All posts by Matt Carter

Should McManaman have escaped punishment?

Wigan midfielder Calum McManaman was making his full debut against Newcastle and it is one he will never forget.

He may look back on his team’s victory as a highlight to savour if they end up ultimately avoiding relegation.

Despite this he should be thankful for the reprieve he has been given by the FA. He may want to consider this when he challenges in future matches.

Haidara the victim of his tackle last time out will not be so grateful about the decision taken. It marred what was a well contested game between two in form sides.

The FA not punishing a wreckless knee high challenge has for sure exacerbated the situation. There is tenacity and nerves but this sort of challenge is not acceptable.

When players make these sort of challenges, saying he does not have a nasty bone in his body and complimentary comments about the tackler’s character is irrelevant.

A knee high challenge that could have been career ending is something that needs to viewed with the greatest of seriousness.

A three match ban would have sent out the correct message. Now that this has not occurred the FA need to ensure that they provide a justification as to why this has not been the case.

Will Laudrup be taken away in the summer?

Recently Michael Laudrup’s stock has risen dramatically at Swansea City. He has won the Capital One Cup and has signed a one year extension to his managerial contract at the Liberty Stadium.

The Swans in recent times have had to accept their manager taking for the exit door when they have achieved success.

Is Laudrup next to leave the production line of progression to supposedly bigger and better things or will he stay put?

The strong suspicion is the latter. The Europa League is a fine achievement for the Welsh Club and whilst Rodgers may have viewed them as a feeder club to Liverpool, they have improved into a fine outfit and should be given credit.

The only clubs Laudrup can rise to which are greater than Swansea are the ones which are playing Champions League football.

Whilst the Dane has done remarkably well, you suspect if he were to move to one of these he would have to prove his credentials in European competition first.

Laudrup has displayed how well he has handled a small squad and exceeded what people thought he was capable of achieving.

If he is to prove he is ready to manage the best players in the world he will have to show how he can juggle Europe and the league.

Last year’s LMA Manager of the Year Alan Pardew has struggled with the balance, so he will do well to carry that mantle next campaign.

Could Bale ever move to Manchester United?

There has been constant speculation over the future of Gareth Bale after his scintillating performances this season for Tottenham Hotspur.

It has also come with the mention of exuberant price tags of £50 and £60 million. The prospect of him moving abroad may be realistic but could he move across the Premier League.

This is one which would be a lot more difficult to swallow. Manchester United seems the only feasible option who are a far greater prospect than Tottenham, but could they afford the price for starters?

Even if they did would Bale ever be able to establish himself at another Premier League club and be the star he is at White Hart Lane.

The notion of him leaving for a hefty fee is one which Lilywhite supporters accept could happen but across the Premier League would be too much to handle.

Surely Daniel Levy would not take his business nature that far and accept a cash in on his star asset from a direct rival.

Manchester United would maintain an interest but will anyone else to fill the star playmaker role than Cristiano Ronaldo do? You suspect not.

Whilst Man United fans may want to have Bale as part of their assets, these thoughts should be certainly put to bed as fanciful.

Are Man City too dependent on Yaya Toure?

Man City slipped to another defeat this weekend which appeared to be ultimately costly in the title race if it was not already over.

There may be several around the Etihad who will point to the losses of Kompany and Aguero as critical but is Yaya Toure even more a key cog in the machine than either of these two stars.

Everton overran City in midfield on Saturday lunchtime and Barry and Garcia clearly struggled to hold the fort.

Whilst some insist that the striking department is where they are light in the blue half of Manchester they need to address the centre of the park first.

The reliance on Toure is hindering their chances as they need to either clone him or find a player in the centre of the park who can dictate the play to release their flair players.

Yaya is a bustling presence with strength and determination and Mancini may want to consider addressing the midfield before looking to replace Balotelli and whatever else they are missing up top.

Man City need to develop a squad as well as a first team primed for success and if they do want to find another Yaya Toure they may want to consider trying to find one which is not missing every other January too.

