Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Some thoughts as the leagues get going

We're a few weeks into the English season and Spain and Germany are off and running and there are already some big surprises. First, however, one thing that is not a surprise is the lack of Serie A. It seems like they are delayed every year by some sort of legal proceeding and this year is no exception. It fact it's the Grand Delay. Let's face it: soccer in Italy is in shambles. I find it fascinating that more players aren't just getting the hell out of there. Yeah, sure, the living is good and everything, but the league's reputation has been severly damaged (after years and years of unproven allegations) and if I were a top player I'd be in England or Spain.

But enough of that sadness. In the Premiership, a few things have happened. Mainly, Chelsea have already lost. I just assumed they'd be undefeated against anyone but Liverpool or ManUre. But kudos to Boro - they've given the league some hope. Chelsea just don't seem settled yet and The Special One has some work to do figuring out how to fit all his midfielders together. The situation seems a bit like what Sven faced with the England squad.

And ManUre are out of the blocks a lot faster than I anticipated. I really thought there would be at least some sort of squad issue left over from the Rooney/Ronaldo World Cup party. You know, just a general unease that would lead to some dropped points out of the gate. Plus, they still haven't replaced Keane. But it doesn't seem to matter in the least. Three from three and they're tops. Followed closely by 'Arry's Portsmouth. 'Ol 'Arry picked up Kanu on a free. Brilliant.

And what about Spurs? Berbatov, Defoe, Mido, Keane. Someone besides Defoe is gonna get pissed (angry, not drunk) sitting on the bench. They've also dropped more points than anticipated. I could see them developing into a Jekyll and Hyde side that is scintillating one day and flat as hell the next.

As for Arsenal, they look like they've not learned their lesson from last season. You can make lovely passes around the box all day but it doesn't mean a bloody thing if you don't score. My anguish reached its peak when Rosicky squared to shoot from a similar spot as his great goal against the U.S. in Gelsinkirchen, but pulled out in favor of a square ball. As the commentator put it, "If you've got that kind of shot in your locker, why not have a go?" True. True. Their defensive frailties have been exposed as well. They need more cover it the back - Hoyte isn't ready for prime time.

Down in Spain, I don't see anyone matching Barca this year. Give Real another year and they might do it but Capello will need more time to get things sorted. I think Barcelona signing The Good Johnson was a brilliant move. He'll flourish with the extra time he'll get in La Liga. He's a great replacement for Larsson but better because he's younger and quicker. Look for Valencia and Atletico to be there at the end. Valencia could suffer if the Ayala situation isn't sorted but with Villa and Morientes (he scores in Spain!) up front and Edu, Vicente, Baraja, et al in the middle, they're solid.


boris said...

Hey Editor,
Tottenham should be interesting. I really don't have an answer as to why they've come out so flat. I think teams are more prepared for them this year. I do have confidence that Jol will fix things and make them more consistent. I also don't remember seeing Mido out there yet - and he was a real game changer last yr.

As for Larssen - I think he never got his due. Although old and in the twilight of his career - I was always pleasantly surprised by his productivity. If you look at the Champions League final last year - i could argue that he was the difference when he came on. He just has a nose for being at the right place and doing the right thing. Since he played at Celtic and for Sweden no one gave him credit - but he put up big numbers consistently.

On an earlier post - Beasley - ugh! This is the single biggest problem for US soccer - we don't have enough guys toughing it out week after week in the world's better leagues. If you look at Australia - they had more guys playing top-level ball than we did - that's an embarrassment! and it made a huge difference for them. We have always had good keepers that played abroad - but we need field players now - fortunately we have 2 more in the Premiereship this year (Convey and the Watford defender) - but still woefully inadequate

The Editor said...

Boris The Spider,

Now "they" are saying Spurs will sign Steed and Chimbonda. They're like Chelsea of the last few years but one or two degrees of quality lower.

Oh, yes, Larsson was fantastic. The epitome of Super Sub. And if he didn't win the CL final last year he certainly played a massive role. His touch in that game was superb.

Thanks for the summation on the Beasley situation. Australia is a good example.