The Highs And Lows Of Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United Career

7 03 2013

Rooney's Future Is In Doubt

Rooney’s Future Is In Doubt

Highs

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The Crazy Spending Of The January Transfer Window

13 10 2011

The transfer window is a period the tabloids love with their continuous volumes of rumours to fuel the avid fan with belief his team is going to invest heavily in a top class forward, finally. The window at the turn of the year is traditionally one which sees low costs moves, usually mid-table clubs investing heavily to help avoid the drop. But this January saw an anomaly in England; big signings. Fernando Torres (£50m), Andy Carroll (£32m), Luis Suarez (£22m), David Luiz (£25m), Darren Bent (24m) and Edin Dzeko (£27m) all moved for prices above £20m, in deals you would generally expect to see in the summer. But what was the general trend across Europe?

The difference between the other European nations was drastic. With UEFA implementing new financial regulations next season in which clubs cannot spend more than their annual turnover, it seems the powerhouses of England – riddled with debt – wanted to make one last splurge. Overall in January a reported £225m was spent in the Premier League, a record amount which even surpasses the previous milestone of £175m which was set back in 2008, mainly due to Manchester City’s spending. The Citizens would be part of proceedings once more, but the big spenders were Chelsea. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovic has been reluctant in the past few seasons to invest, hoping the influx of youth signings under Frank Arnesen would be promoted and provide an ending to the Jose Mourinho years of economically draining investments.

Over in Spain money was spent, but not in large quantities. Barcelona’s sole purchase was young Dutchman Ibrahim Affelay from PSV Eindhoven who cost roughly €2m, while Real Madrid’s recruitment was the flimsy loan signing of Emanuel Adebayor from Manchester City. Malaga, under the ownership of a Qatari millionaire, helped spice up the transfer window signing six new players, the most costly being former Arsenal forward Julio Baptista who returned to Spain from Italy for  €3m.

Giampaolo Pazzini Celebrates After Scoring A Goal For His New Club

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The Shrewd Transfer Policy Of Villarreal

29 08 2011

Based in Castellón, the northern district of Valencia; a team whose nickname resides from a Beatles song have been making an impression in Spain and Europe for the past seven seasons. The Yellow Submarines were notoriously a club which hovered around the lower depths of Spanish football and it was not until 1970 before they even reached the Segunda Division. However, since 2000, Villarreal have been a mainstay in La Liga, establishing themselves as European contenders virtually every season. Unlike Alavés, Real Betis or Celta Vigo before them, they have been able to achieve consistency, which the others failed to do with subsequent relegations only years after European qualification. So how has this little team, whose El Madrigal stadium holds only 25,000, been able to punch above their weight?

The strategy has consisted of thorough scouting. South America is a hotbed for talent, with abundance to choose from and players being relatively cheap and Villarreal have found the perfect model to make money. The likes of Diego Godín, Gonzalo Rodríguez, Birmingham flop Luciano Figueroa, Martín Cáceres and Antonio Valencia have all become successful internationals that have been sold for a profit or in Gonzalo’s case, stayed and become a proven talent. With such a vast array of talent, the B team helps to nurture these prospects, and they are now in their third consecutive season in the Segunda Division. Of course by signing youngsters in profusion, you are bound to sign the odd flop. Players like Sebastián Battaglia, Damián Escudero, Mariano Barbosa, Sebastián Viera and American Jozy Altidore did not live up to their potential, but the scheme is generally successful, and you only have to look at the current crop making strides in La Liga like Jefferson Montero, Matteo Musacchio and Marco Ruben to see that the production line is continually developing new faces.

The next stage to help aid these talents in development is sign experienced players who have the hunger, and whose wages won’t strain the club’s budget. Boca Juniors legend Martín Palermo was one of the first to travel, along with teammate Gustavo Barros Schelotto at the turn of the Millennium, but both proved unsuccessful. Juliano Belletti, the man who scored the winning goal for Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final, got his first taste of European football at Villarreal. Then you have one of the greatest signings in El Submarino Amarillo’s history, Marcos Senna. Plucked from Brazilian football as a relative unknown, the holding midfielder eventually became captain in 2005. His biggest impact perhaps was for the national team. Nationalised in 2006, he became a key figure for Los Rojo for four years, with his greatest moment winning Euro 2008, Spain’s first title in 44 years.

Riquelme Was A Maestro When He Graced El Madrigal

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How Do Manchester United Beat Barcelona?

24 05 2011

Saturday is a chance for redemption for Sir Alex Ferguson. Two years ago on that fateful night in Rome, Manchester United succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in a final which has been privately exasperating the manager. Barcelona overran the Red Devils in the centre of the pitch and it has been said that Michael Carrick is only just starting to rediscover that consistency which vacated him after that game.

United come into this match after a title-winning campaign brandished as lacking ‘fantasy’, but perhaps that will put them in good stead against a team who have it in abundance. Trying to play Barça at their own game will generally result in defeat, but with dogged determination, team full of energy and a potent striker, United have a great chance of reversing the disappointment from 2009.

Despite claims that we might be witnessing one of the greatest teams ever in the Catalans, they still have their flaws, and Ferguson knows if he can exploit them and more importantly take their chances, then United are one of the best teams to sit back and play on the counter-attack when protecting a lead.

Busquets Needs To Be Prevented From Playing

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Decision Time For Alex Chamberlain

9 05 2011

With the Premier League implementing new rules at the start of the season, clubs are now permitted to have at least eight ‘home-grown’ players in their squads. The hope is that it will encourage teams to nurture more English talent through into the senior squads.

The top clubs are always on the prowl for young talent. With the reward of watching players develop into stars and being a cheaper alternative in the inflated transfer market, the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have become notorious for this modus operandi.

The latest prospect on everyone’s lips is playing down at Southampton. With the recent success of Theo Walcott and especially Gareth Bale in North London since their moves, and Premier League legends like Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer being produced by the South Coast side, there is now an element of expectation when the Saints promote a new youngster to the first team. In Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, it looks like they have a new prodigy to add to the list.

Alex Chamberlain Is Attracting Interest From Premier League Sides

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The Rebirth Of Michael Carrick?

7 04 2011

Every club needs a scapegoat. For years homegrown Scotsman Darren Fletcher bore the brunt of the anger of the Manchester United fans and questioned Sir Alex Ferguson’s insistence on playing someone who they felt was not up to the requirements of the club. Gael Clichy and Jose Bosingwa receive the same treatment from their respected clubs, but there is one midfielder at Old Trafford who splits opinion more than anyone; Michael Carrick.

When he signed in 2006 from Tottenham Hotspur for a potential £18.6m, many fans were apprehensive with the price tag for a consistent, yet unspectacular player. However Carrick was the man who helped inspire United to three consecutive Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008. Playing as a deep-lying playmaker, Carrick was key in sitting deep and intercepting play in a way which Sergio Busquets does for Barcelona, yet his passing meant he was a perfect deputy with Paul Scholes’ injury problems around that time. His form was so good that people were surprised he was not a regular in the England set-up.

Carrick's form has dropped since the 2-0 defeat to Barcelona

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Manchester United Player Focus – Jonny Evans

21 10 2010

At the start of the 2008/09 season, Manchester United Coach Sir Alex Ferguson had a dilemma; albeit one he was not complaining about. With Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand being the first choice centre-back pairing, a deputy was needed, someone who would be the long-term successor to Ferdinand, yet would get opportunities to develop in the first team.

The previous season Spanish defender Gerard Pique had impressed everyone at Old Trafford, with mature performances and the manager was not afraid to play him in big games against the likes of Arsenal and Roma. In the second half of the 2007/08 season Jonny Evans rejoined Roy Keane’s Sunderland side, whom he had already played for in a spell the season before, to help them in the fight against relegation, and displayed performances which caught the attention of his parent club. He had spent the first half of the season at the Red Devils, but appearances were restricted to just cup competitions. Eventually Barcelona resigned Pique, but Ferguson was not as reluctant as people would have expected in letting him depart, as he knew that Evans was ready for the step up to the first team.

Evans Needs To Rediscover Form

Evans Needs To Rediscover Form

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