All posts by hazbo1999

Five young Championship players who could step up to the Premier League this summer

The quality of the Championship has undoubtedly soared over recent years and as a result their are many young players making a name for themselves in English footballs second tier. With players such as Dele Alli and Harry Maguire beginning their careers outside the top flight and now starring in the Premier League with full international honours, it is clear that there is real talent out there. But which young Championship stars are ready to make the step up now?

Mason Mount, Derby (Loan)- The young loanee from Chelsea has really made an impact at Derby this season and has led them all the way to the play off final. With 11 goals and 6 assists the 20 year old has been in fine form despite a few injury troubles, and with Chelsea’s current transfer embargo Mount could become a key player for Sarri’s side next term. If not he will almost definitely be on loan at another Premier League club after proving he is a cut above Championship level. He has all the key skills a good attacking midfielder needs but is also not afraid to do the dirty work, tracking back and putting challenges in, expect big things from Mount over the coming years.

Daniel James, Swansea- Heavily linked with a big money move to Manchester United, Swansea winger Daniel James has turned heads with his incredible pace, dribbling skills and end product. The 21 year old was close to joining Leeds in January but the deal fell through at the last minute, contrary to many other players who’s form nosedives after a failed transfer, James continued his stellar form and recorded three goals and five assists after Christmas to take his overall tally to 5 goals and 10 assists in 38 games. The Welsh international went viral earlier this season after a goal he scored against Brentford highlighted his immense pace as he sped through the whole defence from just inside his own box and finished well.

Marcus Tavernier, Middlesbrough- Brother of Rangers captain James Tavernier, Marcus has made a name for himself on his own right after a string of promising performances for Tony Pulis Middlesbrough during 18/19. The left winger has broke through this season making 27 appearances and recording four goals and three assists with many feeling he would be the perfect replacement for Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth. Eddie Howe has a reputation for giving football league prospects a chance such as Callum Wilson and David Brooks and a move to the South Coast could be the perfect place for the 20 year old to develop.

Che Adams, Birmingham- The 22 year old striker has just enjoyed the best season of his career with Birmingham and has bagged 22 goals in 48 games, not missing a single League game and finally turning that potential into consistent performances. His finishing has dramatically improved and he is now much stronger, allowing him to hold the ball up much better and bring teammates into play. Premier League clubs such as Burnley, Crystal Palace and Southampton are interested in Adams and it seems inevitable the Leicester born goal scorer will be playing Premier League football next season, the only question is where?

Jarrod Bowen, Hull- Winger Jarrod Bowen has built on a very good 17/18 and upped the ante this term grabbing more goals, assists and playing more games. Playing predominantly off the right hand side cutting inside onto his left foot, Bowen has bewildered many fullbacks this season and almost managed the impossible of carrying a very average Hull side to the play offs. Unsurprisingly he picked up the player of the year, the fans player of the year and the players player of the year at the end of season awards and rumour has it Champions League finalists Tottenham are sniffing around the 22 year old.

Who do you think would have the biggest impact on the Premier League?


Shaky times for Bury as the club fight for their survival

Not so long ago things were looking very rosy at Gigg Lane, with the Shakers in touching distance of the top spot and one game from a Wembley final, with a team playing brilliant attacking football. Who would’ve thought a month later any hopes of the title are long gone and the club were yesterday in court faced with sizeable debts that could cripple the club for many years to come.

It’s been speculated for many years that Bury were living beyond their means, big wages an expensive training ground but poor performances on the pitch have left the club in serious trouble, narrowly escaping a winding up order yesterday that will be revisited on May the 15th.

Previous owner Stewart Day- who saved the club from extinction in 2013, intended to take the club from League Two to the Championship within five years. Despite a promotion from League Two to League One in 2015, the club never even looked close to reaching the Championship. 17/18 being the ultimate low point as the club (who were expected to reach the play offs before the season began) finished rock bottom and returned to the bottom tier.

Everything was pinned on the club going up last season and it was very much a win or bust situation, not gaining promotion would’ve been a disaster financially, getting relegated will have detrimental effects on the club going forward, if the club survives that is.

To make matters even worse it has now been revealed players and staff have not been getting paid over recent months. A travesty for all involved as everyone working within the club has performed incredibly this season and continue to go above and beyond to give the club the best chance of success.

With five games left the club still have a very good chance of automatic promotion, but with all the behind the scenes issues currently going on promotion has taken a back seat. Promotion would mean having to sign a better standard of player, who’d command a higher wage, something the club may not be able to afford right now. Long term would the club be better off staying in League Two while they recover financially from the Day era? Who knows, but for many fans just having a club at all come the 15th of May will be the priority.

James Norwood- the countries top scorer’s on the rise

Tranmere’s James Norwood is enjoying the best season of his career in England’s basement division, with 28 goals in 42 games so far, the striker has been simply unstoppable in front of goal. 

Starting his career off at Devon based club Exeter in 2009, Norwood made his debut on the first day of the 09/10 season against Leeds. However, over the next two seasons Norwood struggled for game time and only made four league appearances, being shipped out on loan to Sutton, Forest Green and Eastbourne Borough with limited success.

Following his release, Norwood resigned for Forest Green this time on a permanent basis. His first season was a struggle as he managed only three goals in the National League as Forest Green finished 10th. The next three seasons were much more fruitful for Norwood as he adapted to Non League and becoming a regular starter, to score 16, 19 and 11 goals, helping Forest Green finish 10th, 10th and 5th narrowly losing in the play off semi-final to Bristol Rovers.

After his contract expired in the summer of 2015, Norwood joined newly relegated National League side Tranmere on a two year deal. He continued his fine form as Tranmere initially struggled to gain promotion, but 17/18 saw the striker enjoy the best season of his career, as he notched 23 goals as Tranmere won the play off final, Norwood scoring the winner as Rovers overcame Boreham Wood 2-1 at Wembley.

Tranmere’s first season back in the football league since 2015 has been a huge success, as they currently sit comfortably in the Play offs and won’t have ruled out going up automatically. Much of this success can be attributed to Norwood, who is the type of striker that scores goals in patches, scoring 7 goals in the first 7 games of the season, 9 in 9 over October, November and December and is currently on a run of 6 in his last 6.

But one fear they will have is their top scorer and best players contract is set to expire this summer, and with little progress being made on an extension fans must be beginning to sweat.

The striker won’t be short of offers, with Championship side Ipswich already rumoured to be monitoring the situation. With back to back top scoring seasons at National League and League Two level, the logical next step for the 28 year old would be a step up the pyramid, whether that will be with Tranmere or elsewhere remains to be seen.

Ireland’s best XI since 2000

Ireland begin their new campaign under new/old manager Mick McCarthy with Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia. Despite the national side struggling over recent years, The boys in green have had some great players and teams over the years, all the more impressive when you consider the small size of the country and the preference for Gaelic sports- Hurling and Gaelic Football. But who would make it into an XI of players born in the modern era?

Goalkeeper- Shay Given

Ireland’s greatest ever goalkeeper and one of the Premier Leagues best, Shay Given was a standout player for Ireland for much of the last two decades. Making his debut at the age of 19 in 1996 and was first choice until his international retirement in 2016, picking up a whopping 134 caps and representing Ireland at a World Cup and two European Championships. The first player to represent Ireland for more than 20 years, Given is an icon of the game and a player all young Irish goalies should look up to.

Right Back- Seamus Coleman

One of only three current players to make this side, Ireland’s captain has struggled since his horrendous leg break while representing his nation against Wales, and has not yet been able to get back to his best. But at his peak Coleman was a rampaging fullback, capable of defending and attacking in equal brilliance, with a work rate to match. One of the Premier League’s best right backs, Everton secured one of the deals of the century buying Coleman from Irish side Sligo Rovers for just £60,000, and he has gone on to make over 200 Premier League appearances for the Merseyside club. Still with so much to offer, Coleman will be a very important player for McCarthy, and will be hoping to lead Ireland to their third consecutive Euros.

Centre Back- John O’Shea

Another 100 cap+ legend, John O’Shea is one of the most successful Irish players of all time after his illustrious 12 years at the top of the domestic & European game with Manchester United. During this time he was also a pivotal part of the Irish National side, ever present in the qualifying campaigns for the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012, O’Shea played every minute for Ireland at Euro 2012 and captained the side at Euro 2016. O’Shea’s versatility meant he played in a variety of different positions, but he looked most at home next to centre back partner Richard Dunne, and the two formed a solid duo during their time together.

Centre Back- Richard Dunne

The other half of the solid defensive partnership, Dunne originally struggled to cement his place in the starting eleven during the younger days of his career, often being overlooked by managers. But when he finally earned a regular place (around 2008), he was a mainstay until he retired. Capable of weighing in with contributions in both boxes, Dunne scored a credible eight goals in his 80 games for Ireland, including two goals in qualification for the 2002 World Cup and two goals in qualification for the 2010 World Cup. A legend at Man City in their pre-money days, Dunne played 431 times in the top flight of English football and has recently been inducted in the FAI Hall Of Fame.

Left Back- Ian Harte

Goal scoring left back Ian Harte was a solid and reliable player for Ireland during his 11 years of service, culminating in being one of Ireland’s best players as they reached the 2002 World Cup, playing every minute in qualifying and weighing in with four goals. Although a toe injury at the finals restricted his playing time, Harte remained a key player for the next five years, scoring another five goals to take his tally to 12. Retiring internationally in 2007 at the relatively young age of 30, Ireland are yet to fully replace Harte and have had to resort to playing wingers Kevin Kilbane and Robbie Brady at left back, despite their importance further up the field.

Right Wing- Damien Duff

Damien Duff is one of the best Irish players of recent times and his pace, skill and creativity can be matched by few in the national sides history. A standout player at underage level playing at both the 1997 under 18 European championships and the 1999 World Youth Championships, Duff made his senior debut in March 1998 and went on to represent Ireland 100 times. Playing at two major championships Duff was a hugely important player under a succession of Ireland Managers, and remained the key creative force for well over a decade.

Centre Midfielder- Roy Keane

Love him or hate him there’s one thing you simply cant deny about Roy Keane, he was an unbelievable player. From being the standout player leading his nation to the World Cup Finals, to leaving before the tournament even started after a blazing row with manager Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane has had an up and down relationship with his nation. The tough tackling, hard working monster that was Roy Keane in his prime was quite simply unplayable, playing every minute of Ireland’s 1994 World Cup campaign. Many expected the side to be built around Keane, which in many ways it was, but he has often been criticised for pulling out of Ireland squads and as a result only picked up 67 caps. Talent wise he may be the greatest Irish player of all time, but he will never be idolised as much as another R. Keane on this list.

Centre Midfielder- Wes Hoolahan

A small, technical attacking midfielder, Hoolahan is seen as perhaps one of the biggest Irish wastes of talent of the past 20 years. In many ways his style was more suited to the Spanish game as he is not your typical Irish football player, but the fact he only picked up 43 caps despite his impressive club form is a strange conundrum for a team often lacking a creative playmaker and spark. The highlight of his Irish career will undoubtedly be Euro ’16, where he scored his countries first goal of the competition against Sweden, and later provided an assist for Robbie Brady against Italy as Ireland progressed to the knockout rounds. On the biggest stage Hoolahan proved his worth, but sadly he was often underused and under appreciated.

Left Wing- James McClean

The controversial winger was a bit part player during his early days with the senior side, often being used as an impact sub with his pace and work rate causing problems. Eventually forcing his way into the team, McClean has become Ireland’s best player over the past three years, going from a winger capable of running at defenders and causing problems, to a bona-fide match winner who has carried the team at times. Qualification for the 2018 World Cup saw McClean become the sides talisman as he scored four goals, including the winner against Wales to earn his side a place in the play-offs. His passion for pulling on the Irish shirt is unrivalled, and although he may be universally hated in England, in his home nation he’s a hero and an icon.

Striker- Robbie Keane

In the green jersey of Ireland has there ever been a better player? The record appearance maker and goalscorer for the national side, its safe to say there will never be another quite like Robbie Keane. From his iconic goal against Germany at the World Cup to his final goal against Oman on his final appearance, Keane has given everything and more for his nation. An incredible finisher, but also having the capabilities to create as well as score has meant Keane has been indispensable, and there is a genuine argument to say Ireland wouldn’t have qualified for any of the last three tournaments if it wasn’t for Keane. With a phenomenal record of 23 goals in 44 Euro Qualifiers and 18 goals in 37 World Cup Qualifiers, not many strikers can boast such numbers and not many nations have been so reliant on one man.

Striker- Shane Long

Shane Long is a classic poacher who works hard, has blistering pace and can finish. The 32 year old looks set to break the 100 cap mark in the next few years and will be hoping to add to his 17 goals. His strike partnership with Robbie Keane was very fruitful for both, as Long would do the running for both allowing Keane to find space to create and score. As a result Long has only scored once since Keane’s retirement and his club form has took a huge downturn as well over the past two seasons. But with important goals in qualifying against the likes of Poland and Germany, Long deserves his place in this list, and many Irish fans will be hoping he can recover his form and fire Ireland to Euro 2020.

The pack are well and truly back, and better than ever

On the 4th May 2013- Wolverhampton Wanderers are relegated for a second successive time after losing to Brighton on the last day of the season, dropping into the third tier of English football for the first time in 24 years.                                                              16th March 2019- Wolves stun United to book their place in the FA Cup Semi-Finals (only their second appearance at Wembley in 31 years) sit 7th in the Premier League, and have a squad jam-packed with exciting European talent.

Wolves have managed to transform themselves from a team going nowhere fast, to a trailblazing side looking towards Europe and a cup final appearance, from the dark days of League One to where they are now its quite staggering.

At the time a season in League One wasn’t a particular disaster after the pain and suffering of back to back relegations. Being the big fish in a small pond suited Wolves, and they still regularly attracted 25,000+ crowds as they stormed to the title, breaking the 100 point barrier and only losing five league games all year.

On their return to the Championship Kenny Jackett steered them to an agonisingly close 7th place finish, missing out on the playoffs by just four goals. However a disappointing 14th place finish in 15/16 brought an end to Jackett’s tenure, just as the Fosun International group had bought the club.

The new Chinese owners first act was to appoint their own man in the shape of Walter Zenga, who would only last till October with the team sat 18th in the table. Paul Lambert was brought in to steady the ship, and that he did, managing to achieve a respectable if not mind blowing 15th place finish and upset Liverpool in the FA Cup 2-1.

With these two drab seasons in the rear view mirror fans had a reason to be optimistic in the summer of 2017, and that was for one reason and one reason only. Jorge Mendes. The super agent had been involved in the Fosun takeover the previous summer, and had slowly started to gain increasing influence in his advisory role. Summer signings included European wonderkid Ruben Neves, strong centre half Willy Boly, skillful playmaker Diogo Jota as well as more homegrown talents Ryan Bennett and John Ruddy, and Mendes was thought to be behind most of these deals.

Manager Nuno Espirito Santo was appointed (another Mendes client) and what followed was a brilliant transformation of the club. With a strong defence, a brilliant midfield and pace in attack Wolves were unstoppable, cruising to the title and a return to the Premier League, with central midfielder Ruben Neves looking like a bargain at just £15 million, his price surely quadrupling as he adapted to English football seamlessly.

This summer saw experienced Portuguese internationals Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio join the club, as well as Adama Traore, Jonny and Ruben Vinagre all represented by Mendes, further improving an already strong squad. This has shown out on the pitch, as they have been a team capable of troubling the big boys, beating the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham while drawing with champions Manchester City, and look very much to be “the best of the rest”. While breaking into the top six may be beyond their powers this season, they have made an incredible return to the top flight and look very likely to be playing European football next term, weather that be through their league position or cup exploits remains to be seen.

All in all with a manager they adore and players they idolise, it really seems like Wolverhampton are well on their way back.