Monday, July 10, 2006

Looking forward

With the World Cup now confined to history, leaving the debris of a tournament which internationally will be remembered for a Zidane header, and for us contrived to cast a long dark shadow over our season before it has even begun, it is time to look forward again.

Prior to the competition starting, Glenn Roeder said he planned to watch some players over the tournament, with a view to then dipping into the transfer market once it was over. With Owen's injury heightening our paucity of strikers, it was inevitable that we'd be linked with every striker under the sun and so far, the press have linked us to Dirk Kuyt (who enjoyed a mediocre time with Holland), Van Horseface (who enjoyed a rotten time with Holland) and Miroslav Klose (who picked up the Golden Boot). Quite whether we're actually interested in any of these players remains to be seen.

Of the three, I'd favour the ageing, but proven in the premiership, Van Nistelrooy - however, I suspect bigger names will also be interested in providing him with a new stable lined with luxurious hay.

The impending sale that must surely follow the match fixing scandal in Italy means that a whole host of quality players will flood the transfer market, and in my dream world, Italian captain Cannavaro will be running out for us next season, rather than World Cup non-playing runner-up Jean-Alain Boumsong. However, like the Van Nistelrooy story above, I suspect this is about as likely as Michael Owen playing again for us before Christmas.

As it is, this Saturday sees the start of the new season, with a 5pm kick off against the Norwegians of Lillestrom. With only a couple of weeks of pre-season, and the might of Luque and Milner up front, this looks a much harder tie than it appeared when the draw was made. Still, solid performances from players with things to prove (be it to new England boss McLaren - Parker; or simply to the watching fans who pay his wages - Butt) will hopefully be enough to get us past Lillestrom and in to the UEFA Cup.


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