Transfer needs – Manchester United, Newcastle, QPR, Southampton, Stoke

Leave a comment

With the summer transfer window either rushing or creeping toward completion, depending on whether you want your club to buy a new player or hold onto an asset, it’s due time we address the needs of each team with time ticking away.

[RELATED: Summer transfer window news]

[RELATED: Welbeck to Spurs?]

Manchester United

Well, well, well. We’ve been here before, haven’t we? This time last year David Moyes was scrambling to sign players for Manchester United at the transfer deadline and could only get a deal for Marouane Fellaini over the line and this year Louis van Gaal finds himself in a similar situation. LVG has already signed Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo and Angel di Maria for over $200 million, but United’s fans are expecting at least another two players to arrive. Nigel de Jong, Daley Blind and Arturo Vidal have been linked with the Red Devils all summer long. Can United get those three signings over the line before the deadline? Their season depends on it after a shaky start proved their current squad isn’t up to it.

Newcastle United

Alan Pardew has once again hopped over the English Channel and dipped into the French market with Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere arriving from Montpellier and Monaco respectively, plus Daryl Janmaat has arrived from Feynoord. Pardew has spent nearly $60 million on transfers this summer, while Jack Colback has arrived on a free transfer. You do wonder where the goals will come from for the Magpies, as Loic Remy has gone back to parent club QPR. Newcastle have yet to score in their two opening games, so signing a new striker before the deadline wouldn’t be the worst choice in the world.

Queens Park Rangers

The QPR board have backed Harry Redknapp over the summer and so far his team have lost two out of two, conceded five goals and scored zero. No time to panic for the R’s but they may need so more additions, especially up front, if they’re going to survive after promotion. Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker have arrived to form a new central defensive partnership, while Leroy Fer has come in from Norwich and Jordon Mutch has signed from Cardiff City. ‘Arry has also wheeled and dealed to bring in Chilean internationals Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas on loan, but two or three late additions could really help QPR. Redknapp is a master of the transfer window. He needs to be this season as his side aim to kick on from a poor start to the season.

Southampton

It has been a summer of transition for the Saints this summer as a player exodus welcomed new boss Ronald Koeman to St. Mary’s. Out went Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert to Liverpool, while Luke Shaw joined Manchester United and Calum Chambers went to Arsenal. So, how do you replace five internationals who were so influential in your success last season? Yeah, that’s a tricky one. Southampton have spent big with the likes of Fraser Forster, Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic, Shane Long and Florin Gardos all arriving. The loan signings of Saphir Taider and Ryan Bertrand also look like shrewd moves but one or two more players are needed. Athletico Madrid’s Toby Alderweireld has been mentioned, while Spurs winger Andros Townsend is on Saints’ radar. They will also look to keep hold of Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez.

Stoke City

The Potters have been active yet frugal in the window with Steve Sidwell, Phil Bardsley and Mame Biram Diouf arriving on free transfers. Playmaker Bojan Krkic has arrived from Barcelona in one of the shock signings this summer, while Dionatan Teixeira has also arrive at the Britannia. Stoke could lose U.S. international Geoff Cameron to Lazio or a whole host of other PL teams, while the Potters have to spend so more cash to strengthen before the deadline. In the past under Tony Pulis they loved to bring in three or four new signings at the end of the window but it could be too much to ask this time around.

Don’t forget to tune in to the “Transfer Deadline Day Show” on NBCSN (Monday, 6-8 p.m. ET).

Referee leaders want on-field official to see video replays

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) Antoine Griezmann headed the ball into the net and was in full celebration mode with his France teammates when referee Felix Swayer pinned a finger into his left ear to block out the stadium noise.

[ VIDEO: VAR system used correctly

An assistant in front of a bank of monitors was assessing replays and had some bad news for Griezmann. Swayer was told through his earpiece that a player was offside in the buildup.

The goal was then ruled out, without Swayer seeing a replay. But that won’t necessarily be the case by the time video replays are fully approved to be rolled out across soccer.

For now, the experimental phase is still in full flow but if refereeing leaders get their way officials should always have access to the footage themselves around the field.

“The subjective decisions should be made by the on-field referee because they have got the feel for the game,” Mike Riley, general manager of English refereeing organization, told The Associated Press. “They can put it in the context of everything else. So as part of the process we have got to work out how we can do that as effectively as possible … without interrupting the flow of the game.”

The International Football Association Board, the game’s lawmaking body, is in its second year of trials with various versions of video assistant referees (VAR). Some games, like the France-Spain friendly, do not allow the referee to evaluate incidents and instead by rely on the VAR.

But VAR could end up only ruling on what Riley describes as “decisions of fact,” such as whether a ball was inside or outside the penalty area.

Ultimately, if you are appointing one of the top referees to preside over a major game, that person is seen as ideal for making the big calls, according to IFAB.

“Fundamentally we are told very much by players and coaches they want the referee to be making the most important decisions,” IFAB technical director David Elleray said, referencing England’s top referee. “They don’t know who is in a van out in the car park or 300 miles away in a match center.”

Soccer’s lawmakers only envisage video replays being used to correct game-changing decisions involving four situations: penalties being awarded, red cards, cases of mistaken identity and goals being scored.

That situation arose twice in the Stade de France on Tuesday as France lost 2-0 to Spain. After Griezmann’s goal was disallowed, video replays worked against France again but in Spain’s favor when an incorrect offside call against Gerard Deulofeu was overturned and his goal stood.

Swayer again relied on the information from a colleague benefiting from replays.

“Nicola Rizzoli was appointed to referee the last World Cup final because he is the best referee,” Elleray said. “But if actually the two most important decisions in the match are made by somebody watching a TV screen … the most important person is the man you put behind the TV screen not the man on the field.”

The challenges are how referees are able to view replays without lengthening the delay. For now the technology isn’t satisfactory for officials to use wearable devices and receive footage in real time. That means going to the side of the field to watch incidents with the eyes of thousands of fans in the stands on them. The screens are likely to be on the opposite side to the technical area to avoid coaches being able to surround and harangue the referee.

“Some of our stadiums don’t lend themselves to monitors by the side of the pitch because they are really tight,” said Riley, a former Premier League referee who is now in charge of appointments for games in the world’s richest soccer competition. “Is it right for referees to have to run 30 yards to go and look? Can you get the footage to the referee on the field somehow? All these things have to be explored through the experiment and come out with a solution that works for football.”

Live experiments are taking place in about 20 competitions this year, including the Confederations Cup in Russia in June and July that will serves as a World Cup test event.

Once IFAB adds video replays to the laws of the game, any competition meeting the requirements will be able to use them.

For Riley, permitting replays is “the most significant change in refereeing in the game for generations,” far more significant than the 2012 decision to allow technology that simply determines whether the ball crossed the goal line.

“If you are making such a significant change,” Riley said, “you need to really explore and understand all the potential implications.”

Rob Harris can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

Amid fanfare, Bastian Schweinsteiger arrives in Chicago

Chicago Fire
Leave a comment

Arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, it is clear Bastian Schweinsteiger is kind of a big deal…

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game live

Posing for photos with fans as he stepped off the flight with his wife, former Serbian tennis star Ana Ivanovic, the former Bayern Munich midfielder was mobbed by Chicago Fire fans who are delighted he has arrived in Major League Soccer as the newest Designated Player.

The German legend has completed his move from Manchester United to the Fire and will be officially unveiled to the media on Wednesday after signing a one-year deal.

[ MORE: Latest MLS news ]

Schweinsteiger, 32, has already had a training session in the books and the World Cup winner is expected to make his debut in Chicago’s home clash with the Montreal Impact on Saturday at Toyota Park.

Below is a video of Schweinsteiger’s arrival in Chicago, his first training session and a collection of photos he took with ecstatic Fire fans.


Liverpool’s Emre Can scores stunning goal in training

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Emre Can, take a bow.

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game live

Alongside Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum, the German international stole the show as BT Sport rocked up for an episode of “Goals Recreated” at Melwood.

The premise is simple: can current day PL players recreate sensational goals of the past?

On this occasion each player had four attempts to mirror Papiss Cisse‘s stunning goal for Newcastle United against Chelsea, and although Mane came close Can was the man of the moment.

Click play on the video below to see the stunning effort.


Barcelona defends Messi over “unfair” suspension

Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi’s four-match international suspension for insulting a linesman was “unfair and totally disproportionate.”

[ MORE: Messi handed ban by FIFA ]

Barcelona released a statement Wednesday expressing “its surprise and indignation” with FIFA’s decision to sideline the playmaker for so long following the incident in Argentina’s win over Chile in World Cup qualifying last week.

The punishment was announced before Argentina lost at Bolivia 2-0 Tuesday, a result that left the two-time champions at risk of not qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Barcelona says it “wishes to reiterate its support for Leo Messi, an exemplary player in terms of conduct both on and off the field.”

Pending an appeal, Messi will only be available to play in Argentina’s final qualifier, on Oct. 10 against Ecuador.