Sometimes the Diggity Doc and the Wildcard talk to each other...
Diggity Doc - The one and only Wildcard, speaker of footballing knowledge, how go thee? Things are taking flight with player movements in the EPL and European football, what's going on?
Wildcard - Howdy Doc. What? Are things happening? I must have been distracted the last few weeks while I was building a shrine to bring luck to Memphis Depay. Yeah, Liverpool made a few splashes in the market. James Miler on a free is brilliant, Danyn Ings on a (mostly) free is solid and the new one, Roberto Firmino for heaps of cold cash is... interesting. The guy's a Brazilian international midfielder so there's some pedigree, but they probably overpaid for him. Which is dumb of me to say because I'm always arguing against transfer values meaning anything and I'm pretty sure LFC will have no shortage of funds in the bank. This dude has a difficult task in helping rebuild the Liverpool midfield, along with Milner, to an unrecognisable point after Stevie G skipped town. None of the other top teams have done much recently, which is weird, but there are no shortage of rumours. Any that are catching your attention, Do? Any potential Gunners you wanna get the rosary beads out for to ease the spiritual paths?
DD - It feels like Liverpool are the team who have to make the biggest jump if they want to level up and then you throw in the loss of Stevie G so I don't think it's any surprise that they have been the busiest. But Liverpool always make me laugh, it seems like for the past few seasons we've seen Liverpool splash some cash only to end up in their usual just-outside-the-top-dogs spot on the ladder. Arsenal on the other hand, well the same hand really because they always seem to get too many players that clog their roster and only end up getting injured. Besides welcoming Peter Cech, I'm happy mate, I'm happy to sit tight with what we've got and build on it. Tell me about Depay...
WC - Depay was one that got done bright and early, in fact they confirmed it before the season was out. He's a young Dutch winger/forward who played a few times off the bench for Louis Van Gaal at the last World Cup. He's fast and aggressive, hits a mean free kick and scores goals. Top scorer in the Eredivisie last season for PSV. From highlights, I actually think he might be a slightly stockier version of your own Alexis Sanchez, which is hyper-exciting. Not wrong about Liverpool either. They stalled last season and this one is a post-Gerrard transition which might actually be a great thing for them. I forgot to mention as well that it looks like Nathaniel Clyne's gonna be promoted to the first team from that development side that the Reds keep in Southampton. Good business, actually. Chelsea have nothing much to do, they need a striker or two and are probably getting Falcao because Mourinho's confidence as a manager knows no bounds. City are drilling for oil as always, massive fees for massive players and Arsenal look like they're sitting fairly tight. It ain't like they need any more attacking players, maybe a defender with Mr Cech. It seems like there's actually been a lull in the window because players are all either playing internationally (Copa America's on) or they aren't back from holiday yet.
DD - Imagine their holidays though, cue Chris Bosh going to Stonehenge. There's been a bunch of footballin' tournaments on with the Copa America and UEFA Under-21 tourny joining the World Cups, but England's departure from the UEFA Under-21 event raised a few questions about player selections. Some people are kicking up a fuss because England didn't select guys like Raheem Sterling or Jack Wilshere, with Harry Kane the only real big name. Where do you sit on this issue? In the big scheme of things, a European Under-21 tourny isn't that big a deal right?
WC - Nah, not really. Most of the guys at those tournaments are playing for scouts and all the English guys already have high profile contracts. I mean, there's plenty to play for and those players will be devastated to go out so soon, because that was a strong English team even without Bubba Sterling. It's just that at that level, everyone is pretty talented and English players have long struggled to play well as teams in international events. Because they're dumb, probably. But they do get some fine holidays, though maybe leave Chris Bosh outta it, he went to Haiti and nearly died when he got back. Much love to Boshy, love that dude. Speaking of basketball, the NBA Draft's been on, and before we get to the ins and outs, how crazy must that be to be a draft prospect sitting there waiting for some team to pick you completely out of your control. There are meetings and workouts, but ultimately you have no idea what your future holds. What team you'll play for, what city you'll be living in... very different from how they get to hand pick the colleges they go to.
DD - Mate the only reason I brought Bosh up was to celebrate him. Name me another NBA player who has been snapped at the mystical lego memorial that is Stonehenge. Basically all these guys, well most of them are sitting there uncertain about the next phase of their lives, that's slightly scary. I'm 50/50 on what the Lakers have done in selecting D'Angelo Russell, like we won't know much until they at least get into free agency or until Russell starts to play.
What would you go with suit-wise? Make a statement or classic and classy?
