Five things we learnt this weekend: Huddlestone’s new challenge; Martinez ringmaster at the circus; Pennant begins to repay Hughes’ faith; Redmond’s bright future; Jeered Cabaye could leave Pardew in the lurch
That was the weekend
Sunday 01 September 2013
Huddlestone’s new challenge as times change at Tottenham
When Tom Huddlestone agreed to leave London for Hull, he bid farewell to the glamour of Tottenham and exchanged it for regular football. Had Huddlestone turned in for Spurs the kind of gritty, inventive performance he delivered in the 2-0 defeat at Manchester City, he still may not have kept his place.
“There were times, regardless of how well I did in a game, there would be certain players in front of me. It was difficult to take,” he said.
This summer has seen the de-Anglification of Tottenham. Of the £107m Andre Villas-Boas has spent, not a penny has been on an Englishman. “It is surprising,” Huddlestone said. “They seem to be changing their policy a little bit but for the manager, Franco Baldini [director of football] and the chairman it is all about finishing in the top four.”
After the circus Martinez might be short of star attractions
Having described the transfer window as “a circus”, Roberto Martinez finds himself as something of a ringmaster as it reaches its climax. The goalless draw at Cardiff was not only Everton’s third in succession under their new manager, it is also likely to be Marouane Fellaini’s last for the club.
And while Martinez accepted after a meeting on Thursday night that he would go to Manchester United for £24m, he was given every encouragement that James McCarthy would become the third member of his Wigan FA Cup-winning side to join him at Goodison.
Given the toothless nature of Everton’s attack, another of his former players, the Liverpool-bound Victor Moses, would be more useful, stranded surplus to requirements at Chelsea but with Jose Mourinho insisting he still has “a future” at the club.
Pennant goal begins to repay Hughes’ faith in the winger
When he was asked why he did not follow the path of so many members of the League Managers’ Association and get rid of Jermaine Pennant, Mark Hughes replied he was afraid of the winger “coming back in another team’s shirt”.
Having played for 10 clubs, including Watford, Real Zaragoza and Wolverhampton Wanderers – a club whose relegation he failed to prevent – Pennant has a wide choice of shirts already.
His winner against West Ham on Saturday not only provided Hughes with his first managerial victory at Upton Park, it also justified his decision to retain Pennant for Stoke.
However, the desire to say that it means Pennant is in a “new place” in what has been a troubled life should be treated with caution.
If managers as different as Rafa Benitez, Arsène Wenger and Tony Pulis could not control him, then Hughes needs every bit of available luck if he is to be more successful.
Redmond’s bright future brings Hodgson rare delight
On a weekend when Roy Hodgson complained again about a dearth of English talent that might scar the national team for a generation, his Under-21 manager, Gareth Southgate, was watching 19-year-old Nathan Redmond seize victory for Norwich against Southampton.
There has never been a better time for a young player to make an impact. On the opening weekend of the Premier League season another goal, from Everton’s teenager Ross Barkley against Norwich, earned him a place in Hodgson’s senior squad.
Redmond’s goal was also an important one for the Norwich manager, Chris Hughton. Not only did it justify him spending £3.2m on the player from his former club Birmingham, it ensured he would not spend the international break stranded in the bottom three.
Jeered Cabaye could leave Pardew in the lurch
There is always a price to be paid for defiance and Yohan Cabaye’s desire to quit Newcastle has cost the midfielder an extended tour of the former Soviet republics.
France left Cabaye out of their squad for the World Cup qualifiers in Georgia and Belarus as uncertainty over his future at St James’ Park grows ever larger.
It was wise of manager Alan Pardew to state he could understand the jeering of Cabaye during the 1-0 win over Fulham and honest to suggest he had “no idea” if he would be at the club when they face Aston Villa on Saturday week, even if he was somewhat naive when he suggested he hopes Cabaye’s agent “plays the game”.
The only game Sport Innovations, Cabaye’s agency, will play is to extract the maximum value for a player that Newcastle can ill afford to lose to suitors Arsenal.
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