Republic must dare to capitalise on uncertainty in Brussels

Game of the Day: Belgium vs. Republic of Ireland, Bordeaux, 14:00

Following Italy’s last gasp winner against Sweden, this generation of Irish players may never have a better chance of progressing to the knockout rounds of a major tournament. Martin O’Neill will hope that Belgium are as discombobulated in Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon as they were when wilting against the compact yet deadly Italians in game one. Continue reading “Republic must dare to capitalise on uncertainty in Brussels”

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Can the FA Cup save Louis Van Gaal?

The domestic season finally ends on Saturday with its signature showpiece – The FA Cup final; but is a victory for Manchester United and Louis Van Gaal enough to save the Dutchman’s job?

It’s been a familiar narrative to United’s season with Van Gaal lurching from one crisis to another and the preparation for the FA Cup final has been no different. Rumours are rife about José Mourinho taking the helm come the summer with United even going as far as to guaranteeing the job for José should Van Gaal leave. With the failure of securing Champions League for next season, the pressure certainly is on for LVG to secure United’s first FA win since 2004.  Continue reading “Can the FA Cup save Louis Van Gaal?”

Quite the game for the last night at the Boleyn

As a truly historic era draws to a close for West Ham fans this evening, as a club they seem to be prepping for whole new chapter of success in the Olympic Stadium.

When West Ham parted ways with Sam ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce in the summer (he really does sound like a formidable heavyweight boxer), I couldn’t help but think that it might be a roll of the dice too far by David Sullivan and David Gold. After all, West Ham haven’t exactly been stalwarts of the Premier League in recent memory and it would have been very hard filling 60,000 with Burton Albion as the away side in the Championship (Sorry Burton fans). OH HOW I WAS WRONG.

Like any good manager, Slaven Bilić didn’t change a system that worked. With Big Sam as a predecessor, Bilić inherited a team that had such strong foundations that you could have built the new stadium on James Collins and Winston Reid’s shoulders. What Bilić has done though with great effect is bring a little bit of sparkle, a little bit of magic into the final third that has transformed West Ham into a worthy Top 8 club.

In Manuel Lanzini and, of course, the wonderful Dimitri Payet, West Ham have genuine craft and skill in attack. Whether that may be on the break, from set pieces or in tactful build up play, West Ham are once more the footballing side that their fans so craved last season. And now, on the eve of the great farewell to the Boleyn, West Ham host Manchester United. Continue reading “Quite the game for the last night at the Boleyn”

Mourinho lines up his first United transfer

For all of their defensive woes, one criticism no fan or pundit can have of Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United is that they concede silly goals.

With a potential Champions League place still up for grabs, Manchester United currently have the second best defence in the league, conceding only 31 goals in the process. And yet question marks still arise about the personnel in United’s back four and more pertinently how impressive David de Gea has been for the third season in a row.

No one can doubt the improvement in Chris Smalling this season who will be a certain starter this year in France for England. Daley Blind as well as seemingly adapted nicely into a deeper role in the central of defence, a position that is a key component of van Gaal’s philosophy – the ability to be able to play out of the back and have a defender who is almost a quarter back’s quarter back (if that makes sense!).

With van Gaal’s future far from certain as José Mourinho still waits in the wings, lingering like some managerial reaper, any rumour involving Manchester United can hardly be concrete with so many if’s and but’s going into the next season but one player that is supposedly catching the eye of the Manchester United hierarchy and Mourinho is Raphael Varane. Continue reading “Mourinho lines up his first United transfer”

Will the Theatre of Dreams live up to its name?

The time has arrived. The moment all Leicester’s fans have perhaps thought could occur since Easter but might still not feel completely real.

Leicester City are three points away from winning the Premier League.

This is a team who everyone thought would struggle this season (including myself), had just appointed a manager that seemed a bizarre choice (I certainly did), seemed destined to be facing a relegation battle to stay in the Premier League (YEP STILL ME HERE). And now Sunday could see the final sentences written of a truly remarkable season with Claudio Ranieri transcending into the realms of immortality. Continue reading “Will the Theatre of Dreams live up to its name?”

Another pricey teenage prodigy for Man Utd?

And once more Manchester United look to spend more £30million+ on a teenage sensation this summer. Long gone are the days where such money was able to buy the likes of Brazilian Ronaldo and Christian Vieri. Even one United legend in the form of Ruud van Nistelrooy came in at a paltry £24.5million. In this inflated and most bizarre world of football transfers, money seemingly has about as much value as a box of tic-tacs, frittered away like any one’s business however, it surely is only fair though to look at Sanches as a player without the eye-watering £45million price tag. Continue reading “Another pricey teenage prodigy for Man Utd?”

Predicted XI’s Manchester United vs. Arsenal

Predicted XI’s

Manchester United: Romero, Varela, Blind, McNair, Rojo, Herrera, Schneiderlin, Lingard, Mata, Depay, Rashford

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Meresacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud,

“Desire, Hunger. A lot of times I use the word ‘horny’” – Louis Van Gaal

Where do you go from there? Said in a press conference before the second leg of United’s Europa League tie against FC Midtylland, this is what Van Gaal himself asked of his players before the game. Does ‘horny’ have a different meaning in Holland? I can’t say for sure, but the thought of a team of horny Manchester United players is hilarious.

What can really only be described as an utterly poor season, the request for his players to be ‘horny’ must be all too common from Van Gaal as he perpetually seems to be on the brink of losing his job. The vultures are circling over Carrington with a Mourinho-esque sound bite waiting to be rattled out after the Dutchman has consequently been picked apart and sacked and this Arsenal game could be the next final nail in the coffin. Continue reading “Predicted XI’s Manchester United vs. Arsenal”

An Occasion Built for Jurgen and the Kop

Predicted XI’s

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Touré, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Lucas, Can, Milner, Firmino, Lallana

Manchester United: de Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Young, Schneiderlin, Herrera, Martial, Mata, Lingard, Rooney

It is a strange and wonderful world in the Premier League this year. With both teams drawing 3-3 in the week, Liverpool undoubtedly will see their late comeback goal (curtesy of Joe Allen) as one point gained compared to Manchester United’s two points dropped thanks to Newcastle United’s Paul Dummett.

For two of the most successful teams in English football, this is one fixture where league position falls by the way side for more personal matters. With Liverpool 13 points and Manchester United 10 points off the top of the league, both team’s will be focussing more on Champions League football but has Steven Gerrard’s red card cameo reinforced last season, this is a game where sometimes the 90 minutes can be more important than the season’s objectives. Continue reading “An Occasion Built for Jurgen and the Kop”

‘A Falling Great’ – Something’s Wrong At Man Utd: Is This Man The Answer?

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?

Continue reading “‘A Falling Great’ – Something’s Wrong At Man Utd: Is This Man The Answer?”