‘TIS THE SEASON

December 02, 2007 |

I don’t know if it’s the holiday season that has me so
uncharacteristically giddy, but I haven’t felt this good about a
season in years.
It might be the fact that we have found the form that has hovered ever
so tantalizingly just beyond our grasp.
It might be the fact that we have found the net 17 times in the last 4 games.
It might be the fact that Rafa has discovered the virtue of discretion
and its role in the part of valour.
Or it might be the fact that Liverpool is playing beautiful soccer,
and more importantly they look like they are enjoying themselves. I’ve
been watching one of only two undefeated teams and feel that something
is lacking. It was because Liverpool was playing pedestrian football
that was fueled solely by the quest for results.
Because as important as results are, the true joy of watching soccer,
or indeed any sport, is in the spectacle. Any fan, or any true fan of
soccer if they look deep enough will admit that phrases like "a win is
a win" have no real sense of fulfillment to them.
Soccer goes beyond simple point accumulation. Because if you feel that
jammy points are better than watching a tough loss when your squad
played good football, then you probably watch your football at
Stamford Bridge, and you probably also feel that £500m is an
acceptable price for a title.

And in addition to being back in the winning way, Liverpool is also
proof of a cure for the "key injury" affliction that many Premiership
managers argue they are suffering from.  No Xabi, no Agger, no
Pennant, no Fabio, no problem. And better yet, no whining.
So is it the personnel or their management? When there was little
patience for lackluster results, Rafa’s "horses for courses"
philosophy was vilified out of hand. Now it is easy to look at it and
agree that perhaps there is some merit to it.
Not that it ever lacked value. It won him a Champions League and put
home, something that became the source of an unhealthy obsessionu003cbr />amongst fans.u003cbr />Many pointed to it as a failing experiment that kept blowing up in hisu003cbr />face. But with all experiments, the drawing board has to be consultedu003cbr />more than once when the formula isn’t working as anticipated.u003cbr />Make no mistake, chemistry is very much what is involved. Moreu003cbr />specifically, the inexact science of matching different personalities.u003cbr />Rafa has allowed (and sometimes manipulated) these characteristics tou003cbr />evolve into distinctive mixtures that are confounding coachesu003cbr />everywhere. The bonus is that, in this process, some wonderfulu003cbr />varieties have bloomed beyond all expectations. All they required wasu003cbr />time and patience.u003cbr />Unfortunately, and predictably, both are in short supply after 20u003cbr />years in the domestic league wilderness. But to his credit, Rafa hasu003cbr />stayed the course under some withering criticism, and with a littleu003cbr />infusion of cash and some key signings, it looks like his plan isu003cbr />bearing fruit.u003cbr />It is interesting that the potential strengths of Rafa’s outlook haveu003cbr />never really been explored. Having warmed a few benches in my time,u003cbr />there is a certain malaise that settles in if you feel that you willu003cbr />be playing most of your games on the practice pitch. It can take au003cbr />while to shake off the cobwebs as you transition from cones to corneru003cbr />flags. And ordinarily time is not what you have you when trying tou003cbr />impress.u003cbr />All of Rafa’s bench players are guaranteed playing time, so in effectu003cbr />he has 22 mentally and physically match-fit players.  They have to be.u003cbr />They don’t have the luxury of waiting for an injury to happen. Theyu003cbr />don’t know when they will be called upon, only that they will.  Itu003cbr />keeps them lean and at a higher key than some of their counterparts.u003cbr />Today it is Bolton’s day on the chopping block. I don’t mean this tou003cbr />”,1]
);

