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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Liverpool Appoint Brendan Rodgers as Manager

Rodger That!!
Brendan Rodgers is the new Liverpool manager after signing what is understood to be a three-year contract with the Anfield club. The appointment of the former Northern Irish footballer perhaps comes as a surprise after it was early reported that he had declined a chance to speak to Liverpool about the job just 12 days ago.

Wigan’s manager Roberto Martinez had become the bookmaker’s favourite to succeed Kenny Dalglish who was sacked on May 16th, but he declined the job. Other managers who were linked with the Anfield job included former Chelsea manager Andre Villas Boas, Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp, former England manager Fabio Capello and Pep Guardiola.

Liverpool will pay the 39-year-old former Swansea City manager between £4m and £5m in compensation to secure his services. The appointment of the Carnlough-born Irishman ends a 15-day search for Dalglish’s heir.

Rodgers landed his first managerial role at championship side Watford in 2008, guiding The Hornets to a 13th place finish. The resignation of Steve Coppell at Reading provided Rodgers with an opportunity to return to the club where he played for in the reserves. He signed a deal with The Royals on 5 June 2009 but left the club by mutual consent on just six months later after a string of poor results.

He then signed for Swansea on 16 July 2010 and guided the Welsh side to promotion to the Premier League on his first season in charge of the club, making the Swans the first Welsh team to reach the top flight.

Rodgers, who retired from playing football only at age 20 due to a genetic knee condition, guided Swansea to 11th place finish in the league in spite of being tipped for relegation. He nurtured some good and attractive passing football which saw the Welsh side beat the likes of Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool.

In Liverpool FC, he'll be taking a club which yearns for Champions League football, something that the club's owners Fenway Sports Group have made clear. Liverpool have failed to qualify for Europe's premier club competition in the last three seasons and Rodgers knows only too well that his success and or failure will be measured based on how the team fairs in the Premier League.

However, his most immediate job will be to play catch-up in the transfer market and sign the players who will help the club move forward.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

David Wandera Steals the Show as Kabarnet High Shine in COPA Baringo Games

Part of Copa action in Kabarnet
Kabarnet High School’s David Wandera stole the show in the COPA Coca-Cola Kabarnet sub-branch games as he scored all his team’s goals and helped them emerge tops in their group.

The tricky forward helped his team overcome Aiyebo High 3-0 in the opening match played at the picturesque Kabarnet Stadium. Wandera put his team ahead only 9 minutes into the match, pouncing on a goalkeeping error from Aiyebo’s custodian Vincent Kosgei. Kabarnet dominated the rest of the half but could not extend their lead thanks to some wasteful finishing from Ronald Mwasi and Washington Kiplagat who both flopped when presented with one-on-one chances.

However, it took only three minutes after the interval for Wandera to score his and the team’s second, heading Kiplagat’s cross into the net. Wandera completed his hat-trick immediately after the restart, finishing a successful counter-attack with a simple tap in to put the game beyond doubt.

In Kabarnet’s second match, Wandera scored the only goal as they beat Sacho 1-0.

In other matches, Kabarnet Hurth found the going tough losing their first match 1-0 to Ainamoi High before getting an emphatic 3-1 humbling at the hands of Kabartonjo Secondary. Nick Kemboi scored a brace for Kabartonjo and Evans Kiplagat added the third before Lawrence Kipyego grabbed the consolation for Hurth.

In the girls’ match, Vivian Kiloo scored the only goal as Kapropita Girls beat Kabarnet Hurth 1-0. The win saw Kapropita Girls form the bulk of the 16 girls players selected from the sub-branch to head to the next level. Kiloo was among the selected players which also included teammates Peterline Cherop and Wendy Cherotich.

Other Results:

Meru Sub Branch:

Kaaga High 0-2 Kirige
Nkubu 3-0 Githongo
Meru School 4-2 Kaaga
Meru School 1-0 Kirige
Nkubu 1-1 Meru School
Githongo 1-1 Meru School

Gikumene Girls 2-0 Yururu

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

AFC Leopards on the Slump - What Needs to be Done

The dance at Leopards is slowly fading away
The Kenya Premier League went into the mid-season break last weekend with 2009 Champions Sofapaka sitting comfortably at the helm, three points above defending champions Tusker. With the closure of the first leg of the season, the teams in Kenya’s top division will have a chance to rest, albeit a bit, and also get to bolster their squads in the June transfer window.

However, the end of the first half of the season couldn’t have come at a much better time for Jan Koops-led AFC Leopards side who are sitting third, 6 points off the pace. The Leopards were on a roll during the early stages of the season going on an unprecedented 10-match unbeaten run that included seven wins and only three draws.

“The Invincibles”, a term commonly used to refer to the Arsenal team that went unbeaten the whole season on their way to winning the 2003-04 English Premier League title, became the vocabulary that most of the club’s ardent supporters employed to describe the club. And indeed they looked invisible.
A barren draw against Chemelil in the first game of the season was followed by a 2-0 win over Mathare United, with Ugandan import Jimmy Bageya and Bernard Mang’oli both on target. Promoted side Oserian provided the opposition in the next match but they were also swept aside in another 2-0 win, prodigal son Allan Wanga opening his account and Mike Baraza adding the other to propel Ingwe to the top.

Another promoted side, Muhoroni Youth, put a spirited performance in the third match but the Leopards were in no mood to drop points coming from a goal down to win 2-1. Wanga scored on his second successive match and Victor Ochieng’ squeezed in the winner.

Koops’ charges looked unstoppable to say the least. So much so that they were clear odds on favourite to beat a Gor Mahia side that was languishing at the bottom, or thereabouts, in the next match. However, against their numero uno nemesis, K’ogalo upped their game when they needed to and ensured the derby spoils were evenly shared at the end of a high-tempered match that was suspended for minutes due to crowd trouble.

That proved to be the only blip for the 12-time champions as they clawed back and embarked on yet another impressive winning run. Western Stima were beaten by a Jonas Paco Nahimana brace as the Leopards came from behind, again, for a 2-1 win.

A Roy of the Rovers performance saw Rangers mauled 6-2 in the highest scoring KPL game to date. Another 2-1 win away to Thika United and you would have been forgiven for saying Ingwe were on a league of their own. The statistics were as good as they come for any team deserving of being called champions elect. 26 points from a possible 30, unbeaten in 23 consecutive KPL matches, top of the table by 6 points and playing like they were possessed.

But that’s as far as they went. The joy ride had ended. The proverbial cookie had crumbled. A 2-0 loss to defending champions Tusker at Mombasa’s Mbaraki Stadium may have broken the 23-match unbeaten run but it was easily dismissed as a minor setback. But then came a 1-1 draw with Karuturi Sports, an embarrassing 3-0 loss to City Stars, a team that just escaped relegation last season, and doubts started creeping in.

Add the boardroom wrangles and court tussles and the Leopards have transformed from an aura of invisibility to that of a sorry almost laughable downward slump. The 2-1 loss to Sofapaka in their last match before the mid-season break didn’t come as a surprise. Did it?

It's funny how fortunes can and do change in football overnight. Leopards now look more likely to lose the next game more than win it and that's not something you would have said with 10 matches into the season. All is not lost though.

With the league resuming on June 23rd, Leopards still have the a lot of time on their side to rediscover and regain that mojo that made them the envy of all the teams in the division. The fans have not stopped singing, the coach looks barely distracted by the boardroom instability, the players are there so there's really not much job to be done in the transfer window.

It seems, however, that the players have lost that little bit of confidence. They are not believing anymore. The motivation looks as good as dying, if not dead. And this, more than anything else, is what needs to change. The players should overlook the endless wrangles and concentrate on doing the job, for the love of the club and for the love of the loyal support. That's all.

But right now, the walls seem to be "tumbling down" as Carol Radul puts it here.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bayern Munich’s Road to Champions League Final

The final of the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League, the world’s biggest and most watched club football competition, takes center stage this Saturday night. Chelsea who have never won the competition travel to the Allianz Arena in Munich to face hosts Bayern Munich who have home advantage and will be looking to secure their fifth title.

Here, we take a look at how the Germans got to the finals of Europe’s premier club football competition.

Group Stages – The 4-time Champions League winners were drawn in the group of death which also had English debutants Manchester City, Italian side Napoli and Spain’s Villarreal.

Villarreal 0-2 Bayern Munich, September 14 2011
The Bavarian’s first match of the season saw them make the trip to Estadio El Madrigal to face Spanish outfit Villarreal. Toni Kroos gave the Germans a dream start with a goal just 7 minutes into the match and Brazilian right-back Rafinha struck 14 minutes from time to give Bayern a comfortable 2-0 win.

Bayern Munich 2-0 Manchester City, September 27 2011
Bayern used their experience at the European stage to sweep City aside with Mario Gomez hitting a brace just before half time to give Bayern two wins from two.

Napoli 1-1 Bayern Munich, October 18 2011
A win for Bayern would have all but confirmed their entry into the last 16 and it looked like they would get it after Toni Kroos scored his second goal in the competition with just 2 minutes on the clock. However, Holger Badstuber scored an own goal 6 minutes before the interval and with no goals scored in the second half, the match ended 1-1.

