PLAY IT SHORT: Rooney deal will assure Man Utd support; Isco set for England; Yaya's big chance; Mou renders Man Utd irrelevant
MAN UTD WILL CUT THROUGH NOISE WITH ROONEY DEAL
It now looks nailed on. And when Wayne Rooney pens his new bank-busting deal, Manchester United will in one swoop have cut through all the noise to reach their concerned support. There's plenty of confusion and concern amongst the United fanbase, including the diehards who travel home and away. But those doubts can be, in part, allayed by Rooney's decision to sign new terms. It's difficult to imagine Rooney, with Chelsea, Arsenal and PSG all willing to ferry him away from Old Trafford, committing to United without the rock solid belief in David Moyes' plans for the team. They may continue to stumble through the remainder of this season, but Rooney's decision to re-sign should have United fans anticipating an exciting summer market.
ROBERTS DEAL A FULHAM COUP
Amid the chaos at the Cottage was the positive news of Patrick Roberts' pro deal. Fulham have done well to secure Roberts, who has been watched extensively this season by Manchester United. Liverpool were also interested, while Real Madrid and Barcelona were mentioned last week before he put pen to paper. Roberts is thought of very highly inside the English game and United actually stepped up their scouting at the turn of year, posting talent spotters at three of Fulham's U21 games already in 2014. The sportswear giants are usually accurate when identifying future stars and Roberts, having only turned 17 last week, already has an endorsement deal with adidas.
DISCIPLINED CATTERMOLE CAN BE ANYTHING
On Saturday's performance, Lee Cattermole could be anything. He was outstanding against Southampton, covering every blade of grass at the Stadium of Light. He was great on the ball, spraying his passes to all corners of the pitch and broke up play when needed. And he was disciplined, completing the full 90 without a booking. On this form, you can see why Sunderland manager Gus Poyet urged chairman Ellis Short to rejected Stoke City's £5 million deadline day bid. It was only weeks ago that Cattermole was at the crossroads. He could blame Paolo di Canio. But his problems dated back to when Steve Bruce was in charge. And it wasn't about the Premier League going soft. The vast majority of his run-ins with refs were from silly, needless fouls. He seemed trapped in a cycle. It's great credit to Poyet for showing faith in Cattermole's ability, because he certainly has that. Mesh it with a new discipline and you have a rarity in the Premier League. A real box-to-box midfield general.
UNITED IRRELEVANT FOR MOURINHO
David Moyes has to be worried. Jose Mourinho did not miss in the lead-up to the weekend's FA Cup round. The Chelsea manager took aim at Manchester City's spending and Manuel Pellegrini, Arsene Wenger's trophy "failure" at Arsenal and even Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool Chihuahuas. But Manchester United were missing. Unthreatening. Irrelevant. Moyes must be concerned.
CAN LIVERPOOL COMPETE IN TALENT AUCTION?
Liverpool are flying in the League. And Brendan Rodgers is deservedly being celebrated. The good times 'could' be back. But the true test will come in the summer market. Can Rodgers and Liverpool attract those players who will turn them into genuine Champions League contenders? Rodgers' success so far has come from gambling on those that rival clubs have considered and passed on. Philippe Coutinho was going nowhere at Inter Milan. The same can be said of Danny Sturridge at Chelsea. When it came to battling for Mohamed Salah, Rodgers was beaten by Chelsea - despite having weeks on them in terms of negotiations. The Yevhen Konoplyanka saga just rubbed salt into the wounds. This is where Rodgers and Liverpool need to prove themselves. Can Anfield be an attractive option when advertised alongside the best in Europe? Or will Rodgers' summer market again be about using his know-how to uncover others who have lost their way?
ISCO DESTINED FOR PREMIER LEAGUE
No surprise Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is making a fresh play for Real Madrid winger Isco. The Chilean spoke with Marca over the weekend about the Spaniard, whose father did a tour of English clubs before he signed with Real. Isco Snr met with City officials, but also visited Manchester United when the player was preparing to leave Malaga. Frozen out by Carlo Ancelotti this season, Isco has seen his World Cup dreams evaporate and Spain U21 teammates like Gerard Deulofeu, Thiago Alcantara and Asier Illarramendi all move ahead of him in the Spanish game's consciousness. A summer move to England looks likely, but Pellegrini won't get a free run. United will also be in there, as will Arsenal - where Arsene Wenger knows his attack lacks pace when Theo Walcott is absent.
GO ON, YAYA! SHOW 'EM WHAT YOU CAN DO!
He's been making all the right diplomatic noises in the lead-up. But Yaya Toure will be desperate to show his former Barcelona teammates the full extent of his powers when they visit Manchester City this week. This Champions League tie can be Toure's coronation. At Barca, he was forced to play second fiddle to the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. Now he has the chance to prove himself their equal. On his day, Toure is unstoppable. He'll never get a better opportunity to show his friends in Barcelona what they missed.
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