Friday, May 8, 2009
ESPNsoccernet: May 7, 5:10 PM UK
Striker for hire, Barcelona fire
This was the week in which Manchester City were turned down by yet another big-name player, Arsene Wenger was 'disappointed' in his side's less than magnificent performance against Manchester United, Barcelona were awesome (then lucky) and David Trezeguet's dad made it clear his son will be hired out in the summer.
City suffer more transfer heartbreak - Friday, May 1
World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last player to make it clear that he wouldn't be joining Manchester City this summer. The veteran defender will be leaving Real Madrid at the end of the season, but despite City's overtures, has chosen to return to Italy instead. Rather than dwell on being turned down perhaps City should accentuate the positives; after all they've just saved the better part of £30m by not signing a player past his best purely to get a 'big name' at the club.
However, City might have a better chance of landing their other transfer target. Certainly not past his prime, Arjen Robben might just turn out to be a decent player for City if he can stay fit enough to complete a few games. £18m seems a snip, but it all hinges on the player happy to swap Champions League football and Spanish sunshine, for mid-table mediocrity in Manchester.
Barcelona hit top gear, Real misery - Saturday, May 2
Wow. When Barcelona play, they really play and not even title rivals Real Madrid can do anything about it. Six exquisite goals, and one of the best games of the season - possibly of all time - and the Spanish title race looks over. Lionel Messi et al made Europe's most successful team look like schoolboys and Madrid stalwart Raul summed up the situation well: "We felt powerless. It's a defeat that hurts a lot," he said. ''We fought until the end, but we've come up against a better team and you have to congratulate them.''
Rooney and Derbyshire set to stay - Sunday, May 3
After Man United put two past Middlesbrough to virtually seal their Premier League title hopes for this season, they got even better news as Wayne Rooney claimed he wanted to stay at Old Trafford for the rest of his career. In a shock move, the striker is happy(!) to stay at the most successful club in England; while he's even happier to add a few more zeroes to his paycheque by signing a contract extension. Shocking.
Elsewhere, Matt Derbyshire would love to sign a contract extension at United, but has had to settle for Olympiakos instead. The England U21 striker surprised everyone by signing for the Greek side in January and he's having a plate-smashing time at the double winners, so much so that he wants to stick around next season too. We're fairly sure Blackburn won't stand in his way.
Rafa's games, Horrific Reynoso - Monday, May 4
Somebody please tell Rafa Benitez to quit the mind games. He's really not doing himself any favours and Fergie hasn't batted an eyelid at his latest attempts. Apparently United 'will' make mistakes in the run-in and Liverpool will be there to take advantage - although there's little evidence to back this up just yet. It could all be the most cunningly worked out plan in history if the Reds come from behind to claim the title, but don't bank on it.
Monday also saw probably the worst, most deplorable, piece of action to have happened on a football pitch in quite some years. With everyone worried about swine flu and the suspensions of games in the Copa Libertadores and the Mexican league, it seems unbelievable that Guadalajara defender Hector Reynoso would pretend to have the disease after spitting in an opponent's face, but it happened. Read it here in black and white. And hope that this player never sets foot on a pitch again.
Madrid's promises, OM land Deschamps - Tuesday, May 5
False promises are the bedrock of a Real Madrid presidential election campaigns; we all remember how well Ramon Calderon's pledge to sign Cesc Fabregas and Kaka worked out. Well, with candidates clamouring for support ahead of next month's vote the candidates have sparked an early start the perennial transfer rumour silly season.
While Madrid fans might be excited to learn that Didier Drogba is top of candidate Eduardo Garcia's wish list, they may be less pleased to hear he also has agreements in place for Keirrison of Palmeiras and Ivan Marcano of Racing Santander. Who they will eventually sign remains a mystery, but we can expect the biggest names in the game to all be linked with the Bernabeu in the next few weeks.
The manager's role might also be up for grabs in Madrid, but it's not going to Didier Deschamps who has decided to join Marseille instead. Replacing Belgian Eric Gerets, the former French midfielder impressed with Monaco back in 2004 and could have a tough act to follow as OM are in pole position to seal their first title in 17 years. We wonder if he'll carry the water on for the players as well?
'The most disappointing of nights', Trez for hire - Wednesday, May 6
After promises of a 'magnificent performance', Arsenal's fourth 'transitional' season in a row continued on Tuesday night as they were hammered by Manchester United at home in the Champions League. The quotes came pouring out of the club the following day, led by Arsene Wenger who was forced to admit his young squad is still developing. Pride, desire, belief& the usual tosh was trotted out, but the most succinct appraisal probably came from United left-back Patrice Evra: ''It was men against boys''. For once, Wenger saw it all.
Wenger was once linked with a move for French striker David Trezeguet, but it has been a bit of a fall from grace for a man once considered one of the best around. The Juventus striker is on his way out of Italy in the summer and his dad claims: ''Everyone wants him in England.'' We have no doubt that the likes of Bolton, West Ham, Everton and Wigan would love to snap up an international for a cut-price fee; but the top four will probably look the other way when Trez moves on.
Drogba rage, Felix's honesty - Thursday, May 7
All the headlines from Thursday were focused on Didier Drogba as his post-match outburst at the referee, TV cameras and any steward who dared to hold him back. Ok, the Norwegian ref had a bit of a mare and missed at least two obvious penalty decisions; but the reason 'Mad Drog' was so incensed was that he had missed a golden opportunity to seal the tie himself when he fluffed his lines from ten yards out. As bad as his reaction was, just imagine if Jose Mourinho had still been in charge!
Elsewhere, footballers don't have the greatest of reputations as far as honesty is concerned, so it's refreshing to hear German boss Felix Magath claim he's moving on from Wolfburg because of the money. If more in the game had this kind of openness, perhaps we wouldn't begrudge them their insanely high salaries - just don't tell us you need ''a new challenge''.
And finally, if you're going to have a tickertape parade to celebrate the winning of a title, for heaven's sake make sure you don't set off fireworks at the same time. Otherwise, this happens.