If the last few weeks were slow in terms of news, this past week was a terrifying maze of delicious games. Like a child in a candy-store, I pocketed as many Hershey’s Kisses in my SopCast player as I could when my parents weren’t looking. Sadly, this lack of focus left me a tummy ache and you, the reader, some less than consistent posting.
John Lennon once said “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I have diverted a bit of my writing spirit to the mysterious forthcoming book. Curious readers want to know the book’s topic. Soccer. Duh. But seriously, I need a polished and approved final manuscript, the final drafts of illustrations, an ISBN number, and cover before I can spill the beans. And believe you me, beans will be spilled. There will be beans….spilled….everywhere. For now, rest content knowing that a beloved soccer blogger has graciously agreed to write the foreword. Thus, at least two pages won’t suck.
However, even the book hooplah excuse no longer holds up. In my rush to crank out a palatable ebook and pocket some cash on the Kindle easily-click-purchase model, I got a curious email from a “new media company.” Many of my favorite bloggers have gone legit, so I negotiated the fine line between de facto abandoning the site, ceding editorial control, and monetizing the site (sounds dirty, doesn’t it?). Negotiations have entered a final phase. I hope I strike the right balance. History will judge me.
Updates aside, let’s get back to futbol and enjoy last week’s smorgasbord of games. And a few lessons learned.
First, Sir Alex knows how to use a conventional telephone. Despite the rash of injuries to defenders, the touchline ban, and a few recent hiccups, United fans rejoiced when, during the Bolton game, the camera panned to Fergy chatting on a conventional phone. For the most part, we knew his obvious advice to the assistant manager. First, chew gum and give linesman the death stare. Second, in injury time, stand up and stare at your watch. Third, guide team to unexpected last-minute victory. Still, Old Trafford breathed a sight of relief.
Miraculous last-ditch win or deflating sucker punch, it depends on your affiliation. Sir Alex’s half-time substitution of Berbatov for Chicharito proved a masterstroke. Yet again, Manchester United proved itself a Houdini of a side, constantly deceiving its own fans into expecting a defeat or draw, only to emerge from the underwater coffin unscathed. And here’s the scary party – Sir Alex is currently learning how to “text message” as I write this post. Once, he masters the art, he may seek a permanent touchline ban just because he likes the view. If this happens, the orthopedic advantages of cushy public seating could add at least two years to his managerial career! Huzzah!
Second, Carlos Ancellotti’s trench coat has replaced his furled eyebrow as Chelsea’s official mascot. We will probably see the Fernando Torres signing as a watershed moment in both the Blues’ season and the history of soccer tactics: can a striker-less five man midfield work? Thus far, yes. Brazilians David Luiz and Ramires scored wonderful goals & the Blues overcame a cautious Manchester City. But how much longer can the Italian continue to rely on Torres not scoring goals? And as the Engish humidity approaches, will he shed his lucky trench coat like a Mancini scarf? Don’t bet on either.
Third, the loss to Sunderland in the Cup Final a few weeks back was neither the fault of Szczesny nor Koscielny. At the time of the incident, everybody pointed the finger at the defender and goalie for failing to deal with a long ball. However, this past weekend Squillaci and Almunia pulled off a similar stunt. Which leads to only two explanations. Either Wenger’s exclusive dressing-less Caesar salad & salmon diet for centerbacks & goalies needs a tweaking, or Jens Lehman must immediately start and Sol Campbell should have been re-signed in the summer. And this summer, Wenger must bring back legends like Freddie Ljunberg, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, and Patrick Vieira. No questions asked.
Fourth, the boring and monotonous La Liga two horse race saw non-shocking victories by the top two horses. Only when Real Madrid & Barcelona play 38 games will the season “merece la pena.” Although Villareal has been delightful and Valencia surprising from time-t0-time.
Fifth, MLS has started and you kinda care but not a whole lot. Yet. The transition from watching mid-season and in-form European level soccer to not-yet-fit MLS is difficult. Some never make the jump. But in mid-June, a few weeks after the Champions League final, you will make a good effort. And you’ll be surprised by the savvy Freddy Montero, speedy Agudelo, and penalty kick missing Henry.