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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sneak peek into FC BARCELONA's Transfer Policy



Barcelona are about to bring to an end the most painfully boring transfer sagas of the last decade by finally sealing the deal to take Francesc Fabregas Soler back to Catalunya. After years of courtship and tapping up claims, the saga is expected to come to an end this weekend when Barcelona are widely expected to complete the signing of the midfield schemer who they widely believe to step into the ageing Xavi’s shoes as his achilles get more and more suspect with each passing season. It is also being expected that Barcelona could very well gift a double to their fans by also presenting Alexis Sanchez, the next big thing in world football alongside Fabregas to the Camp Nou faithful.


It could be interesting as to what it will do to the dynamics of the team when Sanchez arrives, which is just a matter of when. It is clearly known that Barcelona are getting overly reliant on Messi with each passing season for goals as the statistics clearly suggest, but the argument is not as hollow as it sounds. Pedro and Villa were scoring for fun. Both had been scoring for fun until late winter and into early spring but injury struck Pedro and a long and arduous season got to Villa as his form simply vanished into thin air come February. But after that the goals just stopped flowing as both of them went on a barren run and had it not been for the brilliance of their No.10 Barcelona would not have been the team that would have been laughing and celebrating at Wembley last month.

The arrival of Sanchez could really galvanize Pedro and Villa into scoring more which could only be good for Barcelona. There are also rumblings that Barca could now make a move for Villareal’s Guiseppe Rossi after the signing of Cesc and Sanchez are completed. This could certainly spell the end of Barcelona career for at least one forward in the team, either of Pedro or Villa who could be sacrificed, with the higher likelihood that it could well be David Villa being shown the door. This is certainly a very big IF indeed pertaining to whether Guiseppe Rossi is indeed being signed or not. Therefore it is hardly surprising to read rumours of Villa being linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge or Eastlands.

The field that Barca need to strengthen is in the defence with the left full back position a priority, Jose Angel looks a bright prospect and could well be signed. The evolution of Mascherano into a centre half looked promising at the latter stages of the season and Eric Abidal is also now being regarded to play in the centre alongside Pique rather than on the left as Captain marvel Puyol’s injuries start to limit the no.of games he can play in a season.

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AND WHILE WE ARE AT IT,
It was such a disgusting and disgraceful sight to see a banana being hurled at Roberto Carlos when he was plying his trade in the Russian football league. This incident happened in a country that is going to host the football world cup in 7 years time. And to make matters worse the horrifying sight of a passenger plane crash in the same country would even make the hurling of bananas on players acceptable. Do we really need a World Cup in such a country? Would it really be worth the risk? Do FIFA really know what they are doing when they award the showpiece event to countries like Qatar and Russia? No wonder FIFA makes profit, after all the money comes from those billionaires who quite happily fill up the pockets of these corrupt and immoral officials who run this corrupt organization.
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Hats off to the FIFA ranking ranking system when it shows an incoherent, underachieving and fearful team that has failed to make the top 4 of the last 5 World cups and the last three European championships as the Fourth best team in the world ahead of the mighty Brazilians. The next time if someone questions Capello regarding what he has done for the past three years while on gardening leave at the Wembley in England with the National Football team, you can very well expect an answer only if he knows more than four English alphabets though.
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tottenham, Time to Excel..

Special thanks to JC, the discussion gave me insights for this post. Cheers mate..

The Spurs team or Harry Redknapp's boys as I like to call them, are a bunch who have underachieved despite having a lot in them. This blog post is a reminder of where Spurs have been heading despite all the talent oozing out and with a man at helm who dreams to be England's coach soon..(England are in shit and Harry certainly won't be able to clean it up)

Right from the days I followed football, that was about 8 years ago, Spurs have always been an exciting team to watch in both the positive and negative sense.Be their 3-3 fightback against Arsenal in 2011, or the 'so close yet so far' comeback against Inter Milan scoring 3 goals after going 4 goals down in the 1st half or their demolition of AC Milan in both the legs of the Champions League. However also exciting are games like the one against Manchester United in 2009 where despite being 2 goals up in the 1st half , Spurs cowardly lost the game by conceding 5 in the later half of the game. A game involving Spurs is never incomplete without any drama. And surely bring lots of heart aches to the fans, which they would like to avoid.

Let's begin digging deep.. Where are the guys hiding.. I put my hand in the Spurs defence and I get the opposition's favourite player.. 'Blooper Gomes'.. Well, what was his name.. "Heurelho Gomes" a Brazilian, has been one of their main players and to be fair, never have Brazilians been great goal keepers. But Gomes has done his reputation more harm by being butter fingered on numerous occasions. As good a goalkeeper he has tried to be, the worse he has been by letting the ball sneak past him on several times thus letting the opposition sneak through to victory. Persisting with 'Blooper Gomes' has been a costly mistake by Redknapp and for this here's a ..

Tottenham have had 6 strikers in the past 5 years with Berba and Bent having moved on to greener pastures where they have settled well into their roles scoring consistently. But at Tottenham and specially under Redknapp strikers are like rolling stone, not sure if they will start the next game on the field or on the bench. Bent is not a legend at White Hart lane but will forever be remembered for the famous quote by Harry Redknapp, who said, after the striker had fluffed a simple chance against Portsmouth: "Even my Mrs. could have scored that." Here a  for the indecent comment from a top manager..Pauyluchencko, Robbie Keane and Peter Crouch are not safe at Spurs either and their exit looks imminent. Harry scouts a lot of strikers but never the one's who will guarantee him success in the long run. A 20+ goal scoring striker is certainly going to solve their woes but will they be able to get one? Redknapp's British policy is certainly not driving away fan's fears of sitting out of the Top 4 and the Champions league.

Certainly not a good thing when you have your best players leaving to rival clubs in the premier league, the balance, the stability is all shaken up and rebuilding is never an easy process.. The most recent ones which come to mind are Berba and Carrick's departure to United. And the latest rumours of Modric to Chelsea or ManU strengthens the fact that Tottenham's resilience to hold on to their best players is lacking big time. Getting players like 28 year old Pienaar and 40 year old Friedel shows nothing less than Tottenham's lack of transfer imagination. Their only signing which was appreciated and was for one, a bargain, Rafael Van Der Vart. He has been the backbone of Spur's last season and without his presence on the pitch the team has only struggled.

The man in picture, Luka Modric has been an integral part of Spur's achievement in  qualifying for the Champions league for the first time eventually bowing out of the tournament at the quarter final stage. Starting in a defensive midfield position he eventually moved up to play as an attacking midfield, a role he enjoyed and was effective. His style of play has been appreciated by not just the players and staff at Spurs but also at other clubs. Increased visibility has led to poachers in the form of Chelsea and Manchester United. It would be hard for Spurs to hold onto their prized asset for long and it's only time before the 24 year old lad yearns to play champions League football. Spurs have to make it or break it for hold onto Modric for the real battle is only when you have your best around. Without him, Spurs will be starting all over again and  the fans at White Hart Lane would be praying that the Croat sticks with them.



Another man who has been instrumental in Tottenham's magic spell has been Gareth "Superman" Bale. This young man who at 21 has emerged as one of the sought after players is key to Tottenham's success. Playing at left back, he was destined to become a winger, some one whose crosses are a delight for every striker waiting in the box. He exposed himself to the world with his exhibition display against Inter scoring 3 on the night even though Spurs lost 4-3. Thus was known to the world "Superman" Bale, whose game certainly has improved since then pushing Spurs towards the brink of Champions league qualification. Bale recently extended his contract tying him to the club for another 4 years, but a sane person will realize that no longer are contracts considered to be holy. With interest from Barca and Inter , Spurs have to be on their guard to clinch on to Bale if they want to have any chances of qualifying for the Champions league next season and challenge for the premier league title.

I have only mentioned 2 players who have evinced interest from bigger clubs and have been crucial in playing a part in Tottenham's good run . Compared to their London rivals Tottenham's trophy cabinet has been barren for a long time except for the league cup win in 2008. Pace on the pitch has been Spur's strength and if they sell off Modric and Bale, that for one is a step back. Below is a compilation of how the combination of Modric and RVDV is crucial in propelling Spurs to a success.

The Spur's Quadrilateral : The games should be focused around Rafael VD Vart, being the centre of the quadrilateral, Modric starting all of it. Modric has all the freedom of deciding how to play the game, making him an important piece in the game. Obviously with Bale and Palacious lurking on the wings (I would prefer someone else for Palacious, Lennon doesn't show character ofcourse which is why he is omitted here) Modric has to get it exactly right as to how he wants to play and he has been right most of the time. Rafael VD Vart in between the quadrilateral has a responsibility to support 5 players around him and also at times play the game all by himself. Bale's position on the left wing is indispensable as he has proved and had made the left side of the field all of his own as he can double up as a left back without any hiccups.The strikers aren't really world class to match up to Spurs ambitions of playing in the Champions League. Defoe , Crouch , Paulu are all on the same scale and it's for harry redknapp to ditch his wife's ego and go get a striker who can propel the ship to the podium. The position in front of net has been a pain for a Spurs fan and unlike others Harry is washing his hands of it. 40 yr old Brad Friedel is not even a short term solution and doesn't Harry know that he is no SAF and Freidel is no Van Der Saar. Until and unless they get a 'No-Blooper' GK, problems will continue to arise.

Tottenham's transfer policy has been one of the most confusing and irritating one's I have ever seen. Rafael Van Der Vart at £8 million was the best buy Tottenham have ever made in recent times. That's it, end of story. I haven't seen them go a step ahead and make a buy that would have atleast won them a small battle. The recall of Keane and Defoe after being sold to Liverpool and Portsmouth respectively shows that Tottenham's ideology revolves around a small set of players. And the sale of Berba and Carrick to Manchester United didn't make matters any better. And now with rumours of Modric's exit and Bale in the near future it will only make a Spur's fan doubt if they can ever keep hold onto players who are looking to play in Europe and want to win titles( I don't even wanna mention that Spurs haven't qualified for Europe in the upcoming season). The day Tottenham start to win big, the exodus is bound to end.
Spur's fans would hate the trio to break apart
A good manger, a better sets of players and a great fan base build a team. But in the last decade trophies have mattered a lot and players have had big ambition arriving at a new club. Time for Tottenham to live up to those expectations!!



Sunday, June 19, 2011

THE MIDLANDS SAGA


What a year it has been in the midlands....three clubs in the premier league, each one of them had a mixed season and only West Brom emerged with some credit to their names after a wobble in the winter that threatened relegation. The two Birmingham clubs have had a season of extremities. The Blue half had a memorable one, a season that they will never forget, City made the trip to Wembley and won the Carling Cup and then got relegated on the final day of the season. The defensive resilience and the discipline that characterized the side had been missing for best part of the season thus the main reason for relegation, their inability to score goals from open play hit them hard as they were among the lowest scorers in the League.

Now lets come to the Claret and Blue half of Birmingham, Aston Villa, what a way the season started for them, Talismanic General Martin O'Neill walked out of the door the week the premier league was to kickoff, chaos reined at the club for the best part of three weeks as the club officials flirted with the idea of having Kevin McDonald as the boss only to find out that he was best suited for nurturing the lads at the academy. Upwards of 18mn pounds were required in the name of signing Darren Bent to save the club from relegation. The journey to safety has not been easy, it has been chaotic, indifferent and laden with infighting, indiscipline. The club that had the air of stability and the swagger of a potential top 4 side under O'Neill vanished overnight and although it took time for Houllier to bring in a semblance of stability at the club, his handling of the players or the outdoor bonding camp fiasco or even the Anfield antics did little to help matters. He managed to save them from relegation and just as he was beginning to settle into the job, an old heart problem struck him again making him unable to continue.

And thus started a game of musical chairs of Who wants to be the Aston Villa Manager? Mark Hughes was the best man who could take the club forward and he was poised to take over the job as his resignation at Fulham clearly suggested, but Randy Lerner developed cold feet and backtracked and Hughes was left jobless, ending up chastisized and laughed at by the media and fans alike. Steve McClaren, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez and then Roberto Martinez who almost took the job had it not been for Dave Whelan's terrific emotional blackmail. And this was just the beginning as the huge saga had just started to unravel. A certain Alex McLeish from the Blue half of Birmingham resigned as the manager by e-mail and reports started emerging that he was approached by Villa and then there were the tapping up claims, City were furious and so were the Villa supporters. Hate protests demanding against the move, Twitter and Facebook campaigns went on in full flow, club officials did not bother and went ahead and appointed Alex McLeish as their new manager and this provided for the crossing of the psychological wall that divides the city of Birmingham into two halves, McLeish by agreeing to take the job has angered both the set of fans in a city that is famous for its inter-club rivalry. This will be without the shadow of a doubt the toughest job of his managerial career, it will be a huge challenge for him to now try and stabilize the club,unify the polarised dressing room and start getting results. The only way he can get the fans on his side is by getting results and failure to do so could spell one hell of a trouble. Alex's reign will be in uncharted territories amid troubled waters, his every move will be watched at and the slightest hint of a shortcoming and the fans will come down heavily on him.



