Who will be Preston North End’s new manager?

Preston North End are looking for a new manager after Graham Westley was sacked and are hoping that a new manager can improve results.

The club are currently 17th in League 1 only five points above the relegation zone but more worrying for the board and everyone involved with Preston is the fact they have only won one league game since November. The club were hoping for more stability, but this hasn’t happened and it is now the fourth season in a row that they are searching for a new manager. Westley was given a lot by the board because in the summer he was allowed to bring in a completely new squad so he cannot use the excuse that they weren’t the players that he wanted at the club. I expected a lot more from both Preston and Westley this season and am surprised that they are towards the bottom of the league. Westley was in charge for 62 games but could only manage 16 wins leaving him with a win percentage of 25.81% and after his time at Stevenage he probably thought he could get this team back in the Championship. So who will take the job and guide them to at least safety this season?

The favourite for the job is currently Simon Grayson, who has been very successful in League 1 in the past, guiding Blackpool, Leeds United and Huddersfield Town to promotion from the division. He would be a great appointment and even though Huddersfield were on a bad run, I believe he would have kept them in the Championship this season. Unfortunately though for Grayson it does look like he has to drop down into League 1 to get another job as I can’t see many Championship teams giving him a chance yet.

A surprising manager that is linked with the job and is one of the early favourites is Gareth Ainsworth. He is currently player manager at Wycombe Wanderers and even though he does have a decent record of only losing 10 of his 27 games in charge, surely that is not yet good enough to make the jump to a higher division with a team that wants to get promoted. I do like Ainsworth and would want to see him get a chance but I just don’t think he would be the right appointment at the moment. However, he is a former player and had one of his best seasons as a player at the club, getting 11 goals in 38 league games during the 1993-94 season.

Finally, Owen Coyle has been linked with the job and this would be an interesting one because he failed to get Bolton Wanderers back to the Premier League and will have to rebuild his reputation slightly and Preston could be the perfect club for him. It is just a question of whether a manager with Premier League experience with two clubs wants to drop down to League 1.

Others linked with the job are Steven Pressley, Paul Dickov and Gary Megson

Advertisements

Who will Victor Moses play for next season?

Victor Moses’ future at Wigan Athletic is in doubt after a lot of interest in the winger over the last few months but the club are standing firm.

Moses has played 72 games in the Premier League

Manager Roberto Martinez clearly wants to keep him and owner Dave Whelan will not sell him unless it is right for the club which could well mean that Moses has to stay at the DW next season whether he likes it or not. I don’t think it would be a bad thing for him to stay as he has only had two full seasons in the Premier League and is only 21 so why not stay and get more experience which he would not definitely get at another club. Plus, if Wigan can build on their good end to the season they may not be in a relegation battle next season so it could be a good place to be. Moses only missed one Premier League game last season and he must enjoy being classed as one of their best players and maybe he should show some loyalty to the club as a lot of clubs were interested in him when he was at Crystal Palace but nobody else took the chance. Last season he scored six goals and got six assists which shows he does have the quality to be a success and would flourish at a top six club.

The main club chasing him are Chelsea who are reportedly putting in a final bid to test Wigan and it is believed to be around £7.5 million which may be slightly too much for him and Wigan may have to accept the offer. They may try and hold out for £10 million but if the final offer is true then I think they will accept if they get the chance to loan a player off Chelsea too. Moses shouldn’t join Chelsea and I hope current teammate Franco Di Santo tells him that first team opportunities are hard to come by and at this stage of his career he has to be playing games. I can’t see him playing ahead of Eden Hazard and Marko Marin so he would spend a lot of time on the bench.

Arsenal may be a better option for Moses as they are looking likely to lose Robin Van Persie this summer and Theo Walcott seems reluctant to sign a new contract so there could be a place up for grabs. Arsenal would have a lot of pace in their team if they could sign him and their front three would look very threatening with Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. However, is Moses good enough to be first choice for a team that is competing in the Champions League and may be expected to challenge for the title?

So maybe he needs to be looking slightly lower down the table if he wants to leave and Liverpool could well be interested in him as they need a replacement for Dirk Kuyt. With Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing failing to deliver in their first season they definitely need more of a threat from a wide position. Rodgers likes to play 4-3-3 so he could easily fit into that formation but I think this transfer will all depend on Craig Bellamy’s future, if he leaves then Moses would be a great signing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who will Craig Gordon sign for?

Goalkeeper Craig Gordon has been released by Sunderland after losing his place as their number one this season.

Craig Gordon has played 40 times for Scotland

The Scotland international was signed for £9 million in 2007 which at the time was the highest fee a British club had paid for a goalkeeper and to begin with it looked as though he was worth every penny. But soon things started going wrong as he was dropped to the bench after conceding seven goals against Everton. His first season at the club he played the most games in his Sunderland career and eventually Simon Mignolet took his place permanently and towards the end of last season it was obvious that he wasn’t going to get a new contract. However, one of the finest moments of his career must have been his save against Bolton Wanderers in 2010 which was voted the best save at the Premier League 20 seasons awards.

He does still have his admirers and I’m sure a lot of clubs will be hoping to convince him to sign for them. Surprisingly though, Tottenham Hotspur are linked with him and I was really shocked by this as they have a very good number one in Brad Friedel who is very consistent and plays in every league game, even though he is getting towards the end of his career, it doesn’t look like he is planning to retire anytime soon with some very impressive saves last season. However, if Gordon is willing to wait for at least a season he could become Spurs’ number one in a few years time and in the meantime he will still be playing Europa League and cup football which is something that he didn’t even get at Sunderland. So if the interest is genuine then I could see this transfer happening.

A more realistic transfer could be to Celtic as he has already proven that he is one of the best ever in the Scottish Premier League when he played for Hearts as he was inducted into their hall of fame at the age of only 24, which makes him the youngest player to receive this honour. Celtic may need a goalkeeper too as Fraser Forster was only on loan from Newcastle United last season and even though his contract has expired there, compensation will still need to paid which could be up to £2 million. With Gordon being a free, I think he would be a much better option anyway as I have never been convinced by Forster.

Finally, another team I have seen linked with goalkeeper is Wigan Athletic and this does not seem likely to me either unless they are losing Ali Al Habsi in the summer because Al-Habsi proved time and time again last season that he is too good for Wigan and should be playing for a team that is challenging for Europe. So if Al Habsi leaves then yes I think Gordon would be an adequate replacement but I cannot see him becoming their number one if the Oman international stays at the DW.

Millwall win 1000th league game in honour of Barry Kitchener

The Lions were founded 126 years ago and against Hull City they won their 1000th home league game which is an amazing accomplishment.

Millwall are currently 19th in the Championship

Not only was it a historic victory but also a much needed victory with the current team struggling at the wrong end of the Championship, they needed to try and pull themselves away from the relegation scrap. It was a long awaited victory at home too as they had been waiting for quite a while to reach this landmark, this is their first home win in 2012 which just shows the problems manager Kenny Jackett has had this season. Maybe the players and staff had this record playing on their mind and it needed something else to give them the inspiration to go out and perform which they did. It was a very emotional day at The Den with the club paying tribute to former centre back Barry Kitchener who sadly died at the age of 64 last week. Kitchener, was a fantastic servant to the club and he himself must have seen many home wins and he was the record appearance maker for the club which most certainly makes him a club legend.

The home side must have wanted to win for him and the club as a special tribute to him wore a special white kit, this clearly inspired the players to perform as the defended brilliantly and looked like they could have scored more goals than they should have done in the game. Harry Kane and Andy Keogh grabbed the goals but Paul Robinson at the back was immense and there was no chance he was going to let an opposition striker score.

Looking to the future and Millwall could have a bright future, if given the time to grow because they have a fantastic and sometimes underrated manager in Kenny Jackett who has kept calm even when the club were right in the thick of the relegation battle. They have a very strong captain in Paul Robinson who on his day could possibly be playing in the Premier League but has been very loyal to Millwall and the fans seem to love him too.

They do have a lot of talent in the midfield too with Liam Feeney a winger that possess real quality and has pace to burn and in the centre they have Liam Trotter who for a player that may be seen as more of a holding midfielder can grab the odd important goal.

Darius Henderson is one of their main strikers and he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there is no doubting his effort and commitment when he goes onto the pitch. Add this to his 19 goals this season and you have a player that is very useful at this level and if they can get it right at the back next season they maybe outsiders for the playoffs.

The fans at Millwall do get a rough ride for their reputation but in recent years there has been a massive improvement and they show all their passion every week to support their team. Football hooliganism does need to be stamped out of the game but in the match against Hull in memory of Barry Kitchener, both sets of fans were amazing and they gave the great man an honourable send off.