Monday, 26 September 2011

Michael Owen - The best player in the world in his position.

Manchester United 3 Leeds United 0.

Michael Owen scores two goals.


A reminder to us all he’s never lost it.

Michael knows this.

Leeds United know this.

But a certain Fabio Capello remains unconvinced.

Thankfully for Michael, Sir Alex Ferguson is a believer.

Rescuing him from his nightmare at Newcastle, most people raised an eyebrow or two when Alex signed him 2 years ago.

But he knew well what he was doing.

Having opted not to re-sign Carlos Tevez, his options up front were looking a little thin.

Wayne Rooney was the crown jewel.

But Dimitar Berbatov hadn’t set the world alight since joining.

And there was a youngster or two coming through that were not quite ready for the first team.

They soon would be.

So when the opportunity to sign a 29 year old England striker with 89 caps and 40 goals came up, it was an easy decision.

Especially as he was free.

Easy decision for Michael too.

A chance to join a team that had just reached 2 Champions League Finals in a row and were winning the Premier league most seasons.

He knew he wouldn’t start every game but with his history of injuries, he knew he wouldn’t start every game for any team.

And Alex didn’t need a striker for 60 games.

He had them already.

What he needed was a back-up striker for games they were injured for.

Or suspended.

Or in need of a rest.

And what better man to come on then someone who has played on the biggest stage for so many years.

There was no need to worry about pressure or if he was good enough - this was Michael Owen.

So why isn’t Fabio a believer then?

Michael’s the last world class striker England has produced.

Loads of good strikers of course.

Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Emile Heskey.

But no-one in the same league as Wayne is, as a centre forward.

Yet Michael hasn’t been called up in 3 years.

Kevin Davies has.

So too Jay Bothroyd.

But Fabio seems to be thinking of starting eleven’s only.

Playing every game.

Unlike Alex, who knows what a weapon Michael is to have on your bench.

Michael’s best position is not first choice striker needed for 60 games.

But back-up striker when needed in those 60 games.

He’s 5th choice striker at United.

The best 5th choice striker any club has in the world.

Good enough to be 5th choice striker for England?

That’s something England should really start believing in...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Go see Shamrock Rovers play? Sure they can’t even beat a team like Rubex Kazan at home...

This is what I overheard in a bar the other day.

It was from a football fan having a chat with his mate who supports Shamrock Rovers.

He had a jersey of a ‘foreign’ football team on.

So the conversation started about how well Rovers had played the night before.

A sentiment I agreed with entirely.

But they lost 3-0.

At home.

To a team called Rubin Kazan.

Not Rubex Kazan.

A top Russian side.

Winning the league in ‘08, ‘09 and coming 3rd in ‘10.

But they don’t play in the English Premier League.

Or Scotland.

So this Irish fan had never heard of them.

Thus he felt Shamrock Rovers should be beating them as they are only a “mickey mouse side”.

A bit like the Irish fans who booed of the national team against Slovakia two weeks ago.

If they don’t play or have played in or around England, they can’t possibly be good.

But this Rubin Kazan side are.

In 2010 they drew with Inter Milan in the Champions League group stages.

Inter went on to win the trophy that May.

They also drew with Barcelona the same season.

And again in 2011 they drew with the Spanish giants in the group stages.

Barcelona went on to not only win the Champions League last season but also get labelled with being one of the greatest sides of all time.

Not bad results for a “mickey mouse side”.

Even if they are not as glamorous a name as some European sides this season like Birmingham City or Stoke City.

I actually said well done to Shamrock Rovers for their performance.

They may have lost, but the defeat was not an embarrassing self-destruction through a bad performance full of schoolboy errors.

They were beaten by a better team.

Who scored some really well crafted goals.

They were technically superb.

But Shamrock Rovers played as well as I’ve seen them all season.

They just showed first hand the difference between qualifying for the group stages and competing against teams who can hold their own against the likes of Barcelona and Inter Milan on a regular basis.

A tough stepping stone for Rovers.

But one they are trying to get over.

And are going the right way about it.

Bringing up the standard of the Irish league along the way.

As for our friend in the bar.

He was wearing a Celtic jersey...

Monday, 12 September 2011

Liverpool didn’t deserve to rule Britannia.

Stoke City 1.

Liverpool 0.

Any Liverpool supporter watching their side at the Britannia will feel they deserved something out of the game.

The bad news for them is - they didn’t.

Absolutely nothing.

Another cracking result for Tony Pulis and his boys.

I’m a big fan of Tony.

A really big fan.

Tony set his team out to win the game 1-0 and that’s exactly what he got.

He couldn’t do much else to be honest - if he really wanted three points.

Liverpool are far superior in almost every department.

But this Stoke side are made of something special.

Not the sort of thing you can buy in the transfer window.

The sort of thing you must grow on the training ground.

Through hard work, dedication and most importantly - time.

Stoke will never be able to attract the type of player that Liverpool can.

But what they do get in, are players who never say die.

An attitude of guts, determination and a fighting spirit that brings 1-0 victories over better teams.

They are used to being told they are not good enough so when it comes to getting the chance to test themselves against the players who are, they have some serious issues to prove.

Tony has drilled this into them.

He has been doing it for 6 seasons since his return to Stoke as manager.

And he should know how to drill it into them.

He’s the managers equivalent.

Not quite good enough for the top.

But don’t let that stop him doing everything in his power to still get there.

Tony knew Liverpool would have chances.

Lots of chances.

And they did.

11 shots on target.

20 attempts at goal.

12 corners.

But if these Stoke players defend for their lives, fight for every ball and throw everything they have in the way of Liverpool, they know they can keep a clean sheet.

It’s up to great teams to break this resolve down and grind out a result.

But Liverpool aren’t a great team - yet.

Tony knows this.

He also knew he’d get one chance.

He always does.

Turns out he only got 1 shot on target.

But with the spirit his team has - sometimes that’s all he needs...

Monday, 5 September 2011

It’s embarrassing being an Ireland supporter sometimes.

Ireland nil.

Slovakia nil.

Full time whistle sounds.

Followed by boos.

A loud chorus of boos.

I stood in the Aviva stadium applauding the Irish team off the pitch.

But as I looked around, I saw thousands of Irish ‘supporters’ boo the same players.

If this was a 5-0 hammering, I could understand a few angry faces.

But this was a draw against a team better than us.

In a game were they played better than us.

And the game itself was an excellent encounter.

It didn’t have bags of goals, sending offs or peno shouts.

Not like a top premier league game.

But it did have two teams really have a go at each other.

With an almost unbearable tension throughout knowing how high the stakes were.

Yet booing was the order of the day.

At an Irish team that is punching above it’s weight right now.

Irish supporters need to put our level in perspective.

We have 5 Wolves players in the squad.

Our star players play for Aston Villa, Fulham and L.A. Galaxy.

And Darron Gibson is the only Irish player playing for any of the top 6 teams in the premier league.

Yet our ‘supporters’ decide to boo them off for only drawing with Slovakia.

A team that qualified for the last world cup.

Knocking out world champions Italy to qualify for the last 16.

They have players at Napoli, Manchester City and Liverpool.

And they really turned up on Friday night.

I applauded the Wolves players for keeping up with them.

And coming oh so close to beating them.

But Irish supporters have it good when it comes to their teams.

They are spoilt by supporting the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Celtic.

They expect to win.

And win with style.

But the international game is much different to the premier league.

This Irish side isn’t made up of quality players like Rooney, Suarez or Fabregas.

But hard grafters who are brimming with guts and determination.

Exactly the type of players that should be loved for giving their all to get to where they are.

Applauded for their efforts against superior opposition.

They play their hearts out and get rewarded with boos.

It’s not the result that was embarrassing.

Nor the performance.

It’s was the ‘supporters’.