Thursday, January 30, 2014

What's a Mata, U? (and More)

Give Ed a cup of coffee, a bottle of water and a computer and he's good to go
photo by jurvetsonvia PhotoRee

In which Correspondent Ed suddenly remembers that he writes about football for a living:

Yes, the title of this little entry also happens to be my favorite university name from the Bullwinkle cartoon.  Classic.  But what is up with the Juan Mata trade?  Where does he fit in?  Last I checked he played the exact same position as Wayne Rooney.  I also recall that he doesn't really play any other position.  Does this mean an end for Rooney at United?  Or is it rather just another desperation transfer for the new team in charge?  In light of the fact that Lil' Wayne seems to be getting a raise, I'm thinking it's more desperation than anything.  Though you have to suspect that Shinji Kagawa is out the door.  But poor Juan Mata, he's gone from THE GUY at Chelsea to the guy that will have to fight for time at United with two of the best players in the world.  And finally just to pile on, what exactly does Mata bring to shore up United's defensive issues?  Oh, that's right, he's a player that got benched in large part because he was undisciplined and wouldn't get back on defense.  Weird.

[Editor's Note: This column was written prior to Spurs getting blown out -- again -- by City yesterday] As for Spurs, how 'bout that Tim Sherwood?  I keep hearing he don't know nothin' about tactics just like his old boss Uncle Harry.  You remember Harry, the guy that put Spurs in fourth twice...?  He was very unlike the cerebral tactical advantage man nicknamed AVB, the same guy that thought a high line was the right thing to play with super slow defenders.

This is not to say Sherwood is the end-all-be-all.  But at this point he's done better than expected with a team that's down in the dumps. He was able to rejuvenate the mind-boggling talent of Manny Adebayor (yes, I'm going with Manny today).  While Manny may be up for a contract year, at least Sherwood wasn't so silly as to bench him forever.  We do what we have to do in this world, don't we?  But what's more, the team he inherited is now playing more to their strengths and their potential.  Erikson is back after being sidelined through injuries and looks terrific.  Dembele is playing well.  All seems settled.  Which is not to say Spurs won't get spanked by City, but hey, might we have a little hope of something more special?

Turning to Everton, it's amazing how pronounced the difference the loss of Ross Barkley has made to the club.  Instead of a brash box to box midfielder with speed, a big engine, and creativity, they look simply ordinary and square in the middle.  Speaking of square, Gareth Barry isn't really the guy to blame.  My favorite whipping boy for many years ("If it's not sideways or backwards, it's not a pass from Gareth Barry", from see, e.g., the May 2005 edition (paper only, paid subscription) of farlieonfootie), Barry's looked very good for Everton, and Coach Martinez of the Wigan FA Cup and the Wigan relegation, looks even better.  But sadly the Toffees don't have the money to acquire the depth they need to get to the top four.  Hey, it just is what it is, folks.

This is farlieonfootie for January 30.

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