Next month is huge for Everton and Marco Silva in the Premier League

Everton claimed their first victory in five matches at the weekend as they beat West Ham 2-0 at home in a match which has effectively saved manager Marco Silva’s job. The win also took the Toffeemen out of the relegation zone but the club are far from out of the woods.

It has been a difficult period for Silva as Everton manager, and one could say that the Portuguese has had 3 good months with the club from the last 12- that hasn’t been good enough and under Silva so far Everton have not taken strides forward. The hope for the club after victory at the weekend is that they can build on this and move further up the table and perhaps challenge for a European spot. Will that be possible, or are Everton still in free fall?

Everton’s next game is against Brighton next weekend and on paper that looks like 3 points for the club, but it is away from home where Everton have really struggled.

Win, lose or draw that match will not affect Silva’s future with the club, instead attentions will turn to November, in what could be a massive turning point for the club. Let’s look at the fixtures in detail:

v Tottenham (Home)- How Everton would love to play Tottenham right now! The London club are in free fall and experiencing a crisis, with Everton at home and controlling the pace of the game like they did against West Ham, there would be every hope of 3 points against a side who on paper are superior to Everton. This game though doesn’t take place for another 2 weeks, that’s a long time in football and by then Tottenham could be back on track, and this game could be much harder to get points from.

v Southampton (Away) The Saints have really struggled this season and are in 17th place with no wins in their last 4 games. The club have the worst home record in the league and whilst their games have been close, Everton could fancy their chances in this one.

v Norwich (Home) Everton have won 3 games at home from 5 and one would expect a victory here. The problem is that they have already lost at home to a promoted side in Sheffield United. Norwich are looking poor though and one would expect Everton to get a win here.

With some Carabao Cup matches in between if Everton can go far in that, they could also get at least 7 points from the 9 available in November, Silva should be looking at his job being secure at least for now. It is a huge month for Everton because in December they have an incredibly tough fixture list where they don’t look like getting many points from, those matches include Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester, that is why the club need to pick up points in November. Watch this space.

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UEFA need to show zero tolerance to racism after Bulgaria-England game

It was suspected that it would happen before the game and then it did. England played Bulgaria away from home and the nations black players had been warned that racist chanting could happen during the game. But this time there was a plan of action at hand.

Sure enough the racist chants bellowed out throughout the stadium in under 30 minutes and it was heartening to see something different happen- the game stopped, the referee abide, talked to England manager Gareth Southgate and also a group of racist fans were led out of the stadium. Finally some action whilst the game was going on had occurred. Black players who have had to endure vile chants usually monkey gestures were taking that fight back.

One had to feel sorry for Tyrone Mings, who had earned his place finally in the England team. This was his debut for the national side and it should have been a memorable and proud one. Sure England won 6-0 and Mings played his part but it all got overshadowed by the racists.

After the game UEFA charged both sets of fans- England for chanting during the Bulgarian national anthem and Bulgarian fans even if in the minority and their racist and also Nazi salutes. But what will be the outcome?

Simply put UEFA have been pretty useless at dealing with racism. Getting the worlds best players to partake in anti racist messages does not work, banners do not work, adverts do not work, fines do not work, banning certain fans does not work. having sections of the ground closed off does not work and even playing behind closed doors does not work. So what is the solution.

Maybe simply there is none. Racism has been with us for centuries why would it go away in 2019? It won’t and to think it will is living in dreamland. But Bulgaria need to be punished as does any other nation and football club by that matter. The punishment needs to be to stop that supply- that means to actually stop the football club or nation operating. In effect suspending a business.

Bulgaria should be thrown out of the Euro 2020 qualifying and then banned from partaking in the qualifiers for the next World Cup. With every other friendly game played outside the country. It might seem harsh but a message needs to be sent.

As for clubs, stop the fines and start docking points. As much as 10 points, punish those clubs if they are on the verge of European football and those 10 points drop them out of contention or could be the difference between being relegated or not.

No matter what colour you are or religion, you have the right not to be harassed on a football field and in the wider spectrum society. We will never get rid of racism, but we need to reduce it, and the only way of doing that is by having a zero tolerance attitude.

Lyon appoint Rudi Garcia after nightmare start to the Ligue 1 season

Lyon have had their worst start to a Ligue 1 campaign in an era and they have been swift to act. Before week 10 coach Sylvinho was dismissed and he has been replaced by Rudi Garcia but can Garcia improve the team and is he the right man?

That answer looks to be a yes and a yes. Appointing Garcia is the flipside of appointing Sylvinho, the ex-Arsenal man like for example Thierry Henry at Monaco had no top tier level experience and surely bringing him in to a club like Lyon at this early stage of his managerial career was as they say in French a faux pas.

Garcia though is a different cattle of fish and here we have a coach who has spent over 15 seasons managing teams in Ligue 1. His most recent job was with Marseille where the 55 year old spent 3 seasons and had his fair share of ups and downs but one must remember that the team stayed a consistent top 5 side.

His average career win rate is 47% which in managerial terms isn’t as bad as it looks and with Lille he hit 50%, he also hit 51% at his time with Roma. He has won 2 trophies, the Ligue 1 title and a cup both with Lille in 2011. So even though it has been some time he does have some trophies under his belt.

Make no mistake though with the start that Lyon have had where they are in the bottom half of the league with 9 points and a massive 12 points behind leaders PSG the objective for Lyon isn’t trophies but recovery. True a deep run in a cup competition will be welcomed, and the knockout stages of the Champions League too, but this season Lyon’s owners wanted to challenge PSG and give them a run for their money, and that will be the clear objective. If they can’t win the league, then come 2nd and get the club back on the map.

Lyon will host Dijon who are in 19th place and this seems to be the perfect opportunity for the club to bounce back even if Dijon have shown promise lately by winning two games in a row. Garcia has proven that he has what it takes, but it will be fascinating to see how he does it and how he deploys a team who have lost quality players including Nabil Fekir this season.

Don’t write off Lyon just yet will be the message from the south east of France, a sleeping giant may just have awoken.

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Lyon in crisis as they sack Sylvinho after just 141 days in charge

Lyon have sacked coach Sylvinho after just 141 days in charge as the club have made their worst start to a Ligue 1 season in 23 years.

The news of Sylvinho’s sacking was a shock given that he had just taken the job in the summer but Lyon have been very poor by their standards in the league. The problem for the ex-Arsenal player was that he did not have a resume to back up that everything will work out well, this was his first proper managerial job- and to be fair it showed.

Tactics went out of the window and chaos ensued as he directed the defenders not to cross the halfway line and then wouldn’t let star players such as Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele play together.

Pre-season results were also poor barring an away win against Arsenal. Although Lyon looked to be PSG’s strongest challengers at the beginning of the season as they opened up the campaign with 2 wins, scoring 9 goals and conceding none, that has dramatically changed since then.

Lyon have won just 2 games all season and at the time of Sylvinho’s sacking the club are in 14th place with 9 points a huge 12 points behind PSG. But has the club jumped the gun and not thought through this properly?

In truth given time Sylvinho may well have found the right system and there has been encouraging moments but keeping him would mean giving up European football for next season and seeing the club possibly finish out of the top 10, that would be too much for a proud team like Lyon. It does seem early to pull the trigger but a wider thought would have been taken on, and this could be the right decision. For Sylvinho this will come as a big blow, but at the end of the day Lyon could well be to blame. Is it correct to appoint a manager with no first tier experience in the game? That is why sporting director Juninho could be next to go.

The next question turns to who will replace Sylvinho? Laurent Blanc has been made the favourite and that could be a good solid choice. Arsene Wenger’s name has appeared once again, but the former Arsenal great looks unlikely to coach again, although he has admitted that he misses the game. Another name being linked is Jose Mourinho, with the money the club have maybe he would be tempted, but in the past he has dismissed coaching in Ligue 1.

We should know the outcome in the next 10 days or so as Lyon try and save their season.

 

 

Manchester United’s fall from grace will be underlined by a lack of quality strikers

When Manchester United lost to West Ham, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about his lack of strikers, especially if one of them gets injured like in the case of Anthony Martial. He responded diplomatically by suggesting that on the strikers department there isn’t a problem and seemed happy with that statement. His eyes seemed to say something else though and a few days later in his own press conference he mentioned that the club will be looking for a striker to come in for January.

It is hard to think of a United side who have looked so average up front. At the end of the day Anthony Martial who came from Monaco ended up being the striker that could have been and the one that got away from United was actually the other youngster coming up the ranks in Kylian Mbappe who now plays for PSG.

Marcus Rashford is a quality striker when on form and has got some important goals for the club. However he is 22 and maybe more would have been expected of him given that he has never scored more than 10 league goals in his career, and he has spent 5 seasons with the club. This isn’t to say that Rashford doesn’t deserve his place because he does and plays off well in the team.

Daniel James can attack too and he looks one for the future, and the three attackers have scored 8 of United’s goals from 9 this season. But at the same time United not only have young strikers and no stardust if you like, but also players that can perform on their day but simply aren’t consistent enough, and that will be key in thinking United may not even finish in the top six this season. At this rate top 4 looks very distant too.

It’s hard to think that this situation would have been allowed under Sir Alex Ferguson and that was to sell Romelu Lukaku for over £70m but not replace him, that seemed like an odd choice. Instead United went for defence and brought in Harry Maguire for £80m, but the club need to be in a situation where they could have afforded both targets. If one looks at Mauro Icardi for example, a goalscorer that was bought by PSG as they believed Neymar would be sold and they had injuries up front, instead of resting on their laurels the club knew they had to bring in quality, and they did.

United seemed to have taken their eye off the ball and even if they can navigate themselves until January, that is a month where traditionally the best players are not available. A penny for your thoughts, Ole?

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Is Steve Bruce the next manager to be sacked after terrible start with Newcastle?

It’s been an awful start to the Premier League campaign for Newcastle United and surely manager Steve Bruce’s job is now on the line, after losing 5-0 to Leicester he is the 2nd favourite manager to be sacked in the Premier League.

With respect it was a real surprise, at least from the outside, that Bruce got the Newcastle job in the first place, he had failed at so many other clubs with poor win rates. It didn’t make sense to get him. But then again club owner Mike Ashley had other ideas. His former coach Rafa Benitez had given Ashley such a hard time, demanding players and more money be spent it did feel as if Ashley just wanted to get rid of him and bring in someone that would understand his philosophy better- enter Bruce.

Of course on the face of it Bruce’s appointment made some sense. Here was a man almost reaching his 60s who had plenty of experience as a Premier League manager and on top of that Newcastle is his club that he has supported since being a small kid when he used to sneak into games for free. In that Bruce has reached his pinnacle job and come full circle in his career, Ashley gave him that opportunity. Nostalgia aside though and Bruce seems like he is the wrong man to take the Magpies forward.

Bruce has won just 1 game all season as manager and even that came as a major shock as it was away to Tottenham in a match that ended 1-0 but showed that Newcastle under Bruce may at least have a good defensive set up for the future. Also it was a game where Joelinton scored in, the £40m Brazilian that most seem to agree was over valued. If Joelinton could score more goals and make more of an impact it would lessen the pressure on Bruce.

As it stands Newcastle are not bottom of the league but they are going that way and in the midst of it all the bookmakers who are hardly any mugs have made the Magpies massive odds on favourites to be relegated.

Newcastle’s fixture list hardly gets any easier for them too as in October alone they will have to face the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, Wolves are also on the schedule and it is realistic to think that the club could up getting no points from those games.

At the same time Ashley has big  decisions to make as it is obvious that he gets along with Bruce and just wants a manager who will not disturb him and get on with the job. However Ashley’s hands may be tied, and Bruce’s days could be up in a few weeks if he isn’t able to change the current situation around.

The body language of his players say it all and Bruce has a major uphill struggle on his hands not be sacked from his beloved club.

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Why Real Madrid are getting better every week under Zinedine Zidane

For Real Madrid there will be enquiries into why their Champions League campaign has not started off on the front foot, but in the league everything seems to be taking shape, with coach Zinedine Zidane perhaps in the midst of his most difficult and testing season.

Last night Real could only draw with Belgian side Club Brugges at the Santiago Bernabeu which led to the inevitable boos, though in truth the match, which finished 2-2, would have felt like a small victory after the home side found themselves 2-0 down.

That match followed their first game in the group stages where they were easily beaten by PSG in Paris by 3-0. The defeat in Paris was probably overblown- a lot of very good teams are going to lose their this season, true the result wasn’t good but it wasn’t catastrophic either. What followed felt much more important.

So it was back to La Liga where Madrid had been making heavy weather of their results, to be fair eternal rivals Barcelona were too. But the fixture list did not look good for Zidane’s men. Following the PSG defeat they would have to play early front runners Sevilla away from home and also stay on the road to play the derby against Atletico Madrid, a side genuinely after the La Liga title this season.

Many thought that down south in Spain, Madrid would falter and yet they didn’t-they won and kept a clean sheet to boot. The final score reflected the closeness of the game with a 1-0 result, but that was still 3 massive points for Los Blancos.

The next match was set up as two genuine rivals for the league went head to head in Madrid, and that match ended 0-0 with the majority of the game being a midfield battle which became quite fascinating to watch. Eden Hazard in particular was given praise for getting physically stuck into the match. Hazard has arguably struggled this season for the club despite coming back from injury, but he should improve over time.

The draw at Atletico has suddenly put Madrid on top of the standings, albeit on goal difference and a top squeeze down to 5th place but still amongst all the criticism’s and the bla bla bla, Madrid under Zidane are top of the league and that is all that matters.

There will, of course, be more twists and turns and Madrid do not look like the polished finished article just yet. But with Gareth Bale to come back from injury and some emerging talent in the form of Rodrygo et all there is a lot of hope for Madrid. They need to steady that Champions League ship though.

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West Ham- the surprise team of the Premier League so far

Not many pundits or fans would have predicted that West Ham would be in 4th position in the Premier League after 7 games but that is exactly where they are, and they still have room for improvement.

It started off so badly in the league for the Hammers, who were literally hammered at home by champions Manchester City 5-0. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up against the champions and a loss is a loss. But it was the manner in which West Ham gave up and complete with a toothless performance which led many to think that Manuel Pellegrini’s team could struggle this season, not so.

That loss has been the only one so far for the Irons who have gone on to win 3 and draw 3. They have now gone 6 games unbeaten, with the best of the bunch result arguably being against Manchester United where the club won 2-0.

The winning feels great but any fan will tell you they have seen much better, even in recent seasons and there is a sense that the Hammers aren’t playing great football, but are getting the positive results.

This is all fantastic news for a club that usually have to step back into the shadows when it comes to the big London teams of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham. But as it stands West Ham are proving their worth.

A lot of credit needs to go down to manager Manuel Pellegrini, who has taken his time with a squad that have faced many long term injuries last season. One such player was Andriy Yarmolenko who missed almost the entire season. Well he has already bagged a few goals this term and is turning into somewhat of a cult hero. Good times are here at West Ham, and perhaps they deserve it after all of the problems they have been through.

The club play Crystal Palace at home next weekend and then Everton away followed by Sheffield United at home. One could expect at least 6 points from those games.

There are still the question marks, like for example how can a team who dream of finishing high up and then to play in Europe justify losing to Oxford United 4-0 and get knocked out of the Carabao Cup. True Pellegrini did make 9 changes but even so, there was plenty of quality on the field.

It was a huge loss, and maybe the only way to chase those demons is to watch again in a few years. Finally Pellegrini seems to have the team he wants and he is implementing perfectly. The game should be a classic.

 

 

Lionel Messi’s injuries are hampering season for him and Barcelona already

It’s normally the case that by the end of September Lionel Messi has yet to score a goal this season but the 2019/20 season has started out in a frustrating manner for the Barcelona legend.

Messi has been injured for the majority of Barcelona’s games and has only played twice in the league and once in the Champions League when Barcelona drew 0-0 away to Borussia Dortmund. So 3 games in and no goals and niggling injuries has certainly hampered Messi’s start and of course his team have suffered too.

Barca are in 4th place after seven games and have already lost two games, the good news perhaps is that despite a stop/start beginning to their season and the fact that their away form has been questionable they are only 2 points behind league leaders and eternal nemesis Real Madrid.

It just shows to go how important a player like Messi is, as Barcelona have simply not been the same without him. True at times Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez have taken games by the scruff of their neck but in general not even these two great players can add the missing touch to a team who are so dependent on the Argentine play maker.

Messi now has another injury after coming back from one and coach Ernesto Valverde who first thought it would be nothing serious is sweating over Messi’s fitness. Alas whilst Messi will miss the next league game and Champions League one, the blessing in disguise for the club is that Messi most probably will not be available during the international break for Argentina. Keeping him fresh for a possible return before the end of October. Well that is the plan anyway.

Valverde himself is under his own pressure and was lucky to keep his job last season after the team failed so miserably against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final. But the board have stuck by him, after all he has won a few La Liga titles and done so in style.

Of course it has not all been bad for Messi who actually picked up the FIFA The Best award based on last season where yet again he scored over 50 goals on the way to helping Barca win the league title. A title this season would be even more remarkable given that Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid seem up for the challenge this season.

What is sure is that Barca need Messi back as soon as possible because if his injury problems continue it could well derail the club’s season and Messi could end up have quite a forgettable one.

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Pellegrini makes massive mistake as West Ham’s season is almost over

West Ham were shocked and gave a shocking performance in the Carabao Cup to lose 4-0 to League one side Oxford United in midweek, and one wonders how long this negative effect will last with the Londoners.

The cup competitions can often serve a surprise as the so called giant killing teams of the lower leagues play their best games and up their performance.. Losing to one of the lower league teams happens to most of the big clubs, particularly those who rest their star players.

However, it is the manner in which West Ham disintegrated which is of most concern. A 4-0 loss is more than poor and 3 of Oxford’s goals were scored in 29 minutes in the second half as the Hammers simply collapsed. For Fantasy Football managers, cup competition can be tricky. For those who look to place bets on cup competitions, you should look no further than https://www.amazing.bet/uk/ which allows you to take advantage of offers from bookmakers as well as guide you to better betting odds. https://www.amazing.bet/uk/ also provides you with information on where and how you can place Free Bets.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini did make changes to his side that beat Manchester United in the league just a few days before, 9 changes in all, but there was still plenty of quality on the field including new signing Pablo Fornals who has been very underwhelming since joining the club on a coat tail of hype from Villarreal.

Pellegrini was forced to bring on regulars early in the 2nd half such as Mark Noble and Sebastian Haller but the irony was that when more experience and quality came on the Hammers lost the plot and Oxford United actually improved.

It is bizarre to think that the Hammers have started the season well and just beat Manchester United but this cup defeat was a stark reminder that worse things could be round he corner for the club.

There has to be criticism pointed at Pellegrini though- for example why make so many changes? Yes games come thick and fast and he rightly pointed out that you need to utilise your squad. But what justification did he seek in making those changes? For example had this been a midweek Champions League game he wouldn’t have made the changes which leads us on to suggesting that Pellegrini in actual fact disrespected the competition and it has widely back fired onto him and the club.

The irony is West Ham are one of those well known clubs alongside Everton for example who have not won a major trophy for a long time. Next year will mark 25 years for Everton and 40 for West Ham. Again did Pellegrini rest players just so West Ham could finish in the top 10? What are their aspirations in a very difficult league? Shouldn’t the club really be chasing a cup and giving it a go?

With this cup gone, West Ham’s season already looks exposed. They aren’t ready for a top 4 place and don’t look up for a Europa League one either. That leaves the FA Cup then which doesn’t start for them until January.

The shock remains with Pellegrini, for such an experienced coach to get this so painfully wrong is mind boggling.