Monday, 25 October 2010

Most Promising Footballers in the World - No.6

One of newest Chelsea youngsters, and another promising English talent...

Josh McEachran

Club: Chelsea
Age: 17
Position: Centre Midfield
Claim to fame: Made his Chelsea debut, aged 17, in the Champions League

One of the most promising young midfielders in the country, a product of the Chelsea academy, big things are expected of the 17 year old.

He is a left footed midfielder; he can operate in the centre or can play as a deep lying playmaker. He came into the public spotlight after making his Chelsea first team debut in a 4-1 win against MSK Zilina, where he played 11 minutes. He went on to make his Premier League debut in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, wearing the number 46 shirt.

He is highly rated by pundits and football fans alike, but current Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti heaped praise on the youngster, stating;

“When it’s possible, I would like to give time on the pitch to our younger players to improve our experience as a team. McEachran is very young but he is a fantastic talent and it’s important to give him an opportunity.”

A great player for the future who is already making his mark in and around the current Chelsea squad, and should be a first team starter in the next few years. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Rooney to leave Manchester United?

Real Talk Football takes a break from is "Most Promising Players" list, to look at one of the biggest sagas to hit the Premiership in recent years, a somewhat familiar story surrounding Manchester United, a star player, and crossing the somewhat ruthless Sir Alex Ferguson.

The definitive actions and timeline of this Wayne Rooney and Sir Alex saga is well documented, but if you are unaware, click here.

Nothing in football, as in life, is guaranteed, but the manner in which Wayne Rooney is looking to leave Manchester United is somewhat disturbing.

An apparent bust up behind doors, has crept into the public limelight, after it seems Rooney's misdemeanors in his private life, caused a free fall in form.

When asked, a public acknowledgement from Ferguson that Rooney was "injured", was seen as an opportunity for Rooney to rest, gather his thoughts, repair his private life, all with the objective in mind to rediscover his form from last season, being the objective for both him, and Sir Alex.

But his blatant and quite frank denial of the ankle injury, especially to the UK press, has subsequently damaged the relationship between the two, rendering it irreconcilable. The latest quotes from Sir Alex Ferguson's pre-match press conference are as follows:

"His agent has intimated he won't sign a contract and he wants away. It's a shock.... (I'm) terribly disappointed by news because we can't understand it... There's an offer, if he's prepared to discuss. I know David Gill prepared to offer contract difficult to better elsewhere." Ferguson went on to add "I've never had an argument with Wayne at any time - he did have an injury and he confirmed it himself in interview with Sky. I feel we have to keep door open, simply because such a good player, and we've done nothing but help him in private life. We're bemused because we can't understand why he would want to leave a club this successful. We don't understand it"

Quotes, as live, streamed on twitter, which can be found here.

With this in mind; it seems Rooney has his sights set on another destination. its also apparent that the door is open for Rooney to change his mind, he will not be covering himself in glory at this current time, and Man Utd will undoubtedly be forced to sell him.

If he does sell Rooney, he will join the long list of World Class players, who left the club in unceremonious circumstances. Jaap Stam was arguably the first, who was sold to Lazio in 2001 after making allegations about Ferguson in 2001.

Next was David Beckham, who had fallen out of favour with Ferguson after an infamous spat at full time during a post match meeting after an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.

The next three players to be cast aside by Ferguson were; Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who was one of the deadliest finishers in football, fell out of favour and after finding himself on the bench for a large part of the 2006 season, he left for Real Madrid.

Carlos Tevez, who is one of the World's top forwards, in 2009 left for Man City, after his loan deal with United had ended, and he felt he had been offered an inadequate contract. He also felt he was unfairly treated, and that his form warranted a start in the side, ahead of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. who had been given the limelight ahead of the Argentinean.

The final player to leave, was Crisitano Ronaldo. A player who undoubted was the best to perform under Sir Alex, as in his time at Manchester United, he earnt the World Player of the Year accolade. After six years at the club, winning three Premier League titles, a Champions League, an FA Cup, two League Cups, a Community Shield and FIFA World Club Cup respectively. As well as a shed load of individual awards, he subsequently left for a world record fee of £80million, joining Real Madrid.

With this somewhat shocking news, what are your opinions on this situation? Who do you think Man United should get to replace the Englishman? Leave a comment below, or head to Facebook for more.

Real Talk Football

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Most Promising Footballers in the World - No.5

The next Drogba? Adebayor? Kanu? You decide...

