Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku desperate to prove himself at Stamford Bridge following impressive pre-season


Stanley Chou

Romelu Lukaku has revealed he always knew he would become one of the Premier League’s most wanted youngsters.

But he is now ­desperate to prove himself at ­Chelsea, ­instead of ­becoming a loan star once again.

Lukaku outscored his Chelsea colleagues in the Premier League last ­season, despite being on loan at West Brom.

netted 17 times at the Hawthorns, alerting a host of European clubs.

EveryPremier League side outside the top four would love to take ­Lukaku on loan. Liverpool will even ask about him if they are forced to sell star ­forward Luis ­Suarez.

However,Chelsea have been adamant Lukaku will start the season at Stamford Bridge and the Belgium international is aiming to ­outperform his ­team-mates again – but this time for the Blues.

Richard Heathcote 

Askedhow it feels that so many clubs want him, Lukaku replied: “It feels good. I knew that, if I ­performed well, people would make a lot of ­requests for me. But I’m a Chelsea player and happy to be here. It’s upto me. If I do well, I will play.

“I have always felt like a Chelsea player, even at West Brom.”

, but admits life is much tougher than at The Hawthorns.

It will get even harder if Jose ­Mourinho lands top target Wayne Rooney, but Lukaku is determined to rise to the ­challenge.

“It’snot easy at Chelsea, it’s not easy at all,” said ­Lukaku. “You have to show yourself every day ­because you know how big the competition is and, if you don’t do well, there is always a player that can take your place.

“Of course, I think I can get into the first team at Chelsea. But there is still room for ­improvement.”

Anothermotivation for him is to ­regain his starting spot for Belgium ahead ofAston Villa’s Christian Benteke in time for next year’s World Cup.

“Iwant to play everywhere,” said Lukaku. “I want to be back in the starting XI in the national team, I want to be in the starting XI of Chelsea.”


Goal-line technology: Rio Ferdinand says he is AGAINST gizmos and admits he doesn't like change in football


Mike Hewitt – FIFA

Rio Ferdinand fears ­goal-line technology is about to take the fun out of football, .

From the start of the new ­season, thePremier League ­becomes the world’s first ­domestic division to use theHawk-Eye system to decide if a goal has been scored.

Butthe Manchester United centre-half believes it is ­unnecessary – and is concerned that too many alterations are being made to the game.

Ferdinandsaid: “Change is a word I don’t like in football. It is such a great sport, and we are always trying to find ways to change it. Why?

“It has great traditions. Even goal-line technology, I don’t agree with it.

“Incidents like that add to the game because it runs into radio phone-ins, people talk about it in the pub and in other media. Was it a goal or wasn’t it?

“People end up disappointed in those situations but it is swings and roundabouts.


“Tottenhamscored a goal against us once – it more or less hit the net – but it wasn’t given. That happens sometimes and you take it on the chin. Peopleare too quick to try to spice up the game. I say leave it as it is.”

Ferdinandhas seen it all in his 10 years at Old Trafford – and will celebrate with a testimonial match against Sevilla at Old Trafford on Friday.

and will resume a coaching coursethis year as he weighs up the prospect of going into management once hehangs up his boots.

Ferdinandsaid: “I want to give myself the option to be a ­manager. That way if someone does offer me a job, I have the ability to do it.

“I still don’t know if I want to do it or if I would be good.


“But I do think there is ­something to give back to ­football from me.

“I started my coaching badges three years ago but I had issues with my back so could not ­continue it.

“I will start again this year and then hopefully by the time I ­retire I will have my coaching badges behind me.

“Whether it be with our younger teams, the under-21s or someone else, I have no idea yet.”

Ferdinand,34, will remain an integral part of the squad as United attempt to retain their title once the campaign kicks off on August 17. He took up yoga three years ago to give him better longevity, inspired by team-mateRyan Giggs. But ballet lessons as a kid also set him up for a long career.

Ferdinand said: “With the ballet, at the start it was just about getting off my estate and going to meet new girls.

“I would travel 45 minutes on a bus toget there. I didn’t tell my mates ­because they would have hammered me.But I enjoyed it and I went two or three times a week.

“Eventually I had to make a decision on what I wanted to do and I chose football – but ballet paid off in a lot of respects.

“With balance and being ­supple it helped, so I am thankful I went to a ballet school.”

Rio Ferdinand’s new book Rio: My Decade As A Red is out on August 9.

Arsenal 1-2 Galatasaray recap: Updates and analysis as it happened from the Emirates Cup


3:37 pmJohn Cross

Hello there!

Welcome to day two of the Emirates Cup, where Arsene Wenger has rung the changes and is giving a debut to his "top class" new striker.

No, we’re not talking Luis Suarez. It’s French youngster Yaya Sanogo, of course. The French under-20 striker joined Arsenal after his contract expired at Auxerre.

And Wenger berated me at Friday’s press conference for not having enough faith or high enough expectations in Sanogo.

I’m given to believe he’s technically brilliant. And, of course, he’s relatively unknown. Unless you watched the World Under-20 championships, won by France. Shades of Nicolas Anelka? Let’s hope so, Arsene.

Santi Cazorla is also back and starting after his extended break following the Confederations Cup.

With Porto winning, it’s all set up as a winner takes all with Arsenal due to play Galatasaray at 4.20pm kick-off.

Arsenal team: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Walcott, Sanogo

3:43 pm

Hello from me as well!

I’m Ed Malyon and I’ll be guiding you through this afternoon’s semi-competitive proceeding from North London.

Everybody’s go-to man for Arsenal, John Cross, is in situ at the Emirates Stadium to provide us with his own unique insight and opinion as the Gunners look to end their trophy drought (even though it doesn’treallycount).

Sanogo starts for Arsenal, an intriguing choice and you can

Otherwise, strap yourselves in and grab a drink because it could be a long 90 minutes if yesterday’s struggles against Napoli are anything to go on.

3:58 pm

Turkish delights:

Galatasaray will line-up thus: Muslera, Melo, Hamit, Elmander, Riera, Umut, Chedjou, Semih, Eboue, Engin, Amrabat.

That lineup is in shirt number order, by the way, not done by position.

And yes, Emmanuel Eboue is in there 🙂


4:15 pm

In case you missed it, Arsenalagainst Rafael Benitez’s Napoli yesterday.

Lorenzo Insigne was pretty impressive for the visitors, but late goals from French duo Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny stole three points for the Gunners.

(No, that’s not a mistake – this competition has a weird points system.)

4:22 pm

And we’re off!

Galatasaray kick us off here at the Emirates, wearing their black away kit.

Skipper Emmanuel Eboué gets a brilliant reception from the Emirates crowd, but there’s an early chance for Sanogo! OH! Should score.

The young Frenchman is thrust into the action by a stray pass and had a great opportunity to put his new club ahead – only to shoot too tamely when forced wide.

Lively start.

4:24 pm

What a chance for Sanogo to open up his Arsenal career in style!

That said, Gervinho scored with his first-ever touch for the club against Koln… and look how that one turned out.

Incidentally the Ivorian isn’t in the squad today.ahead of a move to Roma.

4:27 pm


Arsenal have a big appeal for a spot kick turned down – and on first look it certainly appeared to be a strong case.

Some neat interplay from the hosts ended up with Aaron Ramsey (I think) getting his foot caught as he attempted a big backlift for a shot.

He went down and Gala scrambled it clear, but it’s not given and they will continue here.

4:33 pm

Yaya Sanogo watch:

The forward has had a quiet start so far – with the chance he was gifted arguably coming a tad early.

He looks to be very mobile, and will attempt to stretch defences laterally – exemplified moments ago by his run into the right channel that brought the central defenders out of position.

Nobody capitalised on that space, but we’re beginning to get a picture of the sort of player he is.

4:38 pm

Nice play from Sanogo again there.

The Frenchman dropped in deep to pick up the ball, and then dinked a ball over for Theo Walcott to chase that had Gala in all sorts of trouble.

Promising moments, but Sanogo doesn’t look particularly speedy so learning to use Walcott’s pace could be crucial if he’s to be a success at the Emirates.

4:41 pm


Theo Walcott should score, but he’s chipped it agonisingly wide!

It was an excellent pass from Aaron Ramsey to split the defence and put Theo into the one-on-one situation but he must do better from that sort of area.

Galatasaray now increasing in confidence going forward but looking vulnerable at the back.

4:45 pmJohn Cross

Crossy’s been in touch from the Emirates:

Arsenal made a decent start and new boy Yaya Sanogo has shown some nice touches.

But it’s 0-0. And Theo Walcott missed a wonderful chance after 18 minutes.

Aaron Ramsey’s long ball over the top was controlled beautifully by Walcott but the England forward’s first time flick went narrowly wide.

Galatasaray, who won their opening game with Porto, have looked good despite leaving Drogba and Sneijder on the bench.

I love Galatasaray boss Fatih Terim. He fits in well in North London. White collared shirt untucked from his trousers shouting for Galatasaray.

4:51 pm

Arsenal come forward down the left on this occasion, but a deep cross to the far post is clawed away by Fernando Muslera – the highly-rated Galatasaray keeper.

You may remember Sir Alex Ferguson enquiring about him after some stellar performances against Manchester United in the Champions League, and he’s saved his side there with a man lurking.

Engin is down injured at the moment, so the players are having a wee drink. Still 0-0.

5:00 pm


Wowzers, Arsenal score and everyone is a bit perplexed.

Theo Walcott’s corner is cleared but only as far as an Arsenal player, the ball comes back to the retreating Walcott and he whips a right-footed ball across, curling and fizzing across the face of goal.

Plenty line up to nod it home but everybody misses it, and the flailing Muslera can’t prevent it creeping inside his far post.

1-0 to the Gunners.

5:05 pmJohn Cross

More from Crossy:

Book the open top bus and town hall parade.

Theo Walcott has made it 1-0 after 39 minutes.

His cross turned shot deceived the Galatasaray defence and carried all the way into the far corner.

An offside flag spared Sanogo’s blushes as Arsenal’s lively new boy saw his close range shot well saved. He should have netted.

If scores stay like this, Arsenal will win the tournament. It almost feels like the last day of last season all over again. Is that eight year trophy drought about to end? It’s only the Emirates Cup, you say…

5:07 pm


It’s the break at the Emirates and Arsenal lead by a goal to nil.

Theo Walcott had the best chance of the half, but lifted it wide when it was easier to score at 0-0.

Then, when attempting a simple cross, he managed to beat everyone and claim an unlikely goal but a deserved lead.

Yaya Sanogo has been energetic if not particularly productive as of yet, and he should have scored in the first minute.

Arsenal looking better than yesterday though, and it’s 1-0 at HT.

5:27 pm

Some substitutions:

But all for Arsenal at the start of the second half.

Drogba, Sneijder and…er… Colak come on for the Turkish side.

Elmander, Altintop and Bulut are the three replaced.

5:31 pm

Sneijder has brought a bit of quality to the Galatasaray team and they are now enjoying a period of sustained possession.

Didier Drogba provides a constant threat up front, and even at his age he is still scaring the life out of defenders.

Nothing has come of this increased threat yet, and it remains 0-0.

5:40 pm

Substitution for Arsenal:

Gedion Zelalem comes on for Santi Cazorla.

This kid was born in 1997 – which means he possesses the rare quality of making me feel old.

John Cross assures us that this kid is the real deal.

5:44 pm

Yaya Sanogo’s day is done:

Olivier Giroud replaces him and will be charged with impressing the crowds here.

With Arsenal’s ludicrously public chase for Luis Suarez, he knows his place is under threat and we could see him following Gervinho’s path if he’s not careful.

