Everton’s Marco Silva to be sacked? Perhaps it should be the board

After being destroyed 5-2 in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool, Everton reached a new low and are now in the relegation zone, what happens next? The thinking is clear and that is manager Marco Silva will be sacked, and yet it hasn’t happened yet.

Everton club owner Farhid Moshiri hinted that results needed to be improved as far back as last January when Everton were going through a miserable spell. The problem for the club is that they head hunted Silva from Watford as if he was the second coming and paid £4m for his services- you don’t do that and then sack the ‘messiah’ five months later. They held on and admittingly Everton’s results picked up near the end of the season. But this new lack of form has riddled the club since the beginning of the season, when is it enough.

Bill Kenwright on the board at Everton could be seen shaking his head when Leicester grabbed a last minute winner against Everton last weekend and that seemed to be the nail in the coffin. After all reports had suggested that Silva had one game v Leicester to keep his job. The board stepped back and gave him the Liverpool one and they conceded 5 goals. The players simply aren’t good enough and Silva does seem like the wrong manager. Should he be sacked? It looks like the right answer, the problem though is the board should go with him.

So here is the deal with the board at Everton, they have been incredibly generous at the club. In most cases fans want the board out and new ownership because of tight purse strings but this really isn’t the case at Everton, No with Moshiri backing them up and TV revenue at the highest it’s been Everton are spending money, so well done on the board for that. The problem is that the board are identfying the wrong managers to take over the club and it hasn’t just happened once or twice. Anyone remember Ronaldo Koeman? Not even Roberto Martinez was a success although he did have a very decent first season with the club.

Behind Manchester City and Liverpool Everton are the 3rd highest spenders in recent seasons, so to finish mid table and to be 18th in this season shows very poor skills at the top. Why did the board chase after Silva? On what knowledge did they want to bring in the likes of Sam Allardyce and Koeman? It shows a lack of ambition. So yes well done that the board are willing to open up the chequebook but it is bittersweet when they are not attracting top drawer managerial talent. Jose Mourinho’s move to Tottenham being an obvious recent example.

Rumours are suggesting that David Moyes who spent 11 seasons at the club in the 2000s could be coming back. Moyes did well for the club in that he had next to no budget and kept them a regular top six side, but he won nothing in that time. Moyes has been poor since leaving Everton and there is a feeling of nostalgia taking place, that doesn’t usually end well. Again if the Moyes story is true then the board are at fault and are showing a serious lack of ambition.

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Liverpool go 11 points clear as Premier League title becomes a reality

When Liverpool beat Manchester City to go 9 points clear of the champions many pundits and fans said that was it, Liverpool would be champions this season. But the club have enjoyed a dream weekend where they have now extended that lead to 11 points and surely no team is catching them up now?

On Saturday Liverpool made heavy weather of Brighton at Anfield. Whilst they ran into a 2-0 lead, Brighton pulled one back towards the end and there was some genuinely tense moments before the game could be settled. When the final whistle went there was a massive roar in the Kop end because Manchester City had played earlier and could only draw 2-2.

One has to question City’s hunger, passion, willingness and desire this season. They are one of the best teams in Europe of course, but one senses because of how they won the league last season and have back to back wins, Pep Guardiola’s team are now concentrating more on the Champions League. For sure that is the trophy that Guardiola wants and wouldn’t want to leave a 2nd club in a row, the first being Bayern Munich without the Champions League.

It is easy to scoff at the fact that City lack passion etc. In fact they have it in bundles, but they just don’t have it as much as Liverpool do. Has a club ever wanted the Premier League title so bad? And of course they haven’t won the top tier league in England since 1990.

With City dropping points it was up to Frank Lampard’s Chelsea to go 2nd and decrease that gap over Liverpool, but they failed spectacularly. Chelsea, who have been one of the best in form teams in the league lost 1-0 at home to  West Ham in one of the biggest surprises so far in the Premier League season. It was only Chelsea’s 2nd loss at home this season and in fact the club have had a week to forget after drawing 2-2 away to Valencia in the Champions League, thus still not sealing their qualification.

Leicester are next up and they play later today at home to Everton. With the brilliant form that the Foxes have shown they will be favourites to win that game, but after seeing some surprises on Saturday who knows what will happen and of course Everton need the win or manager Marco Silva could be sacked.

If Leicester do win they would go 2nd in the league and climb onto 32 points and would cut Liverpool’s lead to 32. Whilst the Foxes have been superb could we realistically see them being the team to step up and challenge Liverpool? Well they did win the league in 2016. Today will ask more questions of Brendan Rodgers super side.

