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Mandžukić’s Chilena

Episode #5

Morning Journal,

I was thinking of my favorite football moment of 2017.

It wasn’t Monaco winning Ligue 1. An incredible achievement, but that was more of a story than a single moment.

Totti retiring, the actual day. His final goodbye at the Stadio Olimpico (which got killer reviews on Google by the way) came to mind. Tears and tears. A tearful Totti is a Totti worth remembering. But alas…

Then there’s the US men’s team not qualifying for the World Cup. A bit of shock and joy.  A hope that rot will stop, which may only happen if Eric Wynalda is elected as the USSF president. But that’s another journal entry for another day.

But the moment that rose to my hippocampus’s surface was Mario Mandžukić’s Champions League final chilena:

Mandžukić, Juventus’s alleyway brawler, displayed his technique and audacity to lift the hope of Juventus supporters around the world.

It wasn’t enough.

Mandžukić’s goal, his match tying goal. His momentum shifting goal. His glimmer of hope goal, will likely be forgotten. Real Madrid’s 3 second half goals turned brilliance into a consolation.

Football supporters just don’t sit around in pubs discussing all the amazing consolation goals they’ve witnessed.

But when it was executed, in that that moment, the Croatian’s chilena wasn’t a consolation goal. It was a celebration.

Here’s to more chilena’s in 2018.

Jack

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Eric made me do it

Episode #4

Journal,

Have you heard of marginalia? Sounds pretentious, but my made up definition is simple:

Writing notes in the margins of whichever book your reading.

It’s a note taking system practiced by some of history’s greatest minds. And a practice I resisted.

Ink up a book?

Soil the pages?

Question the author?

I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.

But then, back in 05’, I bought a book I couldn’t put down. A book that opened the tent flaps on European football. The book was:

 

Beckham_Bio
Beckham: Both Feet on the Ground: An Autobiography

 

In Beckham: Both Feet on the Ground, Becks shares a story of watching Eric Cantona train:

Eric_Cantona_1

 

Evernote wasn’t around. Pocket didn’t exist. But I needed to remember. Needed to be reminded that even Eric Cantona, Old Trafford myth, made time to sharpen his Katana.

I’m doing it.

I stole a highlighter from my mother’s desk drawer and lit up the page.

Ok. It wasn’t marginalia full blast, but it was a start. To this day, when I see Beckham spine out on my shelf, those highlighted pages come back to me.

I’ll always remember, Eric made me do it.

 

Cheers,

Jack

 

 

 

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Current Reading Stack #1

Long ago I decided to participate in the Ray Bradbury writers diet. This diet consisted of reading one short story, one poem and one essay each day.

This he claimed in a lecture at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Writer’s Symposium By the Sea, would ward off writer’s block.

It’s Ray Bradbury. It’s gotta work. Right?

I’ve since gone on to combine Ray’s reading diet with my own, reading one novel, one comic, and one non-fiction book at a time.

I’m not sure it’s helping my writing, but I’m getting a lot of reading done.

 

The Three MusketeersRebecca Solnit wrote on the importance of writers reading the classics. “Live in the deep past” she said.

Taking her advice to heart I started with Athos, Porthos, Armais and D’Artangan. I’ve been in this book for months. Here’s to finishing in 2018!

Fragile Things – A Neil Gaiman collection of short stories. Neil Gaiman will seduce you. He’ll make you choke on your eggs laughing. And he’ll diagnose you with love sickness, all in one book.

The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology – This book was mentioned once on the Freakonomics podcast. I ordered it. Then it took a long nap on my shelf. Now I’m learning geology is the only thing that matters.

The New Kings of Nonfiction – Found this on the clearance shelf at Half Price Books. A sin! This book is worth at least one bitcoin. Glad I scooped it up for two dollars. It’s not considered a collection of essays, more so long form journalism. But I’ll consume it as part of my essay diet for now.

Brown Girl Dreaming – I never believe people when the say “Art is the only thing that will save us.” Jacqueline Woodson’s collection of poems is changing my mind.

The Complete Persepolis – Some people read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” every year. Others read “To Kill a Mockingbird” every year. Many many others don’t read any books, all year.

I read this comic every year. I don’t plan to. But somehow it falls in my lap every twelve months.

 

 

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Bald Hero

Episode #3

Journal,

First French football hero? You guessed it. Fabien Barthez.

Goalkeeper was the first position I was attracted to. It’s natural when you grow up playing basketball and you can’t do five keepie-uppies.

Goalkeepers seemed so heroic, living knights of the round table. Diving hands first into danger to save the entire team. They even wore superhero costumes, kits unlike anyone else on the field. Draped in jerseys colored in Broccoli green, Sunflower yellow, even 80s pop star pink was an option.

Keepers though, were demi-gods. Peter Schmeichel, Ollie Kahn (did anyone call him Ollie to his face?), with their sculpted shoulders and grizzly bear paws were BC Olympians. Out of reach of us eighty-six-pound mortals.

Then there was Fabian Barthez.

He scraped in at six feet. And closer resembled a grocer, filling the bins with vine fresh tomatoes early Saturday morning, rather than a top-level goalkeeper.

But Barthez, with his Copa Mundials and number 16 shirt won the Champions League with Marseille. Lifted the World and European cup with France. He even won the league with Manchester United.

Zidane treasures him. When asked which player from the 98′ team he’d add to the current French side, he replied “Barthez”.

I don’t remember any spectacular saves Barthez made. I can’t recall a press conference where he charmed anyone. I’ve never saw him lift a trophy.

None of these things made Barthez my hero. He was my hero because I could see a little of myself in him.

I’m out,

Jack

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Link Ups – December 2017

    1. La Masia and Clairefontaine have nothing on the streets of Naples. Chloe Beresford explains.
    2. Slow motion for me…slow motion. In the age of pace Cesc Fàbregas survives.
    3.  William Gallas grows a salt and pepper 5 o’ clock shadow. Chris Waddle rocks a mullet. Joey Barton wears a beanie.  See it all in: Marseille: A Football City from Dugout.

– Thanks to Get French Football News for sharing the Marseille documentary.

 

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Bielsa Banished

Episode #2

Journal,

 

Sniff…Whimper…Sniff…Bielsa’s out at Lille.

Bielsa, a man of impeccable personal integrity, flew to Chile to visit Luis Bonini a former assistant suffering with cancer. Strange, Lille’s official position was that Bielsa was  “suspended”. I haven’t heard that one before. Is that the football version of “creative differences”?

The break up was inevitable, but this time Bielsa seemed set for success.

He showed up.

He got his requested transfers.

And he received a blessing to coach Lille from a prominent Marseille ultra.

It wasn’t enough.

To further the Bielsa legend Julien Laurens tweeted a picture (via @MaryPatrux) a few days ago of Bielsa watching a Lille match on his laptop:

Marcelo_Bielsa_Lille

 

Are we sure it was the Lille match? Or was he logging into his Steam account?

I’ll take Julien’s word.

I’m out,

Jack

P.S. Where to next for Bielsa? My only Christmas wish, the US mens national team.

 

 

 

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Link Ups – November 2017

    1. A Profile of La Viola’s New Hero.
    2. Street football is alive. Box to Box Football has the pics.
    3. Monaco supporters do exist! Copa 90 documentary reveals all.
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I’m Not A Player I Just Crush A lot

Episode #1

Dear Journal,

I’m trying to remember when I started crushing on French football.
Was it World Cup 98? Zidane’s double headers in Paris?

No, that was my first exposure to the French team, but I was supporting the Seleção. The Nike commercials, the Canary Yellow kits. El Phenomenon.

Zidane who?

I had no clue. I couldn’t comprehend Zidane’s composure on the ball. I didn’t appreciate the roulettes or dragbacks. All I saw was a balding forty-four-year-old midfielder head two bullets past a cardboard cut-out of Taffarel.

 
Yeah, those blue Adidas kits were dope as hell but our relationship was still years away.
Oh, I remember now. London. It all began in North London.

 
Monaco takes on Amiens tonight. Another Ligue 1 team I’ll have to google. Friday night football is like chicken fried steak, weekend comfort food.

I’m out,

Jack

 

P.S. I learned later that summer Zidane was only 26 years old. His early male pattern baldness brought me great comfort later in life.

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Rogue Three

Three Underrated Football Twitter Handles You Should Follow

Twitter is the modern day scroll. An endless papyrus roll with an inkwell that never dries.

For football supporters, long-form pieces and goal GIFs from our favorite football writers are only a log-in menu away.

Sure, you’ve got your @andybrassels, @Okwongas and @JamesHorncastles. But then there’s the hole-in-the-wall handles that only the locals know of.

Rogue handles whose independence from major media conglomerates allow them to share some of the best football content online.

Ladies and Gentlemen my top three:

@3four3

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@3four3‘s posts are barbwire sharp. He never wastes any of his 128 characters.

One moment he’ll rage against the festering mediocrity of USSF. The next drop an Elon Musk quote.

He even sites Jiro Dreams of Sushi to impart the value of patience and craft to youth coaches.

@3four3 isn’t for the soft. @3four3 isn’t for the close minded.

@3four3 is for those who believe the US program can reach the global standard – if it’s willing to take action on the hard truths it faces.

@iammoallim

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@iammoallim is a digital footballer yearbook. A curation of historic football images mixed with concise bursts of copy.

You’ll bear witness to such photographic masterpieces as Andrés Iniesta with hair or Johan Cruyff nursing a steak.

You’ll be hypnotized with GIFs of Zidane controls. And your pub quiz game will stay ripped with thought provoking stats.

But where @iammoallim keeps me procrastinating is with a slew of quotes from managers and players past. Quotes that reveal the origins and training sessions from the most progressive minds in football.

Follow @iammoallim and your mind will morph into a football oracle.

@fantasistaTEN

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@fantasistaTEN is the twitter temple for football’s hallowed position – the #10.

The feed verges on a Baggio overdose, but that’s understandable. It’s ROBERTO BAGGIO.

Where @fantasistaTEN excels, is in highlighting the obscure number 10. Journeymen creators such as Internacional’s Camilo and Pescara’s Ahmad Benali. Pitch wizards who don’t play for glamour sides, but enchant crowds nonetheless.

Still, former Arsenal assassin Jay-Jay Okocha makes regular appearances. Tampa Bay Mutiny demigod Carlos Valderrama too.

@fantasistaTEN will remind why football is your first love.

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Quick Links

Neymar? Pfffft. Rich Allen shares which 5 Ligue 1 players worked on their games this off-season .

Jack Connor’s league debut for the fantasista 10 site, features Jose Mourinho’s interpretation of the #10.

Nothing like a tactical breakdown to get you through the international break. Lee Scott on last week’s Roma Inter match up.