Friday, September 30, 2011

Tottenham vs Arsenal: Adebayor takes centre stage

This weekend is the North London derby and that usually means a goal-busting, fight filled, controversial match. It’s usually an entertaining game regardless of the circumstances, but this year, given the fact that Arsenal have had a tough start to their season and are still blending in their new faces to the team, whilst Tottenham are only just finding their feet again, we should expect another goal-fest.

But in my opinion, this game is all about one man: Emmanuel Adebayor. The former Arsenal striker left the club back in the summer of 2009 to join Manchester City and their millions, and subsequently became a hate figure for Arsenal fans. Having spent 2 and half years with the Gunners and endearing himself to their fans (particularly for his performances against Tottenham, scoring 8 times in 9 appearances in all competitions and moments like this – click here) his move to City was greeted with anger by Arsenal fans.

However, when City faced Arsenal at the then “City of Manchester stadium”, they beat his former club 4-2 and Adebayor scored two goals, the first of which will be remembered for a very longtime indeed. It’s a moment he has recently apologized for, but one which exemplifies the raw emotions that footballers feel in the heat of the moment. He was suspended for it, but I thought it was one of the best celebrations of all-time. Running the length of the pitch to annoy his former fans, who had been taunting him all game. He got one back over them and it infuriated them. Such feelings and emotions are part of the game, and we should embrace moments like those and not punish players for them. (click here to see it)

However, Adebayor is a changed man now he says. Following the ambush on the Togo national team’s bus which left a few members on that bus dead or injured in January 2010, Adebayor’s form and career was put on hold. Unable to play and perform to his usual standard, he was out of the picture at City. It wasn’t until January 2011, when he moved on loan to Real Madrid, that the Togolese striker started looking like his old self again. This past summer, he was loaned out again by City, but to Tottenham and this weekend he faces his former club again, Arsenal.

Arsenal, still rebuilding their team following the sales of Nasri and Fabregas, will look at this game as the perfect opportunity to tell the whole of England and Europe that they are back on track. They’ve won their last 3 games in row in all competitions, the first time they’ve done that since February of this year, and will hope to continue to build on their form this weekend. People are still calling them a club in crisis, whereas I still believe they’ll conjure up enough points to finish in the top 4 again. On the weekend of Wenger's 15th year at the club, he faces one of his toughest tests.

Tottenham, on the other hand, boosted by the recent arrivals of Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor have started looking a bit more consistent than usual. Following their 5-1 loss at White Hart lane against Manchester City, they’ve been undefeated for the whole month of September in all competitions. They’re starting to look like the team that people considered a threat for the title once more and their players are looking sharp again. Their fluidity seems to be returning as their star players are beginning to perform again.

Both teams are gradually picking up some form and will both be going for it. It should be end to end stuff at White Hart Lane again as these two clubs are not recognized for sitting back. But one man who will desperate again to make his mark is Adebayor. He’s looking dangerous once more and Arsenal’s new look defence will have to keep him quiet if they want to get anything out of this game. Expect a flood of goals and a lot of entertainment. It’s the North London Derby again.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The sOccket - the idea that will give more people access to Footballs...and electricity!

Every once in a while comes an invention that blows our minds away. This is one of those moments and I’m proud to have gotten the chance to get glimpse of the minds behind this incredible invention. It is called the “sOccket”.

It’s a Football, that is an eco-friendly portable generator. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Basically the more you kick the ball, the more energy is stored within the ball which is then used as an actual socket to plug a device...into the ball. It’s a genius idea, and one that should, hopefully, reach all corners of the globe. I had the chance to ask the team of "sOccket" a few questions and here’s what they had to say:

TFS: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few of our questions. We’re really in awe about this whole project and we do hope it can go on to greater heights. To start off, could you give us a short brief about how the sOccket idea came about?

sOccket: The idea for sOccket came out of an Engineering Class at Harvard University in the fall of 2008, where Uncharted Play co-founders Julia Silverman and Jessica Matthews were part of a group tasked with creating a "massively multiplayer game."  After a few false starts, they stumbled upon an idea to address the energy needs of the developing world using the most popular game of all: SOCCER. And so sOccket - the soccer ball generator - was born.

TFS: What are the long term goals of SOccket?

The long term goals are to produce and distribute the ball to children in resource poor communities around the world in order to spread power access, hope, and happiness.
TFS: Do you think at any point that SOccket balls will be played with by professional footballers in professional leagues? If yes, why? If no, why not?

The sOccket has several crucial differences from a regular soccer ball:
a)  It stores electricity -   obviously, normal balls are not portable generators!  The mechanism inside the ball makes the balance and weight distribution of the sOccket different from a game ball.
b)  It has extremely high durability -   the sOccket is designed to be played with in all conditions around the world, not just the green grass of a normal soccer field.  Because of this, we decided to make the ball out of very durable foam paneling, which allows the sOccket to last for 5 to 10 years instead of just a couple weeks.  Our ball is also water-resistant - rain or shine, the sOccket power can’t be stopped! 

c) It is designed with resource poor areas in mind -  Most children around the world do not have a real ball to play soccer with.  Instead, they use whatever is available, like a bundle of plastic bags, an empty bottle, or a piece of garbage.  While professional players will be able to notice the difference between a regulation ball and a sOccket, the children in need around the world will not mind the difference in weight distribution.

d)  It doesn't require inflation -   Since many children do not have access to pumps, we designed the sOccket to be "permanently inflated"!  Of course this causes difference in the pressure and feeling of the ball.
These four important differences mean that the sOccket is constructed very differently than any other soccer ball you've ever seen.  As a result, it is unlikely the sOccket would ever be approved for regulation game play, but we know that everyone will love playing with the ball outside the stadium!
TFS: Who’s your target in specific? Why?
sOccket: Our "end users" are children in resource-poor areas as they are often most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of "energy poverty" (ie, a lack of access to electricity).  The sOccket can replace kerosene lamps, which spew poisonous smoke that is bad for the body and the environment.  With a little extra electricity, children can spend a bit more time on school work after dark without having to expose themselves to dangerous power alternatives.  Additionally, the sOccket concept illustrates to youth that imagination has a place in our world today, and we hope that the ball will inspire them to think creatively about how to address the challenges in their own communities through innovation.
TFS: Has sOccket been successful thus far in your opinion?
sOccket: Yes, and we still have a lot more that we want to achieve!
TFS: Have you had any big names in the Football world support your project?
Yes!  Some of our major supporters from the soccer world include David Villa, Sergio Ramos, Pepe Reina, Vicente del Bosque, Dani Alves, Kun Aguero, and Julie Foudy. Beyond soccer, our other all-star athlete supporters include Pau Gasol, JM Calderon, Jorge Lorenzo, Fernando Verdasco, and Caroline Wozniacki.
TFS: It feels like sOccket is fulfilling a great deed by giving those in need the chance to play football whilst as well being able to have electricity. But in order to get the sOccket balls, what must people do? Where can we get the balls from? What’s the price etc…
sOccket: Balls will be available to the general public on a "buy one, give one" basis (i.e., when you buy a ball, you are also paying for one to be donated to a child in need).  The balls will hopefully be available online before the end of 2011, and the price will be established closer to the release.
TFS: Is there a plan to expand to all corners of the blog? Obviously Africa is the biggest victim of not having electricity, but what about other regions like the Middle East; are you planning on reaching there?
sOccket: We hope to go everywhere.  We don't have any sort of geographic restrictions in place.
TFS: SOccket is the first of its kind in the world, but what happens if other “bigger” brands that create Footballs come up take up a similar idea and promote it to the world?
We have worked hard to protect our intellectual property, and we are on good terms with many major sports brands, so we hope that this does not become an issue.
TFS: Lastly, how can we, the general audience, help the project succeed as a whole?
Once our store is up and running you can buy and/or donate a ball! 

I encourage all our readers to support this cause as it's a noble, courageous and daring one. Have a look at their website:
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Carlos Tevez refuses to play - what next?

Last night while Manchester City were being taught a footballing lesson by the German giants Bayern Munich, we witnessed something that, as Graeme Souness said, “makes you understand why the man on the street hates the modern footballer”. City being outplayed and outclassed required a change and took off Edin Dzeko, who himself was frustrated to come off and showed his anger upon leaving the pitch, but just as they were ready to make their second substitute to bring on Carlos Tevez, the Argentinian striker refused to come on. That’s right. Refused!

Now, this story is making headlines all over the place and rightly so, and I can’t get my head around the idea. Here is a footballer, who is reportedly the highest paid player in the Premier League and earning over £200,000/week to kick a ball and he’s refusing to do his job because he was unhappy at being on the bench in the first place supposedly. Poor man!

Every single time he’s joined a club he has sulked, pushed his way out of it and acted like a proper fool once he hits the two year mark with the club so City should have known what was coming. With Corinthians (2005 - 2006) towards the end of his time there, he refused to play in order to push his move to West Ham (sounds familiar?). At West Ham (2006 - 2007), Tevez  had a fantastic season with the Hammers only to push his way out and force a move to Manchester United. At Old Trafford (2007-2009), having lost his place in the side to Dimitar Berbatov, and despite the club meeting the valuation mark to keep him at the club, he stated that he no longer wanted to play for the club and preferred moving right across the city to Manchester City. At Eastlands (2009 -  2011?), Tevez was the key to City’s new-found success, but having lost his place to Dzeko and Aguero at different stages of his City career, handed in a transfer request and was subsequently offered a new contract to stay. Tevez expressed his love for the club (obviously, who wouldn’t love being paid £200,000/week) and said he would fulfill his contract…only to then mope again and refuse to come on as a sub in their match vs Bayern Munich almost a year later. Hmmm, where have we heard this before?

We’ve heard him complain that he’s far from his family and his daughters who are living in Argentina so he’s struggling to cope with life in England. But wait, wasn’t he on the brink of a move to Brazil in the summer? Doesn’t sound like Argentina to me. When Tevez was offered the new contract by City, the club should have known what they were getting. He was already complaining that he wanted to leave and his past has proven that he doesn’t care about the clubs he’s played for. For a player being paid that kind of money to refuse to do his job, just because he doesn’t want to (and because he’s a bit of a drama queen), just goes to show how much power the players have. With such salaries being thrown around Europe at top players to join top clubs, there was bound to be a moment in time when the player stuck the finger up his boss’ face to say he doesn’t want to do what he’s told. The thing is though that this time Manchester City can do something about it and for the first time ever, I hope they do, because it will be a message to all Footballers. City have the money that clubs around the world could only dream of having and with that comes the power to overcome the “player power” which has put Clubs at the mercy of Players.  

If they sack him, then he’ll just join another club on a free and City will make no benefit. If they decide to sell him (which they can’t now until January), no club can match the wages he has at City, so that’s non-starter. What I hope they do is stick him in the reserves or with the youth team or something like that. Maybe even loan him out to a small club in the lower leagues. Punish him and remind him that he’s under contract at the club and that with the power and money they have, they can afford to lose 200k/week while the player rots in the shadows. It wouldn't be a message to Tevez, but to all Footballers that they are employees at the end of the day. I’ve never wished more for a player to fail, be injured, be punished or completely get destroyed in the way I do for Carlos Tevez. Not only because of the way he treats the clubs he leaves, but because the t**t earns more money in a month than my entire family and probably all the readers of this blog combined, and yet he refuses to do his job, which should be a joy to do.

To watch him sulk,
click here

Monday, September 26, 2011

Owen Hargreaves' comeback

Owen Hargreaves joined Manchester City on a free transfer on the final day of the transfer window this summer after being released by Manchester United at the end of last season. A surprising move for the few Football fans around who noticed the move, but also a disappointing one for Manchester United fans. Owen Hargreaves has had a less than unfortunate run of injuries over the past three years, and no one could have believed with all his injury problems that he would be back playing football again.

His injuries had plagued his time at Old Trafford. He joined Manchester United in the summer of 2007 from Bayern Munich (where he had spent his entire career previously) and contributed immensely during his first season there by helping the club achieve a Premier League and Champions League double. One of the rare English players to commence his career in another league, his return back home was one that was appreciated by most English supporters and especially by Manchester United supporters who believed they finally found the natural successor to Roy Keane. However, the love story stopped right there.

It was at the start of his second season, 2008-2009, that Hargreaves’ injury problems became his worst nightmare. A knee injury called “Patellar tendinitis” kept him out of the game for over two years. It’s the sort of injury that inflates your knee by overusing it (I don’t know if that’s a sign of how much effort Hargreaves used to put in while playing, or how weak his knees were – I would believe it’s the former). He underwent surgery several times with knee specialist Richard Steadman, the doctor responsible for saving the careers of many athletes, and even Steadman admitted that in his 35 years of handling knees that he had never witnessed a case like Hargreaves. Time after time, having battled through his injuries on his way to fitness, he’d get injured again. Every single time he would be on the brink of a return, his knee would blow again. For United fans and for Hargreaves it was frustrating, especially as he was a player that would be perfect in United midfield.

