Special, but Not in La Liga

With the apparent quinary of Clasicos, it is obvious that the single greatest managerial statistic is going to end this month. Since his relatively humble days in Portugal, sometime back in 03, the self-proclaimed Special One began a streak of records. Records that will never be replicated again. Undefeated at home for almost 8 years, Jose Mourinho did not lose at home in his last season with Porto, at all at Stamford Bridge, the San Siro, and for now, at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His streak of tactical genius might just end here with a sad halt in Madrid. His roster of high profile, head strong, fame-driven footballers might just be his downfall. Maybe a little optimism is needed, but what’s the point when you’ve got a roster of national team 7s, 9s, and 10s that just can’t cooperate? If only he had a pair of central midfielders that he could build a team around.

We all know the tactical prowess of The Special One, but what of the tactics themselves? Standard flat-back four with at least one reducer to move around, while the rest move up and down as 3-4 just sit back and clean up. He loves this, chess, and answering questions with questions, or at least ending sentences with interrogative tones. Makelele, Deco, Costinha, and the well-aged Cambiasso and Zanetti did it for him. Hung around and just cleaned up the mess that everyone else created. Why not? Can’t score if you can’t pass or even move. In Madrid, he has the fake German, Sami Khedira, and the folically well-endowed Xabi Alonso who hasn’t hit a signature long pass since leaving Anfield. What’s wrong? He has 8 other forwards to watch over, while Casillas sits and hopes a defender will remember to stay in a flat-back four. I hate watching them whine. It sucks. Why can’t professionals just be professional? If there is a new way to trim your sideburns, I am sure CR has already done it. I can’t watch another no look pass, I’ll die.

Being second to Barcelona isn’t really that bad, but at least allow a Special attempt at winning something. I don’t need another manager to tell me that he will bring home silverware and forget after 4 years that luster looks better in cabinets. It isn’t exactly Italy or England where tactics are easier to establish, but create your own ‘philosophy’ as the Catalonians call it and just win without flare.


R9 – Real Ronaldo retires today. Thank you

It will be decades before we find ourselves another player like Ronaldo. None better at carving through defenses for the sole purpose of scoring goals. Joga Bonito started with this man and today it has grown to another level because of him.

Thank you, with a smile on our faces –

Inter take Club World Cup, defeat bouncing bottoms of TP Mazembe

In a result that may keep beleaguered manager Rafa Benitez in a job for another week, Inter Milan smacked Congolese club TP Mazembe three goals to nil today to win the FIFA Club World Cup Final. Goran Pandev and Samuel Eto’o netted early in the first half, and 22 year old French striker Jonathan Biabiany put the game outside of Mazembe’s reach by rounding the keeper and firing home in the 70th minute. While the African club may have finished second in the competition, their appearance in the final was the first by a club from neither Europe or South America.

Setting history aside, Mazembe found a place in my heart thanks for the amazing goal celebrations by their keeper Muteba Kidiaba. Unlike Victor Valdes’ boring fingers pointed toward the heavens, or Lukasz Fabianski’s dropped waterbottle and probable injury, Kidiaba scoots around on the ground, using only the power of his derrière .

Seriously. Take a look.


FIFA’s World Cup 2022 – Qatar?.. Right

If you are like me and the rest of the sporting world, you are feeling an assortment of negative emotions. Of all four of those countries you decided on Qatar? If corruption was not the first thing that came to mind when you saw Sepp Blatter open that last envelope then you probably tried to figure out something about Qatar. Today, I bet I am just like the rest of the world (apart from any one with ties to the Middle East or the Islamic world) and learned their first trivia questions about this tiny country.

The entire nation - no need for panarama

The average temperature in Qatar is 115 degrees Fahrenheit. If I remember correctly, the players complained about the heat in the 1994 World Cup held here in the USA.  If they thought heat was unbearable back in 94′ then let us hope this oil hungry nation can air condition every square inch of their land.

If you are a tree hugging environmentalist you’ll hate this next thing. Qatar has the highest carbon-dioxide emissions per capita – 55.5 metric tons per person. That is higher than the USA and neighboring Kuwait. Want to know why? – Their #1 consumption of energy is due to AIR CONDITIONING. I really hope Sepp Blatter and the remaining 21 committee members plan on wearing bathing suits in this country. Oh and the nation is approximately 75% Islamic.. try getting away with wearing revealing clothing or doing anything that deviates from the strictly enforced rules of the religion.

Now let’s think about the size of this country. Compared to Connecticut, it has a population of around 1.5 million people. Yes, it is occupied by a 7 digit number. The USA held the World Cup in 9 different cities, does Qatar even have that many soccer fields? I’ll be honest, I have seen the potential fields and ideas that the people of Qatar are thinking of building and they look nice. Really nice:

Good, so they have fields. Can such a small nation hold the capacity of the massive numbers of tourists that plan on coming to Qatar? The World Cup in South Africa saw 400,000 tourists and if my math is correct, Qatar’s population will temporarily increase by over 26%. This means they will need to have enough hotels, restaurants, road ways, parking, food, workers, etc to hold at least 26% of their country at one time. I am sure Qatar gave it some thought before proposing to hold the World’s BIGGEST event.

They have listed their 6 highest populated cities and #1 – Doha holds just above 99,000 people. That alone will be a rude awakening when a potential 400,000 flood the streets. What might be a bit disturbing is their 6th most populated city Mesaieed. It has a population of just under 10,000.. wow. That is the size of a small town, but Welcome to Qatar.

