Blog Archives

Tottenham season preview: Bale or no Bale, they still have AVB, Vertonghen and Soldado

Analysing the Transfer Gossip 4th August: Schweinsteiger, Rooney, Suarez and more

Should Tottenham take Angel Di Maria, Fabio Coentrao and cash for Gareth Bale?

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 5th July Part One: Hulk, Damiao, Saviola and more

David Villa, Damiao, Benteke, Soldado or Negredo – Who should be Spurs’ next striker?

PSG not the right move for Gareth Bale

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 4th June: Mourinho’s targets, Rooney, Arsenal, Liverpool and more

As we move in to the off-season an unprecedented amount of managerial movement around Europe will surely see an already frantic transfer market go in to overdrive. This will give plenty of opportunities for transfer rumour and gossip. So how much of it is realistic?

Returning Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has targeted Galatasaray playmaker Wesley Sneijder as one of his first signings. The Dutch international, 28, played under Mourinho at Inter Milan.


Full story: the Sun

What’s the story? No sooner does Mourinho arrive than the Chelsea gossip wheels spins itself in to gear, and here is the first idiotic rumour of many to come no doubt. Sneijder has just moved to Galatasaray, Chelsea have an abundance of attacking midfielders and no defence. Mourinho prioritises defensive solidity, so he’s first looking at a non defending number 10?
Does it make sense? Obviously not. For one thing, Galatasaray signed him to give them legitimacy and to help them compete for the Champions League. Also, he’s on a huge wage there, more than any Chelsea player is on, I’m not even going to bother with the abysmal fit and lack of need.
Is the price right? It’s literally just guess work. I can’t see a fee that would work for Chelsea that allows Galatasaray to justify his quick sale to their fans.
Will it happen? 0/10 – No.

Manchester City’s 27-year-old striker Edin Dzeko, Benfica’s ex-Blues midfielder Nemanja Matic, 25, and Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, 22, are also on Mourinho’s radar.


Full story: Daily Telegraph

What’s the story? They want a Man City cast off who is vastly inferior to Lukaku, never mind Cavani, Benzema or Lewandowski. A player they lobbed in to the David Luiz package as a makeweight, David Luiz who is now expected to be sold. And a red raw central defender from a club who have pockets full of cash so could charge an absurd fee?
Does it make sense? Goodness only knows where Dezko has come from. The other two do football wise but both have drawbacks. If Chelsea pay £10m for Matic they are basically paying £34m for David Luiz. He’s a good tyro in midfield though. Porto are talking anywhere between £22-30m for Mangala. If you want to buy, don’t go to cash rich Porto any more this summer.
Is the price right? Matic and Mangala are too much. No price, even £10m or so, would appease the Chelsea fans if they sign Dzeko to be their main striker.
Will it happen? Dzeko – 0/10 Matic – 6/10 Mangala -7/10: Maybe eventually but he’d be an awful lot of money this summer.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits it would be impossible to turn down any opportunity to sign unsettled Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.


Full story: Daily Express

What’s the story? It’s unusual for Wenger to speak publicly about transfer targets so I’m not sure what this means. I guess probably that they are talking to United and Rooney but it shifts the blame for any breakdown in the deal on to them, rather than Arsenal.
Does it make sense? Yes. Even during his inconsistent patches he’d still be a big upgrade on anything Arsenal currently have. Also with this way of phrasing things, Wenger can be seen to have done what he can so that the fans don’t get agitated.
Is the price right? It seems £30m is the figure that has been settled on in the media at least. The question is; would Arsenal spend that much, and on top of that, the wages that it would take to get him?
Will it happen? 5/10 – It would be very un-Arsenal like but they’ve got a need and got the money this summer.

The Gunners are considering whether to make a move for Swansea attacker Michu. The 27-year-old scored 22 goals in all competitions in his debut campaign with the Welsh side last term.


Full story: Daily Mail

What’s the story? Surprisingly this is the first Michu sighting in the transfer gossip. Arsenal would be interesting suitors as they do need more goals from midfield.
Does it make sense? As a back up plan but not as first choice. They’d be better off going for Jovetic and or Rooney to be their number 9 and 10 but Michu would be an able deputy to both. Doesn’t have the refinement for the Champions League but he’s an excellent finisher in the air and on the ground in the Premier League.
Is the price right? Swansea would have every reason to hold out for £15m or so although if it’s only Arsenal bidding it might not get that high.
Will it happen? 4/10 – Only 4 at this stage because we’re so early in the Jovetic/Rooney process.

