Category: All Other Football Articles

ITKs and Betting odds? Could there be a link? A scam?

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Over the summers Manchester United have been linked to nearly every player who has kicked a football at a professional level (Semi Professional if you count Manucho), some of this information does get leaked and publicised, some is just made up by the media, and some is made up by what we know as ITK’s, and then copied by the media, a prominent feature and annoyance of nearly every football fan on twitter during every fucking transfer window.

So to clarify, an ITK, or an ‘In the Know’ is someone on twitter who usually claims to be a footballing agent and claims to be sharing the information they can on behalf of their clients, or they claim have sources in a club or close to a player/agent or someone related to the player. Of course, if you ever ask about these so called sources, you will always be met with the ‘ITK’ preaching about having faith in him like he’s a prophet of a major religion. However his decision to hide his sources seems to suggest he doesn’t have any at all, and that he’s just a prepubescent 15 year old kid who has finished failing his exams for the week, given their inability to spell and use punctuation properly, and finds retribution in getting the hopes up of many fans, before watching them get destroyed when the rumour is proven false.

However, I have a completely hypothetical theory, but one that could be possible, and being the kind person I am, I would like to share it with you, my good followers.

But before we get into that, I’d like to talk about betting odds. Being a Manchester United(Although this can apply to all clubs) we are linked with a ridiculous amount of players, last season we were linked with over £1billion worth of transfer fees and 200 players alone, because the media apparently have nothing better to do than lie for a living. Most of which can only predict 50/50 deals, just so they look good and reliable on the odd chance they’re right.

Recently a story came up on my timeline about Kevin Strootman, a 23 year old midfielder from PSV in the Netherlands being close to joining Manchester United. Now we have been linked with him for years now, but this particular rumour that David Moyes was given the ‘green light’ to sign him originated from a particular account called @indykaila, who does nothing better than make up bullshit rumours and contradict himself about 10 times, he’s your typical ITK. After this rumour was made up, it was picked up by several papers and media outlets, and Skybet’s odds on Strootman joining United plummeted and they were even suspended for 30 minutes.

After this happened, I saw a lot of people on my Twitter time line believe we were actually signing Strootman, despite no hard-core evidence and no ‘reliable’ sources reporting this same story. But what surprised me more than Strootmans odds plummeting was actually the people who believed it. Several times in the past odds have been suspended for players and we haven’t signed them. It happened in that tedious Wesley Sneijder transfer saga right up until his move to Galatasaray, it happened with Leighton Baines last season, with Everton’s vice chairman I believe later coming out and admitting we didn’t actually make contact for Baines. But most recently it happened with Falcao, with Guilliem Balague claiming Manchester United put a deposit down and looked set to sign the player, who has just joined AS Monaco.  How many of those players do you see in the red shirt of Manchester United? None.

This is something that will continue to happen, ITK’s won’t go away, betting companies wills suspend odds based on rumours and the media will publicise this bullshit. Even if Kevin Strootman is a likely option for United, which In my opinion I do believe he is, not even suspended betting odds mean he is signing, and the same goes for any player.

But then this is where my theory comes in. What motivation would an ITK have to make a twitter account, perhaps more than one and just make up rumours whilst being continuously in denial about his sources not actually being in existence. Well, my theory is that maybe most ITK’s work for the media outlets or betting companies. Several times we have seen a rumour made up by an ITK, even one that has 200 followers, that has ended up being spread around twitter like its breaking news, and in some cases taken on by the media. The best example of this is the rumour Phil Jones battered Wayne Rooney, a boxer when he was younger, in training for Manchester United, causing him to go to hospital with a black eye and coming out with stiches, yet when sat in the stands the following day, Rooney’s face was as perfect as it can be. But the funny thing is people actually believe it, and when people believe something is certain and they’re a betting person, why not stick a few quid on it?

This theory isn’t exactly astonishing, controversial or surprising, but perhaps possible. Could ITK’s just make up rumours so the gullible people of this world place money on It happening, which It might well do, but probably won’t.

I’m not trying to tell you what to do with your money or to abstain from betting, as we all love a good punt now and then, but what I do hope you all take away from this is a wariness of some of the rumours we hear, and how they might not be as reliable. There’s really no gain or any fun in throwing away your money on a player joining Manchester United when it’s just not going to happen. So my advice to you, my loyal followers is just to be careful where you put your money, if you’re going to place a bet, I’d suggest trying to find out the source of a rumour and see if that source is even remotely reliable, because the chance are they’re just some knobhead on twitter trying to scam your money from you, or trying to cause misery on your life.

