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.