Sunday, May 30, 2010

World Cup - England - Part 2

John Terry and Rio Ferdinand have been partners in the England defense for a long time. Maybe too long. I think if you watched video of all the England defenders from this past season, and you couldn't see their faces nor did you know their reputation, you wouldn't even have Terry and Ferdinand in the squad.

Some may argue that their experience and guile makes them better choices than some of the younger central defenders who have had better seasons, but I think talent has to win out at the end of the day.

The same issue arises when one considers Jamie Carragher, whom Fabio Cappello has convinced to rejoin the England Squad. Carragher had a poor season. And he had a poor season in 2008-2009. When you are 32 years old and have had two consecutive bad seasons, you are not in a poor run of form, you are on the decline. There are ten English defenders better than Carragher, and most of them were nowhere near getting in this squad.

Gareth Barry is the holding midfielder, and he is a very good one. He shields the back four, is a great tackler, distributes the ball marvelously, which links the defense and attack, and he will also chip in with the odd goal. There is a problem though. He has a pretty serious ankle injury, that will keep him out of the opening match against the US, and possibly more matches after that.

Barry will be replaced in one of two ways. Michael Carrick could play the holding role. But he is not very good. Otherwise, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard could both play in the middle, with one of them dropping deep. As you can see, neither of these is an especially good option. This won't be enough of a hindrance to keep England from advancing to the knockout stages, but they will need a fit and on form Gareth Barry of they want to progress much farther than that.

That leaves the fullbacks. Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson will start and play 90 minutes every game, so depth is not an issue. Neither defends especially well, but they have such outstanding speed that they can usually cover up for their mistakes.

If England win Group C, and most of the other groups go as expected, their road to the semi-finals is free of traditional powers. This may be the best chance for Merry Old England to lift the World Cup trophy since 1970. Will they? I doubt it, I think the lack of pace in the center of defense will be their undoing, but the chance is there.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

World Cup - England - Part 1

Some would argue that in Fabio Cappello England have their best manager ever entering a major tournament. They may be right, but the country famously underestimates everybody, and if England don't win 4-0 every time out and look good doing it, the second guessing starts and the doubt creeps in.

But that is enough armchair psychology, let's look at the squad. I will start with the attack, then handle the defense in Part 2. In England's attack, one name stands far above all others, that of Wayne Rooney. If Rooney is fit and on form, England could go a long way in this tournament. The big question on the lips of the Limeys is, "Who, if anyone, should partner Rooney?" Peter Crouch? Emile Heskey? Jermain Defoe? Or should England play a 4-5-1, with Steven Gerrard and/or Frank Lampard pushing up behind Rooney?

My choice would be a 4-5-1 with Gerrard pushed up almost next to Rooney. Why? Steven Gerrard is a formation killer. He has no discipline, and cannot be counted on to fulfill any defensive responsibilities. He has to play, as does Lampard. Even Cappello would not drop one of them. But when Gerrard gets pushed out to the wing, left or right, he still wanders all over the field. This leaves one of England's attack-minded fullbacks (Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole) exposed, and neither of them has the defensive acumen to succeed in that position.

What will be interesting is finding out who plays on the wings for England. Joe Cole was a big part of the last World Cup on the left wing, but he is unlikely to make the squad this time around. Gerrard may be pushed out to the left, but as I stated earlier, that creates other problems. Aaron Lennon, Theo Wolcott, and James Milner are all right-footed, but capable of playing on the left.

The real wild card here is the left-footed youngster from Manchester City, Adam Johnson. He is quick, has very good technique, loves to cut inside and shoot when playing on the right, and is very aggressive when he is on the pitch. There is no guarantee he will even make the final twenty-three man squad, but if he does, he could have a big part to play in South Africa.

That leaves the right wing, wide open for the first time in 15 years after David Beckham suffered a long-term injury while playing for AC Milan. Beckham has always had his detractors, critics eager to show their daggers when given even the slightest chance. I don't belong to this group. I think Beckham has been an outstanding servant for club and country, and he will be sorely missed at this World Cup. But someone must fill his position. The early favorite seems to be Aaron Lennon. I will be honest, I don't rate him very highly. I think both Wolcott and Milner are better players. Out of all the candidates on the wing, Milner is the most versatile and has the most complete game. It will be surprising if he doesn't have a big role to play throughout the tournament.

World Cup - Algeria & Slovenia

I'll be honest, I know very little about these teams. They have both pulled off some big upsets in recent times. Algeria defeated Egypt to qualify for the tournament, and they knocked The Ivory Coast out of the last African Cup of Nations. Slovenia won the two-legged playoff against a very talented Russian team to qualify.

Both teams have a few players sprinkled around the bigger leagues in Europe, though none at big clubs within those leagues. And Algeria's best attacking player is out with injury.

It all comes down to this; The most important match for both these countries is their opener against each other. If one or the other manages to get 3 points from that match, that puts extra pressure on the US and England.

For example, let's say the US and England draw, then the US beat Slovenia and England draw against Algeria. Going into the final match, the US and Algeria would each have 4 points, England 2, and Slovenia none. Depending on goal difference, a US/Algeria draw might put both countries through. I am not saying this is likely to happen, in fact I am pretty much certain it won't, but my point is that if either of these "minnows" wins the opening match, one or both of the English speaking countries in the group could be in a difficult situation.

Friday, May 28, 2010

World Cup - The United States of America - Part 3

This is it for the US Preview, and here I will deal with the strikers. To be honest, it's the easiest part. Jozy Altidore is talented, and he has such an amazing physique that he is almost unplayable when on form. But he is not a big time goal scorer. And he is very young and inexperienced.

He will start for the US. I would start Clint Dempsey up top with him, but Bob Bradley may leave Altidore up there on his own.

And the rest of the strikers on the US squad; Not good enough. Nowhere near good enough.

The one who was good enough, and whose emergence during the USA's qualifying campaign was huge, is Charlie Davies. Unfortunately, his celebration of qualification involved a friend driving drunk. Davies was severely injured in the resulting car crash, missed the remainder of the season for his club, Sochaux in France, and still is nowhere near fit to play in a high level football match. The Yanks will really miss him.

Herculez Gomez led the Mexican league in scoring, but he is 28 years old, and this is the first real success he has had. If he can continue to show the ability to finish he might be a useful late game substitute. If he scores only 1 goal, and it is a late goal that secures a draw against England, or a win against Slovenia, his inclusion will be justified, but I think that is the absolute ceiling of what we can expect from him.

All told, the US goals will have to come largely from the midfield. If Altidore can effectively hold up play and get his midfielders the ball moving forward, the US should score enough goals to advance out of the group stage. Unfortunately, the second position in this group will probably play Germany in the round of sixteen. On the other hand, if the US were to get something against England and win the group, it looks like a much easier road to the semi-finals.

I am predicting a draw on June 12th, 1-1, but England will most likely still win the group. Getting into the knockout stages will be a solid performance from this team, especially after a disappointing 2006.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

World Cup - The United States of America - Part 2

The strength of the US lies in the midfield. There is a large group of experienced, skillful, and versatile European-based players. Landon Donavan leads the group, and he will probably play on the left wing throughout the tournament. Michael Bradley, although young, has loads of experience from his time in Holland and Germany, and he will anchor the central midfield. Clint Dempsey has really matured since his move to Fulham, and he will spend most of his time on the right side of midfield, although I would push him up front to play off Jozy Altidore.

These three players are guaranteed to start every match. There are several good candidates for the fourth (and possibly fifth) position(s) in the midfield. Bradley will sit deep in the central midfield, but he will spend a lot of time in attack, and he is not really a holding midfielder anyway. This makes it just about certain that defensive-minded manager Bob Bradley will deploy a traditional defensive midfielder alongside Michael Bradley.

There are two principal candidates for this position; Maurice Edu, who plays for Rangers, and Ricardo Clark, who plays (rarely) for Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany. I strongly favor Edu. He is more experienced, more composed on the ball, and far less likely to get sent off. Clark, in fact, is a red card waiting to happen. Those of you with long memories might recall him being sent off for his reckless (and recklessly stupid) challenge on Gennaro Gattuso against Italy in last summer's Confederation's Cup.

If Bob Bradley decides to play a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, there will be room for another attacking midfielder. This could be an opportunity for one of a few exciting youngsters.

A lot of people would like to see Benny Feilhaber start for the US if this position is available. I don't like him. Just like everyone else, I was excited about his talent when he burst onto the scene. But then he failed at Hamburg. Then he made a big move to Derby, and he failed at Derby. At the same time, he was dropped from the US team because his ego couldn't fit through the door to the changing room. Then he went to Denmark, and he has struggled to make an impression on a team that was relegated in the Danish league. Not a player I want on my team.

I saw Jose Torres play an excellent forty-five minutes against the Czech Republic Tuesday night. He is very composed on the ball, even when under pressure, he is a good passer, and he chips in with the occasional goal. I like him, but there is a problem. He is tiny. 5'5", 135 pounds tiny. He just won't be able to cope with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the middle of the park. As a change of pace for the final 20 minutes, I think he will be outstanding, but I just can't see him playing ninety minutes against a physically imposing team like England.

The third promising youngster, and the player whom I think is really going to break out at the World Cup, is Stuart Holden. Now, you may think I am biased because he is a Bolton player, but I had little hope and no expectations that he would be anything more than a reserve team player when Owen Coyle signed him in January. And it looked like I was right when he didn't even make the bench his first month at the club.

But then he got fit, made two game-changing substitute appearances, and was dominant in his first start for the Wanderers. He started against Holland for the US in a friendly and for the first twenty-five minutes he was the most dangerous looking player on the pitch. Then Nigel de Jong broke his leg. But now he is back.

He played 90 minutes against the Czech Republic, half on the wing, half in central midfield, and he was, again, the best player on the pitch. I predict that Holden will be a star. He might not start the first match for the US, but by the final match of the group stage, he will be in the starting XI, no doubt about it.

There is one more wild card in the US midfield; DeMarcus Beasley. He has had an up and down career, and will likely never live up to his potential because of his inconsistency, but he may be crucial to the USA's chances in this World Cup. His experience, his ability to play several positions, his pace, and his knack for scoring (and creating) important goals will be huge coming off the bench.

World Cup - The United States of America - Part 1

I watched a match last night in sunny East Hartford, Connecticut, but there were few bright spots on the pitch. The US is going to the World Cup while the Czech Repiblic is not, but you couldn't have known that based on the performance. The American crowd of over 36,000 was fired up, but they went home disappointed.

Neither team was at full strength, and it is no surprise that the European side has more depth than the Americans, but well-known weaknesses became even more glaring in a poor second half for the Yanks.

Left back is looking like a serious problem. Heath Pearce and Jonathan Bornstein are both terrible, and neither should be anywhere near the continent of Africa in June. That leaves Carlos Bocanegra and Jonathan Spector. Bocanegra is the team captain, and plays left back for Rennes in France, so he would seem the obvious choice. But he may have to slide into the middle because of health issues with Oguchi Onyewu and Jay Demerit. If that happens, Spector will probably start at LB. He is adequate, but it is not his natural position, and he doesn't give much going forward. If everybody is fit and in form, the back line of Bocanegra (LB), Onyewu (CB), Demerit (CB), and either Spector or Steve Cherundolo on the right, should be solid enough to get the US through group C.

Defense is going to be an issue though, and that puts a huge amount of pressure on goalkeeper Tim Howard. A friend recently told me he considers Howard to be 1 of the top 5 goalkeepers in the world. I am not prepared to go that far, but he is probably in the top 10. That is important. Those of you who remember the US's improbably run to the quarterfinals in 2002 will know that Brad Friedel was unbelievable in that tournament, and a big part of the success the Yanks enjoyed in South Korea and Japan. Tim Howard is certainly capable of a similar performance.

Monday, May 24, 2010

World Cup - South Korea

Of all the teams from outside the Europe-South America axis, South Korea may be the one with the best chance to advance deep into the tournament.

First of all, they have done it before, reaching the semi-finals as hosts in 2002.

Second, they have a relatively easy road through the first couple rounds. Argentina should walk this group, but neither Greece nor Nigeria are particularly scary opponents. If they do qualify in the second position, they will face the winner of Group A, which will probably be Mexico or France. As I mentioned in earlier posts, both of those squads are talented, yet vulnerable. Beyond that, The Three Lions of England, who tend to become lambs somewhere around the third week of major tournaments.

Third, South Korea has some talent. Everyone knows about Park Ji-sung, but they have several other players who have been successful in Europe. Lee Young-pyo, Cha Du-ri, Ki Sung-yong, Kim Nam-il, and Park Chu-young have all played in European leagues. But the best of the bunch is Lee Chung-yong, the young winger who just completed his first season with Bolton Wanderers.

Lee is still only 21, and it was expected that he would need at least a season to acclimatize to life in England. This seemed to be confirmed during his first appearance on the subs bench, when jet lag caught up with him and he fell asleep. But he scored a game winner early in the season against Birmingham City, and looked really impressive in his first significant playing time. By October he was starting every match, and by January he was Bolton's best player.
He is comfortable on either wing, has pace as well as technical ability on the ball, and can cross the ball from the touchline or cut inside and shoot. At times he even played through the middle of the park, and was a threat to run behind the defense with his pace. There are already rumors that big clubs such as Liverpool are interested in buying Lee, and if he has a good tournament, that list could grow much longer.

Given his experience and ability, Park Ji-sung is still South Korea's bets player, but Lee Chung-yong is not far behind. If both perform well, the Red Devils just might surprise some people.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

World Cup - Argentina

Anyone watch the Champions League Final? There was this midfield pairing for the winners, Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiosso, that was really impressive, and they represent the same country internationally, so they should be really fun to watch at the World Cup, oh, wait...

Diego Maradona is a legend, he may the greatest player in the history of the beautiful game. The English will call him a cheat, but they are forgetting his second goal against them. That is irrelevant to his coaching ability though. And he may be the worst manager in the entire World Cup. Most of the others have some identifiable strength, or history of achievement, that allows at least some justification to their presence at the largest sporting event in the world. But not Maradona. He has precious little management experience, and most of his results have been disastrous.

The rumor mill is overstocked with reasons why Zanetti was not included in the squad. The most convincing is that during Argentina's crucial final qualifier, he told the squad to forget Maradona's asinine tactics and just play how he told them to. They won the match and managed to qualify, but reports are that Maradona has not forgiven Zanetti for undermining him and actually wanting to win the match. Cutting off your nose to spite your face not being an endearing quality among managers, one has to assume this decision will come back to haunt Argentina.

Off the field drama aside, this is still an incredibly talented squad of players. Just on the front line you have Diego Milito, who was second in Serie A with 22 goals, and had 32 in all competitions, and Carlos Tevez, who was fourth in the Premier League with 23 goals, 29 in all competitions. Also Gonzalo Higuain (27 goals in La Liga) and Sergio Aguero (12 goals in only 24 matches), not too mention the young man whom many consider the best player in the world, Lionel Messi. He scored 34 goals in La Liga, 45 in all competitions.

The defense is solid and experienced, with Javier Mascherano in a holding midfield role, right in front of Nicolas Burdisso, Walter Samuel, and Martin Dimechellis along the back line.

Argentina's first match will be against a Nigerian side that is not as strong as it once was. They will meet South Korea second, and Greece in their final match. I think this will be a hard fought group as far as second place is concerned, but Argentina, even with Maradona calling the shots, should easily walk away with first position.

World Cup - Mexico

Mexico seems to be one of the constants of the World Cup. They are always qualified, they are never a joy to watch, and they are always eliminated in the first knockout stage. There is little reason to believe this year will be any different.

They struggled more than ever before in qualifying, but eventually starting releasing swine flu bacteria into their opponents dressing rooms and, lo and behold, their home form led to qualification.

They keep the ball well and have some talented attacking players in Carlos Vela (Arsenal), Giovanni Dos Santos (Tottenham), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United), and Alberto Medina (Chivas de Guadalajara), but they will still play a grind it out style and hope to get through by the odd goal.

They are in a group with the hosts, France, and Uruguay. The most important match for Mexico may be their opener, which is also the tournament opener, against South Africa. The stadium will be an explosion of Bafana Bafana pandemonium, a true twelfth man advantage. There are also those that claim FIFA makes sure the referees in the opening match favor the host country, but this is hard to prove, as the host country is usually better than the team they open with. That is not the case here, so a conspiracy theory will be tested.

Mexcio's defense is tough to break down though. Both El Tri and South Africa struggle to score goals, and it is possible that this brilliant spectacle will open with a dour 0-0 draw. Mexico will hope for this. If the Bafana Bafana manage to win, and either France or Uruguay get 3 points from their match, Mexico could be in trouble.

My final verdict, I think they will advance. They will have to get 4 points from their first 2 matches though, because South Africa play France on the final match-day, and if a draw gets both those countries through, the gentleman's agreement will be in place, and El Tri will be left complaining to FIFA.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

France Update

Lassana Diara is out of the World Cup for France. He is a good player, but, as I outlined earlier, France has so much depth in midfield it really won't hurt them too much. Abou Diaby will probably step in to play a central defensive role, and I think he will be just fine.

Monday, May 17, 2010

World Cup - South Africa

A host country has never failed to advance out of the group stage in the World Cup. The home crowds are going to be absolutely insane for this tournament.

The defense for this team is a bit unpredictable, but if Aaron Mokoena comes up big he can really marshall the defense and at least keep them from losing control of matches. They are lucky in that the other countries in this group struggle to score goals.

The Bafana Bafana have enough attacking talent in Benni McCarthy and Steven Peinaar that they will create some chances. If McCarthy finds some scoring form they could make a run similar to South Korea in 2002, when a combination of luck and being lifted by the crowd carried them all the way to the semi-final.

I don't think South Africa will do as well as the last few hosts results-wise, because if they get out of the group in the second position and into the knockout stage, they will probably be facing a powerhouse in Argentina. But, if South Africa manage to win what could be a very open group, they will face an extremely winnable match against South Korea, Nigeria, or Greece.

Even if they get knocked out early, the Bafana Bafana matches will be must see events, and I am looking forward to the joyous revelry of their supporters as much, if not more, than the actual football.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

World Cup - France - Part 2

Defense: It is still unclear whether William Gallas will be fit for the tournament or not. The French are weak in central defense. I am not even sure who will partner Gallas if he is healthy. The fullbacks are outstanding though. Patrice Evra, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Anthony Reveillere, and Eric Adidal would all start for almost every country in the World Cup.

Defensive Midfield: I suspect the formation of choice for a lot of team sat the World Cup will be a 4-2-3-1. France will probably put Jeremy Toulalan and one of the Diarra's in the holding positions. All three players are adequate, but it is unlikely the entire trio can get through the group stage without a red card. They can all be reckless tacklers.

Attacking Midfield: Florent Malouda and Franck Ribery will be the wingers, and Yoann Gourcuff will attack through the middle. That is an outstanding group. Pace, power, trickery, technique, and the ability to score goals from all three players. Sydney Govou and Abou Diaby are also good options coming off the subs bench.

Striker: It is hard to see anyone but Thierry Henry starting any matches up front for France, even though both Djibril Cisse and Nicolas Anelka have had better season and are currently in better form.

This is a talented collection of players, and you would think a place in the knockout stages would be a foregone conclusion, considering they are in a group with Mexico, South Africa, and Uruguay. But problems are lurking just below the surface.

As I stated yesterday, Raymond Domenech is a terrible manager, he may be the worst coach at the World Cup. This is a problem because Uruguay and Mexico are both physically imposing teams, and a lot of these players don't fancy a fight. And South Africa will no doubt be lifted by raucous home crowds.

This tournament represents a final break from the great teams that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Cup. Thierry Henry is the only player remaining from those squads. If this group had any other manager, I would predict a run to at least the Quarterfinals, and give them an outside shot of winning the whole thing. But with Raymond Domenech in charge, they will be lucky, very lucky in fact, to get out of the group stages.

Friday, May 14, 2010

World Cup - France - Part 1

Today will begin my series of posts focusing on countries who will be playing in this summer's tournament. Preliminary 30 man squads have been posted, and we have a pretty good idea for most teams who their most important players will be.

Let's start with France, specifically the incompetent manager of the French team, Raymond Domenech. Domenech has been known to select his starters based on astrology, propose to his girlfriend in post-match press conferences, and rely on aging players well past their prime.

The headlines about the French squad have focused on who was left off the list. Karim Benzema, whom Real Madrid paid over £35 million for last summer, will not be going to South Africa. He is only 22, and is a big part of France's future, but he has not had a good season. He started 20 games for Madrid in all competitions, and made 17 substitute appearances, scoring 12 goals.

Normally, I would agree with this decision. A young player, in poor form, not playing regularly for his club, does not deserve to get into a deep squad such as France. Here is the problem; An OLD player, in poor form, not playing regularly, also does not deserve to get into a deep squad such as France. 19 starts, 8 substitute appearances, and 4 goals is a far worse season than what Benzema had, yet it was enough to get Thierry Henry into the squad. Now maybe Henry has earned the benefit of the doubt based on his past performances, but for me he has not been an effective player in almost 2 seasons.

The second headline is about Patrick Vieira. The veteran holding midfielder, despite working his way into the Manchester City first team late in the season, was unable to secure a seat on the plane next month. I also agree with this decision. Vieira was poor his last season at Arsenal, and has never regained his form. He should announce his retirement from international football, as he deserves to go out gracefully.

The third headline is the one I really have a problem with. Samir Nasri, who has had a glorious season for Arsenal, and is a player I would probably rank as one of the ten best attacking midfielders in the world, will not be going to the World Cup. He is a joy to watch, as evidenced by his goal in the Champions League against Porto that sent the bar I was watching at into an uncontrollable frenzy. Now Nasri probably wouldn't have started for France, but he would have been a hell of an option off the bench, and a nice insurance policy given the unpredictability of Franck Ribery.

So, that covers the omissions from France's World Cup Squad. Tune in again tomorrow for a review of the players that will be representing Les Bleus this summer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ricardo Vaz Te

This Portugese youngster (still only 23) was released by Bolton this week after 7 injury-filled seasons at the club. He showed flashes of brilliance early on, most notably when scoring a late equalizer against Guimares of Portugal in the UEFA Cup.

Ricardo really missed his chance to blossom going into the 2006-2007 season. He started the final 5 matches of 2005-2006, scoring 4 goals in that stretch and always looking dangerous. He scored several goals in preseason and looked ready to really establish himself alongside Kevin Davies and El-Hadj Diouf in a very strong attacking front line. But then Bolton bought Nicolas Anelka. And that was it. Vaz Te also had two major knee injuries, which robbed him of some of his pace.

I really believe he could have been a special player, if only he had been given the opportunities on the pitch. I wish him only the best of luck. He will probably go back to Portugal, and who knows, maybe he can find some success there.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gary Cahill

Will he play for England this summer? I don't know. A more important question for me is will he play for Bolton in September.

Owen Coyle has come out and stated that he does not need to sell players in order to buy. So Cahill could return next season. But if Arsenal offer £15 million AND another year of Jack Wilshere on loan, I don't see how Bolton can say no. Don't get me wrong, I think Cahill forms a very good partnership with Zat Knight, and they have a chance to be even better next season, but sometimes you have to sell 1 player when it means you can buy 2 or 3.

Here is the caveat; Owen Coyle must have those 2 or 3 players already lined up and confirmed before selling Gary Cahill. When Bolton sold Nicolas Anelka, we were left in a position where we had £15 million to spend and nothing to spend it on. So we ended up overpaying for Johann Elmander.

Now if Coyle has already secured the striker from Portsmouth for £3 million, a good left-back for £5 million, and a very good central defender for £7 million, plus Wilshere on a 12-month loan, then by all means snap Arsene Wenger's hand off.

It should be an interesting summer.

ITV Granada

Hello everybody. Through this blog, I have been contacted by Chris Hall who is a reporter from ITV Granada. He is going to be in New York next week prior to the Amir Khan fight and is looking for some Bolton lads (or lasses) to interview.

SO if anyone is in NYC and interested in being on TV, send me an e-mail through the blog or just respond to this post

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jlloyd Samuel

I actually like this player, think he did a solid job at left back last season, and I have no idea why he fell out of favor. I have always thought he was better than Paul Robinson. But given how little Jlloyd has played this season, as well as Bolton being linked with a move for Paul Konchesky, it looks as though the writing is on the wall for Mr. Samuel.

He is still under contract, but his lack of playing time this season will probably drive his price down. He was signed on a free transfer in 2007 and has one season left on his contract, so there wasn't going to be a large fee either way. I could see a promoted paying a million pounds for him, but that is the best case scenario.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Old, Slow, White guys with no skill

Good riddance Gavin McCann. Good riddance Andy O'Brien. Just try to reach the exit by August.

I would like to add Paul Robinson to this list, but it seems very unlikely that he will leave.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ivan Klasnic

This Croatian hit-man is in some ways a poor man's Dimitar Berbatov. I think he runs and presses a bit more than the Bulgarian, but no one is going to mistake him for Carlos Tevez. But he scores goals. He is a finisher. And the Bolton Wanderers have nine other players on the field to run around a lot. Just a few more goals from Klasnic in those games where Kevin Davies and Johann Elmander missed absolute sitters from 3 yards out and Bolton would be tenth instead of fifteenth in the table right now.

What I am trying to say is, "Sign him!" Klasnic is on loan for the season from Nantes in France's 2nd division, and Bolton has the first option to buy him this summer for £1.4 million. Owen Coyle needs to complete this deal. Unless he has £25 million to spend and can afford to buy a more complete striker, Klasnic is needed at the Reebok. He has scored 7 goals in 11 Premier League starts. Kevin Davies has started 36 league matches and scored 6 goals. Elmander has started 15 league games and scored 3 goals.

Some may want to sign a bigger name striker, but who? Who will sign with Bolton that we can afford? Dave Kitson? David Nugent? Steven Fletcher?

I haven't heard many other names, and none of the names I have heard excite me. It has to be Klasnic. Sign him up Owen!