Tag Archives: Premier League

David Moyes

The David Moyes effect

Since David Moyes took over for the second time at West Ham, he has made the side a better team, with the likes of Sebastien Haller benefitting from the Scot’s approach.

But what has the former Everton and Manchester United boss done that has made a real difference in his three games in charge, and what does he offer the Hammers and their long-term plans to challenge the established top six?

Stability

The 56-year-old offers a back-to-basics approach to which will be needed for the East London club to at least stay in the league this season. At the start of the campaign, pundits including ESPN’s Don Hutchison were saying that they were going to be able to challenge for the top four, while this hasn’t been the case these players are the same and have real ability to save their season if used correctly.

Moyes will work on the training pitch with the squad to improve the little margins that they’ve not been getting right. Despite West Ham having many flair players, they are going to need to start passing normally before they can show their skills because it’s the trying to be exuberant that has cost the side an identity that they’re new manager will have to get back.

We have already seen a marked improvement in Haller, who scored his sixth goal of the season in West Ham’s 4-0 win over Bournemouth, and it was the players around him who really helped the Frenchman flourish.

The inclusion of Mark Noble made a big difference, and the Hammers needs their skipper and Declan Rice in a midfield to offer a combative duo in front of the back line. Mix in another hard worker in Robert Snodgrass, and the London club overpowered a poor Cherries side.

Defensive issues slowly being corrected?

With 21 games played the Hammers sit 16th in the league, having won one and lost one in the league under their new manager.

They’ve conceded one in three, including beating Gillingham in the FA Cap – a team they might have failed to see off under Manuel Pellegrini, considering Oxford United beat them earlier this season. Prior to that, they had conceded four in three games.

Lukasz Fabianski is one of the best keepers in the league, and a workman-like defence of Issa Diop and either Fabian Balbuena and Angelo Ogbonna should be enough to keep them up this season. From there, the club can look to get a serious partner for Diop, who is by far the club’s best defender.

Fabianski only recently returned to action after three months out with an injury, and Moyes will be hoping he can now stay fit. A mix-up between No.2 keeper David Martin and Balbuena cost the Hammers a point against Sheffield United, underlining Fabianki’s importance.

With Everton coming up for West Ham, it could be a make or break game for their season. If they get the tactics right, then they could be four points above the drop zone, and they will then surely have enough about them to get results and achieve safety.

Tactics

Having Snodgrass ahead of Manuel Lanzini is beneficial because while Lanzini is a better player, he has been below par and doesn’t perform well on the right-hand side.

Snodgrass has three goals and two assists compared to the Argentine’s three assists. He seems rejuvenated by playing for his fellow Scot, getting the assist for Mark Noble’s first against Bournemouth while also having an equaliser ruled out by VAR against Sheffield United.

Wingers have been a real problem for West Ham as they don’t have many good left-sided forwards, Of course, Felipe Anderson can play there but if he is being used as an attacking midfielder then they are short out wide. Pablo Fornals is also better when being played through the middle.

This means that when Moyes is playing with three at the back and a variation of five or six through the middle, he is using a formation that works to the strength of the squad. This will get the best out of all their attacking players, and if Haller plays up front on his own he can thrive with the level of creativity around him.

Moyes tempers expectations

Despite Hammers fans feeling that they need to be in European football, it is clear that the way the club is some way off that, despite spending lots of money on the likes of Haller from Frankfurt, Fornals from Villarreal and Alban Ajeti from FC Basel without splashing serious cash on their defence.

West Ham’s backline is a mess, with both Ogbonna and Balbuena being inconsistent. Ryan Fredricks is underwhelming at right-back, with 34-year-old Pablo Zabaleta his only competition.

Moyes’s brand of football is not necessarily fun to watch but it will minimise the deficiency’s in the squad’s defence.

Without Fabianski, the Hammers leaked goals due to their defence not being as good as the players going forward. Finding a way to mix the defence up without creating a lack of understanding will be one of the biggest tasks ahead for the West Ham boss.

David Moyes for a season or so could build them in the way they need to as he seems to have some good ideas moving forward like it or not this is the situation that they’ve put themselves in Moyes could be a crucial part of the hammers revival.

Signing former Hammers back-up goalie Darren Randolph from Middlesbrough for £4m means that, if something happens to Fabianski, the Hammers don’t have to rely on Roberto, who has been a flop and is likely to be moved on, or Martin – a decent keeper but not of Premier League ability.

Their new boss has also seen that the centre of midfield is a problem as well with Noble and Rice being their only two serious contenders. This is due to inheriting Jack Wilshere’s injury record rather than his footballing talent, while Carlos Sanchez has proved to be a free transfer that hasn’t worked out.

West Ham need someone to fill the back-up void for Rice, who has played all 21 games in the Premier League this season.

Can Moyes keep West Ham up?

The Hammers have some tough games between now and the end of February, with a six-pointer against Everton at the London Stadium, followed by an away encounter with high-flying Leicester City.

They also face Liverpool twice in the space of just under a month, but between those games, they have a winnable tie against Brighton. On February 9th, they travel to the Etihad Stadium in an unlikely search ofor points before ending the month hosting Southampton. By then, they could be in a real fight if some of these games don’t go their way.

Overall, West Ham should have just enough and could nick some surprising points to see them finish between 11th and 16th. Next season is going to be really important for the Premier League side if they are going to challenge like the fans and owners want them too.

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons by Hasegawa Takashi under licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

London Stadium

Preview: West Ham vs Tottenham (23/11/2019)

José Mourinho’s return to the Premier League starts as his Tottenham Hotspur side face Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham at the London Stadium.

The two are former foes and have faced off a total of 15 times already, with Mourinho being the more successful of the two, winning on eight occasions.

The last time they met was September 2018, when Pellegrini’s Hammers overcame the Portuguese’s Manchester United team 3-1 at home.

The London Stadium faithful are currently missing two of their key players with Lukasz Fabianski (thigh) and Manuel Lanzini (shoulder) unlikely to feature for the hosts.

However, Jack Wilshere, Michail Antonio and Mark Noble could all be match fit to face off against their bitter rivals.

As for Tottenham, Paulo Gazzaniga will have to assume regular duty in goal as both Hugo Lloris (arm) and Michel Vorm (calf) are currently out. Winger Erik Lamela (thigh) is also still yet to return.

There is some good news for Mourinho’s side, though, as both Jan Vertonghen and Tanguy Ndombele have made a full recovery and could feature for the first time under their new boss.

When the two London sides last met, the Hammers won 1-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium courtesy of a winner from Michail Antonio in the 67th minute.

The Hammers have failed to win any of their last seven matches in a streak that started with a 4-0 loss in the Carabao Cup to League One side Oxford United.

Conceding goals has been the issue this season as Pellegrini’s men have shipped two or more seven times this season with their goal difference sitting at -6.

Their Chilean boss knows that form has been an issue: “Of course it was very unexpected because we finished last season very well and we’re playing well this season also. For different reasons we must find why we didn’t continue playing in the same way and winning games. Especially against Palace and Sheffield United at home, there were games we deserved a better result.

“The Premier League this year is very tight – within three points there are eight teams. We must try to recover our performance, and I hope that this will be a good game to try to return to winning our home games.”

Tottenham have been underperforming hence the change in management, with Spurs currently sitting 14th, only six points above Watford in the drop zone. This is due to the London side failing to win in the league since September 28th, when they beat Southampton 2-1.

For Spurs, the Champions League has been a welcome distraction from Premier League football, with their last two wins being a 4-0 and 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade.

The North London side’s mentality has been criticised in recent months, with them either losing or drawing from a winning position in six of their 17 games so far this season.

Mourinho came out backing his players who are in dire need of a win with the Portuguese boss announcing: “The best gift for me is that, I don’t need players, I am happy with the ones I have.

“I just need more time with them. I know them well from playing against them, but you never know them well enough.”

For West Ham, a loss could be disastrous and even though Pellegrini has been given the dreaded vote of confidence, failing to win could end with him out the job as there isn’t many more chances he can be given.

If Tottenham were to lose, it shouldn’t have a major effect with their manager easily being able to say that he’s not had enough time with his squad yet.

London Stadium photo by Dan Dyer via Flickr Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Amex Stadium, Brighton

Preview: Brighton & Hove Albion vs Leicester City (23/11/19)

Leicester travel to the Amex Stadium at the weekend looking to pick up where they left off before the international break and hold onto second spot in the Premier League.

Brighton will also be hoping to continue their steady climb up the Premier League table and secure their fourth consecutive home win.

Brighton team news

Seagulls boss Graham Potter has a defensive dilemma on his hands heading into the weekend, with centre-back Adam Webster out injured and Lewis Dunk serving a one-match ban for picking up five yellow cards.

This might provide a rare opportunity to German-Nigerian defender Leon Balogun, who made just eight league appearances for Brighton last season and has only featured once this term, in the Carabao Cup.

A late fitness test will determine whether rising star Aaron Connolly has shaken off a groin injury in time to feature against the Foxes. Veteran attacker Glenn Murray will be waiting in the wings if the young Irishman doesn’t make it, hoping to end his scoring drought and bag his first league goal of the campaign.

The good news for Potter is that Belgian wideman Leandro Toussard has recovered from an ankle injury and is likely to come back into the matchday squad.

Leicester team news

Key man James Maddison picked up a knock whilst away on international duty with England, but according to Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers, he is expected to recover in time for the Foxes’ trip to the Amex.

Jonny Evans was hospitalised with a bad illness whilst away with Northern Ireland, but Rodgers confirmed that he is also expected to recover and play in this key match in the Premier League.

Manager quotes

Brighton manager Graham Potter: “[Rodgers’] teams play with intelligence and organisation and he’s a top coach and manager.

“Leicester have been in good form recently and Jamie Vardy has been very clinical.

“But he’d be the first to say that it’s as much about the team behind him too that are creating chances for him.”

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers: “We’ve got a tough schedule over the next couple of months and we’ll need the whole squad.

“We need to keep our focus. Football is difficult to forecast. I can only prepare our team, I can only focus on the next game.

“I learned when I was younger when I tried to think about how many points we will get over the next five games, it’s better to just focus on the next game.”

Form

Brighton & Hove Albion (11th): LWLWWL

Leicester City (2nd): LWWWWW

Past meetings

Brighton and Leicester have faced each other 33 times in their history. Leicester winning 14 of them, Brighton coming away the victors 13 times and neither side able to get the better of one another on six occasions.

The Seagulls have failed to overcome Leicester in their last four meetings, though. Goals from Demarai Gray and Jamie Vardy condemned Brighton to a 2-1 defeat the last time these two teams met in February earlier this year at the King Power Stadium.

The last time Brighton managed to defeat Leicester was back in 2014; goals from Stephen Ward and Jesse Lingard plus a Leonardo Ulloa brace condemned the Foxes to a 4-1 defeat when both sides were plying their trade in the Championship.

Amex Stadium image credit by JJ Hall via Flickr Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Granit Xhaka – Arsenal’s master of midfield mediocrity

A collective moan echoes around the Emirates as Granit Xhaka gives away yet another needless foul inside Arsenal’s half. Bournemouth were going nowhere, but the midfielder seems intent to turn nothing into something. A disgruntled fan shouts: ‘You’re brainless Xhaka, utterly brainless’ – it’s hard to disagree.

The Swiss international has borne the brunt of fan frustration in recent years, but manager Unai Emery’s decision to appoint him club captain – following a vote amongst players – has sent many over the edge.

Perhaps nothing better sums up the club’s current plight than Xhaka taking over a role once held by such greats as Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira.

The fact that Emery felt it necessary to ask the players who should be captain in the first place would suggest he was not entirely sure who should be skipper on a permanent basis – a damning indictment of Arsenal’s lack of leadership within their current squad.

On the face of it, Xhaka has everything he needs to make himself a cult hero. He’s a tough, passionate midfielder who’s not scared to put a tackle in and will always stick up for his team-mates. But unfortunately, that only tells half the story.

Flattering to deceive

Arsenal have taken an early lead through David Luiz and look in good shape to move up to third in the table. Bournemouth have yet to enjoy so much as a genuine attempt at goal; surely not even their much-maligned midfielder can’t cost them this time?

Frustratingly, for the hosts that is, he just can’t seem to help himself.

Bournemouth winger Harry Wilson appears to be going nowhere, and the home side have plenty of men back, but Xhaka decides to lunge in on the edge of the centre-circle and bring down the on-loan Liverpool man.

If this was a one-off incident, Arsenal fans would have no problem, but they’ve seen far too many mistakes from the man they signed for £35m back in 2016. Thankfully, for his sake, the resulting free-kick is wasted by the visitors.

As if on cue, just minutes later, the skipper gifts Bournemouth another opportunity, bringing down Dominic Solanke this time with a lazy nudge into the striker. This foul also fails to cost the Gunners, but against better teams the midfielder’s poor challenges could and have cost them vital points.

Just a few games previous, Xhaka gifted Tottenham a penalty in the North London Derby which ultimately ended up costing his side all three points.

And while it may be a rather simplistic way of looking at it, Arsenal would be playing Champions League football right now if it wasn’t for his lazy challenge in the box towards the end of their final home game last season, which saw them drop two points against Brighton which would have put them in the top four.

Justified frustration

Another foul follows just before half-time. The groans that reverberate around the stadium convey a fanbase who have lost all patience with the man they once hoped would solve their midfield issues.

Compared to previous weeks, however, this reaction is tame. Against Aston Villa a few weeks prior, with Arsenal trailing 2-1, their then stand-in skipper was subjected to sarcastic cheering as his name was called to be substituted. Not all fans agreed with this response – one objecting: ‘You can’t boo your own players!’ This generated a rather comical shout of: ‘He’s s***!’ from another.

While that reaction may have been a tad overboard, there is no doubt the frustration from fans towards both the player himself and Emery, who continually picks him, is justified. On that day, fellow midfielders Lucas Torreira and Joe Willock entered the game and, coupled with Matteo Guendouzi, helped inspire the ten men of Arsenal to turn the match on its head and win 3-2.

The truth is that on this day, however, Bournemouth lacked the quality to really expose the hosts struggling centre-mid. While misplaced passes followed in the second half, the away side were unable to pounce on them and Arsenal held on for a much-needed three points.

