Who will be Notts County’s next manager?

Notts County are looking for a new manager as Keith Curle has been sacked after less than a year in charge.

A defeat to Hartlepool United was the end for Curle and he will be pretty disappointed with this as he had been doing a decent job with the team and they were only five points off a playoff place. Last season they only missed out on the playoffs because of goal difference and the board obviously didn’t want a repeat of that this season. I thought the club would be after a bit of consistency after having six manager since October 2009. Chris Kiwomya is currently the favourite for the job as he is the caretaker manager, however a 2-0 away loss to Stevenage wouldn’t have helped his cause and he probably needs a victory against Crewe to make sure that his name is still in the hat after the weekend. County are 10th in League 1 and if they can put a good run between now and the end of the season then they could find themselves in the playoffs but it certainly won’t be easy. The board will be hoping that the new manager can improve their home form and continue the fantastic away form that they had under Curle.

If the board don’t want to go with Kiwomya then Gary McAllister has been linked with the role recently. McAllister has had two spells as a manager so far at Coventry City and Leeds United. At Leeds he had a pretty good record where he won exactly half of his games. However, he was unable to get the team promoted and was sacked after a string of bad results. Also the fact he has been out of management since 2008 may work against him. He may be a good appointment and could inspire the players
Soccer - Coca-Cola Football League One - Play Off - Final - Doncaster Rovers v Leeds United - Wembley Stadium
A more experienced option could be Gary Megson as he has managed over 600 times in his career so far and has been quite successful. Some people will argue he was harshly sacked by Sheffield Wednesday with the club in the playoffs and if he could replicate his form there then he could get Notts County in contention for promotion. Some County fans wouldn’t be happy with this appointment because his football is not always the most attractive and it has been criticised in the past. I think he could do a good job but it just matters how much emphasis the board are putting on good football.
Gary Megson
A little surprising name linked with the job is Ian Baraclough and although he is a former player, I didn’t expect to see him as one of the favourites, however he is doing a solid job at Sligo Rovers and won their first league title for 35 years. He played over 100 times in both of his spells at the club as a player so he obviously knows the club and will not take a lot of time to settle. His previous spell as manager in England did not go so well, only winning eight of his 34 games in charge of Scunthorpe United.
Ian Baraclough
Others linked with the job are Nigel Worthington, Simon Grayson and Alan Knill.

A Liverpool legend – Jamie Carragher

Jamie Carragher has announced that he will retire from football at the end of the season and hopefully he will stay involved in the sport.
Jamie Carragher
For me, he has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League in the history of the league especially when he started playing centre back. He will go down in Liverpool history and there is no doubting that everyone will remember him after this season. He may not have got the headlines over the years like some of him teammates such as Steven Gerrard, but he has been just as important and proof of that is the fact that he has played over 700 times for the club. He is a one club man which is very rare these days and it just shows that there is still loyalty in football.

At the start of his career Carragher was very versatile and played in a number of positions. He was originally seen as either a full back or defensive midfielder. He was a valuable member of the team but under Gerard Houllier this slightly harmed his chances because he struggled to hold down a regular position and in his early days one of his worst games in his career was against Manchester United when he scored two own goals in a 3-2 loss. However, in the 2000-01 season he had one of the best ever by winning three trophies including the FA Cup, League Cup and the UEFA Cup. During this year he played 58 times which is remarkable. He followed this up with another two seasons of playing over 50 times. After this though his career stalled but this was down to injuries more than anything else and unfortunately this hampered his England chances as he missed the 2002 World Cup.

In my opinion Rafael Benitez needs to be given a lot of credit because he moved him alongside Sami Hyypia in the centre of Liverpool’s defence and even more trophies followed including the Champions League in what has to go down as one of the greatest finals ever. During this game even though Liverpool conceded three goals he came out of it with a lot of credit as he produced two fantastic blocks in the game to keep Liverpool in the game. After this he went on to break the European appearances record after playing in his 90th game in 2007 against Chelsea.

Six years in a row he played over 50 games in all competitions but towards the end of this spell many critics had started to slate Carragher for his lack of pace. But, he was never the quickest and I always felt this was a little harsh. This season he has only played 12 league games but played very well against Arsenal and was given man of the match.

His international career never took off and he only played 38 times and I always felt that he was better than John Terry and he would have been a better choice as they both play in a similar way, and love making last ditch tackles and blocks.

Who is better Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines?

The left back spot for England has been one of those positions that in the last 10 years nobody has questioned who should play there.

But in recent months in particular that has changed with the form of Leighton Baines who has arguably been the best left back in the country for a number of seasons now. However, the problem is he is behind Ashley Cole who even though he is now 32 is still one of the best and most consistent fullbacks in world football. This is the first time that Cole has faced serious competition since he became an England regular. There have been other players that have been included in England squads that can play in the position but to most people they weren’t good enough to replace Cole. By this I mean players like Wayne Bridge, Stephen Warnock, Nicky Shorey and more recently Kieran Gibbs. Two of these players, Bridge and Warnock now play in the Championship and unfortunately their careers have gone downhill very fast. Finally Leighton Baines is getting the credit he deserves and there is a very good chance he could become the top English left back.

I am certainly not writing off Ashley Cole but I think that after he has won hiss 100th cap he may struggle to pick up many more caps from the starting line up after his recent outbursts against the FA. However, Roy Hodgson may not care about this and keep him as first choice at least until after the next World Cup. Not that this would be a bad thing as he is still a fantastic player both going forward and defensively. He may not get many goals or assists but he always makes himself available and lets the player in front of him cut inside and this has no doubt let Eden Hazard and Juan Mata be more creative in the middle of the pitch. Nobody would be annoyed or be against Cole being England’s left back for a few more years yet.

Cole has 99 caps for England

Cole has 99 caps for England

However, if a change was to be made I don’t think anyone would be against Leighton Baines becoming England’s left back for the rest of qualifying and the next World Cup. The 28 year old has 13 caps so far and already has more goals than his rival for the position and if Hodgson wanted a different option for taking set pieces then Baines would be perfect to have on the pitch. This season he has six goals in 27 games and has been arguably one of the best players in the Premier League even though he may not get as many plaudits as he deserves. If he could replicate his partnership with someone at international level like he does at club level wit Steven Pienaar then it will be very profitable for England. His goal against West Brom just proved how clever he is and his composure on the ball is fantastic. Plus, he can also take penalties and everyone in the world knows how bad England are at them.

Baines scored against Moldova

Baines scored against Moldova


So who would you choose?

Who will David Beckham play for when he leaves LA Galaxy?

David Beckham has announced that he will be leaving LA Galaxy in December and this has led to a host of clubs wanting the former England captain.

Beckham, has been at the club since 2007 and has played 116 games for the club scoring 20 goals so he has been a decent servant to the American side and he did capture the attention of the public when he first went over there. It is unclear now whether it will create more interest in the sport over there, because it is not as big as in Europe and this transfer was trying to make it more of a competitor to the likes of basketball and American Football. During his time there he went on loan twice to AC Milan, so maybe the Italian team would have him back on a permanent basis, but to me, this seems unlikely and I think he may be after a completely different challenge.

PSG are the clear favourites at the moment to sign the midfielder and that is because they can offer him a wage that cannot be matched by many other clubs in the world, apart from possibly Manchester City. Which is a club I am fairly certain he will not be joining. The French club though want success and are trying to sign a lot of big names to get them to the very top and competing with the likes of Barcelona. It would be strange if he did sign for them because he is getting old now and I don’t think he is the type of player they should be looking at. They need players that can come in and improve over the next few years, although saying that Beckham’s experience around the dressing room could make all the difference.

Personally, I think he will go out and try somewhere completely different because he has accomplished a lot in Europe and has stated before that the only English club he will play for is Manchester United. There is a small chance they could sign him but they already have Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in their midfield so it doesn’t seem likely that Alex Ferguson will sign another over 30 player.

A few players are going to China at the moment and maybe he wants to try over there and see if he can make an impact. For purely commercial reasons, he would be a success and he would probably make an impact in the leagues so this could be an option for him. But, from the early odds it looks like he may be going over to Australia with Adelaide United and Melbourne Heart strongly linked with him. Beckham, is a legend and he will be a success anywhere he goes, both on and off the pitch, so if these teams are serious about signing him then they may have to pay quite a high wage but they will surely get a lot of their money back just from shirt sales and other merchandising opportunities.

The best overhead kick goals – which is your favourite?

After seeing Zlatan Ibrahimovic score a fantastic goal for Sweden against England it got me thinking, who has scored the best over head kick goal? This is just a few of the ones I could think of straight away so if I have missed your favourite out then I apologise, but just sit back and enjoy.

Starting with the goal tonight:

A legendary goal from Trevor Sinclair:

Brazilian superstar Rivaldo:

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney:

A goal in the Champions League from Bressan:

Dimitar Berbatov against Liverpool:

Peter Crouch in the Champions League:

Ronaldinho when he was one of the best in the world:

Chelsea’s Eidur Gudjohnsen:

Finally, another goal from the Swedish striker:

So, there are the goals I remember, can you think of anymore? Is Ibrahimovic’s against England the best?

 

What will Wilfried Zaha add to the England squad?

Wilfried Zaha has been called up to the England squad and will hope to play some part in the game against Sweden.

Although, it is only a friendly it is a huge achievement for a Championship player to be called up and so far this season the Crystal Palace player has been in fantastic form and has caught the attention of manager Roy Hodgson. His club are flying in the league and now under new manager Ian Holloway he will be given even more chance to express himself on the pitch, as the former Blackpool man wants his team to be attacking and create chances. But, the big question is, does he deserve his call up?

A lot of people believe that he is good enough for the Premier League and has been linked with a lot of different clubs since making his debut in 2009. But, he has stayed at Crystal Palace and will be hoping that his and his current clubs form can continue and they can both play together in the Premier League. He has now played over 100 games for the club and in the last two seasons he has played over 40 games which a lot of players can only hope to play, especially at his age.

He will add something different to the England squad and will be a breath of fresh air which most England supporters have been crying out for. Too long have England fans had to watch mediocre and uninspiring performances and they now just want someone to get them off their seats which players like James Milner (who does a solid enough job on the wing defensively, but against opponents England should be beating, he should come nowhere near the first 11) and Theo Walcott (who has largely underperformed internationally since his hatrick against Croatia) don’t do often enough.

It would be far more exciting turning on an England game and watching Zaha and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the wings then it would certainly make a lot of defences frightened and the England strikers would be expecting a lot of chances to come their way. For too long, England games have been a chore to watch and giving players like Zaha a chance will make fans a lot more optimistic about watching their country.

But why Zaha? Personally, I think he is one of the better English wingers and I am glad he has got a chance because it is more than likely that he will be a big star at club level and internationally. But, is the real reason they have called him up is to convince to sign him up for England instead of his country of birth Ivory Coast?

I don’t think this is the reason he got called up as Hodgson is now starting to give other players chances, such as Zaha and Everton’s Leon Osman and this can only benefit the national side. I hope he gets an appearance in Sweden and proves to everyone that he is a real talent, the only people that may not be happy are the Crystal Palace fans who will have to listen to even more transfer rumours about one of their star players.

Does Wayne Rooney deserve to be captain against San Marino?

Wayne Rooney has been named as England captain for the next qualifier against San Marino but is he the right choice?

With Steven Gerrard ruled out of the game through suspension, manager Roy Hodgson had to make a decision on who should lead the team out and maybe he decided to give it to the Manchester United striker as a bit of a confidence boost. He hasn’t made the greatest starts to the season as he has suffered with a few injuries and has had to play second fiddle to summer signing Robin Van Persie so maybe he is feeling as though he is not the top man anymore at Old Trafford. If, Hodgson has give him the armband for this reason, to make him still feel like he is the best English player then it is quite good man management because it is the first time in a number of years that he hasn’t been the main striker at club level.

But does he actually deserve to be captain? He has matured over the years but he can still be a liability at times as all England fans found out when he was suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012 which meant a lot of people didn’t even want him to go to the tournament. Looking back, he probably shouldn’t have because he was very poor and it meant that players that had just started to get a bit of form in their game were dropped, in particular, Andy Carroll, who seemed to have a good understanding with Danny Welbeck and it could have been the start of a good partnership.

However, he is experienced and has 75 caps so there is no doubting his commitment to England and everyone knows that when he pulls on the shirt and give 100%. Plus, you have to consider the fact that both Gerrard and Frank Lampard are out so the obvious choices are not available. Maybe, this was the only real appointment Hodgson could have made, and he is partly to blame for it but it is the players’ faults that they won’t have this honour. Rio Ferdinand isn’t in the squad anymore because of ‘footballing reasons’ according to Hodgson but we all know it is because he backed John Terry over him and I’m not calling Terry a racist but he said a racist term and was rightfully in the end found guilty by the FA, and because of this Terry quit England so that leaves Hodgson with even less options.

Ashley Cole was linked with the role to mark his 100th cap but because of his tweet I don’t think Hodgson would be allowed by the FA to make him captain, even if he really wanted to. So, that doesn’t leave England with many options as there isn’t really anyone else in the squad that has been a captain at club level never mind internationally. Possibly, the only other real alternative to Rooney is actually Joe Hart and that is simply because he is the only guaranteed starter for club and country every week.

