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Do Tottenham now regret sacking Harry Redknapp?

With Tottenham seemingly no closer to attaining a place as a regular Premier League top-four finisher, there is just cause to look back at where it has went wrong over the last couple of seasons.

The days when the north London outfit were beating Serie A giants Inter and AC Milan in the Champions League now feel like an eternity ago, with the current crop of Spurs players stuttering at the start of 2014-15.

Harry Redknapp was the man responsible for leading Tottenham to the Champions League and oversaw two fourth-placed finishes in his three-year tenure at White Hart Lane.

However, due to the ongoing ambition of the club, the now QPR boss was shown the door in the summer of 2012 for not delivering inclusion to Europe’s top club tournament.

Given that Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood have failed to inspire the required confidence to be deemed as the man to take the club forward and Mauricio Pochettino is already feeling the heat, does Daniel Levy regret getting rid of Redknapp?

Harry Redknapp

There is no doubt that Pochettino is a young manger of ability, displayed for all to see during his time at Southampton, but he needs to be given time at the club; there will most likely need to be steps back before progression can be made.

That said, Spurs have stagnated and made little progress since the departure of Redknapp and have been experiencing the consequences of too much ambition and impetuousness for the last two years.

Although not the man to great a Sir Alex Ferguson-like legacy at Spurs, it would be very interesting to see how the club would be currently sitting if Redknapp had been given more time back in 2012.

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QPR in financial strife after relegation from Premier League

QPR will play Championship football next year after a terrible 2012-13 campaign, with relegation from the Premier League already confirmed. The club’s owner Tony Fernandes invested heavily in the club since buying the Loftus Road outfit back in August 2011, but the organisation’s financial future now looks bleak.

Fernandes admitted earlier in the season that he would consider walking away from QPR should the side be relegated, and football in-play betting odds suggest this is still a real possibility.

Should the Air Asia entrepreneur make that move, the club could find themselves in a similar position to the likes of Leeds United and slip down the leagues quickly due to financial mismanagement.

QPR owner Tony Fernandes

Harry Redknapp’s wages will surely be considerable, much more than anyone else in the Championship, and the ex-Tottenham man’s future could also be on the line. However, the rumours suggest that a raft of big-money signings will be leaving the club. The main problem is that some of them will not want to due to the extortionate wages QPR handed them in a bid to salvage their Premier League status.

Players of quality such as Loic Remy, Christopher Samba and Julio Cesar will have no problems finding a new club, however some other players will not want to take a hefty paycut to leave, and could lurk in the reserves eating away at the club’s coffers.

The likes of Jose Bosingwa, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Tal Ben Haim, amongst others, will find it almost impossible to find a club that will match their current wage structure.

One thing is for sure, and that is that QPR must slash their wage bill and recoup as much money from transfer fees as possible over the summer. If Redknapp does stay he could well be the man to lead them back to the top flight, given his reputation for astute buys in the transfer market. But first a period of consolidation and damage limitation is needed.

QPR’s case should serve as an example to other clubs that will look to avoid relegation from the Premier League next season and in the future. Although the temptation will always be there to splurge money in a bid to avoid the drop, the consequences of these actions are far-fetching.

Should a team like Wigan get relegated this season also, the Latics will be in a much better position to bounce straight back to the Premier League given that they are ran sensibly by a cautious chairman and do not live beyond their means.

Tottenham thriving as AVB gets the best from Gareth Bale

Andre Villas-Boas has taken a lot of criticism whilst he has been in England, mostly as a result of his ill-fated spell as John Terry’s assistant at Chelsea. However, his work at Tottenham is starting to regain him the respect that he garnered whilst sweeping all before him during his one season at Porto.

One of the views being put about is that he is quite lucky to have Gareth Bale in the form of his life, but how about the idea that it is because of AVB’s teaching that Bale is achieving the levels that he is? Bale’s explosion in goalscoring form has coincided with AVB moving him in to a central role. In reality he has a roaming license, popping up all over the pitch. He is top of every dribbling statistic in the major five European leagues and he now has the freedom to do that from all over the field. The Wales international has become particularly dangerous from deep central areas, powering straight at defences; see his goals away at Norwich, West Brom and the first at West Ham. His finishing has always been quite good, but out on the wing he had less chance to demonstrate it.

