Football’s Rich List shows up a surprise or two

On January 7, 2009 by

So whose hot and whose not?

Well none of us are exactly warm here in the UK at the moment but quite a few football players will be able to pay their gas bills after the football players rich list was made public.

No shock that David Beckham and Michael Owen led the way but people might be a tad shocked to see that Sol Campbell has such a wealth of millions sitting in his bank account. Also Emile Heskey has £12million kicking about? That shocked me.

Robbie Fowler had a decent career but his investments were amongst the best of all the footballers around. He got into the property market in a big way in the late 90s and has made a tonne of money. He even bought a whole road in Oldham with each property valued at around the £20k mark and today they are valued at over four times that amount.

Also they gave a rich list for owners. No huge surprise that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan is tops with a fortune in the £15bn bracket and that is why Manchester City can afford pretty much whoever they want in the transfer window.

Lakshmi Mittal of QPR is next up with £12.5bn although most fans of the Loftus Road would say that you wouldn’t know it looking at the XI on a Saturday afternoon. Lots of investment needs to be made in that squad but over at Stamford Bridge Roman still has £7bn is assets, I could probably live and run a football club on that budget.

The owner of Cheltenham Town is pretty much a billionaire with a £970m and PNE’s owner has £900m. Fans of those clubs will probably be wondering why more money isn’t diverted towards the club.

I think it shows that come of the smaller clubs actually have the richest owners and shows that having money doesn’t necessarily mean success on the pitch.

GB football team moves one step closer to fruition

On January 6, 2009 by

The controversial plan to enter a united football team at the Olympic Games in 2012 has been approved in theory by FIFA. The very idea of doing such a thing has disgusted many involved in the world of football, particularly those in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

Such individuals believe that entering a united team will prove detrimental to their futures as separate teams competing on an international stage.

However, officials at FIFA have insisted that this would not be the case and that entering a united team would not have any detrimental effects upon the countries involved. The president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, revealed that officials at the organisation have confirmed that participating as a single team will “not affect the existing individual status of the four British football associations”. Fifa is planning on speaking to the football authorities involved in the plan and they will now have until March to consider the scheme.

One individual who was happy with the announcement from Blatter was Jim Murphy, the Scottish Secretary. Murphy revealed that the announcement will give Scotland “the best of both worlds”, with the protection of the Scottish national team guaranteed and the country’s young players able to take part in an exciting “one-off under-23 Olympic tournament”.

If the plan does become a reality, there will be no shortage of candidates willing and ready to lead the united team. Sir Alex Ferguson is one obvious choice, whilst Fabio Capello has spoken of his desire to manage the team.

Bridge makes move to Manchester

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Last December was filled with speculation about the potential transfers which could occur once the January transfer window opened. Now that the transfer window is firmly open, Premier League clubs have been considering their options and the first major move has seen Wayne Bridge make the move from London to Manchester.

Bridge, a proficient left-back, made the decision to leave Chelsea in order to sign for Manchester City. The official fee has remained undisclosed but it is thought to be in the region of ten million pounds, a price which some believe to be poor value for City.

Wayne Bridge is twenty-eight years of age and joined Chelsea in the summer of 2003. He saw several managers come and go through the gates of Stamford Bridge and the player experienced unpredictable periods of inclusion and exclusion from the team.

With the arrival of Luis Felipe Scolari, Bridge has seemed a less important member of the Chelsea squad and, in order to keep his England ambitions alive, the player decided to make the move to City. He has played thirty-two times for the national side and is keen to add to this tally.

Manchester City have been expected to flash the cash during the transfer window but manager, Mark Hughes, insists that the club is not just blindly buying players. Rather, the manager revealed that he has long admired the ex-Chelsea left-back. Hughes was aware of the player when they were both at Southampton and he is “delighted” to be reunited with him.

What does the future hold for Mark Hughes?

On January 5, 2009 by

Without a doubt the storyline of the FA Cup 3rd round came at Eastlands over this past weekend as ‘moneybags’ Manchester City got dumped out of the cup on home soil to a Nottingham Forest side who are fighting for survival in the Championship.

On the day when the club spent a reported £10-12m on Wayne Bridge from Chelsea, even more question marks around Mark Hughes’ future were thrown up. Hughes was the incumbent when the new owners came in and it has been speculated since day one that he’d be on his bike sooner rather than later.

However he is still with the club and chief executive David Cook is sure that he is the right man. Speaking to The Sun he said:

‘Once we get through the first window, when Mark’s impact will be able to advance the future of the football club, things will start to settle down.

‘Mark’s plans and the way he is running the team are going to build and change and the confidence will start to build.

‘We will bring people here who want to see the club move forward and the fans will ideally take to them because they’re committed to the club.’

Hughes’ will no doubt of noticed that the crowd turned on him and his player big style at the final whistle on Saturday and you really can’t blame them. It was a limp display and says everything about this Manchester City side, brilliant one week and painfully abysmal the next.

I think that surely his future with the club is at best uncertain. They paid a lot of money for the club and are willing to pump in untold millions in the transfer window and beyond. For this they are expecting just a little bit more than a relegation dogfight and losing at home to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, not just losing, being humiliated by.

Will Sparky be there come August? I highly doubt it.

Defoe & Downing Spurs’ bound?

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As regular readers of the blog will know I am a Portsmouth fan. Still hurt and betrayed by Harry Redknapp, I have carried on with my love of the club whilst having a look over at what our former manager is doing.

One thing he does seem to be up to is unsettling other players. At Portsmouth Jermain Defoe has been unsettled enough to want to leave and join his former gaffer at WHL and now Stewart Downing looks set to hand in a transfer request to do just that as well according to the PA.

Redknapp has spoken about his pursuit of Defoe publicly and even went as far to say that he understood Portsmouth to have a ‘massive massive’ offer for the determinative front man. This was denied by Pompey and one has to ask oneself how he knew of this if he wasn’t true and was it said just to unsettle the player?

Up at the Riverside Stewart Downing has long been linked with a move away from the club. However in recent weeks the speculation has reached fever pitch with a new story being in the press seemingly daily linking him with a move to White Hart Lane. Now where do the journalists get these stories from?

The cynical part of my brain (which in all fairness is a good portion of it) believes that it comes from Spurs themselves in a bid to unsettle a player. This seems a bit two-faced considering what they thought when Manchester United were in hot pursuit of Dimitar Berbatov in the last transfer window.

So will Defoe and Downing both end up WHL when all is said and done by February? I suspect they might very well do so…

Managerial Security

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It is not great surprise to learn that Blackburn have sacked Paul Ince. The self styled guv’nor has been given the boot after only 17 league games in charge, during which time he has won 3, drawn 4 and lost 10.

It all seems so sad after the jubilation of June when much was made of him being an exciting young appointment to the job. He had served his apprenticeship in the lower leagues with Macclesfield and MK Dons and done a good job too, reviving a lifeless Macclesfield who were seven points adrift at the bottom of the league when he took over and saving them from relegation. And at MK Dons, he gained promotion and the Football league trophy in only one season at the club.

And now he is without a job. I hope, and don’t think, that he will have difficulty in getting a new job, although it may not be in the top league any time soon. He seems to have the respect of the players (even at Blackburn they were still fighting for him) and the confidence and self belief to be a success. He is a good manager and i am sure with the right luck can be a great manager.

But the sacking of Paul Ince brings forth the eternal question. Should Blackburn have given him more time? It is a position that I would hate to be in if i were a football club director. The problem is that clubs in the Premier league are so worried about being relegated, and the subsequent loss of revenue that will suffer, that they feel they must sack the manager if things are not going right.

The premier league system has put so much financial pressure on clubs that they cannot afford to be patient. For a club of Blackburn’s size, who have been in the premier league for a number of years and probably have a substantial wage bill, the fear of relegation is that they will end up in a position in a few years where we now see Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Charlton, Southampton, Norwich, Derby, Watford. Leicester and Bradford, all clubs who were in the top league but have since dropped down and suffered horrendous financial problems.

The solution? As always, its about the money. Clubs are spending too much chasing the dream and not thinking of the bigger picture and the longer term.

By the bigger picture, I refer to the whole football community, from the top to the bottom of the football pyramid. Not enough money is spread around the lower leagues. The premier league gives relegated clubs ‘parachute payments’ so help them survive but these last only 2 years.

The answer is for more of the premier league pot to filter down the leagues to make the difference between leagues a lot less than it is now. This is especially relevant between the premiership and the championship where championship team get about £1 million a year from TV and Premier League clubs get about £22 million a year. This is a huge amount.

And the longer term? Clubs are not concerned about their financial viability, they spend all their income on player wages, milk the fans dry and hope that the TV revenue will keep going up. Well as property bubble bursts, we now know that not everything always goes up.

Clubs need to learn how to say no to players and to walk away from deals if it does not suit them. I have no idea how regulations could be imposed to control this but it can’t be beyond the minds of the great and good to come up with a system to solve this problem.

I also think that there should be more security for manager. For example in Spain, managers are not allowed to manage more than one club (in Spain) in a season. This is part of the reason why Juande Ramos got the Real Madrid job as he wasn’t tied in. There has even been talk of a managerial transfer window, which i think would not work.

But then again, the managerial merry go round is part of the fabric of football and keeps the scribes in business! But at a time when we want to encourage young British managers, the system seems to be in place to keep them down.

United and Real clash once more over Ronaldo

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Manchester United have been doing all they can recently to draw attention to their actions on the pitch. They have been victorious in the Club World Cup final, defeating Liga de Quito thanks to an impressive performance from Wayne Rooney, and have also kept their Premier League bid firmly on course.

However, as interesting as this on-pitch action may be, the eyes of the global media have been firmly set on matters unfolding away from the pitch. Unsurprisingly, these matters have recently been revolving around Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid.

Pedro Trapote, the director of the Spanish club, apparently revealed that the two clubs had reached an agreement over the player, with Ronaldo set to move to Spain in the near future.

This claim angered the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, to such an extent that he branded the officials at Real Madrid a “mob” and even resorted to some comical blasphemy when he exclaimed: “Jesus Christ! I wouldn’t sell them a virus”.

Ronaldo has tried to play down this recent speculation by stating that he is very happy at the club but rumours remain that the talented footballer is set for an imminent move to Spain.

Manchester United believe that Gabriel Heinze, who previously played for the club but decided to make the move to Real Madrid, has been vocal in his support for the potential move.

Heinze and Ronaldo are close friends but Ferguson believes that the club just has to “ignore” the situation and stop worrying about what may or may not happen. He finished by stating that the club is aware of “their game" and it will not affect them.

Nigel Clough to follow in his father’s footsteps

On January 1, 2009 by

His dad was a legend who did nearly everything there is to do in club football. After ten years plying his trade at Burton Albion and taking them to the brink of promotion to the Football League, Nigel Clough made the decision to jump up and become a manager of a league club.

He was unveiled as manager of Derby County earlier this week and is probably the most noted name to ever step up from non-league management. He was long tipped to be a managerial star and most would say that he has served an extensive apprenticeship in the non-leagues and he has left Burton Albion in a fantastic position 13 points clear in the Conference and odds-on to win promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history.

Clough though whilst surely still glancing an eye at their results now has a very different challenge to relish. Derby County are lying 18th in the Championship and have been a club that hasn’t exactly had many good days since Derby won the play-off 18 months ago.

Billy Davies got sacked and Paul Jewell came in but he was unable to turn things around as the club finished bottom of the Premiership with a record low of just 11 points. They only won once in the league and that victory came under former manager Davies.

After a weak start to the season Paul Jewell seemed to turn things around but a bad run of results in December led to the former Wigan manager stating that he had taken the club as far as he could and offered his resignation. This led to the vacancy that Clough is stepping into.

Going to Derby was a big decision as 37 years ago he dad led the club to the old first division title. His mum always told his dad to ‘never go back’ and that was in his thoughts when this position arose. However he said himself that in the end the offer was ‘too good to turn down’ and he joined The Rams.

He has taken up the reins this morning following Derby’s shocking win over Manchester United in the first leg of their Carling Cup Semi-Final on Wednesday night. Derby completed outplayed their top flight counterparts and could’ve won by more than the one goal if truth be told.

If they continue to play that well then the play-offs are still well within reach. Of course the FA Cup 4th round match with his the club that made his dad famous and the club he himself played for Nottingham Forest is mouth-watering. I am disappointed that it is in the very unglamorous Friday night time-slot for live Setanta Sports coverage as it for me in by far the appetising tie of the round.

Former Forest legend Clough up against former Derby manager Billy Davies and a proper East Midlands Derby. The FA Cup doesn’t get much better than that but the prime time slots are filled up by Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur (ITV1 – 5:15 Saturday) and the 4PM Sunday slot is the Merseyside Derby between Liverpool and Everton, which you can’t argue too much with.

I’ll be following his career closely and I do hope that he is a success as the Clough name is one of the most famous in football. We at TalkFootball wish him all the best for the rest of the season and beyond.