Posts Tagged ‘Manchester United’

What next for Carlos Tevez?

No Love Lost

I got my first glimpse of Carlos Alberto Tevez during the FIFA u-17 World Cup hosted by Trindad and Tobago in 2001. His goal celebration caught my attention during their semi-final loss to France. He pulled his shirt off and to my surprise, I saw a full grown man with a hairy chest at age 17.

Carlos’ professional career has been hugely successful but it has also been accompanied with its bags and bags of controversies and issues. His protracted ownership right alongside his country man Javier Mascherano who both moved from Corinthians to West Ham in the summer of 2006 couldn’t be resolved until Manchester City acquired his full rights in 2009.

During his second season of his loan spell at Manchester United, he showed a lot of animosity when he dropped down the pecking order. One of his famous act of cynicism was him standing right in front of the Man Utd dug out with his hands to his ears (a gesture to SAF to listen) as the Old Trafford fans were chanting his name after his goal against Manchester City. A few months later, he was on the other side.

Tevez was signed by Hughes but was made captain by Mancini when the Italian replaced the Welsh man. The Argentine was arguably City’s best player in his first two seasons at the club despite his numerous outburst of being unsettled in England and had his fixed eyes on the exit door.

The day it all went south...

Manchester City managed to deal with his tantrums quite well and the manager even appeared to be a partial with the way he handled Carlos’ case when one compares it with the situation of Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy who were turned to outcasts. Every beginning they say must have an end so it is in Tevez’ case. His Munich refusal to warm up and play in a UCL game against Bayern appeared to be the final straw that broke the camel’s back. He has been suspended indefinitely from the first team and in a bid to force his way out of the club, Carlos went AWOL in November and vowed never to return to the club.

Livin' Lavida Loca?

His club responded by freezing his salary account at the end of November. A total of £9.3m has been taken away from the Argentine in fines, lost wages and bonuses since the start of this season.

The final resolution to the problem is for both parties to part.

AC Milan and a host of other clubs signified their intention to sign the embattled striker but City have refused to be bullied into selling a disgruntled star at a cut price.

Manchester City have warned Milan that they are “not an option” for Carlos Tevez unless the £30m price-tag is met, despite their “misplaced sense of confidence.” According to reports, the AC Milan’s negotiating team have agreed personal terms with the players and hope to use that as a means for City to lower their asking price.
The usually quiet Abu Dhabi owners have finally broken their silence on the matter to express their anger about what they regard as Milan trying to engineer a way to sign Tevez on the cheap.
On the other hand, PSG, another front runner for Tevez signature look to have pulled out of the race. Their Sporting Director, Leonardo told L’Equipe,

“We’ve ended the talks, there was an opportunity to sign him, but it is over. We did our calculations, we made a good offer but we’ve been unable to reach an agreement. We don’t intend to overpay in order to sign him.”

With just a day left in the January transfer window, it appears all parties involved in the Tevez saga have reached an impasse.

Manchester City have refused to budge. Milan who can’t match City’s demand have opted to sign another Argentine, Maxi Lopez from Catania. This may signal the end of their pursuit.

All interested clubs have in one form or the other backed out, what becomes of Carlos Tevez from now till the end of the season if no one comes to bail him out of his wilderness by 11:59pm, January 31, 2012?

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In Arsene We Trust?!

In Arsene We Trust? Or Rut?

Over the years, a large percentage of Arsenal followers have always put their faith in the “professor” and believed his judgment.

Pundits and skeptical fans have criticized his philosophy but everyone appears to agree that Arsene Wenger knows his onions and his decision should be respected if not necessarily appreciated.

The verbal assault has come in different form. His transfer recruitment policy, his preferred formation/tactics, perceived lack of hair-dryer treatment and now his substitutions.

In the midst of all this, the die-hard Gunners faithful always have a response to give – IN ARSENE WE TRUST.

Something strange happened at the Emirates stadium during Arsenal last league match against Manchester United. BIZARRE in the sense that in Wenger’s over 15 years reign in the North London, the entire stadium has never in unison chorused their disagreement like the one that happened when starlet Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain was substituted and replaced by Andrey Arshavin.

The moment that made the fans go mad

Chamberlain was the surprise name on the team sheet as he was included in the starting XI for the first time in the EPL and the young English man justified his inclusion with an awesome performance. His direct runs and dribbles gave seasoned veteran Evra a lot to ponder upon while switching to the other flank to torment Rafael da Silva. He capped his performance with an assist before he was substituted.

The decision to remove him was greeted with disapproval from the crowd, the expression of team captain (Robin Van Persie) and many who watched the game. In a contrast of fortune, Arshavin who replaced him showed his defensive vulnerability which led to the winning goal for the visitors – a defeat which leaves Arsenal in an uncomfortable position considering how their season has panned out so far.

After the game and in the mix zone, Arsene Wenger tried to defend himself;

“I’ve been a manager for 30 years and have made 50,000 substitutions. I don’t have to justify every one. I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesn’t work, but he had started to fatigue”.

This particular decision appears to have incurred the wrath of probably the most loyal Arsenal fan including the popular CNN man Piers Morgan as they are beginning to lose faith in Arsene.

1/10000th of what @piersmorgan had to say about the substitution and the boss

Football fans are as dynamic as the game itself. It keeps evolving. One bad decision however costly isn’t enough to make me doubt Professor Arsene Wenger.

IN ARSENE I STILL TRUST…… What about you? Lets hear your opinion on the Professor in the comment box.

More headache for Sir Alex?

The stench of the defeat... too much for Fergie to bear?

Last May, Manchester United were taught a football lesson which lasted 90 minutes at Wembley in the UEFA Champions league final. Sir Alex Ferguson’s comment after the game was commendable – he praised the victors and set himself a target to build a Manchester United side using Barcelona as the benchmark.

In his over twenty years at the helms at Old Trafford, the Red Devils manager has fought for supremacy with Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea etc domestically and the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Juventus etc on the continent but he has never had to battle for it in Manchester. It has been United all the way

Last Sunday’s 6-1 thrashing by their “noisy neighbours” at Old Trafford is United’s biggest home loss since 1955 and their first loss at home since Chelsea won 2-1 in April 2010 is the alarm bell the Knight wouldn’t want to hear.

“Super Mario” Balotelli scored the opener with a brilliant finish and the controversial lad gave us a quote for the week – “why always me“. Johnny Evans red at the start of the second half didn not help United case. “Wario” as some would call him scored his second and it was followed by Kun Aguero’s goal. Fletcher pulled one back and all anticipation of another great United comeback was extinguished with Dzeko’s goal. The man of the match, man of the moment and arguably the best player in the Premier league till date David Silva included his name on the scorers sheet with another aplomb finish past his helpless country man, Dzeko completed the rout with his second of the game.

Scoreboards don't lie..

United were dominated and outplayed by City. An unbelievable score line or was it a mistake?

The Blue side of Manchester have made a massive statement with this victory. It’s not just the three point but the bragging rights and the self-belief that wasn’t there during the Community shield.

Is power about to change hands in Manchester? I bet a lot of United fans will disagree but with the quality of players at Mancini disposal and the strength-in- depth that City boast of which can’t be rivaled by any side in England at the moment. There is a reason for concern, virtually all positions have two top players vying for a starting XI shirt which gives the manager an opportunity to use different personnel and tactics as he decides. An example was James Milner’s role as the box-to-box midfielder which was executed perfectly by the England international. That’s a luxury Manchester United can’t boast of at the moment. The once upon a time Vidic-Ferdinand combination which was MUFC backbone is no more with Rio’s fitness (or lack of it) and his  steady poor performances against Liverpool and Man City while his partner is either injured or suspended.

I reckon that SAF’s team won’t go down like that  because the wily old Scot has all the experience to get his team back on the right track in order for his dynasty not to collapse right in front of him. One of his old comment during the emergence of the Abu Dhabi Manchester City when he said,

“over my dead body will City be the dominant team in Manchester”

must be playing on his mind now as he buries his head under his pillow once again like he did when City beat United 5-1 at Maine Road in 1989.

Brighter days on Tyneside

The Toon Army... having a nice time... so far

After eight rounds of matches in the EPL, Newcastle United and the two Manchester teams are sides yet to record a loss in the league so far. Who would have placed a bet on Magpies? No one!

Sunday’s game against one of the ‘top-six‘ side Tottenham Hotspur was another opportunity to assess Alan Pardew’s team – and they impressed again. The Londoners (Spurs) took the lead thanks to a Rafael Van der Vaart well converted spot kick after Steven Taylor’s foul on Manolito Adebayor and the scoreboard read one-nil at the interval to the visitors. The in-form Senegalese striker Demba Ba scored a poachers goal just as the second half began to restore parity. The ding-dong affair continued with neither side able to stamp their authority on the game but Harry Houdini Redknapp’s super sub Defoe shot Tottenham into the lead with about 20minutes left.

Alan Pardew shuffled his cards and brought on Shola Ameobi, Hatem Ben Arfa and debutant Davide Santon. Newcastle had to get something out of this game with Pardew barking instructions on the sidelines. Wave after wave of attack resulted in Ameobi’s goal to the delight of SJP. The Northerns pushed forward in search on a winning goal but it ended two all. A great game of football with genuine English passion.

Surprise manager of the 'surprise' team...

I am among the set of people who were shocked when NUFC sacked Chris Hughton last season and appointed Alan Pardew. I’ve never been a big Alan Pardew fan, I do not rate him highly but he appears to be erasing my doubts slowly with the performance his team has been producing this season. Although it’s still early days but Newcastle’s performance and form is one that makes me think Europe is not beyond the Magpies reach if this momentum can be maintained.

With the departure of high profile players like Joey Barton, Andy Carroll, Jose Enrique and Kevin Nolan, a lot of people expected this newly assembled Newcastle side to struggle in the Premier League. Fans and critics questioned the ambition of the Manager, and the Chairman, but it seems the new lads acquired by Pardew are settling in nicely in the big boots of the departed stars.

France international Yohan Cabaye who joined in the summer from Lille has fitted in, Man Utd flop Gabriel Obertan appears to be enjoying his football again, Demba Ba goals did not go down with West Ham. Ben Arfa is back while Slyvain Marveaux and Davide Santon taking their time to learn the Premier league ropes.

An impressive decision of Alan Pardew’s reign so far is installing Tim Krul in between the sticks ahead of old Harper. The Dutch international has the qualities required to be a good Premier league shot stopper with his good reflexes. The contribution of ‘old’ players like Coloccini, Guiterrez should not be overlooked too.

The heavyweight fixtures against the Manchester sides and Chelsea in the space of three weeks starting from mid-November is sure to be a defining period for Newcastle.  Win or lose in those games, the quality and decent depth of Pardew’s Newcastle suggests that a top-ten finish should be the minimum expectation from the board and the fans but aspiring for a place on the continental wouldn’t be too much of a dream.

Who says those happy days are not back on Tyneside after the gloomy Autumn of 2009?

The Sun sets on Scholes’ illustrious career

Bye bye Football jersies...

Less than 24 hours after Manchester United FC trophy parade across streets in the city of Manchester, another member of the graduating MU youth team class of ’93, Paul Aaron Scholes has called it day. The former England international said,

“This was not a decision I’ve taken lightly but I feel now is the right time for me to stop playing”. “I am not a man of many words but I can honestly say that playing football is all I have ever wanted to do and to have had such a long and successful career at Manchester United has been a real honour”.

The dynamic midfield maestro is known for his excellent passing skills, shooting ability and scoring quite a number of goals with his head despite  his height.
Paul belongs to the group of players who spend their entire club career in one football club. His Manchester United career began at the club’s youth team before he got promoted to the seniors in the 1994/95 season. He was handed his debut in October ’94 and appeared 17 times in his first season.
By the 1998/99 season, the attacking midfielder had established a formidable partnership with Roy Keane in the centre of the midfield as Manchester United marched on to a historic treble. He showed his versatility and knack for scoring plenty goals when he was drafted to play a second striker’s role behind Andy Cole during the famous Eric Cantona’s suspension, a role he played again to support Ruud Van Nistelrooy in order to accomodate Juan Sebastein Veron when the Argentine arrived at Old Trafford in 2001.
Scholes gave Manchester United 17 years of top class football with an incredible 676 appearances where he won virtually all honors the game has to offer at club level. (10 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 5 Community Shields, 2 UEFA Champions League titles, An Intercontinental title and a FIFA Club World Cup title)

The shy English man also represented his country at various levels. He debuted for The Three Lions in 1997. Scholes who won 66 caps and scored 14 goals was a member of the English team that competed at the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cup as well as the European championship in 2000 and 2004.

The Old Trafford midfield general has been acknowledged by many as a football great. Former World player of the year Zinedine Zidane once made this comment,

“My toughest opponent? Scholes. He is undoubtedly the greatest player of his generation”.

Another French man Thierry Henry added his voice by saying

“Without any doubt the best player in the Premiership has to be Scholes… He knows how to do everything.”

World Cup winning coach Marcelo Lippi hailed Scholes has an all-round midfielder who possesses quality and character in abundance.

Even the coach of the recently crowned Barcelona side, Pep Guardiola once said this of Scholes

“Out of everyone at Manchester United, I would pick out Scholes – he is the best midfielder of his generation, I would have loved to have played alongside him.”

With all the praises and honors won, Paul has decided to bow out when the ovation is still loud.
It’s sad to see another fantastic footballer call it quit but we are honored to have watched him play.

Thank you Paul Scholes.

(To see more quotes on Paul Scholes by players and managers,  click here and here)

A Man United legend.. through and through