Friday, July 19, 2013

The demise of Wesley Sneijder

It's the summer of 2010, Wesley Sneijder has just completed a historic treble with Inter Milan under the guidance of Jose Mourinho and finds himself facing Spain at the World Cup Final in South Africa. This could be it. With 5 goals already to his name, and sharing the top goalscorer spot at the World Cup with 3 strikers, Sneijder could finally prove to the world that he truly is the best player on the planet in 2010.

60 minutes gone, Wesley Sneijder gets possession of the ball and slices through a brilliant pass to Arjen Robben. One on one with Iker Casillas. A Robben goal from a Sneijder pass would be the icing on the cake for the former Real Madrid rejects, but the Spanish captain comes out on top and makes a vital save. Spain go on to win the game 1-0 in extra-time and lift the World Cup. From that moment onward, Wesley Sneijder's career has been one of the most bizarre demises in this day and age.

He was being spoken about as the favorite to lift the Ballon D'Or trophy in 2010, instead he didn't even make the top 3 as he had to watch Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi enjoy the spoils. 
He was linked heavily with a move to Manchester United that summer which ultimately led to him signing a contract extension at the San Siro. However, little did we know it at the time, Mourinho's departure from Inter that same summer would have a huge effect on his future.

Couple of years down the line, a lot of partying, a lot of smoking, several injuries and some private trips without informing the club; Inter Milan decided to renegotiate his contract and offer him a lower salary than what he was already earning. That obviously didn't work and the club tried its best to get rid of him unsuccessfully. Fast forward to the start of the 2012/13 season and Sneijder barely makes any appearances (8 games) for the club. He's often training alone. He's often critical of the club and vice versa, before he eventually gets shipped off to Galatasaray in January. His fiery character, short temper and refusal to accept his own decline (very much of his own making, aside from the injuries) got the better of him and he's now on the comeback trail in Istanbul alongside Didier Drogba. As the famous meme goes "that escalated quickly". In football terms, it took him less than 2 years to completely go from hero to zero.

However, with this being a World Cup year, we shouldn't put it past Sneijder making a sensational return to the spotlight for the right reasons. He's still only 29 years old and this should be the peak of his career. But 17 appearances for Galatasaray since January (only 3 of which he finished the full 90 minutes), 4 goals and 1 assist doesn't impress anyone and Sneijder himself will know he has to do better than that if he wants to get anywhere near what he achieved in 2010.

He's apparently seeing an osteopath (recommended by Drogba) to sort out his physical issues and is on a heavy fitness regime in an attempt to get back to the peak of his powers for the World Cup next year. Could it possibly happen? A fully fit and effective Sneijder leading the Dutch to the World Cup in Brazil? Well, not really, because in the meantime Louis Van Gaal (Holland's coach) has stripped the captaincy off of him and given it to his arch-rival and hated Dutch team-mate Robin Van Persie...a player he's publicly claimed to dislike and not get along with due to a dispute over a free-kick during Euro 2008 against Russia. This could be the bitterest pill to swallow for Sneijder, but Van Gaal has a reputation for riling up players to perform better and this could be the biggest incentive for Wesley to do the unthinkable. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Reasons why Fabregas probably won't sign for Manchester United

Rumors have been rife lately that Manchester United are looking to sign Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona after missing out on Thiago. Here are a bunch of reasons why this move will NOT happen:

  • Aside from being a Barca boy through and through, in England Fabregas loves only Arsenal (though that means nothing in football nowadays). But more importantly, Arsenal love Fabregas and probably have a first refusal option involving any deal of Fabregas leaving Barcelona. If there was a potential for him to return to England, Arsenal would break the bank to take him back.
  • Why exactly would Fabregas leave a club he pushed so incredibly hard to join?
  • According to reports, Manchester United have offered  £26 million for Fabregas. Exactly why Barcelona would accept such a fee for a player they signed a couple of years ago for an estimated fee of close to 34 million doesn't make sense.
  • Barcelona just sold one of their key midfield men. Why would they sell another one? And especially such an effective one. Fabregas was involved in at least 22 goals for Barcelona last season. Let's not forget that, contrary to popular belief, Fabregas started 30 La Liga games. And just for your information, that's more than Xavi, Iniesta, Busquests and even Lionel Messi.
  • If anything Thiago was sold to get first-team football because of a player like Fabregas who is starting quite often.
  • Manchester United never, I repeat never, go public with a rumored bid for a player. Unless something has already been agreed, they won't just start dropping rumors out like this.
  • However, I strongly believe that this rumor was created from people within the club in order to prove that United are still intent on splashing the cash, but it won't be on Cesc. It's going to be on someone else. It was possibly generated in order to force the hand of another club that United are currently negotiating with for a transfer. By putting in a bid for Cesc, it's simply showing the other club in question that United do have other alternatives if they don't get their man at the right price. Modric?
  • The only way this move would make sense is if Rooney was involved in going in the other direction. That could be a possibility.
  • Here's the most important reason why this move won't happen. Fabregas lives in sunny beautiful Barcelona with a Lebanese woman from Meziara (the same town I'm from) who also happens to share the same family name as I do and to whom I am, apparently, related to. No Lebanese woman, especially from Meziara, in her right mind would leave sunny beautiful Barcelona to go and live in rainy, grey, Manchester. It's just not going to happen. Don't believe me? Ask any Lebanese woman out there what she'd choose between both and she certainly will give you a firm answer. She wears the trousers in that sure of that.

    (This article would be absolutely pointless if United go on and sign Cesc...but the price will definitely have to be much higher than what's being spoken of). 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The biggest fraudster football has ever known

Special thanks to Paul Gorra for sending over this video.

You MUST watch the clip below FULLY. I'm trying to understand how and why this story hasn't gotten the coverage it deserves. This is what happened to Notts County, the oldest football club in the world, when they were taken over by a supposed Middle Eastern "billionaire".

Football is a shady business these days and clubs never know who they can come across. Some institutions like the F.A have a "fit and proper person test" to identify whether or not the people taking over the clubs are actually able to run the clubs - on every possible level, especially financially. But in the case of Notts County, they were faced with someone that no other football club has ever been faced with. A fraudster who stole a football club and broke a bank....

I won't spoil the documentary for you. Watch this. Share this. It deserves a lot more attention that it's ever gotten.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Battle of London’s clubs - who’ll finish highest?

Next season is already shaping up to be the most interesting one in years in the Premier League and with the amount of changes that have occurred during the off-season, it’s no surprise that most of us have started our predictions rather early. Let’s exclude the Manchester clubs from the equation for a little bit and ask ourselves the question: which one of the London clubs is going to finish highest in the league?

With both Manchester clubs under new management regimes, it’s no wonder that Chelsea have been spoken of as favorites to win the title and are being placed at 1/3 to finish as the top London club. But if betting’s your game, then surely placing one on Arsenal at 7/2 is a better call as the London team to finish highest in the league. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they will win the league - though this is their best chance in ages - but that they will finish above Chelsea, Tottenham, Fulham, West Ham and Crystal Palace.

Considering that Arsene Wenger is now the longest-serving manager in the Premier League, there is no other manager in the league with his know-how. He has a significant advantage over other managers in league. David Moyes has the toughest job in football history; Manuel Pelligrini’s new to English football and will need time to fit in; the return of Jose Mourinho will definitely boost Chelsea’s chances of lifting the trophy, but Mourinho today is a different beast to what he once was and so is the Premier League. He will have a huge challenge on his hands and with rumors of numerous changes about to occur at the club, it might be an uncertain season for the “Special One”.

Tottenham’s entire summer seems to have been spent trying to persuade Gareth Bale to stay at the club rather than strengthen their squad. They’ve let David Villa slip from beneath their grasp and have brought in Paulinho - a player who is unproven in Europe and a signing based purely on what AVB wants, rather than what he needs - whereas in truth they need a striker and some depth in their squad.

So it kind of makes it a good reading for Arsenal. Knowing that Chelsea are the favorites to finish as the highest placed London club, surely betting on Arsenal to do so is the more lucrative bet. Arsenal are ready to spend, they had a great finish to their season at the back end of last year and they seem better equipped and positioned to finish above Chelsea and Totteham than ever. Wenger might “know” after all.