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Value for money?

Roy Hodgson has named his England 2012 squad squad and if anyone out there was eagerly awaiting its publication, prepare to be disappointed.

To be fair to Hodgson, given the sow’s ear of available talent with which he is expected to fashion a silk purse, there are no glaring omissions. However, the inclusion of Liverpool duo Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing, neither of whom even their staunchest admirers would concede, have set the football world alight in the recent months, has raised eyebrows.

Hodgson insists he has picked players based on their form, although the presence of John Terry does tend to undermine that assertion. Similarly, when it comes to goalscorers, there were several candidates with stronger claims for inclusion than Carroll.

Indeed, one enterprising organisation has produced a formula which enables us to determine which striker is the most cost effective in the country.

To launch its ‘Cash for Goals’ customer promotion, Currys and PC World have commissioned Opta to find out who the ‘best value’ footballers are in the Premier League based on their real ‘cash-per-goal’ value.

The analysis shows that pound-for-pound, Grant Holt, is the best value English footballer in the Premier League this season. Having scored 15 times, Holt has a calculated cost-per-goal value of just £26,667 – that’s 35 times cheaper than Wayne Rooney, who comes in at a whopping £981,481 per goal.

The report does not mention Andy Carroll, presumably because when it was conducted no one expected him to be included in Hodgson’s squad. Also, the high cost-per-goal value of 3,300,000 might just have broken the spreadsheet. Hodgson has admitted that the striker made a ‘late charge’ for selection which unfortunately, conjures up an image of a runaway bull let loose in a china shop.

Top English Premier League scorers

Player – Cost per goal – Goals
Grant Holt – £26,667 – 15
Scott Sinclair – £62,500 – 8
Nathan Dyer – £80,000 – 5
Anthony Pilkington – £250,000 – 8
Danny Graham – £291,667 – 12
Daniel Sturridge – £318,182 – 11
Victor Moses – £416,667 – 6
Bobby Zamora – £571,429 – 7
Theo Walcott – £625,000 – 8
Wayne Rooney – £981,481 – 27
Frank Lampard – £1,000,000 – 11
Peter Crouch – £1,000,000 – 10
Adam Johnson – £1,166,667 6
Jermain Defoe – £1,363,636 – 11
Darren Bent – £2,000,000 – 9
Ashley Young – £2,833,333 – 6

It’s impossible to work out Downing’s ratio as it’s mathematically meaningless to divide by zero. And meaningless, is as good a word as any to describe the Liverpool man’s contribution to the 2011-12 football season.

With Carroll included and Henderson on the standby list, there are a total of five Liverpool players in the final squad of 30 (no team has more). With Steven Gerrard named as captain, one wonders whether Hodgson, perhaps subconsciously, is trying to appease the vocal majority of Liverpool fans who questioned the wisdom of his appointment?

For England fans it promises to be a short summer; for Hodgson, a much longer inquest.

Galaxy of stars

It’s not often David Beckham enters a room and finds he’s not the most famous person it it, but the LA Galaxy midfielder was forced to play second fiddle on Tuesday when he was presented to US President Barack Obama.

President Obama welcomed the LA team to the White House to celebrate their winning of last season’s  MLS championship. During the event he took time out to gently chide the 37-year-old by describing him as a “young up-and-comer”.

“I have to say I gave David Beckham a hard time, and told him half the team could be his kids,” he said. “We’re getting old, David.”

But he conceded that the footballer was “holding up better than me” and said it was a ” a rare man who can be that tough on the field and also have his own line of underwear”. A reference to a Superbowl ad where Beckham modelled underpants for H&M.

Beckham, incidentally, has been confirmed as the man who will travel to Athens and bring the Olympic flame back to Britain on Friday. LA Galaxy are due to face CD Chivas 48 hours later, so if you see a jetlagged middle-aged man stumbling around the pitch on Sunday, rest assured: it’s not an interloper, it’s the highest paid footballer in the world. And to think, there were some people who question Beckham’s commitment to the cause.

Modest ambitions

From one icon to a football legend and the news that Alessandro Del Piero turned down a proposal from the Juventus board to retire the number 10 shirt.

In a rare display of humility from a top level professional footballer, Del Piero, according to his team-mate Andrea Pirlo, did not want to see his number withdrawn from service. 

