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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Mario Balotelli will not be at Liverpool next season, says Jamie Carragher

Former Liverpool players Jamie Carragher, Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness question why Mario Balotelli was signed by Brendan Rodgers.

Mario Balotelli swapped shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe as he wandered down the tunnel at half-time
Mario Balotelli swapped shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe as he wandered down the tunnel at half-time
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher does not believe Mario Balotelli will remain with the club next season, and has labelled the controversial forward a panic buy.
Balotelli joined the Reds from AC Milan for £16million over the summer but has offered little thus far to suggest he can make a lasting impression at Anfield.
He was hauled off at the interval during the Merseysiders' 3-0 humbling defeat to Real Madrid, suggesting manager Brendan Rodgers' patience is already wearing thin at the Italian's lacklustre displays.
Balotelli earned further ire by swapping shirts with Real defender Pepe at half-time and Carragher, who thinks Liverpool rushed in to sign the 24-year-old as a replacement for Luis Suarez, has suggested the striker could soon find himself surplus to requirements.
"I'd be surprised to see him here next season," said the former centre-half, who made over 500 appearances for Liverpool in 17 years.
Carragher added: "It was just a panic; they needed someone. They left it too late and they've bought different players in different positions instead of maybe going out, not spending the whole Suarez money on one player, but buying two or three big players.
"A lot of the players have come in and done a decent job here and there, but nobody's really done anything.
"They bring in Balotelli late on - it's obviously a panic."
Other former Liverpool players in Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness have questioned why Balotelli was signed at all, given his track record of falling out with high-profile managers at his other clubs.
"I don't blame Mario Balotelli - I blame Brendan Rodgers for bringing him here," Redknapp said. "How he thought he could turn around a player that (Jose) Mourinho, (Roberto) Mancini, (Cesare) Prandelli have all washed their hands of...
"There's a reason when you go to the supermarket and things are half price. Why on earth they went for him, I'll never know.
"They should have just left him alone. The fact he went and got him, it just doesn't make any sense to me."
Souness, a former player and manager of Liverpool, backed up his fellow pundits, adding: "It was a really, really brave decision to take him into that football club, given the quality of managers and the quality of clubs that have said 'thanks but no thanks'."
The Telegraph

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Vine: Did Ed Woodward call one of his players a f*****g waste of money?

Ed Woodward didn't look too happy as he watched Manchester United struggle to a 2-2 draw with West Brom at the Hawthorns.

The United supremo cut a frustrated figure in the stands and was caught on camera either saying: "F*****g waste of money", or "f*****g hell, what's the point". You decide.
We are not sure who the comment was directed at. It certainly wasn't Maroune Fellaini who scored a cracker. And there are plenty of big money signings wearing the red of Manchester United. Jaun Mata is a better guess as the Spaniard struggled to make any impact before being taken off.

The Independent

Monday, 20 October 2014

Liverpool transfer news: Victor Valdes won't be signing, says Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers says he won't be making any Spanish signings in the near future, ruling out move for Victor Valdes.
Victor Valdes has been a free agent since leaving Barcelona in the summer Photo: GETTY 
“I’ll probably improve when I work in the country one day. For most people, when they travel to a country their language becomes better. I speak to the Spanish players that we have in Spanish. I’m only 41 which is very young and there are lots of things I want to achieve here at Liverpool. It’s an incredible club and I hope to be managing here for another 20-odd years. One day hopefully it can take me to Spain and I can experience a wonderful country, culture and as I said, some wonderful football club.”

On the daunting prospect of facing the European champions, Rodgers said: “They are as strong a team now as they have been for many years. They have everything; big experience, big players, speed, technique, they have a fantastic team and a great manager in Ancelotti, a good man who works with players and who is a good person.

“They have amazing talents all over the field. The have the technique to play in small spaces and when the space opens up there is no one better on the counter-attack because in Ronaldo and Bale they have two players that could be in the Olympic 100 metres final.

