SCOUTING REPORT: Ross Barkley - Everton/ England

Everton began their premier league campaign this week against QPR due to their postponed fixture with Tottenham last week. It didn’t turn out all that well for the toffees who lost 1 - 0 at home against newly promoted side QPR, which marked the London club’s first away victory in the premier league since 1996.

Everton have had almost no investment this summer, a fact that everyone at the club knew at the start of the transfer window. In his 10th year as Everton manager, David Moyes has to work with what he’s got. What he’s got is Ross Barkley.

Fortunately for Everton, they’ve got one of the best youth systems in England, not to mention a strong heart of the team including Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Mikel Arteta, Johnny Heitenga, Phil Neville & another talented young player in Jack Rodwell. Ross Barkley is also a product of their youth system, who at 17 has been a part of the academy since he arrived in 2005 at the age of 11

What struck me about Barkley is his presence on the ball, a term so loosely thrown around these days a lot of people have seemed to forget what it really means. Barkley never seemed phased by having the ball at his feet, in fact he was always putting himself in good positions to receive the ball which, for me is always the mark of a good young player rather than the typical standing still and waving their arms about. Barkley also showed a natural poise, and patience that is something that can be rarely taught to players, especially so young. He isn’t afraid to wait, look at his options before choosing the right pass. His head moves as fast as his feet, which is always the mark of a good player. He looks focused. Completely, unaware of the occassion, Barkley looked like he belonged out there.  He picked his passes and barely put a step out of line. In some ways, I was reminded of Wayne Rooney, the only similarity was that of a player playing well beyond his years on a big stage, completely oblivious of the occassion which allowed his talent to seep through.

With Blackburn, Aston Villa, & Wigan on the schedule in coming weeks, Barkley will likely get the chance he needs to become a regular in the toffees squad, especially with depth such an issue at Goodison Park this season. It’s looking good for the young midfielder who is only 17 and already 6’2” (178cm). One thing is for sure, if he keeps playing like this, he wont be at Everton for long. Too bad he’ll never play for Liverpool, another loss to be rued by the Anfield outlet, another one of potential praise by Manchester United. Afterall, if you’re for Everton & you hate Liverpool enough, it’s only natural to go to United. Here’s to hoping he wont, and he loves Everton enough to see them through tough times. I know I’m excited to see what game Ross Barkley has to bring in the coming weeks and months, and to see how often he can make the Goodison faithful sing.

A Tale of Two Halves - Manchester United show that Class is more than just £€$£€£

In an exciting Community Shield encounter to kick off the English Football season, Manchester United rallied from 2-0 to come back to beat Manchester City in the dying moments of the match with Nani scoring in the 93rd minute to get the win for the Red Devils. Joleon Lescott & Edin Dzeko scored late in the first half to give City a 2 - 0 lead going into the interval.

But it seems the Blues shut off after that, allowing two early second half goals from United. Chris Smalling scored from a free kick by Ashley Cole, he was completely unmarked in the area, but it was a good finish from the young striker. Nani added a second six minutes later and it looked to be all United after that with a few key saves from David de Gea.

It has to be said that de Gea looked very impressive in his first real test in the United shirt, although his positioning was partly at fault for the second goal by Dzeko, but at 20 years old, it has to be expected that things will come in time. It seems that de Gea is getting better every day & fully taking advantage of knowledgable coaching staff at Man United. I’m sure that he will be looking at the footage from this match this evening, and assessing where it went wrong for him on those two goals. De Gea showed a great reaction save against a Micah Richards header, and had great distrubution toward Nani. It looks like he will be very successful in the Premier League if he keeps learning, and training hard each week.

Manchester City learned a hard lesson today, a lesson that has plagued them the last two seasons. They have a tendency to get ahead early, put on a swagger, and forget that there’s still time left on the pitch. It must be said that City definitely let United back in the game & still seemed in a state of shock that their neighbors had come back from 2 - 0 when Nani slotted in the final goal.

David Silva looked impressive in the midfield for City, as the whole of the United 11 made a collective effort to get back in the match with an outstanding will to win that comes with putting on the shirt.

Nani, Young, Rooney, Welbeck, De Gea & Jones were fantastic, with the usual suspects getting it done as well. Sir Doctor Ferguson is definitely proud of this one, the team he put out there put up a great fight

Wesley Sneijder to Manchester City - Blue Moon Rising: Beware of High Tide

"Manchester United? Hardly. Hahaha the thought of playing for one of (if not the) greatest manager of all time. Purpostorous! I’d rather go to City. Because what they’re doing there is exciting. And they’re paying me 4x more than anyone else.”

I guess we’ve all been fooled. For months now, speculation has been that Wesley Sneijder would be moving to Old Trafford this summer. It seemed like a good fit for the sought after midfielder who may be looking for a challenge at this stage of his career. Speculation of a move to Man Utd hit a wall last week when Sir Alex claimed to know nothing about the potential move for the Oranje star. This however was taken with a grain of salt, as Sir Alex has been known in the past to send the media off the trail before swooping in for a players signature. We were all wrong it seems.

Sneijder will be one of many high profile signings at the Eithad stadium this year. With Manchester City the only club willing to pay the astronomical fee some clubs have slapped on their star players, it’s no wonder that Sneijder will be joining them from the Nerrazzuri. Part of your heart breaks a bit when you see things like this, because you know that’s it’s killing football as we know it. Chelsea was a hard enough pill to swallow, but at least you only had to deal with one of these mega clubs right? No longer. Now we have City, and soon Malaga, and with a squad bursting at the seems with talent that any club in the world would be lucky to have one or two players from we must ask ourselves: what is happening to football & what truly makes a club great?

Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Nigel de Jong, Emmanuel Adebayor, mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, Kun Aguero and oh yeah, Carlos Tevez. That’s without the likes of English players Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards, Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and you know a little Craig Bellamy (Wales) on the side. It’s nice that Roque Santa Cruz, & Wayne Bridge are hardley even mentioned. The edition of Wesley Sneijder to this mix would surely make them world beaters.

The scariest part about all of this is that City are doing things a bit differently than Chelsea. First of all, City have great supporters. And in fact, I’m happy for the Blue Moon Rising because their supporters deserve it after being in the shadow of Man Utd all these years. I don’t like the way Abu Dhabi United Group are going about it. A part of me is jealous, I mean, it’s just not fair that they can go out and literally buy whoever they want. They don’t even have to think about transfer fees or wages, they can pay them all. At least Chelsea had some sort of limit, or at least a crazy owner in Roman Abramovich to balance out their spending. But City are going about it in a different way & it’s frightening.

City are signing great footballers, not just good players. They’re signing good people, guys with beautiful football brains, passmasters, clinical finishers, staunch defenders. Not to mention they happened to get the best young goalkeeper in England who also happens to be English! It’s just mindbending. Add Sneijder to this list and I’d say they can mount a serious challenge for the Premier League & Champions League titles. I think the only thing that can take down City is what happens within, but Roberto Mancini is a manager of football & personalities & I think that’s already. I feel like City have learned from the likes of Balotelli & the issues with Tevez, the signings of Silva, Aguero, & potentially Sneijder are smart signings of smart footballers. Bringing Patrick Viera on as Football Development Executive assures that they have people who know the game & people involved in the sport itself. City have tons of money, but are spending it right. Until FIFA Fair Play comes into affect, we could be looking at City dominence for at least another decade.

Football follows global trends, global trends follow football. But with all this foreign money pumping into the game, one has to ask: is this good for the game?