Who will Dimitar Berbatov play for next season?

Dimitar Berbatov’s time at Manchester United looks like it is coming to an end this summer with him not featuring as much as he would like in the season just gone.

Berbatov has also scored 48 goals in 77 appearances

But is his time in England coming to an end? He has a really good record in England and has performed quite well for both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. When he signed for Spurs he was well known in Germany after scoring 91 goals in 201 appearances at Bayer Leverkusen and after his first season in England he was one of the most feared strikers in the country. He scored 23 goals in both his seasons at Tottenham and formed a very good partnership with Robbie Keane. He was often criticised by fans because he was seen as lazy and not very interested but his quality was never in doubt and he showed amazing composure at times and deserved his move to a team challenging for the title in my opinion.

At Manchester United, he won two Premier League titles and even finished up as the league’s top scorer in the 2010-11 season after hitting 20 goals in 32 games. Apart from that season though he didn’t quite hit the heights and only got 56 goals in all competitions for the club. However last season it was really surprising that he wasn’t used more as he got 7 goals in 12 Premier League games, when they needed a goal in a game I don’t understand why he wasn’t given more of a chance.

It is more than likely that he will leave England and go back abroad but if he doesn’t, who would have him in the Premier League? The first team that may be interested in his services could be Liverpool as they have struggled to put away their chances these years, and he would surely add more than what Andy Carroll has. A problem could be whether Sir Alex Ferguson will sell a player to Liverpool, he basically refused to sell Gabriel Heinze to them a few years ago. Another problem could be whether the new manager would want him and also how he would get him to play alongside Luis Suarez as they are both quite similar and like to drop deep.

Newcastle United could also be interested in Berbatov and I think he would be interested in joining the Magpies as his idol was Alan Shearer and he used to sleep in a Toon shirt so I’m sure he would like to play for them at some point. They are in Europe and they may have to replace Demba Ba this summer if he leaves as all the rumours are saying. The price tag could put the club off and the fact that he is getting towards the end of his career will put Alan Pardew off. I think it would be a good signing but not likely to happen.

A return to Tottenham could be on the cards as they will be in need of a striker as they may not be able to keep hold of Emmanuel Adebayor. I don’t think his wages would be as high as the Manchester City striker either so he could be a very good option but I’m not sure he would fit into their style of play anymore as they like their main striker to be a bit more of target man.

Berbatov can still do a good job in the Premier League but he will probably go abroad to a team like PSG or even be included in a swap deal for a Borussia Dortmund as Manchester United have been linked with a few of their players like Shinji Kagawa and Robert Lewandowski so that could be very good deal for both clubs.

Is Stuart Pearce the right man for England?

Stuart Pearce has been put in temporary charge of England but could he possibly be the man to lead the nation fulltime? He has been working in international football for a number of years now, albeit with the under 21s but this experience could be invaluable as everybody knows being an international manager is very different to being a club manager. Dealing with players is a big part of being a club manager but on the international stage you see them for two weeks then they disappear for a couple of months. Therefore you don’t get to see the players day in and day out, so that is why I believe some managers do not take to international management as well as others. Using Capello as an example, he has a phenomenal record as a club manager possibly because of his reputation as a disciplinarian but he couldn’t exactly stamp his authority on players because after they left they could go back to doing whatever they wanted.

So back to Pearce, who actually had his first role in management back in 1996 when he was caretaker at Nottingham Forest but that was only until the end of the season and there was nothing he could have done to have saved them from relegation although he did win manager of the month while he was in charge. This was very early in his career and this was shown by the fact that when he left Forest, he carried on his playing career with Newcastle United, West Ham United and Manchester City.

He got his next chance in club management at City and it started brightly with them almost qualifying for the Europa League but a missed penalty in the last minute cost them a place. Pearce was prepared to make a few bold decisions which included taking off an outfield player for a goalkeeper so David James could play upfront which was very strange to see but at least it shows that he doesn’t mind taking a risk when he needs to. At City it was the first time he was linked with the England job but was obviously not chosen because he lacked experience. City began to struggle and were involved in relegation battles which eventually led to Pearce being sacked in 2007.

Pearce was handed the under 21 job on a permanent basis and they have performed admirably reaching the semi final in 2007 losing out in an epic penalty shootout against Holland and getting to the final in 2009 but being destroyed by Germany 4-0. However, this German side was brilliant and many of the players actually played in the World Cup against the first team in South Africa and we all know how that ended. However in 2011, the team failed to even get out of their group, although they did secure a very good draw against eventual winners Spain.

So should the man once known as Psycho be the next permanent manager of England? Of course he has the passion and the determination to succeed but sometimes you need more than that and his record so far does not suggest he will win a major tournament. However, if he was to be appointed, England would be copying Germany, with them hiring Joachim Low the former assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann and this has worked out very well for them. So who knows maybe he will bring back the passion and desire to succeed for the national team because at times it has looked like the players are not motivated to play for their country so at least under Pearce there would be no fear of that.

Finally Capello does something good for England

The news that Fabio Capello has left England is probably one of the best bits of news England fans have had for years especially after the disaster of the last World Cup. He decided to stand by John Terry and what an awful decision that was, I don’t think he realised the seriousness of the situation. How many chances was he going to give Terry, he has had the captaincy taken off him once so surely he should never have given him it back.