Midfield conundrums

The question remains though – how do you solve a problem like Granit Xhaka? Since he has now been given the armband and is unjustifiably one of the first names on Emery’s team sheet, it seems unlikely he will be dropped anytime soon.

The decision to make him captain is hard to understand. Yes, it was a decision by the players, but Emery had been selecting him as captain every time he had been on the field since the beginning of the season and several times last campaign. His leadership qualities may not be the worst, but if he’s the best leader in this squad then it’s no wonder the Gunners find themselves in the position they are, a long way off challenging for major honours.

The simple fact is that Arsenal look a much better side without the Swiss international in it. He lacks the pace and skill many of his teammates possess and has made the most errors leading to goals of any outfield player in the Premier League since 2016.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3ILYPWH3yU/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Youngsters such as Willock and Guendouzi have flourished when given opportunities this season. Guendouzi has played so well he’s now virtually undroppable and was named the club’s player of the month for September, reflecting the young Frenchman’s excellent form. Uruguayan Torreira seems less fancied by Emery, but he has shown his quality numerous times since signing for the club last year.

Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal career seems unlikely to take off again under the current manager, but fellow attacking-midielder Dani Ceballos, on a season-long loan from Real Madrid, has had several exceptional performances this season, further complicating Arsenal’s midfield headache.

The amount of youth players brought through by Emery has certainly encouraged fans, but this encouragement is dampened slightly by the continued selection of several players such as Xhaka who have performed well below the levels required should the club wish to achieve anything this season.

Whilst most fans can see that the Gunners look a better team when their midfield consists of three young, energetic players, it seems Emery does not share that viewpoint. The manager makes multiple changes every week, clearly unsure of his best team, but Xhaka remains a constant, only missing for the occasional cup fixture

Perhaps the added responsibly of being named club captain on a permanent basis will bring with it a more sensible attitude on the pitch. Some fans may get taken in by the “pride” he expressed at being named captain, but it is his match performances which fans really care about.

Xhaka seems set to stay in Arsenal’s midfield for some time to come – fans can only hope he begins to show signs of improvement.

Feature image of Granit Xhaka courtesy of thesportreview via Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Are Premier League passions on the wane? Not at Huddersfield

The Premier League has been witness to some of the greatest footballing moments in recent decades years.

Martin Tyler’s Aguero goal-gasm, Cantona’s flying kung-fu kick, and who could forget ‘Collymore closing in’ to seal a 4-3 win for Liverpool over Newcastle in 1996?

Accompanying these moments, hand-in-hand, are the supporters. Grounds such as Anfield and Old Trafford have generated the noise of footballing symphonies over the years with the fans at the forefront. The ever-present 12th man, behind their team ’til the end.

In recent years, however, certain fans have fallen under scrutiny for their lack of noise, most recently United’s from manager Jose Mourinho himself. With the great success that clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have generated, over time it almost feels as though the “12th man” has been fading.

Fan ‘gentrification’ and football tourism at these great English clubs have led to many modern stadia turning into soulless bowls. It feels as though the once electric, deafening atmospheres across the country may actually be seeping away, replaced by increased corporate hospitality and designated ‘singing areas’ (which never used to be needed).

Has the Premier League begun to lose what made it so special in the late 90s?

It certainly may feel that way if you ever have the chance to watch a game at one of its larger grounds. But the heart of everything that’s been so great about English supporters over the years can still be found.

Is there hope for the real football fans?

Recently, I travelled up to Huddersfield for their Premier League clash with fellow relegation strugglers, Crystal Palace. Two teams that have been new to the league over the last five years, both regarded as small clubs but renowned for having some of the best supporters in the country.

A perfect match, therefore, to experience for myself whether English football has truly lost its soul in the stands.

‘Pure respect between the two sets of fans was shown throughout and proved that there is hope for atmospheres around the country’

Entering the John Smith’s Stadium, you are immediately hit by the bone-chilling winds. Positioned by a hillside, the bitterly cold northerlies roll off it and into the ground, almost forcing the fans to start singing in order to warm up.

Positioned right next to the travelling Palace fans were the Huddersfield fanatics. Very similar to the infamous ‘Holmesdale Fanatics’ hard supporters.

Singing from the first minute to the last, with flags flying and drums beating, they really generated a booming atmosphere, which also sparked the renowned away fans into life as well.

The real winners

The 25,000-capacity stadium, despite being hit by a number of heavy snow showers, may well have been a 60,000 seater. The noise from the south stand, where the two sets of fans faced off in a war of words and song was, at times, deafening and you wondered how long such a spectacle could go on for.

One set of fans would start a new chant, to try and gain superiority over the opposition fans, but would instantly be countered with sharp verbal blows and volleys of chants: “Who are ya, who are ya!” It really did feel like a game from abroad, it almost didn’t matter what was happening on the pitch, the fans were not going to shut up.

The Eagles eventually ran out 2-0 winners in what could turn out to be a massive six-pointer come the end of the season. But, whilst the story of the day may have been the result and Palace’s victory, the real winners were definitely the fans.

The supporters, from both sides, went a long way in showing that the eccentric core of English supporters is still alive and as fiery as always. The game had a burning passion on such a freezing afternoon, but at no point did the support feel as though it could turn sour.

Pure respect between the two sets of fans was shown throughout and proved that there is hope for atmospheres around the country.

Huddersfield and Crystal Palace fans proved that it doesn’t matter how big a club you are or the size of your ground or your league position. If you get behind your team no matter what, become the ‘12th man’, do everything you can to back the team you love, then that’s all that matters.

Hughes appointment highlights a tired trend in English game

The recent appointment of Mark Hughes at Southampton outlines a greater problem within English football.

With few options for clubs to turn to mid-season, where are all the young British managers ready to step into the frame?

The Bundesliga has recently seen a shift from the old guard to the new – young managers under the age of 40, sometimes promoted from running youth sides, are being ushered through the door and making their mark in the league.

And as other European nations are still seeing an increases in their numbers of top-qualified coaches, it is now all the more important that both the FA and Premier League clubs begin cultivating a managerial revolution of their own.

Jobs for the old boys

So far, it appears that the only real managerial opportunities offered within the English game are for those who have had expansive playing careers.

Although if you do have those aforementioned playing credentials, it can seemingly be fairly easy to drag yourself out of managerial obscurity.

‘Whether it be Mark Hughes, Roy Hodgson, Alan Pardew or Sam Allardyce, the same merry-go-round of managers appears to be prevailing in the Premier League’

Phil Neville, with a pretty dismal record as a coach, was appointed England Women’s manager this year after reportedly not even applying for the job.

Then soon after came the appointment of his former team-mate, Ryan Giggs, as Wales national team manager. A poor playing record for his country, and a lack of managerial experience, meant that questions were raised.

Only time will tell as to whether their transition to the sidelines is a success or not, but it continues the trend of only employing familiar faces.

Hughes, on the other hand, is in the old guard of familiar Premier League faces. Undoubtedly, the former Man Utd, Barcelona, Chelsea and Saints striker has had varying success over the years and on occasions put together some excellent sides.

But if you considering he guided Stoke into the relegation places before being sacked earlier this season, was he really the best option Southampton had at their disposal?

Whether it be Hughes, Roy Hodgson, Alan Pardew or Sam Allardyce; the same merry-go-round of managers appears to be prevailing in the Premier League, and you feel it is beginning to become stale.

A German coaching renaissance

One young outlier in the Premier League would be Eddie Howe at Bournemouth; who was forced into early retirement due to injury, affording him a quick route into management.

Current Hoffenheim manager, Julian Nagelsman, similarly had his career cut short by injury. This immediately led him into coaching both Augsburg and Hoffenheim’s youth sides from 2008 to 2011.

A rapid rise within the infrastructure at Hoffenheim led him to be appointed assistant in 2012 and eventually manager in 2013, as then boss Huub Stevens suffered with health issues.

Still only 30, Nagelsmann has now reportedly been earmarked as the next Bayern Munich manager after almost guiding Hoffenheim to the Champions League group stage this season for the first time in the club’s history.

Nagelsmann has quickly been earmarked as the future of German Coaching. @achtzehn99en

Nagelsmann is now offering a fresh and exciting face to German football, to go along with coaches such as David Wagner (Huddersfield), Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) and Daniel Farke (Norwich) that have since departed Germany for the shores of England.

The Hoffenheim boss, unlike Howe at Bournemouth, is not the single example of this kind of internal promotion within the Bundesliga.

Domenico Tedesco, 32 (Schalke) and Hannes Wolf, 36 (Stuttgart) have all been similarly gifted the opportunity to coach early on at the highest level – both so far having great success and neither household names in German football.

Norwich City and Huddersfield Town so far have been the only clubs to make this move so far in England – both poaching their current managers from Borussia Dortmund, neither previously having top flight managerial experience.

Though Norwich currently sit in an underwhelming 13th in the Championship, it undoubtedly has been a gamble that has more than paid off for The Terriers.

After getting them promoted to the English top flight last season for the first time in more than 50 years, they currently sit 15th in the Premier League and strong survival prospects.

Whether clubs decide to begin promoting coaches internally in the Premier League remains to be seen. But with many experienced Premier League coaches staring down relegation this season, it may soon be the key to injecting fresh ideas into the first team.

Disparity in numbers

At a grass roots level, the coaching statistics suggest a lack of young coaches coming through – Matt Scott reported in the Guardian in 2010 that there were only 2,769 UEFA A, B and Pro Licence English coaches.

