Archive for June, 2008

30
Jun
08

“Finally, football has the success he deserves.”

Fabregas Spain Euro

Congratulations to Spain and Cesc Fabregas for proving to the world that beautiful football can win trophies.  I only caught the first few minutes (enough to see Torres’ goal) and so I can’t comment on the match but I will say that I hope this trophy heralds a new age of football.  One in which passing, movement, fitness, and technique are more important than lumping and crunching and defending.  I honestly thought Germany would beat the Spaniards, they seemed to have it all; giantness, organizational..ness, and divingness.  But all credit to Spain who just simply outplayed them.

Afterwords, Cesc hailed the win as a victory for football and the sweetest of his career.

It was a long time since we have seen a team of that quality trying to play beautiful football – I dont think we’ve seen many teams have success (playing that way).  This the best day of my life as a football player.

On the other side of the field Old Sour Grapes had a go at the Ref, Torres, George W. Bush, and the boot boy.  You leave the boot boy alone you big German meanie!

In transfer news, Arsenal have been targeted by some dude named Amaury Bischoff: he claims that a deal is imminent and that he’s in London getting a physical.  This guy is a complete unknown because he basically played in the Werder Bremen reserves (when he wasn’t in the sick room) last season.  He’s also young and a central midfielder: which makes him the perfect Wenger signing.  Wenger will probably transform him into a keeper and sell him on for £100m in 2 years.

Seriously, though, if you want to know anything about the kid, you’ll have to rely on reports from die hard supporters like the blogger at Young Guns who interviews another blogger from Germany who has seen Amaury actually play… a little.

Tired of the Adebayor story yet?  Well, I AM NOT.  I WANT 24/7 ADEBAYOR COVERAGE.  What did he eat?  What’s the composition of his stool?  Will he go to Chelsea? How’s his mom handling all the pressure?  Will Obafemi Martins tell Newcastle that he wants a transfer, thus triggering a £13m buy out clause which would free him up to fulfill Wenger’s reported dreams of bringing the world’s shortest striker to Arsenal?

I NEED TO KNOW…

29
Jun
08

Bye Buy Adebayor

I had a great day yesterday.  I had some friends over, we cooked up a mess of chicken on the grill,  and we sat in the living room with the fan on watching television and trying to escape an oppressive Washington heatwave.  After the morning blog(s) I didn’t turn the computer on all day.  A day of sweet bliss away from the news stories, the football sagas, the constant work emails.  Ahhhh…

So, I woke up this morning, ready to do my preview of the Euro 2008 final and have a bit of a kick around myself, and I found that Emmanuel Adebayor was all over my computer.  Like a case of herpes, I keep putting him down, only to have him pop up again at the most inopportune times.  It’s official: Arsenal have Adebayor Simplex 2 and I think it’s a terminal case.

Yesterday, Adebayor gave yet another interview — this one an exclusive to the second least trustworthy news source on the planet News of the World — in which he contradicted himself and/or his agent for the third time in the span of two days.  Friday: “I’m staying at Arsenal, you will see me in an Arsenal shirt next season, oh yeah, I don’t play football for the money.”  One hour later: “I have to meet with Arsene Wenger and sort a few things out but I love Arsenal and love playing with this group of guys, and there’s more to life than money!” Yesterday: “Did I mention that I’m as good as Thierry Henry and that I deserve to be paid £120,000 a week and oh yeah, I want to go to Barcelona?  Umm, yeah, all that stuff, plus I have to think of my retirement and stuff.  Money money money, I’m worth it!  Money.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to reiterate that I have supported Adebayor in the face of a great deal of fan opposition and so I am biased here.  As I mowed the lawn yesterday I was listening to the the official Arsenal O2 podcast and they reminded me that not only does Ade add the aerial threat to the team that they lacked for so long but the way he makes runs and his ability to hold the ball up for his teammates creates space for the midfielders, like Hleb and Cesc, to work their magic.   There are a lot of fans who think “sell him and we can get David Villa (or Santa Cruz, etc etc.), it doesn’t matter who we have up front!”  Those fans are very wrong.  It does matter, having Adebayor on the team matters.

I also sympathize deeply with a man who came from some of the deepest poverty in Africa.  The temptation of a huge contract in the face of a career that might last 10 years would be overwhelming for even a man raised in wealth and luxury.  It must be even more difficult for a man for who stated that if he hadn’t had a career in football he’d have had a career as a gangster.  £6m a year means that he, his family, and probably all of his extended family will have to want for nothing ever again.  Frankly, giving all of these contradictory interviews has convinced me that he is acting like a man torn by his love for football and Arsenal and a sort of primal desire to never want again.  So, for all the people calling him greedy, walk a mile in the shoes of his childhood: they were dilapidated, the roads were sand, and all around he was surrounded by death and destruction.  Now tell me that you wouldn’t be tempted by an offer from Barcelona?  Liar.

So that we’re clear, I’m biased in favor of Adebayor.  I know that I’ll be accused of pandering to him with the above sympathetic plea so let me get this out of the way:  I like him but I don’t think he’s a Theirry Henry type of player.  He’s damn close, but not quite there.  His stats are spot on (for one season); the number of goals, the goals per shot ratio, etc. all match the greats like Henry and Wright.  The main difference is that players like Henry have the unique ability to put a struggling team on their back and carry them.  Henry did it most famously at the Bernabeau during Arsenal’s Champions League runners up campaign, or that time against Spurs, or… you get the point.  Walcott has already shown sparks of that type of greatness such as with the run against Liverpool this year but Adebayor doesn’t really do that type of thing;  he’s a great role player but we all know that it’s Fabregas who is shaping up to be this “sparkle” player at Arsenal.

Adebayor is no Thierry Henry so why then does he feel like he deserves Henry type money?  The sudden reversal of Friday and Saturday have his agent’s fingerprints all over it.  One day you say that you don’t play football for the money and the next you think you deserve to be paid the same as an Arsenal legend while claiming to have a substantial offer from Barcelona?  That smacks of the player telling us his true feelings and then his agent taking him aside and saying “oh, erm, Ade, Barcelona just called and they say that they want to pay you £100,000 a week, maybe you should soften your statements a bit, whattya think?”

The worst pat of all this is that I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up with nothing at the end of his career like Eric Djemba-Djemba.  His agent, Barcelona, and everyone who stands to gain here are taking advantage of this guy’s weaknesses.  They are playing on his childhood poverty to engineer a move to anywhere that will garner them a fat kickback.  Once you let leeches like this into your life, they will drain you and you won’t even notice it until one day you’re playing football in Qatar for peanuts.

I have a bad feeling that Adebayor’s story will end the same way.

For now, I have to wonder how this is going to play out over the next few days.  Arsenal replied to Adebayor’s Friday conference with a strong stance and Wenger publicly stated:

He (Adebayor) is under contract. That’s quite simple. I’m not worried. I can tell you as manager of Arsenal Football Club I am not worried.

Asked if he needed to meet with the player to clarify Adebayor’s ambitions he said

No. I met him already, on Friday before his press conference

So, he met with him before the conference in which Adebayor promised his future to the club.  Wenger must have been reassured by the player at that meeting, because as we know Wenger doesn’t try to keep players who don’t want to leave.  Arsene also made a bold statement about making bold statements, when he challenged United to stay strong in the Ronaldo case

United have been strong and I give them credit for that, but maybe they know as well that the desire to leave doesn’t really come from the player. It could be from another environment, from a club that’s tapped him up. It is not right and there comes a point where someone has to make a stand

Someone has to take a stand?  Is it going to be Arsenal?  No. The chances of that are pretty much gone as of yesterday, because Arsenal’s Togo International then switched his story and he gave a definitive answer to Arsenal in an interview to News of the World (linked above) in which he dropped the Barcelona bomb.

Barcelona have made a good financial offer and there is also the chance to play alongside great players. Yes, I am still under contract to Arsenal but it’s up to the directors to satisfy my demands or I’ll leave.

And there you have it.  He wants to stay but Arsenal aren’t going to pay him the money that his agent has convinced him he’s worth.  I’m alarmed that he’s publicly admitting that Barcelona have illegally negotiated a contract with a player who Arsenal have repeatedly stated is not for sale.  He’s either tremendously stupid or tremendously confident that what’s happened isn’t illegal.  I’m also saddened that he both lied to Wenger on Friday and that he’s now threatening Arsenal.

Threats, cheating, lying… that’s the fast track to end a career of someone who could have been an Arsenal great.  Instead of being written into the Arsenal history books, if he leaves, he’ll go down as yet another player that left the club on bad terms.  His great goals will fade and people will remember him as just another Anelka, Cole, Campbell, or that other guy who I used to like but he bogged back off to Spain because he didn’t like the weather.  I forget his name.

28
Jun
08

I want to see a Dein, Platini, Blatter knife fight.

I eat babies

With all the press/fan fervor over every word that drops from the lips of Adebayor, Vincenzo Morabito, Wenger, the groundskeeper at the Stadio Olympico, and speculative bloggers, there were a lot of significant developments this week that were swept under the carpet.

First off, Alisher Usmaqnov’s handler, David Dein, reminded everyone that his boss is filthy rich and would like to use that wealth to leverage a buyout of Arsenal in order to use us fans as his personal piggy bank — doling out dividends, piling on debts, etc etc.  What’s the reason why you fans should support such a move?  Because, he claims that Usmanov’s money is the only thing that could save Arsenal from falling out of the top four.

Since that claim has now been leveled for three seasons and has been found wanting for three seasons I think it’s kind of comical for Dein to try that tactic again.  What’s the basis for this claim, is it because Tottenham has spent £27m so far?  hmmm…  Well, given that their defense was one of the worst in the league, and the fact that they are only buying forwards (and crappy ones like Luca Modric at that), then I feel confident that they aren’t going to challenge for 4th place.  So, who next then?  Hmmm… Everton?  Good team, good coach, not quite enough to get there.  Citeh?  That’s funny.  Pompey?  Maybe!  That’s a strong team with a good foundation at every point on the pitch, but they aren’t getting there by spending loads of money, but rather through efficient management.  Which is exactly what’s happening at Arsenal.

Which is exactly why Arsenal don’t need Usmanov.  Thanks for reminding us though, Dave, I think some of us had forgotten.

Meanwhile, a drunken Michel Platini gave some type of interview in which he ranged from the Ronaldo story to debt in the Premier League.  ThOn Ronaldo, he feels like Real Madrid has done nothing wrong {sound of a record screeching to a halt}. These few days after a Platini tirade are always a barrel of laughs so I thought I would sahe some snippets with you.

Speaking about Real Madrid’s very public courting of Ronaldo (including sending their fitness coach to meet with the player) Platini had this to say

It’s part of the system we have today. Players move from club to club and I can understand why Real Madrid want him.

No seriously, that’s what said.  Which means that tapping up season has officially begun, folks: unless it’s an English club tapping up a foreign player, in that case, I’m sure he’ll be against it.

Platini continued his diatribe against England by also claiming that he wants clubs with (“excessive” — i.e “English”) debts to be banned from playing in the Champions League.  Which means only Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea, and Liverpool would be banned because other clubs with debts are well under his radar.  I can’t think of a single move that would destroy modern football and the league structure more than this one proposed by Platini.  If debt’s so bad (which I think it is in some cases) then why not let the Man U’s and Chelsea’s just eat themselves alive?  Why interfere?  Oh yeah, because this is a power trip plain and simple.

I really wish that Platini would just go away.

While the Adebayor story was (is) raging another neat story was glossed over; Walcott was handed the no. 14 shirt. That’s a big shirt to fill, there, son, good luck filling it.  Seriously, I do think that this means we’ll start seeing Walcott feature for the first team a lot more this season.  In fact, as I’ve said before, I believe that Wenger is going to bank the money if he sells Adebayor and start Theo up front with either van Persie or Eduardo (depending on injuries, etc).  This means we’ll see Vela and Bendtner partner in the Carling Cup matches and as backups if and when they are needed.  Of course, that is pure speculation… but why not, it’s silly season.

Speaking of speculation, and my regular readers know I don’t like to do this but what the hell anyway, Klaas Jan Huntelaar’s contract negotiations have suddenly fallen through, leaving the Ajax hitman potentially available to suitors like Arsenal.  I like him a lot.  I think he’s a big fish in a little Dutch pond and a step up to a big league like the EPL could be just what he needs to break out of relative obscurity and onto the world stage.  I would love to see him in an Arsenal strip next season, but realistically this is probably just a ploy by his agent to get him a bigger contract with Ajax.  Plus, Wenger doesn’t like to buy developed talent.   Oh well, a blogger can dream right?

That wasn’t so bad, was it?  I mean, not talking much about Adenayor for a whole blog.  We can do it, folks, we can NOT talk about Adebayor and his money grubbing agent and the jerks in Milan for a whole day, right?

RIGHT???

Sigh… there will be a preview of the Chelsea v. Arsenal match (oh sorry, I mean Germany v. Spain), tomorrow morning.  See you then.

28
Jun
08

Ok, that’s enough

Meathead

Ok, there, you meathead, you had your, ehh, fun there: you’re staying, you’re going, you’re staying, you’re going.  You’re as mixed up as one of them there Gay Republicans.  Chose one there, Adebayor, Arsenal or Milan.  You can’t be both.

(Ed’s note: Today’s guest columnist is the notoriously “politically incorrect” character Archie Bunker from the famous 70s television show “All In the Family.”  7am kickoff in no way condones the idea that gay people can’t be republicans or vice-versa.  Also, 7am kickoff is tired of reporting on Adebayor, because the situation has become, well… retarded. It’s time to move on, until and when something actually happens.  Like an actual signing, or an actual trade, or SOMETHING ANYTHING GOD PLEASE…)

27
Jun
08

Great Caesar’s Ghost!

I realize that I’ve moaned quite a bit about this Euro 2008; how it’s boring, how Arsenal players just get hurt, how much I can’t stand Platini and Blatter and their insane proposals, and how at it’s worst this competition is nothing more than an exercise in nationalism.  But how could an Arsenal supporter see last night’s match and be anything but moved?

The first half started as a droll affair, Spain dominated possession but never really threatened, meanwhile Russiarshevin looked very, very ordinary.  Things had brightened a bit — literally — with the introduction of Cesc for the injured David Villa.  Cesc was easy to pick out of the crowd because, since he came off the bench, his top was dry and thus his jersey was easily twice as bright as everyone else’s muted, wet, tops.  Spain brightened “footballistically” as well with the introduction of the Arsenal youngster: with Xavi, Iniesta, and Fabregas roaming the midfield it seemed like they made every pass and won every challenge.  In fact, I think I remember Arshevin touching the ball maybe once in the whole first half.

Still they didn’t score.

The second half picked up where the first half left off; more Spanish possession, more Russian frustration, still no goals.  And then Cesc took over.  Sure, the first goal came from Xavi’s shot that Iniesta put in, but it was Fabregas who won the ball and put it in to Xavi.  Then on the 73rd minute Cesc had the commentators babbling about how he couldn’t possibly have meant to do that when he chipped the Russian defense and Güiza chested it down and wrong footed the Russian keeper.  Arsenal fans know that Cesc did that on purpose: we’re used to seeing the 21 year old maestro set up his teammates like that.

After the second goal the result was academic but Cesc added another assist to his tally when he crossed in for Silva on the 83rd minute.  It was the perfect cap to the perfect game for Cesc and has all the pundits scrambling to name him in Spain’s starting XI against Germany on Sunday.

It doesn’t seem to matter if he starts or not.  His class will show through.

Another player that I’ve been very impressed with is Spain’s Marcos Senna.  Playing at the holding midfield spot he’s been very solid both defensively and in distribution.  Too bad he’s almost 32 years old, or maybe Arsenal would pick him up.

