Friday, August 30, 2013

Oh No, Kolo!

Scott is back on the beat for Liverpool:
An exclamation riddled with assonance is the only way to begin after Liverpool's Ivorian tower was stretchered off, with much difficulty by the poor, fluorescently-clad aid workers, during the club's Capital One Cup tie against "lowly" Notts County on Tuesday.  With the cupboard approaching bare as quickly as the transfer deadline day, Brendan Rodgers must now negotiate the likes of the Evil Manchester United Empire on Sunday with his most seasoned defender likely unable to play.  His thin team now having to skip another meal, the skipper must also solve the riddle that is Liverpool's performance in second halves this year.

Stoke City was only one game.  But then Aston Villa turned on the burners last weekend and nearly leveled the score on a then-hapless Liverpool in the second half.  Only Gabby Agbonlahor's profligacy spared the visitors, despite a credible penalty claim in the 90th when Brad Guzan brought down Daniel Sturridge.  And now, after charging out to a well-deserved 2-0 halftime lead over Notts County, the Reds inexplicably let the League One team back into the game and needed extra-time heroics from Sturridge and Jordan Henderson to seal the deal.
Liverpool better solve this riddle before hosting David Moyes and Co. this Sunday or I'll be switching to the consonant form of alliteration and lingering on the 6th letter of the alphabet.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout

(6.9% ABV). Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout was poured from a bomber-sized bottle into a tulip glass at a recent celebratory affair.  The beer poured a thick, dark chocolate color with a massive tan-colored head composed of millions of bubbles of mixed sizes.  As the beer's name implies, this offering from Anderson Valley was aged in bourbon barrels from famed Wild Tuurkey distillery.  The first version of this partnership to be produced is an aged version of the brewer's Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout.

The beer's smell was primarily composed of the malt flavors up front, with just a mild hint of bourbon on the back end. The taste was a luscious chocolate, with the bourbon very mild and saved for an ultra smooth finish -- a finish that was complemented by the rich taste of dark chocolate. The beer's mouthfeel is medium, as is the carbonation. Recommended: A-

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

At Least We've Got a Good Head of Hair: Week 2 in the Barclay's Premier League

Week two is done and dusted, and farlieonfootie's regularly insightful and often irrelevant insights on the Premier League are here for your reading pleasure:

o You've got to hand it to the English, who use their own language better than any other speakers of the mother tongue -- no surprise there, in that they invented it.  But just try to imagine an American broadcaster describing the scene in Cardiff, as the home team walked onto a Premier League pitch for the first time in over 50 years, by saying "[The atmosphere] borders on the febrile." A US announcer talking in such a manner would soon find himself on the unemployment line for "talking over the heads" of his listeners. Instead, we say well done Jon Champion.
On our Shores....the Head of Hair Rules
o Meanwhile, over on our shores.... Does NBC's Kyle Martino have one fine head of hair, or what?! The part alone is worth whatever amount NBC are paying him to offer his opinions on the Barclay's Premier League. But overwhelming evidence to the contrary,  don't confuse Martino with a certain hair obsessed primadonna:  We're willing to bet he doesn't have an assistant whose job is to fluff and heat up his sweaters with a hairdryer so they're just the right temperature....

o And then back to England again: Steve Bruce is looking more like Jabba the Hut every week now.

o If you looked up the term "scrappy" in the dictionary, you couldn't possibly come up with a better definiton than this: a game of football in which Marouanne Chamakh, Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross score all the goals.

o This Spurs side is going to be good this season -- Daniel Levy has bought well -- but at times on Sunday they looked a bit like 11 people who hadn't met each other more than an hour prior to kickoff.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wake Us When it's Over: Player Ratings -- Manchester United 0 - Chelsea 0

photo by Tobyottervia PhotoRee

Chelsea left Old Trafford likely the happier of the two sides yesterday, after parking the bus for 90 minutes and showing little ambition going forward.  Still, a point is  a point, and these kind of results are the ones Mourinho-led teams grind out during the seasonHerewith, our player ratings for a match that failed to live up to its considerable hype:
De Gea: Handled his work comfortably, never under pressure 8.0

