Friday, 27 July 2012

Can Carroll Shelve Record Curse?

West Ham United’s club record transfer bid for England striker Andy Carroll is a huge gamble for the Premier League newcomers.

The offer, thought to be around £17m, would see the Liverpool frontman become West Ham’s most expensive player; almost £10m more than their current record signing, Craig Bellamy. And should Carroll decide to leave Merseyside for the capital, West Ham’s chances of league survival will hang on one man.

For £17m on one player, unless you’re one of the top six clubs in England, is a huge gamble. Should West Ham sign Carroll for such a large fee, there won’t be much spare cash to throw around anywhere else. Allardyce may be confident that the rest of his squad is up to Premier League level, but clearly his front line is not ready if he feels the need to spend big on the England forward.

Carroll will be expected to hit the ground running, but a brief history of record-breaking transfers proves the price tag can often be too much to bear. Fernando Torres and Jose Antonio Reyes are two strikers this past decade that failed to live up to expectations when making respective big-money moves to Chelsea and Liverpool.

Middlesbrough fans will shudder in horror at the name of £12m flop Alfonso Alvez, while bench-warmer, Michael Owen, broke Newcastle’s bank at £16m in 2005. Carroll himself has failed to deliver at Liverpool, following his club-record £35m fee, and he looks set to continue in the footsteps of numerous flop strikers, should he stay at Anfield.

Upton Park may be the perfect destination for the big striker, who will no doubt fit into Allardyce’s style of play. But another record-breaking price tag may be too much for the forward, who has battled with that curse for the last 18 months, and could spell relegation for the Hammers if it goes wrong.

London 2012 may have gripped the nation, but the Betfair Champions league page will soon be attracting football fans, once again. If you cannot wait until next season for your betting fix, visit the Betfair Olympics Football website for the best picks for the Games.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Collins signing shows Forest’s professional approach

Nottingham Forest fans should be delighted with the news defender Danny Collins has been brought into a new-look squad.

The centre-half, who can also play at full-back, signed from Stoke City this week after it came apparent he was not part of Tony Pulis’ plans.

With Forest, who hope to win promotion and be back amongst the Betfair Premier League tips in the near future, now under new mega-rich ownership in the form of Kuwait’s Al Hasawi family, fans could have been fantasising over big-money signings flooding into the club.

Collins is hardly a name that will send shirt sales through the roof, but his acquisition is a promising insight into how Forest will stage their push for promotion.

For while Collins isn’t a mega star, he in nevertheless just what Forest need.

Rather than drafting in an expensive overseas player with no real understanding of English football, Forest have bought a man with bags of domestic experience.

Down the pecking order at Stoke, he was loaned out for the majority of last season to Championship clubs Ipswich and West Ham.

He helped the Hammers gain promotion to the Premier League, and scored a crucial last minute equaliser against Leeds at Upton Park in March.

Collins is simply a solid, experienced defender who can steady what is soon to be a rocking ship at the City Ground.

For with new owners comes new expectations, and the Forest players brought in must get used to these straight away.

In Collins, manager Steve Cotterill has a trusted centre-half who can fit immediately into the first XI.

He did so to good success at West Ham, and Cotterill will be hoping those promotion experiences will be harnessed throughout a long season ahead for the Nottingham club.

Get the inside track ahead of the new Championship season with exclusive Lee Dixon analysis on Betfair.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Trap Door for Ireland Greats

Ireland’s manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, made a huge decision this week, in announcing his squad for the nation’s upcoming friendly match against Serbia in August, which excludes Ireland legends, Shay Given and Robbie Keane.

Accompanying the felled duo out of the national set-up are Richard Dunne – the hero of Ireland’s qualifying campaign – and Stephen Hunt. The experienced quartet’s exclusion from Trapattoni’s side could hint the start of a new era in Irish football, following a disastrous Euro 2012.

Having qualified for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine by beating Estonia 5-1 in a two-legged playoff, the Irish nation was buoyed by expectation, as Trapattoni led the team to their first major tournament in 10 years.

But a 3-1 loss to Croatia in their opening game set a trend that saw the country come home early with no points from three group games.

Trapattoni’s actions to exclude experienced heads show just how much work he needs to do to the squad, in preparation for World Cup 2014 qualification.

The team disappointed this summer, and now it’s time for a new generation to come in and blow away the mysticism that still surrounds the Irish camp from their wonderful 2002 World Cup experience.

Both Dunne and Keane showed their age against Spain and Italy and for them to continue playing to international standards by 2014 is a lot to ask. Instead, Trapattoni will look to the likes of Seamus Coleman and Keith Treacy to head a new Ireland pack no doubt desperate to right the wrongs in Poland.

Keane, Dunne, and Given may get another chance in the coming months to prove they are still up for selection, but Trapattoni’s move proves he is looking for a fresh start with new talent his top priority.

Fans of the domestic game should check out the Premier League odds on the Betfair betting website.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Rodgers admits Carroll could move on

New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers didn’t beat about the bush when it came to £35million man Andy Carroll, admitting that the big striker could be allowed to leave the club on loan.

Carroll has been something of a disaster for the Reds since his record breaking move from Newcastle in January 2011.

Not that it has been Carroll’s fault, he had only six-months of regular Premier League action under his belt when Liverpool – desperate after flogging Fernando Torres to Chelsea – opted to empty their bulging wallets in the direction of Tyneside and bring the striker to the north-west.

The Anfield regime has understandably defended their expensive asset ever since, not least previous boss Kenny Dalglish, who reportedly sanctioned the move in the first place.

Rodgers though is disconnected from what has gone in the recent past and so can afford to make tough decisions. His reputation for slick and patient passing doesn’t exactly fit to Carroll's strengths either, so it was hardly a shock when the former Swansea boss said what he did when quizzed on Carroll’s future.

"It's something I would have to look at, I have to be honest," said Rodgers, much to fascination of fans from within the bet365 community.

"Sometimes a player going out on loan - in general, not just Andy - can benefit the club in the long term.

"I'm not going to sit here and say I will never let anyone go on loan, then come in here in two weeks and a player's gone, and you're saying 'you said you wouldn't let them go’.”

West Ham, under long-ball merchant Sam Allardyce, have been linked with a swoop for Carroll and such a move would be an embarrassing admission of failure on behalf of the Reds' scouting system. That is, unless, Carroll rediscovers his shooting boots away from the Anfield spotlight and returns more like his old self.

Either way it would be a very expensive gamble by Rodgers, who would also have to be prepared to sell Carroll for a reduced fee should he continue to mis-fire on Merseyside.

Liverpool fans could perhaps take heart though from Rodgers' early comments, as he at least seems prepared to front up to the tough choices in front of him in his new job.
The bet365 Ray Winstone advert will soon be back on our screens as we usher in the new football season. It promises to be another exciting few months at every level.