Welcome to Top of the Morning, The Other 87’s very own series of personnel Power Rankings. We take a look at all the action of the last month, and attempt to pick the players who made the best of it.
These are not the ten best players in the world, or even the players who performed the best in the last 28 to 31 days. These are the players who improved themselves in terms of perception in the public eye, who made their managers smile, or whose legacy got a nice polish, on the field or off the field, spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically, whatever.
1. Edin Dzeko — Looks like it’s going to be him who benefits the most from Don Mancini’s loosening of the reins over at the City of Etihad Stadium. He’s like the kicker on a high-powered NFL team: less the focal point of City’s offense and more the fortunate beneficiary of it.
7. Peter Crouch — Like Luke Skywalker over Endor, like Harry Potter in the Forbidden Forest, like Arthur Dent, well, failed to do on Magrathea, young Peter has finally accepted his destiny by joining Stoke City.
9. Roberto Soldado — It’s not easy being…white. Just ask Roberto Soldado, who must befeeling the pressure now that Juan Mata has left. But three goals earned three points for Los Che. Things are looking up. As for Ronaldo, we can’t set a precedent of putting him on the list every time he scores a hat trick.
Coaches Ranking: Monster.com New Account Edition
Which ten new coaches (hired in the last 12 months) are in the biggest pots of boiling water?
10-8: “Little Club, Big World” Division
10. Alex McLeish – Before this summer, he was one of the most hated men in Birmingham. Not a lot has changed. As Indiana Jones knows, only the penitent will pass. We’ll see if wins will equal penitence will equal surviving the year.
9. Sinisa Mihajlovic – He turned down an offer to coach Inter Milan to stay with Fiorentina. Hey, if you’re gonna turn down a world-beater, you better start world-beating.
8. Marco Bielsa – He turned down Inter for Athletic Bilbao. Guillem Balague of Sky Sports calls the man crazy and says he lived in isolation Thoreau-style for two years after quitting the Argentina job. Hope he still has the address.
7-6: “Head of State” Division
7. Bob Bradley – Godspeed, Bradley. We’ve seen what they do in Egypt to leaders they don’t fancy.
6. Jurgen Klinsmann – Napa Valley wine tours and walks down the beach. Life’s been cheery for Yogi but now he’s got a big decision to make: White or red? Or maybe a nice Rose…No, seriously. It’s a big country with a lot of angry soccer fans.
5-3: “Billionaire Beneficiary” Edition
5. Leonardo – Okay, Director of Football. But he was given a huge budget, and that comes with huge expectations.
4. Manuel Pellegrini – Here’s a guy who can’t catch a break. He coaches the hell out of Madrid and is shown the door. Now at Malaga he’s been given players and told to win a Champions League spot. One game, no points so far. Best of luck!
3. Andre Villas-Boas – The syllogism that British pundits have used to deduce that Villas-Boas is the next Mourinho is baffling. So ignoring that, this is a man who has to win the Premiership, no questions asked. Remember the halcyon days of Primeira Liga?
2-1: “We’re Losing Patience” Edition
2. Jose Mourinho– He says his second season is always better. He’s got a lot of eyes to poke on his way to the top.
1. Arsene Wenger – We know, he’s not a new coach. But he’s had “fresh, new ideas” for ten years and we’re damn near sick of it.
The Friday Predictions
Holy cow, what a crappy set of European qualifiers. Guess we’re going the friendly route, USA-Costa Rica.
Wes: USA 1-1 Costa Rica. Ah, hell. I’m just being contrarian. I really hope the US wins.
Eric: USA 3-2 Costa Rica. Klinsmann sends the team out desperate to prove his commitment to attacking soccer and the Yanks bag three goals, two for Jozy and one for Brek Shea. But Edgar Castillo is burned twice at left back to keep it close. Well, likely more than twice, but only twice that lead to goals.
Adams: USA 1-0 Costa Rica. Another tenuous win against Central America for our boys.
The Friday Recommendations
Wes: I’m not sure how many of our listeners are fans of @wnycradiolab, but all of you should be. For those of you who don’t know, the show is a somewhat-weekly podcast exploring a big philosophical concept through telling stories and talking to authorities on the matter. In the past, they’ve considered meta-subjects like Time, Sleep, Dreaming, Space, Cities, and Stochasticity. This week’s lab was on Games and Sports. I can tell you now, it’s absolutely terrific. Searching for the significance of ideas like why it is we always root for the underdog; telling stories like the time Bobby Fischer beat a chessmaster twice his age in the Game of the Century and when a two-man basketball team beat a full five-man team–the whole hour you spend listening to Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad is a must listen for any thinking sports fan.
Eric: I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but I did enjoy the hell out of Jonathan Wilson’s The Anatomy of England, his history of the team in ten important matches. I’d still recommend Inverting the Pyramid first, but if you did enjoy that one, then there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t get Anatomy as well. England lose half the matches anyway.
Adams: FIFA 12 pre-order on Amazon. Hey, you know you’re gonna buy it anyway. But if you order it on Amazon, you get a $20 gift card and a free Fathead. Plus, shipping is free through Prime. (Wal-Mart’s got about the same deal, if you’re into low, low prices and jazzy smiley-face rollbacks.)