Jumpers For Goalposts http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk The Football Blog Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:00:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 94832519 England’s Dreaming http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/englands-dreaming/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/englands-dreaming/#respond Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:00:15 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=456 As the players sat disconsolately on the turf in Nice, the nation’s football fans felt a familiar sinking feeling: South Africa, Ukraine, Brazil, and France; no matter the continent or tournament, England flop.

Roy Hodgson fell on his sword in the immediate aftermath of Iceland’s victory, as the inquests began. Believing there is a bright future for the England team takes considerable effort, it’s there if you look hard enough but mustering that enthusiasm is a labour beyond even Hercules.

The first job is appointing a new coach. It’s hard to think of a ready-made candidate. The suggestion of Sam Allardyce is as underwhelming as calls for Harry Redknapp and Glenn Hoddle are baffling. And the notion of Arsène Wenger taking the helm is fanciful – sadly – as his vision of how football ought to be played is perfectly suited to international football.

Hoddle or Redknapp for England

Hoddle or Redknapp for England

It’s not just about Russia in 2018 where England are 14/1 according to the football betting; this has to be a template for the future. If Wenger could be convinced to take the job, he would need to be appointed along with his potential successor. Eddie Howe and Gary Neville are the most obvious candidates.

The combination is most appealing. Wenger the visionary, Howe and Neville the tactical pragmatists, imbuing flexibility into the Frenchman’s technical requirements.

Immediately, England’s new coach has to look at his squad. There are many candidates for the axe. The youth levels – Under 17 & 19 – are enjoying success; can any of them step into the main squad? Bring them through now, ready for the next World Cup.

For this to work, the Football Association has to impose its will on the English game.

They have to reduce the number of friendlies England play. Bring the players together for four training camps each year, to improve their technical abilities. Let them learn to love the ball rather being afraid of it.

Then it’s down to the clubs. A successful national team, performing consistently well, sends a positive global message about the state of the English game.

With players becoming increasingly susceptible to injury, we need to reduce the number of club matches.

Persuading turkeys to vote for Christmas may prove easier than convincing Premier League chairmen to reduce the number of clubs in the division to eighteen. However, four fewer games a season offers the prospect of the oft talked about winter break becoming a reality.

The domestic cups have to be reviewed as well. Replays, a thing of the past in the League Cup, need to follow the same route to extinction in the FA Cup. Give smaller clubs guaranteed home ties in Rounds 3 and 4 to compensate.

And extinction is somewhere the League Cup as a competition needs to go. There’s no Europa League place for the winners which brings participation for the Premier League clubs into question. Do they need another potential half-a-dozen games in the season?

The onus on much of the improvement falls onto the clubs. If they and the FA put the structures in place, it will then be down to the players to perform.

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Premier League TV fixtures for August & September http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/premier-league-tv-fixtures-for-august-september/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/premier-league-tv-fixtures-for-august-september/#respond Thu, 14 Jul 2016 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=445 Last week both SKY Sports and BT Sport announced their live Premier League TV fixtures for August and September.

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Saturday 13th August 2016
Hull City v Leicester City Premier League 12:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Man City v Sunderland Premier League 17:30 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD / BT Sport Ultra HD

Sunday 14th August 2016
AFC Bournemouth v Man Utd Premier League 13:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Arsenal v Liverpool Premier League 16:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Monday 15th August 2016
Chelsea v West Ham Premier League 20:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Friday 19th August 2016
Man Utd v Southampton Premier League 20:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Saturday 20th August 2016
Stoke City v Man City Premier League 12:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Leicester City v Arsenal Premier League 17:30 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD / BT Sport Ultra HD

Sunday 21st August 2016
Sunderland v Middlesbrough Premier League 13:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
West Ham v AFC Bournemouth Premier League 16:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Saturday 27th August 2016
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool Premier League 12:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Hull City v Man Utd Premier League 17:30 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD / BT Sport Ultra HD

Sunday 28th August 2016
West Brom v Middlesbrough Premier League 13:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Man City v West Ham Premier League 16:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

BT Sport

Saturday 10th September 2016
Man Utd v Man City Premier League 12:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Liverpool v Leicester City Premier League 17:30 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD / BT Sport Ultra HD

Sunday 11th September 2016
Swansea City v Chelsea Premier League 16:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Monday 12th September 2016
Sunderland v Everton Premier League 20:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Friday 16th September 2016
Chelsea v Liverpool Premier League 20:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Saturday 17th September 2016
Everton v Middlesbrough Premier League 17:30 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD / BT Sport Ultra HD

Sunday 18th September 2016
Watford v Man Utd Premier League 12:00 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD / BT Sport Ultra HD
Crystal Palace v Stoke City Premier League 14:15 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland Premier League 16:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Saturday 24th September 2016
Man Utd v Leicester City Premier League 12:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Arsenal v Chelsea Premier League 17:30 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD / BT Sport Ultra HD

Sunday 25th September 2016
West Ham v Southampton Premier League 16:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Monday 26th September 2016
Burnley v Watford Premier League 20:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

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High standards of football in the PL give England fans every reason to be hopeful http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/high-standards-of-football-in-the-pl-give-england-fans-every-reason-to-be-hopeful/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/high-standards-of-football-in-the-pl-give-england-fans-every-reason-to-be-hopeful/#respond Sun, 19 Jun 2016 17:26:51 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=437

England players go into a frenzy after a late Daniel Sturridge goal sealed victory for them over Wales

A well-known truth about football is that the success of a country’s national league does not automatically mean that their national team will be successful as well. If anybody knows this to be a fact, then it’s us Englishmen who have seen our country do miserably on the international stage for ages even though the Premier League is undoubtedly the best league in the world.

However, there is another side to this argument, which only becomes visible when you take a look at some other countries. Germany for example, have been the epitome of a footballing giant for a long time now. Their national league, though, has been decent to say the least. But over the course of the last few years, the Bundesliga has been undergoing a rather noticeable waxing period. In fact, they’ve reached a stage where even though the top two spots are dominated by Bayern and Dortmund, the standings of the remaining sixteen teams in the league cannot be foretold as everyone is beating everyone.

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England fans watch on as the Three Lions face off against a tough Wales side in their Euro 2016 group game

The Premier League has always been like what the Bundesliga is now, but the last season was truly landmark in terms of all-round competitiveness. So, if the Bundesliga being such a tight affair can lead to the German national team being super successful, why can’t the same occur for England? Well, the answer is pretty simple, and it’s the number of native players playing in each league.

In the Bundesliga, the number of foreign players stands at 50%. The Premier League, however, has 65% of all its players coming from abroad. What this means is, the Bundesliga being more competitive allows a larger number of German players to up their game while the Premier League being competitive affects a smaller number of English players.

Despite the bad memories of our national team’s failed efforts of the past, England fans have a lot of reason to be hopeful this Euro campaign. Having mentioned the lack of English players doing well in the Premier League to be a reason for our country’s failure at the international level, I must also point out that the story of this Premier League season was a bit different.

Daniel Sturridge looks on as his right footed shot hit the back of the net past a hapless Wayne Hennessey

Rather than having foreign players dominate the charts, it was a host of English players who caught the eye with their fantastic displays over the course of the last season. The major part of the England resurrection is down to the rise of Tottenham and their quintet of stars who’ve kicked on from a great club campaign to help their country on the big stage. Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Delle Alli, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose form the core of the current England side along with help from Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy and Joe Hart.

The individual performances of these lads have been brilliant and it we can certainly hope that they can replicate their club form for their country. Two good performances against Russia and Wales have certainly raised our expectations but in a tournament as competitive as the Euros, we’re going to have to really be on top of our game if we want to go all the way.

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Ranieri starts preparing Vardy-less Foxes for toughest season yet http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/ranieri-starts-preparing-vardy-less-foxes-for-toughest-season-yet/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/ranieri-starts-preparing-vardy-less-foxes-for-toughest-season-yet/#respond Sun, 05 Jun 2016 12:16:26 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=429 3ClaudioRanieri

Claudio Ranieri is looking ahead of a tough summer ahead of a gruelling season where he leads Leicester into four competitions

After an unforgettable season where they won the Premier League, thereby creating arguably the most unbelievable story in the history of sport, Leicester City have begun preparations for the next season. Not one to rest on his laurels, former Chelsea and Parma boss Claudio Ranieri has begun rebuilding his squad ahead of what should be an immensely difficult season ahead.

Not only will the Foxes be fighting against a host of other strong clubs in the most competitive league in the world, they will also have to get used to the demands of playing mid-week football. Many big clubs have struggled when they’ve had to play three games a week, and Leicester are surely going to find it tough as well. While these two reasons are possibly the biggest hurdles that stand in the way of Wes Morgan and company, the undisputed biggest challenge that they will have to face, is expectation.

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Leicester’s star of the last season, Jamie Vardy, is all set to move to Arsenal in a 20m pound deal

Starting the season as relegation favourites is one thing, starting it as defending champions is a whole different ball game altogether. In the first scenario, all the Foxes had to do was secure their Premier League status for one more year for their fans to remain happy. In the second case, a matter of realistic expectations comes into play. If a Leicester fan were to say that he expects his team to win the League yet again, the chances of that happening are really slim. They’d also be disappointed if they expected their team to qualify for the Champions League once again. A more realistic outcome would be a top six finish that would more or less stabilize their position as a top club because of them doing well for two seasons in a row.

While the third outcome seems to be the most likely one of the lot, there is another thing that could happen. Leicester may find themselves struggling really bad to even climb out of the bottom half of the table. Their own form the last season is testament of the unpredictable nature of top-class sport, and we may very well see them turning out to be a flash in the pan that fizzles out after one unbelievable season.

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The Foxes have also been busy signing star players as well as they confirmed the transfer of German goalie Ron Robert Zieler

Things are already starting to look bleak for them as numerous reports from the UK’s leading news agencies have revealed that Arsenal have made a 20m pound move for their striking sensation Jamie Vardy. And not only have the Gunners launched a bid, but it’s probably been accepted as well as reports are suggesting that the move could be finalized even before the start of the Euros. Without their start striker to bank upon, the next season should be a tough one for the Foxes and a huge summer awaits them ahead of their most memorable and gruesome campaign in decades. How they should fare in it is to be seen, but one thing is for certain, they’ll certainly have more eyes on them than they’ve ever had.

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Jose Mourinho and Manchester United: a match made in heaven http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/jose-mourinho-and-manchester-united-a-match-made-in-heaven/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/jose-mourinho-and-manchester-united-a-match-made-in-heaven/#respond Tue, 31 May 2016 10:00:19 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=411 Jose Mourinho is the new Manchester United manager. The Red Devils parted ways with Louis van Gaal just two days after winning the FA Cup and the former Chelsea boss has now been appointed on a three-year deal. And if nothing else, United fans all over the world are excited at the prospect of challenging for the Premier League title. This is something that the club has failed to do since lifting the crown in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year as United boss.

On paper, Mourinho at Old Trafford is a dream come true for every single United supporter. And in reality, it’s going to be greater than they could ever possibly imagine. Jose Mourinho is a huge personality, Manchester United has a huge history and needs a demanding character at the helm – and they have that in Mourinho. He isn’t going to solve all of United’s underlying issues but he will certainly bring short term success. He’s the master at it.

In his statement, the Portuguese spoke about his affinity for the 13-time Premier League champions and Mourinho’s love affair with United started back in 2004 as he masterminded Porto to a shock aggregate victory over the Red Devils. On that day, Mourinho sprinted up the touchline to celebrate Costinha’s late goal and Porto went on to lift the Champions League trophy at the end of the campaign. The rest, as they say, is history.

J MourinhoAnd now, Mourinho will finally have the chance to sit in the Old Trafford dugout as manager of Manchester United. It has been a long time coming but the Premier League is finally going to see Mourinho, Pep Guardiola (now of Manchester City) and Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) battle it out at the top of the table. At the time of writing, Mourinho’s United are 9/2 in bet365’s betting markets ahead of the new campaign and the Red Devils will certainly stand a much better chance under Mourinho than they ever did under Van Gaal.

If anybody understands the sheer magnitude of managing Manchester United, it’s Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese has had a number of titanic clashes with the Red Devils in the past and it was a case of ‘when’ rather than if he would be offered a job at Old Trafford. While he will always be regarded as a legend at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho will be keen to get on with his new role as he looks to lead United back to the top of the Premier League.Moyes Van-Gaal

Mourinho’s appointment doesn’t come without controversy but he’s the best man for the job. In fact, he is the only man for the job. United are a different beast and while David Moyes and Louis van Gaal failed, Mourinho is capable of getting the best out of this United team and could lead the Reds to a 14th Premier League crown.

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Overwhelming influx of top class coaches proves that the PL is nowhere close to dying http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/overwhelming-influx-of-top-class-coaches-proves-that-the-pl-is-nowhere-close-to-dying/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/overwhelming-influx-of-top-class-coaches-proves-that-the-pl-is-nowhere-close-to-dying/#respond Sat, 28 May 2016 15:51:33 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=404 managers_collage-large_trans++OfbQuL7vt0ioTIEx8Tqi0NrxIh4X-3UtybZnoeSids8

Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are all set to go head to head against each other in the new season of the Premier League

The Premier League, unlike the monopoly that it once was maybe a decade ago, is no more the glitziest football league in the world. A Spanish invasion has laid claim to that honourable title and there are a few reasons why.

Spain is now home to the world’s two most valuable football clubs and alongside that, they also host eight of the world’s top fifteen most valuable footballers. And if these two reasons weren’t enough to convince you that  La Liga is better than the Premier League, then just take a look at the overwhelming success that Spanish teams have enjoyed in continental competitions since the turn of the decade. Spain is the place to be if you’re a hot young footballer wishing to rub shoulders with your idols. England however, is where you should be if you want to make a name for yourself in the toughest league in the world.

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Chelsea appointed Italian Antonio Conte as their boss for the new season

The main area in which the Premier League outdoes it’s European rivals is in the area of competitiveness. All the teams in the Premier League are extremely capable footballing sides and it’s hard to predict a victor even when a top side meets a newly promoted one. Other than in this aspect, the Premier League has turned out to be a superpower in yet another field, and that is in the field of managers.

England is now home to the vast majority of the game’s best footballing minds. This was due to an influx of world class managers that started to get employed by English football clubs.

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Jurgen Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers at the helm of Liverpool last October

Leicester got the ball rolling last year as they hired Claudio Ranieri in the summer while Liverpool brought in Jurgen Klopp back in October. Manchester City then appointed Pep Guardiola as their manager for the new season in February while Chelsea followed suit by confirming Antonio Conte as their new boss in April. And to round off the list of household names to take over as managers of Premier League clubs, Jose Mourinho has been announced as the manager of Manchester United a few days ago. Add to that a certain Arsene Wenger who should be heading into his 20th season in charge of the Gunners, and you have a melting pot of the finest coaches in the world of football today. And if this list of football’s most talented men is enough to get jaws dropping then hold on, the Premier League isn’t done yet.

While the aforementioned managers are part of the cream of managerial royalty, there is another class of coaches who have earned tons of respect but cannot claim the same fame as the names mentioned in the above paragraph. In this category, we have Spurs’ boss Mauricio Pocchettino, incoming Watford manager Walter Mazzari, Slaven Bilic of West Ham is another name on this list and so is Saints boss Ronald Koeman.

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Manchester United Louis Van Gaal with Jose Mourinho just a few days ago

The Premier League, while not being as powerful on the continental stage as it once was, is still a major superpower in the world of football. It’s not undergone any fall from grace and if anything, it’s moving in the right direction by creating a much more level playing field. And now with so many top class managers all heading to England to ply their trade, things should get even more interesting as we head into probably the most eagerly awaited Premier League season in years.

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Even at their lowest, United win the FA Cup, so how bad a condition are the Red Devils actually in? http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/even-at-their-lowest-united-win-the-fa-cup-so-how-bad-a-condition-are-the-red-devils-actually-in/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/even-at-their-lowest-united-win-the-fa-cup-so-how-bad-a-condition-are-the-red-devils-actually-in/#respond Sun, 22 May 2016 19:15:36 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=397 347E0F5900000578-3603325-image-a-26_1463924702643

Manchester United celebrate winning their 12th FA Cup title as they came back from behind to defeat Crystal Palace at Wembley

Form is temporary, class is permanent. This is the adage that we’ve heard since forever, and its authenticity was proven yet again as Manchester United won the FA Cup after beating Crystal Palace in an enthralling tie at Wembley. Louis Van Gaal, the much-maligned manager of Manchester United masterminded their first trophy win since 2013 to prove that even at their lowest, United are capable of winning silverware.

The Red Devils underwent a spectacular fall from grace since the departure of their talismanic boss Sir Alex Ferguson. With no Champions League to look forward to in the next season, United needed the FA Cup trophy to shut their critics up ahead of what could be tough times for the once great club. A big day needed a big performance, and in true United spirit, their boys stepped up to the mark.

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Wayne Rooney, United’s captain on the night, was also the Man of the Match after he put in a terrific display in the middle of the park

When Jason Puncheon’s ferocious volley hit the back of the net in the 78th minute of the game, most of you had probably crowned Palace as the winners of this year’s FA Cup. Even the most ardent of United fans would be forgiven for losing all hope of winning the Cup after conceding a goal with just 12 minutes left on the clock. United are only a shadow of their former selves and no way can they make a comeback. Fergie time was a thing of the past. Right?

How we were all mistaken. Three minutes was all it took for them to equalize and as extra time ensued, Jesse Lingard found a place for himself in Manchester United lore as he scored a 110th-minute winner to win his side their 12th FA Cup title. In the aftermath of this most exciting victory, I was wondering, even at their lowest ebb, Manchester United are still winning titles.

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Jesse Lingard was United’s hero on the night as he grabbed a 110th minute winner to put his side in the lead for the first time in the game

Ever since the turn of the 90’s, Manchester United have only finished outside of the top four on three occasions. Other than their 5th placed finish this season, they came 6th in the 90-91 season while coming 7th in the 13-14 season. This is definitely the sign of a football club in their prime, but even in the past few seasons, in the seasons after Sir Alex I mean, they managed to perform reasonably well, if you get what I mean.

Of course finishing lower than second is totally unacceptable for a team as regal as United, but considering the departure of their great stalwart and the evolving climate of the Premier League with the rise of so many strong teams, consistent finishes in and around the top four is pretty good if you ask me.

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Louis Van Gaal celebrated winning his first trophy as United boss along with their former manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Now when you go on to consider that teams like Manchester City and Chelsea and Liverpool have failed to pull of what United have, you really get to see my point in true detail. Manchester United are indeed having their worst spell in over three decades, but then again, this is surely because of the standards that they’ve set for themselves over the same period of time. While half of the nation is up in arms about the Red Devils devastating fall from grace, I cannot help but agree with LvG who has asked us to curb our expectations. Van Gaal’s message has so far fallen on deaf ears, but how long can United fans avoid this rather inconvenient truth? Only time can tell.

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Like the rise of Leicester, falls of Newcastle and Villa are massive events in the history of English football http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/like-the-rise-of-leicester-falls-of-newcastle-and-villa-are-massive-events-in-the-history-of-english-football/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/like-the-rise-of-leicester-falls-of-newcastle-and-villa-are-massive-events-in-the-history-of-english-football/#respond Sun, 15 May 2016 05:16:57 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=388 _89663979_newcastle_fan_stand_getty

Newcastle fans will be hurting beyond belief right now as their beloved Magpies got relegated for the second time in seven years

Every season that passes gives us champions, a team of heroes who got things right over the course of the campaign. Similarly, every season gives us failures, lads who didn’t get the rub of the green, or often, lads who let themselves down. The Newcastle United and Aston Villa teams of this year fall in the second part of the second category and I cannot begin to imagine how angry the fans of both these clubs are feeling right now.

No offence to any other teams in the Premier League, but relegation is never expected from either Newcastle or Villa. Taking a look at the Magpies, it’s still so hard to accept that a team as big as theirs got sent to the Championship back in 2009, and for that disaster to happen again just seven years on is a massive blow to their very existence as a club. Similarly, who would have thought that Aston Villa, a team that has played Premier League football since the inception of the League back in 1992, would be relegated this season, and more importantly, in this manner!

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Similarly, Aston Villa are in turmoil and have been so for the entire year and there was nothing that present caretaker manager Eric Black could do about it

Aston Villa were one of the elite few clubs who have had the honour of playing in every edition of the Premier League, and yet they were booted out of England’s top division for the first time since 1986. If Leicester’s achievements this season is stuff to tell our grandkids, then the fall of Newcastle and Villa are surely equally big events that need retelling to the coming generations.

One technical difference between Leicester’s canter to the title and Villa’s and Newcastle shameful exits from the Premier League is that the former is moving towards a position of permanence in the lore of English football. The latter, though, are heading towards extinction, to a situation where they’ll be looked at as one of the fallen giants of yore, as the likes of Nottingham Forest, Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday.

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Newcastle fans are voicing their frustration regarding the present regime as they want their current owner, Mike Ashley, to sell the club

Change is permanent as they say, and maybe this is not a time to be romantic because a power shift in favour of  newer teams would automatically mean that a few others were going to be heading in an unfavoured direction. But then again, it would be wrong to blame the wane of these clubs fortunes on the waxing of another. The underlying powershift did not score the goals that won Leicester so many games, and similarly, the very same powershift did not lead to all the bad goals that the Magpies and the Villans conceded.

I’m looking towards characters like Gabby Agbonlahor, Joleon Lescott and Jack Grealish as I say this bit. Newcastle too have had too many of their star names letting them down over the course of the last season, but Aston Villa have been a toxic cesspool and the discipline issues that cropped up at Villa Park all throughout the year have ruined the club’s reputation in the public eye. Both clubs will need to buy well in the transfer market, so they can prepare themselves as best as possible ahead of their Championship campaign.

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Similarly, Aston Villa fans want exactly the same as they have grown impatient with owner Randy Lerner

Personally, I hope that both of these teams can bounce back into better days from the next season even if they cannot win promotion. Newcastle have experience in this regard as they managed to climb straight back into the Premier League after a season in the Championship in 2009. While I’d wish both of these giants of English football a big helping of luck as they struggle through a tough patch in their illustrious history, I cannot help but fear for their existence as there have been too many incidents of clubs failing to control their drop from the honour roll and into the underbelly of English football.

 

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Infuriating Liverpool allow Rafa another comeback as Klopp’s boys undo all their hardwork http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/infuriating-liverpool-allow-rafa-another-comeback-as-klopps-boys-undo-all-their-hardwork/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/infuriating-liverpool-allow-rafa-another-comeback-as-klopps-boys-undo-all-their-hardwork/#respond Sat, 23 Apr 2016 12:27:16 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=377 337777CD00000578-0-image-a-4_1461421360297

Liverpool legends of the present and the past greeted each other before all affiliations were brought to a halt as Liverpool played Newcastle United at Anfield earlier today

Just when Liverpool fans were beginning to think that their fortunes were turning for the better, they managed to fall flat on their face again. This time, like all of the times in the past, they have only themselves to blame. Call it complacency, mediocrity or downright carelessness, Liverpool have undone all of the hard work that they completed so amicable over the course of the last few weeks.

Leading relegation fighting Newcastle by two goals at home, the Reds allowed their valorous opponents to come back into the game without having to break a sweat. To kick-off my inquest into our dispiriting draw, the first question that I would like to ask God is why Simon Mignolet is still a Liverpool player. Before any of your grab your pitchforks and ransack my house while defending Mignolet for all the countless times his superb shot stopping skills bailed us out of jail, I’d like to remind you that the margin of error at the highest level is minuscule. There’s a fine line between hero and villain and at this level, mistakes made too often are enough to get people sacked.

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Sturridge gave Liverpool the lead in the 1st minute of the match after his superb left footed-stroke fizzed into the back of the net past a hapless Karl Darlow

Yes, there have been many occasions where the Belgian our hero, but then again, there have also been quite a few occasions where he’s been our villain. With all due respect to Simon Mignolet, I would like to raise my hands up and accept that I would never be able to be as good a ‘keeper as him, but as far as being the first goalkeeper of Liverpool Football Club is concerned, we definitely need someone better.

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The Liverpool players celebrate Daniel Sturridge’s 1st-minute opener that gave the home team a sensational start to the game

Moving on from Mignolet, the second matter of concern that has been bothering me is our lack of consistency. No matter who we make our manager and no matter who we sign, consistency is the key to success. That is exactly why we’ve found so much success in the cup competitions this season. Leagues are marathons and every club needs to maintain a certain speed throughout the course of this exhausting race. Slipping up at any stage of this gruelling journey almost always results in failure.

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Newcastle players celebrate Jack Colback’s second half equalizer as they managed to silence the Kop on the day their former manager made an emotional return

Over the course of the past decade, Liverpool have proven on numerous occasions that they are very well capable of pulling off stupendous results against the most intimidating of opponents in the most audacious of ways. Doing this on a regular basis, or to phrase myself better, doing this against the more lesser decorated teams has always been the problem.

It’s extremely frustrating to be a Liverpool fan because you know that your boys are very well capable of blowing apart some of the most impenetrable of defences while reducing the most potent of attacks to mere laymen. But to see the very same team fall against the likes of Stoke City and Newcastle United and Crystal Palace is an all new level of pain altogether.

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Leicester Title Win To Cost UK Bookies £10 Million http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/leicester-title-win-to-cost-uk-bookies-10-million/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/leicester-title-win-to-cost-uk-bookies-10-million/#respond Thu, 21 Apr 2016 13:47:01 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=369 CLAUDIO-RANIERIAccording to reports published on BBC Sport, the UK’s leading bookmaker will have to pay out in excess of £10 million if leaders Leicester go on to win the Premier League title.

Leciester were priced at 5000/1 to win the league at the start of the season, but they have defied all expectations and currently lead by 5 points with just 4 games remaining. They need 3 more wins to guarantee the first league title in their history.

Around 50 people backed Leicester at those huge odds at the start of the season, while more and more punters have been backing them throughout the season as their remarkable run of form has developed.

Some bookies including Betfair are still offering enhanced odds on both Spurs and Leicester to be champions. Most bookies have cut Leicester to heavy odds on prices, or are refusing to take any more bets on them at all!

Betfred have already paid out, but other leading betting websites including William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power are nervously watching the remaining matches of the season in the hope that Spurs can overturn Leicesters lead and save them some cash.

Most punters love hearing stories of bookies taking a beating, so the payout will come as welcome news to all punters whether they backed Leicester or not. But the bookies will all be Spurs fans between now and the end of the season.

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10 walking marathons in 10 days… http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/10-walking-marathons-in-10-days/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/10-walking-marathons-in-10-days/#respond Fri, 01 Apr 2016 10:00:48 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=357 Jeff Stelling’s Men United March – #JeffsMarch

10 walking marathons in 10 days… He’s done it! Jeff Stelling has completed his Men United March, walking an incredible 262 miles in just ten days and raising more than £300k. But you can still sponsor him.

Jeff

The route and the daily diary…

Jeff Stelling visited more than 30 football clubs over 10 days from 21 to 30 March 2016. He was joined on each leg of the journey by a select band of Men United supporters and his mates from Soccer Saturday, including Matt Le Tissier, Chris Kamara, Paul Merson, and Charlie Nicholas. Jeff1

Day 1: Hartlepool Utd via Middlesbrough to Marske

Day 2: York City to Leeds United

Day 3: Doncaster Rovers to Scunthorpe United

Day 4: Rotherham via Sheffield to Chesterfield

Day 5: Derby County via Burton and Nottm Forest to Notts County

Day 6: Wolves via Walsall, West Brom, Aston Villa to Birmingham City

Day 7: Coventry City to Leicester CityJeff2

Day 8: Northampton Town to MK Dons

Day 9: Luton Town via St Albans City to Watford

Day 10: AFC Wimbledon via Brentford, Fulham, Chelsea, QPR to Wembley

Intrepid television presenter Jeff Stelling yesterday completed his epic 262-mile walk to help tame prostate cancer, helping raise more than £300,000 for us so far.

“They say I can talk the talk, and now I’ve walked the walk,” joked the long-standing Soccer Saturday host after finishing 10 walking marathons in 10 days, from Hartlepool to Wembley, together with close friend Russ Green, the chief executive of Hartlepool United.They checked in at 32 football clubs along the way, and were joined by some famous friends and people affected by prostate cancer.

Trevor Sinclair, Dennis Wise, Les Ferdinand and Matt Le Tissier were among the small group of walkers on the last leg from AFC Wimbledon, rubbing shoulders with our long-time supporters, Kevin Webber and David Annand. And after collecting his Men United March medal from the Royal Box at Wembley, Jeff told onlookers it was his fellow walkers’ personal experiences of prostate cancer that drove him on.

“Everyone was our inspiration to keep going,” he said. “All your stories were humbling, uplifting and unforgettable. We will never forget them.”

Our chief executive, Angela Culhane, who walked the final marathon and more than 50 miles during the walk, said: “It’s been a truly incredible 10 days capped with a phenomenal fundraising total of more than £300,000. The money and awareness raised will be life-altering to the men affected by prostate cancer and their loved ones.

“Each and every walker that put their best foot forward for the cause, more than 400 of them, provided inspiration to us all. And on behalf of everyone involved in the Men United March and every man affected by this disease, I’d like to say a big thank you.”

 

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talkSPORT 2 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/talksport-2/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/talksport-2/#respond Tue, 01 Mar 2016 10:00:38 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=351 14th March 2016, London: talkSPORT 2, a new national 24-hour sports radio station and part of the Wireless Group (GB) brand portfolio, has secured rights to one of the biggest sporting events of the year, after reaching an agreement to broadcast the ICC World Twenty20 in India.

About talkSPORT 2

talkSPORT 2 is the sister station of the world’s biggest sports radio station, talkSPORT, which is the global audio partner of the Premier League and has a UK audience of over 3 million. Launching in March 2016, talkSPORT 2 will concentrate on live coverage of cricket, golf, rugby union, rugby league, tennis, football outside the Premier League and US sport. talkSPORT 2 will be available nationally on DAB digital radio, online and on mobile.

www.talkSPORT.com

About Wireless Group GB

Wireless Group GB is part of Wireless Group plc, a leading UK and Irish media company. It owns 13 radio stations across England and Wales, including talkSPORT, the world’s biggest sports radio station, as well as Sport, the UK’s biggest sports magazine.

www.WirelessGroupplc.com

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Arsenal: Best chance for the Premier league in a decade? http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/arsenal-best-chance-for-the-premier-league-in-a-decade/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/arsenal-best-chance-for-the-premier-league-in-a-decade/#respond Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=338 As we approach the crunch point of the season, Arsenal are set to play Leicester, Manchester United, Tottenham and not to mention Barcelona all in a month. You have to ask is this their best chance to win the league?

The north London club are in with a great shout for the title. This season has been one of shocks, Chelsea have put up the worst ever defence of a Premier league crown, Manchester United have been floundering and despite their millions Manchester City have been unpredictable. Surprisingly it is Leicester who have taken the league by storm and are now table toppers.

Arsenal will be hoping to put their title credentials to the test when they face off against the foxes on the 13th February. If they are to seriously contend the gunners have to win. It was a great game last time around, with Arsenal coming out on top at the King power winning 5-2. Leics 2 Arsenal 5

But recently there have been question marks over their ability to produce in ‘big matches.’ This comes after the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea. But with Alexis Sanchez back fit this is now time to prove they can do it. It will be a huge boost to have him back, with the Chilean scoring a hat-trick in the reverse fixture.

What’s changed since last season?

Petr Cech has been the major change in personnel since last season and what a difference he has made. The Czech goalie has been fantastic and finally the Gunners have some steel in between the post, he has been instrumental in organising the defence properly.

This season the squad is also coming off the back of winning back-to-back trophies. After such a baron run, winning one trophy can set you on the path for more trophies and bigger trophies. The team finally has a winning mentality. Tomas Rosicky believes Arsenal have what it takes to go all the way.

They are older and starting to deliver. The majority of the team are now approaching their peak years. Theo Walcott has been in great form after a difficult start and was instrumental in beating Leicester and Manchester City earlier in the season.

Olivier Giroud finally looks like a world class striker. The Frenchman has always been considered a bit of a ‘nearly’ player, but he now looks terrific leading the line. He has been banging them in for fun this season. Along with Giroud, Mesut Ozil is starting to look like the £42 million that Arsenal paid for him and has been excellent this season. The German has 16 assists to his name and has created an astonishing 100 chances so far this campaign.

Giroud Ozil

What happens after Leicester?

Leicester is undoubtedly a must win match, but the title deciders will continue to come. Arsenal travel to London rivals Tottenham and play Manchester United at Old Trafford. It is imperative not to lose at Tottenham and surely have to beat United to stay in the hunt.

Unfortunately for Gunners fans Tottenham are well in the title race. Arsenal have already beaten them at White Hart Lane in the League cup but to give away three points to title rivals would be a huge disappointment. If they were to win, surely they would be favourites for the title. United will be a tough test, but surely the Red devils are out of the race and shouldn’t be considered such a threat.

Arsenal are also on the hunt for a treble. This has its pros and cons but despite being given no chance against Barcelona, if they were to win, it would give them a massive mental boost going into the later stages of the season. Loosing, however, could mentally fatigue them as they come unstuck again, in one of the ‘big games’

Why couldn’t they do it next season?

This season has been unlike any other, nobody could have foreseen the unpredictability that has happened. But with the enormous influx of money that will come into the league next season, every football club will become more competitive.

It is also difficult to see United and Chelsea being quite so poor again next season and the arrival of Pep Guardiola will only add to the optimism of Manchester City.

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Why hosts France are the team to beat at Euro 2016 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/why-hosts-france-are-the-team-to-beat-at-euro-2016/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/why-hosts-france-are-the-team-to-beat-at-euro-2016/#respond Tue, 26 Jan 2016 10:00:25 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=327 France have struggled to inspire confidence on the big stage in recent years but all of that may be about to change at this summer’s European Championship. As hosts of the tournament, Didier Deschamps’ men will have plenty of pressure on their shoulders, however, this France team are capable of going all the way and getting their hands on a major international trophy for the first time since 2000. There are plenty of other contenders who will fancy their chances but it’s hard to look away from France’s sheer passion, hunger and desire to succeed on the international stage.

While some may have accused France of being over-reliant on individuals in previous years, that is no longer the case. Deschamps now has an impressive pool of talent at his disposal and it would take a brave man to back against France on home soil this summer. As of January 15th, the Euro 2016 odds show that France are 7/2 with around five months until the tournament gets under way. If France are lucky on the injury front, there’s absolutely no reason why they cannot go all the way in front of their passionate home supporters.

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As previously mentioned, Deschamps has a strong group of players to choose from and France’s depth is a key reason why many believe they will go on to win the tournament. Defensively, they are solid. Hugo Lloris is a competent shot-stopper and is capable of playing the ‘sweeper keeper’ role well – even if he’s not quite as proficient as Germany’s Manuel Neuer. In front of Lloris, the likes of Bacary Sagna, Patrice Evra, Raphael Varane and Mamadou Sakho are likely to be included in Deschamps’ squad and all four are experienced at both club and international level.

It could be argued that France have the best group of midfielders in Europe and that could be the key difference for Deschamps’ men throughout the competition. Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye will be central to their success and the former is likely to be the key man for France in the summer. He’s been an integral part of Juventus’ recent success and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Pogba play a key role on the international stage. In fact, he will be one of the dark horses to finish as the Player of the Tournament.

Going forward, France have talent in abundance. Whether you’re looking at Karim Benzema or Olivier Giroud to lead the line, both players are exceptional footballers and are capable of spearheading France’s bid for European glory. On either side of the ‘number 9′, Antoine Griezmann has been in form for Atletico Madrid this season while Anthony Martial has been finding his feet at Manchester United. Opposing defences will be terrified at the prospect of facing both stars in the same contest. If Deschamps gets his squad selection spot on, France will stand a great chance of winning the tournament.

If they perform at their best and everything clicks, of course France can win the competition. In previous major tournaments, the French have crumbled but it’s hard to see them doing that under Deschamps’ leadership. They showed plenty of quality in the 2014 World Cup but crashed out to eventual winners Germany. However, this could be their year. With a bit of luck, France could be crowned European champions for a joint-record third time.

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Could Costa be heading back to Atletico? http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/could-costa-be-heading-back-to-atletico/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/could-costa-be-heading-back-to-atletico/#respond Mon, 18 Jan 2016 10:00:59 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=317 When Atletico Madrid clinched their first La Liga title in 18 years in 2014/15, it was only a matter of time before star players Diego Costa and Filipe Luis were going to be picked off by European football’s major clubs.

As it turned out, Chelsea ended up shelling out over £50 million to sign the duo and went on to win the Premier League the same season. But while Luis made a return to Atletico after just one year in the Premier League, his former Chelsea team-mate, Diego Costa, could be the next man to re-sign for the club where he enjoyed his most success.

Luis never really managed to break into Jose Mourinho’s plans during his time in England, and a return to Madrid was something of a no-brainer when Chelsea decided to cut their losses on the Brazilian.

For Costa, though, his first season in the Premier League saw him finish as the division’s top scorer with 20 goals, playing a crucial role in Chelsea winning the title.

It was a different story at the start of this season, however, with the Brazilian-born Spain international falling out of favour under Mourinho and reportedly playing a role in the manager losing his job at the end of 2015.

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With Chelsea seemingly out of the title race, looking like real outsiders in Europe and priced at around 5/1 as of 14th January with the FA Cup betting, Costa knows this team is in a very different place from the one he joined at the beginning of last season.

Following his role in Mourinho’s sacking, a section of the Chelsea fan-base has turned on the striker and that has not been helped by Costa’s modest form this season.

While it would be a real shock to see the forward leave Stamford Bridge during January, Costa’s current troubles may convince him to push for a move back to the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

Despite getting back to scoring ways under Guus Hiddink in recent weeks, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Costa would be open to a return to Atletico. For the Primera Liga side, they would jump at the chance to re-sign a player who scored 27 goals in their title-winning season, if Chelsea made him available.

Currently top of the league, Atletico’s impressive form this season comes down mainly to their remarkable defensive record, conceding just eight goals since the start of the campaign, rather than their offensive unit.

In attack, however, the club have scored less than 30 goals and, without Antoine Griezmann’s tally of nine goals, the rest of the club’s strikers have only scored seven goals between them. Following a big-money move from Porto in the summer, Jackson Martinez has so far failed to live up to the hype, mustering just two goals since his arrival in Madrid.

The Colombian had been tipped to be Griezmann’s main striking partner, but Martinez has instead opted for Luciano Vietto, Angel Correa and Fernando Torres for much of this season alongside the Frenchman.

At 27 years old, Chelsea would want to recoup much of what they spent on Costa in 2014. Whether or not Atletico could afford that remains to be seen, but it would certainly be a move that would send out a statement to Barcelona and Real Madrid.

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