Ralph Hasenhuttl

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Southampton formally adds strikers Adams, Ings

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Southampton’s strike force officially got much stronger on Monday.

The club announced its capture of Birmingham City forward Che Adams on a reported $19 million deal, and formalized the addition of hometown boy Danny Ings after a loan at St. Mary’s last season.

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Adams delivered on his promise to the tune of 22 goals and five assists in the Championship last season. He turns 23 on July 13.

Ings, still just 26, signs on for a reported $26 million. The deal runs through 2022 after joining from Liverpool last season, when he produced eight goals and three assists in around 1750 minutes.

The move comes weeks after the club added winger Moussa Djenepo, who was on the same UEFA Golden Boy list with Christian Pulisic. Here’s Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, via the club’s official web site.

“I am delighted to have signed Che and Moussa ahead of the start of pre-season. They are both young, dynamic players with the level of enthusiasm and hunger we are looking for that can help us improve as a team.”

When healthy, Ings is a specimen. He had 11 goals and four assists in his only complete Premier League season, a season after scoring 21 and 7 in the Championship.

Southampton ‘not a pig to be fattened’

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Southampton’s majority owner Gao Jisheng has rarely talked about purchasing the Premier League club. If ever.

However, the Chinese real estate tycoon has now been talking and it doesn’t seem like he’s willing to pump much, if any, of his own money into Saints in the coming years.

In a rare interview with the Financial Times in Shanghai, Gao revealed some of his plans for the future of the South Coast club.

“I am not treating Southampton as a pig to be fattened and sold,” Gao said. “I am treating it as a child. But my children must believe they cannot depend on the boss. I have said to Southampton: ‘I am now your father. But I am putting you on the right track: you need to feed yourself.’”

He added: “The club’s financial situation is good this year and it doesn’t require more investment.”

Southampton’s fans will not be too shocked to hear these words from Gao, but will be intrigued to have had heard anything at all from him.

The Chinese businessman often attends games but has never spoken publicly about his reasons and motivations for buying an 80 percent stake in the club from the Liebherr family back in 2017.

With his property company Lander Sports buying the club, Gao recently sold a large chunk of his stake in Lander to the Chinese government which led to the Premier League requesting information from Southampton about whether or not they were now owned by the state of China.

Gao has brushed off those suggestions, saying he has given the PL the information they need and they are satisfied. Lander Sports, who own the 80 percent stake in Saints, are based in Hong Kong due to strict laws about risky foreign investments in mainland China.

All of this is a little confusing for Southampton fans, but the main thing to come from Gao’s comments is that they shouldn’t expect a huge flurry of big money signings as long as he’s the owner but they could spend some money this summer without selling anybody.

Gao wants the club to be self-sustaining and that is pretty admirable in this day and age when fans demand huge money spent on new players, and will then slam the club when relegation could see it spiral into financial meltdown.

Southampton have always been a club which produces young talent and then sells players on for a huge profit. That won’t change anytime soon.

But after two close shaves with relegation over the past two seasons, it is clear Southampton’s squad needs a large rebuild under Ralph Hasenhuttl this summer. If they can sell on a plethora of players who have been out of the picture and out on loan last season, then they will be able to reinvest that cash in new players.

How successful Saints are at doing that this offseason will determine if Hasenhuttl’s side can kick on and push for a top 10 finish next season. The coach has worked wonders with one of the youngest squads in the PL since he arrived last December and there is plenty of promise that a full season of Hasenhuttl-ball will see Saints not embroiled in yet another relegation scrap.

Gao’s comments underline the fact he will not spend big like Wolves’ Chinese owners Fosun, but given how much Saints have spent over the past few years (they are one of the few PL clubs to make a profit in transfer business year in, year out) this wasn’t a huge surprise.

With Southampton playing a game in China again this offseason, their new sponsorship deal with LD Sports (a company yet to launch in China) has seen them double their revenue in terms of sponsorship in a club-record deal.

Gao’s connections in China are helping the club financially in certain aspects, but it appears they will not pump money in to try and challenge the PL’s elite like they did in years gone by under Ronald Koeman. In truth, their success under Koeman was fuelled by selling a host of star names such as Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren and Morgan Schneiderlin, which allowed them to buy Sadio Made, Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Virgil Van Dijk among others.

Saints must unearth a few more gems in the transfer window this summer to keep their model rolling along and bring about another push into the top half of the table. They have a great manager, some talented youngsters and a sensible owner.

The latter will hamper any progress their fans have of making another push for European qualification in the years to come.

Just how wrong? Revisiting Premier League predictions

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Own it.

That’s how I look at Premier League predictions. When you’re right, be happy about your good fortune. When you’re wrong, raise your hand.

But there’s another level to it: Why was I right or wrong? Did a team let me down, or did I vastly overrate/underrate their potential?

