A Nichey Niche Convo

The Mystery Doctor and the Wildcard talk to each other every once in a while...

Mystery Doctor - Wildcard, I'm not going to play around this week building in to the first topic - Manchester United are back in action and are hands down the favourites for the EPL crownd ... right?

Wildcard - Haha, not even I - a United tragic - am falling for that one. No, we're back and playing decent with confidence but a few of the old issues remain. There still isn't a consistent backline, injuries are still injuries, ya know? Even during the current win streak it hasn't been pretty at all times. The performance against Southampton in the first half was genuinely awful and we got dominated for a while against your Gunners. We're not winning the title this season. But good luck catching us for third place! While we're on the subject of Premier League, though, I wanna pay a small tribute to the legendary Thierry Henry after he retired this week. I know he's one of your favourites and you wrote a nice bit on him already, so I feel like I should say something too and this is the biggest compliment I can pay: he made watching my team concede goals a beautiful thing to witness.

Do you think that could be really bad for United despite it being pretty obvious - their lack of defence can be patched over by sublime attack? Hey at least both our teams have shit defences right? Ah, Terry Henry (say it like he's a Kiwi homie). What a glorious player, has there been a better EPL striker since?

No and yes. No, how can winning be bad? Our defence's big problem is injuries, something else our patchwork D's have in common. Get the lads back fit and it's a different story. Plug Luke Shaw and Rafael out wide, Phil Jones is already back in action, hopefully Marcos Rojo ain't long out himself and of course there's the immaculate Michael Carrick who can fill in there, as he did with such ease against Liverscum. He's the prototypical underrated class act - he brings out the best in those around him at the expense of his own credit. Which is perfect for a defender among young centre-backs! And yes, there have been better strikers. Or if not better, at least as good. Though few had an impact for as long as Terry Henry did (there ya go). I miss the days of Ruud vs Thierry, Keane vs Viera, Scholes vs anyone within sprigs distance... oh and Wenger vs Ferguson! Watch out for the projectile pizza!

I read somewhere that United haven't lost since Michael Carrick's return? It's the bloody CDM position man, the most important position on the footy field and the very reason why Arsenal and United were such great teams, as you said Keane vs Viera. When I own a football team, I'm buying a CDM first. Better than Henry? Better than picking the ball up on halfway (not on a counter) and dribbling through a team? Better than 1 step free kicks? Better than opening the body to bend it in to the bottom right corner while running on the left hand side of the goal? C'mon matey! Henry and Kobe Bryant sit in similar territory within my heart but Bryant's passing of Michael Jordan's points scored doesn't feel as amazing as creaming my undies at footage of Henry.

Yeah, Youtube oughta slap an age-restriction on Best of Henry videos. I dunno, I loved seeing Kobe pass that mark. It clearly meant a lot to him and it's nice that he got something for himself this dark, painful season. I swear, if you watch the slo-mo replay, there's a point - just a frame or two - where you can actually see the beginnings of a smile forming...

Me, I'm just casually enjoying the Dallas Mavericks slide under the radar and secretly hoping that Rajon Rondo ends up in town. It could happen! Hey, imagine Rondo on the Lakers. It won't happen coz LA has zero tradeable assets, but a pass-every-time Point Guard with shoot-every-time Kobe? Perfect match! Kobe might even get the odd shot out of double coverage if that imaginary trade happened.

Rondo will join the Lakers, I can see it, I can sense it ... the Lakers top dogs - Kupcake and the Buss crew have something planned, of course they do, surely, Rondo, surely - that's my deranged Lakers' fan impersonation. Yes I just impersonated myself. Honestly though it's interesting trying to figure out what's going to happen with the Lakers. Right now, besides the Mavy-wavy's who do you want to win the league? It's pretty open and I want the Warriors to win, or OKC who have always deserved something more.

Yeah, OKC deserve the playoff push but there's no guarantee they make it yet, as good as they'e been since Rusty and the Durantula came back. Hey, Steven Adams has been playing well too, secretly! Golden State is the best team I've seen play this season. The Spurs are still the Spurs. But I'm also not counting out my pre-season pick... the LA Clippers. They might be a trade away but Ballmer'll make it happen. Probably announce it screaming into a microphone too. It certainly looks like the Western Conference finals might be harder than the NBA finals this season. Mark Cuban suggested realignment, aka swap a few teams around, others say make the playoffs regardless of conference. I dunno, it's weird. Hey the NRL draw came out this week, anything catch your eye?