“Ronaldo is an amazing player, his evolution over the last few years into becoming a goal scorer has been incredible, but the team as a whole is incredible. You have Modric, Kroos, wonderful technicians who can play short and long. I’m also a big admirer of Sergio Ramos since his young days at Sevilla. I like him a lot.”

The Telegraph

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Why Arsenal will specialise in failure until Arsene Wenger is replaced

Jose Mourinho suggested that had any other manager pushed another manager in the middle of the match, as Arsene Wenger had done to the Chelsea man in their recent game, he’d have been treated more harshly.
It’s probably true - but the reason is more damning than some kind of pro-Arsenal bias
Arsene Wenger
It’s more likely to come from the fact that Wenger, and by extension Arsenal, are no longer really seen as a threat.
In the past, Wenger’s Arsenal side would have been happy to exchange more than glances on the pitch, and now you know there’s going to be little more than a shove.
Arsenal are a spent force, forever playing catch up, but at a pace far slower than those ahead of them are moving.
Before the match against Hull City, when the side were gearing up for yet another disappointment due to yet another injury crisis, Wenger said he would move for a defender in the January transfer.
For reference, we are now in October, and Arsenal started with Nacho Monreal in central defence.
Monreal is an adequate back-up full-back for a Champions League team, and yet under Wenger he is regularly considered as a worthwhile option in the middle for the next three months.
As the transfer window closed, Arsenal weighed up making some kind of move for William Carvalho, the Sporting Lisbon defensive midfielder, but with Wenger abroad refereeing a charity match, the side were only able (or perhaps truly willing) to sign Danny Welbeck, unable to break into United’s first team as a striker.
This came after Wenger elected not to sign Cesc Fabregas, who has proven himself to be perhaps the best midfielder in the Premier League at the moment, firing Diego Costa and therefore Chelsea to the top of the table.
Carvalho and Fabregas: neither arrived, and instead the risible show of Jack Wilshere andMathieu Flamini took over duties against Hull.
In the previous summer, Flamini was training with Arsenal, a favour to him from Wenger despite him leaving on a free transfer to AC Milan in the past.
He impressed Wenger with his training ground performances and managed to secure a contract on that basis. In the first season he was a usefully cynical presence, but an increasingly invisible physical one.
For all the training ground numbers, he was a player that could be played around and ignored by the best. This season, against teams like Hull, he can be easily outmuscled.
So it proved when Mohamed Diame burst through Arsenal’s midfield, and then grappled with Flamini’s shirt and neck to get ahead of him.
It was an obvious foul, but in previous years Flamini, or the more physically resilient Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira or Daniele De Rossi would not have stood for such interference.
They’d have fought back, at the very least, but in this instance Flamini simply gave up. Diame was provided with the chance to equalise not just because of the referee’s lenience, but because of Flamini’s slackness.
It wasn’t a rare example, it is now part of Flamini’s game.
Flamini and Mertesacker
Alongside him, Jack Wilshere showed why Paul Scholes regards him with borderline contempt.
He looks nice on the ball, flattering to deceive, but too often his important passes are underhit. With Hull sitting deep, that failing became increasingly apparent. It is not that Wilshere cannot pass well, is that he just does not do it enough, just as Arsenal cannot play well as a team often enough.
With more than 20 minutes remaining, Wilshere showed the other side of his play, injuring himself with a rash tackle on Gaston Ramirez. For all his tough guy posturing, he remains most likely to breakdown. In the past, Arsenal would intimidate and follow through (figuratively and literally). No longer.
Danny Welbeck’s late intervention should be celebrated by his old fans at Manchester United, and his current ones for England and Arsenal. He has proven that he can be a regular goalscorer.
The problem, again, is that it is not enough now. He rescued a point where he should, given the confidence he has in his own ability, be winning them. He missed an early chance to put his side ahead when his team were on top, demonstrating Arsenal’s lack of clinical edge.
It was reported today that Arsenal recently invested a couple of million pounds in a data analysis company, aiming to extract the most value from current and future players.
That’s all well and good, but there’s a very obvious statistic that needs addressing more than anything else.

For a decade, Wenger has been specialising in failure. It is time someone else got a chance.