Monthly Archives: August 2016

  1. Jose Mourinho bringing déjà vu to Manchester United

    31st August 2016. By Ryan Baldi.

    José Mourinho has been manager of Manchester United for less than three months, but already the Portuguese tactician has restored a sense of identity to the Red Devils that has been missing for the last three years.

    Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of United's title winning 2012-13 season, the Old Trafford club has made a series of missteps that has seen them slip from their position as English football's dominants force, while, little by little, the characteristics that set United have been eroded.

    Ferguson's initial replacement was Everton boss David Moyes. At the time, Moyes was seen as a younger version of Ferguson: both men were of hard-working Glaswegian stock, and the way Moyes brought stability and consistency to the Toffees on a shoestring budget demonstrated his managerial acumen.

    But Moyes proved to be out of his depth in charge of one of the biggest clubs in the world, and lasted only nine m

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  2. Nabil Bentaleb Joins Schalke, And is Set to Be a Strong Acquisition

    29th August 2016. By Edward Stratmann.

    After enjoying a breakout season in 2014/2015, where he became an integral member of Mauricio Pochettino's fierce Tottenham Hotspur side, Nabil Bentaleb's fall down Pochettino's pecking order last campaign was as rapid as his initial rise to prominence.

    Starting 25 matches in 2014/2015, the Algerian international looked set for and long and fruitful career with Spurs, with his stirring performances even earning him a bumper five-year contract at the club. But due to a numbers of factors, including injury, a downturn in form, the emergence of Eric Dier and what's been described as a questionable attitude, the Spurs academy graduate found himself left out in the cold last term.

    The fact he played just 168 Premier League minutes aptly illustrated his plight and how harsh Pochettino can be once his faith in a player wanes. Being

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  3. Alvaro Negredo: Off to a Flying Start with Middlesbrough

    26th August 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Having scored an outstanding 23 goals in his opening 33 matches for Manchester City, in his debut Premier League season back in 2013/14, many thought Alvaro Negredo would go onto become a star at the Etihad for many years to come.

    Unfortunately, however, this wasn't to be the case for the Spaniard, as his time in Manchester came to an abrupt halt. He would score his last ever goal for the club in January 2014, with reports citing homesickness and personal issues were to blame for his demise, but Negredo vehemently dismisses such claims. "I don't go along with this. I was not homesick," he insisted to the Daily Mail.

    "At City, we had a dressing room full of Spanish speakers. Javi Garcia, David Silva, I came with Jesus Navas from Sevilla, then there were Argentines like Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis.

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  4. Borussia Dortmund Bridging the Gap to Bayern Munich

    24th August 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    So close, yet so far: the 78 points that Borussia Dortmund accumulated last season would've been enough to win the title in all but four seasons in Bundesliga history. But despite this mammoth points haul, BVB still finished a full 10 points behind champions Bayern Munich.

    It was the fourth season in a row that Bayern had claimed the Bundesliga crown, and despite Dortmund's superb return to form under Thomas Tuchel last term, there was a distinct sense of inevitability about how the Bavarians were marching towards another title, long before the season reached its closing stages.

    And before the tickertape had even been swept up from Bayern's title celebrations, the 25-time Bundesliga champions swooped to sign Dortmund captain and star defender Mats Hummels, before the two sides had even faced off in the season-closing

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  5. Valentino Lazaro: Red Bull Salzburg's Gifted Attacking Midfielder

    22nd August 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Born to an Angolan father and a Greek mother, Red Bull Salzburg's immensely talented youngster, Valentino Lazaro, has unquestionably developed into one of the most exciting youngsters in European football.

    Having spent almost 10 years honing his craft at hometown club Grazer AK, the ambitious Austrian giants, Red Bull Salzburg, recognised his undeniable potential and shrewdly signed him in 2011. Although Lazaro was just 15 at the time, it didn't take him long to impress his new employers. His rapid rise to prominence continued when he made his first-team debut, at 16 years and 224 days, against FC Admira Wacker in November of 2012, which saw him become the youngest player ever in the history of the Austrian Bundesliga.

