Premier League Review – Week 27

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There were changes at both ends of the Premier League table last weekend with Arsenal dropping out of the top four and Middlesbrough falling into the dreaded relegation zone.

With just 1 goal in their last 5 matches and 2 in their last 8, Middlesbrough are looking increasingly likely to drop out of the Premier League this season. After a decent start, many thought they would be comfortable, however, that has not proved to be the case as they were quickly found out. Continue reading

Rashford scores hatrick for England U21′s to put Big Sam under pressure

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Marcus Rashford is like lightning in a bottle and continued his brilliant form from last season to help England U21′s where he scored a superb debut hatrick over Norway as England ran out 6-1 winners for World Cup qualifying.

Rashford sent a message to club manager Jose Mourinho at Manchester United who has dropped the talented Englishman to the bench in favour of a starting line up of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial. How longer can Mourinho resist such a talent? The worry in the past with Mourinho has been his intent to stick with star players over Academy ones, but surely he will recognise for the good of the club that Rashford really ought to be starting games.

Pressure also rests with England manager Sam Allardyce who decided to drop Rashford into the U21′s. But as evidenced against a dogged Slovakia team in his first game in charge the England forward line was listless. How they could have done with Rashford to settle the nerves early on instead of relying on a goal that came 20 seconds to the end of added injury time.

Rashford was obviously elated by his three goals and said: “It was a good début to have. It was a strong performance from the boys. Norway played well, despite the scoreline. We worked hard for the whole 90 minutes and I think in the end we deserved the result.” Asked about his favourite goal of the evening, Rashford surprised some “I’d say the penalty was my favourite, to be honest. It was the first penalty I have scored since I have been a professional.”

Allardyce was at the match and that can only be a positive sign that he is keeping close tabs on the 18 year old. But it seems odd that England would want to hold back such a talent. Wayne Rooney faced a similar problem at the same age but played for the senior team almost immediately.

Back to Mourinho and he now faces an interesting task ahead of him- does he start with Rashford in the eagerly awaited Manchester derby this weekend? The feeling is that he won’t but Rashford will get game time.

Gareth Southgate the U21 coach said of Rashford, “I’ll speak to Sam in the next couple of days, I’m sure, but I’m sure it’s given him food for thought. But he’ll be pleased with some of the performances of his players .“What we saw all week [from Rashford] we saw tonight, so I wasn’t surprised in any way. I don’t think anyone can rubbish the experience. The key is, if they come down, they get to play and put on a show like that.”

 

Sam Allardyce is the new England manager

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When England failed abysmally at Euro 2016 and Roy Hodgson as expected quit his post moments later the players hoped that the new England boss would come from foreign shores. They haven’t got their wish as the FA has given the green light to Sam Allardyce.

Allardyce or ‘Big Sam’ as he is known in England will be doing his best impression of his famed Cheshire cat grin with the news. Indeed a few weeks ago linking the former West Ham United and Sunderland manager to the job would have been distant, but any English manager working in the top flight for so long has the ultimate dream of leading their country and at 61 time was not on his side. He’s finally, after managing for nearly 25 years in the game, landed the big job and he will be relishing every moment of it- but was he really the right man?

The problem for the FA going with a foreign manager is the slap in the face and rubber stamp to the heart of English football emblazoned with a seven lettered word- ‘failure’. Going abroad would have been admittance that there isn’t any English born manager available that has the talent to lead the national side. Also the top nations don’t go looking abroad. New European champions Portugal have done in the past but they finally won a major trophy with Fernando Santos, Portuguese. Indeed all of the semi final teams from Euro 2016 were all managed by coaches from that country. Why should England be different?

The FA can of course point to the fact that when they did look further away they came up with Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello who both respectively took one step forward and several back. Would an English manager in their time have done any worse? Okay Steve McClaren aside, but these managers demanded huge salaries and huge attention and their legacies as football coaches will not be remembered for their time with the English national team.

Allardyce in the end didn’t have too much competition- there was talk of Steve Bruce perhaps Alan Pardew but in the end the FA have gone for a man who some players he’s coached have recently come out and said he has a calming influence and really does care for the progression of the team. Progression is a huge word and one that ultimately won over the FA because Allardyce has agreed to nurture the next England coach as part of his job.

The problem for Big Sam is that he is more remembered for relegation dog fights than battling it out near the top of the league. And the big worry must inevitably remain that he may, even if he is English, be another manager that could well be taking backwards steps than advancing in his new job. Only time will tell.

Sunderland take a big step to Premier League safety after comeback win over Chelsea

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Sunderland are dreaming of Premier League survival after pulling off a miraculous comeback against Chelsea on the weekend. The Black Cats went behind twice at the Stadium of Light, courtesy of goals from Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic, but fought back well with goals from Wahbi Khazri, Fabio Borini and Jermain Defoe.

The North-East outfit conceded a second goal in first-half injury time, but Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce urged the players not to let the game slip as they’d worked very hard to be in a position to get a result. His motivational speech clearly worked as the Black Cats turned the game on its head with two goals three minutes after the hour mark, finishing the weekend just one win away from survival.

“We switched off just before half-time and it was about picking the lads up in the dressing room to say let’s not waste what we have done. Let’s get ourselves back in the game because if we continue to show the passion and desire to shut Chelsea down as we did in the first half with a bit more quality, then we will get chances,” Allardyce revealed.

“It was extraordinary and nerve wracking. A wonderful comeback and result, particularly in the circumstances. In the second half we caused Chelsea problems and there was clinical finishing which we have been waiting for for a while. Our destiny is in our hands and a win against a very good side Everton will secure our Premier League future. Hopefully we can achieve it, it will be difficult but we have an opportunity to do it,” he added.

Sunderland are 17th in the Premier League with 35 points from 36 games. They are one point ahead 18th-placed Newcastle United with a game in hand, and four points clear of 19th-place Norwich City. Sam Allardyce’s side are coming off the back of two wins and two draws in their last four games, and have suffered just one league defeat in their last nine.

The Black Cats’ form in 2016 has been outstanding considering their lowly position, picking up points against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Southampton, Arsenal and Chelsea among others, and they’re now favourites to stay in the division. They next face Everton in midweek, where a win would confirm their Premier League status for another season, relegating Newcastle and Norwich in the process.

Their destiny is finally in their own hands, so can Sunderland fight off relegation?