Wayne Rooney and Marc Overmars both need reality checks after recent comments

Wayne Rooney and Marc Overmars are two superb players, one in Rooney is still playing football now with Derby after a glittering club career mostly with Manchester United. Dutchman Overmars lit up football in the 1990s and early 2000s with Ajax and then in the Premier League with Arsenal and will surely go down as one of the best foreign players to play in the league. However both have really put their foot in it these past few days.

The Convid-19 virus has gripped the world and this has trickled down to football leading some to make some bizarre comments. Rooney was talking about how he felt it was unfair that every footballer is being asked to give up 30% of his salary. He admitted that he could take the hit and then spoke about a young player he plays with at Derby.

The player he says lives on a council estate with his family and earns £2,000 a week, so he would have to give up £600 or £2,400 a month. Forgetting that he would still be bringing in £5,600 a month. There is a complete disconnection with society when Rooney seemingly cannot understand that earning over £5k a month is more than a great wage. Also said player would only be giving up some of his salary for 2-3 months. It is affordable and that is the bottom line.

It is worrying that Rooney would come out with such a statement when many up and down the country living in council homes struggle to find a quarter of the monthly wage that he is talking about, and it makes no sense. If Rooney is that concerned that the player and his family will start to struggle on £5k a month maybe he should be contributing himself?

Another player that made a faux pas this week was Marc Overmars. The technical director of Ajax has called for the Dutch league to end and use the current placings. That would, surprise surprise mean that Ajax would be champions.

There are still 9 games to be played in the league and Ajax have 56 points, however AZ Alkmaar also have 56 points and in 3rd place is Feyenoord with 50. If Ajax were 2nd would Overmars really be calling for the season to be cut short?

Of course it could play out that some European leagues will want the season finished given that Belgium have taken that route. However the main difference there was that Club Brugge could not be caught in 1st place and other positions had been decided and they only had 1 game of the regular season left to play anyway. In other leagues that simply isn’t the case with so much still to play for.

Overmars has shown what appears to be an arrogance, yes he is right many are dying and that football is not important when the virus is here. But to suggest that the league should be shut down with so many games still left to play just feels premature. If the virus situation follows Wuhan where the virus begun it might be possible to bring back football by June. If not then it won’t be possible, but with the Euro’s now postponed until 2021 there is still plenty of time for football to come back.

The Dutch league may well not resume this season, but Overmars seems to have jumped the gun by 4 months in suggesting it should end.

Revealed: The Likely date that the Premier League will return on

The Coronavirus has turned the world upside down with many lockdowns all over the world as people are hit the hardest, and are not quite sure what the immediate future holds. For football fans the lockdown has seemed strange, we aren’t used to have no football. Even when the season ends, pre-season friendlies and tournaments or major summer competitions take the place. Literally we have football 365 days a year.

Obviously lives and the safety of people matter more than sport, but there will always be the burning question for sports fans and football ones, when will it all return?

Whilst we can’t 100% tell the future we can certainly look at countries that were hit with the virus before England and take from this an example. The virus started in Wuhan, China and it isn’t important when the first cases were recorded which is believed to have been as early as December, but when the area went into lockdown. The lockdown happened on January 23rd and naturally everything was cancelled and the lockdown went on for 2 months.

In England the lockdown happened roughly two months after Wuhan with the natural delay. The UK government said that they believe the lockdown should be applied for at least two months last week,and that would be in line with Wuhan who are just about getting back to having a normal way of life.

If we take into account the 2 months that would mean that the lockdown in England should be lifted around May 25th. There will have to be an easing period, but we could expect traffic flowing again and people returning to work within 10 days to 2 weeks of the lockdown being lifted. As for football the country’s far and away biggest sport we can expect at least another week on top of the lockdown being lifted.

With that being said the Premier League could well return to action on June 13th which is a Saturday. Of course there would still need to be caution and we could expect at least the first three games to be played behind closed doors. In that time Liverpool could well win the league, and the sad reality is that they could do so with no fans.

As for finishing the season, there was two months left, but with some games being played in midweek it would be possible, one would think, to have the season finished by the beginning of August. The next season would then only have to be delayed by a month and could start in mid September, possibly after the first round of Champions Leagues are played.

Of course many talks will have to take place, namely for players’ contracts so many are on course to expire on June 30th, and that would all have to be agreed. Getting players back out on the pitch too will be needed but one would expect that the virus will not be a threat by then.

It’s an interesting idea, but with thought having the league returning in mid June could well happen, just looking at how the world has been dealing with the virus.

Let’s hope the virus can be vanquished quickly and we can return to normality and start watching our favourite sports once more.

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Liverpool aren’t the only losers if Premier League is null and void- spare a thought for Leicester

One would have thought that we had stepped into another dimension trying to confirm that in 2016 Leicester had actually won the Premier League, but win it they did. That isn’t to take anything away from Claudio Ranieri’s team, it was fully deserved but still even in March of that season Leicester had their doubters that they would actually push on and win it.

It was a magnificent victory from a team that had started at odds of 5000/1 to win the league title at the beginning of the season. Indeed because of them and the fact that some bookmakers were stung by that price, teams of equal standing are now quoted to win the league at around 1000/1 when a new one kicks off.

Leicester had reached their Everest and it was at this point that we could fully accept their achievements. The next part of the script was to see the fall of the team. After all surely they couldn’t hang on to the players that won them the league, maybe the manager would leave too, and what Leicester fan would mind, they achieved the unthinkable just be glad you witnessed it.

What followed over the years didn’t quite run out like that. Sure the club lost quality in the likes of N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez both going to former champions Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, indeed Mahrez would win another league with City. In the end Ranieri didn’t leave, instead with unrealistic expectations to do well in the following season he was sacked. Although it was clear that the Italian had maybe lost focus, he was being asked to try and win another lottery after just doing so, perhaps the full motivation wasn’t there.

Anyhow Leicester were supposed to just become a staple Premier League team, maybe finishing in the top 10 from time to time. But this season has been a revelation for them and it all started at the back end of last season when Brendan Rodgers left Celtic to join up with them. Leicester finished the season strong, maybe that meant they could start this season in similar fashion?

The team went for it and challenged both Liverpool and Manchester City, easily the two best teams in the league. For a time being 3rd wasn’t good enough and they passed champions City despite Liverpool being so far out in front in the lead. The season has caught up with them, and they have lost some games but with 10 games to go they are in 3rd place.

8 points separates them from 5th and they are well on course to qualify for the Champions League, though Chelsea in 4th and Manchester United in 5th have been eating into their lead. Still one couldn’t see the Foxes giving up a Champions League place at this stage. Now playing in the Champions League when they won the league was as ever expected and they did well in their debut time there reaching the knock out stages before narrowly exiting to Atletico Madrid by the odd goal.

But there seems something more fulfilling to return to the Champions League through sheer Premier League consistency. It would also say a lot about Rodgers- maybe some thought the ex Liverpool manager was spent after deciding to manage Celtic in the Scottish Premier League. But Rodgers has made a huge statement with Leicester. It is sure that his future lies away from the King Power Stadium and his achievements should land him a big job.

However despite all of the hard work, Leicester could miss out on playing in the Champions League if the league is declared null and void. That would mean that this league didn’t in fact happen. So no Champions League qualifiers needed because we would just use the four teams that qualified from last season, a reset button if you like.

Now we can have sympathy if this happens to Liverpool who have in theory won the league and could miss out. The big difference though is that we know Liverpool will bounce back, that remains uncertain that Leicester will, and playing in the Champions League for next season could have been their last in some time, who knows?

But it is important to remember that if the league is null and void it isn’t just Liverpool missing out, Leicester’s hearts would surely be broken too.

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Jack Grealish has the talent but needs to act like a professional

Aston Villa’s highly talented player Jack Grealish was in the media for all the wrong reasons recently. With no football being played it couldn’t be because he had a disaster of game. Instead it appeared that the player broke the law during the Convid-19 outbreak to allegedly see a friend.

But it gets worse for Grealish. The next day he was spotted in a car accident, thankfully no one was hurt but he reportedly crashed into two parked cars and iron railings. This spelled PR disaster for the player who has spent a chunk of time trying to clean up his career and trying to get into England manager Gareth Southgate’s good books.

On top of this just a few days prior Grealish appealed via video for football fans to stay safe and stay at home, underlining that he may well just be the biggest sporting hypocrite of the year so far.

Grealish has had history of going down the wrong road in the past but to be fair to him and has pretty much kept out of trouble for the past five years. But he wouldn’t have been the first Englishman to possess so much talent and natural ability but then be undone by his actions.

In a sense the incident won’t affect his season given the suspension of football because of the virus, but one has to wonder if Aston Villa manager Dean Smith will give out a fine as he can hardly suspend the player.

Of course more has to be known of the incident before we can 100% judge but it doesn’t look good for Grealish even being out in public and damaging his car when 24 hours beforehand he was asking fans to stay in.

Former football players Darren Bent and Danny Murphy have spoken out against Grealish and this story could run and run.

Grealish had been given the captain’s armband by Smith and that seemed to flick a switch in the player who had really turned it for Villa being a key player in helping the team gain promotion to the Premier League. Whilst the side have since struggled in the league Grealish has still put in some very impressive performances.

He will now want to have a very quite month or so and hope to get back to playing football. Also with Euro 2020 now delayed until 2021 he will have the chance to try and dig deep and have a good season next and try to make Southgate’s team. That’s a long way off and if the decision was having to be made today, he would most likely struggle.

Grealish is still learning that even at 24 you just can’t act like he has been doing if you are looked up to and a professional footballer. Will he learn from this latest setback?

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Five greatest football clubs of the past decade starting 2010

As football understandably lays low for a while let’s take a look at the most successful club sides in Europe’s top leagues over the past decade.

There are different ways of doing so, points gained for example in a league, trophies won, games won, etc. This list will look at the trophies won for the most successful teams starting from 2009/10 season until the 2018/19 season, to determine which team has been the most successful.

You may have a few contenders but may also be surprised by some teams on the list, so is the club you think is the best the number 1 on this list?

Points system: Champions League = 12pts, League title = 10pts, Europa League = 8pts, Cups= 5pts, all other cups =2pts

5th: Juventus 112 pts

After being forcefully relegated in 2006, Juventus have made up for that during the past decade in Serie A winning 8 league titles in what could be described as a total domination. They have added some domestic cups too but they have failed to win the big prize in the shape of the Champions League since 1996. They will be hedging their bets that Ronaldo can finally deliver that missing piece of silverware. Still they are far and away the most successful team in Italy. Even though Inter Milan were the only Italian team to win the Champions League in the 2010s, Inter only finished our ranking with 30 points!

4th: Real Madrid 116 pts

Real Madrid were amazing in the 2010s which included winning an incredible 4 Champions League and winning 3 of those in a row. That had not been achieved since Bayern Munich in the 70s! So it was odd that Madrid sit only in 4th place and only four points above Juventus. The reason is that for all of their European glory they haven’t actuallly won many domestic trophies in the 2010s. True they still scooped up two league titles, but for their standards you take out what they achieved in Europe and you almost get the feeling of could have done better.

3rd: PSG 121 pts

Despite PSG having no wins in Europe they have dominated Ligue 1 in France winning every title since 2012 except one where Monaco surprised them. They have won countless domestic cups after they were bought in the earlier part of the decade and have dominated the league ever since. They also have an abundance of very good players who are genuinely eyeing winning this years Champions League.

2nd: Bayern Munich 140 pts

Bayern did reach 2 Champions League finals and after losing on penalties, at home to Chelsea they made up for it the year after. They have dominated the league title in Germany winning every year except one and scooped up a few domestic cups also. For a club their size they would like to add more European trophies of course but Bayern still come out as the 2nd most successful club in European football of the past decade despite this.

1st: Barcelona 150 pts

Barcelona may have played second fiddle to their rivals Real Madrid in Europe in the 2010s. But they still won 2 Champions Leagues. They also have won 7 La Liga titles which is impressive given how they have had to fend off not just Real but also Atletico Madrid who enjoyed one of their most successful decades in the history of the club. Barca fronted by Lionel Messi one of the greats of the game have been the best team in Europe trophy wise finishing with over double the points of the most successful English team which goes to Manchester City.

Notable mentions: Manchester City 71 pts, Chelsea 68, Manchester United 51, Atletico Madrid 42, Inter Milan 30.

 

 

 

Should the Premier League really restart on April 30th?

Let’s face it we all miss football and it would be great to get back to some normality and have ‘our’ weekends back again. But in the light of the terrible Coronavirus we seem some time away from that.

People’s jobs and livelihoods are at stake and of course so many people have already died of the virus that talking about wanting football back seems very superficial. But as humans have done for literally millions of years of disasters and destruction and acts of God so to speak, we have gotten through it, and folks the show must goes on.

That is essentially what the English FA said when they held an emergency meeting a few days ago. According to them the league must go on, and importantly teams want to go on and finish the season. That sounds like great news if it didn’t feel the world was coming to an end.

When people’s jobs are at risk and small businesses are closing, and many cities throughout the world are on a standstill it feels bizarre to think that the FA believe that the situation will be so much better in five weeks that we will be able to restart the Premier League once more, scheduled for April 30th.

If the situation hasn’t changed then football will surely be making a mockery of the public efforts and the brave nurses and doctors and in England the brilliant NHS staff who have done an outstanding job. Some have come out of retirement to help, and that should be applauded the country over.

This isn’t a piece saying that the league should be null and void, but it is questioning the time frame of the FA’s decision. With no summer tournaments now the league could run right through past the summer, although UEFA would have to relax different players contracts and the transfer window would have to open up later and finish later. In truth take out meaningless friendlies and internationals and a new league season could start as far back as October if need be.

Of course in five weeks the world could be a different place. The Coronavirus could have dissipated, and most things could have returned to normal. But the worry is that April is just over a week away and the news has not improved and the FA want players back in training at the beginning of April.

Of course games would be played behind closed doors. But you still need a staff of between 300-500 to make these games happen, and again if small clubs and pubs are being closed down, then football even behind closed doors needs to be too.

Maybe it comes down to this:Imagine we were in May and the season had ended, would the FA or anyone else be talking about bringing football back? All summer friendlies and pre- tournaments would be cancelled no question. So it seems like football is returning because of the money being lost tied up to billionaire TV deals, and simply put that is not right and again is underlining all of the hard work and efforts being made by the general public.

We love football, and we want it back. But let’s remain sane about the situation, and not rush it back just yet.

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If Arsenal sell Aubameyang they could be in serious trouble

Recent reports have suggested that Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be sold in the summer, and this isn’t just fabricated given that the player is delaying signing a new contract.

Losing Aubameyang would be a huge blow to the Gunners. He has been the difference on so many occasions for the club. It has been an incredibly difficult season for Arsenal which has seen the club flirting with 10th position for long periods. However one has to wonder without his goals if Arsenal would be in the bottom half of the table?

In a difficult period for the club, which in truth has been for the last five years or so, Aubameyang is their one true stardust player, a striker that can make almost anything happen and does the most important of jobs, getting those goals. Of course he isn’t perfect and it is his huge missed chance that resulted in Arsenal being knocked out of the Europa League against Olympiacos a few weeks ago. But maybe the bigger picture shouldn’t just be highlighted on him and could be turned to the overall clubs performance in that 2nd leg.

In all competitions for Arsenal Aubameyang has scored 61 goals from 96 games which is a great return and he has scored 17 goals from 25 league games. Last season he was the joint top scorer in England with 22 goals. Arsenal have scored 40 goals in the league this season and Aubameyang has 17 and assisted in one other. That means he has been involved in 18 of their 40 goals which accounts for 45% of all of their league goals so far this season.

This is the reason that Arsenal losing the player will hurt them. Of course he is now 30 and it has been traditional for Arsenal in past seasons to give out only rolling contracts for players who are 30 or over. The problem with that is it is outdated. Players are fitter now and can last much longer. Aubameyang isn’t going to suddenly lose his quality and has at least four to five years still at the top.

However it may not boil down to Arsenal’s choice even if they do want to keep the player. At the end of the day he has kept delaying signing a contract and one can believe that the main reason is to see if the Gunners qualify for next seasons Champions League. The problem is that they are currently 3 wins from that and have too many teams between them and 4th.

The other problem is that Barcelona have come knocking. Currently they have had to panic buy through a shortage of strikers and bring in Martin Braithwaite. If they could get Aubameyang that would represent quite a capture. Though they don’t like Arsenal’s asking price of £50m, in this current climate and with the brilliant form that the player has been in that price looks like a steal.

Where ever Aubameyang ends up next season, sadly for Arsenal it doesn’t look like he will be playing with them and the club are going to have to have a very successful summer transfer window and bring in the right kind of players to feel this loss. Right now Aubameyang is keeping Arsenal afloat.

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After postponement of Euro 2020 & Copa America: Realistic options for European football

It was like the secret that every football fan knew in advance, that Euro 2020 and the Copa America would not be taking place this summer. It was announced and confirmed by UEFA on Tuesday morning and was obviously the right and correct decision.

With the two major tournaments being delayed a year until the summer of 2021 it frees up the summer for domestic seasons to continue. The hope of course is that the seasons will be able to continue. In the Premier League for example the FA have penciled in a return date of the first week of April. But that decision was made  a week ago.

The problem is that domestic sport returning that early seems like a far stretch with the world in chaos and uncertainly over the Coronavirus, which isn’t supposed to hit its peak according to scientists until the summer, possibly in June. Once it does then things are supposed to start returning to normal.

So the worry is can domestic seasons be finished this season? Of course that will be up to every different association and it wouldn’t be a surprise if, for example. Serie A is declared null and void this season, with Italy being hit the worst out of European countries. Spain has also taken a hit. It is less so in England, where the country continues to take a very different stance than its European counterparts by trying to continue to live day to day whilst other countries are on total lock down.

So when does the delay become a problem? Well there was 2 months of the season to finish and with no major tournaments now in the summer that means domestic football could, in theory, continue. The new season could also be delayed maximum to mid September and there would need to be at least a five week gap between the end of the season and the new one.

That would mean that this season would need to end by at least the beginning of August and start at the beginning of June. Of course football could be kicking off sometime in April and if that happens, then all is well with the world again, that is the hope. The biggest fear is that the virus drags on or even gets worse before it gets better. One would hope though that with almost a 3 month safety net all domestic leagues could continue again this summer.

These are very uncertain times, something that no new generation or the one before it has faced before, so nobody really knows what will happen, but for once UEFA has tried to help the situation and so has Conmebal to try and make the right decisions.

 

 

Could Liverpool really be denied the Premier League title over Coronavirus?

These are strange times we are living in, it almost feels like a science fiction movie, streets are emptying as are shops, and all of a sudden there is panic in places as the coronavirus hits. All of this has led to football being suspended in many countries including England and that could hit league leaders Liverpool hard.

In a season where no other club was going to catch them, Liverpool could be denied winning their first league title since 1990 by the virus instead. For now the league is taking a 2 week break but there are mutterings that it will need to take at least a 5 week break, and there are 10 games still to be played.

Karren Brady vice chairman of West Ham has come out and said that this season should be null and void, but is that a realistic option? On one hand she could have a point if the season can’t be finished and the cut off deadline would have to be sometime in July. On the other hand one has to wonder if she simply has her own club at heart who are just above the relegation zone. Whilst a null and void league would be a huge blow to Liverpool, it would also affect the teams in the Championship who have worked so hard to try and gain promotion, then again an act of God that no one could have predicted has intervened.

How realistic is it that after being by far the best team in the league and having an incredible 25 point lead that it could mean nothing? The good news for Liverpool is that UEFA are set to postpone the European championships until 2021, so that does free up the summer. With clubs mostly being able to play 2 games a week, there would then be plenty of time to finish the season, but of course that all depends on how long restrictions will apply for.

There have been suggestions in some countries that the peak of the virus could extend until June, and if the seasons resume say in the middle of June, that could be fine for the leagues to restart. Instead of having pointless pre- season tournaments we can get the league sorted out.

Anyone declaring a league season to be null and void really needs to check themselves because it feels like the people saying it are doing so through self interest. Would Brady be declaring such a statement if West Ham were top of the league?

It would surely be an odd moment in football if the league was voided and a huge twist and such a painful sucker punch for Liverpool. Let’s hope though that football and general life can get back on track as soon as possible.

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Facts are facts Manchester City have been poor this season

Manchester City lost to rivals Manchester United 2-0 yesterday in the infamous Manchester derby as they came up short once again this season.

For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the Manchester United manager has seen his side knocked out of the Carabao Cup against City, although they did win the second leg, but he has now done the league double over Pep Guardiola and the current champions.

For bragging rights between the two teams, that will reside in the red half of Manchester and whilst Solskjaer and United will be praised for their upturn in performance and form can the same be said for City?

City’s season really seemed to collapse around November when everyone was admitting and seeing that Liverpool were going to win the league, the Reds after the disappointment of last season had more hunger, passion and commitment, the gulf between them and any other club but including even City was huge, there was always going to be just one winner, and everyone knew it even if some tried to pretend that the title race was still on, it really wasn’t.

What came to light was quick and that was after conquering the league and winning it two times in a row Guardiola set in motion the objective for the team to win the Champions League, which would be the clubs first ever win, and with time running out on his contract Guardiola knows it could be this season or never. It’s why City went to the Bernabeu and put in such a professional performance to come out of the game leading 2-1 going into the 2nd leg at home. City had just beaten a team who had won the competition four times in the last decade including three in a row, this was a huge statement. Could you think of an equal huge statement City have made in the Premier League this season?

Liverpool have blown everyone away domestically and let’s not pretend that even if City were much stronger Liverpool would be winning the league. But seeing a gap of 25 points, which could be 22 if City win their game in hand is simply embarrassing. City as champions, with the money they have spent on players, their infrastructure and having one of the best managers in the world should not be almost a quarter of 100 points behind Liverpool, and we’re not even at the end of the season.

Of course City are in 2nd place where they will most likely finish and have just won the Carabao Cup, for almost any other team this is a huge success and would be amongst their best ever seasons. When you’re City winning the 2nd domestic cup and being so far behind in the league isn’t going to cut it, no matter how harsh that sounds, it simply isn’t.

City have gone backwards this season, and even if they won every game from now on they would finish with 87 points, last season it was 98 and the season before it was 100. Indeed City are on a par to finish with the same points as they did (78) in Guardiola’s first season with the club. This all confirms that the Citizens have gone 1 step forward this season but two back.

City have lost 7 games this season and that’s more than they lost in the previous two seasons combined. There is no question that this season up until now has been disappointing for the club. You can finish 2nd and lose, but this has been a major step down for them. It is obvious that only seeing the sight of the Champions League trophy gleaming back towards them when they lift it aloft will be the only redemption for the club this season.

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