Premier League managers’ playing careers rated, including Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

4 Sep

All 20 Premier League managers have done exceptionally well to get into the position they’re in.

They’re in charge of teams in, arguably, the best league in the world – but what were they like as players?

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola played for Barcelona at senior level for over ten years
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Some reached the very top of football, playing for huge clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona.

However, others didn’t have so much to put on their CV’s when they were trying to break into management.

Below you can see where each Premier League manager ranks based on their playing careers, according to talkSPORT.com.

20. Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)

The veteran manager is best known for his days in the dugout and with good reason too.

Hodgson played for Palace at youth level but could never break into the first-team and then went on to play non-league football at a string of clubs for several years.

He began his training to become a coach in his early twenties so it’s no surprise Hodgson occupies bottom spot in this chart.

Hodgson never really made it as a player
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19. Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City)

He didn’t have much of a playing career at senior level but this was through no fault of Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman, who has managed Swansea and Liverpool in the Premier League before taking his current post at Leicester, had to retire as a professional at 20-years-old due to a genetic knee injury.

Like Hodgson, Rodgers studied coaching very young and has built up his name ever since.

18. Daniel Farke (Norwich City)

The German has taken Norwich back to the big time and their attractive playing style should see the Canaries get a lot of good results this season.

Farke, 42, has already achieved more as a manager than he ever did as a player
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However, Farke’s career as a player was not so good as he spent his short playing career in the lower levels of German football, representing SV Lippstadt, Bonner SC and SV Meppen.

17. Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)

Another one whose playing career was blighted by injury, Cherries boss Howe enjoyed limited success before turning to management.

He begun his career at Bournemouth and was signed by Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth in 2002 but sustained a knee injury shortly afterwards.

Pompey got promoted to the Premier League in 2003 but Howe was not part of that success and he eventually hung up his boots in 2007, aged 29.

It’s likely Howe would have had more success as a player were it not for his injuries
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16. Chris Wilder (Sheffield United)

Sheffield United manager Wilder is living the dream by managing the club he supports in the top flight and he was arguably living the dream at the start of his playing career too by playing for them.

But after six years at Bramall Lane, via four different loan spells, Wilder was offloaded to Rotherham United.

The former right-back played for eleven different clubs in his playing career but did not see any kind of success compared to what he’s experienced as a manager.

15. Dean Smith (Aston Villa)

Villans boss Smith played for five different clubs in the football league over a 16-year playing career but his success was limited.

Smith is now in charge of Villa, the team he grew up supporting
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Smith came close to achieving promotion to the third tier of English football with Leyton Orient but the O’s lost in the play-off final twice.

The closest he ever got to the Premier League as a player was when he was at Sheffield Wednesday, who were one league below for one season.

14. Sean Dyche (Burnley)

A promising start to former Nottingham Forest man Dyche’s playing career was put on hold by a broken leg and after that he had to settle with bouncing around clubs in the lower divisions.

Probably the most memorable moment of his playing career saw him reach the FA Cup semi-finals with Chesterfield in 1997 where they almost beat Premier League side Middlesbrough.

12. Sean Dyche (Burnley)
Dyche almost helped Chesterfield to surprise FA Cup glory
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Dyche scored a penalty which put Chesterfield 2-0 up against Boro at Old Trafford but the game finished 3-3. Boro booked their place in the final by winning the replay 3-0.

13. Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)

By his own admission, Klopp was not a particularly talented footballer and probably would have moved into management sooner than he did if Mainz let him.

Klopp played for five different German clubs but his days at Mainz are what his playing days are best known for.

He played for them for eleven years but never played in the Bundesliga despite going close to promotion a couple of times. He became manager in February 2001 and the rest as they say is history.

Klopp has achieved plenty as a manager, however
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12. Marco Silva (Everton) 

The Toffees boss edges out Klopp as he managed to make a grand total of two appearances in Portugal’s top flight but Silva didn’t have much of a playing career.

These appearances came while on loan at S.C. Campomaiorense but Silva spent most of his playing days at second or third division clubs in Portugal.

11. Graham Potter (Brighton)

You could argue that Potter has somewhat come from nowhere in recent seasons, however, he has plenty of experience playing in England.

The Brighton boss played for twelve different clubs including a season-long spell at Southampton in the Premier League, which helped him earn his only international cap for England’s Under-21 side.

It remains to be seen whether Potter will be a success as Brighton boss
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10. Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham)

The Chilean was a one-club man throughout his 13-year playing career, representing Universidad de Chile.

Pellegrini started when the club were going through a lean patch of form but they won the league title in 1979. He hung up his boots in 1986 aged 32.

9. Unai Emery (Arsenal)

Although he made just five LaLiga appearances, Emery enjoyed a decent career playing in the second tier of Spanish football, making over 200 appearances over the space of seven seasons.

However, a knee injury brought the Arsenal manager’s playing career to a premature end in 2004/05 and he retired from the game aged 32.

Emery has managed some big sides in Europe including Valencia, Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain
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8. Ralph Hasenhuttl (Southampton)

Saints boss Hasenhuttl spent most of his playing career in his homeland of Austria and enjoyed a good amount of success there.

He won the Austrian Bundesliga four times and Austrian Cup twice, before having a spell with German side FC Cologne which didn’t really work out.

7. Javi Gracia (Watford)

After breaking into LaLiga by helping UE Lleida achieve promotion in 1993, Gracia established himself as a top flight player.

He went down a division by signing for Villarreal in 1999 but was part of their side which got promoted before going back down four years later with Cordoba where he saw out the final year of his playing days.

Gracia is Watford’s longest ever serving manager in the Premier League, having been appointed in January 2018
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6. Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)

Die hard England fans will know Pochettino as the player who gave away a penalty during England’s victory over Argentina at the 2002 World Cup, even if Michael Owen did go down a bit too easily.

The Argentine played at a good level though, representing Espanyol for ten years over two spells and played for French giants Paris Saint-Germain for two years.

Pochettino’s most notable achievements as a player include two Copa del Rey titles.

He can also count Ronaldinho as a former teammate, while he shared a room with Diego Maradona on international duty with Argentina.

5. Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves)

The Wolves boss won a bucket load of trophies in Portugal, particularly during his days at Porto.

Nuno won a surprising amount of trophies as a player
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Nuno won the Primeira Liga five times, the UEFA Cup and a Champions League title under a certain Jose Mourinho.

However, it should be noted that Nuno was the second choice goalkeeper throughout his glory days at Porto.

4. Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)

All this man knows is success. Guardiola has won trophies as a player and a manager.

The Manchester City boss is best known as a player for Barcelona where he won LaLiga five times, the Copa del Rey twice and was also in the team which helped them win the European Cup in 1992 – the Blaugrana’s first title in Europe’s premier club competition.

He also had some success at international level, helping Spain to Olympic gold at the 1992 games in Barcelona.

3. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United)

If Solskjaer can have similar success as Manchester United manager as he did as a player then fans will be happy.

Solskjaer’s best moment as a player saw him score the winner in the 1999 Champions League final
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The Norwegian won six Premier Leagues, two FA Cups and a Champions League title in 1999, scoring the winning goal in the dramatic 2-1 triumph over Bayern Munich.

Solskjaer was something of a fringe player at Old Trafford at times but that was only due to the huge talent the United squad had when he was there.

2. Steve Bruce (Newcastle United)

His managerial career has had plenty of setbacks but there’s no doubting Bruce enjoyed a great playing career.

Bruce is best known for his days at Manchester United where he won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Amazingly though, he never made a senior appearance for England’s national team despite captaining the Red Devils.

Steve Bruce (left) helped United win their first league title in 27 years
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1. Frank Lampard (Chelsea)

But at the top has to be new Chelsea boss Lampard, who is arguably the club’s greatest ever player.

Super Lamps, as he’s affectionately known, won everything on offer for club players including the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League.

He also finished second to Ronaldinho in the Ballon d’Or awards in 2005.

