Tag Archive: Danny Welbeck


It is clear that England have a shortage of top class strikers at the moment. With Wayne Rooney constantly struggling to re-produce his club form for the national team, and the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck lacking experience on the international stage; there is an opening for forwards to stake a claim to be a fixture in Roy Hodgson’s future squads.

The Likes of Grant Holt, anyone who follows Premier League news  will have seen that he bagged 15 League goals in his debut Premier League season last year for Norwich City, and Danny Graham at Swansea City have consistently been overlooked for a place in the Three Lions squad despite performing superbly for their Club sides.

But another man who has not as yet been given a look in is Gary Hooper at Celtic. The Harlow born front man has been nothing short of a goal machine for the Bhoys after making a £2.4 million move from Scunthorpe United back in 2010.

Since then, Hooper has netted over half a century goals for the Hoops and his manager, Neil Lennon, has urged England to give him a chance.  His blistering form has led to both Scotland and Wales making enquires over whether the 24 year old could be eligible to play for them, but such a turnover of goals should have caught the attention of Roy Hodgson.

Many sceptics will point to the fact that Hooper has been plying his trade at a relatively poor standard in the SPL,  but the ball still needs putting in the back of the net; no matter what level you play – and Hooper does that better than most.

What’s more, he has dealt with the pressure of playing for one of Britain’s biggest club’s in the shape of Celtic and thrived on the atmosphere. The prospect of playing for his country in front of big crowds is something that is unlikely to faze him and natural born goal scorers will always have that ability to create something out of nothing.

If you like a football bet , you will see that Hooper is the favourite to be the leading scorer in the SPL this campaign.

It would be great to see players rewarded for their league form, no matter who they play for, with international friendlies offering the perfect chance to try out new faces. In the shape of Hooper, England may have a predatory forward on their hands; but they will never know unless they give him a chance to prove his worth.

By Andrew Ward

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

England prepare to take on the Netherlands at Wembley tomorrow on the back of a hugely eventful last few weeks in the set-up of the national side.

Fabio Capello is no longer in charge after the Italian resigned following the Football Association’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy, with his impending court case for charges of racial abuse against Anton Ferdinand not due to take place until after Euro 2012.

So with no permanent captain and no permanent manager in place, Stuart Pearce has taken temporary charge while the FA decide who is the best choice to take the side to Poland & Ukraine this summer.

The Under-21 boss has picked a few fresh faces within the squad for tomorrow’s game, as the likes of Frazier Campbell and Tom Cleverley find themselves gaining international recognition.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After today’s games we will have our third international break of the season, despite the fact we are only at the beginning of November.

This two-week gap has been introduced primarily for the Euro 2012 play-offs to decide who grabs the remaining four places in Poland & Ukraine next summer.

For the rest of the European nations that are not participating in these matches, they have had to fill their open window with friendlies against one another.

However, while I would usually view these like the majority of the public (i.e. a waste of time and worrying about potential injuries to your club players) I am actually grateful for this upcoming fortnight.

This is all because of one petulant swipe by a particular Liverpudlian striker that has put a huge cloud over England’s chances in the finals next June.

Wayne Rooney‘s lash at defender Miodrag Dzudovic with around 15 minutes remaining in the 2-2 draw against Montenegro last month resulted in the maximum three-match ban handed to the Manchester United forward.

It means he will now miss the entire group stage of the competition, leaving Capello with a major headache in the absence of the country’s biggest attacking threat.

Now Capello needs to use next Saturday’s game at home to Spain and another trip to Wembley to face Sweden the following Tuesday to identify who will step up in Rooney’s absence.

There are plenty of options at the Italian’s disposal to try and find not only someone that can carry a similar goal threat to Rooney, but also one that can be placed in the adopted systems of the Three Lions‘ successful qualifying campaign.

Throughout those matches Capello used two particular systems – a 4-2-3-1 mainly used in trickier games and a 4-3-3 used in fixtures that the side were expected to win at a canter.

In both of those formations, Rooney was the pivotal threat on the front foot, with the likes of Ashley Young, Theo Walcott and Stewart Downing providing the ammunition and running support for the 26 year-old.

The main candidates will probably be given a chance in the upcoming friendlies when Capello names his squad this evening.

Current favourites include Aston Villa’s Darren Bent, who is more comfortable playing in those kind of formations instead of alongside someone up front, as well as Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe.

What makes these particular games even more ideal is the difference in quality between the two sides, both of which will be at the European Championships.

Whilst Sweden will be a team people will expect England to defeat, current World and European champions Spain will be a side the public will at best hope to get the better of.

They are the different types of teams that are set to await us at the group stage alone, let alone the difference in quality that should be expected the further we progress in the tournament.

Therefore both of Capello’s adopted systems post-World Cup can be tried and tested in the next ten days and find out who can fit in the system to help us first and foremost get into the knockout stages of next summer’s tournament.

So while many may view these friendlies as an inconvenient interruption to what is becoming another enthralling Premier League season, they could ultimately prove crucial to finding a long-term solution to relying on one extremely gifted but temperamentally unpredictable player.

What do you think? How important could these friendlies be to England’s chances at Euro 2012? Who is the player that should be Rooney’s replacement in the group stages? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

By Laurie Fitzgerald

England secured their place in Euro 2012 after getting the point they needed in Montenegro to top Group G.

Despite blowing a two-goal lead and seeing Wayne Rooney sent off for violent conduct, the draw was enough to see England reach their first European Championships since 2004.

Fabio Capello‘s men will be among the top bracket of teams that will feature in Poland and Ukraine next summer, but what are their chances up against the rest of Europe’s elite?

One point that instantly comes to mind is wondering how long Rooney’s suspension will last through the tournament.

The 26 year-old’s petulant kick out at defender Miodrag Dzudovic with 15 minutes remaining not only had ramifications for the rest of Friday night’s game.

It also meant that the Manchester United striker is banned for a minimum of one match in the finals in June, and with a violent conduct charge it could lead to UEFA giving him an extended ban.

Losing Rooney is a massive blow to England’s chances next summer as he is the talisman of the side, and if the suspension is for more than the opening game then Capello will have to look for a plan B to at least get through the group stages.

Throughout the qualifying campaign, Capello has adopted two types of formation that have served England relatively well, with the side remaining unbeaten throughout their eight encounters.

With either 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, the players have grown accustomed to the different strategy from the 4-4-2 heavily used by the Italian at the World Cup last year.

While that proved to be unsuccessful, England now have a Plan A and B in case teams figure them out, and this could be crucial during a major tournament.

What has also been encouraging is the development of other player from the more established names as the national side starts to develop towards the future.

Players like Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere have come to the fore in the absence of key figures such as Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand.

Other players including Scott Parker and Stewart Downing have matured over the past 12 months at International level.

With other youngsters coming through in Tom Cleverley, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker and Danny Welbeck, the future is beginning to look really bright.

But the short term question is whether or not England have a squad capable of coping with the likes of Spain, Germany and Holland in eight months time.

The simple truth of the matter is that as things stand, we are behind those teams and therefore the semi-finals has to be more of a realistic aim.

Now Capello has to figure out who is going to spearhead his attack going into the tournament in the absence of Rooney, and make sure his loss – whether it’s for one game or more – doesn’t have a major impact on our chances in Eastern Europe next year .

 So what do you think? How will England fare at Euro 2012? Will Rooney’s impending ban affect the team’s chances? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

It's been another campaign of ups and downs for Steve Bruce and Sunderland

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Sunderland’s miserable run continued on Saturday when they suffered a 3-2 defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion.

The latest loss means that it is now just one point from their last eight games, a horrendous set of results that sees them just five points clear of the relegation zone.

There’s never a good time to go on such a winless stretch of matches, but unfortunately for manager Steve Bruce, it is proving to be a case of de ja vu.

Last season, Bruce saw his side get off to an excellent start with wins over the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal putting them into contention for a European spot.

However, they ended up going on a horrific slump, failing to win a game in 14 matches. By the time they had arrested their slide, their chances of securing European football were over.

The former Wigan manager would have hoped that the squad had learnt their lessons from that disappointment. When they started this campaign in impressive fashion, there was a real chance to prove their character.

Positive results over the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United were built on with a stunning 3-0 win over champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in November.

With the side well placed to right the wrongs of last year, I wrote a piece on the Black Cats that focused on whether they could do this (https://shoutsfromthestands.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/will-sunderland-push-on-this-time/)

Everything was set up for Bruce: a stronger squad, better options throughout the team, more goals in the side, and a growing belief from the fans in the manager.

But things have not gone according to plan in 2011. In January, top scorer Darren Bent joined Premier League rivals Aston Villa in a shock £24 million deal.

Many would point to the England striker’s departure as the protagonist for the disappointment that’s followed; Sunderland haven’t won a game since the month he left.

Although his goals have been missed, it should be remembered that before his exit, Bent was struggling to get into the starting XI due to the fact that £13 million signing Asamoah Gyan and the on-loan Danny Welbeck had formed the better partnership up front.

What may be a bigger reason for just the seven goals in their last eight matches was the absence of Welbeck for several weeks due to a knee injury.

In fact, Bruce has been hugely unfortunate on the injury front; the 50 year-old has had to rush the likes of Welbeck, Lee Cattermole and Michael Turner back before they returned to full fitness.

Saturday’s game summed up their problems; John Mensah, Kieran Richardson and Anton Ferdinand all went off with knocks. Ferdinand was a substitute for the injured Mensah in the first-half.

To add to this, Titus Bramble’s impressive season has been hampered since the turn of the year with knee problems, while forward Frazier Campbell looked bright in the early weeks of the campaign before suffering a serious cruciate ligament injury.

So Bruce does have a valid excuse – but only to a point. In his two seasons in charge, he has had over £50 million of Ellis Short’s money to build a squad capable of sustaining a European push.

The American owner will be questioning how much has been spent wisely. Some of the money from the Bent transfer was used on bringing in Sulley Muntari on loan and Stephane Sessegnon for £6 million.

Neither have impressed, and with goals being leaked at the backed (21 in total during this wretched run) the money may have been better on a defender.

But hindsight would make us all great managers, and Bruce now has to prevent the players at his dosposal being drawn further into an unlikely relegation battle.

After their defeat to the Baggies, he said, “I think we’re already in it. I think anybody in the bottom ten is still there the way it is. There’s five or six games to play, and we have to get a couple of wins as soon as possible.”

While Bruce should find the necessary points to secure the Black Cats’ safety, it remains to be seen whether he will get the chance to make it third time lucky next season.

So what do you think? Has Bruce been unfortunate with injuries? Or does he have to take responsibility with the players for the recent slump? Let us know your thoughts.

By Tony Alvarez

A we are around midway into the January transfer window we decided to look into what types of players each club needs, I will also put forward my opinion of the ideal players to fulfil the roles and how likely it is to happen.

Earlier in the week I gave my thoughts on the teams whose names start between the letters A and L now is the turn of the rest of the teams in the Premier League.

To look back at who I thought the teams from A-L need to sign please click this link: https://shoutsfromthestands.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/who-does-your-club-need-in-the-transfer-window-a-l/

 

Manchester City- Having completed the signing of Dzeko I don’t think they really need any one.

I don’t think City will win the league but there is not many areas I think there squad could improve. If you do have the ambition of being a top top side which City clearly do, I don’t think Kolo Toure is up to the standard required any more. So possibly a new centre back is needed but I would wait until the summer.  For me the biggest hole in City’s team is Gareth Barry, he just doesn’t do much. City already have the players to replace him so I don’t think they need to bring anyone in to cover him.

Manchester United- Where do you start with United? For me there squad is one of the worst they have had in many years, but there top of the league and unbeaten. Personally I would add a winger Nani has been performing well but Giggs whilst still class isn’t consistent enough anymore and Park is not a winger so with Valencia’s injury they are one man short.

As Nani prefers playing on the right someone who is comfortable on the left is needed. I would look at Juan Mata from Valencia left footed and can play from the left but prefers to play centrally which will be ideal once Valencia is back to full fitness and would give United another option.

Newcastle- They have tried and it looks like failed to sign Seb Larsson which is a shame because I think it could have been a good move for them. Currently it seems like Barton is the only creative player in the side. Gutierrez runs with the ball well and Nolan adds goals but neither really create chances for others. I think they went for the ideal player in Larsson due to his crossing ability and the aerial prowess they have upfront with Carroll and Ameobi.

The press have linked Newcastle with Ziani from Wolfsburg who Is a creative player so Pardew is defiantly looking in the right places.

 I would also be tempted to look at another centre back Taylor, Coloccini and Williamson are all very similar and with it rumoured that Campbell wants out I would look at another slightly quicker centre back although I cant think of any one in particular at the moment.

 

 

Stoke- Stoke are a very good unit so they wont want to make too many changes, Pulis always looks for the same sort of player big strong lads unless he is looking for a winger then he goes for quick with decent delivery. At the time of writing this it appears the deal for Demba Ba is all but completed. He could be a good signing as much as I rate Fuller he just does not score enough goals but is a great player to bring on when you are in need, the same can be said of Walters. I think one more central midfielder could be added just to give the squad some depth, looking into the mould of players that Pulis usually goes for its hard to pick a name of who he could sign.

The press have reported both Stephen Ireland and Mark Noble have been looked at by Stoke. Ireland is not a typical Stoke player and if he played the way he has for Villa wouldn’t last five minutes. Noble is much better suited to Stoke’s game although he isn’t big in stature he is an all action box to box player with a bit of quality on the ball, Pulis has denied the link but I think this could be a good signing for Stoke.

 

 

Sunderland- My first step would be to try and sign Danny Welbeck permanently; I don’t think United would go for it though. The team is quite strong they have strikers all capable of scoring a mixture of players in the middle and a few different types of defender. Personally I think Sunderland need two players.

They don’t have a natural left sided midfielder which leaves them looking a bit unbalanced at times unless Zenden is playing and he is too old to be playing too many games on the spin.

For the left it was rumoured Bruce was interested in Charles N’Zogbia which would of been the ideal signing attitude aside but Wigan have already ruled that move out.

The other position I would sure up is at centre back for me they have 4 or 5  average  centre backs all 6 out of 10 but no one with that bit more quality.

To be honest the centre backs are ok for the rest of the season but if they carry on their form and then want to make that jump to the next level next season then this is defiantly one of the areas I would look at strengthening.

 

 

Tottenham- For me Tottenham’s squad is quite strong and complete, they have a few players of a similar mould in the midfield which made me think trying to sign Piennar was a bit pointless although he is a good player.

For me a new left back is a must, I cant see anything in Assou-Ekotto that suggest he should be in that side, from what I can gather from the Tottenham fans I have spoken to he’s either loved or hated so some of you would strongly agree whilst others will completely disagree that he needs replacing.

 He isn’t your typical left back but I would look at the Valencia left back Mathieu he is a solid no frills left back who keeps things simple but is strong in the air and in the tackle.

I also do not particulary rate Alan Hutton but I do rate Corluka so if Hutton’s keeping him out of the side he must be doing something right.

 

West Brom- This is a difficult one, Odemwingie is not clinical enough but causes teams so many problems as it is Di Matteo’s preference to play one out and out striker would you bring in someone who will guarantee goals but then lose all that Odemwingie gives you.

Personally I would stick with what they have as they currently have enough to stay in the league if he can get them all working together. Dorrans was scoring for fun in the Championship and Di Matteo needs to find a way to rediscover his scoring touch as goals are where West Brom are lacking.

I would also like to see more of Somen Tchoyi on the pitch he seems a bit lazy but is very creative and can change games.

 

 

West Ham- There are so many players at West Ham that if playing at their full potential are more than good enough to get them out of the trouble there in, the problem is Scott Parker is the only player showing any real form.

I think the signing of Wayne Bridge is a good one and it makes their back line pretty much complete.

 I think West Ham are fine in the middle but its on the flanks they are struggling, Jack Collison has been a massive loss for them as he adds a little bit of class and for me Behrami has not been himself this season.

 I remember before the season started I said to a West Ham fan they were stupid to get rid of Diamanti because he gave you width and that spark of producing something from nothing, I still believe this is the case.

 All reports suggest that Grant is looking at a whole host of strikers but between Cole, Obinna and Piquionne there is the potential for enough goals in the team they just need the right service.

 The ideal signing although he would be difficult to prize away would be Chris Brunt he can play wide has a beautiful delivery is good from set pieces and will get you goals, but for them reasons it would take a lot to get West Brom to part with him.

 

Wigan- For me Wigan have a whole host of problems and don’t have the money to rectify them, I think they will be gracing the championship next year, Rodallega is a good player but does not offer enough goals so someone to play alongside him who will get the goals his work deserves would be ideal, they have used the loan market well in signing Tom Cleverly and I think they should dip into it again to sign a striker.

 Again in the midfield they have N’Zogbia who is a good player and Cleverly adds something to the side but for me the likes of Gomez and Wason just don’t cut it in the Premier League, Hendry Thomas is a good holding player so just someone who can press on a bit is needed, I am not sure how bad the financial situation is so I would look at Adam Hammill who is available for half a million.

Figueroa is a good player and the rest of the back line are just battling hearts on their sleeves type of players this could be strong enough to get them through, but due to lack of individual quality they need to come together as a unit.

 

Wolves-Wolves are an odd case, Kevin Doyle is a good player Steven Fletcher is a good player they get good service from the likes of Hunt, Jarvis, Jones and Milijas so why are they not scoring goals? Its not like they are missing a whole host of chances each week either it’s quite baffling.

Karl Henry has been a big loss as he adds the bite in midfield but he should be back soon and I think he could spring the team into action.

I would be tempted to add a player at the back, Craddock was the leader and he has been out for a long time and he will not come back and straight away be ready for the rigours of the Premier League.

I think generally they need to add a centre back but even if they sign a player on loan for the short term until Craddock comes back it could be enough to see them safe this season.

It’s been reported that Mick McCarthy has given up on trying to sign David Wheater which is a shame because he could have been the ideal man for what Wolves need, someone in a similar mould needs to be looked at, they could do a lot worse than signing Sol Campbell until the end of the season.

Let me know if you agree with my opinions or if you disagree who you would sign for your club or any of the clubs I have mentioned?

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

Thirteen months ago, Darren Bent scored the winner in a 1-0 win at home to Arsenal that saw Sunderland nicely placed to push on and clinch a European spot at the end of the season.

But the next fourteen league games saw the Black Cats undergo a horrific run of form, with not a single win gained from those matches. It was a run that completely undid all the hard work they had done in the first few months of the campaign.

A year on, and Steve Bruce’s side have made a similar, if not more impressive start to the season. They currently sit in sixth place, level on points with fifth-placed Tottenham and just four points off of a Champions League spot.

The results have been impressive in the process. Wins over Chelsea and Manchester City, and draws against Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs have shown how they have been such a hard team to beat this season.

So can Sunderland learn from the mistakes of last campaign? There’s certainly no reason why they can’t when looking at the squad in place.

Not only is it a better squad in terms of overall quality than 12 months previously, but more importantly there is more balance to the squad, with strength in depth added to positions that needed strengthening.

Defensively, Sunderland have been superb this season. A lot of people scoffed at the signing of Titus Bramble, but when you look at his £1 million price tag, I think many people will struggle to find a better bargain of the season than the 29 year-old centre back.

He has developed an excellent partnership with Michael Turner at the heart of the defence, and excluding the horror show that was the Tyne-Wear derby at St James Park in October, they have helped the side keep nine clean sheets already, and are on a run of three clean sheets in a row.

Perhaps the main difference has arrived up front. If there was one criticism that could be aimed at Sunderland, it was their over-reliance on goals from Darren Bent. The 25 year-old striker had an outstanding first season at the Stadium of Light, scoring 24 goals, the rest of the squad added just the same amount as the former Charlton and Tottenham forward.

But this season, while Bent has carried on where he left off, the goalscoring responsibility is being shared by others now.

Asamoah Gyan has all the attributes to be a top striker in the Premier League (pace, power, awareness) while Danny Welbeck is maturing enormously in his loan spell from Manchester United, scoring five goals in his last six league games. People cannot accuse Sunderland of being a one-man team going forward anymore.

The heart of the midfield is also blossoming. Despite the loss of Lorik Cana in the summer, it seems to have been a blessing in disguise, with more energy and creativity from the midfield now.

Jordan Henderson has developed enormously over the past year, which is great news for club and country, while if Lee Cattermole can permanently curb his over-enthusiasm that gets him into less disciplinary trouble, we will see a big talent fully evolve. Boudewijn Zenden’s class and experience should not be underestimated either.

For Bruce, the platform is there for him and his squad to push on this time around. The 49 year-old has been backed by owner Ellis Short and chairman Niall Quinn. This is an expensively-assembled squad. There is no reason why the Black Cats cannot push on for a top-six finish now. They have a solid defence, a blossoming midfield and a potent strike-force.

A repeat of last season’s fade from a promising start will bear no excuses this time around.

So what do you think? Sunderland fans, where do you think you can finish this season? Do you need any new additions to gain a European spot? Let us know

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