Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Alonso sets an ultimatum...kind of anyway

Xabi Alonso seems to have set the bizzarest ultimatum yet in the world of football. The Spanish midfielder has apparently told his agent to seal a move to Real Madrid by July 19 or he will stay at Liverpool.


These claims of course come from the Daily Mail, which if you haven't realised now, often has trouble separating fact from fiction. Nonetheless, what does this mean? Does Alonso want to go or not? Why is he leaving it all up to his agent? And what the hell happens after July 19? Bad fengshui joining a Spanish club after that date? What gives?

The fact is, Liverpool have said nothing about a possible transfer of Alonso with nearly everyone from Torres to ball boys insisting the midfield pair of Alonso and Mascherano must remain at Anfield. Then again, if I recall, Liverpool denied until the very last minute they were going to sell Robbie Keane back to Spurs after six months. So I'd give that Daily Mail story another chance.

Still, why is Alonso bent on joining Real, especially if the Spanish giants land Bayern Munich's wantaway star Franck Ribbery. Where exactly will Alonso fit in the grand scheme of things or more precisely, how the heck is Alonso going to be guaranteed first team placing when there's a midfield packed with the likes of Ronaldo, Kaka and Ribbery? Then again, Real Madrid's billions have a way of convincing footballers the sillest things...

Monday, June 29, 2009

City's bid for Eto'o accepted

That crazy gang at Man City have done it again, this time with an GBP25 million bid for Samuel Eto'o, which, if it goes through, could see the Cameroon striker earn an audacious GBP250,000 a week!

So far, reports quoting Eto'o's agent say the striker will turn it down despite the possibility to gross GBP12 million a year. But in the world we live in, anything can happen and there are just as many reports out there that claim Eto'o is set to sign a deal with City.

Nonetheless, one wonders if there's any semblance of sanity at the City camp. They've already signed on Roque Santa Cruz and are expected to seal an agreement with Carlos Tevez in the coming weeks. That means, plus Robinho and Eto'o, City would have four world class strikers. And if for some reason they decided to keep Craig Bellamy, that makes it five strikers.

Five strikers. What on earth is Mark Hughes planning to do with five strikers? These aren't your run of the mill strikers, mind you. These are expensive talented strikers with even bigger egos. Try to bench them and you'll find them requesting for a transfer come January. And please don't bother telling Bellamy he's not as good as the other four. He might swing a golf stick at you.

But on a more serious note, how will Hughes decided which striker gets to play considering they're among the best in the world and leaving them on the bench would be stupidest thing to do. Well, signing all four of them is the stupidest thing to do. Keeping half of them on the bench would be the second stupidest thing to do.

There's always the possibility Sparky may choose to play some of them in different positions. But that too is rather stupid.

So where will he play them? Even if we assume Tevez has a change of heart and goes to Chelsea, City would still have four strikers. Ok, let's say Bellamy gets the boot. We've still got three world class strikers. What's Sparky going to do? Play three strikers the way Barcelona does?

Maybe. But Barcelona's three world class strikers are capable of doing what they do because:

a) Messi and Henry can actually operate as wingers
b) they've already got world class midfielders behind them which City most certainly don't have

So what is the real game plan here? It is worth noting that the bid for Eto'o comes not too long after Robinho claimed he wanted Eto'o at City. And if you recall, it was Robinho who also said he wanted Carlos Tevez at Man City.

So is Robinho the one calling all the shots at City? Now, that'll be hilarious if it were true.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

He said he said

The world is a big place, but when it comes to football, it can be a small planet ... especially when it comes to what footballers are supposed to have told willing journalists. Case in point is Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas. Only recently, the midfield maestro was supposed to have said, several times, that a move back to his native Spain could be a possibility with only the time frame differing from publication to publication. He was even recently to been quoted as saying that Arsenal were 'impotent' and a quick return to La Liga would add spice to his already saucy game.

Now, senor Fabregas was being interviewed in a Spanish publication but, only a couple of hours flight time away, the UK press got hold of the report, probably fed the story through Babelfish (although we can't discount that some of the British hacks can speak more than one language), and 'voila' instant controversy to be fed to the hungry masses eager to satisfy their footy fix. And Fabregas is not the first footy player to have said something in another language only to have it rammed back down their throats in another.

The fact is, there's a demand for such controversies, especially now in the silly season between football seasons. Footballers (and their advisors) should take note of what they say. Even in jest, words and sometimes whole sentences can be taken out of context ... and that can always get someone in trouble. The moral of the story then is, watch what you say or be prepared to eat humble pie. Case in point, see Fabregas' apology of sorts on the Arsenal website.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sheva wants to come home (sort of)

You might remember this chap named Andriy Shevchenko. Comes from Ukraine, looks a bit like that actor Ethan Hawke. Yes, that's right, him. He's the guy who scored a gazillion goals at AC Milan and then threw it all away for money by going to Chelsea where he ended up scoring bumpkus and then went crying back to Milan. Yep, that guy.

Well, now he wants a second chance at Chelsea. See, turns out Stamford Bridge wasn't really Sheva's kryptonite as his second stint with Milan was worse than his first with the Blues. And with a grand total of zero goals in 17 matches for the Rossoneri, Sheva has wisely opted for a return to Chelsea as chances are slim the Italian giants would want to retain him for another season.

Also, big daddy Carlo Ancelotti, who's always been nice to Sheva, is now at Stamford Bridge and for all we know, might actually give the Ukrainian striker another chance, especially if Chelsea's efforts to bring in Carlos Tevez don't materialise.

But Sheva better learn quickly that the fall from grace in football can be quite unforgiving and if he doesn't make the cut, he could end up in some mid-table club in the Premier League. That would indeed be quite a shame for a footballer that was once Europe's best.

And he only has to look as far as Michael Owen, who at one time was also the best in Europe. Today, he finds himself in a Championship side unless a move to Hull materialises. Imagine that. Hull City's coming to Owen's rescue. There was a time when the likes of Hull wouldn't have been to get through to someone like Owen on the phone let alone enter negotiations with him. It's quite sad, really.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Not the best of weekends for both Reds

Yes, it most certainly wasn't the best of weekends for England's most two famous sides - Manchester United and Liverpool.

First up was Man Utd. When the Devils first announced they were selling Ronaldo for a staggering GBP80 million, there was much hope among United fans that the money would be invested in acquiring new quality footballers like David Villa and would also be spent on retaining the services of Carlos Tevez.

Alas, none of the above have happened. Villa has been taken off the market by Valencia and Tevez has rejected a new and improved deal by Man Utd. So United, by all accounts, despite being extremely cash rich, have lost two key players in just a month.

And should Fergie fail to bring in adequate replacements soon, the loss of these two players will bear a heavy consequence on United title challenge next season. Nonetheless, there's still plenty of time left before the new season kicks off.

As for Liverpool, things haven't been any better. First, Tevez ruled out a move to Anfield, citing his "emotional" tie with Man U fans. I wonder how they're feeling right now after he rejected the club's latest offer which, according to some reports, would have made him one of the highest players in the club. Similarly, I wonder if Man U fans will feel better if Tevez goes to Man City or Chelsea.

Besides Tevez, the other blow to the Anfield club came in the form of a counter-offer for Glen Johnson from Chelsea. Yes, it turns out Chelsea too have gone mad and are ready to splash GBP17 million on a defender deemed surplus to requirements two seasons ago. And the GBP17 million price tag they're willing to pay is twice the amount the sold for. Way to go, Chelsea!

Speaking of Chelsea, reports from the Daily Mail claim the Blues are ready to swoop in to bring Xabi Alonso to Stamford Bridge. Now, it's no big secret that Carlo Ancelotti has been a fan of Alonso for quite sometime. But I somehow can't see Alonso working well at Chelsea alongside Frank Lampard. If you recall, Lamps got sent off for a very debatable tackle on Alonso last season.

Either way, I wonder what the Blues would do with yet another midfielder now that they already have Lampard, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel. It doesn't really make much sense but then again the Daily Mail rarely does.

Even if the Alonso rumours turn out to be false, Liverpool fans can't be too pleased in knowing that their only confirmed acquisition for the summer -the one and only Glen Johnson- is now in limbo.

Still, there's a bit of good news for Liverpool fans. George Gillette is apparently selling of his ice hockey franchise in the NHL for some US$500 million which could be used to shore up Liverpool's finances. The only question is how much bigger of a budget will Benitez be given and when?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tevez leaves United!

As speculated, Carlos Tevez will not be a Man Utd player next season. The BBC says the Argentine forward has decided to leave Old Trafford despite United meeting the GBP25.5 million fee to keep Tevez permanently on a five-year deal.

So where will he be heading to? Now that the player has supposedly ruled out a move to Liverpool, the only viable candidates in the running for the player's signature is Real Madrid, Chelsea and, you guessed it, Man City. I doubt Man City's on his mind and now that Sparky's signed on Roque Santa Cruz, I don't seem them splashing out a fortune for yet another striker. Then again, it is Man City.

Hence, Real Madrid and Chelsea would seem the likeliest destination. More to come.

Villa not for sale

With no money and mounting debts, Valencia have funnily enough decided to take David Villa off the market. After weeks of rumours of an impending move, the latest announcement by Valencia does come as quite of a surprise but it's not the first time we've heard a club announce a player is not for sale only to sell him a few days later.

According to some reports, despite all the supposed interest in Villa from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man Utd, Chelsea Liverpool, Valenica has received zero bids so far for their prized asset.

Still, I wonder if Valencia will insist on keeping the "not-for-sale" sign on Villa should a very attractive offer present itself. It seems inevitable that Villa will leave Valencia. A player with that kind of calibre needs something better.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Down the Grapevine

Now that David Villa has taken centre stage alongside Franck Ribery in this week's transfer rumour mill, The Sun claims the Spanish striker will only move to England if it's to play for Liverpool.

The UK tabloid apparently learnt this bit of news from some of Villa's "close friends" who say the Valencia forward will only play for the Merseysiders due to his admiration for Rafa Benitez and friendship with another compatriot, Fernando Torres.

While we're at it, he'd probably fancy a move to Liverpool instead of the other Premier League clubs as Spanish is getting close to becoming the main language in the Anfield dressing room. Plus, deciphering Alex Ferguson's order's through his thick Scottish accent is no easy task.

No one knows how the Sun gets away with its reporting standards as Villa may very well be headed to England this summer although Liverpool look like an unlikely destination due to their financial woes, especially now that the club is willing to pay GBP17 million for Glen Johnson. Then again, maybe there's a secret stash hidden somewhere at Anfield as it would seem like sheer madness to blow your entire budget on someone like Johnson!

Remember these guys?

With all the focus on the big guns, we seemed to have overlooked some smaller but important potential transfers in the league.
First up, it seems as though David Bentley, the one time blue-eyed boy of English football, is ready to quit Tottenham after a miserable season there to join Martin O'Neill's British revolution at Villa Park. Talks between both clubs are reportedly ongoing with Spurs ready to sell the forward for cut price of GBP7 million.

Of course, I can help but wonder if this has anything to do with the Londoners' supposed bid to bring Arjen Robben to the club. All the same, Bentley could do with a fresh start somewhere else and if there's one man who'd get the job done, it would be Martin O'Neill. And this could be what Bentley needs to revive his career.

Besides the England man, another forward who somehow dropped out of the radar is Paraguayan international, Roque Santa Cruz, who has been eying a move out of Ewood Park ever since Sparky went to Man City. Reports suggest a deal is imminent as both clubs are looking to end the season-long saga.

Now, no one doubts Santa Cruz' abilities but I have my doubts as to whether he'll be able to rediscover his scoring touch in a team as mismanaged as Citeh.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Now Chelsea want Tevez?

With all the hoopla surrounding Ronaldo, Kaka, Villa and Ribery, it would seem as though everyone's forgotten about Carlos Tevez. Apparently not.

Carlo Ancelotti, who has made no signings since being appointed at Chelsea, is reportedly interested in bringing in Carlos Tevez to Stamford Bridge. Reports say the Italian has personally approached Tevez and wants the Argentine star to be part of his so-called "revolution" at Stamford Bridge.

If these reports are true, it will come as a huge blow to the likes of Mark Hughes who just can't get seem to get anyone besides Gareth Barry to join his "revolution" at Man City. (Seems like there's just too many revolutions going on at the moment..).

Liverpool fans who've been harboring some hope of seeing Tevez line-up along side Fernando Torres next season may also have to give that dream up seeing as to how Benitez is about ready spend GBP17 million on Glen Johnson.

As for theories on the net Ferguson will utilise part of the cash raised from the sale of Ronaldo to buy Tevez? I somehow don't see that materialising because Fergie could've bought him a season ago when he had all that cash he ended up using to buy the Bulgarian version of Le Sulk.

And so far, Bayern Munich have confirmed United are interested in Ribery and with the way footballers are being priced these days, I don't think Fergie will have much left in his transfer budget for someone like Tevez. If United get Ribery, that is.

Munich have yet to put a price tag on the Frenchman yet but earlier in the year, the club's general manager, Uli Hoeness slapped a EURO150 million tag on Ribery and I'm guessing after Ronaldo, the price may have gotten a little higher.

But I've been digressing a little here. If Tevez does go to Chelsea, Ancelotti will perhaps have the strongest attacking line-up in England. The Argentine has previously shown his abilities in adapting to different styles of play quite quickly and should he develop an understanding with Drogba, Anelka and Lampard, the Blues will definitely be in the running for both the Premiership and the Champions League next season.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Villa and Ribery

As Man Utd and Real Madrid get ready to do business over Ronaldo's transfer out of Old Trafford, the two clubs may start bucking horns again real soon. If the reports out of Fleet Street's finest newsrooms are to be believed, it would appear as though both United and Madrid are really keen on signing David Villa and Franck Ribery.

On Madrid's part, after blowing nearly GBP140 million for two attack-minded players, it would only seem natural that Florentino Perez would be out scouting for a few more attacking footballers. It's just his style, man. And to answer a recent commentator on Final Kick, who the hell needs to defenders when you've got the best attacking line-up in the world. Remember, offense is the best form of defense.

Ok, no. I haven't a clue of the kind of team Perez is assembling and I highly doubt Manuel Pellegrini has even the slightest say on Real's transfer policy. Like I mentioned in an earlier blog posting, having Ronaldo, Kaka and Ribery in your team line-up is great on paper but a whole different matter on the field.

As for United, the speculation over Ribery's been going on for sometime now ever since the subject of Ronaldo leaving Manchester was first mooted. David Villa? Well, just about every club wants him.

Now we all know Sir Alex will have plenty to spend once the Ronaldo deal is settled but both Ribery and Villa may be a little ambitious. After all, thanks to the good folks at Madrid, every club is placing the most ridiculous price-tags on their star assets (Ibrahimovic is now worth EURO90 million).

Buying another striker in the form of David Villa makes little sense when you've already got a huge attacking line-up. Assuming Carlos Tevez leaves, United still have Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov. But should Villa come to Old Trafford, which one of the two will have give up his first team place? And is another striker really going to fill up the void that will be left when Ronaldo goes?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eighty-freaking million for Ronaldo?

"Now I understand I made the best decision. I am with Manchester in body and soul."

The divine quote above was uttered by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo in August 2008 after a proposed deal with Real Madrid collapsed. Ronaldo would go on repeat the above quote, or something similar, several more times over the following 10 months, with the latest during a pre-match Champions League press conference in April.

And it goes to show you that Ronaldo, much like his future teammate Kaka, is either a very fickle minded human being or just a pathological liar. But he's not the only liar. Man Utd, which only a year ago refused to entertain any semblance of an offer for Ronaldo, wasted no time in announcing Madrid's bid was accepted.

Of course, why wouldn't they? If Madrid's crazy enough to offer GBP80 million, United would be stupid to turn it down when you consider the fact that Ronaldo is most certainly not worth GBP80 million based on his performance last season.

All the same, if this offer was made 12 months ago when Ronaldo was, at that time, arguably the best player in the world, chances are high United would have turned it down.

But that's not the only thing United's lied about. In their statement on their website, the club states that it has accepted Madrid's bid after "the request of Cristiano - who has again expressed his desire to leave - and after discussion with the player's representatives, United have agreed to give Real Madrid permission to talk to the player."

Yeah, that's right. United only decided to accept Madrid's after Ronaldo requested for a transfer. It has nothing to do with the fact the offer on the table is GBP80 million. Throw in another GBP20 million and Alex Ferguson can buy Newcastle United and use St James Park as the Devils' new training ground.

But that's all in the past now. The big question is whether this move will actually elevate the Spanish giants to European champions once more. On paper, or on Championship Manager, having Ronaldo and Kaka in the same team is akin to having the best team in the world. But what works on paper doesn't exactly translate to the same thing on the pitch as exemplified by the previous incarnation of the Galacticos.

More so, one wonders how Kaka feels about the bid for Ronaldo. I'm sure he won't take pride in knowing that he was the world's most expensive player for only week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Prof in Kuala Lumpur!

Arsene Wenger was recently in Kuala Lumpur as part of his role as Castrol's global ambassador. Yes, Arsene Wenger is promoting motor oil. Then again, everyone needs to make some money and looking at Arsenal's financial's, they could certainly use the extra cash!

Speaking of the Gunners, they're another club that's been awfully quiet in this transfer window. Knowing Wenger, he's probably identified some under 21 footballers in France as transfer targets.

And while no one can deny the fact that Wenger has a really good eye for young talent, I still believe the Gunners need some players with experience and maturity to add that little extra that is needed to fight for titles.

PS: Special thanks to Faisal Shah of Autocar Asean for the photo.

Profitable Group to bid for Newcastle

It just gets stranger and stranger every day. Just days after Mike Ashley put Newcastle up for sale at GBP100 million (Yes, for GBP100 million, you can either buy Kaka and Ronaldo or Newcastle), the BBC reports Singapore-based Profitable Group are keen on buying the Magpies.

And it also goes on to say that among the directors of the Profitable Group include former Liverpool player and current ESPN Star Sports commentator, Steve McMahon. Additionally, the former Kop legend Kenny Dalglish and another ESPN commentator, Paul Maysfield, are members of the company's executive team.

The report adds the group will keep Alan Shearer if they end up taking over the club. But I wonder if McMahon and Maysfield will still remain as commentators on ESPN.

While it's good to hear that there are people who think there is still hope at Newcastle, I'm not sure the Profitable Group's investors will be too keen on an investment that will not make them any returns for quite sometime. Even if the Toon get back into the Premier League in two seasons, there's no guarantee they'll be making money. And once they're in the Premier League, they'll need to spend money acquiring good footballers just to stay afloat.

No, buying football clubs is not something you do if you want to make money.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ronaldo next?

As widely expected, Brazilian midfield ace, Kaka, has joined Real Madrid for GBP59 million. His move also signifies the beginning of the second phase of Florentino Perez' Galacticos experiment at Madrid. It also signifies that Mr Perez, as delusional as he is, is a man of his word.

And since he's said signing Cristiano Ronaldo is next on his to-do list for this summer, we might as well assume Ronaldo will be at the Bernebau next season.

But before we get carried away wondering whether this "dream midfield partnership" comprising Kaka and Ronaldo will actually translate to some success for Madrid, I'd like to point out the hypocrisy in some of the things the Brazilian star said in his first press conference after leaving AC Milan.

To claim that he's joining Madrid because of Milan's financial woes is about the worst excuse anyone's ever given to leave a club. (If only Luis Figo had thought of this when he left Barcelona to join Madrid). If Kaka was only leaving the Rossoneri to shore up Berlusconi's bank account then he should've gone to Chelsea. Or even Man City.

He also claims to have been contemplating a move to Madrid for sometime now. Was this around the same time he kept insisting to the world he would remain in Italy with Milan? And lastly, he adds that some precious advice from pal David Beckham sealed the deal. I don't know how to put this but the last person Beckham convinced to join Madrid was Michael Owen and we all know how that turned out.

As for Ronaldo moving to Madrid, it seems pretty clear that Perez is willing to do what it takes to bring in the biggest names in football to the Bernebau to create the Galacticos version 2.0 so I guess we can expect an offer to be made to Man Utd in the next few days. And this time, I don't think Ferguson's going to resist as much.

But will Kaka and Ronaldo make the desired impact? Apart from increasing Real Madrid's t-shirt sales immediately, there's no guarantee the two will hit it off on the pitch (especially when you consider Ronaldo's tantrums whenever he's not in the limelight).

And even if they do somehow develop an understanding on the pitch and return Madrid to its winning ways, is that a guarantee there will no longer be overshadowed by Barcelona?

Monday, June 8, 2009

You've got to be kidding..

By now, most of us have become pretty familiar with the financial crisis taking place at Anfield. And as a result, it looks likely that Rafa Benitez will miss out on some his summer targets and may have to settle on some alternatives that will fit his miniscule budget.

But this is taking it too far.

The Sunday Mirror claims Liverpool is set to make a shock bid to bring Peter Crouch back to Anfield. The report goes on to say the Reds will make a bid of GBP4 million for the striker, which is approximately half of the price Liverpool sold the England international to Porthsmouth a year ago.

However, it says that it is unclear of Crouch wants to make the move having failed to establish a regular first team place at Liverpool. Yeah, that's the only stumbling block for this purported move. I think there was a reason why Crouch spent most of his Liverpool career on the bench. After all, has anyone seen a striker that tall who's that bad at heading?

What's more puzzling is the fact that Benitez is also supposedly interested in signing Crouch's teammate at Porthsmouth, Glenn Johnson.

Now, there's a high chance this rumour will remain just that. But even so, this has to be perhaps one of the craziest rumours so far this season, other than the one about Sven joining Pompey. And in case you haven't heard yet, Porthsmouth have confirmed Sven will NOT be their manager next season.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cash crunch at Anfield?

