Friday, November 27, 2009

Thoughts from the last week or so

Aargh, I've spent all week planning to write this - and then constantly found more important things to do, like, er, lazing on the couch watching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace on DVD.

But I'm starting night shifts in a few hours so if I don't write it now, it will disappear into the multiverse of might-have-beens forever. (That last statement sounded like a load of pretentious crap. Therefore, it pleases me mightily)

Anyway - notes from the last seven days

1. I love football

Last Saturday was another pilgrimage to the English Premier League - Sunderland v Arsenal. It constantly annoys me how it is quicker to get out of Wigan, or Sunderland, or Newcastle than it is to get out of Inverness, or Perth (more of that later) and Dunfermline, for example, at the end of matches. Is there some sort of Scottish Parliament by-law that prevents training of football stewards to do anything other than be annoying little t****rs in glow-in-the-dark jackets?

Sunderland - Arsenal continued a running theme of my journeys south - a defeat for a member of the big four (last year I saw the Gunners lose at Man City, and in September I witnessed Wigan triumph over Chelsea) and ridiculously good defensive midfielders. Mark my words, Lorik Cana of Sunderland will be at a top team in the near future. I'm amazed that a man born in Albania in the early eighties had the available nutrition to grow to 6ft 1in, but he looks like a total colossus. He played like one too. On the other side was Alex Song, the Cameroonian (is that right? Calling him a Cameroon sounds too much like comparing him to a type of biscuit) who looks so stylish on the ball that it would make Gok Wan cry with joy. They were both freaking amazing.

As was the game. Arsenal were a joy on the eye, right up till they got in the penalty box, while Sunderland deserve kudos for throwing on a second striker in the second half and going for the win. One-nil doesn't sound that phenomenal, but trust me, it was magic.

2. I hate football

The main motivation for heading south last weekend was because I would be heading to Caley's Challenge Cup Final on Sunday in Perth anyway...where we blew a 2-0 halftime advantage and lost 3-2. How stupid do I feel, considering I was hugging all the people around me when we went two up? Honestly, though, the first half was more one sided than a fight between a box of tissues and a man armed with a flamethrower. How we lost that beggars belief. Now our next two games are away to Partick and Queen of the South, and will probably have a major bearing on our season

3. El Clasico approaches

I've said this before in my blog, but there is no club match more exciting than Barcelona - Real Madrid. The first encounter of this season takes place on Sunday, thankfully at 6pm UK time so I can watch it before work. I waxed lyrical on several occasions about Barca last year, and since Ibrahimovic seems to have fitted in nicely they should still be highly potent. Real, meanwhile, need to find a way to fit Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema, Raul and Higuain all into the same team. Considering the attacking riches on show, anything other than a 6-6 draw will be a disappointment.

4. The Old Firm still look vulnerable

A third into the SPL season (or thereabouts), and Hibs and Dundee United are both within 3 points of the Gruesome Twosome. My loud claims that Craig Levein is heavily overrated were somewhat undermined by the Arabs' come-from-behind win over Celtic. Hibs continue to trundle along nicely too, though if they lose the likes of Derek Riordan and Liam Miller to injury then they will probably run out of steam.

Celtic, meanwhile, have failed to improve since I roundly slagged them off a few weeks ago. Marc-Antoine Fortune looks like a man totally bereft of confidence - and, for that matter, of talent as well. Defensively they remain a shambles, despite a back four who all look like they moonlight as bouncers on a Friday night. Tony Mowbray talks of bringing in better players in January, but I doubt Dermot Desmond's pockets are deep enough for the investment required to find a better centre-back and centre-forward. And with Mowbray having already identified Fortune, Zheng Zhi and Landry N'Guemo as good enough for the Hoops (shades of Paul Le Guen's thoughts about Libor Sionko, Karl Svensson and the infamous Filip Sebo), it would be like trusting Fred Goodwin with your investment portfolio.

And, last but not least - Rangers. utterly rank again in Europe in midweek. It used to be normal for Scottish clubs to be out of European competition by xmas, but that was before the competitions were massively expanded, and it appears now that it is actually harder to go out at this stage than it is to stay in. It says a lot about the state of affairs at Ibrox that my co-author was encouraged by beating Kilmarnock 3-0 at home last week; a few years ago that would have been considered a matter of routine.

Yet, if this crummy Rangers side top the SPL, what does that say about the opposition?


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