Curses, wallies & the return of the Russian linesman
The Russian linesman is back...
Sixteen years after his death, the Azerbaijani linesman Tofik Bakhramov is the inspirational centrepiece for an exhibition by artist Mark Wallinger at LondonÃ¢ÂÂs Hayward Gallery.
The exhibition is called The Russian Linesman because, for years, few people in England knew or cared that a) a place called Azerbaijan existed and b) that Bakhramov, the linesman who gave EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs third goal in the 1966 final, came from there.
The blurb for WallingerÃ¢ÂÂs exhibition is absurdly pretentious and self-important but the show isnÃ¢ÂÂt.
Bakhramov is such a hero in Azerbaijan that the national stadium is named after him. Five years ago, before EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs game in Baku, a statue was unveiled in his honour but many Azerbaijanis feel their linesman still hasnÃ¢ÂÂt had due recognition.
England's heroes: Bakhramov (R) and fellow 1966 final officials
One fan, Aydyn Zarbaliev, even went so far as to suggest: Ã¢ÂÂMany people in London wonÃ¢ÂÂt agree with me but I think Bakhramov deserves a monument from the English no smaller than NelsonÃ¢ÂÂs column.Ã¢ÂÂ
Geoff Hurst once presented the linesmanÃ¢ÂÂs son with a shirt that read: Ã¢ÂÂThank you very muchÃ¢ÂÂ in Azeri. Computer analysis has suggested, but not conclusively proved, that the ball didnÃ¢ÂÂt cross the line leading many to wonder about the linesmanÃ¢ÂÂs motivation.
There is an apocryphal story that, when Bakhramov was lying on his deathbed, he was asked why heÃ¢ÂÂd given the goal. Legend has it that the former official mumbled one word: Ã¢ÂÂStalingrad.Ã¢ÂÂ
Masterminds and wallies...
Ã¢ÂÂSack the coachÃ¢ÂÂ was how Danish football journalist Morten Crone Sejersbal greeted the appointment of Magnus Persson as Aalborg coach.
The fact that Persson, a Swede, was replacing Danish caretaker Allan Kuhn was a blow to DenmarkÃ¢ÂÂs pride. But Persson masterminded the result of the week in the UEFA Cup, a 3-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna in his first European game as coach.
Funnily enough Sejersbal now admits: Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂve changed my mind. ItÃ¢ÂÂs good that Aab donÃ¢ÂÂt listen to the media.Ã¢ÂÂ
Elsewhere, the UEFA Cup brought some solace for two coaches under fire: Marco van Basten (Ajax won 1-0 in Fiorentina) and Mircea Lucescu (Shakhtar beat Spurs 2-0 despite some ludicrous finishing).
I still wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be surprised if Lucescu moved on at the end of the season, especially now that Valeriy Gazzaev is in the market for a new post.
Meanwhile, the rehabilitation of the wally with the brolly gathers momentum as Steve McClarenÃ¢ÂÂs Twente comfortably beat Marseille 1-0 in the Velodrome.
Schteve celebrates conquering the French
The curse of the Brazilian World Cup winning coach...
Mario Zagallo, Carlos Alberto Parreira and Phil Scolari have two things in common: they have all coached Brazil to World Cup glory Ã¢ÂÂ and have never lasted more than a season at a European club.
Zagallo didnÃ¢ÂÂt even try, Carlos Alberto Parreira endured one forgettable season (1994/95) at Valencia and Scolari spent five months at Chelsea.
But perhaps the curse isnÃ¢ÂÂt restricted to World Cup winning coaches. Vanderlei Luxemburgo had a torrid time at Real in 2004/05, best remembered by the cognoscenti for a pioneering (for which read: suicidal) 4-2-2-2 formation known as the Magic Rectangle.
Zico lasted two years at Fenerbahce and at least left of his own volition, suggesting heÃ¢ÂÂd be up for the Newcastle job.
But Dennis Wise, a man steeped in football history and the power of the Brazilian curse, wisely gave Zico the swerve and the legend is now tasked with reviving CSKA Moscow.
Maybe the curse isnÃ¢ÂÂt restricted to Brazilian coaches. As we point out in the new issue of Champions Ã¢ÂÂ look if I donÃ¢ÂÂt plug it, who else will? Ã¢ÂÂ Argentine coaches have, since the 1960s heyday of Helenio Herrera, had a marginal influence on European football.
Does this mean thereÃ¢ÂÂs something wrong with Brazilian and Argentine coaches? Or with the European game?
Big Phil confronts the dreaded curse head on
And finally, the day James Joyce joined the Hungarian midfield...
The most influential novelist of the 20th century was no master of the Ã¢ÂÂgreasy leather orb,Ã¢ÂÂ as he referred to the ball but, according to this intriguing post on The Global Game he was happy to rub shoulders with the Hungarian football team at a lecture in Paris in 1937.
Vladimir Nabokov, the goalkeeper and novelist, was giving the lecture and the sight of Joyce Ã¢ÂÂarms folded and glasses glinting in the middle of the Hungarian soccer teamÃ¢ÂÂ unnerved him.
Fortunately, Joyce just sat there and paid attention. As did the Hungarian players.
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