Victory at long last for Birkbeck FC!

Thursday 11th May 2017 1pm

Birkbeck 3-0 C&R2

Match reporter: Chris Baker

Birkbeck earned a long overdue and well deserved win at Coram’s Fields on a gloriously sunny Thursday afternoon.

It was a thoroughly professional display from start to finish from the boys in blue, who can be extremely satisfied with their solid performance.

Mark Bailey, making his debut for BBK FC, slotted into the backline alongside skipper Andi Schmidt and in truth they were rarely troubled by a disjointed and at times disorganised C&R2 side.

Birkbeck where on the front foot from the off and pressurised their opponents into several errors early on.

The high press continued to be effective in the opening exchanges. With Steven Jefferies, Matt Boyd & Sam Keenan looking dangerous. Jefferies had the first notable effort on goal which was well saved by the C&R2 ‘keeper.

Eventually the pressure told and Jefferies put Birkbeck in front with a well struck shot that went in via the goalkeeper’s fingertips and the inside of the post.

It was the least BBK FC deserved after their bright start and they looked far the more likely side to add to their lead. Matt B smashed a shot over the bar before Chris B stung the palms of the ‘keeper with a curling left footed effort.

C&R2 slowly settled into the game and grew into the contest as the first half progress. Controversy struck when (some) of the C&R2 players thought they had equalised with a rasping shot. The goal was (in the end) rightly chalked off after their had been a foul in the build-up. The vast majority of players on both sides had stopped so justice was done in the end.

Birkbeck survived another scare right at the end of the first half when Jack Cain made an excellent reflex save at point blank rank to preserve the 1-0 half-time lead.

Into the second half and Birkbeck quickly got back into their stride and the pattern of the first half continued with the boys in blue dominating possession and looking the more threatening in attack.

BBK FC got a slice of luck that has deserted them in recent matches. Matt B’s in-swinging corner from the right caused chaos in the box. Steven Jefferies capitalised by turning the ball towards the near post and it ricocheted into the back of the net. 2-0 was a fair reflection on the balance of play even if it did come in fortuitous circumstances.

C&R2 heads dropped a little after going two behind and they got a little bit ragged in and out of possession. Resorting to rather hopeful long balls.

Two soon became three to give Birkbeck the sort of cushion they could relax on. Chris B was played in down the right after neat work between Keenan & Jefferies. Baker then fired in a low cross that was turned home close range by Boyd. The ensuing celebrations were a mixture of relief as much as joy as the BBK boys could see that victory was within touching distance.

The Blues looked the more likely to add to their lead as the second half wore on with C&R2 becoming more and more desperate to get on the scoresheet. Jack Cain was relatively untroubled in goal, which made a  pleasant change after being overworked in recent matches.

Man of the match Chris E worked tirelessly in midfield. Never giving the opposition time to think or settle. His recent warm weather training in Malaysia certainly seems to have paid dividends on this evidence.

Birkbeck could and perhaps should’ve added to their lead as the match began to peter out. They were always a threat on the counter attack but their decision making let them down a tad at times.

There was still time for Baker to force the C&R2 goalkeeper into a fine save before the game reached its conclusion. It was a frankly outrageous effort that looked destined to nestle in the top corner before the shot was nonchalantly tipped over the bar.

On a very warm day with no subs The Blue Fury can be absolutely delighted with their efforts that were fully rewarded on this organisation. It was a highly professional performance from start to finish. Birkbeck showed a togetherness, organisation and game intelligence that has been absent from recent defeats.

BBK FC finish their league campaign with a match against Bentham Academicals on Tuesday 23rd May 2017. If they can play in the same fashion as they did today then they’ll have every chance of notching up another victory.

Birkbeck FC: Cain (GK); Schmidt (c), Bailey; Keenan, Boyd, Emmerson, Jefferies; Baker.

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Groundhog Day for Birkbeck FC

Thursday 9th March 2017 1pm 

IPCC 3-1 Birkbeck 

Match reporter: Chris Baker

It was a case of Deja vu for BBK FC as they slipped to another agonising defeat at the Coram’s Fields.

It had all started so brightly for the Blue Fury in the first half. Setting about their opposition with vim and vigour in the early exchanges.

Birkbeck had created a plethora of early chances through their high pressing game and it was no surprise when they eventually went ahead. Paul Majewski latching onto Chris Baker’s flighted through ball before knocking the ball home with his left foot.

Further goals for BBK FC seemed an inevitable but the boys in blue were to come against a goalkeeper in inspired form; even if he was a little unsure of where his area was to begin.

The IPCC ‘keeper made a string of excellent saves as his goal was peppered with shots from all angles. The best two were spectacular reflex saves from Baker and Majewski respectively.

Birkbeck couldn’t find a second goal before half-time that would’ve reinforced their control and dominance over proceedings. So it was 0-1 at the interval.

The second half started in a similar fashion and the boys in blue were almost rewarded with a goal for their efforts. Baker pinged a ball out to the right wing to Rob Carter who delivered a teasing cross towards Majewski. The IPCC managed to just about bundle the ball clear but only as far as the waiting Matt Boyd who dragged his left shot just wide of the post. Nevermind, the Birkbeck lads must have thought.

They were, however, made to pay almost instantly for their prolificacy  in front of goal. The IPCC swept forward with a hopeful long punt up field which caught out the unfortunate Krish in defence and they made it 1-1.

A report of daylight robbery was almost filed with the IPCC after the equaliser but worse was to follow for the Blue Fury.

It’s fair to say that Birkbeck got pretty ragged after being pegged back and lost their shape but they could do very little about IPCC’s second goal which was one of genuine quality.

A simply outrageously good cross from the right wing, that totally dissected the BBK FC goalkeeper and defence was expertly turned in on the volley at the far post.

The lads in blue could scarcely believe what had happened but managed to regroup sufficiently to press for an equaliser with Sam Keenan making several lung busting marauding runs forward from deep. But whenever the IPCC back line was breached they couldn’t find a way past a goalkeeper that was surely having the game of his life. The ball seemed be magnetically drawn towards his gloves. Not even offering up any rebounds opportunities.

As Birkbeck pressed for an equaliser they left themselves exposed to the counter attack and but for an excellent save from Jack Cain IPCC could’ve found themselves well and truly out of sight.

As it was BBK FC huffed and puffed in vain in search of an equaliser but were then picked off on the break to end the match as a contest.

In the dying embers of the game Birkbeck continued to play in a positive fashion but couldn’t turn one of their numerous shots on target into a goal.

The Blue Fury will be deeply disappointed with how this very winnable game got away from them. If their results are to improve they must tighten up at the back and cut out the individual errors that are costly them so dearly at the moment. While becoming more ruthless and clinical in front of goal. The good news is they won’t have to play against the IPCC stopper every week.

If the boys in blue can sharpen up in both penalty areas then better results are surely just around the corner; as their play in the mid third of the pitch is decent and the lads always look comfortable in possession.

Next fixture: Birkbeck FC vs Warners

Thursday 30th March 1-2pm, Coram Fields. 

