PUN-ting ahead 12 (29 MAR – FOOLS’ DAY) – “Who’s The BOSS?” Edition

The Red-Devil boss wears Prada, and probably also chomps down on designer chewing gum.  Never one to be caught publicly inflating a chewing gum bubble, or indeed even the importance of his most gifted of players, over the collective importance of the club, he instead appears to revel more in the art of bubble-bursting.  This he effortlessly does to many an ill-informed journalist who attempts to dictate proceedings in press conferences.  Or a rival manager (especially those that also happen to be his former players) who may have found some misplaced belief in finally finding a way to consistently outwit him (stop chuckling away Jose’, for you indeed are a Special One if your favourable head-to-head record is anything to go by), a burst bubble seems to be the consistent fate for them all.  Love him or loath him BUT, one thing is indisputable when it comes to assessing Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF), and that is the FACT (stop shaking your head Rafa) that whenever you encounter SAF, you are left in NO doubt as to Who’s the BOSS?  A quality that most, if not all, of the following gaffers wish they had a similar command of.  So let’s PUNt this shall we, and hopefully at the end of it we will be able to see Who indeed is the BOSS?

FOOTY

(EPL)

 Sunderland -v- Manchester United

The Stadium of Light served as the backdrop for one of the EPL’s most fascinating post match reactions.  It was the last round of matches of the memorable 2011/12 season and Manchester United, via a solitary Wayne Rooney goal, had secured victory over the Black Cats.  In any other match Manchester United would have been celebrating an away win BUT this was NOT just any other match!  In any other season that victory would have been enough to clinch the EPL title, BUT again this was NOT just any other season!  And because of that Manchester United went through 3 intense minutes of emotional turmoil.  As the final whistle blew they were league champions!  But due to title rivals Man Citeh’s delayed finish to their game versus QPR, United could not celebrate.  The champagne stayed on ice.  Still in awkward limbo the United players and technical staff walked around the Sunderland ground for what must have felt like an eternity, even though it was little over 120 seconds.  Nervous energy filled the air.  Citeh had drawn level with QPR BUT were still short of the victory they needed to secure the title, and there was still time for them to ride the momentum of a final push towards glory.  Their champagne too was kept on ice.  And then the unimaginable happened.  Citeh scored through Aguerooooooooooo and they got to pop their champagne as the United players and staff went on an uncomfortable lap of (diminished) honour at The Stadium of Light.  In that moment it was NOT only the loud celebrations of their noisy neighbours that United had to deal with, BUT also the audible jibes that were now being aimed at them by their “ungracious” Black Cat hosts.  That day made an indelible impression on SAF, (who vowed to NEVER again lose out on the title on goal difference) and allegedly Wayne Wazza Rooney too, ( who has since confirmed that the reaction of the Sunderland fans “ was something myself and a lot of the players won’t forget”).  Well, today United finally re-enter the Stadium of Light since that fateful day, with a chance to make good on those promises.

PUN-dit Pointers

  • Man Utd have won their last 6 matches (keeping a clean sheet in their last 5) in the Premier League, and are undefeated in their last 18 matches against Sunderland in all competitions (while keeping a clean sheet in their last 3 away matches against Sunderland in all competitions).
  • Sunderland have failed to win their last 7 matches in the Premier League.
  • Steven Fletcher (who is out for the rest of the season due to injury) has scored a third of Sunderland‘s 33 league goals so far this season, a larger percentage than Robin van Persie has contributed for Manchester United (28 per cent).
  • Manchester United have equalled the most ever victories after 29 matches of a top-flight season (24 wins), along with Tottenham in 1960-61 and Chelsea in 2005-06.

United fans will be glad that Robin van Persie (RvP) scored 3 goals in 2 matches for Holland over the International “break”.  His current club run needs a turn in fortunes having scored only once for United in his last 10 matches.  RvP has also been denied by a post or the crossbar seven times (no player in the top flight has hit the woodwork more times this season). Whether that luck can change after crossing paths with the Black Cats, remains to be seen BUT even if it doesn’t Sunderland should be more threatened by a still smarting Wazza who has scored 10 goals in his last 9 EPL matches (not to mention his scoring in each of his last 2 matches against Sunderland).

My PUNt is for a UNITED WIN as Wazza shows the Sunderland fans Who the BOSS is.  This should also be a victory that United will gladly celebrate, NOT because any champagne will be popped BUT because it will be a record-setting 25th win in 30 top flight starts, and more importantly also mean that only 10 more points (from an available 24) will be required to clinch league title number 20.  Until then the bubbly remains on ice.  

