Back to Africa for Man Utd

29/07/2007

Man U

While Chelsea continue to break into the American market, perhaps trying to capitalise on the current Beckham hype stateside, Manchester United have decided to stick with Asia and Africa.

Chelsea have just concluded a pre season tour of America, a tour that included David Beckhams LA Galaxy debut, all 12 minutes of it, and Chelsea Soccer Hollywood party, attended by the likes of Paris Hilton, Tara Reed and Chelsea fan Johny Lee Miller. Amongst all the glitz and glamour Chelsea were there, as they have been before, to try to get a foot hole in the emerging American market, a commercial aspect that has attracted almost all the big European teams over the last few seasons. This season alone will see Milan, Sevilla, Aston Villa and Celtic join Chelsea in America. The difficulty arises here in that this is an emerging market, and not one that is guaranteed to be successful. Americans by in large will support there own. David Beckham will sell more LA Galaxy shirts in America then he did as a Manchester United and Real Madrid player. While soccer may be the global game, it ranks along way behind American Football, Basketball, Hockey, Golf and Indy Car in America, and while the ever increasing Central and South American influence in America may help to increase the support base in the MSL and soccer as a whole in the country, the task of substantial commercial success in America, that many clubs are anticipating, will prove harder then they think.

In contrast there is already a fanatical fan base for English football in Asia and Africa, continents where support for an English team rivals that of a local team. The wealth of America may not be available in Africa, but the love of soccer is greater than anywhere else in the world, and with the World Cup finally coming to Africa in 2010, African exposure will only increase. The market was already there, but with teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs taking pre season tours in Africa and Asia, the support for them will expand to an ever growing sector. United were in South Africa last year, in Asia this year, and will be back in South Africa in 2008. They have recognised the fanaticism of the fans in these countries and rather then committing to purely commercial ventures, have opted to cater to their fan base.

While there are merits to trying to crack the American market, a team like Chelsea, with so many African stars, Drogba, Kalou, Essien and Mikel, would have more success trying to sell brand Chelsea to an African market. Unfortunately its sometimes cents that speaks louder than sense.


Tabloid Talk

29/07/2007

gabby

DAILY STAR SUNDAY

  • Manchester United will move for Wigan left-back Leighton Baines if Gabriel Heinze forces through his move to Liverpool.
  • Newcastle owner Mike Ashley wants Kevin Keegan to return to St James’ Park – as director of football.
  • Napoli are the latest side to make a move for Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi.
  • Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack is the top target for new Real Madrid boss Bernd Schuster.
  • Reading boss Steve Coppell is to step up his search for new blood, but he won’t have to replace Nicky Shorey as the 26-year-old is set to snub Newcastle and West Ham by signing a new deal at the Madejski Stadium.
  • Juventus have stunned Manchester City by demanding £12million for left-back Giorgio Chiellini.
  • West Ham have joined the chase for Manchester United striker Alan Smith, who also interests Aston Villa, Everton and Middlesbrough.
  • Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce wants to be reunited with Bolton’s Abdoulaye Faye, but faces competition from Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
  • Fulham will test Sheffield Wednesday’s resolve to keep Chris Brunt with a £1.5million bid.
  • Manchester City have offered Michael Johnson a new four-year deal after telling Liverpool they have no chance of signing the midfielder.
  • Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi is unsettled at Bolton. Blackburn are poised to bid for US international Eddie Johnson after he snubbed a move to Derby.
  • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could yet open his chequebook again, with Red Bull Salzburg Rene Aufhauser having impressed him.
  • Spurs will step up their interest in Hertha Berlin’s Kevin-Prince Boateng after losing out on Martin Petrov. FC Copenhagen defender Brede Hangeland has been targeted by Aston Villa.
  • MK Dons striker Izale McLeod would rather join Charlton than Leicester or West Brom.
  • Stoke are closing in on Charlton defender Jon Fortune.
  • QPR have tabled a £350,000 bid for Charlton midfielder Simon Walton.
  • NEWS OF THE WORLD
  • Gabriel Heinze will fly in for showdown talks with Manchester this week to try and force through his move to Liverpool.
  • Carlos Tevez will be unveiled as a Manchester United player at Sunday’s Community Shield if a compensation package with West Ham can be agreed by Wednesday.
  • West Brom manager Tony Mowbray is finally set to cash in on defender Curtis Davies.
  • Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is still hoping to lure Alan Smith from Manchester United.
  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is lining up an £11million swoop for Dinamo Zagreb star Luka Modric.
  • Real Madrid fully expect to sign Arjen Robben for £21million this week.
  • Middlesbrough have stepped up their attempts to sign Dutch striker Romeo Castelan.
  • Aston Villa are leading the chase for Norwegian centre-back Brede Hangeland.
  • Manchester City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson will make a £7million bid for Marseille ace Taye Taiwo if he fails to land Giorgio Chiellini.
  • West Brom left-back Paul Robinson is being chased by Sunderland and Birmingham.
  • Aston Villa central defender Liam Ridgewell is a transfer target for Birmingham, Bolton and Fulham.
  • Alan Pardew wants Andy Cole to fire Charlton back into the Premier League.
  • Crewe have made a £100,000 bid to end American striker Jemal Johnson’s nightmare at Wolves.
  • DAILY MIRROR
  • Ryan Giggs will be offered a job for life with Manchester United – a one-year deal when his current contract expires and an ambassadorial role when he retires.
  • Valencia have made a £13million bid for Bolton striker Nicolas Anelka.
  • Chelsea fear Frank Lampard’s camp are deliberately pricing him out of a new deal in order to facilitate a move abroad.
  • Lassana Diarra is set to join Arsenal from Chelsea this week in a £2million deal.
  • Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp has accused Andy Cole of trying to force through his departure from Fratton Park.
  • Gianni Paladini’s troubled reign as QPR owner is set to come to an end this week.
  • Franck Queudrue has been told he will not be leaving Fulham on the cheap.
  • THE PEOPLE
  • Manchester City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson is launching a £30million recruitment drive by moving for Wigan left-back Leighton Baines, Brazilian striker Elano Blumer and Mexico frontman Nery Castillo.
  • Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce has been told he has just £10million available for new signings – and that figure includes the wages of the players he brings in. Allardyce has already tabled a £500,000 bid for Bolton giant Abdoulaye Faye.
  • Steve Bruce is launching an audacious bid to take Real Madrid legend Raul to Birmingham.
  • Roy Keane has admitted for the first time that he wants to stay at Sunderland beyond the two years he has left on his contract. Keane, meanwhile, hopes to strike a loan deal for Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
  • Wigan hope Bolton or Portsmouth will back up their interest in Henri Camara with a firm bid this week.
  • Chelsea’s bid to sign Royston Drenthe has been rocked after Barcelona joined the race for him.
  • Liverpool hope to price Manchester City out of a deal for goalkeeper Scott Carson. Sven-Goran Eriksson is prepared to bid £6million but the Reds have quoted £10million.
  • Fulham old-boy Sean Davis could make a surprise return to the club if Michael Brown joins Wigan.
  • Sheffield United manager Bryan Robson has joined the chase for Birmingham striker Rowan Vine.
  • Luton and Hibs are keeping tabs on former Chelsea midfielder Jody Morris.
  • Manchester United striker Alan Smith will make a £6million move to Everton after snubbing Middlesbrough.
  • Plymouth boss Ian Holloway is lining up a move for Bayer Leverkusen’s Togolese right-back Assimiou Toure.
  • THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
  • Chelsea are close to losing Dutch star Arjen Robben in a deal that would see him presented by Real Madrid this week as a £20million signing.
  • Carlos Tevez could be free to become a Manchester United player this week if Kia Joorabchian pays West Ham the appropriate compensation to release him.
  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is considering hiring former Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder as the Gunners’ new sporting director.
  • Michael Owen will be unable to invoke the get-out clause in his Newcastle contract unless he is transferred by Tuesday.
  • Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp will walk into a row with Andy Cole when he returns home from Hong Kong.
  • Manchester United have accepted their rift with Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze will mean he leaves this summer, but they are adamant he must move abroad.
  • SUNDAY EXPRESS
  • New Newcastle owner Mike Ashley wants Kevin Keegan to return to the club as director of football.
  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has refused to rule out a move for Nicolas Anelka.
  • Real Madrid are set to step up their interest in Chelsea’s Michael Ballack – and spark a bitter new ‘tapping’ row in the process.
  • Wigan’s Leighton Baines could end up as the winner in Manchester United and Liverpool’s tug-of-war over Gabriel Heinze, with both sides reported to be interested in him.
  • Sol Campbell will be offered a two-year deal by Portsmouth in a bid to fend off interest from Everton and Villarreal.
  • Juventus have stunned Manchester City by demanding £12million for left-back Giorgio Chiellini.


  • Liverpool Must Put Up Or Shut Up

    26/07/2007

    rafa

    Liverpool have gone 17 years without the league title and the time has now come for Liverpool, and manager Rafa Benitez, to put up or shut up.
    Benitez has spent much of his time at Liverpool complaining about the financial restraints that have been imposed on him, about Liverpool’s cautious transfer policies, that have allowed him to miss out on players he has wanted, or meant him being priced out of his top targets. His latest rant after Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Milan in May has been greeted with a suitcase of cash that he has dispensed throughout the world. Allied to his free spending comes the news that Liverpool are to build a new stadium, by 2010, which would allow them to compete with the big boys.

    The Anfield revolving door has seen Bellamy, Cisse, Dudek, Fowler, Garcia, Pongolle and Zenden exit and Babel, Benayoun, Leiva, Mihaylov, Torres, and Voronin arriving. The outlay has been spectacular by Liverpool’s recent standards, and comes courtesy of their new American owners. The problem that Benitez now faces is that he has finally got what he has been asking, more accurately, complaining about, money to buy his top targets. This now means that any more failures and he will more than likely be heading back to Spain. A Champions League win and another final appearance may not be failures, but the truth is that, as Porto and Liverpool have shown in the last few years, the best team does not necessarily win the Champions League. The best team in the country does however win the League. Liverpool have not come close to achieving this in the last 17 seasons.

    Generally it takes a season or 18 months for a foreign player to adjust to the English game. Benitez wont have that luxury. He has spent heavily in reshaping his squad and while the individuals may take time adjusting to the style and tempo of English football, they will also have to gel with their new team mates and vise versa. Perhaps Benitez has bought to many players to realistically challenge for this seasons title. Whatever the risks of buying so many foreign and new players he must surely understand that times are now different in football. While he may have had the boards understanding of such matters in the past, with big spending by new American owners, who don’t have ties or real understanding of the football, immediate pay offs are the expected. They have given Benitez the money he asked for, now they expect him to deliver.

    Benitez will hope that his new signings settle early and that they are able to deliver what he needs, a title challenge, because another season of settling for 3rd or 4th place, could see his time in England cut short. It’s time for all the talk to be put aside and no manager will be under more pressure this season then Rafa Benitez.


    Are Arsenal Dying?

    25/07/2007

    fred

    In 2004, the first Roman Abromavich fuelled year in English football, Arsenal won the league and finished the season unbeaten. The team were dubbed the “Invincibles.” Three seasons on and the invincibles have not come close to retaining the title and have spent the last two seasons being content with 4th place and the Champions League birth that goes with it. Arsenal are said to be in transition, but that excuse can only last so long, and the point will soon arrive where people will argue that they have gone backwards since those heady days in 2004, and don’t look like recovering anytime soon.
    In the last few days Freddie Ljungberg has followed Thierry Henry out of Arsenal. On joining West Ham Ljungberg was less then flattering in his remarks about his old club.

    “Two years ago when I signed my last contract we talked a lot about the future
    and about bringing great players to the club. Despite building the new stadium
    we wanted to stay top in England and do well in Europe.
    “For me that didn’t
    really happen.
    “I stayed because I wanted to stay loyal to Arsenal. But when
    Henry left this summer it felt like the end for me unfortunately.
    “I felt
    like all the unbeaten players (from Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’ of 2003/04) had
    left. I wanted to be loyal but I felt like it was the right time.”

    Ljungberg seemed to add fuel to the idea that Arsenal are a team in decline, a team that have not seized upon the great achievement of 2004 but have moved backwards. With Henry and Ljungberg leaving it means there are only 3 survivors from the “Invincibles” left at Arsenal. Jens Lehmann, Kolo Toure, and Gilberto Silva are the only survivors of a team that has lost the calibre of Vieira, Pires, Cole, Campbell, Lauren, Bergkamp, Henry and Ljungberg over the last 3 years. The turmoil of board room struggles, the ousting of player and manager favourite David Dean, the uncertainty over Wenger staying beyond this year, and take over talks have not helped calm a team looking for a way back.

    Is there a way back for Arsenal? Although one person does not make or break a team, much depends on whether Wenger can be persuaded to stay on. If he stays then so will Fabregas, the new jewel in the crown of the Arsenal treasure chest. Fabregas, although still very young, will become the new leader of a young talented, attacking team, that will see players like Denilson, Clishy, Eboue, Adabayor and others coming through the ranks, benefiting from another year of first time football, a team that will be allowed to grow together, to glean from the experience of Gilberto, Lehmann and Toure, to follow Fabregas to the heights of the past. Wenger, as much as being able to tie down Fabregas, will aslo be needed to pick out the young, potential stars, from around the world and turn them into world beaters, just as he did with much of the Invincibles, and as he has done with Cesc.

