Posts Tagged ‘Rijkaard’

Blast From The Past – Paolo Maldini


A new feature for the inevitable slow news days that will come over the summer. It’s pretty simple really – pick a great player from the past, find a decent youtube compilation, reminisce at how great they were. It wouldn’t normally be a player who has only just retired but then Paolo Maldini wasn’t just a normal player and he seems like a good place to start off. 25 years, one club, seven league titles, five European cups (plus three losing finals), all with model good looks to boot.

A record number of appearances for Milan and Italy, plus he played in four World Cups. He sadly never won an international honour, losing a World Cup final in 1994 and a European Championship final in 2000 (it seems a bit wrong that Marco Materazzi has won a World Cup but he hasn’t) but with Milan he won it all. His career has been legendary and for me he was the best left back ever.






Update: At the request of one of our readers, here are a few more in depth tributes to the great man. One, two, and of course three.

The Six Pointer: Europe-Wide Edition – Manc-heda Strikes Again, Fat Sam’s Samba Football & more…


That was the weekend that was.


1. The title race – Liverpool make mincemeat of Blackburn in the early kick off beating them 4-0. This is surely the only time we will see Fat Sam let Samba inspire his side’s attacking prowess… oh yeah, and Chris Samba won’t be playing up front for them again. Poor puns aside, Blackburn were awful. Liverpool didn’t even need to call on Gerrard who rested on the bench, and the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster saw Anfield basked in sunshine. Fernando Torres scored two, including an awesome first from a route one Carragher pass.

Are you SERIOUS?

Are you SERIOUS?

So, the focus then turned to Man Utd and Chelsea for the 3pm kick offs. To the detriment of my fantasy football team (and chances of catching the Football Guy), Fergie decided to start with Cristiano on the bench and risked playing G Nevs again, who is about as useful as a crack addict with a bum fluff moustache. Scholes opened for United with a rare header but the inevitable Sunderland goal came through Kenwyne Jones. On came C-Ron to save United’s blushes but instead it was another substitute that did the business… yes him, the Italian that looks about 25 and disturbingly models himself on Cristiano – none other than Kiko Manc-eda. This one wasn’t as scintillating as his winner last week against Villa but it was the tonic that Fergie’s faltering side needed.

Meanwhile, at the Bridge Chelsea eased into a 4 goal lead against Bolton, with the inevitable Lampard goal (which Sportboy T failed miserably to jinx, much to the joy of the Football Guy) and Snoop Drog double. Hiddink then proceeded to understandably substitute the aforementioned duo, saving them for Liverpool’s trip to the Bridge on Tuesday. However, this seemed simply to send out the message to the rest of the Chelsea team that the match was over. Bolton, who seem to have turned into something of a goal machine in the second half of this season, duly took up the challenge and proceeded to score three in eight minutes, leaving a nervy finish in front of the Chelsea faithful.

"I said C-Ron and a mobile phone, not five blondes!"

"I said C-Ron and a mobile phone, not five blondes!"


2. The race for fourth place – A tale of two halves and a lucky red card escape for the Gunners. Having decided to watch this one on Arab TV in a sweaty pub full of yobs, I hoped we would see a confident performance, even if the Arsenal defence was depleted. What I got was an awful first 50 minutes in which I had to bear with Mido scoring (and very nearly two at that). To make matters worse, Gibbs should have been sent off as he brought down Valencia as the last man. Instead he got away with it and the penny dropped with Wenger that changes needed to be made. On came Adebayor and Van Persie allowing Cesc to drop into a much more effective deeper role. Arshavin’s persistence paid off as Walcott was played in for the equaliser. The Gunners played some sweet stuff, topped off by a goal from my beloved Arshavin and a sexy finish from Song. That left Aston Villa and Everton to fight it out on the Sunday to see which team could give Arsenal a run for their Champions League money.

