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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Pre Season - why is it so important



Many people in and out of football have views on pre season tours, games and results and the importance of all of them. Some people worry about all the games the players are playing throughout a season that they think they shouldn't play so many during the season. Some believe that with all the travelling in European competition, that players shouldn't be touring these far away places in the world as part of their preparations. Some have the belief that results mean nothing in pre season games. Ah the joys of opinions! This is why I love football and love to talk about it, because so many people seem to have so many different views on the game. Here are my views on pre season.

I was asked a question recently, is pre season important? As you can imagine it didn't take me long to say, YES! Every single part of pre season is vitally important to the clubs involved, whether the manager, the players, the back room staff and the club as a whole.

THE PLAYER

For the players it is vital to be up to speed, physically and mentally, to be ready for the new season and the demands that a season can have on a player. After time off during the summer, the mental state of a player is so important, as they need to become focused on their task ahead. Games are crucial for players to gel together as a unit and for new players to gel with the existing players both on and off the field.
If you asked players whether pre season results are important, what do you think the answer would be?......YES. Players want to win games and they hate losing. I have been playing myself for 25 years and never once enjoyed losing, whether at lunch time at school or a pre season friendly. Players like to win and get that locked into their mental state. It is vital to continue that winning feeling into a full competitive season.

For the manager

Hugely important preparation for his team. The manager needs to make sure his players are ready to go, that he has a preferred formation in mind for the season ahead and that he knows who his strongest players are in all the positions across the team. For newer managers coming into clubs, this is of course even more important. AVB at Cheksea, McLeish at Villa and Martin Jol at Fulham, this greatly applies to them. Yes managers know of players, have seen them play and know full well their abilities and reputations, but players can make a huge impact on a new manager of a team, especially the fringe players. Tours are crucial to help the manager gel his team off the field to ensure there is a strong harmony around his squad, which makes the job as manager that little bit easier.

For the Club
With the huge importance of money now a days in the game, Pre Season tours are a huge part of raising more funds for the running of the club. Tours of Asia, which is an increasingly popular destination amongst clubs in the premiership, help increase merchandise sales, build the club profile in a different part of the world, which all can ultimately lead to big financial benefits from TV deals and sponsorships from these countries. Clubs want to be known throughout the world, and pre season is a perfect opportunity to achieve this.

Negatives of pre season

There are always going to be negatives and my view they are outweighed heavily by the positives. The main negative for me is the risk of injury and exhaustion. Pre season tours can often mean a lot of travelling, jet lag for players and playing on uneven surfaces, which can lead to injuries. For managers, this is just a risk they have to live with and of course is a risk whenever a player steps on to a football field.

If you have any views on pre season that I may have missed or that you have then feel free to comment on my post.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The summer so far - Sunderland



Sunderland have been one of the most active clubs in this summers transfer window, making some heavy strides forward and picking up some very experienced players. Finishing 10Th last season was probably a bit under par for the Black Cats as they faded away towards the end of the season. This was certainly hugely to do with the injury problems the club was having, so a much deeper squad was certainly prime on the list for manager Steve Bruce. Bruce has certainly started to achieve this with his summer spree so far, acquiring the likes of Seb Larsson from Birmingham and Manchester United duo Wes Brown and John O'Shea.



I believe the start Bruce has made this summer has been fantastic and he has done a great job to prize the 2 experienced players above from United. They will really help to stern up the team and give a winning mentality to the rest of the squad with a huge amount of experience too. Seb Larsson is also a great acquisition from relegated Birmingham. Since leaving Arsenal, Larsson has performed consistently well for Birmingham and possesses a huge amount of ability in being a creative force in a team. The one thing he will do is to replace the departed Jordan Henderson who left to Liverpool for a huge transfer fee. He is ready made to play on the right side of midfield and he has so much ability from a dead ball situation as well.

