Saturday, 11 May 2019

English Dominance

It was the summer of 2009 when Manchester, England was filled with hope of landing yet another Holy Grail, however everyone knew what they were up against and their manager more than anyone else. Their opponent was a behemoth whose bench would humiliate most of the European teams and yes you have guessed it right, it was Barcelona. To add insult to the injury, they had a new manager who was an ex-Catalan himself and had brought a whole new style of play which later was infamously called "tiki-taka". On the other hand, Manchester United had this really good young kid and arguably the most famous headmaster in the history of football - Sir Alex Ferguson and you can guess why he had a knighthood. Manchester United were crushed as expected in what was almost a one-sided game. It was the beginning of what resulted in a all out Spanish dominance in Europe. Spanish teams won all the finals that they played after that. Barcelona and Real Madrid shared 7 of the next 10 Champions Cups and for most of the parts, it was nothing but a piece of cake. It was 2016-17 campaign when Madrid didn't lose even a single game out of the 13 they had played. These were those times when even a random guess for winner would be right 70% of the times. The most coveted competition in Europe started to lose its meaning and critics had nothing but praise for Spanish teams and criticism for other leagues. This consistency and publicity was helping Spanish teams as good talent was attracted towards them like a moth to the flame and money was definitely a big plus as that was helping them in sealing the deal.

How it impacted English Football

English Premier League (EPL) faced the most criticism as it was the most popular league at that time and had Russian and Middle Eastern billionaires backing them. Increasing pressure led to investment of billions of pounds which led to rejuvenation of these clubs with new managers and players but with similar results. Top 4 English teams saw departure of 23 managers during this period and it wasn't the case that no one was producing results. English teams did play 4 finals during this period and managed to win one. Its just that owners and fans were expecting more than a  meager trophy in 10 years and as a result of constant failure, these teams started losing good players. Cristiano, Suarez, Bale, Coutinho, Courtois and other big names in English leagues booked their one way tickets to Spain. Although English teams got a lot of money in exchange but they weren't able to put it to good use due to dearth of players in the market and a bunch of combined bad decisions.

What next?

While this was misery for many, some sensed an opportunity.  English premier league saw arrival of some of the best managers across Europe in past 3 years and they started building and money was never a concern as billions of pounds were pouring in from advertisement deals, kit sponsorship and obviously expensive transfers. These big managers started attracting big players as well but fans got nothing but disappointment in the first year. None of the teams were able to impress with the torch bearer, Manchester City getting eliminated in round of 16 and while everyone was thinking that it is next to impossible for English teams to leave a pan-Europe impression, these creative geniuses had something else in mind. They were doing their magic and a culture of constant evolution became perennial in English football. They were developing a team with depth, character and rigor and they showed it the very next year with Liverpool reaching the final of Champions League and 3 of the 4 semi-finalists and both the finalists from England the year after (2018-19). Those who didn't make it to Champions league secured the final spots in sister European competition and English teams created the history as for the first time ever, finalists across all European competitions were English and remind you that these are the clubs that play 3 domestic leagues every year as compared to 2 that other clubs do. Actions indeed speak.

Is it really a dominance?

As you must be wondering what good one season would do and you are right, English teams still have a long way to go. It is time for celebration for English football and its fans. While there are a lot of reasons to believe that these teams can repeat the same feat next season, it is too early to predict the turn of events. Stay hopeful.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Blending IN

 Over a billion people, more than 700 different languages and cultures, hundreds of casts and sects and a very unique and illustrious history; yes I am talking about the country encompassed from three sides with water and watched over by the great Himalayas itself from the other side. This is the only place in the whole world inhabited by omnifarious “hoi polloi” and owing to all these facets, this land is referred to as the incredible India but talking about its inhabitants - Are they incredible? Well, most of us are acquainted with this fact and I am echoing it again that we are not. This wouldn’t sound musical to our ears but there is one peculiarity in our nature that might again make us alive and kicking and that is our quality of blending in or rather trying to blend in.

Most of the people of Indian origin residing in a foreign country go in for the way of living, estranged to most of us in a jiffy and adapt themselves to their lifestyle. They modulate almost every aspect of their personality but for their dialect, which undeniably is a burden. This is very typical of most of the Indian people but our neighbors residing in the same country and that too in numbers comparative to or more than ours are not appreciative of this unique attribute that directs me towards a very conspicuous question. If it is such a rare virtue, why doesn’t every immigrant hold it? Are they hesitant in adaptation or are they inept? Do they wish to preserve their own lifestyle in a foreign nation or are they frightened of an unfamiliar society? I am not in a spot to make a riposte on behalf of our neighbors but I think that they try to keep possession of their lifestyle and their culture wherever they go, which I think is admirable. So, are we Indians losing sight of this very fact that we hail from a country considered synonymous to incredible or are we right on? Now, this is a million dollar question.

It is good to blend in and to get the hang of other cultures and societies but we should at least give an iota of a thought before acting. Neither we should act like our neighbors and stay in our restricted boundaries, nor we should start singing a different tune altogether. There is a thin line between these two and we have to pick it out for our betterment. I am not expressing my anguish but trying to unravel the paramount problem of we Indians.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Twist in the tale

The snapshot of the 11 best members of football varsity, carrying the brand of FIFA and comprising of all individuals of Spanish giants is still quite vivid in my mind map.No human is going to question the agility and skills of these great giants of Blaugranas and Los Blancos but something altered the course of thought of every individual on this planet. Something that will remain etched on the memory of every fan. Something that has been recorded in the black books and can nohow be removed. Something that flooded the wall of every facebook user with indelible trolls. So what happened that questioned the dominance of those who used to rule the roost of world football. The answer to this question in not elusive.

The annihilation of Barcelona and Real Madrid by German giants in the knock out clash of the most prestigious competition of the Europe might answer this query. A thumping defeat in a 9 goal thriller over the period of two days in which the mighty Spaniards were able to make the ball see the net only once. The echo of these successive defeats were heard in every corner of the world and this culminated with an elephantine question over the selection of world 11 by FIFA. Considering the fact that Chelsea and Bayern were the two   seeing the berth of Champions league final last year and the year before the red devils secured the spot.

If points tally or goals scored  are considered a criterion, there is not much disparity between the Spanish and German sides. The nourishment of youth is unparalleled in Bundesliga as compared to that on the Spanish turf. Blaugranas acclaimed youth foundation, La Mesia even failed to witness the quarter final of Next gen series. Talking of the Euro and World cups win by Spain, I have a dark shadow of doubt as CR7, the great great lio, Columbian forward Radamel and Brazilian right back made it through this mesmerizing squad but the irony is that these legends do not leg the ball for Spanish herd. This is the dilemma of many fans throughout the world as to why the mighty Lahm, Hummels, Robben, Ribbery, Muller can not make their way through a squad in which Pique and Alba squared their ways.

My question to FIFA is quite vivid, is there the need to engineer a world 11 every year when questions are being raised on your officiating every other day and even if you want to feel nostalgic about the performance of the dribblers or shielders, then start loving and respecting English and German football in the same way as the Spanish because they also know the skills of the game and they have demonstrated the same on front of your Spanish clubs by clobbering them.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Blues in my veins: Blues in my veins

Blues in my veins: Blues in my veins: No glorious past, no mesmerizing moments, no outstanding squad but I am not able to ascertain the reason why I started supporting a club, ...

Blues in my veins

No glorious past, no mesmerizing moments, no outstanding squad but I am not able to ascertain the reason why I started supporting a club, which was a normal club per se. Whether that was due to inflow of Rubles or due to the manoeuvre and brilliance of Jose that blue started flowing in my veins instead of red. Guys this is not due to lack of haemoglobin but it was a conglomeration of enthusiasm and love for the blues that I started loving a game which seemed mundane to others. I started liking Chelsea to such an extent that I sometimes in my day dreams started considering myself a part and parcel of this soccer varsity. This club carries the name of a famous district of London on the bank of Thames river and in literal sense means a ‘chalk landing place’. Many moons ago, in 1901 this club came into existence, since then a long journey of struggle finally crowned them the English champions in 2004-05 under Master Jose, this phase is considered to be the rejuvenation of the blues. Hitherto, they have coined their names on all big competitions in Europe including the most prestigious Champions Cup.
I, as a Layman loved the game of the Londoners to such an extent that I became besotted with its spirit. I started feeling the doppelganger of my country in this club. The love for India and Chelsea coalesced and made me sad with every disappointing moment, wetted my eyes with their every success and sometimes made me feel nostalgic about some of the past memorabilia as if it happened with me only. I have never ever experienced a feeling like that in my life for a name. A name, so mighty and audacious that the mightiest Blaugranas got haunted by their meager thought, a feeling, so exiting and delirious which can make you go places.
Ups and downs are a part of a game and so the blues had to face but battling all those circumstances and emerging out as favorites in Europe makes them invincible. This is the feeling only a true blue can understand, when your every beat strokes her name, when your every thought is clouded by her memories. The only varsity in Europe that faced a dearth of coaches, each alternate season witnessing a new boss and even then keeping them calm and composed, adapting the new and changed formats of the game to forbid all the mishaps and emerging as champions and meeting the mightiest of the opponents none the less in the battle field to achieve all the glories.
A heap of so many memories of the blues never shrouds a meager one. May you prosper and achieve roaring successes in the years to come and may the endearment of the fans never leave you for a short while. Love you Blues, now, today and forever.