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May 022013

Unfortunately for you, this weekend’s Merseyside Derby is being played on Sunday May 5 instead of Saturday May 4. The latter has become an international holiday for nerds (like me) all across the globe.

But a single day won’t stop me from having some galaxy-hopping fun!

Here’s a preview of Sunday’s match with some inspiration from one of the greatest films of all time.

Philippe Coutinho = Luke Skywalker

In the film, Luke winds up becoming the “hero” (more on that in a moment) at a fairly young age after discovering his aunt and uncle were murdered by the evil Empire. Eventually he winds up resurrecting an ancient religion that had almost been completely wiped out, but not before some trials, tribulations, and one really awkward kiss from his sister.

Coutinho is the “Luke Skywalker” of this match because he’s young and ultimately holds the key to Liverpool’s success. He’ll need to weave his way down the Death Star trench that is Everton’s back line and set up his teammates to try and beat American keeper Tim Howard, who is so good you only get a two meter window to score against him.

Steven Gerrard = Han Solo

Much like Han shot Greedo first, Steven Gerrard would never hesitate to pound the DJ who dares play a song he hasn’t approved.

Han Solo is the real hero of Star Wars. He’s the one who came back and took a shot at Darth Vader that ultimately freed up Luke to take the game winning shot. Captain Fantastic will emulate the performance of the Millenium Falcon’s Captain and free up Coutinho to do his thing by tracking back more in defense and playing as a true box-to-box midfielder.

It’s not as sexy, but don’t tell him that (or the odds of Liverpool winning for that matter).

Marouane Fellaini = Chewbacca

This one is about the hair more than anything else; stature too that I think of it.

Yes, Fellaini is technically a “bad guy” in this rivalry and Chewbacca is Han’s loyal best friend, but I’m trying appear neutral because I’ll never truly hate Everton the way native Liverpudlian supporters in red do.

Also, the Belgian midfielder looks like the sort of guy who would pull your arms out of their sockets if you beat him in a game of cards.

David Moyes = Darth Vader

Perhaps the greatest villain of all time, nothing is more synonymous with the Empire than Darth Vader. Moyes is second only to Sir Alex Ferguson in terms of the longest tenure at one EPL club so he has become synonymous with Liverpool’s hated rivals.

Moyes is also incredibly terrifying to watch on the sidelines and his quiet intensity allows him to get the best out of what some would consider “less than stellar” individuals. The only thing that sets the two apart is Vader’s ability to choke the life out of those who fail him without lifting a finger.

Jamie Carragher = Obi Wan Kenobi

Carragher is the grizzled veteran of Liverpool Football Club. He’s a shining beacon of what it means to represent Liverpool in the same way Kenobi was a shining example of what it means to be a Jedi Knight.

Jamie Carragher is looking possibly riding off into the sunset before taking up a career in management. Obi-Wan rode off into the twin sunset before eventually fading into oblivion in the middle of a duel with Vader. Perhaps Carragher will wither in front of David Moyes on Sunday if he is fortunate enough to score the game winner.

Kevin Mirallas = Boba Fett

Despite being an evil bounty hunter, Boba Fett was kind of a badass. He had a cool ship, cool weapons, and a cool suit of armor.

Although he plays for the Enemy, Mirallas is lots of fun to watch and seems to have all the right tools to score goals. Of all the players on Everton’s squad, Mirallas might be the one whose services Liverpool would most like to acquire.

Liverpool fans can only hope he turns  his back to Daniel Agger at some point during a set piece and falls into a Sarlaac Pit.

Daniel Sturridge = Lando Calrissian

I know, I know! I’m being racist!

But in all seriousness, there’s a legit comparison here. Lando has a ton of swagger and he briefly worked for the bad guys (in this case, Chelsea) before coming to his senses and joining the good guys. Lando was easily the coolest and suavest character in Star Wars and I think it’s pretty obvious Sturridge has the coolest and suavest goal celebrations of anyone in this match.

Stewart Downing = C-3PO

Annoying. Easily Mocked. More trouble than he’s worth. More expensive than he’s worth.


Jordan Henderson = R2-D2

Henderson came over to Liverpool in the same summer as Downing. R2-D2 was purchased by Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Ben at the same time as C-3PO.

Much like the little droid who could, Henderson has been finding ways to make himself useful when needed most lately.


Okay, I’m out of steam at this point and I need some dinner before I explode like the Death Star.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Everton




United Thoroughly Dominate Everton!

 Posted by on February 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm  England, EPL, Everton, Manchester United
Feb 122013

Manchester United 2-0 Everton
65810959 65810957 1 United Thoroughly Dominate Everton!“I can sometimes be a slow learner,” Sir Alex Ferguson said in a rare interview with the BBC broadcast on Thursday. It was an interesting comment, not so much because it showed the old warrior’s unique mode of integrity or the hurt he feels at only having won only two European Champions’ Leagues. The utter humiliations of last season’s second-place finish to Manchester City accompanied by a 6-2 home loss to the Abu Dhabian sky-blue rent boys genuinely left a scar. United have a 12-point advantage with just 12 games to go, but last season’s choke at the very death of the season seems to have genuinely pushed Britain’s greatest veteran manager to reassess his status and methodology as a coach. The loss at Old Trafford to City was painful, but, worse, in its own way, was a humbling draw at home to Everton after his team had been leading 4-2 going into the last five minutes of the match before finishing 4-4. That game and a nightmare first fixture this season at Goodison Park in which the Toffees were allowed to bully and intimidate a passive, mentally detached United team still slowly awakening from a Summer of sloth. Even the most vocal pro-United pundits, like The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor began pushing the panic button early this season.

Well, it has taken awhile, and United have been far from brilliant all season, but on Sunday night Everton were comfortably dominated and defeated by a team playing like a team. The cliché may indeed be that there is no ‘I’ in team, but United were well and truly kept on a tight leash by their boss. And for those expecting something sloppy and lackadaisical after last week’s shoddy victory over Southampton, it was no such thing. With Phil Jones given the single, urgent errand of marking the awkward, troublesome Marouane Fellaini, Everton’s star performer never got into the game. Indeed, the Moroccan midfielder was so frustrated that he was hacking down any United player in his vicinity and more than a little fortunate not to see red from the referee Mark Halsey. Forced to drop deep to see any of the ball, he was not a factor in the game at all.

Meanwhile, playing out of his skin, the awesome 39-years-young Ryan Giggs ended up scoring for the 23rd season in a row. A thorn in Everton’s side all day, the wise Welsh wizard was, like Wayne Rooney, all over the field throughout proceedings. Taken along with Manchester City’s defeat at Southampton, United did not look like a team capable of self-destructing and losing their twelve point cushion at the top of the Premier League. And although many fans are praying  for United to self-destruct once again, no such thing is going to happen.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Dav 005 1 United Thoroughly Dominate Everton!United dominated from the very beginning. and the Toffees were never even close to finding their rhythm when their usually foolproof offside trap went awry only ten minutes in as Phil Neville went after a hard-running Wayne Rooney a second too early, which allowed Robin Van Persie the time to round Tim Howard and stare at an open goal before forcing a massive collective ‘Ooooh!’ out of the crowd by shooting awkwardly with his weaker right foot and hitting the outside of the post. But, only three minutes later , John Heitinga, only playing because of a late injury to Sylvain Distin, failed to stop a header from Valencia after a superbly passed set-up by Rafael Da Silva. The ball fell to Van Persie who tapped it sideways to an unmarked Ryan Giggs who rolled the ball in off the post with a neat poke from his right toe.

Still, even though they were severely blunted without the bustle of Fellaini up front, Everton were still a threat and both Leon Osman and Kevin Miralles forced yeoman defensive work out of David De Gea and Nemanja Vidic. Then, right on the stroke of half-time, United beat Everton’s offside trap once again as a beautiful seeing-eye pass, again from Rafael beat Neville, found Van Persie and the ruthless striker rounded Tim Howard again, making no mistake this time, firing home despite a desperate diving move from Heitinga to block it.
United held on to their lead well in the second half, playing a superb game of reactive football throughout. and both goalkeepers made a series of splendid saves throughout. Instead of worrying about Real Madrid on Wednesday I am relishing the prospect of a football feast. Now that they are playing their best football in two seasons, United are clearly about as ready for this fixture as it;’s possible for them to be.

As Everton’s manager David Moyes put it after the match. “It’s only our fourth league defeat this season and I would say it is the only game where a better team has beaten us.“Ryan Giggs scores the fir 008 United Thoroughly Dominate Everton!

Jan 122013

*As always these are confirmed, completed deals*

Giuseppe Rossi

The New Jersey native and Italy international completed an 11 million Euro ($14.7 million) move from Spain’s Villareal to Fiorentina in Italy’s Serie A. Villareal were recently relegated from Spain’s La Liga.

Marouane Chamakh

This one was completed late last week. The Arsenal striker has joined West Ham on loan until the summer (a common theme to this week’s moves).

Lewis Holtby

The German U-21 captain will join Tottenham this summer on a free move when his contract with Schalke 04 expires.

Ricardo Quaresma

The veteran Portugal winger has agreed to join Al Ahly in Egypt for a free month. Quaresma has signed a deal for 18 months.

Nuri Sahin

The talented young midfielder has had his season long loan to Liverpool cut short by Real Madrid in order to send him on loan to Borussia Dortmund until the summer. Dortmund have the option to buy their former midfielder in the summer. Sahin helped Dortmund win the Bundesliga before moving to Madrid over a year ago.

Marcel Schmelzer

And speaking of Dortmund, they signed full back Marcel Schmelzer to a new deal that will keep him with the club until 2016.

Andrea Dossena

The Napoli defender will join Palermo on loan until the summer. Palermo have an option to buy once the loan has expired.

Antonio Luna

The Sevilla defender will join Real Mallorca on loan until the summer window opens.


Rumored to be a high priority for Chelsea, the Brazilian striker has instead completed a five year move from Metalist Kharkiv to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Johan Djourou

The Arsenal central defender will join Hannover on loan until the summer window opens.


The Malaga midfielder will join Granada on loan until the summer window opens.

Rami Gershon

The Israeli defender will join Celtic on loan from Standard Liege until the summer window opens.

Thomas Hitzlsperger

The 30 year old German midfielder has had his loan at Everton extended until the summer window opens. Hitzlsperger has spent a good portion of his career in England with previous stints at Aston Villa and West Ham.

Ross Barkley

And speaking of Everton, young Ross Barkley will join Leeds United on loan until the summer window opens.

Craig Davies

The Welsh striker completed a two and a half year, 300,000 pound ($438,000) move from Barnsley to Bolton.

Kieron Dyer

And we end on a sad note as Queens Park Rangers have released Kieron Dyer from his contract with the club. Dyer is now a free agent.


Jan 032013

For those not familiar with this bit, these are CONFIRMED deals only. There will be no “Tevez To Columbus!” rumors here.

Alexandre Pato

The young Brazilian striker has completed a 15 million pound ($24.4 million) move to Corinithians in his native country after he failed to impress with AC Milan at the San Siro.

Lucas Moura

Moura will join Paris-Saint Germain on a four and a half year, 40 million Euro ($52.7 million) transfer that was pretty much done last summer.

Daniel Sturridge

Specific details are not known, but the embattled young striker has completed a move from Chelsea to Liverpool in an effort to help the  correct the latter’s scoring woes.

