Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Gruellish Transfer Slop

Another cold and drab late December morning, another slew of half-baked transfer stories, mangled quotes, fevered speculation and dark insinuations. It is as inevitable as the relentless march of time, the erosion of the ozone layer, the depletion of North Sea fish stock and festive tabloid stories bemoaning the ill-deserved luxury of prison Christmas dinners. So hold out your bowl for another helping of gruellish transfer slop...

Matthew Upson
says he is in the dark over his future as West Ham United battle for Premier League and financial survival but admits he is flattered by the constant speculation linking him with a move away from Upton Park. The England defender is enjoying a fine run of form which has reportedly alerted the attentions of Newcastle United, Manchester City and Tottenham among others. He is one of several who could leave the club in January with Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola desperate to raise funds.

Upson said: "Speculation can be flattering and is part of what’s happening at the club at the moment. There are rumours every player is for sale. Whether that is true or not only the owners know and can come out and clarify their position, so speculation is what it is. Whether things will happen we shall have to wait and see, but it's definitely a difficult period in terms of the financial situation of the club. How difficult and what lengths they'll go to iron that out we'll soon see but I’m happy playing here at the moment, I am enjoying my football. I am in a good run of form so I'm enjoying it."

West Ham are one place off the drop zone, are up for sale and face a potentially crippling multi-million payout to Sheffield United over the Carlos Tevez affair. Upson added: "There's never a dull moment here but that can be a positive thing because it's a big football club. People want to read about it and hear about it and it's a great club to play for but we really need to achieve a couple of results over the Christmas period. We are really down there in the mix at the moment."

The Hammers are just a single point outside the relegation zone and have scored just four goals in their past 12 Premier League games. Upson has urged his team-mates to find their form in front of goal quickly or risk seeing their season descend into the nightmare of a relegation scrap. "Everything which goes on, on the pitch, we have to take a collective responsibility" he acknowledged. "At the moment we're all responsible for scoring goals and conceding goals and we can all contribute more, even if it's in the mentality to be more positive and attack-minded. That will nudge us over the edge to nick a win. We need to improve on that to get three points instead of a draw here and there."

Finding the net has been the problem and Carlton Cole, who signed a new five-year contract earlier this year, has not scored for eight matches and will receive personal coaching from legendary striker Zola this week. After missing several chances against Aston Villa, Cole has become a 'man on a mission' as he begins preparation for the Boxing Day trip to Portsmouth. "If you look at my game, I wasn't even getting into positions to score," he said. "But now I've analysed my game and I'm trying to improve my end product. The Villa game was one of those games where I should have scored at least twice as I should have against Chelsea. I'm getting into the positions but now it's about executing it."

Cole had several chances in the second period to open the scoring but each time found Brad Friedel equal to his and his team-mates' efforts, much to the striker's frustration. He said: "Friedel did well and after the game he said to me that he owed me one because I scored against him last year. Hopefully next time I'll take my chances and it will come. I'm working hard everyday in training and all I need is for it to break for me and go in the net. There were a few when there were ricochets or the keeper made a save and it just dropped two yards away and it would be a tap in, but that's the way it is going."

The former England Under-21 striker knows his misfortune cannot last forever. "I need a lucky goal, any kind of goal," he mused. "I don't care how it goes in. I'm in the box trying to fashion an opportunity and now it's about scoring. It's good to have these games in quick succession and now we've got the chance to get the right result in the next game and hopefully we can use Saturday's game as a boost like we did when we did well against Chelsea."

United are unbeaten in four away from home but have found the going slightly harder at the Boleyn Ground, a fact Cole puts down to opponents' tactics when they visit east London. "We were better second half against Villa and hopefully we can do that again next time. When teams come to Upton Park they sit back and try to hit us on the counterattack. I think we have problems breaking teams down and we have to try and work on fashioning chances. We had a few at the weekend which we should have scored. We just need to keep plugging away and doing our best to get the right results."

Another striker, Diego Tristan, is demanding first-team action from Gianfranco Zola. The 32-year-old Spanish marksman was signed back in October on a free transfer after impressing on a trial. He said: "Scoring goals is important for a striker as it gives us confidence. But to do that I need to play 90 minutes of a game because I need rhythm."

Elsewhere, Nigel Quashie has miraculously impressed at St Andrew's so far this term and has extended his initial one-month contract in October for a further four weeks. His latest agreement fulfils the maximum 93-day emergency loan period that any player can remain at a club, meaning McLeish will have to consider the options available to him when his stay finally comes to an end in January. Quashie, who has stressed his desire to remain at the midlands club for the long-term, will now make the last appearance of his current stay in Blues' Championship fixture against Cardiff on January 17. United have granted the 30-year-old permission to play in Birmingham's FA Cup third-round tie against Wolves on January 3.

West Ham United have slapped a £12 million price-tag on striker Craig Bellamy, according to The Mirror. The paper states the Hammers have quoted the fee to four top clubs, who were hoping to take advantage of their financial problems only to find an auction has started that could see Gianfranco Zola's club making a healthy profit. Tottenham, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Celtic have all made enquiries about Bellamy, who could be one of the hottest tickets in the transfer window - even at his inflated fee. An insider at one of Bellamy's suitors revealed: "The price was starting at around £8m but now it has gone higher and higher - we could all do with Man City dropping out of the race."

The Daily Mail insist Juventus have not given up hope of signing Valon Behrami next month. The Serie A club had hoped to complete a deal for about £6.5million for the Swiss, who has been at Upton Park for only five months following his move from Lazio. While the Hammers are reluctant to part with the player, and told the Italians they would not sell for double the price offered, financial uncertainty surrounding the club means Juve remain quietly confident they can hammer out a deal for the 23-year-old.

In contrast, reports in Italy suggest Roma have made 'significant strides' towards signing Behrami, while Juventus are watching the situation closely. Behrami only left Italy for the Premier League in July but it is claimed Roma sporting director Alessio Secco has already met Upton Park counterpart Gianluca Nani for initial talks. The Gazzetta dello Sport also reports there now appears to be a third club watching the situation in the shape of Chelsea. The article states that Luiz Felipe Scolari won't have much money to spend in the soon-to-open January transfer market, so he's hoping Irons boss Gianfranco Zola holds onto the flexible Swiss defensive midfielder until the summer, in order for them to have a chance of signing the highly-rated 23-year-old come the end of the season.

Sky Sports have decided to reheat the Joe Mattock story from every transfer window of the last two seasons. The much touted Mattock is regarded as one the most promising young British defenders outside the Premier League and is the second youngest player to ever represent England Under 21s. The left-back made his debut for Leicester at the tender age of 16 and continues to earn rave reviews at the Walkers Stadium. Leicester are said to have fielded a number of approaches from clubs for Mattock, with West Ham naturally thought to be among the interested parties.

The likes of Liverpool, Aston Villa, Everton and Sunderland have been credited with an interest in Mattock, but Sky believe West Ham are hoping to steal a march on their rivals with doubts continuing to surround the future of on-loan defender Herita Ilunga. Ilunga is on a season long-loan from Toulouse, but the player has suggested he would be interested in a move to a bigger club if an offer came along (remember that poorly translated article originating from French media sources a while ago?) and Mattock is thought to be on Zola's list of potential signings. Leicester are keen to keep hold of their prize asset as they look to win promotion from League One, but they could face a battle to ward off suitors when the transfer window reopens next month. We all know how that feels.

Finally, QPR boss Paulo Sousa is said to be competing with West Ham for the signature of highly-rated Portuguese teenager Adrien Silva. Sporting Lisbon had hoped to hold on to the 19-year-old attacking midfielder until the end of the season, but a move to England in January now looks on the cards.

No comments:


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari