Thursday, 6 February 2014

Mid season report card.

During the pre-season, we gathered a panel of somewhat esteemed soccer pundits - Robert Muhumuza, Lumala Paul, Rodney Kayonga, Agano Kiravu and Barnabas Kalenzi- to give us some thoughts and predictions on the upcoming season; how summer transfer signings would pan out, how new managers would get on and more. Now that we're over half way through the European football season, we reckoned it would be a good time to look back on these prophecies to see who had their finger on the pulse and who needs to pull their finger out..

First, some acknowledgements;

1. Overwhelmingly spot on consensus.

Even as far back as August, our Panel predicted that David Moyes just wouldn't cut it as Fergie's successor. What we didn't know is how spectacularly he would underwhelm. He was described as a boozer, 'having the worst accent on the British Isles', being the 'Michelle in Destiny's Child' and more. Only Paul and Barnabas were sparing in their judgement of him; and that can be put down to the former being cowed after suffering years of humiliation at the hands of United - and the latter being a United fan. Overall we were pretty spot on here.

The subject of Pep Gurdiola and Bayern also brought an overwhelming consensus, with everyone agreeing that Bayern was pretty much an overwhelming force of nature that would go on to steamroller everyone with or without Pep. I must say no one fore saw the ease with which they'd crush their opponents; bar a couple of Jerome Boateng brain-farts at the Allianz Arena against City, they've been perfect!

The Panel also got Juventus' continued domination of the Serie A absolutely spot on. Then again, so would Stevie Wonder have done, in all fairness.

2. Overwhelmingly offside consensus.

Back in August, we were all so sure Wayne Rooney was on his way out of Old Trafford and off to the Bridge. How wrong we were? Whether the thug really wanted to leave; or he was leveraging for a new contract, we'll never know. What we know is that Moyes and United were so desperate they acquiesced to all his ridiculous demands and he made the club his b***h. They went short of allowing him to vet the Matchday squad! The Editor here predicted, though, that United wouldn't do 'an Arsenal' and sell him to Chelsea. That's about the only thing the Editor got right.

3. Most eerily accurate prediction.

The very verbose Agano picked Roberto Soldado to be the flop of the season and Spurs to fail to cement a Top Four slot. He didn't even pick other candidates - he was so sure; and so chillingly accurate. Is he a seer; or is did the rule of unforeseen consequences, along with his deep seated distaste for Spurs -as a Gooner- inform this decision? Either way, kudos.

 4. Most spectacularly boozer prediction

This would have to unequivocally go Rodney. He was so offside about the season's potential flops, he might as well have been punditing about another sport - supposedly an American one. I'll let him speak for himself;

"It would be between Fabregas, Thiago, Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo for Man Utd. But seriously, I'll say Llorente at Juve DEFINITELY!! Higuain might also be one not to watch. Negredo at City as well
NB:Please don't save these predictions as they might make me sit down end of season."

Notice how he used the word 'definitely'? With CAPS LOCK and everything.. 

Now for the report card:

Robert Muhumuza - B+

Got most things predictions right and was especially adamant about Moyes being the wrong man to lead United post-Fergie. He got the Cavani one wrong though. Solid punditry, if not unspectacular.

Agano Kiravu - A+

Easily the best panelist we've had on here. He got the wrong read on the Rooney situation, but so did everyone. He was unerring accurate about Luis Gustavo not moving to Arsenal, Penaldado flopping, Tevez and Llorente forming a formidable partnership; and the Suarez u-turn. Brilliant!

Lumala Paul - C+

Was a bit lukewarm on Bayern's chances of extended dominance and didn't really think Ibra's ego would accommodate Edinson Cavani  but was otherwise he was pretty on-point, especially in his Arsenal analysis. He only gets a C+ because of how shockingly he neglected to see the Moyes' shambles coming from a mile away. That can't be tolerated.

