Americans Abroad Notes: AZ plans late Altidore release, Guzan named POY, and more

SadJozyAltidore (Getty)

By FRANCO PANIZO

Remember that ordeal last summer in which AZ Alkmaar refused to release Jozy Altidore to the U.S. Men’s National Team until they absolutely had to, forcing him to miss a vital chunk of the team’s preparatory camp?

Well, it’s going to happen again in a few weeks’ time.

Altidore told the Soccer Today podcast on Tuesday that AZ has told him that he will not be released for the upcoming U.S. camp until the FIFA mandated date of June 3. That means the in-form striker will miss two friendlies against Belgium and Germany on May 29 and June 2, respectively, and a significant portion of Jurgen Klinsmann’s planned camp ahead of a trio of World Cup qualifiers.

“Hopefully I get called in but I won’t be participating in any of the games up until I would get released three to four days before the (World Cup qualifier) against Jamaica away (on June 7),” said Altidore. ” That would be the earliest AZ would release me.”

Altidore, who is expected to be sold by AZ during the upcoming transfer window, experienced a similar situation last summer when the Eredivisie club refused to release him until they absolutely had to. As a result, Altidore joined the U.S. camp late and he struggled to break into the starting lineup for World Cup qualifiers as he had lost some of his fitness and form.

AZ’s season ends on May 12. The U.S. team is expected to begin their training camp not too long after.

Here are more Americans Abroad notes:

GUZAN NAMED ASTON VILLA’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR BY BOTH FANS AND TEAMMATES

Brad Guzan has been downright heroic for much of his first season as Aston Villa’s starting goalkeeper and he earned some well-deserved recognition for that on Tuesday. Guzan won both the player- and fan-voted Player of the Year prizes at the Villans’ end-of-season awards dinner thanks to his big season in between the pipes.

Guzan, who up to this point in the Premiership campaign has five cleansheets and 109 saves, joins Clint Dempsey (Fulham in 2010-11 and 2011-12) and Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanders in 2010-11) as Americans who recently won the top individual honor for their Premier League clubs.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HOPES VANISH FOR BRADLEY, ROMA WITH LOSS TO CHIEVO

Michael Bradley and AS Roma’s dreams of playing in next season’s UEFA Champions League came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday, as they suffered a 1-0 loss to Chievo Verona. Roma’s chances of playing in the competition next season were always slim, but they officially came to an end when Chievo scored at the death of their Serie A clash at the Stadio Olimpico. Bradley did not start against his former club, but he did come off the bench to play the final 13 minutes.

Bradley and Roma will now set their sights on trying to lock up a spot in next season’s Europa League, which they can do by either finishing, at worst, in fifth place in the Serie A standings or by winning the Coppa Italia final against rivals Lazio on May 26.

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What do you think of these developments?  Frustrated with AZ’s handling of Altidore? Impressed with Guzan’s award haul? Think Roma can reach the Champions League next year?

Share your thoughts below.

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110 Responses to Americans Abroad Notes: AZ plans late Altidore release, Guzan named POY, and more

  1. ChiTown says:

    So Jozy most likely misses at least the Jamaica qualifier.

    • Hogatroge says:

      Not necessarily. It’s up to Klinsmann whether he plays then or not.

      This type of situation is beyond his control. Even if Jozy had more clout with the team, it wouldn’t matter since they are selling him and want to minimize his chances of getting hurt.

    • Hogatroge says:

      He will miss the Belgium & Germany friendlies, not the qualifiers, btw.

      • ChiTown says:

        He is released 3 or 4 days before the qualifier, which means he will miss all of the camp, will be out of shape and have to fly 10+ hours just days before the match.

        He won’t be playing.

        • Mike Santoro says:

          Since AZ most liekly wont have any games or practices Jozy can be in the US already and go through some workouts as if he was working out on his own. Just cant do any team scrimmages or friendlies. I think this is being made a bigger deal than it is. AZ cant keep him in Netherlands until June 3rd.

        • Tony in Quakeland says:

          I’d fire him for that alone

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      All over the world, guys come to their national teams jsut a few days ahead of game. This is meaningless as far as playing in the qualifier is concerned,

  2. Tim says:

    So is there a valid reason for them holding Jozy or are they trying to prove some kind of point?

