UEFA Champions League

Mid-Day Ticker: Rio Ferdinand back in England squad, Wenger says English clubs need to 'wake up' and more

Carlos Tevez of Manchester City and Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United


Roy Hodgson has announced the 26-man England squad that will take on San Marino and Montenegro March 22 and 26.

After leaving Rio Ferdinand out of the team for Euro 2012, citing football reasons, Hodgson has invited the Manchester United defender back into the national team for the first time since June 2011 when England took on Switzerland.

Ferdinand is called into the team after injuries to Phil Jones and Phil Jagielka have left England thin in central defense.

Another addition was West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster, who announced he was coming out of international retirement a few days ago and will compete for the backup job behind Manchester City’s Joe Hart.

Here are some other soccer stories from around the globe to keep your day going:


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says English clubs are no longer at the top of European competition in response to the respective teams’ performances, including his own.

“It’s a massive disappointment for English football,” Wenger said. “For a number of years we’ve not had that. I think it’s a massive wake-up call for us. It means the rest of Europe has caught up on us. We have to take that into consideration when we think about the future of the Premier League.”

This will be the first time since 1995-96 English clubs will play no further part in the top European competition following the round of 16.


Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova will stay on with the club next season, according to sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.

Vilanova replaced Pep Guardiola last summer after the legendary coach decided to step away from the game for a year.  However, Guardiola’s replacement has missed the majority of Barcelona matches this year undergoing treatment for throat cancer following surgery in December.

There is no doubt, according to Fox Soccer, Vilanova will return to Barcelona, as Zubizarreta told a Catalan radio station “Yes, absolutely,” when asked if the coach would return.


Former Liverpool midfielder Nuri Sahin criticized manager Brendan Rodgers for playing the Turkish international out of position during his time with the club.

“”I did not fail at Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers wanted me to play as a number 10. But I do not play behind the strikers,” Sahin told AS.  “I talked to him and asked him why he was playing me there. It is not my real position. The coach could not answer me.  Still, no regrets. To play at Anfield was a wonderful experience. And maybe if I had not gone there I would not have been able to return to Borussia Dortmund. For that, I am happy. Thank God I have left Brendan Rodgers.”

Sahin joined Liverpool toward the end of the summer transfer window on loan from Real Madrid, but failed to last a full season at the club, appearing in only 12 matches before being sent to Borussia Dortmund.

  • pgloerse

    I can not stand it when professionals complain about being played out of position. It’s a team game and the manager is well aware. Also Nuri has all the talent but hasn’t exactly arrived just yet – let your play talk.


    • Kosh

      …but what about fans who caomplain about managers who play professionals out of position?


    • Mike V.

      It is a team game but it’s often hard to help your team when you are playing an unfamiliar role. It can throw you and your team out of whack. The best teams have players playing in positions that utilize their strengths and mask their deficiencies. I not defending Nachin or Rodgers just poiting out that it’s not as easy one thinks to just play another position. Some of the top players in the world have failed doing so.


      • GW

        “Some of the top players in the world have failed doing so”?


        I have not seen him play but Sahin sounds like he is making excuses for himself. It does not seem likely that being asked to play an “unfamiliar position “ was the only reason he failed at Liverpool.

        Obviously this is about him not trusting Rogers, for whatever reason.

        A pro at that level should be skilled enough to be able to play any outfield position without embarrassing themselves.
        The man is listed as a midfielder. By definition midfielders should be the most versatile outfield players. He is 5’10 so he is reasonably sized.

        “Left-footed, armed with good technique and vision, Şahin is both powerful long-passer with excelling accuracy and mid-ranged shooter. He is considered a prominent current Turkey player, and also compared with Cesc Fàbregas.”

        He is complaining about having to play in the hole behind the strikers. The Wiki description of him sounds a lot like Fabregas and Cesc looked pretty good in the hole.It’s not like they played Sahin at goal keeper. If he did not do well there it’s because he did not want to play there.

        If an EPL manager is going put someone in an unfamiliar position like that is would be because he thinks the guy can do it better than whatever other options are available. There is no other reason to do it.
        And it obviously takes a little time to figure it out.

        Bale started out as a left back. Henry started out as a winger. I don’t know if they resisted being moved. If Sahin doesn’t want to do it well, no one can force him. But it hardly unreasonable for Rogers to ask him to give it a shot.