    Then, aged just 18, as a result of his strong showings at club level, he received his first senior national team call-up and debuted in Austria's 1-1 draw with Iceland on the 30th of May 2014, when he came on

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  6. Sadio Mane: A Fantastic Premier League Debut with Liverpool

    19th August 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Sadio Mane couldn't have dreamt of a better start to life at Liverpool. After signing for a staggering £34 million from Southampton, expectations were inherently high that the Senegalese international would come in and make an immediate impact. And, to his credit, that's precisely what he's done.

    Having joined early in the window and gotten the benefits of a full preseason under his belt, which afforded him the chance to integrate successfully into the squad, Mane importantly transferred his wicked form from preseason into Liverpool's Premier League opener.

    Throughout Liverpool's engrossing 4-3 win over Arsenal, the Reds debutant was a constant menace to the Gunners' backline, with his speed, power and unpredictability proving especially troublesome.

    From his right wing post, his movement and positional variations

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  7. The Pep Guardiola Era is Underway at Manchester City

    17th August 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    Having played their first Premier League game of the season, a narrow 2-1 victory over David Moyes's Sunderland at the Etihad, the Pep Guardiola era is well and truly underway at Manchester City.

    The Catalan coach is renowned not only for the level of success he has achieved in his managerial career to date, but also for the tactical innovations he has implemented. Guardiola takes a unique approach to solving the myriad problems that present themselves within a football match. Rather than rely on the tried and tested formations and strategies, Guardiola is unafraid to try something a little different -- to think outside the box.

    At FC Barcelona, his major calling card was the use of Argentine superstar Lionel Messi as a "false nine" -- a positionally unrestricted centre-forward. Up until the point of Guardiola's

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  8. West Ham Sign Andre Ayew: A Great Addition to the Squad

    15th August 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Although West Ham had to break their transfer record to secure Andre Ayew, paying a whopping £20.5 million, their acquisition of the Ghanaian international is money well spent and yet another statement of intent from the East London club ahead of the new season.

    Following a successful first season in the Premier League with Swansea City, Ayew is the latest in the club's raft of new signings this summer, alongside Havard Nordtveit, Ashley Fletcher, Sofiane Feghouli, Gokhan Tore, Jonathan Calleri, Arthur Masuaku and Manuel Lanzini, who's now joined on a permanent deal. With West Ham moving into the prestigious Olympic Stadium, the club's ambition and exciting direction under Slaven Bilic was clearly crucial in his decision.

    "The club have a lot of ambition and have a great manager," Ayew said.

    "They want to become a bigger club every year and with the new stadium and a new training ground, you can feel they are moving

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  9. Rob Holding Makes a Strong Start for Arsenal

    12th August 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Since joining Arsenal for £2million last month, it's been extremely encouraging to see how well Rob Holding's adapted to life at his new home.

    Although excitement surrounding the 20-year-old must, of course, be tempered with him only featured in preseason matches so far, he has, however, still made an overwhelmingly positive impression since debuting against the MLS All Stars. In that particular game, the way he dealt with one of Arsenal's former nemesis', in the form of Didier Drogba, was a real highlight of the Gunners' 2-1 win.

    After the match, the Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, was full of praise for the debutant and also noted how well he's already settling in, stating: "He's adapted surprisingly. In a very good way, because he reads the game well and understands what's going on, anticipates well.

    "And that's

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  10. Real Madrid Fail to Make A Galactico Signing - But Retain Hopes of Success

    10th August 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    When you hear the words "Real Madrid", a Pavlovian response is triggered in your mind, conjuring images of the famous immaculate white strip, a packed out Santiago Bernabéu stadium with floodlights glistening, the European Cup being proudly lofted high in celebration of yet another Continental conquering.

    You also think of glamourous players, lavish spending on the latest superstars and transfer market dominance you think of Galácticos.

    Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo were the first of the headline-grabbing marquee signings of the era that became defined by the club's yearly summer transfer business in the early 2000s, and Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodríguez are more recent examples of Los Blancos propensity to flex their financial muscles.

    But even before the term Galáctico was coined,

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