Barnabas Kalenzi - A

Solid views on the Neymar-Messi and Cavani-Ibra partnerships. Particularly impressed by his prediction that Arsenal's place at the high table wouldn't be wrestled away by Liverpool or Spurs as was popular opinion. His being a United fan gives him allowed him some latitude to be optimistic about the Moyes era. That he wasn't overly so is a plus.
(Editors note; We were not  been threatened in any way, shape or form by Mr. Barnabas Kalenzi during this review process.)

Rodney Kayonga - F 

"This is a new Rafa; he walks around with his top buttons on his shirt undone, relaxed. No homo. He can do something with this team and its kinda his last big chance. Juve will be the usual  Juve. Their only worry could be Buffon. Both teams at least UCL quarters, maybe semis if the draw is kind"

 Like the rest, he had his note worthy moments; saying correctly that Wenger is the best manager in EPL, Cavani's seamless gelling with Ibra just like in Uruguay with Suarez and Forlan, to mention a few. Then things went awry; in a show of Benitez-philia, he foresaw Napoli giving Juve a run for their money and both teams getting to the quarters or semis.

And then there was his already noted spectacular failure in predicting the Flop of the season. Just poor.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, 1 February 2014


So, it’s February 1st. No! It’s not 2 weeks to Valentines Day you cretins, it is officially the end of the January transfer window. The window where there are more threats, innuendos, soap opera plots and player borrowing than actual transfers. It’s still a spot of fun though so always we bring you yet another Top 10. This is part 2..

5. Kim Kallstrom (Spartak Moscow to Arsenal – loan)

Kim who? LOL!

This transfer made the list due to its sheer underwhwlming-ness. Arsenal fans were prepared for a dopamine high like the one they got off signing Mesut Ozil in the summer. They hoped for the German wonder kid Julian Draxler. The kid so talented he had a buy-out clause of  60m in his contract, aged 19 and has more caps for Germany than Arteta has for Spain(ok that was low). 

 Instead they got Kim Kallstrom. Kim who, you ask? Exactly. That’s a player who peaked when he played for Olympique Lyon about 5 years ago! Wenger has to be forgiven though; did we really think he’d spend about 100m in the space of six months on two Germans?! Come on now.

4. Hernanes (Lazio to Inter Milan - 20m)

Premier League fans are on some "who the hell is this?"

The first permanent transfer on this list. The Brazilian has easily been the best Lazio player of the past two seasons and despite the 20m tag, it’s hard to understand why they would sell him to Inter. But this year, I have learnt not to try not to find the logic in Serie A transfers. They are like transfers one would make in FIFA 14 Career Mode; seemingly random and at a whim.

Example; Fredy Guarin is one of Inter’s best players. Then they tried to swap him with Marco Vucinic – who can best be described as over the hill. I know Inter need a striker but that transfer is as awful as Arsenal giving up Ozil for Torres/Eto’o/Demba Ba because they need firepower.  In any case, Inter’s Ultras locked the board in at the stadium and protested until the board gave up on that fool’s errand. And they went one better and signed a very creative midfielder in Hernanes. Well done Inter Ultras.

3. Mohammed Salah (FC Basel to Chelsea - £11m)

Chelsea have been busy this January. It is though they haven’t learnt any lessons from January 2011 (*hint hint* No.9); Nemanja Matic came in for upwards of £20m and so did Troare but Salah, for me, was the headline act. Salah’s snubbing of Liverpool to join Chelsea was yet another reminder to the Merseysiders that they still have some way to go in sitting at the table of the European elite; playing Champions League football would be a good start.

Also I picked this transfer over the signing of Matic because we’re all used to Chelsea signing large, gangly central midfielders with some ability on the ball and a lot of ability at stifling opponents. What we aren’t used to is Chelsea(especially the overly pragmatic Jose Mourinho) signing a genuinely raw live wire winger. He should turn into a very good player once he polishes up his talent. Here’s to hoping Jose doesn’t break him and destroy his creative spirit

2. Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle to PSG - £19m)

Yohan Cabaye finally got his dream move after years of posturing and complaining about everything in the ‘Little Paris’ of the Premier League that is Tyneside.  And we better believe him when he says it’s a dream come true. Even true-born Tynesiders would be hard pressed to reject a move to Paris and the lure of playing alongside Zlatan, Edinson and Thiago Silva instead of Sammy Amoebi and Ryan Taylor. Champions League football doesn’t hurt either. Neither does the Ligue 1 title waiting at the end of May.

Best move ever!!!

The question now is whether Cabaye can get into PSG’s first XI. Blaise Matuidi, Thiago Motta  and Marco Veratti have been the first choice pairing for most of the season. Since Cabaye isn’t exactly a defensive midfielder, I would expect Motta’s position to be under threat. Blaise Matuidi is also a really good box to box midfielder. That leaves him fighting for a place with the impressive Italian youngster Marco Veratti. I get the feeling Cabaye’s French-ness will win out. There are also rumours of Veratti’s imminent depature to Juventus to be a long term replacement for Andrea Pirlo.

 Surely the biggest loser here is the £40m Javier Pastore who now falls further in the pecking order for the midfield berths. One thing for sure is Yohan Cabaye is the biggest winner of the January Transfer Window. Period.

1.Juan Manuel Mata Garcia (37m)

The picture most Chelsea fans can't get used to.

I guess this was pretty obvious. The largest transfer of the window. The largest transfer in the history of the self acclaimed biggest club in the world. The most high profile transfer between two of England’s Big Four since RVP. Add to this the secrecy, conjecture and acrimony that went with the transfer and you know why this transfer comes in at no.1.

Chelsea’s two time Footballer of the Year(for both full seasons he was there) has just been sold to Manchester United!!!! Chelsea fans still haven’t gotten over it. Man Utd fans are excited like a pig in sh*t. He had an assist on his debut though in all honest it was an innocuous pass to Ashley Young who did the rest.

A lot has been said about this transfer that I don’t care to repeat him and bore everyone. I’ll say this though; I don’t think Mourinho sanctioned that sale. He is too petty to let that happen. I get the feeling he got orders from above his paygrade. His job was to make it look like his own decision so as to maintain this facade of the ‘greater autonomy and power’ he was granted on his Second coming. Truth is, the oligarch still has the final say. If you don’t believe me, do you think Jose would dare put Torres up for sale?

Also, it is amazing that one of the best  attacking midfielders in the league can be frozen out of the team for ‘not doing enough defensive work’. What’s the purpose of the midfield DOUBLE pivot??  I guess that’s the brave new world of football that pragmatic non ex-footballer managers like Mourinho are beginning to enshrine. And the success of people like Mourinho is bad for football because it encourages up and coming coaches to dabble in the same foolishness. Look at how bland Jose’s protégé AVB made Spurs. What’s next in Mourinho’s plethora of idiotic dogmas? Will he sell defenders for not scoring enough goals?

Bonus ball.

The irony of Jose Mourinho claiming West Ham used 19th century tactics in their nil-all stalement at Stamford Bridge on Wednseday. Has he forgotten his ‘most beautiful 1-0 defeat’ against Barcelona in the Champions League semi 2nd leg of 2010? Or his tactics in Chelsea various battles against Barca in his first Chelsea stint? Or his tactics in the Classico battles? Or against United at OT this season, where he debuted the defensive striker position with Andre Schurle? Or at the Emirates? Need I go on? This guy is a hypocrite.

Thanks for reading


So, it’s February 1st. No! It’s not 2 weeks to Valentines Day you cretins, it is officially the end of the January transfer window. The window where there are more threats, innuendos, soap opera plots and player borrowing than actual transfers. It’s still a spot of fun though so always we bring you yet another Top 10. They're all loan moves by the way.

10. Lewis Holtby and Wilfred Zaha (loans to Fulham & Cardiff respectively)

Talk about hoping for Alicia Keys and getting Whoopi Goldberg, Lewis Holtby had hoped to move back home to Schalke. Problem is he could only move if Arsenal managed to prize Schalke’s crown jewel Julian Draxler away. Cue the rumours that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy blocked Holty’s ‘dream move’ -(I say ‘dream move’ because Schalke to Spurs was his dream move a year & a half ago)- just so eternal rivals Arsenal  couldn’t get Draxler. Handbags, right?

Who is Ryan Gosling and who's Lewis Holtby? Right?

Anyhow, Holtby had to go somewhere so he chose Fulham, where he will undoubtedly be the most handsome player at the club (John Arne Risse won't really provide competition). Apparently Naser Chadli had taken this title at Spurs.

Wilfred Zaha – the next Giggs, Christiano Ronaldo, George Best, Nani etc- meanwhile has been jettisoned on loan to Wales without being given much of a look in by David Moyes. Presumably, Wales is far enough for his teenage eyes to wander to a girl who’s not David’s daughter. Moyes will hope out of sight is out of mind. Though one has to assume the girl looks nothing like the dad otherwise Zaha has bigger problems than his stalled football career!

"hey dad. Guess who's coming to dinner.."

9. Diego (Wolfsburg to Atletico Madrid - loan)

I know what you are thinking. Which Diego? The one nicknamed the ‘White Pele’ earlier in his career? The one who, with Robinho at Santos, was touted as the future of Brazilian football? The one whom Juventus bought to bring spice to their midfield? The answer to all those questions is YES. Football’s forgotten man is moving back to Atleti where his European adventure started. If ever there was a team where he can rejuvenate his career, it is Atletico.

8.Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Southampton to Juventus – loan)

Osvaldo being restrained from yet another brain fart.

Osvaldo is the next in a long line of Italian bad boy forwards.  Joining the not so exclusive club whose current leaders are Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano. Despite having the name of a telenovela heartthrob, he showed absolutely no compassion to teammate Jose Fonte in training, smashing his face in with a resounding header butt. There was talk of Fonte picking up a brick but it was denied by all parties.

Needless to say, Osvaldo’s goonery was rewarded with a loan move to the Old Lady, presumably to sit on his arse as Tevez and Llorente bang in the goals; and get enough minutes to earn him a Serie A medal in May! So there is no such thing as karma.

7.  Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund to Bayern – free)

Well, this was the worst kept secret in European football. Those of us who are still football purists of course are pained by the fact that Bayern’s uber-capitalism strips the Bundesliga of the competitiveness and therefore drama that is witnessed in the technically inferior Premier League.  Also Lewa has had to hire bodyguards to avoid altercations with idiotic BVB  fans. I wonder if there is way a deal like (and the Goetze’s) could be kept secret until they actually moved to Bavaria.

6. Dimitar Bebatov (Fulham to Monaco - loan )

The move to the Principality should hopefully lighten up the sulky Bulgarian demeanour. Better weather, finer looking people and NO TAXES!! Berbatov has been brought to replace the injured Radamel Falcao. To summarise, a quick, strong, mobile, agile deadly finisher is being replaced by a slow-mo, sulky footballer who has a really nice first touch. Then again, it can't be that hard to hack it in a league where Pascal Cygan was once the Player of the Year.

Forgive my digressing but one can’t help but feel sorry for – and blame Radamel Falcao for his predicament; he let his agent Jorge Mendes and his partner Peter Kenyon, talk him into moving for the largest available fee (not salary mind you!) because the agency would collect 40% of the fee due to third party ownership. So he moved to a lacklustre team, in a lacklustre league, bereft of Champions League football, all at age 27!! He got injured playing for a third tier team because of Monaco's lack of depth and how much they rely on the star power of him and the likes of James Rodriguez to put away even the most mediocre of teams.

* Bonus ball *

Neymar and Rosell; shady dealings.

The Neymar saga meanwhile is keeping things in La Liga interesting seeing as there wasn’t  much in terms of movement at the only two clubs that matter in Spain. Madrid newspaper is having a field day; finding little saucy titbits to add to the overall story, tabloid style. It turns out Barca’s squeaky clean image is surely not going to be intact after this but then again; however believed it in the first place is as naive as those who believe Messi is just a humble boy from Rosario who eats his vegetables and says his prayers every night. Clubs and players set up facades for the sake of branding and all. Accept and move...

That is all for part 1. Stay tuned for Part II.. and a review of our panelists pre-season predictions.