Arshevin, on the other hand, looked very ordinary under the watchful eye of a steady Spanish defense.  Still, Barcelona is supposedly interested in the 27 year old.  I don’t know, maybe Barcelona are going to take another look at Hleb.

Please?

Anyway, it was a great day for Cesc and I will be rooting for him to both win and come through uninjured.  A trophy here would be a great start to Arsenal’s season.

27
Jun
08

Extra Extra! Read all about it!

For the third time this summer Emmanuel Adebayor has stated unequivocally that he is staying at Arsenal.

I am an Arsenal player and have three years left on my contract.  The most important thing for me is to keep on enjoying my football. I’m staying at Arsenal.

I guess Peter Crouch is going to have to find some place else to be a xenophobe.

Oh yeah, also…

Dear Press People, please stop linking Arsenal to a forward, we all know Arsene is not going to buy more what with half a dozen currently at the club.

26
Jun
08

Now this story has legs

The “super agent” Vincenzo Morabito story is gaining some legs, LITERALLY.  I know, I had reported that he was blabbing about Adebayor but I didn’t have the whole quote:

Milan have already stated their position, while Arsenal have started moving in the market in the hunt for an attacker to replace Adebayor, until that search ends the deal won’t move forward but I am quite optimistic because Arsenal are looking for a player. They’re talking about [Mario] Gomez, [Roque] Santa Cruz, and [Peter] Crouch. I’d say there’s a 70 to 80% chance Adebayor will go to Milan.

Pardon me for a second, but uhh… Peter Crouch?  Peter “I hate foreigners” Crouch? Coming to Arsenal?  The single most “foreign” team in the EPL?  And am I supposed to believe for a second that Arsene Wenger has flexed his tactical genius and out popped “Hey, Peter Crouch is tall, Adebayor is tall, they must be interchangeable!”

Uhhh no.  More likely, Vincenzo Morabito, you are full of shiat.

This is what we in the states call “tampering” plain and simple.  All of these players are under contract with their respective teams and for one player’s agent to start unsettling all these other players with all this talk, no matter how completely and utterly false, should be against the rules, but it’s not. Morabito then continues on with his attempt to unsettle the whole situation:

With all respect to Arsenal, [Adebayor] would be very happy to play for the Rossoneri

With all respect to Morabito, go f*ck yourself.

I want to get really angry here, but I haven’t seen anything from Adebayor himself.  His last comments didn’t indicate that he was looking for a new place to live.  So, I’m left wondering what this is all about?  It could be, if you believe that bastion of journalistic integrity called “The Sun”, that what Adebayor is really after is a 400% pay increase. I like Adebayor, I really do, but the highest paid player at Arsenal?  Break the entire wage structure?  No.

But I have this faint sickening feeling that something here is true, or at least contains a kernel of truth — only because his agent is being so overt about the whole thing.

I think Morabito has successfully persuaded his player that his value has increased greatly.  There’s just been too much talk about Adebayor’s salary over the last few months for this not to be a feature in this story.  On the back of his performances last season, typically, a team would want to extend his contract and reward the player with a raise.  So, there’s no doubt Arsenal are talking with the player over a renewed deal.

I also think Morabito has been persuaded by some type of headhunter’s fee by AC Milan to bring his player to the San Siro.  Milan have made no bones that Adebayor is their sole transfer target and so it would stand to reason that they would contact the player’s Italian agent and try to make a deal to get the player as cheaply as possible.  Buying teams often pay headhunter fees to agents who bring players to them.

And finally, I think Arsenal have recently told AC Milan to “go f*ck yourself” over this transfer.  Seeing the deal (and all the money involved) start to sail away, Milan and Morabito have decided to play hardball here and release a bunch of statements that are designed to upset the situation.

That’s just about the only way I can imagine Morabito arriving at such a bizarre proclamation that Arsenal are looking to replace Adebayor with (no offense) a guy who’s only consistent attributes are that he’s tall and that he hates foreigners.




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