Category: Premier League News

Shakespeare sacking no surprise

Imagine my annoyance on Tuesday afternoon when I was finishing off an article on the Premier League sack race and before publishing it Leicester City beat me to the punch, incidentally I had Craig Shakespeare in the silver medal position behind Ronald Koeman.

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Shakespeare did well as interim manager but things never looked like working out when he got the job on a permanent basis. As first team coach under Claudio Ranieri, Shakespeare shared in Leicester’s remarkable title triumph of 2016. It also placed him in the perfect position to asses what was going wrong in Ranieri’s second season and after the Italian was fired Shakespeare quickly rectified the problems, stopped the tinkering and reverted to what made Leicester such a success in the first place- it worked as he pulled Leicester clear of trouble and into mid table safety.

But it’s becoming increasingly rare for interim managers promoted from the coaching staff to become successful managers. Liverpool’s boot room system worked brilliantly in the 70s and 80s as they moved from Shankly to Paisley to Fagan and finally Dalglish. More recent successful examples are hard to find- Harry Redknapp was promoted at West Ham after Billy Bonds was fired in the 90s and David O’Leary successfully stepped up at Leeds after George Graham left for Tottenham.

The difficulty of moving from interim to permanent boss is you need a plan to move forward not just the means to fix the old problems, Shakespeare never looked like having that in his locker. Leicester bought good players in the summer but the pieces didn’t seem to fit together- Iheanacho looked too similar to Jamie Vardy, Vincent Iborra wasn’t fit with only Harry Maguire seamlessly fitting into the team by replacing the ageing Robert Huth. Shakespeare was of course unlucky that Adrien Silva signed 13 seconds too late to play for the club until January, he and Iborra will make an intriguing midfield duo for the next manager.

The fixture list didn’t do Shakespeare any favours either, they started at Arsenal a game they deserved to win but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory- a game that turned on substitutions and Shakespeare got his wrong. The early fixtures then gifted them a trip to Old Trafford and home games against Liverpool & Chelsea. After coming through those difficult games with narrow defeats home matches against Bournemouth and West Brom became must win- Leicester drew both and the club’s Chinese owners pulled the plug.

It was ruthless but justified, Leicester still have the attraction of being recent Premier League Champions and have a squad with greater talent than two thirds of the Premier League, yet they are in the bottom 3.

The talent at their disposal and willingness to spend big (Slimani, Silva, Maguire, Iheanacho) should attract a big name to the club- I was aghast that Sam Allardyce was the first name in the frame, a move that would show a stunning lack of imagination and hand them a manager who would simply pull towards a 40 point survival target, mercifully that report appears wide of the mark.

Sean Dyche has got Burnley punching well above their weight and his growing reputation merits consideration for a next level Premier League club like Leicester. Marco Silva would have been a great appointment back in the summer but he’s now off the market. Chris Coleman will inevitably come into consideration after his successful stint with Wales, Coleman has proved he can handle big names (Bale & Ramsey) and successfully mould a team around them. He’s currently considering his future after Wales failed to make the World Cup and may opt to stay in post but he’s another Leicester will surely sound out.

Further afield former Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel has been mentioned, but he has a reputation as a spikey figure who might not fit with the club although there’s no denying he is a high calibre coach. One word of advice for Leicester’s board is steer clear of ex Premier League manager’s looking to get back in- the likes of Alan Pardew and Ian Holloway. Leicester are unlikely to hit the heights of 2016 again but they should be in a position to push for cups and European football, it’ll be interesting to see who they believe will be the man to take them there.

As for Shakespeare he joins that long list of very good coaches who couldn’t quite cut it as a manager. He may get another shot in a hot seat but it’ll likely be at a high end Championship club- Sheffield Wednesday might be a good fit. Otherwise a first team coach position will come along sooner or later, maybe even a position in Gareth Southgate’s backroom staff, he did previously have a seat during Allardyce’s brief stay at St George’s Park, but when it comes to Premier League hot seats most only get one chance and Shakespeare has had his.

 

 

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England’s Premier League winners & losers

Winners:

Harry Kane

He’s so good Pep Guadiola reckons he’s an entire team… sort of. 5 goals in 4 days with A whole range of different finishes on display, Kane’s goal scoring statistics are becoming silly. Does anyone want to argue Jordan Henderson would make a better England captain?

Gareth Southgate

It’s been a good week for the England manager, first those helpful chaps on the FIFA disciplinary committee only gave Dele Alli a one match ban for flipping the bird on camera, meaning he won’t incur a 2 match ban next summer.

Then at the weekend 70 English players started premier league games (32%). That doesn’t sound a huge amount but it is a significant increase on recent weeks at a time when 8 England internationals are out injured. The FA needs to be aiming for around 85 English players a week for England to have a credible playing pool- the FA statisticians will be hoping this is the start of a trend rather than a blip.

Fabian Delph

Good in the Champions League, great against Chelsea even if he is playing at left back, 2 weeks ago Delph was the forgotten man of the Etihad- with Mendy out until Easter he’s a key player for City and this week gets a shot at reviving his England career.

Rob Holding

It’s been a humbling start to the season for young Holding who cut a haunted figure at Anfield a month ago. But a goal in the Europa League and a solid display against Brighton keeps him in the first team picture at Arsenal and suggests he’s not destined for the young player at Arsenal vortex that swallowed the careers of Callum Chambers & Henri Lansbury.

Losers

Saido Berahino

29 games without a goal!! Even the penalty spot isn’t offering a respite- that collapsed move to Spurs and subsequent sulk has seemingly wrecked his career. Doubt Tottenham would be interested in January

Nat Chalobah

A month ago he was given his first England call up now he’s crocked until Christmas. It’s unfortunate for a player who’s finally making headway as a Premier League regular.

Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge is not the only Liverpool striker needing a goal, but none need one as badly. Recalled to the starting lineup against Newcastle Sturridge missed 2 presentable chances and was hooked when Jurgen Klopp substituted his entire front line late in the game. The problem with Sturridge is everytime he starts a game we all hark back to 2013-14 when he looked a world beater, he looks anything but right now. How much longer will he be ahead of Dominic Solanke in the Liverpool queue?

The blocked pathway- How the Premier League is failing young players, England and its own Champions League ambitions

This week in the Premier League only 65 English players started games that’s 29.5% last week it was 64. It’s a shocking yet predictable statistic. It gets worse- those numbers include retired England players Milner & Rooney and veterans Jagielka, Barry & Ashley Young.

Since it’s formation 25 years ago when the elite clubs gained independence from the Football League the Premier League has exceeded expectations in all areas bar one- helping the England National Team. We now have a league that has provided greater entertainment, a higher standard of play and world class facilities. Yet the pool of homegrown players has been reduced to a puddle.

Let’s be clear here the foreign players have been fantastic for English football. From the early years of exotic number 10s like Cantona, Zola & Bergkamp to David Silva & Eden Hazard. The foreign players have increased the technical level and professionalism of English football- notably United’s class of ’92 took their lead on training standards from Cantona.

The decline in English players in the Premier League over recent years has been justified by two points- firstly England isn’t producing good enough players and secondly The Premier Leagues leading clubs need to import to stay ahead in The Champions League.

On the first point England are now Under 20 World Champions, under 19 European Champions, Double Toulon tournament winners and European Under 17s runners up.

On the second point the last Premier League team to win the Champions League were Chelsea in 2012. Since then only 2 of the last 20 Champions League semi finalists were from the Premier League whilst La Liga produced 4 champions.

Meanwhile despite the Premier League’s vast riches the worlds best players remain out of reach. Whilst Morata, Mendy and Salah did come to England M’Bappe, Neymar and Dembele (the best players on the market) went elsewhere and the brightest new star of next summers World Cup will join either Real or Barca, as Ozil did in 2010 & James in 2014.

There are a lot of theories doing the rounds as to why the Premier League clubs keep failing in Europe.

One problem I can see is none of the current premier league clubs have a club culture. By that I mean a leadership group of players who have been at the club a long time, set the standard for the team. The importance of this can be seen in the recent list of Champions League winners: Bayern (Lahm & Schweinsteiger) Barca (Xavi & Puyol and later Iniesta, Busquets & Messi) & Real (Ronaldo, Ramos & Marcelo).

England’s triumphant Premier League sides all had this- Man United 1999 (Keane & class of 92), Liverpool 2005 (Gerrard & Carragher), United 2008 (Scholes & Giggs) & Chelsea (Lampard, Cole, Terry, Drogba). As these examples show being at a club a long time doesn’t mean you have to be a national or even an academy product. It’s also notable no such long serving core exists at CL underachievers Paris St Germain.

It’s difficult to see many players who fits that bill in the current premier league- Kompany if he could stay fit, Cahill at a push but seriously there are very few others. The transient nature of recent premier league squads makes this difficult.

So if England is producing young talent, academies are receiving huge investment, we fail in Europe and the best in the world go to Spain, Bayern or PSG so why is the pathway from youth team to first team so hard to cross?

One obvious reason is the pressure for instant success applied to managers- but with most big clubs now employing top class managers some seem to be adopting a more long term strategy (Tottenham, Everton, Liverpool). But most Premier League clubs still see youth development as a hindrance to success unless the player happens to be a Gareth Bale level player.

In Germany and Spain youth development is seen as key in first team success- even at Real Madrid where Marco Asensio (aged 21) has been promoted to the first team possibly explaining why Real allowed Morata to join Chelsea.

Meanwhile at Stamford Bridge John Terry said on departing the club one of his reasons to go was he didn’t want to stand in the way of Nathan Ake, Nat Chalobah & Kurt Zouma making their first team claims- by the end of the the transfer window Chelsea had sold 2 and loaned out the other of those 3, together with Ruben Loftus Cheek, Christian Atsu & Dom Solanke. A penny for John’s thoughts now!

The curious case of Jadon Sancho

Whilst most eyes this summer where on Manchester City’s big money imports there was a significant export- 17 year old Jadon Sancho who joined Borussia Dortmund. The academy product was one of 2 outstanding individuals in England’s spring run to the Under 17s European Championship final along with City teammate Phil Foden.

Sancho turned down a £30k a week contract at City because he didn’t see a path to the first team. Foden did sign and started on City’s preseason tour but is yet to start a game this season.

If Sancho makes significantly faster progress to the Dortmund first team than Foden to City’s (as seems likely) it will influence the career decisions of future academy graduates at City and beyond. It could also prove acutely embarrassing for City if their top prospect left to succeed at a club who’ve consistently outperformed them in Europe. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out with Sancho currently waiting on a work permit but he has been handed the no7 shirt at the Westfalenstadion, replacing 18 year old Ouse Dembele who joined Barcelona for £97million.

The threat of regulation and quotas

English clubs tanking it up in the Champions League is there own business but the England teams failures have far greater reach. If England fail again next summer and beyond the Sports Minister will be asking questions. The FA will point to their ongoing success at youth level and rightly claim they’ve put their house in order (and not before time!) Fingers will then be pointed at a league that continues to spend heavily on ready made stars whilst not offering young players a chance.

Many will point out England’s past failings didn’t lead to anything changing- true but the last World Cup saw their first group phase elimination since 1958 and the ensuing Euros saw elimination by Iceland- we are in uncharted waters. It should also be noted when the British Olympic team reached its nadir in Atlanta 1996 the BOA chief was swiftly summoned to Whitehall to explain and changes swiftly implemented with Britain’s Olympic performances improving at every Games since.

Player quotas are a terrible idea that won’t work but that doesn’t justify the Premier League being the polar opposite. Currently teams cannot exceed 17 imported players in their PL squads (meaning players trained in academies outside England & Wales).  It’s been proposed that could decrease to 13 but this has yet to happen. The issue isn’t so much the star players it’s depth of squad made up by ready made signings (regardless of nationality). Another solution might be an NFL style salary cap- a rule that was brought in to stop the best teams hoarding an entire depth chart of top class players.

The Hope

Hopefully the league will learn itself without the need for regulation (regulations are only ever brought into an industry when it proves it can’t regulate itself). Sir Alex Ferguson often said the success of the national team was vital to the health of the Premier League and perhaps Phil Foden & Dom Solanke will make themselves indispensable to City & Liverpool respectively in the League Cup next week. And if the Premier League can’t/ won’t give chances to young players then more will need to follow the trail blazed by Eric Dier in Portugal and move abroad as Sancho & Reece Oxford have.

The exodus at Chelsea this summer suggests young players are getting the message and moving to clubs that offer first team

Football (Loftus-Cheek, Chalobah, Abraham) albeit some are going on loan but it’s an improvement on sitting on the edge of an 18 man match day squad

The Fear

Next summer will see another tidal wave of money spent on ready made stars with opportunities for academy products reduced even further.

Let’s take Manchester United as an example. I’d predict United will average 3 English players a game this season: Rashford, Jones and either Shaw or Ashley Young at left back. With their young academy prospects who showed potential at the end of last season like Alex Tuzanabe limited to League Cup and dead rubbers.

Over next summer United will make 3-4 big signings likely to include a winger, left back and forward with the possible outcome only Rashford will get a game from the home grown group. It may prove difficult for the marginalised likes of Lingard and Shaw to find transfers as both are on wages beyond the means of most and United won’t sell to a title rival. I’ll stress this hypothesis on United is repeatable at all leading PL clubs.

We’ll have to wait and see how things play out. But the Premier League’s long term future can’t be placed solely on the transfer window. And England must not let their promising youth teams go to waste on the margins of PL squads.

De Boer sacking an act of Premier League madness- but it might just work.

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4 Games & 77 Days! That’s how long Frank De Boer lasted at Crystal Palace. De Boer was brought in to oversee the transition of Palace from a kick and rush side to Ajax style total football. How Steve Parish thought this would be achieved in 77 days is a mystery.

Parish declared he consulted 37 managers this summer and all of them told him the team needed to evolve it’s style of play and that was the reasoning behind appointing De Boer. This seems a strange arguement- are we to believe had Sam Allardyce stayed Parish would have insisted on Big Sam evolving their style of play? No chance- and let’s remember Palace were looking for a manager in the first place because Allardyce announced his sudden retirement from Premier League management not that he had disagreements with club over style.

Having lost Allardyce unexpectedly Palace made the huge mistake of taking half the summer transfer window to decide on a replacement, interviewing numerous candidates. In taking their time they saw Watford beat them to the signature of Marco Silva.

They also lost precious time in the player recruitment process, ending up with a late deal for Mamadou Sakho and loanees- hardly the overhaul in personal required for an overhaul in style, so what did they think was going to happen?

Roy Hodgson is widely tipped to be the next man in at Selhurst Park and he is a good fix it manager having previously turned around West Brom & Fulham- taking The Cottagers from the brink of relegation to the UEFA Cup final. Hodgson will probably get more out of the players available to him than De Boer managed and he does seem a more adaptable manager who’ll get the results with what he has and evolve the style of several transfer windows.

There are 2 problems with this approach. Firstly Hodgson hasn’t managed since England’s humiliating Euro 2016 exit and most Ex England managers have struggled to get their mojo back. I’ve always felt part of the problem is managing a national team takes a manager out of club football for a long period (5 & a half years in this case) and a lot changes in that time. Can Hodgson hit the ground running after that amount of time away from the Premier League?

The other issue is Palace have been here too often in the past and consequently are using up their lives in the fix it manager stakes- they’ve already been through Tony Pulis & Sam Allardyce both experts at short term turn arounds and pulling towards the 40 point target and Hodson is the last name left in the hat. Parish is talking about long term evolution but his actions closely resemble Ellis Short’s reign at Sunderland- and look how that turned out.

De Boer may well have been the wrong choice for Palace and Hodgson may well work out in the short term but Palace are now drinking in the last chance saloon.

Arsenal- Worrying lessons from the past

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Just how bad are things at Arsenal? There’s been a lot of hyperbole around the Gunners demise and it’s hard to argue they’ll do better than 7th this season, with revitalised Everton likely to move into the top six.

There is a certain amount of unrealistic expectation being placed on Arsenal, their place as serial title contenders was only consistently true under Wenger going back to the early 70s. After the 1971 double Arsenal had to wait 18 years for their next title under George Graham. The Graham sides dramatic 1989 crown was followed 2 years later by a second, but they never challenged seriously for the title again until Wenger’s arrival.

Since then the better financed Manchester City & Chelsea sides came along pushing the Gunners down to 4th place finishes. Now they’ve been pushed down further largely due to Liverpool and more painfully Tottenham appointing great managers who can develop talent like few in the game.

The argument for keeping with Wenger is simply who do they think they can get who’s better? Answer no one- the managers of all six English sides rated better than Arsenal are unattainable, and it’s fanciful to think Diego Simeone would want it and Massimilano Allegri doesn’t seem keen either.

The best bet for Arsenal is a young up and coming manager- as Pochettino was when Spurs came calling, Eddie Howe & Brendan Rodgers seem the most likely candidates right now and both would need the help of a strong structure to settle into- something shockingly lacking at Arsenal which increasingly looks like a one man show.

One of the things that sank David Moyes at Manchester United (aside from being David Moyes) was the retirement of David Gill as CEO at the same time Ferguson left, decapitating the club of leadership on and off the pitch. And that’s just the first worrying sign post for where Arsenal are.

Arsenal doing a Leeds?

Leeds United sank from 5 successive top 5 finishes to a relegation dogfight in 2003, ironically surviving with a late season 3-2 win at Highbury. However relegation was confirmed a year later and the club even sank into the third tier for 3 seasons.

Of course suggestions Arsenal are going the same way is over dramatic, Leeds’ demise was caused by the financial mismanagement of then chairman Peter Ridsdale who appeared to finance the club on Wonga and the ensuing downward spiral eventually saw the club in administration, Leeds’ recent revival in the Championship has started from the new ownership of Andrea Radrizzani providing a solid financial base. Arsenal are at least fiscally a well run club whose resources are greater than 90% of the clubs in Europe.

One lesson from up the M1 Arsenal fans should learn is not to over dramatise their clubs issues, cries across the internet and Five Live phone ins from North London howled of ‘heartbroken fans’, ‘club devastated’ et all. Get real! As a Leeds fan living in North London it’s hard not to laugh at the supposed torture suffered by fans having to suffer 1 season outside the Champions League and not being in title contention, instead having to make do with 3 FA Cups in 4 years: try watching your side in League 1 or being run by Ken Bates- that’s pain.

Yes it’s bad at Arsenal but a little perspective is required- especially if you’re a grown man protesting outside the Arsenal training ground holding a ‘Wenger Out’ sign. To their immense credit Leeds fans have always got behind their team on match days, that’s clearly not the case at the Emirates.

Stan Kroenke’s other club

A worrying study for Arsenal fans is their majority shareholder’s ownership of NFL franchise the Los Angeles Rams. Kroenke got involved with the Rams by acquiring a 30% shareholding in the franchise in 1995. He immediately lobbied for a move from LA to St Louis and duly got his way.

On the field things initially went well after relocation- 5 years on from arriving in St Louis the Rams were Super Bowl Champions for the first time in their history. Kroenke engaged in a long battle to gain full control, with confusion off the pitch results returned to mediocrity on it. The Rams employed what is widely seen as a poor front office (player scouting and recruitment) and Jeff Fisher as Head Coach. Fisher was seen as an innovative coach- in the 80s and early 90s; by the time he arrived in St Louis he was seen as old school and over complicating as a coach. Fisher lead the Rams to 4 more painful mediocre seasons whilst Kroenke who refused to fire him (until 2016) spent his time trying to build  new stadium which will eventually arrive in 2018- back in Los Angeles.

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A club preoccupied with a Stadium move and little direction off the field. Poor recruitment and a over the hill coach kept around far too long- sound familiar?

If you’re looking for a silver lining here the Rams did eventually replace Fisher with a highly touted young coach in Todd McVeigh and caused a stir in the 2016 NFL draft by trading up heavily to sign young Quarterback Jared Goff- but most see things going backwards in LA before they get better.

Brian Clough and Nottingham Forest

Whilst doing a Leeds is an over the top assessment, the story of their shortest serving manager is perhaps a closer approximation of Arsenal’s problems. Brian Clough achieved staggering feats with Nottingham Forest. Arriving with his reputation on the line following failed spells at Leeds & Brighton, Clough took the small previously unheralded clubs up to the first division in 1977 and a year later pipped all conquering Liverpool to the League title. Things then got even better with back to back European Cup wins and won every coaching accolade possible.

Clough’s formula was remarkably simple- he played a counter attacking style relying heavily on winger John Robertson to break. Clough was allowed to spend the fruits of Forest’s success and bought shrewdly most notably Peter Shilton & making the first million pound signing in Trevor Francis.

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But as the 80’s rolled in Forest slid back to Top six contenders rather than title winners as the Merseyside clubs dominated English football and new young managers such as Robson, Venables & Taylor took smaller clubs to the higher echelons of English Football whilst Forest lacked the resources to match Liverpool & Everton. Forest got a reputation as a selling club- particularly to Manchester United with Viv Anderson, Gary Birtles & Peter Davenport all heading to Old Trafford for big cheques.

Clough went from pragmatist to purist developing a neat passing style of play with which Forest became synonymous. However the trophies dried up with only 2 League Cup triumphs at the end of the decade added to the trophy cabinet. By the dawn of the Premier League era Forest were seen as a side who on their day could beat anyone but could also ship 5 goals on a bad one.

Clough’s Forest were the earliest casualty of the early Premier League falling into relegation trouble in the new leagues debut season with Clough refusing to move to a more direct style to fight off relegation. Forest were relegated in 1993 with Clough retiring, leaving Barry Davies in tears at his final post match interview.

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Forest’s demise had been caused by not being able to compete financially with the Merseyside clubs and a lack of alternative voices in the backroom staff (longtime cohort Peter Taylor retired in 1982) as the club increasingly became a one man show.

It paints a very similar picture to what we’re now seeing at Arsenal, admittedly Clough’s decline wasn’t helped by a drink problem but the pattern is eerily similar.

Where Now? 

I like many thought things would actually change this summer but clearly they didn’t, Arsenal need to appoint a Director of Football even if they initially answer to Wenger so the club can survive when the Frenchman goes and have a handover strategy in place. One of that man’s key responsibilities should be to identify the long term successor to Wenger.

Wenger himself needs to start prepping his players for specific opponents- as he clearly did at Wembley for the Cup Final, it’s truly incredible this doesn’t seem to happen consistently. Arsenal also need to take the Europa League seriously- like United last season this may be their easiest route back to the Champions League.

Finally the atmosphere at the Emirates has to improve, it’s one thing for fans to voice their opinions but the toxic atmosphere at home games is only making matters worse- get behind your team even if not the manager or owners.

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New Season predictions

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Here’s my exhaustive list of 2017/18 season predictions;

Domestic

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Premier League Champions- Tottenham

CL Qualifiers- Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd

FA Cup- Liverpool

League Cup- Man City

Relegation- Huddersfield, Burnley, Brighton

Promotion- Leeds, Fulham, Middlesboro’

Europe

La Liga- Real Madrid

Bundesliga- Bayern Munch

Ligue 1- PSG

Serie A- AC Milan

SPL- Celtic

Champions League- Bayern Munich

Europa League- Everton

Random Stuff

Top Scorer- Harry Kane (Spurs)

Player of the year- Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Breakout Star- Dom Solanke (Liverpool)

Best Signing- Javier Hernandez (West Ham)

First manager to leave post- Rafa Benitez (Newcastle)

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First Sacking- Mark Hughes (Stoke)

Most Red Cards- Gabriel (Arsenal)

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Player Mourinho falls out with first- Anthony Martial

Manager Mourinho falls out with first- Arsene Wenger (who else)

Month we see the first ‘Wenger Out’ banner over the Emirates- September.

First Manager to have a Kevin Keegan style meltdown on camera- Antonio Conte

 

Final Premier League Table

  1. Tottenham
  2. Man City
  3. Chelsea
  4. Man United
  5. Liverpool
  6. Arsenal
  7. Everton
  8. Bournemouth
  9. Leicester
  10. Southampton
  11. Watford
  12. West Ham
  13. Crystal Palace
  14. Swansea
  15. Stoke
  16. West Brom
  17. Newcastle
  18. Brighton
  19. Burnley
  20. Huddersfield

7 Premier League Rule Changes that should happen

The new season is almost here, but all is not necessarily well in the beautiful game so I’ve come up with 5 rule changes that should happen;

  1. Loan players can play against their parent club. This is bloody obvious! whilst it’ll be fascinating to see how Chelsea’s young loanees get on this season the fact they won’t be allowed to play against Chelsea is going bring them an unfair advantage in the title race. Thus far Crystal Palace, Stoke, Huddersfield, Brighton & Swansea have Chelsea players on loan (that’s 10 games) in which Chelsea will face weakened opponents in the league. Of course others are loaning around the division too, notably Man City. I like the loan system and think those young players on loan will benefit from the experience but I don’t buy they have conflict of interest argument  of them playing their parent club, if anything wouldn’t they be more motivated to play well against a team they’re trying to break into?1004070fd5fe7631dc09855ab0c97288
  2. Restrictions on age of loan players. Whilst young players going on loan is an essential part of their development veterans being loaned out is daft. What’s the point of Joe Hart going on loan? Maybe it’s understandable going on loan to foreign leagues, but ultimately West Ham will learn nothing from loaning Hart they don’t already know, that should be a permanent deal. I propose limiting loans between premier league clubs to Under 23s.
  3. The transfer window closes at the start of the season. This is a no brainer, the summer window should close at midday the day before the season kicks off. The days of blockbuster deadline day deals seem over so why keep it open for 3 weeks after the season starts? Worse still this season it closes on an international week causing yet more disruption. 25 man squads should be finalised before the season starts and then the whole business stops until January.
  4. Winter Break. That old chestnut- people often say the lack of a winter break is just an excuse for England to fail in the summer, fine remove the excuse! There are plenty of ways to accommodate a 2 week break in January, most obviously play the League Cup Final before Christmas, keeping the competition clear of the January- May half of the season. Removing the March International friendly fixture in tournament years would be another (see point 7 for more on that). It would also reduce the Africa Cup of Nations issue every other year in the Premier League. Given the way English sides have generally performed in the later rounds of the Champions League it’s hard to argue clubs wouldn’t also benefit from the break. Of course it would need to be policed by the Premier League to ensure nobody uses it as an excuse to go on a money making tour. Oh and if we haven’t got time for a Winter Break why have we got time for a post season tour by every big club each May. Bonkers!
  5. Friday night PL games for European participants. Most other European participants play their game preceding a Champions League encounter on the Friday night before the Tuesday night CL match. In England this never happens with teams often playing on the Sunday before the Tuesday night game. It’s daft and only happens for TV ratings, but surely in a league where Middlesborough or Burnley seemed to be on every Monday Night we can find another 2 games on Sunday and televise a Friday night match for a CL team?
  6. Post match referee interviews. The manager, the players, even the fans give a post match reaction and the refereeing decisions are usually a talking point- so why aren’t the referees ever interviewed?
  7. Midseason international friendlies abolished. As an England fan I find the friendlies ever more tedious, made worse by the fact once prestigious fixtures are now a regular occurrence- England have now played Germany & France in back to back seasons, we also play friendlies against Italy & Holland with tedious regularity. I would propose scrapping the mid season friendlies concentrating mid season internationals on qualifying and on current Friendly designated match days simply have England squad training and get together sessions- as pioneered by Terry Venables in the Euro ’96 build up. Then play friendlies in the summer in either a friendly tournament as previously seen with the Rous & Umbro Cups or major tournament build up matches. Of course 2018 will see the UEFA League of Nations kick off- we’ll have to see if that works better, could it be worse than friendlies?