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Friday, May 05, 2006

"I am not surprised by anything that happens in football but still felt profound shock when it actually happened last night."

TDH had to mirror some of Stevie Mac's endless smiles
today after the signing of his new contract. Whatever
you may think of his coaching ability, you can't doubt
that he's a nice guy. And as TDH has said, he may just
have the combination of amiability, no-nonsense coaching
and respect for the players that England will need in the
next four years.

There were two bits of good news from today's Gooners v
Mooners match, and their names were Sol Campbell and
Ashley Cole. Both looked fit, active and, at times, even
dangerous. That said, Cole is lucky Ebouye plays on the

Other notes: 1) The underwear model's opener was clearly
offside, though it was a neat little bit of play. 2)
There was absolutely no excuse for giving Earl "The
Pearl" Reyes so much time to tee up the third goal that
he might as well have been on the practice field. 3)
Samaras is so much better than Vassell that the former's
insightful passes took Empty completely by surprise. How
did he ever manage to get hold of that England jersey in
the first place?


It was a good night for Argentine teams in the Copa
Libertadores. Estudiantes managed to squeak past Goias
into the quarterfinals by the narrowest of margins,
obtaining a 3-3 aggregate win care of a single away goal.
Somehow the goalkeeper got Man of the Match despite
conceding all three strikes, the last one a softie as
injury time was beginning. Still, not bad for a small
team from La Plata.

How big was the Corinthians v River Freight second leg?
Well, The Especially Itinerant One was in the audience!
Yes, let's hope the little jaunt will sabotage his
preparations for Sunday's match at St. James's Park.
(That, er, comprehensive scouting report he used earlier
this season has nothing - NOTHING - to do with the
current squad.)

But back to the result, and a strange one it was. Paper
Plate had most of the ball in the first half, but the
Columns managed to steal a goal on a nice header by
Nilmar. For the moment, that gave them another 3-3
aggregate win with two away goals from the first leg.

Quiver was clearly (like Jell-O, get it?) the better and
fitter side, though, and it wasn't long before the tide
began to turn. First, Coelho looked plain old Ionic as
he headed a cross backwards and into his own net. Then,
that little prick Gallardo used a nifty pass to give
Higuain an easy finish. Moments later, in the 82nd
minute, a mess in front of the home side's goal gave the
visitors a third.

And then, the local support got angry. They started
rushing the fences around the pitch, forcing the police
to beat them back with batons. The photographers
snapping shots of the front line may actually have been
the more effective deterrent, but two fans still managed
to slip through and tried to attack Coelho. Within a few
minutes, after at least one cop was injured, the
situation was under control. By then, however, the game
had been abandoned.

This kind of behavior has no place in sport. TDH has
often wondered why American stadiums don't suffer the
same plague of violence. Is it because of the higher
entry prices, the presence of seating or the fact that
games are seen as a family affair? Perhaps. Some people
say Americans don't care as much about their teams, but
TDH would respond that they go just as wild - only with
merchandise and statistics, though, not with missiles and

Is it socioeconomic? Do young men who support
Corinthians have less to hope for in life than young men
who support the Chicago Cubs or the Golden State
Warriors? Are they more frustrated? Could be, but TDH
is betting there are other factors at work, too. Any
ideas, loyal readers?


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