I was at Old Trafford in November 2010, when Wolves were the visitors and what was supposed to be the fairytale comeback for the Canadian-born midfielder. Once his name was announced in the line-up the whole stadium cheered and sang his name, as Hargreaves, for all his injury worries, was very much loved by the Old Trafford faithful. In that game however, he suffered what proved to be the final blow in his Manchester United career as that was his final game for the club. A hamstring injury within six minutes of his 2 year-long awaited comeback. Down, out, injured, written off, perma-crock, forgotten – Owen Hargreaves. It couldn’t have happened to nicer fellow as he always seemed like one of the rare down-to-earth footballers. As the season ended, his contract was not renewed by United and his desperation to succeed was summed up by the fact that he offered to play for free for the club, but to no avail. Without a club and without much hope, Hargreaves turned to Youtube to save his career as no club was willing to take the risk on him.
Posting videos of himself training and doing some exercises in the gym to prove he was in good physical condition again rang a few alarms with Leicester City, West Brom and Fulham all confirming an interest in him. But it wasn’t until deadline day when moneybags Manchester City came in with an offer that Hargreaves found hope again. A surprising move more than anything else, but this was his chance. Nobody would have expected him to make a move to a club that's challenging for major honors. This move was a blow in the face for United fans, because had he moved to any other club, pretty much every United fan would have kept a positive eye out for Hargreaves. Having supported him and sang his name for 3 years, despite his absence from the team, making the move to City (or any challenging neighbors) and accusing United of mishandling him during his injury trauma is the type of blow that gets a United fan (or any football fan) disappointed .

But in this case, I believe the move is understandable. Hargreaves has moved to resurrect his career and to play the game again. What were supposed to be his peak years were spent on the treatment table, so a move to any “top” club would have been preferable for Hargreaves. This is especially a winning situation for City. They signed the player on a free, he is on a pay-as-you-play contract and he’s got a lot to prove, so the club benefits from his efforts (obviously no financial risk will fall upon City anytime soon either), and if he stays fit it will make the move worthwhile; whereas for Hargreaves it is a second chance to play football at the highest level again for a club that has a large squad and competing in the Champions League, a chance to stay in the same city, to stay in the same league and to train alongside some top footballers. He can't be blamed for it. His long awaited comeback game was finally complete last week when he made his Manchester City debut in the Carling cup. 57 minutes played without any injury or setback. Hargreaves is back and by the looks of it, he hasn’t lost his touch either, with a goal to welcome back his return (click here). It's the sort of story that has a bitter sweet taste to it as it's painful to watch any ex-United player in a City shirt, but I do wish him the best of luck...but the worst of luck on Manchester City.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Top 10 worst misses ever

On Sunday, we witnessed Fernando Torres miss a golden opportunity to put Chelsea back into the game versus Manchester United. It’s a miss that will be replayed over and over again, until the man himself gets sick of it. It’s a shame because he probably had his best performance in over a year during the remainder of the game, but that’ll be easily forgotten because of THAT miss.

But was it the worst one of all time? I can think of quite a few that are possibly and probably much worse than Torres’, and today, thanks to “El Nino” (do people still call him that?), we’re going to have a tribute to some of the best misses ever. These are chances that our grandparents would probably stick into the net.
Ryan Giggs vs Arsenal:
It was back during the time when Manchester United vs Arsenal was still widely regarded as one of Europe’s biggest clashes. It still is, but to a much lesser extent. With this 2003 FA Cup match still tied at 0-0, Giggs latched on to a long ball and beat both the defender and the keeper. With an open goal in front of him, he somehow, uncharacteristically, blasted the ball over the bar – and Arsenal went on to win 2-0 at Old Trafford. (click here)

Nwankwo Kanu vs MIddlesborough:
West Brom were fighting a relegation battle that season in 2003-2004, and any point at that time would do for them to be one step closer to safety. With barely time left on the clock and West Brom piling on the pressuring to equalize as they were 2-1 down, Kanu found himself unmarked and one yard away from an open net. As the ball came straight to his feet, the Nigerian striker unbelievably looped it over the bar. (click here)

Diego Forlan vs Juventus:
It was a friendly in the USA in the summer of 2003, and even though Manchester United ran out victors comfortably, Diego Forlan kept up with his reputation of missing chances while playing for United. He had come on as a substitute during the game and found himself in front of an empty net thanks to a blooper in Juventus’ defence. The rest was typical Forlan back in the days. (click here)

Freddie Ljunberg vs Bolton:
Arsenal were playing some of the best football in Europe at the time and were feared all across England. During this 2005 FA Cup tie vs Bolton which Arsenal comfortably won 1-0, Arsenal were going for a second in the dying minutes of the game, when a great team move was put to waste by the Swedish midfielder’s inexplicable miss. (click here)

Fahad Khalfan vs Uzbekistan:
November 2010, a match between Qatar and Uzbekistan during the Asian games saw quite possibly the greatest miss of all-time. The difference between this miss and all the others is, that this player has never played for a top team or in a top league, and probably never will. He became famous worldwide for this miss, and for the rest of his career (and until the end of time probably) he will ONLY be remembered for this miss. I would rate this as my personal favorite. Khalfan, I salute you. (click here) 
Yakubu Ayegbeni vs South Korea:
Nigeria were battling in their World Cup group game vs South Korea as they had let their lead slip and were down 2-1. As they moved forward, Yakubu found himself all alone in the six yard box once the pass had come from the left hand side, but somehow missed. The irony is that a couple of minutes later he scored from the penalty spot and drew the game level at 2-2, which is how it finished. Had he converted that chance, Nigeria would have qualified from the group stages, instead they left South Africa early. (click here)

Jakub Blaszczykowski vs Freiburg:
I struggled writing his name and I think that’s as much as I know about this match. Seems it was the dying minutes, and Borussia Dortmund were already leading 2-1 in a match they went on to win, when their Polish winger decided it was time to aim for some birds in the stands. No other explanation is possible. (click here)

Chris Iwelumo vs Norway:
It was a World Cup qualifier between Scotland and Norway at Hampden Park which ended 0-0. That makes this miss all the more horrible. The funniest thing about this miss is the fact that the entire stadium erupted because of the angle, believing that the ball had actually gone in. (click here)

Van Vossen vs Celtic:
Rangers vs Celtic is one of the most passionate and hateful derbies in the world. You don’t mess about during these games. So when Peter Van Vossen of Rangers had an empty net in from of him to score during this 1-0 Rangers victory, he should have just tapped it home. Instead, his nerves got the better of him and he’s always remembered at Rangers for this, rather than anything else. (click here)

Fernando Torres vs Manchester United:
I’ll just put this one in here for good measure. You all know what happened, so enjoy it. (click here)

(Note: none of these videos belong to me, they are the property of their rightful owners who posted them on Youtube).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The View - Atletico Madrid vs Celtic

(This is a new segment of the blog. Anytime I, or any of the future writers, go to games, an article will be written about our experience at the game. Biased as it may be, this segment is called “The View” and once the website is updated – which is soon by the way – then it’ll have its own little corner on it. It doesn’t have to be a match report, but rather like a whole game experience type of thing).

Alongside a very good friend of mine, who is a Real Madrid supporter, we got tickets for Atletico Madrid’s first Europa league match of the season vs Celtic. It was my first game at a Spanish stadium and I had been told previously that Atletico Madrid supporters usually create a good atmosphere at the stadium, contrarily to their fashionable neighbors across the city. The game was initially supposed to be versus FC Sion (Cup Winners in Switzerland) but because Sion had fielded ineligible players during the qualification phase, they were disqualified from the competition by UEFA as a punishment, and Celtic (who had lost to Sion during the qualifications) were re-instated instead.

Walking to the Vicente Calderon stadium is a bit different to other stadiums I’ve been to. There was a very positive and familial atmosphere to the whole thing. There wasn’t the flood of people I’m used to seeing when I go to other games; and everyone seemed so relaxed. No tension, no pressure, easy and happy – typical Spanish. Pretty much every Atletico supporter was wearing red; not only Atletico’s red. I saw quite a few supporters wearing Liverpool jerseys with “9 – Torres” at the back. There were fans wearing jerseys of the recent stars that left the club - Forlan, De Gea and Aguerro. Very few supporters were actually wearing jerseys of the current squad or the current jersey.

The Celtic fans’ reputation preceded their arrival, as their every move was being closely monitored by the Spanish police. I felt almost sorry for them, as they had been allocated only 1500 tickets for the game and I think there must have been 150 at most at the game. At one point a Spanish speaking Celtic fan walked in between the whole sea of red of Atletico Madrid fans and all of sudden, in less than 30 seconds, there were 2 police vans surrounding the poor fellow. He hadn’t done anything wrong and yet he was being surrounded by everyone and everything as if he had committed a crime. Fair enough, he was completely drunk, but he was still a harmless old 60-something year old Scotsman. A bit of an overreaction by the police (either that or they were really bored and looking for some action).

When we walked into the stadium, I got that killer feeling some of us Football fans get when we walk up the stairs into a stadium only to see the grass and all the people appear all around us. It’s difficult to explain why something so simplistic affects us so stupidly – but I love it. Every single time I go to a game and that moment arrives, I get the goosebumps all over (except when I went to Stamford Bridge for some reason). The seats and infrastructure at the Vicente Calderon Stadium are so old that it gives it a special feeling. None of the new corporate or commercial nonsense we see at other more popular grounds. Even the food & beverage areas are old (not what you consume though!).

The game itself wasn’t very entertaining and just proved to me why Scottish football is so far behind the rest of Europe. Their players looked like a bunch of amateurs and many of them looked overweight. James Forrest and Gary Hooper mainly looking overweight (either that or their shirts were huge) and tumbling over a few times. The Altetico fans made all the noise, of course, and despite the stadium not being full there were some glimpses of what their fans are capable of during a bigger game; though it wasn’t as noisy as I’d expected. Only a section dedicated to their “Ultras” was bouncing and singing for the entire 90 minutes. Their chants, like most chants, were to the same tunes we hear in England or France, and those “Ultras” seemed to be having a blast. The rest of the supporters were cheerful, but not too noisy.

Atletico got off to a flying start with Falcao, their new Columbian striker, scoring with a header from a Diego corner kick in the 3rd minute to give Atletico the lead. You’d expect Celtic to conjure up some sort of reaction, but they barely kept possession of the ball for more than 20 seconds to do so. Atletico’s midfield was extremely tight and run by the Brazilian maestro Diego, who was by far the best player on the pitch, and the ball-winning number 4, Mario Suarez. Very little chances were created during the first half besides a few long distance efforts by the home side, but the second half looked a bit brighter as Celtic did try and actually play football (as opposed to running like headless chickens in the first half). Itt didn’t count for much though as Diego showed up to kill any hopes of Celtic doing anything. His performance deserved a goal and in the second half he got his reward for his constant efforts with a neat move which he started and finished off. His class was clear for all to see with long balls and tricks that most of team-mates weren’t even ready for. I get the feeling that he’ll be able to blossom properly with his new Atletico team-mates. 
The game ended 2-0 to Atletico Madrid and it wasn’t much a contest from the start. The difference in class was evident as Celtic’s fans had only their chants and some booze to keep their spirits up. It was a great experience regardless of the competitively of the game. It’s the first game of the group phase and you can already tell that Celtic won’t qualify. But all in all, it was a good first Spanish stadium experience. I will be glad to return to the Vicente Calderon stadium to watch games again in the future. Not only because of the Spanish ambiance which makes you appreciate the footballing culture they have there, but also because in Madrid, unlike in some other parts of Europe (England, hmm hmm)  – you can drink alcohol at the stadium!
(for Highlights of the game, click here)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Transfer Window - Best & Worst

As the transfer window closed last night (finally!), we’ll take a look back at some of the transfers that have taken place. Now, these are purely based on my personal opinion, so I’m pretty sure that most of you would disagree and I’m also pretty sure I’ll miss quite a few because I’m just stating the transfers that I’ve heard of during this European transfer window. I’ve put a list made up of nothing but some random categories that I’ve come up with, but which I think make sense. For some of the categories there are several options, whereas for some, I could only think of one option. You can help me out if you think of anything else, but here they are…

Best Deal of the summer:
Juan Mata to Chelsea for 27 million Euros. In a world where Andy Carroll is worth 40 million Euros, you know that a player of Mata’s ability is worth much more than that, especially for a Chelsea team with ageing midfielders. Not playing for Barca or Real Madrid in Spain is usually a handicap for Spanish players, but now that Mata’s moved abroad he should get the recognition he deserves.

