Category Archives: Club Reports

Manchester United is the new Everton

Man without a plan?
Man without a plan?

For most of the season David Moyes has looked like a rabbit caught in headlights. There has been the wide eyed stare, not knowing what way to run or which direction to turn (okay, so from what we have seen, not much turning has been going on, just a lot of crossing), the indecision and being flattened from the speeding juggernaut– oh wait that just happened – I think it was called the 3-0 lost to Liverpool.

But, if you think about it, David Moyes is actually doing pretty well. If you look at what he achieved with Everton, he is bang on track for a successful season:

  1. Finishing in the 8
  2. Lack of success in any cup competitions
  3. Not qualifying for Europe
  4. Relying heavily on Marouane Fellaini for…well, not sure what
  5. The inability to win a game
  6. Placing god like status on Wayne Rooney
  7. Making questionable decisions in the transfer market:

Continue reading Manchester United is the new Everton

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David Moyes puts on a brave face but needs to start facing reality.

David Moyes feels the pressure
David Moyes feels the pressure

When David Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson many believed it would be business as usual – teams would come to Old Trafford expecting to loose, Robin Van Persie would be the leagues leading goal scorer and the team would be top of the table and 6 points clear by Christmas.

But something has gone horribly wrong, instead we find a team closer on points to the relegation zone than they are to the top of the table, have lost more games so far than they did for the whole of last season, goals are not coming easily and it is Arsenal who are 5 points clear at the top of the table going into the busy Christmas schedule.

Continue reading David Moyes puts on a brave face but needs to start facing reality.

Can Southampton main their status as this seasons Premier League Shock team.

Southampton FC
Southampton FC

Every year the usual ‘top 5’ teams have to deal with an uninvited guest. You know the kind, the annoying friend who shows up on the door step and invites their way in as you desperately turn to your significant other with a despairing look of ‘why are they here, did you invite them, and how do we get rid of them’?

This year’s uninvited guest is Southampton. Southampton is thought of fondly by most people. They are normally either being relegated or fighting relegation. They are the team that neutral supports feel sorry for, wishing they could do better and the team where managers of other teams know they can go on a trip to the seaside and come back with 3 points.

Continue reading Can Southampton main their status as this seasons Premier League Shock team.

The transfer window slams shut on Man Utd

Marouane Fellaini signs for Manchester United

Man United, up until recently one of the most respected clubs in Europe, overnight have turned Manchester United into a laughing stock thanks to their shambolic display in this summers transfer window.

Given that the transfer window is only open twice a year to sign new players for a club, it would be expected most managers and chief executives get themselves organized to hit the ground running when the window opens at midnight on the last day of the season (and ends on August 31st if a working day).

For Manchester United manager David Moyes and the Chief Executive Ed Woodward, this plan did not come to fruition or it seems, even make it to the table.

Having wasted the summer chasing players they never stood a chance of signing, thinking they could get clubs to cave in and sell players to them for less than they were worth. Along with missing purchasing players when they were available on cheaper buyout clauses, and making insulting offers for players from Moyes previous club Everton, they finally concluded the farcical display by signing midfielder Marouane Fellaini with minutes to spare.

Given the team were desperate for two creative midfielders, the team will now surely struggle considering their closest rivals have brought in some phenomenal talent to make up for their shortcomings last season.

Quite how this situation was aloud to materialize is the question many Utd fans are now asking, many are said to be furious with the clubs lack of new signings while many others are asking for Woodward to be fired.

The next transfer window opens in January, but by then it may be too late to rectify the damage that has already been done to Manchester United’s hopes of retaining their Premier League crown.

Image source: mirror.co.uk

For David Moyes the honeymoon is over

Life was never going to be easy as the new coach at Manchester United, but these past few weeks have given Mr Moyes an insight into just how tough life will be.

Wayne Rooney

First off there is the debacle also known as Wayne Rooney. Quite why the petulant child thinks he is the be all and end all of Manchester United is beyond all comprehension for anybody to understand. He is by far the most overrated footballer in the Premier League, and it is now clear that he is no longer the clubs most prized asset.

He was said to be “angry and confused” by the managers’ statement that he is now second choice to Robin Van Presie. Mr Moyes stated “overall my thought on Wayne is, if for any reason we had an injury to Robin Van Persie, we’ll need him”.

Talk about opening up a huge can of worms, but perhaps it was a can that needed opening and we can all move on, including Mr Rooney – away from Old Trafford. Mr Moyes is due for show down talks with him over the next few days.

Injuries

It’s not even the start of the season yet and the list of injured players at the club is more than any manager would like to see. Anymore injuries and Mr Moyes will start having some serious problems come August 17th – the day when he will want to hit the ground running with a full squad at his disposal.

Signings

My Moyes biggest headache by far is the need to bring new players to the club – midfielders in particular. This was not helped when his main target(s), Thiago Alcantara, opted to join Bayern Munich, Kevin Strootman decided to sign a contract with Roma, and despite offering Barcelona £32 for former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas still no deal has been done. The need for a new midfielder was desperately obvious last season, but they are fast running out of time. So far the club have yet to make any marquee signings.

Mediocre Results on tour

And finally – the clubs three-week pre-season tour, which took in games in Bangkok, Sydney, Tokyo, Osaka and Hong Kong, which produced some very mediocre results (two wins, two loses and a draw) including a 1-0 loss to Singha All Star XI.

Moyes has been in the job for only three weeks and has yet to manage a first competitive match…we wish him well.

David Moyes Dives in at Manchester United

David Moyes takes over at Manchester Utd.
David Moyes takes over at Manchester Utd.

This week saw David Moyes arrive at Old Trafford with his trusted lieutenants at his side and begin the unenviable task taking over from Sir Alex. There is no such thing as dipping a toe in to test the temperature of the water, more like having to dive in headfirst without even having time to take your socks off.

Firstly – bring over your coaching staff – Steve Round, as assistant manager, Jimmy Lumsden, coach, and Chris Woods, goal-keeping coach –from previous club, Everton. “I have worked with Steve, Chris and Jimmy for a number of years and I am delighted they have decided to join me at this great club,” said Moyes.

Next, promote Manchester United legend, Ryan Giggs, 39, into his first coaching role as player/coach, and appoint former Man Utd player, Phil Neville, 36, as first team coach.

Then deal with the futures of Wyane Rooney, Captain, Nemanja Vidic (who has 12 months left on his contract), and Vice Captain, Patric Evra – it is rumored all three may leave the club.

On Thursday meet the team and take charge of the first training session with the new players. And finally on Friday – take part in the first press conference and begin to feel the enormity of how much pressure the new role will bring, while facing a room packed with journalists and tv crews, who will broadcast every word globally.

Next week will be a little easier – Wednesday, jet out with the team for what will be the longest tour in the clubs history, covering 23,260 miles.

On August 11 (after matches in Sweden, along with a Testimonial game for Rio Ferdinand being thrown in there), try and win the first trophy as Man Utd manager against Wigan at Wembley Stadium in the Charity Shield.

Then and only then, on August 17th, take charge of the first Premier League game, on August 17th, away against Swansea.

And if that isn’t enough try and deal with the pressure that comes with having previous manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, in the background, who has promised to try and keep out of the way to relieve some of the pressure.

Lets hope Mr Moyes is good at holding his breath while swimming, it maybe a longtime before he gets chance to come up for air.

The curse of Everton

 

 

Everton celebrate their victory against Man City
Everton celebrate their victory against Man City

What is it with Everton, the perpetual party poopers. Last year, on April 22nd, their shock come back from 4-2 away to Manchester United to draw 4-4 arguably cost Man Utd the title.

At the end of the season Alex Ferguson was quoted as saying “If I had to pick out one single match where we lost our title it would have to be that game”

This year they have done it again, this time to Manchester Utd’s noisy neighbors, Manchester City. Coming into the game on Saturday March 16th City trailed Utd by 12 points, and only a win would do. However, Everton were in no mood to hand over the points and comfortably beat the champions 2-0, a result, many believe will signal the end of Manchester City’s attempt to close the gap.

Everton and their manager David Moyeshave won five of the past seven Premier League matches against Manchester City since Italian manger Roberto Mancini took over in December 2009. This means that Mancini has lost more times to Moyes than to any other manager in the league. One can only guess that Moyes has a point to prove, and prove it he does extremely well.

With a squad costing a fraction of what City’s cost to assemble, the man of the match was Everton’s Seamus Coleman. He cost $90,000 from Sligo Rovers and set about stifling (with huge success) the $200m worth of midfield and striking talent that Man City threw up against him.

Mancini is determined to cut the point’s deficit ahead of next month’s derby against Manchester United, but with a result like this, the championship may already be well and truly over.

With Mancini too angry to talk to the press after the game, the post-match interview was left to Cities assistant manager, David Platt. When Platt was asked what the manager was so angry about, he calmly replied “everything in general”.

As for Everton, the result cemented their status as the team nobody likes to play – especially if its springtime and you are in contention for the title.

Photo: eurosport.du.ae

Chelsea fans hit back

It remains to be seen how long Chelsea ‘Interim’ manager Rafael Benitez remains in his current role. After his outburst last week regarding his ‘Interim’ job title some thought he would be lucky to be in the dug out to take charge of the team against West Brom on Saturday, March 2nd, 2013.

But make it he did despite the continued vocal and visual protests by a large section of the Chelsea fans. No sooner after guiding the team to a 1-0 victory bets were again being taken as to when he will leave and who will replace him – not a job many will want given the current circumstances at the club – with the new manager facing a desperate up hill battle to appease pretty much everyone involved with Chelsea FC.

Poor Mr. Benitez has done nothing wrong, well, apart from the comment he made about Chelsea fans back in 2007 while in charge of Liverpool. Prior to a European Champions League tie against his future employers, Benitez commented –

“We don’t need to give away flags for our fans to wave – our supporters are always there with their hearts, and that is all we need. It’s the passion of the fans that helps to win matches – not flags.”

At the time I am sure he never envisioned that one day he would be the manager of Chelsea Football Club. Ever since he took on the role at Chelsea back in November, 2012 his life has been nothing short of a living hell, particularly at the hands of the fans who show no signs of holding back in voicing their dislike, displeasure and disgust for the man from Spain.

Interim is there for all to see
Interim is there for all to see

Chelsea fans with anti-rafa banner Chelsea sign Chelsea fan Chelsea fans anti-rafa banners Fans hold placards ahead

(photos from Guardiannews.com. From top to bottom Julian Finney/Getty Images; Scott Heavey/Getty Images; Alan Walter/Action Images; Julian Finney/Getty Images; Tony O’Brien/Action Images; Toby Melville/Reuters)

Swansea and Chelsea – a tale of two cities.

01iht-soccer01-rafael-benitez-articleLarge
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez searches for answers.

It was a cool Sunday, so what better than to stay in the warm and catch-up on two games.

First up, Chelsea v Manchester City closely followed by the Football League Cup Final between Swansea and Bradford City.

As I pondered the televisual feast it occurred to me this time last season these two clubs were in vastly differently places – in terms of form, potential and the chance of winning silverware – to where we find them today.

This time last year, Chelsea were flying, they were playing some beautiful football, the squad were united and were having great fun playing for their new manager Roberto Di Matteo, and by the end of the season they would be crowned FA Cup winners and European Champions. Swansea, were enjoying themselves, they were playing attractive football but so far had failed to reach their full potential.

How times have changed, ten months on Swansea are on top of the world, a young stylish team, full of passion and enthusiasm, enjoying themselves like a teenager who has just gotten the keys to their first car and can now go anywhere and do anything. Chelsea on the other hand, who should have built on the success of last season look lethargic, bored, uninterested in anything that’s going on around them, they don’t know where to go, what to do and lack any form of inspiration. It is sad to see and such a waste.

By Sunday afternoon when the games were long over Swansea City had completed their fairy tale by winning their piece of silverware in 101 years of history with precise, elegant procession football that destroyed their opponents. For a club who were in danger of slipping into non-league football ten years ago, playing in a crumbling stadium and only just managing to pay the players wages this is an incredible transformation. Along with remaining on course for a top-10 finish in the Premier League and playing in Europe next season, it is truly a dream come true for the little club from South Wales and I am sure they will make the most of every second.

Current manager Michael Laudrup is one of the most wanted managers in Europe and in just under a season has taken the club to another level with free flowing, joy-to watch football. Swansea are fast becoming the club others wish to emulate, and we are not just talking about the way they play, the way the club has handled themselves financially is a credit to them, the chairman is brave and ambitious in his decision making – just look at the appointment of Laudrup – and they made many friends last season. If you’re team is losing, fans now turn to see how Swansea are doing, you can’t help but love them.

As for Chelsea, what an awful display against Manchester City, they looked a completely different side from the same eleven players on the pitch that did them so proud to win two competitions. Arrogant, brutish, controversial, Chelsea are fast becoming the team everyone loves to see lose. It is fast turning sour for the London club, and the problems show no sign of abating. With an unpopular ‘interim’ manager – Rafael Benitez – at the helm and constant press reports of team bust ups, rants by the manager and unrelenting abuse by the fans Chelsea face the real prospect of wining nothing this season. The fans truly detest the ‘interim’ manager, the manager himself has now made it clear he will be leaving at the end of the season, the clubs owner has the difficult task of finding a manger that actually wants to manage the club, and the players are exhausted. For the first ten minutes of the match against Manchester City they could barely keep up, City threatening to run riot, as Chelsea resembled a confused and muddled mess.

There are no answers to the mounting problems, and even more alarming is that nobody at the club knows what to do next. It is sad to see, but on the other hand so wonderful to see Swansea doing so well, watching their displays this season, they are now officially my ‘second’ team.

As for what lies ahead for both clubs – Chelsea and Swansea – I think  – it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – will sum their season up pretty well.

(Photo: Jon Super/Associated Press)