Jones: Opened up space offensively but passing accuracy was poor 7.0

Ferdinand: Quiet day, didn't have to sweat 8.0

Vidic: Comfortable day at the office 8.0

Evra: Surged forward often, but without end product 7.0

Valencia: Looked more like the Tony V of old, but still needs to take on opponents in the box 7.5

Carrick: Moved ball around efficiently 8.0

Cleverley: Combined well with Carrick, showed good hustle and drive 7.5

Monday, August 26, 2013

Spurs (and Such)

Ed Composing
photo by Max Braunvia PhotoRee

Ed's got more than a few thoughts on the young season:

o The loss of Willian to Chelsea didn't seem to affect Spurs that much against Swansea yesterday at White Hart Lane.  Unlike in their first game, Spurs out-athleted the Swans AND looked good on the ball.  Capoue was particularly good both on the ball and in defense, allowing Spurs to push both Dembele and Paulinho forward and to play with only one holder, in basically a 4-1-4-1.  This is close to the preferred lineup of AVB, and not surprisingly, of Jose Mourinho.  It simply takes the right person to be that holder, and with both Capoue and Sandro on the roster, Spurs should be able to field this lineup with regularity against teams other than the top four or five.

o For years American fans have questioned the athleticism of European soccer players, that is:  "Wouldn't it be better if the players were bigger and faster?"  Spurs are riding that experiment now, and after the smallest of samples the first reviews are positive.  Dembele, Paulinho, Chadli, Aboue, and Sandro are all big and fast.  They were able to completely stifle the Swansea passing game for most of the match.  Even though United beat this same Swansea team handily, United could barely touch the ball and had no answers to Swansea's position.  Indeed it was merely the supremely talented Van Persie that was the sole difference maker in the sides. Spurs, however, dominated the ball but both struggled to score and were somewhat unlucky to have not scored.  And this remains the deficiency of Spurs -- the lack of a true creative number ten.

o AVB is not unaware of this deficiency, attempting to pull in Willian for £30 million.  But the deal fell through at the last minute when Mourinho gleefully stole him out from under their noses at £32 million. It's fine for Spurs to be angry at Mourinho and Chelsea for this, but frankly they have no argument.  Even if the sole reason that Chelsea stole Willian from Spurs was to keep their rivals (okay too strong a word) from getting him -- as it has been reported that AVB and Mourinho seem to think -- that's still just a whine and not an argument.  If you want to keep Willian, either offer more or convince him that he's not going to play at Chelsea like he will at Spurs.  Or that with him, Spurs have a realistic chance of actually winning the league.  Are they really that far from Chelsea?  I'm starting to think not.  

o It seems now that Spurs are targeting a new number 10.  What's nice about this is that it's clear that AVB understands that Gilfy, though a nice player, is not the solution for a top-tier club at the number 10 position.  He is simply outshined from an athletic standpoint by so many of his teammates.  And while we are celebrating all of these new Spurs and the acumen it took to pick them up, we can't forget Holtby, who frankly has yet to impress and seems now more an extra than anything else.  That said, this transfer period has seemed miles and miles ahead of teams like United (they couldn't use Capoue or Paulinho?), or of course Arsenal, a team that annoys me more each year (there's nothing worse than arrogant mediocrity, it's so. . . . French).  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Bayou Teche Beer Joi Dubbel

(7.50% ABV) Biere Joi was poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a tulip glass at home on a recent Sunday afternoon. The beer appeared a dark brown with tawny highlights, and was accompanied by a head of light chocolate-colored foam that quickly subsided. 

The smell was pure chocolate on the nose, with just a hint of peppery spice. The strong smell of roast coffee was evident, as well: this beer was brewed in partnership with Mello Joy, the original Cajun coffee brand.

