IMHO..

Sterling Sold for £49 Million

Morning All

What do you think of the latest news that Manchester City and Liverpool have agreed a fee of £49 million for Sterling?

They did what?

That moment you realise the owner of Man City has actually paid £49m for Raheem Sterling…

Posted by The FOOTBALL Bible on Sunday, 12 July 2015

Of course, this is pending the medical, and don’t forget he is supposed to be ill according to reports, that’s why he could not travel with Liverpool on their latest tour.

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To me this is just madness, £49 Million for a player who is young, but has not really proven himself for club or country. Could this be a purchase for the future for Manchester City as he is only 20 years old.

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There is definitely one person celebrating this morning:

BRENDAN RODGERS SEEN CELEBRATING STERLING SALE

AFTER SELLING RAHEEM FOR £49mill – A HAPPY BRENDAN RODGERS IS SPOTTED AT AN OUTDOOR RAVE IN LIVERPOOL

Posted by YNFA on Sunday, 12 July 2015

Meanwhile in the Man City changing rooms, players are told the news:

Sterling is currently 80/1 for the Premier League Top Scorer with Bet365

Personally I cannot see this happening, as i find it hard to see how he is going to get much game time with such a great squad, but after agreeing a fee of £49 million, i guess anything is possible.

Fans say farewell to Sterling:

Liverpool fans waving goodbye to Raheem Sterling…

Posted by The Football Bible on Sunday, 12 July 2015

What do you think, will this make or break his career?

Raheem Sterling: where do you stand?

The transfer drama has already been considerable this summer, and as with last year it is Liverpool in the headlines again, trying to hold on to a star attacker. Luis Suarez may or may not have actually had his transfer to Barcelona agreed in January of the season he left, but in the case of Raheem Sterling it seems there are still a few possible outcomes, and this emotional potential transfer has totally divided the fans. We thought we’d take a look at the two opposing viewpoints in the situation, and maybe try to sum up just what the future holds for Europe’s ‘Golden Boy’.

Pro-Raheem

In this camp you tend to find people who are fond of blue-sky thinking (or should that be sky-blue thinking?), and the prevailing opinion is that Liverpool have worked to create this situation themselves. By leaving Sterling earing roughly half or less of what far less talented players were on for an entire season, the club were always taking a risk, and it seems like it hasn’t paid off with the player admitting he would have re-signed last summer if given the chance. Add to that the failure of Brendan Rodgers to stay in the Champions League and a long-term lack of trophies at Anfield, and it’s not hard to see why Sterling might want to move onward and upwards.

Now, the ‘calling in sick’ tactic and his general association with Aidy Ward won’t be defended anywhere really, even in this camp, but a fair few neutrals agree with the devout Citizens keen to see Raheem in light blue, and understand his frustration and motives, if not his actions. Were someone like Sergio Aguero to act in this way to force a move to Real Madrid the tone might be different, but the same can be said of the way Liverpool recruited players from Southampton last season, and Sterling is considered by many to have a great chance of being more of a factor than occasional bench-warmer Adam Lallana was after his move.

In terms of his transfer to City specifically, you don’t find a lot of the bench-warmer comments in this camp either, with the fans comparing him to Nasri and Navas and finding in Sterling favour, making this transfer a logical one all around. As one of the best young talents in Europe, alongside the likes of Pogba, De Bruyne and others, Sterling is desperate to play at the top level and deserves to, and when you put it in that perspective the only thing to recommend Liverpool to him is playing time, which he will back himself to also get at Man City.

Anti-Raheem

As a player and a person Sterling pretty-much sums up what is wrong with the modern game, overrating himself and putting money before all else. When he moved to Anfield from QPR his main motivation was money, of which Liverpool offered more than anyone else, and when he signed the £35k-a-week deal there was even talk about value then, when he became the highest-paid player of his age in Britain. Refusing to honour that contract only bodes poorly for City too, especially if Sterling gets bored of the north after a couple of years.

Added onto this you also have the much greater issue of the sense in paying £50m for a player who has had one truly outstanding season, and that season being one where he played with the best team attacker in the world. Even Lionel Messi and Neymar have had special seasons playing alongside Luis Suarez, so the Uruguayan lifting Sterling and Sturridge beyond their potential ceilings would not be such an outlandish thing after all, and it’s certainly true that Raheem failed to stand out in the season immediately following Suarez’s exit.