As always, thank you, for reading. I’d appreciate any feedback and comments so I can continue to improve the content I produce as always, also feel free to share this with your friends if you agree, or share this with your friends if you think I’m talking out of my arse, should give you a few good laughs down the pub!

I know this isn’t as detailed as my previous articles, and I do apologise for that, but it’s an issue I wanted to raise. I would very much like to hear your opinions on ITKs, betting odds and my theory, are ITK’s working for betting companies and trying to steal your money? What do you think?

Feel free to follow me on twitter @NeymarsHaircut

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The harsh and ignorant criticisms of Neymar

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Every now and then a bright little talent emerges in Brazil with the potential to be one of the very best players to walk the earth. We saw it first with the likes of Pele and Garinicha, who have set a real high standard of Brazillian Football, with Pele being regarded as one of the best players of all time, and was even made a national treasure by the Brazillian Government to stop him being transferred to Europe, forcing him to stay at Santos, despite his desire to play for Manchester United or Barcelona.

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Pele is on the left and Garinicha is on the right.

Ever since the ‘Golden Era’ of Brazillian football in the 50s and 60s several more players have come along the likes of Zico and Romario to name a few. But let’s look at some modern day players who had that potential. You have the likes of the unplayable Ronaldinho or the clinical Ronaldo, who have come, succeded and broken several records whilst there at it. But just because you’re Brazillian and you can do a few tricks and score a few goals, it doesn’t mean you’re going to make it, look at the likes of Kerlon, Lulinha and Celsinho, all highly talented players who failed to live up to the hype, with Kerlon now finding himself in the Japenses first division, and the former roaming around the lower divisions of Brazil.

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Kerlon – the lost talent now playing in Japan, famed for his ‘seal dribbles’.

But a new star has emerged, and he goes by the name of Neymar Da Silva Santos Junior, but let’s just call him Neymar. Neymar, for those of you who somehow haven’t heard of this little star, who has made himself a household name without stepping foot in Europe, is a 21 year old Brazillian wonderkid, who can play as a striker, a false 9, an attacking midfielder, and more primarily for Santos and Brazil, a winger with a tendancy to cut inside. Neymar has come through the youth academy at Santos after joining them in 2003, which has led to instant comparisons to Brazil and Santos legend, Pele.

However, Neymar’s playing style is in fact more like that of Garrinicha, an idol of Neymars, which sort goes against the ‘Next Pele’ tag he has been so unfairly labelled with. Neymar isn’t the strongest player, nor the tallest, with all 5 foot 9 inches of him weighing a total of 60 kilograms. Neymar, like Garrinicha has an ourstanding dribbling ability, an explosive amount of pace, a use of trickery that just demoralises defenders and a deadly aye for goal. Neymar really is a fantastic talent, and he has everything to suggest that he could be one of the next big names in the history of Brazilian football, like Pele, Zico, Romario and Ronaldinho.

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Neymars prolific time at Santos is now at an end, a club in which he scored 40 goals in a season at the age of 18, with the club accepting a £23million pound offer from Spanish Champions Barcelona, and with Neymar accepting a 5 year deal to become their new number 11, and perhaps a much needed signing for Barcelona too. Although they are still a very good team they are nowhere near as good as the team that dominated Manchester United in the Champions League twice and Real Madrid in La Liga for several seasons.

Season Age Games Played Goals Scored
2009 Santos 17 48 14
2010 Santos 18 60 42
2011 Santos 19 47 24
2012 Santos 20 47 43
2013(Mid season)Santos 21 22 13
For Brazil (10-13) 18-21 32 20
Brazil Olympics 20 7 3
Brazil Under 20s 19 7 9
Brazil Under 17s 17 3 1

Neymars record just goes to show how prolific he really is, not only in the Brazilian League, but at an international level too.

With Alexis Sanchez not living up to the world class expectations, David Villa suffering some horrid injuries and a chance of position to become a left winger, Pedro not in his great form of the 08/10 and 10/11 seasons, Barcelona really have a gap to fill. The likes of Cuenca, Tello and particularly Deulofeu all still so young and inexperienced, with have seen Barcelona use the likes of Iniesta on the left wing, and Fabregas on the right or even as a false 9 in the absence of the main man, Lionel Messi.

