Lets hope football’s the winner

by Matt Quinn

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
 

2007/2008: Lots to play for

With titles and cups being settled across the globe, it would be easy to call 2007/08 a classic season for football and English club football, in particular. A genuine 3 horse title race, a number of clubs pushing for 4th place, 4 English clubs in the Champions league quarter-finals, outsiders flourishing in the FA cup and an unbelievable promotion charge by at least a dozen clubs in the Championship.

However, on closer inspection it could yet turn out to be a season that celebrates the mediocre and uninspired. In the Premiership, Manchester United have played with a swagger and attacking verve that looked like sweeping them to a deserved title. A draw against a dazzling Boro and injuries to Vidic and Ferdinand, however, has seen Chelsea close the gap on United with the two clubs yet to meet at Stamford Bridge. That Chelsea have quietly snuck into such a strong position is a vast understatement. That Chelsea would deserve the title is a similar exaggeration, yet it is an extremely feasible prospect.

In the FA cup, there have been some spectacular results along the way and the oft-cited FA cup magic has certainly been rekindled somewhat. However, it somehow appears that Portsmouth are going to lurch forward and steal the old trophy away from the more worthy underdogs. Portsmouth’s route to the final has been anything but shrouded in glory. Scraping through against Ipswich, Preston and Plymouth thanks to a combination of luck and David James pitched them against Man United. They progressed despite being on the end of a 1-0 hammering. In the semi-final, they were comprehensively outplayed by WBA yet still advanced. In recent memory there hasn’t have been a poorer winner of the final than Portsmouth.

In the Championship, the lack of any sort of form for any one team has seen the top half of the table concertinaed up into an unfathomable bottle-neck. While it is exciting that the likes of Bristol City and Hull may find themselves in the Premier league next season, it is disconcerting at the lack of any obvious quality in England’s second division. It is impossible to see many of the promotion hopefuls doing anything but replicate the hapless and embarrassing Derby County next season, if promoted.

However, it is not just domestically where rewards may end up being thrust upon undistinguished teams. In Spain, both Real Madrid and Barcelona are having their poorest seasons for years. Both teams still occupy the top two slots is worthy of note only to highlight the deficiencies in any potential rivals to the two footballing giants. Only a resurgent Villarreal offer any hope for La Liga this year. In Italy, Roma and Inter have shown in Europe that the days of Italian clubs dominating internationally are long gone. Once again, that these two poor teams are leading the way in Italy only proves to be a powerful denunciation of the stumbling giant that is Serie A.

All is not lost though. If football is, indeed, to be the winner this year, then one can look forward to a United title procession, a joyful Cardiff at Wembley, WBA finally showing their class in the championship, Villarreal putting further pressure on Barca and Real and a beautiful Euro 2008, even without England. Lets hope this happens and 2007/08 is not remembered as the year when mediocrity was rewarded.

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  • Bonus

    I dare say that Euro 2008 will be all the more ‘beautiful’ for England not being in it.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    We must remember that WYcliffe Fc play beautiful football, and are in fact flying the flag for football.

  • dexylongshot

    Yes they were a good team, until that unfortunate 19-11 mullering at the hands of The Dead Rabbits.
    Highlight footage still pending.

    Personally, I can’t wait for the Euros, I’m obviously gutted we didn’t qualify but at least i saved myself 3 Grand which is what i ended up shelling out for the last World Cup. Also, it will let me watch the competition without bias, although i will participating in a dreamteam so will probably want the austrian reserve right back to score a hatrick against Spain (unless i’ve got Puyol), oh balls!

  • mikie

    oh well, it looks like long ball and functional football rules my friends. The 2 most boring teams in Champions League history (excluding FC Porto) have made it through once again.

    For Arsenal’s brilliant efforts and fantastic blend of football they just fell short. Walcott’s run deserved to win the game alone, if it would have been Messi or Ronaldo the whole world have spoken about it for years.

    The comentators, all be it two Liverpool pro prats seem to love it, Gerrard went missing and yet they still managed to win.

    The message is clear Arsene, you need to sign 2 or 3 world class players to be able to compete with these boring teams functional teams

  • Martin Tibbetts

    It pains me to say it but I actually enjoyed watching Arsenal and Liverpool last night, finally they served up a great game. Both teams went for it big style, so I think all you naysayers about Liverpool can shut up now, it was end to end stuff and the best team narrowly won. Of course, the most loathsome man in the game couldn’t just accept defeat gracefully could he.

    Why does such a spectacle have to be soured by Arsene bleating on again about Arsenal being robbed. You lost, accept it for once. I for one hope that Liverpool beat Chelsea well and set up the final that any neutral wants to see, the two greats of English football in Europe battling it out for the grand prize….

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    Firstly lets congratulate Liverpool. The showed an intensity, desire & passion the England football team could only dream of. So they don’t play attractive football, so what, they won the game and are in the semi finals, to coin a phrase, read the papers. The history books will not remember the first 25 minutes, or Walcott’s amazing run, they will remember the result, Long Ball kings 4, Arsenal 2, sorry Rob, couldn’t resist.

    I’m still in shock to be honest, we had 70% possession over the four games played this season, yet we came away with 3 draws and 1 defeat. It defies explanation.

    The first 25 minutes were totally breathtaking, a real master class in how to play the beautiful game, to say it was a clash of styles was an understatement. Arsenal’s quick passing & movement off the ball was a joy to behold. But there lies the problem. Last season we were labeled a team with no plan B. Break up there passing, get in their faces and you’ll pretty much get something from the game. Manchester United don’t seem to have this problem, they have games won by the first half hour.

    This season a new problem seems to have emerged, the problem of inexperience and youth. We have found ourselves in winning positions recently only for simple defensive mistakes to undo all the hard work. Clichy at Birmingham & Man City, I for one love Clichy, but his mistake at Birmingham was the catalyst for our downfall. Gallas crying his stupid eyes out didn’t help either. Everyone in the world knows that Senerdros is NOT and never has been good enough, and yet Wenger choose to play him in our biggest game since the Champions League Final. Why? Eboue, another liability, (although to his credit actually did ok last night), should have played right back with Toure in the middle and Walcott on the right. Torres was quiet all game, and yet you knew with the dopey looking egghead at the back a chance would come. Senerdros is a player that makes an average of 1 mistake per 5 games I quoted to my flatmate, I was wrong, he makes more than that, 2 in a game of that magnitude is simply unacceptable.

    Wenger did say we were defensively naïve, at last Arsene, the penny has dropped. Lets get rid of the new Cygan before he costs us more vital goals and games.

    Two things are evident from last nights game, an Arsenal career was born, and one was killed off for good, I’m talking about Walcott of course, as Mikie has pointed out, it was a run worthy of winning any game. The latter of course is the dopey Swiss Egghead,

    If we can mount a serious challenge all fronts next season then I’ll except winning nothing for a 3rd season, after all, we are still a team in transition.

    We need to sign 2 or 3 players, we have the money, lets stop doing things on the cheap. There are players out there that would dream of playing for us. The irony is, Ryan Babel was an Arsenal target, yet like so many players before him went else where without a fight.

    I for one, will probebly resort to doing the hovering for the semi final as I so often have when Liverpool or Chelsea play. I am now officially a Barcelona fan. Although if United won I’d say they deserved it for the game of football.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    I strongly disagree with you Martin, Liverpool did not deserve to win that game, hitting long balls up to crouch hardly constitute this. They wanted it more yes, Wenger did actually come out and say we were naïve, which I thought showed guts, in essence he was actually admitting his young team were not good enough.

    A draw would have been a fair result, but football isn’t fair.

  • Matt Quinn

    I dont think Liverpool deserved it. Think Arsenal were the better team and the luck was definitely with Liverpool. Two identical penalty appeals both went in the favour of Liverpool, Bendtner failing to jump, Flamini going off injured, Adebayor’s miss last night etc… (admittedly you cant put the last one to luck)
    However, Liverpool as Darren said did play with an intensity and passion which was commendable. Over both games though it is hard to pick out a Liverpool attacking player of note. Torres was anonymous until his goal last night, Gerrard had his “worst ever game for Liverpool”, I thought Alonso and Mascherano were very poor. Kuyt was the best attacking player on view for liverpool. By contrast, Skrtel and Hyppia were excellent. I also thought Hleb was brilliant last night. (sorry Darren).
    On the upside, WBA went top of the championship last night! Woo. Football is the winner.

