Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Aug 8 2015, Page 66

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - August 8, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C11 winnipegfreepress. com SOCCER WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 2015 C 11 D OES soccer show me how I see the world? Forgive me the introspection, but this is election season. It’s an introspective time. At least it should be. I sometimes think we carry certain perceptions of ourselves to the ballot box. We believe we’ve come to terms with those emotive issues that have taken us there. If not, we at least hold that one candidate, leader or party tends to resonate more with our principles and reactions of conscience than the others. Then there are those of us who don’t participate at all. But there are lessons, too, in both disenfranchisement and laziness. Or at least motivators for further introspection. When it comes to the process of determining government it is absolutely vital that we know ourselves — that we know our sensitivities, and treat them as objectively as possible; that we know our standards and are confident enough in them to project them into the world by voting. But, I think, it is equally important to understand how we know ourselves — how our trigger points are aggravated here and not there; how our scruples align there and not here. And the way we spend, and have spent, our time provides an indicator. Provides a reflector, if you will. I’ll use myself as an example, and soccer as my reflector. One of the things that initially drew me to the sport was the action beyond the field of play — the choreography among the fans, the singing, the drums. Those elements remain for me an invigorating part of the spectacle, which reflects within myself a fondness for music, visual art and, more broadly speaking, the collective. Soccer’s worldly, global characteristics also reverberate with me. I treasure the national and city rivalries, and the age- old contexts to them, and I find a similar chord is struck when I consider topics of international relevance — those things that would fall into a foreign affairs file. In combination, my resonance with both the spectacle and universality of soccer suggests I also value what political scientist Benedict Anderson would call “ imagined community.” Given the noises, pictures and worldliness of the sport, it’s never as if I’m watching it alone, whether I’m at Old Trafford or on my living- room sofa. For me, the world is not a lonely place; I have never been comfortable with isolationist narratives. In that, soccer reflects more a yearning for togetherness than belief in the singular. It also reflects the trust I place in my instincts. Or lack thereof. Thank goodness for instant replay. I am rarely one to jump out of my seat and wildly protest a foul, booking, penalty or offside decision. I simply don’t trust my immediate reactions and prefer to have at least a bit of supplementary information before making a judgement. Incidentally, I also despise the offside rule. In its current interpretation ( and there have been several) it exceeds the logic of what offside really is and serves, by way of botched translation, to benefit one aspect of the game at the expense of another. These peculiarities would seem to be at odds with each other, at once withdrawing trust in myself and placing it elsewhere while discarding confidence in the rules for the sake of coherence. But they also reflect an aversion to reactivity and a preference for pragmatism. Then there’s diving. I’m far less disgusted by the act of it — by a player feigning contact and going to ground — than are other observers. I’ve simply seen too many dribblers hacked to pieces with the ball at their feet and recognize diving, as they do, as a means to gain an advantage on the aggressors. Admittedly, there’s a lot about soccer I don’t know, and as I press what I think are its boundaries I find it to be bigger and more complicated, and in some cases more perplexing, than I had previously imagined. Much like myself, if I’m perfectly honest. It seems the more introspective I become, the more mystery I turn up. Which is why reflectors, such as soccer, are of immense help. They test those perceptions of myself I carry with me. They emulate, in flashes, how it is I see the world. jerradpeters@ gmail. com Twitter @ JerradPeters KICKABOUT JERRAD PETERS L ONDON — Chelsea could have to begin the defence of its Premier League title without striker Diego Costa when the champions host Swansea at Stamford Bridge today on the opening weekend of the new season. The Spain striker, who propelled Chelsea to the domestic title with 20 goals in 2014- 15, missed his side’s 1- 0 loss to Arsenal in the Community Shield last weekend with a hamstring problem. It’s the same type of injury that restricted his appearances throughout the last campaign and Jose Mourinho is unlikely to risk Costa’s health early. That means new signing Radamel Falcao could spearhead Chelsea’s attack for the opening encounter. Falcao’s arrival at Chelsea is an intriguing one — the Colombia international was one of the most prolific marksmen in the game until his clinical form deserted him last season during a loan spell at Manchester United from Monaco. He managed only four goals in 29 appearances in an underwhelming year at Old Trafford. But Mourinho has taken a chance on the forward, again on loan, hoping to help Falcao return to the form that saw him score 68 times in 86 appearances for Atletico Madrid from 2011- 13. Here are some other things to know ahead of the first round of Premier League fixtures this weekend: FIRST THE WORST FOR UNITED? Manchester United began last season with the early Saturday kick- off against Swansea and lost 2- 1 at Old Trafford in Louis van Gaal’s first game in charge. The Dutchman will be hoping it is not an omen, as his team again takes part in the Premier League curtain raiser on Saturday, this time hosting Tottenham. Van Gaal could hand debuts to Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian and still has David De Gea in his ranks, despite regular reports Real Madrid is lining up a move for the goalkeeper. De Gea would have to keep Tottenham’s Harry Kane at bay, as the striker looks to build upon his breakthrough season last year where he scored 31 goals in all competitions. RODGERS BACK AT THE BRITANNIA Liverpool returns to Stoke on Sunday, the scene of a humiliating 6- 1 mauling on the final day of last season. A beleaguered Brendan Rodgers accepted after the game that “ if the owners want me to go, I will go.” But he remains as Liverpool manager and leads a new- look side back to Stoke, looking to banish the memories of the defeat in May. Christian Benteke bolsters Liverpool’s attack after a $ 50.7- million switch from Aston Villa. Behind him, Phillippe Coutinho could be partnered by his Brazil compatriot Roberto Firmino, who joined Liverpool in a reported $ 45.8- million transfer from Hoffenheim. Central midfielder James Milner, a free transfer from Manchester City, appears set to fill the void left by former captain Steven Gerrard, who left after 17 years for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Jordan Henderson takes over the armband. Rodgers has spent big in the off- season and the team must show significant improvement early, or he will immediately be back under scrutiny. CECH MATE FOR ARSENAL Arsenal’s season begins at home to West Ham and Arsene Wenger can be quietly optimistic of his team’s chances of mounting a title challenge. The arrival of goalkeeper Petr Cech, from London rival Chelsea, strengthens a defence that has often lacked the assured nature of its rivals, such as Chelsea and Manchester City, who have regularly competed for domestic glory in recent years. The 33- year- old Cech won four Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge and his presence is expected to add some sternness to Arsenal’s backline. Striker Alexis Sanchez will not feature against Slaven Bilic’s West Ham. He is being rested after winning the Copa America with Chile in July. STERLING SET FOR CITY DEBUT Raheem Sterling can make his debut for Manchester City on Monday at West Bromwich Albion. The winger became the most expensive English footballer ever when he signed for $ 76 million from Liverpool in July. City finished second to Chelsea last year, surrendering its Premier League title by eight points. Despite only being 20 years old, Sterling will be expected to repay some of his fee swiftly as Manuel Pellegrini’s side attempt to overturn the gap this time around. — The Associated Press TIM IRELAND / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Diego Costa is congratulated by Chelsea teammates after scoring a penalty during an English Premier League match against Sunderland last season. Loss of Costa would sting Chelsea might have to open season without star striker By Jack Bezants LONDON — Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho signed a new four- year contract Friday ahead of the London club starting its Premier League title defence. The 52- year- old Portuguese returned to Chelsea in 2013 for his second stint in charge and ended the team’s five- year Premier League title drought in May. “ If the club is happy, I am happy,” Mourinho said. “ It is important we have this continuity and I hope we can enjoy more success in the future — for the fans, the players and the club. “ I said when I returned here two years ago that I have a special feeling for this club and nothing changed. It is the club closest to my heart and I am very happy to know I will be staying here for a long time.” The new season begins today against Swansea, with Mourinho looking to win back- toback titles as he achieved in 2005 and 2006. “ We are very happy that Jose has committed four more years to the club,” director Marina Granovskaia said. “ Since his arrival two years ago he has carefully developed the playing squad and brought trophies to Stamford Bridge. “ We look forward to the next four years and the continued success of the team.” — The Associated Press Mourinho signs new four- year deal Soccer serves as a reflector C_ 11_ Aug- 08- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C11 8/ 7/ 15 8: 36: 00 PM

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