Gareth Bale hugs manager Andre Villas-Boas

AVB isn’t actually the first to deploy Bale in the middle. Harry Redknapp played him in behind the striker a couple of times last season, including a two-goal plunder away at Norwich, but he didn’t stick to it. This was partly because he liked Rafael Van der Vaart in there, but mainly because he liked the two wide pacey wingers to put crosses in to the box.

AVB comes from a different tactical school to Redknapp. He deploys his best player in his best position and figures the rest out from there. Even if it means playing him in a different part of the pitch to where he might be expected to play. He did the same at Porto with Radamel Falcao. He told him to stay central and let the chances come his way, particularly after a barren start to the season.

Radamel Falcao

In his first season in Portugal Falcao had scored 25 goals in the league but just four in Europe. During Villas-Boas’ only season at the club he scored 16 more domestic goals, in only 22 games, but what made his name were the 17 he scored on Porto’s run to victory in the Europa League. When Villas-Boas arrived he made noises that he wouldn’t make any special adjustments to fit around Falcao, but there were subtle changes. He tweaked the Porto system meaning Falcao won the prized berth in the middle of the front three, and this showed the Colombian that he was Villas-Boas’ main man.

The same thing is happening with Bale. AVB is nothing if not a relentless worker and something of a football junkie. He meticulously plans his training sessions and his tactical game plans but at the beginning of the season he was struggling to get the best from Bale. It has been a slow transition but he has allowed the Welshman more and more license to get himself in to areas that the opposition don’t want to him to be. Where do they least want Bale? Running straight at them through the middle of the pitch. Where do teams least want to see Falcao? Lingering around in the box waiting to pounce on anything that comes his way.

These meticulously planned training sessions are a big factor in helping these players attain their maximum potential. Bale is the type of player who would spend all day on the training ground if he could, and having an innovative and thinking coach like AVB who is able to provide him with different challenges and stimulus every day is something that he buys in to. His work ethic has been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo and the fact that he has such a good coach and teacher is what is taking him on to another level.

After his spectacular season at Porto, Falcao headed to Atletico Madrid for £35 million, full of confidence and with the reputation as one of Europe’s hottest strikers. He has only continued on from there and is now considered amongst the top three pure strikers in the world. Tottenham fans will be hoping that the AVB affect won’t end with Bale, but it is clear that as a coach and teacher Villas-Boas knows how to take very good players and make them some of the best in the world.

Redknapp only out for QPR’s money?

Harry Redknapp arrived at Queens Park Rangers in November billed as the man to save them.

At the time, the R’s were struggling at the bottom of the Premier League without a win in their first dozen games, and Redknapp signed a two-and-a-half year deal at Loftus Road with one immediate objective – to keep the Londoners in the top flight.

It was deemed by many as an astute appointment from Rangers’ chairman Tony Fernandes; after all, Redknapp had led Tottenham Hotspur to the Champions League in 2010 and was on the brink of the England job before Spurs chairman Daniel Levy decided to ask to for an inflated compensation package for the services of his team’s manager.

Harry Redknapp

The former Southampton and Portsmouth boss claimed the chance to manage a club propping up the Premier League was “too good an opportunity to turn down”.

Just a few weeks into the job, Redknapp announced that it was time to dispense with the players who were only at Loftus Road for wages that were being given. Having seen the club’s fans and owner being taken for a ride by cash-grabbing mercenaries, Redknapp decided it would be him who would put a stop to such behaviour.

“I don’t really want to see the owners have their pants taken down like they have in the past. A lot of agents made money out of them,” declared Redknapp just before Christmas.

“I fined a player last week (Jose Bosingwa) and he was earning more than any player earned at Tottenham. You shouldn’t be paying massive wages when you’ve got a stadium that holds 18,000 people.”

The stance was admirable; Redknapp was riding in on his white horse to save the despairing QPR from a bunch of chancers and charlatans – except, Redknapp is doing the exact same as the players who his ire was aimed at.

Redknapp took over in November with the club in 20th position in the Premier League, four months on the club is still in the same position, only after spending £20m in the January transfer window.

Former Blackburn Rovers defender Christopher Samba moved from Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala for £12m and French striker Loic Remy was brought in for £8m from Marseille, in an attempt to stave off the threat of relegation.

Despite being in the job just under two months, Redknapp had smashed the club’s transfer record – twice.

Make no mistake, for a club at the bottom end of the league to spend such a sum in the winter transfer window is unprecedented. So far, the transfers have done little to help the cause and if QPR are demoted to the Championship in May, then the carefree nature of January’s spending could haunt the club for years.

Of course, Redknapp has previous for this spendthrift attitude to transfer dealings. He led Portsmouth to the 2008 FA Cup with a squad that contained many of his signings; players such as Peter Crouch, Glen Johnson, Sulley Muntari and Sylvain Distin.

Three are still performing admirably on a weekly basis in the Premier League, whilst Muntari currently plies his trade in Italy for AC Milan. Five years on Pompey sit rock bottom of League One, plagued by financial trouble stemming from their indulgent attitude of the last few years.

When discussing the fine given to Bosingwa after his refusal to be among the substitutes in a game against Fulham, Redknapp said:

“[Bosingwa] has been fined two weeks’ wages, £130,000. Not too bad for two weeks – decent isn’t it.”

Musing on the amount of money to be earned at Loftus Road is perhaps what he meant when he claimed that the opportunity was “too good to turn down” on his arrival at the club.

Remy Remedy?

Is the Frenchman’s arrival part of Harry’s magic fix or the epitome of January desperation?

Premier League relegation candidates Queens Park Rangers have confirmed the signing of Loic Remy from Ligue 1 title chasers Marseille. It had emerged over the weekend that Newcastle had agreed a fee with the French side and that a deal was close only for the league’s bottom club to hijack the move.

But should the Toon Army really be that disappointed at missing out and should hoops fans be getting excited that Remy could be the key to survival? The forward’s form in the first half of the season certainly suggests not.

The January market is constantly referred to as over-inflated and the transfer of forwards in particular often points to clubs willing to spend big and take risks in search of a magic fix. Forwards score goals, goals win games and that is ultimately the difference in who gets relegated and who qualifies for Europe. A couple of winters ago this striker shuffling reached a crescendo with the huge deadline day deals involving Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll.

Loic Remy

Loic Remy’s solitary league goal this season in 14 appearances should do little to alleviate the relegation concerns of the QPR faithful. A club record £8 million has been spent on a player who is badly out of form and surely this is a sign that Harry Redknapp is gambling and gambling big-time. Remy also arrives at the age of 26 and is a player who Premiership clubs have been linked with for several seasons. Interesting that it is only now, mid-season, that a deal has been agreed to take the France international to the premiership and also that it appeared only to be the bottom side and another who had just lost a forward against their will, that were in the chase.

It’s also worth questioning the former Lyon and Nice man’s decision in picking QPR over Newcastle. Granted Harry Redknapp may have been a factor, there is the opportunity to live in London and Rangers are showing signs of revival but which team is more likely to be in the Pemiership next season? Is Remy merely looking to put himself in the shop window?

Maybe this is unjustified apprehension and the 26 year old is to be believed when he says he is looking forward to the challenge. He also mentions that he spoke to both Redknapp and owner Tony Fernandes at length and that they gave him “the right motivation to play for QPR”. Is that motivation the challenge of avoiding relegation and progressing form there or is it merely superior wages to those offered by Newcastle?

Regardless of his poor form and the reasons behind his choice of club, Remy has got some credentials to justify his transfer fee. Last season he scored close to a goal every two games for l’OM and those exploits helped him extend his tally of France caps to 17. He also has a previous track record of hitting the ground running. He scored six times in his first seven games during his spell at Nice. If he could replicate that it would help the survival fight no end. He has also bagged a couple of goals in the Europa League this year.

These stats suggest that the striker has the ability to make Harry’s gamble pay off and although the signing appears a little desperate at present, Redknapp usually gets things right when it comes to the transfer market.

What next though for Newcastle’s hit-man hunt? There is a definite air of disappointment around the failure to retain the services of top scorer Demba Ba and Alan Pardew will be keen to ensure the window doesn’t close before he can bag a replacement. Last season the January arrival of Papiss Cisse in the Northeast had an immediate impact on the club’s fortunes and while a similarly successful signing might be unrealistic Newcastle’s current plight dictates that a deal must be done. Peter Odemwingie is thought to be available at the right price and journeyman Darren Bent is known to be keen on another move. The movement of strikers though in January is akin to the toppling of dominos and clubs are rarely keen to do business until they have a replacement ready.

By Francis Johnston

Tottenham’s transfer strategy may well be aided by Andre Villas-Boas’ appointment

Tottenham have taken the bold step of dismissing established manager Harry Redknapp, despite a fourth-placed finish in 2011-12; Andre Villas-Boas has taken the reigns at White Hart Lane. The Portuguese trainer certainly has something to prove after a botched attempt at revitalising an ageing Chelsea side, and plenty of doubters waiting to see him fail.

Despite this, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has backed the new coach with money to spend thusfar, with a raft of new faces expected at the north London club before the 2012-13 campaign starts. Here is why AVB’s appointment can aid Spurs in their transfer strategy this summer.

Link to Porto and Joao Moutinho

One of Tottenham’s main challenges in the transfer window this summer will be to replace key playmaker Luka Modric if and when he leaves the club. Many names have been touted as possible signings to fill the creative gap that the Croatian’s departure would leave, however none seem more suitable than Joao Moutinho.

After an impressive Euro 2012 campaign for Portugal Moutinho is in the limelight, and Villas-Boas’ link to Porto could well be integral in bringing the diminutive midfielder to White Hart Lane. The Portuguese champions do not want to sell, but the Spurs boss could well use his relationship with the player to fashion a deal.

European record of success

Regardless of his failings at Stamford Bridge, Villas-Boas’ record of success with Porto is mightily impressive. An unbeaten domestic season and Europa League glory propelled the young trainer into the world’s spotlight, with fans, players and the footballing community taking their hats off in appreciation.

This record of success will stand Spurs in good stead in the transfer market, as the majority of their rumoured targets seem to be currently plying their trade on the continent. Villas-Boas is well-respected in Europe, compared to Harry Redknapp whose reputation is UK based.

The aura of ambition

Although Redknapp certainly wanted to succeed with Tottenham, the side’s capitulation last term was largely down to doubts over his future, with England lurking, and naïve tactics. Villas-Boas gives off the impression of a born winner, with his exploits at the Estadio do Dragao the proof in the pudding.

Players may well be motivated by money and other factors when choosing a new club, but nothing intrigues the modern day professional more than ambition. Villas-Boas will act as a shot in the arm that Tottenham need to be perceived as a club heading in the right direction.

Focus on young players

Villas-Boas is a known advocate of investing in youth, which may not have paid off at Chelsea but could well see Tottenham as a challenger at the top of the game in England for the foreseeable future. The likes of Kyle Walker, Gareth Bale and other younger and energetic players will be the heartbeat of Tottenham’s side next term, and the Portuguese tactician will look to add more exciting prospects to his squad before the campaign starts.

Harry Redknapp was guilty of bringing in older heads that suffered injury and inconsistency, with the likes of Ryan Nelsen, William Gallas and Louis Saha having limited impact. Villas-Boas wants to find a replacement for ageing goalkeeper Brad Friedel, whilst the additions of Jan Vertonghen and Gylfi Sigurdsson at 25 and 22 years old respectively are signings for now and the future.

Attacking ethos

Tottenham, when on form and in the mood, must be accredited as one of the most lethal and exciting attacking sides in England, and Villas-Boas’ appointment will only go to continue this. The new trainer will set his side up to be combative and competitive, but also to attack their opponents and look to entertain the White Hart Lane faithful.

With a new striker (or two) on the wishlist, Villas-Boas will be keen to bring in attacking talent that will help the team continue their offensive outlook.

Published – Bleacher Report

Drogba, Berbatov and the Premier League strikers up for grabs this summer

With the big clubs looking to strengthen their squads for 2012-13, there is a likelihood that a number of fringe players will be sold on. Here are six Premier League strikers likely to be looking for a new club this summer.

Edin Dzeko

Although experiencing a great start to the 2011-2012 season, scoring seven goals in the first four matches for the Blues, a year spent in the shadow of Argentine team-mate Sergio Aguero has been disappointing for the Bosnian hit-man. Already proving himself as a dangerous Premier League forward, Dzeko will look for new ground come next season and with another big-money forward likely to join Roberto Mancini’s men in the summer, the £27 million forward will want to get first-team football elsewhere and there are many clubs that will want him.

Dimitar Berbatov

It has been a strange season at Old Trafford for the Bulgarian forward, who has experienced a game drought at the beginning of the season, a fantastic December – scoring six goals in three games – and a disappointing finish. The Manchester United outcast will want to find a new club next year after demonstrating his ability when he has had the chance. Valued at around £10 million, the 31-year-old forward would be a great signing for any club in need of a goal-hungry poacher. Although known for his laziness, there is no doubt that many sides will want him come the summer.

Marouane Chamakh

For Marouane Chamakh it has been an awful season, scoring only one goal in 21 appearances for the north London outfit, and although signing on a free transfer from Bordeaux in 2010, the Moroccan forward has been a big disappointment. With the signing of Lucas Podolski, there will be no space for the target man in Arsene Wenger’s plans and it is possible he could make a move back to France very soon. The Premier League has proved to be just too much of a challenge for the 28-year-old striker, who will be frustrated with his unhappy time at Arsenal.

Jermain Defoe

Super sub Jermain Defoe, much like the others mentioned, has had a year spent watching from the sidelines, as Manchester City loanee Emmanuel Adebayor has led Tottenham’s front-line this season. The unsettled 29-year-old has been linked to a £10 million move to Anfield and has also been connected with a transfer to promoted side Reading. Although Harry Redknapp is keen to keep him at Tottenham in the summer, Defoe is dying for first-team football and there will be a number of new options for him if Spurs are willing to sell.

Didier Drogba

With an expiring contract in the summer, 34-year-old Didier Drogba is set to make a departure from his beloved Stamford Bridge after eight years of dedicated service. Scoring vital goals in the cup competitions this season, the Ivorian target man will play a vital role in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich and will be intent on having a last surge for European glory. It is rumoured that Drogba could make a mover to either Shanghai Shenhua – to join former teammate Nicolas Anelka – or possibly back to former club Marseille if a contract extension of two years is not offered by the Blues.

Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt has been a loyal servant at Anfield since signing in 2006 and has proved a important player for King Kenny’s side this term, scoring the equaliser in the extra time of the Carling Cup final and leading them on to win on penalties. There has been much speculation over a return to Dutch side Feyenoord, after admitting that he wants to go back, but for the 31 year-old the deal would be now or never and with a Liverpool team on decline, it looks like the Dutchman is set to make a return to Rotterdam.

By Jacob Tucker

Manchester City, Newcastle and the biggest Premier League winners of 2011-12

A fantastic last day of the season capped off one of the most memorable Premier League seasons in the recent memory. 2011/12 has had it all; a topsy-turvy title race that literally went down to the wire, a bitter battle for the top four, heroics in the Champions League and a breathtaking relegation battle. Now that the dust has settled, here are Ninety Minutes Online’s top five winners of 2011/12.

Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City mindgames

An incredible title race has been consisted of champions and perennial favourites Manchester United being confronted by cross-town rivals Manchester City, with the noisy neighbours claiming victory on a captivating last day. The Etihad Stadium outfit looks almost unstoppable at the start of the season, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s men struggling to keep up at times, before the Red Devils recaptured the advantage and found themselves eight points clear at the summit. After a derby victory for City, the battle went down to the last day, with two goals in stoppage time by Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero against QPR unbelievably giving the Citizens their first top-flight title since 1968.

