Tag Archives: soccer

Football Vs. Futbol





Whatever Happened to the Two Sport Athlete? Are They About to Make a Comeback!?!

I was reading this Rob Neyer article, and he was talking about how great Bo Jackson was. To this day he is one of my favorite all time Raiders. I loved his Tiger handheld game as well. He dominated Deion in the battle of the best two-sport athlete by a long shot. Unfortunately for Bo, and for us, his career ended far too early. It got me wondering why there aren’t more two sport athletes these days, but if you look at the salaries back then he wasn’t making close to what guys are today. Granted it was the early 90’s, and with inflation money was worth a little more than it is now, but his final year in Oakland he earned $1.6M, and in Kansas City he pulled in $2.6M.  I’m not saying this is chump change, but the crappy players weren’t quite to the point of getting paid ridiculous amounts of money during Bo’s days, and even the best players weren’t completely paid. So my thinking was that as contracts rose in EVERY sport the need to play more than one sport lessened. The last guy I can even think of that stood out in two sports was Charlie Ward being the general for Florida State’s offense in football and basketball, but even he didn’t play two sports professionally, which I think proves my point that athlete’s don’t need to play two sports anymore because the money is so ridiculously good in whichever one they choose. The closest thing we’ve had recently is a Nike commercial with Lebron blocking a field goal for the Cleveland Browns. With the very real possibility of a lockout for two of our sports (NFL and NBA), I wanted to throw out some ideas for guys and types of players that I think would try to make the jump to another sport either out of boredom or the need to support the $500,000 a month spending lifestyle. Continue reading

Trying to Get Into the World Cup…

I’ve always found it tough to get into soccer, but DO make more of an effort when the World Cup rolls around. Maybe it’s because I haven’t followed soccer at any other point in my life or like MCeezy found, somethings just aren’t for you. Maybe it’s because I didn’t play soccer past the age of 10. Maybe it’s because we bring guys into the MLS like Beckham who are obviously washed up even before making their trip overseas. Whatever the case, I try hard to get excited about watching some of the matches during the World Cup, and this year, I’ve found it harder to get into than years past (maybe because it’s still the first round). I might be missing that roommate who fills out brackets, and is constantly waking me from my slumber to watch two countries I’ve barely even heard of.

I’ve had numerous friends/roommates tell me about the glorious game of soccer is in an attempt to get me more engaged, but it just isn’t happening for some reason. I can understand and appreciate the different types of strategies being used by different countries, and how they are supposed to be effective, but still find myself bored through much of the matches. I feel like you have to watch at least two or three games just to witness one highlight reel goal, or a guy breaking ankles with some moves, or even some great goalie saves. I love the clips that Dyslecix and Cali4Dre send in the e-mail chains, but never see those happen live. Instead, during games I find myself wondering if that was a foul or the player took a page from the Vlade Divac School of Flopping. At least with the NBA, they are scoring every couple times down the court, and you’ll see a few amazing dunks or drives during the game. Speaking of, here’s a funny clip of what the NBA would be like without scoring. With soccer I feel like I can change the channel for twenty or thirty minutes, and when I go back, 80%  of the time nothing has really happened. Another thing I’ve found myself hating is the extra time. Why is there only one guy who knows how much extra time there is at the end of a half/game? I find it comical when a team is losing by a couple of goals at the end of a game, and they are  just passing the ball back and forth essentially killing the clock, but nobody knows exactly how long that clock will last!

Anyways, I think the major reason I don’t watch is because the U.S. basically sucks at the sport. I’m sure if there was a freakish Lebron type athlete on our team, I’d probably get into it a little more. It’s hard to get excited about our team when it’s considered a great year to make it to the second round or quarterfinals, and if you didn’t know what being a Warriors fan is like, rooting for U.S. soccer might just be a fair comparison expectation wise. They are exciting and watchable, but you know that they aren’t going anywhere. American’s don’t like to root for anything that loses, and until the U.S. makes it to a semi or finals match, we will continue to be apathetic towards the sport. I’ve watched both of the US matches, we got lucky in one, and robbed in the other. It was rough seeing them lose to a bad call on Friday, and the one problem I have is that EVERYBODY saw that we got screwed, but there’s no way to reconcile it. If everyone concedes that it was in fact a goal, why are we left with a tie when there WAS a decisive winner?!? At least with Jim Joyce we got an explanation and an apology. If this is the beautiful game that the world loves, then we need some way to get it right or at least some words from the man who made the call to be pissed about or forgiven completely! The whole story was as unsettling as the BP oil spill. Another thing that irks me about that game is we now could conceivable get knocked out of the World Cup by the tie breaker of, pulling a name out of a hat. It might be a long shot for that scenario, but if the U.S. gets another draw with a final of let’s say 0-0, and if England gets a draw with a 2-2 score we would have the same amount of goals and points as England. The third and fourth tiebreakers after team points and goals scored would also match up, and we’d be left with pulling a name out of a hat. This has to rate above the blown call that Crowley made on the ridiculous meter. I don’t even think I could’ve made this up! Who the f*** wants a drawing to decide something like this? Bring the two teams out to the field for a shootout, thumb wrestling, paper rock scissors, anything somewhat competitive instead of this!  Imagine if there was a tie in the Super Bowl at the end of overtime, and they stopped the game to pick a winner out of a hat. All hell would break loose! I’m actually kind of rooting for that to happen now that I know it’s a possibility! It’s actually possible for it to happen in a couple of groups. Maybe that will be my motivation for watching this week’s games. Let’s go USA, can you play to tie the game!?!

Where Am I, and What Did I Just Watch???

A Danish Panda? How Fitting!

I’ve been back from China for a week now, and I can’t figure out what happened. Now that the NBA Finals are over, I’ve come to find my sports weekend consisted of soccer and golf. Now I’m not one of those people who talk shit about soccer and golf, but it’s just not for me. I appreciate the game of soccer, and I’ll find my way out on the links every month or two, but watching it on TV for me is the equivalent of popping a couple of Ambien. It just doesn’t do it for me. However, in the last week, I’ve watched three FULL soccer matches, which brings my lifetime total up to, well, three. Much of the credit goes to my screwed up sleeping schedule. The majority of night’s sleep has come to an abrupt stop somewhere between 3 – 4am.  I’m actually thankful the World Cup is going on in South Africa right now. Those 4:30am games have been a lifesaver. But then, what’s my excuse for sitting down and watching the entire Cameroon-Denmark game on a Saturday afternoon? That one’s easy though. With the absence of a Chinese team, I’ve got to root for my other ethnicity, the Danish. I watched them lose to the Netherlands in their opening game, and after stumbling out of the gate against Cameroon, I was left texting Tony asking if the Danes were really this bad. Thankfully, right on cue, they scored a goal to tie it up, and then added another to give them the win, and eliminate Cameroon. Apologies to Tophatal. I would’ve actually been rooting for Cameroon had they been playing anyone else. This match was much better the other two I caught. First, the aforementioned Denmark-Netherlands game, and then later in the week, I took in the Argentina manhandling of South Korea. I guess I should be excited about seeing a hat trick, which has to be somewhat of a big deal, since three goals TOTAL in a game seems infrequent. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of an Asian team.

On to golf…. the advent of High Definition television has certainly made golf more appealing to me, but it still only can hold my attention for so long. I’d basically just be checking out the scenery, but not paying attention to who’s doing what. You’d think that’d be the case this weekend, since the US Open was right here in our backyard at Pebble Beach, but I found myself actually following what was going on. Maybe that’s not a good thing, as I found myself rooting for a young fellow named Dustin Johnson, only to watch him completely meltdown en route to a +11 day, surrendering a three stroke lead in the process. Perhaps I got hooked today because the players looked like me on the golf course. I’m pretty sure I could’ve hung in there with Johnson through the first three holes. What’s weird is the A’s were playing their way to a win in St Louis on the other channel, yet I found myself glued to the Open.  I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m ready for the NBA Draft, or the NFL season, something. Anyone know when the UFL season starts? I might be ready to go watch Daunte Culpepper play on the home field of the worst college football program in the history of the NCAA soon.

Wayne Rooney Nick’s More then Goals!!

Granted as a Chelsea fan when it comes to any Manchester United I should simply hate it out of hand. But how do you not love this clip of Wayne Rooney trying sneak in a beer as he watched his team play on Saturday. It was a massive affair and the lad surely had nerves that needed calming. So, what do you do? Hijack that beer (I’m betting you ordered in the first place) that a waitress had dropped off at a nearby table.

Hat’s off Mr. Rooney, after the season you’ve had you deserve as many pints as you want. Not even this Chelsea fan can deny you that. You may need a few more after the World Cup!

Is Chelsea FC Beginning to Crumble?

 If you’ve read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll know I’m the resident soccer fan here, and an ardent supporter of Chelsea FC. Last years second half collapse in the EPL, followed by our shocking exit from the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona was a tough 3 months for Blues fans to endure.  Before the offseason had even really begun, Chelsea’s swoop of Carlo Ancelotti seemed like the perfect transition from Guus Hiddink…With Manchester United loosing Ronaldo and Tevez the stage seemed relatively set for Chelsea to reclaim its title as the best team in England.

 Fast-forward to December 1st , after four months of results, Chelsea fans were bullish that the season was shaping up to be one of the most successful in club history. Easy Champions League qualifications and massive wins over Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal made Chelsea seem almost invincible. Two weeks later Chelsea head into……..(shall I really say it? Okay here it goes)…..a must win game against Everton to stem the tide of three miserable results. A 3-3 tie with Blackburn, a 2-1 loss to Manchester City, and a hapless high scoring 2-2 draw at home against Apoel Nicosia was a flood  of goals and equally bad results. Is this the opening for Manchester United was waiting to exploit? Is the loss of form a flash back to the rein of Luiz Felipe Scolari and his sudden turn of fortune in 2007?

 Sure maybe I’m totally panicking for no reason, three games in a row in such a long season is nothing, right? I’m not so sure……..

 I’ll argue that this weekends match against Everton is a must win affair not because three points are simply at stake, but because Chelsea’s next 7 EPL opponents are equally as bad if not worse (Burnley, Portsmouth, Hull, Birmingham twice, Sunderland, West Ham). Getting three points this Saturday sets up a run of opponents we should being taking maximum points from, dropping points at the start to a depleted Everton team would make it officia, Chelsea are in trouble.

 In the end however, Look for Chelsea to win 3-0 this Saturday, as well as take 25 points out of a possible 27 over there next 9 games…..United better be spot on…Chelsea aren’t going anywhere!

Taunting at its Best!

I’m not a huge soccer fan or can really even talk all that knowledgeably about the sport. This clip is pretty funny though. I love taunting in any sport, no matter what type of sportsmanship it may alienate. It just makes it more fun, and I’m a firm believer that we all would like to see the NFL let football players do whatever they want when they score. Anyways, the taunting displayed in this clip is straight classic! Enjoy!

Soccer Players Gone WILD

This video is making the rounds in cyberspace right now. Check out the Brandon Spikes of women’s college soccer….

English Premier League Weekend Predictions

Portsmouth vs. Everton

When Soccernet of all publications, is breaking stories about you and labeling your club “in disarray, crisis stricken, being on the brink of bankruptcy,” you know things can’t get much worse. Despite a recent takeover, Portsmouth would appear to be on the cusp of extinction in some various form or another. These internal club issues never equate to a settled locker room, and you can be sure David Moyes and company are looking to take full advantage, and snap up 3 points at Fratton Park. Everton come into this game having finally found there footing in recent matches , while Portsmouth are deseverldy at the bottom of the EPL.

Everton 3 – Pompey 0


 Blackburn Rovers vs. Aston Villa

 Although the Premier League season has just begun, Blackburn can’t be happy with the start they have made. Rover’s will be remiss to have only 4 points to date, and stuck in 18th. Villa meanwhile, with European ambitions squarely on there radar for them this season should so far be content with 12 points sitting in 5th.  With a Healthy Heskey and Ashley Cole returning from injury, Villa will be expecting 3 more points from this game, but a road game at Ewood Park is never easy.

 Villa 2 – Blackburn 1

 Tottenham Hotspur vs. Burnley

 Spurs hot start to the season should leave many fans exited about the prospects of European football . However, to accomplish anything of the sort this season, Tottenham must win games like this against bottom half clubs. Burnley, whose early season highlight was a shock win over Manchester United, must right the ship when playing on the road. There form is dour when traveling, and they are still looking for a point away from home. With question marks surrounding Tottenhams backline, Burnley may have a chance to sneak out a result.

 Spurs 1 – Burnley 1


 Birmingham City vs. Bolton Wanderers

hottiefootiebabes_99157Birmingham always faced an uphill battle to stave off relegation this season, and a quick 7 points to start the season should give ample hope to City fans that reaching the all important 40pts is achievable. Bolton meanwhile may finally be facing the relegation dance they’ve been lucky to avoid in seasons past. I’ve always believed Bolton have over achieved in past campaigns, and avoiding relegation issues with the type of talent they put out on the pitch has been an accomplishment byself.  I think this is there season of reckoning.   

