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Palace job still open; Who can end the merry-go-round?

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Steve Parish is tired of hiring new managers, and this time wants to nab a lifer for the Crystal Palace managerial post.

“We do not really want someone who sees it as a stepping stone,” said the Palace chairman.

[ MORE: Everton to snag bargain Sandro? ]

Saying he’d like to find a man who appreciates Palace’s style of play and wants to grow the club, Parish expounded the virtues of his potential boss on Sirius XM’s FC show.

“We have got a personnel and a way of playing. It has served us well. Do we try and change that again? That will inform probably where we go on the list of managers. After that you are just looking for somebody who has got a long-term view for the club.”

In 112 years of play, the club has hired exactly one manager from outside Wales, Scotland, England, and Ireland, and the bettors’ favorite for the job is Burnley man Sean Dyche. Also on that list with decent odds are Garry Monk and Roy Hodgson.

At 69, that last name doesn’t fit the bill of a long-term solution (though it’s energy, not age, that would dictate that).

Some other ideas who could fit Palace’s bill, especially if they are open to heading away from the island in terms of nationality (and one Brit, too).

  • Jaap Stam — The Reading boss has had an outstanding debut as First Team manager, and is well-connected in terms of the transfer market.
  • Thomas Tuchel — Would the ex-BVB man be willing to dip down from the Champions League to challenge his predecessor Jurgen Klopp and old nemesis Pep Guardiola in the Premier League?
  • Nigel Clough — Currently with Burton Albion, a club he also played for, would he relish a chance at the PL?
  • Walter Mazzarri or Quique Flores — Both kept Watford in the Premier League, and both were victims of the notoriously short-sighted Hornets.

UEFA Nations League preview: Last chance to dance

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The path to Portugal or Italy concludes this week with the final group matches of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

We’ll begin with Group A3, where only Poland has been eliminated from qualification for the final. The hosts for the finals will come out of this group, and Portugal has a two-point lead heading into its final two matches.

[ MORE: England-USMNT preview ]

Italy only has one, and has to hope it beats Portugal at the San Siro on Saturday and hope Portugal fails to beat Poland three days later. Portugal has done it all without Cristiano Ronaldo, and won’t have the Juventus striker for these two matches.

World Cup champions France lead Group A1 and can clinch a spot in the finals by not losing to the Netherlands on Friday. Should the Dutch win in Rotterdam, they can pass the French with a defeat of Germany or a draw in Gelsenkirchen coupled with tiebreaker help.

Group A2 looks increasingly likely to go to Belgium. The Red Devils and Switzerland both have six points. They cannot advance simply by beating Iceland on Thursday, but a win or draw would mean needing just a draw or Sunday in Switzerland.

Spain is the favorite for the fourth semifinal spot, though no one in Group 4 has been eliminated from contention. Croatia can advance by beating Spain in Zagreb on Thursday and getting a scoring draw or better in England on Sunday.

Spain is through with a win over Croatia, but opens the door for England with a draw or loss. England has a number of scenarios that work for them, but the easiest involves Spain losing in Croatia and England beating Croatia at Wembley on Sunday.

The Nations League semifinals are June 5 and 6, with the final and third-place match on June 9.

League B has only promoted one team to League A so far (Ukraine). Still alive are Russia, Turkey, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Wales, and Denmark.

Arnautovic’s agent: Player wants UEFA Champions League action ASAP

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“There are options. And we are probing.”

So are the ominous words of Danijel Arnautovic, the brother and agent of West Ham United striker Marko Arnautovic, in saying the player wants to play in the Champions League as soon as possible.

[ MORE: England-USMNT preview ]

The Austrian forward, 29, is combustible but industrious as a player, and his brother says he nearly left West Ham for a Champions League club in the summer. And, again, they are probing.

This one day after admitting he’s been playing hurt for the Hammers. That’s sure to drive his value up, up, up.

Here’s Danijel Arnautovic, from Metro:

“He’s a big part of West Ham’s team but I think it’s possible to tease out more of him. For that to happen, he has to play for a top team. Marko is ready for the next step. A player like him should not play against relegation. He should play for the international spots. Marko is really enjoying playing for West Ham. He loves that club and the fans. But there is still that feeling, that this cannot be the end. And everybody should understand that.”

Marko Arnautovic’s two most productive seasons have come in the last three years, with 11-goal campaigns for Stoke City (2015-16) and West Ham (2017-18), but he’s on his way to better with five goals in 10 PL matches so far this season.

He could certainly be more productive with top service, but the Irons are growing into the sort of side which can get him further up the goal charts.

That said, they are unlikely to play in the Champions League any time soon, and Marko Arnautovic would be 31 going into the UCL campaign should they make a run up the table next season.

Men In Blazers Podcast: Taking in Chelsea-Everton; Manchester Derby, MLS

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Rog and Davo relive their English Excellent Adventure, including taking in El Blazerico live and in-person. Plus, the Manchester Derby and MLS.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

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Fulham makes the difficult choice to break from Jokanovic and its past

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172 days ago. That’s how long ago Fulham was celebrating its first-ever win at Wembley, capping maybe the greatest five-month stretch in club history. The Whites were headed back to the Premier League, a feat that seemed more and more unreachable as the months in the Championship dragged on.

