Saturday, November 25, 2006

Incredible Hulkenberg!

Updates have been dismal and pathetic, I know, but would you please put the blame down on the A1GP Malaysian race which I’m doing some work on, and which has certainly taken a chunk of my time, energy and grey-cells for the past two weeks.

The rain poured and poured on race day, and to say it was torrential would still almost be an understatement. But all considered it was a good weekend, and even Jeff Ooi and Lensa Malaysia enjoyed it (thanks for the great pics Jeff and Moriazy!)

But out of the puddle and mud emerged a winner who probably had total domination of the race weekend. Keep an eye out on barely legal Nico Hulkenberg, managed by Michael Schumacher's manager Willi Weber, and a certain star of the future.

A 19 year-old with not just incredible skill, but a chilling calm, a good head on his shoulders, and a look in his eye like faraway fires burning. Seeing him drive away from the rest of the field in the soaking wet tarmac of Sepang certainly brought back memories of his compatriot, the rainmeister.

Hulkenberg is certain to emerge as a star in the higher echelons of motor racing in years to come. It isn't a stretch to say he could go on to be Germany's worthy successor to their favourite son.
Alex Yoong finished a creditable seventh, in the same position he qualified in, but three places down from the position he started the race in, which was gained during the earlier sprint race.

Alex lost some battles, and won some battles, and with A1 Team Malaysia now third in the standings behind leaders Germany and Great Britain, the A1GP season is looking good indeed

But before all that, there is still yet another stern test for my beloved Manchester United, after the swing swung back in the UEFA Champions League unfortunate loss on Wednesday. Pick yourself up Louis Saha; we got business to attend to!

On the one hand, this yo-yoing of results would mean we I ought to be optimistic this weekend. On the other hand, however, we’re playing Chelsea. It should be a tight, cagey affair at Old Trafford and I for one wouldn't be suprised with an anti-climatic stalemate.

As long as it keeps us ahead of them, I’ll be happy for now.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea
LIVE from Old Trafford. Sunday, 26th November, 2006. 11:55pm.
Make no mistake about it: This is the match of the week.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Manchester United swing swings both ways

Updated! WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2006
I don't know whether I ought to be ecstatic (that my views are indeed vindicated), or... er, not happy (about the 1-0 defeat to a club 43 bleeding positions below us).

Good... MU 4-0 Bolton
Not good... MU 0-1 FC Copenhagen
Good... MU 3-0 Portsmouth
Even better... Spurs 2-1 Chelsea
Way bad... MU 0-1 Southend

I am - yet again - choosing to be optimistic. The swing will swing back occasionally, and Man Utd were indeed due a crappy performance. Better it comes here than in the Premiership or the Champions League where it really matters I say.

Original post on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2006
Without trying to overstate things, it has been a very, very long time since we saw such precision, energy and purpose from my beloved Manchester United.

Make no mistake about it, all credit should rightly to the Red Devils that at the end of the 90, Bolton - an otherwise solid Premiership team - came away with exactly what they deserved from the game, which was precisely nothing!

AIG means "Ain't I Great, innit?"

Four days after that, however, it was same ol’-same ol’ once again from United against FC Copenhagen. On a night when we should have really wrapped up further participation in the Champions’ League, we instead rested some key players, and accordingly came away with exactly what we deserved from the game, which again, was precisely nothing.

Time then to recall age-old wisdom: the swing swings both ways!

However, in spite of my tendency for cynicism, I am choosing to see the glass as half-full. I expect that the team, and Fergie particularly, will have been given a right royal Danish slap on Wednesday, which in turn should adequately give them the much needed boost to bag nothing less than three points when we host a resurgent Pompeii at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Manchester United vs. Portsmouth
LIVE from Old Trafford. Saturday, 4th November. 11pm.
This is the match of the week.

I am going to stick my neck out even further – and in doing so risk a mother of a jinx – by pointing out what I believe are the three factors contributing to United’s great start this season:

Christiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo was a real pain before the season started, but eventually got with the programme once he felt he wasn’t going anywhere.

I suspect he figured out that it is in his best interest to shut his mouth up instead of stirring problems with the club which would bring his image down deeper post WC2006, and his value together with it.

The last thing he wants is to be in the shoes of Ashley Cole. So for now, Ronaldo is going to behave. And so far, he’s behaving pretty well.

Nemanja Vidic
Rooney’s finishing against Bolton was clinical, and he scored three magnificent ‘striker goals’. And there are a number of players in the United team that are starting to really look the part.

But for me, one of the most encouraging components of late has been Nemanja Vidic. I have been heard to moan and groan over the past few years about our total mess of a central defense, but in Vidic we finally have a centreback of steel and intelligence. He is starting to really hook up well with Rio (who himself has got his act together). Its finally looking like we have found our Jaap Stam once again.

The power of S3
The 3 S’s are none other than Scholes, Saha and Solksjaer. All have been in fine form over the past weeks. Saha is starting to remind us of the striker we bought from Fulham some seasons ago, and credit to Fergie for his patience and loyalty to him, which the Frenchman is only too eager to repay.

Scholes has always been the class of the field. Understated, hardworking and averse to all the glitter and glamour that besiege modern British players, he is a typical Ferguson player (others include Keane, Robson, Bruce and Hughes) – solid, focused and interested in only doing his talking on the field.

But the class has to be our dear King Ole! Despite being injured for two years, he looks as classy as ever, and is perhaps the world’s best Super Sub. And he does it all with grace, humility and charm. No wonder he's called the smiling assassin.

Long may he live at Old Trafford!