Friday, September 28, 2007

Weekend Outlook (29 Sep 2007)

Birmingham City vs Manchester United

"...From the game stats (Carling Cup ManUtd vs Coventry), it is evident that our next generation of players are still not quite ready for the big time..."
- JayWalk, 29 Sep 2007

It's a pity to see Mourinho go in this fashion. It was as if Chelsea was discarding him as if he was a dud, a non-performer, a jiak-liao-bee. Perhaps the management did not recognise the fact that it was he, the Special One, and only he was solely responsible for transforming a mediocre club to that of a powerhouse overnight. Did all the trophies just fall from the sky out of nowhere?

I feel sorry for Avram Grant, for he was handled the Poison Chalice if for a moment , anyone think that the Israeli, without any proper qualification, can fill the shoes left behind by Mourinho? I wouldn't even dare to call it wishful optimism. I call it lunatic hallucination.

Speaking of lack of qualifications, I agree with Sir Alex that we should not allow Grant to manage Chelsea without an UEFA Pro license. Why should Chelsea be granted special dispensation? They should have thought this through prior to their knee-jerk sacking. Shouldn't there be a price to pay for a rash and foolish decision?

We have come a long way to break the race from that of a 2-horse (ManUtd & Arsenal), then 3 (ManUtd, Arsenal & Liverpool) to that of a 4-horse (ManUtd, Arsenal, Liverpool & Chelsea) race. Now we are probably back to 3 and I am sure you would agree that we have taken a step backwards? With Mourinho gone, I would expect Chelsea to sink back to mid-table and I guarantee you a mass exodus of players in the summer would ensued. Get ready for some exciting shopping spree next Summer.

Strangely how this season is more about the managers than about the players. This is the problem with too much money, resulting in the top brass, with absolutely no fooball technical know-how, interfering with how a manager should do his job. Heck, even Michael Jackson is doing better as management at Exeter City than the dumbasses at Spurs!

I hate to see Martin Jol go as he is so close to breaking into the Top4 (even easier now that Chelsea is spiraling into the abyss), albeit a spate of bad luck in recent weeks. Perhaps if the Brass Monkeys were to get off his back, he would be able to better focus on doing his job? If Jol goes, Spurs is gone and even relegated. Berbatov would be kicking his own ass for staying put. Perhaps he thought League Championship trumps Premier League, of which the former has the word "Championship"? Then again, fret not for smart guy should have a relegation escape clause in his contract if, Spurs were to go down, albeit unlikely.

Anyway, enough of that and let's talk about our disastrous midweek. Granted that it's the Carling Cup and meant for the ManUtd kiddies to run about, I hate to lose so early in the tournament as I would have preferred to get in a few more opportunities to blood this youngsters. Losing so early also means having to wait till FA Cup before these understudies get another shot on the field.

Oh yah. It sucks to lose at Old Trafford too.

From the game stats, it is evident that our next generation of players are still not quite ready for the big time. Playing at home against a lower league First XI and yet we failed to dominate the game. We lost control of the game and paid the price of 2 goals.

Much work to do, we have.

JayWalk The Talk: Just as mid-week European matches have a tendency to derail one of the big boy teams, the same goes for the lower clubs when it comes to domestic cup ties as they have a tendency to play their full squad rather than their B teams as per normal big boys' practice.

Well, the exception this time round was Birmingham as Steve Bruce rested quite a number of key players ahead of this massive clash against his former teacher. Unfortunately, like his former boss, Bruce's side also suffered elimination via a 0-3 loss to another of Fergie's former prodigy, Mark Hughes.

Fletcher, Park, Silvestre and Foster are still out. Neville and Hargreaves are back in training but I doubt if they will feature today for they are still quite a distance away from full match fitness. Last week's goal scorer Saha is set to start from the bench to make way for Tevez and Rooney both of whom were well rest ahead of today's game.

On the Brummies side, Oubina and Forssell are out for the latter has to undergo a hernia operation and may be out of action for the next 4 to 6 weeks.

JayWalk The Walk:
Bookies are making ManUtd give up a 1-ball handicap and a 1.95 decimal odds to overcome it. Fair odds in my opinion this time but my advice to those who are punting on ManUtd, do so earlier as I forsee the odds jumping in Birmingham's favour as we approaches kick-off.

Under any other day, I would have punt for a ManUtd win. No question about it. However, given that we will be hosting AS Roma in the coming midweek, I am not so sure. Had it been any other team, I wouldn't be as worried but AS Roma is a team with an axe to grind after we decimated them 7-0 last season.

I am sure they will not let this lie down so easily and so I expect AS Roma to come into the game as if it is the ECL final.

From another angle, history and tradition speak volumes as Fergie has a knack of beating (well... most of the time) former Red Devils, namely messrs Bruce, Robson, McClaren, Keane, Strachan, Macari, Coppell and Hughes. I hope to add Ince to the list some day too.

Also, it's been 29 years since Birmingham defeated ManUtd and I forsee Birmingham struggle to even scrape a draw. Problem is that ManUtd aren't firing all cylinders in the scoring department and the 1-ball handicap may be a challenge to win some money for beer. Sure, we beat Chelsea 2-0 last week but it was only because we were playing against a headless chicken and yah... Saha cheated the penalty. Heck, even Birmingham scored more goals than us.

To bet or not to bet, that is the question. I don't forsee anybody getting anything out of this game for I think this would be a 1-goal margin victory, either 1-0 or 2-1 in favour of the Red Devils. The "cup half-full" side would view this as risk free since money will come back anyway, should my prediction holds true.

My style is I don't punt on time wasters. Portsmouth and Everton look to be better punts for me this week.

Disclaimer: The above views are purely my own two-cents' worth. In other words, I cannot and will not guarantee that my predictions are accurate. If you want to bet on the game, do so at your own risk. Also, please bet responsibly and within your means regardless of how "sure thing" that game may appear to be. As the old saying goes, "The Ball Is Round". Good luck.


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