Who will be the next Reading manager?

Reading are looking for a new manager to try and keep them in the Premier League after Brian McDermott left the club.

Four successive defeats have left the club bottom of the table and four points away from safety and it would seem that they need to go in a different direction to make sure they do stay in the Premier League but personally I feel McDermott should have stayed in charge for the rest of the season. After leading the club to promotion last season they were expected to struggle and the signings they made did not give me any confidence that they were going to survive this season but they are still in there battling away and a lot of credit does have to go to the manager for that. Recent losses to Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa both at home must have been hard to take and obviously the board felt that these results were simply not good enough. In his 169 matches in charge of Reading he won 76 games, giving him a 44.97% win rate. But they need to bring someone in that can have an immediate impact, so who will be given the chance to succeed?

The current favourite is Paolo Di Canio and I would love to see him managing in the Premier League but maybe not because of his managerial ability, more to do with the entertainment factor and unpredictability he will bring. But to be fair to him he did have a good record at Swindon Town and his crazy methods seemed to be working and he probably should not be unemployed right now. If they do go down then I think the Italian can do a good job in the Championship and at least give them the opportunity to bounce straight back.
Paolo Di Canio
Maybe a more realistic target and a more sensible one would be Nigel Adkins. He is another manager that should not be unemployed and it looked as though he was going to keep Southampton in the Premier League before being replaced. He does not have a lot of experience in the top division but yet again looking more long term he would do a very good job in the Championship. Would he take the job? I think he would be tempted to have another go at the Premier League even if it is only for a few more games.
Nigel Adkins
Another early favourite is Roberto Di Matteo and if they could convince him to join the club then it would be a fantastic appointment. He is a Champions League winner and he, yet again, maybe should not have been sacked by his former club Chelsea. He does have experience in the Premier League and should get the respect of the Reading players straight away and if he can lift their spirits a little he may just do enough to keep them up. He also got promoted with West Brom so he may even stay if they go down. I think they need to look long term and not just try and bring someone in to keep them up and change again in the summer if they fail.
Roberto Di Matter
Others that are linked with the job are Dick Advocaat, Steve McClaren and Alan Curbishley

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Who will be the next Nottingham Forest manager?

Nottingham Forest are searching for a new manager after sacking Sean O’Driscoll who had just led his team to a 4-2 victory over Leeds UnitedForest

O’Driscoll, joined the club in strange circumstances after earlier in the summer being appointed Crawley Town manager, however he never managed the team in a competitive fixture and left for Forest. He was given just 26 games in charge and only lost seven of those games, so his record was not that bad and there was a very realistic chance of the club getting promoted this season with the former Doncaster Rovers manager in charge. The team are currently 8th in the table and only one point outside the playoffs and with a crucial game against promotion rivals Crystal Palace next it is a very strange time to sack their manager. If they win the game then they will only be four points behind their opponents so it is actually unbelievable that the manager has gone, but the players need to move on and try and get promotion under the new manager, and there certainly will be some high profile names linked with the job and the former champions of Europe will be looking to appoint a well known name.

The clear favourite for the job is Alex McLeish and it will be interesting to see what the fans think of this decision because he has had an indifferent time as a manager in England. Under his guidance, Birmingham City were relegated twice but he also led them to a ninth place finish in the Premier League and a Carling Cup, as well as a promotion from the Championship. But, his time at Aston Villa was a disaster and he was hated by most of their fans for his negative style of football. However, I do not think he was ever given the chance to succeed at Villa Park.

Al McLeish

The next manager linked with the job is the recently sacked Chelsea manager Robert Di Matteo. If they could convince him to join the club then it would be fantastic for them as he lifted the Champions League trophy last season. For him, personally it may not be exactly what he is looking for, but he will surely be given money to do what he wants, rather than getting players bought for him which seemed to happen at his former club. I honestly can’t see this happening but there have been stranger things happen in football.

Roberto di Matteo

Finally, Roy Keane has been linked with the job and he also has experience of winning promotion from the Championship with Sunderland, so he knows the league and what is needed to succeed. However, his time at Ipswich Town was not so successful and he did not achieve his own expectations and they struggled for long periods under his management. He played 123 times for Forest and scored 22 goals so he knows exactly what the fans expect and will want to be the one that gets them back into the Premier League.

PKT5111-369467FOOTBALLER - ROY KEANE1992Roy Keane - Nottingham Forest FC.

 

Who will win the Premier League?

Manchester City won the title last season in the last minute of the last game which ended one of the best ever Premier League seasons.

This year in my opinion there are only three real contenders for the title but I will include five with two of them being very outside chances that even I don’t believe they could actually win it but you never know, football is a very strange game and even Blackburn Rovers have won a Premier League title (things were slightly different when they won it though).

Obviously, Manchester City are the favourites to once again win the title and they will be hoping it is a little more straight forward than last year. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail on why they could win the title because it is obvious, they have the players and now the experience of winning the big one, and they will want even more success. One thing that does worry me though is this change of formation manager Roberto Mancini is trying and maybe he should remember the saying if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it.

Alex Ferguson will want his title back and I think this is his last objective as manager of Manchester United. He won’t retire in my opinion until he has toppled the noisy neighbours and he obviously wants to do it this year with the signings of Shinji Kagawa and they expected arrival of Robin Van Persie. They already look a more attacking threat and if all the players click then it may be an even closer title race than last year, if that is even possible.

Chelsea will be hoping for a much better season than last year and they have made their intentions known to the rest of the country with their signings this summer, in particular, Eden Hazard who was wanted by pretty much all of Europe so it was quite a coup for them. The big question is whether Roberto Di Matteo is good enough to challenge for the title? Yes he won the Champions League and FA Cup last year but he was also sacked as manager of West Brom not long ago, to me , this was a harsh decision but it happened nevertheless.

