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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Aston Villa’s Bent buy will flummox O’Neill

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/

If eyebrows were raised when Aston Villa decided to spend up to 24 million pounds on striker Darren Bent then former manager Martin O’Neill’s forehead must have been pinned to his living room ceiling when the news broke on Tuesday.

The absurdity of the switch lies not in the inflated figure or Bent’s abilities on the pitch and in front of goal, but in the timing of Villa chairman Randy Lerner choosing to dig deep into his pockets.

O’Neill walked out of the Midlands club just days before the start of the season after being told transfer funds were scarce and the £18 million to be raised from the sale of James Milner to Manchester City would not be reinvested in the squad.

Just six months later, however, Villa have splashed a mammoth fee on a player who has been permanently on the fringes of the England squad while a further six million was spent last week in French midfielder Jean Makoun.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Galaxy rewarded by playing hard ball over Beckham

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So often in the past we have seen transfer deals go through simply because the player asks to leave. Clubs fear the players won't play to their full potential if their wish is denied so they cave in and take the transfer fee.

But recently, some clubs have started fighting back against player power and have been rewarded.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Is Ferguson being generous saying it’s a two horse race?

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Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has dismissed Chelsea's Premier League title hopes, but given his side's run of form he is perhaps being generous to Liverpool by saying they still have a chance.

"The title race now is going to be between ourselves and Liverpool," Ferguson wrote in the programme for the 3-0 home win over Fulham that sent the champions five points clear of Liverpool and 10 ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea.

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