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Seba Veron, an heir to Cerezo

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Tim Vickery | 11:14 UK time, Monday, 20 July 2009

A couple of decades ago when I worked in the West End of London, I used to frequent a little Italian café, sadly no longer in existence, so I could watch the Serie A on their satellite TV.

The main draw for me was a Brazilian midfielder called Toninho Cerezo. One of his compatriots once ingeniously described Cerezo as having the appearance of two little men, one on top of the other, both trying to run in different directions. He could indeed look a little ungainly. But few players have ever run a midfield with so much elegance.

Toninho Cerezo, Sampdoria

He received possession behind the line of the ball, giving him a full panorama of the action in front of him. He passed the ball long and short, and after giving it was immediately on the move to initiate the next phase, and he had an eye for the surprise, killer ball that undresses the defence.

I became addicted to Cerezo towards the end of the 1980s, when he was the heart of an excellent Sampdoria side, making the bullets for the likes of Vialli and Mancini to fire. I was lucky enough to be at Wembley for his last, and biggest, game with the club - the 1992 European Cup final. He was 37, but Barcelona paid him the compliment of putting their best midfielder, Bakero, tight on him to stop him working his magic. Meanwhile, Barcelona had a young midfielder who may not have had the same physical dynamism of Cerezo, but was blessed with a similar capacity to understand the game around him and alter its course with a superb range of passing - Pep Guardiola.

Anyway, flash forward to the start of 1996, I was already based in Rio and took my first trip to Buenos Aires.

I caught a game of Argentina's Under-23 side, who were preparing for the qualifying tournament for that year's Olympic Games.

It was an excellent generation, one that would form the backbone of the senior side for the next two World Cups - Ortega, Crespo and Claudio Lopez were on duty, and in midfield Bassedas, later of Newcastle, was considered a big name. Much more impressive, though, was the player alongside him, a lanky figure who ran the game from the centre. With his range of passing and his mobility, the 20 year old reminded me of Toninho Cerezo. His name was Juan Sebastian Veron.

Obviously I was not the only one to make the comparison. Veron was still with Estudiantes at the time, though he joined Boca Juniors a few days later. He didn't stay long. Just a few months later he was snapped up by an Italian club who wanted to make him the centre of their midfield - Sampdoria.

English fans often seem to believe that Veron was a flop in Europe. That was certainly never the case in Italy. He gave excellent service to Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio (where he won the title) and Inter Milan. And he had some good moments in England as well. But the Manchester United move was a strange one. It was always difficult to see how he would fit in to the side that, bizarrely, used him at times with his back to goal. Chelsea came at a time in his career when he was dogged by injuries. Perhaps also in both Manchester and London he was unable to make an emotional connection with the club and its supporters.

Indeed, he turned his back on European football precisely because of the connection he felt with Estudiantes. It was much more than his first club. It was the club where his father, Juan Ramon, was the star player in their three consecutive Copa Libertadores wins four decades ago.

Veron junior has been like a man possessed striving to take the club, by no means one of the traditional giants of Argentine football, to title number four. Last year they fell in the second round to eventual winners LDU of Ecuador. Last week they went all the way, carrying the Argentine challenge alone from the quarter-finals on, finishing the campaign with an unbeaten run of 11 games which terminated in a 2-1 win away to Cruzeiro of Brazil in the second leg of the final.

The home leg had been drawn 0-0, and the title seemed Brazil bound when Cruzeiro took the lead early in the second half of the return game. Then came the Veron show.

The winning goal was from one of his superbly struck corners. The golden rule of crosses is that the quicker they come in, the harder they are for the defence to deal with, and Veron whipped the ball in at pace for Boselli's header.

The outstanding moment, though, was the equalising goal. Picking up possession around the half-way line in the left channel, Veron moved across, picked his moment and then threaded a superb pass into the path of Cellay, bursting forward from right back. It caught Cruzeiro by surprise - the art of a good pass - and Cellay's low cross was turned in by Gaston Fernandez.

Juan Sebastian Veron lifts the Copa Libertadores

It is a moment that I hope got Toninho Cerezo, now coaching the Arab Emirates, up on his feet and applauding. Not just because he starred for years for Atletico, Cruzeiro's big local rivals, but because it was a touch of pure creative midfield play, of the type which he spent over 20 years producing with such distinction.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Other questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) With the recent success of Shakhtar in the UEFA Cup and of course the part their Brazilian contingent played in winning the trophy, is there any chance of the likes of Willian, Fernandinho, Jadson, Luiz Adriano, Ilsinho forcing there way into contention for Dunga's plans for the World Cup or is it simply a case of the Ukraine league not being well enough regarded or their achievements not being significant enough to register with the Brazilian public?
James Atkinson

A) No, I don't think Dunga works like that. Elano got in while he was at Shakhtar - in fact while things were not going particularly well for him there, and Dunga also made a point of giving opportunities to a number of Russian based players.
The problem faced now by the players you mentioned - and others on the outside - is that Dunga seems to have formed his group. The players he has chosen have won the Copa America, the Confederations Cup and are leading South America's World Cup qualification table, so it's hard for others to break in before the World Cup. The left back position still looks up for grabs, but apart from that it's going to take something special - or an injury to a first choice player - for an outsider to make a late run.

Q) What can you tell me about Taison? I've been reading a bit about him and everything I've read suggests he will be one of the next big signings from South America. He bagged four awards last season in the Rio Grande do Sul championship (best player, forward, top scorer and biggest revelation). From what I've read he seems to be very quick, good with the ball at his feet and a great finisher. Is there any suggestion as to where he'll go to if the European move does come off?
Eoin McGlinchey

A) A fair description - lightning quick, with and without the ball, and with an eye for goal, the 21 year old is yet another quality product to roll of the production line of Internacional of Porto Alegre.

He's a huge, huge promise - but time for a word of caution. The goals were rolling in in his state championship and in the early stages of the Brazilian Cup. But you always have to bear in mind that the standard of play here is appallingly low. Reputations - of teams and individuals - can be built up much too easily. With the possible exception of Sao Paulo, the state tournaments are a waste of everyone's time. Once you get to the real stuff it was clear that all the 'get Taison in the Brazil side' talk was premature. Some of his recent displays have been dismal - in the two legged Recopa (a European Super Cup equivalent) against LDU of Ecuador he was anonymous as his side lost 4-0 on aggregate.

This is all part of growing up in public. I think he has an enormous future, but there are stages he still has to go through, and I expect him to do that with Internacional for a while longer. They are a well run club, and I think they will e very reluctant to sell until they've enjoyed having him for a year or two. He's under contract til the end of 2013.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    I'm not going to go so far as saying you are wrong about Veron, because that would be ungentlemanly, but I find it hard to believe that the fact Veron was so ordinary-looking in England is down to purely bad luck and being played in the wrong position. Not when he looked mainly ordinary for a few seasons. Is it not the case that top-flight football in Argentina is weaker than in England, or even Europe generally, which makes Veron look better than he actually is? http://www.loserscomesecond.com/2009/07/rooney-speaks-about-ronaldo.html

  • Comment number 2.

    #1 with all due respect, Ive got to disagree.
    As a Man U fan and a follower of both South American and Italian football, I was pretty much wetting myself with the anticipation of Veron coming to United. But there was always a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that Fergie would not be able to accommodate him in his preferred 4-4-2 where he would be expected to be something more than a mere playmaker Sampdoria, Parma and Lazio had all pretty much built their teams around Veron, and he was excellent during his time in Italy
    He was injured throughout his time at Chelsea, so I would suggest that Tims appraisal of his career in England is spot on.

  • Comment number 3.

    Afraid i have to disagree with you Mr Twilight. Admittedly he wasn't all that great in England apart from a few flashes of quality while he was with Man United, but having watched him extensively playing in Italy, he was immense. His range of passing is the best i think I've seen in his generation of players plus his general fitness and stamina were amazing. And also when one remembers that the quality of Serie A was equally good, if not better than the Premiership in the late 90s while he played with Sampdoria, Parma and Lazio then I don't think you can say that playing there, or in Argentina, has made him look better than he was.

  • Comment number 4.

    That's a fair enough response. To be honest I'm still not entirely convinced by what is being said, because I still have images of so many stray passes stuck inside my head, but I'll take it on board. He always was technically good but never much end product the times I remember watching him, in England at least. Maybe the pace of the game in England was too much for him? Who knows for sure.

    It is nice to know he's got his career back on track though, and that he has overcome some adversity (i.e. people like me who are unconvinced by him!) along the way in doing so.

  • Comment number 5.

    I've always rated Veron wherever he went. I was probably one of the only Manchester United fans with his name on my shirt!!! Totally immense.

  • Comment number 6.

    With regards to the question regarding Taison, he is as Tim rightly mentions, very quick with a good eye from goal and despite attracting alot of attention in the Rio Grande do Sul (Gaucho) state championship, his performances have largely been in decline in recent weeks (as with much of the Internacional squad).

    Just last Wednesday he was dropped to the bench for Inter's home match with struggling Fluminense. Inter threw away a two goal lead only for Tite to introduce Taison to the field. Within 15 minutes he rescued Inter with two goals to secure a 4-2 win.

    Following his exploits midweek, Taison was then recalled to the team for yesterday's huge local derby with Gremio. He was played a little out of position as Tite (Inter's coach) tried to accommodate him in a wider role. Taison however was ineffective and one of the poorest players on the pitch as Inter fell to a miserable 2-1 defeat in the match which celebrated a 100 years of the famous 'Gre-Nal' derby.

    So as the last week has shown, there is clear room for development to Taison's game if he is going to fulfill his obvious potential.

    As for the future, again, I agree with Tim. Inter would be extremely reluctant to allow him to leave at this time. His strike partner Nilmar is almost certain to return to Europe in near future (Villarreal seem's his most likely desitination although Wolfsburg are also interested), so it is highly unlikely Inter would allow both their first choice strike pairing to be sold.

    I think Europe will be hearing more of Taison in the near future but the pacey number seven has a little more work to do first.

    Matt
    http://internacionaluk.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 7.

    Like Ian Walford, I was thrilled when United signed JSV as I'd seen and admired him in Serie A. It seemed as though it would be one of those Cantona-type signings that would define a new era for the club. As to why it never happened.....the received wisdom among many United fans is that Veron was a disaster at the club. He wasn't. If you review footage of games from his era, he had some terrific games for us and just oozed class. However, he and Fergie had one big problem......Roy Keane. Keane was the undisputed boss of United's midfield at that time and he wasn't about to stand aside for anyone. When JSV was at Lazio, Eriksson played Almeyda alongside him. Almeyda broke up opposition moves and just fed the ball to Veron, who did the rest. Keane saw himself as much more than a midfield destroyer and he wouldn't or couldn't play that role. As a result, Seba became marginalised within the team and was (I suspect) unhappy as a result. His apparent unwillingness to learn/use English also didn't help him to state his case and he rather faded away towards the end.

    Two games that, for me, defined his time with us were -firstly- a CL game in Greece where he flew in direct from Buenos Aires after an Argentina game and unexpectedly played. For once, the combination with Keane worked to perfection and United played brilliantly with the two of them at the heart of everything. The second game was his final game with us; a pre-season friendly in New York against Juventus. Veron played wonderfully and set up van Nistelrooy for a goal with one of the subtlest disguised chips I have ever seen; it was breathtaking. A few days later he had gone to Chelsea. I think it was so sad that Ferguson was unable to do what Eriksson had done previously and build his midfield around Veron. Watching him and Keane in central midfield was too often like watching a ship with two captains. He's been a great player for so many years and I get so fed up hearing United fans run him down. Michael Owen's signing was described on one messageboard as 'the worst signing since Veron'. The failure was not his but United's (and specifically Fergie's) in failing to get the best from this great player. I am so happy for his success with Estudiantes - bravo!

  • Comment number 8.

    hello tim! whatever happened to sporting cristal of peru? when i was young it seemed they won the league every year and were always involved in the big s american club competitions. i don't hear so much about them anymore?? and this does seem to parallel the peruvian national side's lack of success recently- is there anything to this?

  • Comment number 9.

    I struggle to understand the criticism of Veron. I'm a United fan and like #2 went weak at the knees when we signed him. He'd been brilliant in Italy and ran the midfield in an argentina team full of class (albeit underachievers). Admittedly he never hit the heights consistently for us, but he had some great games in Europe (goal against Olympiakos sticks out in my mind). He came into a team which already had Scholes and Keane in midfield so it was never going to revolve around him. Nevertheless, he was a class player - and it seems he still is. Always got a lot of time for a player who goes to a club that means something to him aswell, fair play to the lad.

    One good thing about him leaving England though....the number of lads turning up to 5 a side sporting a girly bandage below the knee decreased...

  • Comment number 10.

    I've always liked watching Veron.. I personally think he didn't have as good a time in England because of the type of midfielder he is. I think this is the same reason that Andrea Pirlo (my favourite player in the world) wouldn't be a big success. Hard to explain but they dictate a tempo in a game and play to a structure of slow passing moves... we don't play like that over here.. just look at Deco.. a cracking player, albeit some say he has lost a bit of his desire.. another player who likes a lot of the ball and dictates play.. can't find his feet over here.

  • Comment number 11.

    Undoubtedly Veron is a very good player, his performances in Italy proved that. His failure to perform in England draws parallels with Shevchenko, great players whose playing style didn't suit the English game.

    http://jumpersforgoalposts1212.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/chants-and-derbies/

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm a United fan but I'm happy for Veron - a true artist of the game. It's just a shame he came to us too late in his career. Now, i think Fergie has learned his lesson from the transfer of Veron and now we have the younger recruits of Ljajic and Possebon, who is very similar in style to Veron, given time to develop in the reserves and be eased into the team bit by bit.

  • Comment number 13.

    Tim,
    How do you think 'the little witch' would have faired in the current Man Utd set up? Personally, I believe he would have prospered immensely in the 4-2-3-1 that Fergie has favoured over the last 2 seasons. Playing in the role that Michael Carrick currently occupies, beside a Fletcher or Hargreaves breaking things up for him.
    Just a pity he came to England when the 4-4-2 was still king and Roy Keane was the master of that formation. Superb in Italy, loved watching him in that Lazio team that won Serie A.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is the same Cerezo who passed the ball across his defence straight to Paulo Rossi in Espana 82. The Italian marksman stuck it away easily. I dont think Brazil ever really recovered from that and this for me is what Cerezo will unfortunately be remembered for.
    Although if Careca had been fit and that donkey Serginho wasn't playing they probably could still have pulled through

  • Comment number 15.

