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As debate not so much raged but gently percolated over the merits of “expected goals” as a useful metric for analysing football last week, it was difficult to shake off the feeling that the battle for survival and relevance between old-school pundits and the growing army of stats buffs had reached a somewhat pivotal phase. Youth Nike Denver Broncos #22 C.J. Anderson Limited Olive 2017 Salute to Service NFL JerseyThe sound may have been drowned out by the white noise generated by quarrelling over other, far more important global concerns, but the latest volley was fired by Jeff Stelling. The Sky Sports presenter went viral after footage of him denouncing expected goals in the strongest possible terms spread to a wider audience after being posted on social media. While other, even more boring articles than this one have been written about the value and definition of the statistic in question, for the purposes of brevity all that uninitiated readers need know is that the metric would be far less contentious if it was called something less geeky and more luddite-friendly such as “chances missed”. Never a man to let a bee buzz around rent-free in his bonnet, Stelling had used his Soccer Saturday platform to clamber aboard his high horse and criticise Arsène Wenger for citing the expected goals in a defeat at the hands of Manchester City that Arsenal had suffered to point out the outcome was not quite the mauling suggested by actual goals.“He’s the first person I’ve ever heard take any notice of expected goals, which must be the most Authentic Pierre Turgeon Jersey useless stat in the history of football!” he declared in exasperation to his rapt panel of former pros-turned-pundits. “What does it tell you? The game’s finished 3-1. Why do you show expected goals afterwards?” In the subsequent clamour no end of stats boffins chimed in with informative explanations of what exactly expected goals can tell us and how useful that information can be for football club managers, scouting departments, bookmakers and their customers, among others. Many of them were quick to denounce all who sail in the good ship Soccer Saturday as flat-earthers that the increasingly byzantine industry of football analysis has left behind, apparently oblivious to the irony that Stelling’s stock in trade is in fact football statistics, which he is able to machine gun down the barrel of a camera under the pressure of live television for hours at a time in an enlightening, entertaining and often very amusing way. While a cheap shot, it is of course also worth noting that Stelling hails from Hartlepool, a town so progressive its citizens once hung a ship’s monkey that washed up on the local shore because they thought it was a French spy. The central theme of the Terminator movie franchise is the battle for survival between a near-extinct human race and a machine-based military that is trying to wipe them out after becoming self-aware. As luck would have it, many are the parallels that can be drawn with the battle for survival between the dwindling army of Proper Football Men represented by Stelling and the relentless army of sentient stat-borgs apparently determined to render them obsolete. A body of old pros and broadcasters whose collective title was coined by a couple of writers on the excellent Football 365 website, Proper Football Men have a deep mistrust of anything they do not understand and are deeply suspicious of innovation. Household names such as Phil Thompson, Paul Merson and Graeme Souness are often cited as the archetypal Proper Football Men but in truth they could be any clubhouse alickadoo. They have played the game, understand it and many have the medals to show for it. There is unquestionably a place for them in the serious but ultimately frothy business of football analysis. For Womens Tyrell Williams Jersey all that, they view the recent rise of the machines with scepticism and are scarcely able to disguise their sneering contempt for a new generation of pundits armed with well-thumbed copies of Moneyball and the magic light boxes and witch portals which they use to judge player and team performance through heat maps, possession stats and expected goals rather than the evidence of their own eyes. There is unquestionably a place for them in the serious but ultimately frothy business of football analysis too, but the borderline zealotry with which some of them thump their cyber-pulpits while spreading the sabermetric news occasionally smacks of fundamentalism. Only total acceptance is allowed. Anything else is heresy and anyone who does not fully embrace football analysis by spreadsheet is apparently too dimwitted to “understand” football. Perhaps that’s why so many of the Proper Football Men just ain’t ’avin it. With both communities here to stay, Proper Football Men and stat-spewing sabermetric and spreadsheet enthusiasts will inevitably learn to coexist in Authentic Mats Sundin Jersey peace and harmony but in the meantime the deep mistrust harboured by the minority of hardliners of each community for the other will continue to provide a rich seam of entertainment for those of us who can see that both have their merits. In a famous, particularly heated debate about Pep Guardiola’s undeniable talents as a manager, the highly regarded ESPN pundit Gabriele Marcotti brought up the contentious topic of expected goals in defence of the then Bayern Munich manager, only to be shot down by his exasperated colleague Craig Burley, the former Scotland international footballer. “It’s results that matter, Gabriele!” he shouted. “Don’t give me any of this nerd nonsense!” It could be argued that both men were right but that is kind of beside the point. Their audience was entertained, which is ultimately all that matters.
