What Next for Spurs?

February 9, 2012

Harry Redknapp, manager of Tottenham Hotspur, ...

Harry Redknapp has brought success to spurs that will be hard for any manage to follow up on. Image via Wikipedia

Tottenham Hotspur are certainly the surprise team of this season, followed closely by Newcastle. This leads to the obvious questions that must be somwhere in the minds of their fans; what next? What will happen next season?

Let us presume that they manage to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League, although in reality this is still far from guaranteed.  In theory, this would be fantastic for their progression.

However, it is a well known fact that Redknapp is out of contract at the end of the season, and one cannot blame him for having one eye on the England job. It is questionable that spurs would bring in someone of his managerial quality, and then the future looks rather bleak.

High profile players, that have been the architects of the recent successes, will most likely leave leaving the side pretty much where it usually has been over the past 20 years.

I honestly believe that the reason players such as Bale, Modic and VDV have remained at White Hart Lane is largely due to Redknapp. They can sense the club is going somewhere, they are getting regular football that suits their style and they have a manager they like. These will all change when someone else comes in and it only takes one high profile exit to spark a chain reaction.

The reason behind my presumption that a less good manager will take the job is becuse firstly, Levy is notoriously tight with his purse strings and, secondly, will any high profile manager actually want the job?

Spurs are traditionally a decent side and have a solid history, but any success the new manager would bring would be seen as Redknapp’s. Finishing in the Champions League would be a brilliant way for Redknapp to end his time at the club. Emulating this success and progressing beoynd that point would be a near-impossible job for any mnager, and I’m not sure many would want the risk. It would be like managing Man Utd when Fergie calls it a day.

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Fabio Capello

Does Capello have any regrets?

In recent times the issue of the England captaincy has been widely discussed. For the record, my opinion on the matter is that Terry shouldn’t be allowed to lead his country in these circumstances even if he is innocent until proven guilty.

Capello’s views on the matter have been made rather public, possibly so public he’s inadvertently breached his own contract. This made me begin wondering whether the experienced disciplinarian secretly regrets not hanging up his… er… tactics board? instead of taking the job at the England helm.

He made his mark on football as a disciplinarian, playing what is
often conceived as “dull, boring anti-football tactics”. But when
decisions such as who shall  be his captain are taken out of his hands,
this eliminates the purpose of that role. What Capello didn’t realise
and is just finding out for himself now, is that the England managerial
role is very much a role of playing puppet to the FA and the media’s
spotlight. Two roles that do not fit his personality or managerial
style.

My reasoning here is not only that he’s damaging a near perfect record in the game, which will be damaged further if my nation comes up short at the Euros, but that the England job has often been seen as a poisoned chalice. He’s been questioned by the media and fans throughout his reign, often for things out of his own control. I seriously doubt he anticipated the scrutiny he’d come under when applying for the job and I wonder if he secretly is regretting that move.

He had no previous experience in the English game prior to getting the job, as has been pointed out by many of his critics, so he was under no obligation to answer the cry from the FA when we failed to qualify for the Euros. He was of an appropriate age and wealth, even then, to put his feet up for the rest of his days, do you reckon he’d have wanted to had he known what English football was like?

Starting the Blog again

February 7, 2012

Hello all. It’s been a while, to put it mildly, since I posted on here. I’m writing to say that I am returning to blogging for the foreseeable future and am looking forward to hearing all your views on everything I write about.  As ever, English football will be the theme with most emphasis being on the Premier League or Capello’s men. If there’s anything specific you want me to write about, just let me know and I’ll do a piece as soon as I can.

Regular readers will know that I live in Sweden. What many of you may not know is that in Sweden, for some obscure reason unknown to man, christmas is celebrated a day early. So, to all of you out there celebrating christmas today, happy christmas, and to those of you celebrating it tomorrow, merry christmas in advance.

Yesterday I did part one in my half-time season review.  As promised, today I shall write part two. Remember that you don’t have to be a fan of any of the mentioned teams, I’m just happy for all kinds of comments and feedback. Anyway, without further ado, I shall begin before I feel an urge to go outside and continue snow shoveling.

Sunderland FC

Sunderland

I have been impressed by Sunderland this season. Last season, Steve Bruce did an excellent job at taking the club away from the fear of relegation, and they were a strong mid-table team throughout. This year it appears that he has taken them one step further and they are challenging for Europe. Having said that, there is a long way to go yet in the season, but their home record is good, and they are keeping clean sheets and winning games.

