So this wasn’t the best of weekends. We’ve argued about whose fault it was the wheels came off at Crystal Palace endlessly, but I noticed some things that I decided to share. Why? Blame boredom, or generation Y narcissism… whatever makes sense for you.
To start, any talk of Premier League title being gone is hogwash. Maybe it’s trying to be realistic but it smacks of rather than risk getting one’s hopes dashed maybe it’s better to never have hoped at all. We’re fans, if we can’t be optimistic with sports then what can we be with?
Oh what’s that you say? I’m being too optimistic? It’s still March as I’m typing this. On the 8th of April 2012, Manchester City had 71 points after 32 games. Manchester United had 79 points after 32 games. As harsh as I was on Mancini, going back to news articles then, when asked if the title race was over, Mancini answered in football nothing’s ever finished and they could still win it. I don’t need to remind you who won the title that season.
Of course it’ll be difficult, but the word difficult is not interchangeable with impossible.
If we’re a little horse, then Liverpool are a fetus in comparison. All the whining from the likes of Arsenal and Spurs about how they cannot compete with the big bucks and it takes a second season for Brendan Rodgers to be legitimate title contenders with the likes of Henderson, Flanagan, Sterling, Toure, Johnson and Joe Allen. That man has made his players believe what would’ve been mocked at just a few months ago. I can name five Premier league teams with a better squad than Liverpool’s. But does Liverpool look like they care? Nope. They have a philosophy of attack and they stick by it. Now I’m more of a build-from-the-back believer, but when it works what can I say? I don’t care what the rest of the season brings, give him manager of the year today. I still think their defensive issues will cause a couple of bumps in the end and they will stumble before the end. With more players bought this summer, I think next season they can hit the ground running.
Watching Spurs trying to play Liverpool with the midfield they started is a bit like trying to hit on Kristen Bell while being… me, I guess. Failure guaranteed, why did you even bother?
All comebacks have the element of the victory seemingly drifted away at some time; that is necessary by definition. Even if in the end we don’t reach the height of being first, then it wouldn’t be because we faltered and gave up.
If we don’t have the mentality to fight on the next six Premier League games like everything depends on it, regardless of what our competitors are achieving, then forget this season. We wouldn’t have the mentality to win anything next season. Either pressure motivates us or breaks us. I thought the whole point of getting Mourinho was to get the winning mentality. His first stint with us drilled us with it that when he left we still kept the never-say-die attitude all the way to Munich. Now we’re writing off the season to Liverpool when if we beat them at Anfield we’d be above them so long as we don’t mess up again?
Moving on, I believe the social narrative is that you’ve properly moved on from an ex when you can wish the best for them sincerely. Well, those of you who remember a few of my depressed posts in the end of January (or just read my name and guessed), I’m talking about Juan "God I miss you" Mata. Ah his exit hit me harder than any other. I can’t recall us selling a player I Ioved in such a point of his career in the 17 years I’ve been a fan.
At first I was mad, mad at Mourinho, mad at Chelsea for allowing Mourinho this sacrilege of selling the Bearded One, and mad at Mata for abandoning us when he faced difficulty the first time. I didn’t want him to succeed for Man United, and wanted to say "I told you so" when we had the inevitable struggles without his majestic passing.
On Saturday, though, for the first time I didn’t feel the pangs of sadness seeing his Magnificence wearing the vile red shirt of the north-westerners. I enjoyed seeing him move about, and didn’t groan out a "I miss you, Juanito" once during the game (which I assure you was out of the ordinary). And when he scored, I felt pleased for him. In fact, I’ve already found another in blue who’s caught my eye and am wondering if "Hazardous Azpi" has a ring to it.
I guessed I’ve moved on emotionally from his sale. Obviously I can still think about it rationally, and do have my reservations. But it’s not with the dismay that Snape must’ve felt when once again, he was not given the post of teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts.
Going to the next topic, Arsenal finally decide to display a backbone and grabbed the draw with Man City. I thought that was as likely as me ever drinking tomato juice again (one sip and have never tried again. Quite possibly the most disgusting taste my mouth has experienced). But the headless chickens seemed to find their heads, or more like a replica of one, and grabbed a point. This is good for us, very, very good. You know it’s just about April when Arsenal drawing at home is cause for celebration for them. Don’t forget, the party for the fourth place trophy is in May.
Chelsea peeve of the week: Hazard. Well not him, but about him. I thought the most pointless thing I’d see this weekend was our sad attempts to attack, but I happened to watch Fast & Furious 6 which had so much flash they seemed to think they didn’t need to flesh out a story (to be fair there was Gina Carano, who can do no wrong in my eyes, and heart… And that tank was huge! I mean even Vin Diesel looked tiny compared to Dwayne Johnson. Considering my body physique up until a year or two ago could’ve be roughly described as an African Peter Crouch, for the first time I felt a bit self-conscious while watching a movie) Hang on, hang on, I’m getting to my point. What was it?
Oh yeah, Hazard. This endless talk about him emulating Messi or Ronaldo is getting irritating. You know a player hasn’t made it when people are still calling them the "next" somebody. An impression seems to have arisen think Hazard is too much flash and has to knuckle down and imitate these goalscoring machine terminators in Messi or Ronaldo to somehow ‘make it’. Almost as if he never bothered to raise himself to play seriously and shoot to score, where Hazard’s carefree creativeness stifles his efficiency somehow. When did we have to accept the idea that Hazard had to be a goalscorer? We’ve forgotten the Iniestas, the Riberys of the world.
Instead I ask why can’t Hazard look to Ronaldinho for inspiration instead? Hazard has a carefree attitude, and I reject the premise he has to become fixated on the itty bitty details to become a great. Ronaldinho danced merrily around the pitch, with a grin on his face. Or better yet, just let him work hard and be the best he can be. Go on Hazard, be you. You’ll know he’s made it when some other kid comes by and is called the "next Hazard" or more accurately the "next Eden Hazard" as it seems apparent the Hazard clan of Belgium all are footballers and the Belgium 2024 Euro squad will be competed with a first 11 team full of Hazards, with Courtois in goal (still on loan to Atletico).
I say Hazard needs to improve consistency, and remain a winger. Sure, get some goals if he can but it is not be the end all of his performances. Iniesta has never scored more than 10 goals in a season for his club. Robben and Ribery have scored 20+ goals only once each in their club careers and in last season where they won the treble they had 13 and 11 goals, respectively. Hazard has scored 16 goals this season. I know the Bayern duo have played fewer games but the point still stands (all stats robbed from wiki). Hazard does not have to become a pure goalscorer of 40-60 goals to be considered great.
(Btw, don’t pity my movie choices this weekend. Also watched Frozen and have that "Let it go" stuck in my head, which is a nice tune from Adele Dazeem. Doesn’t help that I’m humming it endlessly, I guess)
Thinking aloud thought: Remember the 2008 recession, where bankers were accused of selling complete crap and packaging it as decent buys? Are any of them looking for a job? I wonder if they can be hired to find a way to sell Torres this summer. I swear that man is the Smallville of football players; you get fooled in the beginning of every year that this year it’ll be different and good, but you get sucker punched with the mediocrity and incompetence.
European thoughts: Only caught the Atletico game, but with everyone saying imagine Atletico wins the league, I’ll ask imagine Barcelona wins it? They’d have won it every year from 2008-09 season all the way to this, and the only year they didn’t win it would be under… Guardiola. Even last year they won it with tied most wins and points in La Liga history under Vilanova.
I mean compare that to Mata’s new club, who have descended down so deep post-Ferguson it’s shocking. I mean, Fergie’s barely out the door and Liverpool’s already attempting to hop back on their "fucking perch" with some success. Manchester United fans were in the difficult position of cheering us on for most of the season so as to not watch Manchester City win the league. Now they’re in a worse position when they are cheering on Manchester City so as not see Liverpool win. Football, bloody hell.
Are Barca just going on about their business, or were the criticism of Guardiola that anyone could win with such riches of player talent fairer than realized? Then again, the current best team in Europe and the quickest champions of the Bundesliga are coached by… oh him too. But to counter that they won the treble last season without him. Maybe Guardiola won’t get the naysayer’s respect unless he manages a club like Crystal Palace and defeats the top of the league team that also happens to be a city rival… my head hurts.
Random ex-Chelsea manager of the week: Ancelotti, the man with the eyebrows. From top of the league down to 3rd in one week, losing to Barcelona and Sevilla, (they did win this weekend) and already Real have gone from joint Champions League favourites with Bayern to a team that apparently can’t win the big games.
I mean, gosh, imagine us last week being considered title favourites to being written off this weekend…