Another talented writer makes his début on gibfootballshow. Euan Marshall originally from Glasgow and now a resident in South America uses his new found love of Latin football to tell Blackburn Rovers fans all about their new signing Mauro Formica.

Under ambitious new ownership and with some decent form under their belt, Blackburn Rovers have all the makings of a football club on the rise. To go along with the shrewd loan signings of Schalke 04′s Jermaine Jones and the returning Roque Santa Cruz, Blackburn have decided to go out and buy a South American attacking midfielder. They did not end up with Ronaldinho Gaúcho, but they have managed to sign an extremely exciting and promising young Argentine, Mauro Formica.

Formica’s recent form for Newell’s Old Boys in his native Argentina has generated a lot of buzz and interest throughout the football world. His 16 appearances and 2 goals in the 2010 Torneo Apertura attracted suitors from all over Europe, with Rubin Kazan, Galatasaray, Genoa, Blackburn Rovers and Monaco all looking to facilitate his move across the Atlantic. He looked certain to sign for Les Rouge et Blanc in France, but as Newell’s tried to squeeze more money out of the principality club, the move stalled. That was when Blackburn jumped in and made an improved offer which was swiftly accepted by Newell’s. Finally, “El Gato” (“the Cat”) agreed a contract with Rovers which will see him in Lancashire for the next three years.

A Newell’s boy born and bred, Mauro signed his first professional contract with la Lepra in 2006 when he was 18 years old. He has always been highly coveted at Newell’s, and after three years he broke into a regular first team place in the 2009/2010 season, managing 38 appearances and 8 goals in all competitions. However it was not until this season’s Apertura where 22 year-old Mauro really blossomed, becoming a key player in the Newell’s squad.

Formica hails from a nation notorious for hyping up their young talents, with several youngsters tipped to be reincarnations of national football heroes like Diego Maradona or Ariel Ortega. Unsurprisingly, Mauro has not been able to escape this, with several pundits dubbing him (inexplicably) the “new Batistuta”; however the more accurate comparison comes from Argentina’s neighbours Brazil, in the shape of Real Madrid’s Kaká.

Not only does he bear a truly startling physical resemblance to Kaká (everything except the 80s style mullet), Formica also has several similarities to the Brazilian in his playing style. Watching the way he drives at defences, with the ball appearing to stick to his boots, you would be forgiven for thinking you were watching a young Kaká. He skips past defenders in the same way that Kaká does, naturally and with pace.

However Formica isn’t just a dribbler, he has technique and flair in abundance, making him a fantastic player to watch. He has a tremendous passing range, a great first touch, he hits a great shot from distance, and he is able to pull off deft flicks, back-heels and nutmegs when the situation calls for it. Without trying to over-hype the 22-year old, he really does possess the skill set of a truly world class attacking midfielder.

Mauro Formica belongs to a generation of very talented Argentine footballers, and unfortunately for him this could seriously affect his chances of featuring for the national team in later years. Formica is a number 10, an attacking midfielder, what the Argentines refer to as an enganche, and he’s going to have some serious competition on the international scene. Already Ángel di María has made a name for himself at Real Madrid and has appeared several times at international level, furthermore two of the game’s most promising players will be desperate to fill the number 10 role; Javier Pastore of Palermo, and Erik Lamela of River Plate.

As I have mentioned earlier, Formica is a proper South American number 10. At Newell’s he played either behind two centre-forwards or as the left sided attacking midfielder in a 4-3-2-1. He serves as an excellent link between the midfield and attack, and is able to intuitively move into the right areas to receive the ball and then produce the killer pass. He has all the wonderful passing attributes of a great playmaker, and his equally wonderful dribbling skills mean he can go it alone if necessary and provide a different threat to opposing defences.

Certainly the main question regarding Formica’s move to Blackburn is whether he will be able to adapt and thrive in the Premier League. English football is certainly a very different game from what Formica is used to back home, the pace is much higher, with creative players not allowed much time on the ball, and overall the game is a much more physical affair. It is expected that Formica will need some time to adapt, and he may find it hard to make much of an impact between now and the end of the season.

