With all this getting needlessly over-excited about the forthcoming Scottish league season (and I don’t really know where that came from), I feel rather as if I’ve neglected this week’s news highlights, and it’s been rather a peculiar week, news-wise. First up, Liverpool have acquired Birmingham’s enfant terrible, Jermaine Pennant, for £6m. Having already snapped up Craig Bellamy from Newcastle, Rafael Benitez appears to be on a one-man mission to field the worst disciplined team in the history of English football. Look out for transfer gossip regarding Robbie Savage, Kieron Dyer and Roy Keane over the next week or so. With Harald Schumacher to join them as goalkeeping coach.
Equally odd is the story about Jermaine Defoe reportedly issuing a plea to Michael Carrick to stay at Spurs rather than joining Manchester United. Unlike Damien Duff going from Chelsea to Newcastle at what should be the peak of his career, even the most ardent of Spurs fans would have to agree that, by and large, going to Manchester United, for all the moral issues surrounding it, can never be considered a bad career move. It’s worth considering that Defoe has also been linked with a move to Old Trafford. Maybe he just really hates Michael Carrick. Just a thought.
Elsewhere, Pascal Chimbonda, whose particularly classy move of handing in his transfer request on the last day of last season whilst still in his kit, still hasn’t found himself a new club. Yet. My giggle-stifling on this subject will probably guarantee him a transfer to Barcelona before the week is out. I am always disappointed when players behave in such a ruthless way. Chimbonda’s season earnt him a place in the France World Cup squad. It would have been nice for him to show a little more loyalty to the club that took him on when (presumably) no-one else in the Premiership would, and when a foreign player behaves in this way, it only reinforces the Little Englander viewpoint that all foreign players are just a bunch of mercernaries that are only interested in one thing. I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit upset if he spent the whole of next season warming the bench at The JJB Stadium, but I doubt very much it’ll happen.
Friendlies! You’ve got to love the concept of Plymouth Argyle playing Real Madrid, but it happened this week at Home Park (as a reward for Argyle shifting training grounds at short notice to accomodate Real this summer). Of course, very few of The Galacticos were on display, but the Real team did contain Guti, Thomas Gravesen, Jonathan Woodgate, Raul and Ivan Helguera, and Real only nicked it by an odd goal. Get your money on Plymouth to have a run in the Champions League in three years or so now, while the odds are still long. Some other friendly results for you: Fulham 4-0 Maccabi Petach Tikva, Mansfield 4-0 Sheffield Wednesday (looks like it could be a long season for The Owls), and Stoke City 0-0 PSV Eindhoven. PSV will be happy to have come out of that fixture with a clean sheet. Last but not least for this section, Hearts kicked off their Champions League season (season and a half of they want to get to the latter stages) by beating the mighty Siroki Brijeg 3-0 at Tynecastle. I had to Google it – apparently Siroki Brijeg are from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Well. You live and learn. When do Rangers start in the UEFA Cup?
Finally, the new coach of Brazil is Carlos Dunga, one of the stars of the 1994 World Cup winning team, who (and I can scarcely believe this as I write it) has relinquished his position as a non-executive director of Queens Park Rangers in order to take over the position. That’s right. QPR. Now, I’d love to know the story of how one of the finest Brazilian players of the last twenty years came to find himself in Shepherd’s Bush with a directorship and, apparently, a handful of shares in The Superhoops (is it just me, or is “Superhoops” the worst nickname in English football?), but he has apparently been at Loftus Road for two years. QPR fans will be delighted to learn that Dunga won’t be giving up his shares in the club. Hmmm. I’ve just read this paragraph again, and none of it makes any sense.