Politics and Soccer

To someone who is a fan of one or a fan of neither, this may seem like a very odd combination. But for me it is far from it.

As I look towards college there are two fields that I see myself potentially pursuing, politics and soccer. 

To specify, when I say soccer I mean the management side of it. And when I say politics I mean going into the legislative branch in some form.

Now these two may seem to be far apart in the processes and lifestyle but to me they are quite similar. Both are in the eye of the public and both aim to please the public. Both deal with large amounts of money and work on a global scale. And most importantly, both are passions of mine.

I have been involved in the business side of soccer for about 4 years now. It’s surprisingly complicated at times and the attention to detail is large. I have also followed politics closely for some years now and I get a similar vibe there.

So the issue I run into is which one do I choose? I love both, I can make good money doing both and I feel like I have potential in both. But if I end up in one and hate it can I switch to the other?

These thoughts are shared with many young people my age I am sure. It is hard being tasked with choosing where your life will head. At times I wish someone would just choose for me but I know I would have regrets.

As I look towards college I am thinking of all the possibilities and what I could do to keep both doors open as long as possible. I know that now is not the time to make the choice but taking steps to find out is important.

So here is a word of advice for people younger than me: do all you can to figure out what you want to do. My parents have “forced” me to work in the areas I like and it has made a huge difference because I have been able to narrow it down. I know so many kids my age who are worried because they just have no idea. I am sure they will find out soon enough but it takes off so much stress knowing that you know what you want to do.

So for parents and kids, take steps to find out your passion. Sometimes you find out something surprising but all the information is good information.

It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Old Trafford is one of the greatest stadiums in the world. It is the largest of any of the EPL club’s stadiums and it has an aura of magic. It has played host to many fantastic games and many incredible players. For some United players though, tomorrow’s game against Blackpool will be their last in the Theater of Dreams.

Edwin van der Sar has been a great goalkeeper throughout his time at United. I can still remember his penalty save against Chelsea that won the cup. He has been a great footballer and he will be missed. Sir Alex Ferguson announced that Van der Sar will start in the net in the last game of the season. This will give the fans a chance to thank him for his great work during his time at United.

Edwin van der Sar Edwin Van der Sar of Manchester United saves the penalty attempt from Ncolas Anelka of Chelsea to win during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Manchester United and Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium on May 21, 2008 in Moscow, Russia.

Although it is not certain that Paul Scholes will retire, there is a very good chance of it. It is a good opportunity for him to go out on a good note. Scholes has been a key member of United for since he came in to the first team squad in 1994. Before that, Scholes has been part of United’s youth program. He has always been a great players for United, getting in trouble at times but always coming off in style. His vicious tackles scarred even the most hardened players. He will always be remembered as one of the United greats.

Although these two players are retiring and others may be leaving, United will keep strong as one of the best teams in the world. They will get new players who have skill and knowledge but the greats that preceded them will not be forgotten.

Gers

Rangers Football Club (or the Gers as some of their loyal fans call them) recently won the Scottish Premier League title. This is the third title in a row they have won.

unfortunately in the SPL it is almost always only a competition between two teams, Rangers and Celtic. This year followed that. Rangers finished the season with 93 points in front of Celtic who had 92. The third place team? They had 63 points.

No other team in Europe has won as many trophies as Rangers, yet on the international scene they don’t get much credit. among many other large numbers, Rangers have won 54 league titles. 54! People are raving about United’s accomplishment of 19 (including me) but 54…that is incredible.

Granted the SPL is nowhere near as difficult as the EPL but it is still amazing.

I love Rangers because of my Protestant Scottish heritage, I’m no bandwagoner. But for those people looking for a team outside of the EPL to support, look in to Rangers.

They play pretty football for a Scottish team partly because they have players from all over the world. They have fanatic fans that give the atmosphere a great feel (usually) and they are a succesful club. They really deserve more credit.

But who deserves credit most of all is Walter Smith. After the last game of the season, Smith retired as coach of Rangers. During his time the team won 21 major titles including 10 times league champions. He has been a wonderful representative of the Ranger organization and he will be honored and missed. I cannot stress enough what a great coach and a great asset he has been. There is a great article on his importance here.

