Jose Mourinho is right to quash talk of a league title as the media put needless pressure on Tottenham

Everyone’s at it, and it is something that the press dearly love- raising up a team, selling the fans the hype and then watching when it all goes wrong. Everton fans have already witnessed it this season. After winning their first 3 games of the season and then holding the champions Liverpool to a 2-2 draw, there was talk that Carlo Ancelotti was about to deliver Everton their first league title since 1987. After four games….

Aston Villa were next on the agenda because, at one point, a team that escaped the clutches of relegation on the last weekend of the season were now the only side left in the Premier League with a 100% record. Because Everton and of course Liverpool were in the mix we were reminded that there was a 1980s vibe to the league campaign- that’s all very well but were the media jumping the gun? just a bit it seems.

Now attentions have turned to Tottenham, because even though the club have dropped a few points, they are starting to find the goals and form and have crept up to 2nd place, swishing past Liverpool who dropped 2 points with a draw at Manchester City this past weekend.

From their first 8 games Tottenham have won 5, drawn 2 and lost 1 and that defeat came in the opening weekend of the season against Everton, so they haven’t tasted defeat in the league for 2 months. That is impressive, the club have scored 19 goals and only Chelsea with 20 have more. Spurs also have the joint best defensive record in the league conceding 9 so far.

The talk is beginning that the club could be title challengers and for a brief moment the club did go top of the table after their 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at the weekend. That victory came courtesy of a Harry Kane goal- his 150th league goal for the club.

Jose Mourinho has been asked the inevitable question that Tottenham are league contenders and quite rightly he has had to bat the question away. Even if in his mind this is how he feels, he will know so well how quickly football changes, that one week you can be 2nd and just a point behind the leaders and within two be down to fifth place and looking over your shoulder at who is sixth and seventh.

Also talking of the title is no good for the players- forget about Liverpool having to wait 30 years, for Tottenham this season it will be 60. That is an incredible weight to carry and it is something that Mourinho will be all too aware about. However even if Tottenham had won league titles in the past decade and had enjoyed much trophy success there has to be some perspective, only 8 games have been played and the gap from 2nd where they currently reside to 6th is just 2 points. There are no big gaps and nothing to suggest that this league title can be wrapped up by any one team.

Let’s look at last season it was Jose Mourinho who was then out of a job who called Liverpool to win the league title and it was November, just like now. Of course the biggest difference was that Liverpool had pulled out an 11 point gap, challengers Manchester City were looking fatigued, and they were the only challengers that season and the campaign of course had started in August and was 3 months old.

Of course there have been moments that have made anyone who loves football sit up and take notice. The first quarter of an hour against West Ham was an exercise in supreme attacking which saw Tottenham score 3 goals. And no one will forget the 6-1 mauling they have Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Tottenham also have the deadliest strike partnership in the league in Harry Kane and Heung- Min Son who have scored between them 15 goals of the 19 the club have netted so far. And Kane has been involved either scoring or assisting in 15 of the 19 goals.

Matt Doherty in defence is current ranked as the clubs best defender with 10 points and he has shown over the past weeks of being a brilliant buy in the summer, it’s as if he has been with the club for a few seasons. Special mention should also go to another defender in Sergio Reguilon who has assisted in 2 goals this season. And of course the return of Gareth Bale with his experience will be very welcomed. The Welshman has already secured 3 points for the club with his winning goal against Brighton earlier this month.

But talk of the title does seem very premature, the club are in the mix but then again so is Leicester and Southampton and the Foxes have actually won the league in 2016 and yet no one is quite talking them up just yet. The ever looming threat of Liverpool remains and the champions are in 3rd place only denied taking over Tottenham by goal difference. And everyone expects that Manchester City will recover to go on a run and we haven’t even mentioned Chelsea who are in 5th and undefeated in 9 games in all competitions.

Perhaps we will have a clearer picture in the next month when Tottenham will have what looks like a nightmare fixture list- Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Leicester. Get through those mostly unhampered and there could be cause to start talking of league run ins. But as anyone who has followed football for years will tell you, in most seasons title talk should be reserved until just after the Christmas period, that is the vantage point where we can see which teams have it and which teams look likely to fall off.

Admittingly Tottenham are heading in the right direction, this is something that Mourinho is fully aware of, he just doesn’t at this point of the season need reminding from the media. He needs himself to remain grounded as do his players as the games are going to come thick and fast, as they say it is one game at a time.

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5 of the best Premier League transfers during the window

The summer transfer window is now closed and Premier League clubs have made a lot of business during the opening couple of weeks of action.

New arrivals were landed as late as deadline day on Monday and managers have a difficult job to integrate their new players into the team ready for next weekend’s action as many squad members are currently jetting off all over the world for international duty.

Here’s a look back over the transfer window to five players we believe could have the biggest impact on your fantasy team this season:

1. James Rodriguez (Everton)
The Colombian star has taken the Premier League like a duck to water with four goals and an assist in his first four starts for Everton. As a result, the Toffees headed into the break as the only team with 12 points.

James Rodriguez has been outstanding as the number 10 in Carlo Ancelotti’s attacking side that have scored a league high 12 goals through four rounds of action. Although he’ll set your fantasy team back £9.50m he has so far been worth every penny.

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Real Madrid set to reduce wage bill further

Zinedine Zidane looks set to clear some more dead wood from his Real Madrid squad this summer with reports suggest James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale are on their way out of the club.

Bale has been out-of-favour under Zidane but still has two years left on his deal at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, worth a staggering £30 million a season. The Wales international is believed to want to see out his contract in the Spanish capital, is already 31 years old and has a long history of injuries, making it difficult for the club to sell.

However, the winger has come out today and said he is open to a return to the Premier League, even claiming that Real Madrid blocked a move last year. If the club can get him off their wage bill it would be huge for the future.

Likewise, James Rodriguez is another big earner who is not in favour with the current head coach. But the Colombian is believed to be headed to Everton in a £20 million deal.

Money for the attacking midfielder and getting him off their wage bill would be a huge bonus for Real Madrid moving forward.

The world footballing giants have already moved Achraf Hakimi on to Internationale in a €40 million move this summer, with Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola as the options at right-back.

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Could latest Gareth Bale episode finally force his exit from Real Madrid?

It was hardly a surprise when Gareth Bale was left out of Real Madrid’s matchday squad to face Manchester City in this week’s Champions League last 16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium. After all, the Welsh winger has been something of a peripheral figure for the Spanish side this season, only making a handful of starts over the 2019/20 campaign.

What was surprising, though, was the reason Zinedine Zidane gave for Bale’s absence in Manchester. “It was a personal conversation I had with him. He preferred not to play,” the Frenchman responded when asked why the 31-year-old hadn’t travelled with the rest of the squad for the crunch match. “The rest remains between me and him but he said he didn’t want to play.”

The true nature of the conversation between Bale and Zidane is not known, but it doesn’t reflect well on the former that he has decided against even travelling to one of his team’s most important games of the season so far. Bale has earned some sympathy of late for the situation he finds himself in in the Spanish capital, but this episode might see him lose some of his defenders.

Until now, the relationship between Bale and Real Madrid had cooled. While the two parties have been tethered together through inconvenience for years, there was an acceptance on both sides that nothing was about to change. The most recent noises out of the Bale camp are that he will see out the rest of his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu while Real Madrid have seemingly run out of ways to get the player out of the club.

The in-fighting had stopped, but this latest episode has the potential to stoke tensions once more. Last summer, Real Madrid came close to moving Bale on to the Chinese Super League only for them to demand a transfer fee at the last moment. It’s a stance they have kept ever since, but if they feel Bale is becoming a toxic influence, rather than just a passive one, in the dressing room it’s possible they could change that stance and forego any fee.

It’s a shame for all concerned that Bale and Real Madrid have ended up in this situation. Until this week, it appeared set to continue until the summer of 2022, when Bale’s contract in the Spanish capital will expire. But what has now happened has the potential to shift the landscape.

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5 more players Real Madrid could sell this summer

Zinedine Zidane guided Real Madrid to the 2019-20 La Liga title earlier this month in his first full season back at the Spanish giants.

The French manager had an aging squad to play with but managed to blood a number of younger players, including Federico Valverde, Vinicius, Rodrygo, Eder Militao and Luka Jovic.

Next season could see further youngsters given a chance in the first team, with Martin Odegaard and Takefusa Kubo returning from loan spells in La Liga this past season.

So far the club have yet to announce any new signings but somewhat surprisingly sold Achraf Hakimi in a €40 million deal for Internazionale. The 21-year-old had looked very impressive in his two-year loan at Borussia Dortmund.

Zidane may simply be happy with Dani Carvajal and the returning Alvaro Odriozola as his options at right-back next season.

Five other players in the first team squad that I wouldn’t be surprised to see leave the Bernabeu this summer are:

James Rodríguez

Following a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich that saw the German champions pass on the opportunity to make the deal permanent, James Rodriguez returned to Real Madrid at the start of this past season.

The Colombian made just eight La Liga appearances (5 starts) with only one of those coming after the restart. He was originally sent on loan to the Bavarians during Zidane’s first spell in charge of the club, so don’t be surprised to see him leave Madrid this summer.

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What does the future hold for Gareth Bale as a Real Madrid player?

As Real Madrid have sprinted towards the Spanish title, Gareth Bale’s antics as a substitute in the stands have become something of a sideshow. During the win over Alaves, the Welsh winger was pictured pretending to sleep with his legs up on the feet in front of him and his face mask over his eyes. The hijinks didn’t stop there, with Bale fashioning a paper cup into a pair of binoculars as his teammates claimed a 2-1 win over Granada on Monday.

Of course, this certainly isn’t the first time the 30-year-old has played the clown whilst at Real Madrid. In fact, it’s a role Bale has taken to over the last year or so. Take the infamous ‘Wales, golf, Madrid’ flag and the countless pictures of him practising his golf swing or putting during training. Bale relishes a spot of trolling, that much has been proven

But what does the future hold for the Welshman in the Spanish capital? Of course, Bale came desperately close to leaving Real Madrid for the Chinese Super League last year only for the plug to be pulled on the deal at the very last moment. Now, he has been ostracised from the first team at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the relationship between Bale and Zinedine Zidane seemingly beyond saving.

Zidane has never been a big fan of Bale’s. The story goes that the Frenchman wanted him out of the club at the end of the 2017/18 season, with Real Madrid’s failure to comply with that wish one of the reasons Zidane felt it necessary to resign as head coach. When Zidane was lured back to the club less than a year later, he was promised that he would have the freedom to shape his team as he saw fit. There is no place for Bale in that team then and there still isn’t now.

Bale, however, has a contract that runs until the summer of 2022 and it appears he has every intention of earning every penny he is owed from it. The Welshman feels mistreated by Real Madrid and sees this as his way of taking revenge. It will, however, see Bale waste his peak years as a professional. By 2022, he will be 32 and into the twilight of his career. Is that a price worth paying for revenge?

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Real Madrid: Total Overhaul?

Few football clubs have enjoyed prolonged glory like Spain’s Real Madrid. In fact, Real is considered one of the most prestigious clubs in the football world, and across all sports fields for that matter. Real achieved this acclaim in a different way than most other clubs, utilizing socios, or club members, who own and operate all facets of the franchise.

Founded in 1902, Real Madrid was estimated in 2019 to be worth 3.8 billion Euros as the second highest-earning football club in the world. For any football pundit, this information isn’t surprising. After all, in their 118 years of existence, Real Madrid lifted 33 domestic league titles, 19 Copa del Rey trophies, a remarkable 13 Champions League trophies, and 4 FIFA Club World Cup titles. Some of these wins stretch back over a century ago, like the club’s first Copa del Rey triumph in 1905.

Real has entertained the fans with some of the greatest athletes of all time, as well. Top goal scorers and creative stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul, Alfredo di Stefano, and Karim Benzema called Madrid home for years. And players like Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos have appeared in upwards of 500 football matches wearing the Real Madrid jersey.

