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FOOTBALL, Manchester United - 0

Holy players out of position, Batman! Diop on the wing?!?! ManU in a 4-2-4 (4-6 in defence) with Scholes in a holding role?!?! It all made for a very uninspiring match. ManU outnumbered Pompey in the midfield and had good possession, but very little to show for it. A few good runs from deep from Tevez, Giggs, and (surprise!) Fletcher. And they could have been 3-0 up in the first half. But good keeping and poor finishing kept them out.

As for Pompey, they couldn't get a hold of the ball. Diarra and Mendes looked good in central midfield, Diarra moving forward and Mendes halting as much of ManU's forward progress as he could. But Diop isn't a winger and on the left Krancjar was about as useful as an inanimate carbon rod. At least Utaka brought some energy to the wing (not his natural position or side) when he came on at the hour.

wtps 110808 feature sizeLessons for the new season?

ManU will be very hard to beat, simply because they have 11 players on defence at all times. Everyone harries and harrasses with Tevez coming into his own half chasing the ball. However, they are going to have a harder time scoring until they buy a center forward or get Rooney and Ronaldo healthy. Or both, really. And especially without Nani for the first two games of the season, and perhaps a charge for Tevez's throat grab?, they may hurt for inspiration.

Pompey are a work in progress. They are probably light in midfield and until they can balace the side they won't get the best out of Crouch and Defoe. Their back-line also looked susceptible to pace and Glen Johnson spent the match daydreaming. And Nani made him pay again and again.

One week to go!

So is it Dr. Gerrard?


England and Liverpool soccer player Steven Gerrard seen after he received an honorary fellowship from John Moores University, accompanied by his wife, Alex Curran, at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, England, Friday July 25, 2008.

Credit where it's due

The Spanish goalador is sure to get much closer attention this season from Premier League opponents - but Keane's presence up front should ensure that a 'stop Torres, stop Liverpool' strategy does not become the simple mantra of Liverpool's opposition.

Bill Shankly once famously advised his number seven Kevin Keegan to just go out there and drop hand grenades all over the pitch. Rafa Benitez, as a student of the club's history, will likely offer similar advice to Keane. For the Liverpool supremo, the Irishman's 'game intelligence' was critical in his decision to bring him to Anfield and will be key in unshackling a more closely-policed Torres.
Funny stuff. As if clubs over the summer finally got around to looking at tape. "Hey, Liverpool seem to revolve around Torres. I sure wish we had realized that last season! This time we'll be ready."

Solano in Galaxy talks

Nolberto Solano could be set to link up with David Beckham at Los Angeles Galaxy.

The Peruvian winger's agent claims MLS side LA Galaxy are keen on signing the former Newcastle ace.

I don't know if I understand this move... I guess it would mean Becks moves infield permanently. But regardless, I'm a big fan of Nobby's and would love to see him stateside.

Last Tango in Paris

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo arrives on crutches at the 2008 ...
Injured Cristiano Ronaldo has been resting his crocked ankle - by going on a bender at an LA club.

The Manchester United striker, recovering from an ankle operation, splashed out more than £10,000 on wine, vodka and bottles of Cristal champagne after arriving at trendy nightclub Villa with two friends.

Ronaldo and his mates were met by the four models, who sat with him at a private table in one corner.

As the booze flowed, the 23-year-old got into the party spirit. He even threw his crutches to the ground and tried to dance on his uninjured foot - although it turned into more of an ungainly shuffle. So he ripped open his white shirt instead - as the models squealed with delight.

The Portuguese star has angered Man Utd fans by angling for a transfer to Real Madrid. But at Villa he was tapped up by one of the world's most famous clubbers, Paris Hilton.

Pouting Paris pushed her way through a bevy of admirers to flirt with him. But Ronaldo, who split with girlfriend Nereida Gallardo earlier this week, gave her the brush off. One clubber said: "Paris saw Ronaldo and immediately slithered past the dozens of women trying to get his attention.

"Then she climbed over one of his mates and planted herself next to him. She was flirting with him but he wasn't interested. He was just happy drinking. She looked a bit put out."

First good decision he's made all summer, right?

Actress Paris Hilton poses on the press line at a charity auction ...

Well, give him credit for at least making a decision.

Cristiano Ronaldo's 42 Goal Season

... and here are all of them.

Wow. Just, wow.

Barry to BFAY

Does Barry's imminent departure mean more fantasy return from Blog Favorite Ashley Young this season? Just thinking that the corners and free kicks that Barry would have taken last season will now come to BFAY. And with BFAY listed as a midfielder this season in the Yahoo!UK game instead of at forward... well, he may be real value for money.

Premier League trio called up to Brazil Olympic side

Premier League trio Anderson, Lucas and Jo have all been named in Brazil's 18-man Olympic squad.

All three - of Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City - are named as regular Under-23 players and therefore clubs cannot refuse to release them.

Something to keep in mind when the season starts as these players won't have been with their teams in pre-season. That will be especially detrimental to Jo, whose side can least afford to be without him for any length of time.

Chelsea make 'massive' Kaka offer

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani says Chelsea have made an "astronomical" bid for Brazilian Kaka.

The Blues have long been linked with a move for 26-year-old World Player of the Year and their boss is now ex-Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Galliani told Italian newspaper La Stampa: "We received an astronomical offer from Chelsea for Kaka."

Galliani also revealed the club have had interest in 29-year-old Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo.
One gets the feeling that Chelsea are once again going to be linked to a lot of players over the next month. Most of it will be bunk, but it sure makes for a fun summer. There's a version of the home game coming out soon... "How to accommodate Lampard/Ballack, Makalele/Mikel, Pirlo/Deco, etc, into the same midfield."

And if Ronaldinho is really going to Milan... maybe not all of it is bunk.

And needless to say, this would be about as +10 as you can get.

Update: The inevitable denial. Deal should be as good as done then.

Our long national nightmare is over

AFP/Getty Images

Turkish champions Galatasaray have announced the signing of former Liverpool attacker Harry Kewell on a three-year contract.

Kewell had been available on a free transfer after not being offered a new deal at Anfield following five injury-plagued seasons with the club.

Portsmouth had been linked with a bid to keep the Australian in the Premier League, while Roma had been tipped to sign the 29-year-old.

Ronaldo Set for Surgery

Cristiano Ronaldo
AFP/Getty Images
Sky Sports News understands that Manchester United and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo is to undergo surgery on his ankle injury in the next two to three days.

United representatives met with Ronaldo and members of Portugal's medical staff on Wednesday to discuss the necessary course of action for the winger's injured right ankle.

Portugal's team doctor has told Sky Sports News that Ronaldo is expected to go under the knife at the weekend.

But United claim a decision is still to be reached as to whether Ronaldo requires an operation, and issued a statement on their official website.

It read: "Procedures are in place to seek specialist advice, in order to finalise the treatment plan as soon as possible."...

Surgery would see Ronaldo sidelined for pre-season, but United will hope their star player is still at Old Trafford and is fit in time for their first game of the 2008/09 campaign, at home to Newcastle on 16th August.

If I were him, I think I'd be doing anything I could to convalesce at home with Nereida Gallardo too. Indeed this post isn't much more than a flimsy excuse to link to photos of her, and perhaps kick off a new WAG category.

End of an almost era

Never did get to enjoy the "Isaksson for a buck" era to which I was so looking forward. First Casper and then Joe Hart kept the gloves for Citeh. And for whatever reason (matchups, most likely) I always ended up with PRobbo for a buck. And that never worked out well. So good luck to Isaksson as, in ironic fashion, he goes to PSV to replace Gomes who has gone to Spurs to replace Probbo.

History Repeating Itself?

Presuming the rumor below is true, there are two things we can guess about Chelsea next term...

1) They're going to be a lot more fun to watch; and

2) There is a good chance that they're going to fall prey to the same thing that brought down "Don't Call Me Big" Phil's last team Portugal, namely that they won't be big enough to win out against larger, more aggressive teams (like the kind that are generally found in the top half of the Premier League table). Deco in (small); Robinho in (small); Drogba out (big).

Don't be shocked if this edition of Chelsea ends up short of expectations just like the last one unless they find some size other than Ballack and Terry.

ESPNsoccernet - Europe - Chelsea in Robinho negotiations, claims agent
New coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who began his Chelsea job today, has already signed Portugal international Deco from Barcelona and there are increasing signs that Robinho could be the next arrival.


Nothing in the +10 range, but...

Viva Espana

AFP/Getty Images

Congratulations and felicidades to Spain on their Euro2008 title. They are deserved winners in all categories - goals scored, allowed, time of possession, shots, shots on, and most importantly, they won their games.

Special mention for Marcos Senna, pictured on the left above. His play in the "Makalele Role" was the key to Spain's entire game and the newly emerging meme of the "Senna Role" is telling. He was the screen in front of a good, but not great defence. He broke up more opponent's attacks than I can remember. And just as importantly his passing out of defence was the platform for Spain's rightly praised midfield to shine.

Final kudos to Torres and Fabregas who carried their Premier League form into the tournament. Despite issues of Torres' not be free-scoring, and Cesc not starting, both made important contributions to the final match and indeed throughout the tournament.

Iraq dissovles national team

Soccer posters for sale in Baghdad - Thursday May 29, 01:26 PM
Iraq's football federation has dissolved its entire national team and withdrawn from August's West Asian championships.

The war-torn state made an early exit from 2010 World Cup qualifiers following defeat to Qatar in their final third round qualifier on Sunday.

The federation said the national side's failure to reach the later stages of qualification for the tournament in South Africa had disappointed the Iraqi people, and the entire team needed to be rebuilt.

"The Iraqi FA has decided to disband the team as of now and also not continue with the services of Adnan Hamad as coach," a federation statement read.

"It is really sad that Iraq lost in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Iraqis are not happy with the results.

"We will concentrate on rebuilding the team for the Gulf Cup in 2009 as well as the FIFA Confederations Cup. The team will not participate in the West Asian Football Federation Championship."
Just another example of How Soccer Explains the World. Or at least reflects it.

Liverpool set for Dossena capture

AP Photo by Paolo Giovannini

Liverpool are hoping to complete the signing of Udinese full-back Andrea Dossena next week.

Reds chief executive Rick Parry confirmed a deal for the 26-year-old Italian is almost done.

"We are now ready to confirm the signing of Dossena. The deal should go through next week," Parry told the club's official website.

Steve Finnan, please back your bags. The next Midlands Express leaves in 20 minutes and will have you in claret and blue by day break.

I say that expecting Dossena to be the starting left back for Liverpool with Arbeloa moving to his more natural right back spot. With Degen slotted as Arb's back up, that makes Finnan, who has some transfer value, expendable. And of course Villa is still looking for a specialist right back, and Finnan would fit the bill nicely.

Fernando Torres Nike ad

Otro ganador de Nike.

Solo selected for Olympics, Scurry left off roster

CHICAGO -- Goalkeeper Hope Solo is among 18 players picked for the U.S. Olympic women's soccer roster, nine months after she was kicked off the team at the World Cup.

Briana Scurry, who took over from Solo for last year's World Cup semifinal loss to Brazil, was left off the roster by coach Pia Sundhage, who replaced Greg Ryan following the World Cup debacle.

Solo was the starter for most of 2007, but Ryan surprisingly replaced her with Scurry for the semifinal, which the Americans lost 4-0. Solo criticized Ryan, saying she would have made the saves, and was dropped from the team.

I'm happy to see Sundhage picking on athletic merits, rather than bizarre motivational ploys or petty squabbles. As to the rest of the roster, I'm surprised that the US is only taking three forwards to the Olympics. Granted Wambach is a force and the US has lots of attacking talent in midfield with Wagner, et al. But might it limit the US' options if they need to change the pace or rhythm of a match, or (god forbid) have to chase one in search of a goal?

Finally, while there are quite a few veterans on the roster, most American will never have heard of any of these players... well, save for Solo after the aforementioned dust up. But no Hamm, Lily, Chastain, Milbrett, or Fawcett. NBC (and US Soccer) and going to have to rev up the old PR machine to sell this team to us all over again.

Olympic roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicole Barnhart, Hope Solo.

DEFENDERS (6): Rachel Buehler, Lori Chalupny, Stephanie Cox, Kate Markgraf, Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone.

MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx, Tobin Heath, Angela Hucles, Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly, Lindsay Tarpley, Aly Wagner.

FORWARDS (3): Natasha Kai, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach.

Arsenal secure signing of Nasri

Photo 1 - France's football national team midfielder Samir Nasri, attends ... AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Arsenal have signed French midfielder Samir Nasri from Marseille, according to the player's website.

The 20-year-old has signed a four-year deal for a reported £15.8m, although Arsenal have yet to confirm the move.
As to the question of where he fits in with the Arsenal side:
He can play on either wing or through the centre and won the French first division's young player of the year award, and was voted Marseille's player of the year by fans, at the end of the 2006/2007 campaign.

Last season he scored six goals in 30 games for the French outfit, his final strike in a 4-3 win over Strasbourg helping secure Marseille's berth in next season's Champions League.
That's not much help, is it? But seemingly he's either a replacement or insurance for Hleb, Rosicky, or both. And definitely +10.

Stereotypical Gestures

I'm realizing that I can imitate Luca Toni's "i can't believe i just missed that shot" face and gestures, but have no idea what he looks like/what he does after he scores a goal. Maybe this is it?

Photo 1 - Italian forward Luca Toni gestures during the Euro 2008 Champion... AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

But it's like a photo of Bigfoot. You're not really sure it's true. I'm much more used to this...

Photo 1 - Italian forward Luca Toni reacts to a missed shot during the Eur... AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

... and this.

Photo 1 - Italian forward Luca Toni reacts during the Euro 2008 Championsh... AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Make way for ducklings

Photo 1 - Spain national football team players walk during a training sess... AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Spain national football team players walk during a training session.
That's some training ground! Though perhaps the training session might be a little more taxing than a walk around the pond.

In the News

Photo 1 - Italy's team coach Roberto Donadoni leaves after a press confere... AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

  1. Rovers 'excited' by Ince - Perhaps this is continuity by any means necessary? Ince another branch of the SAF coaching tree and could bring a similar approach/tone to Rovers that Mark Hughes did.

  2. Milan confirm Adebayor focus - Don't know how much of this is bluster, but Arsenal really need to hold on to K2. He gave them something different than what they've had over the past few years in an aerial threat. It meant that teams had to respect crosses from the fullbacks which opened the middle of the pitch up for Cesc to work. It doesn't appear that Benchtner is ready to step up to being an every week player at this level, so Arsene may have to look to bring in someone new to partner RvP (while he's healthy). Any names come to mind? RSC, perhaps?

  3. Podolski hits out at Bayern - It would be nice to see Podolski in the Premier League. He's +10 for sure! Surely he'd only move for European football, so that means Spurs, Everton, or one of the big boys. Wouldn't he look nice in blue -- either in the capitol or the north west.

  4. Arshavin prefers Spain move Arshavin/Messi playing in behind Barca's new center forward? Reminiscent of what the Dutch were doing this summer, or Milan did with Kaka and Seedorf.

  5. Nihat heads home - Huge loss for the Turks to only compound their problems with injuries and suspensions.

More Nicknames


Brooks insists that I "publish it. It's awesome." So here's his list of the best soccer nicknames.
  • El Diablo Marco Etcheverry

  • El Pescadito Carlos Ruiz

  • Padwan Rodrigo Palacio

  • der Kaiser Franz Beckenbauer

  • The Black Pearl Eusebio

  • De rots van Kampen (The Rock from Kampen) Jaap Stam

  • The Beast Julio Baptista

  • The Apache Carlos Tevez

  • Baby-Face Assassin Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

  • The Ebony Tripod Claude Makelele

  • The Matrix Marco Materazzi

So who makes your all-time nickname list? Other than K2, of course.

Tactics Matter

Who could even have imagined that in a tournament where the Dutch abandoned Cruyff's 4-3-3 formation in favor of a flexible 4-2-3-1 we would also see the Germans adopt the 4-3-3, as they did in their victory over Portugal? Joachim Low set out his three midfielders - Ballack, Hitzelsperger, and Rolfe - to disrupt Portgal, and especially Deco's, passing lanes and gave his wide men, Schweinsteiger and Podolski, the freedom to attack Portugal's full backs.

The result speaks for itself.

Star trio set for Barca exit

Portugal's Deco celebrates his goal during Euro 2008 match against Czech Republic

New Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola says Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Deco are surplus to requirements at Camp Nou.

Guardiola, who has replaced Frank Rijkaard as Barca boss, admits he is not currently planning on having the star trio in his squad next season.

Those must be some CRAZY requirements. Sure Eto'o seemed off the boil last season. But no worse than Henry. And Deco is only proving his worth for Portugal. But I guess Xavi plays that same role, and Ronaldinho didn't play much of a role at all for Barca this year.

I always liked Pep Guardiola as a player, and it seems like he's putting together a team by subtraction rather than addition... for now. But if they add Alves at right back and a center forward -- "We are looking for an out-and-out striker that can score 60 goals a season," he joked. "Well, we want a No.9, we need one to complement Henry and Bojan." -- they are going to have a very powerful attacking side in the Barca tradition.

Annals of Commentary

Holland's Wesley Sneijder (r) celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Arjen Robben.

ESPN's Adrian Healy after Wesley Sneijder's goal with the final-kick of the Holland/France match:
It's a Dutch oven, and the French are toast!

Know your Nigels

Nigel De Jong, Holland

De Jong. It's Dutch for Reo-Coker.

Dunne set for Man City departure

FOOTBALL 2005-2006 Premiership Manchester City Richard Dunne - 0

Manchester City are resigned to losing captain Richard Dunne after he turned down a new contract - with Spurs leading the chase to sign the defender.

BBC Sport understands Dunne has rejected a long-term deal, leaving City facing the prospect of him leaving on a free transfer at the end of next term.

Spurs are now closing in on a £5m deal for the Republic of Ireland star.

£5?!?! That's a HUGE bargain and it would be a great bit of business for Spurs. Dunne and Woody could be a spectacular pairing and will make Spurs' new keeper even more of a +10 player than he would have otherwise been.

McBride leaves Fulham

Photo 1 - PORTSMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 11: Brian McBride of Fulham is... Getty Images
Too fond a farewell.

Veteran USA striker and Fulham captain Brian McBride is set to return to his homeland after deciding to leave Craven Cottage.

The 36-year-old former Everton, Preston, Wolfsburg and Chicago Fire hit-man was expected to leave the West London club after his contract expired at the end of the 2007/8 season.

And, despite helping the Cottagers avoid relegation on the last day of the campaign, McBride has called time on his four-and-a-half years at the club.

"After much consideration with my family, we have decided to leave Fulham after four and a half fantastic years," McBride stated. "I have always stated my intention to return to America at some stage and this seems like the right moment in my career to move on...

McBride is the second USA international to leave Fulham this summer, after defender Carlos Bocanegra was told by Hodgson that he no longer featured in the club's plans.

Hopefully he'll be jumping from one fantasy game to another. He will be a big draw for MLS and should still be a class above most strikers in the league - especially this season. It will be interesting to see where he ends up. The sentimental choice would be Columbus, but I believe that Houston is sitting on a designated player allocation and they could certainly use some firepower. The question would be if McBride and Brian Ching are too much alike to play together. Though they said that - albeit for different reasons - about Tevez and Rooney and look how their season turned out.

Drogba to Manchester United

Chelsea's Drogba
We're all on the same team.

Let's get the rumour mill spinning today. As Neal writes over on the mother-ship:
Jeremy very rightly pointed out that ManYoo are in desperate need of a striker. My take on the situation is that Rooney should move back to replace the Corpse of Paul Scholes at the top of midfield (he's best dropping back a little deeper and running at defenders). CRon moves up to become a fulltime striker and then ManYoo need to find a target man for him to work off of. Berbs would be ideal, Huntelaar could certainly be that guy as well if he can translate his success in Holland to the Prem. Jeremy put an interesting option out there as well, how about Drogba in Red? Santa Cruz would be a pretty interesting option as well.
Wouldn't Drogs be the perfect upgrade from Saha? Big, physical, certainly skilled if a bit petulant. Drogs/Saha and Rooney/Tevez would be SAF's perfect foursome. And CRon could move back to the wing opposite Nani, with Giggs and Park backing them up.

Wow, SAF would have two world-class players in every position! Midfielders Scholes/Anderson, Carrick/Hargreaves with such spare parts as Fletcher in reserve. Perhaps they would still need a new right back and someone to replace the player that was Mikel Silvestre. But otherwise they are well positioned to remain the premier team in the Premier League and Europe. Arsenal, Liverpool, and even Chelsea, have a lot of catching up to do.

Manchester United - Champions of Europe again


Well, that had a little bit of everything, didn't it? Penalty kicks, of course. With the incumbent saves and misses. But with extra drama as CRon's "little" stutter cost him dearly. Luckily for ManU, Terry pings the post and they can go on to win.

Red cards. Phantom yellows and goal kicks. Lovely goals from CRon - showing again that he is as good in the air as he is with the ball at his feet, and Lampard -- showing why he is among the best midfielders in the world in supporting the attack and arriving into the box late to finish. More thoughts and analysis as it sinks in, but congratulations to the Red Devils who have combined the best of age and experience - EvdS, Giggs, Scholes - with youth and vitality - Tevez, Rooney, CRon, etc - and are, at least in my mind, deserved champions.

Your mileage may vary.

Photo courtesy REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach and Yahoo! Eurosport

Who is K2?

A handy guide to blog nicknames and shorthand

  • AJAndrew Johnson
  • ArbAlvaro Arbeloa
  • The BeastJulio Baptista
  • BenchtnerNiclas Bendtner. So named for his habit of being stuck on the bench when picked for one's fantasy team.
  • BFARBig Fat Andy Reid
  • BFAYBlog Favorite Ashley Young
  • BFDBBlog Favorite David Bentley
  • BFFLBig Fat Frank Lampard
  • Captain Kirk(also The Capt. or Capt. Kirk) Chris Kirkland.
  • CarlitoCarlos Tevez
  • CescCesc Fabregas. See also, Fab
  • CletusClint Dempsey, See also, The Duece
  • CletusClint Mathis. The original Cletus.
  • CRonCristiano Ronaldo
  • DogboyDidier Drogba. See also, Drogs
  • DrogsDidier Drogba. See also, Dogboy
  • The DeuceClint Dempsey, See also, Cletus
  • Duff Duff DuffDamien Duff. See also, Duffman
  • DuffmanDamien Duff. See also, Duff Duff Duff
  • EdSEduardo da Silva. Not to be confused with...
  • EvdSEdwin van der Sar
  • FabCesc Fabregas. Now confused by the emergence of reserve keeper Lukas Fabianski.
  • FaddyJames McFadden
  • FASDAFuture Arsenal Striker (in Neal's fondest wishes) Dean Ashton
  • GabbyGabriel Agbonlahor
  • The GoatShaun Goater
  • The ElkNicolas "Le Sulk" Anelka
  • JARJohn Arne Riise
  • JRobJason Roberts
  • JummyJimmy Bullard
  • K2Emmanuel Adebayor. He is tall as a mountain, and reminiscent of former Arsenal striker Kanu in his stature and playing style. Hence K2 or K2.0, or K2.6.
  • KaboomYounes Kaboul
  • KJKenwyne Jones. See also KWyne and Wyn-e the Pooh
  • KWyne(pronounced K-Win) Kenwyne Jones. See also KJ and Wyn-e the Pooh
  • LMO(Little Mikey Owen) Michael Owen
  • LRobLaurent Robert, formerly of Newcastle United and Derby County; now with Toronto FC in Major League Soccer.
  • MPetMartin Petrov
  • MTayMatthew Taylor
  • MGPMorten Gamst Pedersen
  • NandoFernando Torres
  • NRCNigel Reo-Coker
  • paR-TayRyan Taylor. See also, RTay
  • PRobboPaul Robinson. See also, Robbo
  • RobboPaul Robinson. See also, PRobbo
  • RSCRoque Santa Cruz
  • RTayRyan Taylor. See also, paR-Tay
  • RVNRuud van Nistlerooy
  • RVPor RvP, Robin van Persie
  • SAFSir Alex Ferguson
  • SGESven Goran Eriksson
  • SickyTomas Rosicky
  • SPetStyllian Petrov
  • StevieGSteven Gerrard
  • SWPShaun Wright-Phillips
  • THThierry Henry, the man so good he needed a nickname, and began this whole thing
  • TheoTheo Walcott
  • THoTim Howard
  • THudTom Huddlestone
  • Wyn-e the PoohKenwyne Jones. See also KJ and KWyne
  • The YakAgbyeni Yakubu

Global Village getting out of hand

Iraqi government forces roll into the Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad Saturday, May 17, 2008. Sadr City appeared to be calm Saturday after weeks of bloody clashes between the US forces and Mahdi army fighters. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Is that a Pires Valencia jersey? Or some knock off of the Arsenal red currant jersey? It's truly a small world.

Liverpool to sign Degen

Liverpool began their close season recruitment drive with confirmation that Borussia Dortmund defender Philipp Degen will sign this summer.
FOOTBALL 2007-2008 Bundesliga Borussia Dortmund Philipp Degen - 0

The Switzerland international right-back will pen a deal with the Anfield club on July 1 when his current deal with the Bundesliga side expires.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez told the club's official website: "Philipp is still young but has gained great experience from playing in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund and on the international stage with Switzerland.

"He also played in the Champions League during his time with Basel and so is used to top level football.

"He is an offensive player with great energy and a winning mentality. His strength is going forward and I am confident he will be prove to be a quality addition to our squad."

The 25-year-old, who will now provide competition for Steve Finnan and Alvaro Arbeloa on the right hand side of the Reds' defence, is set to feature for his country at next month's European championships.

While Swiss defenders haven't had the best of luck in the Premier League -- yes, we're looking towards North London here -- an attacking fullback on a top 4 side... that's exciting stuff for fantasy managers.

Barton jailed for six months

Newcastle United's Joey Barton celebrates the equalising goal

Happier times.

Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has been jailed for six months after being convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of assault and affray.

The England international was arrested in Liverpool city centre in the early hours of December 27 after becoming involved in a confrontation outside a McDonald's restaurant.

The 25-year-old admitted charges of affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm after CCTV cameras caught him knocking an unidentified man to the ground.

He then straddled the man, and punched him four or five times as his cousin threw food at the victim before Barton punched him up to 15 times more.

Minutes later, the player attacked a 16-year-old, punching him and leaving him with broken teeth.

It followed a series of verbal confrontations inside the restaurant after a night out during which he had consumed 10 pints of lager and five bottles of lager.

The implications for Barton's career are as yet unclear, although he is certain to miss the start of the Magpies' new season.

Carsley to join Birmingham

Lee Carsley, Everton

Midfielder Lee Carsley is set to sign a two-year contract with his home-town club Birmingham once his current deal with Everton officially expires at the end of the month.

The Republic of Ireland international rejected the offer of a one-year extension to his contract at Goodison Park as the 34-year-old wanted a move closer to his Midlands home.

This means that Moyes may be looking for a new right back as Hibbert has been in and out of the team, and without Carsley, he'll no longer be able to afford to move Neville out of central midfield.

cross posted to Yahoo! Eurosport Fantasy Football Blog

Hot Stove

Top 10 best buys

Top 10 worst buys

Can't argue, but I would have to add Jari Litmanen to Fulham to the list.

Litmanen pelasi runsaan tunnin Fulhamin reservijoukkueessa

Yes, he signed on a free, but I'm not sure he ever saw the substitutes bench, much less the pitch. One gets the impression that Hodgson brought him over to help him out with some medical care rather than in any expectation that he would actually play football.

Chelsea close in on Boswinga deal

FOOTBALL 2007-2008 Porto Jose Bosingwa - 0

Chelsea have beaten Manchester United to the signature of Porto full-back Jose Bosingwa, according to reports emerging in Portugal.The talented defender has demonstrated in the Champions League over the past few seasons that he is one of the continent's finest in his position...

However, it has now come to light that Chelsea are desperate to add the player to their ranks and have stolen a march on their Premier League rivals.

A fee of €20million (£15.8million) is thought to have been concurred between Porto and Chelsea, with Bosingwa to pen a five-year deal with the west London club.

Bosingwa +10!


Chivas USA defender Lawson Vaughn is expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks after undergoing surgery over the weekend for a fractured nose.

Vaughn, in his third season with Chivas USA, was injured in the 9th minute of Saturday’s game against the Dynamo in Houston that ended in a scoreless tie. He jumped to try a header and was kicked in the face by Houston midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, who was attempting a bicycle kick.

The surgery performed Sunday was to surgically repair Vaughn’s nose, which was broken in several places, as well as a laceration on his right cheek that required 32 stitches.

Go Figure: The Week In Numbers

0 - Games lost by Newcastle United since Kevin Keegan dropped Alan Smith.

Liverpool - Arsenal goals

Each of the six goals from the Champions League quarterfinal, second leg - bar the penalty kick - are worth watching again.

Robert leaves Rams for Toronto

Laurent Robert's brief stint at Derby has been brought to a close with the winger moving to Toronto FC.

The former Newcastle and Portsmouth player's Pride Park contract was cancelled by mutual consent, allowing him to join the MLS side as a free agent.

From one fantasy league and into another!

Anichebe eyes Derby return

Victor Anichebe hopes to be fit for Everton's clash with Derby on Sunday after being hospitalised by a stomach complaint.

The young striker returned from international duty with Nigeria last week and was forced to seek hospital treatment after experiencing severe pain and being unable to eat.

What's the Nigerian equivalent of Montezuma's Revenge?

Galaxy F Ruiz undergoes knee surgery

Los Angeles Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz underwent surgery on his right knee on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old Ruiz, who suffered the injury in Los Angeles’ season-opening 4-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, also suffered a sprained MCL to the knee.

A native of Guatemala, Ruiz had an arthroscopic procedure Tuesday
morning to repair a slight tear of the meniscus and is expected to miss
4-6 weeks.

Premier League Injuries and Suspensions

Not much news today that we didn't know yesterday. RSC is still a doubt for Rovers, but Nelsen may return to replace the suspended Samba. Captain Kiwi is only 4.27 and may be value for money if you are looking to replace Sagna. The big news comes from Chelsea as both Lampard and Terry are doubts for the Boro match. That would make Ballack (11.10) an interesting pick. And with the Champions League renewing this week, odds are Anelka gets the Premier League start, saving the Drog for "bigger" fish than Boro.

Bolton are struggling with injuries and suspensions in front of their match with Arsenal, but I'm not sure anyone wants to bet on or against either team at the moment. Ditto the Liverpool derby where Torres is fit, but Cahil and AJ aren't.

There doesn't look to be too many changes for the other bottom sides, though Wigan are missing are host of players as they travel to Portsmouth. Defoe is sure to play and looks a good bet.

All the full team news here:

  1. Team news: Terry, Lampard doubtful
  2. Cahill KO confirmed by Toffees
  3. Fletcher out for six weeks
  4. Johnson struggling for derby clash
  5. Jones set for Black Cats comeback
  6. Torres fit for Toffees showdown
  7. Nolan banned for Gunners encounter
  8. Nelsen back, but Roque is a doubt
  9. Healy struggling for Pride Park trip
  10. Star duo back for Latics encounter
  11. Latics set for Fratton reshuffle
  12. Richards return on hold for City
  13. Kebe doubt for Rovers showdown
  14. England duo a concern for Boro clash
  15. Sears struggling for Wearside trip
  16. Hamann back for Birmingham clash
  17. Ridgewell misses out on City visit

World's worst in action in CONCACAF qualifying

Three of the worst international teams will attempt unlikely wins in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.

Montserrat meet Surinam in a one-off preliminary round encounter that will be played in Trinidad & Tobago as neither country has a stadium considered suitable by governing body FIFA.

U.S. Virgin Islands visit Grenada in another one-off tie while Aruba try to overturn a 3-0 first leg deficit when they travel to Antigua & Barbuda for their return match.

Montserrat, U.S. Virgin Islands and Aruba are joint 202nd and last in the FIFA rankings, sharing the dubious honour with American Samoa, Guam and East Timor.

CONCACAF's lowest ranked teams are involved in the preliminary round while the higher-ranked sides such as U.S., Mexico and Honduras have a bye to the second round in June.

We're number 202!

Update: Surinam TROUNCED Montserrat 7-1!

Jewell worried by Barnes blow

Derby boss Paul Jewell has voiced his concerns over Giles Barnes' knee injury.

The midfielder picked up the problem in training last week and sat out the goalless draw with Sunderland on Saturday.

He underwent a scan on Friday that confirmed he had not suffered any damage to his cruciate ligament.

However, Jewell still fears the injury could be serious as he prepares to send Barnes to see another specialist.
Shorter version: Please don't buy him from us! He's our only hope of ever getting back to the Premiership!

And while Jewell's bosses won't appreciate his knocking a few hundred thousand off the final sale price, you can certainly see how it's in Jewell's selfish interest to do so. He'll be judged on results, and those will be better with Barnes than without him.

Fantasy Football Focus

Focusing on this weekend's matches with an eye on next weekend's as well.Good luck!

Jewell pleased with response

Derby County manager Paul Jewell has heard no complaints from his players after imposing a stricter training regime this week.

Jewell was seething with the Rams' performance in last Saturday's 2-0 defeat at former club Wigan Athletic and has vowed to whip the squad into shape.

He confirmed there has been a greater intensity in training in recent days and is looking for a response in this weekend's game against Sunderland.

What the hell was he waiting for?

I like Jewell and think he's a good, if limited, manager. But compare him to Juande Ramos. Ramos came in and found an out-of-shape and out-of-sorts side and immediately made changes. He changed their training regime. He changed their diets. He dropped under-performing players and replaced them with square pegs in round holes (THud and Zokora as central defenders, for example) if needed. Now they've won the Carling Cup and are progressing in the UEFA Cup and are moving up the League table.

Meanwhile, Derby are just as bad as they were under Billy Davies. Their new signings haven't made an impact, and if they are just now making changes to the way things are done, well then I'm afraid that speaks very poorly of Jewell and his managerial approach.

Lundekvam fears for career

Eurosport | Thu, Feb 28, 12:22

Southampton defender Claus Lundekvam says he fears for his career after suffering a serious setback in his attempt to return from an ankle injury.

Claus was the original DNH (do no harm) fantasy defender, back in the day. We wish him all the best.

F365`s Guide To The Relegation Strugglers

Parts One, and Two.

'Oh dear' is the best way to sum up Fulham's next few fixtures. Manchester United and Everton visit Craven Cottage, inbetween which are trips to Blackburn and Newcastle. Then, it's the clash of the titans when they travel to Derby. For any Premier League fans unfamiliar with the standard of football in the Championship, tune in to this one and you'll find out.

I am determined to overcome this injury,

Arsenal's Eduardo Da Silva suffers a serious leg injury ...

Arsenal's Eduardo Da Silva suffers a serious leg injury after being tackled by Birmingham City's Martin Taylor during their English Premier League soccer match at St Andrews in Birmingham, central England February 23, 2008. ACTION IMAGES/Lee Mills VIA REUTERS

Arsenal striker Eduardo said on Sunday he was determined to recover from a broken leg and play again after accepting his season, including Euro 2008, was over.

The Brazilian-born Croatia striker had an operation late on Saturday night after breaking his left leg early in Arsenal's Premier League match at Birmingham City, which ended 2-2.

"I am unsure at the moment of the extent of the injury and how long I will be out of action for but I know that I won't be able to play for Arsenal for the rest of the season or be ready in time for the Euros this summer," Eduardo said.

"But I'm not worried about that. My concentration and determination is on making as quick a recovery as possible. I am determined to overcome this injury," he told Arsenal's Web site (

Ahead of the Week Ahead

We're back and starting to look forward to the weekend's fixtures.

Torres boost for Reds

Fernando Torres has handed Liverpool an injury boost by returning to training.

The club's top scorer missed last weekend's draw at Chelsea after suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty with Spain.

Reds boss Rafa Benitez has declared Torres fit to face Internazionale in the Uefa Champions League next week and he is considering using him in this weekend's FA Cup tie with Barnsley...

Benitez has also been boosted by the return to fitness of defensive trio Sami Hyypia, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio.

Castillo returns to training

Manchester City manager Sven Goran Eriksson has been handed a boost via Nery Castillo's return to training...

But the 23-year-old is nearing a return to first-team action after returning to training.

"The medical people say Nery is now allowed to do everything with the senior squad including physical contact and tackling, so that is good," Eriksson told the club's official website.

"It has not been easy for him having to work with the fitness coaches all the time."

With Bojinov back (having scored for the reserves last week, the "emergence" of Sturridge, and Benjani the presumptive first choice in Sven's 4-5-1, it looks like all of a sudden that there is a lot of competition for places in Citeh's attack.

FA Cup - Manchester United/Arsenal

The next chapter will be written this Saturday, 16 February 2008.

Scout appointment pleases McLeish

Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish says the arrival of new chief scout Paul Montgomery will improve their chances of recruiting top players.

Montgomery originally spotted Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda when he was with West Ham.

HA! How well did that work out for West Ham? At best you can argue that Drogba's arrival led to Carlton Cole being expendable and therefore available to West Ham. But even that's a stretch, at best. And Cole... he's a fantasy nightmare. Cheap enough to be tempting when West Ham have a good matchup, but as likely to get a yellow card (7) as an assist (6).