De Futebol


I found this little about Louis Van Gaal and the strategy he uses at Man U. It is called the long ball. When I was a kid in New Jersey many moons ago our old futebol coach Peter Maloof used this same strategy. We were a huge success winning seventy percent of our matches. We also used six strikers.

The Daily Mail’s Martin Keown Louis van Gaal has Manchester United doing something that none of the other top teams are – playing long balls.

Time and time again his central defenders will bypass the midfield and aim straight for the front and I applaud it.

Van Gaal is playing to his strengths. His best outfield players are Angel di Maria, Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata and he needs to get them on the ball as much as possible. There is no real need to pass through the compartments, especially when Michael Carrick is the only conventional midfielder in his team.


Being direct gets his danger men on the ball in danger areas. It happened time after time against Tottenham Hotspur so it is no surprise that only Burnley have played more long balls this season.

What is interesting is that United are not even that worried about whether Van Persie or Falcao win the initial header from the ball upfield – they just make sure that Rooney or Mata are there to pick up the knockdown, ready to cause problems in the final third. They can suffocate you with so much quality.

It suits United’s defenders too. Paddy McNair, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans are happier playing long balls as they are not confident enough to pick out more intricate passes.


There is a lot to be said for a more direct approach at times. People talk about long balls and short balls but football is about playing the right ball. Too often the obsession with playing the ball through each compartment of the team again and again slows teams down.

Aston Villa and Everton are two of the most guilty. Christian Benteke is one of the best strikers in the Barclays Premier League but he often leaves the pitch looking like he’s in a strop. You can’t blame him because he’s more or less ignored for 90 minutes as his team-mates fail to get the ball to him early. I’ve lost count of the number of times Tom Cleverley has a forward, diagonal pass available but turns round and plays it square because that is what he has been told to do.


Romelu Lukaku is being similarly starved at Everton – he only had four touches in the opposition box at home to Stoke City last week.

Villa and Everton need to vary their approach like they did last season, when both sides were in the top three in terms of the most direct passes played.

The aim of the game is to climb a ladder through the team – it doesn’t matter how you get to the top of it as long as you do.


And as a defender you are far happier when teams are passing the ball round and round in front of you as it is not testing you. Look how Southampton’s direct approach with Sadio Mane caused John Terry problems on Sunday. Burnley’s attacking pair Ashley Barnes and Danny Ings are doing really well but that is because Burnley get the ball forward to them a lot so they have opportunities to affect the match.

Villa and Everton need to vary their approach like they did last season, when both sides were in the top three in terms of the most direct passes played.


The aim of the game is to climb a ladder through the team – it doesn’t matter how you get to the top of it as long as you do.

And as a defender you are far happier when teams are passing the ball round and round in front of you as it is not testing you. Look how Southampton’s direct approach with Sadio Mane caused John Terry problems on Sunday. Burnley’s attacking pair Ashley Barnes and Danny Ings are doing really well but that is because Burnley get the ball forward to them a lot so they have opportunities to affect the match.

Even under Arsene Wenger I played the occasional long ball to mix things up, the most notable being the pass that set up Marc Overmars for the winning goal at Old Trafford in 1998. If you build up too slowly, the opposition has time to get 11 men behind the ball.


I watched the Real Madrid youth team recently and they adopted a similar approach to Van Gaal. Their centre halves played the ball up to the front men quickly and they weren’t obsessed with passing through the compartments for the sake of it.

When you watch youth football in England, defenders seem to be programmed to play the same passes all the time, sideways or slightly forward in a horseshoe shape. It became the trend after all of Barcelona’s success but we need to train the next generation to feel comfortable playing both ways.


Even under Arsene Wenger I played the occasional long ball to mix things up, the most notable being the pass that set up Marc Overmars for the winning goal at Old Trafford in 1998. If you build up too slowly, the opposition has time to get 11 men behind the ball.

I watched the Real Madrid youth team recently and they adopted a similar approach to Van Gaal. Their centre halves played the ball up to the front men quickly and they weren’t obsessed with passing through the compartments for the sake of it.

When you watch youth football in England, defenders seem to be programmed to play the same passes all the time, sideways or slightly forward in a horseshoe shape. It became the trend after all of Barcelona’s success but we need to train the next generation to feel comfortable playing both ways.


It’s the same with defending: we have a generation of centre backs who are only used to facing one striker. So when United or other teams use two up front, defenders look confused.

Van Gaal has clearly spotted this and it is reaping dividends – now it’s time for others to follow suit


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Tony Pulis is set to be named manager of West Brom on New Year’s Day. Pulis last managed Crystal Palace from November 2013 thru August 14th 2014. Pulis won twelve, tied five and lost eleven at the helm of the Eagles. At Stoke City June 14th 2006 – May 21st 2013 Pulis won 122, tied 98 and lost 113.

The Guardian- Tony Pulis is set to be appointed manager at 16th-placed West Bromwich Albion. The former Stoke and Crystal Palace manager appears to have seen off the other contender Tim Sherwood, his track record in saving Palace from what appeared near certain relegation last season having done enough to tip the balance in his favour.

The appointment is likely be confirmed on New Year’s Day with Pulis reportedly agreeing a two-and-a-half-year deal to take over from Alan Irvine who was dismissed on Monday after a run of seven defeats in nine matches.

His first game in charge would be Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie at home to non-league Gateshead as he becomes West Brom’s fourth manager in little more than a year after Irvine, Pepe Mel and Steve Clarke.

Crystal Palace's Bobby Tambling scores against Manchester United

West Brom are one point above the teams in the relegation zone and take on West Ham United on New Year’s Day, a game for which Rob Kelly and Keith Downing, the assistant head coaches, are preparing the players.

Pulis has driven a hard bargain at The Hawthorns, having insisted on the final say for all transfers, an area of responsibility that became blurred at Crystal Palace after he inspired their escape from relegation last May and led to his departure 48 hours before the start of this season.

This would mean West Brom compromising on the continental structure that has served them with diminishing returns over recent seasons. Terry Burton, appointed the technical director in May, and Richard Garlick, the director of football administration, are in charge of player acquisitions.

Pulis, whose lawyer and agent have handled negotiations, will meet the chairman Jeremy Peace for the first time on Thursday and is likely to be joined by his former Stoke and Palace assistant David Kemp.


De Futebol


Leicester City ended their thirteen match losing streak with a 1-0 over Hull City. The win still keeps the Foxes in the whale dung positon twentieth place 13 points.

Only three points separate bottom feeder Leicester City and seventeenth place Hull City.

The Telegraphs Ben Rumsby “It was not quite a ban on talk of another ‘Great Escape’ but Nigel Pearson’s message to his Leicester City players after their astonishing victory at Hull City could not have been clearer.

Having bemoaned his side’s luck during their wretched 13-game winless run, Pearson watched them use up several matches’ worth all at once to jump-start their Premier League survival bid.


Ten years on from Pearson helping West Bromwich Albion to become the first team to avoid the drop after being bottom at Christmas, he knew what was coming. Could he really pull it off again?

“There are going to be those sorts of questions,” the former Albion assistant manager said. “I have a lot of belief in the players we have here but there’s a long way to go and we’ve got a lot of hard work to put in to change our fortunes.


“So, let’s not get carried away with one win.” Especially a win Pearson acknowledged himself could hardly have been more undeserved.

Even the floodlights seemed on the visitors’ side, with a partial power failure at the KC  Stadium not enough to force an abandonment of what proved to be their first victory since the famous win against Manchester United in September.

Indeed, how Riyad Mahrez’s superb strike was the only goal of this eventual barnstormer of a game left both Pearson and his opposite number Steve Bruce scratching their heads.

“We’ve certainly not had luck in many of the games of this long run of ours,” Pearson said, describing the result as more important than the one achieved against United. “We’ve played better than that on occasions and not won.”


Bruce, who had billed this match as bigger than the FA Cup final last season, said: “I think we’ve been in the Premier League now for 18 months. I can’t remember having so many chances in a game – not at this level. But the one thing that you have to do is score.”

That was exactly what Leicester did spectacularly in the 32nd minute with their only real chance of the game. Leonardo Ulloa played a simple pass to David Nugent, whose lay-off gave Mahrez a chance to run at the Hull defence, which he did to devastating effect. Within seconds, he was cutting inside on to his left foot and curling a beautiful finish into the far corner of Allan McGregor’s goal.

“We’re winning away, we’re winning away, how s— must you be, we’re winning away,” the Leicester fans crowed about a scenario almost alien to them this season. The next hour demonstrated precisely why.

They were lucky to go into the break ahead thanks to an appalling touch from Gastón Ramírez with only Ben Hamer to beat and a horrible mishit from Ahmed Elmohamady from a Stephen Quinn cross.


After Bruce sent on Nikica Jelavic, Abel Hernández and Tom Ince, there followed the kind of pressure a team at the foot of the table would not be expected to withstand.

In an extraordinary sequence Jake Livermore crashed a half-volley against the post, Wes Morgan threw himself in front of the midfielder’s follow-up and Jelavic headed over as the ball was played back into the six-yard box.

An equaliser looked even more certain minutes later when Hernández’s header rebounded off the upright straight to Curtis Davies, whose shot somehow found the midriff – or rather arm – of Marcin Wasilewski on the line.

Hernández wasted another golden chance after Paul Konchesky hardly helped Leicester’s cause with a needless second yellow card, but they held on after Quinn was given red for a last-man handball.


“Now I know why I sat up in the stands,” Pearson joked in reference to his touchline ban following a foul-mouthed altercation with a fan this month. That seemed a distant memory as he acknowledged the acclaim of supporters who will be just as crucial to Leicester’s hopes of pulling off the near-impossible.


De Futebol


Louis Van Gaal said his team Man U had their best first half of the season. The guys couldn’t scratch the scoreboard and were thus denied the win by a hot keeper Hugo Lloris. Tottenham and Man U ended in a kissing your sister nil-nil draw at White Hart Lane.

These type of results can thwart the Red Devils run at league leader Chelsea. Both Chelsea and Man Shitty tied so the gap between third place Man U and first place Blues remains at ten points. The Citizens led over the Red Devils stays put at seven points.

Fifth place Arsenal cut the gap between Man U and Arsenal to two points.

The Guardian-Louis van Gaal, unlike his Manchester United team, had not run out of steam. The manager shot from the hip after this largely forgettable stalemate, mixing a little bit of sugar with plenty of spice.


United, he said, had produced the best first-half performance of his tenure but he knows that they are not going to win any titles if they display this level of profligacy. He referenced the chances that Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata missed across the piece yet it was in the first period that his team failed to capitalise.

“When you play your best first half of the season and you are playing in White Hart Lane, and playing a top-six club, and you create six to eight open chances, then you have to finish them,” Van Gaal said. “If you don’t reward yourself, normally the opponent wins. When you cannot win these type of matches when you are the better team – like at Aston Villa [before Christmas] and also now – then it is very difficult to be the champions at the end of the season.”


Van Gaal was not exaggerating with his assessment of the first-half chance count – Falcao and Van Persie wasted the best ones – but at least his team did not succumb to the second-half sucker-punch that is so often a feature of matches that follow those patterns.

Tottenham advertised it. As United faded, the home team were more competitive; they were quicker to the second ball and they extended David de Gea. There was also the moment when Harry Kane released Ryan Mason but the midfielder lifted his shot over the crossbar.


Tottenham had two appeals for a penalty: the first, after Paddy McNair clipped Kane – the Tottenham striker stumbled but, crucially, he kept his feet – and the second towards the end, when Wayne Rooney manhandled Kane following a corner. Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, said that both of them should have been given, although grabbing inside the area hardly comes with the cast-iron assurance of an award.

It was Van Gaal, not Pochettino, who could grumble about the fairness of the scoreline and his argument was based on a first half in which Mata excelled and Ashley Young made inroads from left wing-back.


United had the ball over the Tottenham line in the 23rd minute only for an offside flag against Falcao in the middle to nullify Phil Jones’s header at the far post while Mata’s deflected free-kick hit a post. Vlad Chiriches cleared in the ensuing melee ahead of Falcao.

Rooney’s touch had let him down in the early going, following Mata’s ball over the top, and Falcao twice failed to muster sufficient power in his shots after getting in on Hugo Lloris’s goal. On the first occasion the Colombian was put off by Federico Fazio’s challenge.


Lloris deserved his man-of-the-match champagne and it is getting to the point where his excellence barely raises an eyebrow. “He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world,” Pochettino said. “I say the same thing every week.”

The goalkeeper thwarted Van Persie at close quarters, after the striker had taken down Michael Carrick’s high ball and then taken a less-advised second touch, and the goalkeeper beat away Young’s long-range curler which was bound for the top corner. Van Persie had been clean through. His was a glaring miss.

There was niggle, not least involving Van Persie, who had a running battle with Jan Vertonghen. Falcao also tumbled theatrically after Vertonghen had caught him with a stray hand. Van Gaal invaded the personal space of the fourth official, Lee Mason, to protest at an early decision; Rooney nagged at the referee, Jon Moss, who showed six yellow cards, and Pochettino had his grievances too. This is what happens when football cancels Christmas for footballers.


Van Gaal warmed to a familiar theme when he complained about how it had been impossible for the players to recover from the Boxing Day fixtures and he said that his three defensive substitutions were because of tiredness. “The second half was not football any more,” he said. “It was a struggle for life.”

Tottenham pressed on to the front foot as the game wore on, which was the latest testament to their fitness and Andros Townsend, Fazio and Christian Eriksen each worked De Gea. United, though, were left to lament gilt-edged misses in the second half by Van Persie and Mata. Both of them blazed high following crosses from the right.

Van Gaal sounded an upbeat note when he declared that United would “of course” be better in 2015. Yet this was an afternoon of frustration, when the ball would not go in.


De Futebol


This was Déjà vu all over again. Arsenal scored two goals in a three minute span of the first half. A PK by Santi Cazorla 41st minute and Danny Welbeck 44th minute made it two nil. The Baggies cut the gap to two one when Cheikhou Kouyate hit the back of the net in the 54th minute.

The guys hung on for the 2-1 win.

We are now with in striking distance of third place Man U 35 points. Arsenal has 33 points. Shitty has 43 points. Only thirteen points separate fifth place Arsenal and first place Chelsea.

The Telegraphs Matt Law On paper, West Ham United would have appeared favourites to beat up Arsenal in a straight fight at Upton Park.

But Mathieu Debuchy epitomised his team’s spirit at Upton Park by taking one on the chin from Andy Carroll and Arsenal came out punching when it mattered.


Having been given a late scare by Queens Park Rangers, this was the second time in three days Arsenal were made to fight for a victory that could and should have been far more comfortable.

With his team so often accused of lacking heart and grit, manager Arsene Wenger will not be too worried that finesse has momentarily been replaced by power in the battle for a top-four place.

The two sucker punches came at the end of a first half in which Arsenal had traded blows with their surprise rivals for Champions League qualification.


Santi Cazorla won and scored a penalty and Danny Welbeck netted from close range, following good work by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Cheikhou Kouyate pulled a goal back for West Ham, but only goalkeeper Adrian stopped Arsenal producing a knock-out blow.

It was perhaps telling that for all the running of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez, and the craft of Cazorla, it was Francis Coquelin who stood out for Arsenal.

Starting in the Premier League for Arsenal for the first time in almost two years, Coquelin broke up play and used the ball well. His selection ahead of more attacking players also suggested that Wenger had unusually tailored his side around the opposition.

Coquelin’s presence helped to negate the effect of Stewart Downing at the top of West Ham’s diamond and also gave Arsenal a physical presence against the muscle of Kouyate and Alex Song.


Song’s inclusion was one of five changes made by West Ham manager Sam Allardyce from the side that lost at Chelsea and the midfielder was also given the captain’s armband against his former club.

Apart from the fact he immediately stood out for wearing different coloured boots on each foot, Song made an early impression on the game.

The Upton Park crowd and Allardyce thought Song had given West Ham a sixth-minute lead when he rifled a 20-yard volley past Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, but the midfielder did not celebrate.


He was either being respectful to his old employers or had seen that both Kouyate and Diafra Sakho were offside as the ball skidded past Szczesny. Referee Neil Swarbrick disallowed the goal and allowed play to continue.

Song’s defensive work was often criticised during his time at Arsenal and it was his foul on Danny Welbeck that presented Sanchez with a wonderful chance to open the scoring, but he headed Cazorla’s free-kick wide.

Laurent Koscielny returned to the centre of Arsenal’s defence and the Frenchman was on hand to clear after Carroll had outmuscled Debuchy and smashed the ball dangerously across the six-yard box.


Debuchy came off worse from another aerial tussle with Carroll nine minutes before half-time, but the West Ham striker was booked for catching the Arsenal defender with his elbow.

Arsenal survived a let-off, when James Tomkins volleyed a wonderful pass from Downing over the crossbar and West Ham paid a heavy price for missing that opportunity as they conceded two goals in four minutes at the end of the first half.

Winston Reid tackled Cazorla on the edge of the area, but the ball bounced back into the path of the Spaniard and Reid lifted his leg to trip him.


Swarbrick pointed straight to the spot and Cazorla got back to his feet to score, without any complaints from Sanchez who had failed to score a penalty against QPR.

It was then Reid who let Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low cross through his legs and allowed Welbeck to poke the ball in from close range to double Arsenal’s lead on the stroke of half-time.


Per Mertesacker prevented Carroll from pulling a 54th minute goal back for West Ham by heading Sakho’s cross over his own bar, but the home side managed to reduce Arsenal’s advantage 60 seconds later.

Tomkins rounded Cazorla on the right and sent in a high cross that Kouyate headed into the net, via a slight deflection off Debuchy who he had beaten in the air.

In their bid to find an equaliser, the Hammers left gaps at the back and Welbeck raced from the halfway line during one breakaway and pulled a left-footed shot just wide. Adrian produced superb stops from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sanchez.

West Ham tried to pin Arsenal on the ropes in the dying minutes, but substitute Enner Valencia headed over the bar and Wenger’s men made it out of Upton Park unscathed.


De Futebol


What a difference a real coach makes. David Moyes was the hand selected idiot by Sir Alex “The Genus” Ferguson. Ferguson guided the Red Devils to thirteen EPL crowns, two Champions League titles, and five FA Cups for starters.

Under Moyes Man U hit rock bottom. The Red Devils stunk the joint out. Enter Louis Van Gaal a real manager and look at what he has done since taking over. Yes, Man U started out slowly but now the Red Devils are on fire with a eight match unbeaten string.

No one thought Man U would be in third place with 35 points. The Red Devils trail main dog Chelsea by ten points. Man Shitty is second with 42 points.


Man U took Newcastle to the woodshed winning 3-1 at Old Trafford. This sucker was over mid-way through the second half.

Man U faces Tottenham at White Hart Lane later today in the second of three matches in a period of eight days.


The Guardian- Slowly but surely, the new-look Manchester United are beginning to click. There are still imperfections and Louis van Gaal was exaggerating a touch when he said they had dominated the entire match but at least they have rediscovered a winning habit and their old commitment to attacking, incisive football. They are playing with a new measure of confidence when they go forward and, after the stodginess of the David Moyes era, that at least is a start.

The gulf to the top two is considerable but the personnel are still formidable when Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata can be found lurking behind Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao. Rooney scored twice, with a couple of Paul Scholes-like runs into the penalty area, as well as creating the headed third for Van Persie with a beautifully measured 40-yard ball towards the far post.


Falcao, looking fitter than for some time, brilliantly laid on the first goal and his part in the second should not be overlooked either, sliding in to win the tackle that initiated the attack from which Mata played the pass and Rooney supplied the finish. Mata was also involved in the slick exchange that took the home side from one end of the pitch to the other to open the scoring and when this quartet are hitting these notes it can make up for the deficiencies elsewhere in the team.

The win still came attached with a slice of controversy and Mata will certainly be relieved that the referee, Mike Jones, gave him the benefit of the doubt after that early moment when he chased Yoan Gouffran back into the penalty area and clipped his opponent’s heels. Accidental or not, he had brought down his man and a penalty for Newcastle at that stage would have given the game a much different slant.


Rooney’s first goal arrived nine minutes later and, in between, there was the latest addition to David de Gea’s portfolio of outstanding saves, turning away a long-range effort from Daryl Janmaat that was soaring towards the top corner. For all the acclaim that will settle on Van Gaal’s front players, those moments were crucial.

Newcastle had begun as though encouraged by what happened last season when they won here for the first time since February 1972, and eager to shake the home defeat to Sunderland out of their system. Alan Pardew had experimented with a new wing-back formation, designed to go like-for-like with the home side, and there were brief flashes to demonstrate why Adam Armstrong, their 17-year-old striker, has been creating such a buzz in the North-east.


Armstrong had been chosen ahead of Papiss Cissé and was lively, if isolated, as the most advanced player in a team who probably should have been more emboldened to find the flaws in the opposition defence. Had they done so, they might have discovered more of the vulnerabilities that led to Phil Jones flicking out his left leg at Jack Colback to concede a needless penalty three minutes from the end. Pardew, reflecting on the earlier penalty claim, questioned mischievously whether the referee had given it “out of guilt”.


Instead, it was Van Gaal’s team, now with 22 points out of a possible 24, who attacked with a real goal threat. Falcao had one of his more productive days and it was clear why Van Gaal removed Michael Carrick just after the hour, with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur to follow on Sunday. Carrick’s return from injury has been instrumental to the team’s recovery and the news before kick-off that Ángel di María has broken down with a pelvic problem was another reminder about the club’s run on that front. To date, there have been 49 reported injuries afflicting Van Gaal’s squad, involving 24 first-team players. “A little bit amazing,” the manager said.

Cissé had replaced Armstrong midway through the second half and expertly tucked away Newcastle’s penalty but by that stage the game was meandering towards its close and Van Gaal’s calculated gamble to restore Paddy McNair to his three-man defence – the 19-year-old’s first start since being substituted before half-time at Southampton – was ultimately a wise one.

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Rooney had started the move for the first goal inside his own half, after Armstrong’s shot had come back off Carrick, and continued his run all the way into the penalty area. Falcao was almost at full length when he reached Mata’s cross but had the presence of mind to hook the ball across the six-yard box to pick out his team-mate. Rooney, from that position, would have been discourteous not to score.

Rooney has a long history of scoring against Newcastle and his second was another smart finish, this time traced back to Gouffran’s poor ball to Ayoze Pérez in a position that immediately left the visitors looking vulnerable.

Pérez was surrounded and what happened next epitomised the return to old values at Old Trafford. When a player of Falcao’s gifts is diving into tackles and coming out with the ball it feels like a sure sign that a team of fallen champions are back on an upward trajectory.



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Arsene Wenger picked up his 600th victory as headman at Arsenal. Congrates on winning six hundred matches. This is huge. Wenger has four hundred EPL wins. He is second to Sir Alex’s five hundred and twenty eight wins in the EPL.

The Daily Mail-For the 60,000 relieved fans at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal’s win over Queens Park Rangers on Boxing Day needed no extra significance.

The three points, earned despite Olivier Giroud’s moment of madness, were of vital importance in the race for Champions League football.

But, when the dust settles, the 2-1 win against a team who haven’t picked up a single point away from home this season will be remembered less for the action, and more for its historic nature.

Friday’s result was Arsene Wenger’s 600th win as Arsenal boss, and, remarkably, also his 400th Premier League victory at the club.

Sportsmail looks back at Wenger’s 10 most important wins since his first, a 2-0 win over Blackburn in October 1996.

Read the rest at