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Europa-League-TrophyOn Sunday, West Ham United fired manager Sam Allardyce after finishing 12th in the Premier League. Today the Hammers found out that “Big Sam” had guided West Ham into Europe and a chance to play in the Champions League in 2016.

The Hammers qualified for next season’s Europa League by topping the Premier League’s Fair Play table. But qualification Fair Play is a poisoned chalice as West Ham will enter the competition along with 103 other teams in the first qualifying round on July 2. That is when most other Premier League teams will be reporting back for preseason, but the new West Ham boss, will have to get his team fit to play a competitive match, weeks before his rivals do.

Norwich City Back In Premier League

ncfc-wembleyNorwich City won the £120 million jackpot on Monday as they beat belongs Middlesbrough 2-0 at Wembley in the Championship play-off final.

Alex Neil’s side raced into a two-goal lead inside the first 15 minutes thanks to goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond and that early blitz was enough to secure a lucrative return to the Premier League just 12 months after the pain of relegation.

Winning promotion will also add to the growing reputation of the 33-year-old Neil, their young manager who hails from Bellshill, the same North Lanarkshire town as Sir Matt Busby.

Rodgers-TaxiIt was the worst 45 minutes that I can remember Liverpool playing in 40 years as Stoke City ran riot in the first half on Sunday, racing to a 5-0 lead on the way to thrashing Liverpool 6-1.

On the eve of one of Liverpool’s greatest ever nights, the Champions League win in Istanbul, could a clearer comparison be drawn between where Liverpool were a decade ago and where they are now?

What annoys me the most is that in Steven Gerrard’s last two games for Liverpool, at home against Palace and away to Stoke, Liverpool were flat and outplayed. How did that happen?

Departing Falcao thanks Man United fans

falcao-goodbyeRadamel Falcao thanked Manchester United‘s supporters today, a day after the club announced that his disappointing loan spell from Monaco will not be extended.

Falcao joined United amid great fanfare and expectations last September, but he was a shadow of the player that scored goals for fun for River Plate, Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.

The series knee injury that kept Falcao out of the World Cup last summer appears to have cost him a yard of speed, enough to turn a world class striker into an average player.

Real Madrid Sack Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo-Ancelotti-CL-TrophySometimes you have to wonder why successful businessmen can continue to make the same mistake over and over when they run a football team.

Despite winning the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez has fired Carlo Ancelotti less than 12 months ago he delivered the long awaited ‘LA DÉCIMA’ Champions League trophy to the club.

Ancelotti’s “crime” was not winning the league, something Real have only done once in the last seven years, despite Perez spending close to €1 Billion on new players in that time period.

Is Ronaldo Heading To PSG?

cr7-ballonInteresting little piece in the Spanish newspaper Marca on Thursday that Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has met with club president Florentino Pérez to find out what the club’s intentions are for next season.

Mentioned in the newspaper that since Ronaldo arrived at the Bernebeu in 2008 he has scored 223 goals, an average of 37 per season, yet has only one La Liga title and one champions league trophy to show for it.

Reading between the lines it appears that Ronaldo thinks that Real Madrid have became a one-man team, and that they cannot compete with Barcelona and their Messi/Neymar/Suarez triumvirate unless Bale and Benzema can chip in 30 goals each next season.

Comparing Van Gaal To Moyes And Fergie

Despite qualifying for the Champions League this was a very up and down season for Manchester United. It started with the question over whether Louis van Gaal had actually improved the side from David Moyes’ time, and what those changes were, before all the fuss over long balls and then finally the obsession with possession and its ultimate purpose. So, how did it end up? The team certainly got attuned to Van Gaal’s idea of possession, with that shooting up from 56% under Alex Ferguson to 61.1%, which was the highest in the Premier League.

For all Jose Mourinho’s argument that Chelsea’s absences from January to May were going to affect Cesc Fabregas’ output, it’s still hard to escape the fact his season conformed to the general trend of a career: there was a distinctive drop-off. It’s not even about the assists, which fell from 13 in 18 games to five in 16, but also the key pass: going from 3.39 per game to 2.13.

This is not something new with Fabregas as we saw they same thing at both Arsenal and Barcelona. The question that the Chelsea medical staff will be trying to answer this summer is why does Fabregas’s form drop the second half of the season? Is is a fitness issue or something else?

The only problem with all the optimism at the Emirates right now is that, really, we’ve been here before. All the talk about being the best team in a given year is reminiscent of what happened in 2013.

There is that perpetual sense of the club self-correcting itself: never suffering the true kind of crisis that would bring them below fourth, but never enjoying the genuine evolution that would lift them to a proper challenge. For the latter to happen, there needs to deeper development of performance. The excellent recent run needs to be an indication of structural improvement, rather than just a streak.

Sterling-AgentFootball’s most controversial transfer saga turned nasty on Thursday when England star Raheem Sterling’s agent launched an extraordinary attack on Liverpool and the club’s former players.

In an interview in the London Evening Standard, Sterling’s agent Aidy Ward said that his client would not sign a new contract even if Liverpool offered ‘£700, £800 or £900,000 per week’.

Following the publication of those remarks, Liverpool cancelled a planned meeting between Sterling and his advisors and manager Brendan Rodgers and Chief Executive Ian Ayre that was scheduled for Friday.