Why Sir Alex Ferguson should sign another Veteran for this season

The talk of Manchester United’s midfield has started to become insipid, unfair criticism of Michael Carrick, whether Phil Jones is a midfielder or defender to the fact Anderson is turning into the new Djemba-Djemba.

The re-signing of Paul Scholes has boosted the squad who had been missing the young Tom Cleverly as a creative spark. As I watched the highlights of United’s 3-0 victory over Bolton Wanderer in which Scholes scored, I wondered just how they’d benefit from another veteran and former United player.

David Beckham had been extremely close to signing with Paris Saint-Germain following his contract with LA Galaxy ending on 31st December. However, talks broke down and new PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti revealed that Beckham rejected the deal because his family wanted to stay in Los Angeles.

I suppose it makes sense, Beckham who turns 37 in May would only be joining PSG on a short term basis, not the logical move for a young family to make. Reports suggest that he’ll sign a new contract with the Galaxy very soon; if he does it is likely a loan move whilst the MLS season is off looks likely.

Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers have been the two named clubs rumoured in signing Beckham but the player himself has said he’d find it extremely hard to play against United for any other Premier League team.

That’s why I can see a loan deal for Beckham a viable option for Sir Alex Ferguson as his United side that hope to retain the Premier League title from the advances of City and Spurs.

Scholes coming out of retirement shocked a few, especially with the sale of Darron Gibson to Everton and the fact Anderson seems to be out of favour, could the team benefit from another veteran?

Whilst Becks may not have the fitness for full on Premier League games, he could play a vital part. Scholes came off for fellow veteran Ryan Giggs against Bolton and similar rotation could be done with Beckham.

No one can argue against the statement that Beckham is one of the best crossers of the football in the World and his delivery and passing could booster United’s midfield for the rest of the season.

The hype and fame that comes with Beckham may be off putting for SAF but as Becks is close to retiring, perhaps a return and bow out to English football would make it all the more worthwhile.

He’s expected to be included in the Great Britain team come the 2012 Olympic Games, he’ll want to be fit for it and the MLS season does not start until March.

We saw fellow ex-Premier League/MLS stars Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane return with Loan deals to Arsenal and Aston Villa. If Becks does re-sign for LA Galaxy again, Fergie should give him a call and see if he can add that extra option to the United midfield with silverware in mind that would end a golden era of players.

I don’t think that’s one move David Beckham could ever turn down.

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January Transfer Window Update….Where are the Big Deals?

We’re almost half way through January the month that sees the transfer window open for European clubs to buy, sell or loan players during the 31 days of the month. However, there appears to be heavy negotiations behind the scenes with managers, players and more correctly agents and chairmen. Where are the big deals?

The likes of Gary Cahill and Carlos Tevez were rumoured to make moves come January but neither deals have taken place with the latest of Tevez’s switch to Milan appears to have been stalled. Rumours are linking the want away Argentinean striker to Queens Park Rangers, who appointed his former boss at City, Mark Hughes as their manager.

It may just be because they share the same agent but could Tevez play his football in London again? Crazier things have happened.

Whatever happens, QPR is one club that’s expected to be very busy this month but have only acquired Federico Macheda on loan from Manchester United.

Whilst across west London, Chelsea were expected to make some signings for manager Andres Villas Boas to boost his squad. Gary Cahill of Bolton Wanderers has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge although the likes of Tottenham Hotspur could be after him too.

The most interesting deals of the 12 days we’ve had so far have been Nicolas Anelka’s move to China, whilst he may be well past his prime you didn’t expect the Frenchman to end his playing days in the Chinese Premier Division. ‘The Sulk’ has been one the best finisher’s the Premier League has ever seen.

Some interesting loan deals have taken place with Emmanuel Frimpong joining Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan from Arsenal, a midfield with him and Jamie O’Hara sounds very combative.

Whilst away from the top flight, League Two side AFC Wimbledon have made a double scoop with the return of Jason Euell to the South London club from Charlton Athletic on loan and young midfield George Moncur (son of John) from West Ham.

The biggest signing of this transfer window so far has to be Thierry Henry returning to Arsenal on loan. Whilst players look to end their careers in the MLS, the fact they’re able to come back on loan is a very attractive prospect for players and clubs alike.

Robbie Keane also joins Henry in a short term loan by signing for Aston Villa. The player who never lived up to expectations in his loan move at West Ham United last season has caused a flurry of ‘boyhood club’ jokes on Twitter, as standard.

What’s to come in the remaining days of January? It’s hard to say.

Will Manchester United buy a midfielder? Where will Christopher Samba ditch Blackburn for? And just how many players will Mark Hughes sign at QPR?

I’ll be back in a week to see what’s taken place…

Friday Focus: European Draws and key Weekend Games…

A rare edition of Friday Focus sees me look forward to 2012 and the European ties involving English clubs. Today saw the draw of the next round in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, and all draws involving 5 English clubs were very interesting fixtures indeed.

Arsenal and Chelsea were the unlikely lads to be left in the Champions League by this stage compared to the Premier League dominant Manchester clubs. However, both London teams have tough games to get through if they want to get further in this year’s competition.

Arsenal take on AC Milan, a side they defeated 3 years ago in the quarter-finals. But this Milan side has gone through a transitional period since then and will be tougher competition that some Gooners may be expecting come February.

Chelsea meanwhile have a tricky task of facing Napoli, the side that advanced in the group stages at the expense of Manchester City. The Italian side showed their counter attacking prowess and with Chelsea looking rocky under AVB this season, it could be a very tough fixture for the Blues to get through.

The Europa League may have taken a beating from fans, pundits and managers alike it has served up three extremely interesting fixtures which should prove to put the spark back into this once famous European competition.

Manchester United take on Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam, whilst Manchester City take on FC Porto from Portugal. Whilst European newboys Stoke City play Valencia, I wonder if these fixtures will even make it to air on Channel 5 and ITV 4, the usual home of Europa League fixtures. I expect ITV 1 including either Manchester clubs on their channel this time around.

The Weekend…

The games I am looking forward to this weekend are in the Premier League with Blackburn hosting West Brom which is already being touted as a relegation decider/six pointer this early into the season. Fulham host Bolton in a similar fixture between sides in the bottom 8 of the table. No one wants to be bottom by Christmas and all clubs will be desperate to beat each other.

Sunday provides four Premier League games, with QPR hosting Manchester United, Liverpool travelling to Aston Villa and Spurs welcoming a rejuvenated Sunderland under Martin O’Neill.

The game of the weekend however has to be Manchester City versus Arsenal which will surely be one of the games of the season, with Arsenal in good form and City under some scrutiny, could it open the title race more?

Just what is Phil Jones’ best position? #ManUtd

One of Manchester United’s most interesting signings in the summer was the capture of Phil Jones from Blackburn Rovers for a transfer fee around £16.5 Million. The money is not in question as Jones has made an emphatic start at his new club and has made the most appearances for the Red Devils so far this season.

At the weekend, Jones scored his first goal for United with an excellent side footed volley in the area from Nani’s cross. It was a finish that any attacking player would be proud of and in particular United legends like Bryan Robson and Brian McClair.

It begs the question that has been on my mind throughout the season so far and that is just what is Phil Jones’ best position?

Naturally, he is a centre half and no doubt Sir Alex Ferguson signed him to be the successor of Rio Ferdinand and/or Nemanja Vidic. In particular, Fergie signed Jones not only for his football talent but also his leadership and many in the game have tipped him to be a future United captain, as well as England.

However, after seeing how well he has adapted to life at Old Trafford, it’s remarkable to think that he is only 19 years old. He plays with a sense of confidence that usually players his senior command on the pitch, he is bound to be one of the best Defenders in the future but what about now?

