free geoip

Monday, August 28, 2006

How do you spell relief? D-e-a-d l-e-g

Relief. Much relief. That's what TDH felt today.

And you may well ask, loyal readers, why didn't TDH write something yesterday after the second fixture of the season? It was just too much. To lose our new 10-million-pound striker in his first game - to say nothing of losing 2-0 to Villa - made TDH physically ill.

But now comes news that Oba just had a bad dead leg, and Roeder may even have another striker in his plans. So TDH will wait and see, with the perennial tortured hope so familiar to other Toon supporters.


Ah yes, there were a few other matches at the weekend. Notably, Man City showed that yes, The Goon Show's pretty triangles can still be disrupted with a committed effort, as TDH repeatedly pointed out last season. And Drogba actually scored with a beautiful shot, rather pounding in one of his usual tank-smashes-through-brick-wall goals.


TDH made it back to Independiente on Sunday, enjoying the gorgeous sun and the continuous stream of Spanish invective that poured onto the incompetent referee, Daniel Gimenez, in one of the dirtiest matches in memory. Usually these affairs involve misdeeds on both sides, and indeed both squads received four yellow cards and two reds.

Yet Gimenez had it in for Independiente - that red was direct, apparently after Diaz said something not very favorable about one of the ref's sisters, cousins or eyesight. He made horrible call after horrible call as Banfield used their entire repertoire of foulnesses to slow down a superior team. But he did give Independiente two penalties, enough to make up for our crummy defense and allow Rolfi to win the day.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Listen, Boro has a good team...

Ooooh, it certainly looked like one of those patented 0-1 away wins that The Special One perfected last season, but for the absence of a 67th minute Terry header. So where did it all go wrong?

Chelsea does doesn't manage the ball as well as they should. Maybe it's a severe case of spinal Merengitis - too many stars who can't play together. The local commentators said Wayne Bridge was the Blues' best player, which made TDH worry a bit as his price might be rising. But it was true.

Sure, Sheva was pure class, making some incredible runs. (And it's still so odd to see him in England!) And no doubt, Essien is a tank. Yet there was none of the easy-going ball movement that helps teams like Barca and Arsenal to kill matches off.

If TDH had to point the finger, it would be squarely at Ricardo Carvalho. Half of his success is cheating - pulling back strikers by their shirts, only to let go as soon as the referee's gaze turns his way, grabbing keepers with both arms, elbowing shots aside... and the other half seems to be disappearing. Chelsea ought to play Gallas in the center, where he's always wanted to be, and make him forget about all this leaving silliness.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Victory in retreat

Losing only 5.2 million pounds on Jean-Alain Boumsong is the Dunkirk of Newcastle United.

TDH is glad that he's going to Juve. Imagine if he'd had to learn to pass to players wearing shirts that weren't black and white. That could have been too much. Yes, his transfer value was probably much less with other teams.


TDH saw Barca take on Bayern today at the Camp Nou. Home advantage notwithstanding, it was a complete blowout. Rijkaard swapped all 11 players at halftime, and it was still no contest. It's hard to imagine that a match between teams that once probably regarded themselves as equals could have been so lopsided.

Bayern showed absolutely nothing in the first 80 minutes or so, while Barca did its usual thing. L'il Ron scored a free kick that defied belief. Xavi just isn't fair. Even Zambro got into the act with a cheeky backheel pass. Substitutes - substitutes! - Giuly and Saviola combined to make Oliver Kahn look like a dancing monkey. Poor old Carlos Alberto Parreira must be wondering where the hell that buck-toothed Brazilian dude was in June.

Barca are now 4 to 1 favorites to win the Champions League with Betfair, with Chelsea at 9 to 2 and Bayern way down at 25 to 1. The Catalans are 3 to 5 on to win the Spanish League. And who'd bet against them?


Well, TDH is in a decidedly better mood with Martins' arrival apparently imminent and Gravesen being kept out by the Merengues. helpfully gives us the list of players who've been let go by Roeder: Viana, Caig, Brittain, Chopra, Bowyer, Elliott and Faye. Will TDH miss any of them? Not really, to be honest.

And who's come in? Well, Duff and Martins are simply different class from the names above. We should remember that Souness brought us Emre, Scottie P., Owen, Solano, and well, Babayaro. But he also spent 17.5 million pounds on Luque and Swansong. That's enough to buy another Owen.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A glimmer of hope?

BBC News tells us that Obafemi Martins is crowing about an imminent move to Tyneside. What with Roeder's pep talk for Amoeba before Saturday's match ("I'm not looking for someone to replace you; I'm looking for someone to play with you"), we may be heading for a Nigerian Connection! There's still a question about Martins - is he 22, as he says, or really as old as 28? For the moment, TDH won't worry too much about that. We need someone for the next 2-3 years, and then we can start flashing the cash again.


Newcastle's match at the weekend wasn't broadcast in Buenos Aires, but by the numbers it looks at though we were outplayed by Wigan and lucky to take all three points. Roeder's 4-5-1 (with Duff in the five) didn't create that many chances, but who knew Scottie P. would be banging in the headers, Big Al style? Hopefully it'll be enough until Martins or striker-to-be-named-later arrives. One has to wonder whether Jan Vennegoor of Herzegovina was in the picture, now that he's on his way to Celtic.


TDH did take in Arsenal at Ashburton Grove (just doesn't sound right). With a crowd of 60,023 in attendance and more of the same on the way, The Goon Show could someday turn into a big club!

Martin O'Neill will be very pleased to have stolen a point, but one has to wonder whether Lehmann's mind is still floating somewhere over Berlin. In other action, Real Madrid's latest line-up of galacticazos looked a bit disorganized in the Ramon de Carranza tournament - Capello hasn't sorted everything out yet, even if he did get Cassano to lose some weight. And Barca, well, still looks like Barca.


TDH didn't put Boulahrouz in the World Cup XI for nothing! And clearly The Special One was among the loyal readers. By the way, did Rio and Jose go to the same barber? What happened to everyone's hair? Is Ivan Campo next?


Finally, there's late news that the Magpies may be bought by investors from Jersey. No, not New Jersey, Jersey. Well, TDH doesn't much mind who owns the club as long as there's good management in place. If Warren Buffett had hired Graeme Souness, TDH would also have cursed him to hell.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Next up: Barca v Inter - the other Inter

Ah, the Copa Libertadores final. Both sides missed crystal-clear chances all through the match, and the defense was sloppy all around. But there were bright spots. Inter of Porto Alegre's talismanic captain, Fernandao, played end-to-end the whole match a la Drogba for Ivory Coast. And Clemer, their 38-year-old keeper, made a couple of splendid saves to seal the tie.

The Argie commentators finally stopped complimenting Elizondo after he expelled Inter's Tinga for celebrating the second goal by taking his shirt off; it was by the book, but "a bit harsh," as we always say. Still, the irrepressible Fernando Niembro managed to compare lively Inter to lowly Nueva Chicago, his own favorite team.

Rogerio Ceni, Sao Paulo's offensive-minded goalkeeper, didn't come upfield for the final corners - which was strange, especially for him. After the final whistle, helicopters flew through the smoke above the stadium, which, within minutes after the match ended, looked like the world's largest bong.

Porto Alegre may not be well-known in the world, but it can claim about 1.4 million people, about the same as all of Merseyside or Philadelphia. So why shouldn't it be champion of South America?


Toon case of good news, bad news. Bad news first: Owen may not play this season. Good news: We didn't sign Kanu to replace him. Maybe we can get Gallas to replace a certain other Frenchman? We can dream.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"In football two days is a long time, and a week is a very long time."

So said The Ruddy-Faced One many years ago, and it couldn't be more true for TDH. But TDH is back, and there's a lot of catching up to do.


First of all, TDH finally made the pilgrimage to Avellaneda to see Independiente play live and in person. The team, which first attracted TDH's attention on late-night cable in the US during the first Menotti Era, recently obtained for the third time the services of one Daniel Gaston "Rolfi" Montenegro, to whom TDH wrote a rather extended paean on March 21.

The knock on Rolfi has always been that he's a "pechofrio," someone who plays without emotion and doesn't care about the shirt. This reputation was undoubtedly enhanced by his frequent transatlantic moves (cuidate, this link is in Spanish). And as if facing the mounting suspicions of the hinchada from the start wasn't enough, he was replacing whiz-kid Sergio "El Kun" Aguero at number 10 and taking the captain's armband.

To all of this, TDH says, fuhgeddaboutit. Rolfi is the real deal. Having led Los Diablos Rojos (yes, the echo with Manure does grate a bit) in an away romp over Colon de Santa Fe, he personally destroyed Belgrano de Cordoba with a scintillating display. Rolfi was a constant threat all over the offensive half of the pitch, seeming to squirt out of traffic with the ball whenever play jammed up in midfield. He created two of the team's three goals and celebrated all of them wildly with the kids.

Independiente may not go all the way this year, but it's certain to be an entertaining ride. And dare TDH mention that there's more than a passing resemblance between Rolfi and Captain America? Coincidence? You be the judge, loyal readers!


Second, behold the Stevie Mac ascendancy. With just a couple of subtle changes, he seems to have stripped all the calcified plaque off the England squad, turning it into a slicing, dicing football machine capable of turning any inferior team into a pile of julienne. Or so we'd like to believe.

TDH has doubts. Yes, they began with the appointment of a certain fan of loud stripey ties as the new boss's assistant. Say what you will, El Tel is a one-way ticket to mediocrity. TDH figured Stevie Mac might just luck into something good, but with the blagger from Dagenham on board the future looks bleak.


Coverage of the Copa Libertadores second-leg final was completely off the hook, with pre-match interviews including one of referee Horacio "The Poet" Elizondo's Brazilian security guard. No doubt the match will be a huge thrill for the Argentine after the small matter of the 2006 World Cup final. Fascinating stuff - full report tomorrow.


Last but certainly not least, the Toon seem to be off to a flyer against Europe's minnows. TDH is hoping against hope that Roeder won't be fooled by Amoeba's early form against a bunch of teams with too many consonants in their names. Please no. Yet the gaffer's frank comments, reprinted here on, certainly do nothing to raise hopes of a big signing anytime soon. Ah well, the deadline is still 15 days away. Let us pray.