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Arsenal Away: Champions’ League Preview

It’s hard to talk about other things without getting the obvious rumour out of the way. The Guardian broke the news of United making an offer of £63m for Franck Ribery. Now before we get ahead of ourselves, let it be known that we just made an offer — assuming the story is true. (Raphael Honigstein did the exclusive, and although he’s one of the better journalists around — and among the nicer chaps based on my sources — you never know with so much time between now and the transfer window.)

All we know right now is that the club have made an offer. And that fact has been confirmed by some unnamed officials. I have only this to say: Transfers of major star names are not discreet affairs. Other parties will also be interested. An initial price is usually that — an initial price; it’s bound to go up. We are Manchester United. We always end up paying a United tax on these kind of transfers.

(You would notice, I haven’t even mentioned Ronaldo in all this. Well, I don’t think we have the funds to blow money on one player without selling one of our own of a comparable value.)

End of talk on that.

Let’s move on to what we have today.

Yes. The Champions’ League semi final against an old enemy. A rivalry that’s mellowed on all levels; be it between fans, players and even managers to more of mutual respect. Some United fans would chalk this down to a lack of challenge presented by the Gooners in recent times in the title challenge stakes. Some others would put it down to a lack of characters in either side who would be protagonists in the drama that unfolds on the stage.

But rivalry or no rivalry, United-Arsenal games have rarely disappointed in the quality of football. You’d always see both sides going for it or, at the least, one side dominating the other. What one rarely sees is a cagey match where either side is scared of losing.

That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that Ferguson might go for a safety first approach. It’s acceptable if we make good use of our counters. But if Fergie intends to play it like Camp Nou of last year, I’d be concerned. Just as we seem to be hitting the right notes as the season winds down, I’d expect a positive mentality going into today’s game. A positive mentality does not mean going hammer and tongs at the opposition, mind, but making a better than a token effort on the counter when we have possession; not dribbling our way to a corner flag.

Anyway, on the pre-match trash-talk press conference, the manager has stressed on the importance of going to the Emirates with the intent to score. Meanwhile Wenger is extremely confident of a ‘magnificent’ performance from his side. I must re-emphasise: he is extremely confident. Like he knows he’ll make it. A bit disturbing, I must say.

In their team news, van Persie is back, which is something to fear. They have a full strength squad in their attacking end (minus a cup tied Arshavin). A majority of their side has had a good week’s rest. Something we must be wary about.

We’ve had our own clutch of rested stars. The biggest boost for us is obviously the news that Rio is fit. In midfield we’ll possibly see the same line up as last time: Anderson, Fletcher, Carrick. In attack it is anyone’s guess, but Rooney and Ronaldo will occupy the left and right respectively, whilst it’s always going to be a toss up between Berbatov and Tevez. Being an away fixture it could be that Tevez’s endless running might tempt Fergie to go with him, but I’m no good at these prediction games. So I’ll let it be.

Anyway, I’m excited about today. I’m sure most of you are too. Prediction: 1-1.

Come on you reds!!! (Although we won’t be wearing red today. So I don’t mean the red team… but you know…)

580 Comments

580 Comments

  1. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 01:48

    @johnsom33: Too true mate. Barca have been exposed as a fraud and Dan has been right all along about how poor La Liga has gotten when a team like that scores 100 goals yet gets one shot on goal in a CL semi-final and in the 2nd minute of extra time. They are a joke, they are small, and cannot handle the physical game. For most of the game tonight they had both Alves and Abidal and couldn’t do shite to Chelsea who are not as good as us in the back. Those two will be missing for Barca in the final and their backups are total muppets. Add tot hat the same lineup and gameplan that was used against Arsenal (minus Fletcher) and we should give them a good footballing lesson. Rooney and Evra should be able to contain Messi and as long as Anderson Carrick, Scholes etc take away service to him and block passes to him, then we will beat them. Play them wide and really pick on their new fullbacks and we will have a field day. I’d replace Fletcher with Scholes and play the very same lineup because Barca are in many ways a slightly better version of Arsenal. Eto’o proves as useless as Adebayour when two good CB’s are watching him and I’m sorry but Terry and Alex aren’t in the same class as Rio and Vidic. Henry can be controlled by Park tracking back and O’Shea as long as the central midfielders keep him from cutting in. That leaves Xavi and Iniesta who disappear when you get to hard and close on them. Take away their passing lanes in our third and make sure they don’t get off long shots and we will beat them. A carbon copy of yesterday’s blueprint game plan for success.

