Scotland vs England – European Nights

It took extra time at the end of Thursday’s 2nd leg to see EPL side Burnley finally overcome a spirited Aberdeen side at Turf Moor, however let it be said that there was no disgrace in the defeat for the side from north of the border, you could argue that they could even stake a claim for a moral victory.

With both legs finishing 1-1 it was a Jack Cork header and an Ashley Barnes penalty that sent Derek McInnes’ men home, home with their heads held extremely high.

The much maligned Scottish game has been given a further shot in the arm this week with the progression of Celtic, Rangers and Hibs in their respective ties with hope of group stages still burning.

Burnley finished 7th in the “best league in the world” last season banking an estimated £120m.

In comparison Aberdeen finished 2nd in the Scottish Premiership adding a staggering £2.5m to their bank account.

Chris Wood is Burnley’s record signing (£15m) and scored their opener in the 2nd leg. Aberdeen’s starting frontman was a £20k purchase from Carlisle this summer.

Burnley’s Starting XI cost £38.85m vs Aberdeen’s starting XI at £190k

We feel we’ve made our point but just to add further proof, If you look back at the clashes since the 1980’s you’ll probably be surprised by the numbers…

The last 5 ties between Scottish and English club sides in competitive football have all ended as stalemates.

Played 34: Scottish Wins – 7     Draws – 14     English Wins – 13

Aberdeen 0-1 Liverpool, 1980/81 European Cup first round
Liverpool 3-1 Aberdeen, 1980/81 European Cup first round
Ipswich 1-1 Aberdeen, 1981/82 UEFA Cup first round
Aberdeen 3-1 Ipswich, 1981/82 UEFA Cup first round
Nottingham Forest 0-0 Celtic, 1983/84 UEFA Cup third round
Celtic 1-2 Nottingham Forest, 1983/84 UEFA Cup third round
Manchester United 2-2 Dundee United, 1984/85 UEFA Cup third round
Dundee United 2-3 Manchester United, 1984/85 UEFA Cup third round
Rangers 2-1 Leeds, 1992/93 UEFA Champions League second round
Leeds 1-2 Rangers, 1992/93 UEFA Champions League second round
Celtic 2-2 Liverpool, 1997/98 UEFA Cup first round
Liverpool 0-0 Celtic, 1997/98 UEFA Cup first round
Celtic 1-0 Blackburn, 2002/03 UEFA Cup second round
Blackburn 0-2 Celtic, 2002/03 UEFA Cup second round
Celtic 1-1 Liverpool, 2002/03 UEFA Cup quarter-finals
Liverpool 0-2 Celtic, 2002/03 UEFA Cup quarter-finals
Rangers 0-1 Manchester United, 2003/04 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Manchester United 3-0 Rangers, 2003/04 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Manchester United 3-2 Celtic, 2006/07 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Celtic 1-0 Manchester United, 2006/07 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Manchester United 3-0 Celtic, 2008/09 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Celtic 1-1 Manchester United, 2008/09 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Celtic 0-2 Arsenal, 2009/10 UEFA Champions League play-offs
Arsenal 3-1 Celtic, 2009/10 UEFA Champions League play-offs
Manchester United 0-0 Rangers, 2010/11 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Rangers 0-1 Manchester United, 2010/11 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Hearts 0-5 Tottenham, 2011/12 UEFA Europa League play-offs
Tottenham 0-0 Hearts, 2011/12 UEFA Europa League play-offs
Hearts 0-1 Liverpool, 2012/13 UEFA Europa League play-offs
Liverpool 1-1 Hearts, 2012/13 UEFA Europa League play-offs
Celtic 3-3 Manchester City, 2016/17 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Manchester City 1-1 Celtic, 2016/17 UEFA Champions’ League group stage
Aberdeen 1-1 Burnley, 2018/19 UEFA Europa League qualifying
Burnley 1-1 Aberdeen, 2018/19 UEFA Europa League qualifying

It’s about time we put all of this “pub league” nonsense to bed, football in Scotland can provide just as much quality as the game in England. Despite all of the social media rubbish posted by clueless supporters looking for a cheap like or comment.

Money runs the game as we all know – but just try telling that to Sean Dyche who was probably wondering how he would explain a defeat to a Scottish side to the media after their recent scare.

Aberdeen, you did yourselves, your fans and your nation proud.