Villa played out a thriller against United last week and didn’t fail to deliver against Everton at Villa Park. Although Martin O’Neill’s side allowed Everton to steam into a 3-1 lead, a James Milner peach of a free kick and a dodgy penalty decision against Joleon Lescott allowed Villa to snatch a point that keeps them ahead of Everton but eight behind Arsenal. Despite the Gunners’ remaining matches against Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool, I think the fourth spot has now been sealed. Villa have a slightly easier run in than Everton but it should be an interesting battle. Kudos must go to David Moyes who has assembled a good side packed with battlers, creators and goal scorers. Fellaini seems to be excelling in his advanced role behind a rejuvenated Jo.


3. Spirits raised in the North-East… slightly.

After Southgate called it a must-win game, Boro’s 3-1 defeat of Hull will certainly give them some belief that they can avoid relegation. Unfortunately for them, they remain in the zone, two points off Sunderland and behind Newcastle on goal difference.

As for the Magpies, a 1-1 draw against Stoke must constitute a well-earned and highly valued point for Shearer. It must have been the training bikes on the pitch at half time. Or perhaps it was the ability to withstand Rory Delap’s launches into the box, enabling Newcastle’s own Geordie brute, Andy Carroll, to steal the point. It will still be the home games that decide whether Big Al manages to stick a big two fingers at all the doubters out there. Please Al, anything to see you finish your BBC career… please.

Big Al gets to grips with the job of keeping New'astle up

Big Al gets to grips with the job of keeping Newcastle up


4. La Liga watch – Messi is shit.

Ok, we all pretty much knew that Barca would win the league, but their 2-0 win against Recreativo at the Nou Camp only brings that day closer. Messi even managed to miss a penalty… rubbish isn’t he.

On a sad but good note for the Gunners, Marcos Senna had to come off injured in Villarreal’s 2-0 defeat at home to Malaga and will now miss the quarter final, second leg at the Emirates on Wednesday (unless this is a cruel deception by Villarreal’s website). Senna was awesome in the first leg both defensively and offensively. That is probably an injury too far for Los Submarinos Amarillos.


5. Bundesliga watch – all up for grabs now.

The German league definitely has the most exciting title race of any league in Europe at the moment with four teams competing. Wolfsburg, who destroyed Bayern Munich last week, stay on top with a win away at Borussia Monchegladbach. Klinsmann’s men managed to pick themselves up from their spanking at Barcelona by beating Frankfurt 4-0 at the Allianz Arena. Martin Jol’s Hamburg suffered a last minute defeat away at Stuttgart, putting them in third place behind Bayern on goal difference. The standings are now: Wolfsburg, 54 points; Bayern Munich, 51 points; Hamburg, 51 points; Hertha Berlin, 49 points and Stuttgart, 48 points. Now that is what I call an open race. Let’s just hope the inevitable Bayern win doesn’t materialise.


6. Serie A – Forget the title race but look out for Genoa.

Inter managed to draw 2-2 at home to Palermo depsite leading 2-0 but luckily for them, Juve were beaten 3-2 by the ever-more-impressive Genoa side that now finds itself two points clear of Fiorentina in the fourth Champions League spot. Milan notched up another win 1-0 at Chievo thanks to Seedorf and could now overtake Juve in second (just two points behind). If the rumours are to be believed, that won’t prevent Carlo Ancelotti ending up at Chelsea. Any takers on Frank Rijkaard ending up at the San Siro? Lazio smacked up Roma in the derby of the eternal city with the usual flurry of red cards being shown. Roma’s hopes of Champions League football next season now look over as they lie in sixth place, eight points behind. I don’t think Spaletti will be round for much longer. Shame really…I quite liked Roma under the baldy one.



Mine’s Bigger Than Yours – Super Squads


There was quite a big feature in the Observer today focusing on squad sizes (read it, it’s a very good article), with particular focus on Liverpool who have a massive 62 professionals on their books. Closely following are Arsenal with 59, Man Utd with 51 and Sunderland, Chelsea and Spurs all in the mid-forties. Now big clubs have always had big squads and to be fair a lot of those Liverpool 62 are youth players and reserves but it can’t be a good situation long term. Snapping up young players is nothing new but it seems to have reached the stage of just stockpiling players so other teams can’t have them. The clubs can’t lose – if the players develop to be world/international/Premier League class then they profit from playing them and then selling them on whereas if they don’t make the grade then all they’ve lost is the cost of wages which won’t be high at young age. It’s worth gambling £30K a year on a promising teenager just if it means he’ll be on your books rather than your rivals’.

Those sticker albums are only going to get harder to fill...

Those sticker albums are only going to get harder to fill...

One of the ways Man Utd became so rich was through selling players who didn’t make the grade at Old Trafford but were good enough for lesser teams. The number of guys Fergie would get a million or two for just because they had played once or twice for the United first team was huge. The likes of Chris Casper, Terry Cooke and John Curtis had never done anything whilst at Old Trafford, but Fergie would use his wily ways to persuade some lower league manager that they were worth having. I remember in the 90s when Milan in particular used to buy top players just so no one else could have them. This was back in the days of the three foreigner rule, yet they would buy guys like Papin, Savicevic, Boban (one of my favourite ever players) and Desailly even though they still had Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard. Since then, the loosening of European borders has only made it easier for clubs to buy whoever they want from wherever they want.


Gullit, Rijkaard, Savicevic, Baresi, Van Basten, Papin, Boban - Awesome

Gullit, Rijkaard, Savicevic, Baresi, Van Basten, Papin, Boban - Awesome


Could there be some kind of squad limit introduced? Countries are forced to take just 23 to a World Cup or European Championship so why can’t there be a limit for clubs as well? The big four will know about the 25 man limit for the Champions League (though that doesn’t have to include home grown players who automatically get entered on the B list) so why can’t it be extended to the Premier League? How about using the US roster system? NBA teams are limited to 15 players (3 sets of starting line up), baseball teams have 40 while American football has 53 as a limit. With the latter two it gets a bit complicated as you have pitching/batting and offense/defence specialities but the basketball level seems about right.

You’d have to have the worst injury crisis known to man to get through three different starting line ups in a season.  A cursory glance show Man City have used the most players in the league this season with 32 followed by West Ham with 31 and Chelsea and Sunderland with 30. Villa have used the fewest with just 21. As if to prove our point, Liverpool have used only 24 of their 62 players in the league – not even half. Even accounting for the 14 out on loan, that’s still a lot of unsatisfied guys.

When you factor in the fact that most sides tend to be settled, with at least seven or eight players starting the majority of games, the argument for huge squads doesn’t really stand up. Even factoring in cup competitions doesn’t really change things. Man City haven’t used anyone in three cup competitions who hasn’t played in the league. Even Arsenal, notorious for young, understrength teams in Carling Cup and dead rubber European ties have still used just 33 in total.

The bigger the squad the further the camera.

The bigger the squad the further the camera.

Football is big business now so you don’t imagine the clubs doing anything to make themselves weaker but it would be great if some kind of limit was put in place. A bit more competition between clubs is always healthy and it would mean less young players on the scrapheap too. Somehow I doubt this will happen though and what are the odds that Liverpool increase their squad size this summer instead?



Scolari Sacked!


Blimey! That was unexpected.

I guess Abramovich has had enough of poor results and poor performances. Scolari never quite seemed to get his ideas across and under his stewardship, Chelsea were a very workmanlike side, even when winning 5-0. The timing is interesting, but I guess there’s still enough time in the season for a new manager to make an impact and get Chelsea back in the title race. Plus, the Champions League is the prize Abramovich wants above all else – Chelsea won’t be considered a great club until they have one.



Who’s going to take over? A look on Betfair see Hiddink and Rijkaard as favourites followed by Zola and Sven. Hiddink would be a good move but he could alienate just as much as motivate. I think it’s a year to early to go for Zola, but you never know.

It’s certainly livened up a Monday afternoon.



%d bloggers like this: