Ceni the star as records crumble
FIFA.com's fledgling 'Have Your Say' series had already been declared a roaring success as the end of October neared, with users' comments flooding in to us in their thousands on subjects debating Ronaldinho and Kaka, the English Premier League and USA's Major League Soccer. Over the past week-and-a-half, however, the response has rocketed to a new level, with over 1,000 publishable views submitted on the world's best goalkeeper and free-kick expert debates alone.
The two best managers in English Premier League history were also reviewed, but we kick off our new, weekly round-up with a look at FIFA.com's most popular story of the week: a one-sided vote on the beautiful game's premier No1.
King of keepers: Rogerio Ceni reigns supreme
With, at the time of writing, almost 60,000 page views and well over 600 comments, the overwhelming response to the question of which goalkeeper stood above all others smashed all existing records on the new FIFA.com. And there was only ever going to be one winner.
He may not be widely regarded outside South America as one of the goalkeeping greats, and his critics will doubtless point to the fact that, at 33, he has only 16 international caps to his name. Rogerio Ceni, however, is clearly more beloved by Brazilians and fans of Sao Paulo in particular than any of his more famous peers currently plying their trade in Europe.
Of the comments we received, at least nine in every ten were in praise of a man who is both dependable between the sticks and, as he has proved on a record 76 occasions, deadly at the other end. "There is no goalkeeper in the world today that is more complete that Rogerio Ceni," wrote Brazilian user cesarssa. "Placing perfect... technique, courage and reflexes unbelievable. And if all this not enough, Rogerio is still the greatest goalkeeper marksman in the history of football."
Finishing a distant second was Gianluigi Buffon, winner of the Lev Yashin award for his efforts at Germany 2006, with Albanian Mitrovicalia leading the praise of the inspirational Italian. "Buffon is from another planet...he's simply the best, and I think he will remain the legend of goalkeepers." Others pledged their allegiance to the likes of Petr Cech, Oliver Kahn, Artur Boruc and Iker Casillas, while Guillermo Ochoa emerged as something of a dark horse, with the Mexican youngster certainly one to watch in the future.
Free-kick master: Too close to call
A runaway winner of our goalkeeper debate, Rogerio Ceni also emerged as one of the prime candidates for last week's initial discussion topic. On this subject, however, the plethora of set piece experts currently gracing the game was underlined as countless candidates were put forward for the honour.
Nearly 10,000 users checked out the debate as 323 comments were posted, and the likes of Cauhtemoc Blanco, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Steven Gerrard, Jay-Jay Okocha, Shunsuke Nakamura, Pierre van Hooijdonk, and Mohamed Aboutrika all featuring at regular intervals.
Andrea Pirlo emerged as an early frontrunner, Imcintyre in England observing that the AC Milan playmaker brings "accuracy, pace and technique" to dead ball situations in any advanced area of the field. Juninho Pernambucano and Juan Roman Riquelme also ranked in the top five, Lyon's Brazilian midfielder hailed as "the maestro" by USA-based rookiehool and his Argentinian rival lauded by Lebanon's Elio10 as "the king of free-kicks".
Just as predictably, the most iconic free-kick taker of the past
decade featured prominently.
Renegade01 from Australia led the tributes: "This
category belongs to one man... David Beckham. They all fall in
comparison to Becks. He has single-handedly put his club team and
country through so many games with those free kicks."
By the end, however, the Rogerio Ceni bandwagon was well and truly rolling, with one of the Sao Paulo talisman's many supporters, LucianoRaus, suggesting that the veteran Brazilian's ability to score set pieces at one end and save them at the other gave him a decisive advantage. "Rogerio Ceni is undoubtedly the free-kick master," the Mexico-based user wrote. "Not only because of the obviously quality and precision of his kicks but specially because he also knows how to defend free-kicks very well too."
Fergie v Wenger: Arsene edges it
Last but by no means least, we had the battle of the two greatest managers in English Premier League history. The pair have enjoyed a fractious relationship down the years and the debate on their contrasting, if equally obvious, merits was every bit as divided.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who celebrated 21 years at helm of Manchester United this week, certainly had his supporters. USA's RZeballos wrote: "Fergie is a hero, he has achieved what no other manager in any of the top world leagues has; whether its Argentina, England, Germany, France, Italy, or Spain. He has created continuity, his team plays with his defined style and taste. Look at United teams from days past, they play with the same key points as they do today."
In the end, however, a very narrow minority determined that Wenger's Arsenal side's slick style of play, and the Frenchman's success on a more limited transfer budget, gave him the slightest edge. Fittingly, an English user, samsstel, summed up this argument: "Arsene Wenger, a great tactician, stands far above all others including Sir Alex. Wenger has magic hands for turning raw materials and potentials into a sought after product. He does not look for stars to sign but grooms unknown players to become world-beaters."