Champions League Post-Mortem

[07:45] JSpitzberg: guy at work all proud to call ronaldo "cron"

[07:45] JSpitzberg: "see, i'm reading you!"

[07:45] Neal J Thurman: HA

[07:45] Neal J Thurman: so long as he also called him no better than the 4th best player on the pitch yesterday

[07:48] JSpitzberg: fair placement

[07:48] JSpitzberg: manu got it all wrong

[07:48] Neal J Thurman: agreed

[07:48] Neal J Thurman: and finally paid for lack of a midfield

[07:48] JSpitzberg: or at least, they didn't have a plan b when the long balls over the top didn't pressure the 2nd string D

[10:10] Neal J Thurman: so, if you were SAF, what would your shopping list look like for the Summer?

[10:11] JSpitzberg: working on a post, i hope ;-0

[10:11] Neal J Thurman: not yet - just starting to think about it

[10:30] JSpitzberg: how much does it depend on hargreaves' health?

[10:32] Neal J Thurman: good question

[10:33] JSpitzberg: set at GK and D

[10:33] JSpitzberg: fair assumption?

[10:33] Neal J Thurman: not 100% sold on the GK situation but I think SAF is

[10:34] Neal J Thurman: D could use an additional CB but that's engineering at the margins - no starters needed

[10:34] JSpitzberg: rio/vidic

[10:35] JSpitzberg: evans the backup and brown, neville, oshea can all play in the middle

[10:35] JSpitzberg: left back - evra, fabio, de leat (sp?)

[10:35] JSpitzberg: right - neville, rafael, oshea, brown

[10:36] Neal J Thurman: yup - if it were me and i had the money, I'd still buy one additional CB - I like evans but Brown/Neville/OShea is trouble (IMO)

[10:36] JSpitzberg: try convincing the glazers ;-)

[10:37] JSpitzberg: mid - fletcher, carrick, anderson your starting 3?

[10:37] Neal J Thurman: not good times

[10:38] JSpitzberg: scholes, gibson, hargraeves, giggs can also play centrally

[10:38] Neal J Thurman: have to assume scholes is done

[10:38] JSpitzberg: djemba djemba, kleberson

[10:38] Neal J Thurman: lol

[10:39] Neal J Thurman: honestly, I'd try to sell Carrick

[10:39] JSpitzberg: man... the ghost of steve sidwell

[10:39] Neal J Thurman: Giggs has to be treated like Bergy was the last year (we might get something from him but we should consider it a bonus)

[10:39] JSpitzberg: bigger fall from grace in the last 2 years?

[10:39] Neal J Thurman: who? Carrick?

[10:40] JSpitzberg: sidwell.

[10:40] JSpitzberg: best player on a crap team to...

[10:40] JSpitzberg: end of the bench guy on a great team...

[10:40] JSpitzberg: to middle of the bench on a good team

[10:40] JSpitzberg: though if barry leaves...

[10:40] JSpitzberg: "bide your time, steve. your time will come."

[10:41] Neal J Thurman: will be interesting to see what happens to Petrov vs. Sidwell if Barry leaves

[10:41] JSpitzberg: spet just signed a new deal

[10:41] JSpitzberg: all the buzz about how great he's been in a deeper role

[10:41] JSpitzberg: who has fallen further - sidwell or nrc?

[10:42] Neal J Thurman: excellent question

[10:42] Neal J Thurman: I'd have to say NRC because he isn't even in contention for his preferred spot

[10:43] Neal J Thurman: and there isn't even an above average player blocking his path

[10:43] JSpitzberg: sidwell?

[10:44] Neal J Thurman: I meant at right back

[10:44] Neal J Thurman: but I guess the CM answer is that NRC has fallen farther since Sidwell seems to be ahead of him in the midfield pecking order

[10:44] JSpitzberg: but this is a tangent

[10:45] Neal J Thurman: agreed

[10:45] JSpitzberg: is diarra happy at madrid?

[10:45] JSpitzberg: he's been there a couple of months...

[10:45] Neal J Thurman: main question is whether ManYoo has ANY midfielders worth keeping

[10:45] JSpitzberg: that's when he usually moves on

[10:45] Neal J Thurman: lol

[10:45] Neal J Thurman: especially since they won exactly as much as Pompey did this season :-)

[10:46] JSpitzberg: all the talk about wigan losing palacios and heskey...

[10:46] JSpitzberg: no one talks about pompey losing diarra and defoe

[10:47] JSpitzberg: and utaka dying some time last summer

[10:49] Neal J Thurman: well, in truth, he really died in November of 2007

[10:49] Neal J Thurman: was only really alive for about 8 weeks

[10:49] JSpitzberg: lol

[10:50] Neal J Thurman: he was Zaki before being Zaki was cool

[10:51] JSpitzberg: careful, you're talking about the best striker in international football

[10:51] Neal J Thurman: heh

[10:51] Neal J Thurman: Utaka or Zaki?

[10:51] JSpitzberg: the latter.

[10:52] JSpitzberg: Wigan have finally concluded the loan signing of Egypt striker Amr Zaki, currently ranked by Fifa as the best striker in the world.

[10:52] JSpitzberg: 27 goals in 48 games for his country put him at the top of Fifa's player rankings

[10:52] Neal J Thurman: wow - and who knows more about the game than FIFA?

[10:53] Neal J Thurman: wonder where Healy sits on that list :-)

[10:53] JSpitzberg: lol

[10:53] Neal J Thurman: scores by the bucket for Norn Ireland

[11:03] JSpitzberg: @ sun now, right?

[11:07] JSpitzberg:

Premier League Season Wrap-Up

... and fantasy season breakdown and awards.
I was slow to pick up on this year's dearth of striking options and emphasis on defence and goals from midfield. It will be interesting to see if that continues into next season.

Who could know?

Give the man his due: Ruud Gullit got a lot of things wrong while indifferently trotting alongside Los Angeles Galaxy proceedings for a few months in 2008. But he sure had MLS pegged on one account.

Gullit seemed exasperated after one particular match last year, admitting, more or less, that he was struggling to identify patterns and recurring themes in MLS. "Who could know?" he said with a comical shrug of the shoulders. Scouting was difficult because teams and individuals were all over the place in terms of form and predictability. For a man so used to keeping a steady beat in Europe, he found himself struggling to catch the cadence of decidedly less orderly MLS.

And that goes double for trying to play fantasy is this crazy league!

Lee Dixon: Sweat the Small Stuff

A very interesting article from Lee Dixon, speaking to BBC Sport, on how it's the little things in the game that can make a real difference. Great advice for any players or managers, and applicable to any walk of life.
It's the little things like being in position quickly from throw-ins and set pieces. The teams at the bottom seem to not take those positions that seriously and, all of a sudden, they lose the ball and are under attack.

Little things from West Brom's game against Liverpool were where a shout would have enabled a player to either leave the ball, bring it down or knock it back to the keeper.

But nothing is said and the player puts the ball out for a corner. At this level if you are giving the top teams corners and free-kicks around the box because of a lack of communication then you are asking for trouble.

Chelsea 1 - Barcelona 1

Click on the arrow in the player (not down on the menu bar).

1-0 M.Essien 9'

1-1 Iniesta 90'

Great moments in commentary

I think we'll see goals and Villa will run away with it 4-1 - but it still wouldn't surprise me if Hull went there and got a result

Thank you, Paul Merson.

Update:  In the end, the answer was C) as Villa beat Hull 1-0 by hanging on to a first half goal from Carew.