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Football / Worst EPL Signings of the Season:
« on: April 24, 2010, 01:21:51 AM »

It is the time of year when attention turns towards football's end-of-season awards. While there are Oscar equivalents to reward the worthy, the game could benefit from its version of Razzies, honouring the unsuccessful. And in that spirit, here are the nominations for the worst signing of the season.

10. Gabriel Obertan (Manchester United, £3 million)

He can run rather quickly and likes a stepover, but there the similarities to Cristiano Ronaldo end. Admittedly, Antonio Valencia was a more direct replacement for the Portuguese than the untried Frenchman and there is still time for the 21-year-old to make an impact but, before reappearing at the end of the Manchester derby, Obertan had disappeared off the radar, suggesting he is near the back of a long queue of wingers.

9. Diego Arismendi (Stoke, £2.5 million)

He came, he saw, he vanished without trace. Diego Arismendi was supposed to add another dimension to the Stoke midfield. Instead, he has barely figured in it. The Uruguayan has only played in two Carling Cup games: he was hauled off at half-time in the first, but completed the second, a 4-0 defeat to Portsmouth. He has since been loaned to Brighton, managed by his compatriot Gus Poyet, but the fact that half of his four appearances in League One have been as a replacement indicates he has endured difficulties there, too.

8. Tal Ben Haim (Portsmouth, undisclosed)

Since excelling at Bolton, Tal Ben Haim has made an unfortunate habit of appearing on such lists. Moves to Chelsea, Manchester City and Sunderland can hardly be called successes. Nor, following his August switch from Eastlands, can his stint at Portsmouth be judged favourably. For the first half of the campaign, he was unable to displace Marc Wilson and Younes Kaboul from the central defensive positions. Subsequent appearances have been underwhelming and, with the fire sale at Fratton Park set to continue, Pompey may find themselves counting the cost of giving Ben Haim what is thought to be a lucrative four-year contract.

7. Manuel da Costa (West Ham, swap)

There is such a thing as cause and effect in trading. West Ham made Savio Nsereko their record signing last season. When he underachieved, the forward was exchanged for Fiorentina centre back Manuel da Costa. Around the same time, West Ham sold James Collins to Aston Villa, where the Welshman has proved himself to be one of the division's most dependable defenders. The same cannot be said for Da Costa: West Ham have conceded 18 goals in the nine games he has started.

6. Mike Williamson (Portsmouth, £3 million)

For those wondering why Portsmouth plunged into administration, a glance at Mike Williamson's recent career should offer an insight. Signed for £3 million and sold five months later for £1 million, the former Watford defender never made an appearance for Pompey before being transferred to Newcastle. Even before wages, agents' fees and a signing-on fee are taken into account, that is a loss of £2 million with no discernible benefit to Portsmouth. It is hardly his fault but, from a financial perspective, he was a terrible buy.

5. Benni McCarthy (West Ham, £2.25 million)

It is not a particularly enjoyable admission to make, but perhaps Sam Allardyce was right. The Blackburn manager questioned Benni McCarthy's fitness and work-rate before selling him. Since then, a fee of £2.25 million and a lucrative two-and-a-half year deal has bought West Ham a grand total of 155 minutes' ineffective football, no goals and no points. All five games in which he has appeared have resulted in defeat. McCarthy may be (just) slimmer than Mido, but he is a much bigger investment.

4. Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City, £18 million)

Sometimes the phrase "more money than sense" does apply. There was only one serious bidder for Roque Santa Cruz and his lengthy injury record should have been used to drive the price down: instead, Manchester City paid £18 million to acquire a man who has spent much of the season either on the bench or the treatment table. Santa Cruz has only started five league games and, in one, contrived to injure himself in innocuous fashion in the opening minutes. Compared to his paltry return of three goals, Emmanuel Adebayor and, in particular, Carlos Tevez are delivering value for money.

3. Jason Scotland (Wigan, £2 million)

Sometimes scouting systems fail. On other occasions, perhaps would-be buyers know their targets too well, the memories of their triumphs serving to obscure their flaws. Jason Scotland spent two years scoring goals at Swansea for Roberto Martinez and, when the Spaniard moved to Wigan, the striker followed suit. A regular scorer in League One and the Championship, the Trinidad & Tobago forward may rank as the Premier League's least prolific forward: 30 games have brought a solitary strike. And even that came in a defeat.

2. Kolo Toure & Joleon Lescott (Manchester City, £14 million & £22 million)

With money no object, Mark Hughes went shopping for defenders. And while John Terry eventually opted to stay at Chelsea, the former Manchester City manager had the opportunity to assemble an enviable back four. He produced a ridiculed one. Kolo Toure fared rather worse than his cheaper replacement at Arsenal, Thomas Vermaelen, while Joleon Lescott appeared, especially in the first half of the season, unnerved by the price tag and a rather lesser player than the man who excelled for Everton. And as Roberto Mancini has discovered, City's most reliable centre back is one who was already at the club: Vincent Kompany.

1. Alberto Aquilani (Liverpool, £20 million)

Yes, he has been unfortunate with injuries and, yes, as Rafa Benitez was fond of saying, Aquilani was signed for the five-year duration of his contract rather than a few months, but it has been a dismal start to life at Liverpool. His debut was delayed, his impact has been negligible and even his manager appears unconvinced. As Anfield appearances against Fulham and Portsmouth have shown, Aquilani has ability in abundance, but the solidity of Lucas Leiva tends to earn the Brazilian a place for the more demanding games. Replacing Xabi Alonso was never going to be easy, but Aquilani's troubled time at Anfield makes it far harder than envisaged. He may be unlucky, but the size of his fee and the size of the task made it imperative the Italian flourished. It is an understatement to say he has not.

Football / Man City discuss Eto'o with Barca
« on: April 28, 2009, 10:34:55 AM »

Manchester City and Barcelona officials met on Monday and discussed the possible transfer of Samuel Eto'o to Eastlands, BBC Sport understands.

Although it was billed as a contact-building exercise, the chance of a deal for £40m-rated Cameroon striker Eto'o formed part of their discussions.

The 28-year-old was transfer-listed by Barcelona last season but has found his best form under new boss Pep Guardiola.

Eto'o has given no indication he would be willing to leave the Catalan giants.

In February, he said he wanted to stay at Barcelona beyond the end of his contract in 2010.

"Of course I want to continue, I'm very happy and see no reason to leave," he told TV station Canal Catala.

"I'm going to stay to the end of my contract and if the club want me, I would like to stay longer."

Manchester City certainly have the ambition and financial clout to lure the likes of Eto'o since their takeover last September by the Abu Dhabi United Group, backed by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

But the club will not figure in next season's Champions League and are by no means guaranteed a place in the new Europa League.

Officials are also likely to tread carefully in any fresh transfer bids for big-name players following the acrimony over their failed move for AC Milan's Kaka.

Manchester City's executive chairman Garry Cook was criticised after accusing Milan of "bottling" a £100m deal for the Brazilian star.

Football / 3 outta 4 semi-finalists again? oh gosh man EPL!
« on: April 15, 2009, 03:45:04 PM »
Stop it! keep dominating the champs league like this and they will definitely change up the home-grown players' rules...... 

Football / Diarra to Real for 20 million pounds?
« on: December 17, 2008, 10:55:49 AM »
Apparently Pompey have accepted close to 20 million pounds for Diarra from Real madrid.  Have they lost their mind? I mean, the man decent, but 20 milli? The Pompey board must be extatic, after paying 5 mill for him a little over a year ago!,19528,11661_4657156,00.html

Football / Tottenham Sack Ramos and appoint Redknapp
« on: October 25, 2008, 06:28:04 PM »

Tottenham Hotspur have sacked coach Juande Ramos and sporting director Damien Comolli and are set to appoint Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp.

Spurs have agreed a compensation package of £5m with Portsmouth, according to the 61-year-old Redknapp.

Tottenham also axed first team coaches Gus Poyet and Marcos Alvarez following their worst ever start to a season.

"It's a big opportunity for me to manage a big club before I retire," said Redknapp.

Spurs are four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League after taking just two points from eight matches this season. They also lost to Udinese in the Uefa Cup on Thursday.

Redknapp revealed Spurs contacted Portsmouth on Friday morning, and after discussions between Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie, it was agreed he could talk to the London club.

"I love Portsmouth and I loved my time there, we had some fantastic success and I'd never been happier," said Redknapp.

"But it's a great deal for Portsmouth, £5m for me, and it's a chance for me to get on and see what I can do.

"Once Tottenham came in and once the offer was made it was difficult for the club to turn down a £5m offer for a manager.

"The club were pleased to take it and hopefully people will remember what I've done there."

Redknapp expects the official announcement to come from White Hart Lane on Sunday morning.

"It will all be sorted out and by tomorrow morning I should be in place," he said.

Clive Allen, development squad coach, and Alex Inglethorpe, youth team manager will take charge of Sunday's game against Bolton, while Redknapp expects to be at White Hart Lane to address the players before the match.

"I know as much about Tottenham as anyone," said Redknapp. "I've followed the club for years and years.

"They've been on an horrendous run of games and we've got to get cracking and turn it around as quick as we can.

"We need a little bit more strength and aggression about the team if we're going to survive."

In January, Redknapp held talks with Newcastle to succeed Sam Allardyce as manager but eventually rejected the offer.

Redknapp spent most of his playing career with West Ham and Bournemouth and went on to manage both clubs before taking charge of Portsmouth in 2002, guiding the club into the Premier League within 14 months as First Division champions.

He left Fratton Park for Pompey's bitter south coast rivals Southampton in 2004 but returned in December 2005.

Then, after dramatically saving Pompey from the drop with an unbelievable final 10-game run, Redknapp steered them to a best-ever Premier League finish of ninth in 2006/07.

They bettered that by a place in 2007/08, and won the FA Cup against Cardiff, qualifying for their first journey into Uefa Cup football.

The 54-year-old Ramos joined Spurs from Sevilla on 27 October 2007 after Dutchman Martin Jol was sacked.

The Spaniard enjoyed back-to-back Uefa Cup triumphs with Sevilla and guided Tottenham to February's League Cup final where they beat Chelsea 2-1 for the club's first trophy since 1999.

However, several first-choice players left in the summer, notably Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United and Robbie Keane to Liverpool.

England striker Jermain Defoe was also sold last January to Redknapp's Portsmouth.

Tottenham splashed out about £60m on the likes of Croatia midfielder Luka Modric, England winger David Bentley, Russia striker Roman Pavlyuchenko and Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

Football / Why would Eto'o consider signing for an Uzbeki side?
« on: July 23, 2008, 04:32:13 PM »

apparently this side claiming on their website that Samuel Eto is about to sign for them...

Football / Yorke lambasts 'poor' Kenwyne
« on: June 08, 2008, 07:49:05 AM »

Dwight Yorke has launched a staggering attack on Sunderland colleague and compatriot Kenwyne Jones, insisting his goal return simply ‘isn’t good enough’.
Jones has been linked to some big-money moves since signing for Sunderland in a £6 million deal, with the likes of Liverpool said to be interested in his services.

However, after an impressive start to life in The Premier League Jones’ form soon dipped and he scored just seven goals all season.

Yorke insists Jones should be far from proud of that statistic, and he believes any comparisons to Didier Drogba are currently ridiculous. 

“People have talked about him being the new Didier Drogba but you don’t earn that type of reputation after one season in The Premier League and you’ve scored only seven goals,” Yorke said in the Star on Sunday.

“Seven goals isn’t good enough. Drogba scores 20-plus goals every season and that is what Kenwyne has to do.

“Until he starts doing that he shouldn’t start getting carried away with himself."

“Seven goals is an extremely poor season and if you are talking about a top striker and someone fulfilling obvious potential, and you have people around him ranting and raving about him, he needs to do a lot better.”

Football / Sir Alex: "Premier league is the strongest in Europe!"
« on: March 12, 2008, 09:09:17 AM »

The Premier League is the best in Europe, according to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

England has become the first country to have four teams in the Champions League quarter-finals after Liverpool defeated Inter Milan in Italy yesterday to join United, Arsenal and Chelsea in Friday's draw.

Ferguson told MUTV: 'The Premier League is the strongest in Europe.

'For a spell it was the Spanish league - I remember about seven or eight years ago they had three teams in the semi-finals.

'Spanish football was really strong but I think the English game has now reached that level.

'We now have a 40% chance of being drawn against an English team, which is a measure of the quality of this division.'

United have never experienced an all-English tie in the Champions League but the manager is relaxed about that possible scenario.

He said: 'Once the format changed and three or four teams from each country were allowed into the competition, it was inevitable that they would face each other at some point.

'So I am always geared to playing against an English team. It doesn't matter who we get in the quarter-finals.

'Knowing who you'll get in the semi-finals as well is an incentive, but we'll take what we get.'

Football / Warner now backs England's World Cup Bid?
« on: February 14, 2008, 10:40:53 AM »

Warner backing for England's World Cup bid

FIFA vice-president Jack Warner believes the 'time has come' for England to host another World Cup.

Warner had initially said he was against FIFA's decision to change the rotation rules which would enable Europe to host the tournament in 2018.

The 65-year-old had also been previously claimed England would be unlikely to win the race to stage the showpiece in 10 years' time.

But Warner, who is also president of the CONCACAF executive committee, has now come out and said England deserve to host the tournament having lost out to Germany in 2006.

'It is England's time. The fact is they invented this sport. They last held the World Cup 42 years ago,' Warner told Sky Sports News.

'That is almost two to three generations. There are guys in England who have never seen a World Cup on English soil. I am saying that the time has come for England to come into its own.

'They have a lot of things in place and CONCACAF is one of the the strongest supporters of England.'

Warner, who had been quoted as saying England were an 'irritant' disliked by the rest of Europe, reaffirmed his feeling that the country are not very popular within UEFA.

'I was critical of The FA (in the past). There seems to be some kind of situation where England was marginalised,' Warner said.

'If England's time (to host the World Cup) is 2018, I would be happy for them.

'But the feeling in Europe from time to time that this view (of supporting England) is not a collective view held behind closed doors.'

Warner also expressed his desire for a friendly between England and Trinidad and Tobago football in the summer.

The two countries last met in the group stages of the 2006 World Cup.

Warner added: 'We have agreed to hold discussions which is positive but we shall wait and see if we can sort something out.'

Football / What is Liverpool real scene?
« on: January 30, 2008, 04:13:28 PM »
West Ham beat them 1-0. Zero Prem wins in 2008. Why Rafa still have a wuk?

Mark Noble's injury-time penalty gave West Ham a deserved victory over Liverpool at Upton Park.

Noble slotted the ball low past Pepe Reina with virtually the last kick of the match after Jamie Carragher had brought down Freddie Ljungberg.

Earlier, West Ham's Luis Boa Morte twice missed from six yards out while Xabi Alonso headed on to his own bar.

Lucas Leiva missed from eight yards for the Reds while Fernando Torres' shot was saved by Robert Green.

The result must have buoyed West Ham boss Alan Curbishley whose best-laid plans to frustrate Liverpool did not go awry.

Although the Reds had not won in the league for over a month they had beaten the Hammers in their last seven meetings.

But from the first whistle, the home side were intent to bring an end to their appalling record against the Merseysiders and even steal a win themselves.

They had the best two chances of the first 45 with Boa Morte blazing over from six yards and Alonso coming close to heading the ball into his own goal - the crossbar denying Curbishley's troops.

The closest Rafa Benitez's men came to grabbing the lead was inside the first 10 minutes when former West Ham player Yossi Benayoun burst into the area but fired his shot over the bar from eight yards.

Liverpool's multi-million pound strikeforce of Dirk Kuyt and Torres were often crowded out as soon as the ball arrived at their feet by the dynamic duo of Anton Ferdinand and Matthew Upson.

The teamwork between West Ham's midfield and defence was tremendous and tireless, with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Alonso also given little time to weave their magic.

The visitors from Anfield should have been made to pay again for their lack of bite when Boa Morte received the ball on the edge of the six-yard area but completely mis-hit his effort embarrassingly wide.

That was enough for a bemused Benitez who brought on Lucas Leiva and Ryan Babel to insert some life into his side.

Leiva made a brief impression on the match, shooting narrowly wide from Torres' low right-wing cross, while Babel found Torres with a short pass only to see the Spaniard's effort saved low by Green - although it appeared to be heading wide.

The match was heading towards a draw until one of the stars of the show, Ljungberg, motored into the area only to have his ankle clipped by Carragher.

Referee Alan Wiley was left with a no-brainer and pointed to the spot.

England Under-21 star Noble, who had an exceptional match, was left with the pressure kick but showed no nerves to fire sweetly into Reina's left corner.

Football / Now its "Jose Who?" at Chelsea....
« on: January 28, 2008, 10:22:41 AM »

ROMAN ABRAMOVICH and Peter Kenyon must be laughing themselves sick.

Unlike Ashley Cole.

The Chelsea hierarchy came in for a right duffing — not least in these columns — when they off-loaded Jose Mourinho and brought in Avram Grant.

The man formerly known as ‘Avram Who’.
Yet they have picked up in the league, are back in the Carling Cup final and had little problem removing Wigan from the FA Cup on Saturday.

At a time when they were expected to suffer the fall-out from losing four top players to the African Nations Cup, they have gone from strength to strength. Joe Cole, in particular, is revelling in all the responsibility.

They have even been able to do it without John Terry, Frank Lampard AND Michael Ballack — now carrying a calf strain.

Mind you, it always helps when you enter the transfer window and can summon up Nicolas Anelka, Serbian Under-21 skipper Branislav Ivanovic and striker Franco di Santo, the latest in a long line of Argentine wonderboys.

Another £26million of talent. Just like that.

It is almost as if it’s Grant’s reward for not rocking the boat.

What a change from this time last year when the Mourinho-Abramovich relationship was going into meltdown.

Now the Russian owner has a manager he trusts, a manager more than happy to follow directives from above and a manager with no intention of rocking the boat.

Now it’s Jose Who.

Strangely, all the injuries and absentees have probably helped Grant. The team more or less picks itself.

What happens when the African mob return and the lame pick up their beds and walk, is a different matter.

Only then will we be able to see what Grant is really made of. Never can a Premier League boss have been blessed with a squad packed with such midfield expertise and experience.

What a choice — four from Lampard, Ballack, Cole, Michael Essien, Mikel Jon Obi, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Florent Malouda and Claude Makelele.

But what a balancing act, keeping all those egos happy. That is when Grant will have to call on all his wisdom and avuncular charm.

If that has the manager scratching his head, the potential of an Anelka-Didier Drogba attacking partnership will have Chelsea fans in a state of hyperventilation.

Considered by some as too similar — though not nearly as much so as Anelka and Thierry Henry for France — it is more likely to be the strike pairing Chelsea have long been searching for.
With Drogba not having to carry the team in attack, it is the difference between a Champions League semi-final and winning the European Cup.

Again, two huge personalities, both with immense self-belief.

Anelka, though, is an extremely clever footballer, a player who has arrived at a stage of his career
where he knows exactly what he has to do to make the Drogba partnership work.

If this means adapting his game to dovetail with the Ivorian, he will do it.

Unlike Andriy Shevchenko, who appears to have found the role beyond and beneath him.

So, very interesting times once more at Stamford Bridge. And in the Premier League.

Manchester United and Arsenal will both be looking over their shoulders as the big blue machine continues to work up a head of steam.

Should the Chelsea Academy, currently under construction at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground, eventually start spewing home-grown talent it won’t bear thinking about.

Nor will the look on Kenyon’s face. Please, someone stop it.

Football / Chelsea snatch up Argentine starlet
« on: January 25, 2008, 09:29:31 AM »

Chelsea snap up Argentine starlet 
Chelsea have signed Argentina Under-20 international striker Franco Di Santo on a four-and-a-half year contract.

The 18-year-old arrives at Stamford Bridge from Chilean side Audax Italiano for an undisclosed fee.

Despite standing 6ft 4in tall Di Santo, who holds an Italian passport, has been compared to diminutive Argentina legend Diego Maradona.

Chelsea have reportedly paid more than £3m for Di Santo, who was also linked with Manchester United and Liverpool.


Football / AC Milan set to bid 30 million euros on Drogba (Tuttosport)
« on: December 20, 2007, 11:37:07 AM »

Milan To Bid For Drogba - Report
According to Italian daily sports newspaper Tuttosport, Milan are set to offer Chelsea 30 million Euros for the services of Didier Drogba.

With the never-ending problems concerning Ronaldo continuing, the Rossoneri are looking around the market to find a striker of the highest level in order to have a deadly attack line for next season.

With Pato being hailed as the new best striker in the world, according to president Silvio Berlusconi and coach Carlo Ancelotti, Milan now want a partner for him of the highest level.

According to the latest speculation coming from Italy, the world champions are preparing a bid of 30m for the services of Drogba who has often been linked to a move to Milan in the past seasons.

With Amauri not for sale according to Palermo's director of sports, Rino Foschi, Drogba seems like the only way for Milan to bring in a player who can guarantee a number of matches per season, unlike Ronaldo who has featured just once in the past 6 months.

Football / Adriano wins Worst Player Award
« on: December 10, 2007, 05:54:19 PM »

Adriano Wins Worst Player Award
Troubled Inter striker Adriano has retained the Bidone d’Oro – ‘Golden Bin’ – award for Serie A’s worst player over the last year.

The dreaded annual prize is organised by Italy’s Catersport Radio 2 and has been running since 2003 when former Milan flop Rivaldo was the recipient.

Adriano has been beset by personal problems for the past 18 months and is currently in Brazil receiving clinical treatment for depression.

The 25-year-old picked up almost a fifth of the votes cast, with fellow Brazilian Dida in second following a number of high-profile mistakes.

Indeed the entire top four are Brazilian as the injury-plagued Ronaldo, who has featured just once this season, is in third, with yet another Milan-owned player Ricardo Oliveira just behind him.

Juventus’ Tiago Mendes is fifth following his disastrously expensive move from Lyon in the summer.

Fiery Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano and Inter’s Luis Jimenez, both of whom have been outstanding in recent matches, are sixth and seventh respectively, while another player who has had an upturn in fortunes, Diego Tristan is eighth.

Former Azzurri wing-back Francesco Coco, and yet another Milan player, Alberto Gilardino complete the top 10.

The top 10:

1. Adriano (Inter) 19.98%
2. Nelson Dida (Milan) 10.86%
3. Ronaldo (Milan) 8.48%
4. Ricardo Oliveira (Real Zaragoza) 6.58%
5. Tiago Mendes (Juventus) 5.99%
6. Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria) 5.89%
7. Luis Jimenez (Inter) 5.52%
8. Diego Tristan (Livorno) 4.68%
9. Francesco Coco (Retired) 4.51%
10. Alberto Gilardino (Milan) 3.16%

Football / Avery John gets down and (not) dirty: Boston Globe
« on: November 15, 2007, 09:28:27 AM »

John gets down and (not) dirty

FOXBOROUGH - Avery John performed in the MLS Cup for the Revolution and the World Cup for Trinidad and Tobago last year. Both experiences could be considered the epitome of a soccer player's career, but neither was completely fulfilling for John.

The Revolution lost in the MLS Cup and Trinidad and Tobago players, despite delivering an inspiring performance, became involved in a pay dispute that has not yet been resolved.

So, though John's international career could be over and the Soca Warriors' aspirations have likely been stifled, John is maintaining high standards with the Revolution.

John will return to the MLS Cup for the third successive time when the Revolution meet the Houston Dynamo in Washington, D.C., Sunday, his hard-tackling style complementing central defender Michael Parkhurst's finesse.

"He's solid as a rock," coach Steve Nicol said of John. "He gives nothing away, he gets it done with no frills, none of the fancy stuff. He is an old-fashioned tackler; when he goes in he takes the ball, and everything else. He is aggressive, but he is going for the ball. Coaches who complain about his challenges, if they had somebody on their team like that they would be quite happy with him."

John said his style has not changed since he was a youngster growing up in Vance River, Trinidad. MLS referees, though, could be getting used to John.

In his first year with the Revolution, John was issued nine cautions in 24 playoff and regular-season games. John has been yellow-carded 11 times in 54 games since.

"I don't think I'm dirty or nasty, I don't come from behind you and I don't hit people off the ball," John said. "But if the ball is there to be won, I'll take it. If they don't want to go into a tackle they should jump, but I'm going to go for a good, fair tackle."

John kicked up his intensity several notches for the World Cup and was ejected after a second caution early in the second half of Trinidad and Tobago's 0-0 tie with Sweden, one of the surprise results of the tournament. It was the Soca Warriors' first appearance in the World Cup, and they set up effective defend-and-counterattack tactics, holding opponents scoreless for 173 minutes before falling to England.

That was good preparation for the MLS playoffs. The Revolution started the postseason in a defensive mode, earning a 0-0 tie in New York in Game 1 and extending a three-game shutout streak with a 1-0 win over Chicago last Thursday.

"By the end of the regular season, we had been through a lot," John said. "In the US Open Cup, we played our best game [a 3-2 win over FC Dallas]. We've worked all year to get to this point and now we are in a position to complete it. Everyone is fit and buzzing around in practice, and now we have to make sure we are 110 percent for the game.

"We know we have to win it. Both teams have some pressure to win it, but I believe we want it more."

This will be something of a homecoming for John, who played for two years and earned a business administration degree from American University in Washington. John played alongside Nicol, who was a player-coach, with the Boston Bulldogs in 1999, then went to Ireland and performed in the 2002 Champions League preliminaries with Bohemians. By 2004, John was ready to move on and Nicol brought him back.

Last year, John played in only 10 regular-season games, partly because of international duty, but the Revolution had a 7-0-3 record with him in the starting lineup. This year, the Revolution had a 14-4-6 record in all games (cup, playoff, regular season) with John starting.

John did not perform against Houston this season, the Revolution winning (1-0) in Houston and tying (3-3) at home. The last time John played against the Dynamo, he deflected a cross that Brian Ching finished for the tying goal in last year's MLS Cup.

"Houston is a strong team and they have the best goals-against record in the league," John said. "But we are playing on the East Coast and we should have people supporting us, and that's to our advantage."

The Revolution will provide free bus transportation to the final, departing Saturday from Gillette Stadium. Check-in is 9 a.m., and the bus leaves at 10 a.m. For more information call 1-877-GET-REVS or go online to The match will be shown at the Fidelity Investments Clubhouse at Gillette Sunday.

Football / Bigger game? Arsenal/ManU or Colts/Patriots?
« on: November 02, 2007, 12:29:18 PM »
don't know how many forumites are american football fans. "but for those who are," which of these 2 contests is going to be the bigger game?

Football / Would you let your foreign national children play for T&T?
« on: August 23, 2007, 12:54:46 PM »
This is a hypothetical question for me, since i do not yet have children, but I know that some of you forumites are in this predicament:

If you were born in Trinidad, but migrated and had kids, whether in the US, Europe or elsewhere.....

Would you direct your son/daughter to play for T&T even if they had the opportunity to play for the national team in the country they were born?

I live in the US now and God willing I do have kids soon, hopefully 3 sons (a striker, defensive mid and a wicked left winger) I would find it an extremely difficult decision to have them play for T&T, the way our system is currently set-up under Jack Warner and the development of T&T football on the whole.

Do we have any right to bash players like Bobby Zamora, Quevas Kirk etc ???


Football / Alex gets work Permit !!!
« on: August 02, 2007, 01:32:29 PM »
Alex and Terry in central defence....Who scoring dey? with Danny Alves on the right and Cole left....