For now Liverpool look well on their way to winning the league and winning it with ease. Can anyone stop them?

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Why Everton can’t sack Marco Silva right now

At the weekend Everton slumped to their 7th defeat from 13 games, but this was a loss that felt completely different from the others that preceded it. Why? Well going into the match it was clear that Everton manager Marco Silva was under pressure to keep his job. But there was confidence in the side who had recently drawn against Tottenham and beat Southampton and then Norwich arrived.

The problem with losing 2-0 to Norwich was (A) it was at home and (B) it was against the bottom club who had shipped 28 goals. It was in a nutshell a disastrous result that plummeted the club to 16th position and just four points clear of Norwich. It was a result that should have triggered Silva’s sacking, except it didn’t.

Apparently former Everton manager David Moyes is waiting in the wings and there have been reports that the club would try for Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder and Burnley’s Sean Dyche, so why not make a move? The reason seems to be what is awaiting the club fixture wise. Check this out.

This weekend Everton will play Leicester away from home. This is the same Leicester who are currently in 2nd place and are undefeated at home this season. Meanwhile Everton have lost 4 from 6 games away from home winning just one. After that game comes another away match this time to the team in 1st place- Liverpool. The Merseyside derby is always good and tense but the way Liverpool has been playing this looks like being a bad weekend for the club.

After that Everton have to play the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal. A date with Manchester City away from home awaits the club on New Year’s Day. So look at the situation from this point of view. If Everton reacted in a normal manner Silva would be sacked and an incoming manager is brought in, but look at those fixtures. Those are matches that can make everything seem rather difficult. Do Everton really want to put a new manager in that type of firing squad? One difficult game after another could build a very negative reputation.

Look at Tottenham, their appointment of Jose Mourinho was perfect for the fixtures coming up. Playing West Ham who have been very poor lately, then it was a Champions League match against Olympiacos the weakest team in their group and this weekend Spurs will be at home again this time to Bournemouth. Owner Daniel Levy has obviously seen this and eased Mourinho into the role.

The same should happen with a new Everton manager. And who knows maybe Silva’s Everton will produce the odd shock anyway. But long term it seems that Silva’s days are away from the club. It’s just the timing that counts now and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Everton change manager not now but in a months time.

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Is this the worst Arsenal side in 35 years?

On Saturday it happened again at the Emirates- Arsenal did not win. The 2-2 draw against Southampton marked the third game in a row that Unai Emery’s side have failed to win at home. The excuse could almost be forgiven if they had faced the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, but in that time along with Southampton they played Crystal Palace and Wolves. Are we now getting to the point where we can claim that this Arsenal side are the worst in a generation?

At the weekend the Gunners were heading for a defeat until a 95th minute goal by Alexandre Lacazette saved their skin. But the worrying fact was that Southampton who are relegation contenders were able to go away to Arsenal and have more shots on goal and more shots on target. Just like against Aston Villa who were 2-1 up here with a few minutes to go only for Arsenal to win 3-2, Arsenal seemed to find an escape hatch. But their results are now either losing games away from home where they remain dreadful or clutching onto some last desperate minute hope. This is not the Arsenal that we are all used too.

The rot has set in at the club, and apart from some obvious speed bumps like reaching the Europa League final last season and Emery achieving more points in his first season than Arsene Wenger did in his last, as a whole Arsenal seem to have been going backwards for the past few seasons.

First it was letting their neighbours Tottenham repeatedly finish in front of them for the first time in over 20 years, and it wasn’t just luck, Tottenham in every way and shape took over from Arsenal and have stepped out of their shadow. Then came the fact of non Champions League football. The way this season is going the Gunners will be omitted for the 3rd consecutive season.

When Arsenal inevitably fell apart in the closing stages against Leicester before the break manager Unai Emery was under immense pressure but told the press that the club had to remain calm. One could think this was in part because he had looked at the upcoming fixtures. Southampton, Norwich, West Ham all games that Arsenal should be winning. And yet when they face Southampton at home they didn’t win. Norwich have found some confidence in their 2-0 win away to Everton and one wonders being at home if they will now give Arsenal a game that they weren’t expecting?

It’s difficult to remember when Arsenal were this lost at sea and perhaps we would have to go back to the days of Don Howe in the mid 1980s for that. There was of course the season after George Graham was sacked that Arsenal looked like being on the decline and then Wenger was appointed which changed everything.

The problem for Arsenal is that they don’t seem to have the players to make that difference. When Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is missing or simply doesn’t score, Arsenal don’t seem to have a chance. He is their one player that can change a game. But you need a few more if you want to aim for the top.

By the end of the weekend Arsenal will be in 8th place and whilst they have only lost 3 games- the same as Manchester City, they have only won 4. They have also gone their last 5 games without a win picking up just 3 points from their last 15 available.

Times haven’t been as hard as this for Arsenal in years. But many fans wanted change, and to be fair they had a point. But the old saying comes to mind in this situation, be careful what you wish for.

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Has Euro 2020 qualifying been too predictable with ultimately too many miss matches?

Euro 2020 qualification is shaping up with all of the big guns qualifying easy, but have the bigger nations just had it too easy this time?

UEFA has increased the competition from 16 teams to 24, their excuse is that more nations who normally don’t qualify will get that chance and Finland have reaped that reward as an example. Wales are their too. But at the same time increasing by 8 teams also means it is very unlikely that we will get any shocks. For example the Netherlands have failed to qualify for a couple of major competitions this decade and Italy not being at the 2018 World Cup was a major surprise. Increasing teams chances also means that the bigger nations can have off days and still qualify.

England are a good example of how qualifying for the competition has basically become mundane, boring and predictable. Yes if you’re an England fan you would love the fact that the nation scored 11 goals in their last two qualifying games and didn’t ship any in their 7-0 win over Montenegro and 4-0 victory over Kosovo. But once you see that a whole domestic weekend of Premier League football had to be shifted in order to see such a miss match it just makes no sense.

England are not the only ones. There has been huge victories for the likes of Portugal and Spain and Italy recorded a 9-1 win over Armenia. Talk about competitive football.

In truth it is hard not to think that qualifiers exist for two reasons: Gate receipts and for UEFA to spread their brand and sponsorship. The solution seems an easy one not to have a qualification process. Qualifying has simply become too easy for the big nations whilst other nations are producing miss matches. Yes lesser footballing nations need that competitive football and they will get that with the UEFA Nations League, a rather silly idea but better than friendlies. Though let’s remind ourselves that friendlies still exist.

So just have no qualification and have all European national sides qualify for the competition proper. True it means the likes of San Marino could get hit for 10 goals in the competition proper, but the match would still feel more important being in a major competition than tucked away on a Monday night in Group E.

Qualification is here to stay though and it is just a thought. For now international football seems quite redundant as long as it’s not one of the major competitions- it is an advert in the blockbusting and interesting movie that is domestic football.

Tottenham will be Jose Mourinho’s biggest risk as a manager

Jose Mourinho has more or less always managed one of the biggest teams in the world. Real Madrid of course comes to mind and then there was Manchester United. Chelsea was another at the time when Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich pumped a bottomless pit into the club. And so Mourinho going to Tottenham asks lots of questions and one of those is that he is about to take on his biggest risk but most exciting one of his career.

The Tottenham job reminds one of when the Portuguese joined Inter Milan over a decade ago. In that Inter are a big name in Italian football much like Tottenham remain a big name in English football. Though Mourinho went to Inter and completely changed their history by winning the Champions League and other titles the biggest difference is that he arrived at a club who were already champions. Tottenham have not lifted the league title since 1961.

This is what makes Mourinho being in the dug out at Tottenham so special. He is at a club that perhaps he wouldn’t have dreamed of managing say five years ago- and that of course is credit to Mauricio Pochettino.

Mourinho’s task for the rest of the season will simply be a top half finish. The first objective is not to be 14th come the end of the weekend. The second will be to move up to the top half of the season and the third will be European qualification. One can sense that owner Daniel Levy would just be happy at this stage for the club to finish in a Europa League position.

So how might Mourinho fare at Tottenham? Well the omens look good and bad. Firstly Mourinho has proven time and again that he is a serial winner. Everywhere he goes his clubs win trophies. Though Manchester United became the first club where he was unable to bring a league title and that seems very unlikely that he will do that at Tottenham. Liverpool and Manchester City simply seem to strong and Mourinho doesn’t stay at clubs too long. The contract that he has signed at Tottenham is to 2023.

But progress in the league and beating the big teams together with cup runs and wins is going to be the long term objective. At the end of the day for all the good football that came out of Pochettino’s side he won nothing with the club, the hope will be that Mourinho will bring countless trophies with him.

For now Daniel Levy is more than happy to have Mourinho as manager and likewise. They can be both ruthless, but at the same time when we look at the history of Mourinho’s spending and that Tottenham under Levy haven’t always spent the tens of millions that Mourinho will require there could well be friction between the two men.

For football fans though Mourinho joining Tottenham is massive news and fascinating at the same time, roll on Saturday afternoon when he will manage his first game away to West Ham who have their own problems.

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Mauricio Pochettino is sacked as Tottenham manager- is it the right decision?

Tottenham have sacked Mauricio Pochettino after a nightmare start to the season has seen the club down in 14th place.

Fans have been left gutted by the decision even though it was clear that frustrations were growing with the Argentine coach. But this is still the same man that changed the clubs fortunes around where they finally stood out of rivals Arsenal shadow and became a proper top 4 side. It was a time where the club found consistency and had found a natural flow to their game. Finally they were not doing things in a ‘spursy’ way but in a way which frightened their opponents and it was clear that the club were playing their best football in a generation.

This all came to ahead when Tottenham made the Champions League final and for many fans they couldn’t have imagined this would happen in their wildest dreams and there was dreamlike Roy of the Rovers style matches to get them to the final. Who can forget the epic 2nd leg matches against Manchester City and Ajax were Spurs looked dead and buried but somehow came back?

The utter joy and glory of seeing Pochettino on the pitch in Amsterdam with club owner Daniel Levy will remain in the memory as Tottenham confirmed their participation in the final. At that point it was about reaching their own personal Everest. The problem was that there were many problems behind the scenes.

It is clear that Levy and Pochettino did not get along and other stories are bound to come out in the next few weeks and months, it’s quite possible that Pochettino had also fallen out with some players by this point. He also had the body language over the last few weeks that suggested his future lay elsewhere.

It didn’t help when on the eve of the Champions League final Pochettino spoke about leaving the club if they were to win the trophy. In truth this would have made Levy livid given that who leaves a club on £8.5m a year? And in sacking Pochettino with 3 years left on his contract Levy will be paying him out just over £25m.

Ex-Tottenham players such as Gary Lineker have spoken out about the decision and condemned it saying that the club will not find anyone better- and he could be right. Though at the end of the day for all of their good wins and wonderful football Spurs did not win a trophy and surely at the end of the day for progression you need a trophy.

Trophies is the reason that Jose Mourinho has been installed as the favourite to take over the club. Mourinho always brings silverware but as we’ve seen in the past few years he can also bring a very negative effect to players and coaching staff. His burn outs at both Chelsea and Manchester United have sadly become the stuff of legend. One can already see a relationship of friction between Mourinho the chequebook and Levy. Still before it went wrong for Mourinho at those clubs he had won the league for Chelsea and the Europa League for United- he has a winning mentality and maybe that is what Tottenham need in this moment.

As for Pochettino in all honesty he needs some time away from the game to readjust and get his hunger back.He is a good manager but seemed a little burnt out and maybe this decision will make sense in the long term. In solely footballing terms Pochettino seems to have done very little wrong and the decision to sack him in that case is bizarre if we look at his whole record for the club. But apart from the amazing run in the Champions League Tottenham have not had a good 2019, indeed they have not won away from home since January- a top 4 side cannot have such a record.

The next few weeks will be fascinating to see how it turns out for the club and the world will be watching.

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Were Bayern Munich justified in sacking Kovac?

With the dust settling and the anger and frustrations dissipated somewhat the question remains were Bayern Munich justified in sacking Niko Kovac?

Kovac was sacked at the beginning of the month after Bayern lost 5-1 at Eintract Frankfurt. This is a result that Bayern were simply not used too and it was a terrible one, but was there too much knee jerk reaction to it? After all even in defeat Bayern were just 4 points from the top of the league.

Partly the problem seems to have been the clubs position at the time which took them down to 4th. Fourth place and Bayern have a bad relationship the two simply do not go hand in hand. Let’s face it Bayern have not really trusted Kovac either. Had an experienced coach been in charge of the club that position would have been looked on back and forth to the manager, Bayern would have swallowed some pride and got on with it. In sacking Kovac who has little experience the decision would have been a much easier one.

When Kovac was sacked Bayern had won 50% of their games and lost 2 matches. The damning fact for the club was that they had won 18 points from a possible 30, continue that trend and the club would be lucky to qualify for the Champions League.

Since Kovac was sacked Bayern have won 2 games in the Champions League and Bundesliga under Hans-Dieter Flick. The most impressive was beating rivals Borussia Dortmund 4-0. That could well tell us that Kovac had lost the dressing room, if so then Bayern had little choice but to sack him.

The problem though is what were Bayern expecting when they recruited him? And it seemed from the beginning that the moment Kovac had put pen to paper and signed his contract it was the moment that Bayern woke up and thought what have we done?

Kovac’s first season did look like it would turn into a nightmare but he got fully into his job and turned it around and Bayern won the league and the cup double and he became the first person in Germany to win the double as a player and then as a coach. His win rate of 69% was also excellent.

And yet here we are and Kovac is out at Bayern after such a glorious time. All in all Kovac’s sacking seems like a very harsh decision, but at the very top of the game that is how it is now. His full time replacement may not even be needed until next summer as Flick is doing such a fine job. As for Kovac he needs to chin up because he has a bright future ahead of him.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic being linked to Liverpool tells you how great a player he is

At 38 Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be looking back at his career and hanging his boots up. He has had a fantastic time in  football won multiple trophies and scored tons of great goals. He is Sweden’s best ever player and has earned a fortune in the game, and yet he wants another challenge.

Zlatan as he is commonly known by has left LA Galaxy after 2 seasons where he didn’t win a trophy but was involved in some memorable games, so good that LA fans took him to their hearts. He also scored plenty of goals, 53 in all competitions for the Galaxy in just 58 games, and he ended his time this season with 30 goals from 29 games. Now whilst might say that the MLS is not a top league, to do what he is doing at 38 is still quite remarkable and one is reminded of another great sport athlete in Roger Federer whose body refuses to give up.

Even at this age when Ibrahimovic  announced he was leaving the Galaxy a whole host of elite teams from Europe threw their name in the hat. He has been linked with a return back to PSG and AC Milan. In the Premier League his former club Manchester United have shown some interest and then there is Liverpool in first place and looking for their first title since 1990. Ibrahimovic has an incredible record of going to different clubs and winning league titles and for that Liverpool could suit him.

Possibly though the front runners are AC Milan. Ibrahimovic has a special relationship not just with the club but also in Italy where he has also played for Juventus and Inter Milan. The truth is at Milan Ibrahimovic would get more game time and could well be drafted into the first team. One would feel that at a club like Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp isn’t going to upset the apple cart and chop and change his forward line to accommodate the Swedish star. Instead Zlatan would be used as a super sub and in cup games, is that what he would want? Again his qualities on the pitch over the years have earned him that choice.

What will be fascinating as Ibrahimovic returns to Europe is can he still get goals at a higher level? He has scored 30 in his final season in the MLS and it would be interesting to see if he can keep some sort of consistency. The biggest factor being is that his professionalism and attitude is paving the way for strikers to continue on to their very late 30′s and maybe even 40′s. Now that is football evolution.

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After Tottenham’s nightmare start to the Premier League season what do they need to do to get better?

In May Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was being hailed as a genius, by October his own fans wanted him out. What has gone wrong and how does Pochettino fix it?

Some will blame club owner Daniel Levy, after all he has been tight with his money in the past 18 months. Yes Tanguy Ndombele came for around £60m, and that was a big spend but Tottenham spent just over £70m net this summer. That sum just isn’t going to cut it when you have reached another level that Tottenham have excelled to. Champions League finalists last season and at the beginning of this one the club could be regarded as one of the favourites to win the league and yet they are languishing in the bottom half of the table. The least you expected of the club coming into November was to be 4th.

After a nightmare start where we have only witnessed very small examples of what made Tottenham such a force last season the temptation would be to sack Pochettino, but is this the right move? It would only be if he had lost the dressing room or simply lost the passion and desire with the club. He has in the past hinted to Levy to open up more funds, and it is unclear just how bad the friction is between them. But perhaps this could just be seen as a bad moment for the club, why should for example a manager be sacked for three bad months?

Tottenham already have enough quality to be a top 4 team but they may have to settle for less this season. The truth is that some players like Dele Alli might have to move on, he clearly needs a new challenge. Then there is Christian Eriksen who thought a big deal would come through but it never did- is his head with the club? It seems unlikely it is.

The club clearly need to spend and that means over £100m and it has to be wisely, that’s why Pochettino should stay. He knows the club inside out and just needs some more encouragement to go forward. No matter who the club bring in next it will be starting from the beginning again. The problem of course is that modern football doesn’t work like that, if you don’t win, you’re out. Only a handful of exceptions exist. Arsene Wenger before at Arsenal and Diego Simeone currently at Atletico Madrid.

Pochettino in the current football climate looks like he is on borrowed time, but Levy and co would do well to ride this stormy wave and come out the other end, time will tell.

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