Friday, 15 July 2011

Liverpool pay over the odds for another English player

It is hard to do anything but praise Kenny Dalglish for the job he has done since returning to Liverpool. His return was always going to rejuvenate the fans and players after a disappoiting time with Roy Hodgson, but he seems to have continued to build on his impressive start with some excellent performances towards the end of last season.

After signing a contract, his next task was to deliver in the transfer market. He had already added strike duo Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez to Liverpool's squad in January and has now completed the deals of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Alexander Doni and now Stewart Downing.

One of Dalglih's January signings left me scratching my head a little. On one hand, Andy Carroll had played superbly for Newcastle and was scoring goals, was an ideal candidate for the role of a target man and could form an excellent partnership with Luis Suarez and was young with the potential to get better. However, £35 million seemed a hefty price tag for someone who had only really been in the Premiership for half a season. Then again, after selling Torres for £50 million, Liverpool could afford to splash out.

This summer, Carroll has been joined by two more very expensive English players; Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson. Stewart Downing had an excellent season for Villa but surely din't do enough to justify a price tag in the region of £20 million. Jordan Henderson is a player with potential and could develop into an excellent player. However, some Sunderland fans believe him to be quite limited in some aspects of his game and wasn't exactly outstanding in Sunderland's midfield last season.

Of course, if these three players stay at Liverpool for a long time and continue developing into top players, they may well eventually justify the prices payed to secure their services, but it's hard to imagine that many clubs would've played that sort of money for similar foreign players.

Of course, it isn't just Liverpool who have spent over the odds for English players. Man Utd, for example, have also focused on young English players this season and have had to pay big money to get them and Gary Cahill is being linked with a £17 million move to Arsenal despite the fact that he has no Champions League experience. Man City also made spent crazy money in recent seasons on the likes of James Milner and Joleon Lescott but I suppose they can afford to spend just about what they want on players.

The most likely reason for this overpricing of English players is the media who constantly overhype English talents, putting huge pressures on them for major international competitions and helping to increase the already ridiculous prices being paid by clubs for players.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Are things falling apart for Arsenal?

Arsene Wenger could face one of the toughest challenges yet in his managerial career as he tries to overcome what is proving to be a turbulent summer transfer window.

While many feel that if Arsenal are to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League next season, they need to add to their squad, it appears that there is far more activity regarding players leaving Arsenal.

Gael Clichy completed a £7 million switch to Man City this week, Samir Nasri could also be heading to Manchester although a move to the red half of the city seems more likely and Cesc Fabregas also seems destined to leave Arsenal with the most likely destination being the Nou Camp. Robin Van Persie and Andrey Arshavin have also been linked with moves away.

Arsenal's troubles seemed to start with their dramatic late loss to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final which was swiftly followed by a few disastrous weeks where their season unravelled. That meant Arsene Wenger had to endure yet another season without silverware.

However, Wenger still seems to have an unshakable belief that his crop of youngsters that he has built over those years have the talent to deliver silverware to the Emirates. In fact, it is hard to argue that they lack talent but their lack of success is probably more down to their lack of other ingredients. For example, they still haven't solved goalkeeping or defensive issues, they lack a genuine leader and the sort of mental strength needed to become champions.

With a few signings this summer, many of those problems could have been solved but now Wenger will have to solve these problems as well as replacing some of the key members of the team he has been trying to build.

In some ways, Wenger's faith in his players is admirable and the fact that he is slowly trying to build a great side is impressive but, if they continue to miss out on trophies, how long will it be before someone like Jack Wilshere gets fed up and attracts interest from elsewhere?

This summer is even more important for Arsenal.Considering the emergence of Man City as genuine title contenders and the rejuvenated Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool, Arsenal could fall even further off the pace.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Can Adam be the new Alonso for Liverpool?

Liverpool have finally completed the signing of Charlie Adam from Blackpool. The move shows yet more intent from the man Liverpool fans call 'King Kenny' to make Liverpool a force to be reckoned with again. It's no coincidence that Liverpool have been unable to challenge since the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, the man responsible for much of Liverpool's creativity.

Since his departure, Liverpool have often lacked a killer pass to unlock a defence which Alonso would usually provide and not had anywhere near the same amount of imagination in their side. Charlie Adam is not as big a name as Alonso, having only signed for Blackpool for £500,000 a few years ago, and some may call me crazy for comparing Alonso to someone who has only had one season in the top flight, but Adam's range and accuracy of passing impressed many last season, even in a struggling side.

If he can produce what he did last season for a side who were eventually relegated, what could he achieve in the red shirt of Liverpool.

What's more exciting is the fact that he could bring out the best in some of Liverpool's other main assets. His passing ability could benefit the likes of Gerrard and Suarez who are capable fo finding space in areas between midfield and attack which Adam can spot.

He also boasts an impressive goals tally from his first season in the Premier League. His 12 goals his better than any of Liverpool's other midfielders including Maxi Rodriguez who struck form in front of goal at the end of last season.

One criticism that could be aimed at Adam is the fact that he doesn't have the legs but that probably could be solved by playing him alongside Henderson, Lucas or Spearing.

Liverpool's midfield, dismantled over the past few seasons with the sales of Alonso and Javier Mascherano, seems to be taking shape again.

Changing of the guard at Old Trafford

It would have been very easy for Sir Alex Ferguson to have retired after being beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League final at the end of last season. No one could have denied him a well earned rest after building many great Man United sides and leading them to many trophies. With Barcelona the dominant force in European football, their 'noisy neighbours' Man City looking to spend more and more in a bid to challenge their old rivals and with Scholes, Neville and Van der Sar saying 'goodbye', some would say it would have been an ideal time for Ferguson to retire. However, those people clearly underestimate the phenomenal hunger for the game Ferguson still possesses and, as he says goodbye to two more loyal servants to his club, it is clear that Ferguson is looking to build his final great Man Utd side.

The acquisitions of David de Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones showed his intent to rebuild with youth, his rumoured bid for Samir Nasri shows his desire to add creativity to a squad now minus Paul Scholes, and his sale of John O'Shea and Wes Brown to Sunderland shows the ruthlessness he still has in his pursuit of success.

He is now clearly focusing on youth. Brown, 31, and O'Shea, 30, are two of the older members of United's squad and now it seems he will put even more trust in the likes of the Da Silva twins who emerged to hold down a regular place ahead of O'Shea and Brown in United's first season.

Brown's season was blighted by injury which is typical of his time at Old Trafford and season, injuries also seemed to catch up with O'Shea.

As United continue their squad overhaul, Sunderland continue to add depth to their squad which was a big problem for them towards the end of last season as they struggled desperately with injuries. The signings of the former United pair add to the earlier acquisitions of Ahmed Elmohamady, Connor Wickham, Craig Gardner, Ji Dong-won, Keiren Westwood and Sebastian Larsson. O'Shea and Brown can give Sunderland great experience and are both excellent professionals. The big question mark for Steve Bruce is if they can stay fit for the season.
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