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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saying goodbye (for now) to Joao Plata

Well the news became official that fan favourite Joao Plata is returning to Ecuador on loan & will not feature again for TFC this season. It's a bittersweet moment for me, & I suspect many of you as well. He was clearly a favourite & Aron Winter's & I still had yet to comprehend how he would fit into Paul Mariner's more conventional tactic arrangement, or if he even could. In addition, it was beoming evident that other teams around MLS were beginning to figure the kid out. Plata is hardly a commonplace soccer player. Only 5'2, him making it to the pros was a case of beating very long odds, let alone play as well as he did last year. Once adjustments had been made by the opposition, namely in playing Plata quite physically, adapting to these challenges were always going to be difficult, especially given his lack of experience.

Still his absence will be keenly felt by Reds fans. Plata, in the short time he graced BMO Field, became one of the most popular & beloved players in the history of Toronto FC. We loved his boundless energy, unceasing work rate & considerable charisma. All this without even mentioning his tangible contributions to the club. His clutch goals in the CCL, including the memorable dagger thru the hearts of FC Dallas which earned advancement into the knockout stages of the competition, as well as his MVP performance in last year's Canadian Championship.

He leaves Toronto behind with many great memories, but in all honesty this is a smart move for him. Young players, especially one with as much upside as Plata, needs constancy & stability in order to properly mature & realize their full potential. TFC has hardly been a bulwark of stability this year & is more likely to find it back in his old stomping ground. So we say adios to Platita & say thanks for all he did for Toronto FC. Hopefully we will get to meet up with him again in the not too distant future.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Comparing & Contrasting Winter & Mariner

To those Toronto FC fans who still doubt the wisdom of dumping Aron Winter for Paul Mariner, allow me to illustrate how beneficial the coaching change has been for the Reds:

Under Winter:

10 League Games: 1W 9L 0D 3 pts 8GF 21 GA -13 GD

       Under Mariner


4 League Games:   1W 1L 2D 5 pts 8 GF 7  GA +1 GD

So in the 4 matches since the coaching change, TFC have more points than they did before Winter was sacked, & scored as many goals. Also notable is that, despite the late game collapses, the average goals conceded per game is lower under Mariner- 1.75 versus 2.1 under Winter, a former defender/holding midfielder.

Say what you want about how Mariner came to be in charge, & despite considering myself to be a full fledged member of Team Mariner, I concede that the relevant events, probably, don't fully pass the smell test, you cannot deny these results. Yes, there is still much work to be done, especially with regards to the leaky back line, but I think it can be said that we are seeing the progress we've all been hungry for from our club.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Count von Count with a few thoughts about the Impact's attendance

He must have had fun last nite, all that was missing from this was some thunder & lightning, (which is currently ongoing out my window at the moment)

TFC vs Montreal Recap

Overview: A win! a glorious win!! & a win away from the friendly confines of BMO no less. TFC were almost unrecognizable last nite as they laid a comprehensive beatdown on the Impact 3-0 at Saputo Stadium in their 4th meeting of the season. The match further illustrated the belief of Reds' fans that this was not a 1-9 team, but a team capable of being, at a minimum, the MLS equivalent of a mid-table side.

What went Right: Well what didn't go right last night? Just about everything that could of, did. Those who showed good form since the regime change at BMO, continued it last night. Another stellar games from Messrs. Johnson, Koevermans, scorers of 2 of TFC's 3 goals & Ashtone Morgan, again, dangerous in attack, setting up the Koef with yet another fine cross into the box. Though, it does have to be said, Montreal's defence seemed to have channeled the inner TFC, as they were quite shambolic in defending it. Whatever Mariner has done, whether it is a change in tactics, instilling confidence in his charges, a deal with the devil..., has worked like magic the offence is firing on all cylinders & will need to be, given the Red's next opponents are the Red Bulls Saturday night.

What should be highlighted the most is the play of the much maligned defence. many, myself included, have been aggreived to no end about the piss poor play of the backline, not just recently, but indeed all season long. Last night's clean sheet was, for me, the most satisfying aspect of the victory. This was in spite of it, once again, being a ramshackle grouping of RB Richard Eckersley playing centrally, partnering with the defender formally known as Sideshow Logan, & Jeremy Hall playing out wide right, whom was subbed off at the half after getting kicked in the face by Hassoun Camara. They did nothing spectacular, keeping themselves organized & compact, & effective cleared their lines, which enabled 'keeper Milos Kocic to earn a overdue & much deserved clean sheet.

What Was Even Better: Pity Joey Saputo. Sure, most TFC would take him over the faceless bureaucrats that oversee the team & how they can screw us out of our hard earned money, though it doesn't change the fact that the guy is f'n clown shoes. His reaction on Twitter last night was not unlike a baby who didn't get his bottle on time.

Priceless, guess you could say he was rather cheesed off by the turn of events last night. Wah wah waaaahhh

Man of the Match: Oh captain, my captain. I was worried about his level of fatigue going into the game last night, but Torsten Frings was massive. He earned every dime of his DP paycheck, bossing the midfield, alongside JDG, effectively shutting down a lively & dangerous midfield. Bernier, Warner, & the dangerous Felipe did jack squat, unable to link up & provide service to the Cheeseballs new acquisition, Italian forward Marco Di Vaio, who saw little of the ball for the 55 minutes he was on the pitch in his debut. Add to that, Frings scored his 1st MLS goal on a terrific free kick that went into the top corner of Donovan Ricketts' net, who never had a hope of stopping the shot. A perfect night from our leader

Bottom Line: Just as quickly as fans jumped off the Toronto FC bandwagon, there wll be a stampede to hop back aboard it . Next game will not be easy, though. Going up against a New York side boasting an offence lead by Kenny Cooper, 2nd in league scoring, & that cheating rat bastard Thierry Henry, will pose a daunting challenge for the boys Saturday night. Not many will expect a result, but TFC are in a peculiar position at the moment, they are a team in form & in a positive state of mind. If I were Hans Backe, i'd get henry to start practicing his handballs.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

TFC vs the Impact: Who exactly is the expansion team here?

Overview: Round 4 of the 401 Derby tonite sees the Reds travel for the 1st time to the newly renovated Saputo Stadium to play an Impact side that is have been scoring for fun lately. 8 goals in the last 2 games against quality opposition, is not exactly a reality TFC, with their sieve-like backline, want to go up against. It's a depressing state of affairs to see the first year Montreal side performing so well, as if they've been in MLS for a while now, say 6 seasons. While the cheeseballs may have a clown for an owner, it's obvious to all who see that Toronto FC is the club that most resembles a circus. While I have a low opinion of joey Saputo, at least he has the club's & its fans interests at heart, instead of doing solely what's best for the bottom line. MLSE would be wise to take note, if they would stop pilfer from our pockets for one minute.

What to look for: If tonight's game wasn't signifigent enough to start with, the debut of marquee signing Marco Di Vaio adds some extra spice to proceedings. The former Italian international will kick off his MLS adventure tonight & you have to think he is salivating to make mince meat of the Reds' porous defence. The transfer window has, mercifully, opened today, & Mariner is making all the right noises about bringing in a "Boss" in defence, but he ain't here yet. Expect many of the same old problems for TFC to appear tonight, most notably their inability to counter crosses into the box & set pieces. L'Impact have a number of dead ball specialists, such as captain Davy Arnaud, who will cause havoc with their deliveries into the box.

Another thing to be on the look for is the fatigue factor. The Reds are in the midst of a brutal run of games & you saw Saturday the beginning signs that it's taking a toll on the boys. Mariner appears to be cut from the old school managerial cloth, that you keep on riding the hot hand until it ceases to be. Not sure that that is the smart course of action. I'm not one for the maddening Rafa Benitez-style rotation-for-the-sake-of-rotation approach, but you do need to give your players, even your stars a chance to charge their batteries from time to time. I fear that this tact from Mariner will end up costing us going forward.

Also, for something fun, let's find time during the match to count the number of empty seats at the Cheeseballs new digs. The fact that Saputo Stadium isn't sold out for a game like this is shocking. What does it say about the calibre of fan base that IMFC can't even manage a full house against their biggest rivals. One thing ia obvious, they may have the better teams, but we TFC fans are the superior supporters.

Bottom Line: If both clubs' recent outing are any indication, we should be in for more than a few goals tonight. I guess you could say that it will be a gouda evening for all who watch, The Impact may feel they are the favourites, but they should not expect TFC to make it a brie-eze for them

Final Score: Toronto 2 Montreal 2

Delusional England Supporters need to STFU

It was as predictable, as it is laughable. The usual chorus of indignation from England supporters after the 3 Lions crashed out at the hands of a sterling performance from the Azurri on Sunday brought forth an all too expected torrent of tirades from the boo boys. He's too negative, his style is too old fashioned, he's this, & he's that blah, blah, blah.

The truth many, if not most, England don't wish to hear is that Roy Hodgson did a damn good job with what he had to work with, which wasn't that much. Only taking over 2 months prior to the Euros, Woy of the Wovers had to contend with a slew of injuries to key players like Lampard & Barry & the continuing saga of the John Terry racism scandal & whether or not Rio Ferdinand should have been taken to the tournament, & lest we forget, the reality that the 3 Lions' top player, Rooney, was unavailable for the 1st 2 games of the Euros. He also had little time to help his squad adapt to a new coaching staff &  tactics & methods which for most, were completely unfamiliar with. A tough task, but Hodgson pulled it off, far better than most sensible people believe.

Now i'm not going to sit here & say that Roy was perfect. I do agree with his critics that he got a good deal wrong in the quarterfinal vs Italy. They were waaaaay too cautious to the point of negative for 90, showing not even the slightest bit of offensive ambition & come extra time, England were clearly trying to play for penalties, which certainly made me laugh given their notorious history in shootouts. Then there was the choice of subs. Jordan Henderson on for Scotty Parker was, umm, bizarre, to be as nice as I possibly can. Sunday was a match to forget to be sure.

Keep in mind, though, that it was just 1 game, albeit the most crucial one. In the first 3, however, Hodgson did well. Grinding out a draw against a far more gifted French side was a result most watchers of England would have been quite satisfied with before kickoff. It gave the confidence to go on & put in a tremendous display of determination & fighting spirit, coming from behind to score 2 late goals against Sweden & nick a victory late was one of the best England performances I saw in years. The old England would have folded like a cheap card table & give up, but not Woy's Boys. A workmanlike win in the last game against host Ukraine, took England to the top of the group with 7 points. How many seriously thought that was possible beforehand? All in all it was  a tournament performance worthy of a passing grade & a chance to be given a chance to implement his vision.

While he was not the ideal manager for Liverpool when he came on board, Woy is the right man for the England job at this juncture. England need a major overhaul, not just of the national team, but of how soccer operates in the birthplace of the sport. Simply put, England just aren't that good a side. If their level of talent was equal to their supporters' levels of arrogance & hubris, England would have won the Euros, scoring 4 or 5 every game. Now it looked early on as if England fans finally woke up to the state of the 3 Lions, but by the end of the group stage they were back to familiar habits, believing their boys were the equal of Spain, Germany &  all the other world powers. They most certainly are not. The 2 aforementioned countries are stacked with talent. It is more than realistic that both could field 2 teams better than England, & in Spain's case I believe they could put out a 3rd that is their equal. English clubs are horrible at developing their young players, & need a serious rethink as to how they develop the promising young talent so that, one day, they can stand toe to toes with the Spains & Germany of the world. As it stands, England would get played off the park by them & a number of other countrie, the future is rather bleak without meaningful reforms, which Roy has experience in doing, if he is given a fair chance to do so.

Now some of you will say that as a Liverpool fan, where do I get off defending Hodgson, seeing as how his time at Anfield was a spectacular failure? In my opinion, the deck was stacked against him from the get go & was doomed to failure. He came to the club at a time of great turmoil, as the foundations of it were crumbling under the incompetent stewardship of Hicks & Gillette. The fact the Woy was seen as "their man" was bad enough, but he also had the misfortune of filling the shoes of Rafa, beloved by the Kop to this day. Add in the negative vibe around LFC & the fact he had zero money to spend & was forced to sell players in order to buy & rely on free transfers & no wonder it didn't work out. If anyone thinks for a minute that, if he had access to the sums of cash King Kenny spent during his 2nd spell as manager, he would have bought the likes of Paul Konchesky & Christian Poulsen, then you are quite mistaken.

Bottom line, England fans, it's time to wake up & grow up. You're not the big deal you all seem to think you are. You are not a formidable, all conquering world power, just a middling European nation that has the tendancy to punch above it's weight. It's time to stifle the narcissism & accept the fact that a lot of hard work lies ahead & by not being a constant pain in the arse for the manager & the FA will make that task much easier & be done in an expedited fashion. So for once in our soccer supporting live, shut the f*ck up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Robbie Keane: Pure Class

Saturday night Robbie Keane showed exactly why he has been one of Ireland`s best ever captains. After scoring the 2nd goal in the Galaxy`s 3-0 win over the Whitecaps, Keano ran to LA`s bench to get a jersey emblazoned with the message "RIP James Nolan". It was a gesture that certainly touched the hearts of all Ireland fans, I know it did with this one.

The relevant bit begins around the 2:30 mark

For those who aren't in the know, James Nolan was a 21 year old engineering student & Ireland supporter from County Wicklow that drowned while having travelled to Poland supporting the Boys in Green. His death touched many throughout Ireland, & people around the world. A considerable outpouring of support for his family has followed. His funeral drew the likes of Shay Given, Robbie`s wife Claudine, the FAI chief executive & thousands from his hometown. A wonderful show of unity in the face of tragedy.

Keano's tribute is the kind of class act we've come to expect of Ireland's captain, & one reason why I have been such a fan of his for so long. I am, though, of the opinion that, given the crossroads Ireland finds itself at currently, that he should stand down from the team & allow young blood to step forward, in order for a serious rebuild the Republic is in great need of to be undetaken, given its dire display at Euro 2012.

For more check This & this out

It was a fine moment that followed a fine goal against Vancouver. Great to see Keano finally being able to score in the month of June. Too bad it was in Southern California, & not in Eastern Europe. Ahem.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Toronto vs New England recap

What happened: At the core of the fantastic sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica is the theory of cyclical history, which in the show is summed up effectively by the religion of the show's characters with the following axiom:

  "All of this has happened before & all of this will happen again"

Well Toronto FC sure did its damnedest to see to it that art imitated life. On Wednesday, TFC blew a lead late, thanks to a fatal combination of incompetent defending & a series of highly questionable substitutions from new head coach Paul Mariner that resulted in dropped points for the Reds against the Houston Dynamo, & on Saturday, The Reds blew a lead late, thanks to a fatal combination of incompetent defending, & a series of highly questionable substitutions from new head coach Paul Mariner that resulted in dropped points for the Reds against the New England Revolution. Both results lead to Reds fans letting out a collective scream from the tops of our frustrated lungs.

What went right: The maddening mindfrak ending to the game has caused the positives of Toronto, of which there were a decent amount of, that were on display against the Revs to have been somewhat obscured. However they must be highlighted.

First off, spare a thought for poor Milos Kocic. Our keeper more than did his fair share to put Toronto in a winning position. Both of the goals he conceded can, in no way, be blamed on him. To borrow a hockey analogy, he stood on his head for the 90 & will be very hard done by to not get a clean sheet, let alone a W. Facing a barrage of 10 Revolution shots on target that went unanswered by TFC, Milos met them head on, making numerous highlight reel saves, the kind of which would be the equal of any you would find by the best of the world. He has been a rock this year between the posts, but alas, he is only one man. Kocic cannot be expected to do it all by himself.

Secondly, there's Ashtone Morgan. The young LB had, beyond a shadow of a doubt, his best game of the season Saturday. A constant threat going forward, the young Canadian international recorded the assists on both of the Reds' 2 goals, delivering a pair of fine crosses to enable Ryan Johnson & Danny Koevermans to find the back of the net, & nearly scored one himself just after the start of the 2nd half driving the ball just  bit outside after a stellar end to end run. He still needs to work on the defensive aspect of his game, but of the 4 defender on for the late game collapse, he was perhaps the least culpable.

As well, the switch to the more standard 4-4-2 system is seeing the blossoming of an effective strike partnership of aforementioned RJ & Koev. Koevermans followed up his brace vs the Dynamo with his 6th of the season & RJ has rediscovered his early season form, netting TFC's 2nd of the day. The 2 worked extremely well together, their individual strengths perfectly complementing the others. They also benefited from linking up with Eric Avila. The young MF who was, inexplicably, used much too infrequently by Aron Winter for my taste, has made the most of his opportunity under Paul Mariner, was effective in leading the charge from MF & showed why so many have regarded him as one of the most underrated players in MLS in  recent years. While the lack of depth remains a problem needing to be addressed once the transfer window opens, much of TFC's offence appear to be getting sorted out, if the last 2 games are any indication.

What Went Wrong: If the offence is beginning to sort itself out, TFC's defence remains the notorious hot mess we've come to know this season. Once Frings & JDG, who again had another DP contract-worthy performance, the back line fell apart as it did in Houston 72 hours prior. When the most experienced member of your back 4 happens to be Richard Eckersley, you are going to have problems. Shape & composure disappeared & chaos reigned & New England pounced & earned a point that they really did not deserve, when you considered how poor they were for the 1st 65 minutes of the game. Reds fans mustn't just hope, but flat out demand, defensive reinforcements this year. We must not, in any way, shape or form, see Sideshow Logan again take to the pitch for the Reds, he is quite simply not good enough & had no business whatsoever being out there in crunch time.

With that said, as much as we can criticize Emory's play, & rightly so, we cannot overlook how he even got on the pitch in the 1st place. Paul Mariner, again, must be condemned for his poor choice of substitutions. Now I can understand the logic of why he chose to sub off Julian, & Frings. The team is in the midst of a diabolical run of matches from now until the end of July and, with the big match against the Impact mid-week, he wanted to give his stars a rest, which they certainly deserved. If the team had sufficient replacement on the bench to make this work, it'd be praised, but to take off your team's 2 most important leaders, the players who maintain order & focus on the pitch for an attacking winger & a crap defender, the head coach must be raked over the coals. Mariner should have learned from what happened & not repeated the same lapse in judgement.

Man of the Match: For me, it was between Kocic & Morgan & I decided to select Kocic, if for no other reason than out of pity. He delivered, dare I say it, a world class performance in goal & was let down by a defence far too inferior than his efforts merit.

Bottom Line: Defence may not get you points, but it can bloody well cost you. The offence stirring to life & players operating in a system in which they can thrive & perform well in is genuine cause for optimism, but until the defence is sorted out, once & for all, Toronto FC's season will continue to resemble a BSG episode & will drop points again, and again, and again, and again...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hope at Last for TFC?

Well Wednesday night sure was fun, wasn't it? In a thrill-a-minute game vs Houston that, in all honesty, Toronto FC should have won, if only Paul Mriner didn't make the bone-headed decision to take off Julian De Guzman, who for me was TFC's man of the match, for an attacking midfielder with 20 minutes to go. It was a deflating end to an otherwise promising evening that saw many positives from which the team can build upon.

The aforementioned JDG was a monster in the middle of the pitch, continuing his form of recent weeks which validated the DP contract he was awarded 3 years ago. He was effective in shutting down the Dynamo attack, & delivered an excellent cross in to Danny Koevermans that enabled him to bag his 1st goal of the night. Speaking of the Dutchman, it was indeed a welcome sight to see him netting a brace. It has been quite frustrating to see our well compensated striker so ineffective, even downright disinterested at times, no player on the team more symbolized the ills of the clubs the Koevermans. I can hope that if this is the first glimpse of a revitalized Danny 2.0, it is also a harbinger of things to come for TFC. Special mention must also be made of Terry Dunfield. The never before seen offensive prowess he displayed gave Houston fits. I personally cannot recall a more effective performance from someone playing out in a wide position for Toronto FC. The way Terry challenged the defenders was very good & delivered excellent balls into the box that gave plenty for Houston to deal with. These factors, & many more caused some emotions to stir inside of me, a long suffering TFC fan, something I hadn`t felt in a long time & surprised that the bitter ending didn`t dissipate..


Now I know what some of you will say, especially those amongst the ranks of the perpetually pissed off who look for any itty bitty reason to dump on TFC, MLSE, the Illuminati, whoever, to vent their frustrations about the state of affairs surrounding the Reds. Hey I share those criticisms, I will be among the first to rejoice if the day comes the powers that be come to see the light & send Tom Anselmi packing, but if you are looking for snide, sour, snarky putdowns of the club, I would encourage you to seek out either of these fine gentlemen. I promise, you will an abundance of it from those two, their seemingly endless supply of bitterness will sustain you. I am more of a glass half-full type of fella, though hopefully not to the point of delusion. I wish to believe in the optimism I saw on Wednesday night. Now sure, the defence is still shambolic, their efforts at combatting crosses & set piece plays were absolutely shambolic, no glossing things over there, but the  transfer window opens up in less than 2 weeks, & you can be damn sure that Mariner & Co are aggressively seeking out new blood for the backline. TFC is not a 1-9-1 side, & it is not a stretch to assume that a capable centre back partnership could have a resounding impact on the team`s fortunes. My reasoning is that with the midfielders & strikers playing a system that they are actually capable of playing, & a head coach that is far more pragmatic than his predecessor, things can & I suspect & certainly hope, it`s onwards & upwards for TFC.

