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Season Reviews

Leicester City: A Big Season Ahead

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Leicester City have had serious highs & lows during the last few years. In 2015, they pulled off the biggest shock in Premier League football, winning the Premier League. Bookmakers had leicester as favourites for relegation, but they ran out as 5000-1 winners of the League.

In 2016, they finished 12th, but managed to get to the quarter finals of the Champions League. They finished 9th in the 17-18 campaign & 9th again in the 18-19 season.

However, the 2019 campaign was overshadowed with disaster, when Club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium, after taking off from the pitch on 27 October 2018.

This ended up killing Srivaddhanaprabha and all four other people on board.

Now, Leicester City want to pay Homage to Vichai, who the players adored. They want to succeed again, which was Vichai’s dream.

Key Players

Leicester City have a fantastic core, with natural leaders in defence, skillful midfielders & clinical finishers. These players will be essential to Leicester City having a successful campaign, so let’s discuss who is vital.

Harry Maguire

Maguire is Leicester City’s defensive talisman, who is more than capable of playing out of defence and assisting the midfielders. It’s these qualities which are sought after, with Pep Guardiola reportedly a huge admirer. Leicester City will try their hardest to keep hold of Maguire, slapping an £80 million price tag on him.

Is he replaceable? Yes. Although it won’t be easy for Brendan Rodgers to bed in a centreback with the leadership qualities of Maguire. Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu have recently signed for Leicester, but they don’t appear to have the same pedigree of Maguire. It’s likely that if he is sold, Leicester will need to reinvest the transfer fee on another centre-back, which isn’t always guaranteed to be a success.

Youri Tielemans

Since his loan move, Tielemans has been a huge hit with the Foxes fans. In 13 appearances, he scored 3 goals, which isn’t bad output for a midfielder, settling in a new league.

Now, they are close to a £40 million transfer being finalised, after his impressive loan. This will be an impressive signing, as Man Utd are reportedly very interested in the playmaker.

Plus, he’s a Football Manager icon!

James Maddison

Maddison was an exceptional signing, but a high risk at the time. He was in the form of his life at Norwich, but in the Championship it’s hard to tell if player quality is transferable to the Premier League. James Maddison has managed to take the step up. He’s also become an England International, with Gareth Southgate excited by his playing style.

He has great potential, but it’s a little concerning that he struggles to complete 90 minutes. Rodgers is the manager now though, and emphasises fitness training.

There’s a common theme appearing here, as Maddison has also been linked with Man Utd.

Others

Wilfred N’didi is an exceptional player, who’s still improving.

Ricardo Pereira also had a fantastic season, settling in immediately and offering consistent performances.

Ben Chillwell, Kasper Schmeicel & Jamie Vardy will also require solid performances, week in, week out, if Leicester are to improve on last years 9th place.

If they can keep hold of their best players, or replace the ones they sell with top quality reinforcements, they should be able to compete for Europe. It’s the right season for a team to sneak into a Europe League spot, as teams such as Chelsea & Man Utd are going through testing times.

Leicester will be competing with the likes of West Ham, Wolves & Everton mainly, but they’ve won the league before, it’s in their roots to cause an upset!

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Season Reviews

Wolverhampton Wanderers: More Investment Required?

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Pre-Premier League

Wolverhampton Wanderers won the English Sky Bet Championsip during the 2017-18 campaign, achieving promotion into the Premier League. Whilst they had a squad which was overpowered for the Championship, it was unknown whether these players could suffice in the Premier League.

Wolves won the Championship, with 99 points. They scored 82 goals in the process, not far from 2 goals per game average. They conceded less than one goal per game, on average.

Diogo Jota was the club’s top scorer, 5th best scorer in the league itself. He struck 17 times.

The Super Agent

When Wolves signed Nuno Espirito Santo, it was alleged by many clubs that Jorge Mendes was in control at Wolves, deciding which players they should sign. Whilst Jorge Mendes has admitted he is a close friend of the Fosun Group (Who own Wolves), it’s against football rules for an agent to be in charge of recruitment.

Nuno denies that there’s any wrongdoing in the relationship, stating:

“I am a client of the best agent in the world. I do my job; he does his job.”

Whilst we aren’t here to give a verdict on the above, it’s vital to understand Jorge Mendes’ role, as Wolves signed some superb talents!

2018-19 Players & Transfers

Willy Boly turned his loan deal into a permanent one for just £10 million, which was quite a bargain. Boly had a great campaign in the Championship and was looking to help Wolves survive in the Premier League.

Jonny Otto arrived from Atletico Madrid, whilst Diogo Jota’s loan deal was also made permanent for £12 million.

Rui Patricio signed for free, before a court hearing meant that Wolves had to pay Sporting CP £18 million for the goalkeeper.

Raul Jimenez was also sent to Wolves on loan, from Benfica. This deal has now been made permanent also, for a price of £34 million.

The Portugese veteran Joao Moutinho arrived from Monaco for £5 million, whilst Youth Prospect Ruben Vinagre joined from the same club.

There are some fantastic deals above, but 7 key players for Wolves are now Portugese. With Mendes and Santo both being Portugese, aswell as Mendes being Santo’s agent, you can tell it’s no coincidence.

Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota, Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho are some fine examples of Portugese talent playing in black and gold. They are all also Jorge Mendes’ clients.

There were very few outgoings, apart from sub-par players who didn’t really feature for the first team at all. This meant that Wolves maintained their structure, something which would be vital if they were to have a successful campaign.

Who will they target in 2019-20?

Wolves will need to add some more depth to their squad, due to competing on an extra front next season.

It will excite the players and most definitely the fans, but the Europa League has it’s tendency to fatigue players more than A) Champions League or B) not being in a European competition.

This is because there are far more foreign teams in the Europa League. Also, Europa League is played on a Thursday, meaning there’s little resting before the Saturday Kick Offs.

Lucas Tousart is one player linked with Wolves in an £18 million deal, but Inter Milan are also sniffing around this deal.

Eric Konsa & Mousa Marega have also attracted Wolves, although there’s very little bid information currently cycling.

Premier League 2018-19 Overview

Wolves had a terrific season, finishing in 7th place. I expected Wolves to finish in the top half, but they exceeded my initial expectations. It wasn’t a long odds tip, Wolves were tipped by many to finish strongly, as their team was of sufficient quality to compete, not just survive.

It was a great achievement, it’s the highest Wolves have ever finished since 1980, having taken at least a point from every team apart from Huddersfield & Liverpool.

They were 9 points off 6th place, but still Qualify for Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round, so their fans will be looking forward to a European campaign.

Raul Jimenez was the 10th Top goalscorer with 13 goals, which also earnt him a permanent transfer to Wolves.

Joao Moutinho was the stand-out playmaker with 10 assists. Rui Patricio also played his part, with 7 clean sheets, matching David De Gea.

Best Games

Wolves shocked most teams in the Premier League, as mentioned above, they only failed to take points from Huddersfield & Liverpool. They beat Man Utd 2-1, beat Spurs 3-1 & also beat Chelsea 2-1.

Worst Games

Wolves went through a bad spell during the end of October, which lasted until the end of November. They lost 2-0 to Watford, then immediately lost 1-0 to Brighton & Hove Albion. They also lost 3-2 to Spurs (this one was probably expected). They picked things up by getting a point against Arsenal, before faltering against Huddersfield & Cardiff City, dropping much needeed points. When you think that they were 9 points off 6th place, if they got points against the above they could have challenged themselves!

How can they improve on 7th place?

To improve on 7th place, Wolves will need considerable improvement. They had a fantastic campaign, getting points from the Top 6 (other than Liverpool), but those are the teams that will be improving significantly in the upcoming transfer windows. Wolves will need to maintain their performances from last season (to get a similar level of points), but also improve, beating teams they lost or drew to previously.

Although they should be able to beat the promoted teams with ease, they may struggle to get points against Man City, Chelsea & Man Utd. Time will tell!

Where will they finish next season?

Next season will be an interesting one, as teams such as Leicester City will be looking to have a good campaign. Everton are also another team which will be hoping for success. However, the ones to watch are West Ham United, who have already dipped their toes into the transfer market, signing Pablo Fornals and also trying to get Maxi Gomez. They’re showing real intent.

They do require more investment, although they have a special side currently, the Premier League requires teams to improve every single transfer window. Jorge Mendes can flex his muscles in this window and help Wolves towards another successful season.

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Season Reviews

Real Madrid: The Rebuild is Real

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The summer transfer window in 2019 will prove pivotal for Real Madrid, who require significant investment to make them competitive again. There will be an exodus of under performers, with some big additions.

Their season was a complete disaster, the only redeeming point being that they managed to qualify for the Champions League, finishing 3rd in La Liga. They were miles off the pace, with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid finishing above them. With a final points total of 68, this was their lowest haul in the last 16 years. Finishing 3rd isn’t the end of the world, but with their previous 3 Champions League final wins, the fans would have hoped for continued success. This time, Ajax beat them 4-1 at the Bernebau, devastating fans.

Zinedine Zidane saw this coming, as he decided to step down after winning last seasons Champions League. He requested a huge transfer chest to rebuild the squad, as he realised that the experienced players were on the decline, but Florentino Perez wasn’t willing to supply the transfer funds required. Fast forward 10 months and Real Madrid have had multiple managers, Julen Lopetegui, Santiago Solari & the return of ZZ! Vinicius Jr was added, with Rodrygo to transfer in the summer. It seems that Perez has now given Zidane the transfer budget, he’s already spent around £280 million, bringing in Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy & Eden Hazard.

Exodus

Although Real Madrid have spent a chunk of money, they should be able to make a lot of this back from player sales. Gareth Bale wants to leave, although it looks like there’s not too much interest in his services.

James Rodriguez, Isco, Marcelo & Lucas Vasquez will also reportedly be available. There’s between £100 and £150 million in player sales there.

Youth Setup

Although Real Madrid have opened the chequebook on big stars, they also have plenty of adequate youth players, which can hit the ground running & develop into stars.

Achraf Hakimi is probably the pick of the bunch, but he has one year left on his 2 year loan deal, at Dortmund. There is plenty of talent though, Brahim Diaz, Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo, Borja Mayoral. They might not get much game time though, as Real Madrid need instant results to restore their former glory.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid lost their talisman this summer and he wasn’t replaced. Ronaldo was relied heavily on, so they lost their clinical man. He has been replaced, but 12 months too late. Karim Benzema had a good season, but it would be unfair to rely on Benzema to fill the void.

Eden Hazard will be a great addition at Real Madrid.

Rebuild complete

There has been a great amount of money spent now, so you could suggest the rebuild is complete. Real Madrid however are still flirting with the idea of signing Paul Pogba. If they manage to get Pogba, that would certainly be the end of the transfer incomings, as he would cost £100 million at the very least. The squad has certainly improved in key areas, but they do need a central midfielder adding. Casemiro, Kroos & Modrid are great, but they need stiff competition to ensure they play to the best of their ability.

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Season Reviews

Man Utd 2018/2019 – One to Forget

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Man Utd finished the 2018/19 season with a 2-0 loss to a relegated Cardiff City, which sums up their season rather well. Although they had a pretty good run in the Champions League, there were multiple failings which led to them competing in the EUROPA LEAGUE next year.

There are many talking points throughout this post, including Mourinho, Ole Gunnar & Transfer failings!

Start of Season (Mourinho Era)

The summer transfer window was sub-par, after Mourinho worked his magic to get Man Utd 2nd place in the previous campaign. It was almost as if the board thought that the team was adequate, as if they’ve finished there once, why can’t they again? The truth is, even Mourinho admitted that finishing 2nd with “THIS” Man Utd squad was his greatest management miracle.

All Football fans expected Mourinho to really attack the market, signing players such as Skriniar and Koulibaly, to overhaul the defence. It was expected that he would need around £250m to rebuild this team. He was given £60m. He raised £15m by selling Daley Blind to Ajax, a transfer which unfortunately didn’t work well for Daley.

Players that were brought in were Fred (£50m), Dalot (£20m) & Lee Grant (£2m). There aren’t signings which would help a team catch Man City in the title race, to say the least! Liverpool strengthened, Chelsea also added significant players such as Jorginho & Gonzalo Higuain. The Spurs squad were entering their peak form, so the whole world knew this would be a good season for them.

This was also the first season Micheal Carrick would be an official staff member, hanging up his boots. Rui Faria left Man Utd, which left a huge hole.

All roads pointed towards a hard season for Man Utd, which is the exact outcome.

Mourinho was sacked on December 18th, having managed just 7 wins out of 17 games. This was well off the pace & changes were needed. There was numerous issues at this time, including a Paul Pogba vs Jose Mourinho feud, which was captured by the press. Luke Shaw was also on the receiving end of critisicm during Jose’s reign.

There were some successes while Jose managed United, most notably the Champions League comeback vs Juventus, where he famously entered the pitch with this hand cupped to his ear. This, again, caused a media fallout. There was quite evidently a Media agenda against Mourinho.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Era

Ole Gunnar was appointed as a caretaker manager, a breath of fresh air. The squad seemed to be completely rejuvenated, with their energy levels looking higher, with all-out football.

Under OGS, Man Utd were unbeaten in their first 10 games. He was then awarded the full time job, but then results and performances dipped. It could be a coincidence, as the run in for Man Utd was significantly harder than the first 10 games he played. Losing 2-0 to Cardiff City on the last day of the season has got the Red Devils biting their nails again.

We need to see what Ole Gunnar manages in the Summer, if the transfer window is as bad as the 2018-19 one, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another 6th…. or worse finish.

Ed Woodard & The Glazers

Ed woodward is the Executive Vice Chairman of Man Utd, which is one of the most powerful jobs in world football. With power, comes responsibility, with the Glazers reportedly unhappy with Ed’s recent performances, due to missing out on Champions League.

Woodward doesn’t have control over the tactics, that’s not part of his role. However, he does have the final say on the hiring and firing of players and staff. Has he done enough?

In the last 5 years, we have seen David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho & Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed responsibility, alongisde well over £600m. You would expect high level figures and huge financial numbers to bring some on pitch success, but the best United have finished is 2nd under Jose Mourinho. Ed was also not convinced that Koulibably or Skriniar were needed in defence, leaving Mourinho with the same old Bailly-Smalling-Jones-Lindelof partnership, a partnership which hasn’t impressed, leaking 54 goals in 2017-18.

It will be interesting to see what the transfer policy of 2019-20 will be. Poor transfers will ultimately lead to OGS being removed of his duties, with the potential of Woodward also being relieved of his. There are rumours that Man Utd are in for some big players, which a few years ago wouldn’t be an issue. If Man Utd were interested in you, you would do anything to move there. In modern times, the club is still big, but with such instability & no Champions League on offer, Juventus, Liverpool, Man City & Juventus all seem like better prospects.

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