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For All That Is Pure & Good…

…about the game of football. This is what F.C. United of Manchester represents and their continued ascension through the English league structure is a testament to the fact that a club doesn’t need to sell its soul to succeed in today’s football. Yesterday, FCUoM beat Skelmerdale 4-1 in the playoff final to earn promotion, their third successive, to the Unibond Premier League. This recent promotion now puts them two leagues away from Conference League and who knows with the rate that these lads are going could be in the Premier League ten years from now *knock on wood*.

With their solid fan base and fantastic management/board F.C. United of Manchester success should continue and with that bring back what is lost in football today, especially in the Premier League, or the very least remind us of the days when football was just that…Football – pure in the beauty of simplicity.

Image From Andy Barker


Thoughts on The French Friendly

Becks get subbedI must admit, when I saw the starting line up for England before the friendly against France I was a bit dissappointed because it reminding me of the McClown reign. But I will refrain from the Cappello rants because I’m still giving hime benefit of the doubt and also remembering that Rome wasn’t built in one day.

Instead I’d imagine that Cappello was using this game a means to identify which ol’ guard to drop and what formations best utilizes the players he has on hand. Now England performance wasn’t dreadful but it wasn’t inspiring either, they managed to keep ball possession (for the first half anyway) and were a bit structured. But what was quite evident was the lack of width and creativity from the England side and this I think should let Cappello know that the reign of Golden Balls has is neigh. Becks lacked pace, it said a lot when Wes Brown was overlapping him down the flank,  as well as the ability to taken on oppossing defenders one-on-one. Sure his has great pinpoint passing but when you standing around pinging passes you and your team mates become predictable therefore very easy to defend so those passes pose no threat to the opposition. Terry’s performance was quite as forgettable, which is uncommon for the lad, his man-marking wasn’t consistent and his mental lapses occurred more than usual. Micheal Owen in my book shouldn’t be in an England squad again, plain and simple. On the formation front, Cappello needs to drop the lone striker formation business. England does not have an out-and-out center forward and should starting looking to partner Rooney with someone. And what was more telling this that most team in today’s football are more adept and defending lone-striker formations especially when you don’t have a scoring threat from midfield.

So I’m looking to see quite a few changes in terms of personnel on the pitch and formation for the friendly against USA. Speaking of the USA friendly, I was happy to see ol’ golden balls get his 100th cap against France because, to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the media frenzy/arse kissing ESPN would be engaged in towards golden balls had he gotten that cap against the USA.

Ramblings of a Red

Really have nothing much to say on the football side of things, yeah I acknowledge quite a lot has happened since my last post but I’m just not really up to it today. Think it is due to the fact I’m mentally drained from work this past week and hence I’ve kind of tossed my thinking hat out the window for a while. My job is a new gig so I’m left with s**t loads of learning to do and on top of that I have a 1.5hr metro ride back home (traffic is a biatch here in the DC metro area, makes me long for Ohio traffic at times). Yeah so I’m usually a tired wreck by the time I get home. Maybe once things start calming down on the life front, due to relocating to this city cold turkey, things will starting calming down.

But before I bid adieu, a quick shout about my boys at Giggs Lane as they solider on towards another consecutive league promotion. The lads of FC United of Manchester for the last eight have gone 5W-2D-1L plus are setting pretty at 5th with five games in hand. Even more impressive is the club continues breaking of attendance records for their division. The only downer in all this is that it’s nearly impossible to watch or even get live text commentary for lower division clubs from here let alone FCUM. With a solid fan support and good board members the future is bright for Reds! *banging on wood* March On!

Fourth and Eighteen

Hargreaves celebrates

Nope that’s not an NFL down play, just the other race going in the Premiere League. For fourth we have Everton and Liverpool vying for the last Champions League spot and if you had asked me before the start of the season I would have told you that this position was going to Pompey. Then Pompey decided to smoke some serious ganja then sold their best striker in Benjani for the over-rated Defoe. Now Everton are on a tear thanks to the Yak who seems to be scoring at will and the Merseyside lads are looking more balanced with each game. Liverpool seems to have their acts together and seem to be playing well, but I don’t have them finishing fourth. Liverpool has not been playing consistent football all season and this would be their undoing.

The more interesting race has to be for the 18th spot. While some are scrapping to avoid the last spot in the drop zone others are activity seeking it with their poor run of form. With crucial wins by Birmingham and Reading coupled with the fact that both Sunderland and Derby both earned crucial points things are getting interesting. Only five points separates the 18th and 11th positions with 10 games left to play (11 for Tottenham). Both Fulham and Derby are foregone conclusions for the drop so seeing who fills in the final slot is something worth betting on, I’ve got my money on either Newcastle or Sunderland, as the season winds to an end.

Wenger Cries, Fergie Rejoices

United Celebrate

Before I begin with today’s post, I pray Eduardo has a speedy recovery and is capable of returning to the pitch to further his professional career. The tackle that lead to his injury (his leg broken in three places) was horrible and the Premier League along with the FA need to get such horrid tackles expelled from the game of football. I don’t understand why players lung studs up towards an opponent, it’s a very risky thing to do and has the possibility of ending a player’s career.

Now Wenger has being crying bloody murder and has called for the banning of Martin Taylor for the aforementioned tackle on Eduardo. His cries and insinuation that Taylor knowingly sought to harm Eduardo is just wrong and is not becoming of a professional manager. I know he is riding high on emotions but that does not excuse the comments he has made about Taylor. No player in football sets out to harm anyone in football, they make stupid/clumsy challenges but there is never an intent to harm a fellow player. Also he whined about how other teams are being too physical against his players since they can’t keep up with their style of play. Um, Wenger, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but football is a contact sport so deal with it. If someone is physical against you, why don’t you just get physical with them too because no one is going to just sit back and let your boys run rings around them…which is what you would like.

United strengthened their chase for the league trophy with a resounding victory over Newcastle. It was a good game which saw the Reds put five past the Magpies woeful defense, Saha even got on the score sheet after coming off the bench. The gaffer said: “But really the match was settled by the ability of the front players who were absolutely fantastic, we could have scored more goals. They (the forwards) all did really well, Ronaldo and Rooney will take the headlines but the movement of (Carlos) Tevez and the penetration of Nani (added) to all that.” In addition to the forwards the midfield again shun as they did in the FA Cup tie against Arsenal, Carrick was back to his old self again has he kept stringing pin point passes that left defenses helpless. Fletcher again impressed and is really repaying the gaffer’s faith in him. This is also the first time I have watched the Newcastle side in full, Keegan should have stayed retired because what he has on his hand is no small tasks. He doesn’t have the players to mount a serious challenge for the top half of the league especially with the dreadful, and to an extent comical, defense. I’m sure Keegan realizes what he has signed up for but do the fans at St. Jame’s Park?

Update – Wenger Retracts Taylor Statement [BBC]

Hapless Eagles

The African Nations Cup going on in Ghana has shown the world, especially Nigerians, that there’s nothing “super” about the Super Eagles. Before the start of Nigeria’s run in tournament I told my cousins that Nigeria will struggle and that I wasn’t really expecting much from them. The look of shock which ran across their faces at my mere insinuation that the Super Eagles would struggle one would have thought I had said something blasphemous against God. They then proceeded to call me a sell-out and started to cheer on Nigeria in their first match against Ivory Coast. Now we’re two games into the Nations Cup (a draw and a loss) and we don’t have control of our destiny in the tournament. Instead we have to pray that the Ivory Coast’s Team B can beat a strong Mali side…well that’s if we can beat Benin in our final group game.The trouble with Nigeria’s Super Eagles is one that have been in full display during the friendlies – a non existent midfield, the long ball, and players not knowing their roles.

The long-ball is an European thing, we don’t play that, we play African football, one that is heavily dependent on the quality of the midfield players and ball possession. Begti Vogts seems to have ignored this and has been trying to imprint the European style of football into their Nigerian players’ heads and for some odd reason they seem very inept when it comes to executing it (I find this rather hilarious when you consider that more than half of our players play in European top flight leagues). On the pitch what we get is a side seeming to forget their assigned roles whilst roaming around the pitch aimlessly.

All blame shouldn’t be heaped solely the players, some have to be assigned to the coach. Begti Vogts hasn’t grasped the fact that the long ball tactic isn’t working and worse off it isn’t utilizing the full potential of his side. Also he continues to put players out of their natural positions or off their comfort zones i.e. playing Mikel as an attacking midfielder when he’s better been a defensive midfielder or asking Kanu to attack from deep when he’s better up front along side a fellow striker or playing Martins wide left when he’s better in the striker or lone-striker role. Here’s the damning thing for Mr. Vogts, all these were evident during this friendlies yet he hasn’t corrected them…even worse some of the players he is fielding during the tournament weren’t part of his friendlies run of matches.

Whatever the end result is for Nigeria in this tournament so rethinking needs to be done by Begti Vogts but that’s if he survives the axe of the Nigeria FA.

Happy New Year!

No Miracle At Wembley

McClownMy biggest problem with McClaren, outside of his tactical ineptitude, is that he expects things to just fall in place for him. Be damned with coming up with a plan of achieving your goal, shit will happen on its own. Maybe we should blame Israel for such misplaced beliefs held by McClaren because in all honesty they had no business defeating Russia and handing England an undeserved lifeline to Euro 2008 qualification. Watching England play today against Croatia I was left believing that McClaren had brainwashed the lads with his belief also. The first 45mins of the match England played like the result would just happen for them, that the star would align magically and Croatia would tremble at the sight of the mighty Three Lions. The goals would just keep on coming and when the final whistle was blown the jubilant English masses would storm the pitch lifting McClaren whilst hailing him as the saviour of English football. But being the bitch that reality is a crucial blow was dealt to McClaren’s lofty dreams when Croatia went one up within nine minutes from kick-off.

Through out the match, except a brief stretch in the second half, England lacked creativity. There was no structure to their play with player roaming around aimlessly on the pitch. Today’s football is all about building an attack from the midfield with skillful passes or dynamic interplay while linking up with forwards via through balls or passes from both flanks. This well known form of attacking football seems to have been lost to McClaren because he continues to utilize the wretched 5-4-1 formation with long ball hoofing. I mean who still wins Championships with that and it remotely entertaining? To make things worse on the side he gives players caps that he shouldn’t have. What was he thinking giving Scott Carson his first full competitive cap with so much at stake? I felt sorry Barry who has been a shinning light in England midfield looked hapless today. Instructed to play deep he looked no match to the speedy Croatia midfield and with his fellow midfielders wandering up front Barry looked overwhelmed with his role. Why McClaren thought the pairing of Lampard and Gerrard will magically work today is beyond me but maybe he thought the star will align and they’d magically start clicking. To go on about the flaws exhibited by McClaren tactical ineptitude would just drive me bonkers but the final result was just deserved. No way would I have been pleased sending that laughable lot to Switzerland/Austria especially with their display against Croatia.

Now maybe the FA can take a deep hard look at itself, understand that it’s greed is crippling the English game and right the wayward ship that is the Three Lions. Oh yeah, FIRE McCLAREN while your at it.