The Fiorentina coach,Cesare Prandelli is called "Il Mago di Orz" -- the Wizard of Orz -- in honour of his birthplace, Orzinuovi.He lived up to the nickname.His team outplayed Liverpool and sent them home a humbler and chastened side.
The score was 2 - 0 at full time,both goals coming from Jovetic.Liverpool played like a combination of a heartless tin man and a brainless scarecrow leaving Benitez with smoke coming out of his ears.
September 2009 Archives
The Fiorentina coach,Cesare Prandelli is called "Il Mago di Orz" -- the Wizard of Orz -- in honour of his birthplace, Orzinuovi.He lived up to the nickname.His team outplayed Liverpool and sent them home a humbler and chastened side.
This must be some kind of record surely.To lose two games in the same tournament by the same margin of 8 goals to zero is some achievement.Their first loss was to Spain.Now they have managed to lose 8 - 0 to Venezuela.It must be part of their strategy.
This goal gainst Malaga made it a record 5 goals in 5 games for Ibrahimovic.The goal comes after a great pass from Messi.He is saying thanks to his buddies for all their help,
Meanwhile poor old Ronaldo is seen here being cheered up by old friend Scolari.
He had matched Ibrahimovic goal for goal uptil Real Madrid's 5th game against Tenerife.He couldn't score in that game even though they won 3 - 0 .
Hence the sadness and bitter tears.
Victory is the missing element in the formula.Here are some of the new faces Maradona is introducing into the equation to try and make it yield better results.Pablo Aimar,Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain to name just three.
Also making the team are Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta and Emiliano Insua of Liverpool.
Ancelotti missed a personal milestone.He missed out on a chance to equal a Premier League best start to the season of seven consecutive victories record.Chelsea crumbled mysteriously against Wigan. Apart from losing the game 3 -1 they also lost Petr Cech to a red card.
As he staggered off the pitch he (Ancelotti ,not Cech) was heard saying in a voice broken with sorrow.... "why?"
Two sets of hat tricks in one EPL evening.Torres was totally on fire in Liverpool's 6 -1 victory over Hull scoring the first three goals with breathtaking elegance.
First goal ..
and the second one ....
and the third ...
Robbie Keane was the second hat trickster of the evening.It was more than a hat trick - he scored four goals as Tottenham beat Burnley 5 - 0 .
First things first.Where's Tahiti?
The game was part of the ongoing FIFA under 20 World Cup being played in Egypt.(Where's Egypt question answered here)
Blatter is displeased with clubs for not releasing their players for the same and is not keeping quiet about it....
."It's not right that the big European clubs don't free up their young players for the World Cup, when they don't have any obligations and are not in the first team.
"When they aren't playing they can't gain experience. It's better for them to enjoy the second major world competition than to stay at home warming the substitutes bench." . ...Which is quite a sensible thing to say actually .It must be one of his better days.
The goals of the rout below...
Tottenham Spurs beat Preston North End 5 -1 in a Carling Cup game during which Peter Crouch scored a hat trick thereby impressing Fabio Capello to no end.
Ibramovic has scored a goal in all the four La Liga games that Barcelona have played so far.Cristiano Ronaldo,who was thinking of breaking the same record with respect to Real Madrid will now have to come up with five in five to really make it count as a new record.They are playing Villareal sometime soon so we will have to wait and see if the record goes to him or stays with Ibramovich.
Meanwhile the goals from the Barca - Racing Santander game...
Research done by the Guardian on all of United's league matches at Old Trafford since the start of the 2006-07 season has turned up some startling stats.
According to them ...." on average, there has been over a minute extra added by referees when United do not have the lead after 90 minutes, compared to when they are in front. In 48 games when United were ahead, the average amount of stoppage time was 191.35 seconds. In 12 matches when United were drawing or losing there was an average of 257.17sec."
More on that research here..
The Marc Hughes - Ferguson history of mutual mistrust here..
Now let's get that Middle East peace process back on track... Peace!
Never one to shy away from the controversial here's Graham Poll on the business of the Owen scoring his goal six minutes into a four minute extra time period.
He says one of the rules that refs have to remember at Old Trafford is that "play continues until Man U win!"
Sir Alex Ferguson on the win:
"We gave three goals away today. It could have been an embarrassment - we could have won 6-0 or 7-0 today. But in the end we still we won one of the best Manchester derbies. We have a neighbour, and sometimes neighbours are noisy, but we showed our power today and we get on with life."
We have a neighbour and sometimes they are noisy? You could not be more dismissive.
Of course, City will bemoan the amount of extra time put on but Owen could not have scored a bigger goal than that extra time killer.
The match itself was the sort which gives managers instant hypertension.
City's defense allowed Rooney to walk in with the first goal. Ben Foster was criminal in his ill advised charge and then dithered with the clearance as Tevez snatched the ball away. Anderson went to sleep as Barry charged in to receive Tevez's pass to score his first goal and equalize for City.
Fletcher was left unmarked by Barry to head his goal giving United the lead. John O'Shea was caught backpedaling against Bellamy giving acres of space for him to blast home to restore parity. Fletcher again is the beneficiary of a defensive reprieve as he heads the ball in after an unchecked run into goal. Soon after Rio Ferdinand has a meltdown giving the ball away and then futilely trying to chase Bellamy down as the ex-Liverpool man scores his second goal.
In the dying minute of extra time, Giggs splits the out of sorts City defense to find Michael Owen who slots the ball from an angle in a cool, clinical finish.
Mark Hughes has questions to ask of his defense and Sir Alex might be reminded of the Liverpool game when Nemanja Vidic had a very forgettable day. Shay Given was as good as Ben Foster was bad. In the end, the club which has probably scored more goals in extra time or close to end of regulation than any other, came out winners. Soccerblog will try and do a statistical analysis to see if this is indeed true.
Owen scores a 95th minute winner and Sir Alex Ferguson says the above.Or words to that effect.
Craig Bellamy scored two equalisers for Man City and the score was tied 3 all when Owen came on as a late sub.The winning goal however was scored in the 6th minute of the four minutes of added time.Figure that out.
Some Messi quotes after he had scored two out of the five goals against Atletico Madrid.
"Their defence put some strong challenges in, but that is part of football.I am happy with this week, with the contract renewal and this win. I have always felt loved here.The club has understood my feelings.The new contract is not about the money, it is about feelings."
Torres' scored the winner 15 minutes from time.West Ham ended at the wrong side of the 3 -2 scoreline.And Benitez is over the moon.
Wigan were outplayed.Four zero is a pretty convincing win.However .......
Just when he may have been thinking that things could not possibly get worse the Italian cops busted in and took his ear rings away.This was for not paying his taxes when he was playing for Napoli in the 1980's.The earrings were worth £3,600.The Italian news agency ANSA say that his tax bill stands in excess of £33million.If they are collecting that in earrings it works out to about another 915 pairs !
He went to Italy to lose weight.He's losing earrings instead.
Not the best of times for El Diego...
The grass at the Cooperage Football ground in Mumbai is set to get greener,thanks to artificial turf (costing between $500,000 to $600,000) sanctioned by the FIFA.
Eric Harrison and Chrisantha Perera, two FIFA officials, visited the ground on Friday morning from Bangalore, along with All India Football Federation (AIFF) outgoing general secretary Alberto Colaco.The various parameters such as drainage ,security etc were upto the mark - and so they gave the er... green signal.
This interesting historical snippet on the grounds reveals the following..
The Cooperage Grounds along with the Oval Grounds, Parade Grounds (Azad Maidan) and Cross Grounds were once a single stretch called the Bombay Esplanade Grounds, built as an open ground to provide the British India Military an open field of fire against the Malabar pirates who used to plague the nascent city and against the Dutch, Marathas and Sidi Sultan of Janjira who made several attempts to conquer Bombay from the English.
More history here..
Cooperage will be getting the turf under FIFA's Win in India with India programme.
Win in India with India is going to concentrate on developing Indian football at elite level, namely the top two divisions in India.The greening of the turf is one small step for FIFA and one giantish kind of step for Indian Football - hopefully.
Arsene Wenger feels that 80 points will be enough to win the title as bigger teams drop points to the harder pushing smaller teams and Man City, the new billionaires on the block.
His calculations put Chelsea 65 points short with 33 games yet to be played and there is no reason why the Blues can't maintain their fast start. Arsenal may still have a chance at the Premiership but those home games need to be put away. Today, would be a good day to start against Wigan.
Wenger also defended Emmanuel Eboue who had a horrific time last year against Wigan. Brought on for the injured Samir Nasri, Eboue ended up tackling his team mate Kolo Toure and passing to a Wigan player. He left teary eyed as Arsenal fans cheered his exit.
RVP is back but Almunia is still out with a chest infection. Arshavin, Walcott, and Vela are days away with the Mexican having the best chance of returning next week. Almunia's absence means that Vito Mannone gets his second Premiership start after the Stoke City game last season which Arsenal won 4-1.
Wigan had a great beginning with that crackling Hugo Rodellaga goal against Villa, stumbled badly against Wolves, was drubbed in the second half by Man Utd, were barely beaten by Everton, and then righted the ship somewhat with a win against West Ham off a goal by Rodellaga. Under Roberto Martinez, the Latics are playing positive attacking football and are two places below Arsenal.
Titus Bramble and Mario Melchiot have been quite solid with few mistakes made. Wigan's left wing is particularly potent with Charles N'Zogbia and Jason Koumas who can play at both central midfield and at the flanks. The backfield is anchored by hard tackling Hendry Thomas who has made an impressive Wigan debut. Roberto Martinez can also introduce Scott Sinclair, the pacy right winger off the bench.
Look for the Wigan attack to test Mannone through Rodellaga, Koumas, and N'Zogbia through free kicks and long distance bombs. At the back Chris Kirkland provides solid insurance.
Wenger is aware of the threat:
"For me the biggest threat tomorrow is that Wigan look quite solid as a team. If we do not win the ball back [effectively] they will be a big danger because they pass the ball well. They try to have a very positive passing game and that's why, if we are not focused in defending as a team, we will suffer.
The Wayne Rooney flare up where he slammed his boot to the ground and everyone thought it was because he was reacting to being substituted. Juicy Carlos Tevez redux?
Nah, it turns out that he was reacting to Besiktas fans who were spitting upon him. Yes, Rooney was the spittoon for all that Turkish tobacco. And so on the eve of the derby it is a non story, folks. It was not angst at being subbed, it was those pesky fans enacting their version of Gallipoli that made me do it!
If you look at the video, you can see Rooney walking away clearly looking as if he could club a baby seal as Owen is bought on. Feeling a bit miffed at being taken out is perfectly understandable but this PR campaign is taking it a bit too far.
These derbies have not been as one sided as portrayed. Even as Sir Alex foams in the mouth about "cocky" Man City with their SEVEN center forwards, there is enough evidence that City has beaten them in the past with lesser lights. This includes a double in 2007-2008. But here is Nicholas Anelka and Shaun Goater laying them low in 2002. Gary Neville had a very forgettable game.
Anish references the six referee rule that Michel Platini has implemented for the Europa Cup and already David Moyes is irate because he believes that the goal line assistants missed a deliberate foul on Louis Saha by AEK's Juanfran which got the Everton striker sent off as he retaliated.
So why is it not going to work:
The Parallax error. More on it.
The problem of parallax:
Having six referees should minimize parallax error. But it is no given. The orientation and the direction of the referees have to be right and who is to say they were wrong in the first place because parallax is so subjective.
