Tag Archives: expectations

The Yin and Yang of El Clásico

Football is a game of balance. The pitch is divided in equal halves; teams of equal number attack and defend in a positional tug of war, which returns to the centre after every goal. At the end of a match one team wins, one loses (or if not, then they share the points). In order to play there is a basic physical requirement to keep upright (or as Ray Wilkins succinctly puts it: ‘Stay on Your Feet!’), without which the game becomes meaningless. Last night’s Champion’s League semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid was a game that reminds us of balance; that ‘for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction’. For every scintillating match that can be played, there is always an abomination waiting around the corner.

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The Best Laid Schemes of Mice and Men Go Often Askew

Inevitably, in the aftermath of Arsenal’s utterly preposterous draw-snatched-from-the-jaws-of-victory against Liverpool (not to be confused with the utterly preposterous draw against Newcastle in February), the teeth-gnashing, finger-pointing and post-mortems have begun. Despite still being mathematically able to win the Premier League, a déjà vu depression has settled across blogs and fan forums, as it has the last few years. Yet Arsenal fans should steel their jaws and try to enjoy the comedy of errors for what it is – pure sports entertainment. Watching Arsenal the last two months may not be conducive to holding a full pint, reducing swear-box contributions, or keeping your TV screen clear of embedded debris; but these trials and tribulations will make the inevitable moment of triumph that much sweeter.

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Restoring a Reputation

Think, think about it

Last Sunday marked the return of Roy Hodgson, swinging his leg over the saddle at The Hawthorns and taking the reins at West Bromich Albion, as they bid to avoid relegation. He returns to Premier League management just over a month after being relieved of his duties at Liverpool. Hodgson now faces the dual task of ensuring the Baggies remain in the league, whilst also attempting to repair his damaged reputation, following his turbulent time as the Reds’ boss.

Following last year’s league campaign with Fulham it seemed Hodgson could do no wrong and was voted the LMA Manager of the Year for his achievements. However, during the intervening eight months he has undergone a media metamorphosis from Kindly Uncle Woy, to a bumbling Mr. Bean character. It has been a cruel deconstruction of a solid coaching career.

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Hopes & Expectations: January Frontmen

The January transfer window was defined by clubs throwing caution, and sack loads of used fifty pound notes, to the wind. So what did all that money buy and what can reasonably be expected from the top five wallet-emptying forwards?

Darren Bent, Aston Villa (cost £18m, rising to £24m)

Expectation: Four key goals. Villa are just five points clear of relegation and still twelve from the safety of forty points, which adds up to four key wins. If Bent can provide vital goals to get those wins he’s paid for his transfer fee. Simple. A winning goal against Fulham at home on Saturday would be a great start.
Hope: Another fifteen goals to match his tally from last season would make him the bargain of the window (if he’s not already). Ideally, he could also bring the best out of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Gabby Agbonlahor. A new England front four?

Fernando Torres, Chelsea (cost a cool £50m)

Expectation: Stay fit, stay in form and stay classy (less of the ‘I’m at a big club now’ talk). If Torres can continue to look like the recently invigorated player, scoring three in his last four games, Chelsea could well threaten a late title tilt, or at least a serious run in the European Cup. However, if he starts challenging Nicolas Anelka for most infantile strop, watch out Blues’ fans.
Hope: If he can score another eleven, bringing his season total to twenty, he could effectively force Didier Drogba and Anelka to move on at the end of the season, leaving him as heir apparent to the new free-spending Chelski. Roll on the roubles.

Luis Suarez, Liverpool (cost £22.8m)

Expectation: Though scoring for fun in the Dutch Eredivisie (81 goals in 110 games, since 07/08 with Ajax), Liverpool fans may want to consider Dirk Kuyt also had a similarly impressive scoring record there before his move to the Reds (71 goals in 101 games over three years with Feyenoord). Perhaps expectations should be as modest as settling into the team quickly and offering to work hard, something Kuyt knows well. Oh, and don’t bite anyone.
Hope: That unlike Kuyt, Suarez can actually hit a barn door from six yards and scores some goals. Torres accounted for almost a third of Liverpool’s league goals so far; what better way to make the Kop forget about it’s Spanish fling than matching that.

Edin Džeko, Manchester City (cost £27m)

Expectation: Make an impact on the first eleven. Not earth-shattering, but plenty of forwards have tried and failed at City in recent years. With such a rotating squad and fluid tactics, ‘The Lamppost’ (‘Kloc’ back home in Bosnia) will do well to keep in first team consideration and better that next season.
Hope: That he develops into the perfect foil for Carlos Tevez. He appears to have a great first touch (see his assist against Wolves on his debut) and already scored in the FA Cup. If he can strike up an understanding with the wee Argentinean, his name might be guaranteed second on the team sheet.

Andy Carroll, Liverpool (cost £35m)

Expectation: What do you expect from a 22 year old who’s halfway through a decent debut season in the Premier League and suddenly becomes the club record signing? A bit of humility might be a start. The price was mental, but mitigating circumstances were involved. But not many Liverpool fans will be excited to hear him say he didn’t want to leave Newcastle.
Hope: That he can somehow justify the outlay; be it in assists, goals, or simply avoiding Liverpool Crown Court for a while. He may also want to watch where he parks his Range Rover.