Summer Move To Bayern Could Prove Too Tempting For Dembele And Celtic

I knew Moussa Dembele would stay at Celtic beyond the January transfer window and I was thinking he’d actually make it into a second season at Parkhead.

I think the young striker is well grounded and isn’t all about the money. So a move to the English Premier League to a club that isn’t going to guarantee him a lot of first-team football or to a mid-table side wouldn’t really float his boat.

But today, reports suggest that German giants Bayern Munich could make a move for the hitman in the summer and are ready to offer £30m for his services.

That particular suitor could worry Celtic fans and their gaffer Brendan Rodgers.

See Bayern are a top, top club (In an Alan McInally voice). Unlike the likes of Chelsea and Man United, they won’t splash that kind of cash on a player that won’t be ready for their first team.

Dembele wouldn’t just walk straight into the first eleven but there will be a route into the starting line-up and he will be given plenty of chances to prove himself.

The Celtic star will look at the impact fellow French youngster Kingsley Coman had at Bayern in his debut season and believe he could replicate that success. Coman hasn’t had the best time of it this term but he has been out for a few months with a knee injury.

One thing Dembele would probably have to do is adapt his game and maybe embrace a wider role.

Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are both in their mid-thirties now and obviously that means that they then suffer from more injures and need more rest time. So that could be a route into the first team.

I think when you look at Dembele’s short career so far, you can see by the way he plays and the fact he’s played in a two or up-top by himself, that he’ll be happy to learn in Munich and play in a different role if asked.

Now Robert Lewandowski is the main man when it comes to Bayern strikers at the moment. But they don’t really have a natural replacement that offers something different.

Thomas Muller can play in the role but the German international often looks out of place as a central striker and gives more options on the right or playing in behind his Polish teammate Lewandowski.

Coman is another who can play through the middle but he’s not as convincing in there as Dembele would be.

So with ‘Der FCB’ playing so many games in a season, it might make sense to bring in another forward to add completion and be there when Robert Lewandowski needs a rest or picks up an injury.

All in all it could be a great move for Dembele.

Why would Bayern want Him?

Well he has pace, determination and has a keen eye for goal.

He showed in the Champions League games against Borussia Monchengladbach and Man City, that he has the ability to cause problems against Europe’s elite.

In Scotland he has been in sensational form for most of this season. He has bagged thirteen league goals and created five assists in twenty-three appearances (15 starts). In all competitions he has amassed twenty-four strikes in thirty-four fixtures.

in his three Old Firm encounters this term, Dembele has relished the occasion and scored five times. That included a wonderful hat-trick in his Old Firm debut.

His form has seen him receive a call-up for the French under-21s and he’s made that step-up with ease, scoring four goals in four games. That has led to speculation that Didier Deschamps is ready to have a look at him by calling him into senior Les Bleus squad.

So why would Celtic sell him?

Well firstly I can only imagine that when signing the player, they assured him that they would sell him for the right price to a club that he’d like to sign for. So it could be up to him when he leaves.

Plus let’s not forget that £30m would be a huge deal for Celtic, the current highest transfer fee received at the Glasgow club is £13m!

Say they give Brendan Rodgers 60% or 70% of that fee then he would have around £18m-£21m to spend on enhancing his squad and getting them back into the Champion League group stages next season and possibly fighting for a last sixteen spot.

Celtic know that the bigger leagues in Europe are trying to squeeze the other sides out of the competition. So if they can bring in signings that can help cause a few upsets in Europe, it might show the elite that a strong Celtic can compete in the Champions League.

Rodgers has already stated that he believes the Hoops are at a stage where they can break their own transfer record (£6m) soon. With the Dembele cash they could easily double that record with the right player.

Rodgers stated:

“But we need players who want to take Celtic forward. Whether they are a million quid, £6million, £7million or whatever, the club know I will bring that to them.”

That deal would also allow Brendan to keep everyone else at the club, in particular Kieran Tierney.

Undoubtably they would miss the striking instincts of Moussa Dembele but if they can spend that cash wisely then they’d have a better squad ready for a Champions League challenge.

It’s important to emphasise that Celtic won’t be actively trying to sell their star striker. It will be for a huge fee and only to a club that the player sees as being the right side for him.

So don’t be surprised if he stays on at Celtic Park beyond this season, it all depends on who comes in for him. I’d imagine that the lure of Bayern Munich would be too good an opportunity for Dembele to turn down and a £30m fee would probably be very acceptable to the Celtic board.

Would Man United Accept Fifth Place If They Could Win Unique Treble?

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side have looked pretty good in 2o17.

They’ve already reached the League Cup final, they have one foot in the Europa League’s last sixteen and are a win away from an FA Cup quarter-final place.

United are also just two points away from Premier League’s top four, which would see them qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Champions League qualification is a priority for the Red Devils this term but Mourinho and the United faithful love winning silverware.

So that got me thinking would United fans be Ok with their team finishing outside of the top four, if it meant that they’d finish the season with the three trophies in the cabinet?

As Man Utd continue to fight on four fronts, they’ll find themselves in the middle of a heaving fixture list.

We already know that Jose likes winning the League Cup, the Portuguese boss sees it as a springboard to better things as it gets his players in the mood for more silverware! As they’re already in the final, then you cannot imagine that he’ll rest too many for that one.

The United manager has also talked up the FA Cup this week. He believes too many foreign coaches and bigger sides don’t give the competition the credit it’s tradition deserves.

He stated:

“If I lose, I lose because the opponent was better or because we didn’t play well, but I’m not going to throw it away.”

“We try to go serious. I like Wembley, I like the FA Cup, so I have to try to get the second one.”

So while I’d expect some changes in his team to face Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup this weekend, I seriously doubt he’ll make wholesale changes or flood his team with youngsters like Fergie has done in the past.

Obviously it helps to have a strong squad and that you can bring in World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger, veteran winger Ashley Young and England international striker Marcus Rashford.

I would imagine Jose and his backroom staff will look at United second leg in Europe as the ideal opportunity to rest as many first team regulars as he’d dare. They take a 3-0 lead to France and will already be looking beyond Saint-Etienne.

But the Europa League could actually be the main objective for Man United this season, especially if they slip up in the league. That’s because winning UEFA’s second continental club competition would see United automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League, in essence winning the Europa League is actually better than finishing the Premier League campaign in fourth place!

Jose and his players would love nothing more than getting strong first leg victories in the Europa League as it could give certain players an opportunity to have a game off. But as they get closer to the final, the opposition will get tougher and an away draw in the first leg could also prove problematic.

Winning breeds confidence, so Manchester United certainly won’t take their eye off the league, that would be calamitous but I really do believe that the Man Utd hierarchy, the manager and the fans wouldn’t mind missing out on a top four spot as long as they could win the other three competitions, especially the Europa League.

Then Jose would add a few extra stars to his pool and he’ll have a squad of winners ready to challenge for the major titles next season.

Five Bosses That Could Replace Arsene Wenger At Arsenal!

After Arsenal capitulated in Munich last night, talk once again turned to Arsene Wenger with many believing the Frenchman’s time is up.

The Gunners manager has previously stated that he’ll make a decision on his future in the summer, while the Arsenal board have confirmed that a two year contract offer remains on the table.

But with the side still making the same mistakes and struggling to compete in the Champions League and challenge for the Premier League title, the time could be right for Wenger to say au revoir to the Gunners after serving over twenty years at the club.

If this is indeed the beginning of the end, then who can come in and replace the Arsenal legend?

Well here are five men that might just be in the frame:

MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI 

The current Juventus coach seems to have a golden touch.

He managed to win his first Serie A with an ageing AC Milan side in 2011. He would then takeover at Juve from Antonio Conte and has won two Italian league titles in a row plus two Coppa Italia trophies. Currently enjoys a 70% win ratio with the Vecchia Signora.

The forty-nine year old has also done well in the Champions League, guiding them to the final in 2015 before losing to Barcelona. Has managed to do well in replacing top talents like Andrea Pirlo, Alvaro Morata and Paul Pogba and maintaining success.

His team are well drilled and disciplined, traits Arsenal have been missing as of late.

Would be an ideal candidate, especially if he can replicate Conte’s success in England.

But would he want to leave Juve?

Recently he had this to say about his future:

“I hope there are another 300 or 400 games as I am happy at Juventus,”

Best odds on him being the new Arsenal manager are priced at 5/1.

EDDIE HOWE

Wenger clearly admires Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and his managerial qualities. He showed his trust in Howe by loaning him Jack Wilshere for the season last summer.

The young Englishman would buck the trend if he managed to get the Gunners job as the top English sides prefer to recruit foreign coaches.

Howe has managed to take AFC Bournemouth from League One to the Premier League and they’ve done that with a nice attacking style. He also on the LMA manager of the year award in 2015.

The thirty-nine year old is driven and clearly ambitious, so you’d imagine that he’d jump at the chance to manage Arsenal. For Howe, it’s all about the team pulling together and getting the best from everyone.

Confident in himself and his ideas, he’s also a player friendly boss and able to deal with the media without much fuss.

Certainly the best option out there if Arsenal are looking for a homegrown coach. But Eddie Howe has to make sure that the Cherries stay clear of a relegation battle this term.

Best odds on him being the new Arsenal manager are priced at 11/2.

PATRICK VIEIRA

The current New York City FC manager knows everything there is to know about Arsenal. The former Gunners midfielder captained the side and helped them to three league titles and four FA Cups.

Many have stated that one of Arsene’s biggest mistakes has been the fact that he could never find someone to replace Vieira, who left in 2005.

Has a 40% win ratio in his only year in charge in the Big Apple and managed big names like Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa.

Still extremely inexperienced as a manager, he only had a short spell as Man City’s reserve team coach before his move to America.

Would be viewed as a sentimental appointment and will only be considered if the Arsenal board want to replace a legend with another club icon.

Best odds on him being the new Arsenal manager are priced at 16/1.

LEONARDO JARDIM 

Arsene Wenger made his managerial name at AS Monaco and their current gaffer could now be catching Arsenal’s eye.

Jardim has already tasted success at the Emirates, after his Monaco side defeated Arsenal 3-1in the Champions League back in 2015. He also guided his team to victories home and away against Gooner rivals  Tottenham Hotspur this season.

Monaco are currently leading the Ligue 1 championship and are still in the Champions League, that is a great feat for Jardim. His side like to attack, he has no problem playing youngsters and getting the best out of them.

Unlike Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal, Leonardo has managed to get Radamel Falcao up and scoring again.

He might only be forty-two years old but he’s already been a manager for over a decade. Before Monaco, he also enjoyed stints at Olympiacos and Sporting Lisbon.

Best odds on him being the new Arsenal manager are priced at 14/1.

DIEGO SIMEONE 

The Argentine has had great success upsetting the odds and ruffling plenty of feathers since becoming a manager in 2006.

More pragmatic than other candidates, Simeone demands results. He has created a wonderful CV at Atletico Madrid where he’s managed to compete against Real Madrid and Barcelona.

At the Vicente Calderón he has managed to secure one La Liga title, a Copa del Rey and two Champions League final appearances. Currently has an impressive win ratio of 62%.

While he does make defences strong and efficient, Diego is also able to get more from his forwards and make sure that they work for the team. A player like Alexis Sanchez would be ideal in a Simeone team!

Atleti haven’t been quite as strong this term and you get the feeling Simeone could be ready to leave and try his luck elsewhere.

The Argentine took the unusual step of shortening his contract and is due to depart in the summer of 2018. It could be quite possible for him to leave beforehand if the right job became available.

I’d imagine he’d love a move to England and challenge the likes of Mourinho, Pochettino, Conte, Guardiola and Klopp.

Best odds on him being the new Arsenal manager are priced at 25/1.

(All odds taken at time of writing)

Man City Should Be Targeting Monaco Duo

AS Monaco have been extremely impressive so far this term, they are currently leading Ligue 1 and they have also reached the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Next week they’ll take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in Europe’s elite club competition. I think Pep could view the tie as an ideal opportunity to look at opposing players that could improve his squad for next season as he looks to build on this term and challenge for the Premier League title.

Two standout performers for Monaco this season have been Fabinho and Thomas Lemar. Both could enhance the City squad next season.

I’d imagine that Pep will offload a few players from his own pool in the summer and that would free up room for new recruits.

I think the likes of Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya Toure, Nolito, Fabian Delph and Jesus Navas will think that their time at the Etihad might be coming to an end. I also don’t think that returning loanees Samir Nasri, Wilfried Bony and Eliaquim Mangala have much chance of a return to City’s first team squad either.

So what would Thomas Lemar and Fabinho offer City if they were to arrive in Manchester this summer? 

Well firstly both are very versatile talents and we know Pep loves the option to move his players around.

Guardiola has a penchant for moving full-backs into midfield roles, well Brazilian international Fabinho has already made that transition. He can play as a right-back but this season he’s been superb in ASM’s midfield. He likes a tackle, gets amongst the goals and is confident enough to step up and take penalties. He also has a very energetic style and is strong on the ball.