    There have been so many players with great reputations move from Italy to England, and I think it is hard to pinpoint where it all goes wrong for them. Chelsea and Manchester United seem to be the ones that bring the players in who arrive with massive reputations, yet live up to little. Crespo was superb in Italy, yet only showed glimpses of his brilliance in the Premier League. Although not South American, there can be no denial that Shevchenko was one of the finest goalscorers in Europe at Ac Milan, yet he doesnt seem to cut it at Chelsea. Is it just the drastic difference between styles and standards of play? Can you really be considered world class if you cant adapt? Would Messi (for arguements sake) be the same dazzling genius in England as in Spain, or would he fail?
    However, I do echo many of the previous posters in saying that I am glad to see Veron doing well, and that his talent is undoubted. Its just a shame we never got to see the 'real' Seba in England. I am also glad to see Ronaldo doing well back in his homeland. Quite possibly the finest and most lethal striker of my generation and someone that I always enjoyed watching.
    Tim, this is always one of the most passionate and insightful blogs on this website, and always a pleasure to read.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm delighted for Veron, especially after what he endured in England. I've not seen many better players in my lifetime than Veron while he was at Lazio (their treble year in 2000 stands out), he was virtually unplayable while there.

  • Comment number 17.

    Tim,

    Whereas I agree with your summary of Veron's time in England, there are vital elements you have missed out.

    Veron, for the Premiership, simply lacked urgency. Whether that was because he had built his game in an Italian environment for so long I don't know, but he looked slow on the ball and failed to fit into the Man Utd setup.

    There was also the fact we had both Beckham and Scholes at the time. You have three midfields with good passing attributes - which one do you pass to? Well if you're a Man Utd player you pass to Paul Scholes, who can swivel and play a defence spliting pass within a blink of an eye. I sense that Veron is very much a player who wants the ball all the time and if he's not getting it he'll struggle to impose himself on the game.

    The last is Veron's passing. It's quite clear he has fantastic passing skills but my memory of him at Old Trafford was with a squashed up face scratching his head after misplacing a 40-yard-pass he shouldn't have attempted in the first place - maybe this stems back to being rushed in his play however I feel a top class footballer should be able to do their stuff in any environment.

    http://www.worldfootballcolumns.com

    Cheers,
    Steve

  • Comment number 18.

    Good blog Tim -thanks for raising the Veron issue. Like many of your contributors I liked and appreciated Veron. Whilst admittedly his time with Man U did'nt see him at his best, the 'Keane factor' and 4-4-2 etc all played a part. The only other element I would add is that the English game (at times) incorporates an 'off-the-road gear' a level of 'gut wrenching' effort and commitment and not just footballing flair from those participating, even at the highest level - unfortunately Veron could not find this gear when it was necessary, but undoutably a player I have been pleased to say 'I saw him play'.

  • Comment number 19.

    Veron was god-like especially during his time at Lazio. Every sunday, I used to watch him on that Seria A football show on channel 4. It was sad to see him unable to establish a foot hold on the Premier League at both United and Chelsea, although he had a couple of good days at Old Trafford but it didn't last long. Good to see him getting back to lifting trophies.

    http://wedontknowfootball.com/

  • Comment number 20.

    The problem with Veron at Man Utd was out of Giggs, Keane, Scholes and Beckham who did you leave out to put him in. Often he was deployed as a right midfielder rather than in the centre. Keane was always a box to box player much the same as Bryan Robson and Paul Ince rather than the Makelele style player that would have suited Veron. He was a great player especially remembering one match where when we were 3-0 down at half time and he played brilliantly as we won 5-3. He just didn't get the run in the team that he needed mainly because there wre 2 world-class central midfielders blocking the way

  • Comment number 21.

    Maybe if Veron had stayed with ManU instead of going South to Chelsea his career in England might have ended on a different note. To me that ws a really bad move.

    I also saw him in his last match for the Reds (friendly against Juventus at Giants Stadium)and he was man of the match. I remember that after that match, while attending a coaches symposium, Bobby Charlton was so delighted with Veron's play that night that he asked us, "do you think we are going to let this guy leave?" There were already talks about him leaving so I really thought that performance would have kept him in Ferguson's plan for that season.

  • Comment number 22.

    Tim,

    excellent article again :) i've been following you on here for a long while now. i only got to see the highlights of the final as i'm in rome but have followed veron since first watching serie A in the uk from 1988. where else do you write? i'm only asking because i often talk footy here with my italian mates, after your last article about veron one of them (a samp fan) got very emotional about watching a young veron from the stands in his debut. he was loved wherever he went in italy.

    no chance of anything of yours published in italian is there? or do i have to carry on translating what i remember over a few beers? ;)

    keep it up man,

    tom.

  • Comment number 23.

    Really excellent and intelligent debate going on here about Veron's time at Man U - thanks to everyone who's contributed.
    When he was signed in 2001 i wrote on this very space that i couldn't see how he would fit in to United's brand of 4-4-2 - I tend to agree with those who think that it would have been easier to accomodate him - i suppose that the fact he didn't come off 100% is English football's loss.

  • Comment number 24.

    Onceared has hit the nail on the head for me... there are leagues that hit harder than the prem, but nowhere requires players to marry strength and tenacity to flair, skill and pace to such a degree. Ronaldinho said he wasn't coming to the prem because of it and Ronaldo said its part of why he left (not sure it was a major factor though... $$), but he wouldn't be half the player he is if the prem didn't make him become as strong and tough as he is. Veron never quite had this edge, when he played well (a couple of games) he was electric, but in general he couldn't quite find his rhythm amongst the constant disruption. great player though, no doubt about it.

    Also the back to goal point is pertinent, Owen was toothless at newcastle playing with his back to goal (which he generally had to) you wait and see the difference the simple fact he will be running in the right direction at Man U will make.

  • Comment number 25.

    For whatever reason Ferguson can not get the best out of some very talented players especially South Americans: there's Verón, Forlán, and most recently Tévez. Perhaps future South American talents should stay away from Ferguson for their career's sake?

  • Comment number 26.


    14 - yes, it is the same Cerezo who passed acoss the face of goal v Italy in 82. Itmarked him, really - though he would have played the 86 World Cup had he been fit.
    One of the risks of playing through the midfield is of a pass going astray in a danger zone - Veron played a shocker in the first leg of the final against Cruzeiro when he was tiring towards the end of the game - got away with it because Cruzeiro didn't score.
    If you want to play passing football it's a risk you have to accept.

  • Comment number 27.

    Brilliant Article and pleaseant read as usual Tim. Along with the majority on this page I feel Veron can not be judged on his English days alone and you would have to naive to think so. IMO it was him that glorified the "quarter back" role so badly coveted by Beckham. As an Arsenal fan whose team capitalised on the United team at the time a part of me was happy to see him falter but I knew what a player they had on their hands and even Ranieri made him his priority signed when Abramovichs billions turned Chelsea into who they are today! One episode you have forgotten about was during his spell at Chelsea. In the semi final of the CL when he was brought on half fit and Monaco came back and scored 2 goals! Now I'm not saying it was his fault but it goes to show what Ranieri thought of him bringing him in in such an important game, half fit, even though it didn't work it goes to show how much faith an Italian manager and probably the Italian nation if put in the same situation had in this man, all of which was to no avail in the eyes of the english!!Sums it up really!! Till next week Timbo!!

  • Comment number 28.

    8 -I went to a Sporting Cristal gae a couple of months back in their rather pokey stadium on the banks of the river in Lima.
    They had an excllent run in the mid 90s, and even reached the final of the 97 Libertadores - lost narrowly to Cruzeiro - there have been soe domestic titles since but nthing internationally - then again Peruvian football has done nothing.
    Perhaps the extent of their success is the most surprising thing - in Lima their support baseis much smaller than Alianza of Universitario.
    Cristal did have a part to play in this year's Libertadores. They met Estudiantes, Veron and all, in the qualifying round, and only lost on away goals.

  • Comment number 29.

    I thought Veron was a very skilful player and he wasn't as big a flop as people make him out to be.

    When he signed for Utd in 2001, they had just sold Jaap Stam and they had Blanc at the heart of their defence- his lack of pace meant Keane and Veron spent too much time going backward to cover for him.

    Another problem is that Veron likes to be the main playmaker within a team's line-up: United had Beckham, Keane and Scholes who all liked to dictate play. I saw Veron pushed into holding midfield positions and behind a forward while he was at Man Utd, areas where he didn't look comfortable.

    Having said all that, there were some fine performances: I remember a 4-1 win over Everton at Old Trafford where Veron was imperious, and some fine performances in Europe where he gave a masterclass in manipulating the ball and moving it around.

    He only had 2 seasons there and I think Utd let him go prematurely. In the summer of 2003 he had an awesome pre-season and was setting up goals for Van Nistelrooy for fun. Beckham went on his way to Madrid, Keane was fading- it might have been Veron's time. But Chelsea put in an offer for him and Ferguson saw an opportunity to get half the money originally spent on him back. When you see what happened with true flops like Kleberson, Liam Miller and Djemba-Djemba after that, plus the long wait for Fletcher to develop- I'd say that was a mistake from Fergie.

    I seem to remember Veron going to Chelsea and scoring against Liverpool (?) and then suffering injury problems which meant Chelsea cut their losses. I do think the style and rhythm of Italian football suited him better though when it comes down it. At Inter we saw the Veron of old. However, in his potential third season at Man Utd I think he could have proved to be a success- he is a player you need to build a team around, not the bit part player or a workhorse.

  • Comment number 30.

    What people forget is that Veron was fantastic for United in the European games. Ferguson loves creative players like him but ultimately it seemed the English style didn't suit him. It was quick and also was United's play despite being very technical also. He was pressured just like the Argentinians were in 74 by the Dutch.

  • Comment number 31.

    I reckon Veron needs to play in a "medium" team revolving around him to flourish. Lazio is not classified as top of the Serie A, neither Sampdoria or Parma. Same for Estudiantes in Argentina. He may have done better perhaps going to Man City or Newcastle. Shame really as I would have loved to see what was he all about.

    Re Toninho Cerezo. I had him as one of the main culprits in that crucial match defeat against Italy in the 1982 World Cup. The trauma followed me for many years. Until he played for SPFC and won every title in the 1992/1993 years and all was forgotten.

    Tim, funny you saying you used to watch the Seria A matches in a little Italian cafe in the West End. I did watch the 2000-2001 final when Roma won the title in a Italian cafe in the West End, dark room at the back with three screens showing the three main matches at the same time, so I wonder if it was the same place.

    Lastly, I had to laugh at this new boy's name, Taison. Does he knocks the defenders down? Was his dad a keen boxer? Does he get sent off often? Was he bullied in school? Funny name.

  • Comment number 32.

    I agree with those who say that Veron arrived at just the wrong time for United. His style didn't quite suit the en vogue 4-4-2 formation of the time, though he was bought by Ferguson in attempts to revert to the 4-3-3 that is common now. He just hadn't figured how to use Veron properly, especially with Keane around.

    That is, except in Europe where Veron showed glimpses of how great a player he is. And let's not forget the guy still has a Premier League medal!

    For me Veron remains one of the players I've most enjoyed watching over the years. That pass for Estudiantes' 1st goal v Cruzeiro yet another example of his majesty.

    Thanks for an entertaining blog as usual Tim.

    thefunkdoobiest

    http://www.just-football.com/

  • Comment number 33.

    Without wanting to sound like an afficiado (ok, i do want to) was Carlos Bilardo not considered the star player of Estudiantes 3 times back to back winning Copa Libertadores side?

    Incidently, why is Osvaldo Zubeldia never mentioned alongside Rinus Michels as the game's greatest ever managers? That era at Estudiantes has to be just about the most incredible managerial achievment in football history, beats Clough at Forest and Alf Ramsey at Ipswich hands down.

  • Comment number 34.

    @ 33. LCFC1990, I think it's probably because that Estudiantes team were renowned for cynical and unsportsmanlike play, which was the antithesis of the philosophies that Clough and Ramsey had.

  • Comment number 35.

    yea i remember cerezo, class player even at old age, junior allso comes to mind in those days, italy had the stars back then.
    As for Veron, didnt seem the same man in england as he was in italy, i remember him from lazio, he was nearly a midfield on his own so strong

  • Comment number 36.

    Falcao, Junior, Eder, Cerezo, Socrates, Zico...if that 1980s Brazil had also had a world class striker then they'd definitely have won the World Cup, the difference between them and Italy in 82 was Paolo Rossi. If Romario, Bebeto or Ronaldo had been around in that era it would probably have been the greatest team ever and surpassed the 1970 side.

  • Comment number 37.

    Veron is a fantastic player in his own class but he will never be a Riquelme for me.....one of the best creative midfielder in the last decade......

  • Comment number 38.

    Veron was a class player than was used incorrectly by Ferguson.
    I used to sit in the north stand in amazement watching this player struggle with being played on the left wing

    but even in a side that at the time was struggling, you could still see glimpses of brillance.

    as for United fans slating him now, they dont have a clue.

    They prefer the tevez and fletchers of this world to someone with skill.

  • Comment number 39.

    33 - Bilardo was emphatically not the star man of the Estudiantes team - the ones who go on to be the successful coaches rarely are.
    It's well before my time in South America, but the impression I have of that late 60s Estudiantes side is that, along with the gamesmanship, they did theings that were ahead of their time - training twice a day, detailed appraisal of their opponents, huge emphasis on set pieces - bilrdo was the one who picked up on the legacy inhis own coaching career.

  • Comment number 40.

    Tim,

    i have read that last weekend a coach of a bolivian side put his 12-year old son on the pitch. Since he was one of the all-time greats of bolivia, the kid will probably have some potential.
    But arent there any laws(minimum age) that forbid this in south-america because letting someone that young play against adults is ridiculous and dangerous. (and from your dad who was a international, you should expect more)
    How is this action perceived by the public in bolivia

  • Comment number 41.

    Tim I can't help thinking there is something slightly more sinister afoot re the lack of success of Veron and other South Americans in England (Ossie and Ricky apart, and that's going back a while). It would be going to far to call it racism, but despite recent advances and the huge influx of foreign players in the Premier League, a "they don't like it up 'em" culture still pervades. As a Man City fan I found the media criticism of Robinho last season quite surprising (though the fee and some lacklustre performances didn`t help). Amazing how easily comments such as "the sun`s out today so he'll probably have a good game" and "won`t fancy a cold Tuesday night in Wigan" pour forth from the mouths of commentators who should know better. This of course isn't the only reason why Veron didn't dazzle in the UK, and style of play is obviously a bigger factor, but I feel a certain mistrust of South American footballers, particularly amongst old school managers (I'd include Alex Ferguson in this bracket) and commentators is rife. Worse still is that following the declines of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Adriano there's now a further twist to this, in that top Brazilian footballers are beggining to be perceived as being overly fond of the odd shandy or two (and other more profane pleasures). The Robinho "1,000 condoms" story is a good example - ironic given that he's just married his girlfriend of eleven years standing....