Ignasi Miquel is also on (for Kieran Gibbs) and Sabri Sarioglu has come on for Gala.

5:49 pm

Good chance!

Olivier Giroud with the header, and only a good save from Muslera denies him.

Arsenal probably could have had a penalty a moment ago when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken down but once more nothing given in the box.

Giroud has had a well-hit drive and a strong header saved in the last few minutes and has already provided more threat than the man he replaced.

5:55 pm


My goodness, that is a hideous dive from Didier Drogba but the ref has given it!

Arsenal can’t believe it but the decision has been made. Outrageous.

5:57 pm


Never in doubt from the former Chelsea favourite, and Arsenal have 12 minutes to win this game and lift the trophy.

Gala have been far better since bringing on their two big hitters at the break, and while that wasn’t deserved in terms of the penalty decision, their play has been good enough to merit something.

Game on.

5:58 pm

Substitution: Theo Walcott OFF, Lukas Podolski ON; Aaron Ramsey OFF, Chuba Akpom ON:

Arsenal make some changes to try and grab a late winner.

Another chance for a youngster too.

6:00 pm

So, if Arsenal get a winner they’ll have won their fourth Emirates Cup since the tournament began in 2007.

You can’t help but feel that we can’t take too much from any of these games though, knowing that they are going to significantly add to this squad.

Only Sanogo – who tried hard but achieved little – and youngsters Zemalem and Akpom are any different to last year’s squad.

Therefore, you’d expect them to be fairly cohesive and used to their system, which they have been, but until significant reinforcements arrive there’s little reason to believe they’ll improve on last year’s finish.

6:02 pm

Crossy can’t believe it!

And just when Arsenal fans thought they had seen the back of Didier Drogba….Ignasi Miquel conceded the penalty for the smallest of nudges in Drogba’s back.

Drogba steps up… Well, if he’s scored in a penalty shoot-out in the Champions League final, then he’s hardly going to miss in the Emirates Cup.

It’s 1-1.

Drogba always had a sign over Arsenal when he played for Chelsea and nothing has changed.

Galatasaray fans have taken over the Emirates. Terrific atmosphere. And here come Podolski and Akpom on as substitutes to try and win it.



And who else would it be but Didier Drogba?

The Ivorian receives a sumptuous ball from Wesley Sneijder, raking it across from the left touchline on about halfway – but what happens next is sublime as Drogba kills it on the spot, changes direction in an instant (taking Per Mertesacker out of the game) and then thumping a left-footed strike into the back of the net.

An absolute howitzer to end a wonderful passage of play.

Brilliant. 2-1 Gala.

6:09 pm


What a turnaround, and Didier Drogba steals the headlines.

And what is more classic Drogba than the controversy we saw for the first goal segueing into brilliance for the second.

Arsenal, as discussed a few minutes ago, have played alright in this competition but what have they learned?

What have they gained from it apart from fitness?

Nothing, I fear.

6:13 pmJohn Cross

Crossy’s final look:

We might as well have packed up and gone home as soon as Didier Drogba came on.

He always scores against the Arsenal. After levelling from the penalty spot, he’s won it for Galatasaray with a typically ruthless and brutal finish.

Wesley Sneijder played the pass, Drogba seized on it, turned the Arsenal defence and rifled home.

An absolute legend of the game.

Galatasaray win the Emirates Cup. It’s all over 1-2.

Here’s the final table:

Galatasaray 9Porto 6Arsenal 4 Napoli 46:19 pm

They are doing an actual trophy presentation here.


And Galatasaray lift the Emirates Cup in front of a half-empty (being generous) Emirates Stadium to mild glee.

Congratulations Gala, and congratulations you little critters for sticking with me on this most peculiar of days.

Not only do Arsenal need to get to the bottom of this Luis Suarez nonsense, but they probably need a couple of other new faces in if they’re to take advantage of the possible instability in last year’s top three having all changed their managers.

If Arsenal can’t kick on in a summer like this then it’s truly a wasted opportunity.

Cheers for joining us, and see you next time.


Liverpool and Tottenham transfer news: Can Luis Suarez be worth just half a Gareth Bale – check the stats


John Powell

They both carried their teams on their backs last season yet one is deemed to be worth twice the value of the other.

GarethBale’s were an outstanding return for a winger and made him the go-to guy once the goals dried up for Emmanuel Adebayorand Jermain Defoe.

But Luis Suarez struck 30 times for Liverpool last year, the first player so to do since Fernando Torres in the 2007/8 campaign.

has expressed his confusion at the fact that while to raise up to £105million for 24-year-oldBale.

While Rodgers is clearly trying to get the best possible price he can for a player that he knows wants out of Anfield, it is hard to disagree with his view thatBale is not twice the player that Suarez is.

In fact, Suarez performed marginally better in the Premier League last season.

Both players played 33 times in the top flight but Suarez hit 23 goals compared to just 21 from Bale.


Interms of assists, Suarez edges it there as well with five goals to Bale’s four. And in percentage terms the value of both players to their clubs was equal with each scoring 32percent of their team’s goals.

Yes,Suarez has baggage with his short fuse offsetting his undoubted brilliance. But it will be interesting to see whether Rodgers gains any support for his view that Suarez is grossly underrated.

Eitherway, should Suarez join Bale in Madrid both players will do well to match the feats of footballing shock and awe set by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Last season Ronaldo hit a superb 34 goals in 34 appearances and, including assists, created 62 chances.

LeoMessi hit a staggering 46 goals in 31 La Liga appearances – a shooting accuracy of 62percent – and, including assists, created 46 chances.

No pressure then…

Bale vs Suarez, pure numbers, no opinions

Premier League 2012-13

Gareth Bale,Luis Suárez



Minutes On Pitch2,9242,955



Mins per goal139128

Headed goals13

Right footed goals415

Left footed goals165

Goals inside box1218

Goals outside box95

Penalty goals00

Direct free kick goals22


Total shots (including blocked)165187

Shots On Target7372

Shots Off Target6071

Shooting Accuracy54.9%50.3%

Chance Conversion15.8%16.1%

Blocked shots3244

% of Team Goals31.8%32.4%



Touches per game63.562.4

Goal Assists45

Key Passes7186

Total Passes1,1311,203

Pass Completion %79%77%

Pass Completion in final third %72%72%



Duels won %44%38%


Total Crosses27258

Cross Completion %23%28%


Dribbles & Runs154291

Dribble Completion %38%33%


Tackles Made3342

Tackles Won %73%81%






Fouls won4761


Yellow Cards610

Red Cards00

Arsenal 1-2 Galatasaray: Arsene Wenger hails classic Didier Drogba soft penalty at Emirates Cup



last night claimed a “classic” Didier Drogba penalty robbed Arsenal of their annual trophy.

Wenger even laughingly said “very” SIXTIMES as he described Drogba’s penalty award as being “soft” after the ex-Chelsea striker took a tumble to win a spot kick.

Drogba,Arsenal’s nemesis down the years, duly converted the spot kick and thenfired a spectacular late winner to seal the Emirates Cup for Galatasaray.

** with our LIVE BLOG rewind **

It may not be the Premier League title or FA Cup, but the traditional pre-season curtain raiser has at least swelled the Arsenal trophy cabinet during the past eight barren years.

Wenger said: “It was a classic Drogba. I think honestly the penalty was very, very, very, very, very, very soft.

“Drogbadid well when he come on. You could see he has kept that physical strength and that intelligent game and he finished well.

“ButI must say we were exhausted in the end, especially Per Mertesacker whoplayed the two full games after just coming back from Asia, and he (Drogba) took advantage.”

Itwas Ignasi Miquel who “bundled” Drogba over and referee Jon Moss did not hesitate to award a spot kick. Drogba’s penalty cancelled out Theo Walcott’s first half opener.

Drogbathen monstered Arsenal again with a late winner after seizing on fellowsubstitute Wesley Sneijder’s through ball, turned the defence with his right foot and then rifled home with his left. Intriguigingly, Drogba has never been booked in English football for diving.

Wengerhas not managed to land any of his top targets yet but was pleased withnew boy Yaya Sanogo, the French youngster who joined after his contractexpired at Auxerre.

Sanogo led the attack and impressed even though he failed to take a couple of openings while Walcott and substitute Olivier Giroud both went close.

Swansea's pre-season so good it's got skipper Ashley WIlliams looking up the table already


Michael Regan

Ashley Williams is "scared" to admit just how good he thinks Swansea can be this season, writes Matt Lloyd.

scored a remarkable 28 goals in just seven pre-season matches and conceded just once.

And they will take this week for the second leg of their Europa League qualifier.

Now skipper Williams, who lifted the club’s first major silverware in the Capital One Cup Final in February, reckons the Welsh club can hit new heights this season.

He said: "I’m really excited and I’m almost scared to admit that I think we’re going to be good this season. I don’t want to jinx it.

"We’ve progressed every year but I’ve never had a pre-season this good before. We’ve scored a lot of goals and haven’t conceded many. It couldn’t have gone better."

Swansea have won plenty of admirers for their passing football, inspired by an armada of Spanish talent.

Michael Regan 

But Williams reckons with the capture of England midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony.

He said: "The new boys have fitted straight in and I’ve never known this level of competition for places here before.

"I’m a big fan of Jonjo’s and you can see what Wilfried brings to the team. He’s a great focal point for us attacking-wise and we haven’t had that sort of physical presence up front since Jason Scotland in the Championship [in 2009].

"I’m sure when he gets up to speed and knows Michu’s game, those two are going to be a big threat."Swansea face Malmo on Thursday aiming to carry their form into the Premier League and hand David Moyes a testing start to his Manchester United reign on August 17.

Williams said: "He [Moyes] came to watch us last week and I hope he was impressed.

"We couldn’t ask for anything better on the opening day and we’ll be right up for it."


Cardiff injury blow as record signing Andreas Cornelius in danger of missing Premier League bow



Malky Mackay could be without record signing Andreas Cornelius for the Premier League kick-off, writes Matt Lloyd.

Mackay splashed £8million for the 20-year-old Danish international – then

Butthe striker is in danger of missing first game back in the top flight for 51 years after he damaged his ankle in training.

Mackaysaid: “We’re working on him to get him back for the start of the season. I would be guessing right now if he will be fit for the first game but we still have two weeks.”

CraigBellamy also missed Saturday’s 1-0 win over Serie A regulars AC Chievo-Verona after he was laid low by an illness. But South Korean midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung proved he could be a surprise goal-scorer this season after hitting the target for a third game in a row.

Stephen Caulker made his debut off the bench following a £9m move from Spurs.

Steve Gerrard celebrates testimonial with family, fellow Liverpool players – and 'Lady in Red' crooner Chris de Burgh



Manchester United's transfer business this summer has been nothing short of an embarrassment – Nooruddean Choudry



Next Sunday take on Wigan Athletic in the FA Community Shield at Wembley.

A glorified friendly it may be but as sure as Dave Whelan will dedicate any victory to the broken leg that seemingly never healed, so the game takes on Anderson-sized importance for David Moyes as an early indicator of how he’ll cope as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor.

It has always been the traditional curtain-raiser to a new season but as far as United are concerned you almost expect a spokesperson to comically fumble through the velvet drapes Eric Morecambe style and sheepishly announce that a special guest has failed to turn up.

It would be fitting for a close season that has seen the club descend into very public farce.

To his credit Moyes was quick to identify midfield as requiring specific and immediate attention, an admission that felt positively Archimedian to United supporters urging the club to add quality to the area for years.

Yet weeks on Uruguayan Guillermo Varela remains the club’s sole recruit – a youth player invited to train at the club during Ferguson’s reign. Moyes must feel like boy who wanted a bike for Christmas only to be told he was Muslim.


United have spent the summer like a drunk and creepy uncle at a wedding; clumsily making unwelcome passes at anyone vaguely attractive, whilst groping repeatedly and embarrassingly at the plus-ones of others.

Extending the metaphor further you wonder whether they’d be in any fit state to seal the deal were anyone to actually say yes.

New chief executive and Ian Hislop-alike Ed Woodward hasn’t exactly helped. At the beginning of the summer most supporters would have been satisfied enough with a decent midfielder and exciting young recruit or two.

Since then Woodward has publicly stated that United wouldn’t bat an eyelid at spending £60 or 70m on the right man, whilst the club have repeatedly briefed the media about the world-class standard of player they are in the market for.

Big names and have been banded about as prospective targets and expectations have soared.

It has added unnecessary pressure on United to produce and produce big. Whereas the club would previously be at pains to deny any such speculation, the new incumbents seem intent on fuelling it.

Whether it’s intentional or not the club have become a bit of a circus, and not in a good way. The kind where everyone looks like an incompetent clown and the wheels come off at the end.

Missing out on Thiago was understandable. He decided to join his mentor at Bayern and there was little United could do about it.

What is less becoming is the very public pursuit of Cesc Fabregas. The player himself has wisely kept his council; Barcelona have consistently claimed he’s not for sale (as they would); but United have conducted a cringeworthy negotiation-by-media like some attention-seeking Big Brother contestant eager to stretch out their fifteen minutes of fame.

The whole episode and indeed the summer has been an embarrassment. Every move has seemed amateur and clumsy. The club are working through their plans A, B and C like a dullard loudly reciting the alphabet and struggling to get past the first letter.

If they miss out on Fabregas and turn their attentions to, say, Luca Modric, how will he feel about being a very public consolation prize for the one that got away? Selling clubs will also start to sense United’s desperation and add idiot tax to any quoted price.


You’ve got to feel for Moyes in all of this. A few weeks ago he excitedly announced that the chairman had told him there was ‘no budget’ at United. He must now be wondering whether that’s the same ‘no budget’ he had to contend with at Everton.

The club need to back a manager who will be under tremendous pressure to succeed from the outset. It requires an intelligence, decisiveness and tact in their pursuit of players that looks far beyond them.

Sir Alex Ferguson famously referred to Manchester City as being United’s ‘noisy neighbours’. Recent months have seen one of those clubs go quietly and efficiently about the business of strengthening their squad whilst the other shouts very loudly and achieves precious little. There’s been plenty of talk of ‘marquee’ when not so much as a child’s tent has transpired.

Perhaps the most laughable story to come out of Old Trafford was Woodward dramatically jumping on a plane from Australia to deal with urgent business at the club. A few weeks on he still seems hopelessly unable to land.

Stoke striker Cameron Jerome admits breaching the FA's betting regulations


Laurence Griffiths

Cameron Jerome has admitted breaching the FA’s betting regulations.

now faces an Independent Regulatory Commission and could face a ban.

A statement on the FA’s website read: "The FA has charged Stoke City’s Cameron Jerome with breaches of its Rules in relation to a number of betting offences.

"Jerome has admitted the charges. A date for an Independent Regulatory Commission to hear the case will be set in due course."

No details have been released on Jerome’s offences but professional footballers are banned from certain betting activities like betting on games you are playing in.

Stoke released their own statement, saying: "Stoke City can confirm that Cameron Jerome accepts the FA charges made against him in relation to breaches of its betting rules.

"Cameron has admitted the charges and will in due course attend an Independent Regulatory Commission, at which he will be supported by the Club.

"The Club or the player will not be making any further comment at this time."

It’s not been a happy time for Jerome recently. He didn’t have a particularly enjoyable time under previous Potters boss Tony Pulis –