Steve Eyre: Football doesn’t produce winners anymore!

Former Manchester City youth coach Steve Eyre has bemoaned the lack of “winners” in football and laid the blame squarely at the door of Premier League youth academies.

Speaking to Jim Salveson on the Football Stories podcast about the changes he’s seen in the way Premier League development squads are managed, Eyre said that the importance of winning matches is no longer emphasised at the development level.

“Now the game is riddled by coaches who take the pressure off themselves by suggesting that winning isn’t important and it’s not about results. What we said to our players at Manchester City was “Win with style and if you can’t win with style just win”.”

He also said that this approach at youth level is having a big impact on the players now coming through at senior level:

“What you see now is a senior dressing room that’s full of soft characters. The number of managers and head coaches who say to me “There aren’t any winners anyone, there aren’t any captains.” Well, if the academy system is breeding players where they are told from nine to nineteen winning isn’t important, then how are they expected to think it’s important when he gets to 21.”

The former Huddersfield and Rochdale boss also spoke on the podcast about his role in bringing through such talent as Daniel Sturridge, Phil Foden and Kieran Trippier whilst with Man City’s development team and about working with Joey Barton at Fleetwood Town.

Listen and subscribe to “Football Stories” wherever you listen to podcasts.

Listen to “The Coach: Steve Eyre”.

Transfer Round Up: Manchester United edge closer to Sancho deal.

Time is running out as the transfer window nears its closure, but there’s still time for more business to be done in the Premier League.

Manchester United are reportedly closing in on the signing of Jadon Sancho. It’s the transfer saga that’s rumbled on all summer, with Borussia Dortmund and United struggling to agree on a fee for the player with the reds refusing to match the Germans £120m valuation. But transfer guru Fabrizio Romano is saying personal terms have been agreed and the clubs are inching closer to a deal that COULD be finalised this weekend.

West Ham fans are crying out for transfer news but this may not be what they had in mind. West Ham ITK @ExWhuEmployee reporting that the club are currently talking to midfielder Jack Wilshere about terminating his £100k a week contract. The former Arsenal man has made just 16 appearances in two years for the Hammers, who are desperate to free up cash for new recruits.

Across London Chelsea are keen to hang onto N’Golo Kante amongst interest from Inter Milan. The Guardian is reporting that the Italians are tabling a bid that includes Croatian international Marcelo Brozovic but Lampard is keen to hold onto the former Leicester City man.

Gonzalo Higuain (32) will NOT be coming to the Premier League this season! The Argentinian was released by Juventus at the end of last season and was available on a free transfer but it would seem that David Beckham has won the battle for his signature and the former Real Madrid forward will be living the high life in Florida with Inter Miami next season.

The Best And Worst Of Transfer Announcements

It’s safe to say the transfer window is in top gear at the minute. Clubs around the world are strengthening their squads in one of the shortest pre-season periods ever as they prepare for the new season.

And a by-product of such business in recent years is the emergence of transfer announcements. The way a club presents its new players on social media has become a massive part of a transfer, with fans eagerly awaiting the unveiling of their latest star.

Some clubs do fine jobs of it, but for every success there’s a failure, and this year has been no different. Here’s some of the best and worst on offer.

Istanbul Basaksehir – Rafael da Silva

We’ll start with one of the worst. Former Manchester United defender Rafael has recently left French side Lyon to join Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir, which has become something of a graveyard for former Premier League players.

Rafael’s new teammates include Demba Ba, Martin Skrtel and Nacer Chadli (who just missed out on being on the list of bad announcements himself), but his unveiling was pretty cringey.

Yes, the Turks went for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme, making the Brazilian right-back don an eye mask for his presentation, complete with TMNT music playing over the top.

0/10 for originality lads, but a solid 7/10 for cringe factor.

Vitoria SC – Ricardo Quaresma

From one former Premier League player to another now, as Ricardo Quaresma comes in at the other end of the scale to Rafael.

Many will have forgotten the Portugal winger was once on Chelsea’s books, but no one should forget the video Vitoria pulled out of the bag to welcome the 36-year-old to the club.

If you know anything about Quaresma, you’ll know he has quite a high opinion of himself, and the Liga NOS side tapped right into that with this epic video, featuring horses, butlers and even a castle.

It’s Quaresma in video form!

Inter Milan – Aleksandar Kolarov

Sticking with the former PL theme, we head to Italy and former Manchester City left-back Kolarov.

The Serbian is no stranger to a brilliant transfer announcement, having been part of AS Roma’s effort just a year ago.

Inter have matched that success with this effort though, which is the first time I’ve ever seen physics and football go hand-in-hand.

Turns out it works, who’d have thought?

West Ham United – Jarrod Bowen

In case you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know things at West Ham United aren’t so good right now.

They’ve been starved of any success in the transfer market, the only signing they’ve made is making the loan of Tomas Soucek permanent, and the fans are calling for the heads of their board again.

Grady Diangana’s sale brought a public outburst from captain Mark Noble, and Declan Rice could still be on his way to Chelsea, if reports are accurate.

It’s fair enough that the Hammers’ social media team were probably looking at ways of giving their fans some good news, but they got it spectacularly wrong with their idea of a video announcing…Jarrod Bowen’s number change.

The former Hull winger moving from number 17 to number 20 is literally not news. Even the most die hard West Ham fan (that’s Danny Dyer, Ray Winstone or Triple H by the way) didn’t lose any sleep over Bowen wearing the number 17, so him moving up three numbers didn’t exactly warrant a video.

But the media team did it anyway, and it was seen for what it was – irrelevant.

Tottenham Hotspur – Matt Doherty

One of the earlier deals this summer was when Wolves wing-back Matt Doherty moved from Molineux to North London and signed for Spurs.

However, maybe he’d have preferred to sign for Arsenal, given his childhood allegiances?

Footballers old tweets coming back to haunt them is a toxic trend these days, with many being fined or banned for things they’ve said on the platform in years gone by.

This one wouldn’t have gone that far, but would have been embarrassing if Spurs hadn’t became aware of Doherty’s tweets before they became a problem, with him confessing his love for Arsenal back in 2012.

As spinning a negative into a positive goes, this is how you do it.

Southampton – Stuart Taylor

OK, this one wasn’t this summer, but it’s simply too good to be left out. If you haven’t seen it already, you’re in for a treat. Maybe West Ham can take some tips…

Stuart Taylor was Southampton’s third-choice goalkeeper, barely playing a game for the Saints, and was set to let his contract expire and move into the coaching team at St Mary’s.

But, he decided to stay on the playing staff for another year, and the Saints’ social media team spotted an opportunity for a simply perfect video. The part where it pans to him holding a cup of tea in his garden could win awards. 35 thousand retweets for a contract extension is insane, and every single one of them is deserved.

Daniel Sturridge: Ordering One More Drink in the Last Chance Saloon

Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Daniel Sturridge has been hinting of a return to the Premier League.

The former Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea striker says he has “unfinished business” after this season swapping the drizzly outlook of the English league for the sunnier climate of the Turkish Super Lig with Trabzonspor.

This was a move that he no doubt hoped would reignite his career after a series of injuries seemed to derail the potential of a striker who was at one time, briefly, one of the deadliest in Europe.

Many have already written off Sturridge as a top-flight flop but I have always held the belief that with the right luck and the right move there is still a very good player waiting to shine and his brief spell in Turkey has done nothing to extinguish that belief.

Right now, however, when you mention the name “Daniel Sturridge” it is often prefixed by the words “the injured” as the England forward has found his career dogged by repeated problems. He is a player that almost has his own cliche as countless footballing pundits have proclaimed: “if you can keep him fit” you would have “one hell of a player”.

As with most cliches, The statement holds some truth.

Throughout his career, Sturridge has consistently shown promise but unlocking that potential has proved an unsolved mystery for many of his managers at some of England’s biggest clubs.

Manchester City’s Promising Talent

When Manchester City let the promising 19-year-old leave the Etihad stadium to join up with Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, there was a feeling from some fans that the club may have let a superstar slip through their fingers. Sturridge was a regular at England youth level and had been voted the Young Player of the Year at City the year before his departure but the striker clearly felt his future lay elsewhere.

Maybe Sturridge’s City exit was a sign of things to come for the player. His demands for a £55,000-a-week deal in Manchester had shocked City and questions were being asked as to whether the player was sacrificing game time and development for the financial riches offered by Abramovich’s Chelsea revolution.

There have been many accusations down the years that Sturridge’s attitude has affected his fitness, rather than any underlying medical issues. A suggestion that he is not a player willing to “play through the pain” where perhaps others would. An unwillingness that has only served to increase his time on the treatment table rather than the pitch.

Early Promise at Anfield

It was an injury-hit season in 2012/13 and the arrival of Rafa Benitez at Chelsea that led to Sturridge’s exit from London to join Liverpool. A move that led to the season where perhaps Sturridge fulfilled his potential.

It is a quirk of the player’s career that he can still be considered a flop despite having stepped onto the pitch for 3 of the biggest Premier League clubs. But, it is a reflection of exactly how much promise Sturridge showed that many consider this to be the case, promise that he briefly fulfilled with his move to Merseyside.

His start to life in Liverpool was electric. In his debut season, he scored 10 goals for the club in record time. Breaking records for reaching that milestone faster than anyone else in the club’s history.

The next, he finished second in the Golden Boot only to his strike partner Luis Suarez with 22 top-flight goals. But, it would be injuries again that would blight his progress and he would go onto spend a whopping 700 days on the Anfield treatment table – forcing Jurgen Klopp to convert Roberto Firmino from attacking midfielder to centre forward to plug the gap (which hasn’t gone too badly).

For a player who was being compared with greats such as Robbie Fowler and Fernando Torress when he first arrived at Anfield, taking 3 years to reach 50 goals for the club was perhaps not in the script. In fact, he has failed to reach double figures in a single season since that fateful 2013/14 season.

Injury and Attitude

Over the last few seasons, the usual footballing suspects have criticised Sturridge, his “attitude” (Graham Souness) and his “disruptive influence” (Simon Jordan) and it is perhaps telling that now, at the age of 30 he is standing close to, if not already on the footballing scrap heap.

Having reportedly selected his recent move to Turkey from 13 (presumably less lucrative) other offers on the table it was important that this time it worked out. Sadly that wasn’t to be the case, leaving the club in March (by mutual consent) after being handed a 4-month ban for breaching FA betting regulations.

The unique aspect of Sturridge’s fall from grace, however, is not that he lacked the ability to live up to the price tag. It was either his body or his mental state that proved the issue. Which, we may never truly know.

Will he get a second (or maybe fourth or fifth) chance in the top flight? His four goals and four assists in the eleven appearances he DID make for the Turkish club, however, may be enough to convince someone to take a gamble (of the legal variety) on the 30-year-old, who will turn 31 before the new season begins.

Someone somewhere will be convinced that they can unlock that potential but this time it really could be his last chance.

Crystal Palace tracking QPR forward Eberechi Eze

The Eagles ended their 2019-20 Premier League campaign in 14th place, with a 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Selhurst Park ending a wretched run of 7 consecutive league defeats.

Roy Hodgson’s side scored the second-fewest goals in the Premier League this season, with only Norwich City – relegated in bottom place – having a worse strike rate.

There is a need therefore for Hodgson to freshen up his attack, as a lack of goals combined with an ageing squad is a cause for concern amongst Crystal Palace supporters.

Palace’s reported interest in 22-year-old Eberechi Eze from QPR will no doubt perk up some of those dubious Eagles fans, with the forward having bagged 14 goals in all competitions for the West London outfit this season.

West Ham United are also said to be keen on the England U21 international, but it’s understood Crystal Palace are in pole position over a possible switch.

No confidence in Kepa as Chelsea scour transfer market for new goalkeeper

Kepa has come under fire this season for his performances, criticism no doubt accentuated by the eye-watering £71m Chelsea paid Athletic Bilbao for the goalkeeper’s services in 2018.

The Blues are keen to try and recoup as much of that £71m – a world-record fee for a goalkeeper – as possible this summer, as Lampard hunts for a more viable option for the future.

It’s reported that the Chelsea boss does not see the Spaniard as the long-term fit between the sticks at Stamford Bridge.

Reports claim that clubs in Spain have expressed an interest in Kepa, but whether Chelsea will be able to make back anywhere near the fee they paid for him remains to be seen – particularly with a dip in performance and an expectedly erratic transfer market due to the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Blues’ supposed shortlist of potential replacements include Burnley’s Nick Pope, who recently missed out on the Premier League Golden Glove award despite 12 clean sheets in the league this season.

Ajax stopper Andre Onana is also on the Chelsea radar, with Ajax said to be willing to listen to offers for the player who is interested in a move to England.

Perhaps the most outrageous (but not unlikely) suggestion is Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak.

Often regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, the Slovenian won’t come cheap, with a whopping £110m needed to activate his release clause and lure him away from the Wanda Metropolitano.

Burnley identify Charlton striker Macauley Bonne as potential transfer target

Bonne was part of the Addicks side who were relegated from the Championship to League One last week, contributing 11 goals this season for the London club.

The 24-year-old has impressed with how easily he’s stepped up, considering he was playing Conference football with Leyton Orient not two seasons ago.

Sean Dyche will be hoping that Bonne can step up once again if he is to make an impact in the Premier League with Burnley, although it will cost the Clarets £1m to secure to striker’s services.

Charlton are currently in a dispute around the ownership of the club, and with murmurings of a potential administration on the cards, they may be tempted to cash in – although the club have claimed that they strive to keep a hold of all of their contracted players.

Burnley aren’t the only club in for Bonne, with Championship sides Derby County, Fulham and Cardiff City all said to be keen.

Brighton sign Adam Lallana from Liverpool

The 32-year-old midfielder completed his medical at the Seagulls on Monday and has penned a three-year deal at the Amex Stadium.

Lallana reportedly had other offers from Premier League clubs, one of which is believed to be Leicester City.

However, the recent title winner chose Brighton as he feels the club are ‘at a stage where they can really push on in the Premier League.’

Graham Potter’s side finished 15th in the table at the end of the 2019-20 season, and the acquisition of Lallana, who has amassed 196 appearances over 8 years in the division, will add an element of experience to an encouraging squad.

Bournemouth consider legal action after technology blunder

Despite a 1-3 win away at Everton, the three points at Goodison Park was too little, too late for Eddie Howe’s side as they were condemned to a place in the Championship next season.

The Cherries join Norwich City and Watford in returning to the second tier, with last season’s playoff winners Aston Villa securing top flight survival by just a single point.

And it is that single point which is the topic of contention, with Aston Villa the benefactors of a rare error in Hawk-Eye’s goal-line technology during the 1-1 draw with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on June 17.

Villa’s trip to the Blades was the first game of Project Restart, following the 3-month break in the campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With Aston Villa a goal to the good, goalkeeper Orjan Nyland appeared to carry the ball over his own goal-line, gifting Sheffield United an equaliser.

However, the officials were unmoved, goal-line technology didn’t spot the error and VAR refused to intervene.

Hawk-Eye, the providers of the technology, later admitted to a malfunction in the system and apologised for their mistake.

The mishap, which hasn’t happened in over 9000 top-flight football matches in which goal-line technology has been used, gifted Villa a precious point – a point which Bournemouth will argue kept Villa in the Premier League at their expense.

The powers that be at the Cherries are reportedly meeting this week to discuss the possibilities of exploring legal action against Hawk-Eye for their failure in technology, with Bournemouth’s relegation meaning the club will miss out on tens of millions of pounds of Premier League revenue.

However, with such mistakes being such a rarity – once in more than 9000 games – it remains to be seen whether the Cherries do pursue such a claim.

Arsenal close to permanent Dani Ceballos capture from Real Madrid but hit snag in chase for Atletico’s Thomas Partey

The good news is that Dani Ceballos, who has been on loan at the Emirates Stadium from Real Madrid this campaign, is reported to be close to penning a permanent contract at Arsenal.

Ceballos is said to not be in the plans of current Real coach Zinedine Zidane, and according to Spanish news outlet AS, the midfielder’s focus is to stay in North London for another season.

Other reports from Spain also suggest that Real Madrid’s need to make some cash this summer will encourage them to sell Ceballos to Arsenal, with newspaper Marca claiming €30-35m could be enough to make the switch permanent.

It is in the middle of the park where Arteta and Sporting Director Edu are seemingly keen to bolster their ranks, with Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey on the Gunners’ radar.

Partey has been linked with a move to the Premier League for the past 18 months, with Arsenal supposedly in pole position for the 27-year-old’s signature.

The Ghana international has a release clause of €50m, and still has three years remaining on his current Atletico deal – but the Gunners remain confident they can land their man.

Earlier this month, The Guardian reported Arsenal had offered £23m for Partey’s services – approximately half of his €50m release clause – but that was rejected.
Now reports claim that out-of-favour midfielder Matteo Guendouzi was offered as a makeweight in order to up the ante, and tempt Atletico in to accepting a lower price for Partey.

Guendouzi reportedly had a bust-up with gaffer Mikel Arteta shortly after the Premier League’s resumption and hasn’t featured for Arsenal in the last 10 games in all competitions.

Despite the offer of Guendouzi, Partey won’t be leaving the Wanda Metropolitano any time soon it seems, as the player plus cash bid was also rejected.

In the past, Alexandre Lacazette has been of interest to Atletico Madrid – however it is unlikely that Arteta will use the Frenchman as a bargaining chip to secure Partey at the expense of weakening his forward line.

Aston Villa sack Sporting Director over poor player recruitment

Just a day after Villa had secured Premier League survival by virtue of a 1-1 draw with West Ham, the club moved to dismiss Pitarch, who oversaw £140m of spending on players last summer.

It’s understood that the powers that be at Aston Villa are unhappy with the player recruitment this season, but are happy with manager Dean Smith – reports claim that he would have stayed at Villa Park regardless of whether the club were relegated to the Championship.

Smith is allegedly responsible for the capture of Tom Heaton and Tyrone Mings, but several underperforming signings such as Wesley, Marvelous Nakamba and Mbwana Samatta were all on the Sporting Director’s watch.

Whoever the club bring in to replace the outgoing Jesus Gracia Pitarch will have a job on their hands, with their first task the unenviable challenge of keeping hold of star player and talisman Jack Grealish.

West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa: Villa secure Premier League survival at West Ham

With Watford losing away at Arsenal, Dean Smith’s side have survived by the skin of their teeth in a dramatic final 15 minutes at the London Stadium.

The tension was palpable right from kick off in East London, with the Villa bench spending much of the game checking for updates elsewhere.

Villa did create more in a nervy first half, with Mbwana Samatta testing Lukasz Fabianksi.

But as the nerves began to creep up after the break, Villa allowed the Hammers back into the game, as Michail Antonio wasted a brilliant chance.

Skipper Jack Grealish did look to have had ahead his Roy of the Rovers moment, as he fired home John McGinn’s pass with five to go.

But Villa fans have learnt to things the hard way this season, as Grealish deflected home Andriy Yarmolenko’s strike for an instant equaliser.

Dean Smith was torn between his team and his tablet in the closing minutes, but in the end, his side and just just enough to hold on.