Tag Archive: Premier League



Everton attacker Tim Cahill looks set to join Major League Soccer outfit New York Red Bulls after the Goodison Park club announced a deal had been agreed between the two sides. The Australian international spent 8 years at Everton, racking up over 270 appearances.

Cahill began his career at hometown club Sydney United, moving to English side Millwall on a free transfer in 1998. He soon established himself as a regular in the The Lions’ starting line-up, playing 36 times in the league in his second season at the Den. Cahill went on to reach double figures in four of his seven seasons at the club from central midfield, and scoring the winner in a FA Cup semi-final tie against Sunderland – a victory that put Millwall into the Cup final and the following season’s UEFA Cup.

Fox in the Box: Cahill in typical pose

Having narrowly avoided relegation from the Premier League the previous season, Everton boss David Moyes shelled out £1.5 million for Cahill’s services in a bid to climb up the table in 2004-05. It certainly worked – moved into a more attacking role, Cahill was Everton’s top scorer with 11 goals as the side finished in a hugely impressive fourth place.

Scoring a brilliant headed winner against Manchester City in one of his first appearances for Everton set the tone for a largely successful stay at Goodison Park which saw Cahill become a huge fans’ favourite. He scored in three of Everton’s last 5 games of the 2004-05 campaign – his final goal of the season, against Newcastle in the Blues’ penultimate game, sealed Champions League qualification.

The 32-year-old’s departure severs another link to that 2004-05 squad, who’s success Everton have failed to emulate in recent years: there are now just two players – local lads Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman – who were part of the Champions League side.

Although he stands at a modest 5 feet, 10 inches tall (hence the affectionate nickname “Tiny Tim”), Cahill’s impressive aerial ability allowed him to outjump many taller defenders. Thumping headed goals – followed by his trademark boxing celebration – became a regular sight at Goodison Park during Cahill’s eight-year stint at Everton.

One of the club’s most consistent players in recent seasons, Cahill suffered a rare blip in form during the 2011-12 campaign, netting just three times and enduring a goal drought that lasted throughout the whole of 2011. As former Everton defender David Unsworth noted: “Tim’s been a fantastic servant for Everton – a bargain buy. He’s scored many goals but his form has just waned a little bit.”

Recent months have seen Cahill linked with big-money moves to China and the United Arab Emirates, but, having ruled out moves to both countries, the former Ballon d’Or nominee found the chance to join New York Red Bulls too good to turn down. Though the American giants have yet to confirm the deal, a statement released on Everton’s official website last night read: “Everton have agreed with Major League Soccer that Tim Cahill can be transferred to the New York Red Bulls. Tim, 32, will move to the Red Bulls for a nominal fee, subject to agreeing personal terms and passing a medical. He will travel to the US in the next few days.”

That fee is believed to be in the region of £1 million, representing a decent return on Everton’s original investment, but many supporters feel Cahill’s success over the years should have warranted a larger sum. Tim will join fellow ex-Premier League players Teemu Tainio and Thierry Henry – captain of the Red Bulls – at the Eastern Conference table-toppers, but is the only Asian member of club’s squad.

Current Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard enjoyed a 5-year spell at the side, then known as the New York/New Jersey Metrostars, between 1998 and 2003.

Image: http://www.thesun.co.uk

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Everton have confirmed the departure of young Portuguese striker João Silva  to Bulgarian giants Levski Sofia on a 3-year deal. The move comes following two years at Goodison Park in which the 22-year-old failed to make any appearances for Everton.

Having joined the Toffees in 2010 from Portuguese second-tier club CD Aves, Silva was hailed as a “starlet” and compared to Pauleta, the country’s all-time scorer at international level. Inevitably, young Silva struggled to displace regular first-team forwards Louis Saha, Tim Cahill and Jermaine Beckford, and soon returned to his homeland with a loan move to UD Leiria.

Silva’s Everton career never took off

Back in Portugal, Silva looked more comfortable, averaging a goal every three games for Leiria and netting twice against national giants Benfica in a 3-3 draw on the last day of the 2010-11 season. The following summer he joined Vitória de Setúbal, scoring 3 goals in 16 league appearances before being recalled by Everton in January.

However, Silva still failed to make the breakthrough at Goodison, scoring two goals in six starts for the reserve team, and few fans will be surprised to see the Portugal under-21 international offloaded in a transfer that probably benefits both parties. What may have come as a surprise, though, is Silva’s move to Bulgaria, rather than back to his homeland, where his talents have already been proven.

Silva will join compatriots Nino Pinto, a defender, and fellow forward Cristovão Ramos at Levski Sofia, who finished third in last season’s Bulgarian PFG. João follows fellow reserve-team players Adam Forshaw, James Wallace, James McFadden and Marcus Hahnemann out of the exit door at Goodison, with Rangers forward Steven Naismith currently Moyes’ only summer signing.

Image: http://onossofuteb0l.blogspot.co.uk

 


Premier League outfit Queens Park Rangers have completed the signing of experienced South Korean midfielder Park Ji-Sung on a two-year deal. Park leaves Old Trafford after seven successful years at United during which he won four Premier League titles and one Champions League trophy.

QPR will become the fourth club of a brilliant career which has seen Park take in national honours with Kyoto Purple Sanga of Japan, Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven as well as at Manchester United – a trophy haul that makes him the most decorated Asian footballer of all time.

The 31-year-old’s experience at the highest level can only benefit QPR, and the Super Hoops will hope to utilize Park’s hard-working playing style to full effect. Similarly, Park’s versatility in midfield will be able to fill a number of positions in Mark Hughes’ squad: he can play anywhere across the middle of the park and was used as both a defensive midfielder and a winger by Manchester United.

“I’m going to QPR!? YESS!” Park is excited to join the London side

Although Park was clearly more likely to win silverware at Old Trafford than QPR’s Loftus Road – QPR boss Hughes has admitted “Ji has been attracted not to where QPR are, but where QPR are going” – he had fallen out of favour somewhat at Old Trafford during the latter years of his spell with the Red Devils, playing less than half of United’s Premier League fixtures in his last three seasons at the club.

He was often recalled for vital league, cup and European games, but Park is expected to play a much larger role at QPR, where first-team football chances are more assured. Enticed by the London club’s vision for the future, Park said: “The project was simply too good to resist and I am excited about getting started in pre-season and going on tour to Asia in the coming days. I am joining a club that is very much on an upward curve – a club that has a very bright future.”

Similarly delighted were Hughes and QPR owner Tony Fernandes: ex-United forward Hughes gushed “He is hugely respected there because of what he has achieved, his application to his work and the impact he has on games…this is a huge signing for this football club”, while a statement on the club’s official website hailed Park as a “global phenomenon”.

Fernandes, a Malaysian entrepreneur, surely appreciates Park’s value in making QPR a club attractive to the Asian market – the signing “coincides” with the team’s pre-season tour of the region. The AirAsia director said: “I am overjoyed and can’t wait to see him in a QPR shirt. It shows our determination and our ambition to build this club. Ji is a global star with a Champions League winner’s medal to his name, and he is as excited about this move as we all are.”

Park’s retirement from international football in January 2011, shortly after winning his 100th cap for South Korea, means that QPR will not face losing their new signing during the Premier League season. 26 of Park’s international appearances came after 2009, representing his country mid-season at the 2011 Asian Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

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Ivorian midfielder Jean-Jacques Gosso has expressed his delight at being linked with Premier League club Everton in recent days. Gosso, currently playing for Turkish side Orduspor, has yet to play in England and has spent most of his career outside of Europe.

Beginning his senior career in his homeland in 2002 with Stella Club d’Adjamé, Gosso moved to Morrocan club Wydad Casablanca the following year. Interest from several Israeli sides followed, with Maccabi Tel Aviv and FC Ashdod both inviting the midfielder to discuss terms with them. He signed for the latter club in 2008, ironically making his league debut against Maccabi.

A successful trial in June 2008 at French side Moncaco, then of Ligue 1, Gosso spent three years in France, leaving after Les Rouge et Blanc’s relegation to the second tier in 2011. Turkish outfit Orduspor have boasted the Ivorian international’s talents since, the 29-year-old playing 24 of the club’s 34 Super Lig fixtures last season.

