Christmas is the most hectic time of the year, and that has certainly been the case in the world of football recently. There have been plenty of stories that I would have loved to write individual opinion pieces about, but I myself have been incredibly busy too, so I decided to merge all four into one great big article – Mourinho, Blatter and Platini, Leicester City and Brian McDermott. I’m going to try to limit each one to two paragraphs, here we go…
The Sacked One
To go from Premier League champions in May to being just one point above the relegation zone midway through December is an extraordinary fall from grace, and it cost Jose Mourinho his job at Chelsea. It’s something that no one predicted, with many people including myself tipping the Blues to once again win the title this season. The Portuguese boss got the blame, but there’s no doubt that the players who performed spectacularly in 2014-15 certainly need to look at themselves in the mirror as well, as I’m struggling to think of single player in that team who can be proud of their performances this campaign. Something may have gone on behind scenes that we’ll never though, but such a negative transformation must have an incredible explanation.
Whether Roman Abramovich made a mistake by sacking Mourinho remains to be seen. It’s hard to judge at the moment as the only game since his dismissal is the 3-1 win over strugglers Sunderland. Their next two games against Watford and Manchester United will really show whether the players had lost faith in Mourinho. I think Mourinho would have turned it around, not to the extent that Chelsea reached the top four, but I certainly think that the Blues wouldn’t have been near the drop zone for the entirety of the season. He’s the greatest manager in the club’s history, and in my opinion, one of the greatest bosses of the modern era. He will undoubtedly get another job soon, and I would love to see what would happen if he went to Manchester United if the Red Devils sacked Louis van Gaal. That ‘if’ is looking closer and closer to ‘when’ as the Dutchman continue to lose the support of the Old Trafford faithful.
Bans For Blatini
On 21st December, the empire fell. No, I’m not spoiling the end of Star Wars for you, because quite frankly I have no interest in it (go ahead and bombard me with hate). I’m talking about FIFA handing eight year bans from all football related activity to Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. This is the biggest step yet in ending the corruption in the organisation, and surely marks a more free and fair world of football. Blatter remains in denial, as he has done throughout, and still proclaims his innocence, stating that he will fight the ban.
In my opinion he’s fighting a losing battle. What the FBI wants, the FBI gets, and their involvement in this investigation shows the seriousness of the situation. I’m not doubting that the 79 year old has done great things for the sport, but like Jose Mourinho should have done, he needs to admit when he has done wrong. If that results in punishment, then justice is done. But quite frankly, Blatter comes across as arrogant, sly and manipulative and he deserves everything that is coming to him.
Leicester Top Of The Tree
Leicester City have gone in the opposite direction to Chelsea this season, as the Foxes sit top of the Premier League table on Christmas Day, just a year after they were rock bottom. They are the first side to do this since the rebrand in 1992, and only the third side to do it in English football history. A huge congratulations to everyone at the club and the way that Claudio Ranieri has masterminded it needs to be applauded. But I’m sure even the Italian would admit that most of the praise needs to be headed in the direction of two players. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. The duo, who cost Leicester £1.4 million between them, have both had meteoric rises, with Vardy formerly playing in England’s seventh tier, and Mahrez formerly playing in France’s fourth division. This season, the Englishman has 15 goals and three assists (including his record breaking scoring streak), whilst the Algerian, who it could be argued has actually been better than his teammate, has 13 goals and seven assists. That’s only one goal and two assists less than what last season’s PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard achieved in the entirety of 2014-15. Incredible.
But some credit must go to unsung heroes N’Golo Kanté and Marc Albrighton who have impressed greatly and also been key to Leicester’s amazing run that has seen lose just one league the entire season. They have also scored the most goals in the top flight. But can they win the league come May? That’s right, could Leicester City who were only promoted in 2014, win the Premier League title? Firstly, it all rests on whether Vardy and Mahrez stay at the King Power Stadium in January with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea reportedly interested in signing the pair. I think that they will, which gives the Foxes every chance. Then it comes down to experience, as Leicester have never been in a Premier League title fight before. Can they handle the pressure? I don’t think that Ranieri’s men will achieve the unthinkable, but the top four certainly shouldn’t be beyond them if they continue to play like they are at the moment. Even though I would love for them to win the trophy for the pure craziness of it all, this tweet from Gary Lineker has certainly put me off the thought…
YES! If Leicester win the @premierleague I’ll do the first MOTD of next season in just my undies.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 14, 2015
Return Of The Mac
Finally, a topic a little closer to home for me, as Brian McDermott was appointed the manager of Reading following the sacking of Steve Clarke. I was happy to see the Scot leave following his talks with Fulham a few weeks before hand, and his all round arrogant personality – something always felt not quite right with him at the club despite the fantastic FA Cup run last season (for that Steve, you’ll always be slightly higher up in my estimations). Candidates soon emerged for the job, but there were positives and negatives for all of them, and they all split the opinion of the fanbase. My personal choice would have Dennis Bergkamp. You may laugh, but the Premier League legend’s odds were low with the bookmakers. Just imagine, Dennis Bergkamp at Reading FC. Which was why I think I wanted him more because of who he was rather than his managerial reputation, which is non-existent as he has never held a head coach role before.
Since Brian McDermott’s name was mentioned I’ve gone from ‘Probably the wrong decision – never go back’, to ‘Great decision by the owners – this man loves the club’. After a few days of will he/won’t he, the former Championship winning boss was eventually re-appointed, and it’s true, he does love the football club. Prior to his first spell as manager which began in 2009, he had been at the club since 2000 in various roles. Most players who have worked under him have nothing but praise for him, and he certainly gives off a ‘likeable’ vibe. It’s a squad which on paper is good enough to earn promotion, and if McDermott can do so with a team that looked like rank outsiders in 2011-12, then he has every chance with this side that contains the likes of Matej Vydra, Paul McShane and Nick Blackman. He got off to a good start with 1-0 win over Blackburn last weekend which ended Paul Lambert’s unbeaten start as Rovers boss. We are now four points off the play-offs. I believe Brian, I believe.
What are your thoughts on the topics I have discussed in this post? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!