Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Hammers under the hammer in sale of the century

Roll up, roll up, everything must go, etc. It's the sale of the century and you're all invited to take home a West Ham player of your very own.

I've not held back before in saying that Messrs Gold and Sullivan, owners of West Ham United football club, should keep their noses out of the direct running of the team, including transfers and contracts, and concentrate on keeping the club solvent and wearing purple velvet suits (they really, really do).

I won't hold back now either: they still need to shut up. The Cockney double act's most recent announcement is that, despite surviving the drop and the exodus of players that naturally follows, they will still readily sell any player except midfield talisman Scott Parker.

And the same debt-ridden club has bid £4m for Graham Dorrans of newly-promoted West Brom. O...K.

That's Gold; where's Sullivan?

I could go on again about their clumsy announcements, or the folly in keeping Scott Parker but allowing three England internationals to go, but what I find more interesting here is which clubs could benefit from this West Ham summer sale. My surmisings follow.

Clearly these are not all very likely, and I'd be very surprised if a dozen players leave Upton Park anyway, but certainly some big Premier League names should think about dusting down their chequebooks.

---

ROBERT GREEN TO ARSENAL

Perfect opportunity for Wenger, this. If the Gunners are as cash-strapped as their fans repeatedly profess them to be, they'll need to think small for that much-needed 'keeper (oh, come on, you know Almunia and Fabianski are utter balls).

Green would be a superb signing. Always involved in England's pass-the-parcel approach to the no1 jersey, the 30-year-old has an excellent pair of hands, a decent Premier League pedigree and is more reliable than most England 'keepers (*cough* JamesRobinsonCarson *cough*).

There's longevity to be had too: he may be into his fourth decade now, but 'keepers hang around forever so another shotstopper wouldn't be required for some time.

(Annoyingly, the Metro has now noted this potential move, but I thought of it first, damn it.)

Alternatively: FULHAM. Mark Schwarzer is a top, top 'keeper but he's 37 now and his understudy, Pascal Zuberbuhler, is 39. The Cottagers would love someone a little more, uh, evergreen (sorry).

---

CARLTON COLE TO LIVERPOOL

Bear with me here.

I know what you're thinking: "Really, that carthorse to a Big Four (snigger) club? What are you smoking, where can I get it and does it come with its own 'Amsterdam or Bust' lighter?"

But let's not forget that Carlton Cole, while not the most fashionable of footballers, is a top-quality striker and not far from Fabio Capello's thoughts. I'm a big fan of the ex-Chelsea man, and God knows Liverpool could do with him in their squad.

First up, he's a strong lad who holds the ball up well - the perfect support for Fernando 'Why am I still here?' Torres.

Secondly, even at 26 he has the top-flight experience to counter many of the Reds' younger players' collective lack of nouse.

Thirdly, he can score goals. Without Torres and Gerrard, Liverpool don't find the net easy to...well, find.

Fourthly, he'd be available for under £10 mill, and when you bear in mind Liverpool are apparently without much in the way of transfer funds (something I attribute to spending £35m on Johnson and Aquilani), he'd be a bargain buy.

Lastly, and most importantly, he's better than David bloomin' Ngog.

Alternatively: ASTON VILLA. Because Cole does the same thing Heskey does but he's capable of scoring goals - and Villa's tally this season is some 18 lower than Top Four rivals Manchester City.

---

DANNY GABBIDON TO WIGAN

There's no two ways about it: Wigan need to perform better next season or they're getting relegated.

Magical victories over Chelsea, Liverpool and most recently a self-destructing Arsenal can't, and doesn't, take the edge off the fact that the Latics have been poor.

And the first thing to look at there is their defence. Losing 9-1 to Spurs, 4-0 to relegation battlers Portsmouth and Bolton (not to mention 4-1 to Championship side Blackpool in the Carling Cup) and 5-0 to Manchester United TWICE happens for a reason.

Gabbidon might not be of the same calibre of Matthew Upson, at least in terms of media coverage, but he is a sound defender and would be available on the cheap.

Alternatively: BOLTON (see below).