Clubs that have had the best summer:
I don’t know who to choose between the 3 big sugar daddies of Europe. Manchester City with their ability to buy anyone they want and signing many World Class players this summer; Roma, who now have their own sugar daddy and have signed 11 players who are all capable of forming an entire new starting line-up; or Paris St Germain who signed Javier Pastore for 40 million Euros when Europe’s elite were all after him.

Clubs that have had the worst summer:
North London, just like during the riots a few weeks ago, went through a rough time this summer. Arsenal lost several key players during the summer only to replace them at the last minute of the transfer window. Tottenham on the other hand had all their plans halted because of Luka Modric’s sulking for a move to Chelsea – which never happened.

Most admirable move:
Joe Cole to Lille on loan. A few weeks back I wrote about English players not moving abroad, but I also mentioned that I’m pretty sure that an average English footballer would succeed abroad. Joe Cole has become average nowadays, and he’s joined French Champions Lille. Something tells me he’ll do well there, even though it’s only a loan. Keep an eye out for this one.

Worst move:
Mauro Zarate to Inter Milan on loan from Lazio. If he's not good enough to stay at Lazio (or Birmingham City!), how can he be good enough for Inter? A move that makes no sense at all.

Most boring transfer saga:
Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona. Watching paint dry is more fun. I can’t even be bothered to write about this.

Biggest rip-off:
Jordan Henderson – 25 million Euros to Liverpool from Sunderland. How on earth is he worth that much we’ll never know. Quite a big price tag for a player who has only had 2 good months in his entire Premier League career so far. Has a lot to prove.

Biggest gamble:
Owen Hargreaves to Manchester City on a free. It’s only a one-year contract, and for free, but it seems those Youtube videos (click here) of his worked. I’m wondering his knees will get him through the entire season. A World Class player on his day; but it hasn’t been his day for about 3 years. A gamble worth taking - especially when money and salaries is the least of your concerns.

Worth much more than that:
Raul Meireles to Chelsea from Liverpool for 10 million Euros. I don’t get it. Do Liverpool intentionally sell their best players? Or more specifically their creative central midfielders? Xavi Alonso, Yossi Benayoun, and now Meireles… those are 3 very creative players that have left Merseyside on the cheap over the past few years and I still don’t get why. Expect Meireles to work wonders at Chelsea alongside Mata.

Players that should have left but didn’t:
Luka Modric to absolutely nowhere. 25 million, 35 million and then 40 million fees all rejected by Spurs from Chelsea. A message to the rest of the Football world loud and clear - when a player is under a contract, the club decides when, where and who to sell him to, regardless of the player’s desires. Modric can sulk all he wants. He’s staying at Spurs for now.

Wesley Sneijder to absolutely nowhere. Inter need the money, and Eto’o’s move to Russia helped them on that end. Sneijder could have moved absolutely anywhere he wanted to this summer, and should have, but he decided to stay in Milan. Shame.

Biggest “WTF just happened” transfer:
Samuel Eto’o to Anzhi Makhachkala (or something like that). Money talks. He'll be earning 20.5 million Euros a season. Approximately $500,000 a week. Life is sad.

Best last minute moves:
Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun to Arsenal. Why did it take Arsenal so long to react in the transfer market? Was it the brutal defeat at Old Trafford which caused it? Regardless of those questions, Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun will fit in perfectly in at the Emirates stadium and in particular with Arsenal’s style of play.

Most random move of the summer:
Craig Bellamy to Liverpool for free. No one would have expected this move at the start of the summer. He left Liverpool a few years back with a bang. Literally. Bashing a golf club into the face of his former team-mate John Arne Riise. A chaotic player with bags of talent, he should do well under Kenny Daglish. Not unless he decides to smash someone’s face again.

The “he’s still got it” moves:
Ruud Van Nistelrooy to Malaga, I’m expecting him to finish top scorer in Spain, behind the obvious two. Andrea Pirlo to Juventus on a free, unbelievable player who will give Juve the sort of stability they crave for in the midfield (why didn't anyone else go for him). Miroslav Klose to Lazio on a free. That’s right, he’s not finished yet, and I expect the German to bang them in for fun in Italy, as he always had.