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Soccer/Football Around The World Thread
#36
A good point, Russ (may I call you Russ?) But I'd wager it's even more infuriating to watch your Blackburns totally capitulate against Liverpool and then play like it's the FA Cup Final against us. This is beyond the natural "just having a go/we've got nothing to lose" spirit of an underdog team. This feels like a grudge against United. Yes, a United fan would say that but it's gone on too long and happened too many times for it to be a coincidence.

I'm not wild on Newcastle either. But that's more because I don't rate Shearer as a person. And the 4-1 defeat you mentioned was a black day for football.
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#37
It's difficult to see United slipping up, especially after the momentum they gained (excluding the embarrassing Porto result) from last minute victories over Villa and Sunderland. Their remaining fixtures certainly shouldn't frighten them. But slip-ups happen, even to the best of teams.

Liverpool look very good at the moment (barring their embarrassing result against Chelsea). Torres is on fire, Mascherano is too. Gerrard should be fit forthwith. Up to the Chelsea debacle I think they were more concerned about Europe, but things may change now.

Like most fans and observers I have no time for Newcastle. Failure is its own reward. What thought process encouraged Mike Ashley to hire a manager with no experience whatsoever for a team rooted in the bottom three and with a host of difficult fixtures remaining? I can only think he's banking on some diaphanous notion of charisma or religious intervention through the son of God.
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#38
I didn't think the Porto result was embarrassing as much as infuriating, Geoff. Our passing - if you can call it that - was shocking throughout. Even worse than the home-leg against Inter, in fact. The general consensus seemed to be that the only decent performances against Porto came from Rooney and Fletcher. I'm in total agreement with you regarding Shearer, though. That's one boy I've very little time for.

It still sickens me a little how just a few weeks ago words like "imperious" and "impenetrable" were synonymous with United's defence. Now, John O'Shea's "back off, let them run at you, and take you to the line" defending style seems to be spreading.
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#39
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bobby Bear
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I didn't think the Porto result was embarrassing as much as infuriating, Geoff. Our passing - if you can call it that - was shocking throughout. Even worse than the home-leg against Inter, in fact. The general consensus seemed to be that the only decent performances against Porto came from Rooney and Fletcher. I'm in total agreement with you regarding Shearer, though. That's one boy I've very little time for.

Despite United's run of form, I still think they are missing Hargreaves. You can get by without a midfield destroyer if you've got attacking players of the calibre of Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez and Berbatov. But when it comes to the crunch games against teams with competitive midfields problems arise.
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#40
Totally right about Hargreaves. My United superfan brother said something very similar, last week.
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#41
Feel free to call me Russ, and doesn't everyone have a grudge against Utd?

You must have enjoyed Citeh's result today! I thought it was just their away performances that were diabolical but there you go.

Is Hargreaves injured? I can't remember the last time I saw him in a Utd shirt.

Ashley hiring Shearer is a joke, and so is Shearer hiring Dowie! Here's a man who continues to find work despite messing up at every club he goes to. And who else do I spot on the coaching staff there? Colin Calderwood?! The man who took Nottingham Forest to the depths of the Championship? Why, he's perfect for the job!

I do hate Newcastle but I also hate that these idiots have got well-paying jobs when they're clearly incompetent. But that incompetence will hopefully see Newcastle relegated... I'm so conflicted!
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#42
Say what you want about Shearer, but the man commands respect from his colleagues. Ashley's idiocy has shown no bounds this season, but getting in Shearer is the first good thing he's done, alongside getting rid of Dennis Wise. Shearer may not have huge experience in management (but he does have some, in assisting Glenn Roeder when he kept us up a couple of seasons ago), but 1: it's an emotional appointment, for sure, and 2: Shearer was a good enough player to be able to take that kind of appointment on, and in his stride.

I don't really understand the dislike for him (well, coming from United and Boro supporters, maybe I do!), although I think we'll still get relegated, but through no fault of his.
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#43
Quote:

Originally Posted by Russell Faraday
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Feel free to call me Russ, and doesn't everyone have a grudge against Utd?

You must have enjoyed Citeh's result today! I thought it was just their away performances that were diabolical but there you go.

Is Hargreaves injured? I can't remember the last time I saw him in a Utd shirt.

Ashley hiring Shearer is a joke, and so is Shearer hiring Dowie!

Excellent. Thanks, Russ! Yeah, we are undoubtedly loathed near and far. It just really riles me when weaker clubs fold against other other top teams, and then play well above their level against us. They often have little to no respect for us and infinitely more for Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool.

Citeh are a valuable source of amusement, yes.

He's been out for donkeys. So long he's definitely easy to forget.

Even though I don't agree with non-natives playing for countries, Dowie was a fine servant to Norn' Ireland and, as such, will always have a modicum of respect from me. That said, I realize this has nothing to do with his managerial ability or track record; if I were a Newcastle fan (shudder), I'd likely share the skepticism over his appointment.
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#44
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlie Brigden
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Say what you want about Shearer, but the man commands respect from his colleagues. Ashley's idiocy has shown no bounds this season, but getting in Shearer is the first good thing he's done, alongside getting rid of Dennis Wise. Shearer may not have huge experience in management (but he does have some, in assisting Glenn Roeder when he kept us up a couple of seasons ago), but 1: it's an emotional appointment, for sure, and 2: Shearer was a good enough player to be able to take that kind of appointment on, and in his stride.

I don't really understand the dislike for him (well, coming from United and Boro supporters, maybe I do!), although I think we'll still get relegated, but through no fault of his.

Setting aside personal allegiances, I like his Roy of the Rovers style appointment. But I have a very hard time accepting the level of respect a man so ill-tempered and nakedly biased (on and off the pitch) commands from so many people. It typifies the widespread tendency of the British press and public to see only what they want, romanticize suspect individuals (Terry, Lampard, Gerrard, etc) and lambaste better players/people (Keane.)
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#45
Looking at Newcastle's strikeforce, Carroll seems a bright prospect and I wouldn't be surprised if Shearer starts him for at least one of the remaining games. I'd imagine the home games against Fulham, Pompey and Boro will be ones where Shearer really goes for it, as those games are easily winnable.

Owen was invisible against Stoke, Ameobi is beyond awful and Martins rings up the gaffer to tell him he can't play? Shearer needs to get Owen scoring again.

I'm not feeling optimistic about Liverpool's chances tomorrow, people are pointing to Bolton scoring 3 at Stamford Bridge but that won't happen again. Plus Chelsea scored 4 so it has no relevance anyway.
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#46
Shame what's happened to Owen. If things had gone his way fitness-wise, he'd still scream out to be a first team contender for England.

Russ, I think Liverpool will go for it and maybe win the leg, but not the tie.
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#47
I could see that happening, I'll go for Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool.

While I'm at it, I'll go for Arsenal 2-0 Villareal.

The Utd game is a whole different issue, that could go anywhere!

Had a discussion during Stoke game, is Owen past it or would he thrive at a different club? My head says his best days are long behind him but I just wonder if new surroundings or a new system of play would see him banging in the goals again.
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#48
Agreed about Arsenal, Russ. Though, I think they'll make hard work of it. Speaking of which - United... I dread to even think of it.

Interesting theory & discussion about Owen. I could see a move rejuvenating him for a while but he seems, sadly, to be spent. At least, as far as being a genuinely world class striker is concerned. Sure, he could still do a job and be as good as/better than most journeymen forwards in the Premiership, but when you think of the fear he used to strike into defenders, it's just not the same thing.

Henry Winter was actually talking about this a lot the other week on the Sunday Supplement. He thought Shearer's appointment was great news for Newcastle, and, by extension, England because of what it would likely mean for Owen. He sees (a fit) Owen as still being an obvious first-choice England striker (spot-on) and valuable presence in the squad. To be fair, the guy's got a point; Carlton Cole's recent performances are his greatest evidence. Winter was very happy with Shearer's arrival, reasoning that Owen would likely become a key figure in his team.
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#49
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlie Brigden
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I don't really understand the dislike for him (well, coming from United and Boro supporters, maybe I do!), although I think we'll still get relegated, but through no fault of his.

Hi Charlie.

I don't mind Shearer. He stinks the place out as a TV pundit because of his rigid personality, but I have a ton of respect for him and his achievements as a player (especially getting Roy Keane sent off - LMAO!). The problem I have is with the media and those Geordie fans who consider him - like Keegan - a messiah who will lead Newcastle to a promised land of milk and honey etc. It just doesn't work that way.

I fancied Shearer as a successful manager of the future - not now and certainly not at the helm of a club teetering on the edge of oblivion with a mediocre set of players whose confidence is shot facing a string of incredibly tough fixtures. IMO, he couldn't have taken over at a worse time.
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#50
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bobby Bear
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Shame what's happened to Owen. If things had gone his way fitness-wise, he'd still scream out to be a first team contender for England.

The problem Owen sets any manager is one of plusses and minuses. The plus side is he is a world class finisher. No doubts about it. Give him two chances in front of goal and the money is on him sticking one away. No England striker since Lineker could that be said of.

The minus side is his lack of usefulness as anything other than a finisher. You can't ping the ball up to him and ask that he hold it up like a Heskey or a Crouch because defenders know they can simply bump him off the ball. You can't ask him to play down the channels because he can't cross. His lack of close control prevents him from dropping deep - he certainly can't run at the back four because he can't dribble. Owen finishes and that's that. Which is a problem for someone like Capello who prefers a patient approach and steady build up of play - which demands that the midfield and forwards share the burden of passing and movement: not five working their backsides off with one doing his own thing.

It's an unfortunate dilemma: Don't play Owen, create more chances but with a lower conversion ratio. Play Owen, create less chances but with a higher conversion ratio.
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#51
Excellent summary of Owen's current situation, couldn't agree more. The classic system was to stick him with a Heskey or a Crouch, the little and large combo, and ask the big guy to hold it up or flick it onto Owen and he would finish. This did work, even until recently against Russia at Wembley, but I'm grateful that Capello has introduced a passing game designed to break down opposition instead of lumping the ball forward. I HATE that style of play.

I saw in the paper today Dowie's in line for the Birmingham job if they don't go up, I seriously hope that's tabloid crap.

What has gone wrong at Hull? It's like the novelty of Premier League football wore off after a couple of months and they forgot how to win. The first months of season were amazing with them beating the likes of Spurs and Arsenal at their own grounds!

You can't fail to be amazed by their away record against the Top 4 this season: Won at the Emirates 2-1, drew at Anfield 2-2 after being 2-0 up, drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, and lost 4-3 at Old Trafford. Incredible!

Spare a thought for Luton, their current management and players punished by a careless past regime and a cruel FA. I remember when they dumped Newcastle out of the FA Cup in a replay after drawing 1-1 at St James'. I know it seems like I'm constantly pissing on Newcastle but that's the Luton result that sticks in my mind!
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#52
Geoff, that anti-Keane jibe stung!

Re: the England forward line, I'd gamble with Owen and Rooney. At least, for a game or two. As much as I love the theory behind the "little and large" striker partnership (always a mainstay of my Pro Evo Master League sides), Wayne could and gladly would do the hard graft Geoff outlined. It might not be an ideal work-ratio but it's still better than going down the Crouch/Cole route. Presumably, with Gerrard and Lampard in support, Rooney & Owen would rightly trouble a defence or two.
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#53
Surprising.
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#54
We did it. If there were an award for "Most Difficult Team to Watch", I think we'd nail it.
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#55
What a game at Stamford Bridge, don't think anyone saw that coming. My prediction was way off! Good win for Utd, great goal, most difficult team to watch? Please! Nervous moments towards the end though, but looks like the return of Ferdinand has indeed brought back the steel to Utd's defence.

Utd-Arsenal should be lots of fun to watch.

Re: Newcastle's forward line, the forgotten man lived up to his name... Viduka! In line for a return against Spurs, he could still do a job for them he's been unlucky with injury.
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#56
Totally, Russ. I know I didn't see that one coming. Usually, I make a point to never watch Liverpool, unless we're playing them; they angry up the blood.

I stand by my remark, though, about us being supremely tough to watch. I'm not alone in that. Yeah, the "Gooners" promise even higher tension. Nervous already!
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#57
So what's the feeling about the semi-finals this weekend?

I'm seeing victories for Utd and Arsenal, but if Everton get an early goal and play well I could see them winning. Be a strong test of Utd's confidence if they went behind early on.

Be interesting to see if Chelsea's recent leaky defence at the Bridge appears in their game. If that back four is shaky and Arsenal start playing their fluent game, Cech will concede 3 or 4 again. Does he need a rest or something?
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#58
If United don't win, I'll be ragin' but unsurprised. Everton aren't to be underestimated. Also, fair play to Rooney for not shying away from his feelings for Everton. He shouldn't be expected to simply "forget" his love for his team just because he plays for another. You'd think "real" football fans would understand that your team chooses you, not the other way around...

As for Arsenal/Chelsea, the Gunners' defensive situation may be crucial. I'd rather see them win, though. Don't know what the craic is with Cech, honestly.

What does everyone think about the Fergie/Benitez slagging match? I'm more than a little tickled by the whole thing. It wouldn't be football without a bit of theatricality.
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#59
Does anyone have any thoughts on the relegation battle which is as close as it's been in years?

I'm hoping for Middlesborough, Sunderland and Newcastle to wipe the North East off the premiership map for a season, but I expect it to be West brom Middlesborough and Sunderland. I would love it if Newcastle go down but they always seem to stay up.

To come up Wolves (natch) The blades, and hopefully reading in the play-offs but they've had such a crappy run lately, it will probably be birmingham - anyone but Burnley.

Does anyone else think that Fergie's going to go if they win the quintuple?
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#60
No way, I see Fergie going for at least two more seasons whether they win the 5 or not. Plus, the thinking is that he wants to beat Liverpool's league title total before he steps down. Not sure if he said that himself though.

Since Mourinho left the Prem we've been missing the antagonism between bosses, I welcome any spat.

I'll say again my relegation dream is West Brom, Newcastle and Blackburn.

Reading's run lately has been unbelievably bad, they're at risk of missing the play-offs altogether. I'll go for Wolves, Blades and a Brum/Cardiff play-off final that I couldn't possibly call.
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#61
I was just looking at the table earlier on Football Focus. Beyond West Brom, it's too tough to call. I can't see Newcastle going down either; they'll scrape by. Boro' would surprise me if they drop. Hull still have the sweat on. I'm rubbish at anticipating stuff like this, and I don't have enough animosity towards any of the clubs involved (as Citeh are, sadly, safe) to really want to see any drop.
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#62
It'll be interesting to see what Man U's post-season transfer activity will be. I've a suspicion this will be Ronaldo's last year. If Real or some other club offer £50 million I think Man U will sell. Ronaldo can't be replaced like-for-like (barring the possible exception of Messi, who seems happy at Barcelona) but with that much remuneration Fergie could buy two or three world class players for various positions.

Whilst Ronaldo has shown outstanding form recently (the goal against Porto was a screamer), United have played with (in poor form) or without him for much of the season. They could run with Nani on the left and sign players such as Agüero and Gourcuff. That would be one hell of a side.

Not that the United youth set up is a poor one. Far from it. I mean, they've already got the two (Brazilian?) brothers who play left and right back and are regarded as certainties.

