Friday, 25 June 2010

INTO THE KNOCK OUT ROUND!


So the final sixteen teams have been determined and the weekend is filled with fantastic knock out football in which every side has just the one option; to go for it. No need therefore to scratch our heads therefore as to why England players and media are all over the topic of penalty shoot outs.

I think Germany-England will be the tie of the round given the history around it and the all too juicy build up that the English media will provide.
Forget Spain's demise at the hands of the Swiss, Italy's unprecedented exit from the competition has been the shock of the tournament so far. Thankfully they did that after providing us with what for me is the game of the competition so far.

Toasts to Slovakia, Japan and South Korea for defying odds and making the final 16. A few people have become richer after backing them.

Manchester United. Paul Scholes plans to call it a day after next season. Fingers crossed that he'll do so with a 10th league medal around his neck.
Sir Alex has once again spoken rosy about the Glazers whilst recognising the fans' right to protest against the ill-management of the club. I do feel that it might take an almighty poor season before we can eventually push the Glazers out. United's relatively healthy position at the moment in terms of success is what might still be keeping everything on ice.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

IN THE END, ALL WAS WELL


So after giving the media something to slap them with, England eventually made into the last 16 of the World Cup. It wasn't anything like the performance you would expect form them but I guess they'd all take it anytime given what was at stake.
The USA I thought deserved to top the group. They do not necessarily have the world superstars that England have but they do look like a team--more of a team than France anyway.

So what a weekend in prospect. Its England v Germany in the Round of 16. That eternal rivalry will hold up a new chapter soon. If I were Fabio Capello, I would practice those penalties. If I were Mr. Loew, I would sit back with legs cross legged on a table.

As an aside, I think football scouts would be blind not to inquire about that German ace Ozil--not that I think United will. After failing to land neither of Joe Cole nor David Silva its bleak now for us. We'll get to terms with what we've missed in David Silva when he lines up against us for Manchester City.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

AND THE FIRST EVICTEES ARE...


France, South Africa, Greece and Nigeria. The French have been, for lack of a better word, pathetic at these finals. It's not that we expected that much from them at the start since they made the mistake of sacking their coach even before the tournament began, but as deputy' World Champions, an appearance in the next round would have drawn much less criticism than the French media will throw at them tomorrow morning. Internal unrest has been well documented so their failure in South Africa was more like an accident waiting to happen.

The hosts eventually paid for their heavy defeat against Uruguay, bowing out despite picking up four points. They are now the first hosts to exit at the first round.

Nigeria will be thankful that they have left a mark on the tournament. Yakubu was the architect of the Miss of the Tournament today against South Korea. You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger blooper in World Cup History.

It's getting fun now. Four teams exiting per day!

As far as the club are concerned, reports suggest that Manchester United are not interested in signing free agent Joe Cole. That would be gutting news for some fans.
The manager has also expressed his congratulations for Hernandez after scoring the opening goal for Mexico against France.

THE RED CARD EPIDEMIC


It started off as a joke on twitter but now I mean it; we can't watch a World Cup game without a sending off. I mean you would be hard pressed to remember a world cup fixture among the few we've had that was free of any sending off.
I mean even Kaka (Saint Kaka) is now being sent off. At this rate, we'll witness a new record for highest number of red cards in a finals tournament.

The Ivory Coast ad Brazil was one of those games that you thought was ripe with headlines for the press. It was hyped as a potential modern day classic. Thankfully for once, the form book went according to plan and by half time, you could have put your house on the Brazilians to see it through.
The group of death is widely accepted as that involving Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast. What's fascinating though is that there are just about six other groups of death that look more tighter than the said group above. I mean Italy, England and Spain are going into their third games of would be easy groups without being certain of progress.
In fact, anything bar a win in their final group games could see all those three powers go home on the same day as DPR Korea et all.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

A LITTLE MORE SHAPE!


The world cup is getting a bit more shape. We now know one or two sides that mean business, and one or two sides that will be back home by next week. Having said all that, a lot still remains to be desired of contenders England, Italy, Spain, Germany and add whichever I've forgotten.

The Dutch are so far Europe's leading team--joining Argentina in the last 16 and boy have they made light work of their task. Ghana, incredibly failed to beat 10 man Australia but still lead their group ahead of Germany can you believe. It bodes for a mouthwatering game between the two next week.
Cameroon had as many chances as we have seen this entire world cup so far but only took one hence their defeat to Denmark and their exit from the big stage.

