Controversial plans for Premier League ‘B’ teams continue

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A massive shake up in English soccer has been proposed by the Chairman of the Football Association Greg Dyke, as England aim to produce more homegrown talent.

The FA commission has released an 80-page report on how to develop more elite players for the English national team and top of the list of proposals is allowing Premier League sides to run ‘B’ teams in a competitive professional division. The report claims that young players would thrive from being in a competitive environment from an early age and has looked at the Spanish and German leagues who both have similar setups where reserve teams from the big clubs compete in the lower tiers of their soccer pyramid.

During the 2012-13 Premier League season only 32 percent of players were eligible to represent the English national team, as the number of foreign players in the PL continues to spiral out of control and many believe that will impact the elite pool of players England has to choose from in the future. The England commission was set up to try and help with this issue and consists of Roger Burden, Greg Clarke, Rio Ferdinand, Dario Gradi, Glenn Hoddle, Roy Hodgson, Ritchie Humphreys, Danny Mills and Howard Wilkinson.

This debate over B-teams has caused uproar across England over the past few days as prominent figures within the game have had their say on whether or not it will have the desired impact to help the fortunes of the national team in the future. Opinion remains divided as to whether this extreme step will actually benefit anyone. Many teams in the lower league are questioning the ‘sporting integrity’ of the proposal and others are stating the history of smaller teams from League One and League Two (the third and fourth tiers of English soccer) are being put in jeopardy.

source: Reuters
How can Roy Hodgson get more elite-level players to chose from for England?

Also in the report from the FA are proposals which aim to ban non-European Union players from playing outside of the top flight, having strategic loan partnerships with a feeder club set up and reducing the number of non-homegrown players in the PL. Several PL teams such as Stoke City, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have already thrown their backing behind the plans but Dyke is likely to need at least 15 PL teams to back the notion, and then the Football League to okay the ideas when they meet in July, to put the plans into place. If successful, the new tier of English soccer with 10 PL B-team and 10 lower league sides will commence play from the 2016-17 campaign onwards.

Dyke has talked about drastic changes since taking up his role at the FA last year and this latest report on the state of the game suggests he and the members of his committee believe these steps are needed if the Three Lions are to elevate themselves amongst the world’s elite. Add into all of this that the Premier League chose not to be part of Dyke’s committee, due to their own U-23 league they are setting up and their own plans for Elite Player Development, and you have  avast concoction of ideas clashing at the elite level of soccer in England.

There are many different tactics which can be used to do that, however creating a whole new tier for Premier League B-teams has captured the headlines. The proposal states that B-teams will consist of players under the age of 23, they will not be allowed to advance past League One or allowed to enter the FA Cup or League Cup and the initial new tier would be set up in between the Conference (fifth tier) and League Two.

It is a novel idea that aims to help with the development of England’s most talented youngsters. Let’s sit back and see how this one plays out but why not try something different if the current model isn’t working?

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace

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  • Liverpool will still be without Philippe Coutinho due to a back injury.
  • Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne also miss out, but Daniel Sturridge is fit.
  • Crystal Palace has won three-straight games against Liverpool in the Premier League.
  • Both teams have scored in each of the last 10 meetings in all competitions between Liverpool and Crystal Palace, averaging 3.9 goals per match.

For the second-consecutive week, Liverpool will have to play without Philippe Coutinho, who is still missing with a back injury.

However, that didn’t seem to be an issue last week against Watford as Liverpool scored three goals, but it was the leaky defense that allowed Watford to score three goals themselves. (Watch live at 10:00 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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Crystal Palace meanwhile also allowed three goals last week but couldn’t score any of its own as it was humbled, 3-0 to Huddersfield. Crystal Palace’s squad is still struggling to adjust to manager Frank De Boer‘s free-flowing style of play and Wilfried Zaha will miss Saturday’s encounter.

But working in Crystal Palace’s favor is Christian Benteke and the club’s three straight wins over Liverpool. It will surely be an open and exciting match at Anfield.

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Crystal Palace: “We played Crystal Palace a few weeks ago. I’m not 100 per cent sure about the line-ups in that game, but Phil and Zaha were on the pitch and they will not be [this weekend]. I’m not sure if Adam played in this game, but that’s how it is…The only thing we know is it’s a tough game, probably both teams were not overly happy – we were not really disappointed about our first game, but it was how a first game can be, there are things to improve and it’s always like this, but even then we could’ve won which I think everybody knows.”

Crystal Palace manager Frank De Boer on his system of play: “I am not a manager who suddenly after a defeat decides to change things around and as I say I did see some very positive points so I am not going to change the system. We don’t need to use adapting to a change in style of our play as an excuse, it’s not so difficult and quite easy to play. The Premier League is so competitive that you have to work hard as a team to get a result because if you don’t you get punished. The players don’t want to use the new system as an excuse and I think everybody understands what we want but we have to execute it better.”

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Prediction

Liverpool’s centerback pair of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren looked better midweek in the UEFA Champions League against Hoffenheim, but it’s another challenge to face Benteke and a motivated Crystal Palace team. Still, the speed of thought and pace on the field of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane should prove to be the difference. Liverpool 3-2 Crystal Palace

Blaise Matuidi completes move from PSG to Juventus

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PARIS (AP) France midfielder Blaise Matuidi completed his move from Paris Saint-Germain to Juventus on Friday.

Matuidi arrived in Turin for a medical on Wednesday but the move finally went through Friday, PSG said in a statement.

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No financial details were given, but Juventus will reportedly pay PSG 20 million euros ($23 million) plus bonuses for the player, who had a year left on his contract. PSG did not say how long Matuidi’s contract is with the Italian champion.

The French club, runner-up to Monaco last year, is trying to balance the books after buying Neymar for 222 million euros ($261 million) and could not afford to lose Matuidi on a free transfer.

(more…)

Premier League Preview: Swansea City vs. Manchester United

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  • Manchester United have won two of its last three Premier League meetings with Swansea City (D1), this after losing the previous three all by a 2-1 scoreline.
  • Romelu Lukaku is looking to become the fifth player to score in his first two PL apps for Man Utd (also Ibrahimovic, Martial, Macheda, Saha).
  • Swansea City will be without forward Fernando Llorente (transfer) and playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson (transfer to Everton)
  • Manchester United are still without Luke Shaw and Ashley Young, both of whom are injured.

Two teams on two completely different trajectories meet up in South Wales as Swansea City hosts Manchester United (Watch live at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Manchester United are trending up, coming off an impressive 4-0 win over West Ham in the opening weekend in which new signings Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic starred and dominated the game.

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Swansea City on the other hand are trending down, slumping to a scoreless draw last week and this week seeing the club lose its top player, Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton.

What they’re saying

Man United manager Jose Mourinho on his team’s start to the season: “It’s just the beginning. Last season, we started with three matches and nine points and we finished sixth. So it’s not because of a very good first day that I’m going to lose my stability and my discipline and let the players think differently from myself.”

Swansea City manager Paul Clement on facing Man United: “We have confidence because of what we did against Manchester United last season, while the record between these two clubs is quite interesting. Our record in the Premier League against Southampton, for example, is not very good, but against United it’s quite encouraging.

“We are looking forward to playing in front of our fans again and hopefully we can do well for them.”

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Prediction

Swansea City will have the force of its fans behind it as well as recent good performances against Man United. However, Jose Mourinho’s men should buck the trend and win this one without too much of a fight. Manchester United 3-0 Swansea City

Reports: Liverpool reject latest Barcelona offer for Coutinho

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Barcelona has reportedly upped its offer for the services of Philippe Coutinho. But the response from Liverpool has remained the same.

According to multiple reports, Liverpool has rejected a third Barcelona offer for Coutinho, believed to be worth up to $151.5 million. Coutinho put in a transfer request a week ago but Liverpool has remained firm on its desire to keep Coutinho for this season. Liverpool has not yet publicly commented on Barcelona’s latest transfer bid.

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Coutinho meanwhile is still off the field for Liverpool due to a back injury, the club states.

“Phil is not available; he is not training so far, so there is nothing new,” manager Jurgen Klopp told reporters. “It is always how it is with injured players, there is no real time on when he is back.”

The Brazilian midfielder signed a new five-year contract with Liverpool just last January and the deal doesn’t have a buy-out clause. But should Liverpool accept a new bid for Coutinho, he’d become the second-most expensive transfer behind fellow Brazilian Neymar.

It’s unclear whether Barcelona will shift focus to other targets such as Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele or Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann as a replacement for Neymar.