Friday, 17 August 2012

RVP and Arsenal’s bitter divorce.

First off, if you were looking for an RVP bashing, you’re looking in the wrong place. The guy has acted as a bit of a weasel but I don’t think you and I would act differently in the circumstances. If you were offered a job in different company, to do less work (read, not having to shoulder your team’s goal-scoring burden), earn twice as much and have better benefits (read trophies),  you’d take it. It’s human nature.

Arsenal fans are some of the most passionate soccer fans I have ever met but most of the time they are quite delusional. In this era of super clubs like Chelsea, Man City and the Spanish giants, Arsenal were never going to win a trophy of substance. Van Persie knows it, Wenger knows it and so does the whole non-delusional world. So RVP did what he had to do but Arsenal’s fans anger is misdirected. I think the Arsenal board, and Arsene Wenger should take the blame for this mess.

 [PHOTOS] Robin Van Persies first training session with Manchester United
The joke is definitely on Wenger

The Arsenal management seems to be the opposite of their fans. All they care about is making money. That’s why they are so proud of finishing third every season and qualifying for the Champions’ League. That’s why they don’t care that the club hasn’t won a trophy in seven years. And that’s why they didn’t let RVP rot in the reserves rather than selling him to a perennial rival, as any decent board would have done. Then again, it seems Arsenal don’t consider the Manchester clubs as rivals anymore because the Gunners have become something of an academy for them; and the Manchester clubs don’t consider third place finishes as achievements.

Anyone remember when Gabriel Heinze wanted to leave Manchester United for Liverpool? Sir Alex Ferguson said, in very polite terms, that such a thing would happen over his dead body. Whenever Sir Alex sells his best players, he always sells them to foreign clubs. You can’t make your rivals stronger and hope to compete with them. It’s the art of war 101. How Wenger can allow such nonsense to happen season after season is testament to the fact that he should be a talent scout rather than a manager? In all honesty, I don’t think Fergie would sell a Rooney or a Nani to Arsenal even if they offered the ridiculous buy-out fees that FC Porto puts in their players contracts. He can sell them Silvestre though.

Arsene Wenger has been shown for the punk that he is and I don’t think this will be the end of him being punked. He always trusts that his players will repay him for making them superstars and they turn around on him in heartbeat. But like a woman who keeps getting cheated on and apologised to, he never learns. He always thinks things will be different this time. Why does he let players reach the last year of their contracts before begging them to stay? Why not re-negotiate with two or three years left on the contract? In this way, the players wouldn't have any leverage to make the club and their mentor look spineless.

Monday, 13 August 2012

6 Lessons from the Community shield.

I know we aren’t supposed to read a lot into friendlies but however meaningless, there’s a couple of things that one could glean from Manchester City’s 3-2 defeat of Chelsea yesterday. For those who live under a rock, Chelsea took the lead through a rejuvenated Fernando Torres goal before Branislav Ivanovic went for an early shower. City replied with goals from Yaya Toure, a slim Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri. Ryan Bertrand scored his first Chelsea senior goal but it was too little too late. Anyway, this is what I took from the game.

1.       David Luiz is still calamitous.

A whole year and half in England hasn’t helped David Luiz reign in his Latin recklessness and full blooded nature. Gary Neville’s ‘he plays like he’s controlled by a 10 year old on PS’ was a bit harsh but one can see where he is coming from. His positional sense is atrocious at times and he gets these moments of delusion where he thinks he’s a forward. Maybe his hair makes him think he is Carlos Valderamma...

Having the hair doesn't make you a forward David.

One particular instance in the match summed up how much of a walking time bomb Luiz can be; Carlos Tevez received the ball just inside the Chelsea box and Luiz just ran into him and bawled him over. With Tevez on the turf, but still in some sort of control of ball, Luiz proceeded to kick out at his mid-section TWICE!! Tevez stood up and retook possession of the ball. Luiz then went on to tug at his arm. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was a friendly and Ivanovic had already been sent off, the referee would have had no choice but to send him off.

2.       Fernando Torres is back, sort of.

The confidence is back. The swagger is back. He even made a couple of direct runs at City’s defense. Though he didn’t get much change out Vincent Kompany (then again, who ever does?), he looked a bit like the striker who terrorized Premier league defenders two years ago. If Chelsea is going to be successful this season, they are going to need Torres to be on that kind of form for most of the season. If this doesn’t happen, one of Edinson Cavani, Hulk or Radamel Falcao will be London residents soon.

3.       Yaya Toure is a beast.

This isn’t something I noticed from that match but it has to be said. Yaya Toure is now the most complete midfielder in world football. He has the strength, the pace, the vision, the technique, defensive awareness, versatility, goal scoring ability… You name it, he’s got it. Why Arsene Wenger had him on trial and declined to sign him is mind boggling. Why Guardiola found him surplus to requirements is also intriguiging.

Yaya Toure is one of those sportsmen who is almost a freak of nature. Like a LeBron, or a Bolt. Large human beings are generally supposed to be slow and immobile. They aren’t supposed to be the most mobile players on the park. Toure played the 2009 Champions’ League final against Man Utd, in the centre of defense and I never once saw him being troubled for pace by any United play including Rooney.

4.       Mancini is overrated.

Since no one will say it, here goes; Mancini is not a good manager. I guess it’s a harsh thing to say about a man who just won the English Premier league, and won three Scudetti with Inter. We all know, at Inter he was playing in a one league team because of Calcciopoli. Last season, with the most star studded team in Europe, he won the title in the last seconds of the season. The fact that United were minutes away from the title despite having their weakest team in the Premiership era speaks volumes. His management of the Tevez, Kolo Toure and Balotelli situations also shows a lack of resolve.

 In four seasons or so of playing in the Champions League, Mancini’s teams have never progressed beyond the quarter final stage. I rest my case. I guess his ideal job, after City, would be to coach Celtic now that Rangers doesn’t exist anymore.

5.       CFC defense needs to improve.

For a team that used to hang their hats on defense, Chelsea’s defensive lapses are worrying. I know people think Chelsea won the Champions League due to defensive doggedness but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If the woodwork was counted as part of the defense, then I’d agree. Also, Messi and Robben missing penalties isn’t because of good defending. I think Chelsea won because the footballing gods decided to even things out after the misfortunes of Moscow, Tom Henning Ovrebo, the ‘ghost goal’ at Anfield etc.

Chelsea’s defending is acceptable at best but calamitous at worst. It could be the nocturnal activity or all the booing but John Terry has lost his legs. His coolest trick nowadays is to retreat, in the face of attack, to the goal line and hope to make a heroic clearance. David Luiz is a calamity as we already covered. Gary Cahill hasn’t settled in and Ivanovic is rash at times(see yesterday’s red card, suspension from the CL final etc). The only dependable man in defense is Ashley Cole and he isn’t getting younger. This is an area that Chelsea need to address if last season’s heights are to ever be reached again.

6.       Argentine telepathy at City.

From yesterday’s match, and the entire pre-season, I have noticed that Sergio Aguerro and Carlos Tevez have a telepathic understanding that could cause many a Premiership defense headaches. Tevez is looking trimmer and more hungry. Kun has always been a handful. Together, they’ll score goals for fun this season. This partnership has the makings of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. Mancini is going to have a hard time getting playing time for Mario Balotelli. Knowing Roberto’s aforementioned man-management skills, a sulking Balotelli will deliver many laughs over the season. As for why City wanted to buy RVP, I reckon they think soccer is a 15 man sport.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to register your fantasy teams. Enjoy the new season.