Tag Archives: Norwich

Top Players by Club – Part 3 of 5


Welcome to our look at the players that made the Premier League as watchable as ever, earned the respect of their peer group and endeared themself to their club’s fanbase – here’s our top player from every side:

Manchester United

Wayne Rooney Soccer Football Man United

wayne’s alternative pasttime

Ultimately, the Red Devils season has culminated in trophy-less disappointment. Further, the 2011/12 campaign was emblazoned with teething pains through a period of transition and evolution. With the noisy neighbours proving more deafening than irritating, the continued overarching shadows of Giggs and Scholes presiding over a dormant, unexciting midfield and the archaic Sir Alex, who’s tactical mismanagement has become a regular feature at Old Trafford, United have done well to challenge in earnest. With hindsight, Ferguson’s flippant disdain for a true holding midfielder in that Everton game, saw Fellaini reinvigorate the title race in a rampant display. And it was another Ferguson blunder, using the ignominious Park instead of Valencia, within a 5 man defensively steeped midfield, belying the brash confidence (sic: arrogance) that has typified United previously, that ultimately surrendered the title to City, when they met at close quarters.

If there are signs of creaking emerging from the titanic Manchester United bandwagon, then it has been their chief lieutenant in Wayne Rooney that has been tasked with keeping the vessel afloat. While Valencia took out the less official plaudits, the FFTD finger points at Rooney, with his swag of goals and constant energy about the park. Often it was Rooney who was willing his comrades to greater efforts with his demonstrative gesticulations that became an all too regular feature. Surely it is unfair to judge Rooney with a different yardstick to other Premier League front men at the behest of reputation and expectation? We’ve read articles suggesting Wayne’s efficiency and the impetus behind his goals have been less important than others, but in a year of comparative mediocrity and few genuine stand-outs, we’ll take England’s Wayne Rooney please and thank you.

Newcastle

Newcastle Football Soccer Graham Carr Transfer

a portrait of excellence

It’s difficult to recall the seemingly dire context that the Geordie’s season was facing from the outset. With the departure of Barton, Carroll, Enrique and Nolan (amongst others) prior to the season and the arrival of almost no one, save for unknowns such as Cabaye, many were predicting a difficult period for Mike Cashley and his boys. Further, there were murmurs of discontent around the tactical nous of Alan Pardew, who had been labelled as dour and unimaginative, pointing to a season of discomfort on Tyneside. Much has been written around the Moneyball renaissance of the club, laying the blueprint for those perennially facing the malaise of mid table to step up as realistic challengers to the traditional top 4.

More has been said as to the transfer dealings of Alan Pardew and his management team than most English clubs, particularly one that was ensconced in relative anonymity last year. And most of it has been sceptical, at best. What is clear, is that the burgeoning reputation of Graham Carr, as some sort of super-talent-scout seems warranted. Since joining in February 2010 it is clear that Carr has made building a French connection his top priority signing Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux, Cheick Tiote, Hatem Ben Arfa and Gabriel Obertan in that period. French talent is generally considered affordable, both in terms of wages and initial fees, and technically proficient. Going the other way has been a stream of house hold names: Barton, Carroll, Nolan, Harper, Enrique and Smith – the majority English, and all sold for exorbitant amounts. With the recent addition of Cisse, Newcastle have the spine of a side ready to continue to challenge going forward. At full strength, we see little difference between Liverpool, Spurs and the Black and Whites on paper, and this is an almost thaumaturgic feat given their championship status so recently. To this end, we’ll break convention and acknowledge Carr’s under-appreciated efforts.

Norwich

Grant Holt Norwich England Striker

that’s his name…

This year’s Premier League fairytale is undoubtedly the emergence of Grant Holt from the backwaters to the cusp of Euro 2012. The striker has seen 8 previous clubs, has been employed as a tyre fitter and appeared in Perth’s second division for Sorrento. Perth, Australia that is. The list of former clubs reads as a roll call of industrious, workmanlike and unfashionable outfits, including Workington, Halifax, Barrow and Rochdale. We won’t shove any morals of perseverance, or fate down your eyes, but instead, we’ll just thank Mr Holt for making every park footballer BELIEVE.

QPR

Jamie Mackie QPR English Premier League

where’d he go?

Predicted to be the strongest of the newly promoted sides, the R’s endured a miserable campaign that saw them escape relegation through some less than exemplary refereeing decisions at Stoke, made against Bolton, while they played City. Confusing. Anyway, we’d love to pick Joey Barton, and surprisingly we feel we could actually make a case for the infamous tweep, but instead, to ensure we don’t completely marginalise our burgeoning fan base, we’ll pick Jamie Mackie for this prestigious honour. Mackie has epitomised the endeavour and resilience that fellow promotees in Swansea and Norwich have enjoyed from the majority of their employees. Unfortunately for the Londoners, Mackie was at times the sole provider of the tenacity required for premier league survival – and in the end, it was survival by the smallest of margins. Look no further than Mackie’s gut-running/lung-busting/stomach-turning effort against City to be in a position to complete the header that afforded us with the golden finish. Mackie was player of the year when the Hoops came up, and if anyone can find out who it was this year, we’d be greatly appreciative.


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Monday’s Magnificent Five


Torres Chelsea

#elnino

Each Monday we select our own 5 a side outfit from the weekend’s action. Think of it as our own Nike commercial in a steel cage on a floating island.

Goalkeeper

At the back we’ll opt for the impressive Ben Foster (West Brom) who stretches his man of the match run to 6 home games on the trot. The retired international produced another stellar display against Midland’s rivals at the Hawthorns including two fine one on one saves from Agbonlahor and a commanding presence around his own six-yard box. His autograph will be critical going forward for the seemingly established yo-yo club.

Defenders

While Roger Johnson was tempting (sic), we’ll take Gary Caldwell (Wigan) who kept the irresistible Newcastle front four to an afternoon of no returns. Caldwell seems a leader his teammates are willing to follow, adding inspiration that teams such as Wolves, Blackburn and QPR are severely lacking. His direction on the field is pivotal, being at the heart of Roberto’s improving back 3 experiment, with his dogged determination overcoming the on occasion unfashionable style.

Midfielders

Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) is included as much for his month of April than the disappointing draw with Stoke. Criticised for basically not being Wilshere for much of 2012, he seems revitalised for no apparent reason, but we fancy Arsene’s slight change in touch line uniform to have done the trick. Whatever the case, the Czech international has finally produced in an Arsenal shirt, working both forward and back, to be the centre of the Gunners strong push towards a disappointing quarter final exit in Europe in 2013. Once again, Tomas found space between the lines against the Potters, providing the goal for RVP on a tray made of the finest in silver and adorned with the most opulent in decoration.

We’re cheating here and you can sue me (please! Could use some publicity) for fielding Luis Suarez (Liverpool) in an attacking role in behind our front man. Meh. Little Luis finally combined promise with outcome in a long overdue display of ruthless efficiency. The provocative Urugyuan, who is never too far from the headlines, was able to write his own this week, with a finish from 55 yards that the footballing public will have rammed down their throats for many years to come. Suarez’ creative flair was too much for the Canaries on an otherwise forgettable occasion.

Forwards

Fernando Torres (Chelsea), our absolute favourite at FFTD, leads the line after he finally produced the return his endeavours over recent times have deserved. It would be difficult to find a more criticised sportsman anywhere on Earth, but his long golden locks seem impervious to his boo boys. This effort was more than just goals, including tireless movement that proved far too much for an incompetent Rangers, outstanding hold up play that afforded Mata and Sturridge particularly, more space than Victor Valdes last Tuesday evening and a staggering work ethic that saw him tracking back to challenge in his own area at least four times by our count. Simply irrepressible. Nothing like finals footy to add a bit of motivation…

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The 0-6 Predicament: A thing of Pure Beauty


The supporters of Wigan, Blackburn or West Bromwich Albion understand the searing pangs of incompetency that they face at least 10 times a year, when their sides are drawn against the remodelled top 5. Away at Man City for a team like Wolves can give serious impetus for such a fan to abandon their halfway tickets and choose the theatre with the missus. Away at Old Trafford is an unspeakable; too appalling to comprehend.

So what does an away trip to The Library, or Emirates as it’s more affectionately referred to, mean to a club battling for its television revenue in 2012?

The diversity of revenues and spending predicates the most nauseating of images for those fans that follow the proverbial beggars of English Premier League football. And it is this diversity that can lead to a trip to United becoming an envy-filled 90 minute ogle at the rich merchants of our town; where diatribes will bemoan Nani, Rooney, Vidic sitting on their racing-car-seat viewpoints. But, undoubtedly, the most dissatisfying feature of this whole painstaking ordeal is the petulant arrogance of the opposition fans who belittle, as if their choice of stock gives them privilege over you (you = Neanderthal preferring self-deprivation and perennial unfulfillment them = accustomed to victory and other unimaginable glories).

When your side is worth around 0.84% (West Brom vs Man City) of the opposing squad’s historical book values, it is certainly difficult to feel anything but abject despair, but nevertheless, the human psyche seems to demand a certain optimism. This cruel disposition is the result of the transient nature of the sport itself; for football is surely the one sport in which an upset is more commonplace than most (the rarity of goals ensures this fact). And indeed, this unfledgling positivity, or should I saw fantastical musings, is to some degree warranted by historical performances. It was points against the supposed top 5 that invariably kept a number of clubs afloat last season – most notably Wolves who beat City, Liverpool, Chelsea and United in a simply unbelievable turn of events. Under this milieu, the dream of Grant Holt’s thunderbolt from closer to the circle develops; nay flourishes.

While a match up such as Gareth McAuley vs Sergio Aguero is simply terrifying for any self-respecting Baggie, it surely would be a thing of great savour for the Irishman. For him, and his playing mates, the pressure is largely off. It is one of the few occasions all year where a 3-0 loss could be met with shrugs and despondency from supporters, rather than rage or ridicule on any other Saturday afternoon. Further, with weights of expectations amounting to a paltry feather, what better chance to upstage the young Argentinian with a grumbling studs up boot crusher, or a neat flick of the elbow when rising for a clearance. The risks really are skewed to the upside.

For the gaffer, the prospects are slightly less perfect. Looming camera, radio and print media interviews must be at the forefront of his balding head. Placid dismissal of the result as unimportant, or good experience, could be met with the perpetual lambasting from supporters that the side is unambitious, while an honest appraisal (“they were simply better”) is never a welcome soother for those same fans. For him, the downside is not as negligible, but even the Neil Warnocks or Brendan Rodgers of our universe can appreciate that the scales of expectation are well in their favour.

For the less perceptive of you, playing the biggest teams on the biggest stage is simply the best – for everyone. A cathartic experience for some, a chance to let your wildest fantasies develop, a chance to herald an arrival, or simply a chance to prove to your girlfriend in Sydney that your team actually exists. There really is nothing like an underdog grasping to a 1-0 lead in the 89th minute with all 11 players flooding back to thwart F Lampard et al. A sort of ironic admittance of inferiority that makes the whole sugar-coated predicament all the more delectable. And devouring this satisfying meal is more than enough fuel to last at least a season of drubbings from the burgeoning class of foreign-owned English beneficiaries.

These are the days that fans relish most. Where a loss won’t ruin their evening plans or squander their job performance throughout the “days off football” each week. (Sunday to Friday).  While a loss against Bolton midweek could conspire to make living itself a task of extreme difficulty until the next match day. Watching your team defend a lead against Liverpool, where you would have snatched at a point 2 hours ago, is simply incomparable to defending a lead against Blackburn when Formica has space down the right…(even this example is making me uncomfortably shift in my chair).

There is only one scenario where Arsenal (A) breathes a sort of terror into any fan’s perusal of the fixture list. For everyone knows that the last game of the season, where invariably you’ll need points to survive as a newly promoted nobody, is not a time for a team in the big four, top 5, super 6 or even fantastic 15. Give me 20th on the final day every year; please and thank you. But otherwise, give me top of the league each week!

PS: If you don’t believe me and need further proof, see Wolves fans’ reactions when they lost to West Brom. QED.

PPS: Any Spurs fan that thinks it’s a top 6 – fuck off and come back when you’ve won something. QED.


		
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