Top 10 Premier League Centre Backs

10 – Gary Pallister

Manchester United were so desperate to get Pallister that they broke the record paid for a defender and the centre back delivered for them and was certainly worth the investment. Forming one of the best partnerships with Steve Bruce, he helped the club to four league titles.

Pallister.jpg

9 – Vincent Kompany

One of the bargains of the Premier League era. Manchester City may be able to throw their money around these days but Kompany is still badly missed when he is out of the team and it would seem like no amount of money can replace the Belgian.

Kompany

8 – Sami Hyypia

A Liverpool legend that spent 10 years at the club and certainly a fan favourite on the Kop. Winning many personal awards and helping the club win the Champions league in 2005 would have made not being able to win the league title slightly easier to take.

Hyypia

7 – Jaap Stam

This might be a strange inclusion in the list as the Dutchman only spent three seasons in the Premier League with Manchester United but his quality was there for everyone to see and it isn’t a surprise that he won the title every year he was there.

Stam

6 – Jamie Carragher

At the start of his career he was played in every position on the pitch but when he finally settled as a centre back, he was one of the most consistent to ever play in the position at club level. Was unlucky not to play more internationally.

Carragher

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92 clubs favourite players – Manchester City – Sergio Aguero

Manchester City have a fantastic squad and will be hoping that under Manuel Pellegrini they can compete both in the Premier League and in Europe.

At home so far this season they have been very impressive on the whole but their away form has been suspect and if they are to be successful they will need to improve. All throughout the squad they have quality and it is difficult to choose my favourite player. Their captain Vincent Kompany is one of their most important players and could easily have been the one I chose and they have a number of midfielders that I love watching like Yaya Toure and David Silva but the player I like the most is Sergio Aguero.
Sergio Aguero
Aguero is arguably the best and most in form out and out striker in the world right now and will always have a place in City’s fans hearts after scoring that dramatic winner against QPR in the last minute to win the title. This is probably the best moment ever in the Premier League and it could not have fallen to a better player. Jumping to this season he has already scored 13 goals in 13 games including five in four Champions League games to help lead his team into the knockout rounds of the competition which they have been desperate to achieve for years now.

When new players come into the Premier League there is always the argument that they need time to settle but not Aguero he has hit the ground running and has been pretty consistent and is a menace to opposition defences in every single game. To me he is undroppable, if Pellegrini has any sense he will put Aguero’s name first on the team sheet. This is harsh on his fellow strikers but will Edin Dzeko or Alvaro Negredo be able to score as consistently? I really like both of them but they are not in the same class as the Argentinean. You cannot argue with 43 goals in 73 league games.

What makes Aguero even more special in my opinion is that he always turns up for the big games and this is what separates him from most other players in the world, especially those that score a lot of goals because they get a lot of their goals against the ‘lesser’ teams in the league. Just look at his record against teams that are competing directly with City. While in Spain against Barcelona he scored six goals in 11 games. Against Chelsea five goals in nine games and Manchester United five goals in six games.

Looking at his international career he has scored 19 goals in 44 games which is not bad at all and he will be hoping that at the next World Cup in Brazil he, along with Lionel Messi can get the goals to win the trophy. Aguero is only 25 and will get better and better and is closing in on 200 career goals and if he stays at City he will definitely get to 100 Premier League goals in the next few seasons.

92 clubs favourite players – Liverpool – Jose Enrique

Liverpool have had a great start to the season and they will be hoping this is the year that they begin to challenge for a place in the Champions League.

They have one of the best strikeforces ever seen in the Premier League with both Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge playing some brilliant stuff and looking like a better partnership every time they play together. Add this to some exciting midfielders like Coutinho and Victor Moses they really do look like they will score goals in every game. They still have the main man in midfield Steven Gerrard who has had to change his game in recent seasons and I think he will be even more determined to do well after recent comments made by Sir Alex Ferguson.

But my favourite player for Liverpool is someone that I feel has been largely underrated and that is their left back Jose Enrique. For me he is one of the best left backs in Europe and a lot of people are saying that Leighton Baines, Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole are better than him. In my opinion this is very harsh as I believe on his day (which is most games) he is better than all of them, none of them are as strong as him and he very rarely makes a mistake or is caught out of position. Going forward Baines does have a better final ball but sometimes his gung ho tactics leave his team in danger. As well as Baines played for England it was not a surprise that with him in the team they were getting caught on the counter attack quite a lot.
Jose Enrique
Back to Enrique and I think he gained a lot of praise from a lot of football people because he could have left Newcastle United when they were relegated and went back abroad but he held his hands up and realised he wasn’t good enough and helped them get back into the Premier League. This is what made him a better player and has given him the opportunity to play for a club that will be challenging at the right end of the table and for Liverpool he has rarely put in a bad performance. Out of all the Kenny Dalglish signings he was by far the best and one that they paid a good price for and he lived up to it. But it is under Brendan Rodgers that he has improved even further sometimes playing as a left back and other times as a left wing back he was contributed eight assists in 43 games which isn’t a bad record at all.

It a shame that he has never even been given the opportunity to play at international level for Spain especially when you consider that before Jordi Alba came on the scene it was one of the few weak spots the team had. Unfortunately I do not think he will get the chance but I do not understand that at all. He has proven himself as a brilliant left back in England and could have been their number three for many years to come.

Who will win the Championship?

The Championship is always one of the most exciting leagues in the world and is always one of the hardest to predict.

The relegated teams have a good chance of going straight back if they can keep hold of their best players and as we have seen in previous seasons sometimes the teams that get promoted into the league carry on their momentum and get a second promotion on the bounce.

The favourites to win the league are Harry Redknapp’s QPR and he does have experience of leading a team to the Premier League in Portsmouth so does know what it is all about and will surely get more out of his team than he did last year. The signings he has made so far have been very good and they will definitely be committed to the cause. Richard Dunne and Danny Simpson are both good enough defenders to still be in the Premier League. Karl Henry will add steel to the midfield and Charlie Austin is a proven goal scorer at this level.

Reading only had one season in the Premier League but they have got rid of quite a few of the players that helped them to promotion the last time but they have brought in some good players themselves that have Champions League experience in the shape of Wayne Bridge and Royston Drenthe. Nigel Adkins is a good manager and I feel that he will get the team playing decent football and will be right near the top of the table come the end of the season.

Bolton Wanderers will be hoping for a better year than last year and will hope that Dougie Freedman can do what he started at Crystal Palace in the early part of the season. He has made some strange choices in my opinion letting Marvin Sordell got out on loan when he has proved his ability in the Championship before. But in his defence he has replaced him with Jermaine Beckford who will be looking to prove some of his doubters wrong. Alex Baptiste, Marc Tierney and Andre Moritz are also solid signings.

Whether you agree with what they did last season you have to give Gianfranco Zola and Watford credit for getting the team together and playing as well as they did straight away. It looks like it is a similar story this year but using a slightly different loophole to bring in the players that they want from their owners ‘parent’ clubs. But the most exciting signing they have made in my opinion is Lewis McGugan because he has a decent goalscoring record and will be hoping that he can add something to the already talented team.

The team that I personally think will win the league are Wigan Athletic. The signings new manager Owen Coyle has made are already really consistent players, they may not grab the headlines but they do everything that is asked of them. James Perch, Stephen Crainey and Chris McCann all fall into this category. Then they have brought in more attacking players that will definitely get goals in Grant Holt and Marc Antoine Fortune. Also Scott Carson will be a brilliant goalkeeper and could get the most clean sheets. The only worry I have is if their campaign in Europe takes too much out of them.

Who will be Manchester City’s next manager?

Manchester City are looking for a new manager after they decided Roberto Mancini had not done a good enough all round job.
Man City
In their statement they seemed happy with the work the Italian did on the pitch but his work off it was not up to standard. Mancini did not have the greatest relationship with the board or his players and this has ended up working against him. But, I think he still did a good job and even if the players didn’t like him they still performed to a high level. The question now then is, would they have played even better if they had a different manager? The City board obviously feel that they will and with no trophies this season it was time to go. I really hope this isn’t the start of things to come at the club because I thought they understood football a bit more than other foreign owners and won’t just keep sacking managers every time they have a poor season. Mancini is a good manager but even at Inter Milan he never really came close to winning the Champions League so he was always going to get sacked sooner rather than later at Man City if this didn’t change.

