Football Headlines Round-up: 9/30/11

September 30th, 2011

Looking to catch up on the latest headlines from the beautiful game? Look no further!

Tevez Saga Continues…

The Carlos Tevez vs. Manchester City saga continues unabated today, as now-Championship side West Ham United has made a bid to take Tevez back to Upton Park on loan. Manchester City has rejected the offer. Read more.

Speaking of West Ham…

It wasn’t all unsuccessful for the Irons, however. They managed to bag Manuel Almunia on loan from Arsenal since he has fallen out of favor at the north London club. More here.

Donuts No Laughing Matter…

Manchester United’s David de Gea recently ate a Krispy Kreme donut in a local shop, then attempted to leave without paying for it. He was tackled by security and has received a warning. Hey, cut the lad a break, he’s only making £70,000-a-week but apparently decided that he a week – and Krispy Kreme weigh in at a whopping £1.19 a piece! More here.

Doubts About Gerrard…

Fabio Capello is unsure about Steven Gerrard’s fitness level ahead of England’s match against Montenegro. The match is considered a crucial qualifier in England’s Euro 2012 campaign. Read more.

Football Headlines Round-up: 9/28/11

September 28th, 2011

Carlos Tevez Rebels…
Carlos Tevez made quite a splash by refusing to play for Mancini’s Manchester City squad last night. Today, the world reacts. And more importantly, Carlos Mancini reacts – by declaring Tevez’s Manchester City career is over. Listen here.

And if you’re not up on the story, blogger Phil McNulty does an excellent job of catching you up in this post.

No Blame for Wenger…
Although it’s a big blow to Arsenal, Arsene Wenger is refusing to point the finger of blame in the case of Jack Wilshere’s injury, which may keep him out for most of the season. The 19 year old underwent ankle surgery yesterday and is expected to be out of play until at least February. Catch up on the news here.

Breno up in Flames…
Bayern Munich are hopeful that police will soon release their defender Breno, who’s been in custody for the last few days on suspicion of burning down his own house last week. Bayern’s chairman argues that detaining Breno was an “exaggerated measure” and he should be released to continue with his life while the investigation continues. Read more here.

Pearce Won’t Take the Helm…
Stuart Pearce has put to rest rumors that he will succeed Fabio Capello as England’s manager when the Italian steps down. Although he has spent 4 years in charge of England’s U-21s, he feels he lacks the experience necessary to helm the senior team. Read his remarks here.

Interesting Video – Premiership Footballer Wages

September 7th, 2011

Find a Property released an interested info graphic about wages of Premiership footballers here is is bellow.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section :)
[youtube_video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZD2IHOOF7I[/youtube_video]

As I See It: The EPL

August 14th, 2011

As the 20th English Premier League season kicks off, the excitement is already at a boiling point. Every fan believes this could be his club’s year, but in reality only three teams have a legitimate shot at the title, in my opinion. Another three clubs have a shot at the final Champions League position, and everyone else is fighting for mid table mediocrity, or relegation. While everyone loves predicting the new boys to always go back down, over the past decade only 13 of the 30 promoted sides returned to the second division the next season, contrary to popular opinion or memory.

Here is how the season will stack up, as I see it.

#20: QUEENS PARK RANGERS: (Last season’s finish: 1st in the Championship) With very little in the way of additional support for their return to the top flight, the “richest club in the world” seems to be going at this season on the cheap. The manager, the always annoying even when entertaining Neil Warnock, seems to be at odds with his owners, and this could get ugly quick. Look for QPR to be relegated by February.

#19: WIGAN: (Last season’s finish: 16th) Roberto Martinez is easily one of the most likable managers in the EPL. He wants his teams to play the right way, and has a fantastic relationship with his owner. That’s where the good feelings for this Wigan team end. With very little in the way of additions coming in, while losing midfield wonders Tom Cleverly and Charles N’Zogbia, this is not a team improved from last season’s finish near relegation. Though I would love them to stay up, I feel relegation will be a late season heartbreak. On the bright side, I expect Martinez to remain with the club even if they fall into the Championship.

#18: SWANSEA: (Last season’s finish: 3rd in the Championship) The Welsh wonders are coming into the EPL, and looking to play football. A team built around pace on the flanks and tippy tappy passing in the midfield, they just may be a little too out-manned in the top flight. Swansea could very well be this season’s Blackpool, surprising us with results early, before falling apart when it matters most. Look for Swansea to just miss sticking around for another season.

#17: NORWICH CITY: (Last season’s finish: 2nd in the Championship) Yet another side that doesn’t seem keen on spending their way to a second season in the top flight, Norwich could very well be a club to watch this season, possibly built for this level more than their former Championship counterparts. The schedule may be difficult for the new boys, and the months of December and April will tell the tale of their season. If home form is consistent, Norwich just may stick around another season.

#16: BLACKBURN: (Last season’s finish: 15th) Steve Kean and the owners Venkes are in charge for their first full season (if either last the season) and things at Blackburn seem to still be rather unstable. The owners, while trumpeting attacking football and impact players like Ronaldinho or David Beckham (neither arrived or even considered it, from what we know), the financial backing appears to be dramatically lacking, even if players could be convinced to join the club. While Steve Kean seems to be top man on most people’s “first to get the sack” list, Blackburn currently has just enough talent to stay up, above the dregs of the EPL. Could they go down? Yes. Would Big Sam and I be happy if they did? Of course. But alas, I think they will scrounge up just enough points to remain. Should players like Christopher Samba leave, then all bets are off.

#15: NEWCASTLE: (Last season’s finish: 12th) Another candidate for the sack, also in his first full season, Alan Pardew has become the manager of little France. (Or PSG without the money, as I like to call them.) This summer’s transfer policy has seemed to be “buy if it’s French, sell if it’s aging and English”, as captain Kevin Nolan has left the club, Joey Barton appears to be for the off on a free, and only portions of the Andy Carroll money has been spent. Will the new players gel? Is Pardew the man to lead them? Newcastle could be in for a dramatic season. Neither relegation nor mid-table mediocrity would be beyond them.

#14: WOLVES: (Last season’s finish: 17th) Just avoiding relegation last season, Wolves may be in for a decent time this go round. Holding onto players like Matt Jarvis was the start, and the additions of O’Hara, de Vries, and Johnson have solidified a team that played well against the big clubs, but struggled against their fellow minnows. I look for Mick McCarthy to turn it around this season, and suspect Wolves may be a surprise package, sitting comfortably as next season’s relegation battle really heats up.

#13: FULHAM: (Last season’s finish: 8th) Mark Hughes is out, and the man the club originally wanted – Martin Jol – is in as manager. An aging squad yet to be truly freshened, Fulham have already been busy in Europa League qualifying. While they have more than enough quality to ever fear relegation, this could be a difficult season for the club. American fans are always interested in Fulham due to American Clint Dempsey being part of the squad, but my gut tells me this will be a year of struggle for Fulham, and Dempsey may not be there next season.

#12: WEST BROM: (Last season’s finish: 11th) A club many thought was heading for relegation under Roberto Di Mateo was resurrected under Roy Hodgson last season. A solid club, bolstered by the additions of Ben Foster and the return of Zoltan Gera, look for WBA to hold steady in the mid table, possibly even flirting with Europe for a time. In the end, I see WBA holding steady.

#11: BOLTON: (Last season’s finish: 14th) While it would be easy to predict a big season for Owen Coyle’s men, injury could be what keeps them from breaking into the top half of the table. With key contributor, American Stuart Holden, still missing due to his late season leg break, Bolton was also rocked by the long-term injuries to Mears and Lee. The creative spark plug may be missing for a while for Bolton, and bettering their previous finish should be seen as a good season.

#10: STOKE: (Last season’s finish: 13th) Each season Stoke gets a little bit more comfortable in the EPL. Each season they deploy long throws and tough tackles, but also try to play a little bit more football than the previous season. With another season under their belt and possible additions still to be made to the team, I believe Stoke have become a solid team. Always difficult to beat, they may flirt with Europe, but just miss out this season, becoming the team that is the divider between the best, and the rest.

#9: SUNDERLAND: (Last season’s finish: 10th) Things have been changing in the Northeast. Steve Bruce has brought in many fresh faces, looking to change the spirit and mentality in the dressing room, an attempt to change the usual mid-season malaise that always seems to strike Bruce’s men. Key additions this off season look to steady the ship in Brown, O’Shea, Gardner, and Larsson, and possibly even propel it forward in Vaughn and Wickham. With another season of spending to please Bruce, he may be on the hot seat. If he doesn’t start competing, he very well could be out of a job. I believe the mentality has changed just enough for this to be a positive top half finish for Sunderland.

#8: EVERTON: (Last season’s finish: 7th) Everton still have a very talented manager in David Moyes. They also have a solid veteran playing staff. The only real problem with Everton is the one that always exists… they are broke. Bill Kenwright loves the club and wants them to succeed, but he doesn’t have the cash to make it happen. Between the players (including American Tim Howard) and manager, Everton should be expected to put up a good fight, but still don’t have the fresh injection of talent they need to seriously compete for the top 4.