    Ps. Darren, you cant call Senderos dopey. He speaks about 6 different languages and has a genuine interest in quantum physics. As they say, read the papers.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    there’s a difference between intelligence on and off the pitch. I know he speaks 6 languages, quantum physics won’t win you a football match, where as a football brain will.

    Look at Rooney for example, I bet he couldn’t tell you what the capital of France is, yet on the pitch his intelligence is there for everyone to see.

    Pleb is much better playing that role, he was brilliantly pre-season and excellent for the first half. He needs to rest like most players would do. Our players have played way to many games

  • dexylongshot

    Walcott for England! I always knew he was mustard.

    He’s played the big lack, he’s got to start against the Mancs, Wenger has nothing to lose now.

  • Matt Quinn

    The former Real Madrid coach and World Cup winner Jorge Valdano has attacked Rafael Benítez and Jose Mourinho, insisting that they are ushering in a bleak future for football and likening the Champions League semi-final between Liverpool and Chelsea to “a sh*t hanging from a stick”.

    The Argentinian, who scored in the 1986 World Cup final and has a respected reputation as a football intellectual, claimed that Mourinho and Benítez mistrust talent because of their own failure to make it as players and said their approach is bad news for the game.

    Writing in Spain’s best-selling newspaper, Marca, Valdano insisted: “Football is made up of subjective feeling, of suggestion – and, in that, Anfield is unbeatable. Put a shit hanging from a stick in the middle of this passionate, crazy stadium and there are people who will tell you it’s a work of art. It’s not: it’s a sh*t hanging from a stick.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    At the end of the day football is all about results, it doesn’t matter what style you play, long ball, defensive, counter attack, or total football.

    The history books will tell you that functional teams (defensive) will win more than attacking teams. The Germans & Italians have made it an art form. No one seemed to complain then, or if they did I didn’t take any notice.

    Look at past winners of the Champions League for example, how many of those played attractive football?

    AC Milan (Defensive)
    Barcelona (Attractive)
    Liverpool (long ball)
    FC Porto (very defensive)

    The World Cup has been won by teams who play defensive football too

    Italy (Defensive)
    Brazil (Defensive with two holding players)
    France (4-5-1)
    Brazil (Defensive with two holding players)

    Euro’s

    Greece (Very very defensive)
    France (Attractive)
    Germany (Defensive robots)
    Denmark (Total Football)

    So there you go, throw in Chelsea winning the Prem league twice and you will see that defensive football wins trophies.

    It’s basics, keep a clean sheet and you are in with a chance.

    You won’t remember Matt but the Brazil team of 1982 was the best team I have ever seen, it was my introduction to world football, I’d never seen anything like it in my life, Zico, Eder, Falco & Socrates, the harlem Globe Trotters with a football. And yet they won nothing. A 3-2 quarter final defeat to the more defensive Italians knocked the out.

  • Matt Quinn

    Not sure how you can call Brazil defensive, Darren.
    They may have 2 defensive midfielders but thats mainly to compensate the fact that their full-backs are actually wingers.
    Throw in Argentina 2006. Best team of the World Cup by a million miles, but knocked out by functional Germany. For total football, you should re-watch Argentina 6 Serbia 0…. it was the most complete display of football ive ever seen. Unbelievable.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    Brazil 1994 were very defensive.

    Argentina 2006 were awesome, but like I say, total football rarely wins you anything but a few admirers.

    Denmark 92 were superb too, even with John Jenson in the team!

    One of the best games I’ve ever seen was Romania v Argentina in 1994, end to end excitement.

  • rob pullinger

    Well,well,well the pin has finally dropped, you so called football experts came crashing down and on the biggest stage bar the world cup itself.

    Yes it was a Fantastic game, yes we all would love to play the brillaint passing, freeflowing game, that Arsenal do, but that doesnt always get you results, just as Liverpool proved last night.

    I am a beloved Liverpool fan, and i can truly say, i thought we going to be played of the park the way Arsenal started, but true grit, determination and a believe that us scousers have we came through. dserved or not, thats down to yopur own opinions.
    Arsenal were exposed last night, not for the first time and believe me it wont be the last, defence!!!!!

    Only one word sums that up, POOR!!!!! I dont need to tell you what, its all been explained previously…..

    Yes you can say this and that about penalties all day long (darren are you taking notes,Gerrad scored aswell…. dont forget the £20 you owe me???) but it comes down to who wants it the most and Liverpool won by a long shot, more passsion, determination….you name they had it…..?

    Anfield is a coldron in European Football, Liverpool Fc should be feared, read the history books, we beat any team at home and do whats necessary…..now will everyone belive it.

    I for one am overjoyed that we won, we have knocked out probably the best footballing team in Europe and that includes the dreaded Man U…looking forward to semi against Chelsea, Rafa going to have to do something different as second leg away….still think we will make the final, against who, i dont really care???????

  • rob pullinger

    nothing fluky in that game it was just a good game which could have gone either way, just happens it was another night for the men of Merseyside and not the young pretenders of arsenal, maybe if they fielded some English players they could add some steel to the fantasy football they play and would have held out the fianl 6mins after getting the equalizer.

  • Matt Quinn

    Rob. No offence but you seem to have been taken in by this myth about passion and “wanting it more”. Its all very well, poor pundits like Shearer spouting off about this but really it is just not true. Its a lazy cliche.
    If Bendtner had jumped, Arsenal would have scored. Thats not down to Liverpool wanting it more.
    If the ref had rightly given the penalty to Arsenal they would prob have scored. Thats not down to Liverpool wanting it more.
    If Flamini hadnt gone off injured, Arsenal may have dominated even more. Thats not down to Liverpool wanting it more.
    Its not like Arsenal, for all their pretty passing, didnt create. They did and more so than Liverpool. In different circumstances, Arsenal could have scored 3 in the first game and 3/4 in the second. The fact that they didnt was more to do with luck and poor finishing than anything AT ALL to do with “Liverpool wanting it more” and “Liverpools passion.”

  • Matt Quinn

    Im not saying that Liverpool played poorly last night. They didnt… and they did play with passion… but that was only because they couldnt match Arsenal in a footballing sense. They had no other choice. That they won, though, was not down to passion. It was not a triumph of passion over technique. It was down to the key moments falling in Liverpools favour. Simple as that.

  • rob pullinger

    EVERYONE NEEDS A BIT OF LUCK????

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    you make you’re own luck in this game!

    We’ll be back next season, bigger, stronger and better. Mark my words.

    ps: Where are you from Rob?

  • rob pullinger

    (Arsenal team doesn’t seem able to grind out a result when it matters. )

    If you came here with any sympathy for arsenal, it would evaporate after reading so many idiotic posts.

    over three games arsenal couldn’t beat liverpool.

    three games, two of them at home, and you could’t beat liverpool once.

    all this whinging and whining doesn’t overcome the fact that in three games, two of them at home, you couldn’t beat liverpool even once.

    so dry your eyes.

  • rob pullinger

    Arsenal are a couple of missing links – and a couple of years of experience – away from being almost unstoppable. On tonight’s evidence, you know whats needed, let it end there!!!!!

  • Dan Church

    Rob Pullinger says ….we beat any team at home and do whats necessary…

    Marsaille ???

    Dont worry lads, we’ll do em in the final….the Anfield cauldren wont be about then…..

  • rob pullinger

    darren, im from bexley in kent, dont bother starting that rubbish.. ‘support your local team’???
    north verses south……

    im a red and always will be , expect this all the time from you so called football experts…

    (ps you been speaking to tel boy, (ask him what team he supports… they lost again last night)

    look forward to next seasons battles, just let it be?????

  • rob pullinger

    ah mr church, wondered when you would start, manc….

    you might not even get to the final, and if you do, nothing would please me better than to wipe awy the smile from your teams face, especially mr ferguson……how many times you won, o’ sorry we dont do history…..

    will await that debate next time?????

  • Matt Quinn

    Rob, please stop going on about grinding out results tho! Like you say everyone needs luck. Liverpool had it this time. Im not an Arsenal fan… just thought they were the better team and the victory had nothing to do with passion from Liverpool.

