Adebayor: ….. To Be Loved

In the first 8 games of the season Tottenham Hotspur where winning all sorts of plaudits for their attacking play, with the focus coming on the emergence of Andros Townsend as well as the additions in the summer of Eriksen, Chadli, Lamela & Soldado. In amongst this time of great form their was a man forgotten, Emmanuel Adebayor. Banished to train with the youth team by then manager Andre Villas-Boas after returning late from his own brothers funeral and seemingly looking on his way out of the door.

Then Villas-Boas was discarded by Spurs after their form took a dip and AVBs negative tactics proved to much for the very loyal White Hart Lane crowd to stomach, and under rookie manager Tim Sherwood the man from Togo seems to have found a new lease of life.

Adebayor has always been a mercurial talent, from his tumultuous time at Arsenal where too often he showed glimpses of a player of special talent. To his largely forgettable time at Manchester City, although he will forever be a legend in my eyes for his pitch long run to celebrate his goal in front of the Arsenal fans. Then via Real Madrid he ended up at Spurs. Once again his first season showed how good much of a poacher the man is netting 18 goals and ending as their top scorer. Last season however Adebayor was everything his critics lambast him for: wasteful, lazy and seemingly at times disinterested and he only returned 5 goals, a figure he has already gone past this term.

So where exactly does Adebayor fit in in the criteria for a top striker? Well the answer to this lies in the fact which Adebayor turns up. On his day he has the perfect balance of speed and strength that all strikers need (a brilliant example of this was his goal against Everton a few weeks ago), he can also hold up the play well for midfielders coming from attacking roles. He posses a good eye for finding the net and has one of the hardest shots in the league. These are all his good traits so what about his bad ones? Well as we have already said he can often float through games seemingly disinterested, he is a forward so can’t tackle at all (see his red card in the North London Derby last season),he will certainly not track 40/50 yards with a player although as we mentioned he can’t tackle so maybe that’s a good thing and finally he has a one season syndrome about him, whereby he plays out of his skin for a year and then doesn’t really get off the ground for the rest of his time at that club. It’s something that can be tracked through his career and Sherwood must be hoping it doesn’t happen anytime soon with just Adebayor and Roberto Soldado (who doesn’t look likely to score anytime soon) as their only recognised strikers after Defoe goes to Toronto he needs both scoring.

Ryan

The next wave of the Belgian invasion is already on British shores.

The youngest one is seventeen, the senior class member is twenty-two. All of them could be the next big man in the world of football. I picked out six young Belgians in the Premier League who have the potential to carry on the Belgian invasion.

Andreas Pereira – Manchester United (Midfielder), Age: 18

Andreas is the son of Marcos Pereira, former Brazilian star at Antwerp FC. Just like his dad, Andreas loves spectacular goals. Based on his mixed origin, newspapers in Belgium already call him  ‘The New Januzaj’. Pereira can pick between Belgium and Brazil if he wants to when he starts an international career, but he already made clear his heart is Brazilian, just like his way of playing football. The Belgian-Brazilian playmaker is a future star. Pereira signed his first professional contract with Manchester United in 2013.

 

Charly Musonda Junior – Chelsea (Midfielder), Age: 17

Seeing this kid play is a fine memory of his father to Belgian football fans. He has no need to look at his feet to know where the ball is.  With a power you would never expect from a kid like him, Musonda sets up attacks and dodges tackles like it’s fun. Charly set off to London with his brothers, Lamisha and Tika, but there was no doubt that he is the most talented of the three. Charly is team captain at the Belgium U17 team.

 

Marnick Vermijl – Manchester United, on loan to NEC Nijmegen (Defender), Age: 22

Vermijl made it to the starting XI against Cluj in the Champions League last season. It was Sir Alex Ferguson who believed in this young talent. David Moyes on the other side preferred to put him on loan. Vermijl now plays for NEC, however a number of English clubs were interested. He decided to play for the Dutch side because he wanted more playing time and didn’t want to take the risk to stay in England and being called back to Manchester at any time. Vermijl is part of the Belgium national youngsters and won the U21 Championship with Manchester United last year. He was named the second best footballer in their (Januzaj being the best).

 

Jonathan Buatu Mananga – Fulham (Defender), Age: 21

Buatu joined Fulham in August 2013 after his contract with KRC Genk came to an end. Buatu is a strong center-back who also knows his way in midfield. Buatu was selected for all the Belgian age group representation starting with the U17. Buatu signed a one-year-deal with Fulham. The option for an extra year could hold the Belgian youngster in London until 2015. With the recent changes and uncertainty around the club maybe Buatu is capable of providing a much needed steel to a weak team?

Charni Ekangamene – Manchester United, on loan to Carlisle (Midfielder), Age: 20

Charni signed his first professional contract with Manchester United in December 2013. In January 2014, the club decided to put him on loan. He then joined Carlisle United. He caught the eye of the Manchester United scouts when he was playing at Antwerp FC, a club with close connections with the Red Devils. A strong player capable of playing either in a holding midfielders role, although this year has found him playing CB in Manchester United reserves.

Jason Denayer – Manchester City (Defender), Age: 19

Denayer originally played as a striker when he learned the beautiful game in Brussels with RSC Anderlecht. It was in his later youth when he learned to play as a defender. He arrived in Manchester after a stage session with Belgian side Waasland-Beveren. Denayer evolved into an upcoming talent under the control of Patrick Vieira. He has a youth contract with Manchester City until 2016, by that time he should be able to claim his first professional contract with ease. Denayer was also highlighted by Manchester Citys own Website as one to watch and has featured heavily in both the UEFA Youth League & the U21 League this season.

 

Annelies.

Fulham FC: Clueless & in Crisis

Now we will level with you first up, today’s artisan meant to be about Spurs striker Adebayor but last nights news prompted us to change the plan. It emerged last night that after just 75 days as head coach of Fulham, former Manchester United assistant manager Rene Meulensteen had been replaced by Felix Magath.

That’s right you read correctly 75 days! It’s almost like a celebrity relationship how quickly it had come and gone. Having been brought in initially to assist Martin Jol who he then replaced as head coach on November 1st. Since then he has seen his team flatter to deceive, sell it’s most dangerous striker, the return of a prodigal son in Clint Dempsey,Crash out of the FA Cup and become the latest team to leave Old Trafford with something. It has been quite eventful although you have to question why the sacking has come now? As it stands Fulham are 4 points away from safety and playing some grinding football and the way this season has been going they could have ended up mid table under Meulensteen and still might under Magath but we are not one who likes seeing managers being chopped and changed.

The timing comes as a shock as well as Meulensteen has invested in the squad in January, bringing in the hard working Lewis Holtby & Johnny Heitinga to add more of a backbone to the team, as well as the Greek monster Mitroglou to replace Dimitar Berbatov who went to Monaco and also 3 youngsters in Kvist, Tunnicliffe & Cole. It seemed Meulensteen was starting to mould the squad to his own design and the owner was happy to fund that. Now Magath will have to work with what he has been left with and no time to bring in his own men.

With Fulhams next 4 fixtures looking ominous as well Magath really is being given a baptism of fire with 2 of the fixtures being against clubs that are close to them in the league and the other 2 against Newcastle & Chelsea you have to believe that Magath has an uphill task to try and motivate the players for the final half of the season. As for Meulensteen he joins the names of Kidd & Quieroz as ex Manchester United assistants who didn’t make the grade as managers, also it’s worth noting that he hasn’t left the club and has been told he can only leave of he resign. All a bit bizarre if you ask us.

Ryan

Why Raheem Sterling is the real deal and deserves a spot in England’s World Cup squad.

Raheem Sterling lacks the confidence and experience of regular game time, looking afraid of his own shadow at times when he gets a game.


@adamdellboy 2/12/2013

I’m writing this on Sunday 9th February, two months have passed since then and Liverpool fans are basking in the glory of a magnificent 5-1 demolition of the then league leaders Arsenal. Central to this victory was a certain Raheem Sterling, scorer of two goals, unlucky not to get a hattrick and the deserved recipient of the Man of the Match award. He tormented the hapless Arsenal defence all afternoon, his electric turn of pace even blowing away the rapid Kieran Gibbs, playing with the confidence of a man who is starting to knuckle down and realise his true potential. So what has changed in just two months?

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Sterling has suddenly become a key player, making the starting XI on a regular basis , which is exactly what I thought his development needed. He’s responded in some fashion, terrifying defences with a more positive approach which has resulted in him scoring and creating goals in addition to winning 3 penalties. At the age of 19, he’s no longer a potential star but a genuine threat to opposition defences. The words of the man himself show exactly how regular football has improved his game;

I had to be more confident. I wasn’t confident enough to have a shot myself and instead I’d pass it to someone like [Luis] Suarez. I just said to myself that I had to step up and start running at defenders again; taking responsibility.”

I’ve also had the chance to do that week in, week out. I can feel a bit of momentum now.

My agent knows me as well as anyone else; he knows my game, and he asked the club for a couple of DVDs from last season when I’d played well. He wanted to show me the difference. Last season, I’d have beaten a man in two touches and raced away.

Suddenly, I was going safe; passing to someone else. I didn’t realise I was doing it. I needed to be more confident. You have to respect the senior players around you but you have to stamp your own mark on the game.

Although Raheem is the butt of many (false) Twitter rumours, he does seem to have finally settled down and appears to be at home in the North West. In his recent MOTD interview he came across very well and you can’t help but feel that Brendan Rodgers has been a key factor in all of this. The big question is can he break into the England squad in time for the World Cup?

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In my opinion, with Theo Walcott expected to miss the tournament in Brazil, Raheem has a great chance of being on that plane. He has many things in his favour which may sway Roy Hodgson. He is undoubtedly the form wide playing Englishman in the Premier League, alongside perhaps Adam Johnson. Last year’s great hope Andros Townsend seems to have lost his way amidst all the overnight adulation, whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is playing more centrally. Raheem is a player Hodgson knows well and with his club captain Stevie Gerrard also captaining the England team, he has someone to guide him through the experience.

Sterling can also play anywhere across the pitch, combining frightening pace and skill with an eye for goal. He also works his ass off defensively and has worked hard on his physical strength this season. His only weakness is perhaps his final ball, but that will improve also. Just think of a front 3 of Rooney, Sturridge and Sterling, with Rooney playing the Suarez role. Suddenly England’s attack looks extremely threatening. For that reason alone, surely Raheem deserves a place on the squad.

@adamdellboy

Leeds United: More of a family than a fan base.

On the last day of the January transfer window all eyes are normally focusing on the English footballs main players and who they are going to sign. This year the focus of every footballing fan was on Leeds United as a bizarre evening unfolded, and even at the time of writing is still unclear as to what is going on.

Leeds United’s captain Ross McCormack had been the subject of interest from a few Premier League clubs during the window after catching the eye with 21 goals in 28 league games this year. McCormack had only been made captain of Leeds during the middle of January so offers were unlikely to succeed unless they came in well over his market rate (£5 million was banded around for the Scotsman) but never the less in the early evening he put a statement out stating: “I am really happy at Leeds and look forward to staying at the club, I’m club captain and I look forward to continue playing at the club under Brian McDermott for the rest of the season.” Which seemed all well and good until around 8pm Leeds out a statement of their own, not to announce McCormack’s departure but the departure of manager Brian McDermott who was a popular figure amongst the players and fans alike. Within half an hour McCormack was on the phone to the Sky Sports News team voicing his displeasure at the dismissal.

McCormack was still a Leeds player come the end of the window and everyone thought that was that for the drama, until Saturday afternoon when Leeds announced (after their game against local rivals Huddersfield) that McDermott was still Leeds manager. It appears that a group who are in the process of a 75% takeover of Leeds United had dismissed McDermott despite the fact they don’t own the club yet. McDermott returned to his post on Monday morning and faced the media stating that he still wanted to be the clubs manager.

So with McDermott reinstalled and a buyer lined up all looks rosy for the Leeds? Well not quite the new prospective owner a mr Massimo Cellino still has to pass a Football League fit & proper persons test which may be an issue as he has 2 previous fraud convictions and is under investigation for embezzlement of a stadium his other club Cagliari were using in their nomadic search for a new home. Mr Cellino seems to have a bit of a maverick streak on him, he refuses to play on the 17th as he believes it’s bad luck, and once asked fans to turn up to a game that was supposed to be behind closed doors to get it abandoned. Will Cellinos antics go down well with the Leeds fans who are notoriously vociferous of anyone who doesn’t do the best for the club they hold so dear, In fact you could say Leeds are probably one of the best supported clubs in the country and certainly the most followed outside of the Premier League. So no I doubt they will stand for any messing about by anyone let alone someone who already has their back up before taking the reigns.

There may be some light on the horizon though as a consortium of past failed bidders for the club have come in and promised to match what Cellino has offered and would probably hold the clubs interest closer to their heart than Cellino who seems to be in it purely for the money.

As a Manchester United fan I sincerely hope Leeds get sorted out in the near future and they return to the top table of English Football sooner rather than later, if for nothing more than their fans.

As usual let us know your thoughts on Twitter & Facebook.

Ryan.

Is it about time UEFA clamped down on Chelsea?

UEFA have made a big deal about their new Financial Fair Play rules, yet there appear to be a number of clubs that are making up their own interpretation of the rules in order to stay ahead of the rest. Many have been left bemused by the revolving door at Chelsea for their managers in recent years, but it is the miriad of expensive talent coming and going which causes most concern.

Chelsea made a loss of £49.4m for the year ended 30 June 2013, yet their spending on the 1st team squad in addition to backup players and future talent goes on without a sign of slowing down. In recent times, they have appeared to be stockpiling and cherry picking the best talent in world football, not to strengthen their team, but to inflict damage on their rivals.

Romelu Lukaku was signed for £17m and was promptly loaned to WBA then Everton, where he has damaged many of Chelsea’s close rivals and is now rumoured to be used as a bargaining chip to sign Edinson Cavani. To think that Mourinho would rather play the hopelessly out of sorts Fernando Torres in his own team speaks volumes about this policy. Thibaut Courtois, the top young keeper in world football signed for £5m and has twice been loaned to Atletico Madrid. Like Lukaku, it’s starting to appear that Chelsea may use him as a cheap bait to land Diego Costa, effectively saving them millions in transfer fees. Kevin De Bruyne signed for £7m, was loaned to Werder Bremen, then sold to Wolfsburg for £17m, making a more than handsome profit in just 18 months despite a handful of appearances in the blue shirt. Victor Moses was signed for a large fee and was loaned out to Liverpool with the assumption that they were not a direct rival, but like Lukaku could help earn points against the likes of United, City and Arsenal. The only people that fell for that were Liverpool’s transfer committee!!!

The remainder resemble a who’s who short list from Football Manager, all of these guys are loaned out:

Christian Atsu, Matej Delac, Thorgan Hazard, Wallace, Kenneth Omeruo, Nathaniel Chalobah, Bertrand Traore, Christian Cuevas, Ulises Davila, Milan Lalkovic, Jhon Pirez, Stipe Perica, Patrick Van Aanholt, Lucas Piazon, Ryan Bertrand, Marko Marin,
Josh McEachran, Oriol Romeu

amongst a couple of lesser known players.

Some of these guys might make the breakthrough, but Chelsea have done their best to keep these talents out of the hands of their rivals and in the case of the likes of De Bruyne, they’ve made a handsome profit. You could argue that the recent sale of Juan Mata highlights this part of their transfer policy as they have again benefitted from a huge profit which will no doubt be spent on another selection of prodigious talent. Chelsea’s transfer activities don’t break any rules, but there is no question that they are having a wide impact right across the football world and it could be considered a smart method to stay within the FFP rules.

Chelsea recently gazumped Liverpool by offering a reported £12m EXTRA for Egyptian Mohammed Salah and what’s the betting he ends up being loaned out next season!?! French wonderkid Kurt Zouma could be another player to join the Chelsea ranks, preventing other clubs the chance of developing him into a world class player. One player who faded away was Gael Kakuta, who Chelsea moved heaven and earth to sign and yet he proved to be an even bigger flop than Fernando Torres. I feel that many of the above players will go the same way.

Does this policy need looking into? I personally think loans between clubs in the same division should be banned as transfers should never be tactical. As for Chelsea’s relentless pursuit of the world’s top talents, they will continue to pinch players from their rivals at any cost even if it means stunting their growth and ultimately damaging their career, this in my opinion is also wrong.

UEFA, it’s over to you……..

@adamdellboy