Who will be the next Republic of Ireland manager?

Giovanni Trapattoni has left Republic of Ireland after getting beat 1-0 away to Austria leaving them in fourth place.

Trapattoni has been very successful throughout his career both as a player and a manager but it has seemed for a while now that he should go but he obviously felt that he could still turn it around and qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. He won 26 of his 64 games in charge and did get them to Euro 2012 and even though they did not perform that well it was still a decent achievement getting them to the tournament.

The squad is filled with some good players and they should have possibly done better in this qualifying phase, however one criticism aimed at Trapattoni is that he stuck with the same players for far too long. Defensively their best player by a long way is Seamus Coleman and he has started this season fantastically and the new man coming in needs to make sure he is on the pitch as often as possible. Midfield at this moment in time looking at the last squad is a little weak, they have a lot of players that are good but nothing more like Glenn Whelan. Up front they still are relying on Robbie Keane who they need to find a replacement soon because he is 33 and the MLS isn’t the most competitive.

Martin O’Neill is the favourite to take over and initially I was surprised because he is Northern Irish and he may not enjoy international management. Apart from his time at Sunderland he has mostly been successful and would get the best out of most of the players. He may be looking for a new job right now and if he can’t find a club job that he wants then this job could be perfect for him.

Another surprising name linked with the job early on is Mick McCarthy. He has already had the job once and even though he was successful he did have a few problems, for example his much publicised fall out with Roy Keane before the 2002 World Cup. He had a similar win percentage as Trapattoni as manager of Ireland, winning 29 of his 68 games so would he be the man they are looking for? Plus he probably wants to achieve promotion from the Championship again, this time with Ipswich Town although they haven’t got off to a brilliant start so he may be tempted away.

Third favourite for the position is Brian McDermott, another manager that has just recently been appointed by his club Leeds United so that may make it difficult for Ireland to tempt him away. He has only been in charge for 12 games but has only lost three of those so he definitely does have the ability after a largely successful spell at Reading. I personally do not think he will go for the Ireland job but if they did manage to convince him then I do think he would be a success.

Others linked with the job are Roy Keane, Stuart Pearce and Chris Hughton.

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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?

 

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.

Will Thomas Muller join a Premier League club this summer?

Thomas Muller scored in the Champions League final for Bayern Munich but he may be on his way out of the club this summer.

Muller also has 10 international goals for Germany

Last season he spent a lot of time on the bench and it would seem that the 22 year old wants to be guaranteed first team football. He did actually play 53 games last season which is the most in his career but a lot of them were from the bench and he does have the ability and the talent to be a regular in a lot of sides all around Europe. He did still however manage to score 11 goals and play a major part in Germany’s Euro 2012 campaign in particular the qualifiers where he started all 10 games and contributed seven assists. Muller’s versatility works for him and against him because he can play in any of the forward roles which means he is always there in case of injuries but whenever everyone if fit he is put back on the bench just in case someone isn’t having an effective game or is struggling with an injury. But his main strength is his composure as he never looks fazed and if he is given an opportunity to score he will usually take it.

So would he be interested in a move to the Premier League and which teams would he realistically sign for? Tottenham Hotspur are the first team that spring to mind as they are in desperate need of a striker with Jermain Defoe being the only experienced striker at the club and it is not clear whether he will stay either. Muller would fit perfectly into their side with him able to capitalise on the through balls from Rafael Van Der Vaart and the crosses of Gareth Bale, I am sure he would score plenty of goals in England.

Another team linked with a move is Manchester City who will be linked with any player that becomes available and has proved to be a good player for their club. But, I could see them going for the German international because it looks like they may lose out on Robin Van Persie. With them interest in him it suggests to me that they are in the market for a new striker and Muller would fit the bill as he can play in a front two or three and will do a job out wide for them. If Edin Dzeko leaves I think he would be a perfect replacement.

The team that he scored against in that Champions League final, Chelsea have also been linked with a move for him and even though they have spent a lot of money so far this summer they haven’t really invested in their strike force and after losing Didier Drogba they will need some reinforcements for the currently inconsistent Fernando Torres. Daniel Sturridge is still at the club but he probably didn’t play as much as he would have hoped after Roberto Di Matteo took over so he will be hoping for more starts this year. But the new manager may look elsewhere and Muller could be a good signing for them and with Romelu Lukaku joining West Brom on loan they definitely need a new striker at least for backup.

Will Luka Modric stay in the Premier League?

Luka Modric is most likely going to be leaving Tottenham Hotspur this summer after an impressive Euro 2012 and some of the biggest clubs in Europe want the midfielder.

Modric has 17 goals and 26 assists in his 159 appearances for Spurs

Real Madrid are currently the clear favourites to sign him and I hope he doesn’t join the Spanish giants because he brings a lot to the Premier League. The Croatian joined Spurs in 2008 and has been a major reason why they have challenged for a place in the Champions league. He definitely doesn’t get the credit he deserves and is an example of players that are a lot better than there stats suggest, he hasn’t actually got that many goals and assists for the club but his performances have been sublime with his passing being accurate and usually the most important pass of an attack. He picks out his teammates time and time again which allows them to put in a cross or slide it through for someone else to shoot.

Although it is still unlikely at this stage he could still sign for a Premier League club and I think his style of football suits the English league rather than La Liga. So where could he go? Obviously, Manchester United would love to have him with their current midfield either ageing or not quite living up to their potential. Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have been fantastic servants but they cannot play every game and sometimes you need younger legs in there and with Park Ji Sung leaving for QPR there may be extra strain on Michael Carrick and new signing Shinji Kagawa. Anderson and Tom Cleverley can also play in the middle but I just feel Anderson has been a waste and underperformed massively while Cleverely doesn’t have the required experience yet to be first choice.

Chelsea were linked with Modric last summer but couldn’t get him and now maybe they have moved on so I don’t expect them to try and sign him, however, he would fit into their style of play now and could be just what they need, especially when defending their Champions League trophy. Michael Essien will be back to full fitness next season and Frank Lampard will probably not get dropped. The only reason they may want to bring him in is that their new signings don’t have that much Premier League experience between them so they may struggle to adapt to the league and he wouldn’t certainly do a job for the team.

Finally, Manchester City have been linked with a move, however you have to take everything you read about City with a pinch of salt because the papers will link the club with any player that has had a good season. They have enough cover in the midfield anyway and it looks like they are prioritising the signing of Robin Van Persie at the minute. I think if they do make a big signing this summer (either instead of or along with Van Persie) then it will be a centre back as that is where they are weakest.

If Andy Carroll leaves Liverpool who would sign him?

Andy Carroll could be on his way out of Anfield this summer if the rumours are to be believed and a lot of clubs may be interested in his services.

Carroll has scored 2 goals in 7 games for England

The Geordie striker hasn’t had a great time at Liverpool, missing chances and performing poorly in general which has made everyone wonder why former manager Kenny Dalglish paid £35 million for him? In his 56 games as a Liverpool player he has only scored 11 goals but should that put teams off trying to buy him or get him in on loan? In my opinion, no because he showed at Euro 2012 he does have a lot of qualities and can be a good player. Maybe he has struggled because of the pressure of the huge price tag, which should never have been paid for him anyway, or it could just simply be, he isn’t the right fit for the club and this does happen quite often. He’s a powerful striker that on his day can cause any defenders in Europe problems and just needs a manager that will give him some confidence. It is not clear whether he will leave but new manager Brendan Rodgers, only likes to play one up front and with Luis Suarez and new signing Fabio Borini most likely ahead of Carroll in the pecking order it could be time for him to move on.

Newcastle United will always be linked with Carroll, probably for the rest of his career because of the affection he has for the club and his previous performances for them, however, I would be shocked to see this happen as when he left there were conflicting stories on why he joined Liverpool. He said he was forced to leave and some people in the Toon camp claimed he was going to put in a transfer request if they didn’t allow him to leave. Obviously things would need to be patched up before a move is even thought about but with Demba Ba’s future still unclear and Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands leaving the club in the summer, he could be the perfect signing.

West Ham United are also linked with the striker and it wouldn’t surprise me if this rumour was true, manager Sam Allardyce likes to play with a big striker that can hold up the ball for his team and Carroll has all these attributes. In my opinion, he is better than Carlton Cole and will get more goals than him if he joined. With rumours of Ricardo Vaz Te being unhappy, they need another striker and a loan option could work out perfectly for both Liverpool and the Hammers. However, his wages could be a deciding factor, I am not sure whether West Ham would be able to afford his wages at present. One thing that does work in their advantage is that Carroll and their captain Kevin Nolan seem to be good friends and this could sway his decision to join the club.

Finally, the next Premier League club linked with him is Fulham and I am a little surprised at this because he doesn’t seem like a Martin Jol type of player but they do seem to be in desperate need of a striker with them losing Bobby Zamora, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Andy Johnson and Orland Sa in the last two transfer windows. With less pressure on his shoulders at Fulham he could be a fantastic signing and fulfil his potential and possibly even guide the club towards a European place.

Which clubs should be interested in signing Klaas Jan Huntelaar?

Klaas Jan Huntelaar has been linked with a move away from his current club Schalke and a lot of Premier League clubs will be interested in his services.