Demba Ba

Newcastle’s powerful striker has completed a move to Chelsea for undisclosed fee and signed a three and a half year deal.

Mathieu Debuchy

The French Lille right back has joined Newcastle for a five and a half year deal.

Jan Kirchoff

The Mainz center back will join Bayern Munich on a free transfer.

Carlo Cudicini

After falling to third on the depth chart at Tottenham, the Italian keeper has signed a two year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy.


The veteran defender has been released by Galatasaray and will join Brazil’s Gremio on a free transfer.

Phil Jagielka

Everton scored a huge victory after the English international signed a new four year deal to remain at Goodison Park.

Ryan Shawcross

In another victory for the “little guy”, Stoke City have signed their starting center back to a new deal as well.

Joe Cole

The 31 year old midfielder will depart Liverpool and join West Ham United for a new two and a half year deal after a weak stint with the Reds.

Chris Wood

The 21 year old Kiwi striker had been on loan at Millwall, but West Brom have decided to sell him to Leicester City instead.

Federico Peluso

The 29 year old Atalanta defender has signed a six month deal with Juventus.

Danny Higginbotham

The Stoke defender will join Sheffield United on a free transfer for an initial six month deal.

Zeki Fryers

The former Manchester United defender will join Tottenham from Belgium’s Standard Liege.

Daniel Carrico

The Sporting Lisbon defender/captain has completed a 600,000 ($975,000) pound move to Reading to help them in their relegation battle.

Angel Henriquez

The 18 year old Chilean will join Wigan on loan from Manchester United until the summer.

Ji Dong-Won

The Sunderland striker will join Germany’s Augsberg on loan until the summer.

Joshua King

The 20 year old Manchester United forward has completed a two and a half year move to Blackburn Rovers.

Mathis Bolly

The Norwegian winger has completed a move from his native Lillestrom to Fortuna Dusseldorf until 2016.

Ibrahim Rabiu

The Nigerian attacking midfielder has completed a two year move from Celtic to Kilmarnock.

Vadim Demidov

The Norwegian center back will join Celta Vigo on loan from Frankfurt until the summer.


The Stuttgart defender has completed a move to Club America in an effort to prepare to make the Mexico squad for the 2014 World Cup.

Alan Tate

The Swansea defender will remain on loan at Leeds until January 26.

Sean Maguire

The Waterford United striker has completed a move to West Ham United.

Nathaniel Chalobah

The 18 year old Chelsea player will remain on loan at Watford until the summer.

Weekly Transfer Update

 Posted by on August 25, 2012 at 9:25 am  Breaking News, Global Football Today
Aug 252012

Alexander Song

The former Arsenal midfielder has joined Barcelona on a five year deal for a 19 million Euro ($23.4 million) transfer fee.

Swap Deal

Two Italian rivals completed a rare swap deal as Antonio Cassano joins Inter and Giampaolo Pazzini heads to the San Siro in Milan. It’s being reported that Inter also received 7 million Euros.

Walter Gargano

And speaking of Serie A, Inter have also acquired the services of Napoli defender Walter Gargano on loan for the 2012-13 season with an option to buy for 5 million Euros ($6.25 million) next summer.

Aly Cissokho

The former Lyon left back has agreed to a four year deal with La Liga’s Valencia.

Danny Welbeck

The English striker has signed a new four year deal to remain with Manchester United even though the Red Devils recently added Dutch striker Robin van Persie to their ranks.

Emmanuel Adebayor

The Togolese striker has completed a permanent move from Manchester City to Tottenham after spending the 2011-12 season on loan with the north London club.

Jose Bosingwa

The  former Chelsea player has left Stamford Bridge and joined Queens Park Rangers for a three year deal.

Kevin Mirallas

The Belgian striker has completed a four year move from Olympiakos to Everton for a fee of 5.3 million pounds ($6.6 million).

Cesar Azpilicueta

The 22 year old Spanish right back has completed a move from Marseille to Chelsea. No terms of the deal have been disclosed.

Josh McEachran

The 19 year old Chelsea prospect will join Middlesbrough on loan for the 2012-13 season.

Kyle Bartley

The former Arsenal defender has completed a three year move to Swansea City.

Matt Jarvis

The former Wolves winger has completed a move to West Ham for five years and a club record 11 million pound ($ 17.4 million) transfer fee.

Adam Johnson

After failing to hold a spot in Roberto Mancini’s first team at Manchester City, the winger will join Sunderland on a four year deal.

Alexander Buttner

The Vitesse Arnhem left back has completed a move to Manchester United for five years.

Nuri Sahin

After transferring to Real Madrid last summer, the Turkish international will join Liverpool on loan for the 2012-13 season.

Joseph Akpala

The prolific Nigerian forward has completed a move from Club Brugge in Belgium to Werder Bremen of Germany’s Bundesliga.

Anthony Annan

The holding midfielder from Ghana has completed a loan move from Schalke to Osasuna.

Robbie Rogers

The American wide midfielder will join Stevenage on loan from Leeds United for the 2012-13 season.


Our Boys Overseas: August 23

 Posted by on August 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm  Our Boys Overseas, United States, USMNT
Aug 232012

After the United States’ historic triumph at Estadio Azteca last week, several Yanks began their new club seasons amidst transfer rumors , while several others are making the transition to their new clubs after summer transfers.


Tim Howard and Everton started the new EPL season off with a 1-0 win against Manchester United at home. Howard helped his team by making three saves in the match. The match also marked the debut of former Arsenal player Robin van Persie for Manchester United who came on as a sub in the second half. The Howard and Toffees travel to Aston Villa on Saturday.

Clint Dempsey was not on the game day roster for Fulham on Saturday during their 5-0 shutout over Norwich City. According to various reports Dempsey has been fined an undisclosed amount by Fulham FC for not agreeing to play in the match against Norwich. Fulham manager Martin Jol is stating that the American has also not been training with the team for the past several weeks. After previously being linked with a summer move to Liverpool, Dempsey’s future club situation still remains uncertain and his time at Fulham seems to be nearing an end. Dempsey has spent tha last six years at the club since moving to Fulham in 2006 from the New England Revolution. Fulham travels to Old Trafford on Saturday to take on Manchester United.

Geoff Cameron was unable to play in Stoke City’s season opener due to a visa delay and is expected to return to England sometime this week and should be available for Stoke’s home opener against Arsenal this weekend.

Neither Brad Guzan nor Eric Lichaj was on the game day roster in Aston Villa’s 1-0 defeat to West Ham United. Guzan recently signed a new contract with Aston Villa that would keep him at the club for three more years after spending the last four years as Aston Villa’s backup goalkeeper.

Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur lost 2-1 to Newcastle United on Saturday. Friedel made one save in the game. Friedel and his team host West Brom on Saturday.

Tim Ream went the full 90 minutes in defense for Bolton Wanderers in their 2-0 loss to Burnley on Saturday. This was the team’s first game of the season in the Championship after being regulated last season from the Premiership. Stuart Holden is still out recovering from a knee injury that kept him from any playing time last season. On Tuesday, Ream and Bolton took on Derby County and won 2-0 in their first win of the season. The Trotters play against Nottingham Forest and Robbie Findley on Friday.

Robbie Rogers was not included on Leeds United’s game day roster in the team’s 2-1 loss to Blackpool on Tuesday. This comes after Rogers was placed on the team’s transfer list. Rogers spent most of last season recovering from concussions he sustained during matches. Leeds United travels to Peterborough United on Saturday.

Jonathan Spector played the first 27 minutes in Birmingham City’s 1-1 draw against Charlton Athletic on Saturday. On Tuesday, the team lost 3-2 to Hillsborough. Spector and Birmingham take on Jay Demerit’s former team Watford on Saturday.


Michael Bradley and new team AS Roma have ended their United States tour and begin the Serie A season on Sunday with a match against Catania. The match is expected to be Bradley’s official Serie A debut with Roma. On Sunday, Bradley scored in a friendly against Greek side Aris FC marking his second goal for AS Roma since joining the team this summer. The midfielder scored his first goal for Roma a couple weeks ago at Fenway Park in a friendly against Liverpool.


After Rangers FC’s demotion to the fourth-tier of the Scottish league rumors of potential bids for Maurice Edu to either Ipswich Town or Stoke City were swirling. Ipswich has recently denied this rumor and any bid for Edu. Edu has made it clear that he seeks a transfer from Ranger’s due to their demotion. Carlos Bocanegra has also been amidst many rumors tying him to a potential move back to MLS. Meanwhile, the defender has spent the time captaining Rangers in their past few games. Bocanegra will once again be captaining Rangers this Sunday when they travel to Berwick Rangers.


Alejandro Bedoya recently made a summer move to back to Sweden after leaving former club Rangers FC due to the club’s money issues. Bedoya has started off on the right foot at Helsingborgs IF. On Saturday, Bedoya marked his debut for Helsingborgs by scoring the team’s only goal of the night with a bicycle kick in the team’s 2-1 loss to Elfsborg. On Tuesday, the team lost 2-0 to Scottish league giants Celtic in the first round of Champions League qualifying. Next Wednesday, Rangers and Helsingborgs will have a rematch against Celtic in the second league of Champions league qualifying. Helsingborgs travels to Djurgården for league play on Saturday.


Jozy Altidore scored two goals on Sunday in AZ Alkmaar’s 3-1 win over Heracles. This comes one week after also scoring two goals for AZ Alkmaar in the team’s home opener. AZ lost 1-0 to Anzhi Makhachkala in the first play-off round of the Europa League. Altidore and AZ return to league play on Sunday against Heerenveen.


Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 defeated FC Nottingen 6-1in the first round of DFB Pokal on Sunday. Cherundolo lead his team to a 5-3 win over ?l?sk Wroc?aw in their first round of Europa League play-offs.  Hannover and Cherundolo host Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04 in league action on Sunday.

Timmy Chandler and FC Nurnberg lost 3-2 in extra time to TSV Havelse in the first round of DFB Pokal on Sunday. Chandler and Nurnberg travel to Hamburg SV on Saturday for league play.

Alfredo Morales and Hertha Berlin lost 2-1 loss to Wormatia Worms in the first round of DFB Pokal on Sunday. Hertha Berlin host SSV Jahn Regensburg on Friday.


Sacha Kljestan and RSC Anderlecht are off to a winning start season after finishing on top in last season’s Belgium League by defeating Mons 2-1 win on Saturday. Anderlecht lost 2-1in the first game of Champions League play-offs against AEL Limassol. Kljestan and his crew travel to OH Leuven on Saturday before hosting AEL Limassol next Tuesday for the second leg of their play-offs match up.


Michael Parkhurst scored the game winning goal for FC Nordsjaelland in their 1-0 win over AGF Aarhus on Sunday after scoring last week’s game winner also. Parkhurst and FC Nordsjaelland host Sonderjyske on Friday.

Clarence Goodson was another defender who also scored a goal this past weekend. The American defender scored his first goal of the season and lead Brondby IF to a 1-1 draw against FC Copenhagen on Saturday. The team takes on Esbjerg on Sunday.

Charlie Davies and his new team Randers FC won in a 1-0 shutout over Silkeborg IF on Saturday. Davies is one of several Americans that changed clubs over the summer after leaving French side Sochaux. Davies and Randers play FC Copenhagen on Saturday at home.


Oguchi Onyewu was not included in Sporting CP’s game day roster on Sunday in their scoreless draw against Vitoria Guimaraes. This comes just after being left off Sporting CP’s Europa League roster. The team takes on Rio Ave on Monday.