BBK FC: Cain (GK); Jayes (Krish), Keenan, Alex; Carter, Baker, Boyd (c); Majewski (1).

http://thebluefury.blogspot.co.uk/

Birkbeck 4 – 5 The Children’s Society

Match Report

Birkbeck 4 – 5 The Children’s Society

Thursday 2 February 2017, 1-2pm

Reporter: Chris Baker

Two goals in the last five minutes from TCS condemned the boys in blue to a devastating defeat at Corams Fields on Thursday afternoon.

A mixture of very wasteful finishing and some sloppy defending was ultimately Birkbeck’s undoing.

BBK FC did, however, start the match in very positive fashion. Setting about their opposition early on with a high press that unsettled TCS. Steven Jefferies created two opportunities for himself through his tenacity but was unfortunately unable to convert either chance.

It came then as somewhat of a surprise that TCS got themselves in front with a goal of the simplest variety. Direct from what must have been their first corner of the match. 1-0 soon became 2-0 to the Children’s Society and their second goal was almost a carbon copy of their first.

Birkbeck were at sixes and sevens at the back and were left scratching their heads as they fell behind, lightening truly can strike twice. Despite these setbacks the boys in blue looked comfortable in possession and were always dangerous in attack. Paul Majewski soon reduced the arrears after firing low past the goalkeeper at his near post with his right foot. Game well and truly on.

Birkbeck continued to forward and were rewarded for their positive intent when Steven Jefferies turned home from close range. Chris Baker then spurned a golden chance to put BBK FC in front when he managed to side foot the ball an inch over the bar when a third goal looked inevitable. It was a real shame as it would’ve capped a flowing attacking move. Rob Carter did really well down the left wing and cut the ball back perfectly into the path of the onrushing Baker but he could not apply the necessary finish.

TCS were clearly rocked by this turnaround but it did stop them scoring their third goal from yet another corner. It was a decent cross into the box but their giant midfielder didn’t have to do much to get a free header and promptly buried his effort into the top corner. 2-3 at HT to TCS.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first. Birkbeck looking decent on the ball but TCS always posing a threat on the counter attack. It must be said that a makeshift back line of Matthew J, Alex & Chris E stuck manfully to their task & were a good unit from open play. Jack Cain also made a number of good saves as TCS looked to test him from distance. Krish also filled in well when called upon as our rolling sub.

At the other end it was a case of deja vu with Carter, Majewski, Baker & Boyd linking up nicely but the final ball/shot just wasn’t quite there. Paul hit the outside of the post on a couple of occasions. Matt B almost found the top corner with a curling left footed effort from the edge of the box. Baker again fired over when well placed and should’ve done better. While Jefferies and Carter were unfortunate not to get on the end of a couple of crosses.

You were beginning to wonder if it would be Birkbeck’s day but at the moment Mawjewski finally displayed the calmness and composure that had generally being lacking in front of goal. The striker shifted the ball onto his left foot and made no mistake 3-3! At this point there only looked to be one winner and the boys in blue thought they’d won it when Mawjewski & Baker combined with a neat one-two that set the latter through on goal. This time Chris made no mistake slotting the ball home off the inside of the post.

The celebrations were a mixture of joy and relief that finally they had taken one of their numerous and this time it would be decisive. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as TCS’ star player produced a moment of individual magic. After hurdling a couple of challenges he let fly with his left foot and found the top corner. BBK FC will be disappointed that they allowed him to get a shot away with so little pressure on the ball. Take nothing away from the strike though it was a superb shot that gave Jack Cain absolutely no chance whatsoever 4-4.

If Birkbeck were crestfallen at having being pegged back so late in the game they would be left devastated at what was to follow. In the dying embers of the contest a hopeful low cross from the left wing evaded the grasp of Cain and fell into the lap of the TCS forward, who couldn’t believe his luck and he rolled the ball in. 4-5 FT.

This defeat will hurt for some time and the nature of the loss will sting but if they play like this more often they will win more than they lose from now until the end of the season.

http://thebluefury.blogspot.co.uk/

My Euro’s – Part 2 by Dunstan Bentley

Which games did you go to?

France vs Romania in the opening game.

Fan Park for the Saturday Games (Albania 0 Switzerland 1, Wales 2 Slovakia 1 England 1 Russia 1)

Where did you stay?
Hotel in Montmartre – near the Moulin Rouge so quite lively. No trouble to be seen anywhere
Best players you saw on the day?
Dimitri Payet by a mile in the opening gamer – . His finish for the winner was nothing short of top class.
Kante was industrious and Pogba played some lovely balls through the midfield.
Romania were not there to make up the numbers- impressive at times and targeted Patrick Evra and often got behind him. Their crossing however was appalling but they were a tough team to break down.

Matchday/fanzone/stadium experience?
Heavy security presence but easy enough to get in. It was well run
We were in Corp Hosp which was outstanding – decent food and beer. Well organised and we all got a football to take home with us!
Fanzone was excellent and again well patrolled – Huge screen with Eiffel Tower in background. Lots of different groups mingling together – The Swedes Irish and Croats were having a rare old time together. English were decent by and large. A couple of dickheads fronted up having had two much beer but that was it. Great natured and a great place to watch Football
Overall thoughts and memories on your trip/tournament as a whole?

The tournament will be mainly known for the exploits of the minnows. Wales and Iceland won the hearts of fans everywhere. Albania getting their first win.
By and large the tournament was disappointing and this was typified by Portugal winning the whole tournament having only won one game in 90 minutes

Dunstan Bentley

Premier League Predictions 2015-2016

Is it that time of year again already? But before embarking on my latest predictions I wanted to see how I did last time out.

My prediction How they finished
1.       Chelsea 1.       Chelsea
2.       Man City 2.       Man City
3.       Arsenal 3.       Arsenal
4.       Liverpool (-2) 4.       Man Utd
5.       Man Utd (+1) 5.       Spurs
6.       Spurs (+1) 6.       Liverpool
7.       Everton (-5) 7.       Southampton
8.       Newcastle (-7) 8.       Swansea
9.       Stoke 9.       Stoke
10.   Southampton (+3) 10.   Palace
11.   Swansea (+3) 11.   Everton
12.   Palace (+2) 12.   West Ham
13.   Hull (-5) 13.   WBA
14.   West Ham (+2) 14.   Leicester
15.   QPR (-5) 15.   Newcastle
16.   Villa (-1) 16.   Sunderland
17.   Sunderland (+1) 17.   Villa
18.   WBA (+5) 18.   Hull
19.   Leicester (+5) 19.   Burnley
20.   Burnley (-1) 20.   QPR

So only 4 correct out of 20 which doesn’t seem great. I will take partial credit for Burnley as they did still get relegated. The top 3 seemed pretty predictable to me and getting Stoke’s placing right was pleasing. I’m also very happy to see that my beloved Tottenham Hotspur exceeded my expectations (it’s a rare occurrence). Even if in reality it didn’t make much real difference it’s still nice to finish above Liverpool and I’m sure Pochettino was glad to finish two clear of his former club Southampton. I suppose all these predictions illustrate is beyond the top 6 clubs how tight and therefore unpredictable the rest of the division is and I’m sure this campaign will be no different.

Anywho let’s move on to 2015-2016…

  1. Chelsea
  2. Man City
  3. Man Utd
  4. Arsenal
  5. Liverpool
  6. Spurs
  7. Southampton
  8. Everton
  9. Stoke
  10. Palace
  11. Swansea
  12. West Ham
  13. Newcastle
  14. WBA
  15. Sunderland
  16. Villa
  17. Leicester
  18. Bournemouth
  19. Watford
  20. Norwich

 

Women’s Sports Progress in the Middle East

Women in the Middle East and Sport are not things that you would normally suggest are inextricably linked but perhaps things are beginning to change in this part of the world?

Females across the globe encounter many boundaries in terms of their access to sport but is there a region that has more cultural and social obstacles that must be hurdled?

There is still a long way to go as these examples will show.

As recently as February 2014, four members of the Iranian women’s national football team were found to actually be men. Even more incredibly, these four individuals will be allowed to re-join the side once they have had their sex change operations. Despite the fact that homosexuality and sex before marriage are illegal in the Islamic state. Random testing now regularly occurs at clubs and subsequently seven other players have been banned.

Iran’s deputy minister for sport has only just overturned a long-standing stadium ban on women attending sporting events nevermind actually participating in the action on the field of play. This issue was brought to the attention of the international media when a woman was jailed for five months in Tehran for the heinous crime of attempting to attend a volleyball match, worse still it was a men’s game.

So what is being done to combat these roadblocks? Well, the governments in the region are concerned about the rising obesity and diabetes rates, with the figures relating to females particularly alarming. Introducing physical education into the compulsory part of the curriculum is seen as a means of tackling this worrying trend.

Football is leading the way in the advancement of women’s sport in the Middle East. The amount of sport, especially football that is shown on television has definitely increased interest and awareness. The West Asian Football Federation Championship sometimes known simply as the WAFF Championship, that was introduced to women’s football in 2005 is seen as a tremendous step forward. Qatar, Syria, Palestine, UAE, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria have all competed, which given the other difficulties these nations have had/currently face this makes it all the more remarkable.

Women’s basketball teams from the Middle East have sporadically competed in the FIBA Asia Championship but participation has been on an upward curve. The contentious issue of female player’s wearing a hijab while playing continues to be problematic and prohibitive. Football’s governing body FIFA, overturning a ban on the hijab in 2012 is a step in the right direction but other sporting association’s not following suit is less than helpful.

The wealthy Middle Eastern elite are seeing the benefits of girls playing sports as they become more exposed to the rest of the world through travelling and residing in other countries. Numerous university studies have illustrated that women who regularly participate in sport generally are more successful at school and then at work. They also exhibit greater self-confidence and levels of competiveness. Of course, there is traditional resistance to what is seen as the infiltration of Western ideas and ideals into Middle Eastern culture. But you only have to look at the success of multinational fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King in the region to see that it is very possible.

It seems only a matter of time before women and men compete on a level playing field in the Middle East. External pressure, globalisation and a young population are all contributing factors to this seemingly unstoppable progression. With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar fast approaching this area of the world will want to be seen as diverse, open minded, welcoming and tolerant.

http://www.myfootballfacts.com/Article_Womens_Sports_Progress.html

2014-2015 Premier League Predictions

1st Chelsea: Just when you thought there was been a bit of a changing of the guard this summer at Stamford Bridge with Ashley Cole & Frank Lampard moving on they resigned Didier Drogba as a player-coach. That said the west Londoners have had an excellent transfer window, despite selling Romelu Lukaku. The ridiculous fee received from PSG for David Luiz has been reinvested wisely. Fabregas will be looking to prove a point after being allowed to leave his hometown club and will immediately inject creativity and goals from midfield. Filipe Luis looks a more than adequate replacement for Cole albeit a bit overpriced for a 29 year-old. Mourinho will be looking to see more consistency from Oscar this season.

Key man: Diego Costa – As Jose Mourinho was very keen to point out at every opportunity, all that Blues lacked was a top class forward. Chelsea fans will hope that the Brazilian born Spain forward can continue his Atletico goalscoring record and be filed alongside Drogba, Zola & Hasselbaink rather than Torres, Shevchenko and Kezman.

2nd Manchester City: The Mancunians can still boast the strongest squad in the division but with the injury to Alvaro Negredo and Aguero’s ongoing fitness issues City look a little bit short upfront at present. Stevan Jovetic has looked extremely sharp in preseason and if he can carry that form into the Premier League then Pellegrini may not feel the need to add to his striking options. Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero and Fernando have added even further depth to a world class group, it will be interesting to see if Frank Lampard has been brought in literally just to make up the numbers or not. Hopefully Yaya Toure has gotten over his birthday cake tantrum and concentrate on being one of the best footballers on the planet, in full flight the Ivorian is simply majestic.

Key man: Sergio Aguero – while Yaya Toure & Vincent Kompany remain the heartbeat of this side, City will need Kün fit and firing if the Citizens are to retain their Premier League title. Aguero is the most complete striker in the division, a great goalscorer and a scorer of great goals who also possesses the knack of delivering when his side need him the most. His injury troubles will be a worry, as he really didn’t do himself justice at the World Cup.

3rd Arsenal: This summer has been a very different one as far as Arsenal supporters are concerned, with Arsene Wenger identifying and then crucially, recruiting players in key positions. David Ospina, Mathieu Debauchy and Callum Chambers have immediately added quality and depth to the squad while Alexis Sanchez is the marquee purchase that has set pulses racing as Mesut Özil did last year. The importance of May’s FA Cup win cannot be underestimated, at 2-0 down after eight minutes the Gooners were staring catastrophe in the face and Wenger’s tenure at the helm would surely have been at end had Hull held onto an unlikely victory. As it was the burden has finally been lifted and the self-belief gained from the win will give the North Londoners confidence that they can compete for trophies this season.

Key man: Alexis Sanchez – while the fitness of Aaron Ramsey will be crucial to whether a challenge for the league can be maintained the Chilean signed from Barcelona is the world-class forward that was sorely lacking last term. Alexis, as he prefers to be known, has the ability to get the best out of those around him, only Barcelona could deem a man of his talent’s surplus to requirements. Their loss is certainly Arsenal’s gain.

4th Liverpool: It was a case of so near yet so far Brendan Rodgers’ men but a second place finish was an outstanding achievement that will be hard to beat/repeat this campaign. The scousers demonstrated at the beginning of last season that they can cope without Luis Suarez but it would be foolish to suggest that any team wouldn’t miss a player of his mercurial albeit controversial talents. Rodgers has made some excellent signings; Lovren and Lallana should slip straight into the starting eleven and make a positive contribution. The Croatian centre back in particular will improve a back four that conceded too many goals and form a solid partnership with Martin Skrtel. Liverpool will face a real fight for a top four spot this season with their great rivals Manchester United and Everton as well as Spurs but a real fear factor has returned to Anfield and that will be critical. The Reds have the ability to take games away from their opponents very quickly and not many of the top seven or eight sides can say the same. Success in cup competitions seems like a good bet.

