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- Alex Paylor -

"RED Ramblings" by Alex Paylor 

A few random thoughts this week, some things meanderings of the mind which deserve mention, but maybe not a whole column each.

We have been renovating our house for the past couple of weeks, and it strikes me there are some similarities to what Alex Ferguson and Martin Edwards have been trying to do and what I have been doing. Trying to renew the house, make it better, without making wholesale changes.

Enough players have reportedly been on their way to Old Trafford this
summer to stock a couple of pretty good Premier League teams.

I believe the two signings Fergie has made (as of this writing) are good ones. Great teams build their strength down the middle, from goalkeeper, through central defense and midfield to striker. I feel Japp Stam is going to be solid at the back for a number of years, and I take issue with those who say he is not worth what was paid for him on the basis of his performance in the World Cup. I don't think he was as bad as some have claimed. Yes, he made some mistakes, but the naysayers focus only on those few errors, while ignoring the fact Stam put in pretty solid work the vast majority of the time.

Jesper Blomqvist could be the club's most important signing of the summer. If Alex Ferguson has tried four times to sign him, then I have to believe he is something special, for the United manager has proven himself a fine judge of talent in his Old Trafford tenure. Would we have retained the premiership
title had we had Blomqvist as cover for Giggs last season? We will never
know, but I believe what we lost when Ryan was injured may have been recovered by having someone like Jesper to step into the breach on the left side. A smart move by the manager, this one.

As for Patrick Kluivert: Who needs him? It is obvious he was using United's interest only to squeeze more lira out of the Milan piggy bank. He was never serious about coming to Manchester so we are far better off without him. Contrast his attitude to that of Japp Stam, who actually gave up money so the deal bringing him to Old Trafford could go through. That's the kind of player we want, not some temperamental prima donna who drifts in and out of matches depending on his mood. The latest word from Milan has it that if Patrick is piqued with Italian football a couple of months from now, he would like to move to Arsenal. I can just imagine the reception he will get at Old Trafford the first time he appears there in a Gunners shirt.

To return to my renovations analogy for a moment, I somehow ended up with an extra piece of baseboard, painted in the colour of those I replaced in my daughter's room. I really don't want it, nor do I have much use for it. I have, therefore, named it "Kluivert".

Dwight Yorke? Not at THAT price!. John Gregory's desk drawers should be checked for illegal substances if he persists in trying to claim &16 million as Yorke's market price. And if it means Andy Cole going the other way, then forget it. The complete player Cole could be is not that far away, with consistency being the only ingredient missing now. Nor would I want to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going to Villa as part exchange. The real baby faced assassin was the one we saw in his first season at OT. Last years injury hampered campaign did not give us a true measure of the player. He is one of those who needs to command a regular place in the side to shine and that didnít happen last year because of his injuries.

Could we con Gregory into taking Teddy Sheringham as part of the deal? I don't think even the Villa manager is quite that naive. We could try selling him back to Spurs at an inflated price though. The wizards at White Hart Lane just might bite, if their track record is anything to go by.

To sum up. Forget Kluivert and Yorke. Sometimes the deals you donít make are the best of all.

Some nice comments on my first "Devils Advocate" regarding the unfair public whipping of David Beckham. Thanks to those who wrote, it's good to know level heads see past the hysteria, fueled by the way, by Glen Hoddle's immediate post-match comments which focused on Beckham's dismissal far more than any of the other significant features of that match. His penalty taker selection for one, the awful performance of the referee for another. He should have admitted making an error by not including Phil Neville in the squad. Seems to me young Phil would have been a better choice than Graeme LeSaux for that left side defensive place. Hoddle though will never admit to making any mistakes. God is on Glenn's side, and Hoddle seems to think the pope isnít the only infallible Lord's representative on earth.

While on the World Cup post mortem track, how about this for consideration. It seems to me the officiating during the first week of the tournament was, with one glaring exception, pretty darn good. The football flowed, the cards were kept hidden, and the divers stayed on their feet. There wasnít much shirt pulling either. But smooth flowing games uninterrupted every 15 seconds by the ref's whistle were, apparently, not what Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter wanted. Their comments after week one have been well documented, and we all know what happened. The cards started to fly, the diving began, robust but legal challenges brought sanctions, and defenders, fearful of being booked or sent off, began grabbing handfuls of shirt instead of trying to tackle. If this is the way the game is going to go under Blatter, then I am afraid for its future. A well executed slide tackle is a sublime skill. Done properly, it is a potential game saver, and no-one gets hurt. If it is not properly carried out, by all means punish the offender. But don't remove it from the game completely. The way the game is being ruled from on high at FIFA makes me wonder if studded boots will be next to go, replaced by ballet slippers.

The one glaring exception mentioned at the top of the previous paragraph? That awful decision giving Italy a penalty in the dying moments versus Chile. How can a referee, supposedly good enough to officiate at the World Cup level, not understand the difference between the hand hitting the ball, and the ball hitting the hand?

I am sure everyone will agree when I say I can't wait for the Premier league season to start. Hopefully it will bring an end to the silly season of transfer speculation we have had to endure. Not to mention some of the silly transfers which have actually taken place. The summit of silliness has to be David Unsworth's Upton park to Villa Park to Goodison Park saga. And all because his missus doesnít want to leave Liverpool? It's a hell of a sacrifice for a bloke to make, having to play for Everton, just to keep the wife happy. Love must be blind, not to mention a little short in the common sense department as well.

Finally, I hope Arsenal have kept our Premiership trophy polished all summer. We don't want it coming back to OT anything less than sparkling, do we?

C'Mon You Reds


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