Posts Tagged ‘rafa benitez’
There seem to be a lot of substandard young foreign players at Liverpool this season. But it’s fair to say that they’ve established a tradition over the last decade of bringing through players from abroad that are very obviously not of the requisite quality. It’s been a long legion of gawky teenagers who look more like confused exchange students than Premiership starlets. Biscan, Le Tallec, Sinama-Pongolle, Nunez are names that provide a small sample of the register.
Lucas Leiva is the flagbearer of the current vanguard, the pin-up boy of a thousand dartboards across Merseyside. He appears to have no discernible talents, except that he is quite good at kicking things. His reputation seems entirely built on his previous job as captain of the Brazilian Under-20 side, although I speculate that that fact may have been falsely added to Lucas’ CV when he sent it off to Rafa Benitez. We’ve all done it.
Lucas actually bears a suspicious similarity to Craig Bellamy. Which leads me to think that he isn’t Brazilian at all, but just a chancer from the Valleys with a forged Brazilian passport. I think John Toshack should be told.
This isn’t the most flattering photo of Rafa Benitez I’ve ever seen. I know he doesn’t really rate up there with Enrique Iglesias in the hunky Spaniards league but it looks like he’s sneezing razor blades. Either that or his body has been used as a husk by an evil alien bug thing like Vincent D’Onofrio in Men in Black. In reality he is most probably on the cusp of unleashing an impressive Hispanic “shit”. Which is fair enough: it seems to sum up Liverpool’s performance last night.
It’s coming to that time of year when one of those metaphorical gap-toothed ratty-tached fairground folk cranks up his engine and the transfer merry-go-round whirrs into dizzying life again.
It should gather pace in quick order: there is no international tournament to delay proceedings. Managers like to mooch and browse around the summer finals searching for a bargain like a schoolgirl choosing bangles in Top Shop. They should heed the caveat that a player’s form over handful of games in July for his country is not representative of his actual talents. Particularly if one of those fixtures is against England, who have the unhappy knack of making crap look like Cruyff.
Hence the questionable skills of the likes of Stephane Guivarc’h, Salif Diao and Karel Poborsky were hired to dilute the quality of the Premiership (although in fairness to Poborsky he proved his class in later spells with Benfica and Lazio).
So what can we expect from this summer’s activity? In most years, managers gather around the relegated teams to see what titbits they can scavenge. A bit like when the tramps fall upon the black bags on the pavement outside Pret A Manger to dine on their discarded sandwiches. This season that analogy probably does poor service to Pret’s estimable baguettes: there are slim pickings on offer from Newcastle, Middlesbrough and West Brom. It’s largely Benjis fare. With the odd exception: Stewart Downing probably, Obafemi Martins potentially, and David Wheater certainly. He’s apparently attracting covetous glances from Rafa Benitez.
It would come as no surprise to me to see a yellow Robin Reliant parked down White Hart Lane as football’s very own Derek Trotter, Harry Redknapp peddles his wares and puts his own mark on the Tottenham squad. In fact a lot of chairmen will be reaching their hands down the backs of their sofas to see if they can find some forgotten asset on the substitute bench or the reserve squad that they can cash in on. By selling it to Wolves.
Another modern trend in football is the long-running transfer saga, the developments of which are played out ad nauseam in the papers and websites until the football community unite in their boredom and nod off. So we’ll have to endure the ongoing soap operas surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Barry and new and exclusive this season, Carlos Tevez. Intriguingly Tevez is another linked with a move to Anfield. The big four in this England tend not to share their prized possessions, jealously guarding them from their rivals (unlike in Italy where the top clubs swap their stars like Panini stickers). This embargo is most strictly imposed between Manchester United and Liverpool. A player has not been directly transferred between the two teams since 1964. It was Phil Chisnall in case you ask.
Of course Tevez doesn’t technically belong to United. He’s the possession of a shady Iranian businessman who is reputed to have links with South American drugs-running and arms-trading. But that’s an entirely different saga. A whole new merry-go-round.
So Colin Montgomerie is seeking the counsel of Sir Alex Ferguson in preparation for his leadership of the 2010 Ryder Cup team. The prospect of Monty assuming Fergusonian management techniques in South Wales is a fascinating one. One wonders how much of Sir Alex’s advice the portly Scot will take to heart, but there are several intriguing scenarios:
1. The referees
John Paramore, you have been warned: there are no technical areas on the fairways. There is no fourth official to divert the wrath of Colin against the chief referee of the European tour and his hardy crew of officials. If Ferguson’s vituperative attitude towards the ref is replicated by Montgomerie on the golf course then we could find ourselves in an unpleasant situation. A red-faced Monty, jabbing an accusing finger into a disbelieving referee, while being forcibly restrained by a couple of stewards. All for a minor disagreement over the invocation of rule 18-6 (ball at rest moved in measuring).
And think of the final fourballs on the Saturday afternoon. Donald rolls in a four-footer at the last to halve his match with Casey against Mickelson and Kim. Handshakes all round and off to the bar. But no. In front of a baying crowd, Monty is pointing at his watch, eyeing down the referee. And we’re back off to the first tee to see if we can get Europe that point.
2. The Americans
Sir Alex is notorious for winding up his opponents with his wily mind games. Wenger, Mourinho, most recently Benitez and most hilariously little Kevin Keegan.
Monty’s opposite number Corey Pavin is a character who will not shrink away from a scrap. This a man who donned a Desert Storm army cap during ‘The War on the Shore’ Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island in 1991. What a prick.
So let’s hope that Montgomerie can get under Pavin’s skin, maybe by questioning the professionalism of some of his American team: “When you do things like that about a man like Jim Furyk, I tell you what, I would LOVE it if we beat them in September”.
In truth Monty has form in this particular regard: maybe he could teach Ferguson a thing or two. He suggested that Brad Faxon may not be at the peak of his mental game in the run up to the 1997 Ryder Cup because he was in the middle of sticky divorce proceedings. It didn’t go down too well over the pond.
3. The Europeans
So Justin Rose takes Rory McIroy out for a night in downtown Newport the week before festivities: booze, drugs, strippers, a half-arsed orgy back at the hotel suite. Cue Monty. He is furious. The curly whippersnapper is hauled out by his ear and Rose is dropped from the team, banished to an South American satellite tour. Only to resurface on Celebrity Love Island reluctantly cavorting with Abi Titmuss.
And woe betide anyone who should three-stab on the 17th green to hand the Americans a vital point. Because Monty will be aiming a size 11 Footjoy straight for your forehead. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for the telltale studmarks on Robert Karlsson’s large Swedish noggin.
4. The press
And more particularly the BBC. Ferguson’s relationship with the Beeb disintegrated into nothing following a documentary shown on the channel about his son Jason. So what can we expect if Sir Alex’s mistrust has polluted the Monty view?
A vice-captain, lets say Paul Broadhurst, is pushed forward to take all press conferencs? A broadside is aimed at Peter Alliss, the commentator dismissed as “arrogant beyond belief”? Or even a shove in Hazel Irvine’s face as she proffers a hopeful microphone?
We can but dream…