‘In Germany, it costs just £800 to take your UEFA A licence badge, whereas in England the same badge would set you back £2,965’

Spain on the other hand had 23,995, Italy 29,420 and Germany 34,790 top qualified coaches. After an official report was published back in 2007 that said coaching was the ‘golden thread’ to international success, it seems odd that English football still is yet to fully tackle this issue 11 years on.

The crux of the problem has always appeared to be funding – reported in 2016 that it still could set you back £4,000 in England and £5,000 in Scotland to gain all the badges required for an UEFA A licence – their seems to be little progress in terms of accessibility.

Just one example of the large disparity in pricing is in Germany; where it costs just £800 to take your UEFA A licence badge, whereas in England the same badge would set you back an extortionate £2,965.

It seems no surprise then that young coaches may be deterred from this career path, given that its a self-funded venture.

So far the FA has only reshaped the Level 1 and 2 badges to incorporate ‘fun’ back into it; along with releasing half of their coaching tutors after an internal review.

All these reactions however seem to be somewhat missing the point – young people who aspire to be coaches are not simply bored by the courses or are badly tutored – it’s the fact those in power have made these qualifications un-achievable to a large proportion of the population.

With all the money now in the English game, the thought of an in-accessible system to learn your coaching stripes should be ludicrous in this country. Yet, in 2018 it sadly is the reality.

As the revolving door of ex-player-turned-manager continues to spin and the FA continue to make no real effort to aid young coaches, British football is at risk of stagnating.

Seema Jaswal: from TV runner to Premier League presenter

Meet Seema Jaswal, a multi-talented British TV anchor and presenter. She is a representative for the Premier League post-match reviews, Fantasy Premier League shows and Premier League Fan Zone show on Sky Sports.

The sports industry has always been seen as a ‘man’s world’ and many women have had discouraging experiences.

But Seema has become one of the first Asian women presenters to represent the Premier League and reaches 750 million viewers globally. Her experience has been nothing but positive in every field.

Jaswal, who is extremely popular on social media, says her favourite hashtag is #lovemyjob, “because I genuinely do!”

No negativity

Her success in the industry is a huge inspiration to a lot of females. She truly believes that everyone should do what they love, despite any blocks that may come your way.

“I am fortunate to have been in the industry at a time when things have changed so much for women in sport. especially in the UK,” she says.

“I have never faced any negativity about being female and have always worked with professionals that appreciate the work I do based on merit.

Jaswal wanted to get a job in research or marketing after graduating from university. However, as she started applying for jobs she soon realised that her career needed to be both fulfilling and something she enjoyed.

She has always had a passion for tennis, and at one point she was determined to become a tennis coach. But she decided to keep that as a hobby and soon after she applied for a job at Sky Sports and started off her career as a runner.

Seema Jaswal

“Being a runner is an interesting job as the role varies from day to day. Occasionally you’re thrown into the deep end and asked to help out with shows, which opened my eyes to the possibility of presenting,” says Jaswal.

Her family have a Ugandan Asian background. Even today, girls with an Asian background can struggle to follow a path into the sports industry.

They are forced into careers which are more socially acceptable in their traditional society.

It is uncommon for a young Asian girl to be supported by her entire family, as Seema was, in pursuing a career in sports presenting.

Families look at the sports industry as very male dominated and panic when their daughters choose that path.

It is comforting for young girls to look up to role models like Seema Jaswal and aspire to be as successful.

Moving to India

After years of being a runner, Jaswal finally felt confident and ready to embrace any new opportunities that came her way.

She started off presenting CBBC’s Sports Round, a show that involved trying out lots of different sports on a weekly basis.

Jaswal was also the presenter on The Wright Stuff before relocating to India for 18 months to become the face of Indian football for Star Sports.

Soon after she moved to India she was offered an opportunity to work for the Premier League, which is when she decided to move back to London.

Seema Jaswal at the FIFA U-17 World Cup

The live events presenter was thrilled with an opportunity to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

It was her most recent and successful venture and it filled her with excitement, turning out to be one of her biggest achievements. It was great days for England as they went on to win the trophy.

“I really enjoyed seeing the tournament through from start to finish and it was an honour to host India’s first ever FIFA event with the likes of David Moyes, Stuart Pearce and Luis Garcia to name a few,” says Jaswal.

Role model

Many people seem to think women are treated worse than men and have no chance of growing within the sports industry. Seema, who has always been appreciated for her work based on merit is a prime example that the industry is very open towards everyone. The effort you put in is always rewarded in any field, irrespective of gender.

A lot of different countries treat women differently in the sporting world. However the UK has always been one of the more accepting and encouraging countries for women to pursue a career.

Jaswal covers two very different football leagues in The Premier League and the Indian Super League. The Premier league is an established league that is 26 years old with 20 teams competing in it and the ISL is a newly established league in its early stages of development.

The Premier League showcases some of the world’s greatest talents and the most exciting aspect in that any team can beat another on their day regardless of where they sit in the league table.

Jaswal has come very far in the industry. She has worked in many fields and she is destined for a big future within the industry. Being a female with an Asian background she is a huge role model to a lot of young girls.

Palace and Everton stalemate suits neither team

A rainy afternoon in South London was the setting for a lively 2-2 draw between Crystal Palace and Everton as both sides fought for a victory they desperately needed.

With both hosts and visitors in trouble at the wrong end of the Premier League, a single point suited neither, but defeat would have been unthinkable.

The game began horrendously for Toffees caretaker boss David Unsworth as the hosts were ahead within a minute at Selhurst Park. Palace’s first attack of the game was finished off by James McArthur, who found the net after Ruben Loftus-Cheek had forced Jordan Pickford into an early save.

However, that lead was short-lived as the Evertonians fought back to level matters soon after. Eagles defender Scott Dann fouled Oumar Niasse in the penalty area, and Leighton Baines made no mistake from the spot.

There was a real question mark over whether Niasse was touched at all in this one – and that doubt led to an FA charge for ‘simulation’ in the days following the game.

Wilfried Zaha then put the Eagles back in the driving seat, as he was brilliantly picked out by a cross from Joel Ward, allowing him to roll the ball into an empty net at the far post on 35 minutes.

Calamitous

What then followed was a calamitous piece of Palace defending as Everton were handed their second gift of the day, thanks again Dann and goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

‘Referee Andrew Taylor was booed and jeered off the pitch by the home support after the game, the Palace faithful laying the blame for the dropped points on his shoulders’

The pair nervously exchanged passes before Idrissa Gueye stepped in to intercept, and Niasse took the opportunity with great aplomb, rolling home to put his team back on level terms on the stroke of half time.

There was far less goalmouth action in the second half but it was not for want of trying. Palace dominated throughout but ultimately were not being able to find the key to unlock the Everton door. In fact for all of their possession and attacking intent a key element of the forward line did seem to be missing all day.

A certain Belgian sitting on the bench looked on longingly, and in fact there were a few deliveries again from Ward in the second half that might well have been more of a problem for Pickford if Christian Benteke had been on the pitch.

In the second half, both defences were tightened up and even the eventual late introduction of Benteke, left out of the starting line-up, could not deliver a winner.

Referee Andrew Taylor was booed and jeered off the pitch by the home support after the game, the Palace faithful laying the blame for the dropped points on his shoulders as the full-time whistle blew.

Hodgson irritated

Sitting down for just three minutes to chat to the media, Palace boss Roy Hodgson was irritated by his side’s inability to turn possession into victory.

‘We can discuss it till the cows come home, but the referee gave it as a penalty they took it and they scored it’ – Roy Hodgson

“If you look at the performance over 95 minutes, I believe we played well enough to win the game,” he claimed.

In combative mood, the ex-England manager was then asked whether it was time to turn these dropped points into wins. “Yeah, well how do you do that?” he shot back at his inquisitor, staring into his soul.

When it was suggested it was his job to galvanise his team, Hodgson then asked pointedly: “So what do I actually do then?”

On the issue of the penalty, he said: “I’m pretty certain you’ve asked Dave Unsworth the same question and he’s said it was a foul, and now you’ll ask me and I’ll say it wasn’t.

“We can discuss it till the cows come home, but the referee gave it as a penalty they took it and they scored it.”

When the press conference cameras were switched off, Hodgson turned to journalists and began a small rant, visibly irritated by the way the game had gone.

In fairness to him, many would agree that Loftus-Cheek and Zaha have breathed fresh life into his side.

Unsworth praises team

Everton’s heroics in coming from behind to beat Watford may feel a distant memory, but Unsworth’s credentials as a potential Everton manager may well be enhanced after recent weeks.

A lot of Blues fans will argue that Ronald Koeman failed to get any kind of response during the final weeks of his tenure. At least the team are playing for Unsworth.

He could yet remain in the role, given Everton’s unsuccessful tug-of-war with Watford over Marco Silva.

After the game Unsworth was in fairly good spirits. “They’ve been terrific since the first training session that we came together, up until today’s game. They’ve given me everything and I can tell the Everton fans have given me everything as well.”

Then on the penalty and with the smell of an FA charge in the air, Unsworth understandably took the “I haven’t seen it since and couldn’t see it from where I was sitting” approach.

Only time will tell whether his efforts thus far will be enough for majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright to give him the job on a permanent basis, but the former player continues to stake a claim.

The FA Cup’s Top 5 ‘Cupsets’

cupset

n. (context sports British slang English) An upset in a cup competition.

After the heroics of Lincoln City and Millwall in this season’s Emirates FA Cup, Elephant Sport delves through the archives, and looks back at our top 5 cupsets of all time.

5: Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United – FA Cup 3rd Round – 8/1/1984

Division Three strugglers knock out holders

Third division strugglers Bournemouth, managed by fledgling boss Harry Redknapp, upset the odds as they dumped cup holders Man Utd out of the competition.

The Reds, then managed by Ron Atkinson, were rocked by goals from Milton Graham and Ian Thompson as their star studded line-up, including the likes of Arnold Muhren, Arthur Albiston and England Captain Bryan Robson, were dismantled by the Cherries.

Trouble ensued on the terraces, but Bournemouth held on to record one of the biggest FA Cup upset’s of all time, on a day billed by Harry Redknapp as “The best of my life”.

4: Leicester City 1-2 Wycombe Wanderers – FA Cup 6th Round – 10/3/2001

The tale of the Teletext striker

Record fees, big wages, cheesy medical photos and managers hanging their heads out of cars. Those are some of the answer’s you expect to receive if you were to ask the regular football fan about the transfer window.

But take a trip back in time to 2001 and things were a little different for Wycombe Wanderers. With an injury list including SIX strikers , Wycombe manager and Cup hero Lawrie Sanchez turned to Teletext to fill the breach left by his depleted forward line.

The solo reply to his message came from Roy Essandoh, a forward who’s career had taken him to Scotland and Finland, via Austria. His impact as a second half substitute would send him into FA Cup folklore and the Chairboy’s into the semi-finals.

In an action-packed game at Filbert Street, Wycombe took the lead through a Paul McCarthy strike, and whilst Muzzy Izzet equalised for the hosts, Essandoh won it for the Chairboys.

Wycombe would go on to be knocked out in the semi-finals by Liverpool, with Emile Heskey and Robbie Fowler cancelling out Keith Ryan’s opener.

On a sadder note, the world of football lost McCarthy this week aged 45 with tributes pouring in for the former Wycombe and Brighton and Hove Albion defender.

YouTube Preview Image

(Video Courtesy of FA TV)

3: Lincoln City vs Burnley – FA Cup 5th Round – 18/2/2017

Non League underdogs shock Premier League opponents

Lincoln City were history-makers as they broke a record dating back to 1914 by defeating Sean Dyche’s Premier League outfit.

The Imps, managed by brothers Danny and Nicky Cowley, struck in the 89th minute through a towering Sean Raggett header to take the non-leaguers through to the 6th round of this season’s Cup, a feat that had last been achieved by non-league QPR in 103 years ago.

But the Imp’s FA Cup story didn’t start in the 5th round, as they successfully negotiated their way through rounds 3 and 4 leaving Ipswich Town and Brighton & Hove Albion in their wake.

A champagne tie at the Emirates Stadium awaits them this weekend, which will no doubt boost the finances of a club that has seemingly steered itself out of troubled waters.

YouTube Preview Image

(Video courtesy of FATV)

2: Liverpool 1-2 Barnsley – FA Cup 5th Round – 16/2/2008

Lets talk about facts

Barnsley, then managed by Simon Davey, head to Anfield languishing in the lower echelons of the Championship. The 90 minutes of football that ensued would be remembered by football fans across the nation.

Already under pressure following his failure to deliver silverware at Anfield, Rafa Benitez fielded a line-up that featured international pedigree including Xabi Alonso, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel, Sami Hyypia and John-Arne Riise.

However the tricky Tykes were not star-struck as they levelled the game through Stephen Foster following Kuyt’s opener.

A string of saves from former Manchester United goalkeeper Luke Steele kept Barnsley in the tie, with Brian Howard winning it in the final minute to send them into Round 6.

Whilst Liverpool’s Cup campaign faltered, the Tykes then took another Premier League scalp in the form of Chelsea.

Kayode Odejayi netted the winner to dump the holders out of the cup that day, and send the Tykes to Wembley for a semi-final showdown with eventual runners-up Cardiff City.

A year later, Davey was sacked, and following spells with non-league Darlington and Hereford, has never managed professionally since.

YouTube Preview Image

(Video courtesy of BBC/Barnsley FC)

1: Sunderland 1-0 Leeds United – FA Cup Final – 5/5/1973

“There is no way that Sunderland can beat Leeds”- Brian Clough

The big-spending Leeds United of the 1970s were simply a football machine, featuring some of the country’s finest footballing talent in their ranks.

They took on lowly Second Division Sunderland, managed by the charismatic Bob Stokoe, at Wembley and what followed would be widely classed as the greatest FA Cup shock of all time, and produced Sunderland’s solitary piece of post-war silverware.

The tie would be decided by two moments of brilliance, buoyed by Leeds’ instability. Sunderland took the lead through Ian Porterfield who slammed the ball past David Harvey in the Leeds goal.

A Leeds onslaught followed, with Sunderland keeper Jimmy Montgomery pulling off a string of fine saves, including one from Leeds maverick Peter Lorimer, to keep the Mackems in the game.

Sunderland held on to take the Cup and in turn send ‘Dirty Leeds’ back to Yorkshire without the trophy that they had clinched the season before against Arsenal.

It was a result that sent shockwaves through the footballing world.