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Nikola Kovac sacked! Who should replace him?

Bayern München have sacked manager Niko Kovac following their 5-1 loss away to Frankfurt on Saturday. But who should replace him?

Bayern sit 4th in the Bundesliga and top of their group in the Champions League – so it has been in no way a failure of a season. With this in mind, who ever replaces him won’t have the biggest job on their hands to turn the Bavarians fortunes around. 

Arsene Wenger

The former Arsenal Premier League winner is one of the favourites to take the job. After spending twenty-two successful years at the Gunners, the seventy-year-old has spent the last few years being a pundit. But the mastermind that lead Arsenal to a whole season unbeaten could go back into management with one of the best teams in Europe.

Max Allegri

A more realistic and probably conventional option for the Bundesliga champions is Max Allegri. After being sacked in early 2019 by Juventus, Allegri has been without a job which is surprising considering his known quality. Allegri started his managerial career at Serie D side Aglianese and has never ventured out of Italy but with more experience of modern football and a more nailed down football style, he would be a much better acquisition. 

Jose Mourinho

The Champions League winner is the bookies favourite to take the job but he has also been linked to the Arsenal job if Emery gets the sack. The former Manchester United man has publicly implied that he is looking for a job and Mourinho would fit the bill at the German club well.

 

Who ever takes the job has a great platform to build from. Bayern sit just four points behind the top spot which isn’t a big deficit to make up over the rest of the season. Add in the form of Lewandowski and the arrival of young defenders Pavard and Hernandez and you’ve got some very big players with a bright future.

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Roma for Rodwell?

Jack Rodwell is reportedly in Italy ahead of a shock medical at Roma. 

Rodwell was a promising youngster starring for Everton at just sixteen years old. The England international was playing for Everton u18’s at just fourteen years old before making his first team debut in the Europa League against AZ.

After two impressive seasons at Goodison Park, Manchester City came calling and the Sky Blues got their man for a large £15million. Unluckily for the versatile defender, his time at the Etihad was scuppered by injuries and he was moved on the then Premier League strugglers Sunderland.

The Black cats acquired his services for around £10million in 2014. The twenty-eight-year-old stayed at the Stadium of Light for four years making sixty-seven appearances in the process. Despite spending four years at the club, it was relatively unsuccessful spell and he was released in 2018. Then, he joined Blackburn on a free and he impressed but was left without a club this summer.

So, after failing to impress since his time at Everton, it is a bit of a shock the Roma have come calling. Roma aren’t famed for having a great defence but even still, Rodwell is a shot in the dark.

If he rediscovers his form and stays clear of injury, can he become a top Serie A player?

Gunning for the Top Four

Arsenal are a conundrum at the moment. It feels like there definitely is something up with them, but also like everything might just be going alright as Unai Emery attempts to move on from the Arsene Wenger era.

Opinion is generally split on whether the Spaniard is doing a good job or not, although last night’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United seems like it may have sent Arsenal fans over the edge. In fairness to Emery though, annoying the Arsenal fans doesn’t take much if you’re their manager.

The loss at Bramall Lane saw the Gunners spurn the opportunity to go third – and if they had won then perspectives today would probably be greatly different. 

But they did not, and their defeat was against a Sheffield United side who are not to be underestimated. The Blades are organised, well drilled and constantly surprising the Premier League with innovative tactics. It’s probably safe to assume that we’re all now up to date on the functions of overlapping centre backs.

Watching the game, it really didn’t feel like Arsenal were ever going to score. To use that old cliche, they could have kept playing till the next morning and still not have found a way through. 

Even recapping over the short burst of highlights Sky Sports graces us with on YouTube, there is very little for Arsenal to shout about from the game. Whoever was editing that video would have had a hard job scraping together three minutes of action. 

But it’s not like the Gunners lack any abundance of attacking talent. They have Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe as a ‘first choice’ front three. Then they also have the young talents of Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock. 

Behind them in midfield, they have the aggressive pairing of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, as well as Dani Ceballos adding a bit more technical quality. 

With this considered, you feel that Emery should be doing better. It seems he is struggling to find a system to incorporate and fully utilise the talents of his squad. Sheffield United were superb on Monday night but with the quality Arsenal have, they really should have created more. 

If only they had a little bit more class in the final third. A proven creative, an assists machine. Someone who, preferably, had proven themselves on the world stage. 

The above is, of course, a thinly veiled reference to Meszut Ozil – the forgotten man at the Emirates. It’s only three years since he recorded 19 assists in one season, and it seems Arsenal are in need of his creativity now. 

But he generally remains on the bench or out of the squad, with Emery tight lipped about what exactly is going on. It’s a mystery that has, unbelievably, seemed to unite Arsenal fans behind Ozil. 

There are certainly failings on Emery’s part, but there are some things that just haven’t gone his way.

The Gunners have generally failed to recruit well in defence of late, and what they have to show for the fruits of their labour is a centre back pairing of Sokratis and David Luiz. This partnership has become something of a calamity duo, with Luiz’s failings in one on one situations becoming ever more apparent. 

And then there are the early season injuries to Hector Bellerin and new signing Kieran Tierney going against Emery. Arsenal look, on paper, relatively strong at full back with these two fit. Bellerin’s return is imminent while Tierney has apparently recovered. Emery’s unwillingness to throw him straight in, though, is yet another thing that is angering fans. 

So while some things are certainly not helpful for Emery, there are ways in which he could be doing better. Some fluidity and creativity is needed up front, and the ex-PSG manager desperately needs to find the best system for his talented front line. Most likely, it will involve some difficult decisions on who to leave out. 

So in the sense that Emery has gotten some good attackers and is blooding young prospects (which, thanks to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, we now know is the best thing in the world), he is doing pretty well.

But there is a lack of coherency and guile, as well as floundering attempts to find the best system for his side. And not to forget the shortcomings at centre back. So there’s some good, but also some bad.

With a fully fit and firing squad, Arsenal should really be aiming for the top four. The Gunners will not want another season confined to the Europa League. 

Bournemouth vs Norwich – Match Review

Before kick off, neither Bournemouth or Norwich had a clean sheet all season but somehow both teams found some form of defensive stability and it ended 0-0.

The visitors, rejuvenated by the return of many key players, started with a different line up to their past games. Normally 4-2-3-1, the Canaries changed to 4-1-4-1 with centre midfielder Moritz Leitner playing further forward than normal. As for Bournemouth, they were boosted by the return of right back Adam Smith and Scotland international Ryan Fraser.

The Cherries came out the better team, not giving Norwich any time on the ball. However, when Bournemouth were on the ball, they lacked the clinical touch and could only manage two shots on target the entire game. As the game went on though, the Canaries grew into it but couldn’t break Bournemouth’s resolute defence.

The first notable shot did come from the home side with Callum Wilson sliding in Solanke, only for the former Chelsea and Liverpool academy star to shoot straight at Krul, allowing him to make the save.

After that, the first half petered out with both teams normally impressive strike forces not finding form.

In the second period, it turned into a scrappy affair with both sides struggling to create opportunities. Late on however, Norwich did start to create chances and finally tested young keeper Aaron Ramsdale through Finish striker Teemu Pukki. Aarons intercepted a poor pass from Cook and passed to Buendia who dodged a few tackles. Then, he put it on a plate for Pukki to shoot twenty five yards from goal but Ramsdale punched it past the post. After netting twice in the international break to all but seal second place in the group for his country, Pukki was lively again on the South Coast. The striker, who’s already grabbed six goals this season, didn’t give the Bournemouth defenders a moments peace and was always latching onto loose balls.

Then, as the clock ticked on towards ninety minutes, substitute Arnaut Danjuma wriggled through Norwich’s defence only to put his shot straight into the gloves of Tim Krul. After that, chances for Tom Trybull and Kenny McLean went begging and the match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Not the most entertaining encounter of the weekend but a vital point on the road for the Canaries. Daniel Farke was extremely delighted with the point saying ‘Off the mark for away games and to be there with the first clean sheet of the season is difficult but always important’ but adding ‘Bit disappointed that we were not able to win this game’

As for Bournemouth, it wasn’t such a good point with most of the Dean Court faithful wanting all three.

Amongst all the positives, there was one negative for the Canaries, their last fit centre back Ben Godfrey hobbled off injured five minutes after the restart. Farke said in all his years of managing that he’d never had all his centre backs injured at the same time.

Sunderland Sack Jack Ross…

Somewhat surprisingly, yesterday Sunderland Boss Jack Ross had his contract terminated by the club.

Surprising because the season is still early and despite a poor start to the season, the black cats had managed to climb up the table, currently sitting in a playoff position.

They have 19 points from their 11 games and a plus, albeit small goal difference, of 2. They have lost just 2 matches… Hardly relegation form you’ll agree.

The club decided to terminate Ross’ contract with immediate effect and want to move forward in a different direction. Ross did extrememly well to stabalise a club, which was in free fall and had suffered back to back relegations, prior to his arrival.

In his first season, having rebuilt well, he guided the club to a checkatrade trophy final, where they were narrowly beaten by Portsmouth on penalties and the League 1 play off final where again they lost narrowly to Charlton 2-1.

Ross is by no means a bad manager, he forged his name north of the border and leaves Sunderland with his held high. He has a good win percentage of 50% and there are plenty of managers with a far worse win ratio still in employment, and whose clubs are far worse off than Sunderland.

It remains to be seen, who will take up the new post.