#7: ASTON VILLA: (Last season’s finish: 9th) With new manager Alex McLeish coming in to take the helm after last season’s relegation with hated cross town rivals Birmingham, Aston Villa need to hit the ground running, or the crowds bad will for the new gaffer could force the hand of owner Randy Lerner well before he ever could have imagined. Losing Friedel, Downing, and Young, Villa bolstered their deficiencies by bringing in Shay Given and Charles N’Zogbia. With basically a similar team to last season, N’Zogbia and Bent will be looked to for goals to send the team into European places. I expect Given to be a very busy boy between the sticks, and I could see Villa finishing anywhere from 6th to 14th. My hopes for the American owner made me go for the positive outcome.

#6: TOTTENHAM: (Last season’s finish: 5th) This off-season Spurs have looked very stagnant. No big players coming in, and so far no big players going out, unless Chelsea can persuade them to sell Modric before the transfer window ends. I have always been suspect of the skills of Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, and feel this season will be a massive test for him. While those around them have spent this summer, Spurs look to hold on and improve while doing nothing. If Tottenham are even in the Champions League conversation come March, let alone April, I will be stunned. Everton, Villa, Sunderland, and Stoke all could even knock them out of Europa league places.

#5: ARSENAL: (Last season’s finish: 4th) With Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri looking for the Arsenal exit, yet another season without a trophy is all but a certainty for Arsene Wenger’s men. With a central defender possibly on the way if Cesc and/or Nasri leave, are Arsenal built to win the title, or just flatter to deceive and fall apart in the same old ways yet again? To me, Wenger sees the game a certain way, and his stubborn attitude has taken a man that used to be a cutting edge great manager, and turned him into just another quality manager who doesn’t have enough mental strength left in him to will his team to trophies. I expect Arsenal to fight hard on all fronts, and win nothing yet again.

#4: LIVERPOOL: (Last season’s finish: 6th) As much as it pains me to say it, the one team which can jump back into the top 4 while knocking Arsenal out is Liverpool. While Kenny Dalglish has overpaid for his midfield additions while failing to add a quality center back, he also has transformed the mentality at Liverpool. With a plethora of midfield players and the up front tandem of Carroll and Suarez ready for their first full season of battle, Liverpool should provide attacking flair and excitement this season. At times they may flirt with the title, or even with mid table, but in the end I believe they have just enough to make it back to the Champions League thanks to the fact that they have no European football to distract or tire them this season. Owner John Henry expects it, and if “King Kenny” wants to keep his job, he better deliver.

#3: MANCHESTER CITY: (Last season’s finish: 3rd) With the addition of Argentinian wunderkind Sergio Aguero, Man City may be the most talented group of players in the EPL, if not the world. The problem, too many attitudes, too many unhappy players looking for more playing time to match their massive pay packets, and the added distraction of Champions League football. If City should add Samir Nasri before the transfer window closes, I would bump their final position up to #2, and I believe they will be in the title hunt down to the wire, but in the end I don’t trust their players’ mentality or their manager’s tactical strength enough for them to win the title this season.

#2: CHELSEA: (Last season’s finish: 2nd) This season Chelsea has added touches of youth, in their players and manager, but will it be enough to win a title they failed to reach last season? I for one don’t think so. The veteran leadership and talent of the squad tell me they will be in the fight until the bitter end, and the new manager bounce Chelsea always seems to get (Mourinho, Ancelotti) on the road to the title could be in effect, but in the end I believe the talent is just a step too slow, and a year too old. Chelsea should have enough to hold off Man City, but not enough to take the league.

#1: MANCHESTER UNITED: (Last season’s finish: 1st) While I believe it is bad luck to pick my club to take the title (I normally pick Chelsea), this season I can’t see how United doesn’t fend off all challengers yet again. The departures of Edwin van der Sar, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, and Paul Scholes will be difficult to deal with, but the additions of David De Gea, Ashley Young, and Phil Jones, as well as the returns of Tom Cleverly and Danny Welbeck should make up for it. With a plethora of options in every department, United’s weak point will be the goal keeping position, where the very young De Gea and the veteran Lindegaard will battle to hold down the big gloves left by van der Sar. With plenty of fresh legs to supplement the veterans’ aspirations, most pundits can’t seem to pick anyone but United. I for one expect a close battle down to the final few fixtures, where United should lift their 20th title at the end of the 20th EPL season.

While we know who the top 6 will be without much effort or debate, the battles for mid table and relegation places will be amazing to watch this season. Look for my predictions to look foolish 1 month in, genius 6 months in, and foolish again in May. I hope you enjoy the season, and you enjoyed my season predictions. This is how the season will unfold, as I see it.

