Thursday, 29 December 2011

What will City and United make of the Europa League?

When the season started fans of Manchester City and Manchester United will never have expected to be discussing their chances of winning the Europa League.

However, after failing to qualify from their respective groups in the Champions League both clubs find themselves looking at life in Europe’s second tier competition.

Given the importance of domestic matters though, questions have to be asked about how seriously they will be taking the Europa League.

One of the major attractions about the Champions League is the amount of money it generates for clubs and its little brother offers nowhere near as much cash. Those looking at the best online Europa League betting should remember this.

With that in mind, both clubs could be tempted to player weakened sides in order to ensure they have the best possible chance of winning the Premier League.

When the knockout stages of the competition get under way, United will face Ajax, while City face a tie with Porto.

Given both English sides will be facing tough matches against teams who might have also been expecting to play in the Champions League this season, questions will be asked as to whether either Sir Alex Ferguson or Roberto Mancini will be willing to risk their best players when they will be needed to fight for honour on other fronts.

With the FA Cup still up for grabs, it could be that both managers decide that the Europa League simply is not worth the effort and sacrifice it in order to ensure their star men are fit for what could be a very close title run in.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Should John Terry Be At The Euro's?

John Terry is a the heart of yet another controversy as we head into 2012, as he faces criminal charges for the apparent racial abuse he made towards QPR's Anton Ferdinand last month, and bwin are already taking bets on whether he will be on the plane to Poland & Ukraine in the summer.

Terry will no doubt be appealing the case and has vowed to clear his name, but with the case surely to be dragged out for a good few months, what affect will all of this have on the dynamics of the England team as they prepare for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine?

Terry was at the centre of another storm prior to the World Cup in 2010 which saw him lose his captaincy as we can see in the victor chandler review. Of course the players and managers played any speculation down that Terry's actions had split the England camp, but the performance of the England team certainly suggested otherwise.

Whether the England players in the 2010 squad were divided or not, the pure distraction and scrutiny of the media wouldn't have been any good for the players to simply focus on their football, and that was clearly evident.

On the back of that, Im not convinced that the England managers and staff will want similar circumstances in Poland & Ukraine, and it might be a better idea to leave John Terry at home.

Of course he is a fantastic player and will be greatly missed on the pitch for his leadership and quality but England do have a number of promising Centre Backs who step into that role and they will come without the baggage of controversy which will result in a much more focused and healthier England camp.

With Suarez receiving an 8 match ban from the FA with seemingly little evidence of a similar situation, John Terry has actually been criminally charged. Therefore, the FA will certainly have grounds and will also have the pressure to make an example of Terry and will no doubt hit him with a lengthy ban.

This could make it easier for Capello as Terry may be suspended for the Euro's or he may be unfit, but regardless of this it might be a good idea to keep him out anyway!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Is Phil Jones Ready For England?

Phil Jones is really starting to make a name for himself this season for Manchester United, and the bwin review is predicting that he could be in the frame to play a more leading role for England at the Euro's this summer.

19 year old Jones made his England Debut back in October where he played at right back against Montenegro in the crucial qualifier, but against Spain in November, where England surprised stan james odds with a victory, he played in central midfield.

The point is that Jones doesn't have much experience in an England shirt but he has versatility to play in a number of positions, and the way he has been playing recently, he is showing that he should be getting a starting place some where in Fabio Capello's first eleven.

He is playing so well that he is being compared to some of the greatest players in the history of the game. Phil Neville likened him to Roy Keane last Sunday as he drove the Manchester United central midfield; Sir Booby Charlton compared him with the late Duncan Edwards with his power, speed and strength; while Fabio Capello compared him to Franco Baresi, saying that Jones has extremely high quality in the centre back and centre midfield positions which not many players have ever had.

When you are receiving such plaudits from some of the games most respected men at just 19 years old, you know the future is looking bright. But there will be plenty of people who think Jones should be in Capello's squad.

He could be the holding player as part of a 3 man midfield, he could be a central defender or he could even be at right back!

What ever the case, if he continues the current form he is in for his club, and continues to improve, his England career could peak a lot more sooner than he perhaps might have expected!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Rooney outlines Europa intent

While the Europa League will definitely not have been in Manchester United's plans this season, that doesn't mean the reigning Premier League champions won't be going all-out to lift the trophy. 

After admitting his disappointment at exiting the Champions League, Wayne Rooney has made it clear that the focus will be on winning the tournament now they are competing in the Europa League – not something many would have foreseen at the start of the season. 

The England striker insisted there was still plenty of motivation for them to do well in the tournament – especially seeing as they won't be the only big name in the competition. Those looking at the Europa League betting odds online should bear this in mind.

"Unfortunately we went out and now we turn our attention to the Premier League and Europa League," he said.

"Every competition we enter we want to win."

"There are some good teams but we have to believe, keep working and hopefully we can go on and win it."

United were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League in the group stage, forcing them to join Europe's second-tier competition at the last-32 stage and adding some serious glamour to the tournament. 

It remains to be seen as to how Sir Alex Ferguson approaches the tournament in regards using his star players – although Rooney's comments point to the club showing some intent in their Europa League campaign. 

United, along with bitter rivals Manchester City, will be stand-out favourites to win the tournament now their Champions League dreams are over for another season – although that is reliant on the club taking the competition seriously, something that remains to be seen.