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14 July 2007

What Does Benitez Think He's Doing

Only a fool or an Everton fan (often the same thing) would dare to suggest that Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is a bad manager.

After all, since the turn of the century, he has won Primera Liga twice with Valencia and won the cup and league double in Spain. Since moving to Liverpool as manager, he's won the FA Cup and, of course, the Champions League.

As part of all that, he's made Chelsea's Jose Mourinho look ridiculous on more than one occasion - which, in my eyes, should be worth extra Premiership points for his side.

Having said all that, Benitez never really looked like he was focusing on a genuine challenge for the Premier League title. Until now.

Backed by Liverpool's new American owners, Rafa has been spending big this summer. Fernando Torres; Ryan Babel; Yossi Benayoun and a whole bunch of East Europeans clearly indicates that - this season - Benitez is aiming to win it.

The problem is: it's not going to happen. Bringing in 6 or 7 new faces all at once is not the recipe for Premiership football glory.

Torres may, like Morientes before him, find the pace of Premiership football too fast and, consequently, have to spend six months adapting.

The same goes for bedding players like Voronin and Benayoun into a big squad. It's not going to be an immediate thing. Both will have to fight to get starting places against some high quality and illustrious opposition.

The intent from Benitez is clearly there, but he's bought too many players. An incremental approach that would address weaknesses in his current squad (ie: bringing in Torres and Babel only) may have paid dividends.

However, that's not what has happened. Liverpool will be third again this term.

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13 July 2007

It Wasn't Me, Guv...I'm An Arsenal Fan

Funniest press statement of the day comes from Boris Berezovsky, a Russian businessman alleged to be involved in Kia Joorabchian's company Media Sports Investment (MSI).

It appears that authorities in Brazil - concerned over money laundering relating to transfers by Corinthians football club, in which MSI holds a majority stake - have issued arrest warrants for Joorabchian and Berezovsky.

In a startling press statement that is sure to impress the sharpest of legal minds, Mr Berezovsky denies all the allegations, saying:

"I am not involved in money-laundering, nor have I been involved in any dealings connected to Carlos Tevez. I am an Arsenal fan."

Yup, that's right. Mr Berezovsky couldn't be involved in anything as shady as money laundering because he is an Arsenal fan.

I'm going to attempt the same strategy if I ever have problems with the police:

"Honest, guv, I couldn't have been me. I'm a Spurs fan".

I'll be very interested to see what sort of reaction I might get. I suspect, however, that it will not become a major feature in the strategies of our top defence lawyers.

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11 July 2007

Hadn't We Moved On From Crazy Transfer Fees?

2 for 1 deal: For the price of one Berbatov, you can get a Chopra and a Koumas.

Yes, that's right. For approximately the price Spurs paid for Dimitar Berbatov, you could buy Michael Chopra (struggled at Newcastle, wasn't even much good on loan to Barnsley). And you get a Jason Koumas thrown in (shown up as mediocre in the Premiership last time around).

Don't get me wrong: both players have some talent. But my question is this: is Chopra a five million quid player when Cardiff bought him for £500,000 only 12 months ago ?

And is Jason Koumas, a 27 year old who has failed to deliver at the top level, really worth the 5.3million that Wigan have just paid for him.

Despite the claims of Wigan boss Chris Hutchings, Koumas will never be anyone's Paul Scholes.

Which begs the question: why are Premiership clubs spending such outrageous sums on this calibre of player. I thought we had all moved on from the crazy transfer fees of a few years back.

The obvious answer is that the new Sky deal combined with new investment in Premiership football has made the clubs - yet again - feel flush.

Knowing the club interested in a player has lots of cash to spend invariably pushes up the asking price. That's just good business from the point of view of the selling club.

But clubs who wish to take a chance on the likes of Chopra or Koumas should be holding firm for the £1.5 - 2million that these players are really worth.

Surely Premiership football clubs have learnt the lessons of the past by now? But the inflated transfer fees of this summer suggest that, no, they haven't.

It's a ridiculous and unsustainable state of affairs and will, ultimately, only cause financial problems for Premiership clubs that really can't afford it.

Wanna take bets on who the next Leeds United will be ?

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