the tanner ba'

A Wee Update from WeeFuse

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There’s a lot going on (or “not going on,” in a couple of cases) in my football world at the moment and I felt like popping in to share some of it.

First off, yes, that was me audibly groaning when Bruce “Droopy Dog” Arena was named as Jurgen Klinsmann’s replacement.  This wasn’t so much a reflection on Arena’s past history as USMNT manager (he has the highest winning percentage of any USMNT manager who managed a significant number of matches), but a reaction to what seemed like U.S. Soccer being out of ideas, i.e. “We know Klinsmann has to go…but that’s all we know.  Oh well, maybe Bruce would do it again.”  The point of me bringing this up is that, in short, I’ve changed my mind.   The basis for my change of heart and mind was the group of players that he called in for the team’s January camp.  First off, all are MLS players.  Unlike, Abby Wambach, I had no problem with Klinsmann’s, “Let’s find all the ‘foreigners’ who are eligible and see if they’ll play for us” strategy.  All countries do this and it makes sense as a “nation of immigrants” that the U.S. would lead the way, so to speak.  The problem with Klinsmann was, however, that he didn’t seem to have any other strategies.  Arena’s plan seems to be, a) let’s call in all of those older guys in MLS who probably should have been given a shot and see what they have left and b) let’s bring in all of those younger players in MLS who were left out as Klinsmann pursued the John Brooks and Timothy Chandlers of the world and see what kind of potential they have.  Only time will tell just how much “gold” Arena can mine in these two areas, but at least he’s giving it a try.

Second, and relatedly, a few young U.S. internationals were in the news this week.  Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who turned pro at 18 with Norwegian side Molde FK has signed a four and a half year deal with Belgian side Club Brugge KV.  Hopefully he gets a lot of playing time in that country’s top league and in Europe, but even if he doesn’t, his manager will be Michel Preud’homme, one of the best goalkeepers of the last half century and what he can learn from him will certainly be invaluable to him as he seeks a place as the USMNT’s first choice in goal.  In the Premiership, English-born American Cameron Carter-Vickers made his league debut for Tottenham at the tender age of 19.  An imposing 6″ and 200+ lbs, Carter-Vickers’ nickname at Spurs is “the Beast,” but he is also a polished player who has been at the club since he was 11 and regularly captained the U21 side before joining the first team.  Finally, AFC Bournemouth have loaned U.S. midfielder Emerson Hyndman to Rangers for the remainder of the 2015-2016 season with an eye towards him getting more playing time.  Hyndman is the most recent in a long line of American players to join the Glasgow side (Reyna, Beasley, Edu, Bocanegra, Bedoya, Zelalem) and only time will tell if it will benefit him.  Rangers are back in the Premiership, but to say things at the club are “settled” after the on and off-field turmoil of recent years would be a stretch.

Thirdly, the transfer season at Ross County has been the quietest one in recent memory.  Is that a good thing?  Maybe?  In the past County have been forced to make myriad changes during the January window in order to ensure their survival in the Premiership, but this year they find themselves in sixth place (though only seven points above last place) at the halfway mark and perhaps the need to bring in reinforcements is not so great as it has been in the past.  That said, there is a little bit going on.  County recently signed a pre-contract deal with St. Mirren F.C. defender Jason Naismith.  Naismith has good size, has played 0ver 100 senior matches despite being only 22 years old, and has been capped at every level up to U21 in Scotland.  On the face of it, a good signing.  The only other rumored move I’ve heard is that County are close to signing Italian forward Christian Nanetti.  If you’re like me, you heard “Italian forward” and you perked right up.  Well, we all need to settle down.  Though born in Bologna, Nanetti began his career in the youth set-up at QPR and since leaving the club in 2010 (without a senior appearance) his career has had a downward trajectory.  Behold…

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Let’s break this down a little bit.  No appearances at QPR.  Loaned to Raith in the Scottish Championship to get playing time- he played 10 minutes in one cup match.  He then joined Ashford Town, the second of five clubs in 2011, where he made no league appearances for a club currently in the “Southern League Division One Central,” the 8th tier of English football.  From there he made a lateral move to Harrow Borough of the Isthmian League Premier Division- where he made no league appearances.  From there- no, you know what, that’s enough.  He’s the “thing” that I’m always leery of- a “forward” who doesn’t score goals.  (That three season stretch with Havant & Waterlooville might look good, but that’s 17 goals over three years- 7 of which were penalties.) And more than that, he hasn’t scored goals for clubs in leagues that ranged from amateur to semi-professional.  Jim McIntyre, don’t do it.  Moving on…

Care to guess who the leading scorer in the Premiership is at the halfway point?  Nope, he doesn’t play for Celtic…or Rangers…or Hearts…or Aberdeen, he plays for Ross County.  Liam Boyce leads the league with 13 goals and that is both a wonderful and terrifying thing.  Wonderful because he’s scored over 50% of County’s goals this season and he’s the number one reason they find themselves in the top half of the table and also because he had a great season last year-and had only 15 goals!  Terrifying because his form has the sharks circling Victoria Park.  At first it seemed like he was destined for a move down south to a League One side, but as his form has improved and made him a regular selection for Northern Ireland Championship and even Premiership clubs are rumored to be interested.  The general consensus among County supporters is that Boyce is gone, it’s just a case of when and to whom.  Whenever and wherever he goes he is likely to set a transfer record for County.  Last year Jackson Irvine* was sold to Burton Albion in the Championship for a (unconfirmed!) club record £330,000 and most believe Boyce could fetch twice that.  Hopefully Premiership safety will be secured before any of this happens!

*Irvine, by the way, is tearing up the Championship with 8 goals in 19 appearances and has become a regular call-up for the Socceroos.

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Finally, in news that will shock NOBODY CURRENTLY ALIVE, the New England Revolution have done essentially nothing to improve the club this off-season.  Here is their single “move” thus far:  They signed Daigo Kobayashi to a one year deal.  In and of itself, that’s fine.  Kobayashi “knows his role,” is as a late game substitute and spot starter and does well with it, but is having a reliable bench player around for another season going to get this club back into the playoffs?  Don’t worry, everything is going to be just fine! First, GM Mike Burns let us know that “New England’s brass have visited countries in Europe, South America, and the Middle East since the Revs’ season ended in late October, and while no deals have been struck as of yet, conversations are currently ongoing.”  Phew.  Second, keep in mind that after missing the entire 2016 MLS season with a knee injury, DP Xavier “The Savior” Kouassi is healthy and will use the experience he gained while playing for the Ivory Coast for one minute to transform the club’s fortunes.  Must be almost time to start talking about “progress” on that soccer-specific stadium again…

 

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One comment on “A Wee Update from WeeFuse

  1. finalynsh
    January 10, 2017

    I felt like Bruce was a bridge coach. Someone to get the team back into the World Cup with a steady hand and calm approach. Not inspiring, but maybe the best choice at the time to get the team where it wanted to be. However I too was pleasantly surprised by his roster call up, which was un-Brucelike from his previous regime. Hopefully he gets the results he’s looking for.

    In teh end, I felt that Jurgen ended up being his own worst enemy. Did the team ever play the same 11 players 3 out of 4 games? it felt like every game was 3 new starters, so how could any real meshing together be accomplished?

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This entry was posted on January 10, 2017 by in Uncategorized.
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