Football Opinions

United draw first blood

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 5, 2007

van-der-sar.jpgManchester United defeated Chelsea on penalties to take home the Community Shield in an entertaining game played on a scorching day at Wembley. The game finished 1-1 with goals from Ryan Giggs and Florent Malouda but in the end Manchester United deservedly won on penalties with Edwin Van der Sar the hero. United took the initiative and dominated most spells of the game with Chelsea counter attacking.  

Even though the Community shield is not one of the so called ‘big trophies’, this will no doubt be a psychological blow to Chelsea and United will feel revenge is sweet after their defeat in the FA Cup final last season. Not just because of the result but because Manchester United were superior thoughout. Both teams can take positives from the game this afternoon though. Patrice Evra looked threatening throughout the game playing on the left hand side of midfield whereas Chelsea will also be pleased with Malouda’s integration into the team after capping off his debut with a magnificent goal. This is vital for Chelsea as they seem to be loosing Arjen Robben to Real Madrid. Glen Johnson also had a solid game at right back. 

Match Key Points: 

First Half;

20 mins – Giggs has a great chance to put the Red Devil’s ahead after a great run from Cristiano Ronaldo but Petr Cech makes a save. 

22 mins – Michael Carrick has a shot from outside the box that shaves the post. 

26 mins – Obi Mikel is inches away from heading Chelsea into the lead, Essien flicks on the first header from a set piece but Obi Mikel couldn’t divert the ball goal wise. 

29 mins – Ronaldo sends in a dangerous cross but Silvestre fails makes contact at the back post. 

35 mins – Man U GOAL, Evra and Ronaldo inter exchange a one-two down the left wing, Evra then finds Giggs who is close to the penalty spot and finishes the move sending the ball into the top of the net. 

45 mins – Chelsea GOAL, Rio Ferdinand is caught out by a great ball from Essien, Malouda latched onto the ball after a powerful run and sends the ball into the net evading Van der Sar (the ball but not Malouda, who ended up injured from a collision with Van der Sar). 

47 mins – Rooney could/should have been Red Carded after a high challenge on Ben Haim but instead escapes with a Yellow Card. Totally unnecessary! Rooney’s childish antics could cost United dear at some stage of the season. 

Second Half;

49 mins – Evra makes a run down the left wing, crosses and finds Cristiano Ronaldo in the box. Ronaldo controls and shoots but Cech makes an amazing save. Ryan Giggs shoots the rebound which is then blocked by Glen Johnson. 

69 mins – Pizarro has a long shot which he drags wide. 

74 mins – United should have had a penalty after a blatant push from Ben Haim on Vidic. 

Penalties:

Chelsea; Pizarro (missed), Lampard (missed), Wright-Phillips (missed)

Manchester United; Ferdinand (scored), Carrick (scored) Rooney (scored)

Posted in Chelsea, Manchester United, Premiership | Leave a Comment »

Sven Goran’s Unbelievable!

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 4, 2007

sven.jpgOver the past two days Manchester City have signed four players! These being, Brazilian midfielder Elano for £8million, Bulgarian forward Valeri Bojinov for around £6m, defender Javi Garrido cost £1.5m and £4m Croatian defender Vedran Corluka. This takes Manchester City’s total summer spending to around £40 million.

However, since signing these players Sven has stated that he hasn’t seen some of them play live only having seen some videos of them in action.

“Most of the players I have never seen in action live. But it’s just not possible because the season has not even started.”

One must wonder what Sven was doing last season having been a whole year unemployed (but still on the FA payroll!). Sven decided to leave the best till last in the press conference in which the new signings were being presented to the press. Sven had the audacity to ask Bulgarian forward Valeri Bojinov,  

“Why did you want to join Manchester United?” 

Ok, I can understand Sven making grammatical mistakes when talking English, it not being his first language but come on, how can you confuse your new team Manchester City with your main rivals!!??

Posted in Manchester City, Premiership | Leave a Comment »

‘Tapping up’ – part and parcel of football

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 1, 2007

cashley-cole.jpgIt must be intriguing to know how football transfers are done nowadays, and through the press I think we are pretty much well informed, although you mustn’t believe everything you read! Due to the press coverage on football nowadays, ‘tapping up’ has become a frequent phrase associated with football. I think it is important to define what is classed as tapping up. I believe there are two levels: 

  • First of all we have a mellow sort of ‘tapping up’. This occurs when a manager comes out and states his interest for a player who is already contracted to a club. Ok, so far there has been no contact with the player but the player could still become unsettled. (E.g. Today Schuster has stated that Kaka will be playing for Real Madrid this season or next. Ramon Calderon, the Real Madrid Chairman is the main culprit, constantly using the Spanish press to unsettle players, tried to do the same thing with Cesc Fabregas.)

  • The next level is when the club chasing a player actually makes contact with the player without the players’ club’s permission. Two seasons ago Cashley Cole was made a scapegoat for being caught talking to Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission. My question is, why was he made a scapegoat when we know it happens all so often? (E.g. Owen Hargreaves with Manchester United, Arjen Robben with Real Madrid, Thierry Henry with Barcelona, Claude Makelele with Chelsea and there are many more.)

Many former players and managers involved in football (E.g. Gary Lineker) state that tapping up has been around ever since the beautiful game was invented. So, is there any reason it shouldn’t be legal? 

A problem there is with tapping up is that a club can unsettle a player that was previously happy with his club and contract. This then means the selling club has limited powers when it comes to negotiating a price for the player, especially the case when the chasing club is powerful (E.g. Real Madrid).

A perfect example was José Antonio Reyes’ hoax call. An impersonator from a Spanish radio station rang Reyes pretending to be Real Madrid’s former Sporting Director Emilio Butragueno, stating Real Madrid wanted to sign him. Reyes replied saying he would be delighted to make the move as he was unhappy in London – just over a year later, Reyes wore the Real Madrid shirt!

Posted in La Liga, Real Madrid | Leave a Comment »

Reyes snapped up by ATLÉTICO Madrid

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 30, 2007

reyes.jpg Atlético Madrid have snatched José Antonio Reyes from under the noses of their arch rivals Real Madrid. It was an almost certainty that Reyes would be playing in the Real Madrid white strip for the up and coming season but Atlético had something else in mind. It hasn’t been officially confirmed yet but the deal is practically done. 

Real have missed out on Reyes due to their complete and utter arrogant behaviour. Reyes spent last season on loan at Real Madrid in a deal that saw Julio Baptista move in the opposite direction. The agreement was that if the deal was made permanent Real Madrid would have to pay Arsenal £2m. However, after a disappointing season in the Premiership, with few moments of brilliance (4 goals against Liverpool come to mind) Arsenal decided against making Baptista’s move permanent.  

On the other hand, Real Madrid were still keen on keeping Reyes but refused to pay the amount agreed when the player went on loan. Real offered no more than £4m, pretty insulting considering Arsenal had paid £10.5m only 3 years earlier. Atlético have since made a superior bid of £6m which Arsenal have accepted. The ironic thing is that last summer Atlético offered £8million for Reyes, which Wenger dismissed as an insult! 

What makes this even more bizarre is that Atlético and Real are arch rivals (as big as Liverpool and Man U, the Heinz saga comes to mind) and Reyes, excuse my language, doesn’t give two monkeys where he plays this season as long as he doesn’t have to go back to London. I never thought London was that bad!? Some kind of loyalty to Real considering he scored the two winning goals on the last day of the season which sent the Merengues (Real fans) into raptures delivering them their 30th La Liga title.  

There will be more in the near future on the Spanish football media and the subject of players being ‘tapped up’ by interested suitors. The latter the reason for Reyes’ price tag having dropped drastically.

Posted in Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, La Liga, Real Madrid | 2 Comments »

Keano finding it hard in the Premiership?

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 27, 2007

roy-keane.jpgOver the last few days Roy Keane has missed out on two big transfer targets, these being goalkeeper Craig Gordon (Hearts) and left-back Leighton Baines (Wigan).

Last season Sunderland endured a nightmare start to the season, losing four of the first six games and dropping down to the foot of the table. Roy Keane then took over and performed what one might say a miracle finishing the season as Champions and as a result getting promoted to the Premiership. In his first season in the Championship he made some shrewd buys. BUT, what has happened this summer?

Having made the step up to the Premiership, Sunderland seem to be finding it difficult to attain the services of big/medium named players. So far they have signed relatively low-key names; Dickson Etuhu (Norwich, £1.5m), Kieran Richardson (Manchester United, £5.5m), Greg Halford (Reading, £2.5m), Russell Anderson (Aberdeen, £1m), Michael Chopra (Cardiff City, £5m), Paul McShane (West Brom, £2.5m).

The one that stands out is Kieran Richardson from Manchester United for £5.5million. You would have thought Sir Alex would be giving his close ally a helping hand (being new to the Premiership) but I am not so sure if it is Keane who is dishing out the favours signing Richardson for that inflated price!

Sunderland’s last season in the top flight ended in disaster, having won 4 games, scored a whopping 21 goals and acquired a Premiership record of only 19 points. Sunderland have a point to prove! Unless Roy can weave his magic before the transfer window closes (and there is still time) he might need more than his management skills to keep this team up, maybe even coming out of retirement??

Posted in Premiership, Sunderland | 2 Comments »

Since when has Fulham been in Northern Ireland?

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 26, 2007

lawrie-sanchez.jpgWhen Lawrie Sanchez took over as manager of Fulham Football Club on the 10th of April, nobody would have imagined Fulham beginning the 2007/2008 season with so many Northern Ireland internationals in their ranks. At the time Sanchez took the helm last season, Fulham were only four points above the drop zone, but they managed to beat the drop.  

Since then Sanchez has decided to ring the changes. Out have gone: Claus Jensen (released), Mark Pembridge (released), Tomasz Radzinski (released), Mark Crossley (released), Heidar Helguson (Bolton, undisclosed) and most notably, in have come: Aaron Hughes (Aston Villa, £1m), Steven Davis (Aston Villa, undisclosed), Diomansy Kamara (West Brom, £6m), Chris Baird (Southampton, £3.25m), Paul Konchesky (West Ham, £3.25m), David Healy (Leeds, £1.5m), Lee Cook (QPR, undisclosed). 

Lawrie Sanchez’s record at Northern Ireland was quite remarkable. Having taken over when they were on a record run of 13 games without scoring a goal and 14 games without winning a match, Sanchez became the most successful Northern Ireland manager since the heady era of Billy Bingham more than 20 years ago. Three memorable results stand out, beating major European countries (Spain 3-2, England 1-0 & Sweden 2-1). 

However, Lawrie Sanchez has a completely different task ahead, having to manage Fulham on a daily basis in one of the most competitive leagues around. Will his Northern Ireland contingency be able to beat the drop and maybe even compete for a European spot?

Posted in Fulham, Premiership | 1 Comment »

Mind games begin…

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 25, 2007

mourinho.jpgJose Mourinho has already started his strategic mind games two and a half weeks before a ball has been kicked! This could mean two things, either Mourinho wants to take pressure off his own team or he is actually worried about what he has been seeing this summer in the transfer market. This is what he had to say,

“The pressure is a bit higher on Liverpool this time. Other years they could say ‘these guys have spent a lot so they have to win’ but now they have to talk differently. They have high expectations. In the last three years it has been Chelsea and Manchester United in the league and it has been a long time since Liverpool won the title – so they really want it. Tottenham have more players in the England squad than anybody else. They’re a very good group of players. They’ve spent money and kept all the important players, even Dimitar Berbatov, who everyone thought would leave. And they will be without pressure, so they should be there, creating a difficult situation for us. It is the same with Arsenal. There is no Thierry Henry but they were almost without him last season, too, and they have very, very good young players who they can mix with their important experienced players. Not many people expect them to do it, and that could be in their favour. They will see what happens but I think, in the back of their minds, they will believe. Manchester United have kept the same first team, basically, and have more options now with Nani, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves. If Carlos Tevez goes there, he’s another good player for them. They’ve done their work well this summer. They had money to spend, and they spent it. I know when Chelsea were spending lots of money everybody was jumping. I don’t jump because other people spend. They can do what they want with their money. They are contenders for the title, of course, but I still believe Chelsea have the best players in the world.”

Seems to be a lot of praise there for his main rivals, very unusual of Jose, maybe turning a new leaf? AND then comes that final sentence! Considering Chelsea’s quiet summer, in comparison to previous seasons, Mourinho definitely wants some pressure to be taken off his team. I am afraid this is impossible Jose. Chelsea have set a standard whereby a season without at least the Premiership or the Champions League will be classed as a failure. This is down to the amount of money that has been invested in their squad over the years hence them having the best players in the world!

Last season, Chelsea “only” won the FA Cup and the League Cup which was classed as an average season. In my opinion, everything Mourinho has said about the pressure on Liverpool winning the Premiership, well ditto about Chelsea winning the Champions League. This is the trophy Mourinho still hasn’t won with Chelsea and he is under considerable pressure to deliver it this year, even if he hasn’t spent mega bucks this summer. The pressure is not just on Liverpool to deliver the Premiership Jose, but it is also on you to deliver the Champions League.  

Posted in Chelsea, Liverpool, Premiership | 2 Comments »

Heinze to Liverpool?

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 25, 2007

heinze1.jpgNow this is not a common situation in football but here it is:

Apparently Manchester United sent Gabriel Heinze’s agent a letter stating that if a club came in with an offer of £6.8 million for him they would agree to sell him. This alerted Liverpool, with Rafa Benitez being a firm admirer of the Argentinean international. BUT Liverpool’s interest has got Sir Alex Ferguson fuming,

“I can assure you Liverpool will not be getting Gabriel Heinze. We have had a couple of offers for him and we have turned them down.”

Benitez has since hit back,

“We made an offer which they rejected. The lawyers are working on it now so we have to wait.” 

Heinze is unsettled having lost his left back spot to Patrick Evra last season and with Manchester United reinforced in that position with Mikael Silvestre as cover for Evra, Heinze is surplus to requirements. This poses the question, why will Manchester United not sell him to Liverpool?

The rivalry between these two clubs is immense. There hasn’t been a player that has transferred between them in approximately 43 years. This fierce rivalry came about back in the day when they both possessed the best teams in the country and found themselves battling to be number 1. That and them being separated by about 35 miles also has something to do with it!

Is Sir Alex Ferguson acting appropriately not allowing Heinze’s deal to go through? Should Heinze even be contemplating moving to his current clubs main rivals having become a fan favourite at Old Trafford? Do you think the transfer will go through?

Posted in Liverpool, Manchester United, Premiership | 6 Comments »

Sven Goran Eriksson & Manchester City – match made in heaven?

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 24, 2007

sven1.jpgman-city.jpgOn the 6th of July 2007 Sven Goran Eriksson was appointed Manchester City manager. Eriksson has been given a three year contract with a hefty transfer kitty and as one can imagine a nice fat wager. Manchester City finished last season in what some may call a crisis. They didn’t win any of their last six Premiership games and lost four of those, finishing in 14th position. Combine this with Joey Barton’s training ground ‘thug’ antics (beating up Ousmane Dabo) signalled the end of a 2 year reign for Stuart Pearce.  

On the same day Sven was appointed new manager, City were at the centre of a takeover by former Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin, who was deposed as Prime Minister by a military junta last September, faces corruption charges in Thailand and has had his assets totaling to US$2.3 billion seized. Is this what Manchester City need? Or will it only increase the predicament they are in? 

There is no doubting Sven Goran Eriksson’s credentials at club level. Having won the Swedish Title with IFK Gothenburg (1981), the Portuguese League with Benfica (1983, 1984 & 1991) and the Portuguese Cup (1983), the Italian Cup with Roma (1986) and Sampdoria (1994) and finally his most successful period with Lazio where he won the Italian Cup again (1998 & 2000), the European Cup Winners Cup and the Uefa Super Cup (1999) and the Serie A title (2000). That is one hell of a lot of success with the not so called ‘big’ clubs. This track record led him to the prestigious England job. Not having been able to get past the Quarter finals at the main events (World Cups, 2002 & 2006 and European Championship, 2004) Eriksson’s period as England manager was dismissed as failure even though in 33 official games as England coach he won 23 and only lost 3 in five years. Not forgetting the 5-1 thrashing of Germany in Munich. Not a bad record either.     

Eriksson is 16/1 on being the first Premiership manager to get sacked, could be tempting! However, considering the wages he is on I don’t think City will be inclined to paying out his contract if things are not going well. After all, Sven was still on the Football Association’s payroll almost a year after stepping down as England’s head coach. Time will tell how Sven will perform but with £50 million at his disposal he is already under pressure to perform. On the other hand could it get any worse than last season for Manchester City? Well there is the possibility of relegation

Posted in Manchester City, Premiership | 1 Comment »

The Premiership says Bye Bye to Thierry Henry

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 19, 2007

henry.jpgAfter 8 seasons of extraordinary football for Arsenal Football Club, Thierry Henry decided it was time to say Adios. There are two things that come to mind with Thierry’s exit from the Premiership. Firstly, his reasons for leaving and secondly will The Gunners be able to cope without his presence? Today we shall be focusing on his motives for leaving. 

This is what Thierry Henry had to say on leaving Arsenal:(Make sure you read this in a French accent:-)

“Arsene has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately and understandably, he has said that at this moment he will not commit to the club past the expiration of his current deal, which finishes at the end of the coming season. I respect his decision and his honesty but I will be 31 at the end of next season and I cannot take the chance to be there without Arsene Wenger and David Dein.”

We all know that in the past Wenger has always left it to the last minute to sign a new contract and this is the first time I have ever come across a player blaming the exit of a Director to call it an end to his spell at the club. Does Thierry´s reason for leaving have anything to do with not David Dein but his son Darren Dein, who is one of Thierry Henry’s agents and close friends (Darren Dein was the best man at Thierry’s wedding)? Maybe. Talking about Thierry’s wedding, since his decision to go to Sunny Spain we have found out that Thierry is divorcing his British wife (model Claire Merry) and sources close to Thierry claim he was fed up with everything English and needed a change. Football is just like any other job (they just play football and earn loads of money) in which personal life can influence performance at work. Is this one of the reasons he left Arsenal? Maybe. It was a well known “secret” that Barcelona had been following Henry for about 2 years (or even longer) and had Barcelona not beaten Arsenal in the Champions League final (2006) I am pretty sure Henry would have made the move then. However, Thierry’s ego was hurt after that defeat and he decided to sign a new contract and go on to retire at Arsenal,

“At one point it crossed my mind to leave. I’ve never played in Spain and never will. This is my last contract. This is the best country to play football. It’s the passion I like. Here you can do your job in the right way – people here respect the players.”

Did he mention any of this in his farewell? Nope. From an Arsenal point of view it would have been a lot nicer had he given his real reasons and just said he needed a new challenge instead of giving us a load of gibberish about Arsene Wenger and David Dein leaving. 

Last season Henry was disappointing (and injured) but nobody can doubt that he is an Arsenal Legend, all time top scorer with 226 goals in 370 games and most consistent goal scorer Arsenal Football Club (aside from last season) have ever had in their ranks. Want a reminder of how good he actually was? Check out the video. The Premiership and most notably Arsenal have lost a great player!

Posted in Arsenal, Barcelona, La Liga, Premiership | Leave a Comment »