Tuesday, 30 December 2014

London Calling Part 2

As we reach the end on 2014 here I have another little look at the London clubs and how there doing so far with a fun grading system. 

Premier League
Chelsea - Previously A* NOW A


Only one defeat in the league it looks like a two horse race between them and City. Not looking quite as cut throat as they were earlier in the season, could be the calm before the storm though.

West Ham
Previously C+ NOW B
 

West Ham still looking strong and now with Andy Carroll back West Ham could be in the hunt for European Football. Song and Valencia could well be the deals of the summer.

Arsenal
Previously D- NOW D+

The Gunners still way off the pace in the title race, However Sanchez is taking the Premier League by storm. Wenger does need to still dip into the transfer market next month as top 4 will be tight this season.  

Tottenham
Previously D - NOW C
 

Unbeaten in 6 in the league now, Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen get special praise as without them Spurs wouldn't be anywhere near the top 7.

Crystal Palace
Previously C - NOW F
 

A turbulent season already saw Palace become the first team to sack a manager Warnock went, in steps what looks like Pardew. There bang in trouble and it could be writings on the wall already.

QPR
Previously D+ NOW C
 

At home Rangers are great, away their pretty awful.
Charlie Austin is showing what a quality striker he is and deserves at least an England call up in the New Year. Smart buys for QPR should keep them up but if they keep losing away it's going to be hard.

Championship  

Watford Previously B+ NOW B

Still doing well currently in 5th, keeping hold of Troy Deeney will be key next month though.

Brentford
Previously B+ NOW B+
 

Championship life way easy but now the Bees are on a little slide, they should be proud of their start as I see them staying up with ease but again keeping hold of better players will be key next month.

Charlton
Previously B- NOW D

Slipping backwards now Charlton but their fast start puts them in mid-table which is more then likely where they will end up.

Fulham
Previously E - NOW D

Slowly going up the table but it looks bleak for the West London side. I can't see a late Play-off run with this team.

Millwall
Previously C - NOW D

Slipped into the drop zone now but I think Holloway can somehow keep this bunch up.


League 1 

Leyton Orient Previously F- NOW F
Things have not improved much since the last post, out of the drop zone though, just.

League 2
AFC Wimbledon Previously C- NOW B   
4 Points off the Play-Off positions and with Liverpool to come in the Cup things are on the up.

Dagenham & Redbridge
Previously F- NOW F - 
Bang in trouble now it looks like Hartlepool are locked for bottom, the Daggers need to get their act together and fast. 




Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Brendan Rodgers - Is He All That?


From manager of the year to the worst start in over 40 years, what's gone wrong at Liverpool? Why has Rodgers gone backwards so fast? Is he over-rated and did he waste the cash he got for Suarez?

I'm not a Liverpool fan but I will give my honest opinion. To me Brendan Rodgers had the luckiest season in football last year where everything went for them. Chelsea weren't quite on point, Man United were dreadful, Arsenal were Arsenal, and somehow Man City won it all.

Liverpool played great attacking football the S.A.S (Suarez & Sturridge) people were raving about. Especially with the Liverpool filled football pundits, they were scoring goals for fun. Sterling was playing out of his skin, Gerrard & Henderson in the middle was the best thing since slice bread everything was going right. The only thing was they were leaky at the back. It didn't matter though as they were outscoring them all. However you don't win leagues if you can't defend. We know what happened last year the 'slip', the Palace game and it ended with nothing but Champions League football.

This year though it seems like everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. Starting with the money Rodgers has spent or more to the point wasted. He went around Europe spending cash on rubbish just for the sake of it, and raided Southampton for what turns out to be all the wrong players.

Lovren is having a nightmare, Lallana is not doing it in the big games gets lost, Lambert really? The big mistakes looks like Balotelli, now he could have gone for Bony or even Diafra Sakho but Brendan's ego thought he could master the man named Mario. It hasn't worked so far.

His transfer policy has to be questioned it's clear his defenders are not very good at defending he brought in full backs and Lovren but they seem to still be defending like a pub team and he has now lost faith in his keeper. There's no plan B for Liverpool teams sussed them out last year towards the end and now sides have found them out again.

Gerrard looks defeated now, Sterling can't do it on his own and Daniel Sturridge seems to be injured for what seems forever. The Champions League was a mess and top four is looking hard as Liverpool just look finished on confidence, the cups are there only hope for silverware. Europa League I don't think they will take seriously as the Champions League failed its clear this squad can't fight on both fronts.

Rodgers will be given time as he done so 'well' last season but it's a dangerous game football and itchy trigger finger could reign over Anfield again. 


What's Rafa up too?

Friday, 14 November 2014

London Calling


As were reaching the half way point to the season here I look at the London clubs and how there doing so far with a fun grading system. Based on how the team is performing matching up to season expectations. 


Premier League
Chelsea - A*

 
Still undefeated in the league, Jose has got his side doing the business already. They look like they could win the league by February at this rate.

West Ham C+
 

Running along nicely, at the start of the season Big Sam was favourite to be sacked, he has put together his new look side which sees players like Downing shining and 'fan fav' Nolan out the team which has gone down very well.

Arsenal  D- 


The Gunners finds themselves way off the pace in the title race, Sanchez is doing well but Ozil is out injured and the team have forgotten how to defend. Wenger has to put his hand into them deep Puma pockets again in January or he could miss out on top 4.

Tottenham D -
 

They still seem to find new ways to be average at the Lane, the latest is Adebayor sounding off against the fans at home. Harry Kane has been the bright spark in what has been a dull season so far.

Crystal Palace C -
 

A turbulent start to the season as they lost their manager, Warnock has them where they would happily finish at the moment.

QPR D+
 

Have had a strange season so far, at home the look quite good, away quite poor. Since Rio has been out the team things have improved and the Zamora / Austin strike force is working well. Harry will of course dip into the market again but Rangers are improving so smart buys could see them stay up.

Championship  
Watford B+ 

Rattled through loads of managers so far this season but on the pitch there doing well. Two defeats on the spin is something manager Jokanovic will have to nip in the bud fast or it could be another gaffer in the door.

Brentford B+
 

Riding high the Bees, it seems Championship life easy easy for them. Good home and impressive wins over Derby & Forest in recent weeks shows that this small fish is coping well in the Championship sea.

Charlton B- 


Bob Peeters has Charlton punching above their weight at the moment but can it last? They have though lost only 2 games in the league the best in the division.

Fulham E -


A woeful start saw Felix Magath get the boot, things have improved since now with Kit Symons in the hot seat he will want to guide Fulham at least to the Play-Offs.

Millwall C -

Its what you can expect from a Millwall side managed by Ian Holloway, they will be battling their way through at the bottom of the table for most of the season, but 18th at the minute is fair.


League 1 


Leyton Orient F- 
Things not going well in the league as they sit 20th, the only saving grace is their in the Semi Final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

League 2
AFC Wimbledon C-   
8 Points off the drop zone at the minute and they will take that all day long.

Dagenham & Redbridge F- 

A little closer to the trap door but I expect them to be there most of the season or even lower. They can close the gap over the weekend as they play AFC Wimbledon





Tuesday, 4 November 2014

English sides in Champions League..

A look at the English sides in Champions League action this week.

Real Madrid v Liverpool

 Out of form Liverpool head to Madrid which was always going to be the toughest game of the group. They were given a footballing master class at Anfield by the current European Champions as they won 3-0. Madrid are on a 11 game winning streak in all competitions and I only see that continuing. Liverpool are struggling, Mario Balotelli hasn't lived up to the hype, while Gerrard is struggling this season and it looks like he will be rested, or in other words 'dropped'. There is a clear over reliance on Raheem Sterling, if you keep him quite you keep Liverpool quite. They still can't defend, which cost them their first ever Premier League title. I see Real Madrid winning this 4-0 with Ronaldo scoring the first.

Arsenal v Anderlecht

 Arsenal could practically seal their place in the knock-out stages of the Champions League with a win here. The Gooners snatched victory against Anderlecht last time with two goals in the last two minutes. With Sanchez in fine form scoring 5 goals in his last 5 games, I can see him being on the score sheet once again. Theo Walcott is also back, he may not start but his pace & goals are another option for Wenger up top.

Manchester City v CSKA Moscow

 A win is a must for City here or the repercussions could prove critical. They let a 2 goal lead slip in Moscow and with Bayern to come to Manchester, City will be hoping that there already through, a trip to Roma on match day 6 was always going to be tough. However if City don't beat Moscow all of that could prove irrelevant. I think they will collect all three points and the main man Sergio Aguero to get the first goal.

Maribor v Chelsea

 Chelsea put Maribor to the sword last time running out 6-0 winners, it will be a similar score line here with over 3.5 goals for the blues. Jose hammered the Chelsea fans over the weekend after they got a draw against West London rivals QPR drawing attention away from his teams poor performance. This should be over quite early and then all eyes will be on Saturday as they have a tougher task against Liverpool.


Follow me on Twitter @Sean_FootyMad

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Redknapp v Taarabt


 Once again QPR are making more headlines, but not for their performance on Sunday against Liverpool it's the off the antics that have put Rangers in the lime light. It was a better display against Liverpool but they showed naivety in somehow still losing the game in the 95th minute with a cruel own goal. The defeat leaves them bottom of the table, however all the talk is about a player who was not even in the squad and the manager.

 Harry Redknapp has used Adel Taarabt as a scapegoat to deflect the blame off himself on Rangers poor start. He has also used a load of excuses already this season ranging from, blaming pre-season (going to the wrong place) to players not being fit even though were in mid October and not having enough strikers. QPR have changed their tactics and formation through-out the season and he still does not know his best side but somehow that's not his fault.

 Redknapp has chosen to lash out on the Moroccan claiming that he is 3 stone overweight, not fit to train or even play football at the minute. Taarabt's attitude has not been the greatest at times but the player has hit back claiming Redknapp does not know what tactics he is playing, the coaches do love him and that he is not overweight and wants to play for the club. QPR supporters are split down the middle on the player who has had one hell of a career at Loftus Road. He came in on loan from Tottenham back in 2009 and simply was a star no fan can say he wasn't. His highlight came in 2011 when he captained the side to the Premier League. He has also scored some very special goals too, however he and Redknapp have never clicked.

 Taarabt's been sent out to Fulham and AC Milan on loan but in his mind he believes he should be at a Real Madrid or a PSG by now. He is a skilful player but maybe he has sent the bar a little too high. Harry Redknapp shooting him down is the most passionate I have seen him this season. He has had it quite easy at QPR from the moment he walked in the club. He doesn't really get blamed for the relegation, many fans feel Mark Hughes was the main reason. In the Championship QPR did what they had to do to get promotion and he has had every transfer window to do what he wanted. Now the pressure is on with his job coming under fire in recent weeks.

