Monday, October 01, 2007

Interesting Tidbits From The World Of Football

There's a really wide-ranging interview of Arsene Wenger in the Guardian, including this nugget:
Thierry was coming up to 30 years old [born 18 Aug, 1977]; he knew we were moving forward with a young team. He wasn't exactly sure of my plans about staying. He had come to a stage, where, as a forward he didn't have much time left. I understand that completely. He said to me: 'Coach, it's true we have a good team, it's also true we have a young team. It will become very strong, for sure, but me, I don't have the time to wait. Will it be strong next season, or the one after that? I don't know - but me, now, I've faced up to this decision.

And I said to him: 'But Thierry, I understand your problem completely. I think the team will be very strong, very soon but I understand why you ask the question.' So, he told me: 'I want to leave,' and that's why he left. With hindsight, it's true that David leaving had a bearing on Thierry's decision, made it easier in some way. Thierry's injuries also contributed to his leaving. He was less involved with the team and then, after a few games, you had to say, no, we are not going to win the league. The strength of a team depends on self-belief and once we were out of the title race, we lost our belief. I mean the belief the players have in themselves. Maybe, at a certain stage, Thierry thought the belief had gone.

There are also reports of discontent in the Chelsea camp with new manager Avram Grant, who apprently coaches as if it's 1977:

Grant, a former Israel national team coach, seems to have made little headway in attempts to quell resistance to his accession as Chelsea manager. Senior players continue to question his ability and qualifications to lead a team of Chelsea's calibre, while members of the coaching staff also harbour serious doubts.

Ahead of last Wednesday's League Cup victory at Hull, Terry elected to hold a team meeting in which he called on team-mates to rally behind the new manager. Terry's message was ill-received, however, with several players insisting Grant was not good enough to coach them. One respected international spoke with team-mates after Terry's words, complaining: 'Chelsea deserve a bigger coach than him. Grant does not have the quality to coach a team like this. When we play big opponents we will suffer because of him.'

There are many at the club who agree. Abramovich is understood to have received unfavourable reports on Grant's coaching methods from club staff, one of whom describes them as '25 years behind the times'. The Israeli has not helped his cause by using training drills that many players believe to be outdated when compared to the cutting-edge methods they had become accustomed to under Mourinho. According to a source, at least one member of Grant's coaching staff has told friends that he will consider leaving the club if there is no further change in management.

I suspect there is more to come out of this story. By the way, completely off topic, I'd just like everyone to know that Barcelona have won their last four games, including major wins against Sevilla and Lyon; have scored 13 goals in those four games; have La Liga's highest scorer (Messi, with five goals in as many games) and have seen their biggest new player (Henry) score a hat-trick. Oh, and Ronaldinho is supposed to be back this Tuesday against Stuttgart in the Champions League. I'd say it was time for him to put up or shut up.

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