The Mighty Pirlo Retires

22 years, 5 months, and sixteen days after his first professional game, Andrea Pirlo has announced his retirement from football. Pirlo leaves the game with:

  • 832 games played
  • 6 Serie A titles
  • 2 Coppa Italia
  • 3 Supercoppa Italiana
  • 2 UEFA Champions Leagues
  • 2 UEFA Super Cups
  • 1 FIFA Club World Cup
  • 1 World Cup

An incredible career and an absolutely phenomenal player. Enjoy seventeen minutes of his best bits. 

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No Pirlo, No Party

“I lifted my eyes to the heavens and asked for help because if God exists, there’s no way he’s French.” – Pirlo before taking a penalty in the 2006 World Cup Final

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The Young Guns

England. Every major tournament, we watch in frustration at the men’s senior team’s inability to succeed. We fly through qualification – usually – against small teams from Eastern Europe who have only been countries for a few decades then when we’re met with quality opposition, we’re stuck. When the summer rolls by and England head off to the World Cup in Russia, will it be a repeat of previous competitions where the spectators throw away 90 minutes of their lives watching the dullest football possible? Possibly. But we’ll get to that in a few months time.

2017 has been a success for English football. The men’s senior team did qualify for the World Cup, and although it is generally expected, it’s still an achievement. The U20s team won their respective world cup with a 1-0 win over Venezuela then the U17s won their world cup in India with a stunning 5-2 win over Spain.

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A new golden generation. That’s a lot of pressure to be piled on so early in advance, don’t you think, Gary? England are notorious for failing to live up to expectations. The senior team have only won one major trophy and that was fifty years ago!

There are many reasons why the senior team fails to perform; lack of cohesion is a key factor and the effect of strong cohesion can be seen within the German teams from 2010 and 2014, as well as the Spanish World Cup winning team in 2010. Many of these players had played together every week in their clubs; Barcelona and Real Madrid made the core of the Spanish side, Bayern Munich and Dortmund formed the bulk of the German squad. We can argue that in England there’s a few from Liverpool, few from Manchester United, a couple from Leicester, but it’s not enough. They’re footballers – surely they can play no matter who they’re on a team with.

Before they get to that point, these young players need to mature. What is important now is that these “golden” youth teams are provided with a chance to grow – to make mistakes – and develop. They need time to move up through the youth ranks and have the opportunity to represent their senior side. Too often, young players are not given the space to learn in a senior side for fear of losing league points – and in the Premier League, every point matters (unless you’re Manchester City who are running away with the league this season).

Many will argue that bringing in foreign players, removes the opportunity for home grown talent – and whilst I don’t completely agree with that statement, I believe club managers do need to let talented young players into the senior squad, even if it is at the risk of them making a mistake. If we do not make mistakes, we do not learn.

If nobody took a chance on the class of ’92, we wouldn’t have Beckham, the Nevilles, Butt, Scholes, and Giggs.

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THE CITY OF LIVERPOOL IS RED

It was derby day in Liverpool and – as expected – the city remained red. mane2.jpg

With a one-two from Firmino, Sadio Mane blasted a beauty of a shot through the legs of the defender and into the bottom corner of the goal. Not long after a Coutinho shot was saved, the Toffees equalised  with Pennington scoring his first goal for Everton in his first appearance of the season.

Only two minutes and fifty-seven seconds later, Coutinho beat two players and curled a shot into the top corner. He and fellow countryman, Firmino, arrived back to Liverpool from the international break on a private jet paid for by the club, and they’ll definitely feel the move was worth it.

coutinho.jpgCoutinho went on to set up Liverpool’s third – by super sub Divock Origi. Everton pushed – and that’s something the top teams have always down to us which has brought out the best performances and today was no different. It started out as a scrappy match, with the ref having a short word with the captains of each team to settle the players then the fun began… Tackles everywhere, poor refereeing, but some interesting stats:

  • Klopp becomes the first manager to win his first three Merseyside derbies.
  • Mane scored in both derbies this season, joining the likes of Sturridge and Suarez – get you a man like Mane
  • Only Giroud (seven) has more goals as a sub than Origi (six).origi

With Everton facing off against Manchester United on Tuesday, we’ll need to hope they thrash them… next up for LFC, it’s Bournemouth and most likely without Mane who left the game with an injury, of which Klopp said “it doesn’t look too good”.

Oh, and anybody seen Lukaku or is he still in Dejan Lovren’s pocket?

Bravo Cruzeiro! #VamosMudarOsNúmeros

Cruzeiro EC, a football team in Brazil, did something special to mark International Women’s Day (8th March).

In partnership with Umbro, the club printed statistics on the players’ shirts tying in with their regular squad numbers. The stats were collected by NGO AzMina – an organisation that fights for women’s empowerment – to illustrate the difficulties faced in Brazil for women.

“A lot of people think that the fight for women’s rights doesn’t make sense anymore, but the data that the players will wear shows that this is still a current issue” – Leticia Bahia, director of NGO AzMina

Some details from the shirts:

  • Every 11 minutes a woman is raped
  • 33% suffer with street harrassment
  • Only 12% of the mayors in Brazil are women
  • 17% are forced to share a prison with men
  • 25% have post-natal depression
  • 38% of women murdered were killed by their partners
  • 35% of women have experienced harassment on public transport
  • Only 37% of employees in large companies are women
  • In films, only 29% of protagonists are women
  • Women’s wages are 30% lower
  • In 23% of municipalities, there are no females on the council
  • Three out of ten women have been kissed against their will
  • Out of ten unemployed people, seven of them will be women

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You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain

On the 20th March, Liverpool were 2-0 against Southampton at half time. It looked to be an easy win – we had it in the bag. In the second half, Martin Skrtel – who had been out injured since December – returned to the pitch and subsequently gave away a penalty. It was saved, thankfully, but Southampton won the game 3-2 thanks to some woeful defending on Liverpool’s part. The team conceded as many goals in 40 minutes with Skrtel in the team than their previous 795 minutes without him. What’s it down to? Return from injury nerves? Lack of play time recently so everything is a bit ropey? Or just time for him to go? That was certainly the consensus on social media.

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It’s easy to cast aside a player when they’re not up to standard, but let us not forget that this man is Slovakia’s national team captain and has won the Slovak footballer of the year award four times. Sure he’s second on the list of all time premier league own goals list with a total of seven, but he shares that position with Jamie Carragher – who is held in god-like regard by the Kop. (Carra had 508 appearances and 5 goals with the club, where Skrtel is on 16 goals in 237 appearances, just so you know). And in October, Skrtel was the team’s best passer with an accuracy percentage of 87%. This is a man who literally gives blood for the team on a regular basis – how many times has he had his head stapled together on the sidelines and finished the game?

Sometimes fans strike me as babies throwing their toys out of the pram when games don’t go their way. Lovren had his head on the chopping board for a long time at the beginning of his Liverpool career, but his game has settled and he’s putting in magnificent performances – and the fans love him now. Sometimes you’re the hero, sometimes you’re the villain. One thing is for certain: Liverpool fans will never hear a bad word about Stevie’s Slip.

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You can just see the title slipping away along with every Liverpool fan’s hopes and dreams #wegoagain #itsouryear