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England & Scotland fan image sourced from; www.mirror.co.uk

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Managers – Are the casualties being looked after?

The latest high profile manager to go, Alan Pardew has lost his job as manager at West Brom. He leaves the baggies a country mile from safety having guided them to just one solitary victory under his charge.

Rumours are that Pardew is departing with a £500k golden handshake for his “efforts” and this is not the 1st time that he, like many others, will have received a huge pay out for a performance deemed underwhelming by a board of directors.

This of course, is at the highest level and with a guaranteed opportunity at another job in a few months’ time. But what about lower down the chain?

Last week we saw the devastating news announced about former Crawley Town Manager Dermot Drummy’s death back in November 17.

An inquest has concluded that the former Chelsea youth coach had taken his own life.

Drummy, 56 had been seeking counselling for his “low mood” after parting company with the League Two side just a few months prior.

Now let’s be honest being dismissed at this level is totally different to the riches of the PL or the top end of the Championship for that matter.

Guys like Drummy have been hard working coaches, craving a shot at being a number one and just because it doesn’t work out doesn’t make them poor managers. They are dealing with a totally different set of circumstances that a lot with similar job specs will never understand.

Take a look at this extract from a local journalist following the sacking:-

“The appointment of Drummy, whose background was as a vastly experienced development coach, was an interesting one, not least in terms of the style of football he had pledged to instil.

“The early signs were promising, with the club reaching fifth place by mid-October and fans clearly appreciative of the brand of football on offer.”

A glowing reference for a man just weeks into a role and this story got us thinking, what becomes of some of the under the radar sackings lower down the divisions and what becomes of some of the managers. Just how are they looked after? As this clearly shows that Drummy slipped through the net.

A staggering 45 managers in the professional leagues in England have lost their jobs this season. A near 50% sack rate and we’re yet to reach the business end where key promotions, relegations and ultimately fates are decided.

The LMA is supposed to play a key role in looking after its members, now they do have a “Mental Health” awareness section… Let’s just inform you that it is situated in the 4th category and the 7th subject down on their list. They do however provide a managerial performance table right there on the homepage. A proper own goal from where we’re sitting!

Some other cases include that of Martin Ling and Neil Lennon both of whom have admitted to having their own personal battles, It also looks like we’ll never know just what triggered Gary Speed’s decision on that terrible day.

With all the money in the game we love, every available penny should go towards protecting the people that actually make the game what it is.

They should be rewarded for their services and utilised accordingly even if that is providing local level coaching to grass roots and their salaries are covered by governing bodies.

We don’t want to be reading more stories like the tragic one of Dermot Drummy.

RIP

Dermot-Drummy-Image

Dermot Drummy Image Sourced From; www.crawleynews24.co.uk

 

Steve Clarke – A Job Well Done!

He’s spent years being a sought-after number 2 and decided to take a gamble in stepping into the dugout up at Kilmarnock FC.

The former Scotland defender has had stints as an Assistant at clubs such as Chelsea (Under Mourinho), Newcastle (Under Gullit) and Liverpool (Under Dalglish) before embarking on managerial positions at the blue and white of both West Brom and Reading.

During his managerial reigns he guided The Baggies to their highest-ever finish of 8th in the EPL, setting club records for wins (14) and points (48) in a top flight season.

He also took Reading to their first FA Cup Semi-Final for 88 years.

After a year out of football, Clarke replaced Lee McCulloch back in October 2017 and with the club lying bottom of the table, avoiding relegation was the clear objective.

The recent 1-0 victory at Ibrox has guaranteed the Ayrshire side a place in the Scottish Premiership’s top 6 heading into the much maligned split in a couple of weeks.

As most will have limited knowledge of the Scottish game, his record against the Old Firm this season will provide an indication of just how well he’s done:-

Vs Celtic – Played 2 – Won 1 – Drawn 1

Vs Rangers – Played 3 – Won 2 – Drawn 1

Undefeated in 5 games whilst winning 3, virtually unheard of given the gulf involved.

His overall record stands as played 24, won 12 and lost just 3. An amazing turnaround in Killie’s season.

Steve-Clark-Kilmarnock-Manager

Clarke has succeeded in turning things around at Rugby Park by instilling some basics. He’s ensured that they are fitter, focused and has added quality whilst playing to his existing squad’s strengths.