  2. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 01:50

    @Traverse: You said it mate. And Ronaldo wants to go play in that shite league? I don’t think so. ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†

  3. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 01:54

    @Madschester United: I can accept no conspiracy but I can’t accept the fact that referee should be hung drawn and quartered in the parking lot of Stamford Bridge for all to see and cheer. He was a fucking disgrace.

  4. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 01:55

    @Madschester United: Drogba was limping badly mate. He had to be taken off if they were thinking of using him for the final. Also, he was gone anyway. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Madschester United

    7 May 2009 at 01:59

    @Grognard: He was a disgrace… utterly pathetic! Might have been the worst I have ever seen… but I am sure there have been worse. Seriously, he only f’ed up:
    1. Red Card to Abidal
    2. 3 CLEAR penalty calls

    That’s only 4 MAJOR mistakes… I am sure there have been worse performances, but this might rank up there as the top 3 due to it being a CL Semi-final.

  6. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 02:01

    From the SUN

    “Last night Ovrebo (THE REF) admitted to UEFA representatives at the match that he had made โ€œsignificant mistakesโ€ during the game.

    But Drogbaโ€™s behaviour is certain to trigger a UEFA probe.

    Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink defended the disgraceful reaction of his players.

    He said: โ€œI can fully understand the emotion of the game, the playersโ€™ disappointment.

    โ€œItโ€™s not just one decision made in doubt but several decisions.โ€

    Sorry but I have to agree with the “Potato” Guus on this one. Those players and that team got royally fucked over last night. Man I would have needed medical attention had that been United. And all of you who are down on Chelsea players for their behavior, I suggest you watch that game again and imagine if Chelsea were actually United. Then tell me you wouldn’t feel for their pain and understand their rage, even if it was not sporting. For me it was the referee who lack sportsmanship with his terrible management of that game.

  7. Redrich

    7 May 2009 at 02:07

    @Red Ranter: “I am happy in a way that Barca are through though, because losing to them wonโ€™t hurt as much as losing to any of the other English sides.”

    Christ RR, are you already preparing for the worst!! Frankly, the game between us and Barca will be much more interesting, and much more challenging for our “skill” players to achieve their heady goals.
    A Chelsea rematch would have been a grudge game for them, and they would have done everything possible to stifle our fluency and panache. They have really become the antidote to attacking venom, and their method of winning is, now, to strangle the life out of their victims slowly, slyly, and methodically.

    They had some bad calls tonight, and overall, they should have won that game, but I was left with the sense that justice had been served upon the men from SW6.
    I remember all the times when they’d luckily edged a game like this, relying on on their brute strength and negative tactics. Bullying the officials into submission and getting the shot on target from one of their midfielders. The script did play itself out, but this time, fate was on the side of the good guys!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Win or lose in Rome, we will have the chance to play our game and not try to circumvent theirs. The Manchester United v. Barcalona final will attract the interest of the entire footballing world and will produce the game that should eclipse the staggeringly boring battles that usually occur in cup finals.

    By the way United have a much better chance of beating Barca than they did Chelsea. ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ˜†

  8. Redrich

    7 May 2009 at 02:24

    @Grognard: This raises the question about refereeing all over again.
    It’s the only sport in the world that consistently has huge controversies surrounding its officiating ranks. Decisions made today and yesterday were not so much a question of poor judgement but pure and utter blindness.
    The blindness is not caused by the refs malfunctioning eye-balls, but from the fact he doesn’t have a spare set attached to the back of his conker!!
    I’ll say this now, as I have in the past, and will in the future, two refs are better than one and until that happens we’re gonna be seeing more and more of this blindness.

    Come on FIFA take the fucking pill, why don’t you???

