...so Louis van Gaal really needs to get his thinking cap on. Does he abandon his favourite formation to make room for Adnan Januzaj? It's also big for Arsenal's Germans and Big Sam.
After the departures of Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois to Chelsea, plenty are saying Atletico Madrid won't retain their title. Tim Stannard thinks otherwise...
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Arsenal Don't Need Cesc
Now that the season has ended Arsenal are very likely to lose our first-choice right-back; our second and third-choice goalies; our third and fourth-choice centre-backs, and our third-choice striker. Add to that the widely held belief that we could do with a serious upgrade to our strikers and a bit of an upgrade in the holding midfield department. There is also an argument that some pace on the flanks to reduce our over-reliance on Walcott would help.
In fact one could argue that only in the box-to-box midfielder role (Ramsey, Wilshere and the Ox) and the attacking central midfielder role (Ozil, Cazorla and Rosicky) are we fully covered and not in need of any additions at all.
So, this morning I awake to find that we are linked with Cesc Fabregas who, wait for it, played his best football for us either in the box-to-box role or as the most attacking central midfielder.
Now don't get me wrong, I love Cesc. After Henry left Cesc became my absolute favourite player in the side and I died a little inside the day he left. My heart says yes, yes, yes but my head says no, no, no. We have a surprisingly long shopping list for a club where the only first-choice player leaving is our right-back. Despite the term 'War-chest' being banded around we cannot afford to spend £35mil on the one area of the pitch where we have an abundance of quality.
The mad thing is that I can almost see it happening simply because it is entirely the wrong signing for us. When has Wenger been able to resist a technically gifted but diminutive attacking central midfielder? He absolutely loves them. Also, when has Wenger ever listened to the massed voices of the media or the fanbase telling him what he needs to do? He almost revels in doing the opposite.
So if he were to bring Cesc back I would sit banging my head against the table while my heart sang a little song of joy.
Not An 'Arry Fan
I enjoyed reading about not Mr Storey didn't fancy supporting QPR this weekend thanks, in no small part, to them being managed by the ubiquitous Mr Redknapp. I agree.
I am happy to be proven wrong, but I just don't see what the fuss is with Harry. Everyone says that he is a "good man manager", a "wheeler dealer", an all-round "football man" and is incredibly well-endowed. This was possibly true when he came in and became the Saviour of Spurs TM, but from what I've seen his man management is limited, at best. He gets a set of players to perform and then, as soon as they stop listening or he can't get them playing well anymore, he finds a transfer window, sticks his mug outside a car window and buys more players, seemingly because he can. Then, because he's got a whole load of new players trying to impress and the fortunes of the team improve, he's hailed as a genius, until they stop performing and he buys some more and the cycle continues.
As for being a canny operator in the transfer market, he has hardly assembled a team of local heroes, loans and Bosmans at QPR, has he?
This is the chief reason that I believe he would have been terrible as England manager, as he is unable to fundamentally change a team's fortunes in difficult spells without spending on a fresh input of skill and flair.
Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend y'all!
Two of the best players to ever come from my tiny principality retired this week, but I could only ever call one of them a Welsh legend. Ryan Giggs is revered by Manchester United fans quite rightly, but I never saw him as Welsh. His performances, when he deigned to show up, were often half arsed and his appearance and goal figures bear this viewpoint testimony.
On the other hand, I can't imagine a Wales side without Bellamy leading the line. At his peak he was beaten in every attribute by Giggs besides pace and team effort. And it's for the latter I lovdle him. We're terrible. Always have been. Craig even said himself in interviews when we'd been especially bad. But every game he played like a Welsh fan, running his heart out, harrying defenders and providing hope that while he was still running, maybe, just maybe we might get something from the game.
So I wish him a happy retirement, and his charity work well, and he will always be fondly remembered by myself as one of my favourite ever players.
He'll Landon His Feet
That soft rumble you may have heard yesterday that you dismissed as your dog farting was actually the sound of the US soccer world exploding. Landon "Landycakes" Donovan has been left off the US 23 man roster for the World Cup.
Yesterday morning I had very little respect for the USMNT and Jurgen Klinsmann as a manager. Though my feelings haven't changed it's nice to see Jurgen back to his pragmatic best.
The fact that Donovan even made the 30 man preliminary squad was an outrage. Regardless of quality of the player the fact remains that Landycakes (allegedly) abandoned the US national team during important World Cup qualifiers because he was (allegedly) throwing a tantrum because the MLS (allegedly) blocked his move the Premier League. He had no right to even be in the setup.
Let's get something straight. Landon Donovan is not the face of the US national team because he earned it. It's because the USA FA wanted it that way. He was handpicked, groomed, and force fed like a boy band. While other more talented US players went the hard way and forced recognition by playing wonderful football such as Dempsey and Howard.
Donovan is a player who failed to impress during his spells abroad until his late twenties, and often went missing in any game outside the United States for the national team.
Now he is over-weight, out of form, and a shadow of the player he was even 2 years ago. So kudos to Klinsmann for making a tough decision which he will be dogged with for the rest of his tenure by the overwhelming amount of USMNT fans the only seem to appear once every 4 years.
Brian (For the those West Ham fans complaining about boring football, I challenge you to watch a Philadelphia Unioin game and stay awake) LFC
I think Johnny Nic is confusing tradition with looking at the past with rose tinted spectacles. Spend an evening watching Fiddler on the Roof. That will tell you what tradition is all about.
Any Spurs fan (and most visiting fans) will tell you that White Hart Lane is one of, if not THE, most frustrating grounds to get to. It was a pain in the backside to get to the ground in 1956 when I started supporting Spurs and still is. But no one was really in favour of moving to the Olympic Park; preferring the inconvenience of walking faster than a bus along Tottenham High Road. That is tradition. Spurs did play open attacking football when I was but a boy, and off and on throughout the last sixty years. They have also played some dire stuff but people's clouded perception rules in favour of the former.
Look at Cardiff and Hull. The owners overturned traditional colours and names. No one likes it. It has nothing to do with how they actually play football. Early in the season I watched Coventry supporters standing on a hill outside the Northampton ground getting soaked because they supported the team, not what was going on at boardroom and investment company levels. That is tradition.
Hammers fans still blow bubbles. Gunners fans stood in front of the clock at the Clock End so didn't know when the game was over. Frank Rae donned a white suit and got the Cup Final crowd to sing 'Abide With Me'. Think what Last night of the Proms would be without Land of Hope and Glory or the Womens Institute without Jerusalem. You take away these traditions at your cost; the very fabric of our society would crumble!
Forgive me if I'm wrong but has John Painter north London not missed Graham Simons point a bit?
I'd totally agree with Graham that it's going to be a while before City can compete with the likes of United, Liverpool, Madrid or Bayern for players hearts.
Of course the likes of PSG, City and Monaco can sign the world's very best players, they can talk to their wallets. That's not meant to be a dig at City, it's simply the fact of the matter that right now I very much doubt Yaya, Aguero or almost any of City's players grew up in Argentina or the Ivory Coast dreaming of pulling on the sky blue shirt of City.
Until the young players growing up now reach the professional level City don't have the same stature in football history which would be a draw regardless of wages offered.
John's right, it doesn't matter if players were fans as kids, they can still perform on the pitch. But, off the pitch there's the danger that they'll continue to see themselves as 'bigger than the club' as Yaya appears to right now.
Stu - Bluebird - Cardiff
Everyone seems to be missing the point with Lallana's value.
There is a 25% sell on clause to Bournemouth, so if we rate him at £20m, then we will need to ask for £27m to get that amount of money. The other point is you may not feel he is worth that much to Liverpool, but the point is he IS worth that much to Southampton. He is our captain, he is integral to how we play and he is our biggest shirt seller. If he really wants to go then we shouldn't stand in his way, he's been a brilliant servant and inspiration and deserves to play Champions League football, but only for the right price.
If it does happen, hopefully Gaston Ramirez can actually put together some consistent performances and replace him, he certainly has the talent.
Simon (Think we should sell Shaw for £30m though) Goddard, SFC
With Toni Kroos' move to ManYoo seemingly having fallen through, may I point out to everyone that we have just narrowly avoided the terrifying prospect of TWO players with 'ROO' in their names playing for the Reds. Go on, just take a second to let the immensity of that dodged bullet sink in.
Somewhere, a Sun headline writer is pulling on a black armband.
Most days I wake up with songs in my head. The variety can be somewhat incongruous: This week I've gone from The Tornado's "Telstar" to All Saints "Pure Shores" with a seemingly never-ending version of that synth theme from "Midnight Express" inbetween. So waking up this morning with Grimes's "My Sister Says The Saddest Things" in my head means: Today is a good day. And it was...
Until Mediawatch. Backstreet Boys? Not only have I got the song in my head but the damn video as well (and I didn't even know I remembered the video).
All I'm saying is...I much preferred it when it was lyrics from Belle & Sebastian songs from the mid-late '90s.
I just want to say a big thank you to Silvio Dante for the Breaking Bad spoiler in this morning's mailbox. I tried to let it slide but I couldn't do it. I'm going to have to ruin some things for him. Here it goes:
Bruce Willis was a ghost the whole time
Keyser Soze doesn't have a limp
The painting's eyes weren't really following you, it's an optical illusion
Joey Barton copied and pasted those quotes from wikipedia
England won't win the world cup
You made me do it.
Aidan, (I have seen Breaking Bad, I was doing this on behalf of the idiots who haven't) Dublin