SportsNet - May 2012
Incredibly, the English Premier League has produced yet another chaotic season with more storylines than The Wire and more twists and turns than the last five minutes of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. As we prepare anxiously for the finale this weekend, let's look (belatedly) back on the week that passed and award the Goals of the Week/Goats of the week...brought to you by #FireSteveKean (more on that below).
Goals of the Week:
#3 A milestone 50th career goal in the League for USA's very own Clint Dempsey, came on this scorcher.
After a historic hitting performance that included four identical two-run homers and a hard-hit double, how can any baseball fan not be impressed with a post-steroid era slugger whon goes five-for-five with eight RBI and 18 total bases in a one nine-inning game?
Josh Hamilton's performance may seem like evidence for the Rangers' owners to offer a huge contract extension.
But this is a baseball superstar who has many more questions than answers in his career. Hamilton's drug and alcohol abuse is one of the most publicized stories in baseball, and his road to recovery included a pair of slips. The most recent was on Feb. 2 when he claimed to have had two or three drinks.
Now Hamilton is apparently sober, and crushing the ball. He is also subject to enduring speculation of his future with either the Rangers or another club. Hamilton is a product of a culture that has moved past the steroid era, but is still married to a media lifestyle where sports stars are more highlight clips than actual people.
When a 44-year-old Scotsman ventured south of the border to take over an ailing Manchester United team on Nov. 6, 1986, spouting out that he would 'Knock Liverpool off their f*%$ing perch,' it would not have been amiss to categorize him in with a doomsday prophet or carnival fortune teller.
But here we are, 26-years later, and one could arguably say that it Sir Alex Ferguson's mission has been accomplished. Technically, Liverpool are still the most decorated club in English football, but only by the slightest of margins and certainly not in the amount of league titles won.
In the 2008-2009 season, Liverpool cam agonizingly close to winning the Premier League title for the first time, finishing a mere six points behind Manchester United. Having not lost at Anfield all season and accumulating a +6 greater goal differential than United, many thought that Liverpool was finally back where they should be, among the elite of English football. Tragically, the next three seasons would tell a very different story.
Shakespeare said that "some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."
Former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola was an exceptional player, but to be considered great, he would need to be beyond exceptional, he would need to have the kind of talent that comes only once or twice in a generation, he would need to possess the the kind of quality that you instantly recall when you are listing the best player in that particular position.
So as a player, maybe not so much but as a manager, there seems to be a growing consensus that he is indeed great. If he was to retire now his trophies alone in 4 years match up with the greatest managers many of whom have careers stretching around 20 years. His widely admired Barcelona side has many arguing that this Barcelona is the best team in history. It would seem obvious that Guardiola has achieved greatness given the 13 titles in 4 years, perhaps 14 if his side manages to beat Bilbao, however, the point that his greatness was largely thrust upon him looms large over his record.
Juan Mata cut his teeth at the Real Madrid youth set up. Showing glimpses of talent that would later endear him to a wide fan base, it was no wonder he was scouted by top teams from Europe. He joined Valencia and formed a part of the famed trio comprising of David Villa, David Silva and himself. He swiftly built a reputation for superb attacking play at Valencia, either on the wings or behind the striker. Speed, acceleration, creativity and flair are some adjectives that defined his game play during his game play at Valencia.
Chelsea signed him for 24 m pounds at the start of 2011-12 season. This was after his name was linked repeatedly to Arsenal. Fernando Torres seemed to be the reason behind his signing. Torres had failed to live up to his big money signing and Mata would be the ideal foil, threading balls for Torres to latch onto and score. Besides, Chelsea are not considered to be a side that plays attractive football, something the owner craves so much. The prospect was tantalizing.