Ferguson is usually the king of managerial mindgames, but on this occasion the imperious Italian has seemingly got into the United players’ thoughts, and City provide worthy winners of the 2011/12 Premier League.

Alan Pardew and his Newcastle team

Despite missing out on the top four with a last-day defeat by Everton, Newcastle have been exceptional under Alan Pardew this season, and have defied the odds to be in the race for Champions League qualification. The likes of Cheik Tiote, Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye have proved to be astute signings, whilst the January acquisition of Papiss Cisse has resulted in a new number nine hero for the Tyneside club.

Pardew and his side must be given credit for finishing above the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool this season and providing some exceptional football at times.

Newly-promoted sides

Norwich, Swansea and QPR faced an uphill battle to stay in the Premier League this season, and many prophesised a speedy return to the Championship for the trio. However, all three sides have proved that they are good enough to cut it in the top-tier, and will look to push on next term. Swansea have been one of the teams of the season, and an 11th place finish, with a stylish brand of football to boot, is an exceptional achievement. Norwich, led by talisman Grant Holt, were not far behind in 12th and also claimed some scalps this term.

Meanwhile, although QPR escaped the drop on the last day, the Loftus Road club have beaten Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool to show their worth. All three will provide motivation to Southampton, Reading and either West Ham or Blackpool for next season.

Roy Hodgson

With Fabio Capello’s decision to walk away from the England manager’s post, a media frenzy has brewed over who the man to lead the Three Lions to Euro 2012 would be. With Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp the frontrunner and favourite, the press had us believing that it would be a matter of when and not if the White Hart Lane supremo took charge.

However, Roy Hodgson’s excellent achievement of lifting West Brom to 10th in the table has been recognised, and the Hawthorns man will now lead England to Ukraine and Poland.

Football

Football has been a massive winner this term, as the 2011/12 Premier League season has been the most competitive, spell-bounding and enthralling campaign for many a year. Whether it was the race for the title, five teams slugging it out to stay in the division, the heroics of the new boys or the quality of the sides in the top six, 2011/12 will take some beating next season.

Honourable Mentions

  • Roberto Di Matteo – The Italian has completely rejuvenated Chelsea since taking over from Andre Villas Boas, and after winning the FA Cup is 90 minutes away from lifting the Champions League crown.
  • Paul Scholes – The ageing veteran came out of retirement to show that he still has what it takes to compete at the top level despite his age. Rumours are circulating that Roy Hodgson will take Scholes to Euro 2012.
  • Arsene Wenger – Many had lost faith in the French manager at the start of the campaign when the Gunners lost four of their first seven games, but Wenger has led the club to a third-placed finish despite the criticism.
  • The FA Cup – With the emergence of the Champions League, over recent seasons the FA Cup has had to take a back seat, but some enthralling games between the nation’s best teams have been a joy to watch this season.
  • David Moyes – The Scottish coach continues to overachieve despite a shoestring transfer budget at Goodison Park, and leading the Toffees to seventh place is an excellent return.

Published – Soccerlens

Tottenham and Manchester City: Beware the wrath of the former manager

With the last day of the Premier League season on Sunday, all is still to play for in the race for the Premier League title, top four and in the battle to avoid relegation. Manchester City and Tottenham are in the driving seat in their respective ambitions of winning the league and qualifying for the Champions League. However, one thing stands in their way; a dedicated former manager.

City sit top of the standings on goal difference and need three points against QPR this weekend to seal their first top-flight title since 1968. Roberto Mancini’s men have been imperious at the Etihad Stadium this term, winning 17 out of their 18 games at home and remaining unbeaten as hosts. On paper City should have the quality and motivation to dispatch the Loftus Road side; however, Rangers still need a point to ensure their Premier League status for next season, as a Bolton win away at Stoke would see the London team drop back into the bottom three.

Rangers’ fortunes have taken an upturn since Mark Hughes replaced Neil Warnock as the club’s manager. The newly-promoted side have beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham since the Welsh trainer’s introduction, and have looked like a stubborn and solid side of late.

