Posts Tagged ‘Soccer

31
Mar
08

Platini’s Modest Proposal

platini

UEFA President Michel Platini is a man stuck in the 19th century. I say that with reservations because it might actually be fair to say that he’s stuck in the 18th century.

Yesterday, Platini gave an extraordinary speech in which he claimed to have asked the “European Commission” to ban the transfer of minors.

I have told the European Commission that we should ban the transfer of minors. The first contract a player signs should be with the club who trains him. Minors shouldn’t be seen as a machine that can be transferred for the benefit of agents or clubs.

I’m not exactly sure how this new proposed rule would work. It probably would legally bind a player to a club for a set number of years (probably 2) after they sign their first professional contract. Then after their 18th birthday they could move freely around Europe. Platini wants to implement this because, he says, it’s the only way to ensure that local talent stays local and thereby increases the local fan base and, in his mind, helps the national team. Because for Platini, the way to ensure that England has the best talent is to huddle all the English players together in the rain and make them play against each other.

But how does this idea benefit the footballers? After all, they are the ones who must take the pitch in whatever strip they might be wearing — team or country. If the footballers aren’t getting the best training in the highest competitions how will they be able to play their best football?

I don’t think that it does benefit the players and I don’t just mean monetarily. Players get better when they play against and compete for spots with the best players in the world. If teams are forced to recruit only locally (probably within 30 miles of the club) the ability to pit youth against other youth in a competitive environment that will raise the level of competition across the academy is extremely limited.

And then there’s the idea that the team that trains you, owns you. Isn’t that’s some sort of 18th century indentured servitude? I can see all kinds of problems arising from this plan. Imagine a 14 year old who is a bit of a troubled youth and doesn’t get along with his coach, but he’s a tremendous talent. So, AS Nancy snatches him up at age 14 and until his 18th birthday, his ass belongs to AS Nancy. They could destroy this kid’s career. Let’s say he has a falling out with the management. Oh well, sit on the bench kid.

How does that make players better?

Or worse. Imagine if Fabregas had been forced to stay in Barcelona. He would never have had the opportunity to train with Wenger and he may never have been given the opportunity to play for Barcelona’s first team. Fabregas is a special talent, and I’d like to think that he would have been successful regardless, but you cannot deny that Arsene Wenger is one of the best youth coaches (if not THE best) in the world and thus that he has had a profound effect on Cesc’s career. And for me that’s the “coup de grace.”

Wealthy people send to their children to the best schools in the world in order to help ensure their future success. Why shouldn’t some poor kid from Barcelona be allowed to go to the best footballing school in the world? Why shouldn’t some poor kid from Barcelona be given the opportunity to play against and showcase his talent amongst the best players in the world? Because of where he was born? That’s not helping football Michel, that’s stultifying the development of the game by limiting the opportunities for talented youth to fully explore and exploit their talent.

Of course, this plan is not just about educational opportunity. This is about money. Platini is proposing that a team owns you once they start training you. With that kind of legal power teams will be able to set extraordinarily low wages on players because the player has no freedom to negotiate. All of the power goes to the corporation and none of it to the individual.

Platini spoke of teams treating the players like “machines” to be bought and sold, in essence, he’s saying we need to humanize the youth in football. But freedom, Michel, freedom to move, to disagree with a coach, to get paid what you’re worth; freedom humanizes us. Your plan would do nothing more than empower the AS Nancy’s of the world to dehumanize players through a system of ownership straight out of the 18th century.

Your plan would not help football.  Your plan will not help footballers.  Your plan would not increase the talent pool for England.  Your plan would merely enrich and empower small clubs at the expense of young men.

It’s a modest proposal indeed.

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23
Mar
08

SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!

T-minus 1 hour and 45 minutes and it’s time to put away all the profiles of Flamini, the hand wringing over Gallas, the pontificating about what the two teams’ relative strengths are, and how much Avram Grant loves Arsenal’s style. We need to put aside the Eduardo incident, the attacks on refs, Flamini’s contract talks, Rosicky’s permanent injury, and just play our game.

If you’re looking for a good break down of player by player matchups and the like, click on over to Yogi’s blog at A Cultured Left Foot. He breaks it all down for you, including probable starting lineups.

But what’s needed now, is the team to perform and the supporters to support. This is it. This is the big one Elizabeth. Arsenal must win and so all the talk is pointless, right now.

I have to admit, I’m very nervous. I can’t imagine what the Arsenal players feel like.

Update: I’ve been listening to the Man U v. Liverpool match and it looks like Mascherano has been sent off for dissent. This is simply crazy. You can’t change the rules in the middle of the season. Much less change the rules on the day of the matches that will decide the outcome of the season. Disgraceful.

22
Mar
08

Calm before the storm

There’s not much going on this morning save that Chelsea have apologized and called for calm ahead of the match on Sunday…

HA! Just kidding. Avram Grant accused Eboue of a worse tackle than Cole’s rash lunge on Hutton. When I read that, I fucking laughed out loud. Either Grant literally has shit for brains or he’s intentionally being a cunt. I’m going with the latter. I mean, fucking John Terry shouldn’t even have been on the pitch after his two footed lunge into the body of a prone Cesc Fabregas. THAT tackle was the worst of the match. And yes, before you mention it, I do remember Fabregas’ tackle on Ashcole. It was a cheap shot and he deserved a card for it. But let’s face facts: Terry and Joke-ole should have both been sent off for their tackles, Cesc should have been sent off for his tackle, Ashcole should have gotten a red (Aliadiere style) for putting hands on Cesc’s face in retaliation, and Eboue should have gotten a yellow card at most.

It was an ugly match, which by my count should have seen 4 reds. But what’s needed now, ahead of a very tense match tomorrow, is a measure of calm and professionalism. Instead, Abramovich’s lapdog goes on to accuse the FA of a conspiracy against Chelsea, even claiming that the two times they have been charged with failing to control their players were part of that conspiracy.

W.T.F.???

I can only guess that what he’s trying to do is win his team some calls tomorrow. Good luck with that. Seems to me as if these kinds of comments, coming as they are on the heels of a display of utter disrespect for officials and the rules of the game at the mid-week, would only serve to set the referee against you on Sunday. We’ll have to see. It is Mark Clattenburg who will be in charge of the match, so predicting his behavior is impossible.

One of the outcomes of this whole re-flap over Eboue is the possible insertion of Walcott into the starting lineup. Grant’s comments about Chelsea still waiting for an Eboue apology are ominous. Chelsea sounds as if they really think Eboue intentionally did John Terry. Wenger has to be aware of that and may want to diffuse the situation by starting Walcott instead. Add in that the press are all about hyping the 19 year old and you can see why I might think he’ll get the starting nod.

Maybe not, after all, Arsenal may need their “hard man” Eboue..

I just laughed even writing that and I’ll probably have a good chuckle when I read the column out loud.

That’s about it for today, I just want to ask you all one favor: on this Easter Sunday, pray for poor John Terry to come through the match unscathed.

21
Mar
08

Drogba stirs the cauldron of shiat

Late blog today, I partially tore my Achilles tendon last Sunday and to accommodate my need to get a ride from my girlfriend I’ve changed my work schedule to four 10 hour shifts. Yes, I have Friday’s off and so I got to sleep in this morning and thus the late blog.

A late blog though isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, the late blog let’s me write about the story that Drogba’s stirring up the Chelsea supporters. First off, there isn’t a single dirty trick for Chelsea to pull that would surprise me in the least. But inciting the Chelsea supporters to be even worse than they already are is pretty low.

During the Carling Cup final, Cesc was pelted with celery every time he went to take a corner kick. At first it was just rib of celery or two and then they started chucking whole hearts of celery. Which culminated in this famous image:

I understand the celery thing, I really do. And I remember remarking last year that tossing the odd rib of celery at a player isn’t really that big of a deal. The problem only happens when things start to escalate, as they did in the photo above. Once fans start tossing out hearts of celery, or even whole celery plants, the only possible outcome is escalation. And the Arsenal supporters did promise to escalate this war of veggies by promising to hit Ashcole with whole fruit and veg on his return to Arsenal.

Fortunately, Wenger called for calm, the stadium stepped up searches and Cole wasn’t hit with vegetables. Because we all know that if Arsenal supporters were given the same leeway that Chelsea supporters seem to get and allowed to throw veggies at Cole, the next escalation would be peas… wrapped in a can. It was a very classy move by Arsenal to defuse the situation.

And now we’ve come full circle. Chelsea are in a serious shambles right now conceding 4 goals to bottom of the table Tottenham and with Avram Grant’s tactics being openly questioned by his players. Not only that, but Ashcole’s tackle and the squad’s subsequent ugly remonstration of Riley’s let off of a yellow card shows that there is a deep, deep trouble at Chelsea. And so, it’s natural for the players to grasp at straws and say things like:

William knows he is coming to the cauldron of Stamford Bridge, like with Ashley Cole [at Arsenal], he will be booed. But they are top players and I will need help from the crowd to unsettle William

I would think that Chelsea as a club would, right now, with all that is going on, want the players to bring a measure of calm and professionalism and workman attitude to the game. If the club wanted to do that, they might make a statement like this:

I want our fans to be behind our team and not to especially have resentment… He did well for the club for as long as he was here and ideally you want everybody who has played for you to be respected. What is over is over and you have to take a distance with that.

Those were the words of Arsene Wenger ahead of Cole’s return to Arsenal. He’s a classy guy that Wenger.

I would hope that Avram Grant would say something similar but Chelsea just don’t have the history of being a classy club. Chelsea are the kind of club that always puts winning ahead of everything else. They are the Floyd Landis of English football.

Sunday has all the potential to be the ugliest football match we have seen all season. I expect trouble in this match, Arsenal have seen a serious drop in form since Milan and will not be above hard tackles to regain that form. Chelsea, as I already mentioned, are in an absolute free fall and with the personalities on that team it’s a matter of “when” and not “if” they will start the pushing, shoving, yelling at the ref, dirty tackles, shirt pulling and all the other tactics they employ when they can’t win a match by playing football. If you add in that the FA, in a moment of sheer insanity, placed Mark Clattenburg (who has been disciplined publicly this season…TWICE) in charge of the match this thing is ready to explode.

Which makes Drogba stirring up the fans that much more reprehensible. The last thing this match needs is the supporters egging on the bad conduct — literally.
So, shame on you Drogba, and shame on you Chelsea for not calling for calm ahead of the storm.

Until tomorrow.

05
Jan
08

Nothing’s going on, unless you like Ipswich

There is precious little going on this morning., so I’m watching the Pompey v. Ipswich match. I have to admit that I kinda liked watching Ipswich Town back in the 90’s so I’m up for this match. Come on you Horses (or whatever you call yourselves).

Later this morning Man U are taking on Villa and I have a feeling Villa are going to dump them out of the cup. Since I refuse to pay $10 to see Ronaldo be an utter cunt I’ll probably just read the match report. Especially if something cool happens like if “CR7’s” ego reaches critical mass and forms a singularity sucking the entire Man U squad and all their boring fans into an alternate universe where “CR7” and “Wazza” aren’t cunts. I’ll look for that in this afternoon’s papers.

But this is an Arsenal blog. How about some Arsenal news???

Well, there isn’t any. Lehmann is still deciding and Dortmund is still optimistic about signing him. It looks like he’ll be starting for Arsenal tomorrow. The boss is saying he’s not letting anyone out of the squad: he’s keeping them all in a little jar on his desk. Hopefully he’ll poke holes in the lid so that they can breathe.

I guess that kills off any Diarra speculation. Which is exactly what it was. Wenger had to come out to the press and state categorically “I had nobody from Spurs on the phone and I didn’t reject any bids from Spurs.” Lies??? About transfers??? In the Media??? I’m shocked. SHOCKED.

Speaking of transfer rumors and shoddy reporting: most places are trying to make it look like Fabregas is being obscure about his commitment to Arsenal. Just last week, there was an article that Cesc was going nowhere. So let’s stick with that.

Cesc is going nowhere. I think you all know that, just look at him jumping for joy in yesterday’s photoshoot (nee practice) with David Beckam.

That’s it, I’m off to watch Ipswich lose to Pompey because while I was writing this, Ipswich had a player sent off by the criminally insane Mark Halsey.

Until tomorrow!

P.S. a couple of us are meeting up at Doyle’s in Tacoma for the 6am kickoff. This match is on Fox so I will totally understand if you stay at home. But, if you feel like a breakfast sandwich and some company, come on down, there will be plenty of room!

02
Jan
08

“I prefer to lead from the front — definitely”

So, I show up at Doyle’s and I’m there long enough to get some coffee and watch the minute of silence for Phil O’Donnell (the Motherwell player who died of a heart attack) when Russ comes up and starts b.s.ing with me about something. We’re chit-chatting when I hear a roar from the Emirates crowd and look up to see Dudu celebrating a goal. WTF? 90 seconds in and Eduardo has expertly chested down a perfect right foot cross from Cesc on the left channel: right foot, lower right corner, 1-0 to the Arsenal. That’s the way to start a match! And that’s the way to endear yourself to the Arsenal fans. I said last year that Arsenal need a poacher. And now 5 goals in three starts and it’s stating to look like they have one.

For the next 16 minutes West Ham had a few chances and were clearly up for the match, they were scrapping and tackling hard and generally winning the ball in the midfield. I honestly thought their big striker, Carlton Cole, looked likely to score but it wasn’t to be. Instead, on one of those decent possesions Clichy got the ball, evaded Cole and played a beautiful ball forward to Adebayor who, to be fair, was perfectly slotted in between the two central defenders. The two defenders beaten, Ade used his pace and guile to head the ball past a hapless and ordinary looking Green and then somehow caused the earth to rotate just enough to get a ball that looked as if it was past the end line to spin into the goal. You can see the video of it here (which I found at Arseblog and who he credits to 101 great goals) — stunning, mystical, magical. I dunno, breathtaking maybe? How else to describe it?

Sigh — of course this was followed up by some kind of stupid celebration between he and Eboue (video by the Arsenalist, who is an awesome source for post match videos). Let me say this now and be very clear: Eboue is my least favorite player on the squad. His antics on the pitch are a disgrace to the club. If he was playing at the same level as Adebayor I might forgive him but he doesn’t. He’s shit more often than not. To be fair, Tuesday’s match he looked very bright and tackled well, passed well, and kept the ball well. And he has his moments. But more often than not he is a cheat and a faker and possesses no footballing intelligence. Norman Hubbard says it in a much nicer way but still calls him one of the worst players of the season so far (right up there with Jonathan Woodgate, yeesh, he’s not THAT bad!). This dance thing just adds to my dislike of the man. Applaud the fans, kiss the Arsenal badge, and get back on the pitch and play football.

Sorry about that. Eboue just chaps my ass.

The rest of the match looked good: Arsenal played the ball around, Cesc had a few shots on goal (good to see him looking to score again), Theo looked bright and had a poor shot, and basically they killed West Ham off. The sad moment of the match came when Freddy limped off at half time. What a drag it is getting old.

Speaking of Eboue, he’s one of three players we’ll be “missing” for the African Cup of Nations; Eboue, Song, and of course Toure. Song is the surprise of the three as I haven’t rated him too highly even though he had his best, albeit very shaky, performance in the Carling Cup last outing.

That leaves the squad with Senderos and Djourou (and I suppose Gilberto) to partner with Gallas at the back. Senderos looked fantastic in the Champion’s League last season so let’s all raise a pint in hopes that he can regain that form under the careful tutelage of Bill Gallas.

We’ll find out on Sunday when Arsenal take on Burnley in the FA cup. The match kicks off at 6 am PST on Fox Soccer Channel here in the states. If you don’t have Fox and you live in Sunny Tacoma, WA you can catch the match for free at Doyle’s Public House.

Finally, in the transfer market Arsenal are tipped to get Luke Freeman from some screaming, bald, toothless guy. Just what they need, another striker. Maybe Wenger can magic him into a center back?

Until tomorrow, here’s to you, all my non-existent readers! Happy New Year!

8:53am Update…

Arsenal Wallpaper is up on their website.

01
Jan
08

Welcome back Mr. Ljungberg

Happy New Year! I hope you all have a great new year and keep all of your resolutions. I was a good boy and didn’t drink at all last night so I feel great this morning. I feel like a million dollars dipped in gold leaf and used as bedding for a harem of beautiful Brazilian women.

So, erm, on with the blog.

First, the team news: Sagna and Gilberto are being rested but Theo and Eboue are back. I was just thinking about Theo the other day and hoping he could rejoin the squad because they need his spark off the bench and they also need his goals off the bench. Maybe Wenger showed him Dudu’s goals from Saturday? “See that, lad, when you have a chance, take it.” Speaking of Dudu, the rumors around are that Arsenal might start Dudu and Ade up front. We’ll see. That 4-4-2 worked pretty well against Everton and Wenger is a big fan of the “if it ain’t broken don’t change it” so I suspect we’ll see two strikers up front today. Although, with no Bentdner or van Persie on the bench Wenger may opt to conserve his strikers and play a lone Ade up front and bring Dudu on for Hleb and Theo on for Eboue.

Hammers are missing that despicable cunt (Bellamy) and Freddy is listed as questionable. I don’t think Freddy would wuss out of this match so if he can pull his boots on he will. And it will be a beautiful standing ovation for him if he does.

I just want to say “Thank You” to Freddie, he was one of the players who made me fall in love with Arsenal. That shock of red hair, the pace, and the boldness and timeliness of his goals were instrumental in cementing the bond between me and Arsenal. The only shame has been watching him slowly break down and fall off in production. We all saw it over the last two years. He’s lost a step, he’s short with his teammates, his shot is off, yet he expected to be played as a regular starter. So, he left. And his injuries have gotten worse and his production is even further off. Which sucks to watch.

In other news, Wenger sees Eduardo as another Robbie Fowler. For me, he’s just like Fowler, with something in his eye, and starting in the league 10 years late.

That’s it folks, first blog over. I have to clear the decks and walk down to Doyle’s to catch the match (which starts in 1/2 an hour).

I’ll finish with “Up the ARSE!”




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