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Twenty months ago I pegged Burnley to get relegated with an almost record-low amount of points. The Clarets qualified for the Europa League, and I ate my words (even if Sean Dyche‘s men seemingly out-performed every metric on Earth in spite of stats, like some old man claiming Man City wins because of “better chemistry, not talent”).

Cardiff City
Predicted finish: 20
Actual finish: 18

How wrong was I? Not. As much credit as the Bluebirds got for grinding every week, and as much of a difference as the late Emiliano Sala could’ve been to their fortunes, they completed passes at an almost absurdly-bad 63.9 percent rate while having just 39.1 percent of the ball. It was bad.

Huddersfield Town
Predicted finish: 19
Actual finish: 20

How wrong was I? Not. Huddersfield Town managed a league-worst .4 attempts per game from inside the six-yard box, and were one of only five teams to attempt less than six shots per game from inside the 18.

Watford
Predicted finish: 18
Actual finish: 11

How wrong was I? Pretty wrong. Javi Gracia‘s men were strong against bad teams — for the most part — but never sprung another real upset after beating Spurs to go 4-0 early in the season. Record against the Top Six? 1W-0D-11L.

Bournemouth
Predicted finish: 17
Actual finish: 14

How wrong was I? Eh. The Cherries were never really in trouble thanks to a 6-2-2 start, but man did they ride their luck.

Burnley
Predicted finish: 16
Actual finish: 15

How wrong was I? I’ve learned my lesson. Regardless of how much talent appears to be on a Sean Dyche roster, he’s a rich man’s Tony Pulis and should not be doubted.

The face Sean Dyche makes before he fist fights an entire village. Terrifying. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Southampton
Predicted finish: 15
Actual finish: 16

How wrong was I? With respect to Mark Hughes, I thought Saints’ season would come down to when he was sacked and who they identified to replace him. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s in a good place.

Brighton and Hove Albion
Predicted finish: 14
Actual finish: 17

How wrong was I? A bit wrong, and I pretty much blame Pascal Gross, who back slid from 7 goals and 8 assists in his Premier League debut to just three and three in Year No. 2. The Seagulls didn’t score a single goal from outside the 18.

Wolves
Predicted finish: 13
Actual finish: 7

How wrong was I? It’s not simply about buying players — see: Fulham — but about acquiring hungry players. Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota, and several others had points to prove, and Jimenez especially made it well.

Newcastle United
Predicted finish: 12
Actual finish: 13

How wrong was I? To be honest, this went about as I expected given the brutal fixture list to start the season. Had I known Miguel Almiron would’ve transitioned so nicely from MLS to the PL, I might’ve had them 10th.

 (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Fulham
Predicted finish: 11
Actual finish: 19

How wrong was I? Very, but to my defense so were most people. On paper, the Cottagers improved more than even Wolves.

Crystal Palace
Predicted finish: 10
Actual finish: 12

How wrong was I? The stats kinda back me up, and it may be worth noting for next season that the Palace’s results didn’t match its performances. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luka Milivojevic, and Wilfried Zaha gave them difference makers in all thirds of the field, and it’s surprising they didn’t push a bit higher on the table.

Leicester City
Predicted finish: 9
Actual finish: 9

How wrong was I? Not. The Foxes were pretty infuriating all year. Maybe Brendan Rodgers‘ ego and power will match the player power that’s run the club since they won the title. That said, the inconsistency and tumult shouldn’t be a surprise in a season the club had to deal with its owner dying on a match day.

West Ham United
Predicted finish: 8
Actual finish: 10

How wrong was I? Not really. I thought it would take Manuel Pellegrini some time to put his men together, but I didn’t predict the Irons would get a total of 37 appearances from Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, and Carlos Sanchez.

Everton
Predicted finish: 7
Actual finish: 8

How wrong was I? It took Marco Silva longer than expected to get his men humming, but think of this: If Jordan Pickford doesn’t give Divock Origi a derby winner, Everton is going to Europe. I know, I know… chaos theory. But still.

Richarlison (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur
Predicted finish: 6
Actual finish: 4

How wrong was I? Like many, I was stunned that Spurs didn’t spend this summer and thought injuries would hurt them. They did, but only to the extent that Tottenham wasn’t able to sustain a title challenge. Spurs rarely gave the ball away, and the only teams that averaged fewer “times dispossessed” than Tottenham’s 9.2 per 90 were teams that never had the ball: Brighton, Cardiff, and Burnley.

Arsenal
Predicted finish: 5
Actual finish: 5

How wrong was I? Spot-on. It was going to take time for the Gunners to come together following a first managerial change in ages, but Arsenal had the offense to challenge for the Top Four. Surprisingly for Arsenal, they averaged just eight dribbles per game, 12th in the PL. Unai Emery had them more cautious than usual.

