REGGAE Boyz Andre Blake and Kemar Lawrence, who play in Major League Soccer in the United States, recently had deals to move to the English Premier League fall through because Jamaica isn’t ranked high enough on the FIFA rankings.Jamaica are ranked 61, but according to criteria imposed since 2015, the Reggae Boyz have to be ranked within the top 50 in the world for such transfers to happen.The Reggae Boyz have not been ranked in the top 50 for more than a decade and the outstanding Blake, who is the goalkeeper for the Philadelphia Union and Lawrence who is a fullback at New York Red Bulls are the latest Jamaicans to be denied opportunities because of the rule change.According to football website Goal.com, “Premier League sides Brighton and Crystal Palace made multi-million dollar offers for Blake this past summer after his outstanding CONCACAF Gold Cup showing. Unfortunately for Blake and the interested clubs, the deals fell apart because Blake doesn’t qualify for a U.K. work permit. The main reason for Blake’s inability to secure a work permit? Jamaica’s low FIFA ranking.”Blake has expressed frustration over the missed opportunity caused by things that are beyond his control.“I knew everything all the way, and it’s such a tough situation but I can’t get too worked up over it, even though it’s a very good opportunity I’m missing out on. Maybe it’s not time yet, or maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve just got to keep working hard and maybe someday, somehow, if it’s supposed to be, it will happen,” he said.Lawrence, who was also a key member of the Reggae Boyz, which became the first Caribbean team to make consecutive finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, said this wasn’t the first time he was missing out on an opportunity because of his country’s poor FIFA ranking.“It’s hard to know that you want to play in that top division, that top league, and you can’t get to go because of stipulations like that. It’s their rules and you have to live by it,” he said.“We talk about it on a regular basis, but these things take time. More than one time opportunities like that have presented themselves for me, but we already know that if they’re not talking about a $10 million or $11 million transfer it’s a no-no for Jamaican players in England.”According to Goal, more suitors are expected to line up for Blake who is nearing the end of his MLS contract, and unless Jamaica make it into the top 50 by then, his frustrations will continue.“It’s super tough, but it’s something I can try my best to change,” Blake said.“I can’t do it on my own, but that’s part of my job as captain, to make sure we go in and take every game very seriously, and for the guys to understand that ‘Listen, it’s not just for me, it’s for everyone. If we have better rankings it will open up opportunities for everyone’.” (Sportsmax.com)
Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Manuel Pellegrini knows all about difficult owners, off-the-field problems, press scrutiny and elevated expectations from his time at Real Madrid and Malaga. So the Chilean should have an idea of exactly what he can expect at Manchester City.He has already been written off by some sectors of the British media as a big-spending foreigner with a modest trophy record, the same press pack hailing the appointment of David Moyes at City’s local rivals Manchester United.The Scot, incidentally, has never won a major trophy. But that’s okay because, well, he hails from the British Isles. Pellegrini? He’s from Chile. When did a South American ever succeed as manager in the Premier League? Oh, and he has an Italian surname. Like Mancini. Cardinal sins, clearly…Pellegrini won’t care, of course. The Chilean coach is a former central defender turned trainer with a very accomplished record (including several trophies in South America) at almost all of his sides, mostly modest teams by the way, which makes comparing his win percentage with Mancini’s (as the Daily Mail did on Monday) a futile exercise. He is also a fully qualified civil engineer. How many British bosses can claim that?Laid-back and likeable, Pellegrini will work with dignity and bring a brand of football which will please City fans after the pragmatic Mancini era. A beautiful building must be strong and solid too, however, and El Ingeniero’s sides sit on strong bases. Defensive stability allows creative flow.It is an approach mixing science and art, brawn and beauty. And it works.But what about Real Madrid? Pellegrini ‘spent’ €200 million and still won nothing, they say. This is, at best, a half-truth. The Chilean was caught in the centre of a power battle at the Santiago Bernabeu, was ignored by president Florentino Perez, viciously attacked by the local media and had little or no say when it came to player recruitment, despite the outrageous outlay in the summer of 2009, which saw Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka signed but Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder shipped out against his wishes.“I didn’t have a voice or a vote at Madrid,” he told El Mercurio in an interview in 2010, while also lamenting his inability to build the side he had wanted at Real. “I can’t get anything out of an orchestra if I have the 10 best guitarists but I don’t have a pianist or a drummer.”It was essentially all over for Pellegrini after his Madrid side lost 4-0 at lowly Alcorcon in the Copa del Rey. Not even 96 points in La Liga (the club’s best-ever total at the time) could save him, even though his team had been without Cristiano Ronaldo for almost two months and pushed Pep Guardiola’s brilliant Barcelona all the way to the end of the season.Duly discarded by Madrid, Pellegrini decided to rebuild his reputation at Malaga and took the Andalusians to within seconds of the Champions League semi-finals this term, despite summer sales (including the team’s finest player, Santi Cazorla), uncertainty over unpaid player bonuses and chaotic behaviour from club owners, who left him very much in the dark over the finances and the future of the team – as well as his own.All of that will help Pellegrini ahead of his Manchester City adventure. The Chilean has been strengthened by his experiences at Madrid and Malaga, and should feel much more comfortable with (Spanish speaker) Txiki Begiristain in the role of sporting director. It is a Barcelona blueprint in tune with his philosophy, while the Chilean’s football ideology is also in keeping with the views of Beigiristain, who is keen to install a 4-3-3 formation from top to bottom at City, in the youth sides all the way up to the first team.That may take time. Pellegrini has favoured 4-4-2 or 4-2-2-2 for much of his career. He built a spectacular side at Villarreal with that formation, leading the small-town club to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006 and winning many admirers with a brand of football which succeeded in combining Latin American flavour with European efficiency.At Malaga, meanwhile, he has used both of those systems, as well as an effective 4-2-3-1. Stability, however, remains key and the 59-year-old is unlikely to agree to a switch to 4-3-3 unless he believes he has the players to succeed in that system – or until he can bring them in.Tactically, Pellegrini is an upgrade on Mancini. He has shown at Villarreal, Madrid and Malaga that he is comfortable using a number of formations and, wherever he has been, he has made the team better than before.In the two games against Dortmund recently, his defensive organisation frustrated the German side and had it not been for the Andalusians’ late capitulation, it would have been Malaga in the semi-finals up against Madrid and not BVB. Indeed, Pellegrini’s pedigree in Europe is one of the things City will have been attracted to, especially following their two disappointing Champions League campaigns under Mancini, while the Chilean’s man-management skills will help bring the best out of a side which seems primed for greatness.At Madrid, the players backed him until the end; at Malaga they love him. At City, they will too. And if he wins, will anyone really care that he isn’t British?
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LOS ANGELES ->> The Dodgers traded right-hander Carlos Frias to the Cleveland Indians to Wednesday in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.The move allows the Dodgers to get something for Frias after designating him for assignment last week in order to clear a roster spot for outfielder Brett Eibner (acquired in a trade with the Oakland A’s on Wednesday).Frias, 27, spent parts of the past three seasons with the Dodgers, making 15 starts and 18 relief appearances (though only one last season) with a 6-6 record and 4.50 ERA. He spent most of last season sidelined by injury after competing for the final spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation during spring training.