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Month: August 2006

The Shock Of The New

I knew this would happen. I bloody knew it. Less than twenty-four hours after I commented that nothing interesting was going to happen as a result of the closing of the transfer window, and two of the strangest transfers of recent years take place. Of course, it will be a delight to see Carlos Tevez and Juan Mascherano in the Premiership, but the rumour mill has already started turning on the potential dark side of this move. You see… Tevez and Mascherano were arguably Argentina’s best players at the World Cup. They had been linked with Arsenal, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, both of the Milan clubs, and so on and so on. The West Ham link is an intriguing one. Tevez and Mascherano were signed from the Brazilian club Corinthians, whose “player relations” are handled by a company called MSI. MSI’s owner lives in London, has close links with Roman Abramovich and has previously made noises about buying into West Ham. Now, it’s important to point out that West Ham have confirmed that both of these players have been signed on permanent contracts, rather than the one year loans that had been expected. The Irons have also confirmed that they are not acting as a feeder club to anybody. There’s no confirmed link between Chelsea and West Ham. But the whole episode raises so many questions that I don’t...

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No midweek matches this week, so I thought I’d take the time to catch up on the last few days’ worth of news. Do try to stay awake at the back. First up, Juventus: The Club That Have No Shame. In the latest episode of their attempt to forever tar the name of one of Europe’s great football clubs, they have offered to not take the FIGC (the Italian FA) to court, if the FIGC reinstate them back into Serie A and reverse the decision to strip them of their 2006 Scudetto. Amazing. The only thing that I can really add to Juventus’ own actions is that if the FIGC do cave in, then Italy and all of their club teams should be banned indefinitely from any European and International team. The idea of one club trying to hold the whole of a nation’s game to ransom, especially when they were caught red-handed and admitted their own in guilt in the first place leaves with me with a rage that I can barely begin to describe. The good news is that the Italian press do not believe that Juventus have a prayer if it goes to court. The Italian season, by the way, is due to start on the weekend of the 8th and 9th of September. Whether this happens or not is anybody’s guess. At home, the torpor...

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Swimming With The Minnows

Now, I know that to all of you lot, with your Tottenham Hotspurs and your Birmingham Citys and what have you will probably sneer at this, but I am rather looking forward to Oxford United away in the Nationwide Conference this weekend. The only downer on it is that, due to the England match on Saturday afternoon, it’s been switched to Friday night. This makes my brain go into something of a meltdown. In the olden days, all international qualifying matches were played on midweek nights. There was no shift in this pattern. Very rarely, a match would, due to some insurmountable time-zone related issue, be played on a Wednesday afternoon, but other than that it was Wednesday night. All the time. Over the last few years though, doubtlessly due to the meddling of the big clubs, whole weekends have been conceded to international matches. Now, while this is no big issue to the majority of you, for those of us that prefer our football closer to the bottom of the food chain, it’s a monumental pain in the arse. Oxford would have been a nice day out – leave the house at twelve, back by eight or nine. As it is, though, I’ve had to take half a day off work and I’ll spend the whole day slightly concerned about missing the last train back from London to...

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That Was The Weekend That Was

A mixed weekend, altogether, I guess. Manchester United have scored ten in four matches, but one would hope that they will have stiffer challenges to come than those that they’ve faced so far, whilst Chelsea were poor on Sunday, but were fortunate to be playing a Blackburn team on the crest of a slump. There are also bad signs ahead for Spurs, whose performance against Everton indicated trouble ahead at White Hart Lane. This, of course, is to take nothing away from Everton, who were surprisingly excellent again. Liverpool, meanwhile, continue to labour – this time to a 2-1 against an unfortunate West Ham side at Anfield. It seems more than a little odd to be typing this, but the form teams of the start of this season are… Aston Villa and Portsmouth. Villa were excellent in beating Newcastle on Sunday in front of Randy Lerner, though I suspect that their start to the season has had more to do with The Martin O’Neill Effect than anything else. Newcastle were poor again. It’s somewhat agonising to watch Glenn Roeder on the touchline. Given that he had a brain haemmorhage just a couple of years ago, is Newcastle really the best place for him to work right now? Meanwhile, Portsmouth pulled off the most surprising result of the season so far in winning 4-0 at Middlesbrough. Remember what I said...

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That Was The Week That Was

It has been an eventful week. League Cup, Premiership and European football has come and gone, and I’m somewhat mystified at the 2006/2007 football season so far. First up, The Premiership. Manchester United lead it, with maximum points and an ominous eight goals scored. There’s no reason to be too despondent, though – Fulham were wretched against them and Charlton weren’t much better on Wednesday night. More importantly, they’ve got a three point head start on Chelsea, whose comedy of errors I brushed over earlier on in the week. Elsewhere, it’s a bit early to start trying to look too deeply into it for any significant patterns but, for the time being, everybody seems to be beating everybody else. With Liverpool and Arsenal in European action (more of which shortly), Spurs were the “big” club of the week with a test, but they needed a result against Sheffield United and got it. More importantly, Dimitar Berbatov scored for them, which may allay fears amongst supporters at White Hart Lane that they’ve bought another Sergei Rebrov. The big talking point of the week, however, was Ben Thatcher’s full-on assault upon Pedro Mendes during the Manchester City-Portsmouth match. Now, I’ve played football, and I understand the strange way in which testosterone works. The red mist and the sudden rush of blood to the head. However, Thatcher is a professional footballer, and...

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