The club is itself is facing a lot of trouble, it has the air and look of a sell-on club, something that was considered as the major factor for O'Neill's resignation last summer. The sales of Barry, Milner and the prospective sale of Ashley Young are testimony to that, Talks of interest from Liverpool in Stewart Downing are gathering pace and unless McLiesh can convince the club player of the season to stay, it could be difficult for the club to hold on to its good players in the future, the players who can take the club forward. Start selling the best players like the past few seasons and flirting with relegation could lead to a full fledged relegation battle next season. If the side is shorn of quality, Villa could start to slip into a mediocre mid table side in the bottom half of the table and start scrapping for safety if proper steps are not taken that will ensure the club heads into the right direction that's why signing of Alex McLeish makes total sense. Randy Lerner is ready to spend big as the Darren Bent signing testifies. How much of a transfer warchest will McLeish be handed to splurge on players will be interesting. Villa boasts of one of the finest youth academies in Britain with brimming talent. Marc Albrighton, Ciaran Clark, Nathan Delfouneso are to name a few youth team graduates that could well form the bedrock of a successful team in the future.

The divide has been crossed by McLeish , we will have to wait and watch how he shapes Villa into an disciplined and resilient side that will have a flair that was so so lacking in his Birmingham side that slipped down the abyss into the championship on the last day of the season.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wenger And His Arsenal Summer


 

What’s with Arsenal, Birmingham and February. Every time these two meet in this month and there have been disastrous repercussions for the Gunners. Flashback to February 2008, Arsenal are breezing for the title with Hleb, Eduardo and Fabregas in prime form, but destiny had different ideas as Eduardo suffered that horrific ankle injury, the Gunners crumbled as they could not get their act back together after that and eventually finished third. Fast forward to February 2010, Fabregas led Arsenal are in flying form on the back of beating Barcelona at home, a chance to finally end that Oh so long trophy drought with the Carling Cup final at Wembley looming on horizon, But guess who their opponents are?......Birmingham City of course. We all remember what happened after that as calamity struck and they got knocked out from three competitions in the space of 15 days, and were so distraught by it all that they crumbled in the title race without mustering a fight.

Wenger has been nurturing some extremely gifted technical footballers in North London; they play beautiful football and are without the shadow of a doubt the most beautiful team to watch in the entire Europe let alone Britain barring a certain team from Spain that plays in Claret and Blue. Every season we make bold predictions that his boys will come to fore, they will finally mature into men and end their trophy drought, only for them to prove us wrong time and time again. Even this age old adage that he has a very young team at his disposal has started to sound hollow now as the team has started to mature but the win at all costs attitude and desire to fight in adversity expected from these players is just not there sometimes, Arsenal just don’t turn up when faced with a pressure cooker situation.

To top it all they have a captain who openly flirts with his love for Barcelona, Just because he was nurtured through the ranks since the age of 17 and he is a fan’s favorite does not give Cesc Fabregas the divine right to keep flaunting with a move to Catalonia. Time and time again every single season the he openly flirts with a move to Barcelona, to the point that it has now become a huge bore. We see every single FC Barcelona player commenting that Fabregas has Barcelona in his blood and that he deserves his homecoming. But what about repaying the debt he has towards Arsenal who made him into the player he is today. I seriously wonder how players look up to him in the dressing room when they clearly know that he intends to leave at the slightest hint of a satisfactory bid from the Spanish giants.

And to compound Wenger’s woes his French schemer monsieur Samir Nasri wants a pay hike that Wenger does intend to give him. And now the lad is ready to run down his contract with a year left, Wenger needs to decide whether he will offer him the wages he is demanding or sell him. It’s purely a wrangle over wages, exactly the reason why Cashley Cole swapped North for West London. It could be a disastrous scenario which every Gooner dreads even to think about, the sight of both their No. 8 and 4 leaving Emirates for so called greener pastures [Just ask Alexander Hleb].

There are some very tough decisions to make indeed; the transfer policy of the manager has been called into question on why he does not spend big on experienced players who could bring a sense of knowhow and calmness around the dressing room. A leader like Tony Adams or a midfield marauder like Patrick Viera who could tear into a rampaging Roy Keane and look eye to eye with a Gary Neville, someone who would grab this team by the scruff of their necks and win them matches. There is a wealth of talent with so many talented youngsters; all they need is a wise old head.

I still feel this team is just two to three signings short of dominating Europe for years to come, but we say this every year and Wenger does not make the signings we hope he makes. There are rumors of Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill but will either of them end up at the Emirates only time will tell. A good striker who could take away some of the goal scoring burden off Van Persie’s shoulders is badly needed [the lad just can’t last the whole season!!!! If he had done so then he would have won the golden boot quite comfortably]

This trophy drought will come to an end so will Andy Murray win a grand slam but we will have to wait to see who breaks their duck first. This is too good a team not to win a trophy for this long a time. Even the current FC Barcelona side who are winning trophies for fun at the moment went without a single trophy for five years from 1999 to 2004 before finally winning the La Liga title that spelled the dawn of a new era, they have never looked back ever since. The moment of reckoning awaits, how soon will it come? We will find out when the clock ticks September 1 in two and a half months time.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bent can be the answer for England - Wait and Watch!!

Irrespective of yesterday's result and performance by England and Bent respectively I stick to what I have written. This post comes just after England's crucial qualifier against Switzerland where England managed to score only a paltry draw, a disappointment for most spectators and fans. But this is also against Paul Parker for saying that Darren Bent is not the answer for England. My question to Mr. Paul, why is Bent not the solution for England's persistent striking woes? Why not encourage a man who has performed his best in mid table teams like Sunderland and Aston Villa?  Why can't England have a great striker who plays not only for the like of ManU, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea but also the other teams?

The world around we observe top teams and England have always been a top team, but off the field while on the field they remind of boys playing at school. With the influx of foreign players in EPL, especially the stronger striking force like Drogba, Tevez, Torres and others there has been a decline in the development of English strikers with the exception of Wayne Rooney who moved to ManU as a teenager and has grown from strength to strength. However on the international stage he has flopped miserably and there hardly are games where you can remember him making a great contribution. Since the downfall of Micheal Owen hardly anyone comes to mind who has made his mark for England, be it Rooney or the lanky Crouch. And in the past few years there have been so many strikers who have played for England that you would hardly remember them. And to add to that list there's Darren Bent. However contrary to popular belief, I would go for this chap, a man who has been begging for a chance with his performances week in week out in the Premier League.

Darren Bent started his club career with Ipswich town scoring 48 goals in 122 Apps, then with Charlton Athletic scoring 31 goals in 68 Apps. He then moved to Tottenham and scored a paltry 18 goals in 60 Apps. I can understand Bent's misery at Spurs, as strikers always don't make a great impact at Spurs taking Pavlyuchenko, Crouch, Defoe, Keane as an example. The move to Sunderland was a great one for him as he scored 32 goals in 58 games and recently a move to Aston Villa didn't stop his goal scoring run as he has already notched up 9 goals in 16 games. Well one would say why quote all this, but if you have a closer look with all the stats combined he averages 0.4 per game over his whole career and in the past 2 years he has been simply superb with over 0.55 goal/game. Now again this is all at club level but if you look at the teams he has played , it is the ones which always finish outside the top four and his recent form indicates that Bent is on fire. And if you still have doubts Bent has been the top English goal scorer in the league for the last two seasons.

Darren Bent did his international debut on 1st March 2006 against Uruguay in a pre world cup friendly. Since then the World has witnessed two world cups without Bent. He should have played for England in South Africa but Capello thought otherwise going with Crouch and Heskey, someone I thought was really past his prime for the biggest tournament on this planet .


Bent's statement after being dropped for the World Cup last year “I knew I hadn’t done enough to get picked but I always hoped, I went on holiday to America, came back, turned the negatives into positives, and tried to do well for club and country this season.”

Paul Parker mentions that England need Bent, which shows the extent the team is struggling to find strikers which is just shameful. Why can't you respect Bent for the kind of player he is , the efforts he puts in training and the amazing show he displays on the field. And I don't need to justify this. The stats prove my point and Steve Bruce at Sunderland will testify for him. Parker doesn't know what he is saying when he also compares Bent with the likes of Balotelli of Italy and Llorente of Spain and Benzema of France and writes that they play regularly for at the international stage and for top clubs. Mr Parker why don't you see that at 23, Bent was performing and was still young but yet never got a chance. Is he to sulk and protest, quit football for not getting a chance to play for the national team. Why don't you see the confidence this man exuberates, the determination with which he has got himself to be as one of Capello's favourites right now, the man who got a struggling Sunderland to the top half of the Premier League table. Why do you have to dismiss him off just because he plays for smaller teams. Is not Bent playing against stronger teams and still able to put the ball in the back of the net. These are little things which make a man invaluable, which Parker doesn't even take into consideration.

By gones are by gones, Darren Bent should be given a chance and persisted as he can help England recover their lost fortunes, At 27, he is not a young lad, but his experience at club level will surely make him a great asset for the national team. Would love to see him play alongside Rooney and capture the world's attention for glory which they last tasted way back in 1966. Mr.Capello or whosoever your successor post Euro2012, can we witness Darren Bent at Brazil2014?

My team for England with Bent