Awesome Foursome Guardiola in a class above the rest

Guardiola is quite a genius who understands the game, the players and works tirelessly on football strategies, ideas and improvements.

In Summary

•After a private dinner on Friday evening with Chelsea owner Todd Boehly, Mauricio Pochettino knew it was time to walk away from Stamford Bridge.

•Chelsea want a coach and not a manager who gets involved in transfers and other business within the club.

Manchester City winger Jack Grealish with manager Pep Guardiola
Manchester City winger Jack Grealish with manager Pep Guardiola

Congratulations to the whole Manchester City Club on winning the Premier League title for a record fourth consecutive year.

There are many excellent football coaches in the world. Then there is Pep Guardiola. The man is, quite simply, a footballing genius who understands the game, understands players and works tirelessly on football strategies, ideas and improvements.

Having spoken to Pep many times, I can tell you that he lives and breathes football. When I mention your country, your newspaper, your players, your readers, whom I am proud to write for, he feasts on every word, drinking in the knowledge and storing it away in his brain.

When a Saturday afternoon game is over the team and assistants say their goodbyes ready to have a day off before meeting up for an analysis of the match, won or lost, on Monday morning bright and early.

On Sunday morning all those players and staff enjoy a day of leisure with families and friends. Not Pep…on Sunday morning he sits down on his large sprawling sofa at home and replays the match from the previous day, writing furiously, noting the good plays, the mistakes, the build-ups and analysing defence and attack. The man lives for football and he is the best there is.

Chelsea: A lesson in stupidity and chaos

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino
Image: FILE

After a private dinner on Friday evening with Chelsea owner Todd Boehly, Mauricio Pochettino knew it was time to walk away from Stamford Bridge. Nothing about the future of Chelsea was discussed at the dinner and neither was Mauricio told he would be leaving four days later.

The meal was cordial without being over-friendly. Boehly knew what was coming and Pochettino guessed correctly. Mauricio Pochettino walked into Stamford Bridge only eleven months ago. During that time he has held together a chaotic club.

Players were brought in by American owners who did not understand Premier League football and after eight months of dealing with difficult situations and suffocating, interfering management he finally started to produce results—five wins in a row to finish the season, sixth place in the league and he delivered European football for next season.

I can reveal that the staff have recognised that the American owners want a coach who would improve young players signed on long contracts.

The owners, used to working in American football clubs, did not realise that Premier League players move around clubs much more frequently and in Europe.

Chelsea want a coach and not a manager who gets involved in transfers and other business within the club.

I have long felt the coaches were operating with one hand tied behind their backs and the person it affected most was Pochettino.

Just lately there seemed to be a calmer more organised approach and the players were more comfortable as Pochettino’s vision began bearing fruit. The next season was one to look forward to. Now the club is back to square one.

So what do the owners do now they have let this talented coach walk away? Many will say he was pushed but most will say he had endured enough of management meddling.

The influx of players bought and presented to Pochettino was comparable to giving someone a jigsaw which had so many abstract pieces that many of them did not fit together.

It took Pochettino eight months to sort those players out. He also built a platform for Cole Palmer, who loves playing for him and made him one of the league’s best performers this season.

Two standout candidates to replace Pochettino are ex-Brighton coach Roberto De Zerbi but he is a clever man who will recognise the obstacles laid by the management.

Ipswich Town’s Kieran McKenna is a rising star and much sought after but he would be foolish to entrust his so far golden career to this club who will treat him only as a puppet.

Remember that it was the excellent Graham Potter who lasted no time at all with the new Chelsea management.

He too had to cope with maximum interference from Boehly and co and was ignored for much of his time at Stamford Bridge.

I don’t usually write such strong, critical pieces but the treatment of Mauricio Pochettino is appalling.

Pochettino’s life will for a while be focused on his family before the big clubs of Europe come beating on his door.

He has not seen his parents in Argentina for five years and he plans to travel to see them and he also wants to visit his son who lives near Barcelona.

I wish him well— he is a very genuine man, courteous, charming and polite and if he ends up at Bayern, Real Madrid or another notable team he will show the current Chelsea management what real coaching and football are all about.

Arsenal to back Arteta by spending on new talent

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Image: FILE

I genuinely feel sympathy for Arsenal fans who have just failed to win the title for the second year but coach Mikel Arteta says they are getting closer and will win the elite trophy very soon.

Arsenal chiefs will back Mikel in the transfer market as co-chairman Josh Kroenke vowed, “No one at the club will stand still.” The Gunners are targeting a new defender, midfielder and striker.

The priority is a striker and RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko is top on Arsenals' list. Arsenal say his £55m release clause will not be a problem as it expires at the end of June.

Arteta’s team scored a club-record of 91 goals this season but still, the coach wants a stronger striker. There is competition from Chelsea, Manchester United and several European clubs who are also interested in signing the 20-year-old Slovenian international.

Leipzig are known to want to keep Sesko for another season and plan to offer him a new contract but he has his eyes set on the Premier League and the 6ft 4ins scorer of 14 goals this season will make a decision in the next few weeks.

Arsenal’s other priority is to bring in a midfielder to play alongside Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard. Amadou Onana, Bruno Guimaraes and Martin Zubimendi are all under consideration.

Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale will probably move to Newcastle as he is unlikely to win back his No1 status from David Raya. Brentford have agreed to let Raya sign permanently for Arsenal following his loan period and I understand the price will be £27m.

Finally, Jorrel Hato is only 18 but has already captained Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie league and his excellent defensive performances have attracted interest from clubs all over Europe.

The season in a nutshell…

The 2023/4 season was exceptional by any standards, exciting, unpredictable, full of controversy and spectacular football. Here are a few Premier League facts from that incredible season:

Top scorer: Erling Haaland scored the most goals with 27. 606 goals were scored with the right foot, 381 goals with the left and 203 headed goals.

