Archive for August, 2014

The Football Management Merry-Go-Round!

Posted on: August 27th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

The new Premier League season is only in its second week but before it had even started, we had the first managerial casualty of the season. Tony Pulis left Crystal Palace by mutual consent 48 hours before the new season started. Since taking over in November with the club bottom of the table, Pulis turned the clubs fortunes around and managed an impressive 11th place finish. However, after disagreements over the summer with chairman Steve Parish over potential new players, and wanting more control over who the club signed, the two parties agreed to terminate his contract leaving the club with no manager going into the new campaign.

With the talk at the start of every season about who will be the first manager to go, it got us thinking here at Pendle, about the amount of managers that clubs go through these days and what does it take to succeed as a Premier League manager in the current era?

During the course of last season no fewer than ten managers lost their job during the season with another two leaving at the end of the season. They say that being a manager these days is all about getting results, and it’s true it is a results business, but is sacking a manager every season because it hasn’t quite gone your way the right thing to do?

For some clubs it works, like discussed before Crystal Palace made the right move in sacking Ian Holloway and Employing Tony Pulis, but it doesn’t always work like that, both Fulham and Cardiff suffered from sacking their managers last season. Fulham went through three managers last season sacking Martin Jol with the club in 18th place in December, he was replaced by Rene Meulensteen, which proved to be a bad move as the club were rooted to the bottom of the table when he was replaced in February, Felix Magath came in for the end of the season and with only 3 wins from 16 games it’s no surprise that the club went down, but would they have stayed up if they had have kept Jol in charge to the end of the season?

Norwich suffered a similar fate last season, sacking their manager during the season and getting relegated, but unlike Fulham and Cardiff, Norwich sacked their manager in April with only a month of the season to go, was that the right move to make? Should they have stuck with the manager at least until the end of the season, or should they have sacked him earlier on to give a new manager more of a chance to keep the club in the top flight?

At the other end of the table, manager stability is vital to mounting a challenge for the top four or the championship. Most of the clubs in last season’s top 7 seem to change their manager almost as much as they change kits, since the Premiership started in 1992 there has been 15 different managers at Man City, 8 at Liverpool, 9 at Everton, and 17 at Tottenham and Chelsea. But only a few of those managers have had success, 3 titles for Chelsea with two different manager and 2 titles for Man City again with 2 different managers shows that sacking a manager after one poor season doesn’t work.

But how do you judge success? In a division of twenty teams there are still only four places for the Champions League, so is fifth place and below a failure? Surely there must be teams for whom mid-table is success enough, or narrowly avoiding relegation is their prime objective, but then Stoke sacked Pulis after finishing 13th in 2012-13, and big Sam is under a lot of pressure at West Ham after what many would consider was a good season.

Does the problem lie with the clubs’ boards expecting too much from their team in a division that was so competitive last season that there was only 14 point separating 9 places, or is it the fans who have unreasonable expectations, or both? What do you think?

Let us know what you think? Is stability better than change? Let us know if you have any stories of managers being in charge at your club for long periods of time.

Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 5

Posted on: August 18th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to part 5 of the Pendle Sportswear Premier League preview blog. In this post we will be looking at the prospects for Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United. Let us know what you think by commenting on twitter and facebook.

 swnasea Swansea City

Players In – Marvin Emnes (undisclosed), Lukasz Fabianski (free), Bafetimbi Gomis (free), Stephen Kingsley (undisclosed), Jefferson Montero (undisclosed), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8 mill).

Players Out – Ben Davies (£10 mill), Leroy Lita (released), David Ngog (released), Michel Vorm (£5 mill), Michu (loan), Daniel Alfei (loan), Gwiom Edwards (undisclosed), Alejandro Pozuelo (undisclosed), Chico Flores (undisclosed), Pablo Hernandez (undisclosed).

Swansea had a very mixed season last year, the expectations were high going in after an impressive first season in the Premier League, finishing 9th whilst also winning the League Cup. With the signing of Wilfred Bony amongst others few can blame Swansea fans for getting excited about the future. But with the additional games in the Europa League and 5 losses in their opening 10 games it didn’t start as they planned, and after a poor run of results in the middle part of the season, only gaining 6 points from 10 games Michael Laudrup was sacked and replaced by former Swansea player Garry Monk. The club finished 12th and also progressed through the group stages of the Europa League, losing in the round of 32 to Napoli.

This year could be a different affair, without the distraction of Europe they should do better, although the sales of goalkeeper Michel Vorm and Ben Davies to Tottenham and allowing Michu to leave on loan might hinder their chances, but they have bought well, bringing Gylfi Sigurdsson back to the club will delight the fans as he was a star player for them when he was there on loan a few seasons ago, Jefferson Montero is a tricky winger who might prove to be a great bit of business, and snapping up Bafetimbi Gomis on a free transfer could prove to be as astute as the signing as Michu a couple of seasons ago. Lukasz Fabianski has been brought in to replace Michel Vorm but only time will tell whether the club should’ve done more to keep hold of the Dutch keeper.

Swansea fans this season can expect a solid mid-table finish, the signings they have made should prove successful and if they can hold onto Wilfred Bony, he and Gomis could form a formidably strike force for Swansea this term leaving them fighting for the Europa League places. Another centre back to play alongside Ashley Williams is probably needed if they are to achieve this.

Pendle Prediction – 9th Place.

spurs   Tottenham Hotspur

Players In – Ben Davies (£10 mill), Michel Vorm (£5 mill), Erik Dier (£4 mill).

Players Out – Heurelho Gomes (released), Jake Livermore (£8 mill), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8 mill), Alex Pritchard (loan), Grant Hall (loan), Iago Falque (undisclosed).

Tottenham endured a torrid season last season, selling their top player Gareth Bale and signing seven new players with the proceeds didn’t work in the London clubs favour.

Roberto Soldado only scored 6 goals, whilst record signing Erik Lamela was limited to 9 league appearances due to injuries and poor form. Paulinho didn’t prove to be as succesful as Spurs fans had hoped and the signings of Nacer Chadli, Vlad Chiriches and Etienne Capoue for a combined £24.5 million were more to bulk up the squad rather than improve the starting eleven. The only signing that proved a real success was Christian Eriksen, although he started slowly and didn’t get a regular place early on in the season once he had earned his spot he really started to show his potential.

Finishing in 6th place was poor for the club who would’ve been hoping to challenge for Champions League again, but selling their best player always meant it was going to be tough, and for the players that were brought in to not perform didn’t help, Andre Villas Boas was sacked part way through the season and replaced by former player and under 21’s boss Tim Sherwood until the end of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino has been brought in this summer after an impressive season at Southampton, and Spurs fans will be hoping that he can bring the best out of the players that are at the club just like he did at Southampton. So far this summer Pochettino has tried to solve one problem that Tottenham had last season and that is by signing a much needed left back in the shape of Ben Davies from Swansea, the club have also signed Michel Vorm from Swansea as well, as a backup keeper to Hugo Lloris. Tottenham may be far from done in the transfer window, Morgan Schneiderlin has been linked with the club and has handed in a transfer request to push through a move, and also Jay Rodriguez has also been linked with following Pochettino to Spurs.

Spurs will need to sign another striker if they are going to have any chance of gaining a top 4 place, Soldado, Adebayor and Kane are unlikely to provide enough fire power, and Spurs may also look for another winger, assuming that Pochettino plays a similar system to the one he played at Southampton. Erik Lamela will need to step up this season and show people why Tottenham paid £30 million for him, and If Eriksen can continue the form he ended last season on, I think Spurs could be outside contenders for 4th.

Pendle Prediction – 6th Place.

 wba  West Bromwich Albion

Players In – Chris Baird (free), Craig Gardner (free), Brown Ideye (undisclosed), Joleon Lescott (free), Sebastien Pocognoli (undisclosed), Andre Wisdom (loan), Jason Davidson (undisclosed), Cristian Gamboa (undisclosed).

Players Out – Scott Allan (released), Zoltan Gera (released), Billy Jones (free), Diego Lugano (released), Steven Reid (released), Liam Ridgewell (released), George Thorne (undisclosed).

West Bromwich Albion suffered a dreadful season last season, with the club finishing in 17th place,  narrowly avoiding relegation. Sacking manager Steve Clarke and replacing him with Pepe Mel didn’t have the impact the club had hoped for and they still struggled to get results in the league. Selling Shane Long half way through the season didn’t help matters either. Their top scorers were Saido Berahino and Stephane Sessegnon with only 5 goals each, which shows you that the club were really lacking a goal scorer.

This season it seems unlikely that West Brom’s fortunes will change, as they are still lacking a recognised goal scorer, despite signing Brown Ideye from Dynamo Kyiv, and I think the squad lacks depth. Some of the signings they have made should prove to be good signings for them, Chris Baird, Craig Gardner and Joleon Lescott are all good additions to the squad with plenty of Premier League experience, but they are surely going to need to sign a top striker to keep them in the division.

The club do have some decent players with the likes of Sessegnon, Berahino and Craig Dawson, but the squad still looks a bit thread bare so they will need to add more quality and experience if they want to survive this season.

With the clubs likely to be around them all improving their squads they will need to do something or they might be playing Championship football next season.

Pendle Prediction – 18th Place.

 

   west hamWest Ham United

Players In – Aaron Cresswell (undisclosed), Cheikhou Kouyate (undisclosed), Diego Poyet (undisclosed), Enner Valencia (undisclosed), Mauro Zarate (undisclosed), Carl Jenkinson (loan), Diafra Sakho (undisclosed).

Players Out – Joe Cole (released), Jack Collison (released), Alou Diarra (released), Stephen Henderson (free), George McCartney (released), Matt Taylor (free).

West Ham were one of a number of clubs that were involved in a relegation battle last season even though they finished in 13th place they were only 7 points off the drop.

West Ham fans, I’m sure will say that they were never in trouble and after 27 games they were mid table and looking safe, but only 3 wins in the final 11 games meant they were drawn back into the battle. With Kevin Nolan being the clubs top scorer with only 7 goals, you can see why they struggled having Andy Carroll out injured for most of the season didn’t help them, and with their other attacking options only getting 9 goals between them they, like West Brom were lacking a goal scorer.

This summer West Ham have bought well, they have brought in two new forwards in Mauro Zarate, the former Birmingham strikers re-joins the Premiership hoping to do a little better than the 4 goals in 14 appearances he managed last time around, and Enner Valencia, the Ecuadorian forward was impressive in the World Cup, he managed 3 goals in 3 games but it wasn’t enough to help Ecuador progress. Cheikhou Kouyate has been brought in from Anderlecht his presence, strength and pace in the centre of midfield will definitely add to their team.

West Ham should be stronger than they were last season and a mid-table finish is on the cards for the club but they will need Valencia, Zarate and Sakho to hit the ground running to make sure they stay well away from a relegation battle especially as their main striker Andy Carroll is out injured and will miss at least the opening 3 months of the season.

Pendle Prediction – 11th Place.

So here is the complete Pendle Predicted League Table:

1. Manchester City    man city

2. Chelsea    chelsea

 

3. Arsenal    arsenal

 

4. Manchester United    man utd

 

 

5. Liverpool    liverpool

 

6. Tottenham Hotspur    spurs

 

7. Everton    everton

 

8. Newcastle United    newcastle

 

9. Swansea City    swnasea

 

10. Hull City   Hull

 

11. West Ham United    west ham

 

12. Stoke City    stoke

 

13. Crystal Palace    palace

 

14. Southampton    soton

 

15. Queens Park Rangers    qpr

 

16. Aston Villa    astonvilla

 

17. Sunderland    sunderland

 

———————————————-

18. West Bromwich Albion    wba

 

19. Leicester City    Leicester

 

20. Burnley    burnley

 

Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 4

Posted on: August 13th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to part 4 of the Pendle Sportswear Premier League preview blog. In this post we will be looking at the prospects for Queens Park Rangers, Southampton, Stoke City and Sunderland. Let us know what you think by commenting on twitter and facebook.

 qpr Queens Park Rangers

Players In – Rio Ferdinand (free), Steven Caulker (undisclosed), Jordan Mutch (undisclosed), Mauricio Isla (loan).

Players Out – Yossi Benayoun (free), Hogan Ephraim (free), Aaron Hughes (free), Andrew Johnson (released), Stephane Mbia (free), Luke Young (free), Esteban Granero (undisclosed), Samba Diakite (loan).

After being favourites to come straight back up, it wasn’t that easy for QPR, finishing in 4th place and having to win the Play-off to return. After overcoming Wigan Athletic in the Semi-Final, they beat Derby County in the Final with a 90th minute winner to return to the top flight. This season will be very different for QPR, they have made a few signings so far this window and I’m sure you can expect plenty more and the obvious sight of Harry Redknapp from his car window on deadline day.

Young England defender Steven Caulker has been brought in to strengthen their defence and should prove an excellent signing for the club, despite going down with Cardiff last season he was one of the standout players in that side, and some believe he did enough to earn a place on the plane to Brazil for the World Cup. Rio Ferdinand has also been brought in, his experience will be vital for both the progression of Caulkers career and also the R’s first season back in the Premiership. The return of Julio Cesar, Loic Remy and Adel Taarabt  from their loan deals will also help adding much needed depth to the squad.

QPR will likely be fighting against the drop for the majority of the season but in the end they should stay up due to the experience in the squad. Like Burnley they will be relying on their home form throughout the season and that could prove vital. If they can bring in a couple more quality players they might even manage to climb into mid table.

Pendle Prediction – 15th Place.

 soton Southampton

Players In – Dusan Tadic (undisclosed), Graziano Pelle (undisclosed), Ryan Bertrand (loan), Fraser Forster (undisclosed), Saphir Taider (loan).

Players Out – Guly do Prado (released), Jonathan Forte (released), Lee Barnard (free), Rickie Lambert (£4 mill), Luke Shaw (£27 mill), Adam Lallana (£25 mill), Dejan Lovren (£20 mill), Calum Chambers (£16 mill).

Southampton were one of the stand out teams in last season’s Premier League, finishing in 8th place, this was largely due to their players out performing their expectations. The front three of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez were their star players from last term, Lallana scored 9 and assisted 6 goals, Rodriguez scored 15 and assisted 3, and Lambert scored 13 assisted 10, which shows how strong their front line was.

Southampton have one of the best youth systems in the country, in recent years producing such talented players as Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the most expensive player in the world Gareth Bale, and last seasons side was no different. Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, Adam Lallana and James Ward-Prowse becoming established Premiership players after coming through the youth ranks at Southampton.

Southampton’s great form last season has resulted in some of their top players leaving the club, Lallana, Lambert and Dejan Lovren have all joined Liverpool for a combined £49 million, while Luke Shaw has joined Man Utd for £27 million and Calum Chambers left the club to join Arsenal. Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez have also been rumoured to be leaving with Tottenham leading the chase for the pair.

This has left The Saints with a squad that may have to set their targets lower than last season . Graziano Pelle has been added as a replacement for Rickie Lambert, Dusan Tadic has been brought in to replace Lallana, and Southampton have brought in Ryan Bertrand on loan to replace Luke Shaw, but they are going to have to spend a lot of the money they have received to replace these players and get a team that can compete in the Premiership.

This could prove to be a long, hard season for Southampton, losing so many first team players will be hard, replacing these players is going to be key for them to stay in the Premiership and they will need to make sure they buy the right players to do the job. Ron Vlaar has been rumoured to be coming in as a replacement for Lovren which would be good but not a great signing. They have brought in Pelle, who comes with an impressive record from Feyenoord, 50 goals in 57 league games, they will need him to continue that goal scoring record if they are to finish in the top half this season. It will be interesting to see who they do sign in the window but with the start of the season fast approaching they need to do something fast.

Pendle Prediction – 14th Place.

 stoke Stoke City

Players In – Phil Bardsley (free), Mame Biram Diouf (free), Bojan Kikic (undisclosed), Steve Sidwell (free), Dionatan Teixeira (undisclosed)

Players Out – Matthew Etherington (released), Michael Kightly (undisclosed).

A 9th place finish in last season’s Premiership was definitely a surprise to most people, but with only 10 points between them and 13th place they could’ve finished anywhere in between. A similar season could well be on the cards for The Potters, and their final position could be affected by what the teams around them are doing in the transfer window.

Stoke have made a few free transfers in this window so far with Phil Bardsley, Steve Sidwell joining the squad with plenty of experience battling against the drop and the signing of Mame Biram Diouf will add to their front line, but the signing of Bojan Krkic from Barcelona has to be the surprise transfer of the season. The 23 year old Spaniard joins up with the squad with a reputation that, unfortunately for him, he has never really lived up to. Only time will tell if he can start fulfilling his early potential but for now Stoke can only hope that they have managed to bag themselves a potential star.

With the side Stoke have currently, another mid-table finish seems most likely but maybe a few places lower than last season. If Bojan can be the player he was touted to be then they could rise up the table and even challenge for the Europa League places but that may be a big ask.

Pendle Prediction – 12th Place.

 sunderlandSunderland

Players In – Jordi Gomez (free), Billy Jones (free), Patrick van Aanholt (undisclosed), Costel Pantilimon (free), Jack Rodwell (undisclosed).

Players Out – Phil Bardsley (free), Jack Colback (free), Carlos Cuellar (released), Andrea Dossena (released), Craig Gardner (free), Billy Knott (free), Louis Laing (free), Oscar Ustari (released), David Vaughan (released), Kieran Westwood (released), Ignacio Scocco (undisclosed).

Sunderland struggled in last season’s Premiership and if it wasn’t for the late rally of 4 wins and 1 draw in their last 6 games they would’ve gone down. Bringing in Gus Poyet as manager definitely changed the clubs fortunes as under Paulo di Canio they were certain for the drop.

All in all last season was one that many Sunderland fans will want to forget, but allowing players like Phil Bardsley, Jack Colback and Craig Gardner to all leave the club may prove to be a mistake and, with the exception of the hugely talented Jack Rodwell, the signings they have made aren’t the most exciting. Billy Jones has signed from West Brom to replace the exiting Bardsley, and it will be interesting to see if Jordi Gomez will be able to make a bigger impact than he did when he was with Wigan, Patrick van Aanholt, the former Chelsea player has been a regular for Vitesse on loan over the past two seasons, like Gomez he also has previous Premier League experience. The signing of Costel Pantilimon should be a good signing for the club, he will certainly be the first choice keeper for the club next year, but the question remains whether they can score enough goals to keep their place in the Premier League?

The Sunderland squad seems solid if unremarkable and their overall fortunes will rely greatly around the unrivalled team spirit that guided them to safety so dramatically at the end of last season.

If they can replicate that never say die attitude and maybe add another goal scoring threat to their squad The Black Cats could push further up the table, if not it could be another tense relegation battle for the Sunderland fans.

Pendle Prediction – 17th Place.

Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 3

Posted on: August 11th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to part 3 of the Pendle Sportswear Premier League preview blog. In this post we will be looking at the prospects for Liverpool, Man City, Man United & Newcastle. Let us know what you think by commenting on twitter and facebook

 liverpoolLiverpool

Players In – Emre Can (£10 mill), Adam Lallana (£25 mill), Rickie Lambert (£4 mill), Lazar Markovic (£20 mill), Dejan Lovren (£20 mill), Divock Origi (£10 mill), Javier Manquillo (loan)

Players Out – Luis Alberto (loan), Iago Aspas (loan), Luis Suarez (undisclosed), Andre Wisdom (loan)

Liverpool’s expectations going into last season were to try and break back into the top four, no one would’ve predicted the season they’d have. Finishing second in the league and fighting all the way to the final day. The big question is can they repeat that feat or even beat it?

Selling Luis Suarez looked inevitable after Barcelona came knocking. After the biting incident involving Giorgio Chiellini, some thought the transfer would be dead in the water, but Barcelona overlooked the extensive ban he received and still proceeded with the transfer. Who can blame them, despite the controversy, Suarez is one of the best finishers in the game. A fee of around £75 million is rumoured to be what was paid.

What will losing a player of that class mean for Liverpool? Spurs found it tough last season when they sold Gareth Bale and  Liverpool could be in the same boat. Signing Rickie Lambert seems a decent enough deal, they needed a new striker with or without Suarez, but they may still need more backup in that area otherwise Daniel Sturridge will have a lot of responsibility placed on him. Adam Lallana has been brought in for a hefty £25 million, he will add to their squad but he won’t make up for the loss of Suarez, equally Lazar Markovic and Emre Can for a combined £30 million help to increase the options that Rodgers will have to choose from, it will be interesting to see how they adapt and perform in the Premier League.

The signing of Dejan Lovren seems astute, he was one of a host of good players in the Southampton side last season and it’s no surprise that he has moved on to a bigger club.

The worry for Liverpool is that they will do what Spurs did last season and drop down the league after selling their best player, and unless they sign another world class striker that is likely to happen. Like Tottenham last season Liverpool have spent a lot of money on new players and so far have brought in 6 new signings for nearly £90 million, and if they keep this up they will end up being this season’s Spurs. Critics remain unconvinced they have brought in players that will improve on last season, they have however increased the options available in their squad as they will have more games this season due to European commitments, something they didn’t have to worry about last season.

Pendle Prediction – 5th Place.

  man cityManchester City

Players In – Willy Caballero (£6 mill), Fernando (£12 mill), Bacary Sagna (free), Bruno Zuculini (£1.5 mill).

Players Out – Gareth Barry (free), Joleon Lescott (free), Costel Pantilimon (free), Jack Rodwell (£10 mill)

Last season Man City were pushed all the way to the final day by Liverpool and most of the way by Chelsea, but came out on top and won their second Premier League title. Most of the talk over the summer was about whether Yaya Toure was going to stay around or leave, and after a couple of weeks of questions it seems he is now set to stay at the club, which will come as some relief to Man City fans as he is one of the clubs biggest and best players.

The signings of Fernando from Porto, Willy Caballero from Malaga and Bacary Sagna from Arsenal will all add to the size of the squad and mean that they will be able to look at fighting on all fronts this season and maybe challenge more for the Champions League. Eliaquim Mangala is also set to sign from Porto for £32 million and if that one goes through, I can’t see many teams beating them this season. Steven Jovetic will be hopeful he has overcome his injury plagued first season and add to the already impressive attacking line that Man city have. Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott and Costel Pantilimon have all moved on after becoming surplus to requirements at the club, but that is unlikely to be the last of the players leaving, with the signing on Sagna and the potential signing of Mangala it’s looking likely that Micah Richards will be leaving the club with a host of Premiership clubs interested in the English defender, and with the signing of Fernando, surely Javi Garcia days are numbered at the Premier League Champions.

With the signings that Manuel Pellegrini has already made and the signing of Mangala looking imminent,  City are unlikely to be doing much more in the transfer window this summer, the only place I think they may still look at is another centre back, but that would only be to replace Martin Demichelis if they choose to do so.

The current squad look strong enough to win back to back titles and really be a force in all competitions this season.

Pendle Prediction – 1st Place.

  man utdManchester United

Players In – Ander Herrera (£29 mill), Luke Shaw (£27 mill), Vanja Milinkovic (undisclosed)

Players Out – Ryan Giggs (retired), Jack Barmby (free), Bebe (£2.4 mill), Alexander Buttner (£5.6 mill), Patrice Evra (£1.2 mill), Rio Ferdinand (released), Federico Macheda (free), Nemanja Vidic (free).

After the worst season in the clubs Premiership history, Man Utd have employed Louis Van Gaal as their new manager. Van Gaal has been tasked with getting the club back to the top of the table where they were when Sir Alex Ferguson retired after the disappointing season they had under the leadership of David Moyes. He joins the club with a wealth of experience, 3 league titles with Ajax, 2 with Barcelona and a Champions League win, and a single title at both AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich, Van Gaal also guided the Netherlands to third place in this year’s FIFA World Cup. A lot will be expected of Van Gaal this season but the bonus for him is things couldn’t possibly get any worse than last season.

Ryan Giggs has retired after 24 seasons at the club but has stayed on as Van Gaal’s assistant manager, he could prove to be important in the dressing room this season.

There have been a few other big name departures from the club this summer, Rio Ferdinand has been released and subsequently joined QPR, Nemanja Vidic has joined Inter Milan on a free, while Patrice Evra as gone to Juventus for £1.2 million. Alexander Buttner has also left the club this summer and has been replaced by the young England star Luke Shaw, a lot will be expected of him coming to the club for such a big price, and the signing of Ander Herrera for nearly £30 million is a big statement of what Man Utd want to do this season.

The loss of both experienced centre backs will be a worry for United fans as at the moment they have Phil Jones, Chris Smalling or Johnny Evans as their only options at the back.

One of the things that was lacking from the United team under Moyes was the must win attitude that Ferguson pumped into his teams, as well as the fear factor of visiting Old Trafford which they didn’t seem to have under Moyes, but with Van Gaal in charge that is likely to return and United will once again be a major force in the Premier League.

Going forward United have a lot of fire power, and with the addition of Ander Herrera they should  be strong. At the back they seem to be lacking, they are yet to replace Vidic or Ferdinand and they are going to need to sort that out before the start of the season, They have already missed out on former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen but Daley Blind, who played for Van Gaal in the World Cup, is another target.

If they can find a suitable addition to their defensive ranks they will surely be in the top four.

Pendle Prediction – 4th Place.

 

 newcastle Newcastle United

Players In – Remy Caballa (undisclosed), Jack Colback (free), Siem De Jong (undisclosed), Daryl Janmaat (undisclosed), Ayoze Perez (undisclosed), Emmanuel Riviere (£5 mill), Facundo Ferreyra (loan), Karl Darlow (undisclosed), Jamaal Lascelles (undisclosed).

Players Out – Shola Ameobi (released), Dan Gosling (undisclosed), Mathieu Debuchy (£12 mill), Sylvain Marveaux (loan), Conor Newton (undisclosed), James Tavernier (undisclosed).

Newcastle endured a mixed season last season, losing their opening game 4-0 to Man City was not the way anyone wants to start but turned it around and finished the first half of the season in 8th place with a chance of European qualification. However, 13 loses in 19 games in the second half of the season saw them drop to 10th and they were lucky not to finish lower.

Newcastle have once again this year made a few signings in the hope that they can move up the table, Remy Caballa looks a good signing for them he is sure to add to the forward line and score some much needed goals, Jack Colback from bitter rivals Sunderland should also prove an astute piece of business, he is a solid central midfielder that will help the club when Cheick Tiote gets his usual suspensions throughout the season.

Daryl Janmaat has been brought in to replace Mathieu Debuchy who joined Arsenal this summer, the Dutch right back played in all five of Holland’s games in the World Cup.

Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere have also been added to the strike force which has been lacking in recent years, and with top scorer Loic Remy returning to QPR this summer they needed someone to replace his goals. There are still players in the squad that Newcastle will want to get off their wage bill, I think the days are numbered for players like Jonas Gutierrez, Gabriel Obertan, even Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa could all be show the door this summer after not performing last season.

This season could be a difficult one for Newcastle if their new signings fail once again, but a mid-table finish is likely to be what they will get. The new signings that have been brought in are good quality additions but they may need to reduce the amount of players on their books to make sure no unrest in the dressing room developments which is always a possibility with so many players not playing week in week out.

Pendle Prediction – 8th Place.

Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 2

Posted on: August 7th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to Part 2 of the Pendle Sportswear Premier League Preview Blog. In this post we will be assessing the chances of Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City & Leicester City. Let us know what you think by commenting on Facebook or Twitter

 palaceCrystal Palace

Players In – Chris Kettings (free), Fraizer Campbell (900,000), Brede Hangeland (free).

Players Out – Neil Alexander (released), Jose Campana (undisclosed), Kagisho Dikgacoi (free), Danny Gabbidon (released), Dean Moxey (released), Aaron Wilbraham (released).

After an impressive end to last season and an even more impressive 11th place finish, Crystal Palace will be hoping for more of the same at the start of the new season. Tony Pulis certainly got Palace playing in a way that caught out teams and stopped them playing their game, from the tactics that forced Chelsea to play through the middle when they were better going out wide and the unbelievable comeback against last season’s runners up, when they caught the reds on the break when Liverpool were chasing goals rather than just claiming the three points. Few could’ve predicted the turnaround in the way the team played, from losing 9 of their opening 11 games under the previous manager Ian Holloway. Holloway was sacked and Pulis was brought in, and their fortunes changed. This season we predict much of the same under Pulis, the team will be hard to break down at home and will be able to go away and grind out results. Another mid table finish is on the cards.

The signing of Fraizer Campbell is a good signing for them as they have been lacking a bit of fire power up front, but they may still need more. Palace were the third lowest scorers last season with only 33 goals scored, only Cardiff and Norwich scored less, Jason Puncheon and Dwight Gayle were the clubs top scorers last season with only 7 goals each and with just 5 coming from Marouane Chamakh, they definitely needed another striker. Despite the lack of goals the solidity of their back line was key for them under Pulis last season only conceding 48 goals in 38 games with 21 of those coming under Holloway in the opening 11 games.

This season will be tough for Palace to repeat the feat from last season but with a little bit of investment up front they could match if not beat what they achieved last season. The squad on the whole isn’t very big so a few more Premiership quality signings could see them even pushing for the top half this year, but it all depends on who Pulis can bring in to bulk up the squad.

Pendle Prediction – 13th Place.

 evertonEverton

Players In – Gareth Barry (free), Muhamed Besic (£4 mill), Brendan Galloway (undisclosed), Romelu Lukaku (£28 mill).

Players Out – Magaye Gueye (released), Apostolos Vellios (released).

Everton enjoyed a successful first season under Roberto Martinez, finishing in 5th place just outside the Champions League places but above Man Utd and Tottenham. This season it may prove more difficult for them to finish in that 5th place, Martinez has definitely got Everton playing better football than they did under David Moyes but with both Utd and Spurs employing new managers and making some solid signings I’m not sure if they can finish higher than them both again.

Everton so far have been quiet in this transfer window and they are going to need to start spending to compete with the best. The capture of Gareth Barry permanently is a good signing for them he was one of their star players in last season’s success adding solidity to their midfield, and the signing of the 21 year old Besic will add to the size of the squad they have, as they will also be competing in the Europa league this year. Gerard Deulofeu returns to Barcelona after a successful loan last season his style of play, pace and skill will be missed this season unless they can replace him, but with last season’s top scorer Romelu Lukaku signing permanently from Chelsea after his impressive loan, 15 goals in 31 games and 9 assists last season, he will definitely give Everton a chance of competing for 4th place.

With the additional games of the Europa League this season, Everton may need to bulk the squad to be able to compete with the extra games and all the travelling. They could be in for a tougher season than last time out and a finish higher than 7th would be a great achievement. The signing of Lukaku on a permanent deal is going to be vital for them, if they can get him playing the way he was last season they will be in with a shout.

Pendle Prediction – 7th Place.

 HullHull City

Players In – Tom Ince (compensation to be agreed), Jake Livermore (£8 mill), Robert Snodgrass (£7 mill), Harry Maguire (£2.5 mill), Andrew Robertson (£2.85 mill).

Players Out – Abdoulaye Faye (released), Matty Fryatt (free), Robert Koren (released), Cameron Stewart (released).

Hull City struggled in the league at the end of last season, dropping from 12th to 16th in the final 6 games, despite this drop relegation was never a worry. This drop in form at the end may have been due to the two trips to Wembley they managed, beating Sheffield United in the Semi-final guaranteed them Europe next season and another appearance at Wembley but they narrowly lost to Arsenal in the Final of the F.A. Cup.

As with Everton, Hull are likely to struggle to cope with the amount of fixtures they will have, if they manage to qualify for the Europa League group stage. The five signings that Hull have made already will help with this workload, Jake Livermore, who was on loan last season, has signed permanently and the introduction of Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince will prove more width and more attacking threat going forward, Harry Maguire has been added as another centre back and Andrew Robertson from Dundee United joins the squad.

Hull’s season, for me, revolves around a few different things this season. Firstly, how far they get and who they get drawn against in the Europa League, Everyone wants to play in Europe, but having to travel to the far reaches of Europe isn’t worth your Premier League place. Secondly, they need to make sure the partnership of Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic continues to prosper, the two of them are great assets for a team like Hull and they will need them both to be on form this season. Thirdly, the midfield, Tom Huddlestone was again a great signing for Hull, the vision he has and his passing ability is vital for Hull to get the strikers scoring. With the addition of Snodgrass and Ince on the wings, if they can hit the ground running they could be in the top half of the table. Finally they need to dip further into the transfer market. Another centre back is needed, Michael Dawson from has been touted as a potential signing and I think Dawson for his experience, will help them cope with the extra fixtures.

Pendle Prediction – 10th Place.

 LeicesterLeicester City

Players In – Marc Albrighton (free), Matthew Upson (free), Leonardo Ulloa (£8 mill), Jack Hamer (free), Jack Barmby (free)

Players Out – Zak Whitbread (released), Sean St. Ledger (released), Neil Danns (released), Lloyd Dyer (released), Kevin Philips (retired)

Leicester City return to the Premiership after 10 years in the second and third tier of English football. Last season’s Champions stormed the league finishing up with 102 points, 9 points clear of second place Burnley, but this could prove to be a tough season for the Foxes and they will be reliant on last year’s good home form to keep their heads above water.

Leicester’s new signings have divided opinion so far in this window. £8 million for Leonardo Ulloa  seems a large sum for a striker with no Premier League experience, but if he can keep up his scoring rate of a goal every two games then it will prove to be a good buy for them, his goals could be the difference between success and failure for the Foxes. The addition of Matthew Upson to the squad will add Premier League experience, but the former England international is now 35 years of age and whether he is still able to cut at the top level remains to be seen. The signing of Marc Albrighton on a free should be a great signing for the club, it was a surprise to see that Aston Villa had released him and he could well prove be a standout player for Leicester this season.

Simlar to Burnley, this season is likely to be a struggle for Leicester. A lot of Leicester’s season will depend on how Albrighton can play and whether Ulloa, David Nugent and Luke Vardy can score the goals they need. They will probably need to bring in some more, experienced Premiership players to help them out this season, if they can do that they might have a chance of getting out of the bottom three, but as it stands survival seems unlikely.

Pendle Prediction – 19th Place.