Former Manchester United player Owen Heagreaves commented on the number of permutations in European football since the release of the results for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League (UCL). Arsenal is set to play French Champions Paris St. Germain, Swiss outfit Basel and Bulgarian club Ludogrets Razgrad.
Heagreaves opines that the French club will finish above their English counterparts, mostly die to their superior play. However, he acknowledged that Arsenal would be a worthy opponent during the battle for the Round of 16.
“I think they [Arsenal] can, but I think PSG will top that group. Arsenal can push them if they get it right,” Heagreaves told BT Sport. Something worthy of note is that Arsenal have never won the Champions League, despite their stellar domestic record. Even when they had the arguably the best team in the world, they were stopped from breaking the record. One notable final is the one against Barcelona in 2006.
Arsenal would be in action in Group A when the continental affair begins after the international break, but the former Bayern Munich man sees them finishing in second place. Two clubs would be able to progress to the next stage – which is fine – but they might meet a tougher opponent. In recent times, Arsenal haven’t gone past the Round of 16 at the UCL.
The same Heagreaves revealed that his best Champions League atmosphere was the Celtic Park. The Scottish side would be playing in the tournament group stage though they have a big obstacle to climb if they are to make the knockout stages. Their neighbouring city Cardiff, Wales would be hosting the final, but it would be the biggest dream if they were to make it to the final. Brendan Rodgers would be leading the team when they line up in the continental tourney.
Kyle Lafferty’s career in Norwich City has not been a very memorable one as the Irish forward joined the English club on June 27 of 2014 and he managed to make 18 appearances but only scoring 1 goal, Lafferty was later loaned out to the Turkish outfit Çaykur Rizespor and then to the English club Birmingham City.
The 28 year old player has made his return to Norwich City but he is struggling to get consistent playing time with the main team and goals are even harder to come by.
To make matters worse for Lafferty, his lack of goals might be the last thing on his mind as he has recently been charged by FA as it’s believed that the Irish player has allegedly broken betting rules.
According to FA, Kyle Lafferty breached rule E8 which prohibits players from betting on football matches and an official statement from Football Association reads: ‘’It is alleged that on 20 February 2016, the Norwich City forward placed a bet on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, a football match or competition in breach of FA Rule E8’’
Even though Lafferty’s club career is underwhelming, he has been doing a surprisingly good job with his national squad after scoring 7 goals during the qualification phases of the 2016 European Championship.
Newer and stricter rules have been implemented by FA in relation to betting and things of nature. These changes started taking place around 2 years ago and one of the main reasons of this is to avoid seeing controversial results involving players and clubs.
Lafferty has until August 5 of the ongoing year to respond with this charge and provide some evidence or anything that might help him escape this recent breach of rules that he has allegedly broken.
Whenever there is an international tournament in the world of football most people do not realize the pressure that exists on the players.
One such side to Euro 2016 is being talked about by Owen Hargreaves. He reiterates the pressure that he felt in a penalty shootout that is common in many matches.
He states that he has a record of not having missed a penalty kick for his team in a competitive football match. There are many firsts in his career such as having played for England without having been a resident of the country present or before. Having belonged to a club of the non English league, he has helped his team to win the UEFA Champions League.
Penalty kicks and shootouts have been mastered by this player. He has considerable experience and success as an international player as well, having played for teams like Manchester United and Bayern Munich. He has been a midfielder in these matches; he talks about the experience of a shootout or a penalty kick. As per him, such times are crucial as the game stops to play and everyone is concentrating on the kick. There is a lot of mental pressure on the player who is chosen to kick the ball.
Owen can identify with the mental pressure as he has been in such a situation many times. He also talks about remarkable moments for other players. For instance, there was a tie in the quarter finals with Portugal and England. Frank Lampard had to take the first kick for the spot and he missed it. Even Ronaldo faltered in the finals of the Champions League in 2008 when the game had been played in Moscow. Hence, it definitely requires a lot of nerve and mental strength to hold steady and focus on such moments. Owen can certainly identify with the same.
Owen Hargreaves believes that Louis Van Gaal was a scapegoat for Manchester United poor form.
Former Manchester United and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves has said that Louis van Gaal is not responsible for the poor results at Manchester United. He believes that the board should blame themselves for the poor season.
Owen Hargreaves believes that Manchester United is a club in decline and that they currently do not have the best players. For him, the best players in the Premier League play at Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal. He said that it is the board that is responsible for signing new players and that Louis van Gaal cannot make miracles.
For Hargreaves, the club is just looking for excuses and has sacked Louis van Gaal for nothing. He said that first it was David Moyes who was the culprit, and now they have found another scapegoat in van Gaal.
He believes that there need to be changes in the club management if they want to challenge for the title soon. He said that the board should sit down and think on what is not functioning at the team at the moment. For him, the club should rethink about their philosophy and sign players that can play according to their style. At the moment, there is a lack of quality players at Manchester United, and they need to rectify this issue. He said that with the players they have got now, there is no way they are going to win the title.
Jose Mourinho has just been appointed as the new manager of Manchester United, and he will be hoping to build a team that will suit his stye. So far he has signed Eric Bailly to improve his defence, and there is news that he might be signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic soon. According to some pundits, there will be more arrivals as soon as the Euros is over.
Could Wayne Rooney be soon making a comeback?
It appears that Manchester United is actually making preparations to make that happen. Wayne Rooney as of late has been getting very used to the substitutes bench and he’s not exactly been happy with that decision. This comes at a time where he’s needed most because Manchester United is about to against one of their biggest matchups of the season. This will be the first time he’s made an appearance in two months as he’s one of the many players in football this season who has suffered a knee injury.
On the previous Monday night, Rooney actually emerged victorious and unscathed as he completed a 60 minute run for United Manchester against Middlesbrough at the Old Trafford. Meanwhile at the Director’s box while the game was going on, Wayne Rooney was put in the main squad because of a huge game coming up as Van Gaal admits that this next big game could have huge implications on his future as a manager at Old Trafford.
They’re only four points away from Manchester City in the Premier League but they’re in very real danger of missing the League qualification. This is why the game is so important to Wayne Rooney, because this might be his last chance at a trophy this season.
The problem is, that Rooney has missed the last 12 matches and that he must get back into the swing of things. However, in recent matches and appearances, Rooney appears to be moving freely and without any issues as Rooney gets back into shape and the managers decide if it’s his time to jump back into the game or not. His absence for the fans though has raised a lot more questions than answers and a lot of doubts regarding the player’s future with the team and the league in general.
Former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard is hoping that LA Galaxy can benefit immensely from the arrival of Nigel de Jong as the club’s new signing.
One of the strongest and well-known teams in the MLS, LA Galaxy have been struggling for form in the last couple of years. This slump in form has come about after the retirement of Landon Donovan, who was a major player for the club for several decades. Even after the arrival of Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy have found it difficult to create consistent set of results.
This led to the club acting quickly at the start of the season to bring in former Manchester City and AC Milan midfielderde Jong. Known for his combative way of playing, the midfielder will provide the defensive strength in front of the back four. This would allow the team to take advantage of the attacking prowess of Steven Gerrard. During his later years with Liverpool, Gerrard was not an attacking force with his amazing runs. Instead, he concentrated on influencing the game from a deep lying position. The presence of De Jong allows manager Bruce Arena with the flexibility to change his tactics depending on the needs.
Gerrard told the Hamble yacht charter website that the team will get better as they start to know each other over the next few weeks. “I think we’re weeks away [from having the connections down pat]. We’ve probably had 10 [training] sessions together, a couple of 90 minutes [in games]. With preseason, it doesn’t matter how hard you push yourself in the gym or on the training ground, there’s nothing like match tempo, MLS minutes, and it’ll take three or four games before we peak. Nigel’s your typical No, 4/6, where they sit in there, they’re aggressive, they break up their play,” said Gerrard after the arrival of his new teammate.
The English national football team has never won the European Championship but Owen Hargreaves believes that they have the chance to things around. The former English footballer, Hargreaves is certain that Roy Hodgson has a squad which is good enough to compete against the top players and sides in the world.
Back in 2004, the English national side was expected to win major trophies with top players such as :Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney. This generation was even called : ‘’The Golden Generation’’
Even with all these top players, England failed to win the Euro’s of 2004 after only being able to reach the quarter-finals which was a huge dissapointment considering all the expectations from their supporters and the world class players that were at the disposal of the former England national coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.
According to Owen Hargreaves, the current national football team of England have a better chance of lifting the European title and other major pieces of silverware than any of the past squads.
Hargreaves said: “I think with this England team the expectation is far less. It’s a relatively young team with some great young players. I don’t think England are heavy favourites so I think they should trust some of the younger players because sometimes they have a hunger and a desire to showcase that talent.”
