Thursday, April 8, 2010

SAF is an A-S-S; 'Typical Germans'
send United out of Europe

Google knows all. Try this search on for size; type in "Sir Alex Ferguson, referees" and revel in the 300,000 returns about the bitch that is Manchester United's manager.

Just skim over the titles on the first couple of pages and you'll see action verbs such as "rant", "hot water", "lashes", "slams" and "questions". SAF expends an amazing amount of time and energy pointing his Scottish digits at the men in black who govern football matches. This guy's got more conspiracy theories than Fox Mulder, and his diatribes against officials is reaching David Duchovny sex-addiction levels.

Rehab anyone?

The latest tantrum came after yesterday's Champions League quarterfinals ouster at the hands of Bayern Munich. United beat the German powerhouse 3-2, but lost on away goals. Ferguson was livid about Rafael da Silva's second yellow card which left United with 10 men. The second card came on a foul against Franck Ribery and Ferguson thinks the Bayern players, who rushed referee Nicola Rizzoli, pressured the official into the second yellow.

He said post-match:

"The young boy showed a bit of inexperience, but they got him sent off, everyone sprinted towards the referee - typical Germans. They were never getting through that tie. With 11 men, we had no problem."

The "typical Germans" crack is gonna bring the heat on SAF, who also thought Rizzoli let the Bayern players hack away at Wayne Rooney's gimpy ankle without prejudice. The bigger question is why is he such a whiny douche when it comes to referees? Any time United drops points in a match, there's always a poke at the referee, a jibe at a bad card or offside call. No wonder ABU adorns many a t-shirt in England; they're difficult to like, difficult to root for, difficult to figure out.

It will be interesting to see how the FA reacts to this from the certain pressure that will come from UEFA. Michel Platini hates the big English clubs and he's likely to demand some kind of retribution.

Meanwhile, the "typical Germans'" victory ensured that for the first time in seven years, no English club will be in the Champions League semifinals.

United should have kept the streak going, if it were not for -- get ready for it -- SAF himself, who has a few questions to answer himself, such as:

  • Why start Rooney?
  • How do you blow a three-goal lead--at home to boot?
  • Why haven't you replaced Ronaldo and Tevez with big-name talent?
  • Why gamble on Berbatov being the savior?

Surely we'll have nothing more than silence coming out of Manchester. Unless forced to, SAF won't apologize to the "typical Germans". He won't apologize to his players or ManU's fans either for letting them down.

Nope. The next sound you hear from SAF will be more whining the next time a call goes against United.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

MLS Should Shut its Doors
to Europe's Aging Cast-Offs

I'm no huge MLS fan. I'm glad it's there, and I respect the fact that some clubs such as the Revolution, Seattle and Toronto have rabid supporters who care about soccer the U.S. I've been to games and they're fun. But the quality ain't there, and there's no reason to rehash the wheres and whys. A single-entity ownership system notwithstanding, MLS is just below a second-tier European league in my opinion.

They've done a decent job concentrating on player development, and aside from Team Beckham out in LA, have resisted temptation to bring in aging has-been big names who have been cast off from their European teams because they just can't hack it any more.

Some people, still, just don't get it. For example, we have this gem from Sports Illustrated's soccer editor Jen Chang.

I don't know this guy or how much he knows about football, but his latest column on the SI site is a list of 10 players MLS should target as designated players. All but one are 30 or older, and would have made one kickass all-star team about 10 years ago. MLS is expanding its rule around designated players, and teams will be able to add two or three players. Chang says this list is where MLS should concentrate its efforts; guys such as Roy Makaay, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry among others.

He summarizes the strengths of each player as testimony as to why they would fit within MLS. OK. Most of these guys have been cast off from the clubs where they made their names and are toiling in smaller leagues for, yes, smaller money. The question is why? Why hurt MLS' credibility and player development efforts but putting has-been players that no one in the US has heard of in spots that should be occupied by younger players with, you know, futures in the game?