On six occasions in the 19 league games under Clarke’s management, they have come from behind to earn points. That’s 10 points from losing positions. It seems Clarke has instilled a ‘play the full 90 minutes’ attitude.

They’ve also scored in every game bar two under Clarke. The last time they did not net was in November against Dundee.

Kris Boyd only had two league goals under the previous regime, 12 have been added to his league tally earning him a contract extension. He’s aided in the quest to hit the net by the increasingly impressive Jordan Jones.

Clarke’s reputation, has allowed him to make unlikely acquisitions. Youssouf Mulumbu is the standout and Aston Villa loanee, Aaron Tshibola, is also beginning to contribute.

Brendan Rodgers will quite rightly receive the majority of plaudits for what looks certain to be another domestic sweep of the 3 trophies, however it is Clarke, for us that has done the best job in Scotland’s top league this season.

Graeme Murty is currently at the helm of Rangers until the summer but it is difficult to see him carrying on at the club in his current capacity, he just isn’t a long-term solution for a club of that size.

Do not be surprised to see the Ibrox hierarchy attempt to lure Steve Clarke to be the next man to claw back Celtic’s city dominance.

Steve Clark Image Sourced From; www.kilmarnockfc.co.uk

Andy Robertson – From Amateur to Anfield

Another 3 points gained under the Anfield lights on Saturday evening and another outstanding performance from one of Liverpool’s star men.

Nope we’re not talking about Salah, Mane Mane or Bobby Firmino because it’s all about Robbo.

The left back who has made the position his own and is quite rightly receiving the plaudits he deserves.

Just 5 years ago Andy Robertson was playing for Scottish 3rd Division side Queens Park, a club in which he signed for after having been released by Celtic for being too small earlier in his career.

His move to Dundee United saw him instantly catch the eye of many north of the border. A renewed contract was agreed within just weeks of his debut and shortly followed by being awarded PFA’s “Scotland Young Player of the Year” and a subsequent place in the PFA “Scotland Team of the Year” for the 2013-14 Scottish Premiership season.

Andy-Robertson-Dundee-United-Image.jpg

All of this convinced Hull City to swoop with a near £3m bid to get their man, United accepted and the Left Back was on his way to the EPL.

3 seasons with Hull under the stewardship of former Man Utd stalwart Steve Bruce allowed him to gain what is deemed acceptable experience in England and it was Liverpool who won the race for his signature.

An absolute bargain at a reported £8m and his dream debut season is showing no signs of slowing down.

He has even earned the approval of Kop legend Stevie G. He told BT Sport: “He’s done terrifically well since coming in and the fans have taken to him. It’s not just about Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres, the top players that come, the fans love someone who gives 100 per cent.”

“He’s come in and he’s a very humble kid and gives it his all every game. To be fair to the kid. He’s been excellent.”

His lung bursting closing down run vs Man City made him a social media sensation but for those who have watched him for the past few years this was nothing out of the ordinary.

International recognition has obviously come his way and with 20 caps already under his belt, his partnership with Kieran Tierney gives The Tartan Army a strong looking left side for years to come.

He’s has never given up and has taken every chance that has come his way.

One of the signings of the 2017/18 season has undoubtedly been Liverpool’s Number 26.

Andy-Robertson-Liverpool-Image

Andy Robertson at Dundee United Image is sourced from; www.dailyrecord.co.uk
Andy Robertson at Liverpool image is sourced from; www.liverpoolfc.com

West Ham United – The Bubbles are Bursting!

They stayed in the Premier League when it was most important to, they had the new stadium on the horizon and they even had Payet….Then it all started to go horribly wrong for those once happy hammers.

Now we are left to pour over the ridiculous images that Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Burnley.

Club captain Mark Noble tackling a supporter to the ground, another invading the pitch in an attempt to impale a cleverly gained corner flag into the centre circle and all this whilst various fans decided to knock lumps out of each other.

As Chris Wood notched his late double, crowds gathered to vent their anger towards the Director’s box, objects were thrown forcing Messer’s Gold & Sullivan to head for cover. One of the photos of the weekend saw a lonely Sir Trevor Brooking seemingly facing the reality in which he was surrounded by. You just know that he felt their pain and wouldn’t have dreamt of walking away.

Noble-West-Ham-vs-Burnley

Earlier this season saw a decision made to replace an initially popular Bilic with an immediately unpopular David Moyes. His post-Everton work leaves a lot to be desired and with an initial 6 month deal on the table, it was “make or break” for both the Scot and the board of the London Stadium.

