Wednesday, 30 June 2010
As [Pepe] Reina recognised, "he might barely measure 1.50m but he has talent to die for". Former Liverpool winger Antonio Núñez declares him "among the most impressive footballers I've played with" – and Núñez played with the galácticos. El País says he has "a mine in his left foot", which might sound dangerous – especially for his left leg – but is a reflection of his talent, and there's temperament too: Silva is a tough, feisty little sod, Luis Aragonés insisting he has the "most balls" in the Spain squad, a former team-mate recalling the repeated kickings he took by cooing: "he just took it – he must have horchata [Valencia's cold milk drink] for blood." He certainly has mala leche, the bad milk Spaniards equate with fight...
Not bad for a footballer rejected by Madrid, who joined Valencia at 14 and was singled out as a special talent at 15 only to be dismissed as a "fútbol sala player" and a "myth" by one dressing-room heavyweight when he was promoted to the first-team squad. Not bad, above all, for a player starting his first match for four months on Saturday night; his first since the opening day; his first since overcoming the ankle injury that forced him into injections before every Euro 2008 game and an operation in September. It was, said Marca, "a blessed return". Silva had "arrived and kissed the saint", which might not have pleased Roger Moore but delighted Valencia's fans. The ones that bothered to turn up, anyway. "Silva," Marca insisted, "has changed Valencia's face". Victory, El País added, was "all thanks to Silva".
“The time is right for me to seek a new challenge, and I am thrilled about playing in England with Manchester City. I believe the Premier League is one of the best competitions in the world and I want to bring success to City and win trophies for them.""I want to say that I always hoped to come to Manchester City and I am excited about my future there. They are a club with a great future with fantastic players. I want to be an important player in Manchester City’s history."
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
'Besides the fact that I may be loaned to another team, this is a very important door that gets opened for my career, so I will have to start to take English lessons very soon.'This is a very important step forward in my career, everything has been arranged and according to what the (Boyaca Chico) president Eduardo Pimental has said to me, the transfer has been confirmed.'
The Barcelona website confirmed: "In case of Toure, [Barcelona Director General Joan] Oliver has recognised an understanding between the club interested in the midfielder, Manchester City, and Barca, but the transfer cannot be made official yet."
Monday, 28 June 2010
Friday, 25 June 2010
Thursday, 24 June 2010
"As has been said, there is interest from Manchester City and we have permitted them to talk to the player, but we have reached no agreement and we have not talked about a fee."
`We won't know where he is going this week because we're weighing up offers from three clubs and one of them is Chelsea. If Silva doesn't want to go (to City), the transfer isn't possible.'This suggests that Silva would not see a move to MCFC as the fulfilment of a life-long ambition. And understandably so. As much as I love Silva as a footballer, and would delight in seeing someone with his skill and wit in a City shirt, I don't really want us to sign players who are not enthusiastic about playing for the club. It didn't exactly work well with Robinho.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
It was a decent game, Paraguay were much the better side, and while Weiss had a nice touch or two Santa Cruz looked quite good. Not as freely mobile as we might hope but playing ninety minutes of a World Cup as an achievement in itself for him. He played the articulate pivot between the energy and movement of Nelson Valdez and Lucas Barrios - and looks set to play in the last sixteen.
Sunday, 20 June 2010
And Elano did very well. He was well involved in that right-inclined midfield position, as Brazil dominated possession against a fairly limited Ivory Coast side. Luis Fabiano put them two goals ahead, and Elano scored the third early in the second half - darting into the box, receiving a cross from Kaká and sweeping the ball past Boubacar Barry with his left foot. But just as Brazil were threatening to step up from excellent to glorious Chiock Tioté jumped onto Elano's shin, who was stretchered off. I am praying it's bruising rather than a break.
There was other City involvement too. Robinho played, and had a few good moments but never quite recovered from the shame of a selfish 35 yard shot in the second minute when he ought to have slid Fabiano in. There was a comic moment late in the second half when the game had descended into discord and drama: Robinho was fouled, went to ground writhing and rolling but on seeing that none of his team mates had surrounded his assailant he had to jump back up and take the throw in. And of course the Touré brothers, who might play together at City next year, did well enough in difficult circumstances.
Saturday, 19 June 2010
Given Japan's counter-attacking style, there was not much play for de Jong to break down but he made most of his tackles, and did so without risking ending anyone's career, which made a nice change. He could well be rested for Demy de Zeeuw or Stijn Schaars against Cameroon but will have a tougher job to do in the Last 16.
Playing just in front of the back four, Barry was excellent in the first half. He tracked runners from midfield, retained possession - allowing the full backs, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to get forward - and moved the ball forward quickly at times. He looked surprisingly comfortable. As it happened, no one playing in front of Barry managed to rise above the pathetic and so England put in their worst performance in years.
Barry should play against Slovenia, though it is unclear who will partner him in midfield.
Friday, 18 June 2010
Carlitos' work rate was typically impressive throughout, his high point was winning a free kick from the right that was headed in by Higuaín at the far post. He earlier hit a free kick just over the bar. Tévez was replaced by Sergio Agüero in the second half.
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Not a great man: not Alexander the Great, or Don Bradman, but nevertheless a character on the fringes of history. Someone involved in great events, but fundamentally a disruptor, a destroyer of movements and things. Think John Wilkes Booth, Gavrilo Princip. Today Gelson Fernandes fired a close range shot into what might have been - and what could still be - one of the finest international football teams of our lives.
People thought this morning that Vincente del Bosque's Spain side could pass their way to a World Cup, to accompany their European Championship of 2008. They passed very well today, but could not break through Switzerland's two lines of four. And when Fernandes chased down a long ball in the second half, he bundled past Iker Casillas and Gerard Piqué and scored a definitive goal. The Swiss held out, and this evening Gelson Fernandes has fired what might be a fatal shot into this promise-crammed Spain team. We don't know yet if he is their assassin, or just an assailant. But his name is in the history books for ever.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
This was not the easiest win for the Seleção against a very well regimented North Korean side. They defended in numbers, threw themselves in front of everything in the vox and kept them out for the whole first half. Elano, willing to shoot from range, posed a threat, as did Robinho's quick footwork at times.
But the breakthrough came with help from Elano. Early in the second half he slid Maicon on the overlap, who reached the byline and shot with the outside of his right boot, angling the ball with ferocity behind the keeper and in. I think he meant it.
An assist for Elano was good. But his goal was even better. Robinho, growing in confidence, picked the ball up and played the perfect pass between defenders, Elano strolled on to meet it and casually placed it into the bottom corner. It was a goal of almost insulting ease, and reminded me just how much I missed them. Elano especially. Since he went I've missed him like a dead pet. I'm more keen for him to succeed in South Africa than any other individual.
After a goal and an assist in his first game, I'm dreaming he can keep this up into the final.
Monday, 14 June 2010
He started alongside Mark van Bommel in Holland's 4-2-3-1. It was an easy start - Denmark, playing a cautious and counter-attacking 4-1-4-1 had very little play for de Jong to break down. He made a few tackles, used the ball neatly but had a quiet afternoon in store.
But after half an hour he jumped into a two footed tackle on Martin Jorgensen. It ought to have been a straight red card. He subsequently got a yellow but it was not a redress of football justice. These tackles are getting increasingly indefensible. I know tough tackling is the point of Nigel de Jong and that mistakes can happen but there is no avoiding the fact that he chooses the malicious option more often than he ought to. I suppose when he broke Stuart Holden's leg in an international friendly the scales fell from my eyes. It's not what I like to see.
Anyway, de Jong was instrumental in Holland's opening goal. Just after half time he played a perfectly weighted ball through to Robin van Persie, who got to the byline and crossed - Simon Poulsen headed into Daniel Agger's back and Holland were ahead.
De Jong came off with six minutes left for his lookalike and understudy Demy de Zeeuw. Holland won 2-0.
Sunday, 13 June 2010
As I remember, Samaras made one galloping run down the left from which nothing resulted. And that's about it. Of the ten teams to play so far, Greece have been by a distance the worst.
Milner was chosen to start on the left of midfield, but after struggling with a virus all week he looked some way off the pace of the game. He arrived at three or four tackles a week late and was booked. The situation was unsustainable, and Wright-Phillips' energy and diligence was preferred to Joe Cole's wit down the left. Shaun got on the ball a fair bit, linking well with Ashley Cole and once putting him through to the byline. His big moment came when Wayne Rooney slid him into a good goalscoring position. He decided to open out his body and try to curl it past Howard, which was surprising given his natural instinct there is to go hard and high at the near post. The ball went straight to Howard.
It was great to see Shaun playing, and he did quite well, but that was probably our second best chance of the second half. I imagine when Gareth Barry plays against Algeria then Steven Gerrard will move to the left and Shaun will be benched.
England drew the game 1-1.
He did this fairly well, as Argentina started brightly and created chances, going 1-0 up through Gabriel Heinze. But as the game went on Argentina seemed to lose some of their coherence, and the chances they did create owed more to Messi's individual brilliance than any cohesive team play. As Veron tired Tévez started to drop deep and centrally, as he does for City, to create chances. He put one perfect ball through to Higuaín in the channel inside the left back, but the shot was saved. And later on he carried the ball in a four on two break but put Messi in when Ángel di María might have been a better option.
