Archive | May, 2010

Rabbi Mourinho

31 May


Perhaps his personal note went something like this:

God,

We both know I am special. I am champion. People call me cocky, disrespectful, arrogant, narcissist. Can you strike lightning on them? It hurts my feelings. I have new job in Madrid – but I hate paella. What do I eat? Maybe you can send special meals to my home.

O no I am late for penis snipping! They ask me to mo’yel. Come to games, I give you seat beneath me.

I love you,

Jose

Friday Brain Dump

28 May

Heading into the long Memorial Day Weekend, here’s some things to hold you over until Tuesday (*we are only 14 days away from the World Cup!!)

- EURO 2016Congratulations to France for being awarded the 2016 Euro Cup. This will also mark the inaugural year of expansion from 16 to 24 teams in the tournament. Some would argue this dilutes arguably the most talented of tournaments when looking at the strength of participating teams top to bottom. Well, of the 8 other teams who would have qualified in Euro 2008 under the future system, 3 are in this year’s World Cup (which for a single continent is very impressive). The remaining 5 teams have an average FIFA ranking of 36 – a very admirable average indeed.

Look, every tournament is going to have it’s bottom feeders. This World Cup features North Korea, New Zealand, and hosts South Africa (average FIFA ranking of 91). You also have Algeria, Honduras, Slovenia, and Japan — by no means pushovers but these guys are expected to simply take points from the best teams, not get out of the groups. So if you’re going to complain about the “sanctity” of the European Championships being tarnished, give it a break. If Greece could pull that crap in Euro 2004, then adding more teams down the road can only serve to make the tournament more exciting.

- USE YOUR BALLS ON AND OFF THE PITCH- Argentina manager Diego Maradona will allow his players to have sex at the World Cup, but cigar smoking and champagne are strictly off limits. I’ve got no complaints with this whatsoever. To Martin Palermo, Messi, Demichelis, Tevez, and the rest of the lot, try and stay focused. You still have games to play.

- BEST WORLD CUP GOALS OF 2006

- THIS IS PERHAPS WORSE THAN MISSING A DUNK

- TALLEST MEN IN FOOTBALL: With Birmingham City’s recent purchase of Nikola Zigic from Valencia for £6m, the Serbian center forward becomes the tallest player in the English Premiere League at 6’8. Here’s a look at some other goons whose childhood dreams of being the next Andre the Giant took a different course:

Kristof Van Hout – 6’10: His attempts to be Ivan Drago were shot down

Peter Crouch - 6’7: He may give Gumby a run for his money, but this lankster with 95 career goals on the club level (not to mention 21 in 38 appearances for England) rank him as the best of the best of the giants. Um, his fiance ain’t too bad either…

Jan Koller - 6’7: This monster’s size often works against him. Jump to the video.

Zeljko Kalac - 6’7: Greetings from down under.

C’mon ESPN, get it right for South Africa

27 May

A few things struck me as I watched ESPN’s broadcast of the U.S. vs Czech Republic in a friendly on Tuesday evening – actually only 1. American broadcasting of soccer games is HORRENDOUS, even if it’s simply the color man in the booth. Poor Adrian Healey – a class act that I commend ESPN for bringing in. What was going through his mind sitting next to John Harkes for 90 minutes is beyond me.

In case you missed the game, there was this: that doofus John Harkes commented in the first half that 4-5 spots were still up in the air (as depth on the bench, but nevertheless a ticket to South Africa), and that Bradley would be taking a close note of the evening’s performances, which would heavily weigh on his decision. Fast forward to the second half. Harkes followed that up by saying the game was a formality. It didn’t matter who had played well. Bradley made up his mind before the opening whistle.

Call me picky. Tell me I’m reading too much into it. But I love this sport too much to ignore the fact that American broadcasting of the national team is holding the game back in this country for the neutral fan. We can divide this country into 2 groups: the uneducated sports fans (those that use thunder sticks or clappers, wear the same color in arenas) and the educated sports fans (everyone else, and I’ll throw in the rally towels). But one thing both groups value above all else when they can’t see a game live, is that the man they are listening to on TV is a knowledgeable professional for that sport. A self-deprecating man who can appeal to any level of fan. It’s why we all love the team of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson during the playoffs. And why we HATE Joe Buck and Tony Kornheiser during his stint on MNF. Soccer is not our sport. As a result, the rambling idiots who call it in this country don’t know how to do it. BUT THAT’S OK.