The coffee won on the initial tasting, and the savory notes given off by the peppers from Primo's in Lafayette, Louisiana were definitely there in the beer's elegant finish. Biere Joi was not nearly as sweet as the nose would lead one to believe, and the peppers add a very unexpected -- but increasingly welcome -- bit of heat to the finish. 

This is definitely a beer to savor, and one to celebrate the many jois of life with: A  

Friday, August 23, 2013


photo by notsogoodphotographyvia PhotoRee
In which Scott finally exhales:
Simon Mignolet and Asmir Begovic put on a goalkeeping clinic during Liverpool's hosting of Stoke City last Saturday.  After the Belgian initially waffled (tee hee) on a cross that Peter Crouch was able to lay off for Robert Huth to slam against the crossbar in the 8th minute, Liverpool's 'keeper was then solid throughout before foiling Jonathan Walters' attempt from the penalty spot in the game's final moments.  For his part, Stoke's Bosnian only allowed one of Liverpool's 11 shots on goal to escape his considerable reach.
Only once did I seriously question Mignolet and that was when, in the 17th minute, he was far too casual with the ball at his feet and nearly had his clearance snuffed out by the rapidly approaching Stoke forward.  But his save in the 42nd minute on Walters' excellent shot was simply brilliant.  Unfortunately, his efforts were matched at the other end by Begovic who stood up to Jordan Henderson's effort in the 34th minute and somehow reached the youngster's shot in the 63rd minute.  All that before a circus-act save on Steven Gerrard's freekick in the 79th minute.
As a Liverpool fan, the contest was enjoyable and comfortable for most of the game before frustration began to set in later on.  While the final statistics show Liverpool controlled the ball 55% of the time, that's not how the game felt.  Aside from against-the-run-of-play chances, the Reds really bossed proceedings until the final stages.  Even so, they were unable to penetrate the penalty area during the first 10 minutes until Sturridge's first goal was waived off for him being a half-step offside from the freekick.  Minutes later, Kolo Toure announced himself to Anfield with a  banging header from a corner that dented the crossbar.
25 minutes in, Stoke City began to claw their way into the competition but Liverpool were still controlling tempo and possession by winning the ball back remarkably quickly.  In fact, as the game wore on, that was the most noticeable aspect of Liverpool's play.  It was almost as if there were a rule that whoever lost the ball had to sprint and sprint, with those nearest swarming too, until they won it back.  That type of pressure led to Daniel Sturridge being with the ball at the top of the box to score a cracker by 'megging the defender and beating Begovic at the far post.  Sturridge, incidentally, was excellent, running at defenders with the ball, running selflessly without the ball and just generally being a nuisance for Stoke.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Anderson Valley Brother David's Triple Abbey Style Ale

(10.00% ABV) Brother David's poured a cherry reddish brown, with a delicate, fizzy head that dissolved almost instantaneously. Thee beer was poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a chalice at the corporate office during a recent after-hours Friday night boozer.

The beer smelled primarily of yeast and light fruits. Upon tasting, it leads with a banana sweetness that was ultimately followed and smoothed over by a slight maltiness. It's an incredibly smooth offering from one of our favorite -- underrated, as well as understated -- American breweries. A-

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Obsequious Fawning: Week 1 in the Barclay's Premier League

photo by slopjopvia PhotoRee

Week one is in the bag, and farlieonfootie's regularly insightful and often irrelevant insights on the Premier League are back for your reading pleasure:

o Don't know about you, but we were left scratching our collective heads over the style of football that Sparky is attempting to play at Stoke City....  If "no possession and relatively few chances" are what the Potters' owners had in mind when they sacked Tony Pulis in search of a new footballing identity, then we guess they're well on track.

