All posts by Paul Hill

Charlie Austin gathering admirers from England and Scotland’s Premier Leagues

Charlie Austin has enjoyed a fine campaign in the Championship with Burnley and admits it would be hard for him to turn down Premier League football next season, should it be offered to him.

Although The Lancashire Telegraph fail to mention specifically which Premier League sides are chasing the hitman’s signature, Scottish giants Celtic are named as keen in purchasing the former Swindon Town man.

The lure of domestic trophies and consistent European campaigns might also be too good to turn down. Whether Celtic will stump up the cash to land their man, however, is a different article entirely.

Austin, 23, has notched an impressive 28 goals this campaign and would look set to continue his fine form should he make the move north of the border. Despite the noted interest and his admission that his future may lie elsewhere, Austin has been quoted as saying he expects to remain at Turf Moor and continue to honour his contract.

If a club was to make a move it looks as though promise of regular first team action will be needed in order to finalise the deal.

My personal random suggestions of Premier League sides that could make use of Austin’s services would be Hull City, any winner of the play-off or a link up with another former Swindon figure of recent times, Paolo Di Canio, at Sunderland.

Tomos Llewellyn @tomllew

Championship star the focus of £1.5m bid from Premier League side

Following a second place finish in the Championship and the subsequent promotion to the Premier League that follows it looks as though Hull City boss Steve Bruce is already a busy man.

According to The Daily Mail Birmingham City centre-back Curtis Davies is already on Bruce’s radar with the experienced defender commanding a fee in the region of £1.5 million. It seems likely, however, that Hull will face stiff competition for such a lowly-valued, highly-rated player as Norwich are also keeping tabs on the situation.

In a bit of Brucey bonus extra gossip the Daily Mail also report that Hull are closing in on a deal for Sunderland midfielder Ahmed Elmohamady which will mean a quick-fire double pair of signings for next term, even though this campaign is yet to come to a close!

Back to Davies it looks as though he will make a perfect addition to Hull City’s defensive options. A player of experience including spending some time in the Premier League will be a much needed boost for the former Manchester United man Bruce.

Hull City fans: What do you make of these two early signings and who else could Bruce bring in to strengthen the side ready for next season?

Tomos Llewellyn @tomllew

Tottenham could lose out on key striking target

Interesting one from TalkSport now claiming that newly-crowned Italian Champions (31 does not equal 29!) have taken a step forward to landing Tottenham Hotspur target Gonzalo Higuain.

The Real Madrid striker could be set to join another La Liga striker, Fernando Llorente, over to the Old Lady after it emerged the Athletic Bilbao star had signed terms in Italy on a pre-contract.

The 25-year-old, who has netted 15 goals in all competitions this term, would certainly make many a mouth of Premier League fans water at the prospect of him linking up with the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaronn Lennon and Jan Vertonghen at White Hart Lane. Although they boast the likes of Jermaine Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor up front the lilywhites certainly need another striker to bolster their ranks.

TalkSport report that Gareth Bale could be used as the sacrificial lamb in the deal which would see him packing his bags to Madrid while Higuain moves in the opposite direction. This suggestion must surely be taken with a pinch of salt as such swap deals are so rare in modern football.

From a fan point of view, as much as the Premier League would suffer for the loss of Gareth Bale, the prospect of watching him on a Saturday night after seeing Higuain tearing apart Premier League defences sounds like a very appetising weekend of football.

Tomos Llewellyn @tomllew

AC Milan looking to snap up Manchester City ace

A final word of the day from The Daily Mail today claims that AC Milan is considering making an offer for Manchester City defender Kolo Toure this summer.

“Making an offer”, as the Mail puts it, is very definitely misleading as the 32-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and has already confirmed to the club and to the media his intentions to leave the Etihad once his current deal expires.

Who else is tracking the bulky defender, I hear you cry? Get ready: admirers include the likes of Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Monaco and Paris St Germain.
It seems the Daily Mail however contradict themselves later in the article by suggesting the Ivory Coast international would prefer a switch to France, and in particular a certain mega-loaded Monaco.

The very fact these quotes comes directly from French media outlet L’Equipe in itself suggests a bonjour to new fans is on the horizon for the Manchester City man who has recorded 16 appearances all season long.

AC Milan is looking to recruit up-and-coming youngsters this summer for their re-sale value and potential which makes their interest in the 32-year-old somewhat of a mystery. While the former is true, Milan is apparently aware that experience is needed in order to immediately challenge for the Serie A title next season.

