Why Rafa taking over as Spain national boss makes sense

Fernando Hierro has left the Spanish football federation and with it leaves the Spain job open for a new manager and beginning.

Rafa Benitez name has been linked and dismissed by many as nothing but paper talk. However, when you consider it logically, it makes sense.

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Spain have been horrendous in the last two World Cups since becoming champions of the world in 2010. Dumped out in the group stage in 2014 and embarrassingly losing to Russia in 2018.

Defensively they were shocking and in attack they were several lacking in cutting edge as they pass, pass, passed the ball around side to side seemingly for the sheer sake of it.

Their midfield maestro’s of Xavi and Iniesta are now gone and Cesc Fabregas won’t be around come the next World Cup and wasn’t even picked in the squad for Russia.

What Spain need is a new generation and with it a new style. Tiki-taka looks like yesterday’s style and boringly out of date. They also don’t have the right players to do it.

When you have Diego Costa up front then passing the ball around for fun is not going to get the best out of him. Going slightly more direct is just what the doctor ordered.

They have young players like Asensio who is full of pace and full of running. Iago Aspas is in a similar mould. They need a manager who will carry the transition from purely possession based football to effective football. Rafa Benitez could be the perfect fit.

He will build their team from back to front and make sure they are defensively sound first and foremost. He will also pick and develop the players that will do the best job to do the end goal; win.

Rafa also has an incredible record in cup tournaments. Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup & Italian Cup are on his CV. He knows how to win. Plus he is obviously one other thing. Spanish.

Not just Spanish but a boy from Madrid who would be nothing but proud to take control of his country. He cried tears of joy when appointed Real Madrid manager. He would do the same as Spanish national coach.

As a Toon fan, I clearly don’t want it to happen right now as he has a job to do building my club into something special. But if Mike Ashley messes him around over the next few weeks of the transfer window, it could be an offer to good to turn down.

Let’s hope Spain don’t ask…

Ginger Pirlo

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Belgium should be sending Japan a thank you note.

When Japan left the World Cup they left a thank you note, in Russian I believe, for their hosts which received worldwide acclaim.

If Belgium end up lifting the World Cup trophy next week, then they should be sending their own thank you note to Japan.

In their last 16 match, the Japanese raced into a two goal lead which came from them taking advantage of Belgium’s lopsided system.

Martinez has insisted on playing a 3-4-3 formation with a right back on the right of a midfield four and an attacking winger on the left.

In theory, some people would say this gives you the best of both worlds. However, in reality it can also give you neither.

The Japanese took advantage of what seemed a blatant weakness in the Belgium fortress, in behind the fake wing backs.

Vast gaps were there for all to see and Japan took advantage like the rebel alliance blasting a couple of shots down a massive hole in the Death Star.

A clear weakness overlooked that would inevitably be there downfall to the right opponent. Luckily for Belgium, it was ‘only Japan’.

If that match played out like most anticipated and the Belgian red devils ran out 2-0 comfortable winners, then Martinez would very likely have stuck to his guns going into the Brazil game. As why would he change?

The 3-4-3 would no doubt have been absolutely demolished by the likes of Neymar and Willian, which would have made this quarter final a very different affair.

Not only would they have been weak without the ball but playing De Bruyne in a midfield two against the Brazilian three, would have also seen him stifled.

As it turns out, Martinez learned his lesson from Japan after a miracle comeback and plugged the gaps and free his biggest weapon.

Belgium were the clear better team last night and Martinez is being lauded a tactical master. Yet this Jedi may need to remember what has lead him to this moment.

When you consider how well they played in a 4-3-3 with his big hitters in better positions to play, you should be asking why he has insisted with the doomed 3-4-3 for his entire reign as Belgium boss.

Yet nobody will if they lift that trophy. It will all be forgotten. But I would be keen to stress to Martinez if I ever met him to insist he remembers the Japanese.

If it weren’t for them, Belgium could well be going home right now. I suggest Mr Martinez should be sending a thank you note of his own to Japan, perhaps in Russian would be apt.

Ginger Pirlo

Survival Sunday prediction

I am gonna look into my crystal ball and make a bold claim.

Now that the likes of Newcastle, Bournemouth are safe and I think Crystal Palace will comfortably stay up. This is what I think will happen in terms of the relegation battle:

Brighton and/or Huddersfield won’t get another point for the rest of the season. Their respected fixtures are quite honestly, rock hard (old term, thought I would use it) so will be stranded on 35 points. (I repeat at least one of them. maybe both)

Southampton will manage to get themselves a couple of wins and a draw in the coming weeks, most likely against Leicester away, Bournemouth at home and Swansea away. This would also put them on 35 points heading into Man City at home on the final day.

Now, Swansea are on 33 at the moment with Man City away, Chelsea at home and Bournemouth away. At best I think they can get a point or two from these games but it’s also likely they won’t get anything.

Then they have that Southampton game and given my prediction above, they will only draw this game at best and will be somewhere around the 35 point mark themselves heading into their final day showdown with Stoke (who I think will be already gone)

So, going into the last game of the season, we could have a situation where all four of these teams are sat on 35 points and we could have a goal difference decider on who gets dumped into the Championship. With all that being said here is who I think it will be:

15th – Swansea
16th – Huddersfield
17th – Southampton
18th – Brighton
19th – Stoke
20th – West Brom

Saints survive an onslaught from Man City and keep the score down to stay up on goal difference.

Sorry Brighton, but just like when you blew the Championship title last season, it could be last day heartbreak for you again from a seemingly comfortable position.

@TheGingerPirlo_

Brighton

Jose Mourinho is no longer The Special One. He is The Dull One

One thing that must be acknowledged is the Jose Mourinho we all knew and some fell in love with is gone.

The slick, arrogant, hungry young manager is long gone and is now a completely different animal. He is now a negative, dull, tired old shell of his former self.

The tipping point seems to be the Chelsea league win a few years ago. Even when he came back to Chelsea he looked tired and dull in his opening press conference.

He won the league in his 2nd season back so no one seemed to make much of this difference in persona. With this achievement, he seemed to be completely contempt and any remaining hunger left him completely.

An unbelievable relegation battle followed and inevitable sacking. He got the Man Utd job off reputation alone and in his first season finished outside the top 4.

This was covered up by the Europa League and League Cup triumphs which are not major trophies. Not in Man Utd’s world anyway.

He has been given an unreal amount of money to spend on players who at this stage have got his team results despite his overly negative and defensive tactics.

This Sevilla two-legged performances and results are showing his lack of quality as a manager. The 2nd leg last night was absolutely diabolical. Truly awful.

The team were suffocated through fear of losing an away goal. This comes from him. Nobody else. If you let the players go out by themselves, they would look to smash Sevilla.

To put this result into perspective, Leicester City beat this Sevilla team 2-0 this time last year to dump them out. This £400m Man Utd team never looked liked doing the same.

Being 2nd in the league this season is no achievement when you consider the money spent and being 16 points behind Man City without any realistic title challenge.

Jose Mourinho should be developing into a different type of manager at this stage. He is older but is he any wiser? Perhaps he is a different type of manager…an average one. A dull one.

So maybe that’s just it. The Special One has become The Dull One.

@ToonBano

 

Mitro is on fire and he is making Rafa look ridiculous

Just a word on the Mitrovic situation.

Mitro has not been given one league start all season. The one game he did start was in the League cup and scored. He mugged off Joe Hart in a Premier League game whilst scoring, elbowed someone and seemed shunned for it.

On fire

His (basically) replacement Joselu has been nothing short of terrible in front of goal this season. He had a 7 game spell where he started each game but scored in none of them. Yet Mitro was not brought in to end this nonsense.

Joselu has only 4 goals to his name in 20 appearances. One of those goals was the ridiculous ricochet against Liverpool and two were open goals. Mitro was only two goals behind despite no starts and a handful of appearances which were mainly 10 to 20-minute spell at the end of games.

Mitrovic has gone to Fulham on loan and has already bagged 5 in 4 games. He is actually Newcastle Utd’s top scorer with 7 goals…

Sheff Utd boss said the following after he tore their defence apart, “Mitro is too good for the Championship and should be playing for Newcastle. He is a £15m Premier League striker who is going to the World Cup.”

Whereas Joselu hasn’t started any of Newcastle’s last four games or had many minutes off the bench since ironically the 31st January, deadline day, where he missed a penalty and missed a massive chance against Burnley to seal all three points. We ended up dropping two points that day.

Rafa Benitez may be a lot of things. He may have a lot of trophies. But if Newcastle Utd are relegated this season by a point or two, than Rafa Benitez will be 100% responsible. 100%.

I want to make it this perfectly clear so everyone understands this.

It won’t be Ashley’s fault. It won’t be Lee Charnley. It won’t be Amanda Staveley. It will be Rafa’s. Ashley gave Rafa a shorthand this season, no doubt about it. Rafa moaned every week at the lack of quality to choose from and rightly so.

Useless

However, he has refused to select arguably our best all-round striker for the entire campaign, who no doubt would have scored and created more goals than Joselu and would have put more points on the board to have kept this club up.

Make no mistake about it. Don’t be confused. This is pretty much a cast iron fact

when you look at the young Serbian tearing up the Championship and dragging his country to the World Cup.

Rafa Benitez hasn’t properly explained his decision as to why he has made our clubs job a whole lot harder in trying to stay in this league. Quotes of ‘not working hard enough in training’ or ‘he doesn’t fit tactically’ are weak explanations to say the least.

Especially when you consider just how dire Joselu was and still is with his

supposed extra ability to run more in training and tactical efficiency. Plus speaking of tactics, I could go on about how Rafa’s over cautious approach in home games has also cost us this season but that’s for another day.

Bye and good luck

If we go down. Rafa will walk off into the sunset to a top job and restart a project for himself somewhere else, whereas it will be the Newcastle fans who are left to pick up and deal with the unimaginable sh**house he left behind.

Explaining himself isn’t even the start of it.

Mitro’s on fire and Newcastle don’t have a pot to p**s in. Work that one out. And people say beggars can’t be choosers.

Weird transfer XI – Some shockers in here!

There have been some weird transfers over the years. Some that just didn’t make sense at the time and seem even worse when you look back. Here are some that stick in my mind: 

GK: Edwin Van Der Sar – Juve to Fulham.

The whole thing was just weird. Clearly too good for them. Eventually made his move to Man U and won it all. What’s unreal is he was at Fulham for FOUR years. What a total waste of time.

RB: Mat Debuchy – Newcastle to Arsenal.

May not seem that weird but as a Newcastle fan, we couldn’t believe Arsene Wenger paid us twice as much as we did for him, to take him off our hands. He’s done nothing at Arsenal and none of us are surprised. Weird.

(I also have to mention Julian Faubert from West Ham to Real Madrid on loan. Very strange one)

CB: Laurent Blanc – Inter to Man Utd. 

Seriously this one was weird for the entire time he was there. He was clearly too old and contributed to Fergie’s worst ever season in the Premier League. So ridiculous.

CB: David Luiz – PSG to Chelsea.

This one was weird right? No-one could understand it. He then helped them win the league. So weird. He’s now not in the team. Not so weird.

LB: Mikael Silvestre – Man Utd to Arsenal.

I found this one just very strange. I couldn’t get my head around it. Fergie never sells to a rival, so he must have been past it, but he wasn’t that bad, which made it all just weird.

CM: Thomas Gravesen – Everton to Real Madrid.

Has there ever been a weirder permanent transfer? He actually played as well. Twilight zone.

CM: Edgar Davids – rocks up at Barnet.

This wasn’t a transfer and he was player-manager (kind of) but come on. Edgar Davids playing for Barnet? Weirdo.

CM: Ivan Campo – Real Madrid to Bolton.

I could have put Fernando Hierro in this team or even Djorkaeff but Campo was still in his prime and had only recently stopped polishing his Champions League medal. He would spend six years at Bolton. Six.

FW: Nicolas Anelka – Fenerbahce to Bolton.

PSG, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Man City, Fenerbahce, Bolton, Chelsea, wait what? If Anelka were to go for a job interview, he would need to explain the gap in his CV for that 2-year spell at Bolton Wanderers. How? Why?

FW: George Weah – Milan to Chelsea.

This was just weird. It’s like it never happened but it did and I for one can’t forget it. George Weah was a mirage, a mysterious idol to be watched only on Football Italia, winning World player of the year. Not struggling to play up front with Chris Sutton. No. No. No.

FW: Ian Rush & John Barnes – Leeds & Liverpool to Newcastle.

First off, these are two players so technically makes my XI a 12 man team. However, they came at the same time and given their ability at their respective ages, they just about make up one players worth.

As a Toon fan, I watched Kevin Keegan sign Ferdinand & Ginola in 1995 and almost won us the league. I then saw Kenny Dalglish sell them both in 1997 & replace them with over the hill Ian Rush & John Barnes. What? I know they say ‘sign what you know’ but this destroyed our team and put the club back for years. Perhaps forever. Why Kenny? Why? Utter nonsense.

Follow me on Twitter @ToonBano

Mike Ashley: Lies, Damned Lies and Spending Statistics

Now that the January window has slammed shut, let’s take a look at how much clubs spent on their squad, and also net spend, for the season as a whole.
Net spend 2018

Newcastle Utd are the second lowest spenders with only £36 million being spent on permanent transfers. Only Bournemouth have spent less with £30 million.

Now, you could put the Cherries spend into context, in that they sold nobody and gave Defoe a massive contract & signing on fees for his ‘free’ transfer, so could be seen as more than £30m, but there we are.

If you look at Net spend (everyone’s fave) then there are 6 clubs below Newcastle in the “table” who themselves had a net spend of a putrid £11m.

They are Liverpool, West Ham, Burnley, Arsenal, Swansea and Southampton. Now, let’s look into that for all of two seconds.

Coutinho £146m, Ayew £18m, Michael Keane £30m, Oxlade-Chamberlain £35m, Sigurdsson £45m and Van Dijk £75m.

 

 

Each of those clubs had at least one major sale which drove down their net spend massively. Some had more than one.

Whereas Newcastle didn’t. They sold their prized assets last season after relegation. The only option they had this year was to spend.

To put this into some context, if you look at fellow promoted teams in Brighton & Huddersfield who also have no prizes assets to sell.

They spent £57m & £49m respectively, with total net spends of £57m & £43.5m. This places them 5th and 8th in the net spend table.

This is where you would expect them to be given their lack of selling power. Brighton sold nobody for eg.

All of this means one thing. Mike Ashley has drastically under-funded his business that he is supposedly looking to sell.

To the point that if NUFC were to go down, it will be worth half as much and he will have cost himself millions.

He will also be unable to receive the total amount he has invested in his time at the club. Around £250m. So he will have lost money if and when he sells.

In the last two occasions that NUFC have gone down, he has been obliged to pump in his own money into the club to keep it running. The only time he has ever spent something himself.

“Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has loaned the club £33m to help it cope with the effects of relegation. … The £33m loan has been made available through St James Holdings Ltd” – The Chronicle, 6th Jan 2017 

So even if he doesn’t sell, he will cost himself millions by needing to spend to keep it running and there is no guarantee the club will bounce back up.

So to conclude, not only will relegation mean the business he is trying to sell will be worth half as much than if it were in the Premier League, but it will cost him a fortune to keep it running…again.

People say Mike Ashley is a sound businessman. They base this totally on his supposed wealth and Sports Direct.

When it comes to running a football club, he is arguably the dumbest owner in football history.

At least when other idiots make mistakes, they sell up and leave. The bloke has been here for 11 years!!!

He has learned nothing over that time. Nothing. What kind of a moron would act the way he acts over and over again? How dumb can you be?

For the record, Mike Ashley has an average spend of £4.5million per season on the team. Which is never going to be successful. Ever. Talk about running something on the cheap.

He said if he couldn’t find a buyer before Christmas he would invest in January, he lied. He spent nothing.

He said he turned PCP’s £250m offer for the club down because he has other people willing to pay the £350m. He lied, he doesn’t.

The man is a compulsive liar and has been proved to be so in court when Keegan took him to trial.

Yet, amongst all of this, his chosen mouthpiece in Sky still hire people like Craig Bellamy, Simon Jordan and Dennis Wise, plus others, to tell the viewing nation he has done a great job and that they really like him.

It’s a disgrace that this man isn’t known throughout the world of football for exactly what he is. A liar and a terrible football club owner. One of the worst, if not THE worst in history.

Follow me on Twitter @ToonBano