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Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Nowhere in Europe, especially the world..."

Who would have guessed that Manchester United would be bounced out of Europe before the middle of December - and not just out of the Champions League, but out of Europe completely? Sir must be hitting the roof, but there's really not much he can do... especially if he's still intent on saving the Glazers' money for the summertime.

How long will that money be at his disposal, though? Vodafone's exit as shirt sponsor cost the Glazers 18 million pounds. Some of that money - probably not all of it, given recent performance - could be recouped if another bidder steps in. But the exit from Europe could be more serious. By the reckoning of fellow guff supplier Bill Hutchison, the Red Mist have just lost $12 million that they'll never see again.

So let's say the team takes a 50 percent haircut on the shirt deal, too. That's a loss of about 16 million pounds in total. Pretty bad month, eh? It's not likely to get better soon. About the best Sir's boys can do this year is win the FA Cup, and that won't exactly set the world on fire for the prawn sandwich brigade (this link only for those with strong stomachs).

TDH can hear the telephone ringing at the home of one Martin O'Neill, and it's long distance from Florida....


TDH has been moved to mount a further defense of the US national team - if not its players, then at least its chances in the World Cup.

As TDH had the pleasure of demonstrating about a month ago, the US is now capable of fielding an XI made up entirely of regular players for top division teams in England, Germany and the Netherlands. How many of the other 31 qualifiers can say that, or something just as good?

By TDH's reckoning, Mexico is one seed that can't. Outside the seeds, the only countries that can are probably the Netherlands and Portugal, if you rate their own league as highly as the Bundesliga or the Eredivisie. So that puts the US in the top 10, with a good chance of repeating as quarter-finalists. And this is without considering the advantages from stability in coaching and the squad, as outlined in comments below.

Any arguments?


Finally, the Souness Death Watch has gone into full swing. Is there any point in waiting to see if the injuries abate and Souey can use a full squad (because they probably won't) or whether the Toon can beat the Goon (because they probably won't)?

Surely, there's no new information to be had here - better to make a fresh start as soon as possible. As Jet Li instructs us in The Tai-Chi Master, "Put down your burden, and run toward the new life!" (Whoops! TDH meant to direct you here.)


Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

First off, on United: the problem seems to be the players, not the manager, if you ask me. Of course, the manager buys the players, but if I was a United fan I'd die if Martin O'Neill got the job. They need someone who can rebuild a top side through canny purchases, not someone whose only skill seems to be the institution of tactical rigour.

And now - on to the US. Surely you would agree that its not where the players play that counts, but how well they work together as a unit? As such, I would rate the US chances around 14th or 15th, behind the seeds, Czech Rep, Netherlands, Portugal and possibly Poland and Sweden, too. And thats not even considering the teams I don't know so well, such as the new African entries.

In any case, being a usual starter for Charlton (Spector) hardly indicates the same level of merit a sometime starter for Milan (Jankulovski)

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me the US will always be hamstrung by the lack of competitveness of CONCACAF. The US in any given year will only really come up against poor to middling international sides competitively. It's no real preparation for the finals themselves. The layman will always be wary of placing the US amongst the world's best for this reason. It is also the reason why the US can only really hope for a final 8 place at best.

Assimilating into the South American qualifying would make a difference. It would allow them to make the step up to become one of the teams challenging for the World Cup itself. It would also allow doubters like myself the chance to guage how good this American team really is, rather than having to wait every four years to see how well they acquit themselves in the World Cup.

I think you could possibly equate it to the problems Australia have had raising their game to play the South americans in playoffs, after having only played teams like Fiji and the Solomon Islands. The US are undoubtedly a talented side. But we have no way of knowing how good they are until they're playing the good solid teams in competitive matches regularly.

11:34 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

I'd love to see the US playing against the South American teams more regularly. We might even be able to qualify in CONMEBOL if we took a slot with us from CONCACAF.

But it'll never happen - the geography is just too weird. There would have to be a complete change in qualifying, with ability becoming more important in determining slots. Africa and Asia would probably lose a slot or two to the also-ran European teams.

I think the US is "stuck" with what we have now - the players try to prove themselves against the best in the world in Europe, and then they play lesser teams in qualifying. They trade off the easier qualifying route in CONCACAF - with 3.5 slots up for grabs - against the lack of experience playing tough matches. For now, it's probably a good trade. If the US keeps hitting a wall in the quarter-finals, it might be time to lobby for something else.

1:55 PM  

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