Neymar offers a solution to that, although he will primarily play on the Left Wing, as he currently does for Santos and Brazil, he also offers the option to play in Messi’s position in his absence, something Cesc Fabregas, as good as he is, hasn’t done expertly. It’s another option for Barcelona, and potentially a world class option.

Barcelona have been famed for their ‘tiki-taka’ style of football something Neymar will be able to easily fit in to. Neymar is the perfect signing for Barcelona and Barcelona are the perfect club for Neymar. Especially in La-Liga, a league which isn’t a very physical league with defenders who rarely dive into tackles, allowing Neymar to play at the best of his ability, without being bullied or fouled. If Neymar liked it in Brazil, he’ll love it in Spain with the likes of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta behind him. His tendency to dive will help him fit in at Barcelona.

How Barcelona will probably line up now:

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There seems to be a sympathy for Barcelona by Brazillian players, especially after having signed some greats like Romario in 1993, and Ronaldinho in 2003. Could Neymar, signing for Barcelona in 2013, join the list of legends? Without a doubt, yes.

However Neymar, like all players hasn’t gone without criticism, some of which are deserved, but most of which are unjust and harsh by football fans who really don’t know anything about football, or they happen to be ignorant to everything other than the Premier League and El Clasico’s.

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Neymar is prone to dive, we’ve seen it before and several times, and it can hardly be denied, but several other players do it. Messi has dived along with the whole Barcelona team and the La Liga too, Ronaldo has dived a lot and even Gareth Bale is prone to take a dive, and these are some of the best players in the world. Like it or not, diving is becoming a big part of football, partially due to useless referees, and due to a lack of harsh punishment, sadly.

Neymar also has quite a big ego, he knows he is a good player, which in football is healthy to an extent, if you don’t have confidence in your abilities, you aren’t going to get anywhere, but over confidence, that is bad. Overconfidence however isn’t something Neymar seems to suffer from, he’s not like Mario Balotelli who already thinks he is the best player in the world, Neymar is always looking to over players for influence and takes them on as role models, with some notables examples of Romario, Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney and Iniesta all idolised and used by Neymar to improve his game.

After getting worked up in a Brazillian League match, Neymar swore at several players and Coach Dorival Junior, who gave Neymar an automatic one match ban, much to the dismay of the player, fans and the board. As a result of this, the Santos board fired Junior for stopping 18 year old star man Neymar from playing, claiming the coach was abusing his power and there was a break in trust. This just goes to show how vital Neymar was to Santos, but also how big his ego was.

However, the ignorance of football fans is truly amazing. With some fans believing that there are no good players outside of Europe, and if you haven’t proven yourself in Europe, then you aren’t a good player, whilst there are a minority of fans who still believe the Barclays Premier League is the ultimate litmus test for all football players, and that you are not world class until you have proven yourself on a wet and windy night in Stoke, just like Ronaldo has, and just like Lionel Messi hasn’t.  This is what I like to call Andy Townsend syndrome, if you’re talking about a player that doesn’t play in Europe, or in some cases, England, then they are automatically shit and not worth knowing. But Andy Townsend Syndrome also implies you have no basic knowledge of these players and have never actually seen them play for their clubs, which is true of most fans pretending and failling to be the next Gary Neville. Because with a severe case of Andy Townsend syndrome, a player doesn’t exist until he does something good in Europe or against your team, like Ibrahimovic when he scored four goals, including a 30 yard overhead kick and stole Joe Harts dignity against England. He was a brilliant player before, but never got the credit he deserved by a lot of British football fans until that performance.

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This is furthered by the belief that the Premier League is the most physical league on the pitch, which, is pretty much is. But not to the extent that it is being made out to be. Smaller and weaker players like David Silva, Shinij Kagawa of late, Eden Hazard, Coutinho , Juan Mata etc have all proven themselves in their time in the Premier League, and all of whom will get better, despite not being 6ft tall and 80 kilograms heavy, as is the implied specifications to perform in the Premier League.This, however is a completely stupid claim, you don’t need to have even a brain to know that Messi, who isn’t the most physical player in the world, would walk through Stoke City, whose only option to stop him would be to try and snap him, which would probably fail. It is because of this that there is the belief that Neymar is over rated and isn’t worth the risk, despite being cheaper than both Oscar and Lucas Moura. Despite the fact Neymar would probably get on fine in Europe.

You can also put your mortgage on the fact that most of the critics Neymar has, probably haven’t actually watched him play in the Brazillian League. How many people would bother to stay up to 3am Greenwich Mean Time and watched Neymar or any other Brazillian players and teams play on a shitty stream that isn’t even in English. It probably doesn’t even breach the 1% boundary. So how someone can comment on a players ability without watching him play for his club, let alone having any sort of knowledge of the Brazilian League.

Despite never having watched a Brazilian league game, people make the blind assumption that the league is full of fast attacking players and players who can’t defend for their lives, and from this they deduce that the Brazilian league is ‘crap’. This is a bit of a sterotype, though. There are some good defenders in the Brazilian league too and teams who take a more defensive approach to the game, and rather successfully too. For example you have some top defenders like Rever, Henrique, Doria Rhodolfo and Dede to name a few in the Brazilian league. All have been courted by European teams, particularly Dede of late. However he was an option avoided by most teams due to the debts Vasco De Gama have accumulated, which has blocked his current transfer to Cruzeiro leaving the player in a limbo. This would have been costlier for a European team, though. To add to the fact the Brazilian League isn’t as defensively inept as implied by some fans, the league is also statistically the 5th best league in the entire world, ahead of countries such as France, Portugal and the highly talented Eredivise, in the Netherlands.

The Brazilian season is split into two parts, you have the State Championships at the start of the season, which are like competitions in each individual province of Brazil, such as the Sao Paulo State Championship, featuring Santos, Corinthians, Sao Paulo and a host of other teams from different divisions in Brazil. After that comes the actual leagues, in what we’ll just call divisions, and not give it their proper names to avoid confusion. You’ll have Division one, Division two and Division three etc, in which teams play based on their ability and not their location. By looking at division one, you will realise there are some very good teams in there, you have Corinthians with Pato, Renato Augusto and Paulinho, you have Sao Paulo with Luis Fabiano, Jadson, Ganso and Rhodolfo, you have Atletico Mineiro, with Ronaldinho, Bernard and Rever, Santos with Neymar, Montillo and Arouca as well as several other teams with several good players. Truth is, there is in fact a lot of competition and a lot of good teams in Brazil. In total a player could end up playing nearly 60 games in the State Championships and actual Divisions alone, without the Domestic, Continental and sometimes Intercontinental cups. Not to mention how the international competitions like the World Cup and Copa America cut into the middle of the Brazilian season. So those who call the Brazilian league ‘shit’ and ‘easy’ really are just being blissfully ignorant. This is epitomised by people who think Thomas Ince is the next big thing, because he’s putting in good performances against Sheffield Wednesday and Peterborough, and yet they label Neymar as overrated despite the fact he scores against bigger opposition like Sao Paulo, Corinthians, Germany and Argentina. Because it’s not in Europe, it’s apparently not important.

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Plenty of the best players in the world have come from Brazil, defenders such as Thiago Silva and Lucio, whom are more successful of late. Brazilian Legend Ronaldo scored  34 goals in 34 games the season before moving to Europe, and several other players like Ronaldinho, legendardy Full Backs who took Europe by storm, Cafu and Roberto Carlos, as well as nearly every Brazilian player in Europe, they more than likely came from their success in Brazil, and bettered in Europe.  Lucas and Oscar have only recently joined PSG and Chelsea, and they are playing better than they did in Europe, regardless of whether statistics show it or not. Oscar, in particular for Chelsea has been a revalation, with 12 goals and 12 assists in a country that is apparently too physical for Brazilian players. With all respect to Oscar, Lucas etc, Neymar is streets ahead of them, he was in Brazil, and he will be in Europe.

As a matter of fact, the Brazilian League is improving, boosted by the high profile transfers abroad, increasing quality of football and how the country will host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. This is also shown by the amount of players who could still continue playing in Europe, opting to return to Brazil. Players like Pato and Renato Augusto for example received offers in Europe, and despite being dogged by injury prone and poor seasons at Inter Milan and Bayern Leverkusen, they did receive European offers, but opted to return home. The same goes for the likes of Jadson, Luis Fabiano, Diego Forlan, Seedorf and Ronaldinho, although older more experienced players, they still could’ve done a job in Europe and they’re still so technically gifted, even if their physicality is leaving them. Their decision to return or venture to the first time to Brazil has boosted the clubs game and European awareness of it, although not significantly. But one thing is for sure, the Brazilian league is much better and tougher today with Neymar, than it was 10 years ago, when the likes of Ronaldinho were in it.

