As tired and fruitless as it to whine about, I still need to bring attention to the annual lunacy that is this international window.
Just when the club season is beginning to find its comfortable and happy place (or Week 2 in Serie A) it all comes to a screeching halt, and we have to remove our team hats, throw on an international shirt and pretend that Wednesday’s slew of meaningless friendlies are in actual fact, meaningful.
Indeed, the games become important on Sunday as the road to Euro 2016 begins in earnest, but does it really need to begin this early? Probably, given the number of matches the money-grabbers stuff down our throats each season. But in my perfect world, a world where you can’t loan a marquee world star in order to beat Financial Fair Play, the club season would at least have a month or so to bed in.
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Some random thoughts:
About those meaningless matches
If you read too much into headlines you would think that Argentina’s 4-2 smashing of Germany on Wednesday has removed the World Cup induced burn from the pit of every Argentine’s lower colon, and that the German heroes are now fallen greats, with their reputations stained beyond recognition.
The match meant absolutely nothing other than to remind us that Gerardo Martino is actually a competent manager and that his stint at Barcelona should not sully his resume. It might also stand as a reminder that if Angel Di Maria had not been felled by injury just as he was warming into the World Cup, then just maybe the final would have had a different outcome… probably not though. Still, did the Manchester United man put on a show or what?
Whither thou Rooney
Wayne Rooney’s England put in a classic friendly performance: a decent first half, a laboured second half where no-one wanted to risk injury (oh, how I love friendlies) and eventually they came out with a deserved 1-0 win over Norway courtesy of a Rooney penalty. Was anyone else less than comfortable Rooney now has the responsibility from the spot with Steve Gerrard retired?
Aside from that Rooney was irrelevant for his country, overshadowed by his younger teammates. Monday’s Euro qualifier against Switzerland needs to be a different story, else I fear this campaign may end up a lot tighter than it needs to be. At least Roy Hodgson hasn’t jumped on the three-at-the-back trend I suppose.
Mata on the outs?
Juan Mata looks to be the odd man out on paper with the arrival of Radamal (loanee, really?) Falcao. Seems a little premature to me, though. Yes, the Spaniard has been a bust, no he isn’t exactly versatile, but surely we can’t be expected to believe that Robin Van Persie is going to play regular football this season?
A crocked RVP will mean Rooney and Falcao will operate up front, with Mata in the hole. Unless, of course, Di Maria steps in there, although wouldn’t he be better in a midfield three, if Louis van Gaal finally conceded defeat in his 3-5-2? You know when I begin getting hopped up about tactics then there is chaos abound. I think I’ll leave that department to the experts, but I am actually quite intrigued by it all at United.
Good old TFC, eh?
The master plan of keeping this team in the mainstream press is working to perfection. I, like most of my media brethren, have had no choice but to criticise in recent years, however I do actually have a little sympathy. A horrible week for the club, no doubt, but to compare it to the dreadful mismanagement of the past is a tad unfair. Let’s look at the bullet points:
• Ryan Nelsen fired. He never hould have been hired in the first place, one of the mistakes of Kevin Payne, the GM from a previous era. Tim Bezbatchenko inherited him, and took the appropriate action, arguably too late, but he made the move. Greg Vanney? Who knows, but the talent pool is thin right now, so maybe it’s better to see out the season, and then decide on whether he is the long-term solution. Certainly a first-time gaffer rings some alarm bells, but it doesn’t mean he is the next Aron Winter or Ryan Nelsen.
• Jermain Defoe saga. The club didn’t want to sell him; seems it was a case of the player wanting out. Now maybe more research into the player’s character was necessary to determine whether such a life change was going to be smooth or rocky, but signing overseas DPs is always a gamble. Defoe was worth that gamble, even if he leaves in January, embarrassing as that may be for the club.
• Injuries. I have sympathy for the defensive absentees, as they have derailed this campaign. As for Defoe’s pattern of tweaks and pulls? Did we expect anything less? Look at his career, an ironman he is not!
My point is that as horrible as this week has been, it is only magnified due to the utter disaster of a franchise this club has been in the past. I don’t see this week as examples of another failing plan, but more a road bump for a club that is slowly figuring it out.
However, if Michael Bradley gets irked… well then.
Football. Bloody Hell.
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