  9. zhoro

    7 May 2009 at 02:33

    Grognard I f-ing hate injustice! However little I may care about Chelsea not making it to the final, I can’t stand it when that happens as a result of stupid refereeing decisions. It’s high time they started applying technology somehow to minimize the effect of refereeing errors or bias. A few months ago I saw the results of a study which showed what the the standings in the Italian league would have been had all calls been objective. It was completely different from the actual standings. Inter were somewhere in third place instead of on top. This is just ridiculous. I would feel much better about the game of football had it been possible to remove such subjective influences as wrong refereeing decisions from the determinants of success and failure.

  10. Redrich

    7 May 2009 at 02:45

    @Grognard: THe game tonight could be dubbed as Dumb versus Dumber.
    In the first leg, Barca threw everything down Chelsea’s bread basket. Chelsea has lots of big, talented men in their bread basket and consequently, it didn’t work.
    So what do they try to do in the second leg – go right back down the same dead end path.
    When they attacked from the flanks, they rarely took on and beat their defender, and more often than not, shoved it in to the Messiah, Messi, and it was just like playing into Chelsea’s hands. They love defending the center of the pitch, it’s their cathedral!

    And so, with time running out, and they have Barca down to 10 men, with maybe one shot on goal all night, they allow the absolute unforgivable, an injury time goal.

    Blame it on the ref if you like, but this was a classic “battle of the retards”. ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ™„

  11. Andrei

    7 May 2009 at 02:51

    Yea, that ref fucked up major, but Chelsea should not have been in the final anyway. They played worse than United did last year against Barca (United did not deserve to be in that final, RR).

    Anyway, here’s to hoping that both teams play to their attacking best the Wednesday after the following Wednesday because it might be one of the most beautiful games we will see. Fergie better not fuck it up again! I’d rather lose and have a spectacle than have them ‘play smart’ like Chelsea. Still, I am pretty confident.

  12. Red Ranter

    7 May 2009 at 03:18

    @Redrich: What I meant to say really was I really don’t hold any grudges whatever the result after the final. Barcelona have been a joy to watch this season, so I won’t begrudge them a victory. However, if one of the English sides were to beat us, it would be really hard to take. So Barca-United final is really a best case scenario for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 03:36

    Football is a world game unlike American football and even other sports like hockey, basketball and baseball which may be played by other countries, but where it’s only taken seriously in North America. Because it’s a world game it has adopted many worldly viewpoints, cultural baggage and bad habits. I feel the game suffer from a poor third world mentality where the underprivileged and the poverty stricken seem to have more say in the way the game is governed than those countries where affluence and prosperity reign. Therefore, defense and cowardly acts are tolerated in football like they are in the shanty towns and back streets of Rio or Calcutta. The game adopts the poor and unfortunately it adopts the negative mentality that the poor bring to the game from a sporting point of view and they adopt the worst from the powerful and rich in the fact that money too has corrupted the game.

    What I am getting at is that the world game is saturated with the needs and demands of so many diverse cultures and economic systems that the game is drowning from politics, corruption, special interest and incredible tackiness. If it’s not the antics of the players and the whining and ridiculous ranting of managers and owners it’s the incompetent and diverse methods referees use to totally destroy the game and all with FIFA’s and UEFA’s blessing.

    To find refs who do a good job these days is hard enough when they all come from different countries and each country has a different way of interpreting a foul. FIFA as a world governing body has done a pitiful and shameful job of policing the game on the pitch and in the board room. They also have allowed special interest groups and special agendas to corrupt their thinking as well as that of UEFA. Refewrees are handed rules that they must be rigid hard and intolerant to the point where the game is no longer allowed to flow like it did 20 and 30 years ago. Watch a game from 1970 or even 1980 and tell me how often you see a referee book or yellow card a player. Hardly ever. And players weren’t dropping like flies then and diving and acting up and confronting refs and acting like total ass clowns. The game had some class and players albeit seemed less passionate but showed more composure and more class and a lot more respect for their opponents.

    Unfortunately FIFA has allowed pop culture and the changes in society to meld in with the game and I might say that it is not for the better. Today we see divers, actors, clowns, malcontents and even the bizarre with their ridiculous haircuts prance on the field and entertain us. You will not see in any North American sport players with the ridiculous haircuts of a Pienaar, Sagna Valderrama etc. Oh sure some of the NFL boys today seem to like the Anderson long dreads look but players are increasingly looking more and more gay in the game we interestingly call, “the beautiful game”. I’m sorry but it just makes me sick to see the game in such awful shape.

