Tag Archive: Roberto Di Matteo

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After a truly great summer of sport dominated our attention, it almost feels like the new football season has snuck up on without anyone realising.

But it’s easy to forget after the past few weeks of witnessing our Olympic heroes inspire a nation that last season’s Premier League campaign will be etched into the memory of every football fan for many years to come.

A title race that came down to the last kick of the season (literally) a battle for the Champions League places that had more twists and turns than a Carlos Tevez transfer saga, and a relegation battle that had supporters of several clubs biting their nails for several months on end.

Now, the new season gets underway today with either plenty of change or plenty of uncertainty dominating the thoughts of clubs ready for the next long journey ahead.     Continue reading


By Laurie Fitzgerald

Sergio Aguero’s 95th-minute strike secured the most thrilling of Premier League titles for Manchester City as Roberto Mancini’s side earned the club’s first title in 44 years in truly dramatic fashion.

That 3-2 win over Queen’s Park Rangers served as heartbreak for their Manchester rivals United, as Sir Alex Ferguson‘s men had the title given to them and dashed from them all within a matter of minutes.

It was also a fitting end to a Premier League campaign that has thrown up endless twists and turns, and this in a week when the 2011/12 season was voted the greatest in the league’s history, with each club having their own intriguing story.

City will look upon their triumph as potentially the beginning of a new and successful era, with the incredible financial backing of Sheikh Mansour now reaping the rewards.

United will try and use this moment to inspire their younger players such as Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck to drive them on and continuing the consistent success that’s been in place over the past 20 years.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After nine months and 825 clubs battling it out in the oldest cup competition in the world, we have reached the last two to battle it out in this year’s FA Cup Final.

Liverpool and Chelsea will meet at Wembley tomorrow evening to decide the 131st showpiece event for English football’s most famous domestic cup, and these are two sides that have a rich FA Cup tradition.

The Reds have won the trophy on seven occasions and last lifted the cup back in 2006, when a last-gasp equaliser by Steven Gerrard and heroics from Pepe Reina in the penalty shootout saw them overcome West Ham in one of the all-time great finals.

Chelsea’s recent history in the competition is unmatched; while they have won the cup six times, three of those triumphs have come in the last five seasons and are now one win away from four in six.

While Liverpool have stuttered in the Premier League this season, their cup form has been peerless; having won the Carling Cup back in February, Kenny Dalglish’s side are looking to complete a domestic cup double.     Continue reading

By Tony Alvarez

Last night I’m sure many of you saw Chelsea beat current European Champions in the home leg of their Champions League semi final clash.

Despite their visitors being favourites for the tie Chelsea defied the odds and recorded a 1-0 win thanks to a strike deep into first half stoppage time from Didier Drogba.

Despite their win which was undoubtedly impressive it is only half the job done and Barcelona are still marginal favourites to progress to next months final in May.

It would not be the first time Barcelona have lost away in England and still progressed in the tie.

Last season on route to their Champions League win the Spanish side lost 2-1 to Arsenal at the Emirates before using their home advantage in the 2nd leg and recording a 3-1 win to progress.     Continue reading

By Tony Alvarez

Today sees the 2nd semi final in this seasons FA Cup with the winner looking forward to a Wembley date with Liverpool in just 20 days time.
We are now at the penultimate stage but for Shouts From The Stands the tournament started way back in the first round proper in November 2011.
I started the tournament following Colchester United with the intention of following them until they got beat and then to follow their conquerors.

Continue reading

By Tony Alvarez

This weekend sees the FA Cup 6th round fixtures take place with sides hoping to cause upsets up and down the country and reach the semi finals of arguably the Worlds greatest Cup competition.

As regular visitors to the website will know both myself and Laurie chose a side to follow in round one of the competition, should that side lose we follow the side that beat them.

I initially started off with Colchester United who lost out to Swindon who in turn lost to Leicester in round four I followed Leicester through their 5th round victory vsNorwich and will now look ahead to their real glamour tie away to Champions League quarter finalists, big spending Chelsea.

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

West Brom travel to Old Trafford this afternoon in search of a record-breaking fourth consecutive Premier League victory as they aim for their first ever top-half finish in the league’s existence.

Wins over Wolves, Sunderland and Chelsea have propelled the Baggies from potentially being dragged into a relegation battle to firmly securing their top-flight status and look forward to a third consecutive season amongst England’s elite – another first in their Premier League history.

Ironically, Chelsea’s decision to sack manager Andre Villas-Boas saw them replace their Portuguese boss with a man that was at the centre of a major turning point in West Brom’s Premier League future.

Last year, Roberto Di Matteo was at the helm and winning many plaudits after guiding the Midlands club to the Premier League in his first season in charge with a positive attacking style earning them famous wins away at the likes of Arsenal and Everton.

But when the side went on a run of four points from a possible 27, Chairman Jeremy Peace had a big decision to make; stick with the man that had guided the club back to the top-flight, or find someone with greater experience in the hope of coming in and securing long-awaited stability in the biggest league in the world.      Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

We are six games into the new League One season, and it looks like the team that have always been the bridesmaid could now set to be the bride.

The last few seasons have seen promotion heartache for the MK Dons; play-off heartache last season and in 2009, and sandwiched in-between that was the return of Paul Ince that ended in disappointment for both parties.

Thankfully in Karl Robinson, the Dons have continued to make steady progress in the past couple of years, and now look primed to make a real push for automatic promotion.

Five wins and a draw from the opening set of games means that MK sit top of the division ahead of Sheffield United on goal difference.

This is all the more impressive when they were 2-1 down on the opening day at home to Hartlepool going into injury-time before a last-gasp leveller from Jabo Ibehre salvaged a point.

This has been followed by eight successive wins in all competitions, including a stunning 4-0 win against Premier League outfit Norwich at Carrow Road in the Carling Cup.

Despite this, it’s doubtful that Robinson is likely to get carried away. He may be just 30 years old, but the youngest manager in the Football League has an old head on young shoulders.

Alongside his hugely experienced assistant John Gorman, the two compliment each other perfectly to help create a platform to bring success on the pitch.

Chairman Pete Winkleman has never been afraid of putting his faith in young managers, as shown in appointing the likes of Ince, Roberto Di Matteo and Martin Allen.

But many thought he took a real gamble in giving Robinson the job after Ince left; but his decision continues to be justified more with each passing day, and he looks to have found the perfect combination in the two men that are separated by 32 years.

Together they have assembled a squad with experience, craft and pace throughout, and plenty of goals in it too, in spite of the departure of striker Sam Baldock to West Ham United.

Baldock’s exit could have been a real blow to the Dons, but Charlie MacDonald was signed as his replacement, and along with Dean Bowditch they have plenty of firepower within the side.

Luke Chadwick continues to prove himself as a key component in the midfield, while captain Dean Lewington has rightly gained a reputation as one of the most consistent performers outside the top-flight.

Lewington is one of a number of players that deserve a chance at a higher level; if the Dons can maintain their start to the campaign, then that will happen for all of them sooner rather than later.

So what do you think? Will the MK Dons maintain their impressive start and launch a serious push for automatic promotion? Or will they suffer similar heartache to previous seasons? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

Alex McLeish took an unorthodox approach to resigning as Birmingham manager

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Despite the season finishing a couple of weeks ago and no major international tournament to fill the void on the pitch, there has still been plenty of drama taking place off of it.

The managerial merry go-round has rarely been as busy as the past fortnight. Three current Premier League clubs have changed or are in the process of changing their manager, while two relegated sides have had to deal with issues within their hotseat.

Fulham lost their second choice manager and replaced him with their first choice.

Mark Hughes walked out of Craven Cottage citing the reason as being too ambitious as the reason for his departure.

Former Tottenham boss Martin Jol was appointed just 12 months after Mohammed Al Fayed missed out on getting him to take charge following Roy Hodgson’s exit to Liverpool.

After dropping out of the Premier League following finishing bottom of the table, West Ham got rid of the uninspiring Avram Grant and appointed Sam Allardyce to help them try and get back in the big time.

Meanwhile, Alex McLeish took the more modern approach to inform his bosses that he didn’t fancy doing another stint in the Championship when he resigned from his job at Birmingham City – via e-mail.

This has naturally enraged the Blues board, with acting chairman Peter Pannu refusing to accept the Scot’s resignation, and what makes it even worse is that he is now the favourite to take the vacant position at bitter rivals Aston Villa.