//–>him another final two seasons later. But it never paid dividends at
home, something that became the source of an unhealthy obsession
amongst fans.
Many pointed to it as a failing experiment that kept blowing up in his
face. But with all experiments, the drawing board has to be consulted
more than once when the formula isn’t working as anticipated.
Make no mistake, chemistry is very much what is involved. More
specifically, the inexact science of matching different personalities.
Rafa has allowed (and sometimes manipulated) these characteristics to
evolve into distinctive mixtures that are confounding coaches
everywhere. The bonus is that, in this process, some wonderful
varieties have bloomed beyond all expectations. All they required was
time and patience.
Unfortunately, and predictably, both are in short supply after 20
years in the domestic league wilderness. But to his credit, Rafa has
stayed the course under some withering criticism, and with a little
infusion of cash and some key signings, it looks like his plan is
bearing fruit.
It is interesting that the potential strengths of Rafa’s outlook have
never really been explored. Having warmed a few benches in my time,
there is a certain malaise that settles in if you feel that you will
be playing most of your games on the practice pitch. It can take a
while to shake off the cobwebs as you transition from cones to corner
flags. And ordinarily time is not what you have you when trying to
impress.
All of Rafa’s bench players are guaranteed playing time, so in effect
he has 22 mentally and physically match-fit players.  They have to be.
They don’t have the luxury of waiting for an injury to happen. They
don’t know when they will be called upon, only that they will.  It
keeps them lean and at a higher key than some of their counterparts.
Today it is Bolton’s day on the chopping block. I don’t mean this to
that Rafa is not taking for granted.u003cbr />The last couple of meetings have gone Liverpool’s way, but we all knowu003cbr />how that goes. You are only as good as your last win. And this teamu003cbr />has already taken some big game trophies beating Man U last week 1-0.u003cbr />I expect a fit Torres to feature up front with Dirk Kuyt. I would loveu003cbr />to see Ryan Babbel as an out-and-out striker at some point thisu003cbr />season. He has proven that he has no problem going at defenders oru003cbr />shooting. With a fit-again Harry Kewell and an increasingly confidentu003cbr />Benny Onion Rafa should consider putting the youngster up front withu003cbr />the likes of Kuyt or Voronin. Just a thought.u003cbr />Anyway, with all the confidence that is floating around Anfield rightu003cbr />now we can expect the lads to be on top form.u003cbr />Prediction: Liverpool 3 – Bolton 1u003cbr />u003c/div>”,0]
);
D(["ce"]);

//–>sound flip. They are a team that can pose serious problems, something
that Rafa is not taking for granted.
The last couple of meetings have gone Liverpool’s way, but we all know
how that goes. You are only as good as your last win. And this team
has already taken some big game trophies beating Man U last week 1-0.
I expect a fit Torres to feature up front with Dirk Kuyt. I would love
to see Ryan Babbel as an out-and-out striker at some point this
season. He has proven that he has no problem going at defenders or
shooting. With a fit-again Harry Kewell and an increasingly confident
Benny Onion Rafa should consider putting the youngster up front with
the likes of Kuyt or Voronin. Just a thought.
Anyway, with all the confidence that is floating around Anfield right
now we can expect the lads to be on top form.
Prediction: Liverpool 3 – Bolton 1

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Tis the Season

December 01, 2007 |

Over the next few days I’m gonna do my best to help you get more than a smile on Christmas morning!
Now more than ever we are a coed Raven fanbase. My pal Melanie LeGrande, with the Ravens sent me this information– and guys, ever gal loves their man fighting/bidding for them!!

Baltimore Ravens to Auction Game-Worn Jerseys for Charity

Proceeds from the sale of autographed jerseys to benefit Ravens All
Community Team Foundation

The Baltimore Ravens will begin a two-week auction on Monday, Dec. 3,
2007, to raise money for the team’s charitable arm, the Ravens All
Community Team Foundation. The auction will feature the authentic,
alternate black jerseys worn by the team on Monday Night Football’s
Ravens vs. Patriots game on Dec. 3.

All 53 players will autograph their game-used jerseys, which will then
be available for viewing and bidding via the Ravens auction page on
NFLAuction.NFL.com. The lot will be broken into two separate auctions,
the first running from Monday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 9, and the
second beginning at the kickoff of the Ravens vs. Colts game on Sunday,
Dec. 9 and concluding Sunday, Dec. 18.

The auction is open to the public. Additionally, the Ravens guarantee
that all winning bidders will receive the respective players’ jersey
prior to Christmas Day.

The Ravens All Community Team Foundation is committed to improving,
encouraging and enabling the healthy development of youth in the
Baltimore area, as well as other parts of the State of Maryland. The
foundation focuses on programs that help youth, and in some cases, their
families, with various needs, including housing, hunger, education,
athletics and mentoring.

Recent foundation projects include a playground build at Collington
Square School in Baltimore City and providing $100,000 in grants to area
nonprofits with programs that promote youth physical activity and
nutrition education.

*** Not to take the romance out—- BUT with the folks in Annapolis taking more—a portion of your bid is tax deductible.
Need to contact me? E-mail -Sociallyspeakinganne@comcast.net

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