Chelsea target Alex earns permit 
Chelsea have moved a step closer to the capture of Brazil defender Alex after he was granted a work permit.
Alex has been at PSV Eindhoven for the past two seasons after he was deemed ineligible for a permit, but should now complete a permanent move to the Blues.

A statement on the Chelsea website said: "At a hearing today, Alex was granted a work permit.

"He still has to agree personal terms with Chelsea Football Club and have a medical."


Football / Reyes offloaded to Atletico for ~ 6 million pounds
« on: July 30, 2007, 03:59:06 PM »

Reyes completes move to Atletico 
Winger Reyes is set to join Real's city rivals
Arsenal have confirmed that Jose Antonio Reyes has joined Atletico Madrid for an undisclosed fee.
Reyes, who is set to sign a four-year deal, will have a medical on Tuesday before being officially unveiled.

Atletico were seen as favourites to sign the 23-year-old for a reported £6m after Real Madrid apparently refused to offer more than £4m.

Reyes was on loan with Real last season and scored the vital goals against Mallorca to help the side to La Liga.

An Arsenal statement said: "Everyone at Arsenal thanks Jose Antonio for his contribution to the club and wishes him the best of luck for the future."

The winger was close to joining Atletico last summer, signing a pre-contract deal, before opting to join city rivals.

Lyon also made a bid for Reyes, who cost Arsenal £10.5m when he arrived from Sevilla four years ago, but they all but admitted defeat after the player said he wanted to remain in Spain.

Reyes, who has won 21 caps for Spain, made a total of 110 appearances for the Gunners and scored 23 goals.

He made 30 appearances with Real, mostly as a substitute, and scored six league goals.


Football / Chelsea finally apply for ALEX work permit
« on: July 30, 2007, 01:53:58 PM »
the man who purged Arsenal last year, is one step closer to a long anticipated move to the Bridge.....

Blues apply for Alex work permit 

Chelsea have moved closer to completing a deal for Brazil defender Alex by applying for a work permit.

The 25-year-old arrived at Heathrow on Sunday to discuss personal terms and was cleared to enter the country before returning home.

A Chelsea statement said: "We are in the process of applying for a permit. At immigration there was a request to clarify Alex's current status.

"All of the paperwork was in order and was cleared to enter the country."

It added: "He chose voluntarily to fly back but will return when necessary."

Rules require a player to have played for his country in at least 75% of their competitive 'A' games in which he was available for selection, during the two years preceding the date of the application for the permit.

Alex is believed to have only played in eight of the 14 Brazilian games he was available for in the last two years and was not selected for the others.

The Brazilian was signed by the Blues in 2004 but has since been on loan at Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven as he was deemed ineligible for a work permit.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon is confident the club can tie up a deal for Brazilian centre-back Alex.

The 25-year-old was signed by the Blues in 2004 but has since been on loan at Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven as he was deemed ineligible for a work permit.

Alex has won three Eredivisie titles during his time at PSV and is presently on international duty with Brazil at the Copa America.



Football / Fergie's Red army is overpopulated
« on: July 19, 2007, 04:04:55 PM »

Fergie's Red army is overpopulated

The First XI: Van der Sar; Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Ronaldo, Scholes, Hargreaves, Giggs; Tevez, Rooney.

The Second XI: Foster; O'Shea, Brown, Pique, Heinze; Anderson, Fletcher, Carrick, Nani; Solskjaer, Saha.

The Third XI: Kuszczak; Bardsley, Evans, Silvestre, Eckersley; Park, Eagles, Lee, Martin; Smith, Rossi.

The Fourth XI: Heaton; Simpson, Cathcart, Shawcross, Lea; Gibson, Gray, Jones, Barnes; Campbell, Fangzhou

The Copa America must have ranked high among Carlos Tevez's priorities last week. So, presumably, did completing his move to Manchester United.

The warrant issued for his agent Kia Joorabchian's arrest probably occupied his attention as well. But he could have another concern: getting a spot in the Old Trafford dressing room.

Forget competition for places, there will be competition for pegs at Old Trafford. Presuming Tevez joins Nani, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves among United's summer signings, there will be 45 footballers jostling for Sir Alex Ferguson's attention.

The size of the United squad suggests the Scot is intent on emulating his friend Barry Fry, who accumulated a half-century of players at Birmingham; that was a squad in a permanent state of rotation. United, with a high-calibre collective of automatic choices, is another matter.

Unlike Fry's scattergun selections, many of Ferguson's fringe players can barely glimpse the first team, let alone aspire to joining it. Yet they remain at Old Trafford. If the Glazer family and David Gill have surpassed most expectations in funding Ferguson's spending, heightened optimism is only one consequence. Another is an increase in the deadwood and the marginalised among the mediocrity at Old Trafford.

In part, it is a result of the youth policy Ferguson implemented two decades ago. It has often produced quality - and in Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, there are three remnants of its greatest generation - but has always delivered quantity.

Graduates of the United youth policy are scattered across the lower leagues. Now David Gray, Darren Gibson, Ryan Shawcross, Craig Cathcart and Michael Barnes challenge the assumption that Manchester United players are instantly recognisable.

In addition, the ranks at Carrington are bolstered by returning loanees.

Ferguson's popularity among his fellow managers is probably not unrelated to his ability to lend them 18 players last season. Some, such as Danny Simpson, Phil Bardsley and Lee Martin, have displayed enough to suggest they have a future in the higher divisions, if not at Manchester United. Their role model, rather than Giggs or Scholes, could be David Jones who, recognising the improbability of establishing a regular place for himself in the United midfield, opted to join Derby and was promptly promoted to the Premier League.

Giuseppe Rossi, who has only featured occasionally in England but was prolific for Parma in Serie A, would be well-advised to encourage the attentions of his Italian suitors.

Others have been assured of a United future. But for injury, Ben Foster would have been expected to challenge Edwin van der Sar for the goalkeeping jersey. Jonny Evans and Gerard Pique, while at Sunderland and Real Zaragoza respectively, prospered to such an extent that they have been informed they are in contention for the first team this season.

The problem is that the defensive ranks are already overpopulated. The arrival of three midfielders means John O'Shea can be redefined from a utility player to merely a versatile defender.

But to accommodate Evans and Pique, departures are required and only Gabriel Heinze, attracting the attention of Liverpool, seems likely to leave. The aggressive Argentine would be mourned at Old Trafford after acquiring cult status; seeing him at Anfield would prove particularly painful for the Stretford End regulars.

But then there is Wes Brown, alternately impressive, inadequate or injured, who seemingly settled for the role of a stand-in long ago; he and O'Shea mean Bardsley and Simpson are respectively fourth- and fifth-choice right-backs. And below Brown in the hierarchy is Mikael Silvestre.

The Frenchman, bizarrely awarded a new contract 12 months ago, is entering his ninth year at Old Trafford, even if only a third of them, at most, were seasons to savour. He previously declined a move to Lyon that would have included a pay cut yet, especially if displaced by the younger generation of Evans and Pique, represents an unnecessary drain on the wage bill for one who does not rank among United's 22 best players.

The same applied to Kieran Richardson, whose posturing, coupled with his continued mediocrity, led to his unpopularity with the club's supporters.

The willingness of other Premier League managers to inquire about him is an indication of the rarity value of young, quick, left-footed England internationals, rather than the standard of his performance at United, and it was a surprise when he became the first meaningful departure this summer. Perhaps Roy Keane, previously assumed to be one of Richardson's critics, saw something in training to justify the excessive fee Sunderland paid.

Alan Smith is another to occupy the thoughts of Ferguson's counterparts elsewhere. United's reluctance to offer a new contract to a striker with a solitary goal since his recovery from long-term injury, along with the imminent arrival of Tevez, has highlighted his precarious position in the pecking order.

If admiration for his combative qualities abounds, a return of 12 goals in 93 games, albeit distorted by appearances in midfield and off the bench, indicate why he could be available. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer invaluable as a substitute and Louis Saha's sporadic excellence, Smith appears the forward Ferguson can dispense with (assuming the sceptics' interpretation of Dong Fangzhou's presence at Old Trafford is correct).

But leaving Old Trafford involves a drop in salary and status. It has long been suggested that few prosper after leaving United - though Ruud van Nistelrooy may have joined Paul McGrath on the list of notable exceptions - but who benefits from an extended spell in the second team?

If it is unlikely that Heinze and Smith would settle for the lucrative inactivity some squad players enjoy, plenty of others do. It is a reason why Manchester United have 45 players and, while Ferguson's lending policy will surely continue, why their squad has a bloated look.

Playing for Manchester United may amount to a dream realised but, some of their underused and unwanted players may reflect, does playing for their reserves?


Football / Arjen Robben Thread
« on: July 18, 2007, 09:02:46 AM »
Out with Robben in with Drenthe?

Robben agrees terms with Madrid 

Chelsea winger Arjen Robben has agreed personal terms over a move to Real Madrid, reports BBC Radio Five Live.
The clubs are yet to agree a fee, which is understood to be about £15m, but Robben, 23, is due to fly to the Spanish capital on Friday.

It is also believed Feyenoord's 20-year-old left winger Royston Drenthe has been lined up to replace Dutch international Robben.
Holland Under-21 star Drenthe is expected to move for £7m.

BBC Five Live's football correspondent Jonathan Legard said: "Sources in Holland say Robben has agreed personal terms on a five-year deal and is due to leave Chelsea's pre-season tour to fly to Spain on Friday.

"The two clubs have yet to agree a fee and Chelsea have maintained publicly that they want him to stay.

"But with Robben stalling on a new deal and admitting talks are not going well, I am told they are holding out for £15m. Real have so far indicated they would pay £12m."

Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon earlier admitted they were keen to sign Robben but Blues boss Jose Mourinho denied the winger was to leave the club.

Robben has two years left on his Chelsea contract but Calderon told radio station Onda Cero: "It is a negotiation which will take place in coming days or weeks.

"If the situation is favourable financially, I think that he is a player who could be brought in."

But Mourinho is in no hurry to sell, saying: "The club wants to keep these players. I trust the board and our chief executive Peter Kenyon in the negotiations he is doing.

"I know the players want to stay and I would be happy if they signed."

Robben's future has been further clouded by Chelsea's signing of Lyon winger Florent Malouda and Robben admitted on 10 July that contract talks were not going well.

The winger has been one of manager Mourinho's key players but his progress at Chelsea has been hampered by a succession of injuries.

Last season, a thigh strain and knee injury kept him on the sidelines for several weeks of the campaign.

However Mourinho said he was keen to keep Robben, despite Malouda's arrival.

Robben played 45 minutes of Chelsea's 1-0 friendly win over Suwon Bluewings at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, on Tuesday.

 I look at him as a Chelsea player and he has to compete against very good wingers like we have. I am happy with the situation

Jose Mourinho on Arjen Robben

After the match Mourinho said: "The latest with Robben is that he played the game. I cannot tell you more than that.

"At the moment he is a Chelsea player with two more years of contract and he is working well.

"For me, he is a player like Terry or Lampard with two more years of contract.

"I look at him as a Chelsea player and he has to compete against very good wingers like we have. I am happy with the situation."

Drenthe caught the eye during this summer's Uefa European Under-21 Football Championship.

The player, who can play at left-back or on the wing, has been linked with a move to a host of European clubs.


Football / 20 Worst ever Prem Footballers (Fans List)
« on: July 11, 2007, 09:34:59 AM »

20. Jimmy Carter (Arsenal, Liverpool): “Surely there's been a huge oversight here.... Jimmy Carter, surely the worst LFC player ever.” (Arnie, Northampton)

19. Paddy Roche (Manchester United). “If Massimo Taibi is on the list for that one game for Man Utd then surely Paddy Roche has to be on the list for every game he played!” (Steve F, Birstall, W. Yorks)

18. Alan Reeves (Wimbledon): “… the only top-flight defender ever to score two own goals (one a volley from 30 yards) and concede a penalty in the same game.” (James, London)

17. Robert Rosario (Norwich City, Nottingham Forest). “I remember a newspaper article describing Robert Rosario as being as effective as a plank of wood. He was never that good when I saw him.” (Percy, London).,

16. Igor Stepanovs (Arsenal): “If Igor Stepanovs does not make it into the top 3, I hope the 47 previous players all sue The Times for the slander of even daring to suggest that they were worse than him.”

15. Agustin Delgado (Southampton). “Another turkey for Saints. 11 appearances in 3 seasons and no goals! About as useful as a chocolate teapot!” (Tom Chapman, Southampton, UK).

14. Florin Raducioiu (West Ham). “Surely one of Mr. Redknapp’s worst signings.” (Adam, Northants.)

13. Ralph Milne (Manchester United). “Even Stretford Enders have been known to groan when his name was announced” (Grub, Surbiton, Surrey)

12. Corrado Grabbi (Blackburn Rovers). “Can't believe you've let Souness get away with the one and only 'Ciccio' Grabbi. Signed for £6m from some Italian Serie B club, picked up probably £40K per week over 2 or 3 seasons, played no more than 15 games. Woeful not the word !!” (Dave G, Warrington)

11. Juan Sebastain Veron (Manchester United, Chelsea). “How has nobody mentioned Juan Sebastian Veron!?! Cost us a fortune and was complete crap! Then went to Chelsea for a sizeable sum, and was still crap!” (Monty the Man Utd fan, Hemel Hempstead).,

10. Pascal Cygan (Arsenal): “What a relief it's been for us Gooners to see the back of him. A large fridge would have better movement than that joke.” (Danny O'B, Buncrana, Donegal).

9. Fumaca (Newcastle United): “If Fumaca, the only Brazilian ever to be unable to take a first touch, does not get in the top 25, then this list is a sham.” (Steven Ord, Newcastle). “The only Brazilian capable of falling over a ball when trying to trap it.” (Steve K, Newcastle)

8. Djimi Traore (Liverpool, Charlton Athletic, Portsmouth): “Watching him is like waiting for an accident to happen - you want to look away but can’t.” (Steve, London).

