Ask anybody who's done it, and they'll tell you that sustaining success is much harder than achieving it in the first place. The great Hungarian coach Bela Guttmann refused ever to spend longer than three years at a club because he felt that after that he could no longer motivate players. It may be that in the modern world of soccer in which money begets money, success is easier to sustain than previously, at least on a domestic level. On a European scale what that means is a cluster of perhaps eight or so super powers constantly battling for the Champions League, which is surely the main reason no side has successfully defended the title since the AC Milan of Arrigo Sacchi in 1990.
The appointment of legendary Dutch midfielder and former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit as the manager of a team in the once-war-torn Russia republic of Chechnya has left football experts and Caucasus watchers stunned.
As well as upping weekend revenue for DIY stores everywhere, the international break produced two hat-tricks -- one each for Jermain Defoe (England) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Netherlands). Variety, technique, a dollop of selfishness, they all go into the mix to score a treble at this level, and competitive international hat tricks are getting harder to come by -- the last three World Cups have produced about a quarter of the total produced by the first three. Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain bagged one this summer with the same cool exterior as his predecessor Gabriel Batistuta, but an international hat trick of tournament-changing magnitude, of tear-jerking quality or just of eyebrow-raising novelty is a rare thing indeed. Here's a list of memorable ones:
The failures of foreign coaches litter the annals of Major League Soccer like cigarette butts on the sidewalk outside a bar. Such luminaries as Carlos Alberto Parreira, Bora Milutinovic, Ruud Gullit, Frank Stapleton and Bobby Houghton have all come to America, struggled to find a groove within MLS' arcane rules and gotten out of Dodge as quickly as possible, leaving behind a club in turmoil and a chorus of tsk-tsking pundits.
The man who brought the "Beckham Rule" to Major League Soccer now wants to change it in a dramatic fashion. And if Tim Leiweke gets his way, David Beckham and MLS' other marquee players wouldn't count a dime against the league's salary cap.
Former United States national soccer coach Bruce Arena has been appointed head coach and general manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy. He fills the gaps after last week's resignation of coach Ruud Gullit and the sacking of general manager Alexei Lalas.
There are more pounds around the middle and less hair up top these days as perhaps the most powerful yet graceful player ever produced in Europe slides toward his 46th birthday, his playing days long past and an oft-aborted coaching career in its fourth phase.
Question: When is a fiasco not a fiasco? Well, the answer has to be, "when it's David Beckham." His much-ballyhooed, incredibly hyped arrival in the U.S. to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy managed to take in, simultaneously, both ends of Kipling's equation: both triumph and disaster.