Arsene Wenger, Ken Barlow: an observation

Arsene Barlow/Ken Wenger: Uncanny.

Perhaps it’s the coiffed, hirsute cloud floating upon his brow, or the disturbing likeness between Deidre Rachid and his former dug out partner Pat Rice, but with each passing season, Arsene Wenger morphs ever closer to becoming football’s answer to Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow.

As “professor” of the Premier League, at times Arsene seems suffocated by an air of impotence like a supposed academic stumbling through a soap opera. With his colourful and proactive co-stars buzzing about the crescendo of the summer transfer window, the beige, boring man refuses to be drawn into such impulsive frivolities. Continue reading

Today’s forwards, tomorrow’s Pirlo’s?

Originally written for Sabotage Times.

How will Rooney and Messi adapt and respond to the ravages of ageing?

Andrea Pirlo’s elegant masterminding of Italy’s Euro 2012 campaign won the veteran midfielder a clutch of new admirers and reminded those who had doubted him just what he was capable of as he approached the twilight years of his career. While Pirlo benefited from facing opponents either unable or unwilling to press him effectively, the regista’s vision and skill lit up the summer tournament.

While his existing fan base looked on bemused, many treated the Italian’s performances as a wake up of sorts, questioning why such player aren’t more widespread or available to their clubs and national teams. Continue reading

Have Manchester United found the solutions to their midfield problems?

Originally published as Has Fergie Finally Got The Midfield Options To Compete With Barca & Real? for Sabotage Times. A follow up to the earlier Some Goals post What’s Missing From United’s Midfield?

Carrick: the midfield logistics man.

Over the past few years Manchester United have become a team that can be bullied. An unbalanced and underpowered midfield has seen hard pressing teams and domineering, powerhouse players punch through Sir Alex Ferguson’s fragile underbelly.

The opening two games of this season featured two such midfielders who seemed to burst through United’s core with impunity. Marouane Fellaini is an awkward player at the best of times, and from his advanced position was also a direct pest and threat to the makeshift defense of Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic. Without the legs or familiarity required, the defensive line could not be pushed up high in order to negate the dangers posed by the Belgian by keeping him up-field and away from De Gea’s goal. Continue reading

Rooney’s gash: will absence make Wayne’s football grow fonder?

Wayne Rooney: life imitating art?

Wayne Rooney is out for four weeks with a nasty chunk taken out of his left leg – news that would have been a body blow to United fans just a matter of months ago. With the arrival of Robin Van Persie, Shinji Kagawa however, along with Rooney’s own middling form and fitness issues, its been suggested that this early lay-off could well be a positive for both the Englishman and Manchester United’s season.

When he first burst onto the scene in 2002, the Croxteth wonderkid looked to be one of the most explosive talents around. His play style was electric and immediate, full of enthusiasm, energy and prodigious skill. He was raw, unpredictable and at times unplayable; running, nay, charging at opponents and loose balls with equal aplomb. Continue reading

Tony Pulis vs The Premiership: reviewing the visit of the poncey foreign blueberries

A look at the weekend’s events from the perspective of the tracksuited one.

“WE ARE STOKE BOBOMB! ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!”

Arsenal. Arsenal. They’re no Valencia, are they?

I tell you, I was rubbing my hands with glee when I found out we’d have Arsenal so close to the start of the season. As were the fans, probably. Either rubbing their hands with glee, or shaking them around madly. Can’t always be certain which. He got his excuses in early as well, did the big French pudding, complaining that the grass was too long. I know! That man will whinge about anything. Continue reading

Seasonal Affective Disorder

WARNING: This post contains some very poorly mixed metaphors.

There was the Summer Olympics, and its heroic athletes bounding around in the (occasional piece of) sun. There were the gymnasts, who almost made me want buy a gym pass in order to get the body of Adonis –to go with my face, obviously. And the rowers and cyclists, whose endurance made my summer job playing with underprivileged children look like a walk in the park, which it technically was. But whatever.

However, autumn is slowly creeping upon us, the football season has returned, and with it a vast increase in my blood pressure, smoking and alcohol intake. It’s sad. And SAD. Continue reading