Time for Barcelona’s kids in the Copa del Rey

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The draw for the Copa del Rey quarter finals has thrown up an interesting conundrum for Barcelona.

The Catalans have been paired with Sevilla for the two-legged tie, the Andalusians being one of, if not the toughest opponent they could’ve faced.

It will see a quick return to the Camp Nou for Munir El Haddadi, recently signed by Pablo Machin, and how he would love to put a spoke in the aspirations of his former side. Continue reading

Is Sergi Roberto in danger of losing his place at Barcelona?

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It took Sergi Roberto an age to break through at Barcelona, but thanks to his persistence and utter belief in what he had to offer, eventually all of his hard work paid off.

For a few years now, Roberto has been a member of the first-team squad, and because of his versatility, he’s rarely left out of the starting XI when Ernesto Valverde is putting his team together.

Steeped in Blaugrana, and the last La Masia graduate to truly make an impact in the senior side, Sergi has become something of a standard bearer for all subsequent academy players at the club. Continue reading

Barcelona shouldn’t make Munir an outcast

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If, as has been rumoured, Munir El Haddadi’s agent has demanded vast sums to ensure his client will sign a new deal at Barcelona, one can perhaps understand the club’s ire at being held to ransom.

Frankly, agents are the bane of the modern game, but for many players, they are a necessary evil when it comes to the business side of their employment. Continue reading

Where does Coutinho fit in at Barcelona now?

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Against Getafe on Sunday night, Barcelona’s record signing, Phillipe Coutinho, was again left on the bench.

That’s right, €160 million worth of talent being given a cursory eight-minute cameo at the end of the match.

Predictably it wasn’t enough time for the Brazilian to really make an impact, and that is becoming a consistent theme for him of late. Continue reading

What’s made Paul Pogba tick again?

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Paul Pogba is back! Most chances created against Bournemouth, tracking back to make tackles and blocks, breaking into the opponents’ box with the endeavour of club legend Bryan Robson and, with another brace, he’s scoring goals for fun.

So what exactly is going on?

Only a mere matter of weeks ago social media was awash with footage of he and Jose Mourinho arguing in training, the armband was unceremoniously removed and a seat on the bench was the best that life was going to get for United’s £90 million superstar. Continue reading

Barcelona are wrong to put the squeeze on Valverde

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It’s not even the new year but Barcelona have already placed their demands on first team coach, Ernesto Valverde, reiterating their stance that he must make his mind up about his future contractual intentions by February at the latest.

Though they can’t be kept waiting indefinitely, one has to question the wisdom of asking for a decision during the part of the season which will be amongst Barca’s busiest.

The Champions League will have just begun again and, depending on league results in the next few weeks, the majority of the first team’s focus will have to be on domestic matters. Continue reading

Have Barcelona blocked La Masia pathway?

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Barcelona’s capture of Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia continues to follow a pattern that is at odds with the club’s perceived directive.

For years now, the Catalans have always spoken with great pride about its academy, La Masia.

Though the talent pool has dwindled somewhat, there’s still more than enough young players that can be called upon if and when required.

Take Chumi for example. Continue reading

Lessons from Manchester United (Mike Phelan visits Burnley College)

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Former assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Mike Phelan has certainly been keeping himself busy since his days at Old Trafford came to an end.

Always known as a deep, logical thinker, with a thirst for learning and the requisite man-management skills to get his point across to the footballing elite, Phelan might’ve been out of the spotlight but he’s never been out of touch.

Spells at Norwich City as first-team coach and caretaker manager were followed by a short, ill-fated sojourn at Hull City that never shared his ambitions.

Indeed, ambitious is probably the one word that best sums up Phelan.

Following the return from a successful spell as the sporting director of Australian A League side, Central Coast Mariners, he will be concentrating on his master classes, being delivered at Burnley College.

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On Tuesday, December 18, Phelan will share his thoughts and experiences on a variety of subjects in which he has specialised over his career.

They include; Elite coaching, Sports technology, Leadership, Working with world class athletes, Winning in sport, Media and The wider business of sport (transfers, legal, agents).

Phelan speaks from a position of authority and knowledge, having spent all of his career thinking outside of the box in terms of how he’s able to get the very best from those he’s had the privilege of training. Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney among others.

Different, some would say innovative ways of working have been embraced, as well as retaining a keen interest in the psychological side of many sports, not just football.

It’s that willingness to be open to new ideas and thought processes that have allowed Phelan to evolve on a personal and professional level on top of remaining as relevant today as he was when he sat alongside Sir Alex.

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His CV charts consistent professional success in one of the most fiercely competitive areas of employment, and with such a vast array of transferable skills, the opportunity for students and professionals of all walks of life to be able to listen to, and learn from, Phelan is one not to be passed up.

On Tuesday, there will be a practical around 9:30/10 am start with the academy players, followed at 11:30 – 12:30 by a lecture and short presentation and then a Q and A.

Ongoing throughout the day will be a live virtual reality experience at https://rezzil.com/ where you can experience or be tested against benchmarks from elite footballers.

Peterborough University College has already had the pleasure of Mike’s expertise when delivering a master class earlier this year. You can read about it here.

If you’d like Mike Phelan to offer a master class at your school, for students or group of professionals, please get in touch here: david@sensiblesoccer.co.uk

A look at Barca’s possible UCL opponents

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Lionel Messi issued a clarion call at the very beginning of the season where the Champions League was concerned.

That was the priority for Barcelona. No messing about, a stated aim to take home the trophy once again.

Drawn in the ‘group of death,’ the Blaugrana sailed through it, but now the real business begins.

Barcelona have six possible opponents they could draw in the Round of 16… Continue reading

Three players who could leave Barcelona in January

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There are just another few weeks remaining until the transfer window is open for business once again.

Noises have already been made from various players and clubs, some more subtle than others it must be said.

Most of the spadework on deals will have been done prior to January 1, 2019, with the nuts and bolts of any switch to be ironed out in good time after that date. Continue reading