on-4, he can score on these guys. Madrid better show-up and play some ball tomorrow in the second leg of the Copa del Rey against Zaragoza or else, their focus for Champions League will go right out the door. Overcoming a 6-1 deficit against the most inform team in Europe(Roma a close second) right now will take a gallant effort, almost like keeping a straight face when you mention the Madrid back four as a 'defense.' Barcelona, just needs Ronaldihno back, but in his absence you see just how thin this team really is. Guily, Deco, Messi and the Great One out, and they are just about as good as an MLS team. Ok, I am exaggerating, buy you get my point. Barcelona, will start to feel pressure and the longings from the Italian media will start to pulsate like an Armin Zoeggeler gold-winning luge run for Frank Rijkaard to join AC Milan if he does not win the Champions League this season. Then again, I am sure one of these coaches that gets fired for not winning the Champions League will be happy to submit his resume for the Newcastle job.
Azzurri Dreams

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Back From The Dead

Feyenoord found me passed out this morning, drool seeping into the company laptop at Azzurri Dreams. Deadline after deadline, and a growing readership to appease. I am sorry for not getting back to everyone, including Sepp Blatter, and Brian Barwick to only mention a few as I have been positively swamped tracking down the truth in the world of soccer. This is a quick post to let our great readers know that we are happy to add to our Blogroll aka "Our Friends" Section two great sites.

One is purely dedicated to the US National Team, and log often because the content will be coming fast and furious, kinda of like a fans panic-attack when Landon Donovan is about to shoot. I am happy to join our friends at USSoccerblog and to let you all know that I am contributer to their site as well.

The other is the great NikeSoccerBlog maintained by our good friend and great writer, Adam Spangler. This is just one of the cooler sites around.

Please pass these sites along to all your friends. My doctor told Feyenoord that due to the high levels of stress in my life and with the World Cup now only 120 days away, that I need to rest and keep my posting to a minimum...kinda of like the Swedish-Savant coaching.
Azzurri Dreams

Thursday, February 02, 2006

NATO Calling

There is no need to worry. Feyenoord is not going to Kabul, Afgahistan to patrol and secure the countryside as part of the Netherlands troop delegation. The Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende is a fan of Azzurri Dreams and knows what a disruption it would be if I lost my co-editor. After all, who would proof-read my commentary, book me on my upcoming BBC and SKY appearances and motivate me to write again when the mega-dramas of the Swedish-Savant makes me want to go into hibernation.

Just because the winter market finished two days ago, does not mean we cannot do it all over again. The new, well, the continued drama that is Michael Ballack is everywhere with the latest reports linking him definitively..,or until he and his agent change their minds, to two likely teams, Inter Milan and Juventus. Inter is leading the case. But in the time it took to write this, my sources say he is off to Qatar.

Dutch goeth, Dutch cometh. AC Milan want another Ajax player and will more then likely get him, Wesley Sneijder. All this to make sure Frank Rijkaard feels comfortable upon his return to Milan...But I am not starting any rumors.

Roma are willing to gamble on Liverpool's Djibril Cisse, makes you wonder how little your coach thinks of you after the return of Robbie Fowler. Somewhere, Rafa Benitez, is thinking, get the hint young man.

Juventus will move for Ajax player Hatem Trabelsi.

This is either sublime or it is preposterous. But the latest grumbling's out of Madrid are huge. And proving Azzurri Dreams correct once again, President Florentino Perez wants Juventus striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic using Antonio Cassano as the bait. Wonderful. Is this a ploy to disrupt Juventus as we are just three weeks away from the start of Champions League? Who knows but when your team is not close to winning anything like Real Madrid is this season, as the president you must come up with creative ways to keep busy. Starting rumors(I mean reporting the news) is what I do to pass my idle time at Azzurri Dreams so I cannot fault him entirely.

With these juicy snipits coming daily, I cannot wait until the summer transfer market starts.
Azzurri Dreams

Always The Best Dressed

Crisis at Newcastle. Isn't that a bit like saying drama at the FA. Its obvious. Its redudant. But the growing readership at Azzurri Dreams just needs the information. So here it is. The funny thing is that I Ineed a new a secretary at Azzurri Dreams to answer the onslaught of supermodels wanting to hang out with me, designers wanting me to wear their designer suits for all my 'outings,' and to help me priortize the media requests from the worldly soccer press that want to know how I get my information before anyone else. Quick call Sam Allardyce. He is the answer to all our problems. Seriously, the problem with success is that everyone wants you. Now I know how it feels to be Big Sam. At least, no one wants me for the vacant coaching position at Newcastle, at least not yet. And seriously why would you leave the blossiming offices of Azzurri Dreams or Bolton for the mess that is Newcastle. But so we must continue to kindly say that we are not interested. I cannot speak for Sam, but I would venture to say he is not interested. I think the only people thinking Grahame Souness was going to survive this season were living under a rock, maybe Souey himself. Lets do a quick recap of this glorious 16 months at St. James park:

He spent a record fee of €25M for England striker Michael Owen. If being duped once was not enough, he went ahead and spent more than €29.4M on defender Jean-Alain Boumsong, midfielders Scott Parker and Emre Belozoglu and forward Albert Luque. Smart moves.

But maybe Grahame Souness was under a rock himself or least should have been put under one for some of his decisions. Almost like a time-out for children acting infantile. No need to rehash, but here it goes:

Letting go of Craig Bellamy to Celtic on Loan and then losing him to Blackburn. Big Mistake. He was the only striker you could count on. True he had a huge amount of injuries but this team was inept from the top down, and no matter how much fun we like to poke at Grahame Souness(second only to the Swedish-Savant) here at Azzurri Dreams, he isn't alone for the annual Newcastle meltdown. There is no accountability at this team, this starts from their Chairman Freddy Shepard who funded this team well knowing that Souey was not going to make it(but I wonder if the acquisitions were also brought to Alan Shearer?) since we all knew he was eventually going to take over. So why fork out the money? Secondly, the ex-coach, what can you say, known as a disciplinarian, let one of his players Lee Bowyer try to bludgeon another, Kieron Dyer last season; and if anyone has seen a Newcastle match lately, you know what it is like to be bludgeoned.

We cannot fault Grahame Souness for trying but it was agnozing watching him on the touchlines. He tried, we will give him that and his suits were impeccable. But once. Just once, as I have pleaded before on Azzurri Dreams, I would like to see someone have the courage to say, 'No, you can't buy another player,' This asks questions of Newcastle, primarily, what the hell are you doing with your youth academy and alas, what the hell are you doing with Shepard as your Chairman. Look at the other top teams in England with Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal who could go young if they chose (Chelsea excluded for obvious reasons since they can buy anyone they want and do not need to build from within) and you have to start from the ground up. Newcastle has what they wanted now in a player-coach in Alan Shearer splitting duties with Glenn Roeder. But they have no real prospects for ending their trophy drought. My first solution, bring back James Milner, the kid can flat-out play. Additonally try not to stress out about Europe; the only way into Europe next year is via the Intertoto Cup and that would be a stretch.

I have not turned on the news today, but I can see at least one effigagy being burnt outside St. James Park and it might be the wrong one. Now Newcastle has the daunting task of rebuilding, re-selling and dealing with outraged and loyal fans and the firing Grahame Souness might not be the solution. And you know you have an ordeal when you know somewhere the Swedish-Savant is laughing, thinking that this is one job he actually does not want. This picture says as much but you can decide for yourself.