"You Can't Buy Class"
---Fan sign at Emirates Stadium from Arsenal fans to Manchester City.
Back in November 2011 at Old Trafford, Manchester City owned their cross town rivals Manchester United in a stomping that had me convinced this may be the year Man City would take the trophy and roll top flight of the Premiership. I guess that's why they say a season in Premiere Football is a marathon, not a sprint.
Today the Gunners (possibly) put the lights out for Man City with an 87th minute goal and thus gave "Manny U" their (possible) 20th League Championship. There are a few weeks left in the 2011-12 season, but when we look back the story of the season won't be about Manchester United's 20th championship, but the collapse and fall of the team who had everything: Manchester City. The Carlos Tevez incident,Mario Balotelli's mental switch both on and off the pitch, Roberto Mancini's managerial style, and the lack of cohesion inside the locker room and on the field are the things that poisons any team on any level.
From the start of the match Arsenal, led by Robin Van Persie, attacked, played aggressively both sides of the pitch, and had focus on what they wanted to do. Truth be told it looks like Arsenal, Chelsea, and Totteham are the teams deserved to move into the top four of the table. Meanwhile, Man City looked like the most overly talented team in the Premiership that should be a cellar dweller. Does this mean that Mancini's days as a manager in the league numbered? It seems like he's lost the locker room, lost the focus of the team, and have a poison in the locker room that needs to be burned off or sent away before it wrecks a storied club.
Balotelli's 'Crazy Train' !
I get so many "list" articles from Bleacher Reports on one thing or another. The one list headline catching my attention came from writer Amber Lee titled "25 Athletes Who Absolutely Lost Their Minds". A headline like that to me is like sitting through three hours of "Most Dumbest..." on Tru TV. So I went through name after name judging them based on whether they were certifiably crazy or whether if there was any hope of them gaining their mind back. Top of the list is Manchester City's own Mario Balotelli. I knew early on when I started watching Man City I knew he gave the most dominating stare down I've ever seen a soccer player give to any goalie. Soon I realized what many in the soccer world know about the man: HE'S CRAZY!
Looking up his many antics Balotelli makes Chad Ochocinco and Terrel Owens look like well behaved Mormon missionaries out for a tour. Check out the wrap sheet on him:
Crashing his Maserati into a woman's prison...on purpose!!
Throwing darts at young soccer players (no REAL darts).
Had his car impounded 27 times.
The sad part about all of this is his antics has taken away the quality of his game.
As of this writing, Sky News reported that Mancini has had enough and is considering sending Balotelli out of Man City once the Summer Transfer season begins. What a sad way to exit off the field. His personal attitude and volatile behavior is so bad it broke the locker room, destroyed any chance of championship, and the hopes of many Man City fans to actually see their club get the thing their cross town rivals take for granted. The real question is whether Balotelli will ever get any club to pick him up on any level following his meltdown in the Premier League?
Red Bull Rising
Well, that was ugly!
So, we're at the game and took in the atmosphere and enjoyment of Crew Stadium. Got to meet one of the good folks involved with Massive Report and hope to connect again soon at a podcast recording.
I had a bad feeling the Crew defense was going to be an open draw bridge to the goal for most of the game. Needless to say my bad feelings came to pass with 3 minutes into the first half. By halftime it didn't look any better with another 45 minutes to go. The substitution of Dilly Duka into the game (his first start since his injury back when Montreal was in town) gave great energy and boosted the attack on the net. It was great until the 75th minute. My reason: I had my sweethearts work badge in my coat pocket!
She's in Dayton, I'm in Columbus. You do the math!
So I got on I-70 to learn from her that the Crew scored a goal thanks to our captain Chad Marshall's header. But then a minute after the goal Red Bulls (and Arsenal) great Thierry Henry scored the clincher.
I don't blame Henry or Cooper (who should get equal billing for the attack on the Crew's defense) because after yesterday's performance at all. Baring injury, I think they are one of the teams to beat in the East. Hopefully the Crew will get some major answers either in the next few games or the summer transfer season to answer the defensive and midfield questions if they want to make a serious run for a spot in the playoff picture. With a record of 2-2-0 in this young season its a "not bad" grade, but will have to get better down the stretch as some of the better Western teams like Houston and Vancouver comes to town.
You mean The Crew has a Flagship Station?
So in the rush of getting back to Dayton to get my love her work badge it finally dawned on me that a) I have a radio and b) I can get an AM signal to get WTVN-AM. So I did and caught the post-game show. Neil Sika gave the grim task of giving the post-modem of the Crew's stats for the day and this one number jumped out to me:
Passing: Crew 352-Red Bulls 502
That alone should make any team in the MLS shudder.
When a club like the Red Bulls can pass and possess the ball in the way they did in the First Half it is scary. I wish my daughter's team could pass the ball that well in her games It's a blue print on how to dominate during a game. But hats off to the guys at WTVN for saying what most fans knew all around: the Crew's defense needs a new wall STAT!
Media—More than Bells and Whistles
So many times the general public thinks of media as traditional outlets (i.e. TV, radio, etc.) and the social media outlets. We get thrilled with flat screen TV's, LED boards on the field, and any type of gizmo to get the word out about the Crew and soccer in general.
Despite all those great outlets the best medium that fans can provide is your own experience of what a Crew game is like. Family, friends,co-workers or just people on the street, the personal interactions of the public describing why following and supporting the Crew is a great thing.
One of the great things happening is a movement on Twitter to invite a friend or family member to a game. Buy a ticket, or encourage them to come out and catch a game and see what its like. This is great on many levels! The front office main job is getting the tickets out, filling the seats, gaining long time fans, and promote the team. Nothing else works better to help out the front office than to be your own little FOP—Front Office Person to get the word out.
What? No Crew kits in size 3X??
My day job takes me around Central and Southern Ohio delivering just about everything to our customers around the region. I get to go into high rises and in country areas meeting people from all walks of life. Every so often I get a chance to walk into a store or shopping area to find out what is popular in the region. Since my interest is Crew gear and trinkets I look at a few places to get my hands on it other than at Crew Stadium and Dick's Sporting Goods.
So imagine my surprise when I walk into stores like Mejier or Target to find out if they have any local team wear available. Lots and lots of OSU stuff, no problem; lots of Bengals and Browns stuff; Indians and Reds stuff, wonderful; Blue Jackets stuff is there too, yeah!
SO, WHERE'S THE CREW STUFF BUB???
Not one thing. No key chains, t-shirts, kits, socks, ear muffs, scarfs, or anything remotely attached to Columbus Crew. What gives?
I found out this weekend that Marshall's and T.J. Maxx has Crew stuff when its in stock. Also, many of the supporter groups have great T-shirts for fans available as well (THANKS CREW UNION). But I think Crew fans—in and out of Columbus—should give a call to these major stores chains and start demanding they give the Crew their light of day. After all these years, and a Championship to boot, you'd think they could give a guy some options to show support.
That's all I have for the moment. I'm going to try and make it to the next podcast of the Massive Report so I can scare the masses and prove I'm for real. Also, I'd like to join other soccer fans and watch a match while downing some brews and having some brunch.
The Crew is away this coming weekend at Philly; I think they will win this one because Philly just doesn't look like they have all their pieces needed to be a serious threat in the Eastern Conference.
The following week is what I'm looking forward to as the Crew faces Houston.
Get stoked! Get Ready! Get Massive folks.