Celtic’s Deep Rooted Problems – The Chief Executive, The Manager & The Captain

Celtic were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League qualifying stages after they lost 4-3 at home to Romanian champions CFR Cluj (BBC Match Report).

For the second season running the Scottish Premiership champs have failed to reach Europe’s elite and money spinning group stages.

In both seasons it’s been Celtic’s own fault.

Last year they failed to bring in new recruits to bolster their squad for the difficulties qualifying brings. This term they’ve made more signings, it’s just for one reason or another they weren’t included in the starting line-up.

Some key people at Parkhead need to come out and accept blame.

Chief Executive Peter Lawwell might be a magician when it comes spreadsheets and bank balances but in the the transfer market Celtic lack ambition, and have done since Brendan Rodgers first season at the club in 2016.

On the football side of things Celtic lack a longterm first-team strategy. It’s all about bringing players to the fore and then selling them on for a healthy profit. Surely there has to be more ambition than that at Parkhead.

Personally I think Lawwell had his ‘moonbeam’ moment after the Scottish Cup final in May when he hurriedly announced that the club were keeping interim boss Neil Lennon on a full-time basis. It then emerged that Lennon was offered the managerial hotseat in the Hampden showers. It was such a bizarre announcement and one that wouldn’t be confirmed for a further few weeks.

In essence Lawwell returned to type after having maverick boss Brendan Rodgers in charge. Rodgers was a demanding manager and a boss that wanted Celtic to improve year on year and that meant competing on the European stage. To do that the club need to reinvest heavily and that’s clearly not Peter’s style, especially when you can spend millions on a new lighting system for (ironically) big European nights.

Another problem that arrives with Celtic failing to reach the Champions League group stages is that it impacts on their transfer policy. Not having the glamour European nights makes the club a less attractive prospect for potential signings. Plus The Hoops will also struggle to get premium fees for their talent. Moussa Dembele and Kieran Tierney didn’t receive huge transfers because of their domestic exploits, it was partly because they had proven themselves in UEFA’s top competitions.

I doubt Lawwell made any real attempts to convince Brendan to stay once Leicester City approached the Hoops gaffer. I think the Celtic Chief Exec was happy to go back to the norm.

The norm under Lawwell is to get in a manager that will appreciate the money tight ways of the football club and ultimately be a yes man.

In that regard he brought back Neil Lennon.

Now Lennon left during his first stint as Celtic boss due to him wanting the club to spend more money as he wanted to challenge more in Europe. But things have changed for Neil since 2014.

He had two unspectacular jobs at Bolton Wanderers and Hibs. His failures to succeed in those roles meant that he was now going to struggle to get a reputable job, then suddenly the Celtic one landed at his feet.

Lawwell knows that Lennon can bring league titles and he also now knows that his manager is just happy to be given a second chance and that means he probably won’t rock the boat.

The issue now is that Neil Lennon isn’t the greatest tactician or in fact coach, which he proved last night against Cluj.

When Celtic were trailing the tie at halftime, Neil didn’t make a tactical change to revitalise his pool of players and spark anything from the crowd. He just hoped that something would happen.

When they got into the lead as a team they couldn’t close the game out with just fourteen minutes to go in front of their own support. Worse still they’d go on to lose that match!

Lennon and his staff should’ve been calming things down and sending on defensive players that can help see out the result.

I also don’t get Lennon’s preference of Scott Bain over Craig Gordon in goals. I get why Brendan Rodgers would select Bain as he’s better with the ball at his feet but Neil just wants a shot-stopper and I think the experienced Gordon is better at keeping the ball out of the net in big games. I bet most Celtic fans would want a new number one.

Celtic spent around £11.7m on defensive recruits this summer. Yet out of the three new signings only right-back Hatem Abd Elhamed started, with £7m centre-back Christopher Jullien and left-back Boli Bolingoli on the bench.

£7m is the most the Glasgow giants have paid for a defender, yet the twenty-six year old Jullien still doesn’t seem to be up to speed even though he was signed in early July. If he’s fully fit then he should be in the team for the biggest game of the season so far!

Instead of using the £3m Boli, Lennon selected midfielder Callum McGregor as his left sided fullback. McGregor is a top player and he’ll always give 100% for the jersey but he’s the team’s most reliable midfielder and a goalscoring threat in Celtic’s biggest games. Ironically Bolingoli was dropped after giving his best performance on Saturday since he’s arrived in Scotland.

Lennon explained beforehand why he chose to make the change to his team:

 “I just wanted to get Ntcham into the team.”

“The more technicians in the team, the better.”

“There’s going to be an adaptation period I’m sure.”

Via The Scottish Sun

At least the Celtic manager is being honest here, it was clear that he wanted to shoehorn Ryan Christie, Scott Brown, Olivier Ntcham and McGregor into the same line-up. The issue is that McGregor isn’t a good enough makeshift left-back and won’t give the team the same impact as he would from midfield and the side then becomes unbalanced.

Lennon has to be more ruthless in that situation and drop a player, probably the club captain in this case.

That leads me nicely onto captain Brown.

Clearly the player is passionate and loyal. He’s given everything he has to Celtic but at times you need to realise when a player needs to be eased out. That time could be now for Scott at Celtic.

That doesn’t mean bombing him out the team completely but if the team’s playing well and a lot of that is down to Ntcham, Christie and McGregor then you should go with the younger players.

Even though Scott Brown’s the most experienced player in the team, it was he who would inexplicably handle the ball inside his own box on seventy-fourth minute that allowed Cluj back into the game. That proved to be a very costly error.

Now i’m not putting all the blame onto Brown but personally I’d have selected the three in-form midfielders, the ones with more running in them. Then brought on the captain to get the game over the line.

Silly mistakes from top to bottom at the football club repeatedly hamper Celtic’s progress.

Yes they might win a ninth league title in a row come May, hell they might even win their fourth treble in a row by next summer but ultimately that isn’t progression that’s what’s expected.

For Celtic to improve then they need to gamble more and build a long-term strategy that would hopefully see an exciting brand of football on the park and get them back into the Champions League group stages.

Are Messrs Lawwell, Lennon and Brown the men to do it?

I really don’t think so!

Man Utd’s Solskjaer Should Create A Friendly Rivalry Between Forwards Martial & Rashford


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a big call when he agreed to sell striker Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan this summer (Via The Guardian).

The Manchester United boss didn’t bring in a replacement for the Belgian, instead he has decided to place all his trust in young hitmen Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

Both attackers have the potential to become world class goalscorers but neither have grabbed twenty Premier League goals in one season… Yet!

The duo will argue that they haven’t had enough time playing as a central striker to be judged on their scoring tallies.

It looks like the pair will get their chance this term!

Against Chelsea, Anthony was entrusted in leading the line. He did a good job as he took four shots and made four successful dribbles. Importantly he also managed to score a poachers goal as he tapped in an Andreas Pereira cross to score his first goal of the season.

It also became evident that Ole was keen to see Rashford and Martial rotate roles during the ninety minutes. So at times we saw Frenchman Martial on the left wing as Marcus took over the vacated central position.

The young English international expertly smashed home a penalty in the first-half before he superbly finished off his second which was majestically created by a wonderful pass from Paul Pogba.

Like Martial, Rashford also took four shots at goal as well as making three successful tackles.

In the end Man United thumped Frank Lampard’s Blues by a 4-0 scoreline (Sky Sports Match Report) with the strikers scoring three goals between them.

Solskjaer obviously has faith in his young forwards. He has given Martial his beloved number nine back and as soon as he arrived back at Old Trafford Ole made Rashford his club’s central striker ahead of the more experienced Lukaku.

The Man United gaffer has already stated that the plan is to rotate them throughout this campaign:

“Both Marcus and Anthony can do through the middle and left hand side.”

“Depends on how we see the opposition, and they might just be able to play together as a pair but so far both of them have done very well as a pair.”

Source The Express

What Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should do now is start a friendly wager between his two hungry hitmen.

Who scores the most is the best and will get more game time as the central striker.

You just have to look at Liverpool and see how friendly competition can see two of your forwards can reach over twenty goals a season with both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane hitting twenty-two league goals each last term.

Solskjaer could take inspiration from his own playing career at Manchester United to see how competition creates the best environment for success.

Under Sir Alex Ferguson the Norwegian had to vie with Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and Teddy Sheringham to make the starting eleven. During that period United won their illustrious treble in 1999, with all four attackers playing a significant part!

If Ole Gunnar can get the same contribution from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford then maybe just maybe both can hit at least twenty goals this season and the club could possibly be challenging for silverware once again.

1-0 To The Arsenal Is Actually A Very Good Start To The Season

Some Arsenal supporters might have felt that their opening day result over Newcastle United was a bit of an anti-climax.

The Gunners enjoyed a very successful transfer window, with the club bringing in six new faces.

Importantly the defensive area has been strengthened with the arrivals of left-back Kieran Tierney and experienced centre-half David Luiz, they’ll be joined next season by the highly rated French youngster William Saliba (who has been loaned back to Saint-Etienne this year).

The midfield has been bolstered with loanee Dani Ceballos joining from Real Madrid and young winger Gabriel Martinelli also signing up to the Unai Emery project.

Nicolas Pépé has been the biggest summer acquisition. The forward has arrived at the Emirates with a big fee (£72m via Transfermarkt) from Ligue 1 side Lille OSC.

So optimism was running high amongst the Arsenal support as they geared up fro the new campaign.

Yet none of the new boys lined up to face Newcastle in their first Premier League fixture of the season.

Two returning players in Calum Chambers and Reiss Nelson did start as The Gunners bossed the game.

It wasn’t a vintage performance but the team selection repaid Emery’s faith by securing a 1-0 away win in the opening weekend (BBC Match Report).

It proved to Unai and the Arsenal support that the squad could cope with faces missing (Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Lucas Torreira were also absent from the starting eleven) and indeed win tough away games in the process.

It also eases the pressure on the new signings and means the Gunners gaffer can gradually introduce them to the rigours of the league. Pépé, Ceballos and Martinelli managed to get some game time at St James’ Park once Arsenal had already found the lead through a nifty finish from prolific hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

It might take time for Nicolas to settle into his new surroundings as it’s a huge move for any twenty-four year old. So if Unai can ease him in and take away some of that pressure, then that could be huge for the player’s development.

Obviously everyone is looking forward to seeing Emery unleash the front three of Pépé, Lacazette and Aubameyang but there’s no need to rush it, especially of you’ve got a squad that can gain results while you wait for the young forward to settle in.

I’m sure we’ll soon see Unai Emery’s preferred starting eleven once everyone is fit and raring to go but it must be very pleasing for the Spaniard and his backroom team that they’ve got more and better options available to them this term.

I’m also betting that the Gunners boss would’ve been delighted to see his defence record a cleansheet in their first game of the season. It would’ve also been pleasing to see both teenagers Nelson and Joe Willock starting and holding their own.

Unai Emery stated after the win over The Toon that he was happy with his side’s balance:

“The balance offensively and defensively is only taken with the victory. Today in our 90 minutes, we could do that. Also, we created chances and we need also to create chances for our strikers and today with Auba, we won.”

Via The Mirror

If Arsenal are going to succeed this term then that strength in depth in their pool could prove to be priceless as could that wonderful front three!

It wasn’t the most eye catching of performances but I’m sure Arsenal’s latest 1-0 win would’ve pleased their manager as it gave him plenty of positives to build from.

This Season Could Be Huge For Mohamed Salah At Liverpool

In Mohamed Salah’s first season at Liverpool, the Egyptian international became a surprise goalscoring sensation. He would end the Premier League campaign scoring thirty-two goals in thirty-six league games.

Salah then spent his second season at Anfield proving to all the doubters that he wasn’t a one season wonder. You could see the forward trying too hard at times but in fairness he ended the term as joint top scorer with his twenty-two strikes.

With the forward showing that he can consistently find the net and be a difference maker at Liverpool, this should be another standout year for Mo.

The attacker has the chance to play with the shackles off this term. He should now have the self belief to take things up to that same level he found in 2017-18.

He has started the current campaign with that same intensity and hunger that has served him so well in his first two years.

Against Manchester City in the Community Shield he was a real livewire. He would run constantly at the City defence, hit the woodwork numerous times and enjoyed a 96% passing success rate.

He followed that up with a great start to his Premier League season. He helped The Reds demolish new boys Norwich City (BBC Match report).  Mo seemed to have the Canaries left-back terrified as he ran directly for goal at every opportunity.

The Egyptian superstar expertly took his chance in the nineteenth minute to double his side’s lead and then he floated in a great corner that met Virgil Van Dijk’s head for Liverpool’s third.

The twenty-seven year old forward has started this season with so much confidence, it’s really hard not to believe that he won’t end the footballing year without a glut of goals to his name yet again.

Plus let’s not forget that the forward is also very good when it comes to providing for others. In his seventy-five league appearances for Liverpool, Salah has provided nineteen assists for teammates!

His dribbling ability can’t be underestimated either. it’s important as Jurgen Klopp loves to see his side punish sides with free flowing moves and Mohamed can take the ball from midfield positions into attack in just a blink of an eye.

Egypt were eliminated early in the African Cup of Nations in the summer and that could end up being great news for Mo and Liverpool as it’s allowed him to enjoy a greater amount of holiday time.

He has returned to Liverpool with a renewed focus and he looks to be back at his best!

That could be huge for The Reds as they look to win their first ever Premier League title.

Mohamed Salah put the rest of Europe and the English top flight on notice after his team’s Champions League victory in June:

“It’s the start of something. Honestly it’s just the start for us,”

“Of course we feel we can win it again next season. We play with ambition, we set targets for ourselves and the target this year was to win the Champions’ League and also the Premier League.”

Via The Mirror

If Liverpool’s star striker can continue the season as he’s started it, then it really could be a massive and glorious one for both Mo Salah and Liverpool Football Club!

Jermain Defoe Challenge Will Make Rangers & Alfredo Morleos Stronger

Rangers thumped fellow Scottish Premiership side Hibs by six goals to one yesterday (Match Report – Rangers.co.uk)

Veteran hitman Jermain Defoe once again showed his class in front of goal as he claimed a perfect hattrick at Ibrox.

The former English international forward arrived in Glasgow last January in an 18 month loan deal from AFC Bournemouth.

Many predicted that the thirty-six year old would help lead a charge as Rangers challenged Celtic for the top flight title last term.

Unfortunately Defoe had to wait patiently for his chance as fellow striker Alfredo Morelos was in form. People had started debating whether Defoe’s signing was a panic buy and some even thought he was no longer capable to go the long haul.

By the time Morelos would receive yet another suspension, The Gers title challenge had fizzled out. Yet that run-in gave Defoe a chance to show he was still a marksman to be reckoned with.

In the end, Jermain scored eight goals in his seventeen league appearances for the 2017/18 season. That period towards the end of the campaign showed Steven Gerrard, the Gers support and importantly Alfredo Morelos that he wasn’t in Scotland for a final pay-check and that he could lead the line.

The Light Blues aren’t now reliant on the goals that Colombian international Morelos has provided in the last two years.

Defoe has now had a preseason under his belt with his Rangers teammates and he’s started this term with a bang.

The experienced goalscorer has played fives times thus far and scored five times. Interestingly Morelos has also started with a bang, grabbing seven strikes in as many games.

Gers boss Gerrard now has two strikers he can count on to lead the line and find the net. He can rotate the two, as he’s done already this year. That policy means that Defoe doesn’t get overplayed and importantly it has kept the hungry Morelos on his toes.

In his previous two years at Gers, Alfredo was forced to play through tiredness and flung straight back into the team after suspensions. That’s because he didn’t have strong enough competition for his place.

It’s all different now though.

Even after El Bufalo bossing the frontline during The Gers midweek impressive away win in Europe, Gerrard dropped the marksman and replaced him with Jermain.

The striker repaid his manager’s faith with a stunning treble. In return Morelos was clearly itching to get on and when his manager finally introduced him into the action, the Colombian banged in a brace inside the fourteen minutes he had on the pitch.

Both forwards are prolific, instinctive finishers and link-up well with their teammates but they also give something different to the Rangers attack. Defoe’s running off the ball is tremendous, while Alfredo is much better with his physical play.

The great thing is that the younger Morelos can learn from his more experienced teammate. Defoe has been scoring at the highest level for a long time now and he has also shone on the international stage. The younger hitman is also able to improve as he learns from Defoe and thrive under the pressure of having someone challenging him for his spot.

Gerrard clearly likes both his hitmen and the competition they provide each other:

“You need two who are as good, hungry and dangerous as each other. They have to understand it will be horses for courses – sometimes Jermain will suit an opposition, sometimes it will be Alfredo.”

“I need to make sure I get those decisions right. For sure, we are going to need both of them firing if we are to have any ambitions of moving forward.”

From The Scotsman

If Rangers are going to succeed this season, then they need to be prolific and kill games off.

To have that throughout the season then they’ll need their two prolific strikers to lead the line to almost perfection.

They should have that in Alfredo Morleos and Jermain Defoe, especially if the elder statesman can keep the younger man on his toes!

Rampant Manchester United Look A Lot Better


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United passed their first major test of the season, recording a fantastic 4-0 victory over potential top four rivals Chelsea.

United ended the last campaign with a whimper and questions marks continued to surround them as they only brought three new faces into the squad.

Yet they looked very assured today, particularly in the second half.

I, like many others, may have questioned the price tag that came with the Harry Maguire transfer but I didn’t doubt his quality.

Man United looked very good with Maguire and Victor Lindelof partnering each other at the back.

Harry was superb in the air and you could see that he’s already a strong talker within this Man Utd pool.

United only kept two clean-sheets in the whole of last season, so it’s great news for the new look defence that they’ve managed not to conceded in their first ninety minutes together.

£85m man Maguire won four aerial duels, made the most clearances and had an 87% passing success rate (Stats From Whoscored). He already looks like he’s been in that defence for years and deserved his man of the match award.

I think at times United looked a wee bit vulnerable on the lefthand side.

Forward Marcus Rashford didn’t track back enough in the opening half. That meant that Left-back Luke Shaw was often caught with two players on his side and that would sometimes mean that Maguire would have to mop up behind the fullback, thus leaving some space in the middle. It improved greatly in the second half as Rashford worked harder to follow his runner and that gave the United team more balance.

Fellow new boy Aaron Wan-Bissaka was assured in his competitive debut. His pace allowed him to get back and win the ball back whenever it went over the top. Solskjaer will hope that the right-back can settle in quickly at Old Trafford and that he’ll gain the confidence needed to become more of a threat in the opposition’s half.

Man United looked tentative in the first forty-five minutes. In particular Paul Pogba struggled to get into the game and often played at a pedestrian pace. The French World Cup winner would lose the ball in dangerous areas, struggled to push forward with any conviction and his passes were a bit sloppy.

It was almost as if Pogba’s mind was in Madrid rather than in Manchester. That changed in the second period. He demanded more of the ball, his passing was delightful and he helped his side by creating two assists. Paul became a leader in the second half and hopefully that first half performance was just a blip.

Young midfielders Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira ran their socks off. Like everyone else in the game, they made mistakes early on but the two didn’t let their heads go down. Scottish internationalist McTominay made two successful tackles out of his two attempts. Pereira made a great cross that gave Anthony Martial is goal.

Don’t get me wrong, Chelsea gifted Man United some of their goals due to their own mistakes. Kurt Zouma was a silly boy making a rash challenge that gave United their penalty. Some of The Blues defenders were slow on defending crosses and through balls.

But in fairness, Man United were ruthless and that’s all you can ask for. Ole will be delighted that his two forwards Rashford and Martial managed to grab three of his team’s strikes. Those two strikers have the pace and the instincts to become great Premier League goalscorers and they need to prove that in this campaign.

They’re helped by having Jesse Lingard buzzing around them. He does the graft and helps to keep the ball and win it further up the pitch.

Solskjaer will also have been delighted that his third new signing, Daniel James, managed to come on and make an impact from the bench. The twenty-one year old winger clearly has pace to burn and he looked rapid against this Chelsea defence. The Welshman burst onto a Pogba through ball and he then slipped his shot across Kepa and into the net. I should also say that James was brilliant in holding his run when waiting for Paul’s pass.

It was a terrific win for Manchester United. They really grew into the game and had an entry in the second half that Chelsea couldn’t contain.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now has a strong foundation to build on and he needs to make sure that he gets consistency from his team, if they’re going to succeed this season.

Ten out of ten on the exciting start!

Raheem Sterling Is Fast Becoming Manchester City’s Go To Man!

Manchester City have a squad of world class talent.

Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus will grab the goals, Ederson will stop them and the likes of Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne are all on hand to set-up chance after chance.

But I think English international Raheem Sterling is the player that gives City the most overall contribution.

Last season in the Premier League, Raheem Sterling scored seventeen goals and created ten assists as he help his side secure back to back league titles.

The wide forward played with such persistent energy that opposition teams just couldn’t contain him.

Under Pep Guardiola, Sterling has become a world class player. He seems to influence any game he’s apart of, both domestically and in Europe. A main change in the twenty-four year old’s game has been that he’s added composure in the final third. He now doesn’t rush his chances, and will make the right decisions inside the box.

As a youngster at Liverpool, Raheem would burst beyond opponents but his final product would often let him down. Now he looks assured when on the ball and you’ll bet on him taking his chances. He’s also very smart when making his runs and will often lose his markers as he charges in between a fullback and a centre-back.

The winger has started this campaign with a bang!

He scored against his former side Liverpool at Wembley Stadium as The Citizens claimed the Community Shield.

Sterling followed up that performance with a scintillating outing against West Ham United in City’s opening English top flight game of the season.

Man City crushed their hosts by a 5-0 scoreline (BBC Match Report), with Sterling stealing the show with a well taken hat-trick.

The London Stadium’s left flank must be scorched considering the amount of times Sterling burst down that wing.

In fairness I think Hammers fullback Ryan Fredericks did well on Raheem on quite a few occasions, the problem is that the Man City star was just relentless!

He took his trio of goals with much aplomb!

His first saw him latch onto a De Bruyne through ball and then Raheem cooly nutmegged West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski. He doubled his tally with a lovely dink over the Hammers shot-stopper and then Sterling superbly slotted in his third from close range with just minutes to go.

Raheem was great throughout the game and unfortunately had a lovely assist chopped off due to a correct VAR decision. He also enjoyed a 78% passing success rate, had four shots on target (scoring three), was fouled twice and he won two aerial battles.

After today’s game Pep praised the player to the club’s website and also stated that he could become a centre forward:

“On the first day he played striker and for me striker will be an incredible position for him. He can play in three positions up front.”

“They are incredibly talented players but they need the group, they need the team. When the team takes a step forward he plays better.”

“But I know the special quality of the player, the consistent physicality and the finishing.”

ManCity.com

That shows you the confidence Guardiola has in his player and let’s be fair Raheem has worked his socks off for his manager and he hasn’t let him down either.

Not only has Raheem Sterling become a superstar off the pitch, he’s now a hero off of it too.

He’s a young man that has had to put up with major negative media scrutiny and he has also had to put up with personal abuse from opposition supporters. Yet he still plays with a smile on his face, has time for his fans and will speak out on important issues.

Raheem doesn’t get bitter, he gets better!

He’s a credit and a vital cog in the Manchester City winning machine. Personally if I were Gareth Southgate I would have Sterling as my number one player for England.

You’ve Got To Accept Goals And Cards With Rangers Striker Alfredo Morelos

Rangers hitman Alfredo Morelos scored and was booked as his team enjoyed an impressive away win in Denmark on Thursday night.

In truth the Colombian international striker was superb in the Europa League win over FC Midtjylland, yet the doubters and the naysayers will criticise Alfredo for his late booking.

I’ll fully agree that the amount of red cards Morelos received last season was ridiculous. I’ve always said that the twenty-three year old was bullied and received harsh treatment from opposition defenders since his move to Scotland. I also stated that sometimes the Scottish officials let him down by not protecting him against certain opponents/wind up merchants.

But too often Alfredo would let his teammates down by lashing out wildly and continually talking back at referees. At times he just needed to take a step back.

But you can’t expect the forward to cut out all the cards.

His style and his role for the team means that he will pick up more bookings than other players. As long as he curbs the dismissals and doesn’t needlessly get booked, it’s all good.

Morelos is the type of striker that leads from the front. He will harry and press defenders, often defending in the opponent’s half and trying to regain possession in attacking positions.

As a solo striker and one with a reputation, you know that he also has to protect himself. That means physically protecting the ball in certain positions and challenging in aerial duels. These type of comings together can easily lead to a booking, especially if they’re persistent.

Alfredo’s link up play and his holding up of the ball has been superb since Steven Gerrard took over at Ibrox. Gerrard as a player, played with heart and knows that kind of style can lead to bookings. He won’t want to keep that passion in check, he’ll just ask the Colombian to cut out the silly petty behaviour that crept into his game at times last year.

Gerrard recently said that he accepts that Morelos will get booked from time to time:

“He gets a yellow card on Thursday but his behaviour this season has been really good. We have to accept the fact he’s a physical player and is going to leave it on certain people.

“He’s going to fight, he’s going to hassle, he’s going to wrestle. That’s Alfredo Morelos. That’s why we all love him.”

Source Daily Record

The same passion for the game and his bravery leads to El Bufalo scoring more goals and that is without doubt his main asset.

You can easily forgive the odd or maybe frequent yellow card, if the striker is scoring goals. In total, Morelos scored thirty times in forty-eight games last season. This term he’s bagged five strikes in as many European outings.

With that record you can overlook the disciplinary issues as long as I say they don’t boil over into silly red card offences.

If Alfredo Morelos can continue scoring hatfuls of goals, then Rangers fans will love him and forgive his bookings.

Liverpool Can Go Again This Season!

For some observers it might have looked like an uninspiring summer transfer window for Liverpool Football Club.

The Champions League winners have just brought in three new faces.

Out of the new recruits I doubt any of them will be automatic starters in the first-team this term.

The Anfield outfit have brought in two teenagers, Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliot.

Centre-back Sepp arrived in a £1.3m deal from Dutch side PEC Zwolle. Last year the defender became the youngest player to play in ten Eredivisie games. He’s a classy performer, who has great pace, and he’ll no doubt develop under the tutelage of manager Jurgen Klopp and fellow Dutch defender Virgil van Djik.

I’m pretty sure Van den Berg will get some first team exposure in his debut year but it’ll probably be limited.

Former Fulham kid Harvey Elliot became the youngster player to play in the Premier League when he got his chance against Wolves in April of this year.

The sixteen year old has already impressed Klopp but the German boss has suggested that the young forward might be better off getting game time this year and that could see him go out on a loan deal at some point:

‘Now he is here so let’s work with him. He needs game time, we will see where he gets that but he is obviously a fine, fine footballer and that’s why we were really interested in signing him.’

Via The Metro

The only other new face is Spanish goalkeeper Adrian. The former West Ham United shot-stopper arrived on a free transfer and is a straight replacement for Simon Mignolet, who left Anfield for Club Brugge this month (Source The Guardian).

There’s no doubting Adrian is a fine keeper but he’s only at Liverpool to act as a reliable back-up to first choice Alisson. The Brazilian is a world class goalkeeper and proved that multiple times in his maiden season in the Premier League.

So in essence Liverpool have plugged a gap in their squad and also brought in two very talented youngsters for the future.

Why?

Well it’s simple, Klopp has built a very strong squad since his arrival in 2015. The Reds gaffer has spent big in recent windows and he clearly feels he has the tools to go again.

Let’s not forget that the side not only won the Champions League last season but also feel short of the Premier League title by just one point.

As well as losing Mignolet, the only other first-team players to leave the Merseyside club are fringe players Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno. Danny Ings also made his loan move to Southampton permanent and youngster Rafa Camacho has also departed for Sporting Lisbon.

That means Liverpool still have a very strong squad.

Loanees Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Kent have returned to the club. Although Clyne will be out for the foreseeable future due to a serious ligament injury (Source Liverpoolfc.com).

There doesn’t seem to be many weaknesses within the pool.

As I’ve stated they have a great goalie and very capable understudy.

They also have a wide array of talent at the back as long as the majority of them stay fit.

They could perhaps do with a natural replacement for left back Andy Robertson but James Milner and Trent Alexander-Arnold can fill in if required. Plus they have a talented youth in Tony Gallacher.

Some supporters may have wanted a new recruit for midfield, maybe someone creative to unlock defences. I bet there was a temptation to bring Philippe Coutinho back to the club.

I’m guessing Jurgen believes that Naby Keita will have a big season at the club and can offer more going forward. The Reds manager may also use Xherdan Shaqiri more this term. They also have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming back from longterm injury.

Klopp also knows that midfielders Milner, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho will always give their all for the cause and win more midfield battles than they lose.

Liverpool also possesses a superb front-three that can cut through any defence. If Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane can remain fit then there should be little to no issues.

The problems arise if one of those attackers picks up an injury or struggles badly for form.

Belgian hitman Divock Origi showed last season that he can be a player for the big games but he still needs to be more consisted when he gets his chances in front of goal.

Shaqiri can be pushed further forward if needed and Ryan Kent showed at Rangers last term that he can be a handful on the left-wing.

The return from injury of nineteen year old Rhian Brewster could be the main reason why Klopp hasn’t gone out in the transfer window to buy another attacker.

Brewster seems to have the skill-set to become a top class forward in the future. This could be the young hitman’s chance to breakout like Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen have done before him and terrorise opposition defences.

It’s going to be a tough season for Liverpool, that’s always going to be the case when you look to challenge for major honours.

Current Premier League champions Manchester City will hope to be stronger with Joao Cancelo, Angelino and Rodri all bolstering their first team squad. Although Vincent Kompany’s departure could be a massive loss.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has gone for continuity this summer and he also has great belief in the young talent he has within his squad.

Can they finally secure that first Premier League title?

Only time will tell on that one. They’ll need to be lucky when it counts but they do have a squad capable enough to do it!

Jordan Jones Could Have Rangers Fans Forgetting About Ryan Kent

Image from Irishfa.com

All summer Rangers fans have been hoping that Liverpool would allow winger Ryan Kent to return to Govan for another season long loan deal.

A few weeks ago Reds manager Jurgen Klopp told the media that Kent wouldn’t be allowed to leave on another loan, if he were to leave Anfield then it would be on a permanent basis:

“But going back? (Only) If Rangers can buy him. The time is over giving him on loan.”

“At a specific age, a player needs to find a place to settle and stuff like this. But we will see. A loan is not planned.”

Via Liverpool Echo

The English transfer window has now shut and Kent hasn’t been sold. Interestingly Liverpool haven’t bolstered their forward areas and have let Harry Wilson join AFC Bournemouth on a season long loan (Source Liverpoolfc.com). That could see Kent in and around Klopp’s first team squad this term.

Last night Rangers boss Steven Gerrard stated he had once again contacted his former side about loaning Kent and was once again rebuffed:

“But I was told a week ago by Jurgen Klopp that he wouldn’t be going out on loan, so I respect that decision.”

“We checked again a couple of days ago. I spoke to the technical director Michael Edwards. He made it very clear, again, that it wouldn’t be happening so we had to move in a different direction.”

Via Daily Record

The Gers gaffer also said that young Manchester City winger Brandon Barker was taking a medical and it was looking likely that he was in line to join the Ibrox club on a permanent basis.

So it looks like the Rangers support won’t be seeing last season’s hero Ryan Kent back at the Scottish Premiership club for this season.

But I don’t think they should be too disappointed as former Kilmarnock attacker Jordan Jones might be the player that steps into the void.

Earlier in the week I was praising Rangers captain James Tavernier for becoming more consistent in the last two years and for also becoming a better defender. Yet the right-back had a lot of problems whenever he came up against Northern Ireland internationalist Jones.

Jones has electric pace and his dribbling skill-set is also great and sees him get beyond opposing defenders.

Last night Rangers came up against Danish cracks FC Midtjylland in a Europa League away fixture. It was supposed to be a very trick game for the Scottish side but in the end they were clear 4-2 winners.

A big reason for the success in Denmark was due to the contribution that twenty-four year old Jones.

Jordan’s pace on the wing caused the opposition many problems, especially when Rangers went on counter attacks. He’s the type of winger that likes the ball at his feet and he can then directly take it into the final third. Jordan continually beat his marker and his superb close control made it very difficult for the opposition to get the ball off of him. Sometimes the new signing was so fast that his teammates struggled to keep up with him!

Jone was pivotal in Rangers grabbing their second of the evening. The winger took it inside as he brushed aside a challenge to push forward into Midtjylland’s half. He then took on two centre-backs before laying it off to Joe Aribo, who would stick the chance away.

Those type of performances will get Gers fans off their seats.

His boss was very pleased with Jordan’s European performance:

Last season, Jones scored four times for Killie in the Premiership and that was two behind Ryan Kent. The Northern Irishman should be aiming for double figures in all competitions this time around with his new club.

Jordan Jones has the pace and that direct attacking mentality that should see him score more and create more for teammates. He had a tremendous outing last night and that should just be the start of it for him at Rangers.

If he can play with that exciting style consistently and in the big games, then I don’t doubt that Jones can help the Gers support to forget about missing out on Ryan Kent.