And After A Short Break, We Are Back.

Saturday, August 13, 2005 | 11:50 am

The Gods of soccer work in mysterious ways.

We were dumped out of the Portsmouth league play-offs by a very unfancied side (yes, I got beat by a team called "The Wombats") last Thursday night. Besides our teamwork, more pain was provided by my two cramping calves (which forced me to limp off with 5 minutes to go and giving me a great vantage point to watch them score the winner 3 minutes later), and more bug bites than anytime since I left Australia. If they had not scored, extra time would have been played in near-total darkness, whereby no-one would have been able to see the giant mosquitos carrying players away. I'm still scratching like a leper.

The upside was that escaping a Saturday semi final match provides me with an unfettered couch position for all the dizzying proceedings of the opening week of the English Premier League season. First game off the mark? A 7:30am match between my boys, Man U and Everton. Praise be.

{Ruud and Rooney]Even after a 3am bedtime last night, I launched out of bed like greyhound this morning for the match, and was rewarded by a competent and heartwarming Man U win. A balanced first half saw chances both ways, but the breakthrough came right before halftime with an old school snipe by Ruud, and then 40 seconds into the second half a fullback error gifted Rooney the second. Man U should have capitalized with one or two more, but even without any more goals, they were rarely threatened in the second half.

Best signs for this season:

  • New boy Park Ji Sung looked good on the left and right with some great runs, and excellent passing. Great signing. Could have grabbed a goal also, but not quite there in front of the net yet.
  • Other new acquisition Edwin van der Saar in goal added stability that we sorely needed, and pulled of a great reflex save at 0-0 to stop Aussie Tim Cahill giving Everton the lead.
  • Ruud was much sharper looking.
  • Rooney is just getting better. Unbelievable talent. Smart passes, where last year he might have shot, and better still he showed a much improved temperament.
  • Shane Warne stopped the follow-on (yep, this is cricket. Checking if you are paying attention) and rain halted most of the Day 3 play at Old Trafford. We have had big leads get thwarted by rain before, so I would happily welcome some weather irony to save our arses.
Worst signs for this season:
  • Defense looked a little shaky, especially against Arteta's curling set pieces. Everton got far too many headers on goal.
  • Central midfield took a while to dominate. Not a young midfield either, and most feel our next signing has to be there.
  • Like last year, we looked totally unthreatening from corners. And we get so bloody many.
  • Chelsea spent another £ 52 Million. Their pockets seem to have infinite depth. And depth is their primary advantage this year. I rate Man U's first 11 as able to beat Cheslea, but The Blues have very strong players not even on the bench. God help Wigan tomorrow.
  • I won't be seeing The Man of Cheese every Monday to talk about the weekends fixtures. Sad. Must begin to love IM....

Liverpool have just marched out against Middlesborough. The couch is calling!


At 13/8/05 7:55 pm, Blogger Tom said...

van der Saar looks like just what the doctor ordered back there. The whole back line seemed much more confident.

Keene (sp?) might be about done. It was hard to tell he was on the field. Scholes didn't do much either.

Park did look good. Once he settles he might be a big help.

Where was Renaldo?

There is a reason that the American sports have salary cap. The unrestricted spending is tiresome. With as international as Champions league is though, I don't think that any one of the European leagues could institute one without the others following along, or they'll be disadvantaged.

At 13/8/05 9:54 pm, Blogger Tom said...

As for Liverpool, all they need is Owen :) Their strikers just don't get it done.

At 14/8/05 12:38 pm, Blogger Aussie-Askew said...

Yeah Liverpool have a great backline, but that first game suggested a lot of goals are going to need to come from Gerard (who had all the chances in that game!)

P.S> Ronaldo has a thigh injury. Keane more a defensive midfield presence than any attacking flash (you have to watch carefully, because he passes more than runs). Been that way for a few while now, and this is probably the final year.

At 14/8/05 10:49 pm, Blogger Dave(id) said...

Yehaaa, my first season of being able to watch EPL. Caught the ManU/Everton game, albeit the reshow later in the afternoon, but good stuff, Rooney is a blast to watch and like you said the new guy Park does not stop running, he's that naggin bastard always in your face. Watched the Arsenal/Newcastle game today, entertaining. I need to watch a few more weeks worth before coming up with "my" team. Can't wait for the rest of the season.

At 15/8/05 12:33 am, Blogger Tom said...

Dave, you can't have Liverpool or Man U, and you can only take Chelsea if you are a Yankee fan here. Or tied in to the Russian Mafia.

I'd suggest Arsenal or New Castle.

At 15/8/05 8:14 am, Blogger Aussie-Askew said...

Wigan Dave. Wigan need you.

An old school team to follow? You could consider Tottenham (I mean, their name is 'Hotspurs', if thats not an American Wild West name...) or Aston Villa.

At 15/8/05 11:23 pm, Blogger Tom said...

Dave, for some reason AA hates you.


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