All posts by seanfisher00

Ole! Ole! Ander Herrera? Spaniard linked with a move to PSG

Emerging reports suggest Manchester United midfielder, Ander Herrera, is closing in on a summer switch to French Champions, Paris Saint Germain.

The Spaniard moved to Old Trafford in 2014 under Louis Van Gaal for a reported £32m. Since then, United’s number 21 has become a fan-favourite amongst the Old Trafford faithful, and was named the club’s Player of the Year in the 2016-17 season.

The 29 year old earned his plaudits via hard-work, passion and dedication both on and off the pitch for the Red Devils. Herrera was even singled out by newly-named manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for praise, “he has so much passion, energy and enthusiasm that he gives everyone around him that little extra spark to go. He’s a leader in that respect.” Herrera’s highlighted leadership has also led to an array of United fans wanting the Spaniard to be given the honour of team captain.

However, in recent weeks, with Herrera on the last year of his contract, negotiations between the player and club have somewhat seemed to stall and rumours are circling of interest from PSG. Herrera is believed to want in excess of £200,000 a week to extend his stay at Old Trafford, however United seem hesitant to oblige. Reports this weekend claim that the midfielder has signed a pre-contract with PSG, who were willing to meet his wage demands, meaning Herrera would leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.

With Alexis Sanchez’s £350,000 per week United salary being common knowledge, it is no surprise the board at Manchester United are struggling to appease their player’s wage demands. With the Chilean failing to meet expectations, it is hard for the Red Devils to justify his pay-packet.

Should Herrera leave, United face the difficult challenge of replacing him. Similar to many players at Old Trafford, Herrera has seemed rejuvenated under the refreshing reign of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 20 Premier League appearances this season emphasise his importance in a balanced United midfield. His tenacity and work-rate has been complimentary to midfield partner, Paul Pogba, allowing the Frenchman to venture forwards in more attacking roles. Herrera’s 2 goals and 3 assists this season doesn’t entirely represent his value to United, and with European giants such as PSG willing to pay £200,000 a week for him, it shows his work for the team has not gone unnoticed.

In terms of replacements, many fans would argue that £53m summer signing, Fred, could fill the midfield void left by Ander Herrera. However, the Brazilian seems to have struggled to adapt to Premier League life since his switch from Shakhtar Donetsk. Despite a brilliant performance against PSG, Fred has struggled for consistency throughout his 19 appearances this season. However, should Herrera leave, opportunities for Fred to consolidate a position in Solskjaer’s starting 11 will appear, and going off his 15 goals and 15 assists in 155 appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk, could very well play a similar role to Herrera in midfield.

Other rumours circling the football world is that should Herrera depart for PSG, a player could be coming the other way. French international, Adrien Rabiot, doesn’t seem to be having the best of times at PSG, with his mother and agent, claiming “Adrien is a prisoner, a PSG hostage”. It is therefore not surprising that Rabiot is rumoured to want to leave the club this summer. However, if United are keen to claim the signature of the Frenchman, they will have to fend off interest from Real Madrid and Arsenal, who are also looking to replace wantaway midfielders, Modric and Ramsey.

Do you think Herrera will leave? And if so, who should replace him at United?

@SeanFisher1502

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The make-or-break nature of Championship promotion

In recent years, the Premier League has flourished as one of the best leagues in the world, and with its success, the financial implications of the league have grown exponentially. Clubs have started to be managed as international businesses, and team crests have become commonplace icons across all cultures throughout the globe. TV rights have skyrocketed, with the Premier League’s current deal agreed in 2015 worth a humbling £5.14bn.

With all this considered, the gulf in profitability between the Premier League and England’s second division, the Championship, is unnerving. The Championship is considered by many as an unpredictable league, with a handful of teams every year making a push for promotion. However, for their team to compete amongst England’s best, club owners are required to get their cheque books out.

Reports have shown that clubs that successfully achieved promotion from the Championship in recent years averaged losses of £550,000 a week. Current holders of the Championship title, Wolverhampton Wanderers, took the league by storm in 2018, ending their campaign on a colossal 99 points. However, their dominance came at a huge cost, with the West Midlands side reporting a loss of £59.7m throughout the season, an average of over a £1m loss per week.

Similarly, after Newcastle’s promotion back to the top flight in 2017, the Magpies suffered a heavy loss of £59m during their journey back to the Premier League. Add on top the current predicament of Bolton Wanderers and their financial issues regarding players wages, it is apparent that the Championship is an economic wasteland for club owners.

The reason behind such huge losses for Championship clubs seems to lie in the cost of wages and transfer fee amortisation. In 2017/18, Wolves, Birmingham City and Reading all paid more than twice as much in wages and amort than their seasonal income. With the Royals finishing in a disappointing 20th position that season, it beckons the question over the sustainability of a Championship club when promotion is out of the question and such heavy financial investment has been made.