But let’s not focus on the reason why he left but what he did while he was in charge. When he first took charge there was an air of optimism among the supporters as he came with a very good reputation and had won a lot of trophies as a club manager. However, on the other side of this most would have preferred an English manager and Capello didn’t help the situation by not even learning the language properly, once claiming that he only needed 100 words of English to tell his players what to do which surely shows that he did not even put his all into the job. When you get a big job in a new country the first thing you have to do is learn the language and connect with the fans.

He made a strange start to his managerial career at England by deciding to choose a different captain in his first few games. Why do this? Surely it would have been better and more decisive to name a captain and stick to it but no Capello wasn’t decisive so why did he do it? Was it to show that he was the boss and nobody can cross him, well it didn’t work and his players got away with a lot during his time and he at times didn’t know what to do at all.

In his first qualifying campaign, it was quite impressive by England winning all their games apart from a defeat away to Ukraine, including a 4-1 win away to Croatia with Theo Walcott scoring a hatrick. But this is when it all started going wrong when England played a pre World Cup game against Japan and only won because of two own goals which was an embarrassment because of how bad they played. Then we all know things got worse with a 1-1 draw against the United States after a mistake from Robert Green who Capello had chosen as number one for the tournament. I think he made another mistake here because he should have kept faith with Green or played David James in all the games, it just showed that he knew he made a mistake but then blamed the ball for the error saying it was impossible to control. A 0-0 draw against Algeria is one of the worst results in England’s history. The Germany game was a disgrace, yes Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ should have been given but England deserved to go out and the 4-4-2 formation was not working yet, Capello didn’t change and playing Steven Gerrard on the left wing angered everyone.

He should have gone after the tournament but he stayed and in fairness to him, England have qualified for Euro 2012 although the group wasn’t the hardest. And he also led England to a 1-0 win over Spain but it was very lucky and England didn’t deserve the win.

So, Capello was getting paid £6 million a year and he has basically left us in the same position as when he was appointed, so he could be seen as the worst England manager in recent years. At least Steve McClaren was a cheap option. He had a win record of 66.67% but this isn’t saying a lot as in qualifying England played some terrible teams and not even fully professional teams so therefore it isn’t a fair reflection.

Let’s just get Harry Redknapp in and forget about these last few years. And let’s hope that John Terry does not get on that plane to the Euros.

The worst way to win… Penalties

Penalties is the most heartbreaking way to lose a game of football especially if you went down to ten men during the game like Crystal Palace did away to Cardiff. After Patrick McCarthy got sent off for two bookings, the Palace team defended brilliantly and did everything they could to keep Cardiff from scoring.

Cardiff missed opportunities and over the two legs they probably deserved to win the tie but Crystal Palace must feel hard done as they put in a very committed display and a draw would have been fair but the rules state that the tie had to be decided that night and when it came to it their players failed to keep their cool missing three of their penalties. With Jonathan Parr missing the target completely and both Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell seeing their spot kicks saved by Tom Heaton they must be travelling back to London deflated and absolutely devastated to have missed their best opportunity of getting to a cup final in a long time.

Tom Heaton will be seen as the hero and will grab all the headlines in the morning papers whereas Kenny Miller who actually missed for Cardiff will hardly be mentioned unlike the Palace players that missed will be portrayed as villains.

Although this isn’t directly the same it is yet another time when England have failed to win a game because of penalties. England have been knocked out by Portugal and Germany which was heartbraking both in 1990 and 1996.

So what goes into taking a penalty? The most important thing a player needs is confidence and players that put their names forward deserve great credit as they are basically putting themselves forward to be shot down as they have put all the pressure on themselves to succeed as their opposite number, the goalkeeper, can only be a hero because nobody expects him to save the penalty.

The longest walk a player must take in his career is when he knows it is his turn next and has to walk from the centre circle to the penalty spot and look at the fans behind the girl which will either be his own who will be trying to encourage him or towards the opposition fans who will be doing all they can to put off the player. That walk must be so nervous and basically takes away the majority of a players footballing ability because it is one kick and one opportunity and although people say practice makes perfect, it doesn’t matter how often you practice taking penalties, you may choke on the big stage or the keeper could pull off a great save.

Another thing that would make anyone feel nervous is when a player places the ball and is all set to take it and then the referee tells them to replace the ball, it must ruin all momentum and cause panic as the player will be focused then all of a sudden they are taken out of the zone because the referee has spoke to them as the best penalty takers block out all the noise around them and just hit the ball.

Another thing that is important to remember though and the best advice to give to someone taking a penalty is that the goalposts do not move, they are in the same place every time and you are only 12 yards away. If you are a striker and you have a chance from 12 yards unmarked you are expected to score and most good strikers do put them away and therefore every penalty should go in.

However as I have said pressure can get to everyone and if a chance falls to you in a game it is a split second moment whereas you have so much time to think about it when taking a penalty especially in a shootout.

So is a penalty shootout the best way to end a game? In my opinion, yes because games have to come to a conclusion in some way and even though it is slightly unfair, every single player is under the same pressure and therefore it just comes down to whoever can hold their nerve the most.