09 June, 2008

Rounding Them Up

So hardcore users of STT might have noticed updates tailing off somewhat recently and that’s as much to do with staff unprofessionalism as it is with the general lack on concrete news/gossip/lies circulating in the national press. So here then is a slightly random summation of the news that’s been buzzing around rumourland this week.

Completely out of the blue, the European Championships 2008 are already upon us it seems. While in some ways it’ll nice to be able to just sit back and enjoy a major international tournament without the spectre of England’s inevitable failure hanging over it, in other ways, it’s hard to really care that much. As a football blog though, I guess we kind of have to offer some level of coverage to help fire both your, and also our own, enthusiasm. We talked ages ago about picking a team to follow randomly out a hat, and putting some money down to make it a bit more interesting, so if you haven’t already done so, we encourage you to get involved today. STT like Portugal and Spain, but as ever, they are both destined to failure. The smart money must be on Germany, Italy (even without the injured Fabio Cannavaro), France or even Holland, as historically successful countries in major tournaments, but as with Greece four years ago, almost anyone in this final 16 could do the business. Good outside bet? Croatia, no diggity.

In the Premier League, plenty of managers have been moving about, while actual player transfers seem to have stalled until post-Euro. Mark Hughes made the strange decision to move from Blackburn to Manchester City, putting his head on Thaksin Shinawatra’s chopping block. Surely the path for him was wait a couple more years until Alex Ferguson retires and then the Manchester United throne was his? Bizarre. Anyway, former City boss Sven Goran Erikson has surfaced again already as the Mexican head coach, which is an interesting appointment both from his perspective and theirs. Mexico are certainly a team on the rise these days, and Erikson clearly knows what he’s doing, so they could be a good prospect come World Cup 2010. And of course the big appointment came as no surprise to anyone. Jose Mourinho has taken the reigns at perennial ‘Harlem Globetrotters’ Inter Milan, and you can guarantee that not only will Inter win their third Serie A title in a row next year, but they will be in the Champions League semi-finals at the very least.

His old club Chelsea are still managerless however, and with the prospect of a mass player exodus on their hands, things are not looking so hot for Roman Abramovich and the Blues. Many big-hitters have already turned the job down, as has Mark Hughes (obviously), so the smart money now seems to be on ex-Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard coming to West London. Didier Drogba wants out; Frank Lampard and Ricardo Carvalho want to apparently follow Jose to Inter; Ashley Cole too wants to jump ship (presumably because his mission of alienating this entire country is complete and he wants a new challenge); SWP, Wayne Bridge and Steve Sidwell are primary targets for plenty of other Premier League sides; Florent Malouda is wanted by Barce for some reason; and the rest, well, who cares?

Cristiano Ronaldo has ruffled many of feathers by finally breaking his silence about Real Madrid. The Portuguese winger told reporters yesterday that yes he did indeed want to join Madrid if they were prepared to pay him what they’ve said they will (£300,000 per week), and also properly compensate Manchester United with what will certainly be a world record transfer fee. While one Ronnie might leave this country, another might join, with further speculation of Barcelona’s Ronaldinho joining Manchester City doing the rounds. Also wanted by Manchester City is fellow Brazilian youngster Jo, from CSKA Moscow, and presumably having Ronaldinho as a potential teammate would be a real draw for the promising striker. Watch this space as they say.

Elsewhere, further rumours abound about Alexander Hleb and Emmanual Adebayor leaving Arsenal for Barce and AC Milan respectively, but in both cases it’s hard to separate fact from pure fiction. Young Barcelona prospect Giovanni Dos Santos might be heading the other way to London, with Spurs circulating around the 18-year-old Mexican. Liverpool’s Spanish playmaker Xabi Alonso might well be leaving these shores soon too, with Juventus the likely destination, however a large asking price is stalling the deal. The final piece of big transfer news then surrounds promising Cardiff midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who at just 17 is already wanted by all of the big-4 if you believe the rumours. A boyhood Man United fan, Ramsey is expected to decide on his future this weekend after he meets both Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson in Switzerland…

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