Why Sam? Why?

Sam Allardyce lost his job as the England manager after just 67 days in charge. He leaves after being at the helm for 1 game, quite extraordinary.

Allardyce and the FA partied company after a newspaper sting recorded him openly discussing ways to get around the ban on 3rd party ownership of players, chasing 400k pounds for guest appearances, making fun of the previous manager, criticizing his employers on their project management when rebuilding the national stadium and also having a dig at Royalty and the role they play in the FA.

Did it all really warrant the guy losing his job?

As much as I think the FA are far from perfect I believe in this instance they had no option but to relieve Allardyce of his duties. The FA see themselves as the governors of the beautiful game and want to be seen as whiter than white. They value their reputation and want no scandals. Allardyce was filmed advising on loopholes for a rule implemented by the FA to stop 3rd party ownership of players. To also be filmed speaking derogatively about your employers with regard to money matters and then about the Royal family who have ties to the FA meant there could be no reconciliation and they had to let him go.

Over the past 30 years the role of England football manager has become one of the most scrutinized jobs outside of politics. The press in the UK have relentlessly targeted the national team boss, delving into his private life, the private lives of his family and at times crucified them with regards to football (warranted at times!). The pressure within that job must be unbearable at times and those who take it on are very brave, although getting a few million quid a year will probably ease the pain.

Sam Allardyce knew all this but the England manager job was his dream role. He’d waited his whole career for this, all those years battling to save relegation at club level had paid off and it was his chance to shine for his country as a manager. He believed he could be the one to end the 50 years of hurt. The smile on his face during his unveiling was great to see, a man who had fulfilled his dream.

So why oh why did he put himself in the situation to be stung??? I think we are all baffled by his judgement. He was earning 3 million pounds a year as England manager, he’d been a premier league manager for over 10 years, he is a very wealthy man. So why chase 400k for doing a guest appearance for a foreign firm (fictitiously created by the newspaper). It must just be pure greed. It has to be. The press have no morals but they will say their job is to uncover corruption, although to be fair Allardyce did say he would have to discuss any payment given with the FA so there was no corruption unveiled just downright stupidity in being so loose tongued with strangers when you have such a high-profile job.

Big Sam has some history though with regard to scandals. Both he and his son were accused of taking transfer “bungs” during the mid 2000’s, an accusation that Allardyce denies. I think after this current debacle we could be forgiven for suspecting that the 2006 accusations might have some truth in them.

Reports suggest he has received a 7 figure pay off which is remarkable for losing your job due to your own stupidity and 67 days work so I can’t have too much sympathy for him really.

Is Sam a big loss to the national team? Probably not. The game he managed against Slovakia was same old same old so I didn’t really envisage a footballing revolution during his reign, although the FA did state that he had brought an enthusiasm to the team off the field and during training that had not been see in a long time.

Who takes over? Well it looks like as long as Gareth Southgate doesn’t lose every game during his 4 game “trial” he should get the job. He fits the bill after “Sam gate” in that he’s a good guy with no dodgy history and will probably go along with what the FA wants. To be fair he’s also a young manager who has done all his top coaching badges and overseen the U21’s for a while and done well so why not give him a chance. I’d like to see someone like Glenn Hoddle come in as an adviser to Southgate. Hoddle’s footballing philosophy fits international football better than club football. I honestly believe that if he hadn’t been fired for his religious beliefs in the late 90’s England may well have won an international tournament by now so being alongside Southgate might prove a masterstroke but will the FA bring in someone they once fired? Probably not.

I believe England currently have some very talented young players who if managed correctly could do well for the national side over the next few tournaments.

Pity for Big Sam that he won’t be there to oversee it but his stupidity cost him that privilege.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canelo v Golovkin…..who would win?

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez v Gennady “GGG” Golovkin…………………will they ever fight? if so who wins?

I’ll let you know what I think the answers to those questions are at the end of the blog.

I watched Canelo beat England’s Liam Smith the other week in Dallas via PPV. I was impressed with his performance. I thought Smith fought a great fight and never took a backward step but Canelo moved really well and didn’t waste too many punches. He slipped a lot of inside shots that Smith tried to get through with and countered very well indeed. I’ve watched Canelo fight many times and I’ve not been that taken aback by how brilliant he was. Sure he always hit hard and had a great chin but in a way I think we may have been conned by him and his team.

At the moment he’s basically a super middleweight (and very close to light heavyweight) fighting light middleweight. Rumors persist that on fight night he’s weighing in at around 180lbs, 26lbs over the weigh in limit at Light middleweight!!!Some of his recent opponents will be 20lbs lighter or more when the bell goes. That’s ridiculous but under the current rules it’s legal and Canelo and his team are taking full advantage of the mockery that is boxing weights.

Watching him fight Smith it was just plain to see that Canelo was miles bigger than Smith, this massive size advantage gives him more punch power and also allows him to take punches better. Smith caught him with some decent shots and Canelo never flinched which eventually broke Smith’s heart and from the 6th onwards it was all one way traffic.

He’s fought at middleweight but now seems happy weighing in against the smaller fella’s to make him appear to be invincible, which at the moment he does. His only loss came against the genius of Mayweather who boxed him to death at light middleweight.

So comes the question of whether he will ever take the risk of fighting Gennady Golovkin.

I don’t think Canelo wants to fight GGG but I think he’ll have to.

He’s happy to keep the gravy train running while fighting the little guys who are moving up. 50,000 watched the fight in the Cowboys stadium against Smith with 100m others watching on TV, mostly all Mexicans. He’s making a lot of money while not taking big risks (although for me anyone getting into a boxing ring is taking a big risk!).

Golovkin didn’t look at his best in beating Kell Brook but still showed glimpses of the incredible power he has which is scaring the heck out of Canelo!

If they do meet who do I think will win?

If they were both guaranteed to weigh in at no more than 165lbs then I would go for Golovkin but Canelo will fight at 180lbs or more and that will mean the thunderous power of GGG might not have the same effect it’s been having on fighters coming in at 165lbs or less when the bell goes. Obviously GGG may opt to pile on more weight to gain even more power but this will slow him down and this won’t do him any favors as he already appears ponderous at times.

Therefore I’d go for a Canelo points victory. I believe both men will be able to absorb their opponents shots and Canelo being the slightly slicker boxer will sneak a win.

Let me know what you think would happen.

Broady

Preview: Chelsea v Liverpool

Friday gives us another mouthwatering Premier League fixture. Both Chelsea and Liverpool have been scoring goals so it should be an entertaining game.

My top 4 at the start of the season was as follows:

1: Man City 2: Chelsea 3: Spurs 4: Liverpool

From what I’ve seen so far I think Chelsea will be the only side to really challenge City for the title.

I believe Antonio Conte is a fantastic manager. His record at Juve speaks for itself but it was also the way he had the Italian national side playing the Euros that made you realize that Chelsea were getting someone right from the top drawer.

Kante was a great signing and Diego Costa looks sharp again this season and if he stays fit will get 20 + goals which could take Chelsea close to winning the title again.

I might be one of the few who thinks signing back David Luiz could turn out to be an inspired decision. Sure he has a mistake in him but he’s also a very talented footballer and if Conte decides to switch to a back 3 it means Kante can sit deep and allow Luiz to bring the ball out and start attacks.

The team Conte has been putting out is, baring one or 2, basically the same team that produced the worst defense of a Premier League crown in history. He’s brought in a freshness to the club and shook up some of the big names and got them playing again.

Onto Liverpool and what performance it was at the weekend against the champions Leicester City. Well I say what a performance but I should really be more granular, it was a great performance going forward. Liverpool’s pace and movement was at times breathtaking. Saido Mane, Firminho, Lallana and Sturridge were unplayable. Defensively they were still a little uncertain and on another day Leicester could have scored 3 or 4 but Matip does look a lad who has class and given time might be a defender in the mould of a Alan Hansen or Phil Thompson, he’s got the same type of build. I don’t think you can win a title with your 2 left backs being James Milner and Alberto Moreno though so top 4 is the best I see Liverpool doing.

Jordan Henderson has started the season well and Adam Lallana has been a revelation since Jurgen Klopp took over, his goal against Leicester was great strike.

Daniel Sturridge had his best game for a long time. Questions have been asked as to whether or not he still has the hunger and desire to play week in week out. He looked sharp and wanted the ball, he also made some great runs that took the defenders out and allowed Mane to run into acres of space. It was very encouraging for both Liverpool and England.

Apart from the debacle at Burnley it’s been a good start for the redmen picking up 7 points from 4 games with 3 of those being very tough fixtures.

Like I said I’m anticipating an exciting encounter at Stamford Bridge.

Broady’s prediction: 2-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilshere epitomises the English mentality

When Jack Wilshere signed for Bournemouth it was a surprise to most. At first glance I thought, yeah he’s looking for regular first team football and should be the first name on the team sheet at Bournemouth if he’s fit so this gives him the best chance of getting back into the England setup.

But then on reflection I came to the conclusion that it was a cop out and epitomizes the mentality of an English professional footballer.

Wilshere had the opportunity to sign for Roma or AC Milan, these aren’t little Italian clubs, these are giants of European football. Even when fit he would’ve had to have performed week in week out to get in the team at both clubs. Roma are always challenging for silverware and while Milan have dropped somewhat over the past decade they are still a massive club with worldwide exposure.

Why are English footballers so reluctant to play abroad? The majority choose to stay in the comfort zone of the Premier League. I honestly believe that if Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes would have gone to play for a European giant for a period of their careers they would have become even better players. They would’ve had to fine tune their game to adapt to another playing style which would have benefited the English national team also. I understand some guys just don’t want to up sticks and move their families abroad away from family and friends but come on, these are millionaires who could fly their families in every other week and Europe isn’t a big place with regard to air travel. A sportsman’s career is short and can be ended at any time due to injury therefore why not take on a challenge even if just for a short time and go test yourself at a top European club?

Italians have always been reluctant to play abroad but they have the excuse of the fact that the Italian national team has still won World Cups and got to European Championship finals so the players staying at home hasn’t really affected the national team’s ability to challenge. England don’t have that excuse. We have reached 2 semi finals since 1966 which is an appalling record. If some of our top players had played abroad for just a small amount of time I’m sure the national team would’ve seen the benefit.

The reluctance of English players to play abroad makes me ask the question……is it basically down to the fact that they aren’t good enough and wouldn’t be able to adapt to other styles of play? Maybe that is the case but as it stands we as the public and the players themselves will never know!

 

Euro 2016

It’s finally here!!! The European Championships start today in France and it should be a fantastic tournament. I probably won’t speak to my wife for just over a month now which she’s probably happy about! On a personal note I’m really excited as my son is now 8 and loves his football and this is the first tournament that he’ll be really into which I’m excited about.

With UEFA extending the number of teams from 16 to 24 we as fans get more games but will it be to the detriment of the Euros quality wise? It could be. I always thought the Euros were actually better than the World Cup as you had 8 then 16 outstanding European teams competing whereas now with 24 there are some “lesser” teams involved which is great for those countries fans but might mean there are one or 2 heavier defeats for teams and more predictable results than in previous Euros.

With the tournament being held in France, security is a concern. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris last year there has always been a concern that something might happen during this football tournament. The French security authorities are doing everything they can to minimize the risk but unfortunately the risk factor can never be zero so the fans travelling to France need to be vigilant. French authorities have told local restaurants and bars not to show games on TV so that they get all the fans in one place within the designated Fanzones which will then be easier to secure. My concern, especially with some of the idiotic England fans is that they get drunk and think they can take on 10 men even with machine guns and so end up in very vulnerable situations. Surely even the football dunces can grasp the fact that its not other football hooligans they need to worry about but potential terrorists who won’t just sing songs back at them! If the fans listen to the Authorities they will be ok.

Back to football matters and I don’t really feel there is an outstanding team in the tournament. There are some very good sides but not one you could say was in the class of France 2000 or Spain 2012.

I personally believe only 3 teams have a chance of winning it though. France, Germany and Belgium. I don’t think Spain or Italy can win it despite being great tournament teams.

France being at home are my favorites for the title. I don’t think they are a fantastic side but in Pogba, Griezmann and Lloris they have 3 world class players and a bunch of very very good players. They aren’t the greatest defensively but with the home support I believe they will be lifting the trophy in Paris in July.

If France and Germany avoid each other in the knock out stages then they would be my 2 finalists.

Germany are obviously the World Champions and have some fantastic players but they haven’t been great since the world cup. Having said that the Germans are one of the greatest tournament teams in football history so regardless of qualifying or friendly results I think we’ll see a strong German showing again.

Belgium are a strange outfit. They probably have on paper the strongest squad in European football but they appear to find it difficult to gel as a team. I was disappointed with them in the last World Cup and they have been a bit iffy in the friendlies leading up to this tournament. Vincent Kompany will be a big miss for them but the squad is still pretty formidable. If they can click as a team then they have a real chance of winning it. In Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne they have 2 match winning talents. I think they’ll make at least the semi finals.

The holders, Spain, are nowhere near what they were 4 years ago when they were hailed as the greatest international team the world has ever seen. I always believed that Xavi was the main man and now he has retired there is a big hole to fill. Del Bosque has left some big names out of the squad and selected some young up and coming talent especially in midfield but I think this tournament will come 4 years too soon for them and I see them making the semi finals at best.

Of the others, I don’t think Italy and Portugal are as strong as they used to be but will still make the knock out stages.

England? Quarter finals at best again I’m afraid. I see a lot of pundits getting excited about England’s chances of winning it. Yes they have some exciting players especially up front but with a dodgy defense and a so so midfield I don’t think they have a chance of lifting the trophy. If Roy Hodgson gives up on his obsession with accommodating Wayne Rooney then England may have a chance of the semi finals. The formation he selected against Portugal was just bizarre and at one point Kane and Vardy were playing like wing backs just to be able to play Rooney as the striker. I would leave Rooney out. Kane or/and Vardy have to be the main strikers this tournament. I don’t think Rooney is good enough to play midfield at an international tournament and is only slightly better in the number 10 role just behind a striker. Rooney for me is a striker and that’s the only position he can play and we have better options in that position. Do I think he will leave Rooney out? Not a chance and that’s why I don’t see England going beyond the quarters, in fact I can see a last 16 exit if the team revolves around Rooney.

It’s great to see Wales and Northern Ireland back in there and with the Republic of Ireland qualifying it was almost a full house of UK and Irish teams but unfortunately (I say that with a massive tongue in my cheek!) Scotland let the side down and bombed out!

Surprise package? I’m going for Slovakia, they have some solid players and added into that is the brilliant Marek Hamsik who can change a game. Not saying they are going to win it but I think they could produce a shock result or 2 which might be bad news for England and Wales. Having said that if Wales can keep it tight then I also see them producing a shock due to the magic of Gareth Bale. What at first glance seemed a pretty easy group for England I suddenly see as slightly “iffy”.

Star players? I see 3 guys who could well light up the tournament. Antoine Griezmann, Kevin De Bruyne and Anthony Martial. I think the best player in the tournament is Gareth Bale and if he clicks for Wales then anything can happen provided they keep it tight at the back but that might prove difficult.

Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously in the Portugal squad but he’s been struggling with injuries lately and even though he scored the winning penalty, he didn’t look himself during last months Champions League final. He still scores lots of goals but is becoming less of a threat outside the box. He’s an all time great and if he’s 100% fit then he might do something special as I think this will be the last major tournament we will see him in at anything like his peak.

All in all I think it promises to be a tournament to remember for all the right reasons. Football really is the beautiful game and these major tournaments are so special that I feel like a kid again waiting for it to kick off.

Enjoy guys!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest

Muhammad Ali passed away on Friday at the age of 74.

I was watching TV when there was a news flash that interrupted the TV show. I’d read a couple of hours earlier that Ali had been admitted to a hospital with breathing problems so for some reason I just knew what was coming in the news flash but when the newsreader said the words “Muhammad Ali is dead at 74” it didn’t quite register.

A couple of moments later I could feel my eyes filling up with tears when the magnitude of the news hit me. The world had lost one of it’s biggest ever icons. All of a sudden the world had changed. It might sound dramatic but that’s how it felt to me.

Ali will leave behind an incredible legacy. He was the greatest sportsman the world has ever seen. He was an amazing athlete, but he also had charisma, looks, humor, incredible self belief, immense courage and an unparalleled will to succeed.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr he would later convert to Islam and change his name to Muhammad Ali.

Outside of the ring he was a man of conviction and incredible courage even though some of his views during the 60’s and 70’s were controversial and divided opinion. He did inspire Americans to rethink their views on the Vietnam war after refusing to serve in the American Military during the conflict as he believed the war was unjust. The Authorities actually sentenced him to 5 years in prison. The sentence was revoked but he was banned from boxing between 1967 and 1970. Because of this the world missed out on seeing Ali box during what would’ve been his prime but when asked in later life if he would change anything he said he wouldn’t. His views and beliefs mellowed somewhat with age and he became by all accounts the most generous and loving man you could wish to meet. They say he would treat a beggar with the same respect that he would show to a monarch. He was just a very special human being of the likes we might never see again.

As a boxer he was sensational. For a big man he had incredibly fast feet and hands and very rarely wasted a punch. He had a granite chin and the heart of a lion. Technically he wasn’t text book. He had low hands, didn’t plant his feet to gain power and was susceptible to a left hook but that’s just semantics, the man was simply brilliant. He was also one the first to use “mind games” in sport to upset his opponents in the build up to fights. He would make some fighters so angry via verbal taunts in the lead up that they would literally abandon their game plan and thus lose the fight.

An Olympic gold medalist in 1960, he first fought for the Heavyweight title as a 22 year old Cassius Clay when he defeated the seemingly unbeatable Sonny Liston. In his own words “he shook up the world” and would continue to shake it up for years to come.

Despite the lost years from 67-70 he still became the first 3 time Heavyweight champion of the world. The 3 fights with Joe Frazier were legendary with Ali winning the trilogy 2-1 but perhaps the most famous of Ali’s fights was the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” when he fought George Foreman in Zaire. Foreman was deemed unbeatable just like Sonny Liston had been 10 years earlier but while the rest of the world believed this, Ali didn’t. He got inside Foreman’s head in the lead up to the fight and then during the fight he adopted the so called “Rope a dope” where he sat on the ropes for 7 and a half rounds and let Foreman literally tire himself out before unleashing a flurry of counter punches which knocked Foreman out in the 8th round.

He should have retired after the foreman fight but he enjoyed the fight game too much and so carried on another 7 years. During those 7 years there were some good performances but Ali was never quite the same and the world watched on in sadness when he fought the brilliant Larry Holmes in 1981. I can remember watching it on TV with my dad and asking if this is the great Muhammad Ali because he was getting battered. His reflexes had gone and he took too many punches that day despite Holmes not unleashing his full repertoire that I think he would have on any other fighter. Ali was Holmes’ hero and it must have been hard for him but he had a job to do so can’t be blamed.

Parkinson’s was diagnosed in 1984 and every subsequent TV appearance would show the degenerative disease getting worse and worse as the years passed on.

In 1996 Ali emerged in the Olympic stadium in Atlanta to light the Olympic torch. It was a moment that will go down in history and I’m pretty sure every person who witnessed that moment either in the stadium or watching on TV shed a tear or two as the great man completed his task despite shaking badly due to his disease.

The last time he was seen on the world stage at a major sporting event was the 2012 London Olympics where he appeared very frail.

Doctors have said his final year was a tough one for Ali.

I feel privileged to have lived at a time that he did. To have actually seen Ali fight would’ve been a life highlight. My Uncle Bill actually went with a group from Barnsley to watch the “Fight of the Century” between Ali and Frazier at Madison Square Garden in 1971! What an experience that must have been. I’ve always looked at Uncle Bill in awe thinking that he actually saw Ali fight!

Ali was the most famous person in the world for 5 and a half decades. Every village, town and city across the world will have heard of Muhammad Ali.

His words and actions will continue to inspire future generations. I’ve already got a picture of him with a quote on it that I will be printing off and pinning to both my sons’ bedroom walls to inspire them as they grow up.

He will be remembered forever as simply The Greatest.

Fly high Ali.

What is your greatest Ali memory?

 

 

 

 

Magnificent Murray

So Andy Murray gets to yet another grand slam final!!!

A wonderful achievement from the Scot as the clay of Roland Garros is a long way from being his favorite surface.

In easily defeating the defending champion Stan Wawrinka in 4 sets, Murray again showed the world that he is one of the greatest players to have played the game and certainly the greatest British tennis player of all time.

The 2016 French Open final will be Murray’s 10th grand slam final!! That is a fantastic record, the only downside is that Murray has played in an era that has included 3 of the top 10 players of all time.

Murray is like marmite, you either love or you hate him. I’ve never fully understood why anyone could hate him though. I see Murray as just an introverted bloke who just wants to play the game he is very very good at. Granted he’s a bit grumpy on court sometimes but that’s just because he’s such a fierce competitor and doesn’t like losing. He isn’t cocky and shows his opponents a lot of respect off the court. He might lack the charisma that the public seem to expect from our sportsmen and women but that’s the public’s problem as Murray is a tennis player and that’s all he wants to be. I’m a Murray fan and I enjoy watching the guy play. He’s a fantastic counter attacking tennis player capable of some breath taking shots in big games. He’s also a great athlete and rarely gets aced even by the big servers.

The final will be the 7th time Murray has faced Novak Djokovic in a grand slam final, winning only 2. Djokovic is arguably the best athlete tennis has ever seen and just seems to grind opponents into submission but Murray is improving even at 29 and this will be a close game.

Clay isn’t Novak’s favorite surface either so I’m going for an upset and for Murray to claim a surprise French Open title in a 5 set thriller.

Premier League Review

So baring the re-arranged Man Utd v Bournemouth fixture, another Premier League campaign bites the dust.

To say it’s been epic would be an understatement. Sure some will say the actual quality has been lacking but I think that can only be aimed at the so called big guns. Most other clubs have improved greatly and played decent football, so is it a case of the big guns just playing the same while so called smaller clubs improve and show less fear? I actually think it is and I believe we’ll keep seeing new members of the top 4 appearing almost every season going forward.

Leicester winning the title will change sport as whole, not just football. This might sound dramatic but whenever an individual or a team are struggling or thrown to the scrap heap they will be reminded of the Leicester story and how a bunch of bargain basement and rejected players collectively pushed each other to heights they didn’t know existed. Teenagers released by clubs will think of the Jamie Vardy story and not give up on their dreams. Players in their 30’s being told they are past it will think of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. Established pro’s who are released by big clubs will remain positive and think of Danny Drinkwater and how he became a 10 times better player away from Manchester Utd. Managers will be inspired by Claudio Ranieri and how he truly concentrated on creating a “TEAM” in which each and every squad player knew their role and didn’t deviate.

I believe if Ranieri can convince this team to stay together then there is no reason why they can’t be pushing for a top 4 place again next year and actually perform respectively in the Champions League next season. I think Leicester are still vastly underrated despite winning the title by 10 points. They have been amazing and their story will be told for generations to come.

Others that showed great progress are Spurs, West Ham and Southampton.

Spurs capitulated after the 2-2 draw at Chelsea which ended their title hopes but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that they were in the title race almost to the end and played some fantastic football along the way. They have a top class manager in Pochettino and some of the most exciting players in the Premier league. Harry Kane and Dele Alli were brilliant along with Moussa Dembele and Erik Dier. If fact you could go through most of the Spurs team and give praise for an outstanding season.

West Ham were a bit up and down at the end but maybe the emotion of leaving the Boelyn ground caught up with them but they still had a shout of a champions league spot towards the last few games which shows they had a season to be proud of and they also played some very attractive football. Dimitri Payet was outstanding and made a mockery of his 10m transfer fee. He deservedly got back in the French squad and is a player I look forward to watching in the Euros.

Southampton came up the league like a bat out of hell after Christmas. Everyone knew they had some good players but before Christmas they were struggling. Since then only the Champions have better form and if the season was another 6 games they could well have finished in the top 4. If they can keep hold of Ronald Koeman as manager then they could well be one of those so called smaller clubs pushing for a top 4 place over the next couple of seasons.

So what of the “Big Guns”? Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea.

Arsenal achieved their highest finish since 2005 so can it be classed as a successful season? Most say no as they believe the title was there for the taking but I disagree with that as I see Leicester as an outstanding side who are worthy champions. Would Arsenal have been closer to them if Wenger had signed some outfield players in the summer transfer window? Maybe but they would had to have been of a different make up to the usual suspects Wenger goes for (Sanchez aside) who are pretty to watch but ultimately don’t have the fight to win titles. Wenger has to change the characteristics of the players he signs otherwise I don’t see them winning a title for a long time.

Jurgen Klopp has definitely improved Liverpool and got certain players to finally look the part but lets not kid ourselves that an eighth place finish is anywhere near good enough. The Europa League became a priority but that is still no excuse for such a poor placed finish. Having said that I believe Klopp is the best thing to happen to Liverpool for a long long time and with a few signings this summer I see them challenging for the title over the coming seasons.

Louis Van Gaal has taken some stick this season due to his rigid style of play but if they win the re-arranged game against Bournemouth and triumph in the FA Cup Final against Palace they could end the season with a 5th place finish and a trophy which might appease some fans. I have the feeling the Utd board do not want to change the manager again so if LVG can get his hands on the FA Cup I see him still being in the managers seat next season. Do I see them as title challengers? No, the fear factor has gone from Old Trafford and might not return for a long time. Since Ferguson’s departure they have signed some big name players but they still haven’t challenged for the big honors as teams don’t fear them anymore. It could be a good few years before they are champions again.

With regard to Manchester City, I actually disagree with a lot of the pundits who blame the club and Pep guardiola for the clubs poor form following the announcement in February that Manuel Pelligrini would be leaving the club in the summer. Pelligrini has won a title and a couple of cups in his time there but I look at some of the signings he’s made and he has to take some of the blame for his team not really challenging for the title 2 seasons running. The 2 center halves he signed, Mangala and Otamendi for a combined 70m pounds beggars belief. You then add in Fenando and Fernandinho and you have 120m pounds spent on pretty much run of the mill players. I think Rahim Sterling has talent but following his 49m move from Liverpool you can’t really say he has been a success can you? Despite that City still have a few match winners in Aguero and De Bruyne so under Pep, City will be close to the title next season.

As for Chelsea? What a disastrous campaign. The worst defense of the title in Premier League history. What went wrong? Obviously the players stopped playing for Mourinho which resulted in his sacking in November. Gus Hiddink returning to the hot seat did see them become harder to beat but they were still a million miles from the team who strolled to the title the previous season. Antonio Conte will come in in July and stamp his mark straight away. Some will be off loaded and I’m sure he’ll make some signings, although with no European football next season it could make his effort to attract the really big names very difficult indeed. I still expect them to be title contenders next season.

Of the relegated teams I can see all 3 challenging to come straight back up.

If Newcastle had sacked Steve McLaren and got Benitez in earlier they would have stayed up. Toon went the last 6 games unbeaten and will be desperate to persuade Rafa to stay on and hope it’s just one campaign in the Championship.

Aston Villa were awful and their fans will be fearful of them becoming another Leeds Utd and never getting back up but a club of Villa’s size and stature will still be able to attract the quality of player they need for life in the Championship so I do see them returning sooner rather than later.

Norwich are a Premier League YoYo club so will keep a good nucleus of the squad that played this season and will more than likely make at least the play offs next season in the Championship.

Leicester becoming champions has been the greatest story in Premier League history and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching them. They made sure that the 2015/2016 season is one that will never ever be forgotten.