Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Man Utd's Achilles' Heel

In the ever optimistic world of football, Manchester United cannot seem to do any wrong, just like how Chelsea cannot do anything wrong when they bought Shevchenko and Ballack last season. Nah...I believe in Alex Ferguson but if they are not careful and they put their concentrations on chasing a quad of trophies, they may just end up with none. Why? Football is a funny game, 1+1 isn't always equal to 2. Having new attacking players does not mean you are bound to improve your squad. So after talking so much, what exactly will cause Man Utd's downfall - their defence. They may have brought in some of the best talents around in Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson, but if something does happen to Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra or Gary Neville, it may just jeopardize their season. Remember when Ferdinand was banned for a year and Man Utd's sparkling start came to a disastrous end? It is similar to how Chelsea's lose of John Terry and Petr Cech last season marked of the beginning of their downfall last season. And goodness me, Ferguson has not brought in much defensive cover and Heinze, probably the only other person able to play on the left hand side as a defender is threatening to go away. Which leaves Chris Eagles, Wes Brown, John O'Shea and Silvestre. Seriously, I don't trust them.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

I Believe~

Well, I have always believed with Roy Keane's name and a well-established football club in Sunderland, there should be no problems in attracting relatively good names to the newly-promoted club. I was wrong, dead wrong. Leighton Baines and Craig Gordon are the two newest "rejects" - not rejected by Sunderland, it is them rejecting Sunderland? That is why I believe Roy Keane can lift his head high if he manages to keep Sunderland up next season. And I believe he will. Why? Because football is a game of eleven against eleven. Twenty-two legs against twenty-two legs. They will not get many wins. But Sunderland will get a decent home record and a few good results away from home. (I will not be surprised if they hold a few top teams to draws away from home) When that happens, Roy, you can look at those players that rejected you and snub them in turn. :)

I may have to take back my words when Sunderland does get relegated next season. I mean who is going to side with me? Keane is a new manager and Sunderland has a great reputation when it comes to being relegated after being promoted. The classic under-performers. On paper, their players are probably as bad as you can find in the whole Premier League. But I tell you, to me, Sunderland is Roy Keane and what is Roy Keane? One word. Character. They don't play the best football, they don't have the best players. But I believe every time Keane sends out his starting eleven, these are eleven players he believes has character inside them - whether they are up one goal, down one goal or clinging onto a drop against a top team? This word - character, separates the great from the good, the bad and the worst. I saw it in Real Madrid and Sunderland last season and I believe I can see it in Sunderland this season.

Wow, what a lot of speculation, before the community shield has even been played.

Friday, 20 July 2007

The Players and Coaches Real Madrid Rejected

Fans of this blog will know me as a Real Madrid supporter, someone who supported the club right after Ronaldo's transfer to the club in 2002. Those were the glory days - remember that guy who scored that volley in Glasgow? What about the side that went to Old Trafford and that striker who scored a hat-trick that night. Enough of that. I am not here to praise the side, but rather criticize them for a lot of silly things they have done and a lot of missed opportunities we let go. So here goes.

  1. David Beckham. I don't think I need to elaborate too much on that.
  2. Christiano Ronaldo. I mentioned this to a couple of people but they kind of forgot. Before this season, when Ronaldo was the most hated guy in England after the World Cup, he was actually begging (and I mean it, he was literally begging) to go to Spain. Real Madrid didn't want him. Calderon wanted Kaka (so where is Kaka now) instead and guess who has the foresight to ignore all that was being said, insisted Ronaldo was untouchable and sent his trusted aide - Carlos Quieroz to persuade Ronaldo to stay. Well, the rest, as they say is history. Dear Sir Alex Ferguson, I say this with all due respect - you were the main reason Man Utd got back their title last season. People tend to forget, but I will never forget it.
  3. Gabriel Milito. It gets my blood boiling as I type this out. So instead, let me quote this recent Reuters article - "The Argentine joined Zaragoza from Independiente in 2003 for £1.75million after a move to Barca's arch-rivals Real Madrid fell through at the last minute. Real pulled out of the £2million deal citing concerns over a knee ligament injury the player suffered in 2001. Asked if he considered the move a form of revenge against Real, Milito replied: 'No. We have to forget about the past. 'I have always wanted to come here and I hope I can repay the club on the pitch for the confidence they have shown in me.'".
  4. Samuel Eto. Guess who sold Eto to Barcelona and thus ignited Barcelona's La Liga streak. I guess Florentino Perez wasn't all to blame. He had Ronaldo and Raul then and Real Madrid just won their 29th La Liga. But...sigh.
I can't think of any more off-hand but I can remember a couple of coaches as well - Del Bosque and Capello for instance. Will continue when I feel more relaxed!

Monday, 16 July 2007

Video Recollection

Thanks to YouTube, some things will never be forgotten.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Ayala Joins The Zaragoza Revolution

I told you Zaragoza was a good and more importantly, smart side. I mentioned yesterday the Spanish side's strategy was signing unwanted star players from the bigger teams. And before you know it - Zaragoza signs Ayala. Unwanted at Valencia but a defender legend in his own right, I believe Ayala still has a few more years left in him. He will probably not be able to keep up with the likes of Henry and Eto, but his experience and his superb reading of the game is matched by few in the world.

China 2-2 Iran

Full-time. Entertaining game. Would have been unfair for either side to lose.

74 min: Warning signs. China is cracking under extreme pressure.

When you are a good side and you are 2-1 up with 35 minutes left, DON'T DEFEND. China is doing that just.

The half-time score was 2-1. China was the more impressive side but they were extremely careless to concede a goal right at the stroke of half-time.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Ricardo Oliveira is Loaned to Zaragoza

Just saw the news that the Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira has been loaned out to Zaragoza for a year. I would like to spend a little time talking about Real Zaragoza. When I think of them, I get reminded of Spurs. A top five side that does not have the high profiles of Valencia, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

But without a doubt a team that boasts a lot of talents. They are used to getting star players that the other teams discard and have done a great job putting everyone into the same team. Aimar is one. Diego Milito and previously Gabriel Milito are two great players in their own right. Andrés D'Alessandro is another top class playmaker that can't get into the Argentina national team because of Riquelme and Messi. Albert Celades played previously for Barcelona and Real Madrid and isn't too bad a defensive midfielder.

Come to think of it, it is a pretty good strategy. Target those players that are good prospects and have been bought at high prices by the big clubs or came through the ranks of the youth academies. But because of the huge competition at such clubs, they find themselves warming the bench most of the time. That is how Zaragoza ends up at its current league position.

Indonesia 1-2 Saudi Arabia

Extra-time: I told you Indonesia....Be careful...but goal for the team from the Middle East right before full-time.

This is a great match. The Indonesians are giving a good account of themselves while the Saudi Arabians are catching the host nation on the break.

Indonesia were surprisingly the better team. BUT BUT BUT Saudi Arabia is not a lousy team, the Indonesians have got to be careful and be ready for any change in gears from their opposition.

That was what happened to Uzbekistan against Iran.

Second half starting soon.

5 minutes to half-time. Haven't been keeping tab on this match.

Malaysia 0-5 Uzbekistan

Don't really wish to comment too much. Five goals. Five different scorers. One good team. One very lousy team.

Bakaev scores a third for Uzbekistan from the penalty box just before half-time. Game over.

5 minutes to half-time. Malaysia does not look like they can come back into the game.

It is turning out be a nightmare for the host nation. You never say no in this sport but it seems like mission impossible for Malaysia. What were the Malaysian defenders doing?

29 minute: GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLL. Uzbekistan scores a second!

28 minute: Uzbekistan had a free kick but it was palmed over by the Malaysia goalkeeper.

24.22 minute: Malaysia seems to have settled down after the first goal and are creating a few good chances themselves.

19 minute: Corner kick for Malaysia. Well-defended but there is a chance! Just sneaked wide! Good effort by the Malaysians.

14 minute: Golden opportunity by Malaysia but called for offside. Referee assistant got it wrong, very wrong.

10 minute: Maksim Shatskikh - the best Uzbekistan player ever? His first goal in this edition of the Asian Cup seems to add to that claim.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLL! Malaysia caught napping.

7.31 minute: Malaysia has a free kick. Kicked right into the Uzbekistan wall.

5.36 minute: Nothing much has been happening, Uzbekistan seems to be having the better chances.

First corner goes to Uzbekistan.

Early pressure from Uzbekistan.

Play has started.
The Malaysians are in yellow and black.
Their opposition is in white.

Play starting in 5 minutes time.
It is do-or-die for both teams.
I don't expect Malaysia to get another thrashing but I can't seen Uzbekistan losing this game.

Jose, Where Do you Really Want To Go?

The Sun today reported that Jose Mourinho intends to follow David Beckham to America after his career dwindles down after twenty years. Hmmm...I just love this guy. First he says he doesn't want to go but Chelsea doesn't want him. Then he says Real Madrid is one of the best teams around with a great history. After which he proclaims Inter Milan as the best team in Europe. Or what about his interests in coaching Portugal and England?

A great coach and an equally competent entertainer.

Cost Per Goal For EPL 06/07

I decided to compile a list of top-scoring players in last season's Premier League and calculate how much their goals are worth simply by dividing transfer fee over total goals. The results are below:

  1. Didier Drogba 24 million £ divided by 21 goals = 1.1 million £ per goal
  2. Benni McCarthy 2.5 million £ divided by 19 goals = 0.13 million £ per goal
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo 12.24 million £ divided by 17 goals = 0.72 million £ per goal
  4. Mark Viduka (I couldn't find his transfer fee)
  5. Darren Bent 2.5 million £ divided by 14 goals = 0.18 million £ per goal
  6. Kevin Doyle 78 thousand £ divided by 14 goals = 5.5 thousand £ per goal
  7. Wayne Rooney 31 million £ divided by 14 goals = 2.2 million £ per goal
  8. Dimitar Berbatov 10.9 million £ divided by 13 goals = 0.84 million £ per goal
  9. Robbie Keane 7 million £ divided by 12 goals = 1.27 million £ per goal
  10. Dirk Kuyt 9 million £ divided by 12 goals = 0.75 million £ per goal
  11. Yakubu 7.5 million £ divided by 12 goals = 0.63 million £ per goal
Of course, this it not entirely accurate because some fees were not totally disclosed, you cannot judge a player's performance simply by the goals scored in one season (such as Wayne Rooney) and I did not take into consideration goals scored in other competitions.

Just for interest's sake, this is Andriy Shevchenko's cost per goal:

Andriy Shevchenko 30 million £ divided by 4 goals = 7.5 million £ per goal

Even if you put into consideration all the goals he scored for Chelsea - 4 league goals, 7 domestic cup goals and 3 Champions League goals, it is still 2.14 million £ per goal.

Royston Drenthe For Real?

Rumors have been floating around that Royston Drenthe, the left-back that plays for Dutch side Feyenoord has been given permission to talk to Real Madrid. I like the young prospect and I think he can provide stiff challenge to Miguel Torres for a place in the team. Moreover, Roberto Carlos' departure means Real Madrid has only one natural left-back (Torres) which can only spell disaster.

Real - Now that you have bought enough defenders to last 10 competitions in a single season, why don't you get us that playmaker that we really need to dictate play. Snatching Riquelme from Atletico doesn't seem that bad an idea now does it...

7 Misconceptions Amongst Americans

  1. Soccer is not a contact sport. Soccer IS a contact sport. People do bleed. Players do loose their teeth. And unlike the NFL, players can't wear helmets to protect their face. Petr Cech can vouch for this point.
  2. Soccer is just kicking the ball to and fro. Soccer is NOT just about kicking ball around. It is about passing the ball strategically while the opposition tries to snatch it away from you using their legs.
  3. Not a lot of goals are scored.

  4. Unlike real football and basketball and ice hockey and baseball, you are not allowed to use your hands in soccer. That is the number one misconception about soccer. Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona have perfected the art of "hand soccer". See video below for evidence.

  5. Soccer has far too little scoring chances. Don't watch the Italian leagues. Don't watch Chelsea games. Watch the Man Utd games last season and this season. There is a scoring chance every 3 minutes. And you guys have TiVo. Just record the whole thing and fast forward to when the team scores.
  6. The American soccer team does not do well in the sport. Well, the American female team is amongst the best in the world. The male team does a fine job of thrashing everyone in North American and qualifying for the four-year-once world cup every time.
  7. It is a sissy game. Soccer, is not a sissy game. Let me repeat it in bold. SOCCER IS NOT A SISSY GAME. Let me quote Bill Shankly - "Someone said 'football is more important than life and death to you' and I said 'Listen, it's more important than that'." The beautiful game does not equate to the sissy game.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Benitez: Just In Case...

What is going on in the mind of a certain Spanish manager - Just in case my beloved Liverpool goes all the way to another Champions League final, I better buy a few more strikers to make sure we can score enough goals. Dirk Kuyt is good enough, Crouch will come in useful against certain defenders, Torres will start most matches and finally, Ryan Babel can be a good backup. What about Andriy Voronin? He will come in handy during the Carling Cup games.

Dear Benitez - How about buying a few wingers because they are all snatched up by Chelsea and Manchester United. Kewell and Pennant aren't exactly the most convincing midfielders around here.

UAE 1-3 Japan

I haven't been keeping tabs on this match, but Naohiro Takahara has scored twice for Japan, in the 22nd and 27th minute. Shunsuke Nakamura contributed a third before half-time.

Japan got careless and conceded a goal in the second half. But generally a good result for them.

To Terry Robinson

Give up. Stop appealing. Stop all these. You would not have needed to go through all these if your beloved team had won on the last day. I don't think it reflects well on you or your team.

Milner Signs New Contracts

Milner - congrats on signing a new four-year contract. You deserve it. I saw your game against Manchester United at St. James Park. You were one of the best players on the pitch and the reason why Manchester United could only get a draw against Newcastle.

Real Madrid, I Hate You!

I have to admit, Real Madrid is MY team, my favourite team, my childhood team, the team I worship. And it pains me to see what Real Madrid has been doing all this while. I can't wait for the transfer season to end, because I don't see any player coming that I would like to see. I cannot see how Real Madrid can challenge Barcelona in the upcoming season. And here is why.

Where is Capello?
Well, if there is one thing the management of Real Madrid likes, it is to sack coaches. Win things and we sack you after one season. Lose against Barcelona and you lose your job the next day. Start losing and we are still going to sack you. We had probably the best coach in Spain and we sack him when he wins the Spanish La Liga after a four year drought. He gave us a reason to believe that we can win after conceding a goal and he loses his job. Well, at least he knows he will have a huge paycheck and the likes of Jose Antonio Camacho, Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Mariano García Remón, Vicente del Bosque and Carlos Queiroz have all been sacked before him. At least he lasted one whole season. And his replacement - Bernd Schuster. Oh, the guy whose team went to the Nou Camp and got thrashed by Barcelona?

Where is Kaka?
Ever since Zidane left, we have lacked a natural playmaker to dictate play. Kaka could have been a natural replacement - someone who has both the profile and the skills to match possibly the most famous soccer club in the world. Guti is simply too inconsistent to do the job. At times, he looks like someone who can do the impossible. Most of the time, he is busy complaining to the referee. But I guess AC Milan is never going to let Kaka go. But what about Cesc Fabregas? Well, he looked like a possible replacement and given Arsenal's turmoils, it seemed like there couldn't be a better time to rob the London club of their prize assets. That was until Arsene Wenger stepped in and persuaded Fabregas the London club is the best place for him. So we are left with no one again.

Contrast this with our arch-enemy, Barcelona. They lost the Spanish Cup to Getafe in one of the biggest upset of the season. They failed to defend both their Champions League and La Liga championship titles. And what did they do next? They shocked the world by buying Thierry Henry, Yaya Toure, Eric Abidal and Gabriel Milito. One is Arsenal's all-time leading goal scorer. Another is one of the best defenders in La Liga last season. Yaya Toure is an upcoming midfield prospect while Eric Abidal - he can only enhance Barcelona's defence.

I have had enough. Why did I support this club in the first place?

Why Chelsea And Daniel Alves Are A Good Fit

  1. Khalid Boulahrouz is going to Sevilla, so Daniel Alves can go to Chelsea
  2. Geremi is not going to work as a right wingback
  3. Essien can be a right wingback, but you don't spend money on a star central midfielder to play him as a defender
  4. Lassana Diara is not going to work as a right wingback
  5. Only Chelsea can satisfy Sevilla's thirst for money
  6. Paulo Ferreira is a LOUSY right wingback
  7. Daniel Alves can contribute to the attack when Chelsea needs to chase games
  8. Daniel Alves is one of the best right wingbacks on the market, Chelsea needs someone to help them win the Champions League
  9. Daniel Alves is not African and he won't be gone for a good part of next season
  10. And lastly...Mourinho likes Daniel Alves :)

Iraq 3-1 Australia

Well done Iraq. 3-1.

The Australians look flustered. Time is running out.

9 more minutes. Still no progress. Australia, is it too early to say bye bye to you guys. Think on the bright side, at least you guys can finally take a well-deserved (?) break.

10 more minutes. Australia doesn't seem to be able to string together any attack.

Sometimes, some people just need a rude wakeup call. Australia included.

I hope Australia loses.

Guess who has been attacking in the last 10 minutes - Iraq.

Iraq missed another glorious chance. Hit the crossbar.

15 more minutes. I have nothing left to say. Australia looks to be losing.

Less than 20 minutes of normal time left.

A little bit of statistic. Australia has 58 percent of possession. Doesn't really matter though. They are still losing.

Archie Thompson has come on for Culina. He is the current world record holder for most goals scored in a game - 13 goals. The ozzies do not need 13, they just need 2. I don't think an equaliser is good enough for them.

A glorious...MISS by the Australians.

Viduka has been thinking - I work so hard to get an equaliser and my defenders give away easy chances to Iraq.

Iraq missed a golden chance to make it a 3-1 scoreline.

30 more minutes of regular time.

European defenders...hmmm....Australia - you DISAPPOINT me.

The unthinkable has happened. Iraq 2-1.

The green and yellows have been attacking relentlessly. As a result, Iraq's strikers have been reduced to sweeping up dust.

35 minutes left for the game to produce a winner.

Ouch! Viduka slipped at the crucial moment.

Another close miss. This time by Cahill.

A close miss by Viduka in the 50+ minute.

Number 4 Tim Cahill looks to be the catalyst of all the change of fortune for the Ozzies.

The Australians look to be on a rampage. But as the saying goes, possession is nothing without the goals.

A 1-1 draw just doesn't seem to benefit anyone right now. There needs to be a winner in this game.

Soccer is a confidence game - I hope we are seeing a momentum shift towards the Australians.

46th min: Game on! The Australian substitute scores! And guess who it is - Timmy Cahillllll!
Correction - Cahill had a part but it was Viduka who scored with a header.

You know what, enough about Australia. Iraq deserves the credit for keeping Australia out. On paper, Australia is the stronger team. And Australia has no reason not to do well today. They are aware Iraq is a stronger opposition than Oman. They have had plenty of time to climatize. They know they need to score and win to preserve their chance of advancing. If they don't win today, give Iraq full credit and thumbs down for Australia. If Australia can manage a comeback, then well done to the team.

The Australians look depressed. Their fans look slightly subdued. Things are not looking good for the "best" team in Asia. The big question - what will the coach do? Is Tim Cahill coming on? Mark Bresciano looks to be the best player on the pitch for the Ozzies. But only just. They have had a couple of free kicks but failed to convert any of their chances. Forget all that hype about Australia and their Europe-based players. If they can't perform today, I don't care if they have had no rest after the end of the European leagues. To me, they are just not good enough.

Beep! Half-time! Iraq goes into the break with a one goal advantage. The Australian coach has a lot to work on during the break.

2 minutes of extra time.

I wonder whether the Australians know their reputation is on the line here.

Edging towards the half-time mark, there is currently a commotion on the pitch right now. The Australians don't look too happy.

The way things are standing right now, Australia is 3rd in the table, on top of Oman only on goal difference.

Time is slowing creeping towards the half-time mark.
Australia has been flirting around the Iraq penalty box but nothing has come out of it.

3rd chance that Viduka has wasted!

10 minutes of regular time before half-time. The score is still the same. A one goal advantage for Iraq.

It is currently one-way Australian traffic right now, but possession doesn't count for anything without the goals.

Viduka has had a couple of chances but has not been able to get his shots on target.

The Australians need a goal before half-time. They have been getting a lot of free kicks but nothing has come out of those set-pieces.

Half an hour has passed. It is still 1-0.

The Aussies do not seem to be doing their pride or reputation any good with their current results.

My prediction is that Cahill will be coming off the bench in the 2nd half.
This is becoming a rude awakening for the Aussies.

