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Eleven players I’d like to see leave the Premier League August 30, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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Today, it appears Joe Cole and Christian Poulsen are poised to leave Liverpool for Ligue 1. I’m sure Liverpool fans are pretty happy to see the two remaining emblems of Roy Hodgson’s era out the door. I’m also pretty glad to see them go. Poulsen’s talentless and negative and nobody likes to see him play. Joe Cole’s presence in the league was a monkey on its back: sure, everybody’s having a good time, but we should really resolve the Joe Cole situation. Now, at least, he’s under the rug where we don’t have to think about him.

But why stop at these two. The Premiership still contains plenty of players I’d like to see out. Here’s eleven of them:

Brad, don't listen to what Shay's telling you!

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan, Aston Villa.

This is an act of patriotism: When Guzan was learning his trade at Brad Friedel’s feet, he was the master’s apprentice. But with Friedel gone, he’ll be taking his cues from Shay Given, not good news for those of us who like to see American goalkeepers communicate with their defenders and claim crosses. Guzan would be better off coming back to MLS and being first choice.

Well that was a mistake

Right-back: Marcos Angeleri, Sunderland.

It seemingly became apparent to everyone within days of Angeleri’s signing that he was a huge mistake. I feel like he should be put out of his misery.

This is what I like to see

Center back: Steve Taylor, Newcastle.

I don’t like to see his I’m-God’s-gift-to-defending attitude on the pitch. John Terry has the same thing going on, but he also has going for him that he is an excellent center back who can read the game. Taylor just roughs people up.

Maybe this is why he hasn't been quite the same since the 2006 World Cup ...

Center back: Pablo Ibanez, West Brom.

Pablo kept Carlos Marchena out of the Spain team at the 2006 World Cup, a testament to his quality. Not being able to hack it at West Brom doesn’t mean a player’s not good — Borja Valero struggled there before becoming one of the best midfielders in La Liga. If Pablo returns to La Liga, I bet he’ll be a valued asset to someone. (Carlos Cuellar might like a return to Spain too)

We'll probably never see Beye play again

Left-back: Habib Beye, Aston Villa.

Beye spent a couple of seasons looking incredible in the Premiership, but lately Aston Villa managers have preferred Chris Herd, Eric Lichaj and Carlos Cuellar to him, none of them really right-backs. The Senegal international should get out and do something with his career, but he’s bound to retire, unnoticed, on the Villa bench.

Get out of there!

Right midfield: Giovani dos Santos, Tottenham Hotspur.

You get the really frustrating sense Dos Santos is just sticking around Spurs because he knows he won’t get that kind of money elsewhere. The silly thing about that is that Dos Santos could become one of the best players in the world if he found a team where he could fit in, like say Villarreal. Then a raise to a better salary than the one he’s on now would surely be forthcoming, rather than the decade of benchwarming that seems inevitable if he stays put for a couple more years.

This man is no fun

Central midfield: Steven Gerrard, Liverpool.

Look how much fun Liverpool’s players are having right now with all these zippy new midfielders, not to mention how much fun you’re having watching them. Once Gerrard comes back, the fun could be over; he’ll just muscle his way into the team ahead of one of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson and start spraying overambitious balls into the stands. I have a better idea: send Gerrard to MLS to become the US league’s next geriatrico.

You can make this face in the Championship

Central midfielder: Michael Tonge, Stoke City.

Tonge is one of a cadre of players with nominal, lower tier top flight experience Stoke kind of scraped together to fill out the squad following promotion (along with Andrew Davies, Tom Soares, Amdy Faye, Ibrahima Sonko). All of them were pretty much just punts and few remain. Tonge could do a job for a Championship team; let him return there. Soares, Robbie Blake and Rob Hulse are other hostages to squad depth who should drop down.

Wouldn't anyone like to buy a nice Russian international for a good cause?

Left midfield: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Everton.

Everton coach David Moyes needs money to sign new blood. Won’t someone take pity on him and give him a generous sum for one of his more undesirable
players (I’d like to see Joseph Yobo and Yakubu Aiyegbeni find new homes in the Premiership, though)? There’s almost certainly a Russian team with 10 million or so to blow on a languid left-sided longshot merchant, right?

Roberto Carlos doesn't know it, but he needs a Range Rover with pink hubcaps

Attacking midfielder: Stephen Ireland, Aston Villa.

I think I’ve already made clear just why and how he ought to find himself at Anzhi Makachkala.

This man needs to share his gift with the world

Striker: Ricardo Fuller, Stoke.

Fuller is a personal favorite of mine, a guy who’s so much fun to watch that it’s a crime to keep him hidden away on the bench. I totally understand Tony Pulis, because Jon Walters and Kenwyne Jones make a great strike partnership, but Ricardo Fuller’s erratic genius is something fans should get to see week in, week out somewhere. I would be incredibly happy if he signed for the Portland Timbers. Other forwards who should go where we can see their gifts include Craig Bellamy, El-Hadji Diouf, and Dimitar Berbatov, but they’re all likely to leave already.

UEFA Cup observations March 12, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer, European soccer, French soccer, German soccer, Italian soccer, Portuguese soccer, Spanish soccer.
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I don’t care about the UEFA Cup. I care so little about it that I refuse to acknowledge its nonsensical name-change, which I assume UEFA made because this tournament is such a shameful farce that European soccer’s governing body no longer wanted to be associated with it. The most damning evidence is the recent triumphs from the former Soviet Union, largely a consequence of the fact that nobody good actually cares about this competition, meaning the fittest side (i.e. Ukrainian and Russian teams whose season has historically started about this time of year) often wins.

Because I don’t care about it, I didn’t watch it today, aside from about 10 snooze-inducing minutes of Liverpool vs. Lille I squeezed in before my class. That was definitely the biggest mistake of the day. So here’s 10 half-assed observations:

  • Liverpool is really, really bad. Seriously. Stevie Gerrard is closing on 30 and I think Liverpool may have intentionally signed a clutch of woeful players to disguise the fact that he is now past it. It’s not really anyone’s fault except whoever it is that keeps stopping the club from building a new stadium that can generate the kind of revenue the other big English teams’ arenas do. Oh, also the owners. These factors have colluded to inflict a truly wretched team to watch upon the rest of us.
  • French advertising laws: kind of a good thing. Liverpool has always had to wear special shirts stripped of Carlsberg’s logo for trips to France, because alcoholic beverages can’t be advertised there. As a free-speech fan, I am against this. As someone who thinks uniforms look better with fewer logos, I am for this. Nonetheless, someone in Liverpool’s organization is an idiot for not arranging a separate, incremental sponsorship deal for away games in France.
  • Wait, where did David Navarro come from? I thought the Valencia defender had been exiled to the second division for his behavior against Inter a couple of years ago. Shouldn’t he still be serving a lengthy European ban? I guess not, cause guess who started for los Che against Werder Bremen today. You’d have to think either a.) there’s some happy redemption story in there somewhere; or b.) Valencia’s standards have fallen since the days of Roberto Ayala.
  • Standard Liege: dark horse? I didn’t watch the Belgians play Panathinaikos, but I did see them several times in the Champions League this season, and I like them. Certainly, them winning it would be a lot cooler than anyone else doing so. With all the amazing young players coming out of Flanders, that victory might even be the herald of a new dawning in Belgian soccer, if the country can get its act together.
  • My pre-season UEFA Cup prediction’s not looking so hot. Taking a 1-1 draw into an away leg’s not really good news for any side. I predicted Benfica would win it this year, simply because of a front five too good for the Portuguese league. But the gentleman over at Zonal Marking.net said Benfica’s quality in Portugal stems in part from the namby-pamby style of play in Portugal and I guess coming up against a muscular Marseille wasn’t their cup of tea.
  • Atletico Madrid can’t break down 10 men. I guess they’re just a laughingstock, no?
  • Do the Dutch hate Belgians? Two of Hamburg’s scorers against Anderlecht were Dutch.
  • Fulham’s result is a bad thing. Does Juventus really care about the UEFA Cup? Because Fulham does. Just saying.
  • Where did Grafite go? I’m not bothering to check, but he played against Ireland recently. That meant 89-year-old Obefemi Martins in Wolfsburg’s starting lineup.
  • Unirea Urziceni should be here.