Chelsea v Real Madrid v Robinho

Robinho was as good as his word today, proving yet again how cynical I am, by announcing he is ‘unhappy’ at Real Madrid and does indeed still want to play for Chelsea.

Having been left out of today’s opening Primera Liga game against Deportivo, Robinho decided to call a press conference to make his case clear before the transfer window closes tomorrow night. Clearly frustrated by the mixed messages he’s received throughout the summer, Robinho stated “Since May I’ve been trying to renew my contract but they didn’t want to because they were so sure they would sign Cristiano Ronaldo. The club showed little interest in keeping me.”

Fairly honest appraisal of the situation I thought, since Real made it clear during their relentless pursuit of Ronaldo that Robinho would be dispatched with as soon as they got what they always believed they would.

However, despite publicly stating they “would never retain a player against his wishes”, Real continue to refuse Chelsea’s offers. On this, Robinho said “The situation is still the same, I want to play for Chelsea, as I have told the president, the coach and the sporting director. I want to play there – I don’t know what else I can do. Calderon said that if a good offer came in they would let me go. Chelsea have made a great effort to sign me.”

Clearly still upset at Real’s blatant attempts to court his replacement, Robinho went on “The problem is that Real did not manage to recruit. Now, because they haven’t signed anyone, they won’t let me go.” However, when asked whether he plans to strike if held at Real against his wishes, Robinho stated “No. If Schuster wants to keep an unhappy player then the responsibility is his. I want to leave, nothing more.”

Well, as expected, Real were not amused and immediately hit back at Robinho’s statements, saying “Just before an important official match, Real Madrid feels that all of its attention should be focused on the game, a criteria that has been completely ignored by its player Robinho, with the statements he made just hours before the match.” So, they’ll be wanting to see the back of him then? Apparently not, because the statement on Real’s official website continued “The club refers to an earlier statement on this matter, when it said if the player’s final decision was to unilaterally rescind his contract, we would have no option but to accept it.” Smart move, treat the player like shit, refuse every offer coming in for him and yet still manage to back away from any responsibility if he leaves.

Anyway, Real weren’t finished there because unsurprisingly, being the total hypocrites they are, it was time to have a go at the real villains here. At the end of a lengthy summer, in which amnesia has clearly set in, Real state “Real deplore the way Chelsea’s directors have acted despite knowing perfectly well the decision not to sell the player (anyone else spit their drink out at that bit?), making statements and even going so far as to sell shirts with the player’s name on through their official website.” Ok, so we all knew the shirt thing was going to bite the club on the arse eventually, but who are Real trying to kid? They even suggest “All this has done is to cloud the situation and confuse public opinion.” As if public opinion hadn’t weighed that club up a long time ago!

Not to be outdone when the handbags are flying around though, Chelsea have had their say – also via the official club website – in a statement that reads: “There is nothing wrong with publicly confirming our interest in a player when the club involved is well aware of it, has been in receipt of two bids and is negotiating to sell the player. So we completely refute any criticism from Real Madrid.” As for the unfortunate, but still quite funny matter of the shirts, Chelsea state “As for the issue regarding the website, Real are well aware this was a regrettable accident by an external supplier which was rectified as soon as it was brought to our attention and not a single shirt was sold.”

So, it’s probably fair to say there’s very little love lost between the clubs now but as entertaining as all this bitching is, it isn’t actually resolving anything. Thankfully the transfer window will be firmly closed by tomorrow night.

Who’s move is it next anyway?

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Will Robinho’s Statement Really Be One Chelsea Want To Hear?

With Chelsea and Robinho both reported as saying negotiations over a possible transfer are ongoing and Ramon Calderon very clearly stating the club have no intention of letting the Brazilian go, today sees Robinho’s second press conference of this summer’s lengthy transfer saga.

Robinho has called a news conference in the Spanish capital for today and all suggestions seem to indicate he intends to publicly try to persuade Real Madrid to let him leave mid-way through his current contract. This news raises two questions for me: firstly, is he actually going to state his reasons for wanting to leave Real as expected, or is this a u-turn where what he’ll actually do is commit himself to the two years he has left? Secondly, despite my total hatred for Real’s sheer arrogance and the utterly shoddy way they treat players – Robinho merely being this summer’s example of that – should Robinho really be pushing quite so hard to get out of a contract I presume he signed without the aid of thumbscrews?

As to whether he really plans to push for a move away from the Bernabeu, well, it’s not surprising the speculation points to this being the case. The 24 year old was reported to have stated only last week that he feels a move to Chelsea would not only be in his best interests but would be better for Real Madrid as well. However, he was also reported to have said yesterday “A lot of things are being published and they are not the truth. We are working to seal my future, nothing else.” So, read into that what you will.

Robinho was left out of today’s squad for the opening Primera Liga game against Deportivo, although coach Bernd Schuster was very clear this was not an indication of the player being sold to Chelsea. Schuster stated “A lot is going on and today it can’t be cleared up. It will be by September 2nd. For us, he continues to be an important player but we have to look at the player’s condition. In recent weeks the pressure around him has been greater, things have been said and the player is not in the right state. Next week when he comes back from international duty, we will be able to deal with him and everything will change.”

So, what can we take from Real’s certainty that Robinho won’t be going anywhere? Put it this way, Robinho’s agent has made no secret of the fact his client has felt undervalued at Real. Not just because they made it crystal clear during the summer that they wanted a replacement for him (even to the point of trying to use him as a bargaining tool to get Cristiano Ronaldo’s signature), but also in monetary terms. And yet Real must be only too aware that Chelsea have offered the Brazilian a hefty increase on what they’re paying him. However, in their failure to land any of the big signings they really wanted this summer, could it be the Spanish club have decided to give him a substantial rise? After all, the way they see it, they’ll get Ronaldo next summer and probably drop Robinho like a stone then anyway? So maybe that’s what Robinho actually meant when he said they were working to seal his future and negotiations were ongoing?

That’s where my suspicions about this press conference are raised anyway. I’d put nothing past Real Madrid, they seem supremely confident Robinho is staying, despite having publicly stated only a week ago they would never keep a player against his wishes, and knowing the egotistical Calderon – with “the most important club in the world” sinking to the new low of being turned down by all and sundry this summer, he’d like nothing better than for Robinho to show how important Real Madrid are by committing his future to them with full pomp and ceremony.

Anyway, if I’m just being far too cynical and Robinho does genuinely plan to use this press conference to state his desire to leave and the reasons for it, this brings me to the second question: is he right to do so? I mean, I’ve no intention to defend Real Madrid here because their treatment of Robinho this summer has been totally out of order at times, however, he did sign a contract and I’ve no reason to believe he did it under any duress, so why shouldn’t he be expected to honour it? Well technically, he doesn’t actually have to because the Brazilian has been at Real Madrid for three years and according to Article 17 of FIFA’s transfer regulations, any player who signs a deal when aged under 28 is able to unilaterally break that contract after a period of three years. But what about morally?

Surprisingly, there appears to be the distinct absence of comments from Sepp Blatter on this one, despite his statement around players being treated like ‘slaves’ earlier this summer. Although, that was about an English team not allowing one of their star players to go to Real Madrid, which is clearly a special case. However, looking at the argument from the other side of the coin, even the man who’s been courting Robinho all summer and had Chelsea utterly convinced the deal was done has stated in the past “No-one is forced into a contract, we’re expected to honour contracts, and our players should be too. Football has to look at this seriously. You need to be able to think, ‘This is not just my team for this season, but these guys are here two or three years.’ If fans thought next year there would be a new squad of 23 players, the game would lose something.”

Certainly, Cristiano Ronaldo was slated enough over the summer without ever stating he didn’t want to play for Manchester United. So, if this is a case of Robinho making a stand and ironically doing exactly what Real Madrid had failed to get Ronaldo to do earlier this summer (i.e. make a public stand regarding his desire to leave), will the Spanish club admit defeat or simply shackle him to the bench until next summer?

Real Madrid To Go Back On Their Word?

Exactly how long ago was it that Real Madrid insisted they would never retain a player on the team against his wishes, was it really less than a week? Oh what short memories they have. Because following their inability to sign, first Cristiano Ronaldo and now both David Villa and Santi Cazorla, that appears to be exactly what they are doing.

Over a week ago, Robinho made it publicly clear he wanted to swap the Bernabeu for Stamford Bridge and after being included in last Sunday’s squad for the Supercopa second leg against Valencia, even though he didn’t play, faced the wrath of Real supporters. And yet, even after relations between the Brazilian and the Spanish club appear to have hit the point of no return, Real president, Ramon Calderon has seemingly put his foot down at the last minute, stating “Robinho is staying in Madrid and there is no possibility of going back on that.”

So what happened to Peter Kenyon’s assurances there’d be “no hitches” in getting Robinho, even if Real Madrid held it out for as long as they possibly could? Would the club have sold Shaun Wright-Phillips the next day if they hadn’t listened to Kenyon’s drivel? Because they certainly wouldn’t have sanctioned Robinho shirts being advertised on the official site if they’d seen this one coming.

Still, even if Scolari insists we’ll cope without Robinho, Peter Kenyon is reported to be staying in Madrid – until the deadline Monday if necessary – in order to get the player (and save his own backside no doubt). But it looks as if his excessive BS has only made the job twice as hard now, with Real clearly refusing to play ball.

So, with Real already having suggested they wouldn’t keep a player who doesn’t want to be there, and the player in question making it abundantly clear that this is indeed the case, do they just want to see Kenyon squirm after all his bragging led to their player’s shirt being paraded around by a club he hasn’t even signed for? Or is it more about Chelsea’s most recent offer falling about £5million short of their valuation? It’s not as if they need the money, although knowing Calderon, it’s more likely he doesn’t want to lose face by selling a player like Robinho when he’s failed on a number of big signings over the summer.

And where does all this leave Chelsea, and Robinho, with the transfer deadline fast approaching? Well, for a start, Robinho has been left out of the squad for Real Madrid’s opening Primera Liga game against Deportivo, although following his recent threats to leave the club if Robinho was sold, Real coach Bernd Schuster insists “This is my decision and not the club’s. I believe that this is the best thing. I have not spoken with the player, but I can say that he has not refused to travel with the squad. I maintain that Robinho is an important player and I want him to remain with us.”

But whilst we can’t read too much into his absence from this weekend’s game, Robinho himself continues to talk up a possible move, informing Globoesporte “I have a contract with Real Madrid now, but we are still negotiating with Chelsea. A lot of things are being published and they are not the truth. It is not true that I said that I was going to apologise to the press. We are working to seal my future, nothing else.”

Chelsea meanwhile, are reported to suggest Calderon’s stance comes as no surprise given Real’s apparent failings in the transfer market this summer, although a source from the club stated last night “We are still hopefully of getting a deal.”

Blind faith maybe?

Chelsea v Spurs: Preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday sees us take on Spurs at Stamford Bridge and Scolari will be looking for us to continue our 100% start to the campaign following our hard fought 1-0 at the JJB last week. Ramos, on the other hand, will be no doubt demanding a considerable improvement on the two defeats he’s endured so far. In fact, if Spurs don’t avoid defeat in this one, it’ll be their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign, as Scolari acknowledges “It is important for Tottenham not to lose another game. They want their first three points in the league so we have some problems, we know this. Tottenham have lost both games and made some mistakes. But this is a big chance for Tottenham because it is a derby. We need to respect them even more.”

Juande Ramos definitely seems up for a result in this game and says “We need to start getting points on the board, and I think having a game like Chelsea at this time gives us a great chance to lift the spirits. The game plan should be to go there and play with an ambitious attacking style of football without fear. The team that takes its chances on the day will be the one who prevails.”

Spurs will be missing Hossam Ghaly (knee) and Alan Hutton (ankle) for the game, whilst Chelsea will be without Drogba (knee). Michael Ballack misses out with a foot injury and other possible absentees could be Joe Cole (ankle) and Ashley Cole (thigh).

 

KEY PLAYERS

CHELSEA

Deco – Inspirational on the opening day of the season against Pompey. Quiet game last week although still popped up with the winner.

SPURS

Woodgate – Scored in his last two games against us, he’ll need an eye keeping on him.

 

CLUB FORM

CHELSEA

Have taken 6 points from the opening two games. Currently on the longest unbeaten run in the Premier League with 23 games (won 17, drawn 6). Chelsea have the best Premier League record in 2008 (15 wins, 5 draws) and remain the only top flight club not to lose a league game in this calendar year. Chelsea continue to defend a phenomenal unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge, aiming to stretch the run to 84 in this one. Last defeat in the league at Stamford Bridge stretches as far back as February 21, 2004 (1-2 defeat to Arsenal). Of their last five London derbies, Chelsea have won four and drew one. Finished 2nd last season and sit at the tope of the table with maximum points going into his game.

SPURS

Have yet to take any points this season, losing their opening two games against Middlesbrough (a) and Sunderland (h), although have lost the opening to games in each of the last two seasons. Have won only one of their last nine Premier League games and have won only five games in the Premier League in 2008. Spurs have won only twice in 64 Premier League games against the ‘Big Four’ clubs and have never taken 3 points from Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. Finished last season in 11th place and sit 17th with no points going into this game.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

Chelsea have lost only one game to Spurs in the Premier League and have never been beaten by them at home during this time, notching up 13 wins and 5 draws in the last 18 games at Stamford Bridge. In fact, Chelsea have won more games (20), scored more goals (62) and gained more points (71) from Spurs than any other club in the Premier League. Chelsea have dropped only 25 points out of a possible 96 available against Spurs in the Premier League.

Home And Away

League (inc PL): Chelsea 51 wins, Spurs 41 wins, Draws 28

Prem: Chelsea 20 wins, Spurs 1 win, Draws 11

At Chelsea 

League (inc PL): Chelsea 29 wins, Spurs 19 wins, Draws 12

Prem: Chelsea 11 wins, Spurs 0 wins, Draws 5

 

LAST SEASON

Chelsea 2 – 0 Spurs

Chelsea scorers: Belletti, Wright-Phillips

12 January 2008 – Ref: Alan Wiley

 

PREDICTION

Despite Chelsea’s 100% start to this season, both last weeks unconvincing performance at Wigan and Spurs’ real need to get something from this game, I have a nasty feeling about this one. Whilst most would fancy Chelsea for a win, I don’t think it’ll be as easy as all that. Anelka won’t get much from the Spurs defence and our own defence will need to be on it’s guard with Ramos sending his team out with strict instructions to go for the Chelsea jugular. And as if that isn’t enough, the last time Chelsea lost their third game of the season after winning the first two might’ve been as far back as the 1987-88 season – but it was against Spurs!

 

TEAMS

CHELSEA (from): Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Ivanovic, Alex, Belletti, Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, A Cole, Bridge, J Cole, Obi Mikel, Lampard, Deco, Anelka, Malouda, Kalou, Essien

SPURS (from): Gomes, Cesar, Zokora, Gunter, Bale, Assou-Ekotto, Gilberto, King, Woodgate, Dawson, Modric, Bentley, Jenas, Huddlestone, O’Hara, Lennon, Dos Santos, Berbatov, Bent

 

REFEREE

Howard Webb (Yorkshire)

Joe Cole More Realistic Than Kenyon

With the wounds from last season’s Champions League still healing (or even festering in some cases), we now know what we’ve got to face in this season’s campaign – and it’s been fairly kind to us you’d have to say.

