Wednesday, October 1, 2014

1 October 1996 - With That Name, He Had To End Up There Sooner Or Later

On 1 October 1996, Arsène Wenger officially took charge as manager of Arsenal. He would go on to become recognized as one of the best managers in football, becoming the first (and to date only) non-British manager to win the English Double and the first Premier League manager to go a full season undefeated.

Wenger was born in Strasbourg, France on 22 October 1949. He enjoyed a brief and undistinguished playing career as a sweeper for FC Mulhouse (1973-75), ASPV Strasbourg (1975-78), and RC Strasbourg (1978-81) before moving into management as an assistant with AS Cannes in 1983.

He received his first full mangerial position with Ligue 1 side AS Nancy in 1984. He stayed there for only three seasons, the last of which ended with the club being relegated to Ligue 2. In 1987, he moved to AS Monaco, where he earned his first managerial honors, winning Ligue 1 in his first season. His Monaco side also won the Coupe de France in 1991.

Wenger left Monaco in 1994 after the club's board denied him permission to speak with Bayern Munich about their managerial vacancy. In 1995, he went to Japan to manage Nagoya Grampus Eight and in 1996 his side won both the Emperor's Cup and the J-League Super Cup.

He moved to Arsenal in 1996 after the London club sacked previous manager Bruce Rioch. His first match in charge was a 2-0 Premier League away win over Blackburn Rovers on 12 October 1996. Arsenal finished in third place that season, but secured Wenger's record-setting Double the following season, winning both the Premier League and the FA Cup in his first full season in charge.

He won a second Double in the 2001-02 season, then won the league again in 2003-04 without losing a match.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

30 September 2006 - This Time, Barton Shows His Backside Figuratively AND Literally

On 30 September 2006, Manchester City drew with Everton 1-1 before a crowd of 38,250 at Goodison Park with an equalizer from defender Micah Richards in the fourth minute of stoppage time. City midfielder Joey Barton celebrated the draw by dropping his shorts and exposing his bare bottom to the home fans.

Barton, who played youth football for City, signed with the club as a professional in 2002 and, by 2006, was already in the process of developing a reputation for trouble. At the City Christmas Party in 2004, youth player Jamie Tandy--himself no stranger to trouble--attempted to set fire to Barton's shirt. Barton responded by sticking a lit cigar in Tandy's eye. Although Tandy's injuries were limited to a burnt eyelid, City issued Barton a club-record fine of £60,000.

In the summer of 2005, City were participating in a preseason tournament in Thailand when a 15-year old Everton supporter verbally insulted Barton and kicked him in the shin. Barton responded by attacking the boy and had to be pulled away by teammate Richard Dunne. Afterward, City manager Stuart Pearce ordered Barton to take anger management classes and also fined him £120,000.

By contrast, Barton's backside-baring earned him a paltry £2,000 fine and a caution from the Football Association.

Barton was not through making headlines for off-the-pitch behavior, however. On 27 December 2007, he was caught on video fighting on the streets of Liverpool. He attacked a 16-year old boy, breaking several teeth, and punched another man at least 20 times. He was sentenced to six months in jail, but was released after spending only two months behind bars.

He left Man City in 2007 and, after spells with Newcastle and Marseille, currently plays for Queens Park Rangers.

Monday, September 29, 2014

29 September 1976 - Sheva, The Ukranian Dynamo

On 29 September 1976, Ukrainian international and Ballon d'Or winner Andriy Shevchenko was born in the Soviet village of Dvirkivschyna, located in the Kiev province of what is now the independent state of Ukraine. He would grow up to become one of the most celebrated strikers in Europe.

Shevchenko played his youth team football for Dynamo Kyiv, with whom he signed his first professional contract in 1994. He went on to make 166 appearances for Kyiv, scoring 94 goals. Along the way, he helped them win five consecutive Ukrainian Premier League titles (1995-99), three Ukrainian Cups (1996, 1998, 1999), and three Commonwealth of Independent States Cups (1996-98).

In 1999, he moved to AC Milan for a $25 million transfer fee. He was an instant success for the Rossoneri, scoring 24 goals in 32 league matches to claim the Serie A scoring title in his debut season. It was the first season in Shevchenko's professional career that he did not win a league title, however, as Milan finished third, behind Lazio and Juventus. He earned his first silverware with Milan in 2003, winning both the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League trophies. Milan won the Scudetto the following season, with Shevchenko again finishing as the league's top scorer. 2004 was a good year for him, as he also won that year's Ballon d'Or. All told, he made 296 appearances for Milan in all competitions, scoring 173 goals.

In 2006, Shevchenko transferred to Chelsea, who paid £30.8 million for his services, setting a record for the highest fee paid by an English club. His time at Chelsea was less successful, as injuries and disagreements with manager Jose Mourinho, and later Avram Grant, limited his playing time. He played only two seasons for Chelsea, who then loaned him back to Milan for the 2008-09 season. In the fall of 2009, he returned to Ukraine and his old club, Dynamo Kyiv, where he remained until his retirement in 2012.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

28 September 2004 - The Kid Knows How To Make An Entrance

On 28 September 2004, English striker Wayne Rooney made his debut for Manchester United in a 6-2 win against Fenerbahçe at Old Trafford. The 18-year old put in an impressive performance, contributing three goals and an assist.

United signed Rooney from Everton the previous month for a fee of £25.6 million, a deal that, at the time, made him the most expensive teenage signing in British history. He had been a professional for only two years, but had shown world-class quality playing for England in the 2004 UEFA European Championship, scoring braces against Switzerland and Croatia before suffering a foot injury against Portugal that forced him to exit the tournament.

In his Old Trafford debut, United were already up 1-0 with a goal from Ryan Giggs when Rooney found the net from the edge of the penalty area in the 17th minute. He scored his second--from about 20 yards out--eleven minutes later, with an assist from Giggs. The Turkish visitors pulled one back in the 47th minute, but Rooney delivered again with a curling free kick in the 54th minute. Finally, with United up 5-2 in the 80th minute, Rooney played a pass to United striker David Bellion, who scored the match's final goal.

The hat-trick was Rooney's first as a professional player.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

27 September 2008 - Barça Makes Every Second Count

On 27 September 2008, Barcelona defeated Espanyol 1-2. Barça winger Lionel Messi scored the winning goal with a controversial penalty kick in the 14th minute of stoppage time.

The home side received an early gift in the 19th minute when Barça keeper Victor Valdes failed to secure a high ball and spilled it to the feet of Espanyol forward Ferran Corominas, who tapped it home. Their fortunes turned, however, when winger Anderson Nene was sent off right before the break. Nene, who had been carded earlier in the match, was booked a second time for elbowing Barça midfielder Sergio Busquets in the 45th minute.

Down to ten men, Espanyol defended bravely in the second half, with keeper Carlos Kameni making several brilliant saves. In the 70th minute, the referee halted the game and the players were taken off the field due to incidents in the stands. After a break of approximately seven minutes, the match resumed.

In the 84th minute, Kameni parried a shot from forward Thierry Henry, but it rebounded off a defender and back to Henry, who claimed the second-chance goal. The teams were deadlocked deep into stoppage time when Barça substitute forward Samuel Eto'o was tripped in the penalty area by Espanyol defender Nicolas Pareja in the 13th minute of added time. Although the contact appeared minimal, Barça were awarded the penalty, which Messi easily converted. The whistle blew almost immediately afterward.

The win was a landmark victory in a season that saw Barça claim both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.

Friday, September 26, 2014

26 September 1948 - Shalom!

On 26 September 1948, the United States beat Israel 3-1 in a friendly before a crowd of approximately 50,000 at Giants Stadium in New York. The match was the first for the Israeli national team.

The Israel Football Association is the successor to the Palestine Football Association, which was founded in 1920 and joined FIFA in 1929. When the state of Israel declared its independence in 1948, the IFA became the new governing body for the new national team.

In that first match, the US took an early lead with a goal from forward Ed Souza in the 13th minute. The lead didn't last long, however, as right midfielder Shmulik Ben-Dror scored a 20th-minute equalizer for Israel--the new national team's first ever goal. The Americans reclaimed the lead right before the break, as forward Ben McLaughlin found the net in the 44th minute. Souza finished the scoring in the 57th minute to complete his brace and secure the win.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

25 September 1962 - Ipswich Delivers A Good Old-Fashioned Beat-Down

On 25 September 1962, Ipswich Town defeated Maltese champions Floriana 10-0 in the second leg of the European Cup's first round.

Ipswich qualified for the 1962-63 European Cup by winning the Division One title the previous season--their first season in the English top flight. Their rise to glory was orchestrated by manager Alf Ramsey, who had taken over in August 1955 when the club were in Division Three. He stayed with the club until April 1963, when he left to manage the English national team.

In Malta one week earlier for first leg, Ipswich had won 1-4, so the second leg appeared to be a mere formality. Ipswich dominated the Maltese side from the start, however, going ahead 1-0 with an 8th-minute goal from inside forward Douglas Moran. By halftime, the score was 6-0, with two goals from striker Edward Phillips (14', 34' (pen)) and a hat-trick from striker Raymond Crawford (28', 39', 44'). Moran added another in the 52nd minute, as did wing-half John Elsworthy (54'), while Crawford contributed a second-half brace (60', 80').

The 10-0 demolition sent them into the European Cup second round with the aggregate score of 14-1. There, they met eventual champions Milan, who eliminated them 4-2 on aggregate. Crawford scored in the second leg, a 2-1 Ipswich win, giving him a total of 8 goals. Although he played in only the first two rounds, that tally ranked him as the third-highest goalscorer for that year's competition.

The 10-0 win remains Ipswich's largest margin of victory in any competition. The club currently plays in the English second division.