Friday, August 03, 2007

Sanford Speaks: August 3, 2007

Can you believe that it’s already Community Shield time? That means that the transfer window will soon shut and we can have a break from all the rumors for at least a little while. I’ll probably check out some of the Shield, but since I loath both teams, it’s a little tough to watch when you don’t want anything to happen. I wonder how bad this Lampard injury really is? Could it lead to problems down the road? And for those of you who don’t know, the Community Shield is the traditional curtain-raiser to the domestic season between the top English League and FA Cup Champions. It used to be called the Charity Shield because all the proceeds went to Charity. They still do, but the name has been changed. The first Charity Shield match was played in 1908 between Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers. Liverpool are the current Shield holders after beating Chelsea 2-1 in Cardiff last year. Wembley wasn’t yet ready, hence the match in Wales.

I was hoping that Arsenal could get a few more quid for Jose Antonio Reyes, but at least he’s gone. I really liked him, but if he can’t handle the weather in England, then what are you gonna do? As someone who is really into weather, I can understand. I’m not sure I could live there either. Best of luck to him at Atletico. At least he didn’t return to Real.

Here’s an odd one: Nery Castillo to Shakhtar Donetsk. Word is he'll receive a pretty hefty salary, which I suppose is enough for the Mexican to be lured to the Ukraine. But I can’t help but be a tad upset, because I really enjoyed watching him play for Mexico this summer (particularly when he notched this beauty against Brazil) and was hoping he’d move to a club that would grace my TV at least occasionally this year. Perhaps the Ukrainian champs will have a decent Champions League run, but I’m not counting on it.

Weirdest photo of the last couple of weeks? Freddie Ljungberg and West Ham/Icelandic Moneybags Eggert Magnusson side-by-side at Freddie’s presentation. Both bald, one pretty, one not-so-pretty. Weird.

Some questions: How will Manchester City fair with all these new signings? How much time will DeMarcus Beasley get with Rangers? How will a fit again Bobby Convey reintegrate into his Reading side? Can Old Man McBride continue to lead the line effectively at Craven Cottage and keep them up? Can Inter capture the Scudetto now that the playing field is level and Juventus have returned to Serie A? What will Barcelona look like with Eto’o, Ronaldhino and Henry? Do they have enough defense to win La Liga or the CL?

I’m glad this Tevez nightmare appears to be finally put to rest. What a boring waste of my time. Once at United, I think he’ll do well. Veron has warned about being a flop, like he was, and like Forlan was, but I don’t see that happening. As long as Sir Alex gives him the freedom to roam, he’ll do well. Veron is a passer who needs a particular system to function well. He didn’t have that system at Old Trafford and he suffered. Forlan is a true striker. If a striker can’t hit the target, he can’t hit the target. And he failed to do so at ManU and flopped. He’s since regained form in Spain. But Tevez has a lot more to his game and his style is not as rigid as the other two. I see him doing well. But hopefully not too well.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the Shield should you chose to view and remember: only one week to go before the EPL returns! Onward! -Sanford

Community Shield Previews

Chelsea vs. Manchester United Sunday, August 5 Wembley Stadium, London U.S. TV: FOX Soccer Channel at 10 am EDT

The Special One Puts the Heat on Manchester United Ahead of Clash

Fergie Has Defensive Concerns

Sense of deja vu Grips Community Shield Rivals

Tevez saga set for Friday finish

Argentina striker Carlos Tevez should be free to finalise his move to Manchester United on Friday after West Ham agreed to release him from his contract, it was reported here on Thursday. An agreement with the player's representatives, which still needs to be ratified by the Premier League and Football Association, will see the Hammers paid between one million and three million pounds in compensation, the Press Association reported.

