Napoli win the Scudetto

Napoli team celebrate winning the scudetto.

A resilient Napoli had to fight tooth and nail to claim the elusive Scudetto they last tasted when Diego Maradona was still playing for the club 33 years ago. The line-up announcer, Daniele Bellini, nicknamed ‘the Decibel,’ was only six years old when he last experienced the feeling of winning the Serie A title. He had to grow up, attend hundreds of matches, secure a job as a line-up announcer, and work for several years before finally tasting the trophy again. While reading Napoli’s line-up, he broke down when he realized how close they were to win the trophy. Napoli’s journey towards winning their 12th Scudetto screams one word; patience. 

The Coveted but elusive piece of silverware

For the past eight seasons, Napoli had only been seeing the Promised Land from a short distance. Finishing 2nd on four occasions is enough proof that Napoli has been a force to reckon with in Serie A. The trophy was elusive even when the Uruguayan beast, Edinson Cavani, banged goals for the club during his prime years. Even a front three of the speedy Dries Mertens, the dribbling Jose Callejon, and the exciting left-footed Lorenzo Insigne could only manage a second-spot finish. Kalidou Koulibaly came to be considered one of the best defenders in the world while at Napoli, but the Senegalese wall had to depart from the club before tasting the Serie A.

The comeback

Juventus have been the most dominant Serie A side in the past decade and took the biggest share of the Scudetto. Inter Milan and AC Milan have also struggled to make a comeback to the scene by winning a scudetto each. Napoli has decided to make the league even more interesting by taking a different approach. Finally, this has paid off, with the coveted silverware returning to Naples. History has been made at the club, with the names of these heroes set to be engraved in the hearts of the Napoli fans for centuries to come.

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Spalletti does it where the Greats failed.

Napoli fans celebrate following their historical win of the Scudetto.
Napoli fans celebrate following their historical win of the Scudetto. Photo Credits: Napoli Official

When Luciano Spalletti took over the squad from Genaro Gattuso on the 1st of July 2021, few would have guessed that he would be the man to break the jinx and bring the title back to the football-loving community of Naples. The community had been craving this piece of silverware and had to always hold on to the Diego Maradona era for solace while their rivals were fighting for the titles. Respected European football managers like Mazzarri, Benitez, Sarri, and Ancelotti had all tried but unfortunately failed to live up to the dream. Like a code that is hard to crack, Napoli winning the Serie A proved to be an uphill task.

A new look Napoli; the key arrivals and departures

Spalletti took in the challenge with several star players having left and more still joining other clubs. Some key departures included Koulibaly, Fabian Ruiz, Arkadiusz Milik, Ounas, Ospina, Mertens, and former captain Lorenzo Insigne. This was a breed of exciting players who only managed a 2nd place finish. The arrivals included little-known players like Victor Osimhen, Kim Min Jae, Zambo Anguissa, Khvicha Khvaratskhelia, and Raspadori. Spalletti has made the players rise from grace to the top of the world by offering performances that have seen them rated among the top 5 best European clubs this season.

Kim-Min-Jae, nicknamed ‘the Monster’ celebrates alongside Napoli fans following them winning the Scudetto. The player has been a wall at the back for the Scudetto winners. Photo Credits: Napoli Official

How brilliant individual performances helped Napoli win the Scudetto

Individually some key player performances have stood out this season. These players have been more outstanding than the others and have posted beautiful statistics. Kim Min Jae has won the most number of duels in the league. With goalkeeper Meret also playing his role, they have amassed 16 Serie A clean sheets. Midfielder Zielinski has contributed massively to the goals by scoring three and assisting seven. Forward Khvicha, from the little-known Dinamo Batumi, has scored ten goals and assisted 12 in an impressive campaign. Nigerian attacker Victor Osimhen has also shown prowess and scored 22 goals for the club while leading the Serie A golden boot race. 

All these performances have contributed to a satisfying season for Napoli, who aim to go for the Champions League next season. The Naples will buzz with energy as they now believe again that they can make themselves the footballing powerhouse they once were. Naples is breathing fine football, and rightfully so.

Ten Hag Is Banking on this Player for the FA Cup Finals

Ten Haag celebrating a past win for United. The Holland national will be looking forward to beat Manchester City to the FA Cup

Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag will be banking on Raphael Varane to help his defence when they take on Manchester City in a crunch FA Cup tie in a month. The 3rd of May has been set aside as the D-day for two Manchester giants to battle it out for England’s oldest and arguably their most prestigious domestic cup. 