Last season Sunderland had the problem of being over-reliant on Darren Bent. I read a stat somewhere that he had scored 50% of the teams goals. Now, whilst it’s good that they have a proven natural goal scorer among them, there was a concern as to what would happen if he broke a leg. This season, with the additions of Gyan and Wellbeck on loan, the three of them seem to be sharing the majority of the goals. This isn’t an as big problem any more, but I think they may need a defender of midfielder to pop up with a goal or two from time to time.

Badge of Bolton Wanderers

Bolton Wanderers FC

Bolton

Regular readers will know that I’m a Bolton Wanderers fan, so I’ll have to try and keep this quite brief.

Owen Coyle has been working wonders this season for Bolton. Transformed, in only a year, to a team the mixes up free-flowing football with the long ball approach.  Johan Elmander is looking a completely new player , and Stuart Holden has been an amazing find.

One criticism would be the inability to keep clean sheets. This time last year we hadn’t kept a clean sheet all season (this year we boast one which came on the opening day), and last year it was thought that if we kept the ball a little better we’d be keeping shut-outs.  That isn’t really happening yet, but what we are doing is scoring in nearly every game.

Newcastle United FC

Newcaslte United

I must admit, I did not expect Newcastle to be riding so high. They came up with more or less the same squad as they went down with, but without the stars such as Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins.

I thought Chris Hughton was doing an amazing job, so don’t even get me started on him being sacked and replaced by Alan Pardew! I mean, sacking a guy who brought stability to a club when it was most needed, won them  the championship and then left the team in 8th place because he has too little premier league experience, and then replacing him with a guy who’s premier league experience is getting relegated twice is absurd! Ok, I’ll stop there.

On a positive note, Andy Carroll looks the real deal and it will be nice to see if he works well with Wayne Rooney for England.

Liverpool FC

Liverpool

At the start of the season I wrote about Liverpool, and all the trouble they seemed to be in, and whether they could attract stars simply by having a good history. Fears of relegation were always going to be gone by now, but it will be interesting to see what happens to them in January.

They don’t look like they will regain Champions League football, so the likes of Pepe Reina, Fernando Torres and Joe Cole may be off, as was originally thought, but talk has died down on that front. It will also be the new owners first transfer window, and Roy Hodgson (whom I’m glad they’ve kept)  has now had a proper look at his squad and can see what works and what doesn’t. The next move at Anfield will be very interesting.

Blackpool FC

Blackpool

Blackpool have been the surprise of the season for many. Many, including myself, thought they would repeat the fate of Derby from a few years ago.  However, Holloway has got them winning a few games, whilst still playing attractive football.

However, call me a pessimist, as much as I would love Blackpool to stay up I can still not see it happening. Remember Hull a few years back? I can see something similar happening there. They will get found out and it is only so far you can get on pride and passion.

Well, that concludes my Half-time season review part 2. If you have any comments, please put them in the comment section.

And Merry Christmas to you all.

Seasons greetings to all my readers, and fellow bloggers! It’s my christmas break now, so I’m hoping that leaves me with more time and energy for blogging than I have had in recent weeks.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a form of review on each team and evaluate how they’re doing and how they’re likely to fare throughout the remainder of the season. I’ll go from the top of the table as it stands downwards. This review will be in four parts, and I’ll try to do a new one every day.

Manchester United

Manchester United FC

Manchester United suffered a poor start to the season, and many thought this would be a bad season for them. Especially considering Chelsea’s strong start, and the emerging Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. However, few remembered that it is actually quite common for Ferguson’s side to start slowly.

Then there was the whole Wayne Rooney saga. My thoughts on this are well documented, but it appeared that once this was over, their season went right back on track. They were my bet to win the league, and I’m not taking that back. They now stand on top, 2 points, 1 game and +5 goal difference clear of second place Arsenal.

Arsenal

Arsenal logo at the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal FC

People are of mixed opinions regarding Arsenal. I first wrote that I thought Arsenal had turned that corner that is the difference between strong sides and sides that win the English Premier League. However, I then contradicted myself after they had a few poor results.

Whether Arsenal have it in them to lift the much wanted trophy, I do not know. The signing of Chamakh has given them more strength up front, but what the side is missing from being one of the best, is a strong central defensive partnership.

I think this may be a season too soon for Arsenal to win the league, but I can certainly see them giving it a real go next season. Fabianski and the rising Pole (whose name I won’t even try to spell!) seem to have solved the infamous goalkeeping issue at the Emirates Stadium, and Chamakh has given them a new dimension of attack. But next season the like of Jack Wilshere will be better settled into the team, and Wenger may have a defense that understands each other better.

Manchester City

Manchester City FC

Manchester City are the side that find themselves in third place. I’ve written about them earlier on in the season, first questioning their ability to achieve what they want with impatient owners, and then talking about whether sacking managers is necessarily the right move whenever the going gets tough.

There is little else to add to that, other than the fact that I’m pleased that they haven’t sacked Roberto Mancini yet. The reasons for this are mentioned in the entries linked above. If they do finish in the top 4, which I do think they’re capable of, it will be interesting to see what happens from there on in.

Chelsea FC

Chelsea

Chelsea appeared to be taking the league by storm this season, winning their first two games 6-0. Having said that, in recent weeks they are looking rather average (by their standards).

John Terry has come out in recent weeks and said that Chelsea lack depth, and, whilst I don’t think it was wise of a captain to come out and say so,  I agree with him. Injuries to players like Essien, Lampard and Terry himself would hurt any team, but the difference between Chelsea and a side that can/will win the league is that they would be able to carry on playing well and winning, whereas Chelsea have not been able to do that.

Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur FC

Surprise of last season, making the Champions League. Much has been made about whether they will be able to repeat this fate, and their league position suggests that the additional fixtures will be no burden for them. In that respect, I see no reason for them not to pinch fourth spot once again.

On a side not, remember Gareth Bale destroying Maicon down Inter Milan’s right side? It would appear I was right when I suggested that the hype surrounding him was just that, hype, and that there was no way anyone would offer £50 million come January.

Well, that’s part one of my half-season review. Please leave a comment about how you think these five mentioned teams will fare come the end of the season.

English Premier League trophy, inscribed with ...

Who will be lifting the Premier League trophy in May?

Good day all.

As promised,  I will turn my attention to the Premier League in this blog entry. We are in the beginning of December, and the Premier League table is looking incredibly tight, still. It only took a few wins for Liverpool to shoot up to the top half again, and all of a sudden, the disasters about to happen are not about to happen.

So, I’ll look now at who I think will win the Premier League this season.

I do not think it will be Liverpool, Manchester City or Spurs. Spurs are progressing nicely, but I don’t think the title is for them this season. I’ve already voiced my opinions on Manchester City, and I still don’t expect them to win the Premier League this season. Liverpool I think will have to sort themselves out on the field as well as off it if they hope to achieve a Premier League title.

Chelsea were looking the best bet to win until a few games ago. Since then they have lost a few players and picked up some bad results. This, I think, shows that they are not a team that can win the Premier League. True enough, losing players like Terry, Lampard and Essien will have a negative effect on any side, but strength in depth is key.

A side certainly on the up is Arsenal. If I were to pick any side to win the Premier League, out of the established top 6, I would pick Arsenal, simply for their youth policy and their style of football (and also for loaning Bolton Jack Wilshere!). Arsenal are certainly on the up again, and may even be looking at their first trophy in a relatively long time.

I have blogged before on their credentials as title contenders, and I still believe this season might be the bridge season where they start to win things. I predict them to win the Carling Cup, and this will have a huge confidence boost throughout the team. I do, however, think this season is only a bridge season heading back to winning ways, and they’re my early bet to win it next season, but I think this season is a year or two too early.

This leaves Manchester United. They suffered a slow start to the season, and the Manchester United on display at the Reebok Stadium was not one that was on its way to winning the league title. Having said that, I think they’ll just make it as winners. If only for the experience in title winning they have at their disposal. Also, they will be hugely motivated to have won the 19th title, more than Liverpool, becoming the most successful side in English Football history.

My prediction for the top 6:

1st: Manchester United

2nd: Arsenal

3rd: Chelsea

4th: Spurs

5th: Manchester City

6th: Liverpool.

All that, and Bolton going for 7th!

What are your early thoughts on who will win the Premier League title this term? One thing is for certain, it won’t be as one sided as it has been in the past, and as many people thought after a few games this season.

Please give  your opinions in the poll below and leave a comment.

Championship Football

December 1, 2010

Good evening all. Very sorry for not blogging for a few weeks, I’ve been a little busy at work and that looks to continue up to Christmas. I’ve thought of things to write about, it’s just been the old trouble of actually sitting down and writing the entries. But hey! Let’s hope that after I’ve written and posted this article, I’ll be back into the habit of blogging whenever something comes up.