But who will get the job next? The clear favourite is current Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini. Make no mistake about it Pellegrini is a fantastic manager but he is also one of the most unlucky managers in world football. If you look down his honours as a manager there isn’t a lot to see but when you actually look at the statistics it makes you realise how brilliant he is. In his one season at Real Madrid they finished with 96 points, scoring over 100 goals and somehow still failed to clinch the title. It seems like he is going to get the job and he will yet again be a success but will he get the luck at Man City?
Pellegrini
Jose Mourinho is also being linked with the job and this seems very unlikely at the moment with everyone expecting him to join Chelsea in the summer. But if Man City really want the ‘Special One’ then I think they could convince him to join them because they have a lot of money and the board seem a little less controlling than Roman Abramovich at Chelsea so that may just sway his decision. Very unlikely at this stage though.
Mourinho
The next option is someone that I feel has been harshly criticised this season and that man is Rafael Benitez. In my opinion he has done very well at Chelsea and could leave the club with a European trophy and a third place finish. I understand with the team he has they should possibly be closer to the title but with a 56% win record in the Premier League he has proven that if he is given a full season then they will be right in the mix come the end of the season. He came close to winning the title with Liverpool and now with Alex Ferguson leaving Manchester United the title race will be wide open and his experience of being at the very top might just give him the advantage.
Benitez

Who will be the next Everton manager?

Everton are searching for a new manager after David Moyes decided to take over at Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson retires.

Moyes, did a fantastic job and deserves a lot of credit for what he has done at the club and even though he has not delivered any trophies in his time at the club, he has certainly raised the profile of the club and made them a much better side then when he first took over. I am sure there will be some Everton fans that are disappointed in Moyes leaving but that is to be expected but they must surely understand this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, not only for him to manage Manchester United but for a British manager to be in charge of one of the top clubs in the Premier League. Personally, I hope he does really well as this will encourage other clubs to take a chance on British managers rather than constantly looking abroad. His 42.05% win record is very good, especially when you consider that they battled against relegation a few times under him. But, now it is time to look for a new manager to continue the good work of Moyes.

Roberto Martinez is the favourite for the job and I can fully understand why he is being linked with the job. Martinez has got Wigan Athletic playing some good football and if he had better players at his disposal I think he could replicate the finishing positions of Moyes. If Wigan do go down I do think he will leave and I don’t think that should put Everton off getting him in as boss. He is good at bringing in good players at low prices and finding young talent that will go onto bigger and better things and although Everton aren’t a selling club, they do not have a lot of money to spend on transfers so this is a perfect fit.

Someone that has been linked with the job early on is Vitor Pereira and I was very surprised with this. He is currently the manager of Porto and has had a very good start to his managerial career but he was heavily criticised because of their elimination from the Champions League and this may just make him want to leave the club in the summer. He may turn out to be successful and follow in the wings of Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas in becoming a good Premier League manager.

Neil Lennon is also linked with the job and this could be possible because he has won nearly everything at Celtic and at the moment the SPL certainly isn’t very strong and they should walk the league for a number of years to come. This could mean that he wants a new challenge and a good move for him could be Everton and I would like to see how well he would do in England. However, I do think he could be a risky choice because even with all his trophies, he is largely untested at a good level.

Others linked with the job are Phil Neville, Michael Laudrup and Martin O’Neill.

Who will be the next Manchester United manager?

Alex Ferguson has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the season so Manchester United will be searching for a new manager.
Manchester United
Whether you love him or hate everyone simply has to respect Sir Alex because of his phenomenal record. In my opinion he has finished in the perfect way, delivering the title comfortably and bringing through a lot of good young players that will be the future of the club for many years to come. I don’t know how long he has been thinking about this decision but he has definitely wanted to make sure that the club are still the top team in England after he has finished. Nobody can compare to his record of 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions Leagues, a Cup Winners Cup, Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, Club World Cup and 10 Community Shields. He has so far been in charge of 1497 games and won 893 of those, giving him a 59.65% win record but what is even more remarkable is that he only lost 267 games. But now it is time to move on and search for a successor that can continue his work.

The favourite to take over is fellow Scotsman David Moyes who has been doing a very good job at Everton. He has been in charge of the club since 2002 and has been one of the best managers in the Premier League since then, overachieving several times and leading them into Europe on a number of occasions. However, the only worry that could occur is whether he is a big enough name and get the respect of the international players already at the club. Also, he hasn’t won any trophies in his 11 years at Everton, with the closest being a defeat in the 2009 FA Cup final.
David Moyes
Jose Mourinho is also in the running for the post but I am unsure whether this is possible because it does seem like he will be joining Chelsea in the summer after Rafael Benitez leaves the club. But, if they cannot agree a deal with Real Madrid then that could leave the door open for the team from Manchester. I do think that he would be interested and it would be his way of showing that he is the best and the special one by replicating and possibly surpassing Sir Alex’s record.
FC Internazionale Milano vs AS Bari - Serie A 2009/2010
Another name that I do believe deserves a mention is Jurgen Klopp because he is one of the best up and coming managers in Europe. He is only in his second managerial position but he has got Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League final this season and has got the team playing some fantastic football with a good young team. This is where I think he fits in with the way things are at Old Trafford because he will look to the youth and bring in younger players. If he gets the job then I believe he will be a massive success and improve the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp

Who will win the Champions League?

The Champions League has reached the quarter final stage and it is quite wide open at the minute and it is difficult to pick a winner.

Looking at the teams, the favourites are still Barcelona even though they may not have been as dominant as usual in recent weeks. However, they proved to the rest of Europe that they are not going to be easy to knock out. 2-0 down after the first leg, they managed to win the second leg 4-0 and put on a fantastic performance. I do think they can win it but must perform better away from home.

Spanish rivals Real Madrid are second favourite, and you can understand why. They may even be a little annoyed that they aren’t considered the favourites by the bookies but with Jose Mourinho in charge and Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch they look a force and will do everything they can to win the competition. For me I think they can win it because in Mourinho they have one of the best tacticians in world football and some may argue that this is his competition.

Third favourite are Bayern Munich and they probably would have been more fancied had they not limped over the line against Arsenal. After securing a 3-1 away win, it should have been comfortable, however they lost the second leg 2-0 and only went through on away goals. This has obviously caused some concern but it really shouldn’t because they have a fantastic team and they may have just been slightly too complacent. Plus there manager will want to leave the club on a high and win the big trophy.

Another team from Germany have also made it to the quarter finals and Dortmund could be the dark horses in this competition. In the last couple of years they have been a breath of fresh air and will certainly give anyone a game. Throughout the squad they have very good players that have been underrated and maybe don’t get the spotlight as much as they should. Players like Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze are just two that have finally caught the attention this season.

In the Champions League there are always fantastic teams and this year realistically anyone could win it. Italian giants Juventus will not want to be wrote out just yet and will feel that they will be picking up the trophy at the end of the season. Experience has been key and they have been very quiet for a number of years now and may have been fortunate with their last draw against Celtic but they still comfortably beat the determined Scottish side.

Even the sixth favourite team have a chance of winning the competition. PSG have the players, they have the manager and they have the experience to win games when they probably haven’t been at their best. Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have a big say in where the trophy goes, when he is on form he can be lethal but too often he isn’t quite at it. If he and the rest of their attacking talent like Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore backing him up they should score goals against anyone but can they keep it tight enough at the back?

Galatasaray were probably just happy to get to this stage but with recent signings of Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder they may have just set their sights a little higher and they could win the tournament. A lot of people will write them off but it isn’t always the most glamorous club that wins the trophy, just look at Porto when they won it. Also, going to Turkey is never easy and they may get a lot of joy at home in an intimidating atmosphere.

Finally, Malaga are also still in the tournament and for me they are the only team that I don’t believe could win it and that is unfortunate because they did very well getting through the group stages and then knocking out Porto. All the other teams will be hoping to draw Malaga but that could work in their advantage, being the underdog.

It is difficult to bet against Barcelona and they are the team I think will win it but it all depends on the draw, so if they don’t my second pick would be Bayern Munich.

Who do you think will win the Champions League?

Who will be the next Reading manager?

Reading are looking for a new manager to try and keep them in the Premier League after Brian McDermott left the club.

Four successive defeats have left the club bottom of the table and four points away from safety and it would seem that they need to go in a different direction to make sure they do stay in the Premier League but personally I feel McDermott should have stayed in charge for the rest of the season. After leading the club to promotion last season they were expected to struggle and the signings they made did not give me any confidence that they were going to survive this season but they are still in there battling away and a lot of credit does have to go to the manager for that. Recent losses to Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa both at home must have been hard to take and obviously the board felt that these results were simply not good enough. In his 169 matches in charge of Reading he won 76 games, giving him a 44.97% win rate. But they need to bring someone in that can have an immediate impact, so who will be given the chance to succeed?

The current favourite is Paolo Di Canio and I would love to see him managing in the Premier League but maybe not because of his managerial ability, more to do with the entertainment factor and unpredictability he will bring. But to be fair to him he did have a good record at Swindon Town and his crazy methods seemed to be working and he probably should not be unemployed right now. If they do go down then I think the Italian can do a good job in the Championship and at least give them the opportunity to bounce straight back.
Paolo Di Canio
Maybe a more realistic target and a more sensible one would be Nigel Adkins. He is another manager that should not be unemployed and it looked as though he was going to keep Southampton in the Premier League before being replaced. He does not have a lot of experience in the top division but yet again looking more long term he would do a very good job in the Championship. Would he take the job? I think he would be tempted to have another go at the Premier League even if it is only for a few more games.
Nigel Adkins
Another early favourite is Roberto Di Matteo and if they could convince him to join the club then it would be a fantastic appointment. He is a Champions League winner and he, yet again, maybe should not have been sacked by his former club Chelsea. He does have experience in the Premier League and should get the respect of the Reading players straight away and if he can lift their spirits a little he may just do enough to keep them up. He also got promoted with West Brom so he may even stay if they go down. I think they need to look long term and not just try and bring someone in to keep them up and change again in the summer if they fail.
Roberto Di Matter
Others that are linked with the job are Dick Advocaat, Steve McClaren and Alan Curbishley

Assesment of English teams in Europe this week

The English teams in Europe this week all had tough tests and it ended up being a difficult time for some.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United all had games this week. To start with Manchester United were at home to Real Madrid and after getting a 1-1 draw in the away leg, they may have been slight favourites to go through and when they went 1-0 up at Old Trafford they seemed to have one foot in the next round. However, Nani was sent off and the game was taken away from the quickly with goals from Luka Modric and the returning Cristiano Ronaldo ending their hopes this season. The turning point was the red card and it was dangerous play but in my opinion it should have only been a yellow card and Man United should have been in the next round.

Should Nani have been sent off?

Should Nani have been sent off?


Now, the Europa League first legs were taking place and Chelsea were playing Steaua Bucuresti and Rafa Benitez wasn’t given any help from his opponents. His time at Chelsea has been pretty close to a disaster with a lot of people unhappy with him in charge and the players not exactly playing to the best of their ability. They lost 1-0 but should go through by winning comfortably at Stamford Bridge but it is going to be more difficult than Benitez would have hoped.
Will it ever turn round for Benitez at Chelsea?

Will it ever turn round for Benitez at Chelsea?


Tottenham Hotspur had possibly the best looking tie on paper and one that could have went either way against Inter Milan. But they were too strong against the team from Italy and made them look very poor. 3-0 did not flatter them and they possibly should have had more. Gareth Bale added to his growing reputation by scoring the first and Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen were the other two scorers. Spurs do need to be careful and not concede early in the away leg but I feel they have done enough to get into the next round.
Will Bale become one of the best in the world?

Will Bale become one of the best in the world?


Finally, Newcastle United had the toughest tie in the Europa League but got through it and defensively performed brilliantly against Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. They did not offer a lot going forward but could have nicked a result had Hatem Ben Arfa went for power instead of a chip. The two centre back James Perch and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa were fantastic and neither of them have been first choice in that position so far this year (with Yanga-Mbiwa only signing in January) and with Fabricio Coloccini injured at the moment they have both staked a claim for a starting place.
Newcastle's new Mr Consistent

Newcastle’s new Mr Consistent


So who had the best result in Europe this week? Who was the best player for an English team?