    Henry may have been the talisman that all at the Emirates looked too, but with him gone the younger players will have to sink or swim on their own, they will have to take responsibilities that they had in the past passed on, and they will have to ensure that they contribute to the growth of the team. The team may have lost its best player, but the effects of that loss could be beneficial on the team as a whole.

    Arsenal wont win the league next season, they probably wont win it the next season too, but they will get close, and if they are able to keep the nucleus of this young squad together, and add to it over the next few years, a new team of Invincibiles may not be far off, a team under Wenger, lead by Fabregas.


    In the Papers

    22/07/2007

    ljungberg1_462272.jpg

    NEWS OF THE WORLD

    Bernie Ecclestone last night emerged as a key player in a £700million Arsenal takeover – and in deciding the future of Arsene Wenger.
    Mark Hughes has told Benni McCarthy the striker is not leaving Blackburn.
    Roy Keane insists his pursuit of £10million Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon is still on.
    Fenerbahce’s midfield ace Stephen Appiah will snub a move to West Ham as he is holding out for a dream switch to Arsenal.
    Wigan have lined up a £700,000 swoop for Paris St Germain defender Sammy Traore.
    Scott Carson admits he may have to quit Liverpool to keep his England dream alive.
    Aston Villa are chasing £3million-rated Portugal ace Jose Bosingwa.
    Besiktas have joined the race for Portsmouth striker Lomana LuaLua.
    Bulgarian midfielder Martin Petrov issued a come-and-get-me plea to Tottenham.
    Birmingham are to make a club-record £10million bid for Yakubu who is also interesting Manchester City.
    Didi Hamann could leave Manchester City for 1860 Munich.
    Sheffield United are looking to re-sign Michael Brown from Fulham.
    MK Dons hitman Izale McLeod is set to join Charlton by the end of the month.
    Wolves have made a bid to sign Arsenal left-back Armand Traore on a season-long loan deal.
    Preston have had a £1.3million bid for Darius Henderson accepted by Watford.

    SUNDAY MIRROR
    Julio Baptista is being lined up by Newcastle in a £6million deal.
    Nicolas Anelka will be granted his wish of playing in the Champions League next year by Werder Bremen.
    West Ham have targeted Lomana LuaLua as they look to bring in a new striker.
    Wigan are close to a £750,000 swoop for Paris St Germain’s Sammy Traore.
    Southampton are chasing Trabzonspor’s £1.4million rated striker Omer Riza.
    Charlton are preparing a free transfer raid for Nice hard man Cyril Rool.
    Fulham have put £2.5million-rated Collins John up for sale.

    THE PEOPLE
    Freddie Ljungberg will put pen to paper on a £3million move to West Ham this week.
    Carlos Tevez and Manchester Uited face D-Day on Monday over his proposed move to Old Trafford.
    Bolton boss Sammy Lee is trying to sign Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero.
    Sam Allardyce wants Norwegian centre-half Brede Hangeland to shore up his Newcastle defence.
    West Brom want Portuguese left-back Miguel Tininho as they prepare to sell Paul Robinson to Birmingham.
    Leighton Baines is in talks with Sunderland over a £6million switch from Wigan.
    Everton have been told they will have to pay £8million for Portsmouth’s Matty Taylor.
    Portsmouth have tabled a £4million offer for Hamburg striker Jose Paulo Guerrero.
    Everton have handed a week’s trial to Marseille starlet Ahmed Yahiaoui.

    DAILY STAR SUNDAY
    Birmingham are preparing an ambitious bid for Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher.
    Southampton have told Sheffield Wednesday that Grzegorz Rasiak is not for sale.
    Arjen Robben has not agreed personal terms with Real Madrid – but is expected to next week.
    West Ham are leading the race to sign Portsmouth striker Lomana LuaLua.
    Bolton have made a £2million bid for Nantes winger Christian Wilhelmsson.
    Real Madrid defender Fabio Cannavaro has snubbed the chance to join Chelsea.
    Caen striker Yoann Gouffran has welcomed interest from Arsenal.
    Patrick Kluivert could join Sheffield Wednesday after being released by PSV Eindhoven.

    MAIL ON SUNDAY
    Eidur Gudjohnsen has been spotted house-hunting in Manchester after being deemed surplus to requirements at Barcelona.
    Roy Keane is to withdraw his interest in Craig Gordon after becoming frustrated over negotiations with Hearts.

    SUNDAY EXPRESS
    Arsene Wenger is stepping up his bid to sign South American teenagers Angel Di Maria and Pedro Silva.


