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Is Carlos Carvalhal the right appointment for Swansea City?

Jake Jackman

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Carvalhal

Swansea City appointed Carlos Carvalhal as their new manager earlier this week in a move that surprised many, as it happened just days after he was sacked by Championship club Sheffield Wednesday. Leon Britton had been in temporary charge of the Swans, but he was never likely to secure the job on a full-time basis. The Welsh club are currently rooted to the bottom of the Premier League and their new manager will have a huge task to keep them in the top-flight.

Carvalhal joins on an initial contract to the end of the season with an option of an extension. This raises questions as to Swansea’s motivations of appointing the Portuguese manager. He doesn’t have any Premier League experience, which makes him an odd choice if the club’s aims are to remain in the division. If they were giving the job to him with the aim of staying up, but were prepared to keep him regardless of their fate this season, it would make sense. He would be the perfect man to lead the club after relegation due to his recent success in the Championship.

It could be that Swansea don’t want them to tie themselves up with a manager longer than six months due to their uncertain future. That would make sense, but it sends the wrong message to the dressing room as they are already hedging their bets with their new manager. Carvalhal’s stock has been hurt by his failure this season, as he left Sheffield Wednesday in 15th position after back-to-back play-off campaigns. That could be part of the reason for the contract, but the Portuguese manager has a wealth of experience and is a good appointment.

The new Swansea City manager has had a long and varied journey to the Premier League. He has managed 16 clubs before taking over at the Liberty Stadium and that wealth of experience will stand him in good stead to attempt his biggest challenge yet. Notable former clubs include Braga, Sporting Lisbon, Besiktas and Istanbul BB. Although he hasn’t managed in the Premier League, he has managed at big clubs and for that reason, it isn’t as big of a risk as many think it is.

During the start of his managerial career, he was very much a journeyman and he didn’t stay in jobs very long. He had 15 jobs in 14 years before taking over at Sheffield Wednesday and although he didn’t win many major trophies, there were some notable achievements. Carvalhal took third-tier Leixoes to the UEFA Cup after finishing runner-up in the Taca de Portugal. He later won the Taca da Liga with Vitoria Setubal and it was these accomplishments that saw him move up the coaching ladder.

Interestingly, he took nearly three years out of the game after leaving Istanbul BB and it looked like he could fade away from top-tier management. Then, Sheffield Wednesday came calling and gave him a great opportunity to enhance his reputation in England. Foreign managers aim to manage in the Premier League and in the current game, a stint in the Championship is useful in achieving that. Carvalhal is a great example of that and BBC Sport report quotes that suggest he believes he belongs at the highest level:

“I believe that me and my staff, our place is in the Premier League. It may be my first time in the Premier League, but I was working at Sporting, with Besiktas and I played with Braga in the Europa League.

“I am a coach that if you saw my profile I will change the club, you will see that.”

The Portuguese manager clearly believes that he has done his apprenticeship in this country and deserves a Premier League job. These comments display self-belief and that will go a long way in winning the dressing room over. During his time at Sheffield Wednesday, he developed a good team spirit and a style that suited the big games. Last season, his side did the double over Newcastle United, the team that would go on to win the division.

It was in the matches against the bottom-half teams that Wednesday struggled. In the Premier League, there are no ‘easy’ matches and that could suit Carvalhal. He will rarely be trying to break down a team determined to sit deep and it could be that a step up to manage a relegation-threatened team will suit him.

That said, his Wednesday team often played a physical style and it will be difficult to replicate with his new club. Carvalhal would set up in a 4-4-2 and look to focus the majority of attacks down the flanks. Fernando Forestieri was often the deeper of the front two and the player capable of producing a moment of magic to turn a game on his head. The rest of the team were functional and hard-working, with the flair being produced by the Argentine and the two wingers. In the Championship, it worked well. However, he won’t be able to do the same with Swansea City.

The Swans have a squad that doesn’t suit any one style of football. They have moved away from the possession-based style that saw them become so popular when they first arrived in the Premier League, but they haven’t got the players to thrive in the system Carvalhal used at Sheffield Wednesday. Their midfielders are too lightweight and their wingers don’t create enough for the strikers. Furthermore, they lack a creative spark like Forestieri to link the midfield and attack.

This is going to be an interesting period for Swansea City and Carvalhal. It is a risk to appoint a manager that has just been sacked by a Championship club, but the Portuguese manager has shown enough during his career to suggest he could do well in South Wales. He will need to find a new way of playing and it will be fascinating to see how he sets his team up. Many expect the Swans to be relegated and that means that the new manager has nothing to lose. This is a great opportunity for him and it is now up to him to prove he can cut it at the highest level.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

English Premier League

Aston Villa reportedly not keen on keeping Josh Onomah, so what next?

The talented England youth international has had a mixed campaign at Aston Villa and Tottenham have a decision to make.

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Reports this week have confirmed what has long been suspected regarding Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Joshua Onomah. The talented maestro headed to Aston Villa at the start of the season in the hunt for regular first-team football. But next season he will not be at Villa Park, as the club have decided not to make any move to retain him next term – according to the Birmingham Mail.

This is no shock for Aston Villa or Tottenham fans. Onomah has had a difficult season at Villa Park. The 20-year-old has played plenty of football during his spell in the Midlands. Onomah has featured 34 times for Steve Bruce’s side and scored four goals. But his form has been indifferent throughout the campaign. The second-half of the season saw his form drop off dramatically. Since the turn of the year, Onomah has played just 10 times, mostly as a substitute.

Aston Villa fans were vocal in their displeasure at Onomah’s performances, perceiving him to be lackadaisical and disinterested. Most wanted to see their own talents such as Callum O’Hare and Keinan Davis get a shot instead.

(X during the Premier League 2 match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on February 5, 2017 in Liverpool, England.

So what next for Onomah?

He started the campaign with great hope. After playing a pivotal role in the England under-20 World Cup win, many felt this could be his breakthrough season.

But his spell at Villa has just highlighted the fact he is far from the finished article.

As far as a future at Tottenham goes, it is hard to see him not being loaned out again next term. Spurs have ample options in the centre of midfield – with the likes of Mousa Dembele, Moussa Sissoko, Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks all at Mauricio Pochettino’s service. With rumours of new central midfield options also arriving Onomah is likely to be loaned out again next season.

If that is the case, Spurs must choose his next location with more care. Villa already have plenty of midfield options and the youngsters coming through led to resentment among much of the fanbase whenever Onomah got the nod ahead of them.

If Tottenham can find Onomah a home in the Championship where he can play regular football week in and week out and be a star for the fans that would be the ideal solution.

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Three potential England replacements for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The Liverpool midfielder has been ruled out of the summer’s World Cup.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

It looked bad for Liverpool and England when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off during the first half of the Reds’ game against AS Roma in the Champions League and their worst fears were confirmed on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old has suffered a knee injury, which will keep him out of the rest of the season and this summer’s World Cup.

This is incredibly harsh news to take for the midfielder, who had been playing the best football of his career under Jurgen Klopp.

Last summer, he made a huge career decision as he chose to leave Arsenal to join top-six rivals Liverpool and, in hindsight, it has been a great move for him.

His influence and consistency have stood out from the centre of the park and England would have benefitted from that in Russia.

However, Gareth Southgate needs to readjust quickly and find a suitable alternative to the Liverpool midfielder.

Here are three players that could replace Oxlade-Chamberlain and receive a World Cup call this summer:

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Crystal Palace

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain has opened up an opportunity for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will now have a chance of making the plane for Russia.

The midfielder has impressed at Crystal Palace and he delivered an assured performance against Germany on his international debut. Although injuries have hindered his progress since he remains one of the only dynamic midfielders available to Gareth Southgate.

Against Germany, he completed 96.2% of his passes and completed four successful dribbles. There were a lot of people that thought the call came too soon, but he looked at home on the international stage and he will be unknown to a lot of the teams England are due to face.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was going to provide the power and pace in the England midfield. Loftus-Cheek may not be as experienced as the Liverpool man, but he can step up and perform a similar role. If he can finish the season strongly, he will have a great chance of making the squad.

England Training Session And Press Conference

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Jonjo Shelvey – Newcastle United

There are growing calls for the Newcastle United midfielder to be called up by Gareth Southgate and they will only increase with the news of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury.

Shelvey won’t be able to step into the same role, but he can provide different qualities and could be a worthy selection for England.

Newcastle’s recent surge up the league table have shown Shelvey in a good light and he has been a major reason for his team’s success.

The 26-year-old dictates the game from deep and has a passing range that can’t be matched by any other English player.

Against Arsenal, he was putting his team-mates in on goal at will and there is a place for his skills in the national set-up.

England have a number of quick attacking players and against better teams, Shelvey would provide a good option.

Southgate will need to set his side up to counter-attack and there is no better player to pick out the runs of Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy than the Newcastle midfielder.

There are risks to selecting the 26-year-old, but he deserves to be considered for the summer’s tournament.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Dele Alli – Tottenham

The Tottenham midfielder is going to go to the World Cup. Nobody can debate that, but he has found himself out of the starting eleven during recent friendly matches.

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain may benefit him, as there will now be a midfield position up for grabs.

Alli isn’t as comfortable in a central role as Oxlade-Chamberlain, but his goal threat and intelligent movement means that he could step into the starting eleven and play well.

The 22-year-old has had his critics this season, but a return of eight goals and ten assists in the Premier League underline the quality that he provides to a team.

Southgate will need to make sure Alli knows his defensive responsibilities and that the player carries them out to the letter, as England can’t afford to carry a midfield player.

At the age of 22, this summer could be an opportunity to break out for the Tottenham man.

It would be a risk to start him in a deeper role, but the rewards may be worth it.

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English Premier League

Liverpool fans licking lips at potential Mohamed Salah duel with Marcelo

Liverpool v Real Madrid is now the likely Champions League final, and Salah could leave Marcelo exposed.

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Real Madrid are now looking likely to be in the Champions League final against Liverpool after they defeated Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. After Joshua Kimmich gave Bayern the lead, it seemed the Bavarians might manage to upset the bookmakers and send Real crashing out. But goals from Marcelo and Marcos Asensio saw Real pick up a vital away win.

With Liverpool winning their first-leg against Roma 5-2, the two sides look well placed to make the final in Kiev.

Real Madrid might have won the game, but it was a performance that left Liverpool fans hopeful of facing Los Merengues in the Champions League final.

The Reds currently have perhaps the best player in world football today. Mohamed Salah has been a revelation since joining the side in the summer. Since arriving at Anfield from Roma he has scored 43 goals for the club and put his former side to the sword last night.

(Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

He infiltrated Roma’s weak and attack-minded left side over and over again in the first-leg and Liverpool fans believe he will do the same if they face Madrid.

Whilst Marcelo may have scored in the game, he did not put in the best of performances.

He left an acre of space for Kimmich to run into for Bayern’s goal. He struggled to deal with Thomas Muller at times, but if Arjen Robben had remained on the pitch it is fair to wonder if Marcelo may have had a more torrid time.

Liverpool fans are certainly excited at the prospect of Salah perhaps facing off with Marcelo in the Champions League final. Defending is not the Brazilian’s favourite aspect of his job and fans at Anfield feel that Salah might be able to leave him embarrassed if they go toe-to-toe.

Based on the evidence of the past two nights, it is hard to disagree with the Liverpool fans who feel Salah can leave Marcelo trailing…

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