Did we also mention that the Manager has three Assistants? Alan Irive, Billy McKinlay and Stuart Pearce.

So now let’s just have a look over some of their financial dealings…

A measly £2.5m in rent for a brand new 60,000 seater stadium – however there are add on’s if they win the Champions League, FA Cup or finish in the top 5 of the division. So to sum up, a grand total of £2.5m will be paid per year! Unless they suffer relegation then it will be halved to £1.25m. Seriously, flats in the same city are sold for more!

The Hammers do not have to pay for a range of things including policing, stewarding, goalposts, corner flags, cleaners and turnstile operators. Heating and lighting costs will also be covered by the stadium Managers.

Moving onto transfers since the demolition on the good old Boleyn ground or Upton Park if you prefer and you’ll see a good level of frugality:-

Notable Players In Reported Fee Notable Players Out Reported Fee
Andre Ayew £20m James Tomkins £10m
Arthur Masuaku £6m Dimitri Payet £25m
Jose Fonte £8m Darren Randolph £5m
Robert Snodgrass £10m Ashley Fletcher £6m
Marko Arnautovic £20m Sofiane Feghouli £4m
Javier Hernandez £16m Diafra Sakho £8m
Jordan Hugill £9m Andre Ayew £20m

A net spend of just £11m?! An unacceptable figure I think most PL fans would agree, especially when you take into account the non-existent layout for the purpose built Olympic venue they now call home.

Premier League - Watford vs West Ham United

As the new terrace chant goes “so f**k off Gold & Sully, where’s our f*****g money, it’s all lies, lies, lies.”

The start of 2018 has seen a them struggle past League One Shrewsbury in the FA Cup before being dumped out by similar opposition in the form of Wigan.

League-wise, 4 defeats from the last 5 coupled with the afore mentioned Burnley defeat leave them looking over their shoulder from their current Premiership position of 16th and leaves them hovering precariously just above the dotted line.

March has been a disaster thus far and was always going to be a make or break month with 6 pointer after 6 pointer. 3 homes and just the solitary away with 90min battles against the likes of Southampton will ultimately decide their 2017/18 fate.

The recent arrival of an ageing Patrice Evra will hardly send the fans into hysteria. If the disgraced former Marseille man and Man City recruit Pablo Zabaleta start a game together, the combined age of the full backs will be 69! The likes of Salah, Sanchez and Sane will destroy them down the lines.

Can they avoid the drop? Will Moyes still be in place for the new season? Will they get the fans back on side?

So many questions and the 3 owners need to look at changing their entire philosophy or Baroness Brady may just be hearing some words to which she is all too familiar with – in the shape of “you’re fired!”

Mark Noble image is sourced from; www.talksport.com
West Ham board image is sourced from; www.indianexpress.com

Agueroooooooooo!!!

The little man from Argentina has just become Man City’s all-time record goal scorer, his recent strike vs Napoli has seen him overtake Eric Brook’s record that has stood since 1940. 178 and counting…

A previous 177 goals in just 262 appearances shows that despite all of the 100’s of millions of pounds worth of talent and many players to have walked through the door at the Etihad, he is by far and away their best ever investment.

The reported £38M paid to Atletico Madrid in 2011 has proved to be a drop in the ocean in comparison to others signed – not just by the Citizens, but by most other their Premier League competitors.

From the moment that Aguero left the bench on an August Monday night against Swansea it wasn’t difficult to see why he’d been brought to Manchester. Netting twice and setting up David Silva to volley home was a debut to announce himself to all who didn’t know of him already.

He’s helped fire the blue side of a City to 2 x league titles and 2 x league cups, should they have won more? Perhaps. But so far this season they look unstoppable so that trophy haul could be about to significantly increase.

We have seen Pep Guardiola cast doubt over whether he was the right man for him during his 1st season overseeing the light blues but the clubs No 10 has remained professional (Amsterdam taxi crash aside) and formed a deadly partnership with young pretender Gabriel Jesus.

He isn’t showing any signs of slowing down either – 33 goals in 45 appearances last season and 11 as we enter November this time around.

There is also some element of the record being smashed in the Champions League, with all due respect to Wolves, a tap in during extra time of a league cup tie just wouldn’t have felt right. He has helped turn City into one of Europe’s most feared attacking forces so a strike in the most highly regarded club competition feels a touch more fitting. He was purchased to turn the Etihad side into what they are today and he has more than repaid the fee.

Anyway putting all of this aside who can forget THAT moment that he provided us with against QPR. 93.20 a moment that will go down in football history, a moment that won a title, a moment that possibly created a footballing super power.

Aguero-Image

Sergio Aguero, a true Premier League Legend!

Image sourced from; citykicks.mcfc.co.uk

The Old Firm – A Derby Like No Other

Saturday lunchtime in Glasgow’s west end, an eagerly anticipated, highly-charged football match is about to take place…Rangers vs Celtic!

This is box office, one of the fiercest rivalries across Europe and occasions like these are to be enjoyed despite any blood and thunder talking points that may arise.

Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops dominated last season as Rangers finished a staggering 39 points behind their rivals who could only manage third place in the Premiership. Even this early stage of the new season, a victory for Glasgow’s green and white would propel them to an 8 point advantage over their nearest and dearest.

Rangers will be keen for revenge after suffering double 5-1 league defeats and domestic cup semi-final disappointments last season.

Celtic-5-Rangers-1

As always with games like this there are some key battles to be contested…

Ryan Jack vs Scott Brown will see a recent Ibrox recruit come up against the tried and tested Celtic Skipper. Brown is an underrated player and can run the game from start to finish with his unique “in your face” style. Jack will have to be at the very top of his game just to compete. No matter how the games pans out, this does have the makings of a battle.

Leigh Griffiths vs Alfredo Morelos will not be in direct competition until it comes to the scoresheets. Both have shown already this season that they know exactly where the net is. First goals in games like this often set the tone and prove crucial. Back one of these two men to provide their sides with the advantage as they test opposition defences for the remainder of the match. Morelos can score goals but his hold up play and movement also look exceptional. Griffiths has become Scotland’s talisman in recent months and with Moussa Dembele back to full fitness, he has even more reason make his mark in the big games.

Pedro Caixnha vs Brendan Rodgers whilst a contest, for us isn’t a close one. Rodgers has taken Celtic to a whole new level and his counterpart thinks his club are on a whole new level. His baffling comments about having “the best squad in Scotland” and that young substitute (Ross McCrorie) from the recent game with Partick Thistle will go onto be “one of the best centre halves in history” show that he is out of his depth at a club the size of Rangers.

Expect fireworks all over the park if recent games are anything to go by, with these 3 battles only playing a supporting role in the spectacle that is the Old Firm derby. Goals, noise and red cards are generally guaranteed and this season’s 1st meeting is likely be no different.  Who or what will create the talking point? Who will be the new El Hadji Diouf or fly into the hardest tackle causing a mass brawl? Scotland’s top and often controversial whistler Craig Thompson will have to earn his money covering the Ibrox turf.

The days of Rangers 9 in a row domination are long in the past and their fans can only dream of seeing players of the calibre of Gascoigne, Laudrup, Albertz and Van Bronckhorst pull on those blue jerseys again. They need to quickly come to terms that they are very much in the shadow of the record chasing “invincibles” that they share a city with.

56 games unbeaten and what chance is there of this astonishing run being ended this coming weekend? Slim to none in our opinion, whilst Rangers have improved with their foreign imports unfortunately for them…Celtic are arguably an even stronger side than they were last year!

Lee-Griffiths

The TV audience will be primed and ready as the game is beamed around the world – hopefully providing a further boost for the Scottish game after a recent international resurgence.

Perhaps unsurprisingly both sides have been kept apart in Thursday evening’s Betfred Cup Semi Final draw and so a potential Hampden Final is on the horizon in just a few weeks’ time. Until then we’ll have to make do with the impending high noon showdown.

Celtic vs Rangers 5-1 score image sourced from; www.thescotsman.com
Leigh Griffiths image sourced from; www.thedailyrecord.co.uk

A Super Sunday… Finally!

We spend all Summer waiting for that 1st competitive game and longing for those Sunday’s that provide quality football viewing.

Finally this weekend, after having to endure some the painful watches of Huddersfiled v Newcastle and Burnley v Palace we finally have a Sunday worthy of its Sky given “Super” title. The TV cameras will be placed at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea v Arsenal and Old Trafford for Man Utd v Everton with each game, in our opinion having potentially damning outcomes for some.

We’ll start with the 13:30 kick off, a London Derby, the Champions vs a club divided. Chelsea take on Arsenal in a week that has seen one club return to the Champions League and another taste life without. Arsenal couldn’t have wished for a tougher fixture at this time. After an opening day blip Conte’s men have reminded us all why they cannot be counted out of defending their title.

The Blues have moved swiftly to replace the sulking Costa with a deadly Alvaro Morata and with Hazard coming back to fitness they are back to last season’s title winning best. Kante has picked up where he left off and despite some negative transfer window comments, we believe that Chelsea have bought well and are an ever improving team under Conte.

Head up to North London and you’ll find an Arsenal in more disarray than ever, “Wenger in” has beaten “Wenger out” for at least the next 2 seasons and the Emirates takeover of Koln fans midweek shows just how uninterested their fans are. This could be the Gunners 3rd defeat at a stadium where they have lost the last 5 games, conceding 15 and scoring just 2.

Wenger needs to start with Lacazette and put some faith in his major Summer purchase. The rest of the side will remain as it has been for the last few seasons…the same! Arsenal are capable of a performance on their day, but for us that will not be Sunday and a victory over Bournemouth merely papered over the cracks for a week after defeats by Liverpool and Stoke.

skysports-chelsea-arsenal-alvaro-morata-alexandre-lacazette-premier-league-football_4099300

Up in the North West at 16:00, big spending Everton need a performance at the Theatre of Dreams after back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Spurs at Atalanta. The results nor performances will sit well with a board who have backed Ronald Koeman like no other Goodison boss before him. One key area they lack is up top having cashed in on Romelu Lukaku.  Whilst he may miss the occasional chance, the big Belgian is on fire for his new club. Don’t bet against a comfortable Man Utd victory with Lukaku bagging a couple against a Toffees side who are still gelling, but make no mistake they need to gel quickly to avoid an unthinkable mid to lower table finish with 10’s of millions spent.

Jose is having his 2nd season syndrome come to prominence again and you start to feel that Man Utd are becoming a force once again. Koeman’s 2nd season syndrome could end before May 2018 if he cannot find a winning formula with his purchases. A £45m purchase of Gylfi Sigurdsson will not fly under any football fans’ radar, build the team around the Icelandic international and show some signs of improvement or start flirting with European clubs before the P45 is delivered.

On a separate note…The Old Trafford return of Rooney will obviously be poignant. Love or loathe him, he deserves a rousing reception from the Stretford End for all that he did for them over the years.

skysports-manchester-united-everton-romelu-lukaku-wayne-rooney-premier-league_4099308

After Man City’s most recent demolition of a PL side, it’s over to their main title contenders to turn in equally impressive results.

Let’s hope that this particular “Super Sunday” can live up to our expectations, Happy viewing!

Morata and Lacazette image sourced from; www.skysports.com
Lukaku and Rooney image sourced from; www.skysports.com

Burnley vs. Palace – The end for De Boer?

You only have to look back to August 2016 to see that outgoing Ajax gaffer Frank De Boer was one of the most wanted men in Europe, look to the present day and immediately to Sunday 10th September 2017 and here he is staring the sack right in the face at Burnley’s Turf Moor.

Three defeats from his first three matches has seen him on the verge of being branded one of the Premier Leagues biggest managerial flops in living memory, certainly not the outcome he or Selhurst Chairman Steve Parish had in mind when he was announced just a few weeks ago.

Fresh from an ill-fated stint in charge during the recent re-branding of Inter Milan he was considered a coup for Palace, rightly so.

A glorious playing career covering some of Europe’s top clubs at the time including spells at Barca, Galatasary and Rangers (the Champions League years and not the league visits to Peterhead).

He was seemingly destined for management and was given the opportunity at his boyhood club Ajax, where 4 titles in 6 seasons propelled him into the gaze of the continent.

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It’s so bad in London that it would appear anything other than a win at Burnley this weekend will see the former defender searching for yet another job but with an even further tarnished reputation.

The players are struggling to adapt to his favoured 3-5-2 system and we can hardly be surprised. For us Palace have to be one of the strangest squads in the division. Players that on their day can be dazzling but most weeks can be frustrating…That’s right Wilfred Zaha and Jason Puncheon we’re talking about you!

Add into the starting XI a post-Newcastle Cabaye, Multi-million pound left footers of Schlupp and Van Aanholt with a backup striker of Connor Wickham and you have an expensively assembled squad of confused proportions.

The Summer transfer window reflects poorly for Palace also, a couple of centre halves and fringe loans recruited from Chelsea and Man Utd would have hardly inspired the dressing room or fans, never mind a new gaffer.

Upon his arrival he proclaimed “I have my own type of coaching and style of playing. We want to be dominant when we can, but also dominate when we don’t have the ball.” Sorry Frank but you’re at the wrong club for that so perhaps this is all just wrong place, wrong time.

Should he be given more time? For us the simple answer is yes, without a shadow of a doubt. Crystal Palace are a club that are desperate to retain their status year on year and if they wish to just simply do that then fine. Get on the blower to Big Sam and give him anything he wants to come back. If you wish to provide your fans with a bit of pride season on season then keep a flourishing manager of the calibre you currently have and look to ship out the players who look to be downing tools because they cannot adapt to a new way of thinking. Guess what lads? You are highly paid professionals and if the gaffer asks you to play wing back and keep the ball on the deck then do so or get yourself up to West Brom with Tony Pulis (maybe we’re being harsh on the baggies but you get the point.)

After Swansea beat his side 2-0, De Boer complained his players lacked courage. “We have to show some balls,” they’ll certainly have to do that at Burnley. As we are all aware Turf Moor is a challenging away ground and with a Sean Dyche team that have made a promising start to the season, it’s not high on the list of places to go for a “must win” and in front of the TV cameras will add extra pressure.

With him being the Eagles eighth manager and just seven years…Is it Crystal clear that the Dutchman will be going?

De Boer image sourced from www.goal.com

Premier League – European Nights Proving too much?

It feels like it’s been a lot longer than 4 years since Chelsea lifted the Europa League, an English sides’ last triumph in any European competition. Whilst Man Utd have a reasonable opportunity to win the same competition this season, not many could have predicted such a sharp decline in the performance of the teams from the richest league in the world under the floodlights across the continent.

Allow me to explain…

Since the 1999-2000 season there have been 64 finalists spread over The Champions League & Europa League, the top representatives by country of origin: –

  • Spain – 23
  • Portugal – 7
  • England – 14
  • Italy – 6
  • Germany – 8

Are we accepting that a little over 20% of finalists being from the “money machine” that is the Barclays Premier league is acceptable?

Of the 14 English clubs who have made it to the various finals, only 4 have prevailed, Sevilla alone have won on 5 occasions and they would not usually be mentioned in the same breath.

It is also worth remembering that even the much maligned Scottish Premiership has provided 2 finalists within the same period (Celtic 2003 & Rangers 2008).

Tottenham-vs-Gent-Image

The afore mentioned Man Utd could break the recent trend this season and lift the Europa League, however loses to Feyenoord and Fenerbache accompanied by drab draws against FC Rostov and Anderlecht would hardly see them as worthy winners.

In fact, this season has seen English Premier League sides (Spurs & Man Utd) face opposition from Belgian First Division A (KAA Gent & Anderlecht) over four legs and only produce a solitary England win…A 2-1 extra time win.

Other such failings in recent seasons have included:-

  • FA Cup winners Wigan prop up their Europa League group
  • Hull City defeated by Lokeren in the qualifying rounds
  • Everton take 5 from Dynamo Kiev
  • Southampton 1-2 Midtylland
  • Liverpool losing out to Basel in 2014-15
  • Man Utd slipping to 3rd in a group of Wolfburg, PSV & CSKA
  • And who can ignore Arsenal’s recent meetings with Bayern…

Football is football and that’s why we love the game and yes the odd surprise defeat can occur, however these are over 2 legs, or in group stages containing multiple games, EPL sides should NOT be crashing out under these circumstances.

Are Stoke better than Schalke, could Bournemouth batter Bordeaux or would we see Everton ease past Espanyol?

I think the honest answer has to be a resounding no to all of the above.

The self-proclaimed “best league in the world” is being outshone by sides from divisions on which they look down on as being not worthy of sharing their pitches.

The EPL and its member clubs need to raise the bar to a whole new level to re-assert itself as a provider of dominant club sides when competing in European competitions or risk falling further behind.

Champions-League-Group-Stage

Tottenham vs Gent image sourced from; www.fourfourtwo.com
Champion’s League group stage image sourced from; www.goal.com