    Proteas Twenty20 Sqaud Named

    19/07/2007

    Johan van der wath

    South Africa have named their 30 man provisional squad for Septembers inaugural 20/20 World Cup, a tournament that they will play host to.
    The squad, which will be trimmed to 15 next month, contains no real surprises. Graeme Smith, who missed the recent trip to Ireland, returns as captain, with Jacques Kallis stepping down to his usual role as vice captain.
     
    After much has been made of South Africa’s lack of variation in the Caribbean World Cup the selectors have included 8 players who could offer a spin option in the 30 man squad. Robin Peterson, who was the only front line spinner in the world cup squad, is included after being dropped for the Irish tour. Thandi Tshabalala, who travelled to Ireland is also included, as is Johan Botha, who is currently captaining an Emerging Players team in Australia, a team that also includes Gulam Bodi, JP Duminy, Morne Morkel, Justin Ontong, Alviro Peterson, Vernon Philander and Tshabalala.
     
    Hard hitting all rounder Johan van der Wath makes a deserved recall to the squad, but whether or not the selectors pick him for the final 15 only they know. A player of his all round ability and talent should be in all South African squads, however if they past few selections have been anything to go by the selectors may not pick him. Lets hope they are brave enough to realise they have been wrong in not selecting van der Wath and pick him this time, giving him an extended run to cement a place in the future ODI team. With Justin Kemp seemingly playing as a batsman and not the all rounder role that he has been picked for it is time that van der Wath and Vernon Philander are given a run in the team.
     
    With this being South Africa there is more to any national selection that purely picking the best available players. There are 14 players of colour in the 30 man squad, all of whom are there by merit and not simply for the colour of their skin, and this should placate any political interference.
     
    While the squad may be the initial 30 man selection, and will be halved next month, it is encouraging to note the Neil Mckenzie has been included. Mckenzie has been out of the national fold for some time now, and despite strong domestic performances has been over looked time and time again, with the selectors seemingly discarding him to the past. He has now been rewarded with selection, but lets hope that they intend to give him a fair chance at making the 15 man team, and any future ODI and Test squads, and that this is not just a transparent attempt to quieten their detractors.

    The full squad is: Graeme Smith (capt), Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla, Loots Bosman, Gulam Bodi, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, AB De Villiers, JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Paul Harris, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Neil McKenzie, Albie Morkel, Mornè Morkel, Andrè Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Justin Ontong, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn, Roger Telemachus, Alfonso Thomas, Thandi Tshabalala, Johan van der Wath, Mornè van Wyk


    Will Liverpool Curse Haunt Torres?

    18/07/2007

    torres 

    With the exception of the now injury prone Michael Owen, Liverpool have been cursed with turning potential and proven goal scorers into very average players. If the papers are to believed then Fernando Torres could have gone to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United or Inter Milan, yet he chose Liverpool. Will this prove to be a mistake, a backwards step in his career? Or will he buck the trend and prove that he is as good as many had hoped? Certainly those at Liverpool will hope so.
    Liverpool have failed to lift the Premier League title since its inception, and more horrifically for their fans, they have failed to even come close to winning the title as best team in England, a title they seemed to own in the 80’s. They can point to a Champions League win and a final place in the last three seasons, but the truth here is that they have been a one man team for a long time. Take Steven Gerrard out of the equation and Liverpool will struggle to find a UEFA Cup place never mind a top four finish. The main problem that Liverpool have face, due to the reliance on Gerrard for results, is a match winning, consistent, goal scorer.

    The Liverpool name and legend is still illustrious enough to attract big names, usually when Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United don’t come calling, but they have managed to secure many top class, or potentially great, forwards during the last decade or so. However, and many Newcastle fans will be able to relate to this, they have found that the players who have come have never preformed as well as they had else where, or as well as they had hoped.

    Robbie Fowler broke all sorts of youth team records and was quickly an established member of the Liverpool and England teams. He was regarded as the most natural finisher in the league by many and referred to by the nickname “God” by the Liverpool faithful. Fowler produced the goods for many years at Liverpool. For the first six seasons he played at Liverpool he averaged over 20 goals a season. And then the goals started to dry up. Over the next 3 years he only scored 14 league goals and was then shipped off to Leeds United for a fresh start. At Leeds he did slightly better, scoring 14 goals in two seasons, but rarely hit the highs of his early years. What followed for a player who should have been in the prime of his career was next to dreadful. He moved on to Manchester City where he managed 27 goals in four years, 20 of them in the league. A player who was averaging 20 goals a season now managed that number in four. He returned to Liverpool for two more seasons, scoring 11 times in that period before being released and is currently weighing up options in lower divisions and Australia. The once devastating striker fizzled out to be an average player living on a past reputation during what should have been his prime years.

    Emile Heskey arrived at Liverpool having carved out an impressive reputation at Leicester City. After a strong start to his Liverpool, and England career, he was laughed out of Anfield a joke. He scored 39 times in 150 games for Liverpool, slightly better than the 40 goals he managed in 154 games at Leicester, but at a bigger club, with better service, and more experience behind him, so much more was expected. Heskey is trying to rebuild his deflated reputation at Wigan, after a season at Birmingham, who were relegated in his time there.

    Djibril Cisse came to Liverpool after some very impressive seasons at Auxerre in France. Auxerre were not one of the top teams in France at the time, yet Cisse managed to top Liga 1’s scoring charts in both the ’01/02 and ’03/04 seasons before Liverpool paid 14 million pounds to bring him to England. Cisse was the hottest property in France, scoring 70 times in 128 games for Auxerre. Much was expected of him in England. Although he scored on his debut against Spurs, Cisse failed to live up to the hype and ended the season having scored 5 goals in 25 games. He wasn’t help by injuries in his time at Liverpool, including a broken leg, and being used out of position on the wing for much of Rafa Benitez first season at Liverpool. During his next, and last season, at Liverpool he managed a better rate, scoring 17 times in 54 games, but this was still not good enough and he was shipped out to Marseille on loan for the next season, and has since made the move permanent. He has regained his form in France and retained his place in the French national squad, but his time at Liverpool damaged his confidence and reputation.

    Perhaps the best illustration of the strikers curse at Liverpool would be the case of Fernando Morientes, the Spanish international striker, who was signed from Real Madrid in the 05/06 season. After impressive spells at Real Madrid, where he managed 72 goals in 282 games, and a loan period at Monaco where he scored 10 league goals as well as 9 Champions League goals, finishing as the Champions Leagues top scorer, he moved on to Liverpool. Where again it all went wrong for him. A superb strike rate at international level of 27 goals in 47 games, could not be transferred to a Liverpool shirt, where Morientes managed12 goals in 61 games. He moved on to Valencia where he managed 18 goals in 28 games. Incidentally Morientes has scored on his debuts for Albecete, Real Zaragoza, Real Madrid B, Real Madrid, Valencia, Spain U/21, and Spain. But not Liverpool.

    While Dirk Kuyt can not as yet be described as a failure, scoring 14 goals in 48 games for Liverpool since his move from Holland, if he fails to produce this coming season, he may join the long list of forward failures at Liverpool. He arrived at Anfield having scored a remarkable 83 times in 122 games for Feyenoord. While that may be in a weaker league it could be argued that he should be of a quality to acclimatise to the English game and start banging in the goals, just as Ruud van Nistelrooy did for Manchester United. Ruud managed 36 goals in 45 games in his debut season, coming back from a serious injury and from the same league as Kuyt. Liverpool are certainly expecting more from the Dutch international.

    Fernando Torres has carved out a great reputation for himself in Spain, and having arrived for a huge transfer fee, will hope that he is able to break the trend of forward failures that have run onto the Anfield turf, for both his new team and his careers sake


    Rhodes still a Protea

    16/07/2007

    jonty

    After speculation linking him with both England and Sri Lanka, Jonty Rhodes is to stay on as fielding coach for South Africa.
    Rhodes, regarded by many as the best fielder in the world during his playing days with South Africa, had only been contracted by Cricket South Africa until the Cricket World Cup in March/April. Since then there had been speculation as to whether or not he would be retained by the South African cricket team, with Jonty himself saying that much owed to what his family thought of him spending time away touring with the team. After the arrival of his ex team mate, and close friend, Alan Donald, to the England coaching set up, it was believed that Jonty could follow, becoming England’s permanent fielding coach, a position they have not filled since Trevor Penney left to assist Tom Moody in Sri Lanka in 2005. There was also talk of Sri Lanka looking to recruit Rhodes as new coach Trevor Bayliss assistant coach. Rhodes has distanced himself from such rumours by stating 
     

    “I can honestly say I have never received any offers from England,” Rhodes told
    News24.com. “Some time ago there was a rumour I was going to coach Sri Lanka,
    but I was never approached by them either.”

    The South African coach, Mickey Arthur, has also reiterated the stance that Jonty will be part of his coaching stuff for the immediate future.

    “Jonty has confirmed he’s staying with us.”

    and

    “He is an integral member of our team and he is committed to staying with
    the Proteas,” Arthur said. “I don’t know where all these rumours start, but
    Jonty’s definitely with us. I hope we can squash all these rumours”

    So,at least with regard to Jonty Rhodes, South Africa will not be allowing one of its prized assets to be lost to a opposition cricket set up.


    Sunday Speculation

    15/07/2007

    crouch

    DAILY STAR ON SUNDAY

  • Sir Alex Ferguson has blocked Gabriel Heinze’s potential move to Liverpool.
  • Kanu’s future at Portsmouth still remains in the balance.
  • Everton have failed in a bid to land AC Milan defender Dario Simic.
  • Liverpool are keen to sign Roma winger Mancini.
  • Liverpool have beaten a host of clubs to sign Tranmere teenager Michael Roberts.
  • Manchester City and Newcastle are battling to sign Peter Crouch.
  • Giuseppe Rossi looks set to join Parma with the expected arrival of Carlos Tevez at Manchester United.
  • Birmingham are set to step up their pursuit of Charlton’s Luke Young.
  • Manchester City have signed Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes.
  • Alan Pardew has told Andy Reid and Jerome Thomas they are staying at Charlton.
  • Pardew also admits he is still keen on bringing West Ham’s Hayden Mullins to The Valley.
  • Aston Villa are set to up their offer for Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe to £10 million.
  • Besiktas are lining up a £3 million bid for West Ham’s Carlton Cole.
  • Everton are interested in Villarreal’s Juan Roman Riquelme.
  • NEWS OF THE WORLD
  • Arsene Wenger looks set to stay at Arsenal and will sign a new four-year deal.
  • West Ham and Spurs are interested in Derby’s Giles Barnes.
  • Newcastle have made an inquiry about Ronaldinho.
  • Charlton want to sign MK Dons striker Izale McLeod for £1.5 million.
  • Liverpool have slapped a £20 million price tag on Peter Crouch.
  • Newcastle are in talks with Fulham in a bid to bring Franck Queudrue to Tyneside for £3 million.
  • Real Madrid are set to launch a £14 million raid for Chelsea’s Arjen Robben.
  • West Ham target Stephen Appiah is set to go on strike in a bid to secure a move to Upton Park.
  • THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
  • David Beckham could be followed to LA Galaxy by Ronaldo.
  • Michael Ballack has been told by Jose Mourinho that he could be left out as they rethink their midfield formation.
  • Gabriel Heinze is the subject of a tug-of-war between Manchester United and Liverpool.
  • THE PEOPLE
  • Cesc Fabregas has turned his back on a move to Real Madrid as he is keen on joining Barcelona next year.
  • Arsenal will finally sell Jose Reyes this week to Real Madrid for £8 million.
  • Blackburn have made an inquiry to Everton about James Beattie.
  • Middlesbrough are ready to move for Spurs striker Mido.
  • Everton are showing an interest in Portsmouth’s Sol Campbell.
  • Charlton are preparing to spend £750,000 on Sheffield United striker Danny Webber.
  • Sheffield United are making a second bid for Celtic’s Bobo Balde.
  • Tottenham are set to pinch America starlet Freddy Adu from under the noses of Celtic.
  • Manchester City and Newcastle have been told that Peter Crouch will cost £25 million to leave Liverpool.
  • SUNDAY MAIL
  • Sunderland are planning a swoop for Bobo Balde.
  • Rangers are lining up a move for American youngster Danny Szetela.
  • SUNDAY MIRROR
  • Jose Mourinho’s rift with Roman Abramovich is apparently over.
  • Chelsea’s Lassana Diarra has rejected a new contract from the club.
  • Bryan Robson is ready with a £1 million bid to bring West Brom’s Kevin Phillips to Sheffield United.
  • Aston Villa are ready to splash out £25 million this week to buy Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jermain Defoe and Luke Young.
  • Bolton are planning one last bid to sign Christian Wilhelmsson from Nantes.

  • The Premier Leagues Best Ever

    13/07/2007

    Shearerhenry

    Continuing on the theme of the best players lists I have made a list of whom I believe to be the best players in the history of the English Premier League. Obviously, once again, there will be different opinions on who’s in and who’s out, so feel free to leave a comment on any issue you have. The list is Manchester United heavy, not as any bias, but because they have been the Premier League’s dominant team, and so will have the best players.Great current players, like Rooney, Ronaldo, Terry and Fabregas have been left out because the full impact of their careers have not been felt yet, but they will undoubtedly make any future lists. The list is in no particular order.

    1. Peter Schmeichel. The dominant Danish keeper will no doubt top any list of great Premier League keepers. Ended Sir Alex’s search for a top class shot stopper when he signed from Brondby in ’92 for 530 000 pounds, a figure Alex Ferguson described as the bargain of the century. He holds the record for the best games to clean sheet ratio in the Premier League with 42%.

    2. Denis Irwin. The Cork born full back was dubbed “Mr Dependable” and was usually one of the first names pencilled in for any United squad and always gave a solid performance. During his time at United he won 7 league titles as well as 3 FA Cups, a League Cup, a Cup Winners Cup, and the Champions League. He was a member of the treble team of ‘99. Played at United until he was 37.

    3. Tony Adams. Spent all 22 years of his playing career at Arsenal, having joined as a school boy. Played over 504 times for club, scoring 32 goals, and 66 times for England, finding the back of the net on 5 occasions. The commanding centre back was still one of the best defenders in the league well into his 30’s.

    4. Patrick Viera. The Senegal born French footballer joined Arsenal as a relative unknown on 1996 from AC Milan. He remained at the club for 9 years before moving to Juventus. Particular on field highlights of his time at Arsenal where the fierce mid field battles that were fought out against Roy Keane. Viera captained Arsenal after Tony Adams retired and was captain of the team during their unbeaten title winning season.

    5. Dennis Bergkamp. Joined Arsenal from Inter in 1995 and remained there until his retirement in 2006. Bergkamp was one of the best players in the supportive striker role that has graced any pitch in the world. His tactical awareness and deft touches almost made it look like he had all the time in the world. Regarded as perhaps the most important buy in Arsenal history, not just for his on field influence, but also it allowed Arsenal to attract other top class foreign players. Is the only player in Premier League history to come 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the same month for the goal of the month competition.

    6. Roy Keane. Signed by Manchester United for a then British record of 3,75 million pounds, Keane went on to become Uniteds most influential and inspirational leaders. He won 7 league titles, 4 as captain, during his time at United. Although playing in a glamourless role of defence midfielder, Keane will go down as one of the best players in the history of the game. His reading of the game, and match situations, more then made up for what he lacked in skill.

    7. Ryan Giggs. Is the only player to have played and scored in every season of the Premier Leagues history. Giggs is the Leagues most decorated player with 9 title wins to his name. The left sided midfield player has been a model professional throughout his career, all of it spent at United, and continues to surprise many pundits with his form and consistency as he enters the twilight of his career. Will go down as one of United and the Premier Leagues best players, if not the best.

    8. Paul Scholes. The quiet man of the Manchester United midfield for the last decade, Scholes has been the creative genius behind many title winning seasons at United. While Beckham and Giggs may have taken the limelight the influence of Scholes can not be underestimated. Described as the one of the best finishers he as ever seen by his manager, Sir Alex, Scholes has weighed in with important goals throughout his United career. Has sorely been missed by England since his retirement at 29 to prolong his United career.

    9. Eric Cantona. Cantona was the catalyst to United ending their 26 year wait for the League title, and kicked off their period of dominance in the 90’s. Cantona brought class and sophistication to a talented team that thought it was cursed to never win the league. He was voted United’s greatest ever player.

    10. Alan Shearer. The Leagues all time top scorer with 260 goals, is the only player to have scored 100 goals for 2 Premier League clubs, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. Scored 34 times in Blackburns title winning season of 94-95, the only club honours he was to win. Moved on to his home town club Newcastle for 15 million pounds, a world record at the time. Scored 206 goals for Newcaslte, a club record, before retiring in 2006

    11. Gianfranco Zola. Joined Chelsea from Parma in 1996 and went on to play 229 games for the club, scoring 59 times. Zola has been voted as the best ever Chelsea player by the clubs fans. In the pre Abromovich days, Zola was instrumental in making Chelsea a successful cup team, winning 2 FA Cups, a League Cup, a Cup Winners Cup and a European Super Cup with Chelsea.

    12. Thierry Henry. Arsenals all time top scorer with a prolific return of 174 goals in 254 games. Following Viera’s move to Juventus, Henry was named club captain, a role he fulfilled until his recent departure to Barcelona. As much a maker of goals as he was a goal scorer Henry will go down as Arsenals best player ever and one of the best the Premier League has ever seen.

    13. David Beckham. Becks played the best part of his career at Manchester United before moving on to Real Madrid. During his time at United, which began as a school boy and ended when he was 28, he was regarded as the best free kick taker and crosser of a ball in the world. Behind all the glamour and chaos of his life away from football, Beckham was still an excellent midfield player.