    • Hogatroge says:

      They are selling him this summer and don’t want to get him injured beforehand.

      • biff says:

        whooooa, Hogatroge. AZ are selling Jozy? Can you cite a source for this news?

        • keith says:

          The article actually says that Altidore “is expected to be sold by AZ during the upcoming transfer window”

        • ChiTown says:

          You could, you know, read the article.

          “Altidore, who is expected to be sold by AZ during the upcoming transfer window, experienced a similar situation last summer when the Eredivisie club refused to release him until they absolutely had to.”

    • NC Jeff says:

      Only one I can think of is they want to “protect” him by limiting his play … and by extension, also protecting what he could bring them in a trade. Of course, that’s backwards thinking … he’s probably more likely to get injured by trying to go full-speed after a few weeks off.

      That said, is Alkmaar doing ANYTHING between May 12 & June 3 for which they can’t bear to be w/o him? They even going to hold a practice? Ought to be a body to which he could appeal.

      • Rory says:

        If he is sold, won’t his new team want to have him in-house as much as possible? So even an early sale won’t free him up, right?

    • WG says:

      Sponsor demands is one. That it is highly likely Jozy will remain with AZ is another. He is the face of AZ, and I can see them using him for PR.

      Here’s an example of his importance to AZ and their fans -

      link to az.nl

      • TomG says:

        They’re a feeder club in a feeder league. They buy players like Jozy to play for a few years and sell them for a profit. Last year, Rasmus Elm was the face of AZ, but that didn’t stop them from selling him.

        • WG says:

          While you’d be generally correct about that, AZ is set to sell Adam Maher for 18 million+ Euros. Ernie Stewart has stated that they plan to offer Jozy higher wages, and to sign better players with the money. It might be an feint to drive his asking price up, it might not be.

          Also, Elm pushed for his transfer, and Jozy has stated a willingness to remain.

          • TomG says:

            Good points, WG. It could easily be a feint, though and Ives has been pretty adamant in his opinion that Jozy will be sold this summer. He’s usually on target re: these things. Personally, I think it’s time for him, though I know he’s comfortable and learning a lot at AZ.

  3. ChicitytoDc says:

    Yo @chitown you think T Boyd gets the call up top?

  4. Tom Snyder says:

    Can anyone explain to me why they would not release him until June 3 when their season ends May 12? Is it a concern about him getting injured while on international duty and potentially reducing his transfer value or something else?

    • Hunt Daddy says:

      That has to be the reason, but it seems counterintuitive to me. Wouldn’t he be more prone to injury by playing in those qualifiers lacking full match-fitness? All parties would be better served if he maintained his fitness levels by training in a competitive environment for that 3 week break between AZ’s close of season and WCQ.

      Ridiculous. I feel bad for the guy.

    • fischy says:

      That’s the only possible reason I can think of…but I’d be interested in hearing other ideas.

    • Mig says:

      This does give them more time ot work out a transfer right at the beginning of the transfer window so that is a possibility. Then again, they did it last year too so maybe it is just club policy.

    • patrick says:

      You nailed it on the head. Protect your investment

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Technically speaking release of players for a friendly is not mandatory. But rules on clubs controlling players seem to have the unstated premise that the team is in-season and thus can be controlling their player in this way. The past two years it’s been a sponsor junket and asset protection and I can’t believe that’s FIFA’s intent, is to empower clubs over their offseasons.

      I generally like Earnie Stewart but I wonder if the people who’ve written puff pieces touting his work at AZ will adjust to this bending of the rules regarding a fellow American.

  5. Alexandria says:

    What a joke are they not releasing Dutch players as well?

    • Nicholas says:

      I don’t think they’ll have a Dutch player called into the Netherlands squad for WC Qualifying. Markus Henriksen will probably get called in for Norway. Have to think he’ll get equal treatment, but we’ll see.

    • WG says:

      Adam Maher is the only current member of the Dutch National team on AZ’s roster. But, no, I don’t think they would refuse to release him for national team duty.

  6. KenC says:

    Can someone speak to Earnie Stewart about this? I mean, wouldn’t Jozy be worth more if he does well against Belgium and Germany? Won’t Jozy be more at risk if he doesn’t get to train before the qualifiers?

    • Gary Page says:

      What I was thinking. You would think Ernie Stewart, of all people, would be sympathetic towards Jozy’s situation. Stewart had something like 85 US caps. This decision must have been made at a level higher than his.

      • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

        Earnie Stewart works for AZ now. AZ’s interests are Earnie Stewart’s interests. I’m sure he is sympathetic to Jozy, but his job is to protect AZ’s interests…

  7. biff says:

    I can’t help but think that if Jozy expressed to AZ team management that USMNT duty is important to him and that he wants to join the team in May, then they would release him. Quite frankly, Jozy’s case last May, which actually was a pleasure cruise for the AZ team in the Caribbean that I imagine Jozy enjoyed quite a bit, is the only one I have heard of. Is there another pleasure cruise planned that Jozy can’t miss?

    In any case, if Jozy does not show it will give other forwards a chance to show Klinsmann that they to do what Jozy has failed to do in a US shirt since summer of 2011, and that is score a goal. I think he is at 16 games now withouth a goal, twice as long as Wondo’s goalless streak.

    • Mig says:

      Why would you think that Jozy’s statement of desire to be released would have any impact? I suppose it could but there is no evidence for it. Frankly, I’m thinking of “A Few Good Men”:

      “I strenuously object”? Is that how it works? Hm? “Objection.” “Overruled.” “Oh, no, no, no. No, I STRENUOUSLY object.” “Oh. Well, if you strenuously object then I should take some time to reconsider.”

      • TomG says:

        Agreed. It would only make him look like a malcontent.

      • biff says:

        Last year Jozy strolled into camp late because he went on a pleasure cruise with the team. No one can convince me that the team would not have agreed had Jozy last year asked to be allowed to skip the cruise so he could join the USMNT camp in order to be fit to represent his country in WCQ games. And in reading comments from Klinsmann, it appears that Klinsmann felt this way also and was peeved when Jozy chose to go to the beach rather than join the team. Klinsmann also has been quote that there were some major issues with Jozy, including a bad attitude in camp after he arrived late. And we all all remember when Jozy stopped running against Guatemela right as Michael Bradley fed him with a perfect pass in the penalty box for an almost certain goal, a lost goal that cost us two valuable points.

        And, TomG, I really doubt that any coach or club sport director is going to brand a player a malcontent for wanting to represent his country at best fitness levels possible for key WCQ games. I just don’t buy it, and if the team is truly trying to block Jozy’s release then I think Jozy needs to make his national team priorities clear to AZ or he needs to give a better explanation of why is not joining the team sooner.

        Can anyone remember this happening before, a club refusing to release a player after the end of the season when there are no more games and no more practices, with another USMNT player? In any case, I have a feeling pressure will be intense on AZ and Jozy will end up playing against Belgium and Germany in order to be at top fitness for the WCQ games.

        • WG says:

          biff, you’re forgetting about sponsor commitments. From the ESPN interview, it sounds like AFAS wants Jozy for corporate functions.

        • QuakerOtis says:

          “No one can convince me that the team would not have agreed had Jozy last year asked to be allowed to skip the cruise so he could join the USMNT camp in order to be fit to represent his country in WCQ games.”

          “I just don’t buy it, and if the team is truly trying to block Jozy’s release then I think Jozy needs to make his national team priorities clear to AZ or he needs to give a better explanation of why is not joining the team sooner.”

          So you don’t believe Jozy and won’t accept any evidence or counterargument that might undermine your own view. And yet, you provide nothing yourself… why post?

          • bryan says:

            this is my annoyance with it too. the post was created out of PURE guessing and NO actual facts with a statement claiming NO ONE can convince him otherwise…facts or no facts. that makes no sense.

        • TomG says:

          Not a coach or management – the media and fanbase. Look how much flack Deuce got with his little power play this summer.

    • bryan says:

      dude give me a break. you don’t think he expressed his interest?! you truly believe that? everything is a conspiracy with you. i think you make good points a lot of the time but you always have some conspiracy theory in regards to US players.

      there was an ESPN interview about the AZ sponsor requesting Jozy be on the cruise. and Jozy made it clear, at least i remember it that way, that he would have rather been with the US team.

      my point is, not everything is some conspiracy and you have no facts to base your statements on regarding this. that’s why i find it annoying. i love when you provide insight and links to German news but spreading BS like this is ridiculous.

      it’s almost annoying as the SAF thread with everyone creating rumors out of thin air about Howard or Guzan going to MU.