Lacina Traore

Club: CFR Cluj
Age: 20
Position: Striker
Claim to fame: one of the most promising strikers on the continent

One of my personal favourites and definitely a player destined for one of the top European leagues in the future. The 20 year old, born in Ivory Coast’s capital Abidjan, is one of the most distinctive players on a football pitch as he stands at a mammoth 6ft 8in tall.

He started his career with Ivory Coast’s ASEC Mimosas, and is a product of thier famous youth system; which bred the likes of Salomon Kalou, Gervinho, Emmanuel Eboue, Yaya and Kolo Toure. In 2008, he moved to Romanian champions CFR Cluj from Stade d’Abidjan, playing 32 games in two seasons, on route to picking up a Liga 1 Romanian title, as well as a Romanian Cup.

He is yet to make his debut for his national side, but is expected to gain a call up in the near future. Traore, who has been touted as the “new Adebayor” has been heavily linked with a move to the Premiership, possible suitors including Arsenal, while Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has also shown an interest in the youngster.

Traore’s key attributes include his aerial ability (of course), however he is far from one dimensional, blessed with attacking flair, great technique, brute power, and a rocket of a left foot.

Definitely a name for the future, he has impressed in the Champions League and Europa League, he will certainly join a big club soon.

Most Promising Footballers in the World - No.4

The long list of German talents doesn't stop. This years World Cup was all about a certain Mesut Oezil, while the next tournament may belong to this gifted individual...

Toni Kroos

Club: FC Bayern Munich
Age: 20
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Claim to fame: Made his Bayern Munich aged just 17. Member of 2010 German World Cup team

Prospects:As stated, he made his Bayern Munich full team debut aged just 17, and is one of the most promising members of the latest batch of German stars. He has received plaudits from German heroes past and present, including record goalscorer Miroslav Klose and goalkeeping legend Oliver Kahn.

He is a technically gifted player, with an eye for goal, attacking flair, great shooting technique, creativity and determination. The list of attributes and skills this player has is endless, and he is on the right path to becoming a World Class midfielder.

He made his German national team debut in March 2010, and played in every round of this year’s World Cup campaign, mainly as a substitute. But with the array of talented individuals coming through, he is expected to be a focal point for the national team at the 2012 and 2014 international tournaments.

Most Promising Footballers in the World - No.3

Next up on our list, another promising defender from the Chelsea youth set up, supporting Carlo Ancelotti's theory that the current Chelsea squad do not need strengthening externally...

Patrick van Aanholt

Age: 20
Position: Left Back, Centre Back
Claim to fame: Made his Chelsea first team debut aged just 19

Having already established himself as a key member of the Chelsea youth team since joining from PSV Eindhoven in 2007. After loan spells in the Championship with Coventry City and Newcastle United, the 20 year old caught the eye of coach Carlo Ancelotti, making his first team debut towards the end of last season, against Aston Villa.

Van Aanholt’s versatility, being capable at playing both left back and centre back, is one of his greatest assets, along with his passing and tough tackling. He has been capped at Netherlands under 21 level, and looks a sure thing for the future.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Most Promising Footballers in the World - No.2

Next up on our list, is another promising goalkeeper in a long line of Spanish number ones...

David De Gea

Club: Athletico Madrid
Age: 19 – 7/11/1990
Position: Goalkeeper
Claim to fame: Club debut at 18, Europa League and Super Cup winner

There are not too many young goalkeepers in the World with as much promise and potential as this 19 year old. He already made his debut aged just 18, and has since been a mainstay between the sticks for Athletico’s successful Europa League campaign, while his budding early career echo’s similarities to that of Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

He has been linked as a long term replacement for the outgoing Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar, but a move abroad seems a little premature at this moment in time. With the abundance of quality Spanish goalkeepers, it would seem he is already showing the credentials to become the international number one very soon.

Most Promising Footballers in the World - No.1

Earlier this year Real Talk Football highlighted 5 of the most promising young footballers in the world. Now, we bring you part two; bringing 7 of the most promising players to watch out for in the 2010/11 season and beyond.

To start with, and in no particular order; Arsenal's local lad...

Jack Wilshere

Club: Arsenal
Age: 18
Position: Attacking Midfield/Centre Midfield
Claim to fame: Capped at England senior level aged just 18

One of the most promising English players for some time, a left footed tenacious central midfielder, who can operate both out wide as well as in an attacking role. He has already played 25 times for Arsenal, scoring 1 goal for the club, and destined for great things under the tutorledge of boss Arsen Wenger. He impressed last season on loan at Bolton, while many suitors wished to take the 18 year old on loan this season. However due injuries in the Gunners midfield, he has established himself as an Arsenal regular this season, as well as making his international debut for England against Hungary in August.

Check out the video below, for more:

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Rafael Benitez: A Missed Man at Anfield?

With Liverpool’s problems this season evidently clear for all to see, struggles in both the domestically and in Europe, their struggles and poor form were compounded by a 2-1 defeat to newly promoted Blackpool.

Manager Roy Hodgson is now under intense scrutiny in order to turn around the fortunes of one of the most prestigious clubs in football history, before his position becomes untenable.

Some are suggesting that whispers of doubt regarding his appointment in the first place, such as the 63 year old being “not a big enough name for Liverpool”, or he has “made too big of a step up” moving from the very well supported and impressive mid table main-stayers Fulham, to a club with an even bigger fan base, bigger budgets and subsequently bigger expectations; such as Liverpool, are beginning to creep up on him.

We all know that it takes time for a manager to settle into a club, bringing in the players he feels appropriate, and removing the dead wood, when at a “big name” club, the time span is significantly shorter.

Now, already, just seven games into the Premiership season, and despite concerns at injuries the sides key players; captain Steven Gerrard and star striker Fernando Torres, combined with disruptive and disgruntled owners; George Gillett and Tom Hicks still at the helm (guiding the club into more and more dept) all have equalled to underperformances on the pitch, and whispers are arising from some fans that maybe letting former boss Rafa Benitez go was a slightly hasty decision.

Although I fully believe that sometimes the best way for things, situations and people to progress or evolve, is to start afresh. This is what the Liverpool fans got once the man who had delivered an impressive array of successes during his tenure, cut short his 5 year contract (due to finish in 2014) and walk away from Anfield.

The man who had been aptly named the stereotypical “Spanish waiter” was a sort of love/hate figure at Liverpool, while a vast amount of his decisions baffled and infuriated many critics, pundits and fans alike, he undoubted managerial skill help guide Liverpool to some memorable moments during his time, etching his name in Liverpool folk law.

Benitez has a very vast and impressive managerial career, which started in his mid twenties after a short semi professional career playing in lowly Spanish football divisions. He learnt the managerial ropes with the prominent Real Madrid youth set up for around nine years before heading off into solo management taking over at Real Valladolid from 95’ to 96’, and Osasuna the following year. Both these spells were turbulent to say the least, with Benitez being sacked from both clubs. He subsequently managed second division side Extremadura for two years, gaining promotion and then relegation, before taking a year out from managing to fulfil personal aims and objectives.

This hiatus didn’t last as he was sworn back into management with Tenerife, and gaining them promotion into La Liga. This success didn’t go unnoticed as Rafa finally had the chance to highlight his true managerial ability, by managing one of the Europe’s most promising sides: Valencia. This would be a make or break opportunity for Benitez at the highest level.

Benitez grabbed at this opportunity with both hands, and after his first full season in charge, he truly showcased his excellence winning the La Liga title with Valencia, and securing Champions League football. In his second season at Valencia, his side struggled to reach the heights achieved in previous season, finishing 5th in the league. Undeterred Benitez squad, boasting the likes of Ruben Baraja, Rufete, Mista, Carlos Marchena and Roberto Ayala, helped finish his third and final season with Valencia by winning a superb double; collecting the La Liga title for a second time during his reign and a UEFA Cup trophy to boot.

With this success, a fall out occurred between Benitez and the clubs directors (something which would crop up again in the future) lead to Benitez leaving sunny Spain and accepting the advances of Liverpool and head off to England.

His reign at Liverpool was a continuation of the previous successes of former manager Gerrard Houllier, as he helped Liverpool finish runners-up in the FA Cup, losing 3-2 to Chelsea.

But most impressively was winning the Champions League in his very 1st season in charge, thanks due that wondergoal from captain Steven Gerrard in the group stages against Olympiakos, unbelievable team spirit and bravery shown throughout the competition beating Bayer Leverkusan, Juventus and that which helped them overcome Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in a thrilling 1-0 win in the semi-finals to book a meeting with AC Milan in Istanbul.

Before the game, it was evidently clear that this would be the biggest match of Benitez’s career, with Liverpool aiming for a fifth European trophy, and AC Milan aiming for a seventh.

AC Milan bragged a team with talented world class individuals including Paolo Maldini, Kaka, Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo, Hernan Crespo and Filippo Inzaghi making them clear favourites. Benitez’s side knew their great team work and composure which saw them reach the final needed to be called upon in order to upset the odds.

