Category Archives: wayne rooney

Fantasy Guide: Third Edition- International Break Review, Part One

The international break is always a wearing time for fantasy managers. With often five or more starters making long stressful journeys overseas to play in pointless friendlies or, even worse, semi competitive qualifiers, the prospect of an injury crisis mounts without players ever earning fantasy points. However, for close observers these games can act as vital indicators – key factors in transfer decisions and substitutions.

A Few Fantasy Premier League Notes:


Gary Cahill the goalscorer- On the occasion of his first competitive start, Gary Cahill opened the scoring for England with an effort from close range. Interestingly, that goal was actually atypical of Cahill, more often than not his strikes are from long range, that opening day sucker punch against QPR an obvious example.


Rooney’s continues to pick up momentum- Wayne Rooney is fast becoming a must have fantasy player. With five goals in three Premier League games, he is the league’s second top goalscorer and is showing no sign of a drop off. Two against Bulgaria merely served to underline his classy displays of late – only a fool would leave him out.

Van Persie scores four- It’s difficult to know how much to read into this given that the opponent was San Marino and the final result 11-0. However, Van Persie will nevertheless savor his four goal haul; the striker has struggled for consistency over the league’s opening weeks. With the transfer window concluded, the sense is that Arsenal are ready to move on from August’s horror show, and maybe even start churning out a few wins. Any pick up in form is likely to be a function of Robin Van Persie goals, especially if new signings Benayoun and Arteta bed in well.

Park Chu Young scores three- Arsenal fans desperate for encouragement will have been relieved by Young’s performance here. Three goals in what is technically “The World Cup” is not to be scoffed at, even though the opposition was Lebanon. Young represents a fascinating, if perhaps risky, option up front.

Part Two coming after the second round of international fixtures.
In the mean time, enjoy the rest of our fantasy coverage.

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Time For England To Forget Messiahs

To ask English football to learn, is usually to ask too much. In the cycle of perpetual misfortune,¬†England have carved themselves a comfortable little place – one festooned with cushions, lights and running water by the very men and women who pray for better everyday.Wayne Rooney and Jesus Christ have a lot in common. Both are featured in best selling books – Rooney’s albeit, of a more recent publication – both have faced trials and tribulations, births and resurrections and both at one point or another have offered hope to a group of disciples, disillusioned with the current state of things.

Both are messiahs. Just as Jesus rose, quickly, stealthily from anonymity, Rooney did too. Rooney scored, Jesus preached. The parallels are there for all to see, the overlap between the lives of two seemingly polar opposite characters.

But then again, it isn’t really a shock that comparisons have been made. Religious undertones are an ever present in modern day football reporting – symptomatic of the way religion has been used to articulate the feelings of fans, players and clubs over the last century.

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Patronized Berba Deserves More Than He’s Getting

https://i2.wp.com/i.eurosport.com/2011/05/30/727077-8642951-317-238.jpgIn the midst of United’s attacking wildfire, one forward was removed from the rest. As in most things, Berbatov was on the outskirts.

He has always been different from the others. Quiet, withdrawn, Berbatov refuses to be sucked into the loud, effervescent public life of Rio Ferdinand, nor the wild, sex driven antics of Wayne Rooney. When United players are asked to describe their Bulgarian teammate, the answers tend to be vague or mumbled. To an outsider, it would seem as though nobody really knows Dimitar Berbatov. He is said to sit far from the rest on away trips, and rarely join in on raucous games of cards in the wee hours during those infamous tours abroad.

Lackadaisical, languid, lazy. Berbatov’s playing style has generated cliches of its own. Wishing to criticize, no wide range of vocabulary is needed, merely a group of synonyms that any would be TV pundit learns in their crash course to being unoriginal.

Even when he achieves, Berbatov’s accomplishments are derided. A golden boot made impure by the distribution of goals – heavily on one or two games against low level opposition – and a second title win in three years, more the work of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

Now the criticism seems to have worked. The Bulgarian Berbatov is further away from first team football than ever, on the outskirts both personally and professionally.

Interest from PSG and Juventus though was rejected, despite his apparent distance from the starting eleven, Berbatov holds some value in Ferguson’s eye. What value though? Has he just been shelved away, kept only to save face, to show that thirty million pounds wasn’t wasted? Berbatov is fast turning into another object, kept only for the sake of stubbornness, cursed by no fault of his own, but by the failure of those around him to understand his footballing importance and by a price tag which many see as at its most useful when tied around the striker’s metaphorical neck.

The 2011 Champions League final looked to be his nadir.  Left out of the squad entirely, Berbatov was forced to take a watchers on role while the constantly injured Michael Owen claimed a place on the bench. That season Owen had netted twice in the league. Berbatov was top scorer with twenty.


“There was no more disappointed man that night (Champions League final) than Dimitar, there’s no question about that.” said Ferguson. “I made a decision that I didn’t want to make, putting Michael Owen on the bench, but I felt it was a positive one.”
Since then, the World has seen little of Dimitar Berbatov. He scored in a pre season friendly against the Major League Soccer All Stars, and is often caught respectfully watching games from his position on the sidelines. According to Ferguson, his performances in training post Champions League rejection have been inspiring – one wonders then how much stall is set by training these days…
That Berbatov hasn’t moved is a crime only the humblest could commit. Berbatov knows that from Manchester United the only step is down, but he doesn’t regard himself highly enough to see first team football as a god given right. It is Berbatov’s personal underestimation, his modesty and his loyalty that are pulling him down.
In Manchester, a city marked constantly by waste of talent, one player on the red side festers quietly. He is driven though not by money (he could have got more at PSG) but by his own belief in English club football’s most vital mantra. No player is bigger than their club. Berbatov appreciates that all to well. Instead of quietly retreating, accepting the situation and fighting to regain lost acclaim, maybe Berba should have thrown a fit after that Champions League final refusal. Maybe he should have cried, complained and left.

At some point he should have given up. Tired of being patronized by a man who is fast losing interest in a one time chief transfer target, he should have asked to leave.

The World is losing a prodigious talent, but Berbatov would never admit it. He’s too humble.

Sunday’s Fantasy Review

Ryan Shotton Ryan Shotton of Stoke City celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City at The Hawthorns on August 28, 2011 in West Bromwich, England.Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal- An absolute obliteration, I couldn’t dream of covering all angles. Assists and goals were in bountiful supply, with Rooney and Young the chief perpetrators.

On the other side of the coin though, villains were everywhere in the Arsenal team – shameful performances from all their defenders, a penalty miss by Robin Van Persie and a red card for Carl Jenkinson.

MOTM: Ashely Young- Two goals, a number of assits and now the game’s most valuable midfielder.
FOTM: Johan Djourou- Many would have thought Jenkison, but he was saved by an assist.

Tottenham 1-5 Manchester City- Another sensational result, attacking point scoreres were once again prevalent. Dzeko netted four and Aguero one, while a hat trick of assists for Samir Nasri earned him is first major fantasy haul of the season.

A goal from defense for Younes Kaboul made his score respectable, with Van Der Vaart’s corner making him Tottenham’s most dangerous attacking player.

MOTM: Edin Dzeko- Need I explain…
FOTM: Benoit Assou Ekotto- Five conceded and a yellow card.

Newcastle 2-1 Fulham- Newcastle get their second consecutive win, but no clean sheet for early front runners Ryan and Steven Taylor. Leon Best was the undoubted attacking hero, scoring two goals.

For Fulham, Clint Dempsey scored his first of the season, while popular defenders like Riise, Hughes and Hangelaand remain stuck on one clean sheet.

MOTM: Leon Best- Two goals, an easy pick.
FOTM: Brede Hangelaand- Could have been any Fulham defender, but he is the most popular.

West Brom 0-1 Stoke- West Brom’s unfortunate start to the season continued with another unlucky loss. Ryan Shotton was the hero, in a game – interestingly – without a single yellow card.

Shotton took advantage of a Ben Foster error, consinging the former Manchester United keeper to a third match without a clean sheet.
MOTM: Ryan Shotton- Scorer of the winning goal.
FOTM: Ben Foster- Not terrible in fantasy terms, but it was his mistake which lost the match.
Enjoy the rest of our fantasy coverage.

Manchester Sends Out A Remarkable Message

Somewhere, an Arsenal fan just hanged himself. The malaise which the Gunners have slipped into over the past couple weeks was one that most saw coming – a function of questionable transfer business and an unfortunate series of injuries.

However, to concede eight goals, even at a venue like Old Trafford, is an unprecedented feat of self destruction. If he stays, Wenger better make sure he hasn’t got plans for Thursday nights anytime over the next eighteen months.

In many ways, playing in the Europa League is more manifestly demoralizing than not participating in Europe at all. Every week critics are reminded that their favorite punching bag dropped down a tier or so – just look at pre Kenny Dalglish Liverpool…

For all the goals and excitement, Sunday was a somber day of football. On the East coast of the US at least, all that happened was engulfed in the surreal atmosphere of a New Jersey hurricane, one which managed to deny this writer his fill of Premier League action. Moreover, the nature of North London’s demise was anything but pleasurable. What was once a set of closely fought fixtures began to gravitate towards the farcical – Roy of the Rovers stuff from Edin Dzeko but just the opposite from Arsene Wenger…

Both Spurs and Arsenal will seek comfort in the other’s annihilation – Tottenham fans pointing to the six goal margin, Arsenal ones to the White Hart Lane venue. Neither set of supporters can take much solace in their teams’ transfer activity though. If Harry Redknapp plans to replace a clearly unsettled Luka Modric with Scott Parker then, possibly, Park Chu Young won’t be labeled the least able replacement of the summer.

Clearly, there are problems in key areas that need solving. Spurs have yet to be vindicated in their purchase on loan of Emmanuel Adebayor, while Arsenal continue to toil in their quest for a central defender. In certain Manchester nemeses, no such weaknesses are apparent.

Rather than expose new signing David De Gea, Manchester United’s supposed “crisis” at the back resulted in the delivery of an ominous message. Jones and Smalling are both in Fabio Capello’s England squad for qualifiers coming up next month – two savvy buys by Ferguson, more proof that the Scotsman will never let his team grow stale.

Danny Welbeck too has made waves, now tied as the league’s second most prolific Englishman, the academy product is just a hat trick off teammate Wayne Rooney. His rise over the last seven days has been remarkable, unfortunate then that he was omitted from the England squad due to an injury

Across town Manchester City’s depth comes from money rather than development, with new acquisitions like Aguero continuing to shine brightly, and old ones like Dzeko just starting to. Their attacking fluidity is reminiscent of Arsenal at their best, though the support which Fabregas and Nasri never had at The Emirates is provided by a healthy backbone of Toure, De Jong and Kompany.

City may have taken multiple tries to get to the top, but in the end their hit and hope approach to market usage has trumped Arsenal’s measured and conservative one. Perhaps the success of Mancini, Sheikh Mansour and Gary Cook is indicative of the modern game – the long term rewards that City’s money will bring should stretch out farther even than Wenger’s infamous six years.

At the Etihad Stadium, City are poised for a shot at greatness. They have well and truly out muscled their adversaries. No longer will Spurs catch them at the death to claim Champions League qualification, no longer even will Arsenal worry them in pursuit of prizes yet grander.

And in that truth, there is sadness. Call it nostalgia if you will, but the destruction of two teams once celebrated is one not worthy of jubilation. Many find joy in others’ misfortune – the Germans even have a word for it – but no matter how many goals Manchester racked up, there was never going to be any happiness about Sunday’s striking bonanza.

Macheda Entering Last Chance Saloon

It is a moment that all United fans will remember forever, one which has gone down in Old Trafford folklore, and helped push Fergie’s men over the line towards title number eighteen. Some commentators weren’t even pronouncing his name correctly at the time, but Macheda’s last gasp winner over Aston Villa in April 2009 was just vintage United.

Since then though, the Italian’s career has entered a bit of a trough, promoted from the reserves, Macheda was only ever able to score a handful of goals for the Red Devils; four in total, two in 08/09 and one last season, to go with one the season before.

This year, the arrival of Chicharito Hernandez pushed the Italian U21 international lower and lower down the pecking order, until Fergie deemed it appropriate to send him out on loan for the remainder of last season. Unfortunately, Macheda’s move to Sampdoria proved ill fated; the young striker struggled for form in a team that was eventually relegated to Serie B. Trying to fill the boots of players like Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini proved too difficult for the one time Old Trafford hero, raising doubts about his future filling in for even bigger stars like Rooney and Hernandez.

Now, Macheda has returned to Old Trafford, and delivered a message of intent, stating his desire to remain with the Red Devils. Whether or not United sign or sell a star striker this summer, Macheda will find it difficult to break into the first team, so the chances he is presented with must be pounced upon.

Ferguson is renowned for his patience, he is always willing to give players second chances at proving themselves, and Macheda will need that second chance. A couple of match winning performances two years ago forced a reputation on the lad that he wasn’t ready to live up to, a reputation which has only provoked disappointment.

Not every player is good enough to consistently perform for United, and Macheda is beginning to run out of chances to prove that he is part of that select few. His turn and shot against Aston Villa was one of the most sensational pieces of skill ever enjoyed by the Old Trafford faithful, but there have been too many missed chances and mishit passes since then; mistakes which have frustrated fans that much more due to the Italian’s early exploits.

Alongside players like Welbeck, Diouf and Obertan, Macheda is entering a last chance saloon; one final, golden opportunity to become a key part of the Manchester United squad. What comes of Macheda’s cameo showings in the opening weeks of next season could end up defining his career, he has reached a crossroads, one direction points to glory the other to mediocrity-probably in Serie A.

As the start of the new season draws closer and closer, Macheda must begin to prepare himself for the challenges ahead, and the battle that looms if he is to force his way back into the first team. As a devoted follower of “Kiko” throughout his Untied career, I hope that he manages to impress, and eventually moves alongside Zola in the pantheon of the Premier League’s Italian stars.

Will Macheda play a starring role next season?

This article was originally published by The Chairman/David Yaffe-Bellany on Red Flag Flying High
Follow David Yaffe-Bellany on Twitter @INFTH

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