Squad rotation for FA Cup says Mourinho

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed he will be rotating his squad for United’s FA Cup tie against Reading.

Mourinho has guaranteed starting spots for goalkeeper Sergio Romero and captain Wayne Rooney, but has also predicted more changes to preserve his squad’s fitness, ahead of some important January fixtures.

Rotations to the team could see Bastian Schweinsteiger start for the first time in almost a year.

Schweinsteiger was frozen out of the squad by Mourinho at the start of the season but in recent months has regained his spot at training and made a four minute cameo as a sub against West Ham in the EFL Cup in November.

“He’s selected again so he can start, he can be on the bench. He’s an option for us,” said Mourinho.

“I think that’s the best way to describe it, for many months he wasn’t an option, when we brought him back in the first couple of weeks he was not an option, not ready to compete but since then working very well, never an injury, he was ill last week. His body is fine, is training very well, he’s ready to play.”

Luke Shaw also looks set to be handed a starting spot after missing eight games with a groin injury.

Mourinho has publicly criticised the 21-year-old on two occasions this season; the first being for his part in Watford’s second goal against United at Vicarage Road and again when he said the defender was “not in the condition” to play against Swansea in October.

Marcus Rashford looks set to be given an opportunity to play in his preferred striking position, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be given a break after a chaotic festive season.

Exciting prospect Timothy Fosu-Mensah also has a chance of a rare starting appearance and with his versatility, could play either in midfield, full back or centre back.

The 19-year-old made 10 appearances for United last season but under Mourinho he has only started two games in the EFL Cup and in the Europa League.

Two players who will not partake in the game will be Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay, as both are seeking to leave the club in the January transfer period.

Schneiderlin looks set to re-join former coach Ronald Koeman at Everton and the Toffees are also said to be interested in signing Depay.

“Their situation is exactly the same,” Mourinho clarified. “I will allow them to leave the club, I will allow them to leave if the right offer comes and until this moment, no.

“We are waiting for something that a couple of weeks ago looked 100 per cent. In this moment, it looks like zero per cent because we don’t have any offer that is close to the quality the players have.”

Football’s Greatest Teams – The AFL Era (1990-Present)

Part two of this series will look at the greatest teams in the modern era of AFL football.

While the AFL has only established in 1990, there are still numerous teams who can promote their argument for being the greatest team of all time.

Some of these teams dominated for a substantial period of time, without achieving the amount of success they ultimately deserved, while others can lay claim to winning consecutive premierships.

North Melbourne 1994-1999

Record books will show North Melbourne have had two great decades of success. While the 1970’s was the decade when the Kangaroos broke the premiership drought, the 1990’s will be remembered for the individual brilliance of North’s star players and the pioneering of Friday night football.

From 1994 to 1999, North Melbourne made three Grand Finals, winning two (1996 & 1999) and losing one to Adelaide in 1998, in a match they could have won if they had kicked accurately (North kicked 8.22 in the match).

The lowest North finished at the end of the home and away season at the end of those six years was seventh, but come finals North always managed to make at least the Preliminary final.

Friday night football was pioneered by North Melbourne in 1985 and by the 1990’s it had become a regular in AFL football. North continued to predominately hold the prestigious timeslot and a lot of this had to do with their on-field success and the marketing machine that was Wayne Carey.

Similar to Michael Jordan in a promotional sense, Carey was the face of the AFL because his athletic ability and ability to carry his team to victory.

Along with the two premierships, Carey’s individual success included 2x Leigh Matthew’s trophy, 7x All-Australian, 4x North Melbourne Best & Fairest and 5x North Melbourne leading goal kicker.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Australian football, highly acclaimed AFL journalist Mike Sheehan comprised a list of the 50 greatest players of all time and had Carey as the greatest to play the game.

Essendon 1999-2001

The Essendon team from 1999 to 2001 had an opportunity to become one of the most successful teams in AFL football.

In the three-year period the Bombers won 61 of 66 home and away games.

2000 will be the year the Bombers are most remembered for as they won all possible silverware a team could win. The Bombers started the season by winning the pre season competition. The Bombers then won 21 home and away games to claim the minor premiership, before they ran away with the flag by defeating Melbourne by 60 points.

1999 and 2001 will be remembered as years the Bombers let slip of the premiership flag. In 1999 the Bombers were by far the best team in the competition and after comfortably beating Sydney in the Qualifying final, some Essendon fans purchased Grand Final tickets, assuming their side would easily account for Carlton in the Preliminary final.

Essendon would be a no show in the Grand Final, as they went down to Carlton by a point.

In 2001 Essendon again finished the regular season as minor premiers and went into Grand Final day as premiership favourites.

But unable to hold on to a 14-point half time lead, the Bombers went down to Brisbane by 26 points.

Brisbane Lions 2001-2003

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Brisbane players celebrate the 2003 premiership

When the final siren sounded at the end of the 2003 Grand Final, people were asking “have we ever seen a side as good as this?” Brisbane had just won it’s third consecutive premiership and with the likes of Michael Voss, Jason Akermanis, Simon Black, Nigel Lappin, Alastair Lynch, Mal Michael and Jonathon Brown, Brisbane had the right mix of skill and aggression to frighten every team in the competition.

The 2001 premiership may have come as a surprise as Essendon were clear favourites heading into the match, but by 2003 everyone was wondering how long the dynasty would last.

Under the guidance of Leigh Matthews the Lions never finished higher than second during the regular season in the premiership seasons. But come finals time, the Lions only lost one final between 2001 and 2003.

Individual success was also a hallmark in the Lions side, as Jason Akermanis and Simon Black won Brownlow medals in 2001 and 2002.

Brisbane looked set to equal Collingwood’s four consecutive premierships in 2004, but with aging legs the Lions could not compete with the determined Port Adelaide side.

The Lions brought great enjoyment for long suffering Brisbane and Fitzroy fans and with supporters again suffering from a lack of success in recent years, Lions supporters will be hoping for a return to the success of the early 2000’s side.

Geelong 2007-2011

It took one game to kick-start the Geelong dynasty.

By round 6, 2007, media questioned whether Mark Thompson was the right man for Geelong. The Cats sat in sixth position and were going up against a winless Richmond side. Anything other than a massive win would be seen as a failure for the Cats.

But what transpired would have to be seen to be believed. Geelong kicked 20 goals in the opening half to lead by 107 points at the main break. When the final siren finally sounded to end Richmond’s torture, the Cats had handed the Tigers their biggest loss in history; a 157 point defeat.

The victory sparked a string of wins for the Cats, as would only lose one more game for the season and win the premiership by a record margin of 119 points against Port Adelaide.

It may have been hard to top but somehow Geelong became even better in 2008. The Cats only lost one game during the home and away season and ended the campaign with an average winning margin of 53 points.

But inaccuracy in front of goal cost Geelong in the Grand Final, as Hawthorn came away with a unlikely victory.

Redemption came the year after as the Cats would win the premiership over the highly fancied St Kilda.

Geelong’s success during 2007 to 2009 is largely due to the unique style of play. Teams of that area worked tirelessly on defence and tight low scoring contest set the tone, evident in the 2005 and 2006 Grand finals.

Under Mark Thompson the Cats challenged the norm and became an attacking side, moving the ball with rapid speed through the centre of the ground.

Having superstars Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood, Steven Johnson, Cameron Ling and Matthew Scarlett also helped the Cats achieve success.

At the end of 2010 Mark Thompson and Gary Ablett both departed the Cats, leaving many to assume the Geelong dynasty was over.

But a rejuvenated Cats side under the guidance of Chris Scott returned to the pinnacle of football by beating Collingwood in the 2011 Grand Final.

Hawthorn 2013-2015

Hawthorn shocked the footballing world by beating Geelong in the 2008 Grand Final. With an average age of only 24, the Hawks were expected to win multiple premierships in the upcoming years.

But sport doesn’t always go to plan and the Hawks failed to qualify for the 2009 finals series.

Hawthorn failed to play in another Grand Final until 2012, a surprising fact given that they had Lance Franklin, the games best forward in the team.

Hawthorn would lose the 2012 flag, but success would arrive a year later as they defeated Fremantle in the decider.

At the end of 2013 Lance Franklin departed for Sydney, but Franklin’s departure would mean little for the Hawks who would again win the premiership in 2014 and 2015.

Under the senior heads of Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis and Jarryd Roughead the Hawks would bully opposition with their ruthless style of play. This style would be too much for teams they played in the treble of premierships as the Hawks would win those flags by an average margin of 42 points.

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Hawthorn players celebrate 2015 flag

Football’s Greatest Teams – The VFL Era (1896-1989)

As a decade concludes there is always a new candidate for the greatest football team of all time.

As always is the case the latest team or latest trend is always the forerunner for the title of being the best.

But while we recall the achievements of the latest team, we forget the accomplishments of the teams from yesterday.

In the AFL there is always the argument of who is the best team of all time.

But after 120 years of VFL/AFL football how can we possibly have a clear winner in the discussion of the greatest team in history?

Maybe a better discussion would be teams of the decade but with some teams having success in intertwining decades it is difficult to categorise teams into a decade.

An easier way to determine footballs greatest teams is by splitting the VFL and AFL era’s.

This two part series will look at the teams that dominated the VFL era (1896-1989) and then the AFL era (1990–present). There will be numerous options of best side and you the reader will be able to decide who is the greatest team of the VFL and AFL era’s.

THE VFL ERA 1896 – 1989

Collingwood 1927 – 1930

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1929 Collingwood premiership team

No other team from the early 20th century receive as much attention in modern times as the Collingwood team from the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. ‘The Machine’ as the football public referred them won four consecutive premierships (1927–30), albeit with the help of the Argus system.

The Argus system allowed the team who finished minor premiers at the end of the home and away season the right to challenge a result in the finals.

In 1929 Collingwood finished the home and away season undefeated but were thrashed by Richmond by 62 points in the second semi-final. But under the Argus rules, Collingwood had the opportunity to challenge the winner of Richmond vs Carlton in the Grand Final.

As fate would have it, Collingwood met Richmond in the Grand Final and avenged the semi-final defeat, with a 29 point victory.

The Magpies would do the same in 1930, losing to Geelong in the preliminary final, but given the opportunity for redemption in the Grand final, which they duly won.

Though the Magpies were aided by a ludicrous system, the facts are that the Machine will still go down as one of the best sides ever assembled.

Of the 82 games played between 1927–1930, the Magpies won 70. Five players from ‘The Machine’ team are in the Collingwood Team of the Century.

One of these players was Gordon Coventry, who became the first player to reach 300 games and kicked 1299 goals, a record amount which stood until Tony Lockett kicked his 1300 goal in 1999.

Essendon 1946-1951

When a team plays in six consecutive Grand Finals, has two players who have accumulated five Brownlow medals and a player who has the goal-kicking award named after him, it’s safe to say the team is in fairly good shape.

Coached by club legend Dick Reynold’s the Bombers were the superior team in the competition for six seasons, winning 79% of their home and away matches.

The Bombers won premierships in 1946, 49 and 50 but came up short in 1947, 48 and 51.

The Bombers however, will be most remembered for the grace of John Coleman, who lit up the competition in a way never seen prior.

In his first match Coleman kicked 12 goals and from then on was a footballing sensation. Coleman kicked 537 goals in only 98 matches in a career that was cruelly cut short by a serious knee injury. Ill-fate would be a constant occurrence in Coleman’s life as he was unjustly suspended for the 1951 Grand final, a decision that most people believe cost the Bombers the flag.

Coleman coached the Bombers from 1961 to 1967 and guided the club to premierships in 1962 and 1965.

In April 1973, aged just 44, Coleman died suddenly from coronary atheroma, ending the life of footballs first real superstar.

Melbourne 1955-1960

No team has ever been as dominant as the Melbourne team from the mid fifties to the early sixties. The Demons had everything required to be a great team. A super coach in Norm Smith, a superstar in Ron Barassi and playing home games at the biggest and best stadium in Victoria meant the Demons were the envy of every other team.

When Melbourne appointed club great and Fitzroy coach, Norm Smith as their coach in 1952, they knew they were getting someone with the skill to be successful. But never did the club foretell the success that would come.

The Demons went on to win the premiership in 1955-57 and 1959-60. The Demons made the 1958 Grand Final and would have equalled Collingwood record of four consecutive premierships if they won the match. But as fate would have it, Collingwood ended the Demons premiership run by winning the 1958 Grand final.

Melbourne won another premiership in 1964 but by 1965 the domination of the Demons was over. Ron Barassi departed the club to take up a role as captain-coach of Carlton, while Norm Smith was sensationally sacked and then reappointed as coach in mid 1965. The magic of the Demons was over and since 1964, Melbourne have not won another premiership, making their success in the 50’s and 60’s even more special.

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Ron Barassi

North Melbourne 1974-1978

For over 40 years North Melbourne were considered an irrelevant team in the VFL. Awarded a VFL licence after 29 years of applying, the Kangaroos entered the VFL along with Hawthorn and Footscray in 1925. While Footscray and Hawthorn won their first premierships in 1954 and 1961, North had to wait 50 years to taste success.

The turnaround at North Melbourne began when Allen Aylett was appointed president in 1971. A forward thinker Aylett set his sights on making North the best team in the competiton.

To do this Aylett got together numerous powerbrokers to attain the litter of money to entice the best players in the VFL to the Kangaroos.

The VFL had just established the 10-year rule, which allowed players who had served 10 years at a club the chance to move to any club of their choice.

North took advantage of this rule and recruited Essendon captain, Barry Davis, Geelong superstar Doug Wade, John Rantall (South Melbourne) and Barry Cable (Perth).

The biggest acquisition however was the appointed of Ron Barassi as coach. After a year away from the game, Aylett was able to entice Barassi to return to the coaching arena for the 1973 season.

With the likes of Malcolm Blight, David Dench and duel Brownlow medallist Keith Gregg playing alongside the new recruits, North’s fortunes began to turn and the club made the Grand final in Barassi’s second season in charge.

But North were no match for a strong Richmond side and were never in the hunt for the 1974 premiership.

North would only have to wait a year to taste success as the club as they beat rival, Hawthorn by 55 points.

Hawthorn would have revenge a year later, but the Kangaroos would again taste premiership success in 1977 against Collingwood.

After the first Grand Final ended in a draw, a easy week of training gave North players enough rest to run away with victory in the replay.

North would again make the Grand Final in 1978 but were no match for Hawthorn.

In all, North played in six Grand finals over five years and as Aylett set out at the beginning of the decade, achieved the ultimate success and became relevant.

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1977 Grand Final

Hawthorn 1983-1989

The Hawks defined the 80’s. Off the field, Hawthorn players were partygoers, with a great sense of fashion. On field the Hawks played with exuberant style and flair that guided them to seven consecutive Grand Finals, in the decade that shaped the course of Australian football history.

The 1983 premiership was one for the older generation in the Hawthorn side. Leigh Matthews and Peter Knights were ever present and added to their premiership medallions, which already included the 1971, 76 and 78 triumphs.

After falling short to Essendon in 1984 and 85 the transition to the new generation began. The likes of Dermot Brereton, Garry Ayres, John Plattern and Jason Dunstall were now the stars in the Hawthorn side.

Hawthorn would go on to win premierships in 1986, 88 and 89, while Robert DiPierdomenico and John Plattern would win Brownlow medals and Jason Dunstall kicked 134 and 138 goals in consecutive years to be crowned the Coleman medallist.

During the seven-year stretch, the Hawks won 120 of a possible 154 home and away games. The Hawks also won three night series in a decade where the pre-season competition held relevance. Allan Jeans was coach for most of the decade, but illness prevented him from coaching in 1988 and responsibilities fell to Alan Joyce.

Many people who lived through the decade describe the 1980’s Hawthorn side as the best team they have ever seen, even better than the Brisbane side of the early 21st century and the present Hawthorn team.

The clear indication of how prolific the Hawks were in the 80’s can be seen in the state of the club in modern times. In the past the Hawks struggled for members and in 1996, the year the club was about to merge with Melbourne, the Hawks only had 12,923 members.

But with the children who grew up in the 80’s now adults, the club has over 70,000 members and is expected to overtake Collingwood for most members in 2017.

Port Adelaide’s problems finding the perfect guernsey continue in 2017

The AFL is a great sport that truly captures the heart’s of Australian sport fanatics.

But like all sports there are areas of the AFL that can cause debate.

Holding the ball, head high contact, the Match Review Panel and drugs are all issues debated by fans and the media.

But one issue that is never raised and irritates me most in AFL are the team guernsey’s.

Guernsey’s were designed to set teams apart and make it easier for fans and players to recognise their teammates.

However, in the past few years manufacturers have designed guernsey’s that do not resemble the traditional appearance’s of teams and have resulted is clashes with opposition guernsey’s.

One of the major culprits of this trend is Port Adelaide.

Ten years ago Port Adelaide never had a clash issue with Adelaide, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fremantle, Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda.

However with the decision to convert to an all black strip with a teal and white ‘V’ has led to a clash with numerous teams and created an unprecedented issue heading in the 2014 Elimination final against Richmond.

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Previous Port Adelaide guernsey’s

The week leading to the game focused on the AFL’s decision to force Port Adelaide to wear their white away jersey for the final even though the game was played in Adelaide.

Port were angered by the decision and decided to wear the traditional Port Adelaide SANFL guernsey.

Though Port looked wonderful in the traditional jersey, there would never have been a need to revert from their AFL home jumper if they added a white patch at the back of their guernsey.

Not only would a patch break up the bland black texture of the jumper, it would also keep in tradition with past Port Adelaide jumpers, which have always had a white patch.

For the 2017 season, Port Adelaide will wear a white patch at the back of their home guernsey’s but though this is a significant improvement, the Port Adelaide jersey is still bland for a club, which seeks to uphold it’s tradition, whilst progressing with the modern game.

In an ideal world the Power would be wearing their traditional black and white ‘prison bar’ guernsey that made them one of the most recognisable football clubs in Australia.

But with Collingwood holding the rights to the black and white in the AFL, the chances of the Power ever wearing the two shades is as slim as seeing the Loch Ness Monster.

Though the Power may never be able to wear black and white, it does not mean they can never revert to the ‘prison bar’ guernsey.

After watching the elimination final in 2014 I set out to design a modern version of the ‘prison bar’ strip, which would capture the history of Port Adelaide, without clashing with Collingwood or any other team in the competition.

The design I have created is the same as the traditional ‘prison bar’, but instead of being black and white, it is now predominately teal and black with a white patch.

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New Port Adelaide home guernsey designed by Sportdot

As well as being used for the home jumper, the ‘prion bar’ template can be used for a clash strip, with the all black base of the strip reworked to be either white or teal and the striped styled to be black.

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Alternative away strips designed by Sportdot

The ‘prison bar’ guernsey is one of the most unique jumpers in Australian football and it is a great shame that it is not used in the AFL.

But with a little use of imagination, Port Adelaide could once again don the ‘prison bar’ jumper.

Brawls enthral but modern footy wins hands down

Football has changed over the years. Something’s will be missed, like the dropkick, one on one contest and forwards kicking 100 goals a season. But while the game may have changed from what made it the best game in the world there are something’s that will not be missed, like the brawl.

An infamous brawl can really get the crowd going. I must admit sometimes I wish players would start a tussle to show their toughness and prove that they actually care about the result.

But while we sometimes wish for a little brutality to quench our lust for superiority, modern football is forever better off with the removal of brawls.

Old timers love to reminisce of the good old days and the trouble they would get into on the field.

Jack Dyer always recounted the tale of the time he shirt fronted a Melbourne player and thought he killed the Demon when club doctors covered the body with a sheet.

But for every wise tale of brutality there is a story of a victim, who has never been able to return to their best following an attack.

John Greening’s career is one of football’s great tragedies.

Aged 21 Greening was in the form of his life when he was viciously knocked out by St Kilda hard man Jim O’Dea.

The incident left Greening unconscious and in a coma for 24 hours.

Greening had the world at his feat and could have gone on to be one of the greats in Australian football, but instead only managed to add eight games to his career.

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John Greening laying unconscious on a stretcher

Another incident involves the great Leigh Matthews and Geelong captain Neville Bruns.

With six minutes left in an 1985 encounter between Hawthorn and Geelong, Matthews king hit Bruns in an off the ball incident breaking Bruns’ jaw.

Bruns recounted the incident in the book ‘Champions All – A history of AFL/VFL football in the players own words’.

“The compound fracture had come through my jaw. I actually thought I’ve been shot, because I had this big hole in my gum. I felt for the bullet”.

An off duty policeman in the crowd saw the incident and wrote a report on the incident, which resulted in the incident being taken to court with Matthew’s charged with assault.

Matthews was fined $1000 and was suspended for four weeks by the VFL match committee.

With an increase awareness in one punch attacks and the harm that they cause, incidents like the Leigh Matthews attack would not be acceptable in modern society.

Fortunately most modern footballers have moved with the times and brawls are not prevalent in today’s football.

But to say modern footballers are not as tough as their counterparts from yesteryear is an extreme exaggeration.

For instance look no further then the 2016 AFL Grand Final.

Veteran Western Bulldogs defender Dale Morris played the entire finals series with a broken back. That there shows toughness.

Eastern Wood and Dan Hannebery’s collision in the final term when the game was in the balance was a sign of toughness.

Dan Hannebery trying to play on in excruciating pain following the collision with Wood was again a sign of courage.

Courage can come in all shapes and forms and though it may not be as clear to see in football as in yesteryear, courage is far greater shown in modern football.

Jose not to blame for Manchester United’s failures

Another day and another poor performance by Manchester United. A nil-all draw to Burnley at home, in a game where United created 37 shots on goal.

While the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and even Liverpool seem to play attractive football week after week, United struggle to find a scoring and passing rhythm.

It seems to be a recurring theme for United in the past four years since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

So what is it that is making Manchester United struggle?

Surely it isn’t all Jose Mourinho’s fault because it began prior to his time at the club.

Under David Moyes the club had an ageing list that required rejuvenation but not to an overdramatic proportion. Unfortunately for Moyes, he had the inexperienced Ed Woodward running the transfer business and his incompetence to land targets never gave Moyes a fair chance at succeeding.

Watching Moyes on the touchline was like watching the Titanic sink. No matter how hard he tried, Moyes had little chance of succeeding because the players he inherited didn’t support his philosophies that were only proven to succeed at mid-table clubs.

While the players didn’t support Moyes, Moyes himself must take some of the blame for his failures. Moyes sacked long standing United assistance, Mike Phelan and Rene Meulensteen, in favour of his right hand men from Everton Steve Round and Jimmy Lumsden.

The change in coaching staff was the start of Moyes’ demise because the United players who were once training to compete with the likes of Carles Puyol and Xavi were now at training being compared to Phil Jagielka.

While Moyes’ demise was the result of the players and his own failure to change, Louis Van Gaal’s failed tenure at United was solely due to his own misgivings.

Van Gaal had an agenda to change the entire playing list and culture at the club. While some coaches would have looked at the success the club achieved in 2012/13 when they won the title in Ferguson’s final year, Van Gaal still believed the club needed a dramatic overhaul to become successful.

In his first year, Van Gaal sold and loaned out Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck, Darren Fletcher, Nani, Tom Cleverly and Javier Hernandez.

All nine players featured prominently in Ferguson’s final season and many were considered leaders at the club.

Van Gaal’s ruthless player turnover tore the heart out of the club and the lack of leadership on the field was the result of many of United’s lacklustre performances during the Van Gaal era.

So now to the Jose Mourinho era, which hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts. Why are United continuing to struggle under the self proclaimed ‘Special One’?

Mourinho’s first problem is the playing list. Mourinho has said countless times that he is happy with his playing list but in reality Mourinho would wish he had inherited Ferguson’s squad.

Mourinho has a squad of players purchased by three different managers. Having a squad of players from three different managers results in dysfunctional performances and a lack of balance, which is evident in many of United’s performances. Mourinho needs time to work out which players are required and which do not fit his philosophy.

Another key reason for Mourinho’s lack of success is the amount individuals in the team.

Liverpool, Tottenham and Leicester’s recent success is due to the team playing as a team, with players working for one another. At United there is a sense of players playing for themselves instead of for the team.

A lack of pressing and covering for players is a reason the team has struggled so far this season and were smashed 4-0 by Chelsea.

Only Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford have shown any heart for the club, while the likes of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marouane Fellaini play every week but seem to be sponging off the clubs finances.

There is no ‘I’ in team and the quicker Mourinho realises there is no time for individuals, the quicker the success will return to the Theatre of Dreams.

Why Essendon DON’T deserve pick 1

My opinion as to whether Essendon deserve the number one pick has changed as much as Sam Newman’s face.

At the start of the year I supported the idea of Essendon receiving the first pick if they finished last and even opposed David Koch when he spoke out on the matter.

But the more I look at it, the more I disapprove. Essendon cheated and no matter how the club and players sugar coat it, the fact is, the club injected their players with substances, many, which they can not identify, all with the aim to enhance their performances.

Essendon have been poor this season but their on-field woes have nothing to do with list management or a lack of talent.

Take three All-Australian’s and a Brownlow medallist out of any side and you will see a dip in form.

If the Bombers had Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell, Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton, Heath Hocking, Travis Colyer and David Meyers in their side would they finish last?

The answer is a resounding no and we know this because the Bombers have stated that they believe with the return of these players, they will be challenging for the finals next season.

So if Essendon’s struggles this season were due to their best players being banned for cheating then why do they deserve the number one pick ahead of clubs who are truly deplorable?

Brisbane finished the season with three wins and 0.6% off the wooden spoon and, barring injuries they had a full list to choose from. The Lions were terrible this season, evident by an average of over 130 points conceded per game and by the sacking of their coach, Justin Leppitsch.

The Lions are a club in dire need of the best picks possible and ideally need the first pick in the national and preseason draft to rapidly improve their performances.

The last time a club was as bad as the 2016 Brisbane side was in 2009, when Melbourne were given a priority, along with pick one.

Essendon supporters will argue that their club has gone through enough in the past four years and that they had already been punished for their misdemeanour by being banned from the 2013 finals series, while also losing their first and second round draft picks in 2013 and 2014.

The AFL must always be wary when stripping clubs of draft picks and the effects it can have on clubs in the years to come, as Carlton supporters love to point out after being stripped of their picks in 2002.

14 years on and Carlton are still feeling the affects of the suspension, something that the AFL would not want to see repeated with the Bombers.

Essendon have to be treated as a normal club for the benefit of the fans and the greater good of the AFL.

But that does not mean they deserve the best pick in the land to secure the best young talent in Australia and possible a midfield star in Jaeger O’Meara.

In 2013 when Essendon were suspended from the finals series, they automatically finished in ninth spot on the ladder, instead of last, because the AFL did not want to hand the club their first wooden spoon since 1933.

While the club did deserve to play this season without any suppression, the AFL should have determined that the club be given the draft picks handed to the side that finishes ninth.

This ensures that the Bombers receive a decent pick, without hampering the other bottom nine sides who have ended the season wherever the have without the injustice of a club suspension.

Without any compromises from Free Agency compensation, Essendon would receive the ninth best pick.

Some players in the past 10 years who have been selected with pick 9 include; Darcy Moore, Nick Vlastuin, Adam Tomlinson, Dion Prestia, Jack Ziebell, Ben McEvoy and David Armitage.

The amount of talent that has been selected with pick nine shows Essendon would still be able to challenge for finals next season.

And giving Essendon the picks deserving of the ninth place side will let teams like Brisbane receive the picks they deserve.

No matter what Essendon has been through off-field in recent season, they have still played in more finals series than Brisbane, Gold Coast and Melbourne in the past seven years.

Why Pogba’s return signals an end to Sir Alex’s authority

New Years Eve 2011 was meant to be a day of celebration for Manchester United.

United sat atop of the Premier League table and would have remained there if they had defeated bottom placed Blackburn at home, while Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated his 70th birthday.

But for a day that was meant to be a day of celebration turned out to be a disaster for the Red Devils.

United ended up losing the match 2-3, while Ferguson would mark his birthday by making the biggest mistake in his Manchester United reign.

Leading up to the match, United had a midfield injury crisis. Tom Cleverly, Anderson and Ryan Giggs were all injured, while Michael Carrick was forced to play in defence, forcing Ferguson to field winger, Park Ji-sung and right back, Rafael in the centre of midfield.

Usually Ferguson’s manoeuvres pay off but on this day they would not, especially when he failed to promote one of United’s most exciting academy prospects.

Paul Pogba was always a special talent. Whether he was playing in the under 18’s or in the Reserve’s, he was always the star man.

Along with Ravel Morrison, Pogba was tipped to be United’s main man in midfield for the decade that followed.

But instead of allowing Pogba to show his potential against the bottom placed side on the Premier League, Ferguson chose two players unfamiliar with the central midfield position, infuriating Pogba, who made the decision to leave United following this game.

Pogba left United for Juventus at the end of the season in the pursuit of regular first team football.

Pogba’s decision didn’t go down to well with Ferguson and in his book, ‘Leading’, Ferguson discussed Pogba’s exit and the distrust of Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola.

“There are one or two football agents I simply do not like, and Mino Raiola, Paul Pogba’s agent is one of them,” said Ferguson.

“I distrusted him from the moment I met him. He became Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent while he was playing for Ajax, and eventually he would end up representing Pogba, who was only 18-years-old at the time.

“We had Paul under a three-year contract, and it had a one-year renewal option which we were eager to sign. But Raiola suddenly appeared on the scene and our first meeting was a fiasco.

“He and I were like oil and water. From then on, our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to ingratiate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus.”

Ferguson would then go on to say that United were better off parting with Pogba after the disloyalty he showed to the club.

For the years that followed, it did seem Ferguson would be correct and Pogba would never return to the Theatre of Dreams. While there were rumblings of a possible return while Fergusons heirs David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal were in charge, it always seemed a bridge too steep.

Ferguson was and is still on the United board and it seemed the tensions between himself and Pogba would prevent any reunion.

But when the self proclaimed ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho became United’s newest manager, the possibility of Pogba’s return increased.

Mourinho was in line to be Ferguson’s replacement in 2013, but Ferguson, along with fellow board members including Sir Bobby Charlton believed Mourinho was too much of a handful for United and selected David Moyes.

But after three years of disappointment, the much-maligned Executive Vice-Chairman, Ed Woodward selected Mourinho as United manager.

Woodward has been perceived as being easily manipulated into making rash decisions and takes an excessive amount of time to purchase players, who usually are not worth the fee’s United pay form them.

But Woodward’s swift appointment of Mourinho and his desire to purchase players as quickly as possible has seen his stocks rise with the United faithful.

And when it emerge that United were interested in Paul Pogba, fans had little doubt that he would be wearing the famous red kit once again.

With Woodward, Mourinho and Pogba all at United, it seems Ferguson’s stranglehold on United is finally diminishing.

Ferguson will always be a legend of the club and fans will always remember his time as manager, but for the future of the club, it was time to move on and make decisions that Ferguson may not have accepted.

Will the Bulldogs continue to bark?

Tears flowed freely from the faces of Western Bulldogs players. It was not because they were injured, nor was it because they failed to grasp the opportunity to sit outright second on the ladder. The tears flowed for the agony of a wounded teammate, wailing in despair knowing his season is over and the chance to make history all but ended.

With hearts the size of Phar Lap, the Western Bulldogs have been able to warn off any challengers that have come their way. Whether it was the season ending knee injury to skipper, Bob Murphy, the tear of the hamstring to Jason Johannisen or the bust up between teammates, Tom Boyd and Zaine Cordy, the Bulldogs have fought and won every battle, captivating the footballing public in the meantime.

But has the Bulldogs hopes of winning the clubs second ever premiership ended with the single snap of a leg?

Football can sometimes be a cruel game. In 2005 Richmond won seven of their first nine games to sit third on the ladder. During this period, star forward; Nathan Brown was in career best form, featuring predominately in the Coleman medal race, with 32 goals.

But in a cruel blow, Brown suffered a horrific broken leg against Melbourne in Round 10. The injury ended Brown’s season and dented the Tigers hopes of playing finals as the club won only three more games for the season.

This week, Richmond legend, Matthew Richardson admitted that the Brown injury had affected the entire playing group and was one of the reasons for the Tigers slide in form.

It is too early to tell whether Mitch Wallis’s injury will have the same affected as that of Brown’s on the Richmond playing list, but what remains certain is that the Bulldogs have the leadership, mentality and talent to help the club reach success this season.

Led by Dale Morris, Matthew Boyd and Easton Wood, the Bulldogs have leaders who can help the younger members of the squad move through these tough times, by focusing on the task ahead.

As seen after the Murphy injury in Round 3, it has been the young guns such as Marcus Bontempelli, Caleb Daniel and Jake ‘The Package’ Stringer who have taken on the added initiative and have become match winners.

The love shared between the senior coach and his players will also have a positive impact on the Bulldogs premiership push. At this weeks press conference Luke Beveridge fought back tears while discussing Wallis’s injury, showing that he, like his players was affected by the incident but will continue to put on a brave face and focus on what the club can achieve.

We have already seen in 2016 that underachievers can achieve glory through adversary, evident by the Leicester City fairy tale. With a team full of players that have been discarded from big clubs and a coach who has had his reputation tarnished by failing to achieve success with big name teams, the Foxes were able to edge out the billion dollar clubs to win the English Premier League.

The time is right for Bulldogs success and so far the club has ensured they have every chance of winning this years premiership flag. Injuries are a factor that cannot be controlled by the club. But what the Bulldogs can control in winning and that is what will aid them in their quest for success.

The 50 MUST read Roy Keane facts

  1. Oscar Pistorius lost both legs after a Roy Keane tackle
  1. Roy Keane believes clones of Paul Scholes live on Mars, which is why the planet is red.
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Paul Scholes

  1. Zayn Malik quit One Direction after finding out Roy Keane’s daughter had a crush on him.
  1. Santa sits on Roy Keane’s lap and confesses who has been naughty and nice.
  1. Every knock knock joke ends with Roy Keane knocking someone’s teeth out.
  1. Roy Keane always holds up zero fingers. Instead he curls them to make a fist.
  1. Bruce Jenner became a woman after realising he could never be as manly as Roy Keane
  1. The Isle of Man was originally named the Isle of Roy Keane, but because Roy is so manly they decided to name it the Isle of Man.
  1. At school, Roy Keane used to steal brother, Robbie Keane’s lunch money.
  1. Robbie Keane play’s for the LA Galaxy because he wants to live in a galaxy without Roy Keane.
  1. Roy Keane’s parents named him Roy because it was the manliest name they could think of.
  1. Roy is an abbreviation for death.
  1. Roy Keane’s teeth are actually boot studs. When he bites into food it sounds like bones breaking.
  1. There are not enough stars in the sky to match the amount of legs Roy Keane has broken.
  1. Roy Keane can see John Cena.
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John Cena

  1. Roy Keane is fluent in Latin. That means, not only is he stronger then anyone else, he is also smarter.
  1. The only time Roy Keane has ever laughed was when Steven Gerrard slipped.
  1. Roy Keane is Austria’s favourite son and he is not even Austrian.
  1. Roy Keane makes The Rock look like a pebble.
  1. 60% of a male body is comprised of water, while Roy Keane’s body is 100% concrete.
  1. Roy Keane won a staring competition against his own reflection.
  1. Roy Keane will be the wall separating America and Mexico.
  1. Vladimir Putin once introduced himself to Roy Keane. Roy responded with “leave or I will Putin my fist down your throat and rip out your spine.”
  1. Moses could part the red sea, while Roy Keane can part a person’s body.
  1. The only actor mad enough to play Roy Keane is Mel Gibson.
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Enter a caption

  1. When Roy Keane plays Fifa, every button allows him to tackle.
  1. Q. What’s green, as hard as a rock and can kill Superman?

A. Roy Keane

  1. Leprechauns do not make Roy Keane laugh.
  1. Roy Keane is the only person ever to have received a red card in a Foosball match.
  1. While grizzly bear’s hibernate, Roy Keane is hunting salmon to piss off the bears.
  1. Roy Keane know’s what Jehovah witnessed.
  1. Roy Keane received bribery payments from Sepp Blatter to ensure he stops injuring players.
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Sepp ‘Money bags’ Blatter

  1. Jose Mourinho may be known as ‘The Special One’ but Roy Keane is known as ‘The Angry One’.
  1. Just when you thought Roy Keane could not get any scarier, he grew a beard.
  1. Roy Keane can use a man bun as an object of mass destruction.
  1. Roy Keane made Cristiano Ronaldo cry for four weeks by telling him he was ugly.
  1. Wayne Rooney lost his hair after a Roy Keane death stare.
  1. Roy Keane’s beard is made out of Ryan Gigg’s chest hair.
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Ryan Giggs

  1. Michael Jackson turned white after a Roy Keane death stare.
  1. When Roy Keane punches someone in the face, they must apologise for their face making contact with his fist.
  1. Roy Keane eats iPhone’s because he believes they are apples.
  1. Roy Keane makes Lebron James look like a queen.
  1. Otters hold hands when they sleep. Roy Keane holds an opponents severed leg.
  1. Adolf Hitler committed suicide after hearing Roy Keane was planning to slide tackle him.
  1. It is illegal in 48 countries to utter the name ‘Roy Keane’
  1. No one knows why the chicken crossed the road because Roy Keane killed the chicken before it could provide an answer.
  1. Roy Keane came before the chicken and the egg.
  1. Liverpool supporters are told to ‘never walk alone’ because you never know when Roy Keane will slide tackle  you.
  1. Roy Keane has his own RKO, but people are too afraid to make vines about it.
  1. There are 200 corpses on Mount Everest. They were all victims of Roy Keane slide tackles.