Top 5 Club Managers in European Soccer for the last 25 years

These are always tricky waters to tread. Football is perhaps the most popular sport in the world, and Europe is arguably its holy domain. With hundreds of millions of fans closely watching the action all year round, there are bound to be favourites and not-so-favourites. So, when it comes to picking the five of the best club managers in European football over the last two and a half decades, there will be contentious choices and polarized opinions.
That’s why, in the best spirit of the game and in the most neutral of the stances imaginable, we try to pick who we think have been the best club managers in Europe in recent history.


1. Sir Alex Ferguson


Despite club loyalties and contrasting views, not many football fans would disagree with this choice. Sir Alex Ferguson rose from the footballing backwaters of Scotland to become probably the most decorated manager of all time.
He spent over 25 years at Manchester United, starting well before the English Premier League even came into being. He virtually ruled over the club during his tenure and it was his iron grip that saw the club win the league an astonishing 11 number of times. Add to it 2 Champions League trophies and you get a CV that’s nothing but perfect.


2. Vincente Del Bosque


Vincente Del Bosque served Real Madrid for over a decade. He was at the helm of the club when Los Blancos boasted some of the most accomplished players in their starting XI.
He is the only manager in the history of football to have won the Champions League, Euro Cup, World Cup and the Intercontinental Cup, not to mention the Club World Cup. Despite his muted managerial skills that saw Real Madrid win the Champions League twice, he was unceremoniously sacked by the management, much to the dismay of fans.


3. Josep Guardiola


Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola resurrected Barcelona from the trenches that they were left reeling in, post 2007 season. He oversaw the rise of the team that he once played for, winning innumerable league titles. His first ever season saw the team trounce every opposition, including the arch-rivals Real Madrid to win the treble. Bettering himself, he made sure that the team won a record of six trophies in the following season – a feat that’s not much likely to be surpassed.
With his innate man-management skills, he handled high profile players like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi to ensure that the core of the team never got replaced. He presently mans the lines for German giants Bayern Munich.


4. Arsene Wenger


What Sir Alex Ferguson was to Manchester United, Arsene Wenger is to Arsenal – perhaps much more. In spite of never having won much of silverware during his almost two-decade long career at the Emirates Stadium, Arsene Wenger still wields enormous power in the corridors of English football. He has developed a unique reputation for unearthing soccer stars from nowhere and signing huge names at throwaway prices – a list that includes the likes of Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry and Mikel Arteta.


5. Fabio Capello


The name wouldn’t go down the throats of English fans, but Fabio Capello has a serious club record to back his legacy. He transformed A.C. Milan from a second string team of celebrity players to first rate world beaters. The first five years of the 1990’s signified one of the most fertile periods in the history of the club, when they won four Serie A trophies in just five years, while decimating reigning champions Barcelona to lift the Champions League cup in 1994.
He also successfully managed other big-budget acts like Real Madrid, Juventus and Roma.

5 Everyday Drills to Improve Your Passing Skills

Passing is one of the most underrated parts of playing football. Sure, everyone loves to watch goals being scored and goals being denied. But the very building block of the game is passing. Passing is what makes football a team sport.

In recent years, teams like Bayern Munich and Barcelona have reiterated the importance of passing well, rather than being flashy and sporadically brilliant. The better you pass the ball, the higher possession your team will have. Passing isn’t just an on-field process. Players need to have a great understanding of each other’s gameplay to be able to anticipate passes well.

Here are five easy passing drills that you can perform everyday with your teammates, to take your passing quality all the way up to the top!


1.     To-and-Fro

1. to and fro


To-and-Fro is the oldest passing drill there is. Performing it for ten to fifteen minutes on the trot will not only improve your passing skills, but your ball control and speed, as well.

Get two of your mates to pass the ball from a fair distance while you attend the passes in the middle – without missing or mishitting them!


2.     Pass and Switch

2. pass and switch

This is the next level of to-and-fro passing. You need to team up with one of your mates to replace him after you pass the ball to the other player, in rapid and non-stop successions. This will build a camaraderie between you and your teammates, all the while improving your passing accuracy.


3.     Alternate Passing

3. alternate passing

In this drill, all the three players will be involved. It is much like ‘pass and switch’, except for the fact that you will be moving at a higher pace and touch-passing as well as forced passing.


4.     Thread the Needle

4. thread the needle

In this entertaining drill, you have to keep passing the ball in an alternating fashion to the player in the middle who keeps on switching the side, much like threading the needle.


5.     Anti-Clock Form Passing

5. anti clock form passing

In anti-clock form passing, you need to team with other players (two are just fine, but if you have more than two mates to practise with, so much the better), where you alternate between touch-passes, forced-passes, aerial passes and ground passes. This drill, when performed regularly, can be just as entertaining as the game itself!

5 of the Worst Referee Calls in Soccer

Being a referee is no mean job. There’s pressure from the players, from the administrators, from the managers and moreover, from the fans. Referees have to run almost twice as much as the players themselves, and still, they have no luxury of committing an odd howler because that just means media breathing down their necks.

It’s quite okay to commit mistakes: to err is human, and everything granted. However, there are certain moments when ‘mistake’ appears to be too lenient a word to describe some calls that referees make on the field.

Here’s our selection of five of the worst referee calls in soccer.


1.     Tragedy thy name be Lampard

Frank Lampard, even after being a prolific goal scorer at the club level, has somehow been at the receiving end of the long stick we call ‘fortune’. During a high-voltage World Cup game against Germany, his brilliant pile driver thudded against the top bar, only to bounce out – but not before having landed comfortably past the goal line. Fans saw that in the replays. Players saw it too. But the one whose voice matters – referee – didn’t think it important enough to see and he disallowed the goal.

Needless to say, England couldn’t win that game.


2.     Can you count, Graham Poll?

In the same World Cup, Graham Poll – an experienced soccer referee – apparently thought that it’s not necessary to count when an entertaining and fractious game is being played on the field.

The famed referee went on to show the yellow card to Josip Simunic – one of the most experienced and players in Croatian football – THREE times!


3.     The House of Cards

Let’s turn the clock back four years to the World Cup game between Holland and Portugal.

Another experienced referee, Valentin Ivanov from Russia, decided to turn the field into a positive house of cards – brandishing 16 cards in total during the full game time.

This has already set a dubious record that prompted the then FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter to suggest that the referee himself should be shown a yellow card.


4.     Isn’t this a CONTACT sport?

Going further back in time, there are some true gems of gaffes made by referees on the field.

One such gaffe that left the referee embarrassed to the hilt was in the 1988 FA Ireland Final between Dundalk FC and Derry City. In the spirit of the final, the game was pretty competitive but the referee had different ideas. He decided to pull up Martin Bayly of Derry City and award a penalty to Dundalk FC, for what seemed to be a mere touch, not even a push.

The penalty was taken successfully and the game ended in a 1-0 victory for Dundalk.


5.     When I say it’s a foul, it IS a foul!

Manchester Derby is a place to be if you love football. The game itself may not always be of the highest standard, but rarely does a match between these rivals fail to make headlines.

During such a routine league clash in 1996, when everything appeared to be going smoothly, the referee decided to award a penalty to Manchester United. The reason, for City fans, is still not clear after almost two decades.

5 Daily Drills to Improve Your Dribbling Skills

In soccer, possession is really important, and don’t let anyone else tell you any different. Of course, goals matter – but goals are, more often than not, a direct result of how well your team can hold the possession.

Teams like Barcelona FC or Bayern Munich have come out to be champions over the years because of their immaculate sense of possession. And, when we talk about possession, nothing sounds fancier than dribbling.

Dribbling is a skill that many try to get good at, but to no avail. It’s not that it’s a difficult skill to learn, it’s just that it is put to a gruelling test when your team is under pressure. Here are a few simple daily drills to get your dribbling game from okay to look at that!!


1.     Tap the ball

tap the ball

Being able to tap the ball successfully will do half the job for you. If you can tap the ball with ease, fluency and skills as if the ball belongs at your feet, it will be very difficult for the opposition players to steal the possession from you.


2.     Sideways Control

sidways control

The key to masterful dribbling is to use every surface of your foot as the situation demand. You are not always going to have the luxury of having open spaces and responsible teammates to pass to. You will be cornered in game situations and that’s when you will have to use sides of your feet to get out of the trouble – unscathed and on top!

Do this drill for about 5 minutes – but make sure you don’t twist your ankles!


3.     Forward and Backward Roll

forward and backward roll

Rolling the ball means keeping it stuck your foot but giving the impression that you are pushing it ahead to make a sprint. This takes whoever is tackling you by surprise, and then you can swiftly change directions to make the most of confused opponents. During your drills, you can easily perform steady rolls for 10 to 15 minutes on the trot and that should be enough.


4.     Sideways Roll

sideways roll

Much like the forward and backward roll, sideways roll will help you get the better of approaching defenders. It’s particularly useful when you are pinched along the side-lines. 10 to 15 minutes of sideways roll during every session can make you good enough to play along the lines in no time!


5.     Faux Pas

faux pas

Faux pas is the heart of dribbling. Fooling your opponents takes the sting out of their defence and puts them on the back foot in a moment. Faux pas is more of your own strategy. You can change it around the way you like. Once you find your rhythm, you can combine it with other drills to put them to a test with your teammates.

Better control for aerial passes – learn it today!

Let’s face it. We all love great dribbles, fancy tricks, smart tackles and strong clearances. But what’s better to watch than a footballer controlling air balls like an airbender?

Probably nothing!

There are some basic rules and techniques to managing aerial passes. It’s difficult – no doubt; but it’s certainly not impossible. In fact, with these few tips, you will be well on your way to achieving greater air ball control – TODAY!


Soft stopping – make the ball stick to you

soft stopping 1

Every inexperienced footballer gets flabbergasted when he sees the ball approaching him with great speed through the air. Well, on the field, there’s no place for confusion.

Whenever you spot your teammate hauling a high pass to you or the opponent defence clearing the ball high and long, it’s your time to switch the soft game on.

Let the ball come to you, and try to make the first contact with your feet very softly. You can either use the inner face (90 degrees to the arc of the ball) or the upper face (where shoelaces sit, 0 degrees with the arc of the ball) of your prominent foot.


soft stopping 2

Let the ball rest with you and try to cushion the impact as best as you can. This is called soft stopping or trapping. If you exert power, the ball is invariably going to go away from you after impact. That’s not what we want, right?


Using your body

chest control

Another great way to drop the ball dead in front of you is to use your body itself. You can either cushion the ball with your chest or your thighs. Once the impact is absorbed, make a swift second move to get the ball down to your prominent foot and then take it from there.

What you need to remember is that it’s not always safe to chest the ball. Don’t ever chest a high ball in a match situation unless you have practiced it enough during training sessions.


One touch control for air balls


Once you have mastered the two techniques listed above, the next step will be to merge them both.

One touch control means anticipating an air ball, dropping it at your feet and then manoeuvring it wherever you want – all in one swift motion.

As you absorb the impact of the ball by cushioning it with your foot or your body, make sure that your prominent side is opened up to the opponent defence. This will allow you to move forward. Then get your best foot ahead and control the ball as if it belongs to you – because it really does!