Manchester United Would Be Smart If They Brought In Mario Mandžukić

Manchester United let Romelu Lukaku leave for Inter Milan in the summer and inexplicably The Red Devils didn’t replace the proven goalscorer.

That has left United lacking in their attacking department. They’ve not been helped by Anthony Martial missing a chunk of this term due to an injury and Marcus Rashford suffering from a distinct lack of form in front of goal.

It was reported in the summer that Man United were in deep discussions with Serie A champions Juventus about bringing in Croatian international hitman Mario Mandžukić. Ultimately though a deal couldn’t be done.

Talksport claim that United could now get their man in the January transfer window.

It would be a move that would make a lot of sense for the Premier League giants.

As I’ve already stated, United need more numbers in terms of strikers within their squad. If you include teenager Mason Greenwood, then they’ve only got three recognised strikers!

Then there’s the fact that the three that they do have are all very young. Martial is the oldest at just twenty-three. None of those current United forwards have scored more than eleven goals in one league campaign!

At thirty-three years of age, Mandžukić would certainly give United an experienced man that can lead the line. The Croat has reached a World Cup final with his international team and he’s shone for big European teams like Juve, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid.

He’s also a type of player that would give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad a different dynamic. United are currently sitting in twelfth spot in England’s top flight and when things don’t work, Solskjaer has no Plan B in attack.

Mario would give the Old Trafford side a warrior up-front!

He’s a battler and a nuisance to opposition defences. He wins the ball in the air and links up well with those playing in and around him. He can batter defences, free up space and all that will probably generate opportunities to the likes of Martial and Rashford.

Before last summer’s World Cup final, Luka Modric heaped praise on his towering teammate:

“He is very important for us because of his character and desire to fight,”

“He motivates all his teammates with his attitude. We are happy he scored the goal that took us through to the final.”

Via Football-Italia

In his career his all-,round play has let the likes of Frank Ribery, Arjen Robben, Paolo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo flourish alongside him. His presence could give a similar boost to United’s youngsters.

While he’s not an overly prolific striker, Mandžukić does still regularly score double figures for the season. He’s a consistent performer and that’s really what Man United need at the moment.

There’s no real point paying over the odds in January and lets face it most teams won’t sell their best players mid-season. Mario Mandžukić would be a short-term, cheap fix that could really boost Manchester United’s attacking options and get more from their fragile young forwards.

It’s a deal that really would make a lot of sense if they can finally get him to Old Trafford!

You Can See Why Man City Would Want Portuguese Star Ruben Dias

Anyone looking at the Manchester City squad at the start of the season could’ve pointed to the potential weak area within their ranks.

It’s been the same for the past few seasons now and it’s in central defence.

Whenever captain Vincent Kompany was injured the City backline always looked that bit weaker and became more prone to conceding. At key points during the Pep Guardiola era, Kompany would return from injury and shore up the back four at the Etihad.

So when Kompany left City to become player boss at Anderlecht this summer, eyebrows were indeed raised as City didn’t replace him during the summer transfer window.

Now I should say that the City defence isn’t terrible by any stretch.

Both John Stones and, in particular, Aymeric Laporte have progressed well in recent years. The Frenchman is now one of the best centre-halves in the Premier League.

In Nicolas Otamendi they also have an experienced centre-back that will enjoy more good games than bad. Unfortunately the Argentine still makes mistakes that can cost his team, as seen in City’s recent domestic losses to Norwich City and Wolves.

A big problem for Man City has been keeping Stones and Laporte fit.

England international Stones has only made two league appearances this season due to a knee injury. While Laporte is now sidelined until the start of next year after damaging his knee against Brighton & Hove Albion.

It’s hoped that John Stones will be ready for City’s clash away to Crystal Palace at the weekend but that doesn’t paper over the fact that Guardiola doesn’t have enough cover at centre-half.

In the last few weeks, defensive central midfielder Fernandinho had to step in and partner Otamendi at the back. The experienced Brazilian is smart enough to do that role on occasion but he can’t be seen as a longterm solution.

As I’ve already said the defence have already cost The Citizens this term and they’re now trailing current league leaders Liverpool by eight points.

If the Premier League champs want to secure their third title in a row then they’ll probably need to reinforce their backline in January.

The Manchester Evening News have reported that City, alongside rivals Manchester United, are pursuing Benfica central defender Ruben Dias.

A quick look at the player will show you why Manchester City would be interested in the defender.

Ruben was an ever present in As Águias team that won the Portuguese league title last season. City’s star goalkeeper Ederson also developed that winning mentality at Benfica and he’s fitted seamlessly into Pep’s side.

His performances at club level won him a call-up into the Portuguese national side, he’s now won 14 caps and helped Portugal win the Nations League final in the summer.

Dias possesses a tall and physical frame. Giving him a solid presence in the heart of the defensive line.

Another big plus he has, that will have caught Guardiola’s eye, is that he’s comfortable on the ball. While he’ll usually go for the short pass into midfield, Ruben does have good vision and he can slip a pass into the final third that can unnerve opposition defences. This term, Dias is up at 88% for his passing success rate.

The twenty-two year old is also fairly strong in the air. This season has seen him average at 2.3 for aerials won at Benfica (Stats via Whoscored). He’s also decent at winning headers in the opposition penalty area during set-pieces.

Ruben isn’t a defender that likes to dive in and make lots of tackles, which is a trait Pep likes in his defenders. A criticism of Otamendi is that he does jump in and sometimes he mistimes these challenges. Dias prefers to remain alert and intercept, then make clearances on that back to that.

So Ruben Dias is a young centre-back that has already proved himself as a winner at a top level. He’s a good passer of the ball and he is smart at making challenges rather than tackles.

He’s also a very confident and ambitious player:

“I define myself by my ambition, my will to win. I am a very communicative player, confident in my tactical and technical abilities. I want to reach the top, and ambition is very important in reaching that goal,”

Ruben Dias Via

He does seem the blueprint for a Manchester City/Pep Guardiola centre-back.

In the earlier Manchester Evening News article it noted that the belief is that the defender has a minimum release clause of ‘£59m’. That could represent really good value if Dias is the man that can shore up that City defence!

Man United Should Return To Leicester City & Go After Wilfred Ndidi

Manchester United are certainly in a bit of a funk. They are currently lying in twelfth place in the Premier League, losing three in their opening eight domestic fixtures.

A big issue United have had has come in their midfield.

In the last two transfer windows The Red Devils have lost central midfielders Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini without replacing the experienced pair.

Juan Mata doesn’t have the legs to dictate things in the middle of the park, Nemanja Matic has been out of form since returning from injury and Paul Pogba has had problems with his ankle.

A lot of emphasis has been put on youngsters Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira. They’ve done reasonably well but they’re still raw and need more time to become established top flight stars.

The Daily Mail have reported that Antonio Conte could be interested in bringing Matic to Inter Milan. If that deal does indeed happen then United will definitely have to bring in a new defensive midfielder.

The Sun have suggested that West Ham United’s Declan Rice could be the Old Trafford side’s main transfer target.

Personally I believe United could be better served going to Leicester City and making a move on their Nigerian international Wilfred Ndidi.

United spent big in the summer bringing in The Foxes centre half Harry Maguire. Ndidi is just as important to Brendan Rodgers side, in my opinion. He’s a big reason why Leicester haven’t really missed Maguire so far this term.

In the Premier League this season, no player has averaged more than Ndidi’s 3.7 interceptions per game and only Man Utd’s Aaron Wan Bissaka averages more than Wilfred’s 5 tackles per top flight game (Stats via Whoscored).

These strong defensive stats are usual for Ndidi since his arrival from Genk in 2016 to replace world class holding midfielder N’Golo Kante.

His passing success rate is up at 83%, which is higher than Pereira, McTominay, Pogba and Matic.

Ndidi is also very good in the air and wins plenty of aerial battles. That is great if you’re protecting a backline. It’s a quality that gets overlooked but if you are winning headers and interceptions before it reaches the defence you’re protecting you defence and getting the ball to your attack in a quicker fashion.

United really need that kind of protection in their engine room!

Wilfred is still just twenty-two years old, yet he’s an established Premier League player that consistently does a superb job for his team.

The problem in getting him is that The Foxes might not be willing to sell such an important cog in their team. In 2018, Leicester City announced that they had tied Ndidi down to a contract till 2024.

That means The Foxes will hold all the cards in any potential deal for the player. They showed in their sale of Maguire that they won’t be bullied and can hold out for a premium price. Surely they would do the same with Wilfred.

Now the same can be said of West Ham regarding Declan Rice.

This is the issue Manchester United now have. Teams know that they are in a slump and will be desperate for certain targets and they will hold The Red Devils to ransom.

All that being said, Wilfred Ndidi would certainly improve Man United in my opinion!

James Maddison Would Be An Ideal Christian Eriksen Replacement At Spurs

Mauricio Pochettino might need to rebuild his current Tottenham Hotspur squad.

The club haven’t been the same since their Champions League final loss in May.

This term has seen them throw away countless leads and in their last two outings both Bayern Munich and Brighton & Hove Albion recorded significant victories over Spurs.

As an outsider looking in, it seems as though a few players are looking at their futures and believing they lie away from North London.

The important trio of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are out of contract in the summer.

It’s been suggested in The Mirror that Spurs wish to sell creative star Eriksen in January as they don’t want to see him leave on a free at the end of the season.

While The Dane has been superb since signing for The Lilywhites in 2013 from Ajax. he has suffered from a bit of a slump in form this term. It’s believed that the player wants to leave his current employers and join La Liga giants Real Madrid.

The twenty-seven year old said as much in the summer:

“I feel that I am at a stage of my career where I would like to try something new. I have the deepest respect for everything that is happening at Tottenham and it would not be something negative to stay. But I have also said that I would like to try something new.”

“Real Madrid is a step up but then it would take Real Madrid picking up the phone and making contact with Tottenham and say that they want Christian. And that they haven’t done as far as I know.”

Via Bleacher Report

So let’s say Eriksen leaves within the next two transfer windows, who could replace him at the new Tottenham Stadium?

Well one target could be a player that’s already helped put Spurs to the sword this year. Leicester City’s James Maddison.

The twenty-two year old has been in scintillating form for The Foxes, having scored two and set-up two assists in seven Premier League games during this campaign. His form has also won him numerous call-ups into Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

Maddison gave a man of the match performance in Leicester’s 2-1 win over Spurs in September. The forward thinking midfielder grabbed the eighty-fifth minute winner with thumping strike!

During that victory, Maddison made thirty-five passes and two of those were key passes (Stats – Whoscored).

James is comfortable with the ball at his feet, he enjoys directly dribbling and scaring opponents. He also has a keen eye for a key pass. His through balls could reap rewards for Harry Kane and keep the striker in a comfortable number nine position.

On average the attacking midfielder is making around 3 shots per game and 1.6 key passes. Those are better than Eriksen this term but the Dane made around 2.1 key passes last season. Christian is also better with his passing success percentage and James would be expected to better his current 77.7% for his successful passes if he were to join Tottenham.

Maddison does tick a lot of the boxes that Spurs coach Pochettino likes in a player. He’s young, British, skilful and a hungry footballer. Mauricio likes getting his hands on young players and moulding them into top stars.

The stumbling block could be the potential transfer fee.

Maddison’s deal doesn’t expire until 2023 and that means that The Foxes won’t be in a rush to sell such an asset. As we saw in the last transfer window with Harry Maguire if Leicester City hold onto all the cards then they won’t sell below their asking price.

They got around £75m for Maguire from Manchester United and they might want something similar for their current England international.

Tottenham Hotspur supremo Daniel Levy is known to be a tough negotiator, will he really want to spend £60+ on James Maddison?

Only Levy can answer that one but I think Maddison should definitely be on the Spurs wish-list if they do indeed sell maestro Christian Eriksen.

Man Utd’s Ed Woodward Plays Down Need For Director Of Football

Manchester United chief Ed Woodward has played down talk of the club looking for a new Director of Football, saying that they’re headed in the right direction. 

It’s the latest move in a line of structural changes that almost, but not quite, came to fruition at Man Utd – remember the almost – was the Manchester United casino? With the advent of online live casino, perhaps it’s a good thing that never panned out. However, with the way this season is going at Old Trafford, this one may come back to haunt them. The executive vice-chairman of United recently spoke with investors in the club after announcing record revenues of £627.1 million, second behind La Liga’s Real Madrid on the world stage. However, that number is likely to fall in 2020 due to key players likely signing costly new contracts, as well as United failing to qualify for the Champions League

Criticism for both manager and club 

Recent Premier League results haven’t been as expected for United, including a loss to West Ham Utd and Newcastle Utd, and the club has received criticism for being less than aggressive in the transfer market. United are 10 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool after just eight matches and criticism wasn’t just aimed at Solskjaer, but also that of the structure of the club after recent defeats. While Woodward continues to back manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, this isn’t the first time the club has been criticised for its stricture. 

Woodward knows all too well what corporate backers want to hear, but that doesn’t mean that Old Trafford’s paying customers will be as easily satisfied. While United aren’t in short supply when it comes to funds, their £332.3 million wage bill has increased by more than £36 million from a year ago and represents an annual turnover of 53 per cent. United’s failure to find a replacement for Romelu Lukaku prior to the transfer window closing is seen as risky. Further, there is suspicion surrounding Woodward’s motives for deciding against appointing a director of football when it was clear from the moment that Jose Mourinho left the club that United needed someone to take charge of recruitment. Woodward has even said so himself within the last year, yet there seems to be no decisive action planned, as usual. 

Van der Sar and Ferdinand linked 

United have been linked to a number of potential directors, including Edwin van der Sar and Rio Ferdinand (Source Manchester Evening News), but Woodward’s latest stance is that he’s happy with his current personnel. Ed Woodward would only go as far as to say that they’re always looking at ways to improve the club’s structure and that their recent signings show their determination to get back to winning ways. 

United targeted British players in the summer – signing Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James. Woodward intends to continue that very approach while, at the same time, bringing along players from the club’s academy. He added that he intends to return to the early days of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, with attacking football led by youth.

Manchester United Are At Yet Another Crossroads!

Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure from Old Trafford in 2013, Manchester United have gone from one possible revival to yet another slump.

United are now onto their fourth manager since Fergie’s retirement and after a bright honeymoon period current Man United gaffer Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now under severe pressure himself.

The Champions League winning legend has watched on as his side have struggled to compete this season.

The club that have won more Premier League titles than any other team have won just twice in their opening eight league games. They sit in twelfth position in the table and are actually closer to bottom placed Watford than they are to current leaders Liverpool.

The Red Devils made a bright start to the campaign, beating Chelsea at Old Trafford but since then they’ve lost three times in the league. In each of those losses (to Crystal Palace, West Ham United and Newcastle United) Ole’s team were pretty impotent, lackadaisical and lacked any real confidence.

Those performances along with poor outings against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup and in the Europa League have seen the Norwegian’s future come under fierce scrutiny. Some reports suggest that if United lose heavily in their next game to bitter rivals Liverpool then the heriachy at Old Trafford will let Solskjaer go (Source Daily Mail).

It does indeed look like Manchester United are at yet another crossroads. So what should they do next?

Firstly, I don’t think the issues start and stop with the manager.

How many times have we heard that Man Utd are looking for a new sporting director type figure? It seems to be a search that’s lasted around twelve months now. That’s ridiculous for one of the world’s perceived biggest clubs.

They definitely need that position filled. Vice Chairman Ed Woodward might be a very good businessman that can manage balance sheets and get sponsorship deals over the line but he has looked inept in repeated transfer windows.

There’s no point sacking yet another coach if you don’t have a proper football administrative structure in place. Woodward should stick to what he’s good at and leave the football business to someone that’s proven in that field.

Man United are stuck in Fergie time (pardon the pun) by not having a proper footballing structure in place to help a head coach and get deals over the line.

Look at their summer transfer window.

They sold proven Premier League goalscorer Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan but never replaced him. That means they’ve got a threadbare attacking line and one that distinctly lacks any experience. They were relying on Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to grab the goals. Martial has been injured for much of this term thus far and Rashford is playing on empty, both physically and mentally. After that they’ve got a very talented but raw eighteen year old in Mason Greenwood.

That’s not good enough to compete at the top.

It is almost criminal that United didn’t have an experienced hitman lined up to help carry the load this season.

Just look back at Solskjaer’s greatest United goal, it was against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final. That day Ferguson used four top proven strikers in Ole, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham. So you’ve got to believe the Man United manager understands the strengths that come with having experience and competition within your ranks.

United have had to over spend in bringing in defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan Bissaka. In the case of Magure they let that deal drag out all summer before finally agreeing the fee that selling club Leicester City wanted all along!

Inexcpliity United didn’t sign a central midfielder. Solskjaer clearly doesn’t fancy Fred who is yet another overpriced purchase. He then has youngsters Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira battling it out with Paul Pogba and Nemjana Matic for starting places. They lost experienced duo Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera during the last two transfer windows.

To be fair, the younger players have given their all.

Matic looks to be a declining figure and then you’ve got Pogba. I love the French World Cup winner but he seems to want away and he’s been inconsistent again too many times this term. He has all the tools needed to boss midfield battles at the highest level but he really needs to have the hunger to do it. If he can’t do it on a regular basis and wants to leave then let him go for a big fee.

It’s hard to see how much of the squads faults are down to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He has been working with an arm tied behind his back as the board haven’t performed well in the transfer market. That has left him with an unbalanced squad.

But at the same time he has to accept some of the blame. I think he sanctioned the move that saw Lukaku leave for the San Siro. I think he came in wanting to focus too much on youth and he needed a wee bit more experience in there to help the younger players to develop.

Solskjaer came in and said his team needed to be ruthless and in the summer stated his players had to be fitter than ever before:

“It is not a case of breaking them down, it is not about proving a point, they are not fit enough.

“We are here to build them up, that is where we are. When the league starts, everyone should be as fit as they possibly could be from the starting point.

“Pre-season is about laying good foundations, so they won’t have to have that rest.”

Via The Sun

Importantly Man United haven’t looked any fitter this term and they certainly haven’t been ruthless in front of goal. Two points Ole quickly asserted needed to change and they haven’t. That could be his biggest failings as a manager.

I’m not sure Ole is the man to get Man United back to the top but I’m 100% positive that before anything gets better at Old Trafford the football administration at the club has to be completely overhauled. Once that happens then the new sporting director has to work with the manager and develop a plan that brings success back to United.

It won’t happen right away but progress can be seen quickly if things are done properly.

Patience Is Needed When It Comes To Arsenal’s Nicolas Pépé

Arsenal new boy Nicholas Pépé hasn’t been the quick fire success that some were expecting.

Obviously when you arrive with a hefty £72m price tag, expectations are going to be pretty high.

Unfortunately the player didn’t dictate that price. We’ve got to remember that he’s still just twenty-four and he’s now plying his trade at a new country.

In my opinion it was always going to take a bit of time for him to settle in at The Emirates. He hasn’t been terrible either. Against league leaders Liverpool, he was a threat with his directness and pace, giving Andrew Robertson and Virgil Van Dijk plenty to think about.

In his first eight Premier League appearances the Ivorian has managed to score and create two assists for teammates. He has also set-up a goal during his two substitute appearances in the Europa League.

There’s no doubting he had a flat game against Manchester United. He was sluggish and couldn’t keep hold of the ball. That poor performance brought out the critics.

Former Gunners defender Martin Keown went in two footed with his recent opinion of Pépé:

‘If you think back to Arsene Wenger, he would have never have blocked the path of a young player but they are in danger of doing that with Bukayo Saka.’