 Birmingham 1 – Bolton 0

 Wigan Athletic vs. Chelsea

 Wigan’s early season results can be described as lifeless at best. A horrific loss to Wolves, a beat down by Manchester United, a comprehensive Carling Cup loss to Championship side Blackpool, and another drubbing at the hands of Arsenal will not leave Wigan in the best of moods witch Chelsea coming to town. The Blues sport a maximum 18 points, with a crisp flowing form that should lend itself to an easy victory. Having said that, it was games like this that derailed Chelseas title push last year and Carlo Ancellotti will be looking to avoid any similar slip ups. A missing Drogba should have little impact on the outcome of this match. 

Chelsea 2 – Wigan 0

 Fulham vs. Arsenal

My upset pick of the week (yeah maybe I’m crazy), and a match I just have a hunch about. Arsenal love to impress and leave you depressed on any given match day. With a London derby at hand, I have a sneaking feeling Fulham get a result. Such a feeling runs completely counter to the form that each club has going at the moment, so I may look foolish for this. Arsenal lead the league in goals scored, and  Fulham have been struggling to find any consistent goal scorer. Shock result or not, this isn’t going to be any sort of classic.

Fulham 2 – Arsenal 1

Stoke City vs. Manchester United

 Recent reinforcements not withstanding, Stoke face a massive test with Manchester United coming to town. Stoke fans should have little optimism about getting any sort of result from this matchup, and maybe just be happy to avoid it getting out of hand. It won’t help that the Trotters will be without there starting front two of Fuller and Beattie who are out with ankle injuries. United coming off a spectacular Manchester derby, will be looking to get out of the gates early, and take the game to the opposition. This is over in the first 30 minutes.

 United 4 – Stoke 1


Manchester City vs. West Ham

A question that has been asked a million times, and one that is so interesting its worth mentioning a million more is ‘what are City going to do when there 6 strikers are healthy’? The number of 1st team forwards is crazyand by my count  five of them will  fully expect to be starting each week. Yikes! Anyhow, on to the game at hand. I wish I could go out on a limb and pick West Ham to get a result of some kind in this math. But alas, I just don’t see anything of the sort happening. City boast far too much class in midfield, and upfront with Bellamy and Tevez for West Ham to cope. Zola who spent much of the off season looking for reinforcements on a shoe string budget and was rather unsuccessful in the process. That failure is starting showing  with results on the pitch.  

Manchester City 3 – West Ham 1


Liverpool vs. Hull City

 Snooze alert…..snooze alert! I don’t know what it is about this matchup but this just reeks of a dour game for some reason. American football fans will take interest however with Jozy Altidore playing up front for Hull. U.S. fans having been hoping for more young Americans like Jozy to get world exposure and 1st team playing time against top European clubs, and this is a unique opportunity to watch just that. Hull unfortunately, doesn’t offer up much more to watch.  Liverpool will be looking to take an easy 3 points in this game. It must said however, is anything easy for Liverpool though these days? Something tells me a ultra defensive Hull makes this a boring game to watch.

 Liverpool 1 – Hull 0

 Sunderland vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wow, how little do I care about this one….?

Sunderland 3 – Wolves 1

Finger Soccer!

To be honest, I did my fair shore of finger boarding back in the day. Not that it took much talent, but it was always good to kill a little down time. This clip right here is pretty impressive as he busts out some pretty amazing juggling of the soccer ball, er, I mean balled up sticky note. He must be beyond finger boarding, and decided to step it up a notch. If there’s one thing we know about this guy, he has a lot of time on his hands!

What’s Wrong with Liverpool?

Two weeks into the new Premier League season: One win, two losses, five goals scored, six conceded, & three measly points. A start like that is enough to shake the confidence of the stoutest of Liverpool fans. After last seasons flirtation with an EPL title, Liverpool seemed poised to take the last step to the top of English football, thus far it’s been two very big steps back.

In the two losses against Tottenham and Aston Villa, Liverpool lacked cohesion and confidence that has been a trade mark of their football most notably seen in Europe under Rafa. Strong commitment, pressure on the ball, creativity moving up the pitch, and confidence in the back has been lacking. Its usual stars not withstanding, Pool have been bleak. The two most note worthy suspects who would seem to encompass all of Liverpool’s ills are Lucas and Martin Skertel. In three games since taking over for Alonso in the middle of the park, Lucas has tallied up more own goals then Goals scored and assists combined….he also leads the squad in fouls committed, the most notorious of which lead to an immediate own goal of his . Skertel meanwhile he been devoid of any presence in the back, slow of place, heavy touches and lack of positioning has been noticeable. Monday’s loss to Aston Villa however was a team effort, far to many passes were errant, set piece marking was horrendous by all, even Steven Gerrard chipped in with a clumsy challenge that was an easy penalty call.

It’s far too early for Rafa and company to sound the alarm, Liverpool has three very winnable games ahead of them, nine  points against Bolton, Burnley, and West Ham would quickly right the ship. But a quick return to the basics is needed, a solidifying of tactics, and some defensive touch ups maybe all that is needed.

The margin for error however is getting smaller by the week.

Five Burning English Premier League Questions:

With less then a week remaining before the start of the new English Premier League season, I figured there is no better time to throw some questions out on the table to discuss. It’s been some time since the EPL has had so many different story lines taking place all at one time, and mainly concerning transfer activity. And for once teams seemingly are downgrading  (maybe staying stagnate at best) instead of upgrading with new talent (minus Manchester City of course).

Question # 1: Who is the front runner to win the Premier League this season?

Currently I don’t see a change to the top three clubs of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool. All three teams have either stood pat, or have had to accept unreal transfer bids for a few of there star players (Ronaldo, Alonso, and Tevez being the most prominent names). One thing we are not accustomed to seeing are these three giants of the Premier League not being active buyers on the transfer market. Manchester United has made some small purchases but nothing you would consider extremely note worthy, and Chelsea’s lone purchase of Yuri Zhirkov only figures to be a squad player at this point. None the less, the essence of each squad is still fully in tact and a United, Chelsea, Pool finish in that order seems to be in the cards yet again this season.

Question # 2: What will Manchester City accomplish this year?

Win the FA Cup? Win the League Cup? Something tells me those two competitions aren’t on the radar….Having spent well over 100 million pounds in the transfer market and scooping up such well know players such as Gareth Barry, Kolo Toure, Roque Santa Cruz, Carlos Tevez, and Adebayor, Manchester City’s single and massively important target this season is to displace one of the big four, and qualify for the Champions League. Anything less will certainly been seen as a total failure, and cost manger Mark Hughes his job in the process. Now the real question, can they do it? Initially, my impression is no. Aston Villa, Everton, and Tottenham all seem to be improving clubs that should provide ample road blocks to City’s quest. Arsenal, although not active in the transfer market still holds the majority of its young squad in tact, and maybe most importantly still has Arsene Wenger at the helm. Manchester City’s transfer activity can’t be underestimated however,if that squad gels early in the season, and Hughes keeps his players happy with playing time, Arsenal could be the odd team out heading into next seasons Champions League draw…….Only time will tell.

Question #3: Can Chelsea win the Premier League this season?

(First off, a small confession here before I go on any further. I’m a life long Chelsea fan, and must disclose my bias to anybody reading this before hand!)

Of course they can, why not? United hasn’t gotten any better, and Liverpool seems to be unloading more of their stars with each passing day (and getting richer in the process). Meanwhile Chelsea by and large has stood pat, content to roll into next season with the same squad, a fact that I believe to be very understated heading into the season.  A healthy Ricardo Carvalho will also feel like a new transfer after his injury plagued campaign last season (and stop you’re bitching were not selling you to Inter this season).  Additionally, judging by the early preseason tour in the United States, Carlos Ancelotti has made a seamless transition at the club. Ancelotti is a master tactician, which will be essential in the battle to over haul a confident United squad. In the end however, I believe Chelsea will most likely come up short. It’s been well documented that Roman Abramovich’s single most important goal for Chelsea is too finally (and Chelsea fans understand the word FINALLY) win the Champions League. I have a sneaking suspicion that ultimately, this quest for European glory will cost Chelsea something domestically in the process.

Question # 4: Who makes the relegation radar to start the EPL season?

Early season favorites for relegation in the Premier League are always the three teams coming up from the Championship. I don’t think many people could make a convincing case for Wolves, Burnley, or Birmingham to stay up before a ball has even been kicked this season. Stoke City and Hull have also done little this summer to convince me that the cross hairs of the drop aren’t centered squarely on them. A few other surprise contenders make my list for relegation watch: Portsmouth and Bolton. With Portsmouth in “sell for survival” mode with their entire squad, they seem to be an ideal candidate heading into the new season. I don’t know what to say about Bolton, every year I feel like the talent they run out on the pitch should get them relegated. But some how they find ways to grind out results, get their 40 plus golden pts, and escape.

Question #5: Who will be the biggest surprise in the EPL this season?

I know Tottenham is considered one of the bigger clubs in England; however recent results in the league have been anything but impressive. Last year’s flirtation with relegation in the beginning of the season being perhaps the most illustrative. With Harry Rednapp in firm control at White Hart Lane, and several miscast characters exiting late last yearand during the summer I have a feeling this might be a good year for the Spurs. So, what would qualify as a major surprise for this club? I’ll go on record and predict a 6th place finish, and a return to Europe.

Thoughts on Oguchi Onyewu’s Move to A.C. Milan

         I woke up this morning, ready to plow through my usual 30 minutes reading Soccernet.com and the like, and what do I see? The Gooch moving to AC Milan? My initial reaction was, no way he sees the field enough to make this move productive. Nesta, Kaladze, and new signing Thiago Silva (insert UFC joke here) on the face of things, seem to be ahead of him in the natural pecking order. Not to mention a very similar player to Onyewu, by the name of Phillip Senderos came and went through Milan with little success recently. However, if we think about the risk for either of them, what did Milan have to lose with this signing? And, if your Gooch how do you pass the opportunity up? Coming off a compelling stretch of performances in the Confederations Cup, snatching up Onyewu on a free transfer is good business with little downside for Milan. On the flipside it’s been obvious for several years that Gooch has been looking for a move to a major European club (no no, the Newcastle loan doesn’t count) to enhance his profile and no doubt pocket book as well. On several levels this seems like a solid situation for both parties.

         A few notes on the negative side of things: First, Onyewu isn’t the most technical of players; he looks uncomfortable with the ball at his feet, and tends to release the ball quickly as opposed to holding possession and looking to up move field like many world class center backs. Not  ideal for a a player stepping up  against regular world class competition especially in the Champions League. Secondly, I’m not sold on his pace; I have stark memories of him being caught out on numerous occasions for the United States, and worry greatly that this will be a more prominent problem for him in Italy and against other premier European talent. And thirdly, playing time. For any American player entrenched in the national team a move to a new club should typically include a  benchmark of starting a minimum of 30 games. And frankly I don’t see Onyewu starting that many matches with the current roster at Milan. I fear the glitz of Milan could come at the expense of further progression of his game. Onyewu will be relying on the physical attitubes greatly early at his new club, which I think may also be a positive for him as well. If used correctly, he could be a nightmare matchup with many forwards in Italy, which will be intriguing to watch.  

         Over all I think this move has solid possibilities for both Gooch and his career with the US national team. I wish more players were getting this sort of high profile opportunity to honest. However, this move does have some serious draw backs attached to it if things don’t work out. At the very least many soccer fans across the United States will get to see this unfold in pretty good detail, Fox Soccer Channel airs weekly Serie A games, which focus mainly on the big four of Italian football. Which should provide us regular insight on the progression on Gooch’s careerwith Milan.

Good Luck!

A New Era “Again” at Chelsea FC


 Short and to the point for this post….Once again the future of Chelsea FC is at a crossroads. With one of the most anticlimactic managerial appointments in recent memory wrapping up today, Carlo Ancelotti takes the helm at Chelsea. As a long time supporter of Chelsea I have mixed feeling about this announcement. First on the positive side, Carlo’s European pedigree is first rate. Taking any club to three Champions League finals is no small task, and his ability to build cohesive teams with diverse world backgrounds is with out question. I’m particularly happy that the Chelsea hierarchy moved quickly and with great purpose to get Ancelotti on board as quickly as possible. With the news coming only two days after the FA Cup final (I almost called that score line in my previous post….anybody think goal line technology isn’t a must in football anymore?) maximum time is now given to Ancelotti to begin his squad shaping. Minimal moves are required really (let’s just assume right now Deco and Carvalho end up at Inter shall we?), the squad is strong up top, and has one of the fiercest center midfield’s in the world. Our back-line was tied for fewest goals conceded in the Premier league which suggests the continued partnership of Alex and Terry will be fine, the emergence of Branislav Ivanovicwas also a nice development towards the second half of the season. The immediate focus for Carlo should be addressing an attacking wing position; Malouda, Cole, and Kalou are solid pieces but a world class winger preferably with a strong left foot would be an ideal addition.  

           As for the negative side of this hire? Didn’t we just go down this road with a foreign coach less then a year ago? Who also lacked strong English skills and came from a completely different background of football? I know all about the argument of the differences of national team management compared to that of club, and how the comparisons between Scolari and Ancelotti really shouldn’t be drawn…..but I don’t care, this hire seems a tad to close to same mold and style of coach for me to be comfortable with. Marcel Desailly one of the legends of Chelsea is on record as early as last week voicing his concern on the potential hire that now has become reality. How quickly will Ancelotti adapt to the massive differences of Premier League play? How will he build a flowing brand of football that Roman Abramovich demands? Anybody who’s watched an AC Milan match quickly recognizes a methodical, build up style of soccer that may not be ideal for the fast paced, end to end action of English football. Which brings me to Ancelotti’s domestic league record. In eight years at AC Milan he can only point to one league title? With several second place and third place showings maybe this isn’t a huge deal, but is worth noting as a possible concern.  

          The Chelsea nation will be eagerly awaiting the launch of the World Football Challenge in July.  Only questions and conjecture are left to ponder, as once again, Chelsea have a new face at The Bridge trying there hand at living up to the lasting impression of “The Special One” who still looms large. With Hiddinks recent successes, that task maybe impossible.

2009 FA Cup Preview: Chelsea vs. Everton


          As the curtain comes down on another fantastic Premier League season, we are treated to the final act of the domestic season with the FA Cup final. As any soccer fan knows the FA Cup is the longest running tournament in world soccer, and with it brings considerable accolades should you hoist the trophy. It has an odd way of turning around a truly awful or disappointing season in 90 quick minutes.  Just ask Portsmouth last year, or perhaps Arsenal in 05’ as the failed to win the Premier League but ousted Manchester United to pull a dismal season back on track. Over the last 20 years the list of finalists seems to drum up the same familiar names of English power houses. Manchester United lead the way with 9 final appearances, Arsenal 7, Liverpool 6, and Chelsea  rounding out 5.

          This year’s final brings back a familiar face with Chelsea FC looking to grab its sixth title in as many appearances, taking on a resurgent Everton football club who would love to stamp there emerging authority in English football with a trophy. In many ways this final represents two polar opposites within the Premier League. On one side you have mega rich Chelsea with resources and cash to address any need or desire. And on the other Everton, who with a lack of a large bank roll have had to grind away with smart buys, solid loans, a fantastic youth system, and gut wrenching sales (17 year Wayne being the most obvious example).  This years Everton side although lacking in depth is full of talent we have been unaccustomed to seeing with past squads. Leading the charge is English work horse Leon Osman, swash buckling Tim Cahill, excellent Marouane Fellaini, and oft injured Louis Saha, and holding down a very impressive back line Joleon Lescott and Joseph Yobo (Phil Jagielka sits because of injury). If ever there was an Everton side ready to take home silverware and create a massive upset this just might be the team. On the opposite side towering Chelsea, brimming with confidence under the guidance of Guss Hiddink (SIGN HIM UP ROMAN!!!!). Still aggrieved over the stunning loss at the hands of Barcelona in the Champions Leagues semi’s, the FA Cup stands as the last opportunity for redemption in a other wise tumultuous season. Chelsea would appear to have a full squad at there disposal, with the only real question being the formation. Will Hiddink roll out a traditional 4-4-2 to accommodate both Anelka and Drogba upfront? Or will he continue to employ a 4-3-2-1 that might shift Anelka to the bench leaving Drogs up front? Both formations for Chelsea over the last three months have wielded tremendous results and neither can be faulted at this point. 

          With a wave of momentum that has out played Barcelona, Liverpool, and Juventus in Europe, and a 11-2-2 league record since February, Everton will have a massive mistake free 90 minutes to handle if they want to take a result. With a makeshift attack and Jo cup tied.  Everton seem to be a player or two short for this match up. With a valiant effort and a short lived lead in the first half, Chelsea stretch there class in talent out to a 3-1 win, to take home there sixth FA Cup in six attempts.