However we will not have to wait long to see if my theory will hold up. The Reds play Paul Mariner`s former employer, New England, later on Saturday It is an eminently more winnable match than the previous 2 were. At the friendly confines of BMO, against an overachieving Revs side thatwhileshowing signs of promise, is still very much in the throes of a rebuilding process, trying to recapture their past glories, is a match that Toronto is quite capable of getting a result from, & we, the fans, should be disappointed if they do not succeed in do so. The effort in Texas is something that can be built upon & today is the perfect opportunity to do so. So, boy & girls, we will see if our hopes are justified, or if, as so many times before this year, our hopes are about to be horribly crushed by another lacklustre, underachieving TFC display. I tend not to think so today.

Prediction: TFC 2 Revs 1

Friday, June 22, 2012

WTF Robbie??

Methinks Robbie Keane has spent just a little too much time around Beckham, cuz it seems that he has acquired good ol' Beck's questionable taste in hairstyles

Rather dire if you ask me, course i'm hardly one to be given critiques on one's physical appearance.You know what's sad about all this is? It's that this is the most notable & impactful thing Robbie Keane has done the whole month of June, & he did it when he went back to the Galaxy (his boyhood club I hasten to add =p). An Ireland cannot help it if he is left to scratch his head.

But on a brighter note, also came across this fine article on the man in question, worth a read.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Euro 2012 Best XI of the Group Stage

For what it's worth I may as well jump on the bandwagon & make my own picks for the team of the tournament up until now:

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (ESP)

Defender: Daniele De Rossi (ITA) Pepe (POR) Theodor Gebre Selassie (CZE)

Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (ENG) Keith Andrews (IRE) Andrea Pirlo (ITA) Karl Jiracek (CZE) Bastian Schweinsteiger (GER)

Forwards: Mario Gomez (GER) Alan Dzagoev (RUS)


- Casillas, Gomez, Schweinsteiger & Pirlo are all no brainers for the way they've played. All have been massive

- I cannot remember Stevie G playing as well as he has, been quite a long time & it is indeed a welcome sight for all Liverpool supporters like myself. He has been a force for England, despite playing in a far deeper role than he is ideally suited for.  He's assisted on 3 of England's 5 goals so far, including a perfectly placed cross that Andy Carroll's headed home. Certainly hoping this is a harbinger of big things from the captain this year.

- For the record, I put Keith Andrews in my team as he was Ireland's best player, & I wanted at least 1 Irishman in the team. Andrews was one of two, the other being Sean St. ledger, that put in a worthy performance for the Republic at the Euros, & should be recognized.

- Defence was kind of a crap shoot, very little separating the best performance at the tournament so far. Pepe is not a particular person. I think he's an SOB personally, but he has been uncharacteristically histrionic-free, which has given us the opportunity to appreciate the world  class talent that he is. Been Portugal's best player of the Euros so far.

- De Rossi play has been magnificent, but when you consider that he is playing out of position, as he is a natural holding midfielder, it puts him in an even more remarkable light. Was massive in the game vs Ireland, the biggest thorn in the side of the Boys in Green

- Gebre Selassie has been a revelation. Been rock solid on defence, often going up against his opponent's best midfielders, & shutting them down. He's also been a factor on offence, setting up the winning goal for the Czech's in their triumph over Greece. He currently plays in the Czech league, but I suspect clubs in bigger leagues will be lining up to acquire his services after the Euros.

All in all a talented team, if somewhat biased in favour of my guys, but screw it, this is who I thought belonged on here. Hope you liked it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's Groundhog Day again for TFC fans

In the classic comedy movie, Groundhog Day, Bill Murray is trapped in a time loop, living the 2nd of February over & over again, stuck in what he viewed as a living hell, the same tedious events playing out again & again. We Toronto FC fans can certainly relate.

Since the the past weekend, Reds supporters have dealt with a succession of dismal days of negativity surrounding the team. Saturday saw TFC put in a dire performance against the beasts of the east, Sporting Kansas City, then the ensuing fallout from the game on Sunday. Then things went from bad to worse, with news that Miguel Aceval, Luis Silva & Nick Soolsma were all arrested for public intoxication & subsequently sent home by the club for their actions. This meant we had to put up with the embarrassment this brought to the club, & the sad realization Toronto FC has become the laughingstock of all of Major League Soccer. Today, as if having to deal with an impending match tonight against Houston in their brand spanking news stadium, which has quickly turned into a fortress, words has come out, courtesy of the ever reliable MLS Rumors that fan fave Joao Plata, may soon be heading back to Ecuador. Not much of a stretch to assume that this promising young talent is fed up with the shit show at the club.

One cannot help but wonder what lies ahead in the coming days. While I & most other Reds fans are ever optimistic (what other choice do we have?),  it's a reasonable bet to make that we will when we wake up tomorrow morning, it will be to the aftermath of yet another TFC defeat. The Dynamo are a solid team & should dispose of the Reds with comfort, 2-0 is my prediction for the record. We will once again wondering what we can do to change things.

This is where our experience deviates from that of Murray's character, Phil Connors. In the move, Connors comes to the realization of his situation, courtesy of his love interest Rita. Instead of seeing this as punishment, Phil comes around to accepting his circumstance as an opportunity for self-improvement & he makes the most of it, with the requisite Hollywood happy ending. As much as we TFC supporters make want to better our plight, we have little power to affect things. that ultimately lies with MLSE, & the man who oversees the club, one Tom Anselmi.

So long as that incompetant dolt is still pulling the strings, or perhaps more accurately not giving a rat's hairy ass about TFC, the club will remain adrift & fans quite despondent. I don't know about any of you, but I think i'm gonna hit the snooze button tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This is not fantastic

Lots of rumours & pictures floating around online about Liverpool's yet to be announced third kit. I don't know if this is it, but I pray to whatever God that will answer my prayer that it is not this abomination:

This would set a dire new low in kit design if true, although I am having a hard time believing it would be the case. Looking at it, though, I began to wonder where on Earth whoever designed this, got the idea in the first place. Then it dawned on me, it was from watching this guy:

A Whovian with a little too much time on their hands cmust have said " I know, let's make a kit based on Colin Baker's absurdly over the top costume from Doctor Who!", best answer I can come up with. So hopefully Warrior will come out with an official announcement as to what the kit will be & make like the Daleks, & exterminate this deplorable kit. It can come... not a moment too soon.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Playing for Pride

Kickoff approaches for the final appearance of the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2012. What had promised to be a positive experience for the Boys in Green, another trademark overachieving display, fuelled by grit, graft & heart, has turned out to be anything but.  2 disappointing, lopsided losses to opponents that vastly outclassed them, not to mentioned the not at all unexpected broadsides from Roy Keane, has meant the team's excursion to eastern Europe will result in a vast disappointment & nothing tangible left to play for on this final matchday.

Except one thing, pride the boys still have that to play for. One final occasion to showcase their skills, one final occasion to play before the world, one final occasion to give the fans long journey to Poland a tangible takeaway. For 3 of the 4 halves already played, Ireland have been anything but what we've come to expect, even demand. They've played limp, almost lifeless for 75% of their match action so far, it's time for them to actaully show up & play the way we all know they are capable of Sure it will be tough against italy, but some key things to remember. Firstly, this addition of the Azurri is a far cry from the teams of yesteryear. There are glaring holes for them to exploit in this side, no to mention combustible personalities just waiting to explode.

There's also the storyline that has been drawing much attention in the buildup to the tournament, Trapattoni taking on his homeland, whom he managed at the Euros 8 years ago. Will the former manager of the Italian National Team get one over his former charges? will the master school the student, in this case current boss Cesare Prandelli, yet again. Trap is unbeaten in 3 against Italy, with the last match being a win in a friendly last year. Can he do it once again, & knock out Italy in the process? I have no doubt Trap is taking this match seriously & will have ireland well prepared for the task at hand

I'm thinking they will pull it off today, & pull off a 1-0 win, just like they did in 1994 & wouldn't ya know, it's the 18th anniversary of that famous win today! Destiny anyone?

Put Up or Shut Up Mr. Keane

As if being badly outplayed in the first 2 games of Euro 2012 wasn't bad enough, Ireland has had to contend with the latest verbal grenade from their wayward son, one Roy Keane. The mouthy malcontent, unimpressed with his former squad, launched into a tirade on ITV after Ireland``s defeat to Spain, then  chose to double down & flung the following pieces off the chip on his shoulder in a column he wrote Sunday:

About Kevin Doyle: A couple of years ago Kevin Doyle was linked to Arsenal. Now he’s heading back to the Championship.

About Stephen Hunt: Stephen Hunt has been relegated three times in five years.

On the Veteran`s that have formed the core of the team for the last decade:  “Picked every game as they have a big reputation. A reputation for what? They hadn’t qualified for anything in 10 years.”

And the Coup de Grace, he doubles down & has another go at the fans: It’s great that they back the team during and before games — but should they really stay on long after the final whistle cheering? 

Now let me try to be fair to Keane in a manner he most certainly hasn't been to the Boys in Green & us who support them. The underlying intent of his remarks, are something I do agree with. For years Roy has been going around saying to Ireland supporters that they have a right to expect & demand more from their national side, that simply showing up, putting a shift in & being grateful that you`re at a major tournament finals is not enough. Ireland are capable of aiming for a high standard & tired excuses are not good enough. Secondly, he is right to criticize Trap for not giving the young players more of a chance during his tenure. The fact that James McClean is not even going to start in what is, from an Irish point of view, a meaningless runout, is borderline criminal. Neglecting the promising future Ireland has in its youth in favour of tired, worn out veterans is doing the side a huge disservice. Furthermore, he is also right to condemn Trapattoni for his failed management at these Euros & question if he is just living off of past glories. He picks the squad, trains them & prepares the tactics. On all 3 counts, the manager has failed, quite miserably so I regret to say.

However, it`s hard to take seriously this man`s criticism, no matter how valid or apt it may be when it`s coated in such a thick layer of bitterness & bile. Where the hell does Roy gawdamn Keane get off slagging the fans who've made the journey all the way to Poland to support the boys, & have done so in a manner that has lifted the spirits of the team, the country & all of us fortunate enough to be of Irish blood. The pride & devotion to the team & country has been the envy & admiration of the entire world & has reminded all supporters of all sports teams what it means to be a proper fan.

Keane thinks that this is blind devotion, or as he so colourfully described it a ‘win, lose, we’re on the booze’ mentality. This is not blind devotion Mr. Keane, but clear headed realism that Ireland, both, was drawn in a very difficult group against top class opposition & also, this is a side very fortunate to even make it to the Euros in the first place, something the Republic`s former captain was never able to lead his side to I may add. Keane may think the fans`display on Thursday was daft & foolish, but I would say to him that one can be focused & determined to succeed at the task at hand without sacrificing joy in their hearts & having some fun. Quite surprising he is also so down on strong fan support, didn't he heap scorn & derision on the `Prawn Sandwich Brigade' that makes up such a huge part of the fanbase at Old Trafford, which showed what he deemed to be indifference towards the exploits of Manchester United while he was thereÉÉ What`s changed Roy?

The bottom line, boys & girls, is that it`s high bloody time for Roy Keane to put up or shut up. He has stewed on the sidelines, shooting his yap off about, what he sees, are the inadequacies of the Irish national team ever since he high-tailed it for home from Saipan 10 years ago. It's time for him to man up & do something about it. I certainly am of the opinion that Trapattoni should be shown the door after tomorrow's game for the poor performance of the side at this tournament and, logically, a new manager will be needed. I think good ol' Keano should step forward, grab the bull by the horns & demand that he be made the next manager of the national team. He appears to be brimming with ideas & ways to move the program forward, this would be his big shot. He's not going to be able to do anything about what ails Ireland in his eyes sitting around a TV studio, putting the fear of God into Adrian Chiles, though it is a rather useful pursuit I must say ;) So come on Keano, man up. You've never been afraid of taking on all comers, step up now, Ireland needs up.

Not that I expect him to do so. Seems Roy Keane stopped being the player I so admired when he hung up his boots. Seems he hung up his balls too...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Back to Life Back to Reality with TFC

The last 3 weeks have been like a dream, a wonderful Euro 2012, filled with quality matches & high drama. Also, we've have had the quite plesant surprise of seeing our men's nationa team get off to a promising beginning, claiming 4 of a possible 6 points playing disciplined & focused soccer, which is something we Canada fans are unacustomed to from our boys. It has been wonderful but, like all dreams, we awaken from them. Well the alarm is going off & it's back to reality.

Toronto FC returns tonight.

If you are a Reds fans, you are desparatly reaching for that snooze button, trying to get a few more minutes of blissful unconsciousness, unwilling to embrace to cold, hard reality of the matter at hand. I find it's much like the reaction I had waking up on the first day of school, or when I had one brutal hangover. You don't want to face the day but, alas, we must. TFC needs our support friends, they are in a tough bind & need all that they can get. Now many of you, or many others you may kniow, are undoubtedly wringing their hands, sighing, saying 'why should I care? TFC hasn't given any reason to stick with them. I think we can call bullshit on this line of reasoning. I think the fine folks who sang Fields of Athenry with immense pride in Poznan on Thursday despite Ireland being completely destroyed by Spain, showed all fans in every sport how supporters should conduct themselves in difficult times.

Not that it's easy, mind you, staying loyal to this club in particular, given it's dubious existence. Euro & World Cup qualifying have dulled the impact of yet another shambolic chapter in Toronto FC history, the firing of Aron Winter. Personally, i'm not the least bit sad to see him go. His tactical naivete, poor personnel moves, & stubborn insistence on stick with his 4-3-3 system no matter the cost, his gotten the club into a deep deep hole this it will not likely not get out of this year, meaning it will be 6 seasons & still no playoffs.  A change was long overdue, no matter how half-assed the change was handled .(thank you Tom Anselmi)
What do we expect from Paul Mariner? No one can be 100% certain until TFC take to the pitch tonight against Sporting KC, but from what we saw during his time with New England, in partnership with Stevie Nicol, we should see a more convetional, if less glamourous 4-4-2 that should help address the most glaring problem the Reds have had this season, their porous defence. The more traditional, English-style system will mean the backline will not be exposed as often as the midfield will not be so aggressive in pressing the attack. Speaking of the offence, I have to say that I rather like the concept of a Johnson/Koevermans strike partnership, they've differing styles compliments the other well & has a chance to be one of the more productive pairings in MLS. Most importantly, though, Paul Mariner is a pragmatist, he understands MLS,  what his players are capable of doing & what their limitations are. He will not be forcing a bunch of square pegs into round holes, the players will be very familiar with Mariner's way off doing things, & have the skill set to pull it off.

All of this is eerily familar I know,  but another tired refrain must be trotted out as well, that fans must show patience with these changes, at least in the immediate future. The next 2 games on the road against SKC & Houston will see TFC in tough against, arguably, the class of the East. If they get anything out of these next 2 games, will be seen as a big positive. in the long run, these changes should work out. Paul Mariner understands this league, & understands, unlike Aron Winter, you have to play the hand you've been dealt, & craft a system that suits the skill set of the players currently at your disposal, then modify the system gradually over time, bringing in players higher in quality that will take the team to new heights. People, Toronto FC may not be world beaters, but this sure as hell is not a 1-9 team. Things won't change overnight, but by the end of the season, the reds should return to respectability.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You'll Never Beat the Irish (fans)

The Boys in Green, today, were outplayed & outclassed by a country mile by a rampant Spainsh side, who ended up humiliating the Irish 4-0. Ireland had little in way of posession, only a couple of decent scoring chances & looked completely disspirited on the pitch, putting in a limp 2nd half effort. However, i'm not in the least bit disappointed about the performance, not one bit.

In spite of the scoreline, any Irish supporter cheering on the boys, whether in Poznan or in the local pub & all points in between, came away feeling as if they were on top of the world, no matter how poor the team, now matter how much that wanker Roy Keane crapped in everyone's cereal.

I give you 6 glorious minutes of the Irish fans in Poznan pouring their hearts out, sing Fields of Athenry

I found it hard not to get emotional watching the video. Those fans showed the whole world what exactly a true fan is supposed to be. Loyal, passionate, proud to the very end. It encapsulated what makes the Irish what they are. They'd still be singing this even if Spain scored 400. These are glory hunters, bandwagon jumpers or fair weather fans, unlike the English supporters, many of whom stayed home & those who were in Ukraine to see the 3 Lions behaved as though they were in a library. Bottom line, it's not always about getting a result, but rather showing up & declaring your pride & support in who you are & what you believe in.

You'll never beat the Irish. The famous old statement can't be applied to the national soccer team, but by God no other country's supporters will rival  Ireland's.

A Real Prick Move

A Real Prick Move

Canada has gotten off to a fine start in the current round of World Cup Qualifying taking 4 points from their first 2 games, keeping a clean sheet in both outings & aside from the inability to finish their chances on offence, long suffering Canadian supporters have reason to be optimistic about the chances of the men's team for the first time in over a decade. However, this is Canada after all, just when you think the Men's National Team was perhaps taking a turn for the better, the rug ended up getting pulled from underneath the feet of the players, coaches & ,of course, all of us aforementioned long suffering supporters. Cue one Jonathan De Guzman:

Canadian soccer fans are used to this. Players who, by any sensible measure, should be donning red insead succumbing to delusions of grandeur & deeming our little national team, too small time, too unworthy, for them to bless it with their talents & deciding to find a bigger nation to play for that is fitting of their stature. What has happened this go around, chapter #5685 I do believe, comes as a massive sucker punch.

Now up until now, i've tended to defend JDG2 & what had been assumed until Tuesday night, his decision 4 years ago to pursue an opportunity to represent Holland internationally over Canada. He left home to join Feyenoord's at age 13, leaving behind his family, friends & familiar envirions to pursue ahis dream of being a professional soccer player. In the 7 years he lived there he obviously developed a connection to the country & thus made his decision. If he had left things with Canada like they were then, quite frankly, we'd have very little to complain about. Let us not forget that Canada has also benefitted from the talents of players from abroad, among them are current players Milan Borjan, Pedro Pacheco & Marcel De Jong, whose connections to Canada pale in comparison to their countries of origin. If it's okay for Canada to take advantage of the talents of thinly veiled mercenaries to better the quality of the national side, we have to accept the times when our own bolt for what they perceive to be greener pastures.

However the gates to JDG2's greener pasture has remained firmly locked. While representing the Dutch at youth level, the senior team has shown no interest in calling him into the squad. So cue the stories of the wayward son returning to the fold. Big brother Julian let the cat out of the bag that JDG2 was pursuing efforts to restore his Canadian citizenship he had to forfeit in order to get a EU passport to make it easier for him to suit up for a European club. Stephen Hart & the CSA had been in regular contact with JSG2 & relevant government officials in order to make this happen. Not to mention Julian providing periodic updates to all concerned about how things were coming along.

Then Tuesday night De Guzman said in an interview with James Sharman that none of this was true, none of it ever happened, that this was basically one giant psych out, & that he is, was & always will be committed to the Dutch cause & has no intetion whatsoever of ever playing for the country of his birth.
My fat hairy ass this wasn't true. Someone here is lying. Was it Stephen Hart saying that he had been in touch with JDG 2 on a number of occasions about his international future & saying to the press that he was working to make this come to fruition? Were the CSA yanking Immigration officials in trying to help Jonathan regain his passport? Was it Julian? Was he just spinning tall tales, just filling up the lot of us with false hope for kicks? For me the answer is none of the above.

This is a case of an deceitful, opportunistic weasel, who used the manager & the CSA to further his own personal agenda here. As well ,let's remember that he also made a complete ass out of his brother. I do not believe for one minute that Julian would ever gone around talking up his little brother's desire to return home were it not genuine. He knows full well what it would have meant to all of us fans to have JDG2 play for the nation team, as he would become the best player Canada had in its lineup  & that the chances of going to Brazil in 2 years time would receive a major shot in the arm.

If this is the calibre of human being Jonathan de Guzman is, then Canada is better off. I'd rather support a team full of work horses who may not posess dazzling ability but put in an honest effort  game in & game out and, much more importantly, take pride in playing for the country, rather than one extremely talented racehorse who is rotten to the core. So Jonathan all I can say is I kindly wncourage you to self-fornicate with a sharp stick. Also, you might as well tell you boy Hoilett to stop beating around the bush & declare his desire to play for England & stop jerking us around.

A helpful reminder for all Ireland supporters

Just remember boys & girls....

So the feelings of impending dread & horror many of may be feeling at the moment about the Boys in green going up against the Spanish juggernaut, just head on down to the pub, and order up a pint or 4. That'll certainly put everyone in the proper mood to get behind the boys & forget your worries, as well. Gotta feeling Ireland will be putting in a far better performance than they did on Sunday. Can't get much worse, can it? not expecting a win, but a performance at the least, which will make us proud to support Ireland

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Some humour

When faced with the choice I always prefer to laugh rather than cry or get angry & after Sunday's defeat we Ireland fans could use a little bit of a laugh I thing this will help somwwhat

Roy Keane Meme. Saipan. Euro 2012 on Twitpic

Ireland-Croatia Post Mortem

Now that the dust has settled it's time to look back at the debacle from Sunday & what exactly happened to the Ireland team that we had expected to see going into Euro 2012.

What Happened: Zero discipline, A total failure on the part of Ireland to adhere, even minimally, to the most basic elements of the system that has been well estanlished by Trapattoni was at the heart of their downfall. Between playing far too wide open for what they are actually capable of playing & an inability to close down Croatian midfield maestro Luka Modric was at the heart of their downfall. Not to mention that it didn't help matters that Shay Given had, quite possibly, the worst performance of his international career.  A terrible day all around for Irish fans, though I suspect the fine makers of Guinness will have found it to be quite profitable.

What (if anything) went right: Aside from Sean St. Ledger heading home a well taken free kick by Aidan McGeady there wasn't much more positive than that i'm afraid.

