Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The Glow Of Optimism

Fabio Capello is considering including Carlton Cole in his England squad for the friendly international against Spain in Seville next month. The West Ham United striker would be a surprise call-up because he has not come close to featuring in the senior squad under the past three managers and appeared to have stagnated since making the last of his 19 appearances for the under-21 side four years ago. Of course, Capello is no stranger to unconventional decisions when naming his squads but Cole’s inclusion, should he be drafted in for the Feb 11 game when the squad is announced four days prior, would still be a major surprise.

A key tenet of Capello’s managerial philosophy is to focus on the players who are fit and in form, however, with Cole certainly falling into that category. The 25-year-old has scored five goals in as many matches to help to take West Ham up to eighth in the Barclays Premier League. The player has improved dramatically since Gianfranco Zola took over as West Ham manager in September, with the Sardinian tipping his former Chelsea team-mate for international honours after handing him a new four-year contract in November.

Capello is known to have reservations about Cole’s technical skills at the highest level, with particular doubts over the quality of his finishing, but has been impressed by his ability to hold the ball up and bring others into play. The Italian names his squad on February 7 and could give Cole the opportunity to win his first cap four days later. In an ideal world Capello would name two physically imposing strikers, such as Emile Heskey, and two nippier ones — in the style of Jermain Defoe — in his 23-man squad, but he is still looking for back-up to the Wigan Athletic forward. Peter Crouch replaced the injured Heskey in England’s most recent match, against Germany in Berlin last November, but appeared only as a last-minute substitute and he has yet to fully convince Capello of his merits, despite scoring regularly for Portsmouth this season.

Meanwhile, Cole insists that West Ham will not miss Craig Bellamy after the Wales striker completed his big money move to Manchester City. Bellamy has spent much of his two seasons at Upton Park injured and Cole believes they can shine without him. "We proved it," said Cole. "Last season Craig was injured and we did well without him. I don't see why we can't do it again." The former Chelsea star insisted the controversy surrounding Bellamy has not disturbed the spirit among Gianfranco Zola's squad. He said: "We're professionals. We get on with the job. We've had worse thrown at us. Craig is a professional player and he's got his own beliefs. We're professional, too, and we just carry on."

It is hats off to Craig Bellamy, writes Barry Glendenning in today's Guardian, for finally finding a club whose estimation of his worth goes a long way towards matching his own.

On a day when it seems the whole world is basking in an impenetrable Ready Brek glow of optimism, it seems strangely fitting that one noticeably black cloud remains docked in its usual berth over the City of Manchester Stadium. Kaka is staying at Milan, Robinho has seemingly thrown his rattle out of the pram and, as feverishly excited Americans revel in the inauguration of Barack Obama, decidedly underwhelmed Manchester City fans can only look forward to the prospect of Craig Bellamy being sworn in.

If the intention behind City's audacious £91m bid to seduce Milan's star Brazilian was to generate a smokescreen dense enough to distract fans from the wanton folly of paying £14m for a player who, until yesterday, was vying with Danny Gabbidon for the title of West Ham's star Welshman, then the club's wholly predictable failure to sign Kaka can be judged to have been a resounding success. But as City's suits don't seem blessed with the wit or imagination to hatch a scheme that clever, it must be blind luck that has allowed them to shell out so much for so little without attracting the scorn they almost certainly deserve.

Bellamy has lined up for seven different clubs throughout his career and left at least three of them under a cloud. His dream move to Liverpool ended largely in ignominy, with one of few notable high points being a Tyldesley-esque "famous night in Barcelona", where a celebratory golf swing commemorated an even more memorable evening's entertainment in Vale do Lobo.

Bellamy's career history has been punctuated with such incidents says Glendenning, and despite his ongoing protestations to the contrary, there seems little doubt that he is a disruptive influence whose well documented bust-ups, tantrums and moronic dismissals have always overshadowed a less than blistering career average of less than one goal every three games. With no shortage of malcontents already sowing seeds of dissatisfaction around Eastlands, it's difficult to know how the presence of another live grenade in the dressing room will calm things down.

His temperament aside, Bellamy is 29 years old, several months older than Michael Owen and even more reliant than the Englishman on searing pace to score goals. Like Owen, senior citizenship and a career dogged by persistent injuries are unlikely to make Bellamy any quicker, which makes the £14m or so paid by City to West Ham for his services seem all the more surreal. Considering they'd be lucky to recoup even half that fee if they sold the Welshman on tomorrow morning, we can only conclude that Manchester City's owner Sheikh Mansour doesn't care about paying distorted prices for any players, even those with great futures already behind them.

As the number of agents hawking tat around Eastlands for absurdly high prices increases, the ramifications for more financially prudent Premier League clubs will soon become clear. In the meantime, hats off to Craig Bellamy, who finally seems to have found a club whose estimation of his worth goes a long way towards matching his own.

As United begin the search for player reinforcements, an agent of Brescia winger Savio Nsereko claims West Ham have made enquiries about his client. The 19-year-old is believed to be interesting several clubs in Italy, particularly Napoli, and Nsereko's representative Dieter Heimen insists United have also thrown their hat into the ring. "There are a few clubs currently knocking on the door and asking about his situation and West Ham is one of them," he told Sport Bild magazine. "We have not started negotiations yet. The former general manager of Brescia (Gianluca Nani) now works at West Ham and therefore he knows him."

The Sun believes technical director Gianluca Nani flew to Italy yesterday as the Hammers see the German teen as a replacement for Craig Bellamy after his £14m switch to Manchester City. Nani hopes his friendship with Savio, 19, will swing the balance despite competition from Italian giants Juventus and Roma. It was Nani who introduced the player to European football at former club Brescia five years ago.

However, Heimen cannot see the talented teenager leaving Brescia this month. The Serie B club offers the player the best surroundings to further mature and improve, according to Heimen. "Savio should just keep playing and carry on this run he is on, increasing his self-confidence and then we will see where we are in the summer," he continued. "He is concentrating on Brescia at the moment, but you cannot rule anything out in football."

Two weeks ago another of Savio's agents, Patrick Bastianelli, first revealed the Hammers interest in the player; declaring at the time that the striker was being eyed by a host of clubs around the continent. He said: "We cannot forget that he was named the best player of the U19 European Championships, which Germany won by defeating Italy in the final. He would clearly love to join Napoli, but I cannot deny that Genoa and Roma are also in the race. Furthermore, West Ham sporting directo Gianluca Nani knows full well Savio’s qualities, since he worked with Brescia, and we talked about the lad a week ago, as (Gianfranco) Zola would like to bring him to London."

Nsereko was born in Uganda, but his family emigrated to Germany as a youngster. He started his professional football career with 1860 Munich before joining Brescia in 2005. He starred for the Germany Under-19 squad when they won the European Championships in the Czech Republic last summer and was voted the tournament's best player, despite missing the final due to suspension. After a slow start to the current Serie B season, the young attacking midfielder has now claimed a regular berth in the Brescia team and helped them rise to third in the table.

Finally, midfielder Julien Faubert is desperate to clinch a move to Lyon because he believes it would enhance his prospects of a return to the France squad. The 25-year-old has revealed the Hammers are in talks with the French champions about his possible move to the Stade Gerland and Faubert would relish a return to French football, with his chief target being a spot in the Les Bleus squad for the World Cup in South Africa next year.

"I am crossing my fingers - the two clubs are in talks," the one-time France cap told Aujourd'hui Sport. "Lyon would really be great. I would rediscover Ligue 1 and France but also the Champions League and the eyes of the national-team coach. Because my aim still remains the 2010 World Cup. I really hope this is going to sort itself out."

If Lyon were to conclude a deal for Faubert, they would primarily be buying the former Bordeaux player so he could plug the gap at right-back left by injuries to Francois Clerc and Anthony Reveillere. He could also be used on the right of midfield, with Sidney Govou out for the rest of the season through injury. It is thought Lyon's preference would be a six-month loan deal for Faubert.

No comments:


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