Thursday, January 31, 2008

Arsenal sign 15 year old striker

Gillingham have sold hot prospect Luke Freeman to Premier League giants Arsenal. The 15 year old was the center of transfer attention from West Ham and Newcastle but was sold to Arsenal for a 200k pound fee. The contract is for 2 years, he will become part of the Gunners's youth squad.

Freeman gained some notoriety by becoming the youngest ever player to play in the FA Cup.

"He is left-footed with a good eye for the goal. He is brave and has a good, positive personality. He is only 15 years old of course so we need to be patient but he's a very interesting prospect. He is another one for the future." - Arsene Wenger

The Gills manager Mark Stimson confirmed the deal and Freeman as one of England’s brightest prospects. While he fought to keep the player at the club where he would get first team football, the lure of Arsenal was too strong.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Argentine teen striker swooped up

Chelsea have beaten out Manchester United and Liverpool and completed the signing of Argentine teenager Franco Di Santo on a four and a half year contract from from Chilean side Audax Italiano.

Di Santo is an Argentina Under 20 international and joins Chelsea for a 3m pound fee. Standing 6ft 4in the forward tends to tower over South American opposition, even at his height the inevitable comparisons to Maradona persist.

Di Santo holds an Italian passport and takes the spending by Avram Grant to 27m pounds during the transfer window after signing Nicolas Anelka and Branislav Ivanovic.

“It is going to be a dream to be next to Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Andriy Shevchenko and Nicolas Anelka. I am going to watch how they play and if I am called on to be part of the team, I will give my maximum ... To be changing next to Drogba will be something out of another world.” –Di Santo


Thursday, January 24, 2008

How good was Fernandes last night?

Portuguese international Manuel Fernandes has made his second debut for Everton last night against Chelsea and he looked fantastic. After completing his second loan move to the club, first from Benfica, now from Valencia, it appears things have been righted and he slotted right in.

The reception he received last night was excellent, and his form looked like he had not left for over half a year. From the get go, he was busy and involved. I thought his passing was particularly good, jabbing balls regularly into the feet of Mikel Arteta, they proved to be the cornerstones of Everton’s best moves.

Everton played well last night but were undone by Chelsea’s quickness. Everton’s back line play well, especially as a unit but pace is lacking and it made Chelsea look more dangerous than they really were.

Manuel Fernandes will help this problem point. He’s quick and has excellent timing and had some excellent defensive moments last night. He was also out of position a few times, but we can probably chalk that up to a lack of time with the team.

Everton’s best spells were early on and midway thru the second half, and coincidentally they came when the ball was being played thru midfield. How many times was a hopeless ball launched at Andy Johnson last night with nobody within 20 yards? When Osmon and Fernandes were on the ball, Arteta and Cahill were fed and Everton looked able to get the goal they needed to even up the aggregate score.

The thing I noted most was the class and confidence Fernandes gave the side last night. I was impressed how well he worked in tandem with his midfield and back line, and I am sure Mikel Arteta is pleased as well. Now if they could just do something about Carsley (I know, I know, but I don’t rate him). Everton lost last night, but looked really good despite it.

Time to make his starting place permanent and complete the loan move as soon as is contractually possible. Manuel Fernandes is as talented as any holding midfielder in world football and could be that little extra that David Moyes claims Everton lack.


With Bianchi gone, looks like one of 3 to replace him

Rolando Bianchi has returned to Italy joining Lazio from Manchester City. Bianchi was signed from Reggina but has not settled, and sealed a loan with an eye on a permanent transfer. As a replacement, City have targeted Sevilla striker Luis Fabiano, Real Zaragoza striker Diego Milito and more recently Eidur Gudjohnsen from Barcelona as potential replacements.

Deals for Lyon’s Fred and Lukas Podolski from Bayern Munich appear dead. With that, Sven has to target other players.

Fabiano is joint leading scorer in Spain with 13 goals this season appears interested in a move, but his latest comments appear to indicate he can attract a larger club and a bigger salary. Maybe it’s just posturing. I don’t see a better opportunity for him, so it looks promising.