The odds were shortened however during the half time interval, after goals from Maldini, and a brace from Hernan Crespo gave Milan a comfortable 3-0 lead and left Liverpool reeling.

At half time, Benitez who had already substituted attacking midfielder Harry Kewell for Vladimir Smicer, abandoned his 4-4-1-1 formation, and opted for a 3-4-2-1 formation in order to salvage anything from the match. This was ever seen as the act of a man who had nothing left to lose, or a stroke of tactical genius.

With Hamann and Xabi Alonso anchoring the midfield, and allow Smicer, Gerrard, Luis Garcia and Riise to offer attacking options. Within 15 minutes of the second half, goals from Gerrard, Smicer and Alonso saw Liverpool complete an unbelievable comeback making it 3-3.

The match continued unto the 120th minute of extra time, although both sides had chances to win, the only way to settle the tie once and for all, would be through penalty kicks.

Hamann, Cisse, and Smicer all scored for Liverpool, while Serginho, Pirlo and Shevchenko all missed for Milan leading to a 3-2 penalty victory, while the rest as they say; is history. This was to be Liverpool and Benitez’s swansong.

After this magical night, it would be believed Liverpool would be able to finally challenge domestically, however this wasn’t to be as they finished 3rd in the league, but managed to still collect the FA Cup trophy.

In the 06/07 season, Liverpool still struggled domestically again, an ongoing saga in Liverpool’s Premier league history. It was not all doom and gloom though, as Benitez amazingly helped his side return to the summit of European football, the Champions League final, but lost to a Kaka inspired AC Milan, as they extracted their revenge winning 2-1.

Domestically, Benitez proved his grit and belief that Liverpool were finally capable of competing for the Premier League, by guiding his side to the top of the table through large portions of the 08/09 season, unfortunately missing out on the title finishing 4 points behind Manchester United and 2nd in the Premiership with a club record 85 points.

The highlight of the campaign being a memorable 4-1 victory over rivals, and eventual champions; Manchester United at Old Trafford, and it was believed that the following season, they would make that step up and finally achieve the dream of finally collecting a Premiership title.

This however would not be the case, as after the strained relationship between the owners and Benitez came to a head, while the apparent lack of funds being made available to him, along with the sale of key player Xabi Alonso, saw the 09/10 season Liverpool get the headlines for all the wrong reason and seemingly ended up being a consolatory season, culminated in the club finishing a lowly 7th place in the league, and failing to qualify for the Champions League.

With relationship with the fans at breaking point due to the numerous transfers made by Benitez over the last 6 years, the sale of big name players, a believed £229,600,000 spent on transfers, strange odd substitutions and tactic decisions, a rocky relationship with fellow managers, and being beaten semi-finalists in the Europa League, losing to eventual winners Athletico Madrid, when Liverpool were consider favourites, ultimately saw Benitez’s reign come to an end.

With this history behind him, Benitez some would suggest made a step up club wise; taking over at current European champions Inter Milan. While the current LMA Manager of the year was selected, and at the time seemed the most reasonable choice, to take over the red side of Merseyside.

His slow start echo’s similarities to that of Rafael Benitez’s first year in charge, as even the Spaniard also had somewhat of a rocky start exiting early in the FA Cup, while current boss Hodgson’s side exited early in this seasons League Cup; losing 4-2 on penalties to league two side Northampton.

Then it was 1-0 loss to lower league opponents Burnley, thanks to a calamitous Djimi Traore own goal. Less than nine months later however though, both Traore and Benitez collected a Champions League winner’s medal.

Given the time, Hodgson could go one step further than he did with Fulham last year and lead Liverpool to European success in the continents second biggest trophy; which would be the shining light at the end of what looks like an otherwise dark season ahead.

I believe that although the unappreciated and somewhat misconstrued Spaniard may seem to be missed on Anfield, these opinions are being raised merely out of frustrations. Also the chants for former manager and Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish to take over the reins again are also premature.

For me; Hodgson needs time for the current squad to get use to the training methods, as well as his tactics, simply because they have been playing under the same type of management, and the same way for the past 6 years. This is what the fans on Merseyside are used to.

Understandably with the frustrations evident, and with Hodgson himself admitting that the club are now in a “relegation battle”, I wouldn’t go as far as saying I can agree or even envisage that, because I believe that Liverpool will overcome this rocky start and be able to mount a push for a top six finish.

The Anfield faithful are some of the best supporters in Europe, but they must practice the virtue of patience, and fully get behind their manager and the players, as their frustrations do lie with the board, they must continue to direct these frustrations towards the owners, rather than make Roy Hodgson the scapegoat.