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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
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North London
Quaresma

While England’s footballers sulk in their sun-loungers, the rest of the continent will be contesting the 2008 European Championships. Iain Macintosh, who still won’t allow the word ‘McClaren’ to be uttered in his home, runs the rule over some of the potential stars of the summer. This week, it’s the turn of FC Porto and Portugal winger, Ricardo Quaresma

Jesualdo Ferreira was almost off my Christmas card list. Last Saturday night the FC Porto manager, anxious to protect his stars for the Champions League clash with Schalke four days later, rested a number of his key players including Ricardo Quaresma. I had only tuned into their clash with Boavista to watch the mercurial star perform, so you can imagine my disappointment. Thankfully, the first half was so drab and uneventful, that Ferreira was forced to throw the him into action after the interval in an effort to break Boavista’s spirited resistance. If he hadn’t, you’d probably be staring at a blank page right now.

Quaresma, linked with a host of top European clubs, is a superb player. He’s one of those wonderful modern attackers who defy any attempt at pigeon-holing. He’s not a traditional winger, as he likes to roam around the pitch causing trouble wherever he can. He is, in a very literal sense, a catalyst. He really does increase the rate of a reaction and that reaction is usually the defender covering his eyes and wailing, “I want my mum!”

He’s adept with either foot and, while he’s not as turf-scorchingly quick as Franck Ribery, he has enough pace to regularly get himself into dangerous positions. He’ll always look for a shot, even when a better option presents itself, which is why you’ll find piles of videos of him on the internet clattering in goals from all angles. You won’t find so much footage of his team-mates throwing their arms up in in impotent frustration, though I bet that happens more often.

Quaresma’s biggest problem is that he refuses to ever take the simple option. On the hour here, with the score still at 0-0, he trotted into the centre of the pitch to be met by two on-coming defenders. Instead of looking to pass the ball, he attempted to roll it up the back of his trailing leg and spectacularly flick it over his adversaries heads. He succeeded only in looping the ball to a very grateful Boavista goalkeeper. Ferreira was livid and glared at him from the sidelines.

Porto should have done better than a goalless draw here, especially as Boavista lost midfielder Diakete to a red card with 15 minutes still to play. The league leaders endured the disappointment of a late disallowed goal and saw Quaresma hit the bar in the last minute, but their fans won’t mind too much. With just nine games left, they sit 12 points clear at the top of the table.

Unfortunately, the decision to give their star players the night off failed to secure their place in the Quarter-Finals of the Champions League. Porto, Quaresma and all, crashed out on penalties after extra-time and the 24 year old will regret not making the most of a late opportunity to seal the win.

Portugal are blessed with creative players, but they’re very much the ‘nearly men’ of global football. Their so-called ‘golden generation’ of players failed to land them a trophy and the pressure is building on Phil Scolari to finally deliver glory this summer. With the likes of Quaresma and Cristiano Ronaldo, they certainly have the talent, but do they have the application? This summer, we’ll find out.


STAR PLAYER - Ricardo Quaresma (Portugal)
Speed - 7
Skill - 10
Determination - 7
Total - 24

Next week, I'll be tuning into PSV against Ajax to see Holland’s up and coming striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
 

Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Lewisham, London
Slip - great piece as always. It's got me thinking... and it maybe something you've done already - but one way in which you could get your readers really involved in your Euro pieces would be in effect to pose them the question:

Who should I support at Euro 2008 this summer, and why?

That should get your postbag filling up, shouldn't it?!

:)
 

number11

"Good morning everybody........"
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
5,599
Slip - great piece as always. It's got me thinking... and it maybe something you've done already - but one way in which you could get your readers really involved in your Euro pieces would be in effect to pose them the question:

Who should I support at Euro 2008 this summer, and why?

That should get your postbag filling up, shouldn't it?!

:)

That is a great question. I had become so disillushioned with Englands overpaid, undercommitted 'superstars' that the last few tournaments have been painful. Will be interesting to watch a major tournament from a neutral point of view.

