Robbie Keane is an MLS Player – and He’s Only 31!

I thought the MLS was a place for over-the-hill players to retire.  Here’s a player that banged in 200 goals in the most competitive domestic league and cup competitions in the world.  He is 10th highest goal scorer in premier league history – Didier Drogba and Ruud van Nistelrooy don’t even come close to making this list.  With over 50 goals in the international stage, Keane is Ireland’s all-time record goal scorer.

$73,800,000.  This is what he’s commanded from clubs such as Liverpool, Tottenham, even Inter Milan.  He was most successful at Tottenham, but why didn’t he live up to his potential at the bigger clubs?

Luck of the Irish?  At Inter Milan, Marcelo Lippi went on to say “At that time at Inter, they had a policy of going for young players and Robbie Keane was the best one that I saw.”  He didn’t hesitate in splashing 20 million for this promising young talent.  Of course as luck would have it, Lippi was sacked.  His successor had different plans for the future of the team and deemed Keane surplus to requirements.  Ciao Italia!

At Liverpool, the “fat Spanish waiter” Rafa Benitez never gave him a proper chance to express himself on the field.  The constant tinkering with formations, playing him on the wing, and often leaving him to rot on the bench – It’s not difficult to imagine what this does to a player’s confidence.  When he played (mostly as a sub) he scored – and important goals as well against Arsenal, and also in the Champions League.  If he did score, he was sure to be dropped for the next game.  Don’t forget how Benitez, who at the time was feeling the heat from the owner’s and fans, put the blame of poor results squarely on the shoulders of Keane.  Class!   As a kid growing up in Ireland, Keane always had a Liverpool shirt on his back.  His spell at Liverpool lasted just 6 months.  Eeek.

Enough about his past.  Let’s focus on now.

I’m truly excited about the growth of the MLS.  There was a time when big name stars only came to the MLS at the end of their careers (36-40 years old).  At 31, Robbie Keane still has so much left to give.  First came David Beckham.  Then Thierry Henry.  These are players who are still playing amazing football.  Henry is currently top scorer in MLS and I just saw Beckham in person perform at the highest level against Man Utd a few weeks ago.  These guys give meaning to the saying “form is temporary, class is permanent.”

What an incredible signing for the L.A. Galaxy!  Compared to other leagues around the world, the MLS is just a baby.  But there’s a reason why I’m drawn to the Galaxy… I can’t wait to watch Becks, Landicakes, and Keano together on the pitch.

I really admire Robbie Keane and I’ll tell you why.  This is as a man who makes no excuses for himself.  If the goals aren’t coming, he’s honest about it and will be the first to admit it.  Some think he’s underperformed at a professional level, but I feel he has done it all.  He followed his dream to play in Italy, Liverpool, Celtic (where he was voted Fan’s Player of the Year), and now a new chapter in his life begins in the US.  If that’s not enough of a reward, check out his wife and Miss Ireland contestant Claudine Keane! (Pictured, right)

Luck of the Irish.


Carlitos’ Way: 5 Reasons Why I Hate Carlos Tevez and His Tiny Tears

There is something very wrong with the modern game.  Corrupt agents, greedy owners, and worse of all, ungrateful players are tarnishing the image of the sport.  Two words.  Carlos Tevez.  Here are five reasons why I can’t stand this self-loathing, simple-minded tyrant.

1. Manchester United

He thought he was bigger than Man Utd with his insatiable demands.  There’s a reason why SAF said he had no regrets over his departure.  It wasn’t because this “little engine that could” bagged an impressive 5 goals in his final season at Man Utd.  No.  It’s how his selfish mentality behind the scenes in the dressing room and board room rubbed off on the rest of team.  Remember the Rooney debacle?  This was a classic case of mimicry with limited knowledge of the consequences.  Ask yourself why Rooney stayed and Tevez left.  I’ll give you a hint… 3 letters.

2. He is Not As Good As He and the Media Make Him Out to Be

Even with his “try hard” attitude he still didn’t earn a regular spot over the laziest player in history of football – Dimitar “Le Sulk” Berbatov.  Give Tevez enough playing time, as in the 2010-11 season where he started 30 games, and he’ll bang in 20 goals.  Sounds good right?  Last season Berbs matched that feat in only 24 starts!  Don’t forget Berbatov lifted yet another premier league trophy while Tevez took a “Scrooge McDuck” dive into his money bin.  The quicker he realizes that there’s only now, the happier he and everyone around him will be.

3. Speaking of Happiness… 

In yet another expected turn of events, Tevez failed to pull 40 million from Corinthians.  Suddenly he’s more than ready to come back to the same people he insulted – the same people who pay his ridiculously inflated salary said to be as high as $450,000/week.  His egocentric attitude will infect the rest of his City teammates and surely disrupt team morale.  Bye bye momentum!

4. The Aimless Money-hungry Saga Continues

I predict that before January, Tevez will explode in a fit of rage at Mancini regarding his lack of playing time.  A new hero has emerged at City in Aguero and Tevez’s greed will get him exactly what he deserves… A never-ending quest to nowhere.

And one last thing:

5. “I’m Never Coming Back to Manchester”

Tevez is not fooling me with his reason(s) for wanting to leave.  “I want to be closer to my family.”  LIAR!!!  He is clearly using diversion tactics to stress that his issue is NOT with money, but family related.  He paints a picture of himself struggling emotionally so we as fans will sympathize with him.  But try to answer this question in an honest way…  If Inter Milan or Real Madrid met his over-inflated $$$ demands, would he move even farther from his daughters?

Related Video: How Many Lies Can You Spot?

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Supercopa Part Two: This Was The Turning Point

Five days.  Two incredible football matches.

Barcelona and Real Madrid played an amazing 180+ minutes, full of action, goals, and emotion.  All you heard about, though, is how José Mourinho and Real Madrid are “ruining the game of football”.

Nine goals were scored in 180 minutes.  That’s about one goal every 20 minutes, which is far more than anyone expected prior to the beginning of the Supercopa – it is, after all, just the start of the Spanish football season.  In addition to the goals, you had moments of brilliance by players on both teams.  No one gave up, until the last minute of each match, and things that looked impossible were accomplished.  At times, these two matches were a pleasure to watch, regardless of which team you supported.

Marcelo’s tackle was ugly..  It was violent.  It was reckless.  He also had a nice little sidekick to Messi’s private area earlier in the match.  He’ll be punished for it, and he should be!  I never condone that sort of behavior on the pitch, but please, stop harping on the harsh tackles, and focus on the football played on the pitch!

 If you’d like to harp on the violence, then maybe we should focus on Barcelona’s racist nature.  That’s right — how do you know that Marcelo’s reaction wasn’t prompted by another “monkey” insult by Busquets, or by the Camp Nou crowd?  It happened last season!  Özil was red-carded for violent conduct on David Villa.  The man isn’t just going to bitch-slap an opponent unless he is provoked;  in this case, the Spaniard insulted Özil’s religion, so in my opinion, he got what he deserved.  I would gladly take a red card for smacking some ignorant jackwagon in the mouth, had he insulted my religion, family, country, race, what have you.

No one is talking about the missing word:  provocation.  Madrid came to play, regardless of what trophy was at stake.  They played hard..  And for 180 minutes, they had to put up with racist insults, crybabies tugging on the referee’s shorts and tattle telling, Messi kicking the ball away after a whistle (I counted at least six times), Busquets kicking the ball at Ronaldo while he’s down on the pitch… the list goes on.  Oh, I don’t think anyone remembers in the 55th minute when Dani Alves shoves his dirty hand in Marcelo’s face, or when Messi instigates Mourinho by telling him to shut up, and subsequently shoves a poor Fábio Coentrão in the back for no reason…  You provoke the neighbor’s dog long enough, and you’re going to get bitten… I’ve seen it a thousand times, folks.  These are the types of attitudes that are ruining the game of football.  Look in the mirror, Farcelona!  I had to look outside my window for a brief moment to make sure that hell hadn’t frozen over.  Why?  I actually saw Dani Alves yelling at Ronaldo for diving!

Oh, and I couldn’t believe the scene at the end, where Mourinho tugs jokingly at Tito Vilanova’s ear.  No, I don’t mean that part – that part was funny.  What surprised me was the fact that the Barcelona assistant didn’t drop to the ground holding his eyes as if he’d been shot at close range.  The players must learn those skills somewhere.  And the amazing thing is that Vilanova started the whole issue with Mourinho by slapping him as the Portuguese manager walked away from the ruckus at the end of the match!  Spanish television is so far up Barcelona’s ass that they covered it up – but there are videos out there on YouTube that prove it.

Before I move on, let me just say this: Marcelo being out for a few games is terrific for Madrid – this means Fábio Coentrão will get some playing time where he is most dangerous: out wide.  This whole Madrid side is hungry, and they’re playing their hearts out.  What I saw in these two matches just makes me eager for the next match between these two teams! 

Face it, folks:  Barcelona are scared.  They should be.  Madrid outplayed them these two matches, and they’re only going to get better as the season progresses.  The Barcelona domination is over, and the poor little Barca boys are pissing their pants, because they see the pain is coming… in the form of a Pepe dropkick to the back of the head.

And so it begins…

Famous Football Quote of the Day:

“We won without getting off the bus.”
– Helenio Herrera Gavilán, former player and manager 

Supercopa Part One: Some Play Hard; Others Hardly Need to Play

It was the first match of the season.

Madrid vs. Barcelona at the Santiago Barnabéu for the first leg of the Supercopa. Prior to the match, Mourinho showed how serious he and his team will be this season, and Guardiola prepared his early excuses in case his team got crushed in this match. Apparently, according to the Barcelona manager, it’s only preseason for his team, not Madrid. He knew what was coming in this match, so I guess he’s not stupid.

Thirty five minutes into the match, and Barcelona was being dominated by Madrid – it wasn’t even a contest. At this point, they hadn’t even made it to the Madrid box, and Madrid was winning 1-0. Then Villa gets the ball near the box, and the supposed “number one keeper in the world” is badly beaten. 1-1.

Near the halftime whistle, a handball in the Barcelona box. To no surprise, there is no call. And a couple of plays later, Leo Messi grabs Pepe (who falls over) and scores easily. Again, no call – again, no surprises here. Time and time again, the referees in Spain (and in Europe) fail to see anything that Barcelona ever does wrong. Those two calls were just “more of the same”. With eight minutes to go, Victor Valdez trips Ronaldo in the box and again, no call! It is almost comical, considering the fact that anytime someone so much as breathes on a Barcelona player, the whistle is heard. Barcelona went to the Madrid box twice, and scored on both occasions.

Dani Alves. For the love of God and the game, please, referees, do something about this asshat. It is shameful to see the Brazilian’s antics, every single game. The man cannot be touched – it’s as though he has been shot. It makes me sick to my stomach to watch, and if I were a Barcelona fan (thank the heavens that will never happen), I would be ashamed to see that sort of barbarity on my team. Messi is made of glass, so he too cannot be touched – ever. It’s fine to protect the world’s best players, but it’s funny how that treatment doesn’t extend to Ronaldo on the other side. If Messi ever played in a REAL league (there’s only one – England), he wouldn’t last three matches. Ronaldo survived five, six, seven challenges every match that would put the Argentine on the shelf for a month or two. How do you measure “the world’s best”? To me, it is not just skill; it is strength, drive, heart, dedication, resilience.

Moving on, Madrid ties the game at 2-2, through an effort from Alonso. A massively unfair result for the work put in by the Madrid side, and a travesty for the sheer lack of effort on the Barcelona side. When you are playing with 14 or 15, against 11, as usually is the case with these champions, then it is no surprise to see them get these types of results, even when they themselves are outclassed, as was the case today.

The season in Spain begins on a sour note, yet again. Madrid will have to overcome the ridiculous protection of their rivals by the men in black all season. I for one, think they’ll overcome the injustice, and play the game. And they’ll be victorious at the end. And it will taste twice as good knowing they didn’t get any outside help, unlike the chosen ones.

Part two of the Supercopa is on Wednesday, and I suspect it will be more of the same.

And so it begins…

Famous Football Quote of the Day:

“At times, they don’t like you to kick them, and they feel you’re not allowed to kick them.”
– Alan Shearer, former England striker 

Related Video:  Victor Valdez “Speaks” English

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Manchester, England: How Does One Measure a Football Club in This Town?

The 2011/2012 season is only days away, and the most talked-about city in football this season will be… Manchester.  United and City have spent money in the summer transfer window -– not big-ridiculous-Abramovich-Chelsea-money, or even City-in-past-years-money no, not that kind.  They have spent it wisely.  Let’s break it down.

United:  The Red Devils have brought in David “Van” de Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young for approximately 18 to 19 million pounds each.  De Gea comes in to replace Edwin Van der Sar, a man for whom a case could be made has been a top-three-goalkeeper-in-the-world the last half decade.  An impossible task for a 20 year old, one would think, but you’d be forgetting that special driving force we know as “SAF”, a man who can turn youngsters into the world’s best players in nothing short of record time.  If de Gea can cope with the ridiculous pressure the English media will place on him (and those who have followed him in Madrid are certain he can), he can be even better than his predecessor.  Sure, he let in two goals against City on Sunday, and as expected, the media crucified him, brought his skill into question, and everything in between.  But that was 90 minutes of football.  United have bought a player for 20 years, not 90 minutes. 

Phil Jones impressed me at Blackburn, and continues to do so at United.  He outclassed his seniors, Vidic and Ferdinand, in the Community Shield, and seeing him in person at Red Bull Arena only amplified my optimism:  this kid is the real deal!  He is young, strong, talented, and man is he deceptively fast!  Future England national team anchor?  I think it’s inevitable.

Ashley Young, at 26, feels to me more like “insurance” than “the future”.  With talks of Nani potentially leaving the club (I don’t think Ferguson will allow this to happen), Giggs nearing retirement, and Park strolling into his 30’s, Young is a solid winger who can fill the gaps as needed for the next five years or so.  With a healthy Nani and Valencia, I don’t think Young is going to see as much playing time as everyone expects, though one never knows with Ferguson; the man loves to rotate players, and that’s another reason United are so strong every year.

On a quick side note, here’s an interesting comparison of United’s main lineup from 3 years ago, compared to the one that wrapped up the Community Shield on Sunday (see table, right):  

You can place this team on the EPL podium until at least 2022.  Easy money.

Conclusion:  Sir Alex Ferguson has quietly “out-Wengered” the gunners’ boss by buying solid, outrageously talented young players with limitless potential.  This side of Manchester measures a football club with a carefully-assembled formula of youth, talent, agility and potential mixed in with experience.  In the last 20 years, there has never been a time that I recall a break in this formula; young players like Scholes, Giggs, Ferdinand, Keane and others grew into the world’s most respected footballers, and they served as the perfect mentors for the next line of young players, like Ronaldo and Rooney, and now, the other newcomers.

City:  Over at Eastlands, Mancini chose quality over quantity, or so it appears.  Granted, City have picked up several players (like Savic from Partizan, and Clichy from Arsenal), it is clear they focused on one – “El Kun” – Sergio Aguero.  For a mere 45 million.  Chump change.  Aguero is basically the exact opposite of Balotelli:  he is not a prima-donna, and he works hard for every single ball, anywhere on the pitch.  He doesn’t give up on a challenge, and when he finally gets the ball, he is really really tough to dispossess.  He has a low center of gravity, and marvelous feet.  The ball may not stick to him as well as it did his father-in-law (some may remember this other Argentine… a man by the name of Diego Armando Maradona?), but it will be enough to drive Premier League defenders insane.  I can’t imagine what wonders we’ll witness between El Kun and the most underrated star in the league – David Silva.  You can count on intricate one-touch passing and deceptive give-and-go’s, not to mention superb diagonals to the Argentine from the Spaniard.  I, for one, cannot wait to see it.  I believe Aguero may have more of an impact for City this season than Chicharito did for United last season.

Moving past the acquisition, one can’t talk about Manchester City without talking about their size!  These boys are massive.  Now… United are no slouches either, but seeing the two teams face off in Sunday’s “friendly” really emphasized just how big the City lineup is.  The numbers don’t really do it justice, because most of these guys are solid.  Regardless, here are some numbers anyway:  Hart is 6’ 5”.  Touré and Džeko are 6’ 4”.  Kompany is 6’ 3”.  Lescott, Kolarov and Balotelli are 6’ 2”.  And then there is Micah Richards – he is 5’ 11” and built out of the same reinforced steel with which they make airplane black boxes.  See picture, right.

Conclusion:  Mancini has put City’s hopes on a solid world-class up-and-coming striker.  Add to this team’s size the sheer talent of Silva and Aguero, the shot-stopping ability of Hart, and the possibility that Carlitos Tevez and Balotelli might actually stay in Manchester this year, and you can’t help but think that these guys will shut teams down with furious tenacity.  They did it last season, but the difference now is that they actually have a striker that will make a difference at the other end – this math difference might just mean “title”.  If at least one of the two problem children grow up this year, we’re in for some serious Manchester domination.  On this side of town, they measure a football club with a ruler.  And the measurement-takers are the same guys that used to train Ivan Drago.

This season’s EPL trophy will remain in the City of Manchester – the question that remains is, will youth prevail over size?  The answer will determine which side of Manchester will be celebrating come May.

And so it begins…

Famous Football Quote of the Day:

“If you understand football, you make substitutions during the game.  If you don’t, you make comments after it.”
– Hristo Stoichkov, former Bulgarian winger

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