Friday, December 31, 2010

Wigan Sign Adrian Lopez

Wigan have signed former Deportivo Le Coruna central defender, Adrian Lopez. Lopez had been plying his trade in Deportivo for the last 3 years and received Spanish U-19 and U-21 caps.

Deportivo unfortunately saw no reason to extend his contract last June and so he became a free agent. Wigan manager Roberto Martinez became aware of the situation and snapped him up, just in time for the January transfer window. Lopez had been training with Wigan and was due to move earlier but FIFA were forced to give him clearance first.

Roberto Martinez was reached for comment and he said
 
"It's great to see Adrian's desire to play for Wigan Athletic can finally be fulfilled.
"We've been waiting a while for the Fifa resolution."
 

Martinez then went on to the praise the young regarding his abilities.

"He is a defender who is very calm under pressure, and is a great reader of the game," explained Martinez.
"He is a player with a fantastic football education, coming through the ranks of Deportivo La Coruna and playing for Spain at Under 19 and Under 21 level, which gives him a unique development and makes him a defender with real potential."

Roberto Ayala Retires

Roberto Ayala yesterday called time on his career as a professional footballer, ending back in his home country with club 'Racing Club'.

Ayala had a long illustrious career that dated by to the late nineties and had previously plied his trade with Real Zaragoza & Valencia, both of Spain.


Ayala featured in Spain for 15 seasons, mostly with Valencia, and had more than 100 caps for the Spanish giants. Ayala also scored 15 goals in his career, considerably high for a defender. During his career with Valencia, he won the La Liga title 2 times in 3 years and he was influential in their Champions League campaign of 2000/01 as he guided them to the final, eventually losing out to rivals Real Madrid on penalties.

Ayala was seen as one of the best central defenders the world back in the early 2000's and had cemented his place with the Argentine national team. He went on to play 23 games for Argentina, a massive understatement considering his talent.

Chelsea's £17 Million Bid For David Luiz Rejected

Chelsea have officially had a bid for Benfica star David Luiz turned down, who is also a target for Roberto Mancini. Cheslea had lodged a bid in the region of £17 million but had it rejected, with Benfica pointing to the higher price of £43 million, his release clause. Benfica would probably let the Brazilian go with a deal around £26 million. It seems that Ancelotti is keen to add to his defence this upcoming January with his defensive casualties and a move for David Luiz would be money well spent. Luiz is a versatile defender, as he can play centre back and left back.

Luiz has also attracted interest from Manchester City, but in fairness, who hasn't? The Mancunian club have been linked with everyone from A-Z in the world of football over the last year but have finally taken the first step in signing Wolfsburg striker, making the progression into talking possible deals with his agent.

Luiz boasts a decent tally of 70 caps for the Portuguese outfit, and has been strongly linked to the Premier League since last summer.

Has Mark Hughes Lost His Touch?

Mark Hughes looking weary
As Hodgson departed beloved Fulham earlier this year, Mark Hughes was the man they looked to for success in the Premier League. It was hard to come by for Hughes and co, so I've put the question, has Mark Hughes lost his touch?

Fulham appointed Mark Hughes in the wake of Craven Cottage hero Roy Hodgson leaving, and he was looked to, to repeat Fulham's fine form from previous years. Hodgson had finished a fine 7th with Fulham in 2009 and Hughes had received a massive weight on his shoulders. The weight proved too big, and Hughes has considerably crumbled as Fulham manager since his appointment in late July.

He was seen as the successor of Hodgson and having managed a club with the calibre of Manchester City, things were expected to happen at Craven Cottage this season. A season which had promised so much potentially, failed to deliver as Fulham now sit in 18th position, dangerously waving above Wolves and West Ham.

Early season form was key to Fulham's downward spiral, but there were some notable highlights, like clawing Manchester United back to a 2-2 draw. We are now halfway through the season and pundits everywhere are starting to wonder whether or not Mark Hughes is going to get the boot. There's already been 3 Premier League managerial casualties this season and Mark Hughes may as well become the fourth if he doesn't improve Fulham's form drastically. After all, Fulham are at least expected to finish in the top half following their delightful performances whilst Roy Hodgson was boss. They still have a chance you know, with the Premier League table unbelievably tight this season, with Fulham only 3 points adrift off 11th placed Everton.

It was reported early this week that, like West Ham manager Avram Grant, Hughes has been issued an ultimatum to get the season back on track for the Cottagers. He's been given three games to turn the clubs fortunes around and with matches against Tottenham, West Brom & Wigan, there's definitely a possibility of 3 points up for grabs.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ozil Delighted At Madrid

Mesut Ozil yesterday shone a light on his career short at Madrid, which has yet to last 6 months, but he's claimed he's delighted at the opportunity given to him by Jose Mournho. He was one of the stars to feature at this years World Cup, earning him worldwide recognition and as a result, securing a move to the Bernabeau.

(Translation was given in Spanish so sorry if it's sketchy).


“I have adapted fast. I have had the support of my family who was with me the first weeks. Everything is very familiar. The training are taken in serious, but we passed it well together outside the field”

Ozil has claimed that Real Madrid is "one of the greater clubs of the world"  and Ozil still has "dreams to fulfill" as he aims to become one of the worlds greatest in the game.

  "The long term objective is to be one of the best ones of the world. For that reason I took the step to come to Madrid, because I want to continue evolving here, with Mourinho”.

It's noticed from this interview that Ozil is thoroughly enjoying life in Madrid and he wants to continue to aim for trophies in the future with Real Madrid. Talking to "Weekly XL" he recalled the day he received the call from Mourinho, asking him to join Real Madrid.

 
 “I am very to taste with my new trainer, and not only because it has gained many titles with several equipment. In order to come here most important it was the conversation with him when it was in the Werder Bremen. It said to me it at all costs loved that me in the equipment. It lasted half an hour, three quarters, by telephone. It convinced to me and for that reason I am here.
 

Villarreal Keen On Lucas Leiva


AS, situated in Spain, have reported that Spanish side Villareal are interested in Liverpool midfielder, Lucas Leiva.

Leiva had looked to have been a poor signing by Liverpool's standards but he has started somewhat of a revival whilst at the club, leaving journalists to resort that it "took him time" to adapt to life in the Premier League.

Lucas currently has a contract at Anfield until 2012 and if he continues to perform well this season he could see that contract extended, warning off any potential bids. Sporting director of Liverpool Daniel Commoli, has said that he had in fact, made contact to  renew the Brazilians contract.

Liverpool might have to resort selling the midfielder in order to generate some funds for the January transfer window as Liverpool will be limited come January.

Fergie Takes Revenge On Preston

Yesterday we saw Sir Alex Ferguson's son, Darren, get the boot from Preston North End, following his abysmal start to the Championship campaign. Darren Ferguson has lead the club to bottom of the league and he only has himself to blame.

However, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to get involved and launched a scathing attack on Preston, recalling United defender Ritchie De Laet & striker Joshua King both from their respective loans. Preston North End chairman Maurice Lindsey was reached for comment today and he said

“This has come as a shock to us and a bit of a blow. “Ritchie de Laet and Joshua King won’t be available for Saturday’s game [against Derby] because we got a message from Manchester United this morning to inform us that they had been summoned back immediately and, under the terms of the agreement, they can do that."

“It’s a big blow for us. These are two players, young and enthusiastic, who seemed to be enjoying it at Preston, so to be told by their parent club that they can’t play for us again really is sad indeed.”

Ferguson's record at Preston was dismal to say the least, only managing 13 wins in 49 matches, a big step up from managing Peterborough in League 1. He had considerable success with Peterborough, gaining promotion twice in successive seasons, leading them to the Championship.


Mourinho Planning €35 Million Bid for Cesc Fabregas

In an astonishing story broken by Madrid newspaper, Marca, it's been reported that Real Madrid manager Jose Mournho will make a move for Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas. Real will battle it out with Barca for the signing of Cesc Fabregas, which will apparently occur this coming summer for a fee reported to be in the region of €35 million.

Fabregas was the main talking point in the transfer window last time around, and was heavily linked with a move back to home club Barcelona. He was even pictured wearing a Barcelona shirt, which sparked outrage amongst Arsenal fans.

Mourinho has been looking for the perfect partner to accommodate pass master Xabi Alonso, and together they would create the world's finest midfield pairing.

Fabregas was one of Wengers first big youth signing and he has evolved as one of the greatest players ever to ply his trade at the London based club. He has scored 3 and assisted 6 this season, unfortunately hampered by injuries. He was also made captain when Thierry Henry departed for the sunny city of Barcelona in 2007.

Has Roy Hodgson's Tenure At Anfield Come To An End?

The pressure was heaped on manager Roy Hodgson last night as his Liverpool side fell victim to a spirited Wolves performance, losing 1-0.

There's been controversy surrounding Hodgson throughout his entire time at Liverpool and this latest installment accompanies the cruel comments made about him. Tonight was the perfect night for Liverpool, as they looked to get back on track in their season following a run of three defeats in four. But, It was not the case as a 56th minute goal from Stephen Ward piled on the pressure at Anfield and there are growing doubts whether or not Hodgson is longer eligible for the job.

Liverpool currently sit in 12th position, ironically the same as Fulham at this stage last year, and are set for their points to accumulate to 46 points - yep you guessed it, the same as Fulham last season.

When Liverpool appointed Hodgson they had mainly only done so due to his considerably good success in Europe, for only one season. It was a crazy appointment at the time, and still is in the present as Hodgson has continually struggled throughout his time at Anfield.

Hodgson, since 1999, has gone club hopping and has arrived at 9, soon to be 10 clubs. His appointment at Fulham was of course risky but it paid off with marvelous performances in Europe as well as guiding them to a top 7 finish in 2009, just before his departure.

There have already been rumors speculating over who the next manager will be, with Frank Rijkard currently leading the pack.

United Ready To Offer €20 million For Belgian Sensation

It's become known that United have been chasing Belgian teen Romelo Lukaku and are willing to make a bid for him come this January. Lukaku's been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League, with Manchester City, Chelsea and even Spanish giants Real Madrid showing an interest.

Lukaku gave an interview to a local Belgian newspaper a while back claiming that he preferred the choice of Chelsea - not Real Madrid, as he figured that with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Gozalo Higuian and Cristiano Ronaldo, he would rarely get to feature.

Dubbed "the new Drogba" Lukaku already has 14 goals to his name for this season,well on his way to beat last seasons tally of 18.

Arsenal Interested In Argentine Centre Back

Arsenal have reportedly shown an interest in Real Madrid centre back Ezequiel Garay as they continue to scour Europe for world class defenders.

Top Arsenal scouts are apparently searching Europe for defenders and Garay has picked up a considerable amount of interest. A rumored fee of £8 million is on the cards and at that bargain price, why not?

Garay arrived at the Benabeau just two and a half years ago but has struggled to make an impression and features rarely for Los Blancos. In the 2009/10 season, Garay had become a regularity amongst Jose Mourinho's squad but with the entrance of former Chelsea star Ricardo Carvalho, those chances became inevitably scuppered for the foreseeable future.

Mixed Emotions For Big Three As Chelsea End Slump

Tonight featured three of the traditional big four in the Premier League as Chelsea finally ended a run of 6 winless games with a win over a gritty Bolton side. Bolton would have leapped Chelsea to 5th if they had won but found no way through a stubborn Chelsea defence as they held out for a slender 1-0 victory.

 Chelsea vs Bolton 1-0

It was Bolton who looked the better side in the first half, defending imperiously and were arguably the better side, with Chelsea failing to materialise anything. Chances were limited in this very tight encounter and Chelsea never looked like ending their worst run of form for over ten years.

But in the second half everything changed. On 61 minutes, Michael Essien barged his way through midfield and slipped through the narrowly onside Drogba who then crossed for Malouda to slot home into an empty net. It was undeserved for the hosts but it gave them a glimmer of hope. Bolton were a totally different side in the second half, with everything they had worked for in the first evaporating and it inevitably put them in a state of panic.

Chelsea held on to what looked like an unlikely victory as they leapfrogged London rivals Tottenham, back into 4th and came to within 2 points of Arsenal.

Wigan vs Arsenal 2-2

Arsenal were next up as they travelled to Wigan as they looked to end the night joint top of the table. It turned out to be an enthralling encounter as Arsenal were pegged back late on to draw 2-2. Arsenal were expected to tromp the Latics but that never say die attitude kicked in and Arsenal dropped valuable points in their quest to capture a title for the first time in six years.

It all started in the 17th minute. An Arsenal corner was counter attacked by Wigan as they moved the ball quickly and then Charles N'Zogbia ran half the pitch, dodging and weaving his way through before he was subsequently fouled by Laurent Koscielny who has endured a turbulent time since his arrival. Ben Watson calmly walked up and tucked it away superbly beyond Fabianski's reach, as the Latics were in dreamland. But that ecstasy was short-lived when in the 39th minute Chamakh lobbed over for Bentder, before Andrey Arshavin produced an expert finish from the rebound.

The Gunners then took the lead on the stroke of half time. Arshavin this time turned provider and sent Bendter, rather luckily, through one on one and he finished, beating Al-habsi at his near post.

But the drama had yet to conclude. A Wigan corner was met by the head of Steven Caldwell, who netted his first goal of the season. It may go down as an o.g. by Laurent Koscielny as on second viewing, he had actually got the head to it.

Arsenal continued to apply pressure but the Latics held on for a famous 2-2 draw. Wenger will be frustrated with this considering his team couldn't build on their scuppering of struggling Chelsea.


Liverpool vs Wolves 0-1

This game was a must win for either club. A win for Wolves would increase their chances of Premier League survival, while Liverpool could really do with a win under their belt in order to get their season up and running. Liverpool have endured a considerable amount of hardship under Roy Hodgson and it continued here against lowly Wolves at Anfield, in front of 41,614 hopeful fans.

Liverpool were boosted by the return of their influential captain Steven Gerrard as they looked to finally gain some momentum in the league. Wolves who had not won at Anfield in a massive 26 years were hoping for any kind of result to help them of the bottom of the table.

It was an entertaining game from the off, with Wolves looking the stronger of the two early on. The Wolves defence were nearly caught asleep as a quick free kick by Fernando Torres released Raul Meireles but he could only shoot at keeper Wayne Hennesey as the Wolves defence once again showed their defensive weakness. The first half belonged to Wolves as their passing at times resembled a certain Barcelona but they failed to find an end product.

The second half was controversial in it's own right and on 56 minutes Wolves took the lead. Irishman Stephen Ward pounced on a defensive error between  Kyrgiakos and Skrtel as he gave Wolves the slimmest of leads. In truth, Liverpool never looked like winning, or even scoring a goal as they succumbed to their third defeat in four games. There were cries among Anfield once again, some even shouting "Daglish" as a possible replacement for under fire Hodgson.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pennant Signs Permanent Deal For the Potters

Stoke have agreed a potential fee of £2.8 million from Zaragoza for Jermain Pennant and he has joined on a two and a half year deal, having impressed since he arrived back in August. Manager Tony Pulis was delighted with the signing and mentioned that he had played a huge part in Stoke's campaign so far this season.

Former Liverpool star Pennant has 3 assists to his name so far for Tony Pulis' side and has shown glimpses of what made him one of Birmingham's best players back in the 2005/06 season.

My 2011 Football Manager Season So Far..

Since it's a relatively slow day in transfer gossip, I thought I might interest you all in a summary of my 2011 Football Manager season with West Ham.

I chose West Ham simply because I wanted to take on a challenge and in real time that's the case. I struggled in my first season, narrowly avoiding relegation with a 1-0 win over Burnley on the last day. In the build up to that season I had signed Dimitar Berbatov, Miroslav Klose & Allesandro Nesta on free transfers, but I soon found out they were far past their primes and they rarely aided.

The one shining light in that season was my young striker Emile Pilkington. I had orginally started up front with Carlton Cole & Frederic Piquionne but when they started shooting blanks I introduced Pilkington on for Cole. Pilkington soon became my super sub, banging in the goals and finishing with a superb tally of 18 for the season. New signing Charlie Adam was also imperious as he notched up 14 goals and 10 assists. He was the perfect replacement for Scott Parker, who I had decided to sell because of his poor performances.

Barely staying up, I decided to rummage around for free agents and I found an array of fantastic players. I signed Arsenal midfielder Denilson, Shay Given, Emmanuel Eboue & Kieran Gibbs. With the money that I was supplied and the players that I sold, the original West Ham team was virtually unnoticeable. I signed Alexandre Monteiro who was instrumental in the Hammer's season. Together, Monteiro & Adam tore the Premier League to shreds, and as a result I finished in a spectacular 7th, just missing out on a European place due to Leicester winning the FA Cup.

Progressing into my 3rd season I once again, rummaged around for free agents and to my amazement, Eden Hazard had not been snapped up. He became my top earner and top performer as I entered the new season in tip top fashion. During pre-season I had also snapped up Gareth Barry, Brazilian Giuliano, Danish international Nicolai Jorgensen to help boost my potential position for the upcoming season. Hazard & Nigerian Mohanned Okeke quickly became my best players, sharing the praise, with numerous man of the match performances.

flying high with the hammers
I started the season in spectacular fashion, going a record 14 games unbeaten and rising up to second. Okeke had scored a promising 10 goals by October and was quickly establishing himself as a massive hit with the fans. A run which featured beating top spot Manchester United saw my West Ham as the surprise package of the Premier League with 15 games gone. However a dip in form saw my beloved Hammers fall to 5th, losing 5 in a row in all competitions, slowly slumping down the table. Reality was starting to hit my players and injuries also played a part of that crisis with Rob Green, Gareth Barry, Monteiro & Okeke all succumbing.

I am currently in 5th position, with 26 points from 17 games and I'm due to face Sunderland in what promises to be an enthralling encounter which I should prevail from.

Hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to leave feedback, comments etc.

Asian Cup 2011 & An Outlook On The Notable Premier League Absentee's


With the start of the Asian Cup looming in January, we can only ponder what the clubs will be like, having lost some of their most valuable assets in the process.

A vital player leaving Everton in January is Aussie starman Tim Cahill. He has been the stand out figure for the Toffee's disappointing start to the Premier League season with 9 goals to his name, some of them proving vital. He was instrumental in Everton's win over title contenders Man City last monday night, scoring a header, something to well known amongst Premier League staticians, and setting up Leighton Baines, to hopefully kickstart the Toffee's season.

Another iconic figure that will be on his way to Qatar for the Asian Cup in 2010 will be Manchester United regular Park Ji-Sung. He may not be a well-known figure amongst the footballing world but he has delivered and stepped up to the plate when United have needed him most, scoring that vital double against Wolves & also a crucial goal against Arsenal . He may not be dearly missed but he will miss a large portion of United's games come late January/early Feb and hopefully by then Rooney will be in-form and scoring goals for fun, keeping United at the summit.

Bolton playmaker Lee Chung Yong will also be missing as he's joining Park Ji Sung & South Korea in an attempt to redeem their world cup woes. Lee currently has 2 goals & 4 assists and has been a fantastic signing since arriving from FC Seoul.

More key players vanishing come January will be Blackburn's Brett Emerton, Blackpool's David Karney & and it will be by no means a negative for the premier league. It will give clubs the opportunity to test out some of their young guns and give them a taste of life in the premier league.

The host country of next years Asian Cup, Qatar, has been at the centre of controversy in recent weeks surrounding its successful World Cup 2022 bid. Next year is a perfect example of how a competition of such magnitude can be staged in a weak footballing nation. There is talk of air conditioners being introduced in stadiums in order to withstand the heat.

What is also notable is the fact that it's placed in January, which FIFA has strongly debated whether or not the World Cup 2022 would suit in January, due to unbearable temperatures in the summer, reaching up to 50c.

This is a perfect test run for how the World Cup will be staged at Qatar come 2022 and hopefully the controversy will be re evaluated come 2022.

Juventus Make Swoop For Robin Van Persie




Juventus have apparently shown interest in Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie. A £27 million deal is doing the rounds, and Arsenal may receive long sought after target, Felipe Melo.
 
Juventus are looking to bolster their strike force come January, with the average age of their forwards set to reach a hazardous 32. And With Del Piero set to retire, Van Persie would be an ideal replacement and would have considerable success with the club.

Van Persie has been plagued by injuries of late and a move to Turn would excite the Dutchman.

In his six and a half year career at Arsenal, Van Persie has only managed an FA Cup winners medal and a move to Turin could tempt him, since they are holding their own in Serie A.

Clearance Sale At Eastlands







Time : 1st January - 31 January
Location : Eastlands

GET YOUR PLAYERS HALF OFF HERE!

 Roque Santa Cruz, Shaun Right Phillips,Emmanuel Adebayor,
Shay Given, Wayne Bridge & Carlos Tevez 

- ALL HALF PRICE!




Roque Santa Cruz - As I posted earlier, he's on his way to Lazio to start playing regularly again.

Shaun Wright Phillips
- Wanted by Newcastle, has rarely featured for City this season. Also wanted by Tottenham.

Emmaunel Adebayor - Has fallen down the pecking order, now third behind Tevez & Jo. Recently linked with Liverpool and a loan move to West Ham is still pending.

Shay Given - Linked with Manchester United & more so with AS Roma. Growing increasingly frustrated, there's basically a reserved seat for him on the bench.

Wayne Bridge
- Has vanished from team altogether due to arrival of Kolorov & Zabeleta. Needs to start playing first team football to regain a place on England national team. Famously snubbed former team mate John Terry regarding the alleged affair. Recently associated with West Ham.

Carlos Tevez - Issued a transfer request, then withdrew it however there is more to come from the City captain. Whilst we were in the midst of the saga Tevez was linked with Real Madrid, Chelsea and home team Boca Juniors. Watch this space!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Liverpool Table £12.5 Million Bid For Gervinho

According to imscouting, it's been reported that Liverpool have lodged an official bid for 23 year old Lille forward Gervinho.

Liverpool have been searching for a suitable partner for Fernando Torres for little over two years now, and with David N'gog and Milan Jovanovic failing, Liverpool have seem to have taken an interest in the Ivorian Coast striker.

Gervinho has performed considerably well this season in Ligue 1, scoring 7 and assisting 4, helping Lille to top spot.

If you like the blog please tell your friends/family to check it out as it's struggling to pick up views!
Thanks!

MLS Star Omar Cummings Set To Train With Aston Villa


Yet more activity has arrived from MLS and this time it surrounds Colorado Rapids star Omar Cummings and a possible loan move to Aston Villia.

Cummings scored an impressive 14 goals for the MLS team last term and has caught the eye of many in Europe.

Rapids coach Gary Smith had said “Aston Villa contacted us a few weeks ago with interest to see Omar up close. “After discussing the opportunity with Omar, we felt it would be a good chance for him to get a leg up on preseason training and at the same time get the experience of training with a Premier League club.” Cummings is only 28 and if he has a successful spell in the midlands we could get used to seeing him feature in the Premier League.

Come this years transfer window, it remains to be seen how many MLS stars will be linked to England. Big names Landon Donovan & David Beckham were linked heavily, while not so well known names such as Robbie Findley, have arrived in England and signed for clubs.

Birmingham & United Share The Spoils

It's that kind of season, isn't it? Just when things are going to plan, you're hit with the unexpected and it's suddenly too late too react. This was the case tonight for Manchester United as they shared the spoils in a, dare I say it, boring encounter prior to the latter stages of the game. The game typified United's season so far as their away form hasn't been the best, winning only 1 on the road so far this season. A stubborn Birmingham side proved tough to break down and when Dimitar Berbatov scored to bring his tally to 14 in the league, it was United who would seem to prevail. St. Andrew's has become a bit of a fortress for Birmingham with only 1 loss in 15 prior to this match and with this result, they now extend it to 16.

The first half was lacklustre compared to United against Sunderland. Birmingham's well organised defence shielded United from building up any potential leads. Birmingham had the better of the early exchanges with Cameron Jerome going close. United started to build up possession and when Rooney dragged wide things were starting to look better for the Red Devils. Rooney was also involved in another typical United move as Berbatov fed Rooney who then shot rather tamely at former United keeper Ben Foster.

The best moment came on the 22nd minute mark as a Ryan Giggs cross was expertly dealt with by Ben Foster, tipping it on the post as United started to take control. Between then and the end of the half chances were limited and there wasn't much action with Birmingham defending resolutely.

The second half was far more livelier and in the 58th minute Manchester United took the lead. Ryan Giggs picked up the ball in midfield and passed it to Berbatov who quickly laid off to Darron Gibson who then travelled a metre or two before returning the favour to Berbatov, who beat Foster at his near post. Foster would have been disappointed to concede against his old club, especially in such a manner as he probably should have saved Berbatov's shot.

Two minutes later United were at it again and it was Berbatov who was again involved, shuffling the ball superbly and striking the frame as the post as the resilient Birmingham defence started to wobble.

Alex McLeish introduced former Arsenal ace Alexander Hleb on for Sebastian Larsonn as Birmingham searched desperately for an equaliser. But it was United who showed more promise, with Vidic forcing a smart save from Foster.

The last ten minutes were nervy for United as their defence hasn't been at their absolute best this campiagn and with the introduction of Nickola Zigic, Birmingham drew level.

A cross was delivered to the far post by Roger Johnson, handled by Zigic over to Lee Bowyer, who then slid in to draw level. It was no more than what the hosts deserved, from their imperious defencive duties.

Teams:

Manchester United: Edwin van Der Sar, Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Darron Gibson, Anderson, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov  Subs: Kuszczak, Gary Neville, Javier Hernandez, Frederico Macheda, Gabriel Obertan, Darren Fletcher, Jonny Evans

Birmingham: Ben Foster, Stephen Carr, Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Liam Ridgewell, Sebastien Larsonn, Barry Ferguson, Craig Gardener, Lee Bowyer, Jean Beausjour, Cameron Jerome  Subs: Maik Taylor, Kevin Phillips, Matt Derbyshire, Keith Fahey, Nicolas Zigic, Alexandre Hleb, Martin Jiranek

Foster Reflects on Time at United

As Birmingham take on Manchester United later this evening, former United keeper Ben Foster shed light on his time at Old Trafford, before he eventually became restless & made the switch to the midlands.

Foster revealed that he was in fact grateful for his time at Manchester but he became frustrated at the lack of first team action he was receiving.

"Some of the times at United, I didn't enjoy. It's a very difficult football club from any other I've been at. It's very cut-throat. It's success at all costs. I love winning, I really do - anything I do, if I'm playing well at home with my missus, I want to win - but it got to a point where I didn't enjoy it.

What Foster says is true, however he did have a spell in 2007 where everything was going his own way. Loaned out to Watford to gain first team action Foster's display of dominance earned him an England call-up and a debut against Spain in February of 2007. He continued to impress and showed no sign of slowing down as he was rapidly evolving as quite a young talent amongst English football.

After that successful loan at Watford he returned to United in search of regaining a first team place but he once again lost out to United veteran Edwin van Der Sar. He started to become increasingly frustrated at the lack of first team action playing every once in a while, often in the 'dead rubbers'.

"I couldn't get my head around the fact you'd play once in a blue moon and then be expected to come back in and do it again. I couldn't deal with that.When I'm playing week in, week out, that's when you know you love what you are doing."

2009 was another big year for the Englishman as he was given a rare start by manager Sir Alex Ferguson in the Carling Cup final against Tottenham. He displayed an account of dominance as he was crowned man of the match for his penalty shoot-out save from hapless Jamie O'Hara with David Bentley squandering his opportunity, shooting wide giving United the Carling Cup.

In late 2009 United keeper Edwin van Der Sar became incapable of a place of a starting team due to hurting himself saving a pre-season penalty. Foster quickly became favourite at Old Trafford but various mistakes against the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City cost him his place. When Van Der Sar returned Foster's chances of first team football once again diminished as he was once again forced to take a place on the bench.

Then in May 2010 a glorious chance for first team football came knocking for Foster. Birmingham City were in need of a replacement keeper following Joe Hart's return to home club Manchester City. City paid United a then bargain £4 million and Foster couldn't have been more happy. He is now playing in a regular role for the Midlands side and recently starred in a magnificent performance for Birmingham, making a string of superb saves when they miraculously managed to beat champions Chelsea 1-0.

"I get such a buzz from knowing I'm going to be playing every week. You see players who are playing one week but might be rested the next. I like to know what I'm doing, to feel I'm an important part of the team, that feeling that you're needed in the team, so you rise to that as well."

A Move To Eastlands On The Cards For Pepe

Real Madrid centre-back Pepe has become the latest big name to feature in City's transfer ruckus as they continue to dominate the market.

Reports first emerged around a month ago stating how Pepe was becoming unsettled at the Bernabeau. Pepe recently landed himself in hot water by demanding a tripled salary of his current £30,000 wage packet.

He has become the fourth big name to feature on City's ever growing list coming after David Luiz,  Hulk, Barcelona right-back Dani Alves and the much sought after Edin Dzeko.

Fergie Considers Options For Injury Plagued Owen

Sir Alex Ferguson is willing to listen to offers for injury prone star Michael Owen come the January transfer window about a move away from Manchester. Aston Villa have emerged as favourites and although Fergie has yet to concede that he holds no plans for Owen's future, it is publicly known that he will not get first team action next term at Old trafford.

Owen arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2009 and was a rather controversial signing as he was by far past his prime due to consistent injuries. Owen has scored 12 goals in 39 appearances for the Red Devils but has fallen down the pecking order due to the arrival of Mexican sensation Javier Hernandez, who has been magnificent, even when he doesn't start.

Mark Hughes Nearing The Boot


In a similar story to Avram Grant, it's been reported that under fire Fulham boss Mark Hughes has 3 games to save his job. It's a wake up call for Hughes who has failed to succeed Hodgson in a speculative manner.

Hughes was appointed in July following Roy Hodgson's departure for Liverpool. Mark Hughes saw his side slip into the bottom three on boxing day as they lost to fellow strugglers West Ham.  In Mark Hughes' fulham career, he's only managed a dire two wins out of twenty, 2 coming in the Premier League. The cottagers have drawn an astonishing 10 matches this season and had previously gone unbeaten up to October.

Edin Dzeko to England - It's back on!

taxi to Eastlands!


In a Daily Mail 'exclusive' they have reported that Edin Dzeko's agent has travelled to Eastlands regarding a posdible move come January.

Wolfsburg were initially reluctant to sell Dzeko, but with a reported fee of £30 million on the table from Manchester City, the German club have suddenly reappeared and are willing to do business.

Last week it was revealed that Dzeko had wrote to City in a plea to see him come to Eastlands. This story is rapidly emerging as the biggest of the rumors so far and hopefully by January things will become clearer and we will be able to shed some light on this particular transfer saga.

Watch this space.

Feedback is vastly appreciated.

United eye Diarra Swoop


Manchester United have reportedly shown interest in Real Madrid star Lassana Diarra. The former Portsmouth & Chelsea ace has barely participated in this years La Liga, following the signing of Sami Khedira from Stutgard over the summer, with only 2 full matches to his name.

He would compete for a place amongst the United veterans, battling it out with Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick & injury plagued Owen Hargreaves who's had his return date continually postponed following a hamstring injury five minutes into his return against Wolves.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chelsea Continue Their Dismal Form As Arsenal Prove Title Credentials

I always love when these games are upon us. Chelsea who went into this game on the back of 5 winless games, were looking to redeem themselves against an Arsenal side who have failed to beat Chelsea in their last 5 attempts. It had all the ingredients for an epic match and the result was unforeseen, to say the least.

Speaking midweek, Arsenal Wenger spoke of how the fear factor takes over when they play against top sides like Chelsea. It was what captain Fabregas had said and Wenger had repeated it to emphasise how important this match was for the gunners. A win would bolster Arsenal title credentials and would catapult them up to 2nd and leave them just 2 points behind bitter rivals Manchester United. A win for Chelsea would see their slump come to an end (it was inevitable anyway) and take them above the gunners, leaving them level on points with Manchester City.

The pressure was on both teams to perform as Manchester City & Manchester United set the pace yesterday with 3-1 and 2-0 wins respectively. The result was for once unpredictable, as an Arsenal team of youngsters finally looked like men and delivered a performance worthy of a mention from Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.

Match report:

Chelsea continued their dismal run of form with a resounding 3-1 defeat to London rivals Arsenal extending their winless run to a record 6 games and it is their worst run in form for over 10 years.

The Gunners had started the brighter of the two and almost took the lead if only Van Persie had connected with a diagonal ball. The Gunners nearly suffered from some slack defending courtesy of Laurent Koscielny who hasn't endured the best of times in London. Drogba was given the ball, dribbled past Koscielny and was 1-1 with Johan Djourou when he uncharacteristically dragged it wide. Chelsea looked virtually non existent as Arsenal started to take control and dominate. Chances were few ans far between at the Emirates with Arsenal by far the stronger of the two. Neither keepers were really tested early on but in the 20th minute Nasri warmed Cech's hands with a rasping drive from 20 yards. Fabregas & Nasri continued to control the match and Chelsea continued to defend superbly.

We had to wait until the 41st minute to see the next bit of notable action and Nasri was once again involved. Nasri received the ball somewhat 25 yards out and attempted a deft chip but Petr Cech was equal to his efforts.


The deadlock was broken on the stroke of half time as Arsenal took a vital lead. Wilshere passed into the box, in the midst of three Arsenal players, Cesc Fabregas was fouled, Mark Clattenburg played advantage and Alexander Song slotted home. It was a deserved lead for the gunners after their domination had finally paid off.

The second half was more or less the same as Chelsea decided to introduce Ramires to shake things up a bit.

Captain 'Fab'tastic
Chelsea's title aspirations were then dealt an ultimate blow after they conceded a second just 5 minutes into the 2nd half. Robin Van Persie was caught in possession and Essien's tackle fed the ball to Theo Walcott who then fed captain Cesc Fabregas. And it was 3-0 just 2 minutes later when Frenchman Florent Malouda was dispossessed and Fabregas fed Walcott for his 6th goal in 9 games this season.

Another goal came in the 57th minute but it favoured Chelsea this time round. A Drogba free kick was headed in by centre-back Branislav Ivanovic. Set pieces have always been Arsenal's Achilles heel and that's the reason why they've been linked to the likes of Shay Given & Mark Shwarzer.


Despite continuous pressure from the champions, Arsenal held out and broke their duck, finally winning against Chelsea which they had failed to do in their last 5. It was tough work for Arsene Wenger's team as they survived a late surge from Chelsea to win 3-1.

This leaves the future undecided for under fire Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti after a winless streak in the Premier League that dates back to Ray Wilkins' departure. Despite continuous assurement that Ancelotti's job is not under threat, it remains to be seen what the future holds for Chelsea football club.

Mancini Desires Andy Carroll Move

Manchester City have been forced to re evaluate their bid for Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko after he was given a £38 million price tag by the struggling German club. Just last week it was reported that Dzeko had written to Eastlands pleading a move to be made in January and now the proposed transfer has faded.


City are now turning their attentions to prolific Newcastle hit man Andy Carroll. Carroll has scored 11 league goals so far this season and has caught the eye of clubs worldwide with his goal scoring record. Last week he was linked with Real Madrid, this week it's Eastlands as Mancini is looking desperately for a suitable partner to accommodate captain Carlos Tevez.

United Eye Young As Next Target

It's been reported in various papers today that Manchester United are chasing Aston Villa ace Ashley Young. Young, who's featured heavily in the Villians disappointing so far, has 2 goals and 5 assists to his name and has become a well-known name amongst England in recent season.

Manchester United are in need of a new winger with Ryan Giggs soon to retire and Antonio Valencia being ruled out for more or less the entirety of this seasons campaign, suffering a - injury back in September against Valencia.

A rumored fee of £20 million is doing the rounds and it would be easy pickings for Fergie considering he's reportedly received £50 million to spend this coming January and has already targeted keepers David De Gea & Rene Adler.

Roque Santa Cruz Joins Lazio On Loan

Manchester City outcast Roque Santa Cruz has left England to join Lazio, in a bid to revive his career.

Santa Cruz was one of the first signings under Mark Hughes but ever since Mancini arrived he's been forced to settle on the bench. Santa Cruz has only featured in 3 matches this season often making cameo's as a substitute. Roque Santa Cruz has grown restless sitting on the bench at Eastlands and Lazio came knocking at just the right time.

It's a great career move for Cruz and there's no doubt he'll at least get some action in Italy and not blanked out, like Mancini.

United Make An Audacious Attempt For Pepe Reina

I can't believe this story. As I was reading up on the transfer news I stumbled across this and it immediately caught my eye.

 The Daily Mail have reported that Sir Alex has been given £50 million to spend in this upcoming January and he is targeting Liverpool number one Pepe Reina in an audacious attempt to lure him to Old Trafford and replace Van Der Sar when he decides to call it a day.

Although I can see the logic I cannot see Hodgson selling one of his most prized assets to a rival club, its nonsense. It's like saying Fernando Torres will move to Arsenal.

United have been busy tracking down keepers to replace the veteran Van Der Sar, and have already snapped up new up and coming Danish keeper Andres Lindergard. Quite drastically, he's already been predicted as the 'next Peter Schmichael'.

United are in search for a new first team keeper and have also been linked with Manchester City outcast Shay Given & Bayern Leverkusen keeper Rene Adler. Shay is an exceptional keeper when on his game and would be a great signing for Fergie & co. It would definitely revive his career and at only 34, he's coming to an end in his career.

Van Der Sar is set to retire come the end of this year and there are rumors that he might take up a coaching role at United, having been situated in the Premier League for over ten years, possessing vast amounts of experience.

'Big Sam' Allardyce To Coach Qatar come 2022 World Cup

According to CaughtOffside.com, Sam
Allardyce has emerged as Qatar's choice of manager come 2022 when they contest the World Cup.

Allardyce will succeed Bruno Metsu and will become one of the worlds top salary earners, with a hefty paycheck of £5 million a year.

Allardyce emerged as favourite following secret talks amongst the Qatari FA. He will be appointed to lead Qatar in the 2022 World Cup and will hopefully guide them far in the competition, proving they are not just a joke.

If you've been asleep this past month you would have noticed that Qatar were elected as hosts of the 2022 World Cup. A decision which shocked many, considering their prohibition of gay rights and exclusion consumption of alcohol.

Allardyce will be chosen to lead the pack of Qatari youngsters into the World Cup prepared for anything that may be thrown at them. A group stage tie with England would be relished but the chances are slim.

Qatar aren't exactly known amongst the footballing world and have competed for World Cups in recent years through a rather abysmal Asian world cup qualifying campaign, winning only 39 out of 84 matches.

The national team recently starred on youtube courtesy of a striker of theirs, Fahad Khalfan, missing an open goal. The video received over 2 million hits and gives the world an inkling of what they're like soccer wise.

Here's the video :

Freddie Ljungeberg Set To Join Celtic

Former Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg has been contacted by Celtic manager Neil Lennon in an attempt to revive the Swedes career with a move to Pride Park.

Ljungberg was hampered by injuries at West Ham and when he moved to America he regained  fitness, abstained from injury and played 27 games for Chicago Fire & the Seattle Sounders in the MLS last season.

Ljungberg was released by Chicago Fire in the summer, placing various clubs on high alert. Contact was made with Lennon about "3-4 weeks ago" and it was an exciting prospect for the former Celtic manager. Lennon had massive amounts of praise for the 34 year old and is convinced that Ljungberg can still produce the goods although he does lack the pace he used to posses.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Round Up Of The Festive Action

It was the return of the festive games and it did not disappoint. In the early match Fulham entertained West Ham in a crucial match for both sides. West Ham prevailed 3-1 with slack defending often on display from both sides. Carlton Cole proved prolific with two goals to his name, continuing his good record against Fulham. With that win the hammers climbed off the foot of the table. There was also a notable win for Wigan against relegation candidates Wolves with Tom Cleverly once again on the scresheet. Mick McCarthy could be taking the long road home if he doesn't turn these kind of matches into wins. Stoke beat Blackburn as Danny Wilson wrapped up the points late on to make it 2-0. Bolton also won as they climbed up to 5th place following their 2-0 win over West Brom.

But the main focus was on both teams of Manchester to perform and to set the pace and they did just that.

United took the lead as early as the 4th minute against a lifeless Sunderland side, who were only seven points off United. You wouldn't have been mistaken to think this was a training session for United as everything seemed so simple with Anderson & Giggs pulling the strings in midfield.

The second goal arrived mid way through the second half and it was always coming for United as they had completely dominated up to it. Berbatov received the ball and tried flicking it to the far corner with the outside of his boot but it took a cruel deflection off Anton Ferdinand, leaving Craig Gordon stranded.

We were off to St. James' park next as City had to keep the pace with their rivals, and did so in fine form beating weary Newcastle. City grabbed two early goals through Gareth Barry & Carlos Tevez and remained comfortable however Newcastle started to pick up the tempo and when Andy Carroll scored you wouldn't have bet against them for an equaliser. Neecastle went in search of that equaliser and committed numerous men forward and were dealt an ultimate blow when City made it 3 late on. Johnson crossed for Tevez who jigged and curled home ending all hope of a comeback for the magpies.

The pressure is now on Chelsea and Arsenal to gain maximum points in their clash tomorow. A win for Chelsea would see their recent slump diminish but a win for Arsenal would prove for once they could actually mix it with the big dogs.

Eden Hazard - The Potential Replacement For Ryan Giggs

The latest star linked to Manchester United is Lille star Eden Hazard. Today's newspapers suggested he's on his way for a reported £20 million. Hazard has been linked constantly to Old Trafford this year. He's been seen as Giggs' replacement once he decides to call it a day. Hazard is also a target for Arsenal but I myself would be confused, considering that Wenger mentioned he would not be signing Beckham who plays in a similar position to Hazard.

Hazard has attracted worldwide media attention following his performances for Ligue 1 side Lille. Its even been said that Real Madrid are keeping tabs on the Belgium wonder kid. Liverpool are also thought to be interested but I'd doubt Hazard would even consider them, with the Merseyside club fading fast and with the options he has I'm sure he'd choose a club competing for trophies on a regular basis.

So far this season for Lille, Hazard has scored twice and has assisted three times in 18 appearances. Not exactly 'Messi' form but it's been enough to make teams sit up and take notice. He put clubs on red alert earlier this year as he said he wanted to leave Lille at the end of this season and was quoted saying that he wanted to join Arsenal to compete amongst the youngsters.

All I will say is, watch this space! I've got a feeling something will definitely happen in the near future.


Feel free to leave a comment.

Too much, too young for Jack Wilshere

Thursday evening -

Arsene Wenger told us of how Jack Wilshere runs the risk of being burned out this season by playing 40+ games for club and country. Speaking on Thursday Wenger said how it is his (Wilshere's) first full season of football and it could be a case of too much too young for the widely regarded sensation.

Wenger has pleaded this message due to Wilshere being heavily involved in England's senior and under-21 teams. The premier league season ends on 7 May but Wilshere has England duties as he faces Switzerland with the senior team on June 4 before he travels and meets up with the u-21 stars on June 8 in Denmark, joining the likes of Adam Johnson, Nedum Onouha & Jordan Henderson.

Wilshere has forced his way into the Arsenal side this year and has relegated the likes of Theo Walcott & Van Persie to the bench. There is a slight worry of how he might over do it and it seems similar to a few years ago when Sir Alex issued a similar plea regarding a certain Mr Rooney. Wilshere has enjoyed a fine season to date at the Emirates and will be relishing his chance to take on Chelsea on Monday night, as he will be up against top right-back José Bosingwa.

A win for Arsenal on Monday evening could seriously bolster Arsenal's chances of winning the league and re establish their grip on a piece of silverware for the first time in six years. Mind you, the Gunners are also going smoothly for Carling Cup success, facing a semi-final bout with Roy Keane's Ipswich and then the possibility of meeting West Ham or Birmingham in the final.

In recent match-ups Arsenal have failed to muster a victory against current champions Chelsea or table toppers Manchester United, faltering in their last nine attempts. In 18 attempts, Arsenal have won only 3 times against these two, so there is a lot riding on the outcome of this match.


Feel free to leave any comments!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Most Improved Player of 2010

As we come to a close of the year 2010, I look back at the player who has come heaps and bounds since the start of this year. The player that most deserves this accolade is Tottenham starlet Gareth Bale.


Virtually an outcast upon his arrival Bale had to work hard for his place in the London side. He came as a left-back from Southampton and failed to make an impact in that position due to the consistency of Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Coach Harry Redknapp decided to try Bale in a slightly advanced position at left wing. Gareth Bale soon became a phenomenon and excelled at this position and several world class performances have had him compared to the likes of Lionel Messi. Bale became noticed in late 2010, during his sensational form in the Champions League against Inter Milan. In the first match at the San Siro and with Tottenham 4-0 down, the night was looking gloomy until Bale sprang to life and netted a second-half hat trick to restore some pride in the Londoner's side. What was noted from these goals was the severe pace he possessed as he raced down the wing virtually untouched and repeated the feat again in the 'rematch' at White Hart Lane, inspiring Spurs to a 3-1 win, setting up two goals.

Bale was signed on 7th of July 2007 from Southampton and was touted as the 'next big thing'. He held a good run in the Tottenham side until injury ruined it and forced him out for the entirety of the remaining season. He returned 26th September 2009 after a long lay-out and featured in 23 matches in the 2009/10 season. Regular left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto was on his way back from injury and so, Gareth Bale was tried on the left-wing, in the process turning him into one of the best players in the world, turning his opponents inside out as every defender feared him.

Last Chance Saloon For Roy Hodgson

Tomorrow is the return of the festive games and Blackpool entertain Liverpool at Bloomfield Road. The match is already in jeopardy due to no under soil heating at Blackpool. Its subject to a pitch review tomorrow three hours before kick-off.

However if the match is allowed to be played, all eyes will be on Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson after some dismal displays this season. Liverpool currently lie 9th, their worst start to a season for 57 years, and 12 points off leaders Manchester United. They've had a lacklustre season under the reign of Hodgson and good news has been hard to come by this season at Anfield.

 Roy has only managed to win 6 out of 17 matches this season in the Premier League and he has led Liverpool down a dark path ever since 'rotational' Rafa's dismissal. From Champions League triumph for Rafa, Hodgson was seen as a successful and appropriate choice, as he had led Fulham to the Europa Cup final. As soon as Roy was chosen there was debate over whether he could make the transformation from Europa League qualification to title contenders.

Over the course of the season so far Hodgson has yet to have his side impress and there has been small glimpses of the team that finished second in the 08/09 season. When the likes of players such as Xabi Alonso & Javier Mascherano departed, Liverpool looked desperately for suitable and ideal replacements. This past Summer Roy signed Raul Meireles & Christian Poulson but they have failed to make an impact and Liverpool's midfield has become far less superior than their counterparts.

Roy Hodgson's future hangs in the balance regardless of the result of this encounter. Its only a matter of time until his time is up at Anfield. He is odds on favourite to become the 4th Premier League managerial casualty this season.

Manchester City Move For David Luiz

It's yet another busy day at Eastlands as they are causing havoc, even on Christmas, around the transfer window. Benfica defender David Luiz is their latest target, who's also been linked to current champions Chelsea. Man City have picked up on the bargain £21million price, a price which is considerably low to any Manchester City fan.

Chelsea and Manchester City have been long admirers of David Luiz and rejecting a contract extension has fueled the rumours that he could be leaving Portugal next month. Mancini has been keen to add to his ranks and establish competition amongst his defenders. Currently City have 4 centre-backs and it is guessed Luiz will have to settle on the bench, much to his dismay. City have dominated the market so far and players have been linked with and away from the club with outcasts Emmanuel Adebayor & Roque Santa Cruz pleading for a move away.

 Luiz boasts 3 Brazil caps to his name and has been at Benfica for the last 3-4 years after joining from Vitoria. He has struggled so far this season, although recent seasons are what have seemed to catch the eye of the public. He is known well in Portugal and has netted 4 goals at Benfica since his arrival in 2007.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jonathan Woodgate Told To Go Out On Loan

Jonathan Woodgate has finally returned from injury at White Hart Lane but he's been told he needs to go out on loan to regain form and fitness by manager Harry Redknapp.

Woodgate has had to endure a long spell on the sidelines and has not featured for Spurs since November of 2009. Persistent groin problems have been the problem for Woodgate and a return to the Tottenham side would prove vital considering Harry Redknapp has a small range of defenders with only 3 fully established centre-backs fully fit with Gallas & Ledley King currently on the sidelines. Woodgate has been injury prone ever since his arrival from Real Madrid and his current contract expires at the end of this season. Coach Harry Redknapp might as well turn to Woodgate as Spurs have yet to keep a clean sheet since the opening day of the season and he has nothing to lose.

Woodgate initially missed out on the 25 man squad limit due to the groin injury he has suffered constantly since he limped off in the 9-1 drubbing of Wigan Athletic on the 22nd of November 2009.

Shay Given's New Year Wish


Manchester City no.2 Shay Given has started to express his desire to leave Manchester and possibly join Italian side Roma. Given has become increasingly frustrated at City & although he himself hasn't commented, there has been widespread circulation on a move abroad. Given has started only once this season (in the Europa League) and has lost his place to in-form English keeper Joe Hart, who returned from a stint from Birmingham having produced several world class performances. With the possibility of Given leaving - will be thrown into the no.2 spot and would increase his chances of first team football.

Manchester City are currently in a race against time regarding UEFA's new club wage restrictions and with several of City's key players earning £200,000+ they need to take drastic measures and players such as Roque Santa Cruz, Emmanuel Adebayor & now Shay Given have all been linked away from the club.

It's a mere one week away from the opening of the transfer window but Manchester City have already been keen to add to their ranks signing former Barca wonder kid Guy Assulin. They have been heavily linked with Wolfsburg misfit Edin Dzecko who has apparently wrote to Manchester City, pleading them to take him under their wing.