Who will I be supporting....can never bring myself to support the French, Germans or Italians, Portugual have Ronaldo so I cant support them (If they won several people in this country may just self combust in ecstacy).


Therefore it will be between perenial underachieivers Holland and Spain for me.
 

Einstein

Esch Zhed Eff Schee
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
5,475
Location
Den Haag, Netherlands
That is a great question. I had become so disillushioned with Englands overpaid, undercommitted 'superstars' that the last few tournaments have been painful. Will be interesting to watch a major tournament from a neutral point of view.

Who will I be supporting....can never bring myself to support the French, Germans or Italians, Portugual have Ronaldo so I cant support them (If they won several people in this country may just self combust in ecstacy).


Therefore it will be between perenial underachieivers Holland and Spain for me.
Good choice - get on board mate!! :clap:
 

Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
19,929
Location
Lewisham, London
Apparently Prston player Richard Chapelow was asked this very question in the PNE programme a couple of weeks ago and answered England or Argentina.:nope: :stunned:

LOL - as Frank Skinner famously quipped, on meeting a footballer with a degree, "Bloody 'ell, you've got a degree? Isn't it normally the case that the guy in the side with an O Level is known as 'The Professor'..."

:finger:
 

Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
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Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Sorry Spurs

Juande Ramos said earlier this week that the clash with PSV Eindhoven would be a barometer of his team’s progress since he took the helm, but if that’s the case then there’s a grim storm on the horizon. Most people put Tottenham’s abysmal showing at St Andrews last weekend down to a hangover, quite literally in certain cases, from their League Cup triumph, but this dull performance had no such excuse. PSV arrived at White Hart Lane looking for nothing more than a draw, but they left with a deserved victory.

It was a night to forget for Tottenham’s new left-back Gilberto, who had such a disastrous debut that he was hauled off at half-time and replaced by Jamie O’Hara. The former Hertha Berlin defender was absolutely savaged by Jefferson Farfan, earning a yellow card for hauling him to the ground in the 26th minute and then, just seven minutes later, suffering the indignity of being robbed by the electric Peruvian outside his own area and having to watch him strike home the critical goal.

I was sat next to the tunnel for this one; perfect for my new hobby of Ramos-watching. The Spanish boss is the most animated, excitable manager in the league, with the exception of mad Martin O’Neill, and sometimes it’s more entertaining to watch him than the game.

Early on in the match, Didier Zokora was so deep that, for a moment, I wondered if Spurs had deployed five defenders. Ramos noticed it too and ran to the touchline.

“HEY!” he bellowed. Nothing.

“Oi!” he yelled again. Still nothing.

“Phweeeeep!” he whistled expertly with two fingers. Finally Zokora turned around and was met with the biggest shrug I’ve ever seen outside of the Orang-utan enclosure at London Zoo. Ramos shrugged so hard, and with so much passion that it seemed to scream out, “I don’t know why you’re standing there, and I bet you don’t either, do you?” Zokora got the message and trotted off to rejoin the midfield. This was only the third minute!

PSV had no problems with positioning, in fact, they could probably lecture on it at Cambridge University. Captain Timmy Simmons took up a position in between the defence and the midfield and prevented Spurs from running at the centre backs while Lennon and Malbranque were completely squeezed out of the game. Tottenham were reduced either to passing the ball in vain around their opponents, or lumping it long in the hope that something would happen. It was uninspiring stuff, but PSV didn’t care. Their attitude seemed to be, ‘go on then, see if you can get past this.’ They took advantage of Gilberto’s mistake, probed occasionally with through balls in front of Farfan, but for the most part they were happy to sit deep and absorb the pressure.

Despite the scoreline, PSV were not noticeably superior, just more organised. Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King made sure that highly-rated Danny Koevermans was heavily shackled, but no-one could seem to get to grips with Farfan and he threatened on numerous occasions.

Tottenham will now have to go to Holland and score, which isn’t an unachievable aim for a side that boasts such potent firepower. The only concern is that success has quenched the spark of urgency, the desire that they had before Wembley. The League Cup was paraded around White Hart Lane before the game to tumultuous applause, bit if I was Ramos, I’d get it hidden away in the trophy cabinet. Spurs need to move on.
 

Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
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Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Fergie Should Have Stayed Quiet

You would think that Sir Alex Ferguson would know better, wouldn’t you? The last time he announced retirement plans, before the start of the 2001/02 season, Manchester United completely lost their focus and slumped like a Tottenham player at closing time. Between October and December of that awkward season, with constant speculation on the identity of his successor, United won just once in seven games, losing five and dropping to ninth in the table as Christmas approached. As the festive period arrived, his family told him to consider staying on and the victories returned. It was too late to save the title that season, but with Ferguson committed to the future, they snatched it back in 2002/03.

“Maybe three years more,” reported the Daily Mirror yesterday, “then I’ll finish.”

What on earth did he say that for? Now we’re going to have to put up with 36 months of speculation on his replacement. Ferguson will recommend his assistant Carlos Queiroz as the next in line for the throne, but after his disastrous season at Real Madrid, I think I’ve got as much chance as him of landing that job. Keep in mind that Steve McClaren also had Fergie’s favour in 2001, but the board had other ideas and stepped in to prevent what could have been the most hilarious change in fortunes in the history of the game. You know, whenever I feel blue, I like to sit back and ponder how that one would have worked out. It always cheers me up.

Ferguson is, I think, the most successful British manager of all time now. Bob Paisley may have won bigger at Liverpool, but he didn’t have to rebuild a borderline relegation side first. Brian Clough won the European Cup twice with Nottingham Forest and the League with Derby County, which is unfathomable now, but he couldn’t hold a dynasty together at the very top for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately it is Ferguson’s unparalled success that prevents him from seeing the danger approaching on the horizon.

Veteran players often ruefully joke that, for them, there is no such thing as an off-day. When an thirty-something struggles in a game, people assume that they’re past it. Unfortunately the same prejudice applies to managers. Sir Bobby Robson discovered this at Newcastle in 2004 when his fifth place finish and a run to the Semi-Finals of the UEFA Cup was judged to be evidence of his waning powers. Freddy Shepherd refused to offer him a new contract, announced that Robson was off at the end of the following season and then sacked him anyway, just four games into the next campaign. What would Newcastle fans do if Keegan managed a top five finish? They’d be delirious, wouldn’t they? Ferguson may think himself immune to this irrational syndrome, but he’s not.

Just bringing up the subject puts doubt in everyone’s mind. Granted, he’s not lost the edge yet, but what about the next defeat? Will that be the product of his age, his loss of desire? No? What about the next time he loses two games back-to-back? What about next season if United start slowly again? After all, Ferguson is popular now, but remember that 18 months ago, United fans were protesting against him outside the Carrington training ground. Sooner or later, they’ll hit a bad patch of form and then people will start to question whether it’s worth waiting three years to make a change.

Ferguson deserves to have a triumphant exit with silverware in his hand and applause ringing in his ears, but I fear that this innocent comment will only hasten an undignified departure.
 

sufcintheprem

This is a modified caption
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
10,185
Location
Putney
I think Ferguson's too similar to Schmeichel in that he would love to retire at the pinnacle of the game but most likely won't be able to do it.

In fairness, it looks as though the current team is not going to peak for another year or two. Anderson in particular looks like he may be able to more than replace Paul Scholes which I'm reluctant about even typing because of Scholes' calibre. It also seems easy to forget that Tevez and probably Ronaldo/Rooney still have better years ahead of them.
 

sufcintheprem

This is a modified caption
Joined
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Messages
10,185
Location
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I see where they are coming from, though. If an organisation made that sort of allegation towards me where no charges were subsequently even brought then I'd be pretty peeved.

It is a strange situation though. Has there been any legal action from either party? Surely if the BBC were in the wrong, there was a case for defamation of character? If the revelation was as ground-breaking as they made out then why have no charges been brought against Ferguson/Redknapp(/Allardyce for that matter)?

It seems to me that the BBC programme has proved nothing and certianly not been the revelation it implied.
 