Fernando Morientes? Please. Re-teaming Pires with Freddie Ljungberg for Arsenal-West out in Seattle? No thanks. There's little to no value of bringing these guys in. There's no emotional attachment on these shores to Omar Bravo or even Michael Ballack should he leave Chelsea for the U.S. Henry is the only name who could stir moderate interest, but the guy is still contributing for a team in the hunt for more domestic and European glory. Why would he leave for the U.S.? Just to hang out with Beckham and Tiger Woods? Doubtful.

Do we really want MLS to be the Lost island for footballers? Jen Chang's premise needs to crash and burn just like Oceanic 815 did, and just like Lost, let's make this the series finale for this notion that aging stars can close it out here in MLS. It's been done before and it ain't worked.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In Case You've Forgotten: Messi is The Best

I've written before that Lionel Messi is the best footballer in the world. And yet this week, I was ready to anoint Wayne Rooney as the next best thing and was ready to use as evidence the fact that the second Lil' Wayne is out of the United lineup, United tumbles from first and lost the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal tie with Bayern Munich.

Scratch that thought.

As great as Rooney is, and he may just win player of the year with a solid World Cup, there is no replacing Messi.

Four goals. Today. In a Champions League game. Against a competent Arsenal team.

Game over.

Messi is the best and there's no doubting it. He's the greatest of our time and least likely looking star. He's short and a little dumpy if you squint hard enough. But the guy's got game; he's got the best feet and best balance in the game, and maybe the world. No one slaloms through a defense the way he does, and no one finishes the way he does. He's perfect inside the box, with deadly precision and a deft touch.

He's turning the world on to his style and even stoic Arsene Wenger crowned him today the best on the globe, after he humiliated the Gunners with four distinct scores for a 4-1 win today, 6-3 aggregate.

Wenger told the BBC today:

"I believe we lost against a team that is better than us and that has the best player in the world. Once he's on the run, Messi is unstoppable. He's the only player who can change direction at such a pace."

Next up in the Champions League is Inter Milan and I fear for Mourinho's boys. As stingy as they are on defense, they may be no match for Leo. Leo will guide Barca into the Spanish Classico on Saturday against Real Madrid, where again, on the biggest stage, Messi will try to launch Barcelona to the La Liga title. Both teams have 77 points after 30 games, and the winner has the inside track to the championship. Messi has never failed to shine in the Classico and what's to stop him this time. He has 39 goals in all competitions and a handful of hat tricks that make him the man of the match the second he steps on the pitch; move over CR7.

Messi is the best. Rooney has elevated his game, and as good as he is, he's no Leo Messi.

No one is.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Hey MLS: Stop Americanizing Football

So columnist Steve Davis says MLS' choice of Toronto as host city for the MLS Cup final was a good, but safe choice. He'd rather see the title game be held at the higher seed's home field. How about this Steve? How about MLS get on the same page with the rest of the frikkin world and have a single table and crown the first-place team at the end of the season as champion?

Why does MLS have carte-blanche to skirt FIFA's rules, if not tradition, of making the regular season mean something. Do we need to see essentially the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th-place teams have the same shot at the title as the best team in the league after 38 games? Hell no, Steve.

Our need to Americanize sports is revolting.

I'm no fan of MLS, but I respect the players and the clubs' followings. Red Bull Arena looks amazing and the atmosphere in Toronto and Seattle is on par or better than most European clubs. The problem is that we think being bold is something like Davis' proposal to host a final at the higher seed versus at a neutral site.

How about defining bold as scrapping the meaningless playoffs and playing it out over 38 games like the rest of the world does. Football isn't America's game like baseball where America can define the rules and set the stage. America is a late-comer to the game of football and should acquiece to the same format the majority of the rest of the world follows.

The arrogance of Americanizing football is grotesque. What's next? Shootouts from 35 yards to decide tie games, err, oops, been there done that.

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