Mark Hughes – Southampton Struggles

Blackburn Rovers, Man City, Fulham, QPR, Stoke City and now Southampton.

All of the mentioned clubs have taken the decision to employ Mark Hughes as their manager throughout the last fifteen years, it now appears that his time is up at his current club just like it has been at the previous five.

Last weekend’s 3-2 defeat to fellow strugglers Fulham – in what was dubbed and early season six pointer – did not go the way of the team from the south coast had hoped.

Now it looks an absolute certainty that the Welshman will be leaving St Mary’s before completing a calendar year.

sport-preview-mark-hughes

Appointed in March 2018 “Sparky” has overseen twenty-five matches winning just five, and perhaps more importantly losing twelve, a near 50% loss record. Not exactly that new manager bounce in form which most teams benefit from.

Just the solitary league win this season way back in September is bad enough, but the lack of goals is a problem that just isn’t being addressed. Ten goals in thirteen league games combined with a run of five league games without a goal shortly after their victory over Palace.

Last season Southampton escaped relegation by three points with one of the relegated sides being Stoke City, managed by Hughes for the majority of that 2017/18 season. The Saints got lucky and for some reason rewarded Hughes and his long trusted assistants Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki with long term contracts after initially appointing them until the end of that season.

As we enter December it is a month that really could decide whether they will give themselves a chance of safety or they end up in a total relegation dogfight.

Spurs, Arsenal, Man City and Man Utd are games you can’t see any points being collected despite the current form of those from Old Trafford.

Cardiff, Huddersfield and West Ham – now for us, this has to being a gain of nine precious points given their predicament.

It’s also worth saying that none of these games should be under the stewardship of their former striker, his time is simply up.

The decision making in previous seasons may be coming back to haunt the club this season as they simply couldn’t continue to assume that selling their top talent year after year was going to sustain a place in the top division, but that is a whole other story than that of Hughes and his failings.

Fantastic player no doubt, but a questionable manager who has more than enough chances and shouldn’t be seen in the top division again. It genuinely is time that we seem others given a chance rather than this usual “Premier League experience” appointment should a vacancy arise.

Mark Hughes image is sourced from; www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football

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Monaco – Jardim to Henry

Only a few months ago Leonardo Jardim was one of the most sought after coaches in Europe, now he has been replaced in his Monaco post by a managerial rookie in the shape of Thierry Henry.

Monaco were guilty of projecting this as a 2nd coming of a club legend but it is undoubtedly a gamble with the team currently sitting in the bottom three of Ligue 1, having amassed a measly 10 points from 14 games.

The French legend is finding life in the dugout a struggle, with just one domestic victory and having watched his side blown away in the Champions League group stages.

Jardim-Henry-Image

But to us it’s hardly fair to sack a man when you’ve effectively tied his hands and cashed in on the success without replacing what he has had taken from him.

Since Jardim’s appointment in 2014 he guided a resurgent Monaco to successive 3rd place finishes, before guiding the club to its 1st national championship in nearly two decades at the end of the 16/17 season. Since that title win in May of 2017 Jardim has seen the high profile sales of:-

  • Bernardo Silva & Benjamin Mendy – Man City
  • Tiemoue Bakayoko – Chelsea
  • Fabinho – Liverpool
  • Joao Moutinho – Wolves
  • Thomas Lemar – Atletico Madrid
  • Kylian Mbappe – PSG

How does a coach replace this £400m hole in a title winning squad? (Nacer Chadli wasn’t the answer).

Perhaps the dismissed 44yr old Venezuelan had merely lost his way and was scrambling to replace the outgoing quality.

27 players have walked through the entrance door since that title win, squads need strengthening immediately after any triumph but nearly 30 new players coupled with those departures?!

They are no stranger to highs and lows though it has to be said – Champions League Semi Finalists the season before last and now a certain relegation battle. Also a Champions League Final appearance in 2004 followed by subsequent relegation to Ligue 2 just seven years later.

Back to the present day and ahead of the game against fellow strugglers Caen, French Legend Henry has been quoted saying that he “assumes all responsibilities” for the current run of form. However, he has maybe stumbled upon a turning point thanks to Radamel Falcao’s winner at the weekend provided a welcome relief from draws or defeats.

The French League is undergoing a certain resurgence with strong sides coming from Marseille, Lyon, Lille and of course the powerhouse that is PSG.

Monaco will not want to be left behind and the managerial looks to be no more than a misjudged publicity stunt.

Whereas Henry will scuttle back to the Sky studios if this is not a success, could we see Jardim’s next destination be the PL? Even one day being scrutinised by his severely under qualified replacement!

Jardim and Henry image sourced from; www.marca.com

Scotland Manager – A Nation Awaits, A Nation Expects

Russia 2018 was supposed to be “This Time.” A slogan that the Scottish Football Association decided was suitable for the most recent qualifying campaign, they failed. So who knows what the PR team will come up with for Euro 2020? “Please god! This time, c’mon now it’s our turn” maybe?

Less than a week after the usual high expectation and coming up heartbreakingly short ,the SFA have decide to part company with Gordon Strachan.

There were no excuses because he didn’t have any left to give. Despite the supporting words of other fellow managers in the recent days, Strachan had used up all his lives and had to go.

The 2-2 draw in Slovenia saw the nation miss out on a World Cup playoff place by virtue of goal difference to Slovakia. Of course, the damage was not done in Ljubljana, but earlier in a campaign that had started so poorly.

His departure on the back of a phenomenal 2017 will at least see the Scots climb the world rankings to a respectable position of 29th.

Gordon-Strachan-Image

After nearly 5 years at the helm, Strachan walks away with a win % of 47.5 from his 40 matches in charge. He has a decent record against what you would consider tournament nations, no defeats to the likes of Poland, ROI, Croatia and Denmark, however – like many before him, it was the disappointments of the Georgia’s and Lithuania’s that saw him come up short.

But who can become the first Scotland manager since Craig Brown to get the team over the line?

It is THE question that will preoccupy the minds of Alan McRae, Stuart Regan and other SFA board members, the supporters and the journalists but it’s fair to suggest that with the floundering reputations of those in high profile Hampden positions on the line, it will not be a quick appointment.

Going by the bookies it is a straight decision between David Moyes and recently appointed Interim Manager Malky MacKay for the Hampden hot seat. Most Scots will be dreading either of these men being given a chance. It doesn’t have to be a Scot, especially when the current choices are so poor. Allardyce has ruled himself out, Prandelli has thrown his hat into the ring and they are dreaming if they think they’ll be able to prise Michael O’Neill away from Northern Ireland.

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Scotland need to heed the word from their own national anthem. Flower of Scotland urges them to “be the nation again” and this is exactly what is required. All they have to do is look at other home nations and they’ll quickly realise they are somehow being left behind.

Northern Ireland have recently given international call-ups to players from clubs such as Linfield, Dunfermline, Shrewsbury, Doncaster Rovers and Wigan. In Slovenia, Scotland had the luxury of two Champions League players sitting on the bench.

Wales have a slightly more “premier league” XI than the others, and of course the talent of Gareth Bale to call upon. However a couple of injuries / suspensions and they too are scrambling for replacements.

Strachan’s last excuse was that of “genetics.”

Well Gordon, we’re sorry point this out but the Ireland’s are hardly picking from a freakish gene pool nor have they a single player of anything approaching world class…both O’Neill’s took their teams to the Euros and both have made the play-offs for Russia.

The wait for tens of thousands of Scots to board planes destined for a major tournament continues, 20 years without appearing in World Cups or European Championships is agonising to say the least. The next man has a reasonable squad capable, he just needs to find the right results at the right times.

Gordon Strachan image sourced from; www.thesun.co.uk/sports/football
David Moyles and Malkay Mackay image sourced from; www.thestandard.co.uk

Burnley vs. Palace – The end for De Boer?

You only have to look back to August 2016 to see that outgoing Ajax gaffer Frank De Boer was one of the most wanted men in Europe, look to the present day and immediately to Sunday 10th September 2017 and here he is staring the sack right in the face at Burnley’s Turf Moor.

Three defeats from his first three matches has seen him on the verge of being branded one of the Premier Leagues biggest managerial flops in living memory, certainly not the outcome he or Selhurst Chairman Steve Parish had in mind when he was announced just a few weeks ago.

Fresh from an ill-fated stint in charge during the recent re-branding of Inter Milan he was considered a coup for Palace, rightly so.

A glorious playing career covering some of Europe’s top clubs at the time including spells at Barca, Galatasary and Rangers (the Champions League years and not the league visits to Peterhead).

He was seemingly destined for management and was given the opportunity at his boyhood club Ajax, where 4 titles in 6 seasons propelled him into the gaze of the continent.

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It’s so bad in London that it would appear anything other than a win at Burnley this weekend will see the former defender searching for yet another job but with an even further tarnished reputation.

The players are struggling to adapt to his favoured 3-5-2 system and we can hardly be surprised. For us Palace have to be one of the strangest squads in the division. Players that on their day can be dazzling but most weeks can be frustrating…That’s right Wilfred Zaha and Jason Puncheon we’re talking about you!

Add into the starting XI a post-Newcastle Cabaye, Multi-million pound left footers of Schlupp and Van Aanholt with a backup striker of Connor Wickham and you have an expensively assembled squad of confused proportions.

The Summer transfer window reflects poorly for Palace also, a couple of centre halves and fringe loans recruited from Chelsea and Man Utd would have hardly inspired the dressing room or fans, never mind a new gaffer.

Upon his arrival he proclaimed “I have my own type of coaching and style of playing. We want to be dominant when we can, but also dominate when we don’t have the ball.” Sorry Frank but you’re at the wrong club for that so perhaps this is all just wrong place, wrong time.

Should he be given more time? For us the simple answer is yes, without a shadow of a doubt. Crystal Palace are a club that are desperate to retain their status year on year and if they wish to just simply do that then fine. Get on the blower to Big Sam and give him anything he wants to come back. If you wish to provide your fans with a bit of pride season on season then keep a flourishing manager of the calibre you currently have and look to ship out the players who look to be downing tools because they cannot adapt to a new way of thinking. Guess what lads? You are highly paid professionals and if the gaffer asks you to play wing back and keep the ball on the deck then do so or get yourself up to West Brom with Tony Pulis (maybe we’re being harsh on the baggies but you get the point.)

After Swansea beat his side 2-0, De Boer complained his players lacked courage. “We have to show some balls,” they’ll certainly have to do that at Burnley. As we are all aware Turf Moor is a challenging away ground and with a Sean Dyche team that have made a promising start to the season, it’s not high on the list of places to go for a “must win” and in front of the TV cameras will add extra pressure.

With him being the Eagles eighth manager and just seven years…Is it Crystal clear that the Dutchman will be going?

De Boer image sourced from www.goal.com

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.

England Manager – The FA have chosen

Precisely 25 days since Roy Hodgson sat in a post match press conference telling all of Europe that his time was up as manager of the England team, they have found his successor.

Just over 3 weeks since FA CEO Martin Glenn told everyone “we’re going to harness opinion and wisdom from the wider part of the game, it’s really important that we get this right. It’s really that we get England into a situation where we can build on the strength that we’ve got. I think we’ve got a lot of strength in this squad and taking it forward with the view to the World Cup in Russia. It’s important that we make the right decisions. So we will be canvassing opinions from former managers, current managers, clubs and players to make sure we get wisdom on to this area” to name their man.

It taken less than a month of “looking abroad”, “looking for the best person for the job” and “not ruling out a foreign manager.” To get as far as Sunderland…and appoint Sam Allardyce.

Mr Glenn himself has declared that he is “not a football expert” and whilst that is acceptable he is clearly attempting to rid himself of full responsibility if this goes wrong.

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Now it’s is obviously difficult to predict just how Big Sam will fare in the Wembley hot seat but it is at this stage easy to cast our opinion.

England have settled for what was available at the level they are currently operating on and off the pitch, mediocrity!

Having a look at the positives:-

  • Yes, England will be a more organised unit
  • Yes, England will be harder to beat
  • Yes, he may actually have the bravery to drop under performers not matter which club they play for
  • Yes, he may pick players that suit him and not sponsors or reputations (James Tomkins anyone?)
  • Yes, you would imagine “yes” is not a word he will utter to the top brass at the FA’s every request

Surely though…these are the basics of football management?

Is he even qualified for the job of National Manger?

  • No major trophy win
  • No trophy win since 97-98 (3rd division title)
  • A mere 33.6 PL win %
  • A total of 5 games managed against European opposition (1 win)

England’s failing have been in the cup competitions, they qualify relatively unchallenged from the seeded groups pre any major tournament. You just have to look at the 100% record pre France.

Taking a look at Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham under Allardyce’s command in the last 10 years hardly provides optimism.

Other than 2 League Cup Semi Final appearances where his sides have conceded a bucket load, he is a 3rd round exit specialist, bear in mind that most of these clubs would have entered at this stage and you have a manager who struggles to navigate through knockout football.

Club

Season League Cup FA Cup

Bolton

2006-07 3rd Round

4th Round

Newcastle United

2007-08 3rd Round

3rd Round

Blackburn Rovers

2008-09

N/A

5th Round

2009-10

Semi Final

3rd Round

SF – Conceded 7 to Villa over 2 legs

2010-11

3rd Round

N/A

West Ham

2011-12 1st Round

3rd Round

2012-13

3rd Round

3rd Round

2013-14

Semi Final

3rd Round

SF -Conceded 9 to City over 2 legs

2014-15

3rd Round

5th Round

Sunderland

2015-16

3rd Round

3rd Round

Manchester-City-Semi-Final-Image

Sam Allardyce it has to be said, is a fire fighter and perhaps that is just what the FA need to extinguish the flames created by a group of over-paid, under-performing multi-millionaires at Euro 2016.

There will be a good indication of his credentials very early on in his reign. England are arguably in their toughest qualifying group for a number of years with Slovakia, Slovenian and Auld Enemy Scotland to contend with.

However much the majority of the media dress this up as a fantastic appointment i.e. “how it’s just what England need” and with the  backing from the likes of Sir Alex and Jose etc etc. But let’s be honest…

IT’S ONLY SAM ALLARDYCE!

Sam Allardyce image sourced from; www.thetelegraph.co.uk
Manchester City Club Semi Final image sourced from www.thetelegraph.co.uk

Celtic Manager – Who’s up for the challenge?

It’s all over for Ronny Delia (and John Collins).

The 2nd league title is in the bag but ultimately he is paying for his failings with his job. Delia will no doubt head back to Scandinavia and we’ll be surprised if he surfaces on these shores again.

His inability to clean up domestically and even muster up a passable performance in Europe has proved that he was never the right appointment in 2014. A club the size and stature of Celtic should NOT be taking a manager from Stromsgodset in the first place.

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Peter Lawwell and the rest of the Parkhead board have decide that he isn’t the man to take the club forward next season and with the expected, slightly delayed reappearance of their nearest rivals Rangers it is the correct call in our opinion.

We are going to take a look at the runners and riders for the dugout on the east side of Glasgow:-

Brendan Rodgers

If he’s the man they want they need to act fast. Swansea City are rumoured to be interested in talks to bring their former manager back to the Liberty.

We feel Rodgers would see himself as too big for the job and would almost certainly turn it down in favour of a top flight club in England. Celtic would no doubt play with “character” under the former Liverpool gaffer but it’s not for him.

Neil Lennon

Not going to say much. It’s Neil Lennon, he’d jump at the chance especially as no-one else wants him. Failed at Bolton regardless of the money issues, not a good manager and brings a certain arrogance that most looking in don’t like.

David Moyes

Tough call for Mr Moyes, his next job is make or break. He needs to rebuild a shattered reputation.

He could come and mange the side he once played for, win a couple of trophies over a 2 or 3 year deal. The only thing he would really need to do would be prove better in Europe than Delia.

Could be the safe and stable option for both parties.

Roy Keane

The interesting candidate. Keano would certainly pull no punches and have the respect of the players from the moment he put a foot through the door.

However you can already see the day 5 months down the line…a defeat to Motherwell and a disagreement with the board and he’ll be back on the ITV sofa with Lee Dixon after a dramatic resignation. Think he’s already in the ideal job as ROI’s number 2.

Paul Lambert

Our chosen one. His last 2 jobs just haven’t been the right fit for Lambert. A former player, a champions league winner and European experience to bring to the table. Lower league success down south and would bring that gritty Scottish element that he had as a player. Would be big enough for the challenge with a 3-5 year stay a comfortable timescale.

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Mentions for another couple of the outsiders but men who aren’t quite ready to make the step up go to Henrik Larsson and Paul Hartley. Both have good jobs at this moment in time but we do think they have a big future ahead of them. Don’t be surprised to see either of these be the choice next time around.

The big job awaits someone soon, It’s going be interesting viewing watching how the chosen man goes about re-shaping an already big squad. Celtic need to add quality to progress in Europe and maintain their superiority within their own city. The SPL title is a must, coming 2nd is nowhere is Scotland!