---

MATTHEW UPSON TO BOLTON

Shit team, shit defence. Many will say Upson could go to a bigger club - Arsenal are rumoured - but having survived this season, Owen Coyle will be looking to take Bolton to mid-table next season. An Upson-Cahill centre-back pairing would be a great foundation - all they'd need then is, y'know, a striker.

Also, whisper it quietly, but I don't think Matthew Upson is very good. A bigger club could do much better.

Alternatively: ARSENAL, apparently. Wouldn't mind playing against a team with Sol Campbell and Upson as centre-backs.

---

JULIEN FAUBERT TO WOLVES

Faubert has been good this year, and as a former Real Madrid player (seriously, how did that happen?) he'll be ambitious at staying in the Premier League.

Wolves are currently playing Ronald Zubar at right-back.

That is all.

---

JONATHAN SPECTOR TO NOTTINGHAM FOREST

Moving into the newcomers, Forest are favourites to win the Championship play-offs and if they do so, they'll want to add to that infamously small squad. Spector, who can play in any position across the back line and in midfield (he used to play up front too) would add useful versatility.

So would Kieran Dyer, but...well...

---

BENNI McCARTHY TO SWANSEA

Oh, shut up. It's not inconceivable that Swansea could be in the Premiership next year, and given that their scoring rate - 40 goals in 45 games - is akin to that of a dying leper in a disco, they'd love a striker with some top-flight experience. McCarthy could give them just that for a season or two.

---

LUIS BOA MORTE TO NEWCASTLE

Slightly clutching at straws now.

---

MIDO TO MANCHESTER UNITED

OK, I give up.

Read More...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Supergrass Not Superbad

I was gutted to hear yesterday that erstwhile Britpop survivors (until now) Supergrass have decided to call it a day after 17 years. Busy as I was, it almost consumed my day - I listened to I Should Coco on the walk home from work and remembered how good a debut it was, and would have written this blog last night except I was PLUG a bit PLUG busy writing PLUG this one first.

There's not really much for me to say, either, except that their departure from the scene is a great shame. It's true their star faded a while back - most people I've spoken to thought they'd split years ago - but they kept making good music that was, above all, great fun. Even their deliberately downbeat Road To Rouen had a wonderful sense of mischief about it. Indeed, though they released a considerably happier album a few years later, Road To Rouen was really their finale. It even ended with a song called Fin.

But it was good to know they were still around. And now they're not. All we can do is listen to their lasting classic, In It For The Money - surely the best name for a follow-up album ever, not to mention its opening song and chorus - and remember the good times.


I was going to put a Spotify playlist on here for anyone unacquainted with Gaz, Mick and Danny's (what names) particular brand of joyful guitar pop, but my friend's theory that a greatest hits collection is the best introduction works better for Supergrass than it does most bands. Supergrass Is 10 is an ace party album, if nothing else (and even if it does only have tracks from the first four of their six albums).

Supergrass Is 10: The Best of 94-04

Give it a go. And if you've heard it all before, psht - stick it on shuffle and remember the good times. If you don't like it, well, fine. But fewer bands created such a sense of fun as Supergrass, and for me, that's something music needs on occasion.

Anyway, times change and with a fond, lingering memory, we - fine, I - should move on. Ironically, perhaps, Supergrass put it best themselves way back in 1995, when they closed their debut album with these words:

Thanks to everyone for everything you've done
But now it's time to go
You know it's hard
We've had some fun
But now the moment's come
It's time to go

Who could ask for more?
Who could ask for more?

Read More...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Oh, it's a damn shame, it really is

Manchester United 3-2 Bayern Munich (agg 4-4) (Bayern Munich win on away goals)

The first time in four years there haven't been three English teams in the Champions League semi-finals.

The first time in four years there haven't been two English teams in the Champions League semi-finals.

The first time in seven years an English team hasn't been in a Champions League semi-final.

Well, at least people will stop talking about how, Barcelona aside, English teams put their European rivals to shame.

As for Ferguson after the game, I could rant about how disgraceful a human being he is, but instead I'll just remind how Manchester United are the worst culprits for crowding around a referee to get a man sent off and when Bayern Munich do it, his response is "Typical Germans."

The man's an arse.

Read More...