Wayne Rooney has made a good choice to join Derby but has not treated DC United fairly

Wayne Rooney has always said that he wanted to start coaching once his career was coming to an end and the latest news is that he will become a player/coach for Derby County in England’s Championship.

But how does that leave DC United, Rooney’s current team in the MLS?

The choice that Rooney has made is good for him and in some ways understandable but at the same time it does leave a question of loyalty to his American club. Rooney has made a fantastic impact in the MLS, Where DC United have gone from being near the bottom of their conference to mixing with the top teams, they will make the final play-offs this season as they also try and win their conference. On top of that Rooney has been amazing on and off the field. Scoring brilliant goals, linking up well with the team, being influential in the dressing room and the fans have absolutely loved him. Had he stayed it could be argued that he would have made a much bigger impact on American soccer than even David Beckham.

Rooney had signed a 3 year contract with DC United and that is set to be terminated after 18 months. Just half his time, and yes there is a question of what do contracts actually mean?

Of course there are two sides to Rooney’s switch. The first is that the move should be good for him. He obviously wants to coach and that is going to start in his home country England. Derby has been a good starting point, after all it worked for Frank Lampard who stayed just a season before getting the high profile job at Chelsea. Rooney will learn from current manager Phillip Cocu and will also play for the club possibly for six months, maybe a season and a half.

Still with Rooney’s career and time on his side from a coaching perspective ahead, DC United have the right to feel aggrieved about his decision. They haven’t said anything at this point, but he was so popular with the club and fans, that they thought he would be around until at least the summer of 2021. Instead Rooney will leave at the end of the year. That is something because at least he will be playing for them when the crucial play-offs come up. Had he left now, it would have been very wrong.

Rooney has made a good choice, but his swift decision is still evidence that footballers seemingly live on a very different planet to the rest of us, where sadly some of the loyalty and passion and a further bridging gap between fans and players has developed.

Wayne Rooney is turning into a legend in America with DC United


It’s fair to say that when Wayne Rooney left England and the Premier League after a fantastic career which saw him play for Manchester United and Everton and win trophies for United, one could have thought that Rooney’s next project would have been inspired by money and an easy life. But what the ex England international has done is actually open up a brand new chapter into his legacy in football. America love him.

And why wouldn’t the MLS love Rooney? Instead of playing out his days what Rooney did when he joined DC United is that he took it 100% seriously and this paid dividends. Firstly because the MLS is not a pushover league like it may have been a decade ago and secondly seeing the desire and passion in Rooney and his work rate attracted him to the hearts of the DC United fans. They have taken him in and he has become a local hero for the club.

Take last season when DC United were close to the bottom of the league as they waited on Rooney’s appearance. Once he played the team shot up the standings, the confidence grew and so did the wins. This is down to Rooney who has always been a great motivator.

Rooney scores goals too even at 33 he is showing no signs of slowing down and has bagged 23 goals from 40 games. What has been remarkable is that Rooney has had his own personal problems while in America. Settling down was one, and then he was arrested for being drunk last year- usually this could have meant the beginning of the end for a career in America, but Rooney has been able to sail through all of that and is showing the fans the goals.

Just last week Rooney scored a goal from inside his own half against Orlando some 70 yards out, and it was no fluke and this is the second time he has done this.

Rooney was evidently born to play football but with his success in America one can ask is he having a better impact than golden boy David Beckham? Both utter professionals of course but a little less is expected of Rooney who is delivering the goods week in and week out.

As for winning trophies in America, that is up in the air. Currently DC United are in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference and are just 1 point behind league leaders Philadelphia Union. They will make the play-offs that is for sure and they should be regarded with a fit Rooney on board as one of the favourites to claim the overall title.


What is next for Arsene Wenger and why has no club come in for him?

zzzzz (1) (1)

This summer has been a huge one for Arsene Wenger, that culminated in one of the biggest changes of his career- leaving his beloved Arsenal after 22 years. The French coaching legend has been busy since departing, visiting his good friend George Weah in Africa and attending many different football matches. However questions remain as to what Wenger will do next.

Wenger has been linked to various jobs, most have been outside of the major clubs though and the feeling is that he won’t end up with one of the European heavyweights. This is probably more of a reflection on his last 10 years with Arsenal, where he was only able to achieve 3 FA Cup wins and no league titles.

In the summer it seemed that he was favoured to manage in China. Wenger of course has already coached in Asia when he managed in the Japanese J League. But many coaches have chosen China for a lucrative final pay deal that has seen the likes of Fabio Capello and Sven Goran Eriksson sign up to go out there.

Or there is the option to coach an MLS team in America. Whilst the salary would be much lower than what Wenger is expected of the football would be more competitive and could serve him up with just the right challenge to keep him motivated.

One idea that does fit is to become the national coach of his country. No one can deny how brilliant France have been over the last 2 years, winning this summers World Cup and finishing as runners up at Euro 2016. The problem he has there is that France have the very capable Didier Deschamps in charge who has obviously done a fantastic job with the side. The only way that could change would be if France have a poor Euro 2020, and even if that happens the French job is still 2 years away, something that Wenger surely couldn’t wait that long to acquire.

There has for many years been a link to both PSG and Barcelona. PSG makes sense in the fact they are of course French and have dominated Ligue 1 football this decade. The team and Wenger were the perfect fit at the beginning of this decade, but at the end,well it isn’t not so sure. Again PSG like France look in a very good position and it seems that current coach Thomas Tuchel is going nowhere fast.

As far as Barcelona are concerned, surely this would be the dream final job for Wenger- a team who empathise with Wenger’s football philosophy to attack. Current coach Ernesto Valverde is under some pressure even though the club are the champions in Spain. The problem is that they have not performed well enough in the Champions League in recent seasons.

Another question must be posed which is, clubs are hardly lining up for Wenger’s signature and it could well be that at 68 the very big European heavyweights will feel that Wenger has had his time.

The link again goes back this week to PSG where Wenger could become a technical advisor with the club, or as some people would put it, the man upstairs. Let’s hope that Wenger does not take this route to end his glorious footballing career on because it would rather feel that the great man is going out with a whimper rather than a bang of which he is surely most deserving.

A La Liga game between Girona and Barcelona in America would be a bad move


In the past we’ve seen American sports moving over to Europe to play regular season games namely the NFL which is played at Wembley Stadium every season in London and Basketball. Could European football be next?

In truth, playing a regular season game abroad has been edging closer by every passing year. The Spanish Super Cup was not played in Spain and the FIFA World Club Cup is regularly played at the other end of the world. But a proper domestic game has never happened.

More than a decade ago Premier League chief Richard Scudamore’s ill fated 39th Premier League game to be played abroad never materialised with clubs voting it down but now in Spain, La Liga’s president Javier Tebas is very confident that the first game for Spanish sides will be played as early as January in Miami.

That game has been pencilled in to be the Catalan derby between Girona and Barcelona and as a sweet spot fans of Girona who have season tickets have even been offered free plane tickets to attend the match. But is moving a game away from your host country destroying the lifeblood and the soul of football?

There are of course two answers but surely anyone that has followed the game and knows its roots knows this is a venture steered only by money and profit. To take a fiery local derby game away from the fans- because many even if offered free flights won’t be able to take that up with family/work commitments feels like a bit of a sin. If the game does go ahead where will it all end? To add to this, Girona would also lose their home advantage as Barcelona playing to a packed stadium would feel like a home match by proxy- and with all due respect how many American fans have heard of or ever followed Girona?

Tebas says that there is a 90% chance the game will happen but there is opposition including even some Barcelona players. Both Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique have spoken out about moving the game, and other players from other teams have also been vocal.

The Spanish FA are against the idea also and the proposed match could see La Liga go on strike. Whilst the idea of playing a game deep rooted in one country and changing that for another seems exciting that excitement should last for only seconds and never have got this far. And yet on the international stage we have seen example of this happening.

A decade ago Brazil played Argentina in London, Argentina also played Croatia at West Ham’s old ground of Upton Park in 2014 and there have been other examples. Each of those games were friendlies but they were also underlined by the fact that the teams had come with their star studded players in tow. If those players had refused to play would those games have gone ahead? There will be some pressure then on Lionel Messi to speak up after all his teammates have.

To add fuel to the fire if Girona and Barcelona do meet in Miami it has already been confirmed that all Catalan flags would be banned from the stadium- in what is a Catalan derby. If that isn’t ripping the heart and soul out of the game, what is?


Rooney departs with no fanfare but history will be kind to his legacy

Wayne Rooney

Farewell, then, Wayne. You will be missed. Or perhaps not. It’s difficult to gauge how well the former Manchester United striker is remembered and liked by fans but whatever side of the debate you sit on, there’s only one incontrovertible conclusion to reach: Wayne Rooney had a good run. The man had a brilliant career in the Premier League, and as time washes away and we’re all turned to dust, history will be kind to his legacy.

In case you haven’t heard, Rooney left Everton this week after signing a three-and-a-half year deal with MLS side D.C. United, bringing to an end his 16-year career in the Premier League. It has been evident that at, 32, Rooney isn’t quite the force of nature he once was. The pace is gone and so is the explosiveness; that ability to bring fire and potent force to a game as he so desired. It’s the reason he was back at Everton last summer in the first place: he was no longer fit for purpose at a club of United’s ambition.

There’s a little sadness here, too. In the middle of a World Cup where Gareth Southgate’s England are winning hearts and putting points on the board, Rooney, a veteran of three largely doomed campaigns, departs quietly from centre stage to the worst side in MLS. It is the same World Cup where Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney’s old mate and six months his senior, is shining brightly with four goals in three games.

But it would be uncharitable to view Rooney’s career solely through the lens of the latter years of his career, especially when the loss of pace is directly related to how he started his playing days like a house on fire. Rooney is not like most 32-year-olds in terms of his playing age. This is the man who took the game by surprise as a stocky 16-year-old with rage in his eyes and an incredible eye for goal. A man who scored a hat trick on his United debut. The goals and numbers bear witness to his greatness. 253 goals in 559 appearances for United, 28 in 118 for Everton and 53 in 119 for England. He is the record goalscorer for United and England, two of the most important institutions in world football. You do not achieve that by being a fraud. When Ronaldo was at his pomp during that glorious 2008/09 season, Rooney was the the dutiful teammate who willfully played out of position numerous times for the greater good.

As Rooney departs with no fanfare to the other side of the Atlantic, it should be remembered that when he was at his best, England had no answer to a player who could make magic happen all the while looking like your next door neighbour.

Play Euro 2016 Fantasy Football Games now!

www.eurofantasyleague.com (EFL) announced the launch of its Euro 2016 fantasy football games on Sunday, June 5th ahead of the European Championships which kick-off this Friday. Please visit www.euro2016game.com to join and play! This is the signup page https://www.euro2016game.com/en/sign-up

This comes 9 days after the launch of the Copa America 2016 fantasy football games. Here’s the link for Copa’s Fantasy Games: https://eurofantasyleague.com/copa/

Remember you can also look forward to the top European leagues returning in August 2016. EFL also has the MLS (Major League Soccer) games currently available for skilled & knowledgeable fantasy football managers: https://eurofantasyleague.com/mls/

We hope all Participants enjoy our Games and prove their knowledge of football (soccer) while competing against some of the world’s best fantasy football managers!

Conte right not to call MLS pair


Antonio Conte on Monday released his preliminary 30-man Italy squad for Euro 2016 and it raised eyebrows across continents. Aside from forced absentees Claudio Marchisio, Marco Verratti and Mattia Perin, the lack of Domenico Berardi, Leonardo Pavoletti, Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco sparked debates.

The Serie A pair, at Sassuolo and Genoa respectively, missed out despite impressive campaigns. Berardi starred as the Neroverdi qualified for Europe. It wasn’t as prolific a campaign as previously, but Berardi has continually shown why big clubs are linked with a move. Grifoni striker Pavoletti was Serie A’s highest scoring Italian, with 14 goals.

In North America the other absences were protested. Pirlo’s quality cannot be debated. While his New York City form has been below that of his recent Juventus days, it was thought midfield injuries would re-open the door. Giovinco has been in stunning form across two seasons at Toronto. He scored 22 goals in 33 games last term and has started the new campaign in equally blistering fashion, with eight goals in 12. His goals have enthralled audiences. But Conte chose to overlook the pair.

Those calling for Giovinco’s inclusion wondered how his goals could be overlooked, especially since Ciro Immobile and Eder haven’t set Serie A alight. There was a big problem for Conte, which put simply is the competition. MLS is not up to the standard of Serie A, nor what the Azzurri will face when they go to France.

Speaking last week, Pirlo remained hopeful of his inclusion, but knew he faced difficulties. “When someone makes the decision to come to the USA, he knows what he’s getting into.”

The boss knows both players from their time at Juventus. But he couldn’t look back at that. Pirlo has struggled this term and Conte cannot continue to rely on the veteran. Giovinco only began to shine when he moved to Canada. Before that his record in Turin was average at best, so too with the national team. He also showed little in the Champions League.

The selected Azzurri strikers have struggled for goals, but Giovinco – with one in 23 appearances – isn’t exactly a tonic. Not facing a high level of competition for 18 months was too big a risk for Conte. Instead, he has called Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Insigne to offer the creativity needed in attack.

It looks like an uphill climb for Italy this June. They will not be one of the favourites in France and the midfield injuries have only compounded that. However, selecting the MLS pair would not have solved the dilemma.

Howard set to return even as Everton swansong starts

howard hand efl

Tim Howard’s career at Everton appears to be winding down and yet Roberto Martinez is almost certain to return the United States international to the starting XI on Saturday, when the Toffees host West Brom.

That’s despite Howard’s replacement, Joel Robles, having kept three clean sheets in a row as Everton recorded 3-0 wins over Carlisle United, Newcastle United and Stoke City. The standard of opposition might not have been the highest – a League One side in the FA Cup, Premier League strugglers the Magpies and the out-of-form Potters – but the fact remains, Everton’s defensive record in the games Howard has missed has been exemplary.

Howard has been strongly linked with a return to his homeland for some time, and rumours persist that he’ll be a Colorado Rapids player by the time Everton begin next season. He’s been a fine servant to Everton since a 2007 move from Manchester United but the last 18 months or so have been diminishing returns. Martinez insists on his team playing out from the back and goalkeepers willing and able to take possession from his defence, neither of which suit the 36-year-old’s game.

The veteran has strong reflexes when called upon to make saves but distribution is a problem, and there is an audible in-take of breath at Goodison Park when the ball is played back to him under pressure. More than once Howard has turned over the ball in a dangerous area, or played his defence into trouble by off-loading the ball in a position far from advantageous. It’s a symptom of the style Martinez wants, but it’s part of why Everton are mid-table with more than half the season gone.

Decision making is the other aspect of Howard’s game that has Evertonians on edge. It’s a lottery as to when he comes for the ball and when he doesn’t, and what he does if he gets there – and it’s a big if. Ironic cheers have been heard when Howard successfully completes a catch, not pleasant for a home goalkeeper but regular visitors to Goodison have been left wondering what Howard has to do to be dropped.

In the end it was a knee injury that gave Joel an extended run in the team but Howard seems likely to return at the first opportunity. The same thing happened almost exactly a year ago, when a Howard injury saw his Spanish colleague get a few consecutive games to find his feet, and he impressed.

But then it was back to the bench for the former Wigan and Atletico Madrid shot-stopper. He’s much younger than Howard – 26 this summer – and seems happy to bide his time. But the Everton supporters are far less patient, some even counting the days until Howard is in MLS.