Friday Funny: Ian Holloway on Moving the 2022 World Cup to Winter

We’re a few months after the fact on this, but it’s late on a Friday and we’re big fans of any rational responses to the irrational decision to stage the 2022 World Cup in the ceramic kiln that is Qatar in the height of summer, so … here’s the inimitable Ian Holloway, Crystal Palace manager, reacting to Michel Platini’s suggestion that the 2022 tournament be rescheduled for the winter, right in the middle of most European seasons:

He never disappoints, Holloway. He and Crystal Palace are currently in fourth place in the English League Championship table, seven points behind leaders Cardiff City and comfortably in the promotion-playoff zone.

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Yanks In England, Week 9: Tracking Back

Bolton extended its Premier League unbeaten run to five games with a 1-1 draw at Wigan on Saturday, and U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden was involved in Wanderers’ goal.

He sent in a cross from the right that was eventually put away by Johan Elmander for a 68th minute equalizer. Holden started again and went the full 90.

Fulham is still searching for its first win away from home this season, having fallen 2-1 at surprising West Bromwich Albion (they’re in sixth place) on Saturday. Clint Dempsey started, played 90 minutes and whipped a long-distance shot just wide in the early stages.

Eddie Johnson dressed but did not play for Fulham.

At White Hart Lane, Everton’s Tim Howard made an uncharacteristic mistake that led to Tottenham’s goal in a 1-1 draw. Three minutes after Leighton Baines had put the Toffees in front with a superb free kick, the U.S. keeper waved at an Alan Hutton cross, missing it completely, and Peter Crouch headed it back in front for Rafael van der Vaart to power home for his fifth goal in Spurs’ last five matches. That signing? Working out pretty well.

Howard made three saves in the match, including a fine stop of a worm-burner from Luka Modric at the top of the box.

Marcus Hahnemann and Wolves fell to top-of-the-table Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The U.S. keeper played 90 minutes and made three saves.

Aston Villa and its trio of Americans faced Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. There was talk that young U.S. defender Eric Lichaj might get the start due to an injury to regular right back Luke Young, but as it happened, Lichaj did not even dress for the game.

Brad Friedel did, of course, but was foiled by a Richard Dunne own goal 24 minutes in that handed a 1-0 win to the hosts. Friedel made one save in the match.

Brad Guzan dressed but did not play. He’s expected to start Villa’s fourth-round Carling Cup tilt against Burnley tomorrow.

West Ham remained rooted to the bottom of the table after a disappointing 2-1 loss at home to Newcastle. The Hammers took the lead 12 minutes in on Carlton Cole’s first goal of the season, but surrendered one on either side of halfime to lose. Jonathan Spector did not dress for the game.

Liverpool’s American owners turned up at Anfield for the second straight week and surely enjoyed the proceedings a bit more this time, as the Reds picked up a much-needed three points with a 2-1 win over Blackburn. Fernando Torres hit the winner—only his second goal of the year—in the 53rd minute.

Quote of the Year Race Heats Up

We saw a new candidate enter the race this week in the person of West Brom coach Roberto Di Matteo, who offered the following after his promotion side* picked up yet another three points in the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Fulham:

“We try to play football and we believe that is the way to win games. It is quite simple actually.”

Indeed it is, Roberto. Maybe too simple.

We also enjoyed Blackpool manager Ian Holloway’s postgame comment on his team’s 2-0 defeat at Birmingham:

“I did not expect them to play a diamond in midfield. I felt I let the lads down a bit. But I shall also have a go at our scouting set-up because no one told me they would play with a diamond.”

Can Blackpool get a  “do-over”?

Non-Yank–Related Results

Manchester United bounced back from the Wayne Rooney U-Turn and picked up a vital away win against Stoke City, prevailing 2-1 on two goals by Mexican international Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

Rooney, who has a sore ankle, did not play. In fact, he took a trip to Dubai to celebrate his 25 th birthday (really).

The Red Devils trail Chelsea by five points after nine games.

In the weekend’s biggest game, Arsenal got the benefit of an early red card to Manchester City midfielder Dedryck Boyata en route to a 3-0 rout at the City of Manchester Stadium. The result leaves both teams clustered behind Chelsea (and around Man U) with 17 points. Arsenal is in second place on goal difference.

*West Brom’s nickname is the Baggies, but no one is sure where that name came from—only that it replaced the old-school and almost equally obscure name for the team, The Throstles.

Your Move, Holloway

Last season, Wolves manager Mick McCarthy took home the honors for top quote in the Premiership, and it wasn’t even close. See here and here for just two examples of his postgame bon mots. He was the Tennyson of the Touchline in 2009-10.

This year, the promotion of Blackpool and its gabby manager Ian Holloway held out the promise of a two-horse race for the title. Some observers even predicted Holloway would run away with it, and he has gotten off to a strong start with last week’s “phantasmagorical” quote.

But this week, McCarthy served notice that he (literally) would not go quietly, offering up this gem to explain his selective hearing on the sidelines:

Matt Jarvis for England? Yes, I heard those chants. It’s when they sing ‘Mick McCarthy is a big-nose w@nker’ that I don’t hear the crowd.”

He’s back!

And still champ until someone knocks him off.

Tip of the hat to reader Old 27, who has the strength of 10 men.

EJ Debuts, Spector Disappears, Howard in a Wild One: Yanks in England, Weekend Wrap

Eddie Johnsonremember him? —made his first Premier League appearance for Fulham in nearly 11 months, coming on for fellow Yank Clint Dempsey in the 82nd minute of Fulham’s 2-1 win over Wolverhampton and U.S. keeper Marcus Hahnemann.

Fulham dominated the early stages, yet went down 1-0 on a goal by Jean Claude Jelle van Damme in the 10th minute. They tied it just after halftime on a goal by new signing Moussa Dembele of Belgium, who went on to win it in stoppage time with a rocket of a free kick.

The Cottagers will need Dembele (and Dempsey, and probably Johnson) to step up, as they lost England international Bobby Zamora to a broken leg after a challenge by Wolves midfielder Karl Henry in the 28th minute. Zamora will miss at least four months.

The game was a chippy affair over all, with nine yellow cards shown, along with one red, to Wolves’ Christophe Berra in the last minutes.

In North London, American Stuart Holden again got the start in central midfield and went the distance for Bolton but, after hanging tough for an hour, Wanderers lost defender Gary Cahill to a red card and were overwhelmed 4-1 by Arsenal.

Tim Howard and Everton hosted the U.S. keeper’s old team, Manchester United, and staged an electrifying comeback to gain a 3-3 tie. Trailing 3-1 as stoppage time began, the Toffees got goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta in the dying minutes to snatch a point.

They were on the attack again when the referee blew the final whistle—literally, as Everton charged upfield—moments after Arteta’s goal. Everton coach David Moyes was not pleased with that, but he will, of course, take the point.

Howard made a circus kick save off a deflected Paul Scholes tracer from distance in the first  half.

Chelsea removed most of the drama from its encounter with former coach Avram Grant and last-place West Ham just two minutes in, when Michael Essien buried a cross from Didier Drogba.

Salomon Kalou doubled the margin in the 17th minute, and Essien struck again in the 83rd.

The Hammers’ ever reliable midfielder Scott Parker pulled one back for the home team—and became the first player to score against Chelsea in four games this year (that’s 17 for, 1 against for the Blues)—in the 84th, but it was too little too late.

Jonathan Spector did not dress for West Ham, which is pointless on the season and has given up 12 goals in four games.

In non-U.S.-related games, plucky Blackpool climbed to fourth in the table with a 2-0 win over fellow promotion team Newcastle, prompting the first entry in the Ian Holloway campaign for quote of the season:

“I am more than delighted with that. If there was a better word than delighted, I would like to think about it now and say it. I might make my own up—‘phantasmagorical,’ whatever. If you think about the end of last season, the trouncing we got here, if you look at how short a period of time it is, if you look at the quality they have got, I am absolutely delighted. My boys get stronger and better all the time and I have got to be careful that I don’t burst with pride about them.”

It may not be the winner, but it’s a solid start.

Blackburn and MLS alum Ryan Nelsen tied big-spending Manchester City on the road, 1-1, but Nelsen had to leave the game just before halftime after a rough challenge left him dinged up.

West Brom held visiting Tottenham to a 1-1 draw, and nearly won the game with three clear chances in the final 10 minutes.

Sunderland traveled to Wigan and got a goal from a player familiar to U.S. fans, one Asamoah Gyan, aka “Baby Jet,” who was making his debut for the Black Cats. The goal did not stand up, though, as Antolin Alcaraz headed in an 86th minute equalizer and the teams split the points.

Finally, Liverpool reflected the malaise at the club in the wake of its American owners’ debt woes, turning in a lackluster performance in a 0-0 road draw with Birmingham.

As the league site put it, “Liverpool were indebted to a superb display from goalkeeper Jose Reina for earning a point from a goalless draw with Birmingham City.”

See what they did there? Indebted? Cheeky. From the official website, no less. We doubt NFL.com would ever do something like that.

Birmingham dominated the game and blew three solid chances, as well as an opportunity to tie Man U in third place in the standings. They’re currently in fifth.

U.S. keepers Brad Friedel and Brad Guzan, along with young American defender Eric Lichaj, travel to Britannia Stadium with Aston Villa to take on Stoke City today.

While We Were Out

 

Backpost World Headquarters and most satellite offices went dark there for a few days—we were off securing Massachusetts beaches after the recent shark sightings, among other distractions.

But we’re back now, and ready to play catch-up: Here’s a look at the Top 10 Stories We Missed in the past five days:

10. Michael Bradley Scores in ‘Gladbach Opener

There were rumors that the 23-year-old U.S. midlfielder and son of national-team coach Bob Bradley would move to a bigger club in the offseason, but that didn’t happen, and it appears to suit both club and player just fine. Bradley opened the 2010-11 scoring account for his Bundesliga club, Borussia Moenchengladbach, hitting the net 38 minutes into their first-round German Cup game against Erzebirge Aue. Click here for the hightlights.

9. Bob Bradley Not to Villa, After All?

It seems that way, despite recent “reports” suggesting the U.S. coach would join fellow yanks Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj at Villa Park. Bradley’s agent, Ron Waxman, shot down the rumors last week. Stay tuned.

8. D.C. United is Toast

This didn’t necessarily happen in the past week, but now, at 3-14-3, the Red and Black—the original MLS dynasty—is all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs—for just the second time in the 15-year history of Major League Soccer.

7. MLS Youth Academy Signings

The league’s escalating designated-player arms race has gotten plenty of attention recently, and deservedly so, but there have been some notable acquisitions at the other end of the talent-pool spectrum in the past week, as the MLS youth academies are starting to bear fruit.

D.C. United, which already had academy products midfielder Andy Najar and keeper Bill Hamid on its first-team roster, added midfielder Conor Shanosky.

The Colorado Rapids signed striker Davy Armstrong while Chicago inked midfielder Victor Pineda.

These youngsters—all of them 17 or 18 years old—join Red Bulls striker Juan Agudelo, LA Galaxy forward Tristan Bowen, and FC Dallas’s four homegrown signeesBryan LeyvaMoises HernándezRubén Luna and Víctor Ulloa—in the ranks of MLS academy players to sign professional contracts with the league.

These homegrown signings are arguably just as important to the future of the league as the DP blockbusters.

6. Real Salt Lake Blanks Columbus 2-0

The Red Bulls–LA Galaxy game (more on that later) hogged the headlines, but this matchup between Columbus, the top team in the East, and Real Salt Lake, the defending champs and the team currently nipping at the Galaxy’s heels in the West, is just as likely to be an MLS Cup preview as the glamour matchup in New York.

RSL midfielder Javier Morales stole the show with two excellent goals, good enough to win Player of the Week honors. Highlights here.

5. Geovanni Signs with San Jose—MLS’s 14th Designated Player

An attacking midfielder, Geovanni, 30, has one cap with Brazilian national team, and experience with Barcelona, Benfica, Cruzeiro, Manchester City and, most recently, Hull City.

He had a strong season at Hull in 2008-09, but fell out of favor during the Tigers’ relegation disaster last season. Will he help the young San Jose squad in its playoff quest this year?

4. Landon Donovan Stays Put

The MLS transfer window has slammed shut, and Donovan is still running the attack for the LA Galaxy.

This is huge for the league, as Commissioner Don Garber said a month ago, and we think it’s safe to say that Garber priced Donovan out of any transfer move: No team was going to shell out $15 million (or thereabouts) for a 28-year-old attacking midfielder.

So Donovan will finish out the season here, and if Garber’s dreams come true, that season will end with LD and a recovered David Beckham squaring off against Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, and Juan Pablo Angel in MLS Cup 2011 on ABC.

3. Toronto FC Whups Cruz Azul in CONCACAF Champions League

Fresh off a 4-1 trouncing of Pachuca, Mexican side Cruz Azul—“the Real Madrid of CONCACAF” with five CCL titles—may have been a bit overconfident heading into its 2010-11 group-stage meeting with Toronto. The visitors were surprised by goals from Martin Saric and Mista and a determined Reds side, which held on for a 2-1 victory. Big win for MLS.

2. LA Galaxy 1, Red Bulls 0

In arguably the most star-studded and atmospheric game in MLS history, with Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker and Eva Longoria joining a sellout crowd in the stands, and Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, Juan Pablo Angel and Landon Donovan on the field (and David Beckham on the LA bench), the visiting Galaxy took advantage of a turnover by Marquez to score the game’s only goal.

New York was more effective in the second half, as Henry and Angel started to percolate, but they couldn’t find an equalizer. Afterward, Donovan had this to say:

“We’ve heard a lot of talk about the New York Red Bulls over the last month, and we wanted to reiterate to people who the best team in the league is.”

Henry:

“They have been playing together for a while, and you could see that today. When this team is ready, we’re going to be able to compete with them. But we couldn’t compete with them today.”

Highlights here. The teams meet again on September 24 at the Home Depot Center.

1. Premier League Season Kicks Off

Week 1 of the 2010-11 Premier League season is in the books, and while it was a fairly sluggish opening round—when we’re in charge, we’ll push the season opener back to September, to give players a real offseason—there were some notable moments.

Chelsea—and Didier Drogbapicked up where they left off, with a rout for the Blues and a hat-trick for Drogba; Man U rolled over Premier League returnees Newcastle, 3-0; Stuart Holden hit the post for Bolton against Clint Dempsey‘s Fulham; Tim Howard uncharacteristically fumbled away Everton’s opener against Blackburn; Mario Balotelli signed with Man City; and promotion side Blackpool debuted spectacularly, routing Wigan 4-0 in front of manager Ian Holloway, who is sure to challenge Wolverhampton manager Mick McCarthy for top quote in the top flight this year.

Holloway produced the following, after an “ugly” win against Chesterfield a few years back:

“To put it in gentleman’s terms if you’ve been out for a night and you’re looking for a young lady and you pull one, some weeks they’re good looking and some weeks they’re not the best. Our performance today would have been not the best looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi. She wasn’t the best looking lady we ended up taking home but she was very pleasant and very nice, so thanks very much, let’s have a coffee.”

Click here for some of Holloway’s vintage work. Should be a good battle with McCarthy this season.

Also notable:

• John Rooney, brother of um, uh—Wayne; right, that’s it—is on trial with the Portland Timbers, a USSF D-2 team that will make the leap to MLS next season. Rooney is 19, and hoping to establish his career outside his big brother’s big shadow.

The Vancouver Whitecaps are stockpiling talent in advance of their entry into MLS next year.

Gonzalo Segares, for our money one of the best left backs in MLS history, rejoined the Chicago Fire

• Philadelphia’s first-year striker Danny Mwanga continued to build his case for Rookie of the Year honors, bagging his seventh goal of the year in a 1-1 tie with Colorado.

All right, that should get us back up to speed. If we missed anything, let us know in the comments.

CONCACAF Champions League, Yanks Abroad, and MLS goodness to follow.