Does he play outside of the Premier League? Never heard of him mate

Ray Wilkins was on Sky Sports this week speaking about Manchester United’s new signing, Benfica defender Victor Lindelöf. Instead of talking up an exciting new prospect, signed by his former club, he chose to highlight how English players like Michael Keane keep getting overlooked. If you missed the Ray Wilkins interview, watch it, its gold. It has just about everything you’d expect from an out of date, football dinosaur.

Wilkins feels that Manchester United should be re-signing Michael Keane rather than going abroad (Image from Tumblr)

Wilkins feels that Manchester United should be re-signing Michael Keane rather than going abroad (Image from Tumblr)

He starts by saying “This guy (Lindelöf) has done nothing”. For the record, Victor Lindelöf has won Primeira Liga three times, three Portuguese cups, and the Under-21 Euros with Sweden, at just 22 years of age. Granted, I didn’t know all this about Lindelöf but it takes 10 seconds to look up such things, also known as basic research. He ends with “Give him (Keane) a chance”, unlike the chance he’s given Lindelöf who has been judged before he has even been officially unveiled. It is at this point I must remind everyone that Keane has already played for United so has had a “chance” and was deemed not good enough. He also has time to have a go at the foreign market for being so expensive, but who in their right mind would sell to Man United on the cheap?

Victor Lindelof - not Wilkins cup of tea (Image from Tumblr)

Victor Lindelof – not Wilkins cup of tea (Image from Tumblr)

When Wilkins was at Chelsea they spent £50m on Fernando Torres, which remains a record at Stamford Bridge to this day, and spent big on David Luiz and Ramires from Benfica (where United are buying Lindelöf from of all places). Oh and before I forget, Wilkins, who was assistant to Carlo Ancelotti for 3 years, signed just one English player in that time.

Ancelotti and Wilkins during their Chelsea days (Image from Tumblr)

Ancelotti and Wilkins during their Chelsea days (Image from Tumblr)

It was the same when Marco Silva joined Hull City and was laughed at in spite of managing in the Champions League and winning several titles. I find it staggering that UK pundits do little or no research. I don’t expect every football talking head to know about every single player the world over, but mate do you Googles. Some of these guys are paid very handsomely and I doubt they watch anything other than the Premier League. In a month spent laughing at politicians for publicly getting their facts and figures wrong, how many pundits know their numbers? How many do simple research? Knowing who the next big thing is from Holland or Brazil could be the difference in getting paid work and a television or writing opportunity could depend on it.

The Chosen One - Marco Silva is wanted by several clubs (Image from Tumblr)

Marco Silva was ridiculed by the British pundits when he arrived in England (Image from Tumblr)

This week, Sky Sports announced their lowest audiences since records began, which makes sense, I mean who pay would listen to this nonsense for £70 a month? The modern fan is very clued up, they crave insight. That’s why Monday Night Football has been such an incredible success. I’d suggest Sky Sports get rid Ray Wilkins, Paul Merson and “the lads” and getting some proper experts in. Hopefully Sky have learned a valuable lesson.Wilkins was rightly mocked on social media as he clearly didn’t know anything about Lindelöf. If he isn’t an expert, why should we tune in?

Post by Tough Tackler – @thetoughtackler (www.toughtackler.co.uk)

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Summer of the Sack as Premier League clubs prepare to wield the axe

This Sunday will draw to a close the latest Premier League season and with it mark the last game in charge for some of its managers. Watford have already announced the Italian boss Walter Mazzari will depart his position in the summer after failing to impress the clubs demanding owners, the Pozzo family. To be fair, the writing has been on the wall for the former Napoli and Inter manager for some time now after some poor results. His tactical mismanagement in certain games and apparent lack of interest in learning English left him floundering in a league where managers are treated by the media as rock stars and expected to be the next messiah. Mazzari unfortunately was neither charismatic nor inspiring and as a direct result dampened any enthusiasm surrounding Watford from day one.

Confirmed - Mazzari will leave Watford at the end of the season (Image from Tumblr)

Confirmed – Mazzari will leave Watford at the end of the season (Image from Tumblr)

Hot favourite to replace Mazzari at Watford is Marco Silva, the unknown manager parachuted into Hull mid season to rescue them from impending relegation. The critics scoffed at the appointment stating that the job should have gone to someone with Premier League experience like Nigel Pearson or Ryan Giggs (seriously they did) but Silva pushed through and quickly won them over by “transforming” Hull into a team who could actually compete on the pitch with cup wins over Swansea and Manchester United in the FA Cup and League Cup respectively within his first 30 days. However he couldn’t quite replicate that form enough in the league managing only 6 wins and 3 draws over the next 17 games leading up to this Sunday’s clash with Tottenham. Hull’s relegation has been confirmed but despite this Silva has gained what a lot of managers crave – a positive Premier League reputation and will now have the pick of a few jobs on offer.

The Chosen One - Marco Silva is wanted by several clubs (Image from Tumblr)

The Chosen One – Marco Silva is wanted by several clubs (Image from Tumblr)

Watford may be in the driving seat now but they could easily be pushed to the hard shoulder by West Ham if they decide to end Slaven Bilic’s time in charge. The former Croatia manager has endured a less than exciting second season as Hammers boss and could be given his marching orders after the clash with Burnley on Sunday. Despite finishing an impressive seventh last season and collecting the clubs highest points total (62) along the way, Bilic’s team has often looked rudderless this year much to his obvious frustration. You can point to a variety of factors including a stadium move that has proven more troublesome than beneficial, the departure of their star player Dimitri Payet after a much lengthy wrangle and the failure of some of his key summer signings to integrate into Bilics preferred tactical style but ultimately not all is right with West Ham. There is something underlying at the London Stadium (and its not the ancient curse that Simon Jordan said was haunting West Ham for moving there). Perhaps its the elevated visions of grandeur that the owners have after last years successes or the inability to play in a stadium that lacks atmosphere (take note spurs who look forward to the same at Wembley next season). Either way things don’t look promising for Bilic,

Bilic shares a moment with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in one of his happier moments in charge of West Ham this season (image from Tumblr)

Bilic shares a moment with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in one of his happier moments in charge of West Ham this season (image from Tumblr)

Also on borrowed time is Claude Puel at Southampton who like Bilic is suffering from bloated expectations from above. Having finished sixth under Ronald Koeman last season, Puel was hired on the basis that he would build upon this and continue the clubs upward trajectory. Things haven’t quite turned out that way despite what some would consider a half decent season – likely an 8th placed finish and an a League cup final appearance where they pushed Manchester United all the way in a thrilling game. Despite this, Puel looks like he may be relieved of his duties after only one season in favour of a fresh pair of eyes. If he is it will be a disappointing decision as a majority of Southampton’s misgivings this year were set in motion before he started at the end of June 2016. The sale of Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane weeks before he arrived and Graziano Pelle just twelve days after he started ripped the core nucleus of the team that had been so successful the season before. Puel’s side never recovered and the results on the pitch have reflected this – more defeats than wins, just over a quarter of all PL games drawn, higher goals conceded than scored  all paints a bad picture for the French coach.

 

Puel was caught off guard by the ball and by life in the Premier League it would seem (Image from Tumblr)

Puel was caught off guard by the ball and by life in the Premier League it would seem (Image from Tumblr)

There are also question marks over the futures of Middlesbrough’s caretaker boss Steve Agnew who is unlikely to get the post full time after their relegation, Stoke’s Mark Hughes who has overseen the decline of the Potters this year with a 14th place finish their lowest since the 2011-2012 season and Arsene Wenger who despite a spirited end of season revival which has given Arsenal a fighting chance of a Champions League spot is still under pressure to leave from a large cross section of the Gunners faithful. There are even some calling for Jose Mourinho to go after a dismal 6th placed finish but a League Cup win and a Europa League final appearance against Ajax which should end in them lifting that trophy too should ensure the Special One gets another bite at the cherry at United.

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Are Hull Selling Away Their Survival Hopes?

Hull City are right in the middle of a battle to stay in the Premier League and ultimately do not want to get relegated back down to the Championship. They currently sit in 19th place, winning only four games all season and are only one point above bottom placed Sunderland, so you would think that they want to keep their best players in order to stay in the league. Well it doesn’t look like that.
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Hull’s new head coach has a difficult challenge ahead of him – keeping Hull in the Premier League (Image from Tumblr)

They recently sold their best central midfielder Jake Livermore to West Brom for £10m. Their head coach Marco Silva said to Sky Sports News “It was important to get the funds”. However so far they have not really done anything with those funds, if they want the funds to buy new players to boost their survival hopes you would think that they would spend it to replace Livermore, but they haven’t. Yes they have bought in a couple of players on loan, but no one to fill Livermore’s position. You would have thought that central midfield would have been the first position they would have got someone in. They are more focusing on attacking players, such as Markovic and Niasse, but they need to stop conceding goals as well as trying to score more. It does not seem like a good move to sell arguably your best player when you are fighting for survival.
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Selling Jake Livermore without having a replacement lined up seems to be a strange decision by Hull (Image from Tumblr)

Hull are also on the brink of selling winger Robert Snodgrass as they have accepted bids from West Ham and Burnley in the region of £10m. He has been vital for Hull and has been their stand out player so far, which is why so many clubs have been eyeing him up.  With Hull activating a clause in Snodgrass’s contract to keep him at the club until 2018, they don’t need to sell him at this point in the season, especially with him being their biggest hope of survival. It just all seems a bit confusing when they are fighting to stay in the Premier League. Snodgrass is Hulls top goal scorer at the moment with nine goals and is definitely Hulls biggest attacking threat through crosses and scoring goals.
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Arguably Hull’s best player Robert Snodgrass could also be heading out of the exit door (Image from Tumblr)

One very good move by Hull is attempting to sign Genks Leon Bailey who has shone in the Belgian League and has attracted interest from a string of top European clubs. So if Hull were able to sign him then it could be a huge boost for them, especially with the likes of Livermore and now potentially Snodgrass leaving. Hull have a huge challenge on their hands and we will see if they manage to conquer that challenge or if it will just fall beneath their feet.
Post by Luke Calver ( https://setpiecestories.wordpress.com/ ) @SetPieceStories
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