Tag Archives: Wesley Sneijder

New Years Resolutions For Five Sports Figures

Unlike these sports figures who wish 2012 could last forever, these five are happy that they’re being granted clemency in the form of a new year. New year, new leaf. Their New Years resolutions are…

The New York Jets
To stop sucking.
The 2012 New York Jets may have been the worst 6-10 team in NFL history, at least from a viewer’s perspective. Living in the New York area, and not having Fox (thanks NYU Campus cable) forced me to watch every Jet game this season. Sportswriters love to use the word “joke” to describe especially awful teams/players/coaches, but the Jets were a joke this year in the most literal sense of the word. They were actually funny to watch. The Mark Sanchez Comedy Club was in full-swing, starring: Tebow’s Bench Spot, Shonn Greene’s Yards Per Carry Average, Every Jet Receiver, Brandon Moore’s Butt Cheeks, Fireman Ed, and Rex Ryan’s Neck Flab.

Every game, just when you thought that things couldn’t get any worse for the Jets, they did. For many teams, they’ll hit rock bottom at some point in the game, and that’ll be it. They’ll keel over and die, going into damage limitation mode. The Jets, however, managed to always hit rock-bottom in each of their 10 losses, and then actually exceed that bottom point. Whether it’s the Sanchez butt-fumble, or throwing away the Titans game at least 10 different times, these Jets just didn’t know when to stop sucking. After the Titans game, my roommate—a Jets fan—actually vomited, screaming out, “I can’t take it anymore! He [Mark Sanchez] is so bad!”

For years, the Jets have been a circus. It’s been great reality TV, beyond the Hard Knocks episodes. This is what owner Woody Johnson wanted, and it’s worked. They’ve been the more talked about New York football team the past four years, have signed every controversial player, and have provided every pull-quote to make the organization a continuous SportsCenter headline. This past season was the season when the circus animals got rabies, broke out of their chains, and killed the carnies. Huge financial commitments to several veterans may prevent them from cleaning house this offseason, but at some point, this front office and roster needs to be burned to the ground.

Demarcus Cousins
To control myself and think about how my actions hurt other people.
Yes Demarcus, please calm down. He’s near the half-way point of his 3rd NBA season, and he’s already clashed with two head coaches. His first, Paul Westphal, sent Cousins home last season, because he was “unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team.” Ouch. More recently, the Kings suspended him indefinitely for “unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team”—a suspension that lasted two total days.

Cousins is a a great NBA big (not many centers are capable of putting up 25 and 15 on any given night at age 22), and could be an elite NBA player, which is why he’s getting away with murdering the Kings. Westphal was fired soon after his bout with Cousins, and an indefinite suspension that ended up being only two days suggests that he’s holding the franchise hostage with his talent. Perhaps the Kings are still letting him play to boost his trade value, but Cousins needs to realize that he’s the best player on an NBA team, albeit a bad one. He has a chance to give the Kings life again, and possibly save NBA basketball in Sacramento with his success (I’m sure Seattle basketball fans would welcome his talents with open-arms). His future probably lies with a different franchise, but unless Cousins improves his approach to professional basketball, new pastures will be no brighter.

Wesley Sneijder
To get on the pitch and see Jose Mourinho, stat.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Three years ago, Sneijder was coming off of a brilliant Champions League winning season with Inter, and a second-place finish at the World Cup. He was perhaps the most creative midfield force in the world, and undoubtedly the Dutch’s best player in South Africa. He was quoted at £35 million, and the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United were hot for his signature. Now, he’s available on a free from Inter, and the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal have all snubbed moves for him, because of his greed. It seems like ever since Jose Mourinho left Inter, the club and Sneijder have taken a nose-dive on the pitch. Sneijder himself hasn’t touched a Serie A pitch since September due to a contract dispute, and his international star is fading fast. He needs to swallow his pride, and take the pay-cut that he’s earned, because he hasn’t been good since 2010. A move to Tottenham or Liverpool would suit him, as each side lack world-beating Number 10s, but at this point, it seems like Sneijder is only knows what’s best for his Swiss bank account.

Aston Villa
To hug our mothers, and play some defense.
Aston Villa have been League One worthy in the month of December. Actually, they’ve been historically bad. Their 14 goals allowed over the past three matches set an EPL record for most goals conceded over that span. Paul Lambert’s side are in a rebuilding phase—the plan this year was to let the kids play. It’s an easy cop-out for the manager and supporters. If the team does well, then that means Villa’s youth is maturing quickly. If the team does poorly, then the results can be blamed on inexperience. This defending, however, is not due to youthful mistakes or lack of talent. This is just piss poor effort, cluelessness bred by bad communication and management, and (I guess) Gareth Bale’s speed.
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Out of every EPL team, 2013 couldn’t have come quicker for Aston Villa. If you know a Villa fan, buy them a cup of tea, and give them a hug. They need it.

Gary Bettman
To get back on the ice.
I don’t watch hockey. I don’t follow hockey. I only somewhat care about hockey when the New Jersey Devils make the finals, but even last year, I found LeBron v. Celtics more interesting. Hockey, however, is a sport that’s 1,000,000% better when watched at the actual game. I’ll never watch the sport on TV, but if I had some tickets to a Rangers game? Sure! I’m there.

Right now, Gary Bettman is destroying a beautiful live product because of his unwavering stance in CBA negotiations. Although there are millions of fans and families who desperately want NHL hockey back, the ESPN-centric sports world is simply moving on. I watch some SportsCenter every day, and I can’t remember the last time the NHL lockout was covered. During the NFL lockout, every outlet was making any movement at the negotiation table their lead story. If Goodell had crossed swords with an NFLPA lawyer in the restroom, we’d know. Not only is Bettman losing the NHL, but he’s losing the public’s interest. No NHL? No problem. Goodell and Stern are happily filling the void.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Bert Van Marwijk’s Dutch Undelight: Why the Oranje Crashed Out

Bert Van Marwijk’s Holland came into the European Championships as one of the tournament’s favorites. Despite landing in the “Group of Death” with heavyweights Germany and Portugal, the Oranje were still tipped to come out of the group and steal Spain’s thunder. Instead, the Dutch crashed out miserably, losing all three group matches and only scoring two goals.

Rumors of infighting between winger Arjen Robben and the rest of the squad were rampant all tournament, and were put on full display against Germany. Robben was substituted for Dirk Kuyt in the 83th minute, and instead of running to the bench, hi-fiving his teammate and getting a pat on the head from his coach (like every normal player would), he chose to hop a fence on the opposite side of the field, take his shirt off, and walk the long-way back to the bench. Imagine a pitcher in baseball getting taken out, and instead of walking back to the dugout, he chose to take a lap around the outfield, give the finger to the relief pitcher coming in for him, and toss his jersey into the crowd. By European football equivalents, that’s exactly what Robben did. If his message wasn’t clear then, when cameras caught him telling Van Marwijk to “shut up” after Van Marwijk wanted him to track Ronaldo’s runs in defense, Robben’s selfish disgust was put on display for the world to see. After that moment, Van Marwijk was never going to come back to the Oranje sidelines.

Van Marwijk is getting out at a perfect time for his career, meaning a bad time for Dutch football. His contract ran until 2016, but did he really want to oversee another World Cup and Euro? This was supposed to be the major tournament that the Dutch finally put it all together and won. It was the perfect time. This generation’s Dutch stars had reached their career peak. Current English Premier League Player of the Year Robin van Persie is at the height of his powers at 28, and is injury-free for once. Attacking midfielder Wesley Sneijder is 28 and linked with a huge move to one of the Manchester clubs. Robben is, you guessed it, also 28 and fresh off an 18 goal season for Bayern Munich. Striker Klass Jan-Huntelaar was the most efficient striker in Europe this year, notching 44 goals in 47 games for Schalke at a ripe age of 28. These are four of the best footballers in the world, and top-8 in the world at their positions—yet they can only manage 1 goal between them at Euros? Now, the Dutch are a team trending down, as their top 4 players will be 30 by the next World Cup, and will surely be in decline. It’ll probably be hard for Robben and RVP—two injury-plagued players—to even be healthy enough.

Holland’s horrendous Euro display surprised many pundits, but should it have? Remembering their World Cup run in 2010, it’s easy for a finals appearance to gloss over what was a poor tournament by Dutch style standards. They had the easiest path to the finals, were incredibly lucky, Sneijder bailed them out of games, RVP was a black hole at central striker, and they played one of the ugliest games in World Cup history against an overpowering Spanish side in the finals. Let’s look back at each game in the 2010 World Cup for the Dutch:

Win over Denmark, 2-0
A Daniel Agger own goal and a Dirk Kuyt tap-in off a rebound (CLASSIC Kuyt) notches 3 points for Holland. Van Marwijk said after the game: “We wanted to play beautiful soccer but we lost the ball.” An ugly win. (This same Denmark side beat them in their opening Euro match.)

Win over Japan, 1-0
Sneijder scores after the Japanese keeper deflects the shot off his hand and into the net. RVP misses a ton of easy chances. Said Van Marwijk after the game: “Let me assure you that we really, really want to win and if we can do that in style, then great. But you have to be able to win ugly games.” The coach said it himself: an ugly win.

Win over Cameroon, 2-1
RVP and Huntelaar finally get on the score sheet against a Cameroon side that hadn’t won it’s previous 10 matches. Ho-hum.

Win over Slovakia, 2-1
Robben and Sneijder score, but the Dutch only complete 335 passes—their lowest total all tournament and only the 6th time since 1978 it had completed less than 350 passes in a match. So much for Total Football.

Win over Brazil, 2-1
A Brazilian side in transition fails to capitalize on an early Robinho goal. Sneijder reinvigorates the Dutch in the 53rd minute, scoring a free-kick 30 yards out from a crossing area after Melo deflects the ball into his own goal. Sneijder heads home the winner from a corner kick after Kuyt flicks it on at the near post. Again, not much beautiful football being played. Plenty of lucky football though.

Win over Uruguay, 3-2
A Suarez-less Uruguayan side just misses out. Captain Giovanni Van Bronckhorst scored his 6th goal in 106 total matches for the Dutch from a miracle Jabulani-powered strike. Has to be seen to be believed:

Sneijder scores a close-range shot after it was deflected off a defender, and Robben tapped home the third goal. Diego Forlan’s free-kick in the closing seconds goes off the crossbar. A thrilling win, but hardly an artistically appealing one. More Oranje luck.

Loss to Spain, 1-0.
Robben misses a 1v1 chance, and blows another 1v1 by somehow shrugging off a challenge and missing. The one time he could’ve gone down for a penalty because he was legitimately fouled, he decides to keep on going. De Jong gets away with the most blatant red card in the history of football, setting the tone for a flop and foul fest. Total bloodbath.

Although the Dutch had to bully Spain if they had any chance of winning, it still upset legend Johan Cruyff: “This ugly, vulgar, hard, hermetic, hardly eye-catching, hardly football style, yes it served the Dutch to unsettle Spain. If with this they got satisfaction, fine, but they ended up losing. They were playing anti-football.”

RVP had one goal all tournament, the back-four continued to look confused, and Sneijder’s 2010 luck with Inter carried over. As a whole, the team didn’t play like a team. The ugliness of the 2010 World Cup carried over to the 2012 Euros, except Sneijder’s luck wasn’t there to bail the Dutch out every time. The Dutch are an overrated side with star players who are poor for their national team. The Euros disaster can be attributed to Van Marwijk’s insane decision to start two defensive midfielders in an unbalanced 4-2-3-1, and to start an 18 year old at left-back (there are honestly no better Dutch defenders available?), while the rest of the blame can be bestowed upon a wasted generation of Dutch talent. They were just never that good to begin with. Better on paper than in practice.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49