The funniest man in the Premier League was at it again, this time following his late equalizer at Eastlands against Man City. Jimmy Bullard celebrated the goal by recreating Phil Brown’s infamous halftime team talk at City last season. Brown was a good sport about it, claiming he was unable to deliver today’s final talk as he was laughing too much.
For any player who’s made it far enough to be playing in a major league, it’s a dream to represent his country in the world’s biggest tournament. Every so often a player rejects his motherland or claims not to be bothered about missing the World Cup, but let me tell you, they’re lying. That or they’re probably not worth watching in the first place. So from here on out, with his country assured a shot at history in South Africa, each player takes the field not only for domestic glory but in hopes of winning a slot in the national squad come WC time. This season is essentially a ‘contract year,’ if you’re more comfortable with ESPN-speak. I’m not. I much prefer to look at Jermain Defoe’s 5 goals against Wigan yesterday and take comfort in the fact that the only tough decision Fabio Capello will have to make about Defoe is whether to start him with Rooney or leave him on the bench in South Africa.
Blondes or brunettes? Crouch or Owen?
But the joy of Jermain Defoe when he’s announced by the FA will inevitably be equaled by the despair of another English striker, one probably named Peter or Michael. And in 31 other countries, similar difficult cuts will yield broken football hearts come June. But for players in the fringe, they still have a few months to make it impossible for their national manager to refuse them. There’s still time, still games to be played. Play some individual blinders and go the the World Cup. End of.
But for some players, 50 goals a game won’t be enough to get them to South Africa now. With their parent countries knocked out in qualifying, be it by handball or massacre, they have no choice but to watch 2010 from the telly. It’s the bitter sensation of exclusion that makes the World Cup the sweetest victory of all. Still, I can’t help thinking of a few more players that ought to be in the World Cup. That deserve to be there. So while we’re enjoying the cornucopia of skill and passion which is the WC, spare a brief thought for the following ten players that are no more or less than fellow spectators.
Just in case you missed this yesterday, you probably should know that your favorite players are massaging themselves with “horse placenta” lotion. Robin Van Persie, Yossi Benayoun, and Albert Riera are the latest to seek treatment in Belgrade with physiotherapist Mariana Kovacevic. Kovacevic is known for her radical treatment involving said lotion, and many players hail her as a miracle worker.
Apparently the secret of the placenta is that it’s rich in stem cells. Smells like a controversy waiting to happen.
…Just robbed Ireland of a place in World Cup 2010. Or at least a chance in penalties. Thierry Henry later admitted guilt but stated that he believes it’s up to the referee to call him out on any wrongdoing. Cunning competitor or sneaky cheater?
I’m looking forward to the fireworks to come tomorrow morning. I’m also making a list of the players who WC2010 will miss the most, expect that to come in the next few days.
Journalistic law prevents me from titling more than one recap as “Battle of the Bridge,” so I decided to go with the incident I found most interesting in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat of Manchester United today. At the time it was shocking decision and I was already making preparations to describe how Chelsea had been robbed, but through some sense of football justice the home side immediately took a lead which they never relinquished. Of course I’m referring to Martin Atkinson’s booking of Didier Drogba when he should’ve been awarded a penalty.
I know, it feels wrong typing those words. That’s why the point is all the more contentious. At nil-nil in the 71st, Drogba and Jonny Evans clashed in the box battling for a long through pass. The Ivorian went to the ground writhing in pain, only to have a yellow card awaiting him after treatment. The replay showed Evans clearly kung fu kicking him in the abdomen (perhaps an homage to the ‘Cantona’ signs brought by the away fans?). You’d have to believe any other player gets the stonewall penalty, but Drogba’s reputation could’ve cost his side the match. The playacting and constant diving from the enigmatic striker makes it easy to doubt any of his tumbles to the ground.
Five minutes later, John Terry headed home the winner. The penalty claim became meaningless, but the question remains. Will Drogba’s readiness to go to ground help or hurt his team more down the line? If you’re into subplots, this is a good one for you at home to keep score.
Timeout #1: [When did playing four central midfielders instead of with wingers become the formation du jour? I thought the reemergence of the winger was supposed to be the future?]
Terry’s winner also typified the Chelsea defense for me. Captain fantastic has made it a habit of chipping in with big goals, much to the delight of the Shed faithful. Ashley Cole created the freekick with explosive wing play. Ricardo Carvalho put in a quiet put impressive display in the back. Carvalho was probably my man of the match, his last ditch blocks and positional play an example to young defenders everywhere. It also made me realize how fast fortunes change in this game. About a year ago everyone was ready to resign him to the bench for Alex, while Vidic and Ferdinand garnered the country’s praise. Now it’s Ferdinand who can seem to do nothing right, and Vidic’s stagnant goal tally has seen his stock depreciate somewhat. If I were Patrice Evra, I’d look at Gabriel Heinze and start to worry.
Timeout #2: [There was a man who looked exactly like the Dave Chapelle character 'Tron' sitting right behind the 4th official. He was brushing his teeth.... Just watch the video]
Back on the pitch, tempers flared as the hour grew late, and it made for a compelling watch as a neutral. (I don’t believe in rooting for injuries, but I’m not above hoping for some red cards). It was actually a bit surprising to see each team finish with 11 players. And when it was all over, Chelsea cemented their status atop the Premier League. Based on the first third of the season, the Londoners already look like formidable and worthy leaders.
Now a lot of people ask me who I prefer between Chelsea and Manchester United, and being a Liverpool supporter I usually think of some clever burn on the spot. But the truth is, it’s hard to pick between the two. Chelsea is like the soulless, vapid, mega-rich hot girl that you know. Phenomenal body and style, but you sort of wonder how attractive she’d be without the expensive clothes, makeup, car and everything else her daddy furnishes. And while it’s fun to hang out with her because her parties are always the ones to be at, you know deep down she has no personality apart from the image she projects.
United is more like the conniving, status quo popular girl. It’s Regina George, if you subscribe to the Bible of Mean Girls. She’s used to getting what she wants and maintains her status through bullying (looking at you, Fergie). Fun to date for awhile because you too get your way and people look at you like a king because you’re with her, but you know it’s more fear than admiration. You can’t say she lacks character, but it’s the sense of entitlement that ultimately turns you away.
So, while I really don’t have much love for either club, I won’t deny good form when I see it. (Insert your own joke about silently watching a lot of Liverpool games lately). And so far it’s Chelsea that deserves my praise. Well done, Chelsea. Maybe you can invite Rafa to one of your parties sometime soon.
Not anymore! Check out number 15 for New Mexico, Elizabeth Lambert, in this playoff match versus BYU. That is one serious mentalist. Of course, I’d probably be pretty angry too if I grew up in Lancaster.
I don’t know if Marco Materazzi is single, but we may have found his soulmate.