Thursday, June 28, 2007
In other news (well, Real Madrid news) the team fired coach Fabio Capello less than two weeks after winning la Liga. Gutsy movie, I guess. Capello wins wherever he goes, but I was just as frustrated with him as everyone else at the mid-year when the team was playing so poorly. I guess this just highlights the fact that at Real Madrid the perception is just as important as the football, and when the crowds started to get down on Capello and his "boring" game, nothing could save him. We'll see how the fifth coach in five years does for the boys in white. David, you may have left just in time.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
A couple of quick hits on a sunny Monday morning….
- Pretty much everyone agrees that yesterday’s Gold Cup final was spectacular.
Mexicoplayed very appealing, attacking football the entire game, but the ’ strong second-half surge won them the cup. United States ’s goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez played wonderfully in net (it could have been 4-1) and Landon Donavan played a brilliant, brilliant game. He passed it beautifully, especially in the second half. It was fun to watch on television, and it must have been a blast to be there in Mexico in person. Chicago
- Now I’m really looking forward to the Copa America, which begins in a few days. Like everyone else, I’m excited about seeing the big names on the
team and seeing if they can go all the way. I am also pleased to see that Robinho will get the opportunity to be the fulcrum of the Brazilian attack; he is still one of my favorite players. Hopefully the Argentina can advance to the second round, but they are bringing a VERY young squad. We shall see. U.S.
- Here is a very sad photograph of Thierry Henry. I did not enjoy seeing this photo this morning. Only a French football player, incidentally, could get away with searing a cardigan and still be considered really cool. Good for you, TH.
- Finally, here is an interesting article from the Boston Globe celebrating the rising attendance at New England Revolution matches. Why didn’t that goon reporter interview the Football Fan-atic? Because I always keep it real…
Saturday, June 23, 2007
It’s a sad day for Arsenal and English football. Henry was a great player, a good guy and the face of his franchise. Some players, whether you like them or not, just belong at their clubs. Stephen Gerrard, for instance, belongs at Liverpool, whether you like him or not. Same for Paulo Maldini at AC Milan or Raul at Real Madrid. Even after they lose it (as Raul has) some guys just belong at certain clubs. I’m sorry to see Henry go.
And as much as I like Thierry, I’m not to happy about him going to Barcelona, where he will play my Real Madrid club at least twice a year. If Barca keeps the rest of their team together (which is a big IF) they will have Henry and Eto’o at forwards with Ronaldinho and Messi on the wings. That, simply, is the best attacking team on the face of the earth. Both Eto’o and Ronaldinho may still go, but it will be interesting to see what happens. In the meantime, goodbye, Thierry. Thanks for the memories.
Friday, June 22, 2007
It’s been an interesting week for American international football. Last night the
I don’t want to look too far ahead when we’ve got such a great game coming, up, but Sport’s Illustrated’s Grant Whal had a nice piece this week that mentioned some of the men who will be playing for Argentina next week against the U.S. in the opening match of the Copa America. Just a few of the Argentineans who will be suiting up in the powder blue stripes to play against the Americans: Lionel Messi, Hernán Crespo, Carlos Tévez, Javier Mascherano, Juan Román Riquelme, Fernando Gago, Diego Milito and Pablo Aimar. Now that, my friends, will be a fun game to watch. It starts Thursday.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Two interesting little pieces from Sports Illustrated’s soccer page this week: the first is Jonah Freedman’s always fun (and always controversial) Football Power Rankings. This week it is not so controversial (since it is based on trophies won) but still fun.
The second piece is Gabriele Marcotti’s opinion piece on why there has been so little transfer activity so far. I think he makes a few fair points, but I also think he may have shot his load a bit too early; I think we will still see some big names move before the window closes, regardless of the obstacles involved.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Phil Ball is one of the best writers in the world writing about football in the English language. His coverage of la Liga is superb. Frankly, I like his stuff so much I would read his column if it was about fly-fishing in
These last two columns are a wrap-up of the Spanish season and an “all-star” team of la Liga players. Both are a lot of fun. Have a good summer, Mr. Ball. We’ll see you in September.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Since I live in the U.S., I have the luxury of supporting a number of clubs around the world. Aside from my hometown New England Revolution, I like Fiorentina in Italy, Sheffield United in England and Real Madrid in Spain. Of course, it was nearly a very dry season. Sheffield was relegated (virtually assuring I will not see them on television for all of next year) while Fiorentina had to fight for its life after a huge points deduction. Real Madrid, meanwhile, started the season with some hope before nearly collapsing around the holidays due to infighting, out-of-control egos, poor coaching and even poorer play. On January 7, I tried a new gimmick column where I “graded” every player on the team after a particularly frustrating loss. I didn’t keep up with the idea because this is a general interest football page and not one dedicated solely to Real Madrid. But today I want to talk about the blancos a little more, looking forward to next season in celebration of the great victory they have achieved this weekend. Below are seven questions every Real fan needs to ask as they finally head into the silly season.
What’s Capello Going to Do?
Head Coach Fabio Capello had a strange year. He began the season with great promise and expensive new signings. He loaded up even more during the winter break. But the first half of the year was a disaster; winnable games were lost and even wins were completed in a grim and boring style. There was serious talk of the great coach being fired around Christmas. After the holidays he benched David Beckham, a move he himself later judged to be among the worst decisions of his career. (This week he said Beckham was one of the greatest players he has ever coached.)
On the plus side, Capello eventually reinstated the former English skipper and the club went on an unprecedented winning streak that culminated in the league title, Real’s first in four years. By the end of the season Real was virtually spotting the opposition a goal every time then coming back with two or three of their own. Capello got the boys to believe in what they were doing, and by admitting and correcting his own mistakes, he saved the season. Should he be brought back? Yes? Will he? I don’t know; no one is even sure if he wants to come back at this point.
Why would Real
Wait, that was Raul. He just played the entire season like a homeless man who had never seen a football before, alternating between being terrible and being invisible. Capello’s hard-man coaching style did not extend to Raul, probably the only sacred cow left in Real’s stable. Will they put up with another year of this for the fans or finally get some help for van Nistleroy? Stay tuned…
Who will replace Beckham?
David Beckham, along with Rudd van Nistleroy, was Real’s best player and arguably one of the five or six best players in all of
What’s the future of Robinho?
Robinho, at times, looks like he has the potential to be the best player in the world. And I love how he attacks, attacks, attacks. But he was given a major chance to start a bunch of games at the tail end of the season and didn’t produce like his fans had hoped. Like Christiano Ronaldo, he needs to move from the pretty stepovers to finishing, and he needs to do it soon. There are rumors he may be sold this summer; if not, he probably has one more chance to prove himself, and I sure hope he does.
How fast is Cannavaro going to high-tail it back to
Presumably, very fast. As I said in my January 7 column, there has probably never been a worse reining player of the year than Fabio Cannavaro, who has had some nice moments but generally has looked startlingly slow as opponents have continuously blown by him for easy goals. Cannavaro was more comfortable in defensive-minded
What will Real do on the transfer market?
Most of the news involves Kaka, with a smattering of stories about Henry. Obviously, either one would look great in the white shirt, but someone would need to explain to me why AC Milan/Arsenal would sell either one. Regardless,
Am I looking forward to my vacation for Ray Hudson?
In a word: yes. Like a kid looking forward to Christmas.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
Go USA. Go Real Madrid.
1:00pm Canada vs Guatemala GolTv
4:00pm USA vs Panama FSC, GolTv
6:30pm New England Revolution vs Columbus Crew FSC
11:00am Bilbao vs Levante GolTv
3:00pm Real Madrid vs Mallorca GolTv
3:00pm Mexico vs Costa Rica FSC
Thursday, June 14, 2007
On Tuesday, June 12, my buddy and I took in the gold cup double-header in
Probably the most fun aspect of the games was not the play, however, but the fans. This was my first international tournament, and it was a pleasure to see the various peoples come out in their national colors and support their teams. It seemed to my eyes that the
Matches held at Gillette stadium are usually quiet affairs involving ten or eleven thousand people; it often seems even less than that because the stadium is so big. It was good to see a big, enthusiastic crowd there on Tuesday, and I am looking forward to the triple-header on Saturday. On top of a Revs game we also get
I'll have more later today on the Gold Cup.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Well, it was an all-around fun weekend these past few days for the football fan. There was some great football and some fun moments. I’ll wrap things up this week with a few quick hits that can get you caught up on anything you missed.
1). There was a PHENOMONAL weekend of football in
2). Staying in
However, they made the ridiculous decision to try this triple split screen at times, which did nothing but make all three games unwatchable unless you had a mega-big screen. Further, because of the split screen nonsense, I missed one of the van Nistleroy goals. Bah. On top of all this, they used the same announcer for the Barca game that they did for the Real game, and he called the game as if it was live even though all the viewers well knew that he had just watched the damn game while calling Real. That’s bad enough, but to top it off the announcer was the unfathomably bad Ray Hudson. All of that is bad.
3). One more weird note from
All along, I had hoped Beckham stayed in
4). Finally, the
Friday, June 8, 2007
Also keep an eye out for the second US group match in the Gold Cup (they beat a feisty Guatemala team last night, thanks to the efforts of once and future New England Revolution players) as well as the usual slate of MLS games. Hope you all have a good weekend.
3:00pm Zaragoza vs Real Madrid GolTv
5:00pm Barcelona vs Espanyol GolTv
5:00pm USA vs Trinidad FSC
7:00pm Mallorca vs Sevilla GolTv
8:30pm Chicago Fire vs CD Chivas FSC
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
The above quotation from Roy Keane’s autobiography tells you everything you need to know about this fantastic book. First, it has deservedly earned the reputation of the being the best, most honest autobiography ever written by a player still in the game. (Keane has since retired and become a very successful manager with Sunderland.) Every line makes you feel like you are living Keane’s VERY intense life right beside him. Secondly, the book is incredibly funny, just as the quote above can’t help but make you laugh. Finally, and sadly, Keane intense life largely makes him unlovable; as you can tell from the quote above, he was often an incredible jerk.
Roy Keane played center midfield for Manchester United for more than a decade. During that time they had a remarkable run of success, winning multiple premierships trophies, FA Cups and a European Championship. There were flashier player at United during the decade (Eric Cantona, David Beckham, and Ryan Giggs, just to name a few) but none worked harder or more intensely than Keane. By anchoring the midfield he allowed the scorers of United to go forward and win so many critical games by wide margins (4-1 seemed an average premiership victory at Old Trafford in the 1990s). Along the way Keane becomes disgusted by, well, nearly everyone for their lack of commitment to the cause. No one is as hungry as him; no one will take the game as seriously. The only two people to escape serious criticism in the book are United gaffer Alex Ferguson (perhaps the only man as intense and committed as Keane) and Keane’s saintly wife Theresa. God bless her.
Keane obviously loves United and most of the players who played there (with the exception being Peter Schmeichel), but he eventually decided they became too soft and complacent after winning the Treble in 1999. Keane saves his harshest criticisms, however, for the Irish national team, which he persuasively argues did not take itself or any of the tournaments it entered seriously, always taking a “just glad to be here” attitude. It was an attitude that disgusted Keane, and he eventually and famously left the Irish national team on the eve of the 2002 World Cup.
Keane personally comes off at times as a very unlikable man. He’s critical of almost everyone he meets, and openly states that no one (except Alex Ferguson) cares as much about football as he does. He constantly bitches about things that would make a regular person gag, such as carrying his own luggage through an airport or having to sit in coach on airline flights. (Poor baby.) It’s a bizarre thing to (constantly) complain about, seeing as he makes a point of describing how he grew up relatively poor in Ireland.
Still, this is a remarkable book. Reading it, one is given an idea of how football really is, how it is a business, and how sometimes its employees don’t care as much as they probably should. It gives you a glimpse into the life of a truly great player, and what things are like in the clubhouse, on the pitch, and on the street. Keane (and his co-author Dunphy, who has done a remarkable job) deserve all the credit in the world for writing this truly honest, engaging book. It has well earned its title as one of the best football autobiographies ever written.
In other Spanish/Real Madrid news, it looks like old friend Roberto Carlos will be playing in Turkey next year. Turkey!?! C'mon, Roberto! Come to the MLS! It's wine, women, and song over here! Plus, the plane ride to Rio is a hell of a lot shorter. I would love to see you playing a half-assed left back for the New York Red Bulls or something. Next contract, come here! Hopefully you can play until you're 45....
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Monday, June 4, 2007
This weekend I attended the grim 0-0 draw between New England and
If New England looked bad,
Below find a good article by Kevin Palmer on why Steve McClaren will likely be shitcanned if he doesn’t lead his squad to a convincing victory against
Friday, June 1, 2007
2:30pm Latvia vs Spain FSC
2:45pm Belgium vs Portugal Setanta PPV
3:00pm France vs Ukraine Setanta
8:00pm USA vs China ESPN2
10:00pm Los Angeles Galaxy vs. DC United FSC
3:00pm Colon vs Boca Juniors FSC