Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Column Three: Who Loves Ya, Bebe?!

Random Thoughts from tonight's League Cup Match featuring Manchester United vs Scunthorpe:

Bebe!  United's most intriguing signing of the summer finally entered a first team game in the 74th minute as a repacement for Park Ji-Sung.  Or Ji-Sung Park.  Depending on who you are talking to.  Or whether or not you're in Korea.  I've never gotten his name straight, and I'm a professional fan.  Do not attempt to pronounce it at home.  One thing I do know is that the tv announcers (presenters, I think the Brits call them) pronounced his name one way for a few years, and then switched it around to the other way a couple of years ago-- I just don't remember which one is currently in style.  I do know that Park sells alot of United t-shirts in Asia, though, and that very few players work harder on the pitch than he does.

Anyway, back to Bebe.  You remember him, don't you?  From the Portuguese Homeless World Cup team?  Still not ringing a bell?  Wut?  You mean you didn't know Portugal fielded a Homeless World Cup team, or even that there was Homeless World Cup?  Well neither did I, until I read about it this summer when Manchester United sensationally signed their homeless superstar out of virtual thin air.  I guess the tv viewership  for the HWC must be fairly low almost by definition, because if the participants are homeless, they probably aren't big owners of televisions, either.   Apparently no one knows about it, and this allowed United to sign our potential superstar for only 7 million pounds, which could -- or could not -- be a bargain.  We'll see.

In any event, back to Bebe -- he made his debut tonight!  I'm kind of sad he had to lop off the dreadlocks, though.  It must be true: United really ARE the Yankees of the EPL -- instead of no facial hair, though, they appear to have a no dreadlock policy.  Guess we won't be recruiting heavily in Jamaica, although I do know famed sprinter Usain Bolt (what a great name for a track star!) is a huge United fan, so maybe he can convince promising footballers in the Islands that it's worth it to shave their head to play for United.

So Bebe entered the game and no sooner did he do so than a naked man ran onto the pitch.  Seriously.  You can't make this stuff up.  Stopped the game for a minute or two, because no one wanted to tackle him.   Don't blame them, really.  But soon enough Bebe had a good touch or two, nothing spectacular.  Then the game was over.  Certainly not reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo's debut against Bolton in 2003 (watch this if you want to see how to make a debut: Cristiano Ronaldo's Debut Match Against Bolton).  Can't wait to see what Bebe can do as his United career begins, but I didn't really get a good sense of him tonight.  Guess I'll have to wait for the next League Cup match to see him again.  Let's mark his grade down tonight as an "incomplete" and come back to him again in a future column.

* You know it's a sign you've been watching too much of a sport when you know the referees by sight.  Hello, Mike Dean.  I still hate you for costing Manchester United the EPL title last year.  Yes, when you neglected to see Didier Drogba in an offside position of at least a yard, it cost us not only a game but the overall EPL title, as well.  Not that it was anything big, of course.  It also personally cost me a uniform, because that's what I had to buy my friend Telly when Chelsea won the title and I lost our bet (guess who I was backing?).  I thought cheekily about putting Mike Dean's name on the back of Telly's uniform, to mark it like a Scarlet Letter, but quickly came to my better senses.  I am glad, though, to see that the people who oversee the EPL have thought enough of Mike Dean to "promote" him to refereeing important League Cup matches in front of 9,000 rabid fans versus the boring league-deciding matches he used to ref in front of 75,000.  I'm sure he's pleased, as well.

What is it with Claret and Blue?  In fact, what is it with claret?  I thought that was a type of wine, not a color.  I mean, I know the Brits like their wine (in fact, maybe all of their liquor), but is there really such little originality across the pond that seemingly 50% or more of the teams wear claret and blue uniforms?  Villa, West Ham, Burnley, and now I find Scunthorpe all appear to wear the same uniform.  Perhaps they get volume discounts.  Seriously, though, it's as if the Cards, Yanks, A's and Toledo Mud Hens all wore the exact same color pattern.  Is it just me, or is this slightly weird?!  And don't even bother to get me started on the fact that the Brits don't actually call them uniforms, they call them "kits."  And horizontal stripes are called "hoops." I know this because it's how my friend Telly described -- in luxurious detail --  the type of uniform he wanted me to buy for him when I lost the bet.  Thanks again, Mike Dean. 

Michael Owen is back.  Seriously.  Two goals tonight -- a brace.  Yes, the second was basically bundled into the net, but the first was pure Owen, as only he can do.  Still has a good burst of speed, and always puts himself into a good position according to SAF (that's Sir Alex Ferdinand, the coach of United, for you newbies).  First goals in a long time for Owen, but I'll take them.  I'm glad to see him score. He's been kind of the forgotten man among the United strikers this year, so it's nice to see him open his account; we'll need it as we get deeper into the season.  I do know one thing: depth at striker NEVER hurts.

SAF was in Spain tonight?  Skipped the game to scout Valencia, who United play in the Champions League next week, and left the Assistant Coach, Mike Phelan, in charge.  Seriously?  That's how little respect we have for Scunthorpe?  Can you imagine the conversation before the game?: "I'm sorry guys, but our coach couldn't make it tonight -- he had to go watch someone we play next week....  Umm, but he said to say hello."  Maybe I'm confused, but that's what I thought "scouts" were for.  In any event, Fergie knows best, as he has proved time and time again, and the scoreline proved him right again tonight.  United 5 - Scunthorpe 2.  And that's farlieonfootie for today, September 23.

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