Dribbling Minds

Dribbling Minds Football Magazine

Fabio Capello on Jack Wilshere

A week or so after proclaiming him to be the future of English football, the best young player in the known universe, the new (but slower) Claude Makelele and the saviour of everything that is good and holy, England manager Fabio Capello has ladled yet more crushing expectation onto Jack Wilshere’s young shoulders by directly comparing him to some of the greatest players to have ever graced the game.

So said Capello, after confirming that L’il Jack is to line up alongside captain Frank Lampard in the centre of England’s midfield against Denmark tonight:

“I know Wilshere is only 19, but I remember the best players I managed; Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Raul. They all started really young.

“It is the same talent, but people have to wait. [Wilshere] is young and needs experience in big games, like the Champions League and matches between the big teams in England.”

Capello also reiterated that he plans to mould Wilshere into a more conservative, ‘metronome-style’ midfielder on England’s run to Euro 2012:

“I know he prefers to go forward but an intelligent player can play anywhere. I used the example of Claude Makelele before, and Andrea Pirlo also started just behind the forward player but ended up playing in front of the back four.

“The thing is, he plays with confidence, never with fear, and other players have confidence in him.

“He is not playing for a team that’s trying to stay in the Premier League. It is Arsenal, second in the table. It is incredible for someone so young. A player like this has to stay with the seniors.” Courtesy ~ Who ate all the Pies

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February 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Did you know

Spurs have had 19 different goalscorers in the PL this season, currently a joint-record with Man City in 08/09.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1000 acres 10 residential schools 10 football academies 1 football stadium. Wishing Well United it is.

Gopal Chandu Panangat
Panangat House
Kanakamala (P.O)
Thrissur – 680689
Phone – +91-9745543695
email id: gopalpc@gmail.com
Owner of Dribbling Minds Football Magazine
11 football academies spread over 1000 acres of land. The break-ups are 90 acres for one football academy which has 9 training grounds of 7.5 acres each and 25 acres for world class residential school, 11 of which make a grand total of 1017 acres.

A bit about me. I am currently doing an M.A. in Education(Elementary) from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. I am 30 years old and have worked in the core team of the indian franchise of Brazilian Soccer Schools and Bfut which exclusively represents Brazilian Institute of football in India.

Why football?
I have deliberated myself over the fact that India is the impregnable fortress of cricket whose walls have not been breached by football by a long mile inspite of superb broadcasting of world football on Indian television. What we need is a trojan horse.

What is a trojan horse?
A horse which seems like a gift by the gods to India. A football academy township over 1100 acres of land.

How?
How does one become a chess champion? Or a medallist. Or a heart surgeon. Through capabilities of engaging in intensive, concentrated involvement in an activity.

Who would be capable?
I know TATA GROUP is capable. As Tatas have judiciously kept away from sponsoring any kind of cricketing activity in the country. And they have the controversial site at Singur. Me and my friend Rohan Misra.. two people who have sacrificed a lot to make sure that we live for football and die for football. Those who live by the sword die by the sword. I wish to be on the same page with you before we move on. Any of you think this is a high cost affair, yes to start with it is a 15 to 20 million Great Britain Pound affair.

The question is “Are we mad as hell? And are we angry?” I happen to agree with management guru Tom Peters that all innovation comes, not from market research or carefully crafted focus groups, but from pissed-off, angry people. People who just can’t stand the opacity in any set-up.

I know football in India is a mess. But we need to revel in that mess. Relish that mess. Because the mess has a message and that’s all there is.

At Soccerex ’07, Sepp Blatter reiterated his stand on India as the market for the future for football. This is what he said on November 26, 2007:
President Blatter said, ” India is a new market in football, a market of more than one billion people. That’s not bad.!”

In every urban school in India there are scores of youngsters ready and willing to break a leg proverbially to get a sound footballing education alongwith their school education. If you look at the number of international schools in India charging a bomb for an education, one can imagine that with the user pays strategy, it is a Trojan horse aimed at 1 billion people

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ManUtd v/s Man City Jersey…

We’re pleased to present the Official Umbro Manchester City 09/10 Away Soccer Jersey! A tribute to Manchester & the Bee.
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If you’re like me, then you’re probably wondering what exactly the Manchester Bee is. The kit designers spoke of the away kit as being partly inspired by the Manchester Bee’s industrious connotations and color symbolism: power, strength and confidence. It was said the away kit needed to look both bold and imposing; and therefore, chose to use the gold from the crest and on the shoulders to focus the upper body to open up the chest and define the upper torso. The rest of the kit is completely black, which creates a completely different personality to the home shirt but both honor the club’s heritage.

None of this explained the Bee. We had to do internet searching, which found countless references to the Bee Gees. Finally, some asking around, even going as far as prying on colleagues in NC, one of whom is purportedly English. Here’s what was gleaned:

The bee is not playing on the fact of danger, it is a symbol of Manchester’s industrial past, representing the bee hive and worker bee analogy from the industrial revolution, and an integral part of the Manchester’s coat of arms. There’s a one pictured on a can of Boddingtons, the “Cream of Manchester”.
It doesn’t get much bigger than this, as the Premier League Champs the past three seasons finally reveal their new home shirt for the 09/10 campaign.
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This awesome new jersey has a chevron chest with matching collar – a unique stylish touch for one of the true giants of World Soccer! The shirt features the embroidered Manchester United team badge over your heart, and Nike’s swoosh logo at right chest; a tag at side seam reads “The Theatre of Dreams since 1910.” Mesh panels also give the shirt added comfort. Finally, it’s created with Nike’s advanced Dri-FIT® fabric, which keeps you drier, cooler and lighter by drawing sweat from the body to the fabric’s surface, while its three-dimensional construction gives more air space around the skin to reduce clinging.

August 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Alex Ferguson sort-off ManU sortin’

Barely three weeks ago Chewing Gum made the statement that there was no place for new signings if the player was over 26 and now they’ve gone n signed Michael Owen. Good for Mikey n the club. Here is Mikey’s interview in installment after the sign-in:

OWEN: REDS CAN REIGNITE MY CAREER

Michael Owen spoke to MUTV ten minutes after signing for United. Here’s a transcript of his first exclusive interview with Mandy Henry…

How does it feel to have signed for Manchester United?

It feels great. I never even had it in my wildest dreams really but then I got the call from the manager (Sir Alex) to come and meet him. It was a shock but I’m obviously really happy and things have moved quickly since then.

Players probably don’t need much persuasion to move to a club like United but what did the manager have to say to you?

We just discussed football really and the pros and cons of signing myself. Thankfully there were more pros than cons. From my point of view, I just wanted to talk about football so we left David Gill and my agent to talk about the rest. Then it was a case of show me the paperwork and where I have to sign. I’m delighted to have signed.

I presume at the end of last season you didn’t think you’d be playing for Manchester United this season?

No, I probably had a poor spell up at Newcastle but prior to that, my career was very good and I’m sure a top club like this can reignite my career. Hopefully I can score a few goals and help the team to more success.

July 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Arsenal versus the Goalkeeper

Arsenal looked terribly stung by Walcott’s misses and Petr Cech’s Cliches. And what were chelsea… Butterfeet Paneerfeet {A milk byproduct of tofu[the sweetness of paneer]} or bone marrow feet.

Regardless of the feet, the feet were useless today. Both for Kolkata Knightriders and Shells of the Sea.

Who wants to play. Drogba, for the booing or Guus as the manager for the gooing. What would i do?

God make the decision.? Upgrade one is to one passing and downgrade 3 is to 1 passing. Puhhleaze.

As if my life depended on it.

If I wanted to change things I would rather be a blind beggar sitting on a railway overbridge at Andheri station with no eyes and no feet.

Otherwise I would be running the Dribbling Minds Football Academy

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Toons… I can’t help falling in love with you

It’s a story to be told and it will be. Episode by episode. This is the first episode.

Toons….. a sports bar tucked away in the underground of a very cosmopolitan area of pune. Is that it? Is that the story? No. It’s just the beginning of a story.

I entered the place for the first time in my life to watch a live football game. And here… are the proceeds.

