Paul Pogba – Is he Worth it?

It took what felt like an eternity, but in the early hours of Tuesday 9th of August the new world record fee had been paid for Paul Labile Pogba.

Man Utd have signed a world class player and to seal the deal you need to pay a world class fee.

Paul-Pogba-new-Man-United-kit

A man who was let go by the Old Trafford side just 4 years ago for a reported £800K after Sir Alex took a dislike to demands being asked by Pogba’s representatives.

£89,000,000 was sent between accounts in Manchester and Turin for the French international midfielder with one main question being asked post completion…Is he worth it?

The answer is a simple yes and allow us to explain why.

Since leaving Manchester and making his debut for Juve in Sept 2012, he has been their stand out performer from the middle of the park. His stats for his 4 seasons in Italy make for impressive reading:-

Season Apps Goals Honours
2012-13 37 5 Serie A Title
2013-14 51 9 Serie A Title / Supercoppa Italiana
2014-15 41 10 Serie A Title / Coppa Italia
2015-16 49 10 Serie A Title / Coppa Italia / Supercoppa Italiana

Add into this an unexpected Champions League final appearance in 2015 and 8 high ranking individual accolades and you have a serial winner.

The Premier League is on course to break the £1billion barrier for the 1st time in the current window and with that, it’s fair to say that we live in a world of scary and shocking transfer fees. Take a look at some of the players and attached fees, some of these make the Pogba deal look more than shrewd.

  • Yannik Bolasie £25m – An inconsistent winger
  • James Chester £9m – A defender deemed surplus at West Brom
  • Gonzalo Higuain £75m – A goal scorer but absent in the biggest games
  • All Chinese Super League inbound transfers – Pure madness!

Pogba has matured into a genuine world class footballer and is now at one of the biggest clubs in the world once again. His name will drive up shirt sales, attract new sponsors, gain additional fans and raise the clubs’ profile even further.

£89m will prove a drop in the ocean spread over the next 7-10 years that you’d expect him to wear the red of Manchester. Also combine the deal with the free transfer of Zlatan and you have an enviable summer window.

Paul Pogba is worth every penny paid by Man Utd!

Burnley Manager Sean Dyche gave a frank and honest interview on Talk Sport recently, something we would encourage all to find and listen to. In the midst of Dyche detailing the media fascinations with foreign coaches and training methods he spoke about transfer fees. Burnley cut their cloth accordingly and simply cannot over spend. He stated that an unnamed club quoted a fee for a player but were open enough to tell the Turf Moor outfit to add £2m to the price, purely because they were a Premier League side. Now you could call this jealousy, but let’s be honest it’s just chairmen out to grab a share of the well documented riches. If top tier clubs get top tier money then you’re going to have to expect to pay inflated prices.

Ultimately no footballer is worth £89m and realistically no footballer is worth £20m but the TV money controls the game at the highest level .

Expect the record Pogba fee to stand for a time but certainly not for a long one. You have to wonder who is going to be the £100m player in the not too distant future.

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

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

Ticket Prices; The Cost of Being a Fan

This week has seen the much published Liverpool £77 ticket walk out and subsequent retraction by the club’s owners.

Well done Liverpool fans but I fear it won’t be long until we see and hear the same old story.

Fans are no longer fans in the eyes of most clubs… they are customers.

They care not for the generations of families that have arrived season after season, the children of fans that are born to be future fans or for how much it costs the average person to attend the game they love week in week out.

P160206-090-Liverpool_Sunderland-600x400

I have been to grounds all over England and Scotland, seen some of the best / worst teams and paid anything from £10 to £50 for the privilege.

Play this Primary School game of “match them up” and see if you can get the matches and ticket prices correct (answers at the bottom of the page)

All recent games that I have been to

Game Ticket Price
Scotland v England (2014) £20
Man Utd v Sunderland (2015) £30
Man City v Crystal Palace (2016) £50
Stoke v Sheff Wed (2015) £45
Motherwell v Dundee United (2014) £27

The variances and statures of these games isn’t massively varied in terms of importance or indeed location but as you can see the prices are up to £30 apart.

With the global branding and money TV generates, the Premier League clubs do have a certain luxury that most do not, they will have fans arrive from all over the world and pay the prices just to say they have been to The Emirates, Old Trafford etc.

The envy outside of the top tier is obvious and growing with the imminent influx of the “new TV money” from next season. They however do not help themselves:-

Selected Fixtures For 13th Feb

League One – Colchester v Swindon £27

League Two – Morecambe v Oxford £24

National League – Grimsby v Boreham Wood £18

SPL – Hearts v Patrick Thistle £28

These and most other clubs outside the BPL have thousands upon thousands of empty seats each week, why not charge a lower price and attract more fans?

We all love a couple of pints, food, a programme and this is all before travel and in some cases hotel charges.

Football is now a day out that has to be planned and budgeted for in advance and this is extremely saddening.

As much as we all need to be following the lead set by some of the Anfield faithful against Sunderland we know we can’t stay away from our teams and will generally pay for the privilege to go… win, lose or draw.

Hopefully many Chairmen and boards will be pro-actively looking for solutions in the near future.

Football without fans is nothing!

Bayern-Munich-Fans-at-Arsenal-V2

Answers as promised, were you right?

Scotland v England (2014) £50
Man Utd v Sunderland (2015) £45
Man City v Crystal Palace (2016) £30
Stoke v Sheff Wed (2015) £20
Motherwell v Dundee United (2014) £27

Liverpool fans image sourced from; www.thisisanfield.com
Bayern Munich fans image sourced from; ftw.usatoday.com

Live TV Footy – Are we being entertained?

With the cost we are being asked to pay to watch football on TV these days I think it’s fair to say we expect a good level of entertainment for our hard earned £.

Watching the bore fest of Liverpool v Man Utd got me thinking…Just what are we paying to watch?

united-fan-sleeping

For anyone not a nerd like as myself, the players on show were bought by the North West giants for a combined total of £449M!!

They managed 5 shots on target and a passing averages equivalent of a part time side. Yes there will be the odd 3-3 or as the past weekend has shown a rare 5-4 but on the whole do we feel like we have enjoyed those 90+ minutes with the 0-0’s or “tactical” 2-1’s.

Sky and BT Sport are battling between themselves for supremacy. Major meetings take place to discuss who gets what game and at what time it will be played, bear in mind this is catered for the TV audience and not the fans travelling to the games (another story for another day). The 3 main leagues shown by the TV companies mentioned are The Barclays Premier League, La Liga and the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership.

I’m sure if I asked most to name the most “entertaining” the BPL would be the easiest and possibly most argued for answer. So is this correct?

Below is a basic breakdown of games shown, goals scored, shots on target and red cards dished out. I believe the latter 3 are the key to basic entertainment for the neutral TV viewer.

Premier League Total
Games Goals Shots On Target Red Cards
93 238 894 11
Average 2.5 Goals PG 9.6 Shots PG Every 8.4 Games
SPL Total
Games Goals Shots On Target Red Cards
27 80 248 7
Average 2.9 Goals PG 9.1 Shots PG Every 3.8 Games
La Liga Total
Games Goals Shots On Target Red Cards
141 485 1231 44
Average 3.4 Goals PG 8.7 Shots PG Every 3.2 Games
  • The Premier League gives us the lowest goals to game ratio
  • However does provide us with the most attempts on target
  • La Liga loves a red card with one being shown nearly every 3 games
  • The Spanish game provides us with nearly an additional 1 goal per game and before you ask….Barca & Real have featured in only 20% of the games shown
  • The Scottish Premiership performs very well in comparison, despite being considered “poor standard” by most

Sam-Nicholson-Hearts

So I urge football fans to shun the Swansea v Watford’s of this world and cast your eye to Partick Thistle, Eibar, Hearts and Getafe.

You may be pleasantly surprised in the quality you watch, entertainment it provides and potentially learn a bit more about other countries leagues to impress your mates with down the pub.

Happy watching!

Manchester United fans image sourced from; www.talkingbaws.co.uk
Hearts image sourced from; www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football