Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Farlie on Footie, Column The Beginning

photo by Jamiesrabbitsvia PhotoRee

At the urging of my friend Ed, I have decided to devote some of the little free time I have in my daily activities to blogging about the world's favorite game (and I don't mean the NFL).  Soccer, or more to the point, football.  Primarily EPL, but with a smattering of witty (some may even say snarky) observations about La Liga, the Serie A, UEFA Champions League, FIFA World Cup, Euro Qualifying and more thrown in for fun (who know, maybe even the Bundesliga?!)  So from this (very) humble beginning, we'll embark on a journey into the unknown (probably a trip to nowhere, but you never know).  I finally feel as if I have joined the digital revolution in full.

For my first column, I'll focus on my beloved Red Devils of Manchester, England.  If this blog lasts more than a day or two, my bias toward all things United will become readily apparent.  Suffice it to say in short that I came down with a case of Red Devil fever about a decade ago, and my condition has steadily deteriorated from there.

We'll begin farlie on footie with a celebration of the many talents of Dimitar Berbatov.  To me, Berba's talent seemed readily apparent whenever I laid eyes on him, but to many of the Manchester United faithful he was derided and dismissed as lazy and indifferent (in fact, come to think of it, indifferent was probably one of the nicer things said about his approach to the game).  I read this morning that never has a star player had the syllables in his name replaced with the word "flop" so many times as the cunning Bulgarian (Flopitar Flopitov, anyone? Dimiflop Berbaflop?).  But not for me.  I went out of my way last year on many occasion to praise Berba's silky smooth style of playing.  I mean, c'mon -- let's examine the facts: the guy's first touch is unparalleled in the EPL,  his vision is second to none (ok, maybe Paul Scholes!), and he can do things technically with a soccer ball that other players only dream about.... 

But not only did Berba fall out of favor with many of United's fans last year, but in my opinion he did so with Sir Alex, as well.  Look it up: any big game (non-Bolton, Wigan or Burnley) lineup that Sir Alex opted to play had only the lone striker up top, which position was invariably occupied by a certain Wayne Rooney. I can maybe understand the strategy in Champions League, with a more conservative approach ensuring a team will not get run over on its various European travels, but in the domestic competition, in which United had only Chelsea to be truly concerned with, I just flat out didn't get it.  How could Berba, with his guile and magical touch, be sitting on the bench for big game after big game....?  In fact, I didn't get it so much that I repeatedly started him in my fantasy football league only to be miserably disappointed in seeing him stare placidly ahead from the bench as he sat out yet another game.

In truth, after being repeatedly left out of the lineup, his confidence suffered, and when he had to lead the line (I'm thinking back painfully to the game against Blackburn toward season's end) he didn't produce much.

But oh what a difference a year -- and some confidence -- makes.  The goals scored by Berbatov on Sunday were stupendous -- the 2nd one almost ridiculous in its audacity (the Audacity of Goals, perhaps?).  Singlehandly willing United to win against the team's biggest (historical) rival?  Who would've thunk it?  I certainly didn't -- and thus didn't get his many points for my Fantasy team, but that's a column for another day.

Enuf said for the start; in the words of Arnold, "I'll be back."  And that's farlie on footie for September 21, 2010.

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