Alex Chick

  • Footballers are people too

    One
    of the summer's more left-field transfers went through on Tuesday when Robbie
    Keane left Tottenham for LA Galaxy.

    For
    a player aged 31, who said a few months ago he had "four or five
    years" left at the top, it seemed like a rum old move.

    Why,
    the critics asked, would he abandon all pretence at being a serious footballer
    in favour of chasing some ridiculous Hollywood folly?

    Why
    wouldn't he knuckle down and join a proper Premier League club like Bolton,
    Blackburn or Stoke?

    There
    is concern in Ireland that the poor standard of play might adversely affect
    Keane's national team performances.

    Read More »from Footballers are people too
  • Cesc a far bigger loss than Nasri

    Arsenal appear set to lose their battle to keep both Cesc
    Fabregas and Samir Nasri, but how much will the pair be missed?

    Gunners captain Fabregas is on the brink of a long-awaited
    move to Barcelona, while Nasri's refusal to sign a new contract means he may
    soon be a Manchester City player.

    How their departures affects the side depends on the players
    brought in to replace them - Shakhtar Donetsk's Jadson is the latest to be linked,
    while Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are long-standing targets.

    But it is worth analysing Arsenal's performance last season
    to see the respective impact of Fabregas and

    Read More »from Cesc a far bigger loss than Nasri
  • United find possible heir to Neville

    While Gary Neville watched the Community Shield from a TV studio, Chris Smalling staked his claim to be the Manchester United legend's heir.

    Neville's retirement in mid-season earlier this year was greeted with nothing like the fanfare accorded to Paul Scholes and even Edwin van der Sar.

    In his latter years, Neville became a parody of himself. A Mancunian rabble-rouser deployed to wind up opposing players and fans, but not much use on the pitch.

    But his hate-figure status must not overshadow what a fine player he was - earlier this summer, he was overwhelmingly voted the best right-back in

    Read More »from United find possible heir to Neville
  • European draw live chat

    Welcome to the live Champions League and Europa League chat!

    Join me from 11am UK time for live coverage and discussion of the play-off draws for both UEFA competitions.

    Arsenal await their Champions League play-off opponents, while there is plenty of British and Irish interest in the Europa League, with Tottenham, Fulham, Birmingham, Stoke, Hearts, Rangers, Celtic and Shamrock Rovers all going into the hat.

    Read More »from European draw live chat
  • Premier League predictions

    Glorified kickabout it may be, but Sunday's Community Shield heralds
    the return of top-flight football after what feels like an age.

    Even if neither side tries particularly hard, and it goes to
    penalties for the fourth time in five years, the Traditional Curtain RaiserTM has
    got me giddy as a schoolgirl about the season ahead.

    The proper Premier League previews are coming in a five-part
    extravaganza every day next week, while we've got our Football League previews
    on the site already (League One here,
    League Two here,
    Championship tomorrow)

    But, in the spirit of unlimited possibility that comes

    Read More »from Premier League predictions
  • Barton is perfect for Manchester United

    Samir Nasri unavailable? Luka Modric too expensive? Wesley
    Sneijder's wage demands too high?

    No problem.

    The player Manchester United should sign to fill the Paul
    Scholes-shaped hole in midfield is available on a free transfer.

    Step forward Joseph Barton. Newcastle United's player of the
    season and the best English midfielder in the Premier League (by his
    estimation, at least).

    Now I hardly need to go into great detail about Barton's
    chequered past - let's just stick with the following aides-memoire: Cigar.
    Brawl. Moon. Autobiography. Dabo. Etuhu. McDonald's. Prison. Shearer. Twitter.

    What

    Read More »from Barton is perfect for Manchester United
  • Why aren’t English clubs better?

    I wanted to write a blog about the declining financial muscle of
    English clubs, because it felt to me that in recent years the Premier League has
    struggled to compete in the transfer market.

    This summer in particular has seen plenty of big-money transfers
    within the division - Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson - but
    relatively few major imports.

    When I checked the facts, however, my hunch was blown out of the
    water. The numbers told a story of unfettered economic might and spending on an
    epic scale.

    In the last 10 seasons, the Premier League's net transfer spend
    has been a colossal

    Read More »from Why aren’t English clubs better?
  • Torres’s choking problem

    Back
    in April, I wrote about Fernando Torres's struggles, insisting he is far from
    finished at the top level and suggesting the root lay in Chelsea's tactics.

    But following a dispiriting outing in today's 1-0 friendly win against a weak
    Malaysia All-Star side, it is hard not to conclude that Torres's problems exist
    overwhelmingly inside his own head.

    Tactically,
    Chelsea were set up perfectly for their number nine - he played through the
    middle, with good support from Salomon Kalou and Florent Malouda, and no Didier
    Drogba.

    It
    was as though Andre Villas-Boas's top priority from the game was to

    Read More »from Torres’s choking problem
  • Is showboating acceptable?

    United Arab
    Emirates winger Thiyab Awana has enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame after
    his bizarre penalty against Lebanon went viral.

    Awana approached
    the ball as normal, before spinning 180 degrees and backheeling the ball past a
    bewildered Lebanese goalkeeper.

    The internet
    might have loved it, but his manager Srecko Katanec certainly didn't,
    immediately hauling off Awana, who had just come on as a sub.

    Afterwards, Katanec
    explained: "This penalty, I didn't like it. We must respect players from
    other teams. In future you don't know what football will give you
    back," Katanec said after the game.

    Read More »from Is showboating acceptable?
  • Cesc should show Arsenal some respect

    "If a player is on the market it is because the club does
    not want him."

    So said Cesc Fabregas yesterday when asked about his impending
    move from Arsenal to Barcelona.

    "The club does not want him." Really?

    It was a pretty low blow, thwacked into the breadbasket of a team
    that have spent years repelling Barca's aggressive pursuit of Fabregas.

    They did everything in their power to keep him happy, including ill-advisedly
    appointing him as captain - a decision that inadvertently shifted the focus
    from his exceptional play to his unexceptional leadership skills.

    Now, after several summers of

    Read More »from Cesc should show Arsenal some respect