Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Back From Brooklyn...

So I've been away. For far too long. I've been in USA where, even in Brooklyn, soccer seems to be the attention-seeking toddler peeping through and around the legs of the unfeasibly tall (basketballers) and unfeasibly wide (US footballers) that dominate the game.

Yes I could've paid Rupert Murdoch and sucked up the Sky-spunking Premier League but I chose not to do that. It's good to have break from this sort of saturation. Off the wagon I was in a manner of speaking.

Have I missed it? Well apart from Boro's brilliant form - that petered out at Ipswich to greet my return, ta very much - not a lot.

In my absence, the Premier League has sought to right itself. Citeh and Chelsea are strides ahead of the rest. When Mourinho says his players don't dive, I kind of agree. Cahill's impression of a leaping impala getting taken out by a crossbow has to be one of the most laughable examples of this disgraced art we have yet seen.

Mourinho wil probably make sure there's a lot less falling over in the next few matches, but you can't help thinking that, following two typical cockney forays into he teeth of the North-East (I've seen you Londoners up here - "Brrr!! I need another layer!" "Isn't the architecture bleak?" "oooh that's very hot for a rogan josh" etc. ) the Portuguese wanted his boys to make absolutely sure Hull were beaten.

Pellegrini seems to have bought himself a bit of time now that Citeh have taken a baby step into the last 16 of the Champions League. Rushing back Aguero might seem a good idea but anyone with half a mind - Robbie Savage for example - would know that the reason he keeps twanging ligaments and muscles is cos they keep rushing him back. Duh!

Meanwhile the story of the season continues to be twofold. West Ham are doing well - please God don't make this lead to a rallying cry for Big Sam to take over the reins for England. And the romantic second team of last year are doing shite. From runner-ups to run aground. Liverpool have fallen from grace like a mighty tiger sliding into a bath of beans.

Yes they have lost a front two, but Rodgers has had money to burn and replaced them with a big Scouse workhorse he doesn't trust (Lambert) and a big Italian twerp who no one trusts (Balotelli). In short Rodgers has been rubbish this year.

I see he reckons Liverpool can target a top four finish after they bundled in a last minute equaliser against a ludicrously timid Arsenal. I guess his reasoning is that they can't play any worse. And Sterling seems to be sharper now he's dispensed with the Little Richard bouffant. Small man, big hair never works does it? He looked like a particularly cool character that never quite made it into the Peanuts cartoons.

In other news, Alistair Cook has finally been relieved of his duties as one-day cricket captain after being utterly crap at the format for as long as anyone can remember. Mind you, just cos the decision was a 'no-brainer' doesn't mean the England selectors didn't take a fucking age to reach the same conclusion as everyone else.

Honestly that bunch of deflanneled toffs don't make decisions in a hurry do they? I've seen glacial valleys formed with greater alacrity.
The Barclays Center from my distant view. The Duke of Cambridge is the very slapheaded fella on the front row.
Meanwhile, Robbo's sporting horizons have widened. I watched an NBA game at the Barclays Center which featured an on-court meeting between our royals and theirs. William and Kate plodded in that tiresomely studied regal manner while the ball was in play. I mean they didn't pay for their tickets, they couldn't be bothered to turn up on time and then they put the players off.  Plain bloody rude.

Beyonce and Jay-Z - both shorter than you'd imagine - welcomed our national no-marks with open arms and it all got in the way of watching one Lebron James who, despite me being very sketchy on the technique and principles of basketball, stood out from the fray like Darcey Bussell on a hen night dance floor.

The man is grace personified. He did very little for the first half, then decided to show up for a quarter and the Nets were dead in the water. Lebron sat down for the last eight minutes, his work done. He might just be the finest sportsman I've seen in the flesh. Then again, there's always Alan Foggon.

The mighty Foggo
Of course returning for a Christmas break after a football-free period is like a crash-dieter getting a fortnight's binge at Gregg's. It'll more than get me back on the bad side. I have always cherished this wall-to-wall footy festival. It's not quite the same without the iron-hard frozen pitches, the snow walled up around the pitch-sides and the orange balls pinging about like mysterious glowing planets.

And you have to regret the creeping professionalism that prevents a bunch of top-class sportspeople from tottering across a frozen wasteland on Boxing day with Watneys Red Barrel and a dodgy many malted whisky repeating at their befrosted lips as they blunder around like bad-ass Bambis and some old-school Burnley or Leicester takes them apart.

I guess that was usually a United or a Liverpool. I haven't mentioned Man United. From my distant viewpoint they appeared to be stumbling into a run of victories which were single-handedly maintained by one David De Gea. If that man patrolled the Mexican border, no one would get in.

And while there seems to be as much luck as judgement going into the United renaissance I cannot help but be impressed with Van Gaal, not least because he is refreshingly direct about the stupidity or otherwise of his own players. I doubt, Louis would've have been insisting in the innocence of his staff after a performance like the Chelsea Tumblers put in against Hull.

I till reckon Chelsea'll win - yes I tipped Citeh at the start of the season - but somehow they grind it out. As for the quadruple... no. The treble, quite possibly, but they won't stop Real Madrid. No one will.

As ever I shall be handing out some pressies for the great and good of British sport in the next blog. But I have one question: what the fuck is Lewis Hamilton, a dull man in the dullest of sports, doing winning Sports Personality of the Year? McIlroy - far less dull even if the sport he plays isn't exactly thrilling - was a far more deserving recipient.

Tsk. I dunno. You leave the country for a couple of months...