Real Zaragoza striker Diego Milito has also been tipped. The 22 year old Argentine is highly rated in Spain but new manager Javier Irureta appears very unwilling to negotiate but 15 goals in 24 matches and a good offer can change that. City would have to spend almost 20m pounds to make a deal, though so this would be a surprise to see happen.

An option has also appears today as signals have reached Barcelona that Eidur Gudjohnsen is welcome back to England, the former player desperate for regular football. The price may be right also. An offer in the range of 7m pounds and a guaranteed starting spot could see a deal.

One thing is for certain, Manchester City have sold before buying and are thus in a bind. Other clubs will try and force the price as they know the club will be desperate to hold on to their solid start to the season.


Boro agree terms with striker

Middlesbrough have agreed on personal terms with Heerenveen striker Afonso Alves, the 26 year old Brazilian is ‘Boro manager Gareth Southgate’s long prized transfer target. It appears he has his man.

Alves has apparently muddied his own waters by signing a contract with AZ Alkmaar who has taken the case to the KNVB to force the move, or more cynically, get some compensation from the situation. At this point, why would they want a player who doesn’t want to play there.

Alves visited the Riverside on January 13 where he was given a guided tour by Southgate.

The KNVB has ruled against Alkmaar.

Boro appear to be splashing out on Alves to the tune of 10m pounds. The move could signal the possible move from Newcastle for defender Jonothan Woodgate as the club seek to fund the transfer.

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African Cup of Nations Drama, unfortunately off the pitch

For all the good football on show at this month’s African Cup of Nations, Benin coach Reinhard Fabisch has revealed he was asked before the team’s match against Mali if he would help fix the result.

Benin lost in the Group B match by a 1-0 score line. The game was decided after they conceded a penalty during the second half. Doubts are now in the air about the penalty, whether the player (Alain Gaspoz) was implicated or even the match referee. You can bet if they approach the manager, they would also approach players.

Fabisch was approached in the team’s hotel:

"He wanted to find out from me if there was any possibility of manipulating the match," Fabisch said of the approach. I told him: 'Look, you have two minutes to leave the hotel or I will call the police'."

The incident took place Saturday, just two days before the game in Sekondi.

Fabisch had subsequently warned his players to inform the team of any approaches.

Benin play Ivory Coast in Sekondi this Friday.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Arsenal drubbed, Adebayor head butts teammate (video)

Things got ugly last night. Arsenal were throttled 5-1 by Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup. Emmanuel Adebayor head butted his teammate Nicklas Bendtner. Not good.

The Togolese international striker came on as a substitute for Theo Walcott in the second half with the side already 4-0 down. Adebayor seemed completely out of control and couldn’t handle the situation.

The incident happened as the pair were in the box waiting for Cesc Fabregas to take a free kick in the 80th minute. Adebayor lashed out at Bendtner and eventually head butted him, leaving him with a cut on his nose and triggering a frenzy of team mates stepping in to separate the pair. William Gallas eventually restored order but Adebayor seemed to remain a bit crazed as seconds later he should have been sent off for a hand in the face, which would have been a second bookable offense.

Arsene Wenger claimed he didn’t see it.

Referee Howard Webb took no action against the players but they could still face disciplinary action as the video can be studied by an FA panel.

Spurs took the matchup 6-2 on aggregate and have booked their place in the final at Wembley, well deserved as the fracas between Arsenal players overshadowed their excellent performance.

The rest of the game was tense between the Arsenal strikers. Mathieu Flamini was seen screaming from the bench at Adebayor to calm down and Arsenal's team staff had to hold Adebayor back before entering the of the tunnel to avoid further confrontation.

Unfortunately the video does not show everything, but watching the second half, it’s pretty clear Adebayor is frustrated with Bendtner’s effort culminating in the first scene where he is doggedly chasing the ball, then a moment later, Bendtner fails to pass it to Adebayor and tries to go it alone. This seems to really anger Adebayor, as you can see when he marches away and glares back at Bendtner.

Then the whistle goes and on the top right he dashes over to Bendtner. The incident continues in the top right as the close up of the placement of the ball for the free kick takes place. Bendtner is then doubled over.

Seconds later, Adebayor should have been red carded as the hand to the face looked pretty deliberate to me:

Note: Video flagged for copyright violation, but you can see it here:


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Friday, January 18, 2008

Tiago to Tottenham rekindled after player outburst

Portuguese international midfielder Tiago Mendes has declared he must leave Juventus after 2 horrible performances and 2 half time substitution which sees the potential for Tottenham to revive their bid for the player after Juande Ramos has said he wants to sign a central midfielder.

Tiago’s outburst came after Juventus won their Coppa Italia match against Empoli:

"I can't stay here any longer, the best thing for me would be to leave."

Tiago signed for Juventus from Lyon over the summer for 7m pounds but has not settled in the Italian League as it appears his playing style has clashed with the league and teammates.

Last Saturday he was in the starting 11 to face Catania but a woeful first half performance saw him hauled off at the break. It happened again Tuesday night against Empoli with Juventus trailing 4-3 on aggregate.

Tiago, 26, has been linked with a transfer for several weeks now and has resigned himself to an exit. Tottenham’s bid was rejected recently but talks seem imminent as the manager has given up as well.

Ranieri has done his best to defended the player but now:

“He played really badly, he didn’t play with the right tempo and he was always passing the ball backwards. It was a performance without personality”

Harsh words. Would it be any better at Spurs?

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Platini’s greatest goal

Michel Platini was one of the greatest players ever, and an icon at his former club Juventus. For such a studied player, his greatest goal came from a brilliant piece of improvisation back in 1983 versus Ascoli.

The play started out with the famous number 10 playing the ball into feet from midfield and receiving it back in a classic 1-2. But the ball came back behind Platini and off the ground which forced the playmaker to improvise.

And improvise he did, as he flicked the ball in the air over his head directly into his own path, in the box with a chance on goal but still a lot to do. The ball bounced high for Platini but he made due, redirecting the ball with the sole of his raised foot into the corner of the goal well outside the path of the keeper. A sumlime demonstration of talent:

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Manchester City striker on his way

Manchester City and Birmingham City have agreed to a transfer fee for Greek international striker Georgios Samaras. The player is currently negotiating personal terms with Birmingham.

Samaras joined Manchester City for 6m pounds from Dutch side Heerenven FC two January transfer windows back in 2006.

Samaras has had an up and down ride at City since his arrival. He scored six goals last season after an impressive start at the club but, after being given a chance, has been left out of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s plans.

The 22 year old has featured in a total of 65 games for the club scoring 12 goals.Charlton Athletic and Coventry City were interested in a loan deal for Samaras but it appears a permanent deal is on the cards.

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Bolton striker bid rejected

Bolton Wanderers have failed to land striker Louis Saha from Manchester United after a 7m pound bid was rejected for the French international. Bolton are looking for a boost up front after selling Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea last week.

Gary Megson, new Bolton manager, has money to spend after the 15m pounds garnered from Anelka's sale and it appears he’s going to spend it during the window as Bolton are in a fight to stave off a relegation to the Championship.

Saha has been recovering from an injury and appears to be ready to re-join the side.

United rejected the bid outright and told Megson the player was not for sale.

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Veterans back to fitness could be big boost

Paul Scholes looks set to make his long delayed return for Manchester United in their FA Cup fourth round match against Tottenham at the end of the month. Scholes suffered a knee injury against Aston Villa back in October.

The 33 year old retired England international has completed his recovery and is just waiting from clearance from the team doctors. The veteran comeback also included Gary Neville from his ankle injury which has seen him out for 11 months.

As United have maintained pace with Arsenal at the top of the table, these returns could serve as a big boost entering the latter part of the season.


AC Milan’s extraterrestrial (video)

“There are some extraterrestrials in football and from what I saw yesterday at San Siro, Pato is certainly one of them” said Juventus manager Claudio Ranieri as has described AC Milan youngster Alexandre Pato who made his debut against Napoli recently.

The 18 year old sensation’s debut was long awaited since signing for Milan in the summer from Internacional Porto Alegre. He was ineligible until this month due to Brazilian transfer laws for players under age 18. A media frenzy ensued all over Italy, and he did not disappoint with Italian papers calling his performance electrifying. AC Milan won 5-2 win at the San Siro.

