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Woods, Michael


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Michael Woods

Written by Jimboola69 and last updated July 2008

If there is one thing that riles football fans it is the injustice of being judged differently to others, for essentially doing the same thing. A case in point is Chelsea and Michael Woods. Having reached the age where he could sign scholar’s terms at Leeds United where he had been for some years as a junior, Woods and fellow junior Tom Taiwo both decided that they would instead listen to the overtures of Chelsea and subsequently signed for the Blues in 2006.

[[fimg]=left]http://www.theshedend.com/fansite/images/Current_Squad/Michael_Woods/woods%20and%20lampard%20in%20training.jpg[/[fimg]]

Former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, now at the helm with Leeds accused Chelsea of ‘tapping up’ the players and in his usual understated style appeared in and on all media that he could find demanding that Chelsea be fined, docked points, be beaten with sticks (probably) etc etc. Some in the media assumed Bates was doing this more in order to gain a big cash settlement in order to help bail out the cash-strapped Yorkshire team, although largely there was an outcry from the tabloid press directed at Chelsea.

What has annoyed many Chelsea fans however is that these same tabloid journalists hail Arsene Wenger as a ‘genius’ and ‘talent spotter extraordinaire’ for his cut price signings which have all the hallmarks of being the same thing. Among these are Nicolas Anelka picked up for £500,000 from the PSG youth team before he had signed full terms and sold for £21m a few years later. Or Cesc Fabregas signed similarly from the Barcelona youth side for £350,000 now worth the thick end of £20m. It should be remembered that eventually Barcelona only dropped their objections due to the difficulties of pursuing the case through UEFA and two national bodies. It does seem odd though that when Woods is signed before a full contract at Leeds or Sinclair is signed in similar fashion from Bristol Rovers suddenly it all about ‘arrogant Chelsea thinking that transfer rules do not apply to them’. But Arsene or Sir Alex is a genius. I suppose that if you get away with it you are a genius. After all Ryan Giggs was once a Manchester City player but signed for United rather than sign full forms for City.

[[fimg]=left]http://www.theshedend.com/fansite/images/Current_Squad/m%20woods%20chelsea%20debut.gif[/[fimg]]

Controversy aside the Chelsea scouts had been looking at Woods for over a year and this England U-17 international midfield dynamo has been praised by Jose Mourinho as ‘one for the future’ since his signing. Indeed Jose has already shown great faith in the youngster, taking him to, and playing him in, a pre-season friendly at PSV Eindhoven, where he showed great quality and work rate. This was followed in January 2007 with his first team debut, coming off the bench in the FA Cup tie against Macclesfield Town for no less a player than vice-Captain and Chelsea legend Frank Lampard. This at the tender age of 16 years and 275 days old made him the fourth-youngest player to ever play for Chelsea.

Michael Woods was born 6 April 1990 in York and has a broad Yorkshire accent of the Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff type. Style wise Woods has been likened to Paul Scholes, Gordon Strachan and Chelsea’s own Frank Lampard and Michael Essien. The first two may owe more to a ‘ginger hair’ connection but all four are all-action and hard-working midfielders, something that are always a premium in the Premiership.

In the 2007/08 season Woods was part of the much praised Chelsea youth team that reached the Youth Cup final, and was also a regular in the reserves. Internationally Woods progressed from the England U-17 team to the U-18 squad and is knocking on the door for higher honours.

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