So go Gers! And for any Hoop fan reading this, don’t count on us stopping at 3.

19

The number 19 is not considered special by most people. It doesn’t get the glory of 10 or hold the importance of 100. But on Saturday, May 14th of 2011, the number 19 got a little credit.

Manchester United won their 19th league title this past Saturday. To most people, that does not seem to be a good enough reason to shave the number in to your chest hair, but for Manchester United star striker Wayne Rooney (pictured above) it was a great reason.

This league title now gives Manchester United the most league titles of any English club. Again this may not seem like a huge deal. But looking back it is a huge deal.

Before the 1992-93 season, United only had 7 league titles. This was not bad but compared to Liverpool’s 18 titles, it was quite small. But in only 19 seasons, United won 12 of their now 19. That is simply incredible.

With this new title United can now surpass their arch nemesis Liverpool as far as the most dominant team in history. All of the last 12 titles have come from Sir Alex Ferguson who took over a struggling team.

United had not won a title since the 1966-67 season. During that time they had been relegated and had lost much of their prestige. But Fergie changed all of that. During his reign, United have won many accolades including the Treble, the only team to have ever accomplished the feat.

Fergie should be credited with much of the rebuilding that has happened. He took over in 1988, taking over a club that was on the verge of relegation. He has now built them in to the largest team in the world.

United now hold 19 league titles, a number that for them seemed impossible to get to. They were weak and now they are strong. Now they can be the ones celebrating by carving numbers in to their chest hair.

Tragedy

Football is usually a sport of much celebration, but this week has been full of sadness. The first is the death of the Korean soccer player Yoon Ki-Won. I do not know much about his death or his career but it is a tragedy that he passed away and I wish his family the best.

Just two days later Ki-Won’s teammate on Incheon United, Shin Yong-Rok collapsed on the field near the end of a game. He is still in a coma after barely surviving cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Shin Yong-Rok Jeju United

These are not the first cases of deaths and serious heart issues in sports, especially football. Leagues such as the Barclay’s Premier League have started to monitor heart rates to try to remove players from life-threatening situations. But there is still some mystery surrounding the cardiovascular deaths that have occurred.

Much lighter, yet still saddening in the news that FIFA officials have been accepting bribes. That’s not really news because anyone that follows international football knows that FIFA is more corrupt than the mob.

But it is alleged that the Qatari outfit bribed African members of FIFA to vote for Qatar to receive the World Cup in 2022. Football does not need this. From the bribing of referees to FIFA officials, it just is not worth it.

There was even more news released in England over the ongoing corruption scandal. England did not win their bid which turns out to be a good choice by FIFA because England’s FIFA members seem to have deep pockets and shallow morals.

Hopefully the news will get a bit brighter as the week goes on.

Champions!!! (sort of)

Today Manchester United beat Chelsea FC, almost certainly giving them their 19th Premier League title.

Javier Hernandez, Petr Cech

While I was busy taking an AP Statistics final, Manchester United was pulling off a 2-1 victory. United looked the better team by far (I recorded the game) and throughly deserved the win. Chelsea fans may complain about the refereeing of Howard Webb but I do not think those complaints are valid. United created many more chances, finished well and defended even better.

Now United are six points clear with two games left. All they need is a tie in one of those games (which are against Blackpool and Blackburn) and they will go home with the trophy.

It has been a very interesting season. At the beginning I will admit I had little hope. Chelsea started so strongly that I wondered if we had a chance.

I credit Sir Alex for his genius in leading United to their 19th League title, which will be a record.

I am now looking forward to the Champions League Final against Barcelona at Wembley Stadium on May 28th. That will certainly be United’s biggest challenge of the year.

Final Bound

Today Manchester United clinched itself a place in the Champions League Final. They will face Barcelona on May 28th at Wembley Stadium.

United pulled off a 4-1 win which is an incredible feat. What makes it even more impressive is that United started many of its bench players. Sir Alex Ferguson decided that it would be best to rest some of his key players for the season deciding game against Chelsea this Saturday.

Schalke had won 5-2 against last years champions, Inter Milan. For United to win 6-1 on aggregate goals…well to be honest it is shocking. I believe in United’s quality but this was something else.

