Tag Archives: FOOTBALL

Football Matters Part I: Two colors inside and the divisions outside

Football matters, indeed it does, to you, to me and to millions of other fans around the world and to the players who play it day in day out. And what’s also certain is that there are football matters that continue to haunt the very basis of modern football, none more so than the one in question here.

Football, without doubt, is the most watched and followed around sport in the world in this day and age. There are kids around the world who would sacrifice their studies just to have a few extra hours of playing it and then there would be ‘adults’ who would refuse to get going with their normal lives should their favorite team lose a match. Yup, football is a common denominator that strings millions of distinct individuals from around the world. For some it’s passion to be following the sport, for some others it is a religion that they live by and for a distinct few it is a matter of even more- for whom football is a feeling that can’t be explained but they spend their lives explaining it.

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Serie A roundup: Juventus & Napoli dominant, Milan rusty while Roma & Inter bite the dust!

The much awaited Serie A season finally began at the weekend, couple of weeks later than originally scheduled due to a player’s strike and the subsequent international break. It was the champions AC Milan who kicked off the new campaign but had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Rome based Lazio.

Calcio Returns!

Elsewhere, there was enthusiasm and a massive sense of joy in Turin as Juventus welcomed Parma to their newly inaugurated stadium for the first game of the season.

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Juventus: New stadium, New warriors and a return to old glory?

A season of massive disappointment for the Turin giant’s last campaign resulted in what was a summer of inclement change, full of transfer activity inwards and outwards of the club. Last season was every bit as disappointing as the one before it, despite the radical changes that had been made in the upper echelons of the Juventus management. The fabled Agnelli name returned to Juventus last summer with the arrival of Andrea Agnelli as the chairman who appointed Beppe Marotta as the Director of Sport.

Antionio Conte- A Juventus Legend. Can he lead the Old Lady's Renaissance as a Coach?
Antionio Conte- A Juventus Legend. Can he lead the Old Lady's Renaissance as a Coach?

But it was far from a rosy story for the ‘Old Lady’ who endured another year of pain and despair failing from Scudetto contenders to Champions League hopefuls to Europa League seekers to eventually missing out on Europe altogether. However, this summer was Beppe Marotta’s shot at salvation, to correct all that had been wronged at Juventus all this while and to cover up the numerous chinks in the Old Lady’s footballing armor. What Marotta had failed in doing last year was to set up a base for Juventus’ future endeavors and after having been back to square one, that is what he set out to do once again in this season’s ‘mercato’.  His task was simple, find solutions to the incredibly evident flaws in the team and to buy world class players to take Juventus to the next level and try to challenge the Milan twins and Napoli for the Champions League places.

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Man Utd’s Generation Next: Can They Keep The Legacy Going?

Nearly two decades ago, at a time when Man United were still struggling for a long awaited league triumph that had deserted the Reds for well over quarter of a century, an army of young kids, more ubiquitously known as the Class of ’92 were being groomed, kids who would go on and define how English Football was going to be seen in the coming decades as they swept aside all and sundry in the league and even in continental football, helping United conquer 12 league titles in 18 years to go along with 2 Champions League triumphs.

Fergie Classes!

But looking at in hindsight, the way of the Fergie’s Fledglings, as they were(and still are) famously known amongst the United faithful, was not the easiest or devoid of critics, it was towards the end of 1995 summer tansfer window that Alan Hansen made his egregious rant against United’s youth-oriented team after their opening day defeat to Aston Villa.

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Michael Ballack- The agony and the Löw blow of damnation

For more than a decade, modern football’s ‘Nearly’ man Michael Ballack was synonymous with the Germany National Team, lovingly nicknamed the ‘Die Mannschaft’ in the German footballing circles. He was the inspirational figure that had guided the German renaissance post the debacle of Euro 2000 where the Germans had had a catastrophy, finishing bottom of the group stages.

Michael Ballack was the catalyst to the redemption of the German National team who faced an unexpected humiliation in Netherlands-Belgium during Euro 2000. He traversed a long journey from the rather anonymous Saxony based club Chemnitzer FC to going on to play for some of football’s biggest clubs in Europe- Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Chelsea, touching glittering heights in his career.

Ballack & Frings and their tale of what might have been.
Ballack(L), Frings(R). Wondering what might have been?

