Juventus v Inter 18th April, 2009

April 19, 2009

I am happy with a 1-1 as it could have been much worse for us. We are inferior to Inter in many departments, and the screams from the bottom of the lungs of our team, for some decent creativity and distribution from midfield were deafening. Yes we were missing Momo and Marchisio, with whom we would have definitely been more solid in the middle. Tiago’s challenge was dumb, he should be fined…an especially dumb move as we had just moved to a trident in attack and really needed at least our central trio of nedved, tiago, poulsen, to stay on the field…Del piero had another very poor game, and Giovinco offered more threat than him even though he was only on the pitch for 10-15 minutes…Legro made a lovely challenge on Ibra in the first half, which deserves an honourable mention. Grygera spent the whole game persuading me that he is in fact worse than the much malligned Molinaro, who was wretched at passing but fairly solid at the back for much of the game., then just when i was writing the Czech off as the worst right back I have ever seen in Juve jersey, he scores the late equalizer…Thats the beauty of football eh!…We were outclassed on the flanks, completely, until De Ceglie and Giovinco were on the field. Nedved was poor, marchionni has the second touch of a drunk bear, and as I have said many times, surely now, must be shot. Chiellini and Buffon did well…Iaquinta fought hard…No time for Trez. A decent result, given the circumstances. Man of the match…Buffon. Diego will be perfect for us. Our team is desperate for his talents.

The Unlikely Angel

The Unlikely Angel

Advertisements

Champions League Chelsea v Juventus

February 26, 2009

 

 

 

 

I slept only 3 hours before watching this game, as here in Melbourne it was a 645am kick off. It wasn’t what I hoped for, but the performance was not exactly surprising, given our form since christmas, in which time I haven’t seen us play like a team good enough to hold onto second in Serie A, let alone progress through the champions league knockout phase…

Player Ratings:

Buffon:
Couldn’t do much about the goal. Handled everything else as is expected of a keeper of his class. 8,10
Molinaro
An embarrassment. Both for himself and for the club. I cannot remember a player who has managed to hold down a first team berth at Juve, in 18 years of supporting the club, who I despise as much as Molinaro. He can’t tackle. He has poor pace, a lack of positional intelligence. His crossing is useless. And last night, he made Kalou look world class. That tells a story in itself. And it is largely Molinaro’s fault that we were under the kosh for the entire first 15 minutes. Such is the magnitude of his ineptitude, i would rather see Chiellini on the left, Legro, Mellberg and Grygera taking up the other defensive positions. That is, of course, unless De Ceglie is fit and available. Whatever happens during the summer break, Molinaro must not only be replaced, but sold, given away on a free, or hung. 2,10

Chiellini
He clearly isn’t yet match fit. Didn’t pass well, lacked his usual ferocious pace and spirit. Improved defensively in the second period, but his distribution was shocking. A rare poor showing earns him a 6,10.

Legro
Perhaps at fault for the goal, and lost too many aerial battles to earn a decent rating. He can play better. Its strange how his form is so affected by the form of Chiellini. He appears only able to go as high in form as his central defensive partner. Still, like Giorgio, he improved after the goal, restricting Drogba and Anelka to only a couple of half chances. 6,10.

Mellberg
A galactico in comparison to his opposite number on the left flank, but still, not fast enough to repel Anelka, who several times, could have caused more damage after passing the Swede. I prefer Grygera in this position. 6,10.

Momo
Not the inspirational, NONE SHALL PASS, performance I was expecting from our prime destroyer. He tackled well, and managed to keep Lampard away from goal for most the match, which was an accomplishment of sorts. Still, his distribution, and general control of the ball were poor. Liverpool supporters will be laughing, no doubt. But he is young, and I remain hopeful that he can become one of the greatest anchormen in the world game. Not great, but near satisfactory. 6,10.

Tiago
One gorgeous through ball to DP which almost resulted in a goal. But other than that, only noteworthy for his ability to pass the ball in a straight line, which many of his team-mates failed to do. He likes to keep it simple, but its obvious to the opposition, that the ball is going through him when Momo or centre backs bring it out of defence. 6,10.

Camo

He is world class crosser of the ball, whose crossing last night was terrible. He needs replacing in the summer, more so than Nedved, because he is injured for 80% of the season. Also, behind him in the pecking order in a player who challenges Molinaro for worst player of the season, Marchionni. a disappointing 5,10.

Nedved
worked hard, passed the ball better than everyone around him bar Tiago. One decent shot near the end, his other efforts tame enough for an 8 year old disabled girl to save. Perhaps without the injuries to Camo and Tiago, we would have seen Giovinco appear. Cheeky handball was the highlight of his game for me…or rather, his chuckle after been penalized. 6,10.

Del Piero

Tidy-ish on the ball, but muscled out of everything except the one chance created by Tiago in the first half. Other than his ability to take free kicks, he was another contender, alongside Nedved, for replacement by Giovinco. The service he received wasn’t great but still, I expect more from our captain. 6,10.

Amauri
Difficult to judge as he wasn’t found often, with anything less than two or three players to beat, by his team-mates. Well marshaled by Terry and Alex, but without decent deliveries into the box, his game was stifled. 6,10

SUBS

Marchionni
Had a decent pop with his left boot which wasn’t too far off target. Put a couple of useful balls into the area, but his general play was useless. Its a danger giving him the ball when he is surrounded by opposing players, because he wants to give it straight back. Also, his passing was unforgivable. An expected 5,10.

Marchisio
While he misplaced a couple of passes, his general play was robust, assertive and reliable. I thought he offered a greater balance in midfield than the man he replaced and he can be a threat shooting from long range. Not at his best, but that is likely due to a lack of match fitness. a respectable 7,10.

Trezeguet
His first contribution was a disgusting pass to put Chelsea on the attack, but before his 6 minutes of playing time expired, he found himself reaching the ball first, on the volley, in the box, though the finish was shameful. The fact that he got into that position shows why we have missed him so dearly these last 5 months. I was just happy to see him playing. Obviously in desperate need of time to regain match sharpness, but if he remains injury free over the next two weeks, he deserves at least 45 minutes in the return leg. He never works hard, that has never been his style, but he knows where to be in the box, and is a far easier target man to find, than Amauri. An encouraging 7,10.

Conclusion

While we could have equalized, it is also true that Chelsea could and should have extended their lead. The first 15 minutes of the game must have made the hearts of every juve supporter witnessing the spectacle, sink lower than they have done for three years, such was the excitement prior to this match. We were appalling until Drogba scored, rather fortuitously, because Kalou’s pass wasn’t intended for anyone in particular, yet Chelsea deserved their lead, like they deserved their victory overall. While we managed to weather the storm, assert ourselves on the game as the game progressed, in the latter stages our passing went to the dogs, with the team unable to string more than two passes together at a time. This is not was anyone expects of Juventus. And it must be addressed before the return leg in a fortnight.

Much of the lack of fluidity of our game can be blamed on the fitness of players. With Camo, Chiellini, Tiago and Trezeguet all working towards gaining much needed match sharpness. None of them have been consistently fit for the last few months, and this shows.

Molinaro excepted, if we can gain momentum over the next few games before we face chelsea again, we will have a fighting chance of going through. Their away form in europe is not exactly impressive, though neither is our own form presently, home or away, domestically or in europe. Still, we are fortunate to be trailing by only one goal. And we remain capable of going through.

Although we were outplayed for much of the game, the result was decided by one slip-up by our central defensive pairing. On the opposite end of the pitch, Alex and Terry were almost flawless. Credit also to Lampard and Mikel, who made progress through the middle impossible for Tiago, other than on the one occasion he managed to thread through to Del Piero.

Ranieri Rating:
With the players available, he chose the strongest team. It wasn’t his fault that we started like a bunch of amateurs. That was down to the players. His forced substitutions made sense, and I was pleased that he gave Trezeguet a run-out, which could have resulted in a goal. 7,10.


Last edited by weedguru : Today at 06:46.

 

 

 

 


http://www.weedguru.com Where the stoners live…

rags to riches for i bianconeri…

November 6, 2008

It is indeed more than mere co-incidence that the form of the team has flourished as Del Piero has regained his rhythm, though there is more to the recent run of five victories than the legendary number ten managing to remind us why he was joint top scorer in arguably the most defensively tight league in europe last season.

The return of Legrotaglie alongside Chiellini in central defence has greatly increased our ability to shut out any level of opposition and should not be underestimated. His power in the air, impeccable concetration and ability to mark competently is the perfect partner for Giorgio’s superhuman abilities to blossom unhindered by constantly needing to bail his partner out of trouble. In tandem, these two are unbreakable…Also, Sissoko has been immense, ruling the midfield much like Viera used to in his prime with Arsenal. The Malian’s control and distribution is improving dramatically this season, and all that remains for the middle of the park to be complete is for the answer to the ‘Who best plays with the african Hatchetman*’ to be found. Tiago has played competently, hardly set the scene alight, but importantly, we have won when he plays. MArchisio is nearing a return to full fitness, as is Zanetti and Poulsen. As much as I am surprised to be writing this, I would hope that the Tinkerman, leaves well alone for now, and changes nothing that ain’t broke until it breaks again.
 
Without Camoranesi, Marchionni has proved useless, scoring one fortuitous goal and failing to deliver crosses into the box, which is his main skill, even to the standard of the solid yet unspectacular Grgyera. On the opposite flank however, the ageing Nedved has rolled back the years to provide energy, drive and goals. The unfortunate flipside of Nedved’s return to form is the lack of playing time for Giovinco. When I have seen the Atomic ANt play for the Italy U21s he has reminded me of Del Piero in his early years for i bianconeri. Yet Ranieri seems determined to blood him, slowly, as a more combative Nedved-esque winger. This is a waste of obvious talent, and asking too much of the youngster, defensively, is stifling the one player in our squad I see as capable, potentially, of taking over as our fantasista from Del Piero..Still, Ranieri did bring through most of the english players in the Chelsea team who have become rocks in their line-up and some for the english national team, we are climbing the Serie A table, through to the next round of the CHampions League with games to spare, missing several players through injury who, if fit, would command first team places….SO, there isn’t much to complain about really. In the middle of October I was hopeful of Ranieri losing his job. Now, in early November, I am content to see him remain at the helm. Football supporters are as fickle as 12 year old girls…
 
I adore Del Piero. And his three goals against the spanish vermin are to be celebrated long into the future. But as I am sure Il pinturricchio himself would agree, several players are responsible for helping the team climbing out of the hole we were in a fortnight back.

October 23, 2008

Juventus v Real Madrid. Player Ratings.

Manninger-
Commendable goal celebrations. Whereas his superior, Saint Buffon claws at the ball with the tenacity of a pitbull, the former Gunners reserve has a worrying tendency to punch…However, as his punches generally shift the ball to near the halfway line, on this count, I can only criticize his distribution, because obviously its harder to direct a punch than it is to catch the ball and throw it to a team-mate. Hardly at fault for the goal, but nonetheless, his performance didnt merit praise. Competent yet disconcerting: 6,10.

Legrotaglie-
Wonderful to see the christian crusader back in action. An indomitable presence in the air, solid on the deck. Maintained his marking duties quietly but comfortably. The defence, centrally speaking, looked impregnable with Legro alongside the awe inspiring Chiellini. Shame he had to leave the fray at half time; we were more suspect as soon as Mellberg replaced him. A steady 7,10.

Chiellini-
A collosus. Devastating in the tackle, often executing inch perfect lunges when any miscalculation would lead to a one on one with Manninger, which means GOAL. He grows in stature with every game and I have no doubts suggesting that he is set to become one of the finest centrebacks on this planet…How he would fare against the Venusians, is another matter…but for earthly consideration, he is the rock upon which the new Juve must be built. Impressive throughout, 9,10.

Grygera-
Lacking support from Marchionni, the czech scumbag made some useful forages forward, mainly in the first half. His positional play and tackling is acceptable, but his lack of decent distribution and pace make me feel that he must be replaced if we are to regain our place as one of europe’s greatest teams. COmpetent, though technically inept, 7,10.

Molinaro-
His crossing was wretched, tackling suspect, and lack of stele in the will palpable. Must be replaced. And soon…A typical, 4,10.

Mellberg-
Seems a shadow of his Aston Villa incarnation. Off the pace, constantly worried, essentially unfit to wear the bianconeri shirt. He didnt cost a penny, and it shows. 5,10.

Sissoko-
He is a beast. And I adore him. Every tackle he made could have resulted in serious injury for himself, his team-mates and his foes. He knows no caution. His only mode is Beserker. Cut through the Madrid attack and midfield like a chainsaw through baby flesh. Such was his desire to battle that he crunched Marchisio, who will now be out of action for four weeks. His passing is improving as is his composure, but his game is all about Seek and Destroy, not flair or creativity. As easy to pass as entering a rabbit hole covered by the hind of a ravenous grisly bear. Outstanding, 10,10. Man of the Match.

Marchisio-
slowly finding his feet in the side. Demonstrated admirable technical prowess, providing the ball from his own half which led to the delightful del piero strike for 1-0. He looks like a potent cocktail of menace and guile. Shame Sissoko mauled him…8,10.

Nedved-
Displayed admirable energy for a veteran, though its clear that his star is now fading fast. Its about time that Giovinco was given the left midfield berth. The only case for Pavel remaining there is that he is more robust than the wonderkid…But the team isnt lacking robustness, its lacking flair, which leads me to wonder why exactly Ranieri is persisting with the czech wolfman. He laid on the second goal for Amauri, but other than that, looked vibrant yet lacking ingenuity. Credit must be given for his efforts as a central midfielder after Marchisio’s unfortunate collision with Sissoko. Still, that isn’t a combination I would like to see again, so lets hope that Poulsen, Zanetti or even Tiago regains fitness soon. a nostalgic 7,10.

Marchionni-
Anonymous. Distribution poor. Should be shot. As expected, 3,10.

Salihamdzic-
Useless at this level. And in this form, I doubt he would make the Gillingham starting XI…a criminal 2,10.

Del Piero-
The juve talisman rolled back the years to score the splendid opener. His technique remains world class but his ageining legs are crying out to be replaced. Inneffectual at free kicks and corners. But for that goal, which was a scorcher, 8,10.

Amauri-
Fought hard, often appearing in his own half in order to help the midfield and defence. Deserved his goal, on workrate alone, but overall, as an attacking tooth he was more grinder than incisor. Room for improvement, 7,10.

Iaquinta-
Not long to impress, but forced Madrid to remember, at a stage when they were swarming the Juve half like locusts on crystal meth, that they had to defend. Clearly unfit, but encouraging to see him back in action because he always causes the opposition problems when he plays, and he knows where the goal is. a cameo, but still worth 7,10.


juve v sampdoria

January 20, 2008

Juventus v Sampdoria

 

Juve went into this one lacking the services of three integral parts of their first team unit. Long term absentee, Andrade, and the blossoming colossus of Chiellini watched from the stands as did the one player capable of delivering pinpoint crosses, Camorenesi. Still, despite those MIA, Ranieri was able to put out a team talented enough, at least on paper, to beat a Sampdoria side whose away form this season has been at best consistently uninspiring.

 

The first half was one way traffic as Juve exploited the gaps either side of the Sampdoria defensive trio. Nedved was causing havoc with energetic runs down the left flank, combining well with Molinaro, and the Czech wolf-man created several good opportunities for his team-mates to convert into goals. Trezeguet went close on two occasions; firstly when charging by two defenders to place a deft touch onto a pacey cross, which flashed inches wide of the post, and secondly, with a fortuitous rebound off his knee which was cleared from the line by a defender…The best chance of the half fell to Marchioni, who missed an open goal from 3 yards. His failure to capitalize on such a glorious chance to send the Stadio Olympico faithful into wild raptures was truly wretched and must not be forgiven or forgotten lightly…Despite their near total domination, it was the away Side who almost sneaked the lead seconds before the half time whistle was blown, when Maggio got his head onto a corner, which clipped the outside of the post as it trickled to safety…

 

Iaquinta entered the fray for the second period, in place of Del Piero. Ranieri perhaps thought that the easiest route to victory required Muscle over Guile. But he was wrong…Without Del Piero creating a link between the midfield and attack, Juve’s attacking options were drastically depleted. And so it was no surprise that as the match wore on, Sampdoria began to come into the game as a contender; hardly looking likely to snatch the winner, but comfortably dealing with the constant flow of high balls flung hopefully towards the towering Trezeguet and burly Iaquinta…

 

The late introduction of Palladino and Almiron did nothing to improve the situation. The highlight of the whole second half was a misplaced penalty call when Marchioni was perfectly dispossessed of the ball as he flew into the box….The match ended with a whimper. 0-0.

 

On this form, Juventus are going to struggle to hold onto third place in the table, let alone push for second spot. Talk of chasing Inter at the top is now ridiculous. Too many points have been dropped from games which any team wishing to mount a serious title challenge Must win. Sampdoria were on the rack for the first 45 minutes, but after the interval, Juve didn’t manage a single decent shot on goal.

 

So where do the problems lie, for La Vecchia Signora***

 

The injury to Andrade and failure of Criscito to quickly transform his obvious potential into current ability, has disrupted any plans of Juve forming a decisive central pairing. Legrotagllie has made the most of his chance to fill the gap left by his injured and underperforming buddies, proving unbeatable in the air and sturdy on the deck, but he ultimately lacks the cutting edge of a truly class Stopper. Alongside him, CHielini has emerged as a rough diamond. His Molotov cocktail mix of swashbuckling never say die attitude and impeccably timed tackling has been one of the few highlights of the season so far for Juventus. With the giant youngster sidelined for a further 3 weeks, Grygera seems capable of deputizing alongside Legrotagllie. At left back, Molinaro continues to show admirable attacking flair, but frailties defensively. He can cross the ball, but his tackling is weak and often mistimed. I would prefer to see Chiellini, when fit, occupying that position. Because he is more solid as a defender, and also harder for an opponent to deal with whenever he roams forward to support the attack. On the opposite flank there is a more pressing need for re-inforcements. Zebina is a wild cat, a mammoth of a man, but he isn’t good enough for Serie A. The right back slot is a natural position for Grygera who I would prefer to see there than Zebina or Birindelli, who played today. With everyone back to full fitness, a defence of Grygera, Andrade, Legrotaglie, Chiellini would be secure. Replacing Legrotaglie in that quarter with a player like Andrea Barzagli, or Olof Melberg, would make the Juve defence breachable only through fortune or World Class flair.

 

In midfield there are more pressing issues to address. Today, Ranieri deployed three wingers, Nedved, Salihamdzic and Marchioni, who were backed up by one defensive midfielder, Zanetti. It is the first selection of the Juve manager this season, which has made me start to question his tactical understanding of the game. Wingers play on the Wing. Not through the middle…Nedved remains a very useful player, but due to his age, will need replacing next season. Marchioni and Salihamzdic are yet to demonstrate why they were brought to the club. Zanetti is a Serie B version of the player Deschamps used to be when he donned the bianconeri maglia…Only the ageining Nedved and youthful but cultured, Nocerino, of the midfielders, can be said to be having a satisfactory season. The team is missing Camoronesi. He is not going to score many goals. Neither is he in possession of mesmerizing dribbling skills, but what he can do is :Pass the Ball over long distance with unerring accuracy. That skill alone creates several gilt edged chances to score, per game for his colleagues and today, with the big Two out there up front, Juve could have done with his right boot on the field…With Nedved on the left, Camo back on the right, Nocerino should take the place of Zanetti, in front of the back four, and joining him in the middle should be Tiago, or whoever comes in to take his place. The 9 million sterling acquisition from Lyon has failed to show his class over the first half of the season and as a result of that, his sustained inclusion on the Juve bankroll is now dubious…But if he is sold, then someone must be brought in to take a pop at that Attacking midfield position. I will be content if Sissokko joins the club before the January transfer window closes. He is a player of serious potential and I can see him forming a powerful central midfield pairing with Nocerino or Tiago. Every team needs a Madman who fills the opposition with fear that he might just break their legs, and he will do it with a smile on his face…Sissoko is that kind of player. And at 22 years old, he has shown signs of threatening to develop into a new, even nastier, version of Viera.

 

In attack Del Piero still has enough to offer, in terms of creativity, to warrant floating in and out of the first team. Trezeguet will score goals against any opposition, as long as he is given the Right service. As for Iaquinta, although he has done well when he has played, he lacks real quality…There is also Palladino, who has done nothing this season to make me assume he is going to amount to anything worth Juve holding onto.

 

There are less than 10 days left before the transfer window closes. Juventus want to assure themselves of third place or above. To do this they must purchase a Centre Back and a Highly Creative midfielder. If a replacement for Tiago isn’t signed, then he must be given a run of games in the first XI. Not just the odd substitute appearance. A proper chance to bed into the team and show his worth…

Buffon

Grygera, Andrade, Melberg, CHielini

Camo, Tiago, Sissoko, Nedved,

Trez, Del Piero…

That team would finish 2nd or 3rd

 

After watching the sorry showing at Catania last week, I was unsurprised but still disheartened by today’s performance. Maybe I am asking for too much, but I want to see Juve get back to the top, and right now, they are looking more like a mid table team, than world beaters….As the commentator surmised the Juventus performance today, ‘they were more hopeful than clever.’

   


notes from a rum soaked England fan…

November 22, 2007

The end of the road…

I was appalled when Steve Mclaren was given the top job in the wake of our failure at the 2006 world cup tournament. Shocked even. Because he was obviously unsuited to the role…I remember his last game as Boss of Boro. A 4-0 mauling at the hands of Spanish conquistadors, Seville…It was of course a great achievement to get Boro to the final, but to see any team capitulate in such brutal fashion, in what was undoubtedly the highest ground many of the Boro players are ever to reach, was disgusting. I was very unimpressed.

As Fergie’s number two at United, Mclaren excelled, proving his worth as the Reds developed into the most powerful team in the country. But as the first team coach at Boro, he did not show the guile, character or style which is required to be successful as Top Man at any important club…Perhaps he is a world class Number Two, and a woeful Number One…Only time will tell…What is for sure, however, more-so after tonight’s pitiful showing against Croatia, is that Steve Mclaren has been, for several reasons, the worst England Manager I have had the misfortune of having to support.

It was not just the scoreline of the 2-3 home defeat suffered this evening, on our own turf, against the well organized Croatians, which sickened but didn’t surprise me, it was the performance…We gave the world football. Maintained our position for decades as one of the always decent, now and then superb, international teams, but now, 7 years into the 21s century, we are wretched…

Worse than the unforgivable failure to qualify from a group which contained only one other team who can be considered a threat to any of the greatest sides in the world, is the manner which we went down tonight. There was no passion, no grit, no pride…Those three attributes are essential for any team who want to win a match. Without them, even the most wonderful collection of players cannot perform anywhere near to finding the sum of their collected parts…

Lampard and Gerrard, at club level are quality players, now and then dipping into rich veins of form which makes them unstoppable, unplayable, and ultimately world class. Yet when they play for their country, they change into average players who, at times, would have trouble getting into the Gillingham FC starting XI…Though Beckham’s teeth are lengthening, he can still piss in a pint glass from 50 yards, and for that reason alone, he is an essential part of any plan to beat world class opposition. Yet, after the 2006 World Cup, one of the first major decisions of the then newly crowned England Manager, was to send unarguably the finest player this country has had over the last half decade or so, into exile…That didn’t make sense at the time to me…Relinquishing Beckham of his Captaincy duties and demoting him to a squad player would have been enough of a symbol to herald Mclaren’s intention of bringing in the youth to replace the Old Guard. But he went further, axing from the squad the one player from our team who was capable of consistently performing at least one essential element of the beautiful game, namely Distribution…He has no pace, little chance of successfully taking players on with the ball at his feet and the mentality of an 7 year old sweet natured townie, but Beckham’s vast repertoire and god given talent of Passing a football to any position on the pitch- often just with one touch from his blessed toes, as was seen tonight when he set up Crouchy’s strike- is simply amazing…All the greatest teams have a defensive system which combines brute strength, military organization, wise minds which can read the flow of the game for 90 minutes and Heart. To break down such formidable human barricades, a team must have a player capable of Magic or impeccable passing technique and vision. The only player we have like that is David Beckham…Though flashes reported to be Rooney’s star have been spotted, the brightness of which is said to be blinding, his position in the celestial realms as the most special player wearing an English shirt, is yet to be confirmed…I remember feeling such compassion for Beckham, when I read the story of Mclaren calling him to let him know he was out. I imagined the tears welling up inside him as his former mentor at Old Trafford informed him that not only had he lost his captain’s armband but that he was OUT THE SQUAD…At that point, I considered almost daily, for a week or two, that Mclaren should be hung, on charges of Treason…That isn’t how I feel now.

I can point the finger at the lack of opportunities afforded to young English players in the top flight of our domestic football leagues as a possible reason for the current State of Things, but that is an area which can’t, due to European law, be changed…It is easy to misjudge the quality of our football when the Premiership is one of the most lucrative footballing products on the globe. TV audiences may well prove that there is exciting, attractive football played in this country but how many of the players who regularly wow the hoardes of Premiership addicts stationed all around the planet, are English***…Other than John Terry, whose injury problems have forced him into missing large chunks of playing time over the last year, only Gerrard and Rooney could make that group, and they are both currently outshone by the likes of Berbatov, Ronaldo, Adebayor, Vidic, Robbie Keane, Ryan Nelson, Van Persie…With European Law demanding free movement of trade and services, as long as certain rules are met, it is impossible to limit the amount of foreign players in English domestic clubs. The flood of foreign football imports over the last decade has made it harder and less likely for a home grown british footballer to rise to the top and become a national hero…Financial aspects of the game have intensified to such staggering levels that Club football has overtaken the national game in this country. That is where the Money is…The Premiership is the main focus of the top players in England…Sadly, the logical reasoning points to the suggestion that English players are materialistic, money grabbing tossers, who care more for their weekly wage packet, which could finance a humble lifestyle like my own for 20 years, than they do for their nation…Maybe there is more to this than meets the eye of a mere glance. Maybe this lack of passion and pride at being English and flying the flag on a global level, is indicative of an identity crisis decaying at the very foundations of what it means to be English…

We need a new Manager. Whether Mclaren wants to leave or not is irrevelant. He should count himself mighty lucky not to be standing, right now, in front of a firing squad…Who will replace him, is more of a riddle. Because all the Top managers are currently employed elsewhere…except, the cigar smoking, silver haired Paul Newman lookalike, Marcello Lippi, and a maverick, amusingly arrogant, Portuguese Man At War named Jose Mourinho…I doubt Lippi would want the job, there is more chance he will replace Donadoni as the Italian Allenatore…As for Mourinho, he might just accept it, if offered, but his volatile, abrasive personality and style may be too much for the FA to deal with. They are Suits, who place too much emphasis in their thinking, on Image, when all that really matters is Substance…Out of the English managers, nobody seems qualified for the job. We must look further afield when deciding who we think is capable of building a team over the next couple of years which is capable of making this country proud in the 2010 world cup.

In conclusion, Mclaren, as England Manager, has been inept tactically, never quite deciding on a definite system to adopt and train into the blood of the constantly changing squad…And also horribly unable to galvanize his troops into showing even a spark of real passion when they don the England shirt and step into battle. The players must shoulder some of the blame for what has happened, and I am sure they will, but secretly in the back of their minds, perhaps some of our ‘star players’ are happy to have next summer free when they can spend some of their millions on a well earned holiday…Bastards.

For an alternative perspective on England’s embarrassing exit from the European Championships, I asked an acquaintance, known appropriately, as John the Baptist, for his views… His reply disturbed me…
It’s simple, dannyboy, we got kicked out by the Arabs…all politics of course
same ol story, guv…we’ll pay back those towel heads come next year…an invasion is planned…first Kuwait, then we take Iraq, from the Yankees…next we gunna take Afghanistan, and sell it off, mile by mile, to the Chinese…by then we will have amassed , by enslaving all afghans, Iraqis, Kuwaitis, into our army, a vast military machine capable of taking on Russia…with the help of the Yankees, who by then will have forgiven us for stealing Iraq from right under their noses…that is the way it is going to pan out, dannyboy and you know it deep down…’

I didn’t know it deep down, and though I admired John, in a comical way, for taking my question as an opportunity to preach from his doomsday pulpit, his total disconnection with reality was beginning to unnerve me…it was time to deliver a few lines of bewildering nonsense, then flee like a gazelle in heat, hot on the scent of an accommodating female…So I asked him to Keep Me Informed, wished him good luck in Hell then ran back to my cave.


Cagliari v Juventus 2-3

September 3, 2007

Seeing what Napoli did to Udinese today gives an idea to the kind of form Cagliari are currently experiencing. Sometimes these smaller teams, get a purple patch where all systems are Go, the team is giving more in total than the sum of it’s parts. In fact, it is vital for the lesser outfits, of which Cagliari is surely one, gets these purple patches of form if they are to survive and/or prosper in the top flight. Obviously, they are firing on all cylinders right now and would have won this game were it not for some woeful finishing and the class and magick of Santo Buffon.

Despite this Super Cagliari, we were very poor. Ranieri cannot be happy with the performances of most of the team. Other than Buffon, Andrade, Chiellini and Camo, the rest of the Juve players seemed to be lacking guile and spirit.

Criscito needs time to form a solid partnership with Andrade, but they could be rocks for us at the back. Chiellini continues to impress me more with every minute he is on the field and his never say die attitude reminds me of the endeavour and will to win of Vialli and Ravanelli. Every team needs a huge youngster, capable of making important challenges and fighting tooth and claw for every ball, in their ranks… The right back position must be sorted out soon and Zebina must be shot. He got caught out of position too many times and his reaction to being sent off was appalling.

Our midfield play, prior to the arrival of Camo, was painfully laboured and predictable. Almiron may well prove to be useful in the long run, but if he is to play alongside the workhorse Zanetti then the forwards and wingers will continue to be starved of decent service from the middle of the park. Maybe Ranieri wanted to give Tiago some time out there but with the vicious, tense nature of the game, he opted to keep Tough in midfield and stick with the dogs of war…Nedved was redundant for most of the game, not sure if he was just showing his age or was well marked by more spritely legs. Sali on the right side was useless, and let’s hope he can perform better as our right back, because Camo deserves that position on the wing. he showed today that by coming on half fit and having a hand in all three of our goals. He is growing on me as a footballer despite my anger at several of the comments he has made over the last few years. His delivery of the ball is the best we currently have available and I am sure Trezeguet will be hoping more than anyone that the Argie/Italian regains full fitness and his berth on the right flank as soon as possible.

Up front we were lacking energy and movement. Del Piero still has the skill, but he seemed to be several yards of the pace of every other player on the pitch today. Maybe he just needs time to regain match fitness??? Trezegol got his goal yes, but otherwise was a ghost. I can’t blame him for that, because as a target man constantly running through the middle he needs the ball put into the right areas and today that just didn’t happen, at least not until Camo turned up.

I didn’t understand Ranieri’s decision to haul off Criscito for Legro…The Camo swap for Sali was required and actually turned the game in our favour. Just a shame that Nocerino didn’t arrive on the scene earlier. I would like to see him start alongside Almiron…

Ultimately, however badly we played, we won the game and picked up 3 points away from home against a team who were ALL fired up and gunning for glory. Three games, three victories. can’t complain about that kinda start to the season, but neither can we get too carried away.

Man of the Match for me has to be Chiellini. he has technique, passion, and the volatility of a tiger shark.