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The reason Park is getting so much playing time at the minute is because Nani is injured and Giggs just doesn't have the legs to play many games anymore so Ferguson is trying to keep the squad as fresh as he can before the really big games come.

Last season we had to play the run-in using the same players in virtually every match and that, coupled with an injury crisis in defense cost us our chance of progression in the champions league. At least this year we have been able to rotate the team so players like Anderson, Tevez, Nani, Carrick, Scholes and Hargreaves are all reasonably fresh. Even Ronaldo was able to completely sit out the entire Roma game last week.

As for Ronaldo showboating, it was merely a case of him running down the clock. Arsenal have scored more late goals than any other team this season and although a draw for them wouldn't have helped their title chances it would most definitely have dented ours.

PR316, did you notice that Adebayor actually scored his goal with his hand? It was blatant and should have been disallowed. Arsenal will always be a team who can look better than their opponents because they play such pretty football but there is pretty football and winning football. They don't know how to grind out a result and far too often they try to walk the ball into the back of the net. I seriously think they have missed the grit of English players in the run in. Both Chelsea and ourselves have some excellent English lads in the squad and when push comes to shove it is those sort of players who help get the team results in this league even if they aren't as technically gifted as their foreign compatriots.
^^^True. But there was also a bit of a hand ball on Rooney in another instance that wasn't called so it evened out.

I'm not really talking about those calls. But he called some fouls that were rather unneccessary I feel.

As far as Arsenal goes, they lately have been unable to capitalize on anything they create. They have been playing lots of beautiful stuff this season and for the most part where in first place, but in the matches that it really counted(With the exception of AC Milan at San Siro), they didn't show the heart they needed to close things down. Which goes back to your point about them needing an ENFORCER so to speak. Like what Roberto Ayala was to Valencia, and Deco was to Barcelona. They need a leader for sure.

But as far as the season goes, I tipped Man United from the beginning to not just win the Premier League, but pull off the double in the Champions League as well. They have the right combination of skill and strength and its hard to find a team playing better winning football, as you also pointed out. In fact, I can honestly say that at the moment, NOBODY is playing more effectively than Man United and only a serious slip in form would cause them to lose the Champions League now.
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QUOTE(PR316 @ Apr 14 2008, 02:18 PM) [snapback]386181[/snapback]
In fact, I can honestly say that at the moment, NOBODY is playing more effectively than Man United and only a serious slip in form would cause them to lose the Champions League now.

I don't know about that. Barca, on their day and firing, can beat anybody, even without a slip of form.

Messi alone, like Ronaldo, has the capability to alter an entire outcome of a game.

If Barca can rediscover at least some form this weekend (comes down to Rijkaard playing a good line-up), where I expect Messi to start and hopefully the other players get put in their correct positions, then if they can take that into the CL, I see a very evently matched game!
Barca on their day can beat ANYBODY. What I meant was with Man United as far their effectiveness in BOTH their domestic league and Europe, they're the only ones firing on all cylinders now. That COULD conceivably change. And I would LOVE for Barca to get at least to finals of this tournament and have a shot at some silverware this season. They deserve something after all they've gone through this year. Who knows, it might even convince Ronnie to stay in Barcelona.

In terms of pure talent alone, I would Barca edges it. Their problem has been lack of flow especially as of late. Their attack is rather dull for the majority of a match with flashes of brilliance here and there.

I think at the very least we can expect a very hungry Barcelona.
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Yeh, we can definately expect a hungry and attacking Barca!

Lately though, even Edmilson and Gudjohnson have been playing, WTF! It is really quiet a joke.

I think Ronnie is GONE. Apparently the San Siro is buzzing in expectation of him being introduced and he loves Milan! Whilst his brother I hear wants him to leave also (and his brother is probably the biggest influence in his life, besides being his agent). Too bad, I would have LOVED to see him in England, and it would have bought another dimension to English football!

Barcelona rely heavily on Messi and Ronaldinho. So as Ronnie will not be there, I have to give Man United the edge at the moment. If he was there, Messi on the right with Eto'o as the lone target man, Barca would be the force to be reckoned with it one was!

The most important thing here:
Im sad to say, those days are numbered by the looks of it. Could have and should have kept those 3 guys with all their will. All have years left in them also! One goes, it changes everything, as shown when Eto'o was out and Ronnie found it hard as nobody was running onto his killer through balls and as Eto'o is now looking far more ordinary since he cannot use his pace and just leave the defence in his dust as he runs onto those balls. Not to mention the chances Ronnie gave Messi by drawing the defence and switching it to him with those curling balls off his right foot so Messi could run into the box, take them down a free man, cut inside and have an easy strike. It is a really really sad time for Barcelona for me! Truly the end of something that could have been GREAT, if only a good coach was at the healm! Now, its shattered and Ronnie leaving will mark the end of a potential brilliant era for the Catalan giants!

On another quick note, Inter are also after Ronaldinho. Milan are after Berbatov and Schevchenko from what I read. And Chelsea drew!! YEH!
It seems Villa is interested in Arsenal. I don't know how true this article is(The Sun), but I will say that if he were indeed to leave Valencia at the end of the season, then there is no other club I'd rather see him at then Arsenal. Here's the article.

Villa: I'd sign for the Gunners

DAVID VILLA is ready to snub Chelsea and move to Arsenal.

The 20million-rated Valencia striker, 26, shot to the top of Avram Grants summer hitlist after netting 63 goals over the last three seasons.

Chelsea chief Grant is thought to have made contact over a move.

But Villa insists he would rather be a Gunner.

Villa said: I watch the Premier League a lot and the team Im most attracted to is definitely Arsenal.

Their brilliant one and two-touch football and the whole style of rapid counter-attack which dominates the top level of the Premier League now is the one which suits my game best of all.

I think Im made to succeed in England but of course its one thing saying it and quite another getting there and then doing it.

The Valencia president always told me he wouldnt sell me until summer 2008. If an offer comes in Im hungry to test myself in England.

If Villa cannot agree a deal with Arsenal, his next option would be to join fellow Spain international Fernando Torres at Liverpool.

He added: Its great playing alongside Fernando. We understand each other totally and we get on brilliantly off the park.

I don't know what to make of this honestly because the stories have just been non-stop this year about Villa. He's been supposedly "signed for next season" by the likes of AC Milan, Liverpool, Chelsea, and now Arsenal. Won't be long before Man United is "after him".

I hope he stays put at Valencia honestly. I know its a HORRIBLE season, and not even a Cup win will excuse it. But I have faith that the board will do the right thing and axe Koeman at the end of the season and overhaul the team into a contender again. We still have a shot at a UEFA Cup spot and thats better than nothing. Of course avoiding relegation is more important to me. But it would be nice to have both a place in La Liga, and a ticket to Europe, and with a little faith,. I think things can turn around and we can be a top 4 club again.

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Yeh, transfer rumours are rife at the moment, this is sure to be a HUGE transfer season as was last season (which set a record I beleive?).

Villa would suit Arsenal perfectly! Even Man United should be after him, suits their style of play! Would match up alongside Torres beautifully for England also and you can never rule out AC Milan with their moneybags full of cash and desperate times!

Chelsea, fukc Chelsea!

Can't they make do with Drogba, Kalou and Anelka? Man, this team truly wants to buy their way to another title!
If by some sort of miracle Chelsea were to win the league this season it would be an absolutely terrible advert for the Premier league. I watched some of their game with Wigan the other night and their football is diabolical. They literally bore teams to sleep. The atmosphere at the game was also appalling.

Funny thing is Barca would far rather be playing us as opposed to Chelsea because if they had to play Chelsea it just wouldn't suit them. At least we play open attacking football which can leave us vulnerable to the style of football Barca play. I'm really disappointed that this couldn't be the final. It's the pick of all the games and will produce the best entertainment by far.

I'd also like Arsenal to sign Villa. The best players coming to the Premier league only makes it more exciting and he would do fantastically over here. I saw Chelsea are after Sergio Aguero....a player like him would be wasted at a club like that unless they get rid of Grant and appoint a manager who plays attacking football.
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Funny thing is, Grant is bent on playing attacking football from what I hear, guess its hard when you have robotic midfielders. Though, he does have the talent to play an attacking lineup!

Barca have played Chelsea over 6 legs recently, Chelsea having the slight upper hand, but I must admit, it was very close and could easily have gone the other way. They have knocked eachother out of the CL once a peice, and Chelsea got some extreme good fortune to win the group stage last year. I think the pace of Man United will worry Barca, it would be a good idea to play Tevez also who runs at defenders and has some ok pace.

It would have been good if it was a final, but I would rather see 180 minutes of football, especially Barca in Old Trafford and United in Camp Nou! Its going to be dazzling!!!!! I am just so disappointed Ronnie could not partake in such a classic matchup! This could have been and still could be, one for the ages!
Villa would be a hit at Arsenal. I have very little doubt about that. He would add another dimension to the team and would a HUGE difference maker, especially when he would have both Fabregas and Rosicky to thread him those smooth killer passes, and Adebayor and Helb(If he doesn't leave that is) to link up in the box with, along with Robin Van Persie(If he can stay healthy that is). Would be a huge boost to English football as well because he's a warrior. Very much like Rooney in that he likes the physical play and runs his heart out on there, but a tad more gifted than Rooney. I think the people in England would love to watch him play.

It was the same problem Mourinho had. This season in order to please the fans and the higher ups, he did attempt to play attacking football but the players he has on that squad just aren't born for that. They're very strong physical players, and possess great technique. But are slow and robotic like ATN said and can't keep pace with the quicker more skilled teams so they have to do what they have to do to win. It doesn't surprise me that people remember Mourinho for that because when he had Porto in Portugal's Super Liga especially the years that he won the UEFA Cup and the Champions League. People often forget that Mourinho was playing attacking football there and he was doing it with great defense as well. Its THAT VERY REASON right there that I think he would do WONDERS with Barcelona.

I still have hopes that Ronnie is not sent off to Milan. I mean if he wants to leave, then so be it. But I just wish that this situation would work itself out and he could get back out there for them. Catalans that I know tell me their biggest problem with Ronaldinho this and last season has been his "questionable commitment to the cause." They accuse Ronnie of not playing like a warrior and not working his ass off in training to be at his best again. Stories I here of Ronnie half assing it in training, and always wanting to leave early, along with what they tell me about his "out of control nightlife." I don't like to speculate I only call what I see. And before Ronnie went down with his latest injury, I thought that he was slowly but surely getting back to the player that he could be. He had bad luck this season. I'm not so sure I believe all the stories of his success "going to his head," and his supposed "lack of desire." I honestly think what has caused a big part of this is the MEDIA.. Fans and PROFESSIONALS alike have gotten suckered into it and thus the increase in disharmony and tension. The way they have twisted and turned this into a soap opera at Barca made things the way they are. Very sad to happen to such a proud club with great achievments.

That said, finally a bit of ALEVE... Valencia are the 2008 Copa del Rey champions and have earned their ticket into a UEFA Cup spot. Now we have to concentrate on La Liga and avoid relegation. Technically 1 more W should do it but you never know. Spanish football has been unpredictable this year and I truly hope it gets back to being the great league that it was last season and before.
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Yeh, Ive heard the same things about Ronnie, but to tell you the truth, his performance on the pitch at the start of this season was better than even last season (when he was one of the top scorers and assists in all of La Liga). That is an achievement in itself, not to mention he kept Barca in the CL and at the TOP of La Liga. Something they cannot do this season with everyone else at their disposal.

This season, he looked faster, provided some great linkup balls and is one of their top scorers despite only playing a handful of games LOL! He also looked fit and was running his azz off tirelessly all game long! No doubt for me, actions speak louder than words and on the pitch, he was still one of the best in the world. Even if by statistics alone. The biggest thing for me is it's sad he and Eto'o will be broken up, both compliment eachother perfectly. Milan fans should be DAMN happy, he will come a LOT cheaper than just a season ago, and they are going to get many goals and assists out of him, no doubt! They just need to buy a striker with great runs and pace now and they will probably win the league!

Good work on Valencia! They deserved something after taking Barca out in the Copa! Man, weird as this sounds because I NEVER dream about soccer, but last night I had two dreams, one was the first match between Barca and Man United was played in Old Trafford and Barca won 9-3.......WTF! And second was Ronaldinho was signed unexpectedly by Arsenal! ha ha. Maybe more what I want to happen processing subconciously into a dream!
I now see Chelsea want to sign Aguero, Messi and Kaka!!

Oh man, it makes me laugh...I mean Aguero might fancy it but surely players of the standing of Kaka and Messi wouldn't want to go there? Chelsea aren't a BIG club. They are a very rich club but no way are they BIG in historical terms so unless players are only interested in money, why on earth would they want to play for them? Especially if Avram Grant stays in charge.

According to a source in Spain, Ronaldinho's brother has been trying to get him a move away from Barcelona for the last two years but the player himself wasn't interested in leaving until recently. His lifestyle has been slated over here but I suppose the journalists are just going on what they've heard coming out of Spain about his poor attitude and dip in form. He'd be a fool to go to Italy but I doubt the big clubs over here would want him. Wenger wouldn't take him, Benitez might be interested and Ramos might want to take him to Spurs but they can't offer champions league football so that's a no no.

Can't wait for the Barca game, I'm buzzing about it. Hope the two legs are as entertaining as they were in 99!!
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ha ha yeh, Chelsea are obviously just trying to land a big name! No way they would get Messi at least!

Chelsea did have a doco made about them as a "King of Clubs" along with only the other prestigeous clubs. So they are being recognised now. I am sure most players would want to play for them, they are in for a chance of silverware most seasons! And it's evident how much power they command by the names they bring in. Guys like Schevchenko and Ballack were HUGE signings!

I would think Benitez would be happy with Ronnie, god knows he needs a player like that on his team!

As for Wenger, he is always after quick, technically gifted players (Im sure Ronnie more than fits that boat). Better technically than anyone on his squad. I think it's more that he would not fork out the cash. Man United are already a big enough squad. Chelsea could really use his creativity. But Ronnie has no interest in England. He likes his woman too much and no offence to English woman, but they don't really cut it from what I have seen (in general). Looks like Milan is the place. Either way, means I won't be watching him anymore!
I'd be really disappointed if this transfer to AC Milan does indeed go through for Ronnie. If not in Spain, I'd rather see him in England. I just think that a great talent like him needs to be given the opportunity to show what he could do on such a stage. Arsenal would be a good fit for him but Wenger really has shown reluctancy in making the big moves. Arsenal fans are currently buzzing about the possibility of getting Villa and they want him BADLY, and are hoping Wenger makes what would be an uncharacteristic move.

Ronnie for some reason loves Milan. I would guess because he has his buddies Kaka, Emerson, Cafu, Digao, Pato, and Ronaldo over there. And in the slow paced Serie A, he'll be able to run wild like never before. I just feel that it is such a LET DOWN for Ronaldinho to leave Barcelona for AC Milan. To me its a step backwards, no matter how much money the club has. Milan are in a rebuilding mode now and its probable that Ancelotti is gonna be fired. The squad is old and needs revamping. Inzaghi is old and injury prone, Ronaldo sad for us all to say is probably finished and few are sadder than me about it. Seedorf is 32 now and probably on the way out. Pirlo and Gattusso look slower and slower everytime I see them and are getting up there in age as well. Emerson is also up getting up there. Cafu is also old and injury prone, hardly playing anymore and Maldini is old also and can't be expected to be on top of his game forever. I just feel that its a bad move. I really hope that Ronnie is not doing this just because he's in a hurry to get out of Barca and just be with his friends. Milan fans that I talk to have told me that they are not expecting much from the team within the next 2 years, unless some MAJOR SHAKEUPS happen like now. They also need to start giving their young talents a chance now. They have some good young talent in Digao, Gilardino, Gourcoff, Pato, Caraglia, and Bonera. These are all guys that should be stepping now and getting their opportunities but Milan is a club with lots of politics and at Valencia we are all too familiar with guys using politics to hold on to their positions, and lets not forget that Raul despite doing shit for about 4 years straight at Real Madrid still got a new contract and manages to hold a starting position over a young striker like Saviola(WTF). Milan basically need a coaching change along with a healthy injection of YOUTH. Its time to get these older guys out and start building a young team for the future.