    So what is to be done about it. Personally, if I was the FA or the English Premier League, I would call for an act of cessation. Stop abiding by the laws of these two governing bodies and go it alone. Radical and outrageous you may think, but I feel that revolution is necessary. UEFA and FIFA have gotten to big and to heavy for their own britches and they need to be cut down to size. Much like there was talk several years a go about a European Super League that would have teams from all Europe and that would secede from UEFA, I now say that it is time that certain regions of the world govern the sport on their own until FIFA recognizes their mistakes and their corrupt policies and show those regions and teams the respect they deserve and have earned.

    England and the English Premier League has been UEFA and FIFA’s whipping boy for too long. As a fan of that league, I am tired of being treated like a bitch by Septic Bladder and Michele Platini. Fuck them both to Hell. Their dislike for the English game and Manchester United sticks in my ribs like a hot poker and I honestly don’t see why United and the rest of England put up with it. Fuck them. Tell them where to stick it and leave the Federation PERIOD…..

    I think the English game would still go on and players would still come to play in England for the competition and the money. And if they were warned to not do so, then European employment laws and human rights laws would be thrown in FIFA’s and UEFA’s collective faces, and that would be that. So what if we don’t pay in the Champions League. It’s a shitty politically controlled tournament anyway and for me it has lost it’s luster years ago. Sure I love it when we win it and even more so now, because we are sticking it to the governing bodies who would wish we were dead, but it’s a corrupt and poorly organized and officiated dinosaur that needs to be terminated.

    I just don’t know why we all put up with a governing body that doesn’t do the job well. Forget the joke that is South Africa and the joke that looks to be EURO 2012, look at the rules and lack of rules in place for all their tournaments and organizations. The last straw was finding out that there is no appeal process for Darren Fletcher for his red card. If that isn’t a message to all that something is wrong and that this entity runs it’s product like Kings ran Serfs back in the Dark Ages. There is no justice with FIFA and UEFA. Archaic and almost comical rules for running a game are in place and muppets manage games on a weekly basis. Teams like Chelsea United, Arsenal and even the Scouse spend millions of pounds every year in order to compete only to have UEFA and their stone aged policies come back and slap them in the face when it’s most convenient.

    Rules for yellow and red cards have turned the games and especially special tournaments into battles of attrition. The bookies now hold bets to see who survives to play the final this year and next year. People want to see Daniel Alves, Abidal and Fletcher in the final. They wanted to see Scholes and Keane in the 1999 final and Ballack should never have been denied a chance to captain his country in the 2002 final based on yellow card infractions. The game has become a pissing contest and a game for homosexual and feminine tastes (and there is something wrong with that and fuck PC). I’m sorry but I’m a little too Alpha Male and a little too old school Canadian to tolerate footy’s yellow card and red card nonsense. Is the game played by men or little girls? Why do far harder and more physically demanding sports more manly and far dirtier and grittier sports like hockey and American football not resorting to such nonsense in their attempt to officiate their games? Because in North America the players playing the games are real men, not Iniesta or Torres looking shemales who fall down at the the slightest gust of wind and because the men running the leagues and the teams are real men who have a pair and who realize they aren’t running a little girls clubhouse and a fashion show. You see, if you treat grown men like little girls with dresses, they will play and act like little girls with dresses because lets face it, most footballers are dumb ignorant uneducated slumdogs who have been granted a chance to demonstrate their female tendencies for money. So we have the prima ballerinas and divers and actors who the majority seem to come from hot Latino or African countries who make a mockery of the game and good hard working English and Northern European kids who are brought up to play the game like men and not like babies have to tolerate this shit and a governing body that condones nonsense and punishes players who play the game right (aka Wayne Rooney). Honestly, I love the game but every year a little part of my love for it dies. How long can I go watching a game designed for the limp wristed? ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ˜• ๐Ÿ˜•

    SORRY FOR THE LONG RANT

  14. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 03:41

    @Redrich: Lets put it this way mate. If not for the ref, the goal in extra time would have been nothing more than a consolation goal much like van Persie’s penalty yesterday. The referee screwed Chelsea mightily yesterday. If I was UEFA I would have called for a replay. I’m serious. Chelsea get not one, not two, not three, but four terrible calls for no penalty and even Barca had to play half a game with Abidal in street clothes when he never did shit to deserve the red card he got. The game was a total abomination and i would have treated it like an FA Cup replay. Just call the game a mistake and set up a date for a replay due to officiating decisions that tainted the final result.

  15. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 03:45

    @Andrei: That’s such a weak argument mate. Chelsea owned Barca in both games and were the worthy winners. Whether you like them or hate them, they were royally screwed and honesty and fairness have to speak out because god knows the corrupt who run this league will not. Trust me, it takes a lot for me to sympathize with Chelsea. I’m especially saddened for my buddy Michael Ballack who once again gets screwed and who’s shot in the final seconds was handled so blatantly in front of the ref that the only conclusion one can come from such a violation of honesty and justice is, the fix was in. ๐Ÿ™„

  16. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 04:00

    @Red Ranter: I don’t know mate. Losing to Liverpool in the CL, yes that would be intolerable but Barcelona showed themselves to be true pretenders and they also showed that yes, La Liga is light years behind the Prem in quality as is Serie A and the Bundesliga.

    Barcelona play pretty champaign football when the opponent is Real Madrid or Bayern teams not known for in your face defending and physical presence. When you give them room and time on the ball yes they are magnificent. But that’s not the way the game is played in England and that is why historically, English teams have done well before the ban and in the last ten years in Europe. We initmidate and harass teams like Barca who like Arsenal play a cute, cuddly, soft and beautiful football. The problem is they have no grit or guile like the English clubs do. And that’s why we win. Their players are not like Rooney or Ronaldo, players who can handle the physical demands and harsh treatment and still manages to make the plays and not disappear. Look at Messi, Eto’o and Xavi today. They were invisible because Chelsea matched them up with physical, tall and imposing players who never gave theman inch of breathing room.

    I remember in highschool when my team was ranked the top basketball team in the city. We were fast break masters who passed and shot the ball and played very fast, creative and artful basketball. When the time came to play the Semi-Final to see who got into the city final we played a school who had big guys like me but was slow, awkward and not as good an outside shooting team like us. We thought we would kill them with our fast finesse game. Well they beat us and frustrated us all night by throwing elbows and fouling and basically physically intimidating us. I ended up with a bloody nose and had one of my worst games as a player because they got under my skin. Remind you of something we saw yesterday and tonight?
    Suffice it to say we returned the following year and not only won the city championship but won the provincial title too. But it took the addition of a couple of physical forwards and a real lesson learned about beauty vs the beast. Unless you are willing to be a bit of a beast, beauty will never win. United are a combination of beauty and beast and they will beat Barcelona. Of that I am sure. Oh it won’t be a rout and it won’t even be pretty, but we will march out that night wearing all white and we will beat the pretty boys from Spain because on our team we have men while Barcelona and their manager are nothing more than boys. Can you honestly see Pep Guardiola getting the better of Sir Alex Ferguson on a night like that? Sorry but I just can’t. So let my negativity take a break. Barring serious injuries between now and then, we will beat them and be the first team to repeat under the new format. And it will be sweet because as much as I like beautiful football, I also like substance over style. ๐Ÿ˜€ UNITED FOR LIFE AND UNITED FOR ALL!

  17. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 04:04

    UEFA stands by the Fletcher red card. Lets see if they have the same stand for the Abidal one. My God if they let Abidal play, Fergie will have a classic tirade and I honestly fear for Platini’s life on the night when he has to hand the Champions League trophy to Fergie. ๐Ÿ˜€ A shame. Fletch would have done a job on Xavi.

  18. Redrich

    7 May 2009 at 04:17

    @Grognard: My god, grog, this one must have really stretched your tolerance for injustice!!

    The ref was the “muppet-of-the-year” but I didn’t see that his decisions were based on bias or corruption, he’s from Norway for fucks sake, not Sicily!
    The game has become quicker and the players have become better at feigning injury and better at disguising the difference between a legal tackle and not. This has all evolved over the last 20 years and we’ve all watched what it’s done to the game. But the governing body has done just about jack shit to combat this.
    It’s an amazing thing to me that they haven’t used the stocks to punish offending players, after all that’s the preferred punishment set forth in the era that FIFA administrators belong in!

    It really is a pompous disregard for change that FIFA excel at. They have become the ultra-conservative republicans, dominating the worlds most popular game and trying so, so hard, not to be the ones that have to write their names in the history books.

    The reason we don’t have just judicial system for this game, is really because the people that run it, could give a royal, flying fuck.

    Revolution, my friend. Out with old and in with new!!

  19. john freakin' o'shea

    7 May 2009 at 04:31

    I’m happy we’re going to face Barcelona! This should be a cracker! Facing Chelsea will be a hard task, they’ll be really up for it! Barca have no Alves and Abidal! This should be easy for Ronny! Attack them boy ATTACK! we should win this cup for darren fucking fletcher!!!

  20. Redrich

    7 May 2009 at 04:46

    @john freakinโ€™ oโ€™shea: I agree because Chelsea would have approached the game seeking vengeance from last years loss.
    They would have done just about anything to win, and would have probably wanted to take it to penalty’s again, just to get their own back. Fuckers!!

  21. antsBoy

    7 May 2009 at 05:24

    As much as a person can hate Chelsea, anyone saying that Chelsea did not deserve to go through is OUT OF THEIR MINDS! I was supporting Barca before the match…but I didn’t have my anti-Chelsea blinders on! If ever I’ve seen such a grave injustice being dished out to a team, it HAS to be this Match. Yes, I don’t like Ballack or Drogba or Terry or most of their team, but that does not make me blind to the fact they were cheated today, fair and square.

    No Clear-cut penalties? Bullshit! Atleast two for me if not three. Like Traverse said, the Pique handball was as clear as it gets. He might as well have held the ball in his hand for a few minutes. He knew it too, you could see it from his behaviour in the post-match interview.

    Barca don’t deserve to win the CL this year, simply because they didn’t deserve to come through that semi. No doubt about it. They might rip apart opponents the entire season, but that’s no excuse for being lenient to them and saying “They deserve it”. They DON’T.

    Barca would have behaved the exact same way as the Chelsea players if this had happened to them. Seriously, if this happened to us, I wouldn’t mind Rooney giving a kung-fu kick to the ref!

  22. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 05:44

    @Redrich: Other than the governing bodies of the game being corrupt and lacking the courage to make big changes, the game has been ruined by two major factors. Players that cheat and managers who are so cowardly and utilitarian in their approach to the game, that the reason they manage is for no other reason than to keep getting a pay check and not for winning and for the beauty of the game.

    The game is allowing players to dive, act like they have been shot and parade around in an unsportsmanlike manner while also cheating in the way they play the game like shirt pulling, dirty tackling and elbowing and other violations using the arms and hands. And for the most part, they occsaionally get away with it and not much is being done to eliminate this. Why? Because the powers that be as well as the majority of managers out there live and breath by the belief that 0-0 or 1-0 is the way the game should be played.

    I have never understood this mentality that got it’s birth with Cattenaccio in Italy in the 50’s. I’ve wondered about cultures and nationalities that love to watch a sport that is boring and devout of excitement and above all, scoring. What kind of person would prefer to see their team win 1-0 rather than 5-4? Then it came to me. The reason for this mentality finally cme to me when i saw the changing face of the National Hockey League in the 1990’s. Expansion and the desire to create parity for the sake of money and fairness for all created a mentality when there were too many teams and the talent pool had been watered down. It was impossible to have great players on every team because there were too many teams.

