Category Archives: Premiership angle
Leeds United and Nottingham Forest look set for a three-way transfer tussle along with Hull City over Reading FC striker Adam Le Fondre (formerly of Rotherham United, Rochdale FC and Stockport County). ALF will surely plunder plenty more in the Championship, after a scoring for fun in the Football League with the Millers, The Dale and the Hatters, his home-town club. United and Forest are favourites to go up next season and, even though Reading are in no rush to sell, they will surely accept a handsome return on their £350,000 investment, should a bidding war take place.
Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.
Glenville Adam James le Fondre, aka ALF, has proved to be a goal machine at every level he has played at, poaching 146 goals from 360 games in all competitions. These are the kind of stats that are interesting more than just Billy Davies and Brian McDermott, managing two of the favourites to go up next season, with newly promoted Hull City also sniffing around. ALF got 14 last season in all competitions and was signed by Mr McDermott along with Matt Mills, now at Bolton, who is another target. McDermott knows the Royals inside out, after being unjustly sacked last February, so he will be doubly keen to plunder the side he built.
Le Fondre is the diminutive fox in the box. He started just 14 games last term, coming from the bench in the other 23 games, but still managed to notch 12 Premiership and 2 FA Cup goals. He got 4 braces, against Everton, Crawley, Newcastle and Chelsea, the latter two coming as a 69th and 65th minute substitute respectively. In 2011/12 he bagged 4 goals in 5 for the Millers, scored on his Reading debut against Doncaster (again as a sub), before finishing on 16 for the season from 22 starts (15 sub). ALF destroyed League 2 with 27 goals for the Millers in 2010/11 and 30 in 2009/10. The season before saw 20 for Rochdale, with 16 the season before that.
As an Imp fan, he was a killer, a constant thorn in our side, yet beyond our reach on a four figure a week wage. He had the tricks of the trade alright, but his first touch, poaching instincts and ability to take it in his stride, or get a clean shot off, was obvious. An all-round awesome predator, he nearly always scored against us, ALF looked destined to play higher and, despite not being the fastest or strongest of adversaries, he has already attracted £200,000 in officially undisclosed transfer fees courtesy of the Dale and The Millers. He can lay on a goal or two but a true striker has to have a selfishness, it makes them what they are, goals after all are the stock-in-trade. It was of no surprise to see him instantly click despite a two league jump, when the Millers sold him to Reading.
The chances are he will finally net the 7 figure fee his talent deserves. But this is a small price to pay for someone, who, if he starts every game as he should, has the pedigree to get the 20 odd-goals that would prove to be the Edge for Leeds or Forest. Then of course there is the not to small a matter of the mega money the Premiership will guarantee.
The Stoke City job appears to be going to former Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, QPR and Fulham boss Mark Hughes, although Roberto Di Matteo (who has managed MK Dons, WBA and Chelsea FC) looks to be the latest of the ex-Chelsea contingent (Gus Poyet has been approached too) to be linked with one of the Premiership’s toughest asks. Chelsea charm comes with cash, whilst Stoke’s Premiership lineage has been forged as much through perspiration as inspiration. Pulis power is about physical prowess, under him the realism of the artisan’s toil, reaps hard won returns and the reliability of regular rewards. But that is not enough for some, who chastise long ball football and the stiff necks that come from looking skywards. But how many ex-Premiership chairmen later lament reaching for the very same sky.
Thankyou for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.
Tony Pullis has never been relegated as a manager, but image and perception is so much more than substance, facts & stats and the boring, solid day-to-day stuff that goes on behind the scenes. We live in a media-orientated world alright, where the people’s game seems to be less and less about traditional values and the virtues of hard-work, particularly once the Premiership glitz and glamour has caught owners in its midst. Stoke’s owners may feel they are secure and ready to take the next step, but in reality they start on zero points in three months time like everyone else. Ambition may also be a great virtue, a wonderful way to fill a stadium, but failure empties a stadium of the fickle fans, faster than a winger can skin a full-back.
If carpet football is the top priority for Stoke City, then Roberto Di Matteo is the man to bring it. But he, like favourite Hughes, who will bring a more physically robust approach to the table, will need plenty of cash to take the Potters to the next level. Many have tried and failed to break into the Premiership’s platinum plated cartel. Failure in the Premiership brings a short sharp shock to many sides who fall not once but twice before steadying the ship again. Ask Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester City, Norwich, Charlton et al. But football is about theatre, dreams and optimism, so here is a run down of the two who could take Stoke City to the next level.
Mr Di Matteo started his career well at MK Dons, succeeding Paul Ince in 2008. He took the, perhaps unfairly nicknamed, Franchise club to the League 1 play-offs in his first season, losing the semi to Scunthorpe. It was enough to get him the WBA job, where he repaid the faith with an instant return to the Premiership, as runners up behind Newcastle. Despite getting hammered at Chelsea on the opening day of the 2010/11 season the Baggies recovered well earning Mr Di Matteo a manager of the month award in the September. The swashbuckling style was superb, sweeping counter attacking carpet football, played, perhaps, as only a sweet-toothed Swiss-Italian can conjure. The defensive side of the Italian game let him down when the wheels well and truly came off the cart. One win in ten cost him his job, with Michael Appleton replacing him, steadying the ship sufficiently to finish 11th.
After failing to get the Birmingham job, Chelsea cast him a lifeline as assistant manager to AVB. Upon his sacking in March 2012 Mr Di Matteo took the helm, winning the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. Although this was a fantastic and unique double, many will argue he did little but reverse the square pegs that had been put into round holes by AVB. That Chelsea side was and still is, nothing short of breath-taking on their day, with a midfield that is a credit to world football. To follow that first three months anywhere, would be a tough ask, but then to please Mr Abramovich is a whole different ball game. After just 8 months in charge he was gone ,dividing fans and pundits alike. Even a champion of the glass half-full club five minutes before closing time, could not envisage Stoke being able to give him the head start he enjoyed at MK Dons and Chelsea. To change the style of the side to his way of thinking will take the sort of time and cash they will not have in the Potteries next season. The romantic in us hopes so for the underdogs sake, but surely it is to dream the impossible dream?
|Milton Keynes Dons||2008||2009||52||27||11||14||51.92|
|West Bromwich Albion||2009||2011||83||40||19||24||48.19|
Mr Hughes has a decent win percentage (39.53%) but he has had the money at every club he has been at. After the less than dreamy, perhaps impossible and deary, dragon’s den days in the fiery Wales job, he guided Blackburn to a top six finish and UEFA cup qualification. The expensive rebuild in the summer of 2005 saw Rovers finish tenth, with a somewhat physical reputation. In the four years Mr Hughes held the helm at Ewood Park his side finished bottom of the Premier fair play League, but never finished outside of the top ten and managed three FA Cup semi finals. Mr Hughes then chose Manchester City over Chelsea (2008/9) but, despite spending tens of millions (Robinho alone cost £32 million) City could only finish a disappointing tenth. They did reach the UEFA Cup quarter-finals but alas, decent home form cannot make up for frequent no shows on the road. Mr Hughes card was marked, much to the benefit of his bank balance one supposes.
After a year out he also managed just a season at Fulham, before questioning the club’s ambition. Will Stoke be able to afford him that level, or will it end in a spat similar to the one at the Lillywhites, one that saw owner Mohamed Al-Fayed call Mr Hughes a “strange man” and a “flop”? Mr Hughes soon returned to management with awash with money club QPR in January 2012 and kept them up. An expensive rebuild saw Rangers worst ever start to a top flight season, as they went 12 without a win. Stoke, at a crossroads, will certainly hope history does not repeat itself should he get the job.
The Mark Hughes Clues.
|Wales||Sep 1999||Sep 2004||41||12||15||14||29.27|
|Blackburn Rovers||Sep 2004||Jun 2008||188||82||47||59||43.62|
|Manchester City||Jun 2008||Dec 2009||77||36||15||26||46.75|
|Fulham||Jul 2010||Jun 2011||43||14||16||13||32.56|
|Queens Park Rangers||Jan 2012||Nov 2012||34||8||6||20||23.53|
Tony Pulis Record
Just for the record, here is what Tony Pulis has done. One has to feel that some club will be lucky to have him. Bournemouth (Div 3 Champions 1986/87), Gillingham (Promoted as runners up Div 3 1995/96 and Div 2 Play-off winner 1998/99) and Stoke (Promoted as Championship runners up 2007/8, FA Cup runner up 2010/11) all did well under him, albeit ‘enjoying’ some physical, long ball tactics.
|Bournemouth||9 June 1992||5 August 1994||107||31||38||38||28.97|
|Gillingham||31 July 1995||1 July 1999||216||94||62||60||43.52|
|Bristol City||5 July 1999||14 January 2000||33||10||14||9||30.30|
|Portsmouth||13 January 2000||12 October 2000||35||11||10||14||31.43|
|Stoke City||1 November 2002||28 June 2005||131||47||32||52||35.88|
|Plymouth Argyle||23 September 2005||14 June 2006||39||12||15||12||30.77|
|Stoke City||14 June 2006||21 May 2013||333||122||98||113||36.64|