Tuesday, August 31, 2010

All the Week's Action in La Liga: Jornada 1

Here we are at the end of week 1 of La Liga and the weekend’s results are as follows:

Hercules 0 – 1 Athletic Bilbao
M├ílaga 1 – 3 Valencia
Levante 1 – 4 Sevilla FC
Deportivo 0 – 0 Real Zaragoza
Espanyol 3 – 1 Getafe
Osasuna 0 – 0 Almeria
Real Sociedad 1 – 0 Villarreal
Racing 0 – 3 Barcelona
Mallorca 0 – 0 Real Madrid
A. Madrid 4 – 0 Sporting Gijon

A newly promoted Hercules did well in keeping the ball against the Basques, however with their new signings (Valdez and Trezeguet) not making the cut, they created precious little and lost their opening fixture. Malaga seem to have picked up from where they left off last season, that is, losing once more. Valencia, on the other hand, completely overwhelmed Malaga in their own backyard, and a spirited performance by Joaquin in the 2nd half saw them comfortable winners. Joaquin along with Vicente have been standard pall bearers for Valencia for some time now, and in the absence of David Villa and Silva, they have once more taken up the mantle of Valencia’s resurrection force.

Sevilla comfortably dispatched Levante after initially conceding a lead, controversies notwithstanding. Let’s face it, the officiating in Spain is poor, and it will be sometime before we can see any change. So, for now, let’s get on with the game.

The Ronaldo Conundrum

At the outset of this post, I’d like to warn you that this post may appear to be the work of a hyper reactive moron, or worse a schizophrenic paranoid. But I wrote it nevertheless because if the quarry that I discuss in this post comes to pass, I have the right of saying “I told you so”. If not; well I’ve been called worse things and reading the work of a moron, what does that make you?

I was waiting with bated breath for Real Madrid’s La Liga opener to kick off at the Ono Estadi. However, it turned out to be a distinct and a “snoozey” if I may add, anti-climax after all the initial euphoria of seeing Mourinho’s men take the pitch for a supposed cracking encounter. In the end, there was precious little of note to pen down. The match finished at 0-0 with both sides clamoring for the referee’s head, just as it is always done in the Spanish La Liga run by those brain farts that seem to totally overlook the poor officiating present in the league. Anyway, coming back to the match, since there was absolutely no action to concentrate on and to keep myself awake, I started focusing on the other things like how many seats were empty in each row of the stadium and how many times Ronaldo acted like a Diva. The good thing was Ronaldo’s count was significantly lower than the number of empty seats but it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth; 33 goals from 35 starts in his first season and now billed to uphold the glowing tradition of the number 7 jersey and he was busy taking dandy swipes at the legs of yet another Mallorcan defender who had fouled him or potshots at the goal from impossible angles and distances, some of them so much that even Ronaldo wouldn’t have been able to score.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Shignings

With Jorge Valdano very vocally slamming shut the door labeled “New Transfers” on the remaining poor souls who were not bought by Real Madrid, there’s still no guarantee that the transfer season has actually concluded at the White House. Because Valdano is after all an Argentino, and a quick look at how he’s backtracked so many times on statements of finality leaves you with a lingering feeling that Flo Perez will still open his coffers for that one last signing. But for now, we’ll take Valdano’s word as the absolute and assume that Real Madrid are actually done as far as the summer transfer window is concerned.

So, here’s a quick rundown of this season’s summer signings along with pre-season ratings …

Jose Mourinho
Undoubtedly, THE Galactico signing of the summer. The club aims to fulfill two objectives with this signing: a.) Win the Holy Grail a.k.a. El Decima a.k.a. The elusive 10th UEFA Champions League Trophy and b.) Forge a core team with a winning mentality.

Jose Mourinho is a thoroughbred in managers, the kind who have always achieved both points A and B at whichever club they’ve managed. All in All, a full 10 points for this signing. There have been big coaches who have failed fantastically at Real Madrid. But none of them were bigger than Jose Mourinho. By the winter break things will be clear either way; we may start listening to clarion calls or church hymns, and depending on one of them Mourinho might decide to exercise the release clause which he had the foresight to insert into his contract. It’s always better to scream “I Resign” than having “You’re Fired” being screamed at you.

Sergio Canales

Boy!!...Yeah he’s a boy, but that was supposed to be an exclamation. Anyway, Sergio Canales, at age 16, had already been dubbed as a crack, and following his last season exploits (notably the two goals against Sevilla), he was labeled by the irksome Spanish media as the next Golden Boy of Spain. Real Madrid swooped on the lad before Laporta could say “Cule” and Mourinho promptly decided to draft him into the team straightway, the proposed loan back to Racing Santander never getting any flight.

A superstar performance at the U-19 FIFA European Championship only saw his stardom rise higher and having seen him in the pre-season, I can only label him as a Guti-atric player plus work rate. He was always branded by the Madridistas as Guti’s heir and make no mistake, if this lad keeps his head down and works his ass off, he’ll be greater than Guti ever was; the maturity that he shows beyond his 19 years is testament to this fact. A solid 9/10 for this signing.

Angel Di Maria

Honestly, 25 million Euros? One would think Benfica had the decency to deal with us like gentlemen given the fact that half of our rejects play in their team and for one player going the other way, they would be less greedy. Sadly that wasn’t the case and they join all those other clubs who have regularly slit our pockets.

I followed Di Maria in Benfica’s campaign for Europa League glory last season and was quite impressed by the lad. He is a big match player and is generally not fazed by the opposition or the occasion. That’s good, because when the white hankies come out at the White House, he’s going to need that or he has to have the ice in his veins like Guti did (sigh!). Anyway, having wanked over Di Maria, I have to confess that he’s still quite green behind the ears and under his feet, which is why the 25 million euros seem absurd. If he stays in favor of El Jose Mourinho, he might develop into one of the scariest wingers. A 7/10 rating for now.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

UEFA: Underhanded Egomaniacal Fuck-All Association

I know the title is very strong; UEFA actually have a good vision about this entire financial fair play concept. However, what I don’t like is the bigotry, which lately is part of the territory when it comes to UEFA. On one hand, Platini makes vociferous claims that though he plans to introduce the Financial Fairplay scheme (which broadly means that clubs will not be allowed to spend more than they earn), it will only be applicable by 2012 which gives time to clubs to sort out their financial woes. Then the same Platini goes ahead and bans RCD Mallorca from taking part in this season’s Europa League.

Now, don’t get me wrong. For a club of Mallorca’s stature, being in the financial mess that they are in, they deserve a strong rap on their butts (make that a double to Webo whom I dislike very much), but they do not deserve an action so extreme. Mallorca has a debt of € 85 million, which is quite a lot and they have gone into administration, which is like a public admission that they cannot service their debts. You may be forgiven for thinking why I’m bitching then. You’d feel that they should hire better financial managers than the idiots who’re running the club right now and get it done. But that is not my beef actually. Oh I mean, they need to hire better financial planners and all that, but there are three things that stand out for me.

New Ownership

They have a new owner (Lorenzo Serra Ferrer) and Rafael Nadal has also bought shares into the club with the aim of pouring in some much needed money. Lorenzo Serra Ferrer has a long time association, being born there, then playing and finally coaching Mallorca. What Ferrer did after immediately taking over is go into voluntary administration. Though this is like a public admission that you’re bankrupt, it essentially allows the club to operate and yet pay off the debts. Administration is actually a good thing in the long term for the club. It will help them survive and pull out of the financial mess that they find themselves in currently. A point to be noted here is that there are clubs like Fulham who are in a marginally better financial condition but were allowed to continue playing in the Europa League last season simply because they haven’t publicly admitted that they’re going broke.
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