Sunday, 8 November 2015

Jo Mo's Lost his Mojo [picture]

What is it that makes the Special one so special? What are the ingredients that have made a recipe for success that has seen Jose Mourinho keep winning almost relentlessly year after year in his glittering trophy laden career? Whatever it is, it seems to have got up and left him this season, with little sign of return.

The aura of invincibility has evaporated from Mourinho and his side, to the extent that this weekend's game against the Potter's was no longer a routine victory and instead was the third Premier League defeat in a row for the Blues.

Chelsea captain John Terry has spoken in the past of Mourinho's ability to unite a team, stating 'He is a master motivator who makes us feel superior.' Keeper Asmir Begovic has also championed Mourinho's quality, stating: 'We are behind the manager you can see that from our performances. We think he is the right man and someone we work hard for. His spirit and his presence is always there. We wanted to get a result for him.'

Kurt Zouma stated after the Stoke defeat: '“We have to keep him, we have to. I don’t think the dressing room has abandoned him. On the level of performances, it is not like last year for sure. But mentally we are still all together, we are a group. The coach has always been behind us and we are behind him just like the supporters are. I think that is still the same situation. It is bizarre because last season we finished as champions and three months later we have started badly. Maybe we were relaxed mentally too much. In the last few matches we have played better and then we were unlucky but the confidence is still there.

However there has been talk of unrest within the Chelsea squad and its easy to see how a divisive character like Mourinho could cause contentions within his team, especially given the erratic and spiky mood the Special One has shown this season.

Jose still appears to have the backing of his team and the Chelsea fans, but Roman Abramovich is not known for his tolerance for failure. Can Jose refind his mojo before the axe comes a-swinging?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Christiano Ronaldo: The Incredible Sulk [picture]

It's not easy being the worlds greatest footballer (except Messi). All the money, the
women, the trophies and personal honours still don't guarantee happiness. Not if you're Christiano Ronaldo anyway. The former Manchester United star is in the midst of one of his trademark strops and few are being spared his wrath.

After a blistering start to the season in which he scored 25 goal in 14 league games, Ronaldo's form has taken a downward turn which has seen his Real Madrid team concede the lead in the La Liga title race to Barcelona. His team have been knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Atletico Madrid and came close to being beated by Shalke in the Champions League.

Add to this the split between him and long-term girlfriend Irina Shayk and the Madrid fans jeering recent poor performances and you have got one angry Galactico on your hands. Team mate Sergio Ramos has shed some light on Ronaldo's foul mood, stating: 'He's used to scoring 60 goals a year and when he gets 40 he's not happy, he has a very competitive character.'

The Messi vs Ronaldo debate has started to swing back in the Argentinian's favour, with Brazil legend Pele stating: 'The two best at the moment are obviously Ronaldo and Messi. Is the best one? Messi has been the best player of the last 10 years. Ronaldo is that striker who scores goals, but Messi does that and helps with assists.' Comments which are sure to to make Ronaldo's blood boil.

Madrid play Barcelona at the Nou Camp tomorrow and a win would see them leapfrog their opponents back to the top of La Liga. A loss however would see a four point gap open up behind Barcelona, a result which would no doubt see Ronaldo hulking out once again.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

FA Cup Twitchy Butts: LVG vs Wenger

It's is getting toward squeaky bum time in the Premier League and FA Cup, or as Louis van Gaal would not so pleasantly describe as 'twitchy ass' time. The stakes are high for both sides in Monday nights FA Cup quarter final between United and Arsenal, with the competition representing each sides best chance of silverware this season.

The Manchester United boss has described the tie as being 'almost like a final' and has also stated that the outcome of the match could have an impact on the race for a top four finish in the Premier League, due to the psychological blow that it will have on the defeated side.

Speaking in his pre-match conference, van Gaal stated: 'It’s a game between two teams of 11 players. United and Arsenal are placed third and fourth in the league, so it’s almost like a final, I think.'

'We have the support of our fans but Arsenal shall bring a lot of fans too. Also, Arsenal and United are now in third and fourth place, so it is a big event with two good teams. I hope we can give a fantastic match for the fans.'

'I think if we beat them it is a big blow for them, but if they beat us it is a big blow for us. It is very important game, not only for the FA Cup but also for the rat race'.

Arsene Wenger has the chance to make it two FA Cups im two years if his side can triumph at Old Trafford tomorrow night and he has spoken ahead of the game of how important it is to his side's season to progress to the next round.

'It’s not just another game because it’s the quarter-final of the FA Cup,' stated Wenger. 'We fought until now to be in there, now we want to stay in it and go to the semi-final. It’s a fantastic opportunity.'

'For years, it was always the game of the season that decided the Premier League. At the moment it’s not the case but it’s still a big game.'

'You go there and I don’t expect any weakness from Man United. I know that if we want to qualify, we have to produce a strong performance. They have lost two games in 22 so if you want to beat them, you have to produce a performance.'

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Sweet FA Cup Dreams are Made of Stevie G's

Steven Gerrard's hope of winning one final trophy at Liverpool looked to be all but extinguished last night with his side trailing 1-0 against Bolton with only five minutes to go. However a late comeback which saw Liverpool win their FA Cup replay 2-1, means the FA Cup trophy is still a possibility in Stevie's final season at Anfield.

The FA Cup Final falls on Gerrard's birthday and with Manchester City and Chelsea already out, there is a decent chance of Liverpool making it there as long as there are no slip ups of course. Manager Brendan Rodgers has spoken of his optimism for the rest of the season stating that the Europa League, the FA Cup and even a Champions League place could be on the cards for his side.

Speaking ahead of his 100th Premiership game in charge at Anfield, Rodgers stated: 'At whatever point I leave here hopefully I'll be leaving something people can be proud of.'

'We now have to rubber-stamp that by winning some silverware. I've enjoyed every minute of my time here. These two and a half years have been a great experience and I think the football club have moved forward.'

'We are in a European competition and in the FA Cup we can get to final. We can challenge not just for fourth place but beyond that. Those are the objectives of the forthcoming months.'

Liverpool face Crystal Palace this weekend in the fifth round of the FA Cup which is a tie they should expect to come out on top of despite playing away from home. For fans interested in watching Liverpool play Crystal Palace, you can click here for FA Cup tickets. The odds on Liverpool lifting the FA Cup this season are 6/1 which makes them third favourites behind Arsenal and Manchester United.

Will Stevie be celebrating a famous final FA Cup triumph on his birthday this May or will he be drowning his sorrows? At the very least they should progress to the next round.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Costa Goals Take Chelsea Step Closer to Silverware [picture]

The torrent of goals supplied by Chelsea striker Diego Coast showed no sign of slowing today as the Spaniard helped his side to a comforatable 5-0 win over Swansea today. Costa netted twice as he took his total to 17 goals in 19 league games so far this season.

The win takes Chelsea five points clear at the top of the Premiership, ahead of Manchester City who play Arsenal tomorrow. Manager Jose Mourinho described the result as 'perfect' and praised the way his team controlled the game.

'It was the perfect performance,' stated Mourhinho. 'Everything went our way. To score in the first minute makes it a different game for them.'

'At 4-0, it was not over but we controlled the game in the second half.  The team played very well, we were solid defensively. Oscar and Diego did not play any better than John Terry or Ivanovic or the others.'

'Swansea were aggressive and had ambition. The second goal signified the way we like to play. The team is playing with high quality, not for the first time this season but ever since the first game. We have a clear identity of how to play. We have been going in a certain direction.'

The quadruple is still a possiblility for the Blues and Mourinho stated the importance of his side bringing silverware back to the Bridge this season.

'You must win titles,' said Mourinho. 'You have no history without titles just playing well will mean nothing. I am the first one to want them to play well, but we need to win titles. If not, then in 20 years’ time, no one will remember this team. They are young and we will try to make history with them they have lots of years in them.'

Speaking to prior to today's game, Costa stated his ambition to win the Premiership in his first season at Chelsea. 'Fifteen goals is a good mark and I hope to improve it, but more important than my goals is the team is winning,' stated Costa.

'Of course it is nice to be the topscorer but when I came here my aim was to win the league. The most important thing is the club going well, like we did in the other leagues I played in, and it would be nice at the end of the season to see the team doing well as well as the individual.'

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Stevie G in da USAiii [picture]

Steven Gerrard has announced his intention to cross the pond this summer and start a new life playing in the MLS in the USA. The Liverpool legend has confirmed he won't be joining any of his current teams Premier League rivals after announcing he will be leaving Anfield this summer.

Speaking at Melwood yesterday morning the Liverpool captain explained his decision to leave the club he been at for 17 years, Gerrard stated: 'There was more than one moment that has made me come to this decision, but I think the key conversation or moment was with the manager when he sat me down not so long ago and said it was time to manage my games for me and for the team.'

'I'm bright enough to realise it is the right thing for everyone, but when you've been a starter and a mainstay in the team for such a long time, it was a very difficult conversation to have with the manager. I accept it and I'll continue to give everything I've got, whether I'm starting, coming off the bench or whatever, but that was the key conversation that swung me to deciding to come away for a short while.'

Speaking about where he will be heading next, Gerrard stated: 'I can tell the supporters at the moment that it will be America. I'll be going to play in America. But I'm not over the line with any team just yet. I'm close and as soon as I know, I'll make the announcement, I'll do the bits and bobs that I need to do. Then we try to go and win a trophy and forget about Steven Gerrard for a bit.'

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Fernando Torres: Home A Loan [picture]

Fernando Torres could be on the move again, just months after his loan move to AC Milan. The Spainish striker has only scored one goal in ten appearances for Milan and is now struggling to break into the first team. His poor form has followed him from Chelsea and now there is speculation linking him with another loan move to a number of clubs.

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has commented on recent speculation linking Torres with a loan move back to his boyhood club. 'We must to be respectful to my squad,' stated Simeone. 'Despite how important a player Fernando is. I can't speak about other players because it wouldn't be fair for my players. I just have to focus on my guys.'

The Daily Star are claiming that Torres could be about to make a shock return to former club Liverpool where he previously enjoyed four successful seasons which earnt him a £50 million transfer to Chelsea.

Rumour have also arisen that Madrid want to cancel the loan deal agreed with Chelsea and send him home to his parent club. Chelsea manager Jose Morinho attempted to quash these claim when questioned by ESPN about the matter.

'No, I don't know but he's on loan for two seasons at AC Milan,' stated Mourinho. ' He's our player but he's on loan. We have no space for players in the list. Either in the Champions League or Premier League. That's an impossible picture.'

'But I have to say, nobody from AC Milan made contact with us thinking about that possibility, so probably nothing is true and, more than possibly, he's happy at Milan and Milan to have him.'

Monday, 24 November 2014

Blackburn 2 - 1 Leeds: Marco's mistake and Varney dive cost Leeds 3 points

After an impressive start to his Leeds career Marco Silvestri was at fault for another important goal as Leeds lost 2-1 to Blackburn on Saturday. Reminiscent to the howler conceded against Cardiff, Silvestri and the Leeds defence once again managed to gift their opposition an open goal. With Leeds very much in control of the match, a long ball caused unnecessary confusion between Silvestri and Cooper which resulted in them both being out on the floor whilst Jordan Rhodes passed into an empty net.

Silvestri’s flamboyant shot stopping has made him a fans favourite since signing in the summer, but his ability to communicate with his defence under pressure has recently come into question. The late goal conceded at Cardiff could have been argued as both a defensive and goal keeping error. However, the responsibility of this weekends blunder has to falls at the feet of Marco.

Leeds manager, Niel Redfearn told the Yorkshire Evening Post: 'The goalkeeper’s coming onto that and he should clear it.If you’re coming onto it you’re favourite to clear it. Its happened before at Cardiff and he’s got to learn from that'

Leeds were good value for all three points after a 33 minute strike from Doukara gave the visitors a first half lead. However the match was turned on its head by Leeds embarrassing goalkeeping gaffe. Blackburn were reduced to 10 men in the 82 second minute, yet a Luke Varney dive managed to convince referee Kevin Wright Sam Byram's challenge warranted a penalty in the 88th minute.With only a couple of minutes remaining Jordan Rhodes calmly scored the penalty to secure the 3 points were to stay at Ewood Park.

It doesn’t get any easier for Leeds as they face a tough couple of fixtures up till Christmas, starting with league leaders Derby County next Saturday.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Not So Jolly Rodgers [picture]

It was another bad day at the office for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers as his side gave up a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1 against Crystal Palace, making it three league defeats in a row for the reds. The game got off to a promising start with Rickie Lambert netting after only two minutes but went downhill from there and it soon became a second miserable trip to Selhurst Park in two seasons for the Liverpool lads.

The result leaves Liverpool 12th in the Premiership and has raised further questions about Rodgers future at Anfield. Speaking after todays defeat, Rodgers stated: 'I’m not arrogant enough to think that I will be in a job through anything. Any manager will tell you that you have to win games and you have to get results, especially after how we’ve been developing as a football club. But I have a great communication line with the owners. We’ve been honest enough with each other but ultimately you have to get results. You have to perform. In my first year when we weren’t maybe getting the results we were performing well.'

'Owners and directors and chairmen and chief executives have to see development on the field. Barring this period, our development has been very good and fast. But there’s no doubt as a manager you have to get results. That will support the confidence to the owners, and you take it from there. I will only ever do my best. The best has seen us develop well. Now I need to fight even harder. And take the responsibility because as manager full responsibility comes down to me. Any pressure comes on to me.'

'It was bitterly disappointing. Nowhere near the levels we’d expect, after a very good start. You’ve seen a team low on confidence today. Not quite together as a team. We need to find a solution very quickly because it was very disappointing.'

'It’s my responsibility as the manager, ultimately. I put the team out there, the best team to win us the game. We made a good start. You could see our passing was a wee bit tentative, and then we make mistakes. Mistakes you wouldn’t expect to see from a team that’s supposed to be challenging. We failed to manage the game.'

'We concede a throw-in which shouldn’t happen and then the third goal, a long ball down the middle and I didn’t think it was a free-kick. Both were holding each other’s shirts. OK, it was a good free-kick. Overall, that intensity and togetherness in our game isn’t there.'

'When you don’t get the results, that affects you. We have to work harder but we go away bitterly disappointed with the result. We have to put it right very quickly because we have a massive game in midweek and a busy schedule ahead. We have to do better.'

Is Rodgers still the right man to manage Liverpool?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Top Six a banker under Karanka? (Picture)

Aitor Karanka has enjoyed a successful first year at The Riverside but isn’t getting carried away with his recent praise.  Middlesbrough currently sit third in the championship just one point behind Steve McLaren’s table topping Derby County. Middlesbrough fans must be expecting at least a top six finish this season and hope their good form doesn’t slip away in their traditional after Christmas slump. 

Karakna recently admitted that his managerial style has been directly influenced by the ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho. The Boro manager told ABC  “From Mourinho I learned that what is fundamental is that the players feel happy.” 

"He told me that it was a good place to grow and to fulfil myself. Chelsea have loaned us three footballers. After each match we speak and exchange messages. 

"He gives me advice – the best that he has given me, since I worked with him during those three wonderful years at Real Madrid is the that the team is above individuals."

Middlesbrough’s success one the pitch has seen a resurgence in support. Their next away match against Wigan on Saturday has seen the Smoggies sell out the 4,800 allocation – this will be the second highest away follow of any Championship team this season.