Monday, March 23, 2009

Hate is better than nothing I reckon

Did Neill flop? I did not see the play due to internet connectivity issues and have not seen it even referenced anyplace else. I stumbled across it on Chris Flanagan's blog at the Lancanshire Telegraph. I am not really sure how I got there. I was clicking on a series of West Ham related links and ended up there. The best part is all the comments this guy gets on his blog. They are almost all negative. People are actually taking the time to write in and complain, even while bemoaning the fact they are wasting their time in doing so. Now, that is effective internet writing. I am sure the advertisers on his page are happy with the reaction.

Anyway, did Neil do a floparoo?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Timing is . . . Everything

In the grand scheme of American sports, there is no bigger event than the Super Bowl. Even non-football fans have their interest piqued by the build-up and non-stop advertisements and promotions. You can not buy a bag of chips in the two weeks leading up to the game that do not have an NFL logo on them. Second to the Super Bowl has to be the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, or March Madness as it is also known. All over the States today, work productivity will be greatly diminished as millions of fanatics and casual fans fill out their brackets and throw five, ten, or twenty bucks into a pool. It is inescapable. I even pay the fee for my two assistants to enter our building pool. They don't watch a night of basketball a year usually, but, at tournament time, they are glued to the results. The field is 64 teams which play a single elimination tournament over three weekends. Win six games and you are deemed national champion. Lose once, go home and think of next year. Much like the FA Cup, David has to play Goliath on occasion. This tournament is seeded though, so the better teams usually avoid each other for the first few rounds. Today, tiny Radford will play mighty North Carolina-Chapel Hill, multi-time National Champion and former stop of Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and Phil Ford. UNC-CH will probably be playing without their best player, Ty Lawson. He is expected to miss the first two rounds with a toe injury and hoped to return in time for the Sweet Sixteen. Will his absence be enough to let Radford sneak away with a victory? Not a chance, but at least they have a shot. If you get the chance, try to catch a few games. Be sure to study the kid's faces. While it is just a game to most of us, to them, it is deadly serious business.

Why talk of basketball on a soccer blog? Well, the MLS has decided to start their season today with the New York Red Bulls playing at the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders are the newest team in the league and may signify the start of something grand. They sold 22,000.00 season tickets and cut off sales to ensure there would be single game seats available. That may not sound like much to a big-club soccer fan, but in a city with an NFL and Major League Baseball franchise, not to mention a large University with a rabid following, I think it is pretty impressive. I have always wanted to live in Seattle, and a viable MLS club would make it even more attractive. To start your season when every casual sport's fans eye is going to be on the NCAA tournament is just silly. Who is running this league and why don't they have access to a computer to look at schedules for things that might conflict with the opening of a season that is vitally important. Hey MLS! I have a computer and can help if you need it. Just send an e-mail.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There is a bright line between passionate and deranged

Paul, over at Claret and Blue in my Blood posted a link to a story of an Iraqi soccer player getting killed by a fan on the field during a match.

This story has a little more detail.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An Italian Revisited

Oh, I've been in a Willie Shakes mood lately, re-watching the Band of Brothers speech from Henry V and thinking about picking the complete works back up and try to get through some of those tales I have missed. I re-watched the Man City a day later to try to get some new insights into the new players and revisit the old and was struck with David Di Michele's play throughout the match. His play put me in mind of that other roving Italian and to paraphrase Antony, I have come to praise DDM, not to bury him.

First off, the new guys. Kovacs is easy to spot on the field with his blond mop bouncing around the pitch. Unfortunately, in the Middlesbrough match, it was often bobbing completely out of position. He worked hard to get where he was going. Then he would work a little harder to get where he actually should have been. He reminds me of current Denver Nugget, Renaldo Balkman, when he played at South Carolina. He was boundless energy, unencumbered by responsibility. Renaldo finally figured it out and has made a good pro career out of it. Kovacs made a huge leap in his second game and was much better against Man City. Relax, you've got the job.

As for Savio, he is coming on quick. He contained Bellamy's speed on a run just before the 60 minute mark and showed his offensive skill on the goal by Collison. He eats up the pitch with his speed and the power of his shot was impressive. Can we all just start sending him a few bucks a week in an attempt to keep him around for more than two or three years? It is worth a shot.

On to the old guys now. Cole was a monster for much of the match, He is able to impose his will on defenders playing with his back to the goal. Headed forward, he is still gangly looking. As long as he contains his action to a few square yards, he looks unbeatable. I assume Zola is working on expanding that circle of skill. If you have the chance, go back and watch the match at the 29 minute mark where Cole and DDM played a beautiful two man game. It was world class but for the very end, but is one of those plays they will get with more matches.

I liked DDM on the free kick and corner he took in quick succession in the first half. Both balls were in play and dangerous to City. He also had a series of very nice entry passes at the beginning of the second. On one, it took Cole getting mugged to prevent a shot. On another, Parker stepped in front of a ball intended for Collison who was in a much better position to play it. He did give one away cheaply at 69 minutes, but overall, I thought he was key in creating the opportunity for goals. he was involved in the Collison goal with a nice flick to Savio, streaking down the side. Wow, that's nice to say isn't it? A West Ham player STREAKING! The old saying is, "You can't teach speed," and Savio doesn't need the lesson. As for speed, DDM may not have the same spring he used to, but he is all over the pitch, playing 3/4 of the field and making tackles deep in WHU territory. He may run out of gas, but he gives it his all when he is out there.

The best part of the goal was the celebration. Collison didn't run off to celebrate. He found Cole and wrapped him with a hug. Cole can be a leader and it showed there. You could see the joy in his face. On the replay, I hoped you all noticed where DDM was when the ball went in to the net. After starting Savio off on his run, DDM ended up in the center of the goal, ready to pounce on any rebound. That is where he will score. He sneaks around the goal and will get a few more this year. I have no problem with Cole and DDM up front for now. I think it is the best combo WHU have, and with Savio starting to exert his will, the strikers will get a little more space to operate in the middle.