Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boys Being (Little) Boys

If any of you watched the Newcastle v. Spurs match on Monday night, you'd be hard-pressed to believe anything Martin Jol says, especially when he claims that he and Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov aren't having problems. Perhaps upset at being named a substitute, DB had to be told three times to warm up before he got off the bench, and slowly at that. Once stretching, he looked to be halfheartedly going through the motions, while displaying a slightly miffed look of boredom on his face.

I could be wrong, reading something on his face that wasn't there, but the normally smooth and graceful striker didn't seem to play with much conviction. And can you blame him? A handful of long balls up to him, all alone up front? Spurs probably played about five minutes of clever soccer, but you can tell that Tottenham's lack of form, a previously-successful manager on his way out, and lack of any defensive shape has gotten the team down. Talk about giving up easily. I understand they miss Ledley King, but with the talent on this squad expectations are far from being met or even sniffed from afar. I used to think it was just a lack of a defense and a dodgy keeper, but with Marcus Bent, Berbatov, Aaron Lennon and the ever-tracking back Robbie Keane, you'd expect a lot more goals to go with all the ones they leak in.

Future so Dim for boss Jol [The Sun]

Mad Jens Lehmann is feeling the cold after being shunned by Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger. After two blunder-filled first matches for the club, Lehmann was pulled for Manuel Almunia, and since then the Spaniard hasn't been bad, giving up only four in ten matches. Lehmann's decided to pressure Wenger in the press, and up until now it's been little digs on Almunia here or there, or an obvious concern over keeping his Germany spot despite not playing between the sticks for his club. Here's the latest from Jens:

"It's possible that some day I'll feel like talking about the whole issue . . . But at the moment I'm just swallowing it all as part of the humiliation. That's something one has to take in. But I think -- and this is aimed at my dear manager -- one shouldn't humiliate players for too long."

I think Lehmann is perhaps one of the best keepers out there, and he's been instrumental in so many instances for Arsenal. But, being with Wenger as long as he has, it seems a bit stupid to go around publicly warning your manager, especially since the gaffer can't seem to do any wrong in the press at the moment (until he drops points to Reading). Listen Jens, you're 37. And a temper mental fool with a pretty high opinion of yourself. Given all that AW's done in the last two years, and all that the squad's lost (Robert Pires, Theirry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg), do you think he really believes he needs you? Just not having you between the sticks means Arsenal won't leak in another set piece goal because you decide to foul an opposing defender, a bigger detriment, in my opinion, than Almunia's lack of trophies.

Lehmann warns Wenger not to 'humiliate' him any longer [Guardian Football]

Can't we all just get along? Players and managers, that is. After being subbed off in the 70th minute of the Merseyside derby, Steven Gerrard has apparently made up with Rafa Benitez:

“I’m a local lad so the derby is really important to me and I would have liked nothing better than to play the full game and to be on the pitch when we got the winner.But as it turned out I was taken off and Lucas Leiva who replaced me played a crucial role in us getting the winning goal.I was hurt and disappointed at being taken off because, like I said, I’m a local lad and the derby means everything to me.”

Nothing of the above smacks of a spoonfed quote. No way, not at all. I'm not psychoanalyst, but the fact that only one short sentence confirms that Rafa's substitution may have been a wise one. The remainder of the quote is simply how much he values the derby because, if you didn't know, he's a local lad. Get over it Stevie. Who do you think you are, Jens Lehmann?

Liverpool’s Rafa Benitez and Steven Gerrard Kiss And Make Up… For Now [Caught Offside]

And finally, what is it with keepers? They're almost as bad as strikers, if not worse. Celtic keeper and Polish international, Artur Boruc, apparently doesn't shake hands with people he doesn't care for. That's a novel idea, if not unrealistic, since the world basically revolves around fake smiles and hollow handshakes. Money quote:

"I felt some pain in my fingers and I was afraid of my tendon, of getting injured . . . But, to be honest with you, I just don't shake hands with people I don't like. There is no obligation to do it."

Well, my fingers hurt, so I couldn't shake hands . . . . but now that you mention it, I'm totally against it. It's almost like he had to convince himself of his feelings (Rangers play too physical) throughout the interview. Can you imagine Lehmann, Boruc and Dida sitting around a table in a pub, lamenting how hard it is to be a keeper?


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