You can see the highlights here:

Pato was showered with praise from all things Milan: Paolo Maldini, Carlo Ancelloti, Leonardo and a host of other former and current players.

The best praise of all comes from me: he actually made Ronaldo look good.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is the tide turning on Liverpool owners?

Dismay is taking hold at Anfield since Tom Hicks, Liverpool co-owner, let it out that Jurgen Klinsmann was approached in November to take over as manager should Rafa Benitez be fired (I mean quit). You’d think a lesson was learned since Tottenham was caught with their pants down approaching Juande Ramos. But what happened? And is Liverpool getting a case of buyer’s remorse?

First of all, nobody knows why Tom Hicks spilled the beans. My guess is he beat a newspaper to the scoop and headed off the surprise. The other possibility is to sound out to the football world that he’s not afraid to do whatever it takes. Letting people know about Klinsmann sends a signal.

One thing is for sure, Benitez’s position at the club is seriously weakened. I think in America, they call this "blowback".

Hicks defended his approach calling it an “insurance policy” in case Benitez quits. But why would be led to believe this when the manager has been nothing but dedicated. For one, I don’t believe this.

It appears Hicks has also led himself into legal repercussions in what is called a “constructive dismissal” because the owner has undermined someone’s position while still in it. This undermines an implied mutual trust that is part of any employment contract and entitles Benitez to compensation.

Are Liverpool supporters getting frustrated with the ownership? Rumors of selling the club are out there. It seems that the Texan style of ownership doesn’t really mix too well with European football. It just seems like Hicks and Gillett are learning on the job.

While it’s easy to heap pressure on the manager, what about owners that are failing to own the club in a way that lends towards success. I find it troublesome that the elements of Liverpool that are good are not being supported. Rafa Benitez has been a good for Liverpool. Hicks and Gillett have spent money, but are failing to let people get on with their work.

I remember all the glee about the money pouring in when they bought the club, looks like money is just money. Money gives access, its what you do with it.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

'Geordie messiah' to be unveiled as new United manager

That is how highly regarded Kevin Keegan is among Newcastle United fans. Tyneside has a new manager, and he hopes to bring the club back from all of their recent problems. One thing is for sure: you won’t get boring football from a Keegan team.

The news was dramatic, the 56 year old former Liverpool icon managed Newcastle from 1992 to 1997. Didier Deschamps was strongly linked with the post but the surprise announcement will be welcome at St. James Park. Keegan managed Newcastle to promotion in 1993 and almost won the league in ’96.

Keegan’s last foray into management came with Manchester City in 2005, before that he was England manager and also had a stint at Fulham. Since Keegan left Newcastle 6 managers have taken up the post, all have failed and it’s been 4 decades since Newcastle has won anything.


Former Chelsea player wants Newcastle hotseat

Former Chelsea midfielder, triple Serie A champion, and World Cup winner Didier Deschamps wants to take on the hot seat as Newcastle United manager.

According to his agent Jeannot Werth, no official approach has been made but Deschamps wants to make it clear he wants an interview. This is very similar to how Fabio Capello sounded England out about the national post, and the former Juventus player has emerged as the bookmakers’ odds on favorite to get the job.

Last week Sam Allardyce left the job amid unrest from the Newcastle supporters.
The 39 year old has also been the Juventus manager and is the bookmakers' favourite to succeed Sam Allardyce after it appears the field is very thin on candidates. The only condition that Chairman Chris Mort has place on the new manager is that he must speak English.

While the resume is thin, Deschamps did bring Juventus from forced relegation back into Serie A after a recent match fixing scandal involving a number of clubs and referees.

A second former Chelsea player, Gianfranco Zola has been rumored as being his number two in charge.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Has Tottenham beaten out rivals for Brazilian?

Tottenham is on the verge of edging out Paris St. Germain, Portsmouth, West Ham, Middlesbrough and Manchester City to the signing of Brazilian international striker Fred from Lyon.

Seems a bit counter intuitive to me. Tottenham has scored 42 goals this season, no worries there, but has leaked an incredible 40, that’s a relegation number. Dimitar Berbatov doesn’t look to be heading away from the Lane, and the club has seen the return of Ledley King which will hopefully lend some stability. I don’t see a reason to do it except that they are picking up a pretty good bargain, around 9-11m pounds.

Harry Redknapp may offer Jermain Defoe a way out of Tottenham.

Another reason the Fred deal looks set is because Jermain Defoe has been told he can go and Darren Bent is being shopped around. Personally, I’d rather have Fred than either Defoe or Bent, but how can it be that players can barely last a season after a 16m pound move. I mean, hey, this wasn’t just up to Martin Jol.

Fred, 24, has lost his regular starting spot at the 5 times French champions to Karim Benzema who has wowed everyone with some stunning football.

Fred has finally spoken out to the media about his future:

“I hope my future will be sorted on Wednesday, I have two offers, one from Tottenham and one from Paris St Germain”

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Is Benitez really sunk?

Amazingly yes, just about. Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez appears to be on his last legs as manager of Liverpool and for one, I think it’s a disgrace.

Benitez will battle to keep his post but it seems only a matter of time like it did with Martin Jol and Sam Allardyce. Will he stay on for the rest of the season? Probably because I am really convinced that Jose Mourinho is going to be the next Liverpool manager.

To be so badly undermined when owner Tom Hicks admitted that he had attempted to recruit Jurgen Klinsmann to replace Benitez is a hard pill to swallow. This man has won the Champions League and has brought the team back to life. Fernando Torres would never be a Red without him. And that brilliant goal at the weekend shows why Liverpool are going to be a force soon. Unless the revolving door starts up again.

Benitez, it has been revealed, was already aware of the meeting with Klinsmann in California all the way back in November. So it looks like he was going to be sacked if he did not make it to the next round of the Champions League. The party line is he was contacted in case Benitez left for Real Madrid. BS.

As of now, Benitez is a lame duck. How can he effectively manage the transfer window and the dressing room with endless speculation? Usually you can blame guys like me for that, but this time it came from right in your own backyard. George Gillet and Tom Hicks have not been terribly slick in their management of Liverpool so far and while they have put in cash, it takes more than that to really succeed. Look at Newcastle. Now Benitez is not a saint in this, but really, have his comments in the past led to this? No. Pressure for success has. Liverpool want it yesterday.

Often times, this kind of pressure makes want it yesterday become wish it were last season.


City’s worst nightmare: Premiership giants at the gate

Micah Richards is holding out for big money. Stalled contract talks have England’s big 4 clubs watching closely as the finest young defender in world may be on his way. Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea would probably climb over each other for a shot at Richards. Should a move away from Manchester City become a reality, you’ll see a bidding war that has never been seen for a defender before.

City fans hope that the stall is part of the process of negotiations, with Richards apparently wanting 70k pounds per week and the club offering around 50k pounds. The offer on the table would see Richards the highest paid player at the club by a mile. But 70k is not too much considering the talent and the big 4 won’t hesitate one iota forking up the cash. A defender with his pace and leaping ability is a very rare commodity and City has had a lot of success this season because of him. Just consider how many goal saving tackles that have been shown on Match of the Day.

Richards departing would be a nightmare for City fans and you can’t blame the club, they are doing everything they can to keep him. Will money trump the young man’s loyalty? It usually does.

You can’t fault Micah Richards for having aspirations but if City should land in the Champions League next season there is no reason to leave. Personally, he should stay 2-3 more years regardless and really cement his abilities in a place which will be forgiving and appreciative.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Redknapp leaves Portsmouth training early, signs of flight

An official approach has been rumored for 60 year old Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp by Newcastle United, as earlier he drove away from the club’s Eastleigh training base with Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie, fueling speculation of a flight.

The mysterious departure took place around noon and he also cancelled a news conference scheduled for today.

While Redknapp was quoted with the explanation that he was meeting with Storrie regarding a few new players he wanted before the weekend, it is more likely that the meeting was regarding Newcastle. While Redknapp said there had been no contact, the comments came before the noontime exit. Things can change quickly and Redknapp has not ruled himself out.

Curious though:

"Money would not be an issue to me, I wouldn't go anywhere just for the money."

Well, why would he leave Portsmouth, playing better, better players, settled, and a team getting better? A big transfer kitty won’t hurt, but how much more can a club possibly spend before they are actually better?

Redknapp just signed a new contract in October to remain at Portsmouth until 2011. But Newcastle owner Mike Ashley would have to make a huge payout to release Redknapp from his Fratton Park contract.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Big Shock: Big Sam out at Newcastle

Former Bolton manager Sam Allardyce is now the former Newcastle United manager, as the club have announced a parting by “mutual consent”. This makes Big Sam the 8th manager to leave his post this season, almost half the Premiership.

Newcastle currently sit 11th in the Premier League table, which gave Allardyce only 24 games in charge at the club and adds his name to the seemingly endless list of former Newcastle managers. Alan Shearer appears to be in pole position to leave the warm and comfy seat on Match of the Day and take over the reins.

Nigel Pearson, the first team coach, will take charge of the upcoming Premier League game on Saturday with Manchester United. Newcastle just can’t seem to stabilize under any circumstances. The supporters had very high hopes that Allardyce would bring the club around, and I fully expected him to succeed. In fact, if they would have given him more time, he probably would have. Newcastle had lots of problems, but none were unsolvable, the only thing you can’t control is the pressure at a top club and supporters clamoring for something better. They wanted better than the 0-0 FA Cup draw against Stoke.

For a former Newcastle player with no experience in charge, this will be a very big uphill climb if in fact Shearer takes over, one I must say that he probably can’t succeed in. All power to him though, but this is a nut some decent managers have not been able to crack.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

McFadden's audacious smash

Against France, Everton striker James McFadden scored the best goal of his career, and an audacious strike which beat France during the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.

You have to give McFadden credit, and the commentator has it just right: there was nothing for him to do except hold the ball up and wait for support. He could have passed left, but again, just 2 men forward against the entire French back line means there was nothing on. But instead he instinctively turns in space and takes a chance at it and pulled off an amazing goal out of nothing:

See the entire greatest goals ever series


Hennie Meijer scores a brilliant goal

Former Ajax, Roda JC, SC Heerenveen and FC Groningen striker Hennie Meijer (also spelled Meyer) had a long career playing in Holland. He was famous for his ability to score goals and his pick of the bunch, for me was this great strike scored when he was playing for FC Groningen in the late 80's.

Berg had a long playing career which lasted from the early 80's into the late 90's. In this goal he out sprints the defender, leaves both him and the goalkeeper in a heap and smashes the ball into the net, great goal:


Is Fernandes heading back to Everton?

There has been ripe speculation surrounding Everton and Valencia over a potential move for Portuguese international midfielder Manuel Fernandes but reports are contradictory which has sparked comment from David Moyes, and then more speculation and then a run in with Spanish police to boot.

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Fernandes angered Everton supporters over them summer when the then Benfica player grew tired of Everton’s dilly-dallying and decided to sign for Valencia instead. The move has not turned out so well for the talented player and a move back to Everton was apparently awaiting a signature until, it appears, Spanish police have told the player he cannot leave the country while an investigation takes place. He also angered Benfica supporters when he promised he would stay.

Some reports have him stealing a watch, others vomiting in public, others after an argument in a nightclub. If anything, it appears English speaking newspapers should invest in some better translators.

Another report suggests that Fernandes is free without charge, but that no deal is actually in place. And yet another report suggests that no discussions have taken place at all.

What to believe? How about none of it.

The only thing we do know is that Valencia want to sell. Sporting Director Miguel Angel Ruiz has publically commented that he wants to transfer the 12m pound player.

He’s available: that much we know.

Moyes, for his part has rejected the speculation which appears to indicate that it’s the press inventing this, or is it the fans that want the player.

Any way you look at it, he was good, wasn’t? Fernandes made a mistake not being patient and joining Everton. People make mistakes, the fans appear ready to forgive, and he appears ready to sign. Will Moyes and the board agree? The only thing left is the very fickle Everton transfer policies.

