The Race for Jurgen Klopp

With not long to go in the Premier League now as we pass mid April, the race is hotting up for the charismatic manager of Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp. As it looks certain that the likes of Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal will stay at their clubs for the 2015/16 season, there are strong chances that Manuel Pellegrini could well be sacked and there could be the slightest, slightest chance that Arsene Wenger may finally chose to retire as Arsenal boss, and after strong showings last season from their clubs, safety isn’t wrapped up for Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rogers. Therefore, all four sides will be closely keeping an eye on the German.

Klopp started out his career as a manager in 2001, taking charge of FSV Mainz 05 up until 2008. During his 7 year reign he lead them into the Bundesliga for the first time, and even guided them to qualification for the 2005-2006 UEFA Cup. Unfortunately, the following season  they were relegated from the Bundesliga, and after failing to gain promotion after that Klopp resigned as head coach.

Shortly after in May 2008 he was approached by Borussia Dortmund and signed a two year contract with a club. He got underway in style by defeating rivals Bayern Munich to clinch the Supercup, and after last seasons disappointment under Thomas Doll in which they finished 13th, Klopp improved their position by 7 places, leading them to finish 6th. There was also steady improvement the next season as they finished 5th before successive league titles transformed the club in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. In 2012-2013, Dortmund had begun well known around the world  and their fan base was increasing, and despite only managing to finish second behind Bayern Munich, a fantastic run to the Champions League final including to victories against Real Madrid saw them come agonisingly close to just their second ever European Cup title, (after their win against Juventus in 1997) as they lost 2-1 to Bayern again after Arjen Robben’s late winner. The next season was not quite as thrilling as the finished second in the Bundesliga again and despite winning the second leg 2-0, crashed out in the quarter finals of the Champions League to Real Madrid in a 2-3 aggregate defeat. This season however has been a lot, lot worse, as after 29 games, they sit just 8th and went out to  Juventus in the round of 16 of the Champions League, and after this poor year, on  the 15th April, Klopp announced that he will be leaving Dortmund at the end of this season.

After much speculation it seems as if he may be going to the Premier League and Manchester City are currently the favourites to land the crazy manager, but expect this one to go right down to the wire; and the question is, where will Jurgen Klopp be next season?

Biggest Top Four Race in Years

After the recent midweek matches, the top end of the table makes for interesting reading. And I’m not talking about Chelsea and Manchester City. I’m talking about how there is a 5 point gap between 3rd place and 7th. This means that, in theory, in two weeks time, Liverpool, who haven’t been near the top four position-wise all season, could jump from 7th to 3rd. That is how tight things are in the race for the Champions League at the moment. 5 or 6 teams are all vying for a spot in the biggest competition in Europe, and every single team has a chance. No team ever seems to be safe when they have reached the top four this season though, with West Ham being a classic example. Not so long ago this season, the hammers were in the top four and things were looking very cosy, but, within just 2 or 3 defeats, they were down to 8th, 4 points away from 7th place. That shows how if you want to be a top team you’ve got to keep on winning, which is what teams like Arsenal and Manchester United are capable of doing. But that doesn’t mean we should rule out Southampton.

They have shown that when the team is fit and firing at all cylinders, they can beat anyone on their day, but injuries and key players not performing at times this season has lead to them sliding down the table very quickly. But one, credit to them for one getting this far, and two showing that they will only be satisfied with European football, and even 6th place will be a disappointment. But, their midweek draw once again proves that even  the tiniest of slip ups, like missing one good chance (in their midweek game against West Ham) can affect your season massively.

In terms of Manchester United, they are the favourites to come 3rd, and will be tough to beat, so a good run of games could put them in a great position and leave it to the rest of the teams to battle for 4th. But they need to be wary of the other sides, as one or two slip ups could cost them, and Arsenal, Southampton, Tottenham and Liverpool will be ready to pounce.

All 5 teams have their strengths and weaknesses,  and Harry Kane is definitely one of Tottenham Hotspur’s strengths. The 21 year-old is likely to be selected for England the next time the chance comes, and in 2015, has scored as many league goals as Lionel Messi (8), and double as many as Cristiano Ronaldo (4). He has also already in this year won the January player of the month, and won the North London derby with two goals to beat Arsenal.

So, with 13 games left this season, it is still all to play for. But, the question is, who do you think will make the top four?

Derby Day

On another dramatic and exciting Saturday of English football, two huge derbies took place, both significant in each teams season, and their pride. In the early kick-off, we saw Tottenham turn around a 1-0 deficit to go on and win the match 2-1, thanks largely to their 21 year-old wonderkid Harry Kane. In the later kick-off however, in a tight game at Goodison Park, the score finished at 0-0. Elsewhere at the 3o’clock kick-offs, a late winner from Sadio Mane secured a 1-0 win at QPR, a 1-1 draw between Hull and Manchester City, a 2-1 victory for Chelsea against Aston Villa, a 1-1 draw between Sunderland and Swansea and a win for Crystal Palace over struggling Leicester.

Looking at the North-London derby between Spurs and Arsenal, after Ozil had opened the scoring with a nice finish for his third goal in three games, 21 year-old Harry Kane kept up his fine record in front of goal this season with two great goals, further encouraging his possible selection for England. Roy Hodgson was of course in the crowd to see, and he would have been very impressed with Kane’s second goal in particular, a stunning header to beat David Ospina at the far post. His fighting spirit and technical ability to score goals, the English youngster is starting to become a Robin Van Persie style penalty box predator.

In yesterday’s other games, there was a bit of hope for Aston Villa, with there first goal in 10 hours and 59 minutes surprisingly came against the mighty Chelsea of all teams. Other moments of note would be Jermain Defoe’s second goal since returning to the Premier League, and Sadio Mane’s cool finish in the 93rd minute to seal a hard fought win for Southampton over QPR at Loftus Road.