Key man: Rickie Lambert – the homecoming of the local boy done good seems like a fitting finale to his fairytale career but this technically excellent footballer is patronised enough by the mass media. He has been brought to the club because they feel he can contribute not because of some misplaced sentiment. Rickie will be expected to share the goalscoring burden with the rather injury prone Danny Sturridge unless a big name centre forward (like Cavani, Falcao or Balotelli) is signed before the end of the transfer window.

5th Manchester United: Some have suggested that Louis Van Gaal will wave his magic wand and the Red Devils will stroll procession like back into ‘rightful’ place back in the top four this season with maybe an outside chance of regaining their Premier League crown – these predictions are wide of the mark. This is a side that has lost the experience and ability of Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra and Giggs – these are characters that will be very difficult to nigh on impossible to replace. A back three on a regular basis of Evans, Smalling and Jones does not scream Champions League qualification. Defensive reinforcements are very much needed. Rafael, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia look to have the attributes to be successful wing backs but don’t be surprised to see utility man Daley Blind come in as well as Marcus Rojo from Sporting Lisbon. The Reds will have the advantage that Liverpool enjoyed last year of not having European football to distract them. This will make Van Gaal’s life easier in terms of preparation and acclimatisation. United’s bumper sponsorship deal with Adidas may depend on Champions League football but the red half of Manchester will need to wait a little longer before returning to Europe’s top table.

Key man: Robin Van Persie – it’s no coincidence that when RVP was banging goals in United won the league and then when he was out injured for long periods last season they finished 7th. This is looking at David Moyes’ disastrous reign too simplistically but it does highlight how important the Dutchman is to the Red Devils cause.

6th Tottenham Hotspur: Despite only finishing three points off their record Premier League points tally, such were the expectations; last season was viewed (rightly) as a massive disappointment. Heavy and humiliating defeats were suffered far too frequently. In light of this Mauricio Pochettino has spent much of the summer focussing on defensive reinforcements which has seen Vorm, Ben Davies and Eric Dier brought in. However, the most significant bits of business done by the new Argentine Head Coach was to persuade Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen to stay. The former boss has been charged with getting the best out of the seven players purchased with the Gareth Bale money rather than making wholesale changes to the playing staff. A sixth place may not on the face of it appear obvious progress but if the White Hart Lane faithful can see improved performances, a side with a renewed sense of togetherness and fight alongside some cup runs then the majority will be happy. Whether Daniel Levy would agree remains to be seen.

Key man: Erik Lamela – Tottenham fans more than most love an ‘X’ factor player who can produce a moment of magic out of nowhere to decide a game. Obviously, they were spoilt with Gareth Bale but the majority of their rivals can boost at least one or two of these type of players. Christian Eriksen showed he can be that man but the Dane could desperately do with some assistance in the inspiration department.

7th Everton: Fans of the Toffees may be looking at this prediction with disbelief after pushing Arsenal all the way in pursuit of a top four finish last time out but I will attempt to justify my position. My judgement is based purely on numbers. Everton have the smallest squad of the top seven sides and Roberto Martinez will have to shuffle his pack on a regular basis with Europa League football to contend with. Everton’s best XI will be a match for any side in the division, particularly at Goodison Park but you worry for them if some of their key players are unavailable for any extended periods of the season due to injury or suspension. Such was their consistency and high quality of their football last season expectations will be higher than ever for the forthcoming season. Signing Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry permanently as well as retaining the services of Barkley, Baines, Coleman and Stones will have done nothing to dampen optimism.

Key man: Muhamed Besic – the Bosnian looked a class act at the World Cup in Brazil and will be hoping to add to what is already an exceptionally talented midfield. It looks like an inspired piece of Martinez that may prove to be the bargain of the season. On this subject, is there a more underrated player in the Premier League than James McCarthy?

8th Newcastle United: What will feature in the next exciting installment of the soap opera that is the Toon Army is anyone’s guess but as Sky Sports News (HQ) are so keen to tell us – no club has been busier in the transfer market than the Geordies. The renowned scouting skills of Graham Carr seem to have once again been put to good use as Siem de Jong, Remy Cabella, Daryl Janmaat all appear to be excellent purchases. Football Manger fans will sing the praises of Facundo Ferreyra and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the rigours of English football. Ayoze Perez and Emmanuel Riviere arrive with sizeable reputations from the continent and will need to deliver the goals that have departed in the form of Loic Remy. The departure of Mathieu Debauchy was not unexpected but is a blow nevertheless. Jack Colback making the move from Sunderland will certainly give the next derby match another spicy element.

Key man: Tempted to say Alan Pardew here, as Newcastle could do without their manager making the headlines this season. A return to form for Cheick Tiote wouldn’t go a miss – assuming Arsenal don’t try to poach him, the combative (to say the least) midfielder can be a dominant force in the centre of the park when he is on song.

9th Stoke City: The perpetually grumpy Mark Hughes really didn’t get the credit he deserved last season, guiding Stoke to an excellent league position while also evolving the playing style at the Britannia Stadium. As was the case last summer, Sparky has done some great work in the transfer market bringing in experienced campaigners Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell while Mame Biram Diouf will be wanting to show what he is all about after a disappointing spell at Old Trafford. This is not to forget the box-office addition of Bojan Krkic from Barcelona which is a major coup for the Potters. Perhaps Hughes’ biggest challenge this year will be to ensure that Stoke retain their defensive solidity which has been the basis for their success in the top flight while accommodating their new attacking talent. With the departures of Matthew Etherington and Michael Kightly the squad is lacking a winger or two which is something chairman Peter Coates may wish to remedy in the next couple of weeks, the transfer of Oussama Assaidi from Liverpool remains a work in progress. Getting in Victor Moses in on loan from Chelsea has partly addressed this requirement, the Nigerian will provide pace and directness in wide areas

Key man: Marko Arnautovic – Stoke have always been known for their effectiveness rather unpredictably, fortunately the young Austrian provides much needed improvisation into the City attack. After a promising debut season in English football Mark Hughes will be hoping that Arnautovic can add consistency to his extensive repertoire of skills.

10th Southampton: The firesale at St.Mary’s has been very well documented and it is hard not to have sympathy for Saints fans & new manager Ronald Koeman. It may well get worse before it gets better with Jack Cork, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez strongly linked with moves away. Ryan Bertrand, Fraser Forster, Saphir Taider and the Shane Long are all sensible acquisitions. Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic have been recruited from Eredivisie and it would be unwise to question Koeman’s judgement of two players he is well aware of. The Schneiderlin saga is rather unsavoury and needs to be resolved sooner rather than later for the benefit of all parties concerned; it is something that Southampton could well do without after a summer of upheaval. Given the circumstances, a top 10 finish would definitely represent a successful season.