    If both penalty decisions had been reversed, (arsenal getting theres, Liverpool not)… im sure you would have stated the role of luck over passion.

    Anyway, can you tell me why Liverpool have started to win games recently? Is it because Steven Gerrard has been taken out of the midfield? I wrote months and months ago how the only way Liverpool will be consistent is if Gerrard is taken out of midfield. (re-read the article) Now, both Benitez and Capello have seen that he isnt good enough for central midfield at a top team. You disagreed with me at the time. Dont be so blinkered about Liverpool and all you read about passion, Stevie G and Anfield.

  • rob pullinger

    o’ hear we go again matt, arent you the historical villa fan…..

    to put it bluntly, firstly we did grind last night ‘s victory look at the game again…..i have it on tape if you need to borrow it????

    secondly, rafa only took gerrard out of midfield to change the teams outlook, shape and give arsenal something to think about, this might add was almost our down fall, but we prevailed…

    and last but not least, the reason why liverpool have started winning games is they are fresh, (rotation) have found a system, settled team, know what they have to do…….

    nothing might i add to do with stev g being in central mid or not, whether its liverpool or england, let alone a big team….stev g as we have dicusssed before, and in my view is best in centre mid, yes at the mo he’s in front of two, defensive players in alonso and masch but he’s still in midfield…..and does what he does best …..

    he’s still the heartbeat of this team…..

    as for england, well im not the manager, so my opinion is my own, dont think capello knows yet what he’s doing let alone the personel…..i for one like stev g and your man barry….but hey lets wait and see….

    enough of this tit for tat brummy…..you concentrate on your mob, me on mine…..see what happens, end of story?????

  • Matt Quinn

    Haha. Fair enough, mate. Just wanted to try and get one up on you about Gerrard! I think he’s the only reason im not a big fan of Liverpool. Really like Mascherano, Torres, Sktrel, Agger, even Pennant etc!!!
    I have a chip on my shoulder about Gerrard- and i honestly do think he disturbs teams passing when he is in central midfield- but i know im in the minority!

    Ps. I used to think Barry was the answer but ive changed my mind and think Carrick is the man to solve Englands midfield problems! (again, probably in the minority!)

  • Bakes

    I have to agree with, Matt. Why can’t Carrick even get in a Capello squad? The guy oozes class and is comfortable in posession with a great eye for a pass. I really think he could make England tick. I like Barry but he looks a bit too one paced for England.

    Going back to last night, unfortunately, I cannot make an informed opinion on the game as I had to sit through 90 of the worst minutes I’ve ever witnessed at Upton Park, and there has been a lot to choose from! Hats of to Harry, by the way. He got his tactics spot on and Curbs didn’t have a clue how to change it. Good to see Dean Ashton playing well. I recently thought he may be finished as player as he just couldn’t get fit enough to lose some weight and have a run of games but last night he looked the real deal. Could be a big plus for Capello.

    So we have to endure another Liverpool v Chelsea semi-final, can’t wait. 3rd time lucky for Chelsea perhaps, Rob? I’m not sure how you scousers do it every year but hats off to them. I do feel sorry for the Arsenal and as a nutral, I had hoped they would sneak through.

  • rob pullinger

    nice try mate, glad to brave enough to admit……stev g in my eyes and many more is a liverpool legend, and we have had a few…..yes i agree alot with what you have siad but this one , no chance….agree wit hsome of the scouse names but noe pennant, complete waste of time, trust me his days at anfield are over,

    ps.. as for england,i dont know, i personally wouldnt have lamps, your guess is as good as mine….
    england need to get back to basics, decide team on form, shape, formation not names, players, old opinions… on level playing field……i for one would scrap most of the current team and use the under 21’s aswell, build for the future, have a plan a,b,c, d, time for change,time for another debate….soon!!!!

  • rob pullinger

    there’s one for you lot, ashton, now theres a fresh face, young, pacy…something we need…..perfect foil for rooney???

    ps sorry for the spelling in previous comments, bit of a rush????

  • http://blog.ukfootballfinder.co.uk/?author=14 Teflon

    Ashton struggles with form and fitness, maybe in a year or 2 when he starts bagging.

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