Category Archives: Opinion

Is the Prem Getting Weaker?

Recent results have shown that the English Premier League is going to have one heck of a climatic finish.  The season has been a roller coaster, with no team looking strong, especially from the “big teams” like Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United.  Fans of the league, like myself, see this as a positive, seeing that every team is now getting better and better (all except West Ham United).  But it really begs the question: are the lower teams getting stronger, or are the big boys getting weaker?

Why would I believe the big boys are getting weaker?  Look at Chelsea.  Due to their lackluster buying over the past few years, Chelsea has forgotten about their youth team.  The first team for Chelsea is getting older, and with age comes frequent injuries when playing sports.  John Terry can’t keep playing through pain for the next couple years, and we are already seeing Frank Lampard having difficulties with his injuries.  There is no real successor for those two players in their youth team, at least none that is brought to my knowledge.  Manchester United will have fewer problems so long as SAF is in charge, but even he can’t seem to figure out the team’s away form.  Although they have not lost yet, no team can win the league by drawing as many times (7) as they have already.  Arsenal is getting stronger, but they lack maturity even after so many years of hype.  They also lack a true leader, and Vermalean is that guy, but he has been out for two months with one of the most threatening injuries (Achilles).

However, let’s give credit where credit is due.  Bolton is by far the best and most improved team in the league.  They are creeping up without anyone noticing.  They are sitting in 4th of the table due to goal differential.  They are red hot, all in part to the team’s togetherness and from a group of players.  Any team that deserves any praise is this team.  West Brom and Blackpool are playing great football as well.  And Blackburn is looking very tricky.  Birmingham showed great togetherness to beat Chelsea yesterday.  And Newcastle, although very up-and-down, will be staying up and challenging other teams for more years to come.

But I ask you all: what do you think?  Is the league getting stronger, or is it getting weaker?  Does this say anything about the talent in England, or the need to spend more on international players to make teams stronger?


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Ivory Coast v Portugal Review

After watching the match today between two teams who are looking to try to become that second team to move on past the group stage with Brazil, it became clear to me just how one of these teams can advance. I also was able to make some key distinctions about the two teams, so first I will start with Portugal:

Cristiano Ronaldo is NOT a captain

The first thing that I recognized is that Portugal needs a new captain, someone like Deco or Ricardo Carvalho. Ronaldo, for one thing, is ruining the sport by flopping like he has just been shot by a sniper. He falls too easily and whines like a little school girl. Don’t get me wrong, he is of such great talent, but he doesn’t utilize it when he starts to get frustrated. His only bright spot was hit screamer that hit the post, but other than that he was of no factor. The sad part is, is that without him trying to make some impact on the game, the team starts to struggle. Yes he is the driving force of the team, but a captain should not carry himself in the manner in which he is carrying himself as (diving, whining, trying to get the players on the other team yellow cards, etc.).

No Simao?

The absence of Simao Sabrosa was a huge shock, due to his great year at Atletico Madrid and his stellar performance in the World Cup qualifiers for Portugal. When he came on the field, he made an immediate impact on Portugal (however it was spoiled thanks to the introduction of Didier Drogba for the Ivory Coast). Whether there was locker room issues, or whether he was to be used as a super sub to begin with, or whether if Danny did better in training before the match, whatever the case may be, Simao was hugely missed in the first half.

For the Ivory Coast:



Gervinho was probably the best player on the field on either side. He was a constant threat and used his pace and skill to abuse the Portugal defense. Him being substituted at the end of the match must be to keep him fresh for the next match, as I can’t think of any other reason. While Drogba was out, Gervinho was the one to step up, and the 23 year old certainly did. Be sure to look out for Gervinho during the two matches, because if the Ivory Coast is to score whether Drogba is on or off the field, it will be provided or assisted by Gervinho.

Early Crosses/More in the Box

It was clear that the Ivory Coast was the most dangerous during the match, but if I was Sven, I would be very upset with the lack of crosses in the box. While it is fine to try to beat an opponent a few times, it is unacceptable, and sometimes unnecessary, to try to beat the whole team by yourself. Salomon Kalou is one of the players that comes to mind. Many times he could have either passed it off or put the ball in the box, but instead he opted to try and dribble his way into the box. Early crosses was lacking in the side, but that also could have been because there was, most of the time, only two players in the box to receive the cross.

The last thing for the Ivory Coast is simple: shoot the ball. Too many times the Ivory Coast had opportunities to shoot the ball from far out, but instead they tried to dribble the ball in the box. I believe I only say Yaya Toure and Kalou try to shoot the ball from outside the 18. That’s easy for any defense, so some things are needed to be changed.

While I know this was the first game, it is clear that these teams are the only other team to advance with Brazil (sorry North Korea, although they did do very well today).

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Tim Tebow: Probably Not the Broncos Savior

How awkward are Tim Tebow’s new mechanics?  Every time I see a clip of him throwing, it looks like he is thinking, “Don’t bring the ball low.  Don’t bring the ball low.”  I’d be shocked if he made a significant contribution to the Broncos, or any other NFL team for that matter.  I tend to believe that a natural style of throwing, running, shooting, jumping, etc., rarely should be completely overhauled, as it was in the case of Tebow.  If a player displays these extremely awkward tendencies, unless they are otherwise phenomenal, they, simply put, just don’t quite have “it.” Continue reading

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Terry out as captain of England

ESPN Soccernet has reported that John Terry has been stripped of his captaincy for England by Fabio Capello, the FA said.  Terry has been

John Terry

hammered by the English media following a report that he had an affair with the then-girlfriend of Wayne Bridge during the time Bridge was Terry’s teammate at Chelsea.  Personally, I hate to see this happen to someone who worked so hard for his team and country and having to go through the struggles he has had to go through over the past couple of weeks.  However, Terry is a man of pride and commitment towards his club and country, so I can bet that he will come back strong and continue to show his desire to play.  Hopefully people can forgive him; but if they cannot forgive him, at least don’t take away his commitment to England, because he IS the rock of that defense.  Much like how Tiger has fallen in the States, I hope that Terry will not be viewed like this in England.  Although I am an Arsenal fan, I am also a football fan, so I have no doubt that Terry will come back and continue to lay it all on the line for his club and country.  Let’s just all leave his personal matters aside and let him and his family figure it out.

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CAF bans Togo for 2 editions of ACN

In a sick and twisted turn of events following the attack on the Togo Men’s National Team’s bus, CAF, Confederations of African Football, has banned Togo for 2 editions of the African Cup of Nations (ACN) for pulling out of the tournament.  It is a disgusting decision in terms of respect and understanding, for how can this footballing government body make such a rash and irresponsible decision?  Shock has been one major word to describe this decision, along with disgusted and astonishment.  According to ESPN Soccernet, families and close members to the deaths of the teammates and the Togo team are launching an appeal against the CAF, and rightfully so.  It is a disgrace by CAF, especially on a continent that needs understanding.  But as much as I would love to understand this decision, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around it.

Togo national team was attacked in early January

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Where Did All The Money Go??

Caught wind of a recent article in The Guardian, an English print media, talking about the amount of money being lost in the Premiership and how so many players are overpaid and then under produce. I thought a couple of their examples were pretty interesting and what some would consider to be the closest thing to legal robbery by the players. Take Portsmouth for example, who cannot even play its squad on time now due to money problems well here might be part of the reason for that. In July of 2007 Portsmouth put out around £7million ($14million) for a player by the name of John Utaka from French club Rennes (Carlos Bocanegra’s club). Since joining he has only scored seven goals in 31 appearances and takes a check home every week totaling £80,000 (160,000). See, robbery. This is a major problem in soccer right now, teams shelling out money for players that haven’t proved themselves and then the clubs finances go down the tube. Hopefully clubs around the world can use this as an example so it doesn’t happen again.

A rare moment, John Utaka earning his wages

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City of Blues

At the start of the season, Mark Hughes knew that anything below Europa League qualification would be deemed a failure with all the cash that was used to get the needed players.  What he didn’t expect was that he would be relieved of his duties almost halfway through the season.  On Saturday, after beating Sunderland 4-3, Mark Hughes’ contract with Manchester City was terminated, and Roberto Mancini was appointed for the job.  While the billionaire owners would say that Hughes was failing the expectations set before the season, Hughes was actually doing a pretty darn good job, as City sit 6th in the table with a game in hand.  However, it would appear that the large amount of draws did him in, where any one of those could have been wins.  Yes, his team played great against Chelsea and Arsenal, and they even played great against Manchester United despite the loss, but their struggles against weaker opponents, giving up weak goals (during this week they conceded a total of 9 goals), ultimately made the rich owners believe that Hughes was not fit for the job.

Mark Hughes waving goodbye to Manchester City

There is no doubt that Hughes will get another job, for he is a fantastic manager.  What the problem now is how Manchester City goes from here.  Mancini was a great manager for Inter Milan over the past few years before Jose came along, but the problem is that the BPL is a totally different league than the Seria A.  He does not have world-class players, only players who have huge egos.  What the owners did here was that by bringing Mancini in before the January Transfer Window will allow him to find out what players have what it takes to play under his style and what players need to go.  He will need to work on his English though, but that is not the main problem.  But the speculation and all the talk must wait until after Mancini’s first game, for only then will everyone know the outcome of the coming weeks at Man City.

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