2011/12 Season Taught Me…

It’s How Well, Not How Long
It’s become easy for the longevity of some managers career to become inadvertently ridiculed by the exploits of some younging that’s propped from retirement from active football (a.k.a. from nothing) to become a better paid and/or a more acclaimed manager.

Depending on your viewpoint, Wenger’s greatest acclaim would be leading Arsenal through the 2003/04 season unbeaten, or leading the club to 15 consecutive appearances in the group stage of the lucrative UEFA Champions League.

There’s also the favourite of mine, his ability to ‘unearth’ such names as Thierry Henry, Nicholas Anelka, Emmanuel Adebayor and Francesc Fàbregas and make surreal profits off their departures from the club for the club. Hopefully Wenger will skip the economics this time and suceed in extending Robin van Persie’s contract.

All that said, Jose Mourinho was nobody when Wenger ruffled the established order that was Sir Alex Ferguson back in the late 90s. Now, the self acclaimed Special One has so far won the Champions League twice at two different clubs.

While Mourinho’s case is still much palatable to bear; being a ‘nobody’ in the managerial sense, here is Roberto di Matteo who was still active on the field when Wenger ruffled the established order… as was Pep Guardiola.

RDM has a Champions League title to his name, Pep has two to his along with two Club World Cup wins and as many European Super Cups. Wenger? Shishi!

Obviously one cannot discard his managerial abilities but Wenger needs to stop whatever fantasy that is making an inception seem to be the reality of his life and get dead serious with the job of winning trophies again or else, Guardiola, Mourinho et al will become the legends in the game and leave le Professeur to be just a manager respected just because…

At least, Sir Alex can say he’s won the Champions League twice. Wenger will say he lost a final… you see that? Lost? Remember that Valencia team that reached two successive Champions League finals after winning the UEFA Cup? History has them in the “ehyaa” folder, same folder that Arsenal team of 2005/06 is in.

Take Your Chances
Barcelona could have had 100% possession in either of the semi-final legs against Chelsea, yet we all know how that turned out for the Catalans as well as for the Bavarians afterwards.

It can be argued that Chelsea was most fortunate in both affairs but then again, Messi should’ve been a bit more precise with his penalty… or Robben should’ve hit his the other way of Cech.

In other words, all that possession will come to nothing if the team with the ball most of the time doesn’t take the chances when such come its way. And the danger in that is, possessive teams can become profligate in front of goal just because the players believe “we’ll create another chance… “… that’s fatal procrastination and how Real Madrid and Chelsea ‘unfairly’ pipped Barcelona in late April is good proof.

Penalty Won Isn’t Penalty Scored
Lionel Messi hadn’t missed a spotkick all season yet fate contrived to have him miss against Chelsea… Barça lost. A day later, Cristiano Ronaldo scored one in normal time only to see his spotkick during the shootout against Bayern saved… Real lost.

Arjen Robben scored two penalties that day, in normal time and during the shootout. Yet, Cech saved the Dutchman’s penalty in extra time that otherwise would likely have won the Champions League for the German club. He didn’t step up in the subsequent shootout… Bayern lost.

Juan Mata had his penalty saved by Manuel Neuer that night too but his teammates rallied well. Summarily, the very best players can miss six-yard sitters afterall. Even Stewart Downing did on the final day of the Premier League. Sheesh!

Circumstances Can Freeze Good Players Out
For various reasons, a number of exciting players became strangers to the field in the last season. Like movie like series, Jack Wilshere didn’t play a single competitive match. Remember the pre-season friendly Arsenal played against Köln? Remember his combination with Gervinho? I was looking forward to a lot of that but made do with Song’s combo with van Persie instead.

Then there’s Aleksander Kolarov at Manchester City, Stefan Savic as well. Both basically became surplus to requirement at the Etihad, Kolarov more due to Clichy’s consistency and Savic more for being far from the Kompany – Lescott quality.

But at Old Trafford, Berbatov’s quality is known but SAF preferred even Danny Welbeck ahead of the Bulgarian who plays at times like he can’t be bothered so Fergie must have thought ‘why bother the bros?’.

Alan Pardew on his part got Demba Ba FOC from West Ham, bang bang bang he went. Pardew got another Demba from Freiburg in January, bang bang bang Papiss went but at Ba’s expense.

All that banging however meant Leon Best became not the best option, coupled with some injury. Best simply slipped into the ‘memoriam’ folder at the Sports Direct Arena.

Then there’s Park Chu-Young. It’s seeming like Wenger only bought him to piss off Lille that was on the edge of signing him at the start of the season so le Professeur must’ve thought “they didn’t sell me Hazard eh?! Might as well jack their move for Park then!”.

The star of frozen out players though has to be Man. United’s Bebe! Seven million just so he can seldom make appearances… for the reserves?! Investigate away UEFA, please!!

Big Teams Can Lose Real Big
And it’s little wonder the north London clubs finished behind the Manchester ones after the former got shredded on the same weekend early in the last season, the weekend Man. City left White Hart Lane 5-1 winners while Arsenal got done 8-2 at Old Trafford.

Then Man. United lived through the massive, right from the gut spit on the face they got from Mario Balotelli and the rest of the noisy neighbour gang. The Red Devils also got the beat down at Newcastle United while Arsenal scored five to defeat city rivals Spurs and Chelsea in games that produced 15 goals between them.

In all that clash of the titans above, Liverpool instead got the wrath of the not titans in losing to opponents that really should’ve been beaten. They lost to Swansea and Wigan Athletic but those two…

Those two were a nuisance to the big teams with Wigan getting the scalp of Liverpool, Man. United and Arsenal before thrashing Newcastle 4-0. Swansea on their part beat Liverpool, Arsenal and Man. City, and left a mark on Chelsea and United.

Miscelleanous
Oil money is good please, very good. City have won the league, Anzhi stays poaching at the big clubs… they’ll get it right soon. PSG have only itself to blame for Montpellier’s Ligue 1 triumph but we all agree le Parisien is set to dominate the Ligue 1 as Lyon did not too long ago.

Chelsea’s oil money finally won a Champions League and now, I can’t but pray Alisher Usmanov buys enough shares at Arsenal! Praying for some tycoon to buy Lazio and restore the glory days of Sergio Cragnotti albeit without the boardroom troubles.

Further up the Italian league and the Old Lady is back. Unbeaten through the league season and beaten by Napoli to the Coppa Italia means Juventus went through the Italian football season with just a defeat… greatness!

While Juventus seems to be back, along with the promotion of Torino to Lega Calcio; bringing back the Turin derby to Serie A fixtures, Italy waved farewell to a number of fond names there.

Alessandro Del Piero played his final game for Juve in the Coppa Italia final loss while veterans Filippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gatusso and Clerance Seedorf will leave AC Milan this summer. An emotional end to the Italian campaign all round.

And an emotional campaign it was,especially with the Livorno player (Piermario Morosini) that died of a cardiac arrest. May he rest in peace, amen. Makes Fabrice Muamba’s recovery from same situation all the more appreciated.

To Stay Quiet Till Full Time
No I don’t mean how City win the league in the afterlife, sort of. Someone here had wagered on a Bayern win and (no) thanks to Thomas Müller begun to brag how he’d become N30,000 richer.

We were happy for him… then Drogba equalised!

The End.

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