o After watching Sunderland lose at home to Fulham this Saturday, we're wondering if Jozy Altidore will live to regret his move from the Eredivisie to the Prem.  Racking up 30 goals a season will give a striker some confidence, and Jozy's recent play for the US National Team has shown that he was positively coursing with self assurance after his year in Holland. But playing for a Sunderland side that looks as if they could be relegation fodder could have a belief-sapping effect on the young American. Only time will tell, but we're already watching.

o And speaking of Jozy Altidore, his former employer -- the Hull City Tigers, for those paying attention -- were playing the role of sacrificial lambs for the love-in that was Jose Mourinho's to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Looking more toothless than tiger-ish, Hull City showed the drastic gap in talent that often exists between the top teams in the League and those coming up from below.  And Steve Bruce, with his embarassingly obsequious fawning over the 'Happy One,' has just demonstrated once again that all great players do not turn out to make great managers. It's gonna be a long year at Hull.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On Gareth Bale's Impending Departure

photo by paulswansenvia PhotoRee

No one can say we're not right on top of the news -- herewith, some office watercooler talk from earlier this morning:

Ed:  James!  Welcome back -- Long time, no see....  [looks at watch]  The boss told me you'd been off covering the Justin Bieber tour this summer.... [feigns excitement, mimics young girls screaming while waving hands wildly]

James: Yeah -- I had to cut back on that -- I'm more of a part time Belieber these days.  The whole spitting incident really shook me up....  [shakes head sadly].  But it's more than just that -- the whole faux hoodlum thing just isn't my scene, and I didn't have the wardrobe to pull it off completely.   It was fun while it lasted, but I just had to get out eventually.  I'm back on the football these days, for better or worse.  [Looks a bit forlorn]

Say, did you hear the latest? [attempting to cheer himself up]  According to some of my 'in the know' buds on Twitter, Spurs are about to sign Willian and Erik Lamela.  If there were any doubts that Bale is leaving, this would seem to settle it.

farlieonfootie [overhearing conversation from his corner office and butting in]: Plus Coentrao as a makeweight.  I heard the deal is already done and Real has been told to keep it on the down low until Levy gets his other transfer work finished.  Smart guy that Levy.  The Professor could use some of his help.

Maybe Ronaldo heading back to Old Trafford, as well?  One can always dream….

Ed: It's done.  There's more to Bale not playing than a medical issue.  He and Ronaldo are the Bayern model at Real Madrid -  like Ribery and Robben.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Moa Brewing American Pale Ale

Ed's Beer May Be Kiwi, But His Tatstes are Pure American

(5.50% ABV) Life is good as I'm sitting here in sunny San Fran watching the preliminary action for the America's Cup and enjoying some of New Zealand's Moa Pale Ale.  The brewer's flagship beer has an IPA feel, but it's just slightly milder with hints of citrus and sunshine. 
As I drink away, the wind carries some ocean cold over the bay and the youth teams whip by.  In the distance, the Italian entry, the Luna Rosa, goes full bore with it's motor entourage doing their best to keep pace.  These boats are 75 feet long and can move at an astonishing 45 knots as they rise up and literally fly across the bay.
Moa is a nice brew that I would surely try again.  But the brewery and its investors have global ambitions that according to news reports are running into a strong head wind.  Can Moa tack back in the right direction, and keep up with their lofty goals?  Maybe, but distinguishing themselves will be difficult, and as all the racers on the bay know, forcing it is no recipe for taking home the Cup.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Player Ratings: Manchester United 4 - Swansea City 1

photo by lumaxartvia PhotoRee

A rather complete performance from the visitors, winning comfortably at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea to inaugurate the David Moyes era at Manchester United.  Some brief thoughts on the individual performances in what was a comprehensive team victory:

De Gea: Not much to do in the first half, nor much he could have done on Bony's late goal.  Solid 8.0