While Europe's top clubs and that crazy entity named Man City have hogged all the news of late, one club in particular that's been awfully quiet is Liverpool. After missing out on signing Gareth Barry for the second season straight, there seems to be concern among Liverpool fans and even former players such as Mark Lawrenson.

And those concerns have not been eased following news Liverpool's American owners lost GBP42.6 million last year.

So far, Rafa Benitez has kept mum over his transfer plans but one wonders if that's because the Spaniard's efforts to sign top players to the Anfield outfit have so far been unsuccessful. In Gareth Barry's case, some reports say Benitez made an 11th hour attempt to keep the England midfielder from signing for Man City.

But when Benitez found out the wages Sparky was offering at City, he withdrew Liverpool's offer. At this point, its anyone's guess if Benitez withdrew his offer for Barry because he felt the former Villa man was not worth all that money or if he just couldn't come up with the funds.

At present, it seems as though Benitez' biggest targets for the summer are David Silva and, believe it or not, Glenn Johnson. And if reports are true Benitez only has GBP15 million, there's no way he'll have enough cash to acquire both players (Yes, Pompey think Johnson's worth some GBP 10 million. Is that inflation or what?)

As such, the popular theory is Xabi Alonso will be sold to raise funds for the acquisition of Silva and Johnson. And if that's the case, Liverpool fans can stop dreaming of Carlos Tevez.

But would it really help Liverpool's cause next season if someone like Alonso were to leave the club? I might be off the mark here but I believe Alonso was one of the best players in Benitez' team last season. Speaking of last season, which was the Reds best season in recent memory, the only thing that stood between them and the Premiership were seven draws against minnows at home. If the Reds had won just three out of those seven draws, they would be champions of England, not Man Utd.

They're many reasons as to why the club failed to beat those inferior teams. In some cases, Steven Gerrard didn't play. In other cases, it was Torres who was absent from the line up. And then there games where both players were unavailable.

Benitez was right last season when he said the biggest difference between Man Utd and Liverpool was the quality of the former's squad. Anyone who doubts that should take a look at Liverpool's bench last season.

And so, Benitez needs more quality players if he wants to take Liverpool to the next level. Not that many. Just a few top notch footballers. But it will all be a waste if he has to sacrifice one of his best players first.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Banzai Kamikaze Man City

Trent said something interesting today about Manchester City's spending plans for the summer. It apparently looks like Sparky has no clear-cut idea who to buy this summer. Instead, he just opens the many gossip columns that have sprung up at most footy websites, blogs and forums, sees who the Big Four are looking to buy and then makes a bid for those players.

Actually, Trent has probably hit the nail right on the head. Mark Hughes, for no rhyme and reason, is looking to boost its midfield and attack while it's Achilles' heel, the defence, is being less attended to and, when I say "less", I mean not attended to at all. There was a team way back when that tried this experiment, Tottenham, that had 6 strikers on the books and all 6 started. The motto then was, they score 1, we score 2. It was epic, it was exciting, it led Spurs to no trophies at all.

It's said that those who do not learn from the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them again. If Man City doesn't learn from those lessons from the past, it too may repeat the same mistakes all over again. People may love you for your attacking flair, and people like Roman Abramovich may praise you for epic to-the-death football, but you won't win games without a solid team in all departments. If you can, Mark Hughes is a genius. Not much chance of that happening, then.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's a Kaka world

Make what you will of the title of this blog posting but one thing's for sure, Kaka is set to dominate the headlines until Monday next week when AC Milan finally make a decision on the Brazilian playmaker's future. That, of course, means that Kaka could still be at the San Siro next season despite all the frenzy.

What's interesting though is that the Rosoneri seem determined that Kaka will not be heading to Chelsea despite reports the Blues were willing to splurge GBP73 million to bring the Brazlian star to Stamford Bridge, especially when Madrid are reported to have made a much lower bid of Euro 65 million.

That's right, Madrid's bid was in Euros. As such, if you convert Chelsea's supposed bid in Euros, it would have been worth Euro 71.9 million. And that's the sort of cash even Florentino Perez wishes he had. So why would Milan snub Chelsea?

Maybe it's because Chelsea never made a bid in the first place. After all, where on earth would Carlo Ancelotti play Kaka when he's already got Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel in midfield? (Ricardo Carvalho has suggested he'll leave the Blues. Maybe Ancelotti could play Kaka as a centre back?)

Or was Chelsea out of consideration simply because they stole Ancelotti from Milan. Yes, Milan may have let Ancelotti go but that was only because of a supposed fallout with club owner and cheif megalomaniac, Silvio Berlusconi. And why would Berlusconi have an issue with Ancelotti? Maybe it has something to do with the fact Blues owner, Roman Abramovich had been courting Ancelotti from the time the former sacked Avram Grant. That was 12 months ago, by the way, if you're asking.

Even Ancelotti's revealed so in his autobiography, going so far as admitting he's been coaching Chelsea on paper for months! (That could also explain why Milan did so poorly in the Serie A last season). And consider what vice president Adriano Galliani said: "An agreement with Chelsea could not exist. Kaka goes to Real or he remains at Milan."

Could not exist? I wonder if Galliani was insinuating something. Or maybe the translation from Italian was bad. Nonetheless, all this is mere speculation at this point and the only club remaining in the running for Kaka is Real Madrid, who want to buy Ronaldo after they get the Brazilian star (isn't there a financial crisis going on right now?)

Still, I wonder if there'll be an 11th hour surprise from Man City in this whole saga before Monday.

City eyeing Tevez now

The craziest club in England has confirmed that they are looking to sign Carlos Tevez a day after buying Gareth Barry from Aston Villa. And it so happens that Tevez' agent, Kia Joorabchian is keen on selling the Argentine forward to City just to piss United off. Well, if this deal goes through, it will certainly piss a number of people off besides United.

Cheif among them will be Liverpool supporters who are keen to see the striker paired with Fernando Torres. While Rafa Benitez has yet to drop the slightest of hints that his interested in the player, there's a common belief Tevez is a player much at admired at Liverpool.

Should Tevez go to City, it will be second time in a week the Manchester club has stolen someone from Benitez' shopping list.

As for Tevez, we'll never really know how much of a say he'll get in deciding where he ends up. I personally don't think he'd trade Man Utd for the mid-table life of Man City. Then again, I never thought Barry would go there either.

Speaking of crazy clubs, if the Real Madrid - Ronaldo saga annoyed you last year, get prepared for another round. No, no, I'm not refering the second edition of the "Ronaldo loves Madrid" show, which by the way, should begin any day now.

No, I'm refering to the "Real Madrid wants Kaka" show. Yes, following Florentino Perez' declaration the Brazlian playmaker is one of the club's targets for the summer, reports from Spain suggest a deal has already been struck with AC Milan, only to have the Italian club deny the whole thing a few hours later. And we haven't heard from Chelsea yet. Let's just hope this new show doesn't last until August.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

So who the heck is Kleber?

Yes, just who is this Kleber guy who claims Liverpool wants to sign him? Information, in English that is, on the player is pretty limited at this time. As far as I've found out, he's 25, plays for Brazilian side, Cruzeiro, is a striker and is nicknamed the Gladiator by his fans.

More importantly, he's scored 19 goals in 19 appearances for Cruzeiro hence the supposed interest from Anfield. Stay tuned for more updates. Hopefully more info on the striker comes out or I'll just have to learn Portuguese.

In the meantime though, I do urge Final Kick readers to search for some of Kleber's performances on the field using the You Tube function on this page. Specifically, search for "Kleber, Cruzeiro."

Barry moves to City! (Updated)

The Bernabeu isn't the only source of crazy news these days. Manchester City, the place where good footballers go on vacation, is back in the limelight and this time it appears as though Sparky's gotten hold of Rafa Benitez' shopping list.

Last night, Aston Villa agreed to sell captain, Gareth Barry to Manchester City for GBP 12 million. Now, this move obviously warrants a "what the f__?" as I can't begin to see how Barry would fit in Sparky's grand plan for world domination. Then again, there may be a hint of a possibility that Martin O'Neill's preferred selling Barry to City to spite Liverpool. After all, last summer's dealings between Villa and Liverpool didn't end on a good note.

Still, even if that's the case, it seems bizzare that Barry would have even considered a move to Man City considering his lifelong ambition to play in the Champions League. Now that Barry has committed to appearing for the blue half of Manchester next season, he might as well give up on ever playing in the Champions League.

Better yet, Aston Villa has much better chance of making it into the Champions League before City does. Oh, I'm sure he'll say Sparky laid out his masterplan and indicated all the great footballers who have verbally agreed to sign on and that's what convinced him. Yeah, Sparky tried that with Kaka and we all know how that turned out.

So Barry's decided to cash in on his career and if Chelsea doesn't come knocking on your door, Man City will do.

It has to be noted that this move comes a day after the British tabloids suggested Kia Joorabchian is willing to spite Man Utd by selling Carlos Tevez to City.

Dubai buying into Milan, Real appoints new coach

The billionaires in Dubai were never going to be satisfied with just the Barclays Premier League. Hence, comes along a story that the ruler of Dubai now wants to buy a 40% stake at Italian giants AC Milan. The report adds the deal includes an option for the Dubai ruler to buy the rest of Milan within two years.

This bit of news comes after the club's general manager, Adriano Galliani, admitted it will hard for Milan to turn down offers for Kaka and Pato as the Italian giants no longer commands the kind of financial power it did in the 90s.

As such, one can see why Milan would be tempted to go for a deal with the Dubai rulers. Still, I can see a big stumbling block to the deal in the form of Silvio Berlusconi.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have hired Manuel Pellegrini to bring back the good times to the Bernabeu. Pellegrini was formerly the head coach at Villareal who finished fifth in the La Liga last season.

The fact that Madrid opted for him instead of a high-profile name speaks volumes on the direction the club intends to move towards. But is Pellegrini the right man for the job should Real's new president Florinto Perez have his way and restart the failed Galacticos programme? If Kaka, Ribery and co show up, will Pellegrini be able to keep all those egos in check?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ancelotti finally appointed!

In the world of football, rumours tend to have a way of becoming true. And so, the long standing rumour that Carlo Ancelotti will be appointed Chelsea's new manager was finally announced today.

Despite the fact the news comes as no big surprise, Ancelotti's appointment raises a lot of questions. For a man that has practically won everything with AC Milan, it is indeed a little a puzzling as to why Ancelotti would seek to risk his reputation and place in history as one of the best European managers of his generation by taking on a job that has seen three different managers over the last 18 months. Then again, I've been told you can never have enough money.

In fact, several reports in the UK as well as excerpts from Ancelotti's own autobiography indicate the Italian has been Roman Abromovich' radar ever since Avram Grant's sacking and Ancelotti himself has been "coaching" Chelsea on paper for some months now (is it a surprise Milan let him go?).

But is Ancelotti really the man Chelsea need? Don't forget that Felipe Scolari's appointment was also greated with the same amount of fan fare as Ancelotti's. And as the Brazilian found out, things in England, especially at Chelsea, can be difficult. And as it is, Ancelotti already shares one similar trait to the Brazilian: a poor command of English.

Nonetheless, Ancelotti, in his first interview with Chelsea TV (check it out here or on the youtube link on this blog) has promised to polish up his English by the time the new season gets underway in August.

But back to my earlier question as to whether Ancelotti's the right man for the Blues. One doesn't have to look much further than the two Champions League titles he won at AC Milan to see why Abramovich picked him.

Then there's the fact that every new manager at Chelsea has brought in footballers he's previously coached to the club. Mourinho and Scolari did it and Ancelotti will expected to do the same. So don't be surprised if Chelsea launch an audacious bid for Kaka some time soon. And in case Ancelotti needed some help with his summer shopping list, club captain John Terry wants his new boss to bring in both David Villa and Franc Ribery.

Last and not least, Ancelotti will be expected to bring Chelsea back as the champions of English football and implement Abramovich' much desired attacking football.

Its hard to see Ancelotti fulfilling all these demands. He certainly has the experience needed to lead Chelsea to its first Champions League but it's something that could take some time but Abramovich may want to see the results in the coming season itself.

As for player acquisitions, it might take a bit more to convince Kaka to make the move. The same goes for Ribery and Villa. However, Ancelotti is a respected manager, so he might excel in this department.But Italian will have his work cut out for him when it comes to challenging for the Premiership next season and altering Chelsea' style of play.

To implement attacking football, Ancelotti will need to undergo a serious house-cleaning exercise at Stamford Bridge this summer, which is something Scolari failed to do a year ago. The existing members of Chelsea's squad are not cut for free-flowing attacking football. And even if Ancelotti brings in a whole host of players, it will take time for them to gel and form a formidable force.

Thus, like all his predecessors, Ancelotti's fate at Chelsea will very depend on Abramovich's priorities. Will he allow Ancelotti the time needed to achieve all that is craved so dearly by the Russian billionaire and the Stamford Bridge faithful or will Ancelotti be handed the same deadlines the ones before him were given?