The White Pele

January 31, 2007

 

 

Explosive finishing, world class vision, bewildering ball control and an unquenchable thirst for victory: Wayne Rooney is special. More special in fact than any other British player these eyes of mine have had the pleasure of seeing play the beautiful game.

After a period of relative anonymity (10h 37mins without scoring in the league) the young Manchester United forward announced his return to form last Saturday evening in the FA Cup encounter with Portsmouth. Of the two goals Rooney plundered it was the second strike which illustrated exactly why I rate him so highly.

The true greats see the flow of the game much quicker and easier than their inferiors. They know instinctively where the goal is and need only a sniff of a chance to attempt the outrageous. Eric Cantona, Paulo Di Canio, Gianfranco Zola; all amazing players but sadly, from a patriotic perspective, none are British. But now there is Rooney: a gritty young British lad who displays this magical connection with the essence of the game that only the true geniuses possess. His second goal against Portsmouth was magnificent. Instinct and god given talent combined to produce a few seconds of pure brilliance. 30 yards from goal, taking a touch to bring a pass under control, he spotted James a few yards off his line. Without looking up, Rooney moved the ball into the firing line then unleashed a driven chip which floated perfectly into the top corner of the net. It was wonderful to watch and added some long overdue assurance to my suggestion that Wayne Rooney is destined to be one of the best footballers of all time.

Spending his early days developing  his now trademark robustness and red hot competitive streak in the dog eat dog trenches of a tough council estate situated on the outskirts of Liverpool, Rooney’s precocious ability was noticed by an Everton scout when he was only 9 years old. In his last season for the local junior team, Walton FC, he scored a staggering 99 goals. Progression through the ranks at the Everton Academy came swiftly. Having played for the U19 team at 15 years old it was no surprise to those following his divine steps when he went on to make his first team debut at the tender age of 16 in late 2002. Early in the next year he received his first international cap when representing
England in the February 2003 home defeat to the fearsome Australians. Continued success in and around the Everton first team followed, which in turn attracted interest from a number of bigger clubs. After Rooney’s relationship with the Everton supporters became fractured amid attempts by Newcastle to sign him, Alex Ferguson stepped in with a 25m bid which captured the teenager’s signature in August 2004.

Since arriving at Old Trafford and falling under the steely gaze of Ferguson, Rooney has matured both on and off the field of play. But this steady progress was rudely stunted by the metatarsal injury, sustained in a league encounter with Chelsea, which not only ruined our country’s chances and hopes of performing miracles at last year’s World Cup, but also blighted Rooney’s form for the first half of this current premiership campaign.

The boisterous Manchester United front man may now- at this vital stage of the season- be entering a period when his mind, heart and body are gruffly synchronized. And with his team well positioned in the Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League, Rooney could well be the dynamo behind a devastating triple success.

After completing the deal to bring Rooney to Old Trafford in 2004, Ferguson said :“I think we have got the best young player this country has seen in the past 30 years“. Two and a half years on and only the criminally insane could disagree.

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more feral kids and chinese missile attacks…

January 23, 2007

The tarzan-esque arrival into the modern world of a Cambodian ‘half animal/half human’ female took the world news by storm last week. Described by police as ‘a feral beast with red like tiger’s eyes’, Rochom P’ngieng was apparently lost to unseen forces in the jungle many years ago when she was a 9 year old child. Strange as her story undoubtedly is, it is not the first incident involving long lost relatives suddenly re-appearing many years after their original disappearance…

In mid 2004 social workers in Siberia were both dumfounded and disturbed when they discovered the dangerously feral Andrei Tolstyk; a young man who walked on all fours and bit people. Abandoned as a baby, Andrei, the investigation team concluded; had been rescued by the family dog and raised secretively as a canine.

 Traian Calderar; raised by dogs.

After experiencing too much horror at the hands of his mother’s vicious partner, 4 year old Traian Calderar, ran away from his Romanian home in 1999. He was found living on the streets 3 years later; grotesquely underdeveloped with no vocal skills. The reason for his survival in the wild was put down to stray dogs who adopted the terrified runaway into their gang.