Manchester City qualified for the finals after dismantling Sheffield United by three goals to nil (3:0) in the semi-finals. On the other hand, Manchester United had to win the penalty shootout against Brighton and Hove Albion to qualify for their second domestic finals this season. The defensive pairing of Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw had to be utilised during the game. Both first-choice defenders, Varane and Lisandro Martinez were out injured.

Raphael Varane celebrating Manchester United’s past win against Manchester City in the Premier League. Manchester United won 2:1 in the game. The two will face each other in the FA Cup finals. Photo Credits: Manchester United

An injured Manchester United back line: Raphael Varane and co.

Raphael Varane got injured in the Europa League first-leg clash with Sevilla and was pulled out at halftime with United leading by two goals. Harry Maguire stepped in but had an error-filled game culminating in an unfortunate goal. In the second leg, Harry Maguire was again on the receiving end, making a mistake that gifted Sevilla a goal. United lost the game, with Maguire failing to fill in the shoes of the absent French national.

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The seemingly impenetrable pairing of Shaw and Lindelof

Lindelof and an improvised Luke Shaw have been impressive in the centre-back position keeping two clean sheets in three games. However, Erik Ten Hag knows how lethal the Manchester City attack is and will need Varane back for the game. The World cup winning defender was present when the Red Devils beat Manchester City 2-1 at Old Trafford. He played a crucial role in taming Erling Haaland, who did not manage a single shot on target for the entire game.

Cityzen’s great run of form

Currently, Manchester City are in good form and it will need a confident Manchester United to stop their ambition of completing a domestic treble with the premier league in their sights. With Lisandro Martinez set to be sidelined for the remainder of the season, Varane will be needed at the club. He is being treated and assessed by the physios at the Carrington to see how soon he might return to the squad.

Could this be the year Messi leads Argentina to world glory?

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has named his 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. As expected, the eyes of the world will be on their captain Lionel Messi. At 35 years old, this is likely his last chance to add the glitter of the World Cup to his impressive individual and team honors. Now at his fifth world cup, Messi enjoys the company of a team that is a hot favorite for the title. The favorite tag is backed by an impressive 35-game unbeaten streak from 2019 and polished up by a Copa America triumph in 2021. But it has not been easy sailing for the Albiceleste.

The team reached four Copa America finals between 2004 and 2016 and the World Cup final in 2014 and lost all of them. Messi has endured much criticism for his inability to lead Argentina to the trophy. Like his predecessor Maradona, high expectations lie on this footballing spectacle to lift this most coveted trophy. The 2021 Copa triumph was a welcome relief but many believe he can do one better and clinch world glory. Seen by many as the best football player in history, winning the world cup will open doors to the Pantheon of football gods.

Soccer Football – International Friendly – Argentina Training – Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – November 14, 2022 Argentina’s Lionel Messi during training REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

Messi has been in red-hot form for PSG season racking up 28 goal contributions in 19 games. Surely, this is the time for Messi and Argentina, if not now, when? He’s already stated in numerous interviews that this will be his last World Cup. One last dance for the best player to ever paint this great gallery of the game, to go on and put a stamp on his venerable title, GOAT.


Giovani lo Celso is the notable omission from the squad. The midfielder has been integral in the Argentina cog and misses out due to a hamstring injury. Lo Celso and Rodrigo De Paul have formed a successful double pivot for Argentina in midfield making his absence disruptive to how Argentina sets up.

Scaloni had no place for Atletico Madrid Angel correa and Manchester United’s rising star, Alejandro Garnacho. Argentina’s plethora of attackers has squeezed out Correa from a spot in Qatar and the Atleti man, now 27, will be disappointed after missing out in 2018.  Napoli’s Giovanne Simeone is enjoying a stellar season but unfortunately misses out on the squad.

Argentina’s line-up options

The big names are included in the list although Roma’s Paulo Dybala and Juventus’ Angel Di Maria have injury concerns. Di maria is integral to the team given the versatility, experience, and width he offers on the left flank. Inter’s Lautaro Martinez is expected to fill up the No. 9 spot with La Pulga occupying the right-wing of attack. Martinez offers a great link-up play and is deadly in front of goal. Messi has a free role and frequently drifts inwards leaving the right back to provide width.

In midfield, Lo Celso’s absence means Rodrigo de Paul will settle for either Enzo Fernandez or Alexis Mac Allister as a partner in the double pivot. Leandro Paredes, on loan at Juventus from PSG, will be a mainstay in the midfield.  The center-back pairing of Nicholas Otamendi and Christian Romero will be Scaloni’s go-to option. However, Manchester United’s Lautaro Martinez has been faultless this season and could stake his claim to one of the spots.

Finally safe in goal

Argentina has struggled in goal often relying on unconvincing performers. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their calamitous 2018 world cup with Willy Caballero pulling off a few howlers. However, Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez has risen from obscurity to provide a safe pair of hands for the Albiceleste, especially in their Copa America triumph of 2021.

Potential formation and setup

Argentina is built around Messi. He provides the beginning, link-ups, and often the final touch of many attacks. This time he is surrounded by a well-oiled machine that presses high and places demands of quality and athleticism on the players. Scaloni prefers a 4-3-3 which will likely feature Martinez; Molina, Otamendi, Romero, Tagliafico; Paredes, De Paul, Rodriguez; Di Maria, Messi, and Martinez.

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Full 26-man squad

Goalkeepers: Emi Martinez (Aston Villa), Franco Armani (River Plate), Geronimo Rulli (Villarreal).

Defenders: Marcos Acuna (Sevilla), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Nicolas Tagliafico (Lyon), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), German Pezzella (Real Betis).

Midfielders: Angel Di Maria (Juventus), Leandro Paredes (Juventus), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton), Enzo Fernandez (Benfica), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis).

Forwards: Julian Alvarez (Manchester City), Joaquin Correa (Inter Milan), Paulo Dybala (Roma), Angel Di Maria (Juventus), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)

Southgate unveils team to represent England in Qatar

England manager Gareth Southgate has released the much-awaited 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Given the popularity and media scrutiny football enjoys in the UK, pressure on The Three Lions is immense. England have not won a major tournament since their World Cup of 1966 but recent positives such as fourth place finish at the 2018 World Cup and a second-place finish in Euro 2020 have raised cautious optimism. As with many squads, players who missed out make the biggest headlines.

Notable absentees

Perhaps the headline absentee is Jadon Sancho. With lackluster displays for the Red Devils, he has subsequently failed to convince Southgate why he deserves a place in the squad for Qatar. Fikayo Tomori also failed to make the cut despite stellar performances with AC Milan since he made his move from Chelsea. Many have questioned why Tomori did not make the squad despite playing regularly. Harry Maguire, who endured a torrid time with The Three Lions in the UEFA Nations League has been on the bench for Manchester United for much of the season. His inclusion and the exclusion of Tomori have raised concerns of bias and misjudgment by Southgate.  Other absentees include Marc Guehi, James Ward-Prowse.

Notable absentees due to injury include Reece James, Ben Chilwell, and Emile Smith-Rowe. The pair of Chelsea fullbacks will be dearly missed given their great performances last season for the Blues.

Following the hamstring injury he sustained against Dinamo Zagreb, Ben Chilwell will miss the World Cup.
Following the hamstring injury he sustained against Dinamo Zagreb, Ben Chilwell will miss the World Cup. Image: Rex

New faces

James Maddison highlights the most notable inclusion in the squad. The Leicester midfielder last made an appearance for England in 2019 but his scintillating form this season has earned him a call-up. It is hoped he could add a dimension of creativity to the England midfield which was lacking in their disastrous UEFA Nations league campaign.

Callum Wilson has also had a decent start to the 2022-2023 season with Newcastle. The Magpie’s frontman has netted six times and Southgate is convinced he could partner or cover for Harry Kane alongside Marcus Rashford. Wilson’s inclusion has been at the expense of the likes of Tammy Abraham and Ivan Toney. Abraham has found the going tough this season at Roma while Toney is loving life at Brantford. It would be a lingering question for long as to why Toney missed out given his outstanding displays this campaign.

Manchester City players Kyle Walker and Kalvin Philips are also included despite injury concerns. Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, and Conor Gallagher offer the team a blend of youth alongside the likes of Kalvin Philips.

How will England line up?

Southgate still has the difficult task of picking a starting XI. With a 3-4-3 formation, he could choose Pickford, Walker, Maguire, Stones, Trent, Bellingham, Rice, Trippier, Sterling, Kane, and Grealish.