In fact, Villa have created enough managerial discussion to last all summer. Owner Randy Lerner sensibly decided that having Gerard Houllier return following another heart condition wasn’t a risk worth taking, for the Frenchman if not the club.

Since then there have been a host of names being linked with the job at Villa Park, which has either failed due to loyalty to another club (Roberto Martinez) or loyalty to the fans (the veto on interviewing the now-Nottingham Forest manager Steve McLaren.)

We haven’t even got onto Chelsea yet, and after the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti owner Roman Abramovich is seemingly playing the waiting game for Guus Hiddink to leave Turkey/get sacked by Turkey for a failing Euro 2012 campaign. Whatever comes first.

Through all of these sagas, we have our fair share of victims and egotists. Hughes has taken the plunge of leaving a secure job and seemingly failed, while the way McLeish has quit St Andrews is nothing short of insensitive.

However, if you undertake the consideration of putting sympathy in the company of the owners, then bear in mind the findings of a recent survey on Premier League managers.

It discovered that the average life of a top-flight boss is just two years, with many chairman and club boards quick to draw the gun on someone they don’t think is up to the task.

Fulham chairman Al Fayed was reportedly on the brink of sacking Hughes halfway through the season before an impressive away win at Stoke gave the Welshman enough time to build for a top-eight finish.

The problem is that managers and owners are as bad as one another.

The loyalty shown by Martinez to remain with Wigan with the Villa job at his feet was a rare sign of a quality that has disappeared in the modern game.

Managers feel they have to get the best out of what is becoming a short shelf life, while owners have to put financial security provided by Premier League football ahead of allowing a boss to get through a bad period – just ask Roberto Di Matteo.

Unfortunately, they will be quick to point the blame at one another when things go wrong before noting their own faults.

It’s a game of cat and mouse that can undermine the development of a club, and once again the fans that have to deal with the mess that’s created.

Their loyalty is something that can never disappear.

So what do you think? Are managers just as bad as owners when it comes to letting supporters down? Or do bosses have to develop a selfish side to maintain a long career? Let us know your thoughts.

Robins has left Oakwell after a dispute over the club's financial budget

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Mark Robins‘ 20-month spell in charge of Barnsley came to an abrupt end on Monday when he resigned as their manager.

The former Rotherham boss handed in his notice following a dispute with the Barnsley board over the financial budget available for next season.

While Robins was looking for more investment into the squad, the club’s general manager Don Rowing made it clear there would be more of the same to what he’s endured throughout his reign.

The board want to focus on making sure that the outstanding debt is dealt with in order to be on an even keel, reviewing the recruitment policy in the process.

It’s a huge disappointment for the Yorkshire club, having seen real improvement over the past couple of campaigns under the 41 year-old’s guidance.

When Robins took over in September 2009, the Tykes were bottom of the Championship after just one point from their opening five games.

But the former Manchester United, Norwich and Leicester striker led the side from being relegation favourites to finishing a respectable 18th position.

Robins has had to make the best out of securing loan deals to improve the squad.

There have been 21 players that have been on loan at Oakwell over the past two years, including former Premier League players such as Paul McShane and Marlon Harewood.

Despite these limitations, Barnsley managed to improve on last season’s performance, ending the campaign in 17th place.

But Robins wanted to seek the investment that would give him the opportunity to make real strides up the Championship table.

Unfortunately, this chance was not going to be provided to the Mancunian, and the board now have to find a new manager.

Former boss Danny Wilson, who famously took Barnsley into the Premier League in 1997, is the bookmakers favourite.

Other contenders include former West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo and ex-Hibernian boss John Hughes.

Whoever comes in though will have to work under the financial restrictions that Robins refused to abide by.

It makes it much more difficult attracting the right person for the job if the negatives outweigh the positives.

Barnsley have done so well to establish themselves in the second tier of English football since promotion from League One in 2006.

Now it’s up to Rowing and the rest of the hierarchy to ensure that their next appointment continues to take the club forward, whatever the limitations.

So what do you think? Will the loss of Robins have a big effect on Barnsley? Who will replace him in the managerial hotseat at Oakwell? Will the financial restrictions prevent the right man from coming in? Let us know your thoughts.

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