Roy Hodgson is the head coach of the English national side and he is trying to find the perfect balance in his squad that can allow his team to perform better and consequently win titles which hasn’t been happening. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, England failed to make it past the group stages and now the pressure is building around Hodgson as he has to start winning titles or his managerial position in the national side could be at risk but Owen Hargreaves is confident that positive results will start to emerge for the English side.
Manchester United are reportedly preparing an offer forInternacional star Rodrigo Dourado.
They appear to have inside knowledge on the player after one of their former name – Anderson – has spoken highly of the 21-year-old. United have not had much success comes to signing Brazilian players over the last few years. Anderson was amongst the recent arrivals, but he did not have much better after a couple of seasons of good form. Rafael Da Silva and Fabio Da Silva also have failed to shine at Old Trafford. Yet, the scouts for the Premier League team are keen on completing a deal forDourado.
It is reported that the 21-year-old will cost around £ 20 million, which would make him an expensive proposition. However, Anderson believes that he is fully with this exorbitant figure since he has shown excellent qualities in his short spell as a teammate atInternacional. After starting out his career with the Brazilian outfit, the midfielder has gone on to represent the team in 25 appearances to date. He has been extremely promising and this has earned him a call up to the Brazil under 17 team. He has not featured for the under 20 or the senior team in recent years.
“Dourado will at some time play for the national team. He’s a quick player, outstanding. He plays it simple but allows players such as myself to attack. He’s a new kid, but soon will leave Inter. He is a European player,” said Anderson, who recently completed a permanent move away from United following years of poor form. Since moving to the Brazilian club, he has been a first-team regular, although most of his appearances have come in other competitions. Anderson has featured in only four league outings forInternacional until now. The 27-year-old once cost United close to £ 20 million.
Former Manchester United player Owen Hargreaves voiced his thoughts about how realistic it is for the Premier League club to compete and make a proper challenge in the Champions League season for the upcoming season and Hargreaves believes that United just aren’t at the same level as other clubs which will be participating in the European competition.
In the first season that Louis van Gaal spent in charge of Manchester United, the Dutch coach pushed the English club to the 4th spot of the Premier League which is incredibly impressive considering the soulless and lifeless state that the team was going through after the sacking of David Moyes.
Louis van Gaal will be given a huge transfer budget to make a genuine charge for the Premier League title which is currently being held by Chelsea but the owners and fans of Manchester United also want to see the club compete in the Champions League but the former player Owen Hargreaves believes that even with this big transfer budget it just won’t happen.
When Owen Hargreaves was asked about Manchester United possibility of battling against the top European clubs, Hargreaves said that United still aren’t at the same level as the rest.
“I don’t think Manchester United is ready to compete for a Champions League title. If you look at Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona realistically I don’t think they are. I’m sure the fans would love to get back to those days when they were in the Champions League semi-finals virtually every year and not only winning the league, but winning it beautifully as well.” Owen Hargreaves said.
Mats Hummels is one of the highest rated defenders in the world of football and the German has consistently been linked with Manchester United as a possible summer signing but Owen Hargreaves suggested the Premier League club on not to sign the defender because he’s too slow and Hummels has already stated that he will continue to perform with Borussia Dortmund for another season and now United will have to search around for another defender.
Owen Hargreaves believes that Manchester United should not be looking at signing Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels since the defender may struggle with the pace of the Premier League.
Hummels has been linked with an exit from Dortmund for quite a while, but it finally is set to come in the summer due to the struggles at the German club. Dortmund have been flirting with relegation for much of the season and if they are relegated, they are likely to sell players likeHummels. United have been looking at the defender for a long time.
Louis Van Gaal has also given the go-ahead to sign the player after he was first scouted by former manager David Moyes. Hargreaves, though, says that the pace ofHummelswill be a major problem for United to deal with.Hummels is not the fastest defender in the world and he will easily be found it with the current style of play at United. Since Van Gaal favours a 3-5-2 formation, the club has also been keeping a high line. The pace of players like Phil Jones and Daley Blind has meant that United have not encountered too many problems with opposition exploiting the spaces in behind the defenders.
“He’s a super, super ball-playing centre back but I don’t think he can defend, he’s too slow.I think he’s a nice football player, he’s easy on the eye, but United need somebody physical, a presence.He’s Franz Beckenbauer, the new version, a super passer but I think that if I’m Manchester United I want [Nemanja] Vidic, I want [Vincent] Kompany.He’s the captain of Borussia Dortmund, they’re last in the Bundesliga. Is that the measuring stick for Manchester United? I’m not so sure,” said Hargreaves. Hummels has featured in 13 league appearances this season and Dortmund sit one point above the relegation zone.