Huntelaar has scored 31 goals in 56 games for Holland

The Dutch striker didn’t have the best of times at the European Championships playing second fiddle to Robin Van Persie but that shouldn’t worry potential suitors as he had a fantastic season at club level scoring 48 goals in just 47 games which is a remarkable record. The 28 year old has played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe including Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan so he will not be fazed by joining any of the big teams in England. Personally I believe that at these clubs he was never really given a chance and if he was his goal scoring record would be even more impressive, at Real Madrid he only scored 8 goals in 20 games but he only started 13 of these and it was a similar story at Milan where he only got 7 goals in 25 games. He has proved he can score goals at all levels and I would love to see him in the Premier League.

The favourites to sign him would have to be Manchester United as he would fit into their style of play and I am sure winger Antonio Valencia would love to play with him as he is a striker that likes to attack the ball in the box and doesn’t mind putting his head in where it hurts. With the number of crosses the team puts in, Huntelaar could easily get 20 goals if he is first choice. With Dimitar Berbatov’s future at Old Trafford in doubt, I think Man United need another proven goal scorer to play alongside Wayne Rooney. Danny Welbeck has potential but he showed last season he isn’t always on his game and Javier Hernandez not quite replicating his first season form last year, Sir Alex Ferguson may just want to bolster his attacking options.

Liverpool are also linked with Huntelaar and he could easily strike up a good partnership with Luis Suarez. However the Uruguayan’s future at the club is also in doubt and he may be on his way this summer. I don’t see this as a bad thing and Huntelaar would be an ideal replacement, plus he may fit into new manager Brendan Rodgers’ style of play. He usually only plays one up front and he can play this role very well as he can hold up the ball very effectively. He is a lot better than Andy Carroll, so if they can sign him, it would be the end of the Geordies’ career at Anfield.

Finally, Tottenham Hotspur should definitely be looking at him as they only have one recognised striker in their squad at the minute in Jermain Defoe so they need more firepower for next season. They had Emmanuel Adebayor on loan last season but to sign him permanently they would have to pay his huge wage which they don’t seem to want to. Huntelaar, in my opinion is a better player anyway and would give them more than Adebayor. Plus his national teammate Rafael Van Der Vaart would help him settle in and would already have an understanding with him.

My Team of Euro2012

Euro 2012 has been one of the better international tournaments in recent years

Goalkeeper- Gianluigi Buffon- The Italian has been in fantastic form and has produced a number of wonderful saves throughout the tournament. But the main reason I have chosen him as my number 1 is the fact that he has marshalled the defence in front of him superbly even though there have been a number of changes at the back for them.

Right Back- Joao Pereira- For me he did a very good job and was consistent in every game, although he didn’t stand out because of other players in the team, he did not let them down and was very good defensively with little support from Nani on the right hand side. He clearly has a very good footballing brain as he knew that when Coentrao went forward he had to stay back. He has possibly been the most underrated player in the tournament.

Left Back- Jordi Alba- The new Barcelona man wasn’t even a left back until recently but now he looks like he was born to play in that position. He was rarely beaten by a winger and stopped a lot of crosses coming in. But his main strength is going forward and his movement was sublime at times and he gave Spain a bit more width which they lack at times.  You have to be a special player if you add something to the World and European Champions.

Centre Back- Sergio Ramos- Another player that has changed position recently and has done very well there. The Real Madrid defender has carried on his club form for Spain and hasn’t given their opponents a sniff and that is why they have only conceded one goal this tournament. He still adds a threat going forward and he has shown when the pressure is on he remains calm with a wonderful penalty against Portugal.

Centre Back- Mats Hummels- He may not have been very well known outside of Germany but the 23 year old will have caught the eye of a lot of clubs during the tournament. He has everything a centre back should, he is quite quick, good positioning and his marking was on a whole superb.

Centre Midfield- Steven Gerrard- The England captain for me was their best player and seemed to be lifted by getting the armband for the tournament and he didn’t let anyone down. His free kicks were always dangerous and his defending was top class, he blocked a lot of shots and covered a lot of ground. If only England had got him into more attacking positions they may have gone further in the competition.

Centre Midfield- Andrea Pirlo- My player of the tournament by a long way. This has been competition, by himself basically he has dominated teams like England and Germany and even in the opening group game against Spain he looked like the best player on the pitch. His passing accuracy must be one of the best in the tournament but it’s not just his accuracy, it seems like very pass he makes has been well thought out and will create something.

Centre Midfield- Xabi Alonso- You have to have a Spain midfielder in your team and Alonso has been the best in the competition in my opinion. He is the most important to the team as he plays a very unique role, basically he sits alongside Busquets who gives him the ball at every opportunity and looks for a playmaker. Without him in the side I think a lot of their attacks would break down a lot earlier and is irreplaceable in the side.

Right Winger- Alan Dzagoev- Remember him from the group stages? Russia in their opening game and it was largely down to this man as he scored twice and ripped the Czech Republic defence to shreds. Then in the second game he scored against Poland with a header which just showed another attribute that he has. The most disappointing thing about Russia going out was that I couldn’t get to see more of him but he did enough to be in my team of the tournament.

Left Winger- Cristiano Ronaldo- Ronaldo started off the tournament pretty slowly and missed guilt edge chances against Denmark but after the Holland game, I’m sure a lot of people were asking whether this would be Ronaldo’s tournament and when he scored against Czech Republic it seemed even more likely however it wasn’t to be and his decision not to take a penalty against Spain cost the team.

Striker- Mario Balotelli- If he didn’t produce against Germany in the semi final he wouldn’t have got near this team however he did and could now win the Euros and the golden boot. He had been performing quite well, and causing problems for defenders but he wasn’t putting away his chances which meant he was criticised. However, the England defence couldn’t get to grips with him and the Germans had no answer to him.

Player of the day- Sergio Ramos and why I’m glad I watch the Premier League

Spain are through to the final of the European Championships but in all honesty it was a very poor game.

Portugal looked threatening in the first half but then Spain took control and created the better chances in the second half and extra time. Andres Iniesta should have done better when the ball was pulled back to him in the box but the Portuguese keeper pulled off a good save. So the game went to penalties and what did we learn from it, well Spain can hold their nerve and Portuguese footballers clearly aren’t the cleverest first with Bruno Alves being fourth on the list trying to take his third. So who was more stupid Alves for stepping up too early or Nani for letting him walk all the way to the edge of the box before realising he was supposed to be first? In my opinion Crisitiano Ronaldo’s ego cost them the game as he is surely their penalty taker, why didn’t he step up and take it first? Instead it seemed like he would want the glory. However, I may be wrong and he may not have took one but that is very unlikely.

So all in all what did I learn from this game? That even though England aren’t great, the Premier League is the best in the world. There is very little chance of a game being like this and only one shot on target in the first 90 minutes from both teams is a disgrace, even when bottom of the league play top they do still usually get a chance or at least a shot on target. I am already counting down the days till the football season starts again in England as I think there would be more passion, heart, determination and drive in a League 2 game than there was in this game. Some people may argue that it was because their quality cancelled each other out but I don’t believe that as the better players should be able to create at least something in 90 minutes instead we got them overreacting to challenges, surrounding the referee and trying to get their opponents booked.

Man of the match- Sergio Ramos- It was so difficult to choose a man of the match as I was hardly watching the game as I was so bored at times, but the Real Madrid man was very good at the back and showed his strength as well as his composure on the ball. He stopped Ronald from producing his best and was always across to cover his fullback when needed. The penalty that he put away was also very confident and similar to Andrea Pirlo’s against England. Spain will have to up their game in the final but it wouldn’t surprise me if they performed exactly the same and won the tournament as teams seem to now be scared of them and not believe in themselves and try to attack.

Ramos won the European Championships in Euro 2008 playing at right back

Player of the day- Andrea Pirlo and would the Italian get in the Spain team?

England have crashed out of yet another tournament after losing in a penalty shootout against Italy, however they were massively outplayed by their opponents.

The Italians deserve their place in the semi finals and they will give Germany a better game than England would have so at least it will be a good game to watch. It is disappointing that England have gone out on a personal level but to be fair to the players and Roy Hodgson nobody really expected us to win the group so that should be seen as a massive achievement. But, onto the game and it was all Italy and they had numerous chances to win the game and had a lot of attempts on Joe Hart’s goal. Mario Balotelli was threatening in behind with his pace and was almost through one on one but was blocked out by John Terry. The game finished 0-0 and in extra time the pattern of the game didn’t change and the Italians poured more and more men forward with Antonio Nocerino having a goal disallowed just before it went to the dreaded penalty shootouts. Italy won 4-2 with Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missing. I enjoyed the Italian penalties actually as they mostly showed their composure and showed the English how it was done. Balotelli’s was brilliant as no keeper would have saved and Andrea Pirlo’s well it is difficult to describe it as he was under so much pressure and he had took it like he didn’t have a care in the world and it wasn’t in front of millions of people around the world.

Man of the match- Andrea Pirlo- The Italian midfielder is my player of the tournament as he has just been fantastic, every time he gets the ball he produces something special, his through ball to Balotelli was outstanding and his awareness was incredible. He picked up the ball near his own box and casually chipped the ball through right into the path of Balotelli who just couldn’t take the chance. He could have got man of the match just for his penalty but his passing is in my opinion unrivalled as not many players can drop in deep and play little one twos then play a cross field pass with so much accuracy. A lot of people will argue that Spain’s midfielders are better because they have a better passing average but Pirlo dictates a game by himself whereas Xavi and Xabi Alonso etc do it more as a partnership. That is just my opinion and I think if he was Spanish he would get into their first 11.

Has Pirlo been the best player at Euro 2012?