Whenever Liverpool and Chelsea meet these days it does not take long for memories to stir of the clubs’ epic 21st-century encounters, and as their most recent meeting entered its final Jarrett Allen Jersey stages it was arguably the most famous that sprung to mind. May 2005: Champions League semi-final, second leg. Luis García’s “ghost goal”, the Kop rocking and glory for the team in red. Youth Nike Houston Texans #29 Andre Hal Game Red Alternate NFL JerseyWhat took place at Anfield on Saturday was nowhere near as significant or stirring but for the hosts the aching desire to hear the final whistle so they could celebrate a 1-0 win against the team from Stamford Bridge was similar, and as the minutes ticked away it appeared they would get their wish. But then Willian struck to cancel out Mohamed Salah’s opening goal and for the second time in four days Liverpool had blown a lead. This one may not have been as calamitous as that against Sevilla but it still stung and almost immediately raised questions about the team’s ability Womens Wayne Gretzky Jersey to close out a contest. Women's Limited Andre Holmes White Jersey: Vapor Untouchable Road #18 NFL Buffalo Bills NikeIt is now 22 times in 120 matches since Jürgen Klopp became manager that Liverpool have dropped points from a winning position. A habit has formed and the accusations thrown at the German’s squad is that they are mentally weak and not savvy enough. Klopp defended his players against the former in Seville and following this game was on the defensive in regards to the latter in attention-grabbing fashion. “The day somebody thinks like this [in my team], with not being a proper sportsman and being fair, then I stop,” he said. “If it’s not OK that we try our best, then something is wrong. “I’ll give you an example – the problem with the elbow. When I played I got five broken noses and there was not one time on purpose. I just took it. Now they [players] are all on the ground. That’s not my kind of game. You have to be smart but if you don’t hear a whistle you stay up. And if you stay Kyle Singler Authentic Jersey on the ground and there’s no whistle then what happens? They go on playing.” There is a nobleness to Klopp’s approach that will please the purists but fuel the view that Liverpool are not streetwise enough to compete for major honours. For sure this group of players rarely fake an injury to eat up time, or foul an opponent for the same reason, or “get in the referee’s ear” to sway him in their favour. It is telling that Liverpool have collected only 15 yellow cards in 13 Premier League games this season, the fifth-lowest in the division, while during the previous campaign they had the second-lowest with 54. Not all bookings are collected for cynical behaviour but some are and this is a trait that is not striking in Liverpool’s make‑up. As Klopp said: “We try to close games down but not in a cynical way.” In assessing Liverpool’s failure to win their past two matches, other issues need to be looked at, including Klopp’s tactics. Against Sevilla he claimed his side’s inability to “carry on playing football” was behind their squandered 3-0 lead, yet surely as manager it is his responsibility to ensure that does not happen? Not for the first time he made relatively late substitutions, bringing Emre Can and James Milner on when the hosts had clawed two goals back and were on top. Against Authentic Kellen Winslow Jersey Chelsea Klopp made the curious decision to revert to a 4-1-4-1 formation after Liverpool scored, with Salah the lone front man. The Egyptian is fantastic but he is no Mick Harford when it comes to holding the ball up and not surprisingly Chelsea found it easy to exert sustained pressure. A goal was coming and it eventually came, albeit in fluky fashion. To some extent, Liverpool are England’s Whac-A-Mole club: as soon as one problem subsides, another rises up. At the start of the season they were not clinical enough, but then started scoring, at which point their defence again came under scrutiny. They tightened up, but now their mental strength and manager’s game-management have been called into question. All of which are fair enough but should not take away from the fact Liverpool are a very good team who are doing pretty well now, domestically as well as in Europe.
“You feel immediately that it’s different, no one is really believing in us. You can feel it. If we do good then it’s: ‘Yes it’s good’ and if we don’t do good then it’s: ‘Oh, they’ve done it again.’” Men's Nike Minnesota Vikings #4 Brett Favre Limited Purple Tank Top Suit NFL JerseyJürgen Klopp is well accustomed to the fluctuating emotions around Liverpool and, as the above reflection on Sevilla demonstrates, Gary Roberts Womens Jersey knew what was coming the moment Guido Pizarro equalised in the 93rd minute of their Champions League mayhem on Tuesday. Back on the defensive. Calling for perspective once again. Liverpool remain top of their Champions League group and can draw level on points with the champions, Chelsea, in the Premier League on Saturday with a fourth successive home win. Yet the question of trust lingers. Klopp insists he trusts this Liverpool team implicitly. He senses that belief is not universal. Liverpool’s setbacks have been rare this season yet their dramatic nature has strengthened the image of a reckless team. A 5-0 defeat at Manchester City, after Sadio Mané was sent off at 1-0; a Carabao Cup loss at Leicester City having squandered a procession of chances; a calamitous 4-1 reverse at Tottenham Hotspur, their second league defeat of the campaign; and now the second-half collapse in Andalusia. The positivity generated from straightforward wins over Southampton, West Ham United, Maribor and Huddersfield Town before the trip to Sevilla trampled in 48 minutes. Klopp maintains that Kevin Durant Womens Jersey only the performance at Wembley and when Liverpool “stopped playing” at Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán were genuine causes for concern. Two performances out of 20, in other words. And yet the manager of a team that have conceded once at home in the Premier League this season – the lowest in the division along with Manchester United – admits consistency remains “a job” and “a challenge” for Liverpool. Klopp’s team have exhilarated more often than floundered this season. The issue of trust, he argues, lies with those who expect perfection. Liverpool’s manager is not one of them. “Yes, of course I trust this team,” he said before Chelsea’s visit. “It depends on what you expect. Do I expect perfection and then I can trust? No. Then I could not trust, that would be true. Against Sevilla if we win 3-2 or 4-2, which was possible easily, it is exactly the same story. I cannot ignore it. “The moment we conceded the third goal then everything changed for everybody, but not for me. If you don’t close the game these things can happen. “We made mistakes but they made mistakes. They made a lot of unbelievable mistakes by the way. I can trust this team. “We could have done better in a lot of games but that doesn’t minimise my trust, that’s the thing you have to accept. We try and try and try. In this moment we can’t change anything “I think it was the best lineup we could have chosen, somebody maybe thought we could have played Emre [Can] from the beginning, but there was not a lot of things with the lineup we should have changed. We were 3-0 up, we scored two goals from set pieces, fantastic, the same, scored the third, played a fantastic pass for the fourth – that’s a really good performance. But then you don’t close the game and in an atmosphere like this then things like this can be possible.” Klopp’s trust extended to Alberto Moreno following another costly display by the left-back against his former club. The Liverpool manager claims he was “100% responsible” for Moreno’s mistakes having started the defender who was treated “like a family member in Sevilla” and lost “one, two, three per cent concentration” as a consequence. “I told him I still trust him 100%,” added Klopp. “I can imagine what people are saying. I can’t be interested in that. The thing I try to really teach the players is that the only thing that is important is what I think for their future. My back is big enough to take what people say about me – if I trust him or my faith in him. We have to carry on. The problem is the whole world watches our mistakes.
Antonio Conte has embarked for Anfield in combative mood. Chelsea take on Liverpool in the weekend’s most anticipated fixture but the manager prefaced it by opening up a new line of complaint against his employers, over the contract of Thibaut Courtois, while continuing to air grievances over a congested fixture list. Women's Sean Doolittle Replica Navy Blue Majestic Jersey: MLB Washington Nationals #62 Alternate Cool BaseThe Chelsea goalkeeper is under contract at Stamford Bridge until the end of next season but the player Conte believes will be “the best in the world” said week there has been no progress on a new deal and he is happy to wait until the end of the season to pursue discussions. Game Women's Kenny Wiggins Black Jersey: NFL Nike Los Angeles Chargers #79 FashionWhen asked to comment on Courtois’ remarks in his pre-match press conference, Conte said the onus lay on the club to fix the situation. “I must be honest, I think that this question is for the club, not for me,” he said. “I like to give my opinion about technical decisions. It is important for the club to face this issue, to face this contract with Courtois. For sure I can tell that Courtois Darrell Green Authentic Jersey is one of the best, maybe the best goalkeeper in the world, and he is a player who is very important for Chelsea. I can tell this. But for sure the renewal is a task for the club. “If a big player decides to not sign a new contract it is difficult for a club to try to avoid this issue,” Conte went on. “But at the same time I think there is space to try to deal with the issue and try to Jason Heyward Womens Jersey solve the situation. Maybe [Alexis] Sánchez and [Mesut] Özil they are finishing their contracts with Arsenal and it is not simple but every club has to try solve the situations.” Chelsea made a 6,000-mile round trip to Azerbaijan in midweek, touching down in London only at the second time of asking because bad weather. But while he admitted to being disconcerted by these events Conte was more keen to repeat his insistence that Chelsea have been unfairly done by in the allocation of fixtures. “It was a lot of wind and we tried to land the first time but it was impossible,” said Conte, whose side were 4-0 winners against Qarabag, of the emergency landing at Gatwick. “Then the captain tried again and the second time it was positive. As you know in these circumstances you feel a bit afraid, you are a bit scared, but the captain was very good. “It was a problem to land. I think that to get to your house at 6am is not simple. It’s not simple then to rest and recover for only one day and to prepare for a big game. It’s not right, I must be honest. But we have to do it and today we had a good training session and we tried to prepare the game very well.” Conte says he has asked his club to do what they can to ensure such a compressed fixture schedule does not recur but says he has not made a complaint to Tajae Sharpe Authentic Jersey the Premier League. The Italian was also critical after Chelsea faced Manchester City in the Premier League in September, two days after returning from a Champions League away fixture with Atlético Madrid. “I tried to speak with my club about this problem and to pay more attention for the future,” Conte said. “This is not the first time. In only one month and a half we have had two situations and, also, it was before big games, against Manchester City and now against Liverpool. “I think [the Premier League] have to pay more attention and Bobby Wagner Jersey try to give the same possibilities to all teams to recover in the right way, in the same way, and not to try to create a problem for only one team.
My six-year-old daughter is football mad and her heroes are Neymar and Ronaldo. In the 21st century it’s not unusual for girls to choose football as their obsession and it’s natural that two of the best players in the world are her idols while I’m just proud to be her dad – who also happens to be a professional footballer. Youth Chicago Blackhawks #23 Michael Jordan Reebok White Premier 2017 Winter Classic NHL JerseyEvery school day she puts on her uniform, which comprises trousers, a shirt and tie and jumper – just like all of the boys at her school. This is her choice and we are fortunate that her school allows her to decide what she wants to wear rather than insisting she wear the traditional dress and blouse assigned to girls. They’re making an effort to have empathy with her choices, which makes me proud because it makes me feel like society is more open-minded and inclusive than it was even a decade ago. She is still young but ultimately if she grows up to be gay or transgender, as a parent it would be fantastic to point to role models within football that she can relate to as being similar, normal and not “different”. Whether it is a phase or an identity that she will keep for the rest of her life is not important to me – I will support and be proud of my child no matter what, but it has really opened my eyes to the fact that society is becoming more accepting and tolerant of all different types of people. This weekend the Stonewall UK Rainbow Laces campaign launches in the Football League and Premier League to promote the important message of inclusivity and respect for LGBT people within football and society also. During Sky’s The Debate show this week, I was asked if football is doing enough to back up the campaign and afterwards I asked myself the question: If I was gay would I be comfortable enough to come out? I know the macho dressing-room culture in football, the prospect of playing in front of thousands of fans as a Womens Willie Cauley-Stein Jersey gay man or being spotlighted even in a positive way by the media for the very personal matter of my sexuality and the most honest answer I can give is that I hope so. At Brighton, I believe that my team-mates would not only be accepting of a homosexual player within their ranks but support him in any way that he feels appropriate to encourage that player to exert his human right of being himself, and rightfully be proud of that. The question has been asked repeatedly why so few professional players have felt comfortable enough to come out but instead of asking the question of the individuals, surely we should be asking the footballing industry and the culture that surrounds it to create an Grant Hill Womens Jersey environment where those players will not feel isolated or judged for their right of being their true selves within their profession. I had an experience some years ago where I heard a manager say: “If I found out one of my players is gay, they wouldn’t be playing in my team.” It was said in a flippant, tongue-in-cheek way that could be placed under the banner of our catch-all term – banter – but if I was gay and within earshot of that remark from somebody in a position of power, it would not only hurt me to the core but make me question whether football is ready to consider me an equal and not somebody who should be treated in a different, negative way as a result of my sexuality. I genuinely believe the answer lies within all of us – players, coaches, supporters and members of the media. We all have to question our everyday habits, language and behaviour in order to help all members of our society to be comfortable and safe whether LBGT, black, white, Christian, Muslim or any other denomination. It may be the case that banter used in the dressing room or stands is meant to be humour or harmless but we all have to take responsibility and understand that in making these remarks we could be severely damaging people in the long term and limiting their place within our society. I feel ashamed that our men’s game, followed and revered by millions of people, does not at the moment have a role model who feels comfortable enough to be openly gay and play a sport that we all love. As players we are watched by adoring children, teenagers and adults and it would a major step forward if our youth who are coming to terms with their own identity and sexuality have positive gay role models playing a game that they love and have someone they can be proud to relate to. It’s my hope that very soon we will have openly gay footballers playing in all of our leagues, who are comfortable enough to be themselves and in turn be role models for the millions who adore football but for this to happen we need to do more than wear rainbow laces, we need to work towards enabling a culture where a footballer can be famous, gay and proud.
A Glasgow-based research team will investigate whether Bob Griese Jersey former footballers are more likely to suffer from dementia later in life than the general public. Men's Nike Chicago Bears #72 William Perry Game Navy Blue Alternate NFL JerseyThe new study, which is titled “Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk” (Field) will start in January and will be Jeff Petry Youth jersey led Dr William Stewart and colleagues at the University of Glasgow and the Hampden Sports Clinic. Co-funded by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association, the research has been two years in the planning and will look the physical and mental health outcomes of approximately 15,000 former professional footballers and compare them with the wider population. This announcement comes after wide criticism of the football authorities’ failure to address this question sooner, as it has been on the national agenda ever since the former England and West Bromwich Albion striker Jeff Astle died in 2002 with what the coroner described as an “industrial injury”. Famed for his prowess at heading the ball, Astle died of a degenerative brain disease that was later identified – by Dr Stewart in 2014 – as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition traditionally associated with boxers. Since Astle’s death, the families of dozens of other former footballers, including several from England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad, have come forward to reveal their stories of dealing with dementia and related illnesses. Previous research efforts have had mixed results and if this study does establish that former players are more vulnerable to dementia-like illnesses, further research will be needed to find out why and what can be done to mitigate the established risks. The Field study, which was chosen by the FA’s expert panel on concussion after an open tender process, will answer a specific question: “Is the incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease more common in ex-professional footballers than in the normal population?” In a statement, Dr Stewart, who is based at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth university hospital, said: “In the past decade there have been growing concerns around perceived increased risk of dementia through participation in contact sports, however, research data to support and quantify this risk have been lacking. “Through the Field study we hope to be able to provide some understanding of the long-term health impact of football within the next two to three years.” The FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, said this research Authentic Miles Killebrew Jersey will be “one of the most comprehensive studies ever commissioned into the long-term health of former footballers” and said the governing body felt compelled to find out if there are any potential risks to playing the game. Gordon Taylor, Glenn’s counterpart at the PFA, said the players’ union “is and always has been committed to a duty of care for all past, current and future members” and claimed it has lobbied for the football authorities to join the PFA in taking action, just as it has done with concussion and heart screening.
Jeff Stelling is known for being a cheery sort. The most exasperated he ever gets is when Hartlepool are drubbed and, even then, he usually bears it with the fatalism of the long-suffering supporter. This week, however, the Sky Sports presenter has starred in a much-shared clip in which he goes on an actual rant. And the subject? Expected goals. Men's Winnipeg Jets #64 Logan Stanley Adidas Green Premier Salute To Service NHL JerseyIn the run-up to their coverage of the north London derby, Stelling observed to his Soccer Saturday pundits that Arsène Wenger had done a daft Womens Josh Jackson Jersey thing. “He quoted expected goals!” Stelling said to an audible “No!” from one of his guests (perhaps Phil Thompson). “He’s the first person I’ve ever heard take any notice of expected goals, which must be the most useless stat in the history of football! What does it tell you? The game’s finished 3-1, why do you show expected goals afterwards?” Stelling’s remarks prompted much laughter in the studio and, after Soccer AM took a grab of the video, it got a lot of chuckles online, too. The sole exception perhaps being among the football analytics community, who were of the mind that expected goals is not actually the most useless stat in the history of football. That’s possession. The basic concept of expected goals is simple. It answers the question: should a player have scored that chance? Or, when you add all the chances together, should a team have won that match? Defining each chance according to lots of different factors and then comparing that chance with similar moments in past matches, the outcome is a percentage: that chance, one time out of 10, would be a goal. The question of whether this stat is useful to you depends on what you want from a game. A lot of people, increasingly known as “real football people”, don’t need a stat to tell them what they can see with their own eyes. Others, the analytics crowd or “football nerds”, think it provides context. Especially if you didn’t actually watch the game. Dig down into what makes up an expected goals statistic (commonly known as “xG”) and things can get more complicated. There are lots of different takes on xG, compiled by everyone from the stats gurus Opta to individual fans. While they all might include the same basic information – location of the chance, where the ball had previously arrived from – each will have their own idiosyncrasies. Some might weigh the fact the chance fell to a striker’s foot rather than their head as being more likely to be a goal, but what happens when that head is Andy Carroll’s? There are lots of unknowns in any model and, when you put them all together, that might make the ultimate figure less reliable rather than more. There is a bit of Old Man Yells at Cloud about Stelling’s outburst and that’s probably on purpose. Soccer Saturday is a bunch of old pros watching television, the ultimate “real football men” and perhaps the diametric opposite of nerds plotting outcomes on graphs. Its audience, meanwhile, are those people who turn on the telly to get their football information on a Saturday afternoon. They are unlikely to be keen followers of the latest trends in statistical analysis. On the other hand they might be more likely to see football as a simple game that doesn’t need to become any more complicated. Stelling is just giving his audience what they want. There will likely be more gotchas of this kind in the months and seasons T.J. Ward Youth jersey ahead (and whatever you think of xG, the subtext that Wenger only mentioned it because he lost to Manchester City is surely Ben Scrivens Jersey spot-on). But the broader point is that xG got a mention on Soccer Saturday. It also features regularly, if briefly, on Match of the Day. Expected goals is a stat that’s here to stay and in just a few years time will be part of the furniture. The question is whether it is the end of the quantification of football or just the beginning.
Five Premier League managers have lost their jobs so far this season before we are a third of the way in, and looking at the bottom three in particular the figure could still rise again before Christmas. Men's Jameer Nelson Authentic Gold Adidas Jersey: NBA Denver Nuggets #1 AlternateTo put that into context, this time last season only one manager had been sacked, Francesco Guidolin almost inevitably failing to live up to expectations at Swansea, and it would take until late February and the tear-jerking removal of Claudio Ranieri at Leicester to take the tally to five. Another odd about the five departures this season is that aside from Frank de Boer, appointed by Crystal Palace in the summer, the same men were responsible for guiding their clubs to mid-table security the season before. If you look at the final table for 2016-17, the clubs who have parted with their managers finished seventh, 10th, 11th and 12th. That bandwidth should represent solidity and a job reasonably well done. It is not where you would expect managerial dissatisfaction to set in a matter of months later. So what has changed this season, why does panic seem to be setting in among seemingly respectable clubs with sound Premier League pedigrees? Obviously some of the five have been doing really badly – Crystal Palace most notably, with West Ham, West Brom and Everton not far behind – and owners are more or less bound to act if there does not appear to be any immediate prospect of climbing out of trouble. But West Brom have just sacked a firefighter, albeit an unpopular one, who has never been relegated. They could now turn to Sam Allardyce, who has a similar record and a good relationship with the Albion chairman, John Williams, but while Premier League status might be preserved would the fans be any happier with the football? Five weeks ago most Everton fans were in agreement that Ronald Koeman had to go, the same Everton fans who were congratulating the club a year earlier on appointing a top-drawer manager. But if Koeman Jayon Brown Youth jersey was as forceful and determined a character as he first appeared, could he not have been trusted with a little more time to turn the club around? It might not have been his fault that a striking replacement for Romelu Lukaku was not found, after all. One could understand why the club pressed the panic button so early, results were woeful and the Goodison atmosphere was growing mutinous, but a month down the line it can not yet be said Everton have put themselves in a better position. The owners seem to have been delusional to a certain extent over the difficulty of finding a better-qualified manager than Koeman in mid-season, while some of the fans Alexander Nylander Jersey who celebrated the Dutchman’s removal might have been a bit quieter had they realised the most viable alternative was David Unsworth. The point is that Everton, like West Ham and Palace, are still in trouble despite changing managers. This season climbing the table cannot be taken for granted once you are down at the bottom and part of the reason for that is the fact that the promoted clubs are all doing so well. Brighton, Huddersfield and Newcastle are all together in a tight little knot in mid-table, exactly where the teams who have entered the sack race used to be. All five of this season’s managerial changes have taken place below them, while above them Burnley and Watford sail serenely on, their only apparent concerns being the likelihood of eventually losing their bright young managers to bigger clubs with relegation worries.
Chris Smalling has questioned Gareth Southgate’s judgment, saying he was surprised the England manager dropped him from the friendlies against Germany and Brazil for not being accomplished enough at playing from the back. Women's Nike Tennessee Titans #9 Steve McNair Limited Light Blue Rush Vapor Untouchable NFL JerseySmalling also insisted that if he continued to perform successfully for Manchester United, Southgate would be forced to select him for the World Cup. Men's Game Steve Bartkowski White Jersey: Road #10 NFL Atlanta Falcons NikeOf those defenders Southgate chose for his most recent squad, he named Eric Dier, Harry Maguire and John Stones as being “even Authentic Evgeny Kuznetsov Jersey better” than Authentic Kevin Huber Jersey Smalling at initiating the play. A visibly unhappy Smalling said on Tuesday: “I was surprised. But you don’t play for one of the biggest clubs in the world for as long as I have and win every trophy bar the Champions League without being able to do everything a top defender needs to do, be it playing or defending.” Since joining United in July 2010 Smalling has won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League. The centre-back has played every minute of United’s past Womens Omar Gonzalez Jersey 10 games, and pointed to his in José Mourinho’s impressive rearguard. “This year we’ve got the best defensive record and we have done for the last few years and I’m very proud to be part of that,” he said. “While I’m playing under José, he’s happy and I’m playing regularly, then I’m happy with that.” Smalling hopes to force his way into Southgate’s squad for Russia 2018. “Ultimately it’s your club form that decides whether you play at a World Cup because there aren’t many England games throughout the season,” he said. “While I’m playing regularly and part of a very successful team, that should show come the summer. If my season carries on like this and we have a successful season and our team continues to concede very few goals, then I give him maybe no choice in the summer but to pick me. “With United the spotlight is always on and there’s always going to be that pressure, no matter what the game is. Whether it’s the Premier League or the Champions League, I can showcase my abilities.” Smalling is confident in his abilities. “I don’t really feel like I need to prove anything to Gareth,” he said. “Like I said, I play for one of the most successful managers in José and he’s only going to pick the best players. I’m getting a good run of games these last few months and I’m feeling good.” Smalling is enjoying working with Mourinho. “As a team and individually we work a lot on our tactics,” he said. “A lot of it is done in the meeting rooms. He’s very in-depth how he analyses the other team and how he wants us to play. It opens up the whole understanding of how you Wily Peralta Youth jersey see the game and the more that I’m working with him the more I’m feeling comfortable with him and doing his instructions.” United play Basel on Wednesday night at St Jakob-Park knowing a point from their fifth Group A match would secure qualification to the Champions League knockout stage. Mourinho is resting Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Antonio Valencia for a game on a pitch recovering from the wear it took during the World Cup play-off between Switzerland and Northern Ireland.,17046
It is a good thing Chris Coleman said he is under no illusions about the size of the task he has taken on at Sunderland. Their ninth manager in six years started with a defeat that highlighted just how much work he has to do to arrest the decline at a club who remain anchored to the foot of the Championship. Women's Nike Philadelphia Eagles #28 Wendell Smallwood Game Midnight Green Team Color NFL JerseyIn that sense this was much more of a reminder than a reality check for Coleman as Sunderland’s winless run extended to 15 matches on a night when Aston Villa climbed to fourth place courtesy of Albert Adomah’s Craig Smith Authentic Jersey ninth goal of the season and a rather fortunate second from Joshua Onomah. What Sunderland would do for a slice of luck of their own sometime soon. Villa, as Steve Bruce admitted, were well short of their best and played poorly for much of the game, yet they still found a way to chisel out the sort of victory that continues to elude Sunderland. Lewis Grabban did manage to pull a goal back later in the second half, and there were positives to take from the way the visitors passed the ball around at times, but there is no escaping the worrying sight of a league table that shows Sunderland four points adrift of safety. Asked if he saw signs of encouragement, Coleman replied: “Of course. It’s a bit doom and gloom at our place at the minute, bottom of the league, 10 first-team players unavailable and coming to Aston Villa, one of the toughest games we’re going to get, so I’ve got to Antoine Vermette Jersey commend the players. “The second goal was a deflection and I thought the first goal was a foul on Adam Matthews but that’s how it is. No excuses. Sometimes that’s what happens when you’re down there – bad news after bad news. And if you’re Kendall Wright Womens Jerseynot careful you get into a rut, which probably we are. But it’s only us who are going to get out of it.” Villa had some bad news of their own to report. Jonathan Kodjia, last season’s top scorer, requires another operation on the same ankle that he had surgery on in May. Kodjia suffered a setback while away with the Ivory Coast and Bruce confirmed the 28-year-old faces “months” on the sidelines after undergoing a series of tests in France and London over the past couple of days. “It’s devastating news for us all,” the Villa manager said. “But we’ll have to deal with it. Let’s see if we can find something in January which can help us.” Adomah seems to be weighing in with his fair share of goals at the moment. After scoring two against QPR on Saturday, the winger converted an excellent cross from Robert Snodgrass to put Villa ahead after only 10 minutes. Matthews, the Sunderland right-back, may well have been marking Adomah at the far post had he not been clambering to his feet at the other end of the pitch after what Coleman thought was a foul. “I thought it was a foul on Adam, if he doesn’t get out the way, he’s going to get nailed there,” he said. Although Sunderland continued to look the more accomplished side in possession, they lacked a goal threat and conceded a second early in the second half, when Onomah’s speculative shot took a huge deflection off Tyias Browning to leave Robbin Ruiter stranded. Coleman made the point that Sunderland “could have easily melted” at that stage but instead they showed some spirit and fight and were rewarded when Grabban hooked home from close range.
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