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Craig Carroll - Salford UniversityRSS | |
It was party time at the Hawthorns as West Brom and Manchester United played out a ten goal thriller in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in charge.
It is no wonder the seventy one year old manager is retiring after his side proved to be their own worst enemy, letting a three goal lead slip as they were pegged backed late on.
United initially lead the game 3-0 thanks to goals from Shinji Kagawa, Alexander Buttner and a Jonas Olsson own goal before James Morrison and substitute Romelu Lukaku reduced the deficit to 3-2.
Robin Van Persie and Javier Hernandez restored the Red Devils three goal lead, however three goals in six minutes including a strike from Youssef Mulumbu and a brace from Lukaku to clinch his hat trick ensured that both teams would share the spoils.
Both teams performed a guard of honour for Sir Alex Ferguson, who was taking charge of his 1500th and final game in charge. Little did he know what the following ninety minutes would bring.
United took the lead early on following some hard work by Javier Hernandez. The Mexican striker managed to get to Alexander Buttner’s overhit cross before it went out of play, he then produced a wonderful cross into the area for Kagawa to head past form Red’s keeper Ben Foster.
It was 2-0 shortly after as Kagawa, found Antonio Valencia waiting on the wing, his low cross being diverted into the net by baggie’s defender Olsson.
United were revelling in their dominancy as Hernandez, Van Persie both went close to increasing the lead whilst Olsson was relieved to see another deflection go out for a corner. However the Red Devils could not be kept at bay for much longer.
Fine link up play between Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Javier Hernandez put Buttner through on goal who produced a powerful finish to give United a three goal lead.
Ferguson dropped first choice pairing Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand for this game stating that “Jonny Evans and Phil Jones are the future” but they gave a sign of their defensive inexperience to let West Brom back into the game.
After Mexican international Hernandez missed a gilt edged chance to give United a four goal lead, West Brom opened up their account as James Morrison beat Phil Jones to the ball to slot home following a cross from Graham Dorrans.
Steve Clarke seized the initiative at half time, sending on Belgian international Lukaku to change the game.
He took little time to make an impression, slotting home from twenty yards, five minutes into the second half.
However United struck again to stem what seemed like a shock comeback.
The ever impressive Valencia whipped the ball into the area for Van Persie to score his 26th goal of the season before Hernandez looked to have sealed the points following fine work by veteran substitute Ryan Giggs.
With the game seemingly over Ferguson brought on Paul Scholes, who will be joining the Scotsman in the retirement home. This substitution arguably had as big an effect as bringing Lukaku into the game.
Bringing off Kagawa, who was proving to be a revelation in midfield for Scholes meant that United had two players in midfield who were pushing close to their forties as well as Brazilian international Anderson, who before today’s match has not played a full ninety minutes this season.
United no longer shared the same energy as West Brom in midfield and it began to show as the match wore on.
Olsson had an opportunity to reprieve himself but blasted a shot over with the goal at his mercy whilst young player of the year nominee Lukaku gave warning of his growing threat by hitting the side netting.
But United did not take heed of the warning.
Fellow substitute Markus Rosenberg produced a fantastic through ball for Lukaku to clinch his 2nd goal.
Moments after it was 5-4 and game on.
Youssef Mulumbu strode through unnoticed to slot home a Billy Jones pass to give the Baggies hope of clinching a sensational comeback.
That sensational comeback was completed five minutes later when Lukaku bundled the ball home to become only the third player after David Bentley and Dirk Kuyt to get a hat trick against Manchester United.
When the final whistle went, Sir Alex Ferguson went over to the travelling fans one final time where he tearfully saluted the Red Army on their years of service.
It may not have been the result he wanted but it summed up his 26 year reign; attacking, reckless, spellbinding. Football, bloody hell.
THE DAY had to come.
No matter how much Manchester United fans care to admit it, Sir Alex Ferguson had to leave some day and his day is now.
Twenty six and a half years, 1500 games thirteen Premier League titles, five FA cups, four League cups, ten community shields, two Champions Leagues, one UEFA Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and the Club World Championship. That’s a hell of a lot to live up to and it is why David Moyes would be perfect for the Old Trafford hot seat.
A fiery Scotsman who helped to transform both Preston and Everton on and off the pitch during his time at both clubs, whilst being on a shoestring budget compared to most of the other teams in their respective divisions, it is no wonder Sir Alex Ferguson saw some of himself in Moyes. In his time at Everton, the wily Scotsman has transformed them from perennial underachievers who flirted with relegation to frequent overachievers who have at times flirted with the Champions League which is a very credible achievement is considering the amount of money he has had to spend and the overall quality of his side compared to his fellow competitors.
His transfer record compares admirably to Sir Alex Ferguson as well.
Despite some overpriced flops, David Moyes has an eye for a gem. For every Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, there is a Leighton Baines, for every Andy Van Der Meyde there is a Steven Pienaar. His track record is similar to Sir Alex Ferguson in that perspective that has lost a lot of money on the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron but has spotted gems such as Peter Schmeichel, Andrei Kanchelskis and most recently Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Javier Hernandez.
Despite the favourable comparisons, David Moyes does fall short in some categories.
Much has been said of his record away from home against the bigger teams. As of yet he has no victories at the grounds of Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United. For him to become successful at the Red Devils, he will have to ensure that this unwanted statistic will change. However at Goodison Park, he ensured that Everton were a force to be reckoned with against the bigger sides, he started off this season with a victory against Manchester United. Despite the issues, his Everton side have faced against teams with a higher reputation; he has a formidable record against Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City.
In eight matches, he has only suffered a defeat once whereas Sir Alex Ferguson has faced defeat five times against the former champions in twelve matches. Perhaps this was one of the factors considered when hiring Moyes.
He has built his team in his own image, they are willing to run into the ground, chase lost causes and they know how to bully teams into submission. These factors have helped Moyes get the better on Mancini on several occasions, it is hoped that he instils the same will to win into a Manchester United side which has lacked some bite at times.
His record in Europe and lack of trophies have proved much chagrin to Manchester United fans who were hoping for Jose Mourinho to man the ship but this should not discredit David Moyes as a manager and the wonderful job he has done at Everton. For eleven years, he has had Everton battling at the top end of the table, when he arrived they were perilously close to falling out of the premier league altogether. He has stayed loyal for eleven long years, whilst playing a similar style to Manchester United, one with a focus on wing play and an unbreakable team spirit. All he has lacked is a clinical striker to get Everton into the top four. He now has several clinical strikers at his disposal. David Moyes has big shoes to fill, but when your Sir Alex Ferguson’s first choice for the job, he can’t go much wrong.
Manchester United beat a timid Arsenal 2-1 to go a point clear at the top of the table.
This was former captain Robin Van Persie’s first game against the team he spent eight years with and he received a hostile reception from the
However Van Persie silenced the Arsenal fans when he pounced on Thomas Vermaelen’s mistake in the opening minutes to put United one up.
The Red Devils were in complete control of the match and could afford Wayne Rooney missing a penalty prior to Patrice Evra getting what turned out to be the winner. Santi Cazorla got the consolation for Arsenal with what turned out to be the last kick of the game
With 15 points from 10 games, it is Wenger’s worst start to a season with the gunners and with a performance as shoddy as the 8-2 last year, he must be wondering where do they go from here. Van Persie will certainly not be wondering why left the Gunners as his tenth goal of the season gave United the lead.
In a match where neither team could really keep hold of the ball, United certainly had the better chances. Vito Mannone had to produce two great saves, the first from Van Persie after being put through by Rooney and the England striker was on again, forcing the Arsenal keeper into a save with a fine left footed strike.
The only save David De Gea had to pull out of his locker was when he palmed away an Aaron Ramsey cross.
Shortly before half time United were awarded a penalty after Cazorla was deemed to have handled inside the area following an Ashley Young cross, however Rooney put his effort wide.
The second half did not start any better for the Gunners as Antonio Valencia squandered a perfect chance to slot the ball into an empty net as he slipped, following a Van Persie cross.
Theo Walcott, who got an hat-trick in midweek, was brought on to liven up a stagnant Arsenal attack and they made their first effort of note in the game as Olivier Giroud struck the post. However they soon started to play within themselves once more as Van Persie was deemed to be on side but the Dutch striker had his effort saved by Mannone.
From the following corner, Rooney’s cross into the area found the diminutive Evra who managed to put the ball in the back.
Arsenal were soon down to ten men when Jack Wilshere was given a second yellow card. Both Wilshere and Tom Cleverley had been booked earlier in the game and were given another warning. Unlike Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson took heed and brought on Anderson for Cleverley.
The Gunners seemed to be brought to life in the dying minutes of the game, De Gea had to pull off a fantastic point blank save from Giroud and with the last kick of the game Cazorla managed to curl one in, but it was little respite for an Arsenal team who have regressed so much, that with performances like this highlight why they are no longer main contenders for the title, which Ferguson took note of, stating that it was “ a strange match” between the once great rivals.
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Cleverley booked (Anderson 61 booked), Carrick, Valencia (Nani 82), Rooney booked, Young booked, Van Persie booked.
Unused subs: Lindegaard, Powell, Scholes, Hernandez
Arsenal: Mannone, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos, Arteta booked, Ramsey (Walcott 52), Cazorla, Wilshere, 2 bookings, red card, Podolski (Arshavin 81, booked) Giroud
Unused subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Coquelin, Chamakh
Man of the Match: Van Persie
With anticipation growing for the impending release of the Dark Knight rises, there have been theories thrown up in the air as to will the Dark Knight survive the greatest test he has ever faced. I will try to shed some light and my own personal opinion as to whether or not Batman will rise or....fall.
With Liam Neeson confirmed to return as Ra Al Ghul, it would be of no surprise that the League of Shadows have something to do with the goings on within the film, regardless of whether Ras Al Ghul is dead or not.
So lets take a look at the new arrivals starting with Catwoman.
Much as been said about the Cat lady, but personally I am of the belief that she starts off as a member of the league of shadows, similarly to how Batman started off. In the trailer it seems as if she is arriving to Gotham via a airport, possibly from her time with the league of shadows, furthermore if this Cat has 9 lives then her supposed immortality could fit well with Ra's Al Ghul's lazarus pit. This is all conjecture at the moment but not beyond the realms of possibility. To reaffirm Catwoman's potential stance with the league of shadows is her infamous warning of a "storm coming". If you have watched Batman Begins, you would have noticed that Batman also brings a warning of a storm coming to Commissioner (well Lieutenant at the time) Gordon. Surely it is no coincidence that Catwoman as brought this warning to Bruce Wayne. The league of shadows seem to be all over her like a cat on heat but by the end, I would expect her to fighting alongside Batman rather than against him, much like the trailer.
Now on to "Gotham's Reckoning"
Opening up with the kidnapping of a doctor mid-flight is a brave move by Nolan, but what a move, this scene worked impeccably on Imax, (behalf of Bane's voice of course but that seems to be remedied). Going on from there we've seen him blow up bridges, football fields, invade banks/houses and that's just in the trailers, he looks like a force to be reckoned with but how does he find himself in Gotham. The answer, once again seems to be intertwined with the league of shadows. For example, this time around it seems likely that the drug that is pumping through his veins is the venom drug which intoxicated Bruce and almost brought Gotham to its knees with fear. Furthermore his threat to Bruce that his "punishment must be more severe" and that he has "his permission to die once Gotham is ashes", it seems likely that an higher power must be at work, why must he die when Gotham is ashes, why not before. Bruce's and Batman's punishment for trying to protect the city must be death, a view that the league of shadows would more than likely hold as opposed to Bane.
Which leads me to the mysterious Miranda Tate. Marion Cotillard as recently stated that she as not taken the role of Talia al Ghul but I don't think that can rule out the league of shadows being somehow involved, I mean why else would you include Liam Neeson, if only it is flashbacks.
Also what is with Joseph Gordon Levitt's character John Blake, he is a created character who seems to know, not only who Batman is but who Catwoman is. Not much is known regarding as to this characters motive but much as been said regarding where this character is going, is he going to take over Batman's mantle, is he going to be his side-kick or will he be a villain. At the end of the day, nothing much can be said but I honestly think he will just be a cop for the majority of the film and if Christopher Nolan wants to leave the film open for warner brothers, he may set him up as deadwing or Robin, other than that, I don't think the character will have any other ulterior motive other than bringing Bane down.
Now to finish off, will the Bat make it out alive or will he be crushed.
At one point, Bane will clearly defeat Batman, that much is clear, he's speaking to Bruce Wayne as a captive so he has obviously discovered who he is and kidnapped him (or pummelled him then brought him back to his lair). However this seems to be mid-film, not necessarily an ending. Personally I think we will see Batman again, but possibly not Bruce Wayne, whats the difference you ask? Well Bruce Wayne's mission from the start was to become more than a man, a symbol for the entire city, a symbol of defiance against the villains that wage war against Gotham. Once the man is broken, he may not be able to be the symbol anymore and whats for certain is that Bruce is a very broken man, emotionally and physically. Regardless of whether or not Bruce Wayne makes it out alive, I believe that he will no longer be able to carry on as Gotham's symbol, either through death or retirement, he will finally give Gotham everything he has and succeed in passing over the mantle as Gotham's protector to someone else. I believe he will either give power back to the people or if he can't do that yet, he will pass it on to...Catwoman.
A shocking choice, I know but its clear at one point she does team up with Batman, its likely that she's been involved with the league of shadows and seems to be another fractured personality, much like Bruce Wayne, it seems like a perfect fit.
One things for certain though, Gotham will face its toughest test yet and once the rubbles cleared, it will depend on who makes it out alive. Hope is lost, Faith is broken, A Fire will rise.
Thanks to social media, word of mouth can spread instantly worldwide. Movie-makers particularly those of the summer blockbuster kind, try to create a hype machine to capitalise on. Christopher Nolan is one of the many directors using this method, shrouding his movies in secrecy prior to their release then unleashing snippets to drive his Bat-fans into overdrive. It worked successfully for the Dark Knight and he has started a viral campaign for the Dark Knight Rises.
It began with an audio file of a crowd chanting "the fire rises", also shown to be the films twitter account. A 6 minute prologue was later released in cinemas shown on a website called operationearlybird.com
The Dark Knight Rises juggernaut almost came to a halt as the voice of Bane was heavily criticised prompting the director to hastily release a fantastic full length trailer, which helped to put the hype machine back on track.
To jump on the bandwagon, a trailer of Wrath of the Titans was released. It did not draw the same hype as the Dark Knight Rises.
Other films try to create hype in their own distinct ways. The Hunger Games which has got £155 million within 3 days, had a March release date which helped created a tent pole event in a month not known for blockusters.
In the theme of secrecy, Ridley Scott released a trailer of his sci-fi Prometheus hiding the "aliens" from his baiting audience.
A blockbuster failure has been John Carter, who very aptly in the movie was transported to the wasteland of Mars, somewhere where the film will likely end up. Currently it stands to lose £200 million. Where did the film go wrong? In the trailer, Disney failed to capitalise on a potential romance to draw in female movie-goers and then stupidly removed "Of Mars" from its title. An audience won't be drawn in on a name alone particularly one that hasn't been heard of before. It would’ve been better if they built the story up more rather than focus on the action. It may have allowed the audience to get emotionally involved.
To conclude, to use social media successfully, simply follow the rules.
1) Be consistent
2) Know who you want to target the film to
3) Keep the potential audience on their toes
Credit for the drawing goes to artist Sophie Rogerson. http://chippenfail0904.deviantart.com/#/d4u4iok.
As we all know, on Saturday during an FA Cup tie at White Hart lane, Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest. This event has shocked the football world to the core, prompting tributes from all over the world. Due to some fantastic medical work he is now on the road to recovery.
At the end of the day however, the question has to be raised. Why did he find himself in this situation? Footballers are supposed to have thorough medicals before joining a new club and are likely to be checked over if they join there.
Footballers such as Daniel Jarque, Antonio Puerta, Marc Vivien-Foe and Phil O'Donnell have all become tragedies of the sport within the last few years, yet still the football world as stood still, paying no attention to the risks that come from playing 90 minutes of football every week or in some cases every day. I get knackered after an hour’s worth of 5/6 a side on Astroturf each week so I’d love to know how professional footballers cope. They are still human.
Ex-Rotherham manager Andy Scott recently stated that when he was a professional footballer "there had been no ECG's or cardiograms". He discovered after a game against Cheltenham, that he had hypertrophic cardiomypathy and if he decided to go on a pitch again it would be the last thing he ever did.
He also suggests a similar system to Italy where players have to have a cardiac certificate to show that the sports person is fit enough to play. Why not do it here, it would be simple to implement and would ensure that no footballer will find themselves in the unfortunate condition Fabrice Muamba did.
This situation has resulted in mooted improvements to medical aspects of the game. Why do the "rule-makers" only act when something as been shoved at them through the public eye. These precautions should've been implemented a long time ago. Goalkeepers get booked for time-wasting, what penalty does the likes of Richard Scudamore and David Bernstein face? An inability to take action runs through the heart of the beautiful game, fortunately for Fabrice Muamba, that inability does not run through the medical profession.
In our convergence world, news can be spread around in the blink of an eye to almost anyone in the world. Not only that, through the increased use of consumer interaction, people have the power to spark debate amongst themselves and to take action.
This is the concept what the guardian plays on perfectly thanks to the use of the humourous concept of the three little pigs fable.
Adapting the fable to a real life situation, it appears the three little pigs have killed the big bad wolf as he threatened to blow the house down. It then shows people within Britain and over the world hearing the news both print and online media. From there debate is sparked on twitter and a comment box on the online story, highlighting the growing importance of the role the audience as to play within a news story.
The story is then allowed to grow , giving the consumer new details of the case such as the fact that the wolf may not have tried to blow the house down as it appears he may have asthma. Shocking stuff.
What comes next is unbelievable, it appears that the three pigs have killed the wolf and framed him for trying to blow the house down when it appears they have done it themselves as they were unable to pay their mortgages. Insurance fraud-unbelievable jeff.
To conclude with, the advert ends with the stupidest reaction from an audience that I have ever seen, sparking a riot over the pigs being unable to pay the mortgage. I know its only an advert but perhaps if it focused on the human aspect here then it would've worked better but we only see that briefly. Going down the route that people can spark a riot over a very small incident shows how low the guardian values there readers or how bad we have got as a species.
Pumping with testosterone, Warrior is the tale of two estranged brothers. In one corner we have ex-soldier Tommy Conlon, in which Tom Hardy oozes with brooding menace and in the other we have school teacher Brendan Conlon, played by a respectable Joel Edgerton. Inbetween these troubled "Warriors" we have their father, an Oscar nominated Nick Nolte.
Focusing on mixed martial arts fighting was a brave choice by director Gavin O'Connor, but he manages to pull it off with ease thanks to some of the best fighting scenes you will see.
Plot-wise it is clear from the outset that these two brothers are destined to meet in the ring. For the first hour or so the focus is why the brothers want to enter the ring with Tommy brutalising every opponent in the aim to give the prize money to a wife of a friend and Brendan, the underdog, dragging himself into the final in the aim of paying his mortgage.
Tom Hardy is the show-turner here , warming up well for his role as Bane in the Dark Knight Rises, however Joel Edgerton deserves credit for providing a sympathetic turn as the financially troubled school teacher.
Despite being Oscar nominated, Nick Nolte doesn't actually have much to do in this film, however at times you do have to sympathise with him, the abuse he suffers at the hands of Tommy is intolerable.
At a length of 146 minutes it does take a while to get going, but the intensity in the final third is unrivalled in any film you will see this year and will leave you breathless right up to its gut wrenching finale.
Other films you may enjoy include Real Steel, Rocky and The Fighter.
Good write up. Couple of minor typos in the first para.Mar 13, 2012 : royman Says:
Thanks for the advice, I've made some amendments and I hope they are suitableMar 14, 2012 : alexfenton Says:
Great stuff. Should it be 'an oscar' ?Mar 14, 2012 : royman Says:
Duly noted, I entered it into a grammar check online, it never showed up, bloody useless haha, thanks for the helpReply to comment
Whilst most people opted to watch the England match on television, I decided to head down to Old Trafford to watch the FA Youth Cup Quarter final match between Manchester United and Charlton. Those who decided to go were not disappointed as a 5 goal thriller finished in favour of United.
Charlton imposed their physicality in the opening stages, injuring United midfielder Luke Hendrie within the first minute. From the off set their kick and rush tactics dominated play and when they got a foothold in the United area, they refused to let it go, going close through Callum Harriott and Oliver Muldoon. United were to hit Charlton on the break, however, and should've scored when Jack Rudge was unable to divert a Tyler Blackett cross when it seemed like the goal was gaping.
United took the lead when Jack Barmby let loose from long range, leaving Addicks keeper Dillon Phillips stranded. However the lead was short lived, Tobi Sho-Silva diverting home after goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland pulled off an excellent stop from Marriott.
After the break, it was Manchester United who was the dominant side, with diminutive midfielder Mats Daehli helping to create most of the openings .
It took a smart stop from Phillips to prevent United taking the lead from a Sam Byrne cross-shot. However Charlton were still dangerous on the break, forcing Nicholas Ioannou into a sliced clearance which almost went into his own net.
The ever dangerous Barmby soon tested keeper Dillon Phillips with a pile driver which forced the young goalkeeper into another fine stop but he was soon to be breached once again after United made their dominance pay.
After a string of crosses were unable to find a man, right back Liam Grimshaw put a ball into the area which gave winger Gyliano Van Velzen the simple task of putting it into the net.
Charlton were to restore parity within seconds after Sho-Silva produced a fine long range shot which was out of reach of goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland.
The Addicks were on the rise, with Sho-Silva spurning a chance to get an hat trick before an injury to Harry Gerrard halted play for a considerable period which left the Addicks with ten men and ten minutes injury time to be added on. Despite this they seemed the more likely to get the winner, with Adebayo Azeez forcing a fine save from Sutherland and a goal line clearance from Nicholas Ioannou.
However United countered, with Van Velzen breaking away down the left, where he pulled it back to James Wilson who produced a smart finish to make it 3-2.
It was a tense atmosphere for supporters and players alike, with scuffles breaking out in the stand and even on the pitch when Diego Poyet was booked after a flare up with Byrne.
Manchester United will now face Chelsea in the semi-final of the Youth Cup in a repeat of last years Semi-final.
In recent weeks it seems as if I have been working through a route of films which could arguably be the best of 2011 and yet have been painfully overlooked by the Oscars, Tyrannosaur, Midnight in Paris, Drive and now I find myself at We need to talk about Kevin, a startling film that will remain with you long after it is over.
Based on the Lionel Shriver novel, this is one of the few book adaptations that as made it to the big screen seamlessly, mostly due to the performances by as the guilt ridden mother Tilda Swinton and newcomer Ezra Miller.
We meet Eva (Swinton) in the present day, haunted by the unspeakable acts that her son as committed and forever reminded by the community she lives in (her house was vandalised and a woman punches her in the street). The film constantly shows flashbacks of her life, first as a carefree woman who then as to put her career on old when she gives birth to her son Kevin, who locks into a psychological battle with her from the outset. Eva's husband, Franklin (John C.Reilly) is oblivious to his sons strange behaviour
The ultimate question in the film is the reason why Kevin decides to commit the atrocities, is it nature or nurture. Admittedly Eva does show very little affection for her son, physically harming him at one point, scarring him for life, perhaps mentally ?. However she does try very hard to love him and is happy with what little rewards she gets from him. Lynne Ramsay's camera work helps to create this sense of ambiguity as well, especially when zooming in on Kevin's eyes at the 3 stages of his life we meet him in.In the end, we are left in as much doubt as Eva as to why he committed the atrocities, which helps to make him more frightening than the likes of Michael Myers.
Needless to say the film would be all the more poorer without the fantastic performances put in by Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller, however, Ramsay deserves credit for bringing the film to the big screen. With such a tender subject matter, most directors would have crumbled under the pressure trying making a good film but she as produced one of the most powerful films of the year
For the first year in Pep Guardiola's reign, it appears that a chink may be appearing in Barcelona's armour. Despite cruising into the Champion's league quarter final thanks to a 10-2 aggregate win over Bayern Leverkusen, they have been inconsistent in the league and currently trail Real Madrid by 8 points.
What as possibly proven to be an hindrance is the signings of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas. True they may be quality players but what Barcelona need is strength in depth, particularly in defence. When you are spending upwards of £60 million on two players, surely the question could be asked that whether the money could've been better spent elsewhere especially when you already have a fantastic midfield and front three.
One of the problems that comes with signing players such as Sanchez and Fabregas is where do they fit in especially with players like Xavi, Iniesta and the prodigious talent Thiago Alacantra in midfield. Fabregas has played in midfield, on the wing, as a playmaker.
In other seasons, Barcelona have predominantly stuck with a 4-3-3 formation, they have altered their formation several times to a 3-4-3 formation which as left them more open at the back which caused them a lot of trouble in the 2-2 draw with AC Milan, with Alexandre Pato scoring within the first minute. It doesn't always help playing this system particularly when several of your first choice defenders are injured, which as resulted in several players playing out of position such Eric Abidal, a left back at centre back, Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano, both midfielders filling in at centre back. The lack of consistency in defence as not bothered Barcelona in previous years, both Yaya Toure and Javier Mascherano were rarely troubled in the Champions league finals in 2009 and 2011. Primarily, this was due to the fact that once the midfield "carousel" got the ball they never lost it. Now a midfield succumbed by injuries and inconsistency, despite being devastating at times (see the 7-1 v Bayern Leverkusen), can be rather open and unable to lack a killer punch, losing 1-0 away to lowly Getafe.
All these vulnerabilities have lead to Real Madrid taking a ten point lead, mainly because Real Madrid have won the games that they should be winning. So far they have only dropped 10 points all season and only 4 away from home. Compare this to Barcelona who have dropped 16 away from home and have only 2 more victories (7) than 8th place Rayo Vallecano.
More teams are now learning how to beat them or at least draw. Simply park the bus and hit them on the break, a tactic which as worked perfectly especially when Barcelona are away from home. They have scored 24 and conceded 14 in 14 games meaning they have a ratio of less than a goal every 2 games and statistically concede a goal or game. Real Madrid meanwhile have scored 34 and conceded 8.
What has been the difference between Real Madrid and Barcelona so far is that Real Madrid have kept a consistent formation, usually a variation of 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 whilst also keeping a settled backbone to the side with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso all playing 25 games or more. When any of these players need a rest or are injured, they have strength in depth with players such as Ricardo Cavalho, Raul Albiol, Sami Khedira, Lassana Diarra and Gonzalo Higuain able to fill in.
Jose Mourinho as showed once again that his teams play their best football in his second season in charge and they may still go all the way in the Champions League, giving him the ultimate record of being the first manager to win the Champions League with 3 clubs. He has said that he wants to move back to England at the end of the season, could this be his parting gift?.
Despite this, there is still a lot left to play for in the league and with another EL Clasico looming large, Barcelona may still pull off a miracle or Real Madrid could pull off a victory at the Nou Camp and put to bed once and for all, the Barcelona chip that they have had on their shoulder for so long.
Barcelona's only real competition has proved to be their complacency, which is only natural after a prolonged period of dominance. Personally, I would be happy to see them dethroned as the best team in the world but the Champions League will decide this not the Spanish League.Mar 20, 2012 : royman Says:
Yeah to be honest, I don't think Real Madrid would value the league as high as the champions league if they were to win it especially because Barcelona could win both games against Real Madrid in the league and lose the league due to results elsewhere. However in the Champions league, if Real Madrid were to win it, they will likely have to go through Barcelona.Reply to comment
With Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen as created one of the most original films of the year and possibly one of his most inspired to date. He creates a postcard image of Paris which is hard not to fall in love with
It has a underlying tone of nostalgia thanks to its time travel context as Hollywood screenwriter Gil ( an impeccable Owen Wilson) seeks an escape from his modern day surroundings.
Gil and his fiancee Inez have come to Paris on a vacation along with her parents. Gil wants to use the city as inspiration to finish his novel, whereas Inez is more interested touring the city with her pseudo intellectual friend Paul (Michael Sheen), who they meet there, who Gil finds rather annoying.
One night after a party, he declines there offer of going to another party and instead drunkenly stumbles into the night, when at midnight a mysterious antique vehicle pulls up and offers him a ride. Instead of obeying the rule " don't get into cars with strangers", Gil jumps in for the ride and finds himself in 1920's Paris where he meets his hero Ernest Hemingway along with many other contemporaries of the time such as Pablo Picasso, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (played by an impressive Alison Pill), Gertrude Stein and Salvador Dali. This is where he falls in love with Pablo Picasso's mistress Adriana (Marion Cotillard.
Wilson is very much the star of the film, perfectly portraying a character caught between two times, letting the city draw him in, with a state of utter excitement. With the standards of the Oscar's this year, he could have easily been considered. Fortunately this is one of the few films this year that as deservedly been nominated for a reasonable amount of Oscar's ( Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction).
Admittedly not everyone will like this film but those looking for a perfect way to escape this wintery weather, it is a perfect escape.
Opening with a dog being kicked to death is not the traditional way to open a film, there again Tyrannosaur is not your traditional film. Paddy Considine in his directorial debut as created a world full of characters who are stuck in a cycle of violence but very few glimpses of hope.
We meet Peter Mullan at a crossroads in his life, he has just killed his dog in a fit of drunken rage. He then goes from one encounter to the next with seemingly no regard to human life, or his own for that matter.
After another violent encounter, he goes to the local charity shop to take solace, this is where he meets charity worker Hannah played by Olivia Colman who is pain-achingly brilliant, as a commited Christian who attempts to save Joseph despite his disdain for her beliefs. Little does he know, she needs as much saving as he does.
Her public life is a front for her life at home. She is a victim of utter cruelty put upon her by her husband, played by a sinister Eddie Marsan. When we first meet him, he urinates on Hannah as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world.
As the relationship between Joseph and Hannah develops we see hidden truths in each of the characters, one which reveals the meaning of the title of the film and another which threatens to destroy both of their worlds which they have created.
Despite the violence in the film and the dark atmosphere, it does offer hope and in this film, hope means everything, not only to the characters but to the audience. It makes it very worth watching and much more meaningful.
A potential flaw in the film is its length, a measly 92 minutes long. With such wonderful performances, it is a shame the story could not have been longer to let us see more of their world.
All in all, a fantastic directorial debut by Paddy Considine with star turns from all his cast, in particular Olivia Colman.
"There's a hundred-thousand streets in this city. You don't need to know the route. You give me a time and a place, I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours. No matter what. Anything happens a minute either side of that and you're on your own. Do you understand? "
In a film where actions speak louder than words, Gosling as the unnamed driver oozes menace, going from kissing his co-star Carey Mulligan to smashing a man's head in with his boot within a blink of the eye. The violence is truly shocking, in another scene Albert Brooks stabs a man's eye with a fork
Despite being called Drive, not much car chases take place. It is not a fast and the furious film. It is in the mould of neo-noirs of yester-year and it can even be compared to the cowboy film Shane where another stranger rode into town and got involved with a mother and her son.
The blossoming relationship between the driver and the woman is ruined when her husband arrives home after a stint in prison. It soon arises that he owes protection money to a gang and if he doesn't pay they will harm his family, who the Driver as become involved with so he offers his help. The job goes wrong and it becomes apparent that they are in over their heads.
Albert Brooks and Bryan Cranston offer able support as a psychopathic gangster and the Driver's friend/boss respectively.
All in all a fantastic film with a beautiful soundtrack and a performance shamefully ignored by the Oscars from Ryan Gosling.
Drive's an excellent film and to be honest, I completely agree with the fact the Oscars have looked past it, especially for Albert Brooks performance. Should have been suggested WAY before Jonah Hill was nominated for Moneyball.Feb 06, 2012 : royman Says:
I know, it is ridiculous some of the suggestions for this years oscars. I mean Jonah Hill is just doing what he usually does, playing the sidekick, its nothing special, nothing that hasn't been seen before, Albert Brooks in this film is fantastic, how do they actually pick the Oscars and how did Bridesmaids of all films get nominated for best film, by that criteria The Hangover should've got nominated. Baffling.Reply to comment