Deep in the cruelly inhospitable netherworld of the Ugandan forest, in 1989, an exploratory group of scientists bumped into a 6 year old boy who appeared to be an active part of a community of monkeys. Further research made by social workers brought to the surface memories of a violent father who had forced the infant, whose name turned out to be John Ssebunya, to flee his home (in 1987) and seek refuge in the undergrowth. The African Grey monkeys may well have seen baby John as a hairless version of their own species or perhaps they are indeed capable, like the canines (who would never mistake humans for members of their own species), of compassion.

 Ramu the wolf boy.

Last but not least in this heart wrenching freak show I present Ramu. Snatched from his family garden, by wolves, at the age of 2, the Indian youngster re appeared in
Lucknow, 5 years later in 1954. He lapped milk, chewed bones and had an affinity with wolves. Unfortunately due to the hardships suffered when living the lupine way, Ramu passed away in 1968.

For more of the same go here :>>>www.feralchildren.com

The Chinese communist party has sparked global scorn and concern after launching a missile attack against one of it’s own satellites on 11th January. The target- which due to it’s age and uselessness had been deemed suitable for sacrifice- was successfully smashed into 10000 pieces or more by the Chinese KT-1 rocket.

Major governments of the West have joined forces in condemning the missile test which suggests the previously asserted Beijing stance of campaigning against the militarization of space is as solid as miso soup. (Beijing has repeatedly pressed the US to sign agreements outlawing arms in space, but the
US has steadfastly declined). Most worried and unsurprisingly vocal in their indignation are the Americans. Why so?? Because the capacity to accurately target and destroy satellites offers all sorts of potential risks for the US defence forces fighting their imperialist NEO Con crusades all over the planet. For example: over 80% of all US military communication during the 2003 invasion of Iraq was completely reliant on satellites.

 If the Chinese were to take out as few as 40-50 American satellites from the lower orbit zone the American military machine would be totally crippled within hours. With no support from beyond the earth’s atmosphere, lacking the advantage of satellite images showing enemy movements and weaponry, US troops would be fucked.

But could this situation really happen??? Perhaps. We may, as some point this year, see two chances for this theory to be put to the test.

Firstly there is the issue of the Taiwan straits; which China wish to claim. To achieve their aims in that region, the Chinese government must deal not just with the Taiwanese but also their American guardians. By damaging any US satellites covering the area, China could effectively close Yankee eyes and ears in the region thus allowing the Taiwanese to be mercilessly crushed without hindrance.

Secondly, and this is a long shot which I hope to hell doesn’t happen. That isn’t to say I wish carnage and doom onto Taiwan, far from it. I just know that this second possible scenario would be more serious, were it to transpire, for the world as a whole. Iran is becomingly increasingly isolated by the
US and its allies. The reasons for this are based around oil:>

Huge crude reserves and last year’s decision to introduce the EURO into the Iranian/European oil industry has attracted the greedy eyes and soulless spirits of powerful men in Washington. The introduction of the EURO has especially alarmed and harmed the Captains of commerce who live and die by the once mighty greenback.

Ostensibly Washington plays the world policeman; increasing the perception of Tehran’s threat to Israel and with it their determination to defend their Zionists brothers whilst secretly coveting control of Iranian natural resources…The Israelis don’t want the oil, they just don’t like the idea of any hostile Arabs gaining possession of nuclear weapons, which they themselves have developed and possessed for many years.

I pity Tehran. Being the number one enemy of Tel Aviv and Washington, which makes them also a foe of
London, is an untenable position unless the pariah state in question is armed with nukes.

The irony of the planned attacks on Iran lies in the fact that Bush would need to use small scale nuclear weapons in order to show the world, in his own very individual way, that Iranians aren’t allowed nuclear weapons. (Deep penetrating mini nukes would be needed to eradicate the alleged underground research facilities spread over the barren Iranian landscape).

Where was I????……..Aha. The Chinese economy is growing at an astronomical rate. And so is that economy’s demand for energy. A sizeable portion of Chinese oil imports arrive from Iran. With Russia also heavily connected to Iran, not so much for energy trade, mainly for arms (i.e. 2006- Russia agree to $700m deal to construct defensive measures for Iranian military research facilities. and that is merely the tip of an iceberg…) and Russia also in league with the Chinese; a grim picture is beginning to take shape.

 In short, if the US were to not only attack Iran but to make a grab for the oil; China could well be tempted to take out the Yankee military satellites and leave the American troops on Iranian land sitting ducks who would be slaughtered by the Mullahs and their fervent followers. And rightly so.

China are thought to also be capable of identifying (through illumination with a laser) and potentially blinding foreign owned satellites which pass over their land.

Despite the Brits, Aussies and Americans waving their respective school master canes,
Russia seemed unruffled, declaring instead that the missile test was nothing to do with satellites….

Russian Defence minister, Sergei Ivanov croaked “I’m afraid that it didn’t have an anti-satellite basis. And, maybe it’s good that it didn’t.”

Worse still, when asked about the test, the Chinese Defence spokesman said

“We are not clear about the situation; there is no official statement at the present time”.

 

China join the elite club of countries expanding military power in space.

   


Arsenal v Manchester United preview.

January 18, 2007

Since losing 1-0 away to West Ham on 17th December of last year, Manchester United have been back in title form; winning 5 out of their next 6 games, drawing 1, and scoring 16 goals in the process. With only four months of fixtures left to complete Alex Ferguson’s energetic and talented team is well placed to attempt a glorious treble comprising of the Champions League, FA Cup and Premiership.

This Sunday the Red Devils face a stern test of their title credentials when they visit the home of the only team to have left Old Trafford with three points in this current campaign; Arsenal. Back in September when the Gunners exuberantly carved out their path to a deserved 0-1 victory in Manchester, United had not yet found the rhythm or cohesion which they now possess. Since that period Alex Ferguson has steered his young charges into the kind of form which could well see the club claim their first premiership crown for 4 years (02/03 season was their last domestic league success). With nearest rivals Chelsea playing away to Liverpool on Saturday, there is the possibility- albeit a small one considering Liverpool’s recent home form- of Manchester United opening up a 9 point lead at the premiership summit.

Tomasz Kuszczak was one of few United players to come out of the previous encounter with Arsenal with any dignity intact. The sturdy Polak has continued, as the season has progressed, to play a reliable substitute for ace stopper, Edwin van De Sar. And with Rio Ferdinand absorbing and enjoying the presence of Nemanja Vidic, Patrick Evra and Gary Neville providing solidity and support to midfield from the fullback positions, the entire United rearguard merits praise and respect. In midfield the combination of the re-energized dynamo Paul Scholes, flamboyant and increasingly deadly Cristiano Ronaldo and steadily improving anchorman, Michael Carrick; is capable of creating and scoring goals against any opposition. As if that wasn’t enough to strike fear into the hearts of every other Premiership squad, there is also the resurgent Ole Gunner Solskjaer who is someway back to his lethal best, an erudite Swedish 18 yard box assassin named Henrick Larson, and the pacey yet profligate Frenchman, Louis Saha. The only major player I have omitted from that group is none other than the young man on whose broad shoulders rests the hopes of a nation of present and future England supporters; Wayne Rooney. After every United performance in which Rooney appears I am left with a feeling that he remains a millisecond or three away from being the unstoppable force we all know he can and hopefully will be for the majority of his career. He hasn’t been playing badly, not by any measure. Such is his overall class that even an out of sorts Rooney is superior to most his peers. The meeting with Arsenal on this coming Sunday could well provide the perfect platform and occasion for Rooney to re establish himself as an up and coming superstar.

While Alex Ferguson and his players modestly accept the ego warming that the pundits’ plaudits and league position supply, Arsene Wenger and his motley crew of ravenous delinquents are writing their own preface to a new chapter in the club’s silver-laden history.

Sitting in fourth position in the league table, a staggering 15 points off current Premiership leaders Manchester United, the only realistic goal of the Gunners can now be to dislodge and replace
Liverpool in third position before the season ends. The team has been in a transitional phase over the last year with stars such as Reyes, Bergkamp, Cole and Viera all leaving Arsenal for new adventures elsewhere and a group of youngsters arriving in their place. It has taken some time for the newer elements of Arsene Wenger’s squad to gel together and begin producing the kind of football which is needed if trophies and titles are to be won.

The giant Emmanuel Adebayor has filled in remarkably well for the sporadically injured mainstay front man Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie, with ten goals to his name, appears to be fast finding his feet in the English game. Vibrant Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas grows in stature and maturity with every game and his midfield partners of Gilberto Silva, Tomas Rosicky and Alexander Hleb are beginning to resemble a fluid and adventurous unit thoroughly exciting to watch. With Cole defecting to Chelsea, young Frenchman Gabriel Clichy has continued to develop his skills at left back while the ultra dependable Kolo Toure has proved the perfect tutor to the burly figure of Phillipe Senderos in the middle of the back four.

In their last six games, Arsenal have won five, lost one and scored 17 goals.

With Henry back in good shape and once again proving a constant threat when anywhere near the opposition goal, Arsenal will be confident of continuing their recent purple patch with a confidence boosting second victory of the season over their old enemies, Manchester United…


The Red Devils continue their march towards the title…

January 15, 2007

Martin O Neil and his players will be sick of the sight of
Manchester UNITED after Alex Ferguson’s men inflicted their second victory over Villa in a week by stomping them 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

 

The Red Devils welcomed Van De Sar, Vidic and Scholes back into the starting line-up while Villa fielded roughly the same team who acquitted themselves so commendably in the 2-1 defeat to United suffered last weekend in the FA Cup.

 

 It was Gary Neville who engineered the first of many opportunities for the home side. The veteran stopper was sent free down the right flank and after looking up and spotting a target he delivered a pacey cross plum onto the head of Larson, whose shot was acrobatically saved by Villa keeper Sorenson. On 11 minutes, United took the lead through Asian dynamo, Park. The attacking midfielder finished well with a right foot drive into the far corner after finding the ball at his feet courtesy of a fortunate ricochet off a defender. Five minutes later Park turned provider. Carrick spread the ball to the Korean on the right wing, then charged forward into the box to collect the return pass before steadying himself and smashing an accurate shot past Sorenson for 2-0.  Unlike the first goal, which must be said was created through luck rather than superior technique, number two for United laid bare for all to see Villa’s defensive inexperience with Carrick allowed to enter the box and shoot largely unhindered.

It was no surprise when the third goal went in such was United’s domination of the game. McCann was caught in possession by the lively Park which sent the ball rolling kindly into Carrick’s path. The midfielder chipped the ball to the far post where none other than December’s player of the month, Ronaldo, was arriving to nod home for 3-0.

Although Agbonlehor grabbed a smart consolation for Villa, when racing into the six yard box to connect with a great pass from Barros, Man U could well have finished the game with several more goals. Saha, Larson and Rooney all went close before the final whistle.

 

With Chelsea demolishing
Wigan with consummate ease and last Sunday’s tightly contested FA cup match fresh in the memory it was important for United to put Villa to the sword as empathically as possible. Which they did with aplomb.

 

Fergie has organized his troops into a cohesive, fluid unit which is not only hard to break down but also -at times- nigh impossible to prevent from scoring. Paul Scholes continues to make every
England supporter lament at his early retirement and his partner in central midfield, Carrick, is slowly adding a more adventurous aspect to his already well rounded bag of tricks.  When they are not supplying chances for the front men, the midfield of Scholes, Carrick, Park and Giggs is more than capable of providing goals through their own steam.

As strange as it is to conclude -given his undeniable talent- Wayne Rooney is the only United player not currently performing near his peak. Against Villa on Saturday Rooney was hardly anonymous but neither was he a constant menace to the opposition goal. One well struck drive, which shook the bar before bouncing clear, was all that the youngster contributed to the 3-1 victory. Still, that feeling remains that he will soon find his killer instinct and with it the goals that will flow like vodka at a Boris Yeltzin birthday party.

 

Other than Rooney’s continued failings in front of goal, the only potentially serious problem for the team is Carrick’s lack of tenacity and grit. The much touted purchase of Bayern Munich and England’s combative Owen Hargreaves would add protection to the defence and allow Scholes to roam forward with more confidence that should he lose the ball there will still be a barrier in place between his midfield and defence strong enough to repel the opposition. Every great team needs an accomplished anchorman.
Italy has the snarl and bite of Gattusso, Arsenal; the elegant and experienced Gilberto, Chelsea; Essien the enforcer. Carrick is not of the same caliber as those players and I doubt he ever could be. Since Keano departed Old Trafford the anchorman role has been attempted by a succession of players, none of whom have come any way near adequately replacing the Irishman. From what I have seen of Hargreaves his presence on the field would make any team he played for stronger and more resilient. And despite his tough tackling reputation, the
Munich midfielder can create chances for others and tuck away the odd scorcher himself.

Chelsea should be thanking the Gods of Football that for now, due in no small part to a broken leg, Hargreaves arrival in
Manchester appears delayed until at earliest the summer break of this year. If or when he does appear in the red of United, the rest of the league beware.

 

 

 

 

 


Curbishley and the Argies…

January 7, 2007

When the Hammers defied all the odds and battled valiantly to beat the runaway league leaders, Man United, only two weeks ago, triumphantly heralding the arrival of the man charged with performing a miraculous rescue mission for the club, Alan Curbishley, an uplifting wind of optimism swept through Upton Park. But only one point from the subsequent three fixtures and the gruesome nature of the humiliating 6-0 defeat at Reading, has left nobody connected with the Hammers, in any way romantically disillusioned as to the seriousness of the current predicament in which West Ham find themselves firmly entrenched. Alan Curbishley was brilliantly successful as manager of the Addicks, a team which ironically he now must view as a fierce enemy upon which he wishes relegation of the most emphatic variety. He kept Charlton in the top league season after season, often threatening to take them into Europe. Through intelligent acquisitions and calm man management, Curbishley achieved commendable success with limited funds. But the arena he has recently entered offers a profoundly different set of circumstances and challenges. With 16 games left to play, his Hammers team are 18th in the table, at best 4 points away from the safety of 17th.

 What caused the horrifyingly sudden decline in the fortunes of the east London club is an issue fast conceding importance to the matter in hand of securing a place in the top flight for next season. I remember watching last season’s FA Cup final from the sun drenched lounge of my Melbourne flat.
Liverpool were exceptionally lucky, and though Gerrard’s first strike was worthy of winning any match I was enthralled by the decidedly British enthusiasm and passion which West Ham displayed. Yes I know they lost, but I couldn’t help but gain respect for both then manager Pardew and the team he had created. The nucleus of that squad remained at Upton Park during the summer break but after that magnificent effort in Cardiff, their form this season has faltered into dangerous territory. Dean Ashton’s long term injury has certainly contributed to the horror and in some unfathomable way so has the arrival of the two Argentine internationals, Tevez and Mascherano. Both of the South Americans starred for their country at the 2006 world cup, and both players have since been coveted by a handful of top European clubs. Still, partly due to the Hammer’s decent showing in the league and FA Cup, the decision of the Argies to sign for West Ham, at the time, seemed almost conceivable and a logical step forward for the club. Imagine the hearts of all the Upton Park faithful filling with pride derived from the news that their long served club was now of such global prestige that two of the up and coming stars of the world game were coming to town. Neither Argentine has since played much football for West Ham. And the exact circumstances of their contracts have been kept unusually clandestine which has fuelled rumours hinting at financial irregularities in the transfers and criminal agent meddling. The crux of the matter is that critics have suggested Tevez and Mascherano have come to West Ham solely in order to be seen by a wider audience, generate interest in both themselves and their club, then command huge transfer fees in order to move onto clubs who are of a greater stature thus making a handsome profit for West Ham and agents. A common story perhaps in modern football where the $ is fast replacing passion and loyalty. No need to dwell on the issue other than to reiterate that neither player has been given the chance by Pardew formerly or Curbishley currently, to show what they can do. And two players who have both been individually praised by the demi god of football himself, Diego Maradona, should be given the chance to show what they can do. In an Argentine team that forces Lionel Messi and Hernan Crespo to sit on the bench and watch from the sidelines, Mascherano and Tevez were mainstays. They must be incorporated into the first team if West Ham are to claw their way out of the miserable bottom three. If they aren’t to be used then Curbs should sell them both to any of the still very willing suitors, pocket the cash then invest it wisely on a few quality players who are up for the fight.


Premiership New Year Report

January 1, 2007

Table above taken 31/12/2006

The leading pack

Despite increased investment in players and coaching staff, those teams closest last season to challenging
Chelsea for the title have once again all but fallen by the wayside. All except Manchester United. Mourinho’s major signings of last Summer have so far proven to be ,at best, in need of a longer settling in period. The previously world class Ballack has been depressingly mediocre in the Chelsea midfield with Lampard consistently out-shining the German national team Captain. Shevchenko, the 30 million pound man from AC Milan, could turn out to be the most disastrous waste of money in the history of football. The Ukrainian hit man has taken to the premiership as woefully as a polar bear stranded in the Sahara desert. Kalou the costly teenage striker, appears energetic but hardly of the quality required to be successful in the Premiership. And with Robben sporadically in and out of the treatment room, the majority of the team’s goal scoring responsibilities have fallen to Didier Drogba, who has, this season, really found his footing in the English top flight. At the turn of the year, the Ivorian leads the top scorers chart with 20 goals to his name and his contribution to Chelsea’s season can not be under appreciated. Were it not for him, the team could be closer to Bolton (in 3rd) than the runaway leaders
Man U.  After two years spent hanging on to the cashmere coat tails of Chelsea, Manchester United seem to have, this season, found the formula to wrestle back control of the crown that no team has worn as regularly since it’s conception; The Premiership.
Ferguson has eruditely constructed a team of youthful exuberance, world class talent, experience and hunger for success. Vidic has seamlessly slotted into the defensive blockade alongside Rio Ferdinand and with Neville maintaining praise-worthy form at right back, Heinz increasingly dependable on the left and the elfin Van De Sar producing the most consistent goalkeeping security the team has witnessed since the Schmeichel era, the United rear-guard has been immense. Carrick, while lacking the bite and growl of Keano, has gradually found comfort in the anchorman role. His passing range and accuracy combined with threatening forages forward is winning over the Old Trafford faithful. It will be interesting to see what happens if Hargreaves finally arrives at United; because with Scholes seemingly back to his best I would guess Carrick would be the one to drop down. Saying that, I have no doubt that Hargreaves would dramatically enhance the United squad. He is an English Gattusso, which, coming from me- an ardent fan of the Italian General-is praise indeed. I would love to see him playing in the Premiership, but I doubt Carrick would feel the same! But back to the story of the current league leaders. As mentioned Scholes, having fully recovered from the injuries which have plagued him over the last 18 months, has been arguably the best midfielder in this country. His goals, assists and wonderful to watch tenacity, have added power to the heartbeat of United. Giggsy has also been performing at a high level but it is the opposite winger, Ronaldo, who has shone the brightest of them all. After the Portuguese player’s very public controversy with team-mate Rooney at this year’s world cup, I wasn’t sure how the two of them would thereafter be able to play together in the same team. But Fergie knows how to adopt the paternal role and the elderly Scot knows better than to allow two of the most promising youngsters in the world game to part company. Ronaldo has been scintillating, bewildering audiences week in week out with high speed garrincha-esque dribbling skills which now lead more often to spectacular goals. It has taken a while to see Rooney reach anywhere near the rhythm which makes him one of the deadliest strikers ever born into this galaxy, but his contribution to the fortunes of his club have been growing month by month in terms of explosiveness and vitality. His speed of thought is still second to none and when his shooting boots really become alight with flames- which has yet to happen this season- the rest of the league beware. Saha and Solskjaer have provided adequate supporting roles to the leading protagonists behind the charge which has propelled Man U six points clear at the top of the league.
Up there, but no where near the top…

Bolton should be congratulated for their ultra solid first half of the campaign and if they can keep their star players fit, the team could well achieve a highly coveted champions league place in May. Anelka, Diouf, Nolan and Jaskelannan have provided a column of strength through the centre of the Allardyce’s first team and with Campo, Davies and Speed offering reliable consistency, Bolton have developed into a seriously hard to beat or contain, premiership outfit. Arsenal have in my opinion prospered from the absence of Henry, due to a mixture of fatigue and injuries, with the responsibility for winning games falling onto the shoulders of the players who are usually in the shade whilst King Henry soaks up the limelight. The defence isn’t amazing but there is much youth and promise with Ebou in particular impressive as a marauding, violent, right back. Hleb and Rosicky are fast adjusting to the English game and Spanish youngster Fabregas is showing signs of turning into a midfielder of platinum worth. The gangly figure of Adebayor, together with Van Persie, has stepped up their game in order to fill the void left by their French talisman with the young but always entertaining Walcott delivering several sterling cameo roles. Theo must be one of the quickest players in the league; faster than a leopard with an eagle eye for the goal. However, the gelling of the team has been sporadic, and at times, the Gunners have been disturbingly well beaten. On the other hand, they create so many chances with their mixture of high speed passing and movement that when they play well, their opponents seem likely to suffer a heavy defeat. Work to do for Wenger, with this team showing encouraging signs of becoming once again a major threat to the top two.

Liverpool hasn’t made any improvements on their form of the last few seasons. Benitez spends millions more than any previous Anfield boss yet isn’t able to make any progress in building a bridge from
Liverpool to the territory where Man U and Chelsea are battling it out to the death for the top honours.

Well this report is shaping up already far more lengthy than I had hoped for, so I will skip the middle of the road teams and head straight towards the foot of the table…

AT rock bottom we find Watford who deserve to be there having managed only one victory up until now. Ade Boothyrod always comes across as an honourable man bossing a respectable club, but his team especially after the cruel injury suffered by ex Gillingham great, Marlon King, have struggled to offer any sharpness in attack and have in turn failed to convert many evenly contested, in terms of spirit and work rate, games into victories. Unless they sign a proven goal scorer in the January transfer window
Watford are going down. How strange to see Curbishley return to football to manage the hopelessly struggling Hammers whilst the man he replaced, Alan Pardew, arrives at Charlton in a quest to save them from the relegation that looms ever larger on the horizon. Both these teams are in great need of a charismatic leader to lift their spirits and reinvigorate their play with fresh ideas and iron. I think Pardew has the easier task of the two due to his larger than life passion for the game and horrifying lack of luck over the last 4 months. It seems criminal to me that Tevez isn’t playing regularly for West Ham, and Mascherano, but from what I understand; one or both may be sold in the January transfer window. If either  Charlton or Westh Ham are to survive, then who will take their positions in the bottom three???


Southgate’s first season as a premiership manager may well end in heartbreak unless Yakubu and Viduka start scoring regularly. Those strikers could save Boro’s season. Sheffield United look the most susceptible out of the Blackburn/Wigan/Blades group but realistically those currently at the bottom seem destined to stay there due to a combination of lack of quality and too much ground to make up on teams who possess far more talented squads.

Awards:

Team of the season- Manchester United. OAP Ferguson looking well placed to reclaim the title.

Player of the season- Ronaldo. As much as I despise him for his petulance and irritating vanity the Portuguese winger has looked like the most dangerous player on the pitch in every game he has played.

Best Manager- Steve Coppell. His Reading team are sitting pretty in the top half of the table to the dismay of many experts who had predicted their downfall.

 

Predictions for the top:

1.Manchester United

2. Chelsea

3. Arsenal

Predictions for the bottom:

18. Boro

19. West Ham

20. Watford

 

Expect to see more of this look as the season progresses.