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Red Bulls Expert Guide: November 22, 2021

Tom Edwards talks Stoke return, Jan Gunnar Solli returns to reality TV, and Jesse Marsch and Gerhard Struber maybe trade notes in this week’s links

TSG Hoffenheim v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga
Has the same angel (or devil) been on Jesse Marsch and Gerhard Struber’s shoulders this fall?
Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images

Welcome to the Red Bulls Expert Guide presented by Once a Metro.

I wake up every morning at 3 a.m. and do ten minutes of meditation. Then, I head over to my computer and begin news scrolling for the next 11 hours and 50 minutes. Following a quick break for entertainment and food (Xena tapes and Hot Pockets), my task resumes until around 9 p.m., at which point commences bedtime.

Here’s this week’s top story.

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In a recent interview with Stoke-on-Trent Live, Tom Edwards revealed his frustration with internet rumors surrounding his Stoke tenure, claiming that past stories “don’t reflect the kind of person that [he is].” The defender chose “to take [himself] out of the firing line,” seeing how the whispers were affecting his family. Whatever tales spread about his “off-pitch demeanors” and relationship with manager Michael O’Neill, the 22-year-old desires a return to the club.

“Hopefully if I get the opportunity, I would love to come back and prove to people that what they were hearing simply wasn’t true,” said Edwards. “I am just a local lad from Stoke who absolutely loved playing for the club, and, trust me, I would love to play for them again. I am not a boy anymore, I am a man, and I would love to come back and show everybody that by giving everything I have for the club.”

Edwards’ emergence as a wide center back increases his value, making him a versatile option and providing more opportunities for playing time. With Harry Souttar suffering from a “serious knee injury,” Stoke may be forced to turn to their wandering son upon his return in January. The New York Red Bulls could perhaps take a small solace in redirecting his career trajectory and opening up new and exciting possibilities.

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Speaking of the Stoke fullback, did you know that Tom Edwards and Patryk Klimala faced off in the past? The two played against one another in the U20 Elite League for their respective national teams at the St. George’s Park National Football Centre in Burton-upon-Trent. Poland triumphed 3-1, thanks to the striker converting a penalty in the 26th minute.

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Who would win in a fight, a novillo (bull) or a brujo (warlock)?

Viewers almost got to find that out, as José Andrés Martínez got into a minor scuffle with Cristian Cásseres Jr. during the recent playoff match. The former player received a yellow card and was the recipient of a post-whistle love tap from his international teammate. Naturally, fans of La Vinotinto were a little concerned about the potential bad blood spilling into the next camp.

“The action with Cásseres, they are party situations,” reassured Martínez over social media application Twitter. “We are Venezuelans and we are going to the front, each one defending his colors on the field of play. You have to be there to understand what I’m saying. Then we get back together because we have a common goal which is our country.”

Venezuela is currently at the bottom of the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying table, with seven points from 14 matches. There are four remaining fixtures, starting with Bolivia on January 27th. Perhaps Cásseres and Martínez will manage to shove their way into Qatar.

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“What’s Kevin Thelwell doing?” asked Birmingham Live of the former Wolverhampton sporting director.

Outlining his rise through the club, writer Alex Dicken examines the sporting executive’s path leading to the Red Bulls. The recent Newcastle United rumors are also of some interest, as a return to England would seem premature after less than years. According to the article, Thelwell “still has a residence in Staffordshire, remains a regular visitor to Molineux [Stadium], and has been spotted at Wolves [matches] since he departed.”

I wonder if he picked up some Nando’s while he was there. Do people still make Nando’s jokes? That feels like an outdated reference.

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Jesse Marsch had a rough start to his time at RB Leipzig, no two ways about it. His shift from the 4-3-3 formation to a 3-5-2 appears to have improved the club’s overall standing in the Bundesliga table. Total Football Analysis has more on the tactical decision.

“The greatest difference [between] a 3-5-2 and a 4-3-3 was the number of central defenders,” writes Pak Pakhei. “With an additional player at the back, the Leipzig players were braver to step up and press. This gave them more confidence to close the wide spaces while they also had the front five to dominate the central spaces… The difference between the 3-5-2 and a back four was just the additional player on the ball side, but that one player made a huge difference in the press.”

Do I think it’s a coincidence that Marsch and Gerhard Struber went away from their preferred four-player back lines and adopted the 3-5-2? That’s possible. However, with Red Bull, some level of collaboration and overarching tactical guidelines should be hypothesized, if not assumed.

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Red Bulls goalkeeper Carlos Coronel was interviewed by Território MLS. The on-loan Salzburger discussed his thoughts on MLS and his teammates. Readers won’t need more than one guess as to whom he is closest, unless you’re really stupid.

“I started to have contact with Fábio when we were in Brazil,” said Coronel. “Right, it was because of corona we had complications to get the visa for a whole process and in this process they had already been talking to Fábio. We were creating a bond and, when I got here, of course I could help him a lot with the league. We looked for a place together. We do everything together. Having a Brazilian here is a lot of help. It also helps in adapting to the club.”

The number one also touched on his future, stating that he would be “very happy” to stay in New York.

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KVC Westerlo rolled past Lierse Kempenzonen, 5-1, in Belgian First Division B action. The club is now ten points clear at the top of the table. Goalkeeper David Jensen was beaten from close range on a scramble following a corner kick and was blameless.

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Al-Taawoun fell to Al-Batin, 3-2, in the Saudi Professional League. Alejandro “Kaku” Gamarra did not play due to a positive COVID test during his time with the Paraguay national team. The Cooperation are stuck in the relegation zone with ten points from 12 matches.

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The Red Bulls probably aren’t signing Sebastián Sosa Sánchez. However, if they were, there’s now more competition in the form of the 2014 Copa Libertadores champions, San Lorenzo. Newell’s Old Boys Estudiantes, a few Brazilian outfits, “two teams from Qatar, and three from MLS” are also reportedly interested.

Sánchez intends to sign a one-year contract renewal with Patronato out of loyalty. The new contract features “a high exit clause,” but the club is “willing to talk about a sale at a lower value.” His agent shared that the striker “doesn’t want to rush” and enjoys Argentine football a lot.”

San Lorenzo’s recruitment strategy may be taking a page out of the Red Bulls’ book. The club is reportedly also looking to sign his brother, Nicolás. Remember those jokes from five years ago? What fun.

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The Azerbaijan adventure of Anatole Abang may be drawing to a close. His contract expires in December, after which Keşla FK’s highest paid player might not return. According to Sportinfo, the striker has an offer from clubs in Poland and Cyprus.

Keşla has yet to extend his deal, possibly symptomatic of what is described as a “deteriorating financial situation.” Abang reportedly remains “unfamiliar” with the club’s position, forcing the exploration of other options. The 25-year-old has three goals this season.

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Jan Gunnar Solli is competing again, this time on a reality television competition. The midfielder-defender will be appearing on the upcoming season of Fangene På Fortet, the Norwegian syndication of the wildly popular French series Ford Boyard. It’s sort of a combination between Survivor and Fear Factor but with 48 celebrities divided into three teams.

This is, of course, Solli’s encore brush with reality television after finishing in second place on the 2018 season of Skal vi danse? (Shall We Dance?). And, no, he wasn’t dating his partner from the competition. They had “a very professional relationship.” So stop asking.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Flora of Englewood.

Hopefully one of the challenges involves spinning records at halftime of a playoff match.

Thank you, Flora. I don’t know if that would make for exciting television… or in-game entertainment.

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Do you have a story you’d like to submit to the Expert Guide? Email us at bencorkOAM@gmail.com or send a DM to @Once_A_Metro on Twitter.