BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for February 2012

Players strike in Peru points way forward

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Tim Vickery | 10:18 UK time, Monday, 27 February 2012

Professional football walks an uneasy line between business and culture.

As businesses go, football is unorthodox. Success is measured in trophies, not profits, and the relationship between the clubs is more like partners than true competitors. Clubs need each other and without enough opponents to sustain a season-long calendar there is no professional football.

This relationship is reflected at its most crude in the United States model. In Major League Soccer the league is a single entity. The risk of relegation has been removed, and competitive balance between the clubs is sought via the draft system, where the team that finished last gets first pick of the next generation of promising youngsters.

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The importance of potent partnerships

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Tim Vickery | 10:42 UK time, Monday, 20 February 2012

Of the many images football has left in my mind, one of the most intriguing comes from a pre-match warm up more than 15 years ago.

Flamengo were about to play Internacional in the Brazilian Championship. Reunited for the first time since winning the World Cup just over two years earlier, Romario and Bebeto were exchanging passes.

Bebeto was sleek and somehow vulnerable, like a cheetah. Romario was stocky and merciless, a perfect hyena. The two made natural hunting partners. It is inconceivable that Brazil would have won USA 94 without them.

But it was one thing for the pair of them to knuckle down and work together for the limited time frame of a tournament, especially with a big prize at the end. Doing it week in week out at club level would surely be a different matter. The pair had big egos and different temperaments. Now they were together at Flamengo, how would they get along? Would they fire together or end up sniping at each other?

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Argentina's class of '78 deserve respect

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Tim Vickery | 09:15 UK time, Monday, 13 February 2012

It is now 34 years ago, but the controversy over the Argentina-Peru match in the 1978 World Cup does not want to lie down and die.

Hosts Argentina, needing at least a four-goal margin to reach the final, won 6-0 and then went on to beat the Netherlands and claim their first title.

Last week, veteran Peruvian politician Genaro Ledesma added fuel to the fire. A prisoner of Peru's military government at the time, he claims Argentina's military dictatorship agreed to take custody of him and other dissidents in return for Peru throwing the match.

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Diplomat Bielsa goes on the attack

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Tim Vickery | 11:00 UK time, Monday, 6 February 2012

If he needs help in his captaincy dilemma then perhaps Fabio Capello could take a leaf out of the book of Marcelo Bielsa.

Currently with Athletic Bilbao after spells in charge of the national teams of Chile and his native Argentina, Bielsa believes that the role of the captain is to represent the squad - and on that basis he usually lets the players vote to determine who should lead them out. But that is where Bielsa's democracy ends.

In the late 90s when he first took the Argentine job there were some early problems - hardly a surprise given the unorthodox nature of his trademark 3-3-1-3 system.

Training sessions were not going as Bielsa would have liked. He felt that some resistance to his methods. He called his players together and asked them to write on a piece of paper whether they would prefer the team to line up with four or three at the back.

Then he sifted through the answers, almost all of which were in favour of a back four. "Well," he said to the group, "this shows which model has your preference. I would like to announce, then, that we are going to be playing with a back three. Bye." And with that he strode off.

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