Slavisa Jokanovic was at the center of it all. He was hailed as a visionary. He was hailed as a calculated risk-taker. He was hailed as a manager who took an ideal and made it a reality.

172 days is the time it took for all of that to come crashing down. On Wednesday, Fulham – sitting bottom of the Premier League – unceremoniously replaced Jokanovic with another dreamer, another visionary in Claudio Ranieri, the man who did the impossible with Leicester City.

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Many fans are furious. How could they so quickly forget what Jokanovic brought this club? How could they tear down what he so tirelessly built up?

The reality of the situation, however, is clear: Fulham has not only sunk to the bottom of the Premier League table, they have been flat out terrible. Statistically, they claim ownership to the worst defense in the European top 5 leagues, but it’s about so much more than that. The squad lacks any semblance of ambition, energy, or purpose on the pitch; the players have appeared utterly devoid of life, a husk of their former selves. The same team that led the Championship in both possession and completed passes the previous two seasons was so thoroughly beaten by Huddersfield Town earlier this month, that it’s clear the past is just that – an unrecognizable memory evaporated into the annals of club history to take its place alongside Johnny Haynes, Bobby Robson, and the 2010 Europa League run.

Fulham’s Championship playoff triumph in May is fresh in the minds of fans, yet suddenly seems like a distant memory (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images).

Which is why, despite the sting of cutting ties with someone so dear to the fans and team, the club made the right decision moving on from Slavisa Jokanovic. The manager is most certainly not the only one to shoulder blame for the club’s horrendous start to its Premier League campaign, but he’s most certainly part of the crew. Jokanovic was caught between what worked last season and what he knew had to change, continually flip-flopping between loyalty to the players who brought him Wembley glory and the ones who were poised to bring the club into the new era. Jokanovic was partial to players like Kevin McDonald, Stefan Johansen, and Denis Odoi – who were critical to last season’s triumph but clearly not up to Premier League standards – with disastrous consequences.

As a result of his inability to resolve the internal struggle he faced, expensive new players like Andre Zambo Anguissa and Alfie Mawson struggled to mesh with their new teammates and it showed on the pitch. Fulham central defensive partnership was a carnival turnstile – they haven’t started the same center-backs in consecutive league matches since mid-September. The decomposition continued to manifest on the field as players became more discouraged with the results, coming to a head in the Huddersfield loss. The team that had led the Championship in every possession-based statistical category the year before was beaten in shots and attacking third passes by a team that hadn’t scored a home goal in over 650 minutes. Fulham, as they were know, had faded into nothingness.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings for Week 12 ]

Undoubtedly, others share the blame. The players have looked disinterested and unmotivated over the past month, happy to pass the ball square around the midfield like zombies, without direction or purpose. Recruitment chair Tony Khan, who led Fulham to a massive summer spending spree of $126 million, seems to have missed on a couple of big-money buys like Anguissa and Mawson, while Jean-Michael Seri has cooled after a hot start. Khan built the Championship juggernaut with a statistical approach that led to shrewd purchases in the midfield and on the wing, but in the Premier League, his targets have struggled to make a serious impact as Jokanovic trended towards his more tenured players. In addition, the attitude on the pitch has been nothing short of pathetic, as the players have shown little fight when falling behind, and never has a collective lack of confidence been more apparent.

Still, those deficiencies fall back – at least somewhat – on the manager. Jokanovic proved unable to motivate a fractured and disjointed squad, beating the same drum week after week and throwing his players under the bus for their tainted attitude. He also showed an inability to adapt to a new situation, a naively egotistical approach in hoping to replicate last season’s possession-based tactical model against even Champions League sides at the top of the table. That not only saw his tactics beaten to a pulp week after week, but it also lent to a favoring of tenured players more suitable to his tactical approach rather than allowing the newer – and theoretically better – players a chance to break into the side. As a result, the team was shredded on a weekly basis as Tony Khan was resigned to watching his prized acquisitions rot either on the bench or in a squad with clear defects.

In the end, a change was painful yet necessary. Letting loose the triumphs of last year so fresh in the memory was a difficult one to swallow. Even owner Shad Khan said in his letter to fans, “I wasn’t anticipating having to make this announcement related to Slavisa and wish the circumstances were such that I didn’t have to.” Yet here the club is, with just one win in 12 and a mountain to climb. Jokanovic, for all his successes at Craven Cottage, was never going to provide the immediate on-field change this club needs so desperately, instead determined to plow through the oncoming wave with his feet buried in the sand. If the necessary points weren’t going to come against Cardiff City, Bournemouth, and Huddersfield, they weren’t going to appear against anyone else.

Jokanovic will always be remembered fondly by those at and around Fulham FC, but the only decision moving forward was to cut him loose. It was now or never for the Whites, as desperate as any in the Premier League in mid-November.