by Steven S
The players who did not feature in this summers Euro’s returned to training this week. Official websites across the country received their annual boost during the off season as Premier starved fans eagerly searched for new photos of bit part players jogging in tracksuits. Cue bemused faces as we tried to figure out who all those strangers might be before they disappear again for another year once the big boys return.
Since the Euros work places have been filled with rumours of players and managers appearing in cities with insiders confirming shock deals, hopes and dreams for the season ahead beginning to gather momentum. People start to talk about other things desperate to find some sort of common ground that maybe, just maybe may provide a worthwhile distraction from the barren desert of football they are faced with.
It’s been tough. 13 days since a last meaningful piece of rubber was kicked across a luscious carpet of evenly spaced and trimmed green graminoid, whistling past a man wearing pink recycled bottles. For an explanation of that last part, please see Szczesny this past Wednesday. Sweet Jesus.
His North London counterpart Brad Friedel told us this week that Tottenham can move on from Modric if he is sold as rumours of Real Madrid continue to do the rounds with a price tag between £28-40m being suggested. Such a slow public transfer will not help secure the best price for Moutinho who is apparently earmarked as the Croatian’s replacement. Like a miserable dribbling bulldog, Andy Gray got stuck into the Tottenham midfield last Sunday jumping onto a tweet from Tom Huddlestone following Andy Murray’s tear laden Wimbledon defeat. Gray’s late evening snarl was cleared up by good cop Keys the following morning before changing the password and putting his partner back in his kennel. The transfer of Jan Vertonghen was also finally completed following his contractual issues with Ajax, the fee likely to be somewhere in the region of £7-10m, whilst Adebayor is likely to tie up a permanent move some time this week.
Solomon Kalou left the Premiership for Lille last weekend clearing a little more room and wage money for a high profile replacement likely to arrive before the season starts. Having secured £47m from the Champions League last season more of that is likely to be spent to rejuvenate the midfield; Brazilian club Internacional revealed Chelsea have made approaches regarding Oscar, Bayer Leverkusen rejected an initial £16m bid for wide player Andre Schurrle and let us not forget Kevin de Bruyne who was a £10m signing from Genk last January and has returned back from his loan period with the selling club.
Chelsea’s captain John Terry continues to take centre stage even whilst on holiday, although refused permission by the judge to change into his full kit after the verdict was returned. The FA now looms large and may bring Terry and Anton to task for the language used by the two on the pitch, highlighted by the questioning in court to gain a rounder context of the allegation. We all know the words the case was based on so rightfully any judgement in a legal court had to be made on those alone. To then concentrate on the more common swearing and insults exchanged between men not just on a sports field but amongst themselves in groups to various to degrees, would be a step too far toward sanitising the game. It is somewhat ironic that given the scaremongering before the Euro’s in Poland and Ukraine, the Premiership has produced two of the highest profile cases in recent memory, a fact which Panaroma should perhaps take onboard and look a little closer to home.
Tour de France favourite Bradley Wiggins is taking the great British swearing tradition over to mainland Europe maintaining the weeks four letter theme, labelling the people behind the Twitter accusation of drug taking as c***s. Not to be outdone, JT tried a new angle by taking home the comedy moment of the week with his ‘please please please please’ response to a request to repeat evidence he had indeed been sent off four times in his career. Sadly for JT he didn’t seem to appreciate his comedic moment thus failing to really build a case for his sarcastic wit. Ashley Cole was one of many colleagues to give evidence even managing to win back some Arsenal hearts by batting back a puerile question about fan noise at the Emirates. This could be a career changing moment for prosecution barrister Duncan Penny, who may struggle to come back from a court case defeat and being outwitted by Ashley Cole.
Brendan Rogers secured his first signing at Liverpool, Roma midfielder Fabio Borini confirmed as a £11m signing alongside Alberto Aquilani who will now stay with the club. Joe Cole is also likely to remain in the squad so there are options that were not available last season and that lend themselves more toward the style of play Rodgers prefers. Maxi Rodriguez has returned to Argentina to resign for Newell’s Old Boys so options out wide may prove to be next on the agenda. Stories of Andy Carroll leaving the club continue to grow with options ranging anywhere between West Ham and AC Milan, the latter having a tidy some to spend following the Ibra and Silva sales. Another six footer was revealed at Anfield this week. The Mighty Red – Liverpool’s new mascot – a large size Liver Bird that will maraud the pitch pre match, manically grinning at the young kids in the ground bemused by a real life Nintendo character.
Other transfer news this week includes two new players arriving at Swansea; Jonathan de Guzman from Villareal on a season long loan and Jose Manuel Flores signing full time terms from Genoa. Reading brought back old boy Nicky Shorey on a one year deal from West Brom and Kolo Toure is in talks to move to Turkish side Bursaspor for around £6m. Park Ji-sung also joined the continuing influx into QPR and will prove to be a solid addition to a midfield that will be Bartonless for quite some time. Paddy Kenny has left the club like a sad puppy to once again team up with Neil Warnock and Hugo Rodallega has joined Fulham on a free transfer.
Former Southampton captain Claus Lundekvam has told a Norwegian news programme that he and fellow Premiership captains bought a new meaning to in game betting, placing money on first throws, corners, yellow cards etc as “Those were the sorts of thing we had influence over.” He went on to say that there was no match fixing but engineering those sorts of small incidents would surely have a major influence over the flow of a game and its result.
Gambling has always been something of untouchable subject in the game over the years, despite various international camps and numerous high profile players suffering with financial problems. The rules have been made clear on what a professional footballer can place his money on but if you have large groups of men earning thousands of pounds a week forever stuck in each others company it is hard to expect complete transparency. FIFA are making noises to investigate the allegations although with the current bribe scandals encompassing Sepp Blatter their credibility is fast heading for the toilet.
Results will start to trickle in from around the globe as our heroes venture far and wide to play in friendlies against pointless opposition. Fitness and team bonding is the priority for managers and players, although try telling that to the angry internet mob that will flood message board forums to complain of a poor season ahead following a defeat involving a makeshift team somewhere in the Middle East. So, that’s enough from me for another five minutes of your life, keep yourself safe until next week and we’ll see what’s on offer then.