Monday, November 21, 2005

Keane to Arsenal

Think about it, since losing Vieira Arsenal have not found their "tough man" the midfielder that will anchor the midfield defense, intimidate and restart play. The young players like Flamini, Cesc et al would benefit from a motivator like Keane. Plus, Keane would be motivated now that the club that made him who he is so unceremonicaly dispatched him to the waste lands of "free agency." Keane in Arsenal red....about as doubtful as seeing Keane in the black and white strips of Juventus, lined up next to Vieira!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Keane shock!

Reading the news this morning I saw the above headline. While I never liked Keane, thought he was a thug. He did his job about as well as any midfielder in the game. He played hard defense, intimidated, and was not afraid to push his teammates. While his skills were on the decline his value to Man U were equivalent to those of Vieira for Arsenal, now both teams will be without their "tough man" captains. This will create a huge gap in Manchester United's plans. All along it was clear that Smith was playing completely out of position and it appeared he was doing so while waiting for Keane to recover from injury, now Sir Alex will need to figure out a long term plan for his midfield....does this mean the Vieira to Manchester United rumors start up again?

I can just see it now, Vieira leaves Juventus and we have to stomach him with a Red Devil's #4 jersey on and then watch Henry donning a #12 Barcelona jersey.....oh the horror....

Monday, November 14, 2005

Weekend Internationals

Thanks to TV5, I was able to watch, actually suffer through the France-Germany futball friendly. For those of you that were not able to see the friendly it ended up what to take from a lackluster match?

  1. France needs to shore up its midfield. Granted France was without Zidane and Vieira to control the midfield, and it showed. With Makelele, Dhorasso, Sagnol and Malouda in the midfield there was not rythm and more concerning no "toughness" not for lack of effort but when you look a that line up you think you are watching and undre 6 foot basketball team, maybe under 5' 5"...Makelele cannot play covering midfield, he needs to be able to roam and hunt down loose balls and clean up, but not mark players one on one. Dhorasso is a solid player but not the main maestro for a team. Malouda is solid but again needs to be allowed to run free, and Sagnol is not a midfielder but a very very talented defender. Now at the end of the match France started to look like what we expect, with the entry of Rothen in the midfield he demonstrated his ability to create and break down defenses, while Anelka and Cisse showed that their pace and ball ability cause defenses fits.
  2. In order to challenge Domench needs to come stop his experimenting with players out of position as well as leverage all the talent he has at his disposal. Gallas should be paired with Thuram in the middle (not that Boumsong is playing poorly, but Gallas is out of position and why weaken a team just to fit in players). The commentators on TV5 made a great point, why isn't Clichy playing left back for les bleus? He is playing in one of the hardest leagues in football for one of the best clubs, Arsenal. His emergence at Arsenal may make Cole expendable, so why is not with the senior French national team? He is not a young kid, hitting his stride at 22. He is a natural lefty, something Gallas is not, plays solid defense, makes strong offensive runs and has great speed. Domench then needs to ensure he has the proper muscle and talent - get tough guys like Dacourt back as well as players like Micoud to back up Zidane. Micound and Dacourt both have proved themselves at the club level both would provide more than adequent cover for Vieira and Zidane. My line up would be: Coupet - Clichy, Gallas, Thuram, Sagnol - Vieira, Makelele, Zidane, Rothen - Henry, Trezeguet. With Anelka, Cisse, Micoud, Dacourt, Boumsong, Wiltord on the bench. Two natural lefties - clichy and Rothen, a vulture goal scorer - Trezeguet, the maestro - Zidane, two rocks in the central defense - Thuram and Gallas, a solid back that has lethal crosses - Sagnol, two engines - Vieira and Makelele and a player that can score from anywhere - Henry, finally a solid dependible keeper in Coupet.
  3. Germany could be very good...or not. The first 50 minutes Germany looked like the Germany of old, playing clamp down defense, intimidating with hard tackles, and being opportunistic with attacking surges. However the last 20 minutes they looked like the team that has been plagued by defensive problems, allowing numerous breaks from Anekla, Cisse and Rothen...Germany remains a team in flux on the back 4, something that Klinsman will need to solve. The one player that I must admit I was impressed with was Ballock who controled tempo and really showed how classy he is as a midfielder.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Arsenal undefeated season remains safe

Surprise surprise, Chelsea go to Manchester United and emerge with a loss, making for a poor week for Mourinho's boys, after losing to Real Betis in the Champions League. Now before we all get excited, Chelsea remains 10 points clear of Man U and 11 points clear of Arsenal, I realize that Wigan is only 6 points behind with a game in hand but I do not think they will be in the top five come end of season (next weeks game between Wigan and Arsenal will be very revealing for both teams). I still do not think that Chelsea will be caught in the race to the Premiership. However I think there are chinks in the armor.

Mourinho has to be able to navigate this trying times and we are seeing players snipping at the manager, Robbens complaining about playing time and being substitute. If these results persist we will continue to see this, a result of having team with so many stars.

I think that Mourinho's arrogance and "desire" to win four trophies will wear on the team and cost them. Could this be the start?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Anelka back in blue!

So I read my french press this morning to find to my surprise, that Nicholas Anelka, the "enfant terrible" of French football is back in the French squad for their upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Germany. A surprise move to say the least. For those of you who have not followed this saga, Anelka has always been seen as a superstar in the making, a player with immense talent but not always the best judgement, he broke into world football when Arsene Wenger stole him from under the noses of PSG, when Anelka was an impressionable 19 year old with a world of talent. He only went on to score bushels of goals for Arsenal and in a memorable France-England friendly at Webley single handly destroyed England, scoring a brace and should have had a third for a famous 2-0 France victory. However, he has burned many bridges with many clubs, finally finding himself "exiled" to Fenebache (not to say that Fenebache or Galatassary are not world class clubs, but this is not the Premiership or La Liga).

Domenech, even when desperate for stikers, Henry hurt, Trezegeut suspended he still did not appear to remember anelka. But I like this move, it shows that Domenech is not being myopic with regards to next years world cup, he is obviously interested in bringing the best team possible to Germany. Anelka has always had a good relationship with Henry (both were in the same developement school outside of Paris), and I think that having a bunch of hungry players: Trezegeut, Henry, Anelka, Cisse, Wiltord fighting for playing time, that could spell danger for france's opponents. Now Domenech just has to manage all the egos and emtions. But the ability to put the ball in the net should not be an issue....

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mourinho with a dossier?

So now it appears that it is Mourinho with a file on Arsene....sounds a little like the Chelsea manager resembles Hoover during his days at the CIA collecting "dossiers" to keep his power poistion. Mourinho should focus on football and stop getting into a battle of words with Wenger. It has been clear from the start that Mourinho has targetted Wenger for his whitty verbal barbs, steering clear of others like Fergunson. While it makes sense, since both Chelsea and Arsenal fight for the hearts and minds of London, Mourinho once again demonstrates his petty antics.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mourinho's arrogance

So after watching Chelsea drop a 1-0 loss to Real Betis, I was struck by something that permeated the entire game: the level of arrogance exhibited by Chelsea. This coming from a team that 5 seasons ago was floundering under debt, had found some small level of success by making it to the finals of FA cups, had decent albeit old teams, played second fiddle in London behind Arsenal and Tottenham. With the arrival of Abromovich and his billions the team has been propelled into the upper stratisphere of the football world. They were a nice story a few season back pre-Morinho, but since this team has bought its way to a premiership and now has become overrun by an arrogance never seen (Manchester United teams and Arsenal teams that dominated the Premiership were never so arrogant having each other to stay grounded).

I place this blame squarely on the shoulders of that arrogant snot Mourinho. I struggle with his ability as a manager....I think that with Porto he did some amazing things, with a conhesive and talented team (Deco et al.) Winning the UEFA cup and Champions League are nothing to sneeze at. But coming to Chelsea he has demonstrated an overbearing hubris and arrogance. His stating that he wants to win 4 titles (Carling Cup, FA Cup, Premiership and Champions League) is nothing by arrogant. While we should all hope our manager, coach, GM etc has a drive to win one needs to temper that with recognition of reality. I think that he believes that he should win every time his team steps on the field, and at times I believe he manages believing that the opponent will wilt just seeing the Chelsea Blue - something both Charlton and Real Betis threw back in his face. I think this attitude has seeped down to the players. Watching the game today I saw a number of players whining Cole and Duff to name two that got yellow cards for their efforts, they seemed to whine under the guise that "Hey we are Chelsea, don't you know who we are."

Mourinho has demonstrate an ability to manage his player's egos, but only on the short term (1.5 seasons)...has he demonstrated great tactics? Not sure...Has he shown great talent evaluation? Again not sure, with Chelsea and the billions of pounds you just go out and purchase the best players on the market - Wright-Phillips, Essein etc...the other players he brought in - Ferreira and Carvalho are okay but have majoy limitations. What he has been able to do is demonstrate his arrogance and over confidence that rubs many the wrong way...I especially enjoyed his statement that they did not lose to Charlton but drew...while I enjoyed the "arrogance" of Wenger and Ferguson when they were at the height of their rivalry, Mourinho has proven that he can manage a team with unlimited resources....let see what he could do with Sunderland.....
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