it’s January. The team you just bought is sitting in the relegation zone, in danger of slipping down into the Championship. Parachute payments aren’t going to help you recoup your investment. What do you do?
Well, bring in a bunch of players during the winter transfer window, of course. That’s just what Fulham did, bringing in cover at midfield, experience at the back and a returning hero in Clint Dempsey. Then, when the Cottagers still couldn’t win a game, it was out with René Meulensteen and in with Felix Magath, the second managerial change of the season. The new coach secured a draw against fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion last time out, but Fulham remain dead last.
Which is why it comes as something of a surprise that Magath has announced that Konstantinos Mitroglou, secured from Olympiakos for a hefty £12m, won’t even make the bench when Chelsea come to town on Saturday afternoon. You’d think that the Premier League’s bottom side would want all their resources available in an attempt to thwart the leaders, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Mitroglou made an appearance last week against West Brom, coming on as a substitute, and managed to impress in a stint with Fulham’s U21 side. At first it was thought that Magath would leave him out because he’s still not yet fit enough – he came to Fulham carrying an injury – but now, it seems, the coach believes the Greek isn’t ready to handle the intensity of the Premier League.
The mystery deepens when you consider the fact that Magath himself did say that Mitroglou is fit enough to play 30 minutes. With his reputation as a finisher, combined with Darren Bent’s increasingly dismal reputation in that area, it seems he’d be valuable to have on the bench. But Mitroglou needs work before he’ll play again, the Fulham manager says.
£12m is a lot to spend on a player that’s not even going to warm the bench. But if Magath manages to outwit the visiting José Mourinho, questions about the intelligence of this decision will likely be pushed to the back burner.
Heading into his second stint in the Premier League, Burnley boss Sean Dyche said there is a different feeling this time around after a “business-like” season at Turf Moor.
The expectation rises from everyone, the money available to the club for its future – all of the things that it brings.
The mentality of the players has been firm all year. We were questioned heavily around Christmas, but I never blinked.
I knew what we were about, I knew the group we’d got, I knew the mentality and I knew we could go all the way.
Last time we were under the radar, it was a fairytale. This one was organized, it was business-like and it was well-fashioned from all involved, especially the players.
If Burnley was questioned at Christmas, they certainly had an answer. After losing to Hull City on Boxing Day, the Clarets have gone unbeaten in 22 matches to climb to the top of the Championship table.
Burnley’s campaign this season has been eerily similar to their last promotion to the PL after the 2013-14 season. If the Clarets win their final game next weekend, they will finish with an identical record from 2014 of 26-15-5, good for 93 points. Dyche’s next job will be keeping Burnley up, as they have been relegated after each of their previous three seasons in the top flight.
We know how they got here, but an interesting question is which moment will live in your memory when you’re reminded of Leicester’s run?
Game 5 — Dyer win Derby in stoppage
It had been a remarkable early season for Claudio Ranieri‘s troops when the Foxes came back from a 2-0 deficit against Midlands rivals Aston Villa, and substitute Nathan Dyer capped off the 3-2 win in style.
Game 14 — Vardy sets a Premier League record
Ruud van Nistelrooy taking a backseat to Jamie Vardy was unfathomable even a month beforehand, but Vardy’s goal gave him a Premier League record 11-straight matches with a goal (and all in one season). Not bad for the man deemed too old by a 2.Bundesliga team.
Game 25 — Blowout at the Etihad
Certainly many had this date circled as the beginning of a downturn for Leicester, but Riyad Mahrez dazzled while Robert Huth scored a pair of goals in a 3-1 ride past Manchester City on the road. It was on.
Game 27 — Ulloa starts earthquakes
Leicester looked destined to somehow find a draw from a dominant performance when Leonardo Ulloa lifted the Foxes to a late win over Norwich, causing mini earthquakes at the King Power Stadium.
Game 34 — Chaos at King Power
A game easily categorized in short, insane outbursts, or just the name Jon Moss
Vardy sent off for diving ?!? Penalty to West Ham for what?!? Penalty to Leicester for what?!?
LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has charged Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini and Leicester defender Robert Huth with violent conduct after they clashed during a Premier League game at the weekend.
Fellaini reacted to getting his hair pulled by Huth by appearing to strike the defender with his elbow as they jostled at a set-piece during the 1-1 draw between the teams on Sunday.