EastStandBlue

Life President
Joined
May 29, 2005
Messages
15,481
If I was in the same position I sure as hell would have no business with the BBC again...

They made accusations against two experienced, well respected figures of the game with little to absolutely no evidence, tarnishing their reputations. More fool the BBC for being stupid enough to broadcast such blatantly defamatory material.
 

Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator⭐
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
36,150
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London
I see where they are coming from, though. If an organisation made that sort of allegation towards me where no charges were subsequently even brought then I'd be pretty peeved.

It is a strange situation though. Has there been any legal action from either party? Surely if the BBC were in the wrong, there was a case for defamation of character? If the revelation was as ground-breaking as they made out then why have no charges been brought against Ferguson/Redknapp(/Allardyce for that matter)?

It seems to me that the BBC programme has proved nothing and certianly not been the revelation it implied.

I think the bungs inquiry came to the conclusion that there were shall we say "murky goings on", but basically couldn't pin anything against them.

Whilst it would be difficult to establish the absolute defence of truth (although unlike a criminal trial it would be balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt), certain managers would be keen not to perjure themselves and there are probably numerous questions they'd rather not answer.
 

Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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Worst FA Cup? I think not

Monday morning was like a scene from one of those post-apocalyptic movies that usually star Mel Gibson. The old order has been shattered, the new dawn has arrived and the scattered survivors crawl from their bolt-holes to blink in confusion at the much reduced skyline and wonder if things will ever be the same again.

Manchester United? Their towering magnificence reduced to nothing more than scorched rubble. Chelsea? So much splendour, so much opulence and now, just an ugly smear across the floor. Middlesbrough? Erm….dunno…didn’t it always look like that?

Portsmouth, who haven’t been this far since Darren Anderton was still learning to shave, are now stuck with the unlikely mantle of favourites, purely on the basis that they are the only top flight club left standing in the last four. This hasn’t happened in a hundred years, a wonderfully round number which rather adds to the whole fairytale vibe. There have been a few suggestions that this is now the worst FA Cup ever, but I couldn’t disagree more. The sight of so many big, rich football clubs falling heavily on their cash-flabby bottoms is the most entertaining thing I’ve seen in years. I just wish that Michel Platini had got his own way and that there was a Champions League place up for grabs as well.

No-one can really complain. Last year we had a showpiece Final between the League Champions and their closest rivals and look what happened. It was more boring than a Best Of Bolton DVD. Why not embrace the fact that someone else is getting a turn in the limelight? In the old days, by which I mean the 1980s, this used to happen all the time. There was almost always an unfashionable team at Wembley. Brighton, Watford, Coventry and Wimbledon all entered the coliseum, and two of them left with the trophy and the knowledge that they had created another FA Cup legend.

Football’s seen a lot of changes since those days and they haven’t always been improvements. The money-trough of the Champions League means that the elite clubs get richer and more dominant every year. It’s harder than ever to pick up silverware and practically impossible to break into the top four. You have to go all the way back to 1995 to find a victorious underdog and that was Everton, who aren’t exactly a lower-league minnow.

Outside of the Big Four’s private party, are 88 other football teams doomed to shiver on the doorstep all night. Ok, so Tottenham and Middlesbrough managed to gatecrash and snaffle a League Cup, but that’s just a momentary lapse on the part of the bouncers. The vast majority of the football-attending public don’t support a big team. They plod along every other week, paying their money, shouting themselves hoarse and all in the knowledge that they won’t be winning anything of note. Even if the smaller clubs do take a gamble on a Carlos Tevez, or unearth a Wayne Rooney, or mould a Michael Carrick, it’s only a matter of time before the big clubs come and lure them away. They’re even ******* up untested youngsters from the lower leagues like Jack Hobbs and Danny Philliskirk, so what chance has anyone got to improve?

I am still utterly confused by this weekend. I can’t fathom how Portsmouth managed to beat Manchester United and, more incredibly, how Barnsley managed to outplay Chelsea. Clearly, the Gods of Football are in a playful mood. There is no glamour tie in the FA Cup Semi-Finals because there is no glamour team left in the FA Cup, but you can bet that the passionate, long-suffering supporters of Portsmouth, Cardiff, West Bromwich Albion and Barnsley are in dreamland this morning.

