PLAY IT SHORT: Will Ozil get the message?; Mangala wants Manchester; West Ham succeed holding nerve; Shame about the Euros
TIDY WBA INVESTMENT COULD BE WORTH £90M
Having to commit to £250,000 to have goal line technology installed at all Premier League grounds this season had some club money men bemoaning the price. But if you're connected to West Bromwich Albion today, you'll be delighted. Matej Vydra's late equaliser against Fulham was proved legitimate by video technology and that point could be crucial come the end of the season. A £250,000 investment for a £90 million return? Baggies' financial chiefs should be happy with their gamble today.
VIDIC 'REALLY' LEAVING FOR BIGGER THINGS?
It's becoming clear that Nemanja Vidic's 'mutual' decision to leave Manchester United at season's end was driven by David Moyes. His agent may think otherwise, but making Inter Milan his next destination is a step down. When it became apparent that Vidic would be leaving United, the storyline was all about the club captain having no confidence in the Moyes era and wanting to continue at Champions League level. Barcelona and PSG were mentioned, but he's now set to sign with Inter. The Serb is hardly leaving Old Trafford for bigger things. The Nerazzurri are very much in transition, eleven points outside the automatic Champions League places and under control of an owner, Erick Thohir, who wants to rebuild the squad with young, emerging players. Vidic was a great servant for United, but any claims he chose to leave because they could no longer meet his ambitions ring hollow with this Inter move.
LOCK IT AWAY - MANGALA WANTS MANCHESTER
Eliaquim Mangala will be playing in the Premier League next season. PSG are keen on the Porto man, especially after being trumped by Jose Mourinho's Chelsea for St Etienne youngster Kurt Zouma. But Mangala wants a move to England. When we first started taking interest in Mangala during his time at Standard Liege, his former agent Fabrizio Ferrari did make it clear he had hopes of making it big in the Premier League. The move to Porto was ideal, a step up from Belgium, but not so high that he'd struggle to compete. Now he's established himself as one of the best young central defenders in Europe and can count on Manchester City and Manchester United among his admirers. It was Chelsea when we first were contact, but they're now off the scene and it's emerging as a straight all-Manchester shootout. Porto are rubbing their hands with glee. City want to make a statement by outbidding United for Mangala. But after the Wayne Rooney deal, the Glazers are in no mood to back down. They've already told Moyes not to worry about cost, just give chief executive Ed Woodward his shopping list and let them do the rest.
EMYR HUWS THE LATEST WELSH WHIZ
For Welsh football, Gareth Bale drew the headlines on the weekend with his screamer for Real Madrid. A nice response to former Real GM Jorge Valdano who basically branded the former Tottenham star a sulk. But after Bale and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, Wales have another one emerging in Manchester City's midfield schemer Emyr Huws. Birmingham City boss Lee Clark can't stop talking up the 20 year-old, who has just extended his loan at St Andrew's to season's end. The Geordie is playing Huws as his prime midfield anchor and the youngster hasn't looked out of place. City ferried him away from Swansea City as a 16 year-old and if a Sky Blues breakthrough cannot be attained, it'd be no surprise to see Huws running things again in a Swans shirt in the near future.
FLAMINI, MERTESACKER PUSHING OZIL IN RIGHT DIRECTION
Forget Olivier Giroud, if you want to know where the inspiration for Arsenal's thumping of Sunderland came from, look no further than Mathieu Flamini. As Jack Wilshere admitted in the post-match, that win was built on Arsenal's rampant pressing when Sunderland were in possession. Flamini's row with Mesut Ozil during their Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich carried into training at London Colney during the week. Senior players were unhappy with the work of some, including Ozil, off the ball and made their feelings known in the lead-up to the Sunderland game. This is what Flamini has brought to Arsenal since his return. He's brought steel to their play on the pitch and winning leadership on the training ground. Per Mertesacker is similar. Just like his French teammate, Mertesacker also raged at Ozil back in December at the end of their rout at Manchester City. If the message does get through, Arsene Wenger can be pleased with the leadership group now developing inside his locker room.
EURO2016 JUST A REAL SHAME
It's a real shame what Michel Platini has done to the Euros. It has been head-and-shoulders the most intense and high quality international tournament in the game. It was the one competition worth watching from beginning to end. But Platini's expansion of Euro2016 from 16 to 24 teams is only going to give us a European version of the World Cup. More games, greater fatigue and less quality. The UEFA president claims he wants to 'rescue international football'. But it's just masking his designs on the FIFA presidency. Strengthening his support with UEFA member nations will succeed, but at the cost of the quality of the Euros.
ALLARDYCE PROVES EXPERIENCE WINS OUT
West Ham United's board can feel justified with their support of Sam Allardyce. Four wins on the bounce and the Hammers look safe again this season. In the meantime, the bottom four places are all taken by clubs which have changed managers. And just as significant, none of the managers in question have previous Premier League experience. The two big movers since the New Year have been West Ham and Tony Pulis' Crystal Palace. Is there really anything else to say?