Others, like Ronaldo- the Brazilian or original one as some call him, Luka Modríc, and Cristiano Ronaldo received their prestigious Ballon D’Or awards while on the team. In fact, to this day, Real Madrid’s head coach, Zinedine Zidane, is one of his generation’s greatest players, and won the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award in 2002 while playing for the club he now leads.

 Future Plans

Most recently, Real Madrid have been associated with the superstar power of Cristiano Ronaldo. A dynamic and powerful goal scorer with an unstoppable drive, Ronaldo led a highly talented cast for nine years at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. The team flew high and attracted record number of fans to the stadium, remote viewership of games, and title wins, leading many to consider this era as Ronaldo’s.

However, in 2018 Ronaldo moved to Juventus to play in Italy’s Serie A. Despite this move, Real Madrid have not crumbled, though president Florentino Pérez seems likely to address the club at its foundational roots in an attempt to revitalize the team following their leader’s departure.

Meanwhile, in the US, NBA franchise the Golden State Warriors have also recently overhauled their mediocre team, drawing in star players as well as solid, vetted athletes. In fact, the Golden State Warriors have a near monopoly on NBA basketball odds in the US since winning the NBA Championship in 2015, 2016, and again in 2018. It seems Real Madrid is looking to rebuild its squad in a similar manner, though this change isn’t motivated by disappointing play. It’s preventative, if anything.

 Stadium & Roster

First, Pérez has shown interest in demolishing Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in order to begin construction on a ‘digital stadium of the future’. However, his comments have left some fans in mourning, and others confused. While many will mourn the loss of a stadium as well-loved as Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, most are waiting for the club to roll out its plans to understand what exactly a ‘digital stadium’ entails.

The stadium is set to have a capacity of 90,000. Other plans for the updated stadium include a wrap-around facade onto which images can be projected, retractable roofs that will cover all seating, and additional leisure and entertainment activities within, like shopping and a museum.

However, Perez also seems hellbent on revamping Real Madrid’s once-motley crew. While some franchises, like the Golden State Warriors, have to start from scratch to build a strong team, Madrid won’t face such challenges. While rebuilding a team is often undertaken for many top clubs that lose a star player, Real Madrid is full of star power.

Still, some athletes may be moving on. Rumor has it that in order to welcome in shining young recruits, Zidane may be letting go of players like James Rodriquez, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vasquez, and Mariano Diaz. Even important figures such as Marcelo and Luka Modric also face uncertain future despite historic wins with the club.

The above moves could be made in order to welcome new talent like Eduardo Camavinga, a 17-year-old midfielder with great promise. This comes after attempts to land Paul Pogba from Manchester United have fluctuated between cold and hoot. There is also interest in Raul Jiménez, a forward who may be able to pick up some of the pieces in attack in case Benzema leaves.

What are Gareth Bale’s options this January?

It’s a relationship that has descended into something of a pantomime over the past few months. The breakdown in understanding between Gareth Bale and Real Madrid, including the club’s notoriously tough-to-please support, has been well-documented. Indeed, it’s difficult to envisage how the Welshman will remain in the Spanish capital for much longer.

But then this was viewed to be the case in the summer. By all accounts, Bale was within hours of securing a move to the Chinese Super League only for the plug to be pulled on the deal at the last moment. There were no other bidders for the Welshman and so he stayed at the Santiago Bernabeu for another season.

In terms of his performances on the pitch, Bale has been one of Real Madrid’s most consistent performers this season. He has come up with big moments in big games. Zinedine Zidane still seems to have some faith in the player, picking him ahead of Vinicius Junior for the Clasico away to Barcelona earlier in the month.

And yet it seems inevitable that Bale will be touted around Europe once again as soon as the January transfer window opens in a few days’ time. So what options will be open to the 30-year-old as he looks to revitalise a career that has stalled over the past two years or so?

A return to Tottenham has been mooted for quite some time and that possibility might be most feasible this January. With Mauricio Pochettino gone and Jose Mourinho now in charge Daniel Levy will have more freedom to bring in the marquee signings he always envisaged for the North London club. Bale would certainly fit the bill in that regard.

Bayern Munich has also been mentioned as a potential option for Bale, but it seems unlikely that the Bavarians will make a move while they are still without a permanent manager. Manchester United are long-term suitors of the Welshman, but their interest has waned in recent times as they head in a different direction.

Meanwhile, new regulations regarding international players means that a switch to China now looks to be off the cards. Bale’s best option, in the meantime, might well be to stay at Real Madrid where he will continue to be a useful player in a tight title race at the top of La Liga. But if he decides to finally leave, a return home might be the only option open to him at this time.

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Gareth Bale must recapture his Wales enthusiasm at club level again

It’s no secret that Gareth Bale has found the last year or so at Real Madrid tough going. The Welsh winger has been made a scapegoat by sections of the Spanish press, criticising him for everything from playing golf to leaving the Santiago Bernabeu too quickly after games. It’s remarkable that he has put up with it this long.

Indeed, Bale was on the brink of finally leaving Real Madrid during the summer with the 30-year-old expected to make the move to the Chinese Super League. However, the deal fell through at the last moment and the Welshman still finds himself in the Spanish capital. His future has never been so unclear.

Bale has actually played well at times for Real Madrid this season, but a recent interview given ahead of Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Hungary revealed the depth of his unhappiness at the club. “I definitely have more excitement playing for Wales,” Bale said.

“I’ve been with most of the older players since we were in the under-17s. It’s like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday. With Wales, I’m speaking my own language and feel more comfortable. But it doesn’t change what I do on the pitch. I always give 100% on the pitch wherever I am; that’s what I always strive to do.”

At 30 years old, Bale still has plenty more to offer. If he can stay injury-free, he might have another three to four years left at the top level. And yet Bale is wasting what remaining time he has as an elite player. He must seek to recapture the enthusiasm he has playing for Wales at club level.

That might involve finally leaving Real Madrid. The Spanish club have done all they can to push Bale out the door. So far, the Welshman has been reluctant to leave. By staying, though, Bale is only doing himself more damage. He needs a fresh start. He needs a new club where he will be harnessed.

Wales have got the best out of Bale in recent times. Like most players, the winger plays at his best when the environment he finds himself in is a healthy one. Real Madrid is a toxic environment for Bale. That doesn’t look like changing any time soon. If he enjoys himself more with Wales, he should like to find something similar in a new club.

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Gareth Bale’s Real Madrid future is once again a hot topic

It was all but signed. A deal was agreed between Real Madrid and Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning for the transfer of Gareth Bale following a very public saga. Zinedine Zidane was quite clearly doing his best to banish the Welsh winger from the Santiago Bernabeu dressing and China looked to be his only escape route.

Of course, the deal that would have seen Bale earn a staggering £1 million a week fell through and the 30-year-old was left stuck in the Spanish capital. From his point of view, this represented something of a victory. While Bale was understandably angry and frustrated at his treatment, he still wanted to play for Real Madrid.

The dynamic has shifted somewhat since then. Bale has forced his way back into the first team fold, once again becoming a key figure for Real Madrid over the first few weeks of the new season. Indeed, two goals and two assists from six La Liga appearances represents a decent haul.

But now it seems that Bale’s future in the Spanish capital is a hot topic again, with reports emerging that the Welshman now wants to leave Real Madrid. There’s no real suggestion of where he could end up, but now the situation has been flipped with Zidane keen to keep Bale and the player himself eager to leave.

“I think you play with a lot of emotion and anger comes into it of course, but I am just trying to play football, to enjoy it as much as I can and give my best, whether I am here or in Madrid,” Bale explained while on international duty with Wales this week. “Whenever I step onto the pitch I give 100% to help the team and I will continue to do that.”

But is Bale giving 100% to earn himself a move elsewhere or is he playing to keep his place at the Santiago Bernabeu? For the first time in a while, he is in a position of power. China was his only potential destination over the summer, but his early season form will have surely convinced some European suitors to make a move should he make himself available.

The latest twist of the saga concerning Bale’s future in Spain could see Real Madrid refuse to sell him just months after doing everything in their power to ensure he never set foot in their dressing room again.

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