Sunderland AFC

Finally down and out, The 2016/17 season has proved one step too far for Sunderland AFC. Having flirted with relegation for the previous four seasons they have finally succumbed to the dreaded drop.

The parachute payments will pale into insignificance once the fixtures are released in a few weeks’ time for the season ahead. The additional 8 games a season, more midweek fixtures and trips to Burton Albion and Bristol City will hit home hard at The Stadium of Light.

Ever since owner Ellis Short arrived in the North East in 2008 it’s been bad decision after bad decision. 7 permanent managers have come and gone with Short currently on his 9th in David Moyes, someone whom he has made no secret of his admiration for… Moyes has finally been the man to oversee a long overdue relegation.

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Calamitous spells in charge from the likes of Ricky Sbragia and Paulo Di Canio have not aided the former Man Utd Manager’s cause but this was not the right job for him to step into, he was defeated and downbeat from the off. In fact in the near 10 years in which the club has been under American ownership, the highest win % of any of the gaffers has been a miserable 35.2% under Martin O’Neill, The Irishman lost equally as many games as he won.

So what now for The Mackems?

Just have a look at their squad, terrible and without serious overhaul they could be destined for League One sooner than a Premier League return.

We’ll start with the seemingly obvious, Defoe will go (on a free!! Who’s idea was it to insert that clause into his contract?!) and Pickford will surely look to add to a rapidly increasing reputation with a move to a club in the top flight.

The Rest?

A dressing room full of failed potential and players long past their sell by dates. Jack Rodwell, Darren Gibson, Joleon Lescott, Victor Anichebe, Steven Pienaar, John O’Shea and Seb Larsson are all part of one of the most poorly assembled squads in recent Premier League history.

The Manager?

There are already chants of “Moyes out” from the stands and with an ever diminishing reputation you have to wonder what is going through the Scotsman’s mind as he enters the summer break. He has Championship experience but that was a long time ago, the league has since changed and Sunderland will hardly be favourites for the division with the likes of Aston Villa, Hull and Fulham looking a lot better placed for promotion.

The Boardroom?

You only have to look at recent seasons and you’ll see that there will be very little in terms of funds made available. The Black Cats generally spend what they recoup but with years of the insane Premier League money behind them it’s hard to fathom just where the £100’s Millions are going year on year, or is it?

Sunderland are reported to have the 14th highest wage bill in EUROPE! What?!? One thing is for sure and that is that they have very little in terms of saleable assets to provide funds to buy the relevant personnel that will understand the rough and tumble of championship football.

The side from Wearside need a complete club overhaul to have any chance of returning to the Premier League anytime in the near future. In their current state you have to envisage a mid-table Championship season is the best they can hope for.

We all know the North East of England is a hot bed for football, the fans are extremely passionate with generally very little return from their heroes on the pitch. Big rivals Newcastle have been able to bounce straight back but unless Rafa’s boys implode once more and find themselves in a relegation battle, we wouldn’t expect to have any fierce local derbies in the coming seasons Sunderland fans.

They deserve better than what they’ve recently had to endure.

Sunderland-fans

David Moyes image sourced from; www.skysports.com
Sunderland fans image sourced from; www.chroniclelive.co.uk

Stuart Armstrong – A Promising Future

In recent times some of the best talent in the Scottish Premiership has made their way south… Mainly to Southampton it has to be said.

We’ve seen Fraser Forster, Virgil Van Dijk, Steven Davis and Victor Wanyama all arrive on the south coast from opposite sides of the Old Firm divide.

Add in Steven Naismith (Everton), Andy Robertson (Hull), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Gary Hooper (Norwich) and Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace) you’d have a strong argument to suggest that contrary to belief, there is a wealth of talent north of the border.

Well there is a man who has the potential to top them all and go on to become a stand out player for a top club in the English Premier League , that man is Celtic’s Stuart Armstrong.

Signed from SPL rivals Dundee United January 2015 the all-action midfielder has gone on to become one of Brendan Rodgers’ key men in their push for an unprecedented unbeaten domestic treble.

With 13 goals so far this term it is only team mate Moussa Dembele that can possibly beat him to any of Player of the Year accolades shortly to be handed out.

Stuart-Armstrong-Image

Perhaps surprisingly it was only last month in which Armstrong made his international debut. Unsurprisingly he was the best player on the park by a mile. He covered every blade of Hampden turf on a “do or die” night for Scotland. He carried a nation and was rightly awarded MOM for his endeavours.

The sublime and composed pass so late in the game that gave Chris Martin the opportunity to keep The Tartan Army’s faint Russia 2018 hopes alive typified the season that the Celt is having.

Celtic’s £2.5M outlay looks a steal and they are certain to make a huge profit should they decide the time is right to cash in. Having only just turned 25, Armstrong is still a couple of seasons away from his peak but he has all the attributes to make it to the very top.

The scouts must be watching and reporting back to their respective managers to ready that chequebook.

Check out this video on Youtube; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dodHHHTTAaU 

Stuart Armstrong image sourced from; www.celticnewsnow.com

 

 

FIFA FIFPro World11 2016

December has arrived and that can mean only one thing, yep it’s time to crack open those advent calendars!

In other news, it’s also the month where the FIFA shortlist for the “team of the year” is released. In case you missed it, the full list is below:-

GK’s

Claudio Bravo, Gianluigi Buffon, David De Gea, Keylor Navas and Manuel Neur.

DEF’s

David Alaba, Jordi Alba, Serge Aurier, Hector Bellerin, Jerome Boateng, Leonardo Bonnucci, Daniel Carvajal, Giorgio Chellini, Dani Alves, David Luiz, Diego Godin, Mats Hummels, Philipp Lahm, Marcelo, Javier Mascherano, Pepe, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Thiago Silva and Raphael Varane.

MID’s

Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Andres Iniesta, N’Golo Kante, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Mesut Ozil, Dimitri Payet, Paul Pogba, Ivan Rakitic, David Silva, Marco Veratti and Arturo Vidal.

FOR’s

Sergio Aguero, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Antoine Griezmann, Gonzalo Higuain, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller, Neymar, Alexis Sanchez, Luis Suarez and Jamie Vardy.

The list virtually appears to have been decided with eyes closed as most would have selected the named 55 players with a few minor tweaks. Our massive congratulations however go to Jamie Vardy, who (we hope doesn’t mind us saying that he) looks quite out of place in this company. His 2015/16 performance fully merits his place.

The FIFPro World11 is decided by the players, for the players. It collates the votes from roughly 25,000 professional players in 75 countries. Each vote contains 1 goalkeeper, 4 defenders, 3 midfielders and 3 forwards.

That’s right, even this award has moved away from footy’s traditional 4-4-2 to reflect the modern-day game, it won’t be long before we have a “holding midfielder” of the year award…you heard it here first!

The final team will be announced in Zurich on 9th January 2017 so we thought we’d cast our votes early and name our best 11:-

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Now obviously this is purely opinion but leaving Lionel Messi out of any selected XI requires some logic and our reasoning is pretty simple. The Argentine superstar is forever receiving accolades but he fell short where it mattered over the last few months, mainly when it came to his country. We chose Gareth Bale in his place thanks to his Champions League win and the superb leadership of Wales in the Euro’s.

One thing is for certain, is that whoever the chosen side is – that they all have been deserving in their own individual right and it’s fair to say that the ultimate combined XI would take some beating!

Image created by using Lineup11 app.

Wayne Rooney – Time for Fan Reflection

Poor old Wayne Rooney, he appears to be taking the brunt of everyone’s frustrations and anger at the moment:-

  • Man Utd’s stuttering start to the season = Wayne Rooney
  • Paul Pogba’s poor form = Wayne Rooney
  • England failing at the Euros = Wayne Rooney
  • Current England failings = Wayne Rooney
  • Global Warming = Wayne Rooney

Obviously we kid with the last one but we’re sure “Wazza” wouldn’t be surprised to be questioned about it in an upcoming press conference if they needed someone to blame.

The fact of the matter is simple…Wayne Rooney is currently out of form and quite rightly has been taken out of the starting 11 by responsible managers for club and country. This is something which can and does happen to most players throughout their careers, but most other footballers do not have the numbers to back up their careers like the England captain.

Just have a look at his record:-

Club Season Apps Goals
Everton 2002 – 03 37 8
  2003 – 04 40 9
Man Utd 2004 – 05 43 17
  2005 – 06 48 19
  2006 -07 55 23
  2007 – 08 43 18
  2008 – 09 49 20
  2009 – 10 44 34
  2010 – 11 40 16
  2011 – 12 43 34
  2012 – 13 37 16
  2013 – 14 40 19
  2014 – 15 37 14
  2015 – 16 41 15
England 2003 – Present 118 53
Total 715 315

14 trophies lifted and multiple “Player of the Year” awards to also add to his medal collection.

Rooney doesn’t complete the team sheet at Old Trafford or Wembley, the Manager does. Not just one manager either. A total of 11 of managers (4 at club level, with Moyes x 2 and 7 at International) have been quick enough to write his name down and hand it to the officials on hundreds of occasions. Rooney goes out on the pitch as instructed to, just as he has sat on the bench in recent weeks like the model pro he has matured into.

He is about to turn 31 but he has plenty left to offer both on and off the pitch, yes there is work to do on his part. A young man who has been in the spotlight ever since bending a beauty past David Seaman way back in 2002 deserves to be cut a bit of slack.

A man who has won everything at club level as well as becoming  England’s most capped outfield player and top goal-scorer, Wayne Rooney is a player that England and Man Utd fans may never see again in their lifetimes.

It’s time to support the man who you have depended on for so many years, acknowledging just how good he has been along the way.

wayne-rooney-image

Wayne Rooney image sourced from; www.dailyexpress.co.uk