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I do feel many fans suffer from a case of Gary Neville syndrome. Where they believe they can watch one game from another league or two international teams they don’t usually watch, and then feel they can talk as expertly as Manchester United Legend Gary Neville can, but truth is, they can’t. They don’t know as much as they think they do. So in this context, you have people talking about how shit the Brazilian League is, how nobody can defend and how Neymar is overrated, when in fact they are just basing their opinions on two international games broadcast on ITV whilst deciding to share Joey Barton’s footballing opinions, for some unknown but very stupid reason. Which is my point, people have seen Neymar play for Brazil against England and Russia. In both games Neymar was very average, but so were Brazil as a whole, they weren’t they usual selves, yet people expect Neymar to beat England, a team who gets too much unnecessary criticism from its own fans for a team ranked 7th in the world, and Russia, a team people are surprised are actually good, who are ranked 10th in the world. Every player is due a bad game, and that isn’t helped when you’re playing in an young, underperforming and inexperienced Brazil side against two highly experienced, top 10 nations in the world who see this game as a chance to show they’re actually a power in world football.

Neymar has shone at international level with Brazil, which is a hard place to perform with teams training for a short period of time, before dispersing after their games, there’s no real togetherness; but with 20 goals in 32 games he has one of the better goal ratios in the world of football, with his being 0.625 goals a game. This heavily contrast Messi’s goal ratio of 0.41 goals per game for Argentina, Ronaldo’s of 0.37 goals per game for Portugal, Rooney’s goal ratio of 0.43 goals per game for England and Gareth Bales goals per game ratio of 0.27 for Wales. So on the world scale, Neymar really cuts it. He scored on his debut at the age of 17, and then two goals on his third appearance against Scotland at 18 years old. He has also scored against Germany and Argentina twice, as well as Ecuador and the underrated Colombia, who are both top 15 ranked teams in the world, as well as scoring against the fluid Japan and Chile too. Both teams which are also underrated on the world scale. He even scored against Team GB in the Olympics. Neymar even cuts it in big games, too. Bet most didn’t know that.

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Neymar at the age of 21 was outperforming Lionel Messi, and several other players at the same age. I know the La-Liga is better than the Brazilian league, but in all honesty, it isn’t that much better. Barcelona and Real Madrid aside, there are three or four good teams, and the rest are pretty average, so Neymar obviously has it easier, but Messi would have had several players like Xavi, Iniesta, Deco, Ronaldinho etc to help him score, where as Neymar had Robinho, not to assist him, but to compete with and better him, which he did, and look how Robinho’s career career turned out. I am not saying Neymar is better than Messi as of abilities right now, because he’s not, he’s not really close, but what I am trying to say is that Neymar does in fact have the potential to be up there with the best, with the likes of Ronaldo and Messi. We cannot know how well his career will turn out until he’s reached his full potential, if he does. But as of right now, he has a bloody good chance of it.

Player Lionel Messi at 21 Neymar at 21 (Now)
Goals scored 59 156
Assists 30 77
Goals per game 0.39 0.61
Assists per game 0.2 0.2

Statistics courtesy of @Zizouology

So is Neymar overrated? Well, I’ll leave that one up to you. Personally, although I have defended Neymar, I disagree with Pele’s claims that Neymar is already better and more rounded than Messi, because that’s just ludicrous. But I do believe Neymar gets far too much criticism that he deserves, generally from people who do not really know anything about him or the country he plays in. But he certainly is a bright youngster with the ability to become one of the best in the world? Better than Messi though? I’m not so sure, it takes a lot to beat one of the players who is only further cementing himself as one of the best of all time, but it will certainly be interesting to watch Neymar develop and his new partnership with Messi at Barcelona.

And no, I didn’t write this because of my Twitter name, I wrote this because I acutally believe he is a good player, before you ask.

As always, thank you, for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article and I hope you may have learned a thing or two.

Please leave feedback in the comments or send them to me on twitter @NeymarsHaircut. It would be good to know what you think and if I could improve upon my articles.

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