Valencia need to complete step 2 now and thats hold on to their position in La Liga and avoid relegation at all costs. This still won't save Koeman's job. Too much controversy has occured and the players need a feel of NORMALCY and tranquility at the club. There is great young talent here combined with some world class experience. We need another competent CB even though Alexis has been showing himself have that potential we thought he did to partner with Albiol. Albelda and Canizares are gone and thats probably for the best. Angulo is up there, but I don't mind him because he's versatile and a hard worker. We have lots of youth in Banega, Silva, Mata, Sunny, Albiol, and Alexis. There is a solid foundation there for the future and if the club is by some chance able to bring in a player like Van Der Vaart along with a new coach, then we can be a top 4 club again next season. Lets just hope that we keep our team together.

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Well I was just listening to a well respected man in Barca who supposedly (and I beleive he does), knows LaPorta, Rijkaard and is very close to the Barca situation (including the dressing room).

Here is what he said:

The factions in the dressing room (between Eto'o and Ronaldinho) were all true. Both were trying to lead the squad and wanted the alpha role. Both had their seperate followings in the dressing room, however Ronaldinhos was favoured and he was being treated much better.

Henry came in and he and Ronaldinho clashed straight away. Henry wanted the Barcelona team to play to suit him (apparently Abidal and Thuram agreed with Henry). However, apparently the Barcelona squad played for Ronaldinho and still wanted to play for Ronaldinho.

Ronaldinho and Deco claim they were playing injured for much of last season and did not get the credit for playing and putting their reputations on the line, despite not feeling in good condition. Both carried injuries throughout last season.

So this season, they started only playing when they felt ok (and refused to play when injured). This caused the drama and so they said if they did not get credit for playing injured and training hard last season, then they are not going to play at 50% this season and take criticism for being injured again. It was about their reputations and efforts.

LaPorta wants Ronaldinho, Deco AND (surprised with this one), Henry gone! (Zambrotta is making way for Alvez but not on a bad note). As all are creating waring factions in the dressing room and on the field and are not doing the youth much good. He wants Messi, Iniesta, Bojan and Dos Santos (surprised with this one also), to now move into a staring role and lead the team.

Rijkaard is sick of the mess and is leaving at the end of the season on his own will, he is not being fired (apparently he has some offers from some other big clubs, including Milan). Not sure how that would go down if Ronaldinho is there, lol.

So take at that, but sounds very realistic to me. Just a very very bad situation and is exactly what we said at the start PR! A team cannot function with too many superstars! Guys like Eto'o, Ronaldinho and Henry want all the plaudits and this was not going to happen! Not to mention, Henry and Ronaldinho like to be the go to man, and there was not room for both of them.

Rijkaard played in one of the best sides I have ever seen at Milan. I remember them destroying Barcelona in 94 (I think) in the Champions League final 4-0. Even if he wasn't present in that side he was still a Milan legend. definitely part of the Milan team that went unbeaten for 50 odd games so they would welcome him but they would expect him to get the best from Ronaldinho also, should he too go there, which seems to be a done deal according to most reports.

Anyway, crucial point from our perspective on Saturday. It's always tough at Blackburn because they are a very physical side but I think we were worthy of the point and it gives us that little bit of leeway in the title race. A win at Chelsea seals the deal, a draw means we only need to win one of our remaining two games and a defeat would still leave the title race in our own hands because of our superior goal difference.

I'm gonna be so nervous on Wednesday night. I just hope we play to our best because if we do I feel we will beat Barca or at least get a good enough result to take it back to Old Trafford and finish them off. Injury doubts to Rooney and Van Der Sar are a big concern though. We need them both to play or I fear the worst.
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Yes, but Koeman was also a fantastic player, not the best coach though. Talking of Milan, the questions are well and truly on top of Van Bastens head too!

I think a lot of great players, make poor coaches (with some exceptions).

Ferguson and Wenger are the best pure coaches in the world in a long time IMO, and neither was a top footballer.

Yeh, poor result for United I thought, but will make the Chelsea game edge of your seat type of stuff! Man United should not loose from here however, they are well and truly in the driving seat! Two vital away games for them though, if they win both, they will take the Premiership and be in the CL final! Vital week for them.

Barca are going to be hard to topple at Camp Nou no matter how they are playing. I think a draw would be a good result for United. Messi is sure to start IMO, but with Rijkaard at the healm, nothing would surprise me and if Messi is on the bench, its goodnight Barca! I also hear rumours that Deco may be bought back just for these semi finals! God I hope he is! Game time or not, I still have faith in the little man, Riquelme did not need game time and was still instrumental for Argentina!

It is going to be a truly great game either way. I just hope Barca keep hold of the ball and possession and move it around as they generally do! Though, the last several weeks they cannot even keep possession!

As long as one team wins this semi fair and square! I hope it does not come down to a bad call!!!!!!!

On recent news, PR, KOEMAN HAS BEEN SACKED!!!!!!!!!!!!! Valencia now only 2 points above relegation, it is truly turning into a nightmare!!!!!

As for Barca, Eto'o came out and said if they fail to win anything next season, he is quitting Barca!! Its funny, there was an article the other day stating that without Ronnie and trophies, there will be a mass exodus at Barca! Serves them right the unloyal pri*ks!!!!! I hate to love such a horrible club!
Hopefully its not too little too late. Marcelino Garcia Toral(Current Racing Santander coach and former Sporting Gijon manager) is apparentley signed for next season for Valencia, whom DESPERATELY need to beat Osasuna at home now.

I'm holding my breath now.

Talk about crisis, what is up with Barca???... Things were so promising for them at the beginning of the season.
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lol, I can hear the horse in the paddock in terror from being beat...........hang on, it just stopped!!!! Now I can only hear the beating!

Sure does sound like we are beating a dead horse! Which we are, but until Rijkaard is gone and a decent formation can be made, that horse needs it!
I think Ronaldinho's best days may have been and gone unless he rediscovers the hunger that made him the player he once was. In the 2006 world cup the stage was set for him to really lay down his marker as the worlds best player and help Brazil to win yet another trophy but it just didn't happen for him. I'm not knocking him, I know he was a brilliant player but he isn't up there with the best two to ever grace the game, Pele and Maradona.

Speaking of which, Pele has again slagged off Maradona claiming he should have his medals taken away from him because of his drug addiction and also suggesting that Maradona was overrated! Why does he persist in bitching about Diego? They are the best two players to ever grace the game and it's difficult to separate them, although my personal choice would be Maradona. Romario hit the nail on the head when he said of Pele, "If he kept his mouth shut he'd be a great poet!" I mean, surely Pele isn't jealous of Maradona? I've probably asked this before but who do you think was the greatest player of all time?

I know one thing, nobody compares to either of them in todays era.

Is Rijkaard entirely to blame for Barca's poor season? Yeah, the buck stops with the manager but if Ronaldinho has shown a lapse attitude, however good he was/is, he doesn't deserve to play. Alex Ferguson wouldn't play anybody who slacked off and showed unprofessionalism and his record is second to none, domestically at least.

Speaking of great players who became great managers it's hard to find many. Ferguson was a much better player than Wenger, and a better manager but he wasn't by any means great. Johan Cryuff was a very good manager and a great player...then I struggle to think off the top of my head. I've got high hopes for Roy Keane who was managed by two of the greatest in Ferguson and Clough...if he can be half as good as those two he really will be a great manager.

So who was the games greatest player and who was/is the games greatest manager?

The problem with Barcelona is that they're a club with alot of politics. Starting from Laporta himself, on down to the team. To me, the team is a product of what type of manager it has. Frank Rijkaard is just too much of a push over. HE DOESN'T DO ANYTHING!!!... All Barcelona fans are sick of him and want him gone. The root of Barcelona's problem is the big problems that Rijkaard has with Deco and Ronaldinho. There are ALOT OF EGOS at Barcelona. Too many people want to be the big star. Very similar to Real Madrid 2 to 3 seasons ago when they had their Galacticos era going. I think its a very similar situation to what Albelda, Canizares and Angulo dealt with this season at Valencia with Koeman, being that Rijkaard has just totally DISCARDED Ronaldinho. Word is that Rijkaard and Laporta have a big political stand off with Ronnie and Deco and thats the REAL REASON as to why both have not only not featured often in 1st team plans, but will be likely off loaded.

