Tag Archives: Chelsea

Can English football benefit from a Draft?

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This week I watched the NFL draft for the first time, and despite being slightly wary of whether it would be an entertaining and enjoyable experience, I absolutely loved it. The question in mind throughout was “could this be introduced in to English football to make it more open and competitive?”

 For those people not familiar with the NFL Draft, in a nutshell, the team which finished with the worst record the previous season gets the first NFL Draft pick, working down to the team who won the Superbowl picking last. There are 7 rounds to the draft, each following the same order, resulting in 253 players being ‘drafted’. The players available for the draft are those eligible from college football – that meaning: those who have been out of High School for 3 years or more; those who submit as an underclassman whom the NFL then grade, giving the players the chance to go in to the draft or continue at school; those who have graduated from College within 1 year; if you didn’t go to college you can apply once four seasons have passed since you or classmates graduated High School. The usual route in to the draft is to be play College Football, be scouted, and attend the NFL Combine and school Pro-Days. All seems pretty straight forward – the worst team from the previous season gets to pick the best player out of the system to give them the chance to improve, and ultimately to keep the NFL competitive; that is where the phrase “Any Given Sunday” comes from; in the NFL, any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday. It is rare that the worse team one season, is the worse team the following season. Similarly, the Superbowl is not often won by the same team in consecutive years.

Straightforward, right? Wrong. To improve their prospects, NFL teams will trade for better picks. For instance, if you like the look of a player in the draft and your team has a need for that position, but their pick is further down the list, they can trade with a team higher up the list to get a better chance of acquiring that player – but this usually costs them; not in financial terms but in terms of additional picks. In this way, a team may trade their first pick for multiple picks in later rounds or even the following years draft. For example, the LA Rams traded their first round pick in the 2017 draft in addition to other picks, for the Tennessee Titans overall first pick in the draft in 2016 to enable them to sign Jared Goff (a strange decision given that Goff hardly featured in a poor first season for the Rams in their maiden year in LA). In this years draft, the Chicago Bears who were due to pick third overall, traded up one place with the San Francisco 49ers and took Quarterback Mitch Trubisky, costing them their 3rd, 67th and 111th pick in this years draft, and a 3rd round pick in next years draft. A lot to give up to pick one slot earlier, for a quarterback who isn’t highly rated by everybody and who the San Francisco 49ers probably wouldn’t have picked. So why do it? The risk in the draft is that if you don’t pick up the phone and make the deal with the 49ers, someone else might, and they might take that pick that you wanted.

The actual NFL Draft programme itself may seem boring on paper: you watch 32 teams each make the equivalent of 7 picks over 3 nights. In round 1 once the draft starts, each team has 10 minutes to make their pick and notify the NFL; once they have submitted their pick, the next team is on the clock. As the draft goes in to the later rounds, the amount of time teams have to make their pick reduces (7 minutes for round 2 and so on). The Cleveland Browns who had the overall first pick, you would think, wouldn’t need all 10 minutes to make their pick as they have had months to review the options and make their decisions, but they hang on in case the phone rings and there is a trade on offer too good to turn down. As was the case this year, they took Myles Garrett as predicted, with all the action happening for the 2nd pick. From an entertainment perspective, the time actually flew in the open rounds as you get ‘experts’ take on who each team will pick, and then who has been picked, with trades happening all the time. In the later rounds, for myself, I wasn’t too familiar with the players on offer so the excitement waned a little.

From a football perspective, the whole Draft event is very much like Transfer Deadline Day on speed. Jim White would no doubt lap up the job of NFL Commissioner presenting each pick to the fans.

On a serious note though, is there scope for something like the draft in English football? Every year we are told that it is harder and harder to break in to the top 6 of the Premier League, and that the gap between the divisions is getting greater and greater, but nothing is being done to stop this and make the divisions more competitive. Whilst at the same time, every club bemoans the way the transfer windows work which result in the over inflation of prices and teams paying over the odds for players on the last day – think Moussa Sissokho. So could a Draft-like system help?

The first stumbling block is the nature of the Draft in that it is College footballers who are drafted. In England we don’t follow a system whereby the best young players are picked from schools or university’s as part of an open forum; we operate by club scouts scouring schools and amateur leagues to find the best young prospects and offering them contracts. For the most part, these players are then not seen again for a number of years until they surface in the Youth Development Squads and then the first team (or if you are at Chelsea, you’ll be loaned out for multiple seasons and then sold in to obscurity for the most part). The Chelsea reference is intended as a joke, but there is a serious side: a lot of young talented footballers are snapped up en mass by the bigger clubs and then continuously being loaned out without ever being given a fair crack at the first team. I know why teams do it, bulk buy and hope you find the next star, whilst also preventing your rivals acquiring the same potential star. But for the individuals involved it doesn’t necessarily work, and surely these players would be better suited joining a team lower down the leagues and actually playing; which ultimately would create more of a level playing field, as young talent can help improve those teams. An additional benefit would also be more home grown players getting game time.

So perhaps the Draft in its purest duplication in football in England would not work, but there is the potential for a sort of draft to be implemented once youngsters reach the Youth Development Squads at their clubs, or even a draft-like system for loan signings. So my two proposals for implementing a draft like system to improve competitiveness down the leagues, increase the number of home-grown players getting game time, and ultimately getting players game time are as follows:

  1. Youth Development Draft – each team has a certain number of players who they can choose to retain from the Youth Development Squad, which excludes them from the Draft. The remainder of players who are due to “graduate” from the Youth Development Squad are entered in to a Draft. The sequence of Draft picks are determined by where a team finished that season – 24th in League Two would pick first, with the Premier League Winners picking last. The Draft would continue until all eligible players that season had been taken.
  2. Loan Draft – before a player in the Youth Development Squad reaches “graduation age” (say 21 for example) they can be made available for loan, similar to the current system, where again, a draft approach would be adopted for all these players, with the order of picks following the above. The traditional system for loaning ‘above-age’ players would still be followed; with the additional caveat that if a player is listed for loan and not loaned out before the draft, they can also be included as part of the draft.

This would allow the big clubs to spend millions on superstars to keep their clubs progressing, but it would get more youngsters playing week in and week out, improving competitiveness throughout the leagues and increasing the number of home-grown players getting game time which can only be good for the Home Nations national sides. It would also stop so many promising young players dropping out of the game for good. Its just an idea, but with so many clubs struggling to compete financially, surely this is a sensible way for them to improve their playing squads and outlooks.  

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The most unpredictable league in the world

This time 12 months ago the world was preparing for footballing life without Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm of Manchester United – his legacy passed on to his chosen one, David Moyes. Who would’ve thought back then that Manchester United would be preparing to a start a season in which they would not feature in Europe, and in which they would play in the second road of the league cup?! Who would’ve thought Sir Alex’s prodigal son, Moyes, wouldn’t even last the season? Who would’ve thought that in his first season away from football, Sir Alex might see his arch-rivals Liverpool come a whisker away from their first Premier League title? Who would’ve thought Arsenal would final end their trophy drought, with an FA Cup win at Wembley?

So twelve months on – is there much point trying to predict what will happen over the course of the next 38 Premier League matches? Probably not, but let’s run the rule over the favourites, contenders, and also-rans.

Manchester City – for me, they start the season as favourites. They may have won the league last year by default during a season of change, but they haven’t lost any players of note and key players have signed extended deals which can only be a good thing. They have also spent money, although the bulk of this has gone on a centre half with minimal caps for the French national side. They will miss Negredo as a battering ram of a plan B, but finish above them and you’ll probably win the league this season.

Liverpool – last season must have been beyond any Liverpool player’s wildest dreams, if they tell you they are happy with finishing 2nd, that will be a lie, they will never get as good a chance to win the league. This is especially so now that Suarez has left and broken up the Suarez-Sturridge partnership. Brendan Rodgers has spent the Suarez money but whether this was done wisely is yet to be seen. He has spent a lot, and brought in a lot of changes – whether this brings them success is yet to be seen. I think they will struggle this year with the loss of Suarez and the number of changes; that coupled with their return to Europe may too big a change for the Scousers, with the midweek games and renewed expectations weighing heavy on a relatively new squad. Champions League qualification this year would be a success.

Chelsea – many expected Mourinho to weave his magic upon his return last year, and the fact that he didn’t probably says a lot about the job which needed to be done at Chelsea. They have strengthened this year, and Jose will be relatively happy that the squad is becoming his own. They have a first class midfield with Fabregas, Oscar, Willian, Hazard, Matic and Ramires – but perhaps look a little short up front. Diego Costa’s style and physique suggest he is suited to the Premier League, but he will need to hit the ground running with Drogba’s advancing years, and Torres continued impersonation of the man who last pushed Liverpool towards the title before last year. But perhaps Chelsea’s secret is that their goals will come from midfield. Will likely be in the top 2 this year.

Arsenal – another stuttered campaign last time out with an awful first game of the season, followed by the usual “Wenger Out” shouts, followed by a strong start, before fading in the middle to end of the season. Arsenal arguably relied too much on Aaron Ramsey last season, and when he was side-lined their challenge fell by the wayside. With Ramsey back fit and the purchase of Sanchez (if they needed more pace and menace running from midfield), they should comfortably finish in the top four and even push the leaders. However, this may depend on whether Wenger is allowed to open the chequebook again. They are short of a striker, a centre half and possibly a defensive midfielder, and this may trip them up. If they don’t spend the money, a lot of pressure will be on Mertesacker and Koscielny to repeat their form from last season, or high expectations on Callum Chambers to step up to the plate. Top four, 3rd at a push.

Everton – a side that surprised many last season, will not have that element of attack this season. By signing two of the players who played a major factor in their high finish last season, they have done brilliant business, and unlike the traditional Everton, have splashed the cash. Whether Romelu Lukaku is already worth the £28m reportedly paid for him, is debatably, but at only 21, there is no doubt he has talent and is more than a handful, and should he do well for the Toffees, they should recoup that money, plus some. Like Manchester City, their best business has been keeping hold of their stars, and none more so than Ross Barkley. Champions League qualification looks a tough ask given the spending by teams around them, but they should be there or there abouts for the top 6 and Europa League qualification.

Tottenham Hotspur – despite finishing just 10 points off a Champions League place, last season will be viewed by many at the Lane as an absolute disaster. They lost their star player, spent the money, yet saw relatively little of what the money was invested in. Soldado failed to find his goal scoring boots, Lamela disappeared off the face of the earth and Paulinho failed to bring the Copa Cobana to London. To top it off, the man who signed them all, Andre Villas-Boas didn’t even make it to Christmas. This summer they have been more sensible with the purse strings and that may prove a good decision. The players they signed did not stop being good footballers overnight, and they are young enough to bounce back. In Pochettino they have a young manager who has shown what you can do with you and a defined playing style. I fully expect to see Erik Lamela show us what he is capable of – potentially due to input of his compatriot manager. Spurs will be pushing top four this year, but I feel will ultimately fall short, but 5th or 6th place is realistic.

Manchester United – for all connected with the club, and for all those not, last season was nothing short of a disaster. Starting the season with the question of whether Moyes could push for the title now looks a little optimistic, maybe even misplaced, as they ended up finishing outside of the European places, not just the Champions League, but the Europa League as well. Arguably the book shouldn’t only stop at Moyes; he had a squad some way off that of those around them in the league, and he allegedly lost the support of a number of the players who had pushed United to the title the season before, but as a manager, his job is to manage this to enable the team to finish as high in the table as possible, something he did not achieve. Many Manchester United fans didn’t think it the Manchester United way to sack a manager so soon in to their reign, but it just goes to show that money talks, and the threat of successive seasons without Champions League football was too great a risk for the club to take. Louis Van Gaal has been brought in after a successful World Cup campaign and has been allowed to spend money that Moyes was not – but he is not a guaranteed answer to their problems, and in all likelihood, it will take more than a season to get back on track and truly challenge for the title – however, their leave from European cup competitions may prove a benefit to their domestic campaign. They have strengthened the squad with the acquisitions of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, and a new-look attacking 3-5-1 formation should suit the array of number 10’s they have in their squad, but their new look, and potential frail backline could be their undoing. Top six should be a given, and a place in the Champions League would be a decent season.

Southampton – many would not have placed Southampton in the top ten last year, especially considering the national media attention given to the sacking of Nigel Adkins and the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino, but in his first full season in charge, the Argentinian was a revelation. They played a good, attractive style of football, combining a youthful squad with home grown talent, with steady players from across the seas. With that however, comes the bigger boys looking to take the jewels in their crown. Already gone from Southampton are Lallana, Lambert, Lovren, Shaw and Chambers – with Schneiderlin unhappy that he was not allowed to join the exodus. Even Pochettino joined the leaving party. This season they have a much trimmed and different first team to last season, along with a new manager. However, listening to comments from Saints fans they don’t seem too phased by the number of players leaving and are happy to put their faith once again in the incredibly successful youth system down at St Marys. They haven’t really spent the money from the outgoing transfer, apart from on Fraser Forster – despite goalkeeper being the one position they were relatively strong – but this could be wise given that every team will know they have the money and will be looking to up their asking prices significantly. It could be a big season for James Ward-Prowse who will be looking to stand in to the light in the absence of his former team-mates. It will be a struggle for Southampton this year and I think an initial target of survival would be wise, but it will all depend on how Koeman and the team starts – a poor start and the seed may have been sown for a season of struggles.

QPR – of the teams coming up to the Premiership, QPR look the best equipped to survive – but we have said this before, twice. Harry Redknapp hasn’t been has happy-go-lucky with the chequebook this pre-season, but the squad he has and the players at his disposal should be enough to keep them up, and the signing of Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker could prove shrewd, but whether they can adapt to the rumoured 3-5-1 formation talked of in the media, is yet to be seen. Asking players to fit in to this new style could be difficult, despite bringing Glenn Hoddle in to help with the transition. If they are struggling around Christmas time, expect the chequebook to have lost its padlock and be on the rampage. Survival should be achievable, somewhere between 11-15 most likely, but more down to poorer teams around them than their own quality.

Leicester – a very successful Championship campaign has seen Leicester finally return to the top table of English Football, but the success of that side, could be its undoing in the Premier League. At Championship level the Leicester side was efficient and featured second tier stalwarts like David Nugent, Paul Konchesky, Wes Morgan, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Chris Wood – but the step up to the Premier League is a big one. They have brought in experience in Matthew Upson, but spent big on Brighton’s Leonardo Ulloa which looks like a massive gamble. For £8m a more proven top level striker should surely have been acquired. Along with an established Championship side, Leicester’s promotion also coincided with their owner’s acknowledgement that stability is the way forward, and finally putting their faith in one manager instead of changing every 6-8 months. The question this season may be whether they stick with that faith is continued or if they will get trigger happy after a slow start (their opening fixtures do not look the most appealing), especially with Neil Lennon jobless at the minute. Survival will be difficult and beating the team around them will be crucial. Could be a long hard season ending in relegation.

Burnley – many are looking forward to the return of Burnley to take a closer look at Sean Dyche and what he is doing at the Lancashire club – and this is a reflection of the side he has put together. Last season they were not expected to challenge for promotion but managed to achieve it through automatic promotion, however, one or two more injuries and this could have been very different. Dyche has bolstered his squad with the acquisition of Premier League experience in Matthew Taylor, Steven Reid and Michael Kightly, but will it be enough, and more to the point will they be fit enough and injury free enough to have an impact on the seasons outcome? They relied heavily on the goals of Ings and Vokes, and have added to that fire power with the signing of Lucas Jutkiewicz, but it isn’t the most feared forward line in the land and goals may be an issue. Their biggest asset may be their home ground which is a million miles away from the modern stadiums of the Etihad and the Emirates, but they will have to make it a place teams won’t want to come, and a lot of this may depend on how they get on in their opener against Chelsea – keep it tight and get a draw or even a one nil defeat and the ground could prove key, lose by two or more and straight from the off they have lost that fortress factor. They will struggle, and relegation seems likely – whether Dyche goes down with his ship or jumps to a better offer may be the more interesting question.

Tips:
Winner – Manchester City

Relegation – Burnley, Leicester, and then between Sunderland, West Brom or Crystal Palace now that Pulis has gone – I’ll go for Palace.

Surprise package – Stoke – Mark Hughes has added to his side well and the signing of Bojan may prove a masterstroke.

Top Scorer – If he stays fit, Aguero, if not, Rooney. A good each way bet would be Fabregas at 66/1
One to watch – Bojan – arrives at the Britannia with a record of 180 games for the likes of Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax and Roma. At only 23 he seems to have been around for ages, but if he finds his home in Stoke, he has the quality to score and create the goals that could push Stoke on to their highest finish yet in the Premier League.

First to be sacked – Gary Monk could be in for a tricky season given the players he has lost (Michu, Davies, Chico and Vorm) and looks a decent bet at 10/1. A cheeky side bet may be for Nigel Pearson to be the first to go given their opening fixtures, and combine this with Neil Lennon to take his place and you will probably get some very nice odds (probably for a reason!).

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Away from the mainland, away from the action

Whilst the troublesome two-some of Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez occupy the back pages of the press in the UK, Manchester City have been quietly (for a change) going about their business, bringing in no less than four signings, that could potentially be any other clubs “star signing” – yet there has been little attention for this in the press, as they see the actions and quotes (or non-actions and a lack of quotes from Rooney) of the troubled two, as the topic that will sell the papers.

City have brought in Negredo, Jesus Navas, Stefan Jovetic and Fernandinho for a total of around £95m and seem to be the ones in the league spending the money. The likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have yet to get going – even Spurs have been more active, and perhaps most surprisingly, that hasn’t been due to Bale heading for the exit.

Manchester City have definitely stolen a march on the rest of the Premier League when it comes to star/big signings, but the more interesting question is: have the rest of Europe stolen a march on the English clubs?
From the look of things, the answer has to be yes. PSG have swept Edinson Cavani from under the noses of United, City and Chelsea; Neymar has snubbed Chelsea for Barcelona; the Germans seem to prefer Munich to Manchester; and other players such as Higuain and Villa can’t commit to joining the English clubs.

Looking back 5-10 years ago, England where the big spenders in the transfer market, splashing the cash to bring the likes of Robinho, Crespo, Drogba, Tevez, Aguero, Jo (remember him!), Torres et al – now only City look content to splash the cash away from the mainland. Back on the continent, Europe has caught up. English clubs are no longer given the luxury of paying the top dollar and being guaranteed to get their man. Now people are challenging them, and it is making the Champions League look a whole lot more exciting – and the Premier League potentially less explosive.

The forward lines across Europe could look something like: Messi/Neymar at Barcelona, Ronaldo/Benzema at Real Madrid, Ibrahimovic/Cavani at PSG, Mandzukic/Muller at Bayern, and Balotelli/El Sharaawy. Whereas here in England the following front lines don’t look as terrifying as they once did: Van Persie/Hernandez, Torres/Ba, Giroud/Podolski, Suarez/Sturridge (come season opener, neither may be starting!), and Negredo/Jovetic. Out of the list, I’d say only United and City look comparable to some of those across Europe.

What does this mean for the Premier League? It has levelled the playing field. The days of seeing 3 of the 4 clubs in the Champions League heralding from England are long gone, and the teams across Europe have the potential and power to prevent it happening for some years. The money is more evenly distributed across Europe now – no longer is England the only place for a rich owner, each country now has their own, some even two, cash rich clubs – France has PSG, Germany has Bayern, Spain has Barcelona and Real Madrid – and with the money that has been spent, a lot of the clubs who arguably play second fiddle, now find themselves with money to play with. This combined with the fact that the top of the Premier League will be battled out by three managers new to their club (including Mourinho in his second stint), only adds to the potential European disappointment. The one club in England who should be seeing this season as an opportunity for success are Arsenal – same manager, money to spend, a decent mix of youth and experience, but yet again Mr Wenger seems unwilling to splash the cash and go for it. It says a lot that the likes of Higuain have been linked with them, yet there has still to be any movement.

It could also be a good thing though. If players aren’t jumping at the chance to swim the channel to Britain, teams will be, to an extent, forced to look at their youngsters and then players further down the leagues. It may mean some time away from the big domestic European cup competitions, but it could also herald a bright era for the national team – a national team who has had a dismal summer on every front. Look at the players who are being sold for the big money this summer, for a lot of them, this is their first big money move. They must have developed somewhere to legitimise that price tag. Maybe now England can follow in the footsteps and put the emphasis back on development instead of on buying talent from somewhere else. After all, that is where the Giggs’, Rooney’s, Gerrard’s, Terry’s and the Lampard’s developed, on the British Isles.

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A week in the managerial life….

They say a week is a long time in football – this week could not be more relevant, particularly in the position of Manager (or Head Coach as its often referred to on the continent). In the space of 7 days there have been: two sackings; one slanderous comment which could result in the sack; a caretaker manager bidding to win the Champions League but is not likely to continue that role even if he wins; and the task of replacing a manager who has left to manage the national side. And to add to this, just weeks ago, the most successful manager in recent times has also left his post at Barcelona.

So, starting with Aston Villa and the departure of Alex McLiesh. He was never taken in by many of the fans from the start due to his Birmingham City blue nose history. But in my opinon, more importantly, he hasn’t had the best Premier League record, with his relegation with Birmingham City at the end of the 2010-11 season being the second time he had taken them down. This was proved when Villa finished the 2011-12 season with less points than Birmingham City got relegated with, but due to their being 5 worse teams, they survived. Early rumours are that Villa are looking at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Paul Lambert – but my advice would be stear well clear of the job. The Villa fans crave the success of the past, and in recent years have spent a lot of money on the likes of Darren Bent, Ashley Young, James Milner and Stewart Downing, only to sell them on a couple of years later (I think it is only a matter of time before Bent follows suit with the others) – and the money raised has not been reinvested, with the owners preferring to utilise the youth academy system instead. My choice for the job would be someone of the ilk of Bob Bradley from the USA, the homeland of owner Randy Lerner, or someone like Alan Curbishley who has been out of the job for a while but has a proven track record. The only thing standing in his way however, is that that record has been in keeping clubs in the division, and not winning trophies – but at the minute perhaps this is what Villa need.

Liverpool. King Kenny. Who would have thought he could even get the sack, never mind, have to travel to the owners territory and back again to get the dreaded boot. Hi stats speak for themself though – over £100m spent and no top four finish. Although they have won a cup and hit the woodwork more than anyone else in the league – the Champions League is where the money is at. Again, like Villa, I think Liverpool need to understand that they are no longer one of the big hitters of the Premier League who are feared and almost guaranteed a top four finish each season. Since the days of Rafa Benitiz Liverpool have somewhat stalled and if anything gone backwards under the Kings stewardship, with Manchester City and arguably Tottentham moving ahead of them. With regards to Kenny’s successor – the yanks have in the baseball world adopted an approach of taking in a youngish manager and sticking with them for a number of years and eventually reaping the rewards. For this reason, and mostly to the discontent of most Liverpool fans, I think the replacement will be either AVB or someone of the ilk of Didier Deschamps.

Chelsea – I’ll keep this review short as to get inside Abromovich’s head is almost a mission most impossible. If Roberto Di Matteo wins the Champions League tonight I still don’t the he will keep the job, as Roman will have intentions for someone else. He is known to go for big prominant names, however, the appointment of AVB to marshall the end of the careers of cult heroes such as Terry, Lampard and Drogba backfired, with their omissions leading to poor results (Mereiles isn’t fit to tie Lampards boots!) and ultimately his exit. My tip for the Chelsea managers job is Fabio Cappello. Two weeks ago I would have said possibly Mourinho, but his success in La Liga I think will drive him on to go for the Champions League next season. An outside bet would be Harry Redknapp as I believe Spurs may be at the end of their tether with his off the field issues and disappointment at their poor finish to the season from what looked like a certain 3rd spot.

WBA – this is perhaps the most intriguing of the managerial merry-go-round as they have had their hand forced – had England not taken Hodgson I think his job was the safest in the leaue behing Ferguson, Moyes and Pardew (this season). His work there, an at Fulham, has been nothing short of remarkable – steering both from relegation against the odds and in following seasons pushing them towards european qualification. He will be difficult to replace. I think we could see another cross midlands move with Chris Hughton leaving the blue noses for the Baggies – he, like Hodgson, has again worked wonders and over achieved at Birmigham getting them in to the play-offs before the shear volume of games took its toll (not forgetting their european exploits earlier in the season) – and not forgetting the work he did at Newcastle before his face no longer fit with the owner.

And finally, Blackburn Rovers – who, as I write this, are not managerless, however against the odds this is. I must admit I am biased on this topic with myself being a life-long Blackburn fan and season ticket owner – but the days of winning the league and european qualification are long gone. The question at Ewood is – how has he still got a job? His record is very poor (he can’t be far off the worst win percentage in the premier league now – a record I am sure Tony Adams will be hoping gets broken soon); his tactical knowledge appears to be lacking; hs transfer policy is questionable; and his knowledge of the law appears to be absent. This week he has been seen filmed back in the summer of 2011 sticking the knife in the back of Allardyce and twisting it between the shoulder blades; predicting a cup success; and boasting about his exploits of finding hidden talent at the club. Rightly so, Allardyce has taken legal advice under the accusation of him being a ‘f****** crook’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xcB9XfLjL8), add this to the drink driving prosecution Kean has already faced and he is building up quite a reputation. What frustrates the Blackburn fans most is his lies. Even in the videos the lies still spout out about how he found Olsson (who was playing under Hughes) and how he plucked Jones from the academy (people at other clubs were aware of Jones then as well as fans of the club), and the last nail in the coffin – following relegation, admitting that these were ‘exciting times’ for Blackburn Rovers. I wonder if that offer for Ronaldhino is still on the table. Unfortunately, as it stands, Kean is still in a job and it doesn’t look like he is going anywhere – but the real problem, which most Blackburn fans realise, is the owners, the Venky’s, who have ripped the club to pieces yet shown no interest in running the club. The fear of many is that they will take the parachute payment, sell the prized player assets and then head for the hills – although in the short term this would be devastating, in the long term, this may be the best option. Survival next season is already in doubt.

Predictions: –

Bayern Munich 3 – 1 Chelsea

West Ham 3-2 Blackpool

Aston Villa – Alan Curbishley

Chelsea – Fabio Cappello

Liverpool – AVB

WBA – Chris Hughton

Blackburn Rovers  – Steve Kean

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