Fabinho is also a smart player, that’s why he can play in various positions and not look out place. His positioning and understanding is another quality that will no doubt attract Pep.

The Brazilian has just put pen to paper on a new deal with Monaco but that could just be a case of the club protecting their investment. Fabinho’s dad recently came out and said that both Manchester clubs were interested in his lad but intimated that he’d prefer a move to City:

“We like Manchester United and the work of Mourinho, but we have a little soft spot for City,”

“have a soft spot for Manchester City.”

In Lemar’s case, he’s an attacker who can play on either wing or in the hole behind the frontman. His impressive form this term has earned him his first cap for Les Bleus.

This season the left-footer has picked up ten goals and six assists in thirty appearances. A fine set-piece specialist who seems to prefer to start out on the left but is equally adept when out on the right. A superb dribbler, who likes to get the ball into the box as quickly as possible.

Lamar’s outing at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League and in the return game in Monaco, showed that the English defences don’t intimidate the small creative force in the slightest.

His contract talks seem to have stalled and it has been reported that Monaco would look at receiving at least £30m for the winger.

Both players are under twenty-four and you’d imagine that they would arrive and soak up everything Guardiola has to teach them. They are already extremely talented footballers and you can only imagine that they’ll get even better with more experience under their belts.

Certainly two that will be on Pep’s radar this summer but before any big transfers can be examined, the Manchester City boss has to stop the pair in the Champions League!

Four Possible FC Barcelona Managers

As FC Barcelona boss you know a 4-0 defeat in Europe will get people talking about your position.

So as the referee signalled the end of the game last night, with PSG thumping Barca at the Parc des Princes, the Catalan giant’s coach Luis Enrique must have known that speculation would be rife about his future.

The coach’s contract runs out in the summer and there has been tension between him and his players in the past, that seemed to reappear in Paris.

The club’s squad needs a rebuilding job, with the defence and midfield needing new faces to freshen things up. It could be for the best that a new manager walks in and takes up that particular task.

With that in mind, here are four bosses that could attract Los Culés:

RONALD KOEMAN 

The Dutchman is a legend at the Camp Nou and has made no secret of the fact that he’d want to mange the club at some point during his career.

Koeman knows all there is to know about the Catalan club and worked under the great Johan Cruyff, which is a link that always works well with the Barca support.

Impressed at Southampton and has done a fine job at Everton this season. The Barcelona hierarchy will have no doubt noticed how Ronald’s Toffees humiliated Pep Guardiola’s Man City last month.

It might not be the best time for him to leave Goodison but would he really turn down the dream of managing FC Barcelona? I doubt it!

His current odds to become the next FC Barcelona manager are priced at 5/1.

JORGE SAMPAOLI 

If there was an international side that best resembled Barca’s footballing philosophy then I’d go for Chile. Jorge Sampaoli managed the South American nation between December 2012 and January 2016.

Jorge would guide Chile to the round of last sixteen in the World Cup in 2014 and then to their first ever Copa America title in 2015. He ended his La Rioja spell with a 62% win ratio.

His sides play with an energetic, exciting style that likes to press high up the park. Those attributes will certainly endear him to the Barca faithful.

This season has seen him arrive in La Liga as Sevilla’s new head coach. They are currently in third place and just two points behind Enrique’s Barcelona. His Sevilla side defeated current La Liga leaders Real Madrid in January and are also still in the Champions League.

Has stated previously that he’d like to manage compatriot Lionel Messi at some stage:

“To coach Messi is still a wish although it doesn’t depend on me.”

His current odds to become the next FC Barcelona manager are priced at 2/1.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO 

Pochettinho has history in La Liga, having played for and managed Espanyol during his career.

Has taken a lot of his philosophies from his mentor Marcelo Biesla, who himself was once a managerial candidate for Barca, but unlike Bielsa the Tottenham boss has also instilled defensive discipline into his sides. That strong defensive organisation in the current Spurs side could attract Barcelona as the defence has always been seen as their weakness.

A manager that trusts younger players and who has no problem promoting players from his club’s youth set-up. Much has been made of La Masia but have enough came through in recent seasons? Poch could help to change that.

The forty-four year old may not be a perfect fit due to his strong links to Espanyol, Barcelona’s other side.

His current odds to become the next FC Barcelona are priced at 14/1.

FRANK DE BOER 

Another Dutchman with strong links to the Camp Nou, having made 215 appearances for FC Barcelona. Previous Dutch managers; Johan Cruyff, Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard have all had success with the La Liga giants.

De Boer enjoyed managerial success at Ajax, helping the Amsterdam club to four Eredivisie titles. Many throughout Europe were impressed with the way he would set-up his side.

He would leave the Dutch side in May 2016 and join Inter Milan a few weeks before this current season started. His time in Italy didn’t last long, he was sacked after just four months in charge at the San Siro. He has since said that he’d have been better off not joining a side without having a full preseason to get his ideas across.

His failed tenure at Inter won’t necessarily deter Barca from appointing him, Luis Enrique also had a poor time of it in Italy at Roma before becoming the Barcelona boss.

He’s young and will no doubt be hungry to prove himself once again. Also has a fantastic playing CV and that will impress the Barca stars.

His current odds to become the next FC Barcelona are priced at 12/1.

Marco Verratti Would Be Ideal Replacement For Carrick At Man United

Forget all the chat about Manchester United chasing Antoine Greizmann, what they really need to do is replace Michael Carrick.

Carrick has been a fine servant for the Red Devils and Jose Mourinho’s side have looked superior this term with him playing in the middle of the park.

But alas time isn’t on the side of the England midfielder, he’ll be turning thirty-six in July.

Much like with Paul Scholes before him, United have really struggled to bring in an able replacement.

Morgan Schneiderlin struggled to make an impact and has since left to join Everton. Bastian Schweinsteiger doesn’t look up to the rigours of full time football. Marouane Fellaini isn’t disciplined enough to make that role his own. While Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera seem better when they’ve got more license to push up a bit and have Carrick in behind them!

I thought Jose would move heaven and earth to try and capture N’Golo Kante last summer but that didn’t happen.

Recently United have been heavily linked with AS Monaco middle-man Tiemoué Bakayoko. The French U-21 international is certainly a talent and if Jose wants a strong tackler then a move for Bakayoko could make a lot of sense.

But if you’re looking for a direct replacement for Carrick then I’d suggest United move for Marco Verratti.

I was discussing this issue with football writer Andrew Gibney last week, and Verratti ticks a lot of boxes for me.

He’s a majestic deep-laying playmaker, who has wonderful vision to create a stunning pass. He’s more in the model of an Xavi or a Pirlo but those two were superb holding midfielders in their time.

I remember the first time I saw Verratti, he was playing for the Italian under-21s against Scotland’s under-21s. At that time he was still playing for Pescara in Serie B but Marco looked like a king amongst men. He would constantly look around him and see things that other players couldn’t even imagine. No one on the park could touch him and the Scottish lads just couldn’t stop him running the game.

Now while he’s a world-class architect, who like Carrick will provide ammunition from deeper positions, Verratti can also do the defensive work too. He may have Pirlo’s vision but he also has Rino Gattuso’s tenacity. He can put his foot in and make a challenge but he’s also quite adept at swarming an opposing player and tempt them into making a mistake.

Marco also boasts good close-control and composure when on the ball. Having that from a holding midfielder gives others around him confidence that they’ll not lose the ball. His average passing success rate this term this season has been 88%. It’s always the sign of a good player if they are constantly looking for the ball and happy to pick it up from his backline, Verratti is such a player.

He’s also a midfielder who likes to dictate the play and have things going at his pace.

Against FC Barcelona last night, Marco Verratti showed off his full repertoire. He would slow things down when he felt his side needed a breather, he kept his passes clean and made some vital challenges that won his side the ball back. Marco also managed to surge forward and set up Julian Draxler for his goal.

His individual performance was fantastic but it wasn’t totally unexpected. Some of us have been banging his drum for a while now.

So if I were Jose Mourinho I’d be bugging the hell out of my board to get this man to Old Trafford.

But it won’t be an easy deal to conclude.

Firstly you have to get PSG to agree to a transfer. That won’t be a formality, they know his worth to their squad and it’s not as if they are short of cash.

You also have to hope that the player himself wants to leave Paris.

Reports differ on this issue. Some have said that he wants to leave in the hope of challenging for the Champions League. Plus he’s been in the French capital for the last five years and might just fancy a change.

But then again PSG have just battered the mighty Barcelona 4-0 in the Champions League and have a coach known for his successes in European competitions. His wish to challenge for such an illustrious title could be well served by staying exactly where he is.

The Italian international recently came out and stated:

‘I’m pleased to attract interest from the big clubs, but I don’t want to change,’

You would then have to believe that he wouldn’t be short of suitors.

As a young player he was linked constantly with a move to Juventus and to eventually take Pirlo’s spot. That would’ve undoubtedly happened had it not been for the Qatari moneymen at PSG. Juve would jump at the chance to sign such an accomplished homegrown talent. As they proved with the Gonzalo Higuian last summer, the Italian champions can spend big on desired signings.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is a huge fan of Verratti’s having worked with the player when he was the manager of Italy. He’d be extremely interested in working with him again if he could persuade Marco to swap Paris for London!

Then you have his opponents from last night. That result showed us that Barca are in need of new faces and players that can spark something better. Verratti would be seen as the natural replacement for Xavi, who quit the Catalan giants in 2015.

Now Man United certainly have the clout, the manager and the cash to go toe to toe with any potential rival for Verratti’s signature but they would still lose out if they cannot guarantee him Champion League football.

You’ve got to imagine that that’s one criteria Marco Verratti will insist upon before moving away from PSG, where he’s almost certain of Champions League exposure every season.

That one detail may hinder Manchester United a lot this summer if they can’t break into the Premier League’s top four this season or win the Europa League.

Juan Mata Keeps Proving Doubters Wrong At Man United

Juan Mata must have wondered about his Manchester United future when Jose Mourinho walked through the doors at Old Trafford.

His sense of deja-vu must have been in overdrive as he was subbed off by his manager during the Community Shield, his boss had just hauled him off despite him only appearing as a sub in the first place.

This was the same Jose Mourinho that had given Mata the boot at Chelsea, despite the Spaniard winning the club’s player of the year title two years in a row.

The two seemingly couldn’t co-exist and it appeared that Mata would have to make do with a move to either Atletico Madrid or Everton.

But Juan stuck it out and showed a hunger to do well for Man United. His willingness to adapt and work for the team has been rewarded by Jose, who has given the attacking midfielder plenty of game time.

Now while plenty of observers will talk up the performances of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Henrikh Mkhitaryan, they often overlook the abilities of Mata.

The Spanish maestro is doing a fine job on the right-wing or in the hole behind Zlatan. He provides a calmness in the side, which can be helpful if some of those around him are going full pelt all the time.

No one in the United squad has been able to better his 90% passing success rate. He also has the gift of seeing moves before they develop, so he can make fine through balls or start exciting counter attacks. His vision to create things and his ability to pick out a passes are great qualities in a set-piece taker.

Mata has made twenty league appearances out of twenty-five so far this term, it shows that Jose and Juan have been able to work together. Mourinho will appreciate Mata’s versatility and ability to keep possession.

But the most important thing for the United boss has been his midfielders desire to work for the team and adapt.

Jose said as much after his sides 2-0 win over Watford:

‘Mata has adapted to the football I want to play. I knew since the beginning he would be an important player,’

The creative star has also helped his side’s cause by netting six times in the league. He’s also a player for the bigger games as he’s demonstrated in the past against the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool.

Mata’s ability to find space is his biggest asset to the side, in my opinion. He has a great footballing brain that allows him to move out pf position and interchange seamlessly with other creative forces like Pogba or Mkhitaryan, that fluidity bamboozles defences and creates openings for the team.

Mata has proven a lot of his doubters wrong, none more so than his current manager, but are we actually watching the final chapter at Old Trafford?

It will be interesting to see what happens to Manchester United this summer. You’ve got to imagine that Jose Mourinho will want to add to his squad.

The arrival of French forward Antoine Greizmann could happen this summer if reports are to be believed. If the Atletico man were to arrive then that would cast doubts over the futures of Mata as well as club captain Wayne Rooney. I think one would have to go and it might be easier to offload the Spaniard.

Juan Mata certainly deserves a lot of plaudits for his desire and performances this term. He faced up to perceived adversity and managed to keep his place in the Man United team.

Whether he stays beyond the summer is the next big question that will to be addressed.

By Eck! Alex McLeish Would Be A Good Stop Gap At Rangers

Close the gap on an all conquering Celtic side, Alex McLeish already has that on his CV.

The former Rangers boss has once again been linked with the Gers manager’s job with Mark Warburton vacating the post late last week, with many in the media speculating that Alex could come in as an interim coach. This would give the board time to get things in place for a new regime to take charge in the summer.

It certainly seems to make sense. Alex, as he has previously stated, is a ‘Rangers man‘. He’s a manager who knows what the job entails and the pressures and expectations that comes along with it.

He can be a bit of a pragmatic gaffer but surely that’s what Rangers need at the moment as they chase down second place and try and stop Celtic from clinching a domestic treble.

Yes the Govan side are in a mess but the team he inherited, back in 2001, were also in a sorry state. But in his first spell in charge he managed to turn things around and get the club going in the right direction.

Now obviously there are some differences between the two eras, back then he had some cash to spend and he had a better calibre of player to choose from. But in truth, this current Gers squad aren’t actually bad, they just need focus and work more on the basics.

You would give McLeish the remainder of the season to steady the ship and try and reach the objection of finishing in second place. I’d imagine he would also be given the task to deem who is worthy of the jersey and who should depart come the summer.

At the same time, the Rangers board will need to get to work and find the best long-term solution. They need to cast the net far and wide, in the search of a new full-time boss. I wouldn’t rule out McLeish from getting it but they can’t dither on the decision.

I’ve no idea why they’ve not hired a Director of Football before now, but I think they need to make that another priority appointment. I would urge them to forget about an old boys act and not hire a former manager. They are better off going for someone who has a good history in football administration and with a decent recruitment record.

The Gers board also need to get a credible scouting network on the go. It’s ridiculous that they’ve basically left everything up to two men to do the scouting and recruiting. The club need to resemble a properly functioning football business again.

The only way to really close the gap on Celtic, is by forward planning (especially if you cannot match them financially). You need to get the whole club working together and to the same plan. It has to be about getting the best from your academy, scouting and recruiting young talented hungry players that will add value and more importantly improve your squad. Plus you need to drill it into your first team that at Rangers the demands are simple.. You need to win and it doesn’t need to be pretty!

In that regard Alex McLeish might be a good starting block in which to build from, as he’s has a track record of doing it before.

Jose Is Right Chelsea Will Win Premier League Title With Strong Defence

“Chelsea are very good defensive team,” 

“They defend very well and with lots of players and I think in this situation a very defensive team wins the title with counterattack goals and set pieces goals so I don’t think they will let it slip but football is football.”

This was an assessment from current Manchester United and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. I actually think it’s a pretty fair assessment, although it doesn’t fully explain the situation at Chelsea this season.

Now I can see why it would initially upset Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, he’ll obviously view it as Jose playing some mind-games and in that regard he’s probably right as Mourinho always has more than one reason to state such soundbites.

But if you look past all the shenanigans, you could say that Jose knows more than most about winning titles no matter what. Surely the only thing that actually matters is winning the Premier League title and Chelsea have put themselves firmly in the driving seat in this campaign.

Chelsea and Conte struggled in the early periods of the season, as the coach tried different systems and personnel. Nothing seemed to really click and after they were humbled 3-0 at the Emirates in late September many thought Conte was fighting a losing battle.

The defence in particular weren’t up to the job and something needed to change.

So Antonio decided to revert to a three man defence, a system that gave him positive results in the past at both Juventus and with the Italian national side. The change in formation worked fantastically well and it was an instant hit.

After that loss to Arsenal, Chelsea would go on and win their next thirteen league games. In that run they defeated fellow challengers Tottenham and Manchester City. They also thumped Mourinho’s United team 4-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Also within that run, Chelsea’s new look defence managed to keep ten clean-sheets. Now I’m sorry but if winning thirteen games in a row and keeping ten clean-sheets in the process makes you a defensive outfit then I am all for defensive football!

Now both Man United and Chelsea have each played twenty-five Premier League matches so far this term. Chelsea have won six games more than United. No team in the league has conceded fewer than the Blues eighteen tally, interestingly Man Utd have only conceded three more!

In the goals for column, only Arsenal and Liverpool (54 goals) have scored more than Chelsea (52). While Jose’s Man Utd team have only notched up thirty-eight goals.

In terms of forward play, Diego Costa has been extremely impressive with his all-round game as well as his fifteen league strikes. Eden Hazard is once again one of the Premier League’s best creative forces. Conte has also managed to get more from Pedro, a player who seemed to struggle under Mourinho last term.

Yes David Luiz has looked good, I’ve already stated this year that Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of the players of the season and I think we can all agree that N’Golo Kante is a defensive phenomenon!

But that doesn’t mean that the Blues attack haven’t played their part this season and it certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a negative thing.

It’s funny how some in football have a snobbery when it comes to so-called ‘defensive tactics’. There’s an art to defending and it can be majestic to see a wonderfully crafted counter-attack goal.

I’ll leave you with this bombshell… Jose Mourinho would love to see his team play like Chelsea and be in the same position as them in the league. It will also annoy the hell out of him that Antonio Conte has got so much out of the same players that failed Jose last season.

I look at Mourinho’s words and I see a bit of honesty, a grudging respect and also a hint of jealousy in there too. Importantly I don’t see it derailing this Chelsea side in the slightest!

Mark Warburton Couldn’t Realise Rangers Potential After Promising Start

Mark Warburton impressed when he first arrived at Rangers. He was a clear communicator and was a man with a plan!

The Englishman stated that he wanted to bring through the club’s youngsters, he wanted to establish a ball retention style of football that would excite the Gers supporters and only wanted to bring in players that would offer more to the team and have a re-sale value.

Warburton would enjoy the majority of his debut season in charge and he was rewarded with a new deal at the end of it.

But it hasn’t worked out for him this term.

The knives were out before last night’s announcement that Warburton, his assistant David Weir and head of recruitment Frank McParland had all resigned from their duties.

The Gers fans had already become pretty disillusioned with their manager.

It was clear that he was too stubborn with his tactical ideas. Quite a few Premiership sides and found ways of getting around the Rangers possession style, they knew there was a lack of a killer instinct.

Warburton failed to grasp that at Ibrox a win was more important than the style in which the team played. Yes the fans enjoy good football but not at the cost of all three points!

It’s ironic but I believe that the rot started to set in straight after Rangers famously defeated Old Firm foes Celtic in last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final. It’s where Mark peaked as Gers boss but after that, things started to collapse around him.

After winning the Championship in early April, Rangers would then finish the season without a win in the league in their last four fixtures. The players seemed to be playing in their sandals and with beach towels under their arm.

Then they lost out to Hibs in the Scottish Cup final. That defeat highlighted that Warburton had to  invest in his squad and, in particular, the defence had to be strengthened.

But in his second summer, the recruitment drive seemed to go against many of his philosophies. He obviously felt his side needed more experience but those players didn’t have re-sale value and took places away from younger talent. Many of the new signings have struggled with injuries or failed to improve on the quality that was already at the club.

You also had the Joey Barton saga.

Now Barton was seen as a bit of a coup as he was a big name player. But Joey was never the type of player that would fit into a Mark Warburton team. Barton would always want the ball to be played through him and that would often slow down breakaways.

Another thing that the whole world knows about Joey Barton is the fact that he likes a moan and an argument. At the first sight of trouble from Bartion, Warburton was found wanting and out of his depth. Instead of trying to sort the issues out, he just washed his hands of the player and that was that.

So looking back at the opening ambitions of Mark Warburton as Gers boss and you can see that he couldn’t live up to them.

The exciting football wasn’t overly exciting, especially when the team started dropping too many points in the Premiership.

The signing policy went to the wayside last summer and the new signings struggled to make a huge impact on the side, to such an extent that the board and Gers support had started to question the boss and his head of recruitment!

Then you look at him bringing through youngsters. In the current first team, who actually came through the ranks at Murray Park?

Danny Wilson, I suppose, but he’d left and came back again; so does he really count?

Liam Burt is on the fringes but is hardly a first-team regular at the moment. Many had hoped to see more of Ryan Hardie but the young forward has been loaned to Championship sides this term.

Billy Gilmour might get there one day but that’s only if the fifteen year old rejects the elite’s advances once he turns sixteen.

So really it’s only Barrie McKay that has made the transition from the youth set-up to the first team.

That just doesn’t seem right given Warburton’s opening presser when he was almost singing about giving youth it’s chance and for having a clear path into the first team for talented kids. Is Murray Park failing to bring in talent? Or did Warburton turn his back on his own beliefs?

This season was always going to be a learning curve for Warburton but he continually failed to learn from his mistakes. The team didn’t seem to possess a ‘Plan B or C’ to change the outcome of games. The defence all too often still looks weak and slow.

His last few press conferences had seen a once confident, clear manager change into a nonsensical boss who would often clutch at straws and fail to understand his audience.

I truly believe that the whole ‘resigning’ situation could’ve been handled better by Rangers Football Club and I feel the Gers board are also partly to blame for the things that have went wrong this season.

But in truth, Mark Warburton struggled to make good on his early promise and the end was always coming, it was just a matter of when it would happen.