I watched the Norwich v Newcastle game Saturday. For some reason I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Toon army. I think it’s the fact that they have such local fans despite never really achieving anything! Despite appointing a world class manager in Rafa Benitez they are in real trouble. That last gasp defeat at Carrow Road will be tough to take after twice coming from behind. The Newcastle defending throughout the game was truly awful. Having the rookie keeper Darlow behind them may have played a part but to be that bad was quite shocking, I would’ve thought Rafa with his defensive tendencies would have had them drilled even in the short time he’s been able to work with them. Another thing that stood out was that Norwich just wanted it more, they really did. No prima Donners just a hard working side that new a win would put them in a great position for the relegation dog fight. I was shaking my head at the lack of urgency by the 2 big January signings, Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend. I think Townsend thinks he of the same level as Bale and co and he’s about 20 levels lower. He is a one trick pony, goes down the right flank, cuts inside onto his left peg and produces nothing. When his side needed him to defend he did nothing. Shelvey has bags of talent but he appears to lack an engine in midfield, whether that’s down to effort or lack of general athletic ability only he will know.
Toon need these 2 to start performing and fast otherwise they will drop and they’ll be looking for yet another manager.
I watched El Classico straight after watching the Liverpool v Spurs game and to be honest it was like watching an exhibition game compared to the premier league game at Anfield. The pace of the big la liga clash was of the slow variety, it was actually a bit boring and you have to praise Zinedene Zidane for his tactics. Real allowed Barca to pass pass pass pass and never really get anywhere, it was as slow as I’ve seen Barca play to be honest. Real waited and waited and then when they did get possession they made it count with Bale and Ronaldo providing pace and power down either flank. If Karim Benzema hadn’t been on another planet for the entire first half, Real could well have been in front at the break (albeit due to an incredible miss from Luis Suarez). I don’t think I’ve seen Ronaldo work as hard as he did on Saturday, he was even seen making last ditch challenges in his own penalty area!! that’s rarer than yeti sightings!!!! And yet again he proved the match winner with his quality strike with 5 mins to go.
Bale was man of the match and is looking like one of the top 5 players in the world. He gave alba a torrid time and the decision to disallow his header was criminal.
The Barca trident was on the whole disappointing. They produced bits and bats of quality but not to the level we are used to and that may be down to Zidane’s tactics which were spot on and could prove the template to nullify barca, I’m sure Atletico Madrid will have been watching ready for this weeks Champions League clash.
No doubt Barca are still the best team in the world but the Catalans might have some things to think about over the next few days.
So there is a hell of a lot of sympathy for Ben Stokes on social media following his disastrous final over in the World T20 final yesterday in Koltata.
I don’t blame the guy for his poor final over as the pressure must be immense and so to stray a little in line and length (he wasn’t miles out) isn’t a major crime but in reality it wasn’t that difficult for Brathwaite to score from the 4 deliveries.
I am of the opinion that Stokes says too much when bowling. I wasn’t much of a talker when I bowled, I didn’t feel it necessary. Most of the great fast bowlers have said little at the crease, Ambrose, Walsh, Donald, Imran, Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Willis, Hadlee hardly said a word, their stares were enough. Only the Aussie greats like Lillee and Mcgrath have been chirpy.
Even yesterday during that over, Marlon Samuels (at the none strikers end) said Stokes was chirping at him. Samuels is known to produce his best when he gets wound up by verbal abuse so why Stokes was at him is a mystery.
I’m pretty sure every batsman that Stokes verbally attacks in the future will remind him of that World T20 final and how it went for him and it might just shut him up!!!
Good cricketer though.
The foxes knew that a win would further strengthen their grip on the title following Spurs’ 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield on saturday and produced a dogged display to beat Southampton 1-0 at the King Power Stadium.
Was there more pressure on them knowing the Tottenham result? I don’t think so. This Leicester side doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the word pressure. What allows them to seem so immune to the pressure is that they are so well drilled as a unit. Their formation is quite rigid but every single player knows their role and when you have quality players who know exactly what they have to do then you have a recipe for success.
Ranieri has done a wonderful job. Nigel Pearson built the foundations but the man formerly known as “tinker man” has taken them to another level. While Pearson was a fiery character, Ranieri’s persona is one of fun and his team seem to be actually enjoying the ride. Give a man a pizza as a reward and he’ll run through walls for you, even if he has 2 ferrari’s at home!!
Can they do it? I think they can and will.