Does Wayne Rooney deserve to be captain against San Marino?

Wayne Rooney has been named as England captain for the next qualifier against San Marino but is he the right choice?

With Steven Gerrard ruled out of the game through suspension, manager Roy Hodgson had to make a decision on who should lead the team out and maybe he decided to give it to the Manchester United striker as a bit of a confidence boost. He hasn’t made the greatest starts to the season as he has suffered with a few injuries and has had to play second fiddle to summer signing Robin Van Persie so maybe he is feeling as though he is not the top man anymore at Old Trafford. If, Hodgson has give him the armband for this reason, to make him still feel like he is the best English player then it is quite good man management because it is the first time in a number of years that he hasn’t been the main striker at club level.

But does he actually deserve to be captain? He has matured over the years but he can still be a liability at times as all England fans found out when he was suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012 which meant a lot of people didn’t even want him to go to the tournament. Looking back, he probably shouldn’t have because he was very poor and it meant that players that had just started to get a bit of form in their game were dropped, in particular, Andy Carroll, who seemed to have a good understanding with Danny Welbeck and it could have been the start of a good partnership.

However, he is experienced and has 75 caps so there is no doubting his commitment to England and everyone knows that when he pulls on the shirt and give 100%. Plus, you have to consider the fact that both Gerrard and Frank Lampard are out so the obvious choices are not available. Maybe, this was the only real appointment Hodgson could have made, and he is partly to blame for it but it is the players’ faults that they won’t have this honour. Rio Ferdinand isn’t in the squad anymore because of ‘footballing reasons’ according to Hodgson but we all know it is because he backed John Terry over him and I’m not calling Terry a racist but he said a racist term and was rightfully in the end found guilty by the FA, and because of this Terry quit England so that leaves Hodgson with even less options.

Ashley Cole was linked with the role to mark his 100th cap but because of his tweet I don’t think Hodgson would be allowed by the FA to make him captain, even if he really wanted to. So, that doesn’t leave England with many options as there isn’t really anyone else in the squad that has been a captain at club level never mind internationally. Possibly, the only other real alternative to Rooney is actually Joe Hart and that is simply because he is the only guaranteed starter for club and country every week.

So what do you think? Does Rooney deserve the armband or was he the only real option under the circumstances?

 

Why Andy Carroll failed at Anfield and shouldn’t go back

Andy Carroll has started his career at West Ham with an almost perfect debut against Fulham but will this only be a short stay at the club?

It is now believed that Liverpool have the opportunity to recall Carroll in January if they want and it would make sense if they did because they didn’t bring anyone in to replace him. They tried but unfortunately could not get Clint Dempsey on deadline day and are now only left with Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez as recognised experienced strikers. Borini, is new to the Premier League and may take time to settle and for some reason has been played over on the right wing in the last few games instead of down the middle where he will surely get more chances to open his Premier League account. Then they have Suarez who misses a lot of chances, there is no doubting his ability when he isn’t complaining and is focused on his own performance rather than arguing with officials and diving around. So, Liverpool will definitely need another striker in January even if they do sign Michael Owen who is still a free agent and in the last few days has been linked with a move back to Merseyside. But will Andy Carroll be the right option?

In my opinion, no I think they should just cut their losses and get rid of Carroll permanently as sometimes a player just doesn’t work out a club and this is exactly what has happened here. He has a lot of talent and when he is used properly as the main point of an attack then he will create chances and cause problems for the opposing defence like he did against Fulham. He will never succeed at Liverpool because I believe he will never be used right. Firstly, it is because the fans will demand the ball to be played around, instead of hoofed forward and they will want to see their better passers involved in the play such as Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Luis Suarez so even though the fans supported him, they were never wanting to see their team play to his strengths. Another reason he won’t succeed in the future is because of current manager Brendan Rodgers who I think would have given him the chance but he also does not want to see players pumping the ball into the box from the fullback positions as West Ham and Newcastle United were willing to do in the past. Rodgers would rather see his left back and right back pass it back to the centre back if there is no other option on.

I can’t see him playing in a Liverpool shirt again and West Ham will definitely profit from his signing and he could lead their front line for a number of years. Kevin Nolan will also be thankful for this signing and he will score more goals now as he seems to just know how to play with Carroll. Also, Matt Jarvis’ signing makes a lot more sense now and I can see him getting a lot of assists this year.

Game, Team and Player of Matchday 3

Arsenal continued their great defensive start to the season with yet another clean sheet at Anfield which has left Liverpool in the bottom three along with pointless Southampton and QPR. There are still eight teams without a victory though so none of the teams should be worried at this stage. Somewhat surprisingly Tottenham Hotspur are one of these teams and after two draws in a row is the pressure already building on Andre Villas Boas? Aston Villa picked up their first points with a draw against Newcastle United which will make Paul Lambert feel a lot better and Stoke City picked up their third draw out of three so it is looking like it could be another midtable finish for them already.

But, now onto team of the weekend, Arsenal deserve great credit for the way they conducted themselves at Liverpool and were the better team throughout, creating the better chances and finishing them off superbly, while also being very tight at the back and not allowing their oppositions flair players to have a major impact on the game which has not always been the case in the past. Norwich City picking up a point at White Hart Lane is a fantastic achievement (they did win there last year I know) but they are expected to struggle a lot this year and hadn’t shown enough to suggest that they were going to be as good as last season. But, they battled and probably should have won the game in all honesty so they deserve a lot of praise and if they can perform like this for the rest of the season they will stay up. Newly promoted West Ham are not expected to struggle this year but not many will have expected them to have disposed of a confident Fulham side so easily. Debutant Andy Carroll looked very happy and within a minute he had a positive impact and the team never looked like losing from there. However, my team of the week has to be West Brom, they have started their season fantastically and their performance against an inform Everton was very good. I personally didn’t expect the Baggies to start this well and they know it is only three games in but they already have seven points on the board so this could be an interesting season for them.

There were some standout performers this weekend with Robin Van Persie scoring a hatrick but unfortunately for him, even though he did win the match for Manchester United against Southampton, I am not giving him the player of the weekend simply because of his awful penalty. His movement was great and all three of his goals were different and showed how good of a striker he is (if that was ever in doubt). Another new signing impressed this weekend and that was Steven Fletcher who scored twice for Sunderland against Swansea City and although his first was gifted to him he still had to finish it and that wasn’t easy at all. The price Sunderland paid for him may have been slightly over the top but if he can get them between 15 and 20 goals then it could turn out to be one of the best signings of the season. My player of the weekend goes to Brad Friedel who must have been feeling the pressure after Hugo Lloris was signed on transfer deadline day but the 41 year old produced the goods and kept Tottenham in the game, pulling off save after save including two spectacular ones. He couldn’t do anything about the goal and it would be a real shame if he was dropped after this performance.

Finally, game of the weekend is a difficult one to choose as always because the game at the Liberty Stadium between Swansea and Sunderland had everything, including goals, red cards, mistakes and injuries. Sunderland took the lead twice through two Steven Fletcher goals but were pegged back each time with Wayne Routledge and Michu grabbing the goals for the Swans. Chico was sent off for a ridiculous challenge on Louis Saha and was rightly sent off. It was a fiery game and a draw was probably the right result in the end. Wigan against Stoke may not have been a game that caught many people’s attentions but in my opinion it was really entertaining and had a lot of drama in it, with two converted penalties and a lot of chances for either side with Franco Di Santo and Peter Crouch also scoring to make it 2-2. Plus, the save of the season from Ali Al Habsi made it a very fascinating game to watch. But, the match of the weekend has to go to Southampton and Manchester United because they produced an epic game which could have went either way. The away side pinched in injury time but it could have been very different. Rickie Lambert opened the scoring but when Van Persie scored his first everyone expected it to be a rout and Fergie’s men to walk it but a slip from Patrice Evra allowed Morgan Schneiderlin to get free and put the Saints back in front. But the runners up from last season never lie down and came back to win like they have done on so many occasions over the years.

Who do you think should have got the player, game and team of the weekend?

If Andy Carroll leaves Liverpool who would sign him?

Andy Carroll could be on his way out of Anfield this summer if the rumours are to be believed and a lot of clubs may be interested in his services.

Carroll has scored 2 goals in 7 games for England

The Geordie striker hasn’t had a great time at Liverpool, missing chances and performing poorly in general which has made everyone wonder why former manager Kenny Dalglish paid £35 million for him? In his 56 games as a Liverpool player he has only scored 11 goals but should that put teams off trying to buy him or get him in on loan? In my opinion, no because he showed at Euro 2012 he does have a lot of qualities and can be a good player. Maybe he has struggled because of the pressure of the huge price tag, which should never have been paid for him anyway, or it could just simply be, he isn’t the right fit for the club and this does happen quite often. He’s a powerful striker that on his day can cause any defenders in Europe problems and just needs a manager that will give him some confidence. It is not clear whether he will leave but new manager Brendan Rodgers, only likes to play one up front and with Luis Suarez and new signing Fabio Borini most likely ahead of Carroll in the pecking order it could be time for him to move on.

Newcastle United will always be linked with Carroll, probably for the rest of his career because of the affection he has for the club and his previous performances for them, however, I would be shocked to see this happen as when he left there were conflicting stories on why he joined Liverpool. He said he was forced to leave and some people in the Toon camp claimed he was going to put in a transfer request if they didn’t allow him to leave. Obviously things would need to be patched up before a move is even thought about but with Demba Ba’s future still unclear and Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands leaving the club in the summer, he could be the perfect signing.

West Ham United are also linked with the striker and it wouldn’t surprise me if this rumour was true, manager Sam Allardyce likes to play with a big striker that can hold up the ball for his team and Carroll has all these attributes. In my opinion, he is better than Carlton Cole and will get more goals than him if he joined. With rumours of Ricardo Vaz Te being unhappy, they need another striker and a loan option could work out perfectly for both Liverpool and the Hammers. However, his wages could be a deciding factor, I am not sure whether West Ham would be able to afford his wages at present. One thing that does work in their advantage is that Carroll and their captain Kevin Nolan seem to be good friends and this could sway his decision to join the club.

Finally, the next Premier League club linked with him is Fulham and I am a little surprised at this because he doesn’t seem like a Martin Jol type of player but they do seem to be in desperate need of a striker with them losing Bobby Zamora, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Andy Johnson and Orland Sa in the last two transfer windows. With less pressure on his shoulders at Fulham he could be a fantastic signing and fulfil his potential and possibly even guide the club towards a European place.

Which clubs should be interested in signing Klaas Jan Huntelaar?

Klaas Jan Huntelaar has been linked with a move away from his current club Schalke and a lot of Premier League clubs will be interested in his services.

Huntelaar has scored 31 goals in 56 games for Holland

The Dutch striker didn’t have the best of times at the European Championships playing second fiddle to Robin Van Persie but that shouldn’t worry potential suitors as he had a fantastic season at club level scoring 48 goals in just 47 games which is a remarkable record. The 28 year old has played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe including Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan so he will not be fazed by joining any of the big teams in England. Personally I believe that at these clubs he was never really given a chance and if he was his goal scoring record would be even more impressive, at Real Madrid he only scored 8 goals in 20 games but he only started 13 of these and it was a similar story at Milan where he only got 7 goals in 25 games. He has proved he can score goals at all levels and I would love to see him in the Premier League.

The favourites to sign him would have to be Manchester United as he would fit into their style of play and I am sure winger Antonio Valencia would love to play with him as he is a striker that likes to attack the ball in the box and doesn’t mind putting his head in where it hurts. With the number of crosses the team puts in, Huntelaar could easily get 20 goals if he is first choice. With Dimitar Berbatov’s future at Old Trafford in doubt, I think Man United need another proven goal scorer to play alongside Wayne Rooney. Danny Welbeck has potential but he showed last season he isn’t always on his game and Javier Hernandez not quite replicating his first season form last year, Sir Alex Ferguson may just want to bolster his attacking options.

Liverpool are also linked with Huntelaar and he could easily strike up a good partnership with Luis Suarez. However the Uruguayan’s future at the club is also in doubt and he may be on his way this summer. I don’t see this as a bad thing and Huntelaar would be an ideal replacement, plus he may fit into new manager Brendan Rodgers’ style of play. He usually only plays one up front and he can play this role very well as he can hold up the ball very effectively. He is a lot better than Andy Carroll, so if they can sign him, it would be the end of the Geordies’ career at Anfield.

Finally, Tottenham Hotspur should definitely be looking at him as they only have one recognised striker in their squad at the minute in Jermain Defoe so they need more firepower for next season. They had Emmanuel Adebayor on loan last season but to sign him permanently they would have to pay his huge wage which they don’t seem to want to. Huntelaar, in my opinion is a better player anyway and would give them more than Adebayor. Plus his national teammate Rafael Van Der Vaart would help him settle in and would already have an understanding with him.

Who will Peter Lovenkrands sign for?

Peter Lovenkrands is looking for a new club after being released by Newcastle United and will be hoping to stay in the Premier League.

Lovenkrands scored 29 goals in 84 games for Newcastle

The Geordies loved Lovenkrands and he obviously enjoyed playing in front of them and leaves the club with a heavy heart as he has given them a lot over the years he has been there and nobody can ever question his loyalty. The Danish striker was very important to the team especially in the Championship where he scored 16 goals in all competitions and was a very effective partner for Andy Carroll. One of his goals that will probably be remembered most was the one against West Brom in a 2-2 draw as he had just returned from Denmark after hearing the about the death of his father. The celebration will live long in my memory and I’m sure most people in the stadium will not forget it as you could see how much it meant to him to score for his father. His chances in the Premier League were limited but he will always be considered a fans favourite in my opinion.

So where will he go next? Does he still have a future in the Premier League? Personally, I don’t think he is still good enough for the Premier League however with Chris Hughton just getting the job at Norwich City he may just get another chance. Hughton got the best out of him at Newcastle and they obviously had a very good relationship during their time on Tyneside. Lovenkrands would be a different option for them to Grant Holt and Steve Morison and has more experience than Simeon Jackson in the Premier League. Plus, Grant Holt doesn’t seem happy at the minute so he could be on his way this summer. I think he would be a decent addition to the squad but he doesn’t quite fit into their usual transfer targets however Paul Lambert is no longer the manager so they may go in a different direction.

Another option for him could be Southampton as they do not have much Premier League experience in their strike force. He could prove to be a good partner for Rickie Lambert who is a big striker and likes to hold up the ball for people to run off him. One thing Lovenkrands still has, is his movement and he will get himself into good positions and with Southampton having some very good playmakers in their squad like Adam Lallana, he could be just what they need. They do have Billy Sharp but I am unsure whether he will be able to score enough goals in the Premier League.

Finally, Aston Villa may also be interested in his services as they struggled to score goals last season and they didn’t have enough options after Darren Bent got injured with Gabriel Agbonlahor playing a lot out wide under Alex McLeish. The only thing that may make this move not work out is that new manager Paul Lambert would rather go for a younger player and they will be the favourites to sign Holt if he does get the chance to leave Norwich. However, he is a free transfer and this should work in his advantage, I really hope Lovenkrands gets a new club and I’m sure if he gets to play against Newcastle the crowd will give him a fantastic reception as they appreciate all that he has done for the club.

Players of the day- Franck Ribery and Theo Walcott

Sweden are the second team to be knocked out of Euro2012 after their 3-2 defeat to England while France beat Ukraine.

The first game was suspended after the fourth minute because of terrible weather conditions and it eventually got under way almost an hour later. The first half saw both teams come close but neither could really take control of the game, although France had more of the possession they couldn’t quite carve the Ukrainian defence open. However, early in the second half the game was all but over after two goals in three minutes from Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye. Both goals were finished off brilliantly after some wonderful passing. Cabaye deserved his goal and once again was sublime in the centre of the midfield and along with Andrea Pirlo, has been the most consistent player in the tournament. Ukraine had a few half chances but couldn’t find a way past Hugo Lloris in the French goal.

Man of the match- Franck Ribery- The Bayern Munich winger was in and out of the game but whenever he had the ball he frightened the life out of the Ukraine defenders. His pace was crucial in the first goal and he looked the most likely all through the first half to open the scoring. France’s other flair players were slightly disappointing in my opinion with Samir Nasri never getting out of first gear and Menez being very wasteful at times. Ribery was the one that added some much needed creativity to the game and outshone the rest.

