Since Graham’s been going on and on about predictions, here are a few I’ve made in the past (1, 2, 3, 4). I got a few specific ones wrong (David Jones was sold, Alan Smith was sold, Rossi was sold) but in hindsight, that was wishful thinking. I got a few key ones right as well – Makelele’s decline, Scholesy and Giggsy decline and Arsenal’s problems last season.
1. Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool
A lot to talk about Liverpool today – the way the fan-based bid for the club is going, the whole deal with DIC and Hicks and Gillett, Mascherano’s new deal and my favourite, Carragher getting arrested for ‘common assault’ earlier this weekend (he was released on bail, don’t get too happy).
I’ve written a whole article on it, go here and let everyone know what you think.
2. The Chelsea brawl and pack reshuffle
So, apparently the tiff between Terry and Cate was because the latter was getting on John Obi Mikel’s case for not performing up to standards. Terry took offense to that and stepped in, and the grapevine rumour is that the Chelsea squad sided with Terry over this one.
I don’t. I think Cate is right to berate Mikel simply because Mikel, for all his talent, is not a mature enough footballer. Yes, he’s young and he needs time. At this level though, you don’t have the luxury of ‘time’. Football at the highest level demands that players grow up and mature quickly – if Mikel cannot get his temperament in order, he deserves to be brought in line.
Then again, maybe Cate stepped over the line. Who knows…
Also, how does a midfield of Mikel, Lampard, Ballack and Essien play? Narrow and defensive, that’s how. It’s the suggested lineup in today’s Times Online piece and since it’s proposed for the away game against West Ham, it seems more like a defensive-minded, counter-attacking system than the attractive football everyone seems to want Chelsea to play.
People need to get off Grant’s back and give him more time. Of course, I said this yesterday and it didn’t change the world…
3. Everton’s Challenge
I was reading yesterday of how Everton are trying to keep Mikel Arteta off the surgeon’s table in a bid to qualify for the Champions League for next season. Here’s a player who is pretty much risking serious injury every time he steps on the pitch, but by taking it easy off the pitch and going through a specialised training program he’s able to play for Everton week in and week out to help the club qualify.
Here’s to Arteta – he deserves to play in the Champions League.
4. Eduardo Watch
Martin Taylor talks to the Independent about the tackle on Eduardo and the aftermath.
It is shameful to hear of the death threats that he has received. I wonder if Wenger will apologise for his ‘in-the-heat’ comments that he later retracted, considering that a lot of hate vented towards Taylor has been
a direct result of those comments by Wenger a consequence of the influence Wenger’s initial comments had in shaping the viewpoints of Arsenal fans (I realised that my initial statement was incorrect and unfair on Wenger – thank you Spiral for initially pointing this out).
5. Euro 2008
Kevin Fylan (Reuters Soccer Blog) on the Euro 2008 stadiums.
6. Manchester United’s defenders
Rio Ferdinand’s contract is up for renewal, and instead of starting negotiations now they are being planned for the summer. Rio has another year left in his contract and this has given the tabloids plenty to wag their tongues about (and diverted some attention from the Arsenal / Chelsea / Liverpool focus in recent weeks). I honestly don’t see Rio Ferdinand leaving the club – he was chiefly responsible for United finishing 2nd instead of 3rd in 2005/2006 and he was a key player in our title-winning 06/07 season, AND he’s been our best defender this season as well.
The question has been that of wages – and while people talk about exorbitant wages, Rio is easily the most valuable defender at Manchester United and if that means paying him what Ronaldo is getting, then so be it. I also remember this Oliver Kay character, not exactly the best judge where Manchester United are concerned (unless you’re profiting from spreading false rumours about United).
And can we please solve the Wes Brown situation as well? Unless one of the Brazilians or Danny Simpson is going to surpass him next season, he’s the best right-back the club has.
7. Usmanov, Arsenal, Usmanov
Finally the tabloids are warming to the idea that the Arsenal board of directors could increase their collective stake in Arsenal to 51% and thus ward off any takeover bid from Usmanov. Still, if it took THEM an year to come around, I doubt that Arsenal’s finest are going to hop on to it next week.
As things stand, Usmanov has committed to NOT launching a takeover of Arsenal in the next 6 months. This is good in one sense – Arsenal will be self-reliant going into 2008/2009. On the other hand, it’s bad news because this will lead to intense speculation next season the last thing a club needs at the start of the season is takeover talk.
Incidentally, Usmanov owned Metallionvest will be sponsoring Dynamo Moscow for an year. Invest in football, I say…