An alternative would be 4-2-3-1 with Pickford, Walker, Maguire, Stones, Trippier, Bellingham, Rice, Saka, Mount, Sterling, and Kane.  With several wise forwards available, Southgate has the added task of setting up a competitive and effective team if they are to go all the way.

The England squad is not short of talent. Further, the squad has a combined 820 caps, the second highest for a Three Lions squad. England is one of the favorites and maybe this is the time that football finally comes home.

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26-man England squad

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

Defenders: Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Eric Dier (Tottenham), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Conor Coady (Everton), Ben White (Arsenal), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City)

Forwards: James Maddison (Leicester), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Callum Wilson (Newcastle), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

Cristiano Ronaldo to Chelsea?

Thomas previously praising Ron

Is Cristiano Ronaldo bound to join Chelsea? To the shock of the football fanbase, especially Manchester United fans, Chelsea are interested in signing Cristiano Ronaldo. Other clubs that are interested in the five-time Ballon d`Or winner include Napoli and PSG. 

Not for sale

Initially Manchester United had profiled Cristiano Ronaldo as a not-for-sale player. However, with the arrival of Eric Ten Haag at Old Trafford has triggered more interest from other clubs. Ten Haag supposedly said that Cristiano is not part of his  plans at Manchester United. This was prior to him officially joining Manchester United as the head coach.

Since the change in ownership of Chelsea, the club has been knocking door in almost every club. The Blues have already shown interest even to the point of making offers for various players. These include, Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Nathan Ake (Manchester City), and Raphinha. Some of these deals have pulled through or are in advanced stages whereas some are at a threat of being hijacked by clubs such as Barcelona (Raphinha).

The guys at Stamford Bridge have made contact with Jorge Mendes, Christiano’s agent, with intention to purchase him from Manchester United. 

Play in UEFA Europa Tournament

The Red Devils’ failed to qualify for the Champions League last season. This was despite their top-4 predicted finish by most pundits. The squad was good on paper, but something was amiss. Imagine the quality of a squad with the likes of Varane and the England national team captain. It is rumored that the Portuguese striker knows nothing about the UEFA Europa Tournament theme song. Manchester United are keen to introduce him to this side of the world, regardless. In the 2021/22 Premier League season, Man U finished with their lowest-ever Premier League point total, earning just 58 from their 38 games.

Cristiano Ronaldo posing in Manchester United's jersey. WIll he play for the Red Devils 22/23 EPL season or will he move to Chelsea?
Cristiano Ronaldo posing in Manchester United’s jersey. WIll he play for the Red Devils 22/23 EPL season or will he move to Chelsea? Photo Credit: Manchester United

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Despite his notable performance in all competitions last season (28 goals) for the Red Devils, Christiano Ronaldo’s workrate is reducing but remains quite remarkable for a 38-year old. This might restrict Ten Haag’s plan for the United squad considering his playing style. The chances that Manchester United will sell him are not nil, but are all the more  appear to be increasing over the days as transfer progresses. Manchester United have traveled for their pre-season tour without Christiano Ronaldo. Is this the sign?

A growing Possibility of Ronaldo to Chelsea

A bid from the Blues is imminent, according to reports from Graeme Bailey and Scott Saunders. Despite the Portuguese’s fair transfer fee, Todd Boehly, Chelsea’s new co-owner, will need to budget for the player’s 400k-a-week salary. At the moment it’s not certain that Ronaldo is leaving Chelsea. However, it is certain that there will be a large outcry from Manchester United fans if Christiano Ronaldo completes his transfer to Chelsea. 

UEFA Euros 2020 kicks off.

The UEFA Euros 2020 kicks off today. Although the Euros was scheduled to occur last year, it was delayed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The football calendar was hugely disrupted after most domestic leagues were either canceled or suspended and then resumed months later. As a result, the 2020 edition of the European football tournament was rescheduled to June 2021. Turkey and Italy face off in Rome tonight to get the tournament underway. The Euros 2020 is set to occur between today, June 11, 2021, and run through to July 11, 2021. The twenty-four teams that qualified are going to play 51 matches in 11 European cities. The semi-finals and finals will be played at Wembley Stadium.

UEFA Euro 2020 banner.
UEFA Euro 2020 banner.

UEFA Euros 2020 kicks off. The breakdown of the groups.

