Sunday, November 23, 2008

what kind of soccer fan are you?

Over this weekend I was wondering what it would take to be a Leeds United soccer fan, from their heady days in the nineties, to their current state languishing in the lower leagues. Or what it would take to be a die hard Super League team supporter in the Kenyan league, fighting for survival.

A good number of Arsenal supporters (at least the Kenyan ones) are looking for the nearest cracks in the wall to hide themselves in...

One of the hall marks of a true soccer fan is to be able to support your team, through thick and thin. The true test of support is when things are going bad. A bit of a parallel here with Arsenal's former captain Gallas who when the team needed him most (Birmingham last season) chose to sulk at the centre of the pitch.

Calling all the true Shabik's there .. show your teams support; after all you cannot influence some decisions (e.g. who to buy / not to buy) so as a shabik, one is supposed to support.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Soccer is a team sport. Team members have to work together off and on the pitch to achieve success on the pitch. Human nature often makes team work a challenge. Any team must have a leader to champion the team's aspirations and provide direction. The leader has to be a person of exceptional skills both in his trade as well as in his ability to marshal the team members and focus their individual energies to achieve the common goal. Among the players' ranks, the leader should undoubtedly be the captain. Being a player he has a closeness and understanding of other players that the manager may be unable to command. He has the manager's ear as the manager expects him to help translate his ideas on the pitch. Unfortunately sometimes teams have power brokers who are defacto leaders. A player may acquire this defacto status by virtue of his football prowess or years of service to the club or a special endearment to the club leadership or fan-base.

Before I bore you with a lecture on team work I would like to say that the house of Arsene Wenger is on fire and so is Bernard Shuster's. The house mates started the fire and are now frantically trying to distinguish it yet are without a clue on how to. The fire is being fanned by disunity, lethargy and a lack of leadership in these two respective houses. William Galas has just disclosed that a team mate who had issues with other team members has been disrespectful to him. He has particularly taken exception with this player's attitude considering that the said player is six years his junior. This begs one question though, Does Gallas deserve the captaincy (and the respect that goes with it)? Is he a leader? Is he forthright yet calm as a true captain should be? The answers to these questions are subjective but either way he is the chosen leader therefore he deserves respect. Leadership comes with a lot of responsibility that is difficult to assume without the necessary support. He has rightfully taken the flak for a series of poor performances, yet win or loss it's a combined team performance. Beyond this, I see a bigger
problem, a lack of leadership that runs deeper than just the captaincy. If Gallas is a poor leader then Wenger should take the blame for his appointment. Wenger should also have put in place measures to avoid or at least contain dissent from the youthful players. Youth comes with talent & exuberance but often it also comes with inexperience in many forms including lack of team work. Alex Ferguson did not entertain disrespect from some of his most useful and experienced players (read Berckham & RVN). Also, he has always given the captaincy armband to no-nonsense personalities like Roy Keene. Just out of curiosity who might this disrespectful player be? Adebayor? Vanpasse?

Now across the sea to the other house on fire…..While Arsenal is grappling with the challenges of containing a bunch of over exuberant youth, Real's problems are primarily due to lethargy. A common thread though is a clear lack of leadership. Why does a player like Raul wield so much power when it's obvious that he is at the sunset of his career? It's rumoured that he resisted the attempts to sign David Villa fearing that his place in the team would be jeopardized. Real is bemoaning injury problems, but what does one expect when you have a bunch of old overworked horses that should have been shot along time ago. On Schuster's appointment, he promised the fans that they would be seeing a return to the beautiful play that has been the pedigree of the los Merengues. In all honesty Real's play is the worst that I have ever seen. Its sheer agony watching a team with no commitment or even conviction in their ability (or the lack of it). When David Berckham & colleagues were teenagers playing for MAN-U's reserve team they would
liken themselves to Real when they had a successful and beautiful display on the pitch. Oh how the mighty have fallen!

What's the conclusion of the matter? It all boils down to leadership.To Wenger and Schuster all I can say is shape up or ship out but as for me, I wish you all the worst in your endeavours!

Monday, November 17, 2008

KPL champions.. EPL.. Name changes

Mathare United are the KPL champions, after a battling draw over the weekend. Good for them; I've always been an admirer of the team and its structures. Let's also wait and see what'll happen with the national head coach situation.

Now apparently we have a new body FKL (Football Kenya Limited), taking over from KFF. Of course Sam Nyamweya and co wouldn't be happy about this change of events, so I suspect that the self-seeking power struggles over who's in charge of Kenyan soccer will continue for sometime.

One cannot help but feel that FIFA could have done much better in this regard. FIFA are not saints themselves anyhow so maybe that's wishful thinking.

There is so much potential, but greed and selfish ambition seems to be (as usual) the order of the

Now abroad:

Chelsea and Liverpool continue with their ominous form. Chelsea for me look the more likely to sustain their march to the title, with Anelka in the form of his life. Liverpool are grinding out the results - an aspect that was largely absent in previous seasons.
ManU finally turned on the style and Stoke city discovered that long throws don't always win games.. and were demolished by a Ronaldo inspired team, missing the likes of Rio and Rooney.
So for Arsenal, 9 points off the top, the fight is not about the title, its about maintaining 'top 4 status', with Aston Villa looking a solid and balanced team. At best this season they can be considered a Cup team, since they lack the consistency to challenge for the title. And by cup - perhaps Carling Cup, now that the kids seem to be better performers..

I remember posting this at the end of October.

10 games 20 points
2 points per game
38 games -> a projected return 76 points.
Arsenal has not played any of the traditional top 4 teams, plus the likes of Aston Villa who are top 4 contenders

Arsenal have now played a 'top 4' team and Aston Villa.. The facts:
13 games 23 points
<2 points per game
38 games -> a projected return of <76 points. and a max points possible of 98...
No Arsenal fan surely believes that this is a title winning team...

I suspect Chelsea might just win it. Though I know Liverpool really really want it after sooooo many years.

Whatever happened to Redondo and De'Stefano?