Friday, July 29, 2011

Sergio Aguero

Europe's biggest transfer of the Summer finally happened when Sergio Aguero completed his much anticipated move from Atletico Madrid to Manchester City. It is a fascinating transfer that could turn out to be a multi edged sword for the ambitious side from Eastlands.

On the face of it, 38M for one of the most coveted attacking talents in world football looks good value. Aguero has had several solid seasons in Europe behind him in La Liga unlike the fabulously gifted Neymar and is a player who can either lead the line or play as a second striker. He is young at 23 with his best years surely ahead of him and with an undoubted re-sale value which would please Sir Alex across the city.

For City, it is also a minor landmark. Too often they have paid large or inflated fees and ludicrous wages for players that other clubs had no interest in, Ya Ya Toure is a case in point although he did have a decent season. Edin Dzeko was a player who interested some but not many were truly concerned when City signed him. Aguero is a different prospect all together, he is of the highest quality and City have managed to attract a player that many top clubs genuinely coveted.

It is a bit of a myth that disgruntled players such as Bellamy and Adebayor will derail City's season as the reality is that those players will not be allowed within a thousand miles of the first team squad and the disruption will be limited to twitter and misquoted newspaper reports from their home countries (the Welsh press are famous for it). That being said, where the problem lies for City is in the existing strikeforce that they carry and how Aguero will fit in.

The 25 players that City will register for the Premiership will no doubt include Aguero, Tevez, Dzeko and Balotelli unless of course the senior Argentine does indeed move on. City's hardball stance on his fee however and a lack of obvious suitors for such a nomadic and troubled player mean he may well be staying at Eastlands at least contractually if not physically.

Having just signed Aguero in such a high profile manner, it would seem logical that he would be the first choice striker, Tevez however remains the City captain and if he returns to the fold he will undoubtedly expect to play, Mancini may however use his agitation for a move as a reason to drop him initially. Balotelli will not take kindly to warming the bench and not playing Dzeko will do little to help a player that looked entirely lost and bereft of all confidence last season.

There is no question that Aguero is a fine signing but Mancini has given himself an impossible problem that would only have been solved by the sale of Tevez. Mancini is an inherently cautious coach and frequently plays with only one up top supported by the likes of the excellent David Silva, that system offers little playing time for four quality strikers who all expect to play. They will of course have the Champions League to offer some rotation but it is hard to see how four in to one will go.

Previous transfer windows saw farcical attempts from City to sign the likes of Kaka with Garry Cook showing a staggering naivety and lack of experience. With the signing of Aguero, City have indeed broken into the big leagues in terms of the calibre of player they can attract but in doing so they may well have given themselves a headache that could stop them from winning the championship - No Nonsense.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Glasgow Rangers - Ready?

Glasgow Rangers, love them or hate them, if you follow Scottish football then along with their fierce rivals Celtic, you simply cannot ignore them. The two Glasgow giants are the two main institutions of football North of the border. The two are heavily reliant on each other as is the rest of the game in Scotland for the revenues the two provide which are the very lifeblood of the game. Unfortunately, for all that they provide in that regard they take away in terms of the hatred and bile that emanates from their mutual empathy. So much of the talent - and there is some - that the other clubs produce is so often also prised away to either end of the West of Scotland's capital rendering the competition anything but. During modern times, but for a brief spell in the eighties it has always been the way.

At the end of last season, Craig Whyte completed his protracted take over of Rangers for a nominal fee of one pound. The club obviously came saddled with huge debts relative to its revenues and with possible sanctions looming large from HM Revenue and Customs. It is a bleak picture for a supposedly proud and wealthy club. Last nights reverse to Malmo puts Rangers' finances in an even more perilous state given that Champions League revenues now look highly unlikely this season.

For the outgoing owner Sir David Murray, it is a peculiar end to what should have been remembered as a fantastic stewardship of the club. Murray took over the club in 1988 and started what was known as the Rangers revolution by bringing in firstly Graeme Souness as player manager and then embarking on a period of spending never before seen in Scotland and one which reversed the traditional trends.

Rangers took full advantage of England's European ban by signing such illustrious names as Terry Butcher, Ray Wilkins and Chris Woods, these were followed by the likes of Trevor Steven, Mark Hateley and Mark Walters, the list went on. Even after the re-admittance of the English clubs, Murray forged on with the arrival of players like Mikhailichenko supplementing a fine Scottish pool of talent featuring the likes of McCoist, Durrant, McCall and Goram all marshaled by the imperious Richard Gough. Other players such as Seb Rozenthal and Daniel Prodan were signed despite appaling ongoing injury problems as the lavish - and now poorly judged - spending continued. Next up came the fantasy football days with the pairing of Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascgoine.

Further players such as Amoruso and Negri came as Smith's first reign came to an end and the break up of the nine in a row team. The arrival of Dick Advocaat heralded fresh spending with an oranje hue with the big name signings of Numan, Mols, Van Bronkhorst, Konterman and Ricksen - the last two proving names don't necessarily equate to quality. The spending reached a peak with the ill judged 12M move for Tore Andre Flo from a delighted Chelsea.

Rangers throughout this period were swapping players with the big boys, talent arriving from AC Milan, Sampdoria, Everton, Tottenham and Lazio to name but a few. Even when their players were poached, it was by the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and a Bernard Tapie bankrolled Olympique Marseille. How the mightly have fallen with Rangers having the finances now to only compete effectively for Bosman, loan players or simply third rate ones which the big English and European clubs have no interest in.

Rangers and to a large degree Celtic now look to the riches of the Premiership with painful longing and for Rangers and David Murray in particular there must lie the irony. For such a previously savvy businessman as Murray, something more than ego or just blind stupidity must have precipitated the unsustainable level of spending that he embarked on during the nineties. During that period we saw a large amount of rhetoric from the Old Firm and debate amongst the Premiership chairmen as to the merits of adding Rangers and Celtic to the competition South of the border, this was what Murray craved and it would be his legacy.

Many cried 'foul', how could this be? Yet Welsh teams have always played in the English leagues and kept their own National team whilst maintaining their FIFA status, there was clear precedent. Swansea indeed will be playing in the Premiership this very season. Monaco is a separate state yet their club plays in the French league. Some said they should have to work their way through the leagues, no doubt Rangers in particular would have agreed to this such were the riches that lay ahead. The simple fact however was that the Premiership did not want them. Supporters of Rangers and Celtic will feel their clubs would have added much to the spectacle but the English did not and it is their ball and they can choose to play with whom they like.

To make Rangers attractive to the Premiership they needed success, big names and the glamour that came with it so Murray rolled the dice and quite simply he lost. In the meantime the saturation coverage of the Premiership did much to diminish interest and therefore revenues in the Scottish game and so the ironies continued.

Whatever the reasons, the reality is that Rangers have been left behind exactly where they always were, the difference now being they are effectively bankrupt and with a playing staff that would struggle to keep the team in the English Championship. Their 0-1 reverse to Malmo in their Champions League qualifier shows an indication as to where they are by continental standards - a million miles away from the top table that they so craved to sit at.

Little is truly known about Craig Whyte and the most remarkable thing about him seems to be a passing resemblence to DCI Michael Jardine from Taggart. Whilst he has undoubtedly made himself wealthy personally, his career path is opaque and at least one of his businesses have previously gone bust. It is mere speculation but much of these types of businesses are layered, all leveraging off each other with little true cash in abundance which is what Rangers crave. The behaviour and attitude of several Rangers board members and their 'sackings' after the completion of his takeover spoke volumes as to what their thoughts on the matter were.

Whilst not wishing to sound ungrateful given Rangers current predicament, a promise of a twenty five million pound transfer kitty over five seasons is hardly the level of investment that Rangers require. Given that West Ham recently relegated to the Championship are contemplating spending eight million pounds on a striker, can Whyte expect Rangers fans to believe that he really holds Champions League aspirations? If he truly does then he is also telling us that he knows not the slightest about the realities of the situation.

If Whyte is indeed a true fan then no one can blame him for wishing to take charge of the club and to turn its' fortunes around, he may indeed surprise us all and do so. One must however look at the example of Mark Goldberg, a lifelong Crystal Palace fan. His buying of the Selhurst Park club was famous only for it being an unmitigated disaster, the main reason for which was an utter lack of funds. This was follwed by his nonsensical hiring of Thomas Brolin and Attilio Lombardo as his management team, it led to the teams' inevitable relegation before he sank without trace.

The fact that the signing of long term contracts by several senior players at Rangers was seen as some kind of coup shows how far the club has fallen. Alastair McCoist, the new manager has been left to scrabble around in the backwaters of the transfer market trying to find bargains which are few and far between given the scurrilous behaviour of modern agents. Most of Rangers 'interest' in players seems to be little more than PR on behalf of the club.

It is possible that Whyte may be the Knight in Shining Royal Blue Armour that Rangers so require but even with three consecutive league titles in the trophy room, the short to medium term prospects for the club against their rivals at Celtic Park look extremely bleak and there is little need to make reference to their European prospects. Rangers will surely survive this period of upheaval but it will be a long road back to recovering anything close to the position and stature they once held in the game. In any event, it may all have been an illusion that they held such a position in the first place - No Nonsense.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

England continue to prosper at Lords

For so long, the England cricket team struggled at the home of the game with visiting test sides regularly handing out pastings to the home team. No longer is this the case as Strauss and his side have moulded into a far tougher proposition with no little talent.

England will take much heart from this win against India but at the same time they must see the victory within context much in the same way that India should not be too disappointed. Little went M.S. Dhoni's way in this test match be it injuries or illness. It may be that the 'luck' was evened up a little after India chose to re-introduce that quantity to the equation by scandalously vetoing the use of the DRS system for LBWs for this series. Billy Bowden had a fairly poor match and the ICC should some teeth on the matter.

It was a fitting event for the 2,000th test match with full houses on all five days and some excellent cricket. England will delight in the proof of the depth of their batting. Since the second innings at Brisbane it has been the Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott show with excellent occasional support from Strauss, Pietersen and Ian Bell. Cook failed in both innings whilst Trott only scored well in the first.

Pietersen showed his class in the first innings with a superbly grafted double ton - those of you who follow this blog on twitter would have noted our calling for a double century - that showed an application that is so often lacking. It was a perfect scenario for Pietersen however, India at Lords is the biggest of occasions and with their flimsy attack shorn of its spearhead  it was really all set for him to make hay even with the seam friendly conditions.

One must hope that his cheap second innings dismissal was due to the inspiration of Ishant Sharma and not a sign that KP intends to dine out on this double ton for the remainder of the series. It is all there for Pietersen and he simply has to take it such is his talent. He remains the consummate entertainer.

Lower down the order, Prior has moulded himself into a formidable wicketkeeper/batsman. Ishant Sharma's wonderful spell had put England in a fair degree of trouble on day four but Prior, aided superbly by Stuart Broad put paid to any doubts by batting England into an unassailable position with a wonderful century. Prior also added 71 in the first innings and is averaging well into the 40s in tests.

England's seam attack was excellent with Broad, having been given the nod ahead of Bresnan heeding the advice about his length. He bowled aggressively but with pace and control. His pitching of the ball up allowed him some swing and seam. With this level of bowling and his excellent batting he could become a truly great cricketer.

Jimmy Anderson has morphed 360 degrees as a cricketer. Where he used to be surly and moody (Nasser Hussain described him as the most difficult player he had ever captained), he is now the go to man when things get tough. His ability to produce the goods on unhelpful pitches - there was little for the bowlers on day five - or on those which shouldn't suit him such as in Australia sets him apart as a true World class bowler.

For England the only doubt now comes in the balance of the team. Throughout the Ashes tour, England carried Collingwood offering little runs. England do not have a true all rounder and the selectors have to decide whether Eoin Morgan is a long term appointment. They do have the short term option, and it is an aggressive one of moving Prior to six and putting Broad at seven. That would allow them to add Bresnan or Finn to the team and it would be a truly formidable attack. Bresnan's swing in particular would have been tough to play against at Lords. England will surely stick with their current formula but should Morgan fail to spark, they could also move Bell back to six and introduce another middle order batsmen. Bell is a good number five but he is a sensational number six. There are things to chew on for England but they are nice selection issues to have.

For India as already mentioned little went right. Zaheer pulled up injured although there should be little surprise as he was only just coming back from an injury in the first place. Gambhir endured a painful one on the elbow and Sachin caught a viral infection meaning both batted lower down the order in the second innings.

On the plus side, Suresh Raina looks a good cricketer and in Praveen Kumar they look to have unearthed a genuine talent. His medium pace however may be shorn of its effectiveness should the conditions not swing later in the series. M.S. Dhoni proved his ability to do absolutely anything by passing the gloves to Dravid and bowling some handy medium pace in India's hour of need, he is truly a class individual and spoke little of bad luck in the post match interviews.

India looked a little undercooked in the first test and it is the way of modern tours now where teams arrive late for most series, indeed the cricket calendar offers little option. Their batting has undoubted class and should their attack find more teeth then they remain a tough proposition and they should certainly improve from this performance at Trent Bridge later this week.

This blog before the start of this series stated that it was India's bowling and not its batting that held the key to this series and we have seen little to dispute that theory. Their batting is a known quantity but whether they have the ability to take twenty England wickets in a match looks tenuous unless possibly they find a spin friendly pitch and Harbajhan is on form. It is first blood to England but there is much cricket to still be played - No Nonsense.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

England Versus India

England will take the field at Lords today against India with aspirations to become the number one Test team in the World. It is a very tough task in that they need to win the series first and foremost and that they need to do so by two tests. Even with England at their best, the great British summer, a penchant for flatter pitches from the ECB and the quality of opposition mean it is a big ask. It is not impossible however.

England currently have stability throughout their line up, strength in depth (especially in the bowling department) and a large amount of self belief. In Cook and Trott they have two of the form batsmen in World cricket and they have a genuine pace attack to be feared with fierce competition for places.

Trott in particular seems to have solved a particular English riddle in taking the number three position which has been a problem since Robin Smith lost form. Whilst he is no Tendulkar or Ponting, his accumulation of runs and time at the crease are priceless and along with Cook, he has laid the foundation for much of England's recent success. There are however concerns such as the form of Strauss and the continued lack of application from Kevin Pietersen who whilst continuing to excite, disappoints in far larger measures. Should Strauss find some form and Cook and Trott retain theirs then England could set some formidable scores during the series. England now have the ability to score runs down the order with Matt Prior now far more than a poor man's Adam Gilchrist.

In the bowling department, should Jimmy Anderson and co be able to find some seam and swing then the likes of Virender Sehwag should find it tough going against genuine lateral movement. Swann provides a good spin option and it looks a well balanced attack. Should Stuart Broad be selected, it is imperative that he moves his length to just short of one where he would become a true force to reckon with. It will be interesting to see whether he or Bresnan gets the nod for the first test.

For India, Tendulkar will be on the hunt for his hundredth international hundred and it would be fitting for it to happen at Lords where he has until now had little success. Sehwag will have to work hard to counter the lateral movement but in Dravid, Laxman, Gambhir, Dhoni and co they have incredible talent and almost limitless strength in depth.

Much of the talk surrounding India always focuses on the batting but it is their bowlers that possibly hold the key to the series. Their efforts in Taunton were woeful and one can only hope they were keeping their powder dry for tougher tests to come. Should Zaheer and his supporting cast find some form then England will have a tough time ahead of them to win the series.

Both teams have highly talented captains but India in M.S. Dhoni have one who is already one of the all time greats. Captaining the India cricket team is akin to being a President and many fine players have found it several steps too far. Dhoni however has revelled in it winning everything there is to win and taking India to the top of the rankings. His decision in the World Cup final to move himself up the order despite being short of runs and with India in deep trouble was one of the best and bravest tactical decisions this blog has seen in any sport and he deserves all the plaudits that come his way.

Strauss has knitted the English group into a team that is greater than the sum of its' parts. The 2005 team was a fine side but it had much ego and individuality in the shape of the young Pietersen, Flintoff and Harmison. Vaughan did much to marry their talents in the same way Strauss does now but there is a sense that Pietersen aside this team is much more of a group. The current team only suffers in comparison by not having a true all rounder whilst the 2005 team had a great one. This team does however have a real spin option and a far superior wicketkeeper/batsman.

How Strauss uses that talent at his disposal will do much to decide the series. There is much talk of his being too cautious as a captain and against an opposite number with the guile and aggression of Dhoni that simply will not do. Dhoni will at all times go for the jugular and should Strauss fail to do the same then he may find that the number one ranking will not be his. England need to win convincingly and to do that he must be bold. Our prediction however for this series is a one-one draw with some fine cricket from both sides - No Nonsense.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Clarke's Claret Jug

So at the 20th attempt Ulsterman Darren Clarke finally won the British Open, it was also his maiden Major Championship win. Since 2003, Tour wins have been few and far between for Clarke although he did return to form earlier this year winning the Iberdrola Open in May. His win at Royal St Georges was entirely remarkable but hugely deserved and there will not be a more popular winner of a Major this year. For Northern Ireland, they have now won 3 of the last 5 majors with 3 different golfers, a truly exceptional feat for such a small nation.
Sunday initially promised fireworks with a tightly packed field and blustery conditions. In the end it was a comfortable final few holes for Clarke who was given the luxury of being able to bogey 17 and 18 as the challenges of firstly Mickelson and then Dustin Johnson fell away.

Mickelson in particular looked the most likely to challenge after a superb 30 on the front 9. After another birdie at 10 the force seemed to be with Phil but he inexplicably let his concentration lapse at 11 to miss a tap in. This precipitated losing a further 4 strokes in the next 6 holes and the game was up. One must wonder what Mickelson could have been capable of had he looked a mite more interested on Thursday and Friday. His talents deserve a far better Open record and with no Tiger to stare him down, his excuses are few and far between.

Dustin Johnson performed admirably for the most part on Sunday with some fabulous driving in particular in testing windy conditions. His demise came on the 14th when he pushed his second shot right and out of bounds, there would be no recovery from there.

Clarke enjoyed a generous slice of luck at the 15th when he thinned his approach out of the rough before incredibly splitting the large bunkers and landing just short of the green. He played percentage golf for the remaining four holes narrowly missing out on securing four sub 70 rounds with a bogey at the last. It mattered little and the celebrations could begin. For the Irishman it had been a long road to his first Major and he joins a select band of players who have won their first one whilst in their 40s. Bob Rotella the sports psychologist that Darren Clarke had employed to help his game in the lead up to the Open will undoubtedly have a queue of professionals and rich hackers outside his door this Monday morning.

Of the rest of the field, Tomas Bjorn played some good golf without ever really seemingly giving the feeling he could win it. Campbell and Kim played some good golf with the latter surely on the path back to full fitness after horrible injury problems. Miguel Jiminez had a day to forget whilst Ricky Fowler looked entirely ridiculous but showed a good appetite and appreciation for links golf. Garcia and Davis Love showed they can still play a bit and Martin Kaymer is striving to prove he genuinely belongs at the top end of the World rankings. Tom Watson provided some wonderful moments and looks as now dear to the galleries as Jack Nicklaus once was. His putting ultimately let him down but he is a truly exceptional human being to be able to play these lengthened modern courses against players over 30 years his junior and still compete, he must have been one hell of a player in his pomp.

The Open is a truly unique test of golf, entirely unlike the target golf we see so much of on the tours these days that renders the proceedings a mere putting contest. It is a tournament that has thrown up some entirely unexpected past winners such as Paul Lawrie (of Carnoustie and Jean Van Der Velde fame) and Ben Curtis who disappeared as quickly as they arrived. Rain, wind, pot bunkers and all the vagaries of links golf ensured this was an Open to match those that had gone before. Clarke may not quite be a Woods, a Faldo, a Norman nor even a Padraig Harrington for that matter but no one would question that his win yesterday was both well deserved and long overdue. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year has also already been decided - No Nonsense.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Open is exactly that this year.........

The wind blew on day one at the Open but the course failed to really show its teeth with many players making sub par scores and several taking advantage of the easier conditions in the afternoon. The highlight of the day was the fabulous 65 from amateur Tom Lewis pipping Dustin Johnson's ace at the 16th which salvaged an otherwise unimpressive round. Lewis was joined on 65 by a great cameo from Thomas Bjorn, a shot ahead of the cigar chomping legend that is Miguel Angel Jiminez and Ricky Barnes made the most of a last minute playing slot to card a 68.

Of the big guns and expected front runners it was a muted first day with many seemingly intent to play the percentages on their opening rounds with the conditions as they were, the old adage being you cannot win the tournament on Thursday but you can certainly lose it.

McIlroy looked a couple of percent off the pace and it was probably to be expected given his self imposed exclusion from competitive golf since his triumph at the US version. An opening 71 was far from a disaster and his game will surely sharpen over the next three days. Mickelson shot level par but again looked far from interested in the events at Royal St Georges. A bright sunny resort course it is not and whilst this blog may be proved wrong - and we would love him to do so - over the coming days, Phil's record in the Open suggests he is merely there to fulfill his sponsors' obligations and pick up some airmiles.

Martin Kaymer is well placed at two under despite forgetting his jumper and Graeme McDowell fought back well after a sticky start to shoot the same score. Ian Poulter has had a very low key build up and is well placed after a 69. World No1 Luke Donald could not hole any putts but is safely in the pack with a 71.

Honourable mentions go to Darren Clarke who enjoyed the later conditions to card a 68 and Mark Calcavecchia who rolled back several years to shoot 69. Tom Watson showed his ageless class with a 72 which included some fine shot making and some excellent putting.

The modern day PGA field has so much depth to it that it is impossible to predict a winner now that Tiger has been de-throned. Players such as Els, Westwood, Cabrera and Stricker cannot be ruled out but they will need to sharpen their games over the coming days. Friday's forecast is for fairer weather but the weekend may bring more rain and no doubt far more drama - No Nonsense.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Transfers..........

It would appear the Summer transfer season has reached a slight impasse after an initial speedy plethora of business. ManYoo in particular raced out of the blocks with Dalglish and Comoli's Liverpool trying to hang on to their coat tails. Whilst there would appear to be some loot ready to be thrown around several clubs seem to be in the same position of wishing to move on ill judged previous buys to free up the wage bill ahead of the fair play regulations and to appease owners fed up with huge and unnecessary wage bills.

ManYoo as mentioned have been the most active with Ashley Young, David De Gea and Phil Jones all arriving for large sums of money. A mooted move for Samir Nasri looks less likely now however although the jungle drums are alive with talk of the impending arrival of Wesley Sneijder. Should they they capture the Dutchman to replace Scholes then we should expect a stronger ManYoo next season as the Ginger for all his class has been past his best for a couple of seasons now.

As a point of note, we at this blog would reinforce our previous statement about Scholes replacing Ferguson long term. In nearly twenty years he has barely said a word to the press yet in the past few weeks we have seen interviews giving scathing comments about everything from Arsenal's pretty football to his ex England teammates, any reason for the sudden need to raise his press profile ahead of taking a 'coaching role'? Watch this space.

Chelsea it seems have learned from their earlier mistakes (something Citeh are now trying to do also) and are trying to focus on one or two key signings only rather than the scatter gun accumulation policy of yesteryear. Luca Modric would prove a fine acquisition with a proven Premiership pedigree. It is understandable that Spurs do not wish to sell and it may be that Chelsea will have to go North of 30M to secure his services. Bearing in mind the numbers paid this year for Torres, Bent, Carroll etc then Spurs have every right to expect this for their prize asset. Chelsea especially with the loss of Essien need to add more than just Modric however should they wish to challenge for the title again.

City are at a minor crossroads. The impending sale of Tevez will probably do them little harm as they will receive a hefty transfer sum, free up his ludicrous wages and remove an unhappy (but outstanding) player. They have the means and clout to replace him with Sergio Aguero a mooted target. There is still a suspicion they need a touch more class in central midfield and Cesc Fabregas would spring to mind but they are close to the finished article. They have a modicum of continuity from sticking with Mancini and the bigger problem is the disposal of unwanted players on enormous wages and compartmentalising those unhappy players that will inevitably remain. More quality and less quantity is required.

Liverpool have endured a frustrating Summer as a second season outside of the Champions League brings home the difficulty of attracting the very top players even with their famous name. Jordan Henderson looks a risky bet at best and it is hard to see Stewart Downing setting the world on fire although service for Andy Carroll will clearly be looming as large as his frame in Dalglish's mind. It is hard to believe that Charlie Adam will stand out as much for Liverpool or be able to perform at the highest level due to his lack of mobility but his dead ball expertise and crossing again will have been paramount in the decision to take him to Anfield with a view to servicing the Geordie Number 9.

Wenger and Arsenal look to be in torment. Their captain is present at the Emirates but his head and heart are in the Camp Nou, it is an unhappy situation which can only be resolved by his sale as should Fabregas stay for another season, frustration and resentment are bound to set in. Samir Nasri looks possibly set for a move to Manchester City as is the want of most disaffected Gunners these days with Gael Clichy having already walked the well trodden path this Summer. Arshavin may also be on his way with Galatasary mentioned as a possible home with only the arrival of the mostly unproven Gervinho to soften the various blows. Needless to say there is no talk of signing a goalkeeper and the possible sale of the ineffective Nicklas Bendtner should be a welcome move.

Of the rest, Sunderland have been the most busy with several acquisitions including the possibly shrewd dual signings of Brown and O'Shea. Offloading Henderson for a hugely inflated fee may well benefit the Wearsiders especially if the large investment in the teenager Connor Wickham bears fruit. Stoke City have taken a risk on Jonathan Woodgate but the arrival of Carlton Cole should ensure goals and presence up front.

Newcastle United have lost their captain Kevin Nolan and replaced him with a French speaking trio, Norwich City have signed various unheralded players and other clubs such as Fulham, West Brom and Everton appear to be focusing on moving on squad players first before trying to bring in new talent.

It may take one or two big moves to trigger the merry-go-round in earnest but with the clock now ticking, the need to bring in players will become more pressing and for those clubs such as Spurs or Arsenal who face losing their biggest names, it may be prudent to let them go sooner rather than later to give themselves adequate time to find replacements - No Nonsense.