As long as there is both football and human weakness, there will be allegations of match-fixing. But a decent start would be an independent, national body...
As Gerrard and Henderson both struggle with injuries, was it a mistake for Liverpool to sell Jonjo Shelvey? Plus, thoughts on Arsenal, Everton, United and Chelsea's strikers...
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Moyes Has Failed His First Test
Well it appears from the outside that Moyes has failed his first test as manager of Man Utd, I was confused and a little perturbed by his comments about Rooney being mere back up to RVP and now Rooney is 'angry and confused'.
Don't get me wrong; I want Rooney out of United ASAP because you don't (allegedly) state your desire to leave the club once, let alone twice, and his performances and fitness last season certainly don't warrant a pay rise or number one status in the side.
Moyes has dropped a bollock here though, on one hand he tells us that he wants Rooney to stay but on the other he has now managed to ostracise him which some will see as a slap down but in my eyes it's the first indication that Moyes might struggle handling the egos of the top players at the club. I certainly hope I'm wrong and time will prove that Moyes was right to do what he has but it isn't going to help those fans who weren't exactly jumping for joy at his appointment and who will remain sceptical at best.
Worrying times ahead?
...Let's face it, United don't have much to worry about...yet. But few things to note:
1) Moyes has already started on the wrong foot by stating that Rooney wouldn't be an automatic starter for the club. You don't really need to do that as the Manager do you. In all these years of Fergie running the club he's rarely given away which players he wishes to start games with except for the last minute. This, i'm pretty sure, kept everyone guessing and fighting for positions. What's the point in announcing these things during the off season. Not a bright move I think.
2) Good Managers add points to clubs even before their teams set foot on the pitch due to various reasons and i'm pretty sure that would be the case for Mourinho and Pellegrini. Therefore, expect a tight contest for sure this term. United is definitely not going to run away with it this time me thinks.
3) Fellaini is definitely a better bet in midfield than Fabrigas. Why? Because we have never truly been able to replace Keano. Creativity in midfield we do possess but none like the kind of Yaya Toure (who can defend as well as he attacks).
United has never played like or do not possess players like the ones in Barca who focus on central midfield. Our strength has been from the wings with able support in CM in the form of Scholes and Carrick who have, at times, have provided able creative support. Therefore our strength should still be providing crosses and fast counter attacks than looking to dominate midfields which, I feel, is something we should never focus on. Trying to buy Fabrigas is plain stupid (also because Kagawa is in the same mould anyway). Enough said.
Awww poor Wayne Rooney, he is 'confused and angry' at Man Utd I feel for the guy I really do. He earns 250k a week and plays for the best team in England, he also fulfils my dream on a weekly basis of running out onto the Old Trafford pitch with tens of thousands of fans chanting your name and quite often scoring and hearing them adore him with yet another rendition of the White Pele song.
Grow a pair Wayne and fight for your place, in 2010 you complained the club had no ambition, handed in a transfer request and believed you were nigh on untouchable. In 2012 we signed RVP and in 2013 we won the league with RVP being the stand out man. A few weeks later you trudge into SAF's office like a spoilt little girl at xmas who hasn't gotten the present she asked for whilst her brother unwrapped his shiny new Xbox console, and moaned about not being the big boy on the block anymore. I can imagine some pathetic little conversation between Wayne and SAF where Wayne keeps asking "you love him more than me don't you? Admit it!"
I find this man odious, I find his professionalism lacking and I find his commitment to the club an absolute disgrace. If you can't handle it pal you can quite simply do one, your attitude is poor and unless it changes, it sounds like you belong at the sulkers club in London with the likes of Lampard and Terry.
Buck up or shut up.
...Following Rooney's latest PR campaign, does anybody else suspect that Rooney being "angry and confused" is a fairly normal state of being when confronted with anything more complicated than a football. His relationship with Fergie always struck me as similar to that of Dougall with Father Ted.
What's Happened To United's PR?
After having read F365's article, "United need action not bad PR", I thought it raised a pertinent question: what is actually happening with their PR department? It's not like United aren't a multi million (billion) pound organisation, so why does it appear their public management is organised by a particularly hate filled Liverpool fan intent on sh*tting on the clubs image?
Firstly, letting Moyes tell everyone that "Fergie had rung him up and told him he had the job" was an error. Appointing Moyes in the first place was hardly going to be perceived as a daring and creative decision, so why not have somebody come out with the "we want another manager that's here for two decades" line, rather than let it appear the outgoing boss (with his increasingly bad decision making as time went on at OT) chose his own replacement? The fact he's scottish contributes to the "did his mate a favour" vibe, rather than foster confidence among the supporters.
Secondly, Moyes makes a statement equivalent to basically prodding Wayne Rooney in the balls with a stick made of angry bees, after making noises about wanting to keep him at the club. Really? Well that's just about the worst possible way to go about doing it. Totally bizarre decision, it makes no sense in any context, whether we wish to sell the guy or not.
Thirdly, a day after we lose out on a player saying he was moving "for playing time" to a club already stacked with world class midfielders, Moyes says we're in for the worlds best players..then proceeds to submit an insane, totally unrealistic bid for a player that cried for two years to leave the prem, whilst the rest of Europe signs up some decent players at affordable prices. It's been a shambles.
Previously, I would have attributed Uniteds bizarre management down to the power of stubborn Fergie, having been as big a part of the club as the stadium we play in - but what's the excuse now? Surely given the fans desire for a CM (that we've needed and been whining on about for about half a decade minimum); having a deal for a midfielder ready for Moyes' inauguration would have made such a difference to fans perceptions of the new manager. Are they thick? Or am I just a C.V and an application away from being a highly paid football PR genius at one of the worlds biggest clubs?
It's either total madness or complete incompetence, and neither bodes particularly well for the post Fergie era so far.
Should Arsenal Join The Fun?
This talk of Santi to Atletico Madrid got me thinking. With the offer of £10m plus Mata/Luiz from Chelski for Rooney it would actually make real sense for Arsenal to offer a similar scenario but with Santi. The reason being (and assuming he is angling for a move) it could clear the path for Arsenal to get Cesc back from Barca. ManYoo would get what they want (Rooney off their books and a creative midfielder + budget for Fellaini/Another striker etc.) and Arsenal get what they want (a returning idol + a marquee signing). I for one would be happy with that as it would mean we'd win the league next year. Guaranteed.
JazGooner (would be sad to lose the little fella though, great player)
Little Value In Big-Money Buys
There seems to be, at least in footballing terms, very little value in big money transfers. Now, I don't mean to say that all expensive players are overpriced. Many are well worth the money, especially given the marketing value of certain players. However, players that cost really big money are a huge gamble and so often fail to deliver footballing value for money (ie make their teams better) that it astonishes me clubs are willing to pay the prices they are.
If you look at the 50 biggest transfers ever, how many really made the difference and made a team much better? I will largely exclude players for high spending teams who were all bought together in a short timespan so judging their individual impact is impossible (eg Galacticos, PSG). Ronaldo,for £80m and Kaka for 56m have won one cup and one league in 4 years. Ibrahimovic (for Barca), Shevchenko and Torres (for Chelsea), Carroll, Veron, Berbatov, and Robinho were all club record signings. Hulk and Witsel, cost combined at over 80m, joined champions Zenit who then finished second. Crespo and Mendieta joined champions Lazio for a combined 75m in 2000 only for them to begin a decline.
The list goes on. In fact the only players on the list that joined teams that got better were Nedved, Buffon, Javi Martinez, Rooney, Ferdinand, Inzaghi, Rui Costa, and Torres (LFC), Dani Alves, and Falcao (to Athletico). Essien, Drogba, and Aguerro are debatable given their teams. That's 10 (or 13) out of 50 (or 39 if you exclude PSG, Galacticos and 2013 transfers). Not a great percentage no matter how you cut it.
The reality is that mega transfers are not and never will be the key to success on the pitch. They simply too rarely are value for money, notwithstanding how many shirts, tickets, or Calvin Klein underwear a star may sell.
I don't have time to research this, but my impression is that players who cost between £20 and £28m are more consistently good value transfers than those that cost more. I speculate one of the reasons for this is that many mega money players play in teams and leagues that work very well for their style of play (which is how they become so expensive) and then fail to adapt to their new team or the pressure of a big deal. Perhaps it is also just that the differences between a 25m and 40m player are much more intangible than between a 25m and 15m player. I'm not really sure.
Either way, it shows why savy managers like SAF and Wenger tend to avoid signing "Marquee" players.
Supporter v Fan
Ok, I'll bite....
Graham Simons, (I haven't got an alternative local club so that means boycotting football) Gooner, Norf London, things could be a lot worse for Arsenal at present. Yes, Suarez is a controversial and generally unlikeable chap, but that's still a world class player that will cost in excess of £20m. Liverpool fans will tell you despite the embarrassment he can bring upon the club, he can be a pleasure to watch.
However, the point of my mail is relating to your hopefully tongue in cheek comment about no other alternative clubs. Being from North London I accept Spurs are out of the equation. But football doesn't end in the Premier League. Kings Cross is walking distance from The Emirates, a ride across London on the Circle Line to Wood Lane will get you a laugh down at QPR. Having seen them self-destruct in a blaze of burning bank notes should remind you the prudence of Arsenal gives you reason to be grateful to be a Gooner.
A trip on the Northern Line would take you up to Barnet to see Edgar Davids having a crack at getting back to the Football League at the first attempt. Relegated to the conference at the end of last season as opposed to qualifying for the Champions League will highlight the different worlds of football that are only around 10 miles apart.
Further down the footballing ladder, Isthmian Premier League outfit Enfield Town are less than 10 miles away and Hendon not much further. With non-league teams struggling for money any spectators through the gates would be welcomed and it gives another North London Derby for you to enjoy.
But perhaps the team that could do with the most help is Leyton Orient, with West Ham due to land on their doorstep at the Olympic Stadium taking some of the local support away and putting them in real danger of going out of existence. The fans that leave to see the £20m+ stars of the Premier League that you are turning your back on could be replaced yourself and others disillusioned with the likes of Suarez et al. Granted for such a short distance the journey isn't simple, but neither is the commute from Coventry to Northampton, just one hardship of a lower league supporter.
There are far worse struggles of a supporter than being linked with a £20m player. By all means stand by your principles if you feel that strongly and this is the tipping point, but other teams would welcome that kind of problem and also welcome your support.
Which leads me to a ask a question to the mailbox; is there a difference between being a supporter of a club or a fan? I genuinely think people that follow lower league clubs are supporters. They keep going through adversity; support, maintain, sustain, uphold. Those spoilt with the riches of the top flight are fans, defined as someone with a strong interest in or admiration, but to me a lack of loyalty.
More Great Own Goals
I enjoyed Matt Stanger's article about the greatest own goals of all time. I think I've watched Chris Brass' own goal about 10 times already!
However I can't help but feel the list would have been significantly enhanced by Inigo Martinez's brilliant offering for the Spain under 21s.......
Not many players who can say they have scored 40 yard full volleyed back heels past David De Gea.
...I realise I'm a bit late to the best own goals party, but this 'thunderb*stard' of an OG has got to be worth a final word on the subject. I give you former Boro/Brum left back Franck Queudrue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gkm-DOfYcU
I'd love to know what excuses he's trying to give to the bench at the end of the video there.
Olly Cole, THFC