And if you thought Tottenham were loud against Chelsea, just wait until the two lucky finalists turn up at Wembley in May. You’ll see 90,000 fans having the time of their lives, living for the moment and making so much noise that you’ll probably be able to hear it from the other side of the world. Worst FA Cup ever? Quite the contrary.
 

Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Sun Benitez

Liverpool finally joined up with their compatriots in the last eight of the Champions League on Wednesday morning and sent out an ominous message to the rest of Europe in the process. Inter Milan will complain bitterly about another harsh red card, but the truth is that they have been absolutely out-Italianed over the course of this tie. Rafa Bentez has yet to prove himself dominant in the Premier League, but he is a tactical genius in this arena, where defending and counter-attacking is so important.

As Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese warlord, once said, “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.”

Benitez has never had any problem knowing when not to fight, it’s getting his teams to attack that’s always the been the issue. In recent weeks, however, something has clicked with this Liverpool side and they suddenly look balanced and dangerous. Now when they line up and try to protect an advantage they have a structure that allows them to break out and launch the occasional assault on their opponents. They don’t just sit deep and wait for something to happen, they pick and choose their moments, always creating enough of a threat to throw their enemies off balance. Sun Tzu would be very impressed.

This was a sixth successive win for the Reds and, as has been the case so often, it was secured by a moment of magic from Fernando Torres. Not since Jurgen Klinsmann has a foreign striker settled into an English side so quickly. Even Thierry Henry needed six months to acclimatise. Torres is a legitimate phenomenon. His crucial goal was so clinical, so effortless and so beautiful. It was the mark of a man at the top of his game.

Inter Milan had scattered chances to get back into the game, but instead of Torres, they had to rely on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, an unworthy rival. The towering Swede has a huge reputation, but I have to confess that I have never seen any evidence of talent to back it up. He did nothing in the 2006 World Cup, I saw him lope hopelessly around the Emirates Stadium in the summer and he was equally underwhelming here. His only involvement was to miss two golden opportunities and sulk for the rest of the game. Julio Cruz, his Argentine strike partner, was far more effective.

Even Tom Henning Ovrebo made more of a mark on this game. The Norwegian referee handed cautions out like business cards at a sales conference. Not only did he bring a premature end to an enthralling contest by sending off Nicolas Burdisso for his enthusiastic challenge on Lucas, but he spent the rest of the match trying to even up the numbers. Nine yellow cards in a game played in good spirits is daft and Liverpool will have to hope that the four bookings they received won’t come back to haunt them later on.

“I don’t think anyone will want to get us in the last eight,” said Steven Gerrard after the game and it’s difficult to argue with him. The only rotation in this Liverpool side now is when Fernando Torres turns defenders inside out. Consistency has crept into the team, in formation, personnel and performance. Martin Skrtel looks like a fine signing, Pepe Reina is back to top form and Lucas and Javier Mascherano have formed a rearguard that few teams will be able to break down.

Benitez’s only concern will have been the individual errors that led to Inter Milan’s fleeting attempts on his goal. For an obsessive like him, it will have been frustrating to see possession squandered in dangerous positions. He, like Sun Tzu will know that, “making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.”

The rest of Europe will just have to hope that he doesn’t manage to eradicate those errors before the next round.
 

Kenny

Thailand Shrimper
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
3,584
Location
Bangkok
Same goes for Harry Redknapp as well....
This refusal to speak to the BBC just makes them look petulant and stupid.

Actually I notice that 'Arry seems to have buried the hatchet with the Beeb and now gives interviews again, Just Sir Alex and Big Sam that still wheel out the no.2 for the Beeb cameras.
 

EastStandBlue

Life President
Joined
May 29, 2005
Messages
15,481
At least somebody agrees with me about Ibrahimovich. The single most overrated player in the world... Has all the tricks in the book, but offers little to nothing in terms of an end product everytime i've seen him. He's the Jamal Campbell-Ryce for the insanely rich.
 
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