The Ins and Outs

Arsenal –
 
In – Tomas Rosicky (Borussia Dortmund), Julio Baptista (!)(Real Madrid) ,William Gallas (Chelski)
 
Out – Jose Antonio Reyes (Real Mad), Robert Pires (Villareal CF), Pascal Cygan (Villareal CF), Dennis Bergkamp (retired), Cashley Cole (Rossiya Krazniy Oktyabyarskaya Kommunara) (Chelski).
 
Finally some affirmative steps taken to remedy Arsenal’s shoddy backline, their insistence on taking the perfect shot on goal and someways towards a stronger midfield where cuntful and talentless teams like Bolton and Everton won’t have the upper edge. Or will they?
 
For, Jose Reyes; his long, somewhat gruelling and irritating two-minds have come to an end with his ‘dream move’ to Real Madrid. Be careful what you wish for. I offer this; if at Arsenal, his indecisiveness and brittleness of his mentality has been laid bare, I don’t expect the regimental and martial Fabio Capello to stand for such wimpy stances at anytime he’s calling the shots at the pressure-cooker seat in all managerial football of the Santiago Bernabeu. I didn’t fault Reyes for want of trying. There were some obvious ‘lost-cause’ passes and opposition clearances which he wasn’t supposed to chase down, but he did anyway;earning applauses for dogged determination. What I was saying is this; his frequent courting of Real Madrid and for that matter; any Spanish clubs (like Atletico Madrid) who bother to listen to him are simply a case of prostituting his cause. He wanted out badly and like I’ve said before; all those who want out can stay out or ship out. And I grow tired of nagging episodes which seemed to have no end.
 
Like the case of Cashley Cole (also Cashley Cunt by Arseblog), he claimed that he was ‘thrown to the sharks’ and was stored in cold freezer by the Arsenal. I don’t have first hand visuals at the club’s going-ons but one thing’s certain in minds of all the Arsenal comrades; he was involved in the tapping-up saga with Chelski based on the Premier League’s investigations and there can be no dispute. For Cashley, the path is clear; he’d no future at Arsenal when his double-dealings was exposed, so he went about complaining his mistreatment to anyone who was lame enough to listen to boost his flagging credibility. Sad way to commiserate a former Arsenal fighter.
 
But I have no illusions that Arsenal did start the season on a rather sedated step. The first two matches presented clear opportunities to bring the points in the Arsenal favour but they played the same tactics, relied on the smart 1-2 passes and hope for some fooled defender to slip on his ass. While I don’t see the EPL becoming anymore competitive nor technically endowed with superlatives, the Arsenal simply can’t afford to play like they did in the ‘doubles’ or the unbeaten season any longer.
 
Here’s why I thought that Baptista should add some much-sought after depth in the squad and thereafter too, some more attacking edge with long shots to boot. I can’t see Gallas making much of an impact, but this defender can score goals at the most inopportune of moments to turn the game in his side’s favour. Probably why Wenger needed to sign him. Rosicky was also a much hailed signing, but he still needed time and the right conditions to flourish. Only time will tell.
 
But, to Pires and Cygan; they have been loyal servants to the Arsenal, with Pires less apparently so since he haggled long and hard with the club over a two-year extension as opposed to a yearly contract. Must have been hell of a difference to some players over the much-benigned age of 30+. To Pascal, bonne chance! There were times when his performances in the red-white kit made my blood boil but there are times when I look back at those and laugh at his well-meaning but poor efforts. And there were those two Fulham goals by him last year. With Bob Pires, it was a great time having this talented Frenchman at the Arsenal and we’d never forget his amazing contributions in the memorable 2001/2002 season as well as the 2003/2004 ‘Invincibles’ season. 
 
 

 
Valencia CF –
 
Ins – Fernando Morientes (Liverpool FC), Asier del Horno (Chelski) , Joaquin (Real Betis Balompie)
 
Out – Marco di Vaio (Monaco), Fabio Aurelio (Liverpool FC), Bernardo Corradi (Manchester City FC), Francisco Rufete (RCD Espanyol), Mista (Atletico Madrid), Patrick Kluivert (PSV Eindhoven), Stefano Fiore (loan Torino FC), Pablo Aimar (!!!) (Real Saragossa)
 
Some smartass ‘football pundit’ claimed that Valencia CF will win the La Liga this year. Fat chance. A quick glance at the list above can sketch a few details of the problems the Valencia club will have in the latter stages of the tournament.
 
First, losing two core Valencia players who form the backbone of Rafa Benitez championship winning teams in Rufete and Pablo Aimar is crazy. What the hell is Quique Sanchez Flores shitting at? While Rufete was not at his prime years at all, his crossing is still bar none in the La Liga whereas the unpredictable Pablo Aimar is, while quite overhyped, is an excellent playmaker despite his small frame of 169 or so centimetres. Boy, am I relieved that Vicente Rodriguez wasn’t sold, or it’ll spell the ultimate demise of the Valencia CF.
 
And Mista! Why on earth can Quique sell Mista! While I’m not blind to the fact that little of audiences outside of Spain can readily identify these players, these are the very ones; with little ego to go with their football which comes with fame and recognition and can play their own football and deliver the goods when it matters most. And they have talent to go with it. Just underrated, but no less spectacular.
 
And only think; that Quique signed 3 players when he let go even the talented Fabio Aurelio to Liverpool. Fast, elusive and a good eye for the freekicks. The loss of these 4 key players at Valencia will surely come to light.
 
Still, Valencia signed Liverpool-discard Fernando Morientes and then superstar Joaquin from Seville-based Real Betis Balompie. Delicious prospect it may be, but the depth of the squad is thin. I’m not going to say that Asier del Horno would impress much, with the left-back spot open to Emiliano Moretti and him. Valencia, again should only hope for a 3rd placed finish at best. The likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona who strengthened their squads with the likes of Gianluca Zambrotta, Lilian Thuram and also van Nistelrooy and Mahamadou Diarra with virtually their core first-team intact. Well, at least Valencia did retain their midfield pairing of David Albelda and Ruben Baraja. And some key members in the form of Miguel Angulo and Vicente. That’s all the Valencians need!
 

 
Paris Saint-Germain
 
– In – Pierre Alain Frau (Olympique Lyonnais), Mickael Landreau (FC Nantes Atlantique)
 
-Out – Modeste M’bami (Olympique Marseille)
 
 
Poor PSG has fallen on decidedly uncertain (not yet troubled) times. With the French Ligue 1 losing much of its distinctive brand of technical football not akin to the La Liga counterparts but certainly more entertaining than that of the dour Bundesliga; much of the talent of the Ligue 1 has seemed to gone northwards across the channel to play for the lucrative English Premier League. On paper, they have signed an doubtful striker in the form of Alain-Frau who did impress during his time at Sochaux-Montbeliard, but had only flashes of brilliance during his tenure at Lyonnais. While I rate him poorly, there is no cause as to why le PSG shouldn’t be challenging for honours this season, despite having little or no impact in the ‘Les Bleus’ national setup.
 
They did sign a long underrated goal-keeper in Mickael Landreau who earned his spurs at FC Nantes but a good goalkeeper does not a good team make.
 
What PSG still failed to solve is their slow flank attacks, with Jerome Rothen putting in indifferent displays at left and constantly threatening to quit if no silverware is in the PSG trophy cabinet. This dissidents are bad for morale, but can PSG make do without these former titans?
 
