Transfer Deadline Day
After Christmas day, birthdays and payday the next most important day in the calendar is transfer deadline day. Much like the others, it often fails to live up to expectations, but each year is still met with the same enthusiasm by fans up and down the country.
Expect to see Harry Rednapp name drop every player in the league whilst hanging from the window of his car before ending up with Nico Kranjar and Jermaine Defoe.
With 2014 already setting the record for money spent on transfer deals with one day left, it looks set to be abusy day.
Manchester City have moved on from the days of signing last minute Brazilian strikers and appear to have done their transfer business months ago, though United have gaping holes in centre of midfield and defence that could do with filling. As with most things last minute, some moves may not be thoroughly considered, but for a club leveraged in debt a few more million doesn’t seem to be a problem.
Utd Snap Up Falcao
United slapped away competition from Arsenal and City to bring in prolific Columbian striker Radamel Falcao from French side Monaco for a reported season-long loan deal. He's scored two goals in three games already this season and notched nine goals in thirteen World Cup qualifiers for Columbia, and with Van Persie's dicky knee is a welcome guarantee of goals. Still, with only hours remaining, how about a defender Ed?
The bi-product of increased spending of transfers is usually that the devil's little helpers, football agents, take more and more money for their services. But there is some good news to report from the Football League with clubs reducing their spending on agents' fees by 17.7% last season.
Football League Clubs' spending decreased by £3.8m, from £21.5m to £17.7m in the 2013-14 season, with four teams spending nothing. North West League Two side Accrington Stanley were one of these four clubs and for a team with the lowest budget in the leagues it's encouraging news to hear that a club is trying to live within its means.
Salford Red Devils
With not so much as a whimper, the Salford Red Devils past up their chance to make the end of season playoffs. Needing to win the final two games, Iestyn Harris’s side fell to a 42-6 defeat against Wakefield Wildcats highlighting the problems that have faced the team all season, that the talented, expensively assembled side of international players have struggled in the first season playing together and rarely shown any sign of putting consistent performances together.
When you consider that Stoke had not even scored at Manchester City in the Premier League, had failed to keep a clean sheet in their last twelve league matches and that Mark Hughes had failed to guide any team to victory at the Etihad since being sacked by Manchester City in 2009; then put this up against a side that had failed to score in only one of their last 70 home matches, The Potters looked in for a pasting.
This is of course why you never see a poor bookmaker.
A flat performance from City, who failed to get any tempo into the match until a late rally, struggled against the five man midfield of Stoke. Not that this is the first time an away team has visited East Manchester and tried to pack the midfield, but Hughes has developed a passing and possession-based side from the foundations Tony Pulis left at Stoke. This combined with the pace and power of former Manchester United player, Mame Biram Diouf, and they executed a complete performance to overcome the champions.
When the football fixtures were released in the middle of summer, the sight of Swansea (H), Sunderland (A) and Burnley (A) appeared to offer a gentle nine points to begin the Van Gaal era. Another draw this weekend against Burnley means things haven't quite gone to plan. Even the debut of £60m Argentinean midfielder Angel Di Maria failed to help United break down a well organised Burnley side.
With the international break now robbing Van Gaal the chance to iron out the problems his players are clearly having with LVG's preferred 3-5-2 system, there is a quite a wait until September 14 and their next league fixture versus QPR.
Kagawa, Hernandez, Cleverley and Anderson all appear to be leaving (some have already gone) Old Trafford and none can really argue they ever lived up to expectations. Getting them to leave lucrative contracts for smaller clubs may be a difficult task.
At the fifth time of asking, FC United recorded their first victory of the season with a 3-1 victory against north Manchester rivals Ramsbottom as they came from behind to secure the three points in front of 1917 fans. Still unbeaten this season, FC United have moved up to ninth in the league and face the long away trip to Blyth Spartans on Tuesday night to try and close the eight point gap at the top of the table.
Cycle To Work Day
760,000 people in the UK cycle to work regularly and the number is growing steadily. On Thursday it is the National Cycle To Work Day. A target of one million bike commuters by 2021 is the long term goal but with the final bit of summer sunshine scheduled this week it would be well worth leaving the car keys at home and joining in.
Worst View In Sport
Football ticket prices have hit an all time high. United's cheapest season ticket is over £500. Ridiculous really. Still, at least they can see the match. This view of Halifax taking on Lincoln in the FIFTH tier of English football cost £17.
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