Juan Mata to Manchester United?

A short one from me this time, but one, that could be big news quite soon.

Obviously as a United fan, I’m not going to get my hopes up just yet, but the news surrounding this is hopeful. According to the BBC and Sky Sports, Manchester United have made a bid of around £35 million. This would be a “money deal” only, supposedly, despite reports linking Rooney the other way.

Well, how good would the transfer possibly be. We all know what a top, top player he is, and personally, he could really give us a huge for the season. Look at what Ozil has done for Arsenal, or too Arsenal should I say. Mata can come in, and we can build the team around him a bit. A creative player we have been crying out for, for some time, despite having Kagawa. Mata is someone who is proven, and knows what to do. He was arguably Chelsea’s best player last season, but has been really unfortunate this season. Mourinho leaving him out, in my opinion, is wrong, because he is too good to be on the bench. So, a move to United could really kick start his season.

That’s all from me. So, from myself and the rest of the United fans “Please join, Mr Mata”!

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Racism in Football

For quite a few years now, it has come to the attention of many, that racism inside of Football has become a highly talked about subject. Why is this though? Why does it happen? What is done about it? And, who is to blame for it?

Well first of all, no one really knows why it happens. Is it out of frustration at other players? Surely not. Why would frustration provoke a cowardly attack at a footballer? I wouldn’t think it would. I think these, ever so small minority of people think that they can attack and abuse them by being racist. What they don’t know, is that the reputation of the club is worsened each time something like this happens.

One incident of racism came a few months back, in Russia. It was the group game between CSKA Moscow and Manchester City. The fans behind the goal were found to have been racist towards the City player, Yaya Toure. If I remember rightly, after the game he was interviewed, and spoke a few words about it after the interviewer asked him if he had heard it during the game. It was a really weird interview, because it looked like he didn’t really know what to say, probably as he was in shock as something like that had happened.

As a result of this, CSKA part of their ground closed as punishment. But, how on earth is this a fair punishment? Yaya Toure was basically humiliated on the pitch, and as a result of it, part of the ground is closed…! 

I don’t agree with a punishment like that. If there is ever going to be a stoppage of this racism in Football, then I believe punishments are going to have to chance. They’re going to have to change by making them much more effective, and make them so the “supporters” team is punished. 

So yeah, that’s my view. Obviously, there are lots more points I could cover, but I’d be here for weeks probably.

Predictions for the Top 4 in the Premier League this season

So, we’re now what, 21 games in. It’s getting to that time of the season, where, the table is starting to take a little bit of shape now. But the question is, which 4 teams will make the top 4 of the Premier League this season?

In no particular order by the way, these are just the teams that I think, will make the top 4.

Arsenal – They’ve done it so many times, and this season, they’re are so, so much stronger than before. I think they’ve got a lot of resilience about them this season, especially with the two rocks at the back, in Mertesacker and Koscielny. Ozil’ transfer has given the side a huge boost, and although I feel they’ll just miss out on the title, I’m sure they will get top 4.

Man City – They have to be in the top 4 really. They have the best squad, and one of the biggest. Even with Aguero out injured at the moment, they still have Negredo scoring for fun, and Dzeko chipping in with the odd goal. Everyone knows, that when Kompany plays, they usually win, with the odd exception. He’s a vital part of this City team, and I fully expect them to make the top 4, and probably win the league.

Chelsea – Like Man City, they have one of the best squads, and one of the biggest. It’s clear that it’s a very good team as well, when Jose can leave the likes of Ashley Cole and Juan Mata on the bench. Chelsea probably haven’t done as well as they would have liked this season, Jose criticizing them occasionally, but they still lie 3rd, 2 points from the top – so it can’t be that bad. I think they’ll give Man City a very good run for the title, along with Arsenal.

And for the 4th, and final spot, I simply do not know. I think it will be between one of four teams; Liverpool, Everton, Spurs and Man United. 

To say that there is 4 teams, that I expect, to go for 4th, and 3 teams challenging for the title, just shows what an unbelievably, amazingly, exciting Premier League season it is going to be. And this, without even talking about the other end of the table.

Ballon d’Or – an incredible year for Cristiano.

It had to be him really, didn’t it.  59 goals in 50 games for Madrid, and 10 goals in 9 games, coming to a staggering 69 goals in 59 games. He fought off Lionel Messi, and Bayern Munich’s Frank Ribery, to win his second Ballon d’Or trophy. Ronaldo took to the stage and received the illustrious trophy from the legend himself, Pele.

People often criticize Cristiano, diving being one of the things he gets hate about. It’s been more noticeable this year though, that he has matured, and focused more on playing his Football and scoring goals. That’s what he does. The diving for sure has definitely been cut out.

Was it a deserved win? Yes, of course, in my opinion. Ronaldo this year, was by far the best player in the world, by far. The competition from Ribery was very little, as he was nominated through the winnings of trophies he had won with Munich, which is more a team thing, than an individual thing. Messi has a top year, although injury hampered his chances of making it 5 in a row for the little Argentine.

Can Ronaldo win it again this year? For sure he can win it again this year. He just needs to carry on the incredible form that he had in 2013. The World Cup is this year, and big, big performances in the tournament could be a factor in winning it. Messi will come back even stronger this year, and he’ll want the the title he had won for the previous 4 years, back with him. 

My predictions for the 3 nominations for the 2014 Ballon d’Or? Ronaldo, Messi, and potentially Suarez. Suarez being nominated would potentially mean that he would be included in the FIFA Team of the Year as well, something a Premier League player hasn’t been included in since 2011, when Manchester United duo, Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic, made it into the team. Suarez might be seen as a “wrong” nomination, but I believe if he carries on his incredible form, helps Liverpool into the Champions League, and starts to rip teams apart in Europe, then he has every chance.

September 2013 World Cup Qualifiers: A Global Preview

September 2013 World Cup Qualifiers: A Global Preview

EUROPE – UEFA

Group A: Belgium and Croatia are flying, with the second-placed Croats nine points clear of third-placed Serbia, with Scotland and Wales further back. Belgium have won all their games apart from a 1-1 home draw with Croatia, and are already assured of at least a playoff spot. Despite that, Belgium are only three points ahead of Croatia, and the two play a massive qualifier in Zagreb on Tuesday. The winner should take the group, the loser should be in the playoffs. A draw works for Belgium.

Group B: Italy are large and in charge, four points clear at the top of the group. They play second-placed Bulgaria on Friday in a big game, Italy make direct qualification a formality with two wins, while Bulgaria need points to stay ahead of third-placed Czech Republic, who are a single point out of the playoff place. The Czech’s play Italy on Tuesday, whoever can take a point off Italy could gain the upper-hand in the battle for second. Meanwhile, Armenia and Denmark are in serious peril, three points off second place. Denmark need to beat Malta, and beat Armenia on Tuesday to give themselves hope and take revenge for a 4-0 drubbing at home in the reverse fixture against the Armenians. If they don’t take six points, Denmark will be headed for the biggest disappointment of Morten Olsen’s 14 years in charge.

Group C: Germany are steamrolling their way towards Brazil, as Jogi Lowe’s side looks to build on a comfortable five point lead atop Group C. The battle for second is a quagmire, with three nations on 11 points. Sweden, Austria, and Ireland all missed out on South Africa, and all come into these qualifiers with intense pressure. Surprisingly, Austria have looked the most impressive of the three sides, with a far superior goal difference to Sweden and Ireland. But it’s Austria who get Germany in this round, while Sweden get Kazakhstan. All the other games involving these sides are against each other, and Ireland face a make or break week, with games against both Austria and Sweden. The Austrians have the easiest path to the playoffs, but it’s six to five and pick ‘em when predicating who will have a chance to go back to the World Cup.

Group D: The Netherlands are all but in, and can clinch qualification if things go their way in this round of fixtures. Second-place seems to be a battle between Hungary and Romania, who are on 11 and 10 points respectively. The two nations play in Bucharest on Tuesday, and the winner is in pole position for the playoffs – still, don’t count out Turkey just yet. Frequent manager Fatih Terim, the current Galatasatary manager, has just been reappointed to revive the Turks sagging campaign. The man who guided Turkey to the semi-finals of Euro 2008 takes over a team three points out of the playoff position. They have more talent than either Hungary or Romania, Terim can pull it all together.

Group E: In by far the weakest qualifying group, perennial good-luck side Switzerland have the inside track to automatic qualification, four points clear atop the group. The Swiss are surprisingly trailed by Albania, who are bidding to make their first major tournament ever. The region’s Cinderella has Iceland on their tails, along with Norway. Slovenia, who acquitted themselves well in 2010, are just about out of the running. Switzerland are feeling good, but things could move in the coming days in the race for second. Whoever makes the playoffs, they won’t be favorite to win the playoff.

