This is the Life of a Manager

By Jordan Brown

The chant rang around Tehrir Square over the weekend—the chant of the revolution, the chant that brought down deposed Mubarak, ‘The people want to bring down the regime!” They shouted it this time for a new leader, the democratically elected Mohammend Morsi—a man who is suddenly discovering the confines of power, the limits of his reach.

Somewhere in London a dour Frenchman was ending his day, and if he were to have seen the scenes in Cairo, heard the chant of the young revolutionaries, it would probably sound to him much like, “You don’t know what you’re doing.” A game as ubiquitous in global culture as football finds itself mirroring many other spheres of human society, none so often as politics, and no role in football is so neatly politicized as Manager.

Football is a republic built on popular momentum; it is the modern circus maximus played out in coliseums of steel and glass, and the mobs are still the masters. In every seat of the stands sits a revolutionary, a fan who holds their own individual ideal of their club’s perfection. They know the way their team should play, who they should sign, and exactly what great heights of achievement each season should hold. Their minds are filled with gleaming trophy cabinets and memorable performances, and to all of them the one standing in the way of the dream made life is the flesh and blood man in the puffy jacket pacing the byline in front of them. Everyone is the best fit for the job except for the one who currently holds the title.

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Zlatospheric - AFR Voice Episode 6

With what critics have been describing as the audio equivalent of a 30-yard bicycle Kung-Fu kick, we present your fortnightly of AFR Voice. This time around we’ll be kicking things off with all things Zlatan – the goal, the aftermath, and the big question – just what is he giving his wife for Christmas? We’ll also be picking apart Snoop Dogg’s new found Old Firm connection, and discussing how much magic, if any, will flow out of the FA Cup when MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon play each other for the first time in the competition’s second round.

Then it’s off around the Premier League where we’ll be trying to remember the last time that Chelsea won a league game in November, getting the Mark Hughes sacking sweepstakes up and running, as well as taking an in-depth look at the questionable eating habits of Andrei Arshavin; before embarking on a breakfast-based adventure with Reading defender Sean Morrison (#CerealQuest).

If that wasn’t enough for you then let us brew up some coffee, send some emails and get the photocopier fired up, as it’s now very much business time in the MLS – this means we’ll be looking at the Eastern and Western Conference play-off finals and getting jacked up for the MLS Cup as LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo fight it out for the second year running. Then it’s back over to mainland Europe where Juventus have continued their good run in Serie A, Rafa Benitez has been breaking hearts, we adopt a new team from the East of Berlin, and we swing by France where PSG have stuttered again and a rather interesting/violent piece of art has just been unveiled. Magnifique.

As always, if you’d like to get in touch then do tweet us @AFRVoice or drop us an email at You can also subscribe to the pod on iTunes and find us on Soundcloud.

Who can lead Chelsea to success and re-establish an identity for the club?

It’s a question that has no easy answer. The intangibles and the ever-rising feeling of ambiguity plague the fans. But the thing that makes Andre Villas Boas’ sacking most sobering is the fact that Chelsea still look completely lost. They are lost not only in the sense that they cannot find a rhythm on the pitch. The club’s identity hangs in limbo, as the winning mentality that has been so prominent in recent years is fleeting rapidly. And a workaholic, a man obsessed with making Chelsea a power once again was merely tossed aside on to the street, albeit with nine million pounds in compensation, which is not too bad if you ask me. Now those partaking in football betting have the difficult task on their hands of determining what exactly happens next. Media outlets are picking names out of a hat and screaming them at the top of their lungs. It’s chaos, but whoever ends up as Chelsea’s permanent choice better be able to manage egos and an ever-aging squad.

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The last knight from Rafa’s Empire

By Dominic Vieira, writing from Lancaster, England

It wasn’t long ago when the Spanish language could easily be detected circulating the Anfield changing room, that voice would’ve belonged to Rafa Benitez or to the several Spaniards and Argentinian. Those men became the pillars of Rafa’s empire alongside the leadership of locals Gerrard and Carragher. It’s normal for a foreign manager to introduce player’s from his home country to the club as he will recognize their capabilities and potential, how many French men has Arsene Wenger signed? During a 6 year reign, Rafa Benitez created 3 unique teams in which the first won the Champions League, the second were runners-up and the third won absolutely nothing. However, they all included influential Spanish speaking players.

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What’s going on in Italy?

By Mirko Corli, writing from Torino

If you are into Italian football you may be slightly confused nowadays. Why? Well, because everything looks so different from, let’s say, six/seven months ago.

Just go back and think about the end of May 2010: Inter on top of the Serie A and ended the season as European Champions; Juventus struggling after a dramatic season with Ferrara (first) and Zaccheroni (second) on the bench, not able to qualify for the Champions League; AC Milan barely getting a spot for the main European league; AS Roma losing the scudetto at the last fixture of the season.

Now look at what is happening now: AC Milan at the top of the table, ten points clear ahead of Inter; Lazio (who??) in second place, just three points below; Juventus and Napoli (who??) in third and fourth place, Inter, Roma, Sampdoria and Palermo following. It is a totally different league.

Being now four games from the turning point of the championship, we can point out three things.

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(Source: philosofooty)

The Transfer Rumour Factory: Our orgy of transfer rumour bliss

By Darshan Joshi, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Santa is a fat man. Ridiculous, really, that fact - you’d imagine that a man kids looked up to might be a tad healthier. You’d imagine Santa being the sort of man who may fall through your chimney, roll to the dining table and tell the kids to eat their greens and to lay off the ice-cream, but he can’t because children recognise a hypocrite these days. In any case, obesity acts as a doorway to a whole host of health issues that ultimately lead to death. What we’re getting at is that Santa Claus is very, very sick. He may just die when the transfer rumour factory starts it’s Christmas celebrations… poisoned cookies with rotten milk anyone? We are in no rush to find a way to kill Santa Claus off like an actor who has had enough of a once-great television show (Ashton Kutcher…), and so we probably have enough time for our readers to chuck some suggestions in and maybe, just maybe, you might hoard the honour of narrating the demise of Father Christmas.

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Is Rafa Benitez becoming the Riddler? Examining his success and legacy.

By Neal Hepworth, writing from Middlesbrough

I’m waiting for the moment after the next Champions League game, the moment when the press turn up to an Inter Milan press conference to be greeted by a large white sign. The sign is placed delicately in the chair where manager Rafa Benitez is supposed to be answering questions from…

The sign says:

There are three men in a boat with four cigarettes and no matches. How do they manage to smoke?

As the journalists look around in a state of bemusement a flash bang goes off, and as the gathered media struggle to see through the light and smoke a slightly rotund man clad in green and purple stands on the table cackling: ‘They threw one cigarette overboard and made it a cigarette lighter!’. He throws what looks like Christian Purslow dressed as Batman over his shoulder and jumps head first out of the nearest window. Only as they groggily bring themselves to their feet does it dawn on them that the masked villain is the very man they’ve been waiting to interview.

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Champions League Tuesday is back!

By Dominic Vieira, writing from Portugal

The wait is finally over! Tonight at the usual 19:45PM (GMT) TV’s will be buzzing with Champions League football once again! The favourites to lift the trophy at Wembley on May the 28th are generally the same as always with Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Manchester United and Real Madrid being classified as the front runners. However, this competition is notorious for surprises and it’s guaranteed there will be several along the path to the final. Who would you put your money on?

Group A

Inter Milan’s title defence commences with a trip to The Netherlands to take on Eredivisie champions FC Twente who are will make their Champions League debut. Michel Preud’homme’s side started the season in top form conceding one goal and recording zero defeats. Rafa Benitez will be without the instrumental Dejan Stankovic and Thiago Motta but there are other options available. Starting the tournament in winning form is crucial and Inter Milan are up against a strong side.

The other fixture in the group is between Werder Bremen and Tottenham, two teams which qualified through the play-off. Tottenham’s first appearance in the lucrative tournament will be a colossal challenge Germany and there last European away game concluded with a 3-2 defeat. Fortunately their opponents are without their two strarting centre-backs Per Mertesacker and Naldo who are ruled out with injuries. Will it make things easier for Harry Redknapp?

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Rafael Benítez Set to Replace ‘The Special One’ at Inter

By Jordan Beard

Internazionale president Massimo Moratti has confirmed that the signing of Liverpool’s Rafael Benítez is set to be completed within hours as the Spaniard will be officially presented at the San Siro tomorrow. His proposed three-year contract, which he is set to sign upon his arrival in Milan, is believed to be worth around €15 million according to Milan’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.

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