Friday, November 30, 2007

My Christmas Wishlist

Feyenoord, showed up this morning to the Azzurri Dreams offices. I must have shown him distrust or wonderment, in my expression, because he kept staring me, as if to say, "its me..." I mean I know he is busy, very busy lately, but it does not excuse him from his daily responsibilities to our ever growing readership.

The latest numbers show Azzurri Dreams to be the most read soccer blog among our Gutrati brethren and San Francisco, CA. But as he kept looking at me, I must have sensed he was getting weirded out by me and not the other way around. He calmly, asked, "why the bottle of whisky and the Santa Clause outfit so early this morning?"

My response, was simple, the whisky is because I love this game, and usually publish news before the bigger sites get it, kinda of like my posting on the Balon d'Or yesterday, only to have ESPN Soccernet publish the same information today: Click here

Now I am not saying that ESPN and some other notable brands get ALL their news on European football from me, but I am sure you can infer, that although the www is a small place, and we are all fans of the beautiful game, there are some poachers who need some information and thus they log unto to Azzurri Dreams. And I am more then happy to share with you big guys. But I digress, and Feyenoord continuing looking at me as I told him this very thing.

Secondly, the Santa Clause outfit is because my date with an Internet babe went so poorly last night, that I wanted to bring merry and gifts to our readership and myself. And who else besides Santa Clause delivers all the goods on time as we do at Azzurri Dreams. Thus the outfit I explained, plus it made me feel festive, slightly drunk with power(and whisky) and I decided, going into the end of the year, I would ask the real Santa Clause for certain gifts that pertain to the state of of my beloved football in Europe.

Feyenoord, looked at me, like the great publicist he is, and I knew what he was thinking, with this whisky in his belly, who the hell is going to spellcheck this latest wish list. But nonetheless here it goes. This football(holiday season), I want:

Safer matches in my beloved Italy. Stop the insanity and just watch the game. Teach the young ones in the stands, that with this game, you will learn all you ever need to know about life and love

Francesco Totti back on the Azzurri for the Euro's in 2008

FIFA to ban their ranking systems. Funny how teams that don't play actually go up in the rankings. Could be a good strategy for the US National team going forward

All my football in the US to be on HDTV

To view all the African Cup of Nations matches

To see Riquelme play for one of the top teams in Europe. With the excess pounds being wasted on some of this years players, can I ask the Azzurri Dreams readership to contribute to the Riquelme Fund to keep him here and not in Argentina

For the FA, not to stop being as screwed up as you are. When the Sweedish-Savant left for Manchester City, I was wondering who would be as easy of a target, and lo and behold, the FA quickly volunteered.

For the English Press to stop thinking they are the centre of the football universe. You might have been during the times of scurvy and when you first introduced the game, but have not been for so long, its too funny. Yet annoying.

To see an Italian team say no to a Brazilian player. Note to Milan, just because you can have Ronaldinho, does not mean you should. One lazy gordito on your bench is enough.

To see Fabio Grosso come back and play in Italy

To see England stop thinking they have the best league in the world. Although I like the fun.

To see David Beckham and Posh unedited, wondering if this is what was published on this youtube video, what was cut out?

To see Posh eat a double burger

To see any of the these top players' model girlfriends naked

For the LA Galaxy to reimburse fans for this years ticket purchases 100%.

For coaches to stop complaining about the players they do not have and just play the dam game with what you got

For Luciano Spalletti to smile

For players to stop pledging their "futures" and life to one club. In today's era, most players lack the integrity to turn down the the big money moves and play for their childhood team their entire careers

For a wonderful 2008 Euros in Switzerland and Austria, considering Azzurri Dreams will be there in person reporting on the fate of the 16 nations

For South Africa to finish their stadiums, we already have rooms booked for 2010

Azzurri Dreams

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I am appalled

In the Azzurri Dreams offices early this morning, and let me tell you, our ever growing readership, the title of today's posting has nothing to do with the fact the Spice Girls are actually on some sound station in Liverpool working out their new routines for their upcoming 'reunion' tour....I never knew they broke up, kinda of like, I didn't know Becks was still playing.

And today's mood, is also not at related to the fact that George W. is seeking a leadership role in fostering middle east peace; its almost like wal-mart coming in, tearing you house apart, then saying, hey I brought some donuts and coffee, want to talk! The point being, if it were not for Feyenoord doing his best geisha imitation and trying to relax me this morning, I very well might have had to tell our ever growing readership that I am through!

I am referring to the 'unofficial' ranking of Europe's top ten players. I do not contend with the fact the the Ballon D'or will be awarded to Kaka' next week, but what I have a problem with is the morons that decide this award must not understand, sometimes, the less glamor as a player, the bigger star...I mean the bigger stud you actually are.

For instance, no one question's Posh's role in the evolution of the Spice Girls, but she could not do it alone. And the fact of the matter, great players do not act alone. When you look at the rankings which will read like this when they are officially announced next week, I have a few questions:

1. Kakà
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
3. Messi
4. Drogba
5. Pirlo
6. Van Nistelrooy
7. Ibrahimovic
8. Fabregas
9. Robinho
10. Totti

What happens when you take numbers 2, 3, 4, 7 off their respective teams. Their coaches go to their bench and they bring in another player, maybe not as dynamic as #'s 2, 3,4, and 7 but you know Barcelona, has two 17 year old phenoms that can still play off the flank, score, and even a gordito Ronaldinho, can still feed them the ball. Drogba scores his goals, well a)because he plays in England, and b)because Sheva takes two runners with him on diagonal runs. If they sub him, the midfield, still scores enough goals, and well eventually, Shevenchko, might score again.

If Mancini takes Ibrahimovic off, he calls to replace him with half the Argentina National team, and they will continue to put goals in. The same goes for Ronaldo at Manchester United. The point being, there great, dynamic, but their positions are easily filled. Now you look at Andrea Pirlo, aka the Fonz(for an uncanny resemblance) and you realize, Milan cannot move the ball without him. Nothing, no where, the team stagnates. And lets not even mention the free kicks. When was the last time Drogba got one through a Wall outside the 18 yard box?

Pirlo is a great orchestra leader, he pulls all the strings, lets Seedorf(calling Marco, either play him for 90, or don't tire him out with needless travel, on a side note I will be at the Euros next year, and if I don't see the one player who I think actually proved Ponce de Leon was correct in finding the fountain of youth, I will boycott all your future press conferences,) and Kaka' do what they want in the midfield.

And if you look at the game tape of Milan and the World Cup Matches, you realize he plays box to box and actually has become tougher at getting the ball back himself. He'll work, he'll set up the team, with accuracry and let his players, operate freely. If you have seen a Milan match in the last few years without Pirlo, its like watching a Birmingham-Derby match, full of drab, boring football, the type you only wake from when you realize you have started to drool on yourself.

And yet his ranking was number 5. There were plenty of media in Italy that actually believed Pirlo should have and could have won the award. But he simply just gets it done, weekly, both for country and club. I guess that was and is not enough. What I don't understand, is how he would have dropped to number 5, thats right number 5. In today's tv generation, there are only a handful, of truly great midfield players, throwbacks, where the ball and the team runs through them. And yes, Riquelme is one of them, too bad he was exiled to Argentina again this week. Pirlo, while not a true number 10, is up there with Ronaldinho, Juninho and Diego(Werder Breman). So with that said, we at Azzurri Dreams have come up with our own top 5 list:

1. Kakà
2. Pirlo
3. Ronaldo
4. Messi
5. Posh

Azzurri Dreams

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beginning of a new Era

Would you trust this man to lead your nation into a major tournament? And would you trust the management behind the country's football association, who chose this man, to help lead their leader??

And with that, I reclaim my spot in cyber eternity, bringing you a fresh look at the debacle known as English Football...But wait, I can already hear it, here it comes via a blackberry message from Feyenoord, "don't the English have the best league in the world?" and wont this translate to the world stage.

Too many questions and delirious tidbits going through my head right now, and although I have been underground working with the South Africans, sending out communication after communication, reassuring, Sepp that they will be ready to host the world cup in 2010, I could not be quiet any more.

And while Feyernoord, might say, it is usually at the expense of the drama that befalls the French and English, that brings me out of hibernation to write, I will keep this simple and impart my knowledge to the FA and what they need to do.

But first, a quick lesson. Post 2006, when Beckham was too "exhausted," and the Swedish-Savant was fired, the FA had their pick of coaches. Here is a quick refresher and their current status:

Guus hiddink, Coach Russia, qualified for the Euros and on in a chateau somewhere, thinking boy those voodoo dolls that I had made up for the England-Croatia game really work. Especially that one of Carson.

Luis Scolari, Coach, Portugal, currently working on his jabbing, as he gets ready to kick some Greek ass for revenge next year. If only England had shown as much passion at this old man, they might be getting ready to plan their itineraries to Austria/Switzerland. Oh well.

Marco Van Basten, Coach, Holland, still alive in Holland, for reasons unbenownst to me, and still coaching well.

Steve McClaren, ex-coach of England. I am sure you get the point. After the World Cup, with an abundance of riches, both financially to pay out their new coach and in the quality of world renowned available coaches, the FA did what the FA have recently become giants at doing; over reacting and making a bad choice. In their nationalist ego trip and wanting to appoint an Englishman to the post of national caretaker, they forgot one critical thing- the English, on the World Stage have not accomplished anything, since, when...and I don't mean Beckham coming back from an injury or qualifying, seriously when did they last win something?

So here we are, the creators of a beautiful game, without a coach. And while I know the players and coaches are equally to blame for this, I would also put the blame on the FA. What the FA cannot recognize, and more deeply troubling, what they fail to comprehend, that besides the 7 minutes of folly in Istanbul in 2005, the English game, even domestically has not even come close to the level of play and dominance to that of the Italian and Spanish Leagues. France and Germany's domestic leagues, have been able to excel as well, incorporating foreign talent without affecting their national teams.

All European leagues are inundated with foreign players, in all their divisions, but what the English fail to recognize is that all the long balls in the world wont beat the top defenses in the world especially, when your ball control and mid field has absolutely no creativity. And on top of that, you bestow the Country's legacy to a guy, who I think, greatest sporting accomplishment in recent memory, was getting his club team to the final of the UEFA cup.

The FA are just as much to blame for this mess and crisis in the English Game. As I have often told Feyernoord (but I think he tunes me out a lot these days, I guess that is the problem with always being right,) is that this could be the best thing to happen to English football.

I know the pain must be excruciating for the die hard fans of the Three Lions, but here is my logic. The English team can only go up from here. You also have the same opportunity the Dutch had post their 2002 World Cup qualifier howler and Argentina and France did post 2002 world cup folly; to build, to go young, and bring in a completely different approach and start building towards, well you know the only true great football tournament in the world, the World Cup in 2010.

Here is my advice to the FA. Don't screw this up again, Don't rush and make the same mistake you made 18 months ago, don't think about even looking at the Stuart Pierce's of the world. Harry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce , great coaches, but seriously, sit on your decision for a while since you do not have a truly significant game until September 2008. Watch the Euros and make your approach for the multitude of world acclaimed coaches that will be available even before the tournament starts.

My second piece of advice, go with with a Foreigner, who can at least bring some creativity and mold a team...hmmm Hiddink, I mean if you could have had him for 10M Pounds in 2006, what do you think he will command in 2008 when his next turnaround job is complete as Russia advances far into the tournament. Thirdly, don't hire anyone under the age of 60 or so unless you run it by me first. I swear I am here to help you idiots. Bring in a gang of translators ala the United Nations and hope the Lippi's of the world would even consider this job. Your country and players, need experience, and someone willing to make difficult decisions and make it his team, mold his own identity and be willing to deal with the consequences and carry the litany of media scrutiny on his shoulders and let his players focus on one simple thing; playing football.

Start thinking outside the box, start thinking Jose Peckerman, Juergen Klinsmann, Fabio Capello, you know, winners, just to name a few. Think long and hard about it, because no matter how much we bagged on the Swedish-Savant, at least he got you into tournaments. And lastly, just so that the laughter and boredom that goes along with watching an England match passes, please please find some creativity in the midfield and get me four players, that play four different roles. I know this is a lot to ask of the FA, but you, know, for a nominal fee, I am always open to "consulting," and providing some suggestions. I am sure Feyernoord can man the Azzurri Dreams offices for a while.

Azzurri Dreams