Can the Manchester dominance be broken?

31 May

With the top three clubs in Britain starting the 2013/14 campaign with new managers, it is the biggest opportunity for the Manchester dominance of recent years to be broken.

David Moyes – Manchester United


David Moyes is stepping in to the biggest boots in football – Sir Alex Fergusons. This appointment has split opinions, and there is no doubt he will have the eyes of the world watching his every move.

The 50-year-old Scot started his managerial career at Preston in 1998 in which he spent four successful years. He guided the club into the division two play-off’s in his second season, completing the job the following year by winning the title. In his fourth year he took the same squad of players into the division one play-off final, eventually losing to Lancashire rivals Bolton Wanderers. Moyes left the club with a 48% win ratio.


2002 sparked the beginning of Moyes’ next adventure, which lasted 11 years to May 2013. In the Everton hotseat he has won the LMA Manager of the Season award three times, along with ten manager of the months.

Previous to Moyes’ entrance, Everton had only finished in the top-half of the Premier League on two occasions and were a re-known bottom of the table side, however their fortunes changed and have only finished in the bottom-half twice out of the Glaswegian’s 11 years, with a highest finish of fourth and even reached the Champions League Qualifiers.

Some positives for Manchester United fans are Moyes has always progressed the club he has managed, be in through promotion or European competitions, and always been very profitable.

However doubts shall be cast over his credentials as his record against the ‘big four’ clubs (Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool & Arsenal) is abysmal, failing to win away from home in 45 attempts. Also the failure to win a major trophy will not be tolerated, however surely the Glazers will give him the time to produce?


Manuel Pellegrini – Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini has said to have a verbal agreement to join Manchester City in the coming days, following Roberto Mancini’s departure.


Pellegrini is an experienced manager who started managing Argentinian side San Lorenzo in 2001. In his first season he led the side to the league and cup double, and then moved on to River Plate, in which the clinched the league title again the following year. In his 24 months in Argentina, Pellegrini won three trophies with two different clubs, not a bad start to management.

After a break, the Chilean joined Villarreal in July 2004, guiding them to third position in his first season. This gave him the opportunity to get into the Champions League via the qualifiers, in which he came up against his latest nemesis, David Moyes. Pellegrini’s men ran out 2-1 winners in a game which shall always be remembered for ‘that’ Duncan Ferguson disallowed goal.


Pellegrini’s highlight was either winning the Intertoto Cup in 2007, or finishing runners-up to Real Madrid in La Liga. However he must overcome his old-burden Arsene Wenger who knocked him out of the latter stages of the Champions League twice in three years, when he braces the Premier League.

In controversial fashion, Pellegrini said he is under contract with Villarreal and will not be leaving the club in the summer of 2009, however a day later left his post to become to new Real Madrid manager.

His spell at Real was short-lived. Although he smashed Real Madrid’s highest ever points tally with an astounding 96 points, along with the world record transfer fee of £80 million for Cristiano Ronaldo, he fell three points short of Barcelona and therefore no silverware means no more job in the Spanish capital.

Pellegrini’s most recent job was delivered very impressively, playing fast-flowing attacking football, whilst producing results. Again he smashed another clubs points tally racking up 54 La Liga points with Malaga, guiding them to 4th position and even a Champions League quarter-final, losing out to eventual finalists Borussia Dortmand.

Positives for Manchester City fans are the style of football and the vast experience Pellegrini will bring is surely something to excite them. Now the Premier League has been won, the focus will be on winning the big one, the Champions League, a competition well-known to the Chilean.

However big-money spending spree’s at Real (£200m) without a trophy and tendency to leave a club after 12 months must be noted, along with the failure to deliver a major trophy in Europe could test the patience of chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, who expects to win every trophy they are in.

Jose Mourinho – Chelsea


They say lightning never strikes twice, yet the rarity could strike down on the Premier League once again.

The Special One says Chelsea is deep within his heart, and with the known fact that he still has unfinished business at the club, it is looking likely the ex-Real Madrid manager will be reunited with his beloved blues.

Mourinho first broke onto the world stage in 2002 with FC Porto, where he spent two years. In this time spent in his home country, he won the Primeira Liga twice, Taça de Portugal, Supertaça, Cândido de Oliveira, UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup.

Mourinho’s first spell in charge of Chelsea started in 2004, and what a remarkable one it was, winning the League Cup and the Premier League title, along with smashing records for the most points secured (95) and few goals conceded (15) in a season.

He followed this up by retaining the Premier League title and winning the Community Shield. He then added the Carling Cup and FA Cup in 2006/07 before leaving the club by mutual consent after a bad start to the 2007/08 season.


Then Italy came calling, and a two-year spell with Inter Milan started. In typical fashion he won the league and cup double in his first year, bettering it in his second by completing the treble, adding the Champions League.

Spain was Mourinho’s next destination with a three-year spell at Real Madrid. Mourinho’s appointment brought about the sacking of Pellegrini, which adds fuel to the fire as Manchester City battle with Chelsea this coming year.


During this spell he won three trophies, La Liga, Copa del Rey and Supercopa de España.

Mourinho has 34 individual accolades to his name, along with winning 20 major competitions in the last 11 years, astonishing compared to Moyes’ zero.

The core of Mourinho’s ex-Chelsea squad is still in-tact, although ageing, minus Drogba. However Abramovich is not short of money to allow him to expand the squad and bring in the qualities needed to achieve success.

Positives for Chelsea fans are that they know what they are getting for their money. A proven champion in four countries and has delivered silverware in 10 of his last 11 years.

On the other hand, the myth that managers should never return to a club they were successful at only results in negativity can be disproved, be it by Graham Taylor driving Watford from division four to division one, then returning and promoting them from division two at his first attempt, or Harry Redknapp stabilising Portsmouth’s Premier League status, then returning and winning the FA Cup in 2008.



Tony Smith – Chip Shop to Champion

2 May

Tony Smith - Warrington Head Coach
From a chippy in Workington to the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup, Tony Smith describes the transition that makes him one of the greats of Rugby League.

The current Warrington Wolves Head Coach grew up in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. His interest in Rugby came from watching his older brothers playing before one of them gave him his big break.

Smith describes his time at junior level as: “I started from a pretty early age and it felt like it’s been in my blood from when I could walk and talk.”

“I was an outstanding junior and was probably a pretty big fish in a small pond.”
The Warrington boss started his professional career in 1987 with Illawarra Steelers, where he spent six years at the club making 37 appearances and scoring nine tries.

He went onto another Australian Rugby League (now known as National Rugby League) team, St. George Dragons, where he spent the next four years, three of those under the guidance of his older brother, Brian Smith.

However he was not exceptional in the Australian Rugby League, although he did reach the Grand Final in 1992: “I probably spent half and half my career in first team and reserve grade.”

“When I was at my very best I was in the first team and when I was at my usual I was in the second team.”
The big change then arrived when he made the switch to England and signed for Workington in 1996. Although he only spent one year at this club due to injury problems suffered in previous seasons, he spent the whole year living above a chip shop.
“Workington was a pretty down-trotten old place at that time.”
“It was a culture shock.”

“We went back to Australia after that and we knew the next time we came back to England it would look a lot better than living above a chippy in Workington.”

“It set us up for our next stint which has been 13 years now and likely to be for the remainder of our lives.”

Smith then followed his brothers’ footstep’s and turned to coaching: “I was coaching long before I retired, I was out trying to get people to be better players whilst I was still playing and I felt that I did ok at that.”

“I love it, I love helping people become better as people and players.”

The Aussie was appointed assistant coach at Adelaide Rams between 1997/98 and is ever grateful of that opportunity: ““I was lucky that a great player in Rod Reddy gave me the opportunity to become assistant coach to him and that was a fantastic opportunity.”

In 2001 Smith took charge of Huddersfield and failed to secure safety relegating them to the National First Division, losing a record 13 games in a row, yet still managed to keep his job.

The following season Huddersfield returned to the Super League without losing a game, and even managing to clinch the Grand Final trophy with a victory against Leigh.

In a surprise move late 2003, Smith joined Leeds Rhino’s and spent four years at the club. In this time he won two Grand Finals, one World Club Challenge and One League Leaders shield.

The ex-standoff is very humble about his trophy wins, placing emphasis more on his relationships than the glamour: “My buzz comes from much more personal things like relationships with my players.”

“Them trophy special moments are very special to be part of, but they are just a by-products to people becoming decent people, decent human beings, good teammates and respectful.”

This was by far his richest vein of form in his entire career, which subsequently led to him being offered the Great Britain Head Coach job in 2007.

Smith led England to the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup in 2008, along with a tremendous triple demolishing of the ever dominant New Zealand in the build-up.

As his contract expired, he decided to move to the North-West and accepted a deal with Warrington Wolves in 2009.
The success has continued by winning three Challenge Cups and one League Leaders Shield.

Smith is currently enjoying his time at Warrington and got both feet firmly on the ground: “I’m not a big planner, not a big goal setter.”
“I try to be happy, I try to make people around me feel good.”

“I’ve got a few more years with Warrington which I’m loving, I’ve got a great boss who I like working with and who I respect.”

Bolton Wanderers v Huddersfield Town – Match Preview

1 Apr

A bareboned Bolton side will be looking to bounce back from back-to-back defeats as they welcome Huddersfield Town to the Reebok stadium.


Bolton’s second game in just four days gives them a perfect chance to respond to the devastating defeat at the weekend.

In the reverse fixture earlier this season Chris Eagles missed a penalty as The Terriers snatched a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw.

Huddersfield are right in the pick of the relegation dogfight only two points outside the drop zone. They have the worst goal difference in the division at -25.

Town have provided some shock results recently, the last time they played an away fixture they won 2-1 at Elland Road.

The Trotters will be without Craig Davies and Sam Ricketts after their dismissals at the weekend, along with Jay Spearing who picked up his 5th yellow card of the season against Charlton.

Keith Andrews and Matt Mills remain on the sidelines with thigh injuries, while Mark Davies and Josh Vela are also out for the foreseeable future.

The referee for this game is David Webb from Lancashire who has officiated in 30 games this season issuing 93 yellow cards and 5 reds. He has given a lowly six penalties in those games.


Charlton Athletic v Bolton Wanderers – Match Preview

28 Mar

Bolton look to continue their play-off push by completing the double over struggling Charlton.

Bolton v Charlton

A Dougie Freedman ‘supersub’ back in December bringing on N’gog for Butterfield resulted in the Frenchman bagging a late brace to win the game 2-0.

The Trotters are looking to bounce back from the 1-0 defeat at Ipswich which was their first loss in nine games.

Charlton currently sit in 15th position on 47 points, just five outside the relegation zone. The Addicks have the worst home form in the league with only four wins at the Valley this season. They have picked up only four points at home since the turn of the year.

The Kevin Davies saga this week could put pressure on Freedman to start the target man, however the squad should be similar to the one that started the last game away to Ipswich.

The trotters have no new injury concerns with M. Davies and Vela still ruled out for the forseeable future.

One of the hardest decisions for Freedman to make will be who will be between the sticks. With Lonergan in top form conceding only one goal in three games, the return of Adam Bogdan from injury could be cause for change.

Bogdan was an unused substitute for Hungary this week in their bid for World Cup qualification.

Several other players returned from a successful international break with Sordell grabbing himself a goal in a side Craig Dawson captained, as England U21 breezed to a 4-0 win over Austria U21.

Sordell u21

Lee also returned injury free after he helped to take his South Korea side to the top of the of Asia qualifying group A

Jay Spearing, Chung-Yong Lee and Marcos Alonso are all one yellow card away from a suspension.

Charlton have no injury concerns and are even able to loan players out with Crook going to Yeovil and Smith to Colchester.

With Nottingham Forest hosting Brighton & Hove Albion it is a great opportunity for Bolton to close the 5 point gap on the play-offs.

The referee for the game will be Trevor Kettle from Berkshire who has officiated in 30 games this season, issuing 113 yellow cards and 6 reds. He has awarded 10 penalties averaging 0.33 per game.


Worst BWFC players of the last 10 years?

22 Mar

With the international break this week there will be no match preview so I have drawn up a list of what I think are the worst players to wear a Bolton Wanderers shirt.

GK- Adam Bogdan

Adam Bogdan

With Jussi Jaaskelainen between the sticks for majority of the last decade, there have not been many other names occupying the gloves. I chose the Hungarian as every ball that is crossed into our box gives me a mini heart-attack and his inability to move off the goal-line frustrates the masses. Unable to distribute the ball to another white shirt along with the dropping of multiple crosses and shots pips him just ahead of the veterans Kevin Poole and Ian Walker.

RB – Tyrone Mears

Tyrone Mears

Having played for a rival Lancashire club he was never going to be a fan favourite when he moved to Bolton. He has failed to live up to his £1.5million price tag after a disappointing first season which was plagued with injury, he was part of the team that got relegated the following season. Mears beats Nicky Hunt to this place due to his extortionate price tag.

CB – Gerald Cid

Gerald Cid

Gerald was one of Sammy Lee’s first signings as a manager and it is safe to say this is probably why he reverted back to being a member of the backroom staff. Cid averaged nine appearances a season in his 10 year career and only made seven appearances in a Bolton shirt but my god, them seven games probably propelled him to the top of the worst players ever table.

CB – Lubomir Michalik

Soccer - Friendly - Hibernian v Bolton Wanderers - Easter Road

Lubomir only played for Bolton seven times in his one year spell scoring one goal, away at Stamford Bridge in a 2-2 draw. However he was used as a rotation player in the Carling cup and FA Cup. After his spell with Bolton he went onto spend five years in League One with Leeds, Carlise and Portsmouth. He was not a stand-out performer in League One which is probably his level, definitely not the Premier League. Puygrenier came a close in third position with his unsuccessful loan spell in 2009.

LB – Henrik Pedersen


The left back position is the one void that has not been filled since Simon Charlton left the club in 2004. However Marcus Alonso seems to be fitting in nicely this season, it is likely he will leave if we fail to win promotion especially with Tony Pulis sniffing around. Pedersen is a Bolton wanderers fan favourite of six years, however being the only fit left-footed player at the beginning of the 2005/06 season meant Big Sam turned to him as an emergency left back.

RM – Daniel Braaten

Daniel Braaten

Braaten only spent one season at Bolton making seven appearances, one of those against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, and scoring only one goal, in a 3-0 home win over Reading. His £450,000 transfer from Rosenburg in 2007 never seemed a worthy buy, a winger without pace or tricky is maybe not suited to the Premier League. Bolton then sold Braaten to Toulouse in a deal which saw Johan Elmander coming the other way.

CM – Mikel Alonso

Mikel Alonso

The older brother of xabi, Mikel made only 11 appearances during his one year stint at the club, managing only two wins during the 2007/08 season. After it was realised he was nothing like his brother, he never played another game for the club after september.

CM – Khalilou Fadiga

Khalilou Fadiga

Bolton Wanderers have been blessed with midfield talent in the previous decade with the likes of Okocha, Djorkaeff, Campo and Speed. However Fadiga’s career never really took off making only 13 appearances in two years. This was mainly down to the Senegalese’s collapse during a warm-up to a game and he had to be fitted with a defibrillator. He scored one goal for Bolton away at Fulham, a free-kick near the corner flag which evaded everyone and nestled into the bottom corner, although he did miss a spot kick earlier in the game.

RM – Christian Wilhelmsson

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Bolton Wanderers v Chelsea - Reebok Stadium

When the swede joined on loan from Nantes he was dubbed one of the quickest players in the premier league. The club gave him the number 10 shirt for the season and the fans got really excited to see the speedster in action. His season started with a 3-1 away defeat to Portsmouth in which he showed he had no trickery or ability to beat a man, and he only used his pace to run sideways in typical ‘reo-coker’ style. He failed to score a goal in any of his eight appearances and was sent back to his parent club in January 2008.

ST – Ebi Smolarek

Ebi Smolarek

Besides Nicholos Anelka, Bolton have never really had a talismanic front man so this the striking duo was the hardest pair to pick. I went for Smolarek who joined on loan with a view to a permanent deal in 2008, mainly due to his failure to score a league goal in 12 games and looked out of his depth in all 12. He was in the same squad as Ariza Makukula, which shows the desperation of Gary Megson that season.

ST- Grzegorz Rasiak

Gregorz Rasiak

Rasiak was a free scoring striker in the Championship with Southampton between 2006/09, scoring 24 goals in 65 games. However when he was brought in during the January transfer window to ease the trotters relegation fears, he failed to score in any of the seven games he played in. The Beanpole’s most memorable moment would be hitting the crossbar accidentally away to Middlesbrough in a relegation battle in which he intended to head the ball in a completely different direction.


Ipswich Town v Bolton Wanderers – Match Preview

14 Mar

Bolton will want to avoid a repeat of the 2-1 home defeat against Ipswich Town when they make the 500 mile round trip to Norfolk on Saturday.

Chopra v bolton

Michael Chopra’s last-minute winner at the Reebok in December was a typical smash-and-grab in a game they were dominated throughout.

The Trotters are the current in-form team in the Championship unbeaten in eight and took maximum points in their last five games. However the Tractor Boys have only conceded one goal in their previous four games, so Dougie Freedman will have to decide carefully if he will stick with Kevin Davies or twist with the prolific Craig Davies to partner the ever-present David N’gog.

One thing is for sure is the spine of the squad ought to remain the same with player of the month Craig Dawson partnering captain Zat Knight at the back. Loanee Jay Spearings’ man of the match performance against Brighton & Hove Albion should stand him in good stead for this 33rd appearance in a Bolton Wanderers shirt.

The main dilemma for Freedman is who will be wearing the goalkeeping gloves with the return of Adam Bogdan to first team training. Backup keeper Andy Lonergan has kept two clean sheets in two games whilst stepping in for the injured Hungarian.

Andy Lonergan

Ipswich sit on 43 points, just four outside the drop zone and have nine games to reach the trusted 50 point mark which will almost guarantee survival. They have also produced a few shock results recently with their last home game being a 1-0 win over promotion chasing Leicester City.

Mick Mccarthy, like Dougie Freedman, has only been in charge of the club a couple of months but is at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of experience to Freedman having managed for over 20 years. Mccarthy has a phenomenal record having lead Millwall and Sunderland into the play-offs along with taking the Republic of Ireland into the second round of the World Cup.

The referee for the game will be Stuart Attwell who was demoted from the Premier League in February 2012. Attwell holds the record for being the youngest Premier League referee ever at the age of 25. He has officiated 35 Football League games this season dishing out 92 yellow cards and only two reds.

Two Points Dropped

17 Nov

Two points dropped or one point gained?  Battling for promotion or a relegation dog fight?  No matter what Bolton Wanderer’s season objectives are we should be beating Barnsley at home.

Starting the untried 4-2-3-1 formation shows Dougie has a plan B, something Coyle did not.  The defensive mastermind did not park the bus from the word go, like in his previous three games.  However peppering the opposition goal from the edge of the 18, with every shot straight down the keepers’ throat is not sufficient.

Kevin Davies, who has never been a real goal poacher, failed to read a ball dropping to him two yards out and scuffed the chance.  Maybe a chance Afobe or Sordell would have buried.

The long-serving Bolton legend then redeemed himself with an expertly taken goal from 10 yards, drifting in behind McNulty, bringing down Eagles’ inch-perfect cross with one touch, and powering it into the bottom corner.

Shot after shot came from an inspired Bolton team but nothing really testing Steele. A nonsense substitution bringing on Andrews for N’gog on the 56th minute sent the message round the stadium that it was time to attempt defence mode.

This was a huge lift to everyone in the stadium that had Bolton on their Goals Galore.  Surprisingly the trotters managed to hold out for an impressive nine minutes until the inevitable happened on the 65th minute.  Considering Bolton’s attempt of defending is backing 11 men inside our own box whilst the opposition play around with the ball just outside is a not exactly foolproof.  Barnsley got bored playing and under no pressure from 20 yards had a shot which flew into the bottom corner.  Same old same old.

This drew an attacking change from Dougie to bring on Lee for N’gog.  Also it was time to go back to the Coyle days of everyone standing still like statues and if the ball came to you, kick it as hard as possible into the direction of Chris Eagles or Kevin Davies’s 50p head.

The game ended 1-1.

If Bolton were to draw with such a poor opposition such as Barnsley again can we at least do it in humorous fashion like playing Pratley? Please?

A massive improvement is needed if we are to get anything against Brighton next week, for me K.Davies, Butterboy and Mears should be nowhere near the first team.  A lone immobile striker that is losing his ability to head a ball is no use.  N’gog proved he is a handful upfront against Cardiff so he must be utilised.

On a positive not Matt Mills won more headers today than he has all season (2).