Group A is made up of Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, and Wales. Group B sees 2016 semi-finalists Belgium alongside Russia, Denmark, and Finland. Ukraine, Netherlands, Austria, and North Macedonia make up Group C. Group D feature England, Croatia, Czech Republic, and Scotland. The winners of Euro 2012, Spain, join Poland, Sweden, and Slovakia in group E. Finally, Euro 2016 winners Portugal are grouped alongside France, Germany and Hungary in Group F.

UEFA Euros 2020 groups.

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The UEFA Euros 2020 venues.

The UEFA Euros 2020 kicks off today at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome, with Turkey facing Italy. The other matches take place across ten cities in the following stadiums:

  • Olympic Stadium, Baku
  • St Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg
  • Parken Stadium, Copenhagen
  • Johan Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam
  • Wembley Stadium, London
  • National Arena, Bucharest
  • Hampden Park, Glasgow
  • Estadio La Cartuja, Seville
  • Fußball Arena Munchen, Munich
  • Puskas Arena, Budapest

The semi-finals and the final take place at the Wembley Stadium, London.

Fans are allowed to attend live matches after each of the 11 venues received clearance. Saint Petersburg and Baku are allowed up to 50 capacity while Budapest can be filled. Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Rome, and Seville can host between 25 to 45 percent. London is set to a minimum capacity of 25 percent. Finally, Munich can fill around 22 percent of the stadium capacity.

Barcelona favorites to sign Aguero. Is the club becoming a retirement home?

Barcelona has emerged as favorites to sign Sergio Kun Aguero. The Argentinian striker’s contract with Manchester City expires at the end of June 2021. Faced with the prospect of getting little playtime in the newly crowned Premier League champions next season, Aguero has decided to part ways with the club. Indeed, the citizens’ record goalscorer, who has garnered 258 goals in 387 appearances, only mastered 18 outings this season, scoring four goals.

Sergio Aguero, City's record goalscorer, set to leave the club. (Image: Getty Images)
Sergio Aguero, City’s record goalscorer, set to leave the club. (Image: Getty Images)

With Aguero being 33 years old when the next season commences after the European tournament, is Barcelona turning into a retirement home? Sure, if Aguero can avoid injuries, he is still one of the best strikers in the world and would improve the Catalan club’s team. However, the question of the average age of the Barcelona squad comes into play. While at first glance, the club boasts of their youngest roster in 7 seasons, averaging just 25.5 years, most of their first team players and the backbone of the team are aging.

Aguero could reunite with Argentinian team mate Messi at Barcelona. Image: (Jaime Reina /AFP via Getty Images)
Aguero could reunite with Argentinian team mate Messi at Barcelona. Image: (Jaime Reina /AFP via Getty Images)

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Barcelona favorites to sign Aguero. A veteran joining an aging squad.

Barcelona certainly has a bright future ahead. They have many talented young players with great potentials. Half of their 24-man squad in La Liga this season is aged 25 or below. This list includes Lenglet (25), Junior Firpo (24), De Jong (23), Dembélé (23), Aleñá (22), Matheus Fernandes (22), Araujo (21), Riqui Puig (21), Trincao (20), Dest (20), Ansu Fati (18) and Pedri (17). However, they are pretty inexperienced and can’t be relied upon over a season. The backbone of the team is either 30+ or approaching that number. They are Umtiti (26), Coutinho (28), Ter Stegen (28), Sergi Roberto (28), Braithwaite (29), Griezmann (29), Pjanic (30), Neto (31), Jordi Alba (31), Sergio Busquets (32), Leo Messi (33) and Piqué (33).

Barcelona's squad a mix of inexperienced youngsters and aging veterans. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Barcelona’s squad a mix of inexperienced youngsters and aging veterans. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

While there are a few players in the world who don’t seem to be held back by age, that is usually an exception. Most players struggle with injuries and fitness after hitting 30, especially if they got into the first team as teenagers. As such, Barcelona emerging favorites to sign Aguero doesn’t reflect well from a squad building point of view.

WHO updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thomas Tuchel: An incredible start at Chelsea.

Thomas Tuchel took the helm of Chelsea Football Club on 26th January 2021, succeeding Frank Lampard after a poor spell of results. Tuchel is the first German to take charge of the London club. He signed an 18-month contract with the possibility of an extension.

Thomas Tuchel unveiled as Chelsea Manager. (Image: Getty Images)

However, he hit the ground running and ingrained his football philosophy into the Chelsea team within the first few games. He holds the record for the longest unbeaten start in the club’s history, after avoiding defeat in 14 matches. Furthermore, Chelsea have kept 11 clean sheets in that run. This comes after only two goals against them through Antonio Rudiger’s own goal and a brilliant effort from Southampton’s Takumi Minamino.

