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English Premier League

Leicester City – Defying the Odds



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As is the case with many newly promoted teams, Leicester City automatically expected to be sent straight back into the second tier of English football after their promotion to the Premier League. This definitely applies for a number of sides who find that not only the intensity of the football is too much to live with, but the strain on finances, necessary recruitment, and increased scrutiny from the media leads to a number of teams failing to establish themselves in the top flight.

Something that is proving to be an advantage for Leicester is that they certainly have a reputation for survival and resilience based on their past. In October 2002, The Foxes entered administration and it was only the intervention of a Gary Lineker-led consortium in 2003 that saved the club from liquidation. In 2009, the Midlands outfit were playing in League One and just 5 years later, they were a Premier League side. It is safe to say that Leicester City have a bit of a tendency for defying the odds.

When The Foxes first entered the top flight after a lengthy stay in the lower divisions, they were not exactly pulling up any trees with their signings. They saw the additions of many Championship players as an astute tactic. Their most notable acquisition was Leonardo Ulloa from Brighton for £8 million – a club record fee at that time. This value was seen as quite a steep price tag for a player that had only achieved one noteworthy season in English football. As it turned out, the Argentine hitman would contribute a very useful 11 league goals in Leicester’s initial return season to the Premier League, including a memorable brace against Manchester United. The Foxes also expanded their transfers outside of English football, signing the talismanic Esteban Cambiasso and also Andrej Kramaric.

Leicester City limped through the majority of the season and Nigel Pearson found himself sacked for a couple of hours before his belated reinstatement. This clearly had an effect on the former Hull City boss as he attempted to strangle James McArthur in his technical area in one of the more bizarre moments of last season. However, despite all of the numerous issues on and off the pitch, Leicester survived, and with relative ease come the final match of the season. If you offered 17th to any newly promoted sides, they would surely bite your hand off, let alone the proposition of 14th position that Leicester eventually achieved.

Despite this miraculous turnaround and once again defying all the odds, Pearson was sacked during the first summer after The Foxes’ return to the Premier League. He was replaced by Claudio Ranieri who has become something of a ‘journey-man’ manager since his tenure at Chelsea, including time at Valencia, Juventus, Inter Milan, Roma, Monaco, and even the Greek national team. There was a great deal of worry when Ranieri was appointed considering that none of his roles after Chelsea had lasted over two years. This hardly seemed to suggest that he was the base upon which a stable foundation of Premier League establishment could be built.

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It is widely thought that Leicester over-achieved last season, but despite this they still saw players move on. The most notable departure was perhaps Esteban Cambiasso who left after only one season in which he was an integral component to the goings on at The KP Stadium. However, The Foxes have once again invested heavily in experience and are wisely looking for players who can make an immediate impact. The signings of Gökhan Inler, Christian Fuchs, Robert Huth, Shinji Okazaki, N’Golo Kanté, and Yohan Benalouane indicate a willingness to spend and a belief that long term Premier League security is within reach. Although it is still very early days in the latest campaign, it is fair to say that Leicester City have started very well under Claudio Ranieri. If you combine the fantastic run under Pearson last season and their start to 2015/16, they have mustered a very impressive 29 points from a possible 36.

It is hard to say exactly how Leicester will get on this season, as last term they provided the perfect example of how  your form for the majority of the campaign can have no representation on where a side will ultimately finish. It is easy to say however, that if Leicester City continue putting in the performances that they are at the moment, it will not be a question of merely survival, it will be a question of whether they can replicate the achievements of Southampton in quickly establishing themselves as a Premier League side to be feared. With this realistic potential outcome on the horizon, it is all the more surreal when you remember that they have been plying their trade in English football’s third tier not so long ago.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Alex Hannam

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Calum is a Reading fan and has been a season ticket holder for many years. He is currently studying for a degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology.

English Premier League

£43m for Toby Alderweireld would be great business for Tottenham Hotspur

It seems that the Belgian defender is definitely on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.



It seems as though Toby Alderweireld is on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.

It is being reported by Het Laatse Nieuws today that the Belgian’s contract talks with Spurs have been halted.

With the Belgian out of contract in the summer of 2019, Spurs will attempt to cash in on Alderweireld now.

A fee of £43 million has been mentioned for the player, who reportedly wanted a wage to match that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool.

Tottenham’s stance of not paying out big wages to their top players has often been criticised. But on this occasion, the Lilywhites are doing the right thing.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

On his day and when fit, Alderweireld might be the best centre-back in the Premier League. However, it has been a long time since the Belgian had such a day.

Most of this season has seen Alderweireld on the treatment table. When he has played, it has always seemed a precursor to his next injury.

Given his age and contract situation, the injury record gives Alderweireld three strikes. At £43 million, Tottenham would be getting a fantastic deal for their defender.

The report from HLN claimed that Alderweireld wanted a wage in the region of €180,000-a-week (£160,000-a-week). Such a sum is vast for a player with his current issues.

The fact Spurs were reportedly willing to go as high as €120,000 (£105,000) per week shows that Daniel Levy tried to keep the Belgian, even doubling his current wage, but Alderweireld is on his way.

It will be a shame for Spurs but breaking the wage structure at the club for an injury prone defender would not have been a wise move.

Eventually, Tottenham might have to be more lenient with their wages, but that should be saved for the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen.

Tottenham should take £43 million for Alderweireld and persevere with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth.

Alderweireld’s next club will hope they can keep the Belgian fit long enough to reap the rewards of his potential signature.

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English Premier League

Ronald Koeman admits he wanted Memphis Depay at Everton

But would Everton have benefited from his arrival?



Ronald Koeman is about to kickstart his managerial career with the Dutch national team. It is his first role since getting sacked by Everton and his first foray into international management. Speaking about his new role he discussed the former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay.

Speaking to the press, as reported by Football Oranje, Koeman revealed that he had tried to convince Depay to join Everton whilst he was manager at Goodison Park:

“I invited him to my home last year, when I wanted to get him to Everton. That did not work, he went to Lyon.”

during the Netherlands Training session held at KNVB Sportcentrum on March 20, 2018 in Zeist, Netherlands. The Netherlands will play England in a International Friendly match on March 23 in the Amsterdam ArenA.

Depay was with Manchester United at the time, where he had struggled to live up to his potential. Instead of joining Everton he headed to Lyon in France in a deal reported by the Telegraph to be worth £16 million.

So have Everton missed out?

Depay’s struggles to settle in English football are well known. Since his move to France things have certainly improved. Depay has scored 18 goals since his move to France. However, considering he scored 28 goals in his final season at PSV prior to his United switch it is still not a massive amount.

ZEIST, NETHERLANDS – MARCH 20: Netherlands Head coach, Ronald Koeman walks out for the Netherlands Training session held at KNVB Sportcentrum on March 20, 2018 in Zeist, Netherlands. The Netherlands will play England in a International Friendly match on March 23 in the Amsterdam ArenA. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

In the time he has been in France those 18 goals have come from 61 games. His form has been good at Lyon but certainly not to the standard many expected of him when he made the move to Manchester United.

That said, £16 million today in today’s market is not a lot of money. Looking at Everton’s team, having Depay playing from the left side would have been a massive bonus for Koeman, and now for Sam Allardyce.

Depay still has plenty to improve upon and hopefully Koeman can get the best out of him during his time as the Netherlands boss.

As for Everton, they did not get their man and paid a lot more for the man he would be battling for first-team football Yannick Bolasie – who has not yet been a hit at Goodison Park.

So, all things considered, Everton probably should wish Koeman had managed to convince Depay into a Merseyside switch last January.

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English Premier League

Victor Fernandez furthers Newcastle United first-team claims on Spain tour

The 19-year-old impressed as he featured against Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp.

Jake Jackman



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Newcastle United recently travelled to Spain for a training camp as they attempted to deal with three weeks without a competitive fixture.

Rafa Benitez is an experienced manager and he will have realised the danger that such a gap could pose for his team, especially when it came to the fitness of the squad.

He arranged a training camp in his homeland, which culminated in a unique 135-minute match against Belgian side Royal Antwerp.

It consisted of three periods of 45-minutes, which allowed the manager to give playing time to the fringe players in his squad ahead of the run-in.

Although it gave the opportunity to experiment, only two youth players made the trip to Spain.

Nathan Harker was the back-up goalkeeper as both Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow were struggling with injuries.

The other, Victor Fernandez, caught the eye of Newcastle supporters watching.

Fernandez will be encouraged about further involvement with the first-team, as he was the only young outfield player to feature against Royal Antwerp.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

That is a sign that Benitez considers the 19-year-old as one of the best prospects currently with the club.

The Spaniard joined the club just over a year ago from UE Cornella.

The signing went under the radar, but Benitez has an extensive scouting network and he obviously saw something in Fernandez.

Although he is predominantly a winger, he can play anywhere across the front-line is required.

Soon after joining the club, he spoke of not wanting to aim for too much too early when talking to the Newcastle United official club website:

“My purpose was not to make an impact really quickly, because I’m new and I have to get used to English football – it’s really different from Spain. I hope, little by little, I can keep doing good things here.”

Considering this was very quickly after his move to a new country, Fernandez’s words show maturity and show a glimpse into his character.

Benitez is a thorough manager who likes to know everything about the players that he brings to a football club.

There must have been something about the Spanish winger that made the Newcastle manager believe that he could adapt to English football.

There are no guarantees in football when it comes to young players fulfilling their potential.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

However, the fact that Fernandez was taken on the mid-season tour to Spain suggests that he is on the right path.

He would have been offered guarantees about a route to the first-team squad and his involvement against Royal Antwerp will have been a reward for his progression since moving to St James’ Park.

He came on for the final 45-minutes and showed flashes of his ability.

There was some nice interplay with Dwight Gayle that resulted in the teenager having a shot on goal.

His trickery and direct style caused problems for his marker and he continued to excite those watching when the ball was his feet.

There is more developing for him to do before he is ready for the first-team in competitive action, but his performance against Antwerp was a positive one.

There is clearly talent there and he will be a player to follow over the coming seasons.

Newcastle are at the early stage of their development under Rafa Benitez and that will mean opportunities are there for young players.

Fernandez could have the ability to take his.

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