I don't there's anything that should be done to save the Eastern Conference ... wait, there's an Eastern Conference!? Oh yeah, that's where Lebron plays. It's just a wave, things will swing back and even out soon enough. Clippers vs Warriors for the West will be bloody awesome viewing. Umm well I as the chief rugby league guy, haven't even looked at it - that's how much I care. The only thing I really cared about was the extra games involving the Pacific nations, other than that, meh. Did you see that the Sea Eagles almost all got hypothermia climbing up Australia's tallest peak ... and that Eric Watson and the Warriors are about to enter a period of exellence? They've got a fair way to go and it starts with doing some crazy pre-season shit like the other NRL clubs.

Well here's where I take exception to the NRL draw. The Warriors are playing all their home games as Mt Smart except for one... against the Dragons in Wellington. To paraphrase a TV character: "Those BASTARDS! Those complete and utter bastards!" The one chance I get to see my team a year and they take it away from me. I don't think that period of excellence is necessarily that far away though. Teams try to build for the future and it looks like they're going nowhere until it all clicks one season, usually much sooner than expected. You see it all the time. Like, what are they missing at the Warriors? Every position is covered, they have a good coach with a full off-season, it's just the mental side of things. I for one have zero issues with the leadership of Simon Mannering and Shaun Johnson. And it's not like Ryan Hoffman makes anything worse either. They did juuuust bad enough last season to convince everyone that it wouldn't be their year... and if there's one thing the Warriors thrive as it's being the underdogs. I missed the hypothermic Seagles though. Good job is all I have to say.

I thought you were going to say something worthwhile ... I wouldn't mind going to a Welly game though. Yeah I've been a bit all over the show with the Warriors, I definitely feel they have what they need, like absolutely everything to win a ring. But so do probably 5-6 other NRL clubs who have top dog coaches and toughness, so they already have a head start. I'm always optimistic about the Warriors though, but I feel like they are a team at the level of their coach - a year in with potential. Instead they have an owner hyping everything up

Haha, well I doubt the Dragons are one of those 5-6 teams, so maybe it wasn't that worthwhile. It's tough like that, aye? Coz there are always these conflicting narratives over who should win titles and who deserves them and legacies and all that. But it's kinda false. You need a team to win a comp, so judging player failures is pointless, and even if you have a team good enough you need plenty of luck to go your way. It's not quite as bad as the NBA or NFL where Rings = Success, but there's still that prevailing idea that the Warriors are underachieving until they win a championship. That's pretty dismissive of the dominance of sides like the Sea Eagles, Storm (when applicable), Broncos and the 2010 St George Illawara Dragons.

Yeah but there comes a point where the Warriors are 50 years in and they haven't won anything and it sucks, tremendously. They have the talent, the young blood and key men in key spots but I think because we're across the ditch, we don't quite realise the level of the rest of the NRL. But I think Andrew McFadden is of a similar mould to Trent Robinson and Michael Maguire, so there's definitely hope. There's a high chance that the NRL is like the current NBA season where you're looking around and anyone can win. If that's the case, then the Warriors just need to win a few games that they usually loose and they're in there like swimwear.

I would like to add that Ryan Hoffman is a huge signing, considering we all cry about needing a tough Aussie forward who oozes professionalism. We now have two with Jacob Lillyman coming off a beast season. Buy of the year possibility for sure

Well, Dane Nielson's the buy of the year, but yeah, Hoffman comes close. 50 years. Good God. There might even be a new D'Angelo album by then! I don't think it takes that long though. I think eventually they learn the lessons and it's not like they haven't come close before - they've been to two finals. Just. One. More. Step...

I completely overlooked the fact that you, Sir Wildcard now worship Dane Nielsen. Reckon he'll start? No Gerrard Beale or Kyle Stanley ... here we go - Josh Dugan to be fullback ... or centre with Adam Quinlan at fullback? Yeah, heaven forbid it takes 50 years

Dugan fullback, Nielsen in centres with a young'un (Runciman?) and maybe a Mata'utia on the other wing opposite Gypsy Nightingale. Sounds decent, but not title decent. Competing for 8th decent maybe if there are no injuries and Trent Merrin stays. Eh, I'm realistic, we're not gonna win. Rabbitohs the early favourites? Nobody ever seems to repeat.

Sounds about right and about time for Runciman, been hearing a fair bit about him for a while. I'm not sold on any favourite right now, there's arguments for the Rabbitohs, Roosters, Cowboys, Bulldogs, Storm, Panthers ... Warriors, Broncos etc. Love the Dale Finucane buy for the Storm, that could be buy of the year as well ... Ben Barba, not so much.

The Cowboys must be dangerously close to the Warriors underachievement status. The Bulldogs? They can rot. They know what they did to me...

You'll be better off mate, pop a few peptides and be on your Mary way (get it, or is it Merry?). The Doggies won't be a ship with Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson, nor will they lead NSW to Origin glory in 2015 ... peace!

Would you believe I don't even know? I've never seen McGregor's nickname written down before. Anyway, sounds a plan. Long days and pleasant nights to you, Doc.