Until next time, enjoy the glorious football.

Billionaires’ Folly

June 29th, 2011

As the world’s economy continues to plummet, billionaires continue to play. It used to be that “Big Teams” would be targets for billionaires that felt like playing. Nowadays it seems that they are more interested in making no names into “world class” clubs, than just buying the best.

It all seemed to start with Abramovich and his purchase of Chelsea. He has gone out and pumped money that he will never see again into Chelsea. That money has brought titles and worldwide notoriety and respectability. It also has triggered others wanting to get into the act.

The Manchester City new ownership, Abu Dahbi United group, would be the latest that has made it clear of its intention of world dominance. City is a storied club, but definitely Manchester’s ugly step sister to Man United. I clearly thought that the owners would be shocked that the club they purchased wore powder blue instead of red, once they got to Manchester. Whether a monumental mistake was made or not, they have spared no expense in getting players. Based on all the turmoil you would think that the whole project has been an abject failure. Nothing could be further from the truth, after City won the FA Cup and matched Chelsea’s 71 points in league play. City finished 3rd solely due to goal differential.  This offseason, to date, has been a quiet one for City, but with Dzeko, Yaya, Silva, Balotelli, and Tevez – yes Tevez – being available for the full season, greater success can be had.

If anything City’s success has allowed billionaires to become brazen. The Blackburn Rovers, one of EPL’s smaller clubs, has been purchased by Venky’s Limited, an Indian conglomerate. They too have mentioned bringing Blackburn to the forefront. Whether they will provide the finances to do so remains to be seen, but shake-ups have been the norm since the purchase. A better example of this tomfoolery is the purchase of Malaga FC, from La Liga, by Sheik Bin Khalid Al-Thani. Qatar’s Minister of the Interior, terrorist connections notwithstanding, is trying to build a powerhouse in Malaga. You can say that this season’s transfers have been impressive for a club that finished 11th in La Liga. One can only imagine that he likes to vacation in Malaga, to justify the purchase.

I haven’t even mentioned Queens Park Rangers, who have just been promoted to the Premiership in England. Their trios of owners – one of them, Lakshmi Mittal, being the 5th wealthiest man in the world – are the richest in English football.

Storied clubs with much bigger followings, the likes of Liverpool, Roma and Atletico Madrid, are being passed over for minnows. One has to ask what will happen when the shine comes off the new toy. Abramovich has been busy with many other projects, like the upcoming Olympics and World Cup in Russia. But he has seemed to regain his passion for Chelsea, and an influx of money has been provided. Will the other billionaires have the same fortitude or drop and run when success doesn’t fall onto their laps? What I do know for sure is that although the world’s economy keeps dropping, there will be more than a few footballers cashing in on this folly.

A Wanted Man?

June 28th, 2011

The Cesc Fabregas saga continues to unfold at the Emirates. The former Barcelona youth player has made it clear that he would love to return to Barca. Barcelona has also made it clear that they would love to have him back. It seems as if only Arsenal and Wenger stand in the way of such a reunion. I do have a few questions, though.

Where exactly will Cesc play in Barcelona’s lineup? The only place that seems appropriate at this time would be the bench. And that’s a lot of money to be spending on a bench player. Xavi is 31 years old and Iniesta is 27 years old, so let’s not kid ourselves about Cesc’s importance to Barca’s squad. Granted having him available would help Barca battle on all fronts, but he would be on the bench.

I know that Barca has wasted plenty of money, the Ibra for Eto’o deal comes to mind, but Barca’s president Rosell has been trumpeting fiscal responsibility. Granted that comes in the wake of a huge offer for Sanchez and additional offer for Cesc.

The fact remains that the only team that truly needs Cesc is Arsenal.  By all accounts, the other fact is that Cesc wants out, and just might be able to force his way out. The longer this saga goes on, the worst things get for Arsenal and Wenger. Arsenal has promised and acknowledged the need for new faces in the squad. Leadership is still lacking from the club, as is a goalkeeper and strong defensive presence. Wenger has been quick to send out players that tried to lead or caused waves, and now he finds himself having his captain wanting out. The last thing Arsenal needs is having a leader that is hoping to be playing elsewhere.

It looks as if Arsenal will be going through another offseason of plenty of talk and no activity. What is certain is that last season’s squad will carry a heavy burden into the season. Whether Cesc remains or leaves, Arsenal could find itself sitting outside the Top 4 at the end of season. And what we do know for sure if that happens is that the finances won’t be there for a quick turnaround. Then again, neither may Cesc or Wenger, and I’m not so sure the fans will mind.