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What is an Adnan Januzaj? October 10, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in English soccer, European soccer, Turkish soccer.
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No, not a fancy marble lined over-sized bathtub, though that does sound quite luxurious. Adnan Januzaj is actually an 18 year old winger who may have saved the job of David Moyes and the sanity of millions of Manchester United Fans across the globe last Saturday. With a second half brace, the teenager rescued the Red Devils from a 1-0 halftime deficit at the hands of Sunderland. The Black Cats are currently the blazing dumpster fire of the Premiership, a team that has secured only a single point in 7 matches and thought hiring an angry fascist sounded like a good idea, only to have it inevitably blow up in their face. All things considered, this was no résumé builder for England’s most illustrious football club.

On the flip-side there was the emergence of a bright, ambiguously ethnic, hard to pronounce star. Adnan Januzaj put on a spectacular display from the left-wing, a place where Ashley Young usually stands around and you know, does stuff, presumably.

Adnan earning a delicious soda-pop for his efforts

Even before he bagged the first premier league goals of his career he seemed to be the only positive talking point of the first half for United. His interplay with the midfield and especially Evra down the left-side was top class. Coupled with his ability to draw -in defenders and release the ball to a bevy of open teammates showcased his stellar technical ability.

The way he moved about the pitch in the second half was that of player entrusted by his coach to be more than a winger, but a creator. He popped up all over and eventually scored his first goal on a run through the center of the box on a first touch from a low cross, there wasn’t a defender within 3 yards. The hardest thing to teach in any sport is spatial awareness, and Adnan Januzaj seemingly has a great understanding even at his young age. To cap off his brace he produced a beautiful cross-post volley on his better left foot, though it’s evident he is very much a two footed player. Again the play saw him wander away from defenders to the left side of the box only to be on the receiving end of a great cross, which he buried. To be fair, the space he had on the pitch could have been due to his relatively unknown status, but regardless the game became a dream -start to any career.

So who is he? For Starters Jack Wilshere certainly thinks he isn’t English. He was born in Brussels Belgium but recently declined a call-up to their senior side. The collective backgrounds of his parents also make him eligible to play for Albania, Serbia, Turkey, and Kosovo (Though they are not recognized by FIFA) and apparently Croatia… So says Croatia, not that they have any actual proof. It is amazing what platform like Manchester United can do for a player and with his national allegiance uncertain he is certainly going to be a hot soccer commodity. But, lest we forget in times like these, the magical career of Federico Macheda. A one-time United starlet that has since faded into not just relative obscurity, but I’m pretty sure just literal, uninhibited obscurity.

Transfer deadline extravaganza!!! September 2, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in Dutch soccer, English soccer, European soccer, French soccer, German soccer, Italian soccer, Spanish soccer, Transfer news.
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The unofficial FIFA Transfer deadline day thread, unofficially endorsed by Sepp Blatter’s jowls!

– Mesut Ozil just needs to pass a physical in Munich and he is set for a $42 million dollar move to Arsenal. It is said the he is set to make 6 million a year under the terms of his new contract with the North London club.                                                                                                         —          UPDATE 1: Check out Real Madrid fan’s chanting “Don’t sell Ozil as Perez announces Bale. What is his reaction you ask? To “Shhhhh” them of course. This is a must watch!


– Everton head man, Roberto Martinez isn’t ruling out keeping Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini amidst multiple reports Manchester United are keen on signing him. If this is true there reports this could free up $15 million necessary for the Toffees to bring Porto man, Fernando to the Merseyside.

Manchester City’s 20-year-old striker Harry Bunn joins Sheffield United on a month’s loan, according to the Premier League club’s Twitter feed. (external) In addition, 21-year-old midfielder Mohammed Abu joins Denmark’s Aarhus until the end of December.

– Liverpool has seemingly lost out to Atletico Madrid for the services of Ajax defender Toby Alderweireld. The talented 24 year old Belgian centerback spurned offers from many English sides to join Atletico for an undisclosed fee.

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Manchester United did get what it deserved actually December 7, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Champions League, English soccer.
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This Surreal Football article does an excellent job of explaining why the governing structure of Manchester United got what it deserved:

The real brain-teaser is: why can’t Manchester United afford to make mistakes in the transfer market? City can: their famously expensive bench is largely a collection of overvalued disappointments; Chelsea can: Fernando Torres and David Luiz haven’t changed the club as was hoped last January and yet there is talk of further millions this time around. Glazernomics is the difference, simply.

True. And though I perceive, perhaps erroneously, that this is a blog run by Manchester United fans, they also hit the nail on the head when they say fans deserve it too. When Glazer came, all the worthwhile Manchester United fans followed the soul of the club over to FC United of Manchester. If you don’t believe this is a moral issue, listen to this Beyond the Pitch interview and educate yourself.

Similarly, Sir Alex Ferguson, narcissistic thought-terrorist that he is, deserved what he got. If you are arrogant or in denial enough to dismiss people who correctly suggest you aren’t living up to your potential, you deserve a reality check.

Not to mention that Ferguson’s tactics have somehow managed to be both arrogant and cowardly. Only in two games against Otelul Galati has he used two strikers in this season’s Champions League. Antonio Valencia on the right of midfield in all but the most recent, despite the fact that Nani on the right is the team’s chief source of creativity. Surely you can afford to take the initiative at home to FC Basel.

Yet he has also experimented wantonly. Anders Lindegaard has started two matches. At home to Benfica, Dimitar Berbatov started ahead of Javier Hernandez. Park Jisung played in the center of midfield against Basel, even though that is a position in which he has never looked like someone who knows what he’s doing.

But of course he did what he always does when Roy Keane pithily pointed all this out. He, like any dictator, believes that if he reacts with unreasoning rage to anyone who criticizes him, nobody will do it. Fair enough, as long as he can get to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

The real brain-teaser is: why can’t Manchester United afford to make mistakes in the transfer market? City can: their famously expensive bench is largely a collection of overvalued disappointments; Chelsea can: Fernando Torres and David Luiz haven’t changed the club as was hoped last January and yet there is talk of further millions this time around. Glazernomics is the difference, simply.

A thoughtful summary of Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal August 28, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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Manchester United is bigger than this

Note: It is difficult to maintain a sense of proportion when dealing with a scoreline such as Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal, so I say why bother? This is a match write-up unashamed of lacking a sense of proportion. Deal with it.

So profound was Manchester United’s victory today that, if you were now to embark upon the creation any history of the human race, it would begin with today’s 8 a.m. (Pacific time) kickoff and end with the final whistle. The entirety of the human race would be composed of 15 be men: Manchester United’s starters, its coach and its three substitutes. The only country in existence would be the United Kingdom. Spain, Senegal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Mexico, South Korea: these would be irrelevant myths the race created to explain the origin of its gladiators, so irrelevant they did not even constitute footnotes. So too any part of Manchester outside the white lines of the Old Trafford pitch, not to say the rest of England, Europe, the ocean, the sky except as a place to which the ball momentarily ventured.

The universe trembled with each of Manchester United’s goals. The entire thing reverberated with the vibrations of Sir Alex Ferguson’s genius, and was indeed calibrated to the rotations of that genius. God had not just one son but sixteen, each one equally a miracle.

Indeed, the creation of that history would be inadequate as an action. Suicide is the only act of supplication that approaches sufficiency as a tribute to Manchester United’s greatness, not just on this day but forever.

Because indeed, any setback in the history of Manchester United is an irrelevance. Today’s victory was so pure as to render everything that came before it in relief. The deaths in the Munich air disaster? Irrelevant compared to this moment. The privations of depression and the post-World War II era? Can’t all have been bad because they led up to this moment. Everything, everything that has ever happened is good because the universe could produce this.

This is Arsenal

And as for Arsenal, they are sub-existential. They might as well have never existed. Indeed, I am yet to see proof that Arsenal did exist. I don’t believe it. I think Tomas Rosicky is an illusion of the shoddiest kind, Carl Jenkinson is a myth invented to scare small children, Laurent Koscielny is a theoretical proposition advanced by schizophrenics.

The phrase “Robin van Persie” just bubbled into my mind and I am not sure why because I cannot connect it to any concrete concept. I assume it must never have happened, that I imagined imagining it; that you, the reader, cannot even read it because it does not exist. I haven’t typed it because I haven’t thought it. Everything that name touches becomes tainted with the stain of questionability. If this computer is connected to the idea that the words “Robin van Persie” may have been written and therefore thought, is it possible that this computer exists? I think not.

There is a certainty, which is that, if Arsene Wenger existed, he would be the most incompetent, maybe even basely so, human being in history. He would be a villain, if he existed, the torturer of the hardworking masses who would support, if they existed, the club he would coach, if he existed, if indeed that club did exist. He would torture Gary Cahill by being connected with transfer interest in him. Pity Gary Cahill; pity him for my mere invention of the possibility of Wenger.

It is a comfort that Arsene Wenger does not exist. It is not possible that someone so incompetent could exist. I am sorry for bringing it up.

David De Gea

Some thoughts on David De Gea:

  • David De Gea is Satan
  • David De Gea is God.