Roma will no doubt let us know we’ve been in a game, although if we can’t get past Bordeaux and new boys CFR Cluj, then we don’t really deserve to be there. But whilst I’ve no doubt Kenyon is already practicing his ascent as he climbs his own stairs in his pyjamas every night, our own Joe Cole is a little more realistic. Because, like a lot of us, Cole thinks we should concentrate on domestic matters first.

Cole says “The main thing is Chelsea win the league this season, that’s the priority for the club. The Premier League is the bread and butter, that’s the mark of a club and who you are. Anything can happen in the Champions League. In the Premier League, the best team over the course of a season wins it and we want to be that team this year.”

And of course he’s right, the Champions League is down to a lot of things – not necessarily merit – as Liverpool have previously proved. But it’s the Premier League that shows a club can consistently put in performances worthy of winning a title (hence Liverpool never turn up for that one).

On his own future at Chelsea, with the imminent arrival of Robinho, Cole remains positive and says “I’ve been here five years now and I’ve always played, even after we’ve brought in players for £20 or £30 million, world-class players.  I’ve always accepted the challenge, always took it on. It will just be another great challenge. He’s a great player, so it’s great for the squad.”

And fortunately, the 26 year old remains undeterred at the thought of having to continue to earn his place in the Chelsea side, dismissing any suggestions he could turn into next summer’s equivalent of the Frank Lampard saga, stating “I love Chelsea, I’ve got a contract here, I wouldn’t want to go play anywhere else. The club want me to stay, I’ve started the season well and still got my place with England.”

Spot on Joe.

Real Madrid To Call Robinho ‘Deal’ Off?

Oh dear, should Chelsea be holding back on the printing of certain shirts? Because according to Guillem Balague, the Robinho deal is far from done and dusted.

Despite all the excitement around Chelsea, largely brought about by Peter Kenyon’s optimistic wrist movements no doubt, it is being suggested that Real’s president, Ramon Calderon insists the deal will not go ahead until a replacement (for a player they don’t particularly want) is found.

So where has Kenyon got the idea from that Robinho would not only be a Chelsea player by today, but could even feature in the game against Spurs on Sunday? And why does Robinho’s agent seem so certain he’ll be getting his player away from the Bernabeu any day? Well, it would seem Real’s sporting director, Pedrag Mijatovic, and the club’s director general, Jose Angel told Kenyon and Ribeiro they were happy to accept the £32million Chelsea had put on the table. With that done, Robinho then agreed the terms of a five year deal. Unfortunately for all those concerned in this little party though, Calderon gets the final say – and he apparently says no.

Having already been publically turned down by Ronaldo this summer, Calderon is clearly narked at David Villa’s decision to extend his stay at Valencia rather than play for the “best club in the world.” So, with it looking unlikely Real can bribe persuade any of the players they want to come in this summer, Calderon has effectively called a halt to any prospective deal, stating “Our squad is complete and it is impossible for us to have one better than the one we have.”

Still, let’s not give up just yet because not only is this Real Madrid we’re dealing with here, but it’s also the word of Guillem Balague.

Wright-Phillips To Get A Game Sunday?

Shaun Wright-Phillips has finally given in and agreed a move back to Manchester City. He becomes Chelsea’s second departure in a week, again for an undisclosed fee although it’s thought to be in the region of £9-£10million.

Not much of a return for the £21million we lashed out on him initially, although we clearly overpaid initially and the fact he’s struggled to get in the Chelsea side, starting only 43 games won’t have helped his value much either.

The 26 year old, who agreed a four year deal, is expected to be unveiled at a press conference tomorrow and could be making his second debut for City against Sunderland on Sunday.

After signing today, the winger stated : “Obviously I’m delighted to come back to City and I just can’t wait to get started again.”

Good luck to him with that.