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This is the archive for June 2007

Au revoir Henry

So Thierry Henry has finally left Arsenal. I heard some radio phone in the other day, and a rather annoyed Arsenal fan sent in a text message saying he hoped Henry failed at his new club, Barcelona. For his sake, I hope he finds a brain soon.

Henry has been a fantastic servant to the club since he joined 1999. Without him, it seems unlikely they would have achieved what they did. However, after Patrick Vierra departed, and they lost the Champions League final, things have rapidly gone downhill for Arsenal. There was a good deal of talk about Henry leaving last season, but he stayed. In all honesty, it was probably a wasted year for him. Like any sportsman, he wants to win things. The way things are going, that's probably not going to happen at Arsenal.

Still, the fans should thank him for his service, wish him luck and think about finding a replacement. With a pretty generous £16 million from his transfer, they should be able to get someone. Arsene Wenger has proven many times in the past, that he has a keen eye for emerging talent. After all, he was the one who brought in Henry in the first place.

The Money Game

We've all been there before. It's Christmas time, and you need to buy a gift for your multi-millionaire pal. But what do get a man that already has it all? A yacht? No, he's got two of those already. A house? Well, including his cottage in the country, he already has five properties to his name.

Okay, it's not really that common a problem, but if you do ever find yourself in this situation, I've got a fair idea what you could buy - a soccer club. Yes, it seems no super-rich man about town can go without one at the moment. Newcastle is currently being taken over by Mike Ashley, Daniel Williams is in talks with Blackburn, and newly-promoted Birmingham has apparently been attracting the attention of Lakshmi Mittal.

I'm not sure what this means for the game in general though. On the surface, more investment in soccer would appear to be a good thing. However, with players already getting paid more in a week than I could get by selling every one of my internal organs on eBay, it could also encourage the mercenary ways which many of them exhibit. This week's news that three Premiership players have been accused of faking details to cover up speeding offenses shows many of them irresponsible and dangerous. Giving them more money, and therefore more power, is surely unwise.

Anyway, my own plans to buy a football club have been scuppered by my total lack of funds. A quick scan of my bank statements suggests I can just about afford one of Michael Owen's boots, provided I give up the luxury of food for a month. Oh well...

Yet another contract clause...

Seeing as it's a day ending with the letter 'y', we have to say a bit about David Beckham. Like just about every Premiership footballer, he has a clause is his contract, which is causing all kinds of umming and aaring from the British press. It seems that Real Madrid can keep him in Spain if they offer him a new contract and he accepts. However, a spokesperson for Beckham says he has no intention of letting LA Galaxy down. So that's that then.

What I want to know is, what's the point of having a contract if you're just going to stick in clauses which actually make it effectively useless? A club signs a player for five years, but there's a clause which says he can leave after one, just because he doesn't like it. Next thing you know, there'll be clauses that allow players to miss training so they can sit on their sofas in their underwear, watching daytime TV (which I could understand, since Channel Five shows episodes of Columbo during the week).

We have to remember these people are role models. Members of the public (admittedly, rather stupid ones) will copy what they do. What would happen if these kinds of contract clauses started seeping into everyday life?

'Sorry, no school today kids. The teachers have 'no-children' clauses in their contracts.' Or 'Sorry, little Timmy, your daddy won't be getting that heart transplant. The doctors have 'no-blood' clauses'.

So essentially, David Beckham is going to be responsible making the nation illiterate, and for killing poor little Timmy's dad. Actually, I think I might have lost the thread just a little...

Is Owen goin'?

Newcastle's permanently injured Michael Owen has a get-out clause in his contract, which means he could leave for as little as £9 million. He cost the club £17 million, plus whatever ridiculous wages he's on, yet he played about five games the entire season, thanks to long-term injury. Seeing as he was getting paid to do nothing, and that the club also went to great expense getting him the best medical treatment available, you'd think he'd want to pay the club and the fans back. Sadly, this may not be the case. If anything is going to keep him at Newcastle, it seems, it will be the fact that very few clubs are willing to pay £9 million for a player who's barely touched a ball all season.

If he does leave, it will be a sad day not only for Newcastle, but for football in general, because Owen seems to be that rarest of rarities - an honourable footballer.

A kick in the Brazil nuts

England’s friendly with Brazil ended with a 1-1 draw; not exactly an inspiring result, and a disappointment for those hoping for a winning start at the new Wembley stadium. Being a friendly, this result is hardly cause for any great concern. A few new players got a run out and a couple of England’s more experienced players returned to action (i.e. Beckham and Owen).

What is of concern is the way in which England conceded. Having gone a goal up, they lacked the killer instinct needed to finish the game. Instead, they meekly capitulated to a Brazilian team which was frankly lacklustre.

How will this affect their upcoming qualifier game against Estonia? Not much. England are certain to be victorious; the only question is by how many goals they’ll win. The answer is: probably not enough. Unless they put five or six goals past this relatively weak opposition, they are likely to attract a great deal of criticism from fans and the media. Judging from past performances against teams like Macedonia, they’re likely to be in for a rough ride.

Wigan Woe

Obviously not content with narrowly avoiding the drop this season, Wigan have decided they'd like to guarantee relegation next season, with what could well be the worst signing of the upcoming season. Having just begun his tenure at the club, new manager Chris Hutchings has committed career suicide by signing the woeful Titus 'Shambles' Bramble. While playing at his previous club, Newcastle United, the central defender struck fear into the hearts of other players, managers and fans. Unfortunately, the other players were his teammates, the managers were the fools stupid enough to pick him, and the fans were the Newcastle faithful. On the plus side, if he played ten games in a row, he'd probably put in one really good performance. You'd be left thinking that maybe he's not such a bad footballer, until the next game, where he'd go to clear the ball, promptly miss, fall on his arse, and give the opposition a clear chance on goal.

Newcastle released Bramble, as his contract was up. This means Wigan signed him for free, and Newcastle made no money from the deal. My guess is, come the end of the season, Wigan are going to be the ones feeling short-changed.

Becks to basics

David Beckham. Not the ideal way to start a blog entry, but it seems like everyone else is talking about him, so I might as well have a go at it too. Of course, the media are always interested in him, no matter what he’s been doing (or not doing, as the case may be). However, this week there’s been a good reason for it.

Yes, he’s back in the England squad. As many a football fan predicted, Steve McClaren is quickly proving his inability to manage at the highest level, and is desperately trying to save his own skin by bringing in an experienced, talismanic player.

That’s not to say that Beckham doesn’t deserve the recall. Although I can understand McClaren’s desire to start afresh, and I applaud his courage in dropping such a popular player, I think it was wrong to leave Beckham out altogether. Putting him on the bench for a few games might have been a better strategy.

Regardless, his recent form is what’s got him back in the squad, and hopefully his presence will benefit England’s chances of qualifying for Euro 2008. However, even if England do qualify, it seems unthinkable that Beckham will play in the tournament, considering he’ll be an LA Galaxy player by then. No disrespect to Major League Soccer, but he’d have more chance of being picked if he was playing on the moon (okay, maybe a little disrespect).

Then again, this is David Beckham, so anything could happen.