Liverpool are not deterred by the £22m valuation that Shakhtar Donetsk have put on Armenia international midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Mkhitaryan, 24, scored a record 25 goals in the Ukrainian Premier League last season.

Full story: the Guardian

What’s the story?
With the seemingly inevitable exit of Luis Suarez, Liverpool need to find ways of replacing his goals and inventiveness. Mkhitarayan would be a strong option. He can play anywhere in the forward positions except as a central striker and positional versatility is important to Rodgers’ system.
Does it make sense? Yes. 25 goals from midfield in a good league and strong performances in the Champions League are evidence of his quality. He has the speed, technique, movement and intelligence which is necessary for Rodgers’ system to operate at maximum threat.
Is the price right? £22m is a lot but Shakhtar are a rich club. Willian got them £35m so they won’t sell cheap.
Will it happen? 6/10 – He suits the Liverpool system and fits in to their recent practice of signing unusual options. Coutinho and Iago Aspas were a little off the radar so this could well happen.

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas is stepping up his pursuit of Porto’s highly-rated Colombian forward Jackson Martinez, 26.


Full story: Metro

What’s the story?
Spurs must sign a striker this summer. If they sell Gareth Bale they will need a full attacking face lift. Martinez is a physical specimen and gets goals.
Does it make sense? Again, with £70m in their pockets Porto aren’t the club to try and buy from this summer. They’ve already sold two of their main weapons so selling another of them just to store up more money seems needless. From Spurs’ point of view, Martinez could flourish in England with his combination of power and pace.
Is the price right? It’s going to be higher than before the Monaco deal. Why should they take less than £20m?
Will it happen? 5/10 – AVB knows Porto but unless they sell Bale and have cash to spend over Martinez’s genuine value it’s not going to happen.

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has urged the Gunners to sign Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama. The Kenyan, 21, is valued at £10m by the Scottish Premier League champions.


Full story: Daily Express

What’s the story? Over the last couple of months of the season Ramsey started to show signs of developing in to an able defensive midfielder. His tackles and interceptions numbers improved drastically and he helped shield the second best defence in the league. So logically, he is demanding that Wenger sign the same type of player to replace him with?
Does it make sense? It certainly doesn’t make sense that Ramsey of all people would say this. Wanyama is more athletic certainly, but both have limited passing range and Ramsey is more positionally sound. Not a necessary move by any means.
Is the price right? Celtic have quoted some absurd figures for Wanyama, way and above £10m. Rather than spending £10m here, £10m there, Arsenal need to spend it on world class players, not bits and pieces players. Wanyama is at best a marginal upgrade, not worth spending this kind of money for Arsenal.
Will it happen? 7/10 – I don’t get it, but it probably will do.

Sunderland hope to beat Southampton and Norwich to the £7m signing of 25-year-old Celtic striker Gary Hooper


Full Story: Daily Mail

What’s the story? Hooper went to Celtic after a decent spell with Scunthorpe in the Championship and has scored a lot of goals in Scotland. Sunderland and Norwich are desperate in their search for goals, in Norwich’s case, even despite the signing of van Wolfswinkel for £8.5m.
Does it make sense? I don’t get why scoring goals in a division in which maybe two or three teams would even survive in the English second tier is a priority. This isn’t Henrik Larsson we’re talking about.
Is the price right? No. £7m for Hooper is insanity. You could comfortably sign someone from a better European league for less, or even look at another top flight club’s depth chart. Fulham got Berbatov for £4m last year for example.
Will it happen? 9/10 – He’ll almost certainly end up somewhere in the Premier League.

You may also like:

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 6th June: Rooney, Hulk, Kaka, Tevez and Benteke

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 5th June Part One: Man United, Ronaldo, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 3rd June: Superstar special: Bale, David Luiz, Higuain, Gomez and more

January 2012 Transfer Window in Review – Grades

Summer Transfer Window 2011 – Review and Grades

Monday Musings

Some thoughts on the weekend’s action.

Spurs 2-1 Arsenal

We’ll start with the main attraction.

Before the game Arsene Wenger said that they weren’t going to specifically plan for Gareth Bale. How did that go Arsene? If you were asked for 3 qualities that best describe, it’s fair to say that pace would be ones of those, if not the first one you’d think of. So, how do you combat pace? Is it by playing a high line and trying to play offside. That’s not necessarily the worst strategy in itself. Most of the focus is on the lack of pace in the Arsenal back 4 selected yesterday but that isn’t the problem.

Look at the great George Graham Arsenal defence; Dixon, Keown, Adams, Bould & Winterburn. None of those of quick,, in fact they were all slow. But they played offside, they played a high line. So what’s the difference? How about the fact that they played together for years and years so they understood the system faultlessly. They knew when to drop, they knew when to push up. Arsenal seemed to be wheeling out this defensive system for the first time yesterday and none of the back four seemed to know what they should be doing. Monreal didn’t talk to Vermaelen for the Lennon goal, but then Vermaelen was about 4 yards behind everyone else to start with. So who was at fault? Probably both. There’s no talker or leader of that back 4 so trying to play a difficult to master offside trap was always going to be risky and they got burned twice.

The thing is though, that aside from the two goals they conceded Arsenal more than held their own. They dominated possession but couldn’t quite create the chances they needed to. They came close to prizing Spurs open a few times but misplaced passes or misjudged runs meant various attacks fizzled out.

As for Spurs, this was a professional and mature performance. They couldn’t really get Bale in to the game, partly because he was well marshaled by the Arsenal midfield but he still nearly scored twice. Vertonghen was superb and Dawson excellent. Vermaelen seems to be regressing for Arsenal whilst his compatriot is starting to enforce himself on the league. And he never breaks sweat! Before the game whilst everyone else was fidgeting nervously and getting pumped up he just leaned against the wall looking like he could have a nap if necessary. Combining his elegance and game reading with Dawson’s tenacity and ruggedness has seen Spurs really tighten up. Yes Bale is rightly attracting the headlines for his sublime form, but the Spurs defence has been crucial in their 12 game unbeaten run. They’ve only conceded 2 once in that run and kept 5 clean sheets.

Jamie Redknapp made an excellent point (no, really). He said that the Spurs dressing room is much easier to manage than the Chelsea one. AVB has a core of young players and those senior players that there are haven’t ‘been there, done that’ like the high profile Chelsea players he inherited. The ambiance at Spurs is similar to that which he had at Porto. There he turned a talented but as yet unprolific attacker in to a goal machine. Any one heard of this Falcao fella? Yep, that’s AVB’s doing. How about Joao Moutinho? He joined AVB as an unfulfilled talent and last summer was one of the most in demand players in Europe. He also turned Hulk from a J-League striker to someone that the club sold for £50million. Not too shabby.

He didn’t have the opportunity to show any of this whilst working as John Terry’s assistant at Chelsea. Maybe he does know what he’s doing, this bloke that holds the record for the youngest manager to ever win a European trophy, has an unbeaten season on his CV and was so highly regarded by one Jose Mourinho that he was hot routed up to a senior position in his staff and then came highly recommended to Porto. Hmm…

Chelsea 1-0 West Brom

Meanwhile, back to the football. Oh wait, is it about the football at Chelsea? Do some fans really want to Chelsea to fail if it means getting Benitez out the door quicker? Really?! It’s hard to know what will satisfy the Chelsea fans. If they crash out of the Top 4, which they won’t by the way, then are they happy because it makes Benitez look a fool? If they get Top 4 are they unhappy because it validates him? What are they protesting against now? I’m confused.

Right, football. Chelsea won a drab game with a scruffy goal. But who cares about football at the Bridge when there’s drama to be enjoying.

Everton 3-1 Reading

This was one of the most enjoyable games of the weekend. Everton have missed their chance to get in the Top 4, barring double meltdown in London but the win keeps them ahead of a rejuvenated Liverpool. Back to back seasons of finishing above their city rivals is definitely something to aim for. I mentioned in my preview that Everton needed Mirallas and Pienaar to step up to help Fellaini. Well, thank you for reading gents, I’d appreciate a re-tweet. They obviously took my advice on board as they run rough shod over a Reading defence that has lost it’s confidence. Pienaar’s goal was spectacular, lacerating it in to the top corner after a mazy run.

Reading seem to be in a downward spiral at the moment. They don’t give themselves a chance for late game heroics when already 3 goals behind. Unlike last week, at least they were conceding to quality play but it is a worrying trend. Having scrambled out of trouble they’ve slipped back to 19th. I’m afraid that’s where they look like staying.

Man United 4-0 Norwich

Not much to see here. This was always going to happen. United don’t mess about at home and Norwich keep taking heavy beatings from the top teams on the road. It’s good to see artisan’s choice Shinji Kagawa flower in to life. Don’t however, let this have any baring on your thinking ahead of the Real Madrid game. This was a coast in the park against an inferior team. Real 2nd string beat Barcelona at the weekend. Tuesday will be fascinating.

Southampton 1-2 QPR

Huh? Where did this come from? I thought QPR were awful and Saints were going well under Pochettino?

The worry for Saints is that their much celebrated win over City is their only win in the 6 games under the Argentine. More concerning is that the defence is still leaking goals. Only that Everton clean sheet to show for a different defensive style and at 16th they are right in it. So how did they manage to lose to QPR?

Well, Redknapp heeded the criticisms of Adel Taarabt and dropped him. Lo and behold, they weren’t shooting from 40 yards and scored 2 for the first time in nearly 2 months. The team looked united and energised after their break, and far be it from me to suspect that some mainstream media would look to do ‘Arry a favour but this whole Dubai debacle does seem conveniently timed. ‘Look at this garbage lads, go and show them what you’re all about, prove them all wrong’. Maybe?

Anyway, they weren’t that good. Southampton conceded two abysmal goals and even then only a wonder save by comedy keeper Rob Green preserved the win. Incidentally, on the point of comedy play. Re-watch Remy’s goal. What is Danny Fox doing? He ran away from Remy to try and cover the goal line for some reason. You don’t want to try and close the shooter down?

Yeah but that’s because Pochettino can’t speak English Eurgh. Yeah? Firstly, he can, but he clearly doesn’t want to have his words twisted. Secondly, do Premier League defenders need to be told not to run away from a striker baring down on goal?

Still, I predicted this exact score.

Stoke 0-1 West Ham

Me neither.

Sunderland 2-2 Fulham

This was played as if it was the last game of the season and the players had carte blanche to enjoy themselves. Here’s a game for you. Go to a Premier League table and try and find Fulham. If you’re reaction isn’t ‘they’re 10th?!’ then you must be a Fulham fan. They seem to bumble along well enough though. As for Sunderland, the briefly unbreachable defence of a few weeks ago has faded away. In Match of the Day terms, both teams ‘should be all right’ by a combination of having some decent players and more importantly, the number of poor team hovering around the bottom of the table.

Swansea 1-0 Newcastle

The scoreline and MOTD billing don’t really do this justice. It was an enjoyable and quite open game. Some of the usual Vorm heroics and the cross bar prevented various Newcastle players scoring and Swansea brought their usual slick and enterprising football to the party and could have scored a few more.

This was a 3-3 in all but scoreline and was a good advert for the fact that even the middling and lower end Premier League teams can aspire to play nice modern football and expect high standards. Newcastle are still in trouble but they more than enough quality to dig themselves out if they get their act together.

Wigan 0-4 Liverpool

Liverpool continue their relentless steam rolling of bottom half sides. They may still struggle against the really good teams but they have been merciless against the cannon fodder. Rodgers has the makings of a very good team but the big question is whether they can keep Suarez out of Bayern’s clutches. He has always looked spectacular but this year he is matching goal scoring consistency to his general menace. That’s a pretty potent cocktail and Wigan had no answer. The really exciting player on this showing for me though was Philippe Coutinho. His pass to Suarez for the second goal was beyond sublime. The pace and precision of it was something to behold and he seems to have plugged straight in with worry. They’ve got some friendly games on the horizon too so if they can keep this sort of form going they could be a dark horse for a late top 4 charge. They have Spurs and Chelsea at home and then near enough the entire bottom half of the league. If they can get 4 or even 6 points from the London clubs then they really will be in the mix, particularly considering they only have the Premier League to focus on now.

Friday Feelings

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