  8. biff says:

    Apparently De Rossi did a ridiculous dive yesterday in the Roma-Chievo match. Link down below. I have not followed Chievo much this year, but last year when MB was playing for them I started liking the team. Some real characters on that team and no one can accuse them of not playing with heart and to whup Roma in Rome is a great victory.

    link to youtube.com

  9. Shane says:

    Very disappointing and something Klinsmann should be able to work out with AZ. Just make a deal about the training he will do and the number of minutes he will see in the friendlies, even if that number is zero. He has to be with the team.

    • ChiTown says:

      How is this something Klinsmann should be able to work out? He has zero leverage and these people clearly will give no leeway.

      • Shane says:

        By getting on the phone to AZ’s American director and finding out why they wont release him and then making a deal that will satisfy the club’s concerns. For Klinsmann this will also mean behaving as if he isnt God’s only gift to the world.

    • GW says:

      Shane,

      I don’t know about Earnie Stewart but JK and Verbeek have been clashing for a while.

      This conflict has roots that go back a ways:

      From US Soccer Players:

      ” The trouble started with the change in US coach. Verbeek had a deal with former National Team coach Bob Bradley. No Altidore for the September friendlies as he settles in with AZ. Considering how well that settling in process has gone, keeping Altidore in Holland for the September dates took on an even greater importance. Sending Altidore to LA was simply not in Verbeek’s plans.

      Enter new National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who made it clear early and often that he would be choosing a first choice squad whenever possible. With the September dates already set on the schedule before Klinsmann took over, the European National Teamers got the call to travel to Los Angeles for a Friday fixture, and then Belgium on Tuesday.

      The travel, plus the training, plus the international fixtures themselves, gives European coaches good reason to be miffed when their American players are called up for friendly games split between the US and Europe. Needless to say, for Verbeek this was a problem.

      Verbeek, being the club coach and beholden to FIFA rules that require he release Altidore at Klinsmann’s request, isn’t beholden to any rule that says he must hold his tongue. He didn’t, and let fly with venom to Voetbal International :

      “That’s eleven hours flying. And then that doesn’t factor in the time difference. This is very dumb of Klinsmann. This serves no one… I have tried to stop it, but he did not appear lenient. And Jozy himself said he didn’t want to go… Klinsmann has been appointed the successor to Bradley and clearly he wants to draw his own lines. Whereas it concerns all parties, is it not more important that Jozy gets fit faster? It is pure self-importance from a man who had but one year as manager with a club and got fired. That says enough.”

      So we know at least two things. 1) Verbeek isn’t shy with his opinion, and 2) Klinsmann’s plans go beyond the desires of a European club coach. Might as well make that three, the US is the latest in a club vs country dustup.

      Klinsmann only has so many opportunities, working within the limits of the international game, to bring players in and run them through their paces. He has brought urgency with him to the job, something that wasn’t in play when Bob Bradley reportedly agreed not to call Altidore. Because of that urgency, Klinsmann seems to have no problem rubbing club managers the wrong way if he deems it necessary. The question then, is whether it’s worth it, both for Altidore’s immediate fitness and the striker’s fortunes at AZ Alkmaar.”

  10. Rory says:

    Good for Guzan… My mind was blown at the start of the year when Aston Villa fans were calling for Shay to be back in goal despite Guzan’s incredible play.

    • Jamie Z. says:

      There were very few Villa supporters doing that at any point during the season. His reception and popularity have been overwhelming.

  11. David M says:

    Gives Klinsmann an excuse not to play Jozy.

    I can’t help but think that missing the camp might be a good thing. Has everyone forgotten the ridiculous, grueling, three-practices-a-day camp at the same time last year, followed by five games in just over two weeks? Instead of giving players some rest at the end of the exhausting European season, Klinsmann decided to tire them out completely. The team looked good in the first game (against Scotland), but with each game it looked worse and worse and was visibly dragging in the qualifiers against Antigua and Guatemala. I’m not surprised that Klinsmann is not learning from his mistakes.

    • ChiTown says:

      So Klinsmann hasn’t yet done what you’re accusing him of doing, but you’re not surprised he hasn’t learned to not do what he hasn’t done.

      Dude. Seriously?

      • David M says:

        Klinsmann hasn’t done what? Hasn’t called a national team camp for May? Hasn’t scheduled two friendlies prior to three qualifiers for a total of five games in three weeks?

        • ChiTown says:

          There’s a full 5 days between the last friendly and the qualifier. Any professional athlete can recover in far less time than that for a big match.

          And there’s a reason the camp is 24-26 players. You act as if the same starting XI is going to be out for every game or that this isn’t like a club schedule.

          5 games in 3 weeks is fairly standard for a club schedule. If you think our players can’t handle that–then Klinsmann should absolutely be pushing them to better fitness.

          • David M says:

            5 games in 3 weeks is fairly standard for a club schedule. But not after a long season. Every World Cup, which occurs at same time frame, we hear top teams complaining about how tired their players are. You want your players fresh and rested, not driven to exhaustion, for important games.

            It’s quite telling that for years, the US players were known for their superior conditioning, if nothing else. It seemed that we could at least always outrun other teams. Klinsmann decided that the conditioning was lacking. Yet under him, the team very often runs out of steam midway through the second half.

            And as far as playing the same players … that’s exactly what bugged me so much last year. Howard, Boca, Cherundolo, Jones, Bradley, for example, played, and mostly without any subs, in all three friendlies. Why, for example, did Howard have to play in all of them? Guzan only came on once, for less than 30 minutes, in the Scotland game. Why not try out different goalies?

            Bradley and Jones played every minute of those three friendlies (with the exception of Jones being subbed in the 80th minute of the Brazil game). Those are two players who by the nature of their positions are expected to do the most running on the team — why did they have to play so much in meaningless friendlies?

            • bryan says:

              “5 games in 3 weeks is fairly standard for a club schedule. But not after a long season.”

              dude, that literally cannot be possible. the club schedule is a part of the long season in which games are scheduled similar to 5 games in 3 weeks.

        • Shane says:

          David. ChiTown is in denial, an obvious Klinsmann fanboy despite the mountains of evidence regarding his ineptitude

  12. uDaMan says:

    More common than you would think. The only reason you don’t generally hear this is, most US players are not young and are not the type that command big transfers.

    Jozy will. But in general, this happens to many players and many teams. Not saying its a “good thing” but saying its “a thing” that happens often to other national teams.

  13. uDaMan says:

    More common than you think. Happens generally to young players who can command big transfers. Happens to other national teams all the time. We don’t see it as often, because the US is new at exporting young expensive players out.

  14. RK says:

    AZ knows that Jozy will look horrible for the USMNT and won’t score, decreasing his transfer price.

  15. Neruda says:

    Not sure if anyone has already pointed out that AZ GM (not sure of title) Ernie Stewart who is a former usmnt player. It’s odd that Stewart wouldn’t let altidore go for NT tune up games being a former player for the same team. Of course the owner and coach have a say as we’ll and maybe Stewart is just guarding his biggest asset more than anything.

    • QuakerOtis says:

      Maybe Ernie likes his job… and also likes being good at it?

    • GW says:

      Neruda,

      Doc Rivers use to play for the Knicks and the Spurs. He also used to coach Orlando.

      As coach of the Celtics do you really think he has a problem beating the snot out of those teams if he can?

  16. Dennis says:

    Interesting that Roma’s coach has now lost (Chievo) and tied (last place Pescara) games Roma should have won by not starting all the usual starters (including Bradley) and bringing them on too late to really impact the game. What was he thinking, knowing that the 3 points were vital against Chievo to any shot at CL play, he chose to replace 5 starters from the team that beat Fiorentina?

    • TomG says:

      He may have given up on CL already? It was a slim prospect to begin with.

    • Mig says:

      Actually, they have had a bit of squad rotation going on for 10 months. I imagine after the big win vs. Fiorentina, they figured to beat Chievo Verona at home. The Copa final is important I believe as is making Europa league. In retrospect, it appears to be a mistake because this loss puts that in jeopardy too. Interesting decisions.

      • Mig says:

        10 weeks, not months. Sorry

      • danny says:

        They still kept a lot of their starters including De Rossi and Totti. I don’t get why they didn’t start Bradley who is probably one of their best conditioned players. This is bad loss. They should be worried about keeping a Europa league spot (4th or 5th place) and not gaining a Champion’s League one.

    • biff says:

      what place do they need for europa league?

    • Sly says:

      There was some internet chatter about moving Osvaldo (madness for anything short of 25 mil doubt anyone in Serie A can afford it). Maybe there is space for Jozy with the American owners and 7 million price tag.

  17. OB Rick says:

    Happy for Guzan. And F_______ AZ!

  18. Brett says:

    Why is everyone assuming they want to sell him this summer? He’s a hugely popular player for AZ, and cheap relative to other strikers with his production rate. Not only that, it’d be terrible for Jozy to get back on the club carousel and have to, again, earn his way into a team and fight for steady minutes. I think he should extend his deal, stay there for another couple years, and then go on a transfer to a team that will know he can produce. His play has improved so much being in the Eredivisie, why make him adjust to a whole new style of play when he’s just coming into his own?

    As for his national team prospects, this is the price you pay for being a key component of your club. It sucks, but countries with successful talent production have this issue all the time. Someone else has to step in. A country of our size and ethnic diversity should be able to produce more than one international-quality scorer.

    • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

      It’s pretty well known there has been big money interest from a few European clubs. The Dutch league is a feeder league, and most of its teams don’t have the financial resources to turn down that kind of money. They buy low and sell high. Jozy is currently a perfect example of that. Everyone is just putting 2 and 2 together

    • bryan says:

      um because Verbeek specifically said he expects Jozy to be sold. yes, Earnie came out and said he would like to keep Jozy, but the fact remains it IS a real possibility he will be sold.

  19. Jamie Z. says:

    I’m sure some moron will find a way to blame this Jozy/AZ thing on Jürgen Klinsma—oh wait, never mind, it’s already happened.

    • Shane says:

      A history of botched call-ups will tend to do this to a manager when he has yet another one

  20. 1234 says:

    Way to go GUZAN. This is the start of a 10 year fantastic career in the PL

  21. 1234 says:

    It sucks but also let others get a chance. Boyd, Gomez, EJ, Wondo. Either of those 4 could start

    • biff says:

      agree with that. would like to see gomez and/or EJ finally get a chance up top rather than at the wings.

      By the way, 1234, why do you change your SBI user name ever day or two?

    • Lost in Space says:

      Boyd & Gomez I’m fine with getting minutes in Jozy’s place for the friendlies.
      Wondo is worthless…..and hasn’t EJ been sidelined for the past month due to injury?
      There has to be other’s who have actually been playing or who haven’t had a chance with the National Team who desirve a chance over Wondo.

  22. Shane says:

    first time i saw Guzan play he let a ball roll through his hands. I cant believe the GK you see now is the same player. Many props to Brad. Well done

    • QuakerOtis says:

      +1

      I saw a toothless Quakes team put 3 past him at Spartan Stadium. He looked lost. Now look at him.

  23. Randy says:

    If I’m Jozy I’d tell AZ that unless I’m allowed an extra week of training with the US (no friendlies) I might not be fit for the Dutch cup final.

    • GW says:

      Randy,

      Do you often tell your boss to go F##K himself?

      So what do you do for a living?

  24. Trey says:

    Happy for Guzan and for not getting relegated. And as for Jozy, it’s not all bad. We have other players who can fill the role.

  25. bryan says:

    great for Guzan! well done.

    as for Jozy, i hope Klinsmann gets on the phone with AZ and figures out what is going on (assuming he hasn’t already). my guess is this situation is currently being worked out. just because news came out to the public about this today does not mean USSF hasn’t been well aware of the situation before it went public. hopefully we learn more soon so speculation doesn’t take over.

    i also want clarification on if he can join the team, but just can’t play. can AZ even prevent Altidore from leaving the country? the season will be over so i’m curious how that works given players would generally leave for vacation.

  26. ThaDeuce says:

    What do you think of these developments? Frustrated with AZ’s handling of Altidore? Impressed with Guzan’s award haul? Think Roma can reach the Champions League next year?

    Yes, yes, and yes!