Sports / April 15, 2010

Random soccer notes

A few things have happened this week in soccer that are worth talking about, so I’m just going to throw in my two cents.

Firstly, Pelé’s assertion that Messi must score 1,000 goals to be considered the best in the world. If you ask any random person in the world about the best soccer players of all time, they will probably give you a short list. Diego Maradona, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and some others depending on their team or country of choice, but unless you’re talking to an Argentine, the list will probably be topped by one four letter name: Pelé.

One of the most prolific scorers of all time, Pelé is one of only three or four players (depending on who you ask) who have scored more than 1,000 goals in their careers. Even his record is disputed, as many of them were in friendly or non-official matches. There’s a lot of debate as to who exactly has scored 1,000 goals and how they should be counted. Romario is the most recent player to have done so, but many of his goals come from Junior League soccer or practice matches with Brazil. According to FIFA, his actual tally is 929. Before him, the only other people that have even come close were all more than 20 years ago.

Considering this, Pelé’s statement this week should seem ridiculous to anybody. When told that Messi was being considered in a list of the best players of all time, he said, “They are always trying to compare someone to Pelé. I always joke with my Argentine friends that they must first choose who is the best player from Argentina. Then, when one of them scores 1,000 goals, then we can start talking.”

Nobody should expect someone to score 1,000 goals in this day and age, especially someone who plays as a winger and often prefers to set his team up for a goal as opposed to taking a chance himself. My guess is that Pelé was just taking part in some teasing of Brazil’s international rival and throwing in a backdoor-brag along the way. But the press have gotten a hold of the story and run headlines stating: “Pelé: Messi must score 1,000 goals first.”

Real Madrid’s search for a coach

After Madrid dominated the transfer market this summer and bought some of the top players in the world, expectations were high for the club. However, they lost in the Champions League and got knocked out of the Spanish cup by a non-professional team from the third division in Spain. Now, after losing to Barcelona 2-0 this past weekend, it’s looking like Real Madrid are down and out for the entire season. Blame is being thrown everywhere, but, as happens often in sports, the heaviest amount of blame is falling on the coach: Manuel Pellegrini.

Madrid has consistently blamed their coaches for poor performance year after year and has gone through nine managers in the last seven years. But this isn’t a recent thing. Since 1990, Vicente del Bosque is the only coach to have served the club for more than two consecutive seasons. In that time period, Manchester United has stayed with just one.

Replacing their manager every year certainly doesn’t help with consistency, especially when their long time captain Raúl and co-captain Guti are both talking about retiring. Unless they bring in somebody who really knows how to take a non-functioning club and shape it into something workable like José Mourinho, Fabio Capello, or Gus Hiddink, they are dooming themselves to failure.

Gordon Barratt

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