James Coppinger – 15yrs a Donny Rover

“I left school at 16 and I never wanted to be a professional footballer. It wasn’t something I had on my mind – it was a hobby.”

Currently in his 15th season at the club, James Coppinger continues to write himself into the books of Football League history. Not bad for someone who had no intention of following this career path.

He’s ranked up an unprecedented amount of appearances in South Yorkshire and continues to be named on the team sheet week in, week out.

As a youngster the midfielder was signed by Kenny Dalglish for Newcastle United in ‘98 along with Paul Robinson from local side Darlington in a joint £500k deal.

He struggled to make an impact at St James’ and after a couple of loan spells at Hartlepool and a solitary substitute appearance his time up north was over.

He switched from St James’ Park to St James Park!

2002 saw his Toon contract end by mutual consent and he travelled the length of the country to sign for Exeter City.

In what was his 1st full season in the professional game would end in heartbreak. Relegation from the 3rd division made Coppinger question his future involvement in the game.

He said: “I had a lot of negative things going on in my life. I had a fear of failing – and also a fear of success. The way I was going and the way I was thinking, before I met Terry [Gormley, a motivational speaker], it was only a matter of time before I came out of football.”

However, it was in 2004 the boy from the North East would find a home and fall back in love with the game.

James-Coppinger-Doncaster-Rovers

Bought for a reported £30,000 by then Doncaster boss Dave Penny, the midfielder has become a Rovers legend.

Unsurprisingly he has had some top moments along the way at Donny. A hat trick in a Play Off Semi-Final against Southend (link below) securing a date with fellow Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, he started at Wembley in a victory that broke Doncaster’s 50yr absence from the 2nd tier of English football.

And who can forget the last gasp winner at Brentford to clinch the League One title back in 2013, for those unfamiliar we suggest you check it out online. Genuinely one of the EFL’s greatest moments.

By the time the 2018/19 season is over the amassed total of appearances for Rovers will have passed 550, phenomenal! Backed up by a Ryan Giggs-esc record of scoring in every played in season.

He was recently replaced by a youngster from the bench with a 22yr age gap as 16yr old Lirak Hasani took to the field in his place, talk about current gaffer Grant McCann reminding his midfield maestro about his age.

Doncaster Rovers are pushing for League One play offs in the pursuit of promotion back to the Championship and having the experience of a player like Coppinger in their ranks could prove invaluable.

The game needs more like the 38yr old.

James Coppinger image sourced from; www.efl.com
James Coppinger hat trick image sourced from; www.youtube.com

Declan Rice – England Over Ireland

Ireland under 16, Ireland under 17, Ireland under 19, Ireland under 21 and Ireland senior team have all selected and nurtured midfielder Declan Rice over the years.

The West Ham midfielder has now decided that his international future lies away from the Arriva and with those at Wembley.

The promising West Ham man has chosen birth place over grandparent eligibility, he has chosen England over Ireland.

Declan-Rice

Born in London, Rice became eligible for ROI as his grandparents were from Cork.

After receiving 3 full caps (all in friendly matches) under Martin O’Neill the youngster asked to be omitted from a squad to play Wales back in August 2018.

All-in-all Rice has pulled on the shirt of the boys in green on 23 occasions.

In the last few days he has released a statement that has confirmed the decision that could define his footballing future.

“I have equal respect for both England and Ireland and therefore the national team I choose to represent is not a clear-cut, simple selection.”

“Ultimately, it is a personal decision that I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.”

It is a big risk but one that could be full of reward should he nail down a place in the three lions’ squad. You’d have to suggest that England’s recent success at various age levels will have played a huge part in Declan’s decision. Perhaps a group stage elimination at the recent World Cup would have nullified any thoughts of a switch?

Whilst there has been the odd Irishman make noises of discontent – it is worth noting that Ireland, like many other nations have benefited from similar situations.

Look back to the late 90’s and you’ll see the Englishmen of Cascarino, Townsend and Aldridge.

The mid 2000’s would find the likes of McAteer, Holland, Kinsella and Clinton Morrison switch allegiance.

Perhaps the Scots could consider themselves equally hard done by with the losses of James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady to their near neighbours in recent years?

Kevin Kilbane who is 3rd on the list for all-time record caps was born in Preston and their most recent squad features a massive 9 non-Irishmen.

It’s a sore one for those across the Irish sea to take, as they have missed out on a player with a lot of potential but like it or not Rice has not broken any rules.

This doesn’t make it right, but Ireland will have to move on quickly and focus on the upcoming Euro qualifiers after suffering relegation in inaugural Nations League competition.

Declan Rice image sourced from; www.thetimes.co.uk

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

Borussia Dortmund

With the black and yellows 6 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga – with just 1 loss to their name this season, the news this week of the sale of USA international Christian Pulisic to Chelsea may have rocked may a football club. Not Borussia Dortmund.

With the promise of nearly £60m on its way from Stamford Bridge, an agreement was reached to allow their number 22 to hang around on loan until the end of a season which is looking to be a successful one.

After the departure of Pulisic in the summer their squad will still boast the likes of Gotze, Reus, Witsel, Alcacer and of course the exciting talent that is Jadon Sancho.

The particular emergence of the young Englishman has been quicker than expected, his quick feet and ability to take men on has seen him very much in the manager Lucien Favre’s plans, without pre-empting fate its seen that Sancho will prove to be another player that they can cash in on for tremendous profit.

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Borussia Dortmund have seen some of the world’s best footballers come through their doors in the last few years but incredibly the Bundesliga side seem to get stronger.

They rarely stand in the way of their “want away” stars as they can drive a hard bargain and re-invest profit into their future.

Just look at these 5 key outgoings from previous seasons:-

Player Bought For Sold For Profit
Ousmane Dembele €15m €145m €130m
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang €14m €63m €49m
Henrikh Mkhitaryan €13m €42m €29m
Mats Hummels €4m €35m €31m
Ilkay Gundogan €4m €27m €23m
€262m

Frustratingly Lewandowski and Goetze (now returned) walked away on free transfers, a lesson learned it would seem given Pulisic was due to walk away on a free next summer before the transfer to the Premier League was sealed.

Other recent notable sales include Sokratis (Arsenal), Ginter (Monchengladbach) & Bender (Leverkusen).

Along with their Bundesliga cushion they have topped a Champions League group that contained Atletico Madrid and have a last 16 tie with Spurs to look forward to. A tie they’ll see as winnable and progression to the latter stages.

2018 / 19 is looking remarkably promising and this will further impress any targets they choose to pursue with the Chelsea cash for Pulisic, maybe a late bid to snatch you Hudson-Odoi from Bayern and add to their English contingent?

The last 8 seasons have seen Borussia claim 2 league titles, 2 German cups and also seen them victorious in 2 DFL Supercups. Combine this with multiple runners up accolades and they don’t appear to be stopped despite their decisions to allow their prized assets to leave.

Their south bank or “yellow wall” as it’s been nicknamed, is one of the most mesmerising sights in the game when over 24k are making themselves heard.

They simply show true German grit and look to move on as a club whilst gracefully accepting the riches from others around Europe.

Borussia Dortmund are a fine example of a football club.

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Jadon Sancho image sourced from; www.goal.com
Borussia Dortmund Stadium image sourced from; www.youtube.com

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

Russia 2018 – The Final Showdown

32 nations arrived in Russia last month to contest the 2018 World Cup, we’ve seen some surprises amongst the shocks and now we’re left with just two nations, both desperate to get their hands on the Jules Rimet trophy.

Sunday in Moscow will see 1998 winners France, take 1998 3rd placed Croatia, in what has turned out to be an all European final. Somewhat hammering home the recent dominance to those in South America.

Image result for france vs croatia

France under Didier Deschamps appear to have put the disappointment Euro 2016 behind them by making a 2nd successive major final (just as they did back in 98 & 00) and will start the game as favourites given their navigated route and the players at their disposal. A magnificent 5th final in 20 years is something special, just like this French team.

Deschamps himself has the chance to add his name to an exclusive list – by winning the World Cup as both player and manager, only 2 others have achieved this magnificent feat before. All this, after calls for him to go during the qualification stage after a home draw with Luxembourg.

Other than a drab draw with Denmark in the last group game, Les Bleus have been impressive and deserve their final berth given the level of opposition that they’ve seen off. The successes over Belgium, Uruguay and Argentina in the knockout stages have been impressive.

With Lloris, Varane, Kante and Griezmann the spin of the side is remarkably strong and they’ll be looking to rid themselves of a disappointing extra time defeat to Portugal in the Euros.

Croatia have made the final by whatever means possible, all 3 knockout games have required settling out with the originally scheduled 90mins. Penalty defeats of Denmark and Russia were followed by a Mandzukic winner deep into extra time vs England.

Appearing in their 1st final it will be up to the likes Modric and Rakitic to impose themselves in the midfield to give the Croats any chance.

Coach Zlatko Dalic only took the post last October following the sacking of Ante Cacic, upon arriving, Dalic announced that he would only remain head coach if Croatia qualified for the tournament. Safe to say he could potentially have a job for life should Sunday’s game swing in their favour.

Past meetings

  • July 8, 1998 FRANCE WON 2-1 (1998 World Cup)
  • November 13, 1999 FRANCE WON 3-0 (International Friendly)
  • May 28, 2000 FRANCE WON 2-0 (International Friendly)
  • June 17, 2004 DRAW 2-2 (Euro 2004)
  • March 29, 2011 DRAW 0-0 (International Friendly)

History will point to a straight forward victory and a 2nd title for France and we don’t disagree with what the stats show.

We are predicting a comfortable 3-1 win for the French in a game that will prove a step too far for Croatia.

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All the best to both nations, let’s hope for a fitting final for what has been a great tournament.

France v Croatia Image Sourced From; www.thetelegraph.co.uk/world-cup
Russia 2018 Trophy Image Sourced From; www.theweek.co.uk

Russia 2018 – The World is Waiting

The wait is almost over, in just a few days World Cup 2018 will kick off with host nation Russia entertaining Saudi Arabia with the eyes of the other 30 competing countries watching on awaiting their chance to lay down an early marker in the competition.

We’ve looked through the squads, the stats and can provide our tips for the tournament.

Winners

For us it’s proving very difficult to look past Brazil, the 5 time winners boast Neymar, Firmino and Coutinho among their attacking threat. A favourable group draw and their tournament experience will stand them in good stead in Russia.

A tricky qualification was navigated with ease, Tite’s men finished 10, 13 and 14 points ahead of nearest challengers Uruguay, Argentina and Columbia respectively.

Despite them being prone to a big stage wobble in recent times (defeats to France, Holland and the famous 7-1 against Germany) we are backing the South Americans to wrestle back a trophy last won by them in 2002 and end the recent European dominance.

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Dark Horses

It seems like an obvious choice and maybe not even a dark horse shout but the Belgians look in terrifying shape.

A starting XI with a spine of Courtouis, Vertonghen, De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku will make any opposition re-evaluate their tactics.

Unbeaten in qualification with 28 points from 30, a record only bettered by current World Champions Germany and scoring a tasty 43 goals over the 10 games proves they are in great form.

A golden generation expected to impress and justify their world ranking of 3.

The only downside for us is the manager. It’s hard to imagine a footballing world where Roberto Martinez can add a Jules Rimet trophy win to his CV.

Belguim-Team

1st Plane Home

Now whilst they may not necessarily need a plane Russia is such a vast country that a lot of players may be taking long trips home after just the 1st week of their own competition.

Injuries mean that CSKA defender Viktor Vasin and key man Zenit St Petersburg’s Aleksandr Kokorin miss out. A late call up for a 39 year old Ignashevich indicate their struggles.

You’d fancy Uruguay to top Group A leaving 2nd place to be fought out by the hosts, an unknown Saudi side and a Salah inspired Egypt. The latter being our picks to sneak into the knockout rounds.

Russia-Flag-Image

Surprise Package

Any team that comes through South American qualifying cannot be underestimated. Add into this a victory over the French back in March and you have a side that could surprise and go a long way in this World Cup.

Columbia are the side we are talking about.

Their recently announced squad are littered with players from Munich, Milan and Barca.

James and Falcao will lead Los Cafeteros but will have the likes of Carlos Bacca, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Cuadrado backing them up, not to mention their wild fanbase!

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Top Goalscorer

We feel England could be coming home with a trophy this time around, Harry Kane is in with a great chance of returning with the golden boot to make up for losing his PL crown to Mo Salah.

England should progress through the group with a game to spare and you wouldn’t bet against Kane being on the scoresheet against both Panama and Tunisia.

Goals against the lesser opposition should rid the three lions of any nerves and lead them into the last 16 with a striker bang in form.

Captain Kane could notch 5-7 with relative ease over in Russia.

England v Turkey - International Friendly

Players Destined for the Post Tournament Move

We’ve picked out three to watch throughout the duration of the competition that appear destined for bigger things within the game.

Timo Werner – Germany

The young striker is currently starring for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.

In the Germany squad and whilst he may not feature prominently he’ll provide a good option from the bench. A potential replacement for Lewandowski should he leave Bayern as expected.

Leander Dendoncker – Belgium

One of the lesser mentioned Belgian galacticos is the Anderlecht defensive midfielder. Just the 4 caps to his name currently but making the cut ahead of the likes of Nainggolan shows a lot of faith.

Don’t be surprised to see top 10 PL side make a bid in August.

Kahraba – Egypt

Despite the reports Egypt are more than a one man team.

Kahraba is the nickname of 23-year-old winger Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim, who is currently on loan at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad from Egyptian giants Zamalek. In Arabic, Kahraba means electricity. He is a pacey direct winger and with the groups his nation find themselves in he could prove a vital part in navigating the Egyptians through to the knockout rounds.

Timo-Werner-Image

The stadiums are built, the friendlies are over and the stage is well and truly set.

We’re all hoping for a footballing summer to remember from Eastern Europe.

The world is waiting, World Cup 2018, let’s see what you’ve got!

The Brazil 2018 team image is sourced from; www.sportsbible.co.uk/football
The Belguim 2018 team image is sourced from; www.vivaonnews.com
The Russia flag image is sourced from; www.depositphotos.com
The Columbia fans image is sourced from; www.panamericaneworld.com
Harry Kane image is sourced from; www.metro.co.uk
Timo Werner image is sourced from; www.bundesliga.com

Europe vs The World – The Battle of the Best 11

With the World Cup just a few weeks away and with the best players on the planet preparing to lead their respective nations in Russia, we wondered what the best XI’s would look like if it was the EU vs. the rest of the world (ROW).

We have stuck purely to nationality and put aside their club’s locations, this way we get to keep Messi and Ronaldo on opposite sides!

Have a look, cast judgement over our sides and comment on who we’ve missed or who has no place on the pitch?

Europe XI

A strong Premier League spine to our European side with added La Liga flair.

De Gea, Kante, De Bruyne and Kane provide safe hands, phenomenal work rate, creativity and goals.

A defence made in Germany with Munich’s Hummels and Kimmich accompanied by Spain’s Alba and France’s Varane from La Liga.

Kante and new wonderkid – Asensio, in the middle with and amazing trio of Griezmann, De Bruyne and CR7 all in behind Harry Kane. Safe to say that any goal scored against the below World XI will be claimed by the Tottenham man. Now we’ve all seen Ronaldo’s tantrums when someone tries to take a goal from him!

Mentions for players missing out include Ramos, Hazard and the difficult omission of Kieran Tierney!

Onto the best of the rest World XI…..

World XI.jpeg

Perhaps unsurprisingly that the South American superpowers of Brazil and Argentina make up a good proportion of this side.

Roma’s wanted-keeper Allison has the gloves, with an interesting centre half pairing of the reliable Uruguayan Godin and solid Senegalese Koulibaly. Either side of these, there was a no contest in our eyes with Alves and Marcelo, serial winners and are both equally as good going forward as at the back.

The Midfield has been collated to counter balance their opponents. Casemiro and Vidal provide good distribution. Perhaps the most surprising inclusion of Naby Keita could be the key? The box-to-box midfielder who isn’t afraid of a challenge could nullify counter attacks.

Up top it was straight forward. Messi, Neymar and future Ballon D’or winner Mo Salah. Do we need to justify these selections? Thought not.

No Suarez, Cavani, Firmino or Sanchez – we felt they weren’t quite up to level we wanted to put against the Europeans this time.

Now remember that it’s never easy to throw out 22 options and be 100% correct, the teams are open to interpretation and change but we believe they are as close as can be.

Perhaps with all the glamour friendlies that go on pre, mid and post season we will get to see the best each side can offer – go head-to-head for a good cause and for the pure interest of every football fan around the globe.

Team images created with the Footballsilo App.

York City – The Demise of the Minstermen

On a chilly Tuesday North West evening, a near 400 strong York City diehards made the journey along the M62 to Manchester in the hope of seeing their side grab a vital 3 points in their search for a Play Off place in National League North.

What they got was an abject performance and a 1-0 defeat at the hands of FC United virtually confining them to another season in English football’s 6th tier.

This, just days after the 1-0 defeat to 10 man Gainsborough Trinity, a result which has been described as the worst in the clubs recent history.

York-City-Players-Image

The Minstermen had returned to the football league in 2012 after an eight year absence however back-to-back relegations have left them with league football being nothing other than a distant memory.

When departing League Two in the 2015/16 season they were under the charge of former Partick Thistle and Dundee United Manager Jackie McNamara. Prior to his dismissal at Tannadice, he had led the SPL club to back-to-back Cup Finals so appeared a solid choice.

After the drop and a record showing just 8 wins from 48 games, it was announced that the former Scotland right back would leave his position. However he would continue in a caretaker capacity until a successor was found. Interesting we hear you say, well just hold that thought….

Once former Manager Gary Mills was re-appointed, McNamara didn’t leave the club as originally planned. He moved upstairs and took on the role of Chief Executive.

How? Why? What?

Martin Gray is now the man in the dugout and will be tasked with leading York into next season despite the poor end to this one. The club’s Chairman Jason Mcgill and the afore mentioned McNamara have recently left the club with immediate effect leaving a new board room set up in place.

The new regime have a “challenging” campaign and “mammoth task” ahead of them according to York’s Financial Management Consultant Peter Rookes. The most recent accounts have revealed a £500k loss. Gray has added that he is happy to see an end to “open cheque book” recruitment and is urging the board to pay salaries more in line with sixth tier standards.

With ex-league players such as Aiden Connolly, Josh Low, Michael Rankine and big Jon Parkin in their ranks, York do have all the ingredients to start the painful climb back up the pyramid. They only have themselves to blame for currently mixing it with the likes of Brackley and Curzon Ashton.

On a brighter note, work has started on their new home. An 8,000 all seater community stadium at Monks Cross will see football and rugby league combine to strut their stuff at the start of the 2019/20 season. Surely the club will be determined to depart Bootham Cresent on a high and head into their new home in a higher division?

York-Monks-Street-Stadium-Image

The club is up for sale with interested parties having only a few days left to declare an interest. Hopefully better times ahead for those 400+ that made the long journey home after trudging away from FC United last week.

York City Players Image Sourced From; www.yorkpress.co.uk/sport
York City Monks Cross Image Sourced From; www.thenonleaguefootballpaper.com

Atletico Madrid – Striking Sensations

With prodigal son Fernando Torres leaving the club at the end of the season and heavy speculation linking Antoine Griezmann with a move away we felt it was worth taking a look at the wealth of striking talent that Atletico Madrid have had, let go, re-signed and will soon be struggling to hold onto!

Now removing the obvious glacticos of Messi, Ronaldo and Mo Salah (he deserves a mention in any footy topic these days) and Atleti have had the best of the rest at one time or another.

Athletico-Madrid-Scorers.jpg

Take a look below and the names on this list and their goals / games ratios:-

Player Games Goals
Antoine Greizmann 205 110
Fernando Torres 397 127
Diego Costa 153 70
Kevin Gameiro 79 26
Sergio Aguero 234 101
Diego Forlan 196 96
Radamel Falcao 91 70
Mario Mandzukic 43 20
David Villa 47 15
Total 1442 634

There is clearly something special about the goal scorers who pull of those famous red and white striped shirts in the Spanish Capital.

Currently boasting an attacking force of Griezmann, Torres, Costa and Gameiro they are gunning for Europa League glory with only Marseille standing in their way.

Their prior goal machines will equally be household names to many.

Aguero, Forlan and Falcao have had stints in the Premier League with mixed fortunes and the world Cup winner David Villa was captured for under £5m to see out his final years in La Liga.

Rewind to the end of the previous decade and you’ll find the days of Christian Vieri and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, these two had a combined record of 62 goals in 75 appearances in the late 90’s.

Not to mention a cost-cutting measure of closing their youth academy cost them Real legend Raul!

They have recently moved to the Wanda Metropolitano and will be hoping their frontmen feel equally at home here as they used to be at the Vicente Calderon.

Atletico Madrid striker image sourced from; goal91.com