|photo by p_a_h
Just a quick editorial aside to make room for the latest news before today's blog. I think all regular readers of the blog will recognize that I'm biased (see yesterday's blog entry for an example), so take it for what you want.
The headlines out of Manchester and London were consumed yesterday with the news of Carlos Tevez' written demand to leave Manchester City during the January transfer window. I won't re-hash old news except to say "I told you so." The guy is a malcontent from the word "Go," and one of those types for whom the grass is always greener somewhere else. Call me slow, but I realized this when United gave Tevez (or his agent, the ultra-shady Kia Joorabchian) his ostensible asking price, only to be repaid with a refusal to sign and a move across town. As far as I'm concerned, it's good riddance to Tevez, and Sir Alex has once again proved why he's among the smartest minds in world football. See ya later, Carlos; enjoy playing for Boca Juniors, and we'll see you in 'El Superclasico' real soon.
I spent the better part of my day going from football match to football match today; most of the games I saw happened to be in the Premier League, but not all of them. In fact, the most special game I witnessed took place in the middle of my day, but I'll come back to that a little later.
First of all, the facts, plain and #simples, as they say: it may be cold wherever you're reading this, but in South Florida it's all sunny blue sky and 71 degrees (21.6 degrees celsius, for those of you scoring from England). Nice and cool in the shade, but a bit hotter out in the sun. All in all, though, not too shabby for a mid-December Saturday; kind of puts you in the Christmas mood....
Unlike many of you, we get our games in the morning and early afternoon over here in the eastern part of the US. So it's often wake up for breakfast, turn on the tv, and start watching to begin the weekend. Because there was no noon-time GMT kickoff today, I got to sleep in, and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and quick read of the papers before the action got rolling.
To begin the day I managed to catch about a quarter of Bayern Munich's game against St. Pauli (somwhat confusingly, I thought St. Pauli was a beer, and not a football club based in Hamburg; I guess you really do learn something new each day). I managed to catch just enough of the game to whet my appetite for EPL football, but when I saw Bastian Schweinsteiger's fine layoff lead to an early goal for the men from Munich, it made it all that much more bitter when I read the news later in the day that Schweini had signed a five year extension to stay at Bayern. I was genuinely hoping he'd end up in Manchester by summer's end.
By 10am EST, though, I was flipping back and forth between West Ham vs. Man City and Sunderland vs. Fulham. The latter was complete snoozefest: I'm not sure all 22 players on the pitch were aware there was a game was being contested. Fulham certainly didn't show any fear of the drop zone; in fact, the leisurely stroll they played at for most of the match indicated they were quite comfortable with their position in the league table.
And while City looked the more dangerous side over the course of their match with West Ham, the Hammers were just beginning to play their way into it when a snooded Toure Yaya (I wonder if he knows his name is backward on his jersey?) took the wind out of the Londoners' sails (Editorial aside: can Hammers have sails?). I didn't see the potential hand ball in the box that might have led to a Hammers' comeback, but neither did referee Phil Dowd. My excuse is better than his, though; while he was in the middle of the pitch, I had already left the game to watch an even better one: my son's.
I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that they played some good youth soccer -- er, football. The skill level this year has begun to ratchet up, and the boys only look like they're in a rugby scrum about half the time as they learn to spread out rather than crowd the ball. A late winner gave my son's side the deserved 2-1 victory in a match that both teams contested as hard as the men I had seen on television earlier in the morning.
And in a snippet that might make an Englishman shake his head in wonder, there was knowledgeable banter in the stands among several of the parents about English football: one bemoaning the fate of his beloved QPR yesterday, another remarking on his DVR working overtime to make sure he was going to see Blackpool take on Stoke City at the Brittania. Americans have come a long way since our only access to the game was "Soccer Made in Germany."
By the time I arrived back home after the ticker-tape victory parade -- just kidding -- Liverpool and Newcastle were halfway done. I grabbed a late lunch and cracked a beer just in time to see Liverpool begin the second half with gusto. Lunch was long gone, though, and so was Liverpool when the fabulously named Nile Ranger was introduced and began to give the Scousers all they could handle.
Andy Carroll and Joey Barton also began to take their toll on the "lesser" Reds, and Newcastle had completely outmuscled a befuddled Liverpool 3-1 by game's end. While Uncle Roy could only rub his face in utter disgust at the sight of his listless and lackluster squad, embattled Newcastle owner Mike Ashley rubbed his hands in glee as if he'd just hit the lottery jackpot. Which he may have done, at least for the day.
This is farlieonfootie reporting what I said, did and saw for December 13.
Game Day Beer Review: Brouwerij Bavik Wittekerke Framboise (4.30% ABV). Pours a palish pink grapefruit-like shade of red, with a small one-fingered head that lingers for just a moment. Smell is sweet raspberries and ripe red fruit. Taste is sweet but not cloying, with malty highlights in the middle and a puree of raspberry to finish. A refreshing drink for a hot summer day, although not particularly "beer-y" or sessionable due to sweetness. B