What is next for the special one, Jose Mourinho?

Bayern+Muenchen+v+Inter+Milan+UEFA+Champions+GYraQvQzd24x(1)

The only news that has engulfed the world of football in the last 24 hours has been the sacking of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. United was supposed to be the dream move for the special one, one that would be filled with trophies, he did win 3 in the end but again just like at Chelsea his relationship with the players broke down and tactics went out the window.

Now Mourinho will be looking for a new job, and whilst major teams might initially hold back given that Mourinho doesn’t seem to be as special as once before we also have to remember that he has won 25 trophies in his career. With the major clubs that he has managed he has never dipped below a 54% win rate and so with this in mind he might just land another very big job, but where? Let’s look at the options.

Real Madrid:

Mourinho landed a few trophies here in his first spell including the league and started to reverse the impact that Barcelona had over Madrid. But his last season ended fruitless and he didn’t leave in the way he would have liked. Most fans of the club don’t want him back, but some of the long standing ones do. Sergio Ramos who voices the dressing room clearly doesn’t want to work with Mourinho again and that could be a sticking point. At the same time Florentino Perez the president of the club does admire him.

Right now Madrid are having a poor season by their standards and it is clear that Santiago Solari isn’t going to cut it long term at the club. Real Madrid could be an option.

Chelsea:

This seems very unlikely given that Maurizio Sarri has started well with the club and all of the other problems the club had with Mourinho near the end don’t make it worth it to pursue this idea. Sure there is some genuine romanticism going on here but a 3rd spell, really? Sarri seems here for at least another 2-3 years so this doesn’t look good for Mourinho, plus maybe he has had enough of the Premier League now.

Bayern Munich:

Just like Real Madrid, Bayern are having a strange season and Nico Kovac has not exactly kept the traditions of the powerhouse team. Kovac’s job is under threat and having Mourinho at the club could make sense. But Mourinho would demand a bigger budget than Bayern usually spend and that could be a sticking point. The other is, could these two entity’s really, truly get along?

PSG:

For Mourinho surely this would be a match made in heaven given that he would have a big transfer budget, and PSG are basically guaranteed trophies in the French league. However current coach Thomas Tuchel is doing a fantastic job. Even if PSG exit the Champions League surely he will be given another season at least. Tuchel has made a positive impact on the Paris club and this move at least now seems very unlikely.

Inter Milan:

Why not a return to the team that gave Mourinho his real legendary status? Plus the fans absolutely love him, even if the press don’t. Mourinho could play his way and not get criticised. And it would be a healthy challenge to break the dominance of Juventus. If Mourinho could get his players on his side this could be a very interesting project to consider.

Another option of course would be to go to China, who would snap up Mourinho like gold dust and make him an offer that would dwarf his reported £15m pay off from United. But why go now when Mourinho is still at an age where he can coach the very best teams. Knowing how Mourinho works this would be bad timing, and doesn’t look like a viable option. The choice looks either to coach Bayern Munich or Inter Milan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Real Madrid to Manchester City who will win the Champions League?

Report-Champions-League-draw-LIVE-Man-Utd-Man-City-Liverpool-and-Tottenham-learn-last-16-fate-Football-Sport(1)

The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League, Europe’s premier competition has been made this week and this has given us a clearer view of the teams who should be advancing further into the competition and aiming to be crowned the first champions not to be Real Madrid since 2015. Below we will take a look at the match ups.

Schalke v Manchester City

Let’s be honest Schalke will be the clear underdogs to advance to the last 8 in this match up. They finished 2nd to Porto in their group and were beating by them 3-1 in their only defeat of the group stages. They will need a positive result at home with the 2nd leg being away. Manchester City started slow in the groups and couldn’t beat Lyon in two attempts but everything is clicking for the Premier League champions who finished 1st in their group.

Prediction: Manchester City to win.

Atletico Madrid v Juventus

Juventus one of the early Champions League favourites have been handed a very difficult tie in the last 16. Atletico will be a very tough opponent and Juventus will have to have the luck not to have key players out. Expect a low scoring and physical game. Winning the Champions League has become the old lady’s priority though and they should just have enough to get through this huge test.

Prediction: Juventus to win.

Manchester United v PSG

Everyone has been quick to write off Manchester United but that was when Jose Mourinho was in charge. Since his sacking the team will have a fresh perspective and will be relaxed for this game. At their best United can give PSG a good game. Still if Neymar and Kylian Mbappe can keep up their good form, PSG will be expected to get through these games which could see many goals scored, in two exciting matches.

Prediction: PSG to win.

Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund

Tottenham have not performed as well as they would like in the Champions League compared to the Premier League. These games will be of two different stories, where Spurs can win their home game. But the atmosphere in Germany is set to be too much and too rich for this team, and Dortmund who have been brilliant, resilient and strong this season will be very difficult to beat.

Prediction: Borussia Dortmund to win

Lyon v Barcelona

You never quite know what to expect from Lyon and if they were to win this first leg nobody should be too surprised. But Barcelona have too much quality for the French team, who are not even at their best like a decade ago. Barcelona can score many goals in these two matches which will be open and attacking, and Barca will use their home advantage in the 2nd leg to drive their point home.

Prediction: Barcelona to win

Roma v Porto

This is a really even tie where both teams will fancy their chances of progression. Porto will remain the favourites as they have become very difficult to beat at home, but do not look the best on the road. In a very close game we expect Porto to just make it through.

Prediction: Porto to win

Ajax v Real Madrid

Could there be a shock on the cards? Will Real Madrid exit the Champions League for the first time in 3 years without winning it. We think there could be a shock here. Ajax have their best team since they last won the competition in 1995 and it should be noted that they didn’t lose a game in their group, even though they had to play Bayern Munich. We usually get some shocks in the competition and this could be one. Real Madrid have been very average since the departures of both Zinedine Zidane as coach and the great Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.

Prediction: Ajax to win

Liverpool v Bayern Munich

Had this game taken place two years ago we could say Bayern Munich all the way, but Liverpool have the tools to win this game. They are incredibly difficult to beat at home and this side can also score goals away in the very big games when it really matters. Plus they have a German Jurgen Klopp as manager who knows Bayern inside out. Bayern have been poor for their standards in the Bundesliga this season, and this will be a very difficult game for them.

Prediction: Liverpool to win

 

 

 

Can PSG go the whole season in Ligue 1 unbeaten?

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (1) (1) (1) (1)

More or less PSG have been absolutely dominant in the French Ligue 1 since 2012 and their massive takeover which has seen the club win 6 out of the last 7 titles in France. Millions have been spent on some of the greatest players to have graced the game in recent years. The likes of Zlatan Ibramhimovic, Neymar, Edinson Cavani and a new starlet in Kylian Mbappe have passed through their doors.

However it is this season that just feels different under new coach Thomas Tuchel. The reason is evident when you glance at the league tables. Yes it is no surprise to see PSG in 1st position, but they have played 14 games so far and won 14. It’s like a PlayStation game that went very wrong in a kind of excellent way. 42 points means that their nearest challengers Lyon are 15 points behind and the league in effect looks over before December.

We should also be reminded that their nearest rival Lyon were soundly beaten 5-0 last month by the Parisians. They are just that good that no team in France seems to be able to touch them. And yet of course in previous seasons it felt the same way until they would lose a surprise game away from home. This past weekend that almost happened. Not so much that the team would lose but even drop their 100% win rate. The team was Toulouse and with an important Champions League game coming up against Liverpool, both Mbappe and Neymar did not play and PSG edged to a 1-0 nervous victory.

PSG certainly have it within them to not only go unbeaten the whole season but to win every game, it would be a massive achievement even if some critics would point and suggest that the French league is not strong. Well tell that to Premier League champions Manchester City who in 2 games against Lyon both home and away failed to beat the team and conceded 4 goals along the way.

Ligue 1 is not the strongest league in Europe of course but it is far from weak, all it is missing is some wealthy owners to give PSG a run for their money (pardon the pun).

PSG’s real tests will come as the season progresses. How will they react if they are knocked out of a cup competition, especially the Champions League? The league is theirs that is basically assured now, but it is a question of how long they can continue their dominance this season which is most fascinating. Europe will be looking on in anticipation that is for sure.

Patrick Vieira is creating small miracles at Nice in Ligue 1

zzzzzz (1)

His time as coach of Nice started off bumpy, awkward even that included losses, draws and a lack of back bone within the side. Patrick Vieira’s time looked up even after just a month, as another 1990s generation player that got found out when it came to stepping up as manager.

But Vieira has worked hard and worked his mentality and theory into his group of players. He even has Mario Balotelli playing well and the two of them have respect for one another and get along fine. More than that Nice are winning games and have headed up the table. Their objective this season was to do well enough to stay in the league. Now their objective will be to finish in a European spot and who would think that wouldn’t happen?

The club currently sit in 7th place and have won 4 games in a row. On form they would be in 3rd place in the league- that is astonishing when you think Vieira still has limited first time management experience and at this point the capture of the former French and Arsenal midfield legend looks like a good call from Nice.

Nice’s most recent victory raised eyebrows as it came against Lille who have been superb this season but Nice ran out 2-0 solid and deserved winners. Vieira said: ”I’m satisfied with the score and the way we played. Against a very good Lille side, we managed to play the perfect home game. Even if they had chances in the first half, we didn’t really suffer in the second half. The team is more solid than at the start of the season and the players played for each other. Mario Balotelli and Allan Saint-Maximin put in a huge amount of work defensively and that’s why I took them off.”

Vieira mentioned the word perfect and that is what Nice have been in the past four weekends. Next they will face Guingamp in a game they will be expected to win again.

For Vieira being black and being in management is one thing. Sadly the story in 2018 is that black managers are grossly under represented at this level. The good news is that Vieira is proving his worth and hopefully more ex black players who decide to get into management will have the opportunities that Vieira has. Right now he is flying the flag high just as high as his Nice team.

Why Thierry Henry will fail at Monaco and could be gone by Christmas

zzz (2)

Thierry Henry has had a miserable start to life as coach of Monaco after no wins in his first six games in charge. It wasn’t supposed to be like this and the script was supposed to be written a little better for the French footballing legend, but that isn’t the case and it seems clear why Henry’s time at Monaco is already numbered.

Let’s be clear of course and first focus on why Henry is up against it. And that is easy to answer given the quality that has been sold from Monaco in the past few seasons. That is why the club were in the bottom three when Henry joined and former coach Leonardo Jardim was sacked, even though he won the title in 2017 and broke the PSG stranglehold on Ligue 1.

But the main reason Henry is in trouble is because he is a great player. In his playing days at Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal and Barcelona we remember a player that attacked and scored many fantastic goals. Especially at Arsenal and Barcelona he was encouraged to play beautiful free flowing, quick paced attacking football. And that is his downfall as a coach, because he wants the same from Monaco. With the squad gutted though this is impossible this season, what could have been possible two years ago where indeed Monaco were scoring for fun.

Henry needs to work on defence if Monaco are going to stay in Ligue 1 and if he is going to keep his job. Truth is though is that it isn’t in Henry’s DNA to concentrate fully on this department, after all he was a natural attacking player who was then turned into a deadly striker by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

It seems that Monaco’s nightmare under Henry will be set to continue because he will have the belief that this team can fight their way out of trouble- which simply isn’t true and they will more than likely continue to leak goals. They have conceded 8 goals in their last 2 games without reply, and both were at home.

Their next game is away against Caen in Ligue 1, a tricky side and a tough task. But then it doesn’t get any easier for Henry as his side will travel afterwards to Spain to play Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. With the likes of having to play Borussia Dortmund, Lyon and a derby in December against Nice, Monaco surely look doomed. It may not even be a case of Henry being sacked but of him simply leaving. Henry simply wasn’t ready for such a job that was laced in nostalgia. Recovery at this point would be the greatest achievement of Henry’s career.

Liverpool or PSG set to be knocked out of Champions League at the group stage

AAA (1)

Liverpool and PSG were amongst the favourites to win this seasons Champions League but it looks more and more like one of them will not even qualify for the knock out rounds after a topsy turvy group stage.

When the two European giants were announced to be in the same group, there was obvious excitement but most pundits believed they would get through in a group also containing Italians Napoli and Red Star. But some surprise results have left that chance really open ended with just 2 games left to play each for the super clubs.

Liverpool who got to the final last season have already lost 2 of their 4 games. These defeats both came away from home against Napoli and then this week to Red Star in a 2-0 loss. However for now they are still in 2nd place on 6 points.

As for PSG they started their campaign off with a loss away to Liverpool which ended 3-2 and then they drew two times against Napoli but slaughtered Red Star at home, they are, at this moment going into the Europa League with 5 points so far.

Napoli have been the real surprise and the problem for Liverpool and PSG. But Napoli who are in 1st place are not safe yet as they have drawn 3 of their 4 games but they do remain unbeaten. So the key to qualification will be in the next two matchday fixtures.

Napoli will play Red Star at home and given how poor they have been on the road we would expect a win for the Italians. But then they have to play Liverpool away and what would be a packed out and atmospheric Anfield and that could well end in a loss, so Napoli has the chance to finish with 9 points.

Liverpool have a massive crunch test with PSG in Paris on November 28th and it will in effect feel like a knockout game. All eyes will be on this match, let’s be conservative and say this game ends in a draw. It would mean that even if PSG beat Red Star away from home as long as Liverpool win they would go through. The key game seems to be Napoli’s match against Red Star, win that and one of Liverpool or PSG are going to go out. It would be a massive blow for either club.

Arguably one could say the blow is bigger for PSG given the new coach in Thomas Tuchel and the fact they have Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in order to win the competition. By the end of this month we should know which one of these teams will be playing Europa League football next year.

Emery keen to banish the last vestiges of Wenger’s regime

Screen Shot 2018-10-05 at 19.17.11

After what appeared to be years of moaning, Arsenal’s long-suffering support finally got their wish.

After 22 years of innovation, change and bringing the Gunners kicking and screaming into the modern era, Arsene Wenger was gone.

What, in the end, was a blind belief in a certain way of working, had become stale as a new, younger and more dynamic breed of coach eased their way into the Premier League. Continue reading

Outstanding Lille setting bar high in Ligue 1

aaaaaa (1)

After 10 games Lille are still there. There means 2nd place in Ligue 1 which is de facto for 1st place because no one will be catching PSG this season. The current French champions have 30 points from 10 games, a 100% record that was underlined at the weekend with another devastating win, this time against Amiens in Paris which ended 5-0. Job done.

As for Lille, no one could have expected such a start from a team who have traditionally struggled in recent seasons showing only glimpses of what they can achieve. This season is very different.  It was only in May that Lille pulled off a fantastic escape from the relegation zone, and the club have worked hard all summer in changing the set up of what is now expected.

Coach Christophe Gautier has come into the team last December and had a mountain to climb, but with survival came some new recruits in the summer and also the real emergence of Nicolas Pepe who is growing into one of the better players in Ligue 1. It was his goal- albiet a penalty that helped Lille win their latest game. The club have acquired 22 points from 10 games, continue at that rate and they will come 2nd and could get 80 points.

Clearly the objective at the beginning of the season for Lille was to finish in the top half- this is an objective that is being easily met, but now the team and their coach and fans must be thinking to take things a little further and finish in a European place, if that ends up being for the Champions League then Gautier would have made a miraculous turnaround.

Whilst Lille are 8 points behind PSG, they can marvel at the fact that they are 3 points in front of Marseille and 5 points in front of Lyon. Monaco who are usually a threat can be discounted this season after their nightmare start has led them into 19th position and they are a whopping 16 points behind Lille. It will be fascinating if Lille can keep up their superb start to the season.

The club have lost just 2 games so far and have won 3 games in a row, at home they alongside PSG have a perfect record of played 5 games won 5, and Lille certainly mean serious business.

On November 2nd just how far Lille have come will be put to the ultimate test when they will travel to Paris to face PSG. By that time if both teams continue to win, the gap could be 11 points in PSG’s favour or just 5. For Lille’s Ligue 1 achievements this season, watch this space.

PSG fans will again be banned from Marseille clash in a sad day for football

aaaaa (1)

Next week Marseille will play PSG in what could arguably be the game of the season so far in Ligue 1. However the atmosphere of the game will be dampened somewhat because all PSG fans will be banned from the Stade Velodrome.

Local police have confirmed that no PSG fans will be allowed into the stadium because other events in and around the city will have the police force stretched. On the face of it that statement makes sense, but for a few seasons now fans have been banned. Whilst PSG fans cannot visit Marseille, it is the same situation in Paris where Marseille fans are also banned.

Police will know in advance that some violence is very much possible between a minority set of fans, which of course is the real reason that away fans will be banned from next weekend’s fixture. What isn’t being thought out or clarified is a way to change the hooliganism in France.

For a great example could you expect to see Arsenal fans banned from visiting Old Trafford, or Chelsea fans banned from visiting Manchester City? In the 1970s and 80s in England this wouldn’t have been a surprise to see, although even then this rule was rarely put into place, but this is 2018 and France a nation that has won this years World Cup seem decades behind when it comes to the organisation of fans for the big football matches. Hooliganism is almost non existent in the Premier League and in France it is getting better, but sadly and most evidently it is still there.

This will be the 3rd season where PSG fans have been banned from travelling to Marseille for the match. Whilst on a human form something needs to change, the reputation of some fans will also damage TV viewing and marketing. Just look to Serie A for evidence, a league that was light years ahead in the 1990s has fallen greatly due to hooligans, in club fighting, match fixing and ultra fans, it can all be linked and this latest news is no good for Ligue 1.

Something needs to change from the top and fans need to be educated enough not to cross the line. For now it is evident beyond recognition that even if there is a beer festival in Marseille and some other events the real nature of the ban is stop the violence, it seems sadly that the local police had no other choice.

 

 

 

Thierry Henry is facing his biggest challenge ever in football with Monaco

aaaaa

As a player Thierry Henry only encountered success, and won trophies in all of the clubs he has played for. Indeed in Henry’s 19 year career as a football player he picked up 15 trophies and won the World Cup and European Championship with France. Henry’s incredible career has provided stints at Arsenal, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls and he started his career at Monaco, so the Frenchman really has come full circle, now being coach at Monaco.

The only problem is that Monaco are not at their strongest after years of seeing their best players being sold for millions of euros. Former manager Leonardo Jardim was given his marching orders to make way for Henry and yet this past weekend Monaco continued their trend of losing. This time it happened away against Strasbourg when he saw his team outbattled and out thought in a 2-1 loss. The final score only glossed over events as the home side were leading 2-0 until Monaco were awarded a last minute penalty.

Henry has a massive challenge on his hands because it’s quite evident that Monaco have sold off so much quality that there isn’t much left. Yes Radamel Falcao is a decent forward, but this isn’t 2011 when he was a great centre forward. His move from Ligue 1 to the Premier League was ill fated and he has never been the same player since.

Having said that Monaco do not look poor enough to be relegated, so it is strange to see that the club are in 19th place and 24 points behind leaders PSG but those are the facts. Henry has his biggest challenge in football to turn it around and it will be fascinating to see if he can do it. One could, with all validity wonder why Jardim was sacked in favour of Henry who has no coaching experience apart from his assistant spell with the Belgium national team, but no club coaching experience. Can Henry based on the fact he is returning to his first club do a better job than Jardim?

It probably doesn’t matter in the long run for him, as Monaco will simply be a stepping stone to getting a job either at PSG, which is the only other club that can keep him in France or maybe moving to Serie A or the Premier League. Though it should be noted both leagues are poor for representing black managers.

Monaco’s next games are against Club Brugge in the Champions League- ironically it’s back to Belgium for Henry in a must win game. After that they will play Dijon in what will be Henry’s first home game as manager, one he will be expected to win.