Formica will be hoping to slot into a position similar to his number 10 role at Newell’s. He will have players like Morten Gamst Pedersen and Junior Hoilett to link up with in midfield, and two good forwards to aim at, fellow South American Roque Santa Cruz, and the Croatian Nikola Kalinić. A main part of his success at Newell’s was his excellent ability to link with players around him, so Formica will be hoping to develop the same rapport with his new Ewood Park team-mates.

With all of these qualities and obvious potential, Blackburn will be hoping that the introduction of Formica will bring some real South American class to their midfield to help their push for European qualification. How much of an immediate impact he will make is impossible to know, but with Formica’s style and talent we can be sure of plenty breathtaking moments from el Gato for years to come.

To read more of Euan’s work please have a look at his wonderful website “I like football me” and also catch him on twitter for all the goings on in Brazil and South America. Also soon to join the gibfootballshow podcast ;)

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Welcome to Episode 22

After being shut down by Xilo.net the pod proves you can’t keep a good man down. We have the pleasure of welcoming David Cartlidge to the podcast. Spanish football expert and writer for SpanishFootball.info he takes on the listeners questions.

Also joining me in the pod are Scott Johnston from thefootyblog.net and Brent Atema from Global Football Today. We go through the recent transfers new including: Darren Bent, Steven Pienaar, Kenny Miller plus loads more.

This week also sees the first gibfootballshow competition, all details can be found HERE.

With all that quality goodness, what are you waiting for!!!

To download the direct feed of the podcast you can click the image below

To subscribe to the podcast and all future episodes, why not click the link below and as if by magic it will appear in your iTunes library

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Another week another podcast, this week I was joined by Ethan Dean-Richards, Brent Atema and Charlie Anderson. We discussed the situation at Newcastle United, is Alan Pardew the man for the job, or is Mike Ashley just a tool.

We round up this week’s Champions League action, Charlie tries to contain his excitement over Copenhagen’s place in the Last 16, then in Part two we discuss the best and worse transfers througout Europe this season.

Another amusing and enjoyable podcast.

Don’t forget the podcast was nominate for Best Podcast at the NOPA Awards, and you can still buy tickets to the football blogging extravaganza and you could meet Barry Glendenning from The Guardian’s Football Weekly, ITV Commentary Clive Tyldesley and of course me. Give a click to either button and join in.


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As someone put it today on Twitter, I am starting my own football revolution, first their was this website, then I brought you my Podcasts, so what’s next I hear you ask, well…….

gibfootballforum

Yes that’s right I have launched a sister site to this, a forum where people can go and make their own points, start conversations, teach each other about players and teams we might not be aware of.

There used to be a group of us on a Pro Evo forum that had indepth conversations about football the in’s and out’s of the beautiful game so I wanted to create a place where this could happen again, so please go to the forum, sign up and start the conversation.

I hope to see a few of you there.

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For the 4 years Gordon Strachan was in charge of Celtic I can’t say I was ever convinced, and I was one of the many people demanding him to be removed as manager, any outsider looking at his record would think we were all crazy.

3 League titles, 1 Scottish Cup, 2 League Cups, and 3 years he won the SPFA Manager of the year, not exactly the record of a bad manager, however in his last year the team struggled alot, Rangers fans would even admit there team has one of the poorest they’ve ever seen but Strachan failed to beat them, and Rangers went on to lift the title, Celtic fans had never been enamoured with Gordon’s style of play, so many times they would have to come from behind to pick up a victory, scrappy football is not the Celtic style of football.

Tactically he seems very inept 4-4-2 was always used and when in trouble the only change he ever made was like for like using the same formation, no risks ever taken, players bought and never used, Derek Riordan one of the brightest talents in Scotland came to the club, 24 appearances in 2 years scoring 5 goals and then sold back to Hibs for a loss, and for Hibs he has 20 goals in 52 games in a year and a half, the kind of player if they hadn’t screwed him around Celtic would be very interested in.

