Top 10 January 2016 Transfer Window Signings

10 – Anthony Knockaert (Standard Liege to Brighton)

Brighton had a fantastic start to the season but recently they have lost their form and are in a real battle to stay in the playoffs. They needed a spark and Knockaert could just make the difference come the end of the season.

Anthony Knockaert

9 – Steven Caulker (QPR to Liverpool)

This might seem a strange one but Caulker has a lot of potential and at the age of 24 he could go on to become one of England’s leading centre backs. He is better than what Liverpool have, if Klopp stops playing him upfront.

Steven Caulker

8 – Leroy Fer (QPR – Swansea)

Yet another QPR departure and with them getting relegated from the Premier League last year it would seem like they don’t have the quality but in Fer they had a midfielder that can really grab hold of a game which Swansea are in need of.

Leroy Fer

7 – Gianelli Imbula (Porto to Stoke City)

When he joined Stoke eyebrows were raised, especially when they broke their transfer record to bring him in. £18.3 million is a lot of money but Mark Hughes feels he needs more power in central midfield and is the replacement for Steven N’Zonzi.

Gianelli Imbula.jpg

6 – Steven Naismith (Everton to Norwich City)

He was not prolific for Everton but he can score goals when given the chance. He has got off to a decent start at Norwich and they certainly need more goals in their team if they want to stay in the top flight.

Steven Naismith

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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 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 Chelsea manager?

Chelsea have sacked their manager Andre Villas Boas and will try to find someone who can deal with Abramovich, Terry, Lampard and Drogba.

I do not who is worse because it is blatant that these players run Chelsea and if they don’t like a manager then he will not last very long. At least Abramovich owns the club and can do whatever he wants because it is his money that he is pumping into the club but the players have no excuse, it doesn’t matter who the manager is, he deserves respect and should have full control over the team and not be influenced by players. This is why I feel sorry for Villas Boas because he is only a young manager and would have had a great future at Chelsea if the old regime weren’t there. I blame Mourinho slightly for this because he gave the players the confidence and made them feel like they were the best in the world and now nobody can control them.

This is why Jose Mourinho should be a contender for the job and if Chelsea want to be real challengers for the title then they have to bring the man in at all costs. He is the ‘Special One’ and nobody can argue with his record, everywhere he has been he has won trophies, including the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan. In his first spell, he only lost 18 games out of 185, so why did he ever leave? Abramovich is the reason  and he needs to swallow his pride and do whatever is necessary to make sure that Mourinho manages Chelsea again because they desperately need him.

However, if the club don’t want to hire him then there are plenty of other candidates, Rafael Benitez has been linked with the job and he has also won the Champions League which is what Abramovich wants so that gives him a good chance. But when he was manager of Liverpool, he did a solid job but nothing more than that, he got them into the Champions League most years and had a decent win percentage. However, between him and Roy Hodgson they have left Liverpool in a position that they probably shouldn’t be in. Also, his last job at Inter Milan went horrifically even with some world class players like Wesley Sneijder, he could not get them to perform. He may get the respect of the players because of his achievements but this is not a certainty with the massive egos at the club.

Finally, Pep Guardiola is a huge name in the game and has won loads of trophies at Barcelona and therefore if he wants the job, he should probably be given it. Will he want the job though? He might want a new challenge especially if he wins the Champions League yet again and he might just want to test himself in a new environment. However, if he did come to England I think he would rather go to Manchester United or Arsenal because I think they would suit him more.

Mourinho and Guardiola

An outsider is David Moyes but this is very unlikely as he isn’t the biggest name and I think Abramovich cares about that and will take it into consideration. The next manager should be Mourinho and if they can patch up their differences then Chelsea will be a force yet again and the players will know who is boss. Player power cost Villas Boas his job but I don’t think that could happen to Mourinho because he has a bigger ego than all of them put together and this is the reason why he is so successful.

Pressure is building on Andre Villas Boas at Chelsea

Andre Villas Boas is the favourite to be sacked next in the Premier League after they have failed to live up to their pre season expectations.

