29/12/2010 – Wednesday’s Paper Round-Up

29 12 2010
Picture of Gérard Houllier.

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon is eager to bring out-of-favour Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne and midfielder Stephen Ireland to Parkhead on loan.

Sir Alex Ferguson is set to reinforce his Manchester United midfield with a £12m New Year move for Real Madrid’s Lassana Diarra.

United are also preparing a summer move for CSKA Moscow keeper Igor Akinfeev, who Ferguson sees as a long-term replacement for current number one Edwin van der Sar.

Fulham hope to make Chris Samba their first signing of the January transfer window but the Blackburn defender wants assurances over Mark Hughes’s future first.

However, the Cottagers may face competition from Arsenal, who are keen on the £8m-rated centre-back.

The Gunners are also reportedly back in the hunt for Werder Bremen centre-back Per Mertesacker.

Liverpool have rejected a loan offer from Birmingham City for 24-year-old winger Ryan Babel, who has also attracted interest from West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur.

Liverpool’s new Director of Football Strategy Damien Comolli was at Southampton yesterday to run the rule over the Saints’ latest teen sensation Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Juventus are preparing a £27m-offer for Arsenal striker Robin van Persie and the Italian side may also be willing to throw midfielder Felipe Melo into the deal.

Stoke are close to signing on-loan winger Jermaine Pennant, 27, on a permanent contract from Spanish side Real Zaragoza.

German side Werder Bremen are interested in Aston Villa’s 25-year-old defender Curtis Davies, who is currently on loan with Leicester City.

Villa manager Gerard Houllier has handed a trial to Colorado Rapids’ Jamaican striker Omar Cummings.

Villa are also keen to sign striker Nicklas Bendtner from Arsenal, who may also be joined out of the Emirates exit by fellow striker Carlos Vela, midfielder Denilson and goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

Real Madrid centre-back Pepe has received a lucrative offer from Manchester City, according to Spanish newspaper AS.

Mick McCarthy wants to bring Tottenham Hotspur striker Robbie Keane back to Wolves, the club the Republic of Ireland forward first joined in 1997.

West Ham look set to sign Dieumerci Mbokani on loan from Monaco if they can get a work visa for the Congolese striker.

The Hammers may also look to sign Manchester United’s Michael Owen on loan after the striker admitted he may have to leave Old Trafford to reignite his career.

Valon Behrami has given Roma until 10 January to reach a deal over his transfer from West Ham. The Swiss midfielder is desperate to return to Italian football after an injury-hit spell in the Premier League.

Everton, Newcastle and Blackburn are chasing Barcelona’s teenage midfielder Oriol Romeu.

Hull have been put off a bid for James Vaughan after his club Everton put a £2m price-tag on the striker.

However, the Tigers are close to sealing a £1.5m-deal for Leicester striker Matty Fryatt after Foxes boss Sven Goran Eriksson admitted the player is almost certain to leave in January.

England boss Fabio Capello has risked angering Europe’s top clubs by backing calls for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be held during the winter. Capello, who is due to leave his role with England in 2012, believes it would be too hot to play in Qatar during June and July.

Blackburn caretaker boss Steve Kean has refuted accusations that there were underhand tactics at play when he was asked to take over from Sam Allardyce. “It was an absolute shock when I received the phone call from the chairman which was half an hour before it hit the press that Sam was going to leave,” said Kean.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech believes the side are struggling to find “the right chemistry” this season. The Blues are on their worst run in 11 years after a 3-1 loss at Arsenal left them six league games without a win.

Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour believes that champions Chelsea are now out of the title race after the 3-1 defeat at the Emirates.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez believes that the attacking, passing football played by sides like his own and Arsenal will benefit the next generation of English footballers. “When you play in that sort of style players are forced to make decisions and think on the pitch,” said Martinez.

Former Portsmouth manager Paul Hart is poised to become the new manager of Sheffield United.

Liverpool are to reward striker David Ngog with a new long-term contract. The 21-year-old has 18 months remaining on his current deal.

Birmingham City have upped their contract offer to winger Sebastian Larsson. The Swede, 25, who cost £1m from Arsenal, can leave at the end of the season.

Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier (pictured) has revealed why John Carew was late to report for his club’s Christmas programme – the striker was stuck in snow in his native Norway.

For full stories, head over to the BBC website.

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26/11/2010 – Friday’s Paper Round-Up

26 11 2010
Carlton Cole before West Ham's game v Wigan, A...

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Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has placed an £80m price tag on Ashley Young after Manchester United and Liverpool revealed their interest in the winger.

Arsenal and Manchester City have joined the race to sign Sporting Lisbon’s teenage winger Zezinho, dubbed “the new Cristiano Ronaldo”.

The Reds are also interested in Lille’s central defender Adil Rami and forward Gervinho.

But Lille midfielder Eden Hazard will not be leaving the club despite interest from Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson.

Liverpool could make a shock January move for Manchester City winger Adam Johnson.

West Ham striker Carlton Cole (left) could be on his way to Liverpool in January after publicly criticising the tactics of Hammers manager Avram Grant.

Meanwhile, former Hammers defender Anton Ferdinand could be on his way back to Upton Park with the Sunderland centre-back set to leave the Stadium of Light.

Manchester United expect to clinch the signing of 26-year-old goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard, of Norwegian club Aalesund, by the weekend.

In-form striker Johan Elmander has stalled on signing a new contract with Bolton – and sparked a scramble for his signature. Liverpool, Newcastle and Stoke are interested.

Fulham are ready to win the £3m race for 6ft 8in Ivory Coast striker Lacina Traore of Romanian side Cluj.

Cottagers boss Mark Hughes could raid former club Manchester City with keeper Shay Given, winger Shaun Wright-Phillips and striker Roque Santa Cruz all on Fulham’s wish list.

Manchester United target David De Gea has said he will happily reject overtures from Sir Alex Ferguson to remain at Atletico Madrid.

Dimitar Berbatov will definitely not be leaving Old Trafford in January, according to the player’s agent Emil Dantchev.

Birmingham are poised to make a £2m move for Swedish striker Denni Avdic who plays for IF Elsborg.

Arsenal target Gokhan Inler could leave Udinese if the right club makes the right offer, says the Swiss midfielder’s agent.

Dinamo Zagreb vice-president Zdravko Mamic has revealed that the Croatian side have rejected a £17m offer from Arsenal for highly rated youngsters midfielder Mateo Kovacic and wing-back Sime Vrsaljko.

Atletico Madrid forward Diego Forlan says he will not be joining Tottenham in January and will instead end his career in Spain.

Palermo’s defensive midfielder Armin Bacinovic is a target for Chelsea and Liverpool.

Birmingham striker Kevin Phillips could be about to start a bidding war between Championship promotion chasers QPR and Swansea.

Tottenham defender William Gallas has boldly predicted that Spurs can win “everything” this season, despite having already been knocked out of the Carling Cup.

Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed will back manager Mark Hughes in the transfer window but vented his anger at the 4-1 home loss to Manchester City last week.

Plymouth have held talks with former Leeds and Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale over potential investment in the cash-strapped club.

Tottenham will press ahead with plans to move to the Olympic Stadium despite receiving the go-ahead to build a new 56,000-seater arena adjacent to White Hart Lane.

Winger Stewart Downing believes new Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier needs to bring in up to five new players during the January transfer window.

Bolton boss Owen Coyle has revealed that the team’s good spirit has been partly helped by the game rock-papers-scissors.

“The lads do a ‘scissors, paper, rock’ thing and there is a punishment for the loser. So they are getting good at playing it – or else. The loser gets his ears flicked and it is painful,” said the Scot.

For full stories, head over to the BBC website.





The Transfer Market

15 01 2010

The ‘Rafalution’ has certainly gone under the microscope at the minute and the media seem ever so keen to highlight his poor signings. Now, I’m not going to defend some of his signings as I’m sure you would agree that Nunez, Josemi and Kromkamp sent most fans into a cold sweat every time they made an appearance. However, when considering some of his poor signings against the flops bought by other top 4 managers, you will realise the media are being a little unfair.

Yes I could give a mention to Fergie, Wenger and Abramovich/Kenyon’s flops too. Crespo, Shevchenko and Veron or Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba and Taibi are all far worse signings than some of Rafa’s and a lot costlier too. However, Rafa seems to bring a lot of criticism on himself. His stubborn persistence with players such as Lucas Leiva (whose birth certificate I would like to see) separates him from the rest. If Ferguson makes a mistake, they are almost always sold on, more often than not for profit I hasten to add. The same with Chelsea to a degree, if a player is just simply not good enough, he will be sold, or in the case of Hernan Crespo be loaned out for about 3 years! Chelsea don’t have to worry about flops as much however due to their unrivalled wealth, or at least it was unrivalled until Manchester City’s owners graced our shores. It is this where I feel Rafa is being a little harshly treated. His ‘eye for talent’ is something that is also often challenged. I can assure you that there is nothing wrong with his eye for talent, he just does not have the financial means to always sign who he wants. It is for that reason that he ends up signing second or third choice players who are often gambles. Inevitably, gambles do not always pay off. Rafa has identified David Villa, David Silva, Daniel Alves, Simao Sabrosa, Sergio Aguero (before he signed for Atletico) among others as potential signings so there is nothing wrong with his eye for talent. However, when Rick Parry was at the helm and our worrying financial situation these were unrealistic targets. Instead he ended up with Jermaine Pennant, who was deemed to not be good enough for Arsenal yet we signed anyway, as well as Mark González, Fernando Morientes and Andriy Voronin.

Benitez has more often than not got it right when he has been able to spend big although he has had to sell before he can buy in the summer gone by. Can people really argue with the signings of a certain striker named Fernando Torres? How about Pepe Reina, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson? I’m sure regardless of who you support you would not be disappointed to see anyone of these on your club’s team sheet. Furthermore, he’s trying to restructure the youth academy which, in my opinion, was long overdue. Although I’m not sure whether he should be getting involved in this area of the club, things certainly seem to be improving. As Gerard Houllier once said about the academy, ‘I’m not expecting the next Steven Gerrard, but I wouldn’t mind a few Jamie Carraghers.’ I feel Rafa has echoed those sentiments, and although there will never be another Steven Gerrard, he is slowly introducing one or two young players who are most definitely prospects. Martin Kelly’s man of the match performance on his debut against Olympique Lyonnais shows this. Furthermore, Jay Spearing made his debut in a home tie against Real Madrid. Gone are the days of rolling out McManaman’s, Fowler’s and Owen’s year after year, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Although it may seem hard to believe, I’m not so pro-Rafa that I would defend him whatever happens. Six defeats in a season that is still only in October is by no way good enough. However, as I may just have mentioned once or twice, we are rather struggling somewhat in terms of finance. Would it really be wise to sack him at the cost of around £20m? That is the sort of figure he would get as he only signed his latest deal on the 18th March 2009. Then a new manager arrives with a whole array of new ideas that would probably take another 5 years to implement fully and by that time Gerrard and Carragher will either be gone or well past their best. I guess what I am trying to say is that it was only a few months ago that Rafa led us to four points from winning the title and although Alonso has gone, not much else has changed.

Mark Jepson








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