Premier League chief Richard Scudamore’s pay off feels like short change in the long term


Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and on these very pages I wrote an article detailing the grotesque story that emerged of Premier League chief Richard Scudamore being handed a £5m golden handshake payment following his decision to step down after two decades. But in contrast to some of the news in the Premier League his bonus seems like short change.

Take Mark Hughes who keeps failing at clubs and getting chances where other better managers are missing out on Premier League jobs. He was reported to have received £6m when Southampton sacked him earlier this season, and yet Hughes was not at The Saints for two decades like Scudamore.

The bigger story is left to the bigger fish, the one and only Jose Mourinho who has received or will receive a reported £15m after being sacked from Manchester United. The blame must go on the shoulders of United’s vice chairman Ed Woodward who gave Mourinho a contract extension at the beginning of 2018, which resulted in this pay off. Some outlets put the figure much higher at £22m, whatever the total amount, Mourinho has been paid at least 3 times the figure of Scudamore for failing.

At least Scudamore can claim not to have failed in his job and whilst his payment from he outside feels unjustified to the person in the street he has been able to grow the Premier League into what it is today. Sure its not all roses- mostly the same teams win the title. But anyone that wants to question Scudamore’s great job need only look at Italy’s Serie A. A one great league that is now a shambles of concrete stadiums, racist abuse to players and fans and hardly family friendly. Perhaps Scudamore’s next role should be in Italy, the man has the golden touch that cannot be denied.

Could Hughes or Mourinho claim the same? What type of legacy did they leave at their clubs? And yet they were paid handsomely well and no fan was ready to protest their pay offs like people did with Scudamore’s £5m which feels like petty cash given that he has injected billions into the very same teams that these fans support.

So whilst being paid two times your salary as a bonus does not feel right it must be taken in the context of the sport of football which is locked and loaded with money one thing is for sure and that is at least in the context of the crazy world that is football Scudamore earned his pay off.


Which Premier League strugglers will sack their manager before 2019?

Mark Hughes

The 2018-19 Premier League relegation battle is one of the most difficult to predict in the league’s 26-year history.

At the start of November, Newcastle and Huddersfield had three points from 10 matches, while newly promoted Cardiff and Fulham were hovering just above them on five points.

Having won three matches between them, it looked as though those four teams would be fighting to escape the drop zone all throughout the season.

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Craven Cottage clash is one of the biggest matches of the season

It is a rare occurrence that no Premier League manager loses their job until mid-November. Fulham broke that run when they fired Slavisa Jokanovic before the international break and replaced him with former Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri.

Ranieri’s first match as Fulham manager is against Mark Hughes. Hughes was one of the sack race favourites and with good reason. In 20 Premier League matches since he took over, Southampton have won just three times. Saints have lost 10 over that period, with the draw probably saving Hughes’ job up until now. They have scored just 16 goals and conceded 33.

Hughes saved the south coast club from the drop last season. It is almost tradition that a manager who avoids relegation on a short-term deal is given a new contract. Southampton did not break such a rich Premier League tradition, though perhaps history suggests they should have done. Short-term results earning a longer deal might seem fair, but it all too often results in a cycle of mid-season hiring and firing (just ask Sunderland fans).

Southampton are far from playing perfect football, yet there’s an argument they have been unfortunate. They are massively underperforming their expected goals. This may be because of stupendous goalkeeping, but – as anyone who has watched Southampton this season will know – this is largely down to poor finishing. Hughes’ selection is to blame for this in part. Even so, Southampton should have scored more than the eight they have managed so far.

At the other end of the pitch things have not been great either. Southampton’s 21 conceded is far from the worst record in the league (this weekend’s opponents have conceded 10 more), and there have been improvements of late, but only Fulham, Brighton and Burnley have a higher non-penalty expected goals against.

Stoke’s defence got gradually worse under Hughes. Southampton’s back line looks similarly flimsy. The combination of wasting chances and leaking goal scoring opportunities is not a good one.

Hughes is a man under pressure. Failure to beat Watford or Newcastle at home in his last two might have put him into must-win territory. Away days in west London and Leicester in their next two are crucial before they face Manchester United and Tottenham.

This weekend’s clash at Craven Cottage is obviously huge for Fulham and Ranieri too. Fulham have lost every match they have played since 25th September and play Chelsea after this one. It’s hardly panic stations at this time of year, but they will be wary of being cut adrift as they are already three points off safety.