It is not surprising that he is under pressure as the team are not certainties to qualify for the Champions League next season and are in danger of going out of the competition after a horrific defensive display away to Napoli. In this game they made Sunday League defenders look like professionals with poor positioning and poor decision making. Petr Cech kept them in the game for a while and when Juan Mata put them in front the fans must have been thinking finally our season is looking up. But they couldn’t even hang on until half time and went in at the break 2-1 down. AVB does not strike me as the type of manager that is going to rip into his players and throw things around the dressing room, this is a very bad thing at a football club because I believe players will play better if they have a slight ‘fear’ of the manager. They will want to perform better because they will not want to be screamed at by their manager, this is why Alex Ferguson has been one of the best managers ever along with Brian Clough, who have both been known to get their message across one way or another.

AVB has already admitted that player power can be a problem and because of his young age he must be struggling to gain the respect of the players. He has tried to drop players such as Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba so everyone knows who is the boss but it still does help the team get results. Against Birmingham City when Drogba came on at halftime he lifted the whole place and was even seen giving his teammates a pep talk in the tunnel which makes you wonder what AVB was doing.

If he gets given the time, he will probably turn Chelsea into a force again as he does seem to be a good manager and his record at Porto was amazing. You can see what he is trying to do as Chelsea have been criticised in recent seasons for having too many players the wrong side of 30 which means that he has tried to get rid of a few players, or at least fade them out. But this will take time as replacing a goal scoring midfielder like Lampard or a proven striker in Drogba will be difficult, especially when Fernando Torres has been dreadful and has not looked like he is going to get back into the groove of scoring goals anytime soon.

The Portuguese manager does have a 47% win record, which is actually quite good but the Chelsea board and fans were hoping it would be closer to the 88% win record he had when he was at Porto. I hope he keeps his job and gets to grips with the Premier League and also realises that in this country sometimes the players need the dreaded hairdryer treatment.

How serious are Manchester United and Manchester City going to take the Europa League?

It may have been easy for the two Manchester clubs to not take the Europa League seriously so the draw has actually helped the competition with two very exciting ties which wouldn’t have looked out of place the Champions League. Two tricky away ties were up first for the teams with United playing Ajax and City playing Porto so this was a great opportunity to see whether the managers believed this competition was worthwhile or not.

Let us first start with United, (because there game was first not because of preference) they picked quite a strong team but also took the opportunity to give a few players an opportunity to get minutes under their belt after recovering from injury. Tom Cleverley and Fabio started and these two were probably the only two that could have been replaced by better players but nevertheless they have enough experience to be put in the side in a big European game. When Patrice Evra was left in Manchester, I was a little worried Alex Ferguson was not taking it seriously but his reasoning was acceptable enough as it had been a tough week for the French left back with the whole Suarez saga. His pre match press conferences also confirmed that he wants to win this competition now he is in it as it is the only one he has not won as United manager and we all recognise Fergie does not accept defeat against any team in any competition. So, he started Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez up front and it worked well with Hernandez scoring the second goal and ultimately putting the tie to bed. As previous stated, it was an opportunity to give players with fitness doubts a game and Ashley Young was one of these and he played quite well and opened the scoring which will give him confidence for the remainder of the season.

Now, onto City and they probably had a more difficult tie against Porto as the Portuguese team have been in fantastic form and very rarely lose at home in any competition. When Varela opened the scoring for Porto, the City fans must have thought it may be difficult to get back into it but the players themselves showed that they are ready to compete and even though it’s not where they want to be, they still want to win as much silverware as they can this season. An own goal got them back in the game but in fairness they had deserved it as they had created quite a few opportunities. They went onto win the game with Sergio Aguero grabbing the winner from off the bench. This shows that Mancini wanted to rest him but had enough respect to have him on the bench to bring on if he was needed. A draw would have been a good result, but obviously the manager wanted more and this is why he brought on Aguero and this shows that he also wants to win the competitions.

I believe it is a good thing both Manchester clubs are in the Europa League because they will want to outdo each other and get further than the other. If only one of them had dropped into the tournament then I think they may have decided to focus on the Premier League more and forgot about Europe this season. Now, the Europa League will also gain more attention than it usually does which can only be a good thing for UEFA.