Evra: Caught ball watching early but looked positive going forward 7.0

Ferdinand: Positionally excellent, veteran led from the back 7.5

Vidic: Won the aerial battle, cleaned up messes well 8.0

Jones: Decent performance in not his favorite spot on the pitch. Mr. Utility 7.0

Carrick: Not his best effort by any means, but steady as she goes 7.5

Cleverley: Relatively anonymous performance in midfield 7.0

Giggs: Two early misses and multiple turnovers showed his age, but still managed to provide for the game's first goal 6.5

Valencia: Laid ball on a platter for Welbeck's goal 7.0

Welbeck: Broke his duck early and added a stunning second goal late on, but messing about in the defensive end led to an opening for the Swans 8.5

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rose-Colored Picks for the Season

Scott Must Have Watched His Pre-Season Football Through Lenses of This Color
photo by VanessaOvia PhotoRee

Deluded doesn't even begin to describe this latest post from Scott:
It’s really more about eliciting the desired response from you and the legions of readers than about getting it right…
It seems de rigueur at this juncture to post predictions for the final table standings.  And in order to quell the nerves of you loyal readers who are still swooning over farlieonfootie’s pick of Chelsea to win the league over the Manchester reds, I will happily place my beloved Liverpool higher than anyone with any knowledge of the current state of the Barclay's Premier League.  Herewith, this rose-spectacled Correspondent’s bold predictions:
1)   ChelseaThey had the defensive sturdiness, the midfield creativity and striking power.  Now they have the return of the Special One who just seems to win no matter where he goes, coaxing the best from his players, even if it is in the form of a scorched-earth policy.  Romelu Lukaku is set to have a monster year as long as he is given the minutes.
2)   Manchester CityEven with the loss of Carlos Tevez and a new manager coming on board, this is another team with an embarrassment of talent who will trump their in-city rivals.  Edin Dzeko will step up and continue to do what he does every time afforded the opportunity – score lots of goals.  Silva will continue to delight and the defense will hold strong.
3)   TottenhamIf Gareth Bale stays, their new additions will push them over the hump that has conspired to keep them out of the Champions League.
4)   LiverpoolBy hook or by crook (read “Luis Suarez”) the Reds will finish top 4 this year.  Luis will stay at least until January, Daniel Sturridge will come into his own, Phillipe Coutinho will wave his wand weekly under the direction of a healthy Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger will be flanked by the industrious pair of Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson in front of the mighty Sebastian Mignolet.  What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Bottom (tee hee!!) and the Top Four

Another Day, Another Cable Car for Correspondent Ed
photo by deeleeavia PhotoRee
Ed took some time off from mapping San Francisco's cable car system to file this report:
It's so painfully annoying when FoF picks the favorites to win each season, and then congratulates himself when they go on to do so.  Well, here's to going out on a limb, beginning with the Relegation Zone.
20.  Hull City Tigers.  These guys never stay up.  Plus I think Steve Bruce has a proven track record of mediocrity. 
19.  Norwich.  I think the efforts of the last coach will wear off and leave them with the less than inspiring methods of the new. 
18.  Cardiff City.  They will make it happen for most of the year but their luck will run out in the end despite the hard work of Frazer Campbell.
17.  Crystal Palace.  Will they really survive?  Well, here's hoping Ian Holloway can pull it off.  Marouanne Chamahk?  Well, Ian even made Charlie Adam into an all BPL player, so why not?
And now the Top Four:
1.  Chelsea.  I hate to agree with FoF, but the Special One knows how to win leagues.  I expect less in Europe, though, unless they get a real striker.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Here Come the Americans! USMNT 4 - Bosnia-Herzegovina 3

photo by *Mickyvia PhotoRee

Remember the bad old days?  Apparently, neither does Correspondent Scott:

Now let's not jump to conclusions here, but that was a quality performance against a quality team. Getting the errors out of the way early, the US then settled down in the second half, maintained possession more and created chance after chance for an on-fire Jozy Altidore. Credit must also be given to Jurgen Klinsmann's tactical change and apparent pep talk at half time. And all without Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan.

A demerit must be given to ESPN who mistakenly listed Bosnia-Herzegivina's Asmir Begovic in goal for the Americans on the pregame graphic. Come on, guys!  Everybody on staff should have been able to realize that the Bosnian-sounding name had erroneously usurped the perennial American 'keeper with the American name, Tim Howard.

If I was excited to see Altidore ply his trade in the BPL again before, I'll now be losing sleep until Sunderland's first kickoff.

Eddie Johnson's lackadaisical care for the ball just outside his own 18 was to blame for the home side's first goal, despite Howard's first-shot heroics. Although both central defenders are also to blame for beseeching for offside rather than hustling to cover their goal line.

The next error that led to the 2-0 halftime score line is one that DRIVES ME NUT!  On set pieces, you have to mark closely until the ball is COMPLETELY CLEARED. Second chance crosses that find now-open opponents will kill you every time!

But boy does 20 minutes getting spoken to harshly with a German accent make a difference (just ask every team our friend Olaf has coached)!  Although possession was starting to swing to the US toward the end of the first half, clear scoring opportunities were lacking. But that all changed with a revamped formation and a little more hunger. Although the US Haters have been flooding the internet with how BH "called off the dogs" when they made three subs to start the second half, I don't believe that for a second. Only one of the three subs was critical - one was inconsequential and the last involved trading out a defender so flummoxed by Altidore that he had to pick up a yellow. And when two more subs were made after the Americans pulled within one goal, I can guarantee you that their coach was more concerned about maintaining his home unbeaten streak than about reining in canines. And it's not like Edin Dzeko called it an early night.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

farlieonfootie's 3rd Annual Barclay's Premier League Season Preview

Ed is Taking farlieonfootie's Picks Right to the Nearest Bookie
photo by wetwebworkvia PhotoRee

It's just about that time again, and since neither Correspondent Ed nor Correspondent Scott have been willing to stick out their respective necks, it once again falls upon your Editor-in-Chief to take one for the team.  Never afraid to make a prediction, and sometimes even making uncannily accurate ones, it's time for the third annual farlieonfootie pre-season picks for the 2013 - 2014 edition of the Barclay's Premier League.

We'll note, of course, that these prognostications are subject to revision if any of the much-ballyhooed late transfer moves come through -- moves involving Bale, Ronaldo, Rooney or the like certainly have the ability to shake things up, including even our vaunted predictions.  Unlike last season, when the transfer of the year was made relatively early (hint: Remember that one, Arsenal and City fans?), this year's top move could still be yet to happen:
2013/2014 Premier League Winners: This is a tough one for us to admit, but we believe Chelsea may have the talent on board to win the Premiership this season.  And by talent, we're not talking about the players on the pitch -- sure, they're important -- but more so the talent in the manager's office.  Combining Mourinho -- surely with something to prove, not only to the Chelsea fans who love him so dearly, but also to the Manchester United Board of Directors that gave him not even the merest hint of affection -- with names like Mata, Hazard and Oscar means that Chelsea's offensive creativity will now be married to the Portuguese bossman's steely pragmatism.  And where defense has been a relative weakness these past few seasons, we don't believe Mou will put up with mediocrity for long.  The major question at Les Bleus revolves around who will lead the line -- and if Rooney is out, then we fear that Jose will figure out how to unleash the beast that is Romelu Lukaku. 
2013/2014 Runner's Up: Manchester United.   We note that most of the so-called football pundits have picked United to finish third, behind both Chelsea and City, but we're not buying it.  If we were truly bold, instead of slightly nervous and only kinda-sorta bold, we'd be picking the Red Devils to win the league once again. Let's rememeber: this is a team that cantered to the League title last season -- a season in which they still lacked the much-discussed truly world-class midfield.  Unfortunately, though, the transition at the top has made us a bit less confident, and while we respect David Moyes, he's no Sir Alex Ferguson -- and that's not a slight.  Super Robin returns to lead the attack, and with Vidic, Rio and De Gea spending some considerable time together we think there will be more than enough goals to routinely outscore the competition.  The major questions at United would seem to be two-fold: What in the world will happen to Wayne Rooney, and will United actually bring in any summer transfer targets, or only flirt with them?  The lack of a clear answer to either of these questions heading into the season's opening weekend points only to one place: second.
2013/2014 Best of the Rest: Manchester City sure spent alot of money this off-season, didnt they? 

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Song Remains the Same: Manchester United 2 - Wigan 0

photo by sanbeijivia PhotoRee

The manager may have changed, but the result remained the same: Manchester United picked up yet another piece of hardware on Sunday, earning the first trophy of the David Moyes era by defeating Wigan 2-0 in the Community Shield. Played in front of a largely pro-United crowd at London's Wembley Stadium on a sunny late-August afternoon, the Red Devils rode Robin Van Persie's twin strikes, bookended by the half, to a wholly expected victory over their recently relegated opponents.

With the background of the club's riff with wantaway striker Wayne Rooney still simmering along, it didn't take long for Van Persie to remind the Red Devil faithful of who now holds the title of top dog, heading Patrice Evra's cross beyond the reach of Wigan goalkeeper Scott Carson to hand United a 1-0 lead within six minutes of the opening whistle. It was the perfect start for the Flying Dutchman, who began the move by spreading the ball out wide to the Red's left back before executing the finishing blow himself.

Wilfried Zaha looked lively as the United midfield bossed the game early on, although the Mancunians' early joy was momentarily dimmed when Rafael was forced off through injury after only 15 minutes. Gradually, Wigan began to press the ball a bit higher up the pitch and United slowed their tempo; the result, unsurprisingly, was the air going out of the attacking play and the crowd growing ever more hushed, impatient for more a bit more excitement on their big day out.

James McClean fizzed the ball along the goal mouth after beating Chris Smalling in the box, but the Wigan midfielder's effort came to naught when no one in blue and white was available to change the direction and tap the ball in. Danny Welbeck's curling effort from just inside the box was parried away by Carson at the other end, but it was the Latics who were beginning to make a greater impression by the time Referee Mark Clattenburg blew the half time whistle.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Good Riddance

Even Liverpool fans have a limit, at least according to Scott:

Belatedly, I have thrown in the towel on Luis Suarez. The “one-more-year” drum I have been banging all summer is now nothing more than a cacophonous, regretful waste of time. Despite previously waxing awkwardly poetic on the flawed man and hoping he would stay to see Liverpool secure Champions League play, I now say hold out for £50M then use the proceeds judiciously. 

For me, it is not just that Suarez has now publicly commented in the English press that he wants away. Rather, it is the different tune he is singing now that Arsenal have made their ardent affections known. Before, it was the prying British media, who dared not to give him a pass on his outrageous behavior, that was driving him from England. But when that ridiculous assessment of his situation was followed by contract disclosure to Arsenal by somebody (£40M and 1 pound? Really?), it now has nothing to do with the media. Now, with an EPL rival calling, it is all about Champions League play, prying media aside.

Maybe Arsenal is Suarez' only realistic Champions League landing place and, with an elite player's normal peak playing years limited as they are, maybe it is his best move.  Still, it smacks of hypocrisy.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Buck Twenty (and a Player)

Ed pours his heart out in a paean to GB11:

One Hundred and Twenty Million Dollars?  And a player?

Is that all?

It makes sense, but just because something makes sense doesn't mean it's not going to hurt.  See, e.g., removing your wisdom teeth.

Gareth started with us as a boy, a fast boy, and every time he came in the team would lose.  If I recall, Uncle Harry brought him in late in one game that Spurs were so far ahead they couldn't lose, just to foil the jinx.

He also started with Spurs at left back -- left back!  And even when he started playing well at left half, Uncle Harry would comment from time to time that he'd make a great left back some day.

