Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog


TEAM OF THE SEASON, GOODBYE GUUS + PARTING WITH PAOLO

THEN SATURDAY COMES’ TEAM OF THE SEASON 2008-2009

The votes have been cast, counted and verified.  There was hot competition for places this season, with over 500 people making first team appearances in the Premiership.  However, there could only be room for 11 starters and 7 subs, and here is the all-important final squad.

TEAMOFSEAS

.

GK: Mark Schwarzer (Fulham)

Already controversy from the off.  However, Schwarzer’s move and the ridiculous changes in fortune between Fulham and Middlesbrough have not been a coincidence.  The Australian has had a ridiculously good season, and that’s why he’s the TSC Goalkeeper of the Year.


RB: Glenn Johnson (Portsmouth)

It’s not often you have a defender who battled against relegation to be in the team of the season, but Johnson has been great all year and is likely to move to a top-four club in the summer.  His vast improvement is testament to the value of first-team football, and he must be commended for leaving Chelsea two years ago to find it at unglamorous Pompey.


.

CB: Brede Hangeland (Fulham)

Three players in and we’ve still not had a top six team!  But then again, Hangeland is the main reason why Fulham are a top seven team.  Thoroughly excellent all season after joining Woy’s Wevolution at Craven Cottage.  That he was deemed not good enough after a trial at Newcastle is flabbergasting.  A move to Arsenal seems likely.

.

CB: Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)

Normal service has resumed.  Vidic had a fantastic season apart from two games; sadly for the Serbian, they were the two highest profile matches of the season.  Despite his limitations (as shown against Liverpool and Barca) it’s impossible to discredit the 50+ games he commanded from the back in a campaign in which he helped keep about 400 hours of clean sheets and was ultimately pipped for the Player Of The Season award by an old man.

.

LB: Patrice Evra (Manchester United)

He may have moaned when the Arsenal ‘babies’ kicked like men, but Evra has been by far and away the best left back in the country.  Although Ashley Cole finished the season well, Evra played to a supreme standard throughout the year and has comfortably cemented himself as the best LB in the world.  Also seems to be crazy, as this video proves.

.

CM: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

The driving force behind Liverpool’s strongest title push in almost two decades.  He scored 24 goals in 41 games, and that’s playing in a team with duffers like Lucas and Arbeloa.  Has been playing in a more forward role this season, but I’ve put him in central midfield because I’m crazy like that.  Sadly, Stevie G is the second and last English player to make the team.

.

CM: Michael Essien (Chelsea)

Ironically most memorable for absolutely destroying TSC Team Of The Year teammate Steven Gerrard in the Champion’s League Quarter Final.  Endless energy and the capability of scoring outrageous goals, the Ghanaian is the world’s finest central midfielder (outside of the Nou Camp).

.

CM: Stephen Ireland (Manchester City)

Perhaps the most controversial player to pick.  Ireland has scored less goals and won less trophies than Frank Lampard, and the chances are I’m overlooking Fat Frank for off-field indiscretions.  However, that’s saying something when it’s Daddy Dick who is prospering.  What really sets him apart from Lamps is that Ireland has been surrounded by cloggers and prima-donners, yet has still had a wonderful season (far outshining Robinho most weeks).

.

FW: Andrei Arshavin (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s sole representative, and probably the reason they will be playing Champion’s League football next season instead of Everton.  Arshavin’s entrance since January has been explosive and proved all the doubters wrong (myself included).  The little Russian is getting to the territory of Juninho/Zola/Bergkamp where he’s just so good that everyone loves him.


.

FW: Fernando Torres (Liverpool)

Despite being ravaged by injury, showed no signs of suffering from second season syndrome.  For my money the best centre forward in the world, and it’s scary to think Manchester United could have bought him.  50 goals in 84 starts in England so far.  The only negative thing that has come from his stay in England is this atrocity;

.

FW: Christiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Not as good a season as 2007-08, but how could he be?  Ronaldo has dominated Old Trafford this season, to a point where he might be approaching on Thierry Henry levels of holding other players back.  Still, props where they’re due and Chrissy Ron is ridiculously prop-worthy.

.

hiddink horseGUUS HIDDINK: THE NEW MAX CLIFFORD?

Chelsea clinched their first silverwear in two years after beating Everton 2-1 at Wembley yesterday.

Nobody will begrudge boss Guus Hiddink’s suitcase being be a little heavier on his trip back to Russia, where he will return after a fabulous brief relationship with the West Londoners.

Although Everton were the neutrals favourites yesterday, there was no outpour of anger when Chelsea eventually won.  The reason for that lies at their (now former) manager Hiddink.  And that is the truly remarkable feat he attained; under Guus the same players who were lambasted as cocky, thuggish mercaneries turned into a likeable bunch of rapscallions.

That is the biggest PR turnaround since Max Clifford turned Jade Goody into ‘The People’s Princess From The Wrong Side Of The Tracks’.

Having a likeable manager is like the antithsesis of bad apples; having one good one makes all the rest better.  Much like Kieron Dyer, Craig Bellamy and Alan Shearer were all more likeable under Sir Bobby Robson, Guus has made us forget about his players’ personal misgivings.  Strange as it seems, Chelsea are actually quite likeable these days.

Since Jose Mourinho left in 2007, Chelsea have always felt like they are a team of teenagers acting out without any parental figure.  Personalities such as Terry, Lampard, Malouda, Ballack, Mikel, Drogba and Cole ran riot at Stamford Bridge.