Chelsea
Predicted finish: 4
Actual finish: 3

How wrong was I? Not. Maurizio Sarri is not for everyone, but he knows how to get results. Granted Gonzalo Higuain was his guy, but he did it without a top striker.

Liverpool
Predicted finish: 3
Actual finish: 2

How wrong was I? Well, considering the Reds had one of the best runners-up finishes of all-time, quite wrong. Mostly, I didn’t expect Mohamed Salah to deliver again and he mostly did (save for a late winter slump).

Manchester United
Predicted finish: 2
Actual finish: 6

How wrong was I? Real wrong. Almost as wrong as United looks for canning Jose Mourinho. The manager needed to leave town, but there was a reason he was playing so packed-in. Ask yourself this: If Ed Woodward gave Mourinho the use of Toby Alderweireld, would Spurs and United be flipped?

Manchester City
Predicted finish: 1
Actual finish: 1

How wrong was I? On point. How good was City? For a club that ranked No. 1 in possession, they were only dispossessed 10.3 times per match. That was the 8th fewest total in the league.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Post-season

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Why make power rankings when a season is complete, each team having played each other twice to give a complete representation of their quality?

Because now that we know who’s won the league, made the Top Four, and been relegated, there’s a sea of changes amongst the teams in between.

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Plus, we’ll take into account the quality of finish, big obstacles, and how the clubs are positioned for 2019/20.


20. Fulham — Given the spend, and the names, there’s no question their season was the biggest failure of any team in the Premier League.
Last week: 17
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

19. Huddersfield Town — In some ways, it’s amazing the Terriers lasted two seasons.
Last week: 19
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

18. Cardiff City — I’m tempted to put them outside the Bottom Three for the effort, but relegated is relegated.
Last week: 20
Season high: 13
Season low: 20


17. Brighton and Hove Albion — Just may enter next season as the joint-favorite to go down.
Last week: 18
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

16. Burnley — Is Sean Dyche a scarier Tony Pulis?
Last week: 16
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

15. Southampton — What will Ralph Hasenhuttl buy this offseason?
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

14. Bournemouth — Has Eddie Howe reached the peak of what he can do at the Vitality Stadium? Terrific seasons for Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

13. Newcastle United — Will Rafa stay, and will Ashley spend? Both probably matter equally.
Last week: 13
Season high: 11
Season low: 19

12. Crystal Palace — What happens post-Zaha?
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

11. Watford — Petered out, but could still get silverware.
Last week: 12
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

10. West Ham United — Give Pellegrini another offseason — and the continued services of Felipe Anderson — and the Irons may challenge for at least a cup.
Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

9. Manchester United — What does it say that the players didn’t vote Paul Pogba as club Player of the Year? Plenty.
Last week: 8
Season high: 3
Season low: 14

8. Leicester City — Full credit to Brendan Rodgers for finishing strong despite a gamut of fixtures. You’d probably want their roster of Manchester United’s right now, to be honest.
Last week: 8
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

7. Arsenal — The focus has been on Europa League for weeks. What would losing the final and missing out on the Champions League mean to Unai Emery‘s recruiting efforts?
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

6. Wolves — Tasked with finishing strong to give themselves the best shot at the Europa League, Wolves won three before losing to Liverpool. A consistency they sought all year arrived late.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

5. Everton — Without European football and with another year together, will be the sexy pick to climb into the Top Six.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 15


4. Chelsea — Third on the table, fourth on our charts; What looms once Hazard leaves Stamford Bridge?
Last week: 3
Season high: 1
Season low: 7

3. Tottenham Hotspur — Navigating the stadium delays and dealing with plenty of injuries, Spurs impressed again.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Liverpool — An outstanding season, amazing really, but the latest without a title in the Premier League era.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

1. Manchester City — You come at the king, you best not miss. Even by 11 millimeters. Now will UEFA hit its target?
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

Harry Kane named in latest England squad

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The England squad for the 2019 UEFA Nations League finals has been released.

Captain Harry Kane is fit enough to be named in the initial 27-man squad, as England play the Netherlands in the inaugural UEFA Nations League finals in Guimaraes on June 6, and will then play either Switzerland or Portugal in the final or third-place match.

Kane has been out since early April with an ankle injury and Gareth Southgate is hopeful he will be able to play in the games, as the star striker is set to return and be involved for Tottenham in their UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool in Madrid on Jun. 1.

Southgate admitted that Kane’s status is still “unknown” for these games, but the Three Lions are willing to take that risk.

With up to 10 England players involved in the UCL final, many will only link up with England a few days before their semifinal against the Netherlands.

One of the big surprises is no James Maddison in the squad despite his good form for Leicester in the final weeks of the season, but that is due to the England U21 squad being the European Championships this summer. Southampton’s Nathan Redmond was called up to the squad for just the second time after his fine second half to the season under Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Below is the squad in full.