But there you have it, when you've got that much talent, when you've got that much speed, you just have to play attack.  Sorry Ashley Cole, but there's a reason you're one of the best left backs in England, and it's that you weren't good enough to be one of the best left halves in England.  Ouch.

So where will Spurs be without him?  It's an enormous loss, in part because the team has forgotten how to score without him.  Often when one player is that good, the others go full beta and fail to assert themselves even when they're needed.  I think this happened to Spurs at the end of last season.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Confessions of a Rum-Fueled Football Addict

While sipping a Dark 'N Stormy (Goslings Rum, ginger beer, ice and a lime) in Bermuda on a recent pre-season farlieonfootie staff trip, we had the opportunity to reflect on the craziness that is the world football transfer market:

o Wayne Rooney's gone. He's handed in his transfer request and wants off to Chelsea. Or he hasn't, and has re-committed himself to David Moyes' United, provided he's not booed when the Reds play in front of some actual fans later this week. Both stories equally plausible, and more to the point, both stories published in the British press. ON THE SAME DAY. Which just goes to show you: most of the news you read is not fit to print. 

o Cesc is coming to United. Or maybe he's not. Actually, in the end, we think Moyes will get his man. Where there's smoke there's fire, and Cesc and his agent are looking like Smokey Bear these days. We think the Spaniard wouldn't mind a move back to a team where he's "the man," and reuniting with Robin Van Persie wouldn't be all that bad, either. One question if the move goes through keeps us up at night, though: what song will United fans sing when Anderson comes on the pitch?!

o And speaking of Ando, we have only one thing to say: THIS is the year that he decides to lose weight?  Fear is a great motivator...

o Could Criatiano be coming home?  It certainly sounds plausible to us. Real Madrid going gaga over Gareth obviously means the Spanish side are feeling some sort of pressure. And Moyes' openness on the whole Fabregas story has always struck us as odd. Maybe the new man is happy to let the press fixate on the one move so that he and Ed Woodward can get the other move done with a little less light shining on it.....  Even if the move fails to materialize, we expect to see Ronnie back in red before he hangs up his cleats for good. It's one thing to be feared; it's a whole different kettle of fish to be loved. 

Friday, August 2, 2013


photo by Muffetvia PhotoRee

Scott is always good for some thoughts on the beautiful game, but never more so than when he's writing about the US Men's National Team:

It may be cliché to call USA's Gold Cup championship bittersweet due to Stuart Holden's injury, but clichés persist because of their aptness.  When I think about the fact that my disappointment is only a shadow of what that young talent is experiencing, despite the brave words he tweeted, I am crushed.  After taking the reins of the US team at the 2009 Gold Cup, the trajectory of his career seemed certain.  But a broken leg courtesy of Nigel de Jong followed by a gash and torn ACL courtesy of Johnny Evans led to over 2 years of rehabilitation.  He was just getting back into the national team and I believe his performance would have gotten him more looks with the "A" team and, ultimately (in my opinion) a place in Brazil.  I am crushed.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, someone who crushed it in the tournament is Landon Donovan.  His stats were gaudy as he flitted about looking as if he hadn't taken a single day away from the sport.  Just asked Panama's Quintero who was more than just a little shocked when the veteran was able to track down the speedster.  Donovan will be in Brazil. And he will be fundamental to our success.  Will he start against Costa Rica in Sept?  I don't know for sure but I would guess that he will be there but start on the bench.  Landon Donovan coming off the bench in the 60th minute would be a scary thing for all in San Jose.

I am guilty, like most people, of not saying anything when officiating is good but chiming in when it is poor.  So I'm happy to report that I thought the referee did a very good job in the Final.  He certainly did a better job than the semi-final referee who allowed open season with tackles.  On the contrary, he reined in players as appropriate, kept his cards in his pocket unless needed, and did a very good job with the advantage rule.  Interesting that it was the same guy who officiated the Snow Bowl game between Costa Rica and the US.