Arsenal - Rijkaard: Cesc Has No Weaknesses
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Rijkaard: Cesc Has No Weaknesses

For those of you old enough to remember World Cup Italia 90 (a competition I remember fondly, yet one that gets slated as being shite...), you may remember some of the standout moments from the tournament. Like Cameroon beating Argentina, Toto Schillaci being the tournament's leading scorer, the three tenors. For the English amongst us, there were Platt's rise to prominence, Gazza's tears, Lineker's goals, another heroic penalty defeat to the Germans. For everyone, there was also the memory of Frank Rijkaard launching a mouthful of phlegm into the tightly-curled hair of German Striker Rudi Völler, where it probably remains to this day.

There is no relevance to this article, in that short tale recounted there, of course, I just thought I'd share it with you. You probably wish I hadn't :)

Well, there's a sort of relevance. I mentioned Frank Rijkaard. And of course, nowadays, he's the Barcelona manager. And he's been talking about Cesc Fabregas. Sky's website reports Rijkaard saying:

It's one player that stands out most in the football world because of his enormous talent. At his age what he is doing at Arsenal is something impressive.

It should be bared in mind that it has become the real leader Arsenal.

I do not go searching for any defects in people, but the truth is you do not encounter any [in Cesc].

Now it's no secret that Barcelona are irked over having lost Cesc, despite not having given him the chance to show what he could do, which is what Arsene was prepared to do, which is why Cesc upped sticks to join Arsene's Army. And it's no secret that they want to get him back. And it's also no secret that the way the biggest clubs in Spain conduct their transfer business is less than moral and hardly shining brightly in it's honourable purity (some would say downright illegal, tapping up players, unsettling them, thus forcing the other club's hand and forcing them to sell at a price way below the player's market value. Alas, as of yet, UEFA haven't shown they think this too, so Barcelona and Real Madrid continue to get away with this practice...).

So could this be another attempt by Barcelona to try and unsettle our young midfield gladiator? Most probably it could be. Of course, it could just be that Rijkaard was responding to a question posed by a Spanish Journalist. But we also know that the Spanish sports dailies are so tightly linked in with the big two in Spain that they conduct and do most of their dirty work for them, so that was the case, it could well be nicely choreographed anyway.

Anyway, it won't work. Cesc knows that, whilst Barça is the club he supports, Arsenal is the club that is perfect for him to play his football at. A club where he has captured the hearts and minds of all the fans, and the club where, for all the fans, he epitomises the spirit and ideology of the new youthful Arsenal that Arsene has assembled.

Cesc, of course, was rested for the midweek game in Prague, and along with Alex Hleb, he travelled to Barcelona to watch them play in the Champions League, where much was made of this. Arsene has now spoken about it, making it clear he has no concerns about the situation (as reported by TEAMtalk),

Part of the reason for omitting them was just to get them out of football.

Sometimes it is better to leave a player out of the team completely rather than putting him on to bench so he gets a mental rest for a couple of days.

And also killing two birds with one stone by responding to speculation about the possibility of Cesc being sold, and in particular, to Barcelona. When a Spanish journo travelled to Arsenal's training ground on Friday, TEAMtalk say that Arsene's response to his questions about the possible availability of Cesc were dismissive, to say the least:

This is no story, Fabregas is under contract with us. If Barcelona want to buy any player under contract then I'll give them my phone number.

But I think they have it because they just bought Thierry Henry.

No chance [on Arsene being open to an offer to Cesc].

So will they take the hint? Will they f**k. Will they continue to try and conduct their underhand operations through the press? Undoubtably. And will Cesc return to Barça one day? Quite possibly, but not for a number of years yet, and when he does, it will most probably be at a time when it is suited to and agreed upon by both Arsenal and Cesc, not when Barcelona come knocking with their evil cloak, top hat, and cane...

