Posted by hiphopmama on August 27, 2009
I’m not going into any detail on this, but what the hell is going on at Real Madrid right now? I celebrated when they paid top dollar for Kaka. I didn’t blink when they spent untold millions on the Coiffed One. And nary an eye was batted when supplies were further exhausted to bring in Xabi Alonso. All good players, mind you, but not too subtle or nuanced a transfer policy, don’t you think? Understandably, they were always going to have to trim some fat from a squad that was already overlarge, and credit where it’s due, they axed the first and foremost on my list, Gabriel Heinze, early on. Michel Salgado was – rather unceremoniously, in my opinion – let go despite his years of service. Makes sense, they’re both aging defenders with little role to play in the new-look squad. Huntelaar eventually made his exit as well, making his way to Milan after some good finagling. Fine, they do have a glut of strikers at this point, so someone was going to be on the outs.
Things had appeared to slow down for a while, and then BOOM – Alvaro Negredo is gone, sold to Sevilla. Yes, they have a good buy-back clause on him, but why sell him in the first place? He did brilliantly with Almeria and looked poised to help spearhead Real’s front line, for a long while into the future, yet they let him go. Ushered him out the door, more like it. Ta-ta to another canterano. Transfer speculation appeared to slow after that, with Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder looking likely to stay put. And now, what do we hear? Robben will find himself at Bayern Munich for the upcoming season, and Sneijder is to land at Inter Milan. This after I had convinced myself of their importance to the squad for this transitional year, while the new players find their way into the fold. They added the kind of depth crucial to any team hoping to contend in multiple competitions over the course of a long season. And besides that, Robben was the team’s most dangerous creative player in the games played so far with the new group, changing the landscape of the game when substituted for CRon and clicking with teammates far better than Pretty Boy did. I just don’t understand it. These are the kind of moves that will derail Real’s title hopes, especially when you consider Barça are returning essentially their whole team after winning the triplete with another year of chemistry under their belts. Until this, I thought they had a decent (if outside) chance to unseat the champions. But now, I must agree that Barcelona look all but assured to win it again. And all so Real can sign another unnecessary and overpriced superstar A YEAR FROM NOW. Ribery may be an excellent player, but he is far from an essential ingredient, and I don’t believe he is worth weakening the current squad for. Oh well, I guess. Who knows better – Florentino or me? Let’s just hope that quarter of a billion proves its worth, and soon. There will be no grace period, at least not anymore.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: alvaro negredo, barcelona, bayern munich, cristiano ronaldo, florentino perez, franck ribery, gabriel heinze, huntelaar, inter, kaka, michel salgado, primera liga, real madrid, robben, wesley sneijder, xabi alonso | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on August 19, 2009
Burnley 1-0 Manchester United
1-0 Blake, 19′
This one was sweet. I’ve been waiting upward of three years for someone other than Manchester United to hoist the Premier League trophy, and it seems this may finally be my year. He would never admit it, but Sir Alex appears to have thrown in the towel on the season already, accepting the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez with little more than a whimper of protest and little done to remedy the squad depletion it caused. Michael Owen? Okay, that’s cute and all, but no one, least of all Sir Alex, expects him to fill the boots of CR7 or Tevez. And with the team’s cadre of veterans racking up another year on those old bodies, you have to wonder how players like Giggs, Scholes, and Neville will hold up over a long, grueling season without a player like Ronaldo to lean on during dry spells.
All these weaknesses and more were on display in their match against Premier League newcomers Burnley, whose hometown population apparently would fit inside of Old Trafford in its entirety, according to the game announcers. That is a nice bit of perspective for the upset they pulled off, as is the fact that they hadn’t won a game in top-flight football in 33 years. Robbie Blake’s lovely volley gave Burnley the only lead they would need inside of 20 minutes, but goalkeeper Brian Jensen had just as crucial a role to play in the victory. His stop on Michael Carrick’s penalty just before halftime buoyed the team and gave them the will to hold on by their fingernails to the slim margin and keep ManU off the scoresheet. He made a few more key saves, and his defense scurried around just enough to put United off their rhythm, so that even the substitution of Berbatov and Valencia did nothing to change the outcome.
While it’s not quite as satisfying watching ManU (potentially) fall off their perch with such a weakened squad, you won’t hear any complaints – or sympathy – from me. If either of my London teams can step in to fill the void, I will be doubly happy, but even if the title goes elsewhere I will still be grateful to Florentino Perez and Kia Joorabchian for helping break up the dynastic unit and let in some sunshine at the top.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: antonio valencia, berbatov, brian jensen, burnley, carlos tevez, cristiano ronaldo, epl, florentino perez, gary neville, kia joorabchian, manchester united, michael carrick, michael owen, paul scholes, robbie blake, ryan giggs, sir alex ferguson | 1 Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on June 11, 2009
So it’s (semi-) official. Cristiano Ronaldo is the next in line for the galactico parade currently making its way to the Bernabeu. Both team’s official websites have confirmed that Real Madrid have offered an “unconditional” €93.9M bid for CRon. This comes on the heels of the team’s announcement of Kaka as its latest signee from AC Milan, all of which means that Real have splashed out €163M on TWO PLAYERS over the last week. Geesh. As a fan of Los Blancos, it’s titillating to watch the superstars pour in, but as a pragmatist I have to ask what they’re thinking. I understand they technically play different positions, but with just one of those guys they have a world class playmaker at their disposal and I can’t help but think they’d be better off investing that kind of cash on multiple role players to fill all the gaps in the squad. Like, you know, at all those defensive positions they need to shore up. Cannavaro is gone, Marcelo has been revealed as a project at right back, and the left back position is still wide open. With €93.9M they could have easily slotted a few high quality players into those spots. Everyone saw what happened when they focused too heavily on offense at the expense of the dirty work defenders (count the trophies after Makelele left), so let’s hope the next galactico era ends differently.
Furthermore, it’s also being reported that the close of the David Villa deal is fast approaching as well, as Chelsea have gotten the rebuff from the Spanish international who has no desire to leave La Liga. Chalk another one up…
Posted in soccer | Tagged: cristiano ronaldo, david villa, epl, florentino perez, kaka, primera liga, real madrid, transfers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on June 5, 2009
More news on the Real Madrid transfer front, of the tentative nature, of course. With Kaká set to make his decision at the end of international duty on Monday, Florentino Perez & co. are swirling like vultures around Valencia’s prized pickings, David Silva and David Villa. Agents for Silva, Valencia, and Real Madrid linked up yesterday to discuss a possible move, and Silva himself has said it is “flattering” to be courted by the Spanish giants. The price range seems to be between 20-30M€. David Villa’s price tag is considerably higher, closer to 40M€, although he is being courted by multiple clubs, including Chelsea. In a somewhat older story, Chelsea and Madrid may be competing on another front for the services of Inter’s right back Maicon. This one is beyond even the “tentative” status of the other Real targets mentioned, but it’s yet another log on the fire. And speaking of jockeying between Chelsea and Real, Florentino went on record recently stating that Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery is on Madrid’s wish list. Chelsea are reported to have already made an offer for the French winger, but the wrench in the gears is Ribery’s former international teammate Zidane, who is on board with Real and has been discussing the possible move with him. Roman Abramovich must be getting tired of being thwarted by these guys. I’m curious to see who will win out on all these fronts, although it seems a fairly easy bet that Real with have the first go at everybody. Gotta love transfer season.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: chelsea, david silva, david villa, florentino perez, franck ribery, maicon, real madrid, roman abramovich, zidane | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hiphopmama on June 3, 2009
The news – and by “news” I mean unverified, overhyped media gossip – coming out of Spain is that Real Madrid’s bid for Kaká is all but finished, and they will be announcing the Brazilian as their newest addition when he finishes his time with the Brazilian national team next week. This comes on the heels of Florentino Perez’s ascension to the Real Madrid presidency and the introduction of Manuel Pellegrini as the new manager of the club. The rumor mill was working overtime just a day or two ago with the news (there’s that word again) that Chelsea had swooped in with a ginormous bid and last-ditch attempt to steal Kaká from under Real’s nose. That line of reasoning appears to be going nowhere, though, as Chelsea’s official website has disavowed any offer being made for Kaká. Not that that necessarily means anything, but I don’t think anyone really sees Kaká playing anywhere other than Madrid next season, despite the fact that former AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti will be at the helm of the Stamford Bridge club.
Meanwhile, the tabloids run amok with the supposed battle between David Villa and Diego Forlan as the team’s big-name striker signing for the off-season. I tend to agree with the folks at SFS, though, in that the whole thing is likely a diversionary tactic attempting to lower Villa’s asking price for a transfer away from bankrupt Valencia. And, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo is still on the horizon, whether for this season or next, and Real are sure to play the situation all wrong but still win out in the end despite their mishandling. Never a dull moment as a fan of this team.
I must admit that, as a relatively new (and fairly reluctant) recruit to the Real Madrid bandwagon, this whole mess is exciting, to say the least. After a disappointing season, the prospect of landing all these top-tier signings is jizz-in-your-pants material. Yet I can’t help but ask, how did the whole Galáctico tactic work last time? I seem to remember that it didn’t fare nearly as well as it is being viewed in hindsight and left the team riddled with problems – particularly an over-reliance on offensive stars to the detriment of the team’s back line – that it is still coping with. Claude Makelele, anyone? Let’s just hope that they can do some course correction and get it right the second time around. Otherwise, I don’t see them breaking their five season-long streak of bombing out of the Champions League in the Round of 16. Oh, and there’s still Barcelona hanging around La Liga and not looking to get any weaker, with or without Samuel Eto’o. Happy hunting, Florentino. I’m rooting for you, albeit sheepishly and only from the shadows.
Posted in soccer | Tagged: barcelona, cristiano ronaldo, david villa, diego forlan, florentino perez, kaka, manuel pellegrini, primera liga, real madrid, samuel eto'o | Leave a Comment »