Tag Archives: Jose Mourinho

Premier League Preview: Top 4, Bottom 3, Golden Boot and Fantasy

By, Kyle Gibson

It’s almost Christmas in August. The Premier League is finally upon us. New superstar managers, new superstar players, huge egos and more!

Let’s get into a quick preview, featuring the predictions Champions League sides, relegated sides, Golden Boot winner and my Fantasy EPL side.

Champions League Teams and Champions

4. Chelsea – Antonio Conte is a badass. His Italy team could have won the Euros if Germany did not beat them in penalties. I kept thinking they would win it, but I’m not sure of the back line.

3. Arsenal – Such a talented team, but Arsene Wenger still did not sign the top-of-the-line striker the club needs. Olivier Giroud looked so good at the Euros setting up Antoine Griezmann. Give him someone to work with!

2. Tottenham – “Lads (retches, sweating profusely) it’s…Tottenham.” That line from Alex Ferguson now has a different meaning. This Tottenham team is talented, deep, well drilled and only finished third last year on the final day. Spurs did not make huge changes over the summer, but did not need to.

Spurs needed a backup for Harry Kane and got that with Vincent Janssen, who scored 27 league goals for AZ last year. Adding Victor Wanyama also provides more steel in the midfield.

Many have seen the Spurs falling off, but I see the club improving.

1. Manchester United – I wish i wasn’t jinxing my favorite club. I’m just buying into the hype. Jose Mourinho has so much to prove, after the debacle last season with Chelsea.

The club worked through its central defense slightly with the emergence of Chris Smalling last year. Adding Eric Bailly in the off-season should really help.

Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrihk Mkhitaryan are the elite level signings the club has been lacking.

This all should culminate in a spellbinding year for United. Pau

Relegated Squads

20. Hull City – Ownership in turmoil. Manager Steve Bruce left just a few weeks ago. Selling their best players and not replacing them.

19. Burnley – I still think they are too small of a club, but they are a very solid team and probably the 21st best in England.

18. Swansea City – Sold the team’s heart and soul in Ashley Williams. Borja from Atletico was a solid signing, but too little. Plus, Swansea bought Leroy Fer, who relegates almost every EPL team he is with.

Golden Boot Race

Harry Kane – 24 Goals

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 22 Goals

Jamie Vardy – 20 Goals

Sergio Aguero – 20 Goals

 

My Fantasy EPL Team

I believe that I will win.

Goalkeepers – Kasper Schmeichel, Adrian

Defenders – Hector Bellerin, John Stones, Wes Morgan, Antonio Valencia, Patrick van Aanholt

Midfielders – Anthony Martial, Danny Drinkwater, Andre Ayew, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Phillipe Coutinho

Forwards – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Callum Wilson,Jermain Defoe

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New Post: Manchester United Transfer Watch; James Rodriguez

By, Kyle Gibson

As Jose Mourinho looks to strengthen the Manchester United squad in the summer transfer window, Kicking It breaks down players whose names are caught in the Old Trafford rumor-mill. 

The Player: James Rodriguez

Rodriguez was one of the stars of the 2014 FIFA World Cup for Colombia before and made the big-money move from AS Monaco to Real Madrid. In his first season he had a huge impact in La Liga, with 13 goals and 13 assists.

That form dropped in 2015-16, largely due to injury and a change in lineup under Rafa Benitez. Rodriguez was an unused substitute in the Champions League Final last Saturday.

James has his name thrown into the hat for manager Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United transfer war-chest. So, let’s examine the pros, cons and the likelihood of the signing.

Pros:

1. He’s a dynamic midfielder who can double as a central midfielder and winger. Mourinho will more than likely ship out Juan Mata, which would open up space. United doesn’t have many other attacking midfielders (we will get to one of the others in the next section), so this could help bolster the attack.

2. He scores some amazing goals and can provide some amazing assists. Just look at these highlights from last season.

3. James could be a signing to excite fans again. After the stagnant reign of Louis van Gaal, fans are looking for excitement again at Old Trafford. Mourinho isn’t known for free-flowing soccer, but his clubs tend to score plenty of goals. This is a big name who can provide some exciting finishes and flashy moves.

Cons: 

  1. Rodriguez is not known for his defensive capabilities, which is unfortunate because Mourinho teams are known for overall team defense. This most recently led to a freezing-out of Oscar while he was at Chelsea.
  2. What will happen with Wayne Rooney? The United legend insists that he wants to play in midfield beyond this season, after making the switch in recent weeks. If Rodriguez displaces Rooney in the middle, that could hurt the team balance. Playing him on the right could slow the development of Jesse Lingard. I think that James is personally better in the center.
  3. Real Madrid players are always rumored to make the jump to United but never do. Recent cases are Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale, former Red Cristiano Ronaldo and Toni Kroos. The Spanish press has even more misinformation than the English press and rumors swirl all the time in Madrid, so you never truly know what’s happening.

Likelihood of Signing: Moderate

The chances should be lower than this, because the Manchester Evening News reported that Rodriguez wanted to stay at Madrid. However, this came after winning the Champions League, which is always a high even if you don’t play in it.

Also, Rodriguez could just be batting his eyes at United and other clubs.

I’m not willing to go above moderate on this signing, but I’m not willing to go any lower.

Follow Kyle Gibson on Twitter, @KyleisGibson

 

Manchester United Transfer Watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

By, Kyle Gibson

As Jose Mourinho looks to strengthen the Manchester United squad in the summer transfer window, Kicking It breaks down players whose names are caught in the Old Trafford rumor-mill. 

The Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan is still doing his thing at 34-years young. Being a legend/demigod? Yep. Bagging the goals? Yep. Asking to have the Eiffel Tower replaced with his likeness? Yup.

Ibra’s time in Paris has come to an end though – and he’s now available on a free transfer – which has led to rampant speculation regarding his future, including many links to Manchester United.

So, would he work at United? Let’s weigh the pros, cons and likelihood of signing.

Pros:

  1. Zlatan gets along with Mourinho splendidly. Many find both the player and manager to be abrasive. But these two had a successful spell together at Inter Milan together in 2008. This could be the pairing Mourinho needs to kick start his inaugural campaign.
  2. Goals. Goals. Goals. He’s bagged them at every stop in his career and topped Ligue 1 with a whopping 38 this year. There’s probably no way he gets that in the tougher EPL, but if he gets at least 20-25 league goals, he’s well worth the signing.
  3. United needs a top striker. Wayne Rooney is now a midfielder by admission and Anthony Martial excelled on the wing. Actually, Martial became everything United fans had hoped Memphis Depay would be on the left wing. Read more about Mourinho’s need to prioritize strikers in my previous post.

Cons: 

  1. Is age just a number? Mourinho and  Ibra will be hoping so. 34 is the age most players retire or are winding down.
  2. Will his personality work in such a crazy climate? The English press is insane, circling like sharks from the moment Louis van Gaal showed any sign of weakness. If Zlatan makes a lot of noise like normal, but also doesn’t perform well, fans and the media alike could call the project a disaster before it even gets half a season of trial period.
  3. What about Marcus Rashford? The 18-year old had a breakout half-season, scoring eight times in 18 matches, including the winner in the FA Cup Quarterfinal Replay at West Ham, a goal-of-the-season contender. Mourinho almost never relies on youth and Zlatan is unlikely to play a huge role as mentor. The best case scenario is that Rashford excels as an impact sub and starts games that Zlatan needs to rest.

Likelihood: High

Unlike previous United fiascos involving huge names (think Thomas Muller, Sergio Ramos, Neymar, Cesc Fabregas and Wesley Sneijder), this one seems to have a good chance of actually happening.

United is one of the only clubs willing to pay the massive wage Zlatan will demand and the link with Mourinho seems to excite the player.

Follow Kyle Gibson on Twitter, @KyleIsGibson and make sure to read the next United transfer watch, which features James Rodriguez. 

 

New Post: Three Things We Learned From EPL Week 2

By, Kyle Gibson

This was another pretty good weekend of soccer in the EPL. One team is already showing itself to be elite…which leads me to point No.1.

1. Manchester City is playing beautiful (and pissed off) soccer. 

That’s right, the same City that I unceremoniously dumped from my Preseason top four. Now, they’re looking the class of the field after demolishing West Brom Monday and then the Champions Chelsea on Sunday. 

Two guys roundly accused of being two old, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany, have really played lights out so far. 

Maligned transfer Raheem Sterling had one of the best home debuts you can ask for without scoring. He looked like a real threat all game and played with wisdom beyond his 20 years.

Then there’s the brilliant goal by Sergio Aguero. Watch out for this City side. 

2. Chelsea are Sputtering 

Just one point so far and tons of drama. First, Mourinho bans and demoted the team physio for doing her job, then he called Sunday’s 3-0 drubbing a completely fake result. By the way, the official club match report was even more delusional than Mourinho. 

The worry spots seem to be the back line and its age. Normally, right back Branislav Ivanovic is very strong, but exposure to speedy wingers Jefferson Montero and Raheem Sterling in back-to-back weeks has shown an extreme weakness for him. 

Also, captain John Terry was subbed out at halftime. That has never, ever happened under Mourinho. Underlying tension? 

3. Manchester United Needs a Striker

I just don’t know how sharp Wayne Rooney is, or how much he has left in the tank. Aston Villa would have been a great game for him to find form, but he was invisible. James Wilson and Chicharito are pretty good, but you need more for a Premier League run and ESPECIALLY for Champions League play. 

Bonus: Bravo for Norwich City. They beat Sunderland 3-1  after losing 3-1 to Crystal Palace in week one. They at least deserved a tie in week one, but faced a few controversial decisions. This squad has some players I’d love to see in the league for years (Nathan Redmond especially.) 

New post: Didier Drogba returns to Chelsea ready for one last run at glory

By, Kyle Gibson

Who can forget the days of Didier Drogba at Chelsea? I sure can’t. From his 150 + goals with the London club to his almost winning a Champions League by himself, Drogba left quite a legacy behind when he left Stamford Bridge.

Now, after a couple of years away, including a stop and China and a very successful stop at Galatasaray, Drogba is reunited with his former manager Jose Mourinho.

Some have heavily doubted this move, but I like it. Here’s why.

First, he is only signed to a one year contract, which means Chelsea doesn’t have to worry about the 36 year old’s health long term.

Also, Drogba is stepping into a very good team with creative midfielders and can team up with star striker Diego Costa. Had this move been made last year, the onus of goal scoring would have been on Drogba. Now, he can feed off Costa.

Finally, Drogba can still play. His Ivory Coast team was impacted by his play from the substitute bench at the World Cup and he still scored more than 20 goals with Galatasaray in a short span of time.

He might be older now, but no one still wants to see Didier Drogba running at them. As a Premier League fan, I’m excited that one of the best in EPL history is back.