Thoughts On The Bradford City Retained List

 

Bradford City haven't really been having the best of times lately with results just not going their way and managers coming and going for the fun of it. We used to be a club with a solid set of players and a manager that stuck around but since the German takeover things have changed and not for the better up until now where we seem to be getting ideas together and hopefully we will notice a big change this upcoming season. 

Last season started off terribly for us once again and then we had Trueman and Sellars in charge and results started to change and we were moving up the table and looking to head to the playoffs but the last few games didn't go to plan for us and we missed out on the playoffs, we also saw Trueman & Sellars step down from their joint manager position. To say we were doing so terrible at the start of the season though I think we did remarkably well to finish where we did. With Trueman & Sellars stepping down and a new manager coming in I think it was inevitable that we were going to see a mass exodus of players who were no longer under contract especially as so many players were actually out of contract at the end of the season anyway however, some of the players we have let go have actually come as a shock to so many of us fans. Granted a new manager is going to come in and rebuild with his own players but some key players have now gone and we are really needing to bring in some fantastic new recruits if we want to even attempt to get out of League 2 this year which is what we definitely need to do. 

We ended up releasing 9 players at the end of the season and here is who we lost...

Anthony O'Connor

I wasn't exactly a fan of Anthony O'Connor up until last season when my opinion on him changed. At the start of the season he was one of the only players who seemed to want to play each game and he even did really well when we played him out of his usual position. It was nice to see him playing well and showing us what he was capable of. It is going to be interesting to see who is going to end up replacing him.

Billy Clarke

Unfortunately it wasn't 3rd time lucky for Clarke and once again he has left the club. Clarke is one of those players for me who is hit and miss but for some reason we never seemed to get his full potential. I aren't sure if it was because of the players around him or us not playing him in a position that suited him best but we just couldn't get the best out of him and he has left the club once again. 

Clayton Donaldson 

I have to admit I was a bit surprised by this one as I thought with his age and injuries he would have wanted to end his career at his childhood club but I guess everyone else thought different. I honestly think from the middle of the season Donaldson played brilliantly, he got a few goals and his brilliant long throws got us into some threatening positions to create some chances for us. I think even keeping him as a sub could have been a good choice for us as his experience and throws could have served us well for another season in League 2. 

Connor Shanks

I never actually got to see young Shanks play but at 19 years old I can see him being a player who works his way up the ranks elsewhere as I have heard is a player with a fair bit of potential. Leaving Bradford could be a good move for him with him still being young as even if he has to drop to the National League, game time will help him get his name out there and get him some more experience. 

Connor Wood

Now this one really did surprise me as I thought we would have done everything we could to keep the left back at the club as he has been an influential squad member for a few seasons now. I have heard he had been approached by other clubs in January but we managed to hold onto him but I am intrigued to see where he is going to end up as he is a player who could play really well even in the bigger leagues. I just hope he doesn't end up as a bench warmer as he is too good to not be getting game time. I am definitely going to miss seeing him in a City shirt. 

Harry Pritchard 

I think Pritchard struggled to find his feet at City and injuries he picked up didn't help him out at all. Again I don't think we got to see Pritchard's full potential in a Bradford shirt but he did put in a few good performances when we needed them. 

Lee Novak

I was actually pretty excited when we signed Novak and to be honest he did put in some great performances and scored some brilliant goals for us. Unfortunately we didn't get to see him at his best due to injury and I really do wonder if his age and injuries are a reason we have released him as I think he could have played a big role in getting us out of League 2.

Will Huffer

We never actually got to see young goalkeeper Huffer play but honestly I don't think we had any intention of playing him when we signed him. I think we got him in a bit of a panic when O'Donnel was out for a lengthy spell just in case Hornby picked up an injury too. It is going to be interesting to see  where he ends up next. 

Zeli Ismail 

Ismail is a player who actually impressed me when we actually got to see him play as he was great on the ball and also had a fair bit of pace. Once again though he seemed to really struggle with injuries throughout his time at the club which I think may have played a part in us letting him go because if not I think he could have been a regular starter for the club. 

We only actually have 11 players currently under contract and they are...

Callum Cooke

Charles Vernham 

Elliot Watt 

Finn Cousin-Dawson

Gareth Evans

Levi Sutton

Niall Canavan

Ollie Crankshaw

Paudie O'Connor

Reece Staunton 

Richard O'Donnell

We are definitely left with a nice mixture of players and a few who really started to show us what they were capable of last year such as O'Connor, Watt and Staunton. I think it is going to be interesting to see if we sell any of these players and how much game time they get this season as I think a few of the could end up playing well under Adams, especially the younger ones who could end up learning a lot from him and any experienced players he brings in. 

The club has offered new contract to Jorge Sikora, Kian Scales, Matty Foulds and Sam Hornby so it will be interesting to see if any of these accept a new contract as I think all the players have potential to get game time and help the team progress up the league and due to their young ages they could be at the club for a while. We saw Hornby pulls off some great performances last season before eventually losing his spot to O'Donnell when he returned from injury so it will be interesting to see if he sticks around or not as I think it is all going to depend on how much game time he is going to get. We didn't get to see much of local lad Foulds last season but he is a player who has a lot of potential as we have all seen in the past when he played against us for Everton Under 23's so I think he would definitely be a good player to keep hold of. 

There are definitely a lot of key areas we are going to need to fill this off season to push for promotion but I think now we have Derek Adams on board we can bring in the players we need and really put in a challenge this year. I am definitely looking forward to seeing who we do bring in and finally returning to Valley Parade to see them play. Things might finally be looking up at Bradford City and hopefully we are climbing the leagues like we should be soon to get back playing the football we are more than capable of playing. 

Thoughts On The Team GB Women's Football Squad


The rescheduled 2020 Olympics are almost upon us and Team GB have announced their squad selection. With 4 nations to pick from and a whole list of quality players it was always going to be hard narrowing the selection down to 18 players with some big names bound to miss out. I had a feeling before the team was even released that we would see mainly Lionesses players names on the announcement and that definitely happened with just 3 none England players making the cut. We have see Nobbs left out of the midfield which I can't get my head around as she is a fantastic player who deserves to be at the tournament but I guess if it was just a squad of England players she would have been on the list. Erin Cuthbert is also missing which I have to say I am disappointed with as she is an amazing player who could have provided a lot of potential to the squad and add another attacking threat. I am also surprised to see no Alex Greenwood on the squad list as I believe she had a really good season at Man City last season and with Demi Stokes been out a lot with injury I thought Greenwood would have been a safer bet. We do have a very talented squad going to the competition so lets take a look at it...

Goalkeepers 

Karen Bardsley 

Unfortunately it looks like Karen's Olympics could be over before it has even started due to an injury she has sustained whilst playing for the OL Reign. Fingers crossed it isn't as bad as it seems as I was really hoping to see Karen play in the Olympics as you would think that with recent injuries and the frequency of the tournament this could have been her last Olympic opportunity. 

Ellie Roebuck

Roebuck never fails to surprise me and she is having brilliant seasons year after year, some of the saves she makes are exceptional and she definitely deserves to be playing in the Olympics. Some of the saves she can pull off could prove to be crucial for Team GB's progression through the tournament. 

Defenders 

Millie Bright

If you have read the blog in the past you will know that I love Millie Bright as I think she is an absolutely fantastic defender. I think Millie is a big reason why Chelsea are doing so well lately and for Team GB she can be a great help as a solid defender but we all know she can provide an attacking threat too which is fantastic. 

Lucy Bronze

I think it was a given that Lucy Bronze's name was on the list given how well she has done in recent years and cemented herself as arguably the best right back in the women's game currently. We all know that she can defend brilliantly but also pick put some great crosses and provide some great attacks. She is also great at scoring great goals in competitions so who knows we might get to see another fantastic goal or 2 from her this time around. 

Rachel Daly 

I still find it funny that Daly always seems to be put on the sheets as a defender when in reality these days she is much better in an attacking role. She can provide goals when needed and we have seen that with her at the Houston Dash already this season but she is brilliant at tracking back and putting in some crucial tackles. I hope Daly gets plenty of game time and shows everyone just what she is capable just like what we see from her in the NWSL week in week out. 

Steph Houghton

Houghton is a brilliant defender who's season unfortunately ended earlier than expected due to injury. I am just glad she is now fit for the Euros as I think her experience is going to come in very handy whilst we are competing. Fingers crossed Steph can stay fit throughout the during of our time in the Olympics as she could be very useful for Team GB especially at set pieces which we know she is more than capable of scoring and creating opportunities from. 

Demi Stokes 

This is one of the choices I am surprised by as Demi didn't play much football throughout last season due to injury. I think Greenwood had a great season at left back and might have been a much safer option. Granted Demi is a fantastic player when fit but with such as small squad already I think I would have opted for a safer bet. 

Leah Williamson 

I am glad Leah has made the squad as she really is a great defender. I am really hoping Leah gets some minutes under her belt but to be honest I can see her being more of a stand in just in case of any injuries to the other members of the back line. I think we are yet to see the full potential of Williamson but I think if she gets on the pitch this tournament we are going to see some great performances from her. 

Midfielders

Sophie Ingle 

I am really glad Sophie Ingle made it into the squad as she has had yet another brilliant season and I think she can definitely add some depth to the midfield. I think that Ingle is a fantastic player and her spot in the squad is definitely one that should have been an easy choice. I am excited to see how she links up with the other players that she doesn't play with week in week out. 

Kim Little 

Just like with Ingle I am glad that they have called up Kim Little, we always knew the squad would be English heavy but I was really hoping to see Kim's name on the squad list and I was definitely impressed when it was there. Little is a fantastic player who can bring a lot of experience to the team and again I am excited to see how she links up with the other players in the squad that she doesn't usually play with. 

Jill Scott

Another player who can bring a lot of experience to the squad is Jill Scott, I was so pleased to see her name on the list as who knows if she will make it to another Olympics in 4 years due to age, game time and injuries. I think Scott's ability to both attack and defend well is going to be really beneficial for the squad and her and Little's experience if played together could be just what Team GB needs, lets just hope they do get the chance to play together. 

Keira Walsh 

Walsh is another player who can play really well in the middle of the pitch but honestly I would mainly have her on the bench or play her to give the older players a bit of a break as I think she could make a big impact from off the bench. I just think we are best of opting for a midfield with a lot of experience and playing Walsh when we need to go for a more defensive stance. 

Caroline Weir

I think it was inevitable that Weir's name was going to be on the squad list. She is just improving season upon season and I am loving seeing the player she is becoming. What I love about Weir is she can pull some absolutely sensational goals out of the bag as we have seen with her when she is in the Manchester City shirt, shes great at getting into attacking and creating attacking situations too so I am excited to see her link up with the likes of Fran Kirby as I think it could be amazing and really beneficial to Team GB. 

Forwards 

Lauren Hemp

Hemp is an exceptional player who's ability is beyond someone of her young age and I think other nations are really going to struggle when it comes to defending her and keeping her from creating some great attacking options. When I look at the list of other forwards going to the tournament though I just aren't sure how much game time she will get. Fingers crossed she gets plenty and gets to show everyone what she is capable of. 

Fran Kirby

The form that Kirby is in following illness and injury is absolutely fantastic so it is no surprise to see her name on the squad list. Her link up with Kerr at Chelsea has been brilliant so if she can link up with any of the other Team GB forwards like that throughout the competition I think we are really in for a treat. I really hope we see the Kirby we have seen in the WSL throughout the Olympics as I think she is going to be one of our standout players. 

Nikita Parris 

To be honest I wasn't sure if Parris would make the cut or not but surprisingly she did. To be honest if you go by current form I would probably have picked Ella Toone and put Parris on the reserve list but I guess for tournament experience Parris is a pretty good shout. Fingers crossed a Parris and Kirby link up works really well for us if they get some game time together. 

Georgia Stanway

 Stanway is another young player who has really proved herself over the past few seasons and only seems to be getting better with age. What I love most about Stanway is that she isn't just an attacking threat who grab herself some goals, some absolutely beautiful goals at that, but she also puts in a shift defensively. She isn't afraid to put a tackle in and can really prevent attacks from building up even at the early stages although there are quite a few decisions that go against her she is a great player to be included in the team.  

Ellen White 

Anyone who knows me personally will know that I was never really a fan of White but the past few years my opinion on her has really changed. I think Ellen's experience could be vital for the front line and we all know how capable she is of scoring goals in big tournaments so lets hope she gets plenty more this time around as I think we could do really well with White and Kirby up front with some of the youngsters getting us in dangerous positions. 

Reserves 

Niamh Charles 

Charles is another young player who has had a great season. Charles signed for Chelsea last year from Liverpool and to be honest I was skeptical about her going to a club with so many brilliant players already but she has really slotted herself into the squad and is showing her quality. I honestly think by the next tournament she will be off the reserve list and into the squad as she possesses a lot of quality and ability.  

Sandy MacIver 

It wouldn't surprise me if we actually see MacIver called up into the squad if Bardsley's proves to be enough to keep her from going to Tokyo. MacIver has put in some brilliant performances for Everton this past season and is really pushing for more England game time. I do wonder though if she would have missed out if Earps wasn't in for a minor operation this off season. MacIver is a name I think we are going to be seeing in quite a few tournaments if she carries on playing the way she does.

Ella Toone 

I am really surprised that Toone didn't make it into the squad and honestly like I said earlier I would have swapped her for Parris as Toone has had a brilliant season with Manchester United. She is constantly showing improvement and is working so hard to get United in the positions they are in. She is really starting to show her potential at the club but I really do believe there is still a lot more for us to see from her and by the time the next tournament comes around she could very easily make the squad.

Lotte Wubben - Moy 

When you look at the defense we are taking to the tournament and the names already missing from the list it does make you wonder who would have made it if we could take a bigger squad to the competition as there are a lot of names missing from all the nations that you would have expected to see but it is nice to see that young Wubben-Moy has made the cut for the reserves. Again I think that Wubben-Moy has a lot of potential and even going to the tournament as a reserve will help her out a lot and give her some tournament experience. I think Wubben-Moy is a name we will be seeing more often though especially on England team sheets. 

So there you have it that is how the Team GB women's football team is looking ready for the Tokyo Olympics. I am really looking forward to seeing how we do in this tournament as Team GB women haven't been in the women's football since 2012 so this competition is long overdue. Keep your eyes on the blog and our social media as there will be plenty more Olympics content coming up. Let's hope we can bring home a medal preferably a gold one. 

What do you think to the Team GB squad selection? 

The Euro 2020 Groups & My Group Stage Predictions


Well the Euros finally kick off this Friday and I am definitely ready for a month of football. It might be year late but I think this years tournament is going to be a good one and honestly due to the delay, injuries and just how the groups have been drawn I think we are in for an interesting month where who knows who is going to walk away the winners. By now I normally have a few teams lined up who could make the final however, this time around I really aren't too sure. So here is a look at the groups for the competition and how I personally think they could play out...

Group A 

Italy 

Switzerland

Turkey 

Wales

I honestly think this group could be an interesting one, I think Italy could top it but honestly I think the second place is all to play for. For me though it could be down to Switzerland or Turkey for the 2nd spot and unless Wales can provide some fantastic performances I think that they are unfortunately going to end up bottom of this group although I really do hope I am wrong. 

Group B 

Belgium 

Russia 

Denmark 

Finland

For me I really do believe that Belgium are going to come away the winners of this group but with Denmark very close behind them in second place. I can imagine Russia coming in 3rd place and unfortunately Finland being the bottom of the group. I really do see this being a very close group between Belgium and Denmark and I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out. 

Group C 

Austria 

Netherlands 

North Macedonia 

Ukraine 

The Netherlands could very easily top this group even with Virgil Van Dijk missing through injury as they have a pretty good team with some quality players who are more than capable of stepping up to the plate to advance through the group stage. I think the rest of the group could be pretty hard to predict though but for some reason I think that the Ukraine might just end up in 2nd place but North Macedonia could very easily be pushing for that spot too. After seeing Austria against England the other day I really do think they could end up last but honestly this time around who really knows the 2nd to 4th place of this group could go either way. 

Group D

England 

Croatia

Czech Republic

Scotland 

Ah England's group, are Croatia going to be our bogey team again this tournament? Or can we get our own back for 2018? To be honest I would prefer for England to come second in this group due to the progression path throughout the rest of the tournament, I just think it is going to give us our best shot. I can see Croatia coming out on top of this group however, I think Scotland could really put up a fight too, I just wonder if their lack of tournament experience could end up biting them. I don't think they will come last though as I think Czech Republic will end up taking that spot, I aren't sure why but as soon as I saw the groups I thought this. 

Group E

Spain

Poland

Sweden 

Slovakia

I think Group E is going to be a pretty good group and I think the top spot is going to be contested by Spain and Sweden. I can see Spain just about creeping into the top spot with Sweden not that far behind them. I think Slovakia could just about beat Poland to the third spot but I really do think Poland are going to come in last spot of this group. 

Group F 

Germany

France

Portugal 

Hungary 

Group F is bound to be the hardest group with probably some of the best quality players exiting the competition at the early stages just due to the difficulty of the group. Honestly it is the hardest group to try predict too. I think France could end up topping this group and if Portugal can keep a fit squad and play the players correctly I think they could easily end up second. Germany just haven't looked like the team they used to be over the years so I think they may end up in third but only just missing out on second. Unfortunately though I think Hungary are going to end up struggling against the other 3 teams and will finish bottom of the group. 

So here is how I think each group could look by the end of the group stages...

Group A 

Italy

Switzerland 

Turkey 

Wales


Group B 

Belgium 

Denmark 

Russia 

Finland 


Group C

Netherlands

Ukraine

North Macedonia 

Austria 


Group D

Croatia 

England 

Scotland 

Czech Republic


Group E

Spain 

Sweden

Slovakia

Poland


Group F 

France 

Portugal 

Germany

Hungary

So that is how I think each group could end up looking at the end of the group stages but I guess only time will tell and we will find out if we guessed any of the teams correctly. I think we are in for a great competition and I am really looking forward to creating more Euro 2020 content throughout the month. Who do you think is going to top each group? 


NWSL 2021 Season Week 4 Round Up

 


Well that is week 4 of the NWSL over and done with and once again it has been a week of mixed results. Teams you would have had money on winning easily last season have once again struggled and lost to teams they would have previously beat with a big margin. It is nice seeing a different set of teams winning for a change too as a lot of them have struggled to hit the ground running in the past but now they seem to have found what they are more than capable of and are picking up the points they should have always had. So here is how the results are looking for week 4...

Chicago Red Stars 1 -0 North Carolina Courage 

Gotham 1 -0 OL Reign 

Portland Thorns 3 - 0 Racing Louisville

Kansas City 0 -1 Houston Dash

Washington Spirit 1- 1 Orlando Pride 

Chicago Red Stars managed to defeat North Carolina Courage 1-0 which has kept the Courage down in the bottom half of the table. Gotham also managed to pick up all 3 points against OL Reign which was brilliant to see. Portland Thorns had another high scoring game to take them into 2nd place against Racing Louisville whilst Houston Dash managed to pick up all 3 points again Kansas City. The only draw of the week was between the Washington Spirit and Orlando Pride where the Pride managed to hold onto their current unbeaten run. 

It is great seeing other teams rising up the table for a change instead of it being between the same few teams. So here is how the table is looking at the end of week 4...

1) Orlando Pride 11

2) Portland Thorns 9 

3) Washington Spirit 8

4) Gotham 7

5) Houston Dash 7

6) Chicago Red Stars 7

7) North Carolina Courage 4

8) OL Reign 4

9) Racing Louisville 4

10) Kansas City 2

I am loving seeing Orlando Pride right up there at the top of the table a few points ahead and it is really nice not to see Gotham at the bottom of the table either their progress is long overdue. It just feels so strange seeing North Carolina Courage and OL Reign right down at the opposite end of the table for a change. It is still early on in the season though so I guess anything could happen and in a few weeks the table could end up looking a whole lot different. But for now I think the table is looking great. 

The England Euro 2020 Squad Selection

 


Finally Gareth Southgate has announced the squad he is taking to the long awaited Euro's. I think there was always going to be some disappointment from fans due to names left out but I think overall we are going into the tournament with a pretty strong squad as long as those selected can stay injury free. I have to say I am disappointed that Lingard has been left out as I think his form during his loan spell at West Ham should have guaranteed his name on the squad list but clearly Southgate thought differently. I am also a little disappointed that Ward-Prowse didn't make the cut too as I think he could have really benefited us in those dead ball situations. When you look at the image above it is clear to see our defense is stacked with us taking a total of 4 right backs to the tournament but could we have freed up one of those spaces to add to our midfield or an extra forward? I guess we are going to see how Southgate puts these players together throughout the tournament but with the quality among the squad if we don't get results I think it will be Southgate's head everyone is calling for when the tournament has ended. 

So here is the squad and what I personally think to each selection... 

Goalkeepers 

Dean Henderson - Dean Henderson has really impressed me lately and honestly he would be my number 1 choice for Manchester United, it is going to be interesting to see him play in a big competition like the Euros if he gets the chance to get some minutes under his belt. I think he could really surprise some people and possibly cement his place in the Manchester United squad for the future if he performs well. 

Sam Johnstone - I think it is safe to say Johnstone is going to be the 3rd choice goalkeeper but I think if he does get any minutes he will be playing to show his worth after West Brom's recent relegation. I would say on this occasion Southgate has definitely made the right choice on his third goalkeeper with injury keeping Nick Pope out of the mix.

Jordan Pickford - I actually really like Pickford and I think this tournament is one for him to really prove himself to the doubters. I might be a bit biased after seeing him play for Bradford City back in the day but he is definitely one of the best English goalkeepers out there today. It is going to be interesting to see if Pickford or Henderson end up being first choice but I think Pickford might just get there and hopefully pull off some great performances. 

Defenders 

Trent Alexander- Arnold - I don't know what it is about Alexander-Arnold but I just aren't keen on him and I am glad we have a few other options for right back as I just don't think he is ready for the pressure of a big tournament like this just yet. He just hasn't been up to scratch for me this season and honestly I think he is going to need to play at 120% if he gets any minutes.

Ben Chillwell - I have always had mixed thoughts on Chillwell as I think he was better at Leicester than he is at Chelsea although towards the end of the season he started to surprise me and I actually started to change my mind on him. would he be the left back I would pick for the majority of games? I don't think so but he can definitely step up when needed and provide a great benefit to the team both attacking and defending. 

Conor Coady - One thing with England is that they have a good selection of central defenders it is just if the pairing they opt for can work together to produce some solid performances. I aren't sure how many minutes Coady is going to get to be honest but with Maguire just returning from injury I think he could end up being called on more than he expected. 

Reece James - I actually really like Reece James and have to say he has really stepped up and proved his worth this season. As long as he can stay fully fit I think he could really benefit us this tournament, even if he only gets a few minutes under his belt at least he will have some big tournament experience under his belt ready for the plenty of other big tournaments he has in the future due to him only being 21. I think if it was a choice between him and Alexander-Arnold it would have to be Reece James for me. 

Harry Maguire - It is good to see Maguire able to get to the tournament after his recent injury meant he missed out on Manchester United's Europa League final. I hope he is back fully fit and stays injury free as he is going to be key in the backline for England. To be honest at the end of last season and the start of this one I wasn't really a fan of his but as the season progressed I saw he is actually a pretty good defender and I capable of pulling of some great performances, he can also provide a target man for corners and set pieces too which is great. 

Tyrone Mings - Mings is definitely and under rated player due to playing at Aston Villa. I think if he playing in a top 5 club his name would be everywhere but due to being at Villa I think he is definitely over looked. It is going to be interesting to see how many minutes he gets throughout the tournament but I think he is capable of putting in a big performance when he does. 

Luke Shaw - After the season he has just had for me Luke Shaw would be one of the first names on every team sheet for the upcoming games. He really has silenced the doubters and has shown us all what he is capable of. Shaw can provide us with an attacking threat and his speed helps him get back and defend easily too. The only issue is we all know how easily he gets injured so let's hope he can stay injury free for the whole tournament as he could really help England out this time around. 

John Stones - I think the main pairing for the tournament is going to be Maguire & Stones if they can both stay injury free and I think it could be the start of a great pairing for the country as they both have a lot of potential. I have always quite liked Stones as a player so I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the Euros. 

Kieran Trippier - Trippier for me is another under rated player in my opinion and I am hoping he gets plenty of minutes under his belt in the Euros. Not only can he get us in some good attacking positions but he can also prove vital in free kick situations as we have seen with him various times before. Out of the 4 right backs we are taking he is definitely the one I would prefer to watch as I think he brings more to the table than the others. 

Kyle Walker - Put Walker in a Manchester City shirt and I think he is a great player but I really do think he under performs when he is in an England shirt. I think out of the 4 right backs we are taking he would be 2nd choice just due to experience level but honestly he just doesn't impress me playing for England. 

Midfielders 

Jude Bellingham - Bellingham is a player who has really hit the ground running and I am so glad that Southgate has put his faith in him as I think we could get some really good performances from him if he gets on the pitch. He is still only a young player too so it is going to be nice to see how he progresses over the years and how he does perform in his first major senior competition, it will definitely be an eye opener I think but one he is up to. 

Jordan Henderson - I still can't get my head around this one due to how injury prone he has been. With such a small midfield as it is I can't quite get my head around why we are risking it. If he is fully recovered and can stay injury free then that is great but I think it could just end up being a risky situation.  

Mason Mount - Mount is a player who has really impressed me lately. To say he is such a young player he plays really well and seems to be very knowledgeable about game scenarios, I think he could easily be one of the standout players for England if we don't put too much pressure on him like we have done with other youngsters in the past. 

Kalvin Phillips - Another player who I can't quite make my mind up on is Phillips and to be honest I am not sure what he is going to be like in the Euros. I think a lot of people have built him up just like they did Sterling in 2018 and hopefully if he gets on the pitch which he most likely will this pressure doesn't go to his head and he keeps his cool and put some great performances in. But until I see him in big tournament action I am on the fence about him.

Declan Rice - Another player who has really surprised me recently is Rice. I honestly thought he would have left Villa by now to get a bigger opportunity or to break into the England squad but he has proved to everyone if you play well it doesn't matter who you play for really. He didn't need the likes of a top 6 team to get him into the Euro squad as he just impressed by playing good football for Villa. I am looking forward to seeing him play in the competition. 

Forwards

Dominic Calvert-Lewin - Calvert-Lewin is another player who has impressed me this past season and again goes to show you don't have to be in a top 6 team to break into the England squad. I aren't sure how much game time he is going to get when you look at the rest of our forwards but I really do hope he gets some minutes under his belt to show us all what he is capable. At just 24 years old I think this is just one of many competition squads we could be seeing him in as he is full of potential. 

Phil Foden - Foden is a player who can be a big benefit to us if he steps up to the occasion but I am definitely worried that pressure will be put on him due to his performances at Manchester City and he will end up getting grief if he doesn't perform as well in an England shirt. If he can link up well with the midfield and other forwards I think he could provide a real threat. 

Jack Grealish - Just like with Rice and Mings Grealish has gone to prove that you don't have to be in a big team to gain success through making the England squad. I am really impressed by how Grealish stuck with Villa instead of chasing a big money move and honestly it has paid of for him as he's played his way to success and not just been a benchwarmer at a top 6 club which could have easily happened. Grealish always seems to be fouled in dangerous areas which could benefit us a lot but he is also great at reading play and creating great movement. 

Harry Kane - Kane can bring us the goals we needed as long as he stays fit and isn't distracted by the rumours in the summer transfer window. I think if he just gets his head down and plays like he has done he could end up picking up another golden boot especially with the players he has around him. Let's job hope he can stay injury free for the tournament too as he is going to be a very valuable player. 

Marcus Rashford - Rashford is one of those forwards who can get into some great positions for the team and also do some defending when needed. If we can keep him fully fit I think him and Kane could end up linking up well together and bring us the results we want. He has been in the spotlight a fair bit this season but let's hope he can keep his head down and do the job at hand without the nation expecting a miracle from just one name. 

Bukayo Saka - Saka is really starting to make a name for himself and it is great to see him doing well but I honestly aren't sure how many minutes he is going to get if the rest of the forwards are fit and playing well. I think just making the squad will be a great experience for him though and any minutes he gets will be a lesson for him ready for the future as I don't think this is going to be his only big tournament opportunity. 

Jadon Sancho - Sancho just like Bellingham is another player making a name for himself in the Bundesliga and he is really becoming a big name player even at just 21 years old. If played with the right players I think that Sancho could be a real threat throughout the tournament and really threaten the opposition. I really hope we get to see him at his best throughout the competition as  I think we are going to be in for a treat.

Raheem Sterling - I honestly believe that in 2018 the nation put far too much pressure on Sterling and it really effected his performance and we didn't see the best of him. I just hope that this time around that pressure is lifted and we see the Sterling we see when he has a Manchester City shirt on. He could very easily show everyone what he is actually capable on in a competition and silence those still hung up on 2018. If he just gets his head down and plays I think he is going to be a great asset to the team.

So that is our thoughts on the squad selection, let's hope Southgate can get them playing together and winning games. I think we could stand a pretty good chance this tournament if we play to our strengths but only time will tell. What do you think to the squad selection? Anyone you would change to boost our chances?

The Women's Football Groups For The 2020 Olympics

The long awaited Olympics are almost upon us and the Team GB Women will be representing us in the football for just the 2nd time. The tournament will be contested between 12 teams and they are definitely a lot of string teams in these 12 so it is going to be a very interesting competition which could go to any nation really. There are no age limits for the players representing the nations in the competition so it is safe to say a lot of managers could have tough decisions on their hands as teams are limited to an 18 player squad which is certainly smaller than your typical World Cup squad, meaning some countries might end up leaving out some big names especially for the likes of Team GB who have to narrow England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland players down to just 18 from the 4 nations which is definitely going to be a tough choice with how many great players have developed over the past few years. I think we are definitely going to see quite a few big names also playing in their final Olympics too especially those in the USWNT as they are all possibly coming up to the end of their playing days meaning they might not still be playing when the next Olympics rolls around to them being every 4 years. 

It is safe to say the group draw has provided us with some great games even just in the group stages where there could easily be a couple of upsets in the very early stages of the competition. So here is how the groups are looking, I won't go into the groups too much though as a bit near the start date I will be doing a predictions post on how I think the tournament is going to go. 

Group E
E1 - Japan 
E2- Canada
E3 - Great Britain 
E4 - Chile

Great Britain have definitely been drawn into a tough group for the competition however, I think with the right players selected they can really push to get out of the group. Japan and Canada are definitely strong teams but Chile can easily test the other three teams limits so we are in for a treat with this group. 

Group F

F1 - China

F2 - Brazil

F3 - Zambia

F4 - Netherlands

Another great group is group F featuring World Cup runners up The Netherlands, they have gone strength to strength year after year so they could very well push Brazil to come out on top of this group. There is a chance for a few surprises in this group though so I can't wait. 

Group G

G1 - Sweden 

G2 - USA 

G3 - Australia 

G4 - New Zeland

With Sweden vs USA as the first game in this group we are onto a winner already. I think this could be a very closely contested group and possibly one to bring in the most views. There are some big names on show in this group too which is likely to draw in the audiences and provide us with some good quality football and hopefully some very closely contested games. 

So that is how the groups are looking and I can't wait for the tournament to finally get underway at long last as I don't know about you but I feel like I have been waiting forever for this to begin. There will be plenty more content coming very soon for the Olympics so keep checking back for future posts.

NWSL 2021 Season Week 3 Round Up


 

Well that is another week done and dusted in the NWSL with 8 games taking place and some great results occurring. The majority of teams played twice in week 3 but it didn't seem to effect the likes of the Orlando Pride who have kept in fine form and are getting the results the fans have been calling for in recent years. The week definitely provided some shock results but here is how the results looked...

Orlando Pride 2-1 Portland Thorns

Kansas City 0 - 2 Chicago Red Stars

Washington Spirit 2 - 1 Houston Dash

North Carolina Courage 5 - 0 Racing Louisville 

Houston Dash 2 - 1 Chicago Red Stars 

Gotham 0 - 1 Portland Thorns

Orlando Pride 1 - 0 Kansas City 

OL Reign 0 - 1 Washington Spirit

The Orlando Pride took away 6 points out of 6 in week 3 after pulling off a great victory against the Portland Thorns and then going on to beat Kansas City. I have to admit I thought the Thorns were going to beat the Pride but it is nice to see the Pride showing us all what they are capable of. Washington Spirit also picked up all 6 points on offer by not only beating Houston but by also beating OL Reign which again I didn't think was going to happen. North Carolina Courage showed the newbies Racing Louisville what they were capable of with a 5-0 victory too, could this mean we are going to see the North Carolina we are all used to seeing?

So 3 weeks is over and here is how the table is looking...

1) Orlando Pride - 10 

2) Washington Spirit - 7 

3) Portland Thorns - 6 

4) North Carolina Courage - 4 

5) Gotham - 4 

6) Houston Dash - 4

7) OL Reign - 4

8) Chicago Red Stars - 4 

9) Louisville - 4 

10) Kansas City - 2 

It might only be early on in the season but I am loving seeing Orlando Pride sat at the top. With 4th place through to 9th all on 4 points each I think we are in for a very interesting season especially with the Olympics quickly approaching. 

NWSL 2021 Season Week 2 Round Up

 


Well that is week 2 of the NWSL complete and once again there have been some great results. I think that this season is really all to play for and no team are going to be running away with the league like they have previous, North Carolina I am looking at you, I think it is certainly going to be closely contested but who knows when the likes of Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle get back playing again in the league. I am loving how you just don't know who is going to be walking away with 3 points and it makes waiting for results to come in a whole lot more enjoyable. It was also great to see Rachel Daly become Houston Dash's record goalscorer this weekend as she is definitely a massively underrated player who deserves a lot more credit than she gets. So here are how this weekends results went...

Racing Louisville 2 - 0 Washington Spirit

North Carolina Courage 1 - 2 Orlando

Chicago Red Stars 0 - 0 Gotham

Portland Thorns 1 - 2 OL Reign 

Houston Dash 2 - 2 Kansas City

It is nice to see Racing Louisville take away from their game against the Washington Spirit who don't seem to have got up and running just yet. The big result for me though is Orlando Pride beating North Carolina Courage 2-1 which honestly who would have thought that would happen with the past few seasons the Pride have had. There seems to have been something that has just clicked within the Pride squad and they are looking really good where as for the Courage something just doesn't seem to be clicking yet. Chicago picked up their first point of the season against Gotham who are another team that are looking stronger already this year. After a strong Challenge Cup and opening game Portland Thorns fell to a 2-1 defeat from OL Reign who again are looking like a strong side and with Rose Lavelle due to join them I think they are only going to improve game after game. Finally Kanas City pulled a goal back late in the game to gain a draw vs Houston to deny them their first win of the season but hopefully that will come next week when they take on Washington Spirit. 

So here is how the table is looking at the end of week 2...

1) Racing Louisville - 4 

2) Orlando Pride - 4 

3) OL Reign - 4 

4) Gotham -4 

5) Portland Thorns - 3 

6) Kansas City - 2

7) Houston - 1 

8) North Carolina Courage - 1 

9) Washington Spirit - 1

10) Chicago Red Stars - 1


With it only being early on in the season it is looking very close and I think as the weeks progress we are going to see a lot of movement within the standings and hopefully a lot more closely contested games. Roll on next week as there are some tough games coming up. 

NWSL 2021 Season Week 1 Round Up

 


Finally instead of the Challenge Cup we are back to the regular NWSL season. After disruption last season due to the Coronavirus pandemic we saw the NWSL regular season scraped and replaced with a Challenge Cup tournament instead, unfortunately a lot of the big names from the game sat out of this tournament and either didn't play or went to play abroad instead which was definitely a boost for the FAWSL here in England with the arrival of the likes of Daly, Mewis, Heath and Press to name just a few. Luckily this year though we were treated to another installment of the Challenge Cup which ended with the Portland Thorns winning the competition, then it has been a quick transition into this seasons regular season where honestly I think there could be anyone's season with teams going from strength to strength each year. There has been some great rebuilding from teams over the past year and with the addition of Kansas City & Racing Louisville FC it is all to play for. 

So here are the results from week 1: 

Racing Louisville 0 - 0 Kansas City

Gotham 1- 0 Houston Dash

OL Reign 0 - 0 North Carolina Courage

Orlando Pride 1 - 1 Washington Spirit

Portland Thorns 5-0 Chicago Red Stars 

Out of this first weeks results I have to admit two of the results have shocked me. I know Portland are doing really well lately but I definitely didn't expect them to put 5 past the Chicago Red Stars. Then we had Gotham who were in this years Challenge Cup final beating Houston 1-0 and it seems that Gotham really on the rise after troubles in previous years it looks like the re-branding has done them a huge favour and they are looking like a totally different club who can really challenge their opposition. Of course it was also great to see Alex Morgan getting a goal for Orlando, let's hope this season she can get plenty more and really help Orlando push up that table like they are capable of, I really thing the Morgan Leroux partnership up front could work well for them. 

So here are the league standings after week number 1...

1) Portland Thorns - 3

2) Gotham - 3

3) Washington Spirit - 1

4) Orlando Pride - 1

5) Kansas City - 1

6) North Carolina - 1 

7) OL Regin - 1 

8) Racing Louisville - 1

9) Houston Dash - 0 

10) Chicago Red Stars - 0 

It is going to be interesting to see how these standings change after week 2 as there are some good games coming up. 

I am hoping to have an NWSL weekly round up post up for you every week during the season alongside my yearly predictions post that will be coming within the next week. I am really looking forward to providing you with more NWSL content so keep your eyes on the blog & our social media channels to keep up to date and if there is anything you would like to see from the league please let us know.  I can't wait for the late nights of watching and the early mornings catching up. 

The Puma Classics... I Wish I Tried Them Sooner


Growing up with me nearly always sticking to Nike boots or occasionally picking up an Adidas pair, a brand I always dismissed was Puma and honestly I aren't sure why maybe it is because none of my favourite players were wearing them but then again it might just be because where I got my boots from mainly stocked Nike or Adidas so Puma was never really an option for me, plus I always loved the bold colourways of the Nike & Adidas ones. 

When me and Liam started going for a kick about in our local park we picked up some boots and Liam opted for the Puma Classic take down model as he liked the look of them due to Alex Greenwood wearing them. Luckily with us being the same size I got to take them for a test run too and to be honest they left a really good impression on me and I do wish I had tried Puma boots sooner.


In terms of fit I have always sized up in football boots to accommodate for the thicker socks I wear so these are a size 8 and they provide a really good fit. They aren't too tight when worn with football socks and my feet don't feel restricted in them which I have found in some boots I don't get the best fit and my movement feels restricted due to the boot fitting too snug and narrow. But these are perfect I can move my feet in whichever way I want and not feel like the boot is going to fall off due to being too big or that I aren't going to get a good connection with the ball due to them being too tight or too loose, they are perfect and to say that these are a take down model it makes me wonder what top end would actually feel like. 


There were no issues with these rubbing my feet either so I didn't have to worry about them needing to be broken in as it was simply put them on, lace them up and go. No blisters have appeared either which is great as I used to really struggle with new boots and them giving me blisters so my feet were sore for days after, it just didn't make wearing them enjoyable but with these Puma Classics I have had no such issue and I know when I put them on I can just kick the ball around without having to worry about being in pain. Overall they are actually really comfy and again to say they are a take down model I am really surprised, you can't feel the sole plate under your feet which is always great as no-one wants to be running and just feel the studs hitting under their feet as that is just painful and frustrating. The heel has the right amount of cushioning too so you don't have to worry about it being too thin and rubbing and it also provides a fair bit of support which is always great to minimize those rolled ankle injuries. The tongue is nice and flexible too so you don't have to worry about that being too rigid and cutting into the top of your foot like with some boots. 


The fact that the tongue is flexible means that you can tuck it in nicely so it isn't stuck out of the top of the boot causing issues when you go to strike the ball. I have had boots in the past that have had a ridiculous tongue that has only got in the way so I prefer boots these days where I don't have much of a tongue on show and one that doesn't go over the laces. The placement of the laces is directly in the center of the boot and they are actually quite thin which means they are actually quite close to the upper of the boot instead of standing up a little. This is great as the fact they are close to the upper it isn't going to interfere when you go to strike the ball which is always an added bonus as you want to make the best, cleanest connection possibly with every strike or cross. The overall material of the upper is quite good too to say how cheap they are, I didn't expect them to be super high quality due to them not being top of the range but the quality is good, they are a bit cushioned on the upper and are very easy to clean which is always a bonus. You can make a great connection with the ball with these boots too, they aren't too shiny that the ball will roll over them when wet so you can get some pretty good control with these in a variety of weather. I have tested these in both dry and wet weather and have seen no difference in my training whilst wearing them as the feel and control is very similar no matter what the weather. 


The sole plate on the firm ground version which we got is great too. The actually plate is nice and flexible which helps create great movement but it isn't too flexible that it is going to break easily. The moulds are nice and equally distributed which is always something I love as I feel that this sort of stud pattern works for me better than others. These are also the rounded studs not the blades which I am much more used to due to my rugby and early football playing days. They seem to have kept it nice and simple with this sole plate which is sometimes just what is needed and I am grateful for this as it is nice and balanced and great for the mixture of weather we get in the UK. Plus it is really easy to clean due to the space between the studs and the lack of depth in the pattern, keeping it simple really does have its benefits.  


Whilst I was playing football growing up I always wanted boots that would make me stand out from the rest and just looked nice and vibrant so the toned down boots were overlooked. Now I am older though I still like the vibrant ones but the simple colourways are also starting to catch my eye. These Puma Classics are definitely nice as simple with just the 3 colours making up the whole boot and the 3 colours work really well together. The upper is simply white and black with a small touch of gold that doesn't look out of place and the sole plate is a great combination of black and gold none of the colours outweigh the others and the combination helps create the classic & simple boot that the Classics are known for. 
With these boots being a take down model they only cost us around £28 when we purchased them which to me is an absolute bargain as I can see them getting worn a fair bit as we get back into going out to our local field for a kick about or when we finally sort the side garden out to become our football garden. The fact they are comfy, easy to clean and a great colourway makes these boots a winner for me and I will definitely be looking at Puma boots a whole lot more in the future.

These Puma Classics have definitely shone a positive light on Puma boots for me and I am actually wishing I had these back when I was playing week in week out as they are such a good pair of boots and for the price point of £28 I don't think you can go wrong. I would definitely love to try a top end pair of these as having a good experience with a take down model has sold me on them so I would love to compare what the differences are other than the price. 

What are your thoughts on the Puma Classic boots?

Our Nice Little Scarf Collection

Growing up I loved picking up a scarf when I went to a football match especially those memorable ones such as testimonials or cup matches. Thanks to all these purchases I have definitely started quite a good little collection of scarves and the ones in this post aren't even the full collection as I know that I have a lot more round at my parents. I know that half and half scarves annoy a lot of the football community however, growing up I loved them as they were just a souvenir to keep to remember those matches I went to so I have quite a lot of these in my collection. So here are the scarves I currently have in my collection at my house...

Everywhere we go 
This is one of my favourite Bradford Scarves as it has the Everywhere we go all the way across it. There is nothing better than being in Valley Parade and hearing all the fans chanting this so as soon as I saw this scarf I knew I had to buy it. 

Bradford City vs Liverpool
The first half and half scarf in this post and possibly one of my favourites as it was purchased with money going to a great cause. When I saw these on sale with money being donated to the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation I knew I was definitely buying it as Darby is one of my favourite all time players and what he is doing to help raise awareness is fantastic. 

Bradford City vs Rangers 
This is easily the oldest scarf in my collection as it was a scarf made for Stuart McCall's testimonial game. I was only 7 or 8 years old when this game happened and it is still one I remember to this day, it is even one of the reasons why I ended up taking an interest in Rangers. This scarf is the perfect reminder of that day along with the other memorabilia I have from it. 

Bradford City vs Reading
When City went on their run in the FA Cup I managed to get to a few games as did my family so I managed to get myself a scarf from the game in the 6th round against Reading. Unfortunately this was the round when we went out but it was a great run we had an having the scarf as a memory is fantastic. 

Bradford City league cup final 2013
Unfortunately I didn't get to the League Cup final back in 2013 but my Auntie and Uncle did and they were kind enough to bring me a scarf back which is brilliant. The cup run we had that year was brilliant and again to have a scarf to remember that run is great. I just wish I could say I was at that game. 

Bradford City coloured scarf
Of course I have to have just a claret and amber scarf which is great as this is actually the one I use for the majority of games I attend as it is a decent thickness for those cold West Yorkshire night games. Plus it is nice and simple compared to the other scarves I own. 

Bradford City vs Millwall playoff final
I finally got my first trip to Wembley when I went to see City take on Millwall in the playoff final which we ultimately lost  however, I picked up a scarf to remember the occasion, not just us getting to the final but me also going to Wembley for the first time which was long over due as I had been wanting to go for years. 

Forza City 
My most recent scarf this this brilliant Forza City one from Scarfolk over on Instagram. I absolutely love the bold Forza City on this scarf along with the retro badge, it is just totally different to the others I own and I think this could end up hung on a wall somewhere. 

Bradford City Minions
This was a random purchase when I was on my way into a game one Saturday, I think this was just a purchase as the Minions looked quite funny and it was cold that day and I forgot my scarf. 

Bradford City Frozen
Another random purchase was this Frozen one. Again this is just because I am a huge Disney fan and I actually quite like the Frozen franchise so I had to buy it just for the laugh, it does keep you surprisingly warm though. 

Ruud van Nistelrooy 

This is a special scarf for me as it is the scarf I got when I went to my first Manchester United game with my grandad. The whole day was great and I got to see some of the big names in action for the first time. I just remember being outside the stadium taking far too long to decide which scarf I wanted as I wanted a player one but there were so many I loved, in the end I went for the Ruud van Nistelrooy one as he was one of my favourites at the time and to be honest he is still one of my favourite Manchester United players. 

Manchester United vs Juventus

I honestly don't know if this came from a friendly or a testimonial game but I managed to go see Manchester United vs Juventus so I had to get a scarf to commemorate the occasion. I have always followed Manchester United and honestly never thought I would see them take on Juventus when some of my childhood heroes were at the club so it is still crazy to me that I got there even if it was just for a testimonial or friendly. 

Manchester United vs Inter Milan 

I also went to see Manchester United take on Inter Milan in a friendly I believe back in 2007. This was the second Manchester United game I had been to at Old Trafford and it was one of my first times seeing them play a foreign team so I had to mark the occasion with a scarf and I ended up with a half and half scarf once again so I could remember that day. I have always enjoyed Italian football so to see them against Inter Milan back in the day was fantastic. 

England Lionesses vs Sweden

For so long I had wanted to go see the Lionesses and I managed to do so when they took on Sweden back in 2018. Up until then games just seemed to fall on dates I couldn't attend or they were too far away so when they were in Yorkshire I treated the family to tickets and finally got to see some of my favourite players in action that wasn't just at club level. I am glad it was against Sweden too as they are such a great team in the women's game.

So there you go that is the current collection of scarves I have at my house, I definitely need to go searching at my parents to see which are missing as I have some great mementos from some fantastic football games that I have been to over the years. I am sure I am going to be buying plenty more in the future. What is your favourite football scarf you own?