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

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The Journalist

Writer: Wingston Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday November 10 2007

Time: 12:27PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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He could be a better header of the ball. But hey, when you play the ball on the ground as good as The Arsenal, you don't have to be.
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10/11/2007 13:02:00

I pretty much tend to ignore the Barca ****s these days. They can say what they want, there is no point getting outraged about it, coz FIFA is going to do nothing.
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10/11/2007 13:29:00

Arsene Wenger is one funny geezer.
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10/11/2007 13:36:00

they'll get him eventually.
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10/11/2007 14:57:00

yeah they will, when hes 30 and rusty, like they got thierry :) f*** barca, f*** their fans, they play dirty and steal our star striker, go on for 2 years about how well he'll do there, every player coming out saying how it'll be an orgasmic experience to play along side him, they eventually land him, and now their fans are saying hes *****e and they dont want him anymore because he hasnt scored a hat trick in every game
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10/11/2007 15:56:00

Didn't Arsenal tap up Fabregas in the knowledge that Barca couldn't offer him a pro contract until he was 18?
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10/11/2007 16:42:00

As a matter fo fact I think they did...
Blue is the colour
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10/11/2007 18:37:00

If Arsenal had tapped Cesc up then the club would've been punished, especially as Barca haven't stopped going on about the fact he left them. I wonder why they don't keep banging on about the fact that Pique left them at the same time or maybe thats because so far he's achieved nothing. For the first 3 years after he joined Arsenal Barca kept insisting that Cesc wouldn't have even been in their B team & its exactly that attitude which made him quit them. Why else would a kid, who was playing for the club of his dreams leave to come to miserable country like England? Before anyone says for money, you can forget that theory because under the employment laws here he couldn't earn anymore than he was at Barca & even now he could earn much more at several other clubs!!
Ashburton Gooner
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10/11/2007 19:14:00

Some nice words from Rijkaard. What I don't understand is why Cesc is not starting every game for Spain, given his current form. Come to think of it, many of Arsenal's first team players are consistently overlooked by their national coaches, such as Clichy, Walcott, Flamini, and Almunia.
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10/11/2007 21:26:00

Hmm, you mean almunia should start in front of Casillas ?
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10/11/2007 21:32:00

“Sometimes I read things written by people who know nothing about me. They say I’m confused because I don’t want to go back to Arsenal, I want to come to Barcelona – but this is just rubbish. All I can say is that I’m very happy. I love Arsenal, the club, the fans, my teammates. I want to stay. If it’s for the rest of my life, all the better.” said Cesc Fabregas after his trip to Barcelona
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11/11/2007 00:26:00

Doesn't Arsenal tap of youth players? It's a fact that Arsenal scouts approached Fabregas and Merida and offered them professional contracts all without the knowledge of Barcelona, despite them being on Barca youth contracts (Under Spanish law, clubs can't offer pro. contracts to players under 18). Barcelona only found that Fabregas and Merida had joined Arsenal only after they had signed contracts. And if Barca doesn't give youth a chance how come Fabregas' former teammate Lionel Messi is in the first team, not to mention Giovanni and Bojan?? Bottom line is just because a manager of another team talks about another player, it doesn't mean he is tapping that player up. Wenger has talked about Rooney being the best English talent he'd seen previously, does that mean he is tapping Rooney up?? If Arsenal feel hard done by, why don't that take Barca to the footballing authorities, like they did with Chelsea over the A. Cole affair ? After all, Joan Laporta, Barca president has threatened to take Arsenal to FIFA over the Merida transfer.
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11/11/2007 03:20:00

zoolander - Laporta and Barca does not have a case with Merida and he knows it. Anything else he says is just empty posturing. If he wanted to take Arsenal to FIFA over Merida, he has had ample time to do so. Englishspur and BITC - nice attempt at a wind up, work harder next time.
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11/11/2007 04:02:00

"And if Barca doesn't give youth a chance how come Fabregas' former teammate Lionel Messi is in the first team, not to mention Giovanni and Bojan??" Is Cesc a vesatile winger/attacking midfielder like Messi? No. Does Messi have EU Nationality when he was 16? No. Is Giovanni dos Santos a playmaker CM like Cesc? No. Is dos Santos actually willing to leave a country where he can comfortably speak Spanish for another country where English is the common language? No. Bojan's father works for Barca...why would he leave the club??? Cesc wasn't given a chance in the first team because they had lots of CM players in there. And this season they even got Yaya Toure...So the instances you used to back up what you say was irelevant...It was still Cesc's choice to go to Arsenal. "Wenger has talked about Rooney being the best English talent he'd seen previously, does that mean he is tapping Rooney up?? " Wenger has only said it once or twice at most in a period of 4-5 years. Barca can't stop talking about Cesc for 2-3 seasons now.
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11/11/2007 04:03:00

Nice read about Cesc:
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11/11/2007 04:06:00

Not before Barca gets "unhappy, no wait, he's happy, no, he's not happy in Chelski" Drogba, kev. :)
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11/11/2007 07:21:00

EnglishSpur, here's some change, call someone who gives a damn about what you think and BITC(H) everyone know no one cares what you think.
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11/11/2007 07:23:00

On second thoughts, EnglishSpur, use that money and give it to the Save Tottenham Hotspurs foundation. Your club needs it for the mess they are in.
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11/11/2007 07:26:00

It's good Cesc went to Arsenal, otherwise he would have rot in Barca reserves. It's Barca loss, but it's nothing new to clubs where they regret letting go of a player. I'm sure Barca with all their spending power will find players (if they don't have one already in their reserves) to fill Cesc's shoes. Just don't go after Cesc, you already got your Henry.
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11/11/2007 07:33:00

BMF, touchy touchy ... I think the issue with Merida, was his agent rather than Arsenal. However his agent did offer Merida to several clubs. I see that clubs are trying to present a united front in stopping players buying out the last year of their contract so its a pity Arsenal didn't show similar solidarity in the face of a scummy agent. As Barca were awarded €2.1m against Merida, they obviously felt someone was at fault.
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11/11/2007 08:58:00

Regarding Fabregas, correct me if I am wrong but didn't he get his opportunity due to an injury to Vieria followed by injuries to Edu, and Gilberto? Whilst credit goes to Wenger for not moving a player out of position and going with youth, it was a fluke he had a chance so early. In many ways it does show his state of mind ... he said he wasn't sure of his ability to get into the 1st team and nor did has family - doesn't this show a lack of faith in your own ability?
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11/11/2007 09:02:00

English Spur you talk *****, even if we didn't have those injuries, Arsene would give Cesc a chance to prove himself. that's why he drafted a 17 year old kid into the first team. he is a special talent that's why he got his chance so early..
Report Abuse
11/11/2007 09:19:00

For somebody who is so young he now looks the complete midfielder. He was missing one thing beofre the start of the season and that was goals. He certainly making up for it now!!
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11/11/2007 10:18:00

EnglishSpur - you seem so interested in the matters of Arsenal FC, I think you need to come out of the Arsenal closet and state that you have secretly been a fan all along but haven't had the courage to come out. We won't mind, we will accept you, so don't feel shy.
Report Abuse
11/11/2007 10:35:00

Bloody hell, did anyone notice Paolo Vernazza playing for Weymouth in FA Cup on Motd yesterday?! He was highly rated back in 2000 lol.
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11/11/2007 10:53:00

BMF, they can feel free to make an offer for him, and hopefully take him.
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11/11/2007 11:08:00

The courts only found against Merida because he didn't honour his contract. He went missing for approx 6 months prior to joining Arsenal. In that time his agent set him up several trials at top clubs Arsenal & Liverpool were just two of them. I don't believe for a second that Arsenal would help his agent in any way, shape or form. Diaz is also Cesc's agent & he does nothing but try & get him big money moves back to spain & no doubt should Merida ever make it, he will be exactly the same with him!!
Ashburton Gooner
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11/11/2007 12:11:00

I don't think that Merida had a formal contract to honour which was the problem for Barca. The finding of the Spanish Court was on the basis that Merida is obliged to pay for his education at Barca - that there was an understanding in principle if not in contract. This has gone to appeal so the ruling is not final yet. In the meantime any young player of promise signing for a Spanish Club would need to be careful about the terms they commit to so the ruling may not favour them in the longer term. Spain needs to revisit its employment laws if they are to avoid such problems in future.
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11/11/2007 13:31:00

Gooner_vin, be under no mistake, the contempt I have for Arsenal as a club reaches bottomless depths - I shall avoid using the sort of language that would result in a load of **** and a possible warning from Vitalfootball, but the expression absolute **** comes to mind. I'm sure you're a personally reasonable chap, but I have yet to meet one Arsenal supporter in person who is. The second most important thing on every weekend after a Spurs victory (few and far between at the mo) is an Arsenal loss. Any team in England beating you lot is great, any team in Europe beating you is great as but for a quirk of geography I don't even consider you an English team.
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11/11/2007 14:22:00

It's not possible to reach a bottomless depth ES - if you could it wouldn't be bottomless. As for not meeting a decent Arsenal supporter you may do when they let you out into the community a little more often.
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11/11/2007 15:21:00

Amos, I believe Merida had agreed a development contract with Barcelona & thats why he was told to pay up. If it was just about his educational costs etc I'm sure Barca would've gone after Cesc as well (probably also Pique).
Ashburton Gooner
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11/11/2007 18:00:00

Wouldn't this have been the same sort of standard form 'contract' that Cesc and Pique had though? I must confess I am not sure of the differences between these cases. Some money changed hands in respective of Cesc so presumably some agreement was reached that wasn't achieved with Merida.
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11/11/2007 18:08:00

and btw i didn't like Cesc and Alex going to spain to watch barca on the same night when we were playing. they should be at home watching their team-mates play and see what the other squad members are made of and how they can play without the big guns, instead of going to spain to watch some spanish team play, just think it's not right..
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11/11/2007 18:10:00

Amos, I think the problem with Merida was that Barca had not signed this educational contract (or the amateur contract that U-16 kids can sign in Spain, not a professional contract). It was signed by Merida's parents but it was unsigned by Laporta for close to a year or more. I suppose the court ruled on the principle, rather than any contractual obligation.
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11/11/2007 21:27:00

Surely, you are kidding, kev. Drogba is easily your best striker, epspcially with Sheva not reaching his best when he was with Milan and both Pizarro and Kalou not up to Drogba's level. I know what goes inside his mind is unpredictable but with the goals he scored last season, surely you don't want to leave so easily.
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11/11/2007 23:45:00

EnglishSpur, you have got to stop having such a hard on for Arsenal. It's not very flattering. Don't you want to talk about your club's win against Wigan (and you should, since a win is as rare as they come for you this season) and also, talk about how that win will start a winning streak for your club to reach the top 4?
Report Abuse
11/11/2007 23:50:00

On second thoughts, looking at spurs next match against West Ham that will stop spurs getting a winning streak. LOL.
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11/11/2007 23:53:00

Reading EnglishSpur's comments, you just got to laugh. This is where Arsenal and spurs fans are different. Arsenal fans are more concern with winning trophies and making it into the CL. While, spud fans main concern is looking to beat Arsenal, even though it hasn't happened in years. That's why spuds are always going to be in the shadow of Arsenal. Btw, ES, I met some decent spud fans, just as they are decent Arsenal fans. You need to go out and stop being a hermit.
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12/11/2007 00:08:00

BMF hahahaha, but there's nothing wrong with thinking about beating your local rivals.
will it ever happen
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12/11/2007 13:25:00

Amos, FYI. depth is an expression of measurement. As bottomless can be a depth to infinity - it is still a valid expression as depth is not an absolute. I think that a large part of the Merida fine was because of the duplicity of the agents actions. With Fabregas, he publically left and Barca got some compensation. With Merida, his agent hid him away depriving Barcelona the right to compete to sign and deliberately ensuring Barcelona didn't get any compensation. So part of the sum awarded was punitive. Interesting Barca are apparently going after another player who did something similar joining Liverpool.
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12/11/2007 13:44:00

Thanks for the info but even you don't understand what you are saying much of the time ES/Gromit/Kernowboy/Sir Harry. Yes depth is a measurement and yes bottomless is a depth to infinity but you still can't reach it which was what you said. If it wasn't bottomless then you could reach it of course. Barca reached an agreement following the departure of Cesc and more money changed hands than was originally acknowledged. As for Merida, I think that Barca were holding out for more than Arsenal considered appropriate given the legal status between Barca and Merida. Barca, understandably, wanted to test their case on a point of employment law in the Spanish court. Merida wasn't fined but ordered to pay damages under civil law to Barca. This case has gone to appeal and has yet to be resolved. This is a case of a weakness in Spanish law and not anything that Arsenal or Merida have done wrong. Whether ultimately it complicates Barcas relationship with youth players remains to be seen. It should be remembered that it isn't all bad news for Spanish football employers. The laws work to their advantage in many cases which is why Arsenal have had to park Carlos Vela in Spain for a couple of years before bringing him to the UK and why English clubs were unable to bring Lionel Messi in.
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12/11/2007 15:34:00

"So part of the sum awarded was punitive. " Did you get this from the judgment ? Media reports said that Merida had to compensate Barca. So unless you have read the courts judgement in Spanish, I'm curious to find out how you reached this conclusion.
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12/11/2007 17:37:00

will it ever happen, sure, there's nothing wrong with beating your local rival but this obsession from some rabid spud fans is unhealthy. They should focus more realistic goals like winning game in the UEFA Cup against Grasshopper club or someting.
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12/11/2007 23:31:00

BMF - I think for 7 years as a schoolboy €3.2m is very high so there must be some sort of punitive charge to try to prevent this action. My understanding of the difference between Merida and Fabregas is that the former was spirited away by his agent before he signed his amateur contract and offered to range of other clubs making the agent Joseba Diaz a nice little commission. The ruling, translated said that Merida was 'failing to meet the terms of a personal pre-contract' - i.e. the obligations he owed the club for his educaton etc. Merida and his agent are clearly at fault here. Arsenal may regret dealing with a very dodgy agent. The comments about Lionel Messi are wrong. Barca actually signed him at 11, as they were the only team who would pay for his medical treatment - growth hormone replacement - it had nothing to do whether he was eligible to play in England or not. Barca could a cheap chance and have been rewarded.
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13/11/2007 13:42:00

ES/Gromit/kernowboy/Sir Harry. There isn't a punitive element in the award simply damages in a civil court. The amount is that which the court estimates is the cost of education and the value that Barca would have developed in Merida. Frankly I don't know whether the level of the award is above or below what Arsenal would have settled directly with Barca, it doesn't sound prohibitive, but it is as well now to have it established in law, when the case is ultimately concluded, so that clubs, agents and players are aware of what is involved should they seek a move. As for Messi, irrespective of what bills Barca were prepared to pay, UK employment laws doesn't allow UK Clubs to recruit him as a youth player in the same way that Pique, Cesc and Merida were. When Wenger was asked in the summer what qualities would be most important in a Director of Football he replied - 'expert in international employment law'. That is the world that big clubs operate in nowadays.
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13/11/2007 15:22:00

Oh dear Amos, I see you are still recanting that drivel ... however I find it hard to believe that Merida's education costs for 7 years amounted to €450,000 per year. If it was to repay his costs then it would be at the real value of his education. As he had no signed an amateur contract, he wasn't technically a Barca player so any award over and above the real costs of his education have been arived at to have a detrimental value for future conduct ... ie. punitive.
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13/11/2007 19:43:00

ES/Gromit/Kernowboy/Sir Harry. Still tilting at windmills I see. You are arguing about nothing. Its a civil court. Civil courts are not in the business of issuing fines or punishing plaintiff or defendant. Simply assessing claim and counter claim, liability in civil law and assessing damages and costs as appropriate. It isn't just about the cost of education it is about the value of Barcas contribution to Meridas development and value as a professional player. It's not that hard really.
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13/11/2007 21:36:00

Of course they are .... you have civil and criminal courts - the ruling against OJ Simpson was in a civil court with civil proceedings and they awarded punitive damages. In Merida's case, there is a fine for his education costs and contribution, and then additional fines as his agent knew that the conduct was unethical. A civil court doesn't deal with future value of a football player; that is the preserve of a football tribunal only.
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13/11/2007 22:46:00

ES/Gromit/Kernowboy/Sir Harry. The court just awards damages and costs. They don't decide whether they are punitive or not only whether the damages are justified in the context of the claim, costs and losses incurred. There is no punishment in civil law other than losing the case and paying any damages assessed by the court. This is descending into semantics which is a route I have travelled with you before. As it must be pretty boring for anyone else trying to make sense of it I'll leave it there.
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13/11/2007 23:34:00

Gaurentted for player of the year award I reckon. Dont they vote for it ridiculously early like January or something?
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16/11/2007 14:25:00


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