Wednesday, April 9, 2008

English footballers have diarrhea of the mouth

I know I'm supposed to be talking about the rest of my 2008 ski season right now, but this couldn't wait. If I were the manager of a Premier League team, I would not let any of my English-born players talk to the press. Seriously, in the years that I have followed English football, I am yet to hear an English player say something intelligent.

The latest comes from Joe Cole, a player whom I respect as an individual except for the fact that he plays for the most deplorable organization on the far side of the Atlantic from the New York Yankees. Today Cole, whose side yesterday managed to advance to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League, is going off on how they should have already won the tournament. Really Joe? You should already have been crowned champions even though your team has never even made it to the finals? We all agree with you, Joe. Because everyone knows that losing in the semis is just as hard as winning the final. Except that you wouldn't even know what it's like to play in the final, would you?

In related news, my beloved Arsenal were knocked out of the tournament by perennial Champions League contenders Liverpool. I'm not going to whine about dodgy penalty calls or no calls or who outplayed whom. I'll simply give credit to Rafa Benitez for being a remarkable in-game tactician. I admire Arsene Wenger tremendously, and I do not believe he has a rival when it comes to identifying and developing talent. But Rafa is a better game manager .

At the start of the game, Liverpool could not contain Emmanuel Adebayor, and it looked like it would be a very lopsided affair. But after the first goal, Liverpool made some adjustments, and in the second half it was Arsenal who were back on their heels and who ultimately succumbed.

Finally, just a comment about Theo Walcott: the equalizer Arsenal scored in the 84th minute was all Theo. I couldn't tell on TV who had the ball, and at first I thought it was Fabregas. When Theo kicked the ball upfield and then started to run around his opponent, my first thought (thinking it was Fab) was "yeah, right." But he outran his mark to the ball (I realized at this point it was Theo, not Fab), and then beat three other defenders before making a perfect cross to set up the goal. I used to think Theo would never live up to expectations, but I am eating my words. Arsenal are a much better team with him on the field, and Gallas is a brilliant captain for knowing how to spur Theo to turn the corner on his performance.

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