Friday, 23 September 2011

Scout and about - Shaun Wright Phillips

When our resident Scout comes into the office on a Monday morning, he usually brings with him tales of young, new, little known players he has seen on his weekends away.  Royston Drenthe @ Everton, RubĂ©n Rochina with Blackburn or Paul Pogba @ Old Trafford amongst others have all had him salivating into his first hot cuppa and cheeky Hob Nob of the day.
So this week when the name Shaun Wright-Phillips was on every one's lips we thought we'd heard it all before. But with his early season form and promise of regular first team football, SWP could about to be a player revitalised.

Arriving @ Loftus Road as the transfer window had started to creak to a close, Shaun faced an on the spot interview from the Sky Sports Reporter who had taken up squatting rights there that particular evening and it was clear for all to see that he really didn't want to leave Manchester, but with the only other option that of getting splinters on his bum from warming the City bench, he decided the time was right to leave the club he loved and played for twice for a new life in West London.

Now 29 years of age it's fair to say that he wasn't helped in his first few seasons at Maine Road by lack of stability at the club, going through managers like a dose of salts and the added bonus of relegation probably didn't help.
But after breaking into the side under Kevin Keegan he became a fans favourite winning the 'Young Player of the Year' award on four successive occasions. It was then that he first appeared in an England shirt and attracted the attention of Chelsea, who paid £21m for his services.

Once again managerial turmoil at a club hindered his career, add to that this time the owners need for instant success and SWP was once again on the periphery of things. During his time he did however continue to appear and score for his country.
Inevitably really after one managerial shake up too many he fell out of favour completely and was granted a return to the Sky Blues.

Without taking anything away from QPR something SWP is more likely to get now is first team football and of course if a player is playing week in week out their confidence and form improves. This could lead to a return to the England set up where his bustling, energetic approach has earned him praise on International Duty in the past.
England have had their fair share of wingers trying to stake a claim for a regular spot in the team, but even if the early season form of Ashley Young has made him a first choice, there is still a place on the other flank there for the taking.
Let's hope for Shaun's sake that the recent  takeover @ The Hoops doesn't mean a case of history repeating and that this new start isn't another false dawn.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Twits, twats and transfers.....

Since the advent of the Transfer Windows back in 2002, much has been debated on it's merits, once upon a time when life was simpler clubs could buy and sell throughout the season right up until the final week. Nowadays teams have roughly two months at the start of the season and a month mid season to get their squads straight.

With Sir Alex Ferguson safely tucked up in bed with a wee dram and a copy of The Racing Post, every other manager was tearing their hair out on what has become for some, one of the most dreaded time's of the season.

With Manchester United getting their business done early, you can't help wondering why other clubs couldn't follow suit? Along with Liverpool new players were coming in almost as soon the Red Devils lifted the Premiership trophy and it does also make me wonder how those deals were done so fast, I'm not suggesting tapping up but maybe players' agents are more accommodating when it comes to helping their clients move to The Champions......
You can't help thinking that Sky Sports had some say in the window's invention - maybe that's one for the conspiracy theorists, but they certainly do try and get their moneys worth out of the clubs involved.

With cameramen and reporters posted @ just about every football/training ground in the country it was left to an ever excitable (this time of year) Jim White to direct the proceedings.
Tottenham, Aresnal, QPR and Stoke City became the places to be if you were looking for an exclusive, and faithful (my definition = a little odd) fans had camped out all day for a glimpse of a new arrival like an expectant Dad waiting for their bundle of joy (obviously without getting too involved with all the messy stuff)
Arsenal had just come off the back of a drubbing by Manchester United and Arsene Wenger (he of deep pockets and short arms) was under pressure from the fans, directors, media and just about everyone really to get his cheque book out, the on/off Fabregas move was done and dusted (he was always going home wasn't he?) and Samir Nasri had bolted for the door at the first whiff of Manchester City's wonga - sorry I meant Champions League football.....
Spurs' last minute swoop for VDV that surprised everyone (even the manager) last August was the reason for the camera's outside their training ground as well as the other on/off transfer saga of the summer - that of Luka Modric.
QPR meanwhile newly taken over, had money to spend and following the arrival of rebel without a clause Joey Barton more was expected to follow. And Stoke City........erm well I'm not too sure about that one!

Maybe the evening wasn't the night of high drama we'd hoped for, but Sky did their best to build up the tension, nailed on transfers such as Scott Parker's move to Spurs suddenly were in jeopardy and rival teams were ready to pounce, the tried and tested story of a player in a helicopter ready to fly from one end of the country to the other was briefly mooted with a tug of war going on between Fulham & Newcastle Utd for Bryan Ruiz.
The big name signing for Arsenal was Michel Arteta, the fans cheered as if it were Fabregas back again and when Yossi Benyauon completed his loan move they cheered some more, it was almost like a Big Brother eviction show!
The only real surprise was that Owen Hargreaves was pictured leaving a hospital in Manchester not on crutches but because the unattached midfielder had just passed his medical for Manchester City.
The twists and turns weren't very twisty - or turny for that matter.....and when Harry Redknapp was stopped on is way out of the Spurs training ground on his way home, he was really going home, Kaka would have to wait until January.
The big failing of any of Sky's reporters was to ask the most important question of all "Why leave it so late??"

My own highlights of the evening were;

SWP having a microphone stuck into his face literally seconds after joining QPR and then having to hastily come up with a reason he was so pleased to be coming to the club (when obviously the real reason he came was because his old club didn't want him!)

Tom Huddlestone & Danny Rose @ Spurs using Twitter to add their own spin on their clubs transfer dealings - cue the start of the Kaka to Tottenham rumours that a Sky Sports reporter would later stoke up again during the evening.

Aresnal on the red side of London turning the air blue was a low point, but one cheeky fan almost made up for it with a timely response to Arteta being referred to as being a father figure by quipping "Yeah like my Dad!"

Stoke fans reaction to just about anything, even the arrival of Wilson Palacious!

Anyway that's my take on the window, how about yours? Leave us a comment below or let me know on the page as always we welcome your views..........