When Mr. Smiley Stuart Holden returned two months ago for Bolton, the United States national team fanbase went into a frenzy speculating about whether the creative spark plug could come back to the American line up any time soon.
The answer, it seems, is no. And we’ll probably have to wait even longer than you might have otherwise expected. The Bolton Wanderererererers plan on bringing the fragile midfielder back sloooooooooooowly.
ESPN’s Doug McIntyre did the hard work on this story, talking to Bolton News chief football writer Marc Iles: “Before Stu made his return at Sunderland I was told that even though he would be back on first-team duty he was effectively still in rehab, his recovery would still need to be closely managed and not to expect him to feature every week. That information has proved correct.”
The 27-year-old Holden has played exactly 94 minutes since returning to action. That’s not a lot. The club continues to believe in him — manager Dougie Freedman is talking contract extension beyond the end of this season — but the team doesn’t want him getting injured again. Slower is better. “It may well be that he doesn’t get back into full flow until preseason,” Iles says.
That would have two consequences: 1) It would mean Holden would almost certainly not be ready for June’s World Cup qualifiers and 2) It gives credence to McIntyre’s theory that Jurgen Klinsmann would leave Holden with Bolton instead of calling him to July’s Gold Cup. If that’s the case, we’re talking no Stars and Stripes for Holden until September.
And, honestly, that’s probably best. The United States doesn’t need Holden at 60 percent or 90 percent. They need him at 100 percent, the player he was before his run of injuries, the one on the brink of claiming a starting spot. If that takes until September, let it take until September. He’ll have plenty of time to show off in Brazil. Um… right?
Claudio Ranieri is everyone’s favorite manager.
And not just because “Dilly-ding, dilly-dong” will be added to the English dictionary very soon.
The Italian boss, 64, has guided Leicester City to the 2015-16 Premier League title — the first top-flight trophy in their 132-year history — in just his first season in charge at the King Power Stadium.
[ VIDEO: Leicester players celebrate ]
He has guided the 5000-1 shots at the start of the season to an incredible title win. At the start of the campaign he was the favorite to be the first manager to be fired this season.
After spending four years at Chelsea from 2000-04 where he was ruthlessly sacked by Russian owner Roman Abramovich who didn’t believe he could win trophies, Ranieri has won the biggest one of them all in his first season back in England. Remarkable.
[ MORE: Latest Leicester news after PL win ]
The veteran boss has now won his first-ever league title in his long and distinguished managerial career against all the odds. He is, without doubt, the mastermind behind Leicester’s remarkable title win. There are calls for Ranieri to be knighted by the Queen of England and given what his team has achieved, why not?
Despite his obviously skill as a manager, he is also a genuinely nice bloke when it comes to interacting with fans and the media.
The video below looks at some of the most memorable moments this season from the lovable Italian.
When Joe Hart looks to his left, he might expect to see a Sadio Mane shot going past him.
That’s how lethal the Southampton attacker was this weekend, recording a hat trick in Saints’ 4-2 win over Manchester City.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
Mane becomes the third Southampton player to snare Premier League Player of the Week honors this season, joining Graziano Pelle and Fraser Forster.
Just two more honors to go this PL season.
Premier League Players of the Week – Round 36
Week 1: Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City
Week 2: Romelu Lukaku, Everton
Week 3: Callum Wilson, Bournemouth
Week 4: Bafetimbi Gomis, Swansea City
Week 5: Steven Naismith, Everton
Week 6: Anthony Martial, Manchester United
Week 7: Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
Week 8: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
Week 9: Raheem Sterling, Manchester City
Week 10: Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur
Week 11: Arouna Kone, Everton
Week 12: Jesse Lingard, Manchester United
Week 15: Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City
Week 16: Ayoze Perez, Newcastle United
Week 17: Odion Ighalo, Watford
Week 19: Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke City
Week 20: Jermain Defoe, Sunderland
Week 21: Jermain Defoe, Sunderland
Week 22: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
Week 23: Dele Alli, Tottenham Hotspur
Week 24: Fraser Forster, Southampton
Week 25: Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa
Week 26: Pedro, Chelsea
Week 27: Marcus Rashford, Manchester United
Week 28: Connor Wickham, Crystal Palace
Week 29: Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City
Week 30: Graziano Pelle, Southampton
Week 31: Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur
Week 32: Alex Iwobi, Arsenal
Week 33: Andy Carroll, West Ham United
Week 34: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
Week 35: Eden Hazard, Chelsea
Week 36: Sadio Mane, Southampton
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini does not regret fielding a weakened side at Southampton over the weekend as he prepares for City’s Champions League semifinal at Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Pellegrini chose to rest many of his top players at St. Mary’s, including Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, and Vincent Kompany. City were smashed 4-2 in one of their worst performances of the season.
[ RECAP: Saints 4-2 Man City ]
Pellegrini defended his lineup decisions after the match, saying he is willing to risk results in the Premier League to reach the Champions League final.
We knew before the game it was a risk to put so many players without football against a difficult team but we have to take those risks. If we had played on Saturday we could put more players out. I was disappointed with the team. It’s my responsibility for the starting 11.
I would do exactly the same again because we have an important game.
We play for the final in the Champions League. We continue in the Premier League what we are going to do in the next two games to be in the top four so that was a risk but one we had to take.
While you would expect a drop-off when the likes of Aguero and de Bruyne are not on the pitch, City’s poor performance was much more than just a team selection issue. With Raheem Sterling ($75 million) and Wilfried Bony ($45 million) in the starting XI, it was 19-year-old academy product Kelechi Iheanacho who was one of the few players to show any type of effort against Saints.
Pellegrini may be overlooking the end of the Premier League season, but his side still needs points to secure a top-four spot and berth in the Champions League next year. City currently sit four points ahead of Manchester United, but United have a game in-hand.
[ MORE: Burnley become first Championship side to clinch PL promotion ]
City travel to Spain for the second leg of their Champions League semifinal matchup against Real Madrid on Wednesday. After settling for a 0-0 draw in the first leg, City must put the Southampton debacle behind them and turn things around before the one of the biggest matches in club history.
It looks like Andriy Yarmolenko may be on his way to the Premier League this summer, as Dynamo Kiev is willing to sell their star player after EURO 2016.
Kiev president Ihor Surkis has said he will accept an offer for Yarmolenko if the player agrees, but not if that offer is from Stoke City or Everton.
[ MORE: Vardy named FWA Footballer of the Year ]
According to Surkis, those sides are not “top clubs” worthy of signing a player of Yarmolenko’s quality.
If I get an offer that will suit Dynamo and Yarmolenko wants to go to this club, I’ll let him. All talk of a transfer will begin after the Euros.
He is already a top player, so he should go to a top club. My position is that we should not let Yarmolenko go to such clubs as Everton and Stoke City. Dynamo is Dynamo and Stoke City is Stoke. We’re playing in the Champions League, and Stoke City are fighting for survival.
I, as president of the club, had a winter offer from China completely arranged, but Yarmolenko did not even come to the meeting with the sports director of the Chinese squad.
Andriy said that dreams to play in the Bundesliga and the English Premier League.
While Stoke City is not in the Champions League, they are far from fighting for survival. The Potters have finished 9th in the Premier League each of the past two seasons, and are in line for a similar finish this year.
[ REPORT: Portland Timbers’ Fanendo Adi linked to Crystal Palace ]
Yarmolenko has been named Ukrainian Footballer of the Year each of the past three seasons, and his play for both Kiev and the national team have seen him linked to multiple Premier League clubs.
Surkis may not view Stoke or Everton as “top clubs,” but they certainly have top-club money to spend. Both have set record transfer fees on players over the past two seasons (Imbula to Stoke, Lukaku to Everton), and they could easily meet the reported $35 million it would cost to sign Yarmolenko.