Bayern Munich 3-2 Napoli, November 2 2011
The Bavarians were on a roll in the first half with Mario Gomez hitting a superb hat-trick but resurgent Napoli put some face in the result with Federico Hernandez scoring a brace as the game ended 3-2. Bayern booked their place in the knockout stages with the win.

Bayern Munich 3-1 Chelsea, November 22 2011
Frank Ribery was the star as he scored a brace to ensure the Germans maintained their 100% win record at their own backyard. Jonathan De Guzman had pulled a goal back for the Yellow Submarines after Ribery had put Bayern ahead and Mario Gomez doubled the lead but Ribery capped an impressive performance with a 69th minute strike that confirmed Jupp Heyneck’s side as group winners.

Manchester City 2-0 Bayern Munich, December 7 2011
Having secured their qualification into the last 16, the match was a mere formality for Bayern but City needed to win and hope that Villarreal beat Napoli. David Silva and Yaya Toure both got on the scoresheet for the Citizens to hand Bayern their first defeat in the competition but Napoli’s 2-0 win over Villarreal ensured that they finished second behind Munich as City dropped to the Europa League.


Round of 16 – Bayern’s top-spot finish booked them a date with surprise Group C runners-up Basel.

Basel 1-0 Bayern Munich, February 22 2012
Bayern looked like they would also fall victim to Swiss outfit Basel who had conquered Manchester United in the group stages. Valentin Stocker scored the only goal at the St. Jakob-Park stadium as Bayern suffered a shock defeat heading into the second leg.

Bayern Munich 7-0 Basel, March 13 2012
Mario Gomez scored a quartet or goals as the Bavarians ran rampant against FC Basel. Dutch winger Arjen Robben opened the scoring after 11 minutes, Thomas Muller doubled their lead three minutes before the interval before Gomez took over the show scoring four goals in quick succession. Robben completed the rout with his second and Bayern’s 7th as the Bavarians fired the perfect warning shot to its opponents.

Quarter-Final - Chelsea were drawn against Olympique Marseille

Marseille 0-2 Bayern Munich, March 28 2012
Bayern travelled to the Stade Velodrome in Marseille for their first leg quarterfinal encounter and left two goals to the good with Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben on target.

Bayern Munich 2-0 Marseille, April 3 2012
The 22-time Bundesliga champions easily completed the job with Croat Ivica Olic scoring a brace in the first half to ensure an easy sail into the semis with a 4-0 aggregate win.


Bayern Munich 2-1 Real Madrid, April 17 2012
Mario Gomez scored his 12th goal in the competition to give Bayern a 2-1 win heading into the second leg at Estadio Bernabeu. Frank Ribery put Bayern ahead with a low shot just after the quarter-hour mark but Mesut Ozil scored a priceless away goal for Madrid in the 53rd minute but Gomez ensured that Bayern held a slim advantage heading into the second leg.

Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich (1-3 on Penalties), April 25 2012
Cristiano Ronaldo’s quickfire goals in the 6th and 14th minute got Real Madrid fans at the Bernabeu dreaming of the finals but Arjen Robben struck a penalty midway into the first half to set up an eventful finish to the game. With the match ending 3-3 in normal time, it went into extra time. Nothing could separate the two European giants in extra time either so came the penalties. Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Sergio Ramos all missed their spot kicks while Alaba, Gomez and Bastian Schweinstieger converted for Bayern as they booked their spot in the finals with a 3-1 win.

Bayern Munich v Chelsea, Saturday May 19 2012 at Allianz Arena in Munich

Bayern Munich will miss the services of suspended trio Holger Badstuber, 19-year-old Austria international David Alaba and Luiz Gustavo.

And That's thestifmastrtake!!

Chelsea’s Road to UEFA Champions League Final

Top Drog
The final of the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League, the world’s biggest and most watched club football competition, takes center stage this Saturday night. Chelsea who have never won the competition travel to the Allianz Arena in Munich to face hosts Bayern Munich who will be hoping that home advantage will give them their fourth title.

Here, we take a look at how the Londoners got to the finals of Europe’s premier club football competition.

Group Stages – Chelsea were drawn in Group E which also had German side Bayer Leverkusen, Spain’s Valencia and Belgian outfit KRC Genk who squeezed into the group stages after beating Israeli side Maccabi Haifa 4-1 on penalties in the playoff rounds.

Chelsea 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen, September 13 2011
Chelsea’s first match of the 2011-12 Champions League season was at Stamford Bridge. After a scoreless first half, David Luiz put the London side ahead in the 67th minute and Juan Mata ensured that the Blues took the three points with a second in the 92nd minute.

Valencia 1-1 Chelsea, September 28 2011
Chelsea’s next game was at the Estadio Mestalla. Frank Lampard’s strike in the 56th minute looked to have secured the points for Andre Villas-Boas’ side but Salomon Kalou handed the hosts a penalty 3 minutes before the final whistle. Roberto Soldado never erred from 12-yards sending Petr Cech the wrong way to ensure the group favourites shared the spoils.

Chelsea 5-0 Genk, October 19 2011
Chelsea were on song right from the whistle against the group minnows and they went ahead courtesy of Raul Meireles eight minutes into the game. Fernando Torres then scored a brace before Branislav Ivanovic added Chelsea’s fourth 3 minutes before the interval. Salomon Kalou completed the rout in the 72nd minute.

Genk 1-1 Chelsea, November 2 2011
The 5-0 rout was still fresh in the minds of many fans as Chelsea travelled to Cristal Arena to face the Belgian side. Ramires put the Blues ahead after 26 minutes but that’s as far as they went as Jelle Vosen hit the equalizer at the hour mark to earn Genk an unlikely 1-1 draw.

Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Chelsea, November 23 2011
Not for the umpteenth time, Chelsea were the first to score through Didier Drogba three minutes into the second half. However, the Germans rallied back to snatch the three points with Eren Derdiyok’s 73rd minute goal drawing them level before former German international Manuel Friedrich got the Bay Arena into a frenzy with a winner right at the death.

Chelsea 3-0 Valencia, December 7 2011
This was a winner takes all match. Chelsea, just like Valencia, needed to win to ensure qualification to the knockout stages. Big-game man Didier Drogba struck twice either side of Ramires’ 22nd minute goal to not only send the Blues to the last 16 for the ninth consecutive season but they also topped the group ahead of Bayer Leverkusen.


Round of 16 – Chelsea’s top of the group finish earned them a date with Napoli who finished runners up to Group A winners Bayern Munich.

Napoli 3-1 Chelsea, February 21 2012
The first leg of the round of 16 was played at Stadio San Paolo in Naples. Chelsea opened the scoring through Juan Mata after 27 minutes but Ezequiel Lavezzi’s 38th minute stunning strike restored parity. Edinson Cavani added the second for the Partenopei just before the interval and Lavezzi completed the comeback in the 65th minute as Napoli won 3-1 and looked like they had booked their place in the quarters.

Chelsea 3-0 Napoli, March 14 2012
Chelsea went into the second leg encounter under the tutelage of caretaker manager Roberto Di Mateo after Andre Villas Boas was sacked. The Blues’ chances had been written off but by the time Didier Drogba headed them in front around the half hour mark and John Terry doubled lead 2 minutes into the second half, the Blues felt they achieve the seemingly impossible. But Gokhan Inler pulled one back for the Azzurri in the 55th minute to put them back in the driving seat. Lampard however had the last word in normal time converting a 75th minute penalty to make it 4-4 in aggregate and take the game to extra time.

Branislav Ivanovic was the only player to score in extra time as his 105th minute strike sent the Blues to the quarters with a 5-4 aggregate win.

Quarter-Final - Chelsea were drawn against Portuguese giants Benfica

Chelsea 1-0 Benfica, April 6 2012
Chelsea made the long trip to Estadio da Luz in Lisbon for the first leg quarterfinal encounter. Salomon Kalou scored the only goal fifteen minutes from time as the Di Mateo’s rejuvenated side earned their first away win in the competition.

Chelsea 2-1 Benfica, April 4 2012
Frank Lampard’s penalty in the 21st minute put Chelsea in the driving seat but Javier Garcia pulled one back for Benfica with five minutes to go. However, in the 93rd minute, Raul Meireles completed a superb Chelsea counter attack with a goal that put the result beyond doubt as the London side booked a place in the semi-finals for the sixth time in nine seasons.


Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona, April 18 2012
The seventh fixture between the two teams ended with joy for Chelsea and despair for the defending champions. Didier Drogba continued with his remarkable scoring run against the Catalans as the Ivorian scored in added time of the first half to give the Blues a 1-0 win heading into the second leg at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, April 24 2012
Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta looked like they had secured the Blaugrana a second successive final but Ramires’ delicate chip over Victor Valdez just before half time gave Chelsea a priceless away goal heading into the second half. After the interval, Barca pressed but were unable to breach the Blues defence and add to their two goals in spite of having a one-man advantage. Fernando Torres ensured Chelsea’s qualification for the May 19 finals only for the second time in the club’s history with a 92nd minute strike as the game ended 2-2 on the night and 3-2 aggregate in favour of the English side as the defending champions were dethroned.

Bayern Munich v Chelsea, Saturday May 19 2012 at Allianz Arena in Munich

Chelsea will be without Ramires, Raul Meireles, Branislav Ivanović and captain John Terry who have been suspended for picking two yellow cards from the semifinals.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Liverpool Part Ways with Kenny Dalglish

Liverpool have parted company with manager and club legend Kenny Dalgish after a showdown with the club’s hierarchy in Boston.

The Scot who enjoys a cult status at the club was axed by club owners Fenway Sports Group after a second successive disappointing campaign in the Premier League that saw the club finish 8th. A Carling Cup trophy, the first cup in six years for the club, and an FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea were not enough to save Kenny his job in his second season in charge.

"Results in the Premier League have been disappointing and to build on the progress that has been made, we need to make a change," said Chairman Tom Werner in a statement posted in the club’s official website.

"He personifies everything that is good about Liverpool Football Club. He has always put the Club and its supporters first. Kenny will always be a part of the family at Anfield.

“Our job now is to identify and recruit the right person to take this Club forward and build on the strong foundations put in place during the last 18 months,” said Principal owner John .W. Henry.

With Dalgish, who won six English league titles and three European Cup trophies for Liverpool as a player and three league titles, two FA Cups and the Carling Cup as a manager, gone, the search for a new manager to take the reigns at Anfield begins in earnest.

Dalglish is the biggest casualty of Liverpool’s failure this season and his exit comes just over a month since the club’s Director of Football Damien Comolli was also shown the exit door. It's a no brainer that the big-money signings that the two brought to the club but flopped massively hugely contributed to their downfall. The eighth-place finish, the club's lowest since they graduated from the old First Division in 1962 and total league points of 52 points, their lowest ever total in the Premier League era that saw them finish below Everton, only served to compound the situation.

Dalglish’s assistant Steve Clarke also resigned in solidarity with the fallen King.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Steven Gerrard Named England Captain as Three Lions Unveil 23-Man Squad for Euros

Liverpool midfield talisman Steven Gerrard will lead England for their Euro 2012 campaign. Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson while confirming the decision described Gerrard as “the man who can manage this award, or distinction,” and revealed he had already informed the Liverpool legend of the decision.

"He was delighted last night when I told him of my decision,” said Hodgson in a press conference. “I'm counting on him to help me and build the team unity and environment," he added.

Gerrard and the new England manager worked together during the 64-year-old's nightmarish 6-month reign at the Anfield hotseat that came to a crashing end before Kenny Dalglish was appointed to steady the ship.

Gerrard last captained England during the 2010 World Cup where he was one of the few shinning stars in England's disappointing campaign that saw them lose out 4-1 at the hands of Germany in the knockout stages. He takes over the armband from John Terry who was stripped by the Football Association due to the racism row with Queens Park Rangers' Anton Ferdinand.

Meanwhile Hodgson also named his 23-man squad for the Euro Championships that begins on June 8 in Poland and Ukraine.

Joe Hart will provide the calmness that has been lacking for England in goal and he will be deputized by West Ham United's Robert Green and Norwhich City's John Ruddy.

Arsenal teenage sensation Alex Oxlade Chamberlin and former Motherwell goalkeeper Ruddy have been called up for national duty for the first time while Rio Ferdinand was omitted in favour of Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill and John Terry at center-back.

Manchester City's Micah Richards has also been overlooked for the right-back position and Glen Johnson looks the firm favourite with Phil Jones expected to give cover. The left-back position will be guarded by Chelsea's Ashley Cole with Everton's Leighton Baines providing cover.

The midfield position was always going to raise eyebrows and so it did especially with the inclusion of Stewart Downing and James Milner alongside the expected names like Scott Parker, Steven Gerarrd, Frank Lampard, Ashley Young, Gareth Barry and Chamberlain.

Andy Caroll's form might have peaked only in the latter stages of the season but that was enough to earn him a call-up alongside Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Tottenham's Jermaine Defoe. There was no place for Peter Crouch or the impressive Grant Holt.

The five players on stand-by are Birmingham City custodian Jack Butland, Liverpool's Jordan Henderson, Adam Johnson (Man City), Phil Jagielka (Everton) and Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea).

And That's thesteifmastertake!! 


Premier League Team of the Season – Bad Boys Edition

GK - David De Gea – Hey David, how do you walk to a store without your wallet, grab a doughnut then leave? I doughnut understand it amigo. Dude, you earn around £70,000 a week but you couldn’t pocket some £1.19 to buy a doughnut. Seriously? Get real. After the incident, De Gea was dropped from United’s encounter with Norwhich City but the custodian declined the doughnut incident was not the cause for that saying, ““They’re not going to drop me for a doughnut.” LOL


John Terry – It just had to be HIM. He never minds playing it dirty does he? Over the years, Terry’s ability to prove his defensive superiority (in bed) has earned him some good reputation in front of the ladies but definitely not in front of the ladies’ men. Well, it’s premature to conclude he never let loose again this season but one thing he surely let loose is his mouth.  