WC - Plain black, James Bond-esque attire. Nothing but class and assurance. But I'd probably be knockout drunk too. Actually, that fits in with the Bond thing anyway. Hey, I actually reckon the Lakers' pick was my favourite one of the top selections. D'Angelo Russell has everything you need to be a great Laker: An attitude, a cool name and a yellow hat. Oh, and the lad can play some basketball which also helps. Tell ya what, picking a point guard also hints towards some big LAL dealings to come because all the top free agents/tradies are point forwards or centres and they passed over big fella Jahlil Okafor to get Russell. Also, the Kings picked a centre. Sounds like Boogie Cousins, Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge may be in play...
(Add one of them to a team with Russell/Bryant/Randle/Clarkson/A few other battlers and shooters and the Lakers will be back in the playoffs within 2 years)
DD - Well Kobe Bryant won't be there in 2 years which also hints at the need for a guard to take the Lakers forward. What other draft picks have you liked/disliked?
WC - Umm, there's not much to complain about with Karl-Anthony Towns at first. I don't know too much about most of these guys coz I don't really follow college basketball. But I like the sounds of what Denver (Emmanuel Mudiay at 7) and Miami (Justice Winslow at 10) got done, though Sacramento picking a centre drove me a little mad. When will Boogie Cousins ever get some stability!? Jahlil Okafor to a Philly team that already has two massive big men prospects doesn't fit their squad but it fits their talent hoarding mentality exactly, so fair 'nuff. The Knicks are taking a big gamble on Porzingis too, though what else did anyone expect from Phil Jackson?
DD - The Sacramento Kings strike me as a wee bit like the Parramatta Eels, sacked their coach last year, slightly shambolic and no one really knows what they are up to. Who else from the major sporting leagues around the world fit that mould? Newcastle United in English football?
WC - Haha, you're not wrong there. Not many teams can match the shambles of Parramatta, but the Kings are close. Newcastle Utd as well. You can always say some things about the New York Knicks, but they're getting better. The Cleveland Browns in the NFL, maybe? Hey, up until recently I would've chucked English cricket in there too.
DD - So are we in agreement that the Eels truly are shambolically unique? We've both had an up close and personal look at English cricket, given the past year or so, what are your thoughts of England now that they are preparing for the Ashes?
WC - Definitely in agreement. And as for English cricket, I love the direction they're headed in but they're gonna get pasted by Australia. They bring a very different style of aggression and I don't think the so-called new era of English cricket is near ready for it. There'll be tears, mark my words. But Joe Root's batting like the reincarnation of Don Bradman these days, so they'll have their moments.
DD - Yeah Australia are a different beast aren't they. I like England's batting line up but I'm not 100 percent sold on their bowling attack, especially the third seamer spot. I think a true test of England's new attacking mentality will be whether they select Adil Rashid as their spinner or persist with Moeen Ali's tweakers. Picking Rashid would give them a wicket taking spinner instead of an offie who tends to just keeps it tight - I'm not confident that Ali could just keep it tight against Steve Smith and Michael Clarke. It's one thing to play attacking cricket but England haven't shown many kahunas in terms of selections.
WC - Well, we know what Brendon McCullum would do in that situation, he'd pick the wicket taking option. So you're probably right about the true test stuff, we'll be able to tell from the toss whether or not they're all in on the B-Mac School of Leadership or if they were only keen while it was risk-less. Fair weather fans, something Brendon McCullum knows plenty about. Shout out to B-Mac, too, re-signing with NZ Cricket through to the T20 World Cup. I'm a little terrified what happens if he decides to retire early because he seems like that type. Ideally he'd be like DIlshan/Sangakkara and play 'til he's 38 but this is a dude with back problems and a young family. But we're good for another year so that's a problem for future Convos.
DD - B-Mac also has many healthy career options available in India as well. Mate, just to finish with - with the naming of the Under 23 All Whites squad coached by Anthony Hudson do you think we may be creeping into a golden age?
WC - Not to mention his new three year deal with Dan Vettori's Brisbane T20 team either. A golden age? That's contextual, maybe. But also I'd rather think of it as continual growth than reaching a peak that we may just come down from in five years. For as long as I can properly remember, the All Whites have been improving and a large part of that has been the fact that these U23 and U20 sides have been getting international experience ever since Aussie buggered of to the Asian confederation and left us with an almost unguarded automatic spot at World Cups. It's nice to see a lot of U20s making this team too, which to be honest is mostly a sign that the various age groups are working together like they should be. It's pleasing to see, especially after just before naming and shaming a few organisations who don't seem to be able to manage this kinda efficiency.
DD - I'm sticking with the golden age, Hudson will get plenty of time with these lads and I think we'll win the 2018 World Cup ... with the help of my peptides. I better go prepare a special batch with this new horse tranquilizer I got. Over and out.
WC - How do we compromise about a permanent state of goldenness? Where we qualify for every World Cup and our entire squad plays for proper European sides, with our first XI all playing Champions League. That's not too much to ask for... right? A few peptides wouldn't go astray on the journey towards that pipe dream. Catch ya on the otherside, Doc.