    So what were poor teams and the league to do in order to allow the poor or bad teams to have a chance to succeed? Well the draft system helped but it was changing the game by allowing academic minded utilitarian coaches into the game who devised systems that took the fun and the beauty out of the game. They developed styles of defense like the neutral zone trap which prevented great fast attacking teams from building end to end rushes. and their other inventions really turned a wide open hard hitting and highly entertaining product into a boring, rough, dirty snooze fest where mediocre teams with limited talent but physical and defensive minded players could succeed by sucking the wind and the fire out of a game and a good team. So drudgery had become the the state of the art in the game and the game has still not recovered despite trying to make changes to open the game up. I blame the coaches and I blame the league for expanding to cities where hockey wasn’t even in season. Too many teams and not enough talent and coaches who could win with utilitarian drudgery has become the norm.

    Well what do we see in the game of football these days? Two central defensive midfielders instead of one, one striker instead of tweo or three and a midfield that is clogged with ball winners but very few artists and geniuses. You see teams play to survive relegation by parking the bus and defending with ten men behind the ball. No longer could you see the 18th place team play the leaders at home and have the guts to challenge them to a shootout like you saw in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.

    Football was fine before Italy won the 1982 World Cup. Italina football was in the Purgatory for over 20 years. Very little success and their league was not doing well and very few foreign players came to play in Serie A. In 1970 the game was going through an attacking Renaissance because of the play of Brazil in 1970 and then West Germany and Holland for the rest of the decade. Club teams like Bayern Munich and Ajax Amsterdam were the advocates of “Total Football” and total entertainment. It was all about scoring goals. Oh there was still defense but the approach was to attack with a controlled ball control continental style.

    Then Italy wins in 1982 and that win sparks a rejuvination in the Italian game and makes Italy the go to league. Leagues like the Bundesliga and the Eriedivisie which ruled Europe for 10 years started to lose their best players to Italian money. And ever since then, the best players have gone to that league and to leagues that have used their model for success. Physical, defense first football and boring product with great stars. All the great managers from Italy have spawned students who figured out that they couldn’t possibly follow the Dutch or German method of coaching because that would require tactical and technical skill and understanding. Instead the fat waiters of the world said I can be a manager too by incorporating the pragmatic, utilitarian chess like method of coaching the game that requires role playing and very little talent. The ultimate in team work. Everybody works together to prevent goals from being scored. What happened to everybody works together and players use their individual skill and imagination in order to score goals? And further more they figured out that they could coach players into performing theatrics like dives, shirt grabbing and delaying the game in order to get their desired results. It stopped being a game of football and became a play in the theater of the absurd.

    And so today we have the end product of this movement that even money and buying all the talent in the world hasn’t been able to destroy. In 1975 there was no such thing as a defensive midfielder like Roy Keane, Claude Makelele, Marco Senna or Javier Mascherano. Players like that would not even make a Bundesliga side back then because they were seen as not having any skill.

    Today skill is measured by how well a player tackles and marks an opponent, not how well he dribbles or passes or shoots. Today you see World Cups struggling to see more than one goal a game because of the systems and also because of the fact that players in todays game can’t shoot the ball worth shit. For every 40 yard Ronaldo screamer you will have 20 Anderson moon balls. Oh players a re faster and stronger but they are not more skillful overall. Why? Because coaches coach it out of them at an early age. Utilitarians don’t like dribblers, step overs and cheeky lob shots over a keeper.

    So what is the solution? What do we the fans do to get rid of these pretenders who are managing the game and who have poisoned players with negative and dirty agendas? These technocrats who have turned a game involving a player a goal and a ball into a boring board game have got to have their mojo snuffed out. Radical changes in point systems, officiating and strategy have to be incorporated in order to bring back the game that was played by two teams playing to see who would score the most goals, not who was going to allow the fewest. This is why I blame Italy and hate everything to do with Italian football. Their social pragmatic and scared way of approaching things has ruined what was once a perfect game. It’s not money that has ruined the game, it’s the rules and the managers who have been allowed to create a negative attitude in the game for nothing more than ego and self preservation. And the media and fans growing ADD and impatience for wanting results immediately or they get the sack.

    Perhaps I am boring many with this rant, but to those who love the game and think about it with a serious mind, take what i have said to heart. Trust me, I know of what i speak. ๐Ÿ˜€

  23. Andrei

    7 May 2009 at 05:46

    @Grognard: well, I wasn’t really trying to make an argument… that is just opinion there. I think that Barca were overall the more entertaining team (or at least tried to) and based on that they deserve to be in the final. I know that many fans do not share this opinion and that Chelsea were tactically superior.

    As for the ‘fixing’ claims… Barcelona had their fair reasons to be raging at the refereeing standard in both games, so I don’t see much there, but I agree with your point about FIFA being useless cunts.

    Anyway, my previous message ‘we’ve known this for 55 years’ refers to the fact that UEFA was installed in 1954. I was trying to make the claim that they have been idiots since the beginning of time. I guess the same applies for FIFA.

  24. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 05:48

    @Redrich: Justice is extinct in football. It’s all about special interest and who you know and who you blow. England and the Prem have always rocked the boat by challenging the rules that FIFA and UEFA like to administer and therefore, they are constantly ignored and forced to put up with injustice as a lesson taught to them by a petty government body hanging onto their throne by their fingernails. Changes will come. Money and powerful power brokers will not allow this crap to continue for much longer.

  25. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 05:50

    @Andrei: I wasn’t arguing with you either mate. I was just debating you. Sorry if you thought that. ๐Ÿ˜€

  26. Kartikey

    7 May 2009 at 06:00

    @antsBoy: I have to agree with you.They certainly did not deserve to go through.But I feel it is good for us that we are facing barca.The fact that they disappear as soon as the game turns a little physical as well as our great attacking options should see us win the trophy.With chelsea,the final would have been a more tense and tight affair.

    Could anyone who watches la liga on a regular basis please tell me how is Messi a better player than Ronaldo.HOW?????

    Also the reaction of the chelsea players after the game was outrageous.Whatever the refree might have done,it gives you no excuse to behave the way they did.I wonder what the reaction of the english press will be??Had it been us who had behaved that way we would have been ripped apart.

  27. Red Ranter

    7 May 2009 at 06:42

    Everyone,

    I am in the midst of a mad week, so I still don’t have time for a match report. But I realise it must be hard to for you see this page load ever so slowly. So I created a new thread and put in some gifs that must lighten the mood. ๐Ÿ˜€

  28. AndyCR7

    7 May 2009 at 06:54

    @tevez: Pique handled the ball bro. It was a clear panelty.

  29. keith

    7 May 2009 at 12:26

    Am very please with the result last night and by the way what a bunch of loosers i feel that the way that Ballack went after the ref for a penalty at the end of the game and as for drogba i feel he was out of order and UEFA should now be stepping in as if they do not i can say with 100% certainty that they hate united as look how they are treating poor Fletcher when all he done was his job and fairly played the ball away from the attacking player. Saw crybaby terry in tears again what a bunch of f—–en loosers. am now awaiting the 27 for the final which i hope we win and by the way we are playing i cannot see why we should not. Going of the topic a little here but i have a query and i hope that some one can help me and maybe the best person is CROGNARD. Tell me friend what is the word in germany in relation to frank ribery being linked to united as i know that he has said himself that he is a wanted man and will be discussing his future with his agent, i realy hope this is true but not for the sacrifice of ronaldo. will await any news from you guys.

  30. Grognard

    7 May 2009 at 17:28

    @keith: The word in Germany is mixed. The messages coming out of Bayern Munich are also mixed. It was Bayern who leaked the story of him being chased by Man Utd but certain officials from the club have also come out and said that he is not for sale, not even for 70 million. The fact and the truth is that Ribery will not be staying with Bayern and what Bayern are doing is trying to hike up the asking price. It is believed that United tabled a bid of around 30 million with them and Bayern doesn’t feel that is high enough. And although they are not obligated to sell Ribery who is still under contract, they will feel the pressure to sell him before next season as the Frenchman is clearly itching to leave. That is why Bayern are closely monitoring the situation with Diego at Werder Bremen. They are looking to battle Juventus and other clubs for his services as a replacement for Ribery. As for Ribery, I think the team he ends up with will depend on who wins the Champions League final. If I were Ribery I would want to hitch my trailer to a winner. So if the price drops to around the 30 to 35 million mark, look for United to buy him. But don’t look for United to sell Ronaldo. He’s not going anywhere and there is no way in Hell United are going to spend 63+ million to buy him. ๐Ÿ˜€

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