Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stubbed his toe? Or a sniper in the stands?

We've all been there, just most of us don't get paid for playing soccer for a living!

Monday, February 24, 2014

It's even harder to like Rooney now

Wayne Rooney can play, there's no doubt about that. Is he in the same conversation as Messi, Ronaldo or Zlatan? Not in a million years. And even if he was, he just comes across as the type of guy that you'd struggle to really like, yet alone love as a footballer.

Does he deserve almost half a million dollars a week? No, no-one does, but that's a different argument.

Rooney comes across as a petulant, spoiled kid who thinks he's bigger than everyone. He can say he didn't ask to leave Manchester United, but he probably did. Fergie has no real reason to lie. And now David Moyes knows he desperately needs him to try and rebuild Manchester United around. Wayne and his agent held all the cards, as you can just imagine Jose Mourinho buying him just to spite United and their board. He wants to be the main man, and believes everyone should treat him that way.

The same with England. He mocked the fans for booing him and the England team after the 0-0 draw with Algeria at the World Cup in 2010. He doesn't care about what people think, paying to bang 50 year-old grandmothers while married proves that.

But as I said, Wayne can play. His performances for England in Euro 2004 were fantastic, some of his goals are the best I've ever seen, and he's won just about every domestic honor a player can win.

Yet, there's a look in his eye as he signs that huge contract. He's got everything he ever dreamed of. He obviously cares about winning, making money and being a big shot, but you don't sense he really connects with real life. Maybe he never had to experience that as he made his professional debut at 16 - yeah, you can say he had a tough time growing up in Liverpool, but who doesn't have a tough life growing up?

It's unlikely he'll ever play for another club team and will go down as a United 'legend' as he'll no doubt be their record all-time scorer (something he's likely to be with England too), but I'd bet most fans - United and otherwise - will never rate him as a great of the game. It's not because he's not talented, he's just very hard to like.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Leave the stepovers to Ronaldo

If he hadn't fallen over, Would have had to track him down and smash him anyway!

Nothing (and everything) to lose for Arsenal and Manchester City

Arsenal and Manchester City both lost 2-0 in the Champions League this week in spookily similar games - a good first half, man sent off, late goal etc. There's no shame in losing to Bayern Munich or Barcelona, and in some ways it may help Arsenal and City.

They now have nothing to lose in the away legs - win and it's a famous success against all the odds. Lose and you can focus on the league. City are still in both cups, but Arsenal would only have the title to play for, and with their thin squad, it may help.

Chelsea have a slightly easier tie against Galatasary, and Jose Mourinho will seems to have a knack of getting it done in the Champions League. He'd love to win it with Chelsea - mainly as it hurt him to see Roberto Di Matteo win something at Chelsea before he did. Jose is petty like that, we all know he is. He couldn't congratulate Rafa Benitez for winning the Europa League, even though he knows deep down that Rafa did well.

And so this weekend in the Premier League may give us an indication of how teams will react after tough results in Europe. The Europa League may prove damaging for Spurs (in trying to make 4th), but more for Swansea (in the relegation scrap). Europe can be too much for smaller teams, it just stretches the squad to breaking point.

But for Arsenal and City, home games against Sunderland and Stoke are must wins. Lose at this stage and the season begins to unravel. Win and they can really focus on topping the table. For Arsenal more that City, a loss at this stage would be a disaster - and potentially kill the tiny bit of confidence they have left.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bradley says MLS is 'no longer a place to end your career'

Micheal Bradley, Tim Cahill and Omar Gonzalez came to visit today and all three were making the right noises about MLS.

Bradley was insistent that MLS is no longer a place where players come to end their careers. Having joined Toronto FC at 26, 10 years after playing for the MetroStars, Bradley said that the quality of the league is now starting to match the rest of the world. Saying that he wanted to build something in the sportscentric Canadian city, Bradley said that, although he may have unfinished business in Europe, MLS is the place for him right now.

He noted how all the strong international teams have a core group of players in their domestic league, something MLS has done ahead of the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

Although pushed a little on preparations for the World Cup, conditions in Brazil and their international careers, what came across was how impressed they were with the growth and direction of MLS.

Talking about the star power of David Beckham and Thierry Henry, Cahill commented on the organizational strengths on the league and how the structure is key to continued development. He mentioned the excitement of being part of a group that is building the league and taking the world game to a place of its own in the US where it doesn't need to compete with other sports.

Ahead of the season's start on March 8, the players raved about the soccer specific stadiums helping to build rivalries and create match-ups that fans can't wait to see.

Gonzalez said while he's going to be disappointed to leave the Galaxy for a month during the World Cup, that playing for your country supercedes everything, and that the league is now strong enough to hold its own even if the stars are off for a few weeks.

Roll on the new season as there are now plenty of players here in MLS that will feature in Brazil - a trend that looks set to continue as the league grows.

The Last 16 - Straight Knockout Son

Not quite straight elimination, but it's time for Europe's top club competition to get interesting.

Geezer can't pick all the winners (or I'd be in Vegas rather than at my 'real job'), but I'm going to try and pick the best team from each country (that has a realistic chance of winning it) and see if they end up as our Final 4.

The German option is easy. Bayern Munich are the best team out there right now. The fact that they are playing Arsenal means that Arsene Wenger's team have little chance of progressing. Bayern are a beast of a team right now, and only complacency can stop them advancing in my opinion.

For Spain, I'm taking Real Madrid. Barca and Atletico are two great teams, but Real have an easier tie to start with and are playing some great football. Teams seem to have a plan against Lionel Messi and Barcelona (although only Bayern have really pulled it off), but Cristiano can't be stopped. He creates so much by himself, and I think he may carry Real all the way to the semi-finals this year.

The English team is very hard to pick. Chelsea and Manchester United have easier draws in the last 16, but the latter can't win it. Moyes is just not tactically aware - he can't deal with Fulham, so no way that Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans can keep out Real, Barca or Bayern. Chelsea have a shot - it depends on the draw, but they may be a striker short from really competing. I've already ruled out Arsenal due to them playing the holders, so Manchester City are my pick for the last 4. It means beating Barcelona, but as long as Martin DeMichelis doesn't play, then they have a chance.

Of the remaining teams, I like PSG. They are more solid than in recent years and can score against anyone. Zlatan seems to know it's his time to shine, especially as he won't be in Brazil in the summer.

So it's Bayern, Real Madrid, PSG and one other for me. I said Manchester City, but I don't even buy it myself. I don't think an English team will make it to the last 4 this year, but it all depends on the draw. At this stage, you only need to win 3 ties to make the final. And that's why we love it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ronaldinho makes you wanna dance

Atletico Mineiro and Cruzeiro play out to a scoreless draw Sunday but Ronaldinho made sure the match wasn't a snoozer with this move.

-Tio Pelotas

Vasco da Gama foiled by squatting, blind ref

Flamengo nets winner two minutes from time to take 2-1 decision

Everyone in the famed Maracana stadium, including Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal, saw the ball cross the line, albeit at a rapid pace, but the assistant referee saw otherwise.


Vergara finally admits Chivas USA failure

Rebranding or sale possible options for L.A.-based club

First, he had to fend off rumors of a sale of his Chivas Guadalajara empire to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

Now it appears Jorge Vergara is fielding inquiries about his failed brainchild, Chivas USA, following a story earlier Monday about patented trademarks being filed for names that could potentially be a new avenue to pursue in remaking the unsuccessful offspring of the Mexican team. The news was first reported by The Goat Parade.

In an interview with ESPN, Vergara admittted to the L.A. based team being a failure and labeled the brand as "being worn out." He added that nothing was concrete regarding a total makeover or if a sale was even being considered but did note that a "deep analysis" is in the works. Finally, Vergara noticed that Chivas USA looked pretty decent in preseason, "something that hasn't happened in eight years," he added.

The Goat Parade pointed out that two trademarks were filed for Los Angeles SC and Los Angeles F.C., two names that would give overall supporters of the league a bit of a relief and empathy that Vergara wants to succeed in a fast-growing league like MLS. Vergara's always been a smart business man and with investors and sponsors lining up for a crack at the U.S. top flight, surely he won't just sell low and cut out.

-Tio Pelotas

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tim Cahill needs to step up the gym work!

Tim Cahill has assaulted corner flags for a long time now, scoring goals for Millwall, Everton and the New York Red Bulls, but his celebration may need some work.

This goalkeeper takes on another opponent who can't fight back, although the post is likely to leave a few more bruises than the corner flag does!

Where do Manchester United go from here?

Liverpool won the title 11 times from 1972-90, but (as many United fans will tell you) haven't won it since. United have won it 13 times since the 1992-93 season - and while their total dominance is probably over, their ability to compete at the top hasn't quite come to an end,  but it could if they don't completely rebuild.

Manchester United are 15 points behind Chelsea after 25 games, and 9 points behind Liverpool who currently occupy the last Champions League place.

A draw with bottom-placed Fulham is the latest disappointment in a season that many are already labeling a disaster.

Competing for major trophies is probably unrealistic this year, and the process of overhauling the squad begins as soon as the season ends. People may be laughing at David Moyes now and saying he's clueless, but he needs to be given a chance to shape a squad.

Personally, I don't think Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata were the players that United should have spend the best part of $100 million on. Mata is a top player, but Fellaini doesn't fit United style. He may have scored a couple against Fulham on Sunday, but that's not the typical United way of playing. They need players who can open the door and create chances for Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Juan Mata could be that guy, as could Shinji Kagawa (although it seems his time at Old Trafford is done).

Nemanja Vidic is leaving in the summer, as will Rio Ferdinand. Ryan Giggs may call it a day, but he looks like he's done after an amazing career. Patrice Evra could go, as could Chicharito and Nani.

With all these players on the way out, United would need 6-7 really good players if they are going to compete with Manchester City and Chelsea next year. If they don't strengthen at the start of the summer, Rooney and van Persie could also exit - and that may be a hurdle too much for Moyes to overcome. He'll get the blame, but there doesn't appear to be another 'Class of '92' coming along to help him out.

There is still a huge amount of talent at Old Trafford, they've just lost the edge that Fergie gave them - and that will probably never be replicated. But how long the slide lasts is dependent on how well they rebuild this summer.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Copa Libertadores: Action-packed preliminaries conclude

Brazilian sides through, Mexico's Morelia out, U de Chile has best goal

The first stage of South America's premier competition moved six sides into the 32-team group phase and produced some fantastic football, goals and glimpses into what's expected in Copa Libertadores' seven-month journey to crown this year's champion.

The legendary Clarence Seedorf gave Botafogo some moments of brilliance last year to help capture a spot in this year's Libertadores edition before moving on to take the reins at AC Milan. And now, 25-year-old Wallyson--after netting a hat trick in Botafogo's 4-1 win at home over Ecuador's Deportivo Quito this week--will hope to emulate his former teammate as he looks to recapture his form from 2011 when he had seven goals for Libertadores' Golden Boot that year when he was with Cruzeiro.

Meanwhile, Brazil's other team in the preliminaries, Atletico Paranaense, needed to off Peru's Sporting Cristal in agonizing fashion as the Brazilians squeaked by in penalty kicks. Cristal player Yoshimar Yotun said after the match that he would have preferred to lose 3-0.

But no other side could boast the tournament's top goal so far as Uruguayan forward Rodrigo Mora netted this beauty for Universidad de Chile in its first-leg win over Paraguay's Guarani before closing them out 2-3 in the away leg.

Elswhere, Guillermo Barros Schelotto's Lanus side knocked off Venezuela's Caracas, Colombia's Independiente Santa Fe bested Morelia and Uruguay's Nacional edged Bolivia's Oriente Petrolero.

Check back for more updates on Copa Libertadores.


Pelotas' Ponderings: MLS sked favorable for more super signings?

Can the league's spring-to-fall campaign attract more players in a WC year? 

There's no doubt the reasonings behind Julio Cesar's reported interest of a loan to the ever-increasingly glamorous Toronto FC (never thought anyone would write that!) is playing time--especially in a World Cup year. In his native Brazil.

The veteran keeper has fallen out of favor on ol' 'arry Redknapp's Queens Park Rangers side but, at the same time, his hefty wages have been weighing on the club's books. Surprisingly, no other team has come in to swoop the 34-year-old Brazilian.

There's been talk of teams in South America looking to engage his services, specifically participating camps in South America' prestigious Copa Libertadores tournament. Recent reports had him in advanced negotiations with Gremio but that was shot down pretty fast by club officials. Money, again, was an issue.

If the Toronto interest is true, Major League Soccer may have just realized that it could be chipping at a gold mine in its strategy to bring over blockbuster signings in their prime. Their spring-to-fall schedule may benefit the league short- and long-term. It's been analyzed and written that MLS will eventually be able to compete with the world's leagues for some of the game's best players. But did anyone think that the league could attract some now? Can MLS scramble and grab a few top names before the competition? Would it be possible for Euro 2016 and Russia 2018?

The U.S. national team's domestic players will have a nice advantage of being in-season form ahead of the World Cup this year while most of the globe's seasons conclude about two months before the tournament. With Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley all in MLS until Jurgen Klinsmann comes calling them to camp, will these players provide momentum for their difficult group matches?

Julio Cesar may have just found the spark he needs to add to his 77 caps with the national team, which  is under immense pressure to lift its sixth trophy on its home soil. Continuous play and aerial challenges against physical MLS sides could just be what 'Big Phil' Scolari is counting on to complete his puzzle come June.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

West Ham's legal challenge can't be the way to go

Was it a straight red? Did Chico Flores make a meal of it? Should it have been overturned?

No, Yes and Maybe in the Geezer's opinion, but the decisions were made and West Ham have to get on with it. The Hammers are taking legal action against Andy Carroll's recent sending off in the 2-0 win over Swansea - something that will just open a whole can of worms.

Carroll plays that way, with arms and legs everywhere and makes decisions difficult for referees. Chico Flores is a cheat and milked the situation, but taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport isn't going to get Carroll back in time to play in the 3 games he is due to miss.

And if they then overturn the red card after Carroll has missed games, do West Ham sue the FA, the Premier League, the referee?

If a goal is disallowed or an obvious penalty decision not given, will teams start to take legal action and claim money?

In my opinion the referee has made a mistake, but it's an honest footballing mistake. You can't turn the clock back on a decision and speculate over the outcome of the game. It's done, move on - although I do agree that the FA panel and process needs to be looked at.

If these things fall into the hands of the courts and lawyers, no one wins - it just takes the enjoyment out of the game.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Please explain Laudrup's sacking to me...

Ok, so Swansea have lost 6 of the last 8 in the League and are only two points above the relegation places, but how do you sack the guy that won you the League Cup last year and got you to the last 32 of the Europa League?

He won you your first major trophy and less than a season later he's been sacked.

Good luck to the new manager who has to come in and change things, even though he can't buy any players until the summer. Michu may return from injury to help them do that, but how are Swansea going to persuade their best players to stay now that Laudrup has been fired? I'm not saying another manager can't get good players in, but Laudrup's acquisitions from Spain are going to want out.

It's a strange one. The Danish manager was a bright spark in the League, playing attractive football and charming his way through interviews. And he could manage too. He may have struggled to juggle the competitions this year, but Swansea are a decent side. League results haven't been as good as last year, but they dumped Manchester United out of the FA Cup and generally play good football.

Swansea play Cardiff this Saturday and also face Everton, Liverpool and Napoli (twice) in February. The management obviously thinks an outsider is going to better with this squad than Michael Laudrup could. I'd be surprised - especially if newly appointed coach Garry Monk gets the job, because he has zero experience at any level.

So another Premier League sacking. Alan Pardew will be off soon if results at Newcastle continue, and then Arsene Wenger will be the only one left who has spent more than 3 years in charge of one team.

MLS Goal of the Year - I'm sure there were better ones

A few options, but has to be number 4 - Camilo Sanvezzo for me.

Must have been better efforts than this tho.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Chelsea's future looks very bright

(Update: Seems Jose listened to the Geezer. Glad he went for it, and they really should have scored more than one. City threatened, but Chelsea really dictated the game and played to their strengths. Should they have Lukaku, Falcao or Diego Costa next season, Chelsea's future looks very bright.)

This was published before the 1-0 win over Manchester City...

If Chelsea lose away at Manchester City, they'll be 6 points behind the league-leaders with 14 games to go - win and you're level on points. So a draw it is!

Everyone is already writing Arsenal off for some reason, but this game is by no means a title decider. 14 games is a lot of football, and all 3 teams will drop more points along the way.

Chelsea face a tough task at the Etihad, there're no denying that. City have won 11 of 11 in the league, scoring 42 goals in those games. Taking a point from them will be tough, and trying to defend for 90 minutes isn't the way to go. Chelsea have look vulnerable this season at the back, but have real quality going forward.  Let Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Lampard get on the ball. Test Joe Hart, and even more so, run at Martin Demichelis - he's the obvious weak link.

Mourinho is usually very solid tactically - he's not Special or the Chosen One, but he knows what he's doing. He can't outscore City, but he can put pressure on them and try and establish a his team on the front foot. Quite simply, if Chelsea sit back and try and play the counter-attack, they will lose.

Get Ramires on the ball, let Lampard dictate a slower pace (that's the only gear he has). If Yaya and David Silva start bossing it, the game is lost. Chelsea need to dominate possession and get the ball wide - and not mess about at the back.

Be bold Jose. You can't win or lost the title today, but you can make a statement as to what your Chelsea team are going to become.