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Posts Tagged ‘England’

Real and Spurs negotiating over Bale

Real Madrid’s protracted chase of Tottenham’s Welsh international Gareth Bale could gradually be moving towards the end game as new Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, 54, has said that the two clubs are now discussing terms. The Spanish giants, who are currently on tour in Los Angeles, California, and play LA Galaxy in a friendly match tomorrow, have reportedly offered £86 million for the winger, a sum that would smash the current world transfer record fee of £80 million that they paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2011. However, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is playing hardball and is preparing to hold out for a player to be thrown into the deal in addition to the cash.

Ancelotti ruled out a return to Spurs for Croatian international midfielder Luka Modric, saying that he’s an important player for Real Madrid and will be staying with the club, but Real are believed to have mooted Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria and Portuguese left-back Fabio Coentrao as potential makeweights in the package for Bale. So far, Spurs haven’t shown much interest in either of that pair, but are believed to pursuing Real’s twenty year old Spanish striker Alvaro Morata, as well as Valencia’s Roberto Soldado. Morata is one of Spain’s most promising young centre-forwards but is highly valued in Madrid and his departure would leave them short in numbers up front with only Karim Benzema and Ronaldo left on the books as genuine forwards, so the two clubs’ positions remain a long way apart on the make-up of any player plus cash deal.

Roberto Martinez in at Everton

Spaniard Roberto Martinez, 39, has been announced as the new manager of Everton in the English Premier League. He has reportedly signed a four year contract with the Goodison Park club and his former club Wigan will be paid around £1.5 million in compensation.

Martinez is fresh from winning the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic, having knocked Everton out of the competition at the quarter final stage and beaten Manchester City in the final at Wembley but his season was marred by poor league form which eventually resulted in relegation to the Championship. However, Everton have decided to overlook his 29.14 win percentage in the Premier League and focus on the positives of his cup performances and the reputation he built up for attractive football both at Wigan and in his previous role at Swansea, who he lead to the League One title in 2007-08.

As an individual, Martinez won the League One Manager of the Year award in 2007-08 and was Premier League Manager of the month in April 2012. He has a tough act to follow in David Moyes, who kept Everton performing above expectations season after season during his eleven years at the club. His first tasks will be to try to hold on to star players such as Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini as well as assembling his backroom staff. Many of the existing coaching team have followed David Moyes to Manchester United.

At present, Martinez’ first match in charge of Everton is scheduled to be a pre-season friendly away at Austria Vienna on the 14th of July, followed by fixtures at Accrington Stanley and Blackburn Rovers.

England v Ireland Team News

England manager Roy Hodgson has announced that left-back Ashley Cole will captain the national team in tonight’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium. This is in honour of Cole becoming only the seventh player to have reached one hundred England caps – a feat which he achieved against Brazil in February – and he will be presented with a special golden cap before kick-off tonight to mark the occasion before he leads the team in what will be his 102nd appearance for his country.

England are without several players for the fixture following the international retirement of Rio Ferdinand and the withdrawal from the squad of captain Steven Gerrard, plus Tom Cleverley, Jack Wilshere, Kyle Walker and Andy Carroll with various injuries. Danny Welbeck is also a doubt for the match and the Manchester City and Chelsea contingent are likely to be tired having been on a post season mini-tour of the United States.

Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge is likely to start in attack alongside Wayne Rooney, with Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard in central midfield. James Milner and Theo Walcott may complete the midfield four but Jack Rodwell and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also in contention. Phil Jagielka is expected to partner Gary Cahill in central defence, with Cole at left-back and Glen Johnson on the right and Joe Hart in goal.

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has already named his starting eleven for the match and he goes with David Forde of Millwall in goal behind a back four of Seamus Coleman (Everton), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Sean St Ledger (Leicester City) and Stephen Kelly (Reading). Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City) and Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow) make up the midfield, with Robbie Keane (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Shane Long (West Bromwich Albion) up front.

Crystal Palace win promotion to round off English Season

Crystal Palace beat Watford 1-0 after extra time at Wembley Stadium to win the Championship play-off final and earn a place in next season’s Premier League. Veteran striker Kevin Phillips scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the last minute of the first period of extra time.

It was a tight first half with neither team creating many good chances but it opened up a bit towards the end of normal time as both teams tried to force the issue. However, nobody achieved a breakthrough until Watford’s Marco Cassetti tripped Wilfred Zaha inside the box, giving the 39-year old Phillips a chance from the penalty spot. Phillips used all his experience to stay cool and fire a near perfect penalty past Manuel Almunia. Watford piled on the pressure in the second period of extra time and came close to equalising on a couple of occasions but just couldn’t quite find a way past the Palace rear-guard.

Crystal Palace join champions Cardiff City and second placed Hull City as the teams promoted to next season’s Premier League to replace relegated QPR, Reading and Wigan Athletic. The new television deal with Sky and BT that comes into force at the start of the season guarantees even the bottom placed finisher in the Premier League upwards of £60 million in rights money, so the three new-comers will have plenty of funds available to strengthen their squads as they attempt to bridge the gap and avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Now that the 2012-13 season is done and dusted in England, we have updated our historical ranking of English clubs to include the points awarded for this campaign and to see who is now playing above or below their historical status. Palace and Cardiff have stepped up to the level above their traditional situation and Hull have reached the dizzy heights of two levels above their third tier ranking, whereas QPR are heading back towards their level and Reading and Wigan will still be a division above their historical status.

The New Wembley – Where does your club rank?

Four more clubs are set to make their debuts at the new Wembley stadium this weekend, with Borussia Dortmund taking on Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday evening and Watford playing Crystal Palace in the Championship play-off final on Monday. That will take the total number of club teams to have appeared at Wembley since it re-opened in 2007 to 82. Chelsea and Manchester United have by far the most Wembley appearances, with both now in double figures, ahead of Manchester City in a distant third place and Chelsea, with a win percentage of 66.7% from their 12 appearances have been the most successful visitors, winning on 8 occasions.

For those of you trying to predict the outcome of this weekend’s matches, here’s a table showing frequency of each scoreline from finals and semi finals at the new Wembley. As you can see, there are likely to be goals, as only four of the 76 matches to date have ended 0-0 (although that is the most common scoreline for a draw). In fact, the average number of goals per game in club matches at the new Wembley Stadium is 2.71. The most common score is 1-0, closely followed by 2-1 and then 2-0 but if you feel there’s going to be a higher scoring encounter then 3-2 is a good bet as that has been the result on 8 occasions (10.5% of the time).

Score Frequency   Score Frequency
1-0 18 3-0 2
2-1 15 2-2 2
2-0 13 5-0 2
3-2 8 4-1 1
3-1 5 4-2 1
0-0 4 5-1 1
1-1 2 6-1 1

Four teams who have appeared more than once at the new Wembley still have a 100% win ratio. They are Whitley Bay (from three games) and Swansea City, Crewe Alexandra and Wigan Athletic (from two games). There are nine teams who have a 0% win ratio from more than one appearance at the stadium – they are Arsenal, Aston Villa, Brentford, Cambridge, Grimsby, Sheffield United, Shrewsbury, Swindon and West Brom – all from two games. Of them, Cambridge, Sheffield United, Swindon and West Brom have all failed to score on either of their appearances. The most prolific team are Whitley Bay, averaging 3.67 goals per game, and Swansea City, on 4.5 goals per game.

The full table is below, ordered by appearances, wins and then goals scored.

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The Final Stretch – European season reaches its climax

With most of the major European leagues now wrapped up, attention in most countries is turning towards the upcoming spate of cup finals across the continent. In England the FA Cup final is, of course, already done and dusted with Wigan Athletic having sensationally beaten Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley to win that venerable trophy for the first time in their history, and on Friday night in Madrid, Spain, Atletico stunned their neighbours Real Madrid in their own backyard at the Bernabeu to win the Copa del Rey. Atletico’s 2-1 extra time win was their first victory over Real in any competition for fourteen years.

The next ten days will see the cup winners decided in Scotland, Italy, Portugal, France and Germany, as well as the Champions League final and the English Championship Play-off final for a place in next season’s Premier League. This coming weekend is the big one, with five major finals over the extended Bank Holiday break (in the UK) for fans to enjoy and European club football’s showpiece event, the Champions League Final kicks it all off on Saturday night.

The Champions League Final – Saturday 25th May 2013, 19:45, Wembley Stadium, London

This year’s final is an all-German clash between Borussia Dortmund and strongly fancied Bayern Munich. Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern are the newly crowned Bundesliga champions, having dislodged Borussia from their perch, and have enjoyed perhaps the most spectacularly successful league season in their history. They won the Bundesliga at a canter by a massive twenty five points, scoring ninety eight goals in the process to end up with a staggering goal difference of plus eighty. They imperiously swept aside Barcelona in the semi finals 7-0 on aggregate to record the biggest semi final victory margin since 1960 and quite frankly they look unstoppable.

Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund have had an average season by their recent high standards and had to be content with a distant second spot having been champions two years running prior to this season. Their European form has been much better and they annihilated Real Madrid in the first leg of their semi final before holding on resolutely in the face at a late Real Madrid rally at the Bernabeu to book their spot at Wembley. Their success was dampened somewhat by the news that star man Mario Gotze will be jumping ship to Bayern this summer, putting a dent in their hopes of narrowing the gap next season, but they will be hopeful of a big performance on the night to create a small upset.

The two clubs have been regular opponents over the past twelve months with supremacy in head to head matches slowly shifting from Dortmund to the Bavarians. Dortmund had a crushing 5-2 win in the German Cup final last May but Bayern took their first chance for revenge in the Super Cup final in August, winning 2-1. The first league clash finished in a 1-1 stalemate in Munich in December but Bayern triumphed again, 1-0, in a cup quarter final in Munich in February and the return league fixture in Dortmund ended 1-1 earlier this month when the title was already sown up.

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England Squad for friendlies against Ireland and Brazil

England manager Roy Hodgson, 65, has named a twenty-two man squad for the upcoming friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil. The headline news is that Reading’s 23 year old goalkeeper Alex McCarthy gets his first call up and striker Andy Carroll is recalled after an impressive run of form in the Premier League.

England face Ireland at Wembley on Wednesday 29th May before flying over to Rio de Janeiro to face Brazil at the newly redeveloped Maracana stadium on Sunday 2nd June. The squad in full is:

Goalkeepers: Ben Foster (West Brom.), Joe Hart (Man. City), Alex McCarthy (Reading).

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man. Utd.), Joleon Lescott (Man. City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham).

Midfielders: Michael Carrick (Man. Utd.), Tom Cleverley (Man. Utd.), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Man. City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

Forwards: Andy Carroll (West Ham/Liverpool), Jermain Defoe  (Tottenham), Wayne Rooney (Man. Utd.), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Man. Utd.).

Beckham to retire at season’s end

David Beckham has announced that he will retire from football at the end of the season, bringing to and end a career that has spanned twenty years and five countries. The former England captain, who played his last international game in 2009, is currently with Paris Saint-Germain in France and has two games remaining this season with the newly crowned Ligue 1 champions.

He will wave goodbye to the Parisian public in his final appearance at the Parc des Princes on Saturday evening, before bowing out of professional football away at Lorient on Sunday the 26th of May. He finishes on a high, having picked up the tenth league title of his illustrious career and becoming the first English player to have won the league in four different countries.

Beckham made his debut for the Manchester United first team back in 1992 in a League Cup match against Brighton and Hove Albion and went on to play almost four hundred games for the club before moving to Real Madrid in the summer of 2003. He subsequently played for Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan (on loan) and PSG. His international career began in 1996 and earned him 115 England caps, making him the most capped outfield England player of all time.

Perhaps the highlight of Beckham’s career was the 1998-99 treble winning  season at Manchester United culminating in that dramatic Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich in Barcelona. His retirement, along with the simultaneous retirements of Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul Scholes, means that only a handful of United’s all-conquering class of ’99 are still plying their trade professionally.

Peter Schmeichel was the first to hang up his boots in 2003, having wound down his career at neighbours Manchester City, before Denis Irwin, David May and Henning Berg followed in 2004. Controversial midfielder Roy Keane retired from playing in 2006, with Raimond Van Der Gouw, Jaap Stam and the injury plagued Ole Gunnar Solskjær following suit a year later in 2007. 2008 saw Ronny Johnsen, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham quit the game, with Dwight Yorke soldiering on until 2009 and Jesper Blomqvist until 2010.

The most recent retirees were Gary Neville and Nicky Butt in 2011, marking the beginning of the end of an era defined by the crop of youth team players known as Fergie’s Fledglings who broke into the first team in the early 1990′s. With Beckham and Scholes now joining them in calling it a day, Ryan Giggs and Philip Neville are the only ‘fledglings’ still playing at the top level, although Neville is leaving Everton at the end of the season and may yet retire, but still hopes to prolong his career at another club.

Two other players from the 1999 squad are still also playing professionally – 33 year old Wes Brown at Sunderland and 34 year old Jonathan Greening, who is currently with Nottingham Forest. The evergreen Ryan Giggs, who turns forty later this year and shows no sign of stopping, looks like outlasting them all!


Moyes to take over at Manchester United

Manchester United have announced that David Moyes will be their new manager, taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of this season. Sir Alex Ferguson announced his shock retirement yesterday morning and United were quick to confirm that the Everton manager will be his replacement. It is believed that Ferguson strongly endorsed the candidature of his fellow Scot for the post.

Moyes has been in charge at Everton since 2002 having previously managed at Preston North End. He has never won a top level club trophy as a manager and has no experience in the Champions League but was highly respected for his long term consistency and over-achievement on a tight budget at Everton. He did win a third tier league title with Preston and took Everton into the UEFA Cup/Europa League on three occasions. His highest league finish was fourth in the 2004-05 season, which qualified Everton for the Champions League preliminary stages but they lost to eventual semi finalists Villareal 4-2 on aggregate.

Moyes, who has won the LMA Manager of the Year award three times, has signed a six year contract with Manchester United and will hope to build the sort of dynasty associated with his predecessor. His first task at Old Trafford will be to resolve the future of England international Wayne Rooney who has reportedly handed in another transfer request. Before then he has two final matches to oversee as Everton manager starting with his swansong at Goodison Park against West Ham on Sunday followed by a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea seven days later.

United hit top spot

Manchester United overhauled their cross-town rivals Manchester City to take top place in the Premier League table with ten games remaining in the 2011-12 season. United eased to victory against West Bromwich Albion with a goal in each half from the on-form Wayne Rooney. The first was diverted in after good work from Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez in the 35th minute and the second was from the penalty spot in the 71st minute. West Brom’s Jonas Olsson was dismissed in the 66th minute for a second bookable offence.

Meanwhile, Manchester City were going down 1-0 against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium. City domainated possession for long periods but were unable to find the net and succombed to an 83rd minute strike from substitute Luke Moore, only four minutes after he had come off the bench to replace Danny Graham. The Swans could have taken an early lead when they won a penalty in the 7th minute, only for Scott Sinclair’s effort to be well saved by City ‘keeper Joe Hart. It was mainly one-way traffic after that but, for once, City couldn’t find their cutting edge.

In the other game of the day, bottom of the table Wigan Athletic rescued a point from their trip to Carrow Road, having been 1-0 down against Norwich City. Wes Hoolahan gave the Canaries an early lead but the Latics came back strongly after the interval and replied through Victor Moses in the 68th minute. However, time ran out before Wigan could find a winner. The point leaves Wigan at the foot of the table but keeps them in touch with the rest of the teams struggling against relegation.

Manchester United’s win moves them on to 68 points at the top, one clear of Manchester City on 67, although City’s goal difference is still eight better than United’s. There is now a 13 point gap back from City to Spurs in third place.

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