For an explanation of this image, go here
The persistence of vision:
There is a reason moving picture technology works. The brain is limited by the number of images it can process and the human eye's capacity to retain an image fades in about 1/25th of an second. This "virtual memory" is limited and the world moves a whole lot faster than that. The two additional linesman patrol behind the goal where the action takes place and the referees then discuss through radio link what they saw. In the end the referee has to collate all this data and come up with the verdict. There are so many levels of corruption that it becomes a sort of Chinese whispers.
More bodies to direct fan anger at:
Not getting a foul right or awarding an offside goal can potentially lead to physical harm to linesman patrolling the more circumscribed goal space. These linesman may not have anything to do with the ultimate decision but they could become the first targets of fan wrath.
There is already existing video technology which is cheaper and more effective. The purists had a problem with maintaining match continuity but from the looks of it the additional linesman are going to be equally disruptive as referees consult through radio and on the pitch and after all that still not get it right. I keep thinking of the bad tempered days of John McEnroe and Andre Agassi who were terrors to the line judges and referees. The introduction of Hawkeye has changed all that leavening tempers and focusing on match performances. Although with Serena Williams all bets are off the table.
Platini's masterplan to eliminate referee associated problems has been inaugurated.The Europa League kicked off with two extra match officials, one behind each goal.
They are termed "additional assistant referees" - the short form of which is AARs - which is kind of difficult to say without giving offence..!
So these two will prowl the area behind each goal.All those thinking of diving or claiming for goals that never crossed the line will no doubt now have second thoughts.
There is also a suggestion that Platini should now officially call the 'fourth official' the 'sixth official' because of the mathematics involved.(One ref,two linesmen,one chap breathing down the neck of each goal keeper makes 5)
Meanwhile here's Graham Poll on the subject.Remember he was the one who had briefly experimented with three yellow cards.See what he has to say about 6 referees here..
Remember how Maradona crowed he was chosen the best player over Pele in an internet poll.
"What matters is that when the people voted, he came second behind me. Nobody can take that away from me. And there was another vote in Brazil in which he came second behind Ayrton Senna. He needs to stop coming second."
Then added he had played in Europe while his arch rival plied his trade in the inferior South American league.
Well, Pele got in a bit of his own when he said the Maradona was not even the best Argentinian player.
"People talk about the best being Pele or Diego Maradona, but for me the best player ever was Alfredo Di Stefano," he told reporters in Madrid.
"Maradona was a great player, but he could not kick with his right foot and did not score goals with his head. The only time he scored an important goal with his head, it turned out he had used his hand," he added.
Talk about kicking someone when he is down. Ouch. These two have been going back and forth forever. The Di Stefano reference is not new. It was also used by Sepp Blatter to put down Maradona when he was talking about players rights.
But here is George Best on David Beckham. Now this is a put down.
"He cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head the ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's alright".
Saving the world's oldest football club has an emotionally satisfying ring to it. Like bringing back the Elgin Marbles And what grander experiment then taking it from League 2 all the way to the Premier League. But why would anyone want to do it?
Who really owns Notts County is a bit unclear. The new bosses are Munto Finance Limited, a company registered in the BVI, and a subsidiary of a Swiss based consortium called Qadbak Investments Ltd which operates the "Trustees of the Investment Fund".
Qadbak was again in the news recently for buying out Sauber, BMW's Formula I racing team. The League is still trying to establish who is behind Qadbak without which the fit and proper person test cannot be administered. The statement "a Swiss-based foundation which represents the interests of certain Middle East and European based families" does not give many clues. Abdullah bin Saeed al Thani of Dubai and the mover behind the $1.8 billion Golf City boondoggle has denied that he is behind the Notts takeover. But the Qatari Royal family, also the Al Thanis, are known to have a considerable stake in Qadbak. In fact, Qadbak is probably the acronym for Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and Kuwait
Qatar's Al Thanis stand out in their single minded pursuit in putting Qatar on the sports map. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani is the president of the Qatar Football Federation. The effort to put Qatar on the top has had seen many strange twists and turns.
Al Thani wanted to revive the moribund Qatari league and sent their best young talent to Europe to train but the experiment did not pay off. He then lured like the J-League, top European players like Steffan Effenberg to play in the domestic league at considerable expense hoping that this would give the league a boost. It failed too as the Europeans were more interested in the money and not the development part. He even offered millions of pounds to foreign players like Brazil's Ailton and Dede playing in the Bundesliga to change nationalities which FIFA found contravened the rules.
Their latest move has been to adopt Josep Colomer's concept of holding an American Idol type of competition to discover the best talent. Colomer was the assistant coach of the World Cup winning 2002 Brazilian squad and responsible for discovering Leo Messi. For the project he organized more than 800 camps with 6000 volunteers to weed out more than 500,000 children and come up with his 25 top players. Qatar's "Football Dreams" competition is organized on the same lines. This is the biggest talent contest in the history of football and it lasts four weeks ultimately bringing the final three chosen amongst hundreds of thousands of boys to Doha. The contestants are from nine countries in Africa, Paraguay, and Vietnam who go through elimination matches.
The Qataris believe that this is the answer to filling their league and national team with talent so that they can contend for the World Cup. Aspire, the name of their youth academy is being developed as a future La Masia which will fill the footballing world with the next generation of Cesc Fabregas, Iniesta's, and Messi's. Sporting infrastructure like stadiums are being built at frenetic pace. Within this grand scheme lies Qatar's supremely ambitious bid for the 2022 World Cup.
This is where I think Notts County comes in. As a financial investment it serves very little purpose but as a way of embellishing Qatar's resume for 2022 it is a great resume builder. The world's oldest team has a certain emotive appeal and if Notts County were to progress to Premier League status, then FIFA will certainly sit up and take notice. Much of these votes are based on quid pro quo. Subterfuge might be convenient right now but when the time comes the Qataris would like to be paid for their good deeds.
Sir Alex on the run up to the derby which should be lots of fun.
Ferguson said: 'The rivalry has gone up a notch in the last few months, with them signing all those players and then coming up with that advert and all their posters about Carlos Tevez. They've been a bit, how can I put it, cocky. Yes, a bit cocky. They've got seven centre forwards now, which is crazy, just amazing.
I think Sir Alex meant cockamamie. When you exchange that word the statement sounds much more plausible.
Well deserved. There is also the improper conduct charge which is still pending. Adebayor did not contest the violent conduct charge. He is expected to defend himself on the improper conduct charge by putting the onus on the fans.
Cesc Fabregas also reveals that Adebayor gashed him on the calf.
"I think this is a red card here. I was lucky my foot was in the air when it happened."
Emannuel Eboue wasn't exactly complimentary either of his old team mate. And here is Gabriele Marcotti nitpicking RVP's statement having problems with juxtaposing mindless and malicious.
Maybe a better word would have been heedless but seeing the video one gets RVP: It was mindless and malicious. It was mindless because it served no purpose other than the intent to hurt. RVP might have tackled Ade hard but I don't recall him trying to stamp someone's face. A former team mate causing harm and then offering no apology following the match? It is good he spoke up.
Adebayor will miss the derby at Old Trafford, the Carling Cup fixture against Fulham, and a Premier League match against West Ham. Meanwhile Mark Hughes already has Robinho and Roque Santa Cruz on the injury list. Carlos Tevez with his knee injury might just about make an appearance against his old side.
Those fighting qualities which seemed to have disappeared during the City and Man Utd games resurfaced yesterday against Standard Liege.
Yes, it was Liege doing the siege in the first three minutes with Arsenal's self inflicted wounds as Eduardo errant back heel found Elaquim Mangala who blasted his shot into the left corner of goal. Vito Mannone looked disgusted at the cheap giveaway. Even worse was to follow as Eboue was turned inside out by Milan Jovanovic and then fouled in the box by the barest of contact by Gallas. The penalty was converted. Just awful defending and Mannone was probably correct in thinking this would be a long night for him.
Abou Diaby sparked the comeback slipping in a pass for Nicholas Bendtner who ran at an angle and smacked the ball between the goalkeepers legs. The new Bendtner. Diaby's feat was quite impressive as he managed to stave of the challenges of two Liege players. Arsenal were in the match before half time. But it was an atypical outing without the fluid and precise passing.
The equalizer came in controversial fashion with Fabregas posting a free kick that hit Song on the arm and Vermaelen was on hand to toe the ball in. Handball and offside. And as errant Eduardo's back heel was with the first goal giveaway, equally serendipitous was his knee in the winning goal. Different anatomical parts, different results. Even Gallas would have been impressed. The Liege goalie was furious at Alex Witsel for missing his enforcement. A strange sort of subtext there.
So a lot of luck and gumption. But as Arseblog correctly points out we could do with some breaks. The performance itself was erratic with quite a few players who could be treated as no shows. Cesc has slipped into subterranean mode since his bright start. Song, Eboue, and Clichy continue to made questionable decisions. This is getting to be a trend. With Almunia out with a virus or possible "Error Coli" and Fabianski out, Mannone might see more action than previously thought or we can be comfortable with. The list of questions is getting long.
How many have scored a hat-trick in their Champion's League debut game? While the statisticians are busy going through the archives here are the the 3 goals that Grafite came up with in Wolfsburg's 3 -1 win over CSKA Moscow.
Next dream? A call up to the Brazil national squad.
Arsenal scripted a great escape,return from the dead kind of victory against Standard Liege.They were two goals down within the first five minutes.An Eduardo error was responsible for the first one.He made up for that however by scoring a dramatic late winner three minutes from full time after Nicklas Bendtner and Vermaelen had previously made the score equal.More..
Diver's will never be able to get away with it again.Dr Paul Morris, of the University of Portsmouth says that he has cracked the code. He believes that he has perfected the art of detecting when a foul is not a foul but a dive and has identified the telltale sign of the perpetrator. It is called the "Archer's Bow" and recognising it, Morris hopes, could help referees to spot a faker immediately.
The Archer's Bow involves the following -- the holding up of both arms in the air, with open palms, chest thrust out, legs bent at the knee in an "Archer's Bow" position.
Take a look at Rooney's effort here.A classic Archer's bow - or as near to it as you can get.
"This occurs in many dives but, biomechanically, it does not occur in a natural fall," Morris said. "Instead, instinctively, the arms either go down in an attempt to cushion the fall or out to the side for balance.Although this behaviour is absurd, the fraudulent footballer does it to try to deceive the referee into believing that the tackle was illegal. The histrionics are necessary to get the referee's attention. Moving the body like this is completely controlled behaviour, so it clearly doesn't show a genuine fall. The moment both arms go above the shoulder is a clear indication of deception. This behaviour has no national boundaries; everyone does it."
Now take a look at Drogba's technique.Fully aware that refs who have read Dr Morris will be looking for arms above the shoulder - he keeps them well below while diving.It's a half archer's bow.Fiendishly clever.
Being a ref is no picnic.Read more about Dr Morris and his research into diving here..
Standard Liege v Arsenal
UEFA Champions League
Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 19:45
Arsene Wenger prefaces the match with some comments on the Eduardo case. He believed it was the media news cycle which led the UEFA disciplinary panel to jump the gun.
"Sometimes they choose somebody and they say 'let's do him' and everybody jumps on the wagon. It is like that and you have to deal with it but that doesn't mean that we have to deal with paranoia."
The ban has been overturned. It is good to have Eduardo back and not a moment to soon because Arsenal are now looking like the men from Flanders (The World War I reference not the geographical one). At least 6 starters are out. RVP, Arshavin, Almunia, Denilson, Samir Nasri, and Theo Walcott.
Tomas Rosicky who starred in that eventful City game is back and his attacking flair will be much needed. Wenger has the option of playing the 4-2-3-1 with Bendtner up front but with Rosicky in the line up the more attacking 4-4-2 is likely.
