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English Premier League

A look at Frank Lampard’s debut season with Manchester City



As Frank Lampard edged towards the final chapter of his 13 year success story with Chelsea, the up and coming American MLS beckoned for the midfielder. It’s just another example of the anticlimactic trend of players over 30 to finish their careers off in America and not to retire with their long-term clubs, when looking at Lampard and Gerrard for example. The perfect fairy tale of players ending their careers at the clubs they’re classed legends at has completely vanished, and it’s a shame – or maybe thats just the romanticist in me coming out.

No one was really surprised with Lampard’s cross atlantic move, but his change of Premier League jerseys did shock a few. Soon after agreeing the deal to move to newly formed New York City, it was announced that Lampard would be returning to the Premier League on loan, but to many people’s horror, it was not a return to West London. No, Lampard had joined Chelsea’s rivals Manchester City, part of the same franchise as his new parent club, on a short-term basis. The reason being to ‘add match fitness’ before joining the American team for their season in March.

He knew when he made the move to the English champions that he wouldn’t be a starting player every week, and this he wasn’t. Only starting 3 Premier League games for the sky blue’s in the League throughout the whole season he’s been n ever present character on the substitute bench, being used 20 times as a substitute and playing a total of 469 minutes for City – just an average of 20 minutes a game.

If you had told Lampard this time last year that he would be making his 600th Premier League appearance with Manchester City, I doubt he would have believed you. Even at the beginning of this season, his long term future with City was non existent. It took quite a time for people to get used to the ex-England international in the light blue jersey. So, in just his second game for City, he came on as a second half substitute against his former club Chelsea, and with Chelsea one up with ten minutes to go, a Lampard equaliser seemed to be already written in the script. As the ball bobbled into the bottom corner, the surreal events of the last few months had been completed. Not only had he left Chelsea, which many thought would never happen, but he had joined MLS side New York City just to be loaned straight back to Chelsea’s title rivals, Manchester City where he scored the equaliser in just his second appearance against the club where he remains a legend, and their all time top goalscorer – a series of events fit for any average soap opera.

Lampard remained a regular sub for City throughout the season, providing extra cover for the first choice midfielders. He began to pick up a knack of appearing in the last stages of Manchester City games and he was doing well, adding something to their game and most importantly providing huge cover. Having scored 5 goals in the Premier League, Lampard stands as City’s fourth top scorer this season.

In December of last year, it was announced that Lampard’s stay in Manchester would be extended until the end of the season, hence missing the beginning of the MLS campaign, which has just started now in March. This caused huge controversy back in America, with fans outraged that Lampard would not be joining David Villa at the Yankee Stadium come the start of the season.

City had seen that with Yaya Toure jetting off to the African Cup of Nations, Lampard was needed as cover in case of injury or suspension to either Fernando or Fernandinho, and with City competing in all 4 major competitions at the time – this cover was greatly needed. Lampard was hardly going to turn down the chance to continue his playing career in the Premier League just that bit longer, and there was even talk at the beginning of January that he was considering a second season with City, but to the delight of several New Yorker’s – these rumours were soon crushed.

But was there much point in Lampard’s stay in Manchester? It still wouldn’t have seemed right for Lampard to just serve half of his swan-song season in England, and it would just leave it more unfinished than it was before, so in that sense – yes there was the point. But on the pitch, Manchester City would be no worse off without him this season, apart from his 5 goals, he hasn’t added a great deal and with Toure returned, it doesn’t seem that Lampard will be needed a huge amount in City’s last 9 games as they try to catch Lampard’s ex-club, Chelsea at the top of the table.

In May, Frank Lampard will make the journey over to America, where he will serve the rest of his retirement in the bright lights of New York. There is no question whatsoever that it is a step down for the ex-England and Chelsea captain, and it just seems like he has decided to relax into retirement, rather than to continue to play to his very high calibre and push himself at the highest level. Nevertheless, Lampard’s final season in the Premier League has been enjoyable, not just for him but for us – he just couldn’t quite get enough of it could he?

A struggling QPR fan that still travels the country supporting the team, for some unknown reason.

Manchester United

Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line

The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.

Rob Meech



Luke Shaw
Photo: Getty Images

The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.

Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”

The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.

Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.

From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.

Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.

Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.

This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.

But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.

In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.

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English Premier League

Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week

The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.



Photo: Getty Images

With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.

Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.

In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.

Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.

The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.

Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.

This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.

If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.

Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.

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English Premier League

Despite improvement, Everton should not rekindle Thomas Vermaelen interest

The Belgian defender has been in better form for Barcelona this season.



Rumours have emerged today suggesting Everton could be back in for Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen.

Catalan newspaper Sport has reported that the 32-year-old could be offered a new deal by Barcelona, with a team from the Premier League interested in signing him.

Sport Witness has openly hypothesised that Everton could be that team. Whilst there is no confirmation or substantiated report that is the case, the boot certainly fits.

Last summer Everton tried to sign Vermaelen.

As reported by the Liverpool Echo, at the time Barcelona vetoed a loan move to Everton as they felt the defender could be a useful asset.

The Belgian certainly has. After struggling with injuries and form throughout most of his Barcelona tenure the former Arsenal man has enjoyed a good season.

The 32-year-old has been a genuine asset to the Catalans, despite still being used sparingly, and such form has even seen him win back a place in Roberto Martinez’s national selection for Belgium.

If it is Everton interested in Vermaelen it is easy to see why. Centre-back has been a major problem for the club this season.

However, Vermaelen, or a player of his ilk, is not the answer to the Toffees’ woes.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

The Belgian is obviously a talented player with plenty of experience, but Everton need to freshen up their back-line.

Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka’s age has shown in recent months.

The pair have been, at the best, inconsistent for the past 18 months and Everton need fresh young talent in the heart of defence if they are to succeed.

Vermaelen is not only 32 but also immensely injury prone. Everton need reliable figures to plug their leaky defences and the Belgian can simply not be relied upon.

Whilst on paper it seems a good deal, and one Everton could certainly turn to their benefit.

The truth is supporters of the Goodison Park outfit will hope they are not the club reportedly keen on bringing Vermaelen back to the Premier League.

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