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Monday, July 29, 2002

Sullen Sherwood

Tottenham's midfielder Tim Sherwood has claimed that his club are ‘a million miles away’ from winning the Premiership and has put a fair share of the blame on Hoddle's inability to sign quality players. This followed by losing to QPR 3-2 in a friendly makes it a forgettable week for fans of the club. QPR were impressive and by all accounts played the (understrength) Premiership club off the park. Neither Gus Poyet, Darren Anderton, Christian Ziege or Teddy Sheringham played a part in the defeat, however Steven Carr completed 90 minutes for the first time in god knows how long; though how many more he'll complete in a Spurs shirt is a matter for debate.

On the other side of North London, Arsenal have officially completed the £4.5m signing of Brazil's central midfielder Gilberto Silva. I — along with Arsène Wenger — have to admit to knowing very little about Silva before the World Cup, but he seemed a player to quietly impress and not dazzle. Playing every second of Brazil's tournament he is clearly rated highly in his home country and in common with many of Brazils exports, his old club (Atletico Minero) seem to be proud of his progress.

It will surely take him a considerable time to adapt to the Premiership (Wenger claims South Americans require around 6 months) so I would expect Edu to start the season partnering Vieira, with Silva making his contribution after Christmas (if he proves good enough). Wenger now seems to have gone a long way to solving the Champions' major problems in defence and midfield without spending a fortune, the board must be pleased.

Anyone who caught the Rangers vs. AC Milan friendly earlier today was likely (perhaps surprisingly) to have enjoyed a competitive 90 minutes of football. I was hoping to catch Milan's new signing Rivaldo in action, though with talent like Pirlo, Maldini, Gattuso and Borriello on offer I can't say I missed him too much. Cyril Domoraud impressed at the back for the Italians, as did Ibrahim Ba — whatever happened to him?

With spells of mixed success at Marseille and Perugia on loan, Ibrahim Ba's 5 years at Milan have been troubled ones. I remember him signing for the then giants of Italian football in 1997, hailed as the most promising French talent of his generation, an exciting winger equally at home running at players as slipping through the killer pass. I suspect that the style of Italian football has not been kind to his talents and if someone was willing to give him a chance he could be a quality bargain buy; as he really doesn't seem to be wanted at Milan.

Sticking with Scottish football Magnus Hedman will soon complete his move to Celtic for a fee ‘considerably more than’ Espanyol's offer for Sweden's number one. Watching the SPL Champions in friendly action the other night against Ajax, I can't fathom their recent domination. The team seems packed to the rafters with players not quite good enough for Premiership football or players who may have cut the grade once but have seriously let themselves slip. John Hartson, Chris Sutton, Alan Thompson, Steve Guppy…

If there's one thing about football North of the border that really gets up my nose, it's how the smaller clubs are marginalized even more so than in England. If a club other than R or C unearths a star or resurrects the career of a veteran, one of the ‘big two’ buy him for a laughable fee and either leave him to rot in the reserves or (more rarely) end up making an even bigger star of him. It's not so much the fact that the smaller club loses an important player, it's that the fee paid is an insult to the idea of sharing the wealth.


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Friday, July 26, 2002

Fabulous Fabian?

After a quiet Summer it looks like it's going to be a busy couple of days for the Premiership Champions. Uruguayan international keeper Fabian Carini has been signed by Arsène Wenger on a years loan from Juventus; and World Cup winner Gilberto Silva has confirmed that he will (probably) be moving to Arsenal. Both players impressed at the World Cup and Wenger has described Carini as a player with ‘outstanding natural ability and a great temprament’.

Gilberto Silva is looking forward to his £4.5m move;

“Vieira is a tremendous player and maybe I could even play alongside him. It would be fantastic to play against the likes of David Beckham again.”

I suspect that both players will turn out to be good buys, though I'm not really sticking my neck out suggesting that Wenger may have signed a successful player for a bargain fee.

Blackburn have finally got their way with Man Utd over Dwight Yorke. Knowing that United have to cut their wage bill, Graeme Sourness kept his cool and has signed the thirty-year old for a cut price £2m. Bearing in mind that less than a fortnight ago Sir Alex said that it was £6m or nothing, he's done well.

That is if Yorke can produce something like the form of a couple of years ago and not turn up as the lazy, distracted player he's been more recently. For someone who's supposed to be a strict disciplinarian, someone who'll sort out any wayward player, Fergie hasn't done the best job with Yorke, or recent departure Danny Webber.

Lee Bowyer is covering his bases now that Liverpool have decided he's more trouble than he's worth. He now says that he might want to stay and play for Leeds — though he's yet to sign a new contract. Some say that he's holding out for a move back to London, Arsenal in particular. I have to say that I doubt that'll happen though, bearing in mind Arsène Wengers dedication to only signing players with the right attitude.


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Thursday, July 25, 2002

Who Shot Brian Tindle?

If you've not heard about it yet (and you must have been buried somewhere to have missed it), the saga of Brian and Bimbo83 can be read here. Be warned, it will take you a good hour to get through half of what must be the longest message board thread ever (anyone from the Guinness Book of Records reading?).

In short (allegedly), Brian has given his (ex) girlfriend ‘Bimbo83’ Hepatitis E, possibly through some extra curricular carnal knowledge with a Greek aquaintance on holiday. Bimbo is unimpressed and a highly improbable number of people are now aware of her situation, particular highlights of this phenomenon include;

And many more. Of course some opportunists have set up a store where you can buy your Brian Tindle merchandise.


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Monday, July 22, 2002

Record Rio

For the second time in his career, Rio Ferdinand has become the world's most expensive defender. Does everyone remember their reaction to his £18m transfer from West Ham to Leeds? Granted, since then he's played fantastically in a World Cup and had two pretty decent seasons in the Premiership, but £30m is still a hell of a lot of money to pay for a defender. Especially with the transfer system in the state it's in.

Maybe that's the way things are going. Defenders are in short supply worldwide, and you have to pay according to demand. Man Utd can certainly afford it, with annual profits of around £40m, and Rio is no doubt a quality player. From those points of view you have to say that as a United fan, you've got to be happy.

The only thing I'd be a little disappointed by if I were a United fan would be that the club had no young players coming through to take up the central defensive mantle. It's been three or four years since Wes Brown broke through — and he'll have to make some serious improvements before he can be considered a success. With Ronny Jonsen moving on, United had only the unproven John O'Shea and *giggle* Laurent Blanc covering the berth with Wes Brown. Rio is definately a good buy, but I wouldn't want to be in his shoes when he returns to Elland Road this season, he'll be torn to shreads.

Replacing Rio at Leeds will be, if you believe the popular press, Lazio (and ex-Man Utd) defender Jaap Stam. El Tel is determined to bring his number one target to Leeds even though the player has said on more than one occasion that he'll never return to English football. Meanwhile, toerag Lee Bowyer's transfer to Liverpool has broken down due to his extortianate wage demands and Jonathan Woodgate has been told that the empty space where Rio used to be is his to fill.

Premiership Champions Arsenal appear to have given up on PSV's highly rated midfielder Marc Van Bommell, unwilling to pay the £14.5m asking price and have moved instead to Brazillian World Cup winner, Gilberto Silva. The midfielder impressed in the World Cup (along with most of Brazils team to be fair) and will cost the Gunners around £6.5m, a fee agreed with his club Atletico Mineiro.

Oh to live in the world if Dennis Wise. The dirty little workhorse faces a civil law suit from Leicester and Scotland's Callum Davidson, who he chinned on a pre season trip to Iceland. Wise is likely to have his contract (around £35,000 a week) terminated and deserves no less than gets. A lawsuit sounds a little over the top, but Davidson will miss out on appearance fees and has suffered a fractured cheekbone.

And finally, Romario to Pompey? Would it be sacrilege to put one of the Worlds greatest ever forwards in the first division?


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Wednesday, July 17, 2002

All Is Well

Not is you're a Leeds fan I suspect. Seriously, apologies to all those that tried to view all things footie today and failed. Server problems meant that the whole site was deleted and I've had to move the blogged pages (i.e. this one) to another server. It's all fixed anyway (for now).

It looks like the Rio Ferdinand saga will run a little longer, according to his agent he wants to move but is not unhappy at Leeds. Covering bases? I find the whole thing fascinating; as this is the first real test of the new transfer regulations in the UK. Under the new system — becuase Rio is under 28 — he must serve a minimum of 3 years at Leeds before he can demand to leave. The consequence of this agreement being broken is a combination of player suspension, fines and points docking from the club he moves to.

The ironic thing is that clubs saw these new regulations as a major threat. It would certainly be rather odd if they ended up forcing a players hand and effectively saving a clubs blushes. I don't need to say that if I was a Leeds fan, seeing my team's best player move to a major rival (both sporting and historical) would be unthinkable. I've heard it compared to Sol Campbell's move across London — the difference is that Leeds have a choice. I'd be thanking my lucky stars that UEFA finally got their act together.

I'm going to stick my neck out and predict that Rio will not move to Manchester United. I could well look a fool by the weekend.


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Monday, July 15, 2002

Rio-l Estate

On loan England star Rio Ferdinand will make up his mind soon about his future at Elland Road. Reported £35m bids from Manchester United have tempted Leeds to stop leasing the player from Barclays and transfer the debt to Man Utd.

Confused?

Well that (or something similar) is what is really happening I'm afraid. Leeds (along with Leicester, Everton, Bolton and possibly more clubs) are in such dire financial straits that they have all funded at least one signing (in Leeds' case a reported minimum of four) by taking out a ‘player morgage’ from Barclays. Put simply, Barclays put up the cash for a player and the club pay off the loan in installments whilst paying a fee to lease the player.

The system works very much like a home morgage, if the house (player) increases in value and is subsequently sold, the leaser (club) not the bank benefits from the increase in value. If the player decreases in value and anything undesirable happens interest rate/inflation wise however; you have a recipe for a finacially troubled club.

On top of the players wages and a compulsory insurance payment (to cover club bankrupcy) the outgoings of a club leasing players this way must be astronomical. However I try to look at it, it can't be a good thing. The only real advantage is that, as the club don't actually own the player, certain FA rules regarding transfer timescales (e.g. you have to pay an English club in full within 12 months) can be circumvented and a transfer can be payed off over a number of years.

Moving House

I suspect Arsène Wengers capture of Pascal Cygan will turn out to be a shrewd one. I can't say I've actually seen the 2000 French First Division Player of the Year play a great deal, but when I have done he's been magnificent. A game against Manchester United a year or two ago sticks in the memory.

Lens player and Senegal defender Ferdinand Coly has expressed his desire to play in the Premiership. The player has been linked strongly with a move to Arsenal and I wouldn't be surprised to see this particular move happen.

Arsenal's North London neighbours and feeder club Tottenham Hotspur are close to striking a deal with the Premiership Champions for Irish right back Steven Carr. Talk of £12m or more seems a little too much for someone who's not played for the best part of a year though, and I doubt if Arsenal will offer any more than £8m. England U20 midfielder Rohan Ricketts has moved in the other direction but Sergei Rebrov will almost certainly be leaving Glenn Hoddles barmy army, possibly to his old club Dynamo Kiev.

Premiership runners up Liverpool seem to be close to signing Lee Bowyer from Leeds for around £9m. The fee has been agreed and it's only personal terms separating the mental, violent, racist idiot from his new club.

In brief...

Juninho's move to Middlesbrough is back on, with the English club offering improved terms.

Junichi Inamoto has joined Fulham on a one year loan from Gamba Osaka, with a view to a permanent move. now where have I heard that before...

Brighton have named their new manager Martin Hinselwood your time is now.

Coventry and Sweden 'keeper Magnus Hedman looks to be joining Celtic.

Harry Redknapp is talking to David Ginola about a move to Portsmouth.

Everton are close to snapping up talented young midfielder Jason Koumas from Tramere for around £2m.

The slightly less glamorous transfer of Boca Junior's Juan Roman Riquelme to Barcelona has been completed.

Can someone let me know what's so great about Oxford's ground? Real Madrid and Juventus have visited the Kassam Stadium to observe the ‘revolutionary’ pitch.

Finally, apologies for the quietness over the last week. I've been busy going to Graduation ceremony's, hiring tuxedos, going to Balls and helping my girlfriend move out of her house. Normal service is now resumed.


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Monday, July 08, 2002

Less El Telly

The appointment of Terry Venables as Leeds' new manager means that the ex-England manager will have to cut down on his lucrative TV appearances. We're all gutted, but I'm sure his two year contract will compensate him adequately and I'd imagine he's happy to be back in management after a year twiddling his thumbs. We can only guess that he was Peter Ridsdale's second choice after Martin O'Neil — the papers certainly missed out on that one. I think he's probably a good man for the job, and may help sort out Leeds' intrinsic problems with discipline and inconsistency. His army of ‘contacts’ may also help shift some of the players that have been bogging down the 2001 Champions League semi finalists.

England's number one and Arsenal 'keeper David Seaman has announced he has no plans to quit the game. The 38 year old has not taken Ronaldinho's free kick to heart (as well he shouldn't) and will be competing for the number one spot at Arsenal next season along with Richard Wright and youngster Stuart Taylor.

Talking of Arsenal, they seem to have hit a bit of a stumbling block in their bid to sign PSV Eindhoven's Marc Van Bommel. Offering a cash plus Kanu deal, the lanky amusement arcade was dismissed by PSV Chairman Harry Van Raaij in the rather harsh statement ‘what do I want with Kanu?’ A bit harsh as far as I'm concerned — I'm still convinced he'll go to Fulham or Chelsea.

If you're a 'boro fan you've got to be happy. I suspect the re-signing of Juninho may not turn out to be spectacular, but he hardly cost the earth and will certainly have a positive effect on the team. Steve McLaren's other coup however, could turn out to be the signing of the summer. The last time I saw Massimo Maccarone he scored one of the best goals I've seen all year against a strong England Under 21 side then won a penalty a day later against the seniors. £8.1m does sound like a lot of money for one so young and without big club experience (the selling club was Serie A mid tablers Empoli). I predict a star.

Everton and Middlesbrough target Michael Boulding has signed on a free transfer (from Grimbsy) for Aston Villa. The 26 year old has signed a (short bearing in mind he was on a Bosman) one year contract and I assume he's been brought in to try and give Villa some desperately needed width and creativity in midfield. Meanwhile wantaway midfielder George Boateng has been told he can leave and Darius Vassell has expressed his disappointment at being dropped for England in the latter stages of the World Cup campaign. I'd have thought he was delighted — anything passes for news in the weeks waiting for the season to start.

Sunderland have finally signed Tranmere's Sean Thornton. Seeing as the player spent most of last season traning with the Makems (despite being a tranmere player) it's not really a surprise, the two clubs still need to agree compensation under the new transfer regulations.

International manager news; Gus Hiddink will be going back to PSV. National treasure Zbigniew Boniek has been appointed as Poland manager after the teams dissapointing World Cup. Senegal's Bruno Mestu is going down in the World, taking over at UAE's Al-Ain (I'm guessing he's going to become a very rich man). Argentina's coach Mario Biesla will not be offered a new contract by the National FA (shame). French coach Roger Lemerre has left the job, leaving a battle between a reported ‘three or four’ likely candidates.

The competition is clearly tough in the Oceania Nations Cup. Australia beat Caledonia 11-0 in the quarter finals with four goals from the unpronounceably named Bobby Despotovski. International giants Vanatu beat Fiji 1-0 in the other game.


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Tuesday, July 02, 2002

It's Over Already?

It's only been two days since the final and already it's like it never happened. No World Cup section on teletext or anything.

Firstly, much as it pains me to say it, you have to give the Germans credit for making the final a contest. Playing probably the best football the national team has produced since 1996 they really had a go at Brazil — and for a moment I thought something horrible was going to happen.

I do happen to think that Oliver Kahn is very overrated. He makes simple saves look spectacular and he surpasses David James' inability to catch a cross. His shot stopping is up there with the best but his all round game (plus a crucial mistake in the final) makes it impossible for me to agree with his award of the FIFA Golden Boot.

For me, without a doubt, the player of the tournament is the best all round centre foward on the planet, Ronaldo Luiz Nazário de Lima. Even in games when he clearly looked unfit he was able to turn the match with a moment of brilliance or a cheeky slight of foot — God help whoever plays against him when he reaches full fitness. His two attacking partners were also impressive, Ronaldinho was a revelation playing that creative role that all Brazillians seem born to play. I find it sad that the third member of the trinity ruined what could have been his tounament. Rivaldo — however brilliant — cannot be forgiven for his clear disrespect for the game.

Brazil were not the only team to stand out in a footballing sense. Turkey and Senegal were marvellous to watch, and the best teams in the competition along with the South Americans. Of course there is South Korea; but though they triumphed against some overwhelmingly improbable odds and knocked out two of the favourites for the competition, I wasn't as impressed with their football. That said, talk of match fixing is an insult to the incredible team spirit and hard work that took the Koreans so far in their World Cup. History will record the efforts of the giant killers favourably.

I've heard it said that this World Cup was dissapointing because it didn't unearth any new starlets. To them I say, would you have considered signing; Salif Diao, Khalilou Fadiga, Umit Davala, Ozlan Alpay, Ferdinand Coly, Aliou Cisse and Rüstü, before the tournament? The truth is that this World Cup unearthed too many new stars, making it difficult to pick out the one or two that stand out. This is not even considering that before the tournament Ronaldinho was considered a promising youngster who was nearly left out of the Brazil squad for Romario.

Which neatly brings me to the;

All Things Footie World Cup Awards

Player of the Tournament : Ronaldo (Brazil)
Goal of the Tournament : Dario Rodriguez (Uruguay vs Denmark)
Save of the Tournament : David Seaman (England vs Argentina — last minute from Sorin)
Team of the Tournament :
Rüstü
Turkey
  Edmilson
Brazil
Sol Campbell
England
Rio Ferdinand
England
 
Umit Davala
Turkey
Yildiray Basturk
Turkey
Khalilou Fadiga
Senegal
Seol Ki Hyun
South Korea
Ronaldinho
Brazil
  Ronaldo
Brazil
Christian Vieri
Italy
 

SUBS :

Ozlan Alpay (Turkey)
Salif Diao (Senegal)
Michael Ballack (Germany)
Hasan Sas (Turkey)
David Seaman (England)

Yes, I know Vieri missed a sitter. But that didn't stop him being their only attacking player, and in my opnion he just looked lethal for the Azzuri. If you are the only player on a team who threatens the goal and you only make a hash of one chance, I don't consider that a crime.

There's also the fact that FIFA player of the tournament Oliver Kahn is absent, I've already explained my feelings for him. David Seaman just edged it on to the bench over Kahn for the match saving, last minute stop from Sorin against Argentina (save of the tournament) and I really don't think Ronaldinho's goal was his fault.

I found picking Goal of the Tournament the most difficult task of the awards. Borgetti's headed goal was technically superb; to place a glancing header across the goalkeeper with your back to goal is almost impossible and you have to acknowledge the quality. I thought Diego Forlan's two touch finish was excellent too, and Salif Diao's goal for Senegal was one of the best team goal's I've ever seen. Breaking from defence to attack with such speed and efficiency is the sign of a truly great team. In the end though, I found it difficult to look past the sheer audacity and technique of Dario Rodriguez's volleyed finish for Uruguay. Definately a good tournament for the quality goal.

Now It's Over

I suppose domestic football should get a mention.

Ipswich's promising young defender Titus Bramble looks to be going to Newcastle in a deal undisclosed but probably worth about £6m. The move is however on a freeze, until Bramble recovers from a heel injury — probably for a couple of weeks.

Sunderland have agreed a fee with Leeds for Ireland's World Cup star Robbie Keane. Personal terms are being discussed. In free agent news; Como are interested in Benito Carbone and David Ginola has received an offer from the flair player's retirement village; otherwise known as Portsmouth.

Talking of contracts, Football Writers Player of the Year and Arsenal winger Robert Pires has expressed his desire to stay at the Premiership Champions. Talks are ongoing. Meanwhile runners up Liverpool have offered Vladamir Smicer a new three year contract to keep him at Anfield until 2006. His present deal has a year to run.

Sticking with Liverpool, they have also made a £7m offer for Leeds' Lee Bowyer. Leeds want £15m but are considering a lower offer rather than let him go for a free next summer. Paul Ince has left Middlesbrough for personal reasons, but the club are looking to replace him with Owen Hargreaves — an £8m offer has been made, unlikely move is you ask me.


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