ten words or less #67

Monday in the middle of February. Everybody’s favorite day of the week in everybody’s favorite month. And though we’ve had some unseasonably warm temperatures here in the Midwest, the depression caused by lack of exposure to sunlight during the winter has seemed more palpable this year compared to last.

Real Madrid vs Manchester United Champions League

ronaldo and rooney are just two of the high-profile names squaring off this week. if you can’t get excited about that, go see a doctor. (Image courtesy of the BBC).

But fear not, football fans: there’s cause for your spirits to perk up this week. Champions League resumes, with a zesty marquee match up between Real Madrid and Manchester United to cure your wintertime blues. Europa League also picks back up, and though I’m understandably looking forward to Spurs’ tie with Lyon, several other intriguing matches are also on tap. And with the Premier League and others reaching the final third of the season, a full slate of pivotal matches to the relegation races and European places are also in the cards.

Though if you’re still suffering from a case of the Mundays even with such great soccer around the corner, below are some excellent links from the last week to help brighten your mood.

Spectacular custom subbuteo art: Hazard’s Ball Boy Incident. - subbuteo-art.blogspot.com

Gazza continues his slide down his sad slippery slope. – mirror.co.uk

Not always the norm, but a worrying prospect for players. – theuniondues.net

Nike’s marketing department strikes gold once again. – thebeautifulgear.com

Oh look, he’s not dead. - soccerbyives.com

I’m fast becoming a fan of Dortmund’s İlkay Gündoğan. – youtube.com

Wait… is it really that easy to get press credentials? – kckrs.com

Murdered out. - footballshirtculture.com

It seems like Sergio Ramos is finally growing up. – guardian.co.uk

Guess which club’s manager is against financial constraints. – soccerlens.com

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ten words or less #62

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving here in the States, it’s the time of year when many reflect upon all of the things in their lives for which they should be thankful. Things are no different here at WSOTP. And while I’m especially thankful for a wonderfully patient wife, a loving family, and that Spurs’ UnderArmour kits aren’t as hideous as I had anticipated — among other blessings — amongst other things too, of course — I do have one gripe I want to air about the holiday.

Thanksgiving Turkey Soccer

The dearth of usable Thanksgiving-themed soccer images on the internet is roughly equivalent to the amount of soccer normally on TV on Turkey Day.

Between the NFL and NCAA, the American-flavored version of football seems to go hand in hand with Thanksgiving. Games will be on all day tomorrow, and many families across the country will gather around their TV’s to watch as a part of their annual holiday tradition. But as my fellow soccer fans will attest, we’re normally left in the dark on Turkey Day by the major networks. This year, we’re lucky enough to have Europa League matches to occupy us, but they’re typically not high-profile matches. And while that’s enough for me, that doesn’t mean everyone else in my family will prefer round football to egg football this year. But since the festivities are being held at my house this year, the rules will be different… a new dawn for Thanksgiving traditions is in the cards.

But if your family won’t budge from their normal traditions, here are some links to help keep you from feeling neglected. Happy holidays everyone!

This article convinced me to subscribe to Howler quarterly. – whatahowler.tumblr.com

I want prints of these for my [imaginary] office. – 8bitfootball.wordpress.com

Or “Why fading European stars like to play in MLS.” – metro.co.uk

Old Italian men are weird. – dirtytackle.net

Little cheer at Wolves this season, except this brand refresh. – weareraw.co.uk

More Howler: maybe the USSF wants to forget its past? - theoriginalwinger.com

Next, bring this to the States. – fantasista.co.uk

Foolish man records tornado hitting soccer ground… for our enjoyment? – youtube.com

This defense of American soccer culture hit close to home. – sbnation.com

the real idiot

carlos tevez derp

derp... i has a hat.

Trust me when I say that I know that I’m hardly the world’s most PC football blogger. I know that I occasionally use offensive language to convey my points, but my hope is that my readers get that I’m not really a prejudiced/racist/offensive person… I’m just using slang as an to attempt to drive home my points and make the reading a bit more entertaining. So please don’t get offended with what I’m about to say…

Carlos Tévez might be retarded.

What? Do you have a better explanation for everything going on with the Argentine at the Eastlands Etihad?

I’ll admit that I’ve been giving Carlos the benefit of the doubt for a while. Regardless of the quasi-understandable excuses he provided for his behavior — not being able to adjust to life in England, trouble on the home front, he’s not being respected by his club, etc. — you could forgive his tirades as his regular goals and effort on the pitch made your side much better on the whole. So much did his on field exploits influence my opinion, I was even beginning to feel some sympathy for the guy.

But after the latest melee with Mancini in Munich, I’m starting to question Tévez’s mental capacity. The constant stream of blame shifting pouring from his mouth has become so regular, I suspect even he doesn’t know what he’s saying anymore.

Let’s take a quick look at the “Tévez Timeline” that I created below to try to catalog some of this madness:The Tevez Timeline

Noting that the above lacks the incident in which he controversially called Gary Neville the heinous name of “boot licker”, it’s clear that many of the decisions made by Crazy Carlos are not those of a sane mind. Collectively, they appear to point to a man who is mentally unstable.

The tryst on the Bayern sidelines has predictably resulted in the press, club management and both neutral and rabid fans alike all calling for Tévez’s head on a plate. How dare a player who is paid so much tell his manager no in such dire circumstances? And they’re right, as not many of us could speak to our bosses that way and expect to be able to talk about at the water cooler next week.

But thanks to such a polarizing choice of action, for the first time in ages it seems that the majority of public opinion is on the same side of an issue as Manchester City… something I couldn’t have ever predicted six months ago.

Tévez’s refual to play in the Champions League has been labeled the prime example of how players now garner too much power in today’s game. It’s players like Crazy Carlos that are to blame for the lack of loyalty in the sport, the undermining of managerial power within squads, super-high salaries, and Qatar bribing their way to a winning World Cup bid. “That’s why City should make an example of him,” they say.

And to some degrees they’re correct. But just as I’m about to light my torch and gather my pitchfork to go join the masses in marching Tévez to the gallows, I remember my offensive remark from earlier: Carlos Tévez might be retarded.

kia joorabchian and carlos tevez

joorabchian has skillfully used tévez to blind us from what's really going on behind the scenes.

How is it possible that a guy like Carlos freaking Tévez would be able to game the clubs so effectively? The guy can barely speak to the press without contradicting himself every other sentence; I hardly think that he’d be able to intentionally cause a constant flow of drama and rubbish excuses to always better his situation. After all, these guys that own influential clubs are fairly intelligent men: otherwise they wouldn’t be able to afford buying a club in the first place, right?

You see, Tévez isn’t the only idiot in town. All of us — the writers, the fans, the managers and the clubs — should be categorized as retarded, too.

While we all point fingers at a spoiled, hapless, scarred Argentine boy who just so happens to have made himself fabulously rich by being amazingly skilled at the sport of soccer… someone behind the scenes is pulling all of the strings and making even more money than Tévez could fathom.

Men like Kia Joorabchian lurk in the shadows, whispering in the ears of the players, telling them the clubs don’t treat them fairly and saying that they deserve more. Kia would be content for City to hold on to him, as he’ll still get his cut of the weekly salary even if Carlos is suspended and kept away from the training ground. And he could give a damn if the forward is sacked by City. In fact this scenario would be of of even great benefit to Kia, as   “advising” the club to either sell or sack Tévez will result in him netting even more cash when the inevitable deal with a new club is struck.

We just end up ignoring all of that because we’re too busy focusing on the spotlight that Kia has pointed at Tévez. The Argentinian, never the sharpest in the bunch, was nothing more than a puppet to distract us from the backroom deals that Joorabchian is wrangling. A lucrative move to a Inter was floated at the end of the transfer window, and it wouldn’t be outlandish to think the Kia and Moratti are already hammering out the provisions of a “rescue” offer for Tévez.

If that all seems a little far fetched for you, consider Corinthian’s failed bid for Tévez over the summer.

Even for a former fan favorite, a €40 million bid from the Brazilian side seemed a bit incomprehensible. While the Brazilian economy is on the rise and the country is making great strides forward, that kind of investment seemed a bit risky considering the Brazilian league system isn’t exactly rife with clubs turning profits. But then I remembered that Corinithians is partly “owned” by sports venture capitalist group MSI, which is in turn headed by none other than Kia Joorabchian. Yeah.

So when you hear that City pulled out of the deal because they wanted all of the transfer fee up front, a more clear picture starts to take shape. Joorabchian’s MSI would have been the one’s paying the transfer fee, and they didn’t want to fork out all of that money up front for a player the group is already making money from in the first place. Meanwhile, they’ve allowed the failed transfer to set a market price for Tévez’s services, and then set Crazy Carlos loose to squawk and throw hissy fits while they find a more suitable way to maximize their profits through another deal.

Brilliant, if manipulative, work if I do say so myself. They’ve made us all look like fools by shifting the blame for Carlos’ issues away from the root source (themselves) to the player, all while they plan their next scheme in the background. Blinded by our anger for such disrespectful behavior by, we’re oblivious to the trick being played on us.

While we yell at the idiot, the real shakers and movers are laughing all of the way to the bank.

trouble in the city

manchester city's carlos tevez and roberto mancini

an unsettled tevez is the largest of mancini's problems with the city strike corps.

As we broach the halfway point of the summer signing period, it’s fair to say that the transfer docket has been a busy one already. Big money moves by the traditional powers across Europe have been popping  up on the news radar since the days immediately following the close of last season:

Let’s not forget the rumor mill either, as headlines linking power sides like Barcelona (who have all but signed the dynamic Alexis Sánchez), Chelsea (links to just about everyone), and Juventus (failing miserably so far, but still in for Kun Agüero) to star names the world over. So expecting further transfer excitement this summer is a given.

Of course, there’s one other big player in the transfer market that I haven’t mentioned thus far… everyone’s favorite oil-rich side, Manchester City. City have been, predictably, linked to every player on the planet just as they have for since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover two seasons ago. (I’m convinced that they throw their hat into every transfer discussion, even if they’re not actually interested, simply to drive up the price for their rivals).

And for those concerned that the world will continue to be flipped upside down with mega bids left and right, the Citizens picked up right where they left off in January. Already completed are the signings of Arsenal’s Gaël Clichy and Partizan’s Stefan Savić, both of whom will bolster City’s wide defensive options. Neither of those acquisitions is that surprising when you consider the style of play adopted by manager Roberto Mancini, who always seems more than content to pack it in and hold out for draws.

At the attacking end of the pitch, on the surface it also appears that they’re getting even stronger without spending an (additional) dime. Disregarding the existing strikers on staff, the sky blues will also the return of several class strikers to City of Manchester Stadium Etihad Stadium this summer from various loans. Craig Bellamy returns from the wilds of the Championship, and Adebayor returns from a decent spell at Real Madrid.

craig bellamy and roberto mancini of manchester city

something tells me that bellamy is putting on a fake smile here.

It would be foolish to think that there won’t be other signings (including what could be a retarded move for Arsenal’s Samir Nasri, who is essentially the same type of player as David Silva), so you could forgive someone for thinking that they might just be unbeatable next year.

So while all of that makes Citeh look like certain trophy challengers, I can’t shake the nagging feeling that the team’s current offensive circumstances might be a sign that their master plan to become a world power might not be going to plan.

Bellamy hates Mancini
Since it’s been a while since the Welshman has made any relevant headlines, it might be worth me hashing out a quick refresher on the Craig Bellamy-Manchester City story. Let’s just say, it could best be described as “rough”:

  • January 2009: City sign Bellamy from West Ham, their first “big” offensive signing of the Oil Era, for a reported £14 million. Craig leaves the Hammers among rumors that he was forcing his way out of the squad.
  • December 2009: Bellamy threatens to leave the Citizens over the firing of manager Mark Hughes, and is subsequently dropped by new manager Roberto Mancini.
  • August 2010: Fearing that he might not make the Mancini’s 25-man EPL roster after the arrivals of Carlos Tévez, Jô (back from his Everton loan), Roque Santa Cruz and eventually Mario Balotelli, Bellamy mulls retirement and expresses frustration with Mancini’s lack of faith in him. He eventually leaves on loan to Championship side Cardiff City, his hometown club.
  • June 2011: Hoping to make his loan to Cardiff permanent, Craig asks that City let him leave on a free transfer. The sky blue’s respond by slapping a £4m price tag on him… very unaffordable for such a small club.
The Welshman recently stated that he fully expects City to let him rot in the reserves this year unless a club meets their valuation of him, and that he and Mancini haven’t spoken since the week after the Italian arrived at the club. Old legs and a nasty injury record do give some weight to Mancini’s position, but a player of Bellamy’s… uh… pedigree festering on the bench would be equivalent to a cancer in the dressing room. And we already know how bad that can get.

Džeko could be impotent.
It’s still too early to call the Bosnian a bust, but I think the Bosnian is a bust. Six goals in 21 appearances for the Citizens is under-performing when you cost 27 million and reportedly asked for 175k per week in wages, unless you’re Chelsea and think that’s a great return compared to their baby-faced flop.

City will undoubtedly really want Džeko to make a u-turn this season, and a return to the form he showed at Wolfsburg (85 goals in 135 matches) would be a gigantic boost for next season’s prospects. It’s a steep hill to climb back to that level though, and if his confidence in front of goal carries over from last season, it could be a very difficult hill to climb.

If Džeko does want to reach his lofty purchase price, someone needs to make sure he doesn’t ask this guy for advice.

emmanuel adebayor at manchester city

will adebayor be able to secure a permanent deal at real madrid to escape his city hell?

Adebayor hates City.
You have to give to Ade: the guy has the uncanny ability to always stumble up. Regardless of where he plies his trade, the Togolese striker has starts the stint wonderfully, ends it woefully, but still manages to turn his next gig into a better one (see his goals to games ratio during his career).

Manchester City quickly looked to loan off the big man after his production started to fall off, and newer shinier strikers began arriving on the regular. And when he predictably put in a decent showing while on loan at Real Madrid, you just knew that Adebayor would try to trip into a permanent deal at the most historically successful club of all time.

Unable to secure a deal before the close of last season, Emmanuel headed back to Manchester for preseason. But Roberto Mancini long ago deemed the striker surplus to requirements, and left him off the club’s preseason travel roster. Naturally, this angered Ade. Seeing that the player and club’s relationship over the last year could best be described as tepid, I can’t imagine that now he would be even close to the type of player you would want mingling amongst your squad.

Balotelli is certifiably crazy.
I don’t care if he is giving away money and providing youngsters with (shoddy) advice; I’m not going to be fooled. There’s not really any need for me to elaborate, but if you really want to hear my thoughts on the Italian wild child… let me just leave this here.

Let’s just say putting all of your chips in the crazy kid’s corner on the goal scoring front might not be the wisest decision.

Tévez needs to leave.
For the longest time now, I’ve thought Carlos Tévez has just been a whiny bitch. He complains about life in England and how he’s not found anything to do there in five years, but he’s not even bothered to learn English. Tévez has long said that he’s been considering retirement, despite having his peak years ahead of him and lot’s more earning power. He came off as mercenary punk during his exit from Manchester United, and then rubbed his previous supporters’ faces in the mud by openly mocking them after joining their biggest rivals. And for the better part of 6 months, he’s been trying to squeeze his way out of City.

But if you were to ask me whether all of the drama that comes with employing Tévez would be worth having him on my team, I would overwhelmingly tell you “yes.” There’s no arguing that the mercurial Argentine is one of the most productive strikers in the game, bagging 86 goals in 180 matches for the two Manchester clubs. He has an engine that never stops, an asset that can’t be overvalued as he does it on both sides of the ball. Simply put, his on pitch efforts outweigh all of that, and I suspect that’s why clubs puts up with him.

What I didn’t realize though, was there was another driving factor in Carlos’ hope to leave the Citizens. While it’s clear that striker is at least a little unsettled, it’s really his wife who has had it with life in England. She’s already threatened to leave her fabulously rich husband because it’s so horrible in the British Isles. I mean, her husband’s band doesn’t even have a charted pop hit in England! How is this possible?!?! And while the two temporarily patched things up, she’s already moved back to Argentina, and me thinks she’s threatened to leave him permanently if he doesn’t follow her home. You can’t blame a guy for wanting to do what it takes to keep his family together.

Whether or not Corinthians or Boca Juniors, the only clubs that Tévez says he’d go back to South America for, have the ability to shell out the funds necessary to pry one of the elite strikers on the planet away from City remains to be seen. I suspect that if Carlos does go back to one of those clubs, it will only be if his “agent” Kia Joorbachian ponies up some of the fee himself and resumes his 3rd party ownership role (which is fairly prevalent in the Argentine and Brazilian spheres).

A lot needs to happen for Tévez to be reunited with his family anytime soon, and sadly for him, he may have to retire to make it happen.

The others are unproven or not good.
I’m not going to waste my breath talking about Jô, who is miraculously getting some looks from some Russian Premier League sides, as he clearly can’t cut it in England. Roque Santa Cruz was washed up when City signed him, and he’ll be lucky to trick Blackburn into taking him back again. Alex Nimely, a 20-year-old Liberian striker who’s been at the club since 2008, hasn’t sniffed the pitch during a first team match yet.

Needless to say, if two of Tévez, Adebayor and Bellamy leave, the Citizens definitely need to bolster their attacking ranks.

—————————————-

Look, I’m not trying to write Manchester City off this season. Their pockets are too deep, their playing staff too talented, and they did well enough last season with similar problems to qualify for the Champions League. To discount them, even with their strike force’s plethora of problems, would be nothing short of foolish. But if I were a City supporter (and due to their badass line with Umbro, I sometimes wish I was), I would be extremely worried about those problems.

If you’re trying to chase glory with three unsettled and unhappy strikers looking to move away, an overpriced dud, and a player who belongs in a straight jacket, even with all the talent in the rest of the squad… well, don’t expect to make it any higher than you’ve already made it.