Who will be relegated from the Premier League?

Relegation from the Premier League can be tough on any team and it is the magic 40 point mark that a lot of teams aim for first even when they are not expected to get relegated. Even mid table teams don’t want to get dragged into a battle so they aim to get their as fast as possible and then build on that.

Inevitably the promoted teams are always the favourites to go straight back down and there is no change this year, with Reading being one of the teams that need a good start to the season or it could be a very long year for their fans. They have however some good signings in the summer which will surely give them a better chance in the always reliable Danny Guthrie and striker Pavel Pogrebnyak who had a very good goal scoring record at Fulham last year. They do lack a little experience in the Premier League throughout their squad so Jason Roberts and Ian Harte will both be essential to their side.

Norwich City have a new manager this season in Chris Hughton and he has the difficult task of following in the footsteps of Paul Lambert. But, he has inherited a good team that was comfortable in the Premier League last year and there will be a lot of talk of second season syndrome but Hughton has performed minor miracles before at both Newcastle United and Birmingham City so I am sure he will be a success here too.

Nigel Adkins hasn’t changed much at Southampton in the close season so he obviously believes that this team are good enough to stay up but I think they need a little more especially considering the start to the season they have. In the opening five games they have to play both the Manchester clubs and Arsenal so like Bolton last season they may be demoralised before the season has even really begun. The signings of Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne would have been very impressive in the Championship and even though I rate both of them highly they just might not be able to cut it in the Premier League.

Wigan Athletic will always be considered as one of the favourites for relegation no matter how they finish the previous season. At the end of last season they were one of the most in form teams in the whole league but that have lost Hugo Rodallega and Mohamed Diame who have both been influential in the past for them. The signing of Arouna Kone may show their intent of finishing a lot higher up than they have in previous seasons but they will always be considered as the underdog in the Premier League but maybe they like it that way.

Swansea City are one of many teams with a new manager this year and a lot of people are already writing off Michael Laudrup before he has even took charge of them for the first time in a competitive game. They won’t have to change their style much under the new manager but maybe this is the problem because a lot of teams will have now worked out ways to stop them and they still don’t really have an option B so it will be a tough task for them to stay up.

For me it will be Swansea City, Southampton and Reading that go down.

Who will win League 2?

Promotion from League 2 can be difficult as it is one of the more unpredictable leagues and the fact that a lot of teams that are promoted from the Blue Square Premier do really well makes it even more difficult but there are three spots automatically.

The teams that are relegated into League 2 are sometimes inconsistent too and can sometimes become a mid table team and not really make an impact. Experience is vital in this division and the way to win it is by signing players that know what it takes to win matches the hard way.

Rotherham United under former Crawley manager Steve Evans will be the favourites because of the persona of the manager who will do everything for his team to secure the title and obviously knows how to build a squad with his former club getting promoted. They have made some good signings in Ian Sharps who has returned to club and Daniel Nardiello who has at times in his career looked like the player that was good enough to play for Manchester United’s youth team.

Fleetwood Town will be looking to follow in Crawley Town’s footprints by getting two promotions in a row and even though they may be one of the favourites their team may be happy with just challenging for a place in the playoffs seen as though it is their first year in League 2. They have also lots Jamie Vardy who was prolific so they definitely need to find goals from elsewhere.

Chesterfield Town have been relegated back to League 2 and they will be hoping to return to League 1 at the first time of asking but they know this won’t be easy and they will be hoping that young striker Jordan Bowery continues his development and adds to his impressive 12 goals last season. Also they have two very good goalkeepers in Tommy Lee and Richard O’Donnell so if their defence remains tight I think they will get the most clean sheets.

Bristol Rovers didn’t quite perform as well as they would have hoped last season but this year they will be looking to push on and win the league. The loss of Carayol could be massive as he provided a lot to their team and was a constant threat to the opposition but manager Mark McGhee probably made the right decision to let him leave. Matt Harrold, Eliot Richards and Joe Anyinsah will need to play to at least the same level as last year especially Harrold who got 18 goals.

Oxford United should also be considered to be in the mix as they have a very hardworking team and they all seem to want to play for each other which is a very big thing in this division. They may not have that many standout players but they are a good team that have ability and with James Constable and Tom Craddock upfront I expect them to take a lot of their chances this season.

I think it is hard to look past Rotherham United but who knows maybe they won’t quite gel under Steve Evans and not agree with his methods, I can’t see this being the case but if it is then Chesterfield are the team to watch for me.

 

Ledley King retires and takes up a new role at Tottenham Hotspur

Ledley King has retired from football after a career ravaged by injuries and will be considered as one of Tottenham Hotspur’s greatest ever players.

King had the potential to be one of the best centre backs in the world

The centre back was named as 25th best player of all time in an article in The Times back in 2009 and might now be considered closer to number one. There is no doubting his commitment to the club as he has taken on an ambassadorial role within the club, there aren’t many players around like King anymore as he has shown his loyalty for a number of years and once stated that he would never play for another club which has now came true with his retirement.

It is a shame that he had so many injuries throughout his career but he was a fantastic defender and could have been one of the best in the world. In my opinion if he had stayed fit, John Terry would never have got as many caps for England and the team may have performed better. He only managed to play 21 times for England but scored twice for his country, I think he could have went on to play close to 100 games but we will never know and it is a shame.

Another thing that will have disappointed him is that he only won one trophy at Tottenham and that was the League Cup in 2009 but ever since making his debut in the 1998-99 season he has worn the shirt with pride and has held the defence together. When he was first coming through Spurs weren’t the team they are now and were mostly around mid table so it can’t just be coincidence that when he was playing close to full seasons they were battling for a European place. He only ever once played every league game in a season and that was in 2004-05.

King has been praised by nearly every manager that he has played under and this is because he isn’t a normal English defender that likes to do the dirty stuff like diving into tackles and making blocks, he loved cutting out through balls and using his fantastic positioning to stop strikers from getting in on goal. He could do everything, he is clearly a winner and would do all that he could to get the win for his team.

He occasionally played in the holding midfield role because of his good passing ability and he even scored a goal against Bradford City in 9.7 seconds. He has had a good career and I’m sure he will have a lot of happy memories. The King of White Hart Lane played 315 times scoring 15 goals and the fans will surely never forget him.

Who will be Tottenham Hotspur’s next manager?

Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur have parted ways after the club failed to qualify for the Champions League.

Redknapp had been at Spurs since 2008

Tottenham finished fourth but because Chelsea won the Champions League they will be playing in the Europa League next season and even though this seems quite unfortunate should they have even been in that position? At the turn of the year they were genuine title contenders and many people believed that they were going to win the league. But they fell away and finished below Arsenal even though they were comfortably in front of them for most of the season. The distraction of the England managers job obviously didn’t help the situation and Spurs soon went on a slump after Fabio Capello left England and this was their downfall, their players seemed to not know what was going on and Redknapp didn’t help the situation at all. Overall Redknapp did a very good job winning 49.49% of his matches and will be very difficult to replace so the new man coming in may struggle under the pressure straightaway. Plus, key players may be more likely to leave no such as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale who will want to play in the main European competition next year.

So the board have a very big decision to make, they need a manager that is going to continue the work Redknapp started or they could end up a mid table club again. David Moyes is currently the favourite to take charge and I think this would be a fantastic appointment, he has worked miracles at Everton, getting them into the top half year after year spending very little money. He deserves to be at a club that can spend more money and I believe he has the ability to take them to the very top, as he always makes astute signings and improves the players he has in his squad. I only see two problems in them getting him and that is, will he be a big enough name to convince their star players to stay and is Moyes holding out for the big job at Manchester United?

Roberto Martinez is linked with every job going at the minute and it isn’t surprising however he could have the same problems as Moyes and not be able to convince their stars to stay. His Wigan team have defied the odds and kept them up year after year playing some very entertaining football and he has shown his tactics can beat the big teams in the league. One result the Spurs fans will remember about Martinez is when he took his Wigan team to White Hart Lane and they got destroyed 9-1 surely the board will remember this and see that he may not quite be good enough yet for a really big job.

Finally, another name I have seen linked with the job is Fabio Capello and a lot of Spurs fans are actually blaming him for ruining their season, if he just stayed as England manager then there wouldn’t have been so much speculation about Redknapp’s future. But looking at Capello’s career would he be able to do a good job? Yes in my opinion because he has shown he can win titles and trophies at club level, he will be judged mostly though by his time as England manager however I think this is harsh as international and club management is very different.

I hope Capello doesn’t get the job but he does offer something different to the other two and that is real pedigree in Europe and will be attract a lot of big names to the club. I really want Moyes to get the job but only if he is given the opportunity to build something at the club and is given money to replace the players that leave.

Moyes has won the LMA manager of the year three times

 

Are Wigan good enough for the Premier League?

After beating Manchester United 1-0, Wigan have given themselves a great chance to stay up this season but are they really good enough to stay up again this year?

Roberto Martinez has a 24.59% win record at Wigan

I am one of the few people that actually had faith that the club would stay up basically because they have been there and done it for a number of years now and they understand the pressure that they are under. It is the same reason why a lot of people believe that Manchester United have already won the title and that is because of their experience in their current situation. But even Alex Ferguson said Wigan are in a false position and are playing some of the best football in the league and yes some decisions went there way in this game but in recent weeks they have had some horrific decisions against them, in particular the Chelsea game where both goals could have been given as offside.

But anyway, Wigan have a lot of quality that may have been missed by a lot of fans and pundits because of the position they are in now. Starting with the manager, Roberto Martinez, he likes to play football in one way and sometimes it works against his team but on the whole they play some good football and are one of the best and most fluent attacking teams in the league when they are on form. If he could sort out the defence then I believe they would be a solid mid table side and wouldn’t have to worry about relegation.

However, saying that Wigan have one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the league in Ali Al-Habsi who has saved his team on many occasions and produced some stunning saves, surprisingly against United he was rarely stretched and you have to give credit to the whole team for that not just the defence. I think when Brad Friedel retires, Tottenham may look to sign Al-Habsi because he wouldn’t look out of place in a top four side.

In defence, they have a bit of experience but maybe not a lot of quality, Gary Caldwell has been there and done it, he has played for Celtic so he knows what it’s like to be under pressure to win games and in the last few weeks he has been in really good form. Scoring the winning goal against Liverpool must have given him and the whole club a boost and they have gone from strength to strength since then.

The midfield is full of quality with James McArthur, James McCarthy and Shaun Maloney who have all looked good in Scotland but now this season are proving they have enough talent to succeed in the Premier League but the stand out player is winger Victor Moses. He may not get as many goals as he should because his shooting and decision making can be a bit poor but his skills and his ability to create a chance out of nothing have been crucial in the last few weeks, even if they do stay up it might be difficult to keep hold of him this summer.

They do not have a lot of firepower up top but they do have a bit of talent in Franco Di Santo and Hugo Rodallega who maybe should get more goals than they do because they do have a goal in them and if they could have produced more consistently then they wouldn’t be in the position they are in now.

Like I said earlier, I always thought Wigan would stay up this year and it will still be difficult but they have given themselves a great chance of being a Premier League club next year and with a few more additions they may not be in this position again next year, although that is probably what the fans thought last summer.