Guus Hiddink

Bookies odds for next Man United manager

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The bookmakers are dishing out odds for who the next permanent Manchester United manager will be, but things are a little complicated.

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After firing Jose Mourinho on Tuesday it is believed that United will appoint an interim coach who will steady the ship between now and the end of the season. And then they will appoint a new manager in the summer, with a complete restructuring of the club behind-the-scenes with a technical director appointed to help the manager.

Many believe that United’s number one target is Mauricio Pochettino, but Tottenham’s Argentine boss is unlucky to leave midway through the season and with Spurs on the verge of moving into their fantastic new stadium. Pochettino only signed a new deal in the summer, which ties him to Spurs until 2023.

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Via Oddschecker, here is a look at the favorites to be named the next manager of United.


Zinedine Zidane: 4/1
Laurent Blanc: 10/1
Michael Carrick: 14/1
Antonio Conte: 16/1
Leonardo Jardim: 16/1
Eddie Howe: 16/1
Jupp Heynckes: 20/1
Guus Hiddink: 20/1
Lucien Favre: 25/1
Mauricio Pochettino: 25/1
Nicky Butt: 25/1
Arsene Wenger: 25/1

PL Playback: What is wrong with Chelsea?

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CLOCK IS TICKING FOR CONTE

Guus Hiddink is currently sitting near his phone. We’ve been here before with Chelsea but nobody really expected this with Antonio Conte after he masterminded their title-winning season in 2016-17.

But following their 4-1 defeat at Watford on Monday the speculation surrounding Conte’s future is rife as the Italian manager has seen his side win just three games in their last 10 in all competitions.

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They’ve been humbled by Bournemouth and Watford in the space of a few days, conceding seven goals in the process, and from new signings failing to settle to Conte criticizing the club’s transfer policy and speculation linking him with the Italian national team job, this is not a good situation for the reigning PL champs.

Where has it gone wrong?

Simpy put, Chelsea have failed to back Conte in the transfer market and their system of signing players and letting the coach work with them has once again come back to bite them.

Conte is a fine coach, but that’s all he is, a coach. He’s said that time and time again during his 18 months in charge of the Blues and that isn’t going to change for him, or any other Chelsea manager, anytime soon. Therein lies one of the biggest problems: respect.

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Chelsea’s players don’t seem to fear the wrath of Conte anymore. He ousted Diego Costa last summer for his behavior and booted David Luiz out of the team for most of this season, but how many players truly fear being kicked out of Chelsea if they don’t play well for Conte?

There is also the case of big money summer arrivals Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata enduring tough times recently, with the former having a very bad season and the latter suffering multiple injuries and a lack of confidence after a fine start at Stamford Bridge.

With Ross Barkley, Davide Zappacosta, Olivier Giroud and Emerson Palmeri also arriving over the past two windows, they are hardly players who will get the Chelsea faithful on the edge of their seats. Barkley has the potential but is rusty, Giroud is a stop-gap and Zappacosta is a back-up with Palmeri likely to be the same. All in all, there are no real consequences for the recruitment team at Chelsea who continue to do the deals and sit back and let Conte work with the players on the training ground.

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They have successfully cultivated a wonderful system of developing and loaning out young talent, but is it time for Chelsea’s recruitment policy to change? Are some of the players they’ve brought in really better than Tammy Abraham, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and others loaned out?

The brutal truth is this: instead of going out and spending $250 million on four key new players and keeping their entire title-winning squad from last season together, Chelsea have opted to actually bring in plenty of squad players and only a few key reinforcements as Manchester City and United stormed on with their expensive rebuilds.

They’ve stood still, or even regressed, with their squad weaker this season than it was last season despite the extra demands of European soccer plain for all to see. That is why Conte is upset.

Are we really shocked this is happening again? Just like the Andre Villas-Boas era, or the end of Jose Mourinho’s second spell in charge, it’s almost as if Chelsea’s current squad have been conditioned to only perform when a new manager arrives, then drop their levels once a few moments of adversity arrive along with the impending newspaper reports about said manager being fired.

The players will remain, the managers will come and go, and so on, and so forth.

That’s the problem with Chelsea’s current model and although they’ve had great success in bringing managers in for short-term success, Conte calling for continuity and for the hierarchy to put their faith in him is likely to fall on deaf ears.

