English Football Transfer Wrap (Week 2)

Kevin Mirallas – Everton to Olympiakos (Loan)

Kevin Mirallas

Jamie Murphy – Brighton to Rangers (Loan)

Joe Lumley – QPR to Blackpool (Loan)

Jake Clark-Salter – Chelsea to Sunderland (Loan)

Charles Vernam – Derby County to Grimsby Town (Loan)

Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona (A$192 million)

Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ has been broken up after the Red’s accepted Barcelona’s offer for the Brazilian star. The A$192 million fee is the second largest fee paid for a player. Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre claimed Liverpool slashed their price for Coutinho, which has been poorly received by Liverpool fans, who were assured the club did all they could to keep hold onto the playmaker. The deal has been in the pipework’s since Barcelona sold Neymar to PSG in the summer transfer window. It will be interesting to see how Liverpool invests the money.

Barcelona new man Philippe Coutinho

Emilio Nsue – Birmingham City to APOEL Nicosia (Undisclosed/Market value: A$2.32 million)

Kieffer Moore – Ipswich Town to Barnsley (Undisclosed/Market value: A$309,000)

Jack Price – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Colorado Rapids (Undisclosed/Market value: A$1.03 million)

Jack Livesey – Partick Thistle to Burton Albion (Undisclosed)

Yosuke Ideguchi – Gamba Osaka to Leeds United (Undisclosed/Market value: A$1.52 million)

Yosuke Ideguchi – Leeds United to Cultural Leonesa (Loan)

Georges-Kevin N’Koudou – Tottenham to Burnley (Loan)

Elijah Adebayo – Fulham to Cheltenham Town (Loan)

Ben Pringle – Preston North End to Oldham Athletic (Loan)

Adam Armstrong – Newcastle United to Blackburn Rovers (Loan)

Ryan Leonard – Southend United to Sheffield United (Undisclosed/Market value: A$ 771,780)

Ryan Delaney – Burton Albion to Rochdale (Undisclosed/Market value: A$ 154,360)

Moritz Bauer – FK Rubin Kazan to Stoke (A$ 8.65 million)

Luke Hendrie – Burnley to Shrewsbury Town (Undisclosed/Market value: A$385,890)

James Wilson – Manchester United to Sheffield United (Loan)

It’s been a tough time for James Wilson. After recovering from an ACL injury, Wilson has had to shoulder the goal scoring burden for the relegation bound Manchester United under 23 side. Wilson began the season slowly but has recaptured his best form and scored seven goals in his final eight games. The striker will being hoping he can help Sheffield United claw there way back into the automatic promotion places in the Sky Bet Championship. The Blades won only one game in December and now sit sixth on the table.

James Wilson

Lee Evans – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Sheffield United (A$ 1.4 million)

Ryan Blair – Fulham to Falkirk (Loan)

Matty Virtue – Liverpool to Notts County (Loan)

Ivan Toney – Newcastle to Scunthorpe United (Loan)

Donovan Wilson – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Port Vale (Loan)

Laurens De Bock – Club Brugge to Leeds United (A$2.66 million)

Francis Coquelin – Arsenal to Valencia (A$21.86 million)

Coquelin has been much maligned during his time at Arsenal. But in his first press conference after departing Arsenal for Valencia, the defensive midfielder said the only reason he left the club was for the sake of his career. After returning from a loan spell at Charlton in 2014, Coquelin became an integral part of the Gunners midfield, playing his best football when partnered with Santi Cazorla. This season has been a struggle for the Frenchman, who only featured 13 times for the Gunners in all competitions. Coquelin departs after making 160 appearances for the Gunners.

Benjamin Whiteman – Sheffield United to Doncaster Rovers (Undisclosed/Market value: A$234,270)

Ryan Kent – Liverpool to Bristol City (Loan)

Isaac Buckley-Ricketts – Manchester City to Oxford United (Loan)

Harry Charsley – Everton to Bolton Wanderers (Loan)

Noor Husin – Crystal Palace to Notts County (Undisclosed)

Alex Pritchard – Norwich City to Huddersfield Town (A$19.30 million)

Former Tottenham academy product Alex Pritchard joined Huddersfield Town on a three and a half year deal. The attacking midfielder made nine appearances for Norwich this season, scoring one goal and creating two assist. Huddersfield manager David Wagner said Pritchard is the perfect type of player he likes to work with. “Alex is a young, British player who arrives as one of the top performers in the Sky Bet Championship and with a desire to prove himself in the Premier League.”

Nathan McGinley – Middlesbrough to Wycombe Wanderers (Loan)

Fousseni Diabate – GFC Ajaccio to Leicester City (A$3.13 million)

 

*Market value’s courtesy of Transfermarkt.co.uk 

English Football Transfer Wrap (Week 1)

Josh Barrett – Reading to Coventry (Loan)

Tim Krul – Newcastle United to Brighton & Hove Albion (Free)

Virgil van Dijk – Southampton to Liverpool (A$129.42 million)

Viktor Gyokeres – IF Brommapojkarna to Brighton & Hove Albion (Undisclosed/Market value: A$ 777,000)

Mikel Merino – Borussia Dortmund to Newcastle United (A$10.87 million)

Louis Moult – Motherwell to Preston North End (A$863,000)

Emiliano Marcondes – FC Nordsjaelland to Brentford (A$3.88 million)

Diego Costa – Chelsea to Atletico Madrid (A$98.36 million)

Ahmed Hegazi – AL Ahly to West Brom (A$6.90 million)

Adrien Silva – Sporting CP to Leicester City (A$38 million)

It took four months but Leicester finally landed their man. In September Sporting announced the sale of the midfielder, but FIFA rejected Leicester’s application to register Silva after they reportedly missed the deadline by 14 seconds. Leicester failed to appeal the decision, leaving Silva to train alongside his new teammates without the prospect of playing. Silva finally made his debut in the Foxes scoreless draw with Fleetwood Town in the third round of the FA Cup.

Adrien Silva playing for Leicester

Terence Kongolo – AS Monaco to Huddersfield Town (Loan)

After a less than impressive start to life at AS Monaco, Dutch centre-back Terence Kongolo will be hoping to show why Monaco paid A$23.1 million for his services in the summer, while on loan at Huddersfield. Terriers manager David Wagner was keen to bolster his defensive stocks in the hope of avoiding relegation. Wagner said Kongolo’s mobility will enable him to fit well into the side.

Daniel Rowe – Ipswich Town to Lincoln City (Loan)

Sylvain Deslandes – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Portsmouth (Loan)

Stephy Mavididi – Arsenal to Charlton Athletic (Loan)

Sean Goss – Queens Park Rangers to Rangers (Loan)

Sean Goss

Jordan Maguire-Drew – Brighton & Hove Albion to Coventry City (Loan)

James Hanson – Sheffield United to Bury (Loan)

Connor Ronan – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Portsmouth (Loan)

Adam Phillips – Norwich City to Cambridge United (Loan)

Yeni N’Gbakoto – Queens Park Rangers to Guingamp (Undisclosed/Market value: A$3.1 million)

Rafael Mir Vicente – Valencia to Wolverhampton Wanderers (Undisclosed/Market value: A$1.6 million)

Billy Bodin – Bristol Rovers to Preston North End (Undisclosed/Market value: A$765,000)

Billy Boden has been a shining star in an otherwise disappointing season for Bristol Rovers. The striker netted 11 goals in 24 games this season, before crossing to Preston North End. Rovers chairman Steve Hamer said the departure of Bodin was “probably” inevitable as the striker was to become a free agent in six months. It will be interesting to see if Bodin can make the step up to life in the EFL Championship.

Tom King – Millwall to Stevenage (Loan)

Sid Nelson – Millwall to Chesterfield (Loan)

Paul Jones – Norwich City to Exeter City (Loan)

Josh Kay – Barnsley to Chesterfield (Loan)

Jimmy Dunne – Burnley to Accrington Stanley (Loan)

Jared Bird – Barnsley to Yeovil Town (Loan)

Ike Ugbo – Chelsea to Milton Keynes Dons (Loan)

Conor Ripley – Middlesbrough to Bury (Loan)

Cameron McGeehan – Barnsley to Scunthorpe United (Loan)

Prince Oniangue – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Angers (Loan)

Robert Dickie – Reading to Oxford United (Undisclosed)

Konstantinos Mavropanos – PAS Giannina to Arsenal (A$3.28 million)

Arsenal snapped up the highly rated 20 year old centre-back for a merely A$3.28 million. According to Greek football journalist George Tsitsonis from AGONASport, Mavropanos was considered one of the best defenders in Greece and is known for his ball-winning capabilities and aerial prowess.

 Aaron Drinan – Waterford to Ipswich Town (Undisclosed)

Max Love – Derby County to Shrewsbury Town (Loan)

Marcus Barnes – Southampton to Yeovil Town (Loan)

Lewis Wing – Middlesbrough to Yeovil Town (Loan)

Jonathan Edwards – Hull City to Woking (Loan)

Jake Kean – Sheffield Wednesday to Grimsby Town (Loan)

Corey Whelan – Liverpool to Yeovil Town (Loan)

Aaron Ramsdale – AFC Bournemouth to Chesterfield (Loan)

Shay Facey – Manchester City to Northampton Town (Undisclosed/Market value: A$612,000)

Ross Barkley – Everton to Chelsea (A$26 million)

Having not played for seven months with a hamstring injury and with only six months left on his contract, Chelsea were able to purchase the talented Barkley on the cheap. Barkley’s valuation was cut by half from the summer when Chelsea offered A$52 million for his services. Aged only 24, Barkley has already made 150 appearances in the Premier League and by paying such a small total in todays market, Chelsea have completed the bargain of the transfer window.

Ross Barkley unveiled at Chelsea. Credit: Sky Sports

Liam Walsh – Everton to Bristol City (Undisclosed/Market value: A$383,000)

Gethin Jones – Everton to Fleetwood Town (Undisclosed/Market value: A$383,000)

Cenk Tosun – Besiktas to Everton (A$47 million)

Everton announced the four-and-a-half-year contract with the 26-year-old Turkey international striker at half time in their FA Cup tie against Liverpool. Everton manager Sam Allardyce said Tosun in “the best in the world” at that price. Tosun scored 20 goals for Besiktas last season and has so far netted eight league goals and four Champions League goals this season.

Callum Johnson – Middlesbrough to Accrington Stanley (Undisclosed)

 

*Market value’s courtesy of Transfermarkt.co.uk 

Premier League 2017/18 mid-season report card

With half of the 2017/18 Premier League season behind us, Brayden May, Christopher Chrysostomou, Mitch Keating and Tim Sperliotis from the English Football Podcast grade the form of every Premier League team from the season so far.

Arsenal

A not-so-great first half of the season for the Gunners. For the remainder, they need to keep getting victories and take a big scalp or two to return to the top four. Winning the Europa League is a MUST. A 3-3 home draw to Liverpool and 3-1 home loss to Manchester United could come back to bite them.

Retaining the services of Alexis Sanchez will go a long way in securing a spot in the top four.

Will Alexis Sanchez be at Arsenal after the January transfer window?

Grade: C-

Bournemouth

The Cherries are currently a threat of being relegated at the end of the season. Stuck on four wins, they need to grind out a few results and secure their safety. Key forward Jermain Defoe is missing until late February with a long-term injury. Will be interesting to see where they finish.

Grade: D

Brighton 

Brighton and Hove Albion fans will enter the new year with a big a smile following an impressive start to the campaign. Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan has produced several match saving performances thus far and looks a real smart summer purchase. They will be interesting to watch over the coming months as they aim to stay in the top flight.

Grade: B 

Burnley 

Having flirted with a top four place in mid December, the Clarets have proven they are the best side to break into the top six, as they comfortably sit in limbo between the Premier League giant six and the mid table.

A key factor for Sean Dyche’s success has been his consistent reliance on the starting lineup. Burnley average just 0.9 changes to their starting lineup – the fewest of any Premier League side, with the next fewest being Leicester’s 1.5 changes per week. Centre-backs James Tarkowski and Ben Mee have been the shining light for Burnley’s season, with both defenders having put themselves into contention as the best half backs in the league.

James Tarkowski and Ben Mee have been rock solid in defence.

The next month of football for Burnley will prove their worth in the league, with fixtures again Liverpool and both Manchester sides, the Clarets could see themselves press for a top six spot or fall into the middle of the table.

Grade: B+

Chelsea

It would take an almighty collapse from Manchester City for Antonio Conte’s side to claim back-to-back titles so now it’s about a top four finish.

Alvaro Morata has been a revelation since crossing from Real Madrid in the summer, scoring on a consistent basis. Last season’s title winning defence has been chopped and changed throughout and those rotations have seen the Blues pay.

Alvaro Morata has been a revelation at Chelsea.

Grade: B-

Crystal Palace

The 2017/18 season could not have started any worse for Crystal Palace. After losing their opening four matches without scoring a goal – the first team in 93 years to have begun a top flight season in such fashion, Palace sacked manager Frank De Boer, making him the shortest reigning manager in Premier League history.

De Boer was replaced by Roy Hodgson who also had trouble changing the clubs fortunes. Hodgson lost his opening three matches in charge without hitting the scoresheet, before a 2-1 victory over Chelsea ended the Eagles seven game winless start to the season.

Since the victory over Chelsea, Palace have achieved three victories and six draws and have moved out of the relegation zone. A lot of Crystal Palace’s resurgence has to do with Wilfried Zaha returning from injury. After missing the start of the season, Zaha has netted four goals and has drawn the interest of Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Crystal Palace will be hoping to hold onto Zaha if they are going to avoid a relegation battle.

Grade: C-

Everton

How do you grade Everton’s season? Pre season expectations were high at Goodison Park after the Toffees spent £153 million on new signings. But without Romelu Lukaku up front the Toffees lacked a goal scorer and come late October the club sat in 18th place and sacked manager Ronald Koeman.

David Unsworth was placed as caretaker manager but even he couldn’t restore the sinking ship, winning only two of his eight matches in charge.

The announced appointment of Sam Allardyce had an instant impact on the club and in Unsworth’s final match as manager, Wayne Rooney scored a hat rick to give the Toffees a 4-0 victory over West Ham.

The appointment of Allardyce has drawn criticism from Everton fans, but it is undeniable Allardyce has been able turn the Toffees season around. By the time Koeman was sacked, the club had conceded 28 goals in the league. Under Allardyce, Everton have kept five clean sheets in seven league fixtures. The Toffees have also gone undefeated under Allardyce and sit in ninth position on the table.

Sam Allardyce has steady the ship since becoming Everton manager.

Despite the recent upturn in Everton’s fortunes the 2017/18 has been a failure for the club, given they were expected to challenge for a top four spot this season.

Grade: D

Huddersfield

A great start to the Premier League season for the newly promoted side. Not many expected they would be higher than the bottom half of the table, however they currently sit in 11th position. Aussie Aaron Mooy is key to their success and could be the one to help them finish in the top half.

Grade B+

Leicester 

Many questioned the appointment of Claude Puel following Craig Shakepeare’s sacking but it has worked a treat. The Foxes are back playing some of their best football and it has been a joy to watch. They face a major challenge in January in trying to keep hold of Riyad Mahrez who has been heavily linked to Arsenal and Roma.

Grade: C

Liverpool 

It was made well aware that Liverpool will be relying on their fire power up front to keep them afloat with the fellow top six sides before the season had started.

The inclusion Mohamed Salah has proven to be the signing of the season with the Egyptian having scored 17 goals and five assists to date.

Mohamed Salah has netted 17 goals in the Premier League this season.

Reds fans will be delighted with the signing of Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk, as Jurgen Klopp looks to repair his sides defensive woes after conceding 20 goals away from home. Klopp will be eyeing the mid January fixture against Manchester City at Anfield as the game that  could shape the Reds’ season and hopes for a top four finish.

Grade: B

Manchester City 

Just two points dropped at this stage of the season has Pep Guardiola’s side well on their way to the Premier League crown. The Sky Blues have been exciting to watch not just for their own supporters but also the neutral. Their free flowing football is only going to get better. Right now it’s almost hard to see them losing a match in the league. While Champions League glory is not out of the question.

Manchester City have enjoyed great success in 2017.

Grade: A+

Manchester United 

Surely a team sitting in third place would consider the 2017/18 season a success? That is unless the team has spent close to £300 million in two years and are 14 points behind the top of the table Manchester City. Manchester United have not sat this high up on the table since the Sir Alex Ferguson era came to an end in 2013. Yet there is a sense of disappointment in the fans who have begun resenting Jose Mourinho’s constant negativity.

The fans have been unhappy with Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Shaw has been Mourinho’s whipping boy for over a year and Mkhitaryan has found himself on the outer since his signed for the club last summer. Mourinho has also lamented the clubs lack of depth and claimed he will need to spend even more money to compete with Manchester City.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has found life difficult at Manchester United under Jose Mourinho.

The gap between the two Manchester teams was no more evident than their first meeting of the season. At the time City were only eight points ahead of United on the table. Mourinho deployed a team that would hit City on the counter but against a side that don’t give the ball away, United did not have a chance to exploit City’s defensive weaknesses.

In the six matches after the Derby Day misery, United were held to three draws and a humiliating defeat to Bristol City in the League Cup.

This season was suppose to be the campaign where Manchester United showed themselves to once again be a Premier League force. Despite being well behind their city counterparts, United have proven to be the ‘best of the rest’ and for the most part of the season, but a recent dip in form has hampered their progress.

Grade: C+

Newcastle 

The Magpies are still a threat to be relegated. Need to win as many matches as possible in order to stay another season in the league. January will be an interesting time to see whether they sign a couple of players to help their fight. However, they will likely survive.

Grade: D

Southampton 

The Saints have only two wins to show since mid September. With just 13 points from a possible 33 at St. Mary’s Stadium this season, Southampton have fallen into the relegation conversation.

The Saints have struggled to piece together a run of consistent football throughout the season as they fail to capitalise on winning positions. They now sit just two points ahead of 18th placed Bournemouth following a lacklustre December.

Virgil Van Dijk’s departure will leave a hole in the Saints defence.

Come January 1st, the Saints will lose half-back Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool, giving Mauricio Pellegrino a chance to improve his side through signings with money in the bank. Picking up three points against an out of form Manchester United would be a perfect end to the year in the Saints’ hopes of avoiding a drop to the relegation zone.

Grade: D+

Stoke

When Mark Hughes replaced Tony Pulis as manager of Stoke in 2013, it was believed the club would finally break away from the direct, robust style that made Stoke one of the most boring teams to watch in the league. Four years on and Stoke are still a team ever reliant on Peter Crouch up front.

Stoke are a team complacent with being mid table in the Premier League, despite having the most Champions League winners of any Premier League team in their squad.

This season has seen Stoke toil with the prospect of relegation. The Potters sit three points above 18th place Bournemouth and calls for Mark Hughes sacking have intensified.

Stoke have not had a happy end to 2017.

At times this campaign Hughes has deployed a 3-4-2-1 formation, but with the likes of Ryan Shawcross, Mame Biram Diouf and Erik Peters in the team, Hughes using this formation is like trying to build a house out of plywood.

Stoke’s main aim is to avoid relegation, which they so far have managed to avoid the drop zone but a 5-0 defeat to Chelsea will surely put Hughes’ job in jeopardy.

Grade: D

Swansea

The drop seems inevitable for the South Wales club this season, as a change of manager hasn’t appeared to help their cause just yet. Goals have been difficult to come by with just 13 goals to date – which is simply terrible for this level of football. The absence of Gylfi Sigurdsson has been a major reason for their downfall.

Grade: F

Tottenham

Following their second place finish last season, there were hopes Tottenham may make the leap forward and win their first title since 1961. But like fellow teams, the Spurs have been outshone but the undefeated Manchester City. Tottenham sit fifth on the table and have struggle for continuity while playing home matches at Wembley Stadium.

Injuries have tested the depth of the Spurs squad and with Toby Alderweireld having been injured for a majority of the campaign, Spurs have conceded 20 goals so far, six less than their total for the 2016/17 season.

Dele Alli has struggled to recapture last seasons form, but fortunately for Tottenham, Harry Kane has taken his game to another level. Kane leads the EPL scoring with 18 goals.

Harry Kane fast becoming the most lethal striker in the world.

Tottenham may look to improve their squad depth in the January transfer window in the quest of clinching a top four spot.

Grade: C+

Watford

With a forgetful last month and a half, Hornets fans can thank their strong start to the season for their position in mid table. The shining light for Watford’s season has been the emergence of Abdoulaye Doucouré and Brazilian forward Richarlison. The duo have netted a total of 11 goals, with Richarlison also managing four assists this year.

Richarlison has been a shining light for Watford.

Marco Silva will be praying for a change in form come January with his side only managing three wins since October 21st, after losses to newly promoted sides Brighton and Huddersfield and 16th placed Crystal Palace.

Grade: C+

West Brom 

For a club known for its strong starts to a Premiership campaign, the Baggies have had a forgetful first few months to the 2017/18 season.

Oliver Burke has failed to make an impact at West Brom.

With Alan Pardew now at the helm, West Brom are eyeing an alteration for on-field performances. They are currently winless in their last 10 matches and continue to fall deeper into the bottom three, as they currently sit just two points above last placed Swansea. The inclusions of Oliver Burke, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Jay Rodriguez have failed to spark the side and Pardew will now have to spend in January to keep the Baggies in the Premier League.

Grade: D

West Ham

A horrible start to their season for the Hammers. Manager Slaven Bilic was sacked and replaced by David Moyes. You would think that the former Manchester United and Everton manager will guide the Hammers to safety. Some momentum will see them finish mid table. The 1-0 victory over Chelsea and the draw against Arsenal in December will no doubt give them some hope and confidence.

Grade: E

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Moneyball fever hits Barnsley City

English Championship side Barnsley City have agreed to a takeover by a duo of investment groups that includes the creator of Moneyball, Billy Beane.

Chinese-American billionaire investor Chien Lee and US film financer Paul Conway have agreed a fee in the region of $17 to $35 million with ailing Tykes owner Patrick Cryne for control of the club.

In a statement to fans Barnsley Chief Executive Gauthier Ganaye said:

“We would like to thank every member of our loyal fan base for their patience and continued support over recent months. An exciting chapter is opening for Barnsley Football Club and we are looking forward to the future together.”

New owners Lee and Conway will look to have as much success with Barnsley as they have had with French side Nice.

Nice were the surprise packets of the 2016/17 Ligue 1 season, finishing in third place and qualifying for the third round of the Champions League.

In the wake of the takeover, some Barnsley fans have shown apprehension, believing their club may be used as a feeder club for the French outfit.

Conway allayed fears yesterday, but did add resources will be shared when circumstances dictate.

“Any investment we do is our own independent investment. But we will look for sharing resources when they make sense,” Conway said.

“[But] all the decisions make here at Barnsley will be made for the long-term benefit of Barnsley.”

Oakland Athletics Executive Vice-president Billy Beane is known to be a keen follower of European football and according Conway, was attracted by the clubs way of doing things.

“Part of the attraction of Barnsley is that they embraced some of his sports philosophy and analytics and they have seen some of the results of that,” Conway said at the new owners’ first press conference.

“With his philosophies, having him in this is important because he brings a unique knowledge-base to the club. He is an executive of the A’s and he will continue to be, he is involved here because he saw a matching of philosophies.”

Moneyball is the name of the book written by Michael Lewis in 2003. The book is about how Beane and the Oakland A’s used stats and analytics to trade and draft players in the 2002 Major League Baseball season.

In 2011, Moneyball was turned into a Hollywood film, with Brad Pitt portraying Beane.

Billy Beane portrayed by Brad Pitt in the 2011 film ‘Moneyball’.

Since Barnsley’s one and only season in the Premier League in 1997/98, the Tykes have spent most of their time in the second division of English Football.

The Tykes have worked on a shoestring budget and have sold their best players to make financial profits.

This season Barnsley sit 20th in the league table. But Tykes manager Paul Heckingbottom believes the club will be able to avoid relegation with the aid of the new owners.

Heckingbottom held transfer discussions with the new owners, who have confirmed the club will be “active” in the January market without spending “crazy” money.

 

 

 

 

 

“We are struggling,” says Conte

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is eager to see his team respond from Tuesday night’s 3-0 Champions League defeat to Roma.

Speaking ahead of Monday morning’s match with Manchester United, Conte has called for his players to show character through a time of adversity.

“We are struggling a lot, because we are facing a lot of important problems,” Conte said.

“To solve these problems is not simple. In this moment you can see it you are a winner or a loser.“

“It’s important to show character, to be strong, to face the problem in the right way.”

Conte said he will try to transfer his suffering to the players in the quest of turning the Blues fortunes around.

“I try to transfer my suffering to my players. Sometimes I am able to do this, to have a good answer.”

The Blues sit nine points behind top of the table Manchester City in the Premier League and defeat to Manchester United this weekend will make defending their championship all the more difficult.

But Conte insists he is happy with the commitment of his players.

“I’m happy to work with my players. The commitment is always good but this season we are struggling a lot because we are facing a lot of problems and resolving these problems is not simple.”

The Blues will host a Manchester United team that includes former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and former player Nemanja Matic.

Last year Mourinho criticised Conte for trying to humiliate him, after Chelsea’s 4-0 victory over the Red Devils.

Conte refused to add to the animosity when asked about his relationship with Mourinho.

“It’s not important, the relationship between the coaches. We have to respect the job of the other coaches.”

“He’s an opponent and I’m an opponent for him. After the game it will be the same.”

Conte will be hoping for the return of midfielder N’golo Kante for the weekends match.

Kante has been sidelined for six matches in all competitions since picking up a hamstring injury on national duty in early October.

Conte said Kante is “progressing well”, but will not risk the midfielder if there is any chance of reinjuring his hamstring.

 

 

Kung-fu Evra

Olympique de Marseille defender Patrice Evra was sent off before Marseille’s Europa League match against Vitoria SC for kicking a supporter in the head.

The former Manchester United star was involved in a heated exchange with the travelling French fans in the pre-game warm up.

According to tweets from journalist in attendance, Evra was the victim of insults and chants from the Marseille fans, before the defender decided to retaliate.

Evra had been named on the bench for the game, but was still issued a red card, meaning Marseille had to start the game with six players on the bench.

Marseille manager Rudi Garcia revealed Evra had been taunted by fans but still criticised the defenders actions.

“Pat has experience and he must not react, it’s obvious,” Garcia told BeIN Sports.

“Patrice is a more than just an experienced player. You can’t respond, of course, to insults as bad as they are and as incredible as they might be because they come from one of our supporters.” “He must learn to keep his cool. That’s all I can say.”

Garcia did however blast the fan who taunted the 81-times capped French international.

“He’s not a supporter of Marseille, because you can’t insult your own players, you have to be behind all of us.”

The club will likely face a hefty fine from Uefa, while Evra will be looking at an extended stint on the sideline.

Evra will receive an automatic three-match ban for the red card, but will almost certainly receive a further suspension for the kick.

The incident draws comparisons to another kung-fu kicking French footballer.

In January 1995, Manchester United striker Eric Cantona launched a flying kick at a Crystal Palace supporter, who jeered him after he was sent off for a kick on opposition defender Richard Shaw.

As he walked off the field, Cantona launched a kung-fu kick on the Palace supporter, who had directed insults towards the hot-headed Frenchman.

Cantona was handed an eight-month suspension from all football and had to complete 120 hours of community service.

In 2008 Evra was handed a four-match ban and fined $25,000, following a clash with Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell as Manchester United warmed down after a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Evra was found guilty of pushing Bethell with his chest and then striking him on the side of the head.

In December 2011, Evra accused Liverpool striker Luis Suarez of racial abuse, which resulted in the Uruguayan being banned for eight games and hit with a $68,000 fine.

The pair then clashed three months later when the Liverpool striker refused to handshake the Frenchman.

Uefa are expected to confirm they are investigating the incident involving Evra.

 

 

British managers ‘foreigners’ in local league

Last week, former England manager Sam Allardyce labelled British managers as ‘second class citizens’ in the ‘foreign’ Premier League.

Speaking on beIn Sports ‘Keys and Grey Show’, Allardyce said British coaches were deemed uneducated, compared to their foreign counterparts.

“I think you are almost deemed as second class because it is your country,” Allardyce told beIN Sports.

“It is a real shame that we are highly educated, highly talented coaches now with nowhere to go.”

“The Premier League is the foreign league in England now…when you look across the owners, the managers and the coaches [and] the players, that is exactly what it is now.”

Allardyce’s views draw sentiment to the opinion that British football is losing its grip on the world’s biggest league.

Foreign investors own 13 of the 20 Premier League teams and 65 per cent of Premier League managers are from foreign backgrounds.

Since Ossie Ardiles became the first foreign manager in the Premier League when he was appointed manager of Tottenham in 1993, the league has transformed from a predominately British coaching structure to one that see’s a scarcity of home grown management.

Despite being in a self-imposed retirement, Allardyce is one of few British managers who would attract interest from numerous top-flight clubs. But the interest would only be from the mid-tier sides, instead of the top six clubs.

When appointed England national manager in July 2016, Allardyce was considered the best candidate of any British manager.

But following his controversial departure 67 days after being appointed, Allardyce returned to club management by joining Crystal Palace at a time when they were in the midst of a relegation battle.

The lack of interest from top clubs in the Premier League to sign British managers is a worry for English Football.

The reports Everton are interested in appointing Burnley manager Sean Dyche as their new manager is seen as a step forward for British management.

Despite being ranked the sixth biggest club in England by the Daily Mail, Everton have averaged an eighth place finish in the Premier League for the past 10 years. With little involvement in European football, the Toffees can not be considered one of the leagues top clubs.

The foreign takeover of English football has also begun to seep its way into the lower leagues. The Championship was once home to English players who were not good enough for top-level football, but could still have a thriving career. Today, foreign consortiums own 14 of the 24 clubs in the EFL Championship.

Wolverhampton Wanderers have set the championship alight this season, largely due to the number of foreign players in their team.

Wolverhampton owner, Fosun International have a close relationship with Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes, who helped the club sign Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa and Roderick Miranda.

Ivan Cavaleiro

The on-field success of Wolves will see more championship clubs focus on recruiting foreign players instead of developing English talent.

2017 has been a successful year for England’s national junior setup, which has won the under 20 and under 17 World Cup’s and the under 19 European Championship.

With so many talented youngsters, England are on the cusp of a golden generation, which will not see fruition in the current English football climate.

The amount of money on offer in the Premier League has led owners and managers being unwilling to risk the possibility of relegation for the sake of youth development.

Chelsea and Manchester City have the best youth set ups in England, but both do not promote academy prospects to their senior line-ups.

Some young talents have moved overseas to try their luck in breaking into first team football, with Jadon Sancho, Reece Oxford and Kaylen Hinds moving to Germany in the quest for senior football.

Jadon Sancho unveiled at Borussia Dortmund

One way to ensure academy players get a chance in England would be to deploy ‘B’ teams in the divisions below the Premier League, as evident with Barcelona B in Spain’s second division.

Last years Uefa Youth League final was between Benfica and Salzburg, two teams that have second string sides in the lower national leagues.

Another way to ensure youth development would be to appoint a sporting director and head coach, a system deployed in other leagues across Europe.

Germany’s RB Leipzig have had success developing youth with Ralf Rangnick overseeing the whole club, including nurturing young talent, while head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl focused solely on first team affairs.

“In former times and that is still the case at some clubs today, there is a manager doing the head coach and sporting director role and is responsible for everything,” Rangnick told The Sun.

“But if you sack the manager another one comes in and says ‘I don’t want these players… we should sell them’.”

“But there is a tendency things are changing, a few clubs are now thinking about bringing in a sporting director who is then in charge of the medium and long-term plans of the club.”

If English football continues as it has in recent years then there will be no room for Englishmen in the local league. But with a few changes to the way of thinking, British managers and players may once again rule the English game.