Oldham Athletic – Free entry? Sadly not

Tuesday 24th January – Oldham Athletic vs Peterborough United, a game that would usually only appeal to the die-hard fans of each League One club, however this fixture was different.

The home club had decided to reach out and offer free admission to this re-arranged fixture.

It was close enough to warrant a visit – so off we went in the hope of providing positive feedback to the football community that would drive similar initiatives across the country.

The club quite rightly gained positive publicity for their gesture, appearing on Sky Sports and BBC stations as well as various social media boosts. The coverage clearly proved powerful judging by the vast numbers who arrived expecting to see a football match on a cold midweek January evening. Sadly at around 19:40 an announcement was made stating that no further entry was to be allowed.

The footfall arrived early as requested, they were encouraged to purchase programmes and make donations to the chosen charity of the night.

The official attendance was 7,224 (a whopping 6,276 short of capacity) so why were people turned away?

We at Time Added On applauded the idea of enticing new fans to Oldham Athletic but like so many others were left disappointed. Money spent on travel, parking and merchandise was ultimately for nothing on a night that promised so much due to a fantastic notion that put fans first.

We congratulate the team on the much needed 3 points and the initial idea of the free entry, however this was terribly executed.

The Latics have potentially missed out on new fans and perhaps more importantly, put people off returning to a club on the outskirts of a City including two major footballing superpowers.

Oldham Athletic have declined to comment so far.

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Gary Rowett – A Shocking Sacking!

We all know that in modern football the shelf life of a manager is a short one, a couple of bad results and you’re pleading for your job but when you do a tremendous one, you do not expect to be lining up down the Job Centre.

This is exactly what has happened to Gary Rowett at Birmingham City in the past week.

His services were deemed surplus to requirements on Wednesday and he was immediately replaced with former Chelsea man, Gianfranco Zola.

The news broke shortly after lunchtime and was met with disbelief by most, The Blues are outside of the Championship Play-Off places on goal difference and had just beaten Ipswich 2-1 the previous evening.

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Sadly Rowett’s dismissal is everything that is wrong with the game today. A club financed by foreign money, in this case Chinese backing, has decided that they want to be able to market the club.

They clearly didn’t see the Bromsgrove man as “celebrity enough”, who cares how good he actually is or has been though right!? I mean he is no lovable Italian with 35 international caps is he. Zola, however – has managerial failures on his CV, the former defender has nothing but glowing success.

Birmingham had just been beaten 8-0 by Bournemouth in 2014 when Rowett was appointed to a club 2nd bottom of The Championship, in just over 2 years and having spent just an estimated £4m he has turned them into top half challengers. Let’s remember this season has “big clubs” Newcastle and Villa for the league’s mainstays to contend with.

Rowett’s Record:-

Played – 106

Win’s – 32          Draws – 32          Losses – 32          Win % – 39.6

He leaves the club in a far more stable position in the table whilst attracting the fans that Carson Yeung reign had driven away. The fans are understandably upset by the way in which their new board has behaved but the “supporting your club regardless” mentality will take over and they will get right behind their new man Zola.

There is no doubt that Rowett will be back in the game soon and he appears to have all the right attributes to manage at the highest level, let’s hope his next club treat him with the respect he deserves. It also needs to be said that the 42 year old turned down advances from other clubs whilst in the job at St Andrews, this is where loyalty gets you, terrible.

The FA and LMA should all be stepping in and distancing themselves from assisting Birmingham City in any future endeavours whilst under the current ownership. Fit and proper owners who know, football people…definitely not!

Sorry Birmingham City fans but any football purists now want to see you lose and your new owners to be taught an expensive lesson.

2016 / 17 – Pre-Season Tips

With the start of a new league season just days away, it’s that time of the year where we’ll all be marking our coupons with the expectation of collecting a fortune come May.  Hopefully with a couple of doubles, trebles or accumulators and if you’re brave enough a Leicester City style 5000/1 price may be in reach.

Whilst we acknowledge there are still players to be transferred in or out and a LOT of money to be spent or squandered before the transfer window slams shut on 31st August, it is time to name our tips for titles, promotion and relegation for leagues North and South of the border.

We have opted to name promotion only in the English leagues and remove from the Scottish leagues as realistically who can predict the play offs!

Anyway here goes…

Premier League

Title – Man Utd                    Relegation – Hull City, Burnley & Sunderland

Mourinho’s Man Utd v Guardiola’s Man City is the title shootout for us this season. Arsenal and Chelsea have yet to meaningfully strengthen, Spurs won’t be as close again and Leicester’s win was a one off. Jose has addressed key areas were the reds were lacking and with Zlatan’s magic arriving at Old Trafford we think they’ll come out on top in the North West and in England.

It was difficult to choose a complete three for relegation this season, Hull were the only obvious choice with no manager and no money spent so far. We think Burnley will have tremendous fight under Sean Dyche but will more than likely suffer relegation with a couple of games remaining.

Third and final side in our list is Moyes’ Sunderland, we don’t feel they are good enough to stay up and that the ex-Everton manager will further damage the reputation he built at Goodison Park.

Guardiola-Mourinho-Image

Championship

Title – Newcastle Utd           Promotion – Norwich          
Relegation – Burton, Rotherham & Reading

Providing Rafa Benitez sticks around, it is extremely difficult to make an argument for any other side to win the Championship this season. They have recruited well with Gayle, Ritchie and Hanley coming in and with 52,000 cheering them on every week it should be a comfortable march to the title. Look out for Scotland International, Ritchie, for Player of the year at this level too.

We also assume an immediate return to the top flight for Alex Neil’s Norwich. The Canaries have stuck with the Scotsman who guided them to promotion and subsequent relegation, which is good to see in this day and age. He has held the squad together but could do with adding a goal scorer to ensure an easier few months.

The Championship is one of the most challenging leagues in Europe and there will be numerous teams battling it out at the bottom for survival. Our picks based on current views are Burton Albion, Rotherham and Reading.  Having watched Burton stumble towards promotion without Hasselbaink at the helm, the step up will be too much for them. Stubbs has replaced Warnock at Rotherham but his inability to guide Hibs to promotion in Scotland does not stand him in good stead for his new challenge. Reading have recruited former Man Utd man Jaap Stam as manager so you’d expect them to be watertight at the back. They just haven’t threatened in the past few seasons and perhaps they are going to be involved at the wrong end of the table this time around.

League One

Title – Charlton         Promotion – MK Dons        
Relegation – Oldham, Fleetwood & AFC Wimbledon

Continuing the Championship theme of teams bouncing straight back from relegation with Charlton Athletic & MK Dons. Last season many managers played their part in the Addicks drop, but with Russell Slade in the hot seat they will be one of the better teams in League Two. MK Dons have held onto Karl Robinson and that could be their best bit of business throughout the summer. Both sides have to be considered as Championship-level teams and will be striving to return at the 1st attempt.

Whilst we’ll all be looking forward to the hotly anticipated meetings of Wimbledon’s old and new we feel that the new boys will make a swift return to League Two. It’s been a fairytale journey for them getting to this level in double quick time, but one step too far with current with current set up in place for us. We anticipate they will be joined in the drop by serial lower half finishers Oldham and the lads from Fleetwood Town.

League Two

Title – Portsmouth          Promotion – Plymouth          
Relegation – Newport County & Morecambe

It’s about time Portsmouth started to make their way back up the leagues, the fans have saved the club at a play-off defeat last year showed they are on their way back. We fancy Paul Cook to lead them to the trophy at the 2nd time of asking.

Another team still hurting from a play-off defeat last season is Plymouth Argyle, a massive 14 players have been brought in to aid the promotion push and with former Premier League striker David Goodwillie leading the line, it’s promotion for the Pilgrims.

Dropping out of the Football League must be the most difficult thing to stomach as a fan and we’re sorry to say we see this looming for all Newport and Morecambe fans in May 2017.

Portsmouth-Plymouth-Image

Scottish Premiership

Title – Celtic                    Relegation – Hamilton

Scott Brown stoked the Old Firm fire this week by claiming that Aberdeen and not Rangers would be Celtic’s biggest challengers…We have to agree. But no matter how close Aberdeen get the trophy will once again end up in the cabinet at Parkhead. Brendan Rodgers will be looking to see out his tenure with the Hoops gathering as much silverware as possible en-route to gaining a top job back down south.

The time has come for Hamilton to gracefully depart the top flight in Scotland, year after year they serve up bottom half finishes and they look to be by far the poorest team in the division heading into the start of the campaign. We see relegation and a managerial change along the way. Kilmarnock and Dundee could also be contenders with Killie chief Lee Clark’s future looking uncertain, while at Dens – the loss of 25 Hemming’s goals would hurt any SPL side.

Scottish Championship

Title – Dundee United                    Relegation – Ayr United

Recently relegated Dundee United have swept the club clean of under-performing managers and players in the close season. Ray McKinnon now in charge and has made some shrewd additions in key areas of the park. We tip the Tangerines to pip Neil Lennon’s Hibs in what will be a closely contested title race. We’ll even throw in another cheeky prediction of Simon Murray for the league’s top scorer!

Having been promoted via the ever-so-complicated Scottish play-off system, Ayr United find themselves in a strong 2nd tier just like many others in recent seasons. Unfortunately we see them propping up the table come May.

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Scottish League One

Title – Alloa                    Relegation – Stenhousemuir  

Jack Ross has guided Alloa to 4 wins from 4 in the League Cup this season and had his side topping Group D at the expense of Raith Rovers and holders Ross County! Form expected to be carried into the league and a swift return to the Championship to be made by the Wasps.

An 9th and 8th placed finishes in the last two seasons but we are predicting an even poorer campaign this time around for Stenhousemuir.

Scottish League Two

Title – Forfar                    Relegation – Edinburgh City

Last but by no means least, Scottish League Two. Gary Bollan’s Forfar are our pick to top the division. Bollan took over from Dick Campbell last season and couldn’t quite save the Loons from the drop. Have had some positive results in pre-season and performed reasonably well in the Betfred Cup group stage.

It’s a one season deal for Edinburgh City, Having been promoted to the league structure they just don’t look capable of competing at the higher level.

All the best to your supported teams this coming season. Sorry if we’ve predicted a bad one for you but for every title win or day in the sun, there must be a heart-wrenching relegation or missed opportunity.

Guardiola & Mourinho image sourced from; www.dailymail.co.uk
Portsmouth vs. Plymouth image sourced from; news.coral.co.uk
Dundee United Image sourced from; www.bbc.co.uk

Aston Villa – What Now?

Saturday 16th April will be remembered in the history of Aston Villa Football Club for all the wrong reasons, the day that their relegation from the Premier League was officially confirmed.

A 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford finally hammered the last nail into the coffin and placed that dreaded “R” next to their name in the table.

If we are all honest it was no more than a waiting game from the turn of the year, they have played out one of the poorest season’s the top league has ever seen.

A quick overview this season’s of key events below:-

  • Key men depart in the shape of Delph & Benteke (£40.5Mil income)
  • 12 players arrive, mainly from France for a total of £52Mil
  • October sees the club sack Tim Sherwood and replace with Remi Garde
  • Remi Garde departs and is replaced by Eric Black
  • Gabby Agbonlahor put on a 2 week personal fitness programme
  • Jores Okere refuses to be involved in a match day squad as a substitute

These all make for grim reading and that is leaving out all of the media coverage surrounding Grealish, Lescott, Traore and Agbonlahor’s extremely questionable behaviour whilst not wearing the famous colours.

Aston-Villa

They nearly had a glimmer of a smile with a win at Watford, however avid Birmingham City fan Troy Deeney struck twice in the final 2 minutes to add another defeat to the already long list. It leave the club with the measly total of just 3 wins from 36 attempts.

Disarray from boardroom to touchline has left the easiest of footballing questions even easier to answer…

  • Should Remi Garde have been appointed with no PL experience?
  • Would Tim Sherwood and Ray Wilkins have done a worse job?
  • Should they have spent all their money on untested players from Ligue 1?
  • Are Hutton, Lescott, Richardson or Sinclair still good enough for this level?
  • Were Aston Villa likely to be better than a minimum of 3 other sides this season?

We’ll save you wasting any brain power, the answer is a resounding NO to all 5 questions.

But it now needs to be onwards and back upwards for The Villans. They must recruit the right manager and do it quickly.

The Championship is an unforgiving league, all those midweek trips to Rotherham, Wolves and Reading among others will take their toll.

Among the contenders mentioned are Nigel Pearson, David Moyes and Steve Bruce. To be honest we can’t see any of these being the right men for the Trinity Road Stand dugout.

Villa need something different, someone who knows the leagues and does well on a budget whilst producing results.

Simon Grayson currently at Preston North End could be a good call, a former player with multiple football league promotions on his CV.

Simon-Grayson

They need a complete squad overhaul, it’s the only way.

Get rid of all the deadwood and rebuild, if it takes 2 or 3 seasons then so be it. Aston Villa need to stop being a home for footballers that no one else wants.

A guideline would be as follows, presenting the out the door XI:-

Guzan

Hutton     Okore     Lescott     Cissokho

Sinclair     Bacuna     N’Zogbia     Richardson

Agbonlahor     Kozak

Hundreds of thousands of pounds saved per week by ridding yourselves of this useless lot, promoting youth and re-investing in solid lower league footballers.

Combine youth and solidity with the Westwood’s, Gestede’s and Richards’ you have a decent starting line up with a fighting chance at a top 6 finish.

This is potentially the most crucial period in their 141 year history.

All the best to Aston Villa and their fans, the Premier League needs sides like you albeit a strong competitive version.

Villa-Park-Fans

Aston Villa players image sourced from; www.skysports.com/astonvilla
Simon Grayson image sourced from; www.football-league.co.uk
Villa Park fans image sourced from; www.birminghammail.co.uk

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

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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?

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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