Sunderland’s Problem Is Not Their Fans

March 1, 2011


Ahmed El-Mohamady
“These are strange times for Sunderland football club. Even though this is undoubtedly the Black Cats’ best season for many a year with the team comfortably ensconced in the top ten of the Premier League, there have been rumblings of discontent, not least from Niall Quinn, the club’s popular chairman, who said that he “despised” those fans who watched the team on dodgy foreign channels in local pubs instead of coming to the ground.” The Swiss Ramble

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Milan 3-0 Napoli: Napoli don’t turn up

March 1, 2011

“Milan recorded a comfortable victory over a hugely disappointing Napoli side. Max Allegri gave Marek Jankulovski a rare start at left-back. Upfront, he used the Robinho-Pato-Ibrahimovic trio. Walter Mazzarri played his usual XI with one exception – Ezequiel Lavezzi was unavailable, so Giuseppe Mascara started instead. Napoli were extremely poor throughout the game. Their passing was very sloppy, they lacked drive or creativity from the centre of midfield, and Edinson Cavani couldn’t get into the game. Milan were below par in the first half, but stepped it up in the second and never looked likely to give up the lead once Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a penalty in the 48th minute.” Zonal Marking


The Striker’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick

March 1, 2011

“The keeper has this odd habit—it could be strategic, it could be a mind-game—of setting himself up not in the middle of the goal mouth but to his left. Standing in this peculiarly off-centered position, he turns towards the gap he has created, readying himself to leap across. He seems to be daring me to strike the penalty hard enough and accurately enough to beat his spring towards the vast opening.” Run of Play


AZ 2 – 1 Twente: An emotional defeat for the Dutch Champions

March 1, 2011


“Reigning Eredivisie champions Twente were defeated by the previous champions, AZ. This all happened in a much debated game, played out in pouring rain, bringing all the excitement that may be expected when these two teams are involved, and more. Twente received their second red card of the season after Douglas lost control near the end of the first half. Their first red card of this season? Indeed, Douglas, against AZ at home, in the first half, with the same referee, Ruud Bossen. Twente went on to lose that game 1-2 too… So after Twente being the only team unbeaten by AZ in their winning 2008/09 Eredivisie campaign, this year AZ is the only team to beat Twente twice.” 11 tegen 11


Manchester United & Alexander the Great

March 1, 2011

“‘I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion’. With a look at the parallels between Alexander the Great & Manchester United’s own great Sir Alex Ferguson, welcome to IBWM Dan Leydon.” In Bed With Maradona


Arsenal’s defence must overcome its mental barriers

March 1, 2011

“So the monkey on Arséne Wenger’s back remains. On Sunday, it was viciously clawing and grasping onto Wenger’s shoulders, trying desperately to keep balanced; especially so after Arsenal dominated the middle period of the second-half, aiming shot after shot at Ben Foster’s goal. Today, it rests happily on his back, chain-smoking like a simian Zdeněk Zeman casually wearing a porter’s uniform as if waiting for work – without the trousers, of course. On Wednesday night, it will surely be back to its taunting best, furiously pointing and gesticulating at the manager who faces an FA Cup replay at home to Leyton Orient.” The Arsenal Column


On Soundtracks

March 1, 2011

“I’ve found the problem with trying to draw connections between two distinct, unrelated professions is that it’s almost always a zero-sum affair. Comparing apples and oranges in the end still leaves you with nothing but apples and oranges. If I were to tell you for example that sometimes watching Barcelona is like watching an improvised fugue, with contrapuntal subjects weaving in and out of each other over the cantus firmus of the holding midfielder, it might sound profound but it doesn’t tell you anything new about either music or football. This kind of synesthesia is useful only when trying to craft especially pretentious metaphors.” Run of Play