Now, we get onto the outsiders. Arsenal could challenge for the title if there team can perform well together both offensively and defensively. Their new signings Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud all have a lot of ability but with their lack of Premier League experience they may not be at their best till half way through the season and by then it will be too late. Losing Van Persie will obviously weaken them so they cannot afford to lose anyone else and with Alex Song linked with a move to Barcelona they definitely need to keep hold of him.

From Arsenal to a team that may not even finish in the top six in the coming season, Liverpool. This can only go in one of two ways for me, 1) Brendan Rodgers gets the team playing brilliantly and they adapt to his style of play and new signing Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez both score goals for fun leading them to at least a place in the top four, or 2) The players just can’t get to grips with the new tactics and have yet another season of disappointment, finishing around 7th place.

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.

Chelsea’s best performance for years is enough to beat Barcelona

Chelsea beat Barcelona 1-0 to give them an excellent chance of qualifying for the Champions League final but it is still a tough task.

Di Matteo has now won 10 of his 13 games in charge of Chelsea

First things first, Barcelona were not at their best and even though they weren’t at their best they still dominated the game and possibly should have won the game. They had numerous chances to work Petr Cech who did pull off a few wonderful saves but on the whole they just missed chances, hitting the woodwork and missing guilt edged opportunities. In particular the Cesc Fabregas chance which was brilliantly cleared off the line by Ashley Cole, but in all honesty should have been a goal and Fabregas should never have given Cole the chance to hack it away.

Onto Chelsea and what has on a whole been quite disappointing, it was  a very good performance by them and the goal they now take to the Nou Camp should give them at least a lift and a bit of confidence. Roberto Di Matteo should be getting praised for what he has done because under Villas Boas the team from London were going out of the Champions League and may have not got as far as they have done in the FA Cup. His team selection turned out to be perfect, choosing Didier Drogba instead of Fernando Torres. This was a very big decision and in the end it made the difference with Drogba scoring the only goal of the game. He may have split opinion on his performance with him at times looking very strong and powerful with the Barcelona defence struggling to cope with him then at other times flopping to the floor at the slightest touch. With a lot of controversy about diving at the minute Drogba didn’t do anything to help the situation but in his defence the opposition players were doing very similar things and maybe it was just a little more embarrassing to watch him do it because of his size. However, I thought he had a decent game and held the ball up well and allowed his team to push out at times, he also took his goal brilliantly.

The defence deserves the most praise out of everyone and that includes John Obi Mikel who was fantastic and sat in the back four cutting out a lot of the little through balls that Barcelona like to play. He did give away a few free kicks in dangerous areas but he kept possession well when he had it and nullified the threat of the oppositions attacking players. In the centre of defence John Terry had arguably one of his best performances for a number of years but man of the match for me was Gary Cahill, for a player to play the way he did just a few months after being in a relegation threatened side was unbelievable. I think Cahill is good but I have said it before that he struggles when a striker has clever movement. He dealt with Lionel Messi better than most this season and even when his team were under pressure he bailed them out with a last ditch tackle or block.

It must have been a fantastic night for the Chelsea fans but they and the team know this tie is not over and it will be a lot more difficult in the away leg but at least they have something to hold onto. There is far more optimism that they will be in the final now than there was when the draw was made.

Chelsea will face Benfica in the quarter final of the Champions League

After overcoming Napoli, Chelsea will face Benfica in the next round of the Champions League as they look to progress to the semi final.

Roberto Di Matteo will not be too disappointed with this draw as they know Benfica are a good side therefore they will not underestimate them and make sure his team prepare for the game properly but on the other hand he will also know that it could have been worse for his side. They came back fantastically against Napoli after a 3-1 defeat in the first leg but they managed to win 4-1 in extra time at Stamford Bridge and by doing this they have let everyone in Europe know that they are not finished yet and they still have enough quality left to win the whole competition.

Would they have progressed if Andre Villas Boas was still in charge? In my opinion no because the players looked happier and looked like they wanted to play for the man in charge. John Terry scored and had an all round fantastic game before going off injured, he wanted to get his head on every ball possible which he may not have done a few weeks ago. Frank Lampard scored a crucial penalty and he was also more influential in this game than I have seen him for quite a while and when he is on form you know he can get a goal or provide an assist. Didier Drogba opened the scoring and looked like a man possessed and someone that wanted to get Chelsea through all by himself and his performance reminded me of when Jose Mourinho was in charge and he destroyed opposition defences.

Lampard, Terry and Drogba celebrate a goal

These players may be a few years older now but they have proven when they want to, they can still put in match winning performances and on the night they all had to. The players showed a lot of togetherness and as soon as the first goal went in there was no doubt in my mind who would go through.

If Chelsea do progress, and they will be favourites to do so, they will face either Milan or Barcelona. Which will not be easy as Barcelona are clearly the best team in Europe right now and Milan showed everyone against Arsenal that if they are on form they can give a team a good beating, so it will not be easy for Chelsea but if they can get through the Benfica tie, they will grow more in confidence and they could spring a shock in the semi final.

The other quarter finals drew together APOEL from Cyprus and the European giants Real Madrid and in the other semi final they will face either Marseille or Bayern Munich. In my opinion even though APOEL  have done amazingly well Real Madrid will be the happiest of all the teams in the draw while Marseille and Bayern could be really close as they both possess real quality in their side.

It could be a fantastic quarter final this year with a lot of goals rather than the usual tactical battle so I for one cannot wait for the games to get underway.