Champions League Qualifying Draw

Ties will be played August 14/15 and 28/29
FH Hafnarfjordur / FC BATE Borisov v Zaglebie Lubin / FC Steaua Bucuresti
Tampere United / PFC Levski Sofia v FC Astana / Rosenborg BK
FC Spartak Moskva v Celtic
Werder Bremen v NK Domzale / NK Dinamo Zagreb
FK Ventspils / FC Salzburg v FC Pyunik / FC Shakhtar Donetsk
AFC Ajax v MSK Zilina / SK Slavia Praha
Valencia CF v Debreceni VSC / IF Elfsborg
KRC Genk / FK Sarajevo v Dinamo Kiev
Fenerbahçe SK v RSC Anderlecht
Rangers FC / FK Zeta v FK Crvena Zvezda / FC Levadia Tallinn
Toulouse FC v Liverpool
Benfica v FC Kobenhavn / Beitar Jerusalem
S.S. Lazio v FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti
AC Sparta Praha v Arsenal
FC Zurich v FC Sheriff / Besiktas JK
Sevilla FC v AEK Athens FC

Eduardo On Target As Arsenal Win

Arsenal got off to a flier in the Amsterdam tournament against Lazio tonight, the young guns registering another pre-season victory, this time with the help of new signing Eduardo Da Silva.

Give & Go: Chicago's Chad Barrett interviews the Fire's striker...

France Ligue 1 Weekend Preview: The Challenge Begins

The new Ligue 1 season begins with high expectations all round. All eyes are on defending champions Lyon, although Marseille are in with a great chance of kicking off the season with a win. Matchday 1 awaits...

I won't be following the French league too closely over the next several months but since they are the first major league to get off the mark I think a preview is in order. -Sanford

The Mill + ++

Friday's Rumours



Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp is closing in on Real Mallorca winger Jonas Guttierrez, who is known as "Spiderman". (Daily Mail)

Premiership Preview No 10: Liverpool

Unless Rafa Benítez wises up away, Liverpool have no chance of finishing higher than third.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 3rd Odds: 9-2

Premiership Preview No 9: Fulham

Many of Fulham's signings have questions to answer, points to prove, but there is enough quality to keep them away from a relegation battle.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 16th Odds: 3000-1

The Beckham Waiting Game

The wait goes on … for David Beckham, coach Frank Yallop, the Los Angeles Galaxy and an increasingly impatient American soccer public.

Yallop revealed Thursday that Beckham, who's still nursing a sprained left ankle, would travel with the team to Toronto but is unlikely to play in Sunday's MLS game against Toronto FC at BMO Field.

China Threatens to Detain Soccer Fans for Swearing

Worried that loutish behaviour will shame the nation during next year's Beijing Olympics, police are threatening to detain fans who swear at a football match in the capital this weekend, as a way of stamping out the habit.

Convey Delighted By Return

"It was good to be playing again," he told the club website. "I was sore on Sunday morning, but I'd not played in six months."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

U.S. to Face Mexico in September

The U.S. National Team will head to Mexico City and the unfriendly confines of the infamous Estadio Azteca, where they have never won a match, to face Mexico in an international friendly on September 9 (ESPN2 and Galavision 4 p.m. ET).

Brazilian players reportedly drinking in Germany

"There were players who arrived between 4 and 6 in the morning, drunk," Teixeira said.

The Mill + ++

Thursday's Rumours



Arjen Robben has told Chelsea to pay him what he is worth if they are to have a chance of preventing him from joining Real Madrid. (Daily Star)

Veron Warns Tevez Of 'Mortal Fall In Fortune'

Manchester United flop Juan Sebastian Veron has warned fellow Argentine Carlos Tevez that moving to Old Trafford is a massive risk.

Amsterdam Tournament Preview: Lazio-Arsenal

What: Amsterdam Tournament, Matchday 1
Who: Lazio (3rd, Serie A, 2006-07) v Arsenal (4th, EPL, 2006-07)
When: Thursday, August 2nd, kick-off: 18.30 (CET)
Where: Amsterdam ArenA

Barton charged with assault

Barton allegedly attacked fellow player Ousmane Dabo at the end of last season when he was still at Manchester City. He was formally charged with assault by police after answering bail in Manchester today.

Frank Dell'Apa on Adu's Move to Lisbon

Portuguese League the Right Place for Adu to Develop

Premiership Preview No 8: Everton

David Moyes' side could go far in the Uefa Cup this season - but at the cost of a top six Premiership finish.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 8th Odds: 750-1

Premiership Preview No 7: Derby County

Billy Davies's side are going down, probably in 20th place, but that doesn't mean the next nine months will be pointless.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 20th Odds: 7,500-1

Premiership Preview No 2: Aston Villa

Villa's ambitious fans were satisfied with last season's mid-table finish, but expect more from Martin O'Neill this time around.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 10th Odds: 600-1

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Van Persie's Goal vs. Inter Milan

From this past weekend in the Emirates Cup. You have to wait for the reverse angle to really see the sickness of the move. He's got a little Lester Hayes going here. Or something...

Homeless World Cup

Copenhagen is hosting the fifth Homeless World Cup 29 July - 14 August , a street soccer tournament aimed at highlighting poverty and improving the lives of the participants. The event gets bigger each year [5 major cities bid to be hosts], attracting ever increasing coverage and sponsorship. The English team is being helped by ManU, so their chances of winning must be slim, while things don't look too hopeful for the US either, they're ranked 46 [from 48!]. Check out the web site.

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

Uli says: If you don't care (which is, I admit, kind of improbable, because why would you then read this?), if you're bypassing the Bundesliga because you're either prejudiced or simply prefer reading about the Ronaldinhos and Beckhams of this world... well, maybe you should reconsider.

Anderson prepared to be patient

If Sir Alex Ferguson's promise to rotate the Manchester United squad next season was meant as a warning to the expensive young guns he has signed in the close season then at least one of them got the message. Anderson, Ferguson's £17 million capture from Porto, acknowledged that his expensive price tag does not guarantee him a game.

Premiership Preview No 6: Chelsea

Jose Mourinho has plenty of questions to resolve, but his squad and desire are so strong that he'll regain the Premiership title.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 1st Odds: 6-4

Premiership Preview No 5: Bolton Wanderers

With Big Sam gone and Little Sammy in place, Bolton's prospects are harder to appraise than any other side.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 13th Odds: 500-1

Right attitude, wrong Beckham hairdo: meet the LA Galaxy fans

Try as they might, LA Galaxy followers are just not getting to grips with real fan culture.

Another stupid article by a Brit who thinks he knows what "real fan culture" is all about. This is getting ridiculous. Enough of these, already. Why does the Guardian publish this crap? -Sanford

Paul Marshall on the Upcoming Ligue 1 Season in France

However, for the seventh consecutive season, the question remains: Can anyone stop Lyon cantering to the title before November? A record 17-point gap between the champions and second-placed Marseille last season does not bode well for a thrilling climax to the coming campaign.

Juventus to face Livorno in Serie A return; Milan derby scheduled for Dec. 23

Inter and Milan will clash on Dec. 23 and May 4.

Adu's time to shine

Now that he has freed himself from much of the intense scrutiny that's followed his every step since the age of 14, maybe Freddy Adu can finally start to flourish.

By completing a switch from Real Salt Lake to famed Portuguese side Benfica, Adu can now focus fully on achieving the potential that made him the youngest player in MLS history amid predictions of greatness.

SuperLiga Roundup: Goals Galore

L.A. Galaxy 6, FC Dallas 5

With David Beckham nursing his left ankle injury back home in Southern California, the Galaxy catapulted to the top of Group A in SuperLiga play behind a thrilling 6-5 victory over FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on Tuesday evening.

Tim Vickery in South America

This week's column is based on an excellent question sent in by Jeremy Bulmer of Leeds.

He asked: "After the recent tragic plane crash at Sao Paulo do you believe that more questions will arise about the safety and suitability of Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup?

Nesta retires from Internationals

He said: "I will never join the national team again. My adventure with the Azzurri finishes here."

The Mill + ++

Wednesday's Rumours



Joy of Six: Tactical Blunders

From an English turnip to an Argentinian ice-cream man, the managers responsible for ruining their teams' hopes.

3. Jose Mourinho, Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool, 2006 FA Cup semi-final (22/04/2006)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Emirates Cup Scouting Report

ESPNSoccernet was on the spot when the inaugural Emirates Cup kicked off on 28 and 29 July in London with Arsenal, PSG, Inter Milan and Valencia participating. An abundance of talent graced the pitch at the Emirates Stadium in the English capital. Here are the four players (one from each team) who caught the eye.

Nicklas Bendtner - Arsenal
Didier Digard - Paris Saint Germain
David Villa - Valencia
Olivier Dacourt - Inter Milan

Premiership Preview No4: Blackburn Rovers

Pound for pound, Blackburn might just be the best team in the division, and they boast one of football's most important assets: continuity.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 11th Odds: 500-1


Thaksin 'not fit to run Man City'

Is Ronaldo gay?

In reply to yesterday's article on the new Bex, Perdo asked: Is Ronnie gay?

Well, he did win this, but his dish-washing girlfriend Gemma looks like this:

Gemma looks like she enjoys more than two rice cakes and a black coffee for her evening meal, so she might not make it as the new Victoria. Mind you, David did have a fling with the shy and retiring Rebecca here, so maybe Ronnie is his heir apparent after all.

Rebecca also saved Bex's marriage, which was most kind of her. Unfortunately she also cost him his one real chance of glory.

Back to Ron. Maybe he is gay after all:

You can count on SSN for all the quality football news.

The Mill + ++

Tuesday's Rumours



Massive cars and man bags essential at Old Trafford

Huge, horrible American cars are the vogue among Premiership players, a trend that reached an acme of absurdity this summer in Wayne Rooney's new £70,000, 10mpg Hummer.

The Iceman Cometh [back]

Eidur did an excellent job benchwarming in Spain, but it seems the pull of his landsmen, or at least their cash, is just too great.
Iceland link could seal deal

Cesc Upbeat

Predictions of Arsenal's doom are surely premature, but if they don't get off to a good start Spurs could give them a run for their money. Personally I think they'll have problems scoring goals. Not so much in terms of finding a replacement for Henry, rather from midfield. I was surprised Wenger didn't buy Ribery, who seemed tailor-made for Arsenal. In fact, I was amazed Ribery ended up at Bayern for only 17m Euros - young goal-scoring midfielder who runs himself into the ground with World Cup experience for France - what more do you want?
Cesc Fabregas confident of Arsenal's success

Duck Season: Alexandre Pato And Europe

Alexandre Pato has experienced a meteoric rise from anonymity to becoming one of Brazil’s most sought-after would-be exports in less than a year. The player has stirred up such interest that some of the biggest clubs in Europe have ‘The Duck’ firmly in their crosshairs for the coming season. With the big guns aiming high his price has also shot up and AC Milan have even sent an emissary to the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre to bring back the prized striker...

Scouting Report: Manuel da Costa

Newcastle's overtures won't be the last Premiership offer that PSV Eindhoven's young Portuguese defender will receive.

Setanta Vs Sky

Sky Sports' coverage of cricket in England is excellent. Although most of the presenters are ex-players, the people in charge of cricket at Sky made two masterful decisions:
1. check the ex-players had something interesting to say.
2. check the ex-players could actually speak English.
And what a surprise, it worked, viewing was actual improved.

Unfortunately the Sky cricket people and the Sky footie people don't seem sit at the same table for lunch. Andy Gray certaintly knows a bit about football but also happens to be a annoying, loud-mouthed boor. And prettyboy Jamie Redknapp, brought in 2 yrs ago, surely has it written into his contract that he can't say anything interesting. But it's the ex-players, brought in for each individual game, who really begger belief. Top of the lot is Jason Mcateer. Some examples of Jason's wisdom:

When asked on a credit card application to state his position in the company in which he worked, his response was "I'm a central midfielder but the boss is playing me at right wing back
Ordered a pizza when dining at a restaurant with his team-mates.
When asked if he wanted it cut into four or eight slices, he replied "Four, because I'm not that hungry.
Alan Thompson, an ex-Bolton team mate of Jason's, once asked McAteer to "Pass the tomato ketchup;" the answer Alan received was "Red or brown?"

Hopefully things will be better on Setana. McManaman used to have his own column in the Times, which was pretty good and not ghost written, so there is room for optimism.

If only the had Max Bretos and that twat who goes on about onion bags from Fox.

Underdog Setanta takes on Sky at its own game

Heathrow Hassle

Anyone who's travelled to Heathrow will know what a delightful airport it is. Alex found that out yesterday, making Jose's life that little bit easier.

Alex flies back to Brazil after move to Chelsea ends in row at airport
Mourinho surveys his bruised and battered Blues

Hubbard: Could Reyes have been Arsenal's answer?

Yet there is a player that Arsenal may miss more even though, technically, he remains theirs. Jose Antonio Reyes inspires few superlatives at the Emirates Stadium and, given his quest to find a warmer climate, Wenger has admitted the Spaniard will not endure another winter in the London drizzle, even though he is yet to find a new club. But in his methods, the mercurial Andalucian was vital for Arsenal.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ronaldo is the new Beckham

RETURNING TO ENGLAND AS public enemy No 1 after last summer’s World Cup finals, Cristiano Ronaldo was followed at every turn by two security guards, such were the fears for his safety. He had similar attention throughout Manchester United’s preseason tour to Asia, but this time his would-be assailants were awestruck youths, male or female, all desperate to get up close and personal with football’s latest global icon.

Iraq beats Saudi Arabia for Asian Cup title

Iraq's 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on a 71st-minute header by captain Younis Mahmoud was an inspirational triumph for a team whose players straddle bitter and violent ethnic divides. After the game, Mahmoud called for the United States to withdraw its troops from his nation.

Iraq erupted in joy and celebratory gunfire on Sunday when the country's national football squad won the Asian Cup and united its bitterly divided communities in a rare moment of celebration.

Blanco makes MLS debut as Fire rout Toronto FC

Blanco, who signed a three-year deal with the Fire in April, assisted on the first goal to help the Fire win for just the second time in the last 13 matches.

SuperLiga off to a promising start

The numbers were startling, and to network executives, thrilling. Nearly twice as many people watched the Spanish-language broadcast of the Gold Cup final on June 24 between the U.S. and Mexico than saw the last deciding Stanley Cup match.

Small wonder, then, that Major League Soccer has long coveted and tried to find a way to tap the Hispanic soccer audience at the club level. The truth is, many Latino viewers are enthusiastically loyal not only to national squads, but to their preferred club teams.

Adu set to leave MLS for Europe

...what has become clear in recent days and weeks is that Adu isn't the only one who wants Adu to go to Europe.

Real Salt Lake protege Freddy Adu is close to signing with Benfica for $1.3 million, according to Portuguese media reports on Saturday.

The Mill +

Monday's Rumours


Sid Lowe on Bernd Schuster

Madrid's new coach has to strike a difficult balance between practicality and fantasy.

Premiership Preview No3: Birmingham City

Steve Bruce wrote a thriller back in the day - no, really - and the new season promises plenty of twists and turns for Blues fans.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 17th Odds: 5000-1

Van Persie shows there is life at Arsenal after Henry

Arsenal offered their fans cause for optimism as Robin van Persie scored a wonder goal.