Monday Soccer Insider with Kartik Krishnaiyer

Jose Mourinho is figuring it out, showing his tactical flexibility and his willingness to admit mistakes with his squad selection. Chelsea’s side now looks more pragmatic yet able to play on the break. With a remarkable amount of depth and versatility, Mourinho has the luxury of rotating his side and allowing players to pop up in different areas of the pitch. It is already working well and Chelsea look like a real title contender.

Newcastle United is the Premier League’s least predictable side. Performances vary from game to game, and what we have repeatedly seen is that when the chips are down, Alan Pardew’s side always seems to rally. It is also worth noting when Yohan Cabaye is fit and in the mood; Newcastle’s record over the past three seasons resembles more a European contender than a relegation fighter. He is the key.

West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce’s false nine, using quick ball movement, caught Spurs by surprise. Ravel Morrison was particularly effective in the 4-6-0 formation that saw the Hammers control the tempo of the match long before they broke through and scored. Tottenham‘s failure to cope at White Hart Lane with this tactical surprise was particularly shocking given how astute André Villas-Boas normally is.

Adnan Januzaj is the newest sensation to come through Manchester United. Obviously the historical track record of United is excellent in developing youth products. However since the quick rise and quick fall of Federico Macheda, foreign-born Manchester United youth products are viewed differently. The key for Januzaj will be to use his opportunities wisely, develop a strong fitness routine and show the type of consistency Macheda lacked.

Liverpool’s play going forward has been mouthwatering since the return of Luis Suarez. Daniel Sturridge continues to be outstanding and the addition of Victor Moses on loan from a very generous Chelsea has further enhanced the Reds attack.

AS Roma is quite possibly the best team in a top European league right now. Yet they are not in Europe and sold off a few key players this summer. Rudi Garcia is a good manager – we knew that from his league/cup double at Lille a few years back. This season he was reunited with Gervinho who hasn’t played well since leaving Garcia and Lille, and the former Arsenal man has been outstanding.  The French manager has gotten performances out of just about everyone in the squad to this point and Francesco Totti has been absolutely outstanding, even at 37.

Burnley and QPR occupy the top two spots in the Championship table. The Clarets lost Charlie Austin to the Rs (the second consecutive year they lost their top striker) yet continue to excel. Sam Vokes has already doubled his goal scoring total from last season. As for QPR, Austin is winning game after game for them with second half goals. It is a long haul in the Championship but already QPR is looking much stronger than Wigan and Reading among the newly relegated teams. Quite honestly, I expected the opposite, thinking QPR’s largely Premier League oriented squad would struggle in the Championship but the addition of Austin, an experienced hand in this division, has really helped.

My former employer, the North American Soccer League has a problem that I had hoped would not surface. New league rules split the season in half and allowed the New York Cosmos to compete in only the second half of the season. The Soccer Bowl held next month in Atlanta will feature the first half winner, Atlanta Silverbacks, versus the second half winner, which is looking more and more likely to be the Cosmos. New York opened a seven point lead with just four fixtures remaining after a 1-0 victory in Minnesota on Saturday. You could argue the Cosmos had less of a shot to make the Soccer Bowl than the other six teams with only one shot. But for others who follow the league, like myself, it seems very unfair that a team that only played half the season could be crowned champions.

The NASL has talked openly about challenging MLS, most recently in a BBC World Service feature that aired this week. One place where the leagues have commonalities is that the formats of both of the top divisions in the United States/Canada seem to be constantly changing. The MLS has tweaked its playoff qualification and scheduling format each of the past seven seasons, often times without rhyme or reason. NASL has shifted from a traditional playoff format to a split season, to allowing a team to not compete in the first half that may potentially win the season, to an absolutely absurd ten game Spring Season next year, followed by a more logical twenty game Fall Season. What is an issue is that both seasons are weighed equally in the NASL’s formula for determining who competes in the one-game winner-take-all Soccer Bowl.

Speaking of the NASL, an issue has arisen regarding its relationships with supporter groups. Here in southeast Florida, we experienced a walkout of a second-division derby match (between the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Tampa Bay Rowdies) in minute 15 over a serious issue related to the league and supporters groups that has made news. But I want to address another subject. During the course of the previous two weeks, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers supporters groups — one of which I am a current member of and another which I am former member of — had a major falling out and began tailgating in separate areas of the parking lot. I did not realize how antagonistic and how silly this was until actually attending the match Saturday night as people who have been friends for years were on opposite sides of the Lockhart Stadium parking lot. I went back and forth between the tailgate parties multiple times. It becomes more and more difficult to focus on the game at hand when politics enters supporters groups and it undermines enjoyment of pre-game and the match. I certainly hope we can work out something in Fort Lauderdale between the two groups in the near future. The games themselves are no fun if you have to worry about who you are offending at any given time in the tailgate or supporters section.

DC United are the US Open Cup champions again! So the tally now stands at 13 major trophies for DC United since 1996 and zero for their rivals the New York Red Bulls. That however could change as the Red Bulls under former player Mike Petke are finally meeting the club’s potential and are in good shape to potentially win the Supporter’s Shield as the club currently have the most points in the MLS regular season.

5 thoughts on “Monday Soccer Insider with Kartik Krishnaiyer”

  1. We invite everyone to tailgate with us and stand with us in the stands. All are welcome who support the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. While we certainly don’t care if a few folks don’t like the way we handle our group’s business and how we support the Strikers, our intent is absolutely NOT to exclude anyone. We’ve invited and welcomed EVERYONE who supports the Strikers to our new tailgate area. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive to the move and everyone had a great time Saturday.

    If anyone doesn’t want to join us, it’s their loss.

    Who cares about petty stubbornness anyway, more importantly WE BEAT THE ROWDIES!


  2. A few responses:

    1. No quarrel with your assessment of Mourinho at Chelsea, but Mourinho himself talks more about Barcelona than his own side. At least that is what is being published. Maybe he’s setting up stakes for future engagements, but Jose is trying to be himself too much and he doesn’t have the lasting charisma of Elvis.

    2. The Cosmos killed the first NASL. They will bully the present one into submission and then sell the brand for a huge profit.

    3. Nasty behavior among supporter groups for the same team are legend. But, it seems the Ft. Lauderdale squabble is a bit childish in such an intimate situation.

  3. As usual Kartik hits the spot with his EPL analysis BUT

    You don’t get to be noble after fanning the flames of this for a year and a half even when you were still an NASL employee.

    I like you and considered you a friend but now you’ve chosen a path with Flight 19 encouraging the Reese brothers to cause problems and dissent, standing behind Derek and Zach every time they say something incendiary, going to Flight 19 events all the time and not renewing your Ultras membership. I know consistently say what a great job Pieter did with the group but yet you back Zach and Derek against him all the time.

    You provided an unwarranted credibility and an echo chamber for Zach, Derek and other F19 members to do this breakaway. I am sorry you felt uncomfortable the other night but for some us this whole thing has been so uncomfortable we don’t go to all the games anymore.

    We were one group, and did well. You encouraged your buddies to break off and now say you wish it hadn’t happened? Of course it’s great you want to make peace now, but literally this is like bombing a country and then turning around and saying “I want peace.” The guys in F19 are out of control, determined to create an exclusive club of zealots who are told what to think, how to express themselves and who to support.

    This doesn’t fit who you are Kartik and it does make sense you’d be angry now, but why did you let them push to this point? Where were you and all the wise men while this happened? Telling Zach how great he was, and how we should wipe out the other group? Yeah I am sure that is where you were. If you want to lead now and bring us back together now is your chance. Talk your friends in F19 and bring them along and stop this nonsense.

    – Miami Ultra

    1. The guys in F19 are out of control, determined to create an exclusive club of zealots who are told what to think, how to express themselves and who to support.

      What? Nobody in F19 tells me what I must think.

      Yes I always felt we should have a Fort Lauderdale oriented Strikers supporters group. I always supported that and that is the idea behind F19. I just want the personal nastiness to stop so we can support a team we love…it is not like we have tons of supporters and can risk running off any.

      I do appreciate your point of view though. It’s your opinion of how things have transpired and while I dispute some of it, you are entitled to your view.

  4. thanks for your paragraph on the Championship League.hope the side in fourth will get in one of the top two positions so you can write about them.

    not sure how well Jose got it right vs Norwich.i know it is easy to say since his two subs both scored but Norwich played a huge part in those goals.defender misplays the ball and it falls to Hazard.the other goal was a nice shot but Norwich had already lost the plot.

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