Man Utd v. Arsenal halftime thoughts. August 28, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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  • Danny Welbeck: It was really poignant to see him pull up with that injury. He’s done so well for Manchester United; you love to see homegrown youngsters doing well, and his freshness and excitement more than compensated, for me the viewer, for losing the positivity of Chicharito Hernandez.
  • Anderson and Tom Cleverley: They are an exhilarating central midfield combination. They both know so many tricks for making and finding space in the midfield, and both also have the discipline to appreciate their role in the side, which is to keep in position and get the ball to the front four. They both hit excellent long passes to the forwards from their own half as well.
  • Carl Jenkinson: has been widely praised, but a couple of his qualities are hurting Arsenal. He keeps getting dragged inside by Ashley Young, who’s doing a very good Santi Cazorla impersonation, hence Theo Walcott’s remonstrations. He created a lot of space for Patrice Evra by letting Young take him inside. He also gets in Walcott’s way offensively and his crossing is not quite useful enough.
  • Daniel De Gea: Is still learning. It’s foolish to write him off as early as some people have. A 20-year-old goalkeeper makes mistakes. He is not going to replace Edwin van der Sar instantly. But his distribution is excellent and he has shown he is capable of making great saves as well as mistakes. There’s nothing wrong with him except that he is young. If things don’t work out for him, it’s Sir Alex Ferguson’s fault for thinking a 20-year-old who speaks little English could replace a 40-year-old who was the leader of his defense.
  • Maybe I’m late to the party, but when Robin van Persie missed, I found myself thinking this might not be Arsenal’s season.
  • And maybe I’m late to this party, but the defensive header leading to Young’s goal seemed to me to suggest there might be something to the theory that you don’t just stick young and inexperienced playersinto the starting lineup.
  • David Pleat is not a good pundit. He seems categorically opposed to the idea of a high defensive line, and at one point seemed to question the concept of wide forwards.
  • Robin van Persie: was a poor choice for captain. He is the first to disappear when the going gets tough and often lets his head drop.
  • Tomas Rosicky: is a mixed bag. He often moves aimlessly in midfield, in many ways the arch-perpetrator of the sins of which Arsenal are accused (over-elaboration, being lightweight, passing for passing’s sake, which is inexcusable as the furthest forward man in midfield). However, when his brain is fully operational, he can control a game. Nevertheless, a club like Arsenal ought to be able to find a playmaker not as prone to becoming a passenger.

Own goal can’t get United 3 points August 23, 2010

Posted by michaeltomlinson in English soccer.
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Manchester United seemed destined for another late win Sunday after taking one goal advantage in the 84th minute. Like the story of a season past the go-ahead goal was put in by the second leading scorer from the 09/10 campaign, that being in the fashion of an own goal of course. Yes Wayne Rooney followed by self inflicted pain led the Red Devils to within mere points of the premiership title. And like the campaign of a  year ago United again floundered in the last third without Rooney prowling the grounds.

Chicharito seemed lost on the field for a good portion of the game seemingly only looking for a rogue through ball and giving little help the build up. Berbatov continued to look quick and adept on the ball and had moments of brilliance in terms of his positioning and touch, but didn’t  possess the ability to finish this time around. In fact if it weren’t from a sublime effort from Paul Scholes United could have very well walked out of Craven Cottage with nothing at all. To bring up the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and the subsequent non effort to replace him would certainly be beating a dead horse. Well I say if the colt has already filled its lungs for a final time whats the harm in a couple more cheap shots? Not into a stellar example of animal abuse image simulation? Neither is PETA.

Now back to what the idiom was intended to portray. Over the past two seasons United have added Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Javier Hernández to bulk up their strike force, while promoting Nani to attempt the impossible task of picking up where Ronaldo left off. The fact is he too is a stylish Portuguese winger and thats where the similarities end. It was improbable that United could replace arguably the best player on the planet, but they have done little to support the loss of talent on the left wing, with new support in the center to make up for it. Scholes and Fletcher are nice. And when Carrick is in Fergi’s  favor he sees a lot of the pitch. But all three are getting older and are showing it. The best clubs in the world are loaded with top attacking central midfielders, Real Madrid just got their second In Ozil if they don’t move him out to the wing. Barcelona has Xavi and Iniesta, Chelsea, Lampard and Arsenal despite their struggles in the latter 2000’s still has arguably the best of them all in Cesc.  As of now United seems content with fairly anemic wing play and 2 forwards who spend most of their time too far ahead of the flow of the game to get into the action. Scholes and Fletcher have been on great form through the first couple of matches, but I question how long that can last through the toils of a long premiership campaign. I am not one to question one of the greatest coach’s  player alignment, in fact I can’t blame him, who would he even put in the 10 spot if he were to use it? I’m not sure their is a player with the dynamic make-up and composure to fill such a role, which should never be the case for a team with talent in abundance.

Just so I don’t make this post all about United, I must say I could only catch the highlights of the City game today. And so it seems any English fan who feels obliged to punch Capello in the face for not starting the best keeper on the roster certainly has a case. Hart is good, shit I feel safe saying Hart is already a top 5 keeper in the Barclays.