Advertisements

Can Mark Hughes be a success at Stoke?

Before he went to QPR, Mark Hughes’ reputation was still strong after a good single season at Fulham, which followed what was widely regarded as an unfair sacking by Manchester City. The reason he had gotten the job at City was because he had managed Blackburn to a top-six finish in 2005-06, and he got that job because he very nearly took Wales to Euro 2004, which would have been their first tournament for 50 years.

This is a man with proper managerial pedigree. Really, Stoke are appointing him for his achievements in all his other positions. He did amazingly well with tiny budgets at Blackburn, with inferior players with Wales and maintained the Roy Hodgson momentum at Fulham. Blackburn and Fulham were mid-sized clubs who needed a steady hand at the tiller and a good eye for a bargain in the transfer market. Sounds like Stoke right? Well, not necessarily.

Mark Hughes

Hughes failed spectacularly at QPR and underachieved to some extent at Man City. Both of those jobs had exactly the same remit; big money, take the club on to the next level. At City, he tried to ease in Premier League players such as Joleon Lescott, Craig Bellamy, Gareth Barry, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Roque Santa Cruz so that City could more smoothly transition from mid table to top table. Also snuck in there were Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta. His plan was actually working pretty solidly, and despite the heinous amounts these players cost, they were heading in the right direction. However, they weren’t getting there quick enough for the new owners, and he was sacked.

At QPR then, baring his previous experience in mind, he tried to do things much quicker and at a club with much smaller cache than Man City. City had already been growing under Sven-Goran Eriksson so Hughes was adding better players to an already good squad. At QPR he was adding wholesale to a squad that barely survived relegation. He had to sign, or chose to sign, players who were only coming to the club because of the money offered. He went on a trolley dash, picked up whoever he could and tried to see what he could make of it. Unlike at Blackburn or even City, there was no plan, no end game.

This is what makes his arrival at Stoke so interesting. Stoke sacked Pulis because he can’t take them to the next level. They are the third highest net spenders in the league over the last five years and still haven’t cracked the top half. So, this is kind of similar to Hughes’ Man City job because at Stoke he will have a relatively big budget. The problem is, what is the next level? The top ten perhaps? The trouble is that the Premier League mid table is so congested and teams can’t sign from each other as they all have similar budgets and ambition.

Tony Pulis

Because of this, he will have to pay bigger sums to get minor improvements to his squad if he shops domestically, which is a very dangerous path and immediately puts a target on his back. It won’t be easy for him to decide on a coherent market strategy. However, he has now got the experience of this type of job and should now know what not to do, which gives him a real advantage. Stoke have more pedigree than QPR and thus this is more like the Man City build.

The other question is about the type of football he will play and in this sense he is a good bridge to better stuff. His teams never played beautiful football as such, but it was much nicer than what Stoke fans are used to seeing. But importantly, it’s not too different. He doesn’t need to change things wholesale to get them playing better, as someone like Roberto Martinez would. He will be comfortable with the more industrial players and more tolerant of the creative players. As a former striker he has an empathy for creators and goal scorers, something Pulis never had, always preferring industry.

Stoke City have a rock-solid defence and goalkeeper, which is a good foundation, similar to what Hughes had at Blakcburn and Fulham. If he can find the right attacking weapons then there is no reason why he can’t get Stoke playing better football in the top ten. He will have the money available to do so and in all his previous jobs has shown he can spend adroitly. He needs to remember what he’s learned about pacing the change properly and he can be a big success.

Advertisements

Blackburn’s baffling owners: Strange behaviour at Ewood Park

As Blackburn embark on their Championship campaign, the club’s fans will take some heart from the fact that the squad has been bolstered this summer. However, looking at owners’ Venky’s treatment of manager Steve Kean and approach in the transfer market raises some huge question marks, and further proves that the Indian conglomerate have no idea how to run a football club.

