Old Futbol Buffet–Long Live the King
Eric Cantona signed 20 years ago for Manchester United. I wasn’t even following football at the time, so my first real memory of him was the 1994 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, with my favorite recollection of the Frenchman being the 1996 FA Cup Final goal struck in the dying moments against Liverpool. Watching the match on replay at my parents, I screamed in ecstasy as the ball found its way into the back of the net. Props to Anton Alfy for putting a video of all 82 goals that Cantona scored for Manchester United. Well worth 15 minutes of your time. Viva Le Roi!!
Robert Meakin led the tribute to Cantona on last week’s Manchester United Redcast. After breaking down the win over QPR, he looked at possible winger replacements as Nani will surely be off in January and Young has struggled to find form. Cantona’s impact on the club was discussed before moving on Fergie and how long he has at the club and who could replace him? (Pep and Mourinho were mentioned.)
Speaking of Fergie, Roger Bennett posted on ESPN FC regarding the recent Harvard Business School report on Sir Alex, noting that the secrets to his success are building a foundation, maintaining control, evolving with the times, and evaluating talent. Would love to get a copy of that.
As for the current United team, a crazy first half saw seven goals in 34 minutes, as the Red Devils went into half time up 4-3. That ended up being the final score in a game that was full of incident. Due to supporting my kid’s school, I was working in a concession stand and missed the brouhaha.
Daniele at Red Rants watched another sloppy performance from the United rearguard, and only a strong and swift response from the team earned the Reds the three points. As he pointed out in his post game notes:
Sure they score goals for fun and they’ve mastered the old club tradition of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat – United have fallen behind 14 times in 22 games this season – but thinking that the “you score four, we score five” approach could possibly lead to a title, is at best naive and at worst downright deluded.
MLS Cup Final
After watching a couple of La Liga games, I was able to see the second half of the MLS Cup. The Galaxy took the game to the Dynamo, with Gonzalez equalizing and then LA taking the lead after Clark handled in the box. Donovan converted and eventually the breakaways paid off as Hall tried to haul down Keane, who kept his feet but the referee pointed to the spot again. The Irishman scored the spot kick this time to give the Galaxy a 3-1 win and second MLS Cup win in a row.
A couple of thoughts:
- Ricardo Clark is awful.
- Not sure if Lalas shaving his mustache at halftime is the grossest or awesomest thing ever.
- Houston’s jerseys looked like they were claimed from a Goodwill sale. I thought sublimation was left back in the 90’s. SB Nation’s Dynamo page posted the particulars on the shirt. (Rays and energy. Seriously?)
- Mad props to Donovan for dedicating his goal to a Make A Wish family. No way I would have even thought of that in the aftermath of a Cup victory.
- The MLS ball reeked of bargain bin quality.
- Tally is not a name. It’s a hunting cry.
The panel on the SI Soccer Roundtable (11/29) discussed the chapter that is ending with Beckham’s farewell and the future of the league as a whole. Really brought the last five years of the league into the focus.
Articles and Podcasts
Bira Brasil was Beyond the Pitch in the aftermath of Mano Menezes being axed as Brazil boss. Bira handicapped the challengers and thought that Tite and Ramalho would be chosen ahead of former coach and World Cup Winner Luiz Felipe Scolari. In the end Big Phil was chosen. Can he regroup the team ahead of a home World Cup? Watch this space.
Tim Vickery was on the Off the Ball last Wednesday to discuss the dismissal as well, blaming politics for the departure of Menezes. Brazil is at a crossroads, having to choose between reclaiming their heritage or continuing with the current over physical, counter attacking approach. With the reappointment of Scolari the latter has been chosen, and his task will be build another “family” and lead the Seleção to glory on home soil.
News of an expanded 64 team Champions League hit the interwebs last week leading to the usual moaning and groaning from fans and media. I think Iain Macintosh’s post on ESPN FC was spot on, identifying the old adage—follow the money. The loss of the European Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners Cup has brought the game to the point where undoing the last 20 years is impossible. The fact that this year’s Champions League Group Stages have been interesting just masks the fact that usually they aren’t and that 16 groups of four teams will be super tedious. If only the group winner progressed, there might be some value, but inevitably the current 16 team knockout will morph into the 32 team knockout, which will start earlier and earlier into each new year, packing the fixture list even more. This is a horrible idea and will hopefully kill the golden goose, so that real reform can happen. Doubt it.
Staying with Europe, Christoph recounted German football during the 1970’s on his blog, An Old International. He recapped the bribery scandal early in the decade, which affected the image of the emerging league but also allowed the country to move forward. This release led to unprecedented success for clubs and the national team. Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach dominated the league, winning eight of the 10 domestic titles, and also conquered Europe with Die Roten winning three European Cups and BMG winning two UEFA Cups. Plus the Nationalmannschaft won the 1972 European Championship and then claimed the 1974 World Cup before losing out to Czechoslovakia in the 1976 European Championship Final. Great read and thanks to Peter Alegi for the link.
Finally, Matt Reece, a fellow member of Mid Michigan United shared this amazing freestyling video on my Facebook timeline. After watching it, a couple of things struck me. 1. Mind blowing skills, but it does sort of come across as someone with too much free time. 2. I only take my clothes off for the ladies and never in public. 3. What the Michael Jackson song??? Anyway give it watch and see if you can even do one thing that guy did.