Jones has played at the back for United this season on a number of occasions but he has also filled in at right-back where he looked competent but not his natural game. However, the times he has been pushed up the pitch in United’s midfield has seen him come alive.

When breaking though to the Blackburn Rovers team, he was preferred in midfield mainly because of Rovers’ competent centre-backs Ryan Nelsen and Christopher Samba. Still he impressed as a defensive midfielder however, for United you often see him bursting forward with the ball and creating opportunities.

The beautiful finish at Villa Park, which won United the game 1-0, makes me wonder if he should be considered as a midfielder for the next several years.

Whilst the centre-back position may be his natural trait, it’s a position that is often thrived with plenty of experience and like I already mentioned in this article, Jones is bound to be one of the best when he’s older.

However, at only 19, I feel that he could solidify that United midfield that appears to be lacking this season bringing to mind the classic square pegs in round holes cliché.

And maybe the holding midfielder role isn’t even right for him, as he’s a player who likes to move forward. Perhaps a more box-to-box central midfield position would suit him and United throughout this season and through the next.

The only downside to his versatility is that he could become just that, a versatile player who fits in various positions on the pitch without making one his own. It’s a similar story to John O’Shea and his demise from the United team.

Just what is O’Shea’s best position? I couldn’t really tell you but perhaps it is unfair to compare the two, whilst O’Shea is a better footballer than often given credit for, Jones has the potential to be much, much better.

I for one can’t wait to see what is to come from the youngster, for England’s sake more over.

Is Rio Ferdinand on the decline?

After witnessing Manchester City tear Manchester United to shreds not so long ago on a bright Sunday afternoon, I thought to myself ’Has Rio Ferdinand lost it?’. For one of City’s goals, Ferdinand made the attempt of running back to Edin Dzeko, only for Ferdinand to refrain from tackling or making a block. I found such defensive play bizarre.

Has Ferdinand fallen out of love with the game? We can only speculate. What we do know is that Sir Alex Ferguson is reported to have spoken to Ferdinand about changing his game due to Ferdinand losing some of his pace. Let’s say that report was true, then it’ll be somewhat difficult for Ferdinand to change his game especially at this stage of his career. I also think it’s unwise of Ferguson to publicly state the decline in Ferdinand’s game. Such a public declaration can’t aid manager / player relations. Keep an eye out on teams testing Manchester United’s defence down the Continue reading

The Friday Focus: Midlands Derby, Fergie Dilemma & More…

Friday Focus

The Midlands Derby

If Alex McLeish can steer his Aston Villa side to victory over their midland rivals Wolves, then it’d go even further to endearing himself to the Holte End faithful. Wolves on the other hand, are still buoyant over their home win over Fulham last week. Expect a keenly fought local derby on Saturday afternoon.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Selection Dilemma

With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling performing with distinction on Monday evening against Spurs, what thoughts are occupying Ferguson in terms of Manchester United’s clash with Arsenal?. I was curious to see Jones being deployed as a right centre-back with Jonny Evans deployed on the left of him. Is Chris Smalling seen as a long term option at right back? Will Tom Cleverley continue to flourish or flounder as a central midfielder? All these questions and more will be answered when Arsenal visit the Theatre of Dreams.

Nottingham Forest v West Ham

Another clash of the big name managers in The Championship. With Steve Mc Claren and Sam Allardyce in the dugout, there’s bound to be more focus on their touchline antics rather than the game itself. West Ham’s form under Allardyce has been far from sparkling and they’ll be keen to find some form at the City Ground.

AVB aka Andre Villas-Boas

The man of the managerial moment, Mr Villas-Boas hasn’t had things go all his own way since he touched down in England. Judging by Villas-Boas’ firm rebuttal to the audible boos from the Chelsea crowd during their win over West Brom, it seems that Villas-Boas was starting to believe his own hype. It looks like Villas-Boas is becoming a prickly character even at this early stage of his debut season in the Premier League. He’ll definitely be one to watch.

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger is being criticised from all corners (Arsenal fans included). Despite the recent sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasir, Wenger has remained defiant to all the naysayers. Arsenal’s clash with Manchester United won’t provide the death knell that many people predicted. Arsenal’s win over Udinese has given the players and Wenger a fillip. Arsene Wenger will leave Old Trafford after the match with his head held high, win, lose or draw.

The best and worst case scenarios for Arsene Wenger & Arsenal FC

A hyperbole is surrounding Arsenal Football Club and in particular their long serving manager Arsene Wenger this week so it would be pretentious for Verbal Football to not give it’s two pennies on the matter.

The hype which has been fuelled by another trophyless season for the North London side has only had more petrol poured on the bonfire with the sale of Cesc Fabregas and doubts over whether Samir Nasri is sold to Manchester City, plus with the lack of signings that many Arsenal fans and football fans, ex-players and journalists all feel is needed.

To make it worse, a 0-0 draw at Newcastle was marred by the sending off of Gervinho and retrospective ban for Alex Song after his stamp on Joey Barton. In the week, a unconvincing 1-0 home win over Udinese in the UEFA Champions League qualifier did little to help preperations going into the Liverpool game at the weekend.

An under strength Gunners side suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool on Saturday which has put Arsene Wenger in an edgy position for the next week with two important fixtures in place. The defeat which I feel was caused by the sending off of holding midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong and Arsene Wenger not making changes to cover the huge hole in front of the back four for Liverpool and Charlie Adam in particular to exploit.

Added to all of this, UEFA have decided to ban Arsene Wenger from the touchline for a further two games after a communication break down over what contact the Arsenal manager could make from the stands to his bench during the home game in the Champions League last week.

So what are the best and worst case scenarios for Arsenal over the next week and furthermore? Continue reading

Done Deals: Sunderland looking good,Leicester on the march…

  Another new feature for the Verbal Football blog is Done Deals, a general round-up and opinion on the latest transfers from the football world. Whilst we’ve been bombarded with transfer rumours over the summer break, this section will only focus on Done Deals in the transfer market.

The Premier League champions, Manchester United have been very assertive in the transfer market but it was to be expected. Despite manager, Sir Alex Ferguson commenting on how over priced the current market is last summer, this close season he’s had no choice but make some signings with the loss of Edwin Van der Saar, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes to retirement.

Whilst I covered United’s signings in a previous article on Fergie and his Continue reading

DVD Review: Giggs Fitness

 This year has been one to forget for Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs, with the scandal circulating the press and social media websites with his off the field activities, it probably did not help sales for his ‘Yoga/Fitness’ DVD simply titled; Giggs Fitness.

The 37-year old has been a top performer despite his age which is surprising to many, as a player in his position usually declines in performance once they reach the age of 30, where pace, stamina and flexibility start to become a strain.

But the Welsh Wizard has been able to be a top performer for United for the last several seasons and has put it down to extra fitness training in the form of Yoga. This form of exercise is not overly popular in the world of football but is becoming increasingly used as professional teams want to maximise performances of their players.

And Ryan’s agent probably thought it was best for him and his client to cash in on this new and indifferent take of a fitness DVD. Whilst there are plenty of Fitness Yoga DVD’s on the shelf in your local supermarkets and media stores, they’re usually Continue reading

Manchester United & Sunderland set the transfer standard

  Since the closing games of the 2010/2011 season there have been rumours galore on potential transfers set to be taking place over the summer but many of them have yet to be concluded. However, two clubs from the English Premier League have done the business, nice and early and in preparation for the up and coming pre-season campaign.

Barclays Premier League champions, Manchester United have made three great signings to bolster their squad. They may have lost veterans Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Edwin Van der Saar to retirement but Sir Alex Ferguson has signed three Continue reading