O'Neills Corner
Tevez Troubled At Eastlands

Late last Saturday night the news broke that Manchester City captain Carlos Tevez had handed in a written transfer request. He is reported to be unsettled with life at Eastlands, having only been present for just over two years. In a statement his representatives issued, he said that ‘communications had broken down with certain executives’ aiming it at Gary Cook, as he blocked Tevez from moving last summer. Another reason Tevez is unsettled is due to homesickness. He was granted leave by the club to return to Buenos Aries to see his family, his partner and his two children. He obviously misses them very dearly and Carlos had always said he wanted to finish his career at Boca Juniors however; this would be too sudden and too early in a career as exciting as Tevez’s. There’s also a third reason doing the rounds that Tevez wants to follow in Rooney’s footsteps by holding out for a bigger wage packet.  Currently Tevez is being paid £286,000 tax-free and he wants it beefed up to £300,000.

There is talk of him making a move to Spain during this upcoming transfer window with a possible move to Real Madrid on the cards but with the return of Gonzalo Higauin sooner rather than later, Tevez would be forced to settle on the bench and become even more agitated than he is at present. There is also a possibility he might make a move to London to join Chelsea but it’s highly unlikely considering the above.

Manchester City issued a statement regarding Tevez’s transfer request and they said, “It is with disappointment that we confirm to our supporters that Carlos Tevez has submitted a written transfer request. The Club can also confirm that the request has been rejected”. There is however a way Tevez could escape and he could be able to leave City in the summer, even a court battle is possible, similar to Gabriel Heinze’s a few years back regarding his proposed move to rivals Liverpool. He eventually left to join Real Madrid but had an unsuccessful stint and was transferred to Marseille.

My first reaction to this news was shock. I had heard reports of Tevez being unsettled during last summer but he decided to on, which proved to tip him over the edge. When I heard that he wanted his wage packet increased I was infuriated. He’s currently one of the world’s top paid football stars and he actually has the cheek to bleed Sheik  Mansourdry. I think it would be better if City ejected him but I can’t see any teams willing to pay that kind of wage package, even the likes of Barcelona & Real Madrid.

A PLAYER PROFILE #5 - GUI ASSULIN

 

 

Gui Assulin was born in Nahariya on the 9th of April 1991. He is one of Israel’s exceptional young talents that exist among football today. Assulin started his career at the footballing school of Hapoel Haifa. When he was just seven years old, Assulin moved to the Bietar Tubruk youth ranks. He was rapidly evolving as a fine individual talent and at the age of 12, his team coach, Shlomo Scharf proposed to Assulin’s parents to consider taking their son to try out for the FC Barcelona youth team. They accepted the proposal and were delighted to find out that Gai was chosen for the youth squad.

 

The hard work finally paid off for Gai Assulin as he graduated to the FC Barcelona ‘B’ team at the start of August 2007, and was offered a new contract, senior contract and his buy-out clause was beefed up to €20 million. Gai Assulin was living the dream and got his first taste of first team football in September of that year, when he made an appearance in the 46th minute against Girona FC in the semi-final of the Copa Catalunya.

 

Unfortunately just as he was beginning to prove himself he struggled with injuries during the 2008/09 season. He worked hard over that year regaining form & fitness, which saw him receive an invitation from first team coach Pep Guardiola to participate in pre-season matches with Barcelona. He featured in 3 of Barcelona’s six pre-season friendlies playing against Tottenham Hotspur, Al-Alhy & Manchester City. He continued to impress and made his debut start for Guardiola’s side, competing against Cultural Leonesa in late 2009. Because of the lengthy 2009/10 season Pep Guardiola rested several key players and introduced four Barca ‘B’ players which included Assulin.

 

Unfortunately for Gai, Barca had no reason to extend his contract and it was announced by mutual consent on 1st of July 2010 that Assulin would be leaving the club. Gai was often linked to premier league clubs with Arsenal, Blackburn & Tottenham interested in his services. On October 8th 2010 it was reported that Assulin had joined big spenders Manchester City but the contract was a trial for the time being. He was in and out of Eastlands until finally he was signed early this week on a two and a half year deal.

 Assulin was delighted and he said, “I had heard a lot about City, and as soon as I saw the club I wanted to stay. I’m at a great club and I hope to be here a long time. I have to take my opportunity and learn every day in training.”

 

Assulin also became noticed on an international scale for the Israel national side, becoming their youngest ever player, capped two weeks before his 17th birthday, when he trotted out against Chile in 2008. To this day, that has been his only national cap.

 

PLAYER PROFILE #4

THE AWE AND WONDER OF MESUT OZIL

Mesut Ozil was born 15th October 1988 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. He quickly established himself as a key player to Gelsenkirchen team and he continued to play for an array of teams until Shalke 04 came knocking. He grasped the opportunity with both hands and joined them in 2005 when he was only 17. He originally came in as a replacement for the suspended Lincoln and excelled against Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. His talent was extraordinary and he was immediately asserted into the first team. Unfortunately he fell out with the club staff at Shalke and in January 2008 he moved to Werder Bremen for a reported fee of €4.3 million signing a 3 year contract. He was the ideal replacement for Brazilian Diego who had departed Bremen to join Serie A big guns Juventus. He didn’t get much playing time in that first season due to arriving in the January transfer window but in his second season he impressed, helping Werder to the last ever UEFA Cup as they eventually lost out to Shaktar Donetsk. He continued to impress and by the end of his second season he had grabbed an impressive 3 goals and 15 assists as he was proving to be a real hit with the fans. His third and final season at Werder Bremen was what got him noticed on the international scene as he sensationally scored 9 goals and provided 21 assists in 31 appearances.

 

He was chosen for the German national side to contest at the U-21 European Championships and he was key to their success leading them to victory at the final over England 4-0. He was rapidly evolving as an outstanding individual player and within 2 years he was contesting for places for national side. The German U-21 coach Horst Hrubesch paid tribute to Ozil and he was famously quoted to have said, “We in Germany are prone to rave about foreign players. We praise Wayne Rooney to the heavens, likewise (Cristiano) Ronaldo or Messi. But we have our own Messi. Our Messi is Ozil”

 

It was at the World Cup 2010 at which he marked his territory and became a household name. He continually performed miraculously as he helped Germany in finishing third. He featured in all of Germany’s group games and even scored a fantastic volley to secure a 1-0 win over Ghana. He was again instrumental in the Germans demolition of struggling England as he provided the cross of Thomas Muller to round of an inspirational 4-1 over the English. He received endless praise for his World Cup displays and he was shortlisted for the ‘Golden Ball’ award at the World Cup and he was also shortlisted as a nominee for the Ballon D’or.

 

After the World Cup he attracted global media attention as people were debating where he would go next. He decided to move to Real Madrid ignoring the pleas from Manchester United & Chelsea. In 15 appearances so far for the Galactico’s Ozil has 5 goals and 9 assists to his name.

A PLAYER PROFILE #3

THIERRY HENRY – ARSENALS FINEST EVER STRIKER


 

Thierry Henry took up football from a very early age and had played for a range of different teams by the age of 10. One day Arnold Catalano, an AS Monaco scout was sent to watch Thierry. He came on the right day as Henry scored all of his teams goals in a 6-0 win over the opposition. Thierry Henry was asked to join Monaco instantly and although he was performing poor in school and initially was disallowed, he joined AS Monaco as a youth player. As luck would have it the manager of Monaco at that time was Arséne Wenger. Henry broke into the Monaco first team in 1994 and Wenger placed him on the left wing believing that his pace and ball skills would cause all defenders a serious problems. Thierry continued to struggle in the position he was set, failing to impress. However he soon received his first international call up and in his third full season he was instrumental in guiding Monaco to the UEFA Champions League semi-final setting a French record of scoring 7 seven goals in one Champions League season.

 

In January 1999 he swapped Ligue 1 for Serie A as Juventus came a calling. An unsuccessful spell at Juvé saw him reunite with former manager Arséne Wenger as he was then shipped off to Arsenal for a fee of £10.5 million pounds sterling.

 

The move to Arsenal was pivotal for his career as that was where he made his name internationally. Wenger continued to search for the perfect position for Thierry and he decided on placing him up front partnering Denis Bergkamp. Henry failed to shine as a new signing initially but still finished the season with a decent tally of 26 goals. Thierry was a dominant figure in Arsenal’s 2001/02 Premier League campaign as Arsenal retained the Premier League for the third time in four seasons.

 

What was to come next for Henry & co. was quite spectacular. It was that fateful 2003/04 season that Arsenal earned the title the ‘invincibles’ after going the whole Premier league season unbeaten. Henry, Pires, Ljungberg & Bergkamp were all finally rewarded in true style with such a fantastic feat. It was only the second time a team had gone unbeaten the whole season in the history of English football matching Preston North End’s record from the first ever season of football in 1888. Mind you, Preston only played 18 games Arsenal played 20 more.

 

Thierry Henry became the captain of Arsenal after Patrick Vieira left the club in the summer of 2005 to join Juventus. He inspired the team to the Champions league final in May 2006 only to succumb to the hands of Barcelona. It remains that since Vieira left the club Arsenal have yet to win a trophy.

 

Henry controversially left Arsenal after the 2006/07 league campaign to join coincidentally, Barcelona. He scored his first goal for Barca in a 3-0 Champions League win over Lyon and went on to record his first hat trick for the Catalans in a league match against La Liga minnows Levante. There was definitely no love lost between Henry & Wenger as Henry was having a successful stint at Barca until he was relegated to the bench due to the imminent arrival of Pedro Rodriguez who had been put through the ranks of the Barcelona youth system.

 

Thierry Henry became distressed warming the bench and so in July 2010 he stunned the foot-balling world with a shock move to America’s New York Red Bulls joining former Aston Villa front man Juan Pablo Angel.

 

Henry also made an impact with the French national team, passing Michael Platini’s goal scoring record of 41 with relative ease. He was at the centre of a media frenzy when he “single-handedly” ruined Irelands chances of World Cup qualification. It was one of the defining moments of his career as he handled the ball inside the Irish penalty box and crossed for William Gallas to head in the goal that sent France to the World Cup Finals in South Africa 2010. It was a key factor in why he decided to retire from international football after the French’s disastrous World Cup.

PLAYER PROFILE #2

THE ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER OF MICHAEL OWEN

 

As a teenager Michael Owen was regarded as a teenage prodigy. When he was just 13 he became eligible to sign a schoolboy contract with a club. He was approached by big clubs throughout England such as Manchester United, Arsenal & Liverpool before deciding Liverpool was the club for him. He rapidly rose to fame as he featured heavily in the 1996 FA Youth Cup win as he scored against a West ham side which featured the likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand & Joe Cole.  Miraculously, during all the on-going drama, he managed to achieve ten GCSE’s. He continued to impress and was signed by Liverpool in 1996 when he was 16 and during 1997-2004 he was Liverpool’s top scorer despite recurring hamstring injuries. He was significant in Liverpool’s 2001 FA cup final win vs. Arsenal, scoring 2 goals in the final 10 minutes as Liverpool recorded their first ever club treble. Michael Owen scored 118 goals in 226 apps for Liverpool and was granted the clubs hero status forever consolidating a place amongst the Liverpool fans’ hearts. Michael Owen won the prestigious Ballon D’or in 2001.

After the 2004/05 premier league season Real Madrid signed Owen for a fee in the region of £12m. Owen had an unsuccessful spell at the bernabeau only scoring 13 goals and returned to England the following season, joining Newcastle United for a fee in the region of £16m. His wear and tear was starting to show and his injuries unfortunately got the better of him as he missed a large portion of the 2006/07 season due to an injury that occurred at the World Cup against Sweden, which ended in Newcastle getting compensated £10m. One notable performance saw Owen net a hat trick as Newcastle saw off fellow strugglers West Brom 4-1.

He continued to suffer the same recurring hamstring injuries dampening his overall performance and by 2009 Newcastle saw no reason to extend his contract so he left on a free transfer to join Manchester United on a one-year contract. Vs Wolfsburg in the Champions League, Sir Alex fielded a weak team due to Utd already qualifying and that night it was all about Michael Owen as he netted his 14th career hat trick delightfully chipping the keeper to round off a nostalgic performance.

His career for England was quite magnificent as he quickly became England’s greatest ever striker netting 40 goals in 89 appearances with 28 competitive goals. His most notable goal for England was against Argentina at the ‘98 world cup when he picked up the ball on the centre circle, floated past 4/5 players and scored what was voted one of the best world cup goals of all time. He was influential in that campaign as well as the 2004 European championships.

 

He is currently fourth choice striker behind Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov & new summer arrival Javier Hernandez.


THE RISE AND FALL OF JOE COLE: A PLAYER PROFILE

Joe Cole

Joe Cole is currently playing for Liverpool and the England national team.

 

As a youngster Joe Cole was widely regarded as the hottest prospect in English football and was compared to the likes of Paul Gascoine. He famously scored seven goals in an 8-0 win over the Spanish under-18 national side. He established himself as a West Ham regular at the tender age of 17 and by the age of 21 he was captaining the Hammers. In 2003, and over 100 appearances later, the hammers were fighting desperately for Premier League survival. Joe unfortunately couldn’t keep his beloved Hammers up and he was approached toward the end of 2003 by  Chelsea at the start of the Roman Abramovich era.

 

He signed for Chelsea in the summer of 2003 for a fee of 6.6 million pounds sterling. As soon as he arrived his place was under threat from the likes of Damien Duff & Arjen Robben. He fell out of favour with Claudio Ranieri and was forced to settle on the bench for the 2003/04 season. When Ranieri left he was replaced by ‘the special one’ Jose Mourinho who opened the door for Cole. Mind you, there was also the factor that Damien Duff & Robben were injured for large chunks of the season. When given the chance Joe Cole showed glimpses of the form that made him ‘Hammer of the year 2003’. Joe scored a goal in the 3-0 rout over Manchester United at the end of the 2004/05 season. He continued to impress and was influential in Chelsea’s 2005/06 season, as the Blues retained the title. He was proving himself as a massive threat throughout the premiership but once again dipped in form and was left to warm the bench for the 2008/09 & 2009/10 season.

 

Chelsea refused to offer Joe Cole a contract extension and so he left them in July 2010 to join rivals Liverpool on a free transfer. His first match was against Rabonstki as a qualifier for the europa league and he showed he still had it displaying a man of the match performance setting up David Ngog as Liverpool romped to a 2-0 win.

 

His Premier League debut with Liverpool was far from impressive as he was sent off for a two footed lunge on Lorient Koscielny on the stroke of half time. When he returned, he failed to rediscover that form that he displayed at Rabotnicki as he was once again relegated to the bench as Maxi Rodriguez took his place.

 

Over the past couple of years Joe Cole has disintegrated into nothing with his overall play disappointing as he lacks that killer instinct he once had. What was once promised to be one of the best English players to come had evaporated come his middle twenties. He is still only 29 and maybe there is more to come but he is most definitely past his prime. He lacks the pace that he used to possess and his ball skills have vanished. I used to watch Chelsea all the time as his mesmerising pace caused all defenders a problem and he was a thorn in any premier league side that came against him.Numerous injuries have contributed to his downfall and unfortunately he will never be the same player he used to be.

Frustration For Chelsea Continues

It can’t possibly get any worse for Chelsea. Just one win in six and only scoring four times these are proving difficult times for the club. And it all  seems to have occured since Ray Wilkins’ untimely departure. Chelsea now look a shadow of the team they were at the start of the season. 

Their performances haven’t neccessarily been bad this past month, they just haven’t managed to string any wins together. Its that simple.

Chelsea started the season in blistering form beating West Brom & Wigan 6-0 & gave Blackpool plenty to think about from their 4-0 rout. They continued their form into September winning all bar 2 spirited performances from Manchester City & Newcastle. October was an almost faultless month with Chelsea winning 4/5 and looking looking like true champions but then came november. A 3-0 hammering from Sunderland began their downfall losing a further two games and numerous matches being drawn have dented Chelsea’s title challenge. 

December couldn’t have possibly come  any sooner as the champions were struggling for form desperately needing a win against Everton to take them back to the summit. Chelsea struggled to make ends meat and were lucky to lead 1-0 at the break. The blues looked like they had finally got some rythym together only to concede late on to a Jermaine Beckford header.

Last night vs Marseille it was a dead rubber, as they call it , already obtaining a place in the knockout stages but Ancelotti fielded a strong team with Drogba, Essien, Malouda & JT all starting. Chelsea needed this to restore at least some pride but this was not the case as they once again failed to rediscover that impeccable form from earlier this season, conceding a late goal courtesy of some slack defending. 

Many have put this weak form down to the absence of  England duo Frank Lampard & club captain John Terry, who returned last weekend against the toffee’s. Lampard has been out since late August sidelined with a hernia problem which was healed, and then his return was postponed due to a groin injury. There have also been more notable absentees with Michael Essien & Alex both being injured at some point during this season and now Jose Bosingwa’s ruled out for two-three weeks with a hamstring strain.

What is also being debated is whether or not Chelsea have missed former assistant coach Ray Wilkins. His departure left many stunned and bewildered as Chelsea started their downward spiral almost directly after his departure. On a side note, Frank Arnesen, Chelsea’s sporting director, resigned soon after to add to the woes leaving Chelsea to lick their wounds.

Chelsea couldn’t possibly be in any worse form coming up to possibly their hardest fixtures to date as they play Tottenham, Manchester United & Arsenal all in succession. A win against Tottenham could prove vital for the champion’s season, re igniting the fire that burns ever so brightly at Stamford Bridge.

Nasri to end year on a high..

People often debate over who’s the best player in the world. In 2009 it was a two horse race with Ronaldo & Lionel battling it out for that coveted Ballon D’or & Player of the year double (Messi won).Unfortunately the form has come at the wrong time post the Ballon D’or shortlist nominees as Samir Nasri has nothing to commend him on his recent performances bar pride.

What a transformation he has undergone. Last season he was relatively unknown amongst europe’s top dogs, he wasn’t even chosen for the French World Cup squad and now he is regarded as a dominant figure in the footballing world performing consistently well week in, week out for his club earning him this mention. 

He has scored 5 goals in his last four games adding his tally to 11 for the season. His outstanding contribution against Fulham has catapulted him up the ranks of the golden boot standings consolidating his place amongst England’s finest with 8 goals. What must be noted aswel is the quality of these goals. Coming up to his superb double on Saturday, Nasri had yet to showcase his control of a football. It sounds simple doesn’t it? He definately made it look simple too as he (with ease) shifted the ball back beyond two defenders and rifled his shot into the top corner. His second goal was more of the same, receiving the ball off Van Persie he elegantly cruised into the box shuffled past 2 defenders, rounded the keeper and squeezed home from a tight angle to secure the 3 points Arsenal so desperately needed.

Nasri has been without a shadow of a doubt Arsenal’s best player this year, replacing the unusually inefficient Captain Cesc Fabregas who’s had a rather dire campaign contributing very little, but in his defence this season he’s been constantly hammpered by injuries, most recently a hamstring strain which adds to the never ending on-going list. 

Unfortunately Nasri’s form from earlier this year has robbed him of the prestigious award that is the Ballon D’or. It will most likely go to Argentine Lionel Messi after a dazzling array of performances all season finishing with a tally of 34 league goals last season & 13 for this latest season. He was influential in Barca’s 5-0 demolition of Real Madrid just last Monday splitting the defence wide open putting David Villa through on goal on two seperate occasions.

If Nasri can hold this form until the rest of the season who knows where or what he’ll be doing next year. Recently people have started to compare him to the Robert Pires of the invincables era. 

For the near future I will be keeping a close eye on Mr Nasri & i hope, for his sakes, that he can carry this form into the new year.

England vs Australia 2nd Test

Stunning. Absolutely Marvelous. Majestical. Mesmerising. England have beaten Australia at Adelaide by an innings & 71 runs. G. Swann was the main man taking 5-91 with the test winning wicket.

Australia resumed yesterday on 238-4 with M. Clark sensationally bowled out (for 80) by part time spinner Kevin Pieterson with the last ball of the day (mon morn) disrupting the Aussies form. 

England went into today looking to dent Australia’s chances of salvging a draw and did just that taking 6-66 within an hour and 10 mins, seriously harming Australia’s Ashes chances. Hussey did provide some resistance with a solid 52 as Australia looked strong early on. Then they hit the self destruct button. England took full advantage of this situation taking 3 wickets from 4 balls as the tide swung in Englands favour. Another wicket followed soon after and soon enough we were waiting for the Aussies to Concede the test, Peter Siddle procrastinating as long as he could but the sheer brilliance of Graeme Swann proving pivotal.

Test Figures

Swann 5-91
Pieterson 1-10
Finn 2-60
James Anderson 2-92

*Englands 100th Test Victory over Aussie’s
*Australia’s first loss at adelaide by England since 1993
*Swann & Finn lead Top Wicket takers in Ashes with 9.
*England beat Australia by an innings+ for 25th time.
*Graeme Swann’s 10th 5 wicket haul

Chris Houghton Sacking..

Today Chris Hughton emerged as the first managerial casualty of this years premier league campaign. Unless its a joke Newcastle have landed themselves in some deep trouble. Having guided Newcastle to championship glory this is how he’s repayed? He should have at least been offered a contract!

 Around lunchtime today Newcastle announced they were parting with manager Chris Hughton, citing they needed a more “experienced” manager. What did he do wrong? I admit Newcastle have been reasonably unsteady in this years premiership, formwise, but when they reach top gear its almost impossible to stop.  They’ve managed some surprise wins with a 6-0 rout over struggling Aston villa and a 5-1 drubbing over local tyneside rivals Sunderland. 

This decision caught me by surprise as Chris has done a fantastic job at Newcastle, sitting comfortably in 11th and only 7 points off fifth, this season was looking nicely. This surprise sacking will obviously have a major effect on the players as most of them respected and enjoyed his company. 

Various footballers took to the twittersphere to air their views with arsenal’s jack wilshere labelling it “a disgrace, rio ferdinand comically debated whether or not it was “april fools” and Newcastle’s own Danny simpson describing himself as “shocked”.

One thing remains for the magpie’s faithful and that is whether or not they can replace Hughton with someone equally as good and somebody who can lead by example . Alan Pardrew leads the way as bets on him were suspended early this evening. 

Updated: 22:32 Mon 6th Dec .. Alan Pardrew (acc to newcastle forums) has arrived for talks with Newcastle Board