An interesting sporting weekend that had quite a lot of action crammed into it.
Liverpool finally win
Brendan Rodgers gets his first Premier League win of the season, and does not have to listen to what has become the recurrent theme of “this is Liverpool’s worst start since 200 A.D.”. The most impressive statistic from the game is that Liverpool banished their profligate ways and punished a poor Norwich City defence quite emphatically. The Reds scored with five of their six shots on goal, and Luis Suarez (usually conspicuous by his spurning of good opportunities) bagged himself a hat trick.
What was also encouraging (driven more by necessity it must be said) is that Sterling, Suso and Wisdom all started the match and provided some youthful energy alongside the established spine of the Liverpool team. A potential cause for alarm is the poor form at present of Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing who need to pull up their socks and provide some much needed cover for the squad.
Comeback/Chokers – Ryder Cup
As the Proteas know very well, it is a fine line between throwing a game away (“choking”) and being beaten by a better team on the day. The Americans led the Europeans by ten points to six at the start of the final day and then somehow conspired to lose their overwhelming lead by the close of the day. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth has already begun with fingers being pointed in the direction of captain Davis Love III for some potentially poor team choices. Naturally, there have to be other scapegoats and Jim Furyk has been targetted for a crucial missed putt on the second last hole. Tiger Woods has also not totally escaped the glare of the spotlight as he failed to win a single game during the tournament.
There are, however, two sides to every story and the Europeans deserve their share of the credit for the part they played in the nerve-wracking final day. They knew that had to lay down a marker early on in the day, and they did exactly that. Team USA appeared to let the pressure get to them and also seemed weighed down by the expectations of the home crowd support.
My view is that it was six of one and half a dozen of the other – a perfect storm that the Europeans exploited to their advantage. I personally enjoyed Ian Poulter’s interpretation of the patented Jomo Sono celebration – the double fist pump.
Springboks get back to winning ways
The South African rugby team overwhelmed their Australian counterparts 31-8 on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria. The win highlighted the fact that the Springboks can play some entertaining rugby as they dominated the Aussies in the collisions and moved the ball quickly and effectively to the backs, with Bryan Habana being the grateful recipient of three tries.
The only concern once again was the poor goal kicking from the Boks. Johan Goosen was given the primary responsibilities as he had been promoted into the number 10 slot ahead of Morne Steyn who was omitted from the match day 22 entirely. Goosen missed his first two kicks and then handed over the kicking duties to Ruan Pienaar who was also not entirely convincing with his kicking.
It was a good performance by the Boks, albeit against injury-weakened opposition. The much-needed win was a good tonic for coach Heneke Meyer and his team ahead of their final clash against the All Blacks at FNB stadium on Sunday. The Boks remain a work in progress.
The Ginger Ninja Conundrum
Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United have a problem.
The problem is that there is no player in the current United setup who can control the play and tempo like Paul Scholes. Michael Carrick was brought into the team to provide the same effortless control that Scholes provides but has not stamped his authority in quite the same manner. Anderson seems to spend more time frequenting the pie shops vacated by Benni McCarthy and has seemingly fallen out of favour at Old Trafford. Tom Cleverly, whilst promising, has had his United career curtailed by a series of injuries. Ryan Giggs, for all his experience, does not have the same ability in the centre of the park that his long time comrade Scholes does.
In the game against Liverpool last week, Ferguson left Scholes out of the starting eleven and United were overrun in the first half. Following the expulsion of Jonjo Shelvey, Scholes entered the fray in place of the erratic Nani and the game shifted noticeably. The United midfield dominated possession (partially due to the extra man) with the ginger maestro doing what he does best.
It is still a point of much debate why Ferguson still places such reliance on Paul Scholes, in particular, and also on Ryan Giggs. It is understandable that both players can contribute on and off the field for United, but a club as powerful and successful as they are should not be relying on two veterans in the centre of the park.