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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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

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.

david-moyes-sunderland

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

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