6.10 p.m. Channels switch onto the live Aston Villa v/s Chelsea game on five large screen plasma television screens. Chelsea were playing some sublime football in the first half and I was ok with the songs flowing in the background. No commentary here guys so glue your eyes onto the television screens.

My ears opened to ‘Another Day in Paradise’ by Phil Collins. And when Anelka hit his most sublime goal ever for Chelsea, the song serendipiteously (like all his goals are) was ‘Knockin on Heaven’s Door’.

They were playing ‘Wonderworld’ during halftime when i thought that as I write this on the Dribbling Minds Football Magazine, I also need to mention the sports bars address. ‘TOONS’, the sports bar is located in the underground below Wonderland on M.G. road in the Camp area of Pune city.

 The second half started with ‘Sweet child O’ mine’ by Guns N’ Roses record being played in Toons. Aston Villa were looking child’s play in the second half. Pun intended if you have seen the horror movie ‘Child’s Play’. Villa controlled the ball better and played the better team and made Chelsea look miserable. But Chelsea got away in a very Jose Mourinho fashion. Though it was not Jose today.

Chelsea played it’s first game under new first team coach Mr. Guus ‘Effective’ Hiddink. I thought Guus Hiddink will make life tough for fourth positioned Aston Villa and his counterpart at Villa Mr. Martin O’ Neill. In fact, I knew it that, with a coach of Guus Hiddink’s pedigree, coaching profile and history as manager, Aston villa would not be able to overpower Chelsea.

Guus ‘The Brain’ Hiddink took underdogs Australia to the quarterfinals in the last World Cup only to be beaten by an unfair last minute penalty given to eventual winners of the World Cup 2006, Italy. He also took South Korea all the way to the semifinals in Japan WC 2002. And how can you forget an inexperienced Russian team’s run in Euro 2008 when they beat title contenders Netherlands. Which is also the country this brainy little Dutchman comes from.

The games were being seen live on five large plasma television screens by the hordes gathered at Toons. By the time the Arsenal v/s Sunderland game started, they were playing hard rock at the bar and everyone was singing along. I think Arshavin got two shots at the goal in the whole melee.

Towards the second half of the Arsenal v/s Sunderland game, the headbanging stuff going on in the bar with a few headbangers having a ball of a time is what kept me alive. But I thought Van Persie and Bendtner and Sagna could have joined us and banged their heads into the wall for leading Arsenal to a goalless draw inspite of playing their hearts out.

I put the blame squarely on Arsene Wenger when he sent Eboue in for Alexandre Song instead of sending Adebayor. In fact the bar had trance music playing and I confirmed with the DJ that the genre was ‘Trance’. No wonder Arsene was in a trance. There were so many balls in the air in the Sunderland box, if only Arsene had the balls to send Adebayor in as he is good in the air inside the box. You send a wrong message about strategy to the opposition by getting Eboue in. The game ended in a goalless draw.

 I told Samir, a friend [not Nasri], “I don’t like Song…. No.. Not the song…. I like the song… I don’t like the player Song.’ That drew a smile from a liverpool fan sitting close by who was not ready to speak to me as I cracked a pj on Rafa which didn’t go down well with him. The whole pj is on me cause this being a bar which served beer and beer was flowing like a river and no wonder the wash basin in the men’s room was decorated, however, the p.j. is on me cause

A) I don’t drink beer and

B) I don’t spend big money in restaurants unless the bill is paid by the better-earning half.

Even then I had two very very large glasses packed with delicious Lime on Ice and two whole plates of chicken with coleslaw and it only cost me a total of 150 rupees. I personally think they should charge more. Cause Toons and when I say Toons I mean Toons, The Sports and Music Bar is more than just an experience. Especially on Saturdays.

 And thus ended an exciting night of football. I didn’t watch the Manu game though I am a big Manu fan after the Manu v/s Chelsea game last month as the bar closed by 11 and the match began at 10.55. Toons the sports and music bar has a karaoke scene every alternate Mondays and I will be singing the lines “Edelweiss Edelweiss I’ve been longing to meet you” You too guys who’ve been reading this page. See you next Monday.

February 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

English Premier League January Transfer Window Review and Analysis

Review first and bottoms out with analysis on January transfers

Premier League Transfer Window Review

Arsenal

Done deals – In: Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg, £12m, TBC). Out: Rui Fonte (Crystal Palace, loan), Gavin Hoyte (Watford, loan), Henri Lansbury (Scunthorpe, loan), Quincy Owusu-Abeyie (Cardiff, loan), Rene Steer (Gillingham, loan), Paul Rodgers (Northampton, loan), Jay Simpson (West Brom, loan).

What they needed –  Cover for Cesc Fabregas in the centre of midfield, such as Barcelona’s Yaya Toure, brother of Kolo, and a centre-half.

Andrei Arshavin

Perfect 10: Arsenal got Andrei Arshavin after a long pursuit

What they got – A top class forward with a point to prove after a protracted transfer saga. We think.

Who did they miss out on? No major targets, as Wenger continues to stick to his thrift and youth policies.

How much did they spend? £12m

Where will it get them? Have they done enough to secure a top-five finish? Not sure.

Aston Villa

Done deals – In: Emile Heskey (Wigan, £3.5m), Arsenio Halfhuid (Excelsior, £150,000).  Out: Wayne Routledge (QPR, £1.5m), Sam Williams (Walsall, loan).

What they needed An aerial threat to compensate for John Carew’s absence.

What they got Emile Heskey, a man Martin O’Neill knows well and the ideal attacking buy for Villa.

Emile Heskey

Big splash: Emile Heskey has made an instant impact at Aston Villa

Who did they miss out on? Off-loading Nicky Shorey, perhaps.

How much did they spend? £3.65m

Where will it get them? A top-four finish.

Blackburn

Done deals – In: Nick Blackman (Macclesfield, undisclosed), El-Hadji Diouf (Sunderland, £2.8m), Gael Givet (Marseille, loan). Out: Frank Fielding (Rochdale, loan), Eddie Nolan (Preston, undisclosed), Jamie Clarke (Rotherham, free), Sergio Peter (Sparta Prague, £500,000).

What they needed – Strengthening in all departments. A creative midfielder, a couple of defenders and to hold on to Roque Santa Cruz.

What they got – Blackburn stood firm against pressure from moneybags Man City and have done themselves a massive favour by keeping Santa Cruz.

Who did they miss out on? Marco Zoro. The Benfica defender was unable to secure a work permit for a loan deal.

How much did they spend? £2.8m

Where will it get them? Another season in the Premier League.

Bolton

Done deals – In: Sebastien Puygrenier (Zenit St Petersburg, loan), Mark Davies (Wolves, £1m),  Ariza Makukula (Benfica, loan). Out: Heidar Helguson (QPR, undisclosed), Kevin Nolan (Newcastle, £4.5m).

What they needed A centre half, a midfielder and a striker.

What they got – Not a lot, really. Davies looks a good signing – but they needed an addition rather than just a replacement for Nolan.

Sebastien Puygrenier

Head start: Sebastien Puygrenier scores for Bolton against Tottenham at the weekend

Who did they miss out on? Jimmy Bullard and Calum Davenport.

How much did they spend? £1m

Where will it get them? They should be OK, but Gary Megson hasn’t done himself many favours with his lack of activity.

Chelsea

Done deals –  In: Ricardo Quaresma (Inter Milan, loan), Gokhan Tore (Bayer Leverkusen, £500,000). Out: Wayne Bridge (Manchester City, £12m), Jack Cork (Watford, loan), Jimmy Smith (Leyton Orient, loan), Carlo Cudicini (Spurs, free), Lee Sawyer (Coventry, loan), Jack Cork (Watford, loan).

What they needed Scolari claimed he needed two new faces at Stamford Bridge, one being a striker.

What they got – Width and a player who can understand Scolari in Quaresma, which is no mean feat.

Ricardo Quaresma

Speaking the same language: Ricardo Quaresma is joining up with his former Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari at Chelsea

Who did they miss out on? Sevilla’s Luis Fabiano.

How much did they spend? Just an estimated £500,000 as Chelsea chose to display credit crunch chic.

Where will it get them? Top-three finish.

Everton

Done deals – In: Jo (Man City, loan). Out: Lee Molyneux (Southampton, free), John Ruddy (Crewe, loan),  John-Paul Kissock (Accrington Stanley, loan).

What they needed – A striker.

What they got Jo, who flopped at Man City but will be looking to recapture the form he showed at CSKA Moscow and Corinthians.

Jo

Changing colours: Jo left Manchester City for Everton

Who did they miss out on? Paris Saint-Germain’s Fabrice Pancrat, Rennes’ Stephane Mbia and Trond Olsen from Bodo Glimt.

How much did they spend? Nothing.

Where will it get them? Hopefully a few more goals but, with Tim Cahill in your side, who needs a tippy-tappy Brazilian?

Fulham

Done deals –  In: Olivier Dacourt (Inter Milan, loan), Julian Gray (Coventry, undisclosed), Giles Barnes (Derby, loan). Out: Hameur Bouazza (Birmingham, loan), Lee Cook (QPR, undisclosed), TJ Moncur (Wycombe, free), Seol Ki-hyeon (Al-Hilal, loan), Leon Andreasen (Hannover 96, loan), Adrian Leijer (Norwich, loan), Andranik Teymourian (Barnsley, loan), Jimmy Bullard (Hull, £5m).

What they needed – To hold on to Bullard and perhaps sign another midfielder.

What they got – Some experience in the shape of Dacourt and a slimmed-down squad as eight players left the club.

Olivier Dacourt

War veteran: Olivier Dacourt (left) will add bite to the Fulham midfield

Who did they miss out on? Bodo Glimt’s Trond Olsen, possibly Christophe Berra from Hearts.

How much did they spend? Nothing, despite frenzied transfer activity at Craven Cottage.

Where will it get them? Roy Hodgson will be hoping to repeat Fulham’s form of 2008 in 2009. A mid-table finish.

Hull City

Done deals – In: Kevin Kilbane (Wigan, £500,000), Kamil Zayatte (Young Boys, £2.5m), Jimmy Bullard (Fulham, £5m), Manucho (Man Utd, loan). Out: Dean Windass (Oldham, loan), Wayne Brown (Leicester, loan),  Stelios Giannakopoulos (Larissa, undisclosed), Yann Ekra (Panionios, loan).

What they needed Defensive cover and a midfield holding player to ease the burden on Ian Ashbee.

What they got – Width and experience in Kilbane and Premier League quality in Bullard.

Jimmy Bullard

Eye of the Tigers: Jimmy Bullard is presented to fans after signing for Hull

Who did they miss out on? Luis Boa Morte from West Ham, Espanyol’s Steve Finnan.

How much did they spend? £8m

Where will it get them? Can Bullard stop the rot at City? He will need to bit fit for the remaining 14 games and Hull will need to remember how to defend if they are to stay up.

Liverpool

Done deals – Out: Robbie Keane (Spurs, £15m), Peter Gulacsi (Hereford, loan), Adam Hammill (Barnsley, loan), Craig Lindfield (Accrington, loan), Krisztian Nemeth (Blackpool, loan), Jermaine Pennant (Portsmouth, loan).

What they needed – Another proven finisher might have been useful.

What they got – Rafa Benitez got rid of Robbie Keane, which seemed to be his priority.

Robbie Keane

Getaway: Robbie Keane left Liverpool after not even getting on the bench by the end of his Anfield days

Who did they miss out on? Nobody, really. Liverpool weren’t particularly active in this transfer window.

How much did they spend? Nothing, but the Keane saga could cost Liverpool more than £5m.

Where will it get them? A good run in the Champions League and the runners up spot in the Premier League.

Manchester City

Done deals – In: Wayne Bridge (Chelsea, £12m), Shay Given (Newcastle, £5.9m plus add-ons), Nigel de Jong (SV Hamburg, £15m), Craig Bellamy (West Ham, £12m). Out:Sam Williamson (Wrexham, free), Jo (Everton, loan), Tal Ben Haim (Sunderland, loan), Paul Marshall (Blackpool, loan), Javan Vidal (Aberdeen, loan).

What they needed – Two strikers, a left back, a centre half, a holding midfield player and a new goalkeeper.

What they got A solid left-back, a good goalkeeper, a journeyman and Nigel de Jong. Not exactly Kaka, but a surprisingly down-to-earth set of purchases.

 Bellamy and De Jong are unveiled by boss Mark Hughes

City revolution: Bellamy and De Jong are unveiled by boss Mark Hughes

Who did they miss out on? Kaka (because AC Milan ‘bottled it’), Scott Parker, Roque Santa Cruz, David Villa, John Terry, Gianluigi Buffon. We could go on…

How much did they spend? £45m

Where will it get them? A bottom-half finish.

Manchester United

Done deals –  In: Ritchie De Laet (Stoke, undisclosed ), Adem Ljajic (Partizan Belgrade, undisclosed, loaned back to Belgrade), Toran Tosic (Partizan Belgrade, undisclosed). Out: Sam Hewson (Hereford, loan), David Gray (Plymouth, loan), James Chester (Peterborough, loan), Tom Cleverley (Leicester, loan), Manucho (Hull, loan).

What they needed – Nothing, really.

What they got – More promising young talent to fuel the Manchester United machine.

Zoran Tosic and Giovani Dos Santos

On the move: Zoran Tosic shields the ball from Spurs midfielder Giovani Dos Santos

Who did they miss out on? Wigan’s Wilson Palacios, perhaps.

How much did they spend? Undisclosed, but we’re not talking big money by United’s standards.

Where will it get them? The title. And many more in years to come.

Middlesbrough

Done deals –  In: Marlon King (Wigan, loan). Out: Graeme Owens (Blackpool, loan), Jonathan Grounds (Norwich, loan), Seb Hines (Derby, loan), Mido (Wigan, loan),  Tom Craddock (Luton Town, £80,000).

What they needed To hold on to Downing, a new striker and midfield cover.

What they got Wigan’s Marlon King after he fell out with Phil Brown at Hull City.

Marlon King

Kicking King: Boro new boy Marlon

Who did they miss out on? Ben Watson, who took a look around the training ground and went to Wigan instead.

How much did they spend? Nothing.

Where will it get them? Relegation. The white flag has been waved up at the Riverside.

Newcastle

Done deals –  In: Ryan Taylor (Wigan, undisclosed), Peter Lovenkrands (Schalke, free), Kevin Nolan (Bolton, £4.5m). Out: Shay Given (Man City, £5.9m plus add-ons), Charles N’Zogbia (Wigan, £6m plus Ryan Taylor).

What they needed Re-building.

What they got – Kevin Nolan, a throwback Joe Kinnear buy.

Kevin Nolan

New man in Toon: Former Bolton midfielder Kevin Nolan

Who did they miss out on?  Rennes’ Stephane Mbia, Tolouse defender Albin Ebondo, Manchester City’s Michael Johnson.

How much did they spend? £4.5m, but that’s nothing compared to the £6m Wigan shelled out to take N’Zogbia to the JJB Stadium – what is that about?

Where will it get them? It doesn’t look good at St James’ Park, but they might just be safe.

Portsmouth

Done deals – In: Nadir Belhadj (Lens, £4m), Angelos Basinas (AEK Athens, undisclosed), Theofanis Gekas (Bayer Leverkusen, loan), Hayden Mullins (West Ham, undisclosed), Pele (Porto, loan),  Jermaine Pennant (Liverpool, loan). Out: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham, £15.75m), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid, £20m), Khaleem Hyland (Zulte Waregem, loan).

What they needed To hang on to their best players and to spend some of the profit they made on Defoe and Diarra.

What they got – An aging Greece player and Tony Adams’ prerequisite five signings – though they’re hardly household names.

Who did they miss out on? Gary O’Neil from Middlesbrough, Newcastle’s Joey Barton, Valencia duo Manuel Fernandes and Edu, and Real Madrid’s Javier Saviola.

How much did they spend? Nothing, but they made an absolute packet (£35.75m).

Where will it get them? A new manager before the season is out.

Stoke City

Done deals –  In: James Beattie (Sheffield United, undisclosed), Matthew Etherington (West Ham, £2m), Henri Camara (Wigan, loan). Out: Nathaniel Wedderburn (Notts County, loan), Lewis Buxton (Sheff Wed, nominal fee), Ryan Shotton (Tranmere, loan), Carl Dickinson (Leeds, loan), Tom Soares (Charlton, loan),  Ritchie de Laet (Manchester United, undisclosed). 

What they needed – A striker and a midfielder.

What they got – A striker (Beattie) and a midfielder (Etherington). Genius. Straight-forward, just like Stoke’s tactics.

James Beattie

Red hot: James Beattie is mobbed after scoring against Manchester City

Who did they miss out on? Aston Villa’s Marlon Harewood.

How much did they spend? £2m plus an undisclosed fee for Beattie.

Where will it get them? Sensible, solid buys from Tony Pulis might save them from the dreaded drop.

Sunderland

Done deals – In: Paul McShane (loan recalled from Hull City), Calum Davenport (West Ham, loan), Tal Ben Haim (Man City, loan). Out: Graham Kavanagh (Carlisle, free), Roy O’Donovan (Blackpool, loan), Michael Chopra (Cardiff, loan), Pascal Chimbonda (Spurs, undisclosed), Liam Miller (QPR, loan), El-Hadji Diouf (Blackburn, £2.8m).

What they needed To thin down their squad, but keep Kenwyne Jones and bring in some defensive back up.

What they got – Some good loan signings and the signature of Jones. Ricky Sbragia’s war cry to Spurs is also worth mentioning (’I don’t know why Kenwyne would want to sign for a club like Spurs – it’s not as if they are a top-four team.’).

Who did they miss out on? Nobody, really.

How much did they spend? Nothing.

Where will it get them? A bottom half finish.

Tottenham Hotspur

Done deals – In: Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth, £15.75m), Robbie Keane (Liverpool, £15m), Carlo Cudicini (Chelsea, free), Pascal Chimbonda (Sunderland, undisclosed), Wilson Palacios (Wigan, £14m).  Out: Tomas Pekhart (Sparta Prague, 12-month loan), Hossam Ghaly (Nassr Saudi Club, undisclosed), Cesar Sanchez (Valencia, free), Troy Archibald-Henville (Exeter, loan), David Button (Bournemouth, loan),  Kevin-Prince Boateng (Borussia Dortmund, loan), Charlie Daniels (Leyton Orient, free), Paul Stalteri (Borussia Monchengladbach, free).

What they needed A goalkeeper, defensive cover, a midfield player and a striker.

What they got A goalkeeper, midfielder, two strikers and the wrath of a host of Premier League clubs.

Jermain Defoe

Back in the old routine: Jermain Defoe rejoined Spurs, but then suffered injury

Who did they miss out onPortsmouth’s Glen Johnson and Peter Crouch, Fulham’s Brede Hangeland, Inter Milan’s Adriano.

How much did they spend? In excess of £45m. Not bad considering Spurs weren’t going to spend anything in the transfer window until Redknapp’s rant at the club’s AGM.

Where will it get them? A bottom half finish.

West Bromwich Albion

Done deals – In: Jay Simpson (Arsenal, loan), Juan Carlos Menseguez (San Lorenzo, loan), Youssouf Mulumbu (Paris Saint-Germain, loan), Marc-Antoine Fortune (Nancy, loan). Out: Sherjill MacDonald (Roeselare, loan), Joss Labadie (Shrewsbury, loan), Lee Baker (Kidderminster Harriers, loan).

What they needed – A midfield player and a striker.

What they got – Jay Simpson, who looks like a great loan signing.

Jay Simpson

Impact signing: Jay Simpson celebrates after scoring for West Bromwich Albion

Who did they miss out on? Ariza Makukula from Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain’s Peguy Luyindula.

How much did they spend? Nothing.

Where will it get them? Shrewd signings from West Brom, but relegation could still beckon.

West Ham

Done deals – In: Savio Nsereko (Brescia, £9m), Radoslav Kovac (Spartak Moscow, loan). Out: Lee Bowyer (Birmingham, loan), Joe Widdowson (Grimsby, loan), Calum Davenport (Sunderland, loan), Julien Faubert (Real Madrid, loan), Hayden Mullins (Portsmouth, undisclosed), Nigel Quashie (Wolves, loan), Kyel Reid (Wolves, loan), Craig Bellamy (Man City, £12m), Matthew Etherington (Stoke, £2m).

What they needed – To keep hold of Craig Bellamy, Scott Parker and Matthew Upson and trim down their squad.

What they got – Decent money for wantaway Bellamy, a slimmer squad, a promising looking record signing and a defender on loan. Zola might not like the mid-season transfer window but he acted shrewdly.

Savio Nsereko

Welcome to the Premier League: West Ham striker Savio (centre) struggles for the ball

Who did they miss out on? Nobody, really.

How much did they spend? £9m

Where will it get them? A top half finish.

Wigan

Done deals – In: Ben Watson (Crystal Palace, £2m), Mido (Middlesbrough, loan), Hugo Rodallega (Necaxa, £4.5m), Charles N’Zogbia (Newcastle United, £6m). Out: Kevin Kilbane (Hull City, £500,000), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa, £3.5m), Marlon King (Middlesbrough, loan), Luke Ashworth (Leyton Orient, free), Wilson Palacios (£14m),  Lewis Montrose (Cheltenham Town, loan), Ryan Taylor (Newcastle United, undisclosed), Henri Camara (Stoke City, loan).

What they needed A striker. Amr Zaki is on loan from Zamalek and Emile Heskey was out of contract at the end of the season.

What they got Decent money for Heskey and a considerable profit for Palacios. Plus they managed to bag two strikers.

Who did they miss out on? Tying up a permanent deal for Zaki would have been useful.

How much did they spend? £12.5m

Where will it get them? Steve Bruce will be hoping for more of the same from Wigan in the second half of the season.

Premier League Transfer Window Analysis

A look at how each Premier League club did in the January transfer window.

ARSENAL
Major signing: Andrei Arshavin (£15m from Zenit St. Petersburg)
Arsenal fans will contend that January has been a disaster because no defensive midfielder has been bought yet again, but Arsene Wenger’s tunnel-visioned pursuit of Arshavin suggests that it was never his intention to strengthen in any other area. I am just not sure how Arshavin, Walcott, Fabregas and Rosicky are all going to play together. But apparently, ‘Arsene knows’.

ASTON VILLA
Major signing: Emile Heskey (£3.5m from Wigan).
They needed strike cover for John Carew and they got exactly that – and he’s already paid back a chunk of his £3.5m fee with a match-winning goal. They could have got Heskey for free in the summer but Martin O’Neill clearly thought that possible Champions League qualification was worth the outlay. Fans, meanwhile, may still argue that they lack squad depth for a big four challenge – with an over-reliance on two/three key players – but that is probably an issue for the summer.

BLACKBURN
Major signings: Gael Givet (loan from Marseille), El-Hadji Diouf (£2m from Sunderland).
Blackburn had one goal in January – to get to the end of the month with either Roque Santa Cruz or a massive pile of money and a decent replacement. In the end it was the former. El-Hadji Diouf will be an asset in a relegation battle that is looking more likely than it did on December 1st.

BOLTON
Major signings: Ariza Makukula (loan from Benfica), Sebastien Puygrenier (loan from Zenit St Petersburg), Mark Davies (undiscl. from Wolves).
Major sales: Kevin Nolan (£4m to Newcastle)
Nolan was surprised that Bolton – with one of the smallest squads in the Premier League – were prepared to sell, but Nolan is perhaps labouring under the illusion that he is still the same player of two or three years ago. In truth, he had stagnated and Gary Megson obviously thought he had a cheaper, hungrier replacement in Mark Davies. There were disappointments (failure to sign Miguel Veloso and Pedro Mendes) but Megson has increased numbers and that was his target at the onset of January.

CHELSEA
Major signing: Ricardo Quaresma (loan from Inter Milan).
Major sales: Wayne Bridge (£10m to Man City), Carlo Cudicini (free to Tottenham).
We will never know whether defeat at Anfield precipitated Ricardo Quaresma’s move to Chelsea, but there was every indication prior to that poor performance that there would be no movement into Stamford Bridge this January. Big Phil Scolari has a reason to be very pleased – he has the width and the creativity he wanted in a player he presumably knows very well. He has also somehow brought in £10m for a reserve left-back, though it’s somewhat surprising that Hilario remains Chelsea’s second-choice keeper. If Peter Cech gets injured, Chelsea are in deep trouble.

EVERTON
Major signing: Jo (loan from Manchester City)
David Moyes had no money to spend so he was only ever looking at loan signings – and funnily enough, clubs are unwilling to lend out prolific strikers. Though Kevin Kuranyi would have been something of a coup, there must be a reason that Jo cost £18m just a few months ago and Moyes’ job is to somehow weed that form back out of him, and it’s costing the club only wages. Elsewhere, we remain amazed that no bigger clubs are throwing around massive cash to get Mikel Arteta or Tim Cahill, and every window that passes with those two still at the club has to be deemed a success.

FULHAM
Major signings: Giles Barnes (loan from Derby), Olivier Dacourt (loan from Inter Milan).
Major sale: Jimmy Bullard (£5m to Hull).
Jimmy Bullard’s suggestion that he “wasn’t willing to play” for Fulham prior to his move suggests that getting £5m for an unmotivated 30-year-old actually represents a good deal for the Cottagers. They kept hold of player of the season so far Brede Hangeland and brought in experience in the form of Olivier Dacourt, which should mean that Fulham fans are unlikely to have to watch Dickson Etuhu too often this season.

HULL CITY
Major signings: Kevin Kilbane (undisc, Wigan), Manucho (loan from Manchester United), Kamil Zayatte (Young Boys), Jimmy Bullard (£5m from Fulham).
With the club in freefall, Hull were in desperate need of quality. Signing Bullard is undoubtedly a coup – though an expensive one – but they still look terribly lightweight at the attacking end of the pitch. Manucho has looked far from a Manchester United player so it’s no surprise that the Tigers made a (failed) move for Victor Anichebe before the deadline. There are still alarm bells ringing.

LIVERPOOL
Major sales: Jermaine Pennant (loan to Portsmouth), Robbie Keane (£12m to Tottenham).
Even Rafa Benitez admits it’s a risk to lose Keane with no replacement, but add Jermaine Pennant into the equation and that’s two attacking players removed from a team competing on three fronts. Liverpool have options beyond Fernando Torres – Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and David Ngog – but none of those players can boast an impressive goalscoring record at the highest level. There is now an even bigger reliance on the Torres-Gerrard axis and only May will tell us if this has been a disastrous error of judgement from Rafa.

MANCHESTER CITY
Major signings: Wayne Bridge (£10m from Chelsea), Craig Bellamy (£14m from West Ham), Nigel De Jong (£18m from Hamburg), Shay Given (undiscl. from Newcastle).
Major sales: Tal Ben Haim (loan to Sunderland), Jo (loan to Everton).
They’ve spent a sodding lot of money and yet they haven’t bought a single player seriously wanted by a Big Four side, and that tells you everything you need to know about City at the moment. There was no marquee signing and possibly more importantly in terms of a possible relegation battle, there was no experienced central defender. There was also no Roque Santa Cruz or any other striker to add a different dimension to a skilful but small forward line. Garry Cook might tell you that it’s been a successful transfer window but in truth, it’s been a disaster.

MANCHESTER UNITED
Major signings: Zoran Toðiã and Adem Ljajiã (£17m from Partizan Belgrade).
Nothing really happened – barring the ‘for the future’ signings of two Serbs – and that’s exactly what they wanted.

MIDDLESBROUGH
Major signing: Marlon King (loan from Wigan).
Major sale: Mido (loan to Wigan).
The spin from the Riverside will be that ending January with Stewart Downing and Gary O’Neil still in the squad represents victory. But the truth is that Boro have failed to strengthen one of the weakest teams in the Premier League, even failing to persuade Ben Watson to move from Crystal Palace. The future does not look bright.

NEWCASTLE UNITED
Major signings: Peter Lovenkrands (free from Schalke), Kevin Nolan (£4m from Bolton), Ryan Taylor (swap deal from Wigan).
Major sales: Shay Given (undiscl. to Manchester City), Charles N’Zogbia (swap deal to Wigan).
Mike Ashley needs to explain how he can justify making a profit in the transfer window when his club is deep in relegation trouble . They clearly tried to buy – Darren Bent and Michael Johnson among their targets – but you wonder why they were trying so hard on February 2 rather than January 2. They still have a massive striker shortage and a manager that makes a relegation battle inevitable.

PORTSMOUTH
Major signings: Nadir Belhadj (£4.4m from Lens), Jermaine Pennant (loan from Liverpool), Pele (loan from Porto), Hayden Mullins (undisc, West Ham), Theofanis Gekas (loan from Bayer Leverkusen), Angelos Basinas (free from AEK Athens).
Major sales: Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid, £20m), Jermaine Defoe (Tottenham, £15.75m).
You can’t help but think that Portsmouth have lost quality and gained numbers. Impossible to judge just how good these deals are until we’ve seen them in action, but they will inevitably have the problem of waiting for new players to settle. At first glance it all just looks distinctly average apart from Nadir Belhadj, who has already proved his worth this season. But points to Pompey for at least having a proper crack, unlike the two clubs above.

STOKE CITY
Major signings: Matthew Etherington (£2m from West Ham), James Beattie (£3.5m to Sheffield United), Henri Camara (loan from Wigan).
Sensible signings from Stoke with players hungry to prove a point in the Premier League, and it’s telling that Etherington and Beattie were their outstanding performers in Saturday’s win over Manchester City. Stephen Kelly could still join and he was solid enough for Birmingham last season. They still inevitably face a battle but things look brighter on February 3 than on January 3.

SUNDERLAND
Major signings: Tal Ben Haim (loan from Manchester City), Calum Davenport (loan from West Ham).
Major sales: Pascal Chimbonda (undisc to Tottenham), El-Hadji Diouf (£2m to Blackburn), Michael Chopra (loan to Cardiff City).
Ricky Sbragia’s intention was always to buy experienced Premier League defenders and that’s exactly what he did – though they might not exactly be the sexiest of signings. A failed move for Darren Bent coupled with the exits of Chopra and Diouf means that Sunderland’s stiker list has shifted from feast to famine, but they can probably afford to wait until the summer to strengthen in that department.

TOTTENHAM
Major signings: Jermain Defoe (£15.75m from Portsmouth), Wilson Palacios (£14m from Wigan), Carlo Cudicini (free from Chelsea), Pascal Chimbonda (undisc. from Sunderland), Robbie Keane (£12m from Liverpool).
Spurs have spent a lot of money recreating the Spurs side of two years ago. There’s definitely more than enough quality there to keep Spurs in the Premier League, though you could certainly argue that they have overpaid for Defoe and Palacios. Question marks remain over the signing of Keane – the player whose presence forced Defoe out of the club just a year ago – but you can’t help but concede that Redknapp has strengthened the squad, if at a substantial price.

WEST BROM
Major signings: Jay Simpson (loan from Arsenal), Marc-Antoine Fortune (loan from Nancy), Youssouf Mulumbu (loan from PSG), Juan Carlos Menseguez (loan from San Lorenzo).
If the unknown trio on this list show the same promise as Jay Simpson, West Brom have done some good business. It’s interesting to see a very different approach from that of Stoke – all loans, no commitment to Premier League wages, all unknown quantities. The jury will remain very much out for now.

WEST HAM
Major signings: Savio Nsereko (£9m from Brescia), Radoslav Kovac (loan from Spartak Moscow).
Major sales: Matthew Etherington (£2m to Stoke), Lee Bowyer (loan to Birmingham), Craig Bellamy (£14million to Manchester City), Nigel Quashie (loan to Wolves), Hayden Mullins (undisc, Portsmouth), Julien Faubert (loan to Real Madrid), Calum Davenport (loan to Sunderland).
Considering all the headlines in December were about a fire sale at West Ham, they can be chuffed to get to the end of January with Rob Green, Scott Parker and Matty Upson still in the squad, a massive pile of money for Craig Bellamy and a lot of bit-part players off the payroll. The Hammers’ form has earned Gianfranco Zola the right to use his judgement on Savio, and good luck to him.

WIGAN
Major signings: Hugo Rodallega (£4.5m from Necaxa), Mido (loan from Middlesbrough), Ben Watson (£2m from Crystal Palace), Charles N’Zogbia (swap deal from Newcastle)
Major sales: Wilson Palacios (£14m to Tottenham), Marlon King (loan to Middlesbrough), Emile Heskey (£3.5m to Aston Villa), Henri Camara (loan to Stoke), Ryan Taylor (swap deal to Newcastle).
Had Wigan been ensconced in a relegation battle, they would probably have hung on to Heskey until the summer, with the loss of £3.5m being a small price to pay for survival. They probably would still have struggled to turn down £14m for Palacios, but that means they could resist offers for Luis Antonio Valencia until the summer. The success of previously obscure players at Wigan have earned them the right for patience on Rodallega, while you get the feeling that N’Zogbia could flourish at a sensible club. All in all, a good month’s business.

~ Extract courtesy: Premier League News

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scolari Sacking and Chelsea Slackening

Chelsea sacked manager Phil Scolari on Feb 10th, 2009. The newly-appointed Scolari was given limited funds to spend in the summer, but requested two players – Deco and Robinho. However, Chelsea only managed to secure Deco on his behalf having failed to match Man City’s bid for Robinho.

Scolari wasn’t given any money to spend in January but told to make do, so it seems likely that this sacking was planned some months ago. It appears to have been owner Roman Abramovich’s sole decision.

Since being defeated by Arsenal late-November, Chelsea have Won 8 Drawn 5 Lost 2 – both defeats came at the hands of Chelsea’s closest competitors Man Utd and Liverpool. Not great, but hardly a cataclysmic disaster worthy of sacking a World Cup winner.

Chelsea are only seven points behind Manchester United in the league, although a credible title challenge seems unlikely at this point.

Personally I feel the club is on a slippery slope unless Abramovich plans to back his next managerial appointment with substantially more cash. Abramovich’s wallet is the only way Chelsea will stay at the top, as their stadium generates little income to invest in players, whilst the club has nothing like the worldwide supporter base of its closest competitors. But Abramovich’s fortune has been hit relatively hard by the credit crunch and he’s fed up with every manager coming to him cap in hand for another £30 million every couple of months. Personal pride will not see him blowing another £300m like he did in the Jose Mourinho days. 

 

The problem does not seem to be that Chelsea are ageing, as some have suggested, rather that players such as Drogba, Ballack, Cech, Carvalho, Terry and Lampard have already achieved their dreams under Mourinho, and it’s therefore difficult to motivate such a side without injecting fresh blood.

Chelsea seem a bit stale, and since losing their unbeaten home record, rather like Arsenal when they went 49 games unbeaten, that air of invincibility has evaporated. They have no record to upkeep and every poor home result reminds them of that both during and after games.
~ Extract courtesy: Arsenal Truth

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chilled spines of title contenders Chelsea and the rest of the teams in the EPL as Manu thrills.

FULL TIME – So it’s all over. A Limp second half display from Chelsea means that United just rolled them over after Vidic’s goal just before the break. United now one point behind Chelsea, but if they win both their games in the next week, they’ll be top of the league again.

92 – Evans stops Drogba again. Evans has been absolutely amazing today.
90 – Chelsea’s first shot in ages is a limp Ballack header.
– I have to keep reminding myself that this Chelsea side has such good players, they look so ordinary at the moment.
86 – GOAL – in the build up to the cross, Vidic whispered something to Berba, and Berba has obviously taken it on board, as he skips past the defence while Vidic blocks Berba’s marker , and Berba bangs it in the net. 3-0.
85 – Belleti is pissed off, but he probably feels better as he just hacked out Ronaldo.
It’s Joe Cole Sub Time! Rafael di Santo is on for Cole this week.
– Chelsea look like they aren’t playing anymore.
83 – Ronaldo nearly made up for it – Sloppy Joe Cole pass gives Ronaldo the ball, and he nearly sticks it in from 20-something yards.
82 – Berbatov plays Ronaldo in – Ronaldo is not offside – but he is given offside, and he sticks the ball in the net, but it won’t count.
81 – Ronaldo Free-Kick hits the top of the goal-post, and lands on the roof of the net
80 – Terry’s booked, I didn’t see the tackle.
79 – Giggs has come off, for Mickey Carrick. Giggs has had a good game overall, despite a few misplaced passes.
77 – Man United are almost pissing about now – Johnny Evans comes forward to put in a great 30 yard pass.
74 – Long Ronaldo effort blocked, I think by one of the Cole Brothers.
72 – Really bad miskick from Drogba there. Well, well wide.
70 – Deep cross from Rooney, but Cech beats Park to the ball. Not too surprising…
66 – Terry tackles Park, but makes no contact, Park down anyway, booking for Park.
– John o’Shea on for an injured Patrice Evra.
65 – Rooney loses the ball to Carvalho, kicks him. Booked.

– Chelsea have to do it all now. Bosingwa has come off for Belletti.

62 – GOAL! – Ronaldo sits on the edge of the box, plays a beautiful reverse pass to Evra, whose pinpoint cross finds Rooney, and its 2-0.
60 – Ronaldo tries to get Berbatov to run onto the ball. Never gonna happen.
59 – Ronaldo runs into Mikel, wins a Free-Kick. He shoots and wastes the Free-Kick.
– The Man United fans are cheering because Tevez is warming up.
57 – Rooney, Park, Giggs all cueing up in the box, but Ronaldo can’t get the cross pass past Bosingwa.
55 – Beautiful feed to Lampard who holds the ball up in the penalty box to Drogba who puts it out for a throw.
52 – Clever ball from Giggs to play in Park, but it never really fell for him.
51 – Van Der Sar is wasting time already.
50 – Berbatov is chucked off the ball unceremoniously by Mikel there.
46 – Beautiful pass from Lampard plays in Drogba, but brilliant saving tackle from Evans.
– Deco apparently has a knock, this isn’t a tactical change by Chelsea.
45 – Cech opens this half with a good clearance.

Teams are coming back out, Chelsea are bringing Anelka on it seems. Deco off, so we’re back to 4-4-2 for Chelsea.

Half Time – So its 1-0 to United. The game has been really even, and has looked like it might get exciting, but United really turned it up in the last few minutes of the half.

45+1 – GOAL – Oh goodness. From the retake, Vidic has stuck it in anyway. 1-0 United.
45 – The balls in the net, but it’s not gonna count, Corner to Man United, Figg!, THEY JUST PLAYED OUT AN OLD CORNER TRICK N THE REFEREE DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THE SUBLIME INGENUITY.
44 – Again, United should have scored. Ronaldo hits it on the edge of the box, and Fletcher comes in on the rebound, but deflected for a corner.
43 – Should have been a goal, Park and Ronaldo playing a beautiful 1-2 in the box, and Park’s shot is going in, but Terry dives in the way and stops it.
42 – Johnny Evans plays a rubbish header and Giggs shouts at him for awhile. Which would be fine, except Giggs’ passing has left alot to be desired today.
40 – great play by Chelsea around the box, but Ballacks eventual cross finds no-one but Evra.
– I’m quite jealous of Park Ji-Sung, how does any man have that much energy?
37- Chelsea trying to create a chance but Man united’s marking proving really effective.
– Not that much is happening to be honest. I’m still here. Chelsea have a corner.
32 – Lampard plays in Ashley Cole, who crosses in to a falling Ballack and Drogba makes a weak shot.
30 – Rooney with a great little ball to Berbatov, who takes a lovely touch, and he should score, but his weak shot is caught by Cech
27 – Ronaldo and Rickie Carvalho both go down in the box from the FK. Carvalho was holding Ron’s shirt, Ronaldo went down easy. They started shouting at each other afterward, Chelsea Free-kick, both booked.
26 – Bosingwa booked for a bit of a revenge tackle on Rooney.
25 – Ballack backheel sets up Lampard but Vidic gets in the way.
24 – Crazy days, Bosingwa breaks down the left wing, and of all people Rooney is covering at Right Back, Bosingwa does him, and Rooney gives him a bit of a slap. Rooney not booked. Rafa gets angry, and Fergie strokes his chin whispering “These aren’t the driods your looking for”.
– Ronaldo’s Free-Kick goes wide, deflected for a Corner-Kick.
23 – Crazy tackle/block from Joe Cole brings down Rooney.
22 – Giggs shoots, Cech saves.
21 – Ashley Cole just handled the ball, literally on the line of the penalty area, Ref gives a FK not a pen.

20 – Impressively, Deco just tackled both Gary Nev and Ronaldo at the same time.
18 – Bosingwa breaks but Giggs does well to shepherd the ball out the game.

16 – Calls from Chelsea for handball from Evra, i couldn’t really see it, but he’s dived t’ward the ball.
– Question. Why does John Obi-Mikel always shoot outside the box? Has he ever actually scored from such a scenario?
13 – great play from Deco feeds Lampard who tries to play a 1-2 with Drogba but Drogba fell over.
12 – Ballack drills it at the wall.
11 – Fletcher hacks down Deco just outside the box.
10 – Giggs briefly ran at full pace there, and I suddenly had flashbacks to the old days. His past went astray however.
6 – Beautiful cross from Ronaldo is spilt by Cech, but he gets clear. He looks nervy.
4 – Ryan Giggs in “Corner cleared at the near post shocker”
3 – Lampard has been booked for a tackle on Ronaldo. Seems like a warning would have done. Obviously I’m saying that because he’s in my fantasy team.
2 – Good bit of early build up from the Chelsea midfield, but a nervous shot from Lamaprd goes well wide.
1 – Petr Cech slices his first clearance – A sign of things to come?
1 – We’re off!

The teams are lining up.

Looking at the teams (below), I can see a few interesting battles – Johnny Evans is gonna need a big game against Drogba – although he’ll have Vidic help (why is Phil not playing two up top in a game like this?), The English grit of Terry against the stylish flash of the Berb, and Fletcher is gonna have to be on his game to watch Frank Lampard’s forward runs.

Confirmed Teams:
Van der Sar, Neville, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Giggs, Park, Berbatov, Rooney.
Subs: Kuszczak, Anderson, Carrick, Scholes, Welbeck, O’Shea, Tevez.

Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Mikel, Joe Cole, Lampard, Ballack, Deco, Drogba.
Subs: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Di Santo, Ferreira, Kalou, Belletti, Anelka.

So Rio hasn’t made it, and Phil has dropped the Prem’s top scorer. Interesting.

Will Big Phil still be in a job on Monday? Will the European style of Berbatov overcome the old English grit of John Terry?

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shocking, appalling but truly, the need of the hour.

In 19 league games this season, Arsenal have conceded goals in 14 of them, a total of 23 goals. Watch the Arsenal players defend and it seems they are playing, seemingly, without care. An exception though is that Bacary Sagna is an exceptional right-back and this stunning clearance off the line put paid to the standards he sets for defending.

The problem at Arsenal seems that the footballing culture at Arsenal does not value the defensive side of the game. The Art of keeping a clean sheet is not valued at this club. Defenders want to dribble their way out of trouble rather than just clearing the ball from danger. They seem to  have forgotten what they were brought to do.  And the manager seems incapable of reminding them. The players need someone who is passionate about defending to sort them out.  To make them feel like it matters to defend hard and defend well.  Someone in the training team to step up and pull players into position and tell who to mark who and slap players on the back for making a good block or a good clearance.  The basics. Arsenal needs to create a culture whereby a towering header or a crunching tackle is rewarded as much as a fancy backheel or inch-perfect through-ball.  If no-one in the coaching or playing staff seems capable of that, then those personnel need to be brought in.  Now.

January 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Money Money Money

Money Money Money, What’s so funny, in a dead man’s grave. Manchester City, the Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh’s cash rich football club with superstars in their line-up hasn’t prevented the club from sinking to new lows. Only 3 points clear off the bottom-placed team in the Barclays Premier League, the scene seems as though down will come baby, bow, cradle and all for the richest football club in the world(rivalling the riches of only Real Madrid probably). However,  Manchester City can be proud of this glorious back-heel beauty of a goal from Felipe Caicedo which still coudn’t prevent City from losing to bottom-placed West Brom at The Hawthorns. I guess The Hawthorns’ result has proved to be a thorn in the flesh for coach Mark Hughes aspirations for the club. No dent in his fund kit though because rumours have it that  Hughes has a 100 million dollar kitty to spend come January. I guess we can see all that money in a few days time. Money Money Money, What’s so funny, in a dead man’s grave. 🙂

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

It’s God’s hand that Maradona is in India

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More than 50 thousand sports buffs assembled at the airport and various street junctions leading to the hotel from old infirm men to children not yet in their teens, from able-bodied youth to bashful housewives to see football God Diego Maradona. More than 5000 policemen, including the Rapid Action Force and crack commandos deployed on the entire route of Maradona’s convoy to prevent any breach of peace couldn’t prevent a couple of over-enthusiastic teenagers who were seen climbing lamp posts near the airports to hoist Argentine flags.

No lamp-post is too high when we are on a Maradona high

No lamp-post is too high when we are on a Maradona high

Thirty-one years is a long time to complete a circle after a footballing great had last visited India. They’ll tell you in India that it was worth the wait. Diego is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. Tens of thousands of people carrying lanterns and candles came out early Saturday to greet Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona. Maradona helped lay down a foundation stone for the Indian Football School, which is being set up to train young talents and help spread the sport at a grass-roots level.

The newly appointed Argentina coach was taken to the school on a bus, waving and blowing kisses to the throngs of fans lining the streets to get a glimpse of the football great. At the ceremony, Maradona kicked a football into the crowd before taking his shoe off to make a print of his famous left foot.

“I am very surprised and happy to see so many people on the streets to greet me,” Maradona said

“You have to give a lot of attention and affection to the players and the game for it to grow,” Maradona said. “India still has a long way to go. However, I wish all the best to Indian football.”

“I thought there were no more surprises left in life but my visit to Kolkata has changed that,” Maradona told a news conference after arriving in the eastern city, India’s soccer hub, for a two-day visit.

“I didn’t know people loved soccer so much in this part of the world,” added Maradona through an interpreter. A crowd of around 100,000 came at an exhibition game in Maradona’s honour at Kolkata’s main stadium on Saturday, to which leading Indian players past and present were invited.

The overwhelming response from the football-crazy Kolkata on his visit to the city has impressed soccer legend Diego Maradona so much that he has offered his services for the improvement the game in the country. “I would like to return here with my family to enjoy a lot. I have a contract right now to improve the Argentine team. If I get an opportunity after my contract gets over, I would like to come here and improve the standard of the sport in India,” a visibly touched Maradona said through an interpreter today. “My whole-hearted wishes to India. India has to do a lot to improve. Infrastructure needs to improve like other football countries in the world.”

Asked how India should proceed to get its own Maradona, the hero of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup victory, Diego said “An aspiring footballer needs a lot of attention and affection to grow. He should be looked after so nicely that the footballer should not think what he would do next day. A footballer needs security in life. So he has to be looked after well for him to be successful.” The Argentine World Cup winning captain said he thought life has given him everything and he has nothing more to achieve but the euphoria of the crazy fans over his two-day trip to the city has changed his thinking.

D I E G O !!! D I E G O !!!

D I E G O !!! D I E G O !!!