 The Aston Villa game now is a must win, after a decent performance against Liverpool, Rangers must take that momentum and energy levels in to that match. Especially with Chelsea and Manchester City on the way QPR can't afford to get cut a drift so early in the season. All the talk is of not what's happening on the pitch but the antics off it and shows again that at times its a circus at Loftus Road.

 The question is who will last longer at the club? Adel Taarabt won't be going anywhere until the transfer window opens and Harry Redknapp no matter what he says, his job is still under pressure as the likes of Pulis, Sherwood and Moyes are all out of work. Who will last longer and more importantly will QPR start to focus on a crunch game against Aston Villa next week?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Bottom of the table pressure....

 
 After the International break, the Premier League returns this weekend with a couple of key games near the foot of the table to look at. Bottom side QPR play Liverpool on Sunday, in what’s a must not lose game for Harry Redknapp, before we went into the break QPR lost at West Ham 2-0 in a poor performance which brought out more negative reaction from fans & even the chairman venting his frustration on Twitter.

 The fact is QPR fans can see similar signs to a couple of years ago when they went down, under Redknapp but it was the time Mark Hughes stayed in the job which cost them. He was sacked in late November which didn’t leave Rangers with enough time to really get out of trouble.

 So were in mid October now and Redknapp’s excuses have gone from ‘No Strikers’, to 'no players are fit’ also he had another classic, ‘they should not have gone to Ireland and Germany for pre-season’. QPR also have what seem to be the most first teams coaches in the league. The excuses are running out and with Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester City to play in the next few weeks, QPR are bottom and need a positive result fast as the dark clouds come over Loftus Road names such as Tim Sherwood and Tony Pulis are being mentioned in the rumour mill.

 Still without wins in the league are Newcastle and Burnley who both have home games this weekend. Sean Dyche job is much safer then Alan Pardew’s at this time. Burnley with 4 draws already this season will fancy their chances in getting something against West Ham.

 It’s a high pressure game at St James’ once again for Pardew, Leicester City know it will be a negative atmosphere on Saturday the longer it stays 0-0. The fans want Pardew out they also want Mike Ashley gone too. The negativity could work for this very organised team in Leicester come Saturday. The pressure of the bottom of the league may get to one chairman very soon to cut the cord.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Premier League, Done & Dusted Already?


 Another busy weekend in the Premier League with some cracking goals flying in, so what did we learn?

  • It's Chelsea's title to lose. Jose has got 'his' team, they look strong at home and on their travels he will have a tactic in place to do the business, be it parking the bus or flowing attack. Also you may as well give Costa the golden boot now.

  • Man City still concede a lot of silly goals which this time could let them down.

  • Frank Lampard still has it. 

  • Arsenal, if they were serious about winning the title they have to beat Spurs at home simple as that.

  • Liverpool are finding life without Suarez bailing them out tough to deal with, it will be a scrap between a few teams for the top 4. 

  • Southampton have once again found a few gems in Pelle and Tadic

  • Charlie Austin can score in the Premier League, his fine technique and finish at St Mary's shows that.
  • Manchester United still look sloppy at the back, and the stick Rooney is getting for the red is a joke, questions about him being England captain?! I mean really? 


Champions League

  The Champions League returns this week on Tuesday Manchester City face Roma who have won every game so far this season. Chelsea travel to Portugal and face Sporting Lisbon, after their draw on the opening match day they will fancy their chances here. The stand-out game on Tuesday night has to be money bags PSG facing Barcelona. On Wednesday, Arsenal face the Turkish side Galatasaray after defeat in the first game at Dortmund a win here is vital. However they will be without Ramsey, Wilshere and Arteta but should still have enough to get all 3 points here. Liverpool travel to Basel in a game they should win even though Basel are top of the Swiss league. The holders Real Madrid face Ludogorets who gave Liverpool a run for their money. Spanish Champions Atletico Madrid face the Italian champions Juventus and Dortmund will hope for two wins in two as they travel to Anderlecht.

Friday, 29 August 2014

England - The Media Team

England Squad

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart (Manchester City)

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Everton)

Midfielders: Jack Colback (Newcastle United), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

A quick view on the England team, off the back of a desperate World Cup Roy Hodgson has selected some fresh faces to his England side for the upcoming games against Norway and Switzerland.

We now no longer have Gerrard and Lampard to call upon, and with plenty of injuries Roy has called up a few shock names. Calum Chambers of Arsenal has jumped the under 21s and with only a hand full of games at the Gunners is straight in to the side. Danny Rose, Jack Colback & Fabian Delph were not typos and have made the team.

It's some young blood added to the side which everyone was screaming for at the World Cup. The fact is the young blood England have to use are not international quality. It seems the England under 21 side will never be used as other nations do and progress players through that team as a group. If you have a few decent games it seems your straight in the national side.

In what could easily be called the worst England midfield selection in 6 years, players like Jake Livermore & Tom Huddlestone still can't make the squad. They can keep the ball which England can't do, maybe they're not at a fashionable club.

My point is England have become the 'media team'. Whoever they talk about and boost make the squad. Roy lumped in all the Liverpool players at the World Cup in a system that suited them and hoped it worked like it did at club level. It seems still if you're at a top 5/6 club and have a few good games you're in the team. Even if you have a shocking start to a season (e.g. Welbeck) but you play for Manchester United you get in.

For me Roy is just another yes man. Trying to please all but not really taking England anywhere. Old ideas along with the old boys at the F.A. nothing will change, England will qualify for Euro 2016 the group is to easy to fail. But my point is whoever the press talk and put on the back pages will always be picked for England. They slagged off Ashley Cole & John Terry for months, but then flip back & said they should have gone to the World Cup. They will happily destroy any England manager so does that play on Roy's mind? Does he want to keep them sweet, look at past England managers they have all had a hard time in the English press since they have left the job. 

Hodgson has submitted to public pressure thrown in the youngsters, so they can't slag him off. Rooney being captain makes no difference, he may look more interested in press conferences than Steven Gerrard but the England captain is again more important to the English press than any other country. It will be interesting which player grabs this opportunity as there's plenty of spaces up for grabs in this England side. But when the players from the top 5/6 clubs are fit don't be shocked if the walk back in. England needed to start a fresh after the 2010 World Cup they didn't and nothing will change with this squad. There's also the factor some players would rather be successful at their clubs than country but that is another argument for another day.



Thursday, 14 August 2014

Premier League 2014/15 Preview Part Two

Manchester United
After what was the worst season at Old Trafford in Premier League history Moyes is no longer. In steps Louis Van Gaal a proven big name and winner for a big club. Moyes was not out of his depth but it seemed the players never at any point looked like they were playing for him. So what does LVG have to do? First is get back into the top four, however the United squad has been ripped apart and there's a number of players he does not rate. The 3-5-2 formation is what he wants to go with, Mata, Rooney and RVP will all fit into that, but do United have a defence or midfield for that formation?

Key Man- Juan Mata, United desperately lack a creative midfielder so playing him in his best position behind the striker is a start. He has had an impressive pre season so he should have a much better season.



Newcastle United
The Toon simple stopped playing after January and if they didn't have such a good start they would have been in almighty trouble. Pardew was on the verge of being dismissed but the season ended just in time. He has brought in a heap of players most notably Jack Colback from rivals Sunderland. Pardew needs a good start or the Newcastle fans will tell him exactly what they think of him.

Key Man- Siem De Jong maybe they got the wrong brother last time but this De Jong came in from Ajax and will be the man to replace the goals which Remy put in last season.


QPR
The Play-off winners have vowed to make sure they bring in the 'right sort' of players this time as they returned to the Premier League. QPR have not gone for the big names which cost them so dearly last time. Caulker and Mutch from Cardiff are good young talents added to the likes of Barton, Austin and Faurlin Rangers should do much better. Rio Ferdinand coming in may be one of the best bits of business they did, a player who is more than capable in the 3-5-2 formation Redknapp will go with.


Key Man - Charlie Austin won pretty much every award going at QPR last year, top scorer and he has said he's ready for the Premier League. With Remy's future still a bit cloudy Austin is the main man for goals. Can the former brick layer do it in the big league?

Southampton

Liverpool took apart this side this summer but Ronald Koeman has managed to bring in some players though Pelle, Tadic and Forster so it's not so bad as it seems. However the massive turnaround of players and a new manager can go very wrong very quickly. They should be safe though, just.

Key Man- James Ward-Prowse as one of the few players that actually stayed at St Mary's he I feel will progress this season in the middle of the field.

Stoke City

A solid season for Mark Hughes' Stoke team last time out never in real trouble never looked like getting into Europe. He has added experience with the signing of Bardsley and Sidwell but the deal to get Bojan in may be transfer of the summer.

Key Man - Bojan, the question is asked about the stars from Europe can they do it on a wet Sunday in Stoke? This year we will get a small glimpse of that argument. He has had a good pre season and Stoke are waiting to see what the little man can do.

Sunderland

A strong end to the season saw the black cats safe especially the performances from Connor Wickham. The big money deal to bring in Jack Rodwell from Man City and Will Buckley will give energy to the midfield. The loss of Borini's goals will be hard to take as they have not brought another striker yet.

Key Man - Connor Wickham his end to the season kept them in this league, they have to keep hold of him this summer if not they are bang in trouble.

Swansea

Gary Monk took over the reins at the Liberty Stadium after Michael Laudrup was sacked, he saw out the season with a few bumps on the road. Bony proved a crucial buy as Michu didn't have the best of seasons. Gomis has come in this summer, he may be Bony replacement as some of the bigger clubs sniff around. The return of Sigurdsson will add to an already creative scoring midfield of Dyer, Routledge and Shelvey.

Key Man- Nathan Dyer, if the swans do lose Bony the winger who can chip in with goals will be called upon. He can be very hot and cold though. But for me he is one of the league's most under-rated players.

Tottenham
In the true Tottenham way they spent big last summer and fired a manager. They have to stick with one man and believe in his ideas. Pochettino is the next man on Spurs roulette he knows he needs a promising start or the cycle could start again. They won't get top 4 so top 6 and a cup run will be the road to go down. Europe I think if it's not Champions League for Spurs is just a distraction now. It will be interesting to see if he can get a game out of the forgotten man Erik Lamela.

Key Man- Christian Eriksen probably Tottenham's best purchase last summer the creative Danish international will be the lynch pin of the Spurs midfield.

WBA
Alan Irvine struck gold after leaving Everton's youth team set up for his first Premier League manager role. He already stated he had not seen new striker Ideye play live which gets the alarm bells ringing already. They don't have the best of squads and it could be a very difficult season for the Baggies.

Key Man- Saido Berahino should have more game time this season the under 21 England international scored 5 times last season, West Brom will need him to hit at least 10 this time round.

West Ham
The Hammers have done a lot of business this summer, Enner Valencia was a star at the World Cup and Mauro Zarate will add some much needed fire power up top with Carroll out for four months. Big Sam also added Cheikhou Kouyate, Carl Jenkinson & Aaron Cresswell to an already steady defence. It all will fall on how they start already the fans don't like Big Sam they never have, their patience well be tested to the max this year.

Key Man- Enner Valencia is a massive gamble off the back of the World Cup, big money was spent and he will have to hit the ground running.


So my picks:

Top Six

1. Chelsea  
2. Manchester City  
3. Arsenal  
4. Manchester United  
5. Liverpool  
6. Tottenham

Relegation:  

West Brom  
Sunderland  
Burnley

FA Cup: Manchester United
League Cup: Arsenal

Premier League 2014/15 Preview Part One

Arsenal

The Gunners ended a 9 year wait of a trophy last season with FA Cup success, they added the Community Shield to earlier this month. Now Wenger has dipped into his wallet again and brought Chile star Alexis Sanchez, it's a massive statement for their intentions this season. The buzz around Arsenal is back and their fans feel they could challenge for the title again. They do need to find cover in the centre back position though. 


Key Man- Aaron Ramsey - If he didn't get injured last year it could have been an even greater season for Arsenal, he picked up where he left off and he was defiantly in with a shout for player of the year award. I think he is Arsenal best player and will show it this year. 


Aston Villa
Villa have added experience this summer with Senderos, Kieran Richardson and Joe Cole coming into the squad, along with Roy Keane as assistant manager. It looks set up for him to take the main role if things don't start well for them. Still with a young side but Vlaars performance at the World Cup should give the defence confidence.

Key Man - Christian Benteke his injury last year haunted Villa and nearly put them in the Championship his goals will be more than vital again. 

Burnley
Finished second last season and they were the surprise package to get promotion. Sean Dyche put together a hard working side lead by the sheer amount of goals Ings and Vokes got. It will be a massive task for them to stay in this league but you know they will give 100% every game. 

Key Man- Danny Ings is a poacher and what chances he does get in the top flight he probably will take them. 


Chelsea
Now this is Mourinho's team, his 'little horse' last season did well but now Jose has no excuses. They look strong at the back, in midfield and attacking midfield. Diego Costa will be the focal point up top. The return of Drogba shows what little faith they have in Torres. They're my pick to win the league. I think as the season goes on they will become more 'Mourinho like' and make sure no slip ups to lower league opposition will happen. 

Key Man- Cesc Fabregas the former Arsenal man finds himself back in London and I think his signing could be key. He could take the Lampard role and break into the box late to score, or he may just play centre midfield. Whatever he does he will want to prove he doubters wrong who say time at Barcelona was a flop. 


Crystal Palace 
Palace stayed up with quite ease in the end, once Pulis came in they looked stronger and pulled off some very big results. Beating Chelsea and virtually ended Liverpool's title hopes come to mind. But now he has gone due to lack of ambition from the board. They haven't really strengthened the squad much only real notable player coming in is Brade Hangeland. They lost out on quite a few names. His departure so close to the season is a massive blow.

Key Man- Mile Jedinak the captain rose to the challenge of Premier League football and was the rock of their midfield which aloud the other more skilful players to express themselves further up the pitch. 


Everton 
In what was Everton's most impressive season for years they looked like a team that had the training wheels taken off and went for it. Martinez style of football has followed him his whole career, now with probably his best squad he has worked with he could take them that one step further, be it breaking the top 4 or winning a bit of silverware. 

Key Man - Romelu Lukaku they have now brought the star from Chelsea and his goals where massive last season and is a power house forward who suits their style of play. 


Hull City
FA Cup runners up meant Europa League football at the KC stadium, how they cope with Thursday / Sunday schedule will be new for Bruce. He has though brought in numbers to the squad for their busier season. The main aim will be of course to stay in the league. 

Key Man - Tom Ince after travelling up and down the UK he has found himself at Hull. He has to get his head down and show what he can do, he hasn't progressed from his time at Blackpool so his time is now. 


Leicester City 
The Championship winners and fully deserved will feel they have enough to stay up this season. The Foxes have good owners and a good manager, up front is where it could be a problem as Nugent, Woods and Vardy don't strike me as Premier League quality. 

Key Man - Mark Albrighton came in from Villa and his experience and goals from the midfield will be helpful. 


Liverpool
After the cruel way the reds missed out on the title things got worse in the summer as Suarez went on the attack at the World Cup. His Liverpool career ended there and he got his move to Barcelona. They have done I feel a Tottenham and collected as many players as possible, but the majority have played in the premier league before. Liverpool went so close to the title which was theirs but they conceded far too many goals which basically cost them in the end. I don't think Liverpool will have as good a season because United and Chelsea won't be as bad, the loss of Suarez and you always know how Rodgers will play, so what's his plan B? Champions League returns to Anfield which is a bonus. 

Key Man - Daniel Sturridge is now the prime goal focus can he get as much as he did without Suarez laying them on a plate for him? 


Manchester City 
The Champions were probably the best team all round last season and deserved their second title in 3 years. I still think improvement is needed in Europe but they are now without a doubt the team to beat in England. I think they will just lose out on the title this year. They had to get some defender's in Mangala and Sagna should fit in well.

Key Man - Vincent Kompany is the heart of the defence and maybe the club. Without him on the pitch they look like they have never defended together. He's so key for them and after the summer of Yaya forgotten birthday City fans will rely on the captain who they know they can trust.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Football League Preview and Picks 2014/15


It's known as one of the hardest leagues in Europe easy to slip into hard to get out of, the 'English Championship'.18 of the 24 teams have tasted Premier League football which 3 will be the lucky ones to return to the top table. 

From the 3 sides that went down last season all could make a challenge to get back up at the first time of asking. Cardiff City who won the league last time they were here have brought in Le Fondre & Macheda but the losses of Caulker, Campbell, Mutch & Medel could be more of an issue. Norwich City I think are in the best shape to return. Their team on paper already is stacked with players who are more than capable of doing a job in the Championship. Hoolahan, Johnson, Howson & Pilkington should control most games from midfield, Grabbon will also get a lot of goals in this team. If Gary Hooper decides to turn up it could be a partnership like Ings & Vokes of Burnley last season, look how that ended.

Fulham were the third team to go down it will be interesting to see how they cope after an extended stay in the Premier League. Now with a young squad, Eisfeid is a good signing from Arsenal and the likes of Taggart, Dembele & Woodrow should get more playing time. The pressure will be on Ross McCormack with his £11m price tag over his head an instant return to the top league will be the only way to justify that ridiculous fee. I don't think they will make it though. Derby felt that heartbreak of the play-offs McClaren's men will be hoping to go that one step further. They have kept pretty much the same team that were beaten by QPR at Wembley Stadium and the manner of the loss is all the momentum they will need this season. 

Nottingham Forest were a tip I would have gone with and had a good chance of a play-off spot with Pearce in charge. However it looks like off the field antics could once again distract Forest. Wigan were a popular pick last season especially for the play-offs but they lost out to QPR in the semi finals. Uwe Rosler has a tag of a quality manager, he did well in League One but he has to prove he can take this very talented Wigan side up now for me to be impressed.

There's always a team that take the momentum of promotion the previous season to the next level, I think Wolves will be that team. They are too big for League 1 and with Kenny Jackett at the helm a manager who knows this league well they should have a comfortable season.

Blackpool look doomed really with a hard summer trying to find players you have to say they look like their heading for the drop already. Same goes for Brentford a team that were too good for League One with their brand of football, but its quite a leap as the those Premier League clubs slide down their home form will be key to their survival and if Mark Warburton can cope with the Championship as its a league were even the most trusting of chairman get itchy trigger fingers. I must add though scoring goals in the Championship gets you far so Blackburn and Watford could have good season with Rhodes and Vydra respectively. 

Millwall & Charlton tend to struggle most season but do just enough to escape the drop. Leeds were treading on the thinnest of thin ice last season, if it went on a few weeks more they could have gone. Play-Off winners Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield will be in the mix too.

So my picks, for the Championship

Promotion:
Norwich
Wigan
Blackburn (Play-Offs)

Relegation

Blackpool
Brentford
Rotherham

League One

Promotion:
Preston North End
Peterborough
Sheffield United


Relegation:
Port Vale
Rochdale
Gillingham
Walsall


League Two 

Promotion:
Portsmouth
Luton
Northampton
Southend

Relegation:
Exeter
Morecambe







Tuesday, 15 July 2014

World Cup Review


Here's my review of the World Cup, slightly different as I have gone for a A-Z look at the tournament. First though my team of the tournament.
 
World Cup Team Of The Tournament

G.K -  M. Neuer
R.B -  P. Lahm
C.B -  M. Hummels
C.B - R. Vlaar
L.B -  D. Blind
C.M - T. Kroos
C.M - J. Mascherano
A.M - J. Rodriguez
A.M - L. Messi
A.M - A. Robben
F -     T. Muller

Top 3 Goals of the World Cup: 

1st James Rodriguez v Uruguay 
2nd Robin Van Persie v Spain 
3rd Tim Cahill v Holland

Player of the Tournament: 

Thomas Muller 

A-Z

A-  Anthems - Iv never heard them sung so loud and proud especially the second verse of Brazil's one, the Argentinians going mental even the mascots got stuck in.

B- Biting, Suarez again leaving a mark on a player. He once again shamed himself, his country and done over Liverpool without even playing for them.

C- Chile fans invaded the Maracana Stadium, invaded Brazil sung their hearts out their fans were one of the best for me.

D- Dancing Celebrations, I think Columbia and Ghana stole the show with theirs.

E- Extra Time, a lot were boring but the USA v Belgium one was one of the best I have ever seen watching football.

F - Fans so many flooded in from all corners of the world with no real notable trouble at all. The experience of fans parks on the beaches visually looked great.

G- Girls, how many close ups did we get each game? I think the cameramen should be recognised for their excellent work here.

H - Howard, what a performance by the US keeper in the Belgium game was unlucky to be on the losing side after making the most World Cup saves in history.

I - Injuries the World Cup was hit with injuries to stars before the tournament, but Neymar, was the biggest in tournament casualty.

J- James Rodriguez became a REAL star with 6 goals the stand out, a chest and left foot volley against Uruguay. he wants to go Madrid now, I think if they want him they will get him.

K - Klose became the top goalscorer at World Cups with 16 a true legend of the game.

L - Luiz, Chelsea got £50 million for him from PSG, YES £50 MILLION!

M - Messi was just Messy, he was good, but couldn't quite drag his team to be named with the Maradona's, Pele's and Zidane's of the footballing world.

N - Neuer there's no doubt he's the best keeper on the planet at  the minute.

O - Ochoa, the Mexican keeper and the third keeper on my list his heroics against Brazil was a highlight for me.

P - Paul Pogba had a fine tournament, teams are chasing him even more now, he will one day become the best midfielder in football.

Q - Queens Kiss - remember Mario Balotelli wanted a kiss from the queen if Italy beat Costa Rica. They didn't and he got no kiss.

R - Recife Rain on the day of USA v Germany the havens opened and flooded the streets and public transport stopped, thousands missed the kick off but FIFA chose not to delay the game.

S - Spain, the tiki-taka football was well and truly put to bed this summer.

T - Technology goal line technology made its debut and apart from a France game confusion (which was more down to the commentator over reacting) it worked well.

U - Underachievers, England, Spain and Italy were the ones who will look back with disappointment.

W - Water breaks, new to football, well official ones and L.V.G used his to make tactical changes and help his side get past Mexico.

X - Xherdan Shaqiri a left footed hat-trick at a World Cup finals something he will never forget.  
 
Y - Yellow, so much yellow everywhere, every game, yellow.

Z - Zuniga the Colombian defender will be remembered for the knee that broke Neymar's back and many Brazilian fans hearts. 

Hope you enjoyed this World Cup as much as I did.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

England v Uruguay - Rooney is big time, now it's time to show it


England take on Uruguay tonight in a vital World Cup game, the loser goes home. It's a massive game for England but for Wayne Rooney it is his biggest game in the three lions shirt. Pressure & criticism are firing at him from all corners. He doesn't do it for England, he has not scored at a World Cup he gets the most stick from the fans by a mile. 

But for me Rooney is England's best player, he is also the only player who has been anywhere near world class (including club form) in his career. He gets stick because of jealously. He plays for Man United, he has won most trophies in the game, and scored some memorable goals. 

For strikers they have to be loved. Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo and even Suarez are all loved by their nations, for England we try to belittle are stars the best way we can. Thierry Henry said this week 'play Rooney in his best position & he will deliver you need to love him'. He knows something about scoring goals. Rooney's best position is up front or behind the forward down the middle. England made the mistake of pushing Scholes out to the doomed left position during his time and he got fed up. It looks like Rooney could be getting the same treatment. Raheem Sterling had a great game against Italy but I feel he can be just as effective on the wings. Play Rooney in his best role and I believe he can do the business on the big stage tonight and finally silence his doubters.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

England World Cup



A few quick fire points on the National team as Brazil is only a week away.

  • Rooney has to start in the first game against Italy, he's the only player England have anywhere close to World Class. People slag him off but I think this tournament he will do the business.

  • I can see Hodgson playing it super safe in the first game, I would not be surprised if he goes reliable dogged players first, rather than young flair players, and make sure they don't lose the first game. 

  • England have a problem if Jagielka or Cahill get injured because Smalling and Jones are not as good yet.
I think this will be England's line up in the first game against Italy.



                                Hart 


          Jonhson    Jagielka     Cahill      Baines  
             
                Henderson   Gerrard   Wilshere
 

                  
                    Lallana  Sturridge   Rooney

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

QPR Back to the Premier League


QPR had one aim this season get back to the Premier League and by hook or by crook they done it. Rangers were expected to win the league, if not at least come second. But a season of ups and downs it all came down to the gamble of the Play-Offs. Wigan in the semi finals, most people favourites, because of their Wembley experience. What Harry Redknapp done though was get his team tactically bang on for three massive games.

The first at the DW Stadium he played a team that 
1. Don't Concede. 
2. Don't lose the game. 
3. If you can score grab a goal. 
4. If you can't score don't worry just don't lose.

Which is exactly what happened. 0-0 Back to Loftus Road, Wigan took the lead early which meant QPR had to go all out. With the fans behind them they dominated Wigan and deserved their extra time win via Charlie Austin who won player of the year, fans player of the year, goal of the season and any other award going. 

So in the final it was Derby County, this young side full of promise, pace and excitement. Steve McClaren was suppose to know QPR inside out after his 3 month spell at Loftus Road earlier in the season. On the big pitch of Wembley their young legs were going to rip QPR apart surely? They were made the favourites, but QPR's experience came through in the end. They kept their heads and after going down to 10 men they got the job done in dramatic style.

Football can be cruel, and this was cruel on Derby they were the better team but they could not break down QPR. Rob Green, Richard Dunne & Joey Barton put in big performances, when in mattered the most. It was a goal from a striker who has had his critics that won it in the end. People moan about the money he's getting, and he spent a lot of the season injured but ask any QPR fan for the last 3 months of the season off the bench Bobby Zamora has been a star.

At Wembley he got his moment, Junior Hoilett wiggled past two Derby defenders and put the ball in the middle, Richard Keogh's slice, pass, panic whatever it was went to Bobby's left foot and he lashed it in the the top corner. Time stopped Derby players fell, their fans cried & the QPR end erupted. It was so last in the game I feel it was shock that Rangers managed to score killed Derby and Rangers fans pinched themselves 'did this really happen'?.

Somehow with 10 men at the national stadium QPR done it. They have their haters in football on how they do business but a lot of it is jealousy. Harry Redknapp is not popular with many football fans, Barton is clearly not the nations most popular player but it was a real two fingers up at his doubters as he lifted a Cup at Wembley Stadium not many players can say that.