7. Paul Okon (Middlesbrough, Watford (loan), Leeds United). “Would have trouble making a Sunday pub side.” (Howard Broadwell, Nottingham, England).

6. Bruno Cheyrou (Liverpool). “Bruno (Zidane) Cheyrou, bought for looking a little bit similar!” (Simon, Macclesfield)

5. Jon Dahl Tommasson (Newcastle United). “His period in Newcastle was AWFUL.... he's is probably capable of filling that whole list alone” (Peter Ley, Aarhus, Danmark).

4. Silvio Maric (Newcastle United): “a waste of a shirt peg. Actually Newcastle could probably put out a first eleven players who would all make this list.” (Bruce, Dublin, Ireland)

3. Marcelino (Newcastle United): “Missed half a season with a broken finger.” (demondegs, Coventry); “he had a better influence on the match when he was in the sick room” (Pabs, Newcastle upon Tyne)

And in joint first place, by overwhelming popular demand:

1. Titus Bramble and Jean-Alain Boumsong (Newcastle United).

“Oh save my soul. You have got to give praise to Titus Bramble and Jean Alain Boumsong, the best defensive pairing ever in the history of football.” (Kwame Asante, London).

“Titus the Terrible is a shocking omission. I've never seen one player strike fear into his own set of fans so much as Bramble, and then there's his sidekick, Boumsong the boy blunder.” (Danny O'B, Buncrana, Donegal)

“Boumsong …couldn't read the play, couldn't tackle without hacking a man down, couldn't mark, no positional sense....not bad for a defender.” (YMW, London)

“Bramble and Boumsong formed the worst defensive partnership I have ever seen. The funny thing is: why did every Newcastle manager over the last 7 years insist on playing Bramble? They've all been sacked and rightly so.” Alex, Southampton).

Football / Gallas to Wenger: Show me You're serious!
« on: July 09, 2007, 06:00:33 PM »,,2002390000-2007310584,00.html

WILLIAM GALLAS has hinted he will walk away from Arsenal if the club do not match his ambition.

Gallas, 29, joined the Gunners from Chelsea last August with Ashley Cole heading in the opposite direction.

But while Cole enjoyed Carling Cup and FA Cup glory with the Blues, Gallas endured a frustrating season as Arsene Wenger's men finished empty-handed.

And Gallas, who has already seen French team-mate Thierry Henry quit the Emirates, is running out of patience.

The defender said: "Today I am at Arsenal but I do not know what can occur tomorrow — it all happens so quickly in the world of football.

"I will have a discussion with Arsene Wenger and the board to discover the objectives of the club this season.

"It is important to know what they will do to build an even more competitive team."

Gallas also fears Henry's departure has left a number of Arsenal stars considering their position.

He added: "What is sure, is that several players are questioning the club's future.

"Around us, all the teams are recruiting but what is planned to compensate for the departure of Thierry?

"I am not at Arsenal to play for third place.

"It is necessary to recruit players of reputation because the young players have many qualities but the season is very long.

"The young players are thirsty for victories but Arsenal must obtain results to gain titles


Kinda sad though that a player, a "Captain" could sign a 4 year contract just 1 year ago and talk all kinda big talks bout he is a "Arsenal Player for Life," then the next year take a shit on them and abandon he troops.  That is 2 captains in 3 years! Arsenal players are full of allegiance boy   ;)

Imagine, non-prem Charlton Refusing to let Darren Bent go for anything less that 17 mill and Henry leaving for 16!  Arsenal do it again! letting go their best players for peanuts....

Dumpalwie, Jahyouth....whey allyuh?  :) BTW, ah go be using pure organic Sea-Salt for them wounds over the next couple months  ;) not the cheap artificial stuff.

Barcelona sign Henry 
Henry appears set for a move to Spain    

Barcelona are in talks with Arsenal with a view to signing Thierry Henry, BBC Sport understands.
Officials for the Spanish club are in London negotiating with the Gunners over a reported £16m transfer fee.   Barcelona hope to close the deal by next week for Arsenal's record goalscorer who has long been linked with a move to the Nou Camp.

The 29-year-old's agent, Jeff Weston, told BBC Sport: "The SEM Group have no comment to make."

Earlier in June, the agency rubbished reports from France that the Arsenal star has agreed a provisional three-year contract with Barcelona.

Henry signed a new four-year contract with the Gunners last year but appeared to cast doubt on his future in June when he said he was flattered by interest from AC Milan.

This came after he said he was "devastated" when Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein left the club in April because of "irreconcilable differences" with the rest of the board. Both and Barcelona had both declared their interest in the player, who has been constantly linked with a big-money move away from Arsenal for the last few summers.

Meanwhile, former Arsenal team-mate Patrick Vieira told BBC Five Live that he feared Henry would leave the Gunners if the Premiership side did not bring several world-class players.

"If Arsenal bring two or three big names that will show Thierry that they want to compete," said the current Inter Milan player.

"If that's not the case Thierry will ask himself what is the best for him."


Football / Chelsea Win Race for Malouda
« on: June 19, 2007, 06:59:48 PM »

Chelsea Win Malouda Race - Report
Chelsea have reportedly won the race to sign Florent Malouda from French champions Lyon

The French winger has seemed destined to be leaving Lyon this summer with the Premiership his most likely destination, but it had been felt that Liverpool were the frontrunners for his signature.

However, it has now emerged that FA Cup winners Chelsea have beaten Rafael Benitez's side to sign the 28-year-old, according to French radio station RMC.

As part of the deal Lassana Diarra will move in the oppostie direction on loan.

Malouda had said earlier this summer: "Liverpool and Chelsea have shown their interest. I don't know how it's going to end but in my head I'm going to leave (Lyon)."

He added: "At Chelsea there is Didier Drogba, as well as everybody else, but then at Liverpool, they have such a good coach and the team has played in two Champions League finals in three years.

"The most important thing for me will be the desire shown by the club. To go and play abroad, you really need to be wanted."

Jose Mourinho has been busy this summer having already signed Steve Sidwell, Claudio Pizarro and Tal Ben Haim - all of which have arrived on a free transfer, whereas Malouda will cost roughly £17m.

Football / Avery John on Fox Soccer Channel @ 6:30 ET, June 16th
« on: June 16, 2007, 10:38:25 AM »
New England Revs vs Columbus crew today on Fox Soccer Channel @ 6:30 pm.  The coach has given him the nod to start. The "blad-ist" is back in action....Bless them warrior!

Football / The antithesis of the Abramovich era
« on: June 05, 2007, 03:23:10 PM »

From the $64 million man to the $1 dollar man; Chelsea's summer spending has taken a turn that, 12 months ago, was utterly unexpected. Admittedly, Andriy Shevchenko's British record transfer does not quite equate to $64 million, but the cost of bringing PSV's Brazilian defender Alex to Stamford Bridge will be only a single dollar.

Strictly speaking, a closer comparison with Shevchenko is Claudio Pizarro, a possible partner or potential replacement, who has arrived on a free transfer. So, too, has midfielder Steve Sidwell. The last of the big spenders are now the surprise spendthrifts. It is as though Imelda Marcos suddenly renounced shoes, and parsimony does not suit Chelsea.

The perversity of Chelsea is that when all others are paying more, they are spending less. Even if the wages of their trio of recruits will be sizeable and a considerable fee was paid for Alex before he was farmed out on loan to PSV Eindhoven, it will be three new faces in the squad for $1. It is tempting to suggest that little more than 50p should be required to secure a better central defender than Khalid Boulahrouz.

Yet this comes when Manchester United's expenditure is around £50 million, even before the addition of a striker, and Liverpool's could be in the same bracket, if Rick Parry can actually secure Rafael Benitez's chosen targets. It is also at a time when the upwardly mobile Tottenham, Aston Villa and West Ham seem intent on speculating to accumulate.

Chelsea's transfer policy, once noted for blank cheques, is now greeted with blank looks. Last year, besides Shevchenko and Michael Ballack's arrival on a Bosman, £16million was committed for John Obi Mikel, £8million paid for Salomon Kalou and, including William Gallas in part-exchange, £5million for Ashley Cole. And, in many respects, that represented an average summer for Chelsea.

Now they are set to have three players for $1. Then factor in Glen Johnson, returning from a season's loan and Portsmouth, and Tal Ben Haim, the January target whose contract at Bolton expires in the summer, and it could be five newcomers at an average cost of 10p. Twelve months after Chelsea's costliest signing was Shevchenko, now it is Danny Philliskirk, the £200,000 teenager from Oldham who, it is to be presumed, will not be in first-team contention just yet.

But Chelsea's expenditure in the January transfer market was non-existent. Roman Abramovich insists his commitment to Chelsea has not lessened, but the money granted to Jose Mourinho appears to have done.

The sheer scale of his wealth suggests the Russian is an astute businessman. Chelsea have long declared their ambition to break even by 2009. Two years ahead of schedule, they should make a profit on their transfer dealings this summer if, say, any of Boulahrouz, Paulo Ferreira, Shaun Wright-Phillips or even Shevchenko are sold.

Besides their minimal cost, the newcomers have another thing in common: none are African. With Mourinho set to lose Mikel, Kalou, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien for a month of next season due to the African Nations Cup, that seemed a priority.

Moreover, after their flirtation with superstars, in the shape of Shevchenko and Ballack, an evident failure of last summer, it is a reversion to the lower-profile signings Mourinho seems to prefer. Nonetheless, at least one bigger buy was anticipated - perhaps Carlos Tevez or David Villa - to lessen the goal-scoring load on Drogba. Chelsea may still require more inspiration in attack, but a fully fit Joe Cole and Arjen Robben may provide that anyway.

If Drogba appears the epitome of a Mourinho signing - criticised initially for his price tag and his behaviour, followed later by Essien and, to a lesser extent, Ricardo Carvalho - the manager was vindicated by the Ivorian's excellence last season.

Could Pizarro emulate him? At 28, his age upon arrival is nearer to that of Shevchenko and Ballack than Drogba and Essien, who had more time to acclimatise. He arrives, at least, with a proven goalscoring record, albeit with a reputation as a reserve.

The move for Sidwell, targeted by many of the Premiership's ambitious middle class, at least secures a proven performer in England, though he has a solitary season in the top flight. Yet Alex, on the basis of his defensive dominance for PSV and Chelsea's desperate requirement for cover for Carvalho and John Terry, appears to be the best. Nonetheless, it is highly possible that none will figure in Mourinho's first-choice team, and especially unlikely Sidwell will do.

There is an element of opportunism in capitalising on the Bosman ruling and it is plausible that Mourinho, ever keen to foster a siege mentality, would relish succeeding on a limited budget; yet, while Manchester United look for the long-term successors to Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, Chelsea seem short-termist in their approach.

That, in itself, suggests instability is not at an end, even if Mourinho's suggestion that the age of his key players, Claude Makelele apart, means he need not think about replacements yet. An alternative explanation is that it is easier to forge a team without the super-sized egos of the superannuated.

Nonetheless, while it was conceivable that Arsenal could endure a summer without spending, few imagined Chelsea could. In many respects, it is the antithesis of their approach in the Abramovich era. It would also confound the orthodoxy of the football transfer market if the best buys were free. Jose Mourinho certainly hopes that his will be

Football / Milan Gunnin' for Henry
« on: June 04, 2007, 02:31:16 PM »

AC Milan admit interest in Henry 
AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that the Italian club want to sign Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. Henry, 29, has long been linked with a move to Barcelona, but Champions League winners Milan now say they want the Frenchman to come to the San Siro.

"Henry is a great striker and among the players that we are interested in," said Ancelotti.

"Our wish is to acquire a midfielder and a striker but they're all difficult signings to make."

Ricardo Oliveira, who joined from Real Betis last summer, has failed to make an impact at Milan while Alberto Gilardino is out of favour with Ancelotti and has already expressed his intention to leave the club.

"There is no reason why Gilardino's wish to leave the club cannot come true as we can find an adequate player in exchange," said Ancelotti.

"Last summer there weren't many players who wanted to come to Milan but there are more now.

"There's one none of you would suspect and if I was to tell you the world would end. We're delighted he wants to play for Milan."

Last week, Henry played down reports he was set to quit the Gunners after being linked with Barca and Inter Milan.

Henry said: "Since I started playing football there has been speculation about me going to a lot of clubs and that will never, ever stop.

"But as I said, for now I'm an Arsenal player, so there is nothing to add to it."

Henry signed a new four-year contract last summer but has since been plagued by injuries and has grown frustrated at Arsenal's inability to mount a title challenge.

"It was pretty difficult to see once again that we finished so far away from the top teams," added Henry, whose side finished fourth in the Premiership in the 2006-2007 campaign.

"It's always the same top four and I'm actually getting annoyed that we're finishing at the end of the top four now."

Football / Chelsea sign Pizzaro, Alex will only cost $1 in the summer
« on: June 01, 2007, 11:04:35 AM »
Chelsea Sign Pizarro – Report
Bayern Munich striker Claudio Pizarro has joined Chelsea on a free transfer, according to reports.

The Peruvian is out of contract with the Bavarians and it was no secret he was looking to peruse a fresh challenge.

Glasgow Rangers and Juventus were reportedly in the hunt for the striker, but according to The Times, Chelsea have won the race for his signature.

The departure of Didier Deschamps from Juventus appears to have ended the Bianconeri’s interest in Pizarro.

Chelsea have yet to confirm the deal but their interest has been strongly mooted in recent days and the signing would appear to fit in with the new transfer philosophy at Stamford Bridge.

The club are ready to limit their spending and have already secured Steve Sidwell on a free transfer from Reading.
PSV Eindhoven’s Alex is also set to arrive this summer for a token one dollar as he is already owned by the Blues.
Pizarro has scored 97 goals in 229 games for Bayern.

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