FIFA SELLS PREMIER LEAGUE SHORT OVER AGENTS' BEHAVIOUR
David Sullivan's revelation that he was threatened by agents during the winter transfer window sadly could only be a precursor to what is ahead for Premier League clubs. The West Ham United co-chairman, just as QPR manager Harry Redknapp before him, went public with the incredible behaviour of some agents desperately trying to get a cut of the millions floating around the English game. And with FIFA ready to dump their player agents registry, the expected free-for-all is only going to make those involved at the sharp end of Premier League transfers more vulnerable. The Premier League needs to push back at FIFA's powerbrokers. Regrettably, English football dismantled a successful transfer system, which worked for everyone, to come into line with FIFA's flawed windows. So, given the measure of this gesture, is it really good enough for FIFA to throw up their hands and disband all checks and balances on agents when it is surely the Premier League, the richest competition in the world, where this irresponsible decision will be felt the greatest?
EMENALO NEEDS TO ANSWER ESSIEN QUESTIONS
Michael Essien did not look out of place in the Copa El Clasico last week, getting around the Bernabeu pitch and rattling Barcelona's stars. And how Chelsea missed such a physical presence against Moussa Sissoko after his powerhouse performance inspired Newcastle United to a famous victory on Saturday. Rafa Benitez has complained about his squad being short, but Chelsea had the option to recall Essien last month - and passed. Just as they did with all 23 players out on-loan this season. You can understand the need for the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Patrick van Aanholt (whose turned his career around at Vitesse Arnhem) needing to stay out to continue their development, but Essien is now 30 and readymade. He's reached full match fitness at Real and would've slotted in nicely alongside Frank Lampard at St James' Park. We've heard plenty from Benitez, Ron Gourlay and Bruce Buck this season, but very little from football director Michael Emenalo. Blues fans deserve an insight into the thinking behind decisions like that of Essien.
SISSOKO ONLY WANTED TOON
Watching Moussa Sissoko start way, way back and actually power past Ashley Cole in the second-half of Newcastle's win over Chelsea was a thrill. The former Toulouse man covered every blade of the St James' Park pitch, scoring two goals in the process. There was plenty of criticism levelled at Alan Pardew for bringing in so many French-speakers last month, but the reputation of the club in France is now making the difference. Sissoko, inside the final six months of his deal, warned TFC management not to sell him to the highest bidder, not to Arsenal, Tottenham nor Manchester City. He wanted Tyneside. The £1.5 million paid looks an absolute bargain and it was all due to Sissoko's insistence that he be allowed to move to Newcastle. Rival bidders never had a chance.
BEST DISPLAY OF STURRIDGE CAREER
Danny Sturridge rated his performance at Manchester City as the best since his arrival at Liverpool. But for the quality of opposition and the expectations around him, Sturridge should be rating it perhaps the best of his career. It was good to hear Steve Nicol, so critical of the deal to bring Sturridge to Anfield, admitting he was wrong in the aftermath of the 2-2 draw. As the Reds legend says, however, it's still only a month into the move, but it has to be exciting for Roy Hodgson to see a young England striker taking his chance at a potential top four club.
MONREAL PERFECT FOR OX
Nacho Monreal is no Andre Santos. The new Arsenal fullback has been looked closely at by Barcelona and Real Madrid during his career and like his Gunners teammate Santi Cazorla, if not for the cash power of Malaga, could easily have signed for one of Spain's big two. As Arsene Wenger has mentioned, he's not known for bombing forward like Barcelona's Jordi Alba, but that's not a necessarily bad thing for the way the Frenchman sets up his team. Having a defensively minded fullback, similarly to Carl Jenkinson on the other flank, gives the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain more licence to do what they do best and others more security to a back four which has been fragile this season.
MASON HEADS FOR FRANCE FOR CAREER LAUNCH
Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason's move to France went under the radar on Thursday. After making his debut in the Europa League and Capital One Cup this season, Mason will be expected to push for a first team berth while at Lorient, though Saturday's game with Rennes came too soon. Now 21, Mason is regarded highly within English football and his progress in France will be worth following. Lorient wanted the option to buy, but that was declined by Spurs, where manager Andre Villas-Boas has high hopes for the midfielder. Mason's been joined at Lorient by Manchester City's Ghana international, Mohammed Abu in a similar arrangement.
QPR OWE HUGHES FOR JULIO CESAR
If QPR stay up, fans will owe some thanks to the much-maligned Mark Hughes for signing Julio Cesar. Though at the time the decision was pilloried, particularly with Robert Green already in place, Hughes' insistence is now looking a masterstroke. A recall to the Brazil squad could be just the beginning for the 33 year-old, who is being watched by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal. The veteran's been reborn and given himself a great chance to be part of the home squad for next year's World Cup.