It’s hard to believe that it’s August already but with the summer break drawing to a close, football is back on the menu once again with most leagues kicking off this month. Europa League and Champions League qualifiers have already begun whilst international friendlies like the much anticipated Scotland vs. England match at Wembley thrown in for good measure. But before we can start to look forward, in time honored tradition, BOTN is looking back at the month that has past – July. And what a month it was!
Speculation around the future’s of two of the Premierships biggest stars, Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale reached fever pitch last month, with both rumored to be leaving for pastures new. Jose Mourinho wasted no time since coming back to the league with Chelsea to upset Manchester United and new boss David Moyes by suggesting Rooney is wasted at Old Trafford and should move to Stamford Bridge. It was enough to unsettle the petulant player who is now in a huff with United who won’t let him do what he wants. It’s a similar situation at Tottenham with Daniel Levy standing firm in front of the exit door that Gareth Bale is trying to walk out of. With Real Madrid pulling from the other side, Levy is stalling to make sure he gets as much capital as possible for the Welsh Winger before he allows the move to happen. Unlike Rooney, Bale is acting graciously and has refused to issue a formal transfer request but has had secret talks with manager Andre Villas Boas and Levy to tell them about his desire to move to the Bernabeau. One player who has already engineered his move away from the English leagues is the troublesome Djibril Cisse who ended his stay with QPR to join Russian side, FC Kuban Krasnodar. It’s his tenth move of his career and the seventh country he has played in so far that has lead to any questioning if it’s a language or an attitude problem that has resulted in Cisse’s stays at various clubs being limited to less than two seasons.
It has been a fairly hectic transfer window for most clubs this summer, with the noticeable exception of one Newcastle United. With Joe Kinnear now fully settled in and the media circus around that almost dying down, attention should be turned to signing players. But unfortunately for Alan Pardew and the Geordie faithful, there have been more exits than arrivals at St James Park than the squad can cope with. Simpson, Harper, Perch, Moyo and Abeid have all left with only 16 year old French midfielder Olivier Kemen arriving. Frustration is not the word for Pardew, as he continues to wait to see if Kinnear is actually going to prove to be any value to the club this summer. If nothing happens, Pardew may resign and join Guus Hiddink on the unemployed list, following the Dutchman’s sensational resignation from Anzhi just a day after Tito Vilanova left his Barcelona hot seat for medical grounds. It seemed like a certainty that Hiddink would get the nod, but the Catalan club surprised many by announcing Argentine Gerardo Martino as their new boss. Martino has a tough job on his hands but with a glittering squad, he should succeed in La Liga. Over in Serie A, one team looking to succeed is tiny Sussuolo who are gearing up for their first ever season in Italy’s top flight after winning promotion from Serie B as champions. It was a fantastic group effort by the players who can now look forward to a selection of David vs. Goliath challenges against the likes of Juventus, AC Milan and Roma.
Also making the news last month was the retirement of the voice of Football – James Alexander Gordon from the BBC after surgery on his throat meant that he was unable to continue his job announcing the football results. Gordon had gained legendary status with fans across the UK for his approach and style in reading the results with celebrity fans like the late Eric Morecambe praising his technique. We said goodbye to another legend last month, with the death of former Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann. The tall German was known for his heroics during the 1956 Cup final where he played the last 17 minutes of the game with a broken neck. He made a host of last ditch saves as City held on to win the Cup by 3-1. Trautmann was an inspiration to many young goalkeepers including Arsenal’s Bob Wilson and recently to current City stopper Joe Hart.
Finally, BOTN covered the issues that concern the modern game with several Nigeria players suspended after two matches played on the same day ending with score lines of 79-0 and 67-0. An investigation uncovered match rigging ties to all four clubs involved as well as the officials and some ground staff in another black mark for Nigerian football. We also looked at the crippling financial implications of chasing the Champions League dream, with clubs like Rangers, Leeds and now AEK Athens paying for past expenditures. Whilst the larger teams grew in size and financial wealth, the chasing pack overspent beyond their budgets on players who were capable of competing in the Champions League, now with disastrous results. On a plus note, we did take a look at rising Austrian star Martin Hinteregger who scored a stunning goal in a pre season friendly as well as looking at the best way to pick your fantasy football team for the new season. Quite a month overall!
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