Posts Tagged ‘ Robin Van Persie ’

Have Manchester United Learned From Last Season?

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With Bobby Charlton having admitted that Manchester United made mistakes last season, the question on all football fans lips is- can United learn from the mistakes made under David Moyes and return to the summit of the Premier League?

United fans cringed last season watching United play dull, boring and ineffective football that left them in 7th and without any European football for the first time since the 90’s. David Moyes was an abysmal and embarrassing failure, one United are keen not to replicate. His lack of confidence against the big teams shone through, and his negative tactics and poor substitution decisions left many wondering what Sir Alex Ferguson and the United board ever saw in the former Everton manager. The summer transfer window was truly embarrassing with only Maroaune Fellaini bought in as a deadline day panic signing that saw the club pay far more than he was worth. Fellaini has failed at United, and his attitude of having nothing to prove seems to surmise him as a footballer. It has been rumoured that the transfer failings were down to Ed Woodward’s inexperience and Moyes dithering and panicking over large fees. He still managed to spend over £60m with Fellaini and Juan Mata brought in to revamp the sub-par United midfield. The importance Moyes placed on Wayne Rooney was a further humiliation, as Moyes proved he felt the potential captain was more important than the club as a whole, rumour of Rooney being consulted on all transfer dealings was met with amazement by fans. David Moyes was a mistake that left the great club in tatters and as a result the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic have all departed. United now have few players with real experience and as such it is time for the new to emerge. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: Best XI Of The Tournament

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The sun has now set on the 2014 World Cup finals, with Germany trotting off back to the heart of Europe with the trophy tucked neatly under their collective arm. It threatened to be a World Cup for the underdogs, until the established powers of Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands and Germany used their nous to edge out the likes of Costa Rica and Colombia in the quarter-finals. But it was undoubtedly entertaining from start to finish, and here we will look back and celebrate the best performers on this grand stage, with our best eleven players from the World Cup.

Goalkeeper:
Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)

A key part of Costa Rica’s surprising drive into the last eight of the competition, Navas was a reliable pair of hands behind his defence, when called upon. The Costa Rican defence was very strong throughout, but Navas still had to make twenty-one saves over the course of five games, and that was before taking part in two penalty shootouts. Predictably, his exploits have led to plenty of rumours of big clubs trying to sign the Levante man, with the word now that he is off to Bayern Munich. A well-earned reward for the stalwart custodian between the Costa Rican sticks. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: Germany And Argentina Primed For Showdown

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We are entering the closing stages of World Cup 2014 now, with the quarter and semi finals having taken place in the past week. The action has been ferocious throughout, and that pain is really felt on days with no action scheduled. Let’s take a look back at this week’s action with our weekly review.

Quarter-finals

Friday:

The first quarter-final took place between France and Germany on Friday afternoon in the Maracana in Rio De Janeiro. The pre-match hype had made France favourites, particularly after the news of a virus rampaging through the German squad. The all-European affair was a tight battle throughout, with Germany taking the lead after thirteen minutes through a powerful header from centre back Mats Hummels. The Germans held the French off at arms length for the majority of the remaining time, with France having the odd half-chance here and there, but mostly failing to get conjure any meaningful penetration through the heart of the German defence. The Germans advanced, with Hummels’ header the only goal of the game. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: Recap Of Week One

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The first week of World Cup 2014 is now behind us, and there has been plenty of talking points and memorable moments. Here is our recap of all the action that has taken place so far.

Thursday:

The opening game between Croatia and the host nation Brazil was the sole game on Thursday, and provided no end of controversy. Croatia had taken a well deserved early lead against a sluggish Brazillian outfit, before Neymar conjured an equaliser out of very little to get the home fans on their feet. Yet they failed to get the upper hand in the contest, until the referee awarded a very controversial penalty to Fred as he tumbled under Dejan Lovren’s presence in the penalty area. Neymar converted, and Oscar wrapped up the 3-1 win with a good finish from outside the box, although there was strong suspicion that Ramires had fouled the Croat player in possession before moving the ball to his Chelsea teammate. The home side were very unconvincing throughout, however.

