The hysteria has emerged from all corners since Paolo Di Canio’s appointment as Sunderland AFC Head Coach. The twitter hand-wringers have led the way, with the media following in behind. Much of it has derived from those of a political bent, with only a passing interest in football.

Very little in life is as black and white as some would like. As with a lot of people who are not professional politicians, Paolo Di Canio’s politics shift and merge across a variety of points of the political spectrum. Very few of his critics will have read the most detailed English language Paolo Di Canio interview (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/paolo-di-canio-my-life-speaks-for-me-6273526.html ), nor will many have read his critically-acclaimed autobiography (ghosted by Gabriele Marcotti), and even fewer (certainly amongst the post-Sunderland debate) have read his Italian newspaper columns. So very few have a genuine understanding of Di Canio’s political views and even if you had read all of the above, I’m sure you still wouldn’t have huge enlightenment on the subject. All of the above primarily focused on football, and not politics, as one would expect. However, everyone seems to have read the provocative Di Canio piece, courtesy of the Telegraph, with it‘s out-of-context quotes (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1506262/Im-a-fascist-not-a-racist-says-Paolo-di-Canio.html ). I don’t know the detail on Paolo Di Canio’s political views, it seems that nobody truly does. Di Canio’s political views appear to be a mish-mash of anti-racism, Samurai honour, and some of that hard to define fascism.  From what is in the public domain, it is very difficult to pigeonhole Di Canio’s political views and indeed difficult to think of any non-politician whose political views you could easily, and accurately, pigeonhole.

Everybody hence perhaps needs to take a step back and accept that we cannot simply put Paolo Di Canio into one political box and castigate him forever more for those views. We may have to accept that Paolo Di Canio will never step out and give a full breakdown of all his political views in manifesto form. There is no genuine reason for Di Canio to give such detailed clarification of his political views, Di Canio is not standing for political office, Di Canio is a football coach.

Politics and football very rarely mix in England. There does not appear to be any unequivocal case for that principle to alter on the subject of Di Canio.

By Tom,

@Tom7p

Carl Jenkinson is a player who whenever picked leads to a chorus of “hoho, Jenkinson a? Bloody hell”. I’ll admit to being an ex member of that choir, but now I’m breaking away like Beyonce and I’m ready to say it; Jenks is fucking class now.

Last season his crossing was undeniably excellent, but whenever in a one on one defensive scenario he looked a bit of a bomb scare. He would lunge in early, giving a skilled winger plenty notice to jink past jenks and smash in a cross for the defence to panic at like a girl, desperate to let you know how very girly she is, discovering a spider.

There has been talk of Bould working on one on training with each member of defence and the change in Jenkinson is remarkable. When in one on ones he holds his ground, timing his tackles for when the winger makes his move rather than lunging in early and lying helpless as the winger goes by. The result is several very impressive games that makes you think we might just be able to cope with Sagna’s biannual leg breaks.

The thing with Jenkinson is that he’s still very much seen as the weak link in the squad, so opposition attacks always seem to be heavily biased to the right flank, heaping pressure on our young hero. This means that any weaknesses are made clear, but also that his development should be rapid as he sits in the pocket while heavyweights swing at him. He’s handled tricky challenges with aplomb so far this season; managing to keep Raheem Sterling, a man as dangerous as he is fertile, quiet at Anfield and a mature performance against Montpelier extra impressive given the dribbling and diving skills on display.

There is also something endearing about a player playing for the team he truly loves. From a family of die hard Arsenal fans and season ticket holders it’s always clear how much it means for him to wear the red and white of Arsenal. His bedroom at home is like an Arsenalised version of a serial killers’ nutty room. Human skin and bible passages scrawled in faeces substituted for a plethora of scarves and posters of past greats (http://www.arsenal.com/assets/_files/images/mar_12/gun__1331312043_jenkinson_bedroom1.jpg)

There can be no doubt that he’s not yet the Finnished product but he is showing signs that he’ll certainly be a useful player and may well be first choice one day. He’s blossoming from an awkward Finnish Caterpillar into a glorious white and blue Butterfly and I bloody love him.

After the Arsenal game Brendan Rodgers came out with one of the most surprising post match quotes that I’ve heard for some time as he admitted that Carroll would not have left if he had known there would be no replacement.

We live in an age where admitting liability is like handing someone a baseball bat and painting your scrotum so that it resembles a pinata. Whether it’s a personal injury claim after you cover the floor in slippery bananas and forget to put up the “careful, banana’d floor” sign. Whether you cause a pile up on the A1 after making an emergency stop to take a really cool Instagram picture of the Angel of the North. Or whether you’re a young manager, recently appointed head honcho of a club with the Premier Leagues most clinically insane following and you give away a striker who cost the club £35 million just a season ago. Generally it’s best to go with “It’s a shame this happened to you” and make a hasty retreat, obscuring your face and/or number plates.

The admission of liability came as a surprise to me as I couldn’t understand the logic behind his claim. If it was so crucial to Brendan Rodgers that he had another option in attack then why not do either of the following?

Option 1: Agree the loan in principle, with the deal only completed after your expected signing is signed.

Option 2: Have a clause that allows Carroll to be recalled at any time.

As it stands he did neither. Carroll was allowed to leave before a bid for Dempsey had even been made, and seeing as Fulham and Liverpool are hardly “best buds” at the moment it’s slightly hopeful to assume they would simply bid Clint farewell and book him a taxi/helicopter/hovercraft to Liverpool. Yes, Carroll has a clause which allows him to be recalled in January. But then if a backup striker is so important that an injury on the 1st of February or the 1st of September leaves you without a striker for half a season this seems a pretty  poor option.

It was only when Gabriele Marcotti suggested that it may have been a political ploy by Rodgers that it started to make sense.

By bidding Carroll farewell and then bemoaning his loss Rodgers effectively shrugs off any responsibility for a difficult first season. If Liverpool “underachieve” and finish in 8th place: “well, not having Andy Carroll really left us short. It was a silly mistake we won’t be making again”. If Carroll goes to West Ham and flops, or if Liverpool end up doing quite well, Rodgers has saved them a years wages which can then be spent on a better player. If Carroll goes to West Ham, flourishes and  then returns ,or is sold, then he either “needed game time” or “couldn’t handle the pressure”. In any scenario Rodgers comes out smelling like a lovely Welsh rose.

I’d imagine the response at this point will be that of “that’s ridiculous, we only have two strikers now!”. But similar situations exist at Tottenham and Arsenal without the same level of panic.

If you look at the pure strikers (excluding midfielder’s playing as strikers) then at Tottenham you have Adebayor and Defoe.

At Arsenal you have; Giroud, Podolski and Chamakh. With Podolski much more suited to being played on the wing than in the middle, and Chamakh with one goal in his last 1000 minutes of football (more than twice as bad as Carroll). They have also loaned out those who would likely be the last resort options in; Bendtner, Afobe and Park Chu Young.

If Liverpool suffer one injury to a striker then they could easily revert to a one striker formation like that favoured by Rodgers at Swansea. Two injuries and they could use their new signing Yesil who, while raw, is a promising young striker. In the unlikely scenario of three injuries they would be in the same position as the other teams, resorting to deploying an attacking midfielder as a striker.

Now admittedly the midfield as a striker options available to Spurs and Arsenal are probably better than the options available to Liverpool. At Spurs you have Dembele and Dempsey who could probably slot into CF quite easily. Less so at Arsenal. I’d be less than confident in handing Gervinho or Walcott the CF position and Chamakh looks like a man who has solemnly pledged to abstain from the natural sin of slotting one in the net.

My point being that, while slightly better scenarios, there seems to be almost no concern from either Spurs or Arsenal. Whereas Liverpool are treating their lack of strikers as if it has the potential to derail the season. Rarely has such concern been raised over the loss of  a striker who averages a goal every 420 minutes, or approximately a goal every 5 games.

A cunning ploy or a foolish oversight? The motive seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

SUNDERLAND
INS: Carlos Cuellar (free, Aston Villa), Louis Saha (free, Tottenham), Steven Fletcher (£14million, Wolves), Adam Johnson (undiscl., Man City), Danny Rose (loan, Tottenham).

OUTS: Craig Gordon (released), Trevor Carson (free, Bury), Jordan Cook (free, Charlton), George McCartney (undisc., West Ham), Asamoah Gyan (£6m, Al-Ain), Michael Liddle (undisc, Accrington Stanley), Ahmed Elmohamady (loan, Hull), Kieran Richardson (£2m, Fulham).

Martin O’Neill may not strike you as a glamour puss but he can spend another man’s money with impressive gusto. Big Fletch is bussed in from Birmingham to prevent riots on the streets of Sunderland when they realise that The Greatest Striker To Ever Live has been relocated to Turin. Fletcher’s fee has raised a few eyebrows, but goals are his business and business is already booming. Adam Johnson also joins, recently described as “the favourite City player of people who don’t watch City”. He’s definitely dangerous in attack and has oodles of end product, the only question will be if the sight of a tiny Irishman frantically gesticulating can inspire some defensive contribution from the young man (Copyright Ray Wilkins). Louis Saha is shipped in, presumably in bubble wrap, to give the Physio’s a challenge. Martin’s best friend Carlos joins him in the north and Craig Gordon’s Sunderland shambles comes to a close.

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MANCHESTER UNITED

INS: Shinji Kagawa (£12m, Borussia Dortmund), Nick Powell (£4m, Crewe), Robin van Persie (£24m, Arsenal), Alex Buttner (£3.9million, Vitesse Arnhem).

OUTS: Michael Owen (released), Oliver Norwood (undisclosed, Huddersfield), Matty James, Ritchie De Laet (both undisclosed to Leicester), Tomasz Kuszczak (free, Brighton), Fabio (loan, QPR). Ji-Sung Park (£2m, QPR), John Cofie (loan, Sheffield United), Ben Amos (loan, Hull), Reece Brown (loan, Coventry), Dimitar Berbatov (£4m, Fulham).

Van Persie grabs all the headlines for United. A coup few expected at the start of the summer, snaffled from under City’s noses. Van Persie may come with a hefty price tag for a man of his age with his injury record, but if he delivers at the rate he did for Arsenal in the past two seasons, then Ferguson will be fully vindicated.

Kagawa is the footballing hipster’s choice of Premier League transfer of the season. A player with intricate link play and phenomenal numbers for Borussia Dortmund in assists and goals. @miketweetgood expounds here on why it is moronic to view Kagawa as primarily a marketing ploy http://feetballs.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/is-it-racist/ .

Büttner and Powell will provide added potential and numbers. Evra clearly needs a rival (especially with Fabio out on loan), Büttner seems to divide Dutch opinion on whether he will be a feasible rival to that slot.

It’s evident that Ferguson has also wanted to strip out some of the high-earning squad players, so Berbatov, Owen, Park, and Kuszczak all depart. Park was over-the-hill after great service, and Berbatov sadly never quite fitted (though was glorious on those days when he did).

Central midfield continues to be a resolute transfer blindspot for Ferguson. He seems determined to make Andesron work, and allow Cleverley the space to flourish.

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The glorious Pablo kicks off our 3 day, 3 part transfer extravaganza where we list every deal in the bloody league and give our two cents on what the business will mean for the season ahead.

ARSENAL
INS: Lukas Podolski (£11m, FC Köln), Olivier Giroud (£13m, Montpellier), Santi Cazorla (£16m, Malaga).

OUTS: Rhys Joe Campbell (loan, Real Betis), Denilson (loan, Sao Paulo), Manuel Almunia (free, Watford), Benik Afobe (loan, Bolton), Carlos Vela (undiscl, Real Sociedad), Ryo Miyaichi (loan, Wigan), Wellington Silva (loan, Ponferrada), Robin van Persie (£24m, Manchester United), Alex Song, (£15m, Barcelona), Henri Lansbury (£1m, Nottingham Forest), Ju Young Park, (loan, Celta Vigo), Nicklas Bendtner (loan, Juventus)

Had Arsenal kept Robin “the little boy inside me” Van Persie you’d have to say they had improved their squad significantly with more midfield guile in the form of Santi Cazorla, and more attacking threat up top in the form of Giroud and Podolski. The only problem was RVP let “the little boy inside me” do all his talking and as we all know, it’s hard to convince “little boys” to do anything productive when they start to whinge like bitches. Noticeable “outs” apart from the Dutchman with a child inside him is Alex Song, primed for a midfield ‘enforcer’ role the Cameroonian actually played quite well in dribs and drabs last season and may be missed in the middle until Wilshere (who is an actual “little boy”) gets back anyway. In other good news Bendtner left. In other bad news the ‘Moroccan Bendtner’ Marouane Chamakh stayed.

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Good morning internet inhabitants.

Today while lurking around the Twittersphere, like a man standing on the brink of his restraining order perimeter, I saw some of the usual Gooner grumblings.

“this transfer window has been fucking awful”

“if we don’t make 2 more signings then this is worse than last year”

etc etc

Now clearly this level of discontent is not unusual amongst the ranks of the Arsenal, but what was slightly unusual is that I was slightly taken aback. I don’t think that this window has been that bad really. I mean obviously if you look at one incident in isolation, say (hypothetically) a man I used to love leaving for a club I have little love for, then it’s been fucking awful. But as a whole, I’m a little more positive.

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