Vito Mannone will start at goal as Almunia's back up Lukacz Fabianski is also out with injuries. This is only his second start and his CL debut. The defensive line has to be cognizant of his inexperience and protect him. Standard Liege is an attacking club and are presently on a 15 win streak in the Belgian League. Arsenal have been prone to defensive lapses and the back four need to raise their game.
The danger men are Milan Jovanovic, their inform striker who has already scored five goals in six matches, Dieumerci Mbokani with 31 goals in 61 appearances, and attacking midfielder Igor Camargo (the trio scored 36 goals last season ). Their creative spark is attacking midfielder and captain Steven Defour, who led Standard Liege to their tenth domestic title. Holding midfielder Eliaquim Mangala anchors the backfield.
A talking point is the return of Alex Witsel, the Belgian defensive midfielder suspended for this horrific tackle on Marcin Wasliweski, Anderlecht's defender two weeks ago. With Eduardo's return this could introduce a dynamic that influences the match.
"If somebody stamps on your head in that way, you wouldn't say, 'thank you very much' and turn the other cheek. Only Jesus Christ did that."
Wenger backs Van Persie for speaking out about the unholy incident.
"I don't watch Match of the Day, I watch Coronation Street instead. The omnibus edition."
Portsmouth boss Paul Hart - and who can blame him?
"Phil, if the whole of Abu Dhabi is playing for Arsenal, are you telling me there's a gulf between the two sides?"
Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday, after Phil Thompson mispronounces Abou Diaby's name.
"No need to put your hand up, mate, we know it's you."
ITV commentator when the Croatian goalkeeper raised his hand after the fifth goal went in against England following his error.
Chants of the week:
"We're not English anymore!"
Sang to Slaven Bilic during the thrashing at Wembley.
Delph - I need somebody,
Delph - not just anybody,
Delph - you know I need someone....DEEEEEEEELLLLLPH!"
A song I'd like to get up and running at Villa Park this season in honour of Fabien Delph (Sung to the tune of 'Help' by The Beatles)
More over here >>
Checks into a weight loss clinic in Northern Italy.
How about that Nutrisystems stuff peddled by Dan Marino and Marie Osmond?
The Premier League has brought in protectionism ostensibly in the name of encouraging homegrown talent but what it actually accomplishes is legalize the sort of predatory Gael Kakuta and Paul Pogba type of transfers.
Richard Scudamore in one fell swoop has made the UEFA head honchos happy and preserved the EPL's global brand alive. He already knows the sort of damage that can be done by UEFA's transfer ban on Chelsea and he needs to placate that anger. Its his fig leaf.
From next year expect a minimum allocation of eight homegrown players to each club's 25 man roster. But as already pointed out the definition of "homegrown" is anything but that. It means you can bring foreign teen players, train them for three years at the club till the age of 21, and by that "naturalization" grant them homegrown status. So a Cesc Fabregas, Kiki Macheda or a Gai Assulin will compete with the likes of a Daniel Sturridge or a Wayne Rooney. In fact none of the eight homegrown players need be English.
This quota system legalizes the sort of Gael Kakuta under the radar deal. Guess which clubs benefit from them the most. The big four. Their scouts will line up outside La Masia, Lens, Le Havre, ASEC Mimosa, Beveren and sign up promising youngsters enticing them with visions of first squad duty and bags of swag.
Its funny I should say this being a bit of a lefty when it comes to my politics but the EPL should be left alone. It is the most co-opted global sports brand. People in Ghana watch Chelsea because there is a Michael Essien. Man Utd occupies a special place in the heart of South Koreans because of Park Ji Sung. India has no players but it understands the EPL as a potent connection with the rest of the world.
The need for homegrown talent as an ideal is understandable but there are clubs that already do that with Arsenal, Man Utd, West Ham, Middlesbrough, and City already having well regarded programs. And yes, the English team is doing rather well don''t you think? Jack Wilshere, Daniel Sturridge, Jonny Evans, there is a generation out there keeping English football in good hands for years to come. And as Fabio Capello has ably demonstrated so far, a good coach can get all that talent to work well for you.
Each league has found its way through with the Liga building their ranks with homegrown talent from their canteras, the Serie with players who prefer their insularity and nationalism, and the Bundesliga with their carefully calibrated purchasing. The EPL has never been blessed overtly by any of these attributes, so good old fashioned predation is the order.
What I do think necessary is that if the EPL does spirit these players away there is a prospective compensation package akin to royalties that could be paid out. Institutions like La Masia may not mind being divested of their talented youngsters as long as they are well compensated. If their graduates go on to first squad duty and make regular appearances then pay them a match fee and a percentage of their transfer should they move on. It is a point of pride for these academies that their talent is so sought after but giving a fair share for their hard work in developing that talent is far more important.
So, in the end, I think the EPL introducing such "homegrown talent" is just another glossy brochure but it buys them goodwill from the UEFA and it keeps their status as the most watched league intact and their coffers full.
Plans are afoot to prevent clubs from spending more than they make from their revenues and aim to curb billionaire owners throwing cash around.
The new rules are going to be in place from the 2012/13 season and clubs could be thrown out of European competition if they do not abide by the regulations.
Actually the plans are not just afoot.They have already been passed by the UEFA.
Hit with violent conduct has a nice "violent" feel to it, doesn't it? Kind of an eye for an eye.
Anyways, this is the first part of the FA investigation and the most appropriate one in my mind. Its an open and shut case. The other is the instigation of the Gunner fans with his over the top celebration. He carries a charge of improper conduct.
The violent conduct charge carries with it a possible four match suspension and the improper one a hefty fine with a possible one match suspension.
Now, that is more the chicken and egg story. The near riots that followed have an element of causality on both sides. Each party have fed off their grievances but a steward got hurt and it comes on the heel of some pretty ugly stuff between West Ham and Milwall.
The FA is probably doing the right thing by letting the City police carry on their investigations. However, the FA chairman was quite unimpressed by Adebayor's behaviour which City police also have directly attributed to "causing the opposition fans to be aggravated". It is clear that they feel he carries the burden of proof.
City have their own injury concerns with Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz, and Robinho out so having Adebayor suspended comes at a wrong time when they are gearing up for the big confrontation with Man Utd on Sunday. Not the smartest move by Ade and City pays for his transgressions.
UEFA's appeal court turned down their own disciplinary panel's recommendation of a two match ban for Eduardo. They came to this decision based on no conclusive evidence establishing that the "referee had been deceived."
I think the fact that the disciplinary panel took less than an hour to consider Arsenal's 19 page dossier has something to do with the decision to reverse the ban. Obviously the court thinks that Arsenal was not given a fair shake and that the panel had already pulled the trigger too hastily and callously on the outcome.
There is the feeling that the panel was particularly heedless when it came to Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez, the Spanish referee when he stuck to his statement of not being deceived after being shown the replays. It is not a good omen to cast doubt on the very people who are in the frontline of stopping cheating.
The psychological impact of Eduardo's horrific injury which was a major part in his defense seems to have been callously disregarded by the panel has been reconsidered by the court as legitimate extenuating circumstances. Eduardo never had a reputation as a diver so why start now?
Eduardo himself makes it clear:
"I know perhaps more than anyone else that when you have contact at speed it can be dangerous. I just want to say that I'm a fair player. To score goals you must take your opportunities and I'm not the type of player who needs to be dishonest to score his goals."
In the end it was not such a open and shut case. And it is obvious that UEFA felt that there was more damage to be done in prosecuting the case in such a slipshod manner. They need to catch a Steven Gerrard or a Didier Drogba, players with a reputation for embellishment and no psychological overlays caused by career threatening injuries.
The good news is that Eduardo will be available for the CL encounter against Standard Liege this Wednesday.
Juan Martin Del Potro, only the second Argentinian after Guillermo Vilas to win the US Open and that too beating Roger Federer, might make the Argentinians forget how badly their team is faring in the World Cup qualifiers.
Then again looking at his towering 6'6" frame, if I were Maradona, I see infinite possibilities. A lofted ball to Del Potro would suffice and with his athleticism, it would be in the back of the net in a flash. He grew up playing football so he is not exactly a blank slate. The man is a Boca Juniors fan and is a friend of Mauro Camoranesi who also hails from his town of Tandil.
Plus, he has a hot Playboy model girlfriend who we would love to welcome as a WAG.
A three match ban at the least should settle the fact that Ade came to City to play in their best interest. No, its about him. A personal score to settle with fans which spills over to the players that were his former team mates. A fat paycheck.
Here he shows why he still lives in a bubble.
A goal down. A man down. And they come back and spank Spurs, 3-1. This was a huge test for both clubs. Were Spurs as good as they looked? Was Utd as vulnerable as they seemed?
What is really impressive about the way Man Utd have turned things around is that they are relying on players already within the club. Not expensive imports.
I have to say Ryan Giggs who by now has worn out any meaningful epitaph continues to be evergreen.
Wayne Rooney doing all the heavy lifting a man down and scoring a goal in the process is making Ronaldo's absence less and less noticeable. Patrice Evra was a beast as he essentially took out the dangerous Aaron Lennon. Anderson finally got a goal in his 78th appearance. Darren Fletcher again showed why his suspension in the CL final against Barca was bemoaned by Sir Alex.
The distortion created by Ronaldo all these years is slowly subsiding as players recalibrate and discover a team. The last galactico left the building. Sir Alex will fight tooth and nail to keep Rooney at Old Trafford and the lack of offers from the big spending Liga suggest that they too recognize the former Everton man will probably end his career at the club.
The FA is fast tracking the stamping incident and Adebayor will miss the upcoming derby against Man Utd. There are additional sanctions in store for his celebrations that the police is now saying caused a crowd surge in the stadium which led to a steward being injured.
Seems like justice is being served.
Fabio Capello has led the English team into the World Cup in stunning style. Gone is the despondency at losing out on a 2008 Euro berth under Steve McLaren, the 'The Wally with a Brolly'.
The way England has won is causing an unfamiliar feeling to creep up. They dare to dream. The delicious possibility of adding another World Cup title. Its been over four decades since the 1966 World Cup and since then England have stumbled and stumbled badly with only the 1990 World Cup offering some relief.
And Fabio Capello is leading that brand of optimism:
"Playing in the final would be success," said Capello.
"For now, playing in it will do, rather than winning it. But if people are asking me what my aspiration is, then it is to reach the final."
In 2006, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard created a crippling redundancy in the crowded five man midfield. With very little overlap the midfield was bogged down by stasis and it was only Owen Hargreaves who provided some industry and bustle. Frank Lampard was busy blasting away stratospheric missiles and Peter Crouch waited for the long ball as England stagnated on offense.
With Joe Cole missing, Steven Gerrard has found his space running down the left, cutting inside and dishing off to Rooney running across the center. The slot striker keeps on adding to his assist total. The midfield has added warp speed in the form of lightning quick Aaron Lennon down the right.
The squad also has two of the game's top attacking wingbacks in Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson who create all the space for Gerrard, Lampard, and Rooney to run into and dish of crosses that can be attacked by a whole host of players. Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard begin it all by winning back possession upfield reducing the distance to goal. Its all a matter of closing down spaces.
Capello has a wealth of attacking riches when Theo Walcott returns. Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch are the super subs. And Joe Cole might eventually get back into the squad after rehab from injury.
The questions may not be so much in midfield but in defense and in goalkeeping. Capello initially started David James and now prefers Robert Green with Ben Foster getting in a look in the friendlies. All three are mistake prone but Green seems to be the steadiest of the lot although he spilled the shot that Eduardo latched onto for the only Croatian goal. Still it is a vast improvement from the days of Paul Robinson.
Glen Johnson has shown his attacking instincts, foot skills, clever changes of pace, and a physical presence but his defending has been less stellar. He does not seem overly eager to track back. Matthew Upson as a replacement for Sol Ferdinand is adequate when it comes to the air but his tackling is suspect.
Some questions still remain but when you think of an English team that has scored 31 goals, the most in the European zone and moved well beyond David Beckham's dead ball abilities it is a source of optimism. It starts with Capello and his discipline.
Diego Maradona's power is being taken away. Carlos Bilardo is being asked to step in and help with player selection.
Julio Grondona had requested Maradona to avail of Bilardo's advise after the Bolivia drubbing but the manager who won Argentina the 1986 World Cup and helped catapult Maradona to the world stage has been marginalized with little input in the selection.
A list of players is being prepared. Amongst the decisions that Maradona is being confronted with is whether to keep or drop Javier Zanetti and Gabriel Heinze. There is also a proposal that the Nicolas Otamendi and Saba Dominguez central partnership be broken up and replaced with the more physical Ezequiel Garay of Real and Federico Fazio of Sevilla. If the AFA has its way then Gonzalo Higuain will finally get a call.
Other players who Maradona has been disenchanted with include Nicholas Burdisso, Fernando Gago, Lisandro Lopez, and Diego Milito. There is also a chance that Andres D'Alessandro and Pablo Ginazu, both of Brazilian club Internacional might get a call. Will Maradona let some of these players be chosen?
Apart from a reduced role in player selection, Julio Grondona has forced the Peru match to be played at El Monumental. He has also asked that an aide with experience be hired immediately. Maradona was supposed to meet with his assistants Alejandro Mancuso, Michelangelo Lemme and Fernando Signorini, to review the Paraguay match, go over the names for a new call, and to discuss whether or not to play a friendly on September 30 against Ghana, in Cordoba. But the meeting was called off as Maradona was not ready. It's another infuriating chapter in his wayward managerial career.
I think the squeeze is being put on Maradona between now and the match against Peru to resign. Uruguay is riding in with some big momentum having beaten Colombia, 3-1 and with a big edge in goal differential could potentially bump Argentina of the four automatic World Cup spots leaving them to fight the playoff spot with the fourth placed CONCACAF team (presently Costa Rica).
Meanwhile, the Argentinian coach of Paraguay Gerardo Martinez has led his team to the World Cup while Chile coached by another Argentinian Marcelo Bialsa could also secure its place if they win against Colombia on October 10th. In fact, if we look at Alfio Basile's record before he was replaced we could have at least expected a draw rather than a loss against one of the teams which would have been good for fourth place. Not convincing enough but still streets ahead of Maradona in team management.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
The AFA website was hacked and Diego Maradona was photoshopped wearing a Brazil shirt. The ultimate insult.
And the coach's image is taking a beating. Support from his die hard fans is eroding. Almost 70% of them believe it will be Maradona's fault if Argentina fail to qualify for SA.
Saturday, June 1st, 1991 was the day when Man Utd won the Cup Winners Cup beating Barca, 2-1 in a nerve wracking final, the first such honour for an English side.
Steve Bruce almost scored a goal but it was Mark Hughes with two goals who stole the show. In that squad too were Paul Ince, Bryan Robson, and Mike Phelan. With Roy Keane coming on board two years later, Man Utd under Sir Alex provided the nucleus of a future generation of managers providing the league with some profound story lines. Like next week's derby pitting a student and his former mentor.
Mark Hughes goes up against Sir Alex Ferguson in a fascinating encounter, a newly rich club with an unbeaten record this season goes against a Goliath forced into a makeover after years of domination. Player betrayal and inflated transfers provide the acrimonious subtext, including a tongue in cheek billboard that has raised the ire of the Scotsman. He faces another test at Sunderland against Steve Bruce who is raising his club's profile with Darren Bent's success and some tough defending. And it is in the realms of possibility that Roy Keane's Tractor Boys or Paul Ince's MK Dons should they go deeper into the FA Cup might end up meeting their former boss. At least Sir Alex can rely on some players returning to the roost as Bryan Robson did after his Sheffield United managerial tenure to become Man Utd's public face. Mike Phelan took over Carlos Quieroz's old job when he left to manage Portugal.
So which club provides the nucleus at present for managerial personalities? At Man Utd itself we have Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs on the bubble. Do we doubt that they will go into an afterlife that has football written in it? Unlike the dressing room infractions or globetrotting ambitions that led the above managers to severe the umbilical cord and forge careers elsewhere, these three will finish their careers at Old Trafford under a decidedly more mellow Sir Alex. Will they go against a club and a manager who has nourished their careers for close to two decades?
They are already been slow getting of the gate. Giggs in particular has mentioned that he contemplates coaching after retirement and he might be absorbed right into the club's management. Mark Hughes was already managing the Wales team while playing for Blackburn and Steve Bruce had several offers as player manager from different clubs while at Man Utd which he declined on the advice of Sir Alex.
We have to look elsewhere. And if Carlo Ancelotti looks suitably pumped nowadays it is his group of players who have made his coaching transition look easy. The maturity level of Chelsea's players is just overwhelming. Having gone behind in several games already, the Blues have yet to hit the panic button. There is a mental toughness which makes these come from behind wins almost inevitable. And Ancelotti will be spared any personnel decisions if the prospective UEFA transfer ban till 2011 is enforced. It will have to come from the present squad.
There is another reason. Players like John Terry, Frank Lampard, and Ashley Cole were primed by Jose Mourinho. Under him and Abramovich they have thrived in their club's culture of individualism, negotiating wages and taking charge in their clubs management. The way Terry outmaneuvered the shrewd Portugese by threatening a player revolt making him indispensable to Peter Kenyon and the board was positively Machiavellian. Their present coach meanwhile knows a thing or two about politicking himself having fallen out with Fabio Capello as a player while the England manager was coach of Milan. Putting distance between the club and their next career move is going to be a whole lot easier for this group of players.
Mourinho might have left an indelible impression as a powerful and combative tactician but it was Guus Hiddink who brought the equally important aspects of conflict resolution to a managerial role that most of these players will appreciate when they go onto their managing careers. Even the club's overseas players like Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Ballack, and Michael Essien look primed enough to be fast tracked into player manager jobs in their twilight of their career.
In about 10 years time, Lampard and Mourinho might be standing on the sidelines as opposing coaches providing another moment of football history. Or Terry could face Italy as England's manager against Fabio Capello. Joe Cole might be the UEFA administrator overseeing player discipline. It all seems very likely and within reach with this Chelsea squad. Gianluca Vialli and Gianfranco Zola will have lots of company.
All the *wtf* moments belong to us:
First Diaby with his head scratching header that led to an own goal against Man Utd. The difference between a draw and a defeat. Then Almunia's bounce of the head from a bounce of the goalpost into the goal which gave City the lead and dampened a bright Arsenal start. Goalposts, crossbars, own goals, opposing players clearing off the goal line, dives, fouls, Wenger's ejection and meandering thereafter at Old Trafford, and Shay Given all contribute to the plethora of *wtf* moments in Arsenal's early season.
Arsenal is mentally a "soft" club:
Mental breakdowns, lapses in concentration, flagging defensive intensity. Utd scored its goals in a span of less than 10 minutes shortly into the second half. City went one better scoring three goals in 10 minutes after RVP evened the score. Arsenal seems to lose focus at the 50+ mark. Whether it is an over commitment to offense, a sense of complacency brought on by different scoring sources, or defensive errors, it is clear that Arsenal is doing less to keep clubs from scoring.
The oppositional defiant disorder:
Wenger went out of his way to praise Abou Diaby as he compared him to Patrick Vieira after the Portsmouth match. Since then Diaby has disappeared. In fact, he has become a defensive liability. As soon as Song is singled out as a tower of strength, he is guilty of atavism in the following match. There should be a moratorium in all such instantaneous comparisons till after the season since it is first highly disrespectful to Vieira or Bergkamp or whomever and secondly and more importantly, it is simply not true. But it is not just Diaby, Denilson, and Song. Even Cesc has faded after a bright start.
Arshavin! Arshavin! Arshavin!
Its amazing how the Russian has implanted himself in the subconscious in such a short while. He is like an engram. Darren Fletcher's anti-football tactics were centered around bringing down Arshavin and he had fans wondering whether the City game would have ended in a draw if he had played yesterday. He is the prime mover in the 4-3-3 formation. Without him, Arsenal look straight down the pipe. With him or without him, the Arshavin effect is the most discussed phenomenon amongst Arsenal forums.
Arsenal are and will always be ball hogs whatever the outcome:
An oldie but goody. The possession game is an Arsenal staple. In fact, I wager if possession was the entire story then Man Utd and Chelsea would be two matches short in the win column every season in the Wenger era. And so it was with Utd and City in these fixtures. Pointless possession sounds paradoxical because one needs to have the ball to score and the more one has the ball, the odds are that you will score. Of course, clubs throughout suffer such cruel fate but Arsenal has virtually trademarked it.
Above is the photographic evidence of Adebayor's malice. As if there was any more reason needed why he is not missed at Arsenal. Also, to make sure, he left because he was getting more money, so to slag Arsenal fans for his move is pure projection. But that was not the extent of Ade's imprint as he went after Cesc in the first half. In fact, there is a debate whether he should have been there at all to score his goal.
However it is the celebration that is taking away from the serious nature of the fouls that he committed. Mark Clattenburg responded by giving out a yellow card. The rub your face in the mud was not exactly brimming with class. He should be punished for it as one could argue that it was incitement to riot (coming right after what happened between West Ham and Milwall) but there was intent to cause Van Persie harm that should be the focus of the FA. Where did we hear intent before? Oh yes, the Eduardo incident against Celtics for which he was banned two matches.
RVP in his statement makes clear:
"I am sad and disappointed by my former team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor's mindless and malicious stamp on me during today's match.
"I knew he was aiming for a collision because he changed the angle of his body to allow contact to be made. He moved backwards when his natural momentum would have taken him forward. I find that deeply disrespectful. He has shown a real lack of class today, to me and the fans.
"I do feel lucky that I have not suffered a greater injury. The contact was only centimetres from my eye. I have not received an apology from him, there were no words exchanged afterwards. He had his own agenda today and that is bad for football. It's bad for the game we all love."
There is no law stopping Ade from coming to play against his former club with some kind of payback in mind. Scoring a goal is as good as it gets. Some form of celebratory crowing is also in order. In fact, it is the right sort of historical statement. Physically harming your former team mates is not. I don't think Cesc and RVP did anything to earn Ade's ire while at Arsenal so it is particularly unforgivable. The FA should take a strong stand against such fouls that go unpunished on the pitch just like the UEFA are targeting diving.
Emmanuel Adebayor could face double trouble from the FA .He appeared to scrape his boot down Van Persie's face in a clash for the ball with him.He maintained his goal a game record this season by scoring the third goal.His goal celebration in front of the travelling supporters is being described as "incendiary" .No love lost there.Man City are looking good and sitting pretty with four wins out of four.
..and it's not the recession that is being referred to.Paraguay go into their fourth straight World Cup Finals with this 1 - 0 win.Argentina sink deeper into the mire...
Croatia boss Slaven Bilic called his side a "crippled puppy" for having to play without defenders Vedran Corluka and Luka Modric and the scoreline was pretty tough on the puppy.More Slaven Bilic quotes here..
Six straight losses that is.Stoke midfielder Liam Lawrence's curling and dipping free kick on display below was the cause of their latest defeat. Liam's first international goal made it 1 - 0 for Ireland in a friendly played in Limerick and the 6th loss for S Africa.
Please help out Don Diego.
He should go for a 4-2-3-1 with either Diego Milito, Gonzalo Higuain, and the best of the lot, poacher exemplar Hernan Crespo as the lone striker allowing the three man attacking midfield in Datolo, Aguero, and Messi to become more creative, open up the spaces, and create goal scoring opportunities. Crespo also provides Veron the option of a snapshot cross or long ball.
To expect Leo Messi to do what he did against Man Utd with his second goal you will need the sort of supply that Xavi provides. And Jesus Datolo's long distance lash, as spectacular it was, shows it took a special effort to beat the Brazilian defense.
I am talking about the half chance, the opportune foot, the slide, the deflection. And throughout his career Crespo has provided that. It is not pretty football but it is effective. And that is what Argentina needs.
Crespo is second in the all time Argentinian goal scoring list and the leader in World Cup qualifiers. He is second to the most consummate goal scorer Gabriel Batistuta who Maradona fought for to get included to the 1998 World Cup. At 6'2" Batigol was an unmistakable presence providing a striking contrast to the pint sized Aerial Ortega. Big men were part of the national squad at one time. That was when the Argentinians wore a a rugged look and were famously combative. Juan Pablo Sorin, Diego Simeone, Oscar Ruggeri all come to mind.
The skill of Leo Messi has changed all of that. However, without the skill of a fabulous supporting cast which he enjoys at Barca, he has to go it alone. Plenty of ball possession but going nowhere as the final yards of the pitch becomes predictably the problem.
Crespo is now with Genoa as his Inter career stalled under Jose Mourinho. Part of the reason he gave was that making regular appearances would allow him to get back to the national squad. Maybe it is time for Maradona to swallow his pride and get some River Plate talent. Yes, Crespo and Gonzalo Higuain might be given the shaft because of club affiliation. It is time for Maradona to stop believing in pixie dust.
In an all too familiar story, another potential poaching case, this time involving 17 year Jeremy Helan of Rennes who was signed on by City earlier this year is being investigated.
FIFA said in a statement: "We can confirm that there is a case pending with FIFA's Player Status Department involving Jeremy Helan, Stade Rennais FC and Manchester City."
The anger from Davide Petrucci's signing has barely settled and with Gael Kakuta, Paul Pogba, and now Helan it has become a virtual epidemic as clubs are fighting back for their assets.
Some familiar faces that we may not see at World Cup 2010.Domenech's French side came up with another dismal display resulting in a 1-1 draw against Romania at the Stade de France on Saturday. Thierry Henry might be another familiar face gone missing from the World Cup next year unless France come up with some missing magic.Some rumours of a confrontation between Henry and Domenech are doing the rounds..What he apparently said was .."Coach, I have something to tell you. I am speaking in the name of the squad. We are getting bored during your training sessions. In 12 years I have never seen such a situation. We do not know how to play, where to be on the pitch. We have no style, no guidelines. It is not working." Of course it would have been in french so some bits of that might have got lost in the translation.But one hopes Domenech got the gist of the message..
" Manchester United star Wayne Rooney must not be labelled a diver - I remember him as a player who tried to keep on his feet."
Graham Poll was always a buffoon. The depths of his incompetence was plumbed with the Josip Simunic farce in the Croatia vs Australia match in the 2006 World Cup. Give him a platform and he becomes God. An incompetent buffoon with a Messianic complex leads to gibberish like that concerning Rooney.
On the other hand Poll with his new column, maybe trying hard to be a shock jock, which is equally sad.
Do you know how many players can claim that defense? Lets start with the English. Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, and Ashley Cole, are all part of the upright citizens brigade? They can go ahead and show footage of them upright, cleverly editing the bits about them strewn on the ground, evidence that they always tried to keep on their feet. Its a great brochure for English honesty. But its not true. Even in the past for every Juergen Klinsmann there was a Gary Lineker. And we can forget about it now. Diving is endemic to every nationality. And once again, John Terry is not in a position to pontificate.
Its interesting to note that in the article that Poll does not back up his claim with evidence. Link to clips? Its just a vague "I remember" statement. Maybe Rooney like everyone else did start with the intentions of playing a clean game but found out that it paid to be crooked. Even I have a recollection of Rooney as a somewhat inarticulate Neanderthal but he did write a book which means he can now be sought out for his opinions on Gerard Manley Hopkins. Eh! Say wot?
The more sinister interpretation is that Poll although retired is already adjudicating the Croatia England match from the armchair since diving forms such a huge subtext to the encounter.
Bad news for the Swiss central defender as he is out for six months following knee surgery on Friday.
There is a discrepancy in his return time line with the Swiss FA claiming that he will be out till March and Wenger saying he should get back to action much earlier. It leaves us with Phillipe Senderos as the first option in the event either Gallas or Vermaelen are unable to play. And if both are unavailable then it will be Senderos and Silvestre or Song.
Either way, not a pleasant situation to be in, and with the season getting older, the chances of injury obviously go up. So here is hoping that Gallas and Vermaelen go relatively unscathed.
David Beckham was Castrol's ambassador in the last World Cup .Cristiano Ronaldo is the chosen one for World Cup 2010 .However Portugal have their backs to the wall and are staring at a possible elimination from the proceedings.Castrol will be seriously thinking of plan B.
Plan B might have been Messi - but just now that's not looking like such a great idea either...!
So they have to figure out plan C.
It's a pity really because they have taken a whole lot of trouble to figure out some stuff about both these players that makes Superman's ability to run faster than a speeding bullet look pretty tame by comparision.
Ronaldo maintains his amazing physique by lifting in excess of 20 tonnes - the equivalent of 10 Audi 4x4s - during a full weight training session.
▪ Meanwhile, the force exerted by Lionel Messi in full flight is the equivalent weight of seven men. And when jumping Messi generates more power than a cheetah does in full flight.
▪ Victor Valdes will be warned - if Ronaldo is given the chance to launch one of his trademark free kicks, the Barca keeper will face a ball accelerating at 32 metres per second compared to a Formula 1 car at 4.6 metres per second.
▪ And Real Madrids defenders will need to cope with Messi's astonishing agility that allows him to make more turns and changes of direction in one game than a Formula 1 car competing in the Silverstone Grand Prix race.
It doesn't say if they have managed to figure out if Ronaldo and Messi are affected in any way by green kryptonite but there's a whole lot of more awe inspiring data about them here..
English clubs offer a professional contract a year ahead of French and Spanish clubs which they use to their full advantage with young players who have not yet signed with their parent clubs. It gives them a headstart in their scouting which Chelsea did with Gael Kakuta at Lens and Manchester United with Paul Pogba at Le Havre.
I think what enrages most clubs is that they invest so many hundreds of thousands of pounds in the training of the player only for him to be tapped with the promise of big wages and a starting place in a big foreign club. These under the radar negotiations happen because the buying club knows that there are usually no pre-contracts. The player leaves without the club ever getting any financial compensation.
To make sure that there is an even playing field, clubs could sign player bonds keeping them in the club for 5 years after their training. If a player breaks a bond the club can recoup the amount calculating a prorated amount for the years left in his bond period plus negotiate a fee from the buying club. It happens with financial companies who pay for executive MBAs and expect the employee to honour a three year commitment thereafter or pay out if they leave earlier.
Sounds draconian but with inflated transfer markets, each club with well regarded youth programs will need to do more to protect their assets. Conversely, such safeguards can spur English clubs to pay more attention to developing their own talent.
This article in the Vanguard sums up the anguish and anger fans of the Super Eagles are feeling after their 2-2 draw against Tunisia in Abuja. Their faltering hopes for a World Cup berth now lie on the hopes of winning against Kenya and Mozambique and a Tunisian loss to either of these countries. The Nigerians are two points behind Tunisia in Group B.
1994 was a banner year for the Super Eagles and the names Rashidi Yekini, Samson Siasia, Finidi George, Emmanuel Amuneke, Jay Jay Okocha, Stephen Keshi, Daniel Amokachi, and Sunday Oliseh were household names as they won the Africa Cup of Nations and entered the Round of 16 in the World Cup that year. Italy had to come from behind an Amuneke goal taking the match to extra time before a Roberto Baggio goal finally halted the further progress of the Super Eagles.
It all seems so far away now.
Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien scored for Ghana in their 2-0 (YouTube link) win in a Goup D encounter over Sudan becoming the first African nation to book their place to the 2010 World Cup.
Serbian coaches have proved lucky for the Black Stars as Ratomir Dujkovic guided them to the 2006 World Cup. This time, it was Milovan Rajevac repeating the feat.
"Boys, diving is back on the menu".
That might be the most potent message after seeing England's game against Slovenia. And no, UEFA is not going to do any retrospective video refereeing because it is lowly Slovenia. Rooney can pull a player's shirt blatantly, fall down, and pretend he got fouled without retribution. And yes, Steven Gerrard does not make for a credible witness.
But I am going to write about Defoe because he is more germane to England's goal scoring chances at the World Cup. Being an Arsenal fan, I am hoping he leaves behind his attacking chops against the Gunners. He has been in phenomenal form, Lineker like, in uncanny position to finish off chances for both club and country. Like the Spurs legend, Defoe could be the answer to England achieving their best finish since the 1990 World Cup success.
Capello needs to let go his predilection for big, tall forwards who he thinks can muscle their way through. Emile Heskey is not a Didier Drogba, he has neither the quickness nor the foot skills of the Ivoirian. Like basketball, his usefulness is in setting up a form of screen and roll because of his bulk. But England's attack really livened up when both Defoe and Aaron Lennon were introduced.
Its funny we talk about these pint sized players being instrumental to England's success when Maradona is being panned for relying so much on his bajitos. But if we look at England's successful frontmen, none were big or especially tall. They were however very quick and opportunistic. Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Greaves were both 5'8" and they dominated England's scoring for a decade or more.
Against Croatia, as Theo Walcott proved last time around, you can beat the somewhat flatfooted defense with speed. Aaron Lennon linking with Jermain Defoe should be able to accomplish the same at home on Wednesday.
Colombia did Argentina a good turn yesterday with their 2-0 win over Ecuador which meant that they still retained fourth spot even as they crashed to defeat against Brazil at the Grand Arroyito.
This maybe the way to go to SA, with a little help from other teams. Because the public seems to be quietly giving up on the team as over 65% of them in a survey believe that they will not make it to the World Cup.
It is still a sign of how Maradona is considered a national treasure, that criticism of his coaching still remains relatively muted. But Clarin has a headline "Maradona and the public, an unfailing love?" which suggests that their limitless patience is wearing off. There is also a chance that Carlos Bilardo might step in as coach if Argentina manages to qualify. Which is what people probably secretly hope as it also gives Maradona a chance to gracefully resign and keep intact his godlike status. As a manager so far he has shown feet of clay. One cannot believe that a coach who adulates a bruiser like Oscar Ruggeri would go for such a soft and lifeless defense.
It's not a good sign, when the public doles out applause based on your performance against Brazil. If this was an indication then Heinze should announce his international retirement immediately and Veron should feel vindicated after being treated with scorn for his 2002 World Cup debacle. Is there anymore evidence needed that in Argentina, players play for redemption rather than for results?
The media is basically backing off any overt criticism because in three days the Argentinians travel to Paraguay for another big game. The Paraguayans are in third place and have been quite frugal on defense with Salvador Cabanas as their top goalscoring threat. Argentina's road record has been dismal with one win, four losses and two draws. Their last success came against Venezuela almost a year ago in Round 2 at Maracaibo.
The one bit of optimism is that the strength of draw favours Argentina in the remaining matches with bottom dwellers Peru at home and underachieving Uruguay on the road. Colombia face Uruguay on the road, second placed Chile at home, and finish of in Asuncion against Paraguay. Ecuador travel to La Paz, in a high altitude fight against Bolivia, come back home to Uruguay and finish away against Chile. Yes, Uruguay is ubiquitous in these fixtures and they might be the dark horses or at worst spoilers. They have a better goal differential than Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador.
I think I must have made my point now *or cried myself hoarse*: The US needs more ball possession and to slow the game down.
Attack: When healthy, the Charlie Davis and Jozy Altidore combination should not be tampered with. Davis has blistering speed, good foot skills, loves cutting from left to center and is a perfect foil for Donovan's timed releases. Altidore is a tower of strength in the center, uses his physical prowess to play well with his back to goal, and is a huge target for set pieces.
With Clint Dempsey roaming from right to center, the attacking midfielder gives the USA an effective 4-3-3 formation, and with so many opportunities, even Deuce is bound to score. Like he did yesterday on his third attempt. Is it me or does Deuce look sleep deprived?
Grade: A - Physical, quick, a matter of time before the Salvadoran defense was breached, somewhat tarnished by a number of missed opportunities for a more emphatic win. Dempsey was profligate.
Midfield: Ever wonder what would happen if Landon Donovan had an off day, was injured, or out with a suspension? He is a distribution outlet with his quick vision, pinpoint releases, free kicks, clever link up plays with Davis, Dempsey, and Feilhaber. And he can score goals too. Yesterday, he was on target with two deliciously served up free kicks.
Michael Bradley, was his role to fill dead space? He seems to have abdicated his central midfield role to move ahead without benefit. Benny Feilhaber, just behind Donovan played as a default holding midfielder and I use that term loosely because he actually has impeccable attacking instincts. Bradley and Feilhaber's roles need to be better defined. Ricardo Clark is a better bet. Get him ahead of Bradley. He introduces a Gilberto Silva quality.
However, this is where the breakdown begins because with all the attacking talent up front, there is a real need for defensive organization at the center of midfield. A genuine pacesetter. Cheap giveaways give the opponents opportunities to score and the Salvadorans came this close.
Grade B: Donovan entirely lifts the grade, Bradley pulls it down. Absence of a leader in center midfield gave the Salvadorans acres to roam.
Defence: Jonathan Bornstein's shoddy clearance was taken full opportunity by Rodolfo Zelaya whose clever foot fake froze three US defenders in their tracks, giving him time to waft the ball over to Cristian Castillo to head home.
Not the most stellar game for the US defense. Chad Marshall had a pretty forgettable game. Mistimed tackles, stray passes put Carlos Bocanegra under pressure and he was caught back pedaling against Castillo, Zelaya, and Quintanilla on their breakaways. Jonathan Spector was average, he could have done better challenging Castillo. His West Ham experience has taught him the advantage of the long ball which he uses quite well.
Grade C: Slow, reactive, too many giveaways. The two goals saved what was otherwise a long day for the defense.
Matchday Squad: Michael Bradley should be replaced by Ricardo Clark. There was also a case for Clarence Goodson in for Jonathan Bornstein.
Grade B-: Bob Bradley, get a clue. Ball control.
Substitutions: Stuart Holden for Charlie Davis was probably warranted. But Kyle Beckerman for Benny Feilhaber? Bob Bradley is playing for a place in the World Cup not another Gold Cup ring. Francisco Torres finally played about 10 minutes and almost scored a goal.
Grade C +: Kyle Beckerman is a lightweight. A firm second stringer. He does not belong in the MNT. On the other hand, Stuart Holden continues to impress and he is an actual winger unlike Dempsey.
McFadden took the ball from his own half,waltzed around about half the Macedonian team and then finally scored past the keeper in a way that would have reminded Maradona of himself.But he has other things on his mind right now.And Scotland keep their world cup dream alive.
El Tri overcame the Ticos, 3-0 in a facile win at Saprissa stadium with Giovani Dos Santos providing a goal and two assists as the Spurs attacking midfielder ran rampant.
Mexico is now in third position behind the USA and Honduras. The Costa Ricans leading the table at one time have lost two matches in a row by huge margins and now lie fourth.
The Argentinian defense goes to sleep as they fail to mark Luisao who heads home Elano's free kick. Then Luis Fabiano scores as Mariano Andujar fails to collect cleanly. Jesus Datolo responds with a blistering left footed shot from 30 yards out. Argentina are back in it again. But a minute later Kaka threads a devilishly clever pass to Luis Fabiano who outraces the lone Argentinian defender and scores.
Its over. The hex of Rosario Central is lifted. It was Argentina's first World Cup qualifying home defeat since September 5, 1993, when they lost 5-0 to Colombia in Buenos Aires
Brazil qualify for SA joining Australia, Netherlands, DPR Korea, South Korea, and Japan. Argentina are in fourth place on 22 points just ahead of Colombia.
"The responsibility is solely and exclusively mine."
Brazil's humiliating win had Maradona on the defensive but the Argentina manager vowed to carry on against Paraguay where they will travel to in about three days time for another crucial World Cup qualifier.
He said that three points were possible. He also declined to single out Messi for his nondescript performance against Brazil. The reason that Argentina fell short was that they were beaten in the air.
For the home fixture against Peru, Maradona would love to play in Rosario Central again. and yes, he has already told Julio Grondona that he will carry on as coach. I am not sure whether fans will be as enthused to hear this news.
Three points is three points. Its a win. And that's what counts. Till we start parsing. The US was able to evade a spirited El Salvador side on the strength of its set pieces. The problem is, the US still has to figure out when to play smart possession football. The Salvadorians till the last minute had a chance to pull of a draw.
The second half degenerated into a free for all as both teams relied on cheap giveaways to start fast counterattacks and there were many. The US does not have a genuine holding midfielder who can close down shop. The closest they have is Ricardo Clark who was not used. Landon Donovan with his "Onward Men" has pretty much one gear. So does Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey. Benny Feilhaber is a smart player but he also gets pressurized into the trap of doing too much. He is better off slowing down the game.
The match needs a certain type of tempo depending on its exigencies. The pitch is as much lateral as up and down. I keep thinking someone like Juan Roman Riquelme would not have lasted one day in the USMNT.
The refereeing left much to be desired. I still have no idea why Altidore's goal was disallowed. Possibly a dubious foul. They did however amazingly get the Dempsey goal right when everyone else was offside. Jonathan Bornstein had a nightmare with Cristian Castillo. The rest of the defense was not much better.
Brazil leads Argentina, 2-0 through Luisao and Luis Fabiano. I expect Diego Maradona to resign if the Argentinians lose to their arch rivals. He has been totally incompetent managing all that talent at his disposal. Moving the match to Rosario, calling up Martin Palermo nine years after his last international match, bizarre formations. Its been one head game after another.
Paraguay won against Bolivia, Ecuador lost to Colombia, and Peru shocked Uruguay. The CONMEBOL is being shaken up.
Three headers score the goals.
Cristian Castillo puts El Salvador up through a beautiful bit of trickery by Rodolfo Zelaya that freezes three US defenders allowing him to loft a cross that finds Castillo heading the ball past Tim Howard.
The US replies through Clint Dempsey (third time lucky) and Jozy Altidore. The US is doing it through set pieces set up by Landon Donovan. Their midfield play is nothing to write home about. Too many stray passes. Their defense has been slow to react and is allowing El Salvador too many counterattacks. Chad Marshall looks a bit overwhelmed.
A barrage of goal scoring chances undone by inept finishing left Portugal with an uphill task of making the World Cup. A Liedson goal kept their slim chances alive. For the money, Nicklas Bendtner shows why Adebayor was so expendable. Great trap and shoot.
Stephen Anderson came up with some timely saves till the Liedson goal. Portugal now lie in fourth place, 7 points behind group leaders Denmark. They have two matches against the surprising Magyars in second place and their last match is with bottom dwellers Malta.
Italy won against Georgia on the strength of two beautiful own goals by Kakha Kaladze. The Georgians looked stunned by his stealth attacks.
The Milan defender must have been overwhelmed by the dominant Juve presence and decided to do something about it. I think he just sabotaged his own Milan career. Apart from Kaladze, Gianluigi Buffon was Italy's best player.
Does this mean we see critical articles in the Georgian media that Kaladze might react badly to?
There are matches being played all over the world. Then there is the Brazil vs Argentina encounter.
Diego Maradona on the day before the match praised the thousands of fans who had shown up at the Ros Tower Hotel. He singled out Leo Messi as the trump card in the match. The little genius will have to provide some Maradona moments to bring Argentina back into the qualifying fold. Breathing down their necks is Ecuador who face Colombia in another gripping encounter at Medellin.
The simple plan is to stop Kaka and his distribution to Robinho and Luis Fabiano. Easier said than done but that is what the defense needs to do along with the strikers tracking back. Tevez and Messi might see themselves drifting back deeper in the midfield.
The referee Colombian Oscar Ruiz, well known in South America, might see some testy moments and unruly crowd action. Maradona called him " a man of experience, knows what is at stake. Dunga and I can be calm."
A Beautiful Game by Tom Watt is a collection of interviews with the world's leading players.
This is Messi reminiscing about how he first fell in love ......with the game.
"There was green around the house but no garden to play football in. There was an abandoned military base nearby which had some pitches and sometimes we'd sneak in for a game through a gap in the fence. But usually, playing football meant playing in the streets. In those days the road was unpaved, just dried earth. It wasn't the best of neighbourhoods but it was the kind of neighbourhood where everybody knew everybody, so my mum wasn't worried about me.
I started playing when I was five. At first, I wasn't always allowed to play with the bigger boys. My older brothers didn't want me to join in - not because I was small, they said it was because they were playing against older boys. The other boys wouldn't be able to get the ball off me - my brothers were worried something bad might happen to me if the other boys got angry. "
This is Gilberto Silva..
"Still, in our village, we were surrounded by friends and family. It was lovely: open and flat. We weren't very comfortably off but I had everything else. We played football all the time when we were boys. There were other villages nearby that had been built by the sugar cane factory too; and in every village there was some kind of a pitch. Not covered in grass, maybe, but somewhere to play football. We were always barefoot: if we wore our shoes to play football, we'd have no shoes to go to school in! "
U.S vs. El Salvador
Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
Sep. 5, 2009 @ 6 p.m. MT
ESPN Classic, TeleFutura
It has gotten a wee bit crowded at the top. Three points separate the Ticos from El Tri and in between, sit the US and Honduras. A win at Sandy will make for some breathing room.
The US are without Oguchi Onyewu and Jay De Merit which means that Bob Bradley will start Chad Marshall. He will partner Carlos Bocanegra at the center while the full back positions go to Steve Cherundolo and Jonathan Spector.
The defensive unit will take on the responsibility of stopping El Salvador's fast counterattacks. Last time around, the match ended 2-2 with the US coming back from a two goal deficit. Frankie Hejduk had a monster game floating in the cross from which Altidore scored the first goal and then becoming a goal scorer with the second, as the US earned a draw.
The US problem against quality opposition has been ball possession and control. Too many stray passes and less time spent in interlinking plays and build ups have led to other teams coming back even as the US has had the luxury of scoring first. El Salvador does not provide that sort of opposition but it is a good point to note because this match will see a fast counterattacking style from both teams with Landon Donovan and Charlie Davis providing the zip. The US plays with two men on top but with Dempsey it almost feels like a 4-3-3.
There are some options in midfield. Bob Bradley will start Michael Bradley but he might want to sub him with Ricardo Clark as a pacesetter to slow down the game and retain the ball. The other possibility is to hold back Benny Feilhaber as a substitute to elevate the game with his energy should the US lag in creativity and goal scoring opportunities. He could also prove decisive in a situation where the Salvadorians create a logjam, which is a real possibility.
The US needs to be careful about midfielder Osael Romero who was in very good nick at the Gold Cup and Eliseo Quintanilla. The defense has Alfredo Pacheco of Red Bulls, their free kick specialist and a very good goalkeeper in Miguel Montes who will have to be at his best this evening.
This is what El Salvador is up against. At home against them, the U.S. is 10-0-2 dating back to 1977. In the latest five meetings on home soil, the U.S. has recorded five consecutive shutout victories with 14 goals scored.
I don't see that changing. A 2-0 win is my prediction. Charlie Davis will keep up his blistering Sochaux debut.
Costa Rica and Mexico have a huge game and at the end of the day the Hexagonal could see dramatic changes in its positions.
You need to know Russian if you want to follow what's being said.But Arshavin does a pretty good Rocky Balboa get up impersonation....
Now that would be a tragedy. And yet, it seems quite likely.
The New York Times' Rob Hughes writes about the tremendous pressure on both Messi and Ronaldo to win their next two games. Messi's Argentina play Brazil (as Shourin has so carefully noted here) followed by Paraguay. Ronaldo's Portugal have to play Denmark followed immediately by Hungary.
The prospects of both teams missing the World Cup seem rather high. And in my book, it's a coaching issue on both fronts.
After Portugal lost Scolari things went steadily downhill.
And Argentina? What a tragedy it will be if Argentina don't make it. And not for lack of talent.
Will Maradona end his coaching career in disgrace? Tune in tomorrow to find out.
As rumours go, this is still one hell of a doozy. Muammar Gaddafi who looks uncannily like Keith Richards or Geoffrey Rush or an amalgam of the two is believed to be in negotiations to buy out AC Milan from Silvio Berlusconi.
La Repubblica, the publication that wrote this article is well known for its opposition to Berlusconi as it espouses a decidedly left wing perspective. While Gaddafi might be a bit far fetched as an owner, it is not in the realm of impossibility. Berlusconi might actually be looking for a way out of AC Milan if it all makes good business sense.
His children Marina and Piersilvio, as heirs to his vast business enterprise, have a jaundiced view of the club, looking on it as an expensive boondoggle, a siphon for expensive and ultimately unrewarding amounts spent on player transfers. The club too has become a political liability. The Kaka debacle is believed to have cost Berlusconi his political clout in the European Council where his party Forza Italia has lost a couple of points. Building a new stadium for AC Milan has been suspended as Berlusconi apparently does not want to take on even more debt as he becomes more serious about the club's sale.
Berlusconi's interest in Gaddafi centers around the lucrative oil deals that Italy might end up being the beneficiary if all goes well with the mercurial and unpredictable Libyan leader. The Libyans are, cue surprise; long been interested in soccer and have made past inquiries into the possible acquisition of Juventus and Roma. The sale of AC Milan might be a way of greasing the palm of Gaddafi as Berlusconi unloads the club in increments.
All of this comes in the backdrop of the backlash going on in the USA over the UK's decision to free Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence official who was held responsible for the 1988 Lockerbie bombings which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans, on compassionate grounds as al- Megrahi is believed to be suffering from terminal stages of colon cancer with about 3 months left to live.
A series of leaked letters between UK government officials indicates that Gordon Brown was pushing his release to curry favour with the Libyan government to secure the exact same oil deals as Berlusconi. If we put all of this in context, each government is applying some sort of leverage to secure these lucrative deals.
This really should not surprise anyone as way back in 1983, Donald Rumsfeld cut a deal with Saddam Hussein over an oil pipeline in lieu of Ronald Reagan's blind eye to the chemical weapons program that led to the massacre of thousands of Kurds and Iranians. All the glad handing led to two later wars and thousands of US soldiers and civilian lives lost. Hundreds of British paid with their lives too.
What makes a sale of Milan possible is that none of Berlusconi's children know how to run the club and its business. Whether it is finally sold of to Gaddafi and renamed Al Maghreb might not be the point. Berlusconi and his company Fininvest might slowly start to disinvest from the club. That remains a strong likelihood.
Outrage at Arsene Wenger's treatment at the hands of Man Utd fans during Arsenal's visit to Old Trafford seems to have percolated up from Gunner blogs and online forums and entered the mainstream.
Marina Hyde writes in the Guardian about the disgusting pedophilia chant that Arsene Wenger was subjected to which has been going on for years. It has become part of a collection of Manchester United chants selling on Amazon.com and Play.com. Wenger seems to have become inured to it, not reacting to it even though the same word is used in French and English. Maybe he believes that way the chant will die down having lost its power to provoke. But it apparently has not.
I don't think in a million years, Sir Alex Ferguson has been treated the same way by Gunner fans. And yes, tasteless chants about the Munich tragedy and the Hillsborough disaster are equally deserving of opprobrium. But these chants are well publicized and equally well condemned. It is these chants that have little institutional backlash that attention needs to be drawn towards.
To be fair, club authorities have appealed to fans to stop using the chant but nothing seems to have come of it. David Gill, Utd's CEO seems to have had enough and is planning to address the issue in a fan forum. Sir Alex has also condemned it in the past but he may need to do it again because his words carry more weight than that of a stuffed shirt.
I went to Amazon.com and Play.com but the chants seem to have been taken down. But here is a link to the words. Stay classy, Man Utd fans.
Legalize it - don't criticize it
Legalize it and I will advertise it
Some call it tapping
Some call it bung
Some call it hush money
Some of them call it matter of fact
Legalize it - don't criticize it
Legalize it and i will advertise it
Players love it
And player agents too
Legalize it, yeah, yeah
That's the best thing you can do
Managers love it
Pundits love it
Fans love it
Even the lawyers too
Legalize it - don't criticize it
Legalize it and i will advertise it
It's good for the clubs
It's good for the money
Good for the league
Every human come praise it
Legalize it - don't criticize it
Legalize it and i will advertise it
Jose Mourinho tapped it
Ashley Cole he did it
Chelsea eat it
Clubs love to play with it
(With apologies to Peter Tosh).
Manchester United might be next to face a transfer ban if Le Havre has its way with its claim that the Premiership club induced Paul Pogba to break his contract with the French Ligue 2 side in the same way that Gael Kakuta broke his contract with Lens when he was brought to Stamford Bridge. In Lens case, FIFA upheld their claim and Chelsea has been banned from entering the transfer market for two transfer periods.
A sense of expediency when developing youth programs:
At Chelsea, Frank Arnesen has been under tremendous pressure to develop a youth system similar to that of Arsenal, Man Utd, and West Ham. Roman Abramovich has shown less patience with the slower route of direct scouting for talent which would take ten years to bear fruition.
A more expedited model would involve foreign clubs with reputed youth programs and academies as a ready made source for that talent. The talent has already been developed at considerable expense and the richer and more aggressive English league are ready to move in and entice these young players to spurn their services to the parent club with incentives that border on bribes. Today's Chelsea squad can only boast Frank Lampard and John Terry who have come up the ranks.
Even as highly rated a youth program as Arsenal's suffers from comparison to the ones in La Liga. Cesc Fabregas arrival at Highbury in 2003 came under great controversy as he essentially walked away from Barcelona's La Masia which is considered the worldwide gold standard in developing young players.
Barca received no compensation because he had not signed a pre-contract. Barca was better prepared in Fran Merida's case and he was ordered by a Spanish court to pay €3.2million for failing to sign a pre-contract with Barca. In both instances it was the lure of making the first squad and more money that proved attractive. The Gunners can point to Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs on the cusp of making the first squad as examples of their development program bearing dividends but when you compare to Barca it is slim pickings indeed.
In comparison, Barca boasted seven players in their squad from La Masia that won them the CL title.
The English in short have resorted to expediency preferring to use oversea surrogates to spend money and develop talent so that they can swoop in and pick up these players at very little cost. In doing so, they undermine their own youth systems and gain notoriety as poachers.
Other additional factors.
A new economic model:
A corollary to the first one. The new model is to catch players when very young, paying a pittance and in about six to seven years while at his peak, sell him off for millions of pounds. Man Utd has gone about formalizing this process by imposing a 26 years of age cut off for player transfers. Dimitar Berbatov was the last one to be taken over the age limit.
The big sums of money made through transfers is an effective and proven way of writing down debt and adding to the transfer budget without taking out loans. Arsenal has already made it clear that this is how they will conduct business in future by selling off players to the highest bidders at the right time. So far it has brought rich dividend for both Man Utd and Arsenal. Chelsea and Liverpool have yet to hit such high notes.
Players like Gael Kakuta, Paul Pogba, and Fran Merida are part of this new business model. If you can poach cheap foreign talent and get a 500% rate of return by slapping on a Chelsea club label, then why not. Compunction is over rated.
The inflated transfer market:
The new vulnerability for these clubs is that they will always lose in the bidding wars with newly rich clubs like City and their bottomless coffers or to a club like Real Madrid that is granted ridiculously low interest loans, pays less taxes, which frees up enormous amounts of transfer money. The Premiership other than City made relatively low key purchases.
Instead over the years players players with enormous talent have been brought in as viable candidates for future first squad selection, for e.g., Rafael at Man Utd is already seeing considerable action. The supply and demand keep the system lubricated as older players retire or change clubs.
In the eye of the storm is one 18 year old Gael Kakuta- He left Lens in 2007 to move to Stamford Bridge, breaking his contract with the club.
FIFA's stormy decision is going cost him £682,000 and a four-month ban from football.
In his first season,Kakuta helped Chelsea to the final of the FA Youth Cup.
He was the top goalscorer was also named Chelsea's Academy Player of the Year.
Kakuta flair and skill earned him a call-up for the France side for the UEFA Under-17 Championships last summer.
Talk of being blindsided. Here I am moaning about Eduardo's two match ban whereas a little known player called Gael Kakuta has managed to turn Chelsea into the house of Blues.
" A restriction of four months on his eligibility to play in official matches has been imposed on Kakuta. Chelsea are banned from registering any new players, either nationally or internationally, for the two next entire and consecutive registration periods following the notification of the present decision."
The ban becomes significant because the Blues are set to lose key players in the 2010 ACN which begins in January. Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, John Mikel Obi and Salomon Kalou will see action for their respective countries.
Big losses to Spurs and Villa are not what Rafa Benitez had in mind when the season began. The pundits were pegging Liverpool to win the Premiership. The stuttering start has taken its toll and there are rumours that the Reds dressing room atmosphere is less salubrious nowadays.
Rafa had gotten into a well publicized spat before with Steven Gerrard who looked like a shadow of himself in the Spurs match but it is Ryan Babel who is getting the business end of the stick and was singled out for the team's pathetic display. It is hard to see Rafa alienating Gerrard, the team's talisman but Babel is particularly vulnerable having never cemented himself into the hearts of the fans with his underachieving performances.
Unlike fellow winger, Florent Malouda, who also joined the Premiership in 2007 and was drifting away at Chelsea till Guus Hiddink came along and resuscitated his career making him indispensable to the team, Babel seems to have lost his way.
He reportedly became emotional after Rafa's outburst and is now asking for an Ajax transfer that will reunite him with his old club where he first became a sensation. What seems to gall Babel is that he was given assurances by the Liverpool coach this season he would supplant Albert Riera but since the Spurs match all he has managed is 14 minutes off the bench.
"There have been a lot of things promised, but they haven't been followed up."
This is not the first unpleasant disclosure rocking the Reds, as Xabi Alonso also unloaded on his former boss. Alonso earned Rafa's displeasure when he chose to be with his pregnant wife when she gave birth to their son, spurning the team in their CL second leg match against Inter. In turn, Alonso felt betrayed when he became the bargaining chip to fund Gareth Barry's move to the Reds. It never materialized as Barry ended up in City but it proved to be the turning point for Alonso.
"Last summer when the club proposed I had to be sold to get funds to sign new players. It was difficult to accept that.
"I accept it as a professional but that moment probably changed my mind - and I thought, maybe, from that moment it was maybe time for a change."
If Rafa is not careful, all that largesse that he earned from the magical 2005 CL win will disappear. So far that and the fact that Rafa has inveigled himself into an indispensable position as the coach saving the club from the ignorance of its American owners has provided a bulwark against criticism.
This season could prove his undoing. I have wondered what possessed him to bring on Alberto Aquilani when the Roma midfielder underwent ankle surgery for a serious injury that has kept him out for more than six months. The Premiership is not good testing grounds for less than match fit players. As an Arsenal fan it is frustrating to see how many months have elapsed since Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo endured their injuries. The dressing room showdowns gives a glimpse into a team in some sort of disarray which could all be solved quickly if the Reds start winning matches with a degree of self assurance.
From the sublime..(Elano pulls off a perfect 'rabona' pass..)
...to the absolutely ridiculous.( Sergio Jauregui picks up a one year ban for this bit of madness )
An article by Simon Kuper draws attention on how the English continued to attend football matches even as the British Expeditionary Force were evacuating Dunkirk. For many, the preoccupation was their team's fortunes rather than the drone of Pathe newsreels of the war.
Even Sir Tom Finney recalling the war was more concerned about playing Arsenal in the 1941 War Cup : "I wasn't all that interested in the war when I was playing. And to hold them to a draw in London was really quite an achievement." Finney added that, of course, he wanted "England" to win the war.
I remember seeing John Boorman's wonderful Hope and Glory, of a small boy growing up in the London blitzes. The film transforms those terrible events into something magical, into a liberating experience, even as bombs wrought terror, death, and destruction. Football might have provided a similar sort of conduit. Attendances actually went up when Britain was ravaged by record numbers of unemployed workers in Thatcher's time.
Transfer season is over.
In total about £450m was spent as compared to the record £500m last year. City obviously skewed the spending with £120 million spent on new purchases. They accounted for 27 percent of the total spent. The other notable spenders were Aston Villa, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Sunderland.
As per Philip Rawnsley, director of Deloitte's Sports Business Group, the drop could be attributed to a number of different factors:
" the exchange rate, the tax regime in Spain being more favourable to players and clubs, and perhaps clubs thinking there is less of a risk in buying established Premier League players than from overseas."
Arsenal, Man Utd, and Liverpool benefited with substantial money brought in by player transfers but they chose not to spend. Some of the money was used to pay down debt but I think that the real reason as the article alludes to was that Real Madrid and City's spending spree brought out the inner conservative in the other big clubs as they reacted to the inflated transfer market.
Man City's Richard Dunne and West Ham's James Collins will attempt a tall task, to take over for Martin Laursen and Olof Mellberg. They come to Villa Park at a £11m price tag.
We saw a few problems on opening day against Wigan, where Curtis Davies made some errors of judgment which led to Jason Koumas scoring the second goal. A more seasoned group of defenders will be able to avoid such mistakes.
The September 5th encounter between the Albiceleste and Seleccao fast approaches.
If there are any indications who feels most pressure, do not look to Dunga. The Seleccao are a team where the sum of the parts equals the whole. A physical and intimidating defense, a potent offense, and a creative midfield combining to form a well oiled machine that is firing on all cylinders. They are well on their way to South Africa.
Diego Maradona on the other hand is exhibiting the paroxysms of a coach short of experience and time, with his change in venue, tinkering of players, and bizarre formations. He also said: "I would give anything to be 20 years younger and going out there."
The match on Maradona's insistence is to be played at Rosario Central, and not at the expansive El Monumental, where it is hoped that the much closer stands will contribute to a claustrophobic type of atmosphere that will unsettle the Brazilians. Rosario Central also carries an unsavory association, it was the 1978 World Cup venue where Argentina needing four goals to enter the finals beat Peru, 6-0 thus ending Brazil's dreams of making the finals. The Brazilians charged that the match was fixed but FIFA could prove no collusion.
However, it is player selection that is proving to be nightmare as Maradona has gone for a completely new look bringing back Boca veteran Martin Palermo and two Estudiantes players who played a big part in the Copa Libertadores win against Cruzeiro, midfielder Rodrigo Brana and defender Rolando Schiavi.
Palermo's selection has raised eyebrows as the 36 year old Boca striker last played nine years ago in a career marked with injuries and penalty kick misses. It is even more bewildering that he be given precedence over Gonzalo Higuain and Mauro Zarate, two of the most promising players plying their trade in Europe. Higuain in particular had a stellar 2008-2009 season at Real becoming their top scorer and has continued to be in the form in the pre-season. He has the option playing for both Argentina and France and overlooking him could spur his decision to play for France.
One of the priorities is stopping Inter's Maicon whose tirelessly looping runs down the right has stymied oppositions. Maradona was counting on Newcastle's Jonas Gutierrez to stop the Brazilian juggernaut but he is injured. The Brazilians swamp the Argentinians in goal output, 97 to 51 with their complement of strikers and attacking midfielders. Luis Fabiano has been particularly prolific. But it is the defense with their dominance in set pieces that has grabbed attention lately. Maicon's 5 goals in 49 matches compares favourably with Carlos Tevez's 8 goals in 51 matches. Then there is Dani Alves whose pinpoint passes and free kicks are just what one needs from the bench.
Gutierrez is not the only player out with injury as Juan Sebastian Veron, Argentina's playmaker is also doubtful. Maradona would ideally like to start Veron alongside Javier Mascherano. But his inclusion will most likely be a game time decision. Maradona's other option, Boca midfielder Sebastian Battaglia is out with a hamstring injury and will miss the Brazil and Paraguay encounter. Nicholas Burdisso, Martin Demichelis, Lisandro Lopez, Jesus Datolo, and Diego Milito also have injury concerns.
The bloated squad reflects a grab bag of Maradona's past loyalties. Napoli's Jesus Datolo and Ezequiel Lavezzi also feature. Datolo might start if he is declared match fit, otherwise Maradona is considering starting Maxi Rodriguez on the left wing. On defense, Maradona's fondness for right back Gabriel Heinze is hard to fathom. The ex- Man Utd player had his last decent season two years ago. He has been a defensive liability in Real's back line ever since.
Rolando Schiavi might compete with Nicolas Otamendi and Saba Dominguez for the center back position which would mean that the center back pairing have exactly two international appearances between the three of them. Dealing with Luis Fabiano, Robinho and Kaka could be a tall order.
Time to dust off those videos and mete out retrospective punishment to those who deceive referees.
What, its not going to happen?
Only Eduardo gets to be the poster boy. Eighteen months ago he was the poster boy for tackles gone horribly wrong. What has he done to deserve these honours?
Arsenal awaits UEFA's "reasoned decision" on Thursday and then have three days to present their appeal.
How ridiculous does this sound? A referee who stands by his decision is basically told he was being fooled by the player. Manuel Gonzalez the referee defended his decision, in his eyes he was not conned into awarding the penalty. I think in this case, it is not just Arsenal that should feel outraged but so too referees. I want to see self aggrandizing Graham Poll take a stand just like he did with Tom Ovrebo in the Barca vs Chelsea CL semi-final.
UEFA took less than an hour to consider Eduardo's case and basically reiterated that divers would only get booked. They had already pre-judged the case. So Eduardo gets stuck with a two match ban because in their eyes, he got away with a deception. The message clearly is become a better diver, not that diving is inherently damaging to the game.
Gerhard Kapl, UEFA's chief of discipline also framed Eduardo's conduct as "gross unsporting behaviour". His Pilate like absolutism: "in this case, there are no exceptional circumstances that would justify a plea for mercy". Even Ted Bundy was given that chance.
First rule: If Eduardo has to be the fall guy, can we stop with the labels. Unlike some players, he does not have a record of deliberately fooling referees. These words also have an inflammatory resonance beyond just club football. The Croatians are feeling mighty aggrieved.
Second rule: Lets reconcile the rule. If a deception is detected retroactively, why should the punishment be different? The thought of carrying over a booking should be enough of a deterrent.
Kapl has some history as the official defending the referee's decision as correct when Van Nistelrooy was controversially declared on-side after he scored a goal in the Euro 2008 match between the Netherlands and Italy while Christian Panucci went out the sideline with an injury.
The interesting thing is three years ago, Kapl was the only one who disagreed with UEFA's decision not to punish Rangers for anti-Catholic chants. He called it "discriminatory abuse" and wanted a £25,000 fine levied and a stadium stand closed down. As the chief of discipline he is perfectly comfortable flinging around these labels. It also makes him, shall we say, a bit arbitrary?
UEFA's disciplinary panel is deliberating on whether Eduardo was guilty of deception. Its a much broader charge as the statement below suggests.
"Acting with the obvious intent to cause any match official to make an incorrect decision."
Arsenal is countering with a 19 page document which calls UEFA's investigations as a contravention to its own rules of not allowing "field of play" to be second guessed. In this case, Spanish referee Manuel Gonzalez has defended his decision to award the penalty. The club also says that there is evidence that Artur Boruc made contact with Eduardo's ankle.
If the charges stick, Eduardo faces a two match ban. Meanwhile in Scotland, the lack of outrage shown by Gordon Smith at Aiden McGeady's dive against Hibs is not considered a double standard.
Graham Poll on diving.
"It was on the eve of the start to the Barclays Premier League season, when Sir Alex Ferguson spoke with authority and insight. 'Players who cheat are killing the game, not the referees,' observed the manager of the champions."
Straight of the bat, Poll reveals his bias. Never mind why we should never heed Man Utd's manager's moans about mendacious players when he had some of the best in the business. This article is all a set up to Poll's justifying Wayne Rooney's going down as a result of Almunia's infarction but strangely his defense also absolves Eduardo.
"This is not simulation despite Rooney's legs crumbling before being hit. Emmanuel Almunia missed the ball completely and would have wiped Rooney out potentially causing a nasty injury."
Errr. Um Ah. Then what exactly was Eduardo's going down all about? Maybe having suffered a horrific injury he had even more reason to take evasive action. And when you say "crumbling before being hit" it means a dive. At least it should unless Poll is in the business of dishing out relative morality which makes him more a man of the cloth than a man wearing stripes. I always suspected his real vocation passed him by. The bully pulpit suits him. That and Dancing with the Stars.
Sir Alex's throwing crumbs at the referees has to do with keeping them in his pocket. With his squad losing key players, favourable decisions in matches like we saw against Arsenal are going to even more important in determining their season. He will never lead player reform. Graham Poll is a tool. Meanwhile, Wenger is going out of his way to antagonize them. He should learn from the master in human observation.
Harry Redknapp reinforces his squad with the Croatian midfielder and he is also closing on David James.
Spurs looks distinctly like an alloy of Pompey with Peter Crouch already present in their ranks.
Kranjcar's never really delivered at Pompey although his talent is unmistakable. David James is getting on in age but is still a solid investment.
Shakhtar Donetsk had a spectacular opening to their new stadium, the Donbass Arena.