Friday:

The standard of the officials continued to be brought into question during Friday’s first game, as the linesman ruled out two seemingly good goals for Mexico’s Giovanni Dos Santos in their game against Cameroon. Mexico did eventually get the breakthrough when Oribe Peralta turned in a rebound after Charles Itandje failed to hold Dos Santos’ shot. That was the only goal of the game, securing the win for the lively Mexicans, with Cameroon looking very poor. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: Predictions For Every Team

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With the kick-off of World Cup 2014 now less than a week away, the excitement is starting to build. Coverage of the event is starting to really pick up, as the footballing world gets ready for the beginning of it’s biggest event of any calendar year. With that in mind, I would like to put forward my predictions for every team and how they will fare, including all the teams who will fall at the group stage hurdle, all the way on to who I predict will be the eventual winners.

Group stage eliminations

Cameroon

The most likely victim of what is a very tough draw, Cameroon seem like long shots to emerge from Group A. Hosts Brazil, potential dark horses Croatia and Mexico make up the rest of the group, and it may well prove too much for Cameroon to claim enough points to sneak in to the knockout stages. An experienced squad led by captain Samuel Eto’o as well as veterans Alex Song and Jean Makoun, Cameroon also boast young defensive talent in Nicolas N’Koulou and Joel Matip. Unfortunately for them, it seems unlikely that they will prove good enough to edge out two of the other teams, and so it looks like three games and out for Cameroon.

Mexico

It looks quite likely that Brazil and Croatia will emerge from this group, especially if the Croatians can get a point in the tournament’s inaugural match. Mexico had a very ugly qualifying campaign to even reach Brazil, finishing fourth in their group, behind the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras. They eventually beat New Zealand comfortably in a play-off, but it does not augur well for them in such a tough group. Still, Mexico boast a very experienced squad, with the likes of Rafael Marquez still around to organise them. If the likes of Javier Hernandez (who has a scoring rate of better than one every two games for his country) catches fire, then maybe they have a shot. But all signs point to an early exit for Mexico.

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United Supporters Call For Ed’s Head

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Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward would do well to fly under the radar for the foreseeable future, following a summer transfer window which can be fairly described as ridiculous, by Manchester United’s supporters at any rate. Two acquisitions in three months, neither of them high-profile, wasn’t exactly what the fans would have been hoping for, and it must be galling to have been outspent by Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, whose reputation for refusing to spend large sums was spectacularly shattered through the €50 million signing of Mesut Özil on Monday, the same player who was reportedly offered to United at some stage last week. Newly promoted from his previous role as United’s head of commercial operation, Woodward has spent the summer having a rude awakening as he discovers that handling player transfers is a whole new ball game compared to thrashing out sponsorship deals, and that his own negotiation skills aren’t as fantastic as he evidently expected.

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Five Potential Replacements For Luis Suarez

?????????At the end of May I posted an article on Irish News Review about Luis Suarez plotting his exit from Liverpool, but who knew that ten weeks later the Uruguayan would still be in the middle of one of the longest transfer sagas to date.

At the time of writing the previous piece I was already resigned to losing Suarez as were a lot of other Liverpool fans. At this stage I’d guess that a lot of those fans wish he had of just left then to save us all from the endless Twitter rumours and all this ‘he said, they said’ that’s been going on ever since. Continue reading

Manchester United Shouldn’t Celebrate Just Yet

Sir-Alex-FergusonAs Mark Halsey blew the whistle at Old Trafford on Sunday evening fans and journalists alike busied themselves with a proclamation concerning the end of Manchester City’s brief reign as champions of the Premier League. On the face of things, it’s hard to disagree. After all, United are 12 points clear at the top with Sir Alex Ferguson determined not to lose the title to the noisy neighbours for a second year in a row. And with Robin Van Persie still firing on all cylinders and continually proving that his last year at Arsenal was by no means the peak of his career, alongside the bolstering effect of Nemanja Vidic’s return at the back, it’s difficult to argue. If the momentum is with any team, it is with United. Continue reading

Is Van Persie Made Of Manchester United ‘Stuff’?

Recent transfer speculation has placed Arsenal star Robin Van Persie in the sights of several of Europe’s top clubs; Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus being chief among his potential suitors. It’s not exactly difficult to imagine why he would want to leave. After all, he boasts only two trophies from his days at Arsenal; an FA Cup medal from 2005 and one slightly less momentous Community Shield from 2004. Arsenal, whose financial model makes sense yet is so far removed from the outrageous wages and expenditure so favoured by world football and the Premier League and thus is failing, are looking more and more like a feeder club to those at the top, rather than one looking to seriously challenge for domestic and European honours.

This speculation has favoured Manchester United to capture the Dutch forward and one of the most recent revelations declares that Van Persie is seeking wages similar to those of Wayne Rooney, if he is to join the Red Devils. While United do have the financial clout to meet his demands, the questions is not can they, but should they.

The thing is, Rooney is 26 and van Persie has three years on him. And while the Dutchman may have a similar amount of playing time, due to several bouts of injuries, the fact remains that the clock is beginning to tick. 28, going on 29 may not be exactly old, but paying such a large transfer fee for an older player can be somewhat of a risk. Take Berbatov, for example, whose £30 million transfer to United from Spurs hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses. It all hinges on whether Van Persie is only getting going, or if this is his peak. There’s no denying that he is an extremely talented footballer. But there are still a number of things that go against him. His injury record, for example, which may or may not be a worry to the manager, who would doubtfully want another Owen Hargreaves. His record too is a little short. He has had really only one great season at Arsenal, though it has to be said, what a season it was. Talisman is a word used often and certainly not sparingly by the press, yet a talisman for Arsenal he was, joining the ranks of a handful of players who managed to score 30 goals in a solitary league season. But he’s only done it the once. Can he do it again? Or has he reached the peak, the summit of his skill and is it simply downhill from here? Nobody can really predict what’s going to happen. Who could have foreseen, for example, Fernando Torres’ remarkable slump into mediocrity?

Then of course there is the wage demand. Sir Alex seems to prefer the type of footballer who comes to Old Trafford seeking to play with and for the best, whose passion lies out on the pitch rather than with a pay cheque. With his rather exorbitant wage demands, Van Persie comes across like a footballing mercenary, (Samir Nasri springs to mind) looking for money rather than a club to be passionate about. Sure, footballers should be able to demand what they feel they are worth, though that opens up yet another can of worms regarding how much the profession is paid these days. United don’t need another like Tevez. Sure, mercenaries are part and parcel of our game, just like diving and whinging is, but United are one of those clubs, like Barcelona and a handful of others, who are able to attract a certain type of player which exhibits a quality possessed by the rarest of footballers – loyalty. Really, he should stay another year and prove himself worthy of the recognition he’s getting. Then again, if Arsenal have any sense, they’ll offload him now rather than have him see out his contract then leave at the end of next season on a free transfer.

United have plenty of talent up front, in the form of Rooney, Chicharito, Macheda, Welbeck, even the much maligned Dimitar Berbatov, who may or may not be on the way out this summer. Should van Persie join then he is just another name taking away valuable playing time from those younger potential stars who need regular games not just to ensure fitness, but one of the most important things a footballer can possess – confidence. Not to mention the small prospect of the financial aspect to this transfer. For wages alone, on a three-year deal, should United offer Van Persie the same £220,000 a week Rooney is on, it would cost the club a little over £34 million. That’s not even including the £30 million transfer fee Wenger is reportedly looking for. And of course the figure rises should the contract extend any further. £64 million is quite a huge investment in a player who will turn 29 by the time the Premier League starts again, who has had quite a number of injury concerns over his career and who has had only one really great season for Arsenal.

No, midfield is where they should concentrate on; a long-term replacement for Paul Scholes, and one or two other potentials besides. Lucas Moura or Modric would be nice names to feature on the United team sheet but there are many other young players like young Nick Powell out there, because big transfer fees and solid reputations don’t always ensure value on the pitch. So on the surface, a move for one of football’s hottest talents might be the right one but under that surface it doesn’t seem quite so attractive.

