31 August 2011

Five-a-Side Fluidity

Watching Liverpool matches since the King himself, Kenny Dalglish took over has without a doubt been extremely refreshing compared to the dark days that immediately preceded it (and to an extent, bar the Benitez era, even the previous decade).

I'm sure it's much more than a case of "go out there and play ball lads" but it certainly seems like that - the five, six and some times up to eight offensive players look like their enjoying themselves playing five-a-side footie. It's not yet Barcelona-type 1,000 passes football but once the players gel, I'm sure it would pretty much get quite damn close. I'm sure it also gives the opposition some headaches. In the previous match against Bolton, Suarez constantly dropped deep with the space being filled inter-changeably by Downing, Henderson, Kuyt and Adam. The movement off the ball was fluid and almost instinctive, it was an absolute joy to watch. Hell, even Martin Skrtel who must've liked what he was looking at in his unusual rightback role, joined in the action and looked like a completely different player.

On the other hand, being a fan of the Arrigo Sacchi approach employed by Benitez, I do feel a bit uncomfortable with the deep-lying defensive line. It's not an issue when the team is playing well but against opponents  who are pro-active and are good at carving-up space (normally the bigger clubs and clubs on the continent), it can get a bit nervy and in theory, without a good link player can isolate the team's offensive element resulting in hoofball. Of course, this is just my preference on the matter. When implemented well, this safety-first approach with the defence has been proven to be effective i.e. Chelsea in the Mourinho era. Clearly, Steve Clarke has had some influence on Dalglish's tactics with regard to this but could it also be because of Jamie Carragher's lack of pace these days?

It'd be interesting to see whether a different high-line/compact approach would be taken should there be a difference in personnel.

Talking of personnel, it's good to know that Liverpool have signed Sebastian Coates. The player himself looks like at a steal at the price being reported but what's more important is the fact that Liverpool appear to be getting the type of players that the club actually wants. No more third or fourth choice players because we have had to sell first or plainly because we didn't have enough funds in the first place.

29 August 2011

The Green Vespa Delivers: Kuih Raya

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to those celebrating in Malaysia and Eid Mubarak to everyone else around the world.

It's a time of forgiveness so, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest apologies to anyone I've offended during the course of the previous twelve months, either through anything I've typed here or in person.

PS: Mabe it's about time I invested in a Givi box or one of those retro cool Prima cases for all these deliveries. Must speak to the wife about this soon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

27 August 2011

All-New Look Scootering

Popped into the local Eason's earlier today on the way to the supermarket. I thought that I'd take a quick look at this month's Scootering, to make sure that I don't miss anything too obvious in the scootering (almost missed the announcement of the 200cc LML last month).

I was pleasantly surprised when I found this month's issue - a new look magazine with more pages and a bound cover to replace the old staples. Oh, and a selection of stickers one or two of which are bound to find its way on my Green Vespa's glovebox.

All that's just superficial of course so, it'd be interesting to see what real improvements can be found within. For that, I'll have to actually flick open and read the magazine....

25 August 2011


I've had this buried in draft among my other posts for a couple of months. I'm glad I came across it a few days ago. This time it's being published so at the very least, it'll be sort of a little reminder for me not miss the movie come this October (hopefully).

Even if the movie turns out to be of the B-grade and straight-to-DVD variety, a good dose of that miraculous match in Istanbul should help prop things up.

23 August 2011

Want a Quicker Scooter? Why Not Try a Bicycle (Wait, what?)

With the start of the new Premier League season and my ever-growing interest in engine-less two wheel contraptions, it can seem like my interest in scooters specifically, my dear old Green Vespa is on the wane. On the contrary though, it's actually very much the opposite.

OK, I have to admit, ever since the start of the season I've been going on about Liverpool this and Liverpool that but that's only normal and comes with the territory. The bicyle thing on the other hand, is definitely abnormal and there's a good reason for that. Let me explain...

Over the past months, I've come to the conclusion that no amount of tuning with my Vespa would result in a significant enough performance increase. Not enough to justify the price that I'd have to pay to buy the necessary parts, get it installed and then pay someone who actually knows what he's doing to properly install the thing. All that and there's still no guarantee that the whole experience will be hassle-free.

And that's the most important bit - the level of hassle-freeness of it all. At the moment, (except for an annoying YSS rear shock that I plan to throw into a skip as soon as I get the chance), my Vespa's back to its normal reliable self. And, with all reliable things that just works, one tends to leave them be. It stays in the background and just does what it's meant to do.

Anyway, back to the topic of performance. This is where I (unsuccessfully?) attempt to justify my recent unfaithfulness to my Vespa when I secretly look at its slimmer, less greasy and lower maintenance cousins online.

