Paul Pogba – Is he Worth it?

It took what felt like an eternity, but in the early hours of Tuesday 9th of August the new world record fee had been paid for Paul Labile Pogba.

Man Utd have signed a world class player and to seal the deal you need to pay a world class fee.

Paul-Pogba-new-Man-United-kit

A man who was let go by the Old Trafford side just 4 years ago for a reported £800K after Sir Alex took a dislike to demands being asked by Pogba’s representatives.

£89,000,000 was sent between accounts in Manchester and Turin for the French international midfielder with one main question being asked post completion…Is he worth it?

The answer is a simple yes and allow us to explain why.

Since leaving Manchester and making his debut for Juve in Sept 2012, he has been their stand out performer from the middle of the park. His stats for his 4 seasons in Italy make for impressive reading:-

Season Apps Goals Honours
2012-13 37 5 Serie A Title
2013-14 51 9 Serie A Title / Supercoppa Italiana
2014-15 41 10 Serie A Title / Coppa Italia
2015-16 49 10 Serie A Title / Coppa Italia / Supercoppa Italiana

Add into this an unexpected Champions League final appearance in 2015 and 8 high ranking individual accolades and you have a serial winner.

The Premier League is on course to break the £1billion barrier for the 1st time in the current window and with that, it’s fair to say that we live in a world of scary and shocking transfer fees. Take a look at some of the players and attached fees, some of these make the Pogba deal look more than shrewd.

  • Yannik Bolasie £25m – An inconsistent winger
  • James Chester £9m – A defender deemed surplus at West Brom
  • Gonzalo Higuain £75m – A goal scorer but absent in the biggest games
  • All Chinese Super League inbound transfers – Pure madness!

Pogba has matured into a genuine world class footballer and is now at one of the biggest clubs in the world once again. His name will drive up shirt sales, attract new sponsors, gain additional fans and raise the clubs’ profile even further.

£89m will prove a drop in the ocean spread over the next 7-10 years that you’d expect him to wear the red of Manchester. Also combine the deal with the free transfer of Zlatan and you have an enviable summer window.

Paul Pogba is worth every penny paid by Man Utd!

Burnley Manager Sean Dyche gave a frank and honest interview on Talk Sport recently, something we would encourage all to find and listen to. In the midst of Dyche detailing the media fascinations with foreign coaches and training methods he spoke about transfer fees. Burnley cut their cloth accordingly and simply cannot over spend. He stated that an unnamed club quoted a fee for a player but were open enough to tell the Turf Moor outfit to add £2m to the price, purely because they were a Premier League side. Now you could call this jealousy, but let’s be honest it’s just chairmen out to grab a share of the well documented riches. If top tier clubs get top tier money then you’re going to have to expect to pay inflated prices.

Ultimately no footballer is worth £89m and realistically no footballer is worth £20m but the TV money controls the game at the highest level .

Expect the record Pogba fee to stand for a time but certainly not for a long one. You have to wonder who is going to be the £100m player in the not too distant future.

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Zlatan – Coming to a ground near you?

Sunday 13th March 2016, the day that PSG clinched the Ligue1 Championship for a 4th successive season, also the day the Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirmed that he will be moving on from the French Capital after a 4 year stay. The title win was his 10th trophy at Parc des Princes since his unveiling in July 2012.

The official quote of “for the moment, I will not be at PSG next season. I still have a month and a half left here” will have set chairmen all over Europe searching for enough room in their budgets for the Sweden captain. He did however go on to say “if they replace the Eiffel Tower with a statue of me, then I will stay.” With all the ego in the world, I’m sure he was being serious too!

Zlatan-Eiffel-Tower

He has competed at the top level in Sweden, Holland, Italy, Spain and France. He can state Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter & AC Milan, Barcelona and PSG as his club sides. Add into this his 111 Sweden caps, 27 trophies and you have 1 illustrious career.

So, the key question…Where is he going to be playing his football next season?

There are 4 possible destinations but the obvious and most exciting one would be the English Premier League. You can’t see Bayern or Dortmund requiring his services so that rules out Germany and we feel it far too soon in his career for moves to the MLS or China.

The Premier League for all of its merits does lack some genuine world class players and all of the top clubs will be scrambling for Ibrahimovic. His 102 goals in 115 games in Paris prove he still has what it takes, including 2 against Chelsea in the recent Champions League tie for anyone that questions France as a weaker league.

With the man being available on a free transfer, the high wages that the man himself will command will be acceptable due to the lack of transfer fee.

The usual suspects will be linked and you’ll struggle to create a compelling argument as to which side he wouldn’t improve. Given the way this season has gone domestically there will be 1 or 2 surprise destinations mentioned.

How about West Ham? London living, new Olympic stadium and European football ticks all the boxes Ibrahimovic and Payet certainly creates excitement.

Champions Laegue - "Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven"

Taking a sensible look at it however it has to be… Manchester United.

They need a striker, someone who can take an amount of pressure from Rooney as the main man. Perhaps more importantly he can act as a tutor to Martial and Rashford. He would instantly be a cult hero and could provide a low risk big name signing for the expected new manager in charge at Old Trafford.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is made for the Theatre Of Dreams.

We hope to see the mercurial talent on Match Of The Day soon, just not being judged by the likes of Jason Roberts or John Hartson!

Zlatan Eiffel Tower Image sourced from; www.mirror.co.uk/sport
Zlatan Manchester United Image sourced from; www.thedailymail.co.uk/sport/football

The Europa League just got Interesting!

Last week saw the draw for the last 16 of the Europa League and what a draw it was!

Europa-League-Draw

Of the remaining 16 teams, 3 have won European Cup / Champions League with 5 having contested finals.

With the Europa now offering a coveted place in the top competition it is more than worth winning.

Thursday’s look like they are about to provide a spectacle worthy of Europe’s 2nd competition. For too long the we have mostly ignored Coupe UEFA for a reason we actually can’t answer.

Perhaps the competition is too long? Maybe we don’t understand the 18:00 kick off times? You could argue there are too many teams we don’t know? Or are just blinded by the glamour of the Champions League?

We are looking at Liverpool v Man United for the 1st time in a non-domestic meeting. 180 minutes of packed European nights at 2 of the most iconic stadiums in world football. One of the most intense rivalries brought together on a stage we wouldn’t expect.

Throw in the bonus element of small travel time and a St Patrick’s day 2nd leg at Old Trafford, the Guinness will be flowing in the North West that’s for sure.

Add in high flying Tottenham v Borussia Dortmund, an all Spanish clash of Athletic Bilbao v Valencia and Sevilla going for a 3rd successive title…you have one hell of a competition remaining!

Realistically of the remaining sides who could honestly say they don’t want, or in some cases need, to win this trophy.

Which fan wouldn’t want to travel to a European final ?

Sevilla

We will be tuned into the latter stages with a keen eye on the outcomes of the afore mentioned ties.

Put aside the “Thursday – Sunday” debate and embrace it as an additional midweek game to watch.

So let’s all take a positive outlook into the remaining games, after all who knows…Mr Guardiola may just be strutting his stuff here next season if recent form continues.

Europa League draw image sourced from; http://www.uefa.com
Sevilla Europa Cup winners image sourced from; http://worldsoccertalk.com

 

The January Transfer Window – Who Needs What?

The festive season has come and gone, we’ve eaten and drank our weight multiple times over and December coming to an end means one thing…..the January transfer window is now OPEN!

So with that in mind, we are going to take a look at teams from various leagues and in various predicaments.

transfer-centre-transfer-window-generic

We are going to summarise what they need and who they need to hold onto in order to prolong, challenge for honours or in some cases save their 2015-16 season.

Man Utd
Where to start with the world famous Red Devils?!

LVG has already spent over £250Mil and achieved no more than the sacked Scot David Moyes. I would question the Old Trafford’s board decision to give him much more money, but they do need at least 1 position filled.

The post Fergie era has been slightly worse than expected but transition was inevitable, Champions League qualification is the minimum but even that is in danger.

Cole, Yorke, Sheringham, Van Nistelrooy….where is United’s lethal feared finisher?

What do they need -A proven striker is a must, Higuain or Zlatan could be achievable.

Higuain-Image

Aberdeen
There may well just be a sustained title challenge to Celtic this year.

Aberdeen will stutter and drop points that the Glasgow giants won’t, however we are in January and they are only 3 points behind.

Derek McInnes will be a wanted man come the end of the season for sure so this could be a big few months for the former Rangers man.

They are too reliant on a couple of players (like most SPL clubs) but need to add a touch more quality to pull away from the rest and closer to the top.

What do they need – A back up striker to take the pressure from Adam Rooney.
Who can’t they afford to lose – Niall McGinn.

Sheff Wed
One of the “big” clubs still plying their trade in the 2nd tier, this season however is looking different for the Owls.

Currently one place outside the play offs they have a real chance of being in the end of season shake up to return to the bright lights of the Premier League.

Carlos Carvalhal’s men are strong in certain areas of the park but are missing a bit of squad depth for the final few weeks of the season.

They could do with adding 3-4 players, if they can find the right ones to add to the underappreciated players they currently have in the side.

Ashley Westwood, Michael Turner, Sam Hutchinson & Fernando Forestieri provide a fantastic spine for a team at this level.

What do they need – A creative / goalscoring midfielder such as Alan Judge at Brentford.
– A winger to provide needed width
– Centre half cover

Sunderland

The Black Cats are more than likely in a “sell before you buy” situation.

They have a lot of squad players picking up good money who have been purchased by many previous bosses. This is a club who pays Patrick Van Aanholt to play football!

Looking at the players available Sunderland do have a decent Premier League forward line. Defoe, Fletcher and Borini should score enough to win the club points when they are needed. It’s the other areas of the pitch that are the problem.

I can see the likes of Danny Graham, Adam Matthews and Will Buckley heading for the exit door.

One thing is for sure though, Big Sam will bring in trusted and experienced players in order to help beat the drop.

What do they need – A good centre half (O’Shea, Brown,Coates and Kaboul provide poor options)
– Full back cover left and right
-A winger to put the ball in the box

Who can’t they afford to lose – Jermain Defoe for goals and Lee Cattermole due to suspension!

James Tomkins is someone Big Sam would trust and could sign.James-Tomkins

Coventry City

Finally the Sky Blues appear to be on the right track back up the leagues. After being relegated to League One in 2012 they have a serious chance of promotion back to the Championship, a level at which a club of this stature should be operating.

Tony Mowbray has done a great job since taking over in March 2015, Keeping them up before taking them into the play off places.

Youth mixed with experience is a great balance at this level and they have that in abundance at the Ricoh Arena.

What do they need – A striker to share the responsibility with Adam Armstrong
– A permanent deal for Joe Cole, amazing player to have in the dressing room

Who can’t they afford to lose – Adam Armstrong, 16 goals in 22 games speaks for itself

Cases could have been made for Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Crewe Alexandra and Dundee United however I’m afraid all of your seasons look to be beyond salvation.

Whatever happens we are sure to see records broken, last minute deals and panic buys between now and 11pm on February 1st.

We all love it really.

Transfer Window Image Sourced From; www.skysports.com
Higuain & Ibrahimovic Image Sourced From; www.gettyimages.com
James Tomkins Image Sourced From; www.express.co.uk/sport

What’s Wrong with the League Cup?

This week we have yet again seen most of the “big” clubs bow out of the league cup with little more than a whimper.

Arsenal and Manchester United struggled to generate meaningful attempts on goal, never mind coming close to scoring one against 2 championship clubs in the shape of Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough. Yes, both teams are in decent form, but still lower league opposition none the less.

Wednesday and Middlesbrough were both set up prepared to defend but both played some good football and were both worthy winners in my opinion.

The Arsenal back 4 consisted of full internationals which between them have more than 250 caps yet they were torn apart at times by Ross Wallace and Barry Bannan, 2 players who you could argue are drinking in the last chance saloon.

Whilst Man United never looked like breaking down a stubborn Boro side with the “next generation players” of Lingaard, Wilson and Perreira.

Arsneal-crash-out-of-league-cup

So what are the main points here?

  • Why only use the league cup to play these youngsters? How will they learn to get better after these defeats?
  • Do you honestly expect to win the competition with the squads you choose?
  • Whose decision is it to prioritise competitions?

As a dedicated and football loving fan I know how special cup final days are, I don’t remember the years where my teams finished 3rd which guaranteed European football, or the fact that we were knocked out in the early stages.

I, like most others, can name the dates and years in which we reached the finals and even more so the ones in which we were triumphant! The days where our skipper lifted that trophy above his head and the roar and buzz that it created, days that will live with me forever.

These are the memories and feelings that the likes of LVG and Arsene Wenger are choosing to deny their fans.

It’s about time domestic success was treated equally as important as Champions League cash.

Good luck to the 8 teams remaining in the competition and here’s hoping someone creates a lifelong memory.

Birmingham-League-Cup-Winners-2011

Arsenal verses Sheffield Wednesday Image sourced from; www.telegraph.co.uk
Birmingham League Cup Winners 2011 Image sourced from; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/