It is the Football Awards season and the PFA Player of the Year awards is loaded attacking flair, goals and assists. In a world where attackers take the glory, the PFA’s delivers once more with an abundance of attacking riches vying it out for Player of the Season. Whilst I have absolutely no bearing on who might win the award, here is my run down of the top 6 and one person who I really think should have made the cut. Continue reading “The PFA Player of Year: The Winner’s, The Loser’s and the Missing”
The biggest present day footballing side note to the Mourinho sacking is the ever growing clamour to know what the hell is wrong at Manchester United. Admittedly this is quite a small aside to the ginormous news of Mourinho’s sacking and just exactly what is going on in that dressing room. However with Mourinho on the market, Pep’s future still sort of up in the air (I will expand on all this a little later on) and Ancelotti circling over Europe’s biggest clubs, there hasn’t been many occasions when three of the best club managers in Football are looking for their next city to call home.
When I checked immediately after the José sacking on Sky Sports News, SkyBet had Juande Ramos somehow as 2nd favourite for the Chelsea job (if Roman had decided an awful Tottenham outcast was an adequate enough Captain to try and save his blue sinking ship I was intrigued to see if Jacques Santini odds were to be slashed…), I did start wondering who would appear on the Manchester United list if Van Gaal decided to exit stage left this summer from English Football’s biggest commercial asset. However, before such a hypothetical question, what is going wrong with Manchester United this season?
Leicester sit top, 3 points clear. Chelsea are in disarray, 14th in the League and 14 points off Champions League football. These are the two big headlines stories from his Premier League that no one thought they would be saying whilst listening to ‘Last Christmas’ and eating a mince pie in December. Yet this Premier League season as truly been remarkable inasmuch as anyone can genuinely beat anyone. All three promoted teams have come up with a combination of tactical proficiency, character and good squad depth. The rise of the middle classes continues with West Ham and Crystal Palace being the pin up boys for the middle table. Then we have the ‘traditional’ top 6; Chelsea, City, Arsenal, United, Liverpool and Tottenham. Our vanguards in Europe trying to bring a trophy home. Yet is the strength of the Premier League causing harm to this countries European exploits? Continue reading “‘The Premier League and the European Issue’ – Is the competitiveness of the Premier League harming English chances in Europe?”
Earlier this season I wrote a piece about the depth of both City’s and Chelsea’s squad hampering either team mounting a serious challenge for the League this year. Who was going to be the team that was going to dominate opposition like the Chelsea of yesteryear? City, despite the injury of Aguero seem alright at present but Chelsea are a different kettle of fish. Where to begin with Chelsea. The Chelsea of last year, whose performances from August until that festive fixture car crash of a defeat at White Hart Lane were truly spelling-binding, brushing sides away like lower league opposition. Whilst their form curtailed through the second half of the season they sauntered to the league title. No one could have predicted this, predicted this opening to their title defence. 10 games played. 11 points collected. More defeats in the opening 2 months of this term than all of last season (5 already in 15/16 compared to the 3 in the entirety of last season). Why does the 3rd season under Mourinho’s tenure really dislike the man so much? Continue reading “The Curious Incident of José and the Third Season – Mourinho, the Third Season and his potential Replacements”
And we are back with the second part of How Deep is Your Squad with the spotlight now firmly focussed on to Chelsea, last year’s best team by a country mile. As people criticised City for their distinct lack of fight in defending their title, Chelsea up until Christmas were truly sumptuous. As lavish and smooth as the velvet robe hung up on the back of the bedroom in the house you always dreamt of. Fabregas, the returning maestro, made old man Gepetto from Pinocchio look like the Punch and Judy show at the end of Margate pier as he pulled the strings of the Chelsea midfield with consummate ease. Drogba came back and Diego Costa came in, the master and the apprentice as Mourinho plotted his next title triumph. Between August and Christmas Chelsea played some fantastic football but signs of a demise were there, cracks were covered over with just how well they played during the first half of the season and the failings of Utd, City, Arsenal and Liverpool throughout the season too offer any great sense of competition. Continue reading “‘How Deep Is Your Squad?’ – Part Two”
I can imagine this being a perfect little section on perhaps SoccerAm, Calvin Harris sound-tracking the graphics (How deep is your SQUAD? Oh-oh-ohhhh), the kids would love it for all its gimmicky greatness. Alas the written word doesn’t quite convey the novelty of such a sound bite and a YouTube link just doesn’t have the same seamless quality it would have on the screen. In this particular instance though, sound bite or no sound bite, the depth of two squads in particular are both making the title race much more interesting in these early stages of the season that also provide the slightly more baffling question of where as the money been spent from two of the richest clubs in England? These two clubs in question are Manchester City and Chelsea, both with potentially endless funds (in the remit of Financial Fair Play). City from unbeaten in the opening five games and with the defeat of Chelsea at the Etihad already, seem incredibly more shaky after another injury lay off for Kompany and the loss of the much improved Mangala and Chelsea from being League Champions to something of a listless ship in 5 months, questions must be asked as to why they find themselves in this position? For Part One of this two-part extravaganza it seems easier to start initially with looking at Manchester City’s predicament of injuries hampering the fluency of their early season performances. Continue reading “‘How Deep Is Your Squad?’ – Part One”
Where to start for poor Brendan. Picked to succeed the slightly ill-fated 2nd term of the Scottish demi-God on Merseyside that is Kenny Dalglish, Rodgers’s remit was to rebuild Liverpool into THAT team. The team that dominated the pre-Premier League era with such consummate ease, and it all seemed to be going so well when he led the truly brilliant Liverpool class of 2013/14 season to that run of 11 straight victories. That season under Rodgers saw Gerrard have something of a renaissance in the QB role, Captain Fantastic with a Liverpool team that at last was going to carry him to the title instead of the other way round. Liverpool had their own elite SAS, as deadly if not as subtle as the one David Cameron has at his disposal with Sturridge and the sensational Suarez scoring over 50 Premier League goals between them. Suarez, with all the biting behind him, could have happily won goal of the month 4 times over in that game against Norwich on that cold December evening (or my particular favourite that season against Newcastle, bring the ball down on his shoulder from a 60 yard Enrique diagonal ball to round Krul with his second touch and slot the ball into the empty with his third touch in as many seconds). Rodgers had done it. With no European football to get in the way of a squad of exceptionally small proportions, playing once a week meant they were settled and brilliant – until that slip. Continue reading “Who Would Want To Be Brendan Rodgers?”
The Editorial page will be the home for my longer pieces of writing, concerning anything to do with transfer policy, formation, players or managers. This Editorial page will be the home of more developed and researched pieces of work on The Sweeper Blog. Expect some words in the coming weeks! x Continue reading Editorial