Players like Evander Sno and Perrier-Doumbe showed alot of promise, I watched alot of Sno in the reserves, and you could see him commanding the game from the middle of the park, but then Gordon would bring in lots of central midfielders, and Sno was never given his chance, Robson, Hartley, Crosas, Donati, apart from Robson none of them showed they were far superior to Sno, now only 22 years old, was sent back to Ajax were he played 19 games and now on loan at Bristol City, he started on the bench but now has worked hard for a starting place, and from what I’ve seen he has impressed playing 19 games scoring 3 goals, I would love him to still be at the club.

On the 8th of June 2009 Celtic fans got there wish Strachan was out, and in came ex-Celtic hardman and inventer of the Celtic pregame huddle Tony Mowbray was appointed manager, the fans were overjoyed at the appointment, a manager who likes to play attractive football which he had shown during his time at West Brom and in the SPL with Hibs, also a Celtic man, who knew the club and had the clubs interest at heart, surely this could only be a good thing.

Lets fast forward to today 30th of January, 21 games played and Celtic find themselves 10 points behind Rangers with a game in hand, not exactly the dream start for Mowbray. Celtic have always made Celtic Park a fortress the epic 32 game unbeaten record in Europe during the O’Neil days, this season 4 draws and 1 defeat is nowhere near a fortress, more a holiday camp, the away record not exactly sparkling either 3 defeats and a draw, Rangers in comparison only beaten once at home and once away and 6 draws and 17 goals better off, it looks an impossible task for The Bhoys to overcome.

Mowbray of course needs time to build his own team, so far gone are Nakamura, Hesselink, Balde, Doumbe, Hartley, Donati, Caldwell , Robson, Flood, and Killen, the last 3 will be reunited with Strachan at Middlesbrough along with Stephen McManus on loan more on that later.

In their place Mowbray’s signings are not names that create excitement Zaluska, Fortune, N’Guemo (loan), Josh Thompson, Zheng Zhi, Ki Sung-Yong, Hooiveld, Rogne, and Rasmussen, I left out Danny Fox as even though he only joined in the summer, he’s now been sold to Burnley for a profit of £300,000 which to me is baffling, is that Tony admitting he was a bad signing, or was Fox not happy, that brings me to my next point.

The fans were not a fan of Strachan, but it seems however the players must have been, Chris Killen never got a game under him, but has joined Middlesbrough to link up with Strachan again, as have, Barry Robson, Willo Flood and Stephen McManus and they could soon be joined by Scott McDonald, Gary Caldwell nearly joined but Wigan came in, and he wanted a crack at the Premiership.

What does it say that players that hardly featured only one manager, would then jump at the chance to again work under him, I can’t work out if that makes Gordon a good person to play for or worringly does it make Tony a bad person to play for.

The one player gone that worries me is Stephen McManus, I have met Stephen personally, his girlfriend live next door to my Uncle, and the man bleeds green blood, he has been there since he was a child, and came through the ranks to captain the club, surely a boyhood dream, then Tony came in, took away his starting spot, what worries me is that when Boro made the offer and Tony let Stephen know about it, it was said that Stephen jumped at the chance to link up again with the man that made him captain, and not stay and fight for his place at his club, the club he has loved since he was old enough to kick a ball, this makes me question Tony Mowbray as a man manager, 5 players have followed Strachan to Middlesbrough, 1 player has followed Tony from West Brom.

Today while thinking about this blog and what I was going to write, I came to a bit of a more positve mindset, the team Strachan built was decent however an ageing team, so it needed rebuilding, when is the best time to rebuild a club, I don’t think there is one, so far this season 13 players have left the club, and 10 players have come in, surely only now is Mowbray putting his stamp on the club, and with 17 games remaining this season in the league, it could be that the players don’t gel together till the end of the season or even in preseason.

I am gonna put this season down to rebuilding, aslong as we come 2nd it’s no disaster, this gives Tony 7 months to mould the squad for the start of next season, and from now on only then will I judge him as a Celtic manager, I know from years of being a Celtic fan, the majority will not be as patient, it seems though that the board are, giving Tony the money to buy players build his own squad, it would be ridiculous now to remove him and bring someone else in, the new man might not like the players brought in for £4 million this January, which would just be a waste of money.

Only time will tell if it’s been a year of building or a year of destruction, however I am now willing to give it the time it needs to show through, and I hope my fellow fans do the same.

HAIL HAIL!!!

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