"I read the papers and I see they say £10 million is my price. I go and talk with Sir Alex, and he says to me £5 million. So who is telling the truth, what do you think?" asked Dimitar Berbatov of his million-plus Facebook fans earlier this week. "The truth is, I love this club, but I am not going to be useful to anyone if I am not playing." It is the latest in a string of posts on his timeline wondering what the future holds.
Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat-trick as Manchester United thrashed 10-man Wigan Athletic 5-0 at Old Trafford to draw level with rivals Manchester City at the top of the English Premier League.
It is usually best to be tentative in one's assessment of the preseason [unless of course the subject is Mario Balotelli, in which case a casual backheel is definitely the end of his Manchester City career, if not the end of soccer as we know it]. Remember Tottenham Hotspur's abysmal start to the 2008-09 season? In the summer weeks before they lost to Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, Hull and virtually everyone else on their way to the bottom of the table, Juande Ramos' side had gone unbeaten and racked up a plus-28 goal difference.
Wayne Rooney didn't score on Saturday. He did help set up three of Manchester United's five goals against Birmingham City and generally looked as though he may at last be approaching his best, but he didn't net himself. So a sub-plot in most of the reviews of the game was the fact that Rooney failed to score, and that he has managed just one goal from open play for his club since March. He is in a "goal-drought," and no matter what he does between now and scoring half a dozen goals, that will always be the first thing that is mentioned about him after games.
LONDON -- It's more than an hour since the whistle was blown on Tottenham Hotspur's Champions League victory over FC Twente on Wednesday. As the stewards make their final checks of the stands and the last remaining hospitality suite revelers are coaxed to exits, Gareth Bale makes his way around the pitch toward the players' car park, the last man out of the home dressing room again.
When Dimitar Berbatov was a child, he idolized Robert De Niro, so it perhaps isn't surprising he plays the cold-eyed assassin well. There is a coldness about him, a sense of calculation that fits uneasily into a Premier League environment in which "passion" remains the foremost of all virtues. If anything, though, he probably resembles less De Niro than Clint Eastwood, laconic and unfussy, almost everything he does performed with an ironic glint.
Wayne Rooney may finally have ended his drought, but his boyhood club can't buy a goal at the moment. Three games into the Premier League season, Everton has scored a single goal and notched a single point. That return amounts to the club's worst start since 1999, but the biggest worry for Everton is that it has been unable to convert possession, often in dangerous areas, into goals.
Chelsea visits Manchester United on Saturday for what is being billed as the critical match in this year's Premiership title race. And though both teams have at least one game to follow that will further test their mettle -- United has yet to visit neighbor City; Chelsea travels to Tottenham in two weeks and goes to Anfield to face Liverpool on the penultimate weekend of the season -- this is certainly the game that could put some daylight between the two.
Deadly, lethal, prolific -- just a few adjectives often used to describe Team Limey's nightclub performances on a Saturday night. Back in the real world, these are apt descriptions of the elite goal-scorers discussed in this week's column. More specifically, we're looking at who we think will be donning the Golden Boot as the English Premier League's top scorer this season.
Team Limey, along with everyone else over in Blightly, has been riding the rare wave of British sporting success that the Olympics have brought. We were brought crashing back to reality watching the drab 2-2 draw between England and the Czech Republic, and contemplated turning your favorite net-based soccer column into a fortnightly update on the happenings of the U.K. cycling, swimming and rowing scenes.
It's been a slow summer in the Premier League, with no England in Euro 2008 and a transfer market that has been moving slower than 92-year-old Great Uncle Limey after several hours at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Probably something to do with the tightening finances in the football world and the soccernomics issues we wrote about last time around.
Like most English Premier League managers, Team Limey has been working off the excesses of Christmas and New Year to battle with a horde of like-minded bargain-hungry individuals perusing the January sales.
Did I miss something? What's going on? It's the third week in June and the transfer market is lifeless. Take away Manchester United (which moved swiftly and effectively to lock up Owen Hargreaves, Anderson and Nani before the end of May) and things look positively dead.