    Does this explain why England is always last in the queue when it comes to buying Brazilians? I understand of course there are massive cultural differences at play between Rio and Rochdale, and strong traditional links with the Italian and Spanish leagues, but why is it that British teams so rarely buy direct from South America? I know Liverpool bought Lucas and United the two kids from Fluminense, and are now talking about Douglas Costa (a strange one when Neymar, Taison and the possibly more UK friendly Hernanes would be available), but generally the policy of English teams seems to be to wait until South Americans become superstars in Spain or Italy and then try and buy them for enormous amounts of money. Odd, when there are Brazilians starring in every European league (Diego in Germany, Wagner Love in Russia, Alex in Turkey for example), that British teams are still so wary.

  • Comment number 42.

    Tim, The level of intelligent debate you mention is a direct result of the level of knowledge and reasoned argument that you put forward every week.

    As countless others have stated, your blog is head and shoulders above the amateur comedy or pseudo-intellectualism that pass for football journalism at the BBC and elsewhere.

    It is always a delight to hear your views on both the game and the culture that surrounds it.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 43.

    41 - i tend to think english football has got past that stage - and also past the stage of buying the player and doing nothing to help him settle in.
    The main problem in buying straight from south america is the work permit issue, which does not apply elsewhere in europe - if they haven't got an ec passport and youn can't get specil dispensation for them then you have to wait until they're established internationals, by which time they've been in europe for a while.

  • Comment number 44.

    There were two areas of Veron's play that are/were great:

    - dropping short, taking the ball off the back four, and leading the team's forward moves from the back.
    - taking set pieces.

    In the Manchester United team that Veron played in, Keane did the former and Beckham did the latter. I dont believe that Veron was ever allowed to shine at Manchester United.

  • Comment number 45.

    He was actually a great player for United its just that his role in the side was held by either Keane or Scholes and this meant he was played out of position in the premiership. In Europe his passing game was extremely effective and I remember soe brilliant slide rule passing. I think it was probably felt by SAF that Keane would start to miss games through injury and Veron would take over his role in the centre. I was sorry to see him go.

  • Comment number 46.

    I understand the Argentine league is not played with the same quality as EPL. However, JSB's play since he returned to Argentina has been wonderful, entertaining and inspiring!

    Wonderful because of his grand style and commitment on the field. Entertaining because he has lead his team to two very competitive (non-EPL) trophies: the Argentine league and the Copa Libertaroes (as well as finals of the Copa Sudamerica). Inspiring because he retuned from Europe to Estudiantes with the expressed goal to win the Copa Libertadores, which he did. That is a tough tournament to win even if its not related to EPL! Also, inspiring because he pushes his teammates. And, inspiring because has left some games in the late stages (many times outcomes are already decided) because his old body is hurting. But, he returns. When he is off-field, he is always on the sidelines. He gives a damn.

    I am so impressed with JSV.

  • Comment number 47.

    Tim, you should trade your S.Americaphilic analysis for some N.America love. No one does it like you - not even in Europe - and I wish we had a couple clear eyeballs to survey our talent for us the way you do the S.American landscape, for the Brits no less (though, obviously, that gets massive worldwide readership). I can't offer you a job, but maybe AEG will make you head coach of the Galaxy.

  • Comment number 48.

    As a Chelsea fan i remember concerns that he would never be able to play again because of his back injury problems. People that say Veron was a flop are ignorant football fans that feed their football intelligence fron the The Sun and are clueless to the real story.

    Im really glad for him and the fairy tale Estudiantes story.

    Thanks for the great blogs Tim!

  • Comment number 49.

    PS i hope Estudiantes get to keep most of their squad and give Barca a good walloping!

  • Comment number 50.

    Tim,

    I know you were probably in at the game, but what are your feelings about firstly the fact that there were a round of Brazilian league fixtures that night. Secondly that neither of the major terrestrial networks Globo and Band showed the game live outside of Minas Gereis state, and instead showed Palmeries at Flamengo.

    Personally I thought I had seen it all in this country with football, but when I settled down to watch the second leg of the final in Sao Paulo(which was in Brazil) having watched the first leg live, I was amazed at the lack of respect for the competition in both the scheduling of the Brazilian league and it´s importance ahead of the 50th Libertadores final.

    WE have a long way to go before Brazilian football and South American league tournaments can be taken serious.

  • Comment number 51.

    Santista 02, I just wanted to agree with you - the Brazilian football calendar is a very bad joke - the later stages of the Copa Do Brasil and the Libertadores clashed, they all come squeezed together at the beginning of the year, meaning not only are the league campaigns of the competing teams severely handicapped as they play reserve teams in the league (Fluminense last year and Cruzeiro this year), then the CBF schedule league games for the same night as the Libertadores final, and there are no interest-sustaining competitions to play for in the second half of the season apart from the league and the ugly sister Sul America...mind boggling. For me a revision of this situation, rather than the state championships, would give club competition in Brazil a real boost.

  • Comment number 52.

    Cerezo & Veron were technically very good players. They however also have much more in common, both lacked the temperament and mental discipline to withstand the pressure of the big games.Your beloved Toninho wilted on the big stage of Espana '82. Brazil with probably the best technically gifted team ever assembled could not stop a one track Italian team inspired by the prince of Venice Paolo Rossi. With Cerezo in the middle of that pack they gave away a goal(the opener) that should never have been conceded even by a pub team. They went to concede 2 more diabolical goals. Cerezo at the heart of the self destruct button. His International career was ended by this perfomance with many in Bazil never really forgiving him. He was absent to say the least in the afore mentioned 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley. Veron seems to star at the smaller clubs where the expectations are much less. The pressure at United and Inter never allowed him to show his worth he was average to be honest. The same applies to his international career where he has never fulfilled the potential he showed at the junior level. His United nightmare though was also down to SAF. Why buy Veron and not let him do what he does best that is run the midfield. Why have him in the team then run everything through Scholes/Keane. His United failure was more due to SAF tactical insularity. Today Carrick is playing the role Veron would have marvelled at but also never really being allowed to let go of the hand-brake either. It is this controlled perfomance that a free spirit like Veron and now Tevez were never going to come to terms with hence their bitter sweet depatures from Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 53.

    Toninho Cerezo was a legend. I remember getting a video fro xmas of the best 110 goals from serie A 89/90 season and he was always involved in the build up for all Sampdoria's goals.

    I can still remeber the names of all the players on the video, me and my mates used to watch it and try and reinact the goals in the park;

    Vialli, Dezzotti, Klinsman, Ancelotti, Van Basten, Maradona, Alemao, Baggio, Sreko Katanec,

    magic days of Serie A

  • Comment number 54.

    "here was always a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that Fergie would not be able to accommodate him in his preferred 4-4-2"

    There's a surprise - Man Utd 'fans' and their on-tap hindsight.

  • Comment number 55.

    #1 - I agree with you that the Arg league is weaker than the EPL and La Liga for example, but why weaker than the rest? Could you give me some examples?

    Tim, what happened to Laurito? He recently signed for Huracan on loan and I remember him as a really good player in the U-17, but I never saw him playing for Udinese. Any idea of what happened to him in Italy? He could become a starter in future seasons?

    Congratulations for this fantastic blog Tim.

  • Comment number 56.

    #55

    If you could make yourself clearer then I will answer more fully, but my point is that Argentinian domestic football is, and has been for many years, weakers than the domestic football played in Europe. The Argentinian domestic league is not as strong as Serie A, which Veron also played in. It would be easier therefore for a player with talent to look good in Argentina than in England, but that same player might not look as good in, for example, the English Premier League or Serie A.

    Veron it has been established looked good in Italy. But he didn't in England. That was the point I was making. In fact, at times he looked completely out of his depth in England.

    I never said the Argentinian league was 'weaker than the rest'. I was make a general point. Am I not allowed to deal in generalisms?

    Hope that clears that up. Cheers.

  • Comment number 57.

    Thanks for the aclaration mate. I made the question because I thought that you said at the end of you first comment that the Arg league was weaker than ALL the European leagues.

    The Arg league as you stated is clearly below the standard of the EPL, SERIE A or La Liga but better than the rest or on par, at least in my opinion.

    Cheers

  • Comment number 58.

    Toninho Cerezo is one of the biggest idols of my club, and I learned to idolater him, even though I barely see him play.

    31 - Lazio was a great team by the time Veron was there. Nedved, an example of TOP player, was there by the time Veron played there. They were doing well on every front too.

    Veron, given the circumstances, failed at England. Does it make him a lesser player? Not by any means, I think every player had a couple of bad-seasons.

  • Comment number 59.

    #54 - what was the point of your post??
    You cut and paste part of my post to take a comment totally out of context and have a dig at a fan of a rival club.
    Does it really irk you to think that somebody else might know something about football?
    I notice there's nothing else from you on this subject here.
    If you've got nothing constructive to add then don't bother posting at all.

  • Comment number 60.

    I would like to first of all applaud Mr. Vickery on another piece of very solid journalism (you wrap it up at the end like no one else Tim).

    Secondly, I would like to build upon what AgentC53 said. I, also, watched that Man Utd pre-season game against Juventus. And was blown away by that chip to Van Nistelrooy. I think it is important to remember that at this time, right before Veron's move to Chelsea, United's players (particularly Van Nistelrooy) were fighting tooth 'n' claw to try and convince the Argentine to stay at the Theatre of Dreams.

    The last time United's playing staff were so vociferous about a player's future, the club signed Cristiano Ronaldo. United had just played Sporting Lisbon pre-season, and seasoned internationals, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville, were still trying to catch their breath while begging Fergie to cough up the cash necessary to sign the 17 year-old Ronaldo, who had just given them both the run around.

    The point is, just like Fergie, United's players know a player when they see one. There's only one Juan Veron.

    And along with being a spectacularly gifted playmaker with a brilliant mind for the beautiful game, he also has a heart. In an age of celebrity footballers, he's a one-woman-man, having met, and deflowered, his wife at the tender age of 13 (I guess kids must grow up quick in South America). And, rather than take the money and run like more celebrated national idols (Gabriel Batistuta anyone?). He took a pay cut to return to his father's team and play in a more competitive league than the United Emirates had to offer.

    I'm over the moon for Veron, and Estudiantes' recent success. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving bloke. May his genius continue to flourish in the nation of his birth.

  • Comment number 61.

    The truth about Veron is in Europe he was a great success he made an incredible fortune from transfers.After Lazio he didnt really give a damn about Chelsea or Manchester Utd except their money.This is the only reasons Argentines or Brasilians go to Europe its hardly to improve their futbol is it?At Estudiantes its different its his club he loves it hes willing to die for it he cares with a passion he couldnt even imagine in Europe. Its very interesting to see people on this forum doubt his class because he "failed" in England.Obviously Tarantini and Villa were worthless as well and needless to say was Gilberto Silva and Kleberson.Obviousy winning the World cup is of little consequence in ones career compared to performing in the English league.MMmmmmm I wonder what Italians think of those wondermen Ian Rush,Paul Gascoigne,Beckham etc
    Wonderful piece Tim Cerezo was a wonderful player.Not of course good enough for some here.He only won 2 World club titles,2 Libertadores,Serie A,Copa Italia,Supercopa Sudamerican 60 caps for Brasil clearly a failure

  • Comment number 62.

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  • Comment number 63.

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  • Comment number 64.

    Hi Tim. Great blog as always.

    Just a quick note to inform you Toninho Cerezo is coaching the Al Shabab team in Dubai. This year is the club's 50th anniversary and Toninho led The Slashers to a fifth place finish - complete with a couple of a Brazilians bossing the midfield. He remains one of the most popular coaches on the UAE circuit, despite his unwillingness to speak English to the press, and was even linked to the UAE national team job at one point.

    If Veron ever wants to move into management when he hangs up his boots, I'm sure there would be a position for him out here.

    Cheers.

  • Comment number 65.

    I was delighted to see this article after some people had been critical of Veron after last week's column. Veron was amazing in Italy, and I say that as a Roma fan who was less than pleased when Lazio won the title! Too many English supporters are too quick to say that anyone who fails to perform in the Premiership isn't a great player. They should consider that players like Bergkamp and Henry (probably regarded as the best striking combination in Premiership history) both hsd poor spells in Serie A previously. That doesn't mean they are bad players.

  • Comment number 66.

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  • Comment number 67.

    Basically what my Brazilian compatriot is complainning about is rediculous.

    Brazil suffers from the worst refereeing in the universe. With every touch equalling a foul and players are rewarded for falling over instead of batalling on. That is one of the reasons many Brazilian players fail to adapt to the Premier League. Referees will not give you silly fouls. They will not blow the wistle if you go to the corner flag give the oponent ur back and suddenly fall on all fours. It just doesnt happen.

    Thankfully, the LIbertadores does not suffer from this, except when there is a Brazilian ref. Argentinian teams win beause they do not play the game asa joke, the fight on like men. Unlike the cruzeiro players who ould rather complain about the ref than actually fight for a victory.

    As for the final and its transmission on Globo. Its simple. Cruzeiro is a medium team in terms of fans and other games would give more ratings. I watched the Brazilian cup final, a much better game.

    Veron is an amazing player. No debate. He is fantastic. He didnt work out so well? Well, neither did so many other amazing players throughout history.

  • Comment number 68.

    Gracias a Dios We can agree on this.Estudiantes this time were better than Cruzeiro but inferior to Internacional in the Sudaamericana final last year.its nothing to do with bias.My team River were a disaster and were deservedly beaten by Nacioanl thats life we have to admit it when we lose that the better team won.Its not just Brazil who put other matches on at the same time as Libertadores.I remember Racing playing a league game in Argentina and a Copa match in Peru on the same day about 10 years ago.Conmebol itself had the Recopa final Liga Deportivo-Internacional on dates very close to the Copa final.Its a South American thing of poor organization.Mexico have more reason to grumble about Conmebol than Brasil 2 of their clubs being more or less thrown out of the competition while here where there are almost as many deaths from the swine flu there was anever adanger of Estudiantes not playing the final

  • Comment number 69.

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  • Comment number 70.

    Veron was quality, another player similar to Riquelme of a breed that seems to be dying out. The foot on the ball playmaker now seems to be giving way to a slightly more efficient but less exciting player, in the mould of Xabi Alonso, Andrea Pirlo and to some extent Xavi, although these players havent damaged football i dont think as the percentage balls they play a lot of the time allow the more creative players to shine and remove some of the dangers tim spoke about earlier with regards to passing football. I do realise alonso and the others sometimes play defence splitting passes and great through balls but a lot of the job is when the team play slightly more defensively (disregard xavi from this bit, barca are never that defensive haha) and they have to play the possession role of short simple Makalele-esque passes.

  • Comment number 71.

    #51

    This time, it was Conmebol who messed up: the last game of Libertadores was supposed to be in the 1st of July, but they delayed the games in the round of 16 and quarter-finals because of the swine flu.

    Anyway, Libertadores this year was the weakest in a long time. Even the Braziian Cup from quarter-finals forward was much superior.

  • Comment number 72.

    hi tim, another top article. greatly appreciated

    i've just got back from Brazil, where i played football against some younger brazillians, being only 17.
    i played against an Academy called Brasilias, run by a brazil legend called Oscar (think he played in the 82 world cup), located about 2 hours from Sao Paulo. they say they're had Mascherano and Tevez processed through there.

    i was wondering how prominent Brasillias is as a production line in Brazil?

    i also played against Botafogo u17s, playing against the Brazil u18 keeper, who we spoke to and confirmed he had just been on a 2 week trial with arsenal, could you tell us more about him?

    many thanks, Alex

  • Comment number 73.

    I've always been a huge fan of Veron; his passing ability is often spoken of but for me his ability to make the simple runs off the ball defensively, often without ever being noticed, and forcing the opposition to make sub-optimum passes is his best quality by far.

    I've also always felt that he was just starting to gel down into the midfield at United right before he was sold... his performances pre-season and the entire midfield that pre-season was looking nigh-on awesome. Was deeply saddened when he left, it felt like a missed oppurtunity.

  • Comment number 74.

    Excellent blog as always Tim. Been waiting for this one - a comment on the copa libertadores final. estudiantes were the same tactically organised side taht dispatched of nacional in the away match. as soon as cruzeiro went up and the home support went berserk, estudiantes certainly came to life and was inspired by who else - but seba veron. much as i feel repelled to admit it, estudiantes of argentina were the better side and are deserved champions of south america. it would come as no wonder if veron wins south american player of the year second year running. too bad he did not work out in EPL, but then again very few south americans do. it just does not suit their style.

  • Comment number 75.

    Thanks for the answer to my comment Tim. Is it really the case though that British clubs have insurmountable difficulties with work visas for South Americans? If so, how did United sign the two kids from Fluminense, and now want Costa? Or let me put it another way - if they can get around the red tape for those players, why not for Thiago Silva, Pato, Renato Augusto, Breno, and going further back, players like Robinho and Diego a few years ago? Presumably (and you know a hell a lot more than me about this) most of these players have or had some kind of Under 17 or Under 20 international record which might allow a work permit. I´d love to think the British football mentality has moved on, but based on the almost constant stream of "rainy night in Grimsby" suspicions I still hear about Latin players from both commentators and the man on the Clapham Omnibus, I wonder if there still isn´t an unpleasant grain of racial stereotyping still festering.

  • Comment number 76.

    72 - Unlikely. Mascherano and Tevez are argentinians and only played in Brazil briefly, after being established players.

    75 - Fabio and Rafael both have Portuguese nationality, thus avoiding work-permit. Possebom also, he even played for italy sub- 21.

    Of those you mentioned, I guess only Diego has a european passport(in his case, Italian)

    Franco di Santo only went to Chelsea because of his italian double nationality too.

    Costa, to be considered, may have a double-nationality too, I will look it later. But under the circumstances, I'd bet it's agent talk.

  • Comment number 77.

    Verón is an excellent player and has always been. Lazio's scudetto is all his.

    Not to rub it in, but La libertadores is definitely NOT the Brazil show as we discussed earlier this year. It doesn't matter how much more attention Brazilian media is paying to it, the rest of the continent has always loved it and vibrated with it.

    Excellent win for rightful winners Estudiantes even when Cruzeiro were worthy opponents. It would also have been nice to see Nacional take it but Estudiantes were great.

    Excellent coverage from your part during the entire Copa but, as always, I'd have liked it to be, let's say, more balance!

    Let's hope for a good Suramericana (as commercial as it is) and an even better Libertadores next year (where it's just fair to have 4 Mexican teams after this year's travesti).

  • Comment number 78.

    I happened to see the second leg of The Copa Libertadores you mentioned. I cannot agree more with you about Veron. He was the reason Estudantes won.He was the fulcrum for every good move the Argentines made,covered every inch of the field and never misplaced a pass. An outstanding, man of The Match performance.

  • Comment number 79.

    Tim,
    I would like to ask you a question which is off the topic, i have send this question to your e-mail last week and its not yet answered , i can understant that you are not in a position to answer all the questions that you recieve so i think it would be better to ask you here :)

    it was regarding Kerlon, I think every one knows that he's been signed by Inter milan recently, you have mentioned about him in your article few months back, and you said he could find it hard to succeed in Europe because if his injuries and attitude. Do u think inter made a good decision? I dont think Mourinho had any role in this signing becuase he does not approve showboating ! and kerlon is full of that!! i think this signing is just to make up numbers for Inter squad.

  • Comment number 80.


    Lovely stuff Tim. I have thoroughly enjoyed this thick and dense description you have placed before us. Thanks.

    "The golden rule of crosses is that the quicker they come in, the harder they are for the defence to deal with" - Defenders are often firmly and helplessly rooted with both legs on the ground or one on the ground and the other in the air. Goalkeepers too are stranded having no time to react. It's the most cruel moment in a Jogo Bonito for the defending team and the enthusiastic fans.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 81.

    Time @ post 39.

    I agree with you about Bilardo taking up his coaching mantle if you like, but like you mention about Zubeldia, he had so much influence on the game.

    Was he not the first manager to actually research the opposition throughly and their tactics and players, as to change his tactics to play to the opposition's weakness or counter their strengths? I beleive he also was the first to take set-pieces seriously as a genuine free opportunity and was the first to practice them and different moves in training. I'm sure I read once he was the first to implement the offside-trap and short corner too.

    While I am aware that a lot of people were averse to his side's unsportman like behaviour, the huge influence he had on the game in things that pretty much every manager uses in the world today without giving it a second thought, added to the fact I don't think anyone has ever revoloutionised a club and has taken a small, struggling club *that* successful int he history of the game. It's always striken me as odd that he is not considered worthy enough to rival the likes of Michels, Herrera, Happel, Ferguson etc.

    I mean Herrera was known for his very defensive tactics, and without wantign to cause any contraversy Alex Ferguson ahs often been critised for his teams unsporting behaviour in surrounding referees etc. yet both of these are considered among the all-time greats, and Zubeldia always seemed to me to have a much bigger impact on the game and did a much more extrodianry job than either Herrera or Ferguson.

  • Comment number 82.

    That should've said Tim by the way, I've lost my spellcheck on this damn thing :P

  • Comment number 83.

    Oh, and sorry for the trebel post, but I forgot to say really interesting read, I do wish South American football was given more media coverage over here, I find the British media's bias towards British football quite saddening at times.

  • Comment number 84.

    This blog started off excellently with the introduction of this Toninho Cerezo fella, i was about 10 years old and had little knowledge of Italian football at that age beyond Maradona played there.

    So i read the discription of Toninho keenly only to find the article decend into some sort of Veron biography??

    Don't get me wrong i loved the player in Italy (by then Itlian football had come to Channel 4) and have respect for his ability but honestly, if i had know this article was really about him, i would have saved 3 mins of my life.

  • Comment number 85.

    Somehow I doubt even Lionel Messi would do very well in the premiership. This does not eman he is not a good player. Many players have left England to go on and shine elsewhere and heave even punished England when they met in International games.

    Sometimes we bring these guys and play them out of position (a fair point mentioned by the writer but ignored by many commentators) and expect them to do what thet were doing before they came. Not every player can do that and Football just does not work like that.

    The social life here is also hostile to many south american players who like to live in a community where they bond and can feel appreciated outside of football. Which explains why south american footballers do much better in Spain and Italy and why ther are usually reluctant to come to England.

  • Comment number 86.

    I grew up in Santa Margherita Ligure, a coastal resort town near Genoa, but would spend my summers in Sheffield. However, a bad school year meant I was confined to the Riviera in 1997 and Cerezo (who, while at Sampdoria, was only 20 miles away, and still had connections in the region) co-owned a bar on the beach (literally) that would stay open till the early hours. I have very fond memories of sipping caipiriña and talking football at 3am with someone who was not only a genius, but also a gentleman of the game. Indeed, that was the closest to Copacabana I've ever got... It scares me to think how much those looneys at r**l m****d may table for his services in todays environment.
    As for Veron, he did control Serie A games, scoring some corkers in the process. The Premiership just never allowed him the time on the ball he needed. But Vickery is, as usual, spot on with his judgement on both. Sampdoria didnt discover Cerezo, but they did bring Veron to Europe. Back then, they had a better track record than most at bringing underpriced foreign talent into Italy. Trevor Francis was just an exception.

  • Comment number 87.

    I always thought Veron was top drawer and could see exactly why SAF shelled out 27 mill for him. (Didnt Mendieta command a similar fee at the same time?) sam-red-galctico, its not revisionism from United fans but i always thought that unless SAF rejigged his formation i couldnt quite see where Veron would fit.
    At that time we had a midfield 4 of Giggs, Keane, Scholes and Beckham at the peak of their powers. 9 times out of 10 it was that midfield that played as "rotation" wasnt the done thing.
    For Veron to have played in a 4-4-2 would have meant Scholes being benched as the most like for like member of that quartet. That was never going to happen.
    It doesnt make Veron a bad player as when he did play he always impressed me. He had an eye for a pass that was only rivalled by Scholesy, he could take a cracking free kick and was willing to work up and down the pitch.
    As someone else pointed out Veron would be an ideal fit in Uniteds current sqaud, the equivalent of Liverpools Alonso but better.

    As far as Sebas time at United was concerned i think it was a classic case of "Right place, wrong time"

  • Comment number 88.

    _LFC_returns #84 - so the blog title "Seba Veron, an heir to Cerezo" (which has been on this blog since first posted), didn't give it away that the blog was about Veron then???
    Jeez

  • Comment number 89.

    My favourite game featuring Veron for Man Utd was the 2-0 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford in 2002. Roy Keane was missing and Veron was allowed to control the game alongside Phil Neville.

    Neville played like a man possessed and won everything against Vieira and co. allowing Veron to do what he does best.

  • Comment number 90.

    Picky point but shouldn't it be "away win at" rather than "away win to". For a moment, when reading your account of the final, I was confused as to which team had actually won the Copa Libertadores.

  • Comment number 91.

    I saw Veron play for Argentina against Wales at the Millenium stadium. Although it was only a friendly it was the best live performance I have ever seen. He completely ran the show from start to finish operating from his favoured deep position in front of the back 4. Everything went through him and he dictated the pace of play through his choice of passing.

    A magic player and one that I think many United fans still remember fondly. Shame two great football institutions couldnt quite work it out.

  • Comment number 92.

    I followed Veron when he played in Italy and it is fair to say he was one of the best player in the Serie A at the time which was duly rewarded with a place in an epic Lazio side including the likes of Stam, Crespo (later Mihailovic etc. I could never understand why he went to a well established Man U midfield while it seemed obvious his contribution would have been greater in teams like Chelsea, which until the arrival of the special one was the closest 'Italian' team in the EPL you could find. Moving eventually to Chelsea seemed like an afterthought, a way of getting paid while not playing.

    It is also said that Veron had some bad experiences in Manchester being robbed or a house intrusion. What i never understood was why did he not go back to Italy or move to Spain where his style of football would have paid dividends? I remember specifically Veron saying frequently when in the UK that he missed home. And it clearly showed that he needed to play with Estudiantes to be a good player again. Kudos to a great player.

  • Comment number 93.

    Somebody already touched on the subject that the real fact is that the breed of the playmaker is dying. There are very few players like that around (Kaka, Deco, Veron, Riquelme) because they have to amazing creativity, flair and passing ability. Unfortunately, with the exception of possibly Kaka who is an excellent athlete, modern football is all about pace and strength and none more so than the football that is practiced in England.
    Nothing is black and white of course, and many factors contributed to Veron's failure in England, as most people already pointed them out. I don't think you can compare Veron to Shevchenko who like Raul is a player that hit his peak around 25/26 and lost his pace, Veron never had pace!! He was a playmaker, and like all playmakers he controlled the pace of the game rather than have pace himself. Of course in Italy this didn't matter, in a slow tempo approach to football with patient build ups and complex moves. In England, although the long ball is now confined to the lower divisions, it is very much a fast paced direct style with very little tactical know how involved, no time for people thinking about passes and intelligent play, and have the ball at their feet for more than 2 seconds, "if you have it get rid of it" could be a motto for English football. Notable exceptions to the top four, which incidentally ARE the top four...
    Even Zidane, and other players like Rosicky and Iniesta or Del Piero are now forced to play in the wings because the middle of the pitch is too congested and there's no place for "fantasistas", Italy's favourite term for a number 10, a playmaker.
    Kaka really is the exception and the way he displaced Rui Costa from the Milan's team is a testament as to how good he is. He may have "only" cost Real Madrid £50m but for me that is greater value than other people's £80m, and his influence in the team and in games is much greater than Ronaldo's, cue for Ronaldo's miserable and non-existent performances for Portugal in any major tournament. Kaka comes alive for Brazil in a team full of stars and technically gifted players, he is, for me, the best player in the world, and next year people will see it.
    Kaka is the player that Veron would like to have been, and if he had, Man Utd an dEngland would have venerated him.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ Post 81: LCFC1990, Don Revie was doing all those things in english football during the 1980s, Zubeldia was not alone in those ground-breaking coaching initiatibes about preparing dossiers and plans for the opposition.

    And when I talked about unsportsmanlike behaviour from his Estudiantes teams, I was really being delicate about the subject matter. I'm not just talking about intimidation of officials. Zubeldia's Estudiantes teams got away with blatant thuggery and gamesmanship on the field. Ask any Celtic fan or Manchester United fan about the Intercontinental Cup finals in the late 1960s. Diving, Nobby Stiles being covered in spit, players being punched off the ball, nails scraping into arms when pretending to help opponents up, tales like that.

    If that guy Zubeldia is considered a great coach of his era and so influential, no wonder we have such a problem with cynicism, diving and gamesmanship in football, notably in Latin countries.

  • Comment number 95.

    couple of typos, I meant to write 'Don Revie was doing all those things in english football during the 1960s' and 'initiatives'

  • Comment number 96.

    Can I just compliment Mr Twilight and the others that answered his comment. For once on a football forum some rational debate: someone makes a point, someone else makes a counterpoint, the first person maybe doesn't agree but takes on board the point without getting abusive and just haranging the other person's team. Thank the lord there's still some sane fans out there that can support their team without having the blinkers to hate any opposing view.

  • Comment number 97.

    93 - Cristiano Ronaldo left the English Premiership because "In Spain the weak teams try to play football too". I can see him scoring a thousand goals in Spain, but I reckon Kaka will be a better player.

    I hope the best for him, Kaka is and will be forever one of the biggest idols I could ever have.

  • Comment number 98.

    "English fans often seem to believe that Veron was a flop in Europe."

    I'm not so sure about this. I always perceived the general consensus to be that Veron maybe wasn't cut out for English football, but stood out for Man U in the Champions League and was quality in Italy.

  • Comment number 99.

    "He could indeed look a little ungainly. But few players have ever run a midfield with so much elegance.". . .contradictory?

    Haven't read the rest of the article yet. . .it's been a long day at work. . .

  • Comment number 100.

    @ Post 94: Fair enough, I was not aware of those things.

 

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