Lampard is Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer
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Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Wolves boss Nuno worried VAR will take away ‘most important’ moment in football after Ruben Neves’ stunner vs Man United is reviewed

20 Aug

Wolves head coach Nuno has fears over VAR after seeing his side hold Manchester United to a draw in a match which was affected by a lengthy delay.

The Red Devils dropped points at Molineux with Ruben Neves cancelling out Anthony Martial’s opener, and Paul Pogba later missing a penalty as the game ended 1-1.

Wolves came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw at Molineux
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Neves goal was a true stunner from the edge of the penalty area, though it was forced to go to a VAR review as there were questions over a possible offside in the build-up.

Celebrations were slightly muted due to the review, and even after the goal was allowed to stand chants of ‘f*** VAR, f*** VAR’ could be heard from the Molineux terraces.

And Nuno, whose side have drawn both of their opening two league matches this season, fears VAR in its current guise could destroy the most important part of football – the emotion of scoring a goal.

“I didn’t want to lose that moment,” the Portuguese said. “I don’t know how they’re going to solve it, I gave my opinion to it, but it’s the emotion.

“You celebrate a goal and it’s such a beautiful moment, so when you are stood in silence waiting for it, don’t take that away from the people, because it’s the most important moment in football.”

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Neves has now scored 10 goals from outside the penalty area for Wolves, and Nuno had praise for the midfielder’s strike, which flew past David de Gea and clipped the underside of the crossbar before nestling in the back of the net.

“It was a very, very good goal,” Nuno added. “Ruben kicked the ball well, put it out of the reach of the goalkeeper. Just there, spot on. Very good kick.”

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action. We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Wolves vs Manchester United team news: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer drops Paul Pogba hint as Daniel James gets first start

19 Aug

Manchester United travel to Molineux on Monday night to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers in the last remaining fixture from the second round of Premier League action.

The Red Devils made a perfect start to the campaign as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men recorded an emphatic 4-0 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford.

For Wolves, a 1-1 draw against Leicester City away from home was a positive start, but Nuno Espirito Santo will want to build on that.

Nuno Espirito Santo bested Ole Gunnar Solskjaer twice at Molineux last season
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Confirmed teams

Wolves XI: Patricio, Doherty, Bennett, Coady (C), Boly, Jonny, Neves, Moutinho, Dendoncker, Jimenez, Jota

Man United XI: De Gea (C), Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw, Pogba, McTominay, Rashford, Lingard, James, Martial

Wolves were undefeated in three matches against Manchester United in all competitions last season and are aiming to win three consecutive meetings for the first time since 1980.

United have lost more Premier League away games at Wolves than they have won and are without a victory in their last four Premier League away games, their worst run since a seven-game streak between April and November 2014.

Monday night fixtures have brought about contrasting results for both sides, with Wolves having never won a Premier League game on a Monday night from five previous attempts.

Meanwhile, United have won 68% of their Premier League games played on a Monday, which is the highest on a specific day of the week for any team (who have played a minimum of 10 games on that day).

Solskjaer led United to a 4-0 win on the opening weekend of the seasonOle Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side would go into the fixture with a quiet confidence against a side who took 16 points off the Premier League’s top six.

“Wolves are a hard team to break down. They defend deep and they don’t give you a lot space.

“But our form, our attitude and the mood of course after a win is great, so we go into Monday’s game confident.”

The Baby-Faced Assassin is also confident Paul Pogba will remain at the club beyond the end of the transfer window, despite speculation linking him with an Old Trafford exit.

Unlike fellow wantaway star Romelu Lukaku, Pogba knuckled down during pre-season and provided two assists in the 4-0 win over Chelsea in United’s Premier League opener.

Paul Pogba starred for United against Chelsea
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The midfielder was naturally upbeat after that victory but talk swirled once more when he also admitted “there’s always that question mark” about his future.

“You always put question marks around Paul,” United boss Solskjaer said when those comments were put to him ahead of Monday’s trip.

“I don’t think it’s odd saying enjoy playing, I have fun with my team-mates, I enjoy what I’m doing, I love my job and enjoy the game.

“Of course, that sentence with the question mark about him, there’s always question marks about Paul.

“There’s not one press conference that I’ve not answered a question about Paul Pogba. Eighty per cent of what he said was that he enjoyed that game and his time here.”

VAR delays ruining ‘the spirit of the game’, says Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo after draw with Leicester

12 Aug

Nuno Espirito Santo insists he is a fan of VAR, but claims the lengthy delays it caused in the Premier League this weekend ruined ‘the spirit of the game’.

The Video Assistant Referee system was used in the English top flight for the first time during the opening weekend, and there has already been plenty of controversy – including in Wolves’ 0-0 draw with Leicester City.

Nuno Espirito Santo wants officials to have better communication with players and fans during VAR checks
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Espirito Santo’s side were denied a 1-0 victory over the Foxes, who benefited from Leander Dendoncker’s second-half goal being ruled out as replays showed the ball hitting team-mate Willy Boly’s raised arm before he smashed the ball in.

You’d forgive the Wolves boss for being angry following the game, and the Portuguese did admit that six months ago his side would likely have come away with three points.

However, he believes VAR is a good thing – his only gripe is the current confusion that reigns within the stadium when VAR checks are made.

And he also believes officials should have better communication with the players and supporters to ensure the ‘spirit of the game’ is not spoiled.

Speaking to talkSPORT’s Geoff Peters following the match, Espirito Santo said: “I didn’t see the images yet, but I’m concerned about the tempo.

“I’m concerned about the two minutes we celebrate, then we wait and then the Leicester fans celebrate a non-goal – this is not the spirit of the game.

“I must see the images. I trust VAR but I think it’s good for the referees to have dialogue, to explain what they saw and judge for the people and for the players who are involved to understand.

Currently, a big screen message is the only indication fans and players have that a VAR check is being made – many argue more should be communicated to prevent the current confusion
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Wolves’ goal celebrations were in vain as their goal was chalked off
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“With their mix of feelings, under stress and competition to settle down and play again – it’s an issue and it’s going to be an issue until everything is clear.

“Is it a handball? Six months ago that was a goal. These are the questions everybody is going to have, it’s causing discussions and we’re talking it now. We didn’t speak about this before.”

The Premier League have confirmed around 70 incidents were checked during the first ten matches of the 2019/20 campaign – with it also playing a particularly significant role in Manchester City’s 5-0 victory over West Ham.

Man City also had goal ruled out by VAR in their victory over West Ham

There were seven checks in total in City’s massive win, which led to two overturned decisions – Gabriel Jesus having goal ruled out for offside and Sergio Aguero re-taking a penalty that was saved for encroachment, with the Argentine then scoring his second attempt.

Espirito Santo added: “I’m interested in the game. I want my team to compete and I want everything to be fair. When we draw, lose or win, no issue.

“This is what the Premier League is all about and I’m so proud of being here, but a product like the Premier League should never lose the spirit of the game that we have.

“Do I like VAR? Of course, everybody wants things to be fair, but we are concerned about it’s impact in the game.”

Raul Jimenez scores twice as Wolves dominate Pyunik 4-0 in Armenia to put Premier League side within touching distance of Europa League Play-Off spot

8 Aug

Wolves are closing in on a Europa League Play-Off spot with a comprehensive 4-0 win in the qualifying third round first leg against Pyunik.

Matt Doherty’s opener, a double from Raul Jimenez and Ruben Neves’ late penalty made it an easy evening in Armenia for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, who begin their Premier League campaign on Sunday.

They will look to complete the job next Thursday in the second leg at Molineux and move into a play-off against Torino or Shakhtyor.

Nuno Espirito Santo is leading Wolves on a European tour
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A 6,370-mile round-trip was not ideal for Wolves, but Doherty’s 29th-minute goal provided a nice tonic.

The defender was played in by Joao Moutinho and, in yards of space, he rolled home a cool finish into the far corner.

Diogo Jota missed the opportunity to make it two, but Jimenez made no mistake shortly before the break.

Jota made amends for his earlier miss by slipping the Mexican striker in and he produced an emphatic finish into the roof of the net.

The match, and probably the tie, was then made safe less than a minute after the restart.

Jota again was the provider, slipping in Jimenez who made no mistake when through one-on-one.

Jimenez’s chance to take the match ball home was denied by a header cleared off the line, but Wolves could not be prevented from scoring a fourth late on.

Neves made no mistake from the spot after Patrick Crutone was felled in stoppage time.

Wolves vs Crusaders: Nuno Espirito Santo proud to lead club back into Europe

24 Jul

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has revealed his pride ahead of their European return, which will be live on talkSPORT 2.

They host Crusaders at Molineux on Thursday in the Europa League second round qualifying – the first time in 39 years the club have played in European competition.

Nuno Espirito Santo has led a remarkable rise at Wolves
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Nuno has taken Wolves from the Sky Bet Championship to Europe in two years after winning the second tier in 2018 and last season’s seventh placed Premier League finish.

Wolves last played in Europe when they beat PSV Eindhoven 1-0, losing 3-2 on aggregate, in October 1980 and Nuno is relishing their big night.

“I feel a lot of pride because I’m the manager of a fantastic group of players and of men who want to improve,” he said.

“It’s our third year together, we know each other very well and we expect things to improve.

Wolves won the Barclays Asia Trophy in pre-season
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“No matter who you play against it’s about how you prepare yourself to compete. It’s a big, big game for the club. It’s up to us to make something special so people are proud of us.

“It was a journey we started two years ago, I remember, we were clear. We tried to build a team, a strong team which could play and compete in every game. This is our philosophy.”

Raul Jimenez and Romain Saiss are unlikely to feature at Molineux in their graded comeback.

Striker Jimenez and midfielder Saiss are back in training after returning on Monday following their international duties.

Nuno’s men finished seventh last season
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Jimenez won the Gold Cup with Mexico while Saiss helped Morocco to the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations.

“They haven’t had the same period of rest as the others and we have to manage them but they are ready in case we decide. They are fit and healthy,” said Nuno.

Belfast-based Crusaders finished fourth in the Danske Bank Premiership last season but reached the Europa League by winning the Irish Cup.

Nuno added: “Things are going well and we are inside what we expect. We are ready to do it.

The manager has brought good times back to Molineux
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“We go game-by-game, the next game is the Europa League qualifier and that’s the most important one.”

Matt Doherty remains sidelined with a knee injury he suffered earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Crusaders’ Rory Hale is eyeing another goalscoring outing at Molineux.

The 22-year-old has already netted at Wolves for Aston Villa’s Under-23s.

Crusaders are huge underdogs on Thursday but Hale is eager to repeat his scoring efforts.

Chelsea won the Europa League last season
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“I’ve played at Molineux twice and won both games, 1-0 and 2-1,” the midfielder told the Belfast Telegraph.

“I managed to score a late winner in the 2-1 game with an 85th-minute penalty kick in March 2017, so if anyone wants any scoring tips there I’m ready to offer advice.

“Both games were with Aston Villa’s Under-23s against Wolves Under-23s.

“This is a whole different kettle of fish, a completely different atmosphere with the added significance of Wolves’ first European tie in nearly 40 years. Their fans will be up for it.”

Next Chelsea manager odds: Frank Lampard clear favourite with bookmakers to replace Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge

17 May

Frank Lampard is the clear favourite with bookmakers to replace Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea.

Even though he has led the Blues back into the Champions League, to a Europa League Final and to the Carabao Cup Final, Sarri’s position is under threat.

Maurizio Sarri’s position at Stamford Bridge is under threat
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After arriving from Napoli last summer, the Italian enjoyed a terrific start to life in the Premier League.

But clashes with senior players and a looming transfer ban means the chances of Sarri enjoying a second season in Stamford Bridge are dwindling.

According to reports, club legend Frank Lampard is in pole position to take charge should Roman Abramovich decide to pull the proverbial trigger.

Lampard’s first season in management has seen him take Derby County to the Championship Play-Off final after a heroic effort by overturning a first leg deficit away from home against Leeds.

Lampard has the smallest matter of the Championship Play-Off Final to contend with first
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Despite his novice stature, the appointment of the 40-year-old as Chelsea boss would certainly sit well with fans.

But who else is in the frame to be the next Chelsea boss according to the bookmakers?

Scroll down to see the favourite, according to the sackrace.com.

7. Massimiliano Allegri – 16/1

Antonio Conte is reportedly set to replace Allegri at Juventus
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3= Gianfranco Zola – 12/1

The Chelsea legend is currently Sarri’s assistant at Stamford Bridge
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3= Erik Ten Hag – 12/1

The Ajax boss led his young side to the Champions League semi-final
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3= Diego Simeone – 12/1

Simeone could follow Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann out of the Atletico exit door
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3= Laurent Blanc – 12/1

Blanc was last in charge of Paris Saint-Germain
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2. Nuno Espirito Santo – 17/2

The Portuguese led Wolves to a 7th placed finish in the Premier League this season
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1. Frank Lampard – 2/1

It would certainly be popular, but appointing Lampard would be a huge risk for Chelsea
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Joao Felix next club odds: Wolves, Juventus, West Ham and Manchester United in the race to sign £100m-rated wonderkid

30 Apr

Wolverhampton Wanderers have emerged as surprise candidates to sign Benfica wonderkid Joao Felix.

The 19-year-old has dazzled in his debut season in the Primeira Liga, scoring 13 goals and registering seven assists.

Benfica’s midfielder Joao Felix could be on his way to Molineux

As a result of his eye-catching form, some of the biggest clubs in Europe have understandably been linked to the starlet, who is seen as the heir to Cristiano Ronaldo by some in Portugal.

However, the latest odds suggest it is Wolves who are second favourites to sign Felix – behind Serie A champions Juventus.

According to oddschecker.com, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain are also in the running at 5/1 with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer set to be handed a massive transfer kitty.

In another extraordinary twist, Wolves are joined by fellow mid-table side West Ham in the betting, as the Hammers can be found at 8/1 along with Manchester City.

JOAO FELIX NEXT CLUB ODDS

Could we be seeing the £100m-rated star in the Premier League?

  • Juventus – 3/1
  • Wolves – 4/1
  • PSG – 5/1
  • Manchester United – 5/1
  • Manchester City – 8/1
  • West Ham – 8/1
  • Chelsea – 12/1
  • Arsenal – 14/1
  • Liverpool – 16/1
  • Tottenham – 16/1
  • Barcelona – 16/1 
Could Nuno Espirito Santo be about to pull off one of the biggest Premier League shocks ever?

Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly also in contention, but none of the Premier League giants are as close as Wolves.

Oddschecker spokesperson George Elek said: “Joao Felix has some of the biggest clubs in the world chasing him, but Wolves do seem to have an advantage when shopping in Portugal.

“With both Wolves and Leicester recruiting some of Europe’s top talent, could the days of the Big Six be under threat?”

Wolves vs Arsenal teams: Sokratis returns from suspension to replace Shkodran Mustafi, Nuno Espirito Santo makes one change

24 Apr

Arsenal boss Unai Emery has made seven changes as the Gunners look to get their top four hopes back on track when they face Wolves at Molineux on Wednesday night.

Emery’s men were surprisingly beaten 3-2 by Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium, which saw much-maligned defender Shkodran Mustafi have another shocker.

Mustafi was at fault for a goal Wilfried Zaha scored

Mustafi has been replaced by Sokratis Papastathopolous, who returns from his suspension.

Another notable change sees Alex Iwobi come in for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is not in the squad due to a small sinus procedure. Bernd Leno, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette are the only survivors from the Palace game.

Iwobi comes in for the injured Aubameyang

A win or a draw will put Arsenal in fourth place following Chelsea’s disappointing draw at home to Burnley on Monday night.

As for Wolves, Nuno Espirito Santo has made just one change from their goalless draw at home to relegation-threatened Brighton on Saturday.

Leander Dendoncker comes in for Morgan Gibbs-White. Below you can see the confirmed team news for both sides.

Wolves: Rui Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Joao Moutinho, Jonny, Jimenez, Jota

Subs: Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa, Gibbs-White, John Ruddy, Saiss, Ruben Vinagre, Traore

Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Papastathopoulos, Koscielny, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi, Lacazette

Subs: Cech, Elneny, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Nketiah, Willock

Premier League: Why Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo should win Manager of the Season ahead of Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp

6 Apr

The Premier League is drawing towards it’s conclusion and we are no closer to knowing who will be crowned champions come May.

What we do know, however, is which clubs have overperformed and underperformed throughout the campaign.

Nuno has done exceptionally well at Wolves

Manchester City top the list for the overachievers with a historic quadruple remarkably still in their sights.

While Huddersfield and Fulham, who are both already relegated from the division, have endured miserable campaigns and will already be preparing for next season in the Championship.

One team, however, have a strong case to be considered the best performing club in the league; Wolves – and this is in no small part down to their manager.

Nuno Espirito Santo has achieved remarkable things with his side – and with awards season round the corner, here’s why he should be given the accolade as the top coach.

Record season

One of the more simple reasons why Nuno should be named manager of the year is because he has tumbled records with his side.

Wolves have an inferior wage bill to the top six and their mid-table competitors such as West Ham, Everton and Leicester but they are miles ahead of them even though they haven’t featured in the top-flight since 2012.

They have smashed their previous points record (40) with nine matches remaining and are on course to finish at least in the top eight this season.

Since 2001, no newly-promoted club has finished in a higher position than 8th.

Wolves have smashed their Premier League points record

Media approach

Nuno has also conducted himself in a very professional way in his approach to the media all season.

He doesn’t moan when decisions go against his side – like the majority of managers do –  and he has a very honest to the point approach to interviews, which cannot be said for many managers in the league.

Pep Guardiola, as genius as he is, is much harder to read and doesn’t give anything away  – and in contrast to the likes of Jose Mourinho, Nuno doesn’t make out the media are out to get him hell for leather.

Nuno has a calm and honest approach to the media

Style of play

Entertainment factor should be key in deciding which coach gets the top award – and Wolves are genuinely brilliant to watch both home and away.

At Molineux, they give it their all to win every match, no matter who they face.

This was first demonstrated this at the beginning of the season when they ground out a 1-1 draw against City and it hasn’t changed all season.

They demonstrate the perfect shift between attack and defence, as seen by their 2-1 victory over Manchester United in mid-week.

Jimenez has signed permanently from Benfica

On average, they concede just one goal a game at Molineux but they don’t rely on their defence for results either.

Away from home, they approach matches more defensively but still counter with power and pace with front-men Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota leading the line.

They have picked up a point at Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool and also beat Tottenham.

A formidable track-record on the road against the top six.

Recruitment

Nuno has to earn a lot of praise for his superb recruitment in the summer.

He has made some quality buys but has also stuck true to his guns with some of his loyal Championship players – avoiding signing any unnecessary players which cost Fulham so dearly.

Jota had a slow start to the campaign but has been superb in recent months

He signed Diogo Jota, who had a slow start to the season but has been brilliant in recent months.

While Raul Jimenez, who has been one of the best strikers in the league this season, has now signed for a club-record fee from Benfica.

Willy Boly has also been a very good acquisition at the back, forming a good partnership with captain Conor Coady.

While Jonny, who was signed permanently in January, has been a very useful on the left-flank.

Other contenders

Guardiola’s City have been incredible this season, but they haven’t changed how they played from last season.

He added one player in the summer, Riyad Mahrez, who has been uninspiring, and they still play the exact same formation.

Guardiola’s side have been magnificent but he hasn’t changed his set up from last season

Guardiola is the world’s top coach right now but as the award is done on a season basis, Nuno has been more impressive.

Similarly, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been very good this season and are right in it for the title, but they have prioritised the Premier League.

The fact that Wolves have performed so admirably in the league whilst simultaneously reaching the FA Cup semi-finals is a better achievement.