Roger Johnson – ‘Roger, roger, do you copy?... who turns up for training smelling like a brewery? Roger Johnson. Well, Wolves became the first team to get relegated from the Premier League this season but that could have been expected of a team whose captain would report for training, wait for it, drunk!

The towering defender shamelessly reported for work under the influence of alcohol on March 5 to the shock of the whole team. But hey, before you point any fingers at him, tweet back his wife Melissa Johnson and explain something to her. The WAG, fed up with seeing his husband warming the bench, tweeted 'Trying to understand why my hubbys on the bench right now #ridiculous’. Yeah, ridiculous. As if that wasn’t enough, Roger had a spat with the club’s custodian Wayne Hennnessey in a 3-2 loss to Bolton with two almost coming to blows.

Lee Cattermole – The Sunderland captain received a yellow card in his first two games of the season and never stopped until he hit double figures, just like last season. He followed up his 10 yellow cards and two red cards with another 10 yellow and a red this season finishing as one of the most indisciplined players in the league with an average of a yellow card every two games.

On March 4, 2012, he was booked inside the first minute of the Tyne-Wear derby against Newcastle and was red carded after the final whistle after confronting the referee. He received a 4 match ban. Off the field, the former England U-21 star and his colleague Nicklas Bendtner were arrested early December 2011 for allegedly damaging cars packed outside Newcastle City center. Did I write anything about his tackling? Ask Check Tiote and Luca Modric. Enough said.

Central Midfield

Joey Barton – This guy is multi-talented. He has the talent to play football but not as much the talent he has to cause trouble. If Manchester City needed to be handed a baton to win the Premier League, Barton joyfully did the honour on the final day of the season. The former Geordie had the worst disciplinary record being the only player to get 2 red cards and 10 yellow cards in the league. Oh, and he has the talent to Twit. Twitter should give him some kind of an award. The Twoublesome award. And “Twoublesome” is now trending on Twitter!! He’s the captain of this team.

Stewart Downing – At least he made it into A team of the season. The 27-year-old is naturally a winger but he will be at the heart of the midfield because of a not-so-hearty incident and also since he scored 0 goals and had 0 assists from 72 shots and a penalty the whole season. Maybe shifting the Liverpool man to midfield would make him more productive.  The Middlesbrough Academy graduate was arrested in early January for allegedly hitting his ex-girlfriend at a nightclub though he was later acquitted.

Right Wing
Jermain Pennant - The much-travelled Stoke City winger was arrested on the last day of March for allegedly attacking a woman before crashing his car after a drinking spree. The 29-year-old was charged with “drink-driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance after his white BMW collided with a silver Audi in Sale at 5.20am,” reported the Daily Mail. 5.20am? That’s early enough to book him a spot on the right side of the Bad Boys’ team.

Left Wing
Royston Drenthe - While in high school, my English teacher used to pluck out a quote from anywhere inside a 300-paged book and then ask us to attribute the quotations, clearly indicating who said them, to whom, where and in what context. Let’s try it out with you here: "You know what bothers me so? That tone with which he always says, 'negro, negro'." Who said these words? To who and who was he talking about? Well, not to leave you hanging, that was Everton’s on-loan midfielder Royston Drenthe talking to the press where he accused the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, of racially abusing him when the Dutchman played for his parent club Real Madrid in La Liga.

But that aside, Drenthe had disciplinary issues at the Everton. He was dropped from the FA Cup semi-final clash against Liverpool, which the Toffees lost 2-1, with reports pointing saying he was constantly turning up late for training, something that never impressed David Moyes.


Carlos Tevez - On 27th September 2011, Tevez was dropped to the bench for City’s crucial Champions League tie against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. City were on the brink of elimination so Mancini asked Tevez to warm up and come into the game but the Argentine apparently refused… so goes the story. Carlos resumed training at Manchester on 14 February and claimed Mancini treated him ‘like a dog’ (as if he behaved like anything less). After apologizing, he returned to action on 21st March in a 2-1 win over Chelsea and was on hand to celebrate City’s title triumph with a “R.I.P. Fergie” sign. He apologized. Be sure that won’t be his last apology.

Mario Balotelli – you can bet on your last pence that he will be back on this list next season, perhaps, as captain if Joey Barton doesn’t get a chance to play in the Premier League again. Be it printing “Why Always Me” on his shirt or following it up with “Raffaella Ti Amo” before having a ‘brief involvement’ with a prostitute, Super Mario is always on the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

This season, he had a cocktail of all the drama. Be it trying (and successfully failing) a crazy back heel during a match or having a bust-up with coach Roberto Mancini on the touchline or fighting with Micah Richards during training or fighting with Koralov over a freekick, or gatecrashing in on a press conference at his former club Inter Milan, or setting his house on fire with fireworks, or chanting "Rooney, Rooney" at a prostitute who claimed to have slept with the England international, or breaking a curfew, or crashing his Audi R8 “Because I (Balotelli) am rich”, or visiting a women’s prison, the talented and unpredictable Italian is always up to something. You just can’t get enough of him and every fan will be praying he stays at Manchester City because he isn’t done yet with this antics which we all love to see. Don’t we?

Luis Suarez – This is a selection that John Terry will be proud of. At least he won’t have someone frequently do a nutmeg on him as if his legs were as far apart as East Africa and South America. The Uruguayan is a joy to watch when he has the ball at his feet. But his competitiveness drives him to do crazy things at times and this season was no different. The cream of the crop was the alleged racial abuse of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra that led to an 8-match ban. He was then handed a one game ban and £20000 fine for a middle-finger salute to Fulham fans. In the penultimate game of the season against Chelsea, Suarez escaped punishment in spite of looking like he intentionally hit the face of Branislav Ivanovic who then refused to shake his reconciliatory hands.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Premier League Team of the Season : Yaya Toure and RVP Shine

The 2011-12 Premier League season came to arguably its most dramatic end ever with the title being decided on a span of only two minutes. Manchester City piped defending champions and crosstown rivals Manchester United to the crown while Arsenal staged a remarkable resurgence to finish third ahead of Tottenham. Newcastle outdid themselves finishing fifth, Swansea entertained while Liverpool struggled and so did Chelsea who finished outside the top four for the first time in 10 years.

But who were the stars of the season?

The goalkeeping standards in the Premier League have never been the best in the world but we saw quite a number of keepers starring for their teams this season. Tim Krul was instrumental in goal for Newcastle, Michel Vorm impressed between the sticks for Swansea and Omani international Al Habsi saved Wigan time and again to help them avoid the drop.

However, none of all the keepers proved more deserving than golden glove winner Joe Hart. The 25-year-old is arguably the best goalkeeper in the Premier League and conceded only 29 goals keeping a season-high 17 clean sheets. He was a calming presence in Manchester City’s all-conquering squad and deserved his medal.

Hart’s teammate Vincent Kompany leads the back line without a doubt. If there was any captain that needed to win the premier league title on pure determination and leadership amidst adversity, look no further than the non-nonsense Uccle-born Belgian. The Barclays Player of the Season was severely missed during his 4-game suspension. City were on a roll but the captain’s absence allowed Manchester United to claw back into the title race. However, he was to have the last laugh as he returned and scored the winning header against United that put City in first place with only two games to go. City conceded the least goals during the season thanks to their No. 4 putting his body on the line.


Strong, powerful, and dominant in the air, Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel has had a season to remember, something that cannot be said of the whole Anfield squad. The Slovakian had his ups and downs alright including scoring an own-goal against Fulham but “Mr. Consistency” was the Merseyside club’s player of the season and one of the strongest performers in the league. Newcastle just missed on Champions League football next season but this will be rated as a season in which they overachieved thanks in part to their captain Fabricio Collocini. The Argy missed only three premier league games this season and was a rock at the back forming one of the most formidable partnerships in the league with Steven Taylor.

Leighton Baines had yet another blistering campaign for Everton and it surely won’t be long before he makes a move out of Goodison Park. His swift left-foot terrified defences when he made his customary runs down the left channel but he was barely beatable on one-on-one situations. It makes you wonder just for how long the Toffees will hold on to the Englishman.  

Central Midfield

David Silva is considered one of the best passers of the ball in the world and he did that reputation no harm this season. When he is on song, he is almost impossible to stop and Manchester United would attest to that if they dare remember the 6-1 demolition at Old Trafford. His goals and assists, although they faded a bit in the second half of the season, were key in Manchester City’s stellar campaign. Mentioning Silva without his partner in midfield Yaya Toure would be a crime. The Ivorian justified every little penny that was spent to sign him from Barcelona. His energy, composure and ability to get that important goal makes him truly world-class and Man City will be glad they are in the right side of Yaya. He is the only other player besides Kompany that City severely missed when undertaking national duties at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Left Wing

Injuries permitting, United’s Antonio Valencia is a player capable of winning any game by himself. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side always looks better, plays better and are definitely more threatening when the former Wigan winger is making his habitual runs on the left channel and combining it with his trickery and consummate skills.  He showed flashes of brilliance at Wigan which compelled United to break the bank for him and has continued to scale the heights raking in 13 assists and 4 goals in only 27 matches this season and once again proving that he is one of United’s cream.

Right Wing

Clint Dempsey. Is he a winger, an attacking midfielder or a forward? That’s just how versatile the Texas-born American is. Based on what he accomplished this season, you wouldn’t argue that he might as well be an out and out forward. And with 17 goals this season, the 29-year-old might have just presented himself with one last chance to move to a top 4 club or thereabouts which will make his desire to claim a winners medal of any kind in English football all the more realistic.


If Arsenal don’t deserve playing Champions League football next season, Robin Van Persie certainly does. In a season that started in an appalling manner for the Gunners, one man rose to the occasion and single-handedly dragged his team toward the top of the table. A perfect definition of leading from the front. 30 goals and 9 assists not only earned him the golden boot but saw him collect both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and he FWA Footballer of the Year. Simply unstoppable.

Wayne Rooney may have scored four goals more than Sergio Aguero but the El Kun gets the nod ahead of Wazza by virtue of having scored the last and most vital goal of the whole season; the one that decided the destination of the title.

Michel Vorm

Kyle Walker, Steven Taylor, Joleon Lescott, Benoît Assou-Ekotto

Alex Song, Juan Mata, Yohan Cabaye, Samir Nasri

Emmanuel Adebayor, Papiss Cisse, Wayne Rooney

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Manchester City Win Premier League Title: The Blue Moon Rises after 44 Years!

Two goals in the last two minutes of the 2011-12 Barclays Premier League season secured Manchester City their first title in 44 years. And who else to rob it from than the ‘quite’ neighbours, Manchester United?

The Citizens looked like they were going to blow off a chance of securing their maiden title in the Premier League era against a Queens Park Rangers side that was in itself fighting to avoid the drop until Bosnian Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero popped out with two last minute goals that gave City a 3-2 win and brought to a climax the most dramatic title race in the world’s strongest league history.

With just 2 of 5 minutes added time remaining, Roberto Mancini’s side were trailing 2-1. They needed to score two goals to stop Sir Alex Ferguson, whose Manchester United had partly completed their work with Wayne Rooney’s solitary goal against Sunderland, from reading his acceptance speech of a 13th Premier League title. Man City looked desperate (and rightly so) especially given that they had three prolific strikers in Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotteli upfront. They had all fired blanks against Mark Hughes’ QPR side who had built a 10-man defensive wall that had repelled all but City’s single shot that had gone in in the first half.

Then came the 92nd minute and second half substitute Edin Dzeko rose above the rest to head in past Paddy Kenny and make it 2-2. Still not enough. However, there was hope with just two more minutes remaining.

But it seems it had been written and so it had to be done. With the clock hitting 94 minutes, City engineered one last move. The one to make it or break it. The one that would see the Blue moon rising and red mist surround the red-half of Manchester. Or not. The one that would deny United their record 20th Premier League title. And how would Liverpool fans love that!

Sergio Aguero, collecting the ball inside the box must have whispered to himself, “It’s now or never El Kun, your father-in-law, the great Diego Armando Maradona is watching, all those in white and blue are watching, damn it, everyone in the world is watching! This is it! You can do it son!!” Not that he had the time to say all that. But he must have said something he can never remember as he dodged what looked like a million reddish boots desperately trying to rob him the ball before hitting it without a shred of doubt and into the back of the net. City had done it!

I celebrated. And am not, has never been and will never be a City fan. But on Sunday evening, I had to be one. And one, I was.

Meanwhile, Bolton's 17-year reign in the English topflight came to a crushing end as they joined Blackburn and Wolverhampton in relegation. The Trotters needed to win their game at Stoke City and hope Man City beat QPR. But while the latter happened, Jonathan Walters struck a 77th minute penalty that ensured the game ended 2-2 leading to Bolton's relegation with 36 points, one less than QPR.

Arsenal secured the automatic Champions League berth coming from behind to beat West Brom 3-2 in Roy Hodgson's last game in charge of the West Midlands club before he takes over as England national team manager. Tottenham secured the fourth spot to put them in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League but they will be praying that Chelsea lose the Champions League final to Bayern Munich on May 19.

Swansea's Danny Graham scored an 86th minute winner that condemned Liverpool to their 14th loss of the season as Kenny Dalglish's side finished a position below their Merseyside rivals Everton for the first time since 2004-05 season. David Moyes' side dashed Newcastle United's hopes of qualifying for Champions League with a 3-1 win.

But the day belonged to Manchester City. Will they dominate next season? And beyond? Roll on!

And That's thesteifmastertake!!