Total goals scored: 1,246! 1007 goals were scored inside the box, 132 outside the box, 11 scored from free kicks and 96 from penalties.

Chelsea won more penalties than any other club – 12. Arsenal scored the most goals from set pieces – 22. Nottingham Forest conceded most goals from set pieces – 23.

Liverpool were top of the league for 87 days, Man City for 78 days and Arsenal for 76 days. Man City won the most prize money: £143.3 million. Liverpool won the most points at home: 48.

Man City won the most away games picking up 44 points. Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa made the most assists - 13. The most goalkeeping clean sheets were won by Arsenal’s David Raya with 16.

Sheffield leaked a record 104 goals against them. Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi made more changes than any other coach to his starting 11 with 143.

More than 14 million fans attended matches this season with the largest crowd being at Manchester United with 73,532.

Arne will slot in nicely at Anfield

Arne Slot
Arne Slot

Newly appointed coach of Liverpool Arne Slot is, according to outgoing legend Jurgen Klopp, the perfect replacement.

Slot will take over in a few weeks and he will be given extra support from chief executive Michael Edwards, technical director Julian Ward and new sporting director Richard Hughes.

Klopp worked closely with Edwards and Ward during his eight and half years at Anfield.

Klopp said Slot has his support 100% commenting, “People worry about the future but I do not. I am thinking ‘My goodness’ how will it go? No, No, it is fine.”

Klopp also said his resignation was much harder than leaving Mainz and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and he does not intend to coach any other club in the Premier League in the future because of his loyalty to Liverpool.

Kyle feels great and revels in training

Manchester City captain Kyle Walker says he still has plenty left in the tank as he joked running back to the dressing room, “I’m getting too old for this!” Several commentators have questioned how long Kyle can keep playing top-level football in the world’s premier team.

I would point out that he can still run faster than most elite players when chasing down a ball. He said this week, “I feel young. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I still feel like I have got my pace. I come to training every day so willing to learn.

I have been part of this club and foundation now since 2017. From the moment I walked into standing here now, I relish going to training.”

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker in action during a recent match
Manchester City defender Kyle Walker in action during a recent match

Trip Advisor criticises Newcastle’s Australian matches

As clubs flew to far-off destinations for their summer camps and tournaments, England defender Kieran Trippier criticised his club Newcastle for their decision to travel to Australia only three days after the season ended.

Two friendlies against Tottenham and the A-League All Stars were “Not ideal,” said Trippier.

He pointed out that after a 51-game season with the European Championship finals and Copa America starting at the beginning of June, many players needed a rest.

Trippier will be among club-mates Anthony Gordon, Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes together with Tottenham’s James Maddison, Richarlison, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero who will link up with their international squads after a 21,000-mile round trip for the matches.

The trip to Australia was a homecoming for Tottenham coach Ange Postecoglou who grew up in Melbourne.

Japan is the next stop for Newcastle on July 31st where they play two games against local teams.

City could be without De Bryune and Guardiola for 12 months

Kevin De Bruyne’s contract is up in 2025. He does not employ an agent to conduct negotiations with clubs and relies on his ability.

A report has come to light which claims that Man City are not certain to offer him an extended contract as he will be 33 years of age in June.

Saudi clubs Al Nassr and Al-Ittihad and several European clubs are watching for developments later in the year.

If either Kevin or City decide not to pen a new deal I am told the Saudi League will offer a fee somewhere around £ 50 million.

Pep Guardiola, despite claiming otherwise, is known to be in touch with his friend and former employer the Barcelona club president Joao Laporta to eventually replace club legend Xavi.

However, Guardiola is aware that Barca does not have the financial muscle of previous years which would hinder his plans for improving the team. This is of course football gossip but certainly from very reliable sources but anything could happen.

Could be time to take off for MIG the fighter

Saudi club Al-Shabab have revived their interest in Newcastle winger Miguel Almiron who is renowned for his energy and pressing style.

Word is that the Black & Whites are ready to sell the winger signed from MLS club Atlanta United in January 2019.

A deal almost went through with Al-Shabab in January but it ultimately failed. Newcastle are looking to raise funds to strengthen and must sell players before bringing in others to keep within the financial fair play rules.

De Zerbi leaves Brighton under a cloud

Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi
Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi
Image: FILE

Most supporters and staff at Brighton & Hove Albion are sad their successful coach Roberto De Zerbi has left. De Zerbi was wrong to speak out and criticise the direction of the club and its major shareholder Frank Bloom.

Brighton is known to be well-run and they buy and sell wisely and re-invest in the club and recruitment. It is felt that De Zerbi was setting the stage himself aiming at being invited to manage a bigger club and he had eyes on Liverpool and Manchester United.

The problem for me is that Brighton have drawn up a list to replace the coach and top of their list is the Ipswich Town coach Kieran McKenna who has taken my Suffolk club up from League One to the Premier League in two seasons and we certainly do not want to lose him.

Ipswich look to strengthen for the Premier League

Ipswich Town CEO Mark Ashton has already started working closely with his team to plan the club’s return to the Premier League.

The Town owners have a lot of money and have pledged to improve the training facilities and the stadium for supporters which currently holds 30,000 fans.

In addition, the owners, American private equity fund Bright Path Sports Partners, have given Ashton a large war chest of funds to attract three big players to strengthen the side.

Top of the list is Chelsea’s Omari Hutchinson who had a very successful loan period with the Tractor Boys last season.

Ipswich are being careful to avoid the fate of last season’s three promoted clubs, Sheffield United, Burnley and Luton, all of which have been relegated after only 12 months.