as great as we are, we tipsters gotta eat too

Saturday, December 12, 2009


fulham are in good form, while burnley are slowly finding out that life in the top flight isn't exactly a bed of roses. i can't see burnley getting the 3 points here, and the best they can hope for is perhaps a draw.

Eddy's prediction: $10 on fulham or draw @ 1.44 = $14.40


aston villa have had a wretched record in games against manchester united, and last season's comeback win for united showed just how difficult it is for aston villa to even achieve a draw. however, last season's match was slightly different. manyoo's defence suffered despite being at full strength, and of course, there was cristiano ronaldo. villa play a competent counter-attacking game, and i think they should cause problems for united, who are undergoing a terrible defensive crisis. the one-goal handicap looks like a good one to take, as i don't see villa being beaten by two goals.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on aston villa +1 @ 2.075 = $10.38

Saturday, November 7, 2009


another no-brainer. manchester city to win. once again, the margin of victory is hard to predict, but manchester city will definitely pick up all 3 points at home after a streak of draws.

Eddy's prediction: $10 on manchester city @ 1.33 = $13.30


i think this one's a no-brainer. arsenal to win. not sure if they can clear the handicap, but surely a win is almost certain.

Eddy's prediction: $10 on arsenal @ 1.36 = $13.60

Saturday, October 31, 2009


so here's a little multiplier for you punters out there to try.

arsenal vs tottenham (arsenal or draw @ 1.11)
fulham vs liverpool (fulham +1.5 @ 1.20)
manchester united vs blackburn (blackburn +3 @ 1.18)
portsmouth vs wigan (portsmouth +0.5/1 @ 1.19)
stoke vs wolverhampton (stoke or draw @ 1.20)

Eddy's prediction: $5 on above multiplier @ 2.24 = $11.22


i reckon hull will be able to hold on for a draw, and jimmy bullard will probably feature and that's good news for hull, who are lacking inspiration at the moment.

roland's prediction: $5 on hull +0.5 @ 1.96 = $9.80

i agree with roland that hull should be able to hold on for a draw, against a burnley team whose bubble has well and truly burst, which is no surprise really. they are a very average side, and this is a battle between two teams that are surely gonna be relegated at the end of the season. however, i'll err on the side of caution, and go with a higher handicap, in case bullard doesn't play.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on hull +1 @ 1.405 = $7.03


manyoo turned in one of their worst performances of the season against a depleted liverpool side last week, and deservedly emerged from the game with nothing in the bag. good news for them then, that the very next week, they face a blackburn team that was also smacked 5-0 by chelsea last week. on paper, this is a sure-win for united, but i don't think it's as clear-cut as that. manyoo will be missing vidic, ferdinand, neville and giggs, and that leaves them looking rather depleted, especially at the back. blackburn, on the other hand, welcome back david dunn from his virus, and i think he will cause some problems for united. i definitely do not see blackburn getting thumped, and as such, a 2-goal handicap is fantastic.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on blackburn +2 @ 1.875 = $9.38

bets this week

sorry for the inactivity - been really busy!

hull city +0.5 @ 1.96
i reckon hull will be able to hold on for a draw, and jimmy bullard will probably feature and that's good news for hull, who are lacking inspiration at the moment.

stoke city -0.5 @ 1.94
after a trashing from portsmouth in midweek, i think stoke will bounce back with a win at the britannia where they are very strong.

sunderland -0.5 @ 2.06
sunderland looks good value because of their injury problems, but whether or not darren bent plays doesn't matter because kenwyne jones has also chipped in his fair share of goals, with only 2 less than bent. west ham have lacked cutting edge this season and i don't think they'll find their form in time for this match.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


this is the big one. the fixture both sets of fans marked out on their calendars at the start of the season. liverpool come into this one after 4 consecutive losses, and can ill afford another. manchester united are in good form coming into this match at anfield, but this is exactly the sort of match where the form-book goes right out the window. liverpool will be desperate to avoid that 5th loss in a row, which would definitely mean goodbye to the title this year, and with home advantage, i can't see how liverpool will lose this match. whether gerrard or torres plays doesn't matter, the players will dig in to ensure at least a draw, so level ball should be safe.

Eddy's prediction: $10 on liverpool level ball @ 2.20 = $22.00

Friday, October 16, 2009


blackburn suffered a humiliating 6-2 defeat last time out at the emirates stadium, but they were unlucky in that they had both christopher samba and ryan nelsen out for that game, which meant that their defence was terribly makeshift. this time round, both of them are back, and i think blackburn can bounce back successfully from that horrible defeat, and thump burnley at ewood park.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on blackburn -0.5 @ 1.75 = $8.75


here's a little multiplier you might wanna consider for the weekend.

arsenal v birmingham (arsenal win @ 1.16)
sunderland v liverpool (sunderland +1.5 @ 1.18)
everton v wolves (everton win or draw @ 1.10)
aston villa v chelsea (chelsea win or draw @ 1.16)
blackburn v burnley (blackburn +0.5 @ 1.15)

Eddy's prediction: $5 on above multiplier @ 2.00 = $10.00

Saturday, October 3, 2009


everton will be high in confidence after a superb display against BATE borisov during the midweek europa league clash. saha has been on form and he was rested and will be raring to go against stoke, who have found it difficult on their travels and have never won so far, and have scored only 4 goals in 7 games so far. bilyaletdinov looks like a great acquisition and pienaar's absence won't be felt, hell, no one even remembers arteta is missing out for everton. that's how good they are right now, and they will only get better. everton to win.

roland's prediction: $5 on everton win @ 1.50 = $7.50


spurs are having a great run, bouncing back from successive defeats against man utd and chelsea with 10 goals in the last 2 matches. bolton, who have been traditionally hard to beat at home, have surprisingly not won and i don't think they will be able to. bassong has proved to be a fine addition and harry redknapp has found a good balance to the team, and with robbie keane being able to bag 4 goals, you know that the team is on form. go for a spurs win, as i don't think bolton will be able to contain lennon and defoe.

roland's prediction: $5 on Spurs -0.5 @ 1.980 = $9.90

Friday, October 2, 2009


after last week's success, here's a little multiplier you might wanna consider laying down a couple of bucks on.

hull v wigan (hull +1 @ 1.18)
burnley v birmingham (birmingham +1 @ 1.24)
chelsea v liverpool (chelsea +0.5/1 @ 1.13)
wolves v portsmouth (portsmouth +1.5 @ 1.18)

Eddy's prediction: $5 on above multiplier @ 1.95 = $9.75

RESULT: $5 became $7.87, because birmingham was voided (score 2-1)


manyoo are bang on form, having won their last god-knows-how-many games. they have won playing well, and they have won playing poorly, so the momentum is definitely with them. in a home game against steve bruce's sunderland, one would once again expect bruce, a fergie old boy, to do his former boss a favour, and lose this one. he has done it in the past, with wigan, and i think he'll do it again. however, an interesting point to note is that, it has never been a spanking for steve bruce's team. i suspect this is because the respect goes the other way as well, and fergie doesn't wanna humiliate his former players. as such, i'm going for sunderland on a good handicap, just in case they perform really well, and actually succeed in holding united.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on Sunderland +2 @ 1.60 = $8.00 (from bet365)


10th-ranked gilles simon is the favourite heading into this match, and i think that is a fair reflection. while gilles simon tends to choke once a tournament heads into the business end, his opponent this time is 44th-ranked jurgen melzer, who has had a terribly easy route so far. i fancy gilles simon to progress to the final this time, as his past 3 losses have come to players far more established than melzer, such as tsonga, djokovic, and ferrero.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on gilles simon to beat jurgen melzer @ 1.53 = $7.65

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FIORENTINA vs LIVERPOOL (Champions League)

Liverpool are without their injured Mascherano, who has been an immense figure in their midfield with the absence of Xavi Alonso. His absence will greatly impair Liverpool's ability. Furthermore, Liverpool have a crucial match at Stamford Bridge over the weekend, and another loss will cut them much further adrift from the title chase, so I think Rafa will be resting key players and playing fringe ones. As Liverpool have the weakest bench amongst the big 4, I don't think they can get a result from this game. Fiorentina have been showing very good performances at home and have won every single game so far, so I think backing Fiorentina for this game is the right choice.

Roland's prediction: $5 on Fiorentina +0.5 @ 1.960 = $9.80

Saturday, September 26, 2009


so here's a little multiplier you might wanna consider laying down a couple of bucks on.

fulham v arsenal (arsenal level ball @ 1.18)
liverpool v hull (liverpool win @ 1.14)
blackburn v aston villa (blackburn +1 @ 1.195)
sunderland v wolves (sunderland level ball @ 1.25)
stoke v manchester united (stoke +2 @ 1.28)

Eddy's prediction: $5 on above multiplier @ 2.57 = $12.85

RESULT: $5 became $10.05, because stoke was voided (score 0-2)


aston villa have a bit of a crisis going on in central midfield, with sidwell ruled out of this game. that leaves martin o'neill to count on either fabian delph (severely out of his depth in the premier league), or a very unhappy nigel reo-coker to partner stilian petrov in midfield. you don't need to be a genius to figure out that villa will struggle in midfield in this match. you will perhaps remember the last time they left sidwell out of the side, they played terribly and lost to wigan on the opening day. since then, they have won all their matches, but this sort of run has to stop somewhere, and i don't see allardyce losing yet another game.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on blackburn +0/0.5 @ 1.825 = $9.13 (from bet365)

Friday, September 18, 2009


Burnley are actually a very weak squad, and they only beat Man Utd and Everton due to their promotion high and their home support. Their back to back losses against Chelsea and Liverpool, conceding 7 goals in the process, should have knocked the wind out of their sails. While Burnley are at home and will be tough to beat, I think they will be more courageous when facing Sunderland, leaving more holes in the defence to be exploited by the awesome partnership of Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones.

Roland's prediction: $5 on Sunderland level ball @ 1.82 = $9.10

i totally agree with my fellow tipster, roland. i definitely do not see sunderland losing this one, so level ball is a fantastic bet to take. with darren bent in imperious form, the burnley defence, which isn't exactly mobile, will probably have a day to forget. also, burnley like to pass the ball around, but with cattermole and cana around, they're gonna find very little time on the ball, as the pair of them are INSANE.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on Sunderland level ball @ 1.82 = $9.10


Villa have overcome a bad start to their EPL campaign, notching 3 tough wins in succession against Liverpool away from home, Fulham, and their derby match against Birmingham City. Them being knocked out of Europe means that Martin O'Neill has a strengthened squad to concentrate on the league alone. The new partnership of Dunne and Collins have strengthened the back line immensely and I don't see how Aston Villa will drop points in this game, seeing as how Pompey are still collapsing quickly.

Roland's prediction: $5 on Aston Villa -1/1.5 @ 1.88 = $9.40

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Blackburn will welcome Ryan Nelsen back, who is an inspirational figure to the team with his tenacity and never-say-die attitude. 1 point from 3 games is definitely not enough for Big Sam's team and, while their striking options are pretty limited, they will be up against Mancienne who is still learning the ropes at the top level of English football. I think the strength and experience of either Jason Roberts or Benni McCarthy will prove crucial in exploiting the Wolves defence and Blackburn will post their first win of the season.

Roland's prediction: $5 on Blackburn -0.5 @ 1.870 = $9.35


i think this is one of the clearest bets of the week. arsenal just lost two weeks ago, even though they played very well, while manchester city has been getting the results without looking very convincing. the thing about such unconvincing runs is that they have to end sometimes, and as such, i fancy arsenal on the level ball.

Eddy's Prediction: $10 on arsenal level ball @ 1.825 = $18.25

Agree with Eddy. Arsenal won't lose twice in a row, and while they aren't exactly king of comebacks from setbacks (the 2-1 loss to United), they will be facing a Bellamy-led City attack, which isn't the best that City can offer. City's strength has been their lack of goals conceded, but Arsenal is a team that can carve openings out of nothing and I expect Arsenal to at least draw, or win this one.

Roland's Prediction: $5 on Arsenal level ball @ 1.800 = $9.00

Saturday, August 29, 2009


this is the big one. arsenal have been in good form since the start of the season, while manchester united have looked far from convincing, struggling for victory against birmingham, losing shamefully to burnley, and then looking totally toothless for one half against a poor wigan side. it is a tough one to predict, as both sides have their qualities, but i just feel that arsenal will not be thrashed as comprehensively as they were in the champions league last season. being at home, manchester united have a very good chance of winning this, despite being without rio ferdinand. i fancy arsenal to not lose though, as i just think manchester united's older legs will struggle to compete with the youthful exuberance of arsenal's play.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on arsenal +0.5 @ 1.715 = $8.58 (from bet365)


As a Man Utd fan, I am very tempted to place a bet on Bolton Wanderers as I hope Liverpool will lose 3 games in their first 4, but I doubt that will happen. Bolton have not been convincing in terms of finishing and I don't think they will be able to trouble Liverpool. Liverpool do have a very good record against Bolton, be it at the Reebok or at Anfield, and they seem to always score aplenty, so I think I will score when I place this bet on Liverpool. After all, they can't be THAT bad, right?

Roland's tip: $5 on Liverpool -1 @ 1.950 = $9.75

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Hull City started the season promisingly enough, showing lots of spirit in an unlucky 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. A large part of the performance was due to Stephen Hunt having a big impact on the side, and having scored both of Hull's goals already this season, Phil Brown can be reasonably pleased that his new signing has made an impact. However, tonight will be the first time Hunt comes up against a proper right-back in Gretar Steinsson, and i predict that he will have a tough time against one of the league's best old-fashioned right-backs. Bolton, despite their poor performance against Sunderland, do have a good set of hardworking players, and I fancy this to be enough to at least grab a point against a Hull City side that looks set for the drop this season.

Eddy's prediction: $5 on Bolton +0.5 @ 1.53 = $7.65


Well, everyone thinks that Manchester United are now suddenly an ordinary club with no ambition and no title winning credentials after their shock 1-0 loss to Burnley. Which is why this bet is so hard to resist. I don't think that Manchester United will drop points two games in a row, however notoriously slow to start the season they are. A 1 goal win will even the handicap, which is good anyway because no money is lost, and any more means a great return of 2.07. I fancy United to win anyway, because the Serbinator is back.

Roland's tip: $5 on Manchester United -1 @ 2.07 = $10.35


Bad news for West Ham - Herita Ilunga is out for this match, which means that Jonathan Spector has to step in to cover at left back. I see him getting skinned many times by Aaron Lennon (good fantasy football pick I think!) and Spurs will win this match. Spurs finally look like the contenders that everyone thought they were when Martin Jol brought them to 5th for two consecutive seasons. After a nightmare with Juande Ramos, Harry Redknapp has rejuvenated them (also oweing to a huge transfer budget) and they look like a very strong side on their day. Bassong looks to have strengthened the Spurs defence and with Ledley King's return, I think Spurs can win this, especially when key men for West Ham like Behrami and Ashton are still out injured.

Roland's tip: $5 on Tottenham -0/0.5 @ 2.025 = $10.12

Friday, August 21, 2009


Sunderland will look to pick themselves up after getting beaten at home 1-3 by Chelsea, and they face considerably weaker opponents this time. Sunderland have a very solid side as they have a very strong midfield with Cana and Cattermole, which will dominate an injury-ridden Blackburn midfield that is missing Reid, Dunn and Emerton. I see Sunderland picking up 3 points here, even though they may have played a midweek game and be slightly fatigued, as it is at the stadium of light and Sunderland are very strong at home.

Roland's tip: $5 on Sunderland -0/0.5 @ 1.825 = $9.12

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Birmingham put up a very gutsy performance over the weekend against Manchester United, and I think this match will spark off another good performance from the blues at St Andrews. Christian Benitez looks likely to start and he showed off his pace on a couple of occasions, and he will definitely trouble a less than mobile Pompey defence. Pompey, on the other hand, turned in a lacklustre performance at Fratton Park - although admittedly they did create chances, but poor finishing let them down - and I don't see them getting anything out of this match. I fancy Birmingham to win this one.

Roland's tip: $5 on Birmingham -0/0.5 @ 1.775 = $8.87

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I am a Manchester United fan and you should take this tip with a pinch of salt because my opinions will be biased.

United will win their 4th consecutive EPL title to ensure a record-breaking season, and will do this in style. While they do have cause for worry at the back with EVDS, Vidic, Rafael, Neville, Evans out, I doubt Birmingham will trouble the defence much because they will hardly get possession anyway. It's just like how Barcelona don't have top quality, world class defenders, but the sheer amount of possession they keep is a part of their defence, and expect to see that from Man Utd today. Alex Ferguson said that 3 months of anger will be unleashed on Birmingham City, and in front of Stretford End, I see lots of goals coming into this match.

Roland's tip: $5 on Man Utd -1.5/2 @ 1.925 = $9.625


Wolves have a very strong squad this season and I definitely think they will be able to survive if their key players do not get injured. However, for this match, Chris Berra, Kevin Doyle, Iwulemo and Michael Kightly are all out. West Ham are also similarly injury-ravaged with Carlton Cole being their only fit striker, which means that they will be packing the midfield and probably play Luis Jimenez in a slightly advanced position. I think Wolves will definitely dominate the match, but West Ham are very well-drilled and will be able to cope.

Roland's tip: $5 on West Ham level ball @ 2.00 = $10.00


Bolton definitely have strengthened their backline with the loan of Paul Robinson and the signings of Sam Ricketts and Zat Knight. They've also added grit to their midfield with the signing of Sean Davis from Portsmouth. However, they have not addressed their most crucial problem that was plagueing them the previous season - attack. Hardly a side that scores goals, with Elmander only finding the net 5 times last season, I doubt Bolton can score against Sunderland, who sport a new look under new manager Steve Bruce. Lee Cattermole (who Steve Bruce will sign 5 times if possible) and Lorik Cana will marshall the midfield to great effect (they are very tenacious and aggressive holding midfielders) and a strike force of Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones just looks mouth-watering. Expect Sunderland to take the fight to Bolton, and I don't think Bolton will be able to cope with Sunderland, who will be looking to please their new manager and fight for places.

Roland's tip: $5 on Sunderland +0/0.5 @ 1.910 = $9.55

I have to agree with Roland here. Sunderland look very strong, and Steve Bruce has shown in the past few seasons with Wigan, that he is a very accomplished manager. In Cattermole and Cana, Sunderland boast the most destructive midfield seen in the league since Phil Neville was paired with Roy Keane whenever United played Arsenal. Darren Bent is a proven goal-scorer as well, and I think Sunderland shouldn't lose tonight against Bolton.

Eddy's tip: $5 on Sunderland +0.5 @ 1.62 = $8.10 (from bet365)


Well.. I'm BACK!! All pumped up for this next season. And hopefully, I'll be spot on and we'll be making money!

Portsmouth have lost a lot of their big name players since last season - Defoe, Sol Campbell, Crouch, and Sean Davis. Replacing their losses are Frederic Piquionne on loan from Lyon (68 goals in 235 games, hardly a terrifying statistic, no?), Steve Finnan (over the hill, but still a decent defender), Aaron Mokoena (hardly played for Blackburn, and only gave fouls away) and Anthony Vanden Borre. I don't think Portsmouth have a good enough squad to cope right away, and they will also need time to gel. Fulham have, on the other hand, kept their entire starting lineup the same (which finished 7th last season) and are definitely high on confidence as they have been scoring bucketloads of goals in their pre-season preparations. I think Fulham is a safe bet for this match, and they will at least draw this, or even win it.

Roland's tip: $5 on Fulham level ball @ 1.950 = $9.75

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Know Arsenal Won't Buy Him, But Still I Will Suggest: Christopher Samba

another article i wrote on bleacher report

I was invited to write an article as part of the series created by Deepak Israni, and as soon as I agreed to write the article, the first name that popped into my mind was Christopher Samba, the giant Blackburn defender.

Christopher Samba: Fact-File

  • Age: 25
  • Position: Centre-back / Emergency Striker
  • Current Club: Blackburn
  • National Team: Congo
  • Species: Monster

Christopher Samba is a brute of a defender, whose sole aim in life is to leave opposition strikers begging for mercy when they play against him.

Standing at 2.87 metres tall and bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his "Terminator" days, he is so tough that even regular bullies like Kevin Davies and Emile Heskey have been reported to have crapped in their pants at the mention of his name.

It has also often been rumoured that the real reason for Duncan Ferguson's retirement and Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Spain was to avoid Christopher Samba.

His influence is not just limited to England.

It is so great that even the regular "Samba boys" from Brazil, have re-invented their playing style and are now focusing on heading, tackling and leaving strikers crumpled on the floor.

All this, just so they can live up to the great name of "Samba".

Alright, enough of the exaggeration.

His real height is 1.93m, and while that is already rather tall, he complements it with good timing, and also a fantastic desire to get to the ball ahead of the striker. His strength in the air, is frankly quite astounding, and all these attributes mean that he is an absolute monster.

And what does Arsenal need? Yes, an absolute monster in the air.

Arsene Wenger conceded that William Gallas and Kolo Toure did not form a good defensive partnership, not because they are poor defenders, but because they simply lacked aerial presence.

If Arsenal signed Samba, he could be paired with a pacy defender like Kolo Toure, to form a fantastic defensive partnership in the mould of Vidic and Ferdinand, or Skrtel and Carragher.

Christopher Samba to Arsenal: Pros and Cons


  • Good timing in the tackle
  • Massive presence in the air
  • Great determination to beat the striker to the ball
  • Great determination to beat the striker
  • Very professional, willing to play emergency striker when Allardyce called for it
  • Plays for Blackburn, so would be relatively easier to tempt him over to the Emirates
  • Monstrous


  • Can be a little slow on the turn
  • Can't pass to save his life
  • Might accidentally flatten Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela during training
  • Might scare Manuel Almunia


Christopher Samba is the answer to Arsenal's defensive problems. Big and strong, he would ensure that Arsenal fans will not see a game like the ones against Stoke and Wigan again. His continued presence in the league will also cause more and more stars to leave English shores, meaning Arsenal's opponents in the league will be weakened. He should definitely be snapped up by Arsene Wenger, although as mentioned in the title, "I know Arsenal won't buy him".


Saturday, July 11, 2009

United's Key Weakness Now: Set Pieces

Another BR article.

Enough has been said about how United will revert to the traditional 4-4-2, how Rooney won't be forced out of position, how United's strikers will start playing more centrally and be more direct.

So far, United have signed 3 players - a proven finisher in Owen, a raw talent in Obertan and a pacey traditional winger in Valencia. These signings were made to replenish the squad, after the loss of Ronaldo to Real Madrid and Tevez, most likely to Manchester City.

It is evident that the current United squad will not be as threatening at set pieces as they used to be.

The departures of Ronaldo and Tevez means that United have lost their proven direct free-kick takers.

I have always maintained that Ronaldo's free-kick have a similar conversion rate to Beckham's. True, Beckham's free-kicks look much more elegant, curling towards a corner, but they are often palmed away for a corner by goalkeepers.

Ronaldo's free-kick comprises of pure pace, power and venom. So what if it hits the wall half the time? Once it's on target, it will either be too powerful for the goalkeeper to save, or he will fist it into the path of one of United's lurking strikers.

Tevez is also a proven free-kick taker. Having taken a few for West Ham, before going down the pecking order after signing for United. He has scored some wonderful free-kicks over the years.

This threat from direct free-kicks will be sorely missed. Who are the other free-kick takers in United, you ask?

Hargreaves is a proven free-kick taker, but he is most effective when closer to goal. You won't see him taking free-kicks 40 yards away from goal. Also, his fitness is a very big question, and it's highly unlikely that he will feature in every match like Ronaldo did.

Giggs hasn't had a good free-kick in months, and with the amount of rotation that Ferguson will have for him, it is very unlikely that Giggs will always be there to take the free-kicks.

Wayne Rooney might be a good free-kick taker, as he did score a beautiful one on his debut against Fenerbache, but it's too early to tell.

I do know that Fabio has a great left foot and is also lethal from the dead ball situation as well, but he won't get to play much as Evra is such a complete left back.

In all, there are many contenders for Ronaldo's position as the free-kick taker, but only Rooney stands the greatest chance of being played every game, and hopefully his free-kick taking is up to par.

Another big loss would be Ronaldo's ability in the air. Without him, United's only proven goal threats from indirect free-kicks and corners are Vidic and Ferdinand.

Berbatov may be tall, at 1.88m, but he does not contain the aggression in the air that Vidic and Ronaldo bring. He does not have the spring in his legs that can elevate him sufficiently to head the ball cleanly. This is evident in his debut season, where Berbatov missed many clear headers and put them over the bar.

Ferdinand is hardly a dominant attacking force in the air. Having scored a paltry 6 goals in 208 games in the EPL for United, he definitely ranks below the likes of Hyypia, who has gotten 22 in 317 appearances for Liverpool.

Vidic is the only clear threat that is left in United from IFKs and corners. He is United's best chance of getting goals from these set pieces with the departure of Ronaldo.

Perhaps Manucho might be a possibility, but what chances does he have of starting ahead of Rooney, Berbatov and Owen?

What is clear to see is that the signings made will not be able to replace the set piece void that Ronaldo has left in the team.

Owen is a great finisher, but he does not have the height to compete in the air. Valencia is not known for his heading prowess, and Obertan may be 1 cm taller than Ronaldo, but he definitely does not look as athletic as Ronaldo is. Maybe, in time, Obertan can be groomed to be like Ronaldo. However, right now, its clear that there are no strong headers of the ball in the team.

Perhaps the mantra of the next season will be efficiency. Efficiency in putting away chances; efficiency in open play.

Because it is clear that United's current weakness is their strength at set pieces.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why Michael Owen Is Right for Manchester United

MIDDLESBROUGH, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 29: Michael Owen of Newcastle United looks on through the fog during the Barclays Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Newcastle United at the Riverside Stadium on November 29, 2008 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

In the biggest surprise of the transfer season, Michael Owen is set to join Manchester United on a free transfer.

Having miraculously passed an initial medical on his knee and arrived at the training ground at Carrington, it seems like this isn't just a rumour.

Yes, Owen looks set to join United with a pay-as-you-play deal.

Many fans would scream in outrage, thinking that he would be a waste of space in the squad and would not be able to contribute much to the team.

Many people would claim that signing Owen is just like re-signing Louis Saha. He'll be perpetually injured, and just when he's getting a regular run of games, he'll get injured again.

Their claims are not unfounded. Over the past four seasons, he has made a meagre 58 Premier League starts due to his injury record. That is the number of appearances a first team player can make at United in just one season.

True, he has lost a yard of pace. True, he hasn't exactly set the Premier League alight at Newcastle. Who expects it from him, though, in a team that had no continuity and had many off the pitch problems?

Then there are those who will claim that he is unable to replace Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo. I agree, he definitely cannot replace the two. However, is he supposed to?

Owen brings with him guile and a lethal finish. He isn't as fast as he used to be, but get the ball into the box at his feet, and he will finish it off for you.

Tevez did bring energy to the team, but he was never a clinical finisher; 19 goals in 63 games for United is not a good record. In fact, Owen's scoring record at Newcastle is better than Tevez's, with 26 in 71.

Ronaldo is an irreplaceable player, so comparing Owen to him would be ludicrous. You don't compare the world player of the year to a player who has been dogged by injuries and an inconsistent run of games.

However, Owen has a point to prove next season, as it will probably be his last chance to get to the World Cup. He will be hungry, and he will be at his sharpest again.

A pay-as-you-play deal means that he won't be earning while sitting on the bench. Owen will need to perform, and he will, especially with the service that he will get from United's team.

Remember that Ferguson has done this before. He signed Teddy Sheringham when he was at a ripe old age of 31, and Sheringham contributed many crucial goals (31) in over 100 appearances, many coming off the bench. The most important was the last minute equaliser and then his deft flick-on onto Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's boots for the winner in the 1998-1999 Champions League final.

With Owen, United get a player who is willing to sit on the bench and come on after 60 minutes when the opposition defence is tired, or to come on to play off the shoulder of the defender when you need goals.

For a free transfer, this might be the shrewdest signing Ferguson has made this season, and he can use the 80 million pounds to capture players while already knowing that some of the scoring burden has been taken off Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov.

It promises to be very exciting indeed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Three Transfers Road to Improvement: Hull City

another article i wrote on bleacher report

In the 17th part of my "Three Transfers" series, I take a look at Hull City, a team that started the season so well that a wretched run towards the end of the season still managed to keep them up.

Of course, Newcastle and Middlesbrough playing like they wanted to go down helped Hull's cause, but however it happened, what is important now is that Hull City have another season in the top flight to look forward to.

However, I think it has to be said that the current team, if left unstrengthened, will be around or inside the relegation spots again next season. As such, I think it is crucial that the Tigers strengthen for next season, and my suggestions for Phil Brown to mull over are as follows:


Hull City were one of the lowest scorers last season, managing only 39 goals for the entire campaign.

That Marlon King, who only spent half a season there, is the second-highest scorer with 5 goals, and Michael Turner, a defender, is the third-highest scorer with 4 goals, shows that the quality of the strikers probably leave much to be desired. Even with Fraizer Campbell's impending arrival at the club, at least one more striker is still needed.

As such, Phil Brown's interest in Michael Owen is completely understandable. However, with Owen expressing his reluctance to join Hull, perhaps other targets should be the focus for Brown.

I would suggest that Brown should try to sign Benjani Mwaruwari. With Roque Santa Cruz recently becoming the 176th striker on Manchester City's books, Benjani will surely find playing time really limited.

That he will not get much time on the pitch isn't an indication of his lack of quality though, it just so happens that there is talent like Robinho, Bellamy, Jo, Santa Cruz and Caicedo ahead of him in the pecking order.

As such, Hull would do well to sign Benjani, who is a decent goalscorer, but perhaps more importantly, he is a hardworking striker who never gives up a lost cause. This is a valuable mindset to have for any player playing for a relegation-threatened club, as the last thing you want is a team that gives up easily.

His strength and pace would also bring much more to the team than the likes of Daniel Cousin and Caleb Folan, who were clearly not good enough for the Premiership.

As mentioned above, considering that Benjani is probably surplus to requirements at the City of Manchester Stadium, Hull should be able to pick him up for a reasonable price, and Phil Brown should try to ensure it happens.

Alternatively, Phil Brown could go for Marlon Harewood.

Just like Benjani, Harewood is also not likely to see much first-team action next season, with John Carew, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey and sometimes even youngster Nathan Delfouneso preferred to him.

Harewood would be a good signing and definitely a first-teamer for Hull City though, as he has proven himself in the Premiership before, and even in his limited appearances for Villa, he has shown that he still has quality in him.

Strong and athletic, he will be a handful for most defences, and would definitely be a good signing for Hull City.

Just as in Benjani's case, a reasonable offer should do it for Martin O'Neill, as he is clearly deemed surplus to requirements.


Hull's struggles last season were also in part down to the lack of ability to retain possession, especially in the central midfield area.

Sure, Jimmy Bullard will be back from injury, and I think he will be an integral part of Hull's team next season, but they definitely need at least one more midfielder in there, especially as George Boateng and Ian Ashbee are not getting any younger. In fact, Bullard himself isn't exactly Mr Indestructible.

Central midfielders in the Premier League (who would realistically want to play for a relegation-threatened team) do not come much better than Kevin Nolan.

A good goalscoring midfielder who never shies away from a challenge, Nolan is a seasoned campaigner in the English top flight, and would be a valuable addition to most Premier League teams.

His form might have suffered a little after his move to Newcastle, but to be fair, almost the entire team underperformed, which ultimately resulted in their relegation.

And it is their relegation which should open the door for a move to sign him, as Newcastle need to sell to keep afloat, and if Hull are serious about retaining their Premier League status, they should have no problem affording the transfer fee.

Phil Brown and Kevin Nolan have also worked together before at Bolton, so that might make the move a little easier to complete.

If Nolan rejects Hull, then Phil Brown should perhaps set his sights on Tom Huddlestone.

The former England U21 international has a superb passing range, and would be a great addition to Hull City.

The current Hull City team looks short of ideas when going forward, and if they had Huddlestone, they would certainly have a little more inspiration in their play.

He also has a good long shot on him, which could be important if Hull cannot find a way past packed defences.

With Harry Redknapp clearing out half the Tottenham squad, Hull might have a chance of getting their claws on a cultured, classy midfielder, and I think Phil Brown should try to get him if the price is right.


While Andy Dawson might be a fan's favourite, having been voted Hull's player of the year in 2007, I feel that he is not good enough to play at the Premiership level.

Dawson is also not someone you would place money on in a sprint challenge, and with him being on the wrong side of 30, this problem will be heavily exploited by pacy wingers next season.

He is also the only specialist left-back at the club, which is obviously not ideal. As such, it would be wise for Phil Brown to try and sign someone to replace or provide back-up for Dawson.

I think Phil Brown should pull out all the stops to try and bring in Emanuel Pogatetz from Middlesbrough.

A player who "never gives less than 300%", as described by his former manager Steve McClaren, Pogatetz is one of the hardest of the "hard men" when it comes to the left-back position.

The Austrian captain might not be the best going forward, but he is very solid at the back, and will not let right-wingers pass him easily.

With Middlesbrough recently being relegated, Hull could take advantage of their situation and sign one of Boro's top players at a reasonable price.

If Hull cannot muster enough funds to finance the move for Pogatetz, Brown could look at bringing in Kieran Gibbs on loan from Arsenal.

While obviously not even half as solid as Pogatetz, Gibbs possesses excellent pace, which gets him out of trouble and makes up for his relative lack of defensive awareness.

Also, the above-mentioned pace will be very useful for Hull on the counter-attack, and should he be signed, I can see him being as exciting as Bernard Mendy on the opposite flank.

I think Arsenal would not mind letting Gibbs go on loan for a season, as Armand Traore is back from his spell at Portsmouth, and will take over as cover for Gael Clichy.

So that's it, those are my suggested signings for Hull City next season. If Brown manages to get these players, I'm sure Hull will not struggle as much next season.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Three Transfers Road to Improvement: Sunderland

another article i published on bleacher report.

In the 16th part of my "Three Transfers" series, I shall be taking a look at Sunderland, a club that lost Roy Keane halfway through the season, and ended up stumbling through the entire season to finally secure their top flight status at the end.

With Steve Bruce at the helm now, bigger and better things are expected at the Stadium of Light, and from what we saw with Bruce's Wigan, there is cause for optimism for the Sunderland faithful.

Of course, a new manager does not fix everything, and if they are to improve on this season, then Bruce will have to bring in a few new faces. Here are my suggestions on who should be brought in, and why.


With Djibril Cisse heading back to Marseille, Sunderland are left with David Connolly, David Healy, Michael Chopra, Daryl Murphy, and of course Kenwyne Jones as their striking options.

Of the five players listed above, only Kenwyne Jones is Premiership quality, and as such, a new striker should definitely be the priority for Steve Bruce.

Sunderland have been linked with Darren Bent in the tabloids, and for good reason, too.

Strong and fast, Bent would be the perfect complement for Kenwyne Jones' aerial prowess.

Last season showed that Jones and Cisse worked quite well together, so Bruce would do well to try and replicate it by getting a pacy forward like Bent in. In fact, it could even work better than Jones and Cisse, as Bent is a much more accomplished finisher than Cisse will ever be.

Harry Redknapp has made it clear that Bent would be allowed to leave this summer, and as such, a reasonable offer would probably be enough to secure his signature.

Alternatively, Steve Bruce could look to bring in Michael Owen.

Yes, he is not the same player he once was, as injuries have robbed him of his pace, but the guile and finishing instincts still remain, and he could definitely be a good addition to Sunderland's squad.

While not quite as speedy as Darren Bent anymore, Owen is a natural goalscorer and you never get enough of such players.

His contract runs out in the summer, and with little interest from the top clubs, Sunderland could pick up a good player for nothing. His wages might be high, but Sunderland could try to negotiate a contract based more on appearances, so that they are covered in case he suffers another one of those long-term injuries that have plagued his career.

To top it all off, he would be moving from Newcastle straight to Sunderland, which surely would not go down well with the Magpies at St James Park, but will probably delight the Sunderland fans.


Currently, Sunderland have Paul McShane, Calum Davenport, Danny Collins and Anton Ferdinand who can play in this position.

None of the above four players have looked very convincing last season, and additions are definitely needed to strengthen this very crucial area of the team.

As such, I would suggest that Steve Bruce go for Oguchi Onyewu, the giant American.

Onyewu stands at 1.96m tall, and is strong in the air, so on paper he would be a good partner for Anton Ferdinand, who is relatively more comfortable on the ground.

Although Onyewu has had an unsuccessful spell at Newcastle before, I think he has developed into a better player during his time at Standard Liege, and should definitely be considered as a potential signing for Sunderland.

Having already won two league championships with Standard, Onyewu would probably be open to a second chance in the English Premier League. Also, the EPL has effectively kicked out racism from the stadiums, which might be an important factor, considering he was the victim of a racist insult during a recent match against Anderlecht.

If Onyewu proves impossible to sign, then perhaps Steve Bruce could set his sights a little lower and go for Abdoulaye Meite.

Strong, quick, and good in the air, Meite would also be a good partner for Ferdinand.

However, he does show an occasional lack of concentration which can lead to disastrous consequences.

Nevertheless, he is a fine defender on his day, and is definitely better than the other options Sunderland possess.


Two Sunderland players are capable of playing at right-wing, and they are Steed Malbranque and Carlos Edwards.

I think a lot was expected from Steed Malbranque when his signing was announced, but if performances from last season are anything to go by, he has not been a success, and with his age, he probably will not get much better.

Carlos Edwards is even worse off, as he has not looked like a Premiership player at any point in his Sunderland career.

As such, a right-winger would be a good addition to Sunderland's team.

Jermaine Pennant comes to mind as the obvious choice for the position, as he ticks all the right boxes when one thinks of a Premiership-standard right-winger.

He is quick, skillful, and has a very good cross on him. Steve Bruce is also known to be an admirer, as he brought him in when he was in charge of Birmingham. Pennant's best form of his career so far was also at the St. Andrews Stadium, so perhaps Steve Bruce knows how to get the most of out him.

His contract runs out at the end of the month, and Bruce would do very well to pick him up on a free transfer.

If money is not a problem for Sunderland, they could instead opt for Pedro Leon.

Leon plies his trade in Valladolid, and is being tipped for great things in future.

A very skillful player, Pedro Leon also has qualities that conventional right-wingers do not possess, such as a the vision to pick out a pass, and a decent long shot.

The drawback of signing a player from the Spanish league is the risk involved, because they might not be able to bring the same level of performance over. Josemi, Antonio Nunez and Mikel Alonso are just a few examples.

Also, being a key player in Valladolid, Sunderland might have to pay over the odds to get their man.

With Bruce being promised a decent transfer warchest this summer, there is more than just a small chance that he can tempt Pedro Leon to ditch the warmth of Spain for the bitter North-east weather.

So that's it. Those are my suggested signings for Steve Bruce's Sunderland next season. If they do get them, they won't even be close to the relegation zone.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Three Transfers Road to Improvement: Blackburn

another article i published on bleacher report

In the 15th part of my "Three Transfers" series, I look at Blackburn Rovers, a team that started the season with the hapless Paul Ince, but managed to turn their season around with the appointment of Sam Allardyce as manager.

With Sam Allardyce at the helm, Blackburn fans should not have to worry much about relegation.

He managed to keep Bolton in the top half of the table for a long period of time, and I think that goes to show his managerial ability, considering Bolton offered him very limited resources to work with.

With Blackburn, I reckon Big Sam's initial aim will be to ensure that they do not get sucked into the relegation battle at any point of time during the season.

If that is the case, then the squad definitely requires strengthening in a few areas, and they might consider the following players.


A number of players have been used in this position this season, namely Andre Ooijer, Danny Simpson, Zurab Khizanishvili, and even Keith Andrews.

Of those four names, only two (Ooijer and Simpson) can claim to be specialist right-backs, and both will not be at Ewood Park this season.

Ooijer has confirmed he will be heading back to PSV Eindhoven, while Simpson will return to Manchester United, his parent club.

Brett Emerton, the Australian midfielder, has shown that he can do very well in the right-back position, but his high energy is better utilised in midfield. Even if Allardyce does play him on the right side of defence, a right-back is still a highly necessary signing for them, given their lack of personnel who can play there.

As such, I would suggest that Blackburn make a new right-back their number one priority this summer, and they should look no further than to Habib Beye, the Senegalese international from Newcastle.

Solid in the tackle, and a decent option on the counter-attack, Beye would be the perfect answer for Blackburn's right-back woes.

Besides, with Newcastle recently being relegated, Beye would probably be available on a cut-price deal, as the Magpies need to sell their players to stay afloat.

Alternatively, Blackburn could try to go after Alan Hutton.

The Tottenham man is one of 37 right-backs at White Hart Lane, and might be allowed to go if the price is right.

Strong on the ball, and in the challenge, Hutton would also be a good addition to Ewood Park.

However, the drawback is that he is not quite as good when it comes to counter-attacking, and he would also definitely cost more than Beye.


With Roque Santa Cruz now at The City of Manchester Stadium, Blackburn will find themselves short of striking options in the coming season.

Their situation is made worse by Matt Derbyshire's desire to stay in Greece, where he has had a good spell on loan at Olympiakos.

As such, signing a striker should also be a priority for Sam Allardyce, and I think the ideal replacement for Santa Cruz would be Nikola Zigic.

Standing at 2.02m tall, Zigic is tailor-made for Sam Allardyce's long-ball style of play.

With Blackburn lacking in creativity in the middle of the park, Zigic's height would serve as an outlet for the rest of the team to punt long balls to, much like what they attempted to do with Christopher Samba at the tail-end of the season. Of course, Samba is no striker, so that was more of a failure than a success.

Zigic is surplus to requirements at Valencia, and with the club in some serious financial trouble, Allardyce certainly has the funds to prise him away from the Mestalla.

An alternative for Allardyce to consider would be Jo.

A reject at Manchester City, the Brazilian has shown in his loan spell at Everton that he still has what it takes to be a success in the Premiership.

Not only is he decent in the air, he is also quite a skilful player, and would be an asset to any team.

With the money from Roque Santa Cruz's move to Manchester City, Blackburn should be able to afford Jo.


Blackburn currently boast one of the most intimidating central defensive partnerships in the Premier League, with Ryan Nelsen partnering Christopher Samba.

However, I still believe that this department requires one more central defender, as there is little cover beyond Nelsen and Samba.

Andre Ooijer and Aaron Mokoena have left, and they have been used as emergency cover in the past.

Zurab Khizanishvili has shown time and again that he is not good enough for the English Premier League, and as such, I think Blackburn should try to sign David Wheater from Middlesbrough.

A tall and imposing defender, Wheater was one of the shining lights in Boro's otherwise rather gloomy season.

A solid defender who never shies away from a challenge, Wheater is one of those defenders you wouldn't mind trusting your life with, and is probably exactly the type of defender Sam Allardyce loves.

With his addition, Allardyce would then have three quality central defenders, to cover for injuries and suspensions. Also, with Nelsen turning 32 this year, Wheater can be groomed as the long-term replacement for him.

Middlesbrough, like Newcastle, have to sell their prized assets to keep afloat, and despite insisting that they will not sell Wheater, they might find it hard to keep him if big offers come in.

If the Wheater deal does not materialise, then Allardyce could try to go after Nedum Onuoha from Manchester City.

Boasting superb pace and strength, Onuoha's athleticism would be a good complement for either Nelsen or Samba, as their only weakness is a lack of speed to deal with forwards who run at them.

With the new signings starting to pile in at the City of Manchester Stadium, Mark Hughes might allow Onuoha to leave for a reasonable fee.

So that's it - those are my recommended signings for Blackburn for next season. If they manage to get half of the targets listed above, relegation fears will not even enter the heads of the Ewood Park faithful.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Three Transfers Road to Improvement: Portsmouth

another article i published on bleacher report

In the 14th part of my "Three Transfers" series, I look at Portsmouth, a team that is in the middle of a takeover by billionaire Sulaiman Al-Fahim.

Some might remember him being involved in the takeover of Manchester City, and he made bold proclamations of who he was going to sign for City back then. As such, I think we can expect him to splash the cash now that he is in charge of Portsmouth.

Portsmouth have a fair few problems to fix. They started the season with high hopes, but without Lassana Diarra and Jermain Defoe, arguably their top two players, they lacked quality and ended up losing almost half of their fixtures.

I think the short-term aim of the club would be to get into the top half, and possibly a Europa League place with a little luck.

If that is Portsmouth's aim, then I believe strengthening is required in a few areas, and I shall address them now.


After Defoe's departure, goals have been in short supply for the south coast club. Scoring a measly 38 goals, which equates to just 1 a game, is not enough, especially when your defence is not exactly water-tight.

Currently, Portsmouth have Peter Crouch, Nwankwo Kanu, David Nugent, and John Utaka on their books.

Peter Crouch managed to find a little form heading into the tail-end of last season, but clearly he needs to have better partners if he is going to improve on his performances next season.

Nwankwo Kanu's future is still up in the air, but even if he signs, the 32-year-old will probably be used in a role off the bench.

John Utaka has been preferred on the right, instead of in his favoured role, probably because his finishing has left much to be desired.

As for David Nugent, I don't think he has enough quality to be playing in the Premier League, and should at most be restricted to a place on the bench.

As such, signing a new striker must be the priority for Portsmouth in the summer.

I would suggest that with their new-found money, they should go after Darren Bent.

While many criticise him for being a multi-million pound flop, it must be noted that Bent is not the one who put such a price-tag on his head, and it is a result of the crazy market conditions, which sees him valued at 16.5 million pounds.

Darren Bent would be perfect for Portsmouth, as he is pacy, and as such, would be a perfect complement for Peter Crouch.

Often, Crouch has been the lone striker up front for Pompey and has had to drift wide to pick up the ball in space. If Bent were to move to Pompey to partner Crouch, then Bent would be the one running into the channels, leaving Crouch in the middle, where is the most effective.

Also, Crouch can make use of his height to flick the ball on for Bent to chase, if the team decides to use the aerial route.

With Redknapp reportedly keen on offloading Bent, Pompey would definitely be able to afford him, and he would be the perfect signing.

If they are unable to get Bent, they could perhaps turn their sights to Obafemi Martins.

The Nigerian striker is blessed with superb paceand athleticism, and while his shooting is not the best, he would also be a good partner for Peter Crouch, in a classic "big man, small man" combination.

With Newcastle needing to sell players, especially those on insanely high wages, Martins would definitely be attainable as long as Portsmouth come up with a reasonable offer.


Well, Glen Johnson is certainly one of the best right-backs in the league, but unfortunately for Pompey, it is unlikely that he will stay much longer.

With reported interest from Liverpool and Chelsea, among other clubs, the promise of European football will probably be too big a draw for Glen Johnson to ignore.

Assuming he goes, this leaves a huge gap for Pompey to fill. I think they should look for someone similar—i.e. good with the ball at his feet, and bombs down the flank with aplomb.

The player who I think is most similar to Johnson is Gianni Zuiverloon from West Bromwich Albion.

Zuiverloon is never afraid to run down the flank with the ball, or in support of the right-winger, and is thus a valuable asset to have when trying to break down other teams.

Defensively, he is not the best, but he is still young, and his reading of the game will definitely improve as he gets more matches under his belt. Also, his pace gets him out of trouble most of the time, so it's not too huge a problem.

If Zuiverloon cannot be attained, then Portsmouth could try to get Lucas Neill on a free transfer.

His contract runs out at the end of the month, and it looks increasingly unlikely that he will stay at West Ham.

Lucas Neill is very different from Zuiverloon, as he is defensively very solid, but his attacking ability is probably not even half as good. He has loads of Premier League experience, though, and would be a quality addition to any of the other teams in the league, not just Portsmouth.

His status as a free agent just makes it much more appealing for Portsmouth, and with their money, they should be able to afford his wages.

At the end of the day, it depends on whether Portsmouth want a like-for-like replacement for Johnson in Zuiverloon, or they want defensive solidity in the shape of Neill.


Currently, Portsmouth have Jerome Thomas as their only natural left-winger. Over the course of the season, they have used Armand Traore and Niko Kranjcar here as well.

However, Armand Traore will return to Arsenal at the end of his loan spell, while Niko Kranjcar should be left in the middle, where he can use his play-making abilities fullest.

While Jerome Thomas is a useful player to have in the squad, he is probably not good enough for a team with aspirations of finishing in the top half.

As such, Portsmouth definitely need a new left-winger, and I think they should try to sign Tranquillo Barnetta from Bayer Leverkusen.

The Swiss international is a quick winger who enjoys running at defenders at full tilt, and should be a hit in the Premier League.

He is equally adept at using either of his feet, and is comfortable on either wing, which will be a huge bonus to Portsmouth.

With Bayer Leverkusen also not qualifying for Europe, Portsmouth might find it a little easier to tempt Barnetta to the south coast to ply his trade in the English Premier League.

If Barnetta proves to be too expensive, or is not willing to move to England, then perhaps Dmitry Torbinsky will be an interesting option.

He is just as quick and just as skilful as Barnetta, and also possesses an excellent cross.

The only drawback is that he is not quite as proficient with both his feet, and as such is sometimes forced to cut in by experienced defenders.

Torbinsky currently plays for Lokomotiv Moscow, and if Portsmouth were interested, I'm sure he would jump at the opportunity to play in the English Premier League.

So that's it. That's my take on who Portsmouth should splash the cash on in the summer.

Taking a step back from all the suggestions, key to their summer is also making sure their best players like Sean Davis sign new contracts, as 15 of the Pompey team are free agents come the end of the month.

If they manage to keep their best players, use their money wisely and strengthen well, they should be in the running for one of the European spots next season, and not fighting a relegation battle.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Three Transfers Road to Improvement: Bolton Wanderers

In the 13th part of my "Three Transfers" series, I shall be taking a look at Bolton Wanderers, a club which has finished just about where everyone expected them to, well clear of the relegation zones, yet nowhere near European football.

To be fair, credit must be given to them for finishing above the likes of Sunderland and Newcastle, clubs that are run on much higher budgets.

The solid, uncompromising style of Megson and his charges, also mean that every visitor to the Reebok Stadium is not given an easy ride.

However, if they are to ensure that they stay well clear of relegation next season, signings are definitely going to be needed, and here's three they can consider.


This is a crucial area to strengthen. Bolton might look well-stocked here, despite Kevin Nolan's departure.

They have Gavin McCann, Fabrice Muamba, Mark Davies, Tamir Cohen, Joey O'Brien and Chris Basham on their books, which means six players for three central midfield spots.

On close examination, however, none of the six players are attacking midfielders. They are more "graft" than "craft", and that explains why Bolton seem to lack the necessary flair to turn draws into wins.

Bolton fans will remember the good ol' days when a certain Jay Jay Okocha lit up the Premier League with his tricks, flicks and free-kicks. Strangely for a player bursting at the seams with flair, a good long throw was also part of his arsenal.

Back then, Bolton were always in the top half of the table. That was due not only to their defensive solidity, but also because they had a player capable of turning a match on its head in Okocha.

As such, having already achieved their initial aim of stability after appointing Megson, I feel the top priority in the summer is to sign a flair player who can light up a game with moments of brilliance.

These players don't come cheap, and those willing to come to Bolton are probably in short supply in Europe.

Therefore, my first recommendation for this position is a player who plies his trade in Egypt for Al-Ahly.

That man is none other than the Egyptian Zinedine Zidane, Mohamed Abou Trika.

Playing in the hole behind the strikers, Abou Trika is a tricky player who uses his vision to set chances up for his team-mates. He also times his runs into the box to perfection, popping up with crucial goals for both club and country.

He boasts an approximate one goal in three games for either club or country, and has big-match experience as well, having won the African Cup of Nations twice, and the FIFA Club World Cup once.

In my opinion, he has all the attributes necessary to be a hit in the Premier League, and even though he is 31 this year, noone would think it if they watched him play.

If Megson finds it tough to sign him due to interest from other clubs, then he could perhaps set his sights on bringing Aaron Ramsey in on loan from Arsenal from next season.

Ramsey has found first-team opportunities for Arsenal limited, and perhaps a loan move to another Premier League side would be beneficial for all parties involved.

Bolton will get a player who creates opportunities for others with his silky passing skills and occasional driving runs, and being schooled the Arsenal way, there is no doubt that he will help Bolton to retain the ball in the final third, an area where they often lack inspiration and guile to prise open the opposition's defence.


For the longest time, Kevin Davies has been used as a right-winger by his managers at Bolton. While it is obviously not his favoured position, Davies has been a model professional, and has never moaned about being played there.

This season, however, should prompt his boss, Gary Megson to rethink the wisdom of leaving Davies out on the right. Davies has shown this season that there is more to his game than just winning headers and leaving defenders with bloodied noses.

He proved to his doubters that he can actually score goals, as he scored twelve this season, which is a good tally considering he doesn't operate as an out-and-out striker.

Johan Elmander, who was deployed as the lone striker for many games, finished the season with a measly five goals, not a good return at all, for someone who cost 11 million pounds.

As such, Kevin Davies should be given a chance in his favoured position next season, but for that to happen, Bolton have to sign a right-winger.

My top recommendation for Bolton is David Odonkor.

Once one of the brightest prospects in world football, the German winger has been affected by injuries for the past couple of years.

However, he remains a good player, and his pace is quite frightening. If Megson can get him to perform to the best of his abilities, then Bolton have themselves a fantastic player.

With Real Betis getting relegated to the second division in Spain, Odonkor may well jump at the opportunity to play in the English Premier League.

If the deal doesn't go through, Bolton could sign Gary O'Neil from Middlesbrough.

A hardworking player, with decent technique, O'Neil would fit in with the rest of the Bolton squad, who scrap for each other and generally put up a good fight every week, no matter who the opposition is.

He possesses a good cross as well, which is important, as that will play to Bolton's strength in the air.

With Middlesbrough down in the Championship, Bolton could nip in and steal O'Neil for a reasonable price, as they will be forced to sell their prized assets in a bid to keep afloat financially.


Bolton have had a fair few strikers over the past couple of seasons, but none has really convinced. This remains one of their problems, scoring goals, and if they had someone who could regularly knock in as many goals as Anelka once did for them, they would definitely be higher up the table.

Also, the current strikers are all big and strong, but not very good on the ball. The exception to the rule is Ricardo Vaz Te, but he's the sort of striker who needs ten chances to even get the ball anywhere near the goal. His record reads 6 goals in 72 appearances, which is a measly tally, even for any other outfield position.

As such, I think Bolton have to invest in a good striker with pace and skill to bring them back to the top half of the English Premier League, and I think their best option is to pull out all the stops in an attempt to get Ricardo Oliveira.

Having just been relegated with Real Betis, Bolton can possibly get him if they are willing to break the bank, and go on a charm offensive.

Skilful and explosive, Ricardo Oliveira is like a poor man's Robinho, and would certainly enhance Bolton's firepower.

If Oliveira proves a step too far for them, then Bolton could perhaps set their sights considerably lower on Kevin Doyle.

Doyle is much less skilful and also not as quick as Oliveira, but he is certainly a much more realistic target for a club like Bolton, and they would not have to break the bank to finance a move for him.

Stuck with Reading in the Championship, and having lost his long-time manager Steve Coppell, Doyle would probably welcome a move back to the Premier League, and I think he would fit in well with the rest of the team.

So there you have it, those are my recommendations for Bolton to sign in the summer. If they can pull off a few of the signings here, they will become a better, and perhaps, just perhaps, a more entertaining team. Neutrals like me can only hope the latter part comes true.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stop Overreacting, Ronaldo Leaving Doesn't Change United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on May 16, 2009 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
an article i wrote for

It is apt that United have finally chosen to sell Ronaldo on the back of a season which was based on defensive solidity and depth of squad.

Sure, much has been made of Ronaldo's 42 goal haul which won him the Ballon d'Or, where he single-handedly carried United through matches against the weaker teams in the EPL, during a period where Tevez and Rooney were misfiring.

Ronaldo has been a consistent source of goals. Scoring 18 goals in the EPL when he missed out on pre-season and was out for 12 weeks shows his quality.

However, if anything, season 08/09 was proof that even with the Portugese star misfiring, United's squad depth and defensive solidity carried them through, and that the formula on relying on Ronaldo does not always work.

Before anyone jumps onto my back, do know that I am a fan of CR7. He's magical on the ball and seems to have cut out his diving tendencies. I have often argued against people saying that he doesn't turn up in big matches, and always defended his whining on the field as a sign of passion and perfectionist mentality. I am sad to see him go, and I think he will be a massive loss to both the EPL and United, but I don't see that United will be considerably weakened with his departure.

It makes perfect economical sense that Ronaldo goes now. You have a global economic crisis, large debts in the club and suddenly there is an option to cash in on a £12 million buy, netting a £68 million profit. Assume wages of £120,000/week for his entire stay in United, that's only a cost of £38 million. You see an overall £30 million profit that Ronaldo has brought to United, not including the money won from competitions.

People often say that it is stupid to sell your best player; that Ronaldo is an irreplaceable talent; that we should look past his diving antics and judge him by what he brings onto the field. I know, I was a strong advocate for that, but this season has shown that he isn't the most irreplaceable person.

After all, United have always recovered from losing their best players. Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy, David Beckham, Eric Cantona, the list could go on.

Thus, an £80 million deal is a great price, and for the first time I agree that it is Ronaldo's time to go. He has won everything to be won in the English league, now it is time for him to live his dream.

United will definitely miss him, but quality will be added. Many signings can be made with £80 million pounds. Tevez can finally have a home (although he wants to leave), and names like Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery are touted as the incoming talents.

Whoever the replacement, do keep in mind that United have such a great squad, and his leaving won't have too much of an impact. It will just mean that other players take more shots, and not leaving the bulk of the shooting to Ronaldo. The goals won't dry up.

Owen Hargreaves' return in the next season will feel like a new signing. The £80 million pounds will be put to good use. The future is bright, with our upcoming talents in Anderson, Tosic, Fabio, Rafael, Macheda, Welbeck, and Gibson. United will collectively move on and go to greater heights.

And we shall applaud Ronaldo for his 6 great years of service and his many goals.