The Black Cats have also acquired David Vaughan from relegated Blackpool. Vaughan had a very good season for Blackpool and plays with a very workman like attitude and helped inspire Blackpool's exciting season, despite there final day drop. These players are important for Sunderland next season, but I do not believe that will be the end of it.
Bruce and chairman Niall Quinn have worked hard to bring in Connor Wickham from Ipswich, one of the most sort after young talents in the country. It will be very exciting to see how he gets on competing week in week out in the Premier League.



Sunderland should have plenty of money to spend after the January sale of Darren Bent and Hendersons departure to Liverpool this summer combining a total close to £40 million. The 5 main signings that have come into the club this summer have all come at a very low price and have not made hardly a dent in the £40 million figure. I am expecting a couple of big signings still to come in, but the question is, who? What big names can Bruce attract to the Stadium of Light, considering there is no European football on offer at all? N'Zogbia is one that has been mentioned, which would be a good signing. The main area that needs to improve for me is the forwards. With no Darren Bent and also no Danny Welbeck this year, that leaves a huge void at the top of the field that needs filling. A lot of weight and pressure on the shoulders of Asamoah Gyan and new signing Connor Wickham, but their needs to be depth in the squad at the top of the field.

Sunderland fan's who do you think should be brought to the club? Are you thinking like me that your team will be competing further up the table next year and hopefully challenging for a Europa League place? Let me know your views

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Carlos Tevez "Breaking News"



I thought I would get in there quickly as I have just found out that Manchester City have accepted a bid from Brazilian side Corinthians for Carlos Tevez. This fee is apparently £39 million. You may have read my piece a week a go on Manchester City and I mentioned the Carlos Tevez affair and like many did not believe Corinthians could even come close to a fee that has been agreed. I stand corrected, as through television revenue they are putting it all in for the return of Tevez to his former club.

Shocked? Yes at Corinthians coming up with the transfer fee. Surprised? No. In football expect the unexpected and this is certainly one of these situations. It will be a big blow to the Premier League though, as he is a fantastic player, a true work horse and one I have to say I love watching play. Whatever you think of the man, I will never forget his amazing end to his last season at West Ham where he practically saved the club from relegation on his own in the 2006/2007 season.

Now, theoretically this should be it with this transfer and nothing should hold it up. If Tevez is serious about returning to South America to be closer to his family, then he "should" quite happily take a pay cut to achieve this. He is currently on £150,000 a week at Man City and I certainly do not expect this to be the case at Corinthians. Will it go smoothly? Watch this space, as Tevez has a little bit of a reputation to want a bit more money, so we shall see....

Why the MLS is along way from being a top league



The MLS (Major League Soccer) is the league for all the American franchises. It is a relatively new league to most around the world and is trying very hard to raise the profile of the game in the US. With players such as Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez and of course the most notable one of all, David Beckham, playing in the MLS, this is definitely helping raise the profile of football in the states. However, these players are reaching the ends of their careers and their past glories at Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester United seem many years ago. They are helping increase the popularity of the sport with the aid of sponsorship and Television coverage, but the competitive side is still a distance away.



Yesterday I went to a "mid season" friendly for the LA Galaxy against Real Madrid. This on paper was a great spectacle, Beckham vs. Ronaldo, in Los Angeles, in the huge coliseum stadium and coverage live on ESPN. A great chance for Real Madrid to prepare for their "real" season ahead and get their pre season campaign under way. I would like to see Real, Barca, Arsenal, Chelsea etc have a mid season friendly? Could you imagine? The amount of games they play, the competitive nature of every single match played would mean it is impossible for this to happen. If the Galaxy and the MLS clubs are being serious about their intent to build a strong league, then why are they having mid season friendlies? This to me just shows how far behind they are to the European clubs.



I understand that a club like the LA Galaxy with a larger fan base than any other MLS team, and the huge sponsorships and television money that have come into this club, are a big draw for fan's across the country. They are also using the status of this team to raise the profile of the entire sport in the country. Also, the MLS want to show the world that they mean business and how better than to play against the best teams in Europe and probably the world. This point and approach is understandable. I just get frustrated when I hear senior members of MLS saying that their league is closing in on that of the European clubs. It is miles and miles apart! There are so many things that need to change before the league gets anywhere near that of the European leagues such as the Premier League, La Liga and Seria A. To start with, the season for me needs to start and finish at the same time as in Europe. The mid season friendlies need to stop and the television coverage needs to go worldwide.

This all will take time, which I understand. I believe that with the right people in control of the MLS, the league can start catching up a bit faster with the European leagues. More sponsorship will help and I'm sure events like the one I saw yesterday will be continually used, but I would like to know when will this happen? What are the aims of the MLS?

Let me know any views you may have on this issue or any other in the sport.

Friday, 15 July 2011

The summer so far - Aston Villa



One of the most talked about teams of the summer by far. New manager in charge, departure of key players, and also linked to some good players too. Even though it has been described as tough times at Aston Villa, it must also be pretty exciting for them with a complete change around of personnel. The loss of Ashley Young to Man Utd and Stewart Downing to Liverpool will be tough for some fans to take. But those signings alone brought in £40 million to the club, which for any team, let alone Aston Villa, this is a lot of money. It's important for Randy Lerner to re invest this money and give it to Alex McLeish in order for him to re build the side and certainly give some much needed strength in depth too. This to me was Villa's problem last term, their lack of depth. They did very well to cope and it also gave the opportunity for some bright young players to get their chance in the first team, like Barry Bannan and Cieron Clark. Also, the emergence of Marc Albrighten was another bright spark in the Villa squad last term.



First signing was a much needed one to replace the departing Brad Friedel. Villa have certainly successfully acieved this by signing Shay Given, who a couple of years ago was rated one of the, if not the, best keeper in the Premiership. He is experienced, agile and is a fantastic shot stopper. Villa fans couldn't have hoped for a better replacement between the sticks. Now on to the replacements for the wide players and one name keeps cropping up in the papers and on the sports news, Charles N'Zogbia. I believe he is a very talented player when given the freedom to play further forward. He was a huge reason why Wigan kept their Premier League status last term, with his ability to run with the ball and strike it so cleanly with his left foot. We shall have to watch this space to see if this transfer will develop.



The replacements are important for Aston Villa, as is the form of the current squad next season, in particular whether Darren Bent will continue firing on all cylinders. But McLeish must bring in some additional players and bolster the suad up as much as possible. Villa are a team that should be competing closer to the top of the table and certainly challenging for 5th, 6th and 7th. The league will be far more exciting this coming season if Villa can improve their squad just like teams around them last season are doing so. Sunderland are a prime example of this.

Villa fan's would love to hear from you and get your opinions. Is McLeish the right man? What players do you want coming into your squad?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The summer so far - Fulham



Considering Fulham had such an up and down season last year, they still managed to finish the season in 8th place, which was a fantastic achievement for the team. However, in very acrimonious circumstances, Mark Hughes left the club this summer, which i have to admit was a big surprise. He achieved very respectable results with Fulham, especially considering so much of last year they were without their main striker, Bobby Zamora. But as with every single club, times move on and the appointment of Martin Jol as Hughes' replacement should have settled a lot of fan's down. Jol has got a great reputation for his previous work at Spurs, when some said he was unfairly dismissed and is a very respected manager in the game.



It will be interesting to see what money is available for Jol to to make signings this summer, as it is always important for a new manager to bring some new faces into a club to put his own stamp on the team. Their is often some money available for the previous managers at the club, and some has already gone on John Arne Riise, the experienced left back signed from Roma. This to me is a very good signing. Riise has a lot of experience and can certainly help steady the team defensively and offensively with his powerful left foot that he was most famously remembered in his time at Liverpool. More is definitely needed at the club and we should watch this space to see who else is brought in.

I also hope there will be no repercussions for the club after the way Zoltan Gera left the club, seemingly fuming at being forced out. He was a key player in the 2009/2010 campaign for Fulham that saw them reach the Europa League final, but has deteriorated since. Jol will desperately need some more creative players to be brought back into the team to give them a much needed attacking threat.

Fulham fan's would love to hear your comments on your teams chances for next year?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Players available on Free Transfers



I have just found the link to the PFA website that shows all the players that are available for moves to clubs. This is an incredible list of players who are all out of contract at their current clubs, showing the true climate of football in England right now.

http://www.givemefootball.com/pfa-transfer-list

Check out the list and you will see so many players, most young English players looking for a contract for the up and coming season. It is a worrying site for many and it concerns myself too, as it is showing the influence of the foreign imports on the game in England. It seems to be greatly affecting players from the lower leagues and those vying to make it to the top of the game in the Premier League too with limited opportunities being made available.

Check out the list and let me know what names jump out at you, as there are some very talented players here with Premier League experience as well.

The Summer so far - Everton



Everton are a team I have a huge amount of respect for and in particular their manager David Moyes. He once again showed what a fantastic manager he was last season, on a limited budget but finishing the season off well to finish in 7Th place, which I believe is a great achievement for the team. He has also helped to greatly improve the performances of Leighton Baines, who is wanted by numerous clubs this summer. Baines was inspirational last season leading the clubs assists charts with 11 and providing some crucial goals at crucial times for the Toffee's. It is key for Everton to keep hold of these players, that together make Everton a formidable team with the likes of Cahill, Arteta and Howard becoming the spine of the team.

The summer for Everton has been relatively quiet so far, with not much news coming out of the club regarding players arriving and players departing. Moyes seems very keen on introducing younger players to the first team and succeeded with players like Rodwell and Coleman who are showing a huge amount of promise. This promise has led Sir Alex Ferguson to be a long term admirer of Rodwell. I'm sure David Moyes will bring in a couple of new faces at some point to give the club some much needed depth, which has been lacking for quite a few seasons now.

I predict that it will be a very similar season for the club and without huge investment I worry that they will slip further behind the top 6, which means further behind their big rivals Liverpool. What are your thoughts? Everton fan's let me know your feeling's.

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Summer so far - Liverpool



Liverpool had a very tricky season last year with a lot of instability at the club. But with a good end to the Premier League Season and some time for their January signings to gel even more (Suarez and Carol), plus the edition of a couple of big name signings already in this summer transfer window, Liverpool could be on the up. The two main additions are young Jordan Henderson from Sunderland for approximately £16 million and Charlie Adam from Blackpool for £8 million. I believe these are both good players that will give the Anfield outfit a much stronger and deeper squad next year. Charlie Adam is a good player with a lot of talent and is on the back of a great season with Blackpool last term. Jordan Henderson is an exciting young English prospect with a heap of potential that Kenny Dalgliesh will be expected to fill.



Stewart Downing is the one in recent weeks heavily linked to a move to Liverpool, but with a £20 million plus price tag on his head, its undecided whether Liverpool will meet that and whether Aston Villa will sell the player.
Now, yes he is a good premiership player and has worked hard the last couple of seasons to improve his game. But £20 million??? The cost of English players its absolutely insane now a days. He is definitely not worth £20 million, even in today's crazy transfer society. Liverpool fan's what are your views? And football fan's in general what do you think of Stewart Downing?

Liverpool fan's how are you feeling about this up and coming season? Potential to get back into the top 4?

I believe by the way the summer is shaping up that Liverpool will be challenging for 4th place alongside Tottenham and Arsenal, in what I would now start to call the second tier of the Premier League behind Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City.

The Summer so Far - Tottenham



I promise I will be nice when I talk about Tottenham, something difficult for an Arsenal fan of course, but I will try.

It's going to be an interesting summer for Spurs and especially for their supporters after failing to make it into the top 4 and book a second successive Champions League campaign. It's now time for Daniel Levy to show the supporters that they are a club that wants success and wants to get back into the top 4. He needs to prove this by investment and to keep hold of their biggest stars, which I have to admit is going to be tricky. Players now a days want to play in the worlds elite competition, the Champions League, and after getting this opportunity during the last season, Spurs players know they will have to at least wait another year to have that feeling again. For their top stars like Gareth Bale and Luka Modric that can be tough.



Modric is causing quite a stir at the moment and it is looking very likely that he will be moving on, probably to Chelsea. He has spoken out how an agreement was in place with Daniel Levy over his future when he signed for the club. Mr Levy by the sound of it has not dealt with this situation particularly well and has left Modric wanting out of the club. Not a good start to the summer for player relations and I'm sure it will upset Spurs fan's. What are your views? Spurs fan's I would love to hear from you.



The first signing for Spurs is a very good one. Brad Friedel a proven Premier League keeper, and although age isn't on his side, he is still top quality. The goalkeeping position was certainly the main problem area for Spurs last season and I believe they have helped solve it for the forthcoming season at least. Gomes should be prepared to sit on the bench for a lot of the season. They are putting their rival club, Arsenal, behind on the goalkeeping situation.
Question for Spurs fan's, what other signings do you believe would be realistic to tackle the top 4 next season?

The days of original stadium names are numbered



It's nothing brand new to hit the footballing world that sponsorship is having a huge influence over clubs in England and across the world. Kit sponsorships are constantly being updated, sometimes year on year to raise finances for the clubs to be able to survive. In the not so recent years, new stadiums have been built with the help of sponsors too, like the Reebok Stadium at Bolton, the Britannia Stadium at Stoke and more recently the Emirates Stadium at Arsenal (as seen above). These key sponsors have helped develop some magnificent sporting venues across the world. For the new stadiums, the clubs have signed agreements to name their new stadium after these sponsors. Great for the running of the club financially, but for the history and heritage of the club, a good thing? I'm not so sure. It puts finances and sponsorships above the actual heart of the club, and turns the feeling into more of a business than a way of life.
Now, don't think that I am oblivious to the changes to the game in the last 10 years. I have lived through it, followed it and more importantly enjoyed the changes in the last 10 years. The added revenue for sponsorships have helped clubs move into the new age of football, which is good for the game in England.

But......(there's always a but with me)



Manchester City have sold their stadium name to Etihad (A UAE airline) for over £100 million. Yes, the City of Manchester Stadium is a new stadium, named Eastlands in recent years, but for the name to just be sold? I think it is a sign of things to come for other Premier League clubs, as they work hard to ensure they can recoup as much revenue as possible, especially with the new financial fair play rules coming in very soon. So, could Anfield, Goodison Park, White Hart Lane, St James' Park, Stamford Bridge be names of the past? What does the future hold for these stadiums?

With the changing nature of the game and the fact that teams need to increase their revenues year on year, the stadium name is one area that I can see changing in the near future. Following on from the deal at Manchester City with Etihad, I can see other clubs following suit to help develop their business in order to meet the financial fair play rules.

What are your views? Let me know

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Paul Scholes has finally found his voice



Paul Scholes has always been known as one of the quietest players in the game. You rarely saw him in interviews, or read an interview from him. He was never in the tabloids for any wrong doing, or right doing for that matter. Just a quiet type, which in today's society I have to say at times it was quite refreshing. A humble guy off the field, who put his family before anything else.

But now Paul Scholes is retired...

Since his announcement, I have been amazed how many interviews I have read from him, and how expressive he has become with his views. He is certainly "Mr Man Utd" and has a fierce dislike for all their rivals, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City. He spoke out recently about the interest United had shown in Arsenal's Samir Nasri, claiming that he should leave a club that's not moving forward and saying all negative things about Arsenal and the way the club is run. I find it fascinating how a player so quiet retires from his playing career and finds this voice out of no where, and more importantly in not a very respectful manner either.

It hasn't ended there though. In a recent interview with ESPN, he started talking down the English National team, saying it was "laughable" to consider them as even contenders for the next world cup, because so many of the squad are playing for a move to a bigger club. Every single player wants to move to a big club, so why wouldn't they want to play well during an International game to attract further interest? Has Scholes spoken to these players? Does he know that that's the only reason why they play for their country? Who are these players?
This makes me angry that a player who retires from Internationals at just 29 years of age to concentrate and prolong his club career, has a negative opinion like this. Contradictory slightly? Well, I believe so. He has put more importance on his club than his country, no?

My advise to Mr Scholes is to either keep that opinion to himself, or instead of hiding behind small comments, why doesn't he come out and name these players? Go the full Monty. Maybe he is right? But for everyone reading these constant negative comments, it seems like he is just frustrated with life without playing anymore and taking it out on anybody else.

What are your views? Let me know

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The summer so far - Arsenal



Oh Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal. As you will very quickly begin to realise this is the team I support. Now, I will try and be as down the middle as possible throughout my posts and will try extremely hard to show no bit of bias what-so-ever.

The summer for Arsenal is the same every single time, with our biggest stars being linked with moves away from the club. First it was Patrick Vieira, then Thierry Henry, and now the on going Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona saga. But this summer it doesn't end there! Samir Nasri has joined the on going transfer saga that the fan's absolutely loathe season after season. Now the best, most honest report that I have read so far has been by Ian Wright in the Sun this past week. He stated the worry of every single Arsenal fan that we are becoming a feeder club to Man City! Toure, Adebayor and now Gael Clichy, and they have been heavily linked to Nasri and also Fabregas. The club are showing a lack of much needed ambition and investment.

My views on Gael Clichy - he is a good Premier League left back and a few seasons ago really shone through. He was a great Arsene Wenger acquisition who quickly replaced Ashley Cole with some very consistent performances which led to him being named in the 2007/2008 Premier League team of the year. But since then he has been a shadow of his former self, putting in very inadequate performances, at fault for key goals last season including Champions league games which meant we were runners up in our group. He has created very little in the last few seasons and the stats back that up. So, I believe he won't be missed at Arsenal and its time Kieron Gibbs steps up to the plate. Will he succeed at Man City though? Only time will tell.



The Fabregas saga is something that gets every Arsenal fan's blood boiling. A talented player, but where is his heart? Its at his former club Barcelona, where his friends play and with a team that consistently Win's trophies. Fitness wise he has been struggling, form wise he has been struggling, and like Clichy, was at fault in the big games in the Champions League. HOWEVER, he is still an extremely creative player and whatever any Arsenal fan's say, he is a huge player for the club and to drive the club forward. Arsenal cannot keep letting promising players leave the club, whatever the situation and Fabregas is no different. But do you want a player there who's heart is not 100% in it? No, is what I can imagine most people's responses would be. It is one subject with much debate, what are your views?



Finally we have Samir Nasri. What a fantastic half season he had! True consistency! (apologies for the sarcasm - and he did have a brilliant half season). His wage demands are insane, coming to an end of his contract and turning down £100,000 a week! But with talk of Man Utd offering £20 million for a player with just a year left on his contract what do you do? Well as an Arsenal fan, you should never sell your good players to rival clubs, whatever the situation. We need to keep Nasri at the club, he is young, creative and will be a top top player.



Many many questions for Arsenal fan's and football fan's alike to discuss. Do you think Fabregas and Nasri will stay? Will just one go? Let me know your views.

The summer so far - Manchester City



Manchester City are the team that people in football haven't stopped discussing in the last couple of years. Whether you love the fact they have added another dimension to the Premier League, or are a believer that they are buying their way to the top and you don't like it, they are a team that are being discussed in every public house across the country and across the world.

My view is that I completely dislike a team that has been created into something else from a ridiculous amount of money that has never been seen in football. Their spending is eclipsing that of Chelsea's previously and competing with the money thrown on players by that of Real Madrid. It certainly is unfair on those clubs that work hard year on year to survive and keep their heads above water, when a new owner comes in and provides what feels like "monopoly" money for a club and their manager.

Back to the summer and as with every transfer window, Man City will be linked to every single player that's wanted by all the top clubs. This is no different. They have been trying their luck with everyone, including an audacious bid for Cristiano Ronaldo and trying to outbid Barcelona for Alexis Sanchez too! But the focus of their attention seems to be that of one other Premier League club, Arsenal. They have snapped up Gael Clichy for £7 million already and are tracking Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri too.

I'm sure there will be plenty more names thrown into the Man City hat throughout the transfer window and absolutely none of them will surprise me! But it takes time for a team to gel properly as they proved last year. But they are improving and I believe they will be challenging even closer to Manchester United this year. One player that could be crucial is that of Carlos Tevez. He has stated (not for the first time in his career) that he misses his family and wants to leave the club. We have heard it all before though, and with a long contract still tied to him, I believe City will hold their ground and the player will be staying. Plus, I do not believe any teams back in Argentina, or South America will be able to afford the transfer fee first off, and also his ginormous wage demands.



Man City fans what are your views on your teams chances this year? Is the manager the right man? What players do you need in? And what about the Carlos Tevez affair?

The Summer so Far - Chelsea



A quiet start on player front for Chelsea as they have been linked to a lot of players, but as yet no such activity. This clearly has a lot to do with the fact that a new manager has been put in place, Andre Villas Boas. I would love to hear from Chelsea fans on the appointment of this manager.
My views are that he has the potential to be a very very successful manager, in the same mould of a Mourinho and a Guardiola (the new age in football managers). He has proved his talent at Porto as the main man, however, a concern I have is that the Portuguese League is not the strongest league in Europe. It is a huge step up for managers and players alike to be a part of the English Premier League, the best league in Europe. The expectations of the club and the fans, and the huge pressure put on everyone in the game by the British Media. This will be a lot for the young manager to cope with. My other concern with this appointment is for AVB himself, that's the Abramovich factor. An owner so desperate for success that has so little patience in managers, that it could be tough for a young up and coming manager to have to hit the ground running straight away. Not an easy thing to do, and certainly not easy in the competitive Premier League.



Player wise, I expect a very high profile striker to come to the club and certainly the midfield of Chelsea needs to be bolstered too. The midfield became a concern last year with the ageing Lampard and the unfortunate injury problems to Essien, is putting too much pressure on the likes of Ramires and Mikel who I believe are far from being the finished article.

Chelsea fans, who would you like to see join your club? Where do you need strengthening?

The summer so far - Manchester United



The race for this trophy next year feels like its been on ever since the season ended. No time for Sir Alex Ferguson to celebrate another Premier League trophy for Manchester United, as the race heats up to snap up all the available top quality players to improve every single squad in the league. United seem to be on top again, being the first of the top teams to invest money in signing 3 quality players. First in the door was young Phil Jones from Blackburn, who I believe has the potential to be a high quality center back for years to come. With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic to look up to and emulate, Jones will only get better and better as long as he gets his first team opportunities. Next up Ashley Young. Importantly another young English player who has now established himself in the England team as a regular and a vital member of the team. Consistently improving, I believe another great signing from Ferguson, and a long term replacement to the ageing Ryan Giggs. Lastly David De Gea. Youth again seems the key for Ferguson, and what a keeper this guy is. He has made an astonishing start to his career becoming a first team regular at Athletico Madrid at just 18 years of age. Two full successful seasons and I believe a great long term replacement for Van Der Saar at just 20 years of age. A fantastic start to the summer for Sir Alex Ferguson.



Man United fan's what do you think about the summer so far for your team?
(please comment)

My Background in Football

Hi,

Finally I have set up a blog to chat about football and specifically the happenings of the English Premier League. I will talk about my views on all team issues, recent news and gossip and to include fan's perspectives on recent events surrounding the football world and the Premier League.

I welcome all comments made on this blog, whether positive or negative and I will never slam anyone elses views on matters, as this is why we all love to debate the game of football.

There will be talk of transfers, referees, injuries, managers, players, you name it, if its being debated, it will be talked about on this blog.

Lastly I thought its important to let you know more about my knowledge in the game. So, I am an Arsenal fan (sorry if that offends some), I have been playing the game for 22 years. I have been a football coach for 11 years and studied sports development with coaching at Sheffield Hallam University where I was awarded a bachelor of science after writing a dissertation on grassroots football. I read numerous websites, papers and magazines daily and have a pure passion for the game.

I hope you all enjoy.

James Green