‘Pepe, is he going to get into the team? It’s a massive amount of money they have paid for him and Lille will be laughing all the way to the bank with that one.

‘It’s still early days and maybe the player will turn it around but I haven’t really seen what I expected to see from him.’ 

Via The Daily Mail

Again we should point out that Arsenal are in third place in the league and Nicolas has just played 561 minutes of English top flight football. No Arsenal player has made more assists thus far in the league and no one is averaging more than his 3.3 dribbles per game. He’s also making 1.5 key passes per game (Stats from Whoscored).

Now if you are wanting Pépé to walk into this Arsenal team and produce the same stats he was producing at Lille OSC last season, then you’re expecting too much!

I can give you three examples of players that took a wee bit of time to come to terms after making a big move.

Firstly, let’s look at a former teammate of Martin Keown’s in Thierry Henry. The French forward was another creative talent that seemed to struggle during his opening months at Arsenal. But Arsene Wenger persisted in playing Henry and eventually moving him into a central striker’s role and Thierry would go on to become the club’s best ever goalscorer!

Pépé can also look at fellow Ivorian Didier Drogba for inspiration. He too made a big move to London from Ligue 1. During his debut season at Chelsea, Drogba’s performances were at times leaving home fans pulling their hair out. he adapted to the English style and would become a Blues legend, helping them secure a Champions League triumph in 2012.

Now this summer we saw one of the best Premier League stars in Eden Hazard leaving for Real Madrid. We all know that the creative maestro can be world class but even though he’s got the experience in the bag, he too is struggling at his new team. Would Keown poo poo Hazard? I doubt it.

Nicolas Pépé just needs to keep his head down and keep trying to brea teams down with his direct play, his skill and his electrifying pace. He can’t let the critics get him down and as soon as the goals come, he will become a Gunners hero!

Could Brendan Rodgers Actually Replace His Successor At Liverpool?

Ok you might think I’m being very premature discussing Jurgen Klopp’s departure.

The German coach won The Reds the Champions League in May and his side are currently leading the Premier League by a full eight points!

Right, so obviously, Liverpool won’t sack Klopp but that doesn’t mean his future is cemented in stone.

Actually success in the league could possibly hasten Jurgen’s departure.

Klopp’s current deal ends in 2022 and he hasn’t been quick to sign a new one. You can’t imagine Liverpool’s board haven’t tried to tie their manager down for longer.

In August, Klopp discussed the idea of taking a sabbatical when his deal runs out:

‘It looks like it. Who can now say if he can give it his all in three years’ time?’

‘If I decide for myself that I can’t go on anymore, I’ll take a break and in that year I’d have to make a definite decision [if he wants to continue at all]. ‘I have absolute energy, but I have one problem: I can’t do ‘a little bit.’ I can only do ‘all or nothing.’

Via The Metro

That sounds like Klopp has given Liverpool everything since his arrival in 2015 and it has taken a lot out of him. Hence why he seems to have an exit strategy planned out.

That could possibly happen next summer if he succeeds in the main objective of securing the Anfield side their first ever Premier League title!

It could work out pretty nicely if the German national team managerial position also becomes vacant next year.

World Cup winning coach Joachim Löw has had a tough time of it recently and he might step aside after next summer’s Euros, after being in the job for a whopping fourteen years!

Now I know I’ve just mentioned that Klopp is looking at having some time off once his stint at Liverpool ends but he could get more free time if he were to manage his country.

The fifty-two year old’s agent recently said:

“Jurgen himself once said that in the event that Joachim Low someday no longer wants to be the national coach – and it would be possible for him do that – this is an option for him,”

Via Four Four Two

That could see a perfect storm arriving for Jurgen in 2020, where he could give the Reds faithful the trophy they desperately crave and then get the job that he seems to covet, which will give him a break from the hectic life of being a club manager.

Klopp has already hinted that there could be succession plan in place that will see club legend Steven Gerrard returning to Anfield and being the man to replace the German.

Gerrard is currently the Rangers boss. The Gers have been impressive in Europe under the former Reds captain and today they managed to leapfrog Celtic into first place in the Scottish Premiership.

But say Klopp indeed does leave next summer and by that time Gerrard still hasn’t won silverware in Scotland, would the Liverpool hierarchy go all out for a pretty inexperienced manager that has still to taste that winning feeling?

There could be another option and one that’s quite familiar to the Anfield crowd and The Reds board.

They could possibly look at bringing back Brendan Rodgers.

Rodgers was the man that Klopp replaced in 2015. He almost took Liverpool to the top flight championship in 2014. They were just two points away from the title that year!

Brendan brought with him a high intensity style of play and his team’s attacking mentality wowed a lot of the home faithful. He was very much the nearly man and he laid a few foundations that have really helped Klopp since.

Rodgers had very little in the way of winning experience before taking the hotseat at Anfield and that seemed to count against him at the most important of times.

Since leaving Liverpool, Rodgers went to Scotland and won a unique double treble with Celtic and in his first season his side went undefeated domestically for a full season!

He left Parkhead earlier this year and took over at Leicester City in February.

Brendan has once again brought that high intensity and attractive style to the Premier League. The Foxes have a young and hungry squad and they are all playing for their manager.

Yesterday, they were the closest team to finally pick up a point against Liverpool this term in the league. Only a debatable penalty in the last minute of injury time gave Liverpool all three points (BBC Match Report).

Leicester have beaten Tottenham Hotspur this season, They’ve been very strong at the back and are occupying a place in the Champions League places at the moment. They have got to a new level with Rodgers at the helm.

If the Northern Irish manager can keep his team in the top six places come the end of the season and Jurgen Klopp does indeed leave, then surely Rodgers would once again be in the running for a Merseyside return,

He’s a more rounded manager now than when he left Anfield in 2015 and he might feel he still has unfinished business as a Reds gaffer. Plus he’s still renting out his house to current boss Klopp!

How Can You Not Love Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard?

Right let me start by stating that I get it if you’re a Rangers fan and you don’t like Odsonne Edouard, he’s your rivals star striker and he’s got a knack of scoring against you. The same goes for any other fan of another Scottish Premiership side.

This is directed at people who should know better. The pundits and former Celtic players that just can’t seem to get how good the Frenchman really is.

He’s now in his third year at Celtic Park and has scored forty-three goals in ninety-seven appearances for The Hoops.

Yet the likes of Charlie Nicholas and Craig Beattie have raised issues about the forward this season. Both are ridiculous, in my opinion.

Firstly Beattie stated Edouard wasn’t scoring enough against the smaller clubs:

“You look at the forward areas with Edouard, who is a top player. I feel he turns up as and when it suits him.”

“He has turned up in a couple of the Glasgow derbies, where he has been very impressive. He likes the big games, but that’s not enough at Celtic. You need to turn up all the time and, for me, I don’t think he does it and gets enough out of himself in the so-called smaller games to be the main striker at Celtic.”

Via Football Scotland

It was a bizarre statement to make. Firstly it’s a very good habit to have if you can influence the bigger encounters. Secondly, it isn’t actually true. Odsonne scored twenty-three times last term and has already scored nine this season and they can’t all be in important fixtures.

I bet the same people will have a pop at Gers striker Alfredo Morelos for not scoring in the big derby games. Proving that no hitman can win with these critics unless they score in every game, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo can’t even manage that feat.

Then you’ve got another former Hoops forward in Nicholas finding something wrong with Edouard.

Charlie said:

“The thing that irritates me more than anything is his lack of celebration when he scores.

“It should be the greatest feeling in the world but Odsonne doesn’t show that.”

Via The Evening Times

What codswallop!

The most important thing about scoring is that you are indeed scoring. A celebration doesn’t matter. I would much prefer a prolific marksman that doesn’t go wild when celebrating rather than a striker that scores a goal every two months but rips his top off every time he hits the net.

Odsonne Edouard is a fantastic striker. He can come deep and hold onto the ball or drive towards the opposition’s penalty area. He can dribble expertly beyond defenders.

Odsonne can find himself out on a wing, freeing up space for others like James Forrest or Ryan Christie to move into. He’s also very neat with his passing, linking up well with those playing around him.

The twenty-one year old remains cool under pressure, which means he’s very efficient when it comes to finishing one-on-ones against goalkeepers. That’s why he’s so good in important clashes like derby games, cup finals and European ties.

Another positive is his instinct to take efforts first time. He doesn’t get scared in tight situations and will take shots on early, giving keepers little to no chance to settle themselves. He can grab tap-ins, curl in efforts and score with his head. He’s got so much in his game!

To think that a young striker like Odsonne has come to Scotland and become a star should be appreciated. People like Nicholas and Beattie need to stop nitpicking and applaud a forward that can score goals and shine with his build up play.

At least Celtic supporters can see what a player Eduoard is and show him love with an amazing chant!

It’s also important that Edouard has a manager that believes in him and he has that in Neil Lennon.

The time will come that Odsonne Eduoard will leave our shores and that’s when everyone will see just what a top performer he really is.

The French U21 striker will join a team in a top five league and will go for a £20+ fee.

Until then I will just enjoy him hitting various nets in Scotland and beyond.

Kieran Tierney Is Just Getting Started At Arsenal

Left-back Kieran Tierney impressed on his debut for Arsenal against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.

Then last night the Scottish internationalist was once again a standout performer as he shone in his Europa League debut with the North London giants.

His first two outings in a red and white shirt have earned Kieran plenty of plaudits from the home support at The Emirates:

Now here’s the thing Arsenal fans, the boy isn’t even fully fit yet!

There’s more to come!

I’ve stated on here a few times in the past that Kieran Tierney has the potential to be a better left-back than Liverpool star Andrew Robertson.

Firstly he’s a better a defender. At Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp loves to push his full-backs forward but that at times sees the team being caught out defensively. Both Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been out of position at times and it’s cost the team (Granted not often).

Tierney (in my opinion) has more of an understanding when he needs to stay back and help out the rest of his backline. Arsenal have missed that from a full-back in recent years and it becomes particularly noticeable in the bigger encounters. Against the top four, Tierney should offer his teammates more protection at the back. He will run all day, make challenges and get in people’s faces. He relishes competition and you see that on the training ground as well as on the pitch. Other than Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira, The Gunners seem to lack that bite and desire to work hard for the team.

Another plus that Kieran has over Robertson is his adaptability. We’ve seen recently that Andrew has struggled in a Scotland jersey and that’s because he can’t get the same license to roam forward. Kieran can adapt his game. A big reason for that has been playing for Celtic, domestically he was tasked with making more runs into attack and in Europe he had to be more disciplined. KT is also a versatile player too. He’s obviously at his best on the left but if needed he can play over on the right and even in a defensive three as he can read the game well and make astute tackles.

Tierney is also very good when he goes forward. His crossing ability was on full show last night. He produced a wonderful assist for Gabriel Martinelli’s first goal against Standard Liège last night (Link to Bt Sport game highlights). He also links up well with those around him in the opposition’s half of the field. You’ll see him constantly offering himself on that flank and play neat one-twos with the more attacking players.

Another thing you really can’t fault with Tierney is his attitude. He wants to win and he wants to make the home support happy. He will give you 100% every time. He’s a twenty-two year old that’s living his dream and you sense that when you see him.

Gunners gaffer Unai Emery made point of mentioning the left-back’s positive attitude after last night’s win:

‘Kieran, after his injury, he’s coming back with a good attitude,’

‘Last week he played 80 minutes against Nottingham Forest with a good performance.’

‘Tonight is also a good performance. ‘I think were are a better competitive team with him and Sead Kolasinac at left-back. ‘We are happy with him.’

via the metro

At times in the past Arsenal’s defence have looked weak and lackadaisical. I don’t think Kieran Tierney will stand for that and you can be rest assured he won’t fall into that rut.

Arsenal fans should be very pleased because this is just the start when it comes to watching heroic displays from the Scottish international defender!