Despite some plucky performances and results at times last season, Rovers looked like a relegation contender for the majority of the campaign, and in the end were demoted to the second-tier of English football. The dramatic downturn in the team’s fortunes since the harsh sacking of Sam Allardyce back in December 2010 has been startling, with the club’s fans pinning the blame on the owners and Steve Kean.

The Scottish coach was a surprise selection to replace Allardyce given his inexperience, and has had to face a brunt of abuse from the Ewood Park faithful. Protests to have Kean sacked and constant dissatisfaction from the fans throughout 2011-12 saw the coach as a favourite to be axed, but Venky’s stood by their man, even after relegation.

A bit of loyalty in football can be admired, but after their continued backing of Kean, Venky’s have completely changed their approach. New director of football Shebby Singh has come out and stated that Kean will be sacked if Rovers lose three games in a row this term. Why stand by an inexperienced and under-fire manager for an entire campaign, which results in relegation, and then sack him three games later?

In the transfer market Venky’s actions again have been strange. Rovers were in big trouble at the turn of the year, and needed investment in new players in the January transfer market to stand a chance of avoiding the drop. However, the owners parted less than £2 million to bring little-known Anthony Modeste, Bradley Orr and Marcus Olsson to Ewood. Now that the side have been demoted the owners have invested to bring the likes of Danny Murphy, Nuno Gomes, Dickson Etuhu and Leon Best to Lancashire. Although the Rovers fans will welcome the investment, it is six months too late as the club are stuck in the quagmire of the Championship.

Blackburn have a great chance of bouncing straight back to the top flight at the first time of asking due to the quality in their squad comparative to other sides in the Championship, but it is clear that the club are being mismanaged. No wonder the protests and frustration continue, however Rovers fans should aim their anger at inept owners rather than an inexperienced trainer.

Fancy a flutter on your mobile phone? If so the latest betting app from http://paddypowerapp.com has the ability to allow you to access sports books as well as online casino games such as Roulette, Blackjack and Poker right from your mobile phone

Manchester United, Liverpool and the biggest Premier League losers of 2011-12

Despite a fantastically entertaining season with a raft of Premier League winners this term, it has been a campaign to forget for some teams and individuals. Euro 2012, the Olympics and the summer transfer window are approaching, and for some 2011-12 could not come to an end quick enough. Here are Ninety Minutes Online’s biggest losers of 2011/12.

Liverpool

Despite lifting the Carling Cup with victory over Cardiff, 2011/12 has been the worst campaign for Liverpool for quite some time. The Anfield outfit’s fans expected their side to be challenging for a top four berth, but a eighth place finish, 17 points adrift of Tottenham in fourth, has been a massive disappointment.

From Fenway Sports Group’s ill-fated home-grown transfer policy, to Luis Suarez’s racism ban, defeat in the FA Cup final to embarrassing home defeats to some of the division’s lesser lights, Liverpool fans will want to forget 2011/12.

Andre Villas Boas

After leading Porto to an unbeaten league title and lifting the Europa League in 2010/11, Andre Villas Boas was heralded as the next Jose Mourinho and the man to lead Chelsea back to the summit of the Premier League. However, an at times bullish squad rotation system saw the senior players at the club alienated, the Blues floundering outside of the top four and Villas Boas given Roman Abramovich’s axe.

The £13 million Chelsea paid Porto for AVB’s services was not rewarded, and the young trainer is still out of work after seeing his stock drop in west London.

Wolves

Wolves have been in a fight to stay in the Premier League over the last number of seasons, but Mick McCarthy has led them to survival and commanded the respect of the squad. Steve Morgan’s decision to sack McCarthy, despite a poor run of form, was an ill-sighted one, and the appointment of assistant Terry Connor a disaster.

The Molineux club reportedly interviewed the likes of Alan Curbishley and Steve Bruce for the role, but were reluctant to offer the experienced pair long-term contracts. The appointment of Connor has backfired, with the club finishing bottom with a woeful five wins all season.