ESPN has already brought in Martin Tyler for the entirety of the World Cup (they even gave the man his own commercial!!). Do us all a favor, put Andy Gray next to him or some other Brit. There is no shame in making the World Cup the best possible experience for American viewers – even if it means leaving the Yanks out of the booth.

Landon Donovan ESPN Sportscenter commercial

27 May

http://www.youtube.com/v/J19-ROSfwY8&hl=en_US&fs=1

The myth about Tim Tebow’s girlfriend

27 May

I’m sure all of you have seen the above picture of Tim Tebow and his “girlfriend.” While it’s practically impossible to make eye contact with her (in case you need some help), I happened to fall upon an exciting tidbit.

That young lady in the bottom right with the string and pieces of brown cloth covering her kids, is the great Lucy Pinder – the newly crowned best British Breasts by The Sun.

Let’s give her a round of applause for this well deserved honor.
(What does this have to do with soccer? Absolutely nothing of course. I just wanted to give you a taste of one of the many great qualities of European media apart from its soccer reporting)

Finally, a worthy adversary

26 May

So Jose Mourinho is on his way to Spain. And in case you were wondering about Manuel Pellegrini, don’t worry. Mr. Perez remembered he still had a manager and sacked him this afternoon. Let me digress for a moment to clarify something regarding the title of this very first blog of mine. I do not want anyone to think for a second that Pellegrini was not a worthy adversary. I have always respected and admired his managerial style especially with Villareal, where he implemented a Wenger-like, quick passing, possesion style of play. He brought Real Madrid to an unprecedented finish of 96 points. Going into the final day of the season, Real had won 18 of 19 games giving Barcelona no chance to slip up. But 2 losses to their arch rivals, and a 6th consecutive exit in the round of 16 in the Champions League buried any chance of his return. It wasn’t enough, and in some ways, you always knew whatever he accomplished wouldn’t be.

Now they’ve got their man. The “Special One.” 8 years, 3 clubs, 18 trophies: 2 champions league titles, league cups, national cups, and the list goes on. Arguably the most feared, arrogant, self-centered, successful manager in the game. It’s no wonder he is the perfect match for the most arrogant, self-centered, successful club team in European history. Now let’s be careful when we call this group a team. Anyone who watched Real Madrid play this season witnessed an often gut wrenching display of individualism and miscommunication. Sure they got the results and plenty of goals – but the manner in which these results were achieved was almost impossible to watch for a full 90 minutes.

All that is going to change. Of the many things Mourinho excels at, perhaps his greatest strength is his ability to create a cohesive unit. His teams are always the most disciplined – keeping their shape in defense and attack. They play as he manages with a fearlessness and sense of entitlement. And when you look at this team, it is the one thing they’re missing. I’m not saying Real Madrid didn’t step into every game this past season against the minnows of La Liga and didn’t think they could win. On the contrary. However, you never saw that confident edge. 4-1 scorelines hid the fact that the game was 1-1 though 70 minutes. A confident team with that firepower should be up 4-1 at halftime.

Mourinho brings everything Madrid lack. He tore apart my beloved Barcelona in the Champions League with ease (and quite frankly, beating Barcelona or any other European powerhouse is what Madrid lack at the moment). He has won at every team he’s managed and is looking to be the first manager in history to win the Champions League with 3 different clubs. His ego is his strength. And Madrid will love him for it.

Mourinho is not a worthy adversary not for his past success or because he’s earned my respect. Rather, he has manifested in me a level of fear I have never experienced with any other team I support in any sport. A fear that the only man who can bring my club’s sworn and most hated enemy to glory is now in place. A fear that the only man who has proven he can dismantle my team on the pitch now manages that Madridista scum. And for that, there can be no more worthy an adversary than Jose Mourinho.

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