The one thing Qatar has on the USA is history. Oh well.. like history is going to get you through the biggest event that country has and probably will ever see.

Lastly, and the most annoying thing to me – What are the real reasons for FIFA’s decision? The first thing that came to mind was the fact that we are having back-to-back Asian hosts. I also remembered that Russia is technically apart of UEFA. The idea of pure corruption was out of the picture, but then I continued reading into it. The Middle East region is an upcoming land and has the MONEY to hold such an important event. That’s all I will say, no implications, but they do have a lot of MONEY.

But at the end of the day, WC 2022 is still in Qatar and all I can do is wish them the best of luck. When the WC committee visits Qatar in mid-July I hope they realize they can’t just renege their decision when they are sweating in their expensive suits. I’ll be watching from my television in a normal climate.

Ann Arbor – The Big House to be World Cup 2022 Site

Today, the FIFA World Cup committee is going to announce the selections from the many candidates that applied and even bribed their way to this day. The USA with 9/2 odds is hopefully going to be selected as the host of the 2022 World Cup, while potentially England, Spain, and Russia could be the site for the 2018 World Cup.

For the sake of the country, I hope by 2022 we will all come to realize the importance of soccer in the world and have people enjoy it rather than embarrass themselves with a lack of understanding.
With that said, the Big House was selected as one of the final 27 locations for the 2022 World Cup. If the USA is chosen as the 2022 host nation, 18 of the 27 locations will be chosen to be the actual hosts of the World Cup Finals matches. At 10am today, if the USA is chosen, I will be ordering an entire booklet of tickets and wearing Maize and Blue underneath my USA jersey for all of July 2022.

The Big House seats 109,901 - Make It Happen

Who is really The Best?

What makes me laugh are the multitude of articles and conversations about who is the best player in the world. As if Monday’s El Clasico will help decide who is currently the best player in the world. There should not even be a question as to which player is the most consistent and most dangerous.

Lionel Messi IS The Best player on the planet.

Currently, both CR and Messi have each scored 21 goals in all competitions, but CR has 8 assists as Messi has 7. The big difference is that Messi has played in 6 less games than Cristiano. Barca’s #1 averages a goal per game and if match is not your strong suit then I will just state that Leo Messi is the current FIFA WPOY and is on track to repeat.

Tomorrow’s match between Real Madrid and Barcelona is not to determine who is the best, but rather how much better is Messi than Ronaldo.

The New Goalkeeper Hype

While Edwin Van Der Sar heads towards his midlife crisis and Gianluigi Buffon finding it difficult to maintain his sleek hair, new emerging keepers have come into question.

The top 3 Spanish goalkeepers, as well as Brazil’s#1 are still considered top class, however in the past couple years new names have emerged and have taken over as the #1 for top clubs and national teams.

France #1 - Hugo Lloris

The German’s have not had success in developing a goalkeeper since, arguably the best goalkeeper to date, Oliver Khan. In recent years a new, equally as pale and lengthy keeper has earned the #1 for Germany. Manuel Neuer has been compared to The Oliver Khan for the past 2 years. I’ve watched him rather closely and can tell he has the reflexes to top Iker Casillas, but Neuer is also currently sitting bottom of the table with Schalke 04.

soon-to-be Manchester United's #1 - Anders Lindegaard

Ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez was once recognized as one of the world’s greatest in net. For a few years he was MU’s #1 and during his time in Ligue 1, he won the European Cup. 1998 was the year he became a celebrity as he conceded just 2 goals in 7 games en route to winning the World Cup in front of his home crowd. Since then, a new face has emerged as 24 year old Hugo Lloris has now taken over as the French #1. A dismal performance by France in the previous World Cup destroyed Lloris’ image, however he is the most highly regarded keeper in France. Lyon would not be able to consistently compete in the close title race in France nor enter Champions League without him.

Somehow, Nordic countries have been able to consistently create some of the world’s best keepers to this day. Edwin Van Der Sar has been one of the EPL’s best if not The Best in the last few years. Last month, the most capped player in Dutch Football history turned 40, an age that is unheard of for most footballers, let alone athletes. I know goalkeepers are better with age, but 40+ is pushing it. Manchester United always manage to have top class goalkeepers and the hype is now behind a 26 year old that comes from the same country as the great Peter Schmeichel. Denmark native, Anders Lindegaard is set for his medical sometime in the near future and is all the talk to become the new Red, or green or blue or yellow, Devil #1. Van Der Sar has worn just about every color of the rainbow.

Still hard to pronounce - Itumeleng Khune of SA

One of the better goalkeepers, or at least one of the most talked about, did not come from Europe, Asia, nor South America. If you can pronounce his name you have conquered something. Itumeleng Khune, the South African Bafana Bafana goalkeeper. Nobody knew who he was until the host nation allowed him to distribute the ball for the first time. There is not a single goalkeeper in the world besides this guy that can side-volley a ball to a winger on the touchline without it going 40+ feet in the air. If there is one player with unusually large gloves on that I can trust to give a backpass to, it would be Mr. Itumeleng Khune. I don’t think South Africa’s hopes laid on the shoulders of Steven Pienaar, who hardly showed up during the summer, nor the long haired Tshabalala, but rather their keeper that kept them in the tournament. An unfortunate red card saw him off due to a Luis Suarez dive inside the box, but no other goalkeeper in the tournament could drop kick a ball right to a players foot. Get Khune out of Africa, someone could use his talents in Europe. If it is any consolation, you can probably sign his brother too. His name is Lucky Khune.

Itumeleng Khune