Monday, 31 December 2012

Bebe Proven Fergie’s Ultimate Flop with Loan Move

Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, is often praised for his shrewd transfer dealings that have brought so much success to Old Trafford over his 26-year tenure.

Rio Ferdinand, Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy, and a young Cristiano Ronaldo all arrived under various levels of scrutiny but rose to become title winners for Ferguson and his Red Devils. Yet, there have been some duds in the Scotsman’s transfer dealings, with Bebe quite possibly his biggest ever mistake.

Bebe, the infamous Portuguese striker brought to Old Trafford for £7.4m, despite Ferguson having never even seen him play, is the manager’s ultimate flop after playing just six games, scoring twice, since arriving in 2010. That is £1.2m a game and £3.7m a goal.

A stint at Besiktas over the 2011/12 season did little to convince Ferguson he was ready for the big time at Old Trafford, and after six months sat on the bench of the reserves, Bebe has finally been moved on – possibly for the last time.

The striker has gone out on loan to Portuguese mid-table side, Rio Ave, and is unlikely ever to return. He will go down as Ferguson’s worst value-for-money signing: worse then Juan Veron, Kleberson, Eric Djemba Djemba, and Diego Forlan. These flops at least showed some signs of ability and flourished outside the Premier League, but Bebe has done nothing, it seems, in his entire career.

So, when United fans in the betting world see their ultimate reserve striker go out on loan this January, they can breathe a huge sigh of relief and good riddance to a real embarrassment to the club.

Ferguson was made to look a mug by the entire Bebe affair and will have learned his lesson from this. It was a PR disaster and proved the manager does not have control over everything at Old Trafford, something Ferguson has stringently resurrected since then.

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Thursday, 27 December 2012

Forest Managerial Change a Farce

And we all thought October was the silly season! The news that Nottingham Forest manager, Sean O’Driscoll, has been sacked just hours after his side engineered an emphatic 4-2 victory over Leeds United on Boxing Day staggered many English football fans, with the finger clearly pointed at chairman, Fawaz Al Hasawi.

Forest’s Christmas could not have gone better after the team rebounded from a 2-0 defeat to Watford at the weekend to defy the odds on Betfair and stun Leeds inside the City Ground – Billy Sharp’s brace firing the home side in front early in the second half.

The stadium was rocking to the sound of victory and festive spirit, yet one man was clearly not in the mood to join in.

“It saddens me but we have parted company with Sean O'Driscoll. A tough decision but we are determined to move our great club forward,” Al Hasawi revealed on his Twitter profile just hours after the full-time whistle.

“[M]ade contact with PL manager tonight. Meeting Thursday,” he concluded, three hours later. Yet while some Forest fans will be eagerly anticipating the arrival of a Premier League manager, the vast majority will still be astounded O’Driscoll has been sacked on Boxing Day.

The surprise isn’t that he was sacked, for Forest have not met expectations this season and have won just two in their past six games, but that it comes right in the middle of the busiest fixture pile-up of the season.

Forest now face high-flying Crystal Palace and a tricky visit to Blackburn within a week and the confidence this squad could have taken from that 4-2 thumping of Leeds would have seen them good into the New Year.

However, as chairman Al Hasawi can do what he likes, and, if he feels he can bring in an experienced manager to spend his resources in January, then who can argue with that? Di Matteo is currently the favourite for the post, according to Betfair.

Sadly, the whole thing still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth during this otherwise very merry Christmas.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Benteke the Inspiration for Improving Villa

Aston Villa and new boss, Paul Lambert endured a difficult start to the Premier League season but there are real signs they are on the up, and fans looking for betting tips should expect a much better second half to the campaign.

When the amiable Scot left Norwich - a job he had excelled in - over the summer to take the reins at Villa Park, he was expected to lead the side up the table after a difficult previous 12 months under old boss, Alex McLeish.

It did not begin like that, though, and plenty were tipping the Midlanders to be involved in the relegation battle for much of the season.

Lacklustre performances, a threadbare, injury-hit squad that was conceding plenty but struggling to find the net at the other end, and the ongoing surprise omission of record signing, Darren Bent, led many to claim it was a club going backwards.

Step forward a certain Christian Benteke - surely one of the signings of the summer - and, suddenly, Villa's fans have a man they believe can lead them to - who knows? - even a place in Europe in 2013.

Benteke has slowly adapted to the demands of the Premier League and the in-form forward is now one of the most feared strikers around.

Seemingly unplayable at his bustling best and able to create goals as well as score them, the Belgian's excellent all-round displays have been one of the highlights of the autumn in the top flight.

His double in the impressive victory at Liverpool in December took his tally for the season to eight in all competitions and his form has justified Lambert's decision to continually leave Bent out of his plans.

For the team as a whole, after a much-improved last few weeks, it now appears Lambert has stamped his mark on a very young side that is now buzzing with confidence.

Bigger tests await for a developing side but Lambert's managerial ability, which was foolishly being questioned early on, should not be underestimated and the future looks bright for Villa - with Benteke leading the way from the front.

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Everton Success is all that matters to Fellaini

Having picked up the Barclays Premier League player of the month award for November, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini has revealed that as happy as he is to receive credit for his individual performances, success on the pitch for his club is far more important to him.

Fellaini has been in inspirational form for Everton this season, bagging 8 goals in the league already, and helping Moyes’ men challenge for the European spots. Fellaini has already had his best goalscoring season for Everton and his performances have certainly warranted the recognition that he has received, but his focus remains on the Toffees’ results.  

"I am very happy with the award but the most important thing is the team” he said. “Everybody wants to play in the Champions League, so everyone is working hard and at the end of the season we want to be in the top four.”

With the departure of Tim Cahill at the end of last season, Fellaini has taken on more of an advanced role and the 25-year old Belgian has certainly revelled in the freedom and the responsibility that he has been offered.

 "At the moment, I am playing well. I try to give my maximum in every game. The manager likes it when I play in attack, so at the moment, it's good for me and the club. I've been scoring the goals and I work hard on the pitch" he added.

If Everton can keep hold of their star player then they will be well placed to end the season in the Champions’ league spots. It is hard to see Fellaini continuing his scoring run all season but his presence in the team should continue to create chances for those around him. If Moyes’ other attacking options can chip in with a few more goals then the Toffees’ will certainly take some stopping as the season goes on.

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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Rafa no Villain - but He's Not Chelsea's Saviour Either

What to make of recent events at Stamford Bridge? Rafa Benitez is on a hiding to nothing after taking the Blues job on an interim basis and, after three games without a win and just one goal, it has now developed into a much more difficult start for him than anyone could have envisaged.

Let us be clear - this appointment is not going to work.

The former Liverpool boss got off to a bad start when the Chelsea fans, unhappy with his Anfield links and past derogatory comments about them, made it irrevocably clear that they did not want the spiky Spaniard in charge, following Roberto Di Matteo's unpopular sacking at the hands owner and axe-wielder, Roman Abramovich.

He would have hoped a couple of early wins would have changed some disillusioned fans' minds. However, the opposite has happened and the best odds are now suggesting that Rafa will again be out of work as early as Christmas. 

Certainly, if they succumb to a few more disappointing results before the end of the year, he will be twitching - waiting for Roman's call to send him on his way. But, while Benitez might be the easy man to blame, Chelsea's current problems stem from the ridiculous knee-jerk reactions of their all-powerful, seemingly dictatorial owner.

True, he saved the club from an impending financial implosion when buying them over 10 years ago now and he has, of course, pumped his billions into the club coffers to fund a few Premier League titles, several cups and then, memorably, last season's Champions League success.

But all that, apparently, is not good enough for our Roman. 

Very few clubs get anywhere chopping and changing managers regularly and Abramovich has only himself to blame for this mess. Benitez was an unpopular choice but it was hoped he would stabilise the Blues until Pep Guardiola arrived in the summer.

The latest reports suggest Pep is being lined up by Manchester City, though, and quite fancies the job at Eastlands rather than risking his reputation at Chelsea under their too-hard-to please owner. And who can blame him? 

Some will say Abramovich does not care and will not stop changing things at the top until he gets someone in the mould of the ultra-successful Jose Mourinho at the helm again. Heck, he may even eventually lure the Portuguese coach back to try to spark a return to the glory days. That's if, those two can patch up their differences.

You see, Abramovich appears to fall out with anyone and everyone - no matter how good a job they had been doing. Sadly for Chelsea, their reputation among other fans trying Betfair Cashout is again in tatters and, sadly for Benitez, it's a question of when, not if, he will be shown the door too.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Didier to Return Home

Didier Drogba could be in for a shock return to Chelsea after the striker revealed that he is seeking a loan move to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts in January.

Drogba, whose last act in a Blues shirt was to score the winning penalty in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich back in May, is under contract at Shanghai Shenhua.

However, now the Chinese season is over, he wants a loan move to maintain his fitness.

With the Cup of Nations in South Africa on the horizon, these next two months are crucial for Drogba if Ivory Coast are to mount a serious challenge on the title. He needs games and, if FIFA give him clearance to move outside the transfer window, Drogba could soon be on the plane to London.

Indeed, the chances of a return to Stamford Bridge must be high with the news that Rafael Benitez has taken charge of the European champions.

Benitez has few attacking options with Fernando Torres out of form and Daniel Sturridge injured, and so Drogba would be the perfect signing to stop the gap until January.

And, although many pundits offering Premier league betting tips will see Drogba’s arrival as a challenge to Torres’ development – much like last season – most Blues fans would welcome their legend back with open arms.

Now out of the Champions League and slightly off pace of the Premier League leaders, Chelsea need a boost and Drogba’s arrival would do far more good than any tactical tinkering Benitez can enact before January.

A loan move back to Chelsea would be best for both camps, as Benitez has nothing to lose in re-signing a striker of such pedigree while Drogba can gain his fitness from the fastest league on the planet ahead of a gruelling Cup of Nations campaign later this winter.

Friday, 16 November 2012

World Cup 2018 already Faces Budgetary Issues

The Russian Football Union (RFU) is potentially facing strong international criticism after it was revealed that one of the stadiums planned to host the 2018 World Cup has run massively over budget, as the nation prepares its infrastructure for the welcoming of the world.

The New Zenit Stadium in St Petersburg is a state-of-the-art arena that was a central pillar to Russia’s bid to host the World Cup, and is currently under construction. However, its proposed 2013 opening date is under threat, after it was revealed the stadium’s budget has spiralled to over 500 per cent the original estimate.

Zenit St Petersburg, the club side who will soon call the stadium home, will play in an arena costing a reported $1.4bn – much more expensive than the initial estimate $210 million estimate.

To make matters worse, the 65,000 capacity stadium will be the most expensive per seat in the world and could seriously discourage FIFA from investing money into Russian infrastructure ahead of their World Cup.

Indeed, there is serious concern from pundits giving football betting tips that the Russian tournament’s cost could spiral out of control, with South Africa’s 2010 World Cup a clear example of mismanagement of funds.

Although the South African tournament was a fantastic fans’ experience, the £3bn cost was way above budget and FIFA faced huge criticism for the crisis.

The 2018 World Cup is already a major public relations disaster for FIFA after the vast majority of the media looked sceptically on its bidding process that also saw Qatar win the rights to host in 2022; further criticism will arise as more of these financial mismanagement stories spill out from within the RFU.

If Russia is to maintain any credibility with this tournament, the RFU must keep track of its budget and not overspend as they have in St Petersburg. If so, the fan experience will be diminished as ticket prices rise to cover the cost.