“I’ve got many laurels in life and hence I had stopped thinking that there would more (laurels) coming. But the Indian reception has changed my way of thinking. Today I’ve learnt that there is more to come.”

There is lot of competition in the world and India has a lot to achieve.” Maradona said he was moved by the love and affection showered on him here. “I really feel very emotional. I thought I have gone through enough experiences in this life. But after coming here I think there are more to come.”

The highlight of the function was when he was presented with a portrait of Che Guevara drawn by a local schoolboy.

Rajarshee Chatterjee blessed by Diego "GOD" Maradona

Rajarshee Chatterjee blessed by Diego "GOD" Maradona

Maradona was so moved by seeing the picture that he hugged the little artist Rajarshee Chatterjee and kissed him on his forehead. “I come from a country which worships Che and Fidel (Castro). I am overwhelmed to see my heroes are equally honoured here,” he said, while adding in the same breath, “viva India, viva Kalkuta (long live India, long live Kolkata).”

“I will forever cherish the reception I have received ever since landing here. I feel like being at home in India,” he said after he was showered with gifts ranging from a golden boot, a golden ball, a golden replica of the Salt Lake Stadium and a set of 100 roses, each of which wished him a year in life. The 5,000-strong security men had a harrowing time to control the surging crowd which started pouring since 9 pm and almost run over the barricade as the football prince arrived, over three decades after the visit of soccer great Pele.

‘I had no idea that here in India, a country so far away from my homeland, I have so many fans,” said Diego Armando Maradona, while unveiling the foundation stone of Indian Football School at Maheshtala today.

“I would like to thank people who brought me here. I would like to return here with my family, who have enjoyed a lot. I feel very emotional,”said Maradona, moved by the large turnout.

“Everybody is watching me. I am enjoying it.. It seems India is my home. I will never forget this experience,” Maradona said at the fag end of the felicitation function as hundreds of people gave him a standing ovation.

A septuagenarian who came with his grandson to have a glimpse of the footballer, said: “I used to play football but left it long back in 1960, the year this little genius was born. I wanted to see him once in my life. I am happy that my wish is fulfilled today,”he said.

Bien Venido Diego!!!

Bien Venido Diego!!!

December 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tevez scorchers and Burnley burns

I always used to say that the reason Manchester United started off weak this season was because they chose to sit Tevez and played Berbatov and then Berbatov was not the attacking striker but in a playmaker role jutting with the strikers which was not working out. Tevez proved me right when he scored four goals in Carling Cup quarter-finals against a full-strength Blackburn team. On the other side of the picture Arsenal ran out of options when they were burnt by burns off a two goals defeat by giant killer Burnley.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Italian drama & Spanish heroics

A C Milan crashed 3 – 1 against Palermo to hand city rivals and reigning champions Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan a six point lead at the top of Serie A following their 2 – 1 success over challengers Napoli. A C Milan now have the same points as Juventus and remain third on goal difference behind Juventus who beat Reggina 4 – 0 on Saturday in a match which saw veteran Italian striker Del Piero hit his 250th goal for the club.

Italian League Results:

Atalanta 2 (Valdes 54, Floccari 68) vs Lazio 0

Cagliari 1(Jeda 48) vs Sampdoria 0

Genoa 1(Sculli 55) vs Bologna 1 (Di Valo 63)

Inter Milan 2 (Cordoba 16, Muntari 24) vs Napoli 1 (Lavezzi 36)

A S Roma 1 (Totti 59) vs Florentina 0

Siena 1 (Maccarone 19) vs Torino 0

Udinese 0 vs Chievo 1 (Felipe 87-og)

Palermo 3 (Miccoli 50, Cavani 59, Simplicio 80) vs A C Milan 1 (Ronaldinho 83-pen)

In the Spanish League, injury-hit Villareal underlined their Spanish League title credentials with a 2-1 victory over rock bottom Recreativo Huelva on Sunday to cut the gap on leaders Barcelona to four points.

Spanish League Results:

Malaga 4 vs Osasuna 2

Espanyol 0 vs Sporting Gijon 1

Recreativo Huelva 1 vs Villareal 2

Valladolid 3 vs Real Mallorca 0

Almeria 0 vs Deportiva La Coruna 1

Athletic Bilbao 2 vs Numancia 0

Valencia 3 vs Real Betis 2

Atletico Madrid 4 vs Racing Santander 1

And by the way Manchester United showed Manchester City the door in a comprehensive 1 – 0 defeat in which United were reduced to 10 men minus Christiano Ronaldo and if you thought it didn’t get any funnier here just check this video of the full length save by manchester city goal keeper Joe Hart and what i mean by full length is that he ran the full length of the football field to make this save

December 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

66th minute n crying…

Well, it’s the second half of the Chelsea vs Arsenal game and Chelsea have never conceded in a game in the second half at Stamford Bridge this season and it has all changed with Van Persie scoring twice in the 60th and 62nd minute and I don’t think Chelsea can stomach a defeat nor can Abromovich nor can Luiz Felipe Scolari. Blame his tactics though cause if you saw a Jose Mourinho 4-5-1 formation going into this match then Chelsea would have been sitting on a comfortable 1 goal lead cruising away home to victory, not sweating blue from the whatzizname linesman’s blunder at the back of the Chelsea defense.

November 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Don’t mess with a wounded animal

I remember Physical Training (PT) teachers with an inferiority complex who try to impose themselves on others in the name of discipline. Recent events at Arsenal bring Gallas to my mind. Gallas, as captain of Arsenal, used to give 15 minute leadership talk to the boys before each game. After coming from Chelsea I rarely saw him leading from the front during play the way he did when he was simply a player and not a leader at Chelsea. Maybe he wanted his low paid Chelsea days back which saw him make irresponsible comments. The problem now was an interview where he mentioned Nasri as indisciplined for sitting in Thierry Henry’s seat in the bus(in my opinion petty) and Gallas also said that Van Persie was arrogant towards seniors and showed disrespect to him. Then he mentioned that other players had complained about Van Persie to him. (Well, to go public with such statements is like the tail wagging the dog) Trust Wenger to be back with a bang in tonight’s Champions League game after what it seemed like a poor run of form in recent times. I remember a friend said on Wenger  “Don’t mess with a wounded animal”. I guess that for Arsene Wenger and his team Arsenal it is payback time.

November 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did you know

Tim Cahill’s last 11 PL goals have been headers, the longest run of consecutive headed goals in the competition since 98/99. Nut ehh.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Did you know

Birmingham are guaranteed to have the longest unbeaten sequence in the Premier League this season – 12 matches. Unpredictable ehh.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dribbling Minds Football Academy

Anand, a coach who has been training poor kids footballing skills for free for the last five years 365 days an year. Localites say he is mad, but who would disregard the fact that he has sent atleast 7 kids on an average to the Nationals each year. He nurtures not only the football talent but also makes sure the kids get good marks academically and get into the right colleges which encourage their game alongwith their studies. I was watching the kids play for zonal selection and I said to Anand why don’t we put these kids through a pre-season speed training program since at times i find them reacting slowly or stamina running out. Anand said these kids wouldn’t survive one day of pre-season training because of the lack of nutrition in their food. I then realised that all the money in the world is of no use if there are children left in this world who go without food day in day out and become a part of a vicious cycle that kills any talent that might show up. Now Gopal Chandu and Anand, have got together to ensure that they can put together a football academy which can nurture children guide them into footballing careers and also ensure a future after their footballing career is over. A lifelong relationship. That is what has brought up the Dribbling Minds Football Academy at Deepti High School at Thalore. Dribbling Minds Football Academy is on a fundraising drive to raise one million indian rupees to be put into fixed deposits so that a good football academy can run based on the interest received from the fixed deposits. Even though the interest is a minuscule 10000, we go by the principle waste not, want not. Those who wish to support Dribbling Minds Football Academy at Thrissur, Kerala, India please contact us at dribblingminds@gmail.com. If you wish to visit Kerala and our football academy we would be glad to be hosts here. I repeat, please contact us at dribblingminds@gmail.com to financially/morally support Dribbling Minds Football Academy.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment