Owen – A Risk Worth Taking

06/07/2009
Picture from teamtalk.com

Picture from teamtalk.com

On Wednesday it looked like there was a chance that Michael Owen could be playing for Everton or Aston Villa, but more likely Stoke or Hull. The Newcastle player had just become a free transfer target having let his contract run down and was looking at his limited options. Four years of injury problems at Newcastle had made the once prolific Liverpool, Real Madrid and England striker a player who’s career seemed to winding down with the only real hopes of a mid table or relegation threatened team willing to take a chance on him. And then Sir Alex called.

48 hours later Owen was signing for the Champions, he was a Manchester United player. With Ronaldo and Tevez gone United were looking to reinforce their attacking lines with a goal scorer. The 80 million pounds brought in from the Ronaldo sale meant United have money to burn most of the games big name strikers were mentioned. United seemed on the verge of signing Karim Benzema before it was announced that he too would be heading to Madrid. David Villa seems set on staying in Spain, and the likes of Huntelaar, Fabiano, Kun Aguero and Ibrahimovic have all been linked at one time or other. There is still two months of the transfer window left and United may still bring in a big name expensive signing, but on Friday evening Michael Owen became a free transfer signing for Manchester United.

Many see this as a risk by Sir Alex, with none of the other top teams seeing Owen as a viable option. Liverpool fans have come out violently aggressive and bitter about their once goal scoring legend signing for United. Opinions are split on the signing but one thing is certain, Michael Owen on a free is a risk worth taking, and a great bit of business by United.

If Owens fitness continues to be a problem the consolation for United will be that he was free. But the forward believes his injury problems are behind him and was put through the most stringent medical in the clubs history before signing for far less then he was on at Newcastle. The gamble is one worth taking. The desire is still there from Owen and is clearly evident in his taking a huge pack cut to play for a team that gives him his best chance at honours and at getting back into the England fold. In a world cup year Owen will be best placed to show Capello that he is not finished, and in playing with Rooney, will give the England selectors something to think about. He has a lot to prove, not to the Liverpool fans vilifying him, but to himself and Capello, and has faith to repay in Sir Alex.

United have not played with an out and out goal scorer since Ruud van Nistelrooy left for Real, and Owen will give them that option. Whether coming off the bench or starting, Owen will bring something new to the United attack and the increased options and threat can only be a good thing. A fit Michael Owen, with the desire and burn to restore his name and reputation could be the stroke of genius United need to follow the departure of Ronaldo. Time will tell, but I think this could be a great signing by Manchester United – for them and for Michael Owen.

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United’s Loss

21/06/2009
Pic from teamtalk.com

Pic from teamtalk.com

In a week Manchester United have let Christiano Ronaldo and then Carlos Tevez leave Old Trafford. There will no doubt be a lot of comments from all sides coming out about both these departures, but I fear the loss of Tevez is harder to swallow for United fans.

Ronaldo’s had his heart in Madrid for a long time now. He has come out and said he decided he wanted to leave United for Madrid last season. As much as United fans have loved what Ronaldo has done on the pitch, the news of his departure did not come as a shock. United fans have had a season to prepare for it and many realised that the world record fee of 80 million pounds was too good an offer to turn down. Ronaldo had some great years at United and he will be missed.

Tevez departure is harder to take. The Argentine forward is a United player. His work rate and effort for the team was second to none. United fans took him to heart immediately and all the noises coming out of the Old Trafford board room and from the player himself, after his first season, was that it would be when and not if United would sign the player permanently. As the last season wore on a few grumblings began about why Tevez had not been signed up. He began to start far less often and had to settle for more of a bench role than he, and United fans, liked. Tevez became frustrated at how he was treated and it became more likely that he would leave. And that’s what has now happened.

United agreed to pay the 25.5million fee that was asked and offered a 5 year deal to Tevez. When Tevez needed time to think about the offer United took it off the table and announced that Tevez had turned them down and was leaving. There are two things to take from this. Firstly United are not frustrated and did not lose patience with the player himself, but rather with his representatives. Tevez unique situation meant that his rights were owned by a company and not a club and United were finding it difficult to deal with them. That being said, the second point is United have not been fair to the player himself.

Tevez wanted time to think about the offer. Many feel that he’s had two years to think about it and shouldn’t have been taking this long to let United know. The general feeling is that if a huge, successful team like United want you for 5 years you say yes please. Had the offer been made at the end of last season there is no doubt that is exactly what would have happened. But Tevez situation with United changed this year and he had to decide if he wanted to remain with the United he played for during his first season or the United he played with in his second. He should have been given the time he needed, his loan spell still had 10 days to run, and United should have done everything to make him stay.

With Ronaldo gone Tevez would have played a more important role in the team, and United would have needed that. Yet they have let him go. Another point to consider is if United have known that Ronaldo was leaving this season then why was the team build around him? Surely it would have made more sense to build for a Ronaldoless team and focus on Rooney and Tevez?

It’s been said a million times before and will be said a million more, but no player is bigger than the club. United will go on without Ronaldo and Tevez and build a new successful team, just as they did when Hughes and Ince left, when Cantona retired, when Beckham left, and when Keane left. United will go on. Sir Alex has always steered the club in the right direction and will no doubt do so again. Players will be brought in to replace those who leave, and those at the club, Nani, Tosic, Kiko and Welbeck will be given chances to stake a claim for starting births. However the heart and courage of Carlos Tevez will be hard to replace and he will be missed. It says a lot about the man that he has ruled out moving to Liverpool because of the rivalry between the clubs. Yes Carlos Tevez will be missed by United. Good luck to him.


Ronaldo’s Madrid Bound – Now What?

11/06/2009

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Manchester United and Real Madrid both confirmed today that a world record bid of 80 million pounds had been accepted by United for Christiano Ronaldo. So after a few years of will he won’t he it now seems that Ronaldo will be a Madrid player before July.

Manchester United are losing one of the best players in the world, and there is no doubt that Ronaldo will be missed, and won’t be easy to replace. In truth a player of his current ability can only be replaced with two other players, Kaka and Messi, and neither will be at Old Trafford next season. So have United erred in letting the current World Player of the Year leave?

The most important factor in all this is that the player wanted to leave. Ronaldo has known for a while that he would end up at Real and has refused to commit himself to United, giving ambiguous answers that best suited him and did nothing to appease the United fans. Rather than vilifying him, what United fans must realise is that while a lot of the world dream of playing for United, kids from Spain, Portugal and Latin America dream of pulling on the Real Madrid or Barcelona shirts. Ronaldo has always wanted to play for Real and players of his calibre generally get to pick their clubs. So while the move may not be the best for his career, and only time will tell, and few have succeeded after leaving Old Trafford, it is his dream move. There is little point in keeping a player who wants to go.

The price tag, 80 million, is too good to turn down. When it became clear to United that Ronaldo wanted to leave, and he asked to, they had to try and get as much as they could. Following so close on Kaka’s move to Real it would have been hard to imagine that Real would be willing, or able, to pay the money being talked about in the press. But thy have agreed. United failed to get the maximum they could for Beckham when he left for Madrid, only taking into account his footballing worth, and not commercial worth. They haven’t made that mistake this time. With 80 million Sir Alex could buy a couple of super stars, or a host of potential stars, or a combination of both.

So what should United do with the money? Replacing Ronaldo is impossible so United should look to do what’s best for the team. Firstly they should sign Tevez. Things have gone on so long that it seems more likely that Tevez will be leaving, but United can not afford to lose both Ronaldo and Tevez, and should do everything possible to convince Tevez he should stay. Most United fans would have chosen keeping Tevez ahead of Ronaldo if asked in the last month. Hopefully those that deal with such things at United will get that right. So which players should be targeted after the Tevez situation is sorted out? United need someone who will score the goals that Ronaldo assured them of each season. They will look at bringing in Benzema, who has been a long time target of there’s. However a better option now would be David Villa. Chelsea and Real have been linked with the Spanish hitman so United would have to move fast to get him, but he will be well worth the 30-40 million Valencia would ask for him. He guarantees goals and that’s what United need. Sergio Aguero, and Pato should also be looked at. Both will be among the best players in the world in the near future, with Aguero closer right now than Pato, but both will work for the future and present. Wide players who United should look at are likely to be Ribery and David Silva. The prices being asked for Ribery by Bayern are too high for the 27 year old, but like United and Ronaldo, Bayern may have a hard time keeping a player who wants to leave. United tried to buy Silva last season but they player wasn’t interested in leaving Spain. If that were to change Silva  could be the ideal replacement for Ronaldo. Another name being mentioned is Madrid’s Robben. United were on the verge of signing him before he went to Chelsea. Fergie is a fan of the dutchman, and with Madrid looking to sell, United could be at the front of the line to bring him back to England. His injury record may be a concern though.

While a host of big names will now be linked to United in the coming weeks, and while Fergie may bring in one or two of them, the more likely scenario is that United will buy Antonio Valencia from Wigan to play down the wing and push Wayne Rooney upfront, where he belongs. While United will miss Ronaldo, and any team would, his leaving may be the best thing for Rooney. Rooney has spent much of his time at United doing whatever job he’s asked to do, and his done it with no complaints. He’s spent much of the last few years out on the wing. Rooney is a forward and needs to be playing there to reach his true potential. This may be his chance to finally get to cement that position, and take him forward on his quest to be the best in the world.

Ronaldo is most likely gone but United can be stronger for it, if they use the money and personnel wisely. It should be an interesting few months.


The Sunday Papers

24/05/2009

NEWS OF THE WORLD

Cristiano Ronaldo has pledged: “I am staying at Manchester United.”

Manchester City have stepped up their chase for Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

Xabi Alonso has rocked Liverpool by admitting he wants to quit Anfield.

Goodison legend Peter Reid is trying to buy his beloved Everton.

Chelsea are planning for life without Didier Drogba by moving for Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero.

Manchester City are desperate to push through a new deal for Stephen Ireland while Nedum Onuoha is set to sign a three-year contract.

Chelsea’s £25million move for Zenit St Petersburg’s Portugal midfielder Danny has been dealt a serious injury blow.

Newcastle are desperate to keep young goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Wigan want to sign Alan Smith from Newcastle.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson has lined up a move for FC Twente’s Austria striker Marko Arnautovic.

Everton face stiff competition for Inter Milan striker David Suazo with Manchester City and Villarreal also interested.

THE PEOPLE

Angry Patrice Evra has accused Cesc Fabregas and Arsenal of trying to kick him out of the Champions League final.

Sunderland are set to have a £200million transfer budget thanks to new owner Ellis Short.

Gareth Southgate will be asked to oversee a fire sale of players if Middlesbrough are relegated.

Bayern Munich want Portsmouth’s England right-back Glen Johnson.

Manchester City are ready to offer Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry £19million in wages to tempt him to Eastlands.

Arsenal are ready to launch a club-record move for Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz.

Aston Villa are set to make another move for David Bentley of Tottenham.

Stephen Hunt and Andre Bikey are on their way out of Reading. Hunt is a target for Everton while Wigan want Bikey.

Everton are closing in on a £12million deal for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Moutinho.

Manchester United want Charlton’s England youth defender Carl Jenkinson.

Middlesbrough want Leeds winger Robert Snodgrass.

Leicester boss Nigel Pearson is ready to sign Hibernian’s Polish goalkeeper Grzegorz Szamotulski.

Lucas Neill and West Ham are set to agree a new deal.

Kettering boss Mark Cooper is favourite to take over at Chesterfield.

Salomon Kalou has hinted he may leave Chelsea.

Preston boss Alan Irvine is on Reading’s short-list for their vacant managerial position.

DAILY STAR SUNDAY

Djibril Cisse is closing down his classy Newcastle clothes shop The Pr9ject – sparking fears that the Sunderland striker will be leaving in the summer.

Manchester City are set to join the race to land Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry.

Tottenham will switch their attention to Juventus striker Vincenzo Iaquinta – if they fail to land Kenwyne Jones from Sunderland.

Derby are launching a £500,000 bid for Blackpool defender Shaun Barker.

Southampton winger Nathan Dyer is wanted by Ajax.

French club Marseille have joined Wigan in showing an interest in Tottenham midfielder Didier Zokora.

Oldham want Bradford skipper Graeme Lee on a free.

Coventry are chasing Leicester outcast DJ Campbell.

Derby manager Nigel Clough is ready to get rid of £3million flop Claude Davis to Crystal Palace – for nothing.

SUNDAY MIRROR

David Beckham is set to join Chelsea as part of Carlo Ancelotti’s blueprint for the club.

Kanu is anxiously awaiting a decision from Portsmouth as to whether he is to be offered a new deal.

Micah Richards has been assured he has a future at Manchester City.

Aston Villa are preparing a £9million offer for Almeria’s 27-year-old left-back Mane.

Ipswich and Sunderland want Bristol City midfielder Marvin Elliott.

Fulham have turned down the chance to sign Derby’s Giles Barnes on a permanent deal.

MAIL ON SUNDAY

Sir Alex Ferguson insists Cristiano Ronaldo is staying at Manchester United but Carlos Tevez looks set to leave.

SUNDAY EXPRESS

Texan millionaire Ellis Short will complete his buy-out of Sunderland this week.

Liverpool’s pursuit of Portsmouth right-back Glen Johnson is gathering pace.


A New Chelsea

04/09/2008

 

The take over of Manchester City last season led many City fans to believe that they could be the new Chelsea. Despite spending more than ever, a great start to the season, and doing better than they had for a long time, their rebirth as the new Chelsea didn’t happen. It has now.

The Abu Dhabi United Group have transformed City to a club with new heights to scale and and challenges to compete for. That the take over and transformation happened over night, and on the last day of transfer activity, means that we are unlikely to feel the effect of this move until January, when the transfer window reopens, at the earliest.

There will however be a few nervous glances over their shoulders by the big four. While Spurs and Everton have flirted with the hope of a top four finish, and the Champions League that is the reward, there is now a realistic chance, and hope, that a real sustained challenge is on the horizon.

This news will worry Liverpool, and maybe Arsenal the most. Chelsea may now have the second richest backer in football, but they still have the financial clout to keep buying their way into title challenges, and ensuring a top four finish for years to come. United have never finished out of the top three since the Premiership began, and as they have shown with back to back titles, after a three year drought, they relish the challenge of competing against the irresponsible spending of the blank cheque Chelsea. Arsenal have never been a big spending team, and are starting to look like a selling club at times, but instead rely on the prodigious talent and potential of their young stars. At times Arsenal are the best team in the country, and the world, and on rare occasions they are muscled out of games and end up chasing third place and not first. They will have a cautious look at what is happening in Manchester now, especially since they have refused to entertain the idea of being bought out by many on looking billionaires.

The most nervous of all the big four will be Liverpool. They have some of the best players in the world in Steven Gerrard and, inparticular, Fernando Torres, and have added the guile and unorthodix skill of Robbie Keane to their ranks. Keane and Torres could be the best strike duo in Europe. The potential is there, they complement each other, the only thing they need, and this is where Liverpool have failed over the last 18 years, is for them to click. The back ground squabling by the owners, the manager, the chief executive and anyone else who cares to have a go, that has made Liverpool a virtual laughing stock of the elite clubs, and the news of yet more problems with the planned new stadium, mean that Liverpool are at risk of losing their top four place to the new kid on the block, Manchester City.

City wasted no time in flexing their new financial might, with bids for Robinho, Berbatov, Torres, Villa, van Nistelrooy and another player, thought to be Huntelaar of Ajax. All bids were over the British record mark of 30 million pounds that Chelsea paid for Schevchenko, with the Torres bid in excess of 50 million. They only managed to bring in Robinho from Real Madrid for a new British Record of 32 million pounds. Significantly they signed Robinho when he appeared to be heading to Chelsea, who had even been selling shirts with his name on the back last week. Come January they have made it known that they will be spending whatever it takes to bring the best players in the world to Eastlands. Bids for Christiano Ronaldo, thought to be 135 million pounds, Cesc Fabregas and Buffon (70 million pounds) are in the pipe line, as well as many many more.

Chelsea’s new transformation under Abromovic saw a spree of spending that could not be believed. City look to make that look small. These are interesting times for English football, and with the league crying out for a challanger to the top four it seems they may have found one.

 Buying success may not always work, but it has for Chelsea, so why not City?

 

Pic from teamtalk.com


United Chasing Falcao

02/07/2008

The end of Euro 2008 should signal the beginning of the transfer period for most major teams in Europe. In what has thus far been a quiet post and pre seaon, especially in England, some moves should begin to gather momentum over the next few weeks.

The big four in England have not made any significant signings as yet. That was until yesterdays signing of Deco by Chelsea. Chelsea, who signed Bosigwa at the end of last season, should be very active in the transfer window in the coming weeks, with new manager Scolari said to have an unlimited transfer budget to try and over haul Manchester United in the league and in Europe.

United for their part have had to deal with the rumours of Ronaldo jumping ship to Madrid without causing much of a ripple in the back pages of Englands papers. The initial thought was that they would make their moves before Euro 2008, so as to preempt any escalating prices due to prominent Euro 2008 performances. They didn’t and choose to wait. The tournament has come and gone and if anything a few of United’s said be targets, Benzema of Lyon and Veloso of Sporting, should have had their prices cut, due to poor showing, or very little pitch time. Lyon were said to have asked for over 50 million Euro’s for Benzema, a price United balked at, and so they have cast their eyes elsewhere.

Most reports suggest that the number one target for Sir Alex is now Spurs forward Berbatov. While his asking price may still be high, around the 25-35 million mark, it is still considerably lower then that of Benzema. At 27 Berbatov is older than Benzema, 20, and with United looking to youth generally, he is off the recent trend. However at 27 he is reaching his peak and United would be buying a complete player, rather than a promising one they can mould. Another positive is that he has been in the Premier League for 2 years and has a proven record and thus would not need to adapt.

However todays papers have suggested that United are looking at a cheaper option, that would keep with their trend of buying young promising players. They are thought to be after River Plates 15 million pound rated striker Folcao. Folcao is a 23 year old Colombian international who was River’s top scorer last season. In 58 games for River he has netted 38 times. A record that is sure to impress all watching the young hit man.

Falcao spent last season occupying the same sort of role that Tevez does for United but his record playing as a striker is good enough that United will no doubt look to follow up any interest before any others make a move. Bids by Milan and Aston Villa were turned down last season, and Real Madrid are thought to also be considering a move.

With Sir Alex saying that United will only look to bring in one or two players this window a forward seems most likely, with Tevez and Rooney having only the injury prone Saha as back up. Berbatov has the talent and record, but his sulky behaviour may not be what is needed at United, and thus the young Folcao could be the answer to United’s needs.

(Picture from http://www.goal.com)


Veloso To Milan?

17/06/2008

Miguel Veloso, the Sporting Lisbon midfielder currently with the Portugal squad at Euro 08, has long been touted as being Premiership bound, with Manchester United seemingly favourites to land the talented central player, and Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, Newcastle and even Everton ready to pounce. It now seems he may be heading to Italy to join AC Milan.

While a host of club scouts are no doubt waiting to see Veloso in action at Euro 08 before making their move Milan may have jumped the line by taking action. The link to Milan is not new but where as before it was coming out of Veloso’s camp, and denied by Milan, they have now revealed that Veloso could be a Milan player in the future.  Milan director Ariedo Braida has said that the club are interested in Veloso and he could see him being a Milan player in the future. While this does open the door to a move to Italy it does put a vague spin on the time scale. He hasn’t said that they will be moving for Veloso this transfer window but merely that he sees him at Milan in the future.

With the Milan squad an aging one, and any new signings tending to be for the future, as a new Milan is born, with the likes of Pato leading the way, Veloso would fit the mould of the type of midfielder MIlan would want, probably taking over from Gattuso in the middle of the park. However with a host of clubs monitoring the situation anyone interested in Veloso will have to make a move soon, and would have to meet Sportings valuation of the player, which wont be cheap.

For now he is still a Spoting player, but it is only a matter of time before he makes the move to one of Europes elite.