Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Just How Good Is Lionel Messi ????

 Very, is the simple answer here.
Yet another formidable performance from the Argentinian magician against English Champions Manchester United at Wembley in the Champions League Final saw his club Barcelona cruise to a 3-1 win at the hands of the Manchester club.
The win propelled the Spanish giants to super-stardom, that's if you have been living on Mars for the last few years that is!!!
The victory saw Barca notch up their fourth European Cup victory, this followed them winning their third consecutive domestic title, beating their bitter rivals Real Madrid into second again.
Now I watch a lot of Football and I am now starting to run out of superlatives for this current Barcelona side, just the sheer dominance of the past couple of season speaks volumes but here I am going to spell out just how influential and consistent the jewel in their crown is, the one, the only, Lionel Messi.
I heard some rumours about the chance of Cristiano Ronaldo being touted around for the extraordinary price tag of £150 million!!!!! Yes you did read that right, £1 5 0 M i l l i o n.
Now I'm not his biggest fan but I certainly can appreciate the class of the man, he really is something special, but, he is half the player Messi is, so if Ronaldo is worth £150 million, just how much would Messi be worth???
Obviously he won't be going anywhere, but you must be thinking in the region of £200 million if the tariff has been set with the Ronaldo price. There are so many reasons why he would command more money, here are but a few......
  • He IS consistent.
  • He scores goals.......consistently.
  • He works his socks off for 90mins EVERY game.
  • He never sulks. 
  • He has bundle's of skill & an end product.
Ronaldo has a couple of these qualities but if you are forking out some serious cash for either one of these players, both of which have been billed as 'The Best Player on Earth', I certainly know which one I'd be contacting and begging them to join my ranks.
So Messi IS the best in the world, I can't find any other reason at all to think otherwise, but how does he compare to the Greats of years gone by????
In my un-professional opinion the Greatest player ever is Pele, run close by Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and George Best.

These four players were once the dominant figure's of the footballing world.
George Best was probably the best example of pure Natural enjoyment of the game, personified. Unbelievable close control, wizardry, and of course could finish the moves or runs off in considerable style. The only disappointment for him was that hailing from Northern Ireland he never got the chance to perform on the World's greatest stage, The World Cup, but he certainly performed everywhere else he could, even off the pitch which was perhaps his own downfall.
Zidane was for the want of a better word 'Mecurial'. He floated around the pitch with such ease it was breathtaking, mixed in was the skill's, trick's and flicks that every supporter wants to see, unless it was against your team and even then you have to applaud. He could also add goals to his armour through either foot and indeed his head, but for Zidane his greatest moment came playing for Real Madrid at Hampden Park in the Champions League Final in 2002 where he performed the most perfect of volley's even then most picky of technique hunters couldn't argue with. Sadly his career ended in controversy as he was sent off for the 'infamous' headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final on Italy's Marco Materazzi, but this was after Zidane became only the fourth player in history to score in two different World Cup Finals.
Maradona needs no introduction, especially if you are English, but the little Argentinian was undoubtedly a Genius when it came to football. For English fan's he will ALWAYS be remembered for the 'Hand of God' goal in the 1986 World Cup Quarter Final. But if you delve past this controversial moment you will also find the 'Goal of the Century' in the same game by the enigmatic Maradona. It truly was one of the best goals ever and it wasn't the only goal like that he scored I'm sure. Again close control, trickery galore and goals to boot. As with the previous 'Great's' his career veered towards self destruct as in 1994 in U.S.A World Cup he was sent home in disgrace for failing a drugs test.
Last but be no means least, in my opinion, the GREATEST PLAYER of ALL TIME....
Edison "Edson" Arantes do Nascimento.......of better known to the masses as PELE.
The Brazilian wonder was the epitome of everything a footballer should be, power, pace, skill's never seen before, passes from heaven, idea's worthy of coming from Einstein, and all rolled into a 5ft 8" man from Tres Coracoes in Brazil.
He made his mark in his home country before blowing the minds of the footballing world when he was an un-known 17 year old, announcing to the world the next generation of footballer to everyone. Skills that the European game had never thought possible, and all from this youngster from Brazil.
His career was only just beginning, and without writing his entire career out for you guys, because believe me I would be here all day, I'll sum it up......1,281 goals in 1363 games.....
Any player that has a record like this I think it speaks for itself......
So where does Lionel Messi rank in amongst all of these illustrious names?????
Given he is only a mere 23 years of age at present, he has already won five La Liga Title's, three Champions League Winners medals, scoring in two of the three, and he also became the youngest player ever for his National Team in 2006.
Clearly there is plenty more to come from Messi, I already rate him in my personal top three, those being Pele, Maradona and now his compatriot Messi, but I certainly believe that he is more than capable of at least over-taking Maradona in that list.

It is obvious that to try and compare Messi to Pele, as they are separated by nearly 50 years, the game has changed so much, most of it due to the Brazilian, especially the beautiful football that is now the Holy Grail for so many club's, one that I personally think Messi's current side has now found.
So I now leave the final judgement to you, just how good IS Lionel Messi, my verdict....not bad at all....

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the 2010/2011 season......

Yes the Premier League 2010/2011 season has come to a dramatic end, with both ends of the table sharing happiness and disappointment in maybe not so equal measures.....
The top of the pile saw Manchester United crowned League Champions yet again, taking their league title's tally to a staggering 19, seeing them overtake their fiercest rivals Liverpool who are still languishing on 18, and have been since 1990.
This years honour saw Sir Alex Ferguson's personal haul reach an unbelievable 12 of the 19 on his own!!!
His side may not have been the vintage quality of previous teams constructed by the Scot but they certainly were effective, and deservedly took the title, as the league never lies, they were the best team.
Chelsea ended up second after a storming end to the campaign which looked unlikely at the end of January.
But a flurry of results pulled them close to United only to see their title challenge come to an end at the home of the Champions. Their manager Carlo Ancelotti took the brunt of the 'poor' season by being shown the door immediately after the final game against Everton, leaving Chelsea looking for their eighth, yes eighth manager in just seven years, an astounding statistic for a club that only did the double 365 days previous in the Italians first season at the helm.

United's neighbours City concreted their place in the Champions League proper next season by over-hauling Arsene Wenger's faltering Arsenal side to finish 3rd and the Londoners 4th. The City manager Roberto Mancini fulfilled his target of Top flight European football for the avid followers of The Blues. Also in his first season he managed to mastermind an F.A Cup victory giving the fans their first piece of silverware in 35 years.
Arsenal stuttered into the final Champions League spot with a drab end to their season, leaving Gooners feeling baffled at where it went wrong......again. Also more questions are now hovering around at whether Mr Wenger is still the man for the job due to yet another season with nothing to show for their efforts at playing truly brilliant football to watch.

Spurs and surprise package Liverpool battled to the final day for the Europa League spot with the London club coming out on top. Harry's Lillywhite's must be happy with their season this year, their first year in the Champions League giving them a good showing reaching the Quarter Finals but defeated by Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid over two legs, but Spurs introduced themselves on the European stage in great fashion beating some of the games giants. Their European adventure I feel hindered their domestic form slightly but they held on top pip the Merseysider's to fifth place.
The middle of the table saw the one-time relegation threatened Liverpool and Everton drag themselves out of the mire to finish strongly giving their fans a more optimistic outlook for next season.

The Red half under now confirmed new manager King Kenny, appointed caretaker boss following the sides poor start under Roy Hodgson, the Scot steered his beloved club out of the danger zone and amazingly into contention for the final European place, just falling short after a tiring run-in.
A good finish to the season by Everton saw them follow their neighbours out of the relegation zone and on the tails of the Red's showing their quality for a battle and brilliant guidance of David Moyes.
The drama turned very much to the bottom half of the table in the final few games as six teams battled to stay in the English top division.
The first team to suffer their fate was West Ham, a truly dismal season saw the Hammers drop into the Championship, and as a result Avram Grant lost his job.

This now leaves themselves looking for a new manager to guide them back into the Premier League. Star players such as Scott Parker and Robert Green will surely be sold to the highest bidder, making their return all the more difficult I'm sure. But overall, the Hammers deserved to go down, at times they showed great character, and others they were awful, truly truly awful, possibly the worst West Ham side I have seen for many years.
Their fate was sealed the penultimate weekend of the season, which left the remaining five teams above them to battle it out on the final weekend, a mouth-watering prospect, and it didn't disappoint.
It was simple, if your team started with the letter 'B' or 'W', your team was almost certain to be involved, the list was.....Blackburn, Blackpool, Birmingham, Wigan and Wolves. Goal difference was tight and the possibilities were endless with respect to results and permutations of those results.
As goals went in at the various grounds involving these teams, the picture changed it seemed by the minute, goals scored, goals against, and the point difference all came into action.
 The final standings saw Blackpool and Carling Cup winners Birmingham follow West Ham down into the country's second tier, Blackpool only having a solitary year in the top flight but gave the league a much needed breath of fresh air with regards to passion and hunger, none more so then their manager Ian Holloway who with his amusing press conferences and honest opinions, will be sorely missed next year.

So an overall view of the season passed.......Great for the Manchester clubs, both successful in the League and Cup's, United paving the way for yet another batch of players under Sir Alex and City for rising from the 'also-rans' into legitimate title contenders for next year, and reaching the Champions League.
A good season for Tottenham
Much the same target for the hungry Liverpool supporters who desperately want their club to end their title drought and under the management of Dalglish
The club's that escaped the drop will definitely look forward and look to strengthen their squads to keep them out of the dog-fight next time around, and the clubs that enter the Premier League on the 13th August, Champions Q.P.R, and fellow automatic placed Norwich both return to the top division after lengthy periods away, while the final place will go to either Swansea or Reading via the money-spinning Play-offs this Bank Holiday Monday.
All three teams will try to avoid returning immediately back to the Championship but with every season that passes the fine line between the two leagues getting thinner and thinner their tasks will be as hard as ever...

One last game i need to mention is the Champions League Final between Manchester United and Spanish giants Barcelona, staged at Wembley.

Both sides were crowned Champions of their domestic leagues, and in a fitting end to the season they face off in the European showpiece......Messi will take centre stage once again as he will go up against Wayne Rooney who has returned to form at just the right time for the English side.
Can United stifle the Barca attacking brilliance?? For me, no. They simply have to much of that, but I wouldn't be surprised if United push them to the end, as we all know, they never give up and ALWAYS score.
Personally I don't think they will outscore Barca, and many teams have tried many different styles in order to stem the attacking tide, and failed. I am going to plump for a 2-1 Barcelona win.....
In my opinion, this current Barcelona side is the best club side I have seen, possibly since the United side of Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, Van Nistelrooy, Cantona, that type of era.
They are not far off the best team EVER, only the Brazil side of 1970 are better and that isn't by much nowadays as the likes of Messi continues to produce unbelievable performances almost every week.....
I hope this covers most of the points needed, you may not agree with me but I hope you can at least realise my points are valid more than not.
I wonder what the illustrious transfer window will bring.......I'll be keeping an eye on that and will be sharing my views on the happenings best I can.......