December 31, 2013

Vincent Tan: The most interesting man in sports

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

I haven’t given Cardiff City’s irascable owner Vincent Tan his due and, really, I don’t think there’s enough space on the Internet to give him the attention he deserves.

Everything from his signature look on down, is utterly amazing.

This is a man who wears his team’s shirt tucked into his suit pants, which go to about halfway about his stomach.

This is a man who took over a team that is nicknamed the Bluebirds and rebranded them to wear red.

This is a man who had been openly feuding with team manager Malky Mackay, the same man who got the Welsh club promoted from the Championship.

This is the man that twice sent letters to Mackay with the ultimatum: Resign or be sacked.

This is the man who said that his manager wouldn’t get a single penny in the January transfer window despite being in need of several players.

This is a man that finally fired Mackay the day before his team’s game against Sunderland on Saturday.

The game itself was quite entertaining, almost enough so to take some attention away from the craziness of the whole Tan-Mackay situation.

The “Bluebirds” looked to be in charge for most of the game, putting pressure on the Black Cats all over the pitch. It added up on Sunderland’s defence and led to two goals before the hour mark for Cardiff.

But Sunderland would bounce back late, first through Steven Fletcher then with Jack Colback putting in the tying goal in the fifth and final minute of injury time.

It was the kind of weak late effort from Cardiff that made the Most Interesting Man in the Premier League appear to boo his own team. Well, Tan either booed his squad or the team’s fans, who were booing as well. Either way, it’s something that’s a definite no-no.

Finally, and perhaps most impressive, this is a man that could make a game between Sunderland and Cardiff City one of the biggest talking points of a good Premier League weekend.

REDS IN THE RED

Since going into Christmas day sitting on top of the table, it has been all downhill for Liverpool.

Losses at Manchester City and Chelsea have knocked the Reds down the table to fifth, now six points behind Arsenal.

Liverpool’s lack of depth is really starting to show, especially in attack.

Trailing Chelsea on Sunday in the second half and looking for some energy off the bench, manager Brendan Rodgers put on… Brad Smith?

Let’s put it this way: In a game where their opponents had Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Ashley Cole and Andre Schurrle on their bench, Liverpool’s best option was a 19-year-old that most fans had never even heard of.

This is something that will need to be addressed in the January transfer window and it’s something that sets top sides like City, Chelsea and Arsenal apart from a rebuilding side like Liverpool.

Depth is a key to winning to winning titles as much as a great starting XI is.

RED DEVILS GET THEIR DUE

I wouldn’t exactly call it a Christmas miracle considering the strength of its competition, but Manchester United’s jump up to sixth place to end 2013 is a great sign. Winning without Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie isn’t easy, even when you are a big team like United. But you have to credit David Moyes’ boys got maximum points from their past four games.

ABOUT THOSE OTHER CONTENDERS

Considering it had a whopping 76% possession and 23 shots, shouldn’t we have the right to expect more from Manchester City? A 1-0 win over lowly Crystal Palace isn’t exactly up to snuff … Joe Hart really showed some heart by staying in the game after getting bloodied up by Cameron Jerome – who went off with an injury of his own. By showing that toughness and resilience, Hart has once again endeared himself to City and England fans alike … Is it just me, or is Smauel Eto’o always in the right place at the right time? He’s a stunning poacher of goals who should be Chelsea’s top forward, unless it signs a true No. 9 in January … Chelsea is making it a habit of winning when not playing well. That’s the sort of quality that you look for in a champion – just think about Manchester United last year … All I can say about Arsenal’s win over Newcastle to go back on top heading into 2014 is this: Good for them.

AROUND THE PITCHES

Here’s hoping that Sunderland striker Fabio Borini is OK after being taken to hospital after collapsing at halftime … So, is Jozy Altidore bad, or just unlucky? He missed an absolute sitter that even the most average Sunday league player could have put home. If Sunderland had a better option, he wouldn’t be

playing … Tom Huddlestone getting an on-field hair cut after breaking his scoring drought was quite the sight, but shouldn’t that have garnered him a yellow card? They’ve been given for lesser celebrations, so maybe the refs are lightening up … You have to think that even former hero Clint Dempsey can’t save Fulham these days … If Seamus Coleman isn’t one of the top fullbacks in the Premier League right now, then I don’t know who is … It’s getting sad for Southampton these days. The Saints have won just one game since Nov. 9, picking up just five points of an available 24. That’s no way to get to Europe … Emmanuel Adebayor’s play for Tottenham and Jermain Defoe’s absence from the bench surely means the reports of a transfer to TFC by our own Kurtis Larson are legit, right?

THE LAST WORD

Nicolas Anelka, c’mon man. I understand that you’re friends with this comedian fellow that brought the “quenelle” to prominence, but it’s still inappropriate.

Anything that is described as a reverse Nazi salute should have no place on the pitch.

Especially when you consider the fact that Anelka has been more noteworthy for his controversies than his positives in recent years, you have to figure he’s just trying to gain some attention.

The worst part is that now the “quenelle” – admit it, you just googled it – is in the mainstream media’s sights.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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