We’re here again, another International tournament and another longing heart full of hope that this time it could be different. Or could it?
Patient fans have enjoyed a very similar experience to years gone by. There is no real settled formation to speak of, nor a settled team sheet. All very familiar territory for England fans.
Any Roy Hodgson watchers taking an interest in England’s last warm-up game against Portugal will have noticed him sitting head in hands, looking quizzically throughout proceedings – perhaps wondering exactly what he’d got himself into.
Those looking Euro 2016 betting tips for inspiration won’t find much guidance as to England’s fortunes, with most bookies suggesting they only enjoy favourite status because of the amount of money staked on them locally (i.e. in England). Without that weight of bets they would likely be eighth, rather than fourth, favourites.
Some of the enhanced odds around the Euros (and England in particular – 33/1 to win the competition anyone?) show that bookies are not scared to lose money on an England win, safe in the knowledge it is unlikely to actually happen.
If you are thinking of having a bet you could do worse than use KickOff’s betting predictions and accumulator builder, The Acca Smacker, which incorporates a very handy accumulator calculator and odds comparison.
To coin business jargon, the EPL is the kind of mass-produced product that is driven on overseas manufacturing and international investment. As a result of this, home-grown talent is often overlooked, leaving broken-hearted youngsters and a dearth of British players in the top flight of English football.
Incredibly, the percentage of club-trained players in the EPL has reached a brand new low, with just 11.7% of top flight players having graduated from their academy in 2015. This is down from 13.8% last year, and it means that fewer British youngsters are making the grade than ever before.
There was a time when David Moyes was one of the most respected and sought after coaches in the UK. Heralded for consistently leading Everton into the top seven of the EPL despite boasting a far lower net spend than clubs such as Stoke, Sunderland and Newcastle, Moyes even reached the FA Cup final in 2009 and became the neutrals favourite coach.
The decline of Moyes and why England needs him
Moyes’ stock has fallen lower than that of a Volkswagen share in recent times, however, after failing to last longer than eight months as manager of Manchester United and being sacked after less than a year at Real Sociedad in Spain. In his final few months in Spain, Moyes bore the same blank expression that haunted his time at Old Trafford, as he looked tactically one-dimensional and entirely devoid of ideas once his team began to decline.
You have to admire the BBC. While Sky Sports waste their time hiring insightful Champions League winners such as Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher to lead their punditry teams, our favourite terrestrial television channel employ just about anyone who has ever kicked a ball. While this equal opportunities approach to hiring pundits may please some (chiefly Danny Mills, Jermaine Jenas and Robbie Savage), it has certainly irked the beleaguered Chelsea skipper John Terry.
Is Terry in the Right?
While Terry should have other things on his mind given Chelsea’s woeful form this season, last week he launched a scathing attack on supposedly average pundits (namely Savage) who had never achieved anything as players. So while Terry is apparently happy to take criticism from ‘winners’ such as Neville, Carragher and Rio Ferdinand, he draws the line at those with sharp tongues and decidedly sparse trophy cabinets.
While Blackburn’s catastrophic defence of their EPL title in the 1995-96 season was so bad it made you wonder how on earth they won the championship in the first place, at least they could blame a limited squad and the lack of a ‘special’ manager. Chelsea has no such excuses, thanks to their billionaire owner and the presence of a self-proclaimed managerial genius with more cups than an Ikea store.
With this in mind, the Blues’ implosion has been startling this season. And it may yet force Jose Mourinho to cut his losses and continue his footballing journey across Europe.
Now that the eternally optimistic Brendan Rodgers has finally been ousted by the Liverpool board, critics can finally resume their verbal assault on the culture of hiring and firing managers in the modern game. Nothing is likely to change the contemporary trend for scapegoating managers. So we may as well accept our fate, open a bag of popcorn and wager on who will be the next to lose their job.
While this may sound harsh, it at least allows us to profit out of sadness! Here are our top candidates for the next managerial firing:
Steve McClaren, Newcastle United
Another eternal optimist, former England coach Steve McClaren may never fully escape the iconic ‘wally with a brolly’ tag he earned during the ill-fated 3-2 defeat at home to Croatia when England coach. If he is ever to achieve this, he will at least need to enjoy some success with an EPL club, although this looks unlikely in his current role at Newcastle. Rooted to the bottom of the league and shell-shocked by the recent 6-1 thrashing at the Etihad, his position is fast becoming untenable.