Tag Archive | "Alex Ferguson"

Gunning For A Title



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Can Captain Cesc lead Arsenal to glory?

Can Captain Cesc lead Arsenal to glory?

After Stoke City’s Ricardo Fuller nodded in two goals last weekend to send the Britannia into euphoria, Arsenal are now in contention for only two major trophies this season and that could be a blessing for them. The distraction of the FA Cup would certainly be a pleasurable one to have, but I’m curious to see them go at the English title with everything they’ve got. If they can remain injury free and manage to stay clear of letdowns against underdog opposition, this fiery bunch of lads could challenge at least for second place and give the favorites something to think about.

The next two weeks will go a long way in determining the Gunner’s BPL fate. Starting with Manchester United this morning, Arsenal go on to face Chelsea and Liverpool in their next two league matches—a daunting task indeed. United present the challenge of stopping Wayne Rooney (he of the 13 goals in his last 13 matches), while Chelsea welcome back their African Nations Cup stars, and Liverpool is always a tough match—regardless of their league position.

Today’s match against United should be a humdinger and if Arsenal doesn’t want their title aspirations dashed, they need to continue the fine defensive form they have recently displayed against Sir Alex’s squad. William Gallas and his merry men have only conceded ONE natural goal in open play to United in their last THREE league meetings. That should prove to be a little more difficult with Gallas’ running mate Thomas Vermaelen out injured, leaving the ancient Sol Campbell to fill his boots. And those who saw Campbell’s performance against Stoke should not be filled with confidence.

And it isn’t just in defense that the Gunner’s have suffered injury. Robin Van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner, and Samir Nasri have all missed extensive time this season. But it doesn’t matter. Arsenal has one thing no other team in the league has—Cesc Fabregas. Believe me when I tell you that I’m about as partial to this kid as Michael Vick is to French poodles, but it’s near impossible not to admit his improvement since the summer break. Last season, I thought the Spaniard was just another overzealous youngster with nothing more than an occasional eye for the crossbar. But this season, he seems to have come out from underneath his big brother’s ball box to play Geppetto in the Arsenal midfield. His goals have been crucial and his pinpoint passes have provided his non-injured teammates excellent chances on goal.

There’s a lot of good to be said for this talented bunch of lads. In fact, I’d go as far as to wager a second place bet in favor of the Arsenal. I believe they’re going to continue to score goals and as long as the rocky back four that played against Stoke City in the FA Cup are never again assembled on a football pitch until the day an Avatar is President, they should be fine defensively. So going into this very difficult couple of weeks, every Gunner should be excited, but they should also be aware that a loss to United tomorrow could lead to another trophy-less year at the Emirates.

M. Junia Stainbank

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A Bolt Of Lightning Everywhere



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usainbolt

Well it’s the last day of the international break and let’s hope our favorite players don’t get Tevezed before they return to their clubs. While club football may have been on a break, conspiracy theories and over-inflated egos didn’t. Nor did we take a break (don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.)

The world’s fastest man and, apparently, the world’s number one celebrity football supporter, Usain Bolt, will be a guest of the English FA as England take on Croatia in a World Cup qualifier. Not that long after palling around with best mate Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid last week, he’ll be at Wembley rooting on England. The Jamaican sprinter is such an England fan he even used the word ‘we’ when talking about today’s match.

He may not be as fast of foot as Bolt, but Didier Drogba is quick to pat himself on the back. The former want away striker, who has now declared himself Chelsea-for-life, claims that he’s an unselfish player who doesn’t, ‘look at my scoring statistics.’ I agree with him. The way he got himself red carded during the 2008 Champions League final so that John Terry could be forced to take a penalty was definitely soulless selfless.

Another man who doesn’t mind taking one for the team is Manchester United midfielder and Scottish captain Darren Fletcher. The hard-nosed player has encouraged his teammates to question their opposite number if they’re ‘up for a battle?’ He also goes on to say he’ll be ‘in your face and kicking at your ankles.’ I’m sure those are comforting words for Arsene Wenger after he questioned Fletcher‘s role on the pitch during the last Manchester United v. Arsenal match.

Wenger’s problems with the Scottish aren’t restricted to the playing field. He blames the Eduardo diving suspension on, ‘Scottish people working at UEFA.’ David Gold, former chief executive of the Scottish FA and current UEFA general secretary, has come out and explained that, ‘It’s not all pals together’ at UEFA. No word if he was having a glass of red wine with Sir Alex Ferguson at the time of the statement.

Old pal Juande Ramos has been tipped for a return to football. After resurrecting his reputation at Real Madrid after his Tottenham debacle, the Spaniard is rumored to replace Leonardo at AC Milan. Like Martin Jol (now at Ajax after a successful stint at Hamburg), Ramos is finding that being fired from White Hart Lane might be the best thing to happen to a manager.

And let’s end on a truly joyous note (for once). Liverpool fan Michael Shields, who was incarcerated four years for a crime he didn’t commit after Liverpool’s Champions League victory in Turkey in 2005, has been released from prison today. Congratulations Michael.

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Let The Games Begin



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tevezbinky

A weekend that saw Barcelona, Inter Milan and Manchester United all wrap up their domestic leagues wasn’t all confetti and fireworks. For some it was sour grapes and for others it was a kick out the door.

‘Facts’ Benitez has been in a war of words with Sir Alex Ferguson all season, so it should be as shocking as another female celebrity claiming to be bi-sexual that he wasn’t going to be the first to congratulate the Manchester United manager on the club’s BPL title. In fact he won’t congratulate him at all, instead he will just say ‘job well done.’ Stay classy Rafa.

In case anyone cares what he thinks, Liverpool’s sh*t midfielder Lucas can’t stand the sight of United winning the league as well.

Another shit midfielder, David Bentley has been shown the door by Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. It seems Harry isn’t too impressed with Bentley’s return of two goals in thirty-four appearances for the club. At least the gaffer likes the young man, which can’t be said of Russian flop Roman Pavlyuchenko. After being subbed off this past weekend, he stormed right past the manager and straight down the tunnel. While Cristiano Ronaldo may be able to get away with such actions, a no-name Russian striker can’t. Too bad somebody didn’t tell him.

A bad attitude has cost striker Amr Zaki his place at Wigan. After a series of run-ins with manager Steve Bruce over the past season, Wigan has decided to not make his loan move permanent. Like Pavlyuchenko, it appears Zaki acts like he’s better than he is. Not a smart move for someone who hasn’t scored since December.

So long Carlos Tevez. The hard-working Manchester United player has made it pretty clear how he feels he’s been treated by the club. Claiming his new contract has nothing to do with money, but respect. This is shaping up to be an ugly breakup. Let the summer games begin.

On the subject of gamesmanship, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has dropped his strongest hint yet that he might be ready to leave the Emirates. Speaking on French TV, Wenger left the door open to a shocking move to Real Madrid. After Arsenal’s defensive play this season, he should feel right at home with the matador defense Madrid played this year.

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You’re My Obsession



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championsleaguetrophy

It’s do or die time for the four teams left in the Champions League. I think these two remaining semi-final matches should be classics. And while some players are obsessed with on the field glory, some are obsessed with becoming the biggest a**hole they can be.

If you guessed that the person hell bent on kicking himself out of football is Joey Barton, step right up and collect your can of baked beans. After getting kicked out of last weekend’s clash with Liverpool for a horrendous tackle on Xabi Alonso, he followed that up with a dressing room bust-up with Newcastle manager Alan Shearer. Stay classy Joey.

Alex Ferguson may have won the Champions League twice during his time at Manchester United, but it doesn’t mean he’s satisfied. And it’s been revealed that the club isn’t satisfied with having the largest stadium in the BPL. It’s been reported that United plan on expanding their ground and make it bigger than Wembley. Let’s just hope they don’t emulate Wembley and ruin the pitch while they’re at it.

While Fergie may be obsessed with winning trophies, his counterpart at Arsenal doesn’t feel the same need. Content with his fourth place finishes and teenage fan club of a squad, Arsene Wenger says he doesn’t need to win to justify his time in charge of the club. And not only are the Arsenal supporters ok with this, it seems wannabe Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is also a fan of Wenger.

Arsenal and Manchester United have battled many times over the years, but Sir Alex claims this is the biggest clash yet. Luckily he knows ‘everything’ about Arsenal. I wonder if he knows that football owes Arsenal a Champions League title.

Cristiano Ronaldo might not know everything about Arsenal but he knows to expect a cascade of boos at the Emirates this evening. Luckily he has the smooth sounds of Phil Collins and George Michael to help him deal with it. Why is it so unsettling to me to think of Ronaldo at home alone listening to George Michael?

Arsenal and Manchester United might be dominating today’s headlines, but this quote by Barcelona quote Luis Enrique has me ready to tomorrow’s match. He says that Chelsea will be overwhelmed by Barcelona’s ‘footballing orgasm.’ No word if he was listening to George Michael when he said it.

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Difference Of Opinion



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different

They say there are two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Or in the case of most things that are reported in the football world, there’s no truth at all. But that’s what makes it fun. Unlike watching Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea warriors ‘stifle’ Barcelona.

Are they or aren’t they going to be the biggest club in the Championship? That’s the question hanging over Newcastle’s heads these days. If you ask Legend #2 Alan Shearer, the answer is that they’re not going down. But Michael Owen isn’t so sure. The Premiership will miss you Toon Army.

Martin O’Neill doesn’t mind a little competition. Unlike many in England, the Aston Villa boss thinks that Celtic and Rangers joining the Premiership is a good thing. After finding out how hard it is to crack the top four, you think he wouldn’t want to add to the degree of difficulty.

Speaking of difficult, it must be hell to be Andrei Arshavin. First, he has to convince his wife to live in that terrible city of London, while making millions of pounds in the process. And now he finds out that his Arsenal teammates are jealous of him. I guess it’s hard being the king. And for Mikael Silvestre, it’s hard letting go of the past. At least they should be safe from bird flu.

What’s with the love fest between Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger? Through the years the two have had a less than warm relationship, but now they can’t say enough nice things about each other. At least Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has some harsh words for the Professor of the Emirates.

Mea culpas all around at Tottenham. Not that it should make Jermaine Jenas any happier, but referee Howard Webb has admitted he was wrong to award Manchester United a penalty over the weekend. And Harry Redknapp has apologized for pretty much calling Darren Bent a woman earlier this season. Better late than never, eh Darren?

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A Football Mash-Up



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keaneviera

Have you ever been to one of those all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants? Those places where they serve everything from deviled eggs to Swedish meatballs to Jello salad? And you only get one plate, so you take your one plate and just load up a mess of completely unrelated dishes until they all blend together in one big pile of food. That’s what today’s news review is: One big buffet pile of random news and strange information. Dig in and enjoy.

In case you haven’t heard, Roy Keane is the new manager of Ipswich Town. Football’s most famous dog walker wasted no time laying out his plans for the club and laying into former teammates. He isn’t too fond of former Republic of Ireland teammate Tony Cascarino in particular.

Yesterday Frank Lampard’s baby mama Elen Rives sounded off on the fat boy, calling him a ‘heartless bastard.’ Well today, Frank got to give his side of the story on BBC Radio. Good to see they’re keeping their break-up private.

In the latest round of Fergie vs. ‘Facts’, Sir Alex responds to Benitez’ claim that he has the better team. Of course if the rumor that Liverpool are in the hunt to sign Carlos Tevez (United’s forgotten man this season) is true, you have to wonder if ‘Facts’ really believes he has the better team.  I’m sure we’ll get our answer at a press conference in a few hours time.

In lighter news, much much lighter news, Rio Ferdinand has become friends with Michael Jackson. Apparently The Strange One called to congratulate Rio on his new website. Maybe it was Rio’s choice of cover girl that piqued Jacko’s interest. Could that mean Michael’s over the little boys and actually likes women? OK, quit laughing now.

I’ve got another joke for you. Actually it’s just a new quote from Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner. The misfiring Dane is ready to take over for the injured Robin van Persie and show his quality. I’ll give you a minute to wipe your eyes.

He should be more like Ryan Babel. After doing nothing at Liverpool for two years Babel has realized it’s either put up or shut up time. It’s heartwarming when a young man can look himself in the mirror and realize he’s crap.

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A Phone Worth More Than Dirk Kuyt



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Don't lose this phone.

Don't lose this phone.

Just what a recession hit football fan needs, a £14,490 mobile phone. But it’s only for Liverpool supporters and they’re only making 250 of them. It’s going to take a whole lot of home invasions to pay for that puppy. Maybe Rafa can use it to call and taunt Fergie.

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Blah, Blah, Blah



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blah

Sorry that we’ve been away for a few days. An illness crept over the Natural Hat Trick offices and we were forced to take a few days off. But we’re back to discuss the news of the football world. And boy is there a lot of talking going on. The usual suspects are involved, as well as some surprising newcomers. And we hoped that you missed us a little bit.

No stranger to the headlines, Alex Ferguson has some things on his mind and he’s going to share them with everyone. Most of the explaining has to do with Manchester United’s dreadful showing in the FA Cup. The supporters are holding Dimitar Berbatov responsible, but Fergie says not so fast. He’s feels the Wembley pitch was more to blame for United’s inept play, and old foe Arsene Wenger agrees with him. What is the world coming to?

The Professor doesn’t agree with Sir Alex’s war of words with Rafa Benitez. The Frenchman believes it should stop and they both need to be quiet. Isn’t that ironic? The pot never seems to tire of calling the kettle black.

Speaking of things that remind me of pots, ‘Facts’ Benitez made headlines this week for not going to a press conference. They truly have become must-see-TV. Luckily for quote starved reporters, assistant Sammy Lee was able to fill in most ably.

If one is to believe The Sun, Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has called out Alan Shearer. I’ve read the quote, and it seems as if The Sun has made something out of nothing. Shocking I know.

It appears that Fulham’s strong season has gone to Chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed’s head. It seems the only thing keeping the Cottagers from becoming the ‘Manchester United of the South’ has been the ‘donkeys’ running the FA. He does invite them to Harrods for lunch so he can serve them for some homegrown stag’s testicles. Now who could refuse that offer?

Joey Barton’s in trouble? Nobody’s favorite bad boy was ticketed recently for not paying his train fare. What a donkey.

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Managerial Tales



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arsenealex

Football managers are special people. One moment they’re defending a completely shitty striker, the next they’re complaining how the schedule is unfair to their club. Basically they’ll say whatever’s necessary to deflect criticism from themselves and their teams. And with this being a Champions League week and the announcement of the PFA awards in England, mangers are double-talking out of both sides of their mouths at a furious rate.

Arsene Wenger is so adept at finding slights around every corner, he should really become a professor and teach a class on the subject. After hearing that five out of the six finalists for the PFA Player of the Year are from Manchester United, the Arsenal gaffer believes that the voting comes too early in the season.  He claims it only rewards those that play well early in the season, and not down the stretch when it matters. That must be the reason why his astonishing young Gooners weren’t nominated for anything. But the old guy isn’t done. He also demands that Arsenal supporters get off their duffs and make the Emirates a fortress. A man can dream can’t he?

Longtime nemesis Alex Ferguson doesn’t necessarily disagree with the Professor’s assertion that the PFA voting may come a tad early. But that doesn’t prevent him from naming Nemanja Vidic his choice for the award and taking a shot at the Frenchman. But Arsene shouldn’t be upset at the dig, Fergie also dished out a little friendly reminder to Cristiano Ronaldo to play better.

What’s that? That’s the sound of another old man from Real Madrid claiming that a secret deal is completed to bring Ronaldo to the Bernabéu. I may not be Spanish but I thought a secret is when not everyone knows something and you don’t hold a press conference to announce it. But that’s just me.

What isn’t a secret is that Newcastle’s nightmare of Championship football is closer to becoming a reality. Ex-Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given thinks that Alan Shearer’s the man to keep them up, but fears he won’t have enough time to save them. I’m sure that the fans are happy to hear that you’re rooting for them after you ran away to Manchester City.

Whatever happens in Newcastle won’t affect Shearer’s legend status. Too bad Bayern München manager Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t getting the same support in Germany.

It you can’t beat ‘em, have ‘em overturn the result. Realizing that they’re probably never going to play in Europe again, Leeds United are asking UEFA to overturn their 1973 European Cup Winners’ Cup final loss to AC Milan. Leeds claims the match was fixed. There’s only one thing to say to that: Get over it, you sad bastards.

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Love And Happiness



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algreen2

‘You be good to me, I’ll be good to you…Walk away with victory.’ Al Green sang those lyrics in his classic song ‘Love and Happiness.’ If I didn’t know he was talking about loving his lady, I’d think he’s singing about footballers. How many times do we hear players talk about being happy at their clubs or how they can feel the love from the fans? Then more often than not they take the money and leave.

Alan Shearer is known for his willingness to speak his mind, and he wasn’t shy in sharing his displeasure with Obafemi Martins’ last minute withdrawal for Saurdurday’s match against Stoke. While some are reporting it to be the end of Martins’ career at Newcastle, others are saying it’s no big deal.

Over at Old Trafford, we won’t have to worry about wunderkind Federico Macheda becoming too big for his britches. It seems everyone from captain Gary Neville to backup goalkeeper Ben Foster will make sure he knows his place. And if that doesn’t work, he’s always free to feel the wrath of Fergie. But he’ll have to wait in line as Cristiano Ronaldo is the latest to displease the boss man. And he’s attempting to piss off Porto as well.

While much is being made about the future of Roman Pavlyuchenko at Tottenham, apparently all he has to do to make Harry Redknapp happy is learn English. After seven months in England, the Russian hasn’t learned any English at all. I don’t understand all the fuss, a lack of English hasn’t kept Harry Redknapp from a successful English career.

Looks like Franck Ribery is Barcelona bound. At least that’s according to Bayern München teammate Mark van Bommel. And I’m sure that’s the last we’ll hear about Ribery leaving Bayern this summer. I wonder if Franck’s getting as upset at all the transfer gossip as David Silva?

Good for John Terry. While he might never get over missing that penalty kick in Moscow, he says he and the rest of Chelsea have finally gotten over Jose Mourinho. It’s all about Guus Hiddink at the west London club these days and they want him to stay. And it looks like Mother Guus doesn’t have much choice in the matter.

What would a derby day in Rome be without a little butt slashing? I think those Ultras definitely could use some love and happiness.

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