Justifiably, no. Pedro Pauleta is a shadow of his former self with only a goal to show at the World Cup 2006 against little blowfishes Angola. The weight of which PSG has placed on this captain is immense, and Pierre Alain Frau may not be the right candidate to alleviate it. Youth talents like Fabrice Pancrate, Cristian Rodriguez and Amara Diane need a lot more than a few seasons to break-in to the game whereas ageing perennials like Vikash Dhorasoo; while still able to string together some comfortable form, do not have the lasting ability to weather a long season. When coupled with unpredictable brilliance in the guise of Bonaventure Kalou and to an extent, Mario Yepes and Bernard Mendy, there are tangible signs of cracks over ‘Le Tour Eiffel’ in the proud club emblem. But, I’ll support ‘Le PSG’ and hope their season signifies at least a return to the Champions League places in the future for keeps.
 
 

 

PSV Eindhoven-
 
In – Carlos Salcido (Chivas Guadalajara), Oscar Moens (Willem II Tilburg), Manuel da Costa (AS Nancy-Lorraine) , Edison Mendez (LDU Quito), Jan Kromkamp (Liverpool FC), Diego Tardelli (Sao Paulo FC), Patrick Kluivert (Valencia CF)
 
Out – Andre Ooijer (Burnblack), Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (Celtic FC), Mika Varynen (loan to Celta de Vigo), Robert Pinho (Real Betis Balompie), DaMarcus Beasley (Manchester City FC), Theo Lucius (Feyenoord Rotterdam)
 
 
The so-called ‘happy family club’ of the Netherlands are also called ‘Boeren’ or farmers in Dutch mainly because of their uncanny ability to make their customers laugh all the way to the negotiation table with their potential transfer targets in return for a paltry sum of which the customers thought have struck gold. This, is PSV Eindhoven.
 
I’ll relate a short history of why PSV is one of the best clubs ever to grace the football world and also one of the highest rate in terms of ‘passengers’.
 
Since I don’t intend to go all the way back to the 1988 day when PSV won the European Champions Cup (yay?) , I’ll have something closer at hand to explain. 1998 World Cup, it is then.
 
You recall of the time when Philip Cocu, Arthur Numan, Wim Jonk, Jaap Stam, Boudewijn Zenden and Andre Ooijer used to be at PSV before the World Cup 1998 in France. Then when the Dutch team took an impressive fourth place at the tournament, playing the football I identify best, all of the above names except Andre Ooijer jumped ship to pastures new; Cocu  to FC Barcelona; Numan to Glasgow Rangers; Jonk to Sheffield Wednesday; and Zenden followed Cocu’s steps of career choice. This is the start of the trend.
 
The after the Euro 2000 in Dutch/Belgian soil, the radars of the rich clubs started to hover around Eindhoven. Ruud van Nistelrooy was captured in 2001 after his cruciate ligament injury back in 2000 was given the all-clear. But it mattered not, as there was another free-scoring devil in the form of Mateja Kezman. How PSV’s scouts can find these goal-scorers can also put Arsene Wenger’s talent search to the test but ultimately, PSV has developed their own image as a feeder clubs to others. Imagine if Romario, or Ronaldo not being scoured by PSV’s talent search team and brought to the Philips Stadion; would they be plying their trade in the shantytowns of Sao Paulo or the smog-filled cities of Argentina. I thought so.
 
But the worst insult of recent times came in 2004/2005. PSV reached the European Champions League semi-final, only to be denied by AC Milan. The second leg at Eindhoven was there to be won after Milan had won at the San Siro. All PSV had to do was defend. The Massimo Ambrosini struck and PSV were left chasing a fleeting dream. Cocu’s late goal gave some hope, but PSV weren’t supposed to allow AC Milan to score in that crucial game.
 
And the suitors come calling the PSV offices when the transfer window was opened in July 2005. Their targets were the stars of the PSV run to the CLeague semifinals – Mark van Bommel, Johann Vogel, Park Ji-Sung, Lee Young-Pyo, Wilfred Bouma and (hopefully) Andre Ooijer and Vennegoor of Hesselink who was starting to gain recognition in the KNVB setup.
 
Guus Hiddink, depleted of talented manpower for 2005/2006 only managed to lead PSV to the 2nd round of the CLeague. That was written all over PSV when they lost so many match-winners in just a season.
 
Hiddink left PSV after 2005/2006 and Ronald Koeman the Cowman came back to Holland after a stint with Benfica of Portugal. Thankfully, he wasn’t to thrift in the transfer market, when he signed Carlos Salcido straight after the Mexican’s impressive World Cup form, and then signed another World Cup star, Edison Mendez. But in a classic case of tit-for-tat, PSV’s biggest losses came when Andre Ooijer joined Burnedblack and then Vennegoor decided that a foreign tenure would do him good. For that, PSV has lost not only two of its most important players (not Philip Cocu, at the young age of 36 this year and certainly not Michael Reiziger) but also two of the players who had international experience in barrel-loads and players who could score goals with ease. Vennegoor is a close comparison to Ruud van Nistelrooy but the former is obviously a late starter. Another severely underrated player, Theo Lucius also decided that warming the bench for more than 7 years was more than enough and packed bags to head to the Randstad to join Feyenoord. PSV were the biggest losers in the Eredivisie this season it seems, and utterly confirmed when they lost tamely to FC Twente last Saturday. Apparently, Feyenoord had a choke of a start as well as did Ajax. DaMarcus Beasley who sat on the bench more often than he liked when Hiddink was in charge also got a loan wish to Manchester City.
 
So PSV was nothing more than a springboard for success, but such is life. Perhaps PSV can yet unearth another talent or two. Lee Nguyen is quoted as being comparable to Arjen Robben whereas the young Diego Tardelli is a nod towards former Italy legend Marco Tardelli. I don’t think the likes of Patrick Kluivert will impress again, given that his Newcastle time and Valencia CF adventure was more depressing to tell. Jan Kromkamp is an okay player, but nothing special. How Finnan stuck to his position and made Kromkamp seemed a stranger in Liverpool is indicative of the value the Dutch new recruit can wield in the fortunes of PSV. He was supposed to replace Andre Ooijer and time can only tell if he can succeed.
 
 

 
Bayer Leverkusen-
 
– In – Sergey Barbarez (Hamburg SV), Karim Haggui (Racing Strasbourg), Stefan Kiessling (FC Nuremberg), Alexander Meyer (MSV Duisburg)
 
– Out – Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham Court Road), Clemens Fritz (Werder Bremen), Jacek Krzynowek (Vfl Wolfsburg), Jens Nowotny (Dinamo Zagreb)
 
Like PSV, Bayer Leverkusen had the inelusive act of supplying the rich clubs with talent that they cannot logically provide for their own. And like PSV, Bayer has lost its key marksman Dimitar Berbatov to another club sedated in the upper echelons of club football.
 
With the loss of long-serving player, Jens Nowotny and Polish winger Krzynowek, Bayer would appear to have a season-long struggle with the inevitable; mid-table obscurity, neither impressive, nor as exciting as fighting for their top-flight status. Bayer did flirted with relegation for the past seasons after they lost a large chunk of players in the mold of Michael Ballack, Ze Roberto, Thomas Brdaric, Oliver Neuville and Ulf Kirsten.
 
Fortunately, there are Bundesliga matches to behold on local sat-TV, so I got second-hand look at how Bayer fared this time, and surprisingly, their new team; while shaky at defence, proved a fight against one of the Bundesliga new giants, Werder Bremen in a good 2-1 win at the Weserstadion in Bremen. As of this writing, Bayer is anchored at 8th spot of the Bundesliga with only 3 points of the top of the table FC Nurnberg.
 
An ageing Barbarez may not be good up front, but his experience in the Bundesliga is priceless whereas an untried Haggui and Meyer will prove telling when the latter demanding stages come calling. Of all the clubs before this, I tip Bayer to fare the worst off this season, with their end of the season the same as of this writing.
  
   

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