Key man: James Ward-Prowse – another product from the conveyor belt of talent at the Saints Academy (as the cliché goes) will be keen to show there is plenty of life after Shaw, Lallana and Lambert et al. The set-piece specialist possesses wonderful ball striking ability. Southampton may well have another England international on their books before too long if he continues to develop at the same rate.

11th Swansea City: If I was a Swansea supporter I would be concerned. Key players Michu, Michel Vorm, Pablo Hernandez, Chico Flores and Ben Davies have all departed for pastures new and if Wilfried Bony follows them through the exit door of the Liberty Stadium then I think their Premier League status is in serious jeopardy. Garry Monk obviously lacks managerial experience but has shown himself to be an intelligent tactician who understands his players and the ethos of the club intimately during his tenure. Monk will be hoping that Lukasz Fabianksi, Bafetimbi Gomis, Jefferson Montero and Gylfi Sigurdsson all hit the ground running. With the exception of Bony the current squad looks short of goals. While the Europa League adventure was an excellent experience for the club last year, playing fewer matches this time around won’t do the Welsh side any harm at all. The Jacks could do with varying their tactics at times in 2014/2015, while their football is always pleasing on the eye their Premier League rivals now know what to expect and set up against it accordingly.

Key man: Wilfried Bony – eyebrows were certainly raised when £12m was spent to bring the Ivorian to south Wales from Vitesse Arnhem but the centre forward quickly justified that price tag with plenty of goals last season.

12th Crystal Palace: Tony Pulis’ sudden departure just two days before the start of season is horrible timing, as all of the preseason preparation may go out of the window depending on who the new manager is. Plenty of names are currently in the frame for the Selhurst Park hotset but I thought Malky MacKay taking over would be a sensible appointment (how wrong can you be?!). Palace are seemingly no closer to finding a new manager at this moment in time. The impact Pulis had last season cannot be underestimated and all the stats illustrate his positive influence on the club. His successor’s main priority will to be ensure that all of the positive momentum gathered in the last six months or so is not wasted with a poor start to the campaign. Back to matters on the pitch, Brede Hangeland on a free transfer from Fulham is an astute signing and will bolster a solid defensive unit that is excellently marshalled by the consistently impressive Julian Speroni. If Martin Kelly can keep himself fit he should also be a decent addition. Fraizer Campbell will add enthusiasm to the Palace attack but will need to improve his goals to games ratio. Palace fans will hope that there are at least three teams that are worse than them come May 2015.

Key man: Jason Puncheon – was the stand out performer for the South Londoners adding some spark to a well drilled outfit. After a rather nomadic career to date Puncheon finally seems to have found a home in SE25, if the midfielder can carry on from where he left off last term that will go along way to ensuring Palace’s Premier League survival.

13th Hull City: Steve Bruce can be well satisfied with his work so far in the off season, despite the sale of Shane Long – which still represents a decent profit within 6 months.  The Tigers manager has been superbly backed in the transfer market with Jake Livermore, Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince making the move to the KC Stadium. Bruce will however look to recruit another striker before the end of the window to soften the blow of Long’s departure as Matty Fryatt has also moved on. This places a lot of the goalscoring responsibility on the shoulders of Nikica Jelavic, who’s form has been streaky at best in the last two seasons. Youngsters Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson come with good reputations from the Championship and the Scottish Premier League respectively. How seriously Hull take their first campaign in Europe may ultimately determine where they finish in the Premier League but with the likes of Tom Huddlestone in the side they have more than enough to survive and comfortably so.

Key man: Curtis Davies – you suspect if the former Birmingham City defender played for a more ‘fashionable’ club he would have been in the England World Cup squad. The centre back was outstanding last season and seems to have really matured as a player. Davies has become a real leader and if he can maintain his levels of performance it will be very difficult for Roy Hodgson to continue to overlook him.

14th West Ham United: Big Sam has been told to bring ‘sexy’ football back to Upton Park in no uncertain terms by co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan but can a leopard really change its spots? Allardyce is a pragmatist and makes no apologies for his uncompromising style which clearly gets results. Teddy Sheringham has been drafted in to work with the strikers and there are a few new ones on the books with Mauro Zarate, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho brought in to bolster a forward line that previously consisted of the permanently crocked Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole. Diego Poyet, Cheikhou Kouyate, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Cresswell point towards a renewed emphasis on youth over experience this season. Ravel Morrison’s future and general conduct will continue to be an interesting sub plot; the manager and the board are clearly at odds about what to do with the exceptionally talented but unruly individual. Anything less than a top 10 finish will be considered a disappointment so it is difficult to see Allardyce still being manager by the time the Hammers move into the Olympic Stadium.

Key man: Winston Reid – If West Ham are to be a more attacking side this season it will be imperative that they retain their excellent defensive record and Reid is essential to that. The New Zealander has developed into an accomplished Premier League centre back who forms a good partnership with either James Collins or James Tomkins.

15th QPR: ‘Arry wanted to tell anyone that would listen that “lessons had been learnt” from Rangers’ last spell in England’s top division but then signed 35 year old Rio Ferdinand from Manchester United on a free transfer, a classic Redknapp bargain. The QPR manager has also picked up Steven Caulker & Jordon Mutch from relegated Cardiff City who were standout performers for the Welsh side last season and will make positive contributions to the cause. The signing of Mauricio Isla has seemingly gone under the radar but is a fantastic loan signing perhaps one of the best moves of the summer. The versatile Chilean international was an integral part of the impressive run to the last 16 of the World Cup. The signings of Eduardo Vargas and Leroy Fer confirmed that QPR have good strength with the required depth to compete at this level. The addition of Glenn Hoddle may yet prove to be most influential to the set up at Loftus Road as Redknapp wishes to implement a 3-5-2 formation this season.

Key man: Steven Caulker – a tight defence seems to be the priority for the R’s and the former Tottenham centre half will be key to that. Caulker really benefitted from regular first team football at Cardiff as well as the added responsibility of being captain. Steven will feel that Gary Cahill’s central defensive partner spot for England is up for grabs and learning day-to-day from Rio Ferdinand there is no reason why Caulker can’t stake a claim for it.

16th Aston Villa: How Paul Lambert reintegrates the disguarded older players back into the first team picture will be interesting to see. The simplistic way of looking at it is that no-one was prepared to match the wages of Alan Hutton, Charles N’Zogbia, Shay Given or Darren Bent and that the players were unwilling to accept less lucrative contracts elsewhere. Whatever the truth of the matter is, if Lambert can’t get rid of these guys then he might as well use them. With that in mind there has been a clear shift at Villa Park with experience now being preferred to youth with wily old pros Philippe Senderos, Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson and Aly Cissokho brought in. Oddly, the injury to Christian Benteke has been a blessing disguise, if the Belgian had stayed fit and done well at the World Cup the Villa would’ve faced a real battle to keep hold of the powerful striker. As it is other clubs will wait and see how he recovers from his Achilles injury before perhaps rekindling their interest in January 2015. If things don’t go well expect to see Roy Keane being promoted from no.2 to no.1 pretty quickly.

