Leeds fan Kyle Hulme gives his take on the sorry state of affairs at Elland Road…
In an act that is the culmination of a dark week in the history of Leeds United, Brian McDermott has been sacked as manager of the club, leaving fans angry, bemused and already planning a boycott of future games.
Despite Leeds’ form over the last couple of months, fans have been quick to jump to the defence of the man whom many thought would be the one to bring stability and success back to the club. Yet his dismissal follows a farcical week at the club, in which prospective new owner Massimo Cellino – the current owner of Cagliari – took former Middlesbrough players and current Lumezzane manager Gianluca Festa around Thorpe Arch, the clubs training ground, and even asked if he could sit on the bench during Leeds’ midweek game against Ipswich Town.
Cellino is expected at any moment to secure a 75% stakehold in the club, at a figure rumoured to be around £22m. This is regardless of staunch opposition to the takeover from the vast majority of fans and the Leeds United Supporters Trust. The Italian has convictions of fraud and embezzlement centered around his construction of the Is Arena, which was proposed to be a new stadium for Cagliari, but irregularities surrounding the building of the ground has seen his club play games hundreds of miles away from the city of Cagliari, on mainland Italy. Continue reading →
The editor’s column returns.James Dutton discusses whether David Moyes is learning as a manager, Jose Mourinho’s sale of Juan Mata and Liverpool’s continuing transfer problems…
The semi finals of the League Cup have been the setting for the confirmation of a number of narratives in recent years.
In 2010 Manchester United proved to be a bridge too far, too soon for Roberto Mancini’s upstarts. In 2011 Birmingham City and West Ham United played out an interminable struggle, a dogfight that reflected their relegation credentials. A year later Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool proved their mettle as that season’s cup specialists by seeing off champions-elect Manchester City over two legs.
In years gone by a 9-0 aggregate result between Manchester City and West Ham United would have plumbed the depths of fantasy, but few have batted an eyelid given the obvious gulf in class between the top and bottom of the Premier League in 2013-14.
That one-sided massacre contrasted greatly with the other semi; a titanic struggle between Sunderland and Manchester United, who appeared to be going to great lengths to avoid humiliation against City at Wembley, even at one point struggling to comprehend the point of penalties.
With Juan Mata’s arrival imminent,Jon Wilmore speculates on Wayne Rooney’s future at Old Trafford…
It’s happening – it’s actually happening. But when the initial ecstasy over Juan Mata’s arrival at Manchester United dies down, Moyes and the boys are going to face another question entirely – where on earth do they actually play him?
The question has been raised throughout the media, with nobody quite certain enough to reach a general consensus. United have recent experience of purchasing a star player from a rival whose position was ostensibly not their weakest – a purchase that basically won them the league.
After reluctantly relinquishing the role of star centre forward to Robin van Persie last year, Wayne Rooney has seemed a man renewed in the Dutchman’s absence, thriving up top and again as a number 10 in behind Danny Welbeck. But now, it must happen again. Continue reading →
TFN’s Chris Francis completes his run down of the top 50 players outside the Premier League…
10. Troy Deeney (Watford)
As with many of the Hornets this season, the big centre forward has failed to match last season’s level, but he still remains a remarkably complete package. At his best he can be a snarling, in-your-face threat from inside or outside the box. Needs motivating to keep his workrate honest, but on his day he causes problems.
9. Sam Byram (Leeds)
Cardiff were reportedly quoted £8m for the Leeds youngster in the summer. Byram is a right back who is seen as much in the final third as the first. He is capable of lung-busting runs for a full game, and is a thoroughly modern, adventurous and physical player. Overlaps well, is strong in the tackle and is capable of playing further forward and more centrally. He took a clean sweep of the individual awards at Leeds’ end of season bash. A serious prospect. Continue reading →
TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh believes recent criticism aimed at Jermain Defoe is unfair…
“Live for today, plan for tomorrow, party tonight.”
Say what you like about the quality of the MLS, but the recent criticism aimed at Jermain Defoe for his move to Toronto FC seems somewhat unwarranted. The striker had been phased out at Tottenham, rarely used under Andre Villas-Boas except in the Europa League. He had fallen down the pecking order behind Roberto Soldado and more recently, a rejuvenated Emmanuel Adebayor. While a ‘little and large’ strike partnership in a 4-4-2 seems like the kind of idea that would have new manager Tim Sherwood licking his lips, it would appear that Defoe’s mind had already been made up. Money talks, as does the guarantee of first team football, but it would be crass to assume that Defoe’s move is purely avaricious.
There seems to be significant indignation that Defoe would rather play for Toronto than for another top-flight club in England. But is this ire really justified? Let’s think about which Premier League clubs Defoe would realistically start for. It’s fair to say he would be a squad player at the rest of the top ten, like he is at Spurs. In the bottom half we can assume that he could start at most, if not all. With the greatest respect to Aston Villa, Norwich, West Brom et al., what can they offer Jermain Defoe? At 31, he’s a player who probably wants a new challenge. Is the prospect of a half-season relegation battle really that desirable? Perhaps he could have been reunited with Harry Redknapp at QPR for similar money but this seems no more credible than moving to the MLS. Overall, there’s a semi-nationalistic air of pomposity that playing in the Premier League is the ‘be all and end all’, when it’s really not. Continue reading →
Piers Barber reminisces on some of the most peculiar injury setbacks to have befallen footballers in recent years.
The news that Jose Mourinho somehow managed to sustain a fracture to his elbow after Chelsea’s game with Manchester United last weekend is the latest in a long line of mysteriously bizarre footballing injuries. Indeed, the Beautiful Game is filled with a great canon of weird and wonderful physical misfortunes. Here is our top 10…
10. Phillipe Mexes
Pretty-boy Mexes clearly cares a lot about his appearance, although was clearly guilty of taking the obsession a bit too far last year after he was forced to sit out a game against Celtic after spending too long on a sun bed. His price for a creepy fake bronzed torso was a rather serious eye condition known as central serous retinopathy. Continue reading →
After a year of underachievement,James Dutton wonders where Michael Laudrup’s Swansea are heading…
A year is a long time in football, so the adage goes. It’s a year ago today that Swansea held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium, Eden Hazard kicked a ball-boy and Michael Laudrup led the Welsh club into their first major final.
It was the high-point of Laudrup’s 18 months thus far on the South Welsh coast, culminating in the 5-0 spanking of League 2 Bradford. They won only twice more in the Premier League that season, and have tasted victory only five times in the league this season. Some have called it a sideways step, but the figures paint a picture of regression.
The Swans currently sit 15th in the table, equidistant from both the relegation places and mid-table, but the gap is a mere three points. The season so far has been a tale of slow decline, where they have nestled between 9th and 13th for the majority of it, but now, winless since the beginning of December, they have been sucked into the middle of a relegation battle that is eating up the bottom half of the table.
In the timeframe since their last victory, a 2-1 win at Fulham, media attention has focused on various “crises” at West Ham United and Manchester United. Swansea’s own plight has slipped under the radar, their FA Cup win at Old Trafford brought plenty of plaudits and obscured the reality. Continue reading →