Prodigy. Genius. Magical. There was an endless list of superlatives used to describe Joe Cole as he rose like a phoenix through the ranks at West Ham’s academy during the 1990s. The future of English football. His emergence would signal a new breed of player in the birthplace of the game. Technique, skill and imagination would come to the fore, with the strength, discipline and desire so implanted in the psyche of the English game taking a back-seat. Such was Cole’s natural ability; future teams would be constructed to suit his strengths. However now aged 28, supposedly when a player is at his peak, Chelsea are stalling on offering Cole a new deal. His World Cup place is under severe threat. How has it come to this?
What a week it was. The David Beckham hype-machine went into over-drive in the build-up to his reunion with Manchester United. Arsenal conceded two of the more farcical goals of this, or any other season. In Germany, Bayern Munich scored possibly the most offside goal in the history of the European Cup, and closer to home, Portsmouth’s ever-increasing debt mean they are facing administration and the sanctions that it brings with it. In all the confusion, Liverpool’s first venture back into the competition formerly known as the UEFA Cup since 2004 was placed firmly on the back burner. The Europa League had arrived at Anfield, receiving a rather lukewarm reception from the 40,450 in attendance. These brave souls not only braved the elements, but also a quite turgid 90-plus minutes on the pitch.
Matchday One in the Champions’ League group stages had a familiar feel
about it. All the English teams won, both Raul and Filipo Inzaghi scored for their respective clubs, Real Madrid were involved in 7 goal humdinger, and only one of the record 8 newcomers managed a victory on their debut in the Champions League as it is today. It’s all becoming a bit stale. This year’s tournament snuck up on us, and the sense of anticipation of the beginning of what is the biggest club competition in the world wasn’t as evident as previous seasons. Something needs to be done to put the life back into Old Big Ears.
There it was. It flashed across the bottom of my screen with the familiar yellow tag. Thursday the 11th of June 2009 would be a day I would never forget. These are the type of moves that sake the very foundations on which football is built. Where are they getting the money? How will he fit into the style of play? Will he settle in the area? But enough about Scott Dann’s thrilling £4 million switch to Birmingham from Coventry. Cristiano Ronaldo somehow managed to make the most predicable transfer of the 21st century drag out for over 2 years. His ambiguous comments about Madrid, claiming he is ‘happy at Manchester United’, questioning his manager’s tactics were just a few of the ploys he used to make himself even more desirable for Real Madrid. Did he even utter a word to thanks the club and manager that over the last 6 years made him the biggest name in football? Sure why would he?
Any time the camera focused on Alex Ferguson last Wednesday night, it showed him in an unusual pose. He was sitting down quietly. He looked lost, defeated, deflated. He realised soon after Samuel E’too’s 10th minute toe poke under Edwin van Der Saar that there was no way back. A one goal margin was all there was, but it seemed insurmountable. Ferguson’s teams have never known when they are beaten, as we have seen all too often over the last 20 years. Against Sheffield Wednesday in ’93, Bayern Munich in ’99, Tottenham ’01. Certain defeats turned into glorious triumph. But this Barcelona team was not for bullying.
More of the usual ‘mind games’ coming from the Manchester United camp last night, with news of Cristiano Ronaldo’s ankle needing strapping, and Nemanja Vidic holding his hamstring. They have tried calling the media’s bluff on too many occasions in the past. Not even Sky Sports fell for this one. And that says an awful lot. Those two will undoubtedly start and have been vital to the United cause since for the past three seasons. But it’s Ferguson’s promise of a start to two of the lesser lights in his vast squad that has given me reason to doubt the Scotsman’s decision in the biggest game in club football. Tonight’s Champion’s League Final in Rome against Barcelona.
Katherine Heigl made her long awaited jump from a bit-part player in hospital drama Grey’s Anotamy to having a lead role in a film, 27 Dresses. A thought-provoking romantic comedy which is harrowingly real in every way imaginable, from the fact that someone as beautiful as Heigl would struggle to find a date, to the notion that she would have 27 people who would want her to be a bridesmaid at their wedding. I am yet to have the misfortune to have seen this movie, but I think I have a fair idea of what happens. But will football’s perannial bridesmaid have such a happy ending? One would think after last week’s events perhaps not.
Resiliance.Immense.Heroic. These were the adjectives used in the media to describe Chelsea’s parking of the bus on Tuesday night at the Nou Camp. I haven’t seen anything as overboard than that since Goldie Hawn in the film,er, Overboard
Glancing throught the papers yesterday, one would have thought that it was a team of cobblers and postmen that had battled their way to a goalless draw at the Nou Camp.