1. ‘Mainstream media is having a field day portraying cycling as a more corrupt and crooked field than even politics. But when Paul O’Flynn on RTE news finished his dramatic report with the words ‘Cycling is now proven to be rotten to the core’ it struck a nerve.
‘Whilst Lance Armstrong may have been the most famous and now infamous cyclist, he was and is not the core of the cycling world. Cycling is about anyone who can throw their leg over a crossbar and turn the pedals.
‘Cycle racing is just as much about the hardworking A3 from Tallaght who heads out for a 2 hour training spin on a dark winters night as it is about an insecure Texan who would go to any lengths to prove he was better than everyone else.’
Barry Meehan comes out in defence of the sport he loves, on stickybottle.com.
2. Unfortunately, charts such as this, from the New York Times, just bring the sport back into disrepute.
3. ‘Louis van Gaal was supposed to be the new Johan Cruyff. When he was 21 Van Gaal was signed by Ajax and became the understudy to the man four years his senior whose talents were illuminating the football world. It soon transpired that Van Gaal’s skills were not as bright as hoped. To his dismay, he was released a year later without ever making a first-team appearance. After a humdrum playing career elsewhere he went on, of course, to become a highly successful manager. Too successful, some say, for the relationship between these two domineering men, who initially got on well, turned bitter. Some speculated that the root of their problem was Cruyff’s anger that Van Gaal guided his beloved Ajax to Champions League glory in 1995, a feat that Cruyff had not managed to achieve during his three years at the helm in the previous decade. Van Gaal, however, claims that the enmity goes back further – specifically to an incident on 26 December 1989.
‘Van Gaal, along with the Koeman brothers, had taken up an invitation to have dinner at the Cruyff family home. “The phone rang, it was for me,” recounted Van Gaal in his 2009 autobiography. “It was my family, ringing to tell me my sister had died. I rushed out immediately. Later I heard that Johann was angry I didn’t thank him for the meal.”
‘Cruyff rubbished this claim, countering: “Van Gaal must have Alzheimer’s if he wrote something like that.”‘
The Guardian looks at some of the more enduring feuds in world football.
4. ‘One-word play calls are not unique to the NFL.
‘Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s eyes were opened his very first year in the NFL – 1975 with Ted Marchibroda’s Colts as a special assistant/errand boy — when he saw firsthand how a coaching staff named certain concepts.
‘You learn to make words that are easy to say, one syllable and distinct,” Belichick said. “At the Colts, all our strong-side patterns were score, strike, sting, smash. And the weak-side patterns were whirl, whisk, wheel. And it was one word, usually one syllable, told everybody what to do [he says as he snaps his finger].’
The Boston Globe on how the Patriots are doing more with less.
5. ‘After the Beijing Games, another visitor to the velodrome was Sir Alex Ferguson, who came with members of his coaching staff, but preferred not to broadcast the fact.
‘Ferguson was keen to hear how Brailsford had done it. And Brailsford was keen to know the secret to Ferguson’s longevity; how he built and renewed teams. Sitting in his office, he asked him and Ferguson replied that it was quite simple: “Get rid of the c*nts.” By which he meant disruptive elements. Brailsford took note.
‘He has certainly needed some of Ferguson’s ruthlessness this year, while also learning to deal with the kind of scrutiny more familiar to him and Mancini.
‘At the Tour, while Wiggins was triumphant, Brailsford had his hands full with Chris Froome, who finished second but was unhappy at having to sacrifice his own chances, and Mark Cavendish, bitter at the lack of support and now, one year into a three-year deal, on his way out at Team Sky.
‘Added to all that was the white noise of doping suspicion and innuendo that inevitably accompanies any phenomenal performance at the Tour.’
The Scotsman interviews Dave Brailsford, cycling coach extraordinaire.
6. ‘After the success of the European Championships and the big money signings of Zenit, Anzhi and Shakhtar, all eyes have been on the rise of football in the east of the continent. However one of this season’s most unlikely stories is taking place in the far west of Europe – and it couldn’t be further away from the oil rich ascent of the the east.
‘County Fermangh’s Ballinamallard United have taken the Danske Bank Premiership by storm in their first ever season as a top flight club in Northern Ireland. The club currently sit in third place, ahead of the likes of Glentoran and all-Ireland champions Crusaders.
‘On Saturday the Mallards went to Windsor Park and defeated reigning champions and Ulster’s footballing giants Linfield 3-1 in their own back-yard, with an impressive counter-attacking style that made David Jeffrey’s side look positively outdated.’
Keith Bailie on the latest team looking to take Irish football by storm up North.