QPR did what they had to do, it was a long season but in the style and manor they done it, it was something the long suffering Rangers fans will never forget.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Premier League Review - Liverpool Blew It, City Won, Chelsea should have done it & Moyes Killed it.

After a season of highs and lows I look back at what will be an unforgettable season for many sides but for all the wrong reason. To start off let's look at the new Champions Manchester City.

In true City style they made their fans wait till the last day of the season to seal up the league, but really they shouldn't have even been given this gift. They had the best squad, but after the defeat to Liverpool then draw at home to Sunderland it looked over for them. However City won the last 5 and showed they do have the bottle to see out a title challenge. Unlike Liverpool who were so close to their first ever Premier League title. The Reds started to believe, they started to dream, they couldn't let it slip, but sadly they did.

It may have been the two buses by Chelsea that hit them hard, but in reality it was the leaky defence that finally sealed their downfall. Liverpool have been the most exciting team going forward but sides know you always have a chance of stealing a goal. 3-0 up at Palace cursing to a win they went to chase the goal difference, only thing they screwed it up and let in 3 the other end. Even if the other team get it back to 3-2 you must have your wits about you to at least make sure you get the 3 points but it wasn't meant to be. It was whatever you say a great season for them. Rodgers took a team from 7th to 2nd. His aim was Champions League but as the season went on the expectations were raised you could see how Gerrard wanted it so much. You could see in his eyes, in interviews this was the season if ever to do it. Sadly it looks like Gerrard may be one of the Premier League greats to never actually win the title.

Chelsea managed to get 3rd without even having a decent striker, they were my pre season pick and if Jose can quite comfortable get a team top 4 pretty easy and stay in the title run pretty much all the way if he does find a few strikers, he might get it right. Arsenal got top four like they normally do, looked like winning the league for some time in the season like they normally do, came out of the Champions' League group like they normally do, but the 9 year pain is over. Arsenal winning the FA Cup is a massive kick up the backside they needed and more importantly Wenger. He now must build and buy to capitalise on this momentum in the summer.

The story of Manchester United will go down in history the man who Sir Alex handpicked failed dismally. It was United's worse season in the league ever. He shattered so many records its untrue. He panic buys a player who United didn't need he clearly lost some of the players (What club captain organises a new deal mid season) and some players maybe didn't believe in him in the first place. When he was sacked no United player come out and said anything, maybe they weren't fussed to see him go.

Ryan Giggs saw out the season just to cover the cracks but it was one to forgot for United fan's and with no European football next season all eyes will be on a full on attack for the League, top 4 is a must for the new manager. On the flip side Everton had a great season Martinez guided them to 5th & played football how Moyes' never did, also Ross Barkley shined this season. How did Moyes not see potential in him and went for Fellaini? Tottenham sold Bale, spent a heap of money sacked a manager didn't do as well as they should have done in the cups. They got a interim manager & then sacked him, classic Spurs, classic Levy.

Southampton started the season very well, they reached 40 points easy then took their foot off the gas. The English players excelled but how many of them stick around for next season will be interesting. Mark Hughes guided Stoke to their highest league position deflecting some of the negative reputation he carried from his time at QPR. 10th were Newcastle, middle of the road who started well but once Cabaye left they lost their way massively. They lost 7 of the last 8 games of the season and the fans have well and truly lost faith in Pardew. He managed to even keep his job after head butting Hull's David Meyler, but as much as the Geordies hate the 'Cockney Mafia' they won't be going anywhere soon.

Crystal Palace looked dead and buried before Pulis came in and he quite simply preformed a miracle. Not only did he keep Palace up quite easily in the end, he managed to beat Chelsea, ruin Liverpool's title bid and got Premier League manager of the year. In his short time at Selhurst Park he showed what a very good manager he is.

Swansea parted ways with Michael Laudrup early in the year and brought in Gary Monk no managerial experience but a club legend. It looked a bit sticky at times but a 12th place finish saw them stay up with no really issues. For the other team in Wales it was a completely different story. Cardiff got rid of Malky Mackay well Vincent Tan did, this didn't go down to well, along with changing the clubs colours things were on a slippery slope from the get go at Cardiff. They had waited so long to get to the top flight but they have well and truly messed it up. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer couldn't save them, his lack of Premier League managerial experience was shown and the blue birds finished rock bottom.

Going down with them are Fulham, who hired and fired what seems 9 different managers this year. They got rid of the MJ statue too and it all went wrong. A team that have been pretty abysmal away from home for many years it shocks me they haven't gone down sooner. A club who conducts themselves like this deserve what they got Championship football. Norwich were the 3rd team to go down. Houghton pretty much lost the fans early and stayed for too long their run in was impossible, so in came Neil Adam's who had no chance, they lost 6 of the last 7 but I feel that this team could quite easily come right back up if they get the next manager spot on. WBA, Hull & Aston Villa all breathed a sigh of relief as they stayed in the top flight, Hull had the cup final to shout about but for the others it was a pretty forgettable season. Sunderland were another team that looked done and dusted, but Gus pulled of a stunning run of drawing at City, beating Chelsea, Cardiff, WBA & Man Utd which got them over the line. West Ham stayed up with ease but I don't think the hammers faithful are too keen on Big Sam sticking around next season.

So in all I feel this season will be remembered for Moyes completely failing at Man Utd, Liverpool blew what was a excellent chance of winning their first ever Premier League title. If Chelsea bothered to buy a real striker they would have won this league & Man City may well dominate football in England for a very long time.