The lowdown on the new signings made by Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea
Tennis – two people, a tiny ball and a man on a very high chair. That’s not sport. That’s nonsense. The Olympics? An excuse to put lots of games nobody cares about on TV, whatever Seb Coe says – let’s do the right thing and ignore it.
Football – now there’s a sport (the Olympic version doesn’t count). Nothing can beat it for excitement, genuine vehement pointless hate and spirit lifting moments of brilliance. Nothing but Masterchef and that’s not on for ages. So in a bid to warm your balls before the action begins in August, here’s a look at how the latest Premier League new boys will fit in.
Eden Hazard - Chelsea
His ego isn’t just big, it’s a free-form beast that expands to fill whatever space it happens to be in. Like gas. How that’ll go down at Chelsea where the humongous heads of John Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard rule like slightly demented dictators – think Hitler in his bunker circa 1945 – is anybody’s guess.
Still he did score 88.3 goals per game for Lille, and that’s some going even in a league where Joe Cole has managed to twiddle his feet in a manner bordering on useful. He’s also fast and skilful, and as Alan Hansen always says “it’s a defenders worse nightmare when someone’s running at you at pace” – this ignores the existence of any pace other than fast and Theo Walcott, but logic has never been the average MOTD pundit’s strong point.
The likelihood is Hazard’s overconfidence will work in his favour. Think of Chelsea’s best players and there’s something of the twat about them; that’s why poor, lovely Fernando Torres isn’t working out. He’d rather provide a group of ducklings safe passage across a quiet B-road than roast a girl who’s just vomited over the side of a hotel bed. Old Eden, you’d imagine, would rather do the latter.
However Arsenal won’t win anything and Podolski will be pursued feverishly by Manchester City until he finally gets bored of catching Roberto Mancini hiding in his garden, and leaves.
Lukas Podolski - Arsenal
It has been decided, there’s no need for debate, Lukas Podolski will succeed at Arsenal. He will prove to Theo Walcott you can pass to a teammate while running, he will score, he will smile, he will learn English within 24 minutes and prove more adept at using it than Shakespeare, he will be funny.
He is just the kind of player Arsene Wenger introduces to greatness, a player who has experienced a few lows – he failed at Bayern Munich – but retains the talent that had everyone salivating when he scuttled onto the scene. However Arsenal won’t win anything and he will be pursued feverishly by Manchester City until he finally gets bored of catching Roberto Mancini hiding in his garden, and leaves.
Shinji Kagawa - Manchester United
Bar propping cynics might say: “This Japanese fella’s only ‘ere for the shirt sales. He won’t like it on a cold night at Stoke. The sashimi in Salford is dreadful,” which clearly underrates a player who propelled Borussia Dortmund to a league and cup double last season, forgets that Japan and Germany are no strangers to the cold, and, HELLO, there’s a Yo Shushi! at Manchester Piccadilly station. Food on conveyor belts - what more could he want?
At some point in the near future Kagawa could become a player that Manchester United’s parent club, Real Madrid, will want to pluck from their English academy and introduce to the big league. He can trick, dart and probe with a subtleness that Ashley cut-inside-and-cross Young would kill for if he wasn’t too busy scuttling around like a shocked crab. However whether that moment will dawn in the coming campaign is uncertain. After all at 23 he is but a pup and unlikely to command a regular first team place.
He won’t fill that Cristiano Ronaldo-shaped creative hole at Manchester United, but he isn’t another Diego Forlan or Kleberson either.
But even if Giroud is rubbish it won’t be Arsenal’s undoing. Their defence, which Wenger built using a balsa wood kit, and over reliance on Jack Wilshere, whose urchin-like fresh face hides the bone structure of a disintegrating 90-year-old man, might be though.
Olivier Giroud - Arsenal
Ah Olivier, imagine a smouldering Alan Shearer weaned on olive oil and foie gras. Imagine a man who could wrestle a bear before rustling up a coq au vin. Who could fell trees with his hands before gently massaging out the knots in your back. If he were a locker, and there’s no proof he isn’t, there’d be plenty of tools inside.
He possesses power, skill and the ability to put a finishing touch to Arsenal’s relentless football doodling. An attacking three of Podolski, Giroud and Robin van Persie would be an enticing prospect if Van Persie wasn’t about to leave, instead the new boys will have to make do with Tomas Rosicky whimpering around them.
Of course he could turn out to be rubbish. But even if he is it won’t be Arsenal’s undoing. Their defence, which Wenger built using a balsa wood kit, and over reliance on Jack Wilshere, whose urchin-like fresh face hides the bone structure of a disintegrating 90-year-old man, might be though.
Jan Vertonghen - Tottenham Hotspur
Word on the Lane is this Belgium has a closet full of football weapons. Capable of gliding out of defence one moment, and implanting his studs on an opponent’s shins the next. He’s dominant in the air, he’s young but experienced and, crucially, the former Ajax captain rarely suffers injuries.
But that’s all about to change. Merely sharing the same Dyson Airblade as Ledley King is enough to doom any defender’s career to a spiralling storm of debilitating joint problems. If he stays fit he might just be the signing that helps Spurs mount another top four raid. But he won’t.
Nobody is expecting that much from him and Luis Suarez will enjoy playing with someone who isn’t Andy Carroll.
Fabio Borini - Liverpool
Ok so he’s played in England before, but not in the Premier League, so he’s allowed. Well, ok, one minute for Chelsea, but shush.
This young Italian is Brendan Rodgers’ first buy and marks a new era at Liverpool, one which doesn’t involve a Kenny Dalglish transfer policy that hasn’t evolved since 1985. If project Rodgers succeeds, Borini probably will.
And he has several things in his favour. He didn’t cost Liverpool £35 million for a start. Nobody is expecting that much from him and Luis Suarez will enjoy playing with someone who isn’t Andy Carroll.
If you are unsure how Borini and Carroll differ this analogy might help: Imagine they both approach a locked door. Borini would first look for a key, then peer through the letterbox, trying to reach the handle, before – if none of that worked – picking the lock with his dextrous mini-Italian hands. Carroll, by contrast, would step back several paces, lower his head and charge. He’d repeat this 20, 30, 40 times. However many it took before either he died or the door shattered open, to reveal everybody else had found a way in hours ago.
Yes, yes I know a million others players have arrived, are on their way, are thinking about it, or waiting for the rain to stop. But I don’t have all day.
If you liked this, you might like these...
Click here for more stories in Football and Sport
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook