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Will Plans Change for Euro 2021?

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Euro 2021

With the world in an unprecedented state due to the coronavirus, the planned European Championships, in 2020, have been postponed until the following summer. However, with plans to have Euro 2021 played across Europe will the current crisis affect these plans and force UEFA into a different idea?

The 2020 tournament was due to start on June 11 in Rome. Italy has been one of the biggest victims to the coronavirus and the country has been struggling to gain regularity for many weeks. Alongside Italy, other countries who are meant to host the tournament include England, Scotland, Ireland and eight other countries across the continent.

The father of this brainchild former disgraced UEFA president Michel Platini came up with the idea in 2012 and the idea just ran after the success of the Under 17s tournament. The idea was to have a “carnival atmosphere” around Europe and it would be the biggest party to celebrate an important year.

However, with coronavirus dominating the continent could officials at UEFA consider restricting the Euro 2021 to just one country? They could possibly investigate the idea given the amount of travel there would be for fans and players over the tournament; even during the group stage they will travel between two countries.

With countries such as Italy, England, Germany, Spain and France all capable to host the tournament due to the fact that they have more than sufficient stadiums to facilitate the high amount of attendances then UEFA might feel that the tournament is easier to police and regulate if it was restricted to one country.

However, in the past several countries have co hosted the tournament such as Holland & Belgium in 2000, Austria & Switzerland 2008 and Russia & Ukraine 2012. This could be something that the tournament hosts might be open to with England able to use stadiums in Scotland and Wales or Spain and Portugal are able to co host as well.

This option would be able to create the carnival atmosphere the orgainsers want whilst protecting the fans in the process. It would be easier to regulate than relying on so many different organisations getting involved.

However, if the coronavirus is under control and life is back to normality then you can fully expect the tournament to go ahead as normal and as planned by UEFA because they want to be able to showcase what they believe is the biggest international tournament behind the World Cup.

Ligue 1 Abandoned – Have France Done the Right Thing?

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Ligue 1 abandoned

At the start of May, the French officials decided that it was time for the French league to be cancelled and places be awarded on how the current table stood despite ten games still to be played. With other countries deciding to keep delaying their league decisions, the French have stuck to their guns around their own decision. However, have they done the right thing by awarding the league places as it stands?

France has been heavily affected by the coronavirus and have suffered 27,000 deaths in the country. With the country, like most of the globe, experiencing a lockdown situation the French Professional Football League (LFP) decided that now was the time to get the league situation sorted rather than leave a seed of doubt in many people’s heads.

League leaders Paris Saint Germain had a 12-point lead over 2nd placed Marseille and have been crowned champions for the 7th year in a row. It did look likely that PSG would go on to win the title once again and there are not many disputes surrounding the decision to award them the championship despite it not been mathematically impossible for Marseille to catch up.

Lyon and Amiens are just two clubs to lodge appeals to the LFP as they both have different reasons to want the league either to be null and voided or just delayed to a later date. Lyon, who are 7th in the league, feel they are still within a chance of securing a European spot as they try to make up a 9-point deficit against Lille. However, a European spot is vital to keeping certain players at the club and keeping the cash flow going to keep the club afloat.

On the flip side, Amiens have lodged a complaint because they are in a relegation position. However, are they in no way relegated with just 7 points separating them and Saint Etienne who occupy the final safe space in the league.

It is not just the top league that has been decided but also the two leagues below it. The decision has been incredibly controversial in Ligue 2 as Lorient were crowned champions even though they only had a one-point lead over Lens.

Players such as Cesc Fabregas have also questioned the decision but fully understand why the LFP have done it.

Ultimately, the safety of the players and their families is paramount  so you can understand why the LFP have done what they have done, especially given the French sports minister stated no sport would take place in the country until September.

Does the Loan System in the Lower Leagues Still Benefit Players?

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David Beckham Loan System

The loan system has been a tried and tested system with many clubs in the higher leagues sending their hot prospects to the lower divisions in England to prove their ability and gain much needed experience playing first team football. However, there are question marks being raised over the loan system and is it necessary in the modern game?

Loans in England work by one club sending a player to another club for either a short-term or long-term basis usually for no fee; especially if it is a younger player. Any player can be loaned out and depending on the financial implications of both clubs a decision will be made about how the player’s wages will be split.

Many lower league sides do benefit from the loan system and especially in League One and Two. They are able to acquire a player from a much higher division who can have more than enough qualities to help a lower league side.

It is an alternative to buying players for transfer fees and it is a way clubs can field a side. However, there are restrictions in place so clubs cannot use more than five loanees in the matchday squad.

In 2012, the Premier League scrapped the reserve league in favour of an under 21s league. Although this helped promote clubs playing youth prospects, it took away a certain competitive aspect and edge. Even though clubs can play three over 21 players in games, players are playing players of their same age. This means they are not coming up against players who might be physically stronger, have more knowledge about the game and have more on the line as to recovering to the first team. This is why a loan to a lower league club can often be a more productive way for a player to get matchday experience.

Many players like David Beckham, Danny Welbeck, Harry Kane, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe (who all represented England) state how important their loan deals to lower league clubs helped them all push on and achieve great things in the game. They were pitted against seasoned professionals as young players and were expected to compete at the same level.

The benefit of the loan system also takes youth prospects from Premier League or Championship clubs out of their luxurious comfort zones and drops them into a life they have not experienced since they were plying football for their local side when they were 10 years old. With many facilities at these clubs able to dream of the Premier League quality, it is a real throwback for young players who have a lot taken care for them in the modern game.

However, a loan is not always about gaining experience. Players can go out on loan as a way of finding a new club. If a club no longer sees the benefit in having a certain player around the club anymore, they are willing to let them leave to showcase their talents elsewhere in the hope that a club might make the deal permanent.

A player can often push for a move themselves if they are struggling to break into the first team and their contract is running out, they would prefer to be playing games than training all week for no reward.

A short-term loan of 1-3 months can be a perfect opportunity for players recovering from injuries and it provides a chance for players to build up their fitness. A player may have picked up an injury during a really good run of games for a team and is struggling to break back into the first team, so in a bid to get match ready and compete with the chosen squad they can go out on loan to get full match fitness.

The loan system needs to be kept in place due to all the benefits for players of all ages. It is a perfect way for clubs to help promote young players, give a player some much needed game time and can be a perfect way for a club to see if the loan player would be a permanent fix for them. 

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Why Is There a Lack of British Asian Players in Professional Football?

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British Asian Player Hamza Chaudhry

In the United Kingdom, about 8% of the population is made up of South Asian people but these figures have not translated into the sporting world of football with many British born Asian players struggling to break into the professional game. The question remains, is there an underlying issue regarding British Asian players?

There are only twelve British Asian players out of 3,700 professionals in England and Wales. Only four players have ever played in the top flight. Neil Taylor, Michael Chopra, Hamza Choudhury and Zesh Rehman have all graced the top flight in the hope that many would follow in their footsteps. However, it has not materialled just yet despite there being 3.5 million people from Asian descent in the United Kingdom.

Many believe that there are cultural differences when it comes to British Asians. But this is strictly not true and a wrongful stereotype. There are many young British Asian players who play football for a junior side or a Sunday League team and many believe that it goes much deeper.

In 2018, it was revealed that a British scout from a professional club felt that Asian players prefer to play non-contact sports such as cricket and hockey. However, this is easily classed as systematic racism and based on assumptions rather than a footballer they see before them.

Swansea midfielder Yan Dhanda, who is from Indian heritage, described how he has encountered a lot of racism on his footballing route to the Championship. He stated that he feels that these unjustified and simply barbaric incidents he has suffered only make him want to play his best.

In February 2019, Adil Nabi said that he wanted to be an inspiration to other British Asian footballers, in the same way that Cyrille Regis and Laurie Cunningham had done for black players who managed to shake off racist views by playing football and showcasing what they can do.

With the United Kingdom allowing associations such as Football Lads Alliance, who are supported by the vile Tommy Robinson, to exist then there will be more racist incidents up and down the country from the professional game to the grassroots level. In 2019, it was reported that a team in London walked off the pitch accusing the referee of being racist. The coach of the team, Sporting Bengal, also claimed that before the game the referee stated, “Your lot are not winning this”.

Alongside this 79% of British Asian footballers at grassroots level have experienced racist abuse.

 However, the English FA have highlighted these issues and are hoping to eradicate institutional racism surrounding British Asian players in the game. They plan to include programmes to encourage Asian players to be mentored more who are in the system at clubs. The FA have also extended plans to protect British Asian fans so they are not subject to abuse.

The key fundamentals to take from this is that clubs need to be promoting British Asian players and drop all appalling stereotypes that they feel about Asian players. Although many people in the United Kingdom feel like there is no racism in this country they are wrong and it is inherently true here in the game.

It is clear that British Asian players are interested in the game and despite all the abuse they receive they still want to play football. It is time that clubs showed the same by protecting these players and encouraging them to make the next step in the career to play the game professionally.

5 Reasons Why Arsenal Can Win the League

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Nicolas Pepe Arsenal

The last time Arsenal won the Premier League, Manchester City wasn’t even a big club. It’s been donkey’s years and the fans are growing tired. This summer saw the Gunners’ hierarchy finally put their money where their mouth was. Now for the first time in a long time, Arsenal look set to challenge for the Premier League title. Let’s discuss why.

Here are five reasons why Arsenal can win the league.

#5 Youth Prospects

There’s been an evident changing of the guard at the Emirates this year. Freddie Ljungberg’s promotion to assistant manager has shown Emery’s faith in playing youth prospects this season. And why wouldn’t he, the Gunners have some of the best upcoming youngsters in England. Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe are all in contention to start for the first team, not because of potential, but productivity. These prospects have given Emery a new dimension this season, as their hunger is there for all to see.

#4 Unai Emery’s second season

At the top level of football, not many managers get a lot of time to fully implement their style at a football club. If results don’t correspond, a coach can often be forced to change his philosophy or face the sack. For Unai Emery, he has a grace period of two years at Arsenal, with the higher-ups giving him time to build his squad and implement a philosophy.

Last season, we saw slight improvements from the old regime, but ultimately UCL qualification wasn’t achieved. This season, Emery has been able to change training regimes and breed a tactical identity at the Emirates, meaning there’s no excuse for no improvement this campaign.

 #3 Returning Injuries

They’ll be like a new signing,” is something Arsène Wenger used to say in relation to every injury the club had. But in this scenario, his words couldn’t hold more truth. By the end of October, the Gunners will be welcoming back Rob Holding and Hector Bellerín. These are two players that missed the majority of last season through a knee injury and crucial ligament rupture respectively. Both of these defenders are first-team picks for Emery, giving him the strength in depth a top-four challenging team needs.

#2 Improved Defence

It’s been evident for close to a decade that Arsenal has needed defensive reinforcements. This summer, the Arsenal higher-ups FINALLY addressed that deficiency. On Deadline Day, the Gunners signed one of the league’s most experienced defenders, David Luiz, a player who is a significant upgrade on the error-prone Shkodran Mustafi. On top of that, they signed one of the UK’s most promising left-backs in Kieran Tierney. The Gunners conceded 51 goals last season, the signing of these two players will significantly reduce that embarrassing total.

#1 Nicolas Pepe

Throughout last season, a whole host of clubs kept tabs on the exciting Nicolas Pepe. He was one of Europe’s most wanted players and for the first time in a long time, Arsenal has pulled off a real coup in the transfer market! Last season, the Ivorian scored 22 goals and provided 11 assists in 38 Ligue 1 appearances. That’s a strike rate that made him one of Europe’s most productive attackers.

The 24-year-old may take some time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League but once he gets going, he’ll form a formidable front three with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang.

How Will Manchester United Fare if Paul Pogba Leaves

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Paul Pogba

Whether he’s playing well or not, Paul Pogba is the most talked about player in England. The Frenchman is a global superstar that transcends the sport. His return to Old Trafford was branded as #Pogback, with many hailing him as the second coming of David Beckham. Unfortunately, his relationship with the United fans has soured since then.  

Below-par performances and a public spat with José Mourinho has turned public opinion against Pogba, with him becoming the scapegoat for all of United’s shortcomings. In spite of the belittling of his ability, the Frenchman is still an attractive prospect to many of Europe’s top teams, especially Real Madrid. Zinedine Zidane has made it clear that the midfielder is his top target for the summer, with Los Blancos hoping to secure a deal before the end of the European summer window.

Here’s how United will fare if Paul Pogba leaves.

Less Creativity

Last season, Paul Pogba was Manchester United’s primary source of chance creation. To prove that, he finished as United’s top scorer and assist provider, with 13 goals and 9 assists in 35 PL appearances.  On top of that, the 25-year-old maintained an 83% pass accuracy across the season, whilst averaging 60 passes a game. Such creativity will not be replicated by anyone else in the squad.

Technical Ability

Paul Pogba is one of those players that could lose the ball twelve times but produce one moment of magic to turn the whole game on its head. It’s that x-factor ability that United will miss the most and it’s an ability that can only be appreciated once it’s gone. From a technical standpoint, there’s no player better than Paul Pogba at United, his striking ability, technique and football intelligence are levels above his teammates. No one else at the club has the capability of producing moments of brilliance to change games.

Marketing Effect

I think people are underestimating how much of an asset the Frenchman is to Manchester United. He is by far and away the most famous player in Manchester today, known all over the world. There’s a reason why the higher-ups decided to sign him to a contract worth over £250,000-a-week, because they know how much he’ll generate them.

He’s a symbol of excellence for ethnic minorities in football, an inspiration to developing countries across the globe, this can be seen through his worldwide shirt sales. In his first weeks at the club, his shirt sales surpassed £190million.As a World Cup winner and Serie A champion, Pogba holds value in the market that the owners and Ed Woodward appreciate far more than his apparent shortcomings on the pitch.  

Ideal XI

If Paul Pogba were to swap Old Trafford for the Bernabéu, here’s the best possible line-up Manchester United could produce.

From a technical standpoint, only Juan Mata comes close to Paul Pogba. The Spaniard would now have to act as the creative hub for United, helping to pull the strings of their pacey attack. However, the two midfielders behind him won’t be able to offer much support in the final third for him. Matic would act as the holding midfielder, thus shielding the back four.

While Scott McTominay would have to do his best to make third man runs into the box, acting as the box to box midfielder. United’s pacey front three will as they always do, make intelligent runs into the box and down the flanks, however, all the pressure will be on Mata’s shoulders to supply them with the service Paul Pogba has done for years.

How Paulo Dybala Could Drastically Improve Manchester United

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Paulo Dybala
Paulo Dybala

Manchester United and Juventus have agreed on a swap deal in principle involving Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku according to sources in Italy.

Dybala wants to meet with new head coach Maurizio Sarri before making any decisions about his future as the attacker is keen to stay at Turin.

If the Argentine player does decide to move to Old Trafford, United fans can expect him to bring in something new and different.

Manchester United had a sub-par 2018\2019 season and are looking to strengthen their squad this summer, having already signed Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James the Reds still need more new faces and Dybala would be perfect for that.

With 78 goals and 30 assists in 182 appearances, his quality is underlined.
Dybala’s possesses a skill set that would help United in an area where they have been lacking quality. That lack of quality was on display in United’s recent pre-season 1-0 win against Kristiansund as they found it difficult to get past the Kristiansund men who wanted to sit back and defend for 90 minutes. When facing opponents that play in that manner United have lacked the spark to unlock and dominate the final third.

The Red Devils haven’t had a natural playmaker in a while and when they did, the players were pushed wide very often. Shinji Kagawa, Juan Mata, and Angel Di Maria were all used in that manner. Jesse Lingard has been the man to operate behind the striker in recent years but isnt’t exactly a player Solskjaer would look to for a creative spark when needed.

Solskjaer could also look to play Dybala up top alongside Marcus Rashford in a 4-4-2 formation but that would mean Paul Pogba wouldn’t be as effective as he isn’t known to fare well in the sort of midfield role in a 4-4-2.

It would be exciting to see ‘La Joya’ in the Premier League playing every weekend and he is a player with a lot of technique that is easy on the eyes.
The swap deal would favor both clubs as both players would be improvements on the options the clubs currently have.

Paul Pogba’s Time Could Be up at Old Trafford

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Paul Pogba Manchester United

Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has stirred up Manchester United fans as he spoke to The Times saying: “Everyone knows the willingness of Paul to move on. We are in the process of that. Everyone knows what the feelings of Paul are.”

The Italian-born Dutch agent also says that the club is aware of Pogba’s intentions and his statement throws more light on the issue of the Frenchman’s absence from United’s pre-season training last week.

Pogba came off a fine individual season with the Red Devils in the Premier League. The France international finished the season with the most goals, most assists, most take-ons, most chances created, most shots on target and the most fouls won for the club.

Those stats have Real Madrid and Juventus interested in the 26-year-old midfielder. Rumors say the Los Blancos submitted a bid of €72m plus Welshman Gareth Bale and Spanish midfielder Isco. Juventus are also willing to pay about €89m to bring Pogba back to Turin.

Solskjaer could be lining up potential replacements

Bruno Fernandes

After securing winger Daniel James from Swansea and right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace, United’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to add more quality to the club’s ranks and whether Pogba stays or leaves, Solskjaer is keen on adding Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes to the team.

The 24-year-old Portuguese midfielder scored 20 goals and bagged 13 assists in the Primeira Liga last season – as a midfielder. Those are astonishing numbers for a midfielder and are a very good example of why Solskjaer is keen to add Bruno to the team.

The midfielder has been likened to Frank Lampard as his incredible movement off the ball helps him to meet crosses in goalscoring positions. Bruno Fernandes would fit into the manager’s fast and vertical style of play also becoming a part of a balanced United midfield if Paul Pogba leaves as is expected.

Sean Longstaff

Although not as glamorous as Bruno Fernandes, Sean Longstaff is a player who ticks all the Manchester United requirement boxes. The Newcastle player’s 2018/2019 campaign was a short spell as he played only nine times in the league for Newcastle before a ligament injury cut his campaign short.

Those nine games showed the youngster’s potential as a brilliant passer with dynamic movement. He played a key role in handing Manchester City a 2-1 defeat at St. James’ park.

It would be no surprise if the young player ends up at Old Trafford by the end of the window as a transfer for Longstaff would be a low-risk investment that makes a lot of sense for the club in the pursuit of homegrown players.

Examining Top Four Chances of Arsenal: Is It All Over?

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Unai Emery Arsenal

At the start of the season, not one person tipped Arsenal to finish in the top four. However, with a few weeks left of the season, Unai Emery has rallied Arsène Wenger’s rejects to push for the inconceivable.

UEFA Champions League football for next season would completely transform the club’s revenue, thus allowing them to sign and attract more high-profile players in the summer. The Gunners have participated in the competition for close to three years now, and perhaps sooner than expected, Emery may be taking them back to the promised land.

How would you rate Arsenal’s chances of finishing in the top four?

It’s funny to think that now if the Gunners were to finish outside the top four, it’d be considered a disappointing season. But that’s just testament to how good of a job the Spaniard has done. Imagine what he could achieve next season as he works towards moulding his own squad at the Emirates.

At first, it was perceived that Arsenal had the easiest run-in of the top four contenders as they no longer had to play anyone within the top six. On face value, this seemed correct, but pundits seemed to forget that most teams in the league are still fighting for something. More importantly, they severely underestimated the ‘best of the rest’ aka Watford, Wolves, Leicester & Everton, four teams that are fighting for 7th place. If Manchester City wins the FA Cup, the 7th placed team will play Europa League football.

Bottling Mentality?

On Wednesday night, the Gunners’ top four hopes were dealt a serious blow as they fell succumb to a 3-1 defeat to Wolves. Nuno Santos’ team simply ripped apart the Gunners at will, they exposed Arsenal’s defensive frailty and rendered them toothless in attack. This means Unai Emery’s men have now lost three games in their last four, on a supposedly ‘easier’ run-in.

Perhaps due to the team’s abysmal away form, two of those defeats weren’t a surprise but the fans were banking on their home record. To lose 3-2 at the Emirates to Crystal Palace is nothing short of a disgrace and shows the Gunners are bottling when it most matters.  

Relying on others

With a vital 1-0 win over Brighton, it’s fair to say that Tottenham has all but secured their top four status, leaving the Gunners to compete with Chelsea and Manchester United. The advantage for Arsenal is the fact that their two rivals still have to play each other this Sunday, meaning points will definitely be dropped.

Regardless, Arsenal’s fate is no longer in their own hands. If Chelsea wins all of their remaining games, they will finish in the top four. But that’s only if they can get past a wounded United side who will definitely be looking to appease their fans. If Chelsea fails to win, then the Gunners will have top four qualification in their own hands again. If not, then there’s only one other option.

Plan B: Europa League

Unai Emery must go all out and become the only manager to ever win the Europa League four times. Only three games stand in the way of Arsenal and winning the Europa League, with the toughest team remaining being Chelsea, there’s no excuse for the Gunners not to win the competition. This way, Emery could win a trophy in his first season at the club, thus setting a precedent for the upcoming years.