BBC BLOGS - Phil McNulty

Archives for July 2009

Arsenal will not miss Adebayor

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Phil McNulty | 10:01 UK time, Thursday, 16 July 2009

Michael Owen unveiling a brochure to attract buyers for himself is one thing - Arsenal fans doing likewise to attract a buyer for Emmanuel Adebayor is another.

While Owen's glossy pages spoke of "The Athlete, The Ambassador, The Icon", a replica produced by a group of Arsenal fans made a series of claims on Adebayor's behalf that were not altogether flattering.

According to his Emirates admirers, Adebayor's "brand values" included the Togo striker being "not small...wifi enabled...definitely not lazy..." Not to mention being "better than Marlon Harewood and Mido put together."

You get the picture. To the sound of tongues drilling holes in cheeks, this snapshot of Arsenal's support suggested he would not be missed should he leave.

And this is why Arsenal fans have not been storming the Emirates in fury at the club's decision to accept £25m of Manchester City's Abu Dhabi riches.

The reasoning is that Arsenal's team and bank balance would be enhanced by cashing in on Adebayor - and it is a theory based in sound logic.

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Tevez a sound deal for Man City

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Phil McNulty | 11:04 UK time, Monday, 13 July 2009

Manchester City's prolonged pursuit of England captain John Terry has almost allowed Carlos Tevez to creep in under the Eastlands radar - but the Argentine's imminent arrival will be portrayed as a defining moment by the club's hierarchy.

Robinho's capture was a stunning statement of intent by the Abu Dhabi United Group hours after they took control at Manchester City and they will regard Tevez as another significant marker in their mission to reach the Champions League.

Mark Hughes and Manchester City's millions have attracted big names since their elevation to the game's financial elite, but Tevez is a name known on a more global scale than Gareth Barry, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bridge or Roque Santa Cruz.

And the fact that Tevez added gloss to that worldwide reputation at Manchester United - and where he was idolised to an exaggerated degree by the Old Trafford crowd - will only add another layer of satisfaction to this deal.

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Ancelotti's reality check

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Phil McNulty | 11:18 UK time, Monday, 6 July 2009

Carlo Ancelotti breezed into Stamford Bridge armed with a tinder dry sense of humour and a self-confessed love of "irony" - which may help him see the funny side of Manchester City trying to strong-arm Chelsea into selling John Terry.

Chelsea, the club that once ruled the markets with a wave of Roman Abramovich's mighty chequebook, are suddenly on the receiving end of financial muscle being wielded by Manchester City's Abu Dhabi rulers.

This, illustrated by the once unthinkable notion that a symbolic Stamford Bridge figure could be spirited away by a club that cannot even offer him European football, is the new reality that greets Ancelotti as he starts his Chelsea reign.

If it was a state of affairs that unduly concerned Ancelotti as he was presented in a Stamford Bridge lounge, it did not show as he turned on the charm at a media briefing that even ended in an impromptu burst of applause.

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Owen worth Man Utd gamble

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Phil McNulty | 07:24 UK time, Friday, 3 July 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson placed his faith in something he trusts far more than a glossy brochure when he picked up the phone and offered Michael Owen a new home at Manchester United.

Owen's management team produced the 32-page magazine advertising their client's qualities - aspirational, cool, devoted and sincere to name but four - and delivered a slick reminder of why he was once one of football's genuine superstars.

Ferguson does not do brochures to buy players. Pure instinct and the love of a punt is often enough and the shock pursuit of Owen, mocked only days ago when Hull City and Stoke City declared an interest, is a prime example.

United's vast budget, helped by £80m from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo, lets Ferguson shop at the sharp end of the market - but also gives him the opportunity to take the odd chance. Owen falls neatly into that bracket as prospective targets Karim Benzema, David Villa and Franck Ribery go elsewhere.

So is this a sign of desperation creeping into United's transfer dealings or another piece of inspiration from the gambler Ferguson?

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Valencia is not Ronaldo-lite

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Phil McNulty | 08:52 UK time, Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Antonio Valencia is unlikely to be the most high-profile arrival at Manchester United this summer - but that will not spare him from the pressure of intense scrutiny.

Close examination comes with the territory when you are the first newcomer through Old Trafford's door in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo's £80m departure for Real Madrid.

And the fact that the 23-year-old Ecuadorian patrols a similar footballing beat to the Portuguese superstar will only bring his contribution to post-Ronaldo life at United into sharper focus.

Valencia cannot, however, be regarded as the straight replacement or a Ronaldo-lite. Sir Alex Ferguson will use the huge cheque banked on Wednesday to sign a variety of players to plug the gaps left by Ronaldo's magnificent attacking versatility.

This will be an accurate measure of the influence Ronaldo exerted on United, but Ferguson will back his own judgement - and the verdict of those who have worked closely with Valencia - to support the belief that he has brought a burgeoning talent to Old Trafford.

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