Euro 2012-The Favourites

Euro 2012 is almost upon us. Over 24 days, 16 teams will play 31 games in eight stadiums to earn the right to lift the European Championship Trophy. Over the duration of the tournament, upsets will occur, incidents will happen, controversy is expected, the top attacking players in European Football will go against the top defenders, but only one team will win. Here Irish News Review assesses our top three contenders for the Henri Delaunay trophy.

Spain: 

The first to be looked at and heavy favourites, as expected are Spain. The reigning European and World champions go into this tournament with heavy expectations on their shoulders. Despite missing the injured Barcelona duo Carles Puyol and David Villa, the Spanish squad still contain an exceptional number of talent such as Iker Casillas, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva, Juan Mata, Fernando Llorente and Fernando Torres at their disposal. To say they have the most talented squad would be an understatement.

They have a difficult group on paper, Italy, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland should prove difficult opposition, but Spain having been in this position and come out on top twice, should have more than enough to win the group. The players will expect to be playing teams who keep ten men behind the ball and Euro 2012 should be no different. Both Italy and the Republic of Ireland have defensive mentalities and will attempt to stifle Spain in those games. Even Croatia, normally at team of an attacking nature will surely adopt a more defensive approach when going up against the number one team in the world.

The Spanish nation as well as the players and staff will be expecting a third international trophy in a row; it would take an exceptional team on top of their game to beat the Spanish. Bet against them at your Peril.

Holland: 

The Dutch had their hearts broken two years ago in South Africa, when a late Andres Iniesta goal handed Spain the world Cup at the expense of Holland, leaving the Dutch without an International trophy since 1988. Like Spain they have a number of extremely talented players including Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Rafael Van der Vaart, Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Dirk Kuyt and Robin Van Persie. Where Holland struggle and where coach Bert Van Marwijk will need to be at his best is turning what is normally a group of individuals into a team. He succeeded at the World Cup, but not without a price, sacrificing their normal attacking football style for a more defensive approach and despite it getting them to the final, they were criticised.

Holland are faced with the most difficult group in the competition, the “group of death” along with Germany, Portugal and Denmark. Despite the obvious difficulties of the group Holland should overcome Denmark and Portugal and then tussle with Germany for position of group winner. It will of course depend on the form of their attacking players and whether they can duplicate their performances of two years previously, but if Van Marwijk can combine their toughness of 2010 with a little more attacking freedom this time around then Holland more than capable of going all the way.

Holland have a lot to prove in international tournaments. With the exception of 1988, the country that gave us total football have usually been the bridesmaid rather than the bride. This squad will be determined to erase the World Cup Final, but can they?

Germany: 

Germany were the surprise package in South Africa in 2010, Joachim Loew had selected a very young side full of potential, who combined and very attack minded philosophy with German efficiency to great effect. Two years later the surprise factor may be gone, but the players in that young German side have evolved into very good players in their own right. Players such as Mezut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Sami Khedira excelled at the World Cup and have established themselves in the first 11 because of it. Those four combined with Lukas Podolski, Bastien Schweinsteiger, Phillip Lahm, Mario Gomez, veteran striker Miroslav Klose and new additions such as Mats Hummels and Mario Gotze make Germany one of the clear favourites for Euro 2012.

Germany joins Holland, Portugal and Denmark in the Euro 2012 “group of death”. Given the quality the Germans posses and their penchant for tournament football, it is fully expected that they will get out of the group.  The only question is in what position. The key fixture in Group B takes place on June 13th when Germany face Holland in the game that more then likely decide the outcome of the group as a whole and will more then likely avoid Spain until the final. Once out of the group, it will be fully expected that Germany will get to at least the semi-finals if not the final itself.

If history has showed anything, it’s you never right off the Germans. The longest they have gone without a trophy is 20 years; it has been 16 years since they last won in 1996. It is doubtful they will have to wait much longer.