So what do you think? Does Rooney deserve the armband or was he the only real option under the circumstances?

 

Game, Team and Player of Matchday 5

The top two in the Premier League so far is expected with Chelsea and Manchester United leading the race for the title but directly below them Everton and West Brom are having fantastic starts to the season and not many would have expected them to have been in the Champions League places after five games. At the other end of the table, there are six teams still to register a win and the most worried out of them will surely be QPR and Reading who are currently in the relegation zone. Liverpool are the other team in the relegation zone and all of them will be thankful that Norwich City also haven’t picked up a win yet.

I have already mentioned them but they don’t usually have a great start to the season and that is why it is so remarkable that Everton are third in the table and will surely finish in a European place because they usually leave their unbeaten runs just too late in the season to have an effect on them positions. Yet again, they produced a fantastic display against Swansea City and brushed them aside with ease, all of their attacking players were on form and Kevin Mirallas has fit straight into the David Moyes way of playing football and even added a goal to his good performance. Victor Anichebe has now got two goals in two games and he will have a lot of confidence and maybe they won’t miss Nikica Jelavic as much as they thought they would. Another team that are performing well in areas we don’t normally expect is Arsenal because at the back they have been superb and followed it up with another good performance away to Manchester City. I will still give them a lot of praise even though the goal they conceded was an error because in years gone by they definitely would have lost this game and went home with nothing. They also created chances and if their finishing and final touch was better, in particular Gervinho, they could have got all three points. But, the winner of team of the week has to be Southampton. After finding themselves 1-0 down their fans must have thought that their time in the Premier League was going to be very short indeed but they didn’t get on the players or their managers back and they got to see their side come from behind and beat Aston Villa. Two goals from Rickie Lambert, an own goal from Ciaran Clark and a tidy finish from Nathaniel Clyne gave them exactly what they deserved and that was all three points. If they can replicate this sort of form then they may be able to stay up this year but they will need their fans on their side and the rumours of Nigel Adkins being replaced need to go away or it could cause some uncertainty among the players.

Hugo Rodallega may have came back to haunt his old club Wigan Athletic but it is his strike partner Dimitar Berbatov that is a contender for player of the week in my mind because he has shown that he can perform just as well away from home as he does at Craven Cottage. This is what he often gets criticised for but against Wigan he did everything that was asked of him, he held the ball up well and brought teammates into play. His movement was also very good and the Wigan defence weren’t ever sure on who has supposed to be picking him up, and his cross for the first goal was superb so it was a very good day for the Bulgarian. Marouane Fellaini is another player that is proving he is worth every penny his club paid for him. In yet another outstanding performance he goes about his business so effectively, joining up with the front man and getting beyond him whenever he can. He is a lot better in the advanced role where he is playing now and like Yaya Toure at Manchester City he can make the difference in the final third. Another goal was added to his tally this weekend with a powerful header that left Michel Vorm with no chance. However, the man that is getting player of the week is none other than Southampton’s goal scoring hero Rickie Lambert. There were question marks raised on whether he will be able to score goals at the highest level but against Aston Villa he proved he not only knows where the goals is but can set up chances for his team to score. A lot of people just think that Lambert is a big target man but he is much more than that, he likes to drift out wide and get involved in the play dragging defenders away with him so there is more space for midfielders to run into and I’m sure Gaston Ramirez in particular will make the most of that.

Game of the weekend can be a little difficult because some of the bigger games get a lot more attention and don’t really end up being that exciting. But, in my opinion the Liverpool Manchester United game was decent enough with both teams having chances to win the game towards the end. The home side were probably just the better team and will feel a little annoyed that they didn’t get anything from the game, but maybe they just couldn’t push themselves anymore after playing a lot of the game with only 10 men after Jonjo Shelvey was sent off. There were some good goals in the game with Steven Gerrard reminding us all that he can still be a threat going forward and Rafael scoring a goal that some of the Old Trafford greats would have been proud of. The winner did come from the penalty spot after Glen Johnson clumsily fouled Antonio Valencia which makes you wonder how he is England’s first choice right back but that discussion is for another time. Another game that was really entertaining, but a lot more one sided was West Ham versus Sunderland. Steven Fletcher gave the away side the lead and that is basically all they did and had to withhold heavy pressure for a lot of the game, eventually leading to a late goal from one of their arch nemesis, Kevin Nolan. Nolan must love playing against Sunderland as he always seems to score past them and with him being a former Newcastle United player, it must have been extra sweet for him. Game of the weekend, however goes to the Swansea Everton match as it was a really enjoyable game and was played in a very different way to how I expected it. Everton controlled most of the game and Swansea struggled for large periods but they even create some chances that they should have done better with. Everton are getting better and better while Swansea are beginning to slip could this be the game that sends the clubs in two very different directions?

Was there anyone that impressed you? Who would you give the team, player and game of the weekend award to?

Where did it all go wrong for David Bentley?

England beat Moldova 5-0 last night with James Milner playing on the right wing but things could have been so different had David Bentley lived up to his tag of David Beckham’s replacement.

The former Arsenal youngster was tipped for greatness and his attributes were similar to the former England captain with him only needing a yard to put in a cross and not relying on pace or trickery to beat his marker. But where did it all go wrong and why is he now playing in Russia for FC Rostov instead of in the England squad? He has picked up seven caps for his country and did have the talent to be a success but maybe it was his transfer to Tottenham Hotspur that slowed his career and may have effectively finished his international career.

At Blackburn Rovers he was one of their best players and even scored a hatrick for them against Manchester United which not many people have managed to do. In the 2005-06 season he helped the club finish sixth and qualify for the UEFA Cup as it was called at the time. This just shows how far both player and club have fallen away. Bentley followed this up with two more very impressive seasons, playing 97 times, scoring 15 goals and contributing 26 assists for his side and this obviously lead to speculation that he would be leaving the club and there were even rumours that he could be joining Manchester United and in the summer of 2008 he would leave the club for Tottenham Hotspur.

Just looking at the stats of his time at the North London club you can see the problem he only played 42 times in the league in his four years at the club which makes you wonder what the problem was with him because they also splashed out £15 million for him and with his experience and quality in the Premier League it wasn’t seen as a gamble. Although they may have overpaid but that is expected because at the time he was in and around the England squad so his price tag was always going to be high. Other than a few brief moments of quality, in particular his volley against Arsenal in the 4-4 draw and a couple of other goals there isn’t much to say about his time at Spurs, he just didn’t really get the chance and after his first season where he played 35 times he was always behind Aaron Lennon in the pecking order for both club and country.

He has had two loan moves in the last two seasons but neither of them have been particularly impressive, with him spending a lot of time on the substitutes bench at Birmingham City and after agreeing a season long loan move to West Ham United he got injured after only five games and returned to his parent club.

Bentley was always a player I thought highly of, especially at Blackburn where he was a constant threat but there must be a reason why it hasn’t worked out for him since and I hope he can recapture some of his form and come back to England after his spell in Russia and at least be a decent Premier League player.

Who will be the Premier League’s top scorer?

The Premier League season is nearly upon us and the fight for the title, European places and the relegation battles are always very interesting but what about top goal scorer, will it be a one horsed race or will it go right down to the last game of the season.

Last year’s winner Robin Van Persie is expected to join Manchester United and that will surely only help him to become the winner of the Golden Boot for the second season running. Unlike at Arsenal you know that Alex Ferguson’s team will be right up there come the end of the season and they have the players to create even more chances for the striker and if he can develop a good understanding with Wayne Rooney then it could be his best season yet.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero had a fantastic year last season capping it off with the Premier League title but this year he will want to score even more goals and now he has had a full season in England he will just keep getting better and better so he will definitely be up there come the end of the season. He didn’t have the best of times in the Community Shield but there is no doubt he will come good.

Fernando Torres may have been branded a flop by a lot of people but this could be his season as he is now definitely first choice and won’t have to worry that when he misses a chance he will be replaced in the line up by Didier Drogba. He is the main man and now is the time to prove that he was worth the £50 million price tag. With Spain, he finished top scorer at Euro 2012 so he will obviously be very confident and the way he took his goal against Manchester City in the Community Shield shows that he hasn’t lost his finishing ability.

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney has scored a lot of goals already in his career and even though he had quite a poor European Championships he will be back to his best in the coming season. He has proved over the years that he can score a wide range of goals from long rangers to scrappy goals in the six yard box and now has a knack of scoring a lot of goals with his head so he is always a massive threat.

Finally, maybe a little bit of an outsider as he may not always be first choice but Carlos Tevez owes the Manchester City fans this year I feel, because of the way he acted for a long period last season. He did come good at the end of the year but it was almost too late, however his performances were obviously good enough and he ended up lifting the title at the end. But, I am sure he doesn’t feel he deserved his medal and will be doing everything he can to make sure he deserves one this year if they win it and what better way to do that than score the most goals in the league.