What is the point of pre-season?

Pre-season, huh, what is it good for? Well not preparation judging by the opening two rounds of Premier League football from 2016/17. All those tours, all those ‘tournaments’, the transfers and money spent and yet, the teams that have a settled starting line up at this point of the season are few and far between.

 

This had led to an underwhelming start, with competitors lumbering, slowly emerging from the cocoon of July, rather than exploding into life. Yes, there have been exciting new signings scoring (Zlatan!), new managers emoting (Conte) we’ve had villains (Costa) and late winners (Costa again), so why the sense that something is missing? Continue reading “What is the point of pre-season?”

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The Premier League Contenders from the North

As we move north, the three biggies from the North West really start to put the cat amongst the pigeons on trying to predict this season’s Premier League.

 

It’s been a summer of change and transitions from Liverpool to Manchester. As Pep and José decide to kick start their rivalry from Spain in the same city and Jürgen Klopp finally gets his pre-season, it could be more than feasible to see all three of Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United vying for title honours come April and May next year. Continue reading “The Premier League Contenders from the North”

The Pogba sale and what it means for Serie A

In the world of crazy transfer fees and inflated values due to everyone’s seemingly bizarre obsession with all things Premier League, there lies one sleeping giant of European football that once housed Europe’s greatest. It’s Serie A.
In the 80’s it housed the likes Michel Platini, Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten. Go back to the early Noughties and you had an AC Milan side that had such imperious names as Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Cafu, Clarence Seedorf, Manuel Rui Costa, Pippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko. Juventus had Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, Mauro Camoranesi, Pavel Nedved, and Lillian Thuram amongst others. It was a who’s who of football brilliance.
Yet in recent years, perhaps rocked by the calciopoli scandal of 2006, which saw Juventus, relegated to Serie B and the the title going un-claimed. As well as the likes of AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio all being banned from the following season’s Champions League and UEFA Cup as well as various stadium bans and point deductions, Italian football has fallen firmly behind the likes of the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga. Yet could this transfer window see a change in fortunes on Europe’s leg shaped peninsula?

Continue reading “The Pogba sale and what it means for Serie A”

What this summer says about Manchester Utd and Mourinho

Football transfers have long gone a little bit mental but this summer the Premier League has taken borderline madness into realms of just sheer hyperbolic ridiculousness. It’s the summer of the £30 million player with Manchester United more than happy to add many a name to the once revered ‘£30m plus club’.

 

It was always going to be interesting to see José Mourinho’s first transfer window. A man who’s success is so heavily built on short termism that youth falls by the wayside (at least in this writers opinion anyway) and the ability to build a dynasty as realistic as finishing a 4th season, Mourinho embodies the complete diametric opposite to the Fergie’s years. Mourinho is a trophy winning wrecking ball; Fergie on the other hand became some kind majestic perennial winner. So what does this summer say about Manchester United under José Mourinho? Continue reading “What this summer says about Manchester Utd and Mourinho”

JG’s Transfer Update Pt.2

Here we are with pt.2 of JG’s transfer round up and its full of the big hitters. It’s L to W, taking in the likes of Liverpool, United, City and Spurs and the newcomer who loves being linked with the big names – Middlesbrough. Continue reading “JG’s Transfer Update Pt.2”

Italy vs. Spain – When Powerhouse’s Collide 

Game of the Day: Italy vs. Spain, Paris, 18:00

No one saw this coming. Spain coming second in their group.

After losing their first game in the European Championships since 2004 to Croatia, Spain now found themselves on the sticky side of the draw, and a game against an Italian side that at first impressed but now come into this game with questions against their name.

After a tentative start against the Czech Republic, Spain waltzed past Turkey with more flair than a 70s disco in the second game of the group. Spain appeared to have mojo back. Then came Ivan Perisic and Croatia. Continue reading “Italy vs. Spain – When Powerhouse’s Collide “

Group E Final Round Preview

Games of the Day
Italy vs. Republic of Ireland, Lille, 20:00
Sweden vs. Belgium, Nice 20:00

Standings
Italy – 6pts
Belgium – 3pts
Sweden – 1pt
Republic of Ireland – 1pt

As the Italians stride through into the next round, Belgium finally turned up to the party after a 3-0 defeat of the Republic of Ireland.

Both games would appear to be something of a dead rubber in Group E, with Italy and Belgium both favourites to pick up a further 3pts come this evening and whilst Italy potentially have the harder task against Martin O’Neil and Roy Keane’s Republic of Ireland side, it’s hard to imagine much change in the standings.

It seems very strange to say that Italy are a surprise package but given that this current Italian squad was widely regarded as the worse this century, their performance against Belgium was so well thought out and executed it seemed that the Italians could waltz their way to the pointy end of a major tournament once more. Fast forward 4 days and such claims seemed premature as Conte’s side laboured to a 1-0 victory against a massively under-whelming Swedish side. Continue reading “Group E Final Round Preview”

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”

EURO 2016 – The Injured XI

Whilst some superstars from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and further afield will be plying their trade in France this month, others will be watching from their living rooms with their feet up.

Through no choice of their own, some of the biggest names in world football have been robbed of the opportunity to play at the European championships through injury. Like Franck Ribery in 2014, Carlos Puyol in 2012, and David Beckham in 2010, these stars could potentially miss out on one of their respective nation’s biggest footballing moments. Instead they will be watching from afar and hoping that (in some cases) they will be fit for the start of their domestic campaign… Continue reading “EURO 2016 – The Injured XI”