EPL

Arsenal appoint Arteta: Pep's former pupils give Gunners reasons to be optimistic

By Sports Desk December 20, 2019

Mikel Arteta is the latest man to be charged with restoring success to a failing Arsenal, and Gunners fans will hope his previous working relationship with Pep Guardiola gives the Basque coach a head start.

Arsenal ditched another Basque tactician in Unai Emery last month and the process to appoint a replacement has been anything but swift.

Freddie Ljungberg took charge in an interim capacity but managed just a single win in five matches, highlighting the sorry state of the situation inherited by Arteta, whose appointment as head coach was confirmed on Friday.

It is former Arsenal captain Arteta's first job in management, having spent the three years since he retired from playing working as an assistant to Guardiola at Manchester City.

Guardiola has credited Arteta with improving him as a manager and believes the San Sebastian native is "absolutely ready" to strike out on his own after a "magnificent" time together at City.

Given his success in management, Guardiola has unsurprisingly been mentioned as a major inspiration for many coaches.

Here, we examine four others to have worked closely with Guardiola and enjoyed success.

Tito Vilanova

Guardiola and Vilanova came through Barcelona's youth academy together as youngsters, though the latter went on to spend much of his playing career in the lower divisions. They reunited as coaches in 2007, with Vilanova assuming the role of assistant with the Barcelona B side, before taking up a similar position when Guardiola was promoted to the senior team the following year.

They worked together until Guardiola departed in 2012, with Vilanova subsequently appointed his successor. He led Barca to LaLiga success despite requiring a leave of absence for cancer treatment, but he officially stepped down in July 2013 due to a relapse. Vilanova died in April 2014 due to complications from cancer.

Luis Enrique

Although Luis Enrique never worked specifically in tandem with Guardiola, he did succeed his friend and former team-mate when taking charge of Barca B in 2008. That meant Luis Enrique's team fed directly into Guardiola's senior side for three seasons.

"You could see from the start he was special," the City boss once said of the former attacking midfielder, who like Guardiola also won a treble in his debut season in charge of the Barcelona first team after spells at Roma and Celta Vigo. Luis Enrique has since gone on to become Spain coach.

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag had already coached a senior team when he was put in charge of Bayern Munich's second string in June 2013, having led Go Ahead Eagles to a sixth-placed finish in the Eerste Divisie. Despite managing separate teams at the club, Ten Hag and first-team boss Guardiola worked closely. Guardiola said last season: "I was lucky to meet him at Bayern and he was an assistant from the second team. We had a lot of chats."

Ten Hag left Bayern the year before Guardiola and led Utrecht to fifth and fourth in the Eredivisie, earning him a shot at the big time with Ajax. Since his December 2017 appointment, the Dutchman has won a league title and taken Ajax to the Champions League semis last term. A return to Bayern – but this time with the senior side – appears likely.

Domenec Torrent

It is unlikely there is anyone in world football more familiar with Guardiola's work than Torrent. After first teaming up with Barcelona B, the pair worked side by side for 11 years until 2018. "When we started in La Tercera [fourth tier in Spain], I never thought I would be with him so much, but then we won every possible title," Torrent told El Diario earlier this year when he was in charge of New York City FC.

He presided over the MLS side as they won the Eastern Conference this year, before stepping down in November. Although keen to continue his management career, don't rule out a return to Guardiola's side. "If Pep calls me, I will go [to him]," Torrent said in May. "I am grateful and I know that I owe it all to him. If I had not been his assistant, I would not be here. I like being a head coach and I will only stop being one if Pep thinks I can be useful [to him]."

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  • Cathy Freeman's 400m Olympic gold 20 years on: The story behind the Sydney Swift Suit Cathy Freeman's 400m Olympic gold 20 years on: The story behind the Sydney Swift Suit

    Cathy Freeman bent down to tie her lace and the flash of silver that appeared in Rick MacDonald's binoculars confirmed the rumours: Australia's great hope was wearing the suit for the race that would define the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

    MacDonald relayed the message to those who had worked on the near three-year long Nike Swift Suit project and were next to him among the 112,000 spectators at the Olympic Stadium. Then he sounded a note of caution. "What if she doesn't win?"

    "I hadn't even thought about that," suit designer Edward Harber told Stats Perform News 20 years on.

    "She's in this crazy suit; what if she doesn't win?"

    They need not have worried. Freeman, the face of those Games and an athlete of Aboriginal descent who became Australia's symbol of unity, stormed to 400 metres gold to delight the Sydney crowd on September 25, 2000.

    "It was just this moment in the stadium of this absolute wall of sound," Harber recalled. 

    "During the race, you almost felt like she couldn't not win because of the sound."

    Just like Michael Johnson and his gold shoes in Atlanta, and Mo Farah's 'Mobot' on London 2012's Super Saturday, Freeman's victory provided one of the most iconic moments in Olympic history, and not just because it was a home gold.

    The image of Freeman, donned in a unique green, silver and yellow all-in-one suit complete with hood, remains vivid two decades on.

    ---

    Harber was designing clothing for the United States and British military in the late 1990s when he was hired by Nike to find a way of improving an athlete's performance in order for them to run at maximum velocity.

    He and MacDonald identified aerodynamics and the reduction of drag as the key element so they, along with Len Brownlie and Chester Kyle - two experts in the field - set about designing a suit that was composed of different fabrics for different parts of the body.

    "The reason every part of her body was covered up was to reduce drag," Harber explained.

    "The hood was key. You would never see a speed skater skating without a hood. If you've got hair, you're slowing yourself down. You see runners with big hair and you're like, 'What are you doing?'

    "You would never see a cyclist do that or a skater but it was a challenge for athletics, for running, because running has a look, it has a history, a heritage.

    "What we were doing with that suit was challenging that heritage with science and saying, 'This is about winning, speed. This is what these athletes do in these sports. We're going to apply some of that thinking and engineering to running'."

    Fabrics were tested on hand-sized, torso-sized, arm-sized and leg-sized cylinders in wind tunnels to determine which was most effective. Then, once Nike had sealed a deal to kit out the Australian team at the Olympics, came the possibility of Freeman wearing the suit.

    "With Cathy, it was really about getting her comfortable with the suit, getting her to be at a point where she felt it was something she could consider," Harber added. "There was never a pressure for her to wear it, it was always going to be up to her."

    ---

    It was not just the speed skaters at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics who provided Harber and his team with inspiration for their suit. Freeman's attire in that 400m final looks like something that might have been lifted from a Marvel comic.

    And the reasoning for that was twofold.

    "The superhero thing was obviously on my mind," Harber confirmed.

    "During the project we would talk about the double advantage. We would say there's an advantage in having the science but there's also an advantage in the athlete understanding the science and having the psychological power of knowing that they're in this thing that no one else has got.

    "The commentator on TV said that it looks like she was shrouding herself in this hood because the pressure was famously incredible, massive. I felt like when she put that hood up, she was definitely in somewhat of a bubble."

    Freeman, who reported being able to hear air whistle past her ear during testing, wore the suit in the build-up to Sydney - on a rainy day in Gateshead - but did not have it on for either the heats or the semi-finals of the 400m at the Olympics.

    But that famous night in September 2000, the suit went on, the hood went up and Freeman ran into the history books.

    ---

    Given Freeman's glory and sport's obsession with marginal gains, it is somewhat surprising that her outfit did not spark a movement that saw the Swift Suit become widely adopted by athletes.

    Freeman was the only athlete in Sydney to race in the suit with the hood up - meaning it was impossible to put an actual figure on its impact in terms of time saved - and she remains the only person to wear one at a Games.

    The science behind the suit has been used in outfits for speed skaters, cyclists and swimmers since, while sprinters have also benefitted from the technology with things such as arm sleeves that feature vortex generators.

    But the full suit with a hood? Athletes do not seem interested.

    "The power of culture is so massive," argued Harber, who suggested arm sleeves were more popular due to their usage among NBA players.

    "I think that's the main reason it hasn't been adopted is it's just not the look that athletics has. It's not something that people wear. 

    "I know that the benefit is real. I know it's something that is quantifiable. I believe it's something that is never going to go away and I think inevitably it's going to be around forever and I think athletes will always be thinking about it.

    "Maybe we were just ahead of our time."

    And the reason athletes will always be thinking about it is surely due to Cathy Freeman and are her indelible evening in Sydney on September 25, 2000.

  • FIFA’s bad boys – T&T joins long list of countries falling afoul of football federation laws FIFA’s bad boys – T&T joins long list of countries falling afoul of football federation laws

    The standoff between FIFA and Trinidad and Tobago ended with the Caribbean country joining a long list of others suspended after various disputes with the parent association.

    Oftentimes, the reasons nations find themselves blacklisted by the sport’s global governing body are many and varied by the outcome is often the same.

    The twin-island republic becomes the second Caribbean nation suspended by FIFA, following in the footsteps of Antigua and Barbuda who were banned in 2003 for one year after infighting broke out within the association.

