•Robert Lewandowski is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in the world despite his age of 31.
•The benefit to Spurs if Southgate is the chosen one is his relationship with Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Dele Alli.
Ole Gunner Solskjaer says United will buy a striker in the January transfer period. I made some calls and spoke to some of my contacts this week to find out who are the main targets being discussed by the coach and management. Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic was a possibility during the past summer but United were unwilling to pay him £150k a week. However, Mandzukic is out of favour at the Italian club at the moment and he could come in on a short term loan deal or permanent contract if the terms are right. Robert Lewandowski is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in the world despite his age of 31. Solskjaer is known to respect and admire the Bayern Munich frontman. He is on form and scoring this season and Bayern will fight to hold him but United definitely have a chance of capturing his signature. Finally, I am told, United are looking at French player Moussa Dembele who plays for Lyons in France. He too is scoring regularly since joining the club from Celtic in 2018 and would be a good investment at 23 years of age.
England manager for Tottenham?
My story last week about Tottenham and their behind the scenes problems has caused my phone to ring constantly this week. The intensity of the calls increased with the humiliating 7-2 home thrashing by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The most interesting call came from an insider at Spurs who told me that it is possible manager Mauricio Pochettino could walk away from the club after this season if he does not get new players in January and fails to win any silverware again this season. He feels he has fulfilled his potential since joining in 2016 and now is the time to bring in fresh talent to take Spurs forward. He also feels that they have been left behind by Manchester City and Liverpool. As I reported to you last week, the Spurs board have promised funds in January however the possibility of losing their manager has resulted in the management looking at likely successors to Pochettino and top of the list is current England manager Gareth Southgate. The benefit to Spurs if Southgate is the chosen one is his relationship with Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Dele Alli. All three play for Southgate in his England squad and Kane in particular knows and respects Gareth. Kane captaining England and Spurs would be a bonus for Southgate if he joins the north London club and he is known to want a return to club management after the World Cup. Meanwhile Kane has appealed to stay away Tottenham fans to return to support Spurs despite their miserable start to the season with three wins in nine matches. If Spurs lose to Brighton this weekend there will be a real crisis at the club. There is still turmoil with Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen all having entered the final 12 months of their contracts and Danny Rose and Serge Aurier is known to prefer a move away from north London. Even Harry Kane is not 100% certain to stay at Tottenham as he too, at 27 years of age, wants to win trophies and so far he has an almost empty cupboard at Spurs. Pochettino has experienced disagreements with his board of directors over investment and he has recently been compared with Jose Mourinho and his complaints at Manchester United over the direction of the club…and that, of course, resulted in Mourinho leaving.
Gunner’s must defend their defence
During training this week at Arsenal the assistant coaches were getting excited about the return to fitness of Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney. The plan now is for them to practice day after day playing together, bonding together and working hard together. Twenty years ago Arsenal had an almost impregnable defence and they now have the chance to recreate that strong barrier. But it isn’t that simple as was pointed out to me. For a defence to perform to its maximum, there has to be a strong, organised midfield playing in front of it and Arsenal have been falling down in this area which statistics prove. Opposition teams find too much space in midfield with talented players like Guendouzi, Maitland-Niles, Cebbalos, Torreira and Saka often roaming out of position and leaving openings for opposition midfielders and player-makers to come through the middle, play out to the wings and putting the Gunner’s defence on the back foot. The coaches are working on this and they are aware that once Unai Emery sorts out his midfield the team will be much stronger and the defence more protected.
The amazing fans of Newcastle
I have written often about my admiration for Newcastle fans. Last weekend’s humiliating defeat to Leicester in a 5-0 battering proved once again how amazing and loyal they are. With only four minutes of the match remaining, I spotted only two Newcastle fans giving up and leaving the stadium. The majority of fans didn’t leave but instead sang their hearts out, and cheered when Andy Carroll came on and made two vital clearances inside the Newcastle box as he turned from goal poacher to security guard protecting his goalkeeper. At 5-0 down the Newcastle fans’ noise often drowned out the Leicester supporters. The team let the fans down with Isaac Hayden dismissed for an ugly foul and manager Steve Bruce criticising them for a lack of heart and commitment and he called it a “complete surrender”. But still, the fans cheered them on. After the game, Newcastle defender Sean Longstaff was in tears and manager Steve Bruce shouted at his players in the dressing room. He then told them to turn up on Monday and not for Sunday training because he wanted time to cool his temper. Leicester’s owners, the Srivaddhanaprbha family, care about their club, invest in their club and the fans are important to them. At Newcastle, it is a different story with the much-publicised toxic atmosphere created by an owner who only wants to sell the club for the highest price he can get. And still, the fans stay loyal and still they travel halfway across the country to support the Black & Whites. Any club would be proud to have such a set of supporters and owner Mike Ashley does not deserve to sit at the table with any of them.
Leicester once more a powerhouse
When Leicester City were crowned Premier League champions in 2016 the world of football was in shock. How could a mediocre club manage to beat the cream of football and lift the most prized trophy? Fast forward to 2019 and Leicester are again astounding fans around the world by proudly sitting in third place above clubs such as Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United. Leicester have done a remarkable job rebuilding a team which now includes only two of the title-winning players, Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel. Manager Brendan Rodgers inherited a good squad of players and he has moulded them into a stronger talented fighting force. The worry with selling centre back Harry Maguire was that the defence would be significantly weakened however it has proved quite the opposite with Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans forming a solid centre-back duo which is both confident and capable. As was pointed out to me this week on the Leicester training pitch and then again at the King Power Stadium, only Liverpool and Leicester have conceded a mere five goals this season. Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell are settled in as full-backs, Harvey Barnes has come through the academy ranks to claim a striking role and Jamie Vardy is once again firing on all cylinders. The remarkable transformation of Leicester in 2018/19 is clear to see because their most creative player, James Maddison, was injured last weekend and yet Leicester still demolished Newcastle. Leicester fans can once again dream of great things and the terraces these days are louder, inspired and full of hope and expectation. Oh, and by the way, Leicester currently have two more points than they did at this stage in the season when they won the league!
Calvert-Lewin believes in himself
Despite a 3-1 home loss to Manchester City, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is convinced he can be the striker to replace Romelu Lukaku who left the Toffees in 2017. Calvert-Lewin scored Everton’s token goal in last weekend’s loss and also netted Everton’s two goals in the win against Sheffield Wednesday in the Carabao Cup. He said in a break from training, “I am convinced I am going to score more goals. I am up and running now and it was only a matter of time before I started scoring. My first was against Bournemouth and for me, it is all about scoring.”
Bid for Newcastle not good
My inside information from Newcastle is that the rumoured bid for the club by former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon is not a good deal for owner Mike Ashley. I am told that the bid, which has not been officially received as yet, is full of problems for Ashley and he will never accept the bid in its current form. I also understand that a 46 page brochure sent out by the prospective bidding team explaining the bid is full of made-up facts and full of mistakes. Ashley wants £350million for the club but will accept £175million as a down payment with £175million paid over three years. Watch this space as the saying goes.
Fabianski out for 3 months
West Ham says that Lukasz Fabianski is likely to be out of the team for three months due to a damaged hip sustained in the match against Bournemouth. I am told that manager Manuel Pellegrini was hoping to have the keeper back in action after next week’s international break but that isn’t possible. Fabianski’s No2 Adrian joined Liverpool during the summer so Spanish club Espanyol’s free agent Roberto will start and step up as No1 for the foreseeable future.