Unlike the Vespa, the bicycle is more of a fitness tool. Yes, the plan is to use the bicycle on shorter trips - to the shops, the gym, etc. while at the same time reducing the Vespa to the commuter role with the odd longer journey thrown in. This is not necessarily a bad thing as I would theoretically lengthen the life of the Vespa and also improve its performance. Performance? How so?

Well, by using the bicycle more often, I would in theory, reduce my own weight. Less weight equals quicker Vespa. Quicker Vespa equals happier rider. A win-win situation. And that, beats any tuning kit/performance exhaust that's available on the market today.

21 August 2011

Going British: The Story So Far

Turn the clock back to this time last year and the buzz among football fans was that Liverpool were back on the right track by appointing an English manager to replace Rafa Benitez. Fast forward a couple of months later and it soon became clear that English doesn't necessarily translate into a good thing. At least not automatically when it comes to Liverpool.

A change of manager and another couple of months later saw Liverpool continuing the Go-British policy albeit with players by spending vast amounts of money on new acquisitions. Luis Suarez aside, most of Kenny Dalglish's big money acquisitions since his appointment have hailed from the British isles.

This is not necessarily an issue as each manager would have a preference on where he sources his players. Like Arsene Wenger, Gerard Houllier preferred French or French-based players. Understandably, Benitez would come to rely on Spain and South America when looking for talent. It's only human nature, I suppose and so, if Dalglish wants to look for his players in every corner of Britain (with a well-known soft spot for Ireland) then why not?

The matter appears to have reared its head during yesterday's match against Arsenal. Stewart Downing aside, Liverpool's big money British players on the pitch appeared to have been quite disappointing. Worse still, it all appeared to have been at the cost of Liverpool's foreign contingent with the obvious ones being Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles both of whom were eventually directly involved in Liverpool's two goals that afternoon.

Things however need to be put into perspective, starting with the two players mentioned above. If one were to do the math, it's quite clear that the only break that Luis Suarez has had this year is the two weeks between the end of Copa America and the start of the season. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Suarez needs a bit of a rest. Even if that means being reduced to 10-20 minute cameos for the next games. The same would apply to Meireles who unlike Suarez, didn't play in the Copa but appears to be turning into a midfield version of Danny Agger when it comes to injuries. Both Meireles and Agger bounce back well after their respective injuries but still, the situation needs to be managed. After all we'd definitely prefer if they weren't injured at all.

Then there's the British players themselves. Carroll clearly isn't a centre-forward in the Torres and Drogba mould so, without any close support (the type that Suarez and possibly even Gerrard can offer), he can at times appear to be a bit lost. Not entirely his fault is it? Speaking of support, Jordan Henderson appeared to have been given that role against Arsenal. Although he didn't do anything spectacular, he didn't do anything particularly wrong either. So, if supporters were patient with Lucas at the early stage of his development, then why shouldn't they be equally as patient with Carroll and Henderson?

19 August 2011

All Filler, No Killer

Word on the street is Arsenal are there for the taking tomorrow. At the last count, the team that will represent the London club tomorrow would have at least three inexperienced teenagers in it. The club's captain has finally gone back to his Catalonian home, his ready-made replacement of sorts is on the verge of heading north while the club's most high profile acquisition during the summer will not even be on the bench, having just met Joey Barton recently. All does seem to be in quite a mess there. Or so it seems...

Of course, Liverpool supporters should know better. Applying a modest degree of caution would be wise as after all, this is the same Arsenal whose manager appears to have the knack of finding replacements for his lost key players almost immediately after losing them. This is the same Arsenal that will probably have Andrei "I-scored-four-goals-in-front-of-the-Kop" Arshavin in its midfield tomorrow.

For Liverpool, the time for filling-up the squad is over (OK, preferably bar one or two additions in defence). It's time to go for the kill.


Even more important than tomorrow's match is the quest to reveal the truth of what happened in Hillsborough over two decades ago. Basically, if you are reading this and happen to be a UK citizen or UK resident (there must be a good bunch of UK-based Malaysian Reds that fall into this category), please do your bit and sign-up to the petition here. If you've had your head buried in the sand lately and  haven't heard what's been going on around this matter, you can get some background information here.

17 August 2011

Vespa PX: Cross Process Mullets

Yes, it's been a slow ideas day. Actually, a whole slow month. Wonder what I'd do without my Camera+ app at this stage. I think this particular pic has that 80's feel to it. Obviously the PX helps and to add to the feel, maybe a couple of dudes running around in mullets would've been nice.

I would've liked a mullet of some sort when I was growing up. All the cool dudes had them and I couldn't afford not to be cool. Not that my Dad ever listened. We used to head to Chandran the barber together and get identical 1940's haircuts while listening to Engelbert Humperdinck. But now, when I'd rather do without a mullet, my hair keeps reminding me of my childhood desires and tends to mulletise without much effort. It comes naturally when the hair at the top of my head keeps getting thinner by the day (or plainly refuses to grow any longer than half an inch) while the ones at the back keep getting longer and longer.

Exhibit A: Only in the 80's could this have been considered cool. The boy in the pic is not to be confused with the writer. Thanks to the wisdom of his father (with the help of Chandran and Engelbert Humperdinck), he never had a mullet.

Hmmm...Yes, maybe the Vespa pic is fine as it is, without mullets floating around.

Kyle Plante Mullet pic by: Lifetouch

15 August 2011


I've never been a fan of cyclists. Not all cyclists though. Just the annoying ones who think they own the road and cycle around town as if it's some sort of God-given right that they need not obey the Rules of the Road. OK, maybe even not those ones. Hell, if they suddenly get the urge to be flattened by a Ford Transit on a rainy Monday morning then fine. It's their choice. Don't blame me if your preference is to be friendly with the latest roadkill.

Unfortunately, over the years, there's been a growing trend of cyclists who fall into the above category. Hence, my growing dislike for these cyclists and sometimes that even includes the innocent ones.

Ironically for me, I've taken a liking to bicycles of late. It's probably because my kids are at a bicycle-riding age which in turn, gets my inner child all excited driving me to leap out and grab my old Raleigh BMX and cycle hands-free downhill in front of my parents' house.

Reality normally kicks in at this stage and I'm reminded that I would probably bend the frame of my old BMX beyond repair. If I could still find it, that is. So, I came to the conclusion that I needed to get myself a bike. A brand new one would be quite affordable (especially with the Bike to Work Scheme) but as flashy new bikes tend to disappear into thin air in Dublin, I thought that a good second-hand bike would be best.

And so, the search begins.

13 August 2011

It All Begins (Sort Of)

I knew there was something not right this afternoon. It was just all too good to be true. Even before the season started I knew the opener against Sunderland wasn't going to be available on the telly (except for Setanta Sports) and so, had accepted the fact that it was either the local pub or freely available (but not entirely reliable) online streaming.

Considering the pub was out of the question (at least for the next twenty days or so), a bunch of us were resigned to watching the match online - buffering or no buffering. This was certainly the case until about half an hour before kick-off where we were reliably informed that we could watch the match on our iPhones via the Setanta Sports Ireland app. It would cost me the princely sum of €7.99 for 1-month subscription but taking into account the fact that Setanta were going to show three Liverpool games over the next month, the amount didn't seem too expensive.

No, nothing didn't seem too expensive especially since I was paying to watch a new and improved Liverpool. On paper, in all my years of supporting Liverpool, I've never seen a Liverpool squad with such depth, width and balance. Surely, this would be one of those rare, frustration-free seasons where I could just sit back and watch the Red men pound the opposition into submission especially at Fortress Anfield. Surely...

Unfortunately, even before a Liverpool player could kick a ball, things started to turn pear-shape. Instead of  a panel of football pundits discussing the upcoming match, I was greeted with a puppet Mourinho yapping away on my iPhone screen with a vague message...

Unfortunately the scheduled content is unavailable due to mobile broadcasting rights

WTF? Now you tell me? After I've forked out my hard-eared money? An outright swindle by Setanta.

Needless to say, it was a mad rush to the closest laptop to find a decent streaming site. Ten minutes later and after some start-stop buffering action, I was right on time to catch Charlie Adam's peach of a freekick and Suarez's finishing touch. Goal!

From then on, everything seemed to have gone to plan except after the break. As if to echo my disappointment with Setanta, things were beginning to look bad on the Anfield pitch as well. It appeared as if every single man on the pitch simply switched off for the second half. Of the new signings, the previously athletic and composed Henderson went missing. Adam who before the interval was spraying passes all around the pitch like a Xabi Alonso in tartan, struggled to complete 10-yard passes to next player in red. Stewart Downing who started working on proving his doubters wrong within the first couple of minutes of the match appeared lost. Instead of keeping the team's width he drifted ineffectively in and out of the centre without any real direction. Jose Enrique who looked solid as the solution to Liverpool's leftback woes was beginning to appear shaky an uncertain in the tackle.

Dalglish must've spotted the downward trend in performance as he opted to steady things with the introduction of some experience in the form of Kuyt for Henderson and soon after, Meireles for Suarez. Maybe it was opening day nerves or maybe it was lack of match fitness (or sheer exhaustion for the South American contingent in the team). Whatever the reason, a 1-1 draw against the likes of Sunderland at Anfield just isn't good enough.

Not for Liverpool. Not this season.

11 August 2011

The Crazy World of Scooters

We could blame LML for where we are at the moment. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Indian company saw a market for the classic P-Series design. They snazzed it up a bit with some funky colours, slashed the price (relatively easily done when the scooters are made in India), tweaked the exhaust (to make it compliant with European emissions laws) and sold thousands of them around the world.

Piaggio soon realised this but before it could do anything in reply, LML came out all guns blazing with a preemptive strike - LML did the impossible. Well, at least in 2-stroke classic scooter terms. In late 2009, the Kanpur-based company launched a 4-stroke version of the classic scooter and by Spring 2010, the 4-stroke machines, for better or for worse, were making headlines in Europe. Emissions issues effectively solved and LML looked set to re-enter countries where 2-stroke machines had been completely banned.

Six months later, the much awaited reply from Pontodera finally came with a re-release of the PX. Disappointingly, other than a few cosmetic changes and the addition of a catalytic converter (to comply with emissions laws), Piaggio didn't add much and were seen as choosing the lazy option. Unfortunately for Piaggio, LML weren't actually done just yet.

As soon as they launched their 125cc and 150cc versions of their 4-stroke engines there were rumours going around that they were planning on coming up with a 200cc version (250cc even if you believe some rumours) of the steel-bodied scooter and last month the rumours proved to be true. In Ireland, orders were already being taken for the 200cc LML.

Not wanting to be outdone by LML once again Piaggio are seemingly looking to get their own 4-stroke version. But only in 125cc and 150cc versions. Whether true or not, this piece of news can only be good for the world of scooters.

Then there's the crazy goings on with the other crowd that's looking to re-launch the Lambretta.

09 August 2011

That's Limerick City

 I've never been to Limerick city before but fortunately, my job required that I visit this city of Munster for a couple of days.

The pic above is of one of the entrances to King John's Castle. The first thing that came to mind when I heard the name of the castle was the medieval baddie made famous by tales of Robin Hood and his mates lurking in tight tights hiding behind trees in Nottingham. With a little bit of research, it turns out that the King John in question is the same as the infamous King John.

Unfortunately, other than that a quick walkabout after work that led me to the castle (and a short walk along the River Shannon) most of my time in Limerick was spent in here...

Not that I'm complaining, it's just that it's a shame I didn't get to see more of the city. Thankfully, if you're looking for a guide to the city the internet is filled with resources. Here's one great example.

What better way of getting to know a place than through the local Horse's mouth (pun intended)?

07 August 2011

The Final Countdown

Less than a week to go before Liverpool's official start to the season. Although I keep reminding myself that preseason friendlies don't mean much (accurately described as akin to messing with blow-up dolls as opposed to the real thing by Paul Tomkins) it was still refreshing to get a win against the likes of Valencia.

Can't wait for the real thing now...

05 August 2011

The Day I Caught The Train

Trains. I've always liked them ever since I was a little boy. It's probably because it reminds me of how a long, uncomfortable journey by car to my grandparents' homes in rural Malaysia could appear to be cut short and made bearable.

In recent years, trains have also reminded me of one of Ocean Colour Scene's more popular songs...

Should make a good song to start off my journey by rail next week.

03 August 2011

Explaining Liverpool's Latest Acquisitions (Through Baseball)

Moneyball, based on Michael M. Lewis's book of the same name should be essential viewing for the Liverpool supporter (and all football fans interested in the way the game is managed) whenever it's released later this year. 

What's baseball got to do with the beautiful game and especially Liverpool's recent acquisitions?

Not much really except that Liverpool's current owners are avid followers of the basic principles employed by Billy Beane, the main focus of the book. Like baseball, football is also an unfair game and this is where Liverpool stands at the moment. At present, the club is clearly losing out to clubs that have the financial upper-hand so, a bit of objective thought could just be what the club needs to punch above its weight. It certainly paid off with the Red Sox when in 2004, they won their first World Series since 1918.

And, even if the principles of Moneyball don't actually win Liverpool its first championship in over two decades, then at least, we'll know that the club will always act responsibly and not buy a previously homeless Bébé based on a very subjective hunch.

Anyway, just in case anyone gets the wrong idea, the movie isn't about Liverpool but it will give the average Liverpool supporter (who might not have the time to read the book) some insight into this re-thinking that's happening in Liverpool's football management. Questions like why Downing is still considered undervalued over the obvious options like Young or Mata might be more explainable. Or, why Charlie Adam is preferred over the someone somebody's seen on YouTube and thinks he could do the job Xabi Alonso once did for Liverpool. Well, at least to most of us.

01 August 2011

Scooter Sighting: August Bank Holiday Weekend

The now globally famous Dublin-based Evening Herald riders.

The Vespa's modifications certainly beats my Vespa's puny rear rack in terms of luggage-carrying prowess. Would definitely be handy whenever the wife has a longer than usual grocery shopping list.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
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