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Blog - Marcotti's Musings

Marcotti: Tall order for Benitez at Real

Real Madrid
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Rafa Benitez faces a big challenge as Real Madrid's new manager

ESPN FC analyst Stewart Robson says Rafa Benitez's appointment as Real Madrid coach will not guide them out of their slump.

In many ways, it would be easier to assess Rafa Benitez's prospects at Real Madrid if the last two years at Napoli had never happened. When you get a set of data that is so radically different from the rest of your available information, you need to weigh whether it's indicative of real change or whether it's just "noise," an error in measurement.

Benitez takes over at the Bernabeu after two seasons that were unlike any other in his career, not so much in terms of results, but in terms of how...

Barcelona peaking, Neymar debate, Arsenal hope, Benitez says bye, more

It was a weekend of cup final magic, highlighted by more Lionel Messi brilliance.

Barcelona were always going to be uber-favorites in the Copa del Rey final at the Camp Nou (even the version half-filled by Basques) against an Athletic Bilbao side devoid of Iker Muniain, Ander Iturraspe and Oscar de Marcos. The script was followed, but maybe we didn't expect it to occur so emphatically.

Barcelona weren't devastating, in part because Athletic Club played with the kind of pride and intensity you'd expect. At the back, there was the odd wobble for Luis Enrique's side while, in midfield,...

Does Florentino Perez have too much power as Real Madrid president?

The ESPN FC panel respond to your tweets on how team chemistry is affected when a coach or player leaves a club, how long the next Real Madrid coach will last and the Arturo Vidal to Arsenal transfer rumours.

When managers are sacked, especially at top clubs, we often turn it into a moral issue. We feel sorry for them (or not) and ask ourselves whether they "deserved" to get the boot or "did enough" to keep the job. We use our own metrics to measure this -- results, image, style of play -- and we try to be rational by allowing for mitigating factors: things like injuries, time (and lack thereof), resources, degree of control and oversight or personal relationships.

Plenty are doing just that in reflecting...

Brendan Rodgers, Rafa Benitez, Luis Enrique, others face uncertain futures

The ESPN FC crew recap Liverpool's performance against Stoke City, where Steve Nicol says Liverpool have been extremely poor this season.

With nothing left to play for, you imagine Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was hoping that Sunday would pass largely unnoticed.

A trip to the Britannia Stadium and Stoke City offered a chance for the home team to bask in the afterglow of a tremendous season, while Rodgers' own team could go through the motions, get the departing Steven Gerrard on the scoresheet and retreat quickly to reload for next season.

As has happened time and again this year, things didn't quite work out as Rodgers had planned....

Understanding Platini's proposal to ease the financial fair play rules

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti discusses financial fair play and its possible changes moving forward in regards to business plans of football clubs.
UEFA President Michel Platini admits he could be in favour of reducing the Financial Fair Play restrictions currently in place across European football.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says any new financial fair play rules introduced by UEFA will make no difference to his club, thanks to their financial prudence over the years.

Gab Marcotti tells you everything you need to know about Michel Platini's proposal to ease some of UEFA's financial fair play rules

Q: What's this? UEFA President Michel Platini says they're relaxing financial fair play restrictions? So they're getting rid of those pesky spending limits?

A: Not quite. They're going to consult with clubs and leagues and then vote on a proposal, most likely at the UEFA Executive Committee meeting in late June. Beyond that, as I understand it, the limits...

Enrique deserves credit at Barca, and Man United to blame for De Gea unrest

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno discusses the elements that led to FC Barcelona's season turnaround, which culminated in the Catalan side securing the league title.

In the end, there was less drama than anticipated. Barcelona's trip to the Calderon to seal the title with Sunday's 1-0 win felt a bit like stamping a time card: routine, dull and a necessary step on the way to the title. Exactly a year earlier, it was Atletico winning the title in Barca's house; now it was the other way around.

Luis Enrique, who had won absolutely nothing as a manager before Sunday, is on the verge of winning the treble (La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey) in his debut...