Posts Tagged With: Manchester City

Sunday 13th May: Man City, Madrid, Milan & Memories

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you are probably aware that on Sunday 13th May Manchester City were crowned champions of the Premier League in one of the most dramatic climaxes to a title race ever, right up there with likes of Liverpool v Arsenal 1988/89 and the final day of the Eredivisie 2006/07 both of which have featured on Mountain’s Short Thoughts & Bits in recent weeks. Add in the three-way scramble for the final guaranteed Champions League place not to mention relegation battle controversy and it was some end to a truly memorable season.

 

In Spain and Italy the titles were already wrapped up but far from making the final day meaningless, it was still one that will be long remembered…

Real Madrid signed off in style by beating Mallorca 4-1 to end the season on a record breaking three figure points total, topping Barcelona’s record of 99 points from 2009/10, whilst the win also saw them break the record for matches won in a single season.

Their 121 goals scored is also a record (an average of over 3 per game!). Their goal difference of +89 is also a record. Their 16 away wins is also a record. Sunday 13th May was the day that Madrid set down a marker, they didn’t just successfully prise the title away from the current Barcelona team, they redefined what was possible in La Liga and placed themselves firmly back at the top of the domestic pile.

A  Very Special Season

In Italy Sunday 13th May saw four true club legends bring their AC Milan careers to an end in a 2-1 win against Navara. Having each given at least a decade of service (a combined total of 43 years at the club) Alessandro Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf are moving on in search of one final challenge before hanging up their boots for good.

Thank you for Everything

The fab four’s Milan trophy cabinet contains 2 Champions Leagues, 2 Scudetti, 1 Coppa Italia, 2 Supercoppe Italiane, 1 Club World Cup and 2 European Supercups. As Cassano says injuries may have cost Milan the title this season having been leading as late as March, robbing the outgoing heroes of a fairytale ending. The truth however may be far more interwoven with the tale of the departing four as there is of course one man missing from the picture above, somebody who was also at Milan for a decade and was there with them for every single trophy but who found another challenge at the end of last season before it was too late to do so at the top level. That man is of course Andrea Pirlo who was instrumental for Juventus in 2011/12 providing more assist (13) than any other player in Serie A. Milan’s loss was Juventus’ sizeable gain and it seems likely that this may have been the real difference.

Despite having already missed out on the title ‘Super Pippo’ Inzaghi, who scored in the World Cup in 2006 on his last ever appearance for Italy, did not of course disappoint scoring the winner on his final, emotional appearance for Milan…

Elsewhere in Italy another outgoing legend did get his fairytale ending. Sunday 13th May saw Alessandro Del Piero play his final game for Juventus in a match, like Madrid’s, where only a place in the record books was at stake. A 1-3 victory over Atalanta, in which Del Piero of course scored, saw Juve complete an entire Serie A season undefeated; the first team to do so since Capello’s Milan in 1991/92 and the first ever to do so in a 38 game season.

Invincible

Those of you who read my piece on Ronaldo’s retirement last  year will know that these era ending moments in player’s careers give me pause for thought. That piece contained quotes from Del Piero about Il Fenomeno as well as one from Batistuta who said “For me, Ronaldo is football“, well for me (along with Paolo Maldini who retired in 2009), Del Piero is Calcio going right back to my childhood. Thank you for the memories.

Sunday 13th May 2012, quite a day in football.

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Peter Crouch, Wonder Goals & Trevor Sinclair‽

There can be no doubt that Peter Crouch’s goal against Man City on Saturday was something special. Goal of the season? Almost definitely, it was sublime. The best he’ll ever score in his career? Quite possibly but it is certainly not the first ‘wonder goal’ he’s ever scored.

*Click on the pic for a gif of the goal

This is mostly due to the fact that Crouch is something of a specialist when it comes to the holy grail of finishes: the overhead kick, memorably producing this piece of magic (or it’s close relation the scissor kick) for Liverpool in the Champions League against Galatasaray as well as against Bolton and even against current club Stoke City during his time at Portsmouth. (Just don’t mention the air shot against Egypt… Although on the topic of Crouch for England you should really read this piece: The Peter Crouch Myth by Liam Ferry.)

Limbs everywhere! (and Rigobert Song!!!)

Overhead kicks are simply excellent, they exist in a world parallel to all other types of goal requiring perfect technique, concentration and athleticism as well as confidence and audacity. (Not to mention the fact that they’re almost impossible to recreate on concrete playgrounds!)

The video linked to below (because they won’t let me embed it) contains not only Crouch but a selection of the very best overhead kicks ever scored such as a ludicrous goal from Mauro Bressan against Barcelona. Unsurprisingly many are the work of some of the greatest goalscorers the world has ever known such as a top corner finish from Van Basten or some unbelievable improvisation from Ronaldinho (less so from Zlatan…). I am a purest however: the ‘overhead’ kick is not in fact the pinnacle at all, what is even better is a true bicycle kick.

For this there are only a couple of contenders. Firstly Rivaldo’s flawless goal against Valencia, the work of a true Brazilian great but by setting himself up, however brilliantly, he detracts from the technique required for the bicycle kick itself.

This leaves the greatest overhead kick of all time…

Possibly the greatest goal ever…

as the work of one Trevor Sinclair of Queens Park Rangers (1996-1997 season)

Textbook execution. Outside the box. Take a bow son:

YouTube: Overhead Kicks – Some of the greatest and the best in the world of Football

(apologies in advance for the OC soundtrack)

1995/96 (QPR were relegated to Division 1 for 1996/97)

(For just the Sinclair goal, with a much more amusing Babylon Zoo soundtrack, click here)

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Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week: I Remember When You Played… Pundits (Part 1 – Sky Sports)

This week it’s a look back at the glory days of some of Sky Sports’ finest…

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From 1993/94: Paul Merson, Tony Gale, Alan Smith, Iain Dowie

From 1994/95: Jamie Redknapp, Paul Walsh,

From 1996/97: Gary Neville

[All these (and more…) can be found in the Sticker Archive]

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When Noel Gallagher met Mario Balotelli

What you want to know:

According to Super Mario he DIDN’T:

  • Give £1,000 of casino winnings to tramp.
  • Take a boy back to school when he turned up at the training ground or speak to any teachers or bullies (He did ask the kid why he wasn’t at school though).
  • Buy everyone at The Tudor pub in Wythenshawe a drink.
  • Pay for everyone’s fuel at a petrol station.
  • Drive around Manchester dressed as Santa.
But he DID:
  • Get sent out for an ironing board and come back with a quad bike, a Scalextric and a trampoline.
  • Go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve and put some money in the collection plate (but not £1,000).
  • Set up fireworks in his house because he was bored (but claims that he wasn’t going to light them and that he’d left the room when they went off – apparently only his curtains were set alight).

See the full interview here:

BBC Sport – The Big Interview: When Noel Gallagher met Mario Balotelli

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