Tuchel in training with Chelsea. (Image: Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel wins the Barclays Manager of the Month award for March.

After just his second month in charge of the blues, Thomas Tuchel is the Barclays Manager of the Month. He becomes the second German to win the award after Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp. Tuchel has guided Chelsea to victories against Liverpool, Everton and Leeds United in March.

Tuchel with the Barclays Manager of the Month award.

I am really happy to have received this award, and I believe it is a great achievement for everybody at the club who is involved in putting the team together to play each week. The award would not be possible if it weren’t for the hard work of all my coaching staff and the wider support team who all push the team in the same direction, to achieve success.

Thomas Tuchel.

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Not a honeymoon phase.

While many people may be quick to attribute his incredible start to life in the Premier League as some honeymoon phase, that could not be further from the truth. During his 14-match unbeaten run, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea has inflicted defeat on Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Everton and Atletico Madrid twice in the Champions League without conceding any goal.

Keep up to date with the COVID-19 pandemic. What should we expect in the Premier League in this season?

Mason Mount is proving he deserves his place in Chelsea’s starting lineup.

Mason Mount once again had an outstanding performance in a Chelsea shirt last night. Mount was instrumental in the Blues dominating performance against Atletico Madrid. Chelsea won by a goal to nil in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 knockout tie played in Romania. In the Atletico Madrid box, Mason Mount’s high press led to Hermoso’s attempted clearance falling kindly for Giroud. The Frenchman scored a wonder goal, which was his sixth in the 2020/21 Champions League season.

Olivier Giroud bicycle kick goal against Atletico Madrid. (Image: Getty Images)
Olivier Giroud’s bicycle kick goal against Atletico Madrid. (Image: Getty Images)

Mason Mount is starting to prove his critics wrong.

During Frank Lampard’s reign as Chelsea manager, he came under heavy criticism over what some fans and pundits saw as playing favorites. They claimed that Frank Lampard was not selecting the matchday lineups based on players’ form. Much of this criticism involved Mason Mount, one of the first names on the Chelsea team sheet. Mount played almost every game, even as player rotation due to the congested fixtures became the new norm following the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, he made 53 appearances in all competitions under Lampard last season. His critics felt that his return of eight goals and six assists did not justify playing that many games. His run of games continued into this season, making a total of 27 outings. Fitting that one of Lampard’s last actions in charge of the Blues was to name him captain in their 3-1 victory over Luton Town in the FA Cup fourth-round tie.

Mason Mount with former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard.
Mason Mount with former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard.

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New manager, same story.

With Thomas Tuchel taking over as Chelsea manager following Frank Lampard’s sacking, many saw this as the end of Mount’s run of games. And they may have thought they were right when Tuchel named the Cobham graduate on the bench for his first game in charge against Wolves. However, he has featured frequently under the German coach since then. Tuchel had some high praises for him.

I cannot tell you where the limit is, and I don’t want to put a limit on his development. It is obvious he has a lot of potential, he is a great footballer and super nice guy, eager to learn, hungry to win, open-minded, and for that, I think that for him, he can perform for any manager.

Thomas Tuchel
Mason Mount with current Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel
Mason Mount with current Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel

Sam Allardyce (Big Sam): The sweet and sour chronicles of sit-back-and-defend coaches.

When an Irish priest, owner of the Irish club Limerick, appointed the 36-year-old Allardyce as a coach, everyone saw that one day he would be a great expert. After 20 years of successful career, we can agree that the priest was right from the beginning.

The priest believed that his friend could build a serious career as manager. Reverend Father Joe Young has always been crazy about Sam Allardyce. From the moment they met, the charismatic coach gained many friends and admirers of his management style. One of them was Alex Ferguson. The Scotsman loved Big Sam very much. After that successful start Sam could choose where to continue, but the most reasonable option was a manager in the Premier League. But as charismatic as he is and as fun as he is not everyone likes Big Sam. Mourinho once called Allardyce’s football “19th century football” because he did not play attractively and only worked with bottom-of-the-table clubs forced to defend. But Big Sam is old school manager and gentleman. He is also a favorite among journalists. He is not as pragmatic as Roy Hodgson and has built better communication with the press. Big Sam is charismatic and consistent in his choice of players.

Sam Allardyce is a Premier League survival specialist. Let me paint you a picture. Imagine, if you will, that the Premier League season is at its mid-point. After playing 19 matches, your team finds itself in the drop zone. With a leaky defense, an idealess midfield, and a toothless forward line, wins are hard to come by. Due to some luck and a controversial refereeing decision, the team has managed one win and currently sits 19th in the standings. The prospect of being relegated to the championship is significant. All is not lost, however, as you are not that far off from the safety positions. A reversal in fortune, and you might avoid relegation. As the club’s sporting director, you have fired the coach responsible for the abysmal performances. You now need a new manager to steady the ship to safety. Who do you call? The name that comes to most people’s minds is Sam Allardyce.

Sam Allardyce signed a three-year contract to coach the Three Lions (Englands National team). He coached them for only one match vs. Slovakia, recording a 100% win rate as national team coach. Photo Credits: Three Lions Then
Sam Allardyce signed a three-year contract to coach the Three Lions (Englands National team). He coached them for only one match vs. Slovakia, recording a 100% win rate as national team coach. Photo Credits: Three Lions Then


He currently does not have a job, one could also say that he is simply enjoying his retirement, but he certainly represents one of the biggest and most famous managerial names on the Island. Born in Dudley, not far from Wolverhampton and Birmingham, Allardyce introduced himself to football primarily as a player, and he started his career right in his hometown. You have only one attempt to guess what position he played – defender of course. He progressed quickly and made his debut in senior football back in 1971, defending the colors of Bolton Wanderers, the club where he made the most appearances and left the biggest mark.

He made five hundred and seventy-eight (578) appearances as a footballer. As expected, position-wise, he played as a defender scoring more than thirty-two goals. Considering Big Sam played during an era when defenders largely sat at the back, the number of goals he scored is quite remarkable. “Big Sam” recorded almost two hundred appearances for the Wanderers, to which he returned only 14 years later. But that second mandate was short-lived, and it was soon followed by the end of his playing career. It was 1992 when Allardyce hung up his football boots. During his rather turbulent and rich career, he played for clubs like Sunderland, Millwall, Coventry, West Bromwich, but he even had one episode in Tampa, Florida, where he played only 11 games.

Sam Allardyce played for several teams this includes:

  • Dudley Town
  • Bolton Wanderers
  • Sunderland
  • Millwall
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies
  • Coventry City
  • Huddersfield Town
  • Bolton Wanderers
  • Preston North End
  • West Bromwich Albion
  • Limerick
  • Preston North End

Teams Managed

  • Blackpool
  • Notts County
  • Bolton Wanders
  • Newcastle United
  • Blackburn Rovers
  • West Ham United
  • Sunderland
  • England national team
  • Crystal Palace
  • Everton
  • West Bromwich Albion

His first independent and contracted job was Blackpool. Then there are Notts County, Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Everton and West Bromwich. Quite a long list, isn’t it? As for the style of football that his teams mostly cultivated, I believe that everyone knows that it was, to put it mildly, not very attractive. Admittedly, it has always been considered that he brings results and secure points, and “Big Sam” often played the role of savior in certain clubs, considering that he would be able to “bring them back from the dead” and save the season. Several times he was the champion of the lower ranks of the competition with his teams, and it is worth mentioning that in 2016 he was the selector of the England national team, but he held that position for only two months. Big Sam finally got the job of a lifetime. No one ever doubted his desire to lead the national team. Allardyce himself wrote in his autobiography: “I think I should be one of the candidates when this issue comes up again”. He wrote that in 2006 when Sven Goran-Eriksson left. When word spread that Big Sam could be manager, Allardyce told his wife: “I have to accept. It’s more than a club, there will be the best players I’ve ever worked with.”

He himself contributed and earned his reputation and everyone has the right to like someone or not, but his work and results cannot be disputed. Well, you don’t just get to the position of coach of England.

            He will be remembered as the manager with shortest mandate in the history of England. It lasted only 67 days. He couldn’t do it any longer. Nor did he dare, after the corruption scandal that forced him to leave office. It was not an easy decision, although it was the only correct one, after learning that Sam Allardyce agreed to talk with the supposed managers (in fact, they were not agents, but journalists from the Telegraph) and advised them. how to avoid the “third party rule”, for which he should have received, like, 400,000 euros. It was all recorded, then leaked to the public, and then Big Sam had no escape. After only one match on the England bench and a victory in Slovakia, in the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, with Adam Lalana’s stoppage time goal.

“After that I couldn’t watch the national team. I watched the next match with Malta for only 15 to 20 minutes. I couldn’t go any further. I had to turn off the TV or switch to another channel,” Allardyce lamented in an extensive interview with the English news, the first since he was sacked as commander-in-chief. “It was played at Wembley and I didn’t even get the chance to lead the national team in that stadium. It should have been. It would be a big moment in my career. My stomach hurt because of that feeling.”

Sam Allardyce was supposed to be a long-term solution on the England bench when he signed in 2016. However, his episode lasted only 67 days and after he became involved in transfer “cheats”, the English FA (FA) suspended cooperation. Allardyce has been out of work for some time, but that hasn’t stopped him from occasionally making public announcements, and his latest statement has been met with derision. “With this English team, I would win the World Cup, without any problem. In midfield I would put Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden would also be there. We will celebrate the world title with this team!” said Allardyce.

 He was last employed in 2020-2021 season, but the attempt to save WBA from relegation was futile and unsuccessful.

There is a first time for everything. Thus, the cult British strategist, Sam Allardyce, was for the first time with his team out of the Premier League, after West Bromwich Albion lost to Arsenal, and mathematically there was no chance of survival in the English elite. After the match with the Londoners, the popular “Big Sam” noted that he cannot describe in words how disappointed he is because his team will compete in the Championship. “I am disappointed. I can’t put into words how sad I am. It’s painful. I wanted us to stay in the league, above all for the sake of the players, for the sake of the club, but we failed. At the moment it is too early to say whether I will be in charge of the WBA next season as well,” said Allardyce.

Despite his vast coaching experience, Allardyce has never won the Premier League or any major European trophy. He is an expert, not in winning but in losing. He is the man you’d need to save a sinking ship, but not one you’d need for the long term.

Sam Allardyce’s tactics are so simple; they’re brilliant. He may not be the most beloved manager in England, but his team always has a fighting chance to avoid relegation and make it into next season’s Premier League competition. Sam has been dubbed ‘the savior of sinking ships’ because he can turn around any team with poor stats at crunch time when matches are running out fast; this is why some fans gave him the nickname “Big Sam.”

Sam has been dubbed ‘the savior of sinking ships’ because he can turn around any team with poor stats at crunch time when matches are running out fast; this is why some fans gave him the nickname “Big Sam.”

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce on a phone call. (Image Credits: Getty Images)
West Brom manager Sam Allardyce on a phone call. (Image Credits: Getty Images)

Sam Allardyce, also referred to as Big Sam by the English football media and fans alike, has never been relegated from the Premier League. This is across 15 seasons managing in the top tier of English football. Sam Allardyce’s most notable survival stories are Crystal Palace’s 2015/16 season and Sunderland’s 2016/17 season.

Sam Allardyce celebrating after helping Sunderland secure survival with a 3-0 win over Everton. (Image Credits: Owen Humphreys / PA Wire/Press Association Images)
Sam Allardyce celebrating after helping Sunderland secure survival with a 3-0 win over Everton. (Image Credits: Owen Humphreys / PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Sam Allardyce: The Premier League survival blueprint.

In his own words, Sam Allardyce’s key to surviving the premier league relegation battle is keeping clean sheets

It only takes one goal to win a game. Clean sheets give you the platform to be successful in a season. You can’t always score two or three goals

Sam Allardyce

So how does he set up his teams to keep clean sheets? Allardyce instructs his teams not to lose possession in their half. Another tactic of importance to him is always to play the first pass forward. This is because sideways or backward passes allow the opposition to get back into their half and reorganize their defense. Big Sam also notes that it is crucial to prioritize set pieces. They are essential when trying to score the sole goal his teams usually need to win or grab a draw. The team’s tactics to defend against set pieces are also vital to keeping clean sheets.

Sam Allardyce shouting instructions to his players. Photo by Chris Booth
Sam Allardyce shouting instructions to his players. Photo by Chris Booth

Also read.

In a nutshell.

If you are to survive in the premier league in Sam Allardyce’s world, don’t lose possession in your half. Play the first pass forward, preferably a long ball to a striker with his back to the goal. Win the ball with fast-paced players when the striker knocks down the long ball. Prioritize set plays, both offensive and defensive.

Episode two of the sweet and sour chronicles. 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public.

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