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)

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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