Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Archive for January, 2009

No football debate will ever be the same again

Posted by hakanrylander on January 31, 2009

Today I take the unususal step of recommending that you spend your day at a website other than Between the Lines, as the Guardian launches its interactive chalkboards. They make it possible to track and analyse just about every event in every PL-match within 30 minutes of the final whistle. Every page should carry an addiction warning. Highly recommended!

But you have to question the motives of the Guardian. Are they trying to get us all sacked?


Posted in Academic, Player Analysis | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Bargain of the decade

Posted by hakanrylander on January 30, 2009

A number of stories during this transfer window have indicated that City are willing to offload Micah Richards, maybe for no more than £5m. An example is today’s claim by the Mirror that Mark Hughes has offered Richards in exchange for Kolo Toure. If there’s any truth at all in these rumours Sir Alex should act quickly. This could be the bargain of the decade! Richards hasn’t looked impressive this season, but he has tremendous potential. I think Ferguson could mould him into the next Patrick Vieira.

Posted in Transfer Gossip | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Ferguson gets knocked over

Posted by hakanrylander on January 30, 2009

I know this is supposed to be an anti-United joke, but I actually found it quite funny (even though the Football League has since changed its sponsor).

Sir Alex is queuing in his local building society, when a gunman bursts in through the door demanding money. Ferguson attempts to tackle the raider, but gets knocked over…as he falls, his head smashes the counter and Sir Alex is out cold. The robber escapes and the cashier tries to revive Ferguson. After a few minutes he comes round and looks bewildered. His first words are “Where the hell am I?”. The Cashier replies: “don’t worry, its ok, you’re in the Nationwide.” Ferguson replies, “F**k me, is it May already?”

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Ferguson checks out Scottish prodigy

Posted by hakanrylander on January 29, 2009

Sir Alex has sent his brother Martin to cast an expert eye on 17-year-old Rangers forward John Fleck (source: The Sun….).  Fleck is the nephew of former Rangers, Chelsea and Norwich striker Robert, and his direct running, powerful style and extreme confidence has made many people compare him to Wayne Rooney.

Fleck was 7th on The Times’ recent list of the hottest young football talents in the world. I’m not completely convinced that this is a good sign since the same list ranked non-existing Moldavian superstar Masal Bugduv as No 30.

Meanwhile, our mystery signing Ritchie de Laet has made his debut for the reserves against Accrington Stanley and also featured against Blackburn.

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Carrick – Berbatov – Goal!

Posted by hakanrylander on January 28, 2009

Plenty of reasons to be delighted these days. Top of the league and looking very impressive despite a long injury list. Eleven consecutive clean sheets in the PL. Tevez resembling something like himself again. Ferdinand back in action. Ronaldo scoring and, perhaps even more importantly, at last looking like he enjoys himself and wants to be part of the  team.

But the single aspect of United’s recent run that pleases me the most is the emerging partnership between Carrick and Berbatov.  Against Spurs Berbatov scored from a brilliant through-ball from Carrick. Last night against WBA a one-two between the same players led to Berbatovs goal and another sweeping Carrick pass was converted by Berbatov but (correctly) ruled out for offfside. Both players also have the rare ability to make it look easy. I hope to see a lot more of this. Another reason why I so enjoy the Carrick-Berbatov cooperation can be found on this page.

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Review: Manchester United ruined my wife

Posted by hakanrylander on January 24, 2009

ruinedmywifeYou’ve got to admire the guy. He was present at all three European Cup Finals; 1968 at Wembley, 1999 in Barcelona and 2008 in Moscow. This book covers more than 40 years of his highs and lows as a United supporter.

Blatt has a habit of trying to make a joke in every other sentence, but some of the gags are repetetive or not even funny in the first place. The constant references to the relative merits of sex and football grows tiresome already on the second page. But he gets it right often enough for you to have a lot of fun reading this book, and his “joie de vivre” is impressive even if his French wife occasionally puts him in “la maison du chiene”.

As you would expect the book is often biased (how could it not be!) as when he relates crowd trouble in connection with away games in Europe. In these cases the United choir boys always seem to be the victims of unprovoked attacks from opposing fans and/or the police.

The book confirms that Mr Blatt’s obsession with Manchester United is at a completely different level compared to my own. But I’m not sure that my wife would agree.

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Review: Manchester United ruined my life

Posted by hakanrylander on January 23, 2009

ruinedmylifeColin Shindler grew up in Manchester in the 1950s and 1960s which sounds pretty wonderful considering the opportunities to enjoy the Busby Babes as well as Best, Charlton and Law. But fate dealt Shindler a cruel hand. At the age of three he became a passionate City supporter.

This is the best book written by a City-supporter that I’m aware of. The story deals not just with football but with the author’s childhood which is spent as an outsider in more ways than one. It contains a lot of sadness, as when his mother dies, but is also at times hilariously funny. One highlight is Shindler’s puzzled response when told about the murder of Bobby Kennedy. “Well, he was only a reserve.”

But the book was published in 1998, so why review it now? Well, let’s say I needed to prepare the way for tomorrow’s review. Stay tuned.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Sweet are the uses of adversity

Posted by hakanrylander on January 22, 2009

United are facing a severe injury crisis ahead of this weekend’s FA-cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur. At the moment there are eleven players on the injury list; Rooney (hamstring, out for a few weeks), Ferdinand (back, uncertain return date), Rafael (hamstring, out for a month), Evra (toe, missing for two more weeks), Hargreaves (knee, out for the season), Evans (ankle, out for a week), Nani (groin, probably out for just a week), Anderson (ankle, X-ray so far inconclusive), Brown (ankle, out for a few more weeks), Giggs (unspecified knock, back in a week) and Neville (minor knock, might just play on Saturday).

So what are the “sweet uses” implied in the headline? Well, perhaps mostly a desperate attempt to look at the bright side of this mess. But I’m looking forward to the debut of Fabio who is supposed to be even better than his twin brother Rafael. It will also be an interesting opportunity for John O’Shea to impress as a central defender, as he has on a number of occasions for Ireland. I’m also hoping to see the debut of Zoran Tosic who has looked very impressive in training since his arrival from Partizan Belgrade.

My line-up: Van der Sar; Fletcher, Vidic, O’Shea, Fabio; Park, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo; Tevez, Berbatov. Quite a strong team considering the injury list, and should be good enough to beat Spurs.

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Do United’s starlets really exist?

Posted by hakanrylander on January 16, 2009

An intriguing story in The Guardian reveals that the 16-year-old Moldavian prodigy Masal Bugduv doesn’t exist. It appears that the player has been created out of nothing by a number of bloggers using e.g. Wikipedia and fake Associated Press-stories. What makes it all the more remarkable is that, while not existing, Bugduv still managed to be ranked 30th on The Times’ list of the hottest young football talents in the world. His name has since been removed from the list, for obvious reasons. But even without Bugduv the list is a rather strange hotchpotch, mixing unknown English teenagers with established stars like Karim Benzema and David Silva.

The non-existence of the Moldavian superstar-to-be raises a couple of important questions. The first is how much you can rely on information in a blog. The second, and perhaps even more important, is how many of United’s own prodigies that really exist?

I’ve seen photos of Adem Ljajic alongside Sir Alex, but let’s face it, Photoshop can be a devious tool. A thorough search of the Internet gave no indication as to the existence of United target Jack Sampson. And newest recruit Ritchie de Laet is supposed to have spent a year and a half at Stoke City, but hasn’t been seen anywhere near the first team.

For final proof of the existence or non-existence of these and other young stars we might have to rely on Descartes. Meanwhile, I’m just waiting for City to lodge a “massive” bid for Bugduv.

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A brief message to Sir Alex Ferguson

Posted by hakanrylander on January 15, 2009

My fears for a repeat of Julius Caesar didn’t materialize, but Steve Brute certainly kept me nervous all through the second half that Wigan dominated. The highlight of the game was Berbatov’s sublime pass to Ronaldo in the build-up to the goal.

It was interesting to witness a man-of-the-match performance from a winger who eschewed fancy footwork but supplied countless crosses with remarkable efficiency, and also made it look very easy. A bit of a pity that he played for the opposition. Note to Sir Alex: Just sign Antonio Valencia ffs!

Edit: After reading the above note Sir Alex has now sprung into action.

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