Monday, December 8, 2008

Things we learnt 1

We’re hoping that this will be pretty much a weekly round-up of learnings we make over a weekend of sporting action, to be shared with the populace as early as possible on Monday morning (ahem kinda late today). This weekend Jumpthefence has taken on board…

1 Something IS up with Cristiano Ronaldo
Okay, we were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for the ongoing (and increasing it seems) petulance and general consternation every time someone dares tackle him. We put the lack of smiliness down to inconsistent form and frustration with same. We let that stupid handball go and blamed it away on lack of concentration/ bad luck/ just the wrong call at the wrong time. But we watched the Sunderland game on Saturday and couldn’t help be disgusted by him. (By the by, so-called experts, since when did sticking 11 men behind the ball in the most blatant act of defensive football I’ve ever witnessed – I’ve seen more ambition in a couch-ridden, pot-smoking, dole-queueing former schoolmate – constitute a “brave” performance that “didn’t deserve its cruel ending?” Nobody’s deserved defeat more since that 12-year old who lost to Leona Lewis on X-factor.) Simply put, Ronaldo didn’t fancy the clipping he was getting around the ankles from Phil Bardsley every time he got possession. He strolled around, gave ball away time and again, showed no real conviction or pace about what he was doing and looked like someone who was believing too much hype, didn’t really want to actually have to perform and certainly didn’t want to be where he was. Then he decided he’d had enough and walked off. It’s the first time I’ve come round to thinking perhaps his heart really isn’t in Man Utd anymore. As Gilesy said on RTE later, watch this space.

2 Manny Pacquiao is the real deal (subtitle – Oscar De La Hoya is gone)
Jumpthefence recalls coming across this Filipino scrapper around the time he clashed with another great, Marco Antonio Barrera, a few years ago and thinking he was indeed a truly top fighter. Since then, he’s seen off Barrera (twice), another Mexican legend in Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez (twice also), Oscar Larios and now Oscar De La Hoya. He’s fought at three different weights this year alone. He’s outboxed, outfought, outworked, outthought and blitzed opponents when the needs arose; basically he’s won every which way he’s had to. He’s only lost three times in his career and two of those losses were very early on. He’s got the speed and agility of Prince Naseem Hamed but more heart and brains. On Saturday night he outpunched and eventually wore down a guy who’s naturally far bigger. When people questioned his punching power at higher weights, he whopped Marquez. He fights for his country more than ego or money. He’s now coming after either Ricky Hatton (he’d have far far too much for Hatton) or Floyd Mayweather (fight of the decade time?). Check him out if you get the chance.
As the subplot, De La Hoya’s days are certainly numbered, with so many losses in recent times. And you could question the greatness of Pacquiao’s achievements by pointing out his opponent’s weaknesses. But it was the complete dismantling job done by Pacquiao that was so impressive here.

3 EVERYBODY’S got an opinion on Roy the boy
Jumpthefence could well have spent the whole weekend reading/ listening to people’s opinions on Keane and still had leftover material for Monday evening and the interesting matter is how so many can differ in their basic approach to the story. The Sindo predictably had a bit of a go (Richard Sadlier’s never been slow to throw stories around about Keane and John O’Brien put the boot in as well). David Walsh was fairly sympathetic in the Times while Simon Barnes was, well, harsh. Tom Humphries has been largely in the same boat as always. Giles on the Premiership (or whatever it’s called these days) reckoned it all came down to the lack of quality signings. Kieran Shannon made an interesting piece in the Tribune, commenting on the lack of leaders Keane had brought in. Some of the theories as to where it went wrong included: crap manager; no people skills; awful signings; isolated personality; no trust between players/ Keane; basic psychological flaw in man himself; quitter; no coaching abilities; unable to put up with modern game/ modern players; no wish to be involved with relegation scrap; lack of love for game; crippling self-doubt. Some wished he’d return, some said he’d be better off not, some said he definitely won’t, some said he wouldn’t be able to stay away. Jumpthefence has already had his say but would be most inclined to think it was down to problems in Keane’s head rather than his abilities or heart. But if nothing else, Keane has shown once again that no matter what we all think, nobody has a bull’s notion what’s really going on in that mind when he walks Triggs.

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