Sunday, 5 August 2007

Casino Turmoil

A quick glance at the Sunday gossip sections reveals a few interesting items. The People claim Real Madrid mentalist Antonio Cassano is being offered to various Premier League clubs as new boss Bernd Schuster makes changes. West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers are said to be the main ones interested in a loan deal for the 25 year old striker, although Real would prefer a permanent transfer. In the same paper, it is claimed we will step up our £5million bid for Nicky Shorey after Reading boss Steve Coppell finally admitted defeat in trying to persuade the England left back to sign an extension on the two years left on his contract. The Mirror has the same story and state that Coppell is now resigned to cashing in on his highly regarded defender. Reading do not want to be left in a situation where players run down their contracts and leave as free agents, like Steve Sidwell who joined Chelsea in the summer. Coppell said of Shorey: "He's not going to negotiate any more with us. He's got two years left on his current deal and whether that sends out a message to other clubs - it probably does."

Also in the Mirror, is a story that West Ham United will table a £9million bid for former Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen this week. It states that prolonged negotiations aimed at getting permission to talk to the Barcelona marksman appeared to be faltering as the Spanish giants made it clear they didn't want to sell. But on Friday evening they performed a U-turn and decided to cash in on the Iceland international. The deal is far from secured, though, with Gudjohnsen, 28, happy to stay in Spain until the January transfer window to weigh up whether he has a future at Barcelona. The articles suggests that the arrival of Thierry Henry from Arsenal has put Gudjohnsen's place under increasing threat. A partnership of Henry and Samuel Eto'o is likely to be first choice for coach Frank Rijkaard.
Alan Curbishley has made Gudjohnson his primary target after Carlos Tevez moved to Manchester United. As one forward could be arriving, so another might be leaving. The Star believe Crystal Palace want Hammers starlet Hogan Ephraim on a season long loan deal. Alan Curbishley is keen for him to gain more first team experience at a championship club and Palace boss Peter Taylor has made an enquiry. He is quoted as saying: "Hogan is a player that I like and who is on my list". Ephraim reportedly said: "It does not look like I will be in West Ham's first team so I am hoping for a loan move."

The Star also has a piece about
Anton Ferdinand. The troubled defender has apparently vowed to become a model professional this season after the 22 year old played a significant part in West Ham's problems last term as they struggled to avoid the drop. He was jeered by his own fans for partying in America mid season and was also charged with assault after an alleged nightclub fracas and, says the article, appeared to symbolise the Baby Bentley culture at the club. Even though he faces an autumn trial, Ferdinand insists his troubles have helped him to reform. "The toughest game for me was against Tottenham when all the stuff had come out about me going to America," said Ferdinand. "It was a learning curve when I came out for the warm up. I could hear some fans saying things about me, this and that, and that was the toughest game mentally that I have ever played in. We went close to winning it but we did not quite pull it off and at the end. Quite a few of our fans clapped me off the pitch and I really appreciated that." Ferdinand accepts that he has been his own worst enemy and admitted no one is perfect. "If you do not make mistakes you do not learn," he admitted. "All that I have been through has made me mentally stronger."

Several of the papers insist Kieron Dyer has gone on a one-man strike after his transfer to West Ham United fell through at the last minute. The player was last night at home in Ipswich and showing no signs of returning to Newcastle United after his move collapsed in bizarre circumstances. An insider close to the deal claimed Newcastle's millionaire owner raised the asking price for Dyer because he was so incensed at the arrogance of the Hammers board. "I have heard all the stories that Dyer was tapped up by West Ham United and that was the reason that Ashley raised the price by £2million, but that is not true," said the source. "What really happened was that Ashley found out how West Ham was boasting that they had landed the player and he was not impressed by that attitude so he just increased the price. Kieron is now back at home and everyone is talking to him but at the moment he shows no sign of leaving Ipswich. He might be contracted to Newcastle United but he is a very wealthy boy, a player in the Robbie Fowler league with huge investments in property, and he is not going to be pushed around. However, Mike Ashley is not a man to be messed with and he has been messed with, so the only way out is for West Ham to increase the transfer fee." Dyer was virtually signed and sealed on a £5million transfer which would have increased to £6million if the Hammers got in to Europe. According to one press report, it was an unspecified episode in a casino night club, between representatives of both clubs, that so incensed Ashley and caused the unheard of hike in the transfer fee for a player once a deal had already been agreed.

Also in the nature of gossip, but not anything to be found in the tabloids, is one fan's account of a meeting yesterday with Deputy CEO
Scott Duxbury. It is probably as valid as anything else that has appeared in this post so here goes...
Today, I had the pleasure of attending the game in corporate hospitality. As I walked in I saw SD (Scott Duxbury) and asked him about a few things, this is what he said:

DYER: All the papers are right. He is desperate to join the club after agreeing terms and passing a medical. They thought the deal was done and now Ashley wants a further £2million. We won't be held to ransom and unless Ashley drops his request we'll go elsewhere. I asked him if he was worried that someone else would come in for him and he said that no-one else will match the salary we are offering.

GUDJOHNSEN: We are desperately trying to sign him. We are working very hard and he is hopeful we can pull this off.

SHOREY: When I asked him about this he smiled nervously; he said you'll have to see on this one. I reckon this is definitely happening from the way he reacted.

He also said that we are still in the market for a lot more players and that we a 'building a great side'. He said that the Darren Bent transfer was the most frustrating one and they have learnt never to approach a player that has no interest in joining the club. He also said that he hasn't had a weekend off in 4 months! He was a really good bloke and filled me with quite a lot of confidence."

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