Managerial stability; successful remedy or romantic illusion?

Another week of football, another head rolls as ruthlessly as O-Ren Ishii cutting down her counterparts; this time in the form of Tim Sherwood, whose energy and tenacity was a breath of fresh air for Villa fans who were too used to sighing their way through football games under Paul Lambert. Sherwood in, 28 games later, and times are apparently apocalyptic enough to eradicate poor Tim like a virus.

It is becoming an increasingly common sight to see; people chirps among themselves on social media along the same sentiment: why hasn’t so-and-so been sacked yet? Then when the inevitable happens, a different sentiment is echoed around the web: why wasn’t he given more time?

The longest serving manager in the Premier League is Arsene Wenger, who has held his position at Arsenal for a total of 19 years this month. Very respectable and as a result has left a lasting legacy on the club and has imprinted himself on Arsenal’s DNA. Eddie Howe is the second-longest serving manager at Bournemouth having totalled a number of 1108 days in charge of the southern-coast side at the time of this publication.

And next on the list?

Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea is a curious club, no one can deny they are enjoying the demise of the champions of England this season. After Saturday’s loss to West Ham they have now officially been branded the worse title defenders since the Premier League began, edging Blackburn Rovers on goal difference. At a club so cutthroat as Chelsea, many would have expected the London outfit to be going through their third or fourth managerial modification by now. Yet Mourinho still stands, or rather sits in the stands, treading ever so carefully on a tightrope getting thinner and thinner with every week ensuing more and more drama.

Roman Abramovich, had anyone else been in the hotseat, would have surely fired anyone else but the fact remains (as the Special One said so himself) there simply is no one out there better than the man already in place and no better manager to turn around this situation. It is true to an extent; Jose’s trophy haul is almost unmatched in the football universe, with a total of 22 including the treble with Inter Milan in 2009/2010.

But stability doesn’t necessarily breed success, a common misconception that many believe. Going back to Arsenal, there is certainly no disputing Wenger’s contribution to the north London club, not to mention to the Premier League and the way in which football is played. But during the period June 2005 to May 2014, they won nothing, coming closest in 2011 only to lose to Obafemi Martins’ Birmingham City in the Capital One Cup Final. During this period Chelsea won 13 trophies under ten different managers. Unstable, yes, but unsuccessful? No chance.

Many would argue that the club hasn’t reached its potential, and that the money spent should therefore guarantee more trophies, almost as if no other team exists. Perhaps this is true to an extent, Avram Grant finished runners-up to every competition and with a bit of luck and better managerial know-how the Israeli could have led the club to its first ever treble, placing him on a pedestal with the great Sir Alex Ferguson as the only managers to lead an English club to winning the three most coveted trophies available.

It should also be noted that money doesn’t equal success, if this was true Manchester City would have swept every trophy since 2011 and the Real Madrid “Galacticos” squad would have dominated football during the noughties. But football isn’t like a computer game and with big fees and big players, a club needs a big man in charge to put them all in place.

Ruthless Roman’s empire in West London has given Chelsea fans the greatest memories of their lives, from the very highs of beating Bayern Munich at their own ground against all the odds in a phenomenal film-like cup run in the Champions League in 2012 to beating Manchester United 3-0 at Stamford Bridge to clinch Mourinho’s second title in as many years. But the reigns of managers such as Big Phil Scolari and Andres Vilas-Boas have left bitter tastes in some mouths.

However, these men were not given their marching orders for no reason. Reminiscing, Abramovich is slated for not sticking with his managers enough, but the fact is the results were not coming and action was needed to restore the club back into a position of power. Despite winning the Champions League in 2012, Chelsea finished 6th in the league. Roberto di Matteo, although a fan favourite, was never the man to take the club forward and this became evident after an abysmal cup defence ended with Chelsea not even reaching the knockout stages. RDM out, Rafa in. Rafa wins the Europa League. Deja vu one might say.

Jose Mourinho may be correct in stating he is the best man available for the job, but in a strict results business reputations mean nothing. Chelsea Football Club are going through a crisis, but is that necessarily the end of the world? At the expense of a football philosophy and a universal dynasty, Roman has picked trophies.

Perhaps it is time to step back and decide; where does Abramovich see the club in five years time? Averaging a trophy a season, but paving over the cracks with short-term fixes? Or the chance to let Mourinho work through his blip, and prove himself at the club he loves, and build a utopia? There is a fine balance between patience and product, one that the other clubs in the Premier League will not wait for an answer to.

Who will be the next Liverpool manager?

Brendan Rodgers’ tenure at Liverpool has finally come to a close. The man had a rollarcoaster ride of a job; having to deal with the departures of Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and club icon Steven Gerrard as well as leading the club to the closest they have come to the Premier League crown since 2008/2009 when they finished second behind Manchester United. Alas, poor results and no sign of any improvement after a lot of money spent in the summer has forced the owners Fenway Sports Group to cut their losses and change direction. Huge speculation has been looming over who will take over with many fans calling for big names Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti; but do FSG have someone else lined up?

Jurgen Klopp

The charismatic coach from Stuttgart rose to fame after he won back-to-back league titles with an exciting Dortmund squad that played fluid, attacking football, with an incredible fanbase behind them. They caught the eyes of football fans across the world with many rooting for the underdogs when they came up Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in 2013. Despite losing, Klopp’s stature in world football had blossomed but after a stuttering start to the 2014/2015 Bundesliga became a catastrophic campaign which saw the double German Manager of the Year’s team bottom for a large period of the year he come out in April 2015 declaring he would resign at the end of the year to take a year sabbatical from football.

However, recently Klopp’s agent Mark Kosicke declared that the former Mainz coach was keen on moving to the Premier League after branding it “exciting” and that he wouldn’t necessarily join a “top four team”. With Liverpool’s immense fanbase and commitment to attacking football, it would seem that the two would be a match made in heaven. Indeed with every bad result Rodgers delivered, murmurs turned into chants on the Kop for Mr Klopp and this must have surely influenced the boardroom into making a change.

Carlo Ancelotti

One of the biggest names when it comes to the coaches of football, boasting a magnificent career with trophies with Real Madrid, Chelsea and AC Milan. His success in Europe matches Liverpool’s aims of returning to the heights of European competition, after winning the Champions League twice with his Milan team and again with Real Madrid, winning them their sacred “La Decima”. He joins former Liverpool manager Bob Paisley as the only managers to have won the European Cup three times. His AC Milan team that won the 2003 Champions League final includes some of the finest players of this generation, including Fillipo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf, Paolo Maldini and Andriy Shevchenko.

Liverpool themselves have encountered the man nicknamed Carletto on two occasions in the Champions League Final, that famous night in Turin in 2005 and once more in 2007 when Milan, and Inzaghi who scored twice that night, settled their vendetta in Athens. The return of Mario Balotelli to the club could also do with a helping hand from the former Milan midfielder, due to his excellence in dealing with huge egos at almost every club he has been at. He is also experienced in how the Premier League works having won the double with Chelsea in his first year at the club before being sacked at the end of his second year somewhat harshly. Regarded as one of the most respected bosses of all time, the Liverpool owners will be punching well above their weight if they can convince him to move to Merseyside.

Top 6: Who Should They Acquire This Summer?

It has been a long season that has seen triumph and despair for those sitting on top of the Premier League, and as soon as the whistle goes at the final match it is the first thing the fans have on their lips: the transfer window.

Who is coming in? Who should be offloaded? Will the star players stay or go? These are all pressing matters, especially now there is no football to talk about. So, if each club in the top six could purchase three players to strengthen their squads for next year: who should they be?

Chelsea

Whilst the Premier League champions can boast they have the strongest squad in the league, a few injuries could change all of that. Jose Mourinho has already made it clear that he does not plan to venture too far into the player market but Chelsea’s finances are looking good and who knows what could happen if the right player was made available.

Raphael Varane.

A player that has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge in the past and would go straight into the first team of many across the world. Rated very highly at the Bernabeu, Mourinho worked well with him during his stint as Real Madrid boss and was one of the few players not to mutiny against him and Jose has previously called him “the best young central defender in the world.” At 22 years old and with Kurt Zouma, 20, already lurking on the outskirts of the first team, the Blues defence could have a French defensive partnership that could last for many years.

Raheem Sterling.

The man linked to nearly every top club in Europe, the London-bred boy could find his home at the Bridge. His thirst for trophies would be quenched and he could play a major role in the Champions League, a competition the Liverpool starlet is desperate to participate in. John W. Henry would be extremely reluctant to sell to another English club, and his price could hit staggering numbers, but with Liverpool fans already almost ousting him out of the door a move looks certain to happen. It would also boost Chelsea’s English player quota.

Charlie Austin.

The only beacon of happiness a QPR fan has had this season, he has performed brilliantly to score 18 Premier League goals, behind only Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa and Harry Kane in the top goalscorers list. The former Burnley and Swindon hitman looks certain to leave QPR following their relegation and would provide strong competition for Loic Remy and Costa for a starting place. His goals-per-game stands at 0.51, the fifth best in the league so with a midfield of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Cesc Fabregas behind him, who knows how many this natural finisher could put away.

Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini has suffered what has been considered a dismal effort to retain their Premier League crown, but the Financial Fair Play shackles have been lifted and Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi owners will heavily invest to inject some new blood into an ageing squad that desperately craves silverware.

Paul Pogba.

There have been numbers fluttered from £45 million to £77 million, but whatever the price may be this is one player City cannot afford to miss out on. The French midfielder is immensely rated across the world with a large list of top clubs after his signature. At the age of just 22, his vision, physique and method of play outshines many of his more experienced counterparts. A perfect replacement for Yaya Toure, who doesn’t know whether he is staying or going, and, despite a youth career at rivals Manchester United, would become a quick fan favourite.

Kevin De Bruyne.

A mediocre start to his career in the English league saw him being shipped out to Wolfsburg after being deemed surplus to requirements by Chelsea, however he has flourished into one of Europe’s best attacking midfielders. Having just helped his team win the German equivalent to the FA Cup, he has been offered a new contract also after breaking the Bundesliga record for most assists in one season. The 23-year old would love to prove a point against former boss Mourinho, and Pellegrini would relish nurturing a great talent his rival let go.

Marco Verratti.

A move to Real Madrid beckons, but Pellegrini should put all he can into signing the Italian central midfielder. Known to operate as a defensive midfielder or attacking, he has developed rapidly during his time at PSG, with many noting his speed and tenacity as valuable attributes to his successful three years in Ligue 1. At just 22, he has many years to further himself as a player even more so and with the likes of Fernando and Fernandinho in the Man City ranks there is near enough a starting position guaranteed for the ex-Pescara star.

Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has been renowned for his reluctance to put his hand in his pocket and splash the big pot of cash available to him but recent acquisition Alexis Sanchez may have changed his mind, after a stupendous first season in football was capped with a FA Cup win and a strong finish in the league. If Wenger is hopeful of battling the big boys for the title next year he will have to recruit some more players to boost his thin squad.

Petr Cech.

Almost criminal to sideline a player of such quality, but Thibaut Courtois looks to have cemented his position as Chelsea stopper for the foreseeable future. Therefore a move to their London rivals is now open after Wenger’s chopping and changing of goalkeepers between Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina indicates he is unconvinced with either of them. Cech is a hugely reliable goalkeeper who has still got a number of years left in him at the very top of the game.

Victor Wanyama.

Despite the turn in form of Frances Coquelin which has seen him being talked up as one of the best defensive midfielders since the beginning of 2015, if Arsenal want to bolster their squad a defensive midfielder is the first position many Gunner fans will say. Wanyama, 23, has comfortably settled in Southampton’s first XI and plays with an incredibly high work rate that sees him play as a top ball winning midfielder, also helped his bulky frame and physique. Already accustomed to the toils of the Premier League, guarding the back four would also allow the likes of Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey to roam free further forward.

Alexandre Lacazette.

Olivier Giroud has come under a lot of criticism during his time at the Emirates but despite this he has still scored 58 goals since his transfer from Montpellier. Lacazette, however, has been talked up as one of Europe’s hottest strikers after a brilliant season with Lyon saw him score 31 goals this season, 27 in the league to see him crowned as top goalscorer in Ligue 1. Lyon coach Hubert Fournier has already admitted that the future of the striker is unclear following interest from the Gunners but a huge transfer fee may put off the men behind the money at Arsenal.

Manchester United

Louis Van Gaal has achieved the minimal expectation put to him in his first year as United boss – get Champions League football at all costs. After an anomaly of a season under David Moyes which saw them finish 7th, they are ready to use their wealthy might once again and this summer promises to be a huge one at Old Trafford with many targets already being said to be close to signing.

Gareth Bale.

It’s the one all the fans are talking about. Signing such a player would demonstrate the sheer power available to them. Florentino Perez has said there is no chance Gareth Bale would leave the Bernabeu, but this is the same man that sacked Carlo Ancelotti for finishing second to a team that have three players who scored 120 goals; anything is possible in Madrid. Despite scoring 17 goals, it has been seen as an unsuccessful year for the Welshman and with many fans baying for his blood, he may have fallen out of love with his overseas dream and return back to Britain. It is no secret that United are huge admirers after a failed £100 million bid for him two years ago and potentially see him as the man to finally fill Cristiano Ronaldo’s boots.

Mats Hummels

Another player the fans are desperate to see signed, having been linked with the German central defender for so long. The departure of Jurgen Klopp has paved the way for many players to follow his footsteps out the door, with Ilkay Gundogan another player nearly certain to leave. The Dortmund captain would demand a massive fee, possibly trumping David Luiz’s record transfer number, but already a World Cup winner at the age of 26 he would solve the current defensive crisis at United. Especially noted for his ability to bring the ball into midfield, he would fit Van Gaal’s philosophy of ball retention and possession football.

Hugo Lloris.

With David De Gea’s reluctance to sign a new contract and Real Madrid waiting in the wings to pounce, it would be a good idea to sign a ready replacement for safety’s sake. Lloris has already expressed an interest in playing Champions League football and, although Daniel Levy would hate to sell to another English club, United would be more than happy to allow him to play to his potential on the greatest club stage. The Spurs captain would command a huge fee, having only signed a five-year contract last July, but with Victor Valdes on the wane he would be worth every penny as he highly regarded as one of the best keepers in the world, with Juventus also sniffing around him as the successor to all-time great Gianluigi Buffon.

Tottenham Hotspur

Mauricio Pochettino’s first season as boss of Tottenham has had a collection highs and lows, despite a number of poor performances against the bigger teams and largely remaining unaltered in the league positions, a cup final appearance and the emergence of Harry Kane has kept Spurs fans happy with the progress of the club. After the Bale money was all spent, Christian Eriksen was the only successful purchase. This summer the Tottenham gaffer will have the opportunity to sculpt his own team.

Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Despite a poor season at PSG, Lavezzi would be an ideal buy for Spurs. The French champions are reportedly happy to do business after Italian website TMW claimed the winger has agreed personal terms with the North London club. His ability to drive the ball at the centre of defences from the wing indicates that he would be a success in the Premier League, where this attribute has helped several players before (Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez springs to mind). A big-name signing would signal to other clubs (and players) that they are no longer a “feeder” club, and that they mean business against the big clubs next year.

Morgan Schneiderlin.

Heavily linked with a move to Arsenal, Spurs should use all their power to dismantle this move and take him to White Hart Lane. The likes of Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason, though Pochettino must be praised for his trust in the youngsters, are simply not good enough to push the club into the top four. Schneiderlin’s range of passing and excellent work rate would make him a valuable asset to any team in the Premier League and looks certain to leave Southampton after attempting to manoeuvre himself a move last summer The Tottenham boss should use all his contacts available to convince the French central midfielder his future lays in the white of North London, not red.

Danny Ings.

Burnley’s shining light this year, leading their goalscoring chart with 11 goals in the Premier League. Despite being out of contract, would still demand a fee due to his age but nonetheless a player Pochettino should take a keener interest in. With the correct nurturing, Ings could become a top English striker who can form a deadly partnership with Harry Kane up front. His pace and finishing ability have been spotted in flashes whilst at Burnley and, at the age of 22, still has much more to offer the Premier League.

Liverpool

After an immensely promising season the year before, the lasting effects of the departure of Luis Suarez has rocked the club to the core, with a number of crises stemming from this event. But Suarez did not leave cheaply and the money put into the transfer budget has been, quite frankly, wasted on the likes of Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren. With talisman Steven Gerrard leaving for USA, Brendan Rodgers must find a way to propel the club back into the top four.

Christian Benteke.

The Liverpool owners have to make a big signing and make it early to signal their intentions this summer. Not only would Benteke fulfil this, he’d be the man they need to fire in the goals their strikers have so dismally failed to do this season. Despite only scoring three whilst playing under Paul Lambert, Tim Sherwood’s appointment has rejuvenated the striker and he quickly became the striker in best form towards the end of the season. Played correctly, he would be a powerful weapon in the air and with the likes of Daniel Sturridge playing off of him Liverpool fans could see the goals they were so used to a couple of years ago return.

Nathaniel Clyne.

After having a £10 million bid rejected, a better bid is expected soon. Despite being heavily linked with Manchester United, it appears they have called off their interest giving Liverpool the green light to go ahead with the transfer. Clyne would be an excellent addition to the Reds defence, where Glen Johnson would depart and Clyne would slide right in. His arrival would also boost flop Dejan Lovren’s performances, due to their apparent understanding whilst playing at Southampton. The right-back has been in fine form this year, which have seen him earn his first England cap and was narrowly behind Branislav Ivanovic in the Premier League team of the year.

James Milner.

After rejecting a contract of up to £150,000 a week at Manchester City, it would appear that the last thing Liverpool need is a contract rebel. However, landing the English utility man would be a brilliant piece of business as he would cost the club nothing in transfer fees. His performances this year have elucidated why every manager in the country would love to have him. His work ethic and teamwork makes the lives of the players around him that bit easier as well as being technically marvelous on the ball, and his ability to play almost anywhere on the pitch makes him an exceptional option that epitomises Liverpool’s style of play, definitely someone Rodgers should look to as a transfer target.

Atletico Madrid 0 vs 0 Real Madrid

Atletico Madrid will have to go get a result at the Bernabeu in order to progress to the quarter finals of the Champions League after no side could score despite the frenzied atmosphere in the Vicente Calderon.

Atletico’s fans were creating quite an uproar and the freneticism was resonated on the pitch with some end to end play and typical derby day fouls but both sides can be accused of letting the occasion get to them after their profligacy in front of goal.

But it was the Champion’s League holders who started the better, when Gareth Bale had a chance to silence the frantic fan after Diego Godin uncharacteristically slipped to let the Welshman through on goal, but Jan Oblak made himself big to deflect the shot.

The 22 year old goalkeeper, deputising for Miguel Angel Moya, kept his illustrious counterparts at bay after some great saves from James Rodriguez towards the end of the first half to the .

Sergio Ramos was lucky to remain on the pitch after a first half kick directed towards Koke was left unnoticed and an elbow to Mario Mandzukic, which left the Croatian infuriated and covered in blood, was also dismissed by the ref.

Fernando Torres’ introduction sparked some life into La Liga’s champions after a late flurry of chances including an overhead kick from Mario Suarez.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side looked the more threatening of the Madrid teams with 16 shots but a combination of great goalkeeping and organised defending has kept the “man on the street’s” team in the tie.

Real Madrid 3 v 4 FC Schalke 04

Carlo Ancelotti will have Cristiano Ronaldo to thank after his record-breaking brace spared their blushes against a very impressive Schalke team.

Christian Fuch’s sent a left-foot piledriver towards Iker Casillas but the power of the shot was too much for the Spanish goalkeeper.

But the lead didn’t last long as Ronaldo equalised from a Toni Kroos corner after a towering header left 19-year old Timon Wellenreuther standing  .

That didn’t stifle Roberto Di Matteo’s men though after ex-Real Madrid striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar bundled in Max Meyer’s rebound after yet another Casillas error.

Five minutes just before half-time Ronaldo rose high above anyone else on the pitch again as he met a Fabio Coentrao cross unmarked to score his 76th goal in the Champions League to take him ahead of Lionel Messi in the top goal-scoring charts.

Karim Benzema gave Los Blancos the lead for the first time in the game with a very composed finish in the box after being adjudged to be just onside to score his 20th goal of the season.

However the game did not stop there as the Miners came again, this time in the form of Leroy Sane on his European debut who hit one from the edge of the area to beat Casillas.

Huntelaar’s second goal of the game made the last five minutes very tense for the home team, but Real Madrid held on to progress to the next round.

The result sees Real Madrid into the next round but Ancelotti will be hoping for much better displays at home if he hopes to make Real Madrid the first team to retain the coveted trophy.

Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2

Manchester City 1 vs 2 Barcelona

Luis Suarez’s return to England spelt doom for Manchester City as Sergio Aguero pulled one back for the English champions to make it 2-1 at the Etihad.

Despite struggling for league form, Suarez was back to his best with his first brace of the season to give Barcelona a commanding position in the second leg.

The Uruguayan took his chances well in the first half as a low cross hit Vincent Kompany on the back before Suarez directed an instinctive strike into Joe Hart’s far corner.

Barcelona’s second goal epitomised what they’re all about after a fantastic dribble from Lionel Messi left national compatriot Pablo Zabaleta looking silly before an accurate cross into the box from Spanish wing-back Jordi Alba teed up Suarez whose predatory finish gave Joe Hart no chance again.

Manuel Pellegrini’s night went from bad to worse as history repeated itself when he saw his left-back get sent off in the last fifteen minutes after two bookable offences, echoing Martin Demichelis’ red card in the same fixture last year.

Lionel Messi missed a chance to make the game 3-1 when his penalty was saved by Hart and his rebound was put horrifically wide.

Argentine Aguero scored with twenty minutes to go when David Silva delicately back-heeled it into the rampaging striker’s path who smashed the ball past Barca keeper Marc Ter Stegen.

The result now leaves Manchester City in a precarious situation, being two away goals down they will now have to at least score twice at the Nou Camp as well as not conceding to progress to the next round.

Liverpool 3 – 2 Tottenham

Mario Balotelli scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool in order to give the Reds three points after a thrilling encounter between the European hopefuls.

Harry Kane was in form again as he helped his team back into the game with a first half equaliser and second half assist but it was the striker desperately short of form that got the winner in a fascinating attacking display.

Markovic got the first goal of the game after Simon Mignolet’s long kick was poorly dealt with by Belgian counterpart Jan Vertonghen and the Serbian winger finished comprehensively as a result.

Kane’s 23rd goal of the season gave Spurs the equaliser they deserved just before the half hour mark after some intricate play involving a clever pass from Erik Lamela.

Gerrard scored from the spot after Danny Rose was adjudged to have brought down Daniel Sturridge as his dazzling footwork deceived the young English full-back.

Christian Eriksen’s free kick was pushed away by Mignolet on the hour-mark but Kane was the first to react, albeit possibly offside, to put the ball back into the box where Moussa Dembele chested it in.

Lamela nearly scored soon after Gerrard’s penalty but Simon Mignolet, who has come under pressure recently, managed a superb save to deny him.

The win leaves the Merseyside outfit one point behind Pochettino’s men in seventh place and Brendan Rodgers will be very pleased with another great performance as he attempts to turn Liverpool’s fortunes around after a poor start to the campaign and push for Europe.