Monday, 30 June, 2008

7 reasons why Man U don' need Ron to don the number 7

(Disclaimer: Some people may feel that this is a Chi chi intha pazham pulikudhe(chi chi this fruit tastes sour) type of raving, but do remember that this is only my own take on the transfer drama which has been unfolding the past few days)

When I first saw Cristiano Ronaldo a few years back, I was amazed by his skill. As the seasons went by, Ronaldo matured into one of the most lethal attacking winger in the world,under the tutelage of Sir Fergie. And for his performances for Manchester United, he deserves all the accolades he gets and may even win the Fifa World Player of the year. But of late, this transfer saga has cast a big doubt. Will Ronaldo step on to the field wearing the famed no.7 of Man United? With all the hype surrounding his future, I have a bigger question.
Do Manchester United really need Ronaldo? After a lot of thought I have arrived at 7 reasons why I don't think they really do.

1. Loyalty or in this case,the lack of it:
Ronaldo is today one of the best players in the world largely because of Sir Alex and Manchester United. Had the wise old man not taken the precocious kid under his wing,he might have been yet another one of those "immense talent but didn't materialize" footballers. But Ronaldo seems to have forgotten what the club has given him and doesnt give the plight of the fans a 2nd thought.

2. Sell when you're winning:
Manchester United may well cash in on the Golden Goose when the market price for the winger is so over-the-ceiling. With that kind of cash rolling in, United can go a long way in bolstering their squad for next season(Speaking in a purely Business sense.)

a.Unsportsmanly Conduct:

Yes I do have the Rooney sending off incident in mind. I don't want to elaborate more on this :|

b.Simulation-Has diving/stuntman as an alternate career option:
How often have we seen this 6-foot something lad tumble down so dramatically that he could
give some of the Hollywood stuntmen a run for their money. And he has indeed won many decisions in his favour,though referees are more cautious these days :P

This video showcases Ronaldo at his err.. best :P

4. Too selfish:
Though his layoff in the recent Portugal may lead you to think otherwise. But as the old dictum goes, Once a selfish B*****d always a selfish B*****d. And yes, this also includes his monetary reasons for seeking greener (pun intended) pastures at Real.

5.Not leadership material:
Recently he's been handed the captaincy bands of both Portugal and Man United. But is he really captaincy material? I think not. He does cut a sorry figure indeed when things are not going for him, with his theatrical dives, dissent towards the officials, wringing of hands and my favorite, the ronaldo-nauseamixedwithconstipation-expression which he sports ever so admirably.

6. Risk of making United a 1-channel team:
Ok let me start off by saying that this is not the case often, but in the future it's quite likely to happen(if the greedy boy decides to stick on,of course). As was the case with Thierry Henry in his last few matches at Arsenal, very often, you see united players passing to Ronaldo expecting something to materialise.But in the grand scheme of things, they run the risk of being too predictable, as in cut off ronaldo and United are dead. But United, of course have proved this wrong many an occassion. I am only saying that this is a risk, in the future.

7.Last but not the least, The Case of the Missing Ronaldo in Big match situations:
When was the last time you remember a standout performance by Ronaldo in a really important match? I certainly don't remember. He does enjoy toying with defenders who donot have the experience or skill to cope with him(I do admit,there are many such defenders bamboozled by Ronnie). But when faced with real quality, Ronaldo is as ineffective as a sub from the 3rd division(ok very harsh,but his performances are really pathetic). He couldn't do anything against the likes of Zambrotta of Barca in the Champions League semifinal nor could he outwit the pacey Ashley Cole of Chelsea in the final(Though his goal was excellent). Even in the Euro, Ronaldo failed to make a mark, as Portugal went down against the Germans despite initial promise.

All said and done, let me not take anything away from Ronaldo's achievement of 31 Premier league goals in a season, and that, as a midfielder. He is a fantastic player and a treat to watch, but I really think that Manchester United Fans and Alex Ferguson deserve better. He also must keep in mind the flop transfers of the past- Owen among many others Henry, who struggled to adapt to a new team and a new league.Ronaldo has quality but there is a long way to go before he becomes a truly complete player. I may have written this post criticising him, but it is with a heavy heart that I will see him leave United,but does he care one bit that fans around the world will be feeling the same way? The answer will be known soon enough, as I don't see Sir Alex letting this nonsense continue for much longer......

A round up of Euro,top moments,team of the tournament

Before the Euro 2008 kicked into pulsating action, there were quite a few incidents making headlines, most prominently, the absence of the so-called powerhouse England (people tend to forget that it has been 42 years since England won a tournament, their only Trophy so far) and veteran legends being left out of the squad(yes,Raul Gonzalez is the person in question). But once the actual event kicked off, all critics were silenced. Euro 2008 has indeed been the best international tournament I have witnessed so far(have been following intl football since 2000).
While the stadia where the matches took place were by no means up to the standard of an Anfield or an Old Trafford, this tournament broke all barriers,literally, with the rival fans sitting next to each other. Friendship between opposing teams and fans alike,has been taken to a whole new level. Except for that (very apt) chant the Germans had for Ronaldo, crowd behavior was excellent throughout. The onfield discipline was also pretty good. Referees had been given strict instructions to keep players focussed on the game rather than speaking their mind to the referee and his assistance, and they have indeed lived up to that. Not many errors were made.

Now coming to the football... Euro 2004 saw a very resilient Greek team,high on team spirit, walk away with the trophy, but it was a very dull tournament indeed. But this year was a diagonal opposite. With the Dutch,Portugese and eventual champions Spain lighting up the group stages with some of the best attacking football one has seen in a while, the quarterfinals came alight when Germany and Portugal fought a tactical battle,with Germany coming out on top. Italy and Spain played the dullest game of the tournament which ended in a penalty shootout which,surprise surprise, Spain won :D . But let us not forget the heroic displays of Turkey and the flair of the Russians. While turkey seemed to get a kick from behind everytime the opposition nets a goal, and then manage to somehow stage a remarkable 12th hour comeback, the Russians were beating the high flying dutch at their own game(you can find a detailed description of their showing here).
At the end of it all, Germany, Turkey, Russia and Spain managed to stand tall.

The semifinals were entertaining too. While Turkey tried with all their might, Germany managed to do just about enough to go through to their 2nd final in the last 4 tournaments(they do get around,dont they). In the other semi, the Russians, were outclassed by the Spaniards,who seemed hell bent on breaking off from the choker tag,which has hogged them for some 4 decades. It was heartbreak for the high flying Russians under Guus Hiddink, but greener pastures lie ahead. In the end, probably the best 2 teams managed to enter the finals.

The finals of Euro 2008 has been one of the most exciting end-to-end matches of football one has seen. Spain created chance after chance after chance, seeming content only to walk the ball into goal,much like Arsenal of the BPL. Germany too,were threatening,but never really came close to threatening St.Iker in the Spanish goal. At the 33rd minute, Torres showed everyone why he is currently the best striker in the world, as he managed to out wrestle Mertesaker and out-run Lahm to chip it above the advancing Lehman into the German goal. I tell you, only Torres could have done something like this. While his teammate Villa has been featuring in most of the headlines so far,it was Torres,who was causing the most trouble for defenders and creating chances for his strike partner(who unfortunately missed out) with his blistering pace and amazing strength.He is one guy who never goes down in a tackle too easily(unlike the Ronaldos of the world). And Cesc Fabregas has been one of the players of the tournament. With his fantastic footballing brain and immaculate passing, the talismanic arsenal playmaker can create gilt edged chances out of absolutely nothing, and it was fitting that he got a start in the finals. Marcos Senna has been the rock in the spanish midfield, plugging the holes left by his more attacking team mates. While Bastian Schweinsteiger,Germany's player of the tournament,Klose,Podolski and Ballack were trying hard to find a way past Casillas, time was running out. Gomez,who has been a huge disappointment, and Kuranyi came on, but it was only Joachim Low throwing everything short of a Kitchen sink at the Spanish goal. When the final whistle broke the electric atmosphere at the Ernst Happel stadium,it was Euphoria for Spain,heartbreak for the Germans. Finally, finally after years and years of underperforming and underachieving, la Furia Roja came out on top. A well deserved victory indeed.

Well,Here is my team of the tournament.

The substitutes would include Marcos Senna, Podolski, Lahm, Semi Senturk, Igor Akinfeev, Carlos Puyol,Sergio Ramos, Ballack, Zyryanov and Pavlyuchenko.Some of the inclusions may raise eyebrows,but kindly remember that this is just my opinion.

I would like to share with you guys,what I feel,are my top 6 Euro 08 moments:

6. David Villa's hat trick: It really set the ball rolling for the Spaniards
5. Nihat's near-death winner curling past Petr Cech: Goes to show, it ain't over till the fat lady sings(this is a favorite expression of one of my friends. Mass, you reading this? :P)
4. The Dutch trample all over the world champions Italy, putting up a fantastic display of Total football
3.Cesc Fabregas getting the winning penalty: To me,Cesc has been the star of the Spanish midfield,along with David Silva
2.Russia giving the Dutch a taste of their own medicine: The night belonged to Arshavin and the rest of the spirited Russian team led by the Golden Guus. My favourite game. :D
1. Iker Casillas holding aloft the (New)Henry Delauney Trophy: The elation on his face conveyed more meaning,more joy than a thousand words......

Friday, 27 June, 2008

The flying ... err Russians?

I wanted to post this before the Spain-Russia semifinal @ Euro 2008. But what the heck.. I'll post it all the same. Well the stage was set,for the Dutch to clinch a place in the semifinals,after having put on a display of attacking football of the most lethal kind. Not so long ago, the flying Dutchmen beat the world champions Italy down to their knees and the other world cup finalist France was also pleading the Dutch to stop the merciless onslaught, by the likes of the extremely talented Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie. So it is only logical to think that we were in for another showing of class from the Dutchmen against the Russians,who after the return of Andrei Arshavin in the last group match, were also playing a little enterprising football of their own. But how different it turned out to be!

Right from kick off, it was the Russians who showed more hunger and they were consistently winning the ball in midfield and were making very telling passes,while the Dutch attacks seemed to crumble as soon as they started. A Yuri Zhirkov free kick was well saved by Van der Saar. Zhirkov has been one of the revelations of the tournament. While everyone was expecting the likes of Van Der Vaart and Van Persie and Robben to be flying along the wings,it was the Russian full backs- Zhirkov and Anyukov who lit up the wings with frequent surges into the Dutch half. Zhirkov has arguably been the best fullback of a tournament which features the likes of Philip Lahm and Sergio Ramos.

But the player of the night was Andrei Arshavin, the man who ensured Zenit St.Petersberg left Manchester with the UEFA cup,taking it to Russia for the 2nd straight year, was in formidable touch. After destroying Sweden with his inventive passes and incisive runs, Arshavin was orchestrating the Russian attack. The Dutch simply had no answer to this display of total football. Zhirkov was gettin on the ball in attacking areas,and the centre half Kolodin never thought twice about taking a whack at Van der saar s goal, as he sent 2 shots in quick succession,not too far away from the goal. Pavlyuchenko who has been one of the strikers of the tournament, sent out a signal to the scouts from all major European clubs, when he netted a 54th minute goal,off a cross from captain Semak.

On a night when people were expecting Van Nistelrooy to display some of his legendary poaching abilities, Kolodin reigned supreme, displaying a masterful demonstration of the art of Man-Marking, never giving the dutchman more than a few inches of space. Van the man,who can score from any angle, gave Akinfeev something to do, but the young Russian goalie was never really troubled. Every player wearing a Russian jersey was getting in on the act. Bilyaletdinov also had a good game. Saenko too worked hard in the midfield. The Dutch had their moments too, especially with Van Persie on the field,but it was just not their day. On the other end of the pitch, Pavlyuchenko came very close to his 4th as he struck the crossbar with a fierce drive.

Just when all of us were getting ready to go to sleep, Van Nistelrooy proved his class, heading in a Wes Sneijder free kick,which was the only way the dutch could have scored. But the Russians were not beaten yet. They seemed to find inexhaustible energy resources, as they dug in and closed off the match in extra time, with goals from Dimitri torbinski and the instrumental Andrei Arshavin who managed to slip one past Van der saar. The Dutch hope was over as Van Basten's men were sent packing after an amazing display of football, as it was the Russians who served up some almost Samba-like magic football.

But the Flying-Russians were brought crashing down to earth by Spain and their One touch wizardry. After an even 1st half, it was Spain Vs Akinfeev. As Guus Hiddink had pointed out, the Russians were handling the 2 strikers well, but when Fabregas came on for Villa, the tables turned. The Russians seemed to have run out of steam after 2 fantastic performances,as they were outclassed by Spain in the 2nd half. Akinfeev tried his best,indeed he has been one of the better keepers of the tournament(please overlook the fact that he let in 7 goals from Spain :P). As the match drew to a close and Spain had finally managed to shake of the "Choker tag" after not progressing beyond the quarter finals of a major tournament on 6 previous occassions, there were celebrations all around, as the boys from Iberia were dancing with joy and waiting for a chance to have a go at the Germans.

But please spare a thought for the amazing Russians, who have shown the world that a tournament can be extremely entertaining even without the overrated English, as some unkind souls expressed that the Russians were here at the expense of the English who had "more quality" according to them. But after such fine displays against the Swedes and the Dutch, the Russians have indeed lit up a fantastic tournament, proving that if you dare to dream, you can soar beyond your wildest imaginations. Thank you Russia.........

Sunday, 22 June, 2008

Something I wanted to post a while back- A tribute to Nadal

This is an unfinished article which I wanted to publish a while back,but never got around to doing so. I thought this would serve as a reminder to me that I should post regularly. Hope you enjoy this one.....

Ever heard the story of the bully who arm wrestled fourth graders and threatened to eat them for dinner?That is how one can describe Rafa Nadal's brutal tennis.I started writing this blog fresh from the Nadal-Hewitt french open clash.Nadal simply bulldozed the stylish Australian in the first two sets and had yet another French open victory in his kitty,despite facing some typical Hewittian resilience. The Aussie fought his heart out in the third set but the damage had already been done.Hewitt was sent packing after the round of 16 for the second straight year and at the hands of the same opponent.And this is a guy who has featured in the ATP top 10 consistently over the past few years.

18 nil. That’s how Nadal’s record reads,on the clay of Roland Garros.The muscular Mallorcan lad made history when he held aloft,the trophy,two years ago as a 19 year old.Since then, Nadal s dominance on clay has grown to such an extent that he seemed to literally own every tournament he played on the slow red surface.But all great things must come to an end.And end,it did, fittingly at the hands of another great,Roger Federer, who seemed to have finally solved the riddle that was Nadal, or are we speculating too soon? We’ ll know the answer when the French Open culminates in the inevitable final between the two giants of contemporary tennis.

But the Nadal machine is not perfect as yet. His first serve is nothing to be proud of. His approach play and volleying are not the sharpest. But Nadal more than compensates for these minor flaws, thanks to his powerhouse forehand and that wicked two fisted backhand. He can place the ball seemingly anywhere on the court, to suit his whims and fancies. And he has a lot of mental strength and aggression, which are characteristic to his game style.

Atleast this time

Long long ago, a spectacle toting boy,eager to conquer the world wide web with his fantastic blogs, set out on his mission. But he experienced serious impediments in the process, having to cope with conflicting academic schedules at school and recurring bouts of laziness. Now, the child is grown,but the dream is not gone yet. Incase you hadn't guessed,that boy is me(I love flash backs :D). So here I am hopin to continue where I left off... or rather, keep leaving off on many previous occasions(I was embarrassed about the state of my previous blogs that I didnt care to list them here :P). This time, I have promised myself to keep updating the blog as frequently as possible. You will find all sorts of stuff rangin from my favourite past times which include quizzing,music and sports to stuff I had written previously but never found time to post and half finished articles, to other stuff which make enough of an impression on me to document them. Your comments are welcome. I sure hope that I do maintain this blog,atleast this time..........

Until the next post, this is Deepak sayin Good bye