Thursday, October 26, 2006

The toppermost of the poppermost

We have always associated being on top as something good. Being on top of the world is what an elated person might say. Being on top of a situation means being in control. Some would say the politics of the bedroom is about who is - and often who isn't - on top.

There was a famous conversation that The Beatles were reported to have had early in their career: John Lennon asked the other three, "Where are we going lads?"

They replied, "To the top, Johnny."
"How far on top?" asked John.
"To the toppermost of the poppermost," came the reply.

Arms, heads and spirits are starting to rise at Old Trafford

Three months ago I would have never thought my beloved Man Utd would be sitting on top of the table at this point of the season. As all Man Utd starts go, this season saw the Red Devils sprint off the blocks with a near perfect start. The draw against Reading and the loss against Arsenal notwithstanding, Man Utd certainly aren't doing as badly as I initially thought they would be.

The pre-season threw up all measure of doubt: I was cynical at first, then I started believing, then my faith faltered again... and again, then I suddenly started believing.

I'm starting to believe big time now. Watching them blow a hapless Liverpool out of the waters of Old Trafford - and make no mistake about it, Liverpool were thoroughly outclassed last Sunday - was certainly very, very easy on the eye.

If its true what they say that this Man Utd team are yet to hit their peak this season, then the fans have got much reason to be optimistic. The old boys like Scholes, Giggs, Solksjaer and Neville are remnants from seasons gone when this team know nothing but winning; it is deeply encouraging to see them lead the charge this year.

Rooney hasn't found his form yet, but despite this seeming 'crisis' people are scoring from almost every position. Ferdinand, Vidic, Fletcher, and even dear ol' Johnny O' Shea have pipped in with goals.

Contrast that with a Liverpool or Andrei Shevchenko, why don't you?

A Reebok pumping
Still, the true test for Premiership or Champions League aspirants awaits Man Utd this weekend: away to Bolton. Any team who wants to stand up and be counted must be able to come away from the Reebok with a result.

More than Old Trafford or Anfield, and certainly more than Stamford Bridge, it is a Bolton team at home which have scuppered the ambitions of probable league leaders before. They have been the bane / Archilles heel / banana skin of many a good team. This game will be no different.

Bolton Wanderers vs. Manchester United.
LIVE from the Reebok Stadium. Saturday, 28th October. 10pm. This is the match of the week.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An opportunity to focus

...not for the sportsmen who will hold my attention for the next few days, but rather for myself, since I'm planning to devoting much of my time over the next week's holidays tuning in to enjoy some very exciting sporting occasions:

1. Man Utd v Liverpool - here's hoping the table topping winning streak continues, or failing that, a bloody good game for all of us to savour;

2. The F1 Brazilian GP - I have profound respect for Michael Schumacher, but I'm not looking forward to seeing him on the top step of the podium this weekend. He's certainly good enough for it though, mind you... but I'd rather see him go off quietly, than bask in the a glow of glory that he has frankly overstayed. Statistically the best driver the sport as seen; whether he is the greatest is certainly up to debate, and I certainly count Senna, Prost and Fangio above him.

Ta-ra Mikey... I'll try not to miss you
Enjoy the festival of lights, and eid-ul-fitr!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Amsterdam, as expected, was a blast. It was a welcome difference watching a Champions League match over dinner, instead of waking up in the dead of the morning as we do over here.

The match in question was Liverpool v Galatasaray, and the Turkish and Greek community in Amsterdam turned up in full force to vent their worldly frustrations on the British team (any British team will do, I'm told). At 3-2 though, I thought Istanbul - Part Deux was on the cards. Sadly, Liverpool and Peter Crouch deeply disappointed us all that night.

There is obviously more to Amsterdam than the Red Light District, and the Noveau Hash Bars ("Hash is legal there, right?" "Yeah, it's legal, but it ain't a 100% legal..."). The cycling crowd, for example, is a sight to behold. It is estimated that 150,000 bicycles enter Amsterdam every day. Bank managers in their Italian suits cycle. Prada-wearing blondes off to their designer jobs cycle. Policemen, postmen and other Dutchmen cycle. Anyone heading within 5 miles of their destination cycle - daytime, or after sunset. It simply is the most efficient way of getting about town.

A common denominator of all things Amsterdam is that most everything is narrow - houses, streets, buildings, walkways, alleys... everything but their state of mind(which is evidently very broad). Buildings that look no more than 50 feet in breadth look like this on the inside:

Still, spending afternoons strolling parts of Amsterdam with its canals, churches, bicycles and windows aplenty was an experience indeed. The A1 GP race at Zandvoort was a real blast, with 85,000 Dutchmen in their orange garb adding a bit of tangy zest into the atmosphere. And to top it all off, we had invites to the swankiest club in town on one of the nights, to watch folks like Danni Minogue, Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, and Ruud Gullit shimmer by (with their 6'6" Dutch bodyguards).

So all in all, it was a 'Dam' nice trip. Of course, no post is complete without a cursory reference ti my beloved Manchester United, and boy, isn't it awesome to see this fella scoring again!