Monday, July 29, 2013

2012-07-29: More Offseason Thoughts

Delusions / Illusions of Grandeur
What about you David Moyes? What are you smoking?
Liverpool owner John W. Henry famously tweeted 'What do you think they're smoking over there at the Emirates?' over Arsenal's 40,000,001 GBP bid for Luis Suarez. I actually think that Barca president Sandro Rosell ought to say that about Manchester United too.
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What the hell are they smoking over this pursuit of Cesc Fabregas? If you think the Luis Suarez soap opera is ridiculous - then try this one! You're talking about a guy buy spent his last 2-3 seasons at Arsenal trying to worm his way back to his boyhood club... despite the wage increases, despite the Captaincy and despite all the sentimentality that he has developed with the North London club over the near-decade (or more) that he's spent there. What makes you think that you can get Cesc Fabregas to come to United?
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So-called experts have talked about how poor not-so-old Cesc has not been getting playing time at Barcelona because his adaptation process with the Tiki-Taka system has not yet been completed and that he is stuck behind the pecking order of Central midfielders behind Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets. Newsflash boys: Cesc played nearly 50 games for Barca last season. He's not the poor, mistreated, bench-warming victim that you think he is. Besides, with the World Cup coming up in the next off-season, do you really expect the 33-year old Xavi to play 50 matches to keep Cesc off the pitch?
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It also seems to me that Manchester United may have overlooked that Arsenal supposedly have first refusal on Cesc should he decide to leave Barcelona again. 
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I honestly am wondering right now: Why won't David Moyes just call back his old Everton apprentice Maruanne Fellaini to join him at United? It's not as if the Belgian midfielder will be asked to shave his afro off if he joins them.
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Is it just me, or does Man U have the look of a team whose countless vulnerabilities (ageing defense, non-existent midfield, Rooney crisis, etc.), which were previously masked by Alex Ferguson's masterful management, are now about to unravel? Everyone knew how great Alex Ferguson was as a manager while he was at United. I on the other hand think that, it will only be when Man U don't have Fergie around in the Unted touchline, when we all truly see and realize how ridiculously great he was.
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Stung by the BVB
It's 'only' a Supercup - but it's still a win vs. Big, Bad Bayern.
A Big Congratulations to Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund! Not only did they manage to win 4-2 vs. arch rivals Bayern Munich, they also managed to get Bayern Coach Pep Guardiola to sound like ex-apprentice Xavi: "We domintated them! Didn't you guys see??? We had 64% possession!" (or something to that effect).
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In the meantime, Jurgen Klopp has now volunteered himself to play the role of being the Bundesliga's Mourinho as a counterpoint to Bayern's Pep. This time however, it'll be the immensely likeable Borussia Coach, (who fancies himself to be a modern-day football management equivalent to Robin Hood) coming out as the underdog hero (and not the quintessential Mourinho villain)... and the uber-hip Pep, now working for the big bad boys - Germany's very own version of the 'Evil Empire' (as Cules like to call Madrid) having to play villain. He may not yet be gouging the eyes of his opposing coaches, but he's been accused of standin up his ill friend in New York in the offseason, and is starting to literally slap his players around in public.
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I wonder if Pep is going to go through some kind of uber-hip, emo-type of existential crisis in dealing with his newfound 'villain-hood'... or if he can own it with a gloating smile like Mourinho. 
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Oh-No, Not Again
Just When I thought 
Late last May, I blogged about some of my post-season thoughts looking forward to the 2013-2014 season with a look at Real Madrid's offseason transfer targets. I distinctly remember writing about wanting to have Gareth Bale in the team (as an upgrade to the inconsistent Angel Di Maria) together with this offseason's Big Fish transfer target, Edinson Cavani (as a replacement to Gonzalo Higuain).
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It must be noted that all those thoughts were made prior to Madrid making any acquisitions (although progress was already being made towards the acquisition of Isco), and I wrote: 
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"...Malaga’s Isco, whom I regard to be a great player and is easily a Real Madrid-calibre player. But with Ozil and Modric already onboard capable of playing the ’10′, I do not believe that he ought to be a priority signing. In my opinion, a young pivot to blood in, is a bigger priority."
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Real Madrid's Current Depth Chart. Currently excludes: Casemiro (Defensive Midfield) and Cheryshev (Wing)
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That young pivot I noted to be the priority turned out to be Illaramendi (a fine signing, overpriced though at 32m). The acquisition of Isco however changes the picture entirely as it adds yet another player in the line of 3 behind the striker. Recent evidence taken for the team's preseason matches seem to show Isco having usurped Di Maria in the starting XI, with the young Spaniard playing as a '10' with Ozil playing on the right (with limited success). Having seen only one half of football among Real Madrid's 3 preseason matches (1st half vs. PSG), I note that the team also somewhat (maybe unintentionally) turns into a 4-2-2-2 (with Ronaldo surging to become a 2nd striker while Isco + Ozil play as twin playmakers behind). I've also read that 'experiments' have been made for Ronaldo to play as a '9', which have not worked out thus far. The 'depth chart' above shows the current team without even a place for Casemiro or Cheryshev... Thus the question then becomes: 
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If Bale comes, Where does he play?  
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-I forsee that one day, Ronaldo's pace will leave him due to father time: and will thus push him forward to play as a '9' when the time comes. That time however, is FAR from being now. Sof there's really no point in making him play as a '9' at the  moment just to accommodate Bale as a left winger.
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-Does the left-footed Bale play on the right as an inverted winger like Di Maria (who played on the left with Benfica)? I have absolute confidence that this will make for an exciting lineup (with the 2 switching wings , constantly, etc.). BUT - this will also mean that one of Isco or Ozil will have to go to the bench... with Kaka who hopes for another chance under Ancelotti. Sounds like a recipe to breed discontent.
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-What chance will recently-promoted Castilla startlets (Jese and Cheryshev) have with 2 must-play wingers in front of them all the time (with Ozil / Isco / Kaka also getting turns to play in the line of 3 behind the striker)?
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And finally - is he really worth 100m Euros? Absolutely not. Gareth Bale has played ONE good season at Spurs (26 goals from 44 matches, 21 in the league). In contrast, Cristiano Ronaldo had THREE great seasons at United (23, 42, 26 goals) prior to his 96m move to Madrid. I am of the opinion that Gareth Bale is, at best, worth only 60m. That's 30m (the price of Spurs target and ex-Castilla player Soldado) + Di Maria (whom you could value at 30m). Anything more, is IMHO, just throwing money into the ocean. 

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