For my final blog post of this semester, I will be writing about the controversial topic that is the new league for international teams across the world. This league was created so tat international teams will have more time to play with each other so that when they go out for the World Cup, they will be ready to play at the highest level possible. However there is quite a lot of resistance from the competitive leagues across the world. This is primarily as a result of the fact that the players that they spend so much money on are more likely to be injured whilst playing on international duty because they end up playing so many games. But the main argument that supports the running of the UEFA Nations league is that it is almost impossible to expect a group of men or women to just get together three or four times a year and instantly click and play well. The England manager Gareth Southgate has come out publicly in support of the league for these very reasons. In an interview with sky sports, he discusses how countries like Germany and Spain go into the World Cup and the Euro competitions with an automatic advantage, as a result of the majority of their players playing for the same few professional teams. Whilst England has arguably always had the best quality players, but most of the time they had one of the lowest quality teams. Players however are mostly in support of the implementation of this league, for a lot of the same reasons. This is very interesting because the players, when they play for their countries, automatically make a lot more money due to media exposure and power they get from the people. Yet there is a select number of players, like Ronaldo and Messi, that are willing to commit everything in order to win a competition for their countries, because of how much it means to them. Overall, this will be a topic of discussion for a. very long time.
Leicester City are not one of the well-known clubs around the world around 5 years ago, however the team that was quite recently a borderline non-league club, is now synonymous with being the definition of the soccer equivalent of an underdog. The club was deep in debt 10 years ago, and as a result of this, sold many of their okays and dropped down to the bottom league, the third division in English football. Following a new buyer of the club, their renovation began, and they began to play well again. Under the management of the Italian Claudio Ranieri, who had managed clubs like Chelsea and Monaco, they rose up the ranks eventually to reach the Premier League Elite. They had a mediocre first season in the Premier League, finishing 15th out of the 20 clubs, but tat was a finish that was to be expected due to the competitiveness of the league. Money was always an issue for teams like Leicester, considering that Manchester City at the time paid 75 million for Raheem Sterling, and the entirety of the Leicester squad cost around 33 million total. However the following season would be something that any soccer fan will never forget, because it showed that money does not mean that a team will be the best, and above all, you cannot buy the league. Going into the 2015/16 season, the odds of Leicester City winning the league were 5,000-1 the same odds of Elvis Presley being found alive that year. And they would go on to do just that, and it was something that completely shook the sporting world to the core. They upset countless top teams like Manchester city and Liverpool, and even had a player for the first time in Premier League history score 11 games in a row, and that player is Jamie Vardy. Along with Vardy, LCFC had player like Rihyad Mahrez, Wes Morgan, and Kasper Shmeichael, all of whom are now very well-known and high-quality players. Rihyad Mahrez was recently sold to Man City for 85 million, and he cost LCFC a mere 300,000 pounds. This sickle season changed every single players lives, and they would go on to play internationally and began to play in Europe as well. All in all, Leicester City had a year that will never be forgotten by the sports world.
For my interview, I face-timed with my longtime coach and friend Gene Morris, who has coached at the high school and competitive level for 25 years. He has led the Poway High School (PHS) varsity team to a San Diego Record of 700 wins as a program, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that team. What I really wanted to talk to him about how, having lived in England as a child and young man, what the difference in the culture is there in comparison to the United States. and what he said was very interesting. What he found was most different was the passion of the fans. In England he told me about the massive amount of hooliganism that goes on there, where fans fight with one another because they truly hate each other so much. Another thing that he said was extremely different was the youth systems that are set up in both of the countries. In England, a young boy or girl will play for the local youth team, and if they are talented enough, will continue on to rise up through the ranks and has a very good chance of getting to pay with a high level professional team. And the brilliance of that system is that very little money is required to partake in such events, while here in the United States it is almost the complete opposite. He touched on the fat of how here in the USA, the players need to pay massive amount of money in order to even play at the competitive club level, where you can at times have mediocre kids playing only because they’re parents have money. On top of that, you go to very few tournaments where college coaches are actually scouting, as a result of the scattered setup. As a result of this, the only way to actually be seen is to pay for trips to the colleges themselves, and see the school and coaches firsthand, which of course costs a lot of money. Another thing that Coach Gene discussed during the interview was the lack of money in the sport here in the United States. Kids are less likely to play high school soccer or soccer in general if the max scholarship they can get for the sport will only cover half the tuition cost, its just not worth it. So instead, they go play football, track, or even more recently lacrosse, because they can actually get high value scholarships.Although he does say all of these things, he states that the tLent is here, and the fan base is here, we just need to exploit it.
Sir Alex Ferguson is widely regarded as one of the most successful managers in the English League of all time. The Scotts man completely revolutionized the club of Manchester United into a powerhouse club that toppled the then unbeatable team of Liverpool FC. Starting his career out in Scotland with East Stirlingshire moving to Aberdeen, and following successful spells at both of those clubs he moved to the prestigious club of Manchester United, and the team wanted results immediately, but the start was not what those at the club were expecting. After a poor first two seasons with the club, finishing 6th and 7th in the league his next season would be the one to remember. After playing Sporting Lisbon in a friendly and seeing the then 18 year old Cristiano Ronaldo tear up his side, he decided to purchase the young star. Following a number of summer transfers which included bringing in the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, and Carlos Tevez, his side was ready to challenge the Liverpool team. That next season, and for the rest of the time that Sir Alex Ferguson would manage the Manchester United team, they would finish in the top four. A period of time that spanned across 25 seasons, which no other manager is anywhere near his record, and it is most likely a record that will never be broken by another manager in our lifetime. And following his retirement from managing in 2013, he punched his way into the record books. Countless managers have attempted to recreated the prolific successes that Sir Alex Ferguson accomplished over his time at manager, but the fact of the matter is that no other man can manage a team at such a high level, and win 38 trophies across 28 seasons, there is quite literally no way it can happen. All in all, Sir Alex Ferguson completely revolutionized the way that we look at the sport of soccer, and we came to see a whole new aspect of the sport.
The Brazilian style of play known worldwide as “Ginga” is the very epitome of soccer, and has come to be renowned for its skill, speed, and touch on the ball. It was first fully embodies by arguably the best player ever, Pele, who could take on an entire team, and the ball would never touch the ground. In today’s game and style, it is rarely if ever seen at the level that Pele used it. However it is seen somewhat in players like Neymar and Lionel Messi. This style of play is religiously used in the for of indoor and street soccer, which is primarily why it is South American countries that it is most commonly found in. Outside of those two areas, it is extremely difficult to implement in the field of play. The reason that I decided to do a blog post on this is because it is this very style of play that made me love soccer even more. The free flow and just joy that you have while playing in that way is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Pele described it as such, the players became mere trees, and all he had to do was jump with the ball around and even at times over the trees. Which is why, at age 18, he won the World Cup with Brazil, and the rest is history. Ginga is also used in freestyle soccer, where a player does skills in a small space, juggling and balancing the ball on various parts of the body. Touch is key, and the brilliance of this style of play is that one must be extremely gifted in order to master, and a commitment to the sport is key in order to understand the style of ginga. Players such as Pele, Neymar Jr, and Lionel Messi have spent their lives in the streets of South America spending hours upon hours training to balance the ball perfectly onto of every inch of their body. And they translated that onto the soccer pitch in a more controlled way, but still absolutely brilliant to see on TV, and even better to view in person, which I hope to do at some point in my life.
Brands have always played a massive role in not only soccer, but all sports in general. Companies like Nike, Adidas, and Puma have consistently been the top jersey and soccer cleat brands in the soccer world. However new competitors have recently emerged in brands like Umbro, New Balance, and Mitre are all vying for a top spot in the business side of the sport. And something that it very interesting about the brands and all of their apparel, is how much you can tell about a player based off of the way that they are repping their gear. Brands like Nike and Adidas dominate the cleat aspect, and each brand has come to represent a specific type of player, and even specific positions wear a certain type of cleat. For example, the Nike Magista cleat that was released in 2016, has consistently been worn by central midfielders, due to the steadfast material and weight of the cleat being above average in order to control the midfield, not as much about speed, but control and consistency, and that what the cleat has come to represent. The Adidas F50 has been a cleat worn by arguably the best player in the world, Lionel Messi of Barcelona FC, and is associated with blistering pace and close control of the ball. It is cleats such as this that add a whole new dimension to the soccer world, and make the game a lot different. There is a massive group of people that follow these brands religiously for their soccer cleats and jerseys. Limited edition drops by primarily Adidas and Nike are waited for by people online, and ordered as soon as possible. And depending on the cleat, they can be worth thousands of dollars. For example, the “what the” mercurial that is most likely the weirdest looking soccer show on the market, is at a value of 1,000 dollars, because it has the designs of every single mercurial cleat since its debut in 1996. The soccer branding world is amazing to those who love the sport, and it makes it even more interesting.