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English Premier League

Will Alan Pardew be a good appointment for West Brom?

Jake Jackman




West Brom made the brave decision to sack Tony Pulis last week and they have yet to appoint his replacement. This shows that it wasn’t a planned decision and the manner of recent performances forced their hand. Gary Megson has drawn his two matches as caretaker and as an ex-manager of the club, he is a safe pair of hands for the interim period. However, it was always unlikely that he would be given the job for a long period of time and recent reports suggest a permanent appointment is imminent.

The Mirror report that Alan Pardew is set to replace Pulis at the Hawthorns and that is an interesting move that is risky for both parties. The Baggies have favoured British managers in their recent history, therefore it is not surprising that they are making the decision to appoint an experienced, English manager. However, the former Newcastle United and Crystal Palace manager has been out of the game for nearly a year and his last stint in the Premier League ended awfully.

The Eagles looked set for relegation and were shipping goals with ease, which led to Sam Allardyce replacing him. There is a media narrative that Pardew struggles to arrest a slide and that trend has been evident at every club he has been at. For the initial period, he achieves good results and West Brom are appointing him to ensure they retain their top-flight status this season. The main risk comes from the long-term chances of success, as he has no track record of delivering it.

For Pardew, this is a huge risk as it is likely to be his final opportunity in the top-flight. He failed to deliver success at Newcastle and oversaw the initial decline that eventually led to their relegation in 2016. Palace appointed him as he had a good relationship with the supporters and he did manage to lead them to an FA Cup final in 2016, but his antics on the touchline are the long-lasting memory of the match, rather than the result. That marked the beginning of the end as Palace had an awful start to the 2016/17 season and he was dismissed before the new year.

During that period, his reputation took a hit and he has failed to land another job since. He has remained in the public eye by doing punditry for Sky Sports. In one sense, this opportunity has arrived at a good time for Pardew. West Brom are an established Premier League team with a very talented squad that is capable of doing more than they were under Pulis. The likes of Jonny Evans, Nacer Chadli, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Salomon Rondon have played to a high standard and are able to do more than they currently are.

It would be unfair to tarnish Pardew with the same brush as Pulis, as his teams do try to play a more attacking style. However, he has never been a reliable defensive coach and that leads to a lot of the problems that he faces. During the 2016/17 season, his Palace team kept only one clean sheet before his sacking and to underline his struggles during his final year, the Eagles lost 22 from 36 matches in 2016.

West Brom are bringing him in to improve the style of play and he has the tools to do that, but the changes he makes may create a new issue in defence. Throughout the Pulis era, the Baggies have been one of the better defensive teams outside of the top six. That trend has shifted this season, but they will have a good foundation for Pardew to build on. Initially, the defensive structure is likely to remain impressive, but this is an area of concern for the long-term.

Is he the right appointment?

Baggies’ supporters are still on a high from the decision to sack Pulis as the majority were pushing for change since the summer. Pardew will benefit from being the man to follow the Welshman as he will be given a chance to prove himself. However, it is a less exciting appointment than many supporters would have hoped for. His stock is at an all-time low after his failure with Palace and he will need to start strongly if he is to be given a fair chance.

There has been a trend in the Premier League this season to appoint experienced British managers. The media have often criticised the influx of foreign managers into the Premier League and blamed them for the lack of young, British managers coming through. However, this season, it has been the older British managers that have failed countless times before that are blocking the path to those making their way in the lower leagues.

Pardew is one of the better examples of a British manager getting another chance that is probably underserved. At Newcastle, he managed to finish 5th in one season, but the rest of his tenure was underwhelming at best. He was a pushover for Mike Ashley and allowed the club to enter a decline to the Championship. His reputation was protected as the media didn’t criticise him. Although he wasn’t sacked, he wasn’t doing a good job and the decision to move to Crystal Palace was one of self-preservation.

Throughout his career, he has always started well and survival this season should be within his capabilities, especially given the quality of the squad. However, it is an appointment that lacks ambition as the club aren’t planning for the long term. Pardew is unlikely to deliver better finishing positions than Pulis did. The football might be better to watch, but the results won’t change.

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.



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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Crystal Palace

Three potential England replacements for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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

Jake Jackman



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.



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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