by Steven S

‘His name is Rio and he sits up in the stand’.  Just a chant idea for any City fans there. Free of copyright too. No? Well I guess there can’t many anti Rios outside of Manchester at the moment.

As football returns and England prepare for their opener against France the traditional pre tournament scandal has raged on over the whole Terry/Ferdinand saga, the press insisting that Hodgson explains himself.  The manager was passed a real hot potato by the FA who should’ve resolved the issue either through Capello or in the period after his departure.

Of course Hodgson was fully aware of the decision he faced and given the responsibility he has made it, which would have been the end if it were not for all those pesky injuries. Roy chose Terry for football reasons we were told – the definition of which has diminished over the past week to suit those critical of Rio’s continued exclusion.

Terry was chosen not only because of his literal superior football abilities over Ferdie – whether Roy was right there no longer matters. Part of the ‘football reasons’ also include the ability to galvanise a team, lead by example and possess that winning mentality on the pitch. So by extension Terry helping to create a better atmosphere off the pitch is also a football reason. The two should not be separated as they have been. Let’s not forget that Hodgson would’ve have had to have taken Cole, Walcott and Defoe’s ability to deal with Terry’s allegations into consideration too.

Everyone knows team harmony is the reason yet the press will not back off until they actually hear those words, which will of course just create more sensationalism for something else. So whilst the stand off between the FA and the media continues on the point it allows the idea of racist motives to grow.  I’m sure Roy was fully aware of the microscopic analysis that comes along with the job; let’s just hope that he is given a chance before he is walking the plank.

The Hazard to Chelsea transfer was confirmed for £32million following the first full glimpse of his talents at Wembley against England. Far from a shining light, he did look very bright and ready to roll his sleeves up and I think he will be determined to make his mark once the season kicks off. Dirk Kuyt has flirted with the idea of leaving Liverpool for the past year or so, this week jetting off to Fenerbahce for a tiny £1million. The sneaky fella signed a new contract in April 2011 for two years with that little clause hidden in there. Liverpool won’t miss a great deal of end product although will need to replace a hard working, industrious squad player ready to sacrifice for the team.

Sigurdsson could be one of those guys, who would add quality and competition to Liverpool’s centre of midfield. Gylfi himself has admitted he doubts a return to Swansea will happen, already flashing some leg at Brendan in his new posh office at Anfield. Robert Green has confirmed he will leave West Ham on a free transfer which may alert Tottenham who have to look at long term options. On a side note, what a shame that Cudicini never seemed to possess a hunger to get the most from his career. Nearly all fans remember his excellent performances at Chelsea before he turned into a theoretical player.

Nani is negotiating, ok well his agent, a new contract at Old Trafford whilst also letting us know that he will ‘study opportunities’ elsewhere. He is what Ronaldo could’ve become if Cristiano didn’t have such an exceptional work ethic; a sometimish player that cannot always be relied on to deliver when needed. Kagawa is definitely on his way in however, United wrapping up a relatively cheap deal at £12million.  Robert Lewandowski of Dortmund is now being linked to follow his former team mate, although his agent would be wise to wait until after the Euro’s given the platform his client will have for a month.

Swansea continue their search for a manager becoming associated with names at both end of the spectrum. Will it be Wigan assistant Graeme Jones, Michael Laudrup, Ian Holloway or Dennis Bergkamp? It certainly won’t be Paul Lambert, now confirmed as the new manager of Aston Villa. It was drummed up to be a raw exit from Carrow Road but it has soon settled down to see Paul leave within a week. The Holt situation still hangs around which will need to be addressed very soon as he is currently one of the club’s most important players; 15 goals in the Prem is not so easy to replace on their budget.

Another interesting change at Norwich with Chris Hughton’s appointment bringing stability for the club over the summer and pre season prep. He has made a great start to managerial life at Newcastle and Birmingham, now returning to the Prem for a second stint after what at the time seemed an unbelievable removal from Newcastle. Having left Liverpool along with Dalglish, Steve Clarke was confirmed as the new manager of West Brom giving him a chance to prove he can do more than assist. Brian Kidd could be worth a call. Birmingham begin their search for a replacement and a return to the top flight will depend very much on the calibre they bring in. Alex McLeish is available we hear…

“To be honest, I always thought John Bishop was the biggest comedian in the north west but Dave Whelan seems to have taken that mantle over the last couple of weeks.” So says Liverpool MD Ian Ayre. He must’ve seen the sales prices of the England shirts at JJB (yes we know he no longer owns the chain but bear with us, it’s a quiet week).

Redknapp is seeking out a solid extension to his current deal with Levy apparently only offering a rolling one year contract. Levy holds all the cards, with Redders’ age and extremely limited options meaning that perhaps only Chelsea – and that link is tenuous to say the least – would offer a challenge anywhere near on par. Quite a turn around from the buzz surrounding the club at Christmas, talk of the title and the entertaining football on display, now the complete opposite to what took place over at Chelsea. If he left and retired, we could be forced into a Redknapp tag team on Sky every week. Think about it. Hell. Literally.

Last week I mentioned that I would profile some teams for the Euros but on reflection that has been done to death and let’s face it, the boat has now set sail.  Nevermind, there’s a whole week of 12 games of football to watch, beer to drink and Fantasy Football points to be won so  let’s hope we make it back here next week. Toodles.