Group F: There is intrigue at the top of this group, a three-way drag-race between Portugal, Russia, and outsiders Israel. Portugal, who haven’t missed a World Cup since 1998, but had to go through the playoffs in 2010, are leading the group with 14 points, but they have a game in hand on their two rivals. Russia, managed by Fabio Capello, sank to a disappointing defeat at Northern Ireland in their last qualifier, but they still control their own destiny with a window to an automatic berth. Israel also control their own destiny, heady times for a side that has never played in a World Cup. The three only face off in one match in the coming break, Israel and Russia on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. Of the three nations, only two can move on. Portugal and Russia have the talent, but it would be unwise to count out the feisty Israelis.

Group G: There are two clear favorites in a settled Group G: Bosnia and Herzegovina for automatic qualification, and Greece, right in the mix again, for the playoff spot. Bosnia are on 16 points, with an impressive 5-0-1 record, while Greece are four points clear on third-placed Slovakia, three points off the pace at the top. If both teams take care of business, they’ll finish first and second. Bosnia have talent, they could be a force in Brazil, and as countless teams will attest, Greece know how to navigate a major tournament.

Group H: England expects – to qualify, at least. The Three Lions are two points out of first place in Group H, trailing the recently-severed-from-Serbia Montenegro. England does have a game in hand on the leaders, but they’ll most likely have to play it without Wayne Rooney. Also in the mix is Ukraine, one point behind England, three behind Montenegro. Ukraine and England play a huge game in Kiev on Tuesday, while Poland, who are disappointingly sagging in fourth, can revitalize their campaign by beating Montenegro on Friday. It’s a competitive group, one that England will do well to win, even with their obvious edge in talent and prestige.

Group I: The one group in Europe with only five teams has two good ones out in front of qualifying. Spain lead on 11 points, while France sit on 10. The pressure is on Spain to win all their remaining games and relegate the French back into the playoffs, and with games against Finland, Belarus and Georgia remaining, the defending champions of the world are a good bet to take nine points and book their trip. France have to win out and hope Spain slip, otherwise, they’ll have to go through the playoffs

IMPOSTERS TRY TO COMPLETE ANDER HERRERA DEAL ON MAN UTD’S BEHALF

One of the strangest moments of transfer deadline day (or this window’s Odemwingie, if you prefer) was the news that imposters claiming to represent Manchester United had attempted to sign Ander Herrera on their behalf.

Apparently, one of the quirks of the compulsory buy-out clauses in all Spanish football contracts is that, if you want to activate one, you have to visit La Liga’s headquarters in person with your cheque for the full amount.

That’s what it appeared Manchester United were doing last night in order to activate Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera’s €36m release clause.

As Spanish journalist Guillem Balague reports in the video above, there were people at the Spanish league’s offices for an hour yesterday evening to discuss the Herrera move, but they later left without lodging their cheque and citing “bureaucratic problem”.

But it later emerged that the people involved were not representatives of United or Ahtletic.

The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor explained: “I think we’re going to hear a lot more about this in the coming days. The details are a bit sketchy but I’ve just had it confirmed from Old Trafford that the people who were in Spain, apparently negotiating on their behalf for Ander Herrera, were not sent there by the club and can accurately be described as ‘imposters’.

“Who on earth they were, no idea. But clearly they were trying to get in on the deal and it has ended in embarrassment for everyone. I get the feeling United are furious.

“Their official explanation is that they simply couldn’t persuade Bilbao to bring down the buyout clause and it was as straightforward as that (even though there is a clause, it doesn’t mean the potential buyer has to meet it). However, there have clearly been all sorts of fun and games going on in the background and it’s an embarrassment, to say the least.”

Kaka – The forgotten man

He cost €65 million in the summer of 2009 and was dubbed the closest thing to Zidane, but why has everyone forgotten about the graceful midfielder?

Having signed for AC Milan in the summer of 2003 from São Paulo for a measly €8.5 million, the Brazilian playmaker went on to make 270 appearances for Milan, scoring 95 goals and getting 45 assists, in the process cementing himself as one of the best players in the world.

He lead his side to Champions League success, as well as a Serie A title and along the way picking up UEFA Club Footballer of the year, FIFPro World Player of the year and a Ballon d’Or.

It was at this point where Real Madrid decided to move for Kaka, after deciding against a move to Manchester City in January 2009, it was that summer when he finally got his big money move.

He became the worlds most expensive player, only to be eclipsed in the same summer by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The move though, turned out to be the downward slope of Kaka’s career, with injuries plaguing his time at the Bernabeu, restricting him to just 112 appearances in four seasons, with 27 goals and 31 assists.

The 30-year-old really was the closest thing to Zidane the world of football had seen in recent years, his touch, his skill, his physique, power, pace, he had the lot, and without injuries would still be in the top 5 players in the world at the moment.