Edwin van der Sar
According to the always reliable Sun, Edwin van der Sar has rubbished reports that he’s retiring at the end of the season. Perhaps he wants to win the FA Cup (one of the few trophies he hasn’t won yet), as United’s goalkeeping coach has suggested. Or, more likely, he can still perform at a high level for a couple more years.
The best plan would be to buy a successor and split games for a year or two. Van der Sar is nothing if not professional and I’m sure he’d be happy to bring his heir along somewhat slowly. This would allow Sir Alex to go get Igor Akinfeev from CSKA Moscow and give the new keeper time to adjust to England, learn the language, and learn from van der Sar. I still believe Akinfeev is a better choice than Atlético Madrid’s David De Gea.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Apparently, Sir Alex Ferguson is targeting Atlético Madrid keeper David De Gea as the long-term replacement for Edwin van der Sar. He could do worse, of course. He could have Manuel Almunia.
There are snags in the plan (or whatever this is; gossip and/or speculation are probably the best words): the first is that De Gea will reportedly cost around £12 million and it’s unclear exactly how much money Sir Alex has to spend. The second is that the man (boy?) himself said that he’s going to remain at Atlético. The second is mere window-dressing. It’s the first that matters.
The gossip brings about questions regarding United’s current transfer policy, in that the club doesn’t seem to have one. There are obvious weaknesses: central defense, central midfield, and wings in addition to back-up keeper. There were plenty of targets over the summer – Mesut Özil would have been an excellent (and cheap) addition – but Sir Alex didn’t pull the trigger. Perhaps he couldn’t because his hands were tied, financially speaking. I doubt that, because he scrounged up £7 million or so to spend on Portuguese striker Bebé in addition to the £20-odd million spend on Javier Hernández and Chris Smalling. I daresay he could have spent £16 million on Özil.
Which brings us back to the start: what’s the plan? Is Sir Alex being obstinate, like Arsène Wenger? Wenger continues to think that he doesn’t need a keeper, which is foolish. Similarly, Sir Alex has unending faith in Rio Ferdinand, Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick, Nani, Anderson, et al. Except that all of them are either perma-crocked or not up to the task of playing at the highest levels (although Nani has shown flashes of brilliance, I think he should be off-loaded ASAP; someone will pay based on his potential). Sir Alex used to be ruthless. He used to get rid of players as they proved they were unworthy. I realize that it’s hard, but sometimes you need to admit you were wrong.
United need to add players because, sooner or later, it’s lack of skill and depth will come back to haunt them.
Atlético Madrid defender Tomás Ujfalusi has been suspended for two matches for his clumsy tackle on Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
To be sure, it was a terrible tackle. Ujfalusi claims it wasn’t his intention to come in so hard, but the video evidence clearly shows that he stepped on Messi’s ankle. Yeah, both players were moving at high speed, but Ujfalusi’s job is to tackle the opponent. If he wanted to, he could have done it cleaner. Instead, he sent a message. Or tried to.
Here’s the video:
Thierry Henry's handball v. Ireland (AFP/Getty Images)
Ireland has given up its quixotic quest to become the 33rd team in the 2010 World Cup. Well, I’m glad that’s settled. I was getting worried that the Irish FA might embarrass itself.
Arsène Wenger says he’ll spend money in January to replace Robin van Persie, who’s out, apparently, forever. The kicker is that Wenger will only spend “at the right price.” Of course he will. So don’t get your hopes up, Arsenal fans.
Amid speculation that Sergio “Kun” Agüero is off to Chelsea in January (ahead, apparently, of the transfer ban that was supposed to be in effect), even AS.com says ESPN is responsible for that rumor. When AS disavows a rumor, you know it can’t be true.
Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or. Like anyone is surprised by that.