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Could Everton’s Ambitions Ultimately Prove Costly?



Everton's Ambitions Ultimately Prove Costly

For over a decade now, Everton Football Club have been the best of the rest. They have only finished outside of the top eight on two occasions since the 2005/06 season. Like Aston Villa before them, they have often provided the barrier between the big boys and everyone else. When Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri purchased a 49.9% stake in the club in February 2016, hopes were high that the Toffees would turn the so-called “Big Six” into a “Big Seven”. Despite a positive first full season under Moshiri resulting in a seventh placed finish, not everything has gone to plan since then. Could Everton’s ambitions ultimately prove costly?

Ronald Koeman was poached from Southampton after Moshiri offered him £6m a year and “the biggest transfer budget in Everton’s history” plus money received from the projected sales of John Stones and Romelu Lukaku. This turned out to be an initial £47.5m for Stones whilst Lukaku stayed another season.

Everton's Ambitions Ultimately Prove Costly

Koeman was recently sacked after a run of two wins in twelve despite spending over £140m in the summer. And one of those wins was against Championship basement boys Sunderland in the League Cup. Now attention turns to who will replace the Dutchman at the helm. David Unsworth is currently the favourite despite losing his first three games as caretaker manager before defeating Watford in the fourth. Other British managers have also been mentioned in the form of Burnley’s Sean Dyche, ex-England manager Sam Allardyce and David Moyes prior to his appointment by West Ham this week. But one name stands out above all others. That name is Diego Simeone.

The Atletico Madrid manager has led the Spanish giants to success in the Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana on top of reaching two Champions League finals. His most notable achievement was steering Los Rojiblancos to the 2013/14 La Liga title breaking up the Real Madrid/Barcelona hegemony for the first time since 2003/04.

Simeone is reportedly top of Moshiri’s managerial wish list, yet it seems inconceivable that the Argentine manager would swap glory in Spain’s capital for a potential relegation battle on Merseyside.

Moshiri’s ambitions draw parallels with those of Blackburn Rovers in 2011 when new owners the Venkys announced plans to bring David Beckham and Ronaldinho to the club. Six years later and it is the likes of Fleetwood Town and Rochdale coming to Ewood Park instead with the club languishing just inside the League One play-off positions. Similarly QPR attempted to recruit Beckham in 2012 having already signed Jose Bosingwa, Ji-Sung Park, Esteban Granero and Julio Cesar from big clubs that summer on extortionate wages. They were among several “marquee” signings for Rangers who subsequently finished bottom of the Premier League and have since struggled in the Championship.

Another bizarre story to come out of the blue half of Merseyside recently was that concerning the shirt number of summer signing Nikola Vlasic. Vlasic told the press that he wanted the number eight shirt, but that was already held by Ross Barkley, whilst the number nineteen was reserved for Diego Costa. The same Diego Costa who top-scored for the Premier League Champions last season. Costa most likely will play under Simeone soon, although it will be at the Wanda Metropolitano rather than Goodison Park with the Spain international having already re-joined his old club who are unable to play him until January due to a transfer ban.

If Everton are to turn their season around, they must begin to think realistically. Whilst Toffees fans would be rightfully underwhelmed to see the likes of Allardyce or Moyes or any other manager perennially linked to bottom-half Premier League clubs appointed, they must realise Simeone will have much better job offers should he leave Madrid.

Everton's Ambitions Ultimately Prove Costly

There are young British managers performing well who are not given a chance at a higher level since both they and their club are deemed too unfashionable. Dyche, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and Graham Potter of Swedish club Ostersunds are examples of these. The latter led his club from the Swedish fourth division to the first in five seasons whilst winning the Svenska Cupen, their first major trophy last season. This saw them qualify for the Europa League in which they are currently top of their group having already deposed of relative heavyweights Galatasaray and PAOK in the qualifying rounds.

Yet Potter has not been linked to a single Premier League job with teams much preferring the usual suspects with the hope of securing a top-seventeen finish and nothing more. Huddersfield gambled on a relative unknown in the form of Borussia Dortmund’s reserve team manager David Wagner. The German has since led them to a shock promotion and they are currently in tenth place following a solid start to the season undoubtably topped by the recent 2-1 victory over Manchester United. Before them Southampton made an obscure appointment in 2013 by bringing in unknown manager Mauricio Pochettino to replace Nigel Adkins. The same Pochettino who is now reportedly towards the top of Real Madrid’s wishlist should Zinedine Zidane lose his job.

Everton should look towards a manager in the mould of the above names if they are to progress to the next level. Once they are competing for trophies and Champions League football on a regular basis they can look towards the likes of Simeone and Carlo Ancelotti, another name linked following his sacking from Bayern Munich.

There is a fine line between ambition and delusion, and if Everton are not careful, they may find themselves going the way of QPR or Blackburn Rovers rather than Tottenham and Manchester City. The most similar club to Everton right now in terms of business model is West Ham who are more interested in creating a 2012 Premier League all-stars eleven than a team worthy of competing for European football. The Hammers have just replaced the Toffees in the relegation zone. They have the money to spend on quality players, but they need these players to prove themselves and establish them as a serious challenger to the top six before individuals of the calibre of Simeone and Costa view Everton as an attractive proposition.

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Video | Neymar showered in fake €500 notes embossed with his crying face



Bayern Munich fans have never been ones to shied away from criticism’s of UEFA and the heavy corporate influences within the game.  This week the worlds most expensive player was in town, and the supporters front line weren’t about to miss an opportunity to poke him with corporate stick, and they didn’t disappoint.

As the Brazilian striker made his way over to take a corner in the first half, Bayern supporters in the front row showered him in fake €500 notes complete with a custom image of Neymar’s face in tears.

Image: Fox Sports (via Yahoo)

Bayern fans also to aim at UEFA by unveiled a banners reading: “Throwing fake money is charged, but exploiting our football is fine?”

The banner was in response to UEFA’s recent charge of the Bundesliga champions after fans previously threw fake cash on the field in protest against the €100 ticket prices charged for the clash with Anderlecht in Belgium last month.

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England’s World Cup Opponents | What’s in store?



Belgium, Tunisia and Panama: England’s World Cup Opponents Reviewed
With the World Cup draw having been made, England fans will be relatively happy with the group they have been given. The pot one heavyweights in the form of Argentina, Brazil, France and Germany were all avoided, whilst Tunisia are one of the weakest teams in pot three. World Cup debutants Panama are another side the majority of teams would have been happy to face. Here we review all three of England’s opponents ahead of football’s greatest showpiece kicking off in Russia next summer.


Belgium will be by far the most familiar of England’s opponents. The majority of The Red Devils’ squad play or have played in England’s top flight with 21 of the 34 players to have appeared in Belgium squads since September having Premier League experience. In addition, Mats Sels played for Newcastle in the Championship last season whilst Thorgan Hazard was on Chelsea’s books despite not making a single appearance for them.

In terms of key players, Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is arguably the pick of the bunch with many regarding him the Premier League’s best player this season. Chelsea duo Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku and Tottenham defenders Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld will also be high-quality opposition for Kane, Alli and co. to test themselves against.
Outside the Premier League, PSG defender Thomas Meunier, Roma’s Radja Nainggolan and Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco are all big players, but arguably the most dangerous threat will come from Napoli’s Dries Mertens who has ten Serie A goals already this season.
In recent years, the so-called “golden generation” has not yet lived up to expectations. In 2014 they reached the World Cup, their first major tournament in 14 years. After one-goal victories against Algeria, Russia and South Korea in the group stages, they beat the USA 2-1 after extra time in the last 16. Their run was halted by Argentina in the quarter finals when an early Gonzalo Higuain goal gave the South American giants a 1-0 victory.

It was Euro 2016 however in which they really disappointed. Despite losing 2-0 to Italy in their opening group match, 3-0 and 1-0 wins over Republic of Ireland and Sweden respectively were enough to see them progress to the knockout rounds as group E runners-up. A 4-0 win over Hungary set up a quarter final match with Wales and when Radja Nainggolan’s long distance strike gave Marc Wilmots’ side an early lead, hopes were high of a semi-final clash with Portugal. But Wales came back to claim a shock 3-1 victory which knocked Belgium out.
Wilmots was sacked after this result and replaced with another name familiar to Premier League fans in the form of Roberto Martinez. The ex-Swansea, Wigan and Everton boss led Belgium to become the first European team to qualify for Russia 2018. Only a 1-1 draw with Greece denied them a 100% qualifying record in a campaign which saw 6-0 and 9-0 wins over Gibraltar and an 8-1 victory over Estonia. This helped secure their status (joint with Germany) as the highest-scoring team in the history of a single World Cup qualifying campaign with 43 goals.
Belgium are currently sixth-favourites to lift the trophy in July ahead of former winners England and Uruguay, and European Championship holders Portugal. England have played them 21 times picking up 15 victories and just a solitary defeat which came back in 1936.


©Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The other two teams in Group G will be a lot less familiar to England fans.
Tunisia are making their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals having failed to progress beyond the group stages in all four of their previous campaigns, most recently in 2006. They began their campaign in the second round of African qualifiers with a 4-2 aggregate victory over Mauritania before topping a group including Guinea, Libya and closest rivals Congo DR in the third round. A 0-0 draw at home to Libya in the final group game was enough to book their ticket to Russia despite Congo DR defeating Guinea 3-1.

The Premier League has seen five Tunisian players in its history. The first to arrive was defender Radhi Jaidi. Jaidi played for Esperance Sportive de Tunis, Tunisia’s most successful club before joining Bolton Wanderers in July 2004. He then went on to play for Birmingham before joining League One Southampton in 2009. The ex-national team captain is now coaching the Saints’ U23 team. He played at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and was a part of Tunisia’s African Cup of Nations-winning side in 2004. Birmingham signed Mehdi Nafti just a few months after Jaidi’s arrival in England.

Nafti now manages Merida in the Spanish third division. Hatem Trabelsi had a brief spell at Manchester City in the 2006/07 season before Yohan Benalouane signed for Leicester in 2015. The defender played in four games during Leicester’s title-winning 2015/16 season but missed out on a winners’ medal as a minimum of five appearances were required. Wahbi Khazri makes up the Premier Leagues’ Tunisian contingent having joined Sunderland in January 2016. His highlight in the North-East was a goal and assist in a 2-1 victory over Manchester United. He now plays on loan for Rennes in the French Ligue 1.

Tunisia’s biggest-name player at the moment is defender Aymen Abdennour who currently plays for Marseille on loan from Valencia. Abdennour was once a reported Chelsea target and Watford were said to be interested in signing him this summer before he returned to France where he had previously played with Toulouse and Monaco. Another key player is captain Aymen Mathlouthi. The goalkeeper has spent his entire career in Tunisia. He has spent fourteen years at Etoile du Sahel and won the CAF Champions League in 2007. Mathlouthi is known as a ball-playing goalkeeper and lifted the African Nations Championship (not to be confused with the African Cup of Nations) in 2011. Other names that may be familiar to avid fans of European football are Ligue 1 trio Oussama Haddadi, Naim Sliti (both Dijon) and Nice youngster Bassem Srarfi. Doncaster Rovers fans will be familiar with midfielder Issam Ben Khemis, although with just one cap to his name (in October 2016), he looks likely to miss out on a trip to Russia.
Nabil Maaloul is the Tunisia head coach. He played in Europe briefly for German side Hannover and is currently in his fifth spell as either Tunisia manager or assistant manager (including managing the Olympic side in 2004). He had a three-year spell as Kuwait boss before returning to the Carthage Eagles in April 2017, just in time to mastermind his nation’s progression to the World Cup finals.
In two appearances against Tunisia, England are unbeaten. They drew 1-1 in a 1990 friendly before winning 2-0 in the 1998 World Cup group stages.


If England fans are unfamiliar with Tunisia, then Panama are even more of an unknown quantity. The Central American side began their campaign in the fourth round of qualifiers for teams in CONCACAF, the equivalent of UEFA for teams in North and Central America (plus Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana). They finished second in a group featuring Haiti, Jamaica and group winners Costa Rica to progress to the fifth and final qualifying round.
In the fifth round they had to finish in the top three to qualify for the World Cup or fourth to enter into a play-off. After nine of the ten games had been played they found themselves fourth with Mexico and Costa Rica having already qualified and Trinidad and Tobago knocked out. After 87 minutes of their final match with Costa Rica, they were level at 1-1 but heading out with Honduras and the USA both above them. Having gone 1-0 down, a controversial equaliser was given to Gabriel Torres despite having not crossed the line. On 88 minutes, defender Roman Torres wrote his name into Panamanian history when he smashed the winner past goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton sending his country into third place and booking a ticket to Russia.
Five of the Panama team called up for recent friendlies against Wales and Iran currently ply their trade in Europe. Goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, who has 128 caps, plays in Romania with Dinamo Bucuresti. Defender Erick Davis is at Slovakian top flight side Dunajska Streda. Midfielder Ricardo Avila is with the reserves of Belgian side KAA Gent. Attacker Ismael Diaz is in the Spanish third tier with Deportivo Fabril, the reserve side of Deportivo la Coruna, whilst Gabriel Torres, a former Manchester United trialist, is in Switzerland with Lausanne-Sport. Panama’s top scorers with 43 goals are Peru-based Luis Tejada and Blas Perez of Guatemalan side Municipal.
Head coach Hernan Dario Gomez is one Panamanian who has faced England before at a World Cup. He was manager of the Columbia side that finished third in their group at France 1998, behind second-placed England, but ahead of Tunisia. He also took Ecuador to the tournament in Japan and South Korea back in 2002.

The June 24th clash in Novgorod will be the first time England have ever played Panama.
Whilst defeat to Belgium would not be a disaster (assuming things have gone to plan in the other two games), losing to Tunisia would be a massive blow, whilst picking up no points against Panama would prove to be a disaster of Icelandic proportions. San Marino have managed to dispel the old cliché “there are no easy games in football”, but truly poor teams do not qualify for World Cups meaning Gareth Southgate’s side will have to stay professional to ensure there are no early upsets. A top two finish will set up a last 16 tie against Poland, Japan, Colombia or Senegal. The minimum that should be expected from this tournament.

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Fan Videos

Video | The Sunderland Sh*tter caught in the act.



Poogate. What actually happened?

A video has surfaced of the Sunderland fan reported to have dropped his trousers and have a poo under his seat during Sunderlands game against Reading The young supporter was kicked out of the Stadium of Shite, sorry Light, after supporters parted like the Red Sea in order to order to avoid the sight and smell of their fellow supporter’s bum truffles nestling under his seat.

The story first broke on Saturday night as an onlooker posted this image, accompanied by an explanation of what was going down.



The fan wrote.

“100% Happened. Kid was two rows back from me. He was absolutely blitzed, may well have had more than just booze looking at his eyes. He was in a bad way a few games ago as well, sleep in his seat.

Today he dropped his pants to his ankles, squatted and curled one out. Everyone around him parted. he pulled his pants back up and just stood there totally spaced out! Then the coppers came up and took him away. A bairn in the row in front saw the shit and started gagging before spewing into our row!”

On top of watching their side crash to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Reading, fans sitting close by were left “gagging” as the young lad, seemingly without a care in the world, just sat there and continued to watch the game, which the video seems to confirm.

Another fan got in touch to tell us “It’s the second game in a row he’s been spaced out and arrested, last week he fell asleep during the game and was falling all over the place. He was a right mess. A young child near us started being sick, and there was a few full grown men that weren’t far away from doing the same.”

By the sounds of it, this lad had had more than a few sherbets, and I’d be very surprised if he was back next week. Even if he didn’t have his ticket taken away, you’d have to have some stones to return after causing so much uproar.

Certainly won’t be welcomed back with open arms.

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