‘It’s back and with more magic than Harry Potter’ – The Return of the FA Cup

I generally don’t like trading in clichés but sometimes the very cliché itself strikes a nerve. The magic of the cup. Its FA cup third round weekend and it’s when the might of the Premier League gets unleashed on all that have got this far. Continue reading “‘It’s back and with more magic than Harry Potter’ – The Return of the FA Cup”

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‘Are the Black Cats running out of lives?’ – Sunderland’s Relegation Plight

Sunderland AFC. 9 years (we have only just snuck into 2016 after all). 9 separate full time managers. Since Mick McCarthy departed in March 2006 Sunderland fans have seen Niall Quinn, Roy Keane, Ricky Sbragia, Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neil, Paolo di Canio, Guy Poyet, Dick Advocaat and now Sam Allardyce all charging around the home dugout at the Stadium of Light. The longest serving Sunderland manager in that time is Roy Keane. 100 games in charge with the Championship title in his back pocket, it reflects both the clubs and funnily enough Roy Keane’s greatest period of success in the last decade.

It would be wrong to suggest that managerial instability didn’t occur before Ellis Short took out right charge of The Black Cats. The manner in managerial departure certainly has changed since the American-Irishman took outright control of the football club in October 2011. It has almost become cyclical at the Stadium of Light since the departure of Steve Bruce. A manager will be sacked after a poor run of results, normally just before Christmas or Easter and then the new man in charge will get the famed if not scientifically proven ‘new manager bounce’ and lead Sunderland to safety. That change of voice on the training ground must have particular resonance in the North-East because this could now become the assumed game plan for securing Premier League football that any Sunderland fan must now endure. Continue reading “‘Are the Black Cats running out of lives?’ – Sunderland’s Relegation Plight”

‘The Next Test for Middlesbrough under Karanka’ Middlesbrough vs. Everton, League Cup Quarter Final, 1/12/15

Predicted XI’s

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Ayala, Amorebieta, Friend, Clayton, Adomah, Forshaw, Downing, Stuani, Nugent

Everton: Robles, Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Galloway, Cleverly, Gibson, Deulofeu, Barkley, Naismith, Lukaku

Second in the Championship. 6 wins out of 7 in the League with the only defeat in that coming against promotion rivals Hull City. Middlesbrough and Aitor Karanka seem to have built upon the foundations laid down by the Spaniard in his maiden full campaign. Middlesbrough have been on an upward curve under Karanka with season finishes of 12th and 4th (losing in the play offs to Norwich), Middlesbrough look ready for the Premier League big time once more. With the seeming dearth of Premier League talent in the North-East, this could be Middlesbrough’s time to shine and to come out of the shadows from their closest of rivals. Continue reading “‘The Next Test for Middlesbrough under Karanka’ Middlesbrough vs. Everton, League Cup Quarter Final, 1/12/15”

Interesting Start to the Festive Fixtures for Two Title Chargers, Capital One Cup Quarter-Final, 1/12/15

Predicted XI’s

Man City: Caballero, Sagna, Demichelis, Otadmendi, Kolarov, Fernando, Delph, Navas, Silva, De Bruyne, Bony

Hull City: McGregor, Elmohamady, Maguire, Davies, Robertson, Huddlestone, Livermore, Clucas, Diame, Hernandez, Snodgrass

At the start of December, with another European game still to play, Hull City coming to the Etihad this evening isn’t the easiest of games for Manuel Pellegrini to rest some players for the frivolities of playing football in England over Christmas. Whilst other leagues start to wind down coming into January, the Premier League kicks on and with injuries mounting, a League Cup fixture where some of the more peripheral figures took to the field would have been ideal preparation for City. Whilst that may not be the case this evening, the return of David Silva really could be one of those ‘it’s like a new signing’ moments coming up to Christmas. The Spaniard, missing for two months, is a world class player on his day and certainly eases the creative burden on De Bruyne and the rest of City’s attacking players. Continue reading “Interesting Start to the Festive Fixtures for Two Title Chargers, Capital One Cup Quarter-Final, 1/12/15”