Wednesday, May 25, 2005

And Liverpool win the Champions League

In the most improbable of stories, Liverpool FC have come from 3-0 down to win their first European crown in 21 years.

What a match of 2 halves and 2 goalkeepers. Same team in both halves, Liverpool, and same goalkeeper, Jerzey Dudek that made about 5 major errors in the game yet came thru in the penalty shootout (with a samba like leg shaking dance as the shooter approached, I would imagine to throw off the shooter) with 2 great saves.

This was one of the most amazing turn arounds I've ever seen, and in a Champions League final? That's special.

Milan, amazing in the first half, fell to pieces and the rest is history, a historic win for FC Liverpool on many levels. Read my last 3 posts and see for yourself the amazing turn around in 120 minutes.

I all but wrote Liverpool off, but great coaching by Rafael Benitez, a great turnaround by Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Luis Garcia led the sensational events.

Of mention also, Sammi Hyypia was fantastic in defense, the three Milan goals despite him.

Congratulations Liverpool on a win which could go down in their history as their greatest ever victory.

In 15 minutes Liverpool score 3 goals and are tied -- Champions League

In a stunning 15 minutes Liverpool score 3 goals and are tied with AC Milan in the Champions League final.

This is an unbelievable final.

Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso have arrived. Alonso converted a penalty.

Liverpool 2 - Milan 3, Gerrard scores Champions League final - 2nd Half

Steven Gerrard has established himself in style with a great header for a goal.

Nice to see a game......

And as I write this Vladimir Smicer scores a second!!!

2-3 -- we have a game.

Liverpool 0 - Milan 3, Champions League final - halftime

Milan have established themselves in the final and at 3-0, it's now an immense task for Liverpool.

Make no mistake, AC Milan have clearly been the better side.

The first half saw a howler by Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek in the first minute of the game. From that point the midfield was gaping wide open as Liverpool searched and searched. It was a good shot by scorer Paolo Maldini.

Unfortunately Liverpool's chip passes and long balls are having no effect. Possession is being sqandered by the English side and captian Steven Gerrard looks overcome by the moment.

For their part Milan has brought 45 minutes of their best. Kaka, so fast on the ball, has been magnificent. He made the most sensational pass to shred the Liverpool defense and set up a classic goal from Hernan Crespo, who got a second as well.

The Liverpool defense is unestablished, the midfield too far forward in search of goals and the ever innefective Milan Baros is just that. Time to give Cisse a chance.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ashley Cole demands triple salary from Arsenal

So Ashley Cole would like to get a transfer it seems. It’s clear thru Arsenal’s history that they are not willing to splash out the kind of money he requests, therefore it should be clear what he really wants: out.

Cole, a product of Arsenal’s youth system, is not indispensable. If you look at all the great players on that Arsenal squad, and the fact that they can buy quality at that spot, says that it is time to let Cole leave. As a person, he may also want something different, he has been at Arsenal longer than most players stay at a club.
Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has revealed Ashley Cole wanted to see his salary tripled as a condition of staying at Highbury.
"If you take someone like Ashley Cole, he has another two years to go," Hill-Wood told the Evening Standard. "He wanted something like three times what we are paying him. We said we can't do that."

Sporting Lisbon fall apart, manager stinks

Last night, the UEFA Cup was definitely lost by the better team (of players).

But it was also lost by the more arrogant team, and a team who's manager has no feel.

There is a penchant in Portuguese football to “hot-dog” once a lead is achieved. I saw it once with my own eyes at the Olympics when the USA played Portugal. Portugal, then just like last night in the Cup final, started to showboat the ball around the pitch as if it was time to take a break from the game and play pass around. Inevitably, when you ignore your game your focus goes and Portugal, both in 1996 and last night, got one scored back on them. Last night though, they got more than they bargained for and lost in an embarrassing whopper, home stadium and everything.

CSKA Moscow were awful, they were totally outclassed at the foot, and only maintained an advantage in the air because they were taller. For 60 minutes Moscow held the ball for 3 passes maybe 6 times, believe it or not. Think I’m kidding; it was 15-3 in corners, a clear sign of a team that can’t hold the ball.

CSKA looked overwhelmed early; Sporting Lisbon started the game perfectly. Focus, teamwork, intent, it was all there. The reward eventually came with a superb goal by Rogerio. Sporting was 1-0 up and flew into the break.

The second half seemed to start off well also for Lisbon. Then came the rope-a-dope football as Sporting unnecessarily pushed forward (Tellio the worst offender, on numerous occasions abandoning his left back spot altogether, man, once he even ended up in the right strikers spot, no kidding!), all up 1-0 mind you.

The rest is history. CSKA train every day folks, and with the shooting gallery looks they had? Much lesser teams would have converted more. Lisbon bit the hand that fed them: they played Mourinho style football for 60 minutes.

Why do I keep mentioning 60 minutes? That’s when I felt that Sporting needed something new on the pitch to distract Moscow, who had slowly clawed back into the match.

On 66 minutes it was over. The height advantage paid off. Goal from CSKA. Why the manager didn’t change earlier baffles me, and his substitutions were awful. Jose Peseiro’s management of Sporting Lisbon was a travesty. He couldn’t see when his team ran out of ideas and make a move.

A 66th min goal from the head? And at Porto Mourinho used to substitute for height at the end of games.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ferguson and Keane play Manchester United politics

Look at this photo of Roy Keane and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson together, cut off the sports clothes and past on a suit, geez, they look like a couple of junior members of Parliament kissing the hand of their new boss to me:

Mismanagement at Newcastle sees yet another exit

Newcastle United did not take the option on a second year for striker Patrick Kluivert. The club may be the ones not taking up the option, but it’s their fault he wasn’t what they wanted.

They didn’t play Patrick Kluivert, and that is Newcastle’s fault. Newcastle played Craig Bellamy, Laurent Robert, and a variety of other troublemakers instead of a classy and unselfish striker.

Newcastle didn’t give a good quality player (a Bergkamp like player) a chance to adapt to a new league.

He’s stated he plans to return to Spain. I very rarely am an apologist for a player, but this time Newcastle is wrong and I suspect you’ll see Kluivert do quite well again upon returning to Spain.

Done deal: Van Bommel to Barcelona

Going in opposite directions thru Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven, 28-year-old Dutch international Mark Van Bommel has signed a three-year contract with Barcelona, unbelievably, on a Bosman free transfer. At the beginning of the season Philip Cocu joined PSV after a spate of years at the Nou Camp.

Van Bommel is the 17th Dutch player in recent history to join Barcelona. He is following Johan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman, Ronald and Frank de Boer, Edgar Davids, Giovanni van Bronkhorst and Phillip Cocu to a club which was called “Ajax-Barcelona” for a time in the 90’s.

Van Bommel will add strength and durability to Barcelona and will give better support to Ronaldinho and Deco going forward.

How often are you going to get your very own Frank Lampard on a free transfer?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Feeling Glazed over?

Well I am.

And I’m not even a Man United fan. I like to watch them but I hold no more affinity than say Arsenal, AC Milan or Real Madrid. They all have alot of talent, and thats what counts.

So for a guy like me to be angry that Manchester United has been sold to a profit maker should mean much more to lifelong supporters. And, the game I like to watch has just gotten more expensive, and a certain American fat cat richer because of it.

The deal was done in secret, because if news leaked it was close there would have been action. So that says something. The former Irish stakeholders that sold kept their mouths shut also. They are just as guilty in this garbage pail deal for people like me and you.

So, as in the world at large, the powerful get what they want and we are again left at the mercy of their good will. It’s a bit too much. This feeling of helplessness and smallness takes over, and all of us who take an interest in such things are all feeing the same way.

Manchester United is sold, and because of that, it’s sold. It’s sold in a soulless sense, in a loss of meaning.

Because what Malcolm Glazer, your new cash cow milker, doesn’t bring mystique, just higher prices. See there is a big difference between an owner that loves the game and one that has never been to one: if someone like Alex Ferguson (if he had the dough) bought the club there would be celebration.

Why would a player linked with Manchester United go to Russia?

Nuno Maniche, of Portuguese club FC Porto has been transferred along with teammate Francisco Costinha to Dinamo Moscow for a combined 20 million Euro fee (16 + 4).

So, from Man U:

timesonline.co.uk (last paragraph)

To Russia?


Portugal international midfielders Maniche and Costinha will leave Porto for Dinamo Moscow on 1 July in a massive coup for the Russian club.”

I’m stunned. Why would a player of such quality, both in fact, accept such a move?

I don’t have anything against Russia mind you, but it’s not exactly where the top players in the world go these days. So why would Maniche, who scored the best goal of Euro 2004, pack his bags for Moscow?