Key man: Fabian Delph – last season the aggressive midfielder reminded people of what made him so highly rated when he burst onto the scene at Leeds United as a teenager. Delph’s partnership with Kieran Westwood could really blossom this season if both players continue to progress.

17th Sunderland: Despite masterminding a great escape Gus Poyet has had to deal with a number of important first team players leaving and the ongoing pursuit of Fabio Borini coming to nothing so far. Poyet has raided his old club Brighton again to bring Will Buckley to Wearside and will hope that he can make the step up to Premier League level more quickly than Liam Bridcutt has done. Jordi Gomez will add a touch of class to the midfield while the signings of Patrick van Aanholt, Billy Jones and Costel Pantilimon are decent buys in positions that needed strengthening. If and this is a pretty big if given his injury record Jack Rodwell can string a run of games together then the Black Cats have a more than capable two-footed box-to-box midfielder to call upon. Retaining the services of Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher will be essential as this looks like a team that won’t be scoring a shed load of goals. If Borini thinks that sitting on the bench at Anfield is a better option than playing regularly, then more fool him and Sunderland supporters will trust that Poyet has a backup option up his sleeve.

Key man: Sebastian Larsson – I was tempted to go for Adam Johnson here but it appears highly unlikely that the England winger has the ability to consistently produce his best level of performance. The Swedish set piece take on the other hand is a very important part of the side and his crossing ability will be crucial to ensure that the Sunderland striker’s get the service that they require.

18th West Bromwich Albion: The appointment of David Moyes’ former right hand man Alan Irvine was greeted with a rather underwhelming feeling from Baggies fans. Irvine’s admission that he didn’t know a great deal about club record signing Brown Ideye was rather alarmingly. The other major recruits he will be well aware of. Craig Gardner, Joleon Lescott, Andre Wisdom and Chris Baird are players who will fit in well with a hard working squad. The departure of promising youngster George Thorne to midlands rivals Derby County was certainly a blow but one that will be overcome. West Brom have used the loan market well in recent years and you suspect that it will be an avenue that Irvine will be exploring before the transfer window closes at 11pm on 1st September 2014. My major concerns for the Albion are based upon a rather goal shy strikeforce and the fact that they have developed a rather nasty habit, particularly at The Hawthorns of playing pretty well but then either losing or drawing.

Key man: Saido Berahino – while it appears that he may not be the most popular man in the West Brom dressing room amid rumours that he let his bumper new contract go to his head. The striker is a real livewire who causes problems with his pace and direct style of play. Berahino adds a rather maverick edge to a workmanlike side.

19th Leicester City: Teams who have taken the Championship by storm have tended to struggle after promotion in recent years and I think the Foxes will be no exception. Perhaps teams’ problems are caused by placing too much faith in the players that did so well the previous season. Leicester’s signings are all Championship players which is perhaps a bit harsh on Marc Albrighton but certainly applies these days to Ben Hamer, Matthew Upson and Leonardo Ulloa. The arrival of Esteban Cambiasso would add a bit of international glamour and a wealth of top level experience to proceedings at the King Power Stadium. Like any newly promoted side City will sink or swim based on their home form. The Leicester fans will definitely relish their return to top flight and generate a great atmosphere. Nigel Pearson comes across as a down to earth kind of guy but you fear for him if results aren’t forthcoming as the Foxes’ ambitious owners may feel that a more experienced/bigger name is required to keep them in the division – remember how well Sven did?

Key man: Leonardo Ulloa – assuming David Nugent doesn’t come good at Premier League level it will be down to the former Brighton hitman to score the goals necessary to keep Leicester in the top division.

20th Burnley: Despite possessing the manager with the deepest voice in football in Sean Dyche, it is impossible to look past Burnley as certainties for relegation. I did however feel exactly the same about Crystal Palace last season, so there is hope. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with the signings of Stephen Ward, Steven Reid, Marvin Sordell, Matt Gilks, Michael Kightly, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Matt Taylor (who I’m surprised West Ham let go) they are all signings with half an eye on winning promotion next season in order to bounce straight back. The Clarets have been refreshingly prudent with their spending as you only have to look at the likes of Blackpool to see how quickly things can unravel after overspending in the Premier League. I expect Burnley to be competitive and they won’t be anyone’s whipping boys a la Derby County a few years ago. They were undone under Owen Coyle for being too open and expansive last time out so expect Dyche to be more pragamatic in his approach. Teams will not relish a visit to Turf Moor, commentators and pundits alike will delight in telling you that Burnley is the smallest town to be home to a Premier League club.

Key man: Danny Ings – at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the importance of goalscorers in the Premier League cannot be overstated. If Burnley are to have any chance of staying up Ings and Vokes must continue their exploits against some of the world’s best defenders and Chris Smalling.

End of term report

Welcome along to my first blog post, it certainly has been a long time in coming. Seeing as Tim Sherwood described himself as a supply teacher I thought what better way to look back at the performance of the Tottenham Hotspur FC squad for the 2013/2014 season, than in the style of a school report. In many ways the last campaign was one of the most depressing and humiliating I can remember since I started supporting Spurs in 1994. The expectations were so high, despite the sale of Gareth Bale and there was a real sense that this group of player’s could do something special after a promising first season in charge for AVB. Sadly we all know what happened next…

Hugo LlorisA+: You really do wonder where we would have been last season without the heroics of our eccentric French goalkeeper. In far too many matches it was hard not to feel sorry for Hugo with the chaos going on in front of him. Hopefully FFP can keep him out of PSG’s clutches. Stay (please).

Brad Friedel – B: The consummate professional who was as reliable as ever last season. The veteran American produced some solid displays when called upon. Stay (or become one of the coaching staff).

Kyle WalkerC: It was an inconsistent and injury hit campaign for the young England right back it seems to be a case of two steps forward and then one step back. Walker must improve his positioning, concentration and crossing next term. Stay.

Kyle NaughtonD: Actually improved as the season went on (it would have been hard to get worse, mind you) and when he played in his natural position. It says a lot about Rose’s performances that Naughton wasn’t our weakest link towards the end of the season. Simply not good enough for a team with our ambitions. Go.

Michael DawsonC: It is difficult to be too critical of a guy who always gives 100% and clearly genuinely cares about the club, which certainly can’t be said for many of his teammates, but his limitations were brutally exploited last season. Whenever he is faced with a striker of genuine class, pace and trickery he looks all at sea. As was the case with AVB you feel Daws will have to prove himself to the new manager. Stay (unless we can get a suitable replacement).

Jan VertonghenC-: Easily one of the most talented members of the current playing squad, however, his attitude and performances left a lot to be desired. Looked like he would rather be elsewhere for most of the season. Perhaps de Boer can give him the captaincy and convince him to stick around. Stay (but only if he really wants to!)

