Leicester City – A Post of Appreciation

Leicester City…what hasn’t yet been said about them? Not a lot to be fair.

We felt we need to create a small post to express just what The Foxes have brought to us this season.

5000/1 as the season started back in August 2015, they had just completed pre-season warm up’s against Lincoln City & Mansfield town.

From the moment they kicked off the Premier League campaign with a 4-2 victory over Sunderland they never really looked back.

Defeated by only 2 clubs from their 19 challengers (Arsenal x 2 & Liverpool)

Somehow the much maligned Claudio Ranieri has turned Albrighton, Simpson and Ulloa into Champions League footballers.

We’ve all watched as clubs have tried to copy the Barca model and play tika-taka football but we need to finally realise that there is little wrong with sticking to the basics of the game.

A good goalkeeper, 2 solid centre half’s, a midfield general, a tricky winger and a striker who plays without fear.

There is a distinct possibility that we will never see a less fashionable team win the top flight in England again so this has to go down as one of the biggest surprises of all time in the game we love.

To sum up:

We’ve been smiling in disbelief
They’ve played with passion, desire and full on heart
An amazing team spirit has brought them their biggest prize
They believed when the rest of us didn’t…
Congratulations to Leicester City!

PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2015/16

Leicester-City-Premiership-Winners

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

Zlatan – Coming to a ground near you?

Sunday 13th March 2016, the day that PSG clinched the Ligue1 Championship for a 4th successive season, also the day the Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirmed that he will be moving on from the French Capital after a 4 year stay. The title win was his 10th trophy at Parc des Princes since his unveiling in July 2012.

The official quote of “for the moment, I will not be at PSG next season. I still have a month and a half left here” will have set chairmen all over Europe searching for enough room in their budgets for the Sweden captain. He did however go on to say “if they replace the Eiffel Tower with a statue of me, then I will stay.” With all the ego in the world, I’m sure he was being serious too!

Zlatan-Eiffel-Tower

He has competed at the top level in Sweden, Holland, Italy, Spain and France. He can state Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter & AC Milan, Barcelona and PSG as his club sides. Add into this his 111 Sweden caps, 27 trophies and you have 1 illustrious career.

So, the key question…Where is he going to be playing his football next season?

There are 4 possible destinations but the obvious and most exciting one would be the English Premier League. You can’t see Bayern or Dortmund requiring his services so that rules out Germany and we feel it far too soon in his career for moves to the MLS or China.

The Premier League for all of its merits does lack some genuine world class players and all of the top clubs will be scrambling for Ibrahimovic. His 102 goals in 115 games in Paris prove he still has what it takes, including 2 against Chelsea in the recent Champions League tie for anyone that questions France as a weaker league.

With the man being available on a free transfer, the high wages that the man himself will command will be acceptable due to the lack of transfer fee.

The usual suspects will be linked and you’ll struggle to create a compelling argument as to which side he wouldn’t improve. Given the way this season has gone domestically there will be 1 or 2 surprise destinations mentioned.

How about West Ham? London living, new Olympic stadium and European football ticks all the boxes Ibrahimovic and Payet certainly creates excitement.

Champions Laegue - "Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven"

Taking a sensible look at it however it has to be… Manchester United.

They need a striker, someone who can take an amount of pressure from Rooney as the main man. Perhaps more importantly he can act as a tutor to Martial and Rashford. He would instantly be a cult hero and could provide a low risk big name signing for the expected new manager in charge at Old Trafford.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is made for the Theatre Of Dreams.

We hope to see the mercurial talent on Match Of The Day soon, just not being judged by the likes of Jason Roberts or John Hartson!

Zlatan Eiffel Tower Image sourced from; www.mirror.co.uk/sport
Zlatan Manchester United Image sourced from; www.thedailymail.co.uk/sport/football

Chelsea FC – The Runners & Riders to be Roman’s New Man

In this edition we look at the contenders to be the next manager through the seemingly revolving door at Stamford Bridge.

This however is all based on the assumption the Guus Hiddink does not, as expected remain in the post beyond this summer.

There is still a possibility for Hiddink to repeat the success of 2009 and deliver the FA Cup but this will not convince him or the board to extend the current agreement.

Antonio Conte

Currently in charge of the Italian National team and leading his country into Euro 2016

Conte only signed a short 2 year contract with the Azzurri and is free to leave as soon as Italy’s tournament is over.

Guided Juventus back to the top of Serie A and won 3 successive titles, laid the groundwork for current team before his resignation.

Available and no compensation to be paid.

Chances of being appointed  8/10

Antonio-Conte.jpg

Diego Simeone

The hot tempered Argentine would certainly bring personality to England should he choose to leave Atletico. This may all depend on impending transfer embargo’s and how far Spain’s big two strengthen their position in the coming months.

Would he be excited for further touchline battles with Guardiola and Jose? We say he’d thrive on it.

Although he currently doesn’t speak English and very loved where he is.

Chances of being appointed  7/10

Manuael Pellegrini  

The outgoing City manager has handled himself with superb dignity in the few weeks since his current club decided to publicly announce he is being replaced. Certainly a different style and grace than Mourinho.

A chance of 3 trophies still up for grabs before he leaves, but the blue side of Manchester are generally far from convincing.

Won’t be short of offers but is he the man for the Bridge? No way.

Chances of being appointed  3/10

Massimiliano Allegri

The 2nd Italian on the shortlist. Allegri has continued Conte’s fine work and taken Juve to the next level. The Champions League runners up of 2015 have just held Guardiola’s mighty Munich to a draw in the 1st leg of this year’s last 16 tie.

Putting together a team containing Pogba, Khedira, Dybala and Morata is something that the Premier League can only dream of at this moment in time.

2 x Serie A titles and 3 Italian cups with 2 different sides shows he has what it takes.

Ultimately though…Would he leave Turin at this moment in time? We don’t think so.

Chances of being appointed 5/10

Jorge Sampaoli

Currently out of work the former Chile manager is fresh from guiding the host nation to the Copa America. A penalty shootout win over Argentina was Vidal, Sanchez & co’s 1st South American title.

Turmoil with the recently elected President of the Football Federation of Chile led to his surprise resignation.

He does have a similar language barrier to Simeone that he would need to overcome.

He’s also perhaps struggle to command the respect that has seen previous bosses lose their position.

Another who is available and commands no compensation

Chances of being appointed 4/10

Diego-Simeone

All things considered we would love to see Allegri come to Chelsea, He could turn the club back into title contenders and clearly has the ability to attract the top players in Europe.

Massimiliano has quietly gone about his business at the Old Lady whilst overseeing his team play with intensity and style.

We don’t think we will get our wish however and fully expect it to be a straight shootout between Conte and Simeone.

Whoever gets the nod, all the best as you will be the trigger happy Billionaire Russian’s number 12.

Antonio Conte Image Sourced from; www.huffingtonpost.com
Manuael Pellegrini and Diego Simeone Image Sourced from; www.metrofmonline.com

Newcastle United – Why is it still going wrong?

Newcastle United – The darlings in the hearts of most of the North East public once again languish towards the bottom of the Barclays Premier League.

The club is run as a profitable business, which in today’s game is a magnificent achievement. Love or loath owner Mike Ashley, he’s knows what he’s doing when it gets down to the pennies.

However like every club the fans care more about what their hard earned cash is getting them week in week out. We want entertaining, free scoring football but something that the Newcastle fans more than most demand is simply effort.

They desire players to pull on those famous black & white stripes, roll up their sleeves and put in graft for 90 minutes.

Something which they are not getting nor have they been for arguably the last 3 season ever since a very impressive 5th place finish in 2011-2012. Mix the bottom half finishes with very early cup exits and you have to wonder if The Toon players / management are providing their loyal fans with anything other than anguish.

Currently they are led into battle each week by tabloid dubbed “wally with a brolly” Steve McClaren, A man who turned them down earlier in 2015. Since his decision to stay at Derby County, The rams plummeted down the Championship and missed out on the play-offs….and he still managed to get himself appointed not only into the dugout but onto the board aswell!

Steve McClaren is in current terms the opposite of Leicester City.

steve-mcclaren-newcastle-manager

In the early Pardew days (2011-12) the club had massive transfer success with acquisitions such as Cabaye, Collocinni, Ba and an on fire Papiss Cisse. The latter also won acclaim with Goal of the Season while Pardew collected the Manager of the Year prize.

The 2012-13 Season saw the Magpies struggles officially begin, the squad could not cope with the demand of Europa League football and after 10 losses in 13 games, they found themselves in a relegation battle. The influx of 5 French players in January was just enough to see them survive on the penultimate weekend of the season.

A terrible end to the 2013-14 Season (7 defeats in the last 10) was followed by no win in the 1st 7 games at the start of 2014-15, this raised calls for Pardew’s reign to come to an end.

Quite rightly as it has turned out Pardew walked out to join Palace and hasn’t really looked back since.

Newcastle decided to stick with long time coach John Carver and somehow escaped the drop again, a crucial last day victory against West Ham proved to be the vital 3 points.

Season after season, relegation scrap after relegation scrap, manager after manager and foreigner after foreigner will not change what is going on at St James Park.

Newcastle United need to go back to basics in order to climb the table and here is how they can do that:-

  • Break from the normal 2015 football fashion and play 4-4-2

2 up front will give the opposition something to think about, no holding midfielders who add nothing to the team……Goodbye Vernon Anita!

  • Buy British

Steer clear of expensive foreigners who will take time to adapt and maybe won’t even be good enough.

Mitrovic could be a gem but Austin, Ings or Rhodes are proven.

Thauvin and Cabella could have been a Matt Ritchie or Robbie Brady.

Haidara or Mbemba are no better than Matt Dawson or Micah Richards.

bournemouth-verses-newcastle

  • Replace Graham Carr

He’s done a great job in the past but that’s starting to look like more luck than judgement.

The French revolution had to end a sometime and the club are stuck paying the wages of flops to this day.

Perhaps he just prefers trips to the south of France rather than trips to the Midlands in the middle of November.

  • Get the fans involved

We know Ashley isn’t even granted the status of Marmite in the stands of St James Park but the loyal, faithful, diehards that are the Newcastle United fans know their football. They also love a local lad, Adam Armstrong is 18 and just notched his 13th of the season on loan at Coventry, get him back and in that squad.

Ask their opinions on anything and everything; they are like no other in this country simple as that.

If changes are not made soon then the Barclays Premier League are going to lose a massive club and unlike Villa for example we need a Newcastle United in the top league.

Whether McClaren will be in charge for much longer is debatable but it goes without saying the 3 home games from 5 in December will more than likely seal his fate.

All the best to The Magpies fans that make the longest away journeys over the course of a season……….You deserve better!

newcastle-united-fans

Steve McClaren image sourced from; www.theguardian.co.uk
Matt Richie image sourced from; www.sportbt.com
Newcastle fans image sourced from; www.genius.com

A Round of Applause for Leicester City

Rewind to just 7 months ago and you’ll find Leicester City lining up to play against West Ham United at the King Power, a team without a win in 8 matches and certain of relegation from the Premier League.

A 2-1 win that started a miraculous escape from the bottom 3 and a run of 7 wins from their final 9 matches!

A 14th place finish with a summer of managerial and key player departures later, the dubious choice of Claudio Ranieri was appointed in the East Midlands.

Claudio-Renairi-Leicester-Manager

The Italian former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Monaco gaffer arrived after an extremely unsuccessful spell as the Manager of the Greece National team. In this role he oversaw a home qualifying defeat to the minnows of Faroe Island.

Arrivals in the relatively unknown form of Shinji Okazaki, N’Golo Kante and Yohan Benalouane would have done little to raise the hopes of the Foxes fans.

Okazaki-Leicester-City

However, all of this aside……What a start they have made to this season!

6 wins and only 1 defeat in the 1st 11 games of this season currently see City cemented in 3rd place, there does seem to be a touch of Keegan’s Newcastle about Leicester this year and that is refreshing for the sometimes too “tactical” top division.

I, for one, love the “you score 2, we’ll score 3 mentality” that has seen Leicester score nearly as much as City but yet concede a similar amount to Villa.

Leicester will need the fine form of England International Jamie Vardy and rumoured Man Utd target, Riyad Mahrez, to continue if they are to still be in contention towards the top end of the table come 2016. An extremely tough December that consists of home games against Chelsea and Man City with away days to Swansea and both sides of Stanley Park will produce difficult opportunities for points.

Special mentions also need to go to West Ham and Southampton but it’s the Foxes who have captured my imagination and long may they continue to provide us with entertainment for the rest of this season.

Riyad-Mahrez-Jamie-Vardy-Leicester

Claudio Ranieri image sourced from; http://www.telegraph.co.uk
Shinji Okazaki image sourced from; http://www.lcfc.com
Vardy & Mahrez image sourced from; http://www.express.co.uk