It was, lest we forget, only a few weeks ago, that Schalke announced that they were to retire Raul’s No. 7 short after the Spaniard had spent just two season in the Bundesliga. Del Piero though, appears to value the shirt more than his own personal ambitions.

“Juventus wanted to retire the number 10 shirt now that Alessandro is leaving the club, but he asked them not to do so,” Pirlo revealed in an interview with Sky Sport Italia.

“I agree with his decision. It’s unthinkable that someone will be up to Del Piero’s legacy soon, but I am sure someone will, in the future.”

Technological breakthrough

After dragging their heels on the issue of goal line technology, FIFA have sprung into action and given permission for The GoalRef system, developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer IIS, to be used on Sunday in the Danish Superligaen game between Silkeborg IF and SonderjyskE and also next Wednesday, when FC Nordsjaelland take on AC Horsens.

GoalRef uses a chip placed in the centre of a football which will be picked up by sensors installed in the goalmouth.The system is in competition with Hawk-Eye, which relies on a series of strategically placed cameras to determine whether the ball has crossed the line. This is being tested on Wednesday evening in Southampton, in the final of the local Hampshire county’s amateur league cup.

The match referees in the three test matches will not use the technology in the event of a disupted goal. Instead, the systems will be monitored by observers.

Men behaving badly

Fortuna Dusseldor are back in the top flight of German football after a 4-3 aggregate play-off victory over Hertha Berlin.

However, the main story of the night was not so much the action on the pitch, thrilling though it was, but the errant behaviour of the fans and some of the players.

There were fireworks (literally) and after a lengthy delay to clear the pitch of flares, impatient Fortuna fans invaded the pitch in injury time, which prompted not only a 15-minute delay, but also resulted in a fight breaking out between Fortuna’s Assiani Lukimya and Hertha’s Christian Lell.

Quote of the day

“Barcelona and Real Madrid every year buy two or three players and spend a lot of money. I think for Manchester City it will be the same. We need to improve. We need to have the strength to play Champions League and Premier League.

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini eschews the virtues of self-sufficiency and promises further big spending.

Don’t try this at home

The earlier mention of Andy Carroll’s resemblance to a bull in a china shop is timely as along comes footage of Mehmet Topal, Valencia’s 26-year-old defensive midfielder, entering a ring to confront an immature bull.

He won’t be doing that again in a hurry.

Men behaving badly again

Crazy scenes on the streets of Buenos Aires yesterday as San Lorenzo coach Ricardo Caruso Lombardi became involved in a scuffle with one of his predecessors, Fabio Garcia.

During the incident, Lombardi is seen repeatedly haranguing his adversary before eventually lunging at him with a left jab, which Garcia adroitly sidestepps.

Eventually, the police arrive to separate the men, who until then had been entertaining a gaggle of onlookers with their bravado.

Dutch courage

Clarence Seedorf, one of the sport’s more articulate spokesmen, has stated that he believes corruption in football occurs, though he concedes he has no evidence to back up the assertion.

“There is a time-old kind of behaviour,” he said on the TV show Otto e Mezzo. “Old habits that must be changed. Some countries did change but others, such as Italy, still stick to the old ways.”

The veteran midfielder, who played his last game for Milan on Sunday, also called upon the authorities to change their attitudes towards supporters.

“Nothing is done in Italy in this respect,” he added. “What happened in Genoa this year is a shame. Italy must overhaul its stadiums because if I, as a supporter, must stay in a cage like an animal, then I will behave as such.”

Seedorf, who is expected to join Brazilian side Botofago this summer, argued that by removing fences in stadiums, spectator behaviour would improve.

“By so doing  people will behave differently. If you guarantee the right conditions, people will be civilized, but those who misbehave will have to be held responsible for their acts.”

Finally…

A player in Switzerland has been suspended for eight games for slapping a ball boy following a defeat earlier this month.

The suspension comes after video footage of the May 2 incident showed FC Sion’s Serey Die assaulting the boy without provocation. Die’s team had just lost the match 1-0 to Lausanne.

Swiss media reported that the 27-year-old Ivorian lashed out after becoming frustrated at the ball boy holding on to the ball during the game.

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