March 1 — wary of the Ides of MarchBy Alberta Gooner | February 27th, 2012 | Category: Daily Links, English Premier League, Featured Posts, Lead Article, Rumors, Soccer | 42 comments
With the midweek calendar dominated by meaningless cash grabs from national FAs important preparation for national sides preparing for this summer’s Euros, it was unsurprising to see the angst, hope and knee-jerkism displayed by various hacks. The result of the night had to be in Genoa, where Clint Dempsey’s winner handed the Azzuri its first-ever defeat playing there along with the Americans’ first win over the Italians. Despite the result, Grant Wahl sounds some cautionary notes. I know the result will please Klinsi backers. By way of response, I’d like to remind them that Bob Bradley managed to beat Spain in a competitive fixture whilst they were reigning European champions. What it proves is the USA is capable of ocassionally bloodying the nose of the best European nations, something that puts them well ahead of England.
That loss will, no doubt, have a lot of the Italian sporting press wondering why Cesare Prandelli decided his squad would be better off with having Mario Balotelli making mischief, handing out money to random people, experimenting with his Maserati, in the greater Manchester area as opposed to torturing Clarence Goodson. Talk about setting off fireworks. And, guess what? A capable replacement just became available.
On a totally unrelated subject, the Three Lions reverted to their default mode — inglorious defeat — for the first time since November 2010. Strangely, most of the red tops cast this as “progress” because the manager was passionate about his Englishness and could communicate with his players, who took his apparent instructions to defend like halfwitted schoolboys to heart.
Obviously, though, you can’t please everybody and guess what Steven Gerrard’s official biographer was moaning about after the match? Strangely, this sort of hypocrisy doesn’t show up on the Guardian’s official list of footballing hates from their beat writers. Gosh, I wonder why?
Another thing that didn’t appear on that list was Andres Villas-Boas, which is equally strange because most of London’s footballing press seems uncommonly united in their campaign to rid the Rent Boys of a Portugese manager who isn’t interested in making their jobs easier or causing them to swoon.
Even if Roman Abramovitch sends AVB packing when the Rent Boys crash out against Napoli, and footballing sage Jonathan Wilson thinks this is a terrible idea, I’m not sure it’s going to stop the rot in the west end. Today’s stories about David Luiz telling head boy Frank Lampard to do as he’s told confirm my theory of a divided dressing room, with the omelet maker’s Old Boys on one side and the Iberian/Brazilian contingent on the other. I sensed this tension has affected the club for a while and it’s given me some hope that Professor Wenger’s Holloway Road nursery might have an edge during the run-in. Last month, when (I think) Ramires scored and rushed over to celebrate with AVB, there was a curious lack of English players who joined in mobbing their manager. Ramires, David Luiz, Jose Bosingwa, Juan Mata and others joined in but I saw Ashley Cole — who is noted for his loyalty – peel off quickly from the pack surrounding the manager. With the omelet maker in town to house hunt and batting his eyes about his availability, there’s going to be plenty of uncertainty. Couldn’t happen to a nicer club.
That’s about it. A busy day ahead.
A muffled day on Fleet Street as assorted hacks and beard strokers quietly sharpened their pens and broke out their Big Book of Dutch Cliches for the inevitable slaughter at Wembley. A few miscreants tossed rocks at the interim England manager’s appointment of a captain for a meaningless friendly, although none of Steven Gerrard’s fans in the media were nearly as cutting as former teammate, rap star and occasional footballer Ryan Babel, who tweeted “See it already happen Xavi laughing in his mind standing infront of Parker before the game with the refs thinking “Who’s he?”"
OK, he loses points for committing atrocities against grammar but English isn’t his first language and his grip on the Bard’s language was worsened by his spell on Merseyside. But still pretty funny.
In news that has English journos knees going weak and hearts a fluttering, the omelet maker is apparently house hunting in west London, which Sid Lowe interprets as a gesture to his current paymasters at Franco FC.
Matthew Stanger thankfully ignores that unedifying slurping and composes a list of the 10 best Dutch footballers to grace England’s pitches. Sadly, no room for Winston Bogarde on this list.
And finally, Paul Marshall chronicles the feel-good story at Montpelier, who — once again — prove transfer fees don’t always provide a measure of a player’s value. It must be said here’s another club who developed a core of good youth players and supplemented it with shrewd buys. Centre half Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, in particular, looks like a fantastic prospect.
Apparently, the world of football has deemed this good day to be Filthy Lucre Tuesday, what with the plethora of news and analysis on the subject of Mammon and its enslavement of clubs, players and agents.
Let’s start off with the good, shall we? And nobody reads a set of financials better than the Swiss Ramble — it’s like watching Pirlo or Xavi ping a through ball that cuts out seven defenders. Anyway, he looks at shiny new half-year financials of Holloway Road Properties PLC and answers five key questions.
The good news, I suppose, is the results generated by football most successful property developers are the envy of clubs such as Aston Villa, whose Q2 results were seven shades of ugly.
To Forbes, where the one per cent can enjoy Bobby McMahon’s piece on whether a Carling Cup victory will spark a revival at the People’s Club. Is there anybody else who sees an irony in the Romney crowd receiving a history lesson about Dalglish FC and working-class hero and socialist Bill Shankly?
From deft irony to stating the bleeding obvious, the Daily Telegraph’s Hugh Grant returns with some advice for Arsene Wenger. Hmm, want to know why our ‘enry is so big on RvP. It might have something to do with his sage preview of the demolition derby, where he suggested only the Dutch master would make it into a combined Islington XI. Idiot.
OK, we’ve gone from good to bad. Do we really want to rehash the ugly? Nah. Let’s bounce to Duncan Castles, who suggests AVB is dancing on the precipice in West London. Normally, I would mock this as speculative rubbish but Castles is pretty well connected and pretty perceptive. If true, there’s going to be no small amount of delight as it will continue to stall the tough decisions that need to be made with some of the geriatric Rent Boys, many of whom have shown they are well past their best-before dates.
AVB’s future appears to hinge on getting a result against the Neapolitans so he’d do well to crack the analysis of Michael Cox on the connection between the thrill-a-minute excitement of the Premier League and the abysmal performance of English sides in Champions League.
To the Continent, where Tom Williams sees Laurent Blanc’s Bleus struggle to find their identity. I’ll bet they recover it in time to beat the wheeler-dealer’s Three Lions nine shades of blue in the group stages.
To Africa, where Jonathan Wilson sees a tough transition ahead for a traditional West African powerhouse. Given Inter’s struggles since Samuel Eto’o's departure, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Indomitable Lions look toothless. One of the best players of the past decade.
Speaking of Italian giants, there’s all kinds of rumours that Paul Pogba has agreed to accept a large wedge of Agnelli cash and add some power to the Old Lady’s midfield. I’m guessing this news will be greeted with a shade of empurplement not seen in the greater Carrington area since journalists had the temerity to question Juan Sebastien Veron’s purchase price.
The second bit of gossip is in the German tabloid Bild and suggests Arsenal have agreed a fee of 19.5m for Koln’s Lukas Podolski. Make of that what you will.
It’s hard to contain your excitement when you see these kinds of results. Yes, it is a happy day in London as the board of Holloway Road Properties, football’s most successful property developers, as they announced PROFITS!!!! Oh and, by the way, they happened to win a football match, too, which, seems to have satisifed the ungrateful customers supporters who were not mollified with the board’s earlier big-hearted gesture to freeze prices of the highest tickets in the history of the sport. Apparently it had something to do with abject capitulation to Berlusconi’s lot in Italy and then a spot of bother up in the northeastern hinterlands during the previous week.
It’s interesting the board chose to announce the Q2 results AFTER the thrashing of the lesser lights as opposed to before the game, when the media narrative was all about Wenger being under pressure and supporters were wondering where the money went. Oh and how the media were droning on about how only RvP would make it into a combined Islington XI. Alex Song poured cold water on that theory by bossing the midfield on Sunday, unmasking Scott Parker as a pretender. Oh and outpassing Luka Modric, too. Still he wasn’t MOTM, which deservedly went to the Little Mozart. As for the match itself, I’ll restrain myself to six points about the Demolition Derby.
1. Gareth Bale is a diving cheat who would be on the back pages if his last name ended in another vowel.
2. Kieran Gibbs being caught out of position led to both of their goals. Without wanting to make excuses, he badly needs a run in the first team without being injured.
3. On the other flank, Bacary Sagna demonstrated why he has been badly missed. Oh and made a mockery of the notion he wouldn’t get into a north London XI. When fit, he’s the best right back in the Premier League. Full stop.
4. I wonder what Fabio Capello made of the wheeler dealer’s tactical rejiggering at half time. It certainly had a galvanizing effect. On Arsenal.
5. That much of the press chose to hail Theo Walcott — I’ve picked out Telegraph toothsucker Paul Hayward and David Pleat as examples — demonstrates why Arsene Wenger should have just flicked a V sign at the assembled halfwits in the post-match press conference before walking out.
6. Did anybody see whether Clive Allen got a postmatch handshake?
Tactics guru Michael Cox provides a fuller, better look at this match.
It capped a really outstanding weekend of football for me as I had caught the Milan-Juve showdown on Saturday. It was a match that had a little bit of everything, including controversy. Cox and Paolo Bandini give their takes. Sulley Muntari’s header was definitely over the line and in wake of some retrospective punishments being mooted for players, I wonder whether the officials will also be disicplined.
The weekend start with watching the Rent Boys ease past Bolton, which I watched to get a look at Ryo Miyaichi, who looked very promising. It will be interesting to see how he progresses during his spell in Lancashire. The win didn’t stop the pressure on AVB as Glenn Moore wrote a pretty interesting piece suggesting the young manager should have spoken with Graeme Souness rather than reacting to his criticisms. Iain Macintosh doesn’t see the grumblings against AVB in the Rent Boy changeroom as close to the revolts experienced by some managers, including Souness at Liverpool.
Talking of Liverpool, Jonathan Wilson wonders whether their Carling Cup triumph over Cardiff City will be a springboard for success. Alan Hansen believes his old club needs a Champions League place even more than a trophy.