Alex Chick

  • Louis van Gaal celebrates Netherlands' win over Brazil (Reuters)

    Louis van Gaal leaves the Netherlands and heads for Manchester United with his considerable reputation much enhanced.

    Not only did he guide a relatively unfancied Dutch side to third place, he pulled off a couple of tactical masterstrokes and plundered huge wins over the World Cup holders and the most successful team in the tournament’s history.

    Much of the tournament has played out to "the sound of Louis van Gaal being right", particularly in a British media giddy at the prospect of Louis and his colossal cojones gracing the Premier League.

    Read More »from On Reflection: Did Louis Van Gaal really have a great World Cup?
  • When people suggested after the group stage brimming with goals that this was the greatest World Cup ever, the common rebuttal held that this was a tournament high on goalmouth action but lacking in truly great teams.

    In a couple of weeks, the script has flipped.

    Only one match in the knockout stage produced more than three goals (no prizes for guessing which), but it saw the crowning of a wonderful German side that bears comparison with any in the competition’s history.

    Deciding whether Jogi Loew’s men could beat Brazil ’70 or Argentina ‘86 is a parlour game for another day.

    What we do know

    Read More »from One of the finest teams ever: Why Germany’s win is great for football
  • Face it: England aren’t elite and never have been

    England captain Steven Gerrard squats dejected (Reuters)

    Calls for the FA to restore England to the international football elite ignore one sobering fact - we have never been elite.

    If the sheer limpness of their exit from Brazil achieved anything, it was to dampen the wailing and recrimination over their performance.


    They were nearly out after losing to Uruguay, then definitely out after Costa Rica beat Italy, and by the time they had played their last game all anyone wanted to talk about was Luis Suarez’s front teeth.

    Suarez saved Roy Hodgson much scrutiny – but as Germany crushed Brazil the question

    Read More »from Face it: England aren’t elite and never have been
  • Forget Fred: the real reasons for Brazil’s shocking meltdown

    How to analyse a collapse so complete, so traumatic that it goes far beyond the normal realms of sport?

    How to explain the seemingly inexplicable? How did the World Cup hosts and pre-tournament favourites suffer excruciating embarrassment twice in a week?

    We are used to sportsmen and women choking – Greg Norman, Jana Novotna, Allan Donald – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    This was more than a choke. This was a team, almost to a man, buckling in extraordinary and almost unwatchable fashion.

    Brazil! Five-times winners and the greatest football nation in history. In the final stages

    Read More »from Forget Fred: the real reasons for Brazil’s shocking meltdown
  • The World Cup is here – be happy

    "Happy, happy, happy, happy / Happy, happy, happy happy / Happy, happy, happy, happy."

    Pharrell Williams's ode to joy was never going to trouble Bob Dylan for lyrical complexity, but it does have a habit of getting lodged immovably in your brain.

    Never more so than in the last two days, when my mental soundtrack has consisted of Pharrell's backing singers' mantra on repeat.

    It doesn't take Freud to work out why - and it's not because football creaks with irritating one-word chants.

    No, the World Cup is here. Ahead of us, untouched like virgin snow, lie 64 matches. There are heroes to be

    Read More »from The World Cup is here – be happy
  • Quiet Pellegrini has earned his moment of glory

    Manchester City players hold Manuel Pellegrini aloft (Reuters)

    A faint scent of anti-climax hangs over the Premier League after Manchester City clinched their second title in three years.

    That's always a risk when your first one comes with two stoppage-time goals to deny your cross-city rivals after 44 barren years.

    In one of the most bizarre seasons in memory, Manchester City became champions again simply by taking care of business.

    Defeat to Liverpool followed by a home draw with Sunderland last month left City all but out of it, six points off the top - but as their rivals buckled, City reeled off five wins in a row and surged to the front.

    Read More »from Quiet Pellegrini has earned his moment of glory
  • Vidic leaves worrying mess behind at Manchester United

    Manchester United won't miss Nemanja Vidic's influence on the pitch when he leaves Old Trafford.

    Not because they have a ready-made replacement for their imposing captain, but because they are already missing him.

    A fateful knee injury sustained in Basel in 2011 reduced him to a cruel parody of the man who formed, with Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar, a defensive barrier formidable enough to keep the Somerset levels bone dry.

    Although he seemed more likely than Ferdinand to adapt to his new physical limitations and maintain his influential presence - as John Terry has done at Chelsea -

    Read More »from Vidic leaves worrying mess behind at Manchester United
  • Manchester United – worse than Mrs Brown’s Boys

    Trying to pick the worst aspect of Manchester United latest slump in form is like selecting the least amusing scene from a Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special.

    There is much to choose from, and in many ways there's no wrong answer - in the end it's all part of the same desolate, depressing spectacle.

    [MATCH REPORT: Sunderland inflict more woe on United]

    Still, at least people actually seem to like Mrs Brown (and if you're one of them, you can stop reading now). There might have been people laughing last night, but none of them supported United, whose fanbase has been sucked into a collective

    Read More »from Manchester United – worse than Mrs Brown’s Boys
  • This blog won't argue that Joe Hart is in the form of his life. Anyone with eyes knows he isn't. His errors against Bayern Munich continued a worrying trend of high-profile mistakes.

    However, despite the drop in his performance level, the Manchester City goalkeeper remains England's best and should play the World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland.

    This week's trendy pretender is Celtic's Fraser Forster, who put in an admirable display in the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday.

    He's already been in the senior England squad and you can make a strong case for him to win his first cap.

    Read More »from Forget Fraser Forster, Joe Hart’s still the best England have got
  • Did Manchester United get the wrong man?

    I hope Manchester United manager David Moyes and chief exec Ed Woodward were watching Jose Mourinho's post-match interview on TV last night.

    That, gentlemen, is how you conduct your transfer business in public.

    Mourinho's recent utterances on Wayne Rooney have been a study in masterful duplicity.

    Last week he reassured United that, out of respect, he wouldn't make another bid for Rooney until after they played Chelsea on Monday.

    Translation: We'll definitely bid again. But not now - we'd rather leave it hanging over you for a while so he’s still in limbo when we play you.

    Last night he

    Read More »from Did Manchester United get the wrong man?