Is Australia heading out of the Asian Cup?

Mark Schwarzer cannot believe it.

21st min.
GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! Iraq has just scored. 1-0.

A little bit of history. Iraq was knocked out of the last Asian Cup by China with a score of 3-0 in the round of 8.

Iraq had more of the earlier chances, but Australia is playing better than when they started against Oman.

Viduka just sent a header wide.

10+ minutes: Schwarzer made a routine save from a Iraq free kick.

Kewell and Viduka are on the pitch.
Cahill is still on the bench this time round.
Patrick Kisnorbo is playing on the right hand side of defense.

The Australian team is in green and yellow.
Iraq is in white.
12 minutes has passed us by.

Why does Australia's defence still look at shaky as ever?
Haven't they been put through some tough training?

10 minutes and it is still nil nil.
Neither side showing any flair at the moment.

Joorabchian Who?

Hmm...I have been reading reports that a Brazilian judge has ordered the capture of Kia Joorabchian for money laundering. He is suspected to have been making use of the Brazilian side Corinthians (where Tevez once played for) for illegal dealings. I have no idea who is right and who is wrong. But honestly, it just seems extremely weird to me. Ain't money laundering supposed to be something done behind everyone's backs? It should be keep hush hush and secret right? So IF Joorabchian is really doing it, why in the world is he using the world's most popular sport and making use of two of the most famous players in Latin America plus the most popular sports league in the world to perform his underhanded operations??? That way, won't the whole world (aside from Americans) know about his supposed dealings?

Prediction: Australia VS Iraq

hmmm...pre-match favourites Australia are definitely feeling the heat (pun intended) right now...they are supposed to WIN the tournament..not struggle with last minute equalisers, they are supposed to be building up the goal difference column, not counting how many points they need to qualify for the next round...so in one hour's time, it is d-day for the Aussies.

The coach has reportedly given the Aussies more training - during the hottest time for the day and I can't seem them losing the match to Iraq. (keeping my fingers very very very crossed)

Spanish FA Releases 07-08 La Liga Schedule

The Spanish FA has released the schedule for the upcoming La Liga season.

Real Madrid will face city rivals Atletico Madrid in their first game.
Barcelona is away to Racing Santander.
Sevilla is at home to Getafe, without their manager though.
Valencia comes up against Villarreal.

Is anyone interested in a public Google Calendar of the match-ups?

Chelsea Loans Flop Boulahrouz To Sevilla

Enough is enough. Apparently, Mourinho decided he wasn't even going to give Khalid Boulahrouz the chance to warm the Chelsea bench and has shipped him to Spanish side Sevilla on a year long loan. Boulahrouz was supposed to provide cover at centre-back and left-back but his "convincing" performances led Mourinho to field the likes of Geremi, Essien and Diarra instead.

Good decision Jose. If you can't even field a natural defender as a defender and midfielders have to be used instead, then I guess it is time the Dutch defender moved on.

Khalia, don't feel too bad. At least you will be playing in the Champions League again next season - even if it is on the bench.

You Are Too Old To Be A Manager

Reuters had an interesting piece about how the French Professional Soccer League (LFP) initially ruled that Guy Roux was too old to run Ligue 1 club Racing Lens. Apparently, at the age of 68, he was over the age limit of 65 which was initially set up by the LFP charter. Good old French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined in the row and was in full support of Guy Roux. The LFP was eventually overruled. I hope the English FA doesn't do the same thing to Fergie - don't think they will get away as easily.

The Carlos You May Never Have Heard Of

The golden boot recipient at the 2005 Under-17 World Cup. Was a main reason why his team managed to thrash Brazil 3-0 in the tournament's final. Nope. Not Argentina's Carlos Tevez (who has been making a lot of headlines himself). It is Mexico's young teen prodigy - Carlos Vela. Or rather Arsenal's best hope since the departure of Thierry Henry. The Gunners signed Vela in November 2005 after fighting off a great deal of attraction from other European giants but had to loan him out to Celta Vigo (who in turned loaned him out to Salamanca FC because they have used up the available EU player slots) because they could not get a work permit for him in England.

He was supposed to return to the Emirates Stadium at the start of 2008 but apparently Arsene Wenger has been working to bring him back this month. Guess what the Frenchman said about his secret weapon - "I like his intelligence and his pace. He scores goals but he can also create them. He's a special talent and I believe 100 per cent that he will make it at the highest level." Hmmm, for a while, I though Wenger was talking about Thierry Henry...

Keano and Eriksson Vying For Richardson

The Daily Mirror is running an article stating that both Roy Keane and Sven Goran Eriksson are interested in Manchester United winger Kieran Richardson. I am quite sure the England international is on the move, but he does seem to have a tough choice ahead of him. One is his ex-captain, another was his ex-England head. I would think he is more keen on a Man City move, since he wasn't exactly on the best of terms with Keane when the Sunderland manager was still at Manchester United. The possible backlash from Manchester United fans won't bother him too much though. He wasn't exactly a first team player or a fans' favourite in the first place.

Does Beckham Have Anything Else To Offer - Yes

Can the English star convert Americans to soccer addicts? No.
Can he change LA Galaxy's fortune. Yes.

We are talking about a country that is obsessed with sports. Their traditional sports anyway. The NFL, MLB, NBA and even the NHL. These are the ones people tune in to on Friday nights. Will they be tempted to switch channels to watch Beckham's debut. If Tom Cruise is among the audience. Probably. Will the LA Times have anything on the game. I guess so. Will their eyes grow sleepy after a few minutes and decide soccer just ain't for them. Well, I am pretty sure they will. Forget about the global appeal of the most famous star that has even put on a pair of soccer boots (or a pair of Adidas Predator boots for that matter). This is the United States of America. It doesn't bother them when they are the only nation out there that still doesn't recognise Beckham on the streets. And that is where Mr Beckham may just finally realise his limits.

On the other hand, I really believe the guy has a lot to offer on the soccer pitch. You can say all you want about his off-pitch endorsement deals and star appearances. On the pitch, I have rarely seen the star not give his very best. He still is the best crosser of ball on the planet and he may lack the dreamy dribbling skills of Robinho and Ronaldo, but there really is no doubt as to whether the Galaxy will be a better team with him around. Not enough to make them the champions but probably enough to help their climb up the table. My only worry - unrest in the dressing room. I hope it ain't another West Ham - Tevez - Mascherano tale. But then Beckham has always been quiet sort of leader who leaves everyone alone. So my guess is that these are undue worries on my part.

Barcelona Reject Arrives in Real Madrid

Barcelona reject Javier Saviola has arrived in Madrid where he is expected to be revealed as Real Madrid's newest signing. After signing Liverpool reject Jerzy Dudek as backup for Iker Casillas, the Spanish giants have moved fast to sign up Saviola. They don't actually have to act that fast in my opinion, since Barcelona doesn't really want Saviola and he has practically nowhere else to go to.

Thanks Real - after firing one of the best managers around, you start to sign rejects from Barcelona. Saviola ain't exactly Luis Figo you know. When you guys signed the Portugese, he was arguably one of the best players in the world, Saviola, on the other hand, has been warming the Barcelona bench. I am quite confident of where the La Liga title will end up next season.

Man Utd Snatches Tevez

In what has turned out to be a circus scene from the English FA and a dream saga for the media, the Tevez saga may finally be put to an end after Sir Alex Ferguson declared that the Argentine star will jet to Manchester for a medical. The Premier League is still having some doubts but Tevez is widely expected to sign a contract next week after the Copa America final.

Manchester United will initially sign Tevez on a loan with the option of a permanent deal. The deal is expected to be worth about £30 million.

Carlos Tevez + Wayne Rooney + Ronaldo + Ryan Giggs + Paul Scholes + Nani + Anderson = Yummy. (But in my opinion, Owen Hargreaves is still Man Utd's best signing - they need him to neutralise the opposition in crucial Champions League matches. Carrick's failure to keep a handle on Kaka and Seedorf was probably the main reason why Man Utd failed so spectacularly at the San Siro)

Fabregas Snubs Real

Reuters and The Sun have both published news that Cesc Fabregas, the young Arsenal midfield maestro has snubbed a move to Real Madrid. According to the reports, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was the main reason behind the failed transfer move. £21.5 million was reportedly being made available for the transfer.

Real Madrid turned their attention to the Spanish ace after their repeated attempts to tempt Brazilian Kaka have been thwarted.