Saturday, September 29, 2007

Portsmouth Could Win The French Ligue 1

Ex-Portsmouth manager Alain Perrin is enjoying a new lease of managerial life with Lyon in the French Ligue 1, after his team demolished Papin-led Lens 3-0 over the weekend and returned to the top of the league. This is the same man who took over Portsmouth in the English Premier League and promptly led them close to relegation. But now, with a team filled with the likes of Milan Baros, and many other quality players whose names I cannot recall, perhaps he has found a league where his tactics fit and "his strategy is falling into place".

Now, perhaps if Portsmouth, rampant winners yesterday in the English Premier League with a resounding 7-4 thrashing of Reading, were to switch to the French Ligue 1, you might start seeing them in the Champions League.

Normal Service Has Been Resumed In The English Premier League

If you ever thought that Chelsea really could be considered among the top English clubs - you are either a new soccer fan, or a Chelsea fan.

Millions would not buy you tradition or long lasting success. It certainly helps to a certain extent, but success and standing requires a consistent and proven track record over a lengthy period of time. Sure, Chelsea won 2 of the last 3 English Premier League titles - but do they have the management, team, and patience to repeat that many years after?

Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich wants instant success - and sure enough he got some. But the decline is likely to set in unless he gives up his fantasy football dalliances and lets his club management team handle the business and the coach the team affairs.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are the real prosperous and enduring English teams - no matter how much you might hate Manchester United, for instance, you have to admit they are a well-drilled business machine yet they leave the manager to take care of the team, and reap the onfield benefits. Arsenal has the same model, coupled with sound financial management. Liverpool still has a family feel to it, and despite burdened by their past success, are a club with strong traditions and know the football way.

Yesterday's result for Chelsea could just be an aberration till they find a decent coach. But they will never ever be a big club, despite Peter Kenyon's assertion to the contrary and efforts to build a global Blue Empire. Till they have a large loyal fanbase over generations and run the club as a true blue football club instead of a plaything and pure business investment.

So Chelsea fans, there is no crisis. It's just back to modus operandi - the past 3 years were just a dream, albeit a beautiful one.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

American Jock Shoots From The Hip - Who Is David Beckham?

Well, this guy rubbishes soccer players and says soccer will never make it big in the States, due to the reasons stated in the article. I don't disagree with him - soccer will never ever make it big in the States - because it's filled with jocks like him.

The average American likes his sports 'heroes' to be big and strong and all bravado - sure who doesn't. But a team of big bullies don't mean you win everything - just look at their Dream Team of Basketball. Losing out to the skilful Europeans. They ain't invincible just because they're all pumped up with steroids.

Still he's probably making fun of his countrymen.

US Women's Soccer Team Coach Chickens Out

It appears that US Women's soccer team coach Greg Ryan has chickened out at the crunch. He has decided to bench their first choice goalkeeper Hope Solo, for the reserve (but veteran) Briana Scurry, during the World Cup semi-final game vs Brazil.

Looks like another Avram Grant.

Crouch Calls Out Referee Mafia

So, Peter Crouch has now called out the referee mafia to acknowledge what Graham Poll had claimed a few weeks back - that referees at the World Cup were ordered to hang him out to dry, to penalise the poor Liverpool striker for every little physical play dished out to opposing defenders.

Crouch has been utterly unfairly treated - look at the guy! He is a giant but incredibly thin - what harm can he pose to defenders in terms of unfair physical play? Shouldn't referees be protecting strikers instead? Defenders are more often the ones crashing into strikers.

I am all behind Crouch on this and hope that some massive changes are applied to referees and their mentalities and standards. The men in black should understand that they are just referees, not stars - and just follow the rules of the book in ensuring the game is played in fair spirit. What they have conspired to do has been totally unprofessional and brings the game into disrepute.

Sepp Blatter Wants Women To Challenge Him

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has praised the rising standards of women's soccer after witnessing the current Women's World Cup games, and visibly impressed by the games. He has now added that he hopes to see more female involvement in the power positions of FIFA.

However, he noted that the only way for women to do that is to challenge him.

I wonder when would women be part of FIFA.

A report here:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tanzanian Soccer, Anyone?

Torres The Terror

Once again, Reading failed to live with Liverpool's (mostly) reserve squad and got beaten up by a brilliant Fernando Torres hattrick. While it seems incredible that in a Liverpool shirt, Torres does not display any of the profligacy in front of goal compared to his time with Atletico Madrid, do note other than the goal he scored against Chelsea, the other few were against the lesser teams. Derby is not what you would really call a world-class setup.

That said, Reading have always been a battling club and have given a tough time to most of the other English Premier League giants. So has it been against Liverpool. Except that with the quality striking setup that we have now, it has been really easy scoring against Reading.

What was worrying was the defensive lapses that have been showing up of late. This time, it yielded 2 goals. Granted there were a few young ones in the backline but look at Arsenal! There has been a noticeable lack of concentration in the back four the past few games. And if they are not also weak in set pieces, it would be a flaw that teams would be quick to exploit.

Maybe Benitez is now looking over his shoulder. In a year's time, he might be out of a job, if he does not deliver.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sidwell, You Lucky Bloke! Reading Should Have Fired You!

Steve Coppell, manager of Reading, has reportedly indicated a desire to bring Steve Sidwell back to the club when the transfer window re-opens in January.

I can't believe this. The guy wanted money more than a chance to play. Everyone knows that if you don't get to play, you don't improve, you don't get noticed, you end up nowhere. So why move, unless you want the money?

Look at Melchiot!

So Reading fans, good luck. He might try his darndest if and when he returns, but it would only be to put himself in the shop window again.

Mourinho, You Asked For It!

So, the world is still reeling from the shock dismissal of Jose Mourinho from Chelsea F.C. Yes, I say 'dismissal' because the official statement had the words "mutual consent".

Anyway, Mourinho has since been reported to claim that John Terry, someone the world thought was one of his most trusted lieutenants, backstabbed him and convinced the board to boot him in the arse. And I have heard many who are branding John Terry a rat, a weasel, an ingrate and some other unmentionables.

But really, who is to blame for this?

It could well be you, Mr Mourinho!

Who was the one who had encouraged John Terry to stand up for what he believed to be right? Even in the face of any confrontations with the boss?

We know the history of John Terry. He was once a hoodlum, before his supposed turning over a new leaf, leading both Chelsea and England to further honours. (well ok, not with England) But he has shown increased aggressiveness recently on the field, and it probably stemmed from the encouragement of Mourinho - a side effect of his earlier advice.

Thus when Mourinho started questioning his fitness, Terry the man, the proud man and player, would definitely not have stood for any of it. He believes that he is fit. He believes that he is the best. Even Mourinho should not question his abilities.

And seeing how the team has stuttered of late, Terry believed the Mourinho empire was crumbling. And it was time to make a move, before any future personal glories could be jeopardised.

And so, he went to the Chelsea board. The rest, as they say, is...

... History.

Arsenal - The New Chelsea... And Actually Better!

Today's hottest news is that of Arsenal revealed to be Europe's richest club, just behind Real Madrid, in terms of revenue. This has been driven in part from their move to the gorgeous Emirates Stadium.

Will Arsenal now be the new Chelsea?

A huge warchest is now available for Arsene Wenger to purchase the world-class players that any club would want. And he might use it to (finally) craft a team capable of winning the Champions League. Afterall, who can win it with a team of kids, right? Heh.

But knowing Wenger, I doubt he would spend it unwisely. He'd probably get a few more untapped potentials from the depths of Africa, or the French ghettoes, and possibly even from the British slums.

And I applaud him for that. There's a perfect case study for everyone that while money can buy short term success in soccer, in the long term it just guarantees misery.

And we all know who we're talking about, aren't we, John Terry?

Gerrard The Troublemaker?

So it has been revealed that Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez had told England manager Steve McClaren that Steven Gerrard was in no condition to play any game, not to mention 2 critical games in a row. But he was fielded anyway in BOTH games.

And now he is struggling with Liverpool.

This was in total contrast to what he had said to the media during the international period - that Benitez was aware that he would play and had given his blessings.

So why the complaints now?

If he had any loyalty he should realise that it is the club that pays for his livelihood. Sure, he could always go to another club if he wasn't happy, but he would still face the same situation.

I am given to think that Benitez has brought the club as far as he could, but to blame it all on him for Liverpool's recent dreadful form might not be totally fair.

Afterall, it appears that Gerrard the prima donna is back.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Liverpool Needs An Injection

Of what?

Well, for starters, some cure for Balance. Well-roundedness.

Play well in the Premier League, and they will suck in the Champions League. To win the Champions League, they have to fall back in the EPL by 50 points.

Benitez has no clue whatsoever now. (But if he goes on and win the Premier League title, I'd say otherwise) I cannot even remember the last time they played this badly in the Champions League. It must have been the first half of the game against AC Milan when they actually won the cup!

I'm at a loss for words. Thus my drinking binge in a futile attempt to drown my sorrows. Hopefully they return to their best form this weekend and return to the top of the table. Because Arsenal will lose.

Robin Van Persie - getting too big for his boots. He should actually learn a few lessons from that cheeky little Portugese Ronaldo - who despite being a diving prima donna, still had enough manners in him to acknowledge the Sporting fans. The season is long yet, and let's see how Arsenal performs once a few injuries seep in and players get tired.

Alright, Arsenal walked all over Sevilla. But the scoreline did flatter them a wee bit. Looking back, you would not expect a team with an ex-Spurs striker to do much damage, especially since Spurs continued their dismal record vs Arsenal last weekend. I wonder when Burger Man would be back on the streets selling... hamburgers.

Jose Mourinho A Classic Case Study Of Knowing When To Quit?

Throughout his career, Mourinho has shown a willingness to quit when the going gets too rough i.e. he is not allowed to do anything he wants, team-wise.

Here's a good post on this:

Jose Mourinho Hits The Seth Godin Dip

There's some breaking news that he had a heated exchange with John Terry, who happened to be one of his favourite sons in the club. So, shocking, shocking.

Jose Mourinho To Join Liverpool

Well, where else can he go?

Or to be exact, it's the best move for him now after leaving Chelsea. Because there is no other club bigger in the world than Liverpool. If there is only ONE club which you should manage in your soccer managerial career, it is none other than Liverpool. The most successful soccer club in the whole world. The club with the world's best set of fans. The club that understands its manager. And will let him handle team matters totally, without interference.

Of course, there's the matter of Rafael Benitez. A good manager and servant to the club. However, he has shown that he cannot deliver any trophy except cups, unless the team happens to be in Spain.

Therefore, I'm sorry Rafa, you should leave to make way for The Special One.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Italian Serie A - Buy Francesco Totti

The man is on fire.

And fire the Tinkerman.

The Secret Revival Of The Young Gunners?

Having stormed their way to the top of the English Premier League the past weekend, Arsenal now look forward to doing the same on the European front. Sevilla stand in their way at Highbury, and look ripe for the kill after difficult times.

Or are they?

Since getting bamboozled by AC Milan in the European Super Cup (let's face it, they were not in the best mental state to deal with the game), Sevilla have gone quietly back to business. They were mighty impressive this past weekend in demolishing Recreativo, and this is a real team with no stars trying to get attention (cue Real Madrid or Barcelona).

Arsenal's young wanna-bes have done well, and even the normally jaded Soccer Rag was slightly impressed with the systematic destruction of another London team. But let's face it - it was Tottenham afterall. It won't be soon before BurgerMan gets shown the door, try as he might now by jamming his big frame while the club owner attempts to shove him out. The Gunners are playing with flair too - but perhaps they are still trying to prove the doubters wrong after Henry left - how long can this momentum last though?

I say Sevilla will show the kids they still have some way to go before Van Persie gets to talk big.

Will Liverpool See The Real Torres Soon?

A frightening remark made by Phil Ball of Soccernet reminded me again what I had previously thought of Torres, despite the bright start he has made in the English Premier League for Liverpool.

"Then against Latvia they struggled to score, although they created over 30 clear-cut chances. Well - Liverpool may well find out the truth about Torres - that he scores half as many as he should, but Spanish journalists know all about this."

Hopefully he shakes off this tag at Liverpool - needing twice as many chances to score a single goal. We might find out vs Porto this mid-week.

Still, I had a premonition - that Torres would be injured in the game and be out for half the season, Liverpool would lose and the same old story again for the whole year.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another World Cup Winner Can't Take The Pressure

And this is the one who actually says a lot, talks up the show and acts larger than life.

Luiz Felipe Scolari attacked Serbian defender Dragutinovic near the end of their Euro 2008 qualifier earlier in the week. He said that the player had insulted his family, thus he saw it fit to mete out his own brand of punishment.

Scolari apologised to practically the whole world, but then justified his actions ala Zinedine Zidane. He who insults my family, deserves to be physically assaulted.

While verbally abusing and causing hurt to someone and his family should never be condone, but retaliatory abuse should also be stamped out. All too often such offenders have been let off the hook, with only fines and match bans. Cantona, Zidane and now Scolari.

I say deal out a heavier punishment. Perhaps serving some time or community service. (Well ok, Cantona did some community service I think)

Would you just fine a murderer when he killed because he was angered by someone insulting his family?

Same Old Moans In The English Premier League

After each international break, you get the same old complaints from the various English Premier League managers.

"Change the fixture list! The players are tired!"

Which actually translates to "My players are jaded after starring for their countries - and I'm gonna lose my next game with tired players and my head on the chopping block!"

Benitez, Curbishley and lord-knows-who's-next will be heard and seen all over the media the next couple of days.

Face it guys, you get the top players, deal with the additional demands. Benitez, you've got a huge squad now with great depth. So make use of it! Let's see if Liverpool are really Champion material!

The New England Manager

Yes, McClaren is not England's manager. In fact, for the past week, he has shown himself to not even know what the team would do next. He told the press the team would be changed, but what trooped out on Wembley vs Russia was the same 11 vs Israel.

So there is really someone new behind the helm. Well, not exactly new.

It's Terry Venables. And now you are beginning to hear more of him in the press.

Why did England look different this week? Why did they steamroll over supposedly strong opponents?

Terry Venables.

The New England Manager.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

England Will Win The Euro Championships!

I can just imagine it now. Even the headlines on goes something like this:

"England vanquishes Russia"

You get the idea.

They did play well this time - going at the serial World Cup chokers and not allowing them time on the ball. Perhaps Roman did bribe the Russians afterall - to lose!

The pint-sized money-grubbing striker and his gentle giant of a water carrier do really have something going on there. And don't ever accuse England of being long-ball practitioners again - Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole (I love this guy), Owen - the 3 stooges but laughing all the way to the goalposts now.

But really, England should mourn despite the great result.

Because this means clueless McClaren will stay for awhile yet.

Fergie Gets a Hairspray Treatment...

In a different way.

Unfortunately I cannot gloat over this as it is of a violent nature and I never condone such things.

What happened was Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, was attacked in Euston subway station in England. For what, I do not know. But apparently he was injured (leg) and the man has been arrested for bodily assault or something.

Hopefully Ferguson recovers soon. Otherwise Manchester United will be in mid-table by the time he comes back.

Monday, September 10, 2007

England Football Is Great Again!

Or is it?

Same old cycle. They lose, they suck. They win, they're gonna win the World Cup! Or the Euro Championships.

The Israelis were terrible. They made someone like Garreth Barry look like Maradona, sans the (lack of) height! Shaun Wright-Philips looked like a miniature Thierry Henry snaking through their defence! And Juggernaut Heskey looked like he was playing for Leicester!

Alright, alright, the lack of posts recently has been due to the international week, or MY international break. They're about as fun or exciting to watch as staring at porridge dribble off a baby's mouth. Mark Gonzalez would have done better.

Anyway, if you haven't already done so, do visit Nothing But Soccer - a new blog by a friend of mine who thinks he's a soccer expert just because he knows Kasper Schmeichel's Peter's son. He has obviously taken to blogging, but maybe it's because he thinks he's in a chatroom.

Arsenal Lost A Good One

David Bentley, young and one of the better and more inventive English players that are slowly becoming extinct in the Europe Premiership.

David Bentley, strong and not afraid to make decisions that would upset a whole country.

David Bentley, does not give an arse(nal) about what others think and I applaud him for that. He made a great decision to leave the Gunners, because he really needed playing time for his career to flourish and to grow as a player. Not a slight to the Highbury team but maybe they should offer opportunities to their home-grown talent as well.

I am not sure if he did fine when he came on as a substitute for England over the weekend though. Anyway, against that horrid Israel, even Emile Heskey looked good.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Drag of International Soccer

Once again, the glut of international games are dawning on us. Personally I detest these games as they are incredibly boring and are played so late in the night (or morning) in Singapore. You can just imagine the potent mix that provides.

So what's new this time? England, once again, struggling to qualify?

They should have dumped that clueless McClaren. It is the sign of how international soccer is now a joke when you see so many unproven or plain dumpy managers in charge of the big soccer nations. Apart from that dull but typical example of an Englishman McClaren, you have Steve Staunton, Van Basten, and many others. What have they achieved, other than having distinguished playing careers (sans McClaren of course)?

Referee Mafia - Time to Weed Them Out!

There has been much talk and controversy over bribery scandals, players cheating and clubs agreeing to fix matches. But one growing negative aspect of the game is the influence of the Referee Mafia in world football.

A shocking revelation by English ex-referee Graham Poll has revealed how the World Cup referee panel had singled out players for special treatment. In this particular instance, Peter Crouch was mentioned. The explanation was that he was a dirty player, in the way he uses his arms during games to gain physical leverage and all. But let's face it - this is done by hundreds and thousands of players - to specifically single out one is like putting a price on his head - a soccer equivalent of hiring a hitman!

What they should have done is just to emphasise to referees of the kind of play that should not be allowed, instead of pointing out any particular player!

Kudos to the big mouth of Poll in revealing this. This new Mafia should be eradicated and players kept safe from a group of individuals who have clearly grown too big for their whistles!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Russian Oilfields Drying Up For Chelsea?

Whenever Chelsea and Russian billionaire Abramovich leaves early during a Chelsea game, it will set the media tongues wagging. It was no different this time for the game vs Aston Villa.

What was interesting, but not the least bit unusual to me, was Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho claiming his boss's behaviour was nothing significant, and that he probably just wanted to avoid traffic.

Well, definitely! He is a rich and busy man - if he did not want to avoid traffic even after sitting through a horribly boring game, would he be in his present position in world business?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Big Red Liverpool Machine and Burger Squeeze

If not for that 'ghost' penalty, Liverpool would be sitting alone at the top of the English Premier League table and staring down smugly at the rest of the competition. While that team of blue billionaires at Chelsea have a chance to join us from Villa Park today, Liverpool will still be top of the league by virtue of goal difference.

And we have to thank Derby for that. I honestly believe this team will be relegated by mid-season, while not mathematically, but in spirit and play. This team is a circus act if you ask me!

Once again, virtually all who got to play in the Liverpool team were impressive, except for some lackadaisical defending at times. Derby did us a favour as well by fielding a posse of clowns. Perhaps Stevie Gerrard would be worrying a little that the team does not seem to be missing him!

Over at Craven Cottage, while I did not get it exactly correct that the home team would win, but it goes to show again my point about not assuming results based on past performances, even ones that are just a season old. Spurs might have been coasting to a win at a certain point, but they have shown to be a defensively frail this season, and see how they crumbled!

Under the weight of the Soccer Rag, I must say. ;)