The side went through the motions in between various ill-disciplined temper tantrums.  They were still talented, but they were mechanical; there was no joy to the way they played.  In turn, Chelsea became despised again.

Their moaning players and methadoligical tactics belied the fantasy football you would expect from a multi-billionaire owner.  Also, with the Sheikhs rocking up all over the place, it seemed like Chelsea’s time had passed.

Chelsea players were forced to grow up fast under Hiddink
Chelsea players were forced to grow up fast under Hiddink

Guus Hiddink was appointed with the task of retaining Champions League football, something which proved a doddle.  Since taking over from the woeful Scolari, his troops have turned from boys to men (as Patrice Evra might say).

True, there were the histrionics against Barcelona, but other than that the team are playing great football with a smile on their face.

Particularly Lampard and Malouda have excelled under the Dutch gaffer, and gone from being a pair of the most ridiculed players in the league to two of its most consistent performers.

So what is the secret of Hiddink’s success?  Apparently, and supporting everything I suspect about the realities of football management, it is simply that he is ‘normal’.  He treats the players with respect, and they reciprocate.

Travelling back from his first away game as boss, he walked along the aisle of the bus chatting to his players and getting to know them.  In one hand he drank from a glass of wine, and with the other he offered each player a beer.


It seems a tiny thing but those players had been craving communication since Jose Mourinho’s 2007 exit.

One lovely man surrounded by scumbags, yet they all seem much more likeable for being associated with old Guus
One lovely man surrounded by scumbags, yet they all seem much more likeable for being associated with old Guus

He also organised a meeting with the notoriously sulky Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda, and explained that he felt they could become what Rooney/Ronaldo are to Manchester United.  Such a meeting seems like an obvious thing to do, but anyone who saw the interview with Malouda before the FA Cup will notice how much a simple personal touch like that means to footballers.  Anyone who has seen the pair play in their new roles will also tell you Hiddink was completely correct.

So there you have it.  In his brief stay, Guus Hiddink has been the first manager to emulate Bobby Robson’s idea of management.  Keep things simple, act with some class and pick the best team available.

It’s really not rocket science.

_________________

maldiniMALDINI RETIRES TO BIZARRE CRITICISM

As one constant in football disappeared, another proved itself to be alive and well.  After Paolo Maldini finally called time on a glorious 24-year career at AC Milan, the Italian ‘ultra’ fans proved they were still as moronic as ever by choosing to boo him during a lap of honour.

As he ran past the hardcore fans in the San Siro’s south stand, a banner was unfurled reading “There is only one captain – Franco Baresi.  From those you branded mercenaries and mangy.”  Maldini’s reaction was to grab a microphone and say: “I am proud of not being one of those fans”.

To put it into context, it’s like Ryan Giggs playing for Manchester United for another seven seasons then being heckled b the Stretford End because he is not Roy Keane.  Farcical  behaviour.

All in all it’s a horribly shady way for a legend to drop out of football.  However, you can’t imagine Maldini leaving with the same bitterness to his finale as Zinedine Zidane in 2006.  Although the words clearly rattled him enough to distance himself from the Milanese people who supported him for over 1,000 games, this will become a footnote in a great career.  Just look at this ludicrous amount of honours he amassed during his career.


Milan
* Serie A: 1987-88, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1998-99, 2003-04, Runner-up 1989-90, 1990-91
* Coppa Italia: 2002-03, Runner-up 1984-85, 1989-90, 1997-98
* Supercoppa Italiana: 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2004, Runner-up 1996, 1999, 2003
* UEFA Champions League: 1988-89, 1989-90, 1993-94, 2002-03, 2006-07, Runner-up1992-93, 1994-95, 2004-05
* UEFA Super Cup: 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007 Runner-up 1993
* Intercontinental Cup: 1989, 1990, Runner-up 1993, 1994, 2003
* FIFA Club World Cup: 2007, Dubai Challenge Cup: 2009

National team

* FIFA World Cup: 3rd (1990), Runner-up (1994)
* European Championships: 3rd (1988), Runner-Up (2000)

Individual
* Under-21 European Footballer of the Year: 1989
* Team of the Tournament: World Cup 1994, European Championships 1996, 2000
* UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match: 2003

* UEFA Team of the Year: 2003, 2005
*
Serie A Defender of the Year: 2004, UEFA Champions League Best Defender: 2007
* Italy captain: 1994-2002, all-time caps: 126

But statistics are not enough to appreciate Maldini’s brilliance; check out this video tribute.

_________________


matface

Barack congratulating me as I put the blog to pasture over summer

And with that comes the end of Then Saturday Comes for the 2008-09. season  The UK’s leading football blog will be taking a much needed over the summer months, as I refuse to spend the nicest days of the year pontificating on which millionaire playboys will be switching clubs.

But don’t worry, you will still get your regular Reville fix.  A brand new, non-football blog will be launching later this week.  Although it will undoubtedly be bigger and better than Then Saturday Comes, but I fully expect to bring this blog back closer to the start of next season.

One final piece of admin – sadly my much anticipated Season Review is still on hold.  Microsoft Media Player has defeated me and I’ve been unable to upload the masterpiece.  Undeterred, I plan to go into university tomorrow and use one of their special (i.e. not crippled by virus) computers and should have it up by this time tomorrow… fingers crossed.

1985–2009 Milan 647 (29)
National team3
1986–1988 Italy U-21 012 0(5)
1988–2002 Italy 126 0(7)
Advertisements

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: