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Archive for June, 2017

Bournemouth

Bournemouth

The Club

Arguably the smallest of the three South Coast clubs, Bournemouth – The Cherries – have been around since 1899 and in that time have yet to win a major trophy. They are a relatively well-liked club with a decent support and, with the investment put in by Maxim Demin in the last few years, has seen the club move forward in a rather impressive way.

While never a title challenger or even a second-tier club, their progress from the third tier to the top in a short space of time under player and manager Eddie Howe has been deeply impressive.

16-17 – How Was It?

Hit and miss. It started well, but a raft of the signings made – Jack Wilshere among them – failed to impress as expected and an expensive recruitment policy again looked flawed. Howe has been praised for his teams style time and time again, but not enough is made of his patchy record on the transfer market.

Signings such as Jordan Ibe and Brad Smith – not fair off £20m for the pair – were major flaws. The season was let down by a poor calibre of arrival, and a 9th place finish perhaps looks a touch flattering.

17-18 – What Lies Ahead?

Trouble. The summer window has been slow and the names linked do not look too impressive. Another scattergun season with lots of money on lots of potentially good players seems to be the most likely outcome. Howe has struggled in a serious way to build a cohesive transfer policy at the club since promotion and the links so far do not appear to be much better.

The 9th place finish was not expected nor, in many ways, deserved. Bournemouth could struggle next year if they don’t find a better balance to their squad and find more consistency on the field.

June 25, 20170 commentsRead More
Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield Town

The Club

Founded in 1908, The Terriers are a club with more history than many might realize. Having won league titles and the FA Cup in the 1920s, including three titles in a row, Huddersfield are a fairly big club in the land of Yorkshire. Many hard years have fallen upon the town, but now they look like they might be back to where, for many, they should belong.

Under the tutelage of the impressive David Wagner, there is one thing for sure: that next season is going to be barking mad!

16-17 – How Was It?

Amazing, really. The club managed to gain promotion to the Premier League for the first time, winning the play-off to get promoted. They’d previously spend the best part of life since the 1970s in the second, third and even fourth tiers, so to get back to the top level is a huge boost for the club.

With some good signings that have come in recently, too, the club now stands in a far more impressive position than it has arguably since their golden period in the 1920s. To that end, the club can convincingly say it’s reached a zenith.

17-18 – What Lies Ahead?

So, what lies ahead for the club? That depends. Signings so far in the summer include the likes of Aaron Mooy and also Laurent Depoitre. The former was excellent for the club last year on loan from Manchester City, while Depoitre had a hard time in Portugal with FC Porto. Their signings look to be a bit of a scatter at present, but they are by no means in a bad position.

Another couple of smart signings could take the club a little bit closer to where they might have realistically expected to go – preferably staying up!

June 24, 20170 commentsRead More
Burnley

Burnley

The Club

Probably one of the smallest and least-well funded clubs in the top-flight, Burnley have been immense since Sean Dyche came in. A relegation followed by an instant return seen the club taking scalps and really impressing at the top level of the game, avoiding relegation in the end. Given their exceptionally limited squad, relatively speaking, Burnley coming 16th is still an impressive feat.

They are a decent club at a historical level, but the fact the lkes of Matt Lowton, Stephen Ward, Sam Vokes and Robbie Brady are among their star players says a lot. A club built on graft rather than sublime talent, much like their impressively organized coach.

16-17 – How Was It?

As good as any Burnley fan would likely demand. This is a club without the history or the budget to really expect anything other than staying up, so being able to avoid relegation with relative ease should be a very important factor for Burnley fans. Dyche, an ex-player at Turf Moor, is well liked and no doubt has the backing of the vast majority.

You get the feeling, though, that Burnley might well have peaked.

17-18 – What Lies Ahead?

At any point in the beautiful game, football clubs have had realistic limits. Burnley, a small-town community club, are the personification of a club that has hit the pinnacle of its ambitions. Top-flight football and survival is hugely impressive on its own, but it’s hard to see how anyone could take the club too much further.

A top half-finish would be remarkable, but another 16th place finish would likely be grabbed with both hands. Being truthful, just about every Burnley would probably take a 17th spot finish and just staying in the league once again, regardless of their relative progress.

June 14, 20170 commentsRead More
Stoke City

Stoke City

The Club

Now an established side in the Premier League with close to a decade of participation, The Potters have become a club of envy for many larger sides stuck in the lower divisions. Although never a big club or a trophy winner, Stoke has become a club that, under Mark Hughes, has seen a few big names move in and enjoy times in Staffordshire.

With the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri wearing the shirt today, it’s no wonder this is seen by many as a Golden Era for the club.

2016-17 – How Was It?

Solid. A 13th place finish might not sound too great, but they were only 2 points off coming an impressive 8th place. However, they were also only 4 points clear of 17th, showing you just how tight the league was this year. With the gap at the top showcasing itself massively in 16-17, clubs like Stoke had to settle for a less ambitious season.

However, consolidation in the top flight and some nice football played at times has meant that, for the season to come, Potters fans probably have a bit more hope that another top-half finish may return,

2017-18 – What Lies Ahead?

It really is hard to say – Stoke, while backed by money via Peter Coates, lack the real ability to go any further than they have. Regular European football on their turnover is unrealistic, as is the determination to continue to find players like Shaqiri – who had to have his arm pulled to join the club in the first place.

Progression, then, would probably just be more of the same. It might be a disheartening for Stoke fans, but it’s hard to see them regularly breaking into Europe, or even the top half, with 17-18 promising little more ambition. A likely mid-table finish awaits, barring some great work by Hughes in the transfer market.

June 13, 20170 commentsRead More
West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion

west bromich albionThe Club

The Baggies, once a yo-yo club, have established themselves as a Premier League club under the likes of Steve Clarke, Pepe Mel, Alan Irvine and Tony Pulis. League winners in 1920, the club has 5 FA Cup trophies and a League Cup, too, won in 1966. Today, fans cheer on the likes of Matt Phillips, Claudio Yacob and Nacer Chadli in a more continental looking West Brom side.

2016-17 – How Was It?

Solid – Pulis-level solid. They finished in 10th, having hit the magical 40-point barrier with a glut of games to go. However, ‘Pulisitis’ struck and the club enjoyed a horror end to the season, moving from the glimmer of hope that European football awaited followed by a solid but unspectacular 10th place finish.

Fans were happy with Pulis at first, but the sparkle appears to be dying out at West Brom in many ways. A proud fanbase seems to still expect their club to be able to compete higher up the league, so is Pulis safe?

2017-18 – What Lies Ahead?

That all depends on what awaits this summer. Transfer rumours for the club are thin on the ground, with more links to players of class leaving than coming in. forward Solomon Rondon is being linked with a move away after a disappointing season that seen 8 goals and 2 assists. If they sell Rondon and they cannot find a more suitable replacement, though, it’s going to be very hard for Pulis to keep improving the team.

With a rather tetchy fanbase for a club of their size, it’s likely that disharmony and expectation could hold back West Brom back. Top half would be an achievement again, but it’s likely to be mid-table obscurity once again.

June 12, 20170 commentsRead More