About Me

Football purist, realist and general sports fanatic. Interested in all aspects of the game, from all corners of the earth.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Rose leads Bulls to Game 1 Victory

Joakim Noah likes to talk. Joakim Noah likes to talk bad about LeBron James and Cleveland. Following their most recent spat last month the towering Frenchman licked his lips at the prospect of a playoff series with the biggest names in the East.

He declared:  "If the opportunity presents itself and we can play Cleveland I would be very happy. We're confident... It would be really, really exciting. I hope it happens. "

Ahead of Monday night’s Game One of the Eastern Conference semi-finals James refused to be hauled into a verbal duel with his long-time rival. If anything, he tried to kill Noah with kindness.

He stated how he perceives Noah to be “a guy that you hate to compete against but if he' you're teammate, you probably, you love him”. While this is hardly “My bounty is as boundless as the sea”, it is a compliment dished out to a spiky character who feeds off hate.

James continued: “For us, it's not just Joakim, but he's one of their glue guys. He plays well, they play well, his energy, his effort, you love to watch him. As a competitor, you hate him, but it's all for the love of the game".

When the sides lined out for the series opener the combative pair were in direct competition, but nobody could dispute the game was won elsewhere.

The Bulls dominated proceedings in the first quarter; holding Cleveland’s offense to it’s lowest first quarter total of the season and dropping buckets as easily as a housewife throwing filthy clothes into a wash basket. Mike Dunleavy went 5-for-5 in the first half including 3 three-pointers as Chicago shot 67% from downtown to the Cavs’ 25%.

In retaliation for receiving a 1st quarter pounding, James and Kyrie Irving began bee lining toward the basket; Irving scoring ten consecutive points for the Cavs by racing around the Bulls’ presence in the paint before a series of neat finishes. In truth, this routine was a result of desperation for the Cavs as opposed to a designated source of success. They missed their lethal outside shooters Kevin Love (injury) and JR Smith (suspension/stupidity) and lacked a line-up that spaced the floor sufficiently against a Bulls defence whose strength lies in preventing three-point attempts.

The absent duo were responsible for 39% of Cleveland’s catch-and-shoot points this season and replacement Mike Miller in particular struggled to contribute to the Cavs offence, while Iman Shumpert’s lack of size compared to Love meant the side conceded too many inches to a taller Bulls team.

Derrick Rose took the Bull by the horns; resembling his former, two-kneed-self more than any occasion on any of his previous returns. He persistently created space for shots by pulling up on the run; draining 16 first half points by sticking to the successful formula.

Cleveland tied things up for the first time early in the second half when their red-wood Russian centre Timofey Mozgov tipped in following another slash to the basket from Irving but Rose, who has a Masters in bouncing back from adversity, orchestrated a run of thirteen consecutive Chicago points to put the Bulls back in the ascendancy.

He was at the heart of everything positive the Bulls did; releasing the Catalan Pau Gasol for a brace of unchallenged mid-range baskets that set him up for a third quarter where he shot 6-for-7 from the field as his side took an 11 point lead into the fourth.

Noah may have stated his pleasure to play in Ohio, but his performance painted a miserable figure. His missed easy lay-up threatened to halt the Bulls’ finest period of the game and was punctuated by a Mozgov dunk. He was held scoreless by his nemesis James all night.

Fortunately for him his four fellow starters all chipped in with considerable tallies (Gasol, Rose and Butler all climbed higher than 20), while a tiring Jimmy Butler put in a noble shift to defend the physically superior James; something that was sure to please the flailing centre.

Cleveland never led during the course of the 48 minutes, meaning Chicago have stolen the valuable home court advantage afforded to the Cavs despite their week off following a washout victory of the Celtics in Round 1.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

All Hail The King

West Ham’s former club photographer Steve Bacon tells a tale about Alan Pardew from his time at Upton Park that fits perfectly with the current Crystal Palace manager’s public persona.

During a pre-game staff meal before a clash with Sunderland Pardew lay down the law on the monarch system he favours when at the helm.

“When the gaffer sat down with his backroom team deciding on his order, he asked fitness coach Tony Strudwick what he was getting and told him he’d take it if it looked good”.

Available at: http://www.blog.fantasy5live.com/2015/03/06/alan-pardews-real-talking-being-done-on-the-pitch/

City's Sole Twinkling Star

If one game encapsulated Manchester City’s tendency to stall when confronted by the opportunity to prove they are a side marching towards the top of the sport it was their home defeat at the twinkling toes of Barcelona last week. Over the course of the ninety minutes the Citizens’ limitations worryingly reared their ugly heads.

Available at: http://www.blog.fantasy5live.com/2015/03/06/man-citys-limitations-continue-to-be-exposed/

Anger Mismanagement

The idea that anger is an emotion that will haze an athlete’s perception and affect their performance negatively is a flawed one.

Anger, as Roy Keane discussed in his most recent autobiography, is a form of energy which, utilised correctly, can spur a footballer on; it can increase the workload on the individual and the determination within that makes death appear a more appealing outcome than defeat.

The basketballer Kobe Bryant speaks about this in his documentary Muse which is released this weekend. The American, who was reared in Italy as his journeyman father Joe bounced from club to club, suffered when he was dropped into US education after the family returned in 1991; basketball was his release. 

Available at: http://www.blog.fantasy5live.com/2015/02/26/joey-barton-anger-management-and-a-bit-of-context/

Old Trafford one Giant Advert

Louis Van Gaal’s press conferences over the course of his career have consisted mainly of him discussing his famous ‘philosophy’. During his second spell in charge of the Netherland’s national team he mentioned how “names matter to the media but not to me”. Van Gaal, in his words, “continually plays players who best fit the team; never those who are just big names”.

When the Dutchman sat down to be interviewed for the first time as Manchester United manager during the club’s pre-season tour to the United States, he summed up his philosophy in one straightforward sentence.

Available at: http://www.blog.fantasy5live.com/2015/02/14/forward-looking-van-gaal-stuck-in-the-past-with-strike-partnership/

Tony Pulis: The Master of Survival

In 2010 the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice gathered a group of minor celebrities to tackle one of the earth’s Seven Summits as a means to raise funds for the Stoke based charity.

The idea of tackling Mount Kilimanjaro is daunting at the best of times; at the worst of times it’s harrowing. Inclement weather afflicted Northern Tanzania during the week of the climb; locals claimed it was the worst in the region in five years. A blizzard wrapped around the mountain, plunging temperatures south of minus twenty degrees Celsius.

Available at: http://www.blog.fantasy5live.com/2015/02/12/tony-pulis-proving-to-be-the-perfect-fit-for-west-brom/

Fueled on Hate

Jose Mourinho wasn’t even watching the television but he already had his ammunition. After a pulsating second leg of Chelsea’s Carling Cup clash with Liverpool, the Portuguese felt the need to intensify the siege mentality he’s been brewing at Stamford Bridge since his side were held to a draw against Southampton during the festive period.

“There is a ‘campaign’ on the television”, Mourinho sermonised, “with a certain pundit that is saying: ‘Diego Costa crimes.’ This guy must be nuts. The guy that is saying that”.

Available at: http://www.blog.fantasy5live.com/2015/02/03/jose-mourinhos-vexation-only-solidifies-chelseas-resolve/