    In each case, the length of suspension dished out to the associations varies widely, with the ball often in the member association court as to how long it takes to rectify the affair that has caused them to fall afoul of FIFA’s statues in the first place.  The list below features 24 countries that have been suspended in the last 17 years and some of the reasons provided.

     

     

    List of country’s suspended

     

    Country - Azerbaijan

    Date - 15 April 2003 - 23 May 2003

    Reason - External pressure, violations of

    fundamental principles

    Outcome - Parties agreed to respect a FIFA

    moderated agreement

     

    Country - Antigua and

    Barbuda

    Date - 20 May 2003 - 29 June 2005

    Reason - Non-specified

    Outcome- Suspension lifted after situation

    had improved

     

    Country - Guatemala

    Date - 9 Jan. 2004 - 17 May 2004

    Reason - Governmental interference: FA and

    elected FA officials replaced

    Outcome - Re-installment of elected FA

    leadership, recognition of FAs’

    competencies

     

    Country - Kenya

    Date - 2 June 2004 - 6 Aug. 2004

    Reason - Governmental interference: FA

    officials replaced due to

    mismanagement and fraud

    Outcome - Installment of a normalization

    committee to improve

    transparency and accountability

     

     

    Country – Macau

    Date - 15 Feb. 2005 - 6 March 2005

    Reason - Governmental interference:

    Non-specified

    Outcome - Suspension lifted after

    negotiations

     

    Country -Yemen

    Date -12 Aug. 2005 - 9 Nov. 2005

    Reason - Governmental interference:

    Non-specified

    Outcome - Suspension lifted after concessions

    by the government

     

    Country - Greece

    Date - 3 July 2006 - 12 July 2006

    Reason - Governmental interference: National

    legislation granting professional

    league independence from FA

    was not revoked

    Outcome - Legislation amended according to

    FIFA’s demands

     

    Country - Kenya

    Date - 25 Oct. 2006 - 9 March 2007

    Reason - Governmental interference:

    Non-implementation of

    agreements, escalation of

    internal conflicts

    Outcome - Government agrees to abstain

    from further intervention, legal

    proceedings are withdrawn,

    reinstallation of elected officials

     

    Country – Iran

    Date- 23 Nov. 2006 - 20 Dec. 2006

    Reason - Governmental interference:

    Non-independence of

    decision-making and election

    processes

    Outcome - Implementation of FIFA’s

    demands

     

    Country - Kuwait

    Date - 29 Oct. 2007 - 20 Dec. 2008

    Reason - Governmental interference: FA

    officials replaced

    Outcome - Suspension provisionally lifted

    after new elections are

    announced, reinstallation of

    FIFA’s transition committee,

    amendment of FA’s statutes

     

    Country - Albania

    Date -14 March 2008 - 26 April 2008

    Reason - Governmental interference:

    Government initiated legal

    proceedings against new FA

    statutes

    Outcome - Legal proceedings stopped,

    creation of a working-group

     

    Country - Madagascar

    Date - 19 March 2008 - 19 May 2008 Governmental interference:

    Ministerial decree dissolved FA

    Outcome - Madagascan Supreme Court

    declared decree null and void,

    re-installment of FA

     

    Country - Chad

    Date - 28 March 2008 - 7 May 2008

    Reason - Governmental interference:

    Government replaced FA

    officials and intended to hold

    new elections

    Outcome - Decree revoked, reinstallation of

    elected FA officials

     

    Country - Iraq

    Date - 26 May 2008 - 29 May 2008

    Reason - Governmental interference:

    Governmental decree dissolved

    all sport organizations

    Outcome - Exclusion of FA from dissolution

    decree

     

    Country – Ethiopia

    Date - 29 July 2008 – July 22 2009

    Reason - Governmental interference:

    Dismissal of elected officials,

    non-compliance with FIFA

    roadmap

    Outcome - New leaders elected for the country's soccer federation.

     

    Country – Samoa

    Date - 24 Oct. 2008 - 20 Dec. 2008

    Reason -Repeated management problems

    Outcome - Resolved

     

    Country - Peru

    Date - 25 Nov. 2008 - 20 Dec. 2008

    Reason -Governmental interference:

    Non-specified

    Outcome- Resolved

     

    Country - Brunei Darussalam

    Date -29 Sept. 2009 - 1 June 2011 Governmental interference:

    Dissolution of FA and creation

    of new government-controlled

    body

    Outcome - FIFA’s conditions fulfilled and

    statues amended according to

    FIFA Statutes

     

    Country - Iraq

    Date - 20 Nov. 2009 - 19 March 2010

    Reason - Governmental interference: Government

    controlled NOC dissolved FA

    Outcome - Dissolution of FA withdrawn

     

    Country - El Salvador

    Date - 11 May 2010 - 27 May 2010

    Reason - Governmental interference: Government

    did not accept FIFA’s normalization

    committee and new FA statutes

    Outcome - Legitimacy of normalization

    committee and new statutes

    recognized

     

    Country – Nigeria

    Date - 4 Oct. 2010 - 8 Oct. 2010

    Reason - Governmental interference: Court actions

    against FA officials, government

    forced resignation of officials,

    government started league without

    relegation from previous season

    Outcome - Suspension provisionally lifted

    after claimant withdrew legal

    actions and FA leadership and

    FA control over league were

    reinstalled

     

    Country – Bosnia

    Date -1 April 2011 1 - Jun 2011

     Reason - Mismanagement due to ethnic

    divisions

    Outcome - FA statutes amended according to

    FIFA’s demands

     

    Country - Belize

    17 June 2011 7- July 2011

    Reason - Failure of government to provide

    security for national team matches

    Outcome - Suspension provisionally lifted

    due to positive developments,

    match played outside Belize

     

    Country – Cameroon

    Date - 4 July 2013 - 22 July 2013

    Reason - Governmental interference: Government refused to accept results of FA

    elections

    Outcome - New elections organized, finally

    reinstallation of elected FA officials

     

    Country – Nigeria  

    Jul 9, 2014 - Jul 18, 2014

    Reason – Government interference:

    Court proceedings and an order preventing the president of the NFF, the NFF executive committee members, and the NFF Congress from running the affairs of Nigerian football

    Outcome – Orders rescinded

     

    Country – Kuwait

    Date - Oct 16, 2015 - Dec 6, 2017

    Reason – Government interference

    Outcome – Gulf state's parliament adopted a law meant to end government interference in the sport.

     

    Country - Guatemala

    Date – Oct 28, 2016 - May 31, 2018

    Reason – Government interference: Local authorities had intervened with Normalisation Committee

    Outcome – Normalisation Committee recognized

     

    Country - Sierra Leone

    Date - Oct 5, 2018 - Jun 3, 2019

    Reason - Government interference.

    Third-party interference in the running of the country's FA.

    Outcome – Resolved

     

    Country – Trinidad and Tobago

    Date – September 24, 2020 – Unknown

    Reason – Refusal to acknowledge normalization committee by the previous board.  Issue was taken to High Court.

    Outcome - Unknown

     

  • Barca want revenge after Champions League humiliation – Pjanic Barca want revenge after Champions League humiliation – Pjanic

    Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic said the LaLiga giants want revenge this season following their Champions League embarrassment.

    An 8-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals capped a forgettable and trophy-less 2019-20 campaign for Barca.

    Barca were also dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga, prompting the embattled Catalan powerhouse to sack head coach Quique Setien and appoint Ronald Koeman.

    Superstar captain and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi also handed in a transfer request before opting to stay at Camp Nou.

    Now preparing for Sunday's season opener against Villarreal, recruit Pjanic told Sport: "This team wants to take revenge for what happened in Lisbon and show that it was a huge accident.

    "Our goal is to go step by step: starting with the league, which will not be easy. And in the Champions League, there will be five or six candidates to win the trophy.

    "Starting in March, a new season will begin within the season itself, with the knockout stages of the Champions League and the decisive stretch of the league championship; that's where we have to be at full throttle.

    "These players have already earned the respect of the football world and I don't think they have to prove anything to anyone. But in football there are accidents, and I don't think there is a Barca player who doesn't want to show that 8-2 was just that, an accident.

    "I do not have any doubt. I have spoken with some of them and they have not lost an ounce of self-confidence. Last year was not easy for anyone, but I am sure that this year we will have a good season, because we have good players.

    "Nothing is easy in today's game. We know that Barca is undergoing changes, perhaps the newcomers will need some time to adapt, but we will succeed."

    Pjanic swapped Serie A champions Juventus for Barca as Arthur moved in the opposite direction and the Bosnia-Herzegovina star added: "It is never a bad moment to come to Barca. Barca are a team designed to win everything. It may be that last year was not a good season and that it ended badly.

    "Things did not turn out as they had imagined, but think about all the teams that each year are built to win, and logically not all of them can win. It is not easy to win titles.

    "It was a strange season for everyone, with the coronavirus: we were unemployed for several months, then we had to start almost suddenly, with a strange calendar and no fans at the grounds."

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