Zlatan – Coming to a ground near you?

Sunday 13th March 2016, the day that PSG clinched the Ligue1 Championship for a 4th successive season, also the day the Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirmed that he will be moving on from the French Capital after a 4 year stay. The title win was his 10th trophy at Parc des Princes since his unveiling in July 2012.

The official quote of “for the moment, I will not be at PSG next season. I still have a month and a half left here” will have set chairmen all over Europe searching for enough room in their budgets for the Sweden captain. He did however go on to say “if they replace the Eiffel Tower with a statue of me, then I will stay.” With all the ego in the world, I’m sure he was being serious too!

Zlatan-Eiffel-Tower

He has competed at the top level in Sweden, Holland, Italy, Spain and France. He can state Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter & AC Milan, Barcelona and PSG as his club sides. Add into this his 111 Sweden caps, 27 trophies and you have 1 illustrious career.

So, the key question…Where is he going to be playing his football next season?

There are 4 possible destinations but the obvious and most exciting one would be the English Premier League. You can’t see Bayern or Dortmund requiring his services so that rules out Germany and we feel it far too soon in his career for moves to the MLS or China.

The Premier League for all of its merits does lack some genuine world class players and all of the top clubs will be scrambling for Ibrahimovic. His 102 goals in 115 games in Paris prove he still has what it takes, including 2 against Chelsea in the recent Champions League tie for anyone that questions France as a weaker league.

With the man being available on a free transfer, the high wages that the man himself will command will be acceptable due to the lack of transfer fee.

The usual suspects will be linked and you’ll struggle to create a compelling argument as to which side he wouldn’t improve. Given the way this season has gone domestically there will be 1 or 2 surprise destinations mentioned.

How about West Ham? London living, new Olympic stadium and European football ticks all the boxes Ibrahimovic and Payet certainly creates excitement.

Champions Laegue - "Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven"

Taking a sensible look at it however it has to be… Manchester United.

They need a striker, someone who can take an amount of pressure from Rooney as the main man. Perhaps more importantly he can act as a tutor to Martial and Rashford. He would instantly be a cult hero and could provide a low risk big name signing for the expected new manager in charge at Old Trafford.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is made for the Theatre Of Dreams.

We hope to see the mercurial talent on Match Of The Day soon, just not being judged by the likes of Jason Roberts or John Hartson!

Zlatan Eiffel Tower Image sourced from; www.mirror.co.uk/sport
Zlatan Manchester United Image sourced from; www.thedailymail.co.uk/sport/football

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Sheffield United – A Decade Full of Turmoil

What can we say about The Blades…

Sheffield United must be one of the most frustrating teams in English football. Currently plying their trade in SkyBet League 1, sitting in 11th place. Played 36 (Won 14, Drawn 10, Lost 12 – Scored 52, conceded 47), a record that is not suitable for a club of their size in that division.

Wind the clock back to season 2006-07 and you’ll find Neil Warnock’s men playing Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal instead of Port Vale, Bury and Fleetwood (no offence to these clubs). United suffered heartbreaking relegation on the final day with a defeat against Wigan which included a goal against them by former player David Unsworth from the penalty spot. Warnock resigned days after the drop was confirmed.

It wasn’t however, this game or Warnock’s departure that would ultimately define the Yorkshire club’s football being played at a lower level the following season. West Ham United’s questionable signings of Tevez and Mascherano saved the Hammers. 2 years after the event, a deal was struck that enabled Sheff Utd to receive £18.1M for the part played by the Argentine pair at Upton Park.

Tevez-at-West-Ham

Fast forward through the next 4 Championship seasons and you’ll see 2 middle of the road finishes the play-off final defeat and finally the relegation to the 3rd tier of English Football for the 1st time since the 1989-90 campaign.

Speed up to current times and you’ll see that they are among the favourites for promotion from SkyBet League One year after year and rightly so. Big crowds, well known managers and a relatively expensive squad for the level at which they ply their trade makes them strong candidates each year.

As previously mentioned they are currently ranked 55 of 92 in England, but just what has happened in the short space of 10 years that has left the club where they are right now…

1) They are on their 8th manager since Warnock!
Bryan Robson, Gary Speed, Micky Adams, David Weir all in charge for less than 40 matches
Kevin Blackwell, Danny Wilson and Nigel Clough all managed around 100, with former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins currently at the helm. All known names with different ideas would cause confusion at any club.

2) Ched Evans
He was their main man, 35 goals in all comps just before he was convicted of rape. The Blades acted correctly in terminating Evans’ contract. 2014 rolled around and they held talks about re-signing the Welshman , 150,000 people signed a petition urging the club not to do so. Terrible publicity and uncertainty around the club was created.

3) Player Turnover
Much like the managerial situation, United have chopped and changed too often. Extreme amounts of loans both in and out contribute to the numbers below. 9 seasons have seen:-
Incomings – 117
Outgoings – 182

Jose-Baxter.jpg

4) Jose Baxter
The attacking midfielder is still employed at Bramall Lane despite currently being suspended for a 2nd time in 9 months. May 2015 saw an FA ban for failing a drugs test, we are currently awaiting a reason for the February 2016 suspension.

5) Sheff Wed 2011-12
Only 1 season within the decade however…
Losing out on the automatic promotion place to their fiercest rivals Wednesday will have hurt the club. Whilst they managed to pick themselves up and make the play off final an 8-7 penalty defeat to Huddersfield consigned them to a further stay in League 2 whilst Wednesday are now challenging for play-off places and a place in the Premier League. As the Wednesday fans like to sing “Mind the gap, Mind the gap Sheff United”

The Blades are a big club that are in a league they should not be in based on club stature, however are there deserving of how they have been run and how they perform on the pitch.

Adkins has not had the desired effect since he took the position in June 15 and it appears that a late end of season play off push is beyond them. He is a manager with a proven record at this level and with a 3 year deal signed, I hope they stick with their most recent choice.

The city of Sheffield needs 2 strong football teams, it currently has 1. How long before the 2nd will rise to the challenge?

Bramall_Lane_GAC_Stand

Tevez image sourced from; www.thedailymail.co.uk/sport/football
Jose Baxter image sourced from; www.thedailymail.co.uk/sport
Bramall Lane image sourced from; www.commons.wikipedia.org

The Europa League just got Interesting!

Last week saw the draw for the last 16 of the Europa League and what a draw it was!

Europa-League-Draw

Of the remaining 16 teams, 3 have won European Cup / Champions League with 5 having contested finals.

With the Europa now offering a coveted place in the top competition it is more than worth winning.

Thursday’s look like they are about to provide a spectacle worthy of Europe’s 2nd competition. For too long the we have mostly ignored Coupe UEFA for a reason we actually can’t answer.

Perhaps the competition is too long? Maybe we don’t understand the 18:00 kick off times? You could argue there are too many teams we don’t know? Or are just blinded by the glamour of the Champions League?

We are looking at Liverpool v Man United for the 1st time in a non-domestic meeting. 180 minutes of packed European nights at 2 of the most iconic stadiums in world football. One of the most intense rivalries brought together on a stage we wouldn’t expect.

Throw in the bonus element of small travel time and a St Patrick’s day 2nd leg at Old Trafford, the Guinness will be flowing in the North West that’s for sure.

Add in high flying Tottenham v Borussia Dortmund, an all Spanish clash of Athletic Bilbao v Valencia and Sevilla going for a 3rd successive title…you have one hell of a competition remaining!

Realistically of the remaining sides who could honestly say they don’t want, or in some cases need, to win this trophy.

Which fan wouldn’t want to travel to a European final ?

Sevilla

We will be tuned into the latter stages with a keen eye on the outcomes of the afore mentioned ties.

Put aside the “Thursday – Sunday” debate and embrace it as an additional midweek game to watch.

So let’s all take a positive outlook into the remaining games, after all who knows…Mr Guardiola may just be strutting his stuff here next season if recent form continues.

Europa League draw image sourced from; http://www.uefa.com
Sevilla Europa Cup winners image sourced from; http://worldsoccertalk.com