Ballack alongside good friend Torsten Frings were going to hold fort for the Germans in the heart of midfield, a task the talented sanguine duo did with utmost humility. The two marshalled Germany from the disappointments of two years ago to the finals of the World Cup in Korea in 2002, but the disappointment refused to leave Ballack’s career, after having already experienced the rather infamous ‘Treble Horror’ with Leverkusen at club level the same year, he got himself booked in the semi-final against the hosts Korea Republic resulting in him missing the final and the tears that flowed are in the memory of every man that ever loved the ‘Mannschaft’. And the rest as they say is history. Germany got run over by Ronaldo and co 2-0 in the final, a scoreline that flatters to decieve the Germans, for Brazil had dominated and the score could have been worse.

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Of JCT’s demise and the dominion of doom in Indian Football.

JCT crest

Phagwara based football club JCT FC(prev. JCT Mills), for long the face of football in the Northern parts of India, was disbanded yesterday, confirming rumours that had been going around the Indian footballing circles for the past few weeks. The news  landed a bitter blow on the face of Indian Football and the trend is worrying, for two India’s leading clubs JCT and Mahindra United have both disbanded within the last one year citing a lack of popularity of the domestic clubs and televsion coverage of football in the country.

JCT, winners of the inaugaral National Football League(now the I-League) in the 1996-97 season, have been home to some of India’s leading stars- Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri, I.M. Vijayan, Renedy Singh and Jo-Paul Ancheri amongst others. JCT had for long  been fighting a lone battle to increase football popularity in these parts of the country and give the people up north their go-to club, becoming the first non-Kolkata club to win the IFA Shield in the process along with that inaugaral NFL title. Despite the flourish that they once had, the last couple of years for them had been much less successful, often been dogged by debts and insufficient finances. The team’s relegation in the last I-League season acted as the final nail in the coffin, pulling them beyond the point of no return resulting in the club’s professional football team being disbanded, though their works at the grass roots and their much famed youth academy would still function.
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Dimitar Berbatov: The story of a failed genius

For the last 3 years, or slightly less, Dimitar Berbatov has perhaps been that one player to have shouldered the disappointment of not one but several United fans (read millions and still counting). But the disappointment which bothered him the most, and still does, is the one of himself.

The big Bulgarian’s impending move to Manchester United was followed with great curiosity across the footballing world. Sir Alex openly admitted interest in him, breach of code they said. Tottenham were determined to milk it and sure they did when Berbatov moved to MUFC rejecting City in the process who also had their bid accepted. The fee was supposedly something around 30.5 million pounds and here I am writing this.

Berbatov signing with MUFC.
Berbatov displaying his new jersey amidst much razzmatazz

The new no.9 started off his United career with an assist against Liverpool. Mesmerizing ball control, turning around the defender and sliding a neat pass for Tevez. Sign of things to come? The match ended in 2-1,and yes United lost. First league defeat of the season and first to Liverpool since 2002 in the league coincided with his debut. The next game could not have come at a better time for Berba, Chelsea away and maybe time to mark his arrival. In retrospect, had his shot gone in that day the story could have been far different. Ji Sung tapped in of the rebound from Berba’s shot which was parried by Cech. Still waiting.

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The Ginger United of Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes, a name most revered by every Manchester United fan across the globe and respected by every true football fan and critic who has seen him play. As a young boy, he was one who excelled in football and cricket alike but as fate would have it, he chose football and it was as a 14 year old twinkle-eyed, brown-haired boy that our ‘Scholsey’ first joined the youth ranks at Manchester United and the rest as they say is history. Scholes was going to win every trophy imaginable including  a grand haul of 10 Premier League medals only bettered by good friend and fellow club legend Ryan Giggs.

But for every bit of his legendary status that he truly deserves, it was not always as easy for him. As a young academy kid, he was seen by some as one who wasnt the paciest of players, couldnt tackle and the critics had remarked that he was certainly not a ‘typical’ British player.

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The morning after and where to now United?

Done in by Barca AGAIN!

Less 24 hours ago, most of the Manchester United contingent and the fans were full of optimism and before them stood a chance to claim their fourth European title and for Sir Alex Ferguson to win his 3rd Champions League title matching the likes of Liverpool’s former great Bob Paisley, elevating Sir Alex to heights of unquestionable greatness from the perspective of Man United fans and rivals alike.

Forward to little less than 24 hours and the optimism, excitement and the underlying confidence has been cruelly replaced by unending disappointment and despair of having lost to Barcelona again for the second time in 3 years in a European final. The disappointment of having been battered by Barcelona again, the ignominy of having repeated the mistakes of Rome ‘09 and having to climb up those uncountable stairs to get your loser’s medal despite having been one step from glory. United had finished second best again, and as Shankly famously once said, “If you’re first, you are FIRST, if you’re second, you’re nothing”. United have to strive to ensure that they don’t let this happen, to rise and come back to challenge for continental glory again.

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