Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood and Harry Maguire have embarrassed England and Gareth Southgate has a huge job on his hands

Nothing has changed from the England mental attitude of the 1970s, 80s, or 90s, and this is something that current manager Gareth Southgate learned in the most direct way in the past few weeks.

Players that are supposed to be upstanding professionals have let themselves down and let football down, and let Southgate down. So much so that even some sections of the press are wondering if Southgate is up to the job. Here is the man that led a very average England side to the semi-finals of the World Cup and the Nations League in its first edition. There is a lot of potential in this England side but Southgate ultimately might never get the chance to realise it, but he is not the major problem. The players are.

Not every player of course, but once one player makes off the pitch mistakes it just seeps into the squad. A laugh here, a jibe there. Harry Maguire the captain of the national side getting involved in a reported punch up in Greece with police, Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood arranging for two women to join them in a hotel, it all just harks back to tabloid heaven from the 1990s.

You don’t see continental and international players keep getting themselves in the headlines for the wrong reasons, scandal after scandal seems to follow England and football, if it isn’t the fans it’s the players- and they are supposed to be the role models.

Southgate has tried to play down what Foden and Greenwood did, and true they are young, 38 years between them, they will hopefully learn. But still. The problem that Southgate has is that they are two very good players and are important to the England set up. They will miss perhaps one game, like they did yesterday, the Denmark one.But Southgate should write them off for the next 3 games at least- punish them properly make them really think about what they have done.

Young players will make mistakes but it also showed a lack of respect for preparation for the Denmark game. Do they not care about the UEFA Nations League or representing their country? Would they have tried the same on had this been a knock out World Cup game?

Scandals followed the England team even when Southgate was a player, as a manager he is trying to advance the team and put them in a more professional light. But Maguire, Foden and Greenwood have sent his plans hurtling back to the drawing board faster than a janitor hitting the ground after being punched by the Rock. His plans are in tatters, and one suspects after next summers Euro’s Southgate could be departing early, sadly little has changed within the England set up, even on the surface that doesn’t look like the case, it seems as if the problems are very deep rooted.

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Can Harry Maguire keep his captaincy after arrest in Greece?

It’s been a terrible week for Manchester United and England player Harry Maguire who was arrested and then charged in Greece whilst on holiday, the question is now what will happen to him professionally?

Details are still sketchy about what actually happened when Maguire was on holiday but it seems that he was drinking and got into a scuffle or at least a shouting match with some members of the public. Soon after the police got involved and Maguire may have had a confrontation with them. After being taking to a cell reports suggest that Maguire told the police he was a very rich man and could pay them. That is of course bribery and seems to have back fired on Maguire.

This is a mess no doubt and just looks bad anyway you look at it. An Englishman abroad… but at the same time if Maguire was taunted in the first place this is not good. Can’t a famous known figure enjoy themselves without being verbally abused? Some would say that Maguire visited a tourist hot spot and should have known better though, that the life he leads means he will be a target. Well Maguire has found out the hard way.

There was a feeling that Maguire would be found not guilty but that hasn’t happened and the report has come back pressing charges on the footballer. This means in theory he could face jail time, although by Greek law that probably won’t happen and instead he will be fined- money he tried to part with a few days ago.

But Maguire’s professionalism will surely need to be questioned after this incident. Some of the accusations against the player are not befitting of someone who also leads his team. For England manager Gareth Southgate named Maguire as his starting captain for England’s next international games a day before the guilty verdict and it will be interesting to see if Southgate keeps that decision.

It has been reported that United manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer is having talks with Maguire about his captaincy and he could be stripped of it even if Solskjaer supports his player he may need to act on the guilty verdict.

If anything this has been a learning curve for Maguire and his next holiday will surely be more private. Overall Maguire has had a decent season with the club and he should be able to recover from this controversy- he will at least have a chapter for his future book wrapped up.

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After his first season with Manchester United is Harry Maguire really worth £80m?

There was heaps of pressure put on England international Harry Maguire when he joined Manchester United at the beginning of last season for £80m. For one that figure broke the world transfer record for a defender. For two you could have been forgiven for thinking that the star defenders over Europe were looking at the transfer and thinking Harry who?

Of course Maguire by the transfer had put in some brilliant performances for both Leicester City and England where he had broken into the national team. But Maguire had not been seen in Europe due to not playing in either the Champions League or Europa League, so the transfer seemed like a scratch your head moment.

However those in the Premier League knew of Maguire’s strengths, and sometimes it’s not the overall quality that you have that counts in the league but the experience you have. Imagine for example taking a world class defender from Serie A and pitting them in the Premier League- they may get to grips with the pace of the league after a while, but already having that experience you hit the ground running. This is what United were buying and then of course there is always going to be a premium price when your new signing is an England international.

One of the other negative points about breaking transfer records was that Maguire hadn’t justified his price tag, no matter if he had put in some reliable and solid games with club and country. How does one justify spending £80m on a player who has won zero trophies? The problem lies in the fact that the player has no winning experience, still age is on his side. At 27 and in his position he could well have 10 years at the top of the game where he will be hoping to become a legend at Old Trafford.

How has his debut season fared then with the red devils? Maguire started decent enough but did make a few errors as the winter months kicked in. However at the turn of the year he really started to find his rhythm on the pitch and formed an excellent partnership with Victor Lindelof.

Do you have Maguire in your fantasy team? If so you will be interested to note that he came out on top of all the defenders in the side gaining 52 points. He only scored 1 league goal this season but that isn’t so important, it’s not his job to bang in the goals, though he would have liked to have created some and he didn’t. However he did help the club to 13 clean sheets when he played.

Ultimately then after a shaky start Maguire looks to have had a solid season with the club and that isn’t easy with such a step up to a club like United and what it means. He has helped them into a 3rd place finish and that will mean Champions League football for next season which should further enhance his reputation.

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Top 5 Premier League flops in 2019/20

The Premier League has been able to bring in some of the very best players over the years. With buckets full of money through television deals improving your team hasn’t been that hard, but that doesn’t mean there have been some poor buys when clubs have previously thought that they have either got a bargain or spent a small fortune of what they believe to be the next best youngster.

This season alone makes no exceptions. Below we have a top 5 list of the biggest flops in the Premier League so far. True these same flops could end up being amongst the very best players come the end of the season, but with all justification all of these players have hardly got off to the starts that their clubs would have wanted. Yes it is early in the season but let’s not forget we are almost at a third of the way through.

Moise Kean- Everton

Moise Kean cost Everton £25m and that seemed like a bargain. Kean who was playing for Juventus at the time has been seen as Italy’s next best striker. He is 19, quick, versatile and very confident. Once it looked like Juventus had wrapped up last seasons Serie A title he got his chance in the team and came in and couldn’t stop scoring goals. He scored 6 from his 13 games in the league. Everton were quick off the mark to get him, but he has been a shadow of the player that graced Juventus. From his 9 games so far in the league he has yet to score, and has been some what of a disappointment.

It has got to the stage now where Marco Silva, the Everton manager has been starting him from the bench. Obviously the change of country and culture has not been easy on the player and let’s admit he is still only 19, he probably has a bright future ahead of him. For now Everton looked to have overspent and what will Kean be realistically thinking? One day training with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, the next can’t start a game at Everton.

Pablo Fornals- West Ham

A lot was expected of Pablo Fornals whose silky attacking play was supposed to make West Ham a better team going forward. But he has been very quiet, and is now enjoying more time warming the bench. Fornals has never scored many goals but in his role as an attacking midfielder he is supposed to supply them. Fornals is yet to score in the league but did do so in the Carabao Cup. Costing £24m from Spanish side Villarreal Fornals has been a big disappointment so far, he simply doesn’t seem settled with the pace of the game and looks at this point to be too predictable. He is West Ham’s 2nd ever most expensive signing.

Nicolas Pepe- Arsenal

Nicolas Pepe was incredible last season for French Ligue 1 side Lille, his 22 goals from 38 games helped greatly in Lille upsetting the odds and finishing as runners up to PSG thus qualifying for the Champions League.

It was first a surprise that Pepe did not opt to stay with Lille on their European adventure instead choosing Arsenal who are playing in the Europa League this season. But of course the lure of playing for a famed club in the Premier League and a better salary was enough for the player. Here’s the thing though, Pepe has scored just once in his 9 league games. Possibly we can point to the fact that Pepe does not start every game and also Arsenal manager Unai Emery hasn’t always been using the player as a classic centre forward, they have Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang for that. But when he isn’t scoring goals one has to wonder who will for the Gunners?

It’s not all bad for Pepe, he has shown flashes of his brilliance and has scored a few goals in the clubs Europa League campaign. But at a cost of £72m it’s fair to say that the Gunners would have expected a little more from the player.

Harry Maguire- Manchester United

Harry Maguire was so good for Leicester at the back that he has become an England international and had a very good World Cup tournament last summer. This led Manchester United to go big on the defender and splash out £80m on him. But the magic simply hasn’t clicked. United were very leaky before Maguire joined and remain that way. Even when they rarely win games these days they keep on conceding. Maguire has been a very solid player and knows how to score goals from set pieces, inevitably he is going to become better and feel more fitted in at his role with the Red Devils. For now the club are going to suffer a little before that happens.

The big question mark is the initial fee. How can any player cost so much when they have won zero trophies? Of course the fee isn’t Maguire’s fault at all, that’s what it takes for an English international in the Premier League to join another team in the same league. The pressure is on Maguire though to establish himself within the team, for now it almost feels like he is hiding.

Tanguy Ndombele- Tottenham

When you think of how far Tottenham have come in the last few seasons, it makes how they have started this one mind boggling. They didn’t lose any key players in the summer and yet seem to have returned to a mid 1990s version of themselves. They will get better of course, this is the Champions League finalists from last season, but for now they have quite a few problems on their hands.

Famous now for not spending big money in transfer windows, they spent almost £60m acquiring the signature of Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon. This felt like a strange decision, given that Ndombele who had had a decent season for the Ligue 1 side clearly wasn’t even their best midfielder last season. However trust had to be put into Mauricio Pochettino, that’s who he wanted and that is who he was going to get. Ndombele has scored a couple of goals and made an assist and that isn’t too bad, but again much more was expected of him, he needed to be the glue that sets the quickest in this very talented team of players. It might still happen, for now there has to be question marks over whether Lyon saw Tottenham coming with that fee.

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Predicted lineups for the first weekend of the new EPL season

The English Premier League returns on Friday night when European champions Liverpool face Norwich City at Anfield.

There is a full programme of matches on between Friday night and Sunday afternoon with all 20 Premier League teams in action on the opening weekend.

Here are our predicted lineups for those EPL fixtures so have a read in preparation to get your EPL fantasy season off to the perfect start.

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Will Man Utd just about snap up a centre-back this summer?

Manchester United have had an impressive pre-season at a personal level, beating the likes of Perth Glory, Leeds United, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur whilst playing good possession-based football with a high pressing style. Majority of the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that this continues into the new campaign, as the previous season was as awful one to simply forget.

Not only that, the two signings in Aaron-Wan Bissaka and Daniel James has received the required game time and the calm consultation from the rest of the squad, in order for their respective careers to get going. Since the duo have arrived, the club now have a right-back that is one of the best in the league and a natural winger that is really fast, both footed and is able to play on either of the flanks.

However, focusing on if United are going to complete anymore transfers or not, they still desperately in need of two to three additions before the season eventually begins. The main position just happens to be the centre-back area, where they are clearly lacking a vocal leader and someone to consistently pair up with Victor Lindelof, who is currently regarded as the side’s best defender.

With Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones constantly being injury prone and unavailable for when the side need them the most, the options that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has are limited straightaway. Meanwhile, Axel Tuanzebe has quite the potential, but it is uncertain if he plays regularly or goes out on loan again, whilst Chris Smalling has been fairly good but has failed to reach the prospects he showed during his early days as a Fulham player and in his first season at United.

Although the club have recently been linked with the likes of Harry Maguire, Kalidou Koulibaly and Toby Alderweireld, there has not been enough closure from the English papers or the club’s media press to show they intend on making a third signing. There is a huge difference in the final outcome of the season if it is to happen or not, from finishing in the Europa League spots again to a top four finish and potential silverware.

After conceding over 50 league goals and keeping only a few clean sheets last season, the Red Devil supporters were seriously hoping that the people in charge and Ed Woodward himself would have seen the defence as the side’s main weakness. Given that Liverpool have Virgil van Dijk and Manchester City have Aymeric Laporte, two of the best centre-backs within England and Europe, United are yet to have someone of that calibre to lead them to a title challenge and make them defensively sound.

Had the hierarchy provided Jose Mourinho with a centre back last summer as per his request, a lot of things would have been different by now, with the club’s chances of finishing in the top four being increased instantly and also their odds in the domestic cups. Furthermore, the club’s planning for the transfer window has been below-par and absolutely atrocious, spending just under £150million and bringing in only five new additions together this summer and last summer, leaving many holes to still fill.

Overall, Manchester United will honestly not be competing with both Liverpool and Manchester City in the league anytime soon, especially when you see the difference in quality that both rival clubs have on and off the pitch. Though, if the club were to somehow bring in a centre-back within the next ten days, it would allow them to bring pure stability and protection to a dreadful defence whilst help them to a good term.

Why is Leicester City’s Harry Maguire worth £80m?

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Leicester City’s Harry Maguire is being chased by both Manchester clubs with City, the current champions looking the favourites from the two to get his signature. But the asking price seems incredibly inflated. The Foxes want £80m for their defender- the genuine question is, how did they get to this figure?

Maguire has won no major trophies in his career and he is 26- he has never played for a top 4 side, not even top 6. Though he did join Leicester the season after they were declared champions. Has the price been inflated then because he is a current England international player with 20 caps- it does seem so.

The reality of the situation is that in the current price market Maguire is worth no more than £35m, and teams valuations of players has gone through the roof. Sadly for Premier League clubs selling on English players it has always been like this, when a few extra million seems to attach onto any fee.

City and United have the money but City have taken over United now and they will most likely get his signature. No one is denying that Maguire could become a better all round player at City and put in good displays, but City will not be making any money on the player in the future- indeed his value if sold for £80m will start to decrease the moment he puts pen to paper.

The reality of it is is that Leicester have no right to ask so much for the player, the price compared to what Maguire has achieved has no justification, plain and simple.

England’s manager Gareth Southgate hasn’t helped the situation, he once ill advised that Maguire was one of the best defenders in the world. Again totally unjustified. Maguire is a good defender and would never have made it in England’s set up otherwise and starred of course in a World Cup which saw England reach the semi-final stages. But one of the best makes little sense for a player who has played in his career for the likes of Hull and Leicester and we need to be realistic of that fact.

For now United have lodged a £70m bid which is ridiculous in and of itself, and Leicester had the bravado to turn that down and then ask for £10m extra. The fear for United is that their rivals will seriously start sniffing around and come in for the player. But no team is getting a good deal or bargain here.

 

 

Do Manchester City really need Harry Maguire?

So impressive have Manchester City been over the past two seasons, collecting 198 points over the 2017/18 and 2018/19 campaigns, it’s difficult to envisage how they could possibly improve this summer. But this is the task they must take on otherwise risk being leapfrogged by Liverpool, who are expected to strengthen again this summer, at the top of the English game.

The past week has seen the Premier League champions spring into action, with Rodri expected to make the move from Atletico Madrid to the Etihad Stadium in the coming days. Another rumour has seen City enter the race for Harry Maguire and now it seems likely that the Leicester City defender will indeed be Pep Guardiola’s latest signing.

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Maguire has become a key member and a mainstay of the England team over the past two seasons, also impressing for Leicester in the Premier League. There is a sense that he is ready to take the next step in his career and a move to Manchester City would certainly represent progression.

But is Maguire really the player that Man City need at this time? Nicolas Otamendi is expected to leave the club this summer, with Guardiola keen to move the Argentinean on. Vincent Kompany has already departed the Etihad Stadium for Anderlecht and so there is a vacant spot in the Man City defence right now.

Maguire doesn’t appear to be a Guardiola type of player, though. The 26-year-old is an extremely solid centre back, possessing all the fundamental skills required for someone to succeed in that position, but he has some way to go before he can match the likes of Gerard Pique or Aymeric Laporte for playing out from the back.

Of course, some will argue, with good reason, that Maguire would be an upgrade on John Stones, with the 25-year-old’s capacity for making big mistakes in big games once again exposed in England’s defeat to Netherlands in the semi finals of the Nations League. But surely City can do better.

Surely the player they should be targeting this summer is Matthijs de Ligt, the Dutch teenager seemingly built to play for a Guardiola team. Of course, he is the most sought after defender in the European game right now, with almost every member of the continental elite vying for his signature, but if City want the best then he is who they should be going after.

 

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EPL Best XI – Sturridge joins Kane in attack

Daniel Sturridge

Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea maintained their unbeaten starts in Week 7 of the 2018-19 season, while Manchester United’s poor run continued with a 3-1 loss at West Ham. Let’s take a look at the top players from the weekend’s games…

GK: Jordan Pickford, Everton – seven points
It’s been a tough start to the season for Jordan Pickford but he finally got his first clean sheet in the 3-0 win over Fulham at Goodison Park, earning himself seven points. He is still on minus points (-3) overall, but this is a start!

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 5

Alexandre Lacazette

Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso are among the high-scorers for EPL Fantasy managers so far this season, but there are plenty of other players across the league who could be worthy of inclusion in your team this weekend.

GK – Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s big-money summer signing has picked up 12 points so far this season – Liverpool’s Alisson is the only goalkeeper with more – and he will surely add to that tally in the upcoming matches against low-scoring Cardiff and West Ham.

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