Chelsea, He does Mata

Like any good sailer Mourinho has seen a sinking ship and offered a life line. Notmata that the life line will come cheaply because well lets face it if its between life and death cost doesn’t Mata. If you’ve yet to figure out what I am talking about from my thinly veiled PUNs, I’ll give you another hint. Its Juan Mata. And yes just like Mourinho has said all year, the Spaniard does have a price tag attached to his curly head. However the talk of Mata being transferred to Manchester United would be a devastating blow to Chelsea. Not only would they be giving hope to a squad that most Chelsea fans find deplorable, but sacrificing one of their best players with a busy summer upcoming could prove fateful. While Chelsea’s midfield is currently deep and deadly, it may not remain that way.

mourinhoLet’s start with why Mata is such a crucial piece to any teams puzzle. While he lacks the defensive prowess that Mourinho desires in a number 10, his ability to pick a pass, while just above average for a Spaniard, is world class. We haven’t seen much of it this year with his lack of playing time, but in the previous two years he’s been the lynch pin to Chelsea attacks. The chipped pass to Demba Ba last year is a perfect example of his capabilities. Mata opens up shut games and used to provide a spark to a sporadically flat side. For this he has been awarded with the love of the Stamford Bridge faithful, but not that of the special one.

Chelsea also has some questions they will have to answer this summer with

My New Favorite Player Frank Lampard

many of their stars. Lampard, Cole and Terry are growing closer to the end of their careers and are in the last years of their respective contracts. PSG is knocking on the door for Eden Hazard and it doesn’t look like Chelsea can put a price tag high enough on the Belgian to discourage the Parisian giants. Additionally, David Luiz, who seems to have found a home alongside fellow Brazilian Ramires, is a target for Barcelona. On top of that, Ramires seems to be on the wish list for Barca’s big rivals Real Madrid. Combine this with 2 strikers who have both admitted to exit strategies from Stamford Bridge, and you have a potential recipe for chaos.

chelseaChelsea do have some advantages. The obvious is the brilliant mind of Mourinho. The Portuguese boss actually seems to do better with change then consistency. Oscar, Willian and Schurlle also all look like they are set for the long haul at Chelsea. Plus a lot can happen in a month. However, Chelsea’s strength this year isn’t in their starting 11 but in their depth. And while fielding the strongest team possible is important, what Mourinho does best is working his way through a campaign. With 38 games, plus a Champons League push, hopes of an FA Cup, and a stab at the League cup, depth is important.

I am not saying that Chelsea can’t afford to sell Mata. In fact if he is not going to play, selling him for 40 million and in turn spending that money on a striker could prove beneficial for the Blues. I am also not an expert on whats going on in the minds of those at Chelsea. I do know that Hazard is a PSG fan. I do know that for many South Americans it is a dream to play at Camp Nou or the Bernabeau. I also know that all three teams have pockets deep enough to make those moves happen. Despite all this though, Chelsea can’t afford to sell Mata to Manchester United. The Reds are living on a prayer and the introduction of the Spaniard combined with the return of Van Persie and Rooney could prove to be just the spark that United need.

For more on possible January moves check this out!

If you also wonder what team does the best with their cash check out this Hambino article!

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The Ugly Swan and Cowardly Lion Podcast 1.13.14

 

We start with Gene Deckerhoffs radio call for the Florida State National Championship game winning touchdown.

0:00-0:25

College Football

-Including our 4 teams that we think will make the playoffs next year!

0:25-24:45

 

NFL

-We talk NFL playoffs.  Who we think will win and what teams the hottest.

24:45-37:30

 

Premier League

-Suraez keeps up his run of goals. Another terrible officiating call costs a Premier League squad a chance at a point.  Even go over the game going on live in Aresnal v Aston Villa. We go over it all.

37:30-49:10

 

Transfer News

49:10-61:45

 

Lads Banter

Random chit chat.  The best part of our shows as always. Rory McIlroys future plans.  Whose hotter?  Messis wife or Ronaldos girlfriend?  We discuss Anchorman 2. CHELSEAAAA!

61:45-71:20

Toronto Springs Early, Hull City Balks and Mega Deals Still Loom

No one would’ve guessed the big mover so far this January would be Toronto FC, yet they seem to be the only organization getting anything done. The addition of Michael BradleyAmerican star Michael Bradley means big things for a club that finished above only two teams points wise in the MLS last year. However, I’m not convinced the move is healthy for Bradley or American soccer. While having the Center Midfielder back in the MLS will certainly help sell jerseys and build excitement in Toronto, there are aspects that he will miss out on. Before his injury, Bradley was a critical player for Roma, who looks destined for a Champions League birth next year. The amount of games the Italian club would take on would mean Bradley would get time on club soccer’s largest stage. As an athlete, this is a step back for Bradley, who will most likely never get another chance to play at this level. However, the paycheck he will receive might make up for it and it is a great move for Toronto.

Toronto’s other big move is more conducive to both parties. Jermain Defoe has jermain-defoeapparently been told by Roy Hodgson that he still has a chance to make England’s national team, and coming to Toronto could be the chance for him to get the playing time he needs. With Walcott’s injury and Sturridge’s injury issues England will be desperate for quality strikers. However, since Defoe hasn’t really played this year we don’t really know if he is in better form than say a Rickie Lambert. The move to the MLS could reignite Defoe’s game much like it has Robbie Keane’s, which means goals for a club that is desperate for them. Last year only bottom dwellers DC United scored less than Toronto, and Defoe should be able to give the club the goals they need to be competitive.

Shane LongWhen the sun rose over England it seemed that Shane Long was leaving West Brom, either by loan or a 5 million pound sale. However by the afternoon, Hull manager Steve Bruce denied any such transaction. This wouldn’t be a story if Hull’s front office was a little easier to predict and I’m not completely sold on Steve Bruce’s claim that no such talks have happened. The media did jump the gun, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce has held talks over the Irishman. Long’s work effort and his ability to hold the ball up would make the Tigers a harder club to deal with and could potentially add goals.

January broke with a crash as AC Milan signed Japanese international Honda. HondaLewandowski also agreed to a deal with Bayern for next years campaign. This should just be the start of the festivities though. Real Madrid has reportedly joined the chase for out of favor Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata. If Los Blancos are serious about their bid, the move makes since for both parties. The addition of Mata would mean that the Bernabeu would take the best attacking midfield title away from Bayern Munich. Mata would also get playing time in Spain surrounded by some of the best players in the world, hopefully securing his place on Spain’s World Cup Squad. Paul Pogba’s stock seems to be rising as well as PSG have joined Chelsea in trying to convince the Frenchmen out of Juventus. It is hard to see Pogba leaving a club he is performing so well at, but the pockets that PSG and Chelsea could be deep enough to tempt.

Xabi AlonsoWith all the rumors circling, some of the blockbuster deals have dissolved. Real Madrid resigned Xabi Alonso to a new deal that included a 1.6 million pound bonus. Confusingly, Arsenal seem to have taken their foot off the gas in the search for a big name striker, despite recent injuries to both Giroud and Walcott. The Gunners have been mentioned in a loan deal for Real Madrid striker, Morata, but Wenger may perfer to have his fellow Frenchman Benzema in the line up. Arsenal has been hurt in the past by not making moves early enough, and this could prove true in this window as well. A possible option for Wenger is out of favor PSG striker Lavezzeti who has apparently turned down a transfer move to Inter Milan. PSG seem to be more then willing to unload the Argentinian and would be a crucial asset to many Premier League clubs.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, PSG and Real Madrid all seem poised to do something this January, but for now we have to play the waiting game. Reports say that Moyes is looking to clear his books, a move that Barcelona are interested in. Apparently they see Vidic as viable option for their center back woes, but don’t expect this move till summer. Until then, the Scotsman has been promised cash to go out and spend but with so many leaks its hard to see where Moyes puts his finger first. The other 4 are looking for the edge to put them over the top both domestically and on the Champions League stage. The combination of a lot of money to spend and a lot of big name players looking for a move means this January should get a lot more interesting.

For more MLS news check out our expansion plan and why US Soccer needs a Goliath

January Transfer Guide: Liverpool

Liverpool-badgeI’m going say something I never thought I would say about a top 4 side.  Liverpool need to get better EVERYWHERE.  The magical ability of Luis Suarez and the goals of Daniel Sturridge have glossed over some of the huge cracks that the Liverpool side possesses.  Their captain is old and injury prone, their midfield is too young, and there isn’t enough depth up top.  While they have played their way into a good run thus far, the Reds definitely need help.  Especially if they hope to take this year and translate it into Champions League success…

Daniel Sturridge has always had injury problems and Luis Mohamed SalahSuarez has always had, well, other problems.  Iago Aspes has not had the success that Liverpool expected from him and Swansea look like they are willing to buy.  Some players just don’t thrive at Anfield and it is definitely time for Liverpool to deal him on before he is no longer an asset.  This does put the front of the Liverpool line in a quandary, since they have promised Suarez he will never walk alone.  While Raheem Stirling has added to the excitement the last few weeks I am sure Brendan Rodgers isn’t banking on his youth.  There is an interesting option coming out of Switzerland, where Egyptian Striker Mohamed Salah has been linked with a move to Merseyside.  He has certainly shown his capability on the real stage with a big goal against Chelsea in Champions League Play.  He is also an attacking player that enjoys being out wide and would be an excellent compliment to Suarez and Sturridge.

Liverpool’s next target is on the opposite end of the country where both Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana putAdam Lallana on a show last week.  Lallana would make an instant impact in the middle of Liverpool’s 11 with his ability to connect the play from back to front.  His ability to govern the field could make him the natural successor to Gerrard, if Liverpool is able to acquire him.  Southampton seem to be putting on an iron wall to protect their best asset and Liverpool will have to come up with some major cash to land him.  Jay Rodriguez would be another player that could complement Suarez or Sturridge when they are in lone striking rolls with his ability to play out wide.  He will also be easier to pry away from Pochettino then Lallana come January.

Javier Pastore                Buying players in England can be expensive business, especially when it comes to buying from a team that, like you, is competing for a Champions League spot.  However, there is another attacking option coming from the continent and from a historically cheaper league.  While Paris Saint Germain don’t meet the standard that their French brethren uphold, they are still in the market to sell out of favor midfielder Javier Pastore.  The Argentine won’t be cheap but at least he is not on everyone’s radar like Lallana.

Liverpool’s final purchase needs to shore up their back line.  Brendan Rodgers loves changing from 3 to 4 to 5 backs depending on the situation and luckily there is a player that can help.  The popular name that has been swirling around is Ashley Cole, who is in the last year of his contract with Chelsea.  Cole has also found himself sitting behind Spanish right back Cesar Azipilcueta, who was converted to left back when Cole sustained an injury.  Mourinho may be unwilling to give up a talented player who means so much to his backline, both on and off the pitch.  The more likely solution for Liverpool is Ryan Bertrand, who seems to have fallen off the Earth at Stamford Bride.  The Englishman would join fellow Chelsea outcasts Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge.  Plus for a Liverpool side that is looking to add a lot, he is a cheaper option.

Luis Suarez                With all these additions someone will have to depart from Anfield to make room.  Earlier in the article, Aspes was mentioned to go to Swansea, which would clear room for the likes of Rodriguez and Salah.  Jose Reina will be sold eventually, possibly to Barcelona, but since he is already out on loan his future may not be a January priority for Rodgers.  Besides that I would be careful about auctioning off some of the squad.  Suarez is the man that can lead you back to glory and without Champions League Football, he will leave.  While his contract does have a 100 Million Pound buyout clause that Real Madrid will certainly try to scrape together the money for, Liverpool must try to keep him at all costs.  So Tom Werner, break out the check book.  Time to go to work.

January Transfer Guide: Manchester City

manchester-cityCurrently Manchester City is the deepest and most talented group of players on the EPL side of the Channel. One could even argue that their skill level rivals those fielded by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. However, The Powder Blues’ form has been suspect away from the Etihad this year. While their recent form has been better, this is a problem they need to fix in January before it becomes a problem in May.

casillasWhat would the new look Manchester City be without a big money, big name signing come January. And no City fans I am not talking about Messi. There are some things that money can’t buy and what the Little Argentine means to Barcelona is impossible to estimate. Plus Messi would just come in and strengthen a strength, while Pellegrini will be focused on his weaknesses. Joe Hart may be the best goal keeper that England has, but he is certainly not the best that City can afford. While the rumors for Manuel Neuer are utter nonsence, the Sheiks money could land another big time name. Iker Casillas displeasure in his current position at the Bernabeu should leave a door open that City can exploit. The World Cup is playing on the Spaniards mind, and guaranteed playing time at a big time club is a must if you want to play for the best international team in the world. If City cannot secure the big name keeper, Julio Cesar could be tempted to leave QPR on loan to play in the Premier League. However, securing him on a transfer would mean prying him away from Harry Redknapp’s plans, which would be difficult without a premium.

Manchester City has also struggled in the middle of their backline. Lescott is not the player he was and City are Vincent_Kompany_2207458cstruggling to find answers. Vincent Kompany’s battles with injuries has also left doubts in many of the Rowdy Neighbors minds. While City cannot afford to replace their captain now, they do need options if the Belgian disappears into injury abyss. Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala looks to be a prime target for City, however he will need time to adjust to the speed of the Premier League game. If Tottenham has taught us anything this year players from lesser leagues are ill prepared to step into the blender that is the BPL. Etienne defender Kurt Zouma could also join City in the winter, but his disciplinary issues on the pitch would make me nervous. However, he did shut down Falcao in their match up with Monaco, proving he has some quality. Plus, while the French Ligue 1 isn’t incredible, it is more similar to the talent level you find in England.

agueroWith all the talent that City has, it is easy to speculate on all the players that are going to leave. However, many of these rumors are just speculation for January, and City would be unwilling to part with many of their key players during a title run. If City manages to bring in a top level keeper, Joe Hart will fall as the next domino. Luckily for the Englishman, there are many teams that would do well with his services. Maybe going and playing for say Stoke, where the pressure for perfection is a little less, would be good for Hart. Lets not forget he is still a tremendous talent… but just a bit of a head case. Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero have both been rumored to join Hart leaving the Etihad. However, there was something that Real, Chelsea and Arsenal couldn’t predict and thats Aguero going down injured. Yes Manchester City fans Sergio’s injury is a blessing in disguise. Real Madrid will not spend a healthy sum on the Argentine with the future of his season in doubt, especially with the sum the just spent on Bale (plus they’re saving up for a summer bid for Suarez). Pellegrini is also unlikely to move a striker while his main target is down injured in the height of a title run.

City will bring in a big name at Keeper just because they are City and thats what City does. However, don’t look for too many changes at the Etihad. Chemistry is everything with stars, and right now the Powder Blues are cooking up a delicious and addictive product with that chemistry. Names like Milner, Garcia and Navas are also regulars on the bench, so the need for depth there is non-existent. Don’t be surprised to see a few new backs come to the Etihad though. While they won’t be regulars, their introduction into cup games and as substitutes could lead to a better product down the road.

January Transfer Guide: Everton

evertonEverton is in the midst of a huge moment in club history.  The Toffees currently sit 5th in the table, a single point out from a Champions League spot and are the best defensive team in the Premier League.  While the Merseyside club is used to similar results, the Toffees haven’t possessed the levels of young attacking talent the club currently has at its disposal.  While the defensive spine can be accredited to a David Moyes’ long tenure, Roberto Martinez has injected a creative flair into Everton.  This has created an interesting cross roads in Everton history.  Should the club spend money with the hopes of grabbing the 4th spot and the millions of dollars that comes with Champions League play?  Or should they settle, sell their top players and reload?

Leighton Baines seems to already be heading out of Goodison Park this January to fulfill his dream to play for colemanManchester United.  However he is not the only player currently being targeted by a top club.  Irish Defender Seamus Coleman may be a target for Arsenal depending on how the Gunners contract talks go with Bacary Sagna.  While Brian Oviedo has shown his ability to fill in for Baines in the last few weeks, the blow to the depth of the squad will be severe if the club was to lose both Coleman and Baines.  There is talk that the Toffees could add Chelsea defender Ryan Bertrand.  Bertrand has fallen down Mourinho’s pecking order behind both Ashley Cole and Cesar Azpilicueta.  If Bertrand desires a move though he better hope that Chelsea add another full back or Mourinho might be unwilling to give up the depth he has.

Everton has more than a solid base to build on for a push to a Champions League spot.  However, there are some issues.  Their star striker Romelu Lukaku and super sub Gerard Deulofeu are both loans Clint-Dempseyfrom Chelsea and Barcelona respectively.  Without these two, Everton would not even be close to the attacking side they are now.  Unfortunately for a side deprived of funds, this may be the path the rest of Everton’s year.  Two players who have been deprived of time at Moyes’s United, Zaha and Valencia, would most likely welcome a move to a stronger side.  Clint Dempsey has been another name linked to Everton.  While the Fulham deal may look done, the Toffees have had various American connections through the years (Landon Donovan and current keeper Tim Howard) and could use the goals if Lukaku’s form ever dries out.

These moves only help the Toffees this year though, what about for the future?  Addition of Moscow winger AidenAiden-McGeady-006 McGeady would certainly add to the depth of the club and help the Toffees achieve their goals.  Unfortunately, without the guarantee of Champions League money until the summer, Everton will be in a little bit of a bind.  Of course the Toffees could sell off their top players like Ross Barkley or Nikica Jelavic in order to add some money to the pot but at what cost.  Yes the sale of these two players would help Martinez secure Lukaku for the future from Chelsea, but there is no guarantee the Blues are in the mood to sell him.

In the meantime it appears the Toffees are in for a swoop of the Scottish Premier League.  Martinez has been robertsonreportedly linked to the purchase of Dundee United stars, Andrew Robertson and John Souttar.  Don’t expect to see these two in Merseyside Blue this year though.  Martinez will most likely send the duo back to Scotland on a loan spell.  However, it is good to see one of the top managers for a top side building for the future.

Martinez recognizes he has a very good squad but there is still a long way to go.  Gaining a Champions League spot would do amazing things for the Toffees, and with that money they could go out and do some summer shopping.  This January, though, is a different story.  If Everton are able to make a move for a decent Irish winger, an offensive solid left back from Chelsea, and a loan for Zaha or Valencia they could have just enough depth to edge out one of the big boys.

January Transfer Guide: Cardiff City

297px-Cardiff_City_Crest.svgCardiff City managed to fight their way into the Premiership last year by winning the Championship by 8 points.  In fact they seemed to be the most prepared of the three promoted clubs to deal with the pressure of the Premier League.  There was hope for the fans of the Blue Birds with the money that came pouring in from Southeast Asia to make a charge at the Premier League.  However not all is going according to plan in South Wales and January could end up being a tumultuous time.

Malkay Mackay was the driving force behind Cardiff’s fantastic Championship Campaign last year.  44f7b-swansea-v-reading-play-offHowever, the Scotsman has fallen out with Cardiff owner Vincent Tan, partly because of Mackay’s spending record.  The Malaysian owner wasn’t too pleased when he found out he had to fork up millions of dollars in bonuses that weren’t in Mackay’s budget.  This, in part, lead to Tan firing Mackay’s head scout and right hand man Iain Moody.  Tan has also announced that there will be no money for Mackay to spend to improve his squad come January.  So what will happen this winter for the Blue Birds?

Vincent Tan has already changed the clubs logo and their home jerseys.  This move away from tradition hasn’t necessarily endeared the Malaysian to his fan base.  This bout with Malkay Mackay hasn’t helped either, since the manager is a fan favorite.  Basically what you have here is an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.  Something has to give or the whole thing will explode.

Wilfried_Zaha  Tan will end up giving Mackay the money, just not as much as the Scotsman wants.  Cardiff will have to then rely on loan moves and leagues with cheap transfer fees.  Wilfred Zaha is a name that could be embroidered on a Blue Birds shirt come January, even if it is just for a short term loan.  Cardiff will have to battle that one out with Crystal Palace though, as the London side looks to reabsorb the Manchester United midfielder.  Mackay also seems to be targeting Portuguese midfielder Hugo Vieira.  However, while his projected 2 million pound transfer fee may not seem much to those who keep up with the megadeal, it is a lot of money to pry from an owner not looking to spend.  If the Blue Birds do need a cheaper option, I would recommend they look to the States.  Graham Zusi is a name that comes to mind.  Zusi is a mature player with Championship level quality that is capable of scoring goals and playing wide.  While I don’t think he would be a first team player for the Blue Birds, he can most certainly add much needed depth.

And if this doesn’t happen Mackay will most likely be sacked by the end of the year…..

Cardiff does need to strengthen their side to stay above the relegation zone.  If Vincent Tan wants his team to cloughmeet his expectations, he needs a history lesson.  Brian Clough consistently spent more then what was allotted to him in his budget, much to the anger of his board.  However, his results speak for themselves.  He brought titles to both Nottingham Forest  and Derby County, two smaller clubs.  While I am not saying Mackay is on the same level as the greatest club manager of all time, he has proven that with the right funds he can lead the Blue Birds to good results.  Let’s face it, in the Premier League if you’re not moving forward you get passed up.  And I’m sorry to say it Cardiff fans, if Tan doesn’t open up that check book you will be going down.