Archive for September 2018

Gilberto Silva backs Theo Walcott to succeed at Everton

Arsenal legend Gilberto Silva has backed Theo Walcott to succeed at Everton with the added responsibility. The England international is currently embarking on his first full season with the Toffees after 12 years with the Gunners and Silva believes the fresh challenge should help him become a better footballer.

Speaking to Carlos Tevez, he said: “When I saw Theo was going to Everton I thought it was a really positive move for him. It is a chance for him to learn new skills and push himself in a different way. He has a big responsibility in the team, which I think will motivate him. And he has the ability and character to be one of Everton’s key players. After so long at one club it is good to find a new challenge. Theo initially had to adapt to a new environment but he is playing with some very good players and I think he can develop even further as a footballer.”

Walcott was impressive for the Toffees after joining them during the halfway stage of the previous campaign and he ended the season with three goals and three assists from 13 appearances. With the new season, Walcott did not have the best of games against Wolverhampton Wanderers to start with but he managed to make a mark against Southampton last weekend where he contributed a goal and an assist in a 2-1 triumph.

Aside from Walcott, summer signing Richarlison has also perfectly adjusted to the surroundings at Goodison Park and he has already contributed three goals from just two appearances for the club. The Merseyside outfit are presently with four points from their opening two games but they have the opportunity to better their tally in the coming weeks whereby they have an easier schedule compared to their near rivals. Everton do not face a top-six opposition until the visit of Arsenal on September 29.

Qarabag Overcome Moldovan Outfit Sheriff FC to Reach Europa League Group Stages

Qarabag were available to secure passage into the group stages of the Europa League after overcoming Moldova outfit Sheriff FC in a recent match. Qarabag were able to secure a 3-0 victory after having lost the first leg 1-0. Since it was a close fought home victory, Sheriff were expecting a much bigger opponent in this match. As it stands,Qarabag were able to do a professional job as they maintained most of the ball throughout the 90 minutes. The hosts were unable to create a lot of chances and had only two shots on target despite having 61% of the ball.

However, there was a huge setback for the Moldovan team when Maksim Medvedev(of Celtic fame) was able to open the scoring after just nine minutes into the match. Another blow came in the form of a goal from WildedonaldGuerrier just three minutes before the break.

This decisive blow helped set up the game for Qarabag, who ensured passage into the group stages of the competition with a third and decisive goal from Filip Ozobic. After managing to complete all of the goalscoring duties inside the hour, Qarabag were able to complete the professional job and reach the group stages of the Europa league. They have been alongside top teams like Chelsea to make it extremely hard forQarabag to think about getting out of the group stages.

Once again, it is a major blow for Moldovan football considering that the nation was eagerly expecting Sheriff FC to reach the latter stages. As it stands, the nation will be able to build on the success achieved by Sheriff in the forthcoming Europa League campaigns. Sheriff FC have been the best Moldovan team by a significant margin after a nine point advantage over second placed Milsami with the campaign midway into the schedule.

Paraguay Appoint Former Mexico Manager Osorio

Paraguay have been able to bring in former Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio as the new boss to replaceFrancisco Arce. Paraguay have been without a manager for the last few months and the national team has not been in a hurry to bring in a replacement forArce. Now, they have bought inOsorio with the national team is set to take part in the upcoming Copa America and World Cup qualification tournaments.Osorio was in demand with a number of countries keen to have him as the new coach. Since he was without any commitments after leaving Mexico at the end of the World Cup, a lot of national teams were interested in having him.

Mexico were knocked out of the World Cup at the round of 16 by Branislav Ivanovic’s Serbia side, but there were some impressive performances from the American outfit at the World Cup 2018. Mexico were able to get a victory over then-defending champions Germany in the group matches. This was followed by a victory over South Korea. However, they were unable to get past Brazil – despite a valiant performance – in the round of 16. Even thoughOsorio was unable to prevent Mexico from stretching their inability to reach the quarter-finals for a seventh straight tournament, he has been able to impress a lot with his ability to get the best out of teams.

It was not a huge surprise thatOsorio ended his Mexican role with the best victory percentage of any other coach prior to him. He was also able to get the fifth highest wins as a Mexico manager.Osorio is well known for coaching clubs in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and the United States. Paraguay have been a major disappointment on the international front and it is expected that the arrival ofOsorio will bring some joy.

Leeds United sign Barry Douglas from Wolverhampton Wanderers

Leeds United have agreed on a package worth £5m to acquire the signature of Barry Douglas from Wolverhampton Wanderers this summer. The 28-year-old had an excellent 2017/18 season with the Wolves where he contributed with 14 goals and five assists but he has now chosen to join the Peacocks after being deemed surplus to requirements.

Speaking after sealing the move, he said: “It’s exciting times and I am looking forward to getting going now and meeting the squad. The move happened quite fast, Wolves took the decision to let me know I wasn’t going to be part of their plans which was hard to take at first, but life goes on. I then found out about the interest from Leeds and the project here is similar to what was going on at Wolves last year and it is very exciting, so that is what made the decision for me to come here.”

Douglas becomes Leeds’ first permanent signing of the ongoing transfer window with the club having previously recruited Danny Welbeck, Jamal Blackman and Lewis Baker from Chelsea on a season-long loan deals. New manager Marco Bielsa has been tasked with the job of ending Leeds’ long wait for a return to the top but much of the effort is expected to lie on the squad players who have not been consistent enough to push for promotion.

On the other hand, Wolves seem to be going on the right track with their summer business which has included several high-profile signings including Portuguese duo Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio. As such, anything less than a mid-table finish would be considered as a disappointment and it will be interesting to see how the Championship holders make the start on their top-flight comeback. Wolves welcome Everton at the Molineux for their Premier League opener on August 11.

Kevin Muscat Expats More Improvement from Melbourne Victory Going Forward

Melbourne Victory manager Kevin Muscat says that he is slowly and steadily building the club towards retaining the title that they won last season. Melbourne Victory were able to overcome Newcastle in the play-off final to win the league last season. This was a tremendous achievement from the club which was not expected to challenge for major honours until the next few years. Yet, the improvement made byMuscat has been quite tremendous and this has raised expectations ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.

The manager told Northern Touch that has tried to tone down those expectations by claiming that it may take a while before Melbourne Victory start to be regular title contenders.

For the time being, focuses on building the team from last season. The club has made some crucial signings in the window, but they have been unavailable for a number of reasons. For example, Swedish striker Ola Toivonen will not be linking up with Victory until the middle of September. Honda has been brought in during the summer but he is also not expected to feature in the first few friendly matches as a precautionary measure. One of the great advantages of Victory is the availability of a strong attacking talent, which includes the likes of James Troisi and KostaBarbarouses. Muscat has certainly not ruled out the possibility of bringing another player.

“It was one of those days, the conditions weren’t great and the pitch was pretty heavy because of the rain but it was a worthwhile hit-out for the boys. A lot of players weren’t available and we tried quite a few different things with our structure. We were hoping to get a little bit more out of Georg but with the pitch being so heavy with the rain we erred on the side of caution.We will have some more bodies arriving in the next week or so,” said Muscat.

Kelechi Iheanacho aiming for strong season with Leicester City

Nigeria international Kelechi Iheanacho has said that he is looking forward to a strong season with Leicester City. The 21-year-old joined the Foxes from Manchester City in a deal worth £25m last summer but he failed to live up to his expectations with just three goals scored across all competitions.

As a result, the striker is keen to make amends during the 2018/19 campaign whilst avoiding any injuries during the process, he said: “I would like to be part of it and am looking forward to it. I think it is going to be a big season for the whole team and we are in good shape now. Last season it was difficult coming back from injury and trying to get the same fitness level. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want, but it is looking good this season. I am injury-free and will keep working hard and am looking forward to the games.”

Iheanacho started the Premier League opener against Manchester United on Friday night, along side Thomas Vermaelen, but he could not make much of an impact as the Foxes succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. Nevertheless, he can expect more gametime as the season goes on, considering the Foxes have parted ways with both Islam Slimani and Leonardo Ulloa this month.

As things stand, Iheanacho is supposedly the Foxes’ second-choice striker behind Jamie Vardy but during the backend of the United game, Puelhappened to pair them alongside each other. Aside from Vardy, the Nigerian faces additional competition from Japanese ace Shinji Okazaki, who has remained a quality marksman in the ranks despite in and out of the starting lineup.

Leicester witnessed plenty of positives during the United game where they had the bulk of the possession and attempts on goal. Their next Premier League fixture comes against newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers at home where they should fancy opening their points tally.

Tim Cahill rules out return to A-League

Australian great Tim Cahill has ruled out the prospect of returning to A-League for another stint. The 38-year-old is presently a free agent after the expiry of his contract with Millwall and he is said to be eyeing a move to the United States, where he would like to participate in either the Major League Soccer or the second-tier United Soccer League.

Speaking to reporters, Cahill admitted that he would like to reside in the United States for the remainder of his playing career and this should rule out a potential return to the Australian A-League. He added that he is presently undergoing his coaching badges (alongside Arsenal legend Petr Cech) but he would nevertheless prefer playing domestically in the United States.

He said: “I have heard whispers about [returning to] the A-League. I will be open and honest, my experience was fantastic, my debut [for Melbourne City in 2016] is something I will never forget. To live in America and play in the A-League is impossible so respectfully I will draw a line in the sand about me coming home. That should stop any whispers. I will go to the UK for my UEFA [coaching] license, then I will open a door for offers to play football, I’ve not really entertained anyone yet. Domestic, there could be opportunity but I have time to decide.”

The Sydney-born striker initially shot to fame with Millwall in 2014 where he was influential towards the side reaching the FA Cup final versus Manchester United. Thereafter, he spent eight successful seasons with Everton before testing himself in different leagues across the world. Among those, Cahill enjoyed a three-year stint with New York Red Bulls where he contributed 16 goals but it will be interesting to see whether he can attract renewed interest with his trailing age.

Should an MLS not come forward for his signature, Cahill could mirror the career path of Chelsea great Didier Drogba and head to the United Soccer League. Drogba has spent the past 15 months with second-tier side Phoenix Rising and Cahill may ideally succeed the Ivorian at the club upon his retirement this year.

Lyon president confirms club approached Chelsea regarding Nabil Fekir

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has confirmed Les Gones had offered Chelsea the opportunity to sign Nabil Fekir during the summer transfer window. The France international was initially fancied to make the move to Liverpool after both sides agreed on a deal worth £53m to finalise his proposed transfer.

Thereafter, the midfielder underwent the necessary formalities and even shot an introductory video, but the Reds eventually pulled out the deal after having concerns over his troublesome right knee, with Jamie Carragher reporting to Sky that Liverpool had injury concerns.

Speaking to L’Equipe, Aulas has now confirmed that Les Gones were more than prepared for their skipper’s exit but things did not pave the way as planned with Chelsea among those turning down the option to sign him.

He said: “In the beginning, when we thought about our summer transfer window and how to organise the future squad, we thought that he was practically gone. That’s why we have been able to adapt things. We spoke with Chelsea representatives, and they had no interest at all in him. From then on, we realised we could change our plans (as Nabil would stay).”

Following the World Cup, Fekir was offered an extended break from club football and he made his comeback against Strasbourg last weekend where he came on for the final quarter of the game. Speaking before that encounter, the Frenchman stressed that he has overcome his summer disappointment and his focus is entirely on Les Gones for the ongoing campaign.

Meanwhile, after dropping the interest in Fekir, Liverpool switched their focus towards recruiting XherdanShaqiri from Stoke City and they managed to do so with flying colours after triggering the relegation break clause on his contract. The Switzerland international has not yet made a Premier League start for the Reds but he is sure to make an impact as the season goes along.