Top 10 Premier League Centre Backs

10 – Gary Pallister

Manchester United were so desperate to get Pallister that they broke the record paid for a defender and the centre back delivered for them and was certainly worth the investment. Forming one of the best partnerships with Steve Bruce, he helped the club to four league titles.

Pallister.jpg

9 – Vincent Kompany

One of the bargains of the Premier League era. Manchester City may be able to throw their money around these days but Kompany is still badly missed when he is out of the team and it would seem like no amount of money can replace the Belgian.

Kompany

8 – Sami Hyypia

A Liverpool legend that spent 10 years at the club and certainly a fan favourite on the Kop. Winning many personal awards and helping the club win the Champions league in 2005 would have made not being able to win the league title slightly easier to take.

Hyypia

7 – Jaap Stam

This might be a strange inclusion in the list as the Dutchman only spent three seasons in the Premier League with Manchester United but his quality was there for everyone to see and it isn’t a surprise that he won the title every year he was there.

Stam

6 – Jamie Carragher

At the start of his career he was played in every position on the pitch but when he finally settled as a centre back, he was one of the most consistent to ever play in the position at club level. Was unlucky not to play more internationally.

Carragher

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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.

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.

Hull City in the Premier League

Hull City have been promoted to the Premier League after a nail biting end to their Championship season.

Under Steve Bruce they have certainly surprised me and did just enough to finish above Watford. A 2-2 draw against Cardiff City was one of the most entertaining endings to a game you will see and both clubs will be hoping that they can be as watchable in the Premier League. Bruce has now gained three promotions in his managerial career and this just proves how good he is as a Championship manager and he has proven in the past that he can succeed to a certain extent in the Premier League. His time at Sunderland did not end well but I still think he had enough ability to keep them in the league and they haven’t grown since or competed any higher up the table so he wasn’t doing much wrong. But with Hull he has won 25 of his 51 games in charge and this is an impressive record and maybe promotion wasn’t quite expected to happen so quickly so quite a few changes might be needed for them to stay up. If they can bring in the right players they have a manager that could keep them up.

However, they definitely need a goalkeeper because they relied too heavily on loan signings last season and need a number one. Two keepers that have been linked to the club are Chris Kirkland and Kasper Schmeichel. If they could get either of these then I think they would be fantastic choices. Defensively I do think they are poor as well, Paul McShane is someone that works hard but is probably not good enough for the Premier League and they just do not have enough quality in their backline.
Paul McShane
In the midfield it is a similar story with players that are hard working but do not really have enough quality. However, I do think Stephen Quinn could be a crucial player because he does have something else and his passing and creativity will certainly help the side. David Meyler is another that I feel has to have a good season if they are to stay up. He is a former Sunderland player and at times he did look ok for them and without the injuries he may have played a lot more for the club. Robert Koren is probably the standout player and someone that I do like a lot.
Stephen Quinn
Strikers are yet again a problem. They did not have anyone that could score goals in the Championship so I cannot see any of them having great seasons in the Premier League. Matt Fryatt is a good goal scorer and he was unfortunate with injuries last season. This will be his first season in the Premier League so he will be hoping to emulate the success of Rickie Lambert and Grant Holt in recent years, although he is a different player to them two.
Matt Fryatt
At this moment in time I am very worried about Hull City but I am sure many people have said that about Swansea City, Norwich City and Stoke City in recent seasons.

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.