Thursday, July 23, 2009

I can't wait for the new season

I want football and I want it now

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fiorentina is undoubtedly the meanest team in football

After four frustrating and barely deserved points earned against Lazio and Genoa, Fiorentina apparently did not feel satisfied with a 3-3 last minute draw from an Adrian Mutu hat trick. Therefore, they apparently felt it necessary to run a Genoa fan over with the team bus

Yes, they are this dickish.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Derby Time

So we have two excellent matches on the menu today, first there's Ajax - Feyenoord. Certainly the most anticipated match in the Eredivisie. Ajax were battling away for the title but had a bad run after the winter break and found themselves dropping to 3rd place. Feyenoord however have been terrible for years, the once so famous club finds themselves on a disappointing 12th place in the league. But there is still a bright future ahead of what is still one of the biggest clubs in Holland. Whoever wins this match will have a mental boost to either get back in the race for the title (Ajax) or back in the race for european football (Feyenoord). The odds are in favor of Ajax but with this match you just never know what's going to happen and I think that is what's so great about derbies.

And later in the day there is the biggest derby on the Italian calender. A game which is only equalled in intensity by the Lazio - AS Roma derby looks out to be a great match-up this year. With AC Milan actively participating in the title race again there's a lot to play for this time. Key-player Kaka is out injured so Inter have a slight advantage (next to their awesome league record). It'll be interesting to see how Mourinho and Ancelotti battle it out today.

So go out and buy some snacks and beer and then just sit back and enjoy...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So Guus it is...

Chelsea have confirmed their approach of Hiddink and Guus himself has stated that he'll be the caretaker at Stamford Bridge for the rest of this season. Because of his close relationship a-buyeverything-ovic ( well now it's more like imbrokemovic) he decided to take the job and this was also the reason why the Russian FA agreed to his brief depart from the Russian side (although he'll still be in full control of the team). So what now? Personally I think that Hiddink will recommend Frank Rijkaard when he's finished. Hiddink knows Rijkaard very well from their days together at the world championships of 1998 where Rijkaard featured as Hiddink's assistant.
So what can Hiddink achieve during his brief stay at Chelsea? Well they're 10 points behind from league leaders Manchester United so there it's just a matter of focusing on your own game and hoping Manchester United drops some points. Next to that they're still in the FA Cup and most importantly they're also still in the Champions League. Sure it's a pretty big task but Guus always has some tricks up his sleaves... seriously you never know with that bloke.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I don't get it

Why, Chelsea... why? Why would you appoint a world-class coach and sack him before he's even been in charge for one season? What are they trying to achieve? I think this is the difference between top-teams and wannabe top-teams. Real top-teams have a long term vision and strategy, wannabe top-teams start panicking whenever things seem to be going bad. Ugh... this is all I have to say about it, I'm just really disappointed with Chelsea's way of handling things over the last couple of years. So now their total comes to 4 top coaches which have been sacked for no apparent reason except for THEY'RE NOT WINNING EVERYTHING NOW NOW NOW WIN WIN WIN...

Ok, maybe they can justify Ranieri but still...


The Russian FA have declared they would not oppose Guus Hiddink acting as first team coach for Chelski next to his Ruski commitments. So we might see Hiddink taking charge at Stamford Bridge pretty soon. There's only a few coaches on the planet who could replace a powerhouse like Scolari (I still disagree with the fact they sacked him) but Guus is one of the few coaches on the planet who can bring the same class and finesse like big Phill. Other rumours are Rijkaard (ex-Barca) and Mancini (ex-Inter).

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kinnear takes ill: Newcastle win

When reading the headline, I was under the impression that Newcastle had won, then leveling Joe Kinnear with a heart attack of some sort, but it turns out the opposite was true. Still, no surprise that this both was a comically bad match, with every goal coming directly from a titanic defensive cock-up, and one Newcastle managed to win without the most comically inept manager in the Premier League.

Starting to take a hint Mr. Ashley?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Talent Scout: Barry Maguire

A lot of new highly rated talents seem to think they’re superstars after only having played one good game. With the latest flashy Nikes they run over the pitch showing off their tattoos and trendy haircuts. Sure it’s nice to see a flamboyant talented attacker dashing across the pitch but in a lot of cases all this showing off is greatly unjustified. Failing to realize that a team consists out of 11 players and that you shouldn’t only go for your own glory these players quickly vanish into the background and disappear in obscurity.

So that’s why it’s extra nice to see a different type of player standing up once in a while. Young FC Utrecht player Barry Maguire has stocky build, wears old school soccer boots and has a nonchalant hairstyle. Quite the opposite to most young players you see these days.
When he was transferred to Eredivisie side FC Utrecht in 2008 he already played 60 games at the highest level by the age of just 18 (!). This experience really shows off on the pitch and he has great vision when it comes to diffusing counterattacks and distributing balls to the wingers.
He’s already featured in 18 games for FC Utrecht this season and has always been a consistent factor for them. It’s probably best to compare him to a young Cambiasso, great defensive force on the ball but also good at passing and attacking. Next to that he can also play in defense, making him a very multifunctional player. Personally I have this player in very high regard, if he keeps on developing and keeps his feet firmly grounded (which won’t be much of a problem I think) he can grow out to be a top player. His strengths are that of a player which is essential in every top side you see today.

Recently he was invited to play for Ireland under 21 but declined. However I’m sure we’ll see him feature for a national side, be it Holland or Ireland, pretty soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Manchester City undoubtedly the most intimidating club in the Premier League

With Micah Richards' arrest for assault the latest in a lengthening list of Citeh run-ins with the law, I am now taking the time to officially announce Manchester City FC the most frightening team in the EPL. They, at any point in the match, have the capacity to punch you, kick you, steal your iPod filled with sensitive documents or rape you in a nightclub.

Steer clear, competition.

ALERT: Andrei Arshavin hates Women, Gravity

New Arsenal creative midfield/wing/forward/second striker/-thing/-er Andrei Arshavin would not hesitate to ban women from driving, as reported in an interview with everyone's favorite piece of trash, The Sun. After an incident involving a female driver, a young Andrei/Andriy/Andrey was flung "ten metres up in the air. It is a miracle I am still alive." For all of you struggling to calculate the physics behind such an impact, they don't exist. Suddenly Wenger's buy is making far more sense to me.

Andrei also revealed his fitness aspirations for all eligible North London ladies: "I like tall, slim girls with narrow thighs and tiny bums,' he said. 'If a girl is like this I do not pay attention to her breasts. Hair colour doesn’t matter either. What is really important is her style and manners."

Any women looking to land a currently engaged Russian who appears to be 12, you now have your goals.

(Scouser-safe link to a Guardian piece including the quotes)

Farewell Thomas Gravesen

In some sad news for fans of violent, mentally unstable midfielders, Danish international Thomas Gravesen has announced his retirement today. After failing to break into the Celtic first team, he has hung up his boots, and his insane teammate fights, for good. Any fans having trouble coping with this crushing news are invited to watch some of the videos provided below and think of better times, more prone to breaking out into yelling/fisticuffs.

Adios, Thomas.


Watching the Liverpool vs. Everton FA Cup replay, I was among the many fans baffled by the hail of socks onto the pitch at Goodison Park. I (being the trendsetter that I am) even asked why it was happening via-blog.

Well, the most confounding footballing mystery since the cryptic Salomon Kalou wrestling move/political protest/rap record label promotion hand signal has finally come to an end. Apparently it was a jibe at Kirby residents over their alleged tendency to steal socks from clotheslines to keep their dirty prints off of cars they attempt to steal. Kirkby, of course, being the location of Everton's proposed new grounds. I have to say the insult was far less interesting to me than the fact that a fan managed to nail Tim Cahill right in the back from range in the game. Oh well.

Via: The Spoiler

Thanks, ITV

If you missed the stunner game-winning goal at Goodison Park last night, you're not alone. For those not fortunate enough to have been watching the ITV feed of the match, here's your chance to miss it again:

Just so we don't leave you empty handed, here is the actual game-winner, in somewhat blurry (but noticeably Tic-Tac advert-less) definition.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Can anyone tell my why socks are being thrown onto the pitch at Goodison?

Some fans (not sure if its Liverpool or Everton) are throwing balled-up socks onto the pitch in the FA Cup replay at Goodison Park. I even saw one hit Tim Cahill in the back going up for a challenge with Martin Skrtel. Anyone have any idea as to why?

EDIT: It's coming from the Liverpool section. Whoever picked out Tim Cahill has a pretty wicked arm, he only came into the spot after jumping over Skrtel, and the guy hit him square in the back. Any guesses as to the significance of throwing your socks? I've seen a lot of missiles tossed onto the pitch in my day, but never a sock.

Ask and ye shall recieve

Fair play to you, Alan.

Just two days ago, I asked "where are the good refs?" in a somewhat aggravated blog lamenting the omnipresence of bad refs in today's game. So far, halfway into the Liverpool-Everton FA Cup replay, I (and the commentators both) have noticed that head referee Alan Wiley is having an exceptional game. In the most contentious and booking-prone clash in all of English football, he is dealing with the inevitable stamps, shoves and trips with aplomb. His bookings have been judicious, his hand even, and he has (so far) been on top of just about every instance of unfair play in the match.

In the interest of advancing the cause I advocated in the above-mentioned post, we should take notice of the fact that there are still good refs preserving fair play in the league. If you happen to see the name Wiley on the officials list for your favorite team's upcoming match, you should either feel in safe hands, or very ready to party.

Rafa: "Keane incapable of scoring enough goals"

Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez explains Robbie-gate in The Independent. The Reds bought Keane at the start of this season for 20 million only to sell him back for 15.

"Could you see Keane scoring a lot of goals?" Benitez said. "We were talking about 'maybe, maybe'. You have to try to be objective. He was not playing at the level he can play at. We had a very good offer for a player who is 28 and wasn't playing at the level we were expecting so maybe it was good for him and us."

If Torres gets injured Dirk Kuyt will be the man up front for Rafa but he also wants to play Babel in this position.

"I have been really pleased with Ryan over the last two or three weeks, he is improving a lot for me," Benitez said.

Only time will tell if this was a good decision but during all this drama Liverpool and Chelsea's impotence to keep up with Man U during the winter period was pretty obvious. Although Man U have a pretty tough couple of games at the end of this campaign, they will probably have built up a sufficient gap to snatch another title. But back to Liverpool. Kuyt up front? I don't really know if he can even remember what it's like to play there. Babel sounds a lot better though, he's a player with some very specific skills you don't see with any other players. A player who's proven he can make the difference in big games and still a young and exciting prospect.

Read the full article here. (via The Independent)

This may be the most inane article ever

The Times has today dedicated an entire article to detailing the steps in creating the above photograph. With illuminating and gripping gems such as this passage:
He's more relaxed now, so I hand him the pen and all I say is "draw yourself scoring a goal". He goes to the board and starts drawing. He's definitely not a comic book artist in the making, but he adds things that I didn't ask him to do: his name on the back of his shirt, and even better the score: Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0. He does struggle writing Arsenal, but I don't mention this!

I of course love the Times, less for their ownership by Rupert Murdoch, and more for their employment of the best football journalist ever (sorry Ollie Kay), but this crap is just boring.

For extra meta-analysis points, imagine the total inanity of this sporting blog article about an inane sporting blog article.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Quaresma myth

For some time there has been a rather large contingent on the internet that seems to think Ricardo Quaresma is the next incarnation of Cristiano Ronaldo. Another fast Portuguese winger with a bag of tricks who's destined to bask in the bright lights, this time with a stronger frame that prevents him from taking those unfortunate falls that seem to plague his compatriot. I myself have been counted among the number of people who were waiting for the moment when he would get a chance to prove himself bigger and better on a world stage than his brief spell at Barcelona.

Lo and behold, after St. Jose Mourinho took over at Inter, I was treated to the prospect of seeing him play for my favorite club outside of Merseyside, and rejoiced at the opportunity. I, unlike a lot of people who praise him up and down the block, have been able to watch him play at the highest level week in and week out for my beloved Inter, and can tell you fully, and with complete honesty, of the glittering heights of talent he has reached.

He sucks. Flat out isn't fit to take to the pitch in the blue-and-black. He just cannot, for the life of himself pass the ball well, his tricks, which were the bane of so many Portuguese defenders, have been mercilessly exposed by the back lines of Italy, and his vaunted physical traits are wasted in a league where brains trump brawn because he can't play as part of a team. He has no sense of position, his indiscipline on the pitch is sometimes unfathomable, and he generally seems like a confused man completely out of his league, and judging from his last foray into top-flight ball, he probably is.

One of the more shattering revelations is that his renowned tricks, the Rabona and the Trivela, are not some new shiny fullback-stunners to top the elastico. They're crutches he uses to prop up the massive shortcomings to his ability that his spells in La Liga and Serie A have confirmed to be chronic: he has one good leg. Quaresma, it should be remembered, has a hell of a right leg. He can score some very pretty goals using it. But the fact is that he has no ability with his left, and uses a weird bag of entirely unecessary football skills to mask it.

The Trivela, for those unaware, is the technique whereby one strikes the ball with the outside of his foot, putting a reverse bend on the ball and allowing for a right-footed shot from the right side of field to bend goalwards as if it were made with the left, or vice versa. This shot (detailed in the previous video post) looks pretty damned cool when you pull it off. But, far more often than not, it goes wildly off the mark and leaves the team with a possession wasted and a rather embarrassing failure to convert in their minds. The Inter-Catania goal used as an example before should indicate this, as it was one-of-a-kind. Literally. That's the only goal he has scored for Inter.

The Rabona is an even odder one. It involves the player wrapping his right (in this case) foot around the left, and taking the shot/cross/pass with the plant foot on the opposite side of the ball. See our man performing one here. Now, upon watching this, you may think "that was pretty cool," and in fact, you would be right. The odd part is that this is not a trick, or a flashy skill. This is how he takes crosses when he plays on the left wing. All the time. Not kidding. It's the type of completely superfluous skill that might make you think he's a braggart or a showoff. While I can't speak to his personality (I have been informed by a Portuguese reader that he looked like a complete ass in an episode of Portuguese "MTV Cribs."), the actual explanation is much simpler: he just can't kick with his left foot. Both of these skills are clearly less "tricks" as just excuses for him never kicking the ball with his wrong foot.

Quaresma also has zero to no self-confidence. His miserable forays into the top flight have clearly left him shaken, and the obvious disapproval the press and fans have shown for his lackluster performances have taken their toll. Mourinho himself, on the day of the loan, said quite simply "He is a player that I wanted in Milan but unfortunately, he has not been able to overcome the criticism directed at him. Without confidence in oneself it becomes more difficult."

Now all of these problems might add up to a terminally flop-tastic player, but he's now been given (another) chance to prove himself in a top league, this time at Chelsea. My money is on him turning out as a Jose Mourinho in reverse. Mourinho wants to (and is well on his way to) winning all the silverware one can win in all the top leagues. Quaresma is on his way to flopping in Spain, Italy and England. But, there is some hope for Quaresma fans out there, as if there's any league that would fit him, and any team to give him a spot in which to succeed, it's the EPL and Chelsea. A man of shallow tricks and tactical ineptitude is built to succeed in the Barclay's RUN AROUND RUN RUN GET THE BALL SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT Premier League. This, after all, is the league that made Cristiano Ronaldo the football politician's consensus choice for world's best footballer. If he has a chance to make something of his admittedly huge talent, it's in a league where speed and power trump skill and brains. And of course, his competition for play at Chelsea would come in the form of Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou. In other words, he's starting every game, goofy-looking crosses and all.

So, to wrap up a somewhat deflating blog, there may be hope for Ricky yet, but my money is on him doing the Veron treble across the pond as well. And on the bright side for all us Inter fans, we don't have to boo him at home matches anymore. My cats and television screen should be much happier without the noise.

I totally called this three seconds after it happened.

The FA has officially un-lamped Lamps after Mike Riley handed out another stellar booking in his long career of baffling calls.

Didn't see this one coming at all.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super breaking transfer news: Arshavin back on and QUARESMA TO CHELSEA LOAN?

Apparently the fun don't stop this transfer window. Arshavin is apparently headed to London after all, a massive blow to my sanity, while every Inter fan's second least favorite Portuguese winger will head to Chelsea on loan to see if he can flop in an unprecedented two leagues in one season.

Woooooow. Late is the new early this February.

The legend of HELWA HELWA goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

After the excitement of a wild on-edge sporting weekend, nothing calms the nerves like some good old youtube football porn. All the spectacular play, none of the hair-tearing second-ticking filler. This video present, courtesy of your resident shameless Nerazurri fanatic, comes in from a two-year-old game between Inter and Sampdoria. If you haven't already had the opportunity, pull up a seat and savor this one. It may be my most watched youtube video selection ever, and there are abundant reasons as to why. I play this at least once a day to get pumped up for whatever may meet me ahead. Whoever chose the music, you sir, are a legend.

Zlatan: "You can't laugh. I laugh." Not joking. He really said that.

Postscript: For those among the uninitiated, the HELWA label refers back to the video embedded below, in which an understandably enthused Arabic commentator gushes over Ibra's wonder goal vs. Bologna. Helwa apparently means "sweet" in his native tongue, and Gino and I have never looked back, applying it to any and all sweet goals we can find. The more you know.

Where are the good refs?

Watching a somewhat nervy but ultimately satisfying Liverpool win over Chelsea on Sunday, I, like most other rational humans, was struck by the fact that Mike Riley apparently had no idea what he was doing. This, of course, was not entirely surprising, as Mike Riley is renowned from Albania to England as a bit of an idiot. Come to think of it, the only referees I can name have that distinction because of being either blind or careless with the cards. Mike Riley, Graham Poll, Rob Styles; none of these men are remembered for clean calls or smart eyes, and yet they are the representatives of the craft of officiating.

When was the last time you've checked the officials list before a game and heaved a sigh of relief? Been to or watched a match where the announcement of the head referee's name was anything but booed? Why is it that the FA hasn't managed to figure out that there is a reason refs are almost universally hated?

Everyone knows that refs are graded on their performance after matches. Why isn't it that these numbers are published in a public manner? While it might sound a bit silly, a league table format, whereby refs are ranked on their accuracy and fairness, could restore a bit of faith in the system. Important matches, local derbys and late-season clashes when points are tight could be assigned to those with high scores, lower-table matches (and a lower payout) could be left those loose with the bookings and fouls. This is far from any fully elaborated plan, but this is a sport, where we're perfectly comfortable with a competition format to decide our league champion on the pitch. Why not set one up to choose the man who could potentially decide the fate of that same title?

It's time we start celebrating the commitment to upholding the rules that referees ostensibly represent, and making what is the most hated job in sports into something it's practitioners are proud of.

Last minute transfers


Player From To

Michael Gravgaard FC Nantes Hamburger SV

Angelos Charisteas 1. FC Nürnberg Bayer Leverkusen

Fabian Ernst Schalke 04 Besiktas (Tur)

Jacek Krzynowek VfL Wolfsburg Hannover 96

Jonathan Santana VfL Wolfsburg San Lorenzo (Arg)

Mahir Saglik VfL Wolfsburg Karlsruher SC

Antonio Rukavina B. Dortmund 1860 München


Player From To

Tal Ben Haim Manchester City Sunderland

Angelos Basinas AEK Athene Portsmouth

Manchester City Everton

Henri Camara Wigan Athletic Stoke City

Robbie Keane Liverpool Tottenham

Charles N'Zogbia Newcastle Utd Wigan Athletic

Michael Chopra Sunderland Cardiff City

Youssouf Mulumbu Paris SG (Fra) West Brom

Juan C. Menseguez San Lorenzo (Arg) West Brom

Ricardo Quaresma Internazionale (Ita) Chelsea

Calum Davenport Sunderland West Ham

Tomas Pekhart Tottenham Slavia Praag (cze)


Player From To

Marco Motta Udinese AS Roma

Souleymane Diamoutene Lecce AS Roma

Gianvito Plasmati Catania Atalanta

Victor Boudianski Lecce FC Khimki (Rus)

Abel Hernandez Peñarol (Uru) Palermo

Ricardo Quaresma Internazionale Chelsea (Eng)

Nicola Amoruso Torino Siena

Andrea Gasbarroni Genoa Torino

Stefano Okaka AS Roma Brescia

David Sugar Bellinzona (Swi) AS Roma


Player From To

Raúl Bravo Olympiakos Numancia
Sergio Tejera Chelsea (Eng) Real Mallorca

It's been remarkably quiet this transfer window although everyone thought Manchester City would cause a major stir.... and they almost did with Kaka contemplating a move to City but eventually pulling out. What have been the best transfers this window? Give us your thoughts.

Transfer News: Keane back to Spurs, Arshavin deal teetering on the brink

In one of the sadder bits of transfer business this season, one of my favorite players, Robbie Keane, is set to end his depressing spell at my favorite club, Liverpool. Reports say he is on his way to, or currently undergoing a medical in London with the intent of re-donning a white jersey. Good luck to you Robbie, wish it could have worked out better. In the meantime, we had better get Aaron Lennon in exchange, or I'm blowing my lid. EDIT: We didn't. Blowing my lid at the moment.

The completely baffling and superfluous Andrei Arshavin deal appears to be off, hopefully for the sake of my sanity with Arsenal coming to their collective wits and refusing to spend £15m on a player they absolutely do not need.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I predicted some HELWA goal videos from this weekend, and did Messi and Torres ever deliver.

Goal is not terribly spectacular, but extra points for smooth slide-to-cross-legged-sitting celebration.

What is it with today and big matches?

Nadal vs. Federer on the tube now. Then on to Chelsea vs. Liverpool in two hours. Super bowl in 10 hours.

Looks like my schoolwork is going to suffer. Chips, anyone?

EDIT: Rafa wins. Check. Liverpool and Steelers victories next in line for a 3-0 Sunday sweep. SECOND EDIT: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea. Torres does the double along with Liverpool over Chelsea and myself over today. Super Bowl last in line. THIRD EDIT: 27-24. Hands trembling. Almost died. 3-0 for the day.

Transfer news: Given set for City, City and Tottenham bidding war for Santa, Adams ready to resign from Pompey job

In transfer news today Shay Given is apparently undergoing a medical in Manchester as I type. Personally I think this is one of the best pieces of transfer work Hughes has pulled together all window. Joe Hart is certainly a great talent, and in a few years should be the first-choice England keeper, but at the moment he's too green. You can see his centre backs don't have the type of confidence they should in him, and confusion at the back is hell on a team looking for consistency. A confident Given exuding the type of security at back that a future Champions League club needs could be the difference between City being in or out of the relegation scramble at the bottom. Plus with an experienced world class keeper like Given there to mentor Hart he'll be learning from one of the best in English football. By the time Given's career winds down Hart will be around 25 and ready to take the mantle. A good buy.

City also is apparently in a bidding war with Spurs over wantaway striker Roque Santa Cruz. This saga has been going on forever, at this point I'm just waiting for someone to seal the deal so I don't have to read anymore Big Sam Allardyce "he's going nowhere" interviews in the midst of the 250th Man City crazy-money bid. Just two other thoughts on this: a) City and Tottenham spending Panini-sticker style in an attempt to catch all 150 EPL Pokemon. Big surprise. b) A bidding war between City and Spurs. Any guesses as to how this will turn out?

Tony Adams is rumored to be on the verge of quitting Portsmouth. Not like this is a titanic surprise from the zen-like master of sangfroid, as this team is a management career graveyard. The Pompey ship continues sinking, and it's sad that good guys like Tony Adams, Peter Crouch and Glen Johnson have to be along for the ride down.

Updates as news comes in.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Watch where you're aiming that thing

Luca Toni gets an eyeful of Ribery during Bayern's cup win over Stuttgart. Notice the defensive hand posture: fight or flight has clearly kicked in.


In anticipation of all the HELWA HELWA footage that should be incoming from the weekend games I'm posting my pick of the litter from the midweek goals, Van Persie's late stunner against the Toffees:

Oh, that's nice.

Transfer News: Charles Insomnia apparently headed to Wigan, Veloso megabid, Faubert to Los Blancos

After only a couple days' commotion, Charles Insomnia... er... In'zomnia... Charles... (pictured to the left fleeing from Andy Carroll) appears to be packing for Wigan after possibly the shortest manager bust-up to transfer in recent memory. £6 million and Ryan Taylor will see the formerly well-loved Newcastle winger off from the rapidly sinking Tyneside club to newer, thicker-striped pastures.

Such obvious loyalty and love of club should endear him to Latics fans immediately.

Bolton has also bid an incredible £14m for one of my favorite players, Sporting's deep-lying playmaker/defensive midfielder/all-around insane midfield talent Miguel Veloso. I'd love to see him in the Premier League, but Bolton? Hold the pen on that one, Miguel.

In La Liga Real Madrid managed to get Julien Faubert on loan as their new right winger. For a fee of €1.5 million, the experienced winger will play for los Merengues until this summer. Earlier, Aaron Lennon, Jermaine Pennant and Antonio Valencia were linked with Real to fill the gap out wide. Faubert joined West Ham in 2007 and featured in 27 games but never managed to find the net.

Updates will continue as news arrives.

Friday, January 30, 2009

When did the Bundesliga become fun to watch?

Hamburger SV 1-0 Bayern Munich. Hoffenheim preparing to go 2 points clear. Suddenly my least favorite league has the most compelling storyline and the most competitive field.

Honestly enough, Hoffenheim is one of the few bright points in an otherwise drab and depressing recession-hit season. Possibly the most exciting side to watch outside of Barcelona, they play beautiful Arrigo Sacchi-style ball, their defense is textbook with the offside trap, and they have created one of the most productive offensive linkups in Germany out of a squad of veritable nobodies. The only team that can touch these guys has Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, and they just lost. Can anyone name me the starting forwards for Hoffenheim?

Mid-table stalwarts like Hamburger SV are challenging for the top, and my favorite German club (Borussia Dortmund) is up from a 13th place finish last year to 6th.

This is the stuff that makes football curmudgeons melt, and it's happening in the least likely place of all.

Midweek impressions: Serie A

1) Julio Cesar and Maicon are running Inter at the moment. After a couple bad collective team performances, those guys were the heart of the team against Catania. Maicon is certainly the best right back in the world right now, and with guys in midfield like Cambiasso having career seasons, and the always inconsistent Ibrahimovic looking inspired again for the first time in ages, Inter is undoubtedly the team to beat in Serie A again.

2) Normalcy is retuning. After Udinese and Napoli were shaming the likes of Fiorentina and Roma, the table is beginning to settle back into the familiar old Serie A hierarchy. Despite a shock win against Juve on Wednesday, Udinese is one of the worst teams in Italian football (by form) at the moment, and Napoli is slowly beginning to feel the drain of losses at their hopes of a top four finish, and with numerous suspensions and injuries turning their squad into the Italian Newcastle United, it's not looking any better. Roma should break back into the Champions League Zone soon, and the book will be closed.

3) Whatever Gasperini is doing at Genoa, he should keep doing it. They've really impressed me this year, and even with all the Juve loans/co-ownerships, this team is relatively young (by Italian standards) and solid enough to compete in Europe. Gasperini has forged a team in the Moyes mold, play together, win together, lose together, but do it as a team. It doesnt hurt that unlike Everton, Genoa has an extremely hot-streak striker in Diego Milito. 14 goals in 17 games is good enough for me.

4) Fiorentina needs to stay strong. They're always a threat for a top four finish, and even with the blow of Mutu's injury, they've done well to keep within striking distance. With the Romanian's return imminent, the squad can only look to do better. The hardest part of their schedule has been behind them, and surviving in 6th place has set them up well. But their next to matches will be the defining point of their season. A home game with Lazio is always dangerous, despite their recent bad form, and facing the sterling Genoa away will be the type of challenge that will allow them to broadcast their intent to Roma above them.

5) Why can't Udinese do this every week? They didn't just get lucky against Juve, they clearly outplayed them. They went in with the intent to stop their slide, and they did. This isn't an awful squad, and with Di Natale finally back to health for the Zebrette things can only get better. Inler, Isla, Asamoah; the team clearly has talent. A solid mid-table finish could be in the cards if this surge of post-Juve enthusiasm holds, but at least surviving relegation isn't far out of reach. A tough away match to a depleted Napoli will give them the perfect chance to ride the wave.


Lazio had great start to the season. (note the period) Yeah.. well.. and that was just about it for the biancocelesti. Sadly they have fallen back into the random sort of performances which sank them to being the mediocre mid-table team which they were last season. Let's face it, Lazio just lacks some decent creative midfield players. Sure Ledesma can be brilliant but he likes to hang around the middle of the field too much, there's noone who can play behind Rocchi and Pandev to get some diversity in the game, because right now Lazio is Rocchi and Pandev. So I guess you're feeling pretty depressed right now, is there any hope? I'm glad to say there's still a tiny bit left: The Coppa. Right now Lazio is in the semis which will be played at home. Facing either Juventus or Napoli, they are only one match away from the final which will be played at the Olimpico. So all in all Lazio are still in complete control of their destiny and European football is still within their grasp.

In case you missed it... HELWA HELWA CRAIG BELLAMY

Have to say, the man has a nice swing. Good bit of work, fee justified? David James seems to think so.

Check out the Guardian's new chalkboards

What a cool idea. Now when you're arguing with your mates whether or not Lucas Leiva really is crap, you can fire up the chalkboard to show that most of his distribution in the Wigan game was in the form of back-passes to Skrtel and Carragher, and that he was relatively ineffective in tackling.

Certainly one of the best football analysis ideas I've seen in a while.

Same old 'Arry, always tapping-up opposition players

Joining your esteemed author in criticizing Rafael Benitez's current form, Harry Redknapp apparently couldn't resist a slice of his favorite pie: tapping up other teams' players in press conferences.

"The destabilising of Robbie Keane is bizarre. He has not performed as well as many expected - me included - but he is better than he is being treated.

"Many clubs would like to have a player of his ability. Keane is a strong personality and a popular player in the dressing room, so the management of the Irishman can only have a negative impact on the squad."

"Too bad about that Keane fellow right? Such a nice talent to be doing so badly. Of course I expected him to do great, since I
rate him so much as a player myself. Too bad he doesn't have a competent manager to coach him though. Almost makes you wish someone would come along and bid for him. Hell, maybe a club with a manager as good as me? He'd have to be on a massive spending spree though, wouldn't he! Oh well, next question."

You have to wonder about the man sometimes.

N'Zogbia refuses to play after being called "Insomnia"

This is a real story. Apparently a slip up from Joe Kinnear where he called him "Charles Insomnia" in an interview (what do you expect from the most bumbling manager in England?) has caused Charles N'Zogbia to request a transfer from Toon.

"First of all I wish to apologise to the fans for wanting to leave the club," the 22-year-old Frenchman said in a statement.

"However, having been insulted by Joe Kinnear, I will never play for him again while he remains Newcastle manager.

"The club are aware that there are offers on the table for me and they should accept one of them."

Man, it rains hard in Newcastle.

link from Yahoo! news

Midweek impressions: the EPL

1) David Moyes has pretty much cemented his claim to best manager in Merseyside. Not to keep with the torrent of anti-Benitez screed being poured (most of it ridiculous and vindictive stuff), but to draw Liverpool and Arsenal away with that "what is it?" 4-6-0 is just brilliant stuff. He's really created a club that plays together as a team and clearly wants to take games. Cahill and Lescott have some of the best heads in England at the moment, and Fellaini has turned the "look at his hair!" peanut gallery into a respectful crowd. Yakubu? Who needs him?

2) Benitez is not "cracking under the pressure," hes just being Rafael Benitez. Ownership intrigues/accusations against the big club in town of referee influencing/inexplicable substitutions/negative football are his stock and trade. Anyone who has watched Valencia and Liverpool over the past decade should know the Benitez we saw at the beginning of the year, throwing on players to get the win and playing offensive squads, was an anomaly. Welcome back Rafa.

3) Pompey is bracing for the drop. They've shown no ambition to keep quality players, and Tony Adams is clearly having his career eaten alive by trying to pilot a sinking ship. Even Stoke is struggling and hard fouling their way to scramble out of the relegation zone. Pompey just seems to have accepted a fall and begun clearing house for it. Sad stuff this economy has done to a likeable and fun mid-table club.

4) There's going to be a battle for fourth, and not the one you expected. Liverpool obviously can't keep on the slide much longer, and the heart of guys like Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard should pull them back up. But with John Carew back in place with Gabby Ag, Emile Heskey the top-form player above 30 and Wilfred Bouma ready to slot into Martin Laursen's place, Villa could be a threat to eclipse a dejected Liverpool side. Liverpool should pick themselves up by the bootstraps fast unless they want to be fighting for Champions League survival. Liverpool is clearly missing both Emiliano Insua and Xabi Alonso. They can't come back soon enough.

5) Andrei Arshavin. Can anyone tell me why Arsenal needs another volatile but creatively gifted winger/striker/attacking midfielder guy who plays in that nebulous little undefined zone that Arsene Wenger loves? Arsenal's whole team is in danger of being sucked into the black hole that is their central midfield just so Wenger can keep the Ars- symmetry of his beautiful squad intact.

Bonus: What happened to Alfonso Alves? This guy was scoring a goal plus every game, one time even seven in one game over in the Eredivisie (admittedly, even Dirk Kuyt was able to look like a Michael Owen there), but 4 goals in 21 starts? This guy was supposed to revolutionize Boro, link up with Stewart Downing and make them a mid-table team to fear. Where's the magic?

1) Patrice Evra. I don't like Man U. I don't like most of their players and I just don't like the whole team in general. But I gladly make an exception for Patrice Evra, he is surely one of the best backs around today. Manchester made a bad start and were finding their way back to the top, but something was missing. Their performances were getting progressively worse and it was only a matter of time until they would fail to score that goal that made the difference so many times this season. But time after time Patrice would be there to make the difference. Storming up and down on the flanks with such tenacity and providing an instant lift for the team. These performances have placed Manchester in the top position yet again, although a lot of people thought the title race would purely be between Liverpool and Chelsea. Damn it Fergie, you've done it again.

2) The Young a.k.a De Jong. Back in his Ajax days this guy could get me so raged. No one really knew what he was, was he a midfielder? An attacking midfielder? What side did he play on? No one knew. And he also had the nasty habit of clutching the ball under his foot everytime he got it. Then he would take a nice look around and check out all the possibilities where he could play, ruthlessly taking all the speed out of an attack. He got his name on the scoring sheet quite a lot but the fans never really knew what his real value was for the squad. He was just... there. Then came the move to HSV, he became a man. He looked at himself and said “What kind of player am I. What is my purpose on the pitch?” From there on he developed himself to one of the most efficient ball winners in the Bundesliga and continued his level of performances in the dutch national squad at the euros last year. With this kind of focus and his professional approach he can grow out to be a player with the same capacities as Gattuso, Cambiasso or Makelele. A player which is needed in every top team, who wins the ball and gets it to another man who can set up an attack and at the same time prevents the other team from doing just this. So as long as he can keep his feet on the ground with the money he's making now, I see a great future ahead of him.

3) The main thing I like about Hull is Phil Brown. This charismatic leader got Hull off to one of the most insane starts a Premier League newcomer has ever had. Grabbing wins against top 4 teams and pumping out class performances like they've been in the Premier League for ages. You can see Brown is a real motivator, he gets players in the right state of mind to give everything for the team and stay focused for the full 90 minutes. The best example of his character was his half-time team talk during the Man City game (4-0 behind after the first 45 minutes). The players were already heading back to the dressing room but Phil had them sit down on the field and gave his team talk there in front of all the fans. Surrounded by the sole reason they are on the field for in the first place (the fans), the team witnessed Phil Brown trying to make a statement. Keep focused and keep on working for the team. That, next to some great transfers, is the key to Hull's performances. But with such small differences it'll still be a major task for the Tigers to survive in the Premier League.


Goldenbutt's screamer versus Genoa. Somebody's got something to prove to Fab in the stands.

I have to wonder whether the boys at the Guardian podcast are right. Does Becks really have an exceptional physique or is Serie A really that bad? Not like this isn't the ancient player preservation league, where the old folks of the game go out to pasture (notice a certain 40 year old central defender celebrating with the Golden One), but after years of uninspiring performances at the top level he's suddenly keeping a (recently much slower) Ronaldinho out of the side. Is everyone around him just beat down more than him, or are we seeing a real rejuvenation of the career of England's most prized American export?

What do you think?

Has Rafa Benitez been watching a lot of Spanish 3rd division football recently?

This is what happens when you get into contract disputes with Spaniards. Remind you of anyone?

welcome to footy transfers

Possibly the worst-named blog on the planet. 

You will eventually come to rue clicking this link. You will hate this site, despise it even, for its ability to suck you in and cause you to waste hours reading it. You will hate; but you will click. There will be ridiculous videos, hilarious jokes, pointed analysis. There will be football.

Welcome home.

So far the authors are myself (Luka) and the other guy (Gino). 


Liverpool/Inter bloodletting screaming obsessed devotee. Likes a few other clubs too. Has an unrepentant schoolgirl crush on Jose Mourinho. Thinks Jamie Carragher is the greatest defender ever based on sheer yelling power. Bitches about the influence money has on the sport while demanding his club buy players like Ricardo Quaresma and David Silva. All around great guy.


I'm a hardcore football fan and I try to follow as much as I can. My main love is Ajax and next to that I'm a fanatic Liverpool and Lazio supporter. My love for football is so big that I don't really bear any grudges against certain football clubs, even the arch enemies of the clubs I love get only a moderate ammount of hate. The main thing I look for in a player is character and style. And with style I don't mean everything has to be pretty but a that a player should be consistent in the way he acts and moves on the pitch. So it doesn't matter if it's Suarez or Quaresma smashing through the defense or Cambiasso or Enoh cleverly getting the ball and setting up a quick counter. Next to that there's all the drama. I love it. The unfair decisions, the whiny players, the megalomanic coaches and most of all the plain stupidity of those old farts running this whole circus.