Are Arsenal fans the ficklest in the Premier League? That's one question in the mailbox as Gooners call for Wenger to leave (again). Plus, plenty of reaction to Falcao...
Arsenal fans would quite like their club to sign a striker thank you very much, whilst someone is excited about Jim White et al. Plus, Klose to Arsenal please...
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Can: Open. Worms: Everywhere.
Carlo Ancelotti has done in one season what Mourinho could not accomplish in three... with football that is nice to watch.
...Has Guardiola destroyed the empire that Heynckes built at Bayern. Or has Ancelotti rescued Madrid from the pit Mourinho left them in?
From the moment Pep Guardiola shook his hands with David Moyes at the Old Trafford touchline, Bayern's season began to unravel. Coincidence? I think not. Black Magic, I think yes.
It actually makes sense now. Seriously!
United Should Sign Modric (Or Try, At Least)
Watching the Real demolition of Bayern Munich last night, I could help but think one thing...it's time someone started giving Luka Modric the credit he deserves. He ran the game last night and every time I have seen him play for Los Blancos this year he has been outstanding. After an iffy settling in period, he is now the Luka Modric that I adored watching at White Hart Lane. His passing is clever and always accurate, his feet are magical and his hair is lovely.
Luka is the key to Real's rapid counter attacking game - his agile feet means that turns defence into attack at breakneck speed and his quick mind means that that happens often in the most mysterious ways, He reminds me of Paul Scholes in his pomp, with less goals and more dribbles. Watching Luka makes me go a bit funny. Massive call I know, but - for me, right now - he is the best central midfielder in Europe.
If United are serious about rebuilding, they could a lot worse than going in for super Luka and Toni Kroos. That should sort their lame ass midfield out for a few years.
4-0...FOUR-NIL!!! Wish I could see the face of Manc in SA right now.
Matthew T.D (I hope you slept well, sir) MUFC
And Here He Is
Well....that didn't go according to plan did it? That said, was it just me, or did Madrid look far less timid and frantic this week?
They seemed to even slow down a few of their rapid breakouts, to pass the ball around and all the way back again, before again bursting on goal. Either way, that was hugely different to what I had expected, and Madrid didn't make the game a bore fest that's for sure.
That Madrid performance was far more befitting of a stellar squad chasing 'La Decima', which we will no doubt hear about endlessly now. Therefore, I am hoping that Simeone can lead Atletico to a historic double instead!
And more desperate heartbreak for Chelsea, ala Moscow, would be hilarious to watch and revel in.
Manc in SA (Madrid played a little last night...and look at the results!)
Neuer Was Pantz
* On the outset, I don't think Bayern play tiki-taka football. At least not yet. If that's Guardiola's vision, then the vision is far from complete and its fair he is given time to do that. Despite that last I know they've won the league championship in record time.
* On the other hand, Guardiola's dangerous myopic stand on we have the ball so we control the game is far from flawless as exposed by Real. Barcelona had a Messi, simply put Bayern don't have one and Pep has to evolve his team assuming he is still in charge next season.
* Its easy to blame Dante and Boateng for the first two goals but let's not forget this was the same pair that kept two clean sheets in a 7-0 thrashing of Bayern in a ruthlessly counter attacking display. So, I look at the manager who believes defending is beneath his flavour. Blame the manager for not sorting the basics of a football game.
* What has Pep done to Neuer? Last I saw him, he looked like the best goal keeper in the world and the goal post looked small behind him. He was awful last night.
* I also agree with Sarah, tiki-taka is not dead. Let's applaud a Real team which look like the best team in Europe in terms of balance. Alonso, Modric and the three fellas up front were simply magnificent last night. When they had the ball they did the simple things perfect and without the ball they were organized and did not commit the silly fouls that commonly earned them cards previously against the likes of Barca. Credit to Carlo who is known for defensive solidarity and attacking prowess. If he can ensure Pepe doesn't do something stupid in a football game or Ramos doesn't get a card, he has done a remarkable job at Real's defence.
* Should we go through tonight (which I hope we will), I'd have fancied Bayern any day over Real.
Aravind, CFC, Chennai (Jose vs Carlo is ironical yet fascinating a prospect)
Will It Get Worse For Bayern?
Sarah Winterburn was correct in questioning the wisdom of proclaiming that tiki-taka is dead. However, I have another theory to explain Bayern's strange performances this season.
Putting it simply. Guardiola introduced tiki-taka to the world around six years ago through Barca. Bayern themselves got a taste of it last year and under Heynckes, did a magnificent job of countering it and killing it. Most other European teams from England, France, Italy have all had to play Barca in the knockouts and have slowly learnt to counter it.
However, no team from the Bundesliga played Barca in the last six years as frequently as the clubs from the above countries. As a result, I suspect that when Guardiola unleashed tiki-taka in Germany, most of the Bundesliga teams were caught out. From my limited viewing of the Bundesliga, I've seen that even the mid table teams like to attack and score goals against the likes of Bayern and Dortmund rather than defend deep (say as West Ham would do). This would explain why Bayern walked the league since no other teams were prepared to counter this style. They had all heard about it and seen it but never really come up against the maestros of it. As a result - Bayern had the league wrapped up in no time.
Europe has been a different proposition altogether. Most of the teams they were up against had faced Barcelona/Guardiola in the last six years and knew what to expect. The likes of Milan, United, Chelsea, PSG, Madrid - all have been paired up against Barca more than once and they've all learnt lessons the harsh way. Which is why Bayern found the going much tougher as compared to last year (when they were more direct and attacking). Even Ancelotti faced them last year as PSG manager and nearly pulled it off before being knocked out on away goals.
I assume in another couple of years - even the Bundesliga teams will adapt to this method and find ways to counter Bayern. Tiki-taka may not be dead but will have to find a way to counter the counter-attacking system for it to be effective again.
A Man With Time On His Hands
I've recently been reading plenty of Mr Men books (not on my own...but to my boys!) and it got me thinking about which manager/player would be a certain Mr Men.
Came up with the following...
Mr Bump: anyone from Arsenal - always injred and hurting themselves.
Mr Happy: Manuel Pellegrini - After Chelsea managed to beat Liverpool
Mr Quiet: Mauricio Pochettino - Has anyone ever heard him speak
Mr Big: Big Sam - His head is very...
Mr Nonsense: David Moyes - Spouted plenty during his short reign
Mr Perfect: Jose - well, he thinks he is ?
Mr Cool: Vincenzo Montella - he just looks it
Mr Messy; Jurgen Klopp - looks like Worzel Gummidge on a good day
Mr Wrong: Alan Pardew - you just don't do that Alain
Mr Nervous: Paul Lambert - Must be tucking his backside in right about now
Mr Daydream - Ole Gunner Solskjaer - that's all he can do now.
My Clumsy - Xabi Alonso - Why Xabi, why. You didn't need to make that tackle
Mr Topsy Turvy - Pep and Bayern - superb and then rubbish
Neil (Jose - Carlo final? Please make it happen.) Surrey
Another big game, another Houdini-style disappearing act from world's 3rd best player Franck Ribery. Seriously, what do people see in this guy? What are his skills?
I just see an above average attacking midfielder with a little bit of pace, sometimes capable of playing exceptionally well, usually against brittle opposition. I don't watch the bundesliga, but I gather he scores quite often in a league where Bayern seem to smash everyone who comes before them. When I actually get the opportunity to watch Bayern in the Champions League or France in a qualifier, he might as well not be on the pitch for all the good he does.
I'd just like to know where this reputation of his came from, and how he got in on the nominations for the Ballon D'or above the likes of Jordan Henderson.
Another Who Noticed Ribery's Disappearance
*Last season, it was Bayern's lightning counters that convincingly undid the tippy-tappy p*ssy-passing of Barcelona, with a 7-0 aggregate score. This year, that same Bayern side's tippy-tappy p*ssy-passing was blown out of the water by a bunch of ruthless Real Madrid counters. I have to wonder, has the Guardiola model been found out? It seems more and more teams are getting the hang of negating the endless tiki-taka triangles with disciplined counter attacks, and it's starting to look like Pep himself doesn't really know how to adapt. Yes, I know he won the Bundesliga at a canter, but his philosophy was still relatively new to Germany before this season, and caught the Wolfsburgs and Braunschweigs by surprise. It'll be interesting to see if and how Guardiola will change his tune next term.
*Tactics aside, there was a remarkable amount of mediocrity on display in a team that we were all convinced would rule the world for years to come. I don't know what kind of drunken bet got Franck Ribery nominated for player of the year last season, but I'd say those responsible must be feeling pretty silly about that whole thing now. Mario Mandzukic is the Bundesliga's equivalent of Olivier Giroud: a willing trier, but not quite good enough for this level. Neuer should have saved at least three of the goals, and Schweinsteiger was so anonymous that my mate refused to believe he was actually playing until I showed him the line-ups on my mobile. Finally, the fact that Guardiola had to call upon 35-year-old Chelsea reject Claudio Pizarro to salvage something from the game should be pretty worrying for Bayern fans.
*One more word on Ribery: I remember someone saying in the mailbox that they had never seen him play particularly well. As a sort of bored experiment, I started paying extra attention to him during the Bayern games I watched (mostly Champions League). I'm now at seven games across two seasons in which he hasn't impressed me at all. Arjen Robben is a superior footballer by a country mile. Even tonight, Robben at least entertained with a belter of a cross-field ball to open up play, whereas Ribery only managed a limp and easily-saved shot for his most prominent contribution.
*Although reported Man United target Toni Kroos was one of the few bright sparks for the home side, his 'nah, sod that for a game of soldiers' approach to marking Ronaldo for that delicious third goal should be of some concern to Reds fans if he ends up signing for them.
*Playing a fleet-footed winger like Angel Di Maria in central midfield is something that should never have worked, but somehow did. Quite well, in fact.
*Sergio Ramos and Pepe get embroiled in so much ridiculousness that you sometimes forget that they're actually pretty handy at playing football. Their disciplined display frustrated Bayern to no end, and Ramos timed his header perfectly to open the score. Pepe is still a very strange looking man, though.
*Credit to the Bayern faithful, they were singing their lungs out even when 4-0 down. That's something you don't see over here.
Some thoughts after watching the game last night:
-If life was fair, a marvellous beard would make us impervious to all things sour and nasty in life. Sadly for Xabi Alonso, life is not fair - and he has nobody else to blame but himself. There's a fine line between idiotic and crazy, and Alonso was crazy to give himself a personal nightmare when the game was already put to bed and sleeping soundly. As much as I like Xabi, that was a rash and outrageous decision.
-Yet another year in football and yet another sweeping conclusion to be made by some. I much agree with Sarah Winterburn's conclusion - Real Madrid were simply fantastic across both legs and fully deserve their victory, but is this to really say that they are the new force in Europe, and possession based football, tika taka, or whatever, is to die a death? It's doubtful. A year ago, German football was the behemoth in Europe and looked set to reign supreme for some time. Now Bayern have been dismantled by an excellent Ancelotti Madrid team. It happens like that - a regression from one side and an improvement from the other can result in drastic changes in results, even in a period as little as 365 days. But that isn't to say the pendulum won't soon swing the other way, and it certainly isn't to suggest that a jamming gun won't soon be firing on all cylinders again after close examination. Of course Bayern will be back (and with more of Dortmund's players).
-And Madrid were utterly, utterly fantastic. Modric and Ramos in particular were sensations as well as Pepe who, despite often looking like a loose cannon in previous big games, was rather excellent last night. Bayern on the other hand were flat, insipid and devoid of any sort of spark. Boring, tedious and drab. I've rarely wanted an injection of pace or a quick snapshot from a player on a football field more than last night.
-Much has been made of Madrid over the years. They aren't perfect. But there is a certain romance I can't help but find when it comes to the thought of the white strips running out to the greatest stage of all once again. Say what you want about them, but what a stunning history they have - from Di Stefano and Puskas to the underperforming Galacticos era, to the memories of my old VHS United season review tapes when Casillas was, what, 19 years old (?) and Redondo skinned Henning Berg.
-And talking of the Galacticos era, what a chance this side have to etch themselves in Madrid's history. 12 years for Madrid in which the likes of Brazilian Ronaldo, and Capello and Mourinho have joined and left the club. 12 years too long. Way too long. This is a mammoth club who believe that the trophy belongs to them - imagine the glory on offer if you are a player who can bring it home.
-Clive Tyldesley's commentary as the period of silence was about to begin put things rather nicely into perspective. A year ago, Tito Vilanova was managing a team in the Champions League semi-final - a year later and he has passed away. The swiftness of time and frailty of life becomes so apparent with that short sentence - especially as you get older.
Jack, 19, London (Redondo skinning Henning Berg is on youtube, if you haven't seen it, you must!)