Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ryo Miyaichi - Close up

Close up? No, this isn't a close up personal account of the life that Ryo lives, as this piece that I am about to write is all about Arsenal's new wonder-kid - Ryo Miyaichi. There has recently been prolonged talk from Arsenal  supporters stating how disappointing they have been with Arsene Wenger's activity in the transfer market, with reserve player, Carl Jenkinson, and the highly-rated Gervinho being their only signings as far. However, Arsene Wenger could still spend around £25 million on a star player, but the best summer business for Arsenal could be sealing the work permit of Ryo Miyaichi.

After signing a professional contract in the later stages of January, Arsene aimed to build on the club's long-term relationship with Feyenoord, and thereby sent Ryo out on-loan to gain the experience of a footballer whilst playing the 'right' way in the Eredivisie. It turned out be a shrewd move by Wenger, as the youngster went on to have a successful spell at the De Kuip. He started his first game against Vitesse, with the Feyenoord manager, Mario Been, instantly showing a liking to the Japanese youngster. Ryo had made an excellent impression in his first game, which resulted in a 1-1 draw. But there was more to shout about after his quite tremendous 90 minutes; he has been named man of the match, in which was a significant prize for a player with no past experience of playing professional football.

That game was seen as the internal working model for Ryo and his adopted club, for the time-being. In other words, it means that the basis was set, and that his standard of performances should remain high, with Feyenoord also showing faith in Ryo - a two way process. Did his performances remain to a high level? That would be an astounding yes! Not only did Ryo turn into a star in Holland due to his tremendous talents, but he worked hard for his place in the team and has now been rewarded for his work-ethic.

He scored his first goal for Feyenoord against Heracles, with the second goal in the game also being created by him. But arguably his best, and most complete performance came at the De Kuip when Willem II visited. Not only was this yet another special performance from Ryo - scoring two goals, and having two assists to his name - but his ability to turn the match on its head was admirable (Feyenoord was a goal down before winning 6-1 quite comfortably). That is exactly what would be welcomed at Arsenal - a player who will be able to use his initiative and go on to win a game when nobody else is seemingly shining.

Enough of the facts, and on to his true ability. Did you know that the Feyenoord supporters used to call him "Ryodinho" with the "inho" most likely coming from a Brazilian background, hence being a compliment? Ryo's skills dazzled in Holland, and so did his pace. He isn't the type of player who'll need to perform several movements with his feet ("flip-flap" etc) to beat his man. Ryo has the raw ability to beat his man with a quick turn of pace and drive down the line. His tendency to stay out on the touchline, will add a new dimension of width to the Arsenal attack, which is a must need along with his pace.

Another convincing attribute of Ryo is his capability of turning up in the right place at the right time - getting into goal-scoring positions. Some people say that it is just natural, but I beg to differ. It's all about the movement of a player and interpreting when to get into the right positions when needed.  Finally, to end his great attacking potential, I'd also like to add in that Ryo Miyaichi's delivery is top notch, and he can deliver them in various styles - such as whipping the ball in at head height, floating it in, and even producing a hard low cross which can be difficult to execute. Add his attacking attributes together, and it seems as if Arsenal have one pure offensive talent on their hands.

Now to his defensive game? An offensive player with a defensive game? What is going on here? Well, Ryo may be as skillful and delightful to watch as many of the world's best players, but his defensive work needs to be appreciated. Throughout his successful spell at Feyenoord, it became apparent to the audience watching that Ryo had true grit. He would lose the ball up the field, and then chase the opponent until he had got the ball back in his possession again. Its similar to Lionel Messi. An offensive player who has just scored 50+ goals a season , and looking for more, loses the ball, and chases down the opposing attacker as he attempts to get the ball back. It's terrific work, and his non-lazy approach will be great to see at the Emirates.

Anything he could improve on? In my personally opinion, the only flaw that Ryo has is that his final ball can be inconsistent. Not to a great extent, but inconsistent nonetheless. There are times where he can put in sumptuous balls with the strikers licking their lips, but there were quite a few times this season where the ball didn't reach its target, and I'm certain that the coaches at Arsenal will groom him well in this area.

Overall, Ryo can become a special, special player, capable of reaching the great heights of football - perhaps even on the world stage. He has the talent and effort to do so, and I'm more than sure that he'll become vital to Arsenal sooner rather than later. Ryo is only 18 years of age, and is still rather raw, but Arsenal can take advantage over his rawness and let the hungry youngster run riot in the Premier League. A work permit is still a problem, but I believe that his talent should do all the talking in welcoming him to English football.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

How do you break the stranglehold of Barca and Madrid?

The biggest clubs in the world. Immortals of the game, on and off the pitch. They continuously put fear in the eyes of players, but also club owners. Who else could do such a thing? Who else could boast players of a magnificent pedigree, above all the rest of on Earth? Who else could spend the majority of the season approximately 20 points ahead of the nearest competition in 3rd place? The clue is already in the title - only Real Madrid and Barcelona could achieve such a mean feat. Only those two teams could stop the likes of Valencia and Villarreal from acclaiming the prestigious La Liga title (which currently, seems quite impossible).

What is stopping the likes of Valencia and Villarreal from winning the title? Well, part of the reason is quite obvious, isn't? The players! Real are able to count on Ronaldo, Ozil, Benzema and  Casillas to fire them to victory, with Barca also being capable of producing the very best with Messi, Xavi and Iniesta plying their trade in Catalonia. It is/was a tough ask for Villarreal to rely on their hitman, Giuseppe Rossi, to produce the goods (with Valero also having a terrific season). It is/was also tough for Valencia to expect players (very good players) of the calibre of Mata and Banega to fight the "Big Two" for major honours. Also, with both players looking at a likely exit, Valencia can expect a troublesome time next season, albeit, not in crisis mode, which has already been spouted about. 

Barcelona and Real Madrid have arguably the best managers in the world, and with the players that they currently occupy it is the near impossible task to overcome them. They are fitter than the rest, they are more tactically astute than the rest, and they are technically superior to the rest. That superiority is also shown off the pitch with the excessive revenue that the two ‘Super Giants’ share. Forget about stadium revenue, and instead think about the broadcasters who give the pair huge sums of money to show the entertainers on their channel. Their TV rights, compared to the inferior teams in La Liga are mesmerizingly astonishing. It is known that there has been a political dispute regarding this issue, so that the TV rights are shared somewhat equally amongst the 20 teams in the division, but I think we all know that the proposal is a little impropable.

Barca and Real are different to the rest, and everyone knows that. The ‘others’ can’t compete with them as their income is significantly less than the two biggest clubs in the league. If there were to be equal TV rights (including equal commercial deals) then the long lasting dispute will last even longer. Cash-strapped teams like Valencia see it as an opportunity to fund their new stadium, and to decrease their debt, but who else could argue against Barcelona and Real Madrid? The country needs them, and the pair needs to the country - well, the government. If they want big money loans for big money signings then they’d happily be given it, as in the long term it will only benefit the money generated from winning major competitions, such as the Champions League.

Unfortunately money is taking over the game, and there is no doubt across the globe that Barca and Real love it. What about FIFA’s Financial Fair Play, which is due to be installed any time soon? Please! Are you telling me that Platini and co can stop Barca and Real from producing enticing football, whilst stopping luring people into their clubs with the world class players they have, hence halting the money flow? Of course not.

Reducing income from TV revenue and commercial deals isn’t a realistic idea, nor are the likes of Villarreal, Valencia and Sevilla welcoming players of the highest pedigree.

So, whilst the standard of the football will remain sky high for the foreseeable future, there is the unfortunate feeling that the competition won’t mirror the football. I do sincerely hope that Valencia can win their first title since 2004, or Villarreal pulling something magical out of the hat, but it is far-fetched to think in such a manner.

Here’s hoping for a competitive La Liga next season to mirror the usual fascinating football.