Friday, 26 April 2013

Why United's Title Procession is bad news for Wigan

Manchester United were able to reclaim the Premier League title this season with the minimum of fuss, easily seeing off the underwhelming challenge from last year's champions, Manchester City.

It has been a disappointing campaign in general for City, but they have a chance to redeem themselves somewhat when they tackle unfancied Wigan in the FA Cup final - and the Latics must surely be bracing themselves for an onslaught from a side desperate to prove they have what it takes to bounce back from this season's woes.

City were expected to build on last season's dramatic final-day league triumph by at least pushing United all the way for the top domestic prize this year, but their bid to defend the title fell way short and their campaign has petered out dismally in recent weeks.

Boss, Roberto Mancini, has bemoaned a lack of major summer signings as the main reason why their season has largely failed and, in particular, United being able to land Robin van Persie from Arsenal ahead of them, proved pivotal in the end.

However, City have shown glimpses of their old selves and their recent performances in wins over United at Old Trafford and against Chelsea in the Cup semi-final proved, on their day, they remain an outstanding side with some truly world-class talent in their ranks.

And, considering how the season has gone so far, that is why the Latics should be worried ahead of the Wembley showdown on May 11.

City simply must bring the FA Cup back to the Etihad for the second time in three years to salvage something from a season that has failed to live up to expectations.

Their woeful Champions League campaign, when they again failed to get past the group stage, coupled with their league disappointment, means an unthinkable defeat against huge outsiders in the FA Cup odds, Wigan, would render 2012-13 as a total disaster.

Wigan can offer some resistance in the final but, with City desperate to finish a poor season on a high, a convincing triumph for Roberto Mancini's men is expected.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Moyes doubts top four chances

Everton manager David Moyes has admitted his side’s chances of finishing in the top four are now all but over following Saturday’s defeat to Sunderland.
After a brilliant start to the campaign, the Toffees have struggled for results in recent months and the defeat at the Stadium of Light means they have now won just once in their last four league outings.
The defeat on Wearside has left them sitting sixth in the table, six points behind Chelsea with just four games left and with both Liverpool and the Blues still to come, it now looks highly unlikely that they will finish in the top four.
This will be even more disappointing to Toffees fans as with him yet to sign a new contract, it looks like this could be the final year with Moyes at the helm, while the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines being rumoured to be on their way out of Goodison Park in the summer.
The Scot has been on Merseyside since 2002 and his achievements in turning Everton from relegation candidates to European contenders have not gone unnoticed, with him recently being linked with moves to both Chelsea and Schalke.
The 49-year-old is yet to make a decision on his career, but admits his side’s chances of finishing in the top four this time around are probably now all but over.
"I don't think we can qualify now," Moyes admitted. "We had to keep winning and keep on going, and even if we did keep on winning we would still have been outsiders.
"This defeat means we have to put an end to all that.
"We can just keep winning games and who knows. We will try and finish in a Europa League position," he added.
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Friday, 12 April 2013

United Continue FFP Preparation Strategy

Manchester United have joined rivals, Arsenal, in preparing for new Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations after agreeing a deal to sell the naming rights of their training ground for a whopping £120m.

The deal breaks down to a £15m, eight-year agreement with current shirt sponsor AON to display the insurance firm’s name on training kits, pre-season tour campaigns and the name of United’s Carrington training facility.

For the pundits on Betfair, the move is seen as a clear effort to increase revenue streams before FFP kicks in, for United may struggle to live within their means unless more income is generated through sponsorship and merchandising.

Much like Arsenal, the club lives off its own back and is aware the FFP rules could cut their spending if the books aren’t balanced. The Gunners run a tight ship, have paid off the cost of their £390m Emirates Stadium and, with over £3m of revenue coming in each home game, they are starting to make money in football.

They recently signed a new £150m sponsorship agreement with Emirates until 2019 – bagging them a cool £30m a year from this one source alone.

That kind of deal is what United have also begun to strike and with the fans reluctant to see Old Trafford change its name, Carrington is the next best thing.

Although United’s debt is theoretically safe – locked as it is with current owners, the Glazers – any addition to the club’s income makes strong financial sense and selling rights to training facilities and kits is an impressive move.

They were the first club to sell training kit sponsorship in August 2011 when they signed a contract with DHL worth £40m for the privilege and with Chevrolet primed to begin its main shirt sponsorship in 2014 United’s income is only set to increase.

Unlike Premier League rivals, Manchester City and Chelsea – who may struggle to cope with FFP when their owners cannot simply pump money into the club – United and Arsenal are doing the right thing in selling their assets for all they’re worth.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Rodgers Tips Suarez for Top Award

Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers, believes that Luis Suarez’s form this season has been good enough to see him earn the PFA Player of the Year award.

The Uruguayan has once again been pivotal for Liverpool this term and currently tops the Premier League’s scoring charts heading into the final weeks of the season.

His achievements have been made even more remarkable by the fact that his side have occasionally struggled this campaign and now look unlikely to finish the campaign in those all-important top four places.

This has led to further speculation among fans placing a bet on Premier League that he may be on the move in the summer, with Bayern Munich thought to be interested.

Being crowned the league’s best player would be a fitting end to his time at Anfield for a player who, despite occasionally finding himself in hot water, has always given everything for the Reds’ cause.

Gareth Bale is currently the favourite in the sports betting news to land the prize on April 28th but Rodgers believes Suarez should win the vote due to his outstanding contribution throughout the campaign. 

"He has a real determination and commitment to do well for Liverpool and that side of his game certainly puts him up there with the very best I've worked with,” he told Yahoo. 

"His league goals alone should put him in with a great shout but you also need to look at his consistency throughout the season that makes him arguably the best player. He will certainly be in the reckoning.

"There are other contenders of course; players like Gareth Bale have been outstanding for Tottenham for example, but I think that Luis' consistency and the impact he has had for us this season means that he would be my candidate to win.”