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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why Selling Fernando Torres in January Could Prove Good Business for Liverpool

There was a time when words like; a pure amalgam of speed, phenomenal, terrific, the apex finisher, wizard of Oz and unplayable were used by almost every football pundit and commentator to describe one Fernando José Torres Sanz, alias ‘El Niño’. And rightfully so. For the 26-year-old had become one of the most important and consistent players in world football and especially at the mighty Merseyside club of Liverpool.

It wasn’t long ago. Even as the world of football recently assembled in South Africa for the FIFA World Cup in June to watch Spain triumph, England and Argentina falter and France and Italy, well, tumble, Fernando Torres was one of the players who were expected to lit up the tournament.

But as it turned out, not even an assist was registered under the name of the mighty Fernando. This was partly blamed on an injury he had sustained prior to the tournament. But even as he was still recovering, the world expected the former Atletico Madrid captain to bang in the goals with such aplomb that he’s become synonymous to. Such was the confidence everyone had in him.

Cue in game one, two three… final, Fernando’s goal was nowhere to be seen. But as the sweet, unique and inspirational Anfield You Will Never Walk Alone anthem sings: At the end of the storm, Is a golden sky, And the sweet silver song of a lark, every akin football aficionada knew the end of the storm would soon come for Nando.

I for one has been that hopeful. But it the form is just coming. The Torres of today cuts out a forlorn figure on the field and misses clear one-on-one chances that just last season, he would have dispatched with much ease. The Torres of today has no ball control (yes I remember those flicks to Maxi Rodriguez). The Torres of today looks like a person who wants to leave Liverpool any time of day. The Torres of today is not the one who football-savvy KOPS had within such a short time pasted the word ‘legend’ on his back, a tag that is associated with Anfield greats like Ian Rush, King Kenny Dalglish, captain fantastic Steven Gerard, the ‘god’ Robbie Fowler and that defender who has seen and overcome all possible tricks and flicks in modern football, Jamie Carragher.

Now we only remember that Fernando Torres. Yes that one. The one who together with Gerard were like China’s ying-yang to Liverpool. Who doesn’t miss that telepathic understanding between the two? One that could have been mistaken to have come from the lords of the beautiful game. The two were in the ranks of Lionel Messi and Spanish midfield matador, Xavi Hernandez.

Torres and Gerard were a carte du juor that defenders loathed just like the best fans in the world, the KOPS of course, loathe the Mancs from the city of Manchester.

Under the twosome, Liverpool had become a formidable team. One that made the most shots on target and allowed only a few to test Pepe Reina, one that scored most goals and conceded the fewest, one that made the most successful tackles and suffered the most fouls, one that enjoyed the most possession even against a team cut out of possession like Arsenal. Thumping Manchester United 4-1 was easy, repeating the same against El Merengues from Madrid, even easier.

It was not a case of whether Torres would score but how many goals he would score. Oh, how I miss those days!

Now as we approach the New Year which ushers in the January transfer window, speculations are rife that Nando might leave Liverpool perhaps to a Premier League rival like Money-chester City. The thought of this possibility quivers many Kops, I included. Is there Liverpool without Nando?

Many players normally experience some out of form moments. Fernando is included. Fernando lacks service from the midfielders. Fernando needs a strike partner. No. Fernando needs to leave Liverpool. David Ngog needs a strike partner.

Torres simply doesn’t look happy playing for Liverpool. A player who is is what is needed. What if he’s just finished? I know it’s naïve to suggest that. But just what if? There are many top finishers out in the market who would want to shade blood and sweat to take Liverpool to the zenith where it belongs. With new owners, New England Sports Ventures, I believe there will be enough money to fund the acquisition of a happy-to-play-for-Liverpool like player.

I hate the thought of it but if Liverpool can dispatch Nando in January and use the £50 million plus to bring in a Diego Forlan, Fernando Lllorent or even a Mario Gomez, it would be good business. Good in the sense that I can’t see any of these players wanting to move out of Liverpool in any foreseeable future.

Good as long as Nando doesn’t get back to form if he’s out of it. So, happiness is the key word here. And if El Nino is not happy, no matter how many times he’s reminded that he’s a dear to the Anfield crowd, no matter how many times he’s told he is a legend and no matter how many midfield maestros are brought to Anfield to give him the services which apparently are missing, he won’t deliver.

But if he’s happy, really happy, John W. Henry and his colleagues who control the coffers at Anfield should let the money loose as early as January. Bring the man a proven goalscorer, any of the above or anyone not mentioned but deserving mentioning and merrily merrily I say unto you that LFC’s glory days will be back on the radar.

And what is Roy Hodgson still doing at Liverpool!?!!

From Nairobi, Kenya, with Love. Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpoool....
And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Russia2018 and Qatar2022 is a Disgrace to Football

Referee, Howard Webb, has just blown the final whistle and all the Russian fans throng Anfield stadium in England to celebrate their maiden world cup trophy. However, the fourth official calls the referee to the sidelines and informs him that there are still some five minutes to play.The game gets back underway and Steven Gerard scores a double, the first one a thunderous piledriver that rips the gloves of Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev and into the net. 

The second is a masterpiece of a goal. Theo Walcott shows why he's become the world's amalgam of speed. "He is simply in the wrong profession," remarks BBC football commentator Usain Bolt as Walcott collects a sublime pass from Glen Johnson and cuts in from the right wing, before laying the ball to a predating Steven Gerard. Captain fantastic lobs the ball over helpless Akinfeev and puts England 2-1 ahead. Immediately, Webb blows the final whistle even before Russia restart the game at center half. England, the 2018 world cup hosts win the trophy for the first time since they last won the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966.

But the biggest challenge lies ahead. They have to retain the title in four years time, in 2022 in Australia. What a tale this could have been had England won the bid to host the 2018 world cup. But as it turned out, this never happened.

I have tried to look for any possible explanation available in modern football to explain why England lost the bid to host the 2018 world cup but to no avail.

Come on, let's face it. Franz Beckenbauer, a world cup winner and one of the legends of the game was quoted saying ""England could host it (the world cup) tomorrow because they have the stadiums, the infrastructure, the fans, everything. But there are a lot of other different countries bidding. Let's wait and see." 

So we all waited and what came out? Russia? Oh come on. The twenty-two delegates who cast their votes and allegedly knocked England out in the first round of voting could have done better.

I have nothing against Russia but I believe they would be better placed to host an Olympic game than a World Cup. Reason? Well, they produce some of the best athletes, not footballers in the world. Secondly, where was Russia during the 2010 World Cup? Although England failed to advance past the round of 16, Spain and Portugal who put a joint bid put on a good show, with the former winning the trophy. 

The argument here is that it's high time we started giving bids to those countries who have made a at least some commendable contribution to football. I look around and into Russia and see them failing miserably in this criteria.

I don't buy some of the explanations put across by the likes of Amar Singh at Goal.com. Why would a 'Frosty Fifa-FA relations' put a deserving country at risk of not winning a World Cup bid?

Are some of us missing something about football? And just what has Qatar done to football that made them even deserve to be shortlisted as contenders?

I know football's aim is to unify the world, but we surely must ensure that these host countries know something about football and not just gymnastics and some cricket.

I also know so many people will come up with Lord Triesman and false confidence theories but the bottomline is, there's absolutely no justification as to why Russia won the bid ahead of England, Portugal/Spain who all are capable to provide the security, the stadiums, the attendance, the profits and the exhilaration needed for a world cup event. 

Who would have minded watching the world cup final in front of a rapturous KOP faithful at Anfield? 

The twenty-two delegates who were entrusted by the Football universe to elect a country that will host the world cup did a lot of injustice to that trust, and indeed to football. Maybe the only explanation and reason available to this is corruption. Someone somewhere was denied British pounds but nevertheless got some Russian rouble. Or better yet, as The Sun puts it, it was a fix.

And maybe it's high time someone stepped down.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kenyans Should Not Contribute to Uhuru or Ruto’s Trip to The Hague

After months of waiting for the naming of the Ocampo Six, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo finally revealed the names of those who allegedly funded or organized the 2007-2008 post election violence that put Kenyan on the precipice of political, economic and social collapse. Luckily, we survived. But not before thousands of lives were lost, hundreds of thousands displaced and property destroyed in a manner never witnessed before in the annals of Kenyan illustrious history of much success and little to regret about. 

Perceived presidential aspirants come 2012 Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, seasonal political player and ODM confidant Henry Kosgey as well as head of public service Ambassador Francis Muthaura, former police boss Hussein Ali and ‘small fish’ Joshua Arap Sang  all graced the dreaded list. 

As one would have expected, they all claimed innocence and denied organizing, funding or aiding in any way whatsoever the post-election violence. As one would have expected, some political sycophants came out in their defence as if they had accompanied the six full time in the period of the political debacle. As one would have expected, their gullible constituents and supporters also came out of their ramshackle with their placards raised sky high claiming their leaders were being slaughtered for crimes they didn’t commit. Never mind the truth and nothing but the truth is yet to be known. 

However, none of these frantic moves to absolve the Ocampo Six from suspicion first, summon second, arrest third, prosecution fourth and release or detention last is more baffling than the suggestion that poor constituents should empty their coffers and contribute to a ‘trip to the Hague fund’ on behalf of the suspects (read Uhuru and Ruto so far) and also to hire the best lawyers for them.  

Are you kidding me? Haven’t these people raised enough money since they joined the filthy and corrupt world of Kenyan politics over a decade ago? And just what is about 125,000 shillings to a politician? A Kenyan politician! Isn’t it the same Kenyans who have desperately been crying that the MPs pay taxes to no avail? Isn’t it the same Kenyans who pay taxes but which always go on a Safari to hang out with public money seized in areas like free primary education, cemetery, water, maize and even from the embassy?  

And if these people are really innocent, what’s the need of hiring the best lawyers to defend them. One can almost bet that this ‘best lawyer’ will not be an African, let alone a Kenyan. Another spit on our education system and a doubt on our intellectual capacity I guess. 

Honorable Uhuru, Ruto and Kosgey have the wherewithal and are capable of funding their trips to the Hague and hiring the so-called best lawyers. The only thing is that they are not willing. And if they are, the suggestion that supporters should drop their meager earnings from burning charcoal, picking tea and roasting maize by the roadside are just euphemistic routes to sympathy. 

Unless we really don’t have what to do with money, unless we really are gullible and unless we have no memories of what transpired during the post-election violence, we should feel sufficiently philanthropic to help these ‘suspects’ out. But if we can still look at that IDP camp and see those people whose lives moved from something to nothing, if we can still see those graves of our siblings, parents, relatives, neighbours and friends lying behind our homes, at the Langata cemetery and the likes, if we really feel ashamed of what we did post the last elections thanks to the selfish interests of politicians, if we don’t want a repeat of the same events in the near future, and if we really want to see the culprits apprehended for their deeds, we should let justice take its course. 

We once sympathized with these politicians and expressed our empathy very inhuman like manner. When we look back, we feel sorry for what we did to those who are innocent. So why not let the guilty get their punishment. Surely, the Hague won’t raise machetes on them, destroy their property, burn their houses or rape their loved ones. They will just be denied of the freedoms of a free man. I hear the Hague is not such a bad place anyway. You can eat nutritiously without having to burn charcoal.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!