Saturday, February 23, 2008

Manchester Versus Newcastle

Man U 5 Newcastle 1

Newcastle have two wonderful wingers in James Milner and Damien Duff. Milner more so than Duff, as he was cutting and turning marvelously at times, only to not shoot when he should have and then missing out on the his intended target when he did cross. He’d set himself up with a fake cross or cut back—the defender sliding past him, but fail to truly make something happen.

On the other end, for Manchester United, they have a little known player called Cristiano Ronaldo, and with one cut back and cross, he was able to pick out Rooney free and clear at the far post for an easy tap in volley with the inside of his foot. One zero to Man U. Ronaldo burst down the line and then cut the ball back sharply and served a perfect ball to Rooney.

Manchester seemed to have a bit more bite, decisive when they were going to goal, and winning the fifty fifty balls when they were on the defensive end.

Newcastle, with two former Manchester United players in the midfield, the red haired Nicky Butt, although he’s got less and less of the red hair now and he’s currently has the most yellow cards in the EPL. And then the white haired Allen Smith, who’s not afraid of getting a few yellow cards here and there either. Both appeared understandably frustrated, as they get used to playing on a losing side.

Along with the bite, there’s a bit more of a click ability within the Manchester United side, players know where one another are, whether that’s just good football or they’re a team that’s begun to gel, but they knew where their teammates were running and exchanged the ball with a certain seamlessness. Click. Click. Click. Goal.

As one of the announcers of the game on Fox Soccer Channel said:

There’s no jealousy. They all want one another to score. When you’re with a top club, it’s all about the team.
Early on in the first half, before Manchester United got their first goal, Michael Owen was setting up for a volley, in clean and one on one with the keeper, only to have Rio Ferdinand get his leg in to break it up and tumble Owen over. There was no call, but it could have been a penalty. Ferdinand did unbalance Owen enough to warrant a call. But there have been much worse no calls, Rio did get a piece of the ball as he stuck out his leg.

Later, Michael Carrick charged forward on the dribble and stroked a through ball along the pitch as Ronaldo zipped past and behind his defender. He raced on the well weighted ball and was one on one with the keeper, slotting the ball home easily. The play was a bit of a counter attack, straight up the throat of the defense, and an early ball and great run by Ronaldo made for a smart goal for Man U. 2-0.

When you’re near the bottom of the table, stuck in thirteenth place as Newcastle is, momentum is hard to hold on to, especially when you’re down two goals at the half.

It was more of the same in the second half.

Another through ball to Ronaldo, he touched the ball around the on rushing defender and scored his second. 3-0 Man U.

Newcastle was able to pull a goal back by way of a pile up after a missed header (the free ball smashed home) but late goals from Rooney (a superb bending ball into the upper corner) and a Saha strike near the penalty spot put the total to 5 for Man U an 1 for Newcastle. The title chase is still on as Arsenal could only come up with a draw.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Milan Versus Arsenal

AC Milan 0 Arsenal 0

Pato, the eighteen year old new prodigy for AC Milan, got his first start in the Champions League. He is fast and had a few clever touches early on, flicking the ball over a defender to take a shot. He looked sharp and tough, as he held the ball up for the club, but went off late with a calf cramp, it looked like.

Kaka constantly pushed forward with every touch, there’s no hesitation with him. He’s simply a dazzling player and AC Milan could have notched a counter attack winner. Arsenal held most of the position, and had a few near misses. Shooting the ball directly at the keeper, their team lacks a clinical finisher. They’re top of the league in England but if they had someone who could finish, they’d be unstoppable. That said Emmanuel Adebayor is the leading goal scorer in the EPL. They just create so many scoring chances as is. If they had someone else, or someone else steps up, they could win a lot of trophies.

I love when Arsenal makes the extra pass, but at times that’s exactly what hinders them from scoring. However, I’d rather see them try it, that neat extra pass separates them from all the other teams. When they’re running on all cylinders, those passes produce loads of goals. Momentum and confidence is so much part of soccer. As this team grows and matures, they’ll be even more dangerous. They also just miss a player like Van Persie.

Late in the game, a few seconds left in stoppage time, Emmanuel Adebayor hit the cross-bar after Walcott beat his defender down the line. Walcott had just come on and went directly at the defender, dusting by him.

One player that stood out was Gael Clichy, who they said has interest from Juventus, I can see why. He’s everywhere on the pitch, from defense to the attack, and he’s just a left back.

For some reason, a few fashion bits:

No nifty scarves around the necks of the Italian side even though it looked like a cold night in England. Gloves were worn though, no scarves around the necks as I saw last week on many of the Italian players in their matches. An odd ski like scarf that seemed only appropriate on an Italian pitch. In England, with snow on the ground they probably will just wear short sleeves.

Carlo Ancelotti who's been head coach of AC Milan since 2001, wore a coat with more shiny zippers on it than a young raver, as he looks to repeat as CL champs and add one more Cup to Maldini’s retiring total.

Sadly, Ronaldo was not part of this match, his career most likely over, out for a year at least with another knee injury.


Something that jumped out at me, and is easier said than done, is when coming on to the ball to shoot you have to square your hips towards the goal.

Alex Ferguson, let it slip that Cristiano Ronaldo had a tummy ache and would miss out on a game, and then said he had a bit of diarrhea as well. Seemed a little bit too much information.

AC Milan’s nickname: Rossoneri (Red-Blacks)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nike Inspiration: Becoming Legendary

When you talk about inspiring commercials, you might think of some of the now almost legendary Nike ads. Ads that are normally at a slow pace, with few words and powerful music. They’re the epitome of the combination of good art—words, music and images combined to make a point or tell a story. Nike has been consistent in their out pouring of inspiring commercials, from Just Do It to Michael Jordan's classy ads. The Nike ads are less ads then an idea or concept, a way or plan.

The ads don't make me want to run out and buy Nike gear, and I like Nike gear, but they do make me want to do something, put some work in so to speak. Get better at whatever it is I'm doing.