Between the Lines

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

Archive for February, 2012

A brief note on Fabio’s principles

Posted by hakanrylander on February 9, 2012

Man of principle?

Fabo Capello yesterday resigned as England manager on a matter of principle. He couldn’t accept that the FA board demoted John Terry as England captain. Capello strongly believes that the manager should decide who is the captain. So why then did he sign a contract stipulating that it is up to the FA board to decide who is captain? Maybe it was the money.

 

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Nigel de Jong and central cohesive sources of stability

Posted by hakanrylander on February 6, 2012

It has been reported that Nigel de Jong has rejected a contract extension at Manchester City that would have given him a raise from £75,000 to £100,000 per week. Apparently de Jong and his agent believe he is worth more. A poor decision I would think. I can’t see any other club paying him more. De Jong is a decent player, but I certainly wouldn’t place him in the select group of players that are so central to their teams’ success that they are worthy of extraordinary salaries. But he set me thinking about which players in the PL at the moment really belong in this group.

In the case of United my list includes just two names; Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic (out for the season). Nani is too inconsistent, Ferdinand somewhat past it and Jones not there yet (but he will be). In the other top-six clubs there are also two players in each team who stand out.

Arsenal: Van Persie, Wilshere (out for the season?)

Spurs: Modric, Bale

Chelsea: Terry, Essien (when back to full fitness)

Liverpool: Gerrard, Suarez

But there is one exception. I have to admit that I put four Manchester City players in this category: Hart, Kompany, Yaya and Silva. All of them have been consistent sources of skill and stability this season. So at least in this particular respect I give City an edge over their main rivals. Enough to win them the title?

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Pavane for a Departed Prince

Posted by hakanrylander on February 1, 2012

Yesterday brought an awful lot of good news. A comfortable win over Stoke City, including a Paul Scholes masterclass and a sensational Paul Pogba PL debut. Darron Gibson scoring a cracker to help Everton beat City. And us snatching a great(?) young defender from our noisy neighbours.

It was almost enough to make me forget Ravel Morrison. Almost.

Ravel is by all accounts one of the most talented footballers of his generation. Top journalist Henry Winter has described him as  “a wonderfully skilful youngster who could grace England’s midfield for years to come” and “better than Jack Wilshere“. Others have called him the new Paul Gascoigne or the new Paul Scholes.

But talent alone is never enough to reach the pinnacles of sport. The long and successful careers of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are certainly based on great talent, but also on dedication, discipline and hard work. Morrison apparently lacked in all three of these departments.

A move to London and a new environment might help, particularly if he can loose his gangster entourage. With some first team opportunities he might just rise quickly to star status at West Ham. I will certainly try to follow his progress (or lack of) at West Ham. Time will tell whether he will be remembered as an England great or a talent sadly gone to waste.

Good luck, Ravel.

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Answered prayers

Posted by hakanrylander on February 1, 2012

That’s central midfield sorted then.

OK, I realise that I’m in serious danger of getting overexcited, but Paul Pogba’s first 20 minutes of PL football were nothing short of sensational. In those 20 minutes he managed to convince me that he is (or at least soon will be) the box-to-box midfielder we are all longing for. Skillful, athletic, creative, confident.

His pass completion rate was 100%. This was partly because he played a lot of short safe passes to Scholes and Carrick, but he also tried some more adventurous, most notably a long perfectly weighted ball to Valencia. He almost scored as well. And played with a big smile on his face.

Bloody brilliant.

 

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