Old Futbol Buffet–Red Devils Masked as 70’s Gunners

This weekend was quite busy so I didn’t get to see as much footy as I would have liked.  Saturday morning I was pretty hung over so got off to a very slow start.  The previous night I had drunk myself silly because I went with my wife to a surprise 40th birthday party for the husband of someone she used to work with.  Let me set the scene: sitting at a Fraternal Order of Eagles with a cover band and couples dancing who were in their early 80’s, drinking Budweiser and Rum and Cokes, and feeling awkward.  Thank God for social lubrication.

Anyway, I managed to get myself up and chores done to head for a double header of Aston Villa v Manchester United and FCB v Levante.  I did stay up for the a pretty good inaugural Big 10 Championship game as MSU came up a little bit short.  Sunday was spent doing church related stuff: putting up fliers for an upcoming community event, church business meeting and church itself.  Juventus won, which puts them back at the top of the table and sets up an epic game against Udinese in a couple of weeks.   Here is the recap from Juventinknows.com, who summarized the game thusly:

Conte’s team was perfectly set up to break Cesena down. There was no danger to Juve’s goal, we dominated possession, it was just poor from an attacking standpoint as we put a stunning 29 shots on Cesena, the most of anyone in the league this season. The only complaint I had was this game seemed perfect for some rotation and yet he largely opted not to.

Aston Villa 0  Manchester United 1

Fergie seemed to be responding to criticism about the use of Rooney, moving him farther forward with Chicharito.  To accommodate this, he played Jones in midfield with Carrick, Nani and Young.  The first fifteen minutes were poor as United controlled possession but had no final product.  To make things worse, Hernandez went down with what looked like a sprained ankle.  (Soccernet reported that he may miss a month with ligament damage.)  Then, out of nowhere, the Reds combined crisply and quickly, with Nani crossing in for Jones to side foot home.  The game descended back into dreck, with further injuries to Bent and Given (who had to subbed) leading to eight minutes of injury time.

The second half was more of the same—nap inducing.  Villa saw more of the ball and surprisingly the introduction of Heskey added to their efforts.  The game continued to be disjointed with more stoppages due to injuries to Jenas and Ferdinand.  Rooney continued to struggle in front of goal, missing a half volley from just a couple of yards out and waiting too long to play in Welbeck.

So no further goals and 1-0 to the Arsenal, I mean United.  History tells us the narrow victories before the turn of the year will set up a surge in the second half of the season, but the narrowness of the margins and the success of City make that possibility less and less likely.

And for what it’s worth, I’m ready for the Patrice Evra Era to be over at United. Since the 2010 World Cup, his form has been awful.  Gets forward but doesn’t create much; gets caught out of position; and makes rash challenges with puts pressure on the defense.  I don’t know what his contract situation is (note: signed four  year deal earlier this year) but Fergie needs to move him on in the summer.

I have started reading The Republik of Mancunia blog.  Scott the Red had these comments after the game.  He was surprisingly complimentary of Carrick.  Might have to give him a second look.

As for the FCB game, more to come on my Morbo Minute post.


Other Stuff

The Men in Blazers podcast is really growing on me.  The last episode recapped the previous week’s action, which included Hotspur Tottenham’s great form and the possibility of City being found (Norwichdidn’t get the memo).  They also talked about the nature of fandom, about being totally committed heart and soul.  I used to be a true supporter of certain teams and sports, but not so much these days.  More to come on that in the future.  Finally they interviewed Stu Holden, who gave his comments on his rehab, the USMNT and his future as a player.  Again, strongly encourage this podcast for humor, commentary and soccer culture.

Paolo Bandini examined Luis Enrique’s tough start to Serie A management.  Not sure if he will last the season, with a heavy defeat next Monday against Juventus possibly being the last straw.

I listened to the latest World Football Phone In on Monday’s drive.  The panel hit the following topics:

  • Quick thoughts on Euro 2012 and future expansion of the tournament.
  • Quality Youth Acadamies around the world (Santos, Sporting Lisbon, Ajax).
  • The Colombian side of 1994 and the fall out from their failure.
  • The set up of the Brazilian Championship (State League in the first half of the year; National Championship in the second half of the year).

EURO 2012 stuff

Jonathan Wilson gave his view on the Euro 2012 draw, stating that the Group B (Holland,Germany,Portugal,Denmark) may be the toughest group ever.  Hard to argue that. Spain’s group will be tricky is well, with all three teams (Italy,CroatiaandIreland) posing credible threats to the European and World Champions. Englandwill fail.  Sorry.  They barely made it out of a relatively group at the World Cup and with Rooney gone until the knockout, they will probably heroically bow out in the third group game.

Speaking of each group’s difficultly, someone I follow on twitter re-tweeted this post using statistics to determine how tough each group is.  Not sure I completely understand it, but you will get the idea.

Little light this week and will probably continue to be so as life is taking over.

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