EPL Daily 12.18: Man City gets good news, not so for many other EPL teams today

Is Nery Castillo the missing piece for Sven Goran-Eriksson and Manchester City? The pacy and tenacious winger has joined the Blues on a one year loan from Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. With Castillo and Elano – both Copa America 2007 standouts – I can’t imagine that Eriksson’s Citeh will be falling much lower than 4th place in the standings. Unless, of course, Castillo steals a PK from Elano, prompting an all-out inter-squad brawl. That didn’t exactly happen, but it was close enough…Castillo’s last spat was on field, in-match with Claudio Lucarelli over a PK. I’m expecting nothing but good to come of this though….

Two Carling Cup Quarterfinals today: Manchester City vs. Tottenham; Arsenal vs. Blackburn (Tottenham is already up 1-0, in the 20th minute as of 3:00pm est).

Bunch of Negative Headlines:

Liverpool downgrades stadium plan.

Manchester United party to be investigated after rape claims.

John Terry injured. Leon Osman injured.

EPL Daily 12.14: All things Capello; Derby/Coventry takeover?, etc.

Coventry and Derby are the latest English clubs to be pegged for an imminent takeover – Derby’s has an American feel however (an “American sports company”) and is still in critical stages. Whereas, Coventry has gone the Ray Ranson-led SISU Capital route (Ranson was responsible for a bid to takeover Man City early last year). With the takeover, which is now just subject to a 90% approval from all Coventry City shareholders, the Championship club saves themselves from administrative and competitive penalties. Also, West Ham is gearing up for yet another injection of capital as baldy Icelandic chairman Eggert Magnusson has relinquished his 5% stake in the Hammers to his Icelandic chum ‘BG’ – Bjorgolfur Gudmondsson – who plans to put another $60 million or so into the club (not player purchases persay).

Now – with the final verdict subject to contract negotiations (6.25 mill pounds/yr) – ALL of the controversy arises around the inevitable appointment of Italian Fabio Capello to the English manager’s position. Paul Parker at Eurosport says this confirms that England is now a ‘second-rate football nation’. Reading’s main man Steve Coppell, M’bro’s Gareth Southgate, former Arsenal defender Tony Adams don’t agree with the decision as well. Former English midfielder and MK Dons boss Paul Ince is pissed too. Got me thinking, were they this pissed when Sven Goran Eriksson took over? SoccerLens put together a list of 10 reasons why Fabio Capello IS a good choice.

If the head coach is Italian, does it balance it out if the majority of the coaching staff is British? Both Alan Shearer and current English U-21 gaffer Stuart Pearce have been tagged as potential number twos. Shearer to England seems a bit improbable as the former Newcastle striker turned down a chance to be assistant when McLaren took over.

Amidst all that, Chelsea’s new boss Avram Grant has just signed on for 4 more years. Pretty well done considering the Mourinho mess.

Nery Castillo – Mexico’s pride and joy at this past summer’s Copa America  and long-time Mexican Guiseppe Rossi – is already sick of Shakhtar (Ukraine) and is being linked to a loan deal with Sven Goran Eriksson’s Manchester City

One hell of a Sunday this weekend – Manchester United vs. Liverpool and Chelsea vs. Arsenal in the EPL. Ajax vs. PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivisie. Valencia vs. Barcelona in La Liga. Juventus vs. Lazio in the Serie A. Who prevails??

Watford’s Al Bangura: A Quest for Education on the Matter

The 19-year old Sierra Leone midfielder arrived in the UK in 2005, bright-eyed at the prospect of being scouted by a soccer team, let alone one the size of Watford.

Now, almost three years later, and with a fiance as well as a son and a steady job, the British Asylum and Immigration Authorities have denied him asylum in the UK and have ordered Bangura back to Sierra Leone.

Nothing incenses Coach Aidy Boothroyd more.

“He came over as a 15-year-old boy, he escaped two civil wars and he got a lucky break in life as he was scouted by a football club,” explained Boothroyd to Sky Sports News. “After the immigration hearing I said I had a faith in the British justice but obviously I was totally mistaken as it is a completely ludicrous decision, this country great as it once was seems to allow anyone in for benefit as they fancy and we have one young man here who pays his taxes, has a fiancée, a new-born son and they expect him to go back to Sierra Leone – it is ridiculous. I can’t go into too much detail, but we have been sent a document for the reasons why and we are appealing – rather than these pen pushers someone higher up, perhaps Jacqui Smith the home secretary could look at it and make a decent decision rather than the one we have got. He is deeply disappointed. He thought his life had changed for the better and as I have said before, you put faith in the system and it comes back to haunt you. We are all disappointed and he is having to be consoled. We have ten days to appeal and we are working hard, and of course we are trying to go to Jacqui Smith but that is easier said than done but we hope common sense will prevail. He is a terrific young player, very talented and he will be a big, big player for us in the future – but this is more than football.”

That was picked from Sky Sports. Please – anyone with knowledge on this sort of thing – don’t these past three years of consistent work, a family, an organization requesting his permanent stay have anything to do with the decision for him to stay or go?

To make matters worse, if deported, his attempt to get back in to the UK will most likely take a hard hit as it’s pretty clear he won’t qualify for a work permit as he isn’t capped for Sierra Leone. The fact that he played 16 games in the Premiership last year could potentially speak for something, but it can’t be considered.

Even worse, apparently as of today, the appeal was rejected.

Reading Points

Guardian (UK)
Times Online (UK)
Skysports (UK)

Anyone want to take a stab at enlightening a guy who is oblivious to this whole process?

Harry Redknapp, Amdy Faye Arrested!

Well there goes any shot at taking over Steve McClaren’s vacancy. Or maybe not, everybody’s innocent until proven guilty right??

Redknapp – firmly entrenched at Portsmouth when his transfer kitty sky-rocketed exponentially due to Russian businessman Alexander Gaydamak’s takeover – has been confirmed by his club to be one of the five arrested on…

“…on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting as part of an ongoing investigation into football corruption.”

Another of those arrested was Portsmouth executive Peter Storrie while the second most surprising of those taken in was former Newcastle, Portsmouth, and current Rangers midfielder Amdy Faye. All that was officially released at first was the ages of those arrested – 69, 60 (Redknapp, although he’s 61), 55, 48, and 30 (Faye).

It all started with Lord Stevens who was brought in by the English FA last year to look into odd transfers and going-ons in English football. Stevens did just that and pissed some people off – throwing accusations and caution out the window. Is it like baseball’s steroids where everybody knows it’s happening but people would rather sit in denial? Early on, clubs like Newcastle, Portsmouth, and Rangers were searched, while it was alleged that Pascal Chimbonda of Tottenham was brought in for questioning, and results were presented, 8 arrests made, but nothing as high-profile as this.

Is this the start of things to come?

EPL Daily, 10.9: Henk ‘so I’m the asshole?’ ten Cate, Bolton draws a giant

Henk Ten Cate held a press conference to say he wouldn’t be heading to Chelsea, but to no avail, the offer was too good to refuse. Ten Cate was given the go ahead to sever his ties with Ajax and head to Stamford Bridge to open negotiations. It’s not every day you see the Dutch powerhouses stamped upon and trampled over by a ‘bigger’ club or……………maybe they didn’t want to fight for ten Cate who has seen his grasp on the club slip along with Ajax’s form in European play. The bitter 1-goal Eredivisie championship loss to PSV last year was enough to turn many against the former Barca assistant. That’s not to say Ajax officials weren’t fuming…

“Henk presented it to us as a fact and we didn’t have any choice. We didn’t want to work with a coach who had his mind at Chelsea.Things should have been done differently. I don’t want to say more.”

Bolton, Tottenham, and Everton all found out their UEFA Group fates with Bolton grabbing a match-up against Luca Toni and Bayern Munich. Tottenham will face Anderlecht in a replay of the 1984 UEFA Cup final, while Everton will face Blackburn’s executioners, Larissa as well as Dutch big guns AZ Alkmaar. 

UEFA Group Draws

Group A
AZ Alkmaar
Zenit St Petersburg

Group B
Lokomotiv Moscow
Atletico Madrid
FC Copenhagen

Group C
AEK Athens
Mlada Boleslav
IF Elfsborg

Group D
Dinamo Zagreb
SK Brann

Group E
Bayer Leverkusen
Sparta Prague
Spartak Moscow
FC Zurich

Group F
Bayern Munich
Bolton Wanderers
Crvena Zvezda
Aris Thessaloniki

Group G
Tottenham Hotspur
Hapoel Tel-Aviv

Group H
Austria Vienna

Mourinho axed, hari-kari’d, whatever you want to call it…

He said his goodbyes this morning and got on out of London. His next destination – who knows?

Former Isreali coach and current Chelsea director of football Avram Grant will take over first-team duties with the help of Mourinho’s number two Steve Clarke (Ryan, at least it was a quick decision without the rumor of Juande Ramos flying around). Many thought it would be former Juventus man Didier Deschamps, but it seems that Grant’s role will be permanent. In fact, his arrival from Portsmouth in the summer certainly compounded the already iffy relationship between Roman Abrahamovich and Mourinho. The feud intensified way before that, however, in January when Mourinho was looking to solidify his squad but Abrahamovich wanted him to play with what he’s got, namely Andrei Shevchenko. Communication between the two fizzled and after three years at the helm, Mourinho left by “mutual consent” – the football-world’s version of hari-kari.

Some reading material:

Well put together time-line of Mourinho’s unravelling

The crisis meeting

Former captain Ray Wilkins had this to say,

“I’m absolutely astounded at what’s happened. Winning football matches is what the game’s about and he is a winning manager who puts a winning msentality in players’ heads and they go and win things.”

It’s one of those things you hear about but you completely expect things to work themselves out between Abrahamovich and Mourinho. But that was not the case. I mean – how much higher can Mourinho go when it comes to prestige and resources? Where does Mourinho go from here? And who exactly is Avram Grant?