The Playing Field
  • I sack, therefore I am

    This devil doesn't wear Prada! The trademark stubble, digital watch and disheveled looks...all these cheat you from believing that he is the 53rd richest person on the planet. So when Roman Arkadyevich Abromovich - a 36-year-old Russian tycoon purchased a debt-ridden Chelsea in 2003 - he didn't fit the picture quite well. It was not easy to associate a young, unshaven Russian billionaire in the stands, with the game of football. But then, with money, you can even buy faith. His fat pocket paid off the club's debts, brought star players to Stamford Bridge, and took Chelsea to the heights within a matter of year.

    The 'misfit' soon turned into a 'messiah' with the Blues winning their first English Premiere League title in 50 years with the most number wins (29) by conceding the fewest goals (15) in a season. Abromovich didn't have to wait too long to silence his critics; just as his phenomenal rise to glory. After all, patience is not a term you can associate with him. This man hardly Read More »from I sack, therefore I am
  • Beware, 'Big Brother is watching you'

    If I could ever go back in time and change something, wish I could disallow the infamous 'Hand of God'. In the history of football, there had been many such instances where the legitimacy of a referee's judgment was called into question. Those decisive moments happen in the blink of an eye, often making it impossible for human eye to descry,  the latest being Manchester United-Chelsea match where referee Mark Clattenburg's erroneous decisions changed the outcome of the match.

    The controversial match saw Clattenburg sending off Torress for simulation, after he seemed convinced that the latter's fall was exaggerated. Soon after, Chelsea, with their two men down, succumbed to a 3-2 defeat  as Javier Hernandez netted the ball in the 75th minute. Later, the replays showed Chicharito in offside position, but Clattenburg awarded Red Devils their winning goal.

    The otherwise thrilling match thus had an unfortunate end owing to refereeing fallacy. Clattenburg, on the other hand, is no stranger to

    Read More »from Beware, 'Big Brother is watching you'
  • Why it is hard to be Cristiano Ronaldo

    "I think we will never see another player like this. He is the best in the world by far."

    For Barcalona coach Tito Vilanova, Lionel Messi is undoubtedly the 'numero uno' in football. He added that Messi's arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo would have been "more recognised" if his career had not coincided with Messi's. He wasn't downplaying Ronaldo by any means, but again, I wonder how far one can agree to that statement.

    Comparisons can be exasperating, and it can inadvertently feed on the green-eyed monster that fuels animosity; the same time, it could help bring out the best in everyone. In sports, rivalries at top order have always helped players to set their limits higher - be it the Borg - McEnroe rivalry in the late 70s or Federer-Nadal duel of the current era - it draws a larger spectacle to the game without fail.

    Messi or Ronaldo? The question itself is quite ambiguous as Hamlet's age old dilemma "to be, or not to be". The 6 ft 1 petulant, assertive Ronaldo isn’t a popular pick Read More »from Why it is hard to be Cristiano Ronaldo
  • The return of the prodigal


    ‘Respect the opponent, Respect Diversity, Respect The Game’- thus goes the motto of Euro 2012's 'Respect' campaign that highlights UEFA's continuous commitment to combat any form of discrimination. How ironic that UEFA Euro 2012 witnessed Mario Balotelli - the first black player to play for the Italian national football team, the 'adopted' destiny's child married to notoriety - earn high respect from his teammates and countrymen for his brilliant exhibit of talent, that took Italy to the finals. Balotelli's double against Germany serve as a topping for UEFA's Respect Diversity campaign.

    Life has not been a crystal stair for this 21-year-old Italian citizen of Ghanaian descent. A deadly cocktail of talent and misdemeanor, that's Mario Balotelli. Talk about altercations, red cards and suspensions, the answer will be Mario – an immature ‘big kid’ who claims “I’m more a man than Peter Pan.”

    If wackiness is the evil twin of genius, then Mario fits perfectly into that class. He is a
    Read More »from The return of the prodigal
  • The trickery of Panenka Penalty

    During the 1976 European Championship Finals, a 5ft 10 in Czechoslovakian player Antonin Panenka looked unperturbed as he fired the decisive penalty kick into the German goalpost. The finely chipped ball pierced right through the heart of the opposition post when goalie Sepp Maier dived to his left, as if under some spell. The brazen, yet calculated goal made a French journalist then dub Antonín Panenka a poet, and the player became a bit of a cult hero with the classic kick being named after him.

    Italy's Pirlo scores a goal past England's goalkeeper Hart during the penalty shoot-out of their Euro 2012 quarter-final soccer match at Olympic Stadium in KievItaly's Pirlo scores a goal past England's goalkeeper Hart during the penalty shoot-out of their Euro 2012 quarter-final soccer match at Olympic Stadium in Kiev
    Yesterday, against England in the quarterfinals of UEFA Euro Championship, Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo successfully reenacted the footie bard's cheeky penalty, displaying nerves of steel at the taut, decisive  shootout moment, fooling England's goalie Joe Hart. For Pirlo, who played a pivotal role in pinning down the Englishmen (apparently he ran 11.58 km, more than any English player, according to UEFA), this was an icing on the cake. With the media going berserk about Pirlo's
    Read More »from The trickery of Panenka Penalty
  • He came, He saw, He got axed

    Andre Villas-Boas
    The 'Sword of Damocles' which had been hanging above Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas’ head, has finally come off. Roman Abromovich has shown the door to Chelsea’s youngest-ever Manager a day after his team’s shameful defeat to Bromwich. Boas is the sixth manager to be sacked by the Russian oligarch since he acquired the Blues in 2003. The bomb was set to explode anytime after Chelsea's shameful defeat to Napoli during the UEFA Champions League home knockout games; the only question was how soon.

    Chelsea on their website has said

    "The board would like to record our gratitude for his work and express our disappointment that the relationship has ended so early. Unfortunately the results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season.
    The club is still competing in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup, as well as challenging for a top-four spot in the Premier League, and we aim to remain as
    Read More »from He came, He saw, He got axed


(35 Stories)

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