The status of summer

Summer is great and everything, except if you’re into European football, and then you’re pretty much sitting around reading the rumor pages. So this is the summer I begin paying attention to my local team, the Philadelphia Union.

It’s shameful to say I’ve not been to a game at PPL park. Confessing this feels exactly like trying to explain to relatives why you never come around anymore – well, I got three kids; work’s stressing me out; I got my hands full right now… none of which are untrue, but still…

So while my first loves are all things Brasil (especially Sao Paulo Futebol Club) and Everton, I am, as a matter of decency, going to make it a point to get in there and catch some games. My son will love it.

As for the stories that were being highlighted when I last came in here… Sepp Blatter freaked people out by denying that he had resigned, and then sort of going back on it, and then being told off by everyone of consequence within global football (as well as outside of it) that he should resign, but not before Putin said he should be given the Nobel Prize. Latest news is Michel Platini will run for the post. It’s going to be an interesting scene there for ages to come…

The most overblown transfer of summer finally went through, with the evil Reds of Liberpewl netting nearly 50 million pounds in the deal. Not bad for a guy who could very well find himself on the bench for much of the next few years. Sterling, while fast and tricksey, has yet to prove himself in a proper world-caliber squad. I guess he’ll get his chance now.

It’s looking more and more likely that Angel Di Maria, who showed what a class player he was at the beginning of last season for the Red Devils, is looking like he’ll be moving over to Paris San Germain soon. There’s a good article on the Beeb as to the whys and wherefores, but the Prem will sorely miss that level of quality gracing its pitches next season, leaving many a fan and neutral wondering what could have been…

That paragon of class and understatement Jose Mourinho has once again reminded us all of why he is held in such high regard with his latest war of words… against old rival and current Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez’s wife, no less. Gotta love the guy, he is the gift that keeps on giving.

Speaking of the putrid London Blues, their obnoxious pursuit of Everton defensive linchpin John Stones has many a Toffee wondering if we will see top talent heading for the doors this summer. Rumors flying around him and midfield general James McCarthy make for uneasy reading, with kickoff for the 2015-2016 season just days away. The story is from UK’s Daily Mirror, which is, well, not exactly the bastion of journalistic excellence, but it’s not the first time we’ve heard these rumors.

The Premier league is just two weeks away from kickoff and it’s about now that the transfers begin to hot up. Of course there is too much to talk about, so I won’t try. I hope to have up the predictions for every team in the Prem before the start of the season, but that doesn’t always go off the way I wanted it to!

In a nod to local club the U’s, former Schalke 04 midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta has been training with the Philly MLS side in the last week, sparking rumors of a possible transfer to PPL Park. This is exactly the kind of talent the team need to attract and retain to see the club evolve. At 30, he is still has plenty of time left in his playing career. A full international (he’s represented his country Switzerland 75 times, with 10 goals), the experience and nous he would offer the squad would be invaluable. Reports of interest from both the Premier League (Leicester City have been tracking his progress) and La Liga (in the form of Real Betis) will be a test for the Union’s leadership, as Barnetta already implied earlier in the summer that England would be his preferred destination. We shall see, we shall see…

The weekend update, 10 March, 2014

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The sweater doesn’t work on you mate.

This is the first edition of what I hope will be a weekly feature here on the blog, the weekend update. I can’t promise I’ll cover every league out there, or indeed that I will cover the league action you love, but I will drop something in here every week. That is the goal, anyway…

There was plenty of football to watch this weekend, with the FA Cup dishing up plenty of entertainment in the form of Man City’s ignominious exit from the competition, along with the Arse dishing out some punishment to a hapless Everton side who saw the ball about as much as Ray Charles saw his audience in his playing days. Here’s hoping Wigan can do to the Gunners what they did to my beloved Toffees last year. Of course Roberto Martinez was in charge of the Latics then, and was unable to reproduce the cupset we needed to carry on in the competition. Alas… Sheffield United brought some much needed joy to Bramall Lane in the form of a deserved victory of Charlton Athletic, and the Tigers of the City of Hull -who are no longer Hull City but Hull Tigers (due to club chairman Assem Allam’s deep understanding of his team’s supporters) put a poor Sunderland to the sword. This sets up an interesting semi between the Blades and the Tigers of the Hull of City or City of Hull… large striped predatory felines? I don’t know… think it should just be Hull City like it’s been for, you know, the last one hundred years.

So we will see no Man Citeh in the semis of this venerable competition, the quad is most definitely off, but at least they can sing Blue Moon to the glittering League Cup in their trophy cabinet. Frankly, I leaves me with a deep sense of satisfaction when the very very very rich clubs shit the bed. Just saying…

In the Premier League, Man U managed to pull their finger out and win one on the road against West Brom. Poor Pepe Mel is looking only slightly less uncomfortable than David Moyes in the hot seat, where he has yet to see his team take full points in the seven games he’s been in charge… Cardiff went out and roll over the meek and submissive Fulham, who appear to be winning the race for this season’s edition of First to the Drop. Southampton pulled off a decent victory at the much-harder-to-beat-under-Tony-Pulis Crystal Palace. Here’s hoping Jay Rodriguez will be wearing Everton Blue next season… Chelsea handed Tottenham their collective asses in a 4 to nil drubbing that could have been quite a bit more and included perhaps the most brilliant goal celebration in the history of the game from the ancient Samuel Eto’o. Stoke and Norwich battled out to a draw which seems about right for that pair.

Real Madrid are liable to win this season’s La Liga, and were keen to show why as they brushed Levante aside. Barcelona are having a season to forget an slipped to defeat at the hands of Valladolid. Atletí are still in the mix though, and carried on their winning ways against Celta Vigo. But this season’s story is increasingly shaping up to be the resurgence of Real Madrid, who are finding ways to make the obscenely overpriced Gareth Bale work with Cristiano Ronaldo. Oh that the Blau Grana could do the same with Messi and Neymar.

I’d talk about the Bundesliga but yawn… except that Bayern Munich supremo Uli Hoeness admits to tax fraud of titanic (or Bismarkian?) proportions.  I’m curious to see wht kind of knock-on effect this will have at the Bavarian giants… I’d comment on Italian football, but I think Bill Wilson’s article on bbc.com does a better job than I could.

And that, my friends, is all I have time for this week. Hope to give a little updatey thing tomorrow after the wrap up of some Champions League footie. Happy viewing friends and we’ll see you back here soon.