Is Holtby what is missing?

Tottenham have lost three consecutive matches in the Premier League and Europa League combined and there has been mass hysteria.

Is it necessary? Or can a small tweak make the difference? Well the Lilywhites have not gone from the in form team in the League to useless all of a sudden.

There clearly needs to be a plan B for when Bale isn’t on his A game. Jermain Defoe has been managing to hold the fort up front but needs support.

Adebayor may have scored the crucial goal on Thursday night but shown himself to be clearly inefficient this season and this does not look like changing any time soon.

Tottenham therefore need their attacking midfield stars to come to the fore. Sigurdsson has improved but is not an out and out striker.

An in form centre forward may be missing but Holtby can unlock defences like Modric used to, in order to open up doors for Defoe so that he can’t miss.

The ex Schalke midfielder has Champions League experience and needs to call upon this to guide Spurs to a top four finish this campaign.

Holtby may not have featured fully in recent weeks, but a lot of Tottenham’s prospects lie upon his shoulders as well as Bale’s in order to revitalise his side.

Could lack of quality cost Stoke?

Tony Pulis mentioned it in his post match interview following the Newcastle United defeat – his side do not possess enough quality. There is genuine concern that Stoke could decline next season.

The Welsh manager may not be in danger of seeing his side relegated but having not won 1 in the last 9 fixtures, things are certainly not pretty.

A rejuvenation and fresh blood is essential if Stoke are to move forward. They may be a hard working outfit who can match any side for physicality but this is not enough.

It is essential that there is more flair inserted into the side and the attacking line is given a revamp too.

Peter Crouch may have been a great striker in his time but at 32 alongside Michael Owen whose glory days have long past shows that the Potters need to sign for the future.

Walters’ workrate is faultless but if there is to be a push to the next level the style of change does not necessarily need to change.

It is a working model, the personnel do need to be lifted though, so they are forced to not rest on their laurels as some of them have recently. It is make or break this next season for the ambition of Stoke, they could be sucked into the relegation battle in the 2013/14 campaign or strive for Europe once more.

Will Big Sam renew his contract at West Ham?

There is a strong feeling amongst West Ham supporters that despite it not being always pretty it is effective.

The Hammers lie in mid-table in the Premier League and should have enough to avoid relegation.

For those that have looked at the trail Allardyce has left in his wake from clubs he has left will know they should be careful what they wish for.

There may be some who think now that Premier League survival is assured they can bring a manager in who can add flair to the side. It is a wonder where such a boss would come from though?

These thoughts should instantly be dismissed as fanciful. In the long run Allardyce may struggle to meet the ambition of the Irons but this does not mean he deserves to have his time cut short just yet.

Big Sam still will feel he has some doubters to win over and will be motivated to push on and there is nobody of higher quality read to step in.

If the Di Canio dream ever happens it surely will have to be after he has managed in the Championship or Premier League first.

It may be boring for some but under Allardyce relegation is rarely a danger.

Does Ben Arfa need to be a striker?

Newcastle United playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa has been efficient drifting off the wings and being given licence to roam between the midfield and up front.

In the 2011/12 campaign he even should his capability to move up front as part of a devastating three, with Cisse and Ba.

This time round he may be required to move into the forward line once again. Cisse may have scored on the weekend, but his confidence is far from fully restored.

Ameobi can hold up the ball well but those in Black and White know that the time has come and passed when he was expected to be a hero upon Tyneside, except for on Derby day.

This leaves the talismanic Frenchman to be brought in to show his attacking qualities at least until the summer to help Newcastle achieve their aims.

He has played as an auxiliary striker in the past, but now Newcastle rely upon the French International to become a more central striker to provide Cisse the help he requires.

In order to get through in the Europa League they need more guile and invention up front.

If Ben Arfa could prove successful upfront alongside Gouffran and Cisse in the Premier League too it could certainly provide a blueprint for next season too for the Magpies.