As an aside, I wonder whether matches without red cards are a thing of the past. I've lost count of how many red cards have been dished out so far. I'm thinking FIFA should strip the refs of those red manilas--just for the sake of it!

FORM BOOK RIPPED APART!


So Germany go into their game against Serbia hopping to show the world another glimpse of the attacking master class that we saw against Australia but boy they wouldn't have dreamed of what the script had for them. A first defeat in the Group stages of the world cup since 1986 and a penalty miss (yes it's headline stuff when Germany miss a penalty).

The United States of America rightfully thought that England would be the toughest opposition they'd face in Group C. At half time, Slovenia led them 2-0. Unfortunate not to have won the game in the end but given where they came from, I think they'll take the point.

Then mighty England 'won' their game at the press conference against Algeria. Interestingly Rooney claimed that an under-par England would beat the Africans but boy was he off target with that remark Another poor display from England means that the media will have yet another field day tomorrow and that should just about continue till their final group game.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

HERNANDEZ LANDS THE SUCKER PUNCH!


There was inevitably going to be a match at the World Cup where two United players would come up against each other. Mexico and France was that game. At a point when it seemed as though both teams were devoid of the cutting edge, up popped Javier Hernandez, from the bench, to break the deadlock. Pat wouldn't have been pleased with that but all who support United must have jumped at the sight of Chicharito creating for himself an open goal.

Park didn't fare well today against the Argies so it was a case of reversed roles for the two United players after the opening round of games.
As far as the odd game of the day went, I thought Nigeria pressed the self-destruct button in their 2-1 defeat against Greece that I think will prove very costly in the end.
In fact, I think South Africa, Nigeria, and France might as well start packing their bags.

In England meanwhile, the 2010/11 EPL fixtures were released today. United kick off the season against new boys Newcastle United at home and end the season at home to Blackpool.
It's a rather tough looking program at the start of the season with games against Everton and the traditionally difficult trip to Craven Cottage. We've got back to back games against Arsenal and Chelsea in December and during the title run in.
Ultimately, the true test of the games will be revealed when the Champions League fixtures and opposition are announced as well.

That ought to be just about it today; Cheers!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

NOT ALL'S WELL IN SOUTH AFRICA!


The title of this post is not to suggest that anything is wrong with the organisation of the World Cup or anything, rather that today has produced one or two results that have sent shock waves through the footballing world.

But first; Manchester United. Chiellini is the name being flashed in all the papers linking him to United. The deal will apparently be in light of the inevitable departure of Nemanja Vidic. I think its all part of contract negotiations at his club; a means of getting a better deal for him.
The 2010/11 league fixtures will be thrown up by the fixture computer tomorrow morning. It'll be interesting to mark out the derby days and the title run in fixtures.

Now the world cup today produced its first major shock as European Champions Spain went down 0-1 against Switzerland---just the spice that we needed. It now means they have a back to the wall job till their final group game.
The hosts are almost certainly out after playing poorly and getting beaten by Uruguay. It's hard to take in the fact that Diego Forlan was once a Manchester United player who failed to make the grade. He was all over South Africa today; and I think has delivered the most effective performance by an individual player so far at the World Cup.

It was nice seeing the second round of games starting off with a three goals; long may that continue.

TOSIC LEAVES AS WELL


The club have confirmed that Serbian winger Zoran Tosic has agreed a four year deal with CSKA Moscow.
Zoran's career at United quite simply didn't take off at United. His body physique was certainly not one for a league with the most unforgiving defenders. He's got the potential to be a great player but he was not ready to start from the bottom at Old Trafford; always talking of his desire to play first team football. Sir Alex has got Valencia, Nani, Park, Obertan, as well as Giggs and Hargreaves if you like as options on the midfield flanks.
Wish him well.

Meanwhile over in South Africa, there seems to be a sort of goal drought. It's a bit unusual that we are averaging just a goal a game. Whether that is down to the ball, the pitches, the level of competition, I don't know. Germany put four past Australia----and maybe that was because it was Australia. Italy, Brazil, Portugal, France, England, name it have all found it hard to score for fun so far.
Japan and Cameroon connived to put up a lullaby of a match---I mean Slovakia and New Zealand offered more entertainment and drama.
DPR Korea pulled off the impossible and scored against mighty Brazil. On a serious note, their display against the favourites throws up questions about how they come to be the lowest ranked team in FIFA rankings at the World Cup.

Just about all teams have played a game so far and at the moment, defences are on top. Here's to a major goal rush over the next seven days!
Oh and by the way; forget Maicon's stunning goal, for me the highlight of the world Cup so far is the sight of the DPR Korea striker (Asian Rooney) crying...no, weeping whilst their National Anthem was being played over the Address System. Fell off my seat!
Cheers!

Monday, 14 June 2010

PARK LIGHTS IT UP!


Park Ji Sung became the first United player to really put up a show in South Africa. His well taken goal capped off a fantastic performance for the Korea Republic against Greece. We all know that Park is a hard working player but the entire Korean team seems to be all about it. Given how they performed at the weekend against the former European Champions, they might just be the dark horse.

I said before that games between Nigeria and Argentina always come around at the world cup and that they usually have the same outcome. It could have been worse for the Nigerians had Vincent Enyema (sp) not been up for it. The Nigerian goalie did show European goal keepers one or two ways how to keep out their chief tormentor from finding the net.

England...well, they can thank their lucky stars that the draw was kind enough for them to ensure that they'll progress but if Capello doesn't do something magical about his last line of defence, then they might just as well book an early flight back. Granted, Green's howler is something that can happen to any (England) goalkeeper but at the very highest level of world football, that is what makes the difference.

It's exactly what Serbia found out yesterday after coming to an agreement with Ghana to bore us till the last few minutes.
Thumbs up to the Germans though for the best performance so far at the World Cup. They sent out a statement yesterday to the rest of the contingent--a message that over the next couple of days, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil and Portugal will try to answer.

Friday, 11 June 2010

GROUP A STALE!


As promised earlier, this blog will try its best to kill off the summer boredom by commenting on one or two things about the World Cup especially where United players are concerned.
Day 1 from our perspective was call about Chicharito.

The 21 year old Mexican forward did not start the opening game which means that he still has not made the starting position for his country his own. He did come off the bench though and albeit lively, was failed to curve out a chance for himself. He did have one half chance though but misguided his header way off target. He also failed to make contact with the ball in the cross leading up to Mexico's equaliser--thankfully for him, Rafael Marquez was at hand to finish it off. Hopefully. we'll get to see more of him before Mexico exit the tournament.

It finished 1 all at the opening game and 0-0 between Uruguay and France. It all means that Group A could turn out to be those groups where the calculator will be needed to determine the top two that progress--especially if the next round throws up another stalemate.

If I've got my fixtures right, Park should be the next on the spot as South Korea play Greece in a rather early kick-off tomorrow. Nigeria and Argentina almost always meet at the World Cup and the result is usually the same. The one to watch tomorrow will definitely be the late game between the United States and England.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

ALL THINGS UNITED AHEAD OF SOUTH AFRICA 2010!


A few United players will miss their big time out at the World Cup in South Africa---in fact, many will. It's been more hurting for those who came so close and then something in their bodies snapped at the wrong time.

Last week, we were all still coming to terms with the fact that Rio Ferdinand will miss the tournament because of a knee injury. This week, it's been Nani--another United player to miss outs on football's grandest stage. And so the story goes; Injury has kept Hargreaves, Owen, Anderson, Rio, Nani, Brown, Neville, etc. from the World Cup.

On a positive note though, Patrice Evra has been named France Captain by Raymond Domenech. That means that but for Rio's injury, United would have had a considerable number of players leading their countries at the World Cup. I still think we beat any other club because Pat, Park, and Vida are captains of their national sides. When you add Rio, Fletcher and club captains Neville and Giggs to that list, it makes us a club of captains. That certainly guarantees us continuity at the club.

Finally the Glazer thing is just about at boiling point right now. Season ticket renewals have not gone 'according to plan' and there is talk of a boycott. The Red Knights consortium have promised to restore fans who boycott to their original seats when the pressure eventually forces the Glazers to sell. One can only hope that somebody in that crazy family accepts a bid soon. We cannot afford to start what should be a title winning season in the shape that we are in both on and off the pitch.
LUHG

Saturday, 5 June 2010

HEARTBREAK FOR RIO!


When Rio Ferdinand signed for Manchester United from Leeds, he didn't come as one of those payers that you fear cannot last a season due to injury. It's therefore sad that in the latter part of his career, injuries have really not given him a break. Just when you thought that he was going to fulfill his dream of leading England at the world cup, something else snaps.
Firstly, its a blow for England because I feel that they are better off with their captain than not but most of all, it will take incredible mental strength for Rio to recover from this one. This is way higher than that 8 month ban he suffered in 2005. The player is already considering himself cursed.
Now you do wonder if we shall ever see Rio at his best again. His confidence might have just taken a major blow. Thankfully we have just about the only manager in the world who can help him get over this.