Where Did It All Go Wrong For Scottish Football?

069D47A1-11B5-42E3-A2C6-CB2AC87DE0C9Lets look back a few years, Players like Paul Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup and Henrik Larsson were playing in Scotland in their prime. Rangers and Celtic both getting to the UEFA Cup Final in 2003 and 2008 Respectively. Now in 2019, the bottom half of the top tier in scotland will most likely not be able to compete with some teams in the English League 1. Where exactly did it go wrong for Scottish football?

The main reason for the downfall in the Scottish game is money. With big broadcast companies unwilling to put a big sum of money into scottish football due to the lack of quality in some teams, Scotland are quickly falling away from the ‘Big Leagues’, who are gaining at least 6 figure sums a year through TV deals. This causes them to spend money on quality and widen the gap between them and leagues like Scotland, Switzerland, Denmark and Belgium.

Another big reason for the downfall is the Liquidation of Rangers in 2012. When Rangers got relegated down to the 4th tier Almost all scottish football fans were laughing and joking about it, some still today. But little did they know at the time that it would cause debatably the worst period in scottish football history, sometimes known as ‘The banter years’. During the time of Rangers absence in the top tier, they lost their 2nd Champions League spot and became the laughing stock of british football. They also missed out on a lot of TV money due to the lack of old firm derby’s, which is the main income of the scottish game. Celtic also ran the league every year for the past 8 seasons due to the lack of competitiveness at the top of the table for most of the 8 seasons and have been the only scottish team to make the group stages of a european tournament until the season past where Rangers made the group stages and narrowly missed out on the knockout rounds.

In order for the Scottish premiership to get better as a league, they need to improve both on and off the park. In my opinion, scotland should follow the Dutch eredivise in the clubs qualifying for the european competitions giving 5% of the prize money to the clubs who didn’t qualify. I think that is a brilliant idea and will help the lower teams be able to keep up with the top 6 and make the league more competitive and enjoyable to watch, thus making the TV companies wanting to invest more money into the scottish game. The scottish league is certainly going in the right direction right now but will they be able to keep up with the big leagues in the near future? Only time will tell.

A Solution To The Left Back Situation at Lyon

With Lyon’s flying left back Ferland Mendy’s move to Los Blancos looking imminent, I will be looking at options they could add to replace the Frenchman.

This season Mendy has proven to be pivotal to OL, playing 44 games over the course of the season scoring 3 and assisting 3 but it was his overall performance that has earned him his pending move to one of the most decorated and biggest teams in world football and that’s why Lyon will need a better than good player to replace him

Lucas Digne

Everton, France

Despite only joining the Merseyside based club last summer Digne could already be on the move. The Everton left back had an outstanding season which has seen him lauded by some as the second best in the Premier League in his position. Digne’s attacking prowess – his crossing, decisions when passing and concentration would allow him to play to Dembélé’s strengths and make him a great fit for Lyon.

Kieran Tierney

Celtic, Scotland

The second choice to succeed Ferland Mendy is young Scottish left back Kieran Tierney. On the radar of many a club, Tierney has been impressing a lot of European teams for seasons with rumours of a big move surfacing every window and with his position opening up at a club like Lyon he would have the opportunity to play alongside former team-mates Jason Denayer and prior-mentioned Moussa Dembélé. Despite being restricted to only 19 league appearances this season due to a hernia injury the Celtic defender would still be an ideal fit to fill Ferland’s boots at the Groupama Stadium due to his great strength and pace which allows him to drive forward whenever he picks up the ball and a great defensive side to his play too.

Pedro Rebocho

Guingamp, Portugal

The cheaper alternative, Rebocho has plenty of Ligue 1 experience under his belt with Guingamp and with Las Costarmoricains being relegated to Ligue 2 the left back will be going for a cut-price. Interesting Premier League clubs such as Watford and Leicester, just like Digne – Pedro Rebocho’s attacking side is a massive strength of his, only Ligue 1 team of the season right back Kenny Lala creating more chances than Rebocho this season (for a defender). Rebocho would be a good addition for Lyon as it would allow them to somewhat mend the left back problem for nearly pennies, letting them spend elsewhere and maybe get a better replacement for captain, Fekir or whoever else jumps ship.

Scottish League One Season Review

Scottish League One Season Review.

I’ll be going through each team from the League One’s season, starting with the winners Arbroath and finishing with bottom placed Brechin City.

1. Arbroath 10/10. A 10/10 rating is warranted due to Arbroath’s surprise success in winning the title, which was thought to be Raith Rover’s come the start of the 18/19 season. Dick Campbell guided the Smokies to their second ever title with three games to go, as they sealed it with a 1-1 draw away to local rivals Brechin City. Star Player: Bobby Linn, ‘Boabskin’ himself finished second top scorer in the league with a whopping twenty one goals (three more than apparent best striker in Scotland Alfredo Morelos), not too shabby for a wide midfielder who was written off by Dundee.

2.Forfar Athletic 8/10. Forfar snuck into second place on the final day of the season as Raith Rovers were held to a 1-1 draw by Montrose. Forfar were certainly hoping to be a top five side at the start of the season, but not many Loons could’ve expected a second placed finish, twelve points clear of fourth. Jim Weir and player-assistant manager John Baird guided the side to a high placed finish, with Baird bagging sixteen in the league. Star Player: Marc McCallum. Despite John Baird’s goals it’s goalkeeper Marc McCallum who snatches star player. McCallum won Forfar’s player of the season for the second season running and could be argued to be the sole reason Forfar managed to get second place. McCallum kept twelve clean sheets which ended up being more than anyone else

3.Raith Rovers 5/10. While Raith might have managed to grab third place, it was nowhere near what was expected of them. Raith were thought to be dead set winners of the League bar Dumbarton before the season kicked off. 15/8 to win the title were the odds from Ladbrokes. Raith were the only full-time side in the League but still managed a measly third place. Star Player: Kevin Nisbet, It is no surprise that the striker who managed to get twenty eight in the League walked away with the Players’, Manager’s and Supporter’s player of the season awards at the Raith Rover’s POTY ceremony, however in the end his 28 goals couldn’t put Raith above Forfar nor Arbroath.

4.Montrose 9/10. This one may be a little biased due to me being a Montrose fan, but no one can deny that Montrose have had an outstanding season. Ladbrokes predicted a bottom placed finish for the Gable Enders but it was closer to the opposite. Stewart Petrie managed to lead Montrose to fourth place despite many writing them off for relegation. What makes this feat even more impressive is that in the 14/15 season Montrose were sixteen minutes away from becoming the first ever team to be relegated from the Scottish League Two in their pyramid playoff game against Brora Rangers, to be fourth in the League One just four seasons on with many of the players from that season featuring for Montrose this season. Star Player: Paul Watson. Captain Paul Watson has been at the Mo in this current spell since the 12/13 season and without his leadership on and off the pitch and his odd appearance on the scoresheet, Montrose would most likely be nowhere near the fourth place finish they secured away to Forfar.

5.Airdrieonians 6/10. It might not have been a perfect season for the Diamonds, but things could have gone much worse, despite being expected to do a bit better, Airdrie were looking to finish no lower than the 5th place they ended up stealing, so a top 5 finish certainly wasn’t bad. Airdrie managed to comfortably beat title winners Arbroath 3-0 on matchday 36 but lost 1-0 to relegated Stenhousemuir just two weeks before, showing how inconsistency blighted their season. Star Player: David Hutton. It’s another goalie who was the most important but for Airdrie it’s journeyman David Hutton who made Airdrie’s season, keeping 8 clean sheets which is impressive in it’s own right but taking into account that he played 7 played games less than the keeper with the most clean sheets with only 4 clean sheets less. In 27.6% of his games Airdrie didn’t concede, an impressive feat.

6.Dumbarton 2/10. Dumbarton have had simply a shocking season, 7/4 for the title (Ladbrokes odd’s, this made them favourites) but in reality, goal difference was the only difference between them and seventh place. It was akin to Falkirk’s recruitment style, signing 20 odd players and hoping a few are good. Dumbarton actually looked like they could end up in the relegation playoff but towards the end of the season they sorted themselves out. An all-round embarrassing season. Star Player: Dominic Thomas, Dom was expected to totally set the league on fire, he didn’t quite do that, but it was still an impressive season for the ex-Motherwell man who managed 14 goals and 6 assists, with 165 minutes per goal.

7.East Fife 6/10. East Fife certainly didn’t have an outstanding season bar their semi-final run in the Challenge Cup which was ended by eventual winners Ross County, with a very inconsistent start to the season, including a 2-0 loss to Dumbarton at home on the opening day of the season meaning many fans of the Methil team would’ve been happy with guaranteed safety in the beginning. East Fife looked sure to finish in the top 4 come March but random strings of wins and losses made it impossible to predict what would happen, a season dampened by inconsistency. Star Player: I wasn’t fully sure about this one so I asked a few East Fife fans and each and every single one assured me it was Brett Long. Brett made a stunning triple save against Montrose at Links Park, the Northern Ireland born keeper kept 8 clean sheets despite having one of the worse defences in front of him, conceding just five less than Brechin City who found themselves rock bottom.

8.Stranraer 5/10. Once again it wasn’t outstanding, but they stayed up and not much else could be asked of the Blues. Stranraer struggled heavily last season with financial issues but managed to finish 5th, so many people including myself thought Stranraer would be able to replicate similar form if not better without the burden of the money problems but this was far from the truth. Stranraer were 14/1 for the title so they certainly weren’t expected to be up there but just 6 points clear of bottom placed Brechin meant for nerve-wracking viewing throughout games. Star Player: Kyle Turner. Despite Innes Cameron’s goalscoring efforts it’s Innes Cameron who is Stranraer’s star man for me. 7 goals and 6 assists from central midfield at the age of 21 is very impressive, so impressive in fact that his performances have warranted a move to Championship side Dunfermline Athletic.

9.Stenhousemuir 1/10. Stenhousemuir were never expected to do well, but it seemed very possible for them to stay clear of a relegation place, but this wasn’t what happened. A change in management halfway through the season and injuries meant they fell short. A 1/10 rating might seem harsh but with one of the best strikers in the league relegation shouldn’t be a possibility. Star Player: As expected it is experienced talisman Mark McGuigan who participated in 51% of Stenhousemuir’s goals whether it was assisting or scoring. A great striker who manages to thrive even when he isn’t in the greatest of times.

10.Brechin City 0/10. What a truly shocking season for Brechin City, despite going down from the Championship with their only win of the 17/18 season coming from the League Cup against a non-league side, many people including myself expected better in the League One for the Angus outfit, however the summer recruitment was sparse and when they did sign the players didn’t perform. A change of management made things even harder for Brechin but a bottom placed finish averaging a point a game wasn’t thought of as a possibility.

All in all, the 18/19 was very eventful, the title heading to Angus in Arbroath’s shock season, relegation favourites Montrose finishing fourth and title favourites Dumbarton ending up 6th were the biggest shocks for me. Hopefully next season’s as good.

A breath at last.

Dijon FCO 2018-19 Season Review.

Dijon came into the new season off the back of an extremely energetic summer which seen them sign 7 players, adding a mix of talent in both young gifted players with a lot of potential such as then 25 year-old Naïm Sliti, their eventual hero and 32 year-old Yoann Gourcuff, the player formerly signed by French counterparts Lyon for £22m . In the same window Dijon also seen a lot of players exit the club with 9 players leaving, only Baptiste Reynet warranting a fee.

This decent transfer window seen Dijon make a very assured start to the season – winning their first three games, including a 4-0 battering of OGC Nice but this positive start began to wear off rather fastly with Olivier Dall’Oglio’s side failing to win in Ligue 1 for the next 12 games prior to a 2-1 win against Guingamp. In this period of time Dijon did knock Caen out the Coupe De la Ligue though.

Dijon were then defeated in the next three games that came before the short winter break. This poor spell of form signalling the end of Dall’Oglio’s spell at the Stade Gaston Gérard. David Linarès took control for one game, a 3-1 win against Schiltigheim before Antoine Kombouaré took the job for the rest of the season.

Dijon had quite a lethargic winter window. Signing just the one player, a 23 year-old winger from Elche, Sory Kaba. Albeit it was for €4m. Dijon also lost a lot of their prior-mentioned experience in this window with Yoann Gourcuff and Laurent Ciman leaving the club after playing a combined amount of 17 games this season with Gourcuff not completing over 31 minutes in any games.

Kombouaré’s spell at the club began well with 3 wins in his first 6 games but it went a little downhill from here with Dijon losing their next 6 games and failing to win in the 4 that followed. This run making them near favourites for relegation but The Mustards never gave up and their good form in their last 8 games kept them in with a chance of survival. Winning away to Lyon and at home to Strasbourg in the most dramatic fashion among other good wins Dijon made sure they had the chance to stay in the top flight.

On the final game week of the Ligue 1 campaign, Dijon took on Toulouse, needing a win to stay away from automatic relegation and a 2-1 victory was enough to book Dijon a play-off place and steer them clear of Ligue 2, for atleast 6 days.

In this defining play-off game, Dijon faced Lens, the 5th placed team in Ligue 2. Dijon’s penultimate game of the season began rather shaky with Jeanricner Bellegarde giving Lens the lead in the 49th minute but Dijon managed to claw it back with Chang-Hook Kwon scoring another vital goal allowing Dijon to come away with the away goal advantage even if they only managed a 1-1 draw.

Just last night, Dijon played there biggest game of the season, an absolute must win. The second leg of the play-off final. Dijon had the home advantage with the Stade Gaston Gérard on their side. They started early with star player Naïm Sliti scoring on the 28th minute mark before Lens equalised shortly 10 minutes after. Wesley Said scored the goal which looked to be the one to keep Dijon in the top flight and Naïm Sliti made sure it was with a 91st minute goal pulling the curtains on a hectic and long season for Dijon.

12 relegated players who deserve a move this summer

Every year, when a team gets relegated there is always at least one stand out performer and that’s what I’m looking at in this article.

Neil Etheridge

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The Cardiff stopper was recently awarded The Bluebirds player of the year award and it’s no surprise as to why. The former Walsall goalkeeper displayed himself as an excellent shot stopper over the course of the season saving the 2nd most shots this season, only behind Lukasz Fabianski. Etheridge also showed his penalty saving talents early on when he saved penalties against Bournemouth and Newcastle in his first two games. That being said, I feel Bournemouth could do a lot worse than signing Etheridge as could Crystal Palace with Guaita and Hennessey both being the wrong side of 30.

Jean-Michael Seri

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Keeping with the Premier League theme is Fulham’s Jean Michael Seri. The Ivorian didn’t live up to standards in his first season in the English top flight but he still showcased what a great player he could be scoring a screamer against Burnley and putting in great performances against Brighton and Watford. This being said it would suit the player if he returned to the league where he made his name – Ligue 1, with Monaco most likely to sign the midfielder.

Aleksandar Mitrovic

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Our final Premier League player on this list is former Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. Despite a drop of form in the second half of the season Mitrovic managed 11 league goals, the 8th best for a striker in the bottom half of the table, this showing he is far better than Championship football in 2020. With Michy Batshuayi returning to Chelsea and Benteke struggling for goals, I reckon Crystal Palace should make an effort to sign the Serbian.

Marcus Thuram

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Son of World Cup winner Lillian Thuram, Marcus has been a bright light in EA Guingamp’s rather dreary season. The winger/striker scored 9 league goals as Guingamp finished bottom of Ligue 1. Due to the fact this relegation will have a cut-price effect on the 21 year-‘ old’s value adding on to his contract expiring next summer Thuram will be perfect for a club such as Tottenham who seek bargains.

Enzo Loiodice

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This is a strange one as although Dijon (Enzo’s club) are not officially relegated from Ligue 1 there is a massive chance they will be with only a two legged tie against Lens who have won 4 of their last 5 games. Enzo Loiodice is an 18 year-old central midfielder with great technique, vision and ball retention among many other skills. The player who is currently playing in the u-2os World Cup for France has started 10 games for Dijon and appeared in 2 more as a sub. With it seeming near certain atleast two of Ndombele, Aouar and Fekir leaving Lyon this summer Loiodice would be a great addition looking to the future.

Christhian Stuani

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The former Middlesbrough striker exceeded expectations by an absolute mile in the La Liga this season scoring 19 goals for Girona, the 5th most in the league. The 32 year old Uruguay international also got his name in the Spanish team of the season despite Girona being relegated to La Liga 2. These stats make him perfect for a team looking for a stopgap cheap back-up striker. The reasoning behind Barcelona’s interest.

Ludovic Blas

The second Guingamp player on this last is Ludovic Blas, the talented 21 year-old was a mainstay in Guingamp’s team this season making 40 appearances for the French side. His fantastic strike put the spotlight back on the midfielder who possesses fantastic dribbling, vision and concentration. Staying in his home country and signing for a better Ligue 1 side would be a smart decision, OGC Nice would be in desperate need for an attacking talent if Allan Saint-Maxim does complete a move to the Premier League.

Andrew Nelson

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Despite only signing for Dundee this winter Andrew Nelson showed his potential straight away getting 6 goal contributions in 701 minutes, one every 116 minutes for the worst team in the league, which is highly impressive. Nelson displayed that he is way above Scottish Championship standard this side of Christmas. This form should have earned him a move to at least a top 8 team in Scotland. With Motherwell’s Curtis Main joining Aberdeen and Hibs’ Marc McNulty returning to Reading, Hibs and Motherwell would be Nelson’s most realistic destinations.

Ertugrul Esroy

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Ertugrul Esroy is a 22 year-old Turkish centre back who plays for and captains Bursaspor. As the captain of his boyhood club Esroy won’t be in a rush to leave but that is no indication that he couldn’t cut it in mainland Europe. With Boyata leaving Celtic for Hertha Berlin, Esroy could be a perfect replacement with his passion, positioning and ability to read the game.

Pedro Rebocho

The third and final Guingamp player in this list is left back Pedro Rebocho. Rebocho has also shone at the Ligue 1 strugglers. Rebocho has turned into some sort of assist king this season with 8 in the league, only bettered by 5 other left backs in Europe. The former Benfica full-backs price-tag was set at £3.5m but that is likely to reduce with EAG’s relegation. There is Premier League interest though as Watford and Leicester are interested in him.

Pablo Maffeo

Playing on loan for Girona in La Liga the, at the time, Man City full back looked a new man which forced Stuttgart to pay a club record £8.8m for him but this backfired horribly with Maffeo playing only 8 games for the club who are sitting 16th. Just like Enzo Lociodice, Maffeo isn’t offcially relegated just yet but his fate is decided tomorrow when Stuttgart face Union Berlin. If Stuttgart go down I would be less than surprised if the Spaniard left the club. His most likely destination back to La Liga.

Where Can Rangers Strengthen In The Summer?

As the curtain closes on the 2018/19 season, Rangers have completed yet another trophy less season which is nothing short of unacceptable for such a big side. But where do Steven Gerrards rangers need to improve in order to compete at the top next season? Here are 5 players i think Rangers should sign this summer.

1) Ryan Kent

Kent has been nothing short of a revelation for Rangers this season with the Liverpool Loanee getting both Rangers and the PFA Young Player Of The Year. However, the rumours have already started this summer with rumours of a 5.5m, 7.5m and also a loan move have been talked about. But the only option for Rangers seems to be a Loan with Gerrard confirming that they have put in a loan offer for the Englishman. This deal is very likely to happen and I think it will be an Important singing for the Gers.

Likelihood Of Happening: 9/10

Ryan Kent celebrating his goal vs celtic.

2) Danny Welbeck

This one seems to be an unlikely one but would be an amazing signing for Gerrards side. The ex Manchester United Striker has had injury troubles of late which has resulted in Arsenal not renewing his contract and letting him go, which means Rangers can take him on a free transfer. I can see this one happening as Rangers have the pull of Gerrard which has brought players like Jermain Defoe, Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic to the club. There has also been some reported interest in the Ex England International by Rangers, as reported by the reliable Rangers source, 4 Lads Had A Dream. This one is the most unlikely of the 5 but could still happen and should not be ruled out.

Likelihood Of Happening: 4/10

3) John Souttar

With McAuley and Worrall leaving the club in the summer, Rangers are in need for a centre half. The Scotland International has made 34 appearances for Hearts this season and reaching the Semi-Final of the Betfred Cup and the Final of the Scottish Cup. Souttar is a solid Defender and should cost no more than 1.5m for the Glasgow Giants. However is unlikely to happen due to Rangers high interest in George Edmundson from English League 2 side Oldham Athletic. I think Souttar has been a strong player for the Jam Tarts since his arrival in 2015 from Dundee United and would be a good signing for Rangers.

Likelihood Of Happening: 7/10

4) David Turnbull

The fourth player on this list is David Turnbull. Turnbull is currently playing for fellow SPFL side Motherwell. He has scored an impressive 15 Goals and 6 assists in 31 games this season and he is only 19 years old so can still improve. With Jake Hastie coming to Rangers on a bosman from Motherwell you can see that Jake will try and bring the 19 year old to Govan with him. It is reported that Motherwell only want 1.7m for the midfielder which is a bargain Rangers should be all over.

Likelihood Of Happening: 6/10

5) Joe Aribo

The last player on the list is Joe Aribo. Aribo is another midfielder but is available on a free this summer with his contract at Charlton expiring. Rangers are interested in the Englishman but face competition from Old Firm rivals Celtic, Arsenal, Benfica and Europa League semi finalists Eintracht Frankfurt. With Graham Dorrans and Jordan Rossiter possibly out the door in the summer, Gerrard will want to add to his already strong midfield. The 22 year old has scored 10 Goals and provided 5 Assists in 38 Games for Charlton this season. I think Rangers should try and get this deal done as he would be a great player in scotland.

Likelihood Of Happening: 7/10

A little too late.

SM Caen 2018-19 Season Review

On the night of this being written, Caens fate has been sealed as they fell 1-0 to Bordeaux which seen them relegated to Ligue 2 for the first time since 2011-12 but it could have been so different.

In the summer of 2018, Caen underwent a massive overhaul which seen 13 players departing including their talented winger, 19 year old, Yann Karamoh who joined Inter Milan for €6.6m, Caens 4th most expensive export. This overhaul also seen Caen bring in 11 new players, splashing out on a new attack.

The campaign started off rather positive for Caen losing only one game out of the first five which was against the unstoppable PSG. This steady form continued all through September until the start of October where they lost to Marseille sparking a 10 game win-less run until they bet Toulouse 2-1 half-way through December, gaining their first win in almost three months.

One positive of Caen’s rather bleak season was their run in the Coupe de France where they reached the Quarter Finals via a 1-0 win over the Ligue 2 punching bag Red Star, an excellent 6-0 win away to 6th tier outfit Viry-Chatillon and a penalties win against Championnat National 3 team SC Bastia before being dumped out by a strong Lyon.

January came around and things didn’t get much better for Caen with news breaking out that star performer Frederic Guilbert would be joining Aston Villa when the season is over and Caen’s only addition would be Aly Ndom on loan from Stade Reims.

January was rounded off with a loss to Montpellier, who this time kick-started an 8 match streak where Caen couldn’t find a win but finally on the last day of March, they picked up a league win, a 1-0 victory away in Monaco. The first one since Toulouse in December. This win fed some hope into the northwestern French club as they picked up 3 remarkable wins in their next 6 games.

This incredible fight kept Caen, a team with only 4 league wins beforehand, in with a chance to stay up. Fighting against Dijon, Amiens and Monaco with 2 games to go. In their final 2 games Caen were the only team unable to pick up a point with Dijon beating Toulouse, Amiens beating 20th placed Guingamp and Monaco picking up a victory against Amiens whilst Fabien Mercadal’s side suffered back to back losses to Lyon and Bordeaux.

This immense showing of belief and fight wasn’t enough for Caens as they were relegated on the final day of the season.

Why Max Lowe is exactly what Rangers need

Max Lowe, 22 spent the 2018/19 season on loan at Aberdeen from English club Derby County, the left back impressed in Scotland with many raving about the young man. Numerous stellar performances at Aberdeen won Lowe the players’ player of the year award against the likes of, Sam Cosgrove, Lewis Ferguson and Gary Mackay-Stevens.

In terms of Rangers’ left back situation they’re a little lacklustre, Borna Barisic who arrived from Osijek was the mainstay in the left back position starting the season strongly with 7 assists in 14 games he quickly asserted himself in the team. Unfortunately for Barisic he suffered an injury which forced him out the team for some time where Jon Flanagan (originally a right back) and Andy Halliday filled the gap. After his return Barisic was reinstated in the team however struggled to find his form putting in a number of poor performances against big teams which saw him axed from the squad for Jon Flanagan. 

It looks like Borna Barisic will be leaving Rangers in the summer with Andy Halliday possibly following him so with only Jon Flanagan the club will have to strengthen in that department and Max Lowe is definitely the best candidate to fill the gap. Rangers will however have to battle the dons to Lowes’ signature and a large fee may be the asking price for the promising youngster. 

Goodbye, Guingamp

EA Guingamp 2018-19 season review.

Coming off the back of two consecutive impressive mid-table finishes 2018-19 looked like it could be a promising season for Las Costarmoricains and coach Antoine Kombouare. Despite losing a great talent in former Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Clement Grenier it looked like Guingamp could have potentially strengthened as they splashed £2.25m on Sikou Niakate, their most expensive addition since Gilmar nine years ago but he was swiftly loaned back to Valenciennes. EAG also added Ronny Rodelin, Nolan Roux and talented midfielder Guessoma Fofana to their 2018-19 squad.

Shortly after the restart of the season it was clear that Guingamp’s business was not as smart as it seemed with them sitting glued to the bottom of the league after 6 games picking up 0 points, although it was a tough run of games that seen them face 4 of the eventual top 6. EAG had to wait until the tail end of September to pick up their first point which they done travelling to the Stade des Costieres, Nimes’ stadium in the south of France, in a 0-0 draw.

After this Guingamp continued to push on from this picking up their first win against Angers the following week and then furthermore going unbeaten throughout the month of October picking up 3 consecutive draws in the league and again beating Angers and knocking them out of the Coupe De La Ligue.

This positive feeling around the Guingamp camp was quickly smashed away after the team conceded 9 goals in less than a week after a 5-0 trouncing from Nantes seen a temporary change of boss when Sylvain Didot took control of the wheel for one game and suffered a harsh 4-2 defeat to Lyon. His permanent replacement Jocelyn Gourvennec also couldn’t prevent a loss in his first game when his side fell to a 2-1 defeat at Reims.

December came around and results where improving, they started off with a draw against Europa League hopefuls OGC Nice and then suffered back to back losses against other relegation battlers Amiens and Dijon. Although these results sound negative this is where it started to kick on, Gourvennec modified his 4-2-3-1 formation slightly so Marcus Thuram was playing in his more natural left winger role. This clearly worked as Guingamp won 4 competitive games on the bounce, the first time they won consecutive games all season. This string of results included a penalty win over Nice to take them into the semi-finals of the Coupe De La Liga, an easy beating of minnows St Pontivyen, a 2-0 league win over Monaco, their first since September. The final win out the four was an incredible 2-1 win over PSG in the Coupe De La Ligue semi finals. Despite this tragic league form EAG had a surprise cup final to look forward to.

In January, Guingamp brought in 5 players. Former Sunderland duo Papy Djilibodji and Didier Ndong were joined by Johan Larsson, Alexandre Mendy and Mehdi Merghem but these additions could only help them to 4 wins in 14 up until the Cup Final. This game swung back and forth and was still goalless after 120 minutes played. It was the 4th game out of 5 in the tournament that Guingamp had went to penalties in and sadly the only one they lost in. After this heartbreak it was ultimately season over for Guingamp as they had just a month and a bit to cut a large point deficit.

EAG’s fate was sealed on the 12th of May when Marcus Thuram saw a 92nd minute penalty saved by Rennes goalkeeper Tomas Koubek closing the curtains on a miserable but nearly so wonderful season for En Avant de Guingamp.

Weekly Transfer Round Up – 20/5/2019 – 26/5/2019

Completed Transfers

Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt – Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach to Borussia Dortmund. € 50 million

The first ‘big deals’ of the window is a very exciting and smart one. German giants Borussia Dortmund have activated the release clauses of both Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt, both of at the relatively small fee of around 25 million euros. It’s good business by Dortmund with other clubs from around the continent interested they have saved themselves the hassle of a war for the players by buying earlier. The deals also represent extremely good value for money, something that has become a trend with Dortmund in recent years. Transfermarkt values the players at roughly 45 million euros each and Hazard is in his prime at 26 years old and Brandt is already an established name in German football at the tender age of 23. For Dortmund it provides depth and two rotation players who can both play on both flanks as well as central. It is also notable that American winger Christian Pulisic has now finally joined Chelsea so more firepower was needed out wide and these two are the perfect duo to give them that. Presumably neither will be a consistent starter with Dortmund possessing the talents of Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus in the wide areas, but if they were to the starting lineup could look something like the picture on the left, assuming they sign Paco Alcacer.

Signing Rating- Hazard- 8/10, Brandt 9/10

Vincent Kompany – Manchester City To Anderlecht, Free (Player – Manager)

This could be the strangest one out of the lot and the one that could go either way. On one hand Vincent Kompany is an incredible leader (and still a fantastic player) and has learned from the best of the best. On the other hand there will be huge expectations for Kompany to hit the ground running in Belgium. The Belgian league is very competitive and Anderlecht have underachieved in the last few seasons, after winning the title in 2016-17 they finished 3rd the following season and 6th this year. A revival is needed at the club and if Kompany is the one to lead the team back to the big time then his stock will rise and he will be in the frame for a lot of jobs around Europe. While I respect Anderlecht for taking a huge risk on an inexperienced manager and having a player-manager, something rare in the modern game, but truth be told the reason for the lack of player-managers is because they rarely succeed. Kompany will need guidance and help to establish himself and construct a team that fits his vision and then take that forward and challenge for titles and progress in Europe. Alternatively Anderlecht may slide further down the table and Kompany could be left without a job. I’ll be keeping tabs on them and I’ll be one of the many cheering the Belgian on in hope he can make a successful career in management.

Transfer Rumours

Romelu Lukaku – Manchester United to Inter Milan, £30 million + Ivan Perisic

This is an extremely interesting rumour for both teams, according to many outlets Inter Milan are desperate to land Man United’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku and are willing to offer up long term United target Perisic. While this deal wouldn’t be fantastic for United, losing a player they brought in for nearly £90 million plus Wayne Rooney just two years ago, for £30 million and a 30 year old winger who scored 8 goals last season but it could turn out well for United. Losing Lukaku would allow them to either deploy Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford as their main striker and put Perisic out wide, or sign a new striker and stick Perisic in midfield. However whatever Ole and United do is irrelevant to the situation at Inter Milan. Argentine forward Mauro Icardi has been linked to Juventus however there are still no strong rumours (hence why there’s no section in this blog for that move) and even if Icardi stays in Milan, well a front two of Icardi and Lukaku isn’t exactly anything to be snuffed at. While Lukaku gets his fair share of criticism he would be a perfect fit beside Icardi in Italy, using his big frame and immense strength to compete with the defensive brutality we associate with Italian football. Alongside the more technical, talented Icardi the two could work wonders up front and finally be the key to shooting Inter back to the big time.

Image: GETTY

Joao Cancelo – Juventus to Manchester City, £52 million

This is one I really like from Man City’s side. Joao Cancelo is one of, if not the best right back in the world at the moment and Kyle Walker has fallen out of favour with Guardiola. When you consider the current climate of the transfer market in which Wilfred Zaha is being valued at between 70 and 100 million, 52 isn’t as terribly expensive as it first seems. Cancelo would also be ideal if Guardiola ever decides to change to a system with wing backs like he sometimes does in big games. He was also linked at the start of this season to both Man City and their neighbours before Juventus snapped him up and has been linked to both sides again this year and it looks as if City have won the battle against United, once again. At just 24 he will be a key part of Guardiola’s future plan for European dominance that he’s been building at the Etihad for the last few years and will prove to be a formidable fullback. He’s some I like a lot, fast, energetic, intelligent, exciting and a real modern fullback. I’m excited to see him in the premier league in a Guardiola side he’ll compliment well.

Image: GETTY