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Forget Cisse, this is the guy City should sign

Manchester City would flourish if they sign Brazil international striker Fred. The 24-year-old, who is Dunga's first choice, is available for transfer by Lyon who has been starting breakout striker Karim Benzema.

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Fred is a world class finisher and is very, very well suited to the Premiership. For around 9m pounds City can sign him. In my opinion, I’d much rather have him than Djibril Cisse or Nikolas Anelka who costs more and can always be troublesome, though his previous stint at City went ok.

Fred scores goals. He has netted in 90 of his 130 starts in Brazil and scored 25 in 55 matches for Lyon, most of those goals coming early in him time there. Lately he’s been used as a substitute but still manages to score. Of his 9 international appearances he has scored 5 times. What you are reading here is that he can score anywhere he plays and does. City would be very lucky to have him.

Now, the cold water. Paris outfit PSG have been negotiating a transfer for the player as well and appear close as representatives from all sides met over the weekend. Better hurry City, you won’t find this kind of class for this price anywhere on the planet.

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Defoe told to pack up, what is Ramos doing?

You can probably be forgiven for wondering what the hell Juande Ramos is doing at Tottenham. First, the team is barely playing better, is still leaking goals at a break-neck pace from set piece and now has told Jermain Defoe he can leave if he wants to.

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Defoe, pride dented, has insisted he wants to stay.

Defoe was just as surprised as I was to learn the news:

"He called me into his office and told me. I thought it was a joke. I thought he was going to say I would be starting against Arsenal in the Carling Cup. He just said 'you can leave if you want to'. Yet I have no intention of leaving this club because I love it here."

Considering Darren Bent has not come full circle, Berbatov’s exit speculation at a fever pitch, and all the other problems at the club you might think Defoe is just the kind of player that Tottenham need on the books at the moment. He’s scored some valuable goals this season and been quite useful off the bench.

The only logic I can see in this is that Ramos has players he wants to sign and needs funds.

How many managers go thru this same cycle? Didn’t Sanchez get fired at Fulham after signing a bunch of players (virtually identical to what he already had by the way) and now it’s up to Roy Hodgson to work with them until he wants his own players.

Doesn’t this revolving door in the Premiership get annoying? New blood can be very useful, just look at Manchester City, but tell me what Tottehnam hope to achieve letting Defoe go?
What about letting Chimbonda go? You know that guy that laughs when he is told to play centrally? Laugh at your salary Pascal and play where you are told and be thankful you have the life you do, instead of being a schlep like me writing a blog.

Defoe, to his credit has said nothing except that he wants to stay. He’s not a problem player, and is willing to fill the role he is given. Has Juande Ramos done anything better than Martin Jol so far? I’d be pressed to find it.


West Ham summer signing finally ready to play

West Ham United midfielder Julien Faubert has finally made his return to the pitch after a serious Achilles injury which has seen him miss almost half a year of action.

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Faubert scored after only 39 seconds during West Ham's reserves 2-1 defeat by Aston Villa. He played 45 minutes without complications.

The Frenchman was on the verge of additional international call ups when he suffered the Achilles injury in his first appearance for West Ham in a pre-season friendly back in July. At 24, Faubert joined the London club for 5 years from Bordeaux for 6m pounds.

West Ham has improved from their subpar performance last season and sit a respectable 10th in the table at the moment.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Will Capello give the forgotten great a chance?

New England manager Fabio Capello flies into the England today and will head to Birmingham for tonight’s FA Cup match between Aston Villa and Manchester United. But will he come to see fresh faces, England regulars or will an England manager finally give Gareth Barry a real chance?

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Everyone knows that Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard don’t play well together in midfield, but star-power has always forced managers to select the pair instead of constructing a team which is balanced and has good chemistry. Barry has the perfect resume.

All indications are that Capello is there to see Gabriel Agbonlahor who has truly been outstanding, but he should keep a close eye on Barry who has been so consistent throughout his career, a real leader on the pitch and, oh ya, takes penalties really well.

If any manager is willing to buck big names for a good side, its Capello, and personally, I would view his inclusion of Barry as an indication of great things. His first game in charge will be in February against Switzerland.

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City and Villa make formal inquiries for striker

Manchester City and Aston Villa have both made formal inquiries to Newcastle United for Nigerian international striker Obafemi Martins. The news has piqued the interest of Portsmouth and Tottenham for signs that Newcastle will be accepting offers.

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Manchester City has already admitted they are looking to bolster their front line but an official approach by Aston Villa could lead rise to the speculation that Gabriel Agbonlahor could be headed to Arsenal. I was surprised at Villa’s move, but in any event it appears the race is on with no less than 4 clubs interested.

Martins has a release clause in his contract of 13m pounds, a number which is keeping a move from happening. It has been indicated that Martins prefers a move to Manchester City but only Aston Villa appear willing to meet that price tag.

Martins has signalled his frustration at Sam Allardyce’s tactics this season, especially his substitution rate, he has started 11 games, 9 of which saw him substituted, he’s been a sub 6 times.

As for Tottenham and Portsmouth, the chances are remote. Portsmouth have resigned themselves to the fact that John Utaka will be leaving at the end of the season with interest from allover Europe (note to interested clubs, he needs to learn to cross better). Tottenham would be better served working on their back line than buying yet another player. With 4 good strikers on the books, Martins would not add anything unless Berbatov leaves.

As for City, they have money and Newcastle knows it. If any club mentioned here needs a striker its them. Can you imagine Martins’s pace running onto Elano’s thru balls?

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Lots of rumors, but...

Lots of rumors in the European tranfer window, Berbatov to Manchester United, Anelka to Chelsea, Mascherano to Juventus, and Agbonlahor to Arsenal but so far no deals of any real significance have been done. Is this a sign of caution? No money? Negotiating tactics? Maybe all of them. One thing is for sure, when a transfer window is not front loaded its usually a sign that few deals will be made.

If you look at the Premiership, its looking like a 2 horse race between Manchester United and Arsenal. For Liverpool and Chelsea to catch up using transfers, they would have to invest big money to make that happen. The most I see either club doing is shoring up their squads. I don’t see either club moving for an impact player.

The real place for movement this January is at the bottom of the table. Lots of new managers are going to get funds to help their sides make a push up the table, but these are going to be small deals. Sunderland, Fulham and Derby County all need help now.

Manchester City need a striker, that is likely to happen and Tottenham need to stop leaking goals, but Spurs have let in something like 19 from set pieces: to me that means you don’t need new players, you need some better coaching.

Blackburn need help at the back, and they are pretty one dimentional up front, there might be a signing my Mark Hughes in there.

Otherwise, Arsenal are stacked. Manchester United have enough to do to integrate what they already have signed. Liverpool might sign support, and so may Chelsea, otherwise this transfer window has little excitement to offer, better to focus on the games.


Newcastle: you get what you pay for

Sam Allardyce is under pressure at Newcastle United and it appears to be getting worse as it has emerged that one of his expensive signings over the summer will not be returning for at least 3 games. Joey Barton is in trouble again.

Barton was freed from prison earlier this week where he was held on charges of assault. Newcastle paid Manchester City 5.8m pounds for Barton last summer and there is a good chance he may never play for them again.

Barton was initially refused bail by a magistrate and it leaves Newcastle's lawyers to determine if the bail conditions will allow him to play. Why would they want him to? I’m not sure I’d want someone who is likely be a sociopath playing for my club.

Sam Allardyce's magic has disappeared, after all the troubled players he’d brought into Bolton Wanderers it looks like the trouble with Barton will never end. Newcastle have had their share of of notorious characters like Lauren Robert over the years so what did Big Sam do first? Sign Joey Barton.

So Joey spent New Year’s in jail. What a comedy. Just look at his history:

• Beat up Ousmane Dabo
• Assaulted a 15 year old Everton supporter
• Stubbed a cigar out in a youth player's eye
Showed rear end to Everton crowd during Premiership match

For me, its time to expel Joey Barton from English football. Problems are there to be sorted, he has shown that he just can’t so let him rot in ‘what could have been’ and get into pub fights.