Herculez Gomez and his team Santos Laguna lost 2-1 loss to Pumas UNAM on Saturday. Days after, Santos Laguna and Gomez shutout Salvadoran side Aguila 5-0 on Tuesday in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League matchup. On Saturday, the team takes on Pachuca and Jose Torres.

DaMarcus Beasley and Puebla fell 3-0 last Friday to Morelia. On Tuesday, the team defeated Lobos BUAP 3-0 in a Copa Mexico match-up. They return to league play on Sunday when they host Michael Orozco Fiscal and San Luis. Michael Orozco Fiscal and his team lost 1-0 to Chivas de Guadalajara on Saturday. The defender picked up a yellow card in the match.

Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona both played in Club Tijuana’s 2-1 over Tigres UANL last Friday. Greg Garza was an unused sub in the match. Tijuana beat Celaya 2-1 at home on Tuesday in Copa Mexico action. The trio travels to take on América this Saturday.



No Bottle, No Glory!

 Posted by on August 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm  EPL, Manchester United
Aug 212012
Marouane Fellaini

Everton 1-0 Manchester United
Fellaini 57
To begin a new season Everton and Manchester United went at each other for 45 minutes like a pair of red-meat starved pit bulls. Unfortunately, one dog quit early. Led by their gutsy Belgian midfield warrior, Marouane ‘Bog Brush’ Fellaini, Everton pummeled a weaker willed Manchester United into submission. And when Fellaini finally powered home a header in the 57th minute shunting aside a passive, petrified Michael Carrick, it was a reward he had earned with a mixture of bullying and enterprising hard work.

Unfortunately, the whole team, save Kagawa and De Gea. proved to have no battle, either. The lessons that should have been learned against Basel and Bilbao did not sink in. The disgrace of losing to the Swiss, who take pride in their neutrality and lack of emotional commitment, has been neither sussed nor absorbed. When both Phil Neville and Jamie Carragher both laugh at United and insist we own no bottle, somebody needs to listen!

It was, to be sure, Fellaini’s day, but some accolades ought to be saved for the tactical nous and man management of Everton’s cunning manager David Moyes. Outgunned on paper and still clearly missing the energy and moxy of  veteran Tim Cahill, Moyes seems to have taken a leaf out of the book of Roberto Mancini and converted a defensive box-to-box midfielder, like Yaya Touré, into a second striker. As both Moyes and his brave captain Phil Neville noted after the game, there’s zero mystery about Manchester United’s game. They aim to imitate Barcelona and Borrussia Dortmund’s one-pass game at breakneck speed, utilizing Shinji Kagawa as a sort of fulcrum. It’s a great idea if you’ve got the horses! Stop that passing game and United simply cannot cope.

Although Everton chose to shut up shop for the last fifteen minutes or so and put nine men behind the ball, it did not help an exhausted, sloppy, undisciplined United. Even the late arrival of their shiny, brand-new purchase, Robin Van Persie, proved frustrating as his teammates failed to make any passes to him.

Predictably, for Sir Alex Ferguson is never generous beyond clichés after a comprehensive defeat, like this one (and who among us would be any more generous?). The Gaffer reiterated the fact that his back line is depleted, and that our over matched, gutless midfielder Michael Carrick was obliged to be a stopgap center half while Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and others are injured. Truth be told, however, that Carrick was pitted against Fellaini last season while partnered with Rio Ferdinand and the same humiliation took place. Was there an alternative? Could the kiddiwinkies Ferguson so distrusted, Ryan Wootton or Michael Keane, have done better? Possibly not, but the fact is that, whether it’s the P.L. or the E.C.C., Carrick’s lack of character and bravery has been duly noted-repeatedly!

Never solid at the back, United were like a barren wife from the get-go, laying back with her legs wide open. Indeed, only fourteen minutes in, Fellaini drove past Valencia and Vidic off the left wing before hitting the post with a pile driver. And yet, having given United due notice to the Red Devils’ defense that he was hot to trot, Fellaini, was repeatedly left to his own devices while  Carrick retreated and United’s skipper Nemanja Vidic had his hands full taking care of Milan Jelavic. David De Gea, simply brilliant on the day, made two saves each from Fellaini and Jelavic, before the aggressive Steven Pienaar hit the post in the 32nd minutes.

Having struck twice at Old Trafford in the last seven minutes for a 4-4 draw in April, the sheer visceral shock of that defeat has still not been forgotten by Ferguson or United. When asked if the arrival of attackers Shinji Kagawa and Robin Van Persie has helped United, the Everton skipper Phil Neville said he felt that his old boss was counting on winning a lot of high scoring games. The club’s new Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa was actually, along with the goalie, De Gea, the only player to give Everton’s defense consistent difficulties. Playing with his back to goal, Kagawa was superbly slippery. Unfortunately, his midfield partners, Cleverley, Scholes and later Anderson, simply could not find him as scores of their passes were repeatedly picked off. And with Wayne Rooney simply looking hung over for ninety minutes, while his teammates Danny Welbeck and Nani swapped positions and repeatedly lost loose balls, United only made three truly legitimate goal scoring attempts over the whole match. So that when De Gea tipped away yet another Leighton Baines free kick, United were already playing like a team of subjugated squaddies.

Then, twelve minutes into the second half, United finally winced one time too many as Fellaini casually sidestepped an impotent Patrice Evra before climbing on Carrick’s shoulder and powerfully heading a Darron Gibson corner home to drive the loud Goodison Park crowd into a state of ecstasy. With Fellaini jumping up and down like a Moroccan jack-in-a box, one couldn’t help but notice Darron Gibson and Phil Neville squeezing one another .with the utter joy of the vengeful reject as goalie Tim Howard roared encouragement from the back.

.66 minutes in, after so much frustration, Tom Cleverley who will want to forget this match for ever, put in United’s one really superb shot of the might, only to have it blocked on the goal line by the brilliant Phil Jagielka.

Finally, again, I want to praise Marouane Fellaini. Very much available throughout the Summer at a reasonable price because his contract was up next Spring, Fellaini only signed an extension two weeks ago. Yet by by virtue of this fantastic display, the Toffee’s beloved Bog Brush has joined the elite of the league. Although Sir Alex Ferguson accused Everton of playing a game of primitive long ball and “just lumping the ball forward” to Fellaini, who he wrote off as “troublesome because he’s big and gangly” there was clearly more going on than a Sam Allardyce-imitation. Clearly United will be okay in the long run, but one really wonders if Fellaini can carry on producing this way for Everton just how successful they can be this seasonMarouane Fellaini 004 No Bottle, No Glory!.

“We could’ve had him!” my mate Jonesy said yesterday. And cheap, too!

Aug 172012

robin vanpersie 2312923b Top 10: Most Controversial TransfersWith the news that Robin van Persie has completed his transfer from Arsenal to Manchester United, its only natural that the conversations immediately turn to the historical significance of what just happened.  Here we had a player on top of his game, captaining a top side in England, and now moving to a bitter rival.  So, where does his move stack up historically?  Here is our list!


barmby 150x150 Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers10. Nick Barmby

Barmby’s move from Everton to Liverpool in 2000 is one that generates some emotion on the blue side of Liverpool even to this day. It was the first time since striker Dave Hickson in 1959 that Everton had sold a player to Liverpool.  What made matter worse was when Barmby scored his first goal in Liverpool’s 3-1 Merseyside derby victory, he celebrated extravagantly while the Toffees chanted “Judas.”

cantona left credit1 221x300 Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers9. Eric  Cantona

In 1992 Sir Alex Ferguson may have just pulled off the greatest transfer in Manchester United’s history.  When Eric Cantona left Leeds United at the peak of their powers, he brought the league title with him to Manchester United.  This wasn’t a transfer caused by Leeds needing to sell their best players, and was actually caused by Leeds calling Manchester to inquire about Dennis Irwin!  Needless to say, many believe that the 1.2 million that Leeds got for Cantona was an absolute steal and Leeds never finished higher than Manchester United again.

8. Carlos Tevez

In 2008 Carlos Tevez was a fan favorite at Manchester United.  It was easy to see that Tevez had quality, but with Ronaldo and Rooney it was always going to be hard for him to break into the “star” role at United and this caused a rocky relationship with Fergie.  Manchester United were reluctant to fork over the buyout clause in his contract until the very end.  Substituted off in his final appearance that season, Tevez got a raucus applause from the fans.  Shortly after, Fergie offered a 5 year contract that would have made him one of the highest paid players at United, but Tevez refused.    Shortly after, Carlos signed for rivals Manchester City and the infamous billboard appeared shortly after.  Tevez quickly went from United fan favorite, to absolute hatred.

Carlos Tevez poster 001 Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers

Crujff Feyenoord 219x300 Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers7. Johan Cruyff

Always mentioned in the conversation of greatest players of all time, Cruyff gave his best years to Ajax and Barcelona before winding down his career in America, and finally back home in Holland.  After arriving back at Ajax for two years, and winning two titles, Ajax were reluctant to offer Johan a new contract.  Feeling slighted by the club, Cruyff went out and signed with arch rivals Feyenoord.  Knowing that this would seriously piss off Ajax, Cruyff made the move with every intention of being able to say “suck it” to Ajax.  The following year he did just that, winning the KNVB cup and league title with Feyenoord.

baggio fiorentina scarf 232x300 Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers6. Roberto Baggio

In 1990, riots broke out in Florence, Italy.  Up to 50 people were injured.  Were people upset about unemployment or high taxes? No, they were distraught that Fiorentina’s playmaker and local hero, Roberto Baggio, had just been sold to Juventus.  Despite the fact that the transfer was a record at the time, the Fiorentina supporters were just not having it.  Baggio always claimed his love for Fiorentina, and that was best shown in his first match for Juventus against his former club.  Having won a penalty, Baggio refused to take it.  He was immediately substituted and someone in the crowd threw a Fiorentina scarf at him.  Roberto bent down, picked it up, and firmly planted his lips on it – kissing the badge.  He went on to claim that his blood would forever be purple.

5. Ashley Cole

In January of 2005, Ashley Cole started his journey to become the poster child for “tapping up.”  His actions would leave him with a 100,000 fine from the Premier League for arranging a meeting with then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Chief Executive Peter Kenyon at a hotel room to negotiate a transfer.  Cole’s agent also lost his license for 18 months.  Cole’s club, Arsenal, had no clue that all of this was going on.  In the summer of 2005, Ashley signed a one year extension to his contract at Arsenal.  The very next year, Cole was “trembling with anger” when Arsenal presented him an offer of 55k a week.  Chelsea were offering 90k a week.  Cole went so far as to blame Arsenal for using him as a “scapegoat” during this whole fiasco, which resulted in Arsenal leaving him out of their 2006-07 team photograph.  On August 31, 2006 Cole was sold to Chelsea in part exchange for William Gallas.  He also gained the glorious nickname of “Cashley Cole.” Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers

4. John Robertson

robertson 200x300 Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers

In the late 90s, John Robertson was considered one of the top 100 players of all time.  Throughout the 70s and 80s he was the stud of Nottingham Forest, the dominate force in European football.  He scored the winning goal in the 1980 European cup final. To really understand what happens next, its important to understand the relationship of two people: Brian Clough and Peter Taylor.  They were the tag team combo that drove Derby County to the promised land, winning the league title for the first time in their 88 year history in 1972.  After unsuccessful spells at Brighton & Hove Albion and Leeds United (without Taylor), they joined forces again at Nottingham Forest where they won two European cups, a league title, and four league cups.  Taylor retired in 1982, only to be brought out of retirement to manage Derby County – with Clough’s blessing.  John Robertson would be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” in 1983 when Taylor made the move to bring Robertson to Derby without consulting Clough.  In a tabloid article, Clough called Taylor a “snake in the grass” and declared that “if his car broke down and I saw him thumbing a lift, I wouldn’t pick him up, I’d run him over.”  The two men would never speak again.

3. Sol Campbell

sol 281x300 Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers

I don’t think you’ll find a Spurs fan around the world who wouldn’t consider Sol Campbell one of the best players to ever turn out at White Hart Lane.  In 2001, Sol had a choice to make as his contract ran out that summer.  He had spent the better part of a decade at Spurs and had very little to show for it, never achieving better than 7th place in the league.    Campbell was club captain and fan favorite, so naturally many believed him when he continuously promised fans that he would stay.  However, he continued to stall on his contract negotiations.  An enterprising manager by the name of Arsene Wenger made a cheeky attempt to lure the Tottenham man over to Arsenal.  Despite repeatedly insisting he would stay at Spurs, Campbell agreed to Wenger’s contract offer.  Campbell should still be a beloved hero at Spurs, but moving to their hated rivals that summer threw that right out the window.

2. Robin van Persie

So here we are, the current biggest transfer in the world.  Arsenal’s talisman, captain, and current player of the year Robin van Persie is sold to bitter rival Manchester United in the summer of 2012.  Earlier in the year, van Persie had stated on his personal blog that he would not be signing a contract extension with Arsenal because he did not agree with the direction they were headed.  Having lost a myriad of top talent over the last couple of seasons, Robin carried the team on his shoulder all of last season.   Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Emanuel Adebayor, and Kolo Toure are just a few who’ve left since 2009 with their best years still to come.  Robin, being 29, stated that his desire was to win trophies and he felt like Arsenal weren’t on track to do that.  In a transfer drama that has played out for months, there were only ever a few candidates.  van Persie himself indicated that United were his only real destination, but Wenger publicly claimed he’d rather have sold him to someone like PSG.  It was well known there were two prices for Robin, one for United and one for everyone else.  Not least of the issues in this transfer is also the rivalry between Wenger and Fergie themselves, which is only natural when you’ve spent so long at the top fighting with each other for trophies.  Despite perhaps having to pay a little over the odds, Fergie was happy to bring in the top goal scorer in the league in 2011-12.  Arsenal and Manchester United have been bitter rivals, dominating the modern Premier League; it remains to be seen the full impact of this transfer, but given the club’s histories, it should be a sight to see!

Robin+van+Persie Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers

1. Luis Figo

Portugese legend Luis Figo gets the honor of being the biggest controversy ever created by a transfer.  This is the transfer by which all transfers are judged.  The mother of all controversies.  Luis Figo had won everything there was to win at Barcelona in his five years there, with the exception of the Champions League.  He was the leader of Portugal’s “Golden Generation,” and It didn’t matter that he had been a crowd favorite, or that he was a member of one of the best squads in the world.

2000 was a presidential election year for Real Madrid.  Florentino Perez ran on the promise of bringing Figo to Madrid and claimed a secret document that he and Figo had signed.  Figo, meanwhile, denied the affair all together in an interview with Barcelona based paper Sport: “I want to reassure fans that Luís Figo, with all the certainty in the world, will be at the Camp Nou on July 24 to start the season.” On the supposed secret agreement with Pérez, Figo assured readers that “…I’m not mad enough to do something like that.”

figo Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers

In 2000, Figo gladly accepted a move to bitter rivals Real Madrid for 36.2 million, becoming the most expensive player of all time.  Barca fans promptly lost their minds.  In the 24th minute of an el Classico match at the Nou Camp, Figo had a pig’s head thrown at him – which has to be the first time this has ever happened.  Figo was the first of the “galacticos” (which included Zidane, Ronaldo, Beckham, Owen, Raul, Casillas, and Roberto Carlos) to join Madrid to form one of the most brilliant teams to ever grace a pitch.El Classico Pigs head Top 10: Most Controversial Transfers

The Trouble With Just Hanging in

 Posted by on November 3, 2011 at 4:21 pm  Uncategorized
Nov 032011
 56441350 val The Trouble With Just Hanging in

“Three games in a row without giving up a goal!” That was Sir Alex Ferguson’s mantra at the press conference after the 2-0  win over Otelul Galati last night. Now, admittedly, as I said a couple of weeks ago, Otelul play the kind of obnoxious tar-baby, spoiler football that any quality coach needs the patience of a saint to turn into a positive experience, but this match really, truly was agony to behold.

With the moody Anderson steaming around every blade of grass in vain, hoovering up loose balls in front of his defense only to promptly return them to the opposition, Ando, United’s emergency  midfield general, Wayne Rooney and his two partners on the wing, Nani and Valencia, never seemed quite able to  get the synchronicity thing going.  The Gaffer may indeed be pleased that Rio, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones more or less stuck to the plan, but  the sense of abandon and pure efficient joy that the club showed in the first four matches of the season has gone up in a puff of smoke and seems like a distant memory.

I don’t mean to whine and winge about this synchronicity thing unnecessarily, but the sheer volume of  back passes  and square taps in our own half, especially in the second half of both games against Otelul and Everton, tends to  build up the confidence of the opposition like crazy. United’s lack of confidence glows like the pus-green excretion of an infection as the opposition simply sits back and waits to see where Rooney’s next pass is going to go. Lasting until January no longer seems like a question, but a panacea.

Thank God we got so many important games out of the way early. And I ask again: What harm  could be done by blooding Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba over the coming weeks? And, further to that, because he’s one of the the few United players capable of holding on to the ball, why not give Dimitar Berbatov a run out in midfield?

Manchester United 2-0 Otelul Galati    
Probably the worst thing apart from losing happened to United at Old Trafford last night. Taking the lead in the eighth minute made the whole ensemble smug and  conservative. Was this Manchester United I was watching? I had to cast my mind back to the abysmal torture of the Dave Sexton years when  scoring an early goal meant  at least an hour of watching  a sour game of pinball.  But, what the hell? Back-to-back wins against the blah parsimonious old-school Soviet soccer of the Romanian side gave Ferguson what he wanted. On top of the group group on goal difference, United will now play second-placed Benfica at home.

“Beat Benfica and we win the group, simple as that,” Ferguson said. “It’s a big incentive for us, Considering the history between the two clubs. It should be a good night.”

Poor Michael Owen. Unfortunately, he only lasted twelve minutes on the pitch. It was his sacrifice, however, which lead to United nicking a nice early lead. Charging to the near post to meet a Phil Jones cross in the eighth minutes, Owen pulled Branko Grahovac and the rest of his defense in his direction and into a state of panic. Consequently, an unmarked Antonio Valencia strode forth to tap in unopposed.  It’s called respect and, clearly, Michael Owen still gets it, at leat in some parts of Romania! Sadly, little Mickey–more well known in England these days as the Raffles of English sports for his associations in horse-racing ownership and friendship with certain gentlemen of the turf–looked to have pulled a thigh muscle while making his charge and had to be replaced by Javier Hernández.

Unfortunately, being behind did not encourage Otelul Galati to change their  opponent ways  Consistently keeping nine and mostly ten men behind the ball . they were quietly content to tackle, kick the ball  into touch and commit petty foul upon petty foul, giving the crowd little but obstruction and confusion as entertainment. Indeed, if this was a sample of typical Romanian football, it may not be such a surprise that fans physically attack players. Such tactics allowed Phil Jones and Fabio to move quite far up the pitch and fire in crosses for Nani and Valencia; unfortunately, their passes insistently fell harmlessly into a congested penalty box, their quality often leaving a lot to be desired.

At the same time, Rooney’s work-rate was commendable. Completing  88% of his passes, Wazza was too much of a handful  for the Romanians, yet it was all in vain. Sadly, in and around the box,  Dimitar Berbatov and Hernández hovered around one another like a bad bit of internet matchmaking. When either one got the ball, it was always a case of  them dribbling aimlessly until dispossessed. Perhaps they’ve both been up late at night watching too many Luis Suarez highlight videos?

David de Gea had very little to do in the first half. save for two superb one-handed saves from  the tricky  Ionut Neagu  who repeatedly left Rio Ferdinand floundering.  What was  impressive about de Gea in the second-half was the way he took charge of the positioning of his players when a tired Rio was definitely showing his dotage. Meanwhile, the kid from Madrid steadily gets better and better!

To be fair, United livened up later, showing their fitness as the game entered its final half-hour. Anderson had a fantastic left-footed bazooka cleared off the line by Sergiu Costin and somehow Chicharito Hernández miscued a header from a  perfect Jones cross. How Berbatov, having done the hard work of easing brilliantly around two defenders after collecting an errant backpass,  with all the time in the world, let fly with such a sloppy shot into the side-netting is inexplicable. When United’s second goal finally came, it was from Wayne Rooney on a rare sojourn upfield. His shot was probably a foot wide, but was inadvertently touched into goal by Cristian Sarghi past his own goalie. This set off the Old Trafford faithful in an explosion of raucous spontaneous passion in the 87th minute.

Antonio Valencia 007 The Trouble With Just Hanging in

Everton  0-1 Manchester United    
Manchester United were not exactly full of jazz and pizzaz at Goodison Park, but Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez’s nineteenth minute goal was enough to make sure of a  hard-earned victory over Everton.

A win for United was imperative. Having been all but obliterated in their home town derby last week, rebooting their defensive tactics and getting a victory was all-important. Having dropped defender Rio Ferdinand and winger Nani, the Gaffer surprised many pundits by sticking with the mistake-prone Jonny ‘Some-Mothers-do-have-’em’  Evans yet recalling Nemanja Vidic and Tom Cleverley to what was an attacking lineup, featuring Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney up front. Rooney’s every touch was, of course, jeered by the Everton faithful, and, as is the repeated case against Scouser teams, he was extremely subdued throughout.

United started energetically, grabbing  the lead nineteen  minutes in when Patrice Evra executed a rare accurate cross which the spring-heeled Hernandez  only needed to side-foot home from two yards out. Surprisingly, a quiet United only had one more quality go at Everton’s goal in the first half, when Howard saved well after a fine bit of  dribble-and-shoot from Hernandez.

That, however surprising, spelled the end of red devil dominance and United’s enthusiasm visibly faded as Everton, led by the swashbuckling Marouane Fellaini in midfield, steadily improved. Goalkeeper David de Gea had his work cut out to save from Leon Osman and twice spectacularly from Jack Rodwell. Indeed, United remained nervous in defense throughout the second half  as Saha twice tested De Gea with shots from the edge of the box. United then almost gifted Everton an equalizer when Evans once again gave away possession in the penalty area. Fortunately, it was a nervous Jack Rodwell who picked up the errant pass and shot from too awkward  an angle so that it flew just past the far post.

An hour  in, Welbeck, who has been visibly uncomfortable on the left wing, managed to steal inside the penalty area, only to be robbed after his superb shot was somehow palmed over the bar  by Tim Howard. A draw would have been a fair result for David Moyes’ spunky side. They showed a lot of moxy and heart, nevertheless.

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