Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Benny sighting....

Actually, make that two Benny Feilhaber 1sightings. After a month of inactivity, Benny not only made the team in Derby's last two EPL matches, but actually entered both games!

After a short 9 minute appearance against Newcastle on December 23, Benny came off the bench and played the entire second half in a 2-1 Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool. The available accounts of the Liverpool game offer little, if any, appraisal of Benny's performance. Nonetheless it is good to see him getting into some matches, and with Derby's current injury woes and the holiday fixture glut that is the EPL, Benny should get more playing time in the coming months, especially since it appears Derby's fate is all but sealed so they might as well figure out what they've got for next year.

Monday, December 10, 2007


'Twas a fine, fine weekend for a Bobby Convey, who appears to be nicely rounding back into form after last year's injury woes. And, mercy, what good timing for the national team, after DMB just went down with (what else?) a serious knee injury.

First, some good karma gets publicized as the public learns of the time Bobby regularly spends at the children's ward at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Then, Bobby starts in the left midfield (ah, the comfortable left!) against Liverpool, and has an absolute whale of a game. Reading went on to win 3-1. Bobby had one clear assist; and another one-touch pass that led to a PK. He was excellent on the left all day, and had his blistering rocket of a shot from about 20 yards in the first half been about a foot lower (and, thus right smack in the upper right corner), this would have been a career performance. Good for Bobby. And I'm breathing a little easier now regarding our left flank on the national team.

Monday, December 3, 2007

How the mighty have fallen

Okay, maybe Real Betis doesn't count among the ranks of the "mighty", but the Balompie Blog's favorite La Liga team has certainly taken a tumble from the lofty heights it reached as recently as the 2004/05 season

Sitting next-to-last in the league, having lost another coach and without any marquee players, Betis will have quite a struggle just to stay up for another year.

Slurpo-san thinks it all goes back to the ill-fated 2005/06 Champions League season. While Betis managed to knock off Chelsea in Sevilla (a game Slurpo-san and Scott-o attended!!), Betis never really had a chance to move past a loaded group that also included Liverpool. The strain of UCL football for a squad blessed with little depth proved too much as Betis slumped out of the group stage and struggled for the entire La Liga season. Other "small" clubs have suffered similar fates--recall Everton in the Champs League in 2005. That team didn't even make the group stage and then struggled to finish 11th in the EPL. Further evidence that UCL football can be both a blessing and a curse--yes, it brings additional revenue, but unless you have a large and capable squad, you run the risk of being stretched too thin and failing at both, rather than trying to succeed at one.

Here's hoping legendary Betis owner Lopera brings in a solid coach and opens his wallet in January to give the team an infusion of talent that will save them from the drop.