Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is Alonso finally moving to Madrid?

The Internet as well as the English tabloids have kicked it into fifth gear with news that Xabi Alonso has handed in a transfer request to the Anfield hierarchy to seal his move to Real Madrid. Of course, these reports are all quoting unnamed sources but in the world of football, these things tend to come true.

The big question right now is if Real Madrid do meet Liverpool's GBP30 million valuation of the Spanish midfielder. A few months back, GBP30 million would have been short change for Madrid. But after spending close to GBP190 million on Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema, the Spanish giants may want to rethink their budget. Especially with Bayern Munich slapping a EURO 90 million price tag on Ribbery who has been one of Madrid's top priorities this summer. But financial prudence is not something Mr Perez seems to be really good at and if Liverpool are willing to sell him, the Spanish giants will somehow come up with the cash.

Still, what's left of Liverpool's title challenge next season should Alonso go? Of all the players Rafa Benitez has brought to the club, specifically the Spanish contingent, Alonso has been among the best and its not an exageration to rate him as one of the best midfielders in the world. And should he go, Liverpool's midfield will be in serious trouble.

And let's not forget that all these stories of Alonso moving to Madrid are closely being followed by yet more rumours about Javier Mascherano's desire to play for Barcelona. Should both Alonso and Mascherano leave, I can't see Liverpool's title challenge going very far next season, especially when the only players they have for backup is Lucas and Damien Plessis.

But let's say Mascherano doesn't move because we all know that Barcelona aren't really lacking in the midfield department (neither is Madrid by the way) and only Alonso goes. It would probably be a bigger blow to Liverpool without Alonso than the Argentinean captain as the former is far better at organising the midfield and dictating the attack. Of course, Liverpool do have a player that's capable of filling up that role and his name is Steven Gerrard. But with the Reds captain preferred in the role of second striker, Benitez will need to bring in a world-class midfielder to the squad to fill in the void left by Alonso. Sadly for Benitez, the league begins in two weeks and there are very few options left.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Say it isn't so Fergie!

Has the Britain's greatest manager turned into a crabby old geezer? His latest comments regarding Man City seem to suggest just that. At the centre of the Ferguson's latest outburst is a billboard put by City that says "Welcome to Manchester" with Carlos Tevez' picture in the background.

Now to Ferguson, he seems to think City are bragging over the fact that they stole Tevez from United. To others, it appears as though City is making a dig at Man Utd over which team truly represents Manchester (City fans have long insisted their club is the true club of Manchester will the boys from Trafford are technically outside of Manchester).

Either way, the billboard's pretty understandable considering the rivalry between both clubs. Not to Fergie though he thinks City were out of line and have taken several new swipes at them. The first, if you haven't heard, is regarding Emanuel Adebayor's big money transfer to the Eastlands with Fergie claiming the the Togo international was desperate to join United or Chelsea to avoid joining City and went so far as to making a call to Old Trafford in a last ditch attempt to steer himself away from Sparky's revolution.

The second dig at City, however, was aimed below the waistline.

Here's what he said:

"It's City isn't it? They're a small club with a small mentality. All they can talk about is Manchester United; they can't get away from it. They think taking Carlos Tevez away from Manchester United is a triumph. It is poor stuff."

City's a small club eh? That's kind of ironic coming from the Scotsman considering the way he blasted Rafa Benitez a few months back for calling Everton a small club. And in case you've forgotten, here's the quote:

"He called them [Everton] a small club which points to his arrogance. They are a big club and David Moyes is doing a great job."

So what's the deal with Ferguson? Has the United boss gone senile or does he truly live in a world where he or United can do no wrong?

Going ballistic at City for the Tevez poster in itself screams of double standards from Ferguson. At Stretford End in Old Trafford, there's a permanent banner that indicates the number of years that have gone by without City winning a trophy. It's currently 32 and the numbers are changeable. So, is there some rule engraved in stone that says United are the only ones that can take the piss out of other clubs?

But what's even stranger is that fact that Fergie took the bait on this one so easily. Has age finally caught up with him?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CCTV footage of Steven Gerrard's bar brawl online

As Steven Gerrard's trial goes on in England, the court has now released CCTV footage of the incident from the bar where that ill-fated incident occurred. The prosecutors for their part claim the Reds skipper struck a blow at part-time DJ Marcus McGee with the precision of a boxer.

The BBC currently has the CCTV footage uploaded on their site but its awfully slow and you'll have to put up a really long ad first. I suggest you check it out on You Tube, which, in case you don't know, you can view right here on Final Kick. Just scroll down to the You Tube box and key in "Steven Gerrard, CCTV." That should get you the video you need.

I've viewed it a couple of times and its next to impossible to try and figure out what's really going on although in one scene, the Liverpool captain can clearly be seen being restrained by his friends. I'll let you decide. Gerrard's wearing a light blue sweatshirt, in case you have trouble identifying him.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Can Malaysia do it again?

Very few of us, even the most optimistic among us, would have expected Malaysia to have scored even one goal, let alone two, against Man Utd. I have to admit that as a long-standing skeptic of Malaysian football, I can't remember seeing Malaysia play with as much commitment and passion as it did over weekend against United.

Granted, Malaysia's best moments were in the second half when United's B team showed up. Still, most of us can remember the time when Alex Ferguson would send in his third team and Malaysia would still get a trouncing.

But I suppose we'll get a much better picture of the state of Malaysian football when the two teams play each other again. And this time around, United will have a better idea of what to expect and may make the appropriate tactical changes which will make our boys work a little harder. But if they can deliver a performance similar to their showing over the weekend, there just be might be some hope after all for Malaysian football.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Now City want Adebayor

After a month of relatively no speculation at all concerning the future of Emanuel Adebayor at Arsenal, the Togolese international's made the headlines once again and, you've guessed it right, he's linked with a move to Man City.

And just in case you're wondering, Carlos Tevez is expected to be unveiled as a Man City player some time soon. So, yes, what the heck is City up to?

Buying Adebayor at this stage of the transfer window clearly indicates that Hughes and Co have given up on signing Samuel Eto'o. But it also means that City is bent on having at least four world class strikers in the squad (Robinho, Santa Cruz, Tevez and Adebayor). Why? Does Sparky think linning up four strikers instead of two is going to win him anything?

And if he is going to play all four of them at the same time, which department gets sacrificed? The midfield or the defence? Or are these strikers going to be deployed in positions they aren't familiar with?

It just doesn't make any sense and why Sparky wants to splurge more money on strikers and he's got a joke for a defense is beyond any reasonable and rationale-thinking human being. Still, I suppose we should thank Hughes for doing all this. It will certainly be quite entertaining to see how City perform next season.

All the same, these transfers certainly raise the question of the intellectual capacity of these footballers. Except for Santa Cruz, Tevez and Adebayor, should they move, will be sacrificing their careers at clubs that are vastly superior to City. So why make such a move? Greed?

Tevez is perhaps one of the best strikers in England and it would seem nothing short of insanity to pick City over Chelsea. As for Adebayor, he was once courted by AC Milan and Barcelona. Surely, Man City's no substitute for either one of those clubs. There's just no reasonable explanation why they'd go ahead with such decisions.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rafa says no to Ribery?

Liverpool fans who were hoping Glen Johnson won't be the club's biggest signing of the summer are in for more disappointment. Just days after rumours surfaced of a shock bid for French star Franck Ribery, Rafa Benitez, in a report by the Daily Mirror, claims Liverpool don't need the Bayern Munich player to strenghten their squad.

But after taking a closer look at the report, it appear's as though Benitez didn't specifically mention Ribery's name but stated the club isn't looking to sign anyone for "big, big money - just maybe the ones who can fit into our team." I can't really tell what that means. You can judge for yourself by reading the story here

Still, I think Benitez and Liverpool will have to spend "big, big money" should either Xabi Alonso or Javier Mascherano leave. And he'll have to spend twice that amount should both go. There were some rumours a few weeks back that the Spaniard was looking to bring in Inter Milan's Esteban Cambiasso to Anfield but nothing's happened since.

Nonetheless, I reckon Cambiasso will surface back into the picture if Liverpool lose Alonso and/or Mascherano. Without these two, Liverpool's squad will be severely affected and so will their chances of winning the league next season.

Even if Benitez manages to keep both players, there's no guarantee his squad will mount a better title challenge next season. At the end of the day, it has been pretty clear all along that Liverpool need at least another world class player to their squad to have a decent chance at the league or the Champions League. And it's not Glen Johnson.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What the hell?

Yes. What the hell. If you haven't heard by now, the latest rumours in the world of football is that Michael Owen is on the verge of joining Man Utd. Yes, you read that right.

BBC Sport claims Owen, who has been long admired by Sir Alex Ferguson, is set to undergo a fitness test today and should he pass, will be Man Utd's second signing of the summer and possibly their most shocking.

In all fairness, it's probably good news for Owen that he's finally being linked to a world class club instead of the likes of Stoke and Hull. But Man Utd?

First, whether Owen likes it or not, a move to Old Trafford would tantamount to treason by Liverpool fans, who even after all these years still have great admiration and respect for a footballer who was part of the club since the age of 13 and scored 118 goals in 216 appearances.

And when Owen was linked with a move back to the club a few years ago after a disastrous spell at Real Madrid, many Liverpool fans and players including Steven Gerrard lobbied Benitez to re-sign the player. However, Benitez quite reasonably declined to fork out the amount Madrid was asking for.

Hence, a move to United is bound to piss quite a few people off. Then again, nothing's gone right for Owen since he left Anfield so its understandable if he does go to United.

As far as Man Utd goes, signing Owen is either a sign of pure genius or desperation. Unlike many critics who have written him off, I believe Owen is still one of the best in the game when he's on form. That being said, Owen seems to have spent more time in the sick bay than on the field for Newcastle so United are taking a huge gamble in signing him.

Even Big Sam rejected the possibility of signing Owen at Blackburn in view of the striker's poor fitness level.

Still, all this is speculation at this point but as I've said, rumours in the world of football generally tend to come true. And maybe Carlos Tevez should reconsider his position on joining Liverpool. After all, if someone like Owen is willing to sacrifice his 13-year bond with Liverpool by joining their most hated rivals, he can too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

To go or not to go

A few days ago, it was reported that Man City had made a staggering offer to bring Samuel Eto'o to the Eastlands. But despite the GPB1 million a month wage offered, Eto'o's agent said the Cameroon striker did not want to join Sparky and the Funky Bunch at City.

In light of that, Barcelona then makes a new contract offer to Eto'o. With this new offer on the table, it would seem pretty clear that Eto'o would reject a move to the Blues considering the star would rather turn out in a Barca jersey next season than in any other club's jersey. Heck, even Sparky thinks he's fighting for a lost cause now.

But all of a sudden, Eto'o's agent holds a press conference and starts claiming his client's pissed at Barca. Why? Well, according to the agent, Barca told Eto'o twice in the past two weeks the player has no future left with the Catalan giants. And as such, Eto'o's cheesed off with Barca's new contract offer because it seems the champions of Europe only made the offer because of City's move on the player.

Maybe the agent's telling the truth. But what I don't get is this. If Eto'o was unhappy and unwanted at Barcelona, why did he reject City's proposal? Ok, maybe that's not too fair of a question. Still, only a fool would have rejected City's bid outright if he didn't have any future left at his current club or any other offers on the table. So what's really going on here?