NB* stats as per www.whoscored.com , www.goal.com , www.bbc.co.uk/sport

QUICK Bossy-PUNts

  1. Manchester City -v- Newcastle (EPL):-  Oh how “Bobby” Mancini must wish he could be like SAF!  NOT really because of the 15 point cushion he would be enjoying, BUT most probably because the whole fiasco regarding Citeh skipper Vincent Kompany’s return to international football would have been avoided.  Without saying as much, there is very little doubt that SAF had a lot to do with Rio Ferdinand’s decision to turn down a recent request from Woy Hodgson to return to the England squad….. “for footballing reasons”.  Now “poor” Roberto has to deal with another incident that raises doubts about whether he is really considered as the BOSS at Citeh!  A positive result over Newcastle is usually the norm when considering that Citeh have won all 6 of the clubs’ last encounters in ALL competitions (as well as ALL 6 last EPL matches).  The team from The Etihad has beaten only Aston Villa (18 times) more times than it has beaten Newcastle (with 14 EPL wins overall).  So even though Citeh have dropped seven points in their last seven league games at The Etihad (having only dropped six in the previous 36 games) I am still PUN-ting VICTORY FOR MANCHESTER CITY!  BUT even that result may NOT completely tone down the envious green tinge with which Mancini will view Alan Pardew.  After all, due to a ridiculous 8 year contract, it is the Magpies gaffer who has the much desired jobs security that will allow him to boldly declare that he is the BOSS!
  2. Southampton -v- Chelsea (EPL):- Gaffer Rafa probably wishes he could just be called the BOSS without it being prefixed by the pesky “interim” description.  The FACT that it has somewhat undermined his authority is without question.  The FACT that even if he delivers a 2nd place EPL finish along with the FA Cup and Europa League trophies, that will NOT be enough to persuade Roman Abramovich to try to dissuade Rafa from departing at the end of his interim tenure, is quite concerning.  NOT that Rafa is boldly going where NO other Chelsea Boss has gone before, BUT still, any delivering of silverware should earn a manager an extended stay.  NOT so at Stamford Bridge where gaffers are regularly pushed off, before they jump off (stop cowering away Di Mateo, AVB and Anceloti) as Roman proves over and over again that he is the BOSS, and ALL his managers are dispensable interims (even if the interim tag is NOT always spelt out)!  This has made the Chelsea hot seat a mission impossible which gaffers continuously accept with the hope of reaching the now final frontier of a long term contract.  Saint Mary’s Stadium is the venue for Chelsea’s quest to kickstart a, hopefully positive, string of results from a punishing sequence of fixtures that will see them play a crazy 4 games in a week!  The expected rotation of players will boost The Saints’ chances of ending a 10 year winless run against Chelsea.  Southampton will also look to spoil Chelsea’s mini run of a season 1st back to back EPL wins (complemented by clean sheets).  BUT to do that , while fulfilling my PUNt of a SCORE DRAW, The Saints will need to avoid adding to their EPL leading 5 own goals.  Gaffer Rafa will no doubt also be hoping to get a quadruple of quick fire results BUT an FA CUP LOSS TO MANCHESTER UNITED on Monday will probably see his alleged teenage-blogger-driven woes mounting as he is depicted as a Fool’s Day poster boy, in stead of the BOSS he desires to be.
  3. Inter Milan -v- Juventus (Serie A):- The Derby d’Italia provided a shock 3-1 win for the Nerazzurri from the capital.  That result ended Juve’s impressive 49 match Serie A unbeaten run and was a much desired, and HUGE, feather in the cap for a young BOSS (Stramaccioni) who was still in his 1st year as a top flight gaffer.  The league leading Bianconeri have only won one in their last five trips to the San Siro.  BUT I am expecting that trend to end via a PUNt fulfilling NARROW WIN FOR JUVENTUS as they build momentum for their crucial Champions’ League match against Bayern Munich.
  4. Stormers -v- Crusaders (SupeRugby):-  The Crusaders charge into Newlands with an uneasing comfort for a team playing away.  That is due, in part, to the curiously significant support the Crusaders always get from a noted section of the Capetown locals.  It is so significant that it has probably handicapped the Stormers more than it has bolstered the Crusaders who, to be fair probably have an impressive record at any away ground.  They are the Crusaders after all, and one could say they have been the BOSSES of SupeRugby!  BUT their indifferent start to the season coupled with the absence of All Black stalwarts McCaw and Carter have emboldened me to PUNt a STORMERS WIN!

PUN-dhari (the Local Scene)

  1. The first in a now permanent look at what’s happening from a Zimbabwean perspective will beam the sportlight on the national football BOSSES’ failed attempt to get FIFA to endorse ZIFA’s bans on players and officials implicated in the Asiagate match fixing scandal.  It is rather alarming how this high-profile case resulted in such a humiliating conclusion.  This is but the beginning of the next chapter in this fiasco and I PUNt that the cash-strapped ZIFA will soon find more claimants to its already meagre funds as those affected by the bans take all sorts of legal action.

NB** stats as per www.goal.com and www.whoscored.com and www.bbc.com/sport , www.supersport.co.za

So who among you would be brave enough to be the BOSS?  Let me know which post you would gladly step into and why, in the “PUNt Back A Reply” slot below.  Here’s to hoping whatever your sporting exploits this weekend, you BOSS them ALL.  BUT if by some chance this post has given you a false sense of authority, which will in turn prove to be folly, then by all means feel free to…….pardonthePUN-dit! 

Be blessed over this Easter Weekend …. and ….Be Great!

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