Sir Alex Ferguson

2011/12 will be a season to forget for Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. The Old Trafford outfit are known for their will to win and mental toughness at the business end of the season, but the relinquishing of an eight-point lead is sure to give the legendary Scottish manager nightmares for years to come.

A lame Champions League exit in the group stages, a 6-1 hammering from City at Old Trafford and FA Cup elimination to Liverpool have been hard to take for the defending champions’ fans.

Alex McLeish and Aston Villa

Alex McLeish was a shock appointment at Villa Park last summer given his links to rivals Birmingham City, and the club’s supporters have not warmed to the Scot since. A toothless tally of seven wins, weak defending, a lack of creativity and the division’s second-lowest goal tally have had the Villa fans with their heads in their hands.

McLeish’s position as Villa manager must come under scrutiny this summer, but Randy Lerner must also invest in new players if the team are to have a better 2012/13 – Stewart Downing and Ashley Young have simply not been replaced.

Honourable mentions

  • Venkys – With Blackburn relegated this term, Steve Kean has received most of the flack from the media and the club’s fans. However, the Lancashire outfit’s Indian owners Venkys have not given the Scottish coach any funds to spend, and the side are now reportedly in financial trouble.
  • John Terry – Due to stand a court case in July for reportedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, the Chelsea skipper has lost the captaincy of his country and there is a train of thought that Terry may be excluded completely from Euro 2012. Add to this a sending off against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals for petulantly kneeing Alexis Sanchez, and Terry has had better years.
  • Jermain Defoe – The diminutive striker has proved time and again that he can score goals at the top level, but has simply not been given enough time on the pitch this season. Harry Redknapp’s preference for Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael van der Vaart could cost Defoe a place at Euro 2012.
  • Jack Wilshere – The talented Arsenal midfielder has not seen one minute of action this season, with consecutive knee cruciate injuries keeping him on the sidelines throughout. Wilshere will also miss Euro 2012 due to injury.
  • Joey Barton – Barton is no doubt talented and able when in the correct mindframe, but stupidity, ill-discipline and a terrible attitude have continued to blight his career. A red card against Manchester City on Sunday cost his team the game and his constant abusive and opinionated Twitter comments should see Mark Hughes ditch his troubled ‘captain’ this summer.

Published – Soccerlens

Race for Premier League survival: Who will stay and who will go?

A scramble for survival at the bottom of the Premier League table is keeping five clubs on their toes and pushing them to the peak of their ability: Who will stay and who will go?

Wolves – 20th – 22 Points

Probably the only certainty for relegation at this stage; Terry Connor’s side have lost eight of their last ten Premier League games, and with a six-point gap separating them and Blackburn, survival seems a million miles away. Along with their position at the bottom of the table, Wolverhampton Wanderers have a particularly difficult run-in, with Sunderland, Manchester City, and an in-form Everton still to face. Given that the Molineux outfit are in terrible form, it looks like Wolves have no chance.

Blackburn – 19th – 28 points

A hard year for Steve Kean has been reflected in Blackburn’s shaky season, but hope can be found in the Rovers’ star men, Yakubu and Junior Hoilett. Although sitting in precarious 19th place, Blackburn will be facing much easier opposition in the next few weeks compared to other relegation candidates. The Lancashire club will come up against a vulnerable Swansea and Tottenham, and will also hope to grab some points against Norwich and Wigan at home. Despite this, Blackburn need to pick up some momentum and get the best out of their danger-man upfront if they are to stave the drop.

Bolton – 18th – 29 points

Although being awarded March’s Premier League Manager of the month award, Owen Coyle has not brought his side out of the drop zone yet; however with a game in-hand Bolton are on the path to survival. Bolton’s starting XI is not the strongest of the bottom five and with a weak attacking force and no prolific goal machine, they need to grit their teeth and play to the best of their ability. With upcoming matches against teams such as Swansea and Aston Villa, the Reebok Stadium side must be optimistic and maybe, just maybe, they could survive another season of top-flight football.

Wigan – 17th – 31 points

A recent run of fantastic form saw Wigan to a 1-0 victory over Premier League champions Manchester United in their last outing, giving the Latics hope. Despite only losing two of their last ten Premier League games, Wigan have one of the hardest run-ins of the bottom five and still have to face opposition such as in-form Arsenal, Fulham, and Newcastle. DW Stadium boss Roberto Martinez will hope his side can keep this run of good form up and will take hope from their “historic” victory over Manchester United. If Wigan can now end their goal drought and keep pushing and striving, they might just avoid demotion.

QPR – 16th – 31 points

A 3-0 win over Swansea City has moved the newly-promoted west London club to 16th. An upturn home form has given Mark Hughes’ side hope after beating Arsenal and Liverpool in consecutive fixtures at Loftus Road. Although having a hard run-in away from home, facing teams such as West Brom, Chelsea and Man City, QPR will hope to claim a scalp or two, and pick up as many points as possible from their home games against Tottenham and Stoke. If they carry on their good-form and keep playing the way they have, QPR could be well on their way to becoming a stable Premier League club.

By Jacob Tucker

Tottenham: Easier April on paper for Harry Redknapp’s men

Tottenham will be glad to see the back of March and their tricky fixture list against some of the best sides in the Premier League. A stuttering period has been costly, with Spurs relinquishing their grip on third place and falling to fourth, behind Arsenal. However, with a more agreeable five fixtures in April, Harry Redknapp’s men will look to close the three-point gap on their bitter rivals and take back the automatic Champions League qualification place.

Swansea home

Tottenham take on the progressive Welsh side at home this Sunday, and will look to get back to winning ways in the league after only two points from their last five games in the division.

Brendan Rodgers has instilled an exciting passing style in the Liberty Stadium outfit, who have surpassed all expectations this season in their first season in the top flight. The Swans are generally better at home than on the road, but have nothing to lose and will go out to compete.

In Gylfi Sigurdssson the visitors have a dangerous attacking midfielder who can score goals also; Spurs must watch the on-loan Iceland international carefully. However, with the bulk of his players fit and available for selection, Harry Redknapp will urge his men to show their quality and get three points.

Sunderland away

Not an easy fixture by any means, Sunderland are always a tricky opponent in front of the passionate Stadium of Light crowd. The Wearside club looked like relegation contenders back in December, but new manager Martin O’Neill has given The Black Cats confidence and powered them up into the top half.

The Bantams have taken their foot off the pedal slightly in recent weeks, and Spurs will be buoyed on by Everton’s comprehensive 2-0 win over Sunderland away from home in the FA Cup quarter-finals. However, O’Neill will motivate his side to be at their best as they look to finish as high as possible in the league.

In James McClean the hosts have a tricky and fearless winger, who has lit the Premier League up in his debut season, whilst Stephane Sessegnon is difficult to mark as he plays in the hole between teams’ midfield and defence. Redknapp should adopt a three-man midfield and hope the likes of Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart can inspire the London side to victory.

Norwich home

Another home clash against a newly-promoted side, this on paper is a game Tottenham must win. Despite the relative inexperience of the Canaries’ players in the top flight, the Carrow Road club have, like Swansea, got their teeth into their campaign back in the big time and not looked out of place.

Paul Lambert’s men have already guaranteed their safety, and Tottenham will hope to catch Norwich cold after a long, hard season. At White Hart Lane the visitors will most likely set up a defensive line-up and look to counter on the break, so Spurs must be patient in attempts to breaks their opponents down.

Targetman Grant Holt will provide a threat in attack, and the bulky striker must be given little space by the Spurs centre half pairing. Enforcing some strong and fast like Younes Kaboul to counter Holt’s physicality may be a good move.

QPR away

London rivals QPR are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the Premier League, and are right in the mix with four other teams in the battle to avoid demotion to the Championship. Mark Hughes has a raft of January signings at his disposal, and the Loftus Road crowd will be desperate to pick up points.

Despite their position in the bottom three of the division, Rangers have shown some steel at home at times, beating Chelsea and overturning a two-goal deficit to get three points over Liverpool in a recent 3-2 win. The fact that the fixture is a London derby will also motivate the hosts.

The Hoops’ frontline of Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora has the ability to hurt any side, and the former France international in particular has the pedigree and experience to score goals. However, Spurs will look to get a grip of the game in midfield, and if they do so should be on top.

Blackburn home

A home game against Blackburn completes the Premier League schedule for April, and the White Hart Lane faithful will hope that their side have strung together wins and all but sealed their place in the top four by this point.

Rovers are likely to be panicking by the time this fixture comes around, and any team fighting to avoid relegation are dangerous to play towards the end of the season.  Steve Kean has given a relatively young group confidence, and they have the ability to spring a surprise; they have beaten both Manchester United and Arsenal this term.

The visitors’ hope will rest on veteran striker Yakubu and young prospect Junior Hoilett. The Nigerian has re-found his goal-scoring form this term, whilst Hoilett has an assurance on the ball that will most likely see him move to a bigger club in the summer.

All in all Tottenham will want to put their bad run of form behind them, and will believe that they have the ability to win all five of these games. Sunderland away will be the most difficult fixture, but it is imperative that at least all games at White Hart Lane result in three points for the hosts.

Published – Bleacher Report

Bolton must win against Blackburn for Fabrice Muamba, and their Premier League status

It has been a traumatic week for all concerned with Bolton Wanderers football club. After the horrifying scenes at White Hart Lane last Saturday, the footballing community has held its breath in hope that Fabrice Muamba would overcome what could have been a fatal heart attack, and pull through. The Trotters return to action against Blackburn on Saturday, in a crucial fixture.

Some things are more important than football, and the fact that Muamba is seemingly on the path to recovery after his near-death experience is the most pivotal news for the Reebok Stadium side. After the Trotters’ game against Aston Villa was rightly postponed in midweek, Owen Coyle’s men return to action against Blackburn this weekend.

It is only natural that Muamba will be in the thoughts of the Bolton players when they enter the field of play against Rovers, as it was not easy watching a friend and team-mate struggle for his life at White Hart Lane. The home side should go out and play to win for Muamba when they face Blackburn on Saturday.

However, they also need to play for themselves, as their Premier League status is looking increasingly shaky. With QPR’s unexpected comeback victory over Liverpool on Wednesday night, Bolton find themselves in 18th position ahead of this weekend’s fixture list.

Blackburn, without any malice, will look to catch Bolton cold this weekend as the home side’s players’ thoughts may be elsewhere. Steve Kean’s men have recorded back-to-back victories over Wolves and Sunderland, and are actually on the verge of potential safety, five points ahead of Bolton and the dropzone. An away win would see the Lancashire club move on to 31 points, and may well mean that the relegation battle is between four teams not five.

Owen Coyle has a difficult task in focusing his team for the game at the Reebok Stadium, and will hope that his players will use the ex-England under-21 international’s plight as motivation rather than a source of sorrow and pity. Muamba has shown incredible fighting spirit this week; his football team must do the same this weekend.

Steve Kean take a bow: Your Blackburn U-turn is almost complete

With Blackburn’s 2-0 win over Sunderland on Tuesday night, the Lancashire club have made a massive step towards Premier League safety. Rovers sit six points clear of the relegation zone, a feat that should not be underestimated after their dreadful start to the campaign, and are now in pole position to maintain their top flight status. Steve Kean was a sure thing to get sacked earlier this term, but the Scot has kept his job, and maybe the club in the division.

The abuse and criticism that Kean received over months whilst Blackburn were in the bottom three was unrelenting and merciless; a lesser manager may well have walked away amid the constant slating. Even the Ewood Park fans turned on Kean, and the bookmakers were defied when Kean did not lose his job.

However, the Blackburn side that stepped out against Sunderland in midweek exuded confidence and were good value for their 2-0 win over The Black Cats. Junior Hoilett continues to impress, whilst Yakubu has been a revelation at Ewood Park this term – the pair scored a goal each in the second half to confirm a well-deserved win.

However scoring has not been Blackburn’s issue this term; only the top five clubs in the division have hit the net more than the Lancashire side. Plugging a defence that has conceded 60 goals during the campaign, the second most in the Premier League, has been Kean’s chalenge and would decide the team’s fate.

The win over Sunderland was Rovers second clean sheet in a row and it appears that Kean has managed to get the best out of his youthful rearguard. Errors that blighted the first-half of the season, although not completely eradicated, seem less frequent and the defence seems to be more confident; an obvious side-effect of Kean’s tutelage.

Blackburn’s mini-turnaround at the back is even more impressive when you consider that a number of leading and experienced defenders have left the club in recent times. With Christopher Samba, Ryan Nelsen and Phil Jones amongst the defenders to exit Ewood Park in recent times, the side are obviously in a transition period, which takes time to fine-tune.

Kean was slated in the press, by pundits and a section of the club’s own fans; now that things are looking better he must receive the praise that he deserves. With Wolves looking doomed, QPR having lost five of their last seven games and Wigan and Bolton still inconsistent, Rovers are on the verge of survival; well done Steve Kean.

Kean In, Venkys out

As Blackburn Rovers languish towards the bottom of the Premier League, manager Steve Kean continues to be backed by the club’s Indian owners: The Venkys Group. Despite the current trend in the game of sacking underperforming managers prematurely, fan protests outside Ewood Park and the total inexperience of Scottish coach Steve Kean at this level, Kean still remains on the Lancashire side’s bench. The 44-year-old’s continued employment comes as more of a surprise given Venkys’ lack of patience and harsh sacking of Sam Allardyce back in December 2010. Big Sam had taken charge at Rovers in 2008/09 with the club facing potential relegation, lifted the side to mid-table security, and led Rovers to a 10th placed finish the following campaign. After the Indian organisation’s buyout of the Premier League side in November 2010, Allardyce was dismissed a month later with the club in 13th place in the standings.

Given the backers’ claims of their desire to break into the top six, the appointment of an untried and virtually unknown manager was a shock, never mind his continued employment given Rovers’ final-day escape from relegation last term, and floundering this term. There is no doubt that discarding Allardyce was a foolish and knee-jerk decision by a board of directors bereft of knowledge or experience in the game. Kean’s continued managerial tenure at the club may well have something to do with the widespread condemnation of Big Sam’s ill-treatment by a number of leading figures in the game.

Given Rovers current plight this term, should Kean still have a job? The natural reaction would be no, as up until a few weeks ago Rovers looked for all money to be a sure thing for relegation. Kean’s lack of experience at this level coupled with the frustration and downright anger of a section of the Ewood Park faithful would lead the neutral to believe it is a matter of when the Glaswegian is sacked, and not if. Take into account the Martin O’Neill effect at Sunderland, and the merits of bringing in a new manager with a track record of success is there for all to see.

However, there have been signs of recovery in Lancashire, and a case to stick with Kean.  Injuries, particularly in defence, have played their part in Rovers’ misfortune, and the 44-year-old has continued to employ an attacking and brave brand of football despite the team’s shortcomings at the back. Positivity by Kean has saw Yakubu Aiyegbeni rediscover his scoring boots and four points out of a possible six from trips to Anfield and Old Trafford have given the side hope. Blackburn may well still be near the bottom of the pile, but despite Rovers’ plight, the players seem to still have faith in the Scot’s methods and back Kean with determination and effort on the pitch, even if quality at times is lacking. 

But this article is in no way a slight against Steve Kean. He has had limited resources to work with in his first managerial role; he has been thrown in at the deep end. The ‘Kean out’ protests are due to the supporters’ understandable fear for the club’s Premier League status, but their frustrations should be angled towards Venkys, not Kean.

Blackburn’s current situation is down to the ignorance and mismanagement of the owners, rather than Kean’s inexperience. Would the club be in such a mess if Allardyce was still at the helm? Probably not. Venkys have shown the two extremes of managerial support; firstly sacking Allardyce inexplicably and then backing Kean equivocally. Kean should most likely have been sacked after 5-10 games of the campaign, but now that he is still in place Venkys must stick with him, and back him financially during this transfer window.

In December 1989, Manchester United sat just above the relegation zone in the English top flight, and calls for one of Kean’s countrymen to be sacked as their coach were deafening. 22 years and 12 league titles later, Sir Alex Ferguson has picked up the Fifa President’s Award for achievement with the Old Trafford club.

Steve Kean is not the next Sir Alex Ferguson but his determination in the face of overwhelming criticism may well be decisive in Rovers fate this term; the Scot has the herculean task of reaching the all-illusive 40 points mark. If he doesn’t keep Blackburn in the Premier League however, Rovers’ fans exasperation at their relegation should be directed towards inept ownership rather than inexperienced management.

PublishedA Football Report

Is the cost of English players forcing Premier League clubs to look abroad?

With the much publicised transfers of Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson being completed by Manchester United and Liverpool respectively in the last week for a combined total of £36.5 million, most Premier League managers will be looking to the continent and beyond for their summer signings. Both England under 21 players have quality and potential in abundance, with that there is no argument, but such extortionate transfer fees will leave the majority of top flight sides financially out of the equation when looking to sign British players, and bring more foreigners to English shores.

The grievance is not with Sunderland or Blackburn, as neither wanted to lose their prodigious talents, both of which have been cultivated and nurtured through the clubs’ youth ranks. It was obvious that both players wanted to go, so why not get as high a fee as possible? The staggering thing is the amount of money it takes, and the big clubs are willing to pay, to buy young English talent. With FIFA eager to bring quotas into the game surrounding the number of home-grown players, and the Premier League being acknowledged as having a style and pace of play that takes time to adjust to, young British players will continue to cost an arm and a leg.

This piece is not a slight against either of the players personally; as a Spurs fan I would have liked to see them at White Hart Lane, especially Jones. But for £16.5 million? The 19 year old has only made 35 appearances in senior football. Henderson’s £20 million buys you a midfielder who has found the net a mere four times in over 70 games. My argument is not that he should score more goals, it is that for £20 million you would expect a player with a more rounded game.

In Europe there are much cheaper alternatives. Newcastle United have just signed Yohan Cabaye from Lille for a fee believed to be around £5million, a player not dissimilar to Henderson. The 25 year old French midfielder is fresh from helping Lille to a league and cup double, playing the majority of the side’s games. He has featured in almost 200 first class matches, and has represented his country on four occasions; the key point however is that he cost a quarter of what Liverpool just splurged on Henderson.

Personally I believe Jones to be the better prospect of the two, but again the transfer fee seems excessive. £16.5million? If Gary Cahill is to leave Bolton in the next months the fee will be similar, whilst Arsenal target and Jones’ centre-half partner at Ewood Park Christopher Samba is reportedly available for £12 million. Lets put this in perspective, as it is not a new pricing trend. Sir Alex Ferguson paid £7 million for the best defender in the league in the form of Nemanja Vidic, but £30 million for Rio Ferdinand. Manchester rivals City signed bench-warmer Joleon Lescott for £22million but paid only £6 million for the first name on their teamsheet, Vincent Kompany. The cost of going home-grown is there for all to see.

I wish both Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson the very best of luck at their new clubs. I believe that both will excel in their new environments, and have the necessary ability to make the step up.  However the fees paid for their services are detrimental to the English game, and it will be to the cost of the national side and Fabio Capello, who will not have as many players to select for international duty due to the continued influx of cheaper foreign alternatives joining Premier League clubs this summer.

Published – http://afootballreport.com/post/6580583976/is-the-cost-of-english-players-forcing-premier-league

%d bloggers like this: