Footballrumours’s Blog

2010 Season Hotting Up
March 1, 2010, 1:24 pm
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Hello, we’re back and with perfect timing to pick up on all the rumours circulating around the Premiership and FA Cup competitions. The FIFA World Cup is also a bright star on the horizon which will no doubt feed our rumour-mill throughout the summer, but there’s plenty to keep us busy before we turn our thoughts to South Africa.

Our posts last year on Tevez turned out to be true and the Argentinian star left Old Trafford and has spent the 2010 season causing pain all over the league, not least at Manchester United, which he seems to be relishing. We wonder why?!

Ferguson himself seems to be finding it harder and harder to keep his cool and like more and more Premiership managers seems to be taking the bait when it comes to responding to journalists and broadcasters giving them the spotlight to air their opinions. Wenger is another who is quick to critique. In fact Martin O’Neil is slowly emerging as an example of contained competence, even though his side were on the receiving end of yet more refereeing incompetence at the weekend.
Rooney continues to impress though and if his own maturity keeps pace with his obviously improving skill, then we could be in for some exciting World Cup moments later in the year.

Michael Owen has been given a new lease of life by Man Utd and Ferguson has been sticking to his guns by playing Owen as regularly as his fitness allows, but, with the league looking ever closer at the top, Sir Alex may be forced to put emotion and national loyalties to one side and make more use of Rooney than Capello would like.

It certainly looks like a three horse race at the top now and Chelsea’s domestic worries are not going to do them any favours, with Terry and now Ashley Cole both receiving massive media attention for matters other than football and that can’t bode well for Ancelotti’s boys. That all seemed to come home to roost last weekend as they entertained Man City at home in one of the crunch games of the season. It was Chelsea’s first home defeat of the season and even though Lampard’s goal gave them an early lead, they seemed on the back foot all through the second half and never looked like even securing a draw.
With Cech’s replacement Hilario looking very unsteady in goal, that could well be the undoing of the Stamford Bridge side unless Ancelotti can act quickly. Something to think about there.

The FA Cup resumes next weekend and Fulham, Aston Villa and Tottenham will be hopeful that a demoralised and under-pressure Chelsea will be easier to beat. Chelsea have to get past Stoke City first, who could well provide an upset that will ease the path of the other contenders to Wembley.


Manchester United Play Out Tevez Deal in the Press
May 14, 2009, 4:22 pm
Filed under: Barclays Premiership | Tags: , , , ,

Sir Alex Ferguson has taken to using the media more frequently these days. Despite his reluctance to appear in front of the cameras to discuss his team’s performance following a game, he seems more than happy to lay out his opinions of the opposition before a game and now to play out the Tevez negotiations, presumably to get a better deal for his club.

It does seem odd that Tevez’s agent is saying one thing while Ferguson is claiming the opposite. surely they are talking to each other directly and not just through the media channels? As the stories from each side seem to contradict one another then someone is lying or at least bending the truth somewhere. You have to analyse exactly what is being quoted to understand what may be happening.

Kia Joorabchian, the advisor ( not exactly the agent) for Tevez is saying that Manchester United have not yet offered Tevez a contract that is encouraging him to stay. Last week Tevez said he hadn’t been made an offer of a contract but Ferguson says that Joorabchian has met with the Club’s Chief Executive and an offer has been made.

Well, try making sense of that if you can. Perhaps they have backed Tevez into a corner by delaying the offer so long that he may be forced into accepting soemthing he is not entirely happy with; hence the claim that the club have not made an offer to try and persuade him to stay.

Apparently Tevez is disappointed and thinks he will not be playing at the club after the summer, but after his crucial goal yesterday that help take Manchester United to within one point of the Premiership title, things may become a little clearer in the days to come.

Whatever the outcome it appears that Ferguson is seeing the advantage of playing the media game at any opportunity. With the Champions League final looming, he may want to have the whole affair settled by then so he has all his options available on the big day.

Mindgames Backfire on Ferguson
April 20, 2009, 3:05 pm
Filed under: FA Cup | Tags: , , , , ,

Alec Ferguson was left enraged again yesterday after his team were defeated on penalties by Everton in the FA Cup semi-final. The Manchester United manager has a long running history of troubles with referees with the Football Association repeatedly pursuing the manager about is conduct with regard to refereeing decisions against his team. Ferguson has also been in the press recently criticising Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez for an alleged disparaging taunt during a recent match when Liverpool defeated Blackburn Rovers easily. Ferguson seems quite happy to put up his deputies for post-match TV interviews but decides to appear in person when the agenda suits him.

Of course Ferguson is himself no stranger to using press interviews to play mind games with future opponents. Recently we noted his part in a run-in with Harry Redknapp prior to an earlier FA Cup game against Spurs when Redknapp was suggesting who he might put up to play against Ferguson’s team given his injury worries and poor league position. In the end Spurs lost the game and Manchester United went on to the semi-final stage while Spurs have gone on to recover their Premier League position and are even chasing a European competition place for next season. meanwhile Liverpool and Manchester United are almost locked to gether at the top of the league with six and seven games remaining respectively.

Prior to the semi-final Everton’s manager David Moyes made a comment about the match referee Mike Riley being a united fan. In the past Riley has been accused of making decisions biased towards United. Perhaps he should never have been selected to referee the game but he was and found himself in the hot seat when United had a strong claim for a penalty. When the penalty was not awarded Ferguson could be seen jumping around in rage on the side of the pitch and after the game accused the referee of being fearful of awarding it given the pre-match accusations. Had Moyes planted that seed in the ref’s mind?

Benitez has been known to heap praise on Chelsea in the past, saying he thinks it’s a fantastic club and he likes their style, so we may be set for some further rallies between the two managers in the run up to the FA Cup final in May.

Oh and Ferguson was also moaning about the state of the pitch at Wembley this weekend. I think that sums up his state of mind at the moment.

Redknapp courts Hipocrisy
January 26, 2009, 10:33 am
Filed under: FA Cup | Tags: , ,

After watching the FA Cup between Manchester United and Spurs on Saturday I was left with one thought – how Harry Redknapp had changed his spots. After commenting mid-week that he was placing the game down his priority list and would be fielding a below strength team ( and receiving plenty of criticism for those remarks) he turned up with a strong team and went all guns blazing for the win. Had it not been for an unfortunate two minute spell in the first half, Redknapp could well have got that win. In his comments after the game he even admitted that he thought his team was effectively always in contention right up to the end and could easily have earned a reply – but Harry didn’t want that replay did he? Alex Ferguson played no such shenanigans and fielded a very strong looking team – O’Shea, Vidic, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo, Berbatov and Tevez is a formidable line-up.

Manchester United have their own injury worries though with Rooney, Evra, Anderson, Evans, Rafael and now Welbeck and Fabio all injured. But such is their strength in depth that even this high number of casualties should not hamper them.

All these remarks about busy seasons and priorities have at least forced the FA to reconsider their rules for the FA Cup and I expect some radical changes to be brought in by next season. With both Liverpool and Everton now facing an unwanted replay, the FA must consider how to ensure ties in the latter stages of the competition ( when more premiership teams are likely to be involved) can be settled in just one game. Maybe even the semi-finals and final too – I’ve always found an FA Cup Final replay to be a bit of an anti-climax compared to the real deal.  Before long I certainly expect earlier FA Cup rounds to be using a short period of extra time, followed by penalties if required.

All this will limit the revenue-earning opportunities that some lower league clubs thrive on when presented with the chance of a replay (some would say that these clubs may even play for a replay at times ) but let’s be honest, the FA Cup is not about those one or two non-league clubs earning a lucky financial break. It’s about exciting competition with the big-name clubs providing thrilling and committed performances. If over-booked schedules and the worry of injuries and replays serve to prevent that, then the format needs to be resolved quickly.

The Darker side of Player Loans
January 23, 2009, 9:50 am
Filed under: Barclays Premiership, FA Cup | Tags: , , ,

The issue of player loans is not one that makes many headlines but recently there appears to have been more interest in the activity. West Brom manager Tony Mowbray has one person speaking openly and frequently about loan players, especially as his club appears to be in a precarious League position with huge squad injury worries to contend with.

The typical player’s ( and most likely public ) view of player loans is articulated by Gavin Strachan in his BBC blog and is seen as a means to give players without regular first team spots the chance to play competitive games with another club in the meantime.But is there more to this than meets the eye.

In one article Tony Mowbray mentions the willingness of higher ranked clubs to offer loan players to teams lower down their Leagues as a potential means of taking points away from their main competitors. By loaning a decent player to a club who subsequently achieves a draw against key opposition, the top teams can steal vital points away from their rivals.

That started to raise my suspicions of possible darker implications and I think the area needs closer scrutiny and monitoring by the FA Cup and League bodies. Perhaps an investigative journalist with an interest in the matter could undertake some thorough research into the area.

Consider Team A loaning a key player to Team J lower down the league. Team J then scrambles a draw against Team C, a key rival of Team A. Team J are glad of the extra point and Team A steal a two point march on Team B. Not the real objective of player loans but an expected consequence none the less. But what happens when Teams A and J play each other? Are there some conflicts of interest at play now.? No-one would expect Team J to put up much of a fight in normal circumstances anyway, but would the team managers concerned see further opportunities for co-operation?  Perhaps manager A would be allowed to field an under-strength squad, saving his top players, safe in the knowledge that Team J is not going to make his life too difficult. Makes you wonder doesn’t it. What we need is someone with time on their hands to go back over the results of previous seasons and drag together some statistics. It may make interesting reading.

Redknapp plays FA Cup Mind Games
January 22, 2009, 2:09 pm
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Does anybody really believe Harry Redknapp’s comments about writing-off his club’s FA Cup ambitions in preference for a focus on their League position? Granted, Spurs sit on equal bottom of the Premier League with four other clubs, but the season is only at the halfway stage and a club like Spurs have a lot of history to call on if the chips really are down nearer the end of the season. I reckon his comments are a tease to Manchester United, possibly goading them into leaving out a few of their top players for this weekend’s FA Cup game at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have their own full schedule and priorities to worry about, with a Carling Cup final to look forward to and a position at the top of the Premiership to defend.

Having tasted FA Cup victory with Portsmouth last year, surely Redknapp knows how a good run in the competition can inspire a team. Can he really afford to write that potential boost of success off at this stage of the season? His team selection for the weekend game will reveal whether he really is trying to pull the wool over Sir Alex Ferguson’s eyes.

Terry back for FA Cup
January 21, 2009, 4:23 pm
Filed under: FA Cup | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Just a week on from ending the run of Southend’s FA Cup run Chelsea are putting their final preparations together before hosting Ipswich Town at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Ipswich, currently 11th in the Championship, come to the The Bridge full of confidence after their 4-1 victory away at Crystal Palace. Chelsea’s captain, John Terry, was missing from training yesterday, apparently still receiving treatment for the back injury he picked up during the warm-upprior to last Saturday’s game at Stoke, but with Joe Cole out for the season, the return of Terry for the game on Saturday will be crucial. The winner of the game will discover their opponents in next round when the draw for the Fifth Round of the FA Cup is made at 6:15pm on Sunday evening following the big Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton.