England U20s – What are they up to now?

18 months on from their famous World Cup victory in South Korea the England under 20 squad members are older, wiser and should be in a better position to influence their careers as well as the aid the ambitions of the clubs to which they are contracted.

A 1-0 victory over Venezuela in the final not only gave them memories for the rest of their lives, but probably spurred their more senior counterparts to an unexpected run to the Semi Finals in Russia.

England are gaining admirers across Europe in relation to their current crop of home grown talent.

Sancho is doing it at Dortmund and Hudson-Odoi is being tracked by Bayern and its certain that many more will be subject to bids from abroad should these lads no be able to make their mark at home.

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The question is – what are the members of the winning squad up to are these days? We’ve put together an update below…

GK’s

Freddie Woodman

The Newcastle keeper is back up north. After a successful spell with Kilmarnock he is back in the Ladbrokes Premiership with Aberdeen. A promising player in a position that England won’t have trouble with for the next few years. Recipient of the Golden Glove in Korea.

Dean Henderson

Manchester United’s next hot prospect, just a question of will he ever grace the Old Trafford pitch as a red? Currently with Sheffield United and a proper crown favourite.

A loan spell with Shrewsbury saw him help them into the League One Play Off final last season and his early penalty save gave them hope before Rotherham proved too strong.

Reported to be being tracked by some of Europe’s superpowers given his fine performances.

Luke Southwood

The Reading U23 keeper who is yet to make an appearance for the Royals, is currently in the Conference Premier with Eastleigh, a short term loan arrangement.

Defenders

Jonjoe Kenny

The promising right back is one of a number of Everton players in this squad. He has broken into the first team squad and is a definite long term successor to Seamus Coleman. A plus point in the current slump for the side.

Callum Connolly

Currently with struggling Bolton in the Championship but experiences like his current one can be good for a young player. He will be back at Goodison in the summer but most likely to be put out on loan again soon after.

Fikayo Tomori

The Canadian born defender is one of what seems like 100’s out on loan from Chelsea, He is working under the guidance of Blue’s legend Frank Lampard as Derby push for promotion from the Championship. Like many others he will more than likely have to move away from Stamford Bridge to get game time.

Jake Clarke-Slater

Like Tomori a Chelsea “loanee”. Was with Sunderland at the back end of their fatefulNetflix documented campaign although he kept himself out of the limelight. He was then shipped to partner club Vitesse in the Eredivisie for this campaign and made over 20 appearances so far.

Ezri Konsa

Came to prominence at Charlton making over 70 appearances at the heart of the defence. He moved from the Valley to Brentford for a reported £2.5m last summer and has been a virtual ever present for the Bees. A move to a bigger club looks a certainty in the coming years.

Kyle Walker-Peters

The Spurs full back is a squad player at present with just a few mins under his belt. He has not been sent on loan which shows that he is required around Wembley. At a club that doesn’t look like making many signings in the coming windows so he has a chance to make his mark.

Dael Fry

The big 6’4 local lad at Middlesbrough has been used by Tony Pulis this season and will continue to be a bit part player in the coming months. A winner with England at Under 17, 20 and 21 level, impressive.

Midfielders

Lewis Cook

The skipper who hoisted the trophy aloft. He was transferred from Leeds to Bournemouth back in 2016 and is looking like a shrewd investment. His season was cut short pre-Christmas with a nasty cruciate injury, he has a long journey back.

Joshua Onomah

The Spurs man has represented England at a staggering 6 age levels. He has played over 30 games for the North London club and appears to have a future at the new White Hart Lane.Currently at Sheff Wed and under Steve Bruce he could flourish in the coming months.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

In the Arsenal squad as Emery looks to blood the youth players in various competitions. He recently received social media criticism for his performance at Huddersfield although he was played out of position. Also scored away at Anfield, although sadly it was in a heavy defeat.

Kieran Dowell

Blue through and through, a ball boy at Goodison and idolised Mikel Arteta whilst he was in the academy. Brought in by promotion-chasing Sheffield United to aid their run in towards the Premier League.

A success out at Nottingham Forest last season and looks to be a promising midfielder, needs to be utilised by Everton upon his return.

Sheyi Ojo

The winger seems to have been around for a long time with his multiple loans into the lower leagues.

Helped the currently hopeless Fulham to promotion last season. Although he could end up disappearing into the wilderness.

Ovie Ejaria

Loaned to Rangers to work under former academy coach Gerrard, but deal was cut short suddenly in December with claim he couldn’t settle. Others believe different and an attitude problem may be the true cause.

Like parent club teammate Ojo could slip away, chances at Anfield will be slim to none you’d imagine.

Forwards

Adam Armstrong

After several loans away from Newcastle, Armstrong finally has a permanent home at Blackburn Rovers. He helped them to promotion back to the Championship last season and has continued to cause defences headaches at the higher level. A good footballer.

Dominic Solanke

The Golden Ball winner of the tournament.

After 0 PL appearances for Liverpool this season Solanke signed for Bournemouth early in the January window for a heavy £19m fee, good club to be at but he could be in danger of becoming a wasted talent should he not settle somewhere soon.

Ademola Lookman

Lookman had recently signed for Everton prior to the World Cup, making a handful of appearances before the summer. Post tournament the toffees replaced Koeman with Allardyce who sanctioned a loan to RB Leipzig for Lookman. Back on Merseyside and he’s finding opportunities limited with under-fire Silva despite loud calls from the stands for his inclusion.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Figures a lot more at Goodison than Lookman, 20+ appearances this season albeit mainly from the bench. He has an eye for a goal and could turn into a decent top division forward if given the opportunity.

Harrison Chapman

England-World-Cup-Win

Like Armstrong he was sent of various loans from the North East, this time from Middlesbrough. Same home as his international teammate though having signed on at Ewood for the next 2.5yrs.

It’s a crucial time for the developing talent in England and having had success on the International stage, it is key that the feel good factor is capitalised on.

Some of these players have found chances limited in favour of foreign imports or more experienced heads.

Quite simply these young footballers need more faith placed in them, some of these clubs have ready-made talent at their disposal yet are still choosing to spend millions and looking elsewhere.

England cannot miss this opportunity.

England U20 squad image sourced from; www.premierleague.com
England U20 World Cup win image sourced from; www.en.aus.com

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Huddersfield Town – Wagner Walks

He gave them something to savour for the rest of their footballing history and now it has come to an agreed end.

David Wagner and the Huddersfield Town board have “mutually agreed” to end their near 3.5yr relationship.

In a surprise announcement on Monday evening, with the build up to Man City vs Wolves very much underway, a statement was released from the John Smiths Stadium.

Perhaps surprisingly – it was stated that a parting of ways was already on the table after the final league game in May.

Town Chairman Dean Hoyle said “After a long discussion we all felt that David staying at the club until the end of the season was best, but we’ve kept discussions open and we all now feel that the time is right to part ways.”

After their Wembley shootout out victory and subsequent PL kick off, Wagner was named Championship Manager of the Year after leading the West Yorkshire side into the top-flight and claimed the Premier League Manager of the Month award in in August 2017 after leading them to a solid 7 point start.

After the promising opening to that particular campaign – it all started to unravel and the stark reality of the task at hand, it appears it became too much for the German.

Somehow though, they managed to drag themselves to a 16th place finish.

The Terriers have just 9 league victories to their name since the end of August…2017.

Back in November they looked to have turned a corner with victories over Fulham and Wolves before a disastrous December and nasty New Year saw them lose 8 on the spin before Wagner’s last game in charge at Cardiff, a 0-0 draw.

Goals have been a serious problem, both for and against.

Whoever comes in has a serious task to even get the Yorkshire club back in contention to remain in the top division, it may make sense for the board to look further into the future and appoint someone capable of gaining promotion once again for after what is sure to be relegation.

One thing that remains after the news. David Wagner will be forever welcome in the town of Huddersfield and will be remembered for years to come after his achievements.

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David Wagner image was sourced from; www.express.co.uk/sport/football

Jadon Sancho – A BIG future

This week saw the unexpected yet deserved inclusion of Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming Uefa Nations League games against Spain and Croatia. With him being a relative unknown to many, it’s worth profiling this exciting attacking talent and detailing why he is in the Bundesliga and not the EPL.

Sancho, at the age of 17, made the brave decision to leave Premier League title favourites Manchester City last summer.

The Cityzens had offered fresh terms and had planned to take him on their pre-season tour of the USA in order to provide him with some game time.

Like many an Englishman before him Sancho decided that his future lay elsewhere after becoming worried that his 1st team involvement would be limited at The Etihad.

The soon-to-be England international joined City from Watford at the age of 14 and played regularly in 2016-17 in the under-18 league and the Uefa Youth League – as well as seven appearances in the Premier League 2, England’s reserve league.

On deadline day in August 2017 the surprise move to Borussia Dortmund came about.

Sancho was instantly given the squad number of 7, left vacant by Ousmane Dembele’s switch to Barcelona. The transfer fee a reported £8m.

The teenager was called up to the England Under-17 World Cup squad in October 2017, although Dortmund were reluctant to allow him to leave to represent his country at this level.

Sancho scored three goals in three group games – but was then recalled by the German club before the knockout stages on the understanding from all parties, including the FA that Sancho was about to be unleashed in the yellow and black.

Sancho duly made his Dortmund debut days later, as a late substitute against Eintracht Frankfurt, and also featured against Bayern Munich two weeks later.

England deservedly went on to win the Under-17 World Cup, with Sancho getting a winner’s medal.

He ended the season with one goal and four assists from 12 Bundesliga games, including seven starts.

The International Champions Cup competition, the new pre-season friendly threw together Sancho and City.

The winger impressed with his quick feet and ability to take men on as the Bundesliga side beat the Premier League champions 1-0 and this set him up for this current season firmly in manager Lucien Favre’s plans.

jadon-sancho-image

He has had a brilliant start to the 2018-19 season and has set up more goals than any player in the Bundesliga, the Londoner has set up six league goals in as many appearances.

Sancho has also added his name to a scoresheet with a strike in a 7-0 demolition of Nuremberg recently.

He has started both Champions League games this season.

He has set up a total of eight goals, including one in the German Cup against lower league Greuther Furth.

Rumour also has it, that he has had his wrist slapped for continuously nutmegging his team mates in training, perhaps the exuberance of youth but experience will teach behaviours.

Perhaps most importantly his form has been rewarded with a contract extension seeing him put pen to paper on a deal until 2022.

He could well be the future of the English national side and Man City’s loss could be a nation’s gain.

Image sourced from; www.fourfourtwo.com

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

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