Conte’s saving grace is that the Chelsea supporters adore him and still sing his name and love his passion on the sidelines. Yet Roman Abramovich and those who call the shots are ruthless and if Chelsea fall out of the top four in the next few weeks, plus are humbled by Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League last 16, that will be that.

And so the Chelsea cycle continues…


WOULD VAR HAVE HELPED LIVERPOOL v. TOTTENHAM DECISIONS?

The final minutes of Tottenham’s 2-2 draw at Liverpool on Sunday where among the most dramatic of the Premier League season so far.

Two penalty kick calls which went in the favor of Spurs were highly controversial, but having seen the replays and analyzed the rules of the game on numerous occasions, you can say that both were given correctly.

It wasn’t easy for Jon Moss and his officiating crew in real time, especially on the first penalty kick awarded to Harry Kane. As our analysts Arlo White and Robbie Mustoe point out in the video above, the audio picked up of Jon Moss having a debate with his linesman Eddie Smart and then fourth official Martin Atkinson via a headset has been highlighted due to Moss mentioning TV monitors a la VAR.

With that system currently not in play in the Premier League, that was an obvious error and has since been addressed by the PGMOL in England, but given the amount of time Moss debated with other officials about what they saw, using VAR would have surely been quicker to sort this out?

Of course, with the arrival of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) for cup competitions in England over the past few months, the video debate is up in the air as people question if it should be used in the Premier League or the World Cup this summer.

I ask you this: would VAR have solved both of these penalty debates on Sunday in a quicker and clearer fashion?

For the first penalty, yes. It would have 100 percent solved any debate over the touch on the ball from Dejan Lovren. There was contact from Loris Karius, even though Kane may have gone down slightly easily, and that part isn’t what is being debated. As for the second penalty kick, VAR won’t have been too more conclusive as the contact was clear but so was Erik Lamela‘s embellishment. It would have been down to the video assistant referee and Moss to debate any other factors, but the penalty kick would still have been awarded as there was no “clear and obvious error” regarding the initial decision.

Moss and the officials deserve praise for getting the calls correct without seeing video footage, even if there was plenty of time taken to get the call right.


NEW-LOOK ARSENAL HAVE MOMENTUM…

Watch out. Here they come.

Yes, it was an Everton side bereft of confidence right now, but the way Arsenal shamelessly battered the Toffees 5-1 on Saturday showed their new-look attack is fired up and ready to push for a top four finish.

Given the recent struggles of Chelsea and the inability of Liverpool and Tottenham to consistently win games in recent weeks, the Gunners have a real chance of eating away at the current five-point gap to the top four.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan grabbed a hat trick of assists on his home debut, the pace of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang caused problems as he grabbed a debut goal and Aaron Ramsey marked his return to the team with a hat trick with the Welshman almost like a new signing after months out. Mesut Ozil signing a new long-term deal capped off a fine week for Arsenal in terms of acquisitions and some much need stability after months of uncertainty.

Now, crunch time has arrived.

Arsene Wenger has the luxury of being able to prioritize the Premier League top four race in the final months of the season knowing he has already guided the Gunners into the League Cup final in a few weeks at Wembley, plus he can continue to rotate his squad in the UEFA Europa League knockout rounds.

Heading into the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley this weekend (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Arsenal have momentum and two new attackers ready to run riot in Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang and their arrival coupled with Alexis Sanchez’s departure have given everyone a lift.

Their defensive frailties remain but there’s no doubt that their business in the final days of the transfer window have handed Wenger’s men a chance to get back into the top four race. Can they take it?


Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

Ronald Koeman named new Netherlands boss

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It didn’t take Ronald Koeman too long to land another job.

The former Everton and Southampton manager was named the new head coach of the Dutch national team on Tuesday, with Koeman signing a contract through the end of the 2022 World Cup.

Holland have failed to reach the last two major tournaments (EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup) and have had three managers in charge since 2014 when Louis Van Gaal led them to a third-place finish at the World Cup in Brazil, then left to manage Manchester United.

Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind and Dick Advocaat all failed to reignite a national team which finished excelled at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. Now it is Koeman’s turn to usher through a new era of young, talented Dutch players.

His first game in charge of the Netherlands will be a friendly against England in Amsterdam on March 23.

Koeman is joined by Nico-Jan Hoogma who will become the sporting director in a statement released by the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) on Tuesday.

The KNVB has reached agreement with Ronald Koeman (54) about the appointment as national coach of the Dutch national team. Koeman has just signed a contract that connects him to Orange with immediate effect up to and including the World Cup 2022.

Nico-Jan Hoogma has also entered into a contract with the football association. Thanks to the cooperation of Heracles Almelo, where 49-year-old Hoogma has been working as general manager since 1 January 2007, he will be working as a director of top football in Zeist on 1 March. His contact runs until 1 July 2022.

A legend of the Dutch national team, Koeman always dreamed of being their manager as well as managing Barcelona in the future. It is likely he will have to at least lead the Netherlands to the latter stages of the 2022 World Cup for this to be deemed a success and keep his dreams of managing Barcelona alive.

His 18-month spell at Everton ended in October 2017 with the Toffees battling against relegation after he had led them to seventh place in the Premier League in the 2016-17 season. In the two seasons prior to that he led Southampton to 7th and 6th place finishes respectively, which were their highest-ever finishes in the PL.

A former player for Groningen, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord in his homeland, plus Barcelona abroad where he scored the winning goal in the 1991 European Cup final, Koeman scored 14 goals in 78 appearances for the Dutch national team and helped them win their only major title to date, the 1988 European Championships.

Koeman has also managed Vitesse Arnhem, Ajax, Benfice, PSV, Valencia, AZ Alkmaar and Feyenoord with varying degrees of success.

PST Survey results: Who should be the next USMNT coach?

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The results of PST’s Big American Soccer Survey are in, and our staff will be walking through the results of thousands of votes in a series of posts this week.

We didn’t realize you could acronymize it to BASS, or else we would’ve done it sooner. Our next BASS post deals with who should coach the USMNT.

[ MORE: All Big American Soccer Survey posts ]

We asked thousands of voters who should helm the U.S. men’s national team after October’s horrifying World Cup qualifying collapse, and there were plenty of write-ins apart from a very even vote.

David Wagner earned the most write-ins, but the variety of names mentioned was varied and wild: Caleb Porter, Thomas Tuchel, Slaven Bilic, Gregg Berhalter, Dominic Kinnear, Eddie Howe, Nick Mendola (not kidding, smart alecks).

Guus Hiddink, Rafa Benitez, Miguel Herrera, Oscar Pareja, Mike Petke, Berti Vogts, Tim Howard, Geno Auriemma (not kidding again).

But here are the four top vote getters:

4) Sam Allardyce — 13 percent — Please, no. No. For everyone who thinks his down-home English structure will get the job done, please remember that there are probably 10-15 guys just like him who are less abrasive and haven’t been fired in disgrace from a national team. Want to hate someone’s perception of your league, MLS fellas? Wait til you get a load of him.

3) Laurent Blanc — 14 percent — Late of PSG, the 51-year-old Blanc has experience in cleaning up a mess; When he took over France, the FFF suspended all 23 of the players who bombed out of the 2010 World Cup.

2) Tata Martino — 19 percent — Atlanta United’s guru is best known for leading Barcelona between 2013-14, but has wide international experience with Paraguay and Argentina.

1) Tab Ramos — 20 percent — Call it the Gareth Southgate corollary, albeit by a slim margin. The 51-year-old Ramos has 81 caps for the USMNT and plenty of background in leading the U-20s for several years. He also played in both MLS and abroad, with Segunda Division experience for two teams in Spain.

Hazard out three months with broken ankle on Belgium duty

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Eden Hazard‘s ankle injury is worse than initially thought, and the Chelsea attacker needs surgery to address it.

Hazard, 26, is going to miss significant time after fracturing his ankle on Sunday in training. Belgium was quick to point out that it happened in individual work, and first suspected it was a twisted ankle.

[ MORE: Lloyd pushes NYCFC women’s team ]

The injury comes after a weekend that saw Hazard discussing rumors of a move to Real Madrid.

Hazard rebounded from a rough 2015-16 under Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink to scored 16 goals and add five assists in Chelsea’s run to the Premier League title.

Chelsea teammate Cesar Azpilicueta encouraged Hazard in the wake of the news.

Belgium heads to Estonia on Friday for a World Cup qualifier, still unbeaten in Group H.