So there you are.

Tomos Llewellyn @tomllew

Top 3: Premier League Golden Boot winners of the 21st Century

With the season coming to a close and Robin Van Persie odds on to secure a second successive Golden Boot this season, it’s time to relive those early 2000’s memories and take a look at my personal top three winners since the year 2000.

Third Place : Dimitar Berbatov

It was a close call between two Manchester United players past and present: Berbatov and van Persie. The classy Bulgarian, on a personal level, just pips it because of his effortless first touches, his amazing natural technique and some outrageous feats of skill during his time at Tottenham, Manchester United and now Fulham. A joy to watch and the Premier League is certainly richer for his contribution despite having his critics. Joint Golden Boot winner with Carlos Tevez in United’s 2010-11 title winning season with 20 goals.

Second Place : Cristiano Ronaldo

Just wow. Undoubtedly would have been this generation’s finest talent if it was not for the pesky presence of Lionel Messi. With 31 league goals and a strike rate of 0.91 goals per game including also winning the European Golden Shoe in the 2007-08 campaign it is no wonder a certain Real Madrid came calling for his services. Unintentionally making it two United players out of two, it will be a relief to hear that the winner has never turned out for Manchester United.

First Place : Thierry Henry

A class act. Nothing more to say. Won the Golden Boot for three successive seasons (2003/04; 2004/05; 2005/06) having scored 30, 25 and 27 goals in each campaign respectively. For those first two seasons Henry also picked up two successive European Golden Shoe awards. Won his first Golden Boot back in the 2001/02 season meaning in total he picked up the award 4 times in 5 seasons. An astonishing feat. An honorary mention should go to Didier Drogba who won the award twice and came very close to making this list but sadly was shunted out by some of the best football players to have graced the English game.

Disagree? Have your own favourite? Join the debate: @footyfriends @tomllew

Tomos Llewellyn @tomllew

The Managerial Scouting Report – Everton

What if: David Moyes leaves? His contract is up at the end of the season and it’s time to make a short-list should your powers of persuasion fail. Here a potential three candidates for the job are named.

First of all it is imperative to keep those already at the football club. This also applies to the manager: David Moyes. The third longest serving manager in the Premier league and the joint record three time LMA Manager of the Year (2002-03; 2004-05; 2008-09) has excelled during his time at Goodison Park. His remarkable record despite a mediocre budget has been staggering and has already proven he has the capability to make it to a cup final and finish in the top four in the league for a Champions League berth.

On the flip-side, we all need a plan b. Moyes is yet to commit to a new contract and his current deal expires at the end of the season. Everything should be done to keep their man however if the worse comes to the worse there needs to be a ready-made short-list to appoint a new manager capably and confidently.

1) Neil Lennon – Makes sense right? Has managerial experience with Celtic in Europe including this season’s fine Champions League campaign including defeating Barcelona. Knows his way around a cup competition, and has two English League Cup winners medals to his name during his playing days with Leicester City. Lennon could be after a new challenge following two successive league medals and the gaping absence of real competition with Rangers no longer a threat. Swapping the Scottish Premier League for the English Premier League could be a tempting prospect despite his ties with Celtic.

2) Roberto Martinez – How about something a bit closer to home? Martinez has proven time and again he has the ability to mix it up, to punch above his weight with Wigan in the Premier League, and could well secure an FA Cup this season alongside their oncoming Europa League campaign next season. It shouldn’t be forgotten that his influence at Swansea City has been vital to their ongoing success: he stamped his passing philosophy on the side during his time and was rewarded with the Football League One trophy in 2007-08 and also picked up the League One Manager of the Year in the same year. Also a Premier League Manager of the Month winner, in April 2012.

3) The Wildcard – Steve McClaren – How about the only Englishman to lead a side to a top-flight domestic title this century? (FC Twente, Eredivisie, 2009-2010). Not to mention his League Cup success with Middlesbrough in 2003-04, and the subsequent European final that followed making him the first manager to bring European football to Middlesbrough in its existence? Not only did he achieve this, but he managed two successive European qualifications. And all this after gaining the experience of studying Sir Alex Ferguson at work during his time as Assistant Manager at Manchester United.

When you put McClaren’s list of achievements on record it is truly remarkable. Sadly the ‘Wolly with the Brolly’ has had his rough patches with England, Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest in the Championship. Out of work, in Everton’s budget and a wealth of experience he could be the perfect man to replicate his successes with an Everton side craving consistent European football and a trophy.

Do you believe I have missed someone out or have another suggestion for a possible Moyes replacement? Get in touch – @footyfriends , @tomllew or in the comments box below!

Tomos Llewellyn @tomllew

MLS Week 10 Review

This is your weekly Major League Soccer update reviewing all the action happening over in the States.

 

Week 10 started in uninspiring fashion on Thursday night as the Portland Timbers drew a 0-0 blank with New England Revolution with Timbers coach Caleb Porter admitting his short passing and attacking principles can’t click for every match. New England will be pleased on the flip side to secure a third clean sheet in four matches and stopped the Timbers scoring in MLS for the first time this season.

The action could only get better for MLS fans as Saturday began with a potentially entertaining game: Columbus Crew hosting New York Red Bulls. For the second successive match former Everton Aussie Tim Cahill proved to be the match-winner in a 1-0 away victory for New York, unleashing his boxing antics on the corner flag and quietening those critics who have been on his back since his move over to the Big Apple. Goalkeeper Luis Robles also played his part saving a penalty moments before Cahill’s winner.

Two 2-2 draws followed: Philadelphia 2 – Seattle Sounders 2; San Jose Earthquakes 2 – Montreal Impact 2 (too many two’s t(w)o mention!). Ryan Nelsen’s (yes, that one) Toronto FC suffered another disappointing defeat going down 1-0 away to Colorado Rapids with Edson Buddle, a former Toronto FC man with 10 games over in Canada, scoring an 86th minute winner.

The final three games of the weekend threw up seven goals with each match only having one team on the scoresheet. Real Salt Lake registered a very impressive 2-0 home win against the Vancouver Whitecaps, with Joao Plata assisting both Luis Gil and Javier Morales in the process. In arguably the performance of the week, Sporting Kansas City tore apart Chivas USA 4-0 with highly rated due Claudio Bieler (2) and Graham Zusi (1) both getting on the scoresheet with C.J. Sapong rounding off the scoring.

LA Galaxy were looking to maintain their recent performances however slumped to a 0-1 home defeat to the Houston Dynamo. Another familiar name to Toffees fans, Landon Donovan, failed to convert from the penalty spot for the Galaxy which allowed on-loan Hearts man Andrew Driver to drive home the winner.

Those results leave New York on top spot in the Eastern Conference with 17 points from 11 games, while FC Dallas remain in top spot over in the Western Conference with 20 points from 9 games, which also leaves them in top spot for the race for the Supporters Shield. The Supporters Shield winner is the team with the total number of points from the Eastern and Western Conference combined with a trophy and a spot in next season’s CONCACAF Champions League.

Play off spots after week 10: Eastern Conference: New York Red Bulls; Sporting Kansas City; Houston Dynamo; Montreal Impact; Columbus Crew. Western Conference: FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake; Portland Timbers; Colorado Rapids.

So what’s next? On Wednesday night New York Red Bulls host Montreal Impact on a night that has six MLS fixtures. The pick of the weekend sees the Vancouver Whitecaps host LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo hosting Sporting Kansas City and two attacking teams colliding in Portland with the Timbers and their resident chainsaw loving maniac watching their side face up against Chivas USA on Sunday, May 12th

Tomos Llewellyn @tomllew

Manchester United ready to offer Jones new deal

Manchester United are set to offer England defender Phil Jones a new bumper deal as the Red Devils are preparing to spend big this summer. 

Old Trafford chiefs are expected to extend his contract until 2018 which will see his wages rise to around £75,000 a week. 

Jones has endured an injury-hit campaign but his form over the past two months has been crucial in United securing the Premier League title. Sir Alex Ferguson believes the 21-year-old England international can develop into one of the greatest players in the club’s history.

Extending Jones’ contract could trigger a summer of spending for United who have been linked with a host of top name players. Former Red Cristiano Ronaldo, player of the year Gareth Bale as well as strikers Radamel Falcao and Robert Lewandowski are all targets.

As United look to bolster their attacking options, it has cast doubt over the future of Wayne Rooney who is wanted by PSG in Ligue 1. However, it is unlikely that Ferguson will allow the England forward to leave in the summer.

United posted record revenue of £91.7million in their third quarter results released last week- a clear signal that Ferguson will have a sizeable war chest this summer. 

It will be a big summer for both Manchester United and Manchester City following last season’s summer transfer window in which United beat City to the signature of Robin Van Persie and seemingly the title alongside it.