Sunday, February 26, 2006

A cup win, finally!

ManUtd thrashed Wigan at Cardiff last evening in the Carling Cup Final to take home a trophy in almost 2 years. Thats not a ManUtd fan is used to. But hey, its better than ending the season yet again with no silverware. Inspite of missing midfielders, ManUtd played a full strength team (considering the injury list) and decided to drop Nistelrooy for Saha. And the latter made it count with a goal and assists. Rooney slipped in a brace while Ronaldo scored too. I expected it to be more of a fight as I like Wigan's fighting spirit. The fact that they have reached a cup final on their entry to the premier league and that they are at 40 points when most had written them off before the seaon began is victory for them! Hope that this victory leads to more silverware in the near future. Immediate goal: finish in 2nd place and qualify for Europe.

Cross-posted at Freewheelin.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Grapes, them sour Jose?

Here we go again. This is the post match interview clip with Jose Mourinho after last night's defeat (Chelsea lost 2-1). He is mumbling something about Messi play-acting and the game wasn't 'pure' after the sending off of Del Horno.

"I don't think we should talk about it as a game, because after that the game was not a game.

"It was a pure game until that moment, it was 11 against 11, two good teams tactically thinking a lot about the game, not many mistakes, not many chances but an open game.

"There is no point talking about the game after that."

Oi Jose! Where the f*** were you when Robben (who was shielding Messi in the build-up to the foul last night) got Jose Reina sent off not too long ago??? That game was pure eh? Robben looked like he was murdered a 'few times' when there was hardly any contact. So is it the case of the pot calling the kettle black? Grapes in Stamford Bridge are sour I guess. Maybe they grow more potatoes in that shocker of a football field!

But on a serious note, FIFA should take a hard look at 'Playacting' which is getting notorious as days go by. I can understand if you do that to waste time at the end of the game, but to do that and influence referees to send other players off? Thats a complete shame. I'm quite sure such controversial incidents could be referred to an off-field referee (with the help of replays). Lit bit of technology never hurt anyone.

Here is the wrap-up of last night's games. Barca, Bremen, Inter look favourites to go through to the next round. We will know in a couple of weeks. For the roundup of games played Tuesday night, click here.

Cross-posted at Freewheelin.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mohun Bagan AC - The National Club of India

Wanted to post on this blog, but somehow managed to bungle up and post on mine instead.

Anyway, the website is just what I would expect from Mohun Bagan. Amateur, emotional, earnest, full of trivia, self-compliments and a few mentions of roshogollas. Just the way we would want it to remain!!

As we used to say in B-school - Ki Daroon!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Man in the middle... where the game is won or lost.

Ask ManUtd or Arsenal this season and they might agree.

While Viera has been a loss that Arsenal has been struggling to cope up with, ManUtd has just been not able to get a replacement for Keano and is struggling to put a midfielder in the team. Scholes is out for the rest of the season. Fletcher, Smith, Rooney and Ferdinand have both played in that position and haven't looked the part. Rumours are that Aldo Duscher and Franck Ribery are the new targets. Ballack is still in the horizon, but not sure for how long as he has expressed a desire to join Madrid. Arsenal's on the way down and I think it would take them a couple of seasons to be back at the top 3. They have some good prospects and players like Fabregas and van Persie augurs well for the ex-champions. It'll be a major setback if Henry leaves for Barca in the summer, if rumours are to be believed.

Both Arsenal and ManUtd bought players who were not part of the solution. Theo Walcott came to Arsenal to beef up the offence. Vidic and Evra were picked up to help the ailing ManUtd defence. Vidic looks good so far. Evra still needs to impress.

If there was one player I could have bought, it would be Riquelme for sure. I think he is going to be one of the stars of the Argetine side, which looks quite good to go all the way.

And yes. Middlesbrough! Its just out of the bottom three but its the only team that has beaten Arsenal, ManUtd and now Chelsea. And they did get hammered 7-0 by Arsenal in the return leg. Rijkaard has been on the phone to find out how to beat Chelsea in the Champions League game next week. Hmmm. Wouldn't everyone like to know. Ask Fergie too! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I play the Fantasy NBA league religiously every year. This year, I started with two teams. One, called Hindustan Heroes which got a rather raw deal in the draft. The second called Tokri Stars, which is currently top of the league (just checked, it's second, but the team which is first has played 50 games more than me).

Once I am sure of winning, I start jibing the others in my league. They are all strangers and come mostly from the US or China. While not being patriotic in many ways (any way), there's pride involved for me. I can do better than Americans whose sport this is.

Dibyo and Maverick are similarly playing fantasy football. And so are thousands across the country. Which begs the question? Can Indians be better at fantasy sport compared to other countries? We have always been passionate and knowledgable about following football. I remember seeing an idol of Diego Maradona during the 1994 World Cup finals in Keshtopur! I also remember huge debates on whether Garrincha got his due and whether Cantona stands a better chance if he leaves Alex Ferguson's scheme.

Now, should we take it to the next level and win every fantasy sport league in football. Can we take fantasy NBA and win that as well?

When'll the world championships be fought? Will we be ready by then?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The fall of the old guard

Its happening. And in Italy, Spain and England. Milan, Real Madrid, Man Utd. A couple of years back and all these teams would be challenging for the league's top spot all the way to May.

What's happened this year? Lets see.
In Spain, Real Madrid languish 10 points behind Barcelona.
In Italy, Milan are 12 points behind Juventus.
In England, Man Utd are a sorry 15 points behind Chelsea.

So is it just a case of a cycle of ups and downs or is there something more serious in it? While Milan has played decently well so far in the season and has lost a few close encounters, both Real and Man Utd have been taken to the cleaners in a few matches. Heavy defeats. The last one being a 6-1 thrashing of Real by Zaragoza. Real's got an aging midfield and a frequently chopped and changed team. They sold Solari who is doing pretty well at Inter. Gravesen isn't playing. Owen got sold. Ronaldo was out due to injury. Zidane can't make up his mind whether he wants to retire or not. Man Utd just doesn't have a midfield due to various reasons. Ferdinand and Rooney are the current choices. But even with Fletch and Smith back, its not something to write home about. They need a holding midfielder and a left winger. The defence in both teams leaks goals. Woodgate has cost Real a lot but he isnt in double digits in 2 years! Hmmm. Silvestre is atrocious. Neville is getting old. Evra needs to work hard if he wants to hold on to his spot when Heinze is fit.

Such disparity between top teams isn't great for the game. You need games close to the final weekend to decide the league, not in March/April!!!