I took a little break from blogging and reading after the transfer window closed as I was exhausted. One could not read an article without a sense of doom about the departures of the bulk of the team and the sure fall to lower leagues. As we all know, the only notable departure was motormouth with a number of seemingly promising arrivals. Of course, only time will tell if the little German (Ode to Top Secret) will pan out for us or some other club, or at all and if the Rooney look-a-like can get his knee in shape well enough to terrorize opposing fullbacks. For now, we have an in-form Cole, an intriguing Di Michele and a host of solid, if a bit slow, mid-field and back line players. Oh yeah, there is an England goalie as well. I have seen the word “Europe” being bandied about as the club has re-risen to striking distance of qualification. Just as December was too soon to worry about relegation, February is too soon to worry about Europe. Let us concentrate on the next four league matches and then see where we are.
I was coming back from a camping trip while the Irons were playing a solid match against Manchester United. As soon as I got the boys cleaned up and the truck unpacked, I turned on the DVR and got down to the serious business of watching. It was obvious the team had worked on the back-heel pass all week wasn’t it. There were more little flicks off Achilles in the first thirty minutes than there had been all year. It was pretty football but ultimately unproductive as the first half remained scoreless. As I watched though, I could not help but feel we were attacking them and not just sitting back trying to keep the match respectable. While there were no real threat to the goal until Berbatov tackled our man Cole in the box, there was the threat of a threat. Against the speed and skill of our opponent, it was exhilarating to watch.
As for our defense, Neill and Behrami attempted to smother Ronaldo who had been placed on the left to take advantage of their lack of speed. You think Ilunga saw Ronaldo walk to the other side to start the match and said to himself, “That’s right, I’m bad.” They kept him in check pretty well and Neill got in a good forearm shiver that sent the adams apple to the ground where he lay motionless until he realized there was nobody paying attention. It was a solid performance by those two and good coaching by all involved.
As for my main man, Ironhead Collins, his little head flick on a ball going out soon led to the Giggs goal. It can’t be complained about as he made his decision based on what he knew at the time. It is easy for me to complain, but you should tell me to stop. He is a rock and without him, we wouldn’t be speaking of Europe, but rather sweating results of those below us to make sure they aren’t rising too fast. I just want to know if walkers are legal on the pitch and how did Giggs get one with flames on the side. (it is fun to speak of those younger than me as ancient).
Middlesbrough this week and the Quarters to go after that hopefully, Then, there are a number of matches that are in the “should win” column. Eighth place is the not highest potential for this team, but as I said, it is too early to speak of that now.
I did not get a chance to see the England-Spain match but it appears the Hammers acquitted themselves well. The U.S. team had a good result against Mexico, but it was not a comfortable win as Mexico had a number of nice opportunities that could have made the match much more interesting. It is going to be fun during the run-up to 2010.