Victory this weekend, on the other hand, would put Fulham level on points with 17th-placed Southampton. The gloomy days of Jokanovic’s final weeks in the job would be almost forgotten.

Hughes walked a tightrope for months at Stoke, and he’s mastering it again at Southampton. Defeat this weekend, however, could be the final straw.

With points tallies very low in the bottom-half of the table this season, the idea of a must-win match in November is bizarre. This is about as close as it gets for Southampton, though, and a positive start against a rival is invaluable for Ranieri before a tougher run of fixtures.

Four points separate the bottom seven teams. The head-to-head matches will go a long way to deciding which teams remains in the Premier League. With hope filling the west London air, this is about as tough a start as it could have been for Ranieri. Expectation against a fellow relegation candidate is a more important, more daunting task than the relative relaxation of avoiding humiliation against a top six side.

We might not have started our advent calendars and are not yet a third of the way through the season, but this is one of the biggest matches of the Premier League campaign to date.

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Should Southampton replace Mark Hughes with Sam Allardyce?


The 2018-19 Premier League season has started in predictably underwhelming fashion for Southampton.

Mark Hughes’ side have picked up eight points from their first 12 league games, scoring just eight goals in the process, and the club took “constructive action” to “get results back on track” by sacking vice-chairman Les Reed earlier this week.

Despite the poor start, it has been reported by Sky Sports that the club remains supportive of Hughes and they intend to back the Welshman in the January transfer window.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – Episode 13 – Salah, Mauro Icardi & Cristiano Ronaldo Dominate the Goals & Dave’s Sunderland Song


Welcome back to the Euro Fantasy League Podcast! In the latest instalment, the lads discuss the goals galore from the likes of Mo Salah, Mauro Icardi & Cristiano Ronaldo, look ahead to the international break and talk about the song Dave has written about Sunderland, which went viral and featured on lots of local press a few days ago.

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The Managerial Merry-Go-Round – Are Managers Always To Blame?


The FA Cup is renowned across the world for it’s “magic” – that intangible quality which, on occasion, allows a lower league club to up their game and put up a good battle for victory over a team of, say, highly paid international stars.

We saw that this past weekend, with several notable “giant-killings” taking place in what seems to be something of an annual tradition. One of these, as it transpires, would prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back this time. Continue reading

Stoke City’s woeful finish threatens to spoil a season of promise

Mark Hughes

Stoke City suffered another 4-0 defeat in the Premier League this weekend with Manchester City comfortably dispatching of the Potters at the Etihad Stadium, and manager Mark Hughes was once again left fuming at his side’s inept defensive display. Stoke have now shipped four goals in each of their last three league games, and now risk losing their top-half spot in the table unless they can arrest the slide.

City are currently 10th in the Premier League with 47 points from 35 games. It’s looking unlikely that Stoke will surpass their record finish in the division (9th on 54 points in 2014/15) but they could still ensure their tally surpasses the 50-point marker. However, the Potters need to tighten up at the back as they have conceded 12 goals in just three games, a return that impressively took them 13 games to surpass at the start of the season, but things have been going wrong as the campaign comes to a close.

“The last three games have been extremely poor so we need the next three to be top drawer, because we have the ability to make that happen. It’s vital for us now, given the time of the season, to get back on track. Defensively we didn’t have the platform to build upon and that is something that we have got to address,” said manager Mark Hughes. Stoke’s season looks symptomatic of a side with nothing to play for in the league. The Potters are comfortably away from the drop zone, but also too big a distance to threaten for Europe.

Supporters are relatively content with how the season has gone given the new attacking style that has evolved under Hughes, but they won’t want to see such a bright start ruined by a sombre finish. Stoke City were seventh in the Premier League early last month, but are coming off the back of one win from seven. 11th-placed Everton could narrow the gap to the Potters to three points if they are victorious in their game in hand so Stoke can’t afford any more slip-ups.

They have Sunderland (home), Crystal Palace (away) and West Ham United (home) in their remaining games so they stand a chance of turning their form around. While a lukewarm season, Stoke have problems to address. The lack of goals certainly needs to be addressed especially given how much more of an attacking side they are. So can Stoke turn their form around to spoil what has been a promising third season for manager Mark Hughes?