Ferguson made 9 changes from his original squad that beat Schalke in the first leg. After the game he said that the team, “Did me proud.”

The win sets up a rematch from 2009 where United lost to Barca. Although I am hopeful that United can beat Barca, I am very unsure. Barca moves the ball so well and has so much talent that they are virtually impossible to stop.

If United wants to beat Barca they need to play very tight in the midfield as well as in the defence. They cannot allow Barca to dictate the tempo of the game by holding the ball. Whoever is playing out on the left must also find a way to shut down Messi, and I wish them the best of luck. I do not envy any footballer who has to face that man.

United has the talent to win the final but they will have to pull out a performance of the ages to do so. Glory Glory!

Just Ridiculous

I have seen some absolutely bizarre things in the world of football but this may take the cake.

Dutch club VVV Venlo announced that it has signed an 18 month-old boy by the name of Baerke van der Meij. Yes I did say 18 months, that is not a joke.

I have heard of clubs signing 11 year olds and I was shocked by that, but a toddler? It seems that it is a joke.

Quite possibly it is just a publicity stunt. Venlo is not paying the kids family much money but it gets the team’s name out in to the football media.

VVV Venlo’s basis for signing the youngster (and I MEAN youngster) was off a youtube video that shows the little Dutchman kicking balls in to his toy chest. I am not sure this is the most conventional of signing techniques but only time will tell.

Meij was signed to a 10 year contract, which in most cases is a very long contract. However this one only keeps him until he is 11.

I still can’t get over getting on Soccernet in the morning and reading this (full article in link), “Van der Meij, 1, has been signed up by his local side on a symbolic ten-year professional contract but despite the club currently battling against relegation from Dutch football’s top-tier, it’s not thought he will be thrown into the action any time soon.”

Obviously Soccernet thinks it is somewhat of a joke as well. The caption under the photo reads, “Baerke van der Meij celebrated signing his ten-year contract with a glass of orange juice.”

I hope Meij the best of luck!

Tangible

On Tuesday, Manchester United beat Schalke FC 2-0. This is an incredible win for United and one that will hopefully put them in the champions League final.

In the Champions League, teams play home-and-home which means that for every round there are two games: one at each teams home field.

For most teams it is much harder to win the away game but that’s just what Manchester United did.

Ryan Giggs got the first one, becoming the oldest player to score in the Champions League. Wayne Rooney got the second goal to really boost United’s chances.

The win does not guarantee anything, especially since Schalke was the team that scored 5 goals against Inter Milan. But one would think that United’s chances are pretty good going back to Old Trafford with a 2 goal cushion.

This weekend United play Arsenal, then Schalke on Wednesday followed by Chelsea that next Saturday. Although it is a very difficult schedule, United have been playing great.

Ryan Giggs goal best v Schalke

If United beat or tie Chelsea the league is pretty much theirs. I am very excited to see how the end of the season finishes now that United is so close.

For a complete summary of the game go to: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/report?id=315489&cc=5901

Two Cups Left

Although I have been in deep denial over the subject of Manchester United getting knocked out of the FA Cup, I feel that I must now acknowledge it.

Over the last weekend, United came to a pathetic halt to Manchester City. Yes, we lost to the men in powder blue.

It was an embarrassing display by United, but I really cannot blame them. I am not trying to make excuses but they have played so many games this season (losing VERY few of them) that by this point they are bound to slip up.

David Platt plays peacemaker as Anderson and Balotelli boil over at Wembley

As I had said in previous writing, I did not expect them to win the treble (though I was very much hoping for it). United still have to beat Schalke in the tie for the Chapions League and hold off Arsenal for the League title.

After the very interesting and to be honest, weird draw between Arsenal and Liverpool, United’s shot at their 19th League title looks good. They cannot become to complacent but as long as they keep cool heads they should win it.

The Champions League games are a totally different story. I admit that I do not know much about Schalke except that they are playing fantastic right now and they have a great goalkeeper in Neuer. Even if United can beat them, I worry that United does not have what it takes to beat either Barca or Real Madrid.

Paul Scholes

However, Fergie and the boys always have a few tricks up their sleeves, especially when it comes to the Champions League. Manchester United’s season is getting very interesting now.