AZ Alkmaar and the A to Z of player development

THIS IS a club that has called on the methods of Billy Beane of Moneyball fame. A club that has a reputation for bringing on home-grown talent. They’re also dynamic data wizards and come from a town best known for cheese. AZ Alkmaar have a playing budget that amounts to around 25% of the mighty Ajax’s wage bill so they have to find ways to … Continue reading AZ Alkmaar and the A to Z of player development

PSG, Manchester City and the Champions League – the time of new money might be now

THE UEFA Champions League is due a new winner and this season, clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City will be hoping to join the elite band of European champions. The massive investments made in both clubs have been designed to lift the continent’s biggest club prize, but neither club has come close to winning the competition. However, in a season when clubs like Barcelona, … Continue reading PSG, Manchester City and the Champions League – the time of new money might be now

Aberdeen wary of the Glasgow gap

ABERDEEN may be Scotland’s third club at the moment but their financial figures for 2018-19 highlight the chasm between the Dons and the Old Firm, Celtic and Rangers. Derek McInnes’ team plays host to Rangers this week with nine points separating the Gers from Aberdeen. This is only one aspect of the difference between the two clubs – Aberdeen’s turnover may be close to £ … Continue reading Aberdeen wary of the Glasgow gap

Gladbach smiling, Bayern hiring

THE EUROPEAN landscape has barely changed this season: PSG, Juventus, Barcelona, Ajax, Benfica, Liverpool and City all at the top. The once exception among the top leagues is Germany, where Borussia Mönchengladbach lead the Bundesliga and Bayern Munich are struggling to hit their best form. Bayern’s recent 5-1 defeat in Frankfurt proved to be the final straw for the Bayern politburo and just 24 hours … Continue reading Gladbach smiling, Bayern hiring

Ajax’s stock continues to rise, despite player losses

AJAX’s renaissance last season was always going to be short-lived as Europe’s big clubs were waiting in the wings for their chance to pounce on the best players. Those hung up on presentism expressed their surprise that a team from the Netherlands could compete with the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus, even though the Dutch have provided more European champion clubs than Spain and … Continue reading Ajax’s stock continues to rise, despite player losses

Yes, Barcelona are going for the one

BARCELONA are closing in on their target of € 1 billion in revenues by 2020, a figure that will create a new record for the football industry and place them ahead of their peer group. With their Camp Nou stadium redevelopment and a commitment to technology and youth development, Barca’s ambition is very clear. The only dark cloud on the horizon is the eventual loss … Continue reading Yes, Barcelona are going for the one

Barcelona may be approaching the end of a cycle

BARCELONA have made their worst start to a season in 25 years, but in truth it is very much a relative problem based on high expectation, a superb domestic record in recent years and the cost of being part of the wealthy European elite. Furthermore, they have been without their talisman, Lionel Messi, and doesn’t it show? Barca coach Ernesto Valverde is under pressure and … Continue reading Barcelona may be approaching the end of a cycle

Portuguese football: For Três Grandes, business as usual

PORTO won the first big Portuguese Primeira Liga clash of the season when they recently beat Benfica in Lisbon, a big psychological boost for the “second club” and, perhaps, a signal that the title race this season may be even tighter than 2018-19. Porto won 2-0 in the Estádio da Luz, their fifth victory at the home of their rivals in 10 visits. Porto have the … Continue reading Portuguese football: For Três Grandes, business as usual

12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

CERTAIN games can mould the history of a club. Chelsea have had many high points in recent years, but it is not just success that influences the culture of a club. These 12 games have all played their role in shaping the Blues. Of course, the list will prompt debate, but these have been selected for their overall importance to the club’s development, from the … Continue reading 12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

La Liga: Barcelona may be even stronger

CAN ANYONE end Barcelona’s recent dominance of La Liga? After a summer of big signings and the announcement of record revenues, Barca look stronger than last year and with Real Madrid enduring a miserable pre-season and Atlético Madrid in transition, it could be a third consecutive title – and nine in 12 – for the Blaugrana. Of course, Barca will be hoping for a barnstorming … Continue reading La Liga: Barcelona may be even stronger

Lyon are fancied, but PSG have most of the cards

IT’S all getting a little too predictable in France, with Paris Saint-Germain winning six of the last seven Ligue 1 titles and no real sign of the dominance ending. The financial advantages the club enjoys, means PSG should win everything – hence the club’s owners have an obvious sense of expectation and occasional impatience. Should there be a genuine contender, it might just be Lyon, … Continue reading Lyon are fancied, but PSG have most of the cards

Italy needs someone to challenge Juventus – maybe Inter

INTER MILAN’s dogged pursuit of Romelu Lukaku underlines the determination of the “nerazzuri” to try and break the Juventus stranglehold in Italy, an era of domination that includes eight consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia wins and two UEFA Champions League finals. Inter, the last Italian club to win the Champions League (2010), have not won a single piece of silverware since 2011 when … Continue reading Italy needs someone to challenge Juventus – maybe Inter

Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid

REAL MADRID completed a hat-trick of European Cup wins in 1958, but they had to work hard for the top prize in a gruelling final with AC Milan in Brussels. In doing so, Real also completed the double of domestic league title and European Cup for the second successive season. Nevertheless, football historians have always wondered if Real would still have been crowned champions of … Continue reading Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid