November 4 – getting stuck into Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez has made quite a debut in English football. If he isn’t the POY, he’s certainly in the conversation. About the only thing that appears holding up back is his propensity to go to ground a little too easily. Oh and some allegations that he might require some diversity training with John Terry and Ron Atkinson. Scott Murray, though, sees Suarez as miscast as a villian by the media and fans.

Suarez, to me, brings it on himself. The penalty against West Brom was softish but he didn’t dive or even exaggerate the contact. He got that reputation for his pratfall from the Jack Rodwell tackle, though, something I spotted and it is apparently noted by his fellow professionals. Now English fans and media types tend to howl loudly when Robert Pires or Didier Drogba toppled over under little or no contact and tend to overlook starfishing by “honest” British players. Murray’s point is a good one but hopefully Suarez will have learned something about staying on his feet, too.

While others celebrate Beetface’s 25 years in greater Salford by reminiscing about their favourite Fergie story (mine remains him losing his rag at the media during the Veron press conference), Daniel Taylor points out the daunting task of succession planning. He is, after all, 70, and can’t do the job forever. Can he? Some interesting anecdotes about how the spectre of Sir Matt Busby hung over his successor like the Sword of Damocles.

To football’s most successful property developers and a breaking story involving American Brek Shea, who will apparently train with Wenger’s brittle tots during the MLS off-season. I’ve heard lots of good things about Shea so I’m interesting to see what happens. It would be very good news to see an American international at a Champions League club because, selflishly, I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a streaming site for Arsenal games.

And James Horncastle reports on Sinisa Mihajlovic’s failed charm offensive at Fiorentina. If anybody wonders whether Terry and Suarez can recover if they are found guilty of racial abuse, google “Mihajlovic and Vieira” to see what pops up.

November 4

To sun-kissed greater Manchester, home of Nemjana Vidic and a city never sleeps. Well, at least on Mario Balotelli’s street. Both of the local clubs turned in decent performances against modest opposition and were, naturally enough, bigged up endlessly by Fleet Street slurp merchants. United defeated a Romanian side so modest that had Liam Brady channeling his inner Alan Shearer on RTE (“don’t know anything about them”) as opposed to straining himself to, y’know, do his job and actually pick up a phone and do some research. Embarrassing.

Anyway, Wayne Rooney’s turn in midfield had the great and good (and never-were halfwits) on Fleet Street hyping him into the next Zidane/Xavi blah, blah, blah. I’ll only pick one *covers eyes* and (drum roll) it’s Rory Smith. OK, this isn’t nearly as nauseating as some of the match commentaries. Nor is it the first time Rooney has showcased his skills as a playmaker. I’ve always thought his most natural role was second striker, a position where he’s shone for both England and United. It’s not all that surprising that, given the number of forwards available for selection, Lord Beetface might look at giving him a cameo in the middle of the park. After all, it’s either Rooney or Michael Carrick – a dilemma that screams lesser of two evils.

Rooney is a complete footballer who doesn’t get enough credit from neutrals or people who actively dislike United (or even United supporters who won’t forgive him for blackmailing the club into an extension). But I’d take him at Holloway Road in an instant. So would Wenger. And players such as RvP would welcome him in open arms because of his unselfishness to do whatever it takes to win. If England had two or three more players with his attitude and ability, they’d bother the Spains, Germanys and Hollands at this year’s Euros.

To the Middleastlands, where the neighbours finally made some belated noise in the Champions League by tonking a mixed Villarreal squad of first-teamers and u-17s. The conductor of the orchestra was David Silva, whose gift is simplicity according to Sid Lowe. If Silva is the conductor, what is Yaya Toure? A monster performance. Silva may get the plaudits but Stockport Massive have the new Vieira. I’m looking forward to seeing him go head to head with Alex Song and seeing whether Kolo’s younger brother is able to impose himself on a match to that same degree. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luis Gustavo certainly blunted his influence when Abu Dhabi FC played at FC Hollywood. Oh and I wonder how many of the many pundits on Fleet Street who wrote off Mario Balotelli while he was screwing around with his training bib or enraging his manager with a comical backheel in a friendly have to say right now. Mancini might just be right about the kid being one of the 10 best footballers in the world.

Staying in greater Salford, Beetface’s 25-year anniversary is looming large and there’s been plenty of talk of perches and fledglings and trebles and hairdryers from misty-eyed journos who want to inject themselves into the narrative of Fergie’s 25 years. The most hilarious being Alan Hansen’s contorted logic suggesting he might deserve some credit for suggesting “you’ll never win anything with kids.” Easily the best and funniest that I read so far is Andy Mitten’s memoir of an interview on a tour of Scandinavia in the early 1990s. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts. Anniversaries really don’t do much for me these days as mine tend to involving buying more expensive presents with increasingly diminishing returns (“you want to do WHAT to me? WHERE” You can sleep downstairs tonight mister! Just leave the diamond earrings on my nightstand.)

Speaking of diminishing returns, Norman Hubbard grades the FSG’s buys for Dalglish FC. I’m a little disappointed here. I naturally reckoned Suarez and Jose Enrique would be dubbed “King Kenny” buys whilst Henderson and Downing would be labelled as “Damien Comolli purchases.” It is remarkably fair-minded by Soccernet standards to paint them all with the same brush. The grades seem a little generous in some cases. I’ve not seen enough of Coates or Bellamy to form a strong opinion and I suspect that’s the case with Old Mother Hubbard, too, and he just pulled those numbers from the same place where our marketing folks get their sales projections.

Wednesday

Lots of meetings today so, as the wheeler-dealer might say, here’s the bare bones.

The ever-excellent Swiss Ramble looks at Derby County’s American Dream.

Tom Williams looks at how life on the Continent is suiting Joe Cole.

And that is all. Off to catch my flight.

Tuesday

At the start of the season, Fleet Street’s conventional wisdom on Newcastle had calcified into somewhere between apprehension and gloom. The reason: Tubby Ashley had ripped the English spine out of the bar codes, selling on ponytailed felon Andy Carroll to Liverpool for 35m quid and dispatching captain Kevin Nolan – invariably described as the leader and heartbeat of the squad — to West Ham. After spending much of the summer in open warfare agitating for a new contract and complaining the club had sold its best players, Twitiot philopher king (and convict) Joseph Barton left for pastures new in London. Replacing them were “untried” and “untested” players such as Demba Ba (seven goals in 10 starts for West Ham) and midfield playmaker Yohann Cabaye (winner of Ligue 1 in France with Lille). What’s worse, these signings added to a growing foreign contingent that included midfield hardman Chiek Tiote, wide boy Jonas Gutierrez and centre half Fabricio Coloccini. This move was seen as trying to buy success on the cheap and ripping out the veteran presence of blood-and-guts English “leaders” such as Carroll, Nolan and Barton would doom the Geordies to a relegation fight.

On a cold Monday in Stoke, those effete foreigners moved up to third by going out and kicking nine bells out of Air Marshall Pulis’ hoofball merchants thanks to free signing Ba, whose hat trick in the match bettered Carroll’s goal total (two) in the league for Dalglish FC. Louise Taylor examines the role that Newcastle’s manager Eyore Pardew has had in shaping the miracle on the Tyne.

Speaking of pundits in disgrace, Alan Hansen is shrieking about the state of the Three Lions’ battered back line in wake of Rio’s fitness issues and JT’s lack of pace. Did he miss the past two World Cups? England’s defensive decline started when Big Sol lost his pace and then his place to JT, who has been a good defender but invariably gets found out against top clubs. This is why the omelet maker always made sure to surround him with world-class defenders such as Ricky Carvalho and Billy Gallas. Oh and stick Michael Essien in front of him. Branislav Ivanovic is a good defender but hardly in the class of Gallas or Carvalho. David Luiz has an, um, unique interpretation of what a centre half is supposed to do. It’s similar to how Andre Santos interprets left back.

The gloom for English football continued when FIFA and France Football announced the short list for the Ballon D’Or, which included just one English player – Wayne Rooney. There was no room for PFA POY Gareth Bale or the FWA POY Scott Parker, which has more than a few John Bull wandering grassy knolls muttering darkly about anti-English sentiment among those garlic-eating Continental types who seem to be fascinated with fipperies such as “technique” rather than honest, hard-running, blood-and-guts football.

Nick Miller, meanwhile, lists the most irritating utterances made by commentators. What’s sad is that Nick likely has never experienced Ian Darke and Steve McManaman calling a match, something that has forced me to mute the television on more than a couple of occasions.

Sticking with the North American theme, Ian Plenderleith suggests manic English managers could learn a thing or two from the Tony LaRussa school of stoicism. Totally agree. It’s a little embarrassing to see Arsene Wenger acting like an incontinent coke addict every time a call goes against Holloway Road Properties. He’s certainly lost his professorial demeanor. And his dignity on more than a couple of occasions. And he is far from being alone.

Finally, Tim Vickery runs the rule over past and present starlets from Columbia. He’s right to mark out James Rodriguez, who looks like an outstanding prospect.

Monday afternoon

Of course, just after I post the links, we have some heavyweights provide their raw and unexpurgiated thoughts. Gabriele Marcotti explains the importance of Robin van Persie while Jonathan Wilson looks at the catastrophic defensive strategy employed by Chelsea. Michael Cox analyzes the Ch3l5ea-Ar53nal match and Juve’s win.

Monday morning

To the sophisticated and exotic rolling hills of South Yorkshire, where Halloween pranking is taken very seriously. Embracing that spirit is local side Doncaster Rovers, who decided to treat their fans with an impromptu signing of the shy and retiring El-Hadji Diouf, a Senegal international and — along with John Terry, Emmanuel Adebayor, Joey Barton, and Craig Bellamy – one of football’s good guys. It should be an interesting three months ahead for the Championship outfit, their fans and their opponents. Oh and if you see this tastefully appointed Caddy, Rovers fans, turn and walk the other way. Quickly.

Moving west to the, um, Middleastlands Stadium, where autocratic dictator Roberto Mancini’s heavy handed reign of terror continues. This week’s victim is Adam Johnson, who is garnering considerably more sympathy on Fleet Street than previous Mancini targets Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko, Emmanuel Adebayor or Mario Balotelli. In fact, the last time you heard similar grumbling about Mancini’s heavy hand from the press was when the Italian lowered the boom on some of the club’s Brit Pack (specifically Gareth Barry, Johnson and Joe Hart) for what the Daily Mail — a journal of incredibly high repute — described as a boozy golf trip last year. I’m a little surprised not to read a dimwitted pundit suggested Arab Spring has yet to arrive at Abu Dhabi FC or a comparison with Mussolini from one of the shrieker xenophobes on Fleet Street. Don’t worry, though. It will come as surely as the winter snow. After all, some halfwits had the temerity to suggest Robin van Persie was performing a Nazi salute in celebrating his goals against West End Rent Boys.

Speaking of which, David Pleat arrives with a postmortem about the high line employed by Andres Villas-Boas. It was something of a shootout at Stamford Bridge but Holloway Road Properties seemed to defend a lot better in the second half. Chelsea were probably playing their first-choice back four, at least two of Arsenal’s best defenders (Vermaelen and Sagna) were missing. The other piece to consider was in the midfield, where Aaron Ramsey ran the match, ably assisted by Mikel Arteta and Alex Song (whose brilliant turn and pass to set up Andre Santos). The visitors’ hammerlock on midfield exposes how much Chelsea miss Michael Essien.

Michael Cox, meanwhile, looks at Aaron Lennon’s positioning, Swansea City’s possession, Fernando Torres’ anonymity,  Michael Jackson FC’s effective narrowness and Daniel Agger’s distribution. 

Paolo Bandini sees Juventus ghost past Inter in the Derby D’Italia. The talking points from this match should include how Antonio Conte has wrung much improved performances out of Claudio Marchisio and Alessandro Matri, who were both excellent for the visitors. This might be down to the quality of some of the bianconeri’s summer signings such as Arturo Vidal, Mirko Vucinic and, most especially, Andrea Pirlo. If Juve have the look of title contenders, Inter seem a year past their sell-by date.

With diminishing returns from well-paid warhorses Julio Cesaar (32), Ivan Cordoba (35), Lucio (33), Walter Samuel (33), Cristan Chivu (31), Javier Zanetti (38), Dejan Stankovic (33), Esteban Cambiasso (31) and Diego Milito (32), at what point does Claudio Ranieri punt this season to focus on the development of some of the squad’s young talent (Andrea Ranocchia, Ricky Alvarez, Joel Obi, Phillippe Coutinho, Luc Castaignos)? Does Inter entertain offers for their remaining big-ticket assets Wesley Sneijder and Maicon? Finally, how much will selling Mario Balotelli and Davide Santon set back Inter?

Let’s end in Germany, where Raphael Honigstein wonders how long Borussia Monchengladbach can hold on to starlet Marco Reus. Here’s hoping the fallen Westphalian giants do keep Reus and continue to bother the top of the Bundesliga. I remember seeing the odd grainy clip of them back as a youngster in the 70s, when their name definitely rang out in Edmonton’s soccer community.

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36 comments
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  1. @SL

    Thrilling match! Everyone knows RVP is class (reminds me more and more of van Basten). He should play Ramsey and Wilshire in the center (as box to box mids) and pair Song with Mertesecker in central defense with Vermaellen at LB… at least in the CL knockouts. Just imagine where we would be if Wenger actually addressed the defensive frailties.. sorry to say but Mertesecker and Santos are not the solution.”

    Nice to see you back on the bandwagon while straddling the fence at the same time! lol

    I had thought we wouldn’t be hearing from you after Holloway Road Properties had passed your declared test by winning against Air Marshall Pulis’ hoofball merchants and winning away at the Stade Velodrome, picking up a clean sheet to boot.

  2. @shmish

    “That’s two really strong games in a row for Ramsey, and I think he was showing this with his confidence today. Santos is a strange duck. But his runs forward are something we haven’t seen since Cole left (I think?). When was the last time Sagna or Clichy tore down the center? That’s not to take a jab at Clichy or Sagna, but to signify the difference with Santos. I saw a “best of” clip of Ashley Cole the other day, and some of his best contributions were not down the side but up the middle. I still say that it was a big mistake to let him go, albeit it inevitable because of the money issue.”

    Thank God somebody else acknowledged Ramsey’s contribution to the win. RvP grabbed the goals and headlines but our midfield was dominant. It took a little time for them to gain familiarity with each other. Ramsey ran the match. That’s one thing Fabregas or Nasri never did at the Bridge (although, to be fair, they were facing a much stronger Chelsea midfield). Fingers crossed that this threesome can stay healthy and Song can avoid picking up more pointless yellow cards to avoid a cheap and inconvenient suspension.

  3. @disturbance

    “SL-Why are you still on about the “defensive frailties”? You used to use United as your example and look what City did to them at Old Trafford. Every team has its vulnerabilities and Arsenal just need to find a new focal point (RVP) and watching Arsenal lately, it brings back recent memories of when they had a certain Frenchman in their team(TH14).”

    He’s conveniently forgotten Arsene was forced to pick his third-choice right back, who was targeted early and often by Chelsea. And Djourou, to his credit, managed to play better than either of Chelsea’s first-choice fullbacks.

  4. @ewtt

    “Arsenal’s defensive frailties are still quite apparent but they managed to win an absolute thriller. Hands down that will be the best the PL has to offer this season for a match.”

    To be fair, they seemed to defend a lot better in the second half. Mata’s goal had a huge slice of luck to it and should have been chalked off for a clear foul by Lukaku on Santos in the build up.

    “Chelsea continue to play a high line and Arsenal did a magnificent job of taking what Chelsea gave them and counter attacking with pace which is something Chelsea have routinely struggled with this season. I see no reason why Arshavin should play in any PL match again after Gervinho’s display.”

    There’s rumblings that Arshavin may move in January or the summer.

    “Djourou looked lost at times at right back and Santos positional play speaks for itself but their play in the second half, particularly after going up 3-2 was very good. A lot of that, of course, had to do with Ramsey and Arteta dictating the tempo.”

    Djourou is lost at right back. Santos continues to charge forward crazily at inappropriate times.

    “Still want Wenger out? Daft mugs.”

    We haven’t heard much about his arrogance or stubborness lately, have we?

    United 1 Everton 0

    “Wheeyyy!! A clean sheet… Much of that had to do with Rooney finally waking up and dropping back to help out the overmatched midfield Fergie loves to use. Evra decided to track back/follow runs, Evans limited his shiteness to one poor pass, and the whole team thought it best to try and block some shots from reaching De Gea. Not bad…”

    Evans did let Seamus Coleman skip by him with criminal ease early in the first half but it looked like sturdy display otherwise. Evra looked a lot better than I’ve seen him this season.

    ““Simon Cowell, shagged your wife.” Nice one Arsenal.”

    A new favourite of mine.

  5. Not sure if anyone caught Inter v Juve but that was another cracking match, particularly from a Juve persepective.

    They looked controlled throughout and Liechsteiner caused all kinds of problems down Inter’s right hand side. Pirlo had another great match making Milan look like complete tits. It’s been shades of the old Juve this season whilst looking very new at the sign time.

  6. Dist:

    Alright there. kidda. You lost too?

    http://tomkinstimes.com/2011/10/feeling-lost-where-are-we/

  7. EWTT-Haha naw I’m good buddy.

    I’m not a big Tomkins guy. I find he is loved by the those who really don’t understand the game. He’ll contort stats at time to prove his point.

    You’ll never hear Tomkins bring this stat up: “Hodgson: P31 W13 D9 L9 – Dalglish: P32 W15 D8 L9″

    Now sure Hodgson had some of those games against Europa League sides but lets not kid ourselves, he neither had the resources nor the stability that Kenny has going right now. (If you bring this stat up on LFC.TV you’re automatically called a manc)

    Its just one of those things about being a Liverpool fan. Those with the loudest voices tend to get heard more and then its like sheep following their leader.

    Since the sale of Xabi, every manager, even Tomkins’ messiah(I really do like Benitez, I swear, it just gets tiring hearing people talk about him as if he didn’t have his struggles) struggled to have consistent results. Its just Hodgson wasn’t “Liverpool”. Thats all it was and why its sad to be a Liverpool fan right now. We had to go back to the 80′s to feel like we were moving forward.

    In any case, I’m more confused by Newcastle’s start. Where the fuck did this come from?

  8. Let me clarify my quote about if you like Tomkins you don’t understand football. Its not really people who don’t understand, its really people who don’t really follow the club ON THE PITCH who have an affinity for him. They look at results and if its the wrong result for Liverpool they will check his latest column and what excuse he’ll have up there and preach it as gospel.

    It just gets very tiresome, thats all.

  9. Dist:

    A good reason why Newcastle are winning right now… http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2011/nov/01/newcastle-united-alan-pardew-plaudits

    A reason why they may struggle in the near future… http://soccernet.espn.go.com/team/fixtures/_/id/361/league/eng.1/newcastle-united?cc=5901

    Your points on Tomkins are exactly what I’ve been thinkning for years. The same sort of opinions exist at United as well, especially after the 6-1 drubbing. I go to United Rant for my fan analysis as they don’t let United off the hook for displays that are poor and don’t expect them to win the title after every win.

    As for Liverpool, its very simple. The NESV plan means nothing without CL football. Everything they do has to be geared towards it or they’ll end up owning Spurs.

  10. EWTT-Thanks for the link. Its amazing what coaches can see and are able to analyze with technology where it is right now. Pardew had some the Hammers playing some exciting football when they had Yossi and Co making that run to the Cup final. My biggest problem with him was he was cocky bastard. I’m not surprised by his success, just surprised to see Newcastle playing this well this soon.

    And yeah, haha, I saw their schedule. I actually took a look at it about a month ago to see how they shaped up against Liverpool. To be honest, I thought they would’ve lost by now(Spurs game) but they have played really well in some of their first tough games.

    As for Liverpool(or any club), it will always about getting to CL first. You can’t spend 24m quid on JH and CA and expect to be successful if thats the only investment that you’re able to make. With the new rules they need to refill the coffers to get some better players who can take them forward and thats obviously through the CL.

  11. BTW didn’t catch the Inter-Juve game but saw the scoreline…is Inter playing that poorly?

  12. Dist:

    Ciao can speak on Inter’s poor play better than I could but from what I’ve seen from them in various matches they’ve been poor to average. The three man defense didn’t help their start and they still seem to be trying to adjust out of that with Ranieri. You know how it is, though. If you’re down near the bottom of the table in November you probably deserve to be.

  13. That was a pretty mature performance from a side that looked pretty tired in the second half. We really could have been two or three up in the first half but for some spurned opportunities from Ramsey, Gervinho and Park. The first two looked very dangerous and were heavily involved in our build-up play. The ball didn’t break kindly for them near the goal and their touch occasionally let them down. In the end, it was a valuable draw. We still needed to close out Dortmund to finish as group winners.

    Very impressed with our back four tonight. Outside of the inevitable bit of craziness from Andre Santos, Vermaelen and Mertesacker barely put a foot wrong. Young Jenkinson looked very fresh, too. Roll on Gunners. We’ve got West Brom at home and a small matter of revenge for last year’s inelegant drubbing at the Emirates.

  14. @disturbance@ewtt

    Obviously, I’ll happily defer to CIAO. Inter looked disjointed under Gasperini’s system but they’ve been somewhat unfortunate at times when I’ve seen them play at other times, with their strikers spurning plenty of chances that would have been finished by Eto’o (which has made his departure felt more keenly by Interistas). I did see the weekend match and Juve earned the victory. Inter continue to strike me a team in the middle of a whole-scale transition, with the Zanetti generation not yet willing to leave and a group of kids who need more playing time. I posted a number of questions about Inter on the blog and I’m sort of curious to hear CIAO’s take on them as well as other opinions. I don’t think they’ll be competing for the Scudetto but they’ve got too much quality to sit in the bottom half of the table. They’ll wind up bothering the Champions League positions but the bulk of their work will take place in January and next summer, when they will have to make some difficult decisions.

  15. AG:

    Santos…one of the worse defenders in Arsenal history? Vermaalen, however, was terrific and seems to have come back with a purpose.

    The athleticism of Marseille really kept Arsenal in check at times. There were a lot of opportunities that Arsenal had on the break that came apart simply because of Marseille’s ability to run with them. Of course, it helped that RVP was on the bench for the majority of the match as well.

    I don’t really remember the questions but Inter looked hopeless under Gasperini. They’ve looked a little better since going back to a four man defense but, as you said, they’re in transition.

  16. Totally unrelated to football and I’m sure you lot have seen this already but this was just amazing to me… http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2011/11/fbi-documents-detail-lives-training-russian-spies-who-lived-cambridge/lQEeBbDebNHccFmfBNMUWO/index.html

    The Anna Chapman bird is fit as well.

  17. @ewtt

    Santos is a puzzle. He can look like the best and worst defender on the pitch in the same half. His positioning is, um, interesting, and his decision-making have probably caused more grey hair for Arsene than Senderos, Stepanovs or Cygan. Combined. On the other hand, he is a very good tackler and technically amazing. I’m sure Wenger didn’t envision Gibbs being the “safe” option at left back when he bought a 27-year-old Brazilian international.

    L’OM’s athleticism troubled us almost as much as some poor touches, final balls and decision-making in the box from Gervinho and Ramsey, both of whom tired visibly. Gervinho was a nearly man in that he really could have scored a hat trick with some better first touches.

    Park looked overawed by the occasion but I understand Wenger’s rationale in wanting to rest RvP. The international break will come as something of a relief, particularly if RvP picks up a slight Fergie-ish knock against the Brummies and is unable to travel for Holland’s friendly.

  18. Just googled Anna Chapman and she’s quite the spy! lol

  19. @AG

    Santos has had a few very good tackles, for sure. I’m not one to ask about positioning but he does seem to be up the pitch a bit. On the other hand, I haven’t noticed him screwing up any offsides. His attacking play so far is miles ahead of Clichy and Sagna. Exponentially more dangerous imo. And as much as I like Sagna, that isn’t necessarily saying much about his ability to take a shot or make a cross.

  20. @shmish

    Largely agree with you. Sagna’s attacking is, though, a good deal better than Santos’ defending. It’s incumbent on either our anchor or whomever is flanking RvP on the left to be frosty whenever the Brazilian is on the pitch.

  21. AG:

    I’m with you on Rooney’s influence in the middle. He wasn’t exactly a driving force and the opposition sat back for most of the match and allowed him space to pass. He had a good game but it was nothing memorable. John O’Shea had a more memorable time between the sticks at WHL.

    I read Mitten’s article yesterday. I’ve got painful memories of that UWS magazine he referred to. Any utter hopeless points for you with The Gunners? I’m gonna guess its pre-Wenger.

    I’m still not sure why waiting for Young was the better option when Silva was available. Oh, right…value.

  22. @ewtt

    The most hopeless time for me? When GG got sacked over bungs and watching that season down the toilet after so much promise the previous year. God we were bloody awful that year. Merse went into rehab and, as I recall, we finished in the bottom half of the table. To top it off, we lost the Cup Winners Cup in an extra time on a speculative hoof from a Spurs old boy. Remember that? Thinking about it makes my teeth ache.

    Worst moment, though, was hearing about Rocky’s death, though. Just awful.

    “I’m still not sure why waiting for Young was the better option when Silva was available. Oh, right…value.”

    Nobody can ever accuse you of lacking a sense of humor. I laughed so hard that beer came out of my nose!

  23. OK, dilemma time. I cannot get the Arsenal-West Brom match on any of the television packages that I buy. (They will re-broadcast it at 7 p.m. that night. Does anybody know where I could watch on the internet? I think the kids call it a streaming service or something like that.

  24. FYI it is being shown on Sportsnet WORLD aka the rebranded Canadian version of Setanta Sports. It’s a $15 a month service in my neck of the woods but really for the amount of games you get to watch, I’ve found it worth it so far. The really ridiculous part right now though, is that with Shaw, they don’t offer it in HD… IT IS 2011 YOU IMBECILES, sports should be shown in HD by default you bloody idiots.

    I had to go this route ever since my old streaming service was removed from active duty.

  25. Are you sure, RDM? I do have Sportsnet World (I was an original Setanta subscriber when it first arrived in Canada) but the online listings didn’t show that game being broadcast as of yesterday. I’ll go check it out again.

  26. I should’ve known you’d already be a subscriber! ;)

    I’ve had hit or miss results by going with even the Shaw guide right off my cable box. Just this week for instance it was telling me that I could only watch the Valencia v Leverkusen match on Sportsnet (not World or One just the standard channel) when in actual fact it was Arsenal v Marseille as was correctly reported online.

    I’ve had much better luck setting the PVR and tuning in to the right game by using http://footballtvcanada.blogspot.com/ and ignoring what is supposedly correct in my TV guide.

    EDIT – Also I double checked to make sure I wasn’t seeing things and it’s possible we’re both right. It’s not actually being shown in the morning on Sportsnet World but at 9pm Eastern. Thanks so very much Sportsnet…

  27. I don’t have a TV so if I want to catch any matches I’ve got to find them online. http://www.livefootballol.com/ is great in this respect, it maintains multiple links to just about every live match. In order to watch you need a piece of software called sopcast. http://www.livefootballol.com/download-p2p-software.html

    Hope that helps you, now I’ll just go back to reading in silence…

  28. I’ve been watching games streaming for a couple of years. We haven’t had cable or satellite tv for a long time, which is nice but does make watching footy a bit difficult. Unfortunately, when it comes to soccer a person has to buy all of the basic and mid-end station crap just to get the soccer channels. With that kind of business model, I have no qualms in resorting to streams.

    Keep your eyes on this forum: http://forum.wiziwig.eu/forums/23-Saturday

  29. I’m going to join in and choose my XI for Fergie in the years I have watched:

    Schmeichel
    Neville Ferdinand Stam Irwin
    Beckham Keane Scholes Giggs
    Ronaldo Rooney

    Subs:
    Ole
    Yorke
    Cantona
    Robson
    Evra
    Vidic
    Van Der Saar

    Now reasons for my selections: First off I think you can only have one volatile person on the pitch at a time and Ronaldo is a better all around attacker than Cantona. I think Cantona had better vision on the pitch but Ronaldo’s ability on the ball, in the air and two-footedness is unparalleled. Also I think United couldn’t reach its true potential until Cantona had left the team. Sure he was an amazing player but he took up too much of the ball and wasn’t able to bring United over that European hump(of course you could argue that he didn’t have the same talent around him but…)

    Second, I think Ferdinand in his prime is a lot better player than Vidic is and thats for one reason: he has(I mean had) a lot more pace. Stam was an absolute rock(albeit, if rumors are to be believed, the rock was more due to HGH than anything else but I digress…) and Irwin edges out Evra because he was United through and through.

    The final players in the XI seem automatic to me. No challenges any of them and it makes me question people who have Ronaldo over Beckham on the right side of midfield. His passing/crossing/free-kicks were(and still is) so unbelievable that to leave him out makes me wonder how much of football these people actually watched. Beckham could control a match from the right flank and that says a lot.

    As for the subs you have to have Ole. Yorke was a great addition for United and seemed, with Stam, to be the final pieces of the United puzzle. Vidic is still a quality defender and Evra in his prime was very good at shutting down opposing players attacking from the right because of his pace. Robson, Cantona and Van Der Saar speak for themselves.

    As for the omissions, I will only speak of Van Nistelrooy. Obviously his goal-record speaks volumes but I really do think he would hurt a quick-strike, full pressuring side this United team would be.

    There you have it….and I still think Gerrard would tear this team, or any Sir has, apart.

  30. Found a streaming site and have watched Holloway Road Properties largely stroll to a composed lead at halftime. Great through ball from Ramsey sprung Walcott, whose shot straight at a luckless Foster, who saw RvP slot home the rebound.

    RvP was the pivot for the second. Song stood up a great ball to an unmarked RvP at the back stick. He volleyed across a ball that an unmarked Vermaelen thumped home from the middle of the box.

    West Brom offered very little. Song, Ramsey and Arteta have played keepball in midfield. I’ll bet we saw about 70 per cent of the ball in the first half.

    Had the United game on the television in the background, with the volume low. The commentators have suggested Beetface may peel the paint off the changeroom walls with his halftime team talk.

  31. Does Charlie have dirt on Kenny?

  32. Job well done by the players. Now it’s time for the training staff to “diagnose” a sudden spate of injuries that will prevent RvP, Gervinho, Ramsey, Arteta, Song, Walcott, Koscielny, Vermaelen and Szczesny from turning out for international duty. Arshavin, though, should be encouraged to make himself available.

  33. @disturbance

    That bad, huh? I gather Carroll missed a sitter judging by Paul Tomkins’ tweet trying to justify just a shocking miss along with Carroll’s 35m pound price tag.

  34. It’s not terrible, just ineffective. Yeah Carroll should’ve scored but its not surprising. To be honest, people(including myself) were comparing him to Heskey. Right now that’s a slight to Heskey.

  35. AG:

    “The most hopeless time for me? When GG got sacked over bungs and watching that season down the toilet after so much promise the previous year. God we were bloody awful that year. Merse went into rehab and, as I recall, we finished in the bottom half of the table. To top it off, we lost the Cup Winners Cup in an extra time on a speculative hoof from a Spurs old boy. Remember that? Thinking about it makes my teeth ache.”

    I could very well be in the minority but anyone else miss these types of experiences? Just puts everything into perspective when you randomly get twatted 6-1 by a rival, miss qualification for the CL, or have a “losing” season for six straight years. It could be, and has been worse.

    Didn’t see United this weekend and quite frankly I’m glad. However, it was nice to hear/read/see that Fergie was properly given the North Stand with a statue to be erected as well. The man deserves the entire club as fas as I’m concerned.

    Dist:

    You sir, are a Manc. I’ve no complaints with that team. Personally, I would take Cole over Yorke but I see your point. Cantona reigns supreme but most United supporters should have a hard time dropping Ronaldo for the Frenchman.

  36. http://www.zonalmarking.net/2011/11/07/athletic-bilbao-2-2-barcelona-bielsa-guardiola-tactics/

    I’ve been advocating that teams play this way against Barca and I 100% disagree that it’s not an effective way of beating them. The other option is what every team has done thus far in defending them and well, look at the results. I hope more teams adopt Atheletic’s approach when facing Barca because it’s a realistic one.

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