Gosso’s international experience makes up for his lack of European football

After hearing of Everton’s interest, Gosso admitted: “I am very interested if there is an option for me in England. My dream has always been to play in the Premier League and prove myself against midfielders and strikers at the top level”. Gosso described Everton, who finished seventh in the Premier League in 2011-12, as “a fantastic team…one of the biggest club in England.”

Predominantly a holding midfielder, but having also represented Ivory Coast at right-back, Gosso provides vital versatility that could aid Everton’s small transfer budget by allowing Blues boss David Moyes to provide cover for two positions in his squad in one fell swoop.

Gosso also believes his playing style would suit the Everton sides that Moyes has built: “I know David Moyes likes players who put a shift in, so if he is interested in me – like I am hearing – that means I must be doing something right.”

Although the Liverpool Echo have reported that Everton have yet to make a formal approach for Gosso, a move would suit both player and club. The Ivorian would provide cover for, or replace, first-choice defensive midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park, while he could also act as back-up to long-serving right-backs Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert.

Image: http://www.mtnfootball.com


Ghana international Asamoah Gyan has joined United Arab Emirates side Al-Ain on a permanent deal, following a loan spell at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium last season.

Having signed for Sunderland of the Premier League in August 2010, Gyan enjoyed an impressive start to life in England in his debut season, netting 10 times in 34 league games. However, things quickly turned sour for the striker as he accepted a loan move to Al-Ain in September 2011, infuriating then-Sunderland manager Steve Bruce as well as the club’s fans.

Gyan unsurprisingly proved too much for UAE defences during his loan spell

The loan deal – rumoured to include a £6 million payment to Sunderland, as well as Gyan’s Sunderland wages being quadrupled – led Bruce to express his anger on what he viewed as a transfer made behind his back: “I had a conversation with [Gyan] 48 hours ago and he assured me, he shook my hand, that he wanted to be a Sunderland player…[but] all of a sudden within a few hours it seems things have changed.”

Gyan openly admitted that the financial benefits of the loan had been a key reason in his move, describing the deal as “too good to refuse.” With the United Arab Emirates typically a destination for over-the-hill internationals looking for one last payday, Gyan had moved to Al-Ain aged just 25, prompting Bruce to tell English press: “I don’t think he’s got a future here.”

While Sunderland initially missed Gyan’s goals – Bruce was sacked in November with the club having won just 2 of its opening 13 Premier League games – they soon recovered under new manager Martin O’Neill, reaching the quarter-final of the FA Cup and finished mid-table in the league.

Gyan also enjoyed success, becoming the UAE Pro-League’s top scorer with 22 goals in just 18 games as Al-Ain cruised to the title. With O’Neill also reluctant to welcome Asamoah back into the first-team picture at the Stadium of Light – saying “you wouldn’t really want somebody who is really unwilling to come back to the football club” – the Accra-born attacker has unsurprisingly decided to join Al-Ain on a permanent basis.

The 58-cap Ghana international may be Al-Ain’s biggest star, but he is by no means the first to make the transition from Premier League to Pro League: former Coventry and Aston Villa midfielder Mustapha Hadji joined the club in 2004, while ex-Portsmouth coach Alain Perrin managed The Boss in the same year.

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Everton will host Champions League-chasing Newcastle United this Sunday with the visitors knowing that they need a least a draw to give themselves a chance of playing in Europe’s premier competition next season. What many fail to realise is that this fixture is almost an exact reversal of the same game at Goodison Park in the 2004-05 season.

On 7 May 2005 the Toffees welcomed Newcastle to Goodison hoping for a win that would go a long way to cementing the Blues’ grip on fourth place following a season of unprecedented success. Everton had sold young forward Wayne Rooney to Manchester United at the start of the season (haven’t heard of him since!) and after a 17th-placed finish in 2003-04, were widely tipped for a relegation battle the following season.

Ba and Cisse have formed a formidable partnership in their maiden season at the club (Image: The Telegraph)

This bears a striking resemblance to Newcastle’s shock surge to the summit in 2011-12. Only promoted from the Championship two years ago, the Magpies had settled comfortably back into life in top tier with a 12th-placed finish last season. Powered by the goals of new signings Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse – read Tim Cahill and Marcus Bent for Everton seven years ago – Newcastle have defied the odds to achieve remarkable success and will certainly be playing European football in some form next season.

The Blues will enter tomorrow’s game with little to play for on paper: David Moyes’ men have enjoyed a superb 2012 so far, but are mathematically unable to catch sixth-placed Chelsea and are only playing for the pride that comes with finishing above Merseyside rivals Liverpool. Everton’s nerve-free position ahead of tomorrow’s game mirrors Newcastle’s attitude on that day in 2005 – United were a mid-table side and would eventually finish in 14th.

Despite that lowly league placing, Newcastle still entered Europe via the Intertoto Cup in 2004-05, something Everton could emulate this year by qualifying for the Europa League due to the Cup successes of the teams above them, which could open up a bonus European slot.

David Weir heads Everton towards the Champions League in 2005’s edition of this fixture (Image: Everton FC)

Almost seven years ago to the day, Everton went on to beat Newcastle 2-0 in their last home game of the season thanks to goals from David Weir and Tim Cahill, not to mention Magpies forward Shola Ameobi’s red card early in the second half. Ironically, Ameobi, along with veteran goalkeeper Steve Harper is the only survivor of that squad still at the club, while Tony Hibbert, Cahill and James McFadden could all feature against the Magpies again on Sunday.

It should prove to be an entertaining contest between two in-form teams on the season’s last day. Newcastle will be desperate to avoid history repeating itself  – their future depends on it.


Fans of League One and Two clubs could be forgiven for looking at the significant distance between their beloved team and the big-time Charlies of the Premier League and deciding their side is destined never to reach the top flight. Given the gap in finances and quality of players, it’s a reasonable assumption.

But history can provide comfort for those who continue to resolutely believe that Accrington Stanley will one day march to the Premier League title, leaving Man United City in their wake. Three successful seasons is “all” it takes for a club to reach the promised land from England’s basement professional division.


Stoke take on Valencia in this season's Europa League - a far cry from their days of battling Wrexham and Cambridge in the Third Division as recently as 2001-02

A cursory glance at the 1991-92 Division Three table would surprise many a fan, and rightly so. Current Premier League sides Fulham, Wigan Athletic, West Brom, Stoke City and Swansea were all languishing in the third tier exactly twenty years ago – in fact, Swansea only survived relegation to the fourth division that season by five points. Teams flying high in the Championship this season were also mired in  Division Three mid-table mediocrity in 1991-92 – Reading finished in twelfth place, behind the likes of Brentford and Stockport County.

For more recent examples, look no further than the 2002-03 league tables. Just eight seasons before they would win promotion to the Premier League, Swansea were still battling in England’s lower divisions and even faced relegation to the Conference in 2003, surviving by just one point at the expense of Exeter City. Swansea learned their lesson and look what they have achieved since.

Taking Exeter’s place in the Football League were current Championship side Doncaster Rovers, fresh from Conference play-off victory, while even further down the league pyramid current League Two clubs Accrington and Aldershot helped themselves to themselves to Northern Premier League and Isthmian league titles respectively.

Plymouth have swapped fixtures against the likes of Wolves for games at AFC Wimbledon and Macclesfield

Granted, this year’s League Two consists of fewer big clubs. In recent years, Plymouth Argyle and Bradford City have worked their way to the top before suffering a slide through the divisions – the opposite journey to the teams outlined above. As recently as May 2001 the people of Bradford were enjoying Premier League football, but this season the Bantams could even drop in to non-league football.

Plymouth never quite made it as high as the top-flight, but if you had told Argyle fans in 2007-08, when they finished 10th in the Championship – just six points shy of the play-offs – that they would be battling for League Two survival in five years time, you would have probably been laughed at. The club’s downfall has been astonishingly fast – they were still playing in the Championship in 2009-10. However, financial difficulties have robbed Plymouth of their chance to reach the Premier League, an opportunity that now seems a lifetime away.

So while your tiny lower-league team of small-time professionals may look more like reaching the Ryman League than the Premier League, don’t give up hope. Clubs can shoot through the leagues with impressive speed, but be warned – the fall from grace can be just as fast if you’re not careful.