Now then, this will be another entry where I leave the Premier League. Like I said during the last one, there wont be many of these, but bare with me.

I was watching the second half of Leicester City take on Nottingham Forrest at the Walkers Stadium, and within 5 minutes of the second half I had concluded 3 things.

Firstly, my roommate must have become extremely boring since she fell in love with her boyfriend for me to actually find it interesting.

Secondly, football is surprisingly like volleyball.

And thirdly, Leicester were going to win, and Nottingham Forrest were not going to score.

It is the second and third of these points that I shall explain further now, and they are related in one way or another.

Now, I was talking to my friend, who for some reason is a fan of volleyball instead of our beautiful game. I was having this friend explain to me how the game works and how one side can be considered better than the other. She basically went on to say that volleyball is simply about getting the ball out of your side of the court, into theirs, and getting a clean shot. And that’s the order of priority. I came to realise during the Leicester-Forrest game that something similar applies to football.

Is Volleyball similar to Football?

This was also how it was clear that Leicester were going to win. Football at the level of the Championship (with no disrespect meant in that sentence) is a lot more about working together as a team than in the Premier League, where it is more about individual brilliance. It was clear Leicester were going to win as they were pressing better, kept the ball better and looked more of a threat on goal.

This is similar to volleyball in the sense that the first thing you do is gain the ball, wherever on the pitch. The second thing is to get the ball in their half of the pitch, and the general thought is that the more the ball is in the oppositions half, the more often your team will have a clear-cut goal opportunity. With me?

Anyway, back to football.

I think the difference between the Premier League and the Championship is the main reason why teams like Hull, Burnley and this season, Blackpool, have all had unexpected first-rate starts to their first seasons in the Premier League. Brown, Coyle and Holloway managed to get their teams to come up to the Premier League working hard for each other as a unit.

However, their downfall was (or “will be” in my opinion on Blackpool) that they don’t have the individual brilliance to win them matches.

So, football is like volleyball, yet the Premier League is nothing like the Championship. What more daft ideas could I write about?

Let me know your thoughts on these issues below, and feel free to give a suggestion on something related to English Football for me to write about.

Also, please vote on the poll below and feel free to give an explanation for your choice in the comments section.

Changing Managers

November 14, 2010

Manchester City crest

Manchester City have not been as strong as they were expected this season

Happy Sunday all.

I’ll start by praising the Bolton Wanderers performance of yesterday. Since Coyle has come in we have looked a mile better than before with that other person in charge.

Ironically, this brings me to the topic of this article. Remember what I once wrote on Manchester City? I was basically saying that if they keep chopping and changing managers regularly, then they will never achieve any form of success.

I want to write this article to remake that point, and ask the question; is changing a manager a good  thing for a club to do?

As said above, since Coyle came in Bolton have looked a mile better. But will the same apply to Manchester City? Ok, so let’s see what will happen if he is replaced, presumably by someone foreign (not that that has any significance, it just will be).

The new man will want to buy his own players, so he isn’t accused of just bringing success to an already talented squad. This will cost City another half billion quid. The new side will take a while to get going. They will not achieve Champions League football.

Will Manchester City Improve by Sacking Roberto Mancini?

Now, does that sound much different from the story of Mancini? So, if they do sack Mancini, then will anything ever change for them? Will they be stuck as a Europa League team for all eternity?

Also, I heard a stat that Manchester City are on the same points total as this time last season under Hughes. So much for all the money then. Referring back to another of my older articles, it shows the extent to the problems of the modern day footballer, that there is no form of loyalty and they play only for money.

Back to the question though. Should Manchester City sack Mancini? Bringing Coyle into Bolton shows the extent that a new manager can change a clubs fortunes to the good, but should City change their manager?

One would argue along with what I said earlier, that they shouldn’t as they would be stuck in the same loophole for a while, by saying they need consistency. Keeping Mancini may mean that city’s players may get to know each other better etc. and they will be able to get rid of some of those disrupting the team spirit.

But, Mancini isn’t achieving what he “should” be with the resources he has available.

So, to the question, will Manchester City improve by sacking Mancini? My verdict is no. What’s yours? Please vote in the poll below and state your opinion in the comments section.

Good evening all. I apologise for taking a while in writing a new post. I’ve been avoiding the internet since wednesday, as i couldn’t watch the Everton-Bolton game until today (Friday). To any new readers, I’m a Bolton Wanderers fan, I just, usually, chose to write about a variation of topics regarding the English game.

Phil Gartside, the chairman of Bolton Wanderer...

Phil Gartside has announced Bolton Wanderers to have debts of £93million.

Today, however, I will base this post primarily on Bolton, but also on football in general.

I was going to comment on the finances. So, Bolton Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside has come out and said we are now £93million in debt. It is obvious that, even with no spending at all, it will take 3-4 years to completely rid us of the debt. So, a club the size of Bolton is, unfortunately, stuck with the debt.

I will carry on with the article after this next paragraph, it’s just that to keep myself from despair I have to remain positive in this, so we don’t end up going down the same route as Portsmouth FC.

I don’t think that we are in as bad mess as first thought. There will be no need to sell Cahill in January, and even if he does go, Ricketts and Knight have been more than sufficient cover previously. The only money I can see us bringing in in January would potentially be from Ali Al Habsi. Cahill may go in the summer,  then with around 7 players out of contract we will have a smaller squad, and thus smaller wage bill. Plus next season tv rights, which (and whisper this quietly) may be increased from a top 10 finish..?

Ok, so back to English football in general, like I promised.

Bolton Wanderers - soon to go down the league due to debt?

Portsmouth, Norwich, Southampton, Oldham and Charlton all have one thing in common. They were considered Premier League regulars before they were relegated. They were then in some form or other of financial melt-down and have not been seen in the Premier League since. Most of them have even featured in League 1, if they are not there now.

Clearly, the fate of these clubs, and possibly soon my Bolton Wanderers indicates that something needs changing in the finances of the modern game. Clubs the size of us simply can’t afford top players wages, so are now forced to be attempting to avoid relegation every season with around 10 other clubs. This would lead to one possible solution; a salary cap. However, we could end up with players causing Wayne Rooney-style tantrums.

Does the English Premier League need to review its financial state?

Another solution that has been mentioned a lot is possible sending the bigger teams off on some form of European Super League. I’ll tell you now, I don’t think this would be a good idea, as the English Premier League would lose it’s only real connection with the country these days, the fact that it is played in England. It would be like the Game 39 idea..

So, it is rather obvious that something needs changing regarding the financing of English football. However, the trouble with the majority of solutions is either that it would be unfeasible, or that they would lead to the bigger teams and players losing the plot.

I’m going to try something I haven’t done before in this post. I’m going to try putting a poll in this post. Please vote, and comment on what you said and why you said it.

Thank you.

Arsenal crest

Are Arsenal FC a changed side this year round?

Evening all.

Do you remember the post I wrote a few weeks ago, about whether or not Arsenal had turned a corner? If not, please click on this link to read it, as this article will refer back to it.

Today I’m going to comment on whether I was right at the time or not, whether Arsenal FC are a new football team to the one we are used to.

I am referring, of course to the bitterly disappointing result for them at home to Newcastle United.

Now, if a team (or player in Gareth Bale’s case) cannot be deemed world class on one performance, then they cannot be deemed failures on one match either, even if it is a ‘flat’ performance.

But we must now look at two skills that Champions must possess if they wish to win the Premier League.

The first is what made me originally think they had turned a corner; the ability to beat other title rivals. Arsenal did this to Manchester City, and made it look easy.

The second is what is now making me doubt their credibility as champions. It is the ability to beat the ‘weaker’ teams. Now, this sounds stupidly simple, but it is of huge importance. Do you remember a few years ago when Liverpool finished second? If my memory serves me correctly, they only lost twice that season, and did the double over a few of their title rivals, but didn’t win the league as they dropped too many points to ‘weaker’ opposition. So like I said, sounds a simple trick, but carries huge importance.

One must remember that West Brom came to the Emirates Stadium and were 3-0 to the good at one point. So the damage by this defeat could, in the long run, result in far more than three points dropped. If West Brom can go there and give Arsenal a game, and Newcastle can go there and win even though Arsenal dominated the game, then they may lose the fear-factor. This is something that every title-winning side must have at their home ground, if they wish to possess a fortress.

So, have Arsenal turned a corner? The obvious answer is probably the most true, it is still too early in the season to tell, but the sins are there; the good and the bad.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Have Arsenal turned the corner necessary to end their long running hunt for silverware? Please comment in the comment section below.