Ribery made his international debut in 2006

England managed to beat Sweden in a thrilling game with both teams pushing forward for the win. Andy Carroll gave them the lead with a good header from an accurate cross from Steven Gerrard and England seemed in control without every really posing a threat. The second half was very different as the Swedes knew that defeat would mean they were eliminated from the competition and when Glen Johnson couldn’t clear an Olof Mellberg shot, they looked confident and were forcing the issue a lot more and then Mellberg once again popped up from a free kick to score a header. This left the England fans with a feeling of oh no not again but Roy Hodgson made a positive substitution and brought on Theo Walcott who scored with one of his first touches. Goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson should have done a lot better though. The winner was scored by Danny Welbeck who flicked in a Walcott cross with an inventive effort that not many other players would have been able to pull off or even try.

Man of the match- Theo Walcott- He may not have been on the pitch for that long but he changed the game and proved to be the difference between the sides. James Milner hadn’t been able to get much out of the fullback Martin Olsson but he looked awful against Walcott. His goal may not have been the best but at least he had a try and it lifted everyone. For the Welbeck goal he was vital as he picked up the ball and was very direct, driving at the defence and pulling the ball across for the Manchester United striker. He may not have been involved a lot but when he did have the ball he caused problems and maybe will get a chance to start in the next game.

Walcott now has four goal for England

Who will Salomon Kalou play for next season?

Just days after winning the Champions League Salomon Kalou has left Chelsea and is in search for a new club.

Kalou has scored 36 Premier League goals

The 26 year old has been at Chelsea since the 2006-07 season and scored 58 goals in 244 games for the club which isn’t a bad record for a player that was often used from the bench. In his first season, he played the most matches he would as he played 57 times and contributed nine goals as well as 10 assists. For the next four seasons he was very consistent and hit at least 10 goals, including the 2009-10 season when he got 12 goals in 36 appearances. But for some reason this season he never really got going and under Andre Villas-Boas he was rarely used. He only played 24 times and got five goals but one of these was very crucial as he scored the only goal of the game away to Benfica in the quarter final of the Champions League.

Maybe it is the right time for him to move on as he was getting used less often and maybe was behind Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge in the pecking order for the two wide positions, especially in the Premier League. So if he wanted to stay at England where would he go? He could sign for London rivals Arsenal as they could fit his style of play. He likes to get the ball out wide and cut inside so he would do a good job for them on the wings but it may be difficult for him to stamp his authority on the team especially with the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and new signing Lukas Podolski able to play in similar positions. He would definitely add another threat but he may not be happy as he may not be first choice but it would still be a good move in my opinion.

Tottenham Hotspur have also been linked with him and if they lose key players this summer in particular Gareth Bale they will need to replace them. At times in the season  just gone Spurs looked a little weak on the wings especially when Aaron Lennon got injured. Rafael Van Der Vaart looks a lot more comfortable playing in the hole behind the striker rather than on the wing so I think Kalou could be a very good signing for the club. He arguably has a better final ball than Lennon so could even take his place and with Bale on one side, Kalou on the other, Van Der Vaart and the main striker will certainly get a lot of balls to attack in the box as well as benefit from clever through balls.

Finally, Liverpool could be interested in signing him as they have looked poor in the midfield area this season with Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing not living up to their price tags and were in all honestly not good enough for Liverpool. He can play on the left or the right and would link up well with both of their strikers. He could feed off Andy Carroll’s knock downs and also combine well with Luis Suarez on the floor. With Dirk Kuyt’s future unclear he would be a fantastic replacement and score around the same amount of goals a season.

I think he should join Tottenham and help them secure a Champions League spot next season because I think they would be a good fit for each other and under Harry Redknapp’s guidance he could become an even better player.

Who will Dimitar Berbatov play for next season?

Dimitar Berbatov’s time at Manchester United looks like it is coming to an end this summer with him not featuring as much as he would like in the season just gone.

Berbatov has also scored 48 goals in 77 appearances

But is his time in England coming to an end? He has a really good record in England and has performed quite well for both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. When he signed for Spurs he was well known in Germany after scoring 91 goals in 201 appearances at Bayer Leverkusen and after his first season in England he was one of the most feared strikers in the country. He scored 23 goals in both his seasons at Tottenham and formed a very good partnership with Robbie Keane. He was often criticised by fans because he was seen as lazy and not very interested but his quality was never in doubt and he showed amazing composure at times and deserved his move to a team challenging for the title in my opinion.

At Manchester United, he won two Premier League titles and even finished up as the league’s top scorer in the 2010-11 season after hitting 20 goals in 32 games. Apart from that season though he didn’t quite hit the heights and only got 56 goals in all competitions for the club. However last season it was really surprising that he wasn’t used more as he got 7 goals in 12 Premier League games, when they needed a goal in a game I don’t understand why he wasn’t given more of a chance.

It is more than likely that he will leave England and go back abroad but if he doesn’t, who would have him in the Premier League? The first team that may be interested in his services could be Liverpool as they have struggled to put away their chances these years, and he would surely add more than what Andy Carroll has. A problem could be whether Sir Alex Ferguson will sell a player to Liverpool, he basically refused to sell Gabriel Heinze to them a few years ago. Another problem could be whether the new manager would want him and also how he would get him to play alongside Luis Suarez as they are both quite similar and like to drop deep.

Newcastle United could also be interested in Berbatov and I think he would be interested in joining the Magpies as his idol was Alan Shearer and he used to sleep in a Toon shirt so I’m sure he would like to play for them at some point. They are in Europe and they may have to replace Demba Ba this summer if he leaves as all the rumours are saying. The price tag could put the club off and the fact that he is getting towards the end of his career will put Alan Pardew off. I think it would be a good signing but not likely to happen.

A return to Tottenham could be on the cards as they will be in need of a striker as they may not be able to keep hold of Emmanuel Adebayor. I don’t think his wages would be as high as the Manchester City striker either so he could be a very good option but I’m not sure he would fit into their style of play anymore as they like their main striker to be a bit more of target man.

Berbatov can still do a good job in the Premier League but he will probably go abroad to a team like PSG or even be included in a swap deal for a Borussia Dortmund as Manchester United have been linked with a few of their players like Shinji Kagawa and Robert Lewandowski so that could be very good deal for both clubs.

Should Grant Holt be in the England team and go to the Euros?

Grant Holt has had a fantastic season and is currently the second top English scorer in the Premier League so does he deserve to be in the England squad?

Grant Holt has scored over 150 goals in his career

In my opinion, yes he does, I would take whoever is scoring the goals and whoever is on form and right now is there a better striker than Holt. Wayne Rooney is obviously the best English striker but will be missing for the first two games of the tournament so England need another option. Peter Crouch has been coming into form at just the right time but he has already been tried at an international tournament and I am sure a lot of England fans want the team to go in a different direction and try out new players especially when it seems that they are not very optimistic about their chances of winning the tournament which is quite strange seen as though England are usually one of the favourites.

Holt had the chance to impress the favourite to take over as England manager in Harry Redknapp in Norwich’s last game and he yet again caused the defence a lot of problems. Ledley King, who many people believe would have been one of the best centre backs in the world had he not had so many injury problems struggled all day against the big target man and should have given away a penalty when they were grappling in the box.

With this being Holt’s first year in the Premier League, he probably couldn’t have wished for a better start. He has scored 15 goals in all competitions with 13 of them coming in the league but it is not only his goals that are catching people’s attentions, it is his all round game as he is very powerful and causes defences problems every time he steps onto the pitch. You know what you are going to get from him but still it seems that nobody can deal with him effectively. His work rate is outstanding and he may lack some abilities at times but he makes up for it by chasing every ball down and battling for every ball.

It is remarkable rise for the man seen as though he was playing in League 2 for Shrewsbury in the 2008-09 season scoring 28 goals which secured his move to Norwich who at the time were in League 1. Two consecutive promotions and 53 goals has put got him to the position he is in and he had many doubters at the start of the season like many of the other Norwich players.

Why not take him to the Euros? I can’t imagine many European defenders will have faced anyone like him and he is more than just a bully as he has been labelled by some people therefore he could add something to the squad and a real alternative. England will probably take Danny Welbeck, Danny Sturridge and Wayne Rooney leaving space for one more striker at least. Crouch has the height but he lacks the power and with Andy Carroll out of form, I believe Holt should go just to give England a different option if they need a goal in the last 20 minutes.