Sullivan wants Beckham at Upton Park

Posted May 29, 2010 by tristanmann
Categories: football, West Ham United

“Everyone wants to be popular, but sometimes you have to do things that are for good rather than popularity.”

Words of wisdom from West Ham’s co-owner David Sullivan there, and it seems this piece of advice was right at the

Will Becks make David Sullivan the happiest man in the world?

 forefront of his mind when he today announced that he would love to sign David Beckham.

Ignoring the fact the Hammers are in somewhat of a financial pickle and narrowly avoided relegation last season, Sullivan believes 35-year-old Beckham is the man to turn around the club’s fortunes. He also revealed he tried to re-sign Joe Cole and it is believed Diego Maradona and Julian Dicks are on an extensive wishlist. He told the Daily Mail:

“If AC Milan didn’t want him in January and if he still wanted to do it, I’d love to have him. He seems a remarkable professional.”

In terms of populist moves, few can trump a bid to sign David Beckham, and no doubt Sullivan would be willing to throw in one of his fantastic jackets as a lure. Just how they would be able to afford Beckham’s stellar wages is another question, but who wants to be bogged down by such matters. And anyway, who needs sound financial infastructure when you’ve got David Beckham?

Sullivan is a comical figure at the best of times, but his and David Gold’s constant interfering with West Ham is beginning to make the club a joke. Attempting to sign players the club can’t afford, sacking Gianfranco Zola for saving the club from relegation and putting the entire squad bar Scott Parker up for sale are amongst the owner’s most questionable decisions so far. One imagines more are yet to follow. 

For further proof of what a ridiculous man David Sullivan is, there are ample quotes and pictures here.

Beckham turns teacher

Posted May 28, 2010 by tristanmann
Categories: England, Uncategorized, World Cup 2010

Tags: , , , , ,

Sunburn, getting mugged, bad pitches, and getting mugged again. These are just some of the things players at this summer’s World Cup might be afraid of. Unfortunately Theo Walcott’s name is unlikely to be added to that list after a rather embarrassing story on the Daily Mail website today proclaims:

David Beckham is teaching Theo Walcott how to cross

Would Becks be impressed by this technique?

The fact that our first choice winger is having being taught how to cross a football two weeks before the start of the tournament will no doubt have Brazil and Spain either a) looking fearfully at their wallcharts, working out when they might have to face this fearsome winger, or b) holding back fits of laughter whilst trying to keep straight faces. I suspect the latter will be closer to the truth.

It is something that has become worryingly clear about Walcott, that apart from his blistering pace, he really doesn’t have much else going for him. While Becks is at it, maybe he should show Theo how to pass, shoot and do something other than run in a straight line until he loses the ball.

Now, Walcott is only 21 and is already going to his second World Cup, but it doesn’t seem like he has the necessary skill set to really trouble defences now that his pace is no longer a surprise to the opposition, as it was when he scored his hat-trick against Croatia. How long he is going to be able to live off that by the way?

It must be said that England’s other options on the right, Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips could also be seen as nothing more than pacey one trick ponies too, but with Lennon you at least get the sense that there may be some kind of end product.

I wonder if Walcott may be more effectively used from the bench when the opposition are gettng tired, but it seems that Capello is a fan of his pace, if nothing else. I may even be inclined to give Adam Johnson a go on the right against Japan. Who knows, he may even know how to cross already.

Arsenal Chairman resigned to losing Cesc? Who knows

Posted May 27, 2010 by tristanmann
Categories: Arsenal, football, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

They say all good things must come to an end. Ashley and Cheryl’s marriage, Lost and Diego Maradona’s grip on reality are just a few examples of this. You may now also want to add ‘Cesc Fabregas playing for Arsenal’ to that list, as it appears even saggy-eyed Chairman Peter Hill-Wood is resigned to losing the bearded-wonder.

"So long seaons of unfulfilled promise and disappointment, I'm of to Barca!" Is what Fabregas might be saying here.

Only a week ago, Hill-Wood was putting on his bravest face, telling goal.com:

“We (Arsenal) don’t want to lose him and we will do our damnedest to keep him.”

However, that optimism has now faded into the background, only to be replaced by a sense of doomed resignation, when he told soccernet today:

“It is our policy that we give the manager a transfer budget which includes the ability to use all the money from player sales.”

Now, he is either talking about the £2.50 he would raise from selling Manuel Almunia and Lucas Fabianski, or, infinitely more likely, he is talking about the mega-bucks Arsenal would receive when they sell Fabregas to Barcelona.

Of course, Hill-Wood stopped short of confirming the Spainard was leaving, rather unhelpfully saying:

“Fabregas might stay, he might go, I have no idea, and have no intention of  making any comment on the subject.”

Just the kind of fighting talk i’m sure many Arsenal fans wanted to hear.

Wilshere’s time to shine?

Posted May 26, 2010 by tristanmann
Categories: Arsenal, football, Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

Is Wilshere mousey-faced enough to fill Fabregas' boots?

With Arsenal almost certain to lose mousey-faced linchpin Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona this summer, the club and their supporters will hardly be buoyed by the news that mousey-faced reserve man Fran Merida is also heading back to Spain, and will be hot-footing it to the Vicente Calderon where he will be unveiled by Atletico Madrid on Friday.

This poses two questions. One, who will be the defunct mousey-faced member of the squad now, and two, will the departure of Merida and imminent departure of Fabregas, pave the way for Jack Wilshere to cement a regular place in Arsenal’s first XI?

The boring, and perhaps more likely answer would be a simple no, Wenger will buy a replacement for Fabregas, or move Samir Nasri into the middle, where he played on occasion last season. But for the purposes of a longer blog, we shall plump for the more interesting answer, yes, yes it will.

Wilshere, despite being only 18, has long been seen as a future Arsenal and England star. His ability to dribble, shoot and pick a pass that isn’t sideways or backwards makes him unusual for an English midfielder, especially one so young, and in that respect he has the potential to fill Fabregas’ shoes.

He has also shown he can cut it in the Premier League with his impressive performances on loan at Bolton last season. Kevin Davies though, somewhat unsurprisingly, said he was more impressed by Wilshere’s willingness to make a tackle, clearly showing where his priorities lie.

With the £30 million plus that Fabregas will bring in, there will be more than enough for Wenger to go out and buy a replacement for the Spainard, and at 18, being thrust into the Arsenal starting XI may be a season too soon for Wilshere. But Wenger has faith in his youngsters, and what better way to show this by giving Wilshere a starting berth next season.

If he does, some fans will, again, bemoan his lack of spending, but it could also be a big gamble that pays off.

Too much hype surrounding James Milner?

Posted May 21, 2010 by tristanmann
Categories: football, Manchester City

Tags: , , , ,

“Hey, that guy has a vague chimpunk-like quality about him,” they used to say. Well not any more. These days James Milner is being lauded as England’s second best hope of achieving semi-final penalty heartbreak in South Africa, the man to guide Manchester City to their first Premier League title and Aston Villa’s most prized asset.

Of these three, the most accurate is probably the last one, but such have been the 24-year-old’s performances this

James Milner: world beater?

 season, the inevitable hype! hype! hype! has followed.

Back in January Milner was still not guaranteed to make Fabio Capello’s England squad for this summer’s World Cup, but since Gareth Barry’s ankle ligament injury, the Aston Villa man is now being touted by many to start England’s opening game next to Frank Lampard in the centre of midfield. As well as this, it was also announced that Villa had turned down a £20 million offer for the player from Manchester City yesterday.

All of this raises a few questions. Firstly, when and how did Milner go from being a useful option for Capello who has showed this season that he can play anywhere across the midfield to being worth £20 million, or half a Cesc Fabregas as one newspaper handily put it?

And secondly, do City really believe that Milner is the player they need to propel their title ambitions for next season considering the unlimited funds at their disposal?

The first question can easily be put to bed. The media and public are desperate to ignore the fact that, with Gareth Barry far from certain to be fit for England’s opener on 12 June, there just isn’t a decent back-up option. We all realise this, but instead of admitting it, we are now pretending Milner is one of the great midfield generals of the game. Gareth Barry who?

Milner was indeed a revelation for Villa this season as he moved in-field to play along Stiliyan Petrov. However, despite his promising displays, he was often subdued when playing the bigger teams, as shown in the League Cup final against Manchester United. He may well have the ability to get England through the group games, but I doubt whether he has the know-how to excel against the better teams in the latter stages of the competition. One would hope Barry would be back by then.

On to the second question, which is a bit trickier. If City had finished fourth, I don’t think they would be giving Milner even a second glance. Instead they would have turned their attentions to someone with Champions League experience ( I know Milner has some, but so does Kieran Richardson if we’re playing like that) who has some international pedigree. As it is City now know it will be harder to attract that sort of player, having only qualified for the Europa League for next season.

Despite this, however, Roberto Mancini has already said City aim to win the Premier League next season, but do they really expect to do so with James Milner at the heart of this? Undoubtedly he is a good player, but is he any better than Stephen Ireland is when given a proper run in the team?  And perhaps more importantly, would he take the place of either Gareth Barry or the excellent Nigel De Jong? I’m not so sure.

Milner has proved his versatility this season, and his impressive performances in the centre of midfield show he has what it takes to play there. But after just one season of doing, I don’t think he is ready to make the step up to England starter, or someone who City should be obtaining to win the league for them. Maybe in a few years, but just not yet.

Evans has more than earnt his new deal

Posted May 5, 2010 by tristanmann
Categories: football, Manchester United, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , ,

Evans has become an integral part of the United back four this season.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revelaed that defender Jonny Evans is close to signing a new long-term contract at the club.

In a season where Rio Ferdinand has spent more time thinking up new ways to ‘merk’ his team mates than play football, and Nemanja Vidic has continuously flirted with clubs abroad, Evans has been an impressive performer in United’s back four. And although confirmation of his new contract is yet to be announced, it is thought it will be confirmed in the coming days.

Neither Ferdinand nor Vidic have been ever-presents this term, meaning the 22-year-old has had to fill in when one, or both of United’s first-choice pairing have been absent, and despite not having a consistent centre-back partner, has excelled when called upon.

Although still prone to the occasional silly error, Evans has come along leaps and bounds this season, and has displayed the no-nonsense approach of Vidic, while also showing he can play a bit too, a la Ferdinand.

His displays have certainly earned him his new contract, and as Ferguson said: “Jonny has proved himself.” ‘Nuff said.

The news will be welcomed by United supporters, who may have had some doubts about next season, considering Ferdinand’s inabililty to recover from a chronic back injury, and doubts over Vidic’s future.

However, with Evans becoming an increasingly valuable member of the squad, and with John O’Shea and Wes Brown recovering from respective injuries, as well as the signing of Chris Smalling from Fulham, things look positive for the United defence. And while they have had their critics this season, it may be worth remembering still that United have the best defence in the Premier League, down in no small part to a Mr Evans.

Now or never for Spurs?

Posted May 5, 2010 by tristanmann
Categories: football, Tottenham Hotspur, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , ,

Now the bottom three have been confirmed, and it is a near certainty Chelsea will be crowned Premier League champions this weekend, pundits and newspaper columnists across the land are desperately trying to convince us that there is still something mildly interesting about the rest of the season, honest.

Is there more pressure on Spurs and Harry Redkanpp to finish fourth this season?

That mildly interesting something comes in the form of the race for fourth place, and a Champions League qualification spot for next season. It is now between Manchester City and Tottenham, and with the two playing each other at Eastlands tonight, it is essentially a play-off for fourth. Winner takes all. The prize is there, just go and grab it. Except, Spurs will be quite happy with a draw, and why would they go out guns blazing when a point would suffice?

Harry Redknapp has added a bit of spice to the affair by claiming City bullied them out of signing Craig Bellamy last year. “City said: ‘If you do not drop out of Bellamy, we are going to sign Palacios.’ They said: ‘If you pull out of Bellamy, we will pull out of Palacios and then we both get a player,’” said the droopey-eyed Spurs manager as he threw the rest of his toys out of the pram.

While City instructed their team of sharp-suited, highly-paid lawyers to ‘look into’ the comments made, Redknapp continued by saying that Spurs were not the team under pressure tonight by reasoning: “‘We set out for a top-seven finish so we’ve definitely exceeded expectations. There’s more pressure on them.”

However, I would question this claim. Yes, City are under a certain amount of pressure to finish fourth this season, but I would say that pressure is shouldered mainly by manager Roberto Mancini more than anyone else, and a failure to take City to the Champions League could see him leave the club.

But the fact the Eastlands club have such a financial backing behind them suggests it is only a matter of time before they break the hegemony of the top teams, and judging by Liverpool’s fall from grace, this may come around sooner rather than later. If City fail to get fourth this time around, it would be highly surprising if it happened again next season.

Tottenham, on the other hand, may never have such a good opportunity to achieve the Champions League football some of their displays have merited this season. In a campaign when all the big hitters have been nowhere near their best, this was an ideal chance for team harbouring Champions League ambitions, such as Spurs, Aston Villa, Everton and City to really take the initiative.

But when City undoubtedly throw their millions around this summer, I can’t see Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea being as poor as they have been this term, will Spurs have missed a trick if they miss out on fourth?

Yes, Harry said they were just aiming for a top seven finish this season, but now the chance for something so much more has opened up, Tottenham need to take full adavantage of the situation, as who knows when it will be available to them again.

No doubt the comments made by Harry were just good-old mind games, but for Spurs fans, the lure of Champions League football is massive, and just by that fact alone, there is huge pressure on Spurs tonight.


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