Belgium: Football’s Next ‘Golden Generation’

This is the final part in a series of World Cup favorites.  Articles on Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, and Italy can be found here

A dark horse isn’t a dark horse if everyone believes that they are a dark horse.  That’s exactly where Belgium is and this is the reason why I’m doing an article on them as favorites.  Over the last three or four years, several brilliant young players have come through to bring Belgium back to the international spotlight.

Continue reading Belgium: Football’s Next ‘Golden Generation’

Italy: Road to Redemption

As we gear up for the World Cup 2014, the Prawn Sandwich Brigade will be looking at this year’s favorites to win it all in Brazil.  These articles highlight the differences from four years ago, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each team.  This is Part 5 in a 6-part series on the bookmakers’ favorites. Articles on Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, and Belgium can be found here

In World Cup years, we usually attempt to base how good a team will be based on where most of their players play their club football.  It’s a pretty good strategy for broadly assessing the favorites; however,  it would be a mistake to do this for Italy since all their likely starters come from the Serie A which has been roundly criticized for being on the decline, yet this is a solid group of players that will be very difficult to beat.

I said it before with Argentina, the best teams are not formed with the best 11 players you’ve got.  Team cohesion matters almost as much and Italy have it.

Continue reading Italy: Road to Redemption

Spain: Subtle Changes Needed

As we gear up for the World Cup 2014, the Prawn Sandwich Brigade will be looking at this year’s favorites to win it all in Brazil.  These articles highlight the differences from four years ago, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each team.  This is Part 3 in a 6-part series on the bookmakers’ favorites. ICYMI, here’s Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, and Belgium 

Spain always tend to get written off for one reason or the other, but this current generation is one of the most successful of all time.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the greatest team I’ve ever seen (I’m only 21 but what’s your point?).  What’s more interesting is how they’ll defend their World Cup title.  They have most of the same players from 4 years ago, but will need a slightly different approach.

Continue reading Spain: Subtle Changes Needed

Germany: Putting It All Together

As we gear up for the World Cup 2014, the Prawn Sandwich Brigade will be looking at this year’s favorites to win it all in Brazil.  These articles highlight the differences from four years ago, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each team.  This is Part 4 in a 6-part series on the bookmakers’ favorites. Articles on Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy, and Belgium can be found here.

“Football is a relatively simple game.  Twenty Two men chase a ball for ninety minutes and at the end of the day the Germans always win.” – Gary Lineker

This quote was funnier 20 years ago as Germany never used to have the flashiest stars, but appeared in more World Cup finals than any other nation.  This year no one is overlooking them and many believe that Germany will finally put it all together and win their first major trophy since 1996.

Continue reading Germany: Putting It All Together

Argentina: Balance, Fortune, and Hostility

As we gear up for the World Cup 2014, the Prawn Sandwich Brigade will be looking at this year’s favorites to win it all in Brazil.  These articles highlight the differences from four years ago, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each team.  This is Part 2 in a 6-part series on the bookmakers’ favorites. Part 1 can be found here

Argentina are the pantomime villain of football.  In many ways they’re like the Duke Blue Devils. But no one can deny that this side are seriously good and are vastly improved from the crazy-shenanigans of Diego Maradona’s reign 4 years ago. Continue reading Argentina: Balance, Fortune, and Hostility

Brazil: Different Players, Similar Strategy

As we gear up for the World Cup 2014, the Prawn Sandwich Brigade will be looking at this year’s favorites to win it all in Brazil.  These articles highlight the differences from four years ago, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each team.  This is Part 1 in a 6-part series on the bookmakers’ favorites.

Brazil is almost always on the list of favorites by default, as they are A casa do jogo bonito.  Naturally when a new Brazilian star matures, he becomes absolutely brilliant and with him rests the hopes of World Cup glory for a sixth time.  In 2010 it was Kaka, ’06 was Ronaldinho, ’02 was Ronaldo. This year it’s definitely Neymar.

They aren’t afraid to make coaching changes often.  So while this 2014 version of Brazil will feature almost an entirely new team from who they had out there in 2010, their approach this year will be pretty similar, albeit with some subtle tweaks.

Continue reading Brazil: Different Players, Similar Strategy

Sherwood Sacked! PSB Rapid Reaction

The day has finally come for Sherwood.  After only five months in charge of Tottenham, the learn-on-the-job manager has been sacked.

Spurs supporters could probably have seen this coming for several weeks now.  Despite a very hot start to his managerial career, Sherwood’s Spurs cooled down considerably to sit in 6th place on the table.  Spurs also barely eked out qualification for European football next season with a little help from Fair Play and bitter rivals, Arsenal, in the FA Cup Finals.

The decision to move on from Sherwood will ultimately prove to be positive.  While quite spirited, Tim Sherwood never showed much acumen for the kind of tactics or player management needed in the Premier League.  Spurs would do well to look for a coach that the players respect and who will respect his own players.  Years of experience, especially in the Premier League, will likely be a deciding factor this time around.

Among the names being thrown around for the open job are Louis van Gaal, Mauricio Pochettino, Frank de Boer, Massimiliano Allegri, and David Moyes.

Pochettino and de Boer have the most upside, and hiring one of these two would suit Tottenham’s vision long term.  Moyes is a risk and he might not even want  to risk the job, given his Man Utd compensation and the risk of back-to-back  big club failures.  Watching Tim Sherwood’s Spurs gave us some indication of who should leave the club and who should stay.  Whoever the next manager is has the big task of sorting out which players still want to play for Spurs and which ones do not.

Here is the official statement from Spurs’ Chairman, Daniel Levy:

“We appointed Tim mid-season as someone who knew both the players and the Club.

“We agreed an 18-month contract with a break clause at the end of the season and we have now exercised that option.

“Since appointing Tim as Assistant First Team Coach in 2008 and then as Technical Co-ordinator in 2010 and Head of Football Development in 2012, we have been supportive of him during football management changes throughout that period. On behalf of the Club, I should like to state our thanks for all his efforts during his years with us. We wish him great success in his managerial career.

“Moving forward, now the season is over, we shall embark on the process of finding a new Head Coach. We have a talented squad and exciting young players coming through. We need to build on this season, develop our potential and inspire the kind of performances that we associate with our great Club.”