Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Zero Reason To Bale Out

The emergence of Gareth Bale as a forward to be placed in the "outstanding" bracket is a harbinger Spurs are in upward mobility. A Club with an illustrious history undoubtedly, and that feat of winning a major trophy in each of the last six decades provides the fairy tale needed to spice up the London Club's play book.  However, the blot  remains the elusive league title since 1961. Yes, It is an elephant in the room. Historically, when a Club is about to make that shift from being a sleeping giant to winners, the first sign is that one ( or two ) key player(s) come to the fore and spark a chain of events  that releases new levels of energy within the Club and it's faithful - a collective energy that unleashes a force which transcends into  palpable beseeching  for championships to be won, and new milestones set, by all connected with the club. Spurs are on the threshold of that, and Garreth Bale should be the purveyor. The battle at this current point in time might be to finish in the top four, but even the most ardent scorn of Spurs would have to hold their nose and admit a wind of change has been blowing around White Hart Lane, starting with Harry Redknapp's appointment as manager four and a half years ago, and  breaking that glass ceiling, to deliver two top four finishes in the last three seasons, before being controversially  replaced by Andreas Vilas Boas for the current season


Spurs are currently in hot pursuit of a top four finish once again, even after the departure of star players Luka Modric and Rafael van der  Davaart last close season, the club reinvested with acquisitions of Moussa Dembele, Hugo Loris, Clint Dempsey, and last january Lewis Holtby ; that reflects it's reinvigoration, dynamism, and gravitas. It it foolhardy to underestimate the agenda and  progress made in recent years



                             GARETH BALE : is the poster boy of  Spurs' quest for the big time. Arguably not since Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne has White Hart Lane celebrated a player like they have Gareth Bale. Winning this season's Professional Footballers' Award is the icing on the cake to his most productive season yet. 19 league goals ( and counting ) and his display of exciting skills, stupendously executed technical invention with his left foot, added to his delectable  creativity, and the speed he provides the team, then you can see why he is in the headlines. The Lad is infused with immense confidence right now, and Spurs are right in business. We must not forget Bale's improbable metamorphosis from left back, to left winger, to playing behind the striker as he does these days to devastating effect, and up to the pedestal of club leading  scorer with 24 goals. I doubt anyone ever predicted such a theatrical transformation for the Welsh man. It's fantasy stuff, and I am very happy for him, as he sounds a decent and modest person.

THE TARGET : as the Bale phenomenon  gathers momentum, it's very important he sets reasonable priorities for his career, and not buy into the frenzy surrounding his performances. For starters, he has not achieved anything yet, but only making early steps towards so...... his objectives must be pragmatically defined, rather than loftily designed. Sure as his star would rise further, so too pimps, sycophants, and advocates of the devil would come to minister to him. Do not to be swayed by money, or the apples of  Real Madrid, Barcelona, or any of that ilk. You need to improve on this season next term - score more goals, (more free kicks too) ramp-up your assists, invent on dribbling techniques to underline your newly acquired star status. That invariably means hard work and keeping your feet on the floor. Bale must understand that being the magnet for Spurs to attract other star players serves a better purpose for his game, and career.  The challenge of winning the league title with Spurs for the first time in five decades  will resonate farther and wider, and bring in yields (tangible and intangible) far greater than in any garden on the continent. Bale would be wise enough to galvanize that noble effort, which if does happen within the next few years, with him doubling-up in standards, surely would cement his place in history as one of Spurs greatest ever players. Such an achievement should mean more than playing for a few years with one of the European giants, and discarded  after a few years, and a mere foot note in their history. Being inspired by a greater cause, and an enduring legacy that straddles career and a place in the history of a fantastic football club, rather than the short term, show me the money, where is the glitz definition of the contemporary soccer player, is the cross roads to imminently appear : The right move is a synergy with Spurs. Listen to your heart.





Wednesday, 24 April 2013


The way Sports TV networks cover big issues that arise in whatever field of sports, says a lot about how much they are in touch with the aspirations and agenda of their viewers. SKYSPORTS have exclusive broadcasting rights to two-thirds of matches in the premier league, and have thrilled it's audiences over the years, no doubt. I am starting to wonder if complacence has now set in. Did you notice how the greater interest of it's viewers took a back-seat in it's post match analysis of the Liverpool V Chelsea game? It's pundits were effusively preoccupied with the off-the-ball incident involving Luis Suarez and Branislav Ivanovic. If you missed the game, and relied on their analysis, plus the incessant incident replay, you'd be forgiven for thinking that's all that happened for 90 minutes.

THE LUIS SUAREZ ISSUE: The style with which this mega broadcaster handled  the immediate aftermath of the game, and the suspicion ( it should be because his admission had not been made public yet at the time) Luis Suarez bit Branislav Ivanovic was tawdry, and this sort of crassness has become pervasive with coverage of Soccer games, and the punditry / commentary business on television. Pundits are fast becoming self serving renegades, and we saw that typically exhibited by Jamie Redknapp and Greame Souness last Sunday. Yes, it was a vulgar incident, and we get it, the media thrive on gory details most often, but on pay TV or any platform of mass viewership, it's imbecilic postulation to subsume a brilliant game into a flash point. Millions of Liverpool, Chelsea, and neutral soccer fans  would have wanted SKY to make the game the focal point : how it panned out tactically, and the best players on the day needed attention. Perversely, the interests of paying viewers were held hostage to the demagoguery and glorified opinions of pundits Jamie Redknapp and Greame Souness. In their misguided mind-set of being famous ex-Liverpool players, assaulted viewers with the values Liverpool stand for, and Luis Suarez being "in last chance saloon " e.t.c.  Sanctimonious nonsense. A complete turn-off.

FAILING : This preposterous narrative that TV networks sell about getting famous ex-players from big clubs, who won lots of trophies in their time..... or the variant : get good looking famous ex-players on prime-time  - underpins  this poor approach to match analysis and punditry, that has subscribers scrambling for the mute button in a rage. How do you explain the impetuous approach taken by Jamie Redknapp and Greame Souness on Sunday ?  I wish SKY could ! Speaking like exulted Liverpool FootBall Club owners, these two carried out a verbal lynching of Suarez, and pronounced his likely fate. I believe with the situation still fluid, such inflammatory comments on television is not helpful to anyone, and is possibly prejudicial.  A calmer, more measured approach was needed precisely because the incident was self-explanatory, and potentially with serious consequences.

Jamie Redknapp

OPINIONS:  An objective panel of pundits weaved from all sections with interests in game would be a lot more beneficial. Reports that another soon to be ex- Liverpool  player, Jamie Carragher is coming to work for SKY is troubling. If it does happen, it serves to underline the theme of this blog: SKY are forming a cartel here... those who shape the views of the fans on TV should have a broader  appeal, and understand the agenda of the viewer comes first. The game is so emotive and tribal, opinions espoused on TV must be fairly refined, and served dispassionately to viewers.  Most of this lot do not have a clue about that.


END GAME : There is nothing esoteric about the football lexicon. It is largely self-explanatory. If great ex-players hardly make great coaches, why is that statistic ignored when networks employ pundits ? Viewers need  information like bio-data, statistics, form guide and related details on players to be better illuminated, so as to form our own opinions. Studios have too much of a macho, Boys-Brigade feel to it. Broadcasting networks have an assumption that generically, soccer fans are intellectually challenged, as such a paragon of ex-players is needed on prime-time slots to generate credibility and commercial leverage. A Position  both condescending and denigrating. Subscribers, at least, should rise up, and attack this bastion of tokenism and perversity at the heart of punditry and commentary in the game. The payers interests must always come first, and the game much too universal . SKY miss that fact. 

Thursday, 18 April 2013


As the blowback continues in Germany over  comments made by  Bayern Munich's President
Uli Hoeness  after his Club clinched the Bundesliga title a couple of weeks ago, with six games remaining, and an unprecedented 20 point gap over second placed Borussia Dortmund, there is one man who will be particularly squeamish by the state of play, and that is Bayern Munich's future trainer, the much vaunted PEP GUARDIOLA.  Here's what Bayern's President had to say to the media after the Bavarian giants became 2012/13 league champions.

          "there is a big gap between the performance in the league. That cannot be good
          We need to analyze why this is so. We see a need. The results we have achieved
          this season should not be permanent "                      

Wolfsburg's Sporting Director Klaus Allofs weighed in with what must have ratcheted the concerns of the ex-Barcelona coach :

        "they'll be facing a new challenge in the summer. It remains to be seen whether 
          the new coach can repeat the success of Heynckes "

Pep Guardiola seemingly is walking into a well laid minefield for a number of reasons - some inherent,

FOR MORE READ : Bayern and Guardiola : an intriguing match

and some unfolding. If Guardiola analyzes the paradoxical opinions of Uli Hoeness, his imminent boss, he'll observe that what appears to be his worry over the levels of competitiveness of the Budesliga, is a back handed complement to Jupp Heynckes, the man he replaces, who has won the league title this season setting  some records, and raising the bar for the Hero from Catalunya. Winning the championship in the first week of April is the earliest it's ever been done. Add to that, the team has conceded only 13 goals in 29 games ( only 2 away goals conceded ). 18 clean sheets, another record. Best ever start to the season, winning the first 8 games. And Heynckes' team have also put together the best ever sequence of wins, with 12 on the bounce ( and counting ) . You want more ? Bayern are on course for the treble - league champions already! German Cup finalists, and Champions League Semi-finalists.  This season, Jupp Heynckes has got the team in scintillating form, deploying a squad of players to perform with a bounce and a swagger that have blown away so many teams, consistently. New signings Mario Mandzukic, Javi Martinez, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Brazilian defender, Dante have all fitted in right away. The Alliance Arena ( Bayern Munich's stadium) has been a carnival atmosphere every time Bayern Play, creating that awe-generating ambience for the away team.
Bayern Munich Squad Team
  Bayern Munchen

DOFF YOUR HATS FOR HEYNCKES :  I really do believe that followers of the game, and the media alike ought to pay some attention and respect to what is currently being achieved by Jupp Heynckes, rather than serenading his successor. When you consider Bayern had won nothing in the last two seasons, and  are at the cusp of something outstanding and remarkable, this term, then we should doff our Hats to Heynckes.  I have really been impressed with the zeal, effervescence, and work rate his team have registered all through this campaign. In the last 3 years, there have been peaks and troughs for the club under the management of Louis van Gaal and Heynckes, but you have to admire the fact that the treble has been  a consistent fantasy. I believe this is the year.... it's going to be third time lucky. I have no doubt they'll win the champions league this time around. It could not happen at a better moment in their history.

READ: Jose, The Blues are coming to get you

LAST LAUGH : When that happens, it would represent  monumental success for Jupp Heynckes, as it would be a migraine for Pep. Having been casted as the man with the midas touch, when he arrives Bayern Munich in the summer, he hypothetically would be managing a club and squad of players whose stock have risen three-fold from from when he agreed  pre-contract terms to manage them in December 2012. Heynckes on the other hand was forced out, invariably because no one had a hint of what the future had in store. What better way to leave than sewing the seeds of your successor's down-fall, leaving the club in a historic position, and waving good-bye to Bayern's hierarchy with three gold medals on his chest
 Commnets of  Bayern's President Uli Hoeness, and Wolfsburg's sporting director Klaus Allofs have shoveled ice along the path-way to the  manager's office at the Alliance Arena, and would make an interesting sight when Pep has to navigate the route next season.  Since the pairing of Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the semi finals, the German press have sought mischief by asking if Jupp Heynckes or anyone in the hierarchy of the club would turn to Pep Guardiola for advice on how to play Barcelona. I'll leave you with Jupp Heynckes' comments earlier this week in that regard :

                   "Pep cannot reveal details about Barcelona, out of respect for his
                   former club. But i also will not have to ask him. I know Spanish
                   football well and Barcelona. If i wanted to call someone, i would
                   choose Johan Cryuff because he invented Barca's playing

How about that for a swat !                                        

Sunday, 14 April 2013


One of those tournaments to have made a defining impact on my knowledge of the game was the Euro Championship in 1988. Marco van Basten's goals illuminated the tournament, Frank Rikyaard was gritty and tenacious; Republic of Ireland shocked England in a 1-0 win.  I had prior knowledge of such standards, and quality of play, but the player whose performances broadened my horizons was that of the Dutch number 4, by the name RONALD KOEMAN. His play was distinctive from a technical and tactical standpoint, and I followed his career at Club and International level from then till he retired as a professional player His style of play remains a marvel to me - The man played in an inimitable style all thorough his career..., never deviated in standards; and Koeman's uniqueness is underlined by the fact that no player has emerged to play in the fashion he represented.  Not even from his native Netherlands. There are players you cannot quite emulate or copy, and Ronald Koeman was an  embodiment of a collection of attributes you hardly find all in one player.

STYLE: Ronald Koeman by job description was a defender, but that would be a misnomer. Koeman was more than a defender to the team ; he was a vanguard for Barcelona and Netherlands, because he invariably got  attacks going from the back. With his astonishing ability to keep the ball, he was a spark in the chain of events that enabled his team mates take up  advanced attacking positions The underlying effect on the opposition is that they get pinned in their own half, and in a tentative frame of mind : wondering if to push-up, or drop back further. This handed the initiative to Ronald Koeman's team. He had the technical skills  not only to keep the ball in deep positions and come forward with it,  he could play short passes, get the ball back... or launch long passes to the creative players who are camped far field, making it easier to work on the opposition in their own half. His orchestration of attacks formed an integral part of the tactical plans of the sides he played for. Koeman may have had his critics due in part to the fact that his major weakness was his defending in one- on- one situations, and yes, he was not brilliant if a striker was playing on his shoulder, neither was he the quickest, but the pluses he brought far outweigh the minuses.
Ronald Koeman possessed phenomenal shooting prowess, especially from long range. It was a consistent feature in his playing career. He was  deadly from the penalty spot, and his free kicks  from long range were legendary. Like the winning goal in the 1992 champions league final for Barcelona against Sampdoria, which probably was a defining moment.   


ACHIEVEMENTS  : Ronald Koeman was a winner through and through. Scorer of 227 goals in 647 career games. A remarkable achievement for a centre back. He ranks as the highest goal scoring defender to date. He scored the winning goal to give PSV Eindhoven the European Cup in 1988. The same year he  went on to win the Euro Championship with the Netherlands. He won Dutch league titles on four occasions with Ajax and PSV Eindhoven; and another four Spanish league titles, plus the Champions League with Barcelona between 1990 and 1994.  He won 78 international caps for the Netherlands, 

For more, read :
Dutch Legacy part 1
Dutch Legacy Part 2

scoring 14 times. By any barometer, Koeman brought something special to the game with his style of play, tactical nous, and leadership on the pitch. He played as the fulcrum, and that says a lot for a player who played for six years for Barcelona's dream team under Johan Cryuff, and featured superstars like Romario, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, and a certain Pep Guardiola.
When I see teams today attempting to synchronize attacks, with so many players taking touches in their own half, I reminisce on the playing days of this Dutch master who made it look so easy. It's fair to say Ronald Koeman remains in a class by himself. With all the tactical progress the game has witnessed since he retired in 1997, his strides out of defense with the ball, and his multi-dimensional distribution from deep, remains an abiding memory, and a challenge to up and coming defenders to follow. He still remains a rare breed.

Sunday, 7 April 2013


In a week when North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-Un has threatened America with a Nuclear Missile strike; and  America's President  Barrack Obama has had to apologize to California's  female attorney general, Kamala Harris for calling her the " best looking attorney general ", it brings once again into sharp focus what values and standards we desire to hold as a society, where we are headed, and never forgetting of history. I'd rather rather my grand children lived in a society where public figures continue to be responsible and accountable.

Paulo Di Canio's appointment as Sunderland's manager has generated a blow-back from people inside and outside of football, given his on the record remarks and actions which can be interpreted as sympathetic to fascism. Di Canio has most often sounded perplexed by the unwholesome attention his past behaviour and utterances has suddenly drawn, at a moment when he is rightfully realizing his ambitions to manage in the premiership. I personally rate him as one of the most exciting players I watched in the premier league between 1997 and 2003. In fact, I felt he never got enough of the adulation his footballing skills deserved.

THE MAN : I would say is charismatic, impulsive, unhinged ( at times ) and fervently dedicated. We are talking about a man who claims his father slapped him ( as an adult ) for being rude to his mom. Paulo Di Canio would have evolved from that genre of young boys who are obdurate, rebellious misfits, most often in desire of acceptance as a maverick. It's commonly the time to stumble into the tent of some kind group or idea that represents who you are and your aspirations. That arguably explains Di Canio's dalliance with the Fascist elements, in the form of the "ultras" who make up a powerful minority of the fans of his beloved Lazio Football Club.
As a player, he played on the edge. There was a lot of intensity, if not anger, and even when he mellowed somewhat in the latter stages of his West ham days, the passion was still high voltage. His genial side was better reflected from when he became Captain of West Ham;  and that wonderful show of sportsmanship displayed when he had a chance to score, but decided not to, because the Everton keeper was hurt, in december, 2000. He got positive reviews for that, and an honour from FIFA. He opted for a pay cut to play for Lazio as a way of support in 2004,  due to the clubs financial woes, and it was against that backdrop he made the now infamous Roman ( or fascist ) gesture to Bennito Mussolini's grand daughter, after a derby victory against AS Roma. I must add, he looked rather demented with passion in that salute. Here is a man who offered to use his own money to keep some of Swindon's loan players while manager, with the Club  barred from transfer dealings owing to it's precarious financial state. Temperamental, volatile, but devoted to the game deeply. A complex personality, with  asymmetrical values.

METAMORPHOSIS : Di Canio craves recognition, and perhaps the intensity it evokes, coupled with his personality has not helped him. He was too hot to handle for Giovanni Trapatoni while a player with Juventus, and did not fair any better with Fabio Capello at AC Milan. When he arrived Britain via Glassgow Celtic, it mainly was with that rueful feeling of perhaps rejection and failure due to his uncompromising tendencies. But the wheels began to turn in the right direction for him when Harry Redknapp took him on at West Ham, and he later became captain. He finally arrived on the stage he so badly wanted. A hard head who is now a leader of men. Suddenly he became a rebel with a cause. He no longer had to create a scene to gain attention. It's no surprise he went into management with Swindon in League two, and brought them a division up as champions. Anyone who says there has not been antipathy to his opinions on fascism has not checked the record books to see that GMB ( a trade union ) ended their financial support for Swindon in protest at the Club's appointment of Di Canio as manager in 2011.  When Durham Miners Association  general secretary called the appointment of Di Canio as Sunderland manager "a disgrace and a betrayal......." it puts into context the contempt which a section of society holds the discredited ideology, and how Paulo Di Canio's stated views is an antithesis to his ambitions. A Club with a higher profile, on a stage he demands, has served to illuminate the fact that this society has it's values, and public actors can be held to account when their views past or present are narrow and controversial.
Di Canio has now publicly distanced himself from fascism and politics for the record, in order to put the matter to bed. After being a rebel for so long, even at the age of 44, perhaps he is learning a different sort of approach, if he is to truly realize his ambitions of leadership,  man-management, and success he believes he has a talent and passion for. His metamorphosis needs to be sharp and swift.

SUNDERLAND : and their reclusive American owner Ellis Short bifurcate into another chapter. A proud Club with a large base of enthusiastic and loyal fans. But a Club with a yo-yo history in the premiership. They have had passionate managers to match the identity of their fans - Peter Reid, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, Martin O'Neil, but stability has continued to elude them. Here's what the trigger happy Ellis Short and the board need to know, that only two Clubs ( Swansea and West Brom ) promoted in the last 15 years occupy positions in the top ten of the premiere league currently. And only Fulham in that same period have established themselves quite securely in the elite division, amongst the tens of clubs that have gotten promoted. Appointing Di Canio is a huge gamble, and an unforced error. Martin O'Neil is way, way more experienced, and has the pedigree to go along. Di Canio would revive the enthusiasm and passion, but the putrid smell of relegation hangs around the Stadium of Light, and the cocktail of a manager with a volatile personality, a set of emotional fans, and a chairman who is reticent, but shoots from the hip, hardly sounds like comforting. I feel like for Di Canio and Sunderland, we shall be saying in the near future : " not surprised "

THE FA CUP WINNERS : Why do feel i Roberto Martinez and Wigan have their name written on the FA cup this year. Wigan are a finely measured and stapled team. They are drilled to the hilt in their 3-5-2 formation, and to me look a very good cup team. We all know on their day, they have beaten nearly everyone. I tip Man City to go past Chelsea in an epic semi final clash, but fall to Wigan on a Sunny May afternoon. Not since the 1987 and 1988 FA Cup finals have we witnessed real drama in the competition. One is impending.

YAYA TOURE : It's been reported has signed a new four year contract at Manchester City. He had a few weeks ago gone to press to purport the Club disrespected him over his contract negotiations. His latest position is that they ( Man City ) shall regain the title next season. First it was David Silva, who was in poor form at the start of the season till his contract was sorted ; now Yaya Toure. Watch out for Carlos Tevez turn. Then there is the over-rated Samir Nasri to come. I suggest what Man City actually need is a neon exit sign. Has there ever been a group of players and manager who so spectacularly contrived to throw away a season from a vantage position ?

Saturday, 6 April 2013


I have quite often come across comparisons between the two famous name-sake soccer icons with the name Ronaldo.  Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima born in 1976, and hails from Brazil (exactly a generation apart from his name sake) two-time world cup winner and three times FIFA player of the year.He may have hung up his boots after an outstanding career, but still commands the name recognition his achievements in the game accord him. Then there is Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. Born in 1985 - FIFA Player of the year 2008, European Champions League Winner, and goal scoring juggernaut for Real Madrid. It's an interesting comparison, and I bet both men privately fancy it to go on forever, as it's a bellwether of their mutual standing in the great Soccer Players' hall of fame.


There is a caveat to this fancyful, if not purile notion.  Nearly every player's worth is defined by their generation, and every generation is ever so slightly different from the past one ;  these differences come about through the advancement of Science and technology ( better fitness equipment, and drills, plus healthcare ) evolutionary trends with the tactics of the game, as much as anything else.  So, when we compare, what are we really comparing by ? The elements that comprise the yard stick for making an opinion is evolutionary. Instead, lets just enjoy the pleasure, these amazing athletes provide us with. The Likes of Puskas, Pele, Cryuff, and even Maradona played in eras  relatively behind today's, in standards of science and technology. Even the rules of the game then,  was such that Vulgar tackling did not necessarily warrant  the sanction it does now. Not to mention the offside rules, the backpass rules, soccer boots being a lot  better ; then there is the ball in use now which is desigened to swerve unpredictably. Cristiano Ronaldo has exploited this advantage demonstrably, with his eponymous free kick technique. Greats, recent, and long ago would look-on in chargrin at the benefits  advancement in statutes, science and technology, as well as tactics has afforded subsequent  generations to achieve hitherto unfathomable milestones. This means you cannot perfectly compare the two Ronaldos, nor even Maradona and Pele; or Gordon Banks with Gigi Buffon. Different times, different frame works, but all same, great players.


I believe you cannot make any fair judgement without establishing certain facts as your guide lines. Hence Gary Neville's answer to a tweet on monday night football some weeks ago on the subject was faulty. He sided with Cristiano Ronaldo as being better than Ronaldo from Brazil. I sympathize with the fact that Football like most sports tends to be averse to logic, and you have to give the audience zingers or sound bites. The winner takes all position in this case is misleading and a gross misrepresentation.
If Soccer fans really want  to quibble on the potency of the two, then it's better to say both forwards will ineveitably be defined as one of the best from their respective generations, even fifty years from now. How both men measure when it comes to goalscoring or technical ability, is an excersise that amounts to hair-splitting, because they both carry that out with superlative proficiency.


Ronaldo from Brazil would remain one of the best central strkers the world has seen. At his prime(incredulously between 20 -25 before the effects of injuries blighted him)He possessed an explosive burst of acceleration, and flattened defenders in his path to goal, like a hurricane. He conjured a devastating aura when in motion.  And when it came to putting the ball in the net, he was artistic with the way he bambozooled the keeper. Injuries robbed us witnessing more from this amazing centre forward.  Ronaldo from Portugal has taken goal scoring to another level;  aided by his single-minded pursuit, and tactical advancement , he has become a symbol of the shift from the orthodox definition of a striker. He is an extra ordinary goalscoring forward. He is so good at putting the ball in the net, he has a blank cheque to turn-up any where space affords him, unannounced, and his team mates oblige him, while his markers cannot find him. This sort of freedom to operate unqualified is uparalled. Cristiano Ronaldo and  Lionel Messi, the contemporary scoring greats  have used it to record breaking effect.  The false Number nine is an incredible phenomenon, and in many ways designed for a new  generation of goal scorers, as soccer coaches harness the idea into ther coaching manuals 


Here is food for thought for those not convinced this debate is a dead end. Ronaldo's senior career spanned 18 seasons( 1993 -2011 ). He played 384 league games for seven clubs, scoring 280 goals.  He played 97 games for Brazil, scoring 62 goals,in a twelve year period ( 1994 - 2006) .  Cristiano Ronaldo,  so far, has 102 caps for Portugal in less than ten years, scoring 32 goals. Ronaldo has a better scoring ratio,  even with fewer  games played. The calibre of team mates in the Brazilian national team ( selecao) invariably has a bearing on that.  Cristaino Ronaldo on the other hand may have more international games, thanks to his fitness, but his goal scoring ratio is not helped by the fact that portugal does not enjoy the glut of quality players like Brazil produce. He has 350 league games, and scored 227  in just under ten seasons,  so far, with three clubs. In other words, minutes spent on the pitch, and quality of team mates is another key factor.Poignantly, Christiano Ronaldo , in ten years, has played two-thirds of Ronaldo's entire career games, and he is still only 28 years old. if Ronaldo played till he was 35, albeit punctuated with injuries, be the judge. That  renders the debate academic. Let's just savour the brilliance of our great players, rather than mitigate their peculiar achievements in differing circumstances. Their careers are short, and their duration at the pinnacle even shorter, to waste its glory on needless debates


I'll tell you what, LIverpool and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez shoved my critique of him right back in my mouth, and i am humble enough to take it back. I have no remorse for the criticism i gave him following his well publicized race case with Patrice Evra. But I have to eat my heart out, and confess he is the best striker in the premiership ( no comparisons ) this season. He has delivered on the pitch, and banished the inconsistencies and play acting, to be a scorching individual and team player.  it would be a shame if he does not scoop players' and sports writers awards for this season. This bloke has not only sorted  out his attitude on the pitch, he has sorted out defenders with his blisstering form, consisting of high energy play, skils of sorcery, but also goals to make him the leading scorer in the league. I hand it to him, Luis Suarez has been in incredible form. A bombshell with the ball at his feet. A real handful to play against. Did i get it right this time ?

Read my Next blog, out Sunday, April 7th on PAULO DI CANIO.