Heyyyy guys! Welcome back to another Coffee Update. This is where we grab a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate, as the climate seems to demand, and I talk to you about what’s up with my life right now. A bit of a vlog in a written form, if you will.
So grab a cuppa and settle down!
If we were having coffee right now, firstly, I would tell you that I can totally NOT get over this song, at all. I’ve played it, like 47 times in the last 5 days. Maybe an exaggeration, but that’s as accurate as it gets. The song’s too goddamn catchy. Ed Sheeran never ceases to surprise me. Go check it out if you haven’t heard it already! Here, I’ll just give it to you:
If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you that I’ve created another place for myself to write! Some of you may have seen a couple of football-related posts on this blog. I realised that this isn’t exactly the place for those kind of posts, but I do have a great interest in football and, as it appears, some people think I write well about football. So I decided to create The United Writer! It is a blog where I write about football and Manchester United Football Club.
It’s hardly been about three/four months since I started the blog, but its already allowed me to get in touch with some great people in the football-related media community and interacting with others in a field of your interest is always a great experience. For example, the owner of one of the biggest football fan accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, got in touch with me, since (I assume) he probably liked my work. Now I write with him on his website! The name is Man United Zone, and you can check it out by clicking here: Man United Zone
I’m really happy with where I am, and I look forward to growing more, and in that quest, I can use all the help I get!
If we were having coffee right now, I’d briefly tell you about what’s going on with me academically. I had my exams for the first semester of my Bachelor’s course at college about a month back. We got the results for that, just today. I’m not happy with the amount of effort I put in, preparing for the exams. We haven’t received a cumulative grade yet, but going by the individual subject grades I’ve got, I’m pretty sure I’ll make an A, I’m hoping they bump me up to A+. Yes, regrets. Powerful thing, no?
I haven’t done particularly badly, but I’m going to try and not make the same mistakes again. I tend to do that sometimes, and I really don’t like it when I do.
If we were having coffee right now, I’d talk to you about Sherlock for a little bit. Holy shit, Cumbersandwich you beautiful, beautiful man! What an absolute gem this show has been. It seems pretty clear they’ve prepared for the end, and this was probably it. I think it’s a great end to a great show, and it would seem unnatural to drag it on further. It was a pleasure. I shall miss the two year long waits for new seasons.
If we were having coffee right now, I’d just like to thank you. For being here, reading and listening, with us separated only by something as trivial as a digital screen and maybe a few hundred miles, at the most.
I write because I like to share my thoughts here. Right now, I appreciate anybody who’s reading this, and even those who choose not to.
So, well, that’s what’s up! You are now officially updated with some of the stuff I’m dealing with at the moment! It was great catching a quick coffee with you peoples, I’ll see you soon.
Its Coffee Update time again! Getting tired of coffees? Well, then there’s a table by the corner with seven different kinds of teas and sixteen different types of other drinks, aerated and non-aerated. All non-alcoholic of course.
Pleasantries out of the way, let’s get down to it. Let me update you with stuff over a nice cup of…whatever it is that you have chosen to drink.
If we were having<insert drink here> right now, I’d tell you that I watched Neerja yesterday. Neerja is an adaptation of true events, about Neerja Bhanot, an Indian air hostess working for Pan Am. She saved over 300 people following a terrorist hijacking in Karachi, Pakistan, at the cost of her own life. It isn’t a documentary per se, and they’ve altered a few of the minor plot points I guess, but regardless of that is a pretty heartwarming and at the same time gut-wrenching movie to watch. Its about Neerja Bhanot’s spirit, courage, and above all, her commitment to her job, her duty, of serving the passengers of the plane. I’d recommend it to anybody who’s reading this.
If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you that 50% of my Boards are done. I wrote my economics paper yesterday and that was the third of the six subjects I have. I’ve got Philosophy up next on the 4th of March, a long break up until Psychology on the 17th and then Logic to wind things up on the 21st. But it feels good there are three textbooks that I won’t be needing now.
If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell those of you that don’t already know, that I am a big football fan and a really big Manchester United follower. All you need to see is the wall by my desk. I’ve got tons of posters of the Class of ’92, Sir Alex Ferguson, Anthony Martial, Cristiano Ronaldo, David de Gea and what not. So, naturally, when there’s a Manchester United event in the city, like the I Love United event today (which includes an interaction session with United legends David May, Denis Irwin and Louis Saha and a live match screening of the Manchester United v Arsenal Premier League match later today, among other things), I’ll try my best to go. Unfortunately, studying for the Boards, I came across this information a little too late yesterday evening as I’m finding it difficult to find tickets to it, so I guess its next year for me. Oh, well.
If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you I am unbearably pumped for all the TV action that’s coming our way. Suits wraps up its fifth season on the 3rd of March, and if the penultimate episode that aired on the 25th February is anything to go by, its going to be a hell of a season finale. House of Cards returns with a fourth season on the 4th of March and then later that month we also get Daredevil season 2. Amazing. On the DC front, The Flash is going great guns with their second season and the Arrow is not too bad either until now, so that’s something to look forward to as well. All in all, been a great year on the entertainment front so far, and its just getting started (quite literally as well).
If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you that I recently watched a TED talk and it was just plain hilarious. I mean, on another level it was genius, but the guy presenting it was just awesome at the job. It may be a little long, but its time you won’t regret having spent on it. You can check it out below.
If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you that I just finished watching the first six Star Wars movies a few days back. I’ve wanted to do it for a while but didn’t get time to do it like many do it: marathons. Instead I had to do it incrementally. One movie a time. That did give me time to think about each one, though, and I guess that’s a good thing. To me, the original trilogy was definitely better than the prequel trilogy, the way it is for many, but I would have still needed to watch the prequel trilogy to understand it all, regardless of whether they could have been made better. Now I can’t wait to watch The Force Awakens.
Whelp, that’s about all I’ve got for this coffee update! I hope you guys enjoyed getting to know a bit more about me and what I’ve been up to recently.
Pre-season is over, new players have come in, old ones have left, and the League is back in business with Manchester United, just like last year, playing the first match of the season, this time against Tottenham Hotspur at the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford. So let’s have a long, hard look at Manchester United, and assess how good they truly are in this season preview. The last time Manchester United met Tottenham Hotspur, United ran out 3-0 winners, with all three goals coming in the first half itself, owing to some shambolic defending from the Spurs. Michael Carrick set up the first goal for Marouane Fellaini to score, Fellaini set up the second goal for Carrick to score, and for the third, Wayne Rooney pounced on a defensive error and ran through the middle of the park to slot one past a helpless Hugo Lloris. That victory set in motion two more hugely morale-boosting victories against Liverpool away and Manchester City in the derby after which United ended the season in 4th place, a bare necessity after ‘that season’. A few months on, many players have left the club and many have come in. Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Matteo Darmian and Sergio Romero are the biggest names to have come in, and it looks like United are not quite done in the transfer window just yet with just a little less than a month to go till it shuts for the summer. Moving on to that assessment I talked about earlier.
Let’s start by looking at the players who have come in and lets see how good they are, how good they can be and what can we expect of them this season.
United announced the signing of Memphis Depay much before the transfer window had opened, and understandably so. There were a lot of clubs vying for Depay’s signature because of the immense talent that he has. Depay is a very versatile Dutch player who can play as a left winger, central attacking midfielder and even a striker. I reckon he has the skillset to play on the right wing as well but since he hasn’t played there much before, it would be wise to keep him where he’s best. Memphis, as he likes to be called (even his jersey says Memphis and not Depay), had a prolific campaign with his former club PSV Eindhoven last season where he scored 28 goals in 40 appearances. This is even more astounding when you learn that Depay was only 20 then. So immense is his talent, that he has been compared to the likes of Arjen Robben and Cristiano Ronaldo. In his unveiling as a Manchester United player, he said he sees himself as a striker. That is one position United definitely need some backup for Wayne Rooney. Having said that, I believe Wayne Rooney can go on to have a great season as a goalscorer this time around. In Javier Hernandez we have a fairly good backup, who, with the right push can be good for us when called upon. In James Wilson we have a potentially world-class talent and he needs game time and confidence with him and he can be a great striker too. Memphis Depay would definitely be a better goalscorer if placed up front, but at PSV he was used as an inverted left winger of sorts who cut in through the left wing, onto his right foot on which he is strong, and scored goals, and that is what he can be used as at United as well. Louis van Gaal tried that for a bit with Angel Di Maria last season but it didn’t work because Di Maria didn’t have the strength to cut in to the middle and dance past the tough English defenders, but Memphis is strong enough for it. Coming onto expectations, I think we can expect Memphis to settle into life at United well, and I can see him getting quite a few goals and assists for us even though its only his first season here.
Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger
United desperately needed a balanced defensive midfielder like Carrick, somebody who is reliable defensively and can create chances on the attack. Carrick’s age is showing now and he is increasingly growing injury-prone. Whenever Carrick was out last season, United didn’t do very well. With Carrick in the playing XI, United had a 72% win ratio and without him it was down to 35%. I bet that 35% percent would have been even lower had David De Gea not been there. The point is that an attacking side like United usually use only one primarily defensive minded defensive midfielder like Carrick and the other two in the 4-3-3 midfield were box to box midfielders. This facilitates a better defense to attack transition, but the problem was that other than Carrick we didn’t have anybody who was natural in that role. Yes, we had Daley Blind, but he showed that he wasn’t up to the challenge, and even if he was, he was pushed to the left defensive position due to the perpetual absence of Luke Shaw due to injury, and kudos to Blind because he actually did very well as left back. To solve our problem, Louis van Gaal brought in not one but two defensive midfielders in the form of highly rated Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin and world class German Bastian Schweinsteiger. I was honestly applauding this piece of business because after a long time, United actually have a formidable midfield. I think we can expect great things from Morgan Schneiderlin for sure. Bastian Schweinsteiger is going to have a tough time settling in I feel, not just because he is on the wrong side of 30 but also because fitness has been a concern for him over the last three years or so, but overall, I feel these two transfers are absolutely world class because of the kind of ability we have captured considering the fee we have paid for the same.
Matteo Darmian and Sergio Romero
Who is Matteo Darmian? That was what everybody was asking when United had announced his transfer from Italian club Torino. Darmian is a very talented young right full back who largely passed under the radar for some reason, even though he has played for the national team. I totally appreciate this transfer because Antonio Valencia isn’t a permanent choice for right back although I am sad to see Rafael leave as a result. He was a fierce warrior, maybe sometimes too fierce, but I kinda liked him. Darmian showed in the friendlies that is an able right back. He has pace to burn and isn’t completely hapless going forward as well, a little like Rafael in that regard. I think he comes in to the starting XI directly and will stay there barring some really big errors. Sergio Romero was a bit of an odd one I feel. His form has been up and down and his ability doesn’t stand out to me either. Don’t get me wrong, he is definitely a good second choice option (if you exclude Victor Valdes) but we definitely need more between the sticks especially if David De Gea is leaving before the transfer window comes to a close. Romero may be a bit like Victor Valdes was at the end of last season, but if our defence is not as shaky as it was then, hopefully he won’t be called upon as much.
Louis van Gaal was presumably wedded to the 3-4-3 he used for Netherlands in the World Cup prior to last season because that’s what he used initially last season with United as well, only to learn very fast that it didn’t work in England. He experimented with a lot of formation thereafter but finally settled for a 4-3-3 of sorts which seemed to be bringing the results. With David De Gea perpetually between the sticks, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as the two central defenders and Valencia and Blind as full backs, Herrera was picked as the attacking midfielder, Michael Carrick as the defensive minded one and Marouane Fellaini’s afro could be seen running around from the top of defence to the attack as he was given a fairly free role and he made a difference almost everywhere, thanks to his physicality. Young occupied the left winger role and Mata cut in regularly from the right wing in what was described as a false right winger role by the manager, one that suited Mata well, since he didn’t have a lot of physicality or pace for the wider role and his creativity supplemented the attack well. If we assume that LVG will go with a 4-3-3 this season, and there have been very few indications toward it since he played with a 4-2-3-1 in the friendlies, but if we assume that he will go ahead with a 4-3-3 then this is what we can expect: If, however, Van Gaal decides to persist with the 4-2-3-1 that he used in the pre-season friendlies, and the evidence says he might be inclined to do so since today’s confirmed lineup to face the season opener versus Tottenham Hotspur says United may use this formation, then this is something like what we may see:
I think this is a huge, huge season for Manchester United. Arguable one of the biggest of my generation and we are all looking forward to it. The buildup has been excellent, the players that have come in have brought some top-class quality and everybody looks raring to go. I expect Manchester United to do much better than they did last season, overall. I think they’re going to be more injury-free, squad depth is better this time around, the players, well most of them at least, are quite familiar with what the manager wants and his much talked about philosophy and the squad has a much, much better balance to it. Getting to the gist of the matter, I expect United to finish at least 2nd in the league, win at least one cup out of the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup and reach at least the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Champions League and hopefully a friendly draw could grant us a journey to the semis.
We all have our fingers crossed for this season and at the same time there’s some immense excitement and expectation for the same. Join me and everybody else today in the opening of the 24th Premier League season as all eyes are on Old Trafford for the draw against Spurs as we get ready to watch a cracker of a season!
“I’ve never played for a draw in my life.” – Sir Alex Ferguson
And that’s how Manchester United have been playing in their last three matches. They come to win, and no less. Granted its not a perfectly polished outfit yet, and there are chinks in the armor and there is a lot to prove, to ourselves and to others as well, but its closer to perfect than we’ve ever been in the last couple of years.
If you don’t think that the games against Tottenham and Liverpool were the best games we’ve seen from United in this season (and most of the last season too), then you don’t know much about Manchester United, or football.
If you didn’t see these two matches, then let me sum it up for you.
Think of a sports team. Any team. But it has to be one you care about, one you have a connection with, one that’s close to your heart. It could be any team. It could be your college team, or it could be the current world champions. Got a team? Good. Now imagine they’ve been the best in their particular field for a really, really long time. Imagine they’ve been winning league after league, tournament after tournament, championship after championship, cup after cup, for the last ten, fifteen, twenty years. Imagine them at the top, the world at their feet. Imagine the jubilation, the aura, the halo of ‘invincibility’ about them. But there’s no such thing as invincibility, really. Harsh, but true. Now imagine your team losing. And its not just a loss that is a minor dip in the graph, followed by another one of those all-familiar never-ending spikes. Its a loss followed by a dozen more. And then a few. No more aura, no more halo, no more jubilation. But then change is the only constant in life and then things change at the team. And it takes time but you finally see your team resembling the team you saw during ‘their years’. You finally see the team you’ve missed for too long.
That’s how it felt watching Manchester United maul Tottenham Hotspur on the 15th of March and subdue Liverpool on the 22nd of March.
Below is a little analysis of the current state of affairs at Manchester United, English football and other little things that I may want to say about the same so all those who aren’t into football and ‘Understand Football/Soccer’ isn’t on your ‘Things to do Today’ list, then look away right now.
Tottenham didn’t exactly have a terrifying line – up coming into the match against Man Utd, but then even though United did, they were proclaimed the underdogs. The only way this can be explained is by the golden word, ‘form’. The Spurs were in form and were very much battling gallantly for a spot in the top 4, as were United, only less convincingly. Three matches later, United are now the in – form team in the top 4, along with Wenger’s Arsenal. The battle for 4th place is still open, mathematically, and as much as I would love Manchester City to slip and drop below, I don’t see that happening. As for Manchester United, I very much see them fighting for 2nd place now, and, owing to any errors Chelsea and Arsenal may make (the latter will invariably make one or two), for pole position too.
Speaking of math, here’s the Premier League table, as of the 11th April, 2015:
With about half a dozen (or a little more) games to go for every club, the title looks mathematically available to a lot of clubs, but factor in form, injuries, upcoming fixtures, and a gazillion other psychological, physiological, historical and environmental variables and you’ll realise that it really looks possible for any one out of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United to take the title, with Chelsea holding almost too many cards for anybody else to do anything, really. However, if United can get through the upcoming fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea with victories, I can really see them challenging for the title and it could well go down to the final fixture.
United are undoubtedly the better side when put up against Chelsea or Manchester City. City’s form has been very poor lately and Chelsea are not only faced with injuries and potential suspensions (Matic and Fabregas are both one booking away from a match-ban) but have struggled against almost every team in the last few months. Even against an extremely poor United squad back in October last year, Chelsea only managed a 1-1 draw where United were by far the better team in terms of possession, tackles and shots on target.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were very adept at snatching victories in the dying stages of a match and ‘Fergie time’ was there for just that reason. Sir Alex himself gave it a uniquely cheesy name:
“Its getting tickly now, squeaky – bum time, I call it.”
Its that time of the season again.
All player images above are taken from various fanblogs on Tumblr, and I don’t own them in any way.
Honest Disclaimer is Honest: This post does not contain deep philosophy that miraculously uplifts those who heed it, although it may contain some philosophy that is sometimes evident to everybody, apart from the people who really need it.
There are times when you’re happy. Or not, but you’re getting by. And you’re confident, even if in the slightest degree, that you’ll be out of the woods in a short while. Maybe you see the light at the end of the tunnel, maybe you’re visualising it, or you see lots of lights ’cause you’re high but you see light, in one way or another. And then you go on to switch on the telly to watch the match of your team 4 lyf and then it all goes to shit. Not because you lost a puny bet but because you actually have a heart and you can’t watch your team lose. If you’re one of those followers that really follows the team and somehow has an emotional connect to them (it could be because of their tradition, history, style of play, aura, anything), then you just cannot watch them lose. It ruins your day. Probably the rest of your week. Or the next as well, if its a Saturday or a Sunday.
Today, I want to create a bridge between two of my favourite sports and two teams that I feel need some oxygen. A few hours where you chuck everything aside, sit down together, ram into your brains what you’re doing wrong and how you’re going to lift your ass off the ground and launch yourselves onwards and more importantly, upwards.
The society of the country I come from is deeply religious. You probably won’t find as much religious diversity anywhere. If a child wasn’t told what community he was born in, maths would no longer be the most confusing thing for him. But here in India, there’s religions, and then there’s cricket, on a whole different level. Its almost like an addiction. It gives a different level of euphoria. A unique high. Don’t believe me? Watch this video tribute to a certain Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar (aka Bhagwan, Hindi for God), created after India won the 2011 Cricket World Cup, full of perfectly synced dramatic music, et al.
I’m not going to burden you with details, especially since not many really get cricket.
The Indian cricket, about a year back, many thought that the bunch of 11 guys they saw playing on the field could actually push to retain the World Cup. They spoke too early. What ensued was a horrible tailspin by the Indian cricket team, and I can’t remember a single win abroad for India, apart from that great great one at Lords in July last year. Make no mistake, I believe they were right. I always did. Because people, as individuals, are incapable of nothing. Cliche, overly optimistic, you call it what you want, but I believe. Its time others did too. Because nobody wants to hear the reasons why we can’t do something. Because nobody wants to be searching in the crowd for somebody wearing their jersey. Because a big part of doing something daunting is believing. And though the first opposition this surprisingly out of depth Indian team faces tomorrow morning is bitter rivals Pakistan, I believe. Its time the team does too. Sports aren’t just games. We say that very few things truly unite the warring races that make up the human species, and sports is one of those. Yes, that statement was probably said from a negative point of view, but why can’t it be something more?
Much north of London lies a theatre. The theatre. The theatre where dreams come to fruition. A theatre that has seen some of football’s greatest sporting spirits battle together and against one another. It goes by the name Old Trafford. It wasn’t called a fortress for nothing. Noticed how I said ‘wasn’t’? Well, I meant it. And this coming from a diehard Man Utd fan is saying something.
A few months back I wrote this post about how the draw with Chelsea could be a turning point, not just of the current season, but of the club’s fortune. That could mean pinning a lot on a single fixture. But it wasn’t without a reason. If you saw that match, you’d know what I’m talking about. It was a great match to watch. And though the equaliser was in the dying stages and it wasn’t perfect, it meant more than the world to the fans not just for the one point, but for the way the team played, it looked inspired. It meant more to the players. What followed a while after that that was what I feel, a series of bad decisions essentially and resulted in a tailspin that, gratefully enough, isn’t conveyed by the healthy position of the team in the table.
Both these band of men are capable of much, much, much more than what they have been achieving lately. They need to be given the right kind of push to play the way they’re most natural at. They need to shed the baggage and although each day is a new day, they really need to make tomorrow the freshest day they’ve known in a while. And more than anything, its the support staff, the guys behind the scenes, that also need to get their heads out of a knot. Stick your head out above the thick, dense growth take in some of that fresh air and thank whoever you believe in for that dash of oxygen.