Tuesday, 11 August 2009

So who's gonna be crowned Kings on England this season...

Last year was easily the best the Premiership has ever seen. I can only see this season being better. People have been saying that with Ronaldo leaving, United they are definitely going to be weaker. I can't agree more and I think that is going to lend itself to the possibility of a 4 or 5 horse race to be crowned champions of England come May. And that can only be a good thing for the game.

For so many years the Prem has been lamented for being as much of a precession as Formula One was when Schumacher was in his pomp, with every team forming an orderly queue behind Man Utd to pick up their TV money!! Recent years has seen Chelsea come into the fray and last season, until Scorali lost the plot and Liverpool bottled it, there were 3 teams capable of taking the league to the wire.

Season 09/10 is going to be a belter with Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal & maybe Man City all having a right to stake their claim for the title. And it's going to be closer than ever. But for all the positives there are many factors working against each of those teams which makes me believe that things will be both tight and tough at the top.

Man U are going to be scratching around trying to fill the 4o goal void left by Roanldo, and I cant see Rooney or Berbatov making up the numbers seeing as though they play as second strikers. And, although Owen's arrival was a shrewed move by Fergie, the jury's out as to whether he will play more than 25 games. Chelsea are looking good under Ancelotti however it's his first season in the English game and as we saw with Scolari that may be something that he'll take time to adjust to. Despite this I think Abramovic's main motivation for securing Ancelotti's signature is his pedigree in Europe. It's the one missing gap in the Chelsea revolution that Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari & Hiddink failed to fill.

Liverpool are still strong despite the departure of Alonso however they still lack quality options up front should both Gerrard & Torres be injured at the same time. So the need is there to acquire a player in the mould of David Villa. Arsenal will be an exciting prospect again as the kids are 1 year older, but the true test will be whether they have the nerve to withstand the demands of a 38 game challenge for the title. Man City could surprise a few people as they have a lot to prove. The players need no more motivation to do well than the fact that everyone sees them as mercenaries. Mark Hughes is a wily old fox and I think he's got the nous to use that in the dressing room.

At this stage without even a ball being kicked, it's too hard to call. There may even be a surprise or too along the way in the shape of Villa and Totenham. Who knows?? But here's my top 4
1. Liverpool
2. Chelsea
3. Man Utd
4. Arsenal
We'll just have to wait and see.

And another one bites the dust

With the countdown underway to the first round of games in the Prem, AGAIN, it comes as no surprise that another player from a Big Four club has pulled outta the the England Squad for this weeks friendly.

I said yesterday that this was bound to happen. However it doesn't make it any less shocking both in terms of the England's team's preparation for 2010 and for all the fans that have bought tickets. Do we get any benefit from seeing a patchwork England XI vs Holland??

The argument is always that Capello now has a chance to see how other players may fare in the team however, this isn't the point. These games are an opportunity for the preferred 11 to play as many times together as possible, and gel in a way that gives us a chance of getting past the quarter-finals next year.

Any-road, that's enough for now. I'm off to spit some more feathers.



Monday, 10 August 2009

Biggest Surprise in Football - Manchester United Player Pulls Out of England Squad

As true as the sky is blue and bears sh*t in the woods you can always bet on a Man Utd player pulling out of an England Squad - especially when it's a friendly!!

It beggars belief that in the year leading up to a major tournament, Ben Foster, our second choice keeper pulls out of a testing tie against the Dutch with ,according to SkySports, a minor injury. There may not be any points up for grabs but this is the kind of game that'll give Capello an idea of how we're gonna size up against tougher opposition in 2010. I'd put money on there being a few more key players missing come Wednesday - cue swine flu outbreak at all the top four's training grounds!!

Look, this isn't an anti Man Utd rant and I understand that Van Der Sar has snapped his finger off, but c'mon this happens every ruddy time!! Is there anyone out there feeling the same or am I just being a flag waving, England supporting prima-donna?
Let's leave it there for a while before the palpitations kick in and I have to spend the rest of the evening in a darkened room!!
An utterly bemused Frank ;-)

Where's all the money gone Liverpool??

So, after an entertaining Community Shield we start the countdown to kick off in the Premiership. Realistically there are 3 teams that can win it (Chelsea, Man U & Liverpool) and about 4 other teams that'll be battling it out for the coveted 4th spot.

The only thing that may weigh heavy on the Scousers chances of lifting their first league trophy since '91 is that it still appears they don't have the cash to keep up with likes of the other two main title contenders.

You may argue with this statement considering the £18m just spent on Aquilani and the £17m on Johnson. However despite netting £30m from the sale of Alonso, the payment terms for the purchase of Aquilani mean that they only have to shell out an immediate 5m Euro's. The rest is to be paid in installments between Jan 2010 and June 2011 with a little on top relating to performances etc. So why aren't Liverpool in the market for another quality purchase??

Rumour has it that the Reds are looking at the possibility of signing another centreback which seems a little daft seeing as though they already have 3 and the main reason they didn't lift the title last year was due to a lack of goals when Stevie G & Torres were crocked!

But this is besides the point. At the end of last season Liverpool were thought to have in the region of £25m to spend, plus anything generated from sales. So far this has yet to materialise and leaves me begging the question as to whether this was never the case or whether the recent re-financing of the club has had an adverse affect of Benitez's transfer plans.

The only remaining option is that the money is there and Rafa is quietly working behind the scenes or bringing in the likes of David Silva or David Villa from under the noses of their old mates down the East Lancs Road??

You never know, we may just see a flurry of activity in the last few weeks of the window....



Sunday, 9 August 2009

Short memory Chelsea??

Football fails to surprise me anymore. It really doesn't. Was it only a few months ago on that fateful night in West London that Chelsea were dealt a cruel blow in the shape of a portly, incompetent Norwegian's inability to spot a penalty from 3 yards?? Was it not on that night that Herr Ballack chased after and berated the referee in a way that the only suitable musical accompaniment to his antics would have been the Benny Hill music??!!

So as football goes it was inevitable that Ballack would play a pivotal role in the most contentious moment of today's Community Shield. One that lead to Chelsea's second goal. As Evra lay on the ground, looking like he had just been zapped with a taser-gun, courtesy of Ballack, Chelsea deemed the incident minor enough not to warrant stopping play and hence waltzed on and grabbed a second. Well well well, how things are different when the boots on the other foot!!! We used to revere all Russian linesmen but from now on whenever Chelski score a dubious goal, the opposing team wouldn't be blamed for asking 'where's a Norwegian ref when you need one'??!!

What did bring a smile to my face was the realisation that Fergie is still guaranteed to throw his toys outta the pram whenever things don't go his way. Priceless

This seasons gonna be classic. May the luckiest team win!!



O'Leary for the Toon??

I'm amazed by some of the reports coming out of St James's Park. Although nothing new there eh??!! Word has it that Mike Ashley may be lining up David O'Leary as the next manager of the club.

OK so all this in a week when there's been rumours of the club going into administration, Kinnear being offered a 2 year contract and free pacemaker and Alan Shearer saying that he still wants the job - despite it appearing as though he's been given the right royal runaround by the cock-er-nee mafia!!!

So, back to O'leary. Not a bad manager but wasn't he accused of playing negative football at the Villa which left them loitering like a wayward hoody in mid-table anonymity. Isn't that the same reason that Ashley got rid of Allardyce and went on the replace him with 'I'd Love it if we beat them' Keegan??

Surely the Toon need to swallow their pride (if they have any left - ouch!!) and employ a manager with experience of getting teams out of the 2nd Tier. Well, on that point they missed out on Steve Bruce to Sunderland so that on leaves the aforementioned King Kev to come bounding back into town and save the day. That's more unlikely than Eric Cantona coming out of retirement to fill the void left at Utd by Ronaldo!!

Sundays should be for laughter. So thank you Newcastle!!

Anyway more to come from me later.



The Yearly Curtain Raiser Just Got Interesting....

So here we are again, getting ready for what is billed as the annual curtain raiser for the footy season. I'm sure that fans of Championship clubs might have a thing or two to say about that!! Actually while we're on the subject of the Championship did anyone suffer temporary blindness when Newcastle took to the field in that horrific away kit last night??

So, back to the community shield. Normally this game is revered for its competitiveness as both teams will be looking to showcase their potential for the forthcoming season. However this year I see this game being just a little bit more important to both teams.

Chelsea and Ancelotti haven't won the league for 3 years and the ghost of Mourinho is still haunting the Chelsea faithful like the ghost of a girlfriend they dumped 3 years ago who went on the win the lottery the next week!! United have lost two talismanic figures in Tevez and Ronaldo - the latter having been responsible for the lions share of United's important goals and assist over the last two years.

I think both teams, more than in recent years will want to answer the critics from the get-go this year and send out a message to the rest of the league. Chelsea will want to show they are serious contenders after last years failed Scolari project and United and Ferguson will want to show Liverpool that they were never a one man team when Ronaldo was plying his trade up the East Lancs Road.

If Michael Owen gets a run out today it will be interesting to see how he fares. I'm in the camp that says as long as he stays injury free and gets good service, he will score goals and probably get back in the England team. Additionally, today may be a good indication of how the Dads Army of The Kings Road will set themselves up for the season ahead. If I had to put my house on it United will go 4-4-2 and Chelsea will go with the much talked about Diamond.

Predictions for the day..... either 1-0 or 2-1 to Chelsea. I could be wrong but United are always slow outta the blocks.