By far he story of the season of the EFL Championship is that the Wolves are in leading position and are marching towards promotion to the Premier League after they played in the League One only four years ago.In their return seasons they weren’t near the promotion places,but this season everything has changed for the club from the Black Country,under former Valencia and Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo not just only they exceeded their expectations but put themselves into pole position for automatic promotion.Founded in 1877,the Wolves are one of the staples of football in the West Midlands which this season is only represented by Stoke City in the Premier League,but the Wolves might join them next season.During their history the Wolves had shiny moments especially in the 1950s when during the decade under their former player and manager Stan Cullis who coached the Wolves from 1948 to 1964 two FA Cups (1948 against Leicester City and 1960 against Blackburn Rovers) and three First Division titles (1954,1958 and 1959) with being runners- up in 1950,1955 and 1960.Also under Cullis was a generation of players which included Billy Wright,Johnny Hancocks,Jimmy Mullens,Bert Williams who made the Wolves the finest club of West Midlands and established a dominance which lasted for a decade.And after a brife revival in the 1970s under Bill McGarry where they made it to the final of the UEFA Cup in 1972 and won the Football League Cup in 1974 the Wolves disappeared for good and went into the wilderness and became a yo-yo club in English football like countless others who couldn’t compete against the big money spenders.The latest Wolves resurgence comes after disastrous decade which saw them going from the Premier League to League One in two seasons which marked one of the worst periods of the club where three coaches led the Wolves from being relegated to the League One.Under Kenny Jacket eventually the Wolves began to climb back ot the Championship where they won a record 103 points in the League One which was more than enough to make a quick return to the Championship they in their return season they almost made to the playoffs but finished 7th,in the following seasons the Wolves were mediocre by finishing 14th and 15th.The club after a turbolent 2016-17 season where Walter Zenga and Paul Lambert were on the bench turned the tables and brought Nuno Espirito Santo which brought the Wolves on the pole position.And it isn’t just the Portuguese on the bench who one of the factors why the Wolves are leading,there is the reason that the Wolves are injury-free and can land their strongest 11 on the field,also there is the most notably the roster.For years the Wolves lost their best players and quality recruitments were few or nothing,thanks to super-agent Jorge Mendes the Wolves signed Leo Bonatini who is Wolves’s top scorer this season and one of the best attackers in the Championship who in the next seasons might move to bigger clubs and Diogo Jota on loan from Atletico Madrid who proved to be deadly as well by scoring 11 goals this season and there is the Scottish defender Barry Douglas brought from Konyaspor.The Wolves made a good start of the season by winning their first three matches but it was at he end of the October that the Wolves began their run when for almost three months where undefeated and collected 33 out of 42 points which launched them to the top of the EFL Championship nine points cleatr from another yo-yo club from the Rams of Derby County.But the Wolves are stronger than the Rams at the moment and their match at the Molineux comes in April which will be truly a Midlands clash which reveal who is the best in the whole of the Midlands.But for now the Wolves which wait for their return to the Premier League since 2012 are howling stronger than ever before and a return to the Premier League seems more likely by each day passes.
It has become a repeated theme for Hamburg,but again it is panic time when it comes to the Dinos and again it is the relegation battle.After the first half of the season the Dinos are sitting at 17th place which sents them into the 2.Bundesliga which will be their first regelegation in history after 58 years of Bundesliga football.The last couple of seasons have been horrible for the Dinos,since 2010 they hadn’t played in Europe and the last five seasons were a nightmare with constantly engaging in relegation battles and too close to call moments which made the Dinos a club like a cat with nine lives.But the question is that run of saving itself from relegation over?There is a lot of money being made in the Bundesliga besides the league is dominated by Bayern,but for a club like Hamburg which has history and tradition to be relegated would be a shame and disgrace,but also a huge financial loss,but also a needed reckoning.When it comes to the Dinos it is all about tradition,the Dinos are the only club which hasn’t been relegated but in the last five seasons was so close to be so only to be saved by too many miracles.In fact with its name Hamburg shouldn’t be fighting to survive but thrive,but bad decisions in the club management have crippled the Dinos and made them every season’s favorite club to be relegated from the Bundesliga.The club doesn’t have any big names in the roster,but has something in Aaron Hunt who is the best player in the roster and the only decent playmaker in the midfield and Kyriakos Papadopulos who emerged this season as the leader in the club who is willing to fight till the end.The rest of the roster is not good,the summer signings weren’t spectacular Sead Salihovic,Rick von Drongelen,Andre Hahn and Sven Shipplock aren’t names which would scare the Dinos opponents.The Dinos season started with a horrible 3-1 defeat against 3.Liga opponent VFL Osnabruck in the first round of the DFB Pokal which was a nightmare start to the season and the nightmare continued in the Bundesliga where after a promising start in the first two matches it went all down for the Dinos.From the beginning of September to the beginning of November in eight matches they collected a single point which was a 0-0 draw in the Nordderby against Werder Bremen who are also on the brink of relegation this season and a necessary breath of fresh air came in a 3-1 over Stuttgart in the beginning of November and together with a 3-0 victory against Hoffenheim at the end of November gave some hope that it would go to the better,but it never did.The Dinos are occupying 17th place and Markus Gisdol’s job at the bench is hanging at the balance if the things can’t get better than there are now besides Gisdol signed a contract extension to 2019,but everyone knows he will be out before the season’s end and he will be the Dinos 16th coach in the last ten seasons which shows how bad the situation at the club.But the Dinos need to start all over again from the ground and stop putting band aids which is frustrating the club’s fans with constant relegation battles.With the 2nd part of the season beginning in two days where the Dinos are heading to Bavaria to play against Augsburg to start another relegation fight.The looming question is will Hamburg avoid the relegation to the 2.Bundesliga and keep the clock ticking at its Volksparkstadion or the Dinos ruly ran out of luck and are going to be relegated for the first time in the history?
The current Serie A season has been one of the most exiciting in years since Juventus isn’t at the top of the table but it is Napoli which has a single point advatage in front of the bianconeri and both are in a neck and neck race for the Serie A title,while Inter and Roma with their recent slumps are more and more behind them and are struggling to get back in the title race.The Serie A has been dominated by clubs from Northern Italy most notably by the Milan clubs and Juventus with Torino,the Genovese clubs (Genoa and Sampdoria) and Torino making their shining moments in the past in a time when money wasn’t huge factor like it is today.With its wealth Northern Italian clubs were only rivaled by the clubs from Rome (Roma and Lazio) which for couldn’t take away the Serie A title for the last 17 years when Roma last time won the Serie A.Meanwhile,south of Rome an impoverished Southern Italy it is waiting for its moment of glory it has passed 28 since Napoli won its second Serie A title,but this might be changing this year.After fim mogul Aurelio De Laurentis bought the club in 2004,the Partenopei began their rise through the ranks of Italian football again which has been speeded up in the last of couple of seasons where the Partenopei finished among the top in the Serie A,but this season under Sarri they are dreaming to break the monopol of the bianconeri which for the last six seasons have been dominating the Serie A and to return the title to the South after almost three decades of waiting.The Partenopei by far play the best football in Europe where they scored 42 goals,conceded 13 with an atomic attack consisting of Callejon,Insigne and Mertens while Hamsik has been upping his form in recent matches where he just recently surpassed the legendary Diego Maradona as the club’s all-time top scorer and probably will surpass Giuseppe Bruscolotti as the club’s player in the all-time appearance list in the following seasons if Hamsik doesn’t make a transfer move which is highly unlikely at the moment.Stading on their way to win their first title since 1990 are the bianconeri which this season finally got the competition which was absent in recent years,for the last six season the bianoconeri have become so dominant in the Serie A that no club could put a serious roadblock on their dominance,with the wealth of the Agnelli family the bianconeri have built a dynasty which they did try to translate it into European success which ended in a heartbreaks in Berlin and Cardiff against both Spanish giants.However the Serie A has become on the focus again this season and the there are cracks in the bianconeri since they hadn’t led the Serie A table for the current season which doesn’t spell good for the title defence hopes.Nevertheless the picked up the necessary speed,they picked up a 16 out of 18 points in their last six matches which included a 1-0 at the San Paolo against the Partenopei thanks to a goal scored by Higuain which probably saved bianconeri’s season and combined with Inter’s bad form,the bianconeri are in chase to win their seventh consecutive title in a season where Gianluigi Buffon will make his retirement from football and what an ending of a career would be for Buffon to lift the title for one more time.But it won’t be an easy task since the Serie A has taken so far many twists and turns and both clubs know it.For Napoli it will be history to bring back the title to the South after 28 years,for Juventus a seventh consecutive title will confirm the their dynasty and Allegri will pick up another title which will put him close on a par with the legendary Marcello Lippi.There is a lot at stake for both clubs in the their first meeting a month ago,Higuain scored a crucial goal which has saved the bianconeri’s season and their next meeting is at the end of April in a crucial end of season decider at the Allianz Stadium in Torino,until then expect every single match for both clubs will be crucial to hang on their hopes on continuing the title race.
To readers of my blog,Happy New Year
To all readers of my blog, Merry Christmas
As the World prepares to celebrate Christmas Day and the birth of Jesus Christ which this year falls on Monday,a majority of football leagues across Europe are currently on a long-lasting winter break which will see in some cases action resuming in the beginning of March.However there are football leagues like in England,Scotland,Italy,Spain and other countries which plan to continue without stopping after New Years Day.But also it raisies the question of football on Christmas Day which today is a free day for the players and the fans taking to spend a day with their families,but once upon a time football on Christmas Day was a staple of football fans in the UK.As early as 1888 football was featured on Christmas Day and it was in a time when there was very few options of entertainment unlike today.One of the first football clubs which played fixtures on Christmas Day was Everton who actually played two matches on Christmas Day-one in the morning against Blackburn in Lancashire Cup and and in the afternoon against Ulster FC in an exhibition match,the first Football League match on Christmas Day was played a year later when Preston North End played against Aston Villa in front of 9000 fnas who that day postponed their turkeys to see a hard-fought 3-2 victory of Preston at Deepdale.From that point football on Christmas Day became a tradition and involved derby matches which in some cases ended in fullscale riots like the 1890 derby between Blackburn Rovers and Darwen,but as the Football League expanded in the early 1900s clubs and fans had to travel longer distances so they had to take trains and buses which meant to play the same opponent on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day.But also produced tragedies,in the 1909 match between Patrick Thistle and Hibernian which was played on a pitch covered with ice resulted the deah of Hibernian defender James Main who after was involved in a slippery clash with Frank Branscombe had a ruptured bowel and an emergency operation couldn’t save him.By far the most famous match played on Christmas Day came during WWI on the Western Front between British and German soldiers no mans land in a rare picture of fraternazation and solidarity between enemy soldiers on both sides during the bloodiest conflict in human history in that time.As WWI ended football on Christmas Day returned and was very lucrative for the clubs but not for the players who a large number of them were heavy drinkers,one of those cases was Clapton Orient which in 1931 played a match against Bournemouth which featured a drunk team of Clapton Orient players who lost only 2-1,but sobered up on Boxing Day to win the rematch 1-0.Football on Christmas Day became so popular it boomed both during WWII and in the post-war period,in 1949,five years after WWII ended when the popularity of football was it its peak almost 3.5 million fans attended the Christmas programme of three matches over four days.Fans from both clubs would join together and sing carols before the kick-off and share around cigars,match programmes were adorned with the springs of holly and contained the season’s greetings from the club directors,players and staff.Football on Christmas Day wasn’t just limited on the UK,in continental Europe and and South America in a much lesser scale football was on the Christmas Day programme.However the tradition of playing on Christmas Day began to wane in the mid-to-late 1950s with the arivall of floodlights and evening matches.Christmas Day 1956 was a true white Christmas since so much snow has fallen that kept many spectators at home while Coventry City match at Newport was abandoned due to a snowstorm and so the skyblues became “the club which Santa Claus forgot”.Christmas Day 1957 was the last Christmas Day with a full Football League programme and the last time a match of the Football League was played on Christmas Day happened on the 25th of December 1965 when Blackburn Rovers played Blackpool in which the Rovers won 4-2 while in Scotland football on Christmas Day was featured until 1976.Still in Northern Ireland there is the tradition of football on Christtmas Day where Steel and Sons Cup is held every Christmas Day.Christmas Day football is truly one of the lost vintage gems of British football which is remembered to this day.
It isn’t the red part of Manchester which will be celebrating its first title in the post-Ferguson era,but it will be the skyblue part which will lift the title in May.Sixteen consecutive Premier League victories,52 points which is 11 more than the red devils which entered the season in a much better position than the skyblues,56 goals scored and only 12 conceded.Only those basic statistics show how the skyblues are dominant this season and the hiring of Pep Guardiola at the bench after his first season where the skyblues finished third has paid off this season.The dominance of the skyblues can be looked at the results this season,in September the skyblues trounced Liverpool at home 5-0 which included two goals from former Schalke midfielder Leroy Sane and the future of Brazilian football Gabriel Jesus,Watford 6-0 at Vicarage Road where Aguero scored a hattrick and Crystal Palace at home 5-0 where Sterling scored twice,while they achieved hard fought victories against Chelsea and Huddersfield Town away,a 7-2 trouncing came at home against Stoke City at the beginning of October.In the last two matches the skyblues have managed 0-4 and 4-1 victories against Swansea and Tottenham which made to many mistakes by letting the match to be a battle in the midfieldIn short Guardiola has put the missing pieces together and made the skyblues an unstoppable machine which is cruising to its fifth league title.If the skyblues win two more matches against Bournemouth and Newcastle they could tie the record of the original Invincibles of Preston North End which in the 1888-89 season had a 18-0 record and they can go even further since after Bournemouth and Newcastle there are matches against Crytal Palace and Watford,the only tough opponent will be Liverpool in the middle of January.But the skyblues will be in fight for other trophies as well,in the FA Cup the skyblues will face Burnley,in the League Cup after they won against Leicester after penalty shootouts in the quarterfinals,they away it their semifinal opponents and in the Champions League they are going to make a trip to Swtzerland to face FC Basel.So it awaits the skyblues a busy and an exhausting schedule something which Guardiola is familair with since he led both FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich to multiple titles in a season with a difference that he didn’t won the Bavarians the Champions League,but he can replicate his success with the skyblues which have stumbled too many times in Europe,but with Guardiola on the bench they have the necessary pieces to go all the way in the final in Kiev something which Sheik Mansour has wanted ever since he entered the club a decade ago when the skyblues began their rapid climb from an obscure club to the top of the world which caused a lot of criticism and the with the current state of title run if history is any guide than the skyblues have the race to love to themselves since the tough matches against Arsenal and Chelsea come at the end of February and in the beginning of March,while the deby with the red devils comes at the beginning of April,but the skyblues shouldn’t take it easy since the Premier League is filled with potential landmines and how far they go in other competitions it could stretch the squad,something which recently former red devils striker Dwight York suggested that the skyblues can fall in form and the title race might rekindle again,currently there are no signs of it and if anything Guardiola is doing is taking precaution since the EPL isn’t like the Bundesliga or the La Liga where he beat both Real Madrid and Borrusia Dortmund to win titles and he experienced how tough is the EPL in his first season in charge of the skyblues where they finished third and besides that his side is unstoppable,Guardiola is down to earth going match after match but most notably he doesn’t believe he can replicate the success he had with the blaugrana since there are factors which work against that since it is hard to compare the La Liga and the EPL and the blaugrana tema he had coached and the skyblues he is currently coaching and besides Leo Messi was a desire of Sheik Mansour he will not come to Manchester since he signed another contract extension with the blaugrana,something which Sheik Mansour hoped that with the coming of Guardiola he would reunite him and Messi.But from the current roster of the skyblues they have more than a decent squad to win the EPL,the only question remains can anyone stop them to wrap up the title after holidays are over?