CITY FOCUS MUST BE ON TXIKI, SORIANO
Blame for Manchester City's doldrums in Europe needs to go higher than manager Manuel Pellegrini. The failure of football directors Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano to improve on a City spine unchanged since Roberto Mancini's departure deserves greater scrutiny. Even under Garry Cook, City were more capable of attracting matchwinners than the Spanish pair, who have really just fiddled at the margins. Vincent Kompany's absence really shone through against QPR. Eliaquim Mangala will eventually settle, but he currently looks a liability - particularly without Kompany alongside guiding him. Pellegrini is bearing the brunt from the higher ups at City for their dismal Champions League run, but as much as the Chilean is to blame, for Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the jury surely must still be out on the worthiness of Begiristain and Soriano. The pair are becoming better known for setting up satellite clubs in Melbourne and New York than delivering the world class signings City need to get beyond the Champions League group phase.
CARRICK SHOWING BLIND HOW IT'S DONE
Michael Carrick is showing Daley Blind how it's done. It was good - and timely - of Gary Neville to point out how Blind plays it safe in Manchester United's midfield. In the derby, Blind would collect possession as the centre-halves 'split' but his first action was always to play it sideways. However, when he came on at the Etihad - and from the start against Crystal Palace - Carrick showed Blind how it should be done. The Geordie's ability to pass through the lines and turn opposing defenders around is something United have failed to do this season in his absence. Once he gets on the same wavelength as Angel di Maria - and also Radamel Falcao when fit - United's football will soon improve.
ETO'O COULD BE SO MUCH MORE FOR EVERTON AND ENGLISH FOOTBALL
Samuel Eto'o has barely scratched the surface of what he can do for Everton. Roberto Martinez, the Blues manager, is already talking about the Cameroon icon staying a second season. Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith have spoken this week about what it means to be working with Eto'o, while the player, himself, had Ross Barkley floating when declaring he was among the most talented he's played with. But when it comes to Eto'o, it can go so much deeper. Through the Eto'o Foundation, scores of young players from Cameroon have been given the chance of a pro career at Barcelona (and beyond). The current Barca B team boast four Eto'o graduates. As much as it's an opportunity for Cameroon youngsters making a career for themselves, it's also a benefit to Barca getting first crack at Cameroon's brightest junior talent. The same thing could happen at Everton - if the FA and Greg Dyke got out of the way. It's a shame that offering these same opportunities within the game's richest competition will be blocked - gleefully - by UK work permit authorities.
FOFANAH ANOTHER BLUNDER FROM UK WORK PERMIT GATEKEEPPERS
Talking of UK work permits, Alusine Fofanah was given a start by new Asian champs Western Sydney Wanderers on the weekend. At 14, Fofanah was offered terms by Manchester City after stunning U18 coaching staff in trials. But, as expected, the deal collapsed over UK work permit qualifications. Fofanah's development, however, hasn't stalled and he's now playing in the first team for Asia's reigning Champions League holders at 16. Fofanah will move to Europe - and could even eventually end up in the Premier League. But thanks to the stupidity of Greg Dyke and the like-minded, it'll be achieved by millions of pounds leaving the English game to a continental club.
LES REED TAKE A BOW
Another fantastic week for Southampton. Victory over Leicester City sees Saints go clear in second place, just days after the opening of their new £40 million training complex. In the middle of the big sell-off, Saints fans were in despair over the summer. When we were alerted to Ronald Koeman's attempt for Marcos Rojo, tribalfootball.com thought it important to get this news to Saints fans to ease the panic. The deal with Sporting CP obviously didn't happen, but when hearing the quality of player the Saints board were pursuing, it was (when drilling down) clear, even amid the chaos, that those in charge were going to do right by the club and the fans. What's surprised all at St Mary's is the ease with which Koeman's new-look team has bedded down. For Ronald and Erwin, they're well ahead of schedule. If there's one man Saints fans should consider thanking for this season's progress, it has to be Les Reed. With success and praise raining down on the club, Reed has taken a back seat. But when Southampton appeared on the brink of tearing itself apart, it was Reed, at the end of last season and in the early weeks of the summer market, who fronted the media and took head on the panic coming from supporters. There's plenty of Premier League CEOs, on much more money, who would've happily ducked such responsibility.
SENSATIONAL MONTERO HUMBLED CHAMBERS
For two years, representatives for Jefferson Montero have been touting him to Premier League and Championship clubs. He was no cloak and dagger deal for Garry Monk and Swansea City. The Ecuador midfielder had been pushing to get to England since his final season on the books of Villarreal over two years ago. At 25, Montero is no rookie and Monk will have had some doubts whether a South American in his mid-twenties could adjust to Premier League demands. But since that debut at Old Trafford, when Montero created the winner against Manchester United, his form through individual games has gradually become stronger, culminating in Sunday's amazing performance against Arsenal. Calum Chambers is now a Champions League player and England international, but he was humbled by Montero at the Liberty. It was a sensational, explosive performance from the most dominant player on the pitch - which is saying something when Alexis Sanchez was buzzing around at the other end. Another triumph for Swansea and their scouting department. Oh, and that's without mentioning Modou Barrow's impact off the bench. A transfer barely mentioned beyond tribalfootball.com's pages.
DELPH THE ANSWER FOR ARSENAL
Good to see Fabian Delph mentioned as a January target for the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool. Earlier this season, we questioned whether the Aston Villa captain was better value than Manchester United midfielder Daley Blind. Delph is certainly Champions League class and whether it's Arsenal, Liverpool or elsewhere, he will improve their midfield. At Arsenal, he could be a game-changer, in the class of Alexis Sanchez. He is everything the Gunners midfield is missing. If Sami Khedira, of Real Madrid, won't climb down over his wage demands, Wenger won't lose anything from turning to Delph as the alternative.
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