All Things Footie

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All Things Footie | Thursday, May 2 | Jordan

I'm Back!!

Seeing as I've failed to write anything for nearly two weeks there's certainly a lot to get through. I won't bore people with team's of the week from matches they don't remember or discussing incidents from 10 days ago — this will just be an attempt to round up anything interesting that's gone unnoticed, under-discussed or neither.

Firstly the most bizarre stories I've heard this week are inextricably connected. Firstly the resignation of Peter Taylor from Brighton shortly after achieving promotion and that of the series of spats between (also just promoted) West Bromwich Albion's manager Gary Megson and the club's Chairman Paul Thompson. Apparently Megson has the gall to want to decide on which players the club sign! Imagine that! Imagine Arsene Wenger or Alex Ferguson actually deciding to buy a player. Clearly a very naïve manager, he will soon realise that it was in fact David Dein that unearthed Nicolas Anelka and Patrick Vieira, and Peter Kenyon that picked out Juan Veron and Laurent Blanc for Sir Alex.

At least in that case it's been the sharp suited executive that resigned first, leaving Megson free to carry on with the job he's been doing so well until now. For Albion fans it will most certainly come as good news. Quite the opposite has happened at another club in a similar situation. Recently promoted Brighton and Hove Albion have had to accept the tendered resignation of ex-Leicester City ‘manager’ Peter Taylor. Again a disagreement between man responsible for bringing the team success and Chairman.

It's worth mentioning United's failure to make any great impact on their Champions League Semi-Final opponents on Tuesday night. If only because Bayer Levekusen have been a delight to watch in the Champions League this year. Going in to practically every game as underdogs and working tirelessly and skillfully until the final whistle in every game they've played in the competition — the players and manager have done themselves and their fans proud.

Michael Ballack in particular has been immense, there's no denying the significant part that has been played by Oliver Neuville, Diego Placente, Jens Nowotny, Carsten Ramelow, Lucio, Ze Roberto; the list goes on. Here's hoping they go on to make a similar impact on the final against Real Madrid. The Spaniards are some team though, the trio of Figo, Zidane and Raul form one of the most frightening and effective attacking partnerships in Europe and will not be stopped easily. I happen to think (and hope) that Leverkusen will make a fight of it though.

World Beaters?

I have to get on record that I have a sneaky feeling who ‘the star’ of the upcoming World Cup will be… Crespo? Zidane? Vieira? Totti? not even close. I fancy the forgotten man Ronaldo to surprise a few people. A player of his calibre comes along once in a generation, as a natural footballer and centre forward I've seen no-one who can touch his form in '95—'98 during my lifetime. Zidane comes close for natural ability, Raul is edging it but he's just not as brutal (he says whilst watching him break the net from 25 yards). It's just right that after a ruined World Cup campaign in '98 he gets another chance — preferably while he's fit.

On that subject I also fancy Brazil as a team to make an impact, they seem to play their best football when they're not expected to and they're certainly a lot more balanced this year than in 1998. If Ronaldo fails to live up to his ability then Ronaldinho, Emerson (not the Lionel Richie lookalike who enjoyed a spell at Middlesborough), Denilson, Roberto Carlos et al will all be more than happy to show the World what they're capable of.

That said, France really do scream ‘it's all over’ when you look at the squad — they've got world class written through them like a stick of rock. Henry, Trezeguet, Zidane, Vieira, Makelele, Desailly, Thuram, Lizarazu, Gallas… that's not even mentioning the subs and those bubbling under. It's likely someone will pay £20m+ for Djibril Cisse in the Summer and barring an injury to the regular forwards he'll do well to make the bench.

A Final Note

Just to wish the best of luck to both teams in Cardiff this Saturday, may the best team (Arsenal) win. They'll take some stopping if Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira and Ljungberg play to their full potential. Arsenal's back four will take some beating too with Sol Campbell back to fitness and both Adams and Keown playing out of their skins.

It's easy (and dangerous) to forget Chelsea's strength in attack and defence too, William Gallas has developed into one of the best centre halves I've seen this year and that's not forgetting John Terry and Marcel Desailly — both class acts. At the sharp end Hasselbaink and Gudjonsen are up there with the best and in Gronkjær they've got a player who can cause all kinds of bother out wide. I have to say though that Chelsea's real deficiency this season has been in midfield, Petit, Lampard and Stanic are just not good enough to get them into the Champions League or win them the FA Cup.

Please God, let me be right.

P.S. Have you voted in the all this footie awards yet?

P.P.S. I've just read the funniest quote I've heard in a while. Arsene Wenger responding to Alex Ferguson's claims that — despite Arsenal having the most points, the best home and away record in the country, reaching the FA Cup Final and a goal difference only 2 inferior to United — that the best team in England still come from Manchester…

“Everyone thinks he has the prettiest wife at home.”

Touché Monsier!

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