Cultured Football #18
Intangibles, scouting & Ruben Dias
Some technical gremlins got in the way and I didn’t manage to send Cultured Football at the usual Saturday evening slot. Apologies for that. Hope you enjoy it nevertheless.
There are great stories everywhere you look in football – that is what hooks up – but most tend to look at what is happening at the very top. Because of this, they end up missing truly historical or magical achievements. Wigan managing to avoid relegation despite going into the season with a negative twelve season. Or Bolton who achieved promotion having in the relegation zone for the first half of the season.
Such a pity that fans couldn’t be there to enjoy it with them. For you, I’ve selected the usual five great football themed articles. Delightful.
Wigan's League One survival should go down as a minor miracle
The story of how Wigan managed to avoid relegation from League One might not seem to be an overly interesting ones but, trust me, it is. 41 year-old Leam Richardsom was the main architect of this survival and it should be considered among the most sensational stories of recent years. To give you an idea of how stacked against them the odds were, “when the first-team training ground was sold to Preston, staff worked into the night to salvage what they could before the keys were handed over.”
Tonara’s Sardinian poet & merchant fighting Serie A relegation
It looks as if Cagliari will be extending their stay in the Serie A having spent a considerable portion of the current season in the relegation zone. Two of the key players who have contributed to this relative success – 33 year old Marco Sau and 20 year old Andrea Carboni – both hail from the small Sardinian village of Tonara (population: 2,000 circa). This florid piece looks at the relevance of this locality and binds it with the work of literary giants who have gone through this area.
João Carlos Teixeira talks Liverpool, Diogo Jota and Feyenoord
Much like Manchester United had done when Cristiano Ronaldo had ran rings around them in a pre-season friendly, a game between their and Sporting Lisbon’s U18s is all it took to convince Liverpool that they had to sign midfielder Joao Carlos Texeira. But, whilst he didn’t follow Ronaldo’s path to stardom, Texeira still has great things to say about his time in Anfield. He talks about those years, and what he has been up to since leaving Liverpool, in this interview.
‘She has a skill you can’t buy’
This weekend, Chelsea take on Barcelona in the women’s Champions League final. Whatever the result, just being there confirms the legendary status of their manager Emma Hayes. She has helped build the side from the ground up ever since taking the job in 2012, leading them to four title wins (including the last two), two FA Cup successes and another two in the League Cup. Indeed, so dominant has she been that it is hard to look beyond her when searching for the best English coach of their generation.
Intangibles, scouting & Ruben Dias
When Manchester City signed Ruben Dias last summer, Tiago Estevao was among those who advocated caution over a player who was not seen as being comfortable enough with the ball to seamlessly fit into Pep Guardiola’s system. This was not a knee-jerk reaction but rather the considered analysis – backed up by statistics – of someone qualified in performance analysis. It is fair to say that Dias’ performances have proven Estevao massively wrong and the Portuguese defender’s success has led him to revisit the analysis. It is an interesting piece not least because it forces Estevao to look at areas that cannot always be easily measured but which still contribute massively towards a successful outcome.
Last Week’s Most Read
As I expected, the article listing the best U21 players across Europe proved to be the most read article from last week’s newsletter. If you were among the few who decided against reading it or never got to it, here’s another opportunity.