Reports in the press indicate that QPR owner Tony Fernandes will reward Hughes with a £1 million payout should he keep the club in the top flight, however the head coach will be motivated to prove a point for other reasons this Sunday. Hughes was treated harshly in his stint at City, dispatched by the club and their lofty ambitions after Sheik Mansour’s takeover, and the Rangers boss will feel that Mancini has taken advantage of the groundwork set by him.

Hughes did not have stars such as David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and others at his disposal during his time at the club, and in the early stages of the City revolution patience was not in abundance. Hughes has excelled since leaving the Manchester team, both at Fulham and QPR, and will be keen to show that City’s current success may originate from his initial underpinnings.

Meanwhile, in north London Tottenham are on the verge of reclaiming a top-four spot, and need three points at home to Fulham to confirm fourth place at least. Although finishing in third is also possible if Arsenal slip-up at West Brom, Harry Redknapp has admitted that he will be happy to claim fourth place.

Spurs’ early-season heroics have hit a sizeable roadblock over the last two months, and the White Hart Lane club have dropped from potential title challengers to scrapping for fourth. However, Martin Jol and Fulham stand in the way of a successful campaign for Spurs.

Fulham have had a good second half of the season, and the likes of Moussa Dembele, Pavel Pogrebnyak and especially Clint Dempsey will prove a threat to Spurs’ season. Martin Jol is a popular figure at White Hart Lane after his stint in the club’s hotseat. The Dutch trainer put the wheels in motion for Spurs’ current place as one of he country’s best teams, and led Tottenham to two fifth-placed finishes.

Jol has done a good job with Fulham also, and Spurs are by no means guaranteed an easy three points. Similar to Hughes, Jol will feel that his departure from Tottenham was slightly unjust, and the headhunting of Juande Ramos to replace him will have left a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. Jol will look to prove a point to Daniel Levy and the rest of the Tottenham board this weekend, and in doing so could well end the north London club’s hopes of Champions League football.

Roy Hodgson: Is this surprise selection the man to lead England to glory at Euro 2012?

Roy Hodgson has been announced as Fabio Capello’s successor with the countdown to Euro 2012 well under way. The FA have taken a considered and patient approach in finding the next Three Lions boss, but with Tottenham’s Harry Redknapp also thought to be keen on leading the nation, have the governing body made the right choice?

The expectancy of England to perform wonders in Ukraine and Poland is not as high as in the lead-up to previous international tournaments, and Hodgson’s appointment will not inspire any additional confidence in the travelling supporters. With nations such as Spain, Germany and Netherlands expected to lead the way this summer, the West Brom boss will need to get the best out of his squad to stand a chance of making the final stages of the tournament.

Even before Capello walked away from the role with the home nation, Redknapp has been the frontrunner and favourite to lead the nation due to his excellent achievements at White Hart Lane. It seemed like a matter of when rather than if the Spurs boss would assume the role, with the media brewing up a storm in a teacup in backing the north London manager.

However, given careful consideration, maybe there is rational thought behind the selection of Hodgson. Despite a terrible and brief stint at Liverpool, he has transformed West Brom’s fortunes and taken a mediocre squad away from relegation against the odds and into the safe-haven of mid-table.

The Hawthorns supremo has been praised for his man-management skills and careful approach, whilst he also has experience of international football. Redknapp is perceived as more of a club manager, who enjoys the wheeling-dealing of the transfer market and daily interaction with players.

Hodgson will not be the first surprise, unlikely or second-choice man to fill the national void, after the likes of Steve McClaren and Terry Venables got the top job unexpectedly. The fortunes of the latter certainly outweighed that of the former, but for England to excel this summer Hodgson must dispel any rumblings over his worth and selection.

With the competition kicking off in a month’s time and the selection of the squad in around a week, Hodgson has work to do, and will not necessarily thank the FA for the short timescales to get organised and comfortable in the role. Fixtures against France, Sweden and Ukraine in Group D will test England’s ability and resolve, and the FA will hope that their choice of boss will be vindicated come the final on July 1st.

Published – Yahoo

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