What went wrong: Oh boy, where to begin. It seemed that just about everything that could have gone wrong for the Boys in Green did go wrong.  I mentioned some of the failings on the day above, but believe there are more. The next of which is the manager.  Trapattoni's performance in running the show from the sidelines was horrendous. He looked as if he had no  answers for what Croatia was doing & was badly out-coached by his counterpart Slaven Bilic. The there was his choice of substitutions, which left much to be desired. Taking off Kevin Doyle, who was having  a decent game & drew the foul that lead to the free kick responsible for the goal, was questionable. Even more questionable was the decision to take off McGeady, while largely anonymous on the day, in favour of Simon Cox was mind boggling. While adding a 3rd striker would have been a prudent move, making that happen by reducing the already limited creative capacity of the side defied logic. The more apt replacement would have been James McClean, his energy & dynamism would have been a welcome addition to the mix. Trap however showed his pigheaded refusal to give Ireland's promising young players a chance, & it may have cost ireland on the day.

We could also mentioned the cock up by the referee to not award a penalty to Robbie Keane when the Croat defender took him down sloppily in the box, but given the poor display all around from the Republic on the day, I doubt it would have made any difference in the final outcome. Though, the crap decision by the ref was emblematic of Ireland's plight on the day. Nothing went their way on Sunday.

Man of the Match:  The clear cut choice for this was Sean St. Ledger. Aside from being the only goal scorer, he also was Ireland's most competant defender. Sure, he wasn't perfect, but compared to the other, I felt he made the fewest mistakes & was least responsible for the failings of the backline. Keth Andrews also deserves an honourable mention, one of the few offensive bright spots on the day

Final Thought: It wasn't so much the defeat on Sunday, but the manner of it. Ireland were very poor  against Croatia, the buoyancy & optimism with which the army of supporters had for the Boys in Green going into to the tournament made this defeat seem even worse than perhaps than it was. Look, I know, & all rational Ireland supporters know, that our guys are in tough here & while optimistic I wouldn't have been surprised by a loss. It's okay to do so, so long as they give an effort that we can be proud of. Sunday's performance definitely did not do that. Let's hope for better against Spain on Thursday.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ireland vs Croatia: prediction time

Well we're on the eve of kickoff for Ireland's 1st match of Euro 2012 against Croatia & it's time to lay it on the line & make my prediction as to how the Boys in Green will fare. They have been drawn in a tough group to be sure, but hardly insurmountable. If they play their cards right Ireland should do quite well.

Let's be realistic, no one is expecting them to do much against Spain, the Red Fury are just too strong for Ireland & I expect the defending champs to dispose of the boys with ease, which therefore leaves the matches against Croatia & Italy.

It's unfortunate that Croatia is the first up. They're in a similar position to Ireland in that they need to get a result from the match in order to have any sort of chance at getting thru to the knock out rounds. Personally, i'd have much rather played Spain first up, just simply to get it out of the way. The Croats are indeed a force to be respected, even if their arrogant SOB of a manager thinks we're a bunch of chumps. Any squad lead by Tottenham's Luka Modric, one of the finest playmaking midfielders in the world in the moment & will marshal the offence & with in form striker Nikica Jelavic looking to finish off Modric's endeavours they will pose quite a challenge for the boys.

What is crucial for Ireland to display against Croatia is thankfully the hallmark of Trap's system, discipline. If the backline & holding midfielders maintain their shape & their composure, it will be very hard for Modric & co to break them down. They played each other last summer in a friendly at the Aviva & it ended scoreless. I don't think that will be the case here. The Croatian backline is slow & lumbering & carrying some knocks & a team that plays direct should give them many problems. I look for our wingers McGeady & Damien Duff to pressure them constantly. Then comes the difference maker, one James McClean, the Derry Pele (though don't tell Paddy McCourt that...). Him coming on in the 2nd half will be what tips the balance in favour of Ireland. His pace & boundless energy will be too much for a tired Croatia & the Irish will capitalize. 3 points for the Boys in Green is the order of the day

2-0 Ireland final score.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Slaven Bilic slags Ireland

Cocky bugger isn't he? The Croatian Head Coach decides to take a big ol' dump on the Boys in Green on the eve of the big game tomorrow. Speaking to reporters, here are some of the choice words he had to say about Ireland:

He said: "I follow the Irish team and I know everything about them. They play very good football but it is very simple so, objectively, they are not such a heavy team to analyse.
"Maybe they will surprise us. They play one way. I don't know if they can surprise us.
And this
"I don’t want to spend any more words about the Irish team They are not top team but I said everything.
"We still have to play against Italy and Spain. We are focused a lot. What we are thinking about is to play our best, to do our best. It's three matches.

Talk about your bulletin board material. It is unfortunate to hear such arrogant drivel spewed by a manager who I have a lot of respect for. In the end, though, it's not at all surprising. This team, & really Irish people in general, have been persistently underestimated, but in the end we overachieve & see it thru. So go ahead Mr. Bilic look on past Ireland, you're doing so at your own peril. Will love it when the BiG smacks down this cocky twat tomorrow, he will lift to eat his words.

McGuire the Ireland Supporter- The Origin Story

In sci fi, once a TV or comic series establishes itself, the powers that be overseeing its production often decide to go back to a time before the events of their work began to look at how things began for their protagonist. This is known as the origin story. As we are on the eve of Ireland 1st match at an international tournament for a decade, i'd like to share my origin story of how I came to be a supporter of the Republic of Ireland.

It all started in the summer of 2002, during the World Cup in Japan & South Korea. Yours truly is somewhat of a night owl & was looking forward to the tourney as it would give me something to do in the middle of the night, but approaching the tournament I found hard to get excited about it. This was still quite early in my evolution as a soccer fan & felt hard to get into the event as I did not have an emotional investment in any of the teams participating. Then one day I was made aware of the glorious reality that I posessed Irish ancestry! This came as quite a relief as not only because I long admired the Irish  but that I was only aware of the Scottish ancestry on my mother's side of the family which didn't at all appeal to me as I tend to find the Scotch dull & uninteresting. But enough about all of that, to the matter at hand I found my team to support.

One of the early rewards of being a supporter of the Republic was finally being able to support it's star & lynch pin, a certain Roy Maurice Keane, guilt-free. Despite being a proud Liverpool supporter, I always found myself drawn to Keane. I loved his relentless, hard nosed, take no prisoners style of play, finding it remarkably similar to many of the hockey players who I counted among my favourites. However, I didn't get the chance to cheer him on in Asia. The now notorious Keane incident, which  saw him explode at the FAI over preparations for the World Cup, famously describing the training base in Saipan as a "car park" , & at manager Mick McCarthy over his overall ability as a coach & competance in general.  This has since become known as the Keane Incident. While an investigation into the incident did largely vindicate the volatile midfielder & the claims he made, it put the team under a cloud & threatened to derail their World Cup campaign. Hardly an auspicious beginning.

So fast forward to the opening match against Cameroon, who were at the time the reigning champions of Africa. The side got off to a sluggish start, playing a less than buoyant 1st half & were down 1-0 at the break. The 2nd half though saw a rejuvanated team. Whatever McCarthy said in his team talk worked b/c they sprung to life & fought back earning an 1-1 draw against the Africans thanks to Matt Holland.

Game 2 pledged to be a much tougher affair facing powerhouse Germany. It looked as if it would be a long game with the Germans scoring early in the first half, but Ireland never gave up. They put in yet another stanard issue Irish performance, one of grit, guile & determination & held their own against their formidable opposition, but had nothing tangible to show for it.

Then in the 90th minute... Magic courtesy from the present day captain one Robbie Keane!!!

I don't remember much from the moment the ball went in the net, as I pretty much lost my mind. I do remember the chewing out I got from my landlord from making so much noise in the middle of the night, but  it couldn't be helped. It was total euphoria, getting caught up in this journey, it was  unlike anything I ever experienced had before. I felt as if Ireland were unstoppable, & the subsequent 3-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia did little to quell my optimism.

This was a Cinderella story, but just like the fairy tale, the clock struck twelve & the aforementioned journey Ireland was on reverted back to a pumpkin. Their quarterfinal opponent was Spain & the match played out in an almost identical fashion to their clash with the Germans. Spain dominated the first half with future LFC striker Fernando Morientes scoring early on & looked to have Ireland's number & the quite poorly taken penalty from Ian Harter further that belief. Then, once again, fate took hold & bestowed a penalty in second half injury time & Keano promptly converted from the spot sending the match to extra time.

In AET Ireland were the team in control, creating the best chances in the extra 30 minutes, but weren't abole to follow thru on them, which lead to a shootout, which proved the undoing of the Boys in Green. 3 misses in the shootout did in Ireland. Their World Cup at an end.

That did not end my support of Ireland however. Like most Irish supporters around the world, I saw the World Cup to be a tremendous success & a truly uplifting experience in general. A committed Ireland supporter was born & has remained so to this day. I stuck with them thru the recriminations of the Genesis Report, wasn't deterred by the limp & uninspired tenure of Brian Kerr & despite the best efforts of Steve Staunton & hiss farcical time at the helm of the side, I stuck with them. Today, I feel my loyalty has paid off. I have thoroughly enjoyed  the renaissence of the Republic under Trapattoni & all the highs & lows that have marked his period in charge (take a wild guess as to what the "lows" were)  and, on the cusp of their first match I cannot wait for kickoff! I am expecting great things from Ireland, confident in that they will overcome the odds & show up those so-called experts who have shunned them & do great things.

So there you have it everyone, how & why I came to be an Ireland supporter. All I can say now is Come on you Boys in Green!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Ireland's official Euro 2012 Song

Green Army is the name & I Love it. Upbeat irreverent & a good party song, good on ya Johnny B

Euro 2012 Group Stage Predictions

Been a long day so I best get my predictions in before Euro 2012 begins in about 12 hrs time. cannot believe it's finally here. Like a kid on Christmas Eve. Anyhoo...

Group A

Russia & Poland to advance

Russians clearly the class of the group, which says something about how the lack of quality in group A if they were in any of the other groups, they'd be going home early. It's an aging squad, but a squad still posessing a lot of talent & creativity. Main men Arshavin & Pavlyuchenko both returned home to Russia with their tails between their legs from failed stints in the Premier League & will be expected to lead the side along with rising star Alan Dazgoev who doesn't get the recognition he deserves playing in the RPL. So long as they remained focused, not always a given with this lot, then the group stage should be a breeze

Poland should benefit greatly from their host nation status & ride a wave of local support to the quarterfinals. Home pitch advantage alone, however, will not be the only reason for them finishing second. A top young goal keeper in Wojciech Szczesny anchoring a solid defence & an attack lead by rising star Robert Lewandowski, leading scorer for Bundesliga champs Dortmund, the Poles have enough to hold off Greece & advance out of the group. This is a team we should be hearing more of in coming years.

Group B

Germany & Holland to advance

If Group A is one of the weakest groups ever assembled for a Euro, then group B would have to be one of the strongest of all-time. Germany are the best of the bunch, not only here but in the whole tournament as they are my pick to win it all. It's hard to argue against it when you look at the talent they have at their disposal. Blessed with extraordinary depth & relentless drive, the Germans will be an oasis of creative free flowing soccer in a sea of anti-football & will win the group & the tournament

As for Holland this is a team that should contend for the trophy they have a talented, veteran laden roster that ran roughshod over it's group in qualifying . However, this is Holland. De Oranje are known to be a rather self-infatuated bunch with massive egos & are prone to fighting amongst themselves, especially when things don't go their way. If they posess a modicum of discipline they will finish ahead of Denmark whom they are far superior to & a Portugese side that appears to be having some problems given their poor display against Turkey in their recent friendly

Group C

Spain & IRELAND! to advance

THE group for me. Sapin is clearly the class here & will breeze through without much diffcultty. There are storm clouds however for the reign European & World Champions. The loss of Carlos Puyol is massive, the man is a force on the backline. His leadership & size will be missed & could give their opponents an opening especially on set pieces. Then there's the issue of fatigue, the downside of having a team as laden with talent as theirs means they have seen a considerable amount of action for their clubs, by some accounts many of them, especially those playing for Barcelona & Real Madrid have play the equivalent of 5 season worth of soccer in the last 4 years. Spain have had a good run but it will end in the Euros

As for me picking the Irish, well what the hell do you expect?? I feel quite bullish about Ireland's chances, which i will get into more detail later but suffice it to say they will finish 2nd & make some noise in the knockout stage.

Group D

England & France to advance

You'd think from all the doom & gloom surrounding England that they are one of the worst teams not just at the Eutos but anywhere in the world. This pessimism is not the worst thing in the world for the Three Lions who have been the victims of over-inflated opinions. If there will be one phrase used to describe England's performance I have little doubt it will be Park the Bus. If you're expecting Barcelona then you will be sorely disppointed. Woy of the Wovers will set up his side to produce a master class in anti-football, which is not a bad thing for this side, as evidenced by the successful yet unappealing wins over Norway & Belgium in their warmup matches.. Hodgson understand his team's limitations & has them playing in a manner that will get them results. I expect them to surprise many & win the group.

France are a team on the rise, they haave put behind them the debacle of South Africa where they were on the receiving end of karmic retribution for screwing Ireland out of a berth in the World |Cup (but I digress...) young & gifted the French under Laurent Blanc have been playing with flair while maintaining a disciplined defensive shape. This is a team that will, in my opinion, be a legitimate contender for the World Cup in 2014 & their performance this year will be very impressive as I have them going all the way to the final, but falling short to Germany.

Knock out stage picks


Holland over Russia
France over Spain
Germany over Poland
IRELAND over England (yeah baby!)


Germany over Ireland
France over Holland


Germany over France

Thursday, June 07, 2012

An introduction

Top of the day & welcome to Bluenose Red, yours truly's soccer blog. Some of you know me from Twitter opining on my favourite sides, which you can clearly see from the links on my page who they are, in a manner ranging from the thoughtful to the smartass. So why the blog? Well I love soccer & talking about it & I also enjoy writing, always have. I used to have a blog on politics back in the day but time constraints & a reduced level of tolerance for all the bullshit the comes along with the political racket caused me to give it up. The writing urge, however, has returned & so Bluenose Red has taken life & what better time to begin things here than on the cusp of Euro 2012.

 So a couple things

 - As you can see I am not exactly a web designer extraordinaire here, I fully concede that the quality of the layout is far from top notch so please pay no mind to it. If you have some ideas on how to improve things let me know. Am more than happy to accept help in this area.

 - I would appreciate getting a link on your respective sites & blogs if you so have one. Publicity is what will ultimately sustain this blog, if you provide me with a link, I am more than happy return the favour.

 So that's about it, thanks for stopping