It's little wonder English clubs are having tremendous success in the Champions League at the moment. Even in these depressed times the EPL is rolling in money (the next TV deal is expected to knock the NFL down to second spot on the richest sporting competition list). English clubs are hoovering up the bulk of the world's talent. Which makes a bloody change.

I'm no fan of Abramovich and the rest of the billionaire benefactors, but when I hear the likes of Real Madrid moaning about Chelsea or some other club "poaching" players from Spanish football my hypocrite detector goes off the scale.
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#63
Absolutely, Geoff. I always enjoy snowballing blue-sky transfers with people. Part of me thinks you're right about Ronaldo. Truthfully, there are times when I would support the acceptance of a potential bid like you say (and the opportunities that might enable.) Then again, the thought of Giggsy imparting his industrious mentality and all of his experience upon him makes me want to see him at O.T. for good. If Ronaldo - right now - could have modern-day Giggs's mentality he'd be an all-time great before his late 20's.

For me, Nani isn't good enough for United. Rafael and Fábio da Silva, on the other hand, absolutely are. See also Agüero and Messi (great calls!)

The present English dominance of European football featured prominently on the Sunday Supplement this morning. Anyone catch it/usually watch it? Sean Custis and Oliver Holt engaged in a thinly veiled slagging-off match on the behaviour of the British press during Japan and South Korea '02 and the "support your local club" debate. Custis won.
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#64
God that game was dire. Fergie's team selection will be ripped to shreds in the papers tomorrow I imagine.

Won't lie I was rooting for Everton, if only to avoid a repeat of the mind-crushingly boring 2007 cup final.
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#65
Not a classic, for sure, Russ. Especially hard for me. Good to see so many youngsters getting a run-out (though, Wellbeck struggled on his weaker side.) It's disappointing but not devastating. Everton's fans definitely wanted it more and I'm glad for Moyes. I'll now fully back them to dispense with Chelski.
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#66
Wow Liverpool know how to deliver entertaining games recently! But the wrong result for them overall, Bobby do you reckon it's in the bag for Utd now? Can't see them losing any points against Pompey tomorrow and tonight might have done Liverpool's title bid confidence in.

I was at The Valley on Saturday to see us relegated. 2-2 draw after being 2-0 up, conceding 93rd minute goal. Tonight against Cardiff? 2-2 draw after being 2-0 up, conceding 89th minute goal. I can't even imagine where we'd be in the league if we'd managed to hold onto leads. Surely you've gotta blame the manager for that? He should know tactically how to kill a game off in the dying minutes.
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#67
Yeah, that's pretty cool for neutrals. Honestly, Russ, I'm still not 100% confident about United. We look too rocky under pressure. A better side than Porto would've done us. After that, all bets are off. For me, anyway.

Sorry to hear that, Russ. I think Kamara brought it up on Sunday; it's a tragedy a great side like Charlton have slipped so far so fast. And I think you're bang-on about management.
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#68
Big result for us tonight. Everton doing us a favour too! Did it do wonders for my confidence, though? No. That's how pessimistic I am.
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#69
Very pessimistic! You should be busting out the champagne already.

Did anyone else feel that Benitez making any "Game over" gestures against Blackburn isn't a big deal? The game was over! Yeah respect blah blah, but I just don't see the need for a fuss.

On a Utd-related note, glad to see Keane back in management.

Hmm what's this, Van Persie ruled out of the semi-final with Utd? No Van Persie, no Arshavin... Bobby, even you must be feeling a wee flicker of optimism!
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#70
It is, Russ! I'm not the only one who feels this way, though. Trust me, the Scouse look just as ominous to us as we must do to them. Champagne remains a shade premature for my taste.

Roy Keane is a legend and it is, indeed, tremendous to see him back in management. I'm upset for big Jim Magilton, though.

The Van Persie/Arshavin news is certainly heartening. Truthfully, there was more than a flicker at the sight of that. As for "Rafa", I agree that it didn't need to be blown up to what it was. Still... I abhor what it represents and think he should know better.
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