But it was a decent game from Carlos and a fine attacking performance from Argentina. They face a fiercer test from South Korea on Johannesburg on Thursday lunch time.
MCFC Academy Graduate Dickson Etuhu played in midfield for Nigeria, and couldn't lay a finger on Messi.
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
“Any footballer in the world would love to play for a club like Barca," De Souza said. “The relationship between Robinho and the board at Manchester City is very good, although it's true that there are some problems with the coach, Roberto Mancini.
"We have a meeting with City on the 16th. I will travel to Manchester with Gilvan de Souza (Robinho's father) and we will look at the situation with Robinho. "We know that City are looking for a club for Robinho. There will be no quotes (from Robinho, at the moment). Robinho is focused on winning the World Cup."
"Everything has changed with City, because they talk a lot but then afterwards they don't appear to be a rich club but rather a bankrupt one."
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Monday, 7 June 2010
Sunday, 6 June 2010
I am excited. Boateng comes with a good reputation, and his inclusion in the German World Cup squad is testament to that. He can play centre-back and right-back, both positions where we need both cover and improvement. I don't know what our first choice centre-back pairing will be this year: it ought to be Vincent Kompany plus one, and even if we do not pair both HSV old boys our Europa League campaign will ensure he gets a good number of games.
If he's similar to our other two players we plucked from the Nordbank Arena, then he'll do well. Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany have so raised the standard of quality, competitiveness and professionalism throughout the squad; another product from the same mold would be ideal.
Most intriguing, though, is the hope that he becomes an archetype for the summer of spending. After Mark Hughes' decision last summer to buy expensive experienced established Premier League players, this would be a major departure. With Boateng we are going for a different type of player: young (Boateng is only 21), playing outside the Premier League, with hunger and ambition, to move to an upwardly-mobile club in the EPL.
I am an evangelist for this approach. When Chelsea were doing a similar thing around 2004 that was their transfer approach: 20 year old Arjen Robben from PSV, 22 year old Petr Čech from Rennes, 22 year old Michael Essien from Lyon, the late-developing 26 year old Didier Drogba from Marseilles. And look where that got them. It was only when they went for the lazy millionaires: Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack that they stopped winning the league. Our approach should be to imitate this. Of course, the money we will pay Boateng is a big factor. But we need players who are hungry, ambitious, keen to prove themselves in England and play a part in our progress. I'm afraid this does not apply to Emmanuel Adebayor, Gareth Barry and Kolo Touré, and it shows. This is the Boateng plan, it's the right plan and I hope it continues. (Although for all my talk of Boateng as the archetype all of this applies to Adam Johnson, another Brian Marwood signing and a very ambitious player.) Next stop: Edin Džeko.
Friday, 4 June 2010
'If everything goes well, Yaya will go to England,' Seluk told Spanish radio station, Ona FM.
'But we can't talk about definite clubs. We already have a closed deal, and all will be resolved before the World Cup.'
Thursday, 3 June 2010
"I am going to sign before leaving for the World Cup and the deal will be completed. It has been decided that I am moving there."Like our other HSV old boys Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany, Boateng is strikingly assured and confident:
"He [Roberto Mancini] came with two representatives to Hamburg and we chatted for one or two hours. He convinced me to make the transfer. He believes that I will definitely need a few months to get settled in once in England, but that he sees so much potential in me that he will improve me. Even if many people say I am going to struggle to make the breakthrough, I am confident that I will. I am not afraid of anybody."I imagine we'll see him at Eastlands today or tomorrow.
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
But this did not quite fit with what we knew. We had heard that City were keen on Džeko, but that we were relaxed about letting the clause expire so that we could freely negotiate a see with his club. We would not have done this were we not sufficiently confident of striking a deal. That is, if we were not sure that Džeko wanted to come to City, we would not have put ourselves in a position where the club had the chance to say no. Surely there was something else to this, another card in our hand?
"The conditions have not been met.
"We are very pleased that the period of uncertainty is over. He is a player of huge quality who would have been very difficult for us to replace."
So it is a relief but not surprise to read that deal is still alive. A Daily Mail exclusive on Wednesday says this:
Wolfsburg manager Steve McClaren will be disappointed with Dzeko's departure but will have a decent transfer kitty to launch his assault on the transfer market.
General manager Dieter Hoeness had earlier expressed delight that Dzeko was staying.
However, City's money in the end looks to have persuaded Wolfsburg it was too good an opportunity to turn down, regardless of timing.