When teams are spending so much in a push for promotion, it seems that going up is a make-or-break situation for clubs in the Championship. However, the rewards for a promoted team are staggering. During the 2017/18 season, the smallest amount of TV rights money earned by a club was the £95.4m granted to West Brom. This figure alone trumps the seasonal income of the highest-earning Championship side in the same season, with Aston Villa reportedly making an income of £68.6m.

A disheartening correlation can be found when comparing the income of clubs in the Premier League, and the losses of clubs in the Championship. The income of Premier League giants is ever-increasing, with Liverpool’s expected profits reaching the eye-watering heights of £100m after their Champions League success last season. In contrast, the combined operating loss of Championship clubs since the 2014/15 season is spiralling out of control. The combined loss of Championship clubs in 2014/15 was £288m. That number has increased annually, eventually resulting in the £391m collective loss in 2016/17.

With the Premier League increasingly becoming a profitable international franchise, should more care be taken with Championship clubs in their pursuit of top-flight football?

Sean Fisher @seanfisher1502

Can the Lionesses impress in the SheBelieves Cup?

Written by Sean Fisher

The invitational women’s football tournament starts this Wednesday, and will see the English National team pitted against the world’s best.

Phil Neville’s England side travel to the US this February for the 4th edition of the annual cup. This year’s tournament sees England, United States, Japan and Brazil go head-to-head in a round-robin format where points are awarded for the teams in a group stage.

The tournament is a great chance for fans to see some of the world’s best teams face off before the 2019 World Cup in France this summer. All 4 competitors of the tournament are currently placed in the top 10 FIFA rankings, with the US currently leading affairs as the best ranked team in the world.

England will be hoping to win their first SheBelieves title this February, but will face fierce competition from World Cup winners US as they attempt to win the title for a 3rd time.

Japan and Brazil are competing in the cup for the first time, replacing France and Germany who had competed in all of the previous SheBelieves competitions. Japan enter the tournament with the best run of form, having won their past 5 games, and the Asian side will be a primary point of interest for Phil Neville and co. as England are set to face Japan in group D of the World Cup this summer.

Phil Neville’s first game in charge of the team came in last year’s competition, where he oversaw England’s 4-1 triumph over France. But the Lionesses will want to improve upon last years efforts when they kick off the tournament this Wednesday and bring home a trophy and a confidence boost before the World Cup.

England’s first match takes place tomorrow night in Pennsylvania as they take on newcomers, Brazil. This saturday they take on holders, United States before capping off the competition against Japan on the 5th March.

Can the Lionesses impress in America and win the SheBelieves Cup?

Should Arsenal set their sights on the Europa League?

Written By Sean Fisher

With Arsenal currently out of the top 4 and out of all domestic competitions, could the Europa League be Arsenal’s saving grace?

After their recent 3-0 win over BATE, Unai Emery’s side progressed to the round of 16 of the competition where they are set to face French side Rennes.

The 2019 Europa League final is set to be hosted in Baku, Azerbaijan. And come the 29th May, the Gunners will be hoping to return to the city for the second time this season following their 3-0 triumph over Qarabag in the group stages.

The city of Baku may become a familiar sight for many players after it’s Olympic Stadium was chosen to host 4 matches during the 2020 Euros, including a Quarter Final match on the 4th July.

The competition is Arsenal’s only real hope of silverware this season after crashing out of the FA and Carabao Cup. Winning the Europa League wouldn’t just present Emery with his first trophy with Arsenal, but would also earn his side Champions League qualification, concluding his first season as a successful transition from the Wenger era.

With Emery at the helm, Arsenal fans should be quietly confident of their chances in Europe this season. The Spaniard boasts an impressive record in the Europa League, winning the competition 3 seasons in a row when in charge of Spanish side Sevilla. This places Emery alongside Giovanni Trapattoni as the only managers to have won the competition 3 times, the latter winning the honour with Juventus twice and Inter Milan.

Should Arsenal go on to win the cup, Emery would achieve what Wenger couldn’t in the shape of a European trophy. Wenger reached the final of the Europa League in 2000 but eventually bowed out to Galatasaray via penalties after a scoreless game.

Arsenal’s only previous success in the competition came back in 1994 during their Cup Winners’ Cup campaign, before it was re-branded the Europa League in the 98-99 season. But it seems Arsenal have the right man in charge to help bring European success back to the Gunners.

The Arsenal side at present are 3rd favourites to win the competition behind London rivals Chelsea and Italian giants Napoli, but are first faced by a difficult challenge when they fly to France for their first leg clash against Stade Rennais F.C. on the 7th March.

The French side progressed into the round of 16 after beating Real Betis in a goal-filled tie that ended 6-4 on aggregate. With the French side scoring frequently this season, they could present a heavily-criticised Arsenal defence with a few problems in their road to the final.

Is it realistic for Arsenal to target European success this season?