Archive for La Liga

Essien ready to play for “daddy”

Michael Essien’s shock deadline-day move to Real Madrid came as a surprise to many, including the man himself. The Ghanaian midfielder however, admits that it was a welcome surprise as the move sees him re-united with the man he refers to as “daddy”— Jose Mourinho.

Essien who is fondly nicknamed ‘The Bison’ because of his powerful physical presence was originally signed by Jose Mourinho for Chelsea in 2005.

Essien describes Mourinho as being “like a father to him” and he proved he meant it by repeatedly calling his manager “daddy” during his press conference.

Reuters reports:

“Daddy (Mourinho) knows me very well, he brought me to Chelsea, and he knows I can play in any position he wants – except goalkeeper.”

Everything went very fast and I was in my hotel room and I had a call from my daddy and he said he would be very happy to have me at the club,” he said.

“I never thought I would end up here. I was focused on Chelsea and I didn’t know that Real Madrid would make a bid for me.

“When Mourinho calls it’s more than enough. All I want to do is play football and when he rang me I said yes immediately.

“When I arrived he was at the airport. We were really happy to see each other and I am really looking forward to starting playing and enjoying the football.”

Essien called Mourinho “daddy” not less than 10 times during the press conference. The twittersphere has been abuzz since with views fluctuating between the endearment being “awesome” to it being “the creepiest thing ever”.

Whatever the view, Essien’s press conference does shed light on perhaps why so many managers have tried but failed at Chelsea since Mourinho.

The Special One with his strange ways, from making the players believe he is their father to praising them in the shower, really had worked a magical spell on the Chelsea players.

Essien believes that he has put a series of serious injuries behind him and is ready to fight for a place in the La Liga side.

“If I wasn’t ready Real Madrid would not have brought me here,” he says.

Real Madrid’s start to the season hasn’t been spectacular. They have taken only one point from their opening two matches and they know that they are going to have to do a lot better if they are to win a second consecutive La Liga tile.

I guess we’ll find out if  “daddy” knows best.

Happy Father’s Day everyone.

If you fancy some mathematical stimulation, here’s the video.

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Sergio Ramos: A star is born

Sergio Ramos, the man whose exploits alone could provide life long fodder for the meme community, has yet again proven that he is a man of many talents. It turns out the golden locked wonder, who likes throwing trophies off  the top of high buses, can sing.

In a recent video published on the official La Liga YouTube channel, the Real Madrid defender successfully crooned alongside Flamenco singer Canelita.

On the other hand, Swindon Town manager, Paolo Di Canio, restored the football-musical talent balance when he went onstage to sing the chorus to British band  Toploader’s hit song ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’.

The band were doing a concert at The Country Ground as a part of the the celebrations for Swindon Town winning the League Two title.

The Robins’ manager could probably blame all the shouting at the referees for his performance.

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Real Madrid win: Ronaldo faux pas

In a record breaking season, Real Madrid claimed their 32nd La Liga title with two games to spare. The Spanish giants, who have lost only two games this season, still have a chance to surpass Barcelona’s record of highest points scored in a season. They have already broken the previous La Liga record of goals scored in a season and are sitting pretty with a 115 goals.

For Jose Mourinho too, this has been a milestone season. He was hired with the specific brief of defeating Barcelona. A job he has done exceptionally well. This is Madrid’s first title under the ‘special one’ and with it he has won league titles in four different countries. A feat accomplished by only three other managers – Ernst Happel, Giovanni Trapattoni and Tomislav Ivic.

While Real Madrid made history, Cristiano Ronaldo made a fool of himself.

Ronaldo, who has scored 44 of the 115 Madrid goals this season, also scored in their win 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao which sealed the title for them. But in true Ronaldo style, being just a hero was too much for the Portuguese who couldn’t let bygones be bygones.

It happened when Javi Martinez, who was sent off in the 72nd minute for his second handball, dared to come up to Ronaldo just as Madrid were starting to celebrate after the final whistle blew.

Ronaldo, celebrating his first title in Spain and the fourth of his career, shouted at Martinez and gave him the “shove it” gesture and then continued celebrating with his teammates.

So much for classy winners and losers.

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Real Madrid Unveil Jose Mourinho as the New Manager

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It is typical of the man. He just puts his past behind him and looks ahead with hope and confidence verging on audacity. Jose Mourinho wrote a heartfelt goodbye letter to thank Serie A giants Inter saying Inter will always be in his heart and moved on to his new club Real Madrid. Less than two weeks later walking past the last European cup, in the trophy room at Real Madrid, he disclosed that the president said he missed this years’ Champion’s Trophy. Mourinho said, “I replied I only won my last one 10 days ago and I miss that too.”

Its the end of the football season in Madrid, so it comes as no surprise that Real Madrid are looking to sign on stars and a new manager. They hit the jackpot with Jose Mourinho, the star-manager who was unveiled as the new Real Madrid coach at a presentation in the Satiago Bernabeu press room on Monday.

Real Madrid haven’t won the Champions League since 2002 despite having spent millions of euros season after season. Last summer the Spanish club spent €252 million on stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso but failed to win any silverware.

The past two seasons, Real Madrid have lost the La Liga title to their biggest rivals Barcelona and this year they failed to make it past the round of 16 in the Champions League. This was even more disappointing since the final was hosted at their home ground.

Jose Mourinho however won the Champions League trophy at Bernabeu and in less than a week has made it his top priority to lead his new club to European glory. He said, “I don’t know if I was born to coach Real Madrid but I was born to be a football coach. I love important challenges. I am Jose Mourinho and I don’t change. I arrive with all my qualities and my defects.

“My attraction to Real Madrid is due to its history, its frustrations in recent years and its expectations to win.” Real, he said, is a unique club and he believed that not to coach Real left a void in a coach’s career. “Luckily, I’ve had a beautiful career and it makes me proud to have come here.I am very enthusiastic. I want my players to think that way. The beauty is not so much to train or play at Real, but to win at Real Madrid.” Mourinho said

Jose Mourinho becomes Real’s 11th coach in the past seven years and it will be his greatest test yet. He takes on a team full of superstars and very demanding fans, where failure is unacceptable. But he also has chance to create history by becoming the first man to win the Champions League with three different clubs and proving yet again that he is the ‘Special One’.

Article first published as Real Madrid Unveil Jose Mourinho as the New Coach on Technorati.

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Barcelona and Real Madrid – Saviours or Destroyers of La Liga?

La Liga is one of the football’s most exciting domestic leagues. So it is easy to see how the news of the indebtedness of the league in which footballing giants like Real Madrid and Barcelona play would make a football fan cringe.

According to a study carried out by Professor Jose Maria Gay of the University of Barcelona, it was revealed that La Liga’s debts have grown and at are at an all time high of  €3.53 billion (£3.03 billion) this year.

The study also revealed that of the 20 clubs that play in La Liga,  the  top two clubs in terms of exposure and income – Real Madrid and Barcelona – and the relegated Numacia made an operating profit.

The reason for this imbalance it seems are player wages, which are said to have made up  85% of the total operating cost of the clubs. In many clubs like Valencia, Sevilla and Atlético Madrid the outgoings on wages were way higher than the income.

The issue of  player wages driving clubs into debt becomes increasingly disturbing when you hear about Barcelona latest purchase of David Villa for £34.2 million and the anticipated signing of Cesc Fabregas for a similar amount, showing that the top clubs have no intention of curbing their spending.

Another fact adding to the imbalance is probably the fact that unlike English Premier League clubs who have a collective television deal with the broadcast income being divided equally among the 20 clubs depending on the number of  appearances and final league position, the Spanish clubs negotiate their own media deals. This once again means that top two – Barcelona and Real Madrid get the best deals. They were able to rake in Barcelona half of their incomes from media rights.

With more income coming in from media deals and exposure, the top two have much more spending power than the rest of the league. This in turn makes it possible for them to pay whatever it takes to bring the player they want to their club, raising the wage-rate higher for the entire league and thus pushing the others further into debt. It also makes the league lopsided, as was seen this season with Barcelona beating Real Madrid to La Liga title by three points, and Valencia finishing a distant third, 28 points behind the champions.

La Liga’s problems are further highlighted by the fact that Real Mallorca, a club which only narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Champions League on the final day of the season and finished 5th in La Liga had to file for voluntary administration after failing to find buyer  to take on their €85m debt.

Jose Gay who feels the current model is unsustainable warns that the league would be in “death throes”. “Barça and Madrid will have to make an effort, sacrificing today so the league can flourish”, he added.

It looks like it is time Barcelona and Real Madrid sat down and watched Spiderman, the movie… ” with great power, comes great responsibility.”

Article first published as Spanish Game in Crisis as La Liga Debts Soar on Technorati.

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The Cutest Mascot … Yeah?

I have often had the whole, premier-league-being-better-than-the-Spanish League’ debate with my friends and always reminded them quite smugly how when we take the quality on display of all the clubs in the EPL and then compare it to the La Liga, we are far superior. The number of English clubs making the semi-finals and finals of the Champions League has been my key weapon for silencing the critics of the English League who think that the premier league is not as exciting. (oh lord, forgive them for the know no better!). But the other day I found something where, the Spanish clubs have quite clearly outdone their English counterparts. Watch the video to see Real Valladolid’s new recruit. They desperately wanted to beat Valencia and took the old saying that, ‘ if you want to beat Valencia, recruit a circus bear,’ quite literally. Too bad, it didn’t work, but you gotta give it to the Spanish for knowing how to have a ‘bear of a time’!

Stamford the Lion, you are still the cutest but this bear puts up quite a fight… yeah?

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