    • Eurosnob

      I can understand where you are coming from and I agree that soccer is a team game, but individual players have to think about their professional career. I suspect that most players wouldn’t complain if they have to fill in for an injured teamate for several games to help the team, even if it means they have to play out of position. However, if a manager consistently plays them out of position they are less likely to be successful. For some it is not a big deal, and they can play several positions without much drop off in their performance. You can put plug Busquets as a central defensive midfielder or center back or Alves as a right back, right mid, or right forward without them missing a beat. One the other hand, we have examples such as former England’s manager playing a good player like Scholes out wide as a left mid, where he was doomed to fail due to the lack of pace. I am not taking sides in Sahin/Rodgers dispute, but I can certainly understand why players complain about not playing in their natural position.


  • Old School

    I think it’s adorable Wenger is including Arsenal in the discussion of clubs that need to “wake up”.

    Chelsea won last year. United won 5 years ago and has been in the final twice since then. Arsenal? They’ll be fortunate to even make the CL next year.

    The way I see it, the only party that needs to “wake up” is Wenger himself.


    • Travis

      Arsenal have been one of the most consistent reps for the EPL in the CL, 16 years in a row into the last 16. I believe only one other team in the world can claim a similar run, Real Madrid, no need to bash them over CL. The EPL as a whole needs to show better next year, City’s failures were especially bad to watch, even if it was a tough group 3 points from 6 games is laughable.


      • Old School

        I’m aware of Wenger’s resume. Unfortunately, CL appearances don’t exactly fill up the trophy cabinet.

        Speaking of which, when’s the last time Arsenal wont the CL? When’s the last time they made an appearance? Frankly, speaking of his resume, when’s the last time they won a single trophy?

        Like I said, I find his association adorable.


    • Jordan

      Chelsea won by playing 11 men behind the ball, & they were much inferior to the two teams they faced – Barcelona & Bayern Munich – to win the final. The EPL is overrated & unwatchable imo, & has been for a while.


      • GW

        Lots of teams try to do what Chelsea did. Not all of them win the Champion’s League.

        Do you think Barca and Bayern have never faced 11 men behind the ball before?

        Chelsea deserve credit for figuring out what they had and making it work. When you have a knockout tournament the “best team”, which really means the team you want to watch the most, does not always win.

        But ten years from now no one will remember how Chelsea won, only that they won.


      • Jordan

        Not buying it. Why would an attacking team like Chelsea need to park the bus all the way to final (even against Benfica) w/ the big spending talents that they have?

        Simple. Because most leagues in Europe are technically superior than the EPL. The EPL relies to much on its long balls, bad tackling, & blind crosses into the penalty area.

        Chelsea seemed to have no problem putting up 4+ goals against EPL squads, but then had to hide in their shell when they faced non – EPL squads.

        Chelsea played Bayern Munich & Barca like a League 2 team against an EPL squad in a FA cup game.


      • GW

        Very true but can you name me the League 2 team that beat Bayern and Barca?

        I don’t know of any. If using that style alone was enough to beat Barca and Bayern everyone would have been doing it.

        But as far as I know only Chelsea and some others have done it. I think Inter under Mourinho also did the same thing a few years back . I believe he cited Switzerland and the US as giving him some inspiration in this regard.

        I have some Greek friends and if you think for one minute they are embarrassed about using that same style to win Euro 2004, well, they are not.


  • Travis

    Anyone watching Spurs really labor without Bale in the lineup? Seems they have become a one man team


  • MB

    I think it’s pretty clear by now the EPL has lost its claim of “best league in the world”. You can’t deny the talent level of the top teams in the league, but the competition they face week in and week out does not prepare them well enough for the Champions League. It really is surprising how poor the bottom and even mid-table teams in the EPL are this year.


    • GW

      What you are really talking about is dominance in the Champion’s league. And that has always been cyclical. The Premier League has way too much funding and ambitious ownership to stay “down ” in the Champion’s league for long .

      As for the other stuff such as attendance, TV money, entertainment value, etc. etc. that is something else. Lower and mid table EPL teams have almost always been poor and unwatchable as far as I’m concerned. But that is also true for just about every other league in Europe as well.

      For example, I doubt anyone on SBI would give a damm about Hoffenheim if they did not have Fabian,Danny Williams and Gyau on their books.


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