Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Mariga books ticket to Madrid

More news from the one that got away: McDonald Mariga played the last few minutes of Inter's thrilling Champions League semi-final contest with Barcelona at Nou Camp.

With four minutes left of normal time Inter were 1-0 down on the night but 3-2 up on aggregate; one mistake away from going out on away goals. So Samuel Eto'o was withdrawn for Mariga - who was a Home Office decision away from becoming a Manchester City player in January. Mariga played on the right of a 5-4-0, and - as far as I can remember - won one header on the half-way line, and then bought a free-kick off Jeffrén Suárez in stoppage time. Inter hung on and progressed.

Thiago Motta is suspended for the final. Muntari and Stankovic are more likely to play, but another Mariga appearance is possible. How he must regret not joining City.


Anonymous said...

Off topic, and maybe covered in full prior to this... but I've been giving more thought to the draw at the Gooners and the remaining fixtures, and I'm starting to think that maybe RM got it right. I'm also thinking that we all need to take a deep breath regarding the Villa game. In short, it comes down to this: we went to Emirates controlling our own destiny. We left Emirates in the same position; and the Villa game is not win or bust. Here's how:

We are 1 point back of both Villa and Spurs, but play both. If we draw Villa, we are 1 point back of Villa with a game in hand over them, and - let's assume - now 3 points back of Spurs (assuming they win on the weekend)... most importantly, likely even or close on goal difference (Spurs currently one behind us, we - by definition - remain unchanged if we draw).

Then we play Spurs; make no mistake, it's a must win. A win, and we are level on points with Spurs and two ahead of an idle Villa.

The whole deal now comes down to goal difference in both the Spurs and the West Ham game (with Spurs away to Burnley). Very likely to end up level on points, and goal difference becomes the decider.

Now factor in the 6 goal advantage we currently have in the next tie-breaker: goals scored. Any scenario is unlikely to close this gap, assuming we get the wins against Spurs and West Ham that are required.

So, what did the draw at Arsenal do? It gave us a chance to win on points if we win all three remaining games. It also gave us a chance to win - and I venture to say a good chance - even if we draw against Villa. Minus that point from Arsenal, and we have three must win games instead of two.

I know, the lack of attacking is bothersome, and makes us all wonder if we are having a dip in form or if it was a tactical choice. But, was not losing the Arsenal game more important than winning it? Maybe. I guess this is how managers make their money... and why they should be held accountable for the ultimate result come season's end. Oh, and maybe why I’ll never be a manager despite my 26 years of playing ;)

In the meantime, I think we can exhale a bit before the Villa game. Don't get me wrong, I'll be just as glued to the game as everyone else... and I'll want a victory just as bad as everyone else. But we may all be thanking RM come season end for draws away to Arsenal, and (let us hope not) at home to Villa.

(And a side note: that would also put us on 70 points; the same total many a blogger and pundit thought would be the magic number.)

trinder said...

So just to be clear, Mariga was not considered, by the astute work permit panel, able to contribute to the Premier League or football in the UK but is good enough to play in a Champions League semi-final at the Camp Nou.

alan said...

It still rankles that Mariga's work permit was turned down by a panel that contained David Pleat, whose affiliations with Tottenham are well known. Should he really be deciding work permits for our signings?

The BBC ran a story where the Kenyan Prime Minister says the permit was sorted out the following day, which adds to the mystery.

alan, blue days

Anonymous said...

I know both "off topic" but why so negative? We will never see an Arsenal side that weak for years to come. They have so many injuries and a very dodgy keeper who we never tested. Too many draws were the reason Hughes was sacked we should have gone for them. It is folly to rely on draws and goal difference. We should be coming away with wins.

Anonymous said...


I'll be honest with you, I feel both sides of this argument and it changes depending upon how I wake up in the morning ;)

On the one hand, there is the "playing the odds," "give yourself the most chances to succeed" argument that I put forward earlier. Then there is the part of me that whole-heartedly agrees with your assessment; there I times in which you must simply rise to greatness. Perhaps the right response would have been to grab the chance with both hands and "damn the torpedos, full spead ahead!"

Great teams have the ability to be bold when others simply seek to avoid mistakes. Maybe we are not yet that kind of great team? Maybe RM sees that as the next step in our development... the project for next year: ruthless, clinical, swagger. But, does that leave us simply hoping we are good enough to grab 4th and get the kind of players that will make us ruthless, clinical, and carrying of a swagger?

I'm torn. The previous post is trying to be optimistic and lend deference to the man paid to make these tough decisions. This post (obviously) sees the other side.

Again, I guess I'll never be a manager! :)

As far as Mariga goes... would have been nice to gab a box-to-box yongster without the political forces interfering. Would that have made the difference on the United goal when a fresh Steven Ireland wasn't within 15 yards of his mark... who had played for 90 minutes?

Hemulen said...

Everyone's going on about the Spurs game being a must-win, but surely the Villa game is, and to a greater extent? I can't see how anything less than a win is a huge nail in the coffin of our 4th place chances (on which I'm in total agreement with Mancini, 5th place is a really good season, lets not forget this), assuming Spurs win at home to Bolton, especially then with our shocking record v Spurs, and then the final day fixtures, which are also definitely in Spurs' favour.

We can't even begin to think about the Spurs game until we get past the hurdle of the Villa game.

Yikes I'm nervous.