A lot of the anti-Raheem stuff has come from Liverpool fans of course, but outside of that group there is a general feeling that Sterling is overprice by a long way, with many saying he is worth about half of the £50m tag Liverpool have put on him. Set up to fail by an agent who only went solo seven months or so ago, Sterling is a symbol of the sickness in modern football and only cares about the money, and in the long term his forcing a move at this point will see him fail to achieve his overall potential too.

Overall, Raheem Sterling is not the first talented youngster to act in this way, and certainly won’t be the last. In fact, his team-mate Daniel Sturridge did the same thing in his time at City before moving to Chelsea and eventually Liverpool, with mixed results overall, and some would argue it may have made him a tougher player, while others would point to the stalling that occurred at Stamford Bridge as proof Sterling is making a mistake. Only time will tell if this move is worth fighting for, but here at FFT it still seems obvious that by the start of next season Sterling will be playing his home games at the Etihad, simply due to the determination he’s shown to get out, and the bridges he’s burned in the process.

BPL title odds preview

There is less than a week left until the start of the Barclays Premier League season for real (as if anyone cares about the Charity Shield) and things are shaping up beautifully for this to be yet another great competition for the biggest prize in British football. After Liverpool came so close only to see it slip away last term the competition is going to be much fiercer judging by the way other teams are spending over the summer, and with Manchester United expected to go even deeper into their pockets before the end of August we’ve no idea of the eventual number of contenders.

Last year most pundits picked Chelsea as their eventual champions despite a few weaknesses in Jose Mourinho’s squad, and with the striker deficiency addressed and some quality added to their midfield and defence it’s not much of a shock that they are favourite once more, at 19/10 with PaddyPower. What held them back last year was probably the tactical rigidity of the Mourinho system but he’ll be that much wiser for another term in the top division, and the additions of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa will make it a lot easier for him to attack when the time is right.

Defending champions Manchester City are the team most likely to object for most people but a lot are unsure how much they’ve really strengthened over the summer, especially in the forward line where their star man is somewhat fragile. Depth has been added in defence, sure, and the likes of Jovetic and Dzeko look good in pre-season, but at 5/2 City might be a bit short for some tastes. In reality there was only a second-string played vs Arsenal in the Community Shield which makes it hard to take much from that result.

The third most likely contender for this writer is the aforementioned United, and with their expensively-hired coach and a lack of European football to distract them we aren’t alone in thinkgin this could be another domestic triumph for Louis Van Gaal. 5/1 with BetFred on van Gaal being the first Dutchman to lead the Old Trafford outfit to Premier League success is a nice price, and given that Arsenal and Liverpool are unlikely to make an impact at the end of the year he really only has two teams to worry about in all probability.

What do you know?

Right now, if you’re a fan of Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal there is a good chance you’re refreshing Twitter so fast your F5 key is calling the police and complaining of harassment, purely to see if your club has made a signing (or yet another signing in Liverpool’s case), and don’t those ‘ITK’ types just know it? Even man and his dog have a TalkSport-style contact happy to feed them so many exclusives you’d think they had access to the club email and some of the more popular breakers of big news are now pushing up into the hundreds of thousands of followers, amazingly, making for an extremely frustrating time if you’re trying to work out what is true, and what might just be horseshit, mainly because there is so much of the latter.

The only thing you can pick out and say is pretty-much 100% trustworthy is the official club website itself where deals are announced, although if you follow Liverpool that also means enduring their terrible headers and frames that looks as though they come from a mid-2000’s FIFA title, mocking up what Sky were doing at the time. Some sources are better than others for various clubs, and the likes of Ben Smith at the BBC are more conservative with their leaks to avoid getting things badly wrong, but overall there is no sure-fire source, so why do the ITK’s do so well? If you follow one for any length of time and have a working mind you’ll quickly see how often they are right, and even with the preponderance of stupid people walking the earth there must be normal folk in the IndyKalia list as well.

The truth is that the summer window has become as much of an event as the season itself now, and when you consider the way big teams work these days it’s also fair to say the signing they make in the off-season are crucial for multiple reasons. There is always an attempt to improve the playing prospects, but players like James Rodriguez and Neymar are equally as important when it comes to selling shirts, merchandise and even tickets, thereby keeping the club healthy and wealthy for the future. We can probably never go back now, as there is much invested in the circus from a variety of angles, but it is still in your power to cut down on the attention-seekers and charlatans, simply by ignoring them and cutting of the oxygen of attention they desperately crave.

United: dreaming again

The first trophy of the Louis Van Gaal era at Manchester United was secured last night in sweltering and sultry conditions at the Sun Life Stadium, the footballing home of the otherwise soulless American city of Miami, and even as a fan of their defeated opponents this writer has to concede they deserved it. While Liverpool dominated the first half, the energy-sapping humidity told far more on their squad, and the quality available off the bench for the two sides also seems to be more in LVG’s favour than that of Brendan Rodgers as did the fitness work that has been put in in the pre-season. Things are looking bright for the former champions, and with an exciting couple of weeks in the transfer market ahead this is a good time to be a Red Devil.

Before the hordes ask, there is no news on Arturo Vidal, but the Juventus midfielder is just about favourite to still be dressed in black and white when the window ends at this point, with 5/6 on that compared to the 6/5 on him going to Old Trafford, and if the new manager learned anything from a tour on which he beat Real Madrid and Liverpool it is that things aren’t as bad as all that. The Dutch master is probably secretly thankful that David Moyes was able to provide the sort of backdrop to LVG’s arrival that guaranteed a hero’s welcome, but a manager of his experience also knows that dangers of changing too much, too soon, and will want to keep a strong core from the team that Sir Alex built and Moyes nearly broke.

In some ways this is also a sad time for the club, as the sacking of Moyes and the hiring of a short-term, high-profile manager represents the death of the Ferguson dream, but the fans don’t really care as long as the silverware is collected and the world dominated once more. With the first challenge for the new man being to restore United to their rightful spot in the Champions League we should see this season largely judged as a success if they get top four, and with the club set up to compete well on multiple fronts the lack of fixture pressure will give the club a much improved shot at taking the domestic crown one would think. Maybe it’s time for the fans to dream once more.

Next England captain

The retirement of Steven Gerrard from international football should be good news for his club, and in some ways it also takes a weight off the mind of Roy Hodgson as he moves forward as England manager. The candidates are not exactly thronging right now, but nevertheless we managed to pick out five men who could possibly lead their nation in coming years and might be in for the armband.

Joe Hart (6/1 – BetWay)
At least half the case for Hart as England captain is based on the fact he’ll probably be in the team come rain, shine or Fraser Forster, and the recent experiment with the Celtic keeper showed the value of such a confident and communicative keeper. He might not be the goalie the fans want, but Hart is almost certainly the one they’ll be stuck with for a decade more and that, combined with his place at City makes him a decent choice, provided he can keep his spot with more competition this year.

Wayne Rooney (4/9 – SkyBet)
The choice of most press ex-pros, Rooney looks like the best player England can call upon at the moment and has added maturity to ability over the last few years, making him viable as the captain when that previously wasn’t the case. A guaranteed place in the eleven also goes a long way in Wayne’s favour, and there is a good chance he’ll break both the goal scoring record and 100 caps with the armband on.

Gary Cahill (5/1 – PaddyPower)
If Roy Hodgson were to pick someone to lead his team through the qualifiers for Euro 2016 and no more, Cahill would be right up there and rightly so, as he has emerged as the most dependable and composed part of his national and club back four in recent years and should start when fit. His long-term prospects aren’t great, but there are few candidates right now that offer both the composure and the youth, so Cahill may end up being the man for the next 24 months at least.

Jordan Henderson (33/1 – VictorChandler)
If you want to pick a long-term prospect your choices are limited right now, and aside from Phil Jones and Luke Shaw the Liverpool midfielder seems the only guy who will definitely be around in five years for England. Jack Wilshere may be more of a leader and talent, but the fragility of his ankles and his bad social habits make him a tough choice while Henderson offers reliability and productivity instead. An outside bet.

Phil Jagielka (40/1 – VictorChandler)
Of all the players in this list the man they call Jags is the least likely to get the armband, but like Cahill he may actually be a great short term option with Euro 2016 and Hodgson’s replacement in mind. Calm, composed and crucial to the Everton back four, Jagielka can play football and defends like a lion, and would not be a bad choice by any means.

Be careful what you wish for…

Every summer for the last few years now the best and brightest players in the Barclays Premier League are stolen away by one of two clubs, either Barcelona or Real Madrid, and this has proven to be no exception so far as Luis Suarez left Liverpool for a vaguely obscene amount of money. Some had hoped that the massive influx of oil/gas money into the French league might redress the balance a bit across Europe, but aside for Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich there doesn’t appear to be a club capable of properly denying the Spanish giants what they want, and even the former are only able to do so with a massive budget themselves. When and if Real or Barca ever decide to come for the likes of Eden Hazard we might see a different outcome, but right now the Spanish division has the pulling power.

Javier Tebas is the league president where the rain falls mainly on the plains, and he has said this week the he’d like all the top players to operate in the Spanish league eventually. This would confirm it as the strongest in the world, but you can’t ignore the fact it would be terrible for the game over there overall and only shows how the Spanish system needs reform. In a league dominated totally and utterly by two massive clubs that can exercise their financial superiority even during a transfer ban any further strengthening of the top two would make the situation worse, and if Spain ever want to be where the Premier League is, in a place where as many as five clubs can compete for the league title or have world-class players they need to redress from within rather than splashing about in the money pit.

It may help Barca and Real in the short term if they can do a Bayern and weaken their opposition with every passing window but in the longer terms we’ve seen the damage a lack of domestic competition can do to any big club and there is no reason why it should be any different in this case. Individuals like Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez are happy to move while the money is good but can they be said to actually have proved anything after running through a dying competition? At the moment the answer seems to be yes, but if Mr Tebas gets his way and the talent drain to Spain continues eventually even the league title won’t matter a jot as a two-game season will decide the champion, and we’ll be looking at SPL2.

Falling Angel

This summer has seen some frankly obscene money changing hands already, which is incredible when you think just what has happened to the big spenders over the last twelve months or so. Sure, Real Madrid may have won the Champions League for the tenth time, but having broken the world transfer record last summer it is still odd to see them spending like it’s going out of fashion again, while Barcelona are technically supposed to be under a transfer ban. Like the punishment handed down to their new star signing that sanction has turned out to be something of an empty gesture to date, and the Catalans have once again been able to drop massive wads of cash and further crush their reputation as a club that builds from within.

As a result of ‘Hammers’ Rodriguez moving to Madrid it looks like Angel Di Maria will be sold to make space in the squad, and there are a number of clubs interested in making what will probably need to be a £50m bid for the Argentine, but he is actually one of the most overrated players in the European game right now and indicative of a worrying trend. If you watched Di Maria play only through highlight packages that fee may seem appropriate, but when seen live the weaknesses of the winger are far more evident, including a profligacy with the ball and a total lack of interest in tracking back and helping his defence, and for a technical and tactical manager like Carlo Ancelotti that lack of discipline must be maddening at times.

If one of the big Premier League clubs does make him their marquee signing it seems likely they’ll be let down in the longer term in the same sort of way Arsenal have been to this point by Mesut Ozil, and it’s certainly not unfair to say the English top division demands diligence both on and off the pitch than the Spanish Liga BBVA. Di Maria’s talent with the ball at his feet is considerable, but his price tag also says a lot about the way clubs decide on players these days and how scouting is sometimes less important than the ego of the transfer committee (see Fabregas to Barca, Fellaini to Man Utd etc) and the need to sell shirts. If the man himself turns up and proves us wrong that will only be a good thing as the league deals with yet another summer talent drain, but he’s far from a guaranteed success.

Where does the armband go next?

After a long and somewhat controversial run as an England international Steven Gerrard has finally decided to hang up his armband and hand over the reins to a new generation of player, and many have said the decision has come not a moment too soon after the way the World Cup ended. Exposed by a naïve tactical system that ignored all the lessons of the previous Premier League campaign and eventually left to watch his side beaten and embarrassed, it is not that much of a surprise that this is the time he’d finally decide to quit, and when you compare his departure to the way Philip Lahm has gone out, for example, it seems a shame it had to end this way.

The candidates to take over from the man who definitely controls the dressing room tunes aren’t exactly thronging and oozing quality, but there are definitely options for Roy Hodgson as he builds toward another group stage disappointment in two years’ time before inevitably being sacked in favour of the next saviour. With that in mind the former Liverpool and Fulham boss may choose to go with a short-term appointment like Gary Cahill, but in the longer term there is no doubt the national team need a brain and a heart if it is to thrive, and currently has neither . It’s a shame the FA weren’t brave enough to make the change they needed to on the of the English summer of shite, but there is now a chance to build with this generation and install the leaders that could take them to success down the road.

The obvious group of players that will be around for the next few years is pretty small, and limited to maybe two or three names. Unless Ashley Cole finds a time machine in Rome we’re set for a decade of Luke Shaw in the number three shirt, and captaining from left back is always going to be tough, so it comes down to Joe Hart, Wayne Rooney and maybe Jordan Henderson at this point, if those are your criteria. While all have something to offer, it seems more sensible to plan properly and go with a two-stage method. In the short term, Hodgson give the armband to Gary Cahill, our best defender and most committed player at times, whilst training Phil Jones to take over after Euro 2016, as the United man is an obvious leader and should also be an obvious starter for a long time. Of course anything can happen under Roy, and not always for the best, but we can hope this is the time he might see sense, can’t we?