Younes KaboulC: Seeing the big French centre back playing at all/more regularly was a welcome sight for all Spurs supporters (I feared he was going to become the new Ledley King in terms of injuries). His displays were a bit up and down but if he can keep himself fit and rediscover his form from a couple of years ago we will have a defender that is as as good as any in the division. Stay.

Vlad ChirichesB+: The media continually slagged off our seven summer signings with the exception of the mercurial Eriksen but they were overlooking the Romanian defender who was very impressive at times. His performance in our second away win on the trot at Old Trafford was outstanding. He’ll certainly be much better for the experience come August. If he continues to develop he could be at the heart of our defence for years to come as long as he cuts out the occasional lapses. Too casual for his own good at times. Stay.

Danny RoseE: Had such a big chance to be the answer to our problematic left back position after an encouraging loan spell at Sunderland but I think it is safe to say that he blew that opportunity. Defensively he is massively suspect – constantly out of position and has a bad habit of recklessly diving in all the time. Tim Sherwood thought he could become the new Ashley Cole, Daniel Levy would probably still rather get the original on a free transfer this summer. Go!

Zeki FryersC: Is a bit rough around the edges but there is certainly the makings of a decent player there. Looked more able at left back than Rose at times, oddly his best performance was probably in a makeshift back four alongside Sandro at centre back away against Benfica. Stay (but he may end up being loaned out).

Aaron LennonD-: I’ve always been a great defender and believer in Azza but I think the time has finally come to let the jet-heeled winger move on. He hasn’t got any better since he broke into the team as a teenager. Nowhere near enough goals or assists for someone with his ability. Lennon probably has the worst positional sense of any winger in the Premier League – can’t he just watch a video of Ribery, Robben – or even Raheem Sterling? We might as well cash in on him this summer while he still has a decent market value. He is much more of a team player these days and has upped his work rate immensely but that doesn’t really justify him playing every week. Go (sadly).

Andros Townsend – C: A season of two halves? Up until he got injured against West Ham in December, Andros was the hot new kid on the block (certainly when he wore an England shirt at least). I think most people would concede that his injury against Stoke probably spared his blushes from being omitted from the World Cup squad, although Hodgson is a big fan and owes him one. Premier League defences began to work Townsend out so he will need to get himself fit and look to vary his game more. He has enormous potential and will have learnt a lot in the last twelve months. Stay (dependent on who we sign and the amount of interest in him).

SandroB: The Beast is as popular as ever and must have been devastated (like every other decent Brazilian) to have missed out on the greatest sporting event on Earth in his homeland this summer. The Spurs team usually looks better and more solid whenever he plays. As can be said for many of his colleagues, he needs to keep himself fit and get a run of games together. Will be more pleased than most to see the back of Tim. His wonder goal against Man Utd will live long in the memory. Stay.

PaulinhoC+: Such were the expectations after the Confederations Cup many Spurs fans might think I’m being a bit generous with my grade here. It was nice to have a central midfielder who can actually time his runs into the box and look a threat. It’s fair to say he hasn’t always looked completely committed to the cause since Andre left (as demonstrated by the Stewart Downing freekick debacle) but if the new manager can work out where they want him to play and how to get the best out of him, as Scolari has done, then we might get to see the same player that dominates games for Brazil. At present he doesn’t look capable of playing as part of a central midfield two in a 4-4-2 formation. Stay (unless Chelsea want him as part of a deal for Lukaku).

Etienne CapoueE+: If you’re anything like me you might have been forgiven for thinking that we had signed the new Yaya Toure or (say it quietly) Patrick Vieira, after watching his cameo against Crystal Palace on the opening day of last season. He looked full of energy and capable of controlling the midfield area. Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got as he looked like he was wading through treacle for the rest of the season. If he can shake of the niggling ankle complaints, he most definitely has the physique and technique to thrive in Premier League. Stay (until January at least – but you’d hardly notice if he did go).

Mousa DembeleC: Mousa is a bit of a conundrum – at his best he is majestic and bullies the opposition into submission, at his worse he looks lumbering and ponderous. Dembele must be allowed to play as a box-to-box player as he never looks entirely comfortable when restricted to a solely defensive midfield role. As Gary Neville will tell you when the Belgian and Sandro were partnered together at the start of the 2012/2013 season they were as good together as any in the league. Needs to produce his best more regularly. Also for a guy with a left foot like a traction engine he should shoot a bit more. Stay.

Gylfi SigurdssonC: Like so many members of the squad, last season was a bit of a mixed bag for the Icelander. He started off the season very well when he was swapping positions with Christian Eriksen and was scoring his fair share. His form then tailed off somewhat and he was in and out of the team through injury and team selection. Clearly a gifted footballer but you suspect that Sherwood’s successor may just see him as disposal player given the amount of midfielder’s we have that are similar to Gylfi. I’m sure he’d like to get a run of games in the number 10 position but that doesn’t look like happening. You can bet your life though that if he stay in England he’ll rediscover his Swansea loan form almost immediately. Go (but I’d have no problem with him staying).

Nacer ChadliC+: The newest of our our Belgian trio, the former FC Twente star played in all manner of roles – he was mildly effective in all of them at times. Certainly not a central midfield player despite being played there at the back end of the season. His physical presence made him a decent outlet when he played on the left wing or in behind the main striker. Highlights of his Spurs career so far, the two goals away against Benfica and his screamer at St.James’ Park. You feel however that he will be remembered most by the White Hart Lane faithful for failing to score against Arsenal after Sczenscy had dropped the ball at his feet. Go (but if he is kept he has shown enough glimpses to be a useful player for us in the future).

Christian EriksenA*: The young Dane certainly was a glimmer of light and hope in a campaign that had far too many moments of darkness. How we managed to sign this guy with so little competition (much like Lloris) is an absolute mystery to me. Has the hallmarks of being the new Luka Modric, even though he plays a lot higher up the pitch, in the sense that many of the big teams had a look at him but we were the only ones to take a punt on him. Costing only £11m he has proved to be a real bargain and has already repaid that transfer fee with his vital goals and assists. Whoever, our new ‘Head Coach’ is they will need to build the side around this guy. A real Spurs type of player – he is already idolised by the Spurs fans. Stay (let’s hope to God Real Madrid don’t renew our “special partnership” again).

Nabil BentalebB: The Algerian teenager will in all likelihood scarcely believe the progress he has made in such a short space of time. His debut away at Southampton was as accomplished as I can remember for such a young man. Unfortunately for Nabil he (unfairly) became inextricably linked to the Sherwood-era and suffered as a result. Looked completely out of his depth (unsuprisingly) against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City but there is no shame in that. Stay (but like Kane might benefit from a loan spell elsewhere in the Premier League to continue his development).

Erik LamelaC-: The less said the better about his first year in England? He’s gone from being a shoe-in for the Argentina World Cup squad and key player for Roma to an international man of mystery in North London. He has been rarely spotted since the start of 2014 and rumours have been aplenty about whether he was actually fit or not. Everything that could go wrong has done so far, surely it can only get better? right? There is a school of thought that his fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino could be the man to get the best out of him, only time will tell. Stay (if only to save face as he’s our record signing. A loan to a Spanish/Italian club won’t help him adapt to English football and will just turn him into the new Giovani Dos Santos). Stay.

Lewis HoltbyC+: If only this likeable young German was a popular with Tottenham manager’s as he is with the Tottenham fans. He is a passionate and able footballer that constantly reminds of a certain Rafa van der Vaart. Lewis demonstrated while on loan at Fulham that he is good enough to compete in the Premier League but with yet another change of management imminent he may fall into the Sigurdsson category of being a bit too much like Eriksen but not as good. Far too talented to be a perennial substitute or squad player. If we won’t play him we should set him free. Stay (I hope rather than expect).

Emmanuel AdebayorA+: I have slagged off Ade and wanted him to be sold probably more than any other Spurs striker that I can remember but this is because he is one of the most frustrating/infruriating footballers I can think of. On his day he is unstoppable, unplayable whatever way you want to describe it but these days are only when he chooses them. He was fantastic when recalled by Sherwood and it is no exaggeration to say that he saved our season. Stay (but he and the new manager may have other ideas).

Roberto SoldadoC-: See my report for Erik Lamela. How can Spurs sign ‘world class’ players and completely destroy their reputation and credibility so quickly?! At least he can take penalties. Stay (I have faith that if we play to his strengths that he can score lots of goals for us in 2014/2015).

Harry KaneB+: The new Teddy Sheringham? No, he isn’t but it is hard to argue that he hasn’t made an positive impression in his appearances. It is all the more worrying for Soldado that Kane looked far more lively and threatening than he did at the end of the campaign. It looks likely that we’ll sign another striker this summer but Harry could certainly do a job as an impact sub, especially if Roberto decides to head back to Spain. Stay (but depending on who we sign might benefit from a loan to another Premier League club, as long as he plays regularly).

Bit of a long blog to begin with but I hope you enjoyed it! Follow me on Twitter @CDBaker86.

Chris Baker

 

Birkbeck sign off in style!

Tuesday 23rd May 2017 1pm

Birkbeck 6-0 Bentham Academicals

Match reporter: Chris Baker

The boys in blue continued their good late season form into their final match of the campaign and romped to victory in emphatic style, notching a 6-0 victory of Bentham Academicals at Coram’s Fields on Thursday afternoon.

BBK FC were pretty dominant from the off and were able to name (virtually) the same starting team as they had done in their previous encounter with C&R2 which is pretty much unheard of this year. The only change being Rob Carter, kindly volunteering to don the gloves and famous yellow jersey, deputising in goal for the absent Jack Cain and Matthew Jayes, who were both unavailable.

In truth, Carter was very rarely troubled, if at all throughout the game but a warning shots was sent across the bows about 20 seconds into the match when Bentham Academicals best player hitting a stinging shot from almost the halfway line, that flew just over the bar. This was not, however, a sign of things to come.

All the positive aspects of the C&R2 performance were in evidence early on as Andi & Mark’s burgeoning defensive partnership was developing nicely and giving the team a solid foundation to base itself upon. Sam Keenan was winning all of the bits and pieces in front of the defence and starting many of the Birkbeck attacks with his driving dribbles from deep. Chris E and Matt B were giving the team good width on the flanks while Jefferies and Baker dovetailed neatly in attack, with one coming short to receive the ball with the other making runs in behind the opposition.

Baker it must be said had a number of presentable opportunities in the first half and his finishes were consistent – high, wide and not very handsome. The one shot that bucked this trend was a low curling effort that beat the keeper but didn’t beat the outside of the post, as it clipped the woodwork.

A goal for the Blue Fury looked likely with the Bloomsbury boys fashioning a number of chances and putting pressure on with corners but the opening goal was not immediately forthcoming. However, when it did arrive it came in spectacular fashion with Paul Majewski volleying in from the edge of the area after teeing himself up.

Once the opening goal had gone in the shackles were well and truly off this rejuvenated Birkbeck side and it was therefore no surprise when Sam Keenan swept home from just inside the box after Majewski had played the ball into his path.

2-0 at half-time and BBK FC were set fair for the second period. The start of the second half was all about focus and concentration, as a two-goal lead can become a precarious one if Birkbeck had given their opponents any reasons for optimism.

Fortunately, the boys in blue were steadfast in their determination to get the job done and finish their season off in a positive fashion.

Matt Boyd was the man to score the all-important third goal of the game, as he did in the last fixture and it was another poacher’s effort.

Alex nearly scored what would have been the goal of the season down at Coram’s Fields but sadly his left-footed shot from a tight angle hit the side netting after a sumptuous and flowing attacking move in which every player touched the ball.

Steven Jefferies was the next player to get his name on the scoresheet and he had been threatening to grab a goal from the outset of the game. Jefferies seized upon some hesitancy in the Bentham defence to finish with the outside of his right boot from close range.

The floodgates were open now and all the Birkbeck players sensed they’d have a chance to get in on the act and add to the rout. Shots were flying in from all angles and distances, with mixed success.

Majewski added to his tally with a fine left-footed drive following a precise cross from the left from Boyd.

The goalmouth action wasn’t confined to the Bentham Academicals penalty area though, far from it. As Rob Carter was preparing himself to take a goal kick one of the Bentham players decided that the ball was back in play (he was very much alone in this assumption) and kicked the ball into the net. He protested furiously when the goal wasn’t given much to the embarrassment of his teammates and opponents alike. It was a disappointing moment that soured a game that had been played, by and large in the appropriate spirit when you don’t have a referee present.

After that farcical and rather amusing aside there was still time for Birkbeck and Majewski to grab another goal. The final goal of the contest being very much an individual effort from Paul, dancing his way past some rather tired and desperate challenges before lashing the ball into the net.

6-0 at full time and nothing less than BBK FC deserved. If they can maintain their personnel and organisational discipline next season the future looks very promising indeed. Two clean sheets in a row is surely unheard of?! A clean sheet on debut as well for Rob Carter well go down in the annals of Birkbeck FC history.

Special thanks to Richard Throup for organising things and for Stephen Parrott for his efforts and musings on a match day.

Have a great summer everyone!

BBK FC: Carter (GK), Bailey, Schmidt (c); Keenan (1); Emmerson, Boyd (1); Baker; Jefferies (1). Subs: Alex and Paul (3).

3rd, 2nd…1st?

By Charles Richards / @spurs_report The Premier League is a show that never ends, and with the 2016/17 campaign done and dusted, attention moves immediately to 2017/18. While players enjoy a well-earned summer holiday (after the dreaded post-season tour), planning for the next campaign will intensify: the transfer market waits for no-one. For Spurs, after […]

via How do Spurs get better? — The Spurs Report

The trouble with Spurs…

Ten minutes after the final whistle on Sunday — with Spurs sealing 2nd place for the first time in the Premier League era and completing an unbeaten home campaign, four dozen footballing legends ready to lead a grand farewell to one of the English football’s most famous old stages, and thousands of fans invading the […]

via Sky Sports and the problem with Spurs — The Spurs Report