92 clubs favourite players – Hull City – Sone Aluko

Hull City have done quite well so far this season and under Steve Bruce they have a great chance of avoiding relegation this year.

They are certainly not a team of superstars but they work very hard and they have seemed quite organised and this has meant that after eight league games they have picked up 11 points and are currently sitting in ninth place. They made some good signings in the summer that added Premier League experience to the squad including Steve Harper, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore. But my favourite player of the current squad is arguably the most exciting player to watch and is someone that when he is on the pitch will cause Premier League defences problems as he has already shown.

That man is Sone Aluko who already has a goal and two assists in his eight league games this season so he is showing that he can cut it at this level. It was a real shame when he got injured part way through last season and it did show as the team did not look as threatening and in the end it almost cost them automatic promotion. Eight goals in 23 games was a good return for someone that usually plays out wide but with his pace and directness it is not a surprise that Hull City are a better team with him in the side and if they are to be successful this season they need to try and give him as much of the ball as possible.
Aluko
Aluko did start his career in England but it was over in Scotland where he made his name and although his record does not seem too great at Aberdeen where he only scored 12 goals in 118 games, he showed enough quality for Rangers to take a chance on him, although it is worth noting that he did also assist 21 goals at Aberdeen so he was involved in 31 goals at the club. But it was at Rangers when he went to the next level and 12 goals in 23 games showed his qualities and another five assists for them was impressive. I think he would have got even better at Rangers but unfortunately he could not continue his career there because of the club’s much publicised financial problems, so he got a move to England and gaining promotion in his first season must have been a great feeling for him personally.

Steve Bruce was the man that took a chance on him and there must be some trust between the two of them because Bruce was in charge when Aluko was a young player at Birmingham City and gave him a chance in their first team. Aluko is still only 24 and will continue to get better and I am glad that he is getting the chance to show his ability in the top division in England and it would not surprise me if he was linked with a move away from Hull in the next few transfer windows if he keeps developing.

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Who will be relegated from the Premier League?

Relegation from the Premier League can be tough to take and for most clubs their aim at the start of the season is just to stay in it.

Every season it seems to go right down to the wire with more and more teams getting involved in the relegation scrap. The promoted teams are always the ones that are favourites for the drop and this season is no different.

Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace are the favourites to go down and this is probably what he wanted anyway because he feels his teams perform better when they are the underdogs. I am not convinced by the signings that he has made either but it did almost work for him at Blackpool, so second time lucky for him. New signings Dwight Gayle and Marouane Chamakh will need to start well and be regular scorers and Jerome Thomas will probably have to play the best football of his career if they are to be successful.

Hull City also got promoted last season but I do feel slightly more confident that they will stay up because of the players that Steve Bruce has signed. Tom Huddlestone is a very good passer and will add something to their midfield. I also like the signings of Maynor Figueroa, Curtis Davies and Allan McGregor and feel that their experience will get them through some tough times. I still think they lack a goal scorer but Danny Graham should perform better than what he did at Sunderland.

The final promoted team Cardiff City have spent quite a bit of money to try and stay up this season so it would not surprise me to see them finish midtable. I do however think they have overspent on Andreas Cornelius who has potential but you need more of that to survive in the Premier League these days. Steven Caulker and Gary Medel do seem like solid signings though that should impress.

Mark Hughes will be hoping that he performs better at Stoke City than he did at QPR or it will be a long season for their fans. I can see why they are getting backed to get relegated because they stood still under Tony Pulis but they were staying up and sometimes changing things makes clubs go backwards. The team he has inherited only really play one way and if Hughes tries to change that too quickly it will most likely backfire on him.

Norwich City are a team that is surprisingly one of the favourites to get relegated because of the signings they have made this summer but maybe they will not gel and if that is the case then Chris Hughton could be in trouble. They should have enough goals in their team from Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper but neither have played in the Premier League and may find it tough to begin with. But Leroy Fer, Martin Olsson and Nathan Redmond will hopefully create a lot of chances for them. They seem to have an exciting side this year but they have not improved their defence much which is a worry.

Who will be relegated from League 2?

Relegation from League 2 can be tough and we have seen over the years that it can be difficult to come back from.

There are only two teams that get relegated and it is usually a close run thing so it is always tough to take and can cripple a club financially.

The favourites to be relegated are Morecambe and this is no surprise really because they usually have one of the smallest budgets in the league and in Jim Bentley they do not have an experienced manager that knows how to change things if they are going wrong. I like Bentley and think he could become a decent manager in the future but it would not surprise me if he was the first to be sacked this season if things are going badly.
Morecambe
Accrington are another team that will always be tipped for relegation simply because of the size of the club. They are still probably remembered more for the famous quote ‘Accrington Stanley? Who are they?’ than their actual football team. They have brought in Danny Webber who should score goals in League 2 if he gets the chances but they also have an inexperienced manager in James Beattie and I am happy he got the chance but just avoiding relegation would be a great achievement.
Accrington
Dagenham and Redbridge narrowly avoided the drop last year and it will be another year of struggle in my opinion. They do not have John Still anymore who I believe got the best out of their players and although Wayne Burnett did keep them up last season it will be even tougher this year and there is a lot of pressure on former Arsenal youngster Rhys Murphy to score the goals that keeps them up.
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Wimbledon, another team that had a very nervous end to the season will not be hoping for a repeat but I do think that they will be closer to the bottom of the table than even midtable. They are a very likeable club and Neal Ardley did well last year as manager but it might just be too much this season and the signings they have made are not that exciting but they are consistent and maybe this will be good enough. Barry Fuller was very highly rated until his recent injury problems so hopefully he can get over them and Andy Frampton is another that is experienced at this level and will not let the side down too often.
Wimbledon
The final team that could be relegated in my opinion are Newport County. They have just been promoted and will be hoping that the confidence and momentum will be enough to keep them up but I think they will struggle. Yet again I do think they have made some good signings in Harry Worley and Chris Zebroski but it is their first season in League 2 and it may be a lot tougher than some of them are expecting and they will have to show a lot of commitment and energy to survive the drop.
Newport
The two that I think will go down are Newport County and Dagenham and Redbridge

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.

Who will be relegated from the Premier League?

Relegation from the Premier League can be tough on any team and it is the magic 40 point mark that a lot of teams aim for first even when they are not expected to get relegated. Even mid table teams don’t want to get dragged into a battle so they aim to get their as fast as possible and then build on that.

Inevitably the promoted teams are always the favourites to go straight back down and there is no change this year, with Reading being one of the teams that need a good start to the season or it could be a very long year for their fans. They have however some good signings in the summer which will surely give them a better chance in the always reliable Danny Guthrie and striker Pavel Pogrebnyak who had a very good goal scoring record at Fulham last year. They do lack a little experience in the Premier League throughout their squad so Jason Roberts and Ian Harte will both be essential to their side.

Norwich City have a new manager this season in Chris Hughton and he has the difficult task of following in the footsteps of Paul Lambert. But, he has inherited a good team that was comfortable in the Premier League last year and there will be a lot of talk of second season syndrome but Hughton has performed minor miracles before at both Newcastle United and Birmingham City so I am sure he will be a success here too.

Nigel Adkins hasn’t changed much at Southampton in the close season so he obviously believes that this team are good enough to stay up but I think they need a little more especially considering the start to the season they have. In the opening five games they have to play both the Manchester clubs and Arsenal so like Bolton last season they may be demoralised before the season has even really begun. The signings of Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne would have been very impressive in the Championship and even though I rate both of them highly they just might not be able to cut it in the Premier League.

Wigan Athletic will always be considered as one of the favourites for relegation no matter how they finish the previous season. At the end of last season they were one of the most in form teams in the whole league but that have lost Hugo Rodallega and Mohamed Diame who have both been influential in the past for them. The signing of Arouna Kone may show their intent of finishing a lot higher up than they have in previous seasons but they will always be considered as the underdog in the Premier League but maybe they like it that way.

Swansea City are one of many teams with a new manager this year and a lot of people are already writing off Michael Laudrup before he has even took charge of them for the first time in a competitive game. They won’t have to change their style much under the new manager but maybe this is the problem because a lot of teams will have now worked out ways to stop them and they still don’t really have an option B so it will be a tough task for them to stay up.

For me it will be Swansea City, Southampton and Reading that go down.

Brian McDermott rejects Wolves by signing a new contract at Reading

Brian McDermott has signed a new contract at Reading which puts an end to the speculation that he will be leaving the club.

Wolves were rumoured to be interested in McDermott to take charge of the team after sacking Mick McCarthy but this now must show the Royals fans that he is determined to succeed at the club and would rather have a go in the Premier League with his own team rather than trying to keep up a team that are one of the favourites for relegation now with players that he does not know very well.

Some people may criticise his decision as football can change very quickly and if Reading fail to get promoted this season and have a bad start to next season he could be shown the door and then will have missed his opportunity to manage in the Premier League anyway. But, I have a lot of respect for him because of this decision because he is trying to build something and managers are too quick to leave jobs in the lower leagues just to have the chance to manage at a higher level. Eddie Howe at Burnley is an example of this as I thought he should have stayed at Bournemouth and basically learnt more about the role there but he decided to move on and he didn’t have a great season last year and had a bad start to this one and there were rumours he was going to be sacked. Thankfully the board stuck with the young manager and that is now paying off because the team are now challenging for the playoffs.

Back to McDermott, he has had some great games as manager of Reading and probably none more so than his first victory which was against Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup thanks to an extra time goal from Shane Long and this victory was also the first time that Reading had won at Anfield so he the gaffer was always going to be in the record books no matter what. He has had more good days than bad days with a win percentage of 47% but unfortunately one of his defeats was against Swansea in the playoff final and this seemed to damage moral at the club, leading to them having a poor start to the next campaign but obviously McDermott raised the spirits of his young players and brought in some experience and has guided the club to fourth place, only six points behind table toppers West Ham.

The players seem to love playing for him because he gives them a blueprint of what he expects and makes sure everyone knows their job defensively. But when his team have the ball it is a joy to watch as he takes the shackles off the attacking players and lets them express themselves however they want which is paying dividends at the minute. It’s not surprising to see his name linked with arguably bigger jobs but he knows success will come in time at Reading and he wants to be there when they are back in the Premier League.

Who should be the next Wolves manager?

Wolves have sacked Mick McCarthy after a humiliating 5-1 defeat against local rivals West Brom leaving the team in the bottom three. At one point this season they were actually top of the table, however this was very early on in the season and they have struggled since. McCarthy had a 38% win record while in charge at Molineux which is quite good seen as though they battled against relegation but on the other hand they did have a promotion season too so if you take that out it will be a lot lower. I don’t think he did a terrible job as he was the first manager in 30 years to keep the club in the top division for successive seasons. Maybe it was time for a change though as they haven’t progressed at all and probably would have went down if he stayed in charge because they were on a downward spiral.

Let’s have a look at the options who could replace him. Some people have mentioned former player Paul Ince to take charge while others have been putting former manager Dave Jones forward for the job but I don’t think these will keep the team in the Premier League so I will focus on other options.

First up, who I think would do a good job is Alan Curbishley because he has a proven track record of keeping teams in the Premier League that aren’t fancied at all. He can galvanise a whole club like he did at Charlton and he also brings in useful players and gets the best out of them. He helped Darren Bent kick start his career and now he is always up near the top of the goal scoring chart and with Steven Fletcher on form at the minute he could help him a lot and give him the confidence to be an even better player. The only reason why I think he might not get the job is the fact he has been out the game since resigning as West Ham manager because the board were selling players behind his back. This was in 2008 and the game has moved on since then and he may be out of touch.

Another option could be Steve Bruce who is currently unemployed after getting sacked as Sunderland manager earlier in the season. He has managed teams in Wolves position before when he was the manager of Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic and was quite successful at Wigan. He brought in some good players at Wigan and also made players play to the best of their abilities with Emile Heskey playing well enough to earn an England recall and receive praise from pundits and fans alike. But his spell with Sunderland was quite unsuccessful as he spent quite a bit of money and for one reason or another they did not perform.

Finally, I would like to throw Ian Holloway’s name into the ring because I believe he deserves another chance in the Premier League and there is no doubt that he will bring attacking football to Molineux if he was given the chance. But the big question is, would he leave Blackpool? I wouldn’t have thought so but if the offer comes along he may be tempted to take the job.

I would like to see Holloway get it but realistically I think Curbishley would be the best option and would do a good job for them. Even if he didn’t keep them up, I believe that with him in charge they would have a good chance of bouncing straight back.