Like ATN mentioned, there does appear to be FACTIONS in that locker room.

Both you guys know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen, right??... Thats what I think is going on. Ronnie's unprofessionalism(If thats what we want to call it) is his way of telling Rijkaard "Fuk you, I won't play for you."

The media deserves lots of blame for this too because they constantly jumped on this.

As far as whom the best player of all time is??... My say is Diego Armando Maradona but its debatable.

Before I consider a player great, I look for him to prove himself on ALL LEVELS... Domestic league, Champions League, and International level. To me, its key for a player to be able to perform well on all 3 of those levels.

I think one of our last ALL TIMERS would be Ronaldo. Injuries TRULY robbed him. And even at that, he still scored memorable goals in all competitions and always seemed to maintain his high level of performance.

I can't forget Zidane either. Just a truly special player.

We have LOTS of guys who may or may not be up their with those counterparts.

You have to not only be able to do it on all levels(All competitions), but for a certain amount of time.
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Yeh, it is the politics at these clubs. The other thing why I purely blame Rijkaard, is the formations. Last time I checked, Ronaldinho and Messi were not centre forwards and Eto'o and Henry were not wingers. Puyol was also not a right wing back.

Hang on, let's see how the fans react when Ferguson plays Ronaldo and Giggs as target strikers and Rooney and Tevez on the wings, while Ferdinand can be a right wing back. There would be uproar! I have no idea how Rijkaard has even kept his job up until this stage.

No doubt the media has a HUGE blame in this. Ronnie may not be at his TOP, but to still be one of the top scorers in Spain, with one of the highest assist records, not to mention the space he created for guys like Messi and Eto'o, it shocks me how he is a man so out of form? He links up play, he scores, he sets them up, the best player bar none overall on the Barca squad. (Messi is still a bit of a hog and does not really help out the guys around him). Out of form or not, he is one of the most dangerous men in the game.

As for the Brazil performance, lets play Ronaldo in Decos role for Portugal as a distributor and back where a holding mid plays and see how many he scores or sets up. The spin put against Ronaldinho has been completely unjustified and I am yet to see someone tell me how he has been so "out of form"? It is complete rubbish IMHO.

Best player ever, I cannot comment on Pele, I have not seen enough of him over entire games. From what I saw though, Maradona was just as good, if not better.

Other greats, like PR I think Ronaldo could have been up there with them bar injury (but hey, there are probably many precocious talents out there who never make it all the way due to injury). I would also have to place Zizou right up there with them, he accomplished absolutely everything at both the individual, club and national level.

Best of this era so far, Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo, but both have to play at the top level for some years yet and win more trophies. Especially Cristiano, but time is on his side. Will be interesting to see if he can steer Portugal to some glory, the way Zidane did for France.

Sure there are many others Cryuff, Van Basten and one I loved, Zico!!!!!! So hard to rate best ever, especially considering I have not seen as much of some of these older guys. I would also throw Henry out there.

Then you have the most complete player of all-time (like Zidane IMO) Alfredo Di Stefano!

Oh and how about Riise! Poor guy. Liverpool thoroughly deserved the win, though I do not care who makes the final, perhaps slightly favour Liverpool, only for my hate of Drogba!

Best manager, on lots of reflection, I would have to go with Alex Ferguson. The man has accomplished so so much, though would be good to see him add another CL title to his cabinet, this is the one area he has lacked.
Well the result wasn't terrible but the performance left me baffled. I don't understand why we played the way we did. For me it was like watching an Italian team play an away leg in Europe rather than us. I suppose Ferguson felt it best to take the tie back to Old Trafford where we can express ourselves more but I think it's a risky tactic.

Why did Ronaldo take his penalty like he did? He never hits them like that usually? Oh and Marquez should have gone because he blatantly brought Ronaldo down later in the half with no attempt to play the ball whatsoever. Full credit to Samuel Eto who stayed on his feet when Ferdinand slipped into hm in the box. Eto could have gone down for a penalty and Ferdinand might even have seen red. Refreshing to see honesty still exists in football!

Barcelona had mad possession last night but they never really threatened to score. Yes, they had a lot of shots on target but Van Der Sar dealt with them all comfortably. 0-0 wasn't good enough for us a few years back when we played Madrid and it wasn't good enough when we played Monaco before that so I'm not confident. It only takes one moment of magic, one mistake, one deflection and we will need to score 2 to go through. It's risky business.

ATN, I don't know what you thought of the result but you must have been pleased with the way Barca played even though I have to say we let them play that way by continously sitting back every time you had the ball....and you had it a damn lot. In fact the vast majority of the game was played in our half.

Saturday we must get a draw at least with Chelsea but I have a feeling we will rest players for the return leg with Barca and it could all go disastrously wrong on both counts. I hate this stage of the season as much as I love it.

It's not good for my health!


Barcelona were the better side overall due to them dictating all the plays pretty much and making some dangerous runs.

Agree with you 100% Maxy. I expected better from United honestly. I understand that at Camp Nou, the pitch is SO BIG that its too risky to go out and leave openings against Barcelona.

Oh and Eto'o HARDLY EVER DIVES... There is some honesty in football still, and I'm glad you pointed that out Maxy. Ferdidnand did a VERY GOOD JOB in containing Eto'o, and I thought that Barca did have some threatening moments, particularly with Messi but no end product.

The match at Old Trafford will be MUCH BETTER. Both teams will lay it all on the line.
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Yeh, I was very pleased with the line-up actually (though Puyol should have been there instead of Marquez who is a bum, but Puyol is back from suspension for the rematch and Marquez is suspended, so I will not have to put up with watching him), and the way they played. Iniesta was very quiet indeed, I thought he would create more problems down the left.

0-0 is a decent result for both sides. We just need a goal now and some decent defence to get a 1-1 draw. But you guys are at home, so ok for both.

I thought before the match, when Ronaldo was looking up into the stands, he knew it was a big occassion. I think he chocked on the penalty. I have never seen Ronaldo look so overwhelmed. Camp Nou has a funny way of doing that for visiting teams, it is a fortress!

Manchester played a disappointing style, but to be fair to Barca, they dominated possession and forced errors most of the time Manchester got the ball. But you guys were definately going for the counter attacking style, not quiet like Italian football who defend like that but attack with a lot more patient buildup. A bit of dirty tactics from both teams I thought.

Barca had a few chances, they just didn't execute their cut backs well and therefore never really troubled Van Der Sar who always looks as safe as houses anyways. I was also disappointed to see Messi go off so early. I think its a 50/50 for both. Best move of the match was the shot Eto'o blasted into the side netting.

Fantastic to see the teams meet, you can tell everyone watching and involved in the match knows they are watching something special. Barca was the measuring stick of global football for years and are trying to reclaim it, while Manchester currently holds that position I beleive.

One thing I am sad to say, is this matchup could determine world player of the year when December rolls around and Messi made Ronaldo look ordinary. Like Kaka did in the semi final last year. Which would be really unfair, because Ronaldo has no doubt been the far superior footballer this season. Definately the two future players in the game though. If only Messi can remain healthy (which looks highly unlikely).

Oh and Ferdinand, what a player! Even without Vidic he is holding the backline together! The man should win the world player of the year himself!!!!!

On another note I just saw Manchester City are after Jo from CSKA for 20mil. And I can say, it is worth every penny! He is a very very talented young player! He could be a real force in the Premier League much as I expect Alvez to be for Middlesborough.
Team selection - GUTTED
Vidic injury - GUTTED
Performance - GUTTED
Penalty - GUTTED
Result - GUTTED

Fuckin' GUTTED!!!
Well a good result in the post Ronald Koeman area. Yes it was Osasuna and it was at Mestalla, with Osasuna down a man. But nonetheless, they needed this win badly. Now there is some comfortable room between Valencia and the relegation zone.

All of the boys played well. Villa scored a penalty, and assisted Valencia's 2 other goals to Mata and Joaquin. Silva was class. Vicente fit as a fiddle looked lively with some nice runs and dangerous looking crosses. Joaquin scored a nice goal, and made some dangerous moves and runs. The defense was solid and thus Canizares was hardly tested. Just what the doctor ordered for the team.

Now onward to Camp Nou next week where we will play a tightly wound Barcelona where emotions will surely be running high. Barca will be looking for revenge after the Cup loss, and if they lose at Old Trafford on Tuesday, they'll be even more angry and looking to take a positive result against us. Valencia almost always play well against Barcelona due to their sneaky quick counter attacking style and Barca's rather slow defense. I'm really looking forward to this game. I think we can get a point out of it if not a win. But its gonna be hell.
Weird stuff on Ronaldo.

Anyway, hard earned win for Man United who were just a little better, especially in defense. I was disappointed that we didn't get the shootout that most expected between these two VERY LOADED teams. I definitely expected more goals in this series but we got some interesting and at times exciting tactical football.

My guess is that they will play Chelsea in the final now. Unbelievable that both the Premier League and European titles are being contested by the same 2 teams. This is definitely history.

Well I'm glad the season is almost over. What a disaster it has been for Valencia. Barcelona fans consider their season a disaster but I'd rather be in their position at the moment any day. Transfer rumors have been intensifying. Especially in Spain.

Looks like Barcelona and AC Milan have a hit a bit of a roadblock in the negotiations for Ronaldinho. Apparentley, Laporta wants 40 plus million Euros for Ronnie and are not budging, with AC Milan declaring they wont pay more than 15 million euros. WOW.... Both clubs are 30 million euros apart and its just become a big hassle now. Rijkaard has come out and stated that he believes Ronaldinho has played his last game for Barcelona and Laporta has come out saying that if Milan don't agree to their demands, they will begin negotiations with Chelsea and Manchester City, with Ronnie "supposedly" having said that he wants to be on a team where HE is the star. I personally don't know if Ronnie would want to go to England. For one, he loves his Spanish and Italian women too much, plus the Premier League is such a physical competition and we all know about Ronnie's injuries this season. A very complicated situation it appears to be. I think Ronnie wants Milan. Nowhere else. I think he'd be comfortabel at Milan. The club is not doing well in terms of their league campaign but who knows what'll happen when they get a new coach.

Word is back and forth on David Villa. He has been linked with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham this season. All talk and speculation though. Word is that Valencia have major financial problems and may be fored to sell both Joaquin and Villa. For the moment, Valencia is out of the relegation zone and will play UEFA Cup football next season. Tottenham can guarantee him more money, but Villa will not win any trophies there. It would be a step backwards honestly. I mean can we honestly expect Spurs to break the top 4 in England anytime soon??... Chelsea may be the favorites to land Villa, especially if Drogba leaves, but they are also targetting Kun Aguero. Arsenal have loads of strikers and though they could use Villa, I question whether or not Wenger would be keen on making such a big move. Its just so uncharacteristic of him. This is a horrible situation that is really tearing down the club. Even if Valencia get 40 million out of Villa, all that money is likely to go to the new stadium or something. It won't be replaced. This team is not even playing Champions League football next season. I don't know what to think anymore. I'm starting to care less. If Villa ends up at either Chelsea or Arsenal, then I'll be happy for him. He's guaranteed top flight football at either club with legitimate chances at winning trophies, which is what he really wants. I will cry however, if he goes to Spurs.

Chelsea appear to be favorites to also possibly sign Rafael Van Der Vaart. All just speculation but worth pointing out as well. I think his creative spark would do wonders for them.
United finally got past there bogey team which was a relief. Ronaldo scored twice again and his first goal was nice. Tevez then scored something even nicer. I thought Tevez played well throughout the game. He just worked hard for the entire game and never stopped running. I suppose he is trying to prove himself for the 2 huge games United have left, especially the Champions League final.
Also, what the fuck was Nani thinking? I don't understand why he would put his side in a situation that may have been trouble when they had everything under control. That was pretty stupid. It was the first half and they were up 3-0, why would he headbutt Neill? Pretty selfish and I don't think Ferguson wouldn't have been happy.
Nani was stupid and he would have got severely bollocked for that.

Was relieved to get the win and the early goals made the game enjoyable to watch after all the stress filled matches of late. A win at Wigan is all we need now and I'm confident that we will do it to retain the title.

The Barca game aged me 10 years laugh.gif it was a nightmare to watch the last 15 minutes when all I kept thinking was one mistake and we are out! Henry should have scored, Messi outshone Ronaldo in both legs but his finishing doesn't compare to Cristiano's. Tevez was awesome both on Tuesday and yesterday and deserves his place in the team for the final.

Why the fuck the final hasn't been moved I don't know. Moscow for two English sides? It's daft but sod it, we'll beat Chelsea and leave them empty handed for the season!
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What a horrible season, but calming in the fact that this should spell the END of Rijkaard!

As for the match, oh man, Scholes, what a shot! But he nearly took Messi out inside the box, so so close! There also looked to be a hand ball in the box when Messi was attacking.

I think we missed Ronnie immensly in the two legs, with the penalties in his range over both legs, he would have SURELY banged the back of the net with his hit rate on them!

Barca clearly showed the superior touch and technical ability as I expected them too, but United defence was just too resolute and as always lately, they are getting the job done, which is the most important thing bar none! Eto'o disappeared as I expected him too without Ronnie to feed him.

Messi again put on a fantastic individual performance, but could not make anything happen. His touch is just from another planet! Made Ronaldo look ordinary once again, but Ronaldo is far more consistent and like you say Maxy, a much better finisher! He shots on sight like a natural striker, and he shoots with both feet! Messi seriously lacks a right foot!

WTF was Ferguson thinking in the Chelsea match, shows how much he wants the CL IMO. United looked HORRIBLE and can thank Van Der Sar it was not even wider. Chelsea thoroughly deserved the win, but United are going to cruise home now. Even easier considering Wigan is pretty safe after their Villa game so will not be fighting as hard.

Good work for Valencia PR, excellent win for them!

Just saw Valencia V Barcelona, damn, Valencia with all their talent, looked way out of their depth. Such a strange situation, I thought their team on paper looked pretty damn impressive, lots of talent, but just nothing at all to back it on the field. 6-0 in a one sided game (despite a bad offside goal for Barca). Must say, I am loving the way Barca are looking with Deco back, he is showing why Barca were such a cohesive unit when he is on the field. Makes Toure, Xavi, Iniesta all look ordinary in that midfield role! Given, Iniesta is more of an attacker than Deco!

Looks like we are going to have to qualify for the CL next season, what a joke, cannot even beat Villareal! Sevilla probably won't even make the CL next season and Valencia could be relegated. WTF has happened to Spanish football! Might be an English domination for quiet some time, with Italian football looking even worse!

Though Madrid do have some great quality on their side now, Milan are looking to rebuild and I have faith Barca will always do well in the CL, no doubt about it, Messi and Bojan are their future. Both look incredibly promising! Infact, I would say, as of late, Bojan is looking better than both Henry and Eto'o, JUST. Will be good to see Bayern Munich in the CL next season also, who look ferocious! Some immense talent on their squad and a shame they were not in the hunt this year!

Congrats Maxy and Fitz, you guys deserve the double this season! I will be cheering for you all the way, infact I am watching Chelsea tonight just to hope they loose!

As for Ronnie PR, I am still holding hope he will stay and Rijkaard go! I hear LaPorta is a hated man also by the fans, saw some bad signs abusing him at the ground! But I think one of the Milans or Chelsea will bag him! I also hear Flamini is pretty much officially a Milan player now, so Arsenal are going to need another mid. Looks like Silva may have his lucky day coming and I think he fits well into their midfield anyways. No idea why Milan want Flamini, they need GOALS and attack, no more workmen!
The Ronaldinho deal to AC Milan seems to have hit a snag. Apparentley both clubs are WAY OFF BASE in working out a transfer fee. Laporta is demanding 40 MILLION EUROS for Ronnie and Milan is only willing to pay half that. A big problem.... However, the club is apparentley waiting for offers from Manchester City and possibly Chelsea. I honestly think its very possible that Ronnie is stuck at Barca. Unless he's willing to move to a lower level club or something, he may have to stay at Barca.

Villa appears set to leave Valencia soon. Real Madrid and Barcelona are the 2 front runners right now. The club is also waiting for the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, and possibly Arsenal to make bids as well. I really doubt that Soler would sell to either Real or Barca UNLESS the offer is something out of this world. If its something like 40 million, then I think that would be enough. However..... The problem is that Villa wants Arsenal. Arsene Wenger was recently quoted as saying that "Villa is a tall order". Basically typical Wenger being the cheap skate he is. I honestly believe that if he offered 20 million that Valencia would ship Villa out. But in all likelyhood, Chelsea is going to get him. Tottenham have the money but they can't offer Champions League football even though many are expecting them to be good next season. This such an ugly situation. I really wish things were different. God, football is so sad!!.. cray.gif
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Yeh, I won't mind if Ronnie stays, Rijkaard will go and any coach would be stupid not to use Ronnie. Look what has happened to Barca this season without him!

As for the Real game, we lost 4-1!!! Once again, FUKCING RIJKAARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He played Messi as a target man and Dos Santos on the wing, WTF????????? He played Marquez, Sylvinho, Gudjohnsen and Edmilson! Leaving Iniesta, Deco, Eto'o out (oh actually I think a couple of those might have been suspended, but the likes of this has been going on all season even with a full squad)? Surely he cannot be THAT dumb when it comes to selection? I think the man might have a mental illness!!!!!!

This is just a fukcing disgrace!!

The only light I can take out of it is watching Messi in action. He nearly scored a couple after skinning a couple of Madrid defenders each time! THANK FUKCING GOD the season is nearly over! Watching Barca have to line up and clap the Madridistas into the Stadium in a guard of honour is a fukcing DISGRACE!!!!!!!!

My gutted feeling has long ago turned to resentment and anger at Rijkaard!!! If he played a decent squad this season, including Ronnie and Deco, this might and probably would be an entirely different story! The way Barca generate penalties with their edge of the box play and guys like Messi being taken down constantly, Ronnie would have bagged at least several goals with his whipping free kicks! Xavi just has no idea how to keep it below the bar and Messi is far from a great dead ball specialist!
On a more positive note Valencia has avoided relegation. Sigh of relief for sure.

But the future is as clouded as ever. UNCERTAINTY surrounds the club now. What will we do??... We barely avoided La Segunda this season and we may or may not have to see some great players go. Villa seems likely to go at the moment with the already mentioned possible destinations of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal, or Tottenham. Joaquin is being monitered by the likes of Everton, Chelsea, and Roma. Silva is rumored to be courted by both Barcelona and Inter with both clubs supposedly prepared to make some big bids for him.

Then our coaching situation. Marcelino broke agreement with Valencia after hearing from Soler that he was going to sell Villa and Silva and thus that was scratched. Emery is an uncertainty though he is a prospect. Valverde has probably gone as far as he could with Espanyol and if he wants to continue to grow as a coach, then Valencia is a good option but I don't know how he would like the politics that constantly surrounds the club.

I pray for the best, honestly. I'm really worried though relieved at the same time that the season is over. But things are not looking bright thats for sure.
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Yeh Congrats PR! You guys look very safe now! So do we thanks to the win last week, should definately keep the CL position but have to qualify next year. Battle between Sevilla and Atletico for 4th!

This transfer season will break all records I beleive. Quiet a few clubs having to rebuild. Should see Man United (other than perhaps another striker) and Real Madrid pretty quiet this summer though.

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Just as I sit feeling sorry for myself after this dismal season, I can at least bring back the glory for another 8:35 mins.

Here is the man who at the height of his power, bought not just success, but fantastic, attractive, flamboyant football to the Camp Nou. Relive the past as the future looks bleak!

Most of his moves and tricks in there!

Lest we forget!
My God, that pass at 4:00. Perfectly threaded down the middle.

Love his 2nd goal against Real Madrid where he basically ran through the entire defense.

Also the goal they didn't show was his bicycle kick against Atletico this season.

I think the main thing that we notice here was Ronalinho's speed. He was VERY FAST... I've always had hopes of him reaching that again someday.

Regardless if your a Barcelona fan or not, I think SPANISH FOOTBALL will miss him. He just brought so much to the game. Not just the flash and flamboyance. But he set such a standard of excellence in the league. He not only scored a high number of goals but a large number of assists as well, CONSISTENTLY. Before this season, it was almost unanimous that La Liga was better than the PL and if you look at the pure talent and the quality of the football for the past few seasons, I think Spanish football was better and Ronaldinho was such a huge part of it.

All I ask that if it is indeed the end of an era for Barca as well as La Liga, that Ronnie gets a good team. AC Milan is no doubt his preferred destination it seems. The EPL is such a tough league. Very fast and physical competition and if Ronnie could get back into shape, I think he could handle it. But the weather, atmosphere, culture, and football style may not appeal to Ronnie at this point in his career. I think back in the day, Ronnie would have relished a move to England but probably not now. If he was to do that, I think a season or 2 ago would have been the ideal time for him to test himself in England. He's still only 28 and theoretically(spelling?) should have a few more good seasons to give us. But in this game there's no telling. Attacking midfielders usually peak around 24-26, while strikers tend to peak around 27-29, so who really knows.

Ronnie has had problems with injuries the last 2 seasons, that much we know. A move to England could take its toll as well. Italy has a slower paced game so it could benefit him more than a move to England but again, its difficult to say. If the move to AC Milan happens, how well does Ronnie adapt to the team?...

PS- This Villa race appears to be getting more serious by the minute. Of course Real, Chelsea, Arsenal and others are monitoring that as well.

You guys are also after Huntelaar and Benzema as possible signings. Arsenal are also monitoring Benzema very closely with Huntelaar also being pursued by Real Madrid and possibly Man United.

Has Henry wore out his welcome already???...

Also it appears that Van Der Vaart is the preferred choice of Laporta to replace Ronaldinho. A big bid is expected to be made. And though this is unlikely, they say its possible that AC Milan would agree to a swap deal for Kaka to Barca and Ronnie to Milan. Manchester City are said to be preparing a 45 million bid for Ronaldinho and Laporta has not commented on that situation.

HUGE NEWS ATN!!!!!... Frank Rijkaard has been given his marching orders and will be replaced according to It is all but official and will be announced soon after the season over... Pep Guardiola will apparentley step in for him next season and most fans seem pleased.
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Just read the news that despite knowing it would be coming, still rings beautiful sounding bells in my ears!!!!!!!!! Not sure about Pep, but with the quality Barca has, it's just a matter of playing the correct team. I will give the man a chance. On that note, I find it staggering what Grant has finally done with Chelsea, they are actually playing quiet attractive football lately, a lot of one/two touch stuff and with great success. I tip Man United to win the Premier League, but I have a feeling Chelsea will get them in the CL final, especially on their current form!

I feel so so sorry for the poor team that gets him! If it is Milan, look for Pirlo and Kaka to be benched and end up leaving the club wink.gif

Villa looks certain to be gone from Valencia next season, I really hope he goes to Arsenal, would suit him down to a tee!!!

What I would like to see Barca get, is new centre backs!!!! It is absolutely vital! If Deco is to leave they need a distributor badly so Van Der Vart would be a good buy. But since they were so successful already, it is obvious how to correct the team. Play Valdez, Abidal, Puyol, Milito, Alvez (if he replaces Zambrotta), Deco, Xavi and either Iniesta or Toure, Ronaldinho, Messi and Eto'o. It is not hard to see when this line-up plays together, Barca really fires!

Kaka for Ronaldinho swap would be ok, he could play on the left so it would suit Barca. Ronaldinho would do excellent in England I beleive, he would find so many holes for his passing ability due to the open style and he is as strong as hell, he could handle the strength there with ease. It is also cleaner, so he would not be chopped down everytime he touched the ball like was happening to him in Spain. I think wherever he goes he will be successful, you cannot doubt his quality. Even if he puts on weight (though he is still in great shape) and looses speed with age, Ronaldinho will be like a fine wine as per Figo, his vision and passing will proove a nightmare for any team, even into his mid 30s!

To this day, like I stated earlier in the thread, I am yet to see someone with better vision and passing through the history of the game. He can make passes from any single angle due to his fantastic ball control and does not have to set himself to pass, he can hit them from any single spot, no matter where his feet are placed. They say his passing came about as when he was young, he was so skinny and would get pushed of the ball really easily, so he was always watching before he received the ball to know what was going on around him. You can see it if you pause just before he receives the ball, on many occassions, he will be turning his head looking what is happening all over the field beforehand.

Though, I really only hope he goes somewhere and stays injury free so I can appreciate the few years he has left! He was not only great for Spanish football, he was spectacular for the sport! Joga Bonita!

My god, just read Hleb is definately leaving Arsenal! WTF is happening there, they cannot keep anyone, it all started from Henry! Gallas will probably be next to leave, apparently he is causing problems there and is generally pretty unpredictable. They NEED him badly however. Who knows, with this huge gap left by Hleb (Flamini can be covered by Silva IMO), Wenger might lash out and buy Ronaldinho himself! That would be a dream come true!

And here is a clip of the most precocious raw talent in football today:
General feeling is that Rijkaard will likely go to either AC Milan or Chelsea. Most fans are happy with Pep Guardiola as the replacement. They seem to have faith which is good. This also INCREASES the chances of Ronaldinho staying.

Chelsea have been playing some decent stuff as of late and they're suited to win the CL. I still like Man United to edge them for the double this season but we'll just have to wait and see.

Villa SEEMS all but gone. But last season it was like this too before he turned around and gave the team another chance. That being said, I think "El Guaje" is due for a big EPL move. Overdue if we really want to be honest and unbiased. I think that if Villa is to grow from merely a world class talent to possibly a legend when his career is over, he HAS TO MAKE THIS MOVE... He's not playing for either Barcelona or Real Madrid so he's not guaranteed Champions League football every year. He's 26 years old and hitting his peak and the general feeling is that his better years are ahead of him. Chelsea or Arsenal will get him I think. Possibly Liverpool. Regardless of whom gets him, I think Villa must take this road for himself. He's proved himself in Spain. He's done top class stuff at both domestic and Champions League level, and he's proven himself on the big international stage where most players are truly judged if we want to be honest. He needs this move for growth. Staying in Valencia at this point will just stall his career and development to that next level so I personally HOPE that he's gone for the betterment of his own future. He needs a new challenge.

I do believe Ronaldinho COULD handle the EPL and if anybody is going to get him, will be either Chelsea or Manchester City. And with a fresh scenery and new challenge, the hunger may well come back. And if his injuries don't pop up consistently like the past 2 years, then he could very well get close to if not back to the player he once was. Ronnie is another who probably could use this move.

Fernando Torres is a good example. In Spain, he would struggle to manage 15 goals. But in England because of the more open style of play that relies on speed and strength/toughness, he gets more opportunities.

Almost all the best players(Not all but almost) have at one point or another proven themselves in England. Ronnie probably needs this now. He's conquered Spain and there's nothing left there now. Its time for something new and exciting.
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Yeh, I agree, Villa and Ronaldinho both need change. I think they would both suit England and I think Villa will end up there. Ronaldinho will end up with one of the Milan sides IMO. Though I hear the behind the scenes coaching staff at Chelsea are pushing for them to sign him. I also hear they made a 50mil bid for Sergio Ramos. I hope they do get him just so he will leave Madrid, lol!

Chelsea would be making a HUGE mistake IMHO to buy Rijkaard or anybody else for that matter now. Grant is doing wonderfully for them, they are playing more attractive football and winning!

I disagree with most of the best players prooving themselves in England, very few throughout history EVER went to England. Many these days do, and it is the best league in the world at the moment and probably will be for quiet some time now, but historically, it is weaker and has seen far less superstars than both Italy and Spain. Di Stefano, Maradona, Pele, Zico, Zidane, Van Basten, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Romario, Cruyff the list goes on and on.
Word is that Rijkaard will end up either at Chelsea, AC Milan, or possibly Liverpool.

I think Chelsea are doing well with Grant at the moment. They are possibly the most in form team in Europe with Man United having something to say about that.

Don't you find it funny ATN, that Drogba is now changing his tune about leaving Chelsea now that it appears that Chelsea will be buying up big in the Summer and will probably be in contention for another title next season??.... What a band wagon jumper!!..

I did mean more or less around this time as far as proving yourself in England goes. In Spain, the football is more technical and played more intelligently on both sides of the ball with sound tactics. Like for example down where I live, the feeling is that Cristiano Ronaldo would not do as well in Spain because defenders would know how to mark him better and I guess this all comes from what happened in the Man United vs Barca CL clash.

But the true quality stuff is coming out of England at the moment. From the top down to the mid table teams, the quality is TREMENDOUS... Spain was great these past few years and I'm hopeful that will come back next season. I truly think that right now if a player wants to make his mark(Unless your playing for either Barcelona or Real Madrid), he's gotta try his skills in England. The best league in the world at the moment and probably for quite some time.
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Agree 150% with what you said above PR, every single word mirrors exactly my sentiments.

Drogba is a dog, I cannot stand him. He winges, cries when everything is going bad, when he is winning, he is dedicating his life to Chelsea!

The big one for me is Frank Lampard, what is happening with him? I hear is one who is gone at the end of this season, with them preferring Essien, Mikel and Ballack running their midfield. Not sure how much of this is rumours.

To me, Chelsea is the most inform team in Europe at the moment, with Real Madrid being very close, they are playing some stunning, effective football at the moment. Robben has really fit in well, remaining relatively injury free (wonder if the medical team is different in Madrid). Gago has surprisingly done a bit better, though still not world class to me. They badly need another striker however. Raul cannot keep up this form for another season and who knows, the decline of Van Nistelrooy looks evident to me, picking up injuries as of late.

To make your mark, Barca, Madrid, Milan, Inter or England, simple as that. I am hoping to god Aguero goes to England, he will absolutely thrive, he is a little fire cracker! I hope Barca goes for him as opposed to Benzema who I still think is overrated. Not the best at beating opponents, not the quickest, nor the best touch and a good but not brilliant finish. A very good striker, but far from the heights of one of the best strikers in the world IMO. Just cannot see the quality everyone else has been saying he has. More media hype for me.

Big matches tonight, I cannot fukcing wait!!!!! Maxy and Fitz sure to be on the edge of their seats! Nearly over, only two more games of stress left for you! Hope it turns to excitement and not compete anger! Would hate a bad call to ruin one of the two matches, which appears to be happening more and more lately!
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I agree, goal difference is by far the best IMO.

Spanish rule SUCKS and cost Barca the title last season! GD decides who has done the best over the course of the season, it also encourages winning by wide margins and not simply shutting up shop once you are infront.
I never thought I'd be sad with a Valencia win but its hit me more than ever now. Villa scores 3 goals and 2 assists in Valencia's destruction of Levante. That makes 16 goals and 10 assists in just 27 matches in this horrible season and he's leaving us. cray.gif The only one who gave a damn. Even when it looked like we were headed to La Segunda. He was always there. Fighting for us to the end. Just like Ronaldinho last year when he had to carry the load when Messi and Eto'o were gone. I know its due for him and he deserves much better than this crap that has gone on this season but I just wish it could have happened so differently. But that said, if that indeed is his penultimate game in a Valencia uniform, then all Valencianistas should be grateful that for 3 seasons he gave us all he had every time even when things didn't go well. The only warrior on the team this season. Oh well. Its just difficult to watch that Valencia will let go of their best player and head into the unknown for the next season and from there even more unknown. Football is so sad.

Anyway, congrats to Maxy and Fitz. You guys DESERVED the title this year. Its possible that Chelsea might just get you guys in Moscow but nothing is for sure.

Well its looking more and more like Ronnie's exit will soon be made OFFICIAL.. Don't know how all of a suddent the two sides have come to an agreement but an announcement is expected soon.
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Yeh, a not so beautiful but clinical effort by Manchester United last night. Good win, great result!!!!

Villa is a HUGE loss, those stats are breathtaking considering the season! Pretty much half the entire season came down to he alone!

Did you watch the Barca game PR? My god, what an end! 2-0 up, take Messi off, loose 3-2 in the last second again! See the fans and the faces of Laporta and Rijkaard! No truer saying than, "a picture tells a thousand worlds"! An absolute astonishing disgrace!

I cannot remember the Sevilla head to head, but do Barca now need a point? Imagine, loosing the title last season and missing the CL next season due to a superior goal difference on both occassions! Would be a fukcing nightmare!!!!!!! Actually we are safe, I see we are above Sevilla on head to head, so looks like we just have to qualify for next season!

How about Man City, Alvez took them apart! A hatrick! The man is starting to fire and will be a solid fixture next season!

Barca, Barca, Barca, what an absolute disgrace!
Rijkaard had the look of a man who just has NO ANSWERS... Pretty much the entire season was like that with games which you guys are up 2-0 and then fall asleep in the 2nd half. I heard all the insults and abuse directed towards BOTH Rijkaard and Laporta. Saw some signs telling Rijkaard to leave and Laporta to go to shit. It was so FITTING that when that last goal went in that they IMMEDIATELY go to the expressions on the faces of first Rijkaard then Laporta. Almost poetic in a sad way. I keep reading how sad the players are that Rijkaard is leaving in particular Messi and Eto'o. One thing thats for sure is that Barca will buy BIG this Summer. I think their 2 big transfers will be Van Der Vaart and Dani Alvez. Politics/internal bickering really played the major role IMO in the fall from grace that took over Barca this season.

I hope to see a fresh new start with a new attitude from the team.

PS- I just heard on Radio Marca that Frank Rijkaard broke down at the media conference. He apologized for the loss to the club and fans, said he wished things could have been different for the team. They say he got teary eyed when he was asked about his last game at Camp Nou being the type of loss that it was with a goal that should have never happened. Messi has come out and defended Rijkaard in public telling everyone to leave him alone.

Very emotional stuff from the sounds of it.

What will be really sad is next week when Villa plays what in all likelyhood will be his laste game in a Valencia uniform at La Mestalla. Heartbreaking stuff. If you didn't see highlights, his first goal off a free kick was class. David Silva is all but out the door as well. He'll go to either Inter Milan or Barcelona.
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Yeh, it was perfect when it went to Rijkaard and LaPorta, and in a weird kind of way, though still angry, I felt sad for them both.

They came to the club and turned it around with their signing and ambition, they thought last season was just a one-off and a poor performance, only to see this season unfold into a nightmare! I myself and beleive they also, thought Barca was a shoe in this season!!!!! Now, so quickly, Barca look in shambles, and their heads are all but up on a pike!

Rijkaard seems like a nice man and I do hope he does well, but he really needs some time to sit back and see what he was doing at Barca and the team selections and positioning of players!

It's the end of an era for both our teams by the looks of it. Some sweeping changes for both! Summer will be more excitement than this season! Looks like a few clubs will be splashing out! I think Barca will look to build their squad around Messi!

Saw the Inter V Siena game also, Inter looked fantastic, nothing like their CL garbage!!!! They should get the job done next week also!

On another note, did you see when Eto'o scored how fired up he got, then he just walked straight into Messi? Messi did not look amused. Wonder if that locker room trouble has continued, with Messi taking the place at the healm of Ronnies 'banner boys'.
I saw Eto'o kick the ball repeatedly into the net after scoring the goal and he looked a bit agitated. I guess GolTV didn't give us that angle of him and Messi. My understanding is that Eto'o and Ronnie have always had a mutual respect, but not exactly a "friendship" with supposed clashing within the team between the two, but they always held it together for the common cause. What I do here is that Eto'o wants OUT of Barcelona preferably this Summer due to club really pushing young Bojan into the forefront and the rumors that Barca want to add another striker with the likes of Huntelaar, Villa, and Benzema being monitored. The feeling is that Samuel at heart is a warrior and a professional and he'll just put his head down and play better football. But its being said that 2 STRAIGHT losing seasons is frustrating him, and he's supposedly eager to test himself in England as well.

The very problem with Rijkaard is that he is a "nice man". But TOO NICE... He really let things get out of control at Barca with the players running their own show and there has to be a sense of order. But in truth its also a case of Rijkaard needing a new challenge. He's accomplished pretty much everything he could with Barcelona anyway and he now needs something new.

I want to go back to a point that I think you made earlier about Arsenal not being able to keep players and I have to agree. I think Arsene Wenger's decisions to not make at least 1 or 2 TRUE QUALITY SIGNINGS has played a big part in Arsenal not being able to keep up with Man United and Chelsea for what has been what now, 3-4 years???.... Lets look at players like Fabregas, RVP , Adebayor(Ego maniac that he is), Flamini(Who is gone now), Rosicky, Toure, Eboue, Eduardo(If he's ever able to come back 100%), and Walcott. This core group of guys right here are fellas that want to win trophies. Arsenal have no leader. They don't have a Frank Lampard who would DIE for his team on the pitch if it meant getting the victory. They don't have a fiery guy like Roberto Ayala to get in their faces and tell them to play harder. I honestly think that if they're unable to win anything next season we'll see more of their guys leave, and then you guys could come in and possibly seal the deal on Fabregas. The main needs are...

1- Striker- A clinical guy in front of goal. Huntelaar and Villa are available. Benzema is reportedly admired by Wenger alot and he'd come cheap. Huntelaar and Villa are tall orders and you can expect their respective clubs to demand at least 20 million for either of them. But I think Benzema is a bit unproven. Sure he's done good in France and all but I'm not sure he's ready for either England or Spain. Bottom line is that Adebayor needs a partner because he has proven himself unable to carry the load alone. His numerous missed chances towards the end of the season cost Arsenal dearly.

2- Center back- Senderos needs to be benched, simple as that. He arguably cost Arsenal the Champions League and he's often caught out of position and easily beaten by his attackers. Bottom line is that he is not good enough for Arsenal. Albiol is reportedly being watched by Arsene, as is Chivu. Lets see what happens there.

Being cheap has cost Arsenal alot and the club and its fans are reportedly demanding a top quality striker who's proven on the big stage. Arsene has PROMISED the fans 2 great signings. So great they are that they'll forget Flamini. I have to see this to believe it.
Absolutely fuckin thrilled to have won the league and it made it all the better doing it on the final day of the season. It's so stressful watching a game when so much rests on the result. When we were 1-0 up and Chelsea scored against Bolton I got to admit that I started to worry. Thank fuck we got the 2nd goal and it was brilliant that a true legend of the modern game scored the goal.

758 appearances for United and 10 league titles is something which will never be repeated. Ryan Giggs is an absolute legend.

I can't relax really until after the game in Moscow. It really is 50/50 but we will have to play better than we did against Wigan (and have done in our last few games) if we are to lift our 3rd European Cup.
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PR, I agree and Wenger desperately needs to keep Hleb. He needs some big signings, the players and the fans demand it. I think with Eduardo, Adebayor and Van Persie, they have quiet a good amount and quality strikers, but RVP is just too injury prone!

Gallas gets in their faces, but I hear he does it in the wrong kind of way and is a hated man in the dressing room.

Senderos needs to be sent back to the Championship level, he has no place in the Premier League, especially in Arsenal.

I think another centre back is their most vital need. Toure and Gallas are good, but if one is injured, Arsenal look horrible back there.

Eto'o is becoming very frustrated, apparently he is one of the most competitive men ever to walk the planet. Even at training, he is said to fire up if his team does not win and then spit the dummy. I don't know, maybe it is just because Ronnie is missing so he is not being fed those balls and doesn't have as much space to work with, but Eto'o is looking far from the force he once was. Perhaps time to ship him out...........

Henry while inconsistent, has still flashed moments of brilliant and scored a handful of fantastic goals from that left hand side.

Who knows, we may go for Lampard.............? I would not mind him there now, at least someone solid infront of the defence. We really really really really really need a couple of good centre backs though!

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