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PLAY IT SHORT: Blind vs Delph; Man Utd's Galacticos policy; Welbeck not right Arsenal option; Stoke England anger

BLIND vs DELPHThey're both 24. Both left-sided. Both can play at left wing-back and in midfield. Both were entering the final year of their contract in June. And both have captained their club. So for £14 million, did Manchester United choose right in former Ajax midfielder Daley Blind - and not Fabian Delph? Perhaps the Aston Villa man's injury record works against him. But is Blind REALLY the superior talent? If he can get another 12 months of injury-free football under his belt, you fancy Villa will struggle to hang onto the former Leeds United starlet. Delph's a Champions League player. He just needs some luck with injury.

MAN UTD'S 'PAVONES & ZIDANES' TRANSFER POLICYWell, it's official. Manchester United have taken on Real Madrid's Galacticos policy - even down to Florentino Perez's famous 'Pavones and Zidanes' remark. Reacting to concerns raised by former United coaches, particularly those who worked at the coalface of youth development like Eric Harrison and Rene Meulensteen, United have discreetly reached out to favoured journalists to argue their case. They won't be ignoring the local talent, United sources insist. The tradition of the Busby Babes will live on. But the likes of Tyler Blackett and James Wilson - the Diego Pavones if you like - will be there to complement the Galacticos. And with the club's new £750 million adidas deal about to kick in, they're promising to bring in a superstar every year - just as Real president Perez has attempted to do in Madrid. If the board sticks to their promise, then the traditions of United will continue. Long time supporters will remember that first trophy winning team of Sir Alex Ferguson's, the 1990 FA Cup, was built on a buying spree of Neil Webb, Paul Ince, Mike Phelan, Danny Wallace and Gary Pallister all arriving in a matter of weeks. And from that Cup winning side, the foundations were laid for a decade-long domination.

HULL CITY HOPPINGHumberside must be hopping. It's absolutely staggering the quality of player now available to Hull City boss Steve Bruce. It will take time for it all to come together, but class is permanent - and that's what the Allam family have bought Bruce. Abel Hernandez, Michael Dawson, Momo Diame, Gaston Ramirez and, of course, Hatem Ben Arfa all came through the front door at the KC in the final days of the market. It's incredible. Perhaps we should give Assem Allam and his plans for Hull a second look. We all believe in English football's traditions. It's the bedrock of the game's success around the world. But given the commitment Allam has shown with his spending this summer, along with his family's management of North Ferriby United, this is a Premier League owner devoted to the local area. If the Tigers controversy rears it's head again this season, hopefully a calmer approach from both sides can be made and a better compromise found.

WELBECK TOO SIMILAR TO GIROUD AND SANOGOIs Danny Welbeck the answer for Arsenal? Where does the former Manchester United striker fit in Arsene Wenger's system? You can't say he's there to complement Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo. They're all the same type of centre-forward. Can Welbeck really play alongside Giroud in a first-choice Wenger line-up? We know that agents for AS Roma striker Mattia Destro were in London during the final ten days of the transfer window drumming up business. Chelsea came close, but Arsenal never bit. A partnership of Giroud and Destro, with Alexis Sanchez behind, would've been something to see. But Welbeck? He's a like-for-like for Giroud. The one Gooner who can breathe a little easier is Joel Campbell. There's no-one like the Costa Rican available to Wenger, which is perhaps why the Frenchman refused to do business with Benfica on deadline day.

ENGLAND GETTING IT RIGHT AT YOUTH LEVELEngland's coaching policy is working a treat at youth level. After the summer's U17 Euros victory under John Peacock, this past week the U18's have hammered Holland and the U20s put six past Romania. In the meantime, former Nottingham boss Sean O'Driscoll was named England U19 coach at 57 years of age. There may be groans from the luvvies who want their favourite Premier League player to be taking charge. But the FA are getting this one right. They'd be selling the nation's most talented youngsters down the river if they risked their development with a rookie coach. England are getting great results at youth level with a highly experienced coaching staff. Even new U20 coach Aidy Boothroyd, at 43, still has a decade of managerial experience and the manner of their rout of Romania had senior Three Lions staff in awe of the talent on display.

STOKE SHOULD BE ANGRY OVER ENGLAND SNUBPlenty of complaints from Stoke City fans this past week over Ryan Shawcross' England snub. Would the former Manchester United junior now be an England regular at another club? You fancy it. The fact is, for the Potters, the club's reputation has done a full 180 since Mark Hughes arrived 12 months ago. You know good things are happening at the Brit when Barcelona's football department are happy to send their young players there to work with Hughes and his backroom staff. If it's good enough for Raul Sanheli and Andoni Zubizarreta, then it should be good enough for Roy Hodgson and England. But it's not just about Shawcross. Olly Shenton made his first team debut for the Potters last week in the Capital One Cup - at 16. People inside the club, both coaches and senior players, are raving about the lad. Yet, he's never been capped by England - at any level. Stoke have a right to be upset with national team bosses.

HODGSON'S TEAM JUST NOT THAT GOODRoy Hodgson is a good football man and has had to work hard for everything he's earned in the game. He was no 'FA man' as some inside the game claim. How on earth could he be when spending the vast majority of his career enjoying success outside the country? Hodgson is the right England coach for this time in the nation's history. Simple question, who out of